updated 10/17/2011 9:54:10 AM ET 2011-10-17T13:54:10

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is Cain able?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Can Rocky win? Herman Cain is the Rocky in this Republican race, the guy
who came out of nowhere, who few respected as a full-fledged candidate, who
suddenly has shown that he can throw a punch and is a real contender. But
can he win the most votes? Can Herman Cain turn his "anybody but Romney"
support into a real campaign that actually wins caucuses and primaries?

Plus, here`s a provocative headline we saw today, "Will Mitt Romney
kill the Tea Party?" Conservatives winced at the idea of the born-again
conservative Romney as the Republican nominee and there`s some talk of a
third-party challenge to him.

On the other side of the political spectrum, are the Occupy Wall
Street protests -- are they real? Is there real anger here that can spread
throughout the country? Author Michael Lewis joins us on whether the
protesters can use that anger to change American hearts and minds.

And if you`re like me and you grew up in the time of racial tension
and riots, it is amazing and gratifying to see a country that has a
Democratic African-American president and another African-American at the
top now of the GOP field. How far have we come on this weekend that we do
dedicate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial here in Washington?

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a call to action to those protesting
on Wall Street. Get something done.

We start with the rise of Herman Cain. David Corn`s an MSNBC
political analyst and "Mother Jones" magazine`s Washington bureau chief,
and Jonathan Martin is senior political reporter for Politico.

Gentlemen, I want to know how this ends for this fellow, Herman Cain,
who`s come out of nowhere. You`re chuckling, but lead me raise a couple of
questions here. I want to give you a number of questions. The scenario --
this guy keeps going up. He`s ahead now in South Carolina. He`s ahead now
in Florida. He`s ahead of the field against a guy who can`t do anything
but flat line. Mitt Romney won`t get above 23. He stays right there, like
a dead guy politically, whereas Cain keeps going up.

My question to you, if Cain can even hold second place to Romney, who
gets ahead of him? Who beats him?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`ll tell you
where this ends up. It ends up with Herman Cain on Fox News and a lot of
book sales. This guy will not be the nominee, Chris. Maybe Rick Perry
comes back. You know, it`s true that Mitt Romney`s in a weak position,
can`t get above, but Herman Cain -- once Mitt Romney or anybody else starts
spending millions of dollars to tell the American public that his 9-9-9
plan means tax increases--

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: -- for anyone making $50,000 or below, his campaign is going to
flame out, if it hasn`t already. He is so vulnerable on this and other
fronts. He still can`t talk about anything else other than 9-9-9. I just
don`t see the Republican Party--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: -- that crazy.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- let me -- let me go to a couple things.
We`ve all agreed, I think you agree, that someone has to challenge Romney
from the right.

CORN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Somebody, in the end, will be in the race with him
throughout the spring, challenging him as the alternative to a guy who`s
not a Tea Partier.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: So somebody will be the hero of the Tea Party. Now you`ve
got to argue that somebody has to beat this guy. Do you think Perry has
the IQ, politically, to get out there and fight against the guy who has won
-- has done well -- let me put it this way, in every debate he`s been in,
who goes up in the polls every time, who can talk, something that Perry
can`t do?

CORN: If you--

MATTHEWS: You say his ads can do it.

CORN: If we`re agreeing--

MATTHEWS: Look at this guy!

CORN: If we`re--

MATTHEWS: Have you heard anything out of this guy yet--

CORN: No, no, no.

MATTHEWS: -- his campaign?

CORN: But if you`re agreeing there has to be a stand-in for--

MATTHEWS: Somebody has to take Romney on.

CORN: -- the anti-Romney vote, I think you`re right. That may be Rick
Perry, as IQ-challenged as he might be--

MATTHEWS: Political IQ.

CORN: -- but it doesn`t mean--

MATTHEWS: Political IQ.

CORN: It`s doesn`t mean it`s going to be Herman Cain.

MATTHEWS: OK, you think you know a lot about the Republican Party.
Here`s Haley Barbour on Herman Cain`s chances of success in Southern
states. Haley Barbour--

CORN: Yes, well--

MATTHEWS: -- king of the South!

CORN: I have a theory about this, too.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go. Let`s listen to Haley Barbour.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: If this election is where it
ought to be, and that is a referendum on how President Obama`s doing, a
Republican`s going to win. If Herman Cain is our nominee running against
Barack Obama, I think he`ll sweep the South.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "He`ll sweep the South." Do you want to counter Haley
Barbour--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: If he`s the nominee.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: I mean, will he win North Carolina, Virginia? I don`t think
so. But I don`t think he`ll be the nominee. We won`t have to worry about
Haley`s prediction.

MATTHEWS: I want to go back to what you were saying. He`s not going
to be the number two. He`s not going to be number one. My argument is
this. Mitt Romney is more vulnerable than Herman Cain as a nominee because
he is very vulnerable with 77 percent of the party, who relentlessly won`t
support him even in polls. He`s got a problem. It might be the religion
problem. I don`t think so. I think it`s the ideological problem. They
don`t trust him as a conservative.

Whereas Herman Cain, everything he`s done has said, I am a
conservative. And you think it`s going to be going through the weeds of
his economic program that`s going to kill him.

CORN: I think he can`t sustain any scrutiny on his program or
anything else, even for Republican primary voters.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at him. Here`s Haley Barbour and
what he had to say on Laura Ingraham`s radio show after Herman Cain --
about Herman Cain. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARBOUR: He has attracted a very good following -- in my family. You
know, I think if it were today, my wife would vote for Herman Cain. One of
my sons -- I`ve got grown children -- you know, from the first day said,
Dad, do you know Herman Cain? I said, Sure, I`ve known him since I was
chairman. He said, Dad, I like him, I like what he says. And that is of
his great strengths, Laura. He is likable. He does not give you the
impression that he`s full of himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Why are so many Republicans in poll after poll saying
Herman Cain?

CORN: Why so many? We`ve only had this for a week--

MATTHEWS: NBC`s got the best poll in the country and he`s number one
in it.

CORN: He is now. Listen, we were going on and on about Donald Trump
last spring. Michele Bachmann seemed to be the anti-Romney candidate.
There is a taste, a desire, a craving for someone other than Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: But as anyone has come up, they`ve fallen very quickly.

MATTHEWS: Who`s going to replace him on that job? That`s my point.
Is he the last guy on the right standing?

CORN: He`s the last -- he`s the last--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Listen, we haven`t had -- we haven`t had a Santorum bubble yet!

MATTHEWS: I have been logical about this. I have watched what you`ve
watched. We`ve sat at this table--

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- watching Trump do his number. We`ve watched Bachmann
make her run.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: We watched Perry fizzle. This guy has succeeded all of
them. Who will succeed him who hasn`t already fizzled? Answer?

CORN: Well--

MATTHEWS: Who will succeed him who hasn`t already fizzled?

CORN: I would say that the best bet would be a Perry comeback, then,
say, a Newt Gingrich rise.

MATTHEWS: A Perry comeback?

CORN: Yes. He has the money. He has the -- you know, he`ll have the
consultants, and--

MATTHEWS: Did you watch him in the debate? Did you watch him?

CORN: Oh, I think he`s awful!

MATTHEWS: "The Washington Post" debate, he was a groundhog.

CORN: He can`t -- he can`t stay awake.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CORN: This man cannot stay awake past 8:00 in the evening. I don`t
know--

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s put Perry on TV right now with Herman Cain. Who
wins the debate, one on one?

CORN: Well, that`s a really good question because neither one of them
have any policies to talk about. I mean, Cain is certainly more personable
and he`s been a better debater. But do you think -- I`ll ask you this.
Can he say 9-9-9-9 from here to election day and nothing else?

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at -- we`ll go in now. We`ll go into
the weeds with you, where you really want to go, I know. Timothy Egan of
"The New York Times" describes Cain`s economic plan, which David is talking
about, like this. "In essence, Cain is proposing the largest shift in tax
burden from the wealthy to the poor" -- sounds like the Republican Party to
me! -- "and the middle class in the nation`s" -- sounds like what they want
to do!

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: "He apparently would scrap the two great government
programs that keep millions clinging to fragile middle class, Social
Security and Medicare, because he wants to eliminate the payroll taxes that
now pay for those."

So here you have a guy whose impulse is to shift wealth to wealthy
people, basically, whose impulse is to get rid of Great Society programs.
Now, I know I`m being a bit of a cartoon here--

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- but these are the impulses of the party we`re talking
about.

CORN: And he also wants to tax beer. I mean, the thing is, most
Republicans don`t get out there and say, Hey, if you`re making more than --
making less than $50,000 a year, we`re going to tax you more. They know --
they try to cut the edges a different way. But this guy`s plan is such a
bald effort to redistribute wealth from the top -- from the bottom to the
top--

MATTHEWS: Every time he`s been in a debate--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- his numbers have gone up. Every time somebody`s doing
what you`re doing, from the right, his numbers have gone up. So every time
they`ve quibbled over this guy`s economic plan--

CORN: It hasn`t--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: It hasn`t started--

MATTHEWS: At least he`s got one.

CORN: It hasn`t started yet. There`s been no real attack on Cain
from anyone in the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Could there be in your mind--

CORN: There will be.

MATTHEWS: Could there be -- I want an honest answer. This is sodium
pentathol time, David Corn.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Could there be in your mind a suspicion that the Republican
members are voting for him in these polls simply to say, I`m not for
Romney--

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- I will name this man who`s African-American, who`s not a
man of political background, in a cynical way? I`m just doing it as a
placeholder. Is that what you`re really saying?

CORN: I don`t--

MATTHEWS: Because otherwise, what you`re saying makes no sense--

CORN: No, no.

MATTHEWS: -- because they keep voting for him.

CORN: No, no, no, no. I think -- I think their love is fleeting. We
saw it for Trump. We saw it for Michele Bachmann--

MATTHEWS: It`s infatuation.

CORN: It`s -- yes. The question is, who do you want to have a wild
weekend with and who do you want to get hitched to?

MATTHEWS: I love the way you do psychobabble on the right!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Here`s Herman Cain on his own surge in -- let him do a
better job, perhaps, than you--

CORN: Well--

MATTHEWS: -- explaining it himself.

CORN: I hope he can!

MATTHEWS: He`s doing incredibly well. And if this was a white guy
doing this and doing exactly what he was doing, you`d be saying, Of course
he`s the front-runner. Listen--

CORN: No, hey--

MATTHEWS: You just don`t trust that party!

CORN: Wait! No--

MATTHEWS: You don`t trust that party!

CORN: No, no.

MATTHEWS: I`m not saying you have a racial problem, you think the
Republicans do.

CORN: No, I don`t think they`re voting for him because he`s black.

MATTHEWS: No, you think they won`t in the end vote for him because
he`s black.

CORN: No, I think they won`t vote for him in the end because there`s
not much there.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: And they`re going to--

MATTHEWS: OK. I think you`ve got to examine your conscience on that.
I think you deep down believe that they`ve got a race problem in the
Republican Party.

CORN: Well, I think they do, but--

MATTHEWS: OK--

CORN: -- I think they like--

MATTHEWS: And that`s why you think--

CORN: No, but I think they love black conservatives--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re arguing like children here!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re looking through the window at the Republican Party.
Let`s listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Six weeks ago, there was
some pundits who were saying that I should just drop out. Well, they don`t
know Herman Cain. How am I feeling? I am feeling great. I`m feeling
great not only because of the surge, but I`m feeling great because a lot of
people are taking a second look and they`re saying, Maybe this long shot is
not such a long shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there he is. And by the way, how many "Rocky" movies
did you see? Did you see all five?

CORN: Oh, I think 10, 11, 12.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK--

CORN: How many were there?

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: -- up to the Russians?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Herman Cain, we`re watching you. The doubters
persist. Thank you, David Corn.

CORN: Sure thing, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: The occupy Wall Street protesters are angry, of
course, and their movement is growing, of course, but how much sway do they
have with voters? Will they change policy? Will they change Americans`
hearts and minds and get something done about economic inequality in this
country?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: To make that earlier point, we`ve got new poll numbers just
out from key states. And for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard"
tonight. First the Republican primary in South Carolina. Herman Cain
leads with 26 percent in a new ARG poll. Mitt Romney`s a close second at
25. Rick Perry`s way back at 15.

Next, a big state, Florida. It`s Cain leading again, another ARG
poll, with 34 percent for Cain. Romney`s down at 28, Gingrich a distant
third. Cain in both those races.

And finally, a general election matchup in New Jersey. A new
Quinnipiac poll has President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney, 47 to 41. Now,
that`s a healthy result for him in a state, of course, he has to win.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. This morning, between 600 and
700 protesters gathered in Lower Manhattan as part of the Occupy Wall
Street movement. A planned clean-up of their protest area, in which
protesters would have had to have left the park temporarily, raised concern
they might be evicted. So the protesters won and the clean-up was
postponed. But police later arrested 14 protesters who had marched down to
Wall Street. So will there be any political ramifications from these
protests?

U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel supports the protesters, joining me
from Capitol Hill. Mr. Rangel, I guess it comes down to, there`s a lot of
support in this country, maybe overwhelming support, for the feelings of
inequality that are being expressed on the streets of New York.

My question to you, sir -- you`ve been on Ways and Means a long time -
- is there any way that something good will come of this?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Of course there is. Right now,
like throughout America, they are merely indicating their frustration. I
really hope that as a result of this happening throughout these United
States that we find some of our spiritual leaders joining with them and
giving them some direction because in addition to the unemployment, we also
have a real attack on the vulnerable, the sick, the aged. And this is
happening in the Congress, and we haven`t heard at all from the ministers.

And the only way for them to be active is to get active, register,
vote. Do something. Right now, that leadership is missing. And I only
wish that our community leaders could go down there and see these kids.
They`re good people. Many of them have gone through college. They don`t
have a job. They know they`ll never be able to even aspire to what their
parents have done. And it`s frustrating as hell to be that helpless and
that hopeless.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about two areas they seem to be angry about.
One is inequality of income. Looks to me like members of both parties,
including yourself, have supported the differential on taxes, that the
people who make money off money, off capital gains, pay 15 percent in
taxes, and the people who make money off work, working 40 or 50 hours a
week, with sweat equity in their job -- they pay up to 35 percent. Is
there any way the Congress will ever equalize those two rates of taxes?

RANGEL: I hope so. You know, they talk about the power of money and
getting people elected, but it`s not really just the fact that there`s a
disparity in terms of the tax rate that people pay on capital gains, as
well as on their income, there are two things, too.

One of the things is that the disparity exists where just a handful of
Americans own almost half of the wealth in this country. And the middle
class, which is really the heartbeat of our economy, the heartbeat of our
country, is shrinking and the poor are just growing larger and larger. And
one out of every five kids in America is born into poverty. That is danger
enough (ph).

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RANGEL: The other problem that we have is that it is perceived that
when the bankers were in trouble, when the financial institutions were in
trouble, and Bush told us and Obama really underlined it, that we had to
take taxpayers` money, invest it into these fiscal institutions, or the
whole economy would collapse and we would have international repercussions
-- well, people saw that, they didn`t march, they didn`t protest, they just
saw it.

And then right after that, the people who pay taxes when they could,
lose all of their jobs, their hopes, their savings, their homes--

MATTHEWS: Right.

RANGEL: -- and you have the disparity there. So there`s enough to be
angry about.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m hoping you can get something done as a result of
all this street action. Maybe the street is the new political stage in
this country. Thank you, U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York -- in
fact, of Manhattan.

Joining me right now is Michael Lewis, who wrote "Moneyball," on which
the movie was based, as well as "The Blind Side." His newest book about
the worldwide global financial crisis is called "Boomerang." And so -- by
the way, I loved -- I loved what Aaron Sorkin was able to do with your
book. I loved "Moneyball," by the way. I`m not even sure what it was
about. It was more about -- it was about something bigger than baseball,
but we can`t talk about it here. It`s just too deep and cosmic for me.
There`s something grand about it.

Shortly, though, can you tell me quickly, in a sentence or two, what
was "Moneyball" about and what then was "Boomerang" about?

MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR, "MONEYBALL": At its heart, "Moneyball" was
about the way markets, even the markets for baseball players, misvalue
people and the way people get misperceived.

And, I mean, it`s an astonishing story that -- that baseball players
can be systemically undervalued and that some team can come along and take
advantage of that. And that`s, at bottom, what it was about.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LEWIS: "Boomerang" is really an extension of a book I wrote a year
ago, or published a year ago, "The Big Short," about the financial crisis.

I mean, I think what you`re seeing down on Wall Street is an
expression of the fact that the financial crisis has never really ended,
that the -- it got -- the debts that were -- the bad investments that were
made by banks have been effectively nationalized around the world.

And you got now sovereign states that are not credible financially.
And you see on the horizon--

MATTHEWS: What are the people in the--

LEWIS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry.

What are the people up in those buildings and those well-appointed
offices looking down on these people thinking right now? Are they a little
scared? Are they chuckling at it? What do you think their emotional
reaction is to this craziness we`re looking at? Some of this stuff, people
being pushed around by the police, a guy down in a crouching opposition --
what are they doing up there and thinking in the high-rises?

LEWIS: If I had to guess, it would be that they think it doesn`t
concern them -- concern them very much yet.

Think -- put yourself in the position of someone inside a Goldman
Sachs or a Morgan Stanley. You have had your way with the world, you know?
Your firm would have been out of business but for taxpayer intervention and
back -- and support. You got restored to help, and then you proceeded to
wreak havoc with any attempts to reform you.

What are a few people on the street going to do to you? I think
they`d be wrong to think that, but I`m sure they`re viewing it with some
indifference.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about this election coming up and what
this boomerang means here. I keep reading the market every day, and every
day I ask somebody from CNBC or somewhere what the heck`s going on, because
it seems to me that Obama can`t move the unemployment rate. It`s around 9.
He`s not going to get anything through Congress the next year.

It seems what`s going to drive the unemployment rate are these
international realities, the European mess, Greece. What would you worry
about in the next year? Let me ask this. If you were Obama, and Gene
Sperling, his economic adviser, is sitting in the White House right now,
what would scare the heck out of you between now and next November?

LEWIS: Well, you`re right, he`s not going to get anything through
Congress, and so he will be dealing with a high unemployment rate no matter
what happens.

But the thing I would be scared of right now is another banking
crisis, and it`s triggered by a Greece default, or even an Italian default,
I mean, that the banks own large amounts of sovereign debt, and the minute
one of these places goes down, and especially if it goes down messily -- if
Greece announces tomorrow that, you know, you`re going to get 30 cents on
the dollar back, if, on Greek government bonds, French banks, German banks
come under attack.

And they`re interconnected with our banks. So you`re back exactly
where you were in 2008, where you have to choose between letting the
financial system go down or coming in and looking like you`re friends with
the fat cats on Wall Street.

And I think, if I had to guess, that`s what they`re afraid of, that
they will have to be put in that position again and it will show -- it will
show that these institutions are still too big to fail. They can`t let
them go down.

MATTHEWS: Yes. So all the effort -- to try to bind up and perhaps
reform Wall Street after Bush left and Obama came in, all that stuff,
around the time of TARP, to try to clean up the system with Dodd-Frank and
everything really left us still at the whim of the big shots?

LEWIS: We`re still vulnerable, yes.

It`s -- the situation is a little different, but still, basically, if
Goldman or J.P. Morgan or someone walks into the Treasury tomorrow and
says, we`re insolvent, we need help, or we`re not going to open the doors
tomorrow, I don`t think the Treasury`s going to have any choice but to do
what they did all over again. And that would be, I would think, a
political problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So even if we had a socialist running the country, I know
that people call Obama, but a real socialist, somebody really on the left,
Bernie Sanders, somebody who is really proud of his left-wing status, if
they were running the country, could they have any more leverage than that,
or do we just have to do what the big banks tell us they have to do because
of their screwing up?

Does anybody have any control in politics that isn`t already trumped
by the power on Wall Street?

LEWIS: Well, not right now.

But this could change pretty rapidly. If Elizabeth Warren gets
elected to the Senate -- that`s one of the things the protesters could do -
- they could pick up candidates. If people who actually understand that
what needs to happen is that these institutions need to be broken up, we`re
at their mercy until they are, those people get into power, who knows?

The situation could move very quickly, and especially -- look, if we
get ourselves in situation we`re bailing them out all over again, I imagine
there`s going to be enormous political pressure to do just that.

MATTHEWS: If we had Teddy Roosevelt as president right now, a real
trust-buster, a real progressive reformer who knew how to do it, could he
break these giants into smaller pieces so the American people could be a
democratic society again, economically speaking?

LEWIS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: They could do it?

LEWIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s good news.

LEWIS: I don`t see why -- it`s only hard because of the influence of
money in the political process, because Wall Street had such -- had such
sway in the discussion of how to reform them.

MATTHEWS: I smell it every day.

Thank you, Michael Lewis. Thanks. I`m glad to know that at least
it`s possible if we get the right people running the country.

Up next, Herman Cain is hoping his candidacy doesn`t melt away like
his choice of ice cream, actually. Stick around for the "Sideshow." I
still think that guy`s rocky on the Republican side.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."

First up, when Sarah Palin first grabbed some attention for calling
GOP candidate Herman Cain the flavor of the week, the initial speculation
was that the candidate would take offense to the comment.

Well, since then, Cain has turned the tables and dubbed himself the
black walnut, after what he calls his own Haagen Dazs flavor of choice.
Well, if you haven`t seen that option in the grocery aisle lately, there`s
a reason. According to the Haagen-Dazs customer service line -- quote --
"We don`t sell black walnut. The sales nationally didn`t meet our
expectations, unfortunately. It didn`t behoove us to continue with the
product."

Well, there`s a bad sign, a bad metaphor, if you want. Apparently,
Cain wasn`t aware that his flavor of choice turned out not to be everybody
else`s. Let`s hear his thoughts on the matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I was very
disappointed to find out that it`s a limited edition and they don`t make
Haagen-Dazs the way they used to, so I`m heartbroken over that.

I now have my people calling Haagen-Dazs and finding out why they
don`t make Haagen-Dazs ice cream, when they`re going to bring it back,
because it`s always been my all-time favorite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know how a flavor can be your all-time
favorite when you can`t even buy it.

Next up, on the attack. Freshman Republican Allen West of Florida
attracted attention back in July for his nasty comments on fellow Florida
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom he called -- quote -- "the
most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of
Representatives."

Well, he`s on the attack again, this time against President Obama.
Here`s part of an e-mail he sent to supporters -- quote -- "I truly believe
President Barack Obama does not comprehend American exceptionalism. He
does not fathom that, in America, the station of your birth does not
determine the station of your outcome. America is not about class or
caste. It is about rewarding individuals for their drive and
determination, for their hard work and ideas."

Hmm. Well, there`s a tough sell he`s got on his hands there. I think
President Obama himself is the clearest example of West`s definition of
American exceptionalism, isn`t he, when you think about it. Look where he
is.

And now for the "Big Number." It might come as no surprise that at
this fall`s GOP debates, it`s Rick Perry who was dealt the most verbal
punches by the other candidate. That`s right. He played the role of
pinata more often than all the other candidates combined.

But here`s a shocker. Who do you think threw the most punches at him?
It was Jon Huntsman. With how many attacks on his opponents? Nineteen.
Unfortunately, for Huntsman, the whacks don`t seem to have provided much
momentum, given his place in the polls. Nineteen times at bat for Jon
Huntsman, and that`s tonight`s "Big Number."

Up next: Will Mitt Romney kill the Tea Party? If the Republicans
nominate Romney -- think about it -- there`s talk among conservatives of a
possible third-party challenge from the right. And that`s ahead tonight on
HARDBALL.

You`re watching it, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Oktoberfest rolls on with a solid rally to cap off a big week. The
Dow Jones industrials jumping 166 points, the S&P 500 adding 20 and the
Nasdaq surging 47 points.

Those major averages scoring their first back-to-back weekly gains
since July. Look at that Nasdaq, soaring 7.5 percent. Google sure did its
part with quarterly earnings and revenue that blew past expectations,
boosted by record ad sales. Apple pitched in with a 3 percent bump today
as the iPhone 4S went on sale. And IBM hit an all-time high after two
firms raised their price targets. The tech giant has started moving very
aggressively into cloud computing.

Retailers were higher across the board on a report showing sales
rebounding at their fastest pace in seven months in September. But at the
same time, a surprise drop in consumer sentiment and expectations, and that
could be bad news heading into the holiday shopping season.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

If people have anointed Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee this year,
someone has forgotten to tell the Tea Party. Romney`s support has remained
flat lined over the past few months. In poll after poll, as I said, his
support is stuck somewhere around 25 percent, generally lower than that,
not a great place to be for the front-runner.

And one reason for his inability to gain traction in the polls is
because the base of the party, and most vocally the Tea Party, have been
hesitant to get behind him, even though they know him, perhaps with good
reason.

In a year when passion and anger at the current president is driving
the narrative, Romney has cast himself as the pragmatic choice. Here is
the challenge he faces, according to this week`s NBC/"Wall Street Journal"
poll.

Herman Cain is leading Romney 27 percent to 23 percent, Rick Perry a
distant third now. But among Tea Party supporters, the gap is even more
lopsided. Herman Cain has the support of a third of Tea Partiers, Romney
only about 21 percent.

So if the predictions are correct and Mitt Romney wins the nomination,
what does that mean for the Tea Party movement itself? Will they
reluctantly get behind him? Will they perhaps look for a third-party
candidate? Or does the choice of Mitt Romney say something about the power
of the Tea Party?

As "The Huffington Post" asked in a headline yesterday, will Mitt
Romney kill the Tea Party?

Matt Kibbe is president of FreedomWorks, one of the largest
organizations within the movement, and Steve Kornacki is a political
columnist for Salon.

Gentleman, thank you for calling both -- coming on, both, within and
with outside the Tea Party movement.

I am struck -- I`m not a man of the right, but I`m struck over and
over again by the fact that Romney seems to be the inevitable nominee,
because he keeps in there, and you guys keep changing who you like. Now
it`s Herman Cain. And I don`t sense you`re going to win in the long run.

MATT KIBBE, PRESIDENT, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, we might split our vote,
but, right now, it strikes me that Tea Partiers are shopping around. We`re
checking out all of these various alternatives to Romney, because, clearly,
he`s the establishment guy, and the question is, can we coalesce around
somebody to challenge him?

Because if you add up the numbers, if the anti-Romney vote coalesces
around--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s 77 percent.

KIBBE: -- we win.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but you can`t -- when are you going to get to that
point where you can actually knock him out, or he will win? You have to
get together, or he will win, right, by definition?

KIBBE: Right. Right. But we haven`t cast a vote yet.

And I think -- I do think that this process is more decentralized. I
do think that you could easily see this debate go on for quite some time,
particularly if Romney can`t get above the 20s, because somebody will fill
that vacuum.

MATTHEWS: Do you guys have -- here`s my question. You are so
Jacobin-like, French revolutionary, that you don`t really want an
establishment leader. You don`t want a John Wayne to tell you what to do.

You are all a bit anarchic, and you like to call your own shots
individually. Do you want a leader, honestly, a strong leader at the top
to tell you where to go, to march, like Reagan?

KIBBE: I don`t think that that`s essentially what we`re trying to do.

MATTHEWS: No, but then how do you get a nominee?

KIBBE: Well, president is one position, but we`d love to drive the
process from the bottom up from now on, just like the freshman class has
done in the House and Senate.

MATTHEWS: So let Romney have it and kick him in the butt once in a
while?

KIBBE: Well, no. No, we want to find the best candidate that can
win. And we don`t think that that`s Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let me go -- let me go to Steve Kornacki.

We`re trying to figure this thing from the inside. The dynamic to me
seems like there`s always going to be somebody, as Matt says, who will
challenge Romney. He always will have an anti-Romney from the right. The
question is, could it be that, in the end, they don`t have a strong person
from the right, you go to Tampa next September, in 2012, and they end up
having to sit there with their hands under their butts while Romney wins
it, the old establishment of the Republican Party wins again?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes.

No, and I think that`s probably the most likely scenario, except I --
watching it sort of from the outside, like you`re saying, I would put a
little different spin on it.

I think if Romney comes through this process and wins the nomination -
- yes, he`s the establishment candidate, but I still think in a way, the
Tea Party`s won in a very significant way, if that happens. Because when
you look at Mitt Romney, we call him sort of the moderate candidate in this
race. We`re calling him that because in Massachusetts, you know, a decade
ago, two decades ago, he definitely was a moderate. And we`re calling him
that because of the health care plan.

And because in this campaign, he`s been a little less, you know,
willing to go and throw all the red meat out there, unlike in 2008. So,
that`s why we`re calling him a moderate. But when you look at his actual
positions on every issue, right down the line, you know, what they`re going
to build the Republican Party platform on next September, I really don`t
see any differences between what the Mitt Romney Republican Party platform
would look like next September and what the Rick Perry or even Michele
Bachmann Republican Party platform would look like.

You know, he`s got the health care thing in Massachusetts, but the
Mitt Romney platform is going to say that Obamacare is a socialistic
abomination and it needs to be repealed, because it`s killing jobs and
freedom -- just like the Michele Bachmann one would. So, this is not, you
know, Nelson Rockefeller against Barry Goldwater. You know, this is really
just a question of -- does the Tea Party, does the conservative base of the
Republican Party, you know, feel that they can trust and have confidence in
Romney to be that same conservative as president, versus moderate, saying,
you know, we think he`s faking it.

MATTHEWS: Well, Matt Kibbe doesn`t. The man`s sitting right here and
doesn`t have any confidence in the guy.

MATT KIBBE, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, think about the other thing that`s
going on is the Senate is in play, and there are a historic number of
targets that we can go after as Tea Partiers, not just in a general, where
we think we`ll pick up enough seats to take the Senate, but in the
primaries.

MATTHEWS: So you think you can control the next president, no matter
who he is?

KIBBE: You`re going to have a more energized House and a more
energized Senate.

MATTHEWS: I think you may have a point. Here`s a column in the
"Guardian" newspaper, D.R. Tucker said, "The base of the Republican Party
has turned on Mitt Romney because he`s the anti-Tea Party, anti-talk radio,
anti-anti-government candidate.

Quote, "Romney will never be able to appeal to those who want limited
government. He fundamentally cannot: he is, at bottom, a center-right
candidate who believes that government, when run effectively and
efficiently, can produce the best results for the people. It`s a noble
view -- one that the GOP base seemingly hates him for.

If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it will prove that the Tea Party
project was an abject failure and that the momentum of 2010 was only
temporary. Romney doesn`t represent taking the country back."

My question is, does he have enough anger, just emotionally, against
what`s been going on, to be your guy`s representative in the general
election? Does he feel and act like a Tea Partier?

KIBBE: Well, I don`t think it`s how he feels, I think it`s what he
stands for. And if he`s going to run on repealing Obama care, if he comes
up with some plan --

MATTHEWS: But not repealing his Massachusetts plan, which he`s very
proud of. He said so again this week.

KIBBE: And that`s his problem. That`s his problem with us and we`re
not terribly happy about that.

But, again, the legislative power is going to come from the House and
Senate. And we`re hoping to drive it from the bottom.

MATTHEWS: It sounds like you guys are receding from the fight over
the presidency and saying, we don`t have a champion, we`ll settle. We`ll
let Romney have it if he wants to, we`ll vote for him, but we`ll control
him hand and foot. We will bind and gag this guy from control in the House
and the Senate.

KIBBE: Well, ask me that question in April. I still think that the
challenge now is to find someone better.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, both gentlemen.

Thank you, Matt Kibbe. Always welcome.

Steve, as always. Thank you, sir. It`s a short night for us all.

Up next, what a great moment for our country. We have an African-
American in the White House and look at it, another African-American
leading the field of Republican challengers right now -- how far we`ve
come.

And this is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve been pushing President Obama to "build, baby, build"
to help turn the economy around here on HARDBALL and Rick Perry`s response
is: drill, baby, drill. Perry says he can create 1.2 million jobs by
expanding energy production in this country. He wants to open up all
federal lands and waters to drilling and he wants to roll back regulations
he says are standing in the way.

Oh, great. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, they`re all going
to be drilled.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would say that a contest
between two black Americans, would say that it`s not about color. And I`ve
been saying that. It wasn`t about color, which is why President Obama got
elected. It`s not about color that I am now in the top tier of the
Republican nomination.

Some people want to say there`s still, you know, ramped racism in
America. No, there`s not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was Herman Cain in an event in Ohio last night talking about the
potential historic moment of two African-Americans, one an incumbent
president, and the other currently the front-runner in the Republican
presidential field facing off in a general election. Cain`s comments came
right before the dedication this weekend of the Martin Luther King National
Memorial here in Washington.

Is Cain right? Is this country beyond color?

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is the chairman of the Congressional Black
Caucus.

Sir, thank you for joining us.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.

MATTHEWS: And Nia-Malika Henderson is with "The Washington Post."

Thank you, Nia, for joining us tonight.

This question of these two guys running -- I want to show you
something from Herman Cain, Congressman, and have your reaction to it.
He`s talking about some things about the president, which I find
interesting. In an interview with "Bloomberg View," columnist Jeffrey
Goldberg back in June, Cain stressed that he preferred being called
American rather than African-American. And then went on to contrast his
upbringing with that of President Obama.

Cain is reported to have said, quote, "Most of the ancestors that I
can trace were born here in the United States of America. Barack Obama`s
more of an international. Look, he was raised in Kenya. His mother was
white from Kansas and her family had an influence on him, it`s true, but
his dad was Kenyan."

Goldberg went on to correct Cain in his interview by telling him that
Obama spent four years of his youth abroad in Indonesia, never in Kenya.

Why, sir, is it your estimate -- now, this is psychobabble, to some
extent -- but why on God`s earth would Herman Cain, a man of obvious
educational background, say that the president grew up in Kenya, when
everyone on earth now knows that he was born in the United States, lived
here all his life, hardly ever met his father from Kenya, has no real
actual mental roots in Kenya, and certainly no experience there?

CLEAVER: Well, unfortunately, the United States is suffering through
a period where elected officials, even those who are pursuing elective
office, are willing to engage in fact-free discussions and engage in fact-
free discussions and debates.

You said everybody on earth knows he was not raised in Kenya. That`s
not quite true. The facts are that he wasn`t born in Kenya. There are
people who will look at the facts and still declare that he was born in
Kenya or, you know, somewhere in Siberia, whatever.

And it`s unfortunate, because, as we are, you know, 48 years of Martin
Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the Mall here in
Washington, we still have some issues of race, and it`s something that
people are uncomfortable talking about. And the fact that people are
uncomfortable means that we still have issues.

For example, nobody now has discomfort when we talk about what used to
happen to people who are left-handed, you know. In some instances, they
were killed. But nobody`s uncomfortable about that now.

So, as long as we have discomfort, it means we still have a problem.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Nia-Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post"
in covering this race. Is there any way to detect whether this push for
Mr. Cain is real or not on the Republican side? Republicans are not known
for running African-American candidates, nor have they known since the time
of the `60s, since really going back further than that before Roosevelt for
being the party of African-Americans, generally speaking. They, all of a
sudden, might have one as their nominee. Some people are skeptical.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I think you can draw
a straight line from Michael Steele to Herman Cain, and even, quite
frankly, from Barack Obama to Herman Cain. And he sort of set the ground
work for this party and this country being open an African-American
president.

But if you talk to Republicans on the ground in some of these early
states, it isn`t really clear that Herman Cain actually has any sort of
ground game, any sort of infrastructure. He`s going to report what his
earnings and what sort of money he`s raised over the last quarter. It`s
going to be about $300,000, $400,000.

So, he doesn`t have the engine yet behind him that could power him to
the nomination, but he certainly has some fans. You heard Newt Gingrich,
for instance, say that it`s difficult to now label the Republican Party as
a party that has a race problem, because you have Cain surging to the top
of these polls.

MATTHEWS: Well, is that true? I guess my topic right now is for both
of you, Nia, and for Congressman Cleaver, is there a post-racial society
afoot here as we anoint -- or actually formally dedicate the Martin Luther
King Memorial here this weekend with the president serving as the main
person there -- is it behind us or in front of us, the race problem of
America, conflict? Sir, you up first.

CLEAVER: No, we`re not through with the issue of race. I would like
for us to be. And we`ve certainly made tremendous progress, but we`ve not
been able to push that issue completely in the background.

We still need people like Martin Luther King who are not willing to
leave well enough alone on the issue of race. I think in days to come,
we`re going to make it to a point where all of us are comfortable. We`re
not there yet, and all of us have to look at the things that are happening
to President Barack Obama.

And I`m not talking about with regard with legitimate complaints
against his policies. I`m talking about some of the things we`ve seen in
Washington with moustaches, Hitler moustaches --

MATTHEWS: Sure.

CLEAVER: -- and members of Congress calling him names, Sambo and so
forth.

So, it`s unfortunate that we haven`t move further. But we have made
tremendous progress. The fact that we`re going to have this unveiling of
the memorial is a statement about where we are as a country.

MATTHEWS: Nia, what do you think about all this as a reporter, the
race condition in the country as a young person?

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, I think -- I mean, if we could focus a
little bit, you know, on Herman Cain, I think Herman Cain is on the one
hand saying that we`re in the post-race country. But at the same time, he
seems to play the race card when it comes to talking about African-
Americans, talking about the ways in which they vote for Democrats. It`s
not something that he would, for instance, say about white evangelicals who
vote in overwhelming numbers, for Bush, something like 75 percent to 80
percent, and for McCain, something like 73 percent.

So I think there`s a grappling that this country has to do with race,
but again, we`ll see obviously on Sunday, this really moving event with the
dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial, and President Obama there as
this dream from, you know, kind of a bookend to martin Luther King`s dream.

MATTHEWS: There it is. We`re looking at it now. Thank you so.

It`s going to be a big weekend to have that permanent monument here
for Martin Luther King.

Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. Thank you for
representing the Black Caucus today.

And Nia-Malika of "The Washington Post," who`s covering this campaign.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with a call to action to those Wall
Street protesters.

You`re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" with this: freedom of assembly. It`s right
there in the Constitution, in fact right there in the First Amendment.
It`s part of the Bill of Rights. And there we have it now -- people
assembling on the streets of downtown Manhattan, right in the shadow of
Wall Street, to say they don`t like the way things are going in this
country.

Joe the plumber says he doesn`t like the government doing anything
about the huge differences of income in this country. He doesn`t want the
government -- as he puts it -- redistributing income.

But what about the government distributing income in the tax code?
People who work for a dollar pay up to 35 percent. People who make money
off their money pay only 15 percent. And that`s a mighty powerful
distributor of income, wouldn`t you say?

And that`s where we`re at in this country -- thanks to a policy that
rewards making money one was, off of having money, in preference to making
money by showing up for work and doing a job that needs doing.

We will see if occupy New York -- "Occupy Wall Street` brings about
real change, or if it withers when the weather turns frigid. We will see
if the growing number of people out there matures the movement itself and
the one that makes real discernible statements.

Here`s a bar that I`d like to put out there. If the crowds end up
mattering to the voter, if they affect whether a congressman or senator
does something, then we`ll know it was worth it.

Here are some demands I would consider -- equality of taxes.
Everybody pays the same progressive tax rates, no matter how they get their
money. Two, the federal government finally lives up to the Employment Act
of 1946, which requires the federal government to, quote, promote maximum
employment, production, and purchasing power in this country.

Let`s be honest. If nothing gets done, then the Wall Street occupiers
will be no better than some of the people occupying seats in the Congress
right now. The difference, of course, is we haven`t had to pay them.

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

"POLITICSNATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

END
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BE UPDATED.
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