Guests: Charles Melancon, Ed Overton, Philippe Cousteau, Kathleen Parker,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews in
Washington. Leading off tonight-too cool for school. For all of those
who think President Obama isn't showing enough emotion, that his approach
to the Gulf old disaster is too antiseptic and academic, here's what he
said on "Today Show" when Matt Lauer said people believe it's time for the
president to kick some butt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And I don't sit around just talking to experts
because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they
potentially have the best answers so I know whose ass to kick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, the White House just announced that President
Obama will be heading down to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida-all on
the coast-on Monday and Tuesday. The president has good reason to be
angry, of course. We've learned two things today.
One is that plumes of oil are spreading far and wide below the surface
down there in the Gulf. The other is that neither BP nor the government
really has any idea how much oil is leaking or even whether the latest
effort to cap the leak made matters much worse. We'll go to the scene for
the answers tonight.
Plus, it's a big primary day today. Voters go to the polls in 12
states, and the biggest story may be that what's good for Tea Party
republicans may wind up costing the republican party seats it might
The sleaziest race is in South Carolina where the polls just closed.
In that state, there are charges of multiple infidelities by the
frontrunner and now people are taking lie detector tests. Check out the
And "Let Me Finish" tonight by acknowledging the huge change we're
seeing in politics inspired by Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. And a
reminder, we'll be covering primary voting all night tonight. We'll be
back tonight at midnight for a late-night edition on "HARDBALL."
Let's start with the president's response to the Gulf disaster. U.S.
Congressman Charlie Melancon is a Louisiana democrat. Sir, let me ask you
to watch with me. Here's the president on NBC's "Today" program-Matt
Lauer interviewing the president. Let's catch the question and the answer
for full context. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: Here's a guy who likes to be known as cool and
calm and collected, and this isn't the time for cool, calm and collected.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
LAUER: That this is not the time to meet with experts and advisers.
This is the time to spend more time in the Gulf-and I never thought I
would say this to a president-but kick some butt. And I don't mean it
to be funny.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I understand and here's what I-I'm going to push
back hard on this because I think that this is a-just a-an idea that
got in folks' heads and the media has run with it.
I was down there a month ago before most of these talking heads were
even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with
fishermen down there, standing in the rain, talking about what a potential
crisis this could be and I don't sit around just talking to experts because
this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially
have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Melancon, I can't tell whether the
president is madder at people like me, the talking heads-I guess I'm one
of them-or he's madder at the oil spill. But he seems to be reacting,
and that's what scares a lot of people. He seems to be reacting to media
attention, to Matt Lauer in that case, with the use of the language which
is a bit unpresidential.
What do you make of his performance so far, Congressman? You're down
there. You're one of the victims.
REP. CHARLIE MELANCON (D-LA): Well, he started off as a president
should, calm, collected, trying to assist as best he could. On his third
visit down-and I told him Friday before he went to Grand Isle, I had
been there the day before. These people feel like they've been kicked in
the gut and then it behind the head with a baseball bat.
They're mad, they're angry. This is their high season. You've got BP
that's nitpicking them on $5,000 for shrimper or fishermen, that doesn't
get them anywhere. That doesn't even start to pay the house notes or put
food on the table or do anything else.
So you've got-the anger is building. The frustration is building.
The uncertainty is building. So what I think you see now is a president
who has been down there three times. The first time of course that
excitement right at the beginning. The second time, people still not sure,
but hopeful, we're pinning hope on hope on each one of these procedures-
the coffer dam, the top hat, the junk shot, you know all of that. But they
had some plans out there.
And then of course this last time, where everything seems to be
falling apart or at least not working. And getting to see and talk to the
people on the ground, at a point where they've had enough. I don't know
how much they can really take.
And this builds from Katrina five years ago. This is not something
that just started 40 or 50 days ago. This is an accumulation of incidents
MATTHEWS: Okay. Congressman, who are you looking to to help lead the
country? The president or Tony Hayward, head of BP? Who's the boss?
MELANCON: Well, I'm going to tell you, I think Tony Hayward needs to
go back to Great Britain, and I think maybe this morning I heard on the
news that Billy Nungesser feels like the guy they just sent down there is a
guy that he feels he can trust.
I hope so because when Tony Hayward said I need to get a life-those
11 people that died on the rig, their families would like for them to have
a life. The people that are losing their businesses-they'd like to have
a life. They'd like to know what their future is.
So, right now BP needs to just stand up and instead of paying a $10
billion dividend-which is rumored they are-and a $50 million ad
campaign to protect their image, they need to start paying these small
people down there that are hurting, that are frustrated, that don't know
what the future holds.
MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at the president here today, again on the
"Today Show," talking about BP CEO, Tony Hayward-who you mentioned wants
to get his life back. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUER: Have you spoken directly to Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have not spoken to him directly, and here's the
reason. Because my experience is when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO he's
going to say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm
interested in actions, and we are communicating to him every single day
exactly what we expect of him, and what we expect of that administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? I mean, I think the public is
probably stunned to know that the president-our chief executive-
hasn't talked to the chief executive of the oil company. I'm surprised,
are you surprised, Congressman?
MELANCON: Well, you know, that's between the president and Tony
MATTHEWS: No, it's not. You're a U.S. congressman-
MELANCON: I-I am not-
MATTHEWS: -- and you're a-No. You're a democrat. He's your party
MELANCON: I'm a legislator.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he should have talked to the head of BP? How
do you kick a guy's butt if you're not in the same room with him?
MELANCON: He is the president of the United States and it's his
prerogative whether he thinks he needs to speak to him or not. Thad Allen
needs to be down there taking action on behalf of this administration
making sure that things are done correctly.
MATTHEWS: All right.
MELANCON: He's the general. He's the guy that's the commander in
charge. I look to Thad Allen every day. The president is coming back down
again next week.
But, in the meantime, you know, why do you talk to a Tony Hayward? Is
there anything that's been said by BP that we're supposed to believe? It
was 1,000 barrels and then it was 5,000 barrels and now it's 15,000
barrels. It might be 30,000.
MATTHEWS: You can tell him he's paying for this and forget that
little word of his "legitimate" he likes to throw in whenever there's talk
of claims. You can tell him that. You can get lawyered up all you want.
Your company is either not doing business this country again or you're
paying for all of this.
MELANCON: That's what I'm-
MATTHEWS: Anyway, let me ask you about the chain of command.
MATTHEWS: You're a U.S. congressman. You're a legislator but you
represent that area and it's getting screwed down there. Here's your
question-Do you have a strong sense of the chain of command? You
mentioned Admiral Allen.
He seems like a fine guy to me, a public servant. But he's a public
servant. He's not a politician. He's not elected to run this country.
He's in charge with doing what he's told. Is there a chain of command?
And if so, tell me what it is.
MELANCON: The best thing I can tell you the chain of command is the
president, Admiral Allen and then his assistant, LaPierre and then from
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. That's not what Allen told me.
MELANCON: Well ...
MATTHEWS: Allen told me he reports to Janet Napolitano over at
Homeland Security, one of the least-not exactly one of the top-rated
cabinet departments. He reports to her and she reports somehow to the
This is-where is Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff to the president
in all this? Do you have a sense that the White House is calling the shots
or Admiral Allen is doing it? Who's running this show?
MELANCON: I think that's the-
MATTHEWS: It's not the president.
MELANCON: I-well I think that's a question-
MATTHEWS: Well, you answer.
MELANCON: I think that's the question you need to ask the White House
or Admiral Allen. As I said, I've been down on the ground talking to the
people, trying to find out what their problems are, what their needs are
and whether I can assist them in any way. We've done it with health care -
MATTHEWS: Who do you complain to, Sir, when you want to get help from
the White House and you want to pull their chain?
MELANCON: I go into the White House.
MATTHEWS: Do you call Admiral Allen or one of his assistants, or do
you call Rahm Emanuel? Who do you call?
MELANCON: I've gone to the White House.
MATTHEWS: Who at the White House?
MELANCON: We've gone to Rahm Emanuel for one. And then we've gone to
MATTHEWS: You talked to him? Have you talked to the chief of staff?
MELANCON: Yes, I have, and I've gone to-
MATTHEWS: And are you satisfied that he's in the chain of command?
Are you satisfied there's a strict order of command here?
MELANCON: I don't know if he's in the chain of command. I went to
Rahm Emanuel because I have a relationship with him. I told him what my
problems were. I told him what I wanted to do, and he's helping me set
MELANCON: I went to Kathleen Sebelius because I wanted some help
MATTHEWS: Sounds wobbly to me, Sir. It sounds wobbly. You've
admitted tonight you don't know who's calling the shots, the White House or
MELANCON: It's better than FEMA.
MATTHEWS: Let's move on. Thank you, U.S. Congressman Charlie
MELANCON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I know you felt the emotions. We've seen you cry over
this. We'd like to see something a little more like that from the White
House. Anyway, thank you, Sir, for coming on "HARDBALL" tonight.
MELANCON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, why doesn't BP know how much oil is spilling
into the Gulf? Why don't they give us a ballpark estimate of what we're
facing years to come from now in terms of this oil down there? The federal
government has no better idea. This is what's so depressing. Nobody knows
We'll try to find out what's going on. We've got an expert coming up.
Felipe Gusto is coming here. You're watching "HARDBALL" only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: It's primary night in 12 states-a dozen states tonight
and here's a number from the new "Washington Post" poll that could tell the
story tonight. Only 29 percent of Americans now say they're inclined to
support their member of Congress come November-less than three in 10.
Less than three in 10. It's even lower than it was back in '94 when voters
threw out the House democrats, took them out of power after 40 years in the
Six in 10 say they'll look for someone else. I don't know what that
other 10 is going to do. But three in 10 say-only three in 10 are going
to vote the incumbent. "HARDBALL" returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to "HARDBALL." So why can't we get a straight answer
on how much oil there is in that BP leak, and how much is actually spewing
out there in the Gulf of Mexico? Philippe Cousteau, is an explorer, an
environmentalist and CEO of a non-profit environmental education
Ed Overton is environmental science professor at LSU. Professor, let
me ask you the question-do you, when you look at all the data that's
been made available have any idea of how many barrels of oil are now out
there in the Gulf?
ED OVERTON, PROFESSOR, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, no, we don't
have any total cumulative. If we use the latest numbers, it's somewhere
between 10 and 20,000 barrels a day. If you multiply that by the number of
days, you can get some idea.
Remember, this oil as it goes into the Gulf, about a third to 50
percent of it will be remediated. So you've got to take whatever was put
in there because of evaporation and biodegradation and cut that in half.
And then you can get some idea of total amount of oil but it's not a
MATTHEWS: OK, ten years from now, what percent of the oil that's
leaked and will leak will still be there?
OVERTON: Way, way less than 1 percent. It will be remediated pretty
quickly. A lot of it hopefully will be cleaned up before gets on
shoreline. Only that that's buried down in the zone will last very long.
MATTHEWS: Well, you've given me the happiest word I've heard so far
in about two months now. What does remediated mean actually?
OVERTON: Well, remediated means that it gets cleaned up off the
shoreline and removed.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean?
OVERTON: Well, there's a bunch of ways you can do it. You can add
bioremediating agents. You can skim it off the surface of the water.
There's solidifiers, there's a whole variety of chemicals that are used to
kind of clean up the oil-not chemicals but chemicals and physical
methods to get it off the surface and recover it and recycle it hopefully.
I'm a big fan of recycling it. I hope they skim as much as they can
and send it to the refinery where it should have gone in the first place.
MATTHEWS: So you believe that they have-based on your professional
expertise, BP owns the capability to clean up most of the mess they've
created over time if they put the money into it?
OVERTON: I don't know about BP owning the technology. The
technology's out there. There's a variety ways to clean up oil and I'm
concerned that we're not putting a-
MATTHEWS: So in other words, you're argument is that remediation
means manmade efforts to clean it up. It doesn't happen by nature?
OVERTON: Well, yes, some of it is natural and some is manmade. I
don't think we're putting enough manmade assets into cleaning this oil up
period. We need to do more at skimming the oil off the surface once it
gets on the surface.
We ought to have every skimmer in the world. Why don't we have every
skimmer? Ask Admiral Allen that. We need every skimmer in the world and
the infrastructure to support those in the Gulf cleaning this oil up before
it gets onshore where it's difficult to remediate.
MATTHEWS: Well, that's my question for about several weeks now.
Felipe gusto, sir, the same question. Why doesn't-if we have manmade
means of cleaning this up-Remediation is the term of art here. Whether
it's skimming it or dispersing, whatever we can force it to be, cause it to
be evaporated, or whatever, biodegraded.
Why is BP counted on as the lone ranger out there? Why isn't every
oil company in the country being dragooned into this operation?
Well, you know the-
MATTHEWS: Why aren't we doing it? As a government, saying, you all
got to get down here with all your equipment. You all got to chip in here?
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, ENVIRONMENTALIST: I would agree we're not putting
enough resources into this. I've been down three times in the last month
seeing this disaster both under the water and on top of the water.
Not only how it's affecting the environment, but the people who live
in those communities. I'm going back down on Friday. And I don't think
we're doing enough. There's a lot of frustration in the people along the
communities that are suffering so much from this; that we're not doing
The bottom line, though, is not only that we're not doing enough, but
the technology hasn't advanced in decades. The reality is that only 20
percent of the oil on average can be collected by skimming or by burning,
and the rest of it is going to end up either in the water column-which
even though it's out of sight, it shouldn't be out of mind.
MATTHEWS: You're disagreeing now with Professor Overton?
COUSTEAU: Well I am a little bit because, you know and I think he's
largely correct, but the problem is-
MATTHEWS: He says 99 percent will be gone by 10 years from now.
COUSTEAU: I wouldn't agree with that because I know Exxon Valdez, 20
years after Exxon Valdez you can still dig into the sand and there's oil
there. There's oil in the rocks. I'd love it to be 1 percent and I hope
it indeed is, but I think that might be a little optimistic.
The other problem we didn't deal with, for example in Exxon Valdez, is
that when the oil gets into the mangroves and into the grasses and
wetlands, you can't clean it up.
MATTHEWS: OK, your response to the points, Professor?
COUSTEAU: On the beach you can, but not in the grasses.
MATTHEWS: Your response? He's skeptical about your ability to-our
ability, even if BP puts the money in, to collect 99 percent of this
OVERTON: Well, I didn't say 99 percent-I said there wouldn't be
less than 1 percent left and that is the case in Exxon Valdez. Numerous
studies-there's Exxon Valdez oil, but it's a tiny, tiny fraction of what
was originally spilled.
And the same thing is going to happen in the Gulf Coast. Now we do
need better techniques. I totally agree that skimming technology has not
improved all that much although it has improved. My problem is that we're
not even using technologies we've got right now. Let's put all of them in
the Gulf and use-
COUSTEAU: That's right.
OVERTON: -- what we can to keep the oil off of the coastlines and out
of the mangroves.
MATTHEWS: Let me-I want you to respond to the latest news from
NOAA. That's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The
government says water tests have confirmed underwater oil plumes as far as
142 miles from the BP oil spill, but the concentrations are very low.
The administration points out that oil as far as 3,300 feet below the
surface, 42 miles northeast of the well site and also 142 miles southeast.
Professor, what does that tell you about the extent or the volume, does it
tell you anything about the volume or just how far it's spread?
OVERTON: Well, first off, that 142 miles was not determined to be
from this spill. So that's another source of hydrocarbon. The 42-mile
plume was pretty reasonable and I think, of course, we're dispersing the
oil as it leaves the wellhead.
So oil has got to be down in the water column and I think these
researchers and others-three or four ships out there, we're part of the
team analyzing some of those samples-and these findings are consistent
with what we're finding.
Low part per billion-part per billion levels of dispersed oil down
at depth. Remember, 3,300 feet is near the bottom. This is a 5,000-foot
bottom on this well. So this does not surprise me. There is oil down
there. There's got to be if that dispersion is working.
MATTHEWS: What does this tell you, Philippe, about the impact of all
that volume and dispersion on the land?
MATTHEWS: What's going to happen to that very gutsy hotel owner we
just had on; talked about how it's still OK down there now. The coast is
clear right now, but he says he only gets a 72-hour notice of what's
COUSTEAU: Well, you know, the communities are terrified. I mean I
was down talking with captains and fishermen on Friday and Saturday down in
Grand Isle, Louisiana. They're seeing their whole way of life change. I
think what's scary, again, is that we have not had an oil spill.
Exxon Valdez was purely on the surface. This is coming a mile
underneath and mixing into the water column and I agree completely this is
unprecedented that these plumes are happening.
What we need to be afraid of is what we can't see. Not just what we
can see washing up on the coastline into the mangroves. Forty percent of
all the wetlands in the lower 48 states exist along the coast of Louisiana.
That is some of the most precious coastal habitat. That is a
catastrophe. What we have not seen and what we don't understand yet is
what's happening in the water column itself.
MATTHEWS: What are you worried about underneath?
COUSTEAU: I'm worried about all the plankton, the fish, the larvae-
all the animals that exist in the water column. The problem is that-
MATTHEWS: What's a water column? I'm sorry.
COUSTEAU: Water column is the vertical distance, the vertical area
between the surface and the bottom.
COUSTEAU: The actual vertical column of water.
MATTHEWS: All right.
COUSTEAU: And oil can exist in one part per billion in the water and
it's deadly toxic to fish, larvae and eggs. So you don't have to have that
much oil to begin with.
MATTHEWS: How does that work? Why would only that small percentage
of the water that had the oil in it be dangerous or toxic to all the fish
in that entire area?
COUSTEAU: In the same way I had to wear full hazmat diving gear when
I went diving in the spill. It's a toxic poison. And if the eggs and the
fish larvae encounter that poison, it gloms on to them. They absorb it.
It kills them.
MATTHEWS: Last point, Professor. You mentioned there was another
source of this oil detected by NOAA. What is that? Do you know?
OVERTON: Well, there's the plume down near the bottom, and of course
the oil that's on the surface. So those are the two sources of oil that
are floating in the environment. The plume is very low concentration down
to part per billion, part per billion range.
A lot of the damage occurs on the surface, of course in the layer,
which is that floating layer where the eggs and larvae are. And of course
that's lots of oil on the surface.
That's why we need to get the oil as much as possible off the surface,
keep it from spreading. Why isn't-why aren't every skimmer in the world
in the Gulf? That's the question. Not how much oil is flowing, why aren't
we doing more at the surface?
MATTHEWS: OK. And you say there's so much technology available, we
haven't deployed it yet here?
OVERTON: Absolutely. Call around to every port in the nation, in the
world and ask them if they have extra skimmers. Every-
MATTHEWS: Well there was my seat of the pants notion about a month
ago but thank you for being the expert on this. I thought there was a lot
more out there besides what BP has in hand-
COUSTEAU: He's right, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- and why aren't they all being brought into this by a
OVERTON: That's right.
MATTHEWS: These oil companies do well in this country. They ought to
do well for us for once. Thank you, Philippe Cousteau.
COUSTEAU: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ed Overton, Professor at OSU. Up next, if you
want to follow in President Obama's footsteps, you have your chance. Check
out the "Sideshow" tonight. Coming up next. You're watching "HARDBALL"
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to "HARDBALL." Time for the "Sideshow." Last night
the comedians did some dark humor on the oil spill. Here it goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: Well, BP officials are now saying the campaign to
clean it up could last until fall. That's why they call it a campaign.
You know why it's called a campaign? Because it's like an election. It's
dirty. It's slimy. It never seems to end. That's why they call it a
DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: The oil spread, don't kid yourself, I
don't care what they're telling you. The oil spread is getting bad.
There's so much oil and tar now in the Gulf of Mexico, Cubans can now walk
to Miami. Honest to God, it just-
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Mr. President, Mr. President, you need to
talk the talk, walk the walk, and most importantly, wear the clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see what President Obama was being
criticized for what he had on when he was standing at the shoreline there.
He had on fancy pants and a fancy shirt.
COLBERT: This is no time for fancy pants. No fancy pants. When the
Germans bombed London, Churchill didn't wear a suit. He was out there in
sweatpants and a Packers jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It's so easy to make fun of Fox. Anyway, the great point
there, the worst that war, World War II, got for Churchill's country the
better he dressed. And guess what, Fox, it worked.
Next little piece of history. Up for rent. This New York City rental
on the upper west side seems like your run-of-the-mill cramped apartment in
New York City except this also happens to be the place where President
Obama when he was a student lived during his junior year at Columbia
The price? $1,900 a month. A leasing agent tells "New York Magazine"
that the price would be exactly the same whether the president lived there
Well, on to another item that makes us ask, what's up with South
Carolina? The Palmetto State known lately for its scandalous politics may
have reached a new low in the republican primary this year. Gubernatorial
candidate Nikki Haley has had to fend off two allegations by men of
infidelity in recent weeks.
One of the accusers, Larry Marchant, worked for Andre Bauer-Haley's
rival for the republican nomination. Marchant offered to take a polygraph
test to prove his claim. The results, inconclusive. And catch this, Andre
Bauer, Haley's actual rival, took his own polygraph test. Why? To prove
that his campaign hasn't been out there trying to capitalize on these
accusations of infidelity.
Wow. Anyway, the real winner of all this may be Nikki Haley, herself,
the victim of all this talk. She's maintained if not widened her lead in
the polls heading into Tuesday's-or today's actual primary. There's a
story for you. The more they attack you, the better she looks.
Now for the "Number." A nice display of bipartisan spirit last night.
The Democratic National Committee competed here in Washington in their
annual softball game against their republican counterparts. That isn't to
say that politics didn't bleed into the field.
DNC fans chanted during the game, we passed health care. The RNC's
chant? We'll repeal it. So which party came out on top? This often
happens. The republicans, 15-3. What a baseball game, what a softball
game. Wasn't even close. The RNC shuts down their rivals 15-3. A
harbinger of things to come this November? Wow. That's tonight's "Big
Up next, voters in 12 states, a dozen states, are going to the polls
tonight. It's a big primary night. We're going to be covering it all
through the night. We'll preview the hot races coming up next, and then
all through the night -- 7 o'clock to midnight, all the other shows on
MSNBC, we'll be talking about the results tonight. You're watching
"HARDBALL" only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. As we speak, the polls are open from
coast to coast for primaries in ten states and runoffs in Arkansas and
Georgia. NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent
Chuck Todd joins us for more in the big races to watch. Chuck Todd, first
of all, let's talk at Arkansas. Chuck, it's a runoff between Democratic
Senator U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln and Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter,
the challenger for the Democratic nomination. What is the national message
in this if Halter knocks off an incumbent?
CHUCK TODD, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think in this case
it's not that-I mean, look, this was a message that was sent by labor to
the rest of the Democratic Party, don't take us for granted. We're willing
to spend a ton of money, even sacrifice a senate seat if that's necessary
to send this message. Well, message is probably going to be received. The
rule of runoffs on this particularly for incumbents, what's your polling at
the day before the runoff is probably the number you're going to get, hard
to imagine you're going to get undecided. She's been sitting at about 46,
47 depending on whose private poll you believe. So, you have to assume
that's her number at the end of the day. Halter probably wins this one.
And the question now is, does labor double down on Halter, who will start
as a huge underdog against the Republican there, Congressman John Boozman
MATTHEWS: Can he get through the general election without saying
where he stands on card check? There's a right to work state, not exactly
friendly to aggressive unionization. How can he win with SEIU support
without actually saying he's for their main program?
TODD: I'll say this about card check or whatever, employee free
choice. The only people that care about it are corporate boardrooms and
labor union members. Actual members of the public, I don't think care
about this either way. So.
TODD: I don't buy it has a real issue there. I think this thing is
going to be about, old-fashioned d versus r.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, see, up next in Nevada, here's a wild one, a
three-way fight for the republican nomination among Sue Lowden was on
HARDBALL last night. Danny Tarkanian, he's the son of the football coach
at UNLV and Sharron Angle who is the Tea partier. What's that looks like
to you? Will that be another tea party victory tonight?
TODD: Well, it is. It looks like Sharron Angle, she's is surging,
she's the favorite. There's this group, one of the organized groups of the
Tea Party called the Tea Party Express. Really put a lot of money in
there. Turned her from a single-digit candidate. Look, Sue Lowden had her
own self-inflicted wounds, you asked her about it last night, having to do
with this comment about bartering for chickens. She said it was in jest,
but the problem is that story lived for about a week. She never could
shake it. A lot of money was put behind it. One thing republicans will
say is Sharron Angle has taken a lot of shots, particularly from Sue Lowden
and she's surviving. The fact of the matter is Harry Reid is upside-down.
All three of these candidates are not the best candidates, the best
candidate is Dean Heller, the congressman there, who decided not to run.
But he's waiting for the appointment to John Ensign's seat. And instead
Harry Reid is going to have to win ugly. This is going to be an ugly, ugly
MATTHEWS: OK. Let's go to the biggest state in the country,
California Carly Fiorina is in a three-way fight for the Republican Senate
nominee against Tom Campbell who ran 18 years ago and Chuck DeVore who is
on the right. And in the governor's race, Meg Whitman of eBay faces Steve
Poizner for the republican nomination. Has this become the year of the
woman for California republicans? Will it be tonight, all bets, probably
Carly and Meg? Does it look that way?
TODD: Absolutely. It looks that way. And year of women CEOs, you
know, behind the scenes in this is kind of interesting. The Meg Whitman
folks are not crazy about the idea of Carly Fiorina, another former CEO
sort of drafting with Meg Whitman, you know, Whitman believes her record at
eBay is better or sells better to the average voter in California, than
Carly Fiorina's record at Hewlett-Packard. And this idea of merging the
two. It got so estranged at one point, the Whitman campaign basically not
so secretly pushed Tom Campbell to move from the governor's race to the
senate race, but Campbell just-like all of his previous races couldn't
raise any money. Fiorina doesn't seem like-she seems too conservative
in this state.
But Republicans say this, they don't care if Fiorina necessarily wins
or loses. They just care if the national Democrats and the president has
to spend time defending Barbara Boxer. The bigger story, the return of
Jerry Brown, Chris. Jerry Brown is an even-money favorite to be the next
governor of California. Which is unbelievable when you think about the
history of this state these days.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let's go to the weird stuff, dirty stuff there in
South Carolina. It used to be men didn't talk and now you've got-well,
I should be-that's ideal. Now, you have two guys down there claiming
they had affairs with a republican front-runner. This is the dirtiest
thing I've seen, it was hard to say the dirtiest thing in politics, but
this is really warped. What do you make of this?
TODD: I'll just say this. I'm going to re-quote Stuart Rothenberg.
You know Stuart is facing one of the great handicapped.
TODD: He called South Carolina, the stink hole of Republican
politics. There's really no other better way to sum it up. It's a mess
MATTHEWS: Well said, thank you.
TODD: They play dirty. It's ugly. And I can't believe this state is
in charge of deciding who the republican nominee is for president every
MATTHEWS: OK. The president's going back to the gulf we hear?
TODD: He is. He's going to overnight in the region. Mississippi,
Alabama and Florida, he's got an overnight next Monday and Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: Maybe he needs to overnight in London, so he can get within
butt kicking distance of Tony Hayward. What to you think?
TODD: You know, I have a feeling Tony Hayward probably got a phone
call finally from the president today as well.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Because he said to Matt this morning that he hadn't
talked to him yet. Amazing. Let's go right now to Kathleen Parker. It's
amazing you have this-you're a South Carolinian. You're from
Charleston. What do you make of the fact that Nikki Haley is obviously the
front-runner here? He's getting talked about by the republicans down
there. Are they just don't want a woman governor or what?
KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's pretty disgusting. I
mean, it's truly awful. I really can't add anything to the comment that
MATTHEWS: Did Palin play a big role?
Parker: Palin helped a lot, she bumped her up ten points and gave her
legitimacy. So, yes, that was hugely valuable.
MATTHEWS: Will she be able to go around the country at the end of
this year and say look, I went around the country and I won a lot of races,
like Richard Nixon back in 1956. Is she building for the presidency, do
PARKER: You know, I wouldn't have said that two weeks ago. I just-
I never did think she's going to run because she's having too much fun
being a celebrity making money. But, do you know? Maybe she is building
MATTHEWS: She's putting it together the pieces of a claim, that
although she may not know more than the other candidates, she's much more
credible as a beater of Barack Obama because she's won all these races.
PARKER: Yes, I mean, she's hugely popular with the Tea Party event.
MATTHEWS: Tea Party plus or negative tonight with Angle possibly
winning in Nevada. What all these going on in the country.
PARKER: Well, the Tea Party is very good at helping people get
elected. I'm not sure they're electing the right people when it comes to
the general election. I think they're going to have a harder time beating
the democrats on they think.
MATTHEWS: Is Angle a mistake in Nevada?
PARKER: Very possibly. It's hard to say.
MATTHEWS: Harry has picked his opponent. He wants Sharron Angle the
PARKER: He certainly did. And maybe, she's apparently pretty strong
candidate. Because, as you say, she's been taking all these leaks from Sue
MATTHEWS: Are you proud as a women as you did in politics that right
now, we're used at the fact that woman are running for governor in all of
these states now. They're in what we call in baseball, the on-deck circle
for the presidency. A lot of races where the women are the front-runners
now. Whitman, Fiorina.
PARKER: I think it's fantastic. Yes. I just think it's the
zeitgeist. I think it was just time for women to take the lead. And
they're stepping up to the plate. And look at what all of these women have
in common, they're business people, including by the way, Nikki Haley, she
comes out of the business class, she's an accountant.
MATTHEWS: Do you think republican women used to be women who didn't
work outside the home, who would show up at all of these meetings?
PARKER: That's right.
MATTHEWS: Now they're women who are.
PARKER: They're executives.
MATTHEWS: Executives, top people.
PARKER: Yes. So, I think it's very interesting. And I can't wait to
have enough women in public office that we no longer have to say, oh she's
MATTHEWS: Do you give some credit to Hillary for this?
PARKER: I give Hillary more credit than I would give Sarah Palin. I
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary really established the fact that she can
compete, women can compete at the highest level.
PARKER: Yes, I agree completely.
MATTHEWS: I become more and more impressed as the days go on. Thank
you, Chuck Todd. Thank you, Kathleen Parker, Pulitzer Prize Winner here.
Speaking of about setting new standards.
Up next, could the Tea Party actually hurt the Republican Party?
That's our question. And cost republicans elections they might otherwise
win. This is HARDBALL on the MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Here's a grim milestone in the war in Afghanistan. We've
now been at war for 104 months. Since October of 2001, believe it or not.
That makes the u.s. war in Afghanistan the longest war in American history,
even surpassing Vietnam. HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We're back. The Tea Party movement has had some big wins,
of course, but might ultimately cost the GOP some winnable seats by forcing
it too far to the right.
David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones and Chris
Cillizza is with the "Washington Post." I want to start with Chris, he's
over at the "Washington Post." A couple points before we get to the poll.
What do you make of this Orly Taitz woman, the birther in charge of the
whole world, the ultimate birther who led the charge in the courts and on
the streets against the president saying, he's not an American, he wasn't
born in American state, he wasn't one of us, he shouldn't be president,
he's a legal immigrant basically. She has a very good chance, that woman
right there of winning. That's not a very flattering picture. She could
well win Secretary of State in California tonight and have a real office
and not win it, but win the nomination and be on the ticket with two very
strong candidates, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina which could bring them
down if the democrats are smart.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: And, you know, Chris, add another
name in there, Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, a Hispanic republican,
former legislator who is going to be a lieutenant gubernatorial nominee.
Republicans in California see this as a dream ticket, you've got two women
with no elected office experience which is a great thing in an environment
like this one. Both of them wealthy. You have a Hispanic republican.
Orly Taitz complicates that. You know, voters don't usually vote for the
ticket, you know, the straight-line voting doesn't work as much. But
republicans in California have to sell the idea, the idea that this is not
the Pete Wilson party, that these are their new faces and this is a
Republican Party that can govern. She complicates that attempt.
MATTHEWS: And throw in the fact that Fiorina is pro life in a state
that hasn't elected a pro life candidate since Deukmejian, right Chris?
CILLIZZA: Well, first of all, a great George Deukmejian reference.
Yes, I mean, look.
MATTHEWS: I wanted to go back and I did with you.
CILLIZZA: I know.
MATTHEWS: And I'm going to make your head spin. I know I'm going way
CILLIZZA: It is a sad fact that this is the second time I've had a
conversation about George Deukmejian today. One off the air, one on the
air, but look, yes.
MATTHEWS: He was the governor after Jerry Brown, yes.
CILLIZZA: This is a state where being pro life is very difficult.
What's hard in a republican primary, contest of republican primary in
California, though, Chris, is that the people who are left as republicans
in California are quite conservative. Meg Whitman learns that. She tried
to run a general election campaign and was attacked on immigration. She
had attacked to the right.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let's take a look at our poll here, the "Washington
Post"/ABC poll just out. We've been looking at this as an example of
deterioration in what might be called the early bloom of the Tea Party
movement. Fifty percent of Americans across the board now have an
unfavorable view of the Tea Party, that's an 11 point jump up. I've got
David Corn here. David, it looks like what's happened is the undecided
largely have moved over and said, now we don't like it. The ones who have
independent said they don't like it.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, that's pretty
natural. These are people who probably didn't know much about the Tea
Party a few months ago. And what they've seen in recent months, they've
seen Rand Paul say, he doesn't fully agree with its 1964 civil rights act.
Maybe they've heard about these candidates that are running-republican
candidates, Tea Party support, who call for eliminating the EPA or even
getting rid of the 17th amendment which gives us the right to directly
elect senators. So, this is-when the Tea Party first starts, it sounds
kind of civil and patriotic and good and people maybe even agree with it on
some of the issues. But as they learn more and see some of these
candidates, they say, wait a second, who are these people?
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Chris and David back to you, you know
what's wrong with most political parties? You have to buy the blue-plate
special. You got to buy all the crazy stuff you don't like, the stuff
you're really are offended by in order to choose a party. It seems like
what's happening to the Tea Party people is they are falling victim to what
always happens. You put together an array of positions and people like a
couple of them. Who doesn't like lower taxes? Who doesn't like less
government in their face? But, we also have come to rely on our old age on
Social Security, on the EPA to keep some kind of restraint on business and
pollution. And then, you realize, wait a minute, these guys have some
crazy stuff just like other political parties. Your take Chris.
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, unlike that these are two major parties, I
think, the Tea Party is even more complicated to your point which is-
it's really kind of, a lot of disparate groups, some larger, some smaller
but there is not one Tea Party. You know, I think people think Tea Party
and they think, well, there is a candidate who's got, you know, a little
parentism and TP after their name running on the ballot. That's how it
works. It's a lot of these like smaller grassroots group. So, they don't
even have a shared philosophy. It's like you said, less government
intrusion, but some of them are pro-life. Some of them don't care at all
about social issues.
MATTHEWS: Some are hawkish.
MATTHEWS: And Rand Paul is a real dove like his dad.
CILLIZZA: It makes it harder to coalesce behind an idea of what the
Tea Party represents either.
CORN: And I think it makes it easier for people to start defining the
Tea Party, which is what the democrats will do, by the more extreme, you
know, out of normal discourse positions that some of these people are
MATTHEWS: Well, we have a bulletin draft coming out to me right now.
The documentary coming up next Tuesday night around this time. This is all
about this. And it does, as you know, Chris Cillizza, there is a continuum
of right wing thinking where you sound, you hear the same talking points,
the government is no good, term limits all that stuff, sort of stuff. All
the way to, we need guns to protect ourselves from our own government. It
gets really militia out there on the right end.
CILLIZZA: And, you know, I think Chris, as it relates to the
political contact, what you have to deal with, look, Mitch McConnell I
think knew this one. He endorsed Trey Grayson against Rand Paul. That
Rand Paul, the full airing of Rand Paul had not happen in the primary, and
not happens in the general election, it was pragmatic. In Nevada, Sharron
Angel, Chuck mentioned this earlier, Sharron Angel is a very likely
nominee. Harry Reid has $15 million, $14.8 million of those dollars will
be spent and making sure that every voter in Nevada is aware of some of the
further to the right positions that Sharron Angel has taken. That is the
danger here is are they nominated people who, yes, are more in line with
the Tea Party values but no, are nor more in line with the general election
CORN: And look what is going to happen in California. Carly Fiorina
to win the nomination, she was up against real Tea Party candidate, Chuck
DeVore. But it looks like she's probably going to win tonight, and she has
re-branded herself, this ex-corporate insider as a Tea Party outsider in a
state that doesn't go for, you know, hasn't gone too well republican.
MATTHEWS: I'm stunned that she positioned herself on the political
side of pro-life, the people who want to outlaw Roe V. Wade. Who want to
outlaw abortion in California. I don't think what she's thinking.
MATTHEWS: Why would somebody go that far in California which is the
most libertarian states on even on big moral issues like that? They just
don't like the government telling them, you can't have that choice.
CILLIZZA: Because your general election positioning doesn't matter if
you are not the nominee. I mean, I don't think it's anymore complicated,
it doesn't do Carly Fiorina one bit of good to be positioned in right in a
general election if she is sitting at home watching Chuck DeVore or Tom
Campbell who actually-I should more moderate to her.
CILLIZZA: It's that natural process. The question is, can you get
back to that middle?, I mean, in some.
MATTHEWS: How do you get back to the middle once you have said you
are pro-life? Excuse me, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You don't change your position like that in the middle of
an election, you can't do it.
CILLIZZA: You talk about fiscal issues not social issues.
CORN: Well, she has gone so far to the right. She had an ad last
week comparing concern for global warming to worrying about the weather.
You know, again, environmental issues play.
MATTHEWS: That is so pandering. Anybody who denies the climate
change issue as a serious, you got argument as the fact, who denies a
question is pandering.
CORN: That's exactly what she did. I understand Chris' point. She
had to win the nomination she thought by going this far to the right. But
she is going to have to spend a lot of time and money getting back to the
MATTHEWS: That's foul or play by the way, every night I say that. I
understand Chris' point. You should say that every segment here.
CORN: The other Chris.
MATTHEWS: I think, I should have a segment on the show. I understand
CORN: I'm thinking that. I'm thinking that.
MATTHEWS: Thanks Chris Cillizza. Thank you David Corn.
When we return, "Let Me Finish," some thoughts about the growing
influence and leadership of women in American politics especially
republican politics now. You are watching "Hardball" only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let me Finish" tonight with some thoughts about women,
women in politics that is. MSNBC is the place for politics, we like to
say. If you haven't noticed, politics is increasingly the place for women.
Look at the race that will be covering tonight, in South Carolina, Nikki
Haley is the front-runner and the republican primary for governor, and
she's managed the whole of that position in the face of what we use to call
bad form, some men in the political world down there. In California, women
are the favorites in the republican primaries for both governor and u.s.
senator. Meg Whitman made her name and her money as head of eBay. Carly
Fiorina is known for being CEO at Hewlett-Packard. Should they come in
first tonight? Both of these women stand good chances of the general this
November. They are hardly the sacrificial lambs' women candidates who have
served us in the past.
In Nevada, two women, Sharron Angel and Sue Lowden are in the battle
with Danny Tarkanian for the republican nominees for U.S. senate. Both
have at least a fighting chance, should they win tonight against Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid. All of these women are newcomers at this
level. It is hard not to notice that they are running in the very first
elections after the 2008 election, one that included a president setting
campaign by Hillary Clinton for president and another president senior for
vice president on the republican side by Sarah Palin. Here is a fact to
remember as you watched the returns tonight, Hillary Clinton would not have
been such a strong contender for the presidency in 2008 if she had not had
the courage to run for the senate in 2000.
That courage is what took her to the highest level of political
competition. It could well be that her strong showing is which has
inspired these other women to test their mettle in the ring. And it is
elections like these tonight that will tell us whether this new set of
women will be top contenders in the future. Fifty three percent of the
voters in 2008 were women. It is an increasing probability, the way things
are going that our top candidates for the top offices will being to reflect
that statistic. Watch what happens tonight.
That's hardball for now. Thanks for being with us. We will be right
back at midnight eastern with the results of today's primaries across the
"Countdown" with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
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