updated 7/1/2011 1:07:06 PM ET 2011-07-01T17:07:06

Guests: Sen. Richard Durbin, Stephanie Cutter, Todd Harris, Steve McMahon,

Nancy Northup, Gary Sinise, Laura Bassett

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Killing the economy, Republican style.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

Slash and burn.  Are the Republicans trying to tank the economy for their own political gain?  That‘s what Senator Chuck Schumer is charging right now.  Republicans know President Obama‘s chances of reelection get better as economic conditions improve, and that may explain their eagerness to play chicken with the debt ceiling and the economy.

And about those Republicans.  Will they go for a true believer in 2012 or big bucks?  That‘s the choice they‘re facing between their two frontrunners, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney.  He‘s got the bankroll, but she‘s the true believer.  So who wins?

And a new twist in the age-old fight over abortion rights.  Kansas has approved new rules, regulations for abortion clinics, regulating everything from the drugs they stock to the size and temperature of (ph) procedure in recovery rooms.  Supporters say the new rules will protect patients, but critics say they‘re a thinly veiled attempt to shut down abortion clinics.

And actor Gary Sinise, otherwise known as Lieutenant Dan from the movie “Forrest Gump”—eight years ago, he formed a band that plays for U.S. troops around the world.  Now he‘s made a movie about it.  He‘s here tonight to talk about the film and a new way you can help wounded service people.

Finally, imagine—John Lennon, a Reagan Democrat?  That‘s what his one-time personal assistant recalls.  Check out the “Sideshow” tonight.

We start with the Republicans and the economy.  Senator Richard Durbin‘s a Democrat from Illinois and the Senate majority whip.  Thank you, Senator, for coming on HARDBALL tonight.

Here‘s New York senator Chuck Schumer on the Republicans‘ motivation. 

Let‘s listen to him first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  We need to start asking ourselves an uncomfortable question.  Are Republicans slowing down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012?  And now it‘s becoming clear that insisting on a slash-and-burn approach may be part of this plan.  It has a double benefit for Republicans.  It‘s ideologically tidy and it undermines economic recovery, which they think only helps them in 2012.  If the public comes to believe that Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the economy, it will backfire politically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Durbin, your view on that charge.  Is it true?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP:  Well, I can tell you Senator Mitch McConnell started the session with a very clear pronouncement.  His highest legislative priority was to make sure that Barack Obama was a one-term president.  That‘s a quote, Chris.

And then we take a look at what‘s happened on the floor.  We bring up garden-variety bills that used to pass by voice vote, like the extension of the Economic Development Administration, which creates job cross America, they inundate them with 100 amendments on every topic under the sun and then won‘t allow us to go forward with the final passage of the bill.

You have to say to yourself, if they‘re trying to help create jobs in America, why are they killing the bills on the floor of the Senate that will create jobs?

MATTHEWS:  Why are they opposing—well, let me ask you the question wide open.  It seems to me businesses always likes to have lower payroll taxes because they have to pay half of them.  They have to pay the employer‘s end of it.  Why wouldn‘t they want a tax cut in that regard?  And they seem to be opposing that, and that‘s an Obama plan.

DURBIN:  I think, frankly, you‘ve just answered your own question.  It‘s an Obama plan.  It seems to me that anything this administration comes forward with, the Republicans are going to oppose.

Think what they said about the president‘s stimulus package, how much they hated it.  They failed to acknowledge 40 percent of the president‘s stimulus package were tax cuts.  That‘s supposed to be the mantra of the Republican Party.  The president said, Put tax cuts in there.  Not good enough.

Unfortunately, unless you pull together in this tough economy, we‘re not going to get out of the ditch.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this thing that I—I‘m usually—I watch these things like you do.  Even though you‘re a partisan leader on the Hill, you have to look at these somewhat objectively.  I am stunned to hear that the Republicans on Capitol Hill are now for the first time denying there is any real deadline for coming up with a debt ceiling bill, that it‘s just—any deadline, they deny exists.  They‘re saying things like, Well, we can always borrow some other way.  We can always put it off.

It seems to me that they want to see a crash in the economy as the deadline—in other words, go right up to the edge and then over the edge, and then they‘ll cut a deal.  Have you heard these arguments?

DURBIN:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  “The Washington Examiner,” conservative newspaper, this morning lead editorial said, There is no deadline.  You just go right up to the edge, is basically what they‘re saying, have the catastrophe, and then they‘ll pick up the pieces.  This is Republican argument.

DURBIN:  Chris, let me tell you something.  If we don‘t extend the debt ceiling before August 2nd, we‘re going to find ourselves in a deeper recession than we just are escaping from.  If we don‘t exceed that debt ceiling on August 2nd, interest rates are going up not only on government borrowing but on borrowing by average Americans to buy car or a home or to expand a business.

Now, let me tell you that will be an economic catastrophe, and we‘ll be faced with making hard choices in the month of August.  We‘ll have $170 billion to spend and over $300 billion in bills.  So who do we pay?  Social Security recipients, Medicare, Medicaid, our troops that are fighting, federal employees like air traffic controllers and prison guards?  It really comes down to stark choices.

What the president said yesterday is he‘s impatient.  He wants our Senate and House to come together in Washington and get this job done—not at the last minute, but in time so that we can send the message to the world that America is in business and moving forward.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s hear the other side.  Here‘s Texas senator John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, taking on President Obama today.  Here he is.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS:  This is a grand opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together to do the nation‘s business, to be serious, not to be reckless, not to give demagogic speeches like the president gave yesterday as part of his reelection campaign.  Absolutely disgraceful!  He should be ashamed!  I respect the office of the president of the United States, but I think the president has diminished that office and himself by giving the kind of campaign speeches that he gave yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So what‘s up with this use of the term “demagogue”?  That‘s pretty strong language.  I remember that was almost out of the question for politician to call another one, certainly the president, a demagogue?

DURBIN:  It‘s really over the line.  I think Senator Cornyn got a little too emotional in that speech.  I like John.  But I was on the floor when he started to give it, and I shook my head, thinking this is not going to have a happy ending.  Some of us in public life get carried away with our rhetoric and occasionally go too far.  He went too far.

What the president said yesterday was he was impatient.  He wanted this problem solved.  He understands we have a deficit and we have to work together to solve it.

When Congressman Eric Cantor, the House Republican leader, walks out on bipartisan budget negotiations two weeks ago, that is not an indication of good faith or bipartisanship.  He threw it in the lap of Speaker John Boehner and said, Now go talk to the president.  This round of bargaining is over.

I can understand the president‘s a little frustrated.  I think I am, too.  Most Americans are.  It‘s time for both sides to sit together in a room and not walk out.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate majority whip.  Thank you for joining us.

Joining us right now is Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president.  Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us.  Do you think there‘s a Republican strategy of slow-walking this effort to keep the deficit—to keep—have the debt ceiling go past the time to avoid a catastrophe?  Are they up to something here?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, I‘m not going to get into whatever their motivations are.  I do know that we have to come to an agreement, that we—you know, Congress has an obligation on the debt limit to avoid the government defaulting on the debt.  It‘s never happened before.  Congress has always met its obligations, and we‘re expecting that to happen this time.

We don‘t think they‘re actively working against the economy.  Too many people are hurting out there, you know, struggling to make ends meet.  We need to show some leadership in Washington and work for those people.  I think Republicans can understand that, and I don‘t think it‘s a very good political strategy to talk down the economy or to take actions that hurt the economy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe you‘re being too nice.  I hate to say that about a partisan spokesperson.  But it seems to me when I read “The Washington Examiner”—I always read all opinions in my job.  When I hear them saying there is no real deadline, we can go right past that deadline in August, have the federal government—interest rates going through the roof, becoming a junk bond nation, and saying, Oh, well, we‘ll just find ways of triage and we‘ll get through it—what do you think of that statement?  Is that true?

CUTTER:  Well, look, obviously, it‘s not true, and everybody knows that it‘s not true.  The Treasury has set the deadline as August 2nd.  Every month, they update that date, and they‘ll do that again tomorrow at the beginning of the month.

Whether it moves a day or two, it doesn‘t matter.  The point is that we‘re hitting the deadline.  We‘re close to the deadline.  We have to act.  Otherwise, there are going to be economic consequences.  You know, the president made a point in his press conference yesterday about Malia and Sasha not waiting until the last minute to do their homework.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

CUTTER:  Why is Congress waiting until the last minute to do their homework?  We know what the consequences are.  We know what it takes to get this done.  They should do it!

MATTHEWS:  Well, I was one of those kids that got it done the last minute.  In fact, I did the all-nighters...

CUTTER:  Me, too!

MATTHEWS:  ... so I got no room to complain.

(LAUGHTER)

CUTTER:  Me, neither.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think—on a serious note, we just heard Senator Cornyn of Texas, who‘s head of—whose job it is to get Republicans elected in the Senate and take over the Senate next year.  Do you think he went past the line when he said demagoguery or the president of the United States?  Back in my days in politics, when Tip O‘Neill or Reagan dropped a line like that, there was a phone call a little bit later apologizing for it.

Is that the new lingo, you call the other side a demagogue, like Julius Caesar or something?  Is that OK?

CUTTER:  Well, you know, I think that—I agree with Senator Durbin, who was on your show just a second ago, in saying that sometimes, our rhetoric and political discourse gets out of control.  I think that may have been close to the line, if not over the line.

You know, it‘s amazing what thin skin people had after the press conference yesterday.  All the president said yesterday was, You know, we have to have a little urgency here.  Our economy is at stake.  And it‘s going to take both sides moving a little bit, getting out of their comfort zones, to get it done.

And that means Republicans have to look at closing those tax loopholes

you know, corporate jets, hedge fund managers, the millionaires and billionaires.  They have to get out of their comfort zone if they‘re serious about deficit reduction.  That‘s not an insult.  That‘s not sharp rhetoric.  That‘s just the truth.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Stephanie Cutter, thank for joining us on HARDBALL. 

As assistant to the president...

CUTTER:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... we hope we can have you back again and again during the next couple months.  Thank you for tonight.

CUTTER:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Mitt Romney‘s the bankroller.  Michele Bachmann‘s the true believer.  What do you like, belief or bankroll?  If you‘re a Republican, you got to decide between that guy and that woman, and they‘re offering very different deals.  One says, I got the money, the other one says, I agree with you.  I‘m not a fraud.

Anyway, you‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  President Obama and Mitt Romney are both up in Pennsylvania campaigning today in what Romney hopes is a preview of the general election.  The president‘s fund-raising in Philadelphia while Romney‘s up in Allentown, attacking the president‘s economic policies.  He spoke to reporters outside the now shuttered Allentown Metal Works, the same factory the president visited back in 2009 as he was pushing the stimulus.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Right now, the top two contenders, I think they are, for the Republican nomination seem to be Mitt Romney and our own—I should say that because she started here—Michele Bachmann.  Even former president Bill Clinton is weighing in on their candidacies.  Here he is on “Good Morning America” today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Governor Romney‘s doing a better job as a candidate this time than he did four years ago, comes across as more relaxed and more convicted about what he did do, less willing to just be forced into apologizing for it.

I‘m not surprised by how well Michele Bachmann‘s done.  I‘ve been watching her speak.  She comes across as real person, all those foster children she‘s taken in and children she‘s raised and the work she‘s done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So will this race whittle down to the bankroller versus the true believer?  And which of these two appeals to the undecided voter will work?

Let‘s bring in the HARDBALL strategists, the experts, Democrat Steve McMahon, Republican Todd Harris.  You got a strange political party.  It‘s kind of schizoid.  You‘ve got the people that believe what they say and the people have got the money to pretend they have -- (INAUDIBLE) they say.

How about this?  You know, you go work for some businesses, like in merchandising, they make you take a lie detector test before you start to see if you really are trustworthy or not.  Do you think you should do that to your candidates?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Does Mitt Romney...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does Mitt Romney really believe this Tea Party stuff that Michele Bachmann obviously believes in her dreams?

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Seriously.  (INAUDIBLE) seriously.  You‘re laughing, but do you really believe Mitt Romney‘s a Tea Party type?  Does he really believe this stuff?

HARRIS:  I‘m not sure he‘s trying to present himself as a...

MATTHEWS:  Oh!

HARRIS:  ... a Tea Party type.  He‘s trying to...

MATTHEWS:  What is he...

HARRIS:  ... present himself as a conservative, certainly.  But this is the classic...

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Just enough Tea to get nominated.

HARRIS:  This is the classic battle that...

MATTHEWS:  Just a splash!

HARRIS:  ... every—every Republican primary, you‘ve got the movement conservative person and the more establishment person.  But regardless of how it shakes out, when people are actually voting, this setup, this context could not be better for Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS:  Because?

HARRIS:  Because right now, Michele Bachmann‘s presence is completely freezing out Tim Pawlenty and Huntsman, the two guys that were trying to occupy the same space that Romney is occupying.  The better Michele Bachmann does...

MATTHEWS:  OK, there it is again!

HARRIS:  ... the tougher it is for them.

MATTHEWS:  I know this is weird (ph) cosmetic, and people say I‘m a lightweight for this.  How come Mitt Romney‘s collars, when he doesn‘t button them at the top, stay together?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Look at that!  Look at that!  That is—this is—this is really...

MCMAHON:  It‘s got starch.

MATTHEWS:  ... the Amazing Kreskin or something (INAUDIBLE) explaining this to me, Yuri Geller or somebody.

MCMAHON:  Or, you know, sometimes...

MATTHEWS:  How does he keep them together like that?

MCMAHON:  ... when you have those custom shirts that Mitt Romney probably favors, you have the little secret little thing that you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s get back to business here.  What do you think of the party?  They got a schizoid situation here.  The got the body wants to be Tea, the head may be thinking, Oh, we go to go to the middle with Romney.  But Romney was for health care in Massachusetts.  He‘s a pro-choicer in terms of abortion rights.  Radically different than the Tea Party people.

MCMAHON:  Here‘s what you...

MATTHEWS:  Radically different.

MCMAHON:  Yes, but here‘s what you have going on in the Republican Party, I think, simultaneously.  I think Todd‘s broken down the ideological barrier absolutely correctly.  You‘ve got the establishment conservatives who want somebody who‘s pure and you‘ve got the other, more country club Republicans, who want somebody who‘s more like them.  But I think...

MATTHEWS:  But you look like a country club Republican.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  ... when I put a tie on.

HARRIS:  Oh, I look more like a hippie.

MCMAHON:  But at the end of the day, the most important thing to the Republicans, the pragmatic Republicans, is who can be competitive with President Obama?  They would say, Who can beat President Obama?  They know in their heart that neither Michele Bachmann nor Rick Perry nor Newt Gingrich nor anybody who is on the far right is going to be able to get that done...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... latest poll.  Here‘s your latest polling, the new Fox News poll of Republican primary voters, to make your point or not.  Romney leads the pack at 18, really not jumping up there yet, with all his name ID, followed by Texas governor Rick Perry, who I don‘t think they‘d recognize in a police line-up, and 13 with—he‘s got 13.  Michele Bachmann‘s at 11.  Rudy Giuliani‘s in there.  Palin, Ron Paul still in there with very low numbers.

It looks to me, though—your problem with your party—back to the usual argument we have around here.  People seem to keep voting for people who aren‘t running.  Why is that?  They don‘t like the ones that are running.  It‘s like, I don‘t like anything I see.

HARRIS:  This happens in both parties.  I remember people begging Mario Cuomo, Please run, you know?  Right now they‘re talking about, you know, Jeb Bush, please run.  Chris Christie...

MCMAHON:  Marco Rubio!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But why are they doing that?

HARRIS:  Well, the grass—the political grass...

MATTHEWS:  Answer your question.

HARRIS:  The political grass is always greener.  As soon as people throw their hats into the ring, they start getting scrutinized.  All of a sudden, everyone starts saying, Oh, wouldn‘t it be great if this person...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

HARRIS:  ... who we don‘t really know very much about, but they seem like they‘d be a great candidate—and that‘s—that‘s what you‘re seeing in these polls, but...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

HARRIS:  ... but these national primary polls don‘t mean anything.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you one thing.  Political parties like to have the person up on that podium or that big speaker at the end, male or female, whatever—they want them to believe what they believe.  Do you still think that‘s important, or is it just to seize this opportunity to knock off Obama?

HARRIS:  Well, no, I think...

MATTHEWS:  Do they want Romney to believe what they believe?

HARRIS:  Of course, you want...

MATTHEWS:  Does he?

HARRIS:  You want your party, your candidate, to represent the values of your...

MATTHEWS:  Represent your beliefs or share your beliefs?  There‘s a difference.

HARRIS:  Well, this...

MCMAHON:  This happens all...

HARRIS:  (INAUDIBLE) Steve‘s point, you know, whatever will beat Obama.

MATTHEWS:  OK, this is pure opportunism on their part.

HARRIS:  (INAUDIBLE) you‘re talking about, like, that this is somehow isolated to the Republican Party.  Let‘s not forget Barack Obama ran for president.  He was going to close Gitmo, end the war.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

HARRIS:  He was not going to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He tried to do those things.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  ... candidate on the left. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  Yes, that‘s right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Name a thing that Obama said he was going to do he didn‘t want to do.   

HARRIS:  He caved on the Bush tax cuts.

MATTHEWS:  He wanted to do these things.  He had a point of view.  

What does Romney want to do?

HARRIS:  If he wanted to do these things, then why did he campaign in 2008 saying, if you vote for me in the primary, I will close Gitmo, end the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s trying to do those things.  He tried to close Gitmo.  He couldn‘t do it. 

HARRIS:  So, he‘s just ineffective then.  He‘s not a very good president. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that could be a problem with some of these cases.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you can‘t—I‘m asking you a fundamental question. 

You are dodging. 

HARRIS:  Well, no.  I‘m...

MATTHEWS:  Shouldn‘t the Republican Party run somebody who believes in their principles and not just somebody who will manage to get by the gate? 

HARRIS:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  But I don‘t think whether Mitt Romney...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Michele Bachmann. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON:  He‘s hedging.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m told to let you answer.  Are you answering? 

HARRIS:  I don‘t think that you get to be the final arbiter or whether Republicans think that Mitt Romney believes his principles.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I don‘t think...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  But we get to talk about it today, don‘t we?

The problem with Mitt Romney, of course, is we don‘t really know what he believes because he‘s been on both sides of so many issues.  And the only issue that he remained consistent on is the one that is anathema in the Republican primary.

He supported Obamacare in Massachusetts.  And frankly the president modeled the national health care legislation after what was successful in Massachusetts.  And instead of flip-flopping on that, which probably would have been politically opportunistic, he stuck to his guns. 

I‘m glad he did, and—but I think it‘s a problem for him in the primary. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to an interesting curiosity about Michele Bachmann, who we have been watching closely since we launched her a few years around here, unfortunately, perhaps, or fortunately for some people.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Michele Bachmann‘s husband, Marcus, who I met—he seems like a nice fellow.  He‘s a Christian counselor.

Last year, he went on radio, a program, and referred to gays as barbarians.  Let‘s listen to what he said and why.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MARCUS BACHMANN, HUSBAND OF MICHELE BACHMANN:  It have to understand that barbarians need to be educated, they need to be disciplined.   And just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn‘t mean that we‘re supposed to go down that road.  That‘s what is called a sinful nature.

And we have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings to move into the action step.

(END AUDIO CLIP) 

MATTHEWS:  So what do you make of that as a national campaign message, that people who are gay should not act on being gay? 

Well, that‘s an argument.  It‘s a religious argument, perhaps, but it‘s certainly an odd thing to be making as a spokesman for a spouse of a political campaign.

HARRIS:  Well, I don‘t think it‘s going to be the message of her campaign.  It‘s probably not language that even she potentially would use.

But I will say this. 

MATTHEWS:  Barbarians? 

HARRIS:  Yes, I would assume she wouldn‘t.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They‘re pretty good dancers, though, I guess.  Here they are.  Here—look at this.  Michele is—the congresswoman is dancing pretty lively there, I think.

HARRIS:  The more the media wants to pick on Michele Bachmann, the more her base...

MATTHEWS:  No, we don‘t pick on her. 

HARRIS:  ... the more the base is going to love her, because the one thing that all Republicans are always skeptical of is any candidate that the mainstream media falls in love with.  And so if the media is attacking Bachmann, they‘re going to be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Before you make these accusations about—it seems to me, over the years, the media has fallen in love with—and you have been correct about it—people like me have always liked Mario Cuomo.  We thought he was a true believer.  We thought he was a really good, progressive, liberal man... 

MCMAHON:  A very smart man.

MATTHEWS:  ... and a good man, a good man.

And then we all fell for Colin Powell, a lot of us.  And we thought Colin Powell would be great.  None of these guys go anywhere.  And then we all were for a while there for John McCain.  I will admit there‘s a mainstream sort of media favorite at the time, but they never win. 

HARRIS:  No, no, that wasn‘t my point.  My point was that, look...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Obama.  Obama won.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  I was on the McCain 2000 campaign, where the press was in love with John McCain. 

MCMAHON:  Loved John McCain.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Straight talk, we liked that part of it.  We liked the straight part.

HARRIS:  The one thing we would hear constantly from conservative activists is how skeptical they were of John McCain because, why did the media like himself so much?

MATTHEWS:  Because he was talking the truth. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON:  But—OK, so...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What is wrong with that, by the way?  You‘re laughing at that. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  Hey, I had a great time on that campaign. 

HARRIS:  I think Michele Bachmann would make a great nominee.  And I hope she picks Sarah Palin to be vice president, because I would like to see the ticket, not the mud wrestling match. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you‘re just being ridiculous. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this, because you‘re an expert.  You are. 

You know your party better than you do or I do. 

Do you think there is a chance Michele Bachmann can be the nominee of the Republican Party? 

HARRIS:  There‘s a chance.  I think it would be tough.  But—yes, but there‘s a chance. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the front-runner? 

HARRIS:  Romney. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he will win? 

HARRIS:  I have no idea. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How come everybody doesn‘t like him who knows him?  Why does Huckabee call him—what does he call him?  Something terrible. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No soul.  He said he had no soul.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  He was also running in a primary against him. 

MATTHEWS:  And McCain wouldn‘t pick him.  He picked Palin instead of him.  It seems like, when you get closer to him, these guys don‘t like him. 

HARRIS:  Well, in 2008, I mean—I like Mitt Romney, but there‘s no question that the positions that he took in ‘08, many of them were...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  Different than ‘04. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But there seems to be a personal thing, that guys who get closer to him don‘t like him.  Is it jealousy?  What is it about him they don‘t like him?  They think he‘s not—they don‘t think he‘s for real. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  Yes.  there‘s—and, look, that‘s something that he‘s going to have to contend...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you hear this? 

MCMAHON:  Well, yes.  There‘s a sense that he‘s always felt he was entitled and he‘s always purchased what he wanted.  And he has a very pretty wife and a very pretty family, and he‘s a very pretty man.  And so there may be a little bit of envy and there may be a little bit of jealousy. 

He‘s a very wealthy man.  But he made his money basically by buying up companies and carving out the employees and letting them go, and getting rid them, and saving money that way.  And that‘s going to be an issue. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  He made his money because... 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  He‘s a gifted manager, knows how to create jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  He went to Michigan today and talked about the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He creates jobs.  He said he gets rid of jobs. 

MCMAHON:  He creates wealth by getting rid of jobs.  And Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 states in job creation when he was governor.  He is going to have to defend that record.  It‘s not... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If you were his candidate manager—campaign manager, would you have him take a lie-detector test on all this stuff he says he believes? 

HARRIS:  No. 

MCMAHON:  Sodium pentathol.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No.  See?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  But I would never do that with any candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  Why?  Because we don‘t trust these candidates to say what they believe.

HARRIS:  I would like Barack Obama to take a lie-detector test. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  He could debate the Barack Obama of 2008.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He tried. 

Your guy doesn‘t even try.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Steve McMahon. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Todd, you‘re great.  Thank you. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You got a great sense of humor about the hilarity of your party.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Steve McMahon.

Up next, remember—imagine.  Remember this song?  Imagine that John Lennon, the great campaigner for peace and love, actually was a supporter of Ronald Reagan.  We will see if that‘s true.  Catch the “Sideshow” coming back.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First up: a strange grab for power.  Watch what happened in France today as President Nicolas Sarkozy is out there shaking hands in a crowd, working the old rope line. 

Well, the attacker, who was unarmed, was taken into custody.  The wild part of all this:  Sarkozy just continued on down the rope line like nothing had happened.  Talk about cool.

Next:  Was John Lennon a Reagan Democrat?  Well, that‘s the claim being made by the Beatles‘ personal assistant, who says of the one-time radical—quote—“John basically made it very clear that if he were an American, he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on Jimmy Carter.”  Well, this is back in 1980. 

Look, I know a lot of people went that way.  I voted for Carter. 

Hell, I was writing speeches for the guy. 

Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”

Remember, yesterday, when President Obama chided members of Congress on their work ethic, or lack thereof?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  They‘re in one week, they‘re out one week, and then they‘re—they‘re saying, Obama‘s got to step in.  You need to be here.  I have been here.  I have been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis.

(LAUGHTER)

BARACK OBAMA:  You stay here.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it turns out he has a point, at least if you go by the number of bills passed.

Through the first hall of this year, 2011, how many bills have become law?  Well, according to Politico, 18.  The kicker, 15 of those laws named a building after someone, extended an expiring law, or appointed an official to the Smithsonian Institute. 

Overall, even counting all them, 18 laws passed by Congress this year, tonight‘s not-so “Big Number.”

Up next:  Kansas is inching closer to an all-out ban on abortion, in effect.  The state has approved a new set of regulations that critics say is aimed at shutting down all the abortion clinics, all three of them in the state.  We‘re going to hear from both sides. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

A major rally to close out a rocky second quarter, the Dow Jones industrials soaring almost 153 points, the S&P 500 up 13.  Nasdaq added a big double-three, 33 points. 

Bulls raging today as investors put a bow on a quarter marked by a European debt crisis, volatile commodity costs, global supply disruptions that arose from that devastating quake in Japan. 

Today also marks the end of QE2, the Fed‘s second round of bond-buying stimulus.  In fact, bonds took a beating today, as investors moved back into stocks with gusto, yields moving high on bonds. 

Adding to the momentum, a shockingly strong reading on Midwest manufacturing from the Chicago Fed—shock in a good way.  Across the pond, the Greek Parliament approved a road map for achieving $40 billion worth of tax cuts, spending hikes and privatizations. 

And, finally, First Solar shares on fire today after winning a $4.5 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department for three new solar plants in California. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

Kansas may be on track to become the first state in the country to put an end to abortion.  A new law requires the state‘s abortion providers to comply with strict new regulations that set equipment, temperature and space requirements.  And the Associated Press reports that, as of today, only one of the state‘s three clinics met those requirements. 

Two others were denied permission to operate, effectively shutting them down tomorrow.  Supporters of the new regulations say they‘re necessary for patient safety.  Abortion rights advocates say this is nothing more than a Republican move to put—to basically get around the law of the land and eliminate abortions in Kansas. 

Laura Bassett is a reporter with The Huffington Post.  And she joins us first.

Laura, give us a sense.  Is that true?  Is this basically setting a whole bunch of conditions, like they used to do with literacy tests in the South to keep blacks from voting?  Is this a bunch of regulations that basically kill any chance of having an abortion legally in Kansas? 

LAURA BASSETT, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  That‘s what they seem to be and that is what they have done. 

Actually, I just heard word that the third clinic has been denied—has been denied a license as well, which means that a woman can no longer get an abortion in Kansas because of these impossible regulations that they were given two weeks to comply with. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Give me example of one of the regs that they have put up. 

BASSETT:  For instance, recovery room has to be between 70 and 75 degrees.  There has to be a janitor‘s closet that is 50 square feet or larger.

There have to be separate dressing rooms for patients and for staff. 

There has to be—the recovery room has to be 150 square feet or larger. 

The size and the temperature of the rooms...

MATTHEWS:  No, this is like literally tests in the South. 

BASSETT:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s not exactly parallel, but it‘s the kind of game you set.

Now, my question is, are they admitting that this is a game, a strategy to kill abortion rights in Kansas? 

BASSETT:  Oh, Republicans are not admitting it.  They‘re saying it‘s to protect women‘s health.  They‘re saying it‘s to protect safety, that these clinics aren‘t safe.

But doctors are saying that these regulations aren‘t even being used for hospitals and surgery centers.  And an abortion procedure is much less invasive than many other surgical procedures that don‘t have these same regulations.  And so it raises a few questions. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, so they never break their game face? 

BASSETT:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  They never admit, come on, we know what we‘re doing here? 

BASSETT:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  But are the people who backed these regulations really hard pro-lifers in other regards? 

BASSETT:  They are. 

MATTHEWS:  You can spot their background? 

BASSETT:  You can. 

Many of these Republicans, they have passed a number of laws this year.  They have a 20-week ban—a 20-week ban.  They have banned private insurance—they have banned insurance providers from—for—from covering abortions.  And minors now have to get permission from their parents to get abortions.  So it‘s already really difficult to get an abortion in Kansas.  And this has made it effectively impossible. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you—I know you report from here in Washington.  But is there any way of getting a sense of what this does now?

We can have this argument, but the Supreme Court is pretty clear.  It says no undue burden. 

BASSETT:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  You can have all the rules in the world, but they can‘t make it impossible, or effectively impossible, to make that decision.  It‘s your decision.  That‘s what the courts rule. 

BASSETT:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t this testable in the courts?  Isn‘t this something that the Supreme Court will rule that basically what they‘re doing is nullifying the rule of the Supreme Court here? 

BASSETT:  They are. 

The states are hacking away at Roe v. Wade right now.  I know all three abortion clinics in Kansas are planning on fighting this in court.  And a woman now has to go to Missouri for the nearest abortion clinic.  And if that‘s not undue burden, I don‘t know what it. 

MATTHEWS:  I think if you have to go out of state, that would be a good case. 

BASSETT:  Mm-hmm.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Laura Bassett for that from The Huffington Post. 

BASSETT:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Nancy Northup is basically—is the president of the Center For Reproductive Rights down there.  She has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of one of those abortion providers down in Kansas. 

Give us your sense, Nancy, Ms. Northup.

Thank you for joining us tonight on this. 

It looks to me like this is an attempt to outlaw abortion, effectively

Is that how you see it? -- in the state of Kansas.

NANCY NORTHUP, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTION RIGHT:  Yes.  Absolutely an attempt to outlaw abortion in the state of Kansas.  These are medically unnecessary rules that were put into place in a kind of bogus procedural way, and our clients are not going to be able to provide abortion service tomorrow morning until we get into court tomorrow afternoon.

MATTHEWS:  So, what happens—I mean, I‘m not going to make the argument here.  Let you make the argument, you‘re the advocate.  It seems to me it puts women who want to have an abortion in a double choice situation: travel out of state or go to someone who does it illegally?

NORTHUP:  Well, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s effectively where it‘s going to come to, isn‘t it?

NORTHUP:  The harm of these laws is that they hurt women.  And, you know, one in three women in the United States has an abortion in her lifetime, and in the state of Kansas, there are many women who need to access abortion services.  And our clients who provide services as part of the general OB/GYN practice, they do deliveries, they do abortion services, contraceptive services, they can‘t provide their patients with abortion services starting tomorrow morning unless we‘re able to get an injunction in court tomorrow afternoon.

MATTHEWS:  Can you get—which court are you going to?

NORTHUP:  Well, we‘re in the federal district court.  We‘ve moved for a temporary restraining order and think the facts are strong that the court should apply a temporary restraining order.  I mean, these are medically unnecessary burdensome provisions which, Kansas doesn‘t apply to doctors who do similar procedures.  When Kansas decided general rules about doctors who provide surgical procedures in Kansas, they didn‘t put these requirements into place.

MATTHEWS:  OK, I don‘t like the law used this way.  We could argue this whole issue again a million times.

But here‘s the question I have for you—if this works, there‘s going to be copycatting, right?  I mean, if you just can draw up the most onerous regulations in the world, make it 1,000 square feet, make it 2,000 square feet.  Say you have to have a toilet that‘s 500 feet high in the air.  You can make any rule you want, if your goal is to outlaw abortion.

What stops it, this direction?  What would stop it?

NORTHUP:  Well, what needs to stop it is for the -- 

MATTHEWS:  What could—I‘m sorry, go ahead.

NORTHUP:  We need the court to step in and protect women‘s constitutional rights, and protect the rights of these doctors who are providing services for their patients.  I mean, it is so important for us to remember how critical our Bill of Rights is and that we need the court.

I mean, your analogy of voting rights was excellent.  We need the court when majorities trample over the rights of citizens.  And the Supreme Court has made clear, women have access to abortion services under the Constitution and Kansas is violating that right now.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Now, let‘s look at the Supreme Court for just a minute.  We only have a minute left.  It seems that Sandra Day O‘Connor who was really holding the wall there for abortion rights all those years.  She‘s gone.

Do you still—what do you have in the court now for the basics of Roe v. Wade, for the right to have an abortion the first two trimesters?  Do you still have, do you have, 6-3 or is it 5-4 right now?

NORTHUP:  Well, it‘s probably 5-4 and Justice Kennedy, of course, was in the majority in Planned Parenthood versus Casey, which reaffirmed the constitutional right for women to access abortion services.

And we believe that these types of laws will not withstand scrutiny, because they are burdensome.  They are medically unnecessary.  And their purpose is to shut down constitutionally protected medical services.

MATTHEWS:  Well, look, Scalia is an honest guy, I can‘t see he—although he has his ideology.  I don‘t see how he can support this kind of game-playing.  This is not—this is a game here.  This is not honest law-making, it seems to me.  Whatever side you‘re on, this is not the way to decide this issue.  It should be decide and a principle of a right or not a right.

Thank you so much, Nancy Northup, for coming on HARDBALL tonight.

NORTHUP:  Thank.

MATTHEWS:  Up next: eight years ago, actor Gary Sinise started a band to help support the troops.  He‘s now made a movie about it.   He‘s coming here right now.  He‘s doing great work for wounded soldiers, when we return.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  General David Petraeus, unanimously confirmed by the U.S.  Senate at the new director of the CIA.  The vote was 94 to zip.  Petraeus, who is the top commander in both Afghanistan and in Iraq before that takes over for Leon Panetta, who is moving over to defense secretary.  Panetta‘s nomination was also unanimous.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ever since we went, everyone recognized Gary, but he didn‘t know who he was.  All they knew was, it‘s Lieutenant Dan.  They didn‘t know it was Gary Sinise.

GARY SINISE, ACTOR:  All right.  If I had a nickel for every time somebody called me this week, I could retire and just do USO shows.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Great stuff.

Back to HARDBALL.

Eight years ago, Gary Sinise, best known as “Forrest Gump‘s” Lieutenant Dan, formed a band with the same name to help support members of our Armed Forces.  On July 4th, the documentary “Lieutenant Dan Band: For the Common Good” debuts where the portion of the proceeds going to support the military and their families.

Gary Sinise joins us right now.

Lieutenant Dan, just talking.  I mean, that is going to be the most inspiring scene.  It was s down in that movie.  You know, you lose your legs and you come back with prosthetics cross the field and—stirring moment.

SINISE:  It‘s a beautiful story.

MATTHEWS:  So, what does that tell you, that experience?  And how does that get you looking out for the hearts of our soldiers who get hurt bad?

SINISE:  Well, the experience of Lieutenant Dan actually led me to the Disabled American Veterans Organization.  I, about a month after I did “Forrest Gump,” I got a call from the national commander, the DAV, and he asked me to come to their national convention, which was going to be held in Chicago that year.

I went to that convention.  I walked out onstage.  There were 3,000 people in the audience, 2,500 disabled veterans.  These who could stand were standing—people in wheelchairs.  These are disabled veterans from World War II, all the way up—at that time, it was 1994.  And I was very, very moved.

I stayed involved with DAV ever since and then September 11th rolled around and I just wanted to volunteer to go out there and serve and to try and help our active duty folks out.

MATTHEWS:  You know, we always have big debates as we go off to war.  Iraq, we‘ve debated here; Afghanistan, here—and yet the results, of course, there are wounded soldiers and permanently wounded soldiers.

What do you think the country is missing?  What are they missing you can fill in for and we ought to be doing?

SINISE:  You know—

MATTHEWS:  As we‘ve been over there.  I mean, I should go over more often.  You‘ve probably done a lot of that.

SINISE:  I go there on a fairly regular basis when I‘m here in town and then I‘ve been to Landstuhl Medical overseas, in Germany, and Balboa and Bethesda, and various hospitals.

We have a lot of Wounded Warriors support programs that are out there, that popped out around the country, that are trying to fill those gaps.

But what I would always recommend to somebody is, you know, you have a wounded soldier, they come back, they go through rehabilitation.  They are spending time at Walter Reed, and all of a sudden, they are going back it take up some civilian life in their small community.

The communities can play a part in taking care of that wounded warrior.  They can get out there and support.  They can reach out to that family, help fill the—

MATTHEWS:  So, go up knock on the door?

SINISE:  Absolutely.  I would say, you know, help that family out.  Help the family of a deployed soldier out.  Just go out, find out who is deployed in your communities.  Find out who has been serving.  Find out who‘s been wounded and just reached out and help locally.

It starts locally—you know, people just going out there and helping neighbors out.  And from there, you can find out all kinds of organizations in your area.

MATTHEWS:  This clip from the documentary we are talking about, troops talk about what it means to get away and listen to real music when your band goes out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SINISE:  A USO show doesn‘t come to base like this normally.  So, this was a special treat for them and it was for us as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Awesome to be away from the barracks free. 

Free for a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just to be out here is like an awesome break because, we are there for hours on end.  It is kind of nice to get some real music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It shows somebody wants to believe in us and be here for us when we‘re getting tortured and tormented to get trained to go to Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Al Franken, he‘s now a senator, told me years ago about here‘s a guy—a man on the political left, I guess you‘d say.  And he went around doing these USO tours like you, and he said it is amazing how the soldiers, men and women react to it.

SINISE:  Well, I‘ve been involved in veterans groups a long time, veterans groups out of Chicago area.  And as I said, I got involved with disable veterans organization back in the mid-‘90s.  And now, I‘m out there trying to do what I can on the—you know, to serve and to give-back to our warriors today.

This military is stressed.  I see a lost smiling faces when I go out there and perform for ‘em.  And through this documentary, “Lieutenant Dan Band” -- 

MATTHEWS:  How do we get to see this doc?

SINISE:  Well, there are actually—what I hope folks will do is go to Ltdanbandmovie.com.  You can pre-register now there to see the movie for $4 on July 4th for 30 days.  You‘ll be able to watch the movie online.

So, people all over the world, let‘s say these service members all over the world, they‘re struggling.  You know, some—they have Internet access at some small base in Afghanistan.  They can go online and put in their $4 and watch the movie.  One out of every $4 will go to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which is set up to support our troops and our firs responders, our military families and our defenders.

MATTHEWS:  You have a person who‘s been hurt bad over there, I met a guy who had brain injury, lost his sight, he‘s asking for his next orders.

SINISE:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Over at Walter Reed (INAUDIBLE).

SINISE:  It‘s inspiring to see the kinds of people and to meet the kinds of people that we have serve in our country out there.

You know, half a percent of the citizenry of the United States of America goes out and defends this country.  It‘s a dangerous world.  You and I both know that.

And you know, we need these military families to stay strong and resilient.  We know what happens to the Vietnam veterans when they came home.  They were treated badly.  They had to take off their uniforms.  They couldn‘t even acknowledge they were in the service.

We don‘t want that to happen ever again to our service members.  We have to keep them strong.

MATTHEWS:  And to me, there‘s two different issues, how we treat our service people and how we support them and what kind of orders they get.  And they better be good orders, because these guys and these women deserve the best in civilian leadership.

Anyway, Gary Sinise.

SINISE:  It‘s my pleasure.

MATTHEWS:  The movie premiers on July 4th.  And can you watch ltdanbandmovie.com.

When we return, “Let Me Finish” with freedom, what it means to me, and what it doesn‘t.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  “Let Me Finish” tonight with the word we all celebrate this 4th of July.  I mean, all of us—left, right and center.  It‘s freedom.

That‘s the word that moves us, gets to us, because in good cases, we know the feeling of being able to be out there on our own.  And it‘s most basic—it‘s what we thought when we out at night as teenagers, out from the grip of authority and control.  We‘re out there as individuals, on our own, to do and feel what free people do and feel.

I know what it means to me, this word “freedom” and I, like you, treasure it.  So, this is what unites this fourth.  The love of the word for the simple reason it means something to all of us, to each of us.  But it does also—and this is rub—mean somewhat different things to different Americans.  People are different in their separate interests.

To me, freedom means freedom of speech, freedom to see movies I want, read books I want, say what I want.  I have that kind of freedom here on HARDBALL—an hour a night, five nights a week.  You can probably figure me out by the mix of things I say here.

To some, freedom means the ability it run a business that dirties the air, that hurts the planet.  That‘s freedom that I say should end in a nanosecond and takes away from the person within breathing distance and living distance, which as we get more thrown together on this planet, is all of us.

Freedom to pollute, to hurt the climate of this planet is not the kind anyone would be willing to die for, don‘t you think?

What about the freedom to exploit people?  To make money by suppressing the hopes of others, screwing their paychecks down to the bones so you get the work out of them but you don‘t get to live to work?  Well, the freedom to exploit—I don‘t think so.

Is the freedom to go walking into a restaurant or hotel carrying a gun, is that the freedom someone would die for?  It‘s not about the right it bear arms but to flaunt them.

Freedom—I‘d say it‘s the things soldiers fight for.  Yes, those liberties discussed in the Bill of Rights.  They include the right it speak, to read, to think, to pray the way you want, just because you want to.

When I was at the Berlin Wall when I came down that drizzly night, I stood in a crowd of people waiting on the eastern side of the Brandenburg gate and organized a little session of HARDBALL.  I decided to ask a crowd of East Germans who had lived their lives without it what freedom went to them.

(INAUDIBLE)  What is freedom?  I kept asking.

Finally, a young man in his 20s looked me solemnly in the eye and said talking to you—that‘s my freedom.

And that‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.

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