updated 5/9/2012 2:28:45 PM ET 2012-05-09T18:28:45

Guests: Amanda Drury, Ron Reagan, Jane Harman, Barney Frank, Chris Smith, David Brock, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mitt Romney says hide the gays.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Why are Republicans still closeting gay people? Quote, "Rick, the campaign
has requested you not speak on this call. It`s best to lay low for now."

With those ominous words, the right wing took out the Romney
campaign`s openly gay foreign policy strategist. Having just been hired,
Richard Grenell was told to hide.

Why is Mitt Romney letting a top adviser get silenced because of his
sexual orientation? Why won`t he stand up and say, I want Richard Grenell
to stay in my campaign? Here`s Romney`s chance to show he`s not afraid of
the right -- that is, if he isn`t afraid.

Also, what happens after you win a brutal primary process in which
you`ve carpet-bombed your opponents? Well, for Mitt Romney, you get a
bunch of pathetic "It could be worse" endorsements from people like Newt
Gingrich. Does anybody really like this guy?

Plus, the Chinese dissident. Republicans are on the attack. Why this
could be a big moment, for better or worse, for Hillary Clinton.

And the Congress that can`t do anything. Two scholars say blame the
Republicans. Quote, "It is ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise,
unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science, and
dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition." Wow. They`re
saying it out loud, the Republicans are the problem. Barney Frank joins us
for that one.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with this pathetic assault by Romney on
former president Jimmy Carter.

We begin tonight with Romney`s openly gay foreign policy adviser, who
quit the campaign after pressure from the right. David Brock is the
founder of Media Matters and Ron Reagan is an MSNBC political analyst.
Thank you both for joining us.

Let me -- David Brock, you`ve really put a lot of thought and a lot of
work over your career lately in trying to fight this kind of bigotry. The
Republican Party has a large organization. It`s called the Log Cabin
Republicans. We had the head of it on the other night. I`ve been speaking
to that group for years. They exist. There are gay Republicans!

Why do they take the guy they just named as their -- one of their
chief foreign policy spokespeople and say, You can`t talk anymore?


MATTHEWS: And then he quit.

BROCK: There`s a long history of this. The pressure groups on the
right, going back to the time the Soviet Union was dissolved -- you know,
they decided to demonize gay people.

And I remember when I was in the conservative movement back in the
`90s, Newt Gingrich comparing gays to alcoholics, the magazine I used to
work for saying that victims of AIDS were like rats.

So this is a long time coming. Right now, these pressure groups that
criticized Rick Grenell are not fringe groups. It`s welcome to today`s
Republican Party. The Media Research Center, "The National Review," Gary
Bauer, the American Family Association has two million members and they`re
on 200 radio stations around the country. So this is what the party is.

MATTHEWS: It`s become that.

BROCK: It is...


MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Ron on this because I want to et some
thought. Ron, you`re thinking about this. Growing up in a Republican
family -- one thing I really liked about your family, although they`re
conservative, your parents, they didn`t have any problem with gay people.
This -- this whole thing has gotten to be -- metamorphasizing into this
weird witch hunt thing going on. Your thoughts.

has, but this isn`t entirely new. And it goes back farther than the `80s
or `90s. Since the Civil Rights era, the Republican Party has been a haven
for bigots. That is not to say that all Republicans are bigots. Far from
it. But it has provided a refuge for bigots and it has exploited their
fear and anger.

It could be communists, of course. It could be African-Americans,
Mexicans, women who want to stand up for their rights. But the most
reliable "they" that the Republican Party has had -- and there is always a
"they" in the Republican Party that`s out there to undo family values and
somehow drag down the America of their dreams.

The most reliable "they" are gay people. Gay people will always --
and are still -- still to this day are people who under certain
circumstances can be demonized, and they are demonized on the right.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Allen West down in -- was it Florida? -- hasn`t
gotten the message yet. He`s still going after the -- what he calls the 81
communists in the Democratic caucus.

Anyway, let`s get back to the serious business. I worked on Capitol
Hill for years, as you know. I knew a lot of gay people worked up there.
They were part of the -- as somebody said to me today, that place would
close down if they didn`t have gay people working there, at all levels,
from the robo rooms to the top aides. They were all over the place on both
sides of the aisle, right?

So how do these guys and women survive culturally, socially, morally
in an environment where this kind of gay bashing still goes on as of this
moment? Because Mitt Romney will not defend this guy. He will not say,
Come back to the campaign. Right now, if he`s watching this show, Governor
Romney, ask the guy to come back, we stop talking about it.

BROCK: Right.

MATTHEWS: But he won`t.

BROCK: Well, a couple points. One, you know, Rick Grenell`s mistake
was not being gay, it was being -- having the self-respect to say he was
gay. And you know, again...

MATTHEWS: So it`s all right if you`re in the closet.

BROCK: It`s fine if you`re in the closet. It was fine when I was in
the closet.

MATTHEWS: What about the glass closet?


MATTHEWS: Your boss knows it, everybody around you knows it...

BROCK: Sure, and...

MATTHEWS: ... but it`s not on television.

BROCK: Sure. I mean, there`s basically two kinds of people in the
Republican Party, the ones that OK with it, but then when the question is
called, there`s cynical pandering. And that`s what we`re seeing here.

MATTHEWS: What do the aides say?

BROCK: And the other`s a really bigoted...

MATTHEWS: What do the top aides say...


MATTHEWS: ... when their bosses say, Put out another release bashing
gays, put out another release saying you`re against gay marriage. What do
the top aides said when they got to write this crap?

BROCK: Well, look, I mean, they`re running the campaign they`re
running. And Mitt Romney is running an anti-gay campaign. He contributed
to the National Organization for Marriage. He signed their anti-gay
pledge, just like Gingrich...

MATTHEWS: By the way, is there any pledge he won`t sign?

BROCK: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: This guy`s...


BROCK: He`s going to speak at Liberty University next...

MATTHEWS: He signs everything! He would have been great during the
time of Henry VIII. He would have been right up there.

Here`s Mark McKinnon, by the way, former Bush campaign adviser.
Here`s what he said about Romney`s decision not to stand by his now former
spokesman, as of the other day. Let`s watch.


people like me would like to see Mitt Romney stand up and say, I don`t care
what people think. This is my guy, I`m standing behind him, and I want him
out front. And you know, we need to see more examples of that because what
people ultimately want in a president is somebody who`s strong and somebody
who`s bold, has clear convictions and stands behind his decisions.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Jim Talent, the former senator from Missouri
and a campaign adviser to Mitt Romney right now. He said this about
Grenell`s departure. Quote, "People with the kind of expertise that Rick
has don`t grow on trees. It`s a real setback for us, I think."

Ron, back to you. Again, it`s -- remember when Bill Clinton, who
wanted to show his guts, had that Sister Souljah moment, where he stood up
against people that were normally on his side? Reverend Jackson didn`t
like it too much. But he did do it. This -- I don`t like displays or
street theater. This is an opportunity for true guts.

REAGAN: Well, exactly. He...

MATTHEWS: Governor Romney could say, This guy`s my team -- he`s on my
team, he`s staying on my team. And he won`t do it as we speak.

REAGAN: He missed an opportunity and he gave himself a longer-term
problem. This was a chance for him to shake up the Etch-a-Sketch, for him
to say to the people who he`s been pandering to for the last few months,
I`ve got a line I won`t cross and don`t you think that you can bully me
forever here. I`m now pivoting to the general election, and I`m not going
to pander to you anymore.

In not doing that, he gave himself a long-term problem, which is these
people are now emboldened. They`ve now seen that they can dictate who he
has on his staff. And they`re going to start making more numerous and more
onerous demands as the convention approaches.

MATTHEWS: So you think there`s going to be a blacklist now.

REAGAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: Pink list, if you will, whatever they`re going to call it,
they`re going after any ledge (ph) they can use.

REAGAN: Yes, in all sorts of ways, not just in going after gay
people, but other things, as well.

MATTHEWS: David, this is a question because, you know, we`ve gone
through real policy debates. We`re going to have an ongoing debate, which
is a legitimate debate, over marriage. It`s going to go on. It`s probably
going to be state by state, you know, unless that brilliant lawyer team is
able to do something...

BROCK: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... Boies and what`s the other guy...

BROCK: Ted Olson.

MATTHEWS: ... and Olson are able to win the case in the high court.
But that`s going to be a while. So it`s a legitimate debate. We can argue
about marriage. People take both sides. I think it`s growing towards --
the numbers show most people are for it.

But when you have things like open service happening now -- we finally
got away with "Don`t ask, don`t tell."

BROCK: Right.

MATTHEWS: And it seems like that`s a real question about patriotism
and the right to serve your country. It seems like that`s one that`s
pretty easy to come out for, you know?

BROCK: It should be.

MATTHEWS: And we have people serving openly in our military, but they
can`t serve openly in the Romney campaign?

BROCK: That`s right. I mean...

MATTHEWS: I mean, think about that!

BROCK: It should be a reasonable position. But you look at Mitt
Romney`s record, and he`s been on both sides of these issues. Remember
when he said he was going to be more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy...


BROCK: ... back when he ran against Kennedy? He`s been on both sides
of "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" on -- and on civil unions, on gay adoption.

MATTHEWS: So what are people that you talk to -- maybe you know some
people. What do they say he believes?

BROCK: Well, that`s a good question because when you review the
record, he`s on both sides of so many issues.



MATTHEWS: ... asking you the question, What do people think he

BROCK: OK, well...

MATTHEWS: Do they think he`s a bigot? Do they think he`s...


BROCK: What matters maybe is not what he believes but what he does.


BROCK: And he won`t stand up today for Rick Grenell, and that sends a
message, a very clear message that he`s do what`s politically expedient.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think the point -- you don`t need a larger point
than a person being anti-gay, Ron. But here`s a thought. There`s a
pattern here. We saw it with tax policy. He`ll sign anything that Grover
Norquist puts in front of him. I`m not going to do anything on taxes.

On foreign policy, he talks about Iran, which is almost crazy, he`s so
hawkish. He brought on good people, but they`re certainly on the hard
right of the Republican Party, like Dan Senor, and people like that around
him now. So he`s going in that direction.

Now on the cultural front, he`s doing it here again. It seems like
there`s nothing he won`t say yes to if they don`t say no to him. In other
words, if it means they`re going to say no to him, he says yes to them.

REAGAN: Yes. Absolutely. And people do look for a president who has
convictions, and this man doesn`t seem to have convictions.

And in terms of the Republican Party itself, this is a deadly issue
for them.


REAGAN: It`s a generational thing. Old people are afraid of gay
people. Younger people, people, you know, my age and younger, are not.
They`re shrugging their shoulders and saying, Why is anybody making a big
deal out of this?


REAGAN: And they look at people who do make a big deal out of it and
think they`re a little creepy.

MATTHEWS: And you know what? You know what`s a problem here. Last
thought. If he were a true conservative -- Romney -- he`d be able to say,
OK, this is where I draw the line and I`m differing with you guys. I think
we ought to have -- I`m a libertarian on this one.

BROCK: Right.

MATTHEWS: I`m with gay people because they`re the way God made them
and they have the right to be Americans as much as any of us. I know you
know I`m a conservative.

But since he`s not seen as an authentic conservative, right...

BROCK: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: ... he has to keep proving himself.

BROCK: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: And that`s the danger here.

BROCK: He has a problem with his space and that`s what he`s doing.

MATTHEWS: If he were Nixon, he could go to China.

BROCK: That`s right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: But he ain`t Nixon to go to China because nobody really
thinks he is anything, really. So therefore, he can`t cross the line to do
something really dramatic. It`s just another example of...


BROCK: He could not get away with it.

MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s so scary! Anyway, thank you, David Brock. It`s
great to have you on, sir. Ron, as always, thanks for coming on.

REAGAN: You bet.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Michele Bachmann`s the latest big name
Republican to endorse Mitt Romney. She actually did it full-throated,
unlike the other guys. By the way, 119 days after she quit the race, she`s
come around to Mitt. Boy, she`s enthusiastic.

Anyway, after Romney carpet-bombed his opponents with negative ads,
it`s probably no wonder they`re in no hurry to endorse this guy. There`s
no love lost here and probably not a lot of admiration. And that`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling data from key battleground
states in the presidential election. Let`s check the HARDBALL

In Florida, the race is tightening. According to the new Quinnipiac
poll, Mitt Romney is ahead there, he`s inched ahead, Romney 44, Obama 43,
virtual draw.

Now to Ohio, where again the race is getting closer. This time, it`s
Obama up by 2, 44-42. What a race this is going to be. In Pennsylvania,
the president`s opening up, however, a lead. It`s Obama by 47 to 39.
However, that`s not 51 yet.

And in Wisconsin, a new Marquette Law School poll has Obama up by 9,
51-42. This is fascinating. Some of the more reliably Democratic states
getting more reliable, but those dividing (ph) states, those -- those
troublesome states that are always hard to pick, Ohio and Florida, as Tim
Russert used to call them, are the deciders.

We`ll be right back.



be able to be here to introduce not only Governor Bob McDonnell, the
fabulous governor of the state of Virginia, but also to lend my voice and
my endorsement to Mitt Romney as our president to take the country back!



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Today, it`s 119 days after she
dropped out of the race. Michele Bachmann there endorsed Mitt Romney. But
how seriously can we take these endorsements from someone like her, who
said this shortly before she quit the race?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, can he beat Obama?

BACHMANN: No. He can`t beat Obama because...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can`t beat Obama?

BACHMANN: ... because his policy is the basis of "Obama care."


MATTHEWS: This is why people really trust politicians! Anyway,
endorsements of Mitt Romney from former candidates and party leaders have
been grudging and unenthusiastic, probably partly the result of being
victimized by team Romney`s carpet bombing of negative and misleading ads.
How do you flip from blood sport politics to team unity?

That`s our question for "The Strategists" tonight, Republican and
Democrat, or in this case, Democrat and Republican. Steve McMahon`s a
Democratic strategist and Todd Harris is a Republican strategist.

By the way, just in a moment, a nanosecond of humility on my part, I
thought Michele Bachmann had a good shot.

could have told you.


MATTHEWS: I thought she -- she`s very attractive. I thought she had
a great, positive message, a conservative message, but -- Christian
message, but it seems to be a very appealing message, and I don`t think she
had the right campaign.

HARRIS: She was -- I mean, she was all the rage for a short period of
time. And then, you know...

MATTHEWS: I know she was the...

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She got a look. She got a look
in Iowa, and she could have actually run off with it, but when she got the
look, she wasn`t ready. She couldn`t answer the questions that the
journalists had and people...

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the personal, and then we`ll get to the
more grand. Here`s Newt Gingrich giving his, I would say, less than
rousing praise for Mitt Romney just yesterday. There`s a certain note that
you get from all these guys who have run against Romney. Here it is. Same
as last time. Let`s listen.


I`m asked sometimes, Is Mitt Romney conservative enough? And my answer is
simple. Compared to Barack Obama? You know, this is not a choice between
Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, these ads could explain Gingrich`s restraint.
The Romney PAC -- it`s called Restore Our Future -- jammed the airwaves in
Iowa in late December with this. Let`s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Know what makes Barack Obama happy? Newt
Gingrich`s baggage. He has more baggage than the airlines.

Ever notice how some people make a lot of mistakes?

GINGRICH: It was probably a mistake.

I made a mistake.

I`ve made mistakes at times.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far, Newt Gingrich has admitted his mistakes
or flipped on teaming up with Nancy Pelosi, immigration, Medicare, health


MATTHEWS: Well, when Rick Santorum was surging in February, the
Romney campaign gave Santorum the Gingrich treatment with ads like this one
coming here. Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who has the right experience? Mitt Romney helped
create thousands of jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rick Santorum is called the ultimate Washington

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney rescued the Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Santorum was in Washington, voting to raise the
debt limit five times.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Rick Santorum squirming to avoid endorsing
Romney. Let`s watch.


PIERS MORGAN, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Do you believe that Mitt
Romney`s the right guy?

believe he`s the better -- obviously, I believed I was the better choice,
but I`m not in this race anymore, so...

MORGAN: But he`s won the race.

SANTORUM: He`s won the race.

MORGAN: Is he, therefore, the right guy?

SANTORUM: Yes. Absolutely. He`s -- he`s the -- he`s the person that
-- that is going to go up against Barack Obama. It`s pretty clear. And we
-- we need to win this race. We need to defeat Barack Obama.

MORGAN: Well, that`s an endorsement, isn`t it? Unless I`m mishearing


MORGAN: You just endorsed Mitt Romney.

SANTORUM: Well, if that`s what you want to call it, you can call it
whatever you want.


MATTHEWS: God, it`s like a guy slow talking in a hearing. What is
this about Romney that makes people who have run against him hate him?

HARRIS: Well...

MATTHEWS: No, they hate him.

HARRIS: Look, it was a tough, tough primary. And you don`t run for
president without having an outsized ego to begin with, and Mitt Romney
vanquished every single one of these guys. And so it -- it shouldn`t come
as a surprise...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) in the debates. He outscored them with charm
and charisma.


HARRIS: He beat them fair and square.

MATTHEWS: How did he do it?

HARRIS: He beat them fair and square.


MCMAHON: You know...

MATTHEWS: But there`s a reason they hate him.


MATTHEWS: They think he`s an empty suit. And number two, he has so
much money with these super-PACs that waste these guys.

HARRIS: It needs to be pointed out that Newt Gingrich, who has
compared himself to Moses and George Washington, that he`s not very happy
about the fact that he was defeated by Mitt Romney. So I don`t think
anyone should read...

MATTHEWS: OK, John McCain hated him just as much. John McCain hated
him so much, he wouldn`t put him on his ticket last time. He picked Sarah

HARRIS: Yes, and John McCain...


HARRIS: ... has been campaigning all across the country for Mitt

MCMAHON: Chris is right...

MATTHEWS: Because he hates Obama now.


MCMAHON: The people...



MCMAHON: The people who run against Mitt Romney come out of the
campaign with a bad taste in their mouth. He tends to win, but they don`t
think he stands for anything.

He flip-flops all over the place. And when you believe that you`re
somebody of principled stands, like Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or any
of the people who ran against him, and you get beat by -- by somebody who
you don`t think has that, and -- and the way it`s done is with super PACs
and mysterious money popping up out of nowhere with negative ads that have
no signature on them, then you`re understandably bitter.


MCMAHON: This was the most negative Republican primary in history.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go the issue of ideology. I am not a
conservative, OK?

MCMAHON: Are you kidding?


MATTHEWS: Fair enough. OK.


MATTHEWS: But I know what one is, and I have watched them, deep-down
conservatives. They`re just like liberals. They are gut conservatives,
like liberals are gut liberals. They have a feeling about it.

It`s not something they have argue or think about in the middle of the
-- in the middle of the night, they wake up worrying about deficits,
worrying about (INAUDIBLE) and all these -- they have deep feelings, deep
feelings, sometimes immigration. These are not the things they can fake.

They think Romney is a fake. And you know that`s true. They think
Romney is a fake.


HARRIS: You`re talking -- who is they? Who is they?

MATTHEWS: I`m talking about the -- true conservatives think Romney is
a fake.

HARRIS: I`m not sure that that`s true.


MCMAHON: That he`s a fake or that that`s what they think?

HARRIS: Look at the polling now.

If there was this -- do some professional conservatives here in
Washington who, like, make a living being the arbiter of what it means to
be conservative, do they dislike Mitt Romney? Yes, they probably do.

But you wouldn`t see these national polls that show the two of them
neck and neck, you wouldn`t see polls out of Iowa -- or -- excuse me -- out
of Ohio and Florida that show them neck and neck if there was this huge
swathe of conservatives that were not on board with Mitt Romney.


MATTHEWS: So when you look at him smiling and walking through the
crowd, do you think that`s the face of authenticity? I mean, just asking,
does he seen authentic to you, or does he look like an empty suit that is
pretending to be a conservative?

MCMAHON: He`s just trying to close the deal. He`s a business guy who
is trying to close the deal.

And you know how what happens, when you`re trying to close the deal,
people come to you and they say, well, you need to agree to this thing in
order to close the deal? He`s like, OK, I will do that. You need to agree
to that. OK, I will do that. You need to say this. OK, I will do that.

He is a business guy who is trying to close the deal, and everybody
who ran against him understands that is what he is, and they resent the
fact that they were beaten by that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s Ronald Reagan. Use the gold standard for a

He taught himself conservatism. He didn`t grow up with it. It wasn`t
someone he was born to. He was an old Roosevelt -- and yet through the
1950s, he read "The New Republic," he read "Human Events." He read all
that stuff. He got into with the Bill Buckley and the Russell Kirk stuff.

And by the time he ran for president a couple times, he was writing
his own speeches, he was who he was. Do you think Romney is like that, a
guy who writes his own speeches, has his own thoughts, would write a
newspaper column, for example, if he were running for president? Would he
be that kind of guy?

HARRIS: I don`t care.



MCMAHON: That is the standard for Republicans right now. Is he
President Obama?


MATTHEWS: They don`t care if he cares.

HARRIS: And neither does the average voter.


MATTHEWS: They don`t care if he cares.

HARRIS: What they care about is whether, when he becomes president,
he`s going to change the direction of the country.


MATTHEWS: He`s going to sign those Norquist tax things, right. He`s
got five digits.


MATTHEWS: What have you just said -- thank you. We have ended the
conversation, all right?



MATTHEWS: When you said you don`t care if he doesn`t believe
anything, I understand where you`re coming from.

Steve McMahon and Todd Harris, who just verified the whole premise of
the segment.

Up next: If you`re going to Tampa for the Republican Convention,
don`t bring your water pistol. But a real gun? No problem. Catch the
logic of Governor Rick Scott`s Wild West approach to a Republican
Convention. Bring your gun. It`s going to be fun next on the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now for the "Sideshow."

First up, do you remember your first summer job? Well, the Obama
administration kicked off a new initiative that encourages businesses to
create summer job opportunities for low-income young people and looked to
late-night host Jimmy Fallon to tee up a video series of his own first job


cleaning gum and stuff from the electronic mats that were in front of the
grocery stores. You know, you step on the mats and doors would open? And
I had like a wooden stick and I had to scrape it out.

And I remember my mom and my grandmother came by one day as I was
doing it, and my grandmother started crying.

Don`t be embarrassed to work hard, even if what do you makes your
grandma cry. I mean, look at me in this outfit. This is -- I`m sorry,



MATTHEWS: He`s great.

My first job was delivering "The Philadelphia Bulletin." That`s
pronounced bulletin.

Anyway, finally, the city of Tampa is in prep mode for the Republican
National Committee coming up in August. You would think security would be
a top priority, right? Well, there is already a ban on concealed firearms
for inside the convention center and its immediate perimeter.

Well, earlier this week, the city`s Democratic mayor asked Governor
Rick Scott that the ban be expanded to include what is called the event
zone, which covers more of the surrounding area. Well, some items to be
banned in that zone include water pistols, slingshots, brass knuckles,
clubs, and guns.

It was that last item that caught Governor Rick Scott`s eye. Here`s
his reply -- quote -- "It is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens
would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who
would flout the law. It is at much -- it is at just such times that the
constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected
from government overreach."

Why would anyone bring a gun to a national convention, my question. I
just don`t get it. By the way, didn`t we just have a case down there where
a guy had a gun, and we would have all been better off if he didn`t,
especially Trayvon Martin?

Still ahead on HARDBALL: Who is to blame for the dysfunctional
Congress? According to two longtime nonpartisan scholars, it`s the
Republicans. Barney Frank is coming to talk about it.

And that`s tomorrow on HARDBALL -- and, tomorrow, we are going to be
joined by former Secret Service agent Clint Hill. What a great man he was.
He was assigned to first lady Jackie Kennedy on that terrible day in
November in 1963. His new book is called "Mrs. Kennedy and Me."

You`re watching HARDBALL.


"Market Wrap."

Well, the Dow today fell 62 points. The S&P was down by 11, and the
Nasdaq shed 35. Investor worries about the economy overshadowed a better-
than-expected report on weekly jobless claims. The number of filings fell
27,000 to 365,000. However, growth in the service sector slowed in April.
And adding to concerns, a report from outplacement firm Challenger Gray &
Christmas showing planned layoffs rose 7.1 percent last month.

And that`s it from CNBC. We`re first in business world by --
worldwide, rather -- it`s back over to HARDBALL.


A dramatic moment today at a House hearing on the fate of that blind
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. Chen was reached on the phone and
through a translator said he wants to travel to the United States. He said
he wants to meet with Secretary of State Clinton, who is in China right now
for strategic discussions.

Let`s listen to some of what just happened at that hearing late today.


CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE DISSIDENT (through translator): I want to
meet with Secretary Clinton. I hope I can get more help from her. I also
want to thank her face to face. I really fear for my other family members`


MATTHEWS: Here`s a blind activist who is in the hospital right now.
He had been in the American Embassy.

The activist called from his hospital room where he`s been since
leaving the U.S. Embassy in Beijing just yesterday.

All this has happened so fast.

U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith chaired today`s hearing. He joins
us now.

Congressman, I know you have been involved with human rights in
Florida -- in -- Why did I say in Florida? -- in China for a long time now.
Tell us how you think this thing is working out right now, how you think it
should be working out.

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, so far, it`s a failure, and
my hope is that there can still be a happy ending.

When Chen Guangcheng was released to the Chinese under an agreement
that apparently wasn`t even written down with guarantees of his safety,
anyone who knows China knows that, for dissidents, there is no safe place
in China. The talk should have been, how do we get him to the United
States, not just himself, but his wife, who has been beaten severely over
and over again, and all those who helped him?

A woman named He Peirong, she is the Chinese human rights activist
took him in her car to Beijing. She is under, we think, either under house
arrest or in custody right now. So there`s a whole group of people for
whom we have to have a great deal of concern for.

And, unfortunately, with the timeline of this summit, he was literally
pushed out the door with some very vague and, I would say, ineffective
assurances. And now he realizes it and wants to come to the United States,
along with his wife and friends.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, you`re a politician, and you have studied
these situations in China for a long time, longer than I have taken a look
at it.

Why would the Chinese would allow us to score an international
propaganda victory of this sort, where we take one of their people, one of
their citizens, and the whole family, as you say, back on a plane with our
secretary of state, our foreign minister, in a sense, take them out of the
country in the face of all this diplomacy, to walk out of the country with
some of their people saying we`re saving them from their own government?

Why would the Chinese government ever let us do that, ever let us do
that? Would they ever let us do that?


SMITH: Of course they will. Wei Jingsheng is an example. Harry Wu
is an example.


MATTHEWS: Why would they let us do that?

SMITH: Well, they would do it because they want to get rid of someone
who has been a problem for them, but it all comes down to us in terms of
what our response will be.

We got Soviet Jews and Christians out of what was then the Soviet
Union, out of Romania -- and I worked on all those issues -- and many
people out of China, when we are firm, when we say this is of highest
priority to the United States, and then they come here.

Frankly, he is now at great risk, and I mean great risk, to his life
and to his freedom.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

SMITH: We can`t even visit with him. Our embassy people can`t even
get back into the door. They were asked to leave. They left, can`t even
get back.

MATTHEWS: Well, then why would they -- if that is -- well, you`re
just establishing the facts I`m trying to work from.


MATTHEWS: If they have that kind of firm determination not to let him
move around in their own country, why would they let him board a United
States plane, a military plane, to go back to the States? Why would they
ever let him do that?

SMITH: Because it all comes down to whether or not we`re willing to
use enough political capital to say that human rights are the priority;
it`s not just a trading issue.

MATTHEWS: What is our leverage on the People`s Republic of China to
get this guy out of the country? What`s our leverage?


SMITH: Our leverage continues to be the diplomatic issue of them
holding this man. We didn`t make it the priority for asylum that it should
have been.


MATTHEWS: No, what is our leverage? What is our -- what is our power
in this situation? I just want to know. We all know we want him out.
We`d like to give the guy his freedom. We`d like to have all the Chinese
billion people have their freedom.

But what is our leverage in a dictatorship where we`re in a country
that is the host country? We`re surrounded by the Red Army. What leverage
do we have to get that guy and his family, as you suggest we should?


SMITH: We have diplomatic leverage.

MATTHEWS: What`s that?

SMITH: And instead of -- all the high-level people that come in from
China. I have introduced a bill that would hold individually responsible
those men and women in China who are part of the dictatorship who do the
forced abortions, who do the religious persecutions.

MATTHEWS: What would we do the ones who -- now we get into the forced
abortion stuff. How do we tell the Chinese to stop having forced


SMITH: No, let me finish.

Chen Guangcheng, one of the -- the reason why he has been treated so
harshly is because he exposed what all of us who have been doing human
rights work knows, that forced abortion is commonplace from China.


MATTHEWS: I know. I know all that. And I know you`re concerned
about that.


SMITH: One thing that we do -- I offered a bill that in 19 -- 2004
called the Belarus Democracy Act. I want to bar -- I have introduced


MATTHEWS: Yes. But how does this get this gentleman out of China?

SMITH: Because we start the -- we haven`t held the Chinese themselves
who do these atrocities to account individually, by denying them visas, by
holding them into account and say, you can`t come here.


MATTHEWS: Well, getting into a diplomatic war with a country that
basically is our banker right now...


SMITH: Chris, they`re our market -- we`re their market. Without the
United States, where are they going to sell all those finished goods?
There is a symbiotic relationship established now economically. That is a


MATTHEWS: So you believe -- let me get the bottom line now.
Congressman, I respect you. I only have a minute -- a second.

You believe we can use our economic leverage with the Chinese to get -
- to produce more human rights in China? You believe that`s true?


SMITH: Oh, without a doubt. I believe it passionately.

MATTHEWS: Without a doubt? OK, well, that`s your case.

SMITH: As a matter of fact, it was Bill Clinton on May 26, 1994, who
severed the relationship between what was then called most-favored-nation
status and human rights.

That day, things went into a tailspin and they have been doing it ever

MATTHEWS: OK. So it`s Bill Clinton`s fault. OK.

SMITH: We need to use other levers, like one of them being
withholding visas to those who commit atrocities.


MATTHEWS: OK. And, by the way, I respect completely your position
about forced abortions. Who believes in that anywhere in this country? I
don`t know anybody who does.

SMITH: Well, there are people who are indifferent to it big time, big

MATTHEWS: Well, we will see. But thank you. You`re not one of them.

And thank you very much for coming on, Congressman Christopher Smith.

SMITH: Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We are now joined by a person who has been very involved in
Chinese policy, Jane Harman. She is now director here in Washington and
president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
She was, of course, for years a United States congresswoman from California
and well-schooled in this.

How do we balance our concern on keeping or getting our relations
with China on better footing and this very human situation of Chen?

say I was with Chris Smith in Beijing in 1955 when Hillary Clinton said --

MATTHEWS: Not `55.

HARMAN: 1995. Human rights were human rights, and human rights are
human rights. He was -- we were part of a four-member delegation from
Congress, I respect his passion, and I agree with him about forced
abortions, I think this man is --

MATTHEWS: It`s the One Child Policy. Explain to everybody, China
has -- the CRC has their policy. You had one kid, otherwise, you had
abortions, right?

HARMAN: Right.

He`s a courageous human rights activist. So, we all agree on that.
The question is, now, what do we do coming forward, and how do we balance?

MATTHEWS: Is it reasonable for us to demand that this guy get on the
plane with Hillary Clinton?

HARMAN: Well, a couple of facts were left off. I don`t think it`s
doable, I don`t know what we`re doing. I like the fact that we`re
negotiating in private.

I don`t think this case needs to be tried on TV or in a one-party
House hearing. I don`t think that`s going to lead to a good result.

MATTHEWS: Do you think they would like to get rid of this guy to the
point they would let him --

HARMAN: I don`t know what they want to do with this guy. But there
are a couple facts that Chris left out.

One was -- at least according to reports -- he spent six days in our
embassy and did not ask for asylum. He specifically said he did not want
it, he wanted to be reunited with his family, outside of his province, and
the Chinese apparently agree to that, and he was reunited with his family
in this hospital.

MATTHEWS: Was that a credible deal?

HARMAN: I don`t know, but he has free access to media, obviously.
He`s talking to everybody outside of China, so the Chinese are using this
moment to blast -- to convey some interesting views.

MATTHEWS: How do you read that?

HARMAN: I read it -- I think there are agendas on both sides and
they`re mixed agendas. In China, there is the old China and the new China,
and this is playing out in a drama with another case, the Bo Xilai case.
And I think that once this fifth generation takes power, China will have to
open up to some extent. The economy will force that, let alone issues like

MATTHEWS: Who is calling the shots over there? Secretary Clinton?
Is it -- who is doing it right now?

HARMAN: Well, I think the negotiator for the six states was Harold

MATTHEWS: One of her people.

HARMAN: One of her people in the State Department, who almost was
not confirmed by the U.S. Senate because he`s such a vigorous human rights
advocate. So, he`s their A-team.

MATTHEWS: So you think he`s fair enough?

HARMAN: I think they thought they had a good deal in Chen`s
interest, which Chen wanted. He then changed his mind. I`m not arguing

MATTHEWS: Yes. We don`t know what he was --


HARMAN: But consider this, Chris, that on this side we`re in a
presidential year -- I thought I would shock you by making that point --


HARMAN: -- and so people are piling on.

That`s not very helpful. Passion is good, this rhetoric is way over
the top, and the goal here should be safety for Chen and his family, and
the expression of human rights concerns inside and outside of China. And I
don`t think any of these agendas that are being forced now are going to
achieve any of those.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know how symbols rise on the ground like Elian
Gonzales were true a lot of these case, where there`s tremendous emotions
on both sides.

HARMAN: And there`s one more thing. Our agenda with China has to be
both competition and cooperation. The strategic talk that Hillary Clinton
and Geithner therefore matters and it`s being blown up by the --

MATTHEWS: Jane, we went to war with China back in the early` 50s, we
don`t want to go back again. Thank you, Jane Harman.

HARMAN: I agree.

MATTHEWS: Up next, who is to blame for the dysfunctional Congress?
Well, two partisans say it really is one party: the Republicans. And
they`re going to come on and tell us.

We`re going to talk about that with U.S. Congressman Barney Frank who
is leaving the Congress and has some thoughts over the subject of he`s
found has changed the Republican Party over the years.



MATTHEWS: Well, the Wisconsin governor`s recall election is about a
month away right now, but we`ve got new poll numbers on that race. Let`s
check the HARDBALL scoreboard.

Here it is -- Republican Scott Walker`s lead is shrinking now,
according to a new poll from Marquette University Law School. Walker has
an insignificant one-point lead over likely Democratic challenger Tom
Barrett among likely recall voters.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Blame the Republicans. That`s the conclusion congressional scholars
Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein made after studying politics for more than
four decades. In a new "Washington Post" op-ed entitled, let`s just say
it, the Republicans are the problem.

They write, quote, "The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in
American politics. It is ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise,
unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science, and
dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

And as to the failed efforts by both parties to find middle ground,
they write, "While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to
their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their
goal post."

Well, who better to talk about this than Congressman Barney Frank,
Democrat of Massachusetts.

Congressman Frank, you know, a lot of people respect you deeply as a
legislator and you you`ve been there long enough to see changes made. Do
you accept the fact that critical analysis by Ornstein and Mann is true?

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Oh, absolutely. This is not a
50-50 deal.

Now, Democrats have gotten more partisan and tougher in response,
but, you know, in ironic way, Chris, this is the year of Newt Gingrich`s
greatest failure, the Gingrich presidential campaign ended in burlesque.
But it was also an interesting way he achieved triumph, because Newt
Gingrich came to the Congress in `78 and was angered shortly thereafter
when Tip O`Neill and Ronald Reagan talked about that cooperation. He did
not like Bob Michael, the Midwestern, Conservative, in a Bob Dole mold, who
is the Republican leader.

Newt Gingrich said, you know what? We Republicans will never take
power as long as this is seen as a debate between decent people who
disagree on economics and who disagree on the environment and who disagree
on health care policy. He said, let`s be very clear.

He put out things saying this. He put out worksheets and instruction
manuals. The Democrats are corrupt. They are treasonous, et cetera. And
he worked that.

And what we`re now seeing the triumph of that. You have look,
American politics has always had two factions. One that wanted somewhat
more government, one wanted somewhat less government. Each side understood
the legitimacy of the other.

There are no Democrats opening a free enterprise system as a
generator of wealth and goods and services, and most Republicans used to
say yes, and we need a government that sets some rules and work together.
That`s now out of whack.

You have a Republican Party full of people who don`t believe there
should be a government at all. You have Grover Norquist who was this guy
that`s got the more cowering, who said, "I want to put government in a
bathtub, pull the drain and shrink it." You have no understanding of the
importance of the rule of government. Plus, you a degree of vitriol that`s
(INAUDIBLE) where this thing is we don`t accept them in other place.

Now, we have fought back. I do think what you just quoted Tom Mann
and Norman Ornstein saying is correct. Not since the Civil War has there
been a faction of the country that took over a political party so far from
the center. And I think they`re going to get repudiated. You know, in
2010, they won because mad at us. But now, people are looking at what
they`re saying and I do not think the American people are ready for this.

MATTHEWS: The idea of Congress, and I think you don`t have to be a
student of the federalist period to figure out is, people like you, center-
left, sometimes left, come into Congress, and people from the right and
center-right come to Congress, and they meet, you get to know each other.
That`s why you don`t mail it in. You get to know each other, you
negotiate, you perhaps have a drink together.

This is how it`s been since they wrote the Declaration, they wrote
the Constitution. You get together. You get together.

FRANK: It was that way until fairly recently and people said, oh,
things are terrible. What`s happened, frankly, is that the Republicans
today, this very extreme Republican group, is repudiating the Bush
administration. Come 2008, people will remember, we had this terrible
crisis, there was great bipartisan corporation between the Henry Paul,
George Bush`s secretary of treasury, Ben Bernanke, George Bush`s appointee
to run the Federal Reserve, Sheila Bair, a Dole aide who was George Bush`s
appointee to run the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission, and myself and
Senator Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid. We worked very closely together.

What you know have is an extreme right-wing group that`s repudiating
any of that.

You know what I find very interesting, by the way, and I have seen
this to my surprise, you have the businessmen in Wall Street, we hurt their
feelings, I understand that. The president and I and others said, you know
what? Your irresponsibility brought us a lot of these problems and we have
to put some limits on you.

They are so angry that a lot of these Wall Street people who used to
support Obama, they were mixed, are now overwhelming Republican. They are
supporting people, by the way, who are opposed to doing the things that
George Bush`s appointees at the Federal Reserve think we had to do to
protect the American economy.


FRANK: They`re the people telling the International Monetary Fund
and the Federal Reserve: don`t help Europe deal with its crisis. But, you
know, for them, that has a double advantage, because if Europe can`t
resolve its crisis, our economy will be damage, and they would like that
because it would hurt Obama`s chances. But it`s also ideological. So
Ornstein --

MATTHEWS: How do we fix it, Barney? Is there any hope for this this
cycle? What do you do?

FRANK: Yes. It`s not that deep. It only -- you know people said
you`re totally dysfunctional. But in 2009 and 2010, we passed good
legislation. I`m very proud.

The shareholders of Citicorp just voted down the pay package for the
leaders of Citicorp, that`s because we gave them the right to do that in
the legislation that passed the financial reform bill. We have an
independent consumer agency. We have made it easier for women who are
being discriminated against sue, and we have I think a good health care

The problem is in 2010, you had this recession, you had the anger
over the collapse, and so 2010 was an aberration.


FRANK: Well, here`s the test -- if the Republican Party takes back
the Senate, holds the House, if Mitt Romney with his pandering to the right
wing, throwing gay people off the side and lighten the load of the boat so
the right wing doesn`t blow them over, and they win, then you will see a
perpetuation of this. What I`m hoping will happen is that the more
(INAUDIBLE) moderate Republicans, mainstream conservatives. That the
mainstream conservatives, the Bob Doles, they clearly lost their party
right now, the right wing has taken over.

But if the Republicans don`t do well, and I don`t want them to do
well for a number of reasons, but I say this, if you`re a mainstream
Republican conservative, you want the current crowd extremist to lose,
because only after they lose will the more reasonable people be able to
take back their party. We`ve seen that in other cases, in `64, `72. I
think you`ll see it now.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Barney Frank, we`ll have you back many times
before you leave this year. I know you leave in Congress, we don`t want
you to leave this show.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with Romney`s pathetic attack against
former President Jimmy Carter.

You`re watching HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:

Mitt Romney just took another shot at former President Jimmy Carter.
OK, Mitt, you pick this fight, so let`s start with guts. President Carter
had the guts to take two warring countries, Israel and Egypt, to Camp David
and came back with a peace treaty. Carter had the guts when the Soviet
Union invaded Afghanistan, they cut off grain shipments to them, to the
invader, even if it hurt American farmers on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.

He refused to send American athletes to the Moscow Olympics. Why?
Because he knew this was a way to reach the Soviets where it hurts.

President Carter had the guts to give the Panamanians control of the
Panama Canal, against all the right wing hooting and hollering. That`s
right, things didn`t turn out right for him politically but that`s
politics, and he took it hard.

Whatever you say about Carter, he regularly, relentlessly did the
things that were good for the country, pushing human rights around the
world, pushing for energy conservation. The country club boys had a lot of
fun with that one. Pushing for an end to nonnuclear proliferation.

He worried about things we worry about today and took stand that
needed to be taken, like making sure nuclear weapons didn`t get in the
hands of the wrong people. Reagan, remember, said, that was none of our
Speaking of which, it`s not really when you think about all that
gutsy to call for tax cuts. It`s not gusty so say "fill `er up" and go buy
yourself a big car. It`s not gutsy, Mitt, to buckle to Grover the Norquist
and sign any piece of paper he puts in front of you for taxes so he won`t
take you off his list, or buckle to the neocons by installing them all
around you, or buckling to the right dumping any gay staffer dare show

Why is Mitt Romney entitled to question Jimmy Carter? Try this one
on for size, Mitt -- the first time you show a wit of the guts that man
did, again, Jimmy Carter, again, and again, and again.

That`s HARDALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>