Guests: Chris Cillizza, Amanda Drury, Chuck Todd, Nia-Malika Henderson, Dick Durbin, Melinda Henneberger, Hampton Dellinger, Major Garrett
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Johnny, we hardly knew ye.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off
tonight: Sweet Carolina. You like soap operas, then you`ll love the
details in the John Edwards court case today. The prosecution`s star
witness, Andrew Young, told how he concealed Edwards`s affair with Rielle
Hunter, what Elizabeth Edwards knew, and what Edwards did to keep his
presidential dreams alive. Oh, yes, that`s if you believe a word of it.
We`ve got the latest at the top of the show.
Also, a first of its kind look at who Mitt Romney might pick as his
running mate. Each candidate addresses a particular problem Romney may
have -- cloth coat Republicans, Catholics, Latinos, women. But here`s the
bigger problem. Doesn`t all this suggest that Romney has a lot of
Plus, one reason Barack Obama won four years ago is that voters aged
18 to 29 came out in big numbers, and he won two thirds of them, 66
percent. But enthusiasm among young voters is obviously down, and that`s
why the president is now making his big pitch to college students today.
And if you`ve been listening to the Republican candidates for
president, you`d think Obama has left the southern door of this country
wide open to illegal immigration. Fact is, he hasn`t. The total number of
Mexicans living illegally in the United States right now is actually down a
million. And that report comes just as the Supreme Court is about to take
up Arizona`s anti-illegal immigration law.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the utter failure of our country
to deal with either debt or long-term immigration problems.
We begin with the trial of John Edwards, however. Melinda Henneberger
is down there covering the trial for "The Washington Post." And Hampton
Dellinger is a North Carolina lawyer who`s been helping us understand this
case. They both were in the court today.
I want to start with Melinda. Melinda, this is, in many ways, a sad
story, a sad story of a marriage coming apart, of deception, of infidelity,
of cheating, also of money laundering, of all kinds of things, allegedly.
What happened today in the testimony? What did you hear in the
testimony of Andrew Young, the star witness for the prosecution?
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, when you say it`s in
many ways a sad story, that`s so true. I mean, just to see John Edwards`s
elderly parents sitting behind him, supporting him even now, as they always
have throughout his life, I mean, you can`t not feel for the family.
Andrew Young as a witness today just seemed to me like a nightmare
witness -- I mean, so many inconsistencies, internal inconsistencies, even,
in what he was saying.
For example, saying John Edwards did not want to know a thing about
the scheme to keep the money flowing to his pregnant mistress, and yet at
the same time -- because he wanted to preserve his viability, because he
allegedly thought he was sure to become a vice presidential choice or maybe
attorney general. And then on the other hand, he says he was involved in
every single aspect of, you know, this plot to keep his candidacy alive by
funneling this money to his mistress, Rielle Hunter.
The one thing that really came across to me, though, as sound -- as
ringing true was when he said because John Edwards has always said that it
was Andrew Young`s idea to claim paternity, and when Andrew Young describes
the scene in great detail of John Edwards coming to him, he says he took
the cell phone call when he was at the Petsmart buying a turtle aquarium
for his kids, and he starts giving him the stump speech, like, Andrew, you
got to do this, it`s for the greater good, this is bigger than all of us,
you know, this is about America.
And Andrew was also, I thought, very believable on the point of his
own motivations in this. He said, you know, Of course, I wanted my friend
to become president of the United States. That would mean a lot of good
benefits for me. And that really did come across as quite believable.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Hampton on the point by point here. Hampton,
what did you think the prosecution established today in terms of the claim
by them, and of course, by the star witness, that John Edwards, the man who
ran for president, almost won, actually, at one point back in 2004, doing -
- coming in second in the Iowa caucuses for president -- how he was able
spend money he got from people like Bunny Mellon, the wealthy heiress out
in Virginia, how he was using that money, according to the prosecution, to
cover up the affair, cover up the child he had out of wedlock with Rielle
Hunter, his filmographer, if you will, and how he was doing all this as
really part of a campaign expenditure?
How successful were they today?
HAMPTON DELLINGER, LAWYER: Well, they didn`t lose ground today. But
this was, I think, in many ways, Chris, a win-win, a win for each side.
You know, Andrew Young, backed up not just by his word, which has a lot of
credibility issues, but by documents -- checks, bank account statements --
was able to put John Edwards in the middle of the plot to keep the affair
private. And in many ways, today was an audio version of "The Politician."
But Andrew Young helped John Edwards, I think, in three key ways.
One, he made clear that Bunny Mellon wanted nothing in return for her
largess. Two, he made clear that Bunny Mellon was told that these expenses
were for personal matters, not political. And three, Andrew Young said
John Edwards told him time and time again this was perfectly lawful.
So Andrew Young may have made out the government`s case, but he also
helped John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what I`m wondering about, Melinda. It sounds
like he made the case against the prosecution by saying, This isn`t a
political expenditure. And this wasn`t intended to be such by the one who
gave the money, Bunny Mellon, the wealthy heiress. Nor was it in any way
ever described as such. It was simply a way to pay a family expenditure to
keep a family problem secret.
HENNEBERGER: Yes. I think it`s all going to turn on how much you
believe the part of Andrew Young`s all-over-the-map statement that says,
you know, this was, in John`s mind, a way to keep his campaign viable, that
this was very crucial to his campaign because he had, even after he
suspended his campaign, some kind of idea that he was bound to be, as I
said, vice president...
HENNEBERGER: ... or attorney general. I do think there was something
for both sides today. But it was -- you know, he was not -- as I said
before, I mean, the judge was annoyed with Andrew Young. She kept saying,
Can you slow down?
I mean, he looked like a guy -- he was revising his earlier
statements. I mean, in his book, he said that the money only started going
to Rielle after she became pregnant. Today he did not say that. He said
the money came before that.
You know, so the judge was annoyed with him. The prosecution was
annoyed with him. The prosecution kept saying, That`s not what I asked
you, sir. So you know, it was not a great day for the prosecution.
MATTHEWS: The person who wasn`t there today...
DELLINGER: Hey, Chris...
MATTHEWS: Let me get to the heart of this, as many people understand
this case emotionally. Elizabeth Edwards in many cases, a lot of people, a
beloved figure. People -- there she is in the film now we`re showing.
MATTHEWS: She was, in fact, a very supportive wife, a very likable
person in her public life, very intelligent, certainly as intelligent as
the candidate, her husband. And yet she was, of course, the one who was
cheated upon here, who then died of cancer in the midst of all of this,
that she was, in fact, a victim.
How did her personality play in that courtroom today? I noticed that
the -- they decided to have only 7 women out of the 16 jurors and
alternatives today, very few number of women. What was all that about in
terms of her, the late Elizabeth Edwards, Hampton?
DELLINGER: Well, Chris, to my mind, Elizabeth Edwards has come off
worse in "Game Change" or "The Politician," other chronicles about this
campaign, the 2008 campaign, than she has in court today. Now, there`s
plenty of trial left. We don`t know. I think this is still a trial about
John Edwards and Andrew Young.
One issue for the government is Andrew Young says he had concerns
about the legality of this scheme. But Andrew Young is no lawyer. He
never took the bar. He never passed the war. And Edwards has former
Federal Election Commissioners ready to testify that what did he was not a
HENNEBERGER: I thought it was very interesting that -- I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Melinda. Go ahead.
HENNEBERGER: ... that on the jury, yes, there are seven women who are
in the pool, but -- who were on the panel or will be alternates, but none
of them are anywhere near to the age Elizabeth would be today, and I
thought that was very interesting, that they left that demographic out of
the jury pool.
But Elizabeth, you know, really did not come across that well here,
it`s true, because she always claims that she only knew there was a one-
night stand, that she was really in the dark. And you know, what we`re
hearing in this -- it`s clear from the voicemails that we heard today from
John Edwards that she heard about a lot of this at a lot of different steps
along the way, that not only was it there`s knowing and there`s knowing,
but she discovered many things about his relationship with Rielle Hunter as
time went on, and that she seems to have been -- you know, at one point,
the lawyers were even saying, you know, one of the main reasons he was out
there is because Elizabeth wanted to campaign so much.
And it really did paint a picture of Elizabeth being more involved
with this than we maybe thought.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to this...
MATTHEWS: Hampton, I want to get to a key point here about this guy.
The reason John Edwards had a chance of being president, the reason he was
a senator from North Carolina, is he was an astoundingly successful
courtroom trial lawyer. He was able to win over juries, rural juries, and
win those big cases against big-shot hospitals, doctors. He was the little
guy against the big shots.
He was also, in many ways, the good-looking guy who, I assume, was
very attractive to the jurors in many ways because of his class background,
because of his looks, his style, his charm.
It seems like all that`s been thrown into reverse now. He`s now seen
as the cad, the guy who messed around on his wife, who cheated on her,
deceived her, then tried to run for office while paying off the living
costs of a child he had out of wedlock, paying off the girlfriend, if you
Is that, in fact, the context, the box this trial came in in North
Carolina for those jurors, the personality of John Edwards.
DELLINGER: Well, you`re absolutely right, Chris. I saw it firsthand
as John Edwards really sold himself convincingly as the son of a millworker
for the first time when he said it back in `97 and `98 as he won that
Senate seat in North Carolina.
The question is, can John Edwards, the man with the mistress, who
cheated on his cancer-stricken wife, the man of private jets and posh
hotels -- can he connect with this jury? And I think that`s still an open
But Chris, one thing I think you`d appreciate is today was about
unreported campaign flights (ph) not for a candidate, which we`ve seen too
much of and which really is a problem, but for people who had no
relationship towards getting votes. Now, they could have cost Edwards
votes, but boy, it seemed like a surreal scene when we`re talking about
flights (ph) for people other than the candidate.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much...
HENNEBERGER: It was very interesting, too...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
HENNEBERGER: As you were saying about his ability to charm this jury,
it`s interesting to me that he`s making no attempt now to even try and
charm the jury. He doesn`t really -- he`s very involved with his defense
attorneys. But he is not even trying to work on contact with the jury, and
I think that`s probably a wise decision on his part.
MATTHEWS: Well, Melinda, keep an eye on him, will you, my friend?
Keep an eye on Edwards.
MATTHEWS: I`ve always been curious about his appeal anyway. Anyway,
thank you Melinda Henneberger of "The Washington Post, covering the trial
for "The Post," and Hampton Dellinger, a great attorney helping us out
Coming up: Who`s Mitt Romney going to pick as his running mate? Back
to real politics now. Each possible veep actually plugs a hole for Romney.
He`s got lots of holes. I`m not saying it`s the Titanic, but it is a ship
with holes in it. So he`s going after a Latino, perhaps, a Latino running
mate, a woman running mate, a Roman Catholic running mate, or perhaps
someone from the hard right. He has a lot of choice here because he`s got
a lot of problems.
This is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Brand-new poll numbers from a battleground state and on the
Democrats hope will be a battleground state. Let`s check the HARDBALL
First to New Hampshire, the new WMUR Granite poll has President Obama
up, believe this or not, 51-41 percent in what we thought would be a very
tight state, a 9-point lead, the same lead he had in 2008. But that`s good
news for him.
Now to Arizona, a state the Democrats have long hoped they could flip,
and the president`s close there. A new Arizona State University poll --
that`s ASU -- has Romney up 42-40, but oh, so close, so tempting for the
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There are 231 delegates at stake
tonight with primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and
Rhode Island. But Mitt Romney`s already looking beyond primary season, of
course. Case in point, the search for a running mate, which officially
began last week when the campaign named long-time Romney aide Beth Myers to
head the process.
Well, last night, "The Daily Show" had some fun with the many
prospective candidates who seem to be saying they aren`t interested. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": If you`re going to pass on the job, at
least recommend someone else to fill it.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We`ve got a lot of really talented
people and -- out there that Mitt Romney`s going to get to pick from. And
I think a lot of them -- you know, Senator Rob Portman -- would be
phenomenal choices for vice president.
STEWART: See? That does it! That`s all right. Marco Rubio says Rob
Portman`s your guy. I don`t know who that is!
STEWART: Let`s see what he has to say about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney/Portman, does that have a ring to it?
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: I think Rubio`s got a better ring.
STEWART: Why does being Romney`s vice president now seem like a dare
nobody wants to take?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Like in high school, dares go first.
MATTHEWS: Of course, denying your interest in it is pretty much pro
forma these days. So what is Mitt Romney looking for in a running mate?
Well, many of the names that are being tossed around seem to help him with
some of his biggest problems, if you will, be it with Latinos or young
voters or his own conservative base -- as if it were his base.
Let`s take a look now at some of those possible veeps in order (ph)
and the gaps they fill for the candidate. Let`s do it with our experts.
Chuck Todd`s NBC`s chief White House correspondent and our chief political
guy, and Major Garrett is the White House correspondent for "The National
Gentlemen -- gentlemen -- let`s start with you, sir, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Let`s start with the one here.
MAJOR GARRETT, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": The only true gentleman on the
MATTHEWS: I keep -- no, I keep hearing this from the right. I don`t
hear it from mainstream journalists like yourself. They say Rubio. I keep
hearing it from the right-wing guys. They say Rubio. Where do you stand
on the pick? How`s it look?
TODD: Well, I tell you, I think he -- he excites the base, the
intellectual conservative base, in a way that I think none of the other
candidates that are being talked about do. So I think that`s number one.
TODD: Number two, clearly, the idea of trying to help on the Latino
front makes Rubio a prime player. You throw in the fact that he`s from a
swing state, and I think his youth is helpful. I think there needs to be -
- the Republican Party needs to show a generational shift. That`s why I
think the idea of either a Paul Ryan or a Marco Rubio does that.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go with...
TODD: The down side is this idea -- has he really been through the
scrutiny that you go through, and you want to do that with somebody that
went through a relatively easy race once Charlie Crist got chased out.
MATTHEWS: Yes, for hugging Obama. Well, talk about a Freudian slip.
Last week, Major...
MATTHEWS: ... you were interviewing Marco Rubio, as we saw in that
picture, about the possibility he would be vice president. And he said
something rather revealing, perhaps. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Three, four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good
job as vice president -- I`m sorry!
RUBIO: If I do a good job as a senator, instead of (INAUDIBLE) I`ll
have a chance to do -- I`ll have a chance to do all sorts of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You do you what I try to do, get them all screwed up so
they start saying what they think!
MATTHEWS: You got him to do what I always try to do! He said, If I
spend the next three, four or five months (SIC) as vice president...
MATTHEWS: ... and do a good job...
GARRETT: Years as vice president. Exactly.
GARRETT: I was accused of using Jedi mind tricks on Senator Rubio.
GARRETT: For the record, ladies and gentlemen, I possess no Jedi mind
MATTHEWS: But you did in that case.
What about him, Rubio? Is he making -- does he put racing stripes on
GARRETT: I don`t think so. And I don`t think Romney is going to pick
Look, I`m out as far as anyone could possibly be on the limb. I have
said Mitt Romney is going to pick Rob Portman.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s move to number two, Rob Portman. He is the
MATTHEWS: ... Ohio, a state Republicans historically must win to win
Here`s how one Republican state chairman described the appeal of Rob
Portman, according to BuzzFeed -- quote -- "He was born to be the guy
standing next to the guy."
MATTHEWS: "He`s the type of guy who ran for vice president of his high
school student council."
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, you first.
GARRETT: Whatever you think about Rob Portman, I make the case on a
couple of levels.
One, twice Senate confirmed. What does that mean?
GARRETT: USTR, U.S. trade representative, and budget director. That
means his FBI file is known to all who care.
MATTHEWS: He`s had a full field.
GARRETT: Which means he will be non-controversial and will not slow
the Romney campaign down if they pick Rob Portman.
What is crucial for Romney is to pick a vice president that checks
several boxes and then he moves on as the alternative to Obama. He cannot
afford two or three weeks about who his running mate is, which I think he
would invite with Rubio, Christie or any of the more charismatic possible
MATTHEWS: But wouldn`t these guys coming together be more like two
puddles of water joining, rather than a spark?
GARRETT: Of course. I said in my column it would be squares squared.
GARRETT: But that`s Romney. That`s the essence of Romney. He cannot
escape that. And trying to graft on to the tree charisma only highlights
the fact that he`s non-charismatic.
And you know as well as I do, Chris, we elect presidents. We do not
election vice presidents.
MATTHEWS: When you go for ice cream cones, he asks for a double
vanilla? Is that what it is like here? I mean Portman.
GARRETT: What did Bill Clinton do in 1992?
MATTHEWS: You have made your point. You have made your point.
TODD: Well, I was just going to say I thought Major was just about to
bring up a ticket that I was going bring up that did just this.
Al Gore was vanilla. And Bill Clinton needed a little vanilla. But
he also wanted the generational change and he was doubling down on what
they thought was his most appealing element, the idea of generational
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
TODD: Let me tell you another thing that helps on Portman. The other
part of this process, whether it`s fair or not to the process, it`s a fact.
And that is Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney`s running mate will get judged
against Sarah Palin. The question, is it for a day, is it for a week, is
it for a month, right, this whole cloud that she leaves over the process a
TODD: Well, if you put Sarah Palin, and I said this earlier today, if
you put her in a -- programmed her into a computer and said, OK, now give
me the exact opposite of Sarah Palin, you would get Rob Portman.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at some other options here,
possibilities. You guys run through them quickly.
Jeb Bush might be popular with conservatives, many people think, but
George Will spent this weekend -- look -- this weekend, took the issue with
the Bush brother as a V.P.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a watch. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WILL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If Jeb Bush is to be Romney`s
running mate, it would mean that in seven of nine presidential elections,
there would be a Bush on the Republican ticket. And it gets hard to argue
that we`re not a tribal society at that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that? Chuck, is it just too many --
the problem is isn`t it -- another problem for Jeb, who I like, is he would
have to defend his brother`s administration. And he`d be like -- his
brother would be like a voodoo doll. Anytime you said anything against W.,
he would have to defend him, whereas Romney can skip it and say, that`s not
TODD: I actually think it`s a little bit of a negative for Portman by
the way is his service in the Bush administration as budget director on the
item they want to do.
But, on Jeb, if you want to look at Hispanic voters, I would make the
argument that Jeb Bush could help more -- Romney more with Hispanics than
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that?
GARRETT: I just think Bush is -- the George Will problem, it`s too
much Bush. And if you`re going to go Florida and you`re going to go
Hispanic, go Rubio. And I don`t think he`s going to there. And if he
doesn`t go Rubio, he`s not going to go Bush.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s look at the couple other interesting -- let`s
talk about more interesting candidates.
You can pick any one you want now -- I`m looking at Chris Christie,
who is certainly interesting.
MATTHEWS: And Condoleezza Rice, who has gotten a little bit of buzz
You first, Chuck. These are very interesting picks. They would
dazzle the country in many ways. Your thoughts.
TODD: They would. And I think you would have an issue of
overshadowing the candidate in a Chris Christie with Mitt Romney, and you
don`t want that as a Romney campaign.
Let me focus on Condi here a minute and this is that issue of I think
Romney would really like to pick a woman running mate. I think it`s not
fair to the other women running mates that they are going to get held to a
Sarah Palin standard, fair or unfair.
MATTHEWS: Well, Condi wouldn`t be.
TODD: That`s right. And she`s the one woman on this list that
She is a political persona before there was -- anybody had ever heard
of Sarah Palin. She`s got a completely political -- she`s completely
politically formed, if you will.
Now, what`s the downside? It is the fact that you might be
relitigating some things in the Bush years. And do you want to do that?
But I think if you really believe he needs to fix his problem with women,
and I tell you, Condi Rice would be both safe and I think could help on
that front -- I just think she`s a long shot, there`s no doubt.
I don`t think -- she`s never been in elective politics and I think
that is a drawback for anybody getting into this business with just three
months` notice. But I think she is intriguing way to go a route for Romney
that I think he could really use.
MATTHEWS: I think so, too.
What do you think?
MATTHEWS: Ed Rollins used to say that she would have been a better
pick for Senate back when Wilson gave up the job out in California.
GARRETT: Probably so.
MATTHEWS: Years ago, he spotted her talent
GARRETT: I think Condi has a couple of other problems.
Mitt Romney will have some serious governing issues and they`re all
going to be economic. Mitt -- Condoleezza Rice offers nothing particular
in either communicating to the House or the Senate or getting votes or
working the system to help him on economic or trade issues.
That`s why I think he will go for someone like Rob Portman because the
economy is crucial. Chris Christie offers no reassurance whatsoever to
social conservatives. He`s bad on guns, he`s bad on abortion, he`s bad on
the whole front...
MATTHEWS: How is he bad on abortion?
GARRETT: Because`s pro-choice.
MATTHEWS: He is? No, he`s not. He`s pro-life.
GARRETT: Well, he has got a complicated issue -- history on the life
issue. And I don`t think he offers any reassurance to social
conservatives. And Romney already has problems there. And I think
MATTHEWS: No. I agree with you on Portman. Portman is doubling down
in the fashion, by the way, of Bill Clinton. And it worked. Double down
on what your strengths are.
MATTHEWS: Dick Nixon did it.
GARRETT: Paul Ryan would be the same. You could do -- you could
argue the same thing with Paul Ryan. You could.
MATTHEWS: That`s right. Carries a lot of weight, carries a lot of
baggage, though, with all that plan. You have got to defend every element
in that Ryan plan, right, if you do...
GARRETT: I think he is doing it anyway.
GARRETT: And I think that that is why he might as well have the guy
who is better at defending it, frankly, than having to do it yourself.
MATTHEWS: Do you have a pick, Chuck? Do you have a -- Chuck -- do
you have a pick, Chuck?
TODD: Well, I think it`s going to be a short list of Portman. I
think you will see a woman on the short list that gets seriously vetted.
My gut is that it`s Kelly Ayotte out in New Hampshire, it`s something he`s
And then I would say Tim Pawlenty I think will end up on the short
list. I think he would love to put a Midwestern governor on the ticket.
There`s no sitting Midwestern governor that makes a lot of sense.
TODD: But Pawlenty may make a lot of sense as a former.
MATTHEWS: OK. Great. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot. Great talk here,
great thinking here at this time of year. It`s only April.
GARRETT: Three months...
MATTHEWS: He ain`t going to tell us until then.
By the way -- it`s the only thing interesting about Romney right now.
By the way, polls close in four of tonight`s primary states 8:00 p.m.
tonight. And at 9:00 tonight in New York, NBC will have full complete
results for you here on MSNBC and we will be giving them to you throughout
the evening in our regular programming.
Up next: As Mitt Romney decides on a running mate, wait until you
hear Rudy Giuliani`s diagnosis of what went wrong with Sarah Palin.
Actually, I don`t believe a word of what Rudy says here. That`s next in
You`re watching it, HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
First up, it`s the one Mitt Romney story that stood the test of time,
the dog on the car roof story. So Romney`s people have come up with a
Here`s Stephen Colbert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": The Romney campaign has
found an Obama dog story even more damaging.
Listen to Obama`s own voice describe food his stepfather fed him as a
small child in Indonesia.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And away from the
dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat, tough, snake meat, tougher, and
roasted grasshopper, crunchy.
COLBERT: That was Obama`s bestselling book. It was either "Dreams
From My Father" or the sequel, "Dog Meat From My Stepfather."
COLBERT: I believe anything that President Obama did as a 10-year-old
is the same as anything Romney did as an adult.
COLBERT: And I have found a explosive photographic evidence that he
COLBERT: Someone has to help that woman. Call SEAL Team 6.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "The Atlantic" has dug up the history of presidents`
dogs who become part of the fray. Here`s LBJ with his dog named Him,
picking Him up by the ears. That sparked some outrage.
As a vice presidential candidate back in 1952, Richard Nixon of course
gave his highly successful Checkers speech. Nixon had won, won big by
saying his dog Checkers was a gift and his family wasn`t going to give it
back, no matter what those big-shot critics said.
The best dog story of all was when Republicans attacked FDR for giving
his dog Fala a free ride on a Navy ship. His Fala speech, by the way, one
of the best speeches in history, one that helped win him a fourth term.
Finally, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has come out with his
endorsement of Mitt Romney, very timely, yesterday, despite the fact that
he`s had harsh words about Romney over the years. And this morning, Rudy
weighed in on the veepstakes of the last election.
What does he say would have helped Sarah Palin?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: If they are going
to select somebody fairly new, then that person should be selected early.
If you will remember, by the time Sarah Palin got to the debate with
Biden, she was a heck of a good candidate. Now, if she had had three
months to prepare, I think you would have seen a very -- you would see the
Sarah Palin of today.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": She still won that debate, I think.
GIULIANI: Yes. And, you know, that took like three weeks of
preparations. You do two months of preparation, what a difference there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What an idiotic conversation that was. Do you believe
either side of that conversation, that Rudy Giuliani really believes that
three months of prep would have changed everything? I don`t believe a word
Up next, back to school.
I don`t believe he believed it.
Back to school. President Obama goes back to college. He`s hitting
three of them in two days to energize the youth vote. Young voters came
out in record numbers four years ago, but are they as enthusiastic for him
this time? Apparently not.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Mandy Drury with your CNBC
Well, the Dow gained 74 points, barely hanging on to the 13000 mark,
the S&P 500 up by five, the Nasdaq however down by 9. Well, positive
earnings reports from Dow components AT&T, 3M and United Technologies
hoping to boost stocks. Meantime, new home sales slid by 7.1 percent in
March, but that was not as bad as economists were expecting.
And then, of course, after the bell, Apple reported second-quarter
earnings that far exceeded expectations, sending its shares up in after-
And that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now it`s back
over to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
President Obama hit the road this week as he visits colleges in key
swing states to press for Congress to act on student loans and avoid a jump
in interest rates for over seven million students. By the way, those rates
are going to go up this summer by double.
The youth vote is essential to the president`s path to victory of
course and there`s both good and bad news on that front. The good news,
Obama leads Mitt Romney among voters 18 to 34 in our latest "Wall Street
Journal"/NBC poll -- that`s pretty hefty -- by convincing 60 percent to 34
percent, almost 2-1.
The bad news, though, is that voters in that age group I just
mentioned don`t have as much zeal about voting this time as they did four
years ago, when 63 percent considered themselves highly interested four
years ago. Today that`s down to 45 percent, a real slump in interest.
With me right now are two top political reporters from "The Washington
Post." Nia-Malika Henderson, that`s the -- she`s on the left. Chris
Cillizza is on the left. He`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
Just kidding. You`re easily distinguishable.
MATTHEWS: ... distinguishable, Chris.
I got a great factoid from you which I got from you today. What was
the key issue helping the president among young voters? Was it the number
of them that turned out or was it the sweep with which he carried them?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
What I think a lot of people say, oh, well, the youth vote carried
Obama. And that`s true. But it`s a misnomer in a way. It wasn`t more...
MATTHEWS: You like it build it up, don`t you, before...
CILLIZZA: I do.
MATTHEWS: You don`t just answer my question.
CILLIZZA: No, no, I`m trying to extend my time to talk.
CILLIZZA: In 2008, 18 percent of the electorate was 18 to 29. In
2004, 2000, and 1996, it was 17 percent, so marginal difference.
MATTHEWS: He didn`t increase the balloon of voters.
CILLIZZA: No, but he won those 18-to-29s by 32 points, which is
vastly more. Bill Clinton in 1996 I think came the closest. He won by 19.
So he won them by such a big margin, it mattered more. It wasn`t that more
of them voted.
MATTHEWS: OK. This time around, in 2012, he has to maintain that 17
percent or 18 percent percentage of them showing up. And he has to hold on
to them against Romney, who will probably have, if minority, support among
B-school types, business school types.
I would think people who are thinking I`m going to out there in the
equity market and make some money, that small percentage will probably love
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON
POST": That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Of the students.
HENDERSON: Yes. That`s the message that they`re carrying on the
economy. And this is the message we see them carrying trying to get all
the demographics, whether it`s young people...
MATTHEWS: It always business.
HENDERSON: ... whether it`s immigrants and Latinos. It`s always
about the economy. And we saw him...
MATTHEWS: No, it`s always about business solutions to the economy.
HENDERSON: That`s right.
HENDERSON: It`s all about small business...
CILLIZZA: It`s about a businessman`s perspective, rather than a
politician`s perspective. That`s broadly...
HENDERSON: Right. And you see Obama doing very different things
trying to reach these students where they live with the small -- with
student loans. And also...
MATTHEWS: Who was the only president this history to have a B-school
HENDERSON: I don`t know.
CILLIZZA: George W. Bush
MATTHEWS: W., the guy take took through the worst economic
MATTHEWS: By the way, the other guy was the great engineer, Hoover.
He was really good.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the president took a populist tone today at UNC,
where I went to grad school. What a fabulous place. We call it the
Southern part of heaven.
He spoke about student loans, reminding the audience out there of
young people it wasn`t so long ago that he was still carrying debt himself,
student loans, in fact, a veiled reference to Mitt Romney, who never had a
loan to go to college. I`m sure it was another shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is something Michelle and I know about firsthand. I just
want everybody here to understand, this is not -- I didn`t just read about
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I didn`t just...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: ... I didn`t just get some talking points about this.
I didn`t just get a policy briefing on this. Michelle and I, we`ve
been in your shoes. Like I said, we didn`t come from wealthy families. So
we -- when we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of
debt. When we married, we got poor together.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: But we only finished paying off our student loans -- check
this out? I`m the president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We only finished paying off our student loans about eight
years ago. That wasn`t that long ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t think Mr. Romney robot could do that.
HENDERSON: No. He -- I mean, this is vintage Obama. He`s got a little
bit of the Baptist preacher in this.
MATTHEWS: And also, where did he learn that rhythm? He didn`t go to
HENDERSON: He obviously went to Baptist churches when he was in
Chicago and work with church folks there. And he`s probably going to
highlight, too, polls show that these young folks really value community
Ands you imagine that he`s going to start telling that and that will
be a big contrast between Romney. He`s going to talk about his community
service like he was --
MATTHEWS: Yes. By the way, did you see the numbers today? Maybe I
got another notes today, but 15 percent of this country -- counting
everybody in this country, everybody watching, have student loans
outstanding. Like one in six people watching still owe money to college.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST: And I would point out, Romney
did a press conference yesterday with Marco Rubio, the first one he`s done
since March 16th, just FYI. And he came back at the end of the press
conference and said, hey, just FYI, I support the extension of these low
interest rates. That is not --
MATTHEWS: Takes it down just for parents watching, students
watching, it takes it down from it could balloon up to 6-some percent, it`s
keeping down at 3 percent. By the way, I paid 3 back in the old days.
Let`s take a look at this. At UNC, something hot, we wanted to get a
college tour with the president. Here he is, the president, with Jimmy
Fallon of "Late Night" tonight. Let`s watch a portion of it. It`s pretty
good stuff here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the
44th president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
FALLON: Do you know Mitt Romney?
OBAMA: I`ve met him. But we`re not friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You pick it out of here, singing Al Green.
CILLIZZA: I mean, remember, that`s the -- it went viral, him singing
"I`m So In Love with You," Al Green song --
CILLIZZA: -- you know, which proves he is, you know, a talented guy.
The one thing I would point out --
MATTHEWS: He does have a good style of singing. He can actually do
the rainbow room.
CILLIZZA: This is important. He is cool. Mitt Romney is not cool.
That doesn`t mean --
MATTHEWS: Let`s not lean against Romney.
Here`s Romney -- just to disprove (ph) your theory -- here is Romney
up in Pennsylvania just yesterday. Here`s Mitt Romney, the candidate
running against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I fully support the effort
to extend the low interest rate on student loans. There was some concern
that that would expire halfway through the year. And I -- I support
extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students, in part
because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Can you dig it? I knew that you could. I mean, was that
the least cool guy?
HENDERSON: Very different from President Obama.
MATTHEWS: That`s not putting on a show.
HENDERSON: And very different from President Obama`s testimony about
his own experiences.
CILLIZZA: I don`t mean to say pejoratively that Mitt Romney isn`t
cool. Barack Obama is, but --
MATTHEWS: I have to pick up on time.
HENDERSON: I think this cool factor, I think the kids would call it
having swagger, is important to these young folks. They`re not at the
point where they`re wearing t-shirts for Barack Obama anymore, but I do
think they can identify, because he`s a guy who fills out his brackets.
MATTHEWS: He`s going to have to pick up a lot of angry old people to
make up with these kids, then, right?
MATTHEWS: OK. We`ll see. Anyway, thank you, Nia-Malika Henderson.
It`s great to have you on always.
And, Chris Cillizza, I read you all the time, you know, about five
times a week.
Up next, Republicans want you to believe that illegal immigration is
out of control under President Obama. The trouble is, it`s actually not
out of control. There are fewer legal immigrants from Mexico, for example,
which people talk about all the time, a million less now than they were a
while ago, which is really kind of counter intuitive given all the
That`s all ahead. This is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: New developments in the Secret Service scandal. Two more
Secret Service agents will resign today. That`s according to several
sources with knowledge with the investigation. Two more out. In addition,
two agents will be cleared of serious misconduct -- that`s good news -- but
will face administration acts. And a fifth will have security clearance
taken away, which will require him to leave the agency. Bad news for him.
What a bad story again. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back for all the talk from the right wing, of
course, about all our porous border problems in the south, the Obama
administration has, according to them, failed to tackle an every growing
Here`s a surprising new report from the Pew Hispanic Center. It
shows that the number of Mexicans living illegally in the United States is
actually in serious decline. The number dropped from 7 million in 2007 to
about 6.1 million last year. That`s a million drop of the people here
It`s the first time in four decades that number has actually receded.
Well, immigration, of course, can remain a hot button issue in this
election year, especially this week. The Senate held a hearing on
Arizona`s immigration law today, the tough new immigration law out there.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on it tomorrow, and that`s going to
United States Senator Dick Durbin is a Democrat from Illinois. He
sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible, of course,
for immigration and border control problems.
So, Senator, I`m going to give you some time here. This, of course,
one of the most difficult questions we face in this country. It ain`t
anywhere near a solution, the Senate, well before you got there, past
Simpson-Mazzoli, that was never really given any teeth, never really had
any enforcement power.
What are we going to do here in terms of Arizona, the alternative to
Arizona, and the long-term dealing with the issue? How`s it look?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first, let me tell you, I can
understand the sentiment across the United States -- frustration that we
don`t have an immigration reform law, and we need it. With millions in
America undocumented, with many who have lived here for a long time, have
families and established themselves in communities, we really need to come
up with the standard, that is the responsibility of Congress and the
Not meeting that responsibility, some states are moving on their own.
That`s the Arizona story.
I think what Arizona`s done is a violation of the Constitution. The
Constitution is a supreme law of the land. The Constitution specifies that
the federal government has the responsibility when it comes to immigration.
And when it comes to the question of whether a state can supersede it
or go around it, I don`t think there`s even any doubt. We`ll find out what
the Supreme Court thinks.
The point I tried to make at the hearing today for Russell Pearce who
was there, the author of the Arizona law, is, I asked him to take a look at
six of his fellow Arizona residents, all of whom are eligible for the DREAM
Act, all of whom are in college or have advanced college degrees, and I
told each and every one of them could be arrested under his law. Is that
what his goal is?
MATTHEWS: Well, the question, just to be fair, is it the law -- I
went back and read it again this afternoon. The law says that in the act
of stopping someone from a possible criminal misdemeanor violation, a
highway patrolman, for example, they are required to make a reasonable
effort to determine whether the person is in the country or not, legally or
Is it -- how would you like that police to behave differently in that
particular situation under the law?
DURBIN: I think --
MATTHEWS: Should they check your -- should they look at your ID
card, driver`s license and give it a special look if they think the
personal is not here legally? Should the police officer do? Act like they
think you are here legally or what? How would you like to see them behave
different under the law?
DURBIN: Chris, let me tell you, first. I have the greatest respect
for law enforcement. I`m sure you do, too. When they put that badge in
the morning on their breast, they are literally risking their lives for
you, and me and for everyone else. That`s why the Arizona law is so
We had a chief of police at a hearing last week before the
Constitution Subcommittee from east Palo Alto, California, Ron Davis, and
he said, the way this law is written in Arizona, it is written to profile
Latinos. That is something we should never do in the United States.
We shouldn`t be calling people out and calling them over to the side
of the road simply because they appear to be driving Hispanic. The bottom
line here --
MATTHEWS: That`s not what the law says. The law says if they are
badly driving, they`re driving recklessly, and you do stop them, you can
then ask. Maybe that`s a technical difference, but it`s not -- you`re not
It says specifically in number three, I think, in the provisions, you
are not to act according to a person`s ethnicity, race, background. You
can`t do that legally. That`s what it says under the law, at least.
DURBIN: But I can tell you that it maybe a distinction without a
difference. What we are also seeing also in the law is a requirement
subject to civil penalties. If a law enforcement agency, police department
doesn`t enforce this law as written.
DURBIN: So there is some pressure on the law enforcement agents to
look for those who may be in violation of the law. What it says is
reasonable suspicion that they are in this country illegally, undocumented.
And when they "The Arizona Post," which is a group of law enforcement
that kind of spells out detail, they said, well, here`s what you ought to
look for. Look at the way they dress. Look at their language, how they
MATTHEWS: Yes, I did, too.
DURBIN: And determine whether that is part of the calculation. You
know, that is perilously close to profiling, if it isn`t profiling per se.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you so much. Senator Dick Durbin of
Illinois -- thank you for coming on. I see the problem you have with this
bill. It looks like the Supreme Court may have the same problem.
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the failure of both parties to
deal with two big issues: immigration and the national debt.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:
I generally have faith in our democracy to meet this country`s
purposes. What I fear in trying not to let me down is that it lacks the
nerve to face the long-term challenges, the big two: debt and, of course,
the night we talked about it, immigration.
I don`t think you can call yourselves government if you can`t keep
your books. And I certainly don`t think you can call yourself a country if
you can`t control your borders. After all, these are fundamental to
governance and to nationhood, aren`t they?
I look at the debt problem and I don`t see the two parties getting
together, do you? I don`t see it between them now and the election doing
it, and I don`t seem them getting together after the election. To get
control of the rising debt, you have to reconcile spending and revenue at
some point. Otherwise you keep on adding debt, right? You have to decide
how much you are willing to tax people and spend that amount, I think,
don`t you? Or you have to decide how much you should spend and then raise
revenues up to that amount, don`t you?
The arithmetic is easy. The politics seems hopeless.
The Republicans, if they ran the entire government all by themselves,
would find it impossible to do it because they would end up cutting
programs like Medicare with such brutality that they would cease to control
government in the next election. Would Democrats deal with that if they
had complete control of the government? I wonder if the public would put
up with the tax level they might impose, don`t you?
So you`ve got a problem and it`s similar in immigration. Put
Republicans in complete control of immigration, they might be draconian and
start deporting people or putting so much economic pressure on them that
they would, in Governor Romney`s great phrase, self deport. But would this
society stand for people having lived here generations thrown out of
country? Would they?
Would Democrats ever deal with immigration, would they ever put in
effect real enforcement that stops the flow each night over the border? I
wonder, would they ever do it without the political pressure of Republicans
pounding them if they didn`t? I doubt it.
So here eat problem. If either party can be trusted to solve these
looming questions by themselves, and if the two parties can`t get together
to solve them, when will the problems be solved? I`ve just given you the
reasons for my fears.
Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. Not nice to think about, but true.
Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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