Guests: Howard Fineman, Tyler Mathisen, John Heilemann, Dana Milbank, Dee Dee Myers, Jennifer Donahue, Mark McKinnon, Doug Brinkley
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Showdown.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Do something, Congress! That was President
Obama`s message to Republicans today, Act on my jobs bill, or I`m going to
go Harry Truman on you and campaign against that do-nothing Congress. He
even threatened to make Republicans vote on the bill piece by piece,
forcing them to vote no on universally popular proposals. What the
president did today is good politics. Could it also be good policy?
Plus, those Wall Street protests. Can President Obama harness that
energy and enthusiasm in the streets and get out in front of that parade?
That may be the way for him to grab back that mantle of hope and change for
himself. Will he?
Also, baseball doesn`t happen to be the only playoffs going on in
town. In the Republican Party, the Eastern conference is set right now.
Mitt Romney`s the clear winner. But the Western conference, the Tea Party
crowd, is still open. Perry`s still alive, Cain is coming on strong, and
someone is going to want Michele Bachmann`s supporters when she finally
flames out. Who`s going to be the anti-Romney?
And the legacy of Steve Jobs is another reminder that in America, you
don`t have to go to the right schools -- Jobs didn`t -- or have a rich
daddy. The guy in the garage can become a billionaire. My question
tonight -- Is that guy in the garage still around?
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with tax cuts and President Obama. He`s
not the first Democratic president to have business oppose tax cuts, even
when it`s against their own business interests.
We start with President Obama daring Republicans to vote against his
jobs bill, which he says will put unemployed construction workers back to
work to build bridges and roads all across America. Howard Fineman`s an
MSNBC political analyst and The Huffington Post Media Group editorial
director. And John Heilemann is "New York" magazine`s national political
Gentleman, two heavyweights. Today`s press conference, it`s been
noted, was a bit snippy -- tough reporters, justifiably skeptical after
these three years of Obama, questioning what he`s really up to. Here`s
Bill Plante of CBS asking I think a great question today about whether the
president, President Obama, is going to give `em hell like Harry Truman.
Let`s listen to some of that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL PLANTE, CBS NEWS: Anybody on Capitol Hill will say that there`s
no chance that the American Jobs Act, in its current state, passes either
house. And you`ve been out on the campaign trail, banging away at them,
saying, Pass this bill.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right.
PLANTE: And it begins, sir, to look like you`re campaigning and like
you`re following the Harry Truman model against the do-nothing Congress
instead of negotiating. Are you negotiating? Will you?
OBAMA: I am always open to negotiations. What is also true is they
need to do something. If Congress does something, then I can`t run against
a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it`s not a matter of
me running against them, I think the American people will run them out of
town because they are frustrated. And they know we need to do something
big and something bold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, speaking of sports -- I`m serious--
MATTHEWS: -- this is a veteran reporter spotting the game plan of a
pretty young president, saying, Wait a minute, I`ve seen this movie before.
I`ve seen this game play before. You`re going to lose this jobs bill, you
know you`re going to lose it no matter what you`re saying here with your
poker face, and then you`re going to say these guys blew it. I`m going to
go bash their brains in across the country.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
that`s exactly what Bill Plante was saying, and it`s obvious to everybody
that that`s what the president is doing. The question isn`t--
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. Does he know it`s obvious to everybody what
FINEMAN: Does the president--
FINEMAN: Well, he said it right there. He basically said it right
there. And the question isn`t what his strategy is, the question is
whether he can carry it out.
FINEMAN: First of all, I think he needs to work on his Harry Truman.
FINEMAN: And he`s got to convey that sort of populist sense of the
little guy against the powers that be that Harry Truman was able to do.
MATTHEWS: Can a guy who was head of the Harvard Law Review be a
failed haberdasher from Kansas City?
FINEMAN: Well, that`s one problem. The other problem is what the
Republicans are going to say because they were saying it to me this
afternoon when I called them. They said, Look, we passed his original
stimulus bill, we passed his health care bill. Yes, we`re going to vote
down the jobs bill, but as soon as we do that, we`re going to take up the
trade bills he wanted and we`re going to pass those--
FINEMAN: -- to show him that we`re not a do-nothing Congress.
MATTHEWS: I got you. We`re a doing something you don`t like
FINEMAN: No, we`re going to do stuff you asked for. You asked for
the trade bill.
MATTHEWS: Right. Got your point.
FINEMAN: We`re just not going to give you your jobs bill.
FINEMAN: But we`re going to give you trade, patents, health, you
know, highways, et cetera.
MATTHEWS: OK, what happens if Mitch McConnell, who is just as tough
MATTHEWS: -- just as tough -- and boy, he is a hardball player, Mitch
McConnell, the Republican leader -- I`m hearing right now as we`re on the
air right now that he`s planning to try to bring up the entire Obama jobs
bill, the American Jobs Bill, tonight maybe, get it beaten by the Democrats
not coming out 100 percent for it, and therefore stuffing it right back at
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Well, that would be a very -- a
very hardball strategy on--
MATTHEWS: It would be classic McConnell.
HEILEMANN: It would be classic McConnell strategy, very hardball, and
might rebound (SIC) to their benefit. Look, here is my big problem. There
are a lot of questions about whether Obama can successfully play Harry
Truman. Is he good in that mold?
But there`s another problem, Harry Truman ran against the do-nothing
Congress, but that`s not why he got reelected. He got reelected because
the economy was growing--
HEILEMANN: -- at somewhere between 4 percent and 6 percent a quarter
for the six quarters leading up to the election day. Barack Obama`s not
going to have that. So they have the rhetorical stance of running against
the do-nothing Congress with a economy that`s dead in the water. I`m not
sure that exactly solves the problem.
FINEMAN: Well, and the other thing is, at least what the Republicans
are going to try to say is, Look, for two or three years, despite a lot of
squawking, we essentially gave him most of what he wanted. Yes, we dragged
our feet, et cetera, but we gave him most of--
MATTHEWS: Well, they keep saying "we," but they opposed it.
FINEMAN: Yes, they opposed it, but he got--
FINEMAN: He got most of what he wanted, and the economy hasn`t
improved. Now, he can try to set up this big jobs bill thing and say, the
Republicans will say, If we don`t pass this, it`s our fault, but it`s not
because we did all that stuff.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, reporters in the press conference today,
including NBC`s Chuck Todd, asked tough questions, of course, as I said.
Let`s listen to a bit of them. Here`s Chuck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wouldn`t it
be more productive to work with Republicans on a plan that you know could
pass Congress, as opposed to going around the country, talking about your
bill and singling out, calling out Republicans by name?
QUESTION: Are you worried about your own powers of persuasion and
maybe that the American public`s not listening to you anymore?
QUESTION: Are you worried at all about how this is, how your
administration is running?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that your government has a right to
dictate how much profits American companies make?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Now, that`s the kind of tough questioning I`m not used to.
Somebody called me from Wall Street, actually, the guy who represents me
out there, he said -- he`s a Republican, I think. He said, Look, I`ve
never seen the press turn on the president like this. Do you think they
turned -- they were tough questions today?
FINEMAN: Yes, they were very tough. They were basically, When did
you stop beating your wife-type questions--
FINEMAN: -- in the sense they`re saying, you know, Are people -- is it
true that people aren`t listening to you anymore?
MATTHEWS: And by the way, answer our question while you--
HEILEMANN: And here`s the bellwether for this. You know, when the
president`s approval rating gets below 40 percent--
FINEMAN: It`s true. It`s true.
HEILEMANN: -- the press, like the public, starts to have -- starts to
HEILEMANN: The press follows -- the press follows the opinion polls -
- not consciously, but unconsciously, it does. And since skepticism now in
the country is very high, and so it`s very high in the press corps, too.
MATTHEWS: Well, for a person rooting for President Obama, is today a
good day? He`s out there meeting the press -- by the way, he gave the
longest answers in recorded history, seriously, to these questions. There
was, like, seven or eight questions over an hour. He gave long answers.
Here he is, by the way, telling Chuck Todd today that he would support
the Senate Democrats` plan to impose a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires
that would pay for the jobs bill, a different approach than he recommended.
He says he`s for this new approach, if necessary. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The approach that the Senate is taking I`m comfortable with in
order to deal with the jobs bill. We`re still going to need to reform this
tax code to make sure that we`re closing loopholes, closing special
interest tax breaks, making sure that the very simple principle, what we
call the Buffett rule, which is that millionaires and billionaires aren`t
paying lower tax rates than ordinary families -- that that`s in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So he`s willing to go a different route. But all they`re
doing is slapping a 5 to 6 percent surtax onto a lousy, unfair tax code
that does still benefit people who make money off of money, rather than
HEILEMANN: Yes, that`s correct. And look, I mean, there`s no --
there`s no way to do the kind of fundamental tax reform that needs to get
done in the timeframe that we`re talking about. But the president does
know that hitting the rich is a popular thing to do right now. Seventy-
five percent of people in the country want to see something of this kind.
He`s going to go with that--
FINEMAN: Now, here`s my--
FINEMAN: Here`s my question, John. If he knows that it`s popular, if
75 percent of the country is in favor of it, why does he say, I`m
comfortable with that?
FINEMAN: Why doesn`t he say, Hell, yes!
MATTHEWS: OK, you--
FINEMAN: In other words, this is Harry Truman--
FINEMAN: If he`s going to be Harry Truman, you don`t make it sound
like somebody`s imposing on you.
MATTHEWS: OK, Sigmund!
MATTHEWS: Explain to me further because you`ve thought this through
more than I have. Why does he hedge on the obvious easy ones?
FINEMAN: Well, because he`s maintain -- he still thinks he can get
FINEMAN: -- low-tax Republicans. He`s not going to get any fair-
minded, low-tax Republicans! He thinks he`s still going to win Virginia
and North Carolina. I don`t think he`s going to win Virginia and North
MATTHEWS: But Plouffe does, his guy.
FINEMAN: I know Plouffe does, but they ought to worry about
FINEMAN: They ought to worry about Pennsylvania and Ohio, and he
ought to say, Damn right, we ought to tax--
HEILEMANN: He`s reconciled himself to the, I must fight, strategy to
the -- We`re not going to compromise, strategy. But in his heart, he still
wants to compromise.
MATTHEWS: You dance with the one that brung you. He ran on the
promise of uniting America.
HEILEMANN: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: He hasn`t been able to do it. The Republicans don`t want
to help him.
HEILEMANN: That`s who he is.
MATTHEWS: Well, what should do?
HEILEMANN: Well, I think he`s -- he`s -- I`m saying he`s doing, I
think, what the right thing is politically. He`s making the right--
MATTHEWS: But nobody English!
HEILEMANN: But he doesn`t -- but he doesn`t believe it in his -- he`s
not a populist in his soul and he won`t be.
MATTHEWS: Can he be this guy he has been told he has to be, Harry
Truman? Can he go out there and pound the wall and say, Damn those
Republicans, damn those rich people, I`m going to stick it to them?
FINEMAN: Well, I think when he`s with Yellow Dog Democrats, yes, but
when he`s in a room full of the middle, which is--
MATTHEWS: There he is! That`s a different -- there`s a different
FINEMAN: I think when he`s in a crowd that he knows will respond
favorably to that uniformly, he`ll do it. But when he`s in a situation
where he thinks he has to reach out to the whole country at the same time,
he`s reluctant to do it.
MATTHEWS: Well, here he is--
MATTHEWS: To make your point, here are the closing remarks of the
president. He brought up again the do-nothing Congress approach, he`s
calling them. He continues to fight for the jobs bill. Let`s watch him in
his new approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want everybody to be clear. You know, my intention is to
insist that -- each part of this, I want an explanation as to why we
shouldn`t be doing it.
We will just keep on going at it and hammering away until something
gets done. And I would love nothing more than to see Congress act so
aggressively that I can`t campaign against them as a do-nothing Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is he running for reelection, for sure? I just watched
that. I`m not sure. That didn`t look like a guy running for reelection.
HEILEMANN: I keep saying to people, when they ask this question, that
he is at heart -- deep down, he is the most competitive person I think I`ve
ever encountered in public life. He`s incredibly competitive. So I think
he is running for reelection. But I totally understand why people looking
at that body language say, He could just quit--
MATTHEWS: -- we`re going home.
FINEMAN: Right. He was putting his papers in his pocket like he was
packing up his suitcase.
MATTHEWS: He`s, like, I`m getting out of town here!
FINEMAN: Or at least I`m getting out of this press conference.
MATTHEWS: What is -- OK, you guys are pros. You`re writing a book.
I`ll start with you. You`re writing a book again, I know. You wrote the
great book, "Game Change." You know how this guy came in. How`s he stay?
HEILEMANN: How`s he stay?
MATTHEWS: How`s he get four more years?
HEILEMANN: Well, I mean, I think the simple nuts and bolts answer is
he and his campaign spend $750 million to make whichever Republican he`s
running against unacceptable to the American people, the same way that
George W. Bush--
MATTHEWS: What`s your sense of--
HEILEMANN: -- did to John Kerry. That`s what they`re going to try to
do. I think it`s possible. That`s a lot of money. And whoever they get
is going to have real flaws. It`s possible that they can accomplish that--
HEILEMANN: -- but it`s going to be a demolition job.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s like saying, this is as good as it gets.
HEILEMANN: I think it is.
FINEMAN: Well, if that`s what it`s going to be, and I agree with John
that`s what it`s going to be, don`t forget the Citizens United case and
Super-PAC spending and spending by--
MATTHEWS: More money against--
FINEMAN: So they`ll do that. Meanwhile, all the allies of whoever
the Republican nominee is going to be are going to spend literally
MATTHEWS: So he`s walking into a pooh storm, basically?
MATTHEWS: Politically. Right?
MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s walking into it.
FINEMAN: As in some respects, the 2008 campaign that John helped
chronicle was so uplifting -- and it was.
MATTHEWS: It was.
FINEMAN: -- divide by negative one on this one. This one is going to
be as nasty--
FINEMAN: -- and expensive as we`ve ever had.
HEILEMANN: And you know, last time, we had help -- in a weird way,
helpfully, the financial crisis kept the general election from being very
negative because people thought negative attacks won`t really work. The
country`s not in the mood for that.
HEILEMANN: This time, it`s going to be very different and very ugly
in both directions.
MATTHEWS: I`ve got a name at your book, although you don`t need one -
- "Roller Derby" because it`s who`s still rolling around at the end of this
thing. Anyway, thank you. What a depressing development. Anyway, thank
you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, John Heilemann.
Coming up: Energy`s building around those protests up on Wall Street.
They know what they`re doing up there. Can President Obama harness that
anti-Wall Street fervor out on the streets right now to help win his
reelection? Does he even want to do that? That`s the question we keep --
is he ready to join that crowd, lead that people to real reform on Wall
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Christmas in Iowa? Well, the Republican primary calendar
is still taking shape, and now it`s possible the first votes could be cast
before the end of this year. Nevada has decided to hold its caucuses on
January 14th. New Hampshire likely wants to hold its primary a week
earlier than Nevada. And that means Iowa could move up to late December,
And that would mean the Republican presidential candidates will be
campaigning in the Hawkeye state over Christmas. Stay tuned.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we need Dodd-Frank? (INAUDIBLE) and I will get
rid of it if I`m president of the United States.
NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We
ought to come back in and repeal the Dodd-Frank bill that`s killing the
banking industry and now.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dodd-Frank is
strangling these small community banks across America. It needs to be
JOHN HUNTSMAN (R-UT), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot go
forward with Dodd-Frank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. That was the latest Web ad
from the Democratic National Committee, and it plays almost directly on the
anger that we`ve seen over the past couple of weeks, the people occupying
Wall Street, those protesters out there.
Well, today "U.S. News and World Report" says this Web ad is the
beginning of a concerted effort between the Obama reelection campaign and
state parties to link Republican presidential candidates to Wall Street,
make them the bad guys. My question is, can President Obama get ahead of
this movement and lead it? Does he want to? Let`s start with that "want
Dana Milbank is a columnist at "The Washington Post," and a great one.
Dee Dee Myers is a model and a former White House--
MATTHEWS: She`s been on a lot of posters in this town, to your
credit, sir -- madam.
Let`s go to you, first of all. The question has to be asked. Does
the president have -- we`ve been talking about his psyche. He doesn`t seem
really thrilled with reelection yet. He isn`t quite into that mode of
being "Give `em hell, Harry." Is he willing to get out in front of those
mixed bag, that motley crew, if you will, because you`re not sure who`s in
there -- there are some people in there with Geraldo -- well, not Geraldo
DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He might be. I
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s some interesting lefties out there, too.
But is he afraid to get ahead of that mob right now?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, he wants the energy from
the movement without necessarily having the baggage of the movement. But
he`s a fool if he doesn`t try to get to harness--
MATTHEWS: Would you do it? Would you get out in front and risk the
fact it`s a mixed crowd? There`s some Che Guevara people in there--
MILBANK: He needs to harness this populist energy. He needs to get
out there and do it. I don`t think this movement allows him to do it
because, basically, they allowed him to do it in 2008 and they let him to
be the emblem of the movement, and then he betrayed them.
MATTHEWS: But they`re there. They exist and they`re active and
they`re doing something, which you don`t see on the center-left spectrum of
the Democratic -- you don`t see the organized labor people, a million
people in Washington like this.
I don`t think he has to own the movement. I think he has to address
the issues that the movement is rallying around. People are really mad,
right? How can -- how can it be that in the United States of America, the
top 1 percent have that much of the wealth, that much of the income, that
much of the power? It`s not right and it`s not American. He has to get
back to a place where people who work hard and play by the rules can get
MATTHEWS: Where did I hear that phrase before?
MYERS: I know. Well, you know what? It worked 20 years ago and it
MATTHEWS: I want to see that crowd in Washington working the
Congress, going after Eric Cantor, going after Boehner. And yet they`re
going up there -- the interesting question is, look where they are.
They`re blaming Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: They`re not blaming the Democrats.
MILBANK: And they came down to Washington today. They were standing
outside the Chamber of Commerce. And I can understand that. There`s been
a lot of corporate behavior that`s arrogant--
MATTHEWS: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is not a local chamber
of commerce. It`s a big-time right-wing lobbying operation.
MYERS: That`s right.
MILBANK: Exactly. And they haven`t yet turned that, what they`re
doing, into more of a political operation. I think that could be very
I don`t think that the Democrats are going to be able to say, we own
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a model. Republicans did not invent the
Tea Party. In fact, they got their name from a guy on CNBC.
MYERS: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: They were grassroots, they created themselves. They`re not
even clear what they stood for, except they are right-wing. Somehow the
Republican Party grabbed them, galvanized them, and used them to take over
the Congress. Speaker Boehner is there because of them. They may be pains
in the butt, but he`s there because of them.
MATTHEWS: How does Barack Obama do that?
MYERS: First of all, we have to wait to see whether it`s a comparable
movement, right? This is about 19 days old, and it seems to be -- it
started in New York and now it has spread to cities across the country.
There is real energy and there is real anger out there.
I don`t think we know even whether it`s really going to be a sustained
movement or not. But again I think the way you do it is you get out and
you address the issues that they are so mad about.
MATTHEWS: Should he walk up to New York with a bullhorn and talk to
MATTHEWS: Should he?
MATTHEWS: Milbank, you`re laughing at that prospect.
MILBANK: Because we have seen the temperament of this president.
MILBANK: Look, he can give a stem-winder when he goes out there, but
there`s just the sense that he doesn`t really believe it. You saw him in
the press conference. He said, well, the movement on the one hand has this
energy. On the other hand, we have to--
MATTHEWS: Well, here he is. He was asked about it today. He had no
choice. He knew I guess he would be asked about it.
Here he is empathizing with the protesters` anger when he was asked a
question in his news conference earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it expresses
the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest
financial crisis since the Great Depression.
You`ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic
policy proposals is, "We`ll get rid of the financial reforms that are
designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first
That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated
I`m going to be fighting every inch of the way here in Washington to
make sure that we have a consumer watchdog that is preventing abusive
practices by the financial sector.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So he`s giving a bureaucratic response to an emotional
crowd. He`s saying, I`m going to name another box on the federal
MILBANK: If he`s got a fire in the belly, he`s been taking a lot of
antacid, because it`s not at all coming through there.
MYERS: He`s fighting for more regulation as opposed to fighting for
people who work hard and play by the rules and can`t give their kids a
MATTHEWS: OK. I hate to do this, I hate to do this, because I`m
pandering to you, my friend, Dee Dee.
MYERS: Yes. Well--
MATTHEWS: I`m now going to pander. What would Bill do?
MYERS: He would be -- he would have started a long time ago
addressing the issues that people are mad about, talking about--
MATTHEWS: Feeling their pain.
MYERS: Feeling their pain. Talking about the lives of ordinary
Americans who can`t pay their mortgage, who have lost their jobs, who
someone in their family has lost their jobs, who can`t pay their kids`
college tuition, who see, while all this is happening, Wall Street bankers
are getting huge bonuses.
But it`s got to come back to the actual people whose lives are
affected by this. You can`t talk about the regulators.
MATTHEWS: Let me give you a horrible example of history. When Mike
Dukakis was asked by Bernard -- what`s his last name?
MYERS: Bernie Shaw, yes.
MATTHEWS: Bernie Shaw. He was asked, what would happen if your wife
were raped and killed? And he gave that classic liberal answer from
Massachusetts liberal politics, which is, of course, you know, Bernard, I`m
against capital punishment.
That`s what you`re talking about.
MATTHEWS: This president is talking about the Wall Street problem,
the problem of unemployment, the way Dukakis talked about the possibility
of his wife being raped and killed, without passion.
MILBANK: He sees it in a cerebral way.
MILBANK: He takes the long view. And I think what happened is, he
said, well, economic crisis, right, we have got -- we passed the stimulus
bill. Check. And we will move on and we will do health care now. And he
didn`t realize that this was the all-consuming thing.
MILBANK: And he still can`t.
MYERS: And the DNC is doing the same thing, by the way. An ad that
makes the kind of linchpin of people`s anger that Republicans want to
MYERS: I mean, it`s like--
MATTHEWS: I didn`t know which way it was going, actually, when I was
watching -- I thought it was a Republican ad.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look. Here`s the top-tier Republican
presidential contenders. Well, they`re not doing themselves any favors
when talking about the protests. Let`s take a look at what they had to say
about it, Republicans` response to what`s happening on the streets of Wall
Street. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t have facts to back
this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and
orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama
administration. Don`t blame Wall Street. Don`t blame the big banks. If
you don`t have a job and you`re not rich, blame yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Dee Dee--
MYERS: He`s not going to be president.
MATTHEWS: That`s not going to be president.
MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you, the guy thinks he can be president. He
wouldn`t be putting out that mouthwash that it was orchestrated, the
conspiracy, outside agitators.
MYERS: People who lost their job--
MILBANK: Nancy Pelosi tried to talk about Astroturf.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. Give me a break.
Thank you, guys. You`re both right about everything.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank and Dee Dee Myers.
The passionless, so far, presidency right now.
Up next: Did Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts just
commit a cardinal sin in politics? Well, we will see. You never know what
is a cardinal sin these days. Stick around for the "Sideshow." You`re
watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
To start off, a quick follow-up on something from last night`s
"Sideshow," on this week`s Democratic Senate debate up in Massachusetts.
It all started when Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat, got the audience
laughing with this response. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To help pay for his law school education, Scott
Brown posed for "Cosmo." How did you pay your college education?
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I kept my
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, incumbent Scott Brown got wind of that joke and had
some choice words for Warren in a radio interview yesterday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you officially responded to Elizabeth
Warren`s comment about how she didn`t take her clothes off?
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank God.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Thank God"? Anyway, that`s how they say it in
And this campaign is just getting started.
Next up: How`s this for a bad dream? What if you were running for
president and nobody showed up, only press, no voters. Well, that`s what
happened to GOP candidate Gary Johnson when he arrived at a New Hampshire
high school to speak with voters last night. The room was empty.
Rather than split, Johnson and the five reporters stuck around for a
Q&A session. So what are the future plans of Gary Johnson if he does not
end up in the White House?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: So it`s president or nothing?
GARY JOHNSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, by president or
nothing, yes. Yes, if I`m not successful, you`re just never going to hear
from me again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Never going to hear from him again. Well, based on his
attendance record, I`m betting that soon even he won`t be in the room.
And, finally, is gridlock good? According to Supreme Court Justice
Antonin Scalia, that was the plan all along.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I hear Americans saying this
nowadays, and there`s a lot of it going around. They talk about a
dysfunctional government because there`s disagreement.
And the framers would have said, yes, that`s exactly the way we set it
up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power. So, Americans should
appreciate that. And they should learn to love the gridlock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you have got a job.
Anyway, I guess he`s one of the small percentage of Americans who
think Congress is doing a dandy job.
Up next: The Republican Party`s Eastern conference is all set. It`s
got Mitt Romney as the champion. Who will be the anti-Romney coming out of
the Western conference? Perry? Herman Cain? Rick Santorum?
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. I`m Tyler
Mathisen with your CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks gaining ground all afternoon to finish at their highs of the
day. The Dow Jones industrial surged 183 points, now back above the 11000
benchmark. S&P 500 up 20. Nasdaq added 46. Best three-day stretch since
Three winning sessions in a row as the European debt situation starts
to look a little bit more stable and investors appear relatively optimistic
about tomorrow`s monthly jobs report from the Labor Department. That`s the
biggie. Over in Europe, the Dutch approved an expansion of the Eurozone
bailout fund. The European Central Bank announced new liquidity measures
to shield banks in the event of a Greek default. And it held interest
rates steady after an inflation uptick last month.
Meanwhile, retailers were mostly higher after reporting strong sales
during the important back-to-school season. There you see some names. And
Apple shares down a fraction on the first day of trading after the death of
co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, like it or not, the Republican field is almost certainly set
now. Sarah Palin has been teasing at a White House run for months, but
yesterday she made it official, telling supporters that she would not run.
She told conservative radio host Mark Levin that -- Levin, rather -- that
by not running, she would be unshackled and be able to do -- become even
And here was the former Alaska governor on FOX News last night,
justifying her decision not to run. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I apologize to those whom
are disappointed in this decision. I have been hearing from them in the
last couple of hours, but I believe that they, when they take a step back,
will understand why the decision was made and understand that, really, you
don`t need a title to make a difference in this country. I think that I`m
proof of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I have no idea what she -- I want to get into that. I`m
going to get incisive about, you don`t need a title. And there`s some
other candidates, some candidates still looking for the title right now.
But are Republican voters satisfied with the field they have?
Well, apparently not. According to a recent CBS poll, 76 percent,
three-quarters of Republican primary voters say they have yet to make up
their mind on this field. And 46 percent, almost half now, say they still
want more choices. They want more people to get in this race. And it`s
not going to happen.
So what does this mean for Mitt Romney, who is already in, and Rick
Perry and Herman Cain and the others who are already in?
Jennifer Donahue is a fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at the
Gettysburg College, a great school. And Mark McKinnon served as an adviser
to John McCain`s 2008 presidential campaign. He`s co-founder of the
nonpartisan political group No Labels.
Well, let`s talk about this group right now. The field is set, right,
JENNIFER DONAHUE, POLITICAL ANALYST: The field is down.
MATTHEWS: And my question is, can Perry get past his boo-boos, which
he seems to make over and over again? Will he now pick up Palin`s vote,
despite his boo-boos?
DONAHUE: I think he`s had some really bad few weeks trying to get his
He`s not a strong debater. This is not a surprise. There`s another
debate next Tuesday. If he can do marginally better, the bar is set so
low, that he could look like he succeeded, just for not putting his foot in
his mouth. I do think he gets Sarah Palin`s voters. I don`t think Herman
Cain is real. I don`t think he has legs. I think he`s, frankly, a joke.
I think that Perry still is competitive with Romney, and I think if
Romney were going to get Sarah Palin`s vote, we would have seen movement
towards it sometime in the past five years.
MATTHEWS: Right. That`s what I have the question -- my same question
to you, Mark, is why after all these years we have known him -- Mitt
Romney`s been running around the country, running against Ted Kennedy,
running for governor of Massachusetts, running nationally. For 17 years,
Republicans have had a very good look at this guy as he`s flipped around on
issues back and forth like a seesaw.
And they have got a real good look at him. And no matter what he
does, he`s won three debates in a row, he`s still at 25 percent. Three-
quarters of the party keeps saying, tissue rejection. Is this going to
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER MEDIA ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes,
it`s going to change.
You can look at a lot of past primaries, both Democratic and
Republican, at this point, and they`re generally never happy. That`s what
primaries are about. You have got broad constituencies. And it`s not
until after the primaries are over and the nominee takes the stage when
they suddenly have a cape and they get an S on their chest and everybody
falls in love with them.
That said, I would say that we are in a very different political
environment this time around. And there`s a lot of energy out there on the
right and among the -- and with the Tea Party, and they are looking for a
candidate. And some -- the dynamic is going to change here, Chris. This
thing`s not over. This is still first act and we have got two more to go.
And Iowa`s going to be right in the middle of that. Someone`s going
to pop in Iowa, and it could be Rick Perry. Listen, he`s got $17 million.
That may not buy love, but it does rent you a lot of organization out in
Iowa. Herman Cain is on fire out there. And I think there`s a lot of
voters out there that take him very seriously. And he could do very well.
Michele Bachmann`s out of money. And Rick Santorum hasn`t raised any,
but any one of those four could catch fire out in Iowa, or maybe they will
split up all the vote and Romney could make a strategic play and actually
play in Iowa, or maybe they`ll split up all the vote, and Romney could make
a strategic play and actually play in Iowa and exceed expectations in Iowa
But there`s a lot of energy out there that has yet to be captured, and
somebody`s going to do it.
MATTHEWS: Well, what good is voting for -- I want to get back to you
about this. What good is it voting for Herman Cain if you know he`s not
going to be the nominee? You need somebody on the right, if you`re on the
right, to beat Romney. You can`t throw your vote away.
They may like this guy, he`s good out there on the stump, he says
things that make sense to people. But he doesn`t have any national
organization. He`s not really a politician.
DONAHUE: Right. I talked to somebody in New Hampshire today who told
me Cain hasn`t set foot in the state in quite a while. He`s got no money.
He`s got no organization. He`s got no ground game. He hasn`t been in
That`s the difference between him and Rick Perry. Rick Perry is
already in Iowa. He`s campaigning there. If Perry were to do very well in
Iowa, let`s say Romney wins New Hampshire, let`s say Perry, as a
Southerner, then comes in and does well in South Carolina, then it`s up to
the Southern states.
Who lost the whole South in 2008? Romney.
DONAHUE: Romney couldn`t win Iowa. Huckabee won it. He couldn`t win
New Hampshire. McCain won it. He couldn`t win South Carolina.
Romney said, I get a silver after New Hampshire. How many silvers do
you think the Republican Party is going to let Romney get? It`s going to
MATTHEWS: You still think Perry`s the leader?
DONAHUE: I believe he`s in a better position.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at these new poll numbers in the Republican
field from CBS. We have them right now for you. Among Republican primary
voters, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are now dead heat at 17 percent.
Romney stayed virtually the same for two weeks now, but Herman Cain jumped
12 points there. What`s behind that surge?
We`re going to look at Rick Perry, who went from having 23 percent two
weeks ago, down to just 12 now. Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann
rounded out the top six.
Let me get back to you, Mark. You`ve always seemed to make sense with
me. Are you a moderate Republican or a very conservative Republican? Just
to make it official in your words, so I know who`s talking here. Who`s
MCKINNON: I`m a radical centrist who falls on just on the right side
of the line. I call myself a progressive Republican.
MATTHEWS: So you`re sort of like me, within the 40-yard -- you`re
within the 40-yard lines.
MCKINNON: Sure. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Only we`re on different 40-yard lines, probably. That`s
the -- let me ask you about this. Can Rick Perry get out there -- it looks
to me like Romney can win 20 debates in a row and the Republican Party is
not going to fall in love with him. Is that fair?
MCKINNON: I think they`ll fall in love with him if he gets the
nomination. I mean, he`s very acceptable to most Republicans. And,
listen, in this environment, with the economy the way it is, I said
jokingly three weeks ago that Ron Paul could get the nomination and
potentially win next year. And then a poll came out about a week ago that
showed, actually, he was beating Obama.
It may not matter who the Republicans nominate if the economy doesn`t
DONAHUE: I don`t agree with that.
MATTHEWS: You think anybody can beat him?
DONAHUE: I don`t agree with that at all.
MATTHEWS: Make your point, Mark, you think anybody -- any Republican
nominee can beat Obama?
MCKINNON: If the economy doesn`t get any better or gets at all worse
or marginally worse, yes, I think just about any Republican nominee could
MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s somebody who disagrees with you, Roger Simon is
on this program a lot. Today, "Politico" columnist Roger Simon dismissed
the polls showing Obama in trouble.
He wrote, quote, "I say the poll gods are wrong. Not only can Obama
be re-elected, but he`s the favorite right now. Why? Because Obama has
one huge plus going for him. It`s called the Republican field.
And Republican voters agree with me, because if Obama were really so
weak a candidate, why would Republicans keep looking for a messiah to save
them? The president presides over a lousy economy and a dreadful war in
Afghanistan. But he also has some real accomplishments. He`s a heck of a
stump speaker and a pretty good debater and he has an experienced campaign
DONAHUE: Yes. Well, I think those are true points.
And the other thing is, today, for example, in Obama`s speech, you see
him lowering the bar. Biden was out there, too. They`re saying, the
economy is bad, it`s worse than it was a year ago. It`s worse than it was
when I took office.
He`s basically taking the hit for the economy now, so that when it
improves and upticks just a tiny bit, before November 2012, he gets credit
for it. They`re doing this now, they`re laying the groundwork, and I think
Obama knows that he has to run against himself. Obama can beat Obama.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you the problem with Obama. If you bought a
car this the year, a Ford or a Chevy, whatever you bought, and it was
lousy, turned out to be a clinker, a clunker, are you going to buy one next
MATTHEWS: OK, that`s the problem.
Thank you, Jennifer Donahue, and thank you, Mark McKinnon.
That is the problem, he`s got to win the argument. My heart next
year, my model next year is going to be so good, let me show it to you --
and convince us what he`s saying about the next four years is so
compelling, so winning, that we say, OK, we know we got a bad model this
year, but we`ll get a good one next year. I`m just looking at it.
He`s got to really make this case to win this campaign. It`s up to
him to do it. He can do it, but what a challenge.
Up next, Steve Jobs proved you don`t need a fancy degree from a fancy
university to make it in this country. You need a good idea and a lot of
work and guts to believe in yourself. But are we still the country that
can create a person like Steve Jobs? Do we still have that garage out
there where some people working in it that can make something magical
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s some good news. Congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords was at the White House today, nine months after being critically
injured in an assassination attempt. Giffords was on hand for the military
retirement ceremony honoring her husband, astronaut and Navy captain, Mark
Kelly. What an American couple they are.
Giffords returns, actually, continues her rehabilitation at an
outpatient basis down in Houston.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Raise your hand if you have an iPod, an iPad,
an iPhone. I mean, look at -- that`s impact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was Matt Lauer this morning on "Today" show, just
demonstrating how powerful the influence of Steve Jobs was and is in this
country today. He passed away, of course, last night. He brought
technology to the masses, if you will, and truly changed the way all of us
communicate -- how we listen to music, how we live our lives, in many ways.
President Obama said in a statement today, "Steve was among the
greatest of American innovators, brave enough to think differently, bold
enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."
Steve Jobs was a college dropout, who started a company in his garage
with a high school friend. He reflected both the time and the place he
lived in. He`s the first baby boomer industrialist who grew up amid the
San Francisco counterculture, and we`re proud that America, all of us, I
think, created counter-culture. And we`re proud that America, all of us, I
think created someone like Steve Jobs.
Is his story still possible in America? Well, it was in his case.
Joining me right now is historian Doug Brinkley.
You and I love this country and we write about it and think about it.
And the thing we all think about is, you know, you don`t have to go to
Oxford or Cambridge in this country. The establishment is nothing like it
is in other countries. And you can`t be Steven Spielberg, you can be a
Bill Gates, you can get out there, and if you believe in yourself and
you`ve got a heart for something, you can do something historic.
DOUG BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: Yes, we used to call it up, Chris, up from
a tinkerer`s bench in the 19th century, that you can invent anything. We
were a nation of mechanics, people that had an idea and would take it all
the way to the top. It wasn`t just Horatio Alger stories, but just people
that believed in products.
Henry Ford being the great example of the Model T. He had failure
after failure, but he knew that cars weren`t just for rich people. They
were going to be for everyday people. It`s the same with Steve Jobs. He
didn`t think that computers were just for the Defense Department or a huge
corporation, but people would carry them in their pocket.
And those types of American entrepreneurs are really the large figures
in U.S. history. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford rank up there with
Washington and Lincoln as great Americans.
And Steve Jobs for our generation, you know, baby boomer, he`s the
man. And history, along with Bill Gates, will be treating him as a seminal
figure. Walter Isaacson, in fact, is writing a major book on him right
MATTHEWS: You know, it`s the same spirit I just saw on the movie
"Moneyball," about a guy who has an idea, a hunch and he sticks with it and
just carries it into action.
Here`s Steve Jobs speaking at Stanford in 2005 after he had first been
diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is a killer. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE JOBS, APPLE CO-FOUNDER AND CEO: Your time is limited, so don`t
waste it living someone else`s life. Don`t be trapped by dogma, which is
living with the results of other people`s thinking. Don`t let the noise of
others` opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and
intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, that is a powerful message for us Americans, and I
still think we`re the ones that can do it.
You know, in this country, you know, Doug, nobody asks you who your
daddy was, very few people ask what school you went to. They ask you --
what do you do? What are you up to?
BRINKLEY: Well, exactly. Stanford in 2005, everybody should just
download and read it. It`s an amazing commencement address. He gets very
personal in it and talks about, you know, the power of getting fired -- how
being fired or even contemplating death has helped him in business.
But what`s really interesting to me, Chris, is the way he brought in
the San Francisco counter-culture, everything from Alan Watts` "Book of
Zen," Jack Kerouac`s "Dharma Bums," to experimenting with different types
of vegetarian lifestyle, spending time himself in India, declaring himself
And, you know, Apple records used to be famous for the Beatles, and he
used to say that I`m thinking in terms of the Beatles, not just one person
leading a band, but a team at Apple, you know, connecting it to rock and
roll in many ways.
So, he`s a figure that showed that in the `60s, in the Bay Area,
Stanford and University of California, Berkeley, as you well know, you
wrote out there for so long, those are -- it`s a very major place in
technology and entrepreneurs have kind of shifted. And while Detroit and
Cleveland became Rustbelt towns, Silicon Valley, Seattle, due to Apple and
Microsoft and some other Internet companies, they became the new America,
when it came to business.
MATTHEWS: And here the San Francisco paper is devoting full front
pages to Jobs` death. Here`s "The San Francisco Chronicle" called him,
"The man who saw the future." And "The San Francisco Examiner" simply put,
"Thought differently." What a man.
You know, you think, Doug, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, and here we
go, in our generation, my generation, it continues. The American
exceptionalism continues in the best possible way, people having a hunch.
Doug Brinkley, you know your stuff. Thanks so much for coming on
MATTHEWS: And when we return, "Let Me Finish" with why businesses are
against President Obama even though doing so is bad for their own (AUDIO
GAP) on the part of business.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this. President Obama wants
to cut taxes, business opposes him. You think this is odd?
Why would people oppose a tax, a cut in taxes that they have to pay
for each work that they have on the payroll? Why wouldn`t an American
business person want a tax break so he could hire more workers and save
money doing it? Wouldn`t it make good business sense to back a president,
regardless of his politics or political party if what he was doing helped
your business, helped your stockholders, helped you?
Well, politics, as the saying goes, makes strange bedfellows. This
isn`t the first time business has back the Republicans in a political
fight, even when it runs again good business.
The same thing happened back in 1963. Jack Kennedy wanted to cut
taxes in order to stimulate the economy and reduce the jobless rate.
Business opposed him. The fact is, a poll taken a year before that showed
88 percent of business people opposed him.
Yes, today you hear a lot of Republican candidates raving about
Kennedy`s tax cut proposals, saying how he had it exactly right. Well,
back when he was president, business people were out there opposing his
push for a tax cut.
So, President Obama, you`re in good company. History shows that
despite all business good sense, sometimes people let their politics get in
the way of their own success.
President Obama is out there offering them, business people, a tax
break. That if they were being offered it by a Republican president, the
big corporations would be leaping and gobbling this happy meal like the
porpoises at SeaWorld.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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