Guests: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jo Ann Emerson, Faiz Shakir
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Firing offense?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight, backlash. National Public Radio feels the heat after firing commentator Juan Williams. In an interview on Fox News, Williams had said he gets worried when he sees people, as he put it, in Muslim garb on airplanes, but he said it was crazy to generalize about people of a certain religion.
But in a country where people backed war in Arab Iraq, got angry at 9/11, in which people openly opposed the building of an Islamic religious center near the site of the World Trade towers, is this really a firing offense? Well, conservatives say firing Williams is a liberal political correctness move run amok. Some are out to kill federal funding of National Public Radio because of it. The reaction, politically and otherwise, is our top story tonight.
Then three key races that could decide who controls the United States Senate after this January—California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. We‘ll find out which side has the momentum in each one of these races right now.
Plus, it‘s been the most productive Congress in years, but House Democrats have been unable to campaign successfully on their accomplishments, especially with the core constituency of women voters, and a growing number of Democratic candidates are running away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins us to talk about it.
And “follow the money.” The words of Watergate‘s Deep Throat have never been more relevant with the revelation in today‘s “New York Times” that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying outfit, is getting huge donations from big companies at home and abroad. The Chamber is using that money to bankroll its efforts to thwart President Obama and defeat Democrats, and Democrats are trying to fight back.
“Let Me Finish” tonight with what I learned from the young people we met this week on the HARDBALL college tour around the country.
All that‘s ahead. First let‘s get the latest polling from races around the country. For that, we check in with the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.” Let‘s start with the Pennsylvania Senate race. We were there yesterday. The new Muehlenberg “Morning Call” tracking poll has that race deadlocked, 43 points each, literally 43 points apiece, Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey. In the Pennsylvania governor‘s race, Democrat Dan Onorato is coming on strong. He‘s now trailing Republican Tom Corbett by just 5 points. Corbett‘s lead was 15 just last month. Finally, to Florida and the governor‘s race there. It‘s all tied up again, Rick Scott and Alex Sink, the Democrat, both polling—boy, these are getting dead even -- 45-45.
We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” for all the big races each night leading up to November 2nd.
Let‘s start out with National Public Radio‘s decision to fire Juan Williams. We‘re going to start with the exchange he had on Fox‘s “The O‘Reilly Factor” Monday night. That interview follows O‘Reilly‘s “Talking Points,” in which he defended his comments on “The View” earlier. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: So where am I going wrong there, Juan?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, actually, I hate to say this to you because I don‘t want to get your ego going, but I think you‘re right. I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis, where you don‘t address reality. I mean, look, Bill, I‘m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I‘ve written about the Civil Rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they‘re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court—
I think this was just last week—he said the war with Muslims, America‘s war with Muslims is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don‘t think there‘s any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all, as President Bush did after 9/11, it‘s not a war against Islam.
Wait a second, though! Wait. Wait. Hold on. Because if you said what, Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals—very obnoxious—you don‘t say first and foremost, We got a problem with Christians, that‘s crazy.
O‘REILLY: But it‘s not at that level. It doesn‘t rise near to that level.
WILLIAMS: Correct. That‘s—and when you said in the “Talking Points Memo” a moment ago that there are good Muslims, I think that‘s the point. You know...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. Eugene Robinson‘s an MSNBC political analyst and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with “The Washington Post. And Michelle Bernard‘s president of the Independent Women‘s Forum. Thank you so much for coming on.
And this is a tricky bit of business and people have to listen closely, and I guess we have to be careful how we deal with this issue. But Juan Williams has been canned, fired from a job he‘s had for a long time. We all know the fellow. We know his fights for Civil Rights. He wrote “Eyes on the Prize.” He‘s been all over the place on the right side of so many good issues. What‘s this about?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think NPR‘s firing of Juan was wrong. I think—and I think they seized on a pretext to do something that they seem to have wanted to do before. You know, NPR‘s a great news organization. It‘s one of the great news organizations of this country or any other country, and I have great respect for it. But I don‘t have great respect for the way NPR handled this decision.
They seized on the, you know, airplane remark about Muslim garb, or whatever, when it seems clear, if you listen to the whole conversation, the thrust of what he was trying to say was the opposite, was that, in fact, we should not stereotype Muslims and paint all Muslims with the brush of terrorism, that that‘s wrong. And I—you know, but there has been criticism from some NPR listeners of Juan‘s role on Fox over time, and I certainly have the sense that they were uneasy with that (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Yes. Was this a matter of constituency, of people, the people that back NPR, calling in and complaining to their managers? Is that what‘s triggered this, or was this a judgment of values? What was it a judgment of? I can‘t get to it.
MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S FORUM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
You know, to play devil‘s advocate—first of all, NPR doesn‘t have to hire—no one has to hire anyone they don‘t want to. You don‘t have to hire anyone. You can fire anybody you want to, as long as you don‘t do it in a discriminatory manner.
So to play devil‘s advocate, I‘ve been thinking to myself, what if someone had gone on Fox or another network that was also working with NPR and said, You know what? Every time I walk down the street and I see a black man, I get scared and I grab my purse and I pray that they‘re not going to rob me. People would call in to NPR and they would be very, very angry, and NPR may or may not fire someone for saying these kind of words.
But it seems, in this sense, it was very, very different. Juan Williams, if you looked at the entire context of everything he said, it was almost like a Shirley Sherrod moment. But it seems...
MATTHEWS: Tell me what the whole context was and what he said.
BERNARD: Well, I mean, basically, what he was saying is that—he was, I think, saying something that a lot of Americans, particularly right after 9/11, told you. There was incredible fear, and sometimes people will look at someone and say, You look Muslim, I am fearful, are you going to blow my plane up? But he also then ended that by saying you absolutely cannot indict an entire religion. You cannot indict an entire people because...
BERNARD: ... fundamentalist did something crazy.
MATTHEWS: See, we‘re all in the business. We all talk on television, I more than others. Maybe I‘m on too much, but I‘m on six days a week. And I do worry about, all the time, saying the wrong thing. Occasionally, I have said the wrong thing, things I wish I hadn‘t said the way I said them, in fact. Even if they had a grain of truth, they weren‘t the whole tru8th.
And here‘s my question. Here‘s not a guy expressing a point of view, like Helen Thomas making those anti-Israeli remarks. She‘s pro-Arab, anti-Israeli. She‘s been pretty clear over the years where she stands on the Middle East, pretty damn tough on that point of view.
This isn‘t a question of a guy saying, I don‘t like Arabs...
MATTHEWS: ... or I don‘t like the Arab nation, I don‘t like—this is a guy giving what he considered an honest account of his reaction, certainly right after 9/11, to getting on airplanes and thinking about that. OK.
MATTHEWS: In other words, what was wrong, that he had that reaction getting on the airplane or that said...
BERNARD: The fact that he said something!
MATTHEWS: That‘s the question. Is he in trouble for giving an honest recounting of his reaction, or is he in trouble for having had that reaction when he gets onto airplanes? This is the problem with getting into mind control.
BERNARD: I think any—any member of the American public can honestly believe that no one at NPR ever had that feeling...
MATTHEWS: Suppose he got on the air and said—I got on the air right after 9/11, I never noticed anybody‘s who‘s Arab on the plane. There could have been 500 Arab guys on the plane, I wouldn‘t have noticed. And he would have had no trouble, even though that would have been a lie.
MATTHEWS: You know what I mean? This is the thing. And this you get into trouble. I was looking at what Sanchez said the other day, Rick Sanchez. That‘s a point of view. He said—it‘s obviously offensive. It‘s something you don‘t say. Given the whole history of the 20th century, you don‘t make comments like that. It‘s offensive to people, to everybody. Why do you do it? That‘s a comment. This is a recollection of what his personal reaction was getting on airplanes. And I think that‘s really tricky when you‘re just basically saying to the guy, Well, keep it to yourself, is basically what they‘re saying at NPR.
ROBINSON: What I wonder about is how that is—supposedly conflicts with his role as an NPR analyst, with a political analyst, which...
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, speaking...
ROBINSON: It wasn‘t a political statement. It wasn‘t a pro or con kind of statement. Look, you know...
ROBINSON: ... written and spoken since and—and...
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s watch him. Let‘s—I‘m sorry, Gene. Let‘s let Juan Williams, who was our colleague all these years and still is—thanks to Fox, he is. Here he is talking about his firing this Monday. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: This is one of the things in my life that‘s just such a shock because I grew up basically on the left. I grew up here in New York City. You know, and I‘ve always thought the right wing was the ones who were inflexible, intolerant. And now I‘m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, if it‘s representing the left, is just unbelievable, that you know—and especially, I think, for me as a black man, to somehow, you know, say something that‘s out of the box, they find it very difficult. And I think that‘s right, George. I think they were looking for a reason to get me, that they were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O‘Reilly or Sean Hannity.
MATTHEWS: Do you realize where this is heading? If you had, like—you know, like, you‘re not (INAUDIBLE) certain words. You know certain words you‘re not supposed to speak on the air. And they used to have—they still do, maybe on this network...
MATTHEWS: OK, and they have a list you‘re not supposed to (INAUDIBLE) In other words, if they heard it, they‘d black it out, there‘d be no more problem. It‘d be knocked out. So in other words, if they knocked this out, there‘d be no problem because (INAUDIBLE) because he wasn‘t saying a point of view. He was simply giving a personal recollection. Then they could have said afterwards, Did you really feel that way when you got on airplanes? I guess some people did. Maybe they shouldn‘t have. But was that the issue, or is it that he said it? This is the...
BERNARD: ... two questions. Is it that he said it? And also, is it that he‘s a black conservative? I will tell you, for example...
MATTHEWS: Is Juan conservative?
BERNARD: But I will tell you, for example, I was with a group of black journalists this morning, all members of the National Association of Black Journalists. They feel that Juan Williams is a conservative and a lot of...
MATTHEWS: Because he appears on Fox.
BERNARD: Because he appears on Fox...
MATTHEWS: As the liberal.
BERNARD: ... and because some of the statements he has—some of the political inclinations that he has are a little bit different than your typical Civil Rights organizations. That being said...
MATTHEWS: That is political correctitude! You just defined it! You must have a line and you must stick to it.
BERNARD: Well, exactly, and what I was going to say, is there a litmus test at any of these organizations, where in order to...
MATTHEWS: Well, OK, everybody‘s going to battle stations, Michelle. The conservatives are now making this an issue for them. Everybody‘s jumped on this. I mean, it‘s going to be great for Fox, let‘s face it. It‘s going to be bad for NPR because they‘re going to lose a lot of support.
And here‘s (INAUDIBLE) Here‘s Jim DeMint, not exactly a personal favorite of mine, I‘m allowed to say, a man of the far right. He put out this statement that reads in part, quote, “Once again, we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree.”
Congressman Eric Cantor, who‘s a leader in the House for Republicans, also put out a statement that reads, in part, quote, “Overreaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression.”
Sarah Palin tweeted on NPR and LSM, which stands for “lamestream media,” quote, “You‘re shocked at public outrage over your censorship of Juan? This is what happens when our Constitution starts shaking her fist.” I have no idea what that means.
ROBINSON: I don‘t know what that means.
MATTHEWS: Everybody‘s jumping on this baby.
ROBINSON: And everybody‘s going to jump on it. And you know, look, here‘s the real issue. The real issue is that—and this is all on the record. NPR has been uncomfortable for some time with Juan‘s dual role at NPR and at Fox. They‘re uncomfortable with him being on Fox. And they told him that.
MATTHEWS: Is it because there are people call in who are liberals, liberal constituents of NPR, who complain, How dare you have your guy playing ball with those people?
ROBINSON: It could be that. They say that he‘s supposed to be a political analyst, that he does, you know, commentary and goes off the reservation when he‘s on Fox. They‘re uncomfortable with that. You know, who knows? My point is that at any point in the last several years, during all this...
BERNARD: They could have terminated him!
ROBINSON: ... discomfort, they could have not renewed his contract.
MATTHEWS: He would be working at NPR right now if he hadn‘t have said what he said. So they can say all they want about the accumulation of bad things he said...
MATTHEWS: ... if he hadn‘t said this that they didn‘t like, they wouldn‘t have canned him.
MATTHEWS: Or you think they were just waiting for anything?
ROBINSON: Well, it seemed like they were waiting for something because...
BERNARD: They survive off of donations, too. It is plausible that they have people that send them money, saying, We don‘t like the fact that he‘s at Fox. But they have one other person at NPR that is a Fox analyst also, so all eyes are going to be turned to her and to see if there‘s a double standard.
MATTHEWS: That is Mara Liasson.
BERNARD: Mara. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: And she‘s a straight reporter, not a commentator.
MATTHEWS: She has to really hew the line.
BERNARD: Exactly. All eyes will be on her now.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s great to have you on. I think we handled this as well as you can. And this is the kind of thing we‘re going to be doing a good part of our lives from now on, fighting over what you‘re allowed to say in this free speech nation. Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Congratulations. And once again, you‘ve got the nerve to tell the truth as you see it. Anyway, Michelle, thank you so much.
Coming up, the three big races that could go a long way to determine who wins control of the United States Senate. We got the three hot races in the country right now—Pennsylvania for the Senate, Nevada for the Senate, California for the Senate. They‘re going to decide, to a large extent, who controls the Senate come January. Let‘s take a look at the state of play in all three. Which way‘s the mo going?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: President Obama‘s planning at least four more big city rallies like the one he held last night in Seattle. The president will headline events in Philadelphia, Chicago, Bridgeport, Connecticut and then appear with Vice President Joe Biden in Cleveland. It‘s a four-city blitz before election day. Meanwhile, the White House announced first lady Michelle Obama will be dispatched to Philadelphia and Las Vegas to help get out the vote for those big elections.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. President Obama‘s out there across the country, crossing the country through a swing to help Democrats keep control of the U.S. Senate. Here to talk about some of those big Senate fights are NBC‘s David Gregory, the moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” and The Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman, who‘s an MSNBC analyst.
Gentlemen, let‘s start with the East Coast, with Pennsylvania, where the new Muehlenberg tracking poll has it 43-43 -- David. I mean, Sestak‘s creeped up—crept up there to even.
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: Democrats are coming home. I mean, I think that‘s in part a reflection of the president‘s impact, the vice president‘s impact. And where‘s the impact? When they went to Delaware and did some big rallies, they weren‘t there because Chris Coons was in trouble. They were there so that they could impact the Pennsylvania race. The Democrats I talked to...
MATTHEWS: Because it‘s in the same media market.
GREGORY: Right. I mean, if you‘re watching TV in Philadelphia, and I don‘t have to tell you any of this, that‘s where they‘ve got to drive home that turnout. That‘s where they‘ve got Democrats to—got to get them to pay more attention, and that appears to be happening. Let‘s, you know, note something from that poll. You‘re talking about pretty low numbers.
GREGORY: Pretty low numbers and...
MATTHEWS: Fourteen percent undecided.
GREGORY: Yes. Democrats have to—you know, in Philadelphia and the counties, to vote their population (INAUDIBLE) You just said it a minute ago about whether party voting can mean something. That‘s what Sestak is counting on.
MATTHEWS: You know, Howard, I always kid about the Democrats are the last ones to show up for the movies. They‘re not that organized, but when they realize—they get there, they go to the refreshment stand, 10 minutes after the previews, they walk in, but they get there. And that‘s the question. Are they going to get there in time, and in sufficient numbers, to win these blue states they should own politically?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, I was in Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday and I talked to our mutual friend, Representative Bob Brady, who runs the show up there in the Philadelphia Democratic machine. And I spoke to him before all the polls came out showing just how much this has tightened, and he said that Democrats were beginning to come around.
I don‘t really think it was the Delaware thing. I don‘t think people in Pennsylvania care about Delaware, even if it is in that market. I think it‘s the fact that Sestak has been able to focus attention on Pat Toomey himself and talk about what the Tea Party, which would include Christine O‘Donnell, that‘s true...
MATTHEWS: ... tying him to the witch, too.
FINEMAN: -- are saying—are saying about Social Security, et cetera.
FINEMAN: What Brady told me is that the message has finally gotten home to traditional Democrats that the Tea Party Republicans and the other Republicans are somehow a threat to your Social Security, to your Medicare, to all your traditional benefits.
FINEMAN: Pennsylvania voters, as you know, Chris, are not philosophers. They‘re not into ideological experiments.
They may grouse about corrupt politicians, but they don‘t mind government in Pennsylvania. They‘re used to it.
FINEMAN: And they want the government benefits.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
FINEMAN: And they don‘t want people like Toomey threatening them.
That‘s Brady‘s message --
FINEMAN: -- plus the message about money for ads, secret money for ads, which I thought was an insider‘s game. Brady says that that‘s actually cutting now with his people. At least he‘s telling his precinct captains to get out there and talk about it.
GREGORY: Well, Chris—
GREGORY: -- it‘s a shadow effect, the outside money. Is it Karl Rove? Is it tied to people who just want to --
MATTHEWS: Foreigners. Foreign money.
GREGORY: Right, but I actually think the foreigner piece, it‘s actually—you know, it‘s big-money, Republican, swift boat guys who want to try to influence the agenda going forward scares people and Democrats.
GREGORY: And the point that I was making, Howard, but I think we‘re saying something similar here, which is there is a tie to Delaware in that they are tying Toomey to the idea of this is your Republican Party.
GREGORY: Bless you.
MATTHEWS: We have been outside all week.
GREGORY: You know, there‘s not enough sneezing on TV anyway, I don‘t think.
GREGORY: Anyway, but you know that somehow the Tea Party could have an influence that could really be inimitable to their interests.
MATTHEWS: You do hear the name O‘Donnell, Howard, up there a lot.
MATTHEWS: And I think that Republicans don‘t want to hear that name because they think she‘s a little crazy at times, well, had been in the past anyway.
And they don‘t think Toomey should be painted with that brush, but he is getting painted with that brush.
FINEMAN: Another small point, Chris, it‘s a less ideological one.
Sestak‘s a pretty good campaigner. And he has a history of closing strong.
FINEMAN: And he‘s really being very energetic and out there. Toomey, he had chance to put him away early, and Toomey didn‘t do it.
Originally, Sestak was the outsider not liked by the machine guys like Brady, et cetera, in Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: I know.
FINEMAN: But now they‘re coming around. They‘re saying, OK, we don‘t like Sestak that much, but he‘s our vehicle for helping to save the programs that we care about from these crazy people on the right. That‘s basically the message.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s some Bobby Kennedy in this guy. He‘s a little guy. He‘s out there. He‘s scrappy. He‘s not quitting. He doesn‘t have a lot of, what do you call, charm?
MATTHEWS: Right? Is that what we call it, charm with other people?
FINEMAN: He has a lot of energy, though.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, well, let‘s take a look at California, that huge state out there. Senator Barbara Boxer now has a five-point lead over businesswoman Carly Fiorina in that new Public Policy poll out there.
I don‘t know about this race. I find it very tough. And let me give you—and I really like Barbara Boxer—I have known her forever. But if I were her, I‘d worry about that number, only 43 percent for a reelect of somebody that everybody knows. So, there‘s nobody in California who doesn‘t know Barbara Boxer.
GREGORY: Yes. And I‘m talking to Republicans out there who say a couple of things.
The anti-Washington anger is real and it‘s severe and it‘s the difference between why Whitman is not doing as well against Brown, but Fiorina is doing well.
GREGORY: Well, because Jerry Brown is still a known figure in California. The Brown names means something.
GREGORY: He can be doing better. It‘s a little bit harder for Boxer.
She‘s running a wedge campaign here. She‘s counting on undecided voters being women, pro-choice, coming out and breaking against Fiorina here. Republicans, working with Fiorina and otherwise think she‘s got a real shot here to put this thing together, because of the economy, because of the anti-Washington sentiment.
MATTHEWS: You know, Howard, I go by body language. And I have been watching Fiorina. She can be a little severe at times. But, lately, I have seen her looking kind of upbeat and happy, like she knows something we don‘t know. It‘s the same thing with Giannoulias this week.
When you look at the candidate and they look tight and they look embittered, you go, they know a lot more than you know.
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I think a couple things. First, Fiorina has learned a lot about campaigning. She was a complete novice at this. She‘s learned a lot.
And she‘s made it more of a race than some people thought it would be, which is giving her some hope.
FINEMAN: And I think a lot of Republicans that I talk to in Washington think she‘s got a real shot now. They‘re already planning to make her part of the leadership if she makes it here, because she‘s good at arguing the case for business.
The other thing is, Chris, don‘t forget, Obama won California with 61
the president won with 61 percent of the vote. And for Boxer to be in this big of a dogfight, with Obama having won just less than two years ago with 61 percent tells you a lot Barbara Boxer‘s weakness in that state.
GREGORY: What about the undecided voter in California who may be a Democrat, working-class Democrat, who if they‘re still undecided at this point, maybe they break for somebody? Maybe they just don‘t vote.
MATTHEWS: I think there‘s a sell-by date. And, again, I think Boxer has been a great liberal, progressive supporter. She‘s been tough and stuck to her guns and has not been trimming on her positions.
But I do think—I look at these races like Specter and over the years. People just reach a point where you have been there too long. And I never know what—sometimes, they don‘t know when that point is.
Let‘s take a look at Nevada. This race, we have been fighting over this thing like we‘re fighting over single votes. Look at this. This is what would drive me crazy if I were either one of these candidates, Harry Reid or Sharron Angle. Look at that. It‘s like a snake entwined there.
These two—it‘s like what you do with a paper clip and you wind it up and it‘s just getting tighter and tighter. Here‘s Angle Thursday at a campaign rally with—well, here‘s Mr. Charm, Newt Gingrich. And when you bring him in, you‘ve got to wonder what message that sends.
Here‘s Newt Gingrich for Sharron Angle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We‘re saying tonight and on November 2 and every day of early voting, man up, Harry Reid.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANGLE: He needs to take some responsibility. He says it‘s not his fault for the economy.
Man up, harry Reid.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANGLE: He says there‘s no problem with Social Security.
Man up, Harry Reid.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANGLE: He says, this war is lost, and your general is dishonest.
You owe us an apology. Man up, Harry Reid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know who is writing those talking points.
Howard, I don‘t get it. There‘s no charm in that. I don‘t understand the gender politics. I get—it changes all the time, but I don‘t understand what man up means. What does it mean?
FINEMAN: Well, Sarah Palin—if Sarah Palin didn‘t write it directly, she wrote it indirectly, because it‘s Sarah Palin who has established this whole line of attack of women candidates, conservative women candidates attacking the manhood of Democrats.
FINEMAN: And it‘s a curious thing that I can‘t completely unpack the emotions of, and I‘m not going to try.
I will just say this about Harry Reid. He‘s never been above 47 percent. You know, he just—he can get, you know, a lot of the way there, but he can‘t get all the way there. Nevada is an economic basket case, especially Las Vegas, one of the worst foreclosure situations in the country.
It‘s just a very, very tough place for him to say, I saved the world.
Harry Reid was saying the other day, you know, if it weren‘t for me, there would be a global depression.
Well, that‘s nice in theory, except, you know, a lot of Las Vegas is in a depression. And that‘s the problem that he‘s got.
MATTHEWS: I know.
OK, let‘s take a look at—let‘s take a look at Harry Reid. And you respond to this. Here‘s Harry Reid defending himself. This is a tough one for a male candidate—a woman candidate comes on that aggressively. Here he is with Ed Schultz last night. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: People in Nevada know me. From the street to the ring to the Senate chambers, I have never had to prove my manhood to anyone. She doesn‘t do any of it. She spends most of her time in her bunker. I don‘t know if it‘s Cheney‘s bunker, but it‘s some kind of a bunker someplace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: David Gregory, your assessment of that response?
MATTHEWS: It‘s tough. He doesn‘t know where to get out of that box he‘s—
And, by the way, I mean, Senator Reid is not exactly out of the bunker, speaking to—on television interviews with people who agree with him.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. He‘s been hard to get as an interview.
GREGORY: And, yes, so you‘ve got some of that going on, on both sides.
I mean, this is fascinating, in that if you‘re an incumbent who‘s the leader of the Senate with the kind of economic problems that Nevada has, where you have got two candidates who are so disliked as these two, what is that dynamic at the very end? He‘s got a great get-out-the-vote operation. How do these undecideds go? This is a particularly ugly race with high stakes in the country.
MATTHEWS: I think the voters of Nevada would like to say, could we see another list of candidates?
MATTHEWS: Howard, last thought, quickly.
FINEMAN: I just want to say, quickly, last Friday, in Las Vegas, the three broadcast television stations put out on the air 1,200 commercials, political ads, in one day -- 1,200 30-second spots in one day. That‘s what going on out there.
GREGORY: That‘s uplifting to people.
MATTHEWS: I think that‘s time to go—go down to Blockbuster and get some alternative.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you—if it‘s still there.
Thank you, David Gregory.
Thank you, Howard Fineman.
What experts we have here.
Up next: The Republican Party continues to celebrate its contention that global warming is a hoax. What happened to the party that used to believe in science? Check out the Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck, what he has to say. I will tell you, these people are unbelievable.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
They‘re wrong on this one.
MATTHEWS: Back to the “Sideshow” after all these days.
And now, first: Where is the love? A local FOX reporter says Republican would-be Senator Sharron Angle shushed him at a Las Vegas event yesterday.
Watch this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Angle addressed a roomful of general contractors during a luncheon at the Orleans. And she didn‘t answer questions immediately, but she did shush me.
Sharon, can we talk to you about why—
Well, I have to get on, but I just want to ask you to get out the vote, OK? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It was off-camera, but she shushed him. At least she didn‘t handcuff him and detain him, which is what her fellow Tea Partier Joe Miller did up in Alaska to another reporter this week. Shushing is much kinder than handcuffing.
Next: Rocky Mountain high. Colorado‘s Tea Party Senate candidate is already in hot water for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism. Well, this Sunday, based on credibility earned from statements like that one, Ken Buck declared this at a fund-raiser attended by arch-conservative Senator Jim Inhofe on Wednesday.
Let‘s listen—quote—“Senator Inhofe was the first person to stand up and say this: Global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated. The evidence just keeps supporting his view, and more and more people‘s view, of what‘s going on.”
Well, as H.L. Mencken once put it, never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced. The senator for Oklahoma is saying what works for him back home in the oil patch. When referees do that, we call it home cooking.
Finally, you say you want a revolution? Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden, a Texas pastor, said last night that a violent overthrow of the U.S. government is—I love this phrase—on the table.
Here‘s the report from a local affiliate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broden says revolution first means at the ballot box, but a violent overthrow is an option.
STEPHEN BRODEN ®, TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Our nation was founded on violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, you would urge that as an option, though?
BRODEN: The option is on the table. I don‘t think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How about removing you from the table? That person shouldn‘t be talking about revolution on television. I don‘t know what he thinks he‘s talking about.
Up next: Why have Democrats had such a hard time selling their achievements?
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HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks ending the day mixed, the Dow slipping 14, the S&P adding two points, the Nasdaq climbing 19. Another strong week of earnings pushing the winning streak to three weeks in a row. Eighty-one percent of companies reporting so far beat bottom-line expectations, two-thirds beating on the top line as well.
Airlines were the real standouts on solid earnings and outlooks across the board.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back other HARDBALL.
Now to the House races and the tough races on November 2 across the country.
Joining me right now is Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson.
It‘s great having you both on.
You know, this is an interesting race. And I do want to talk about the women vote, because, you know, for years, we had the gender gap, and it was seen as a great advantage to Democrats because of issues like health and education and seniors—take care of your parents—women have always been focused more on that than their husbands.
All those issues, child care, have always been issues the Democrats specialized in and have been able to win over women‘s support. Now, look at these numbers right now. Women voters are basically voting 49-43 Democrat—Republican this time, as opposed to last time. They were the other way around.
I just want to ask you, Debbie, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, what is going on that‘s hurting your party with women?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, Chris, those numbers are more broadly national and generic.
If you look at the polling race by race, Democratic incumbent members are significantly up among women voters. And it‘s women voters that are going to make sure that we can continue to move this country in a new direction and fight to create jobs and turn the economy around and focus our tax policy on the middle class and working families.
Race by race, I think women will still make sure that Democrats continue to serve in the majority.
MATTHEWS: Well, Congresswoman Emerson, there has been a 13-point shift toward the Republican Party. It‘s something like a six-point decline and a seven-point increase for you party. So, it‘s a real pronounced shift in your party‘s direction.
What are women liking about the Republican Party and not liking about the Democratic Party this year?
REP. JO ANN EMERSON ®, MISSOURI: I think, Chris, the bottom line is real simple, that women are worried about the—their jobs.
They‘re worried about the economy. They‘re worried about paying bills. They‘re worried about their children going to college, if they want to, and all sorts of things that women traditionally take care of, paying the bills and not quite having enough.
They‘re very concerned, at least in my rural district, about the cost of health care, the fact the government says that they‘ve got to have health care; the fact that we are facing perhaps higher energy taxes. Certainly, if the Congress can‘t pass the cap-and-trade bill, they‘re concerned that EPA is actually going to be implemented this through regulation.
All of which impact the bottom line and their budgets. And that‘s what the women are talking about in my district regardless of party, I might add.
And so, consequently, I think that the lack of focus on the economy, on job creation is what‘s making them uneasy and perhaps because they haven‘t been pleased with the direction that the country is going and the administration.
EMERSON: That‘s why they‘re switching.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll come back some time, we‘ll argue health care. I have a different view.
But let‘s get back to this election right now. In today‘s “Washington Post,” Terry McAuliffe, the long time pal, I must say, of the president, said this about Bill Clinton, “He is just baffled and wildered about why there has not been a more coherent message talking about what the party has done, the Democrats, why we allowed ourselves to become human pinatas. I think he is agitated”—this is Terry McAuliffe about Bill Clinton—
“that Democrats haven‘t put their best foot forward and explain to the American public what they‘ve actually gotten done.”
Your thoughts. I don‘t know what Terry‘s doing, but he was party chairman for a while. I guess he feels he has the responsibility to speak for the former president more candidly than Bill Clinton would himself.
But, Congressman Wasserman Schultz, there you have the word from Bill Clinton that Barack Obama and his team are not doing a good sales job.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, I heard the words from Bill Clinton—directly from Bill Clinton because he was with me in my congressional district just day before yesterday. So, I can tell you that President Clinton is out there fighting to make sure that Democratic candidates, Democrats members are able to get their message out. He‘s actually been—
MATTHEWS: So, he‘s happy with—he‘s happy with the messaging of Barack Obama and your leadership? He‘s happy with that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I know that he thinks that we should continue to present a clear contrast between Democrats and the direction that we would push this country, that the effort to continue to turn the economy around and create jobs, and the fact that Republicans would take us backwards.
And, you know, I have great respect for my—Jo Ann Emerson is one of my closest friends in the Congress. There is—there are some bipartisan things, but I really beg to differ with her on her characterization about women voters. Because women voters understand that it‘s Democrats—
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- that made sure insurance companies weren‘t going to be able to abuse them anymore and treat them like a profit center.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let me go back—
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We need to make sure that—
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to your good friend. We only have a minute.
I‘m sorry. Keep moving, we got a short show tonight.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No problem.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman Emerson, about this pinata.
Nancy Pelosi has been hit harder than any politician. I was out in
Philadelphia the other day and all the ads, I was there for my daughter‘s
parents weekend last weekend—all the ads are blasting. Every Democrat -
there‘s a guy running up there, a male candidate, he‘s not even an incumbent and he‘s being tied to Nancy Pelosi. I haven‘t seen anything like this since Bella Abzug, a woman who‘s far over on the left from New York and I haven‘t seen anything like this.
Why, is it because she‘s a woman? Is it because she looks well off? Is it because she‘s from San Francisco? What is it about Nancy Pelosi that has made her a target? What is this all about?
EMERSON: Well, personally, I think it has a little bit to do with the fact that she is from San Francisco and so, for those folks who live in the Midwest, there appears to be a lack of understanding of what‘s important to us.
MATTHEWS: What‘s wrong with San Francisco? I used to work for a paper out there. What‘s wrong with San Francisco?
EMERSON: My daughter lives there. I think that they think that OK, she‘s from a large city, she‘s from the “left coast,” as people would say, and some people would say, and that she doesn‘t understand Midwest values and what‘s important to those of us from the Midwest because if you look at the agenda with regard to energy, with regard to health care—
EMERSON: -- and those are the things—
MATTHEWS: So, this isn‘t an—this isn‘t an anti-gay thing, huh?
It‘s not an anti-gay thing?
EMERSON: No. I don‘t think it‘s an anti-gay thing.
MATTHEWS: Are you sure? Even though—Kirk Patrick used to talk about San Francisco Democrats in a derogatory way. Go ahead.
EMERSON: So, the reason they don‘t like - the reason they don‘t like Nancy Pelosi is because of gay?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They don‘t like—they don‘t like Nancy Pelosi because she‘s successful.
MATTHEWS: No, the San Francisco ties.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Chris? The reason that these guys don‘t like Nancy Pelosi is because she‘s successful. It‘s because she is the most successful speaker in American history and it just drives them nuts that she‘s been able to pass health care reform and Wall Street reform.
EMERSON: But, Debs, women should like her, too, then?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Women do like her.
EMERSON: Not where I live though.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, but you know what? There‘s not only one place in the country, Jo Ann.
EMERSON: I know. I know.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. We need to go.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you so much. Jo Ann Emerson, congresswoman, thank you so much.
EMERSON: Thank you, Chris.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great to have you on the show. Please come back.
We‘ll talk about health careful.
MATTHEWS: Up next, big corporations at home and overseas are throwing money at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce so that the Chamber of Commerce can bankroll campaigns against Democrats. It‘s totally partisan.
Let‘s follow the money and see who‘s trying to buy what and who, next.
And on Monday, Former President Jimmy Carter joins us here on HARDBALL. And Tuesday, we got David and Julie Eisenhower coming. We‘ve got an interesting week coming up right before the election.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Still 11 days before election, but over 3 million Americans have already cast their ballots, have already voted. Early voting has been strong in this election with registered Democrats surprisingly leading the way.
The “Associated Press” reports that more Democrats than Republicans have already voted in Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, Louisiana and Nevada. Republicans have the edge in two states, Florida and Colorado. And the parties are running even in the other two states, Ohio and Maine, where we have numbers.
It may not be enough to stop a Republican surge, this early Democratic voting, but it‘s a hopeful sign that Democrats are going to be closing what we call the “enthusiasm gap.”
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Follow the money.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today‘s “New York Times” front page screams “Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive.” Well, it‘s just the latest headline on campaign financing with where the rules and games keep changing.
Michael Isikoff is NBC News investigative correspondent. And Faiz Shakir is the editor of “Think Progress” and vice president for the Center for American Progress.
Let‘s take a look at the biggest spending groups out there right now, outside groups that will spend the most this cycle in addition to the party committees, the Republicans and Democrats. AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroad, which is Karl Rove‘s operation, also Crossroads GPS, another one of his operations; the Service Employees International and the National Education Association, which is the large teachers union.
Faiz, this whole question of outside money, has it changed American politics? Is it going to change who wins?
FAIZ SHAKIR, THINKPROGRESS.ORG: Yes, I think that we‘re starting to realize that that the outside money comes for a reason, that‘s outsourcing. The chamber is a big proponent of outsourcing. Tom Donohue has talked about the value of outsourcing. We now know the—
MATTHEWS: Define it in this case, outsourcing.
SHAKIR: Defining—the jobs that are shipped overseas for efficiency and the arguments of the pro-business community.
MATTHEWS: And that‘s how they‘re making case for that?
SHAKIR: Yes, I mean, think about it in Ohio, in Pennsylvania—those are not areas where outsourcing‘s going to play well and here you have the chamber running, as, claiming that that the other Democrat candidate is anti-jobs. How can they—how can they pull that out?
MATTHEWS: So, what they want to do is get to kind of free trade agreements to allow them to ship overseas?
SHAKIR: The interesting part of the free trade argument is the Tea Partiers would—are not people who are in favor of free trade, and yet, they‘re being supported by people like the chamber who are being free trade proponents.
MATTHEWS: You know, I always think this was a pretty decent argument for the Democrats if they made it correctly, don‘t argue about—don‘t be xenophobic for our money. But make the case that it‘s the multinationals who have no loyalty to hiring American workers.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Right.
MATTHEWS: That they see the whole world as a global labor market and they can move something out, outsource and get a vendor over there.
MATTHEWS: If they can put a person on part-time, not full-time—they‘re not looking out to get jobs for people.
ISIKOFF: But, look, in terms of the story of this election on campaign finance, I would make a distinction between the group --- some the groups you mentioned like AFSCME and the chamber and others that are well-established groups—people pretty much know who they are, where they‘re coming from—and these new groups that have popped up in the wake of Citizens United, nonprofits whose names nobody never heard of, American Crossroad, American Action Fund, Future Fund, others—nobody knows who they are, what they stand for, and who‘s funding them. Because now you can use—
MATTHEWS: Launder your money.
ISIKOFF: -- you can use nonprofits to collect as much money as you want, through these big donations as you want, and not disclose them. And that‘s what‘s significant and different in this election compared to the last.
Outside expenditures—sure. We‘ve seen that in the last few elections on both sides, Democrats have played the game as well as Republicans. But the new wrinkle is outside expenditures with undisclosed money.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at the president. He‘s talking about it now. I‘m not sure that he‘s resounding people. But here is in Oregon.
Let‘s listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They‘re running misleading negative ads all across America. And these folks, they don‘t disclose who the donors are. They‘ve got these innocent-sounding names, you know, Americans for Prosperity, or moms for motherhood—I made that last one up, but—but you don‘t know where in money‘s coming from. It could be insurance companies, Wall Street banks, could be foreign control corporations—we don‘t know. This is not just a threat to Democrats. This is a threat to democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We just heard from David Gregory and from Howard Fineman, this is cutting with working Democrats up there. Bread and butter Democrats don‘t like the sound of this.
SHAKIR: The argument I make is that we had the swift boating of John Kerry in 2004. We‘re having the swift boating of democracy in 2010. We‘re testing the one person-one vote theory. It‘s now more money, more votes.
MATTHEWS: It‘s like all these think-tanks in Washington, all that stuff. It‘s all undermined, there‘s so much coming to them by the right.
Anyway, thank you, Michael Isikoff. Thank you, Faiz Shakir.
When we return let me finish of what I saw on the face of those young people we met during the college tour this week.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the joy it was to go out this week to those college campuses.
You know, you can give all the speeches in the world about democracy, but there‘s nothing like getting out there with real American young people, with all of their hope and dreams and vulnerability. They don‘t have it made—but, boy, do they have wonder in their eyes?
Here are some voices from the college tour, fresh from American youth, first from the University of Louisville, then the University of Illinois in Chicago, finally, from Temple University last night in north Philadelphia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question to you would be: what can we do to bring back civility in the process?
MATTHEWS: And your answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My answer would be for—for us to talk more about the policies and less about the personal attacks and to make sure that we‘re really looking forward and advocating for a much better America, the kind of America that you inherited.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need infrastructure. We need to build high-speed rail, we need to put Americans to work and produce things in this country again.
MATTHEWS: Real jobs. Real jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it‘s pretty good to actually came by and stopped by to talk us to. I mean, a lot of people, like she said, are uninformed, and if you actually get to talk to them, actually one-on-one with the actual politicians, you‘ll get on see—
MATTHEWS: Keep the pressure on them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- whether they‘re—
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Well, we started going out to campuses in election years more than a decade ago and I love it, the excitement, the road, the walking onto each new campus, all of the human traffic out there—and what it must be even for them, to say it out loud, the hope, the aspiration, the fear, the job search, the parents hanging over them with their hopes, their worries, their dreams.
What a great country this is to come of age in, and what a great opportunity we‘ve had, the bunch of us who work on HARDBALL to race across country with the college tour. I wish we could do it every day of the week and every college university in the country, because they all deserve to speak and all deserve to be heard.
Everyone talks about getting young people to get involved in our elections. I‘m so glad that we get to bring politics right to them. It shows two things we don‘t show enough of: their citizenship, their interest, their concerns and our real active respect for all of it.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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