Guests: Howard Fineman, Jared Bernstein, Hampton Pearson, Julie Mason, Matt Mackowiak, David Campbell, Joan Walsh, Kenneth Walsh
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Time for drama, Obama.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
A jobs program or a campaign message? We learned today that President
Obama will unveil a plan to create jobs and also cut the deficit. He will
either get his way with it, or he will use the plan to make the case that
while he`s interested in results, the Republicans are chiefly concerned
with saying no to everything and defeating him. So it looks like the
president`s getting into the action here.
Also, have you noticed the loudest voices criticizing Rick Perry these
days are not the White House or the Republicans running against him?
They`re W. folks -- you know, as in George W. Bush -- who turned the phrase
"the godfather" on its head. To them, it`s not business, it`s strictly
Plus, perhaps you think Tea Partiers are highly partisan Republicans,
social conservatives who take a dim view of African-Americans and
immigrants and want to see religion play a bigger role in politics. Well,
guess what? Two professors who`ve been studying Tea Party types for years
say you`re dead right.
And what does the president -- what does President Obama have in
common with Bill Clinton, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and even John
Adams? They`ve all been criticized for taking vacations. With millions of
Americans out of work, should the president be heading to Martha`s
Vineyard? Well, that`s an open question tonight.
"Let Me Finish" tonight with a very simple proposition, mine, on how
President Obama can get Congress to pass a jobs bill. I call it "porking
We start with the president`s jobs program. Jared Bernstein, who is,
of course -- well, he`s MSNBC and CNBC contributor right now, but he`s a
former top economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. And Howard
Fineman, of course, is the Huffington Post Media Group editorial director
and an MSNBC political analyst, as well.
Gentlemen, let`s talk about this speech now. Do you have an inside
view, first of all, or are you an outsider now? Do you know what the
president`s going to come out with in September?
JARED BERNSTEIN, FMR. BIDEN ECONOMIC ADVISER, MSNBC/CNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
I have some ideas, mostly from the outside, a little bit from --
MATTHEWS: OK, give us the inside stuff first.
BERNSTEIN: The president is going to continue to focus on what he`s
talked about so far, extending the payroll tax holiday and unemployment
insurance extension. That`s important. It`s already in the system,
however. So if you do that, and you absolutely should, it keeps your foot
on the accelerator. To let that stuff expire, as it`s scheduled to do at
the end of the year, that takes your foot off the accelerator. But to
extend that --
MATTHEWS: OK, so he`s going to keep -- he`s going to get payroll
taxes down, which makes it easier to hire somebody, and he`s going to make
sure the dollars keep going out to the unemployment.
MATTHEWS: What`s he going to do to create jobs?
BERNSTEIN: OK, so then there`s the infrastructure program. And then
-- that`s a bid wide open. The president has talked about this idea of an
BERNSTEIN: It`s not exactly the most resonant thing with people out
there. And I think he may be moving towards some ideas that are a little
bit easier for people to --
MATTHEWS: Who --
BERNSTEIN: -- wrap their heads around.
MATTHEWS: -- in the White House is doing this now, as we speak, and
when the president`s on vacation, is going to be developing a hard plan to
create jobs? Who`s doing that?
BERNSTEIN: The economics team is working on this, as they`ve been, by
the way, never stopped. I mean, this has been for months. So this is --
this is a plan that`s going to be rolled out. It`s going to have the kinds
of components I mentioned. You might see a new hires tax credit. You
might see something for the manufacturing sector --
MATTHEWS: Will the American people be impressed? Will they smell the
construction? Will they imagine the shovels coming and the cranes? Or
will they think more sundry items, unemployment compensation, payroll tax -
- or will they say, More blah, blah, blah? What`s your hunch?
BERNSTEIN: It`s a fair question. I think if the president pivots to
a kind of resonant set of ideas like -- by the way, fix America`s schools
today fast. It`s something I know the White House is talking about. It`s
got some -- a little bit of attention lately in the papers. This is an
idea to fix schools, repair the backlog-0
MATTHEWS: I like the idea, by the way. I mean, it`s labor-intensive.
I read about --
BERNSTEIN: Labor-intensive. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Hire a lot of people to go fix the broken-down schools in
this country --
BERNSTEIN: And it`s in your -- this is not the cloverleaf out on the
highway. This is the school in your neighborhood.
MATTHEWS: Real value this September. Parents will see the schools
BERNSTEIN: You got it.
MATTHEWS: Here`s President Obama today talking about -- saying it`s
politics holding America back from creating jobs and fixing the economy.
Let`s listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only thing holding
us back is our politics. No reason why we shouldn`t put Americans back to
work all across the country rebuilding America. We need roads and bridges
and schools all across the country that could be rebuilt. And all those
folks who got laid off from construction because the economy went south or
the housing bubble burst -- they`re dying for work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. There are the words. Is he going to build? Howard,
do you have confidence, like Jared does? You`re a loyalist largely, right?
You look like (INAUDIBLE) Do you have confidence, as a reporter studying
this, that he`s going to come out with something with box office, it`s
going to be big, and everybody`s going to say, Finally, the president has a
jobs bill! The people on the Hill either vote for it or they won`t.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And
the reason I don`t is that he has a -- he has to do two things. He has to
be both really specific and vivid about the projects, but also give people
a sense that he`s got a theory about this whole thing -- how this whole
thing is going to work because when he gives that speech in September, it`s
going to be one speech about two different things. One is going to be
about job creation. The other`s going to be about the whole big deficit
plan. He`s got to be able to show that those are not in conflict, that
somehow, he`s got the whole thing figured out.
And on the specific front, if he were to say 500 projects in 500 days,
here are the 500 projects, this will show you the tangible nature of what
we are doing, pick 150 bridges, 150 roads, 150 schools. Here are the 500 -
- 500 in 500 days --
MATTHEWS: Will he do it?
FINEMAN: I don`t know. I don`t know what Gene Sperling`s cooking up
over there. He`s the guy who goes back to the Clinton administration who`s
a master at selling and devising economically saleable programs. Gene
Sperling is not an economist, but he`s a smart salesman of economic policy,
I think Jared would agree.
FINEMAN: If he can come up with something specific, fine. That`s one
half. The other half is the president has to say, Look, we`re in a period
of austerity. We can`t water the desert here. We can`t spray water all
over the place. We`ve got to drop one drop of water on each seed and be
smart about how we`re spending.
He`s got to convince the people that we`re smart about it because the
stimulus package has a bad rap, OK? It seemed like it was hasty, it was
unfocused. Some of the criticism is unfair, but it`s baked in the cake
now. The American people think that was a waste of money, that was
watering the desert.
MATTHEWS: Well said.
FINEMAN: And we can`t afford to water the desert anymore.
MATTHEWS: I`ve got to tell you, I agree with Howard. I think the
word "stimulus" is a bad word.
MATTHEWS: "Infrastructure" doesn`t work for me, either. And I think
-- well, do you think -- pick up "The New York Times," the "USA Today,"
your local paper the day after the president speaks in September. Will
there be a big chart top of the fold that says 500,000 jobs to be in
construction of fixing up schools, 200,000 jobs in highways? Will there --
will there be something we can actually see it, and then the Republicans
will have to say, Well, we have to take a look at it. They can`t dismiss
it. They got to --
BERNSTEIN: I completely --
MATTHEWS: Will it happen?
BERNSTEIN: I completely agree with Howard and --
MATTHEWS: Well, no, wait. Do you think that will be the case --
BERNSTEIN: Yes, I do.
BERNSTEIN: But you won`t see 500. You might see 3. And 3 is exactly
what we need. If it`s schools --
MATTHEWS: Three hundred schools?
BERNSTEIN: No, if it`s, We`re going to do schools, we`re going to do
a hiring tax credit, and we`re going to do a payroll tax cut, I think
that`s a nice, tight three-part package. You`re right, if you talk about
infrastructure, you`re toast. If you talk about a massive stimulus with
100 moving parts, you`re toast. I say a tight project that -- that --
MATTHEWS: Let him speak for himself.
FINEMAN: I say -- and this is -- I get this from the master here --
take a bunch the projects in the states of all the Republicans and say,
We`re going to fix your school, your road, your bridge. It`s 500. Now,
we`re separately going to deal with the deficit. We`re not going go crazy
on this because this is going to be dropping the water on each seed kind of
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at --
FINEMAN: -- and challenge them to oppose projects in their own
MATTHEWS: Here is why I think the president has to be drama Obama,
not no-drama Obama. A new brutal number for President Obama just out as we
speak, Gallup, the best poll out there -- 26 percent approve the
president`s handling of the economy, 71 percent disapprove.
So this stuff on the road he`s been doing in this bus tour, what he`s
been saying isn`t working, talking about what you talked about, payroll tax
reduction, unemployment extension -- insurance -- that isn`t --
MATTHEWS: What you`re saying isn`t working!
BERNSTEIN: No, no, Chris, I -- look --
MATTHEWS: Well, it isn`t! I`m looking at the numbers!
BERNSTEIN: First of all, that`s an outlier, I`ll bet. You will see.
MATTHEWS: Twenty-six percent. Is it off by 2?
BERNSTEIN: That`s -- no, I suspect that`s -- that`s an outlier. But
we`ll see. I mean, that is a very bad number. But give him a chance. He
just made a mistake of wasting two months completely off-topic with the
debt ceiling and the debt.
BERNSTEIN: He is now pivoting and he`s pivoting hard. I would argue
that that number`s going to go up in a matter of weeks. The question is,
does it go up to 35 or does it go up to 45? And that we`ll have to see.
But he`s -- he`s got some fight back on him.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Congress here. He spoke today about needing to
work with Congress -- of course, the Congress is split between Republicans
and Democrats -- to create jobs. And that requires a working relationship,
as in previous administrations, not the partisanship happening today. This
is the way he`s still talking about compromise. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There are some things we can help on, but frankly, we could do
a lot more if we got Congress`s cooperation. And every proposal that I
talked about previous, those are proposals that, historically, have had
support from Republicans and Democrats. Dwight Eisenhower built the
interstate highway system. Last time I checked, he was a very popular
Republican. This is what I mean about politics getting in the way
sometimes. You know, you can`t bring an attitude that says, I`d rather see
my opponent lose than America win.
OBAMA: You can`t have that attitude.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know.
FINEMAN: Well, here`s my view of it. I think that he`s got to stop -
- I know he wants to be Harry Truman here and run against the do-nothing
Congress, but he needs to have a specific, vivid, popular plan to complain
that they`re not doing anything about.
MATTHEWS: Right. I`m with you.
FINEMAN: To just have an abstract sort of philosophical view about
the uncooperative Coast Guard doesn`t cut it. You got to have something
specific and say, We dare you to stop it. We dare you to stop it.
BERNSTEIN: I think that`s --
FINEMAN: And I can -- And he could be sharper on Ike. You know, you
made the point, Chris, while we were listening to that, Dwight Eisenhower
couldn`t exist in the current Republican Party, where Rick Perry is saying,
Our job -- my job, if I`m president, is to reduce the federal government to
insignificance. He couldn`t get from Lubbock to Dallas, you know, without
the federal government! He couldn`t!
MATTHEWS: Yes, by the way --
FINEMAN: Somebody`s got to tell him there`s an interstate highway
MATTHEWS: By the way, Eisenhower`s the one who brought federal troops
into Little Rock --
MATTHEWS: Do you think Rick Perry would be for that? You think he`d
be cheering for Ike today if he brought the troops in to desegregate the
schools in Little Rock?
BERNSTEIN: I think --
MATTHEWS: I don`t think so!
BERNSTEIN: I think Reagan would get kicked out of the party today.
Reagan put revenues on the table when they did deficit reduction.
MATTHEWS: They`d be seceding if Eisenhower were president!
BERNSTEIN: Look, I totally agree with Howard on this point about
drawing the lines and having the fight, but that`s what I heard him doing
in that clip. He may not be as dramatic as you like it, you know, but
that`s -- that`s who he is.
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s he talking about deals making? He`s running
against a guy who`s probably going to be the front-runner soon, who`s
talking about secession from the union! And he`s talking about putting a
deal together with these guys? They don`t want a deal, they want him gone!
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. That`s why he --
MATTHEWS: They want him gone!
BERNSTEIN: And I hear him bringing that --
MATTHEWS: So Howard`s right. I want to see a construction -- a big
thing of jobs. The $2 million -- 2 million jobs program, fixing schools,
fixing highways, and put it in the districts and show all the schools in
the districts of Boehner and Cantor down in Richmond and all those people
in the donut down there. Show the schools that are going to hell. Show
the railroads going to hell. We don`t even have railroads anymore! And
just say, These guys are the "No men."
FINEMAN: What`s happening is that the Republicans --
FINEMAN: What`s happening is that the Republicans are willing to
sacrifice their own ratings in Congress to pull the president down.
FINEMAN: Which is --
FINEMAN: That`s what they`ve done.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know how -- I think he`s -- I think he`s got to get
connected with old-style politics. I can`t believe I`m talking like this,
but I am.
MATTHEWS: Howard`s always right. Jared Bernstein, Howard Fineman --
FINEMAN: Twice a day.
MATTHEWS: -- of course, always right.
Coming up: Rick Perry`s not getting any love from a major GOP force,
the Bushes. I`m talking about the W. people out there. It seems to be
more personal than business, the opposite of Hyman Roth (ph) in "The
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: With the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks
weeks away, President Obama in an interview with CNN expressed his concern
about an attack on U.S. soil now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of
a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there. The risk
that we`re especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist,
somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres
of the sort that we saw in Norway recently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Let`s hope that doesn`t happen.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Governor Rick Perry was
campaigning in New Hampshire today, talking about jobs, but it was
controversial comments he made earlier in the week about Ben Bernanke, the
head of the Fed, that continued to dog him there, and not just with
Democrats. Perry said the Fed chairman could be "treasonous" if he decided
to print more money before the election.
Well, today the governor joked about the reaction. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got in trouble
talking about the Federal Reserve yesterday.
PERRY: I got -- I got -- I got lectured about that yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, he made light of it, but many Republican
critics are taking his remarks quite seriously, especially former George W.
Bush advisers. Here`s Karl Rove going after the governor on Fox yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FMR. PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH SR. ADVISER: You don`t accuse
the chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country, of
being guilty of treason, and suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in
Texas. You know, that`s not, again, a presidential statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Other Bush aides, including deputy press secretary
Tony Fratto and former speech-writing deputy assistant Frank Wenner (ph),
also criticized Perry`s remarks. Why are the Bush folks lining up and
talking up against their fellow Texan? Is it personal, or does it say
something about the Republican Party`s fear -- and it could be quite
legitimate, as we all know -- of going too far right?
We`re joined right now by Politico`s Julie Mason -- thank you, Julie -
- and GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. Thank you. He served as press
secretary, Mark did, to Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who, of course,
ran against Perry unsuccessfully for governor last year. He did not work
on that campaign, however. Mark, thank you. I want -- Matt, rather.
I want to start with Julie and this whole thing about -- what do you
make of this? Is this a personal war, a sort of an intramural tete-a-tete
or whatever, a kerfuffle between the Bushies, they don`t like Perry, or are
they really worried? Are Rove and those people worried that Perry may just
sink them in a year they think they can win?
JULIE MASON, POLITICO.COM: Well, they really don`t like Perry, and it
goes all the way back to Texas in `98 and the governors` campaign then.
Rove actually convinced Perry to switch parties and join the Republicans
way back in the day, but now they don`t like him. The Bushies never really
liked Perry. They consider him a bit of a rube, a bit of a country cousin.
And Perry, on his part, considers Bush to be sort of, you know, more of the
country club Republican, not really heir to the true Republican Party,
which Perry --
MATTHEWS: Maybe they`re both right.
MASON: -- seems to be more conservative -- yes, maybe they`re both
right. But it does -- it does sort of point up the whole -- this whole
fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Which side is going
to win? Is it going to be more the Perry partisan, the hard partisan,
Christian right, or is it going to be more the Bush side, you know, out of
MATTHEWS: Yes, what is it -- what is this soddy-buster (ph) part to
Rick Perry? We`re trying to figure him out. I compared him to Bull Connor
with a smile the other day. Maybe that was too far. But I`m still
learning about this guy.
He didn`t like the basis of the Civil Rights Act of `64. He didn`t
like the public accommodations being based on the interstate commerce
clause. He questions -- he says we shouldn`t have the voting rights
anymore. He says we should have -- he talked about secession. He talks
about states` rights.
He`s got all the idiom, Matt, of the guys who hated Civil Rights. So
I am suspicious. Maybe I should take back the Bull Connor, but not yet
because there`s something about the guy that keeps playing to the soddy-
buster attitude that doesn`t like Civil Rights. I know the words. Matt?
MATT MACKOWIAK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Chris, I don`t -- I
don`t really think -- yes, sir. I don`t really think that`s fair, I`ll be
honest with you. I mean, look, this -- this election`s going to be about
the economy. It`s going to be --
MATTHEWS: What`s not fell? Tell me what`s not fair?
MACKOWIAK: Well, I just think to harp on those specific things misses
the 98 percent of what Governor Perry`s done as governor of Texas --
MATTHEWS: OK, so you think it`s wrong to say -- you`re saying it`s
wrong to say he`s an enemy of the Voting Rights Act because he wants to get
rid of it. He doesn`t like the Civil Rights Act because he doesn`t like
its constitutional foundation. He doesn`t really believe in states`
rights. He really didn`t really even believe in secession. So I`m wrong
to listen to his words, you`re saying.
MACKOWIAK: Chris, what I`m saying is, is that you`re -- you`re
getting off on some bunny trails here that aren`t necessarily what this
election is going to be about.
MATTHEWS: Well, not what he wants it to be about.
MACKOWIAK: Well, what his record is, Chris.
Look, it`s about job creation. You know, Texas has created more jobs
since the recovery began than the other 49 states combined. That`s a very
MACKOWIAK: That`s a very compelling argument to make next fall
against President Obama when you look at where he is on the economy.
You rightly noted the Gallup numbers, 26 percent approval on the
MACKOWIAK: Look, you`re going to -- there are definitely some things
out there that people are going to latch on to. Anyone who has been
governor of the second largest state for 10 years is going to have some
things that you could go after. But, fundamentally, this election is about
the economy. It`s about President Obama`s --
MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s an argument. That`s a political argument.
I`m going into -- I`m trying to figure out who this guy is.
MATTHEWS: Why does he --
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Julie.
Why does he use these terms like, "I don`t like the Voting Rights Act,
I want to get rid of it, it`s out of date, I don`t like the constitutional
basis for the Civil Rights Act, I`m talking up secessionism, I`m a states`
Why does he talk like that? I just want to know why he uses those
words over and over.
MASON: He believes in that, Chris.
And you raise some really interesting points, because here`s the
thing. Rick Perry, unlike Mitt Romney and some of these other candidates,
hasn`t been vetted nationally. So these are questions he`s going to have
to answer if he`s going to be taken seriously as a candidate.
He`s only been in Texas. He has not been on the national stage. And
so now we`re going to hear what he thinks about these things. We`re going
to see it. We`re going to see him respond to it. And it will be a
fascinating process, because he hasn`t been through that wringer of the
national vetting to run for president.
MATTHEWS: All you have got to do is look at Google, Matt.
MATTHEWS: And I`m -- I will go back to you.
You`re saying he wants to focus on things he didn`t focus on before or
he didn`t talk about before.
MACKOWIAK: No, Chris, what I would say is, look, he spends most of
his time worried about job creation as governor of the state of Texas. He
He had a very successful session this last session, passed pro-life
legislation, passed loser-pays tort reform, closed I think one of the
largest budget deficits without raising taxes in state history. And,
meanwhile, as I said before, Texas` economic record is very strong.
Look, you ask any other governor, they would trade places with where
Texas is in a heartbeat, because Texas is creating jobs, because our
economy is going, because we have no state income tax.
MACKOWIAK: Texas is an extremely interesting place to be right now.
MASON: Well, Matt, I -- Matt, I think there`s some question whether
Rick Perry can realistically take credit for all of that.
MASON: I mean --
MASON: Go ahead.
MACKOWIAK: Well, would he take blame if the -- would he take blame if
the unemployment rate was high? Of course he would. So, look --
MASON: Yes, but that`s not the standard, Matt. That`s not the test.
His policies didn`t laid to that great -- that great job development in
Texas, but he`s going to try to run on that. But questions are going to be
raised, and it`s going to be proven whether or not he can really take
credit for that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at President Obama here answering a
question today on CNN -- actually, it was yesterday -- about Rick Perry.
He was asked if the governor was being disrespectful -- that was the word -
- to the commander in chief for suggesting that men and women in the
military would prefer a president who also served in the armed forces
before serving as president.
Here`s what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER"`)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, Mr. Perry
just got into the presidential race. And I think that everybody who runs
for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they
start realizing that this isn`t like running for governor or running for
senator or running for Congress, and you`ve got to be a little more careful
about what you say.
But I will cut him some slack. He`s only been at it for a few days
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, for that nice-guy comment, here comes the response.
Governor Perry took a swipe at the president today. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yesterday, the
president said I needed to watch what I say.
PERRY: I just want to respond back, if I may.
Mr. President, actions speak louder than words. My actions as
governor are helping create jobs in this country. The president`s actions
are killing jobs in this country. It`s time to get America working again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think he meant, Matt, when he said the other
day, the governor, that he wanted to have the military proud of who their
commander in chief was? What did -- what did that mean exactly?
MACKOWIAK: Well, I would say this. Governor Perry is the only
candidate in the race who has military experience. He`s a veteran. So I
think -- I --
MATTHEWS: Yes, but why -- what you do mean not proud? Are they not
proud of being -- serving under the commander in chief they have now? What
is the lack of pride there? I didn`t know there was a lack of pride in
serving under President Obama. What`s he talking about?
MACKOWIAK: Look, I think that President Obama has taken on some of
the national security policies of the President Bush administration. It`s
very different rhetoric from when he ran for office, talking about closing
Gitmo, pulling out.
He stayed -- he stayed in Iraq. He surged into Afghanistan. Those
policies were changes.
MATTHEWS: He caught bin Laden.
MACKOWIAK: So, look -- and, yes, yes, the Navy SEALs caught bin
Laden, that`s right, under President Obama`s leadership.
MATTHEWS: So, why -- they are not proud of their commander?
MACKOWIAK: I think they`re proud we caught bin Laden.
Again, Chris, this election is not going to be on national security
and foreign policy. It`s going to be all about the economy.
MATTHEWS: Well, why do they -- why do you keep saying it`s not about
what the candidate keeps saying it`s about? Why did he say he wants to be
a commander in chief that the serving men and women in the military would
be proud of?
That is a direct personal shot at the nature of this president, who he
is as a person. It doesn`t even have to do with his lack of a military
record. It has to do with lack of something he`s getting at? Is this guy
a birther? What is he?
MACKOWIAK: No. No.
MATTHEWS: What is -- what is Rick Perry getting at here?
MASON: It`s such throwback politics, isn`t it, Chris? It seems like
he`s raising an sure that doesn`t even exist.
MATTHEWS: Matt, explain.
MACKOWIAK: I`m being put on the spot to look into someone else`s mind
and explain what they were thinking. That`s an interesting exercise.
MACKOWIAK: You know, I would just say that -- that, look, as I said
before, I know you want to take things he said, one sentence here and
there, and use it against him.
I think, ultimately, though, Chris, he`s going to be the nominee.
MATTHEWS: No, I want to try to understand what he`s talking about.
And I know what a dog whistle sounds like.
MACKOWIAK: OK. Well, let`s talk about the -- let`s talk about the
nomination process, because this is important.
I think that our primary electoral want three things. They want a
conservative. They want an executive. And they want someone that will go
directly at President Obama directly on his leadership. Bachmann has one
of those. She`s a conservative. Romney has one of those as an executive.
Perry has all three of those characteristics.
MACKOWIAK: And so I think that`s why you`re seeing him -- seeing him
number one in the Rasmussen poll nationally. He`s number two in New
MACKOWIAK: He`s going to be very strong in Iowa.
So, look, he is -- he`s definitely on the rise right now. And I
think, if you`re Mitt Romney, you have to be worried. If you`re Michele
Bachmann, you have to be worried. And if you`re President Obama, you have
to be worried right now about Rick Perry.
Well, apparently you agree with him.
Anyway, Julie, last thought. Has this guy got problems with what he
stands for? Is he going to just retreat from everything he said before?
MASON: No, I think he`s going to stand by everything he has said.
One of the really interesting things about Rick Perry, he`s so
charismatic, he`s so -- he`s such a fascinating character to watch. He
really does -- he is great at retail politics. And these things he has
said in the past, they could come back to haunt him, but I don`t see him
retreating from any of it. He is going to own it.
Does he have any black support?
MASON: No, I don`t think so, not much.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Matt. Matt Mackowiak, thanks for joining
MACKOWIAK: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Julie Mason.
Up next, it looks like one will be getting -- well, one person is
going to be forgetting Mitt Romney`s now infamous now catchphrase,
corporations are people, too. Find out who is taking that one on and
taking it the bank. That`s in the "Sideshow" tonight. What a comment.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
First up, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew quite a
bit of backlash in Iowa last week when an audience member asked a question
about cuts in Social Security. Well, Romney veered off into a defense of
corporations. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Corporations are people, my
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they are not.
ROMNEY: We can raises taxes on -- of course they are. Everything
corporations earn ultimately goes to people.
ROMNEY: Where do you think it goes?
ROMNEY: OK. Human beings, my friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as expected, equating massive corporations with human
beings didn`t sit well with folks on actually both sides of the political
However, it`s the Democratic National Committee who is taking the
opportunity to capitalize on that gaffe, if you will. The DNC is now
selling T-shirts boasting the phrase "Some of my best friends are
corporations." It`s got a sketch, by the way, of a candidate just above
the phrase he coined.
Anyway, to avoid any possible confusion, the man on that T-shirt wears
a pin that says Mitt. Not hiding from that one.
Next up: As Rick Perry launches full speed into campaign mode, it`s
hard to forget his vocal stance as part of the Tea Party movement that his
home state of Texas could decide to secede from the union at any point in
Well, now fellow Texan and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert -- I
think he`s a birther -- has made an attempt to defend Perry`s threat of
secession. In an interview yesterday, Gohmert explained -- quote -- "I
think those comments were made tongue-in-cheek. I have talked to Rick. I
have known him since Texas A&M. And I know he has no intention of ever
seeing Texas secede." Well, now.
"Well, that may play well in some sectors. I think the Civil War
pretty well decided whether a state can secede or not. That`s Gohmert
But Perry referenced secession more than once in public back in 2009,
using the Civil War as an example of a state`s right to sever ties with the
union, something he may have to answer to as the campaign heats up.
Interesting territory here, this guy.
Up next: Who are exactly the rank-and-file members of the Tea Party?
Wait until you find out. Are they politically nonpartisan, the way they
claim to be? And what exactly do they have in common? Wait until you
catch this. We have got the answers coming up next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
It was an up-and-down day for the Dow, starting higher amid positive
retail earnings reports, but a sell-off erased most of the gain, the blue-
chip gaining just four points to close at 11410, the S&P 500 gaining just a
point to finish at 1193. The Nasdaq, however, lost 12 points to close at
Target shares closed 2 percent higher, thanks to better-than-expected
earnings, the retailer reporting stronger sales near the end of the
quarter. Core prices at the wholesale level last month rose the most in
six months. Rising prices for tobacco, pharmaceuticals and pickup trucks
contributed to the increase. And the drought in Texas is taking a huge
economic toll. State agriculture officials say Texas crop and livestock
losses have surpassed a record $5 billion, and they could get even worse.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
So who really are the members, the members, not the leaders, the
members of the Tea Party out there? Well, two college professors say they
have the answer, and it`s often not who they say there are.
An excerpt from their "New York Times" piece ran today -- quote --
"Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party`s origin story. Early on, Tea
Partiers were often described as nonpartisan, political neophytes.
Actually, the Tea Party supporters today are and were highly partisan
Republicans long before the Tea Party was born."
Well, Republicans really are Tea Party people and the other way
Joan Walsh is editor at large at Salon, and David Campbell is
political science professor at the Great Notre Dame, who conducted the
study. The results will be published in an upcoming paperback edition of
his book "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us."
So, you`re on, David. Thank you. Nice piece today in "The New York
Times." It taught me a lot.
Your study -- and, Joan, I want you to jump in here -- tells us that -
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Sure.
MATTHEWS: -- that this is really just a pretext -- a pretense, that
the Tea Partiers really are conservative Republicans, churchy, not
particularly fond of minorities, et cetera.
DAVID CAMPBELL, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME:
And the way we did this study is we are able to look at what people
were like and what they told us back in 2006, because we have been running
an ongoing study where we started with 3,000 Americans five years ago. We
returned to do one interview again in 2007, and now just another interview
in the last few months, which can enable us to predict, back in 2006, who
became a Tea Party supporters in 2011.
And it`s exactly as you described. These are highly partisan
Republicans. They`re not comfortable with minorities, and they`re very
comfortable with the mixture of research and politics.
MATTHEWS: And what about their attitudes ethnically, about illegal
immigration, immigration generally, about African-Americans? You say they
have a negative view?
CAMPBELL: That`s right. On both of those matters, immigration and
African-Americans, or at least their feelings toward African-Americans, we
find that the more negative you are toward immigrants or the cooler you are
toward African-Americans, the more likely you are to be a Tea Party
MATTHEWS: Wow. Wow.
Does this shock you, Joan?
WALSH: Not a bit, Chris, although it`s great research, it`s great to
have it, and David did a great job. I can`t wait to read the book, the
additions to the book.
But, you know, this is what we have been saying from the beginning.
And it`s really kind of a failure of the media. This is the Republican
base dressed up in funny -- excuse me -- in funny costumes. And we -- we
kind of called that at the beginning.
The thing that was added in that -- that probably -- I wish that
David`s research could quantify is the role of right-wing media, because I
went to the very first Tea Party here in San Francisco -- we actually had
one -- and talked to people. It was run by our local right-wing radio
station, the one that broadcasts Rush, the one that broadcasts Michael
So that`s the thing that`s kind of made it more theatrical --
WALSH: -- made it take over, but it`s not anything different than what
we have been seeing for the last 50 years in American politics.
MATTHEWS: That`s the one with the four letters in it, right?
Anyway, an excerpt on the Tea Party traits in your piece says -- quote
-- "So what do Tea Partiers have in common? Well, they are overwhelmingly
white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard
for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they
How do you -- how did you discern that? People never seem to admit
racial prejudice. How did you get at that in your study, David?
CAMPBELL: Well, on the question about immigrants, we just simply
asked them, do you think we should have more immigration, less immigration,
or should it stay about the same?
And if you were a person who said, well, I think we should have fewer
immigrants in the country -- you were much more likely to have turned out
to be a Tea Party supporter.
On the question of how it is that people perceive African-Americans --
we use a method that asks people to rate how they feel, are they warm or
cold toward, in this case, African-Americans, but we also asked about lots
of other groups and people as well. And what we find is people seem to
answer that question in a sensible way, so people that we would expect to
be warmer toward a particular group, higher on that scale. And if you
expect it to be cooler, that`s what we find.
And Tea Party supporters are markedly cooler toward after African-
Americans. That is their less favorable toward them than members of the
general public. And I should mention -- also in comparison to other
Republicans. Remember that all of these things we`re claiming and finding
are in comparison, not just to the general population, but to Republicans
MATTHEWS: Joan, your thoughts on that -- on the racial piece here.
WALSH: Well, it`s not terribly surprising either. It`s not
necessarily only about having a black president, Chris, although, you know,
we have seen enough horrible instances of racism to know that that matters.
But it`s also people who were very unsettled by the Civil Rights Act, by
the Voting Rights Act, by everything that was done under John Kennedy and
Lyndon Johnson, that have been -- there`s been a backlash for a long time,
and who have been very skeptical of the growing diversity and, you know,
wonderful nature of our country; that we just somehow can`t assimilate and
welcome and love these last couple groups of people.
It`s just that -- it`s too big a challenge for them.
MATTHEWS: Well, the faith matters study that you put together found
that among Tea Party supporters, David, 76 percent said our laws and
policies would be better if more elected officials were deeply religious,
32 percent believes it`s perfectly proper, in fact, for religious leaders
to try and persuade people how to vote; 41 percent believe that religion
should be included in public debates over social and political in issues.
So, it isn`t a secular "let`s just cut the size of government and cut
taxes" party, is it? The Tea Party?
CAMPBELL: No. No. In fact, that`s actually what I think is most
striking about the data that we have analyzed is while Tea Partiers are
concerned about the size of government and they do hold other, you know,
positions you would expect conservatives and conservative Republicans to
hold, where they really stand out is on this question of how much interplay
do we have between God and government.
And this is a group far more comfortable mixing religion and politics
and having God in government than we find among, again, the general
population, even when compared to other Republicans. And, you know, that`s
why you would expect a Rick Perry or a Michele Bachmann to have traction
within this group. They are the sort of candidates that speak to those
sorts of concern.
MATTHEWS: Joan, it just sounds like the conservative forces, actually
the hard right forces we`ve been dealing with for years in this country,
largely Christian conservative. They like -- they don`t like abortion.
They want to outlaw abortion. Punish people to get an abortion. They want
to fight same-sex. The people that don`t like immigration much at all,
they don`t really like black opportunity or black aspirations. They`re
just basically hard righters.
And now, they`re calling themselves something new. It sounds like
what this report says.
MATTHEWS: They have a new name. They`ve rebranded.
WALSH: They have a new -- they have a new name. But you know what?
They go back even farther than that, Chris. You know, we have this idea
that the founders created this country where we were going to separate
church and state.
But a lot of the Founders from the very beginning wanted religion in
politics and were always judging. There`s a strong Protestant evangelical
culture in this country that took off after Catholics in the 19th century.
MATTHEWS: I know.
WALSH: You know, it`s not like that hasn`t been present where there`s
a notion that where you have to be a white Protestant to really embody the
values of America.
Now, most people don`t agree with that. The best news we have is that
to know the Tea Party is not to love the Tea Party. The more we know about
them, the more Americans` unfavorable ratings climb. People don`t approve
of what they`re bringing to politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, I got to be careful here. I think I overstated by
saying that this guy, Rick Perry, is Bull Connor with a smile. But I`ll
tell you -- and I`ll take that back. I really think I got to be careful
learning this guy.
But you know and I want to get back to David. You`re the student --
when a guy keeps saying he`s got problems with voting rights, when he uses
terms like secession all the time, went over, when he talks about there`s
something wrong with the constitutional basis for the Civil Rights Act,
when he talks about states` rights -- when he uses all the code of those
old bad guys in the South, is it wrong to suspect he might have those
views? David Campbell?
CAMPBELL: Well, our data suggests that whatever Governor Perry`s
actual views are, those are phrases and issues that are going to resonate
with the Tea Party faithful as we noted there, are generally pretty
suspicious of minorities.
But you know what`s even more interesting about Governor Perry is the
fact that he`s so open and overt with his use of religion on the campaign
trail, and that`s going to resonate even more with the Tea Party faithful.
WALSH: And, right, excluding Catholics and Jews largely from his big
prayer rally. I mean, it really is a particular strain of religion, not
MATTHEWS: I agree. It`s great reporting. I love the work you`re
I`m so proud of Notre Dame. Once again your university has done
something great for the country. Thank you so much, David Campbell. I
mean it. I mean it.
CAMPBELL: Thank you for having me.
MATTHEWS: I always love Notre Dame. Thank you.
Anyway, Joan Walsh -- we all root for you guys in many, many ways.
Thank you, Joan Walsh, for joining us. I`m a subway alumnus.
Anyway, coming up, with the economy in shambles, is there now -- is it
now a good time for President Obama to take his annual vacation? This is
going to be lightweight discussions. But, boy, it seems to be bothering
people, this vacation.
MATTHEWS: Democrats in Wisconsin have won a pair of recall challenges
last night. Two incumbent Democratic state senators defeated Republican
challengers to hold on to their seats. Last week, of course, six
Republicans were the subject of a recall, four of the six won. This was
the last round of the series of recall election in Wisconsin -- after which
Republicans remained in control. They won the final fight -- on the
numbers, Wisconsin state Senate, they still control it.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Beginning tomorrow, President Obama is taking off for 10 days for a
vacation up in Martha`s Vineyard, in Massachusetts. But he is being
criticized, as often, for even considering going away during a time in
which the economy is so fragile, unemployment is so high and the credit
rating of the country just been downgraded for the first time in history.
So, will this vacation end up hurting the president in the end or is
it a temporary kerfuffle?
Joining me now is Ken Walsh of "U.S. News and World Report" for the
Let`s go right now. Let`s take a look right now.
Here is the president talking about it where it gives a bad
impression. This is out in Decorah, Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people have been
saying, well, Mr. President, why don`t you call Congress back for a special
session. And what I`ve said is the last thing that people need for
confidence right now is to watch folks on Capitol Hill arguing all over
again. And, hopefully, when they come back in September, they`re going to
have a wakeup call that says, we need to move the country forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, Ken Walsh, you decided to work this issue. It is so
tricky. I have to say in defense of this town, it`s empty. If he were
working this week, he`d be the only one working in Washington.
KENNETH WALSH, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: That`s true. Well, you
know, there`s two points. One is, taking a vacation itself and the second
is where he`s going.
Having written a book about this, I`m very sympathetic the president
is going on vacation. Everybody needs a break. And I have always -- every
summer, I do -- I talk about this and write columns and stuff about it.
This time, though, I do think it`s different because with the economic
hardship, Obama talking about shared sacrifice --
WALSH: -- Martha`s Vineyard does not appear to me, the place to go.
I mean, the home of -- the exclusive people vacation there, sort of hanging
around with elites. Even if he sort of disguises or camouflages playing
golf and so on doesn`t allow photos --
MATTHEWS: No, you know, he can`t get away with that.
WALSH: He can`t get away with that anymore.
MATTHEWS: They used to. Jack Kennedy used to be able to play golf
and nobody got a picture of him, but this president --
WALSH: Right, not anymore. So, I think, he -- I suspect that they`re
going to try to limit that sort of thing but he may have some events he`s
going to do up there.
But the other interesting thing about --
MATTHEWS: By the way, Bill Clinton has a good reputation these days,
used to do this all the time. And he`d go up there and he`d always have
that first day picture of him in the golf cart with Vernon Jordan, the big
Washington lawyer, and they always had this sort of snapshot.
Then he was left alone or you`d see him maybe going into a store to
buy a book or something.
WALSH: Right. Well, then he loved socializing. He loved to hang
around with the people he had known at a distance all his life, celebrities
-- all the people, the movies he watched them in and that sort of thing.
WALSH: Obama doesn`t seem to be into that world. But these summer
vacations have become political events now because people, every president
-- no matter if it`s Democratic or Republican -- always gets hammered for
going away on vacation.
And it goes way, way back. Eisenhower was criticized with the DNC
chairman, the Democratic National Committee chairman, for being a part-time
president because he went to Gettysburg, his farm there, so often -- it
goes on and on.
But there`s also an interesting history -- when the presidents do get
away, there is a star-crossed nation to it because look at all the
presidents who had problems during August vacations, Hurricane Katrina.
MATTHEWS: Remember that great memo from Condi Rice, al Qaeda to
attack within the United States.
MATTHEWS: They`re talking about getting it from Western Union.
Let`s talk about a few presidents who had their vacations interrupted.
Here is that memorable photo of President George W. Bush flying over New
Orleans, looking down with the aftermath of Katrina. Bush was forced to
cut his vacation short to return to Washington after the hurricane hit
Louisiana in August of 2005.
Now, here`s President Clinton on vacation in Martha`s Vineyard, there
you are, back in `94. Clinton actually had to delay his trip to the
vineyard in `94 to monitor the Senate`s work on his health care bill which
eventually failed, of course.
Here`s a photo of former President George Herbert Walker Bush fishing
up in Kennebunkport, Maine. The former president actually cancelled the
trip to Kennebunkport in `92 to monitor a standoff over nuclear inspections
So, this has been going on and on. I remember Clinton one summer
because of Mark Penn or one of his advisors said, "Go west, young man.
Don`t go Martha`s Vineyard." And he went on and did a river trip in
WALSH: Dick Morris. He went to the Tetons and --
MATTHEWS: I heard that helped him.
WALSH: It helped him. But he never went back after he was re-
elected. He went to Martha`s Vineyard.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re doing the Snake River. We`re going to do some
WALSH: Bill was not an outdoor man. So, he didn`t have a great time
out there. But after the election, back to Martha`s Vineyard.
MATTHEWS: OK, will we be talking about this in a month?
WALSH: Will we? Probably not. There`s going to be a lot of other
things to talk about.
MATTHEWS: OK, OK. But, anyway, thank you so much, Ken Walsh. What a
great guy for taking a tough one.
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with my idea of how the president can
get Congress to pass a jobs bill. Wait until you hear it. It`s really
gross. But I think would work. And that`s what matters. It would put
people to work.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with a simple proposition. It`s
how President Obama can get Congress to pass a jobs bill.
Call it, porking out. Got it? I bet you do already.
All he has to do is combine the projects that all of the members of
Congress have asked for in their districts. All of the dams they want
fixed. The road projects, the sewer and water systems they want funded.
Now, take all those projects, skip the bad apples, the wasteful stuff,
and put them all together in one big fat bill -- a wedding of pork projects
and send it up to Capitol Hill.
Now, alert every media outlet, every blogger about what`s at stake and
each little hamlet in the country, all those projects, pet projects in some
cases, that will now finally get done -- and put local folk on the job,
getting a payroll, getting it done.
OK, I`m calling it porking out because that`s, of course, what it is.
It`s doing jobs that people at the local level want done.
But you know what? At least it`s something. It`s putting people to
work doing jobs that people -- dare I say the word "voters" -- want done.
And we`ll see being done. Voters will see people being put to work who
were previously unemployed. How`s that for an improvement reality?
It would be hard for Congress to vote against it because these are the
very project that they have been pushing for them themselves. Drafting
bills to get funded, talking it up with the newsletters, local press.
So, why not, Mr. President, why not pork out? Put a jobs bill out
there -- a bill out there that they are already voting for. They`ve
already voting for, been on record for supporting. Make them an offer they
can`t refuse -- or can`t without looking even more politically constipated
than they already do. That`s hardball.
And that`s HARDBALL for now, too. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Al Sharpton.
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