Guests: Trish Regan, Chaka Fattah, Steve Scalise, Todd Harris, Steve McMahon, Ari Rabin-Havt, Joan Walsh, Pervez Musharaf
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Democrats to voters—No change.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Who takes the fall? This Tuesday, voters demanded change. As of this Friday, Democrats have their answer. No change coming, nothing. The White House staff—great team, doing great. Why change? No change there. The cabinet—doing a great job, everybody. Why change? No change there. And the congressional leadership, why change? No change.
Today Nancy Pelosi said she will remain as the House Democratic leader. Harry Reid stays on as the leader of the Senate Democrats. So let‘s see, after the biggest Democratic defeat in the House since 1938, more than 60 seats gone, no change in the cabinet, no change in the White House, no change on Capitol Hill. Everything‘s hunky-dory.
Actually, it gets worse. The trouble‘s not going away, it‘s going to get worse. The week after next comes the big public hearing on New York‘s Charles Rangel. The week after that, the hearing on California‘s Maxine Waters, both on ethics charges. What gives? The lights are on up on Capitol Hill. Is anyone home? Have the Democrats condemned themselves to an endless autumn of despair? Do they think people don‘t notice when you knock on the door and no one opens?
Plus, mid-term exam. Even if the Democrats didn‘t learn anything from the mid-term elections, others did. The HARDBALL strategists are here to debate what happened and what might happen next.
And if anyone thought the Republican win would tone down the gung-ho right, think about it. The latest is that President Obama‘s trip to India will involve 3,000 people, 34 warships will be dispatched, and will cost, the trip, $2 billion. Do you buy this nonsense, or do you just sell it? Do they buy it, or are they just selling it, this angry stuff?
Also, in this corner, a 7-Eleven Slurpee. In that corner, a glass of Merlot. Washington‘s latest blue versus red state battle lines in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”
Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with former president Bush, his new book and more evidence of his world view that something becomes true if you simply say it‘s true.
We start with the Democrats. Congressman Steve Scalise is a Republican from Louisiana and Congressman Chaka Fattah is a Democrat from Pennsylvania. Gentlemen, thank you both and congratulations both, perhaps more so to Chaka Fatah because it‘s always tough this year for a Democrat to get reelected. So sir, as always, I extend to you my warm congratulations, and also to you, Mr. Scalise. I have great respect—
REP. STEVE SCALISE ®, LOUISIANA: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- for public officials, especially ones who put their good name and their reputation on the line to face the voters every two years in the people‘s House.
Now, Speaker Pelosi‘s letter to her Democratic colleagues reads, in part, “Many of our colleagues have called with their recommendations on how to continue our fight for the middle class and have encouraged me to run for House Democratic leader. Based on those discussions and driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare, I‘ve decided to run.”
Let me go to Congressman Fattah. It‘s in your caucus. It‘s your support that matters to her. Is it important that after you take a drubbing and lose 60-some seats that the Democratic leadership shows some sign of having heard the message, or should they continue on as they were? What‘s the answer?
REP. CHAKA FATAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think what‘s important is that you believe and you have a set of convictions. Now, we believe we did the right thing on behalf of the country. This is a protracted fight to perfect our union, and we lost a round on Tuesday. But when you have adversity, it induces (ph) one to themselves. And we‘re committed to what we‘re doing.
And there‘s only one person in our ranks who ever served as a minority leader who led us into the majority. That‘s Nancy Pelosi. We believe that she can do it again. Now, the fact of the matter is that when I voted against the Iraq war, it was popular in the country. The majority of the people supported it. Well, now the majority of the people think it was a mistake. We put 5 million kids on health care insurance through the CHIP program, 30 million adults through the Affordable Care Act. It‘s not popular today. Well, when we did the Voting Rights Act, it wasn‘t popular.
FATTAH: When—you know, you go through a whole list of things that weren‘t popular. You have to do what‘s right. We did it. We suffered the consequences. We‘re going to stick and stay and go forward into the next election, and we‘re going to keep fighting on behalf of working families.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me try to offer some reporting up here, Congressman Fattah. It seems to me that the story out there I‘ve gotten, as of a few minutes ago, is that Nancy Pelosi understood she‘d become a lightning rod across the country, being from San Francisco, a liberal town, and being a leader, as you say, fighting for all these tough causes, and offered to pull out of this race and let Chris Van Hollen take her place. But she couldn‘t transfer her votes effectively enough to defeat Steny Hoyer, who‘s majority right now and wants the job. Is that the fact or not the fact, what I just?
FATTAH: It‘s not the fact. And again, there‘s one person who has the
MATTHEWS: She didn‘t offer to step aside for Chris van Hollen to take on Steny but the votes weren‘t there? That didn‘t happen, you‘re saying?
FATTAH: It didn‘t happen. And the experience of leading us as the minority leader into the majority belongs to singly one person in our caucus, Nancy Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: But she didn‘t offer to pull out?
FATTAH: She‘s done it before.
MATTHEWS: OK, one last try, Congressman. Nancy Pelosi never said that she would let Chris Van Hollen run because she recognized that she‘d become a lightning rod?
FATTAH: Look, if you‘re in a boxing match and you lose a round, that doesn‘t mean you don‘t get up and answer the next round. We‘ll be back. We‘re going to stand for what we believe in.
FATTAH: And we believe that as we go forward, we will win and lose elections—
FATTAH: -- but we have to stick to our principles.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Congressman Scalise about the Republican Party. Is your party going to negotiate with President Obama, or simply try to get him out of office—remove his health care plan, basically impeach him, make him irrelevant and then get rid of him? Is that your goal?
SCALISE: No, Chris, our goal is to get the American economy back on track and create jobs. And if you look, the last two years, we‘ve actually proposed solutions to try to accomplish those things, but President Obama and Speaker Pelosi basically said, We‘ve got the votes, we‘re just going to discount the Republican ideas and we‘re going to ram this liberal agenda down your throat. Well, Tuesday night, the American people soundly rejected that liberal agenda.
You know, I‘m surprised that Speaker Pelosi is still so tone deaf that she still wants to stick around and hold onto that power as long as she can. But I mean, you know, whether John Boehner yanks that gavel out of her hand or not, she‘s going to lose the gavel and the airplane and all those other things, and she‘s just got to recognize that there was a sounding (SIC) defeat that that liberal agenda took—
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re a little—
SCALISE: -- and the country just doesn‘t want us going down that road.
MATTHEWS: Why is everybody so petty? She doesn‘t get the airplane as minority leader.
SCALISE: Well, I mean, ultimately, you got to look at—
MATTHEWS: Why are you talking about that thing?
SCALISE: -- what the right agenda is—
MATTHEWS: And why are you throwing a shot at her about the airplane that she doesn‘t get as Speaker?
SCALISE: You know—
MATTHEWS: She won‘t be Speaker. We know that. So why did you say she‘s trying to hold onto the airplane? She doesn‘t get—
SCALISE: Chris, I‘m just—
MATTHEWS: -- an airplane as majority leader?
SCALISE: Chris, I‘m just surprised—
MATTHEWS: So you just took a cheap shot there.
SCALISE: I‘m just surprised that—
MATTHEWS: That was just a cheap shot.
SCALISE: -- they don‘t get the message that was sent.
MATTHEWS: No, but why did you throw in the airplane part? What‘s that got to do with the American people and producing jobs?
SCALISE: Well, regardless—regardless of all of that, I‘ve said—
MATTHEWS: What has that got to do—
SCALISE: -- what our agenda is going to be—
MATTHEWS: -- with producing jobs? Sir, you ask for bipartisan cooperation—
SCALISE: Our agenda is going to be producing jobs, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- and then you throw the old—you know, the old skunk at her. You know, why is it relevant whether she has an airplane or not? She won‘t have one as Republican (SIC) leader, so why bring it up? I‘m just asking why‘d you bring it up.
SCALISE: Well, Chris, I told you at the very beginning what our agenda is going to be, and in fact—
SCALISE: -- we‘ve reached out to the president—
MATTHEWS: Your agenda seems to be to dump on her. Let me ask you this—
SCALISE: No, but we‘ve reached out to the president—
MATTHEWS: Why do you guys do the cheap shots—
SCALISE: -- to work with us.
MATTHEWS: Look, here‘s the thing the American people listen to. They go, Wait a minute, they want to get along, all they have to do is meet and negotiate the issues of taxes.
Now, it seems to me—I want to go back to Congressman Fattah. It seems to me the president has put up not the white flag, but he—not throwing in the towel, but he said, Look, we‘ll negotiate on things like accelerate depreciation for business. We‘ll talk about the tax cut and how we can extend it. His primary goal is for middle class people. He may have to extend it at least temporarily for people with more money.
Is that true? Your president is negotiating? He‘s actually doing it in public, from what I can tell, on these big issues?
FATTAH: Well, the president has been reaching out to Republicans from the beginning. When he came over and visited the Republican caucus two years ago, they had already decided that they were all going to vote no on everything. But we still have a million more jobs this year, private sector job increases. We saw 150,000 new jobs in the day‘s report. Those are to the credit of the Democratic Congress.
And even if we lost seats—you know, Chris, we lost seats when we passed the assault weapons ban. There were members who walked on the floor and said, I‘m going to lose my seat, but I‘m going to save thousands of lives. We have to do what‘s right on behalf of our country. The politics will take care of itself.
The Republicans now have to join the governing majority. They have to offer real solutions and vote for them. And they have to add up. The math has to add up. If they want $4 trillion in tax cuts and they want to balance the budget, they can‘t offer up $16 billion in cuts and say somehow that balances.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts on that, Congressman Scalise. Do you have to balance off—if there‘s more tax relief coming in terms of continuing the Bush tax cuts, does that have to be offset with spending cuts?
SCALISE: Well, Chris, I think our responsibility is to lay out an agenda that actually solves the problems of the country, and we started that with the “Pledge to America.” One of the things we said was, day one, when we come out, we‘re laying out $100 billion in spending cuts because we‘ve got to get control on spending. We‘ve also got to have stability in the tax code. I think the worse thing we can do in our economy is raise taxes on anybody because we need to create jobs.
MATTHEWS: Well, OK. So you want—
SCALISE: And our small businesses are afraid—
MATTHEWS: So what about this negotiation—
SCALISE: -- to make an investment.
MATTHEWS: -- with the president? Are you going to negotiate with him on how to extend some of the Bush tax cuts, or are you going to say all or nothing? What‘s your position, all or nothing?
SCALISE: We‘re going to sit down—we‘re going to sit down with the president, and if he‘s willing to work with us, we‘ve got a lot of things that we want to put down as an agenda that we can work with him on.
MATTHEWS: Will you negotiate with him—
SCALISE: And I hope he does that.
MATTHEWS: -- on taxes, or do you just have an absolute bottom line? The Bush tax cuts continue permanently forever and no discussion? Is that your position?
SCALISE: Look, it‘s not about my position or the president‘s position or anybody else‘s—
MATTHEWS: Well, why can‘t you tell me?
SCALISE: This is about—well, Chris, first of all—
MATTHEWS: Tell me! Will you negotiate with the president—
SCALISE: You show me one economist that says raising taxes on anybody
in tough times is going to create jobs. It actually will kill jobs. And
so we‘ve got to be focused on an agenda that gets people back to work. And
that‘s what we‘re going to be working towards. And it has nothing to do
with ideology, it has to do with the things that have been found and proven
MATTHEWS: Would you—would you—would you be willing now to say that you like the idea of the president‘s effort through the nonpartisan or bipartisan debt commission to try to reduce, in a bipartisan fashion, the federal debt over time, especially dealing with issues like the entitlements? Are you willing to go along with that item?
SCALISE: Well, we all need to be focused on not only reducing—
MATTHEWS: Well, no—
SCALISE: -- the deficit and the debt—
MATTHEWS: -- the debt commission, which is bipartisan.
SCALISE: Yes, as long as it‘s not—
MATTHEWS: Will you back it?
SCALISE: As long as it‘s not a group that‘s set up to try to raise taxes. And there is concern about that because, again, tax increases have never been proven to help anything, except growing the size of government and killing jobs.
MATTHEWS: So you think—so you already have poisoned the well by saying it‘s just a tax-writing committee.
SCALISE: Well, it seems that way, but we‘ve got to see what they come out with. But I‘m sure we‘re not—
MATTHEWS: Paul Ryan‘s on that group.
SCALISE: -- going to blanket (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Paul Ryan‘s a tax—is he a tax and spender?
SCALISE: Well, Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling—no, Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling have very sound plans. They‘re in a minority—
MATTHEWS: Is Alan Simpson a taxer?
SCALISE: They‘re in the minority of that committee, so—
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t Alan Simpson over there as co-chair? Is he a taxer?
SCALISE: I‘ll reserve judgment until they come out with a plan, but I hope it‘s not a plan to raise taxes because that would not be a plan that makes any sense.
MATTHEWS: So no matter how many cuts there are in spending in that program, no matter how—what the ratio is of spending cuts to tax increases, you aren‘t going to buy it.
SCALISE: Well, I want to have a plan that creates jobs, and raising taxes kills jobs, Chris. And you can see it in the—
MATTHEWS: OK, balancing the budget over time kills jobs?
SCALISE: Balancing the budget is what we need to do, but cutting taxes—
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
SCALISE: -- has actually been proven to help balance the budget. We just have to control spending.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re a supply-sider. You‘re a supply-sider.
SCALISE: Yes, I am.
MATTHEWS: You‘re not a fiscalist. You‘re not a budget hawk.
SCALISE: I‘m a fiscal conservative. And in fact, we‘ve—
MATTHEWS: No, you‘re a supply-sider.
SCALISE: -- balanced the budget while—
MATTHEWS: It‘s one or the other. I know, I know, I know. You got the dream world—
SCALISE: No, it‘s not one or the other, Chris-
MATTHEWS: If you lower the tax rate, the more money comes in, right?
SCALISE: Go look at—go look at—
MATTHEWS: In other words, the more the government reduces the taxes, the more revenues flow in, right? Just keep lowering the rate.
SCALISE: If you control spending.
MATTHEWS: No, just keep lowering the rate.
SCALISE: If you lower the rate and control spending, you‘ll balance -
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s—OK—
SCALISE: -- the budget.
FATTAH: Well, let me just say this, Chris—
MATTHEWS: You know what? This sounds like ideological malarkey.
FATTAH: Let me just say this, Chris—
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Congressman Fattah.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to back this budget commission, the debt commission the president‘s put together, bipartisan commission? Because all this talk—
FATTAH: That commission is going to report on December 1.
FATTAH: There‘s going to be an up or down vote, and I‘m going to vote to get our fiscal house in order. What we need—and it has to be bipartisan. That is, it has to have Republican support. And Senator Coburn from—is on that commission. Paul Ryan‘s on there. I don‘t think that we can suggest that they‘re not going to be responsible. If they offer up a proposal that rights our fiscal ship, it‘s the most important signal we can send to the markets not just here but around the world, and it‘s the way that we start to get our economy in a healthy position so that it can grow jobs.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Scalise, last word?
SCALISE: Ultimately, I want to see us not only balance the federal budget but lay out a path that gets our economy back on track and creates jobs. Tax increases has been proven not to do it. Cutting taxes works. The problem we‘ve had with deficits is that when they cut taxes, it brings in more money, but Congress spent too much money that created those deficits. So control spending and cut taxes. That‘s a formula for job growth and stability in our economy.
MATTHEWS: So cutting taxes—if you were to cut the tax rate dramatically today, Congressman, are you saying we would have more federal revenue?
SCALISE: Yes. And in fact, history shows, when the Bush tax cuts—
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking you if you believe—
SCALISE: -- went into effect in 2003. Go look at—
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking you—
SCALISE: -- the numbers, Chris. Go look at the numbers under Reagan and Bush. It works.
MATTHEWS: In other words, why don‘t we lower the tax rate to—why don‘t we lower all taxes down to about 1 percent, or frankly, just 1 or 2 percent because by your theory, the lower the rate goes, the more revenue flows in. That is insane.
SCALISE: Look, I‘ll challenge you to go look at the numbers. When they cut taxes in ‘03, you had 48 consecutive months of job growth, and the federal government took in more money.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I noticed that we had—
SCALISE: Forty-eight straight months!
MATTHEWS: We have—we doubled the national debt under Bush.
SCALISE: Go look at the numbers! Go look at the numbers—
MATTHEWS: I look at them all the time. And you know what happened.
FATTAH: We tried this under Bush, eight years, tax cuts, we know what happened. Our economy fell off a cliff.
SCALISE: -- spent too much money.
FATTAH: -- millions of jobs lost while the Republicans were in charge of the Congress.
SCALISE: It‘s the spending!
MATTHEWS: Ronald Reagan was president for eight years. He got the supply-side gobbledy-gook for eight years. We ended up doubling the national debt. He never balanced the budget, never got near balancing it.
SCALISE: The Democratic Congress did do that, you‘re right.
MATTHEWS: It was always $300 billion—you know, there‘s always a way out. You know, your theory will never be tested.
FATTAH: We need to have broad-based tax reform. We need to balance our budget, all right, pay as we go. And we know who‘s fiscally responsible and we know what the Republicans have done, and you‘re going to see them again. They want to have $4 trillion in tax cuts, and they want to offer up—give them generously what he said, $100 billion in tax cuts. Tell me how that math adds up.
SCALISE: In spending.
SCALISE: In spending cuts. We‘ve laid out the spending cuts—
MATTHEWS: OK, one of you gentlemen has said you‘ll support the bipartisan debt reduction effort in principle, one of you won‘t say you‘ll support it in principle. That‘s telling. Fiscal conservatives should be for balancing the budget, eventually—
SCALISE: Without tax increases.
MATTHEWS: -- and be for it in principle. That‘s politics. Thank you, sir. That is pure politics. Thank you—nobody likes taxes.
SCALISE: Democrats had a balanced budget.
MATTHEWS: Cutting taxes is the easiest political move in history.
FATTAH: Under President Clinton.
MATTHEWS: It require is no guts.
SCALISE: With a Republican Congress.
MATTHEWS: Anybody can cut taxes. You can be selling that on the street corner and people will buy it. Thank you, Congressman Scalise. Maybe that‘s why Republicans win elections, just promise free money. Thank you, Congressman Fattah. Coming up—
SCALISE: Go look at the numbers. But good to be with you.
FATTAH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And by the way, check the Reagan deficits, buddy. I was there, Congressman. He doubled the national debt. Your president, W. Bush, he doubled the national debt. It‘s a fact. Why do you keep denying the facts?
SCALISE: The federal government took in more money, Chris. The federal government took in more money. It was the spending that created the deficits.
MATTHEWS: The economy grows. Obviously, it brings in more money—
SCALISE: -- work every time.
MATTHEWS: Well, then just lower—by your theory, we should have 1 percent tax cuts—actually, 1 percent taxes, then we‘ll bring in zillions of dollars, by your theory. I‘m sorry. I‘m being sarcastic because—
MATTHEWS: I think it deserves sarcasm. Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Congressman. Please come back. We‘ll argue again. You‘re good at it.
SCALISE: Great to be with you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Coming up: It looks like the Democrats have a real problem in big tent country, right across the industrial Midwest, that Scranton to Oshkosh sweep of the country. They don‘t like being called Rust Belt. (INAUDIBLE) help to get President Obama reelected. If you want him reelected, he better find a way to get reelected. That means jobs, and what they can do about it in the White House, and what they can do about it in Congress, and what did they learn from the mid-terms this week. It‘s only a couple days ago. Is the memory sinking in?
You‘re watch HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re coming back in a minute with our strategists to talk about what we learned from Tuesday‘s mid-term elections. HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stopped paying attention to the fact that, you know, leadership isn‘t just legislation, that it‘s a matter of persuading people and giving them confidence and bringing them together and setting a tone and making an argument that people can understand. And I think that we haven‘t always been successful at that, and I take personal responsibility for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Obama in an interview with “60 Minutes” that will air this Sunday on CBS. The president says that he—the midterm told him that he didn‘t make the case well enough.
So, what else did we learn from the midterm, except for bad communications?
Let‘s ask the strategists, Democratic expert Steve McMahon and
Republican expert Todd Harris, who just won a big election in Florida with
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: -- that nice little fellow there—
MATTHEWS: Just kidding.
HARRIS: That‘s senator-elect to you, buddy.
MATTHEWS: Senator-elect Rubio.
MATTHEWS: I shouldn‘t be derogatory. I have respect for winning the United States Senate.
Lesson number one, the red wave from Scranton to Oshkosh. I want to ask you, Steve, about this. Democrats—see that part of the country? I have been talking about it for weeks, but it was an astounding wipeout—
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: -- all the way—I mean, Sestak ran a hell of race. Giannoulias ran a really good race, all beat and all the way across there right in that part of the country where we used to make everything in this country. We‘re not making anything in that part of the country much anymore.
MATTHEWS: Is that part of the problem?
MCMAHON: That is actually—that is a big part of the problem. We‘re not making anything in that part of the country. People are feeling squeezed. They‘re feeling economically challenged. And they see—
MATTHEWS: They‘re blaming the D‘s.
MCMAHON: And they see a Democratic Party in Washington that they think is not doing enough to address their economic concerns.
And, as a result, you have got blue-collar Democrats that are now, you know, Reagan Democrats, some of whom are voting Republican. Independents, which Democrats used to carry fairly reliably by 18 or 20 points, now this time went for the Republicans by 18 or 20.
MATTHEWS: You have defined the problem. What can the Democrats do about it?
MCMAHON: Well, I think the Democrats have to figure out—they have to first of all understand that elections are won in the middle. And the president and the Democrats in the leadership have to figure out how to get the independent voter back, because if the independent voters go Republican by a 3-2 margin in 2012, we‘re going to see this again.
HARRIS: It‘s not a—this is not a foreign language for Democrats. Bill Clinton, better than just about any politician in recent memory, had a way of talking to and connecting the Democratic Party to the middle class.
And until the Democratic Party starts doing that again, I think they‘re going to continue to—
MATTHEWS: The real middle class, not the fancy middle class. You‘re right.
HARRIS: Yes, the real middle class, right.
HARRIS: And Clinton could do it. And this president can‘t.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about your party for a second. It‘s more fun right now.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a lot more fun for some people, including me. It‘s more fun.
Let‘s take a look at the Tea Party crowd. It‘s interesting. If you look at them, I‘m not going to say Sarah Palin is the magic wizard or anything, but I look at this race and I look at the people that won with her backing. Rand Paul probably didn‘t need her backing. He‘s a really—in many ways, he‘s a really gusty pol who says what he believes, which is so rare in politics, just: I‘m a conservative. This is what I believe.
Rubio was way out ahead. But Haley, I think she definitely benefited in South Carolina from—she came way back from the pack because of the governor of Alaska at the time. And Rick Perry, of course, may be running for president. And he had his own act going there.
But, look, Ken Buck lost in Colorado, a close one. Carl Paladino was kind of a joke. Christine O‘Donnell, again, not a serious politician. Sharron Angle, too extreme. So, what‘s the message on the Sarah Palin brand here?
HARRIS: Well, I‘m not sure that it‘s just Palin.
MATTHEWS: The Tea Party.
HARRIS: I think I think it was a mixed bag. I think there‘s no question there our candidates like—
MATTHEWS: Again, you define the situation. What can she help with and what can‘t she do? Or what can the Tea Party do and they can‘t --
HARRIS: Both of them, whether Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, can create a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. And you see that, whether it‘s in a state like Delaware, which is a blue state, or a state like Florida, the quintessential swing state.
I think that the lesson, I‘m hoping, for a lot of the people involved in the Tea Party is a lesson that it took the Republican Party a very long time to learn, which is, you should nominate or back the most conservative candidate in the primary who can actually win a general election.
MATTHEWS: The health care thing. It‘s taken a lot of flogging, the health care issue, the health care—the Obama health care thing. But when you look at the polling numbers—and polling numbers have been really good this election. They‘re really—yes, as we all know, right up to Election Day, we were looking at the results almost.
MATTHEWS: There were very few surprises, maybe within one or two points.
And if people were—if you look at the polling data, it‘s not so bad on Obamacare. Despite all, bad sales pitch, nobody‘s out there selling it, nobody, and yet people are going, yes, mezza mezza, maybe a little bit negative, but, overall, it‘s not hated. It‘s not like—you know, Nancy Pelosi‘s not popular or some individual politician.
People are going, well, maybe.
MATTHEWS: So, what is the story on health care? Nobody‘s sold it, everybody attacked it, and it‘s still hanging up there.
MCMAHON: Well, first of all, it‘s a lot easier to attack something that‘s complicated than it is to explain it. And so that was an advantage the Republicans had. They actually took good advantage of that fact.
I think health care reform is going to be more and more popular as time passes, because people will understand better what‘s in it. But what‘s really going on if you look at those numbers and behind those numbers is independents—so the numbers are mixed. It‘s about a 50/50 split.
But if you look at seniors, who vote all the time, the health care reform has not been adequately explained, is not very popular.
MATTHEWS: But they have health care already.
MCMAHON: Well, I know they do, but that‘s why they don‘t really feel like they needed to—we needed to pass health care reform to take care of all those other people.
You mean the ship might sink?
MCMAHON: Well, maybe. And if you look at independent voters, health care reform isn‘t very popular, again probably because it hasn‘t been very well explained. But those are the two—those two groups—
MCMAHON: -- they don‘t like it.
MATTHEWS: Will your side gain politically if they spend the first six months of next year trying to impeach, basically, health care, the way they tried to impeach Clinton, just spend all their time trying to destroying something that was built? Will that help your party?
HARRIS: Well, if all of the focus is simply on repeal, and they‘re not talking about what kind of system they would replace it with, I don‘t think it‘s a political winner.
If they spend equal time talking about how we need to change the system, repeal this system, but what we want to replace it with, I think it can be a political winner. And here‘s why. The question of, do you support it or do you don‘t only tells a small part of the story.
HARRIS: Where the intensity was in this election was not—was people who are opposed to health care.
MATTHEWS: I agree. And, by the way, OK, 30 seconds.
MCMAHON: Mitch McConnell is not going to do—
MATTHEWS: Thirty seconds.
Why did big money seem to kill Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina?
MCMAHON: Well, because they ran in blue states and they were red candidates. And they were pretty well defined as red candidates.
MATTHEWS: OK. By the way, does big money still help you?
MATTHEWS: Are you still better off being rich than poor?
MCMAHON: You are, on the margin. But if you‘re a Republican trying to win a Democratic state, big money isn‘t going to do it.
MATTHEWS: So, the message that Meg Whitman lost because she just spent too much boodles of money is not the good message?
HARRIS: Yes, I don‘t buy that. California does have a long history of turning its back on—
HARRIS: Checchi, Huffington. There are a long history of big-spenders who have come up short.
MCMAHON: It‘s a blue state.
MATTHEWS: Interesting that people—you think it‘s simple?
MCMAHON: Blue state.
MATTHEWS: So you would like to have a rich Democrat?
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MCMAHON: If there are any out there.
MATTHEWS: Good for consultants, too.
Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon.
HARRIS: Steve McMahon, ladies and gentlemen.
MATTHEWS: What percent is it?
Anyway, Todd Harris, congratulations.
HARRIS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think—I would like to have Rubio on the show, if you can bring him on.
MCMAHON: Todd will get him on.
MATTHEWS: That would be nice.
MATTHEWS: I will be tough, but not so tough with him. I will give him one nice—
HARRIS: Hey, we did seven debates.
MATTHEWS: One softball. Then we will get serious.
HARRIS: He can handle it.
MATTHEWS: Up next: It just may be Washington‘s latest blue vs.—battle, look, a Slurpee, which is a sort of blue, 7-11, or a glass of merlot, which is red wine, which Mr.—bad move, wasn‘t it? Bad move by Boehner. He wants a merlot, waiter.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
Remember this bizarre exchange from the president‘s post-election newser?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: I want to ask if you‘re going to have John Boehner over for a Slurpee—
QUESTION: -- but I actually have a serious question.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I might serve a—they‘re delicious drinks.
OBAMA: The Slurpee summit. That‘s good. I like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was Mark Halperin.
Anyway, not one to let the moment go to waste, 7/Eleven has come out with an ad today in the big papers, “One Slurpee Nation”—there it is—featuring red and blue straws in a purple drink.
I wish the politicians could be as lickety-split as the ad men.
By the way, Mr. Boehner yesterday was asked about that Slurpee summit. His response, he would prefer, as we said, a glass of merlot than—very well, sir, a glass of merlot coming up. So, it‘s red wine, the drink of the red states perhaps.
Next, a Shermanesque declaration, if I have ever heard one. Here‘s New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on making the big run for president, or not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY: I have said I don‘t want to. I‘m not going to. There‘s zero chance I will. I don‘t feel like I‘m ready to be president. I don‘t want to run for president. I don‘t have the fire in the belly to run for president.
But yet everybody still thinks, well, he‘s left the door open a little bit. And I don‘t—you know, short of suicide, I don‘t really know what I would have to do to convince you people that I‘m not running.
I‘m not running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I love the way this guy talks. And I have to say, I like the guy. Christie may not run in 2012, but, boy, will he have an impact if a guy with that kind of moxie makes an endorsement.
Up next: Now that the midterms are over, it‘s back to insanity.
Many on the right are hyperventilating now about President Obama‘s trip to India. They‘re trying to say the trip is going to cost $2 billion overall—that‘s billion with a B. It‘s all false. It‘s all malarkey. This is my word tonight, malarkey. And they‘re saying it anyway.
You‘re watching HARDBALL.
They outsourced it from some newspaper in India, which has no source of information.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
TRISH REGAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, everyone. I‘m Trish Regan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks clawing back to a positive close after some midday declines. Taking a look at those numbers, the Dow tacked on nine points. The S&P climbed four, and the Nasdaq inching up about a point-and-a-half. Investors locking in profits after a fifth straight week of gains. The S&P is already up 17 percent in September.
We were also seeing the results of a stronger dollar boosted by a surprisingly robust jobs report. Payrolls, they rose by 151,000 in the month of October. That‘s more than double what analysts had been anticipating. The unemployment rate, however, holding steady at 9.6 percent.
Wall Street did get its first glimpse of potential legal repercussions over mortgage-backed security lawsuits. A Bank of America filing show it‘s facing suits worth more than $375 billion.
Shares of Massey Energy soaring today on a rumor it‘s fielding a takeover offer from rival coal producer ANR. But Boeing shares, they are skidding after-hours on reports that deliveries of some of its new 787 Dreamliners could be delayed up to 10 months.
That‘s it from CNBC. We‘re first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Passage to India. President Obama left for a 10-day trip to Asia today, but, before he left, the right wing was tripping all over itself, making up numbers about the scope and cost of the visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “ANDERSON COOPER 360”)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: I think we know that, just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He‘s taking 2,000 people with him.
He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HANNITY”)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: Two hundred million dollars a day, 3,000 people? He‘s—he needs the whole Taj Mahal Hotel?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s actually reported. I mean, it seems like -
GLENN BECK, HOST, “GLENN BECK”: No, no, no, it‘s $2 billion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BECK: We have 34 warships. Have you seen this?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Five hundred and seven rooms at the Taj Mahal, 40 airplanes -- $200 million a day this nation will spend on Obama‘s trip to India.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s not journalism. I don‘t know what you would call it, but that‘s just mouthing a line that was given to them by an Indian newspaper that had absolutely no source of proper information. All strange.
Anyway, first, Congresswoman Bachmann says they‘re renting 870 rooms at the Taj Mahal Hotel. The hotel only has about 560 rooms. Just the numbers here: The trip costs $200 million a day, makes it more expensive than the Afghanistan war, which costs $190 million a day, just for comparison.
President Clinton‘s six-day -- 12-day trip to Africa, which is no different than this president‘s trip, same airplane, same costs, with 1,300 staffers aboard, only cost $3.6 million a day, not $200 million.
Now, these are expensive trips, but this talk of $2 billion, $200 million a day, is malarkey, again, a word I have used a third time tonight, because it‘s appropriate, according to the GAO.
And now the White House communication director put out the following statement. I guess they felt they had to fight this clatter of disinformation.
Quote: “Let me—let us be unequivocal. The numbers reported have no basis in reality. Due to security concerns, we can‘t get into details associated with the procedures of security and costs, but it‘s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated, and President Obama‘s costs are in line with the costs of protecting previous presidents,” obviously.
Joan Walsh is editor of Salon.com. Ari Rabin-Havt is vice president of Media Matters.
I want to go to Ari first of all.
You guys are pretty good at these numbers. And I want to ask you about this. First of all, I consider this whole thing disgustingly ad hominem. It‘s an attack on our president. And sometimes I do think there‘s an ethnic aspect. I have never heard of a president being attacked on the cost of his trips, like he‘s not worthy to travel, because of what?
Why isn‘t he worthy to make a presidential trip to one of the most important countries in the world right now, India? India and China are the future. If we‘re not dealing with them, I don‘t who we should be dealing with overseas. Denmark? I mean, who is he supposed to be dealing with?
And that‘s the question. I want to ask you the facts. How do you look at these facts? Ari, just tell me what—your assessment of these numbers that have been thrown out by that Indian newspaper that had no access to White House accounting, and then blown up, ballooned, appropriately, by Rush, Sean, and Bachmann. What a trio that is.
ARI RABIN-HAVT, VICE PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS: Well, Media Matters, we heard these numbers, and we did what we thought journalists should do.
We picked up the phone. We called the White House. We said, is this true? And they got back to us and said, no, it‘s not.
You know, this just proves that right-wing journalism is an oxymoron. And, frankly, you know, I know the Chamber of Commerce, their big funders likes outsourcing, and they have decided to outsource their—their journalism to India, too, along with all the jobs.
MATTHEWS: But don‘t we have—don‘t we have an objective source of information—the GOA. The cost of these trips is generally—isn‘t it generally published? I thought when Congress goes, that these trips are published, the cost of these trips, aren‘t they?
Is it so hard to get to? I mean, you can extrapolate from previous trips—this isn‘t a different kind of trip. I don‘t understand. How you can just throw these numbers around, $200 million, more than the cost of the Afghanistan war.
Joan, I don‘t know, but I do think there‘s a personal aspect to this, and I mean personal about this president, this attack on him. And they were going to keep doing it, and I‘m telling you, this is what it‘s about now. It‘s about personal destruction of the president, regardless of his policies.
He could go sign every tax cut they want, they‘re still going after him.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right. And you know, they went after him about redecorating his office, which he didn‘t even use public money, Chris. They went after his wife‘s last vacation. They just keep coming.
And it does—it starts to add up and it starts to seem like this president isn‘t entitled to the same kind of protection and the same kind of dignity, frankly, that other presidents are. And you know, you also had a president who preceded him, George W. Bush, who spent an inordinate amount of time simply on vacations. He didn‘t go on as many foreign trips because he didn‘t really like the rest of the world.
And then, you know, I‘m also hearing well, you know, with unemployment so high and domestic problems so serious, he shouldn‘t be going. He‘s actually canceled a version of this trip, not exactly the same trip, twice to deal with domestic problems.
And this is really important part of the world, as you‘ve been made this point. India is our partner. This is crucial on economic matters as well as strategic and diplomatic matters.
So, there‘s so many reasons for him to take the trip. It‘s important. There‘s no evidence that he‘s doing anything more than lavish than anybody else. And you do kind of get the feeling that it‘s all aimed at this particular president just doesn‘t deserve the dignity that others did.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I also think they‘re putting down India, too.
MATTHEWS: Like they don‘t like, it‘s third world, you know?
RABIN-HAVT: Absolutely, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not a white country. Let‘s be honest about it.
You know, I‘m looking at a pattern here. For a long time, we had members about the United States Congress who bragged about the fact that they never had a passport. They‘ve never been out of the country.
They‘re completely homegrown and didn‘t ever want to see—you know, I‘d rather be a lamppost in New York than the president of France, the Popeye Doyle line. That‘s a cute line, but does anybody want them representing them on foreign policy when they have that idea?
French fries have to be changed to freedom fries. This sort of idiot high school stuff that the Republicans now call public information now, they‘re putting out statements.
And then, of course, Rush Limbaugh—I mean, is this rip and read from the Indian press? Is this the new standard now? Anything you get from some stringer operation—it wasn‘t even an American newspaper stringer over there. It was some newspaper, they just like the fact that it was dirt.
RABIN-HAVT: I mean, that‘s—that‘s what‘s sad about this situation. They‘ll take any piece of misinformation from an Indian newspaper, it will go up on the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck will repeat it without consequences. That report could have said President Obama‘s taking six space shuttles to India and they might have run with it.
MATTHEWS: It could say that Rush Limbaugh weighs 800 pounds, are they going to run that? I mean, are we just going to run anything that comes off the press over there? Is this—is this news now? You don‘t have to check facts anymore. You just run anything you want as long as it‘s disparaging of our president, and he is our president.
WALSH: Yes, he is.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think we can talk much more about this. We got the prime minister, the former president of Pakistan, coming up right now.
I want to thank you, Ari, for coming on tonight. Do some more research on this. Don‘t just call the White House. I mean it. Do some more research, I want to read what “Media Matters” does on this.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joan, as always.
Go ahead. Your thought, Ari. You have a last thought?
RABIN-HAVT: Well, I think—I think, you know, it‘s important for journalists to make those phone calls, and we can look at previous trips. But the fact that the right wing didn‘t even pick up the phone and call the White House and say, “Is this true?”—is, you know, embarrassing.
MATTHEWS: Well, why ruin a good story from their point of view?
Anyway, thank you.
We‘re going to talk about the policy implications of going to India. We go on this show look at it as a serious question. Is this the right move politically, geopolitically?
We‘ve got this very tricky alliance, and you may not like it, but we‘ve got an alliance with Pakistan right now in terms of fighting al Qaeda, because they‘re coming after us. That is a fact. And I want to find out whether this trip makes sense.
Let‘s bring Pakistani—former President Pervez Musharraf who will join us in just a moment with an important conversation. Not this thing.
Reminder: NBC‘s Matt Lauer sits down with George W. Bush to talk about his new book, “Decision Points,” this Monday night at 8:00 p.m. I think it‘s going to be a good interview. I‘ve seen a part of it, it‘s very impressive on Matt‘s part.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Chuck Todd and the NBC political unit put together a first look at the map of the 2012 presidential race. And here it is. The 18 states in blue, as you can see them, are states we‘re calling solid or likely lean Democrat. No surprise, the left and right coast there. While the 21 red states, you can see basically in the bottom there, in the upper plain states, are solid Republican.
And that leaves eight states in the toss-up category. The interesting states are in yellow there. That‘s—you can see them now: Florida, from the bottom, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, New Mexico, Virginia, and, of course, Wisconsin, which is real trouble for the Democrats. They‘re the real battlegrounds for the coming election, our first look at the fields for 2012.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. President Obama‘s big trip to India, which is underway right now, has upset some Pakistani official who is see the move as an intentional snub of their country. While Pakistan remains a staunch U.S. ally and beneficiary of American support, Obama administration officials have questioned the reliability of the current government in Islamabad in rooting out al Qaeda and other extremist in the border region.
The CIA, by the way, has recently stepped up their drone attacks in that area. And just today, a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people at a mosque in northwestern Pakistan.
General Pervez Musharraf is the former president of Pakistan.
President Musharraf, it‘s an honor to have you on the program.
GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: -- does Pakistan need to simply have a stronger, tougher, more aggressive government, even if it doesn‘t have to do it—it doesn‘t do it through democracy, it simply, bottom line, needs a stronger government?
MUSHARRAF: Any country needs a stronger government and a government which can make sure that the state is developing in the interests of the people, and the people are—the well-being and the welfare of the people is being looked after. That is the ultimate end, the objective of any government and any leader.
MATTHEWS: Is Zardari, the current president, and his government in Islamabad fighting al Qaeda aggressively enough for you?
MUSHARRAF: Well, I think they are. I think the army and the government is doing their maximum—
MUSHARRAF: -- to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban. And I am not really privy to the tactical details of the operations, but at the strategic level, I do understand the commitment of the army, of the military and government towards defeating al Qaeda and Taliban is certainly there.
MATTHEWS: I have two questions for you now. One is: do you take it as a snub—to use a gentleman‘s term, a “snub”—that the United States, our president, is visiting your neighboring country, India, while not visiting your country?
MUSHARRAF: I would take it as a disappointment, yes, indeed, because of two reasons. I think, first of all, I do—one does understand that visiting India is a bilateral issue between the United States and India and one wouldn‘t be overly endocentric in approach. But our condition as a Pakistani, certainly with Pakistan, isn‘t Pakistan an important player in the region? It is in the front role, fighting terrorism. It‘s a strategic partner towards fighting al Qaeda and Taliban towards eradication of terrorism.
So, this not visiting Pakistan and then also, another important issue, Kashmir is a sensitive issue with Pakistanis. It is, in fact, the world ought to be concerned that Kashmir dispute—without solving Kashmir dispute, it‘s leading to extremism within our society.
MUSHARRAF: There are a number of mujahedeen groups which have emerged who want to go in and support their Indian brethren against the Indian army. So, we have to resolve the Kashmir dispute and this is what I‘ve always been saying.
Now, I don‘t think there is going to be any talk about Kashmir. So I
in the overall context, I think it doesn‘t resonate well with the people of Pakistan. They take it that the United States or the president of the United States is not that concerned about Pakistan‘s own sensitivities and interests.
MATTHEWS: You know, the United States, the people watching our program right now, are primarily interested—I understand the Kashmir concern—they‘re concerned about terrorism coming from Yemen right now. And they‘re wondering whether, from your understanding of the terrorist network, of al Qaeda, is it all connected? Is it all intertwined?
In other words, the people holed up in the northwest territory of Pakistan. Are they helping the people of Yemen, the al Qaeda folks in Yemen to come after us? We‘ve just got a big bombing attempt in our big city, in Chicago, that might have been quite lethal. Do you believe the people, the terrorists in your country are working with the terrorists in Yemen against us?
MUSHARRAF: Well, let me contradict what you said. I think if the United States and the people of the United States are concerned about themselves and they are not concerned about Pakistan‘s feelings are, what the people of Pakistan are, I don‘t agree with this attitude.
I think relationships, and relationships between two countries, where a lot of people here ask, why do the people of Pakistan dislike the United States? You ought to be concerned with that. You ought to be concerned about the sensitivities of people of Pakistan.
So, therefore, I don‘t agree that they are more concerned about what is happening in Yemen, et cetera. And they couldn‘t care less about what is happening in Kashmir or about Pakistan‘s concerns.
Now let me come to your answer to the next question. Yes, indeed, terrorism, al Qaeda and Taliban, in Afghanistan, in the tribal agencies of Pakistan, the mujahedeen and fighting in Kashmir, extremism in the Muslim youth is on the rise in India. With extremism in our society, in Pakistan‘s society, all of them are developing a nexus.
And now, it‘s international connotation. We know about AQIM, al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, centered around Algeria and Mali. AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, centered around Somalia and Yemen. Yes, indeed, all of these will try to develop a nexus between themselves.
MATTHEWS: That‘s disturbing, sir. Thank you.
MUSHARRAF: To some extent, they do develop a nexus. And this is what needs to be controlled and checked and fought against.
MATTHEWS: That‘s very informative, sir. Thank you so much for coming on our tonight. President Pervez Musharraf—thank you, sir, for joining us.
When we return let me finish with the solecistic inhabited by our former president, George W. Bush.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with George W. Bush.
You know, years ago, a member of the British cabinet got caught in an embarrassment and, of course, denied it, to which his accuser said, well, he would, wouldn‘t he? Denial is the norm of political life, especially of the awful.
President Bush says the Iraq War was justified because it prevented another 9/11. Well, 9/11 was a network operation involving cells in Germany, heavy recruitment in Saudi Arabia and, of course, flight training down in Florida. The one country not involved in 9/11 was Iraq. The attack of 9/11 was conspired among a web of jihadists, religion fanatics without loyalty to a particular state.
Saddam Hussein of Iraq, on the other hand, was a Baathist, a secular leader of a country.
So, how would a war with Iraq prevent another attack from worldwide elements of al Qaeda? Or is Bush arguing something that cannot logically be denied for the simple reason that it has nothing to do with logic with discernible cause and effect, with anything tangible.
Is he saying that the war which caused 77,000 lives was justified because he thought it would prevent another terrorist attack like 9/11? In other words, if the connection between 9/11 and Iraq, which no one else has ever been able to substantiate, was in his own mental wiring, he‘s guiltless before history.
Well, there‘s a reason that Bush lives in this solecistic world, a world you built not of sheer human knowledge of cause and effect or of tangible fact even, but of what George W. Bush sees out there.
He describes the sickening feeling that came to him when the arriving coalition forces in Iraq couldn‘t find any of the biological, chemical, or nuclear materials that he said were the reason for our going to war there. But if the weapons weren‘t there, how did the Iraq War prevent another 9/11? Is Bush really arguing that the motive of that war was, by itself, would stop us from getting hit again? That we got protection from terrorism by fighting a war that turned out to kill tens of thousands of people that we stopped the use of terrorist weapons even though we didn‘t find them?
Does he really live in this world or this “house of mirrors” where what he intends to be the truth is the truth?
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with the great Ed Schultz.
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