updated 1/19/2011 12:32:39 PM ET 2011-01-19T17:32:39

Guests: Maria Bartiromo, Richard Wolffe, Simon Hobbs, David Corn, Steve King, Raul Grijalva, Ed Rendell, Sue Lowden, Jon Ralston


Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show. 

Leading off tonight: “I swear.”  “I swear.”  That‘s what you‘re supposed to say before you get to be a United States member of Congress, take the oath.  How could a pair of congressmen manage to blow it, to skip the oath taking, then go heading out onto the House floor and start voting as if they‘re duly sworn members of Congress?  You think it‘s a small point?  Not when you‘re waving the U.S. Constitution around like a campaign banner, it isn‘t.

President Obama got some slightly good news this morning, by the way.  The unemployment rate dropped down to 9.4 from 9.8, the lowest now in two years.  So who‘s got the credit?  Who deserves it, the president or the Republicans who just took control of the House?  And where will that unemployment number be in the midst of next fall‘s presidential campaign?  Isn‘t that always the top story?

Plus, here‘s an idea of where House Republicans may be headed.  Congressman Steve King introduced a bill to deny citizenship to children born here if the parents are illegal immigrants.  What do we think of that baby?

And since we‘re in Las Vegas, a new poll shows nearly 70 percent of Nevadans think Republicans should have nominated someone other than Sharron Angle to run against Harry Reid.  Are voters feeling some buyer‘s remorse when it comes to the Tea Party?  We‘ll talk to a Republican casualty of the Tea Party, Sue Lowden, the candidate who wanted to be Reid‘s opponent and I think would have beaten Reid.

Also, I‘ll make a betting proposition for you for 2012, is that the Tea Party coalition with the regular Republican Party is going to get blown apart at the hinges by the end of next year.

So let‘s start with the new jobless number and what it means for both parties.  I‘m joined here by an expert, Maria Bartiromo from CNBC, and David Corn, who‘s in Washington, an expert of a different kind.  He‘s Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”  HE also writes a column for Politicsdaily.com.  So I‘ve got the economics and the politics of this thing.

First of all, the economics -- 9.4 percent.  Does this augur well for the country?  Does this mean we‘re headed down to around 7 or 6 percent over the next couple years?

MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC:  Not necessarily, Chris.  I would say what the numbers showed today was that we are still in this slow slog.  Look, a lot of speculation going into this report that we were going to see 200,000, 300,000 new jobs created.  Come on!  I mean, things don‘t turn around on a dime.  We got actually 103,000 jobs.  It‘s OK.  We continue to face persistent unemployment.  I do not think this indicates that we have seen a reversal in this slow slug in the United States.

MATTHEWS:  OK, give me—let me give the worst case scenario.  We‘re not in a business cycle anymore.  It‘s a delusion.  We‘re not up (ph) in employment (ph) rate, and it‘s going to go down like it always does every four years, five years or so.  We‘re going to stay up there around 8 to 9 percent for the foreseeable future because we cannot create jobs for a lot of people right now who aren‘t trained right now.  The old industries are dying, and they‘re just not going to get back to work for a long time, like four or five years, if they ever get back to work.  That‘s one outside possibility.  Is it a good one?

BARTIROMO:  It is absolutely viable.  This is called, as everybody is saying, the so-called new normal, and it certainly is the new normal.  Bottom line, business managers today that I‘m speaking to that are running operations on the ground are worried about higher health care expense.  Up until a few weeks ago, they were worried about higher taxes.


BARTIROMO:  They‘re not necessarily—

MATTHEWS:  Nobody wants to give (ph) the package.

BARTIROMO:  They‘re not going to give you benefits and hire new people right now.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go—let‘s go to the president, then David Corn, because David, I‘ve got to wonder why the president was so optimistic today.  You don‘t want to say the tide‘s turning if it isn‘t.  You don‘t want to start bragging about this—Churchill once said this.  Don‘t start claiming credit for something before it happens because if it doesn‘t happen, people hate you.

Here‘s the president today on the jobless number.  Let‘s listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now, we know these numbers can bounce around from month to month, but the trend is clear.  We saw 12 straight months of private sector job growth.  That‘s the first time that‘s been true since 2006.  The economy added 1.3 million jobs last year, and each quarter was stronger than the previous quarter, which means that the pace of hiring is beginning to pick up.  We‘re also seeing more optimistic economic forecasts for the year ahead in part due to the package of tax cuts I signed last month, including a payroll tax cut for workers and a series of tax cuts to encourage investment and innovation and hiring.


MATTHEWS:  So there‘s the president taking credit for the tax cuts, continuation of the Bush tax cuts.  David Corn, is this a true economic assessment, this new trend downward he‘s talking about, or is this babbitry?  Is this boosterism?

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  I think the president, as a leader, has to inspire confidence while at the same time not seeming—

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s babbitry.

CORN: -- but the same time, not seeming the—not seeming detached from reality.  I mean, this is better news than they‘ve had in some previous months, even though the number of jobs created—


MATTHEWS:  OK, OK.  You‘re getting a little too careful here for me.

CORN:  No, no, no, no!

MATTHEWS:  But is this—is this a trend downward which is BS, or what is it?  Because there‘s no evidence of a trend downward.  We‘re still up—it still is almost 10 percent unemployment. It‘s been that way for a year.

CORN:  Well, sure, but—

MATTHEWS:  Where‘s the trend line in all this?

CORN:  Listen, Chris, one of the reasons—

MATTHEWS:  Point to the trend.  Want to draw one on a map?  It‘s flat. 

It‘s around 9 to 10 points.

CORN:  Right.  And one of the reasons the unemployment number dropped, which is what the White House is focusing on, is because a quarter of a million people have given up looking, have taken themselves out of the labor pool.  So I think there is a structural problem here that the president, in political terms, has a really hard time coming out and addressing because there‘s not a good response.  With Republicans controlling the House, there won‘t be much legislating.  All the stimulus that he‘s been able to do has happened already.  So his options are really limited in the next two years here.  His hands are tied, and the Fed doesn‘t have a lot of room, either.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Maria, you work in the business world.  We‘re surrounded here by business guys, by the way, mostly white guys, doing well.  I can tell we‘re on the right side of the digital divide out here.  But for the rest of the country, from Scranton to Oshkosh, they‘re really hurting.  You got a double-digit unemployment rate.  Now, I understand why the president‘s playing Babbitt right now.

BARTIROMO:  He‘s got to, right?

MATTHEWS:  He‘s talking—he‘s hired Richard—he‘s hired Billy Daley, who‘s going to boost him with business.  He gives us the president‘s tax cut extension for the rich, right?  He‘s going to go meet with the U.S.  Chamber of Commerce, who beat the hell out of him in the last election, just to try to warm up business so they‘ll loosen up the strings on that $2 trillion they‘re sitting on they won‘t invest, right?

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  So that‘s smart.

BARTIROMO:  People are—

MATTHEWS:  Is that smart?

BARTIROMO: -- sitting on $2 trillion in cash.  They‘re not investing it in the U.S.  But you know what?  They‘re putting money into China.  They‘re putting money into Brazil.  They‘re putting money into India.  They‘re following the growth spots in the world.  Bottom line, the president has to put a good face on this.

MATTHEWS:  You mean my adviser‘s right.


BARTIROMO:  Well, yes.  I guess so.  He says 1.3 million jobs were created last year.  Get this, Chris.  We lost 8 million jobs—


BARTIROMO: -- as a result.  Housing is missing in action.


BARTIROMO:  Thirty percent of mortgages out there underwater.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  When you guys work on the Street and cover high tech and these out here—they‘re all smart, the right side of the digital divide, they (INAUDIBLE) the social network and they all understand it, right?  What about the people at Scranton right now and the people in Allentown and Buffalo, with the big jobbers (ph) on, going to NFL games, that had nothing to do with this?  Are they going to come back with jobs?  Are there going to be jobs for those people in the next five years?

BARTIROMO:  It‘s going to be very tough.  I think—I think five years—I don‘t know about five years, but I think the next couple of years are going to be a slow slog.  I think it comes back to education.  Everybody has to—


BARTIROMO: -- ask themselves, What are the required skill sets that will enable me to thrive in—

MATTHEWS:  OK, are the American labor unions, the steelworkers, people like that—are they pushing retraining?  Are they pushing news kinds of job opportunities, or are they just talking?

BARTIROMO:  Look, I don‘t know—

MATTHEWS:  Is anybody talking retraining?

BARTIROMO: -- if they‘re actually (INAUDIBLE) them.

MATTHEWS:  Is anybody doing it?

BARTIROMO:  They should be (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  Or talking about NAFTA—


MATTHEWS:  What a waste of time.

BARTIROMO:  We need new training—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry, the old left has not exactly been novel in its thinking the last couple years.

BARTIROMO:  I agree with you.

MATTHEWS:  They talk like they‘re 300 years ago in the British Labour Party.

CORN:  Hey, Chris—

MATTHEWS:  I want to know where are the new ideas, David, on the left?

CORN:  Hey, Chris, for the last 20 years, the old left has been saying

if you go ahead with NAFTA and trade accords, you‘re going to devastate

these communities that you yourself are talking about.  And the retraining

efforts have not been robust.  Republicans didn‘t care, and the Democrats -


MATTHEWS:  SO what we do is, we go back—

CORN:  And the Democrats haven‘t—

MATTHEWS: -- and undo NAFTA, and that‘s going to solve it?

CORN:  No, we can‘t—I think—I think—I think it‘s gone.  I

think there is a structural issue here about what our economy is based upon



CORN: -- and no one is really talking about that.  And the people, you know—


CORN: -- in that convention center where you‘re at, you know, they‘re a very small slice of what‘s going to be the answer to this problem in the future.  And Obama—

MATTHEWS:  I agree.


MATTHEWS: -- there‘s a lot of pandering on the left and right right now.  You‘ve got the union guys talking about NAFTA and we‘re going to get more to join unions and more federal employee money and all that stuff, but the bottom line—and the right talks about deinvesting in the government and pulling back out.  And the Tea Partier people and the—and the old left and the new right supposedly—I don‘t hear solutions.  Do you?

BARTIROMO:  Well, look, we—

MATTHEWS:  What are the—how are we going to start reinvesting in America?

BARTIROMO:  Well, I think, first of all, we need a manufacturing base,


MATTHEWS:  Right!  Who‘s doing that?

BARTIROMO:  Europe right now is dead in the—

CORN:  Listen, the—

MATTHEWS: -- water.  But one country—you know who‘s not dead in the water in Europe?  Germany.  Why?  Exports.  Why?  Manufacturing.


CORN:  Well, manufacturing—

BARTIROMO:  We need to manufacture stuff in this county.

CORN:  Listen—listen, People on the left have been talking for years now about a new green energy economy and trying to use that as a basis for—

BARTIROMO:  Oh, come on.

CORN:  Well, listen, what do you suggest, Maria?  What else is out there?  What are we going to—

BARTIROMO:  Well, I‘m not saying—

CORN: -- manufacturing?  What should we be manufacturing?

BARTIROMO:  I‘m not saying green is not the answer.  It is the answer, but that doesn‘t happen overnight.  This is a 10-year program, green.  We need to be manufacturing products—


MATTHEWS: -- to get on a train and go from Rome to Venice in about an hour and a quarter, or Rome to Florence in an hour and a quarter.  The Chinese are going 300 miles an hour.  My daughter just went through the Chunnel in 15 minutes.  You get from London to Paris in two hours, and we‘re on the god-damn Amtrak!


MATTHEWS:  We are so far behind in manufacturing!  Go ahead.

CORN:  We can only move ahead in, like, high-speed rail if you‘re going to have government leadership.  How did we build the transcontinental railroad to begin with?

MATTHEWS:  OK, maybe Bloomberg, instead of talking about running for president, ought to be doing something like this.  I don‘t know.

BARTIROMO:  They haven‘t even picked up the garbage since Christmas in New York.  What are we paying all these high taxes for—

MATTHEWS:  I noticed—

BARTIROMO: -- of they can‘t even—

MATTHEWS: -- you just went to the accent!

BARTIROMO: -- pick up the garbage!

MATTHEWS:  I love it when you go to the accent!


MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about America.  Here we have the high-tech guys.  These guys are all hip.  They know what‘s going on.  They‘re all into it.  They‘re watching.  They‘re learning.  They‘re into the new toys and gadgets.  They‘re looking for the hottest thing.  The rest of the country‘s not into—are we going to be a country a couple years from now, 30, 40 years from now, with a severe digital divide?

BARTIROMO:  Look, I would not—

MATTHEWS:  Some people in and some people not.

BARTIROMO:  I would not be writing off CES, OK, because I think mobility—this is where the innovation is.  And if there‘s one thing we need to—

MATTHEWS:  Consumer Electronics Show.

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  If there‘s one thing we need to protect in this country, it‘s innovation.  Technology is changing—

MATTHEWS:  This is the future.

BARTIROMO:  Technology is changing not only in the media business, but health care.   There‘s an enormous amount of innovation happening in health care, education.  Technology is—


BARTIROMO: -- the key to growth in this country.

CORN:  But you need—you need a middle class with purchasing power.

BARTIROMO:  Absolutely.

CORN:  You need good jobs out there—

MATTHEWS:  OK—oh!  My God!


MATTHEWS:  There‘s a guy pushing for—OK, let me ask you this—

BARTIROMO:  A billion people are joining the ranks of the middle class outside of the country.  U.S. companies have to—


BARTIROMO: -- sell to those people.  The numbers do not add up.  A billion three in China, a billion one in India, 300 million in this country.


BARTIROMO:  We need to sell to the rest of the world.

MATTHEWS:  Who was the guy on your network that created the idea of the Tea Party?

BARTIROMO:  Oh, that‘s Rick Santelli.


BARTIROMO:  He adlibbed one day, Mr. Obama—



MATTHEWS:  The president heard him.

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS:  I think he heard him.  So since he lost the election in November, the president has given in on the Bush tax cuts for the rich.  He‘s picked Richie—Billy Daley.  I keep going Richie—Billy Daley, the smart—you know, the smart Daley of all of them, I guess, smarter than any of the Daleys, perhaps—Billy Daley to be his chief of staff.  He‘s really moving to the center.  He‘s talking like Babbitt, saying how great these tax cuts are.  And he‘s going to go talk to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the enemy camp, right, the signamaison (ph).  Is he doing all the right stuff to get businesses to start investing, or will they still hold out and say, We‘re going overseas with the money?

BARTIROMO:  I don‘t know, is the simple answer, Chris.  The bottom line is, he has to because—


BARTIROMO: -- government cannot create jobs.  The private sector has to create jobs.  And they need some inventive to actually add benefit packages to the payroll.  I‘m sorry, you may not like to hear it, but that‘s the reality.


MATTHEWS: -- Maria Bartiromo and—David Corn, last word.

CORN:  I would say the question is, how do you get business to do what‘s good for America, not just what‘s good for their own profit line?  We saw in the last 10 years, they were not very civic-minded.  Obama‘s going to have to find a way to do more than just talk nice to them.

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  Well, I think that is slowly happening, actually.  I think companies today realize that now they‘re under the gun.  They have to answer not just to shareholders, to their constituents, meaning employees, the communities that they operate it in.

CORN:  Well, I hope you‘re right, Maria.

BARTIROMO:  And I think right now, they are—

CORN:  I really hope—

BARTIROMO: -- under the gun, and there‘s going to be real accountability.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.

CORN:  I hope you‘re right about that.

MATTHEWS:  Have a nice weekend, David.  Thank you, Maria.

CORN:  You too, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) Nevada.  Up next: We‘re in Nevada, and one of the big issues out here is illegal immigration, of course.  When we return, the debate over citizenship.  Should you be American just because you‘re born in America?  It used to be that way.  In fact, it still is.  Should we change it?  Congressman Steve King of Iowa says change it.  He‘s introduced a bill to say you don‘t automatically get to be an American because you‘re born in America.  We‘re going to debate that hot one, and we got a guy who we know is going to disagree with him.

You‘re watching HARDBALL from Vegas, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, with over a year to go before the New Hampshire primary, we‘ve got the first poll for the first-in-the-nation primary state.  According to Magellan Strategies, Mitt Romney has a commanding lead in New Hampshire, not a huge surprise considering he was governor of neighboring Massachusetts and has a house in the Granite State at Lake Winnipesaukee.  Romney‘s at 39 percent.  Sarah Palin‘s down at 16.  Mike Huckabee‘s at 10.  Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty in single digits.

HARDBALL right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Among the bills introduced by the new Congress is one that takes aim at a right guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.  The bill would deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. if both their parents are illegal immigrants.  Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa has introduced the bill.  Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona opposes it.

Congressman King, make your case.

REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  All right.  Well, Chris, first of all, the Constitution under the 14th Amendment does not guarantee that babies born in the United States be citizens.  There‘s a clause in there.  It says persons—all persons born in the United States, and the clause is, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” are American citizens.  That exemption is there for certain native American tribes that might have lost some of their access to their tribal rights if they‘d been granted automatic citizenship.  It recognizes that children of diplomats would not be.  And it grants to Congress the authority to make that definition.  Were it not for that clause, I‘d advocate for a constitutional amendment.  But the clause allows Congress to set the law, and we should do that and we should not be looking at amending the Constitution.

MATTHEWS:  OK, you just—you jumped a gun here, Congressman.  It says here all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

KING:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Now, how does that somehow qualify this point?  It seems it says if you‘re born here, you‘re a citizen.

KING:  Well, the clause would be rendered useless if we interpreted it the way you are at the present time, Chris.  And the amendment is there, the 14th Amendment, for the purposes of assuring that babies born to newly freed slaves would be American citizens, but they did not want to trample on how it would infringe upon certain native American tribes who were born within the territorial United States but within their own nations.  So it‘s clear that—

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are we talking about Indian tribes?  Let‘s just talk about people born at a hospital in the United States or born anywhere else in the United States.  Forget the Indian tribes for a minute.  Why wouldn‘t that person be under the Constitution recognized as a citizen of the United States?  That‘s always been the way it‘s been interpreted, hasn‘t it?

KING:  It‘s simply a practice.  Not a law.  It‘s a practice.  And we can clarify it by statute.

MATTHEWS:  OK, this is the way we‘ve read the—let me go to Congressman Grijalva.  What do you think of this proposal to deny birth citizenship to people who were born here to illegal parents?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA:  Well, I think it‘s horribly dangerous to open up the Constitution, to tamper with the Constitution.  Just the other day, here on the floor of Congress, we celebrated the sanctity of the Constitution.  And now we have the piece of legislation to tamper with the 14th Amendment that talks about constitutional citizenship and guarantees it.

And it also talks about due process.  It also talks about equal protection under the law.  And it was created right after the Civil War in order for states not through either prejudice of individuals or state actions could not create a dual caste system in this country of residents and citizens, which was happening in the South with the black codes (ph), which was happening with denial of equal rights for former slaves.

And now we have us going back to those dark ages.  And what‘s more, I think people should be concerned about more about than anything else—and we can use any other political purpose to explain this—the fact remains, we are tampering with an amendment that has been the heart and soul of equity issues across this country.  And it should be a concern not only to people that care about immigration, but it should be a concern to people that care about constitutional protections.


GRIJALVA:  I just find it ironic and hypocritical to be talking about this legislation. 


Well, let‘s get back what I think the heart of the issue.  And I think we might all agree.  The issue‘s illegal immigration and how you look at it, politically, culturally, socially, in terms of human sympathy. 

Mr. King, Congressman King, wouldn‘t a guy or man, a woman or a young guy, whatever, still try to get into America if they thought there was a job here, even if they couldn‘t have their kid born here and become an American?  Wouldn‘t there still be that great draw of a job in America?  Isn‘t that why people come from?

And if you outlaw the job hiring, the illegal hiring, wouldn‘t that be a better way to stop illegal immigration, stop the illegal hiring? 

KING:  Well, Chris, I‘m for doing all things to put an end to illegal immigration in the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  But we don‘t do that.  But that‘s the main reason people come here.

KING:  And this is one of them.

MATTHEWS:  No.  The main reason people come to the United States is to get a job. And business will not allow us to have a simple I.D. system, where people coming into the country can be checked out by an employer.

If you want somebody to cut your lawn, you say, can I see your card, a simple card, so you‘re not breaking the law and that person is not breaking the law?  Why don‘t we have a simple system like that?  I don‘t understand it.  You can‘t get served in this country if you‘re not 21 years old.  You have to show an I.D. card.



KING:  The E-Verify system.  We have a simple E-Verify system.

I‘m for making it permanent and mandatory.  I‘m for incorporating it into the New IDEA Act, which brings the IRS into this and denies the business write-off for wages and benefits that are paid to illegals.  That turns your $10-an-hour illegal into a $16-an-hour illegal and requires the IRS to cooperate with Social Security and Department of Homeland Security, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think it‘s working.  It‘s not working.  Is it? 

KING:  Well, we have got to get it implemented into law, that particular bill. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to—you know, I have a simple proposal I‘m going to ask both of you guys, because I think we‘re going to be arguing about this 30, 40, 50 years from now.  When we‘re all gone, they‘re going to be arguing about it.  There‘s going to be illegal immigration.

There‘s going to be hundreds of millions of people here illegally and the conservatives are still going to say, throw them out.  And nobody is going to get thrown out.  And the people here illegally are just going to try to make it a decent life as best they can. 

We will never get any further in this debate until we agree on a compromise.  Here‘s a compromise.  Everybody here gets to stay here.  Everybody who comes in tomorrow, if you come illegally, you‘re dead, you‘re finished, you‘re not going to get a job. 

What‘s wrong with a real tough compromise, a real enforced system, but we don‘t throw anybody out?  That would be my compromise.

Congressman Grijalva, isn‘t that the fair way to do it?  If you‘re here, you stay here, we give you a piece of paper, you become an American eventually.  But anybody coming in tomorrow, we‘re going to have an actual I.D. card system and stop the flow. 

I don‘t think either side really wants to end this issue.  I think both sides love the argument.  That‘s my theory.  Your thoughts, Congressman Grijalva first.


GRIJALVA:  I agree.  I think a verifiable identification for the ability to work here, I think processing the people that are here undocumented now and giving them the appropriate work permission is a good way to go. 

And then I think then you begin to understand who‘s here legally and who‘s not.  Until you do that step, we‘re not going to solve this problem. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, Congressman, simple question.  If we could stop all future illegal immigration starting tomorrow, they don‘t come across the border—you can put the NBC cameras out there, nobody‘s coming across illegally because you can‘t get a job in this country anymore without an I.D. card, but the people here are allowed to stay here, what‘s wrong with that compromise? 

KING:  Well, I might be tempted by your hypothetical proposal here if I hasn‘t lived through a real one.  That was the amnesty act of 1986.  And I had employees and I kept the records on that.

MATTHEWS:  They never enforced Simpson-Mazzoli.

KING:  No, nobody enforced it.  And nobody is going to enforce the current laws we have—

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Well, I‘m talking about an enforced bill. 

KING: -- because the executive branch doesn‘t have the will.  That‘s the problem today.

MATTHEWS:  Well, look, I think we can always have excuses, but I would like to see somebody agree.  I like, Grijalva, Congressman, I like the principle.  If we can agree on the principle, to stop arguing about something and solve a problem.  This is a manmade problem. 

Jack Kennedy said the problems of man are manmade.  They can be solved by man.  This isn‘t rocket science.  And it bugs me that the unions and all these other people in this country won‘t solve the problem.  They ought to solve it tomorrow.  I‘m tired of this stupid bickering over illegal immigration. 

Thank you, Congressman King.  I don‘t like your idea.  But thanks for coming on.

KING:  Close the border, shut off the jobs magnet.  And look at the New IDEA Act, Chris.  Read that.  You will like it when you do.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Grijalva, thank you, sir.

GRIJALVA:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  And stop talking about throwing people out of the country. 

You will get people to listen to you.

KING:  You didn‘t hear me say that.

MATTHEWS:  Up next: David Letterman‘s list of what you might not know. 

A lot of people talk like that, too many. 

Thank you.

We will have John Boehner—we will be back in a minute.  We‘re talking about Boehner and what Letterman thinks of him.  Check out the “Sideshow” coming up next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time for the “Sideshow.” 

First up:  Karl Rove strikes again.  After questioning the electability of Sarah Palin and Christine O‘Donnell last fall, Rove has some guidance for Republican favorites Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, both seen as prospects for national office. 

Here he is this week with FOX‘s Sean Hannity.  Let‘s listen.


KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:  Look, Rubio and Christie are smart.  They‘re young.  They just got in.  Governor Christie‘s been in office for less than a year. 

Marco Rubio‘s just taken the oath of office.  Both of them are saying I got things to do before I can—


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”:  Worked for Barack Obama. 

ROVE:  Yes, but you know what?  That didn‘t work out too well for the country, has it? 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Well, rival Republican kingmaker Bill Kristol disagrees.  He says Rubio should be the number two on the ticket led by Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. 

Here‘s what he wrote Thursday—quote—“Wouldn‘t it be easier just to agree now on a Ryan-Rubio ticket, and save everyone an awful lot of time, effort, and money over the next year and a half?

Rove and Kristol, by the way, have a penchant for spotting, recruiting, then riding to their own advantage candidates into office. 

Next up: strange bedfellows.  Sarah Palin has a new colleague at TLC. 

“Entertainment Weekly” reports that it‘s Pastor Ted Haggard.  Remember him?  He led the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals until he resigned in 2006 amid allegations of drug use and a relationship with a male prostitute. 

Well, a one-hour special by him is set for Sunday January 16.  Sunday is usually Palin‘s night on TLC. 

Next up:  David Letterman welcomed—you can‘t write this stuff.  David Letterman welcomed House Speaker John Boehner into office last night with some things he says you might not know about our new speaker of the House.  Let‘s listen.



Number 10:  His biggest corporate donor, Kleenex. 


LETTERMAN:  Number nine:  Crayola named orange Crayon after him “Burnt Boehner.”

Number Eight:  He too prefers to be called Madam Speaker. 


LETTERMAN:  Number seven—that‘s odd—born in Kenya. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow, pure Johnny Carson.

And now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”

Everyone in Congress is looking for ways to cut spending, I guess.  Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords wants to start right inside the Capitol itself.  She is proposing the congressmen forgo their 5 percent salary increase in 2012. 

And that is tonight‘s “Big Number,” $8,700, tonight‘s “Big Number.” Giffords‘ bill would prevent an $8,700 raise for members of Congress in 2012, $8,700, tonight‘s, well, decent number. 

Up next:  The Republicans are in control of the House, or are they?  They had a couple of members voting on the House floor who hadn‘t even been sworn in.  What is going on?  I thought they believed in the Constitution. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


SIMON HOBBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good everything.  I‘m Simon Hobbs with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks easing losses heading into the close, but still ending in the red, the Dow Jones industrials falling 22 points, the S&P slipping two, and the Nasdaq gave up six. 

Investors digesting a mixed jobs report and a sobering assessment of the economy from the Fed, only 103,000 jobs created in December.  That‘s way lower than expected, but enough to drop the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 percent. 

Meanwhile, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke telling the Senate Banking Committee that the economy is hitting its stride, but it could be up to five years before job levels return to normal.  Banks skidding after a Massachusetts court ruled against Wells Fargo in a foreclosure case that could have wider implications for the industry.

And gold prices extending a four-day slide, after a huge run-up in 2010, falling nearly 4 percent on the week to settle at $1,369 an ounce.

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We‘re still out here in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, lots of people around me here.

Well, for the Republicans, for all their godliness or giddiness about reading the Constitution on the House floor the other day, it turns out that two of their members, two newly about-to-be-sworn members of Congress, but didn‘t manage to get sworn in.  

Pete Sessions of Texas, he‘s the head of the Campaign Committee, and Mike Fitzpatrick of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, chose to skip the taking of the oath on the House floor and instead just began to vote as members of Congress.  Big problem.  They were at some kind of political event when they should have had their picture taken.  Well, they did get their picture taken actually at the political event. 

It captures the two members holding their hands up in the air presumably while watching the broadcast on television.  It didn‘t quite pass muster, wasn‘t kosher.  The Republican leaders were scrambling when they learned that both men voted eight times in the new Congress without ever being sworn in. 

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina abruptly called for a recess of the Rules Committee upon hearing the news.  Check this out.  This is an interesting moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you very much. 

Let me begin, Madam Chairwoman, by thanking you and all the members of the committee for the hours that you put in. 



FOXX:  I‘m very sorry to just stop you, but we need to take a recess. 


FOXX:  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, do we have any idea of the length of the recess? 

Well, I withdraw my thanking of you then. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve got to be kidding.


FOXX:  I am sorry.  I do not know an answer—I do not know an answer to your question. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s the recess about?

FOXX:  We will make it as short as possible. 


MATTHEWS:  What is going on in the Congress?  Shortly thereafter, Speaker Boehner interrupted to House floor to swear in the two missing congressmen.  Let‘s watch that show.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  If the gentleman could suspend, and if Representative Sessions, Representative Fitzgerald—

Fitzpatrick—I‘m sorry—from Pennsylvania show themselves in the well, we will be happy to swear them in as new members. 

If you will raise your right hand, do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and witness—and allegiance—I‘m sorry—to the same, that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God?

Thank you.  Congratulations.  You are now officially members. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, this all seems fairly bone-headed.

And, late today, Congressman Sessions and Fitzpatrick apologized for their actions in a letter to colleagues. 

It reads, in part: “While we immediately took steps to rectify the situation, we understand that our error allowed the integrity of this great legislative body‘s proceedings to be called into question.  We regret that this incident adversely affected House proceedings and apologize for any individual inconvenience our actions may have caused.”

So, the Republicans already have a problem keeping their house in order. 

For more on this swearing-in snafu, let‘s bring in former Pennsylvania Governor—he‘s not—well, he is former—Governor Ed Rendell, and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. 

This is the kind of stuff you got to deal with now, Governor, now that you‘re out of office.  Are you out of office yet? 

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘m not out yet, no.  Eleven days to go, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t think so.  Misspoken.  These teleprompters.

What do you make of the Republicans?  They had a big deal the other day about reading the Constitution on the floor of the House.  They‘re waving it around like a campaign poster.  And then they go and blow with the top head of their campaign committee off at some political event at the visitors center, skips the swearing-in.  Pennsylvania‘s Fitzpatrick skips the swearing-in.  They go to the House floor and just keep voting as if nothing had happened. 

Is this small potatoes, Mickey Mouse, or what?  Or is it important?

RENDELL:  It is small potatoes and Mickey Mouse, Chris. 

And I know Mike Fitzpatrick personally, and he‘s a very decent man. 

But, look, this is the party that said they were going to change things. 

They were going to do things according to openness and transparency.

And it makes them look foolish and stupid.  It also makes them look foolish when the speaker doesn‘t get the name of the congressman from Bucks County correct.  That makes them look even foolisher.

It‘s just a black eye for a caucus that said it was going to change things and run a tight ship in Washington.  It‘s embarrassing.  But does it mean anything?  No.  Should Democrats try to take advantage of it? 


RENDELL:  Should we try to take advantage of it?  No.  Just smile and enjoy the moment, but let‘s get on with the real work facing the country. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re going to be a different kind of political commentator.  You‘re actually going to be grownup about this thing, which is—


MATTHEWS:  Richard Wolffe, I‘m counting on you to go the other way on this thing.  You make the biggest damn deal about this thing, about this.


MATTHEWS:  Are they stupid—are they stupid to have made a big plan by reading the Constitution, and then blowing the Constitution?  They missed a couple pages of the Constitution in reading it, which isn‘t the hardest thing in the world.  And then they missed the two guys getting sworn in.  They voted eight times on the floor. 

Is this much ado about nothing or much to-do? 

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, missing the oath, having a photo taken of you being sworn in by TV, yes, it looks incompetent. 

But, more than that, it looks inauthentic.  The problem is, they raised their expectations and their game so high on reading the Constitution.  But it‘s not just that.  It‘s a whole range of stuff.  It‘s the CBO figures that they wanted to dismiss and put to one side.  It‘s saying you‘re going to be transparent and have votes and discussions and committee and have amendments to everyone.


WOLFFE:  And then health care coming in.  It‘s about what you say you are and what you do.

So, on its own, I agree.  Small fry, just looks embarrassing.  But put together with other stuff, there‘s a reason why Republicans and Democrats are held in low esteem.  Why independent voters the biggest group in American politics right now, it‘s because of this.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s take a look at Anthony Weiner who you can always count on him to make a big deal about something on the other side.  He went after Sessions and Fitzgerald on the floor today with abandon.  Let‘s listen.


REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  We violated the Constitution on our very first day.  The constitutional requirement for oath was violated.

When Mr. Sessions and Mr. Fitzpatrick stood up in front of a television set and held their right hand up, not unlike about 2,000 of my constituents I suspect, they were violating a very important part of these proceedings.

Under the rules of the House, the members who are not duly sworn entitled to be paid for the days of service in which they are here and were not sworn in.


MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s not going to cut him a break.

Governor, I want to talk to you about Boehner and something.  We don‘t have to show this again, but Boehner, he has an inability to crack down his far right.  And this where I think there‘s going to be—I‘ll talk about this at the end of the show—I think there‘s going to be a big fracture between real Republicans, middle of the road Republicans, somewhat conservative people and their fiscal thinking and on cultural issues and the far right wackos.

These Birthers out there—for some reason, Boehner will not condemn them and call them un-American for not recognizing the legitimacy of this president to serve in office.  He won‘t do it.

What is the problem with the Republican Party?  Is this something they have to do?  They‘ve got to play with their craziest elements.

RENDELL:  I think they‘re afraid of the Tea Party.  They can‘t put their finger on how strong they are or how deep the movement is, and they‘re plain scared.  And sometimes, in the near future, they‘re going to stand up and do the right thing.  And sometimes, that means talking back to people on their party.

And the speaker has to be a leader.  He has to be strong.  And the American people are counting on Speaker Boehner doing that.

And I‘ll tell you, Chris, I think Mr. Wolffe is absolutely right.  I think what‘s really at stake here is the games that they‘re starting to play.  Talk about repealing the health care act and to do it with no amendments, that‘s outrageous and that‘s serious and it goes to undermining their credibility.

I was happen to see Greta Van Susteren go after one of the House Republican leaders on FOX because they violated their pledge to allow amendments.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

RENDELL:  Look, if we‘re really serious about health care reform, if we‘re really serious—don‘t repeal.  They‘ll have the votes for repeal, but so what?  It‘s going nowhere in the Senate and the president will veto it.

If you‘re really serious about solving the problems, go to the president, go to the Senate and say, we have real concern about these six things.  Can we work together to amend or modify or change them?  That‘s the way you go about it if you‘re really serious.


RENDELL:  They‘re not serious people.

MATTHEWS:  Governor, you‘re not going to go work for FOX?  I heard that little kiss over there for Greta for a second.

RENDELL:  No, no.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not heading that direction, are you?

RENDELL:  No, no.  Not all.  But didn‘t you think Greta did the right thing?

MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s right about that one and I appreciate that, sir.  And I always think you‘re a great guy.  Why don‘t you come up work with us for a while?  It‘d be more fun.

Thank you, Governor Edward Rendell, the greatest mayor in the history of Philadelphia and one of the greatest governors.  Thank you, sir, for joining us.

RENDELL:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Richard Wolffe, you‘re not as great a man as Eddie Rendell, but you‘re a great historian.

Up next—

WOLFFE:  I readily admit.  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, thank you, Richard.  Have a nice weekend.

Polls show Republicans out here in Nevada regret running Sharron Angle

who wouldn‘t regret her?  Sharron Angel believes in Second Amendment remedies if you don‘t like a politician.  Think that one through.  We‘ll be joined by the Republican Angle beat in the primary who could have been—probably would have beaten Reid if she got the nomination in a normal political party.


You‘re watching HARDBALL from Vegas, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  A couple of nuggets to the 2012 presidential race.  “The New York Post” is reporting that Giuliani is gearing up for another White House run despite the disaster that was his 2008 effort.  He bet the farm on Florida and lost.

And former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty takes a shot at the news that Michele Bachmann is considering a run.  He told “Politics Daily” that it‘s a, quote, “free country” and that Bachmann is eligible to be president because quote, “anyone can run that‘s over the age of 35.”  There‘s the dig.

We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

I‘m out here in Las Vegas.  And tonight with me, Nevada politics, two big people out here: Sue Lowden, the former Nevada GOP chairman who ran in the Republican primary for Senate last year, and Jon Ralston, columnist for “The Las Vegas Sun” and host of “Face to Face.”

It‘s great to be here, Sue Lowden.  I‘ve always been a fan of Sue Lowden.  I thought you would have been a tough opponent for Harry Reid.  You would have beaten him, wouldn‘t you?

SUE LOWDEN ®, FORMER NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  Well, my polling always showed I would have beaten him.  There wasn‘t one poll I ever saw that show that I couldn‘t beat him.

MATTHEWS:  And why did they run Sharron Angle?  She seems a little bit loosey goosey for me.  She‘s talking about Second Amendment remedies if you don‘t like a politician?

LOWDEN:  Well, she had a lot of outside help, including the Tea Party, and she had a group called the Patriot Majority.  Harry Reid had them.

MATTHEWS:  But she has a screw loose, right?

LOWDEN:  I‘m not saying that.  I‘m not saying that.

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re not challenging me.  You said, I‘m not saying it.  Not much of a rebuttal.

Let‘s take a look at the new PPP poll out in Nevada.  It‘s Nevada, by the way.  It‘s not Nevada.  We should mention it‘s robo poll where voters were asked if Republicans should have nominated someone other than Sharron Angle who has a screw loose in the Senate race against Harry Reid.  Well, 66 percent agree that they want somebody to run; 21 percent said no, she‘s just right, which is about the number of nuts out here, 21?

LOWDEN:  You know, you‘re saying all this.  I‘m not saying it.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  But even—I know you want to run again, but even when you look at Republicans, the number holds, 68 percent of Republicans say they should have nominated someone else, 27 say Angle was the right pick.

So, how do parties end up running people that can‘t win general elections?  You‘ve got this O‘Donnell that ran out in Delaware.


MATTHEWS:  Anybody else would have won.


MATTHEWS:  Democrat blocked in.  Is your party in trouble?  Up in Alaska, you almost had the guy Joe Miller almost knocked off Murkowski.  Well, she won by putting on a write-in.

Is your party in danger to losing out to the crazies?

LOWDEN:  Well, I hope not.  I hope that you run as a regular

Republican, whatever that means to folks out there and win.  Clearly, this

caught me for a loop.  This whole Tea Party—all of the money coming in -

it was an astronomical amount of money.


MATTHEWS:  Harry Reid says it‘s only going to last as long as the economy is really in bad shape.  It‘s going to fade.  Do you think that‘s true?

LOWDEN:  I can‘t predict that.  I think that people are angry out there, Chris.  You know it.  You must feel it.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, they‘re angry—


LOWDEN:  They‘re angry with the spending and they‘re angry here in Nevada, because there‘s no jobs.  We‘re number one in foreclosures.

MATTHEWS:  How does your state they, felt was pretty, you know, looking around right now, it looks like it‘s zooming.

LOWDEN:  I know it looks great right now.  I love this, yes.

MATTHEWS:  All of these high tech people up there.  But it‘s got the 14.3 percent jobless rate, the highest jobless rate in the country.

LOWDEN:  And we‘ve been the highest in the country for a long time.  We feel it, more than any part in the country, because if you don‘t have money in your pocket from Philadelphia, you‘re not coming to Las Vegas.

MATTHEWS:  The pain (ph) was felt coming out.

Let me go to Jon Ralston.  Jon, the politics out here—have we finished with duck soup here, this crazy selection by Republicans of people that can‘t win generals?

JON RALSTON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I‘m actually astounded by those PPP numbers, Chris -- 68 percent, who are the 32 percent of the Republican Party that thought it was a good idea to nominate Sharron Angle?  So, they‘re still out there.  They‘re holding sway in the state politics. 

They led to the ouster of Bill Raggio, the longtime minority leader.

The Tea Party is definitely still a force out here.  Just ask Sue Lowden, she knows.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you, Sue—I will ask you, Sue Lowden.  Are you going to run for the Senate?  If John Ensign doesn‘t run, will you run?

LOWDEN:  If John Ensign doesn‘t run and Congressman Dean Heller decides not throw his hat in the ring, I would think about it seriously.

MATTHEWS:  But you don‘t want to beat Heller.

LOWDEN:  I don‘t think that I can beat Heller.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s enough.  You‘re honest.

LOWDEN:  That‘s a very honest answer.  It‘s a very honest answer.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the thing about going to the doctor and bringing your mule along with some produce to pay the bill?

LOWDEN:  You know, what‘s wrong with that?

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s an interesting idea about 100 years ago, but you got stuck with it looking like it was a live prospect to how to pay your health bills.

LOWDEN:  And all that I was talking about is what your grandparents did and they did do that.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

LOWDEN:  And that‘s all I was talking about.

MATTHEWS:  But why couldn‘t you get off—didn‘t you have a PR guy to get you off the hook for this?

LOWDEN:  Obviously, not good enough.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, I could see making a mistake with a bad metaphor I do it all of the time.  But usually, you sit down with your geniuses, they fix it, and 24 hours, you‘re cool.

LOWDEN:  It blew into oblivion.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re walking around with stupid little flux.

LOWDEN:  It was silly.  It was really silly.  And now, guess what, I‘m on the Nevada Medical Board of Examiners.  So, what is the irony of that?

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think that the Irish should be able to pay potatoes.

LOWDEN:  There you go.  I agree.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Sue Lowden.  A lot of fun, as you could see a great candidate for the Senate—

LOWDEN:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  -- if you happen to be a middle of the road Republican.

Anyway, we‘re going to be right back.  I‘ve got some final thoughts about betting on the president next time.  Don‘t bet on the president yet.  We‘ll be right back.

Sue Lowden, thank you.  Thank you, Jon Ralston.

LOWDEN:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  When we return, that‘s what I‘m going to talk about.


MATTHEWS:  “Let Me Finish” tonight in Las Vegas with a betting proposition.

The latest betting in politics is that Barack Obama will get re-elected.  I just looked at the numbers on intrade.com, the bookie operation over out in Ireland because the sports folks here in Vegas no longer allowed betting on the elections.  Intrade got it at 58 percent that the president gets a second term.

I think that‘s high.  The next election is far more dicey for one simple reason: the economy.  I than we‘ve got a lower unemployment number for December, but 9.4 percent ain‘t that great.  It‘s still about double what we consider normal in this country.

Second, it‘s really not coming down at any rate to the give us hope that it‘ll be down to seven by the end of next year.  And I would consider 7 percent safe territory for the president.  Anything higher and I‘m just not sure you can call the election an even bet for the president.

There‘s a huge divide in this country.  On the top side of high-tech types, they‘re having their big convention here—the people, the economic winners in our society, the well-educated, the digitally connected.

But there‘s this whole other flyover, from Buffalo to Milwaukee, Scranton to Oshkosh as I put before, they‘re getting killed.  Its industries are dying or dead.  This part of the country stuck it to the Democrats last November and it‘s not going to be in any better mood next November, even if jobless number keeps edging down.

So here‘s how I‘d bet for the 2012: if Republicans and the Tea Partiers can unite, if they can pick a candidate that unites the whole far right, right and center coalition the way Reagan did, they‘re going to be very tough to beat.  If they have a division, if the Mitt Romney types can‘t hit it off with the Sarah Palin types, there‘s going to be either a third party candidate, watch for Michele Bachmann or if they run a far right or a real fall-off in the middle.

The reason I expect the far right, right and center coalition to come apart next year is historic.  Up until the last election, in all of the past 60 years, going back to the early 1950s, there‘s been the name Nixon, Bush, or Dole on the Republican national ticket for 60 years.  They are a party that gives people another chance.

The Democrats shoot their wounded.  The Republicans run them next time.

For this Republican Party, which loves nominating the people who have tried and failed before, that loves the regular Republican to go out and run, a Palin type is just too far out for its history.  They did it with Goldwater, but that‘s once in 60 years.

So, I see a lot of anger and frustration and bellowing in Tampa next September when the Republicans have their national convention.  I think they‘ll be a third party on the right, a Michele Bachmann type, and that will give Barack Obama the edge that he needs in mean times.

That‘s my betting proposition from out here in Las Vegas.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.


ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to “THE ED SHOW,” tonight from New York.

These stories are hitting my hot buttons and on the table at this hour:

A very confident President Obama came out today to announce strong, new job numbers, but John Boehner and the Republicans are already trying to take credit and rewrite history.  Austan Goolsbee, President Obama‘s top White House adviser, is here with the reaction on the numbers tonight.

House Republicans say they want to cut the deficit but John Boehner refuses to name a single program to cut.  Not one.  And today, they clear the way for a vote to repeal the health care bill.





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