Guests: Ed Schultz, Hampton Pearson, Mark Halperin, Eugene Robinson, Joe Donnelly, Jonathan Chait, Joe Solmonese, R. Clarke Cooper
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Evolution concluded.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York. Leading off tonight:
Out of the closet. President Obama has evolved. For years, he has said
his opinion on same-sex marriage has been "evolving." Well, today the
president told ABC News that, yes, gay couples should be able to marry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I`ve just concluded
that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that
I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With that one line, Barack Obama became the first American
president ever to take such a stand. How will it affect the upcoming
election? That`s what I want to know.
Also, the reaction from gay rights community. How can a gay person
vote for a candidate who now stands against their right to marry and
perhaps against a candidate who is for it?
Plus, another veteran bites the dust. Richard Lugar`s defeat last
night at the hands of a Republican who says never, ever compromise with
Democrats is the latest example of how the GOP is becoming a Tea Party.
And game on in Wisconsin. The candidates are set. The polls are
tight. Can Democrats unseat Scott Walker? The man who knows so much about
that race, MSNBC`s Ed Schultz, joins me tonight.
And "Let Me Finish" with President Obama once again making history.
We begin with President Obama`s evolution on gay marriage. "Time"
magazine`s Mark Halperin is MSNBC`s senior political analyst. Eugene
Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post"
and also an MSNBC political analyst.
Gene, I want you to start here. First of all, let`s get the interview
here. In an interview with "Good Morning America`s" Robin Roberts this
afternoon, the president unequivocally gave his support to same-sex
marriage. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to tell you that
over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and
neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are incredibly
committed in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are
raising kids together -- when I think about those soldiers or airmen or
marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel
constrained, even now that "Don`t ask, don`t tell" is gone, because they`re
not able to commit themselves in a marriage -- at a certain point, I`ve
just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead
and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, a very dramatic response came right after the
president`s remarks today. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released
a statement pointing out the historic nature of the president`s statement.
Here`s what the mayor said. "This is major turning point in the
history of American civil rights. No American president has ever supported
a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by
the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception."
Well, today`s announcement is a testament to the president`s
convictions. All that said, Eugene Robinson, you know the history,
especially of civil rights. My question, is the president ahead of the
curve, ahead of the parade, or with it safely enough to have this not hurt
him in the campaign?
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s
unclear what the net political impact will be. I don`t think you can say
that it`s safe at this point. You know the polls showing perhaps a
majority of Americans supporting gay marriage.
You know that, that those -- that support is not equally distributed
across the United States, and it certainly is stronger in some states like
New York, for example, than it is in other states like North Carolina,
which just defeated gay marriage by 20 points yesterday, and not
coincidentally -- or and coincidentally is a swing state that president
would dearly love to win.
But what I`m hearing from the White House is that this evolution in
the president`s thinking was completed in the last few months, and he was
determined to talk about it before the convention, and that with all of the
sort of -- you know, it was in the air. The issue was current now, and he
decided to move up this announcement of his new position.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mark Halperin. Was that something that was
reportable before this event on Sunday, when Joe Biden went on "MEET THE
PRESS" and responded to the question and came out for it himself? Was
there a movement on the part of the president`s people for him to come out,
a decision to declare it before the convention?
MARK HALPERIN, "TIME," MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: There was a
movement to do it. It`s the widespread belief of the people on his
campaign staff, and there was an expectation that he might well do it.
Gene`s right, there`s no way to actually know what politics of this
are, and there are some negatives and some risks. On the positive side, I
think, number one, the president has energy and emotion on his side. This
is historic for a lot of his supporters and a lot of younger voters. And
he`s got public opinion moving in his direction.
He also, let`s be frank, has the media on his side. The media is
overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage, and that means it`s not a
fair fight. As he goes against Mitt Romney, where they have clearly
contrasting positions, it`s not a fair fight.
And while Governor Romney and other Republicans think they can go on
the offensive on this issue, Governor Romney -- again, talking about the
way -- the reasons this is a positive for the president -- Governor Romney
has some questions to answer about which benefits he doesn`t support for
same-sex couples, where they`re civil unions or some other relationship.
And he`s not good at answering those kinds of questions.
So while we can about the negatives and the risks, I think this puts
the president in line with what he believes history -- where history is
going, with the public opinion polls and the direction there, and with most
people in his party, including the people who work for him.
MATTHEWS: Well, before we get to any more polling here, Gene, some --
the real emotions of this come out when you see Governor Romney say he`s
for "traditional marriage," using that word with all its power. But you
know, you can say the traditional prejudice against gay people, where gay
people, once they were found out to be gay, would be thrown out of jobs,
thrown out of the military, denied access to the military, humiliated
publicly. All that was part of our tradition, as well.
Why would anyone value the word "tradition" in this case of expanding,
in a country which honors the expansion of rights, not the honoring of the
ROBINSON: Well, you know, Chris, that`s a very good question. I know
a little bit about tradition and...
MATTHEWS: You lived through it in Jim Crow.
ROBINSON: And tradition is not always a good thing, traditional
beliefs and traditional patterns of discrimination.
So you know, look, people do, though, have deep feelings about gay
marriage. A lot of that feeling is religious, I understand. I haven`t
heard a snippet yet, but I understand that the president in this interview
with ABC does talk about his religious beliefs and how he believes that at
the core of Christianity is the golden rule, that -- you know, "Do unto
ROBINSON: ... and that that`s inescapable as a part of his Christian
MATTHEWS: I guess the whole question is whether you can believe the
polls on this. Maybe the politically correct answer, Mark and Gene, is to
say you`re for equal rights, equal marriage, marriage equality.
But look at the latest Gallup poll on this. It shows that half of all
Americans do say they support same-sex. That`s a remarkable turnabout from
just a few years ago, of course. Look at the big growth there.
Yet state after state gets to vote on this, in the voting booth, on
issues like constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, like we
had in North Carolina just yesterday, when 61 percent did vote against it.
And you have this over and over and over again. And yesterday, as I said,
Mark, how do we explain the distinction between the way people will
gladly tell a pollster, yes, I`m for gay marriage, but they walk into that
booth on election day in 32 states, they`ve said, I don`t believe in it?
HALPERIN: Supporters of marriage equity would cite two things
primarily. One is the amount of money that`s sometimes spent in these
states. It tends to skew in most places more towards the anti side. And
the other thing they`d cite is that there`s a silent majority, not the
activists on either side, but a silent majority of people who (INAUDIBLE)
turn out to vote in these off-year elections for these ballot measures but
who would be more inclined to support gay marriage, and particularly
Again, there`s political risks for the president, and those state
referenda ballot measures are the clearest sign of that. But the public
opinion polls are clear. Things are moving in the direction of people
supporting same-sex marriage.
MATTHEWS: Well, we all know that.
HALPERIN: He may be ahead of it...
MATTHEWS: He may be ahead of it...
HALPERIN: ... but he`s not...
MATTHEWS: ... last night...
HALPERIN: But he`s not going against the grain. He`s going with the
flow of this.
MATTHEWS: Of course. George Pataki said on -- a couple years ago, I
remember, he said, Don`t get so far ahead of the parade you can`t hear the
music. And the -- is the president still with the band on this?
HALPERIN: Well, look, Republicans have not yet had to address the
Cheney question, which I think is going to be big in the next 48 hours.
MATTHEWS: Which is?
HALPERIN: Dick Cheney, incumbent vice president, supported marriage
equity as Republican for vice president.
HALPERIN: Well, in part because of personal reasons, but in part, he
felt it was a matter of equal rights...
MATTHEWS: His daughter, right?
HALPERIN: But also, he talked about...
MATTHEWS: Does anyone believe that Dick Cheney...
HALPERIN: ... it in a principled way...
MATTHEWS: ... would have done this on his own, without his daughter
being oriented the way she is?
HALPERIN: Probably not.
HALPERIN: But it`s going to -- it`s going to face (ph) a hard
question for -- I think for a lot of Republicans. And you`ve got Ken
Mehlman, the former chairman of the party, who ran the president`s
reelection campaign, is for marriage equity...
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what I want to know. Gene, this is a tough
question for people who are gay. They`ve had to face discrimination.
Now they have to choose between a candidate who`s with them 100
percent now, as of today, on an issue that matters so much to them, about
the ability to love and marry somebody you want, and another candidate who
has said, I will never evolve on this who just recently let a campaign
staffer be drummed out of his office and didn`t lift a finger to say, I
want this man, Richard, to stay and -- Richard Grenell to stay in my
office. Please stay, Richard. He wouldn`t lift a finger for that guy!
So it seems like a pretty emotional choice for someone to say, I`ve
got to be with someone who embraces me and oppose someone who won`t.
ROBINSON: Well, I think it`s going to be difficult for many gay
Republicans, perhaps not all, but for many, because there`s such a stark
difference and because both the candidate, Mitt Romney, and I suspect the
general view of today`s Republican Party is so anti-gay marriage, to the
point of seeking a constitutional amendment to ban it across the whole
country for all time.
You know, that`s got to -- that`s got to make people think. And
again, they`ll have to weigh that against their commitment to other issues,
but it`s got to make people think.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Mitt Romney, took a question this afternoon on
gay marriage. Here it is, fresh quote from Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view is
that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman. And
that`s -- that`s my own preference. I know other people have differing
views. This is a very tender and sensitive topic, as are many social
issues. But I have the same view that I`ve had since -- well, since
running for office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know in the past, Republicans like Karl Rove used
this as a wedge issue in states like Ohio. We`ve got Ohio, we have North
Carolina, a lot of the states you cover all the time, Mark, as very much
Do you think the people in the super-PAC world, like Karl Rove, will
be using this issue with black churches, with white churches, with working
whites, the usual groups they might go after?
HALPERIN: I don`t think you`ll see -- I mean, a lot of the super-
PACs, like the one Karl Rove`s associated with, are spending money on
television ads and broadcasting, trying to reach a big group. I think
you`ll see this message micro-targeted...
MATTHEWS: How about going through pastors?
HALPERIN: Yes, I think you`ll see some of that. Governor Romney
there made an attempt to talk about this in a balanced way. This is my
personal view, but other people can differ.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s the high road guy.
HALPERIN: Well, but that`s -- that`s the key. You see some of these
Republican statement just blasting the president. The reason I think the
president`s position has some political potency to it is because he made it
clear in this interview and through the course of evolving, this is a
balance. There`s a religious issue. There`s a religious liberty issue.
There`s family issues. But there`s also civil rights issues.
I think if Republicans just talk about this as anti-gay, anti-equity,
it`s going to hurt them. Mitt Romney there did something he normally
doesn`t do. He said, People can disagree with me...
HALPERIN: ... but this is my view. He`s going to have to be better
at that. And again, that goes to the view in Chicago. This is not, as
some people cast it, a slam dunk negative for the president.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and I think -- I think with Grenell, the case -- a
very recent case, we have traditional anti-gay prejudice operating in this
case in a presidential campaign, and Romney didn`t lift a finger to stop
it, Gene. He has a lot to explain here besides just speaking nicely about
people with different views.
ROBINSON: Yes, I think that -- that particular case of Grenell did
strike home with people who were paying attention to it. And I think it
struck home in the gay community, and so Romney -- but I agree with Mark.
I thought his answer today was better than the answer he usually gives, in
terms of being inclusive, in terms of admitting...
ROBINSON: ... that the other point of view is legitimate. And if he
goes forward in that way, then I think he minimizes the danger to himself.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s just say he has a lot of allies who won`t be so
nice. And as Mickey Cohen, the gangster, once said, If you have a dog, you
don`t have to bark.
Anyway, thank you, Mark Halperin. And thank you, Gene Robinson.
Coming up, reaction from the gay community itself on President Obama`s
evolution. We`ll hear from a Republican leader of the Log Cabin and a
Democratic for another point of view. We`re going to hear a lot over the
next couple of minutes about what the people most affected and most caring
about this issue feel about what the president is starting.
Let`s not forget, above the politics, the president of United States
has come out for same-sex marriage, big history made today by the
This is HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got brand-new poll numbers out of another key
president primary state, actually a battleground state, Iowa. Let`s check
the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new PPP poll, President Obama`s got a healthy lead in
the Hawkeye state. He`s up 10 points over Mitt Romney in Iowa, 51-41.
Obama won Iowa in -- well, actually, 2008, but George Bush carried the
state in 2004.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Malia and Sasha, they`ve got friends whose parents are same-
sex couples. And you know, there have been times where Michelle and I have
been sitting around the dinner table and we`ve been talking and -- about
their friends and their parents, and Malia and Sasha -- it wouldn`t dawn on
them that somehow, their friends` parents would be treated differently. It
doesn`t make sense to them. And frankly, that`s the kind of thing that
prompts a change of perspective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s right on that. And that`s more from President
Obama today on gay marriage from his interview with "Good Morning
America`s" Robin Roberts.
We`re back with more on how the president`s big announcement, history-
making announcement, is going over right now with the gay community itself.
Joe Solmonese is president of the Human Rights Campaign -- and what a great
organization that is -- and R. Clarke Cooper is executive director of the
Log Cabin Republicans, who I wonder why they still exist, to be honest with
I want to go to Joe because I understand his position. He`s for gay
rights and has supported them magnificently across the country without
qualification or politics getting in the way.
Joe were you surprised? Did you get a heads-up on this, say, even
before the vice president spoke out on "MEET THE PRESS" this Sunday that
this would be part of a campaign run-up?
JOE SOLMONESE, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Well, I didn`t get any heads-
up, but I was not surprised. And quite frankly, I was heartened not just
by the fact that president came out in support of marriage, but in the way
in which he did it. And I think he did so in a way that inspired LGBT
people across this country, but also in a way that helped all people on
this journey really find common humanity with him.
You know, he talked about the people he`s met along the way. He
talked about the folks who were overseas defending this country. He talked
about a kitchen table conversation with his daughters and with the first
And so it does a great deal not just to, I think, inspire and empower
and give hope to members of this community, but it goes a long way to
really helping folks out there across the country who are on their own
journey on this issue.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask Clarke. Let`s stay away from politics for
two seconds with you, or two minutes even. Gay people in this country,
what do you think their reaction was, regardless of politics?
R. CLARKE COOPER, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Oh, positive. I mean, it
turns up the needle (ph). The dialogue has turned up to a level that it`s
not been at. Up until this week, prior to the president`s statement and
Vice President Biden`s statement, you know, the most senior voice for a
long time was on my side of the aisle, was vice president -- former vice
president Dick Cheney. So certainly...
MATTHEWS: Well, his daughter -- his daughter...
COOPER: ... the dialogue has amplified...
MATTHEWS: That`s because of his family situation, obviously. Is
there any -- do you honestly think that Dick Cheney...
COOPER: Well, hey, that`s -- that was...
MATTHEWS: ... would have been out front on this issue if it weren`t
for his family? Honestly.
COOPER: Well, that`s -- that`s the case for most families.
MATTHEWS: OK. Fine.
COOPER: My family is on this issue because I came out, so...
MATTHEWS: Right, but he`s a politician. Let`s not give any credit...
COOPER: That`s part of the story.
MATTHEWS: ... beyond that.
COOPER: That`s part of the story.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about what I said this afternoon right after
this announcement by the president on -- on ABC.
I said every Republican staffer who is gay, man or woman, should go to
their boss, man or woman, and say to them right now, why aren`t you out on
this issue? Why aren`t you supporting this issue?
Do you think there was a response, or do they continue to put up with
this refusal to support equality? The Republican bosses of so many gay
people on Capitol Hill, for example, have they gone to their bosses? Have
they said, you have got to change on this? The president has done it. Why
don`t you do it to neutralize the issue so it doesn`t become a campaign
If both sides agree support it, it won`t be a campaign issue. If one
side opposes it, all the bigots out there will go to the other side and
vote for the other candidate, won`t they?
COOPER: Well, the first time this actually happened was the last
Congress, Chris, on the debate on the repeal of don`t ask, don`t tell.
Those conversations, there are many anecdotal stories where staff
members, up to the level senior, chiefs of staff, legislative directors,
did talk to their bosses.
COOPER: So this conversation is ongoing. It is certainly not going
The polling reflects that, not just the general electorate, but on my
side of the aisle, amongst Republicans. More and more Republicans do
support -- not just tolerate, but actually support some sort of status,
either be it civil unions, like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. You`re a good guy, but how do you stop the
bad guys on the Republican side who are in your coalition, people like Karl
Rove, who have in the past gone to black clergymen and used this win
electoral votes? How do you stop that from happening again this time, from
people from exploiting bigotry?
COOPER: Well, there`s two tracks. There`s the principle track, which
is do the right thing.
COOPER: The right thing is, don`t stand in the way of people.
As good conservatives, certainly don`t impede upon one`s personal
liberty. That`s the principle of supporting -- there is a conservative
case for marriage, for marriage equality.
Then there`s the pragmatism. Hey, if you can`t say anything nice,
don`t say anything at all.
COOPER: And some lawmakers did apply that rule in the 2010 cycle,
which is why you saw more gays vote Republican in 2010 than they did in
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. They focused on the economy, yes.
COOPER: Well, it is the economy. And the polling shows us.
The exit polls in the Republican primaries, particularly in Arizona,
Michigan, South Carolina, Ohio, all show the economy is the number one
issue. So if you are not out there on principle in favor of marriage
equality or civil union status, then don`t go there. Focus on the issues
that are important.
MATTHEWS: OK. So let`s talk about what we should discourage.
Joe, I don`t know how you play this or how you do this, but it is
important to stop the bad people, the snickerers, the gigglers who are
right now thinking, here is our chance to go after Claire McCaskill from
another point of view or Jon Tester. We`re going to pin them in the next
24 hours. Are they with the president or not?
Tim Kaine down in Virginia, places where they are going to be really
close elections, where you can reach the cultural rural voter perhaps,
black or white, and grab them and move them to the other side of the fight
on this issue.
SOLMONESE: You know, Chris, you talked in the previous segment about
political ramifications here.
And I think what cannot be ignored is that this is a choice between
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Clarke is right. There are a lot of good
Republicans. And they`re moving in the right direction.
But when it comes to Governor Romney, it cannot be ignored that not
only is he against marriage equality. He is committed to write
discrimination into the Constitution in the form of the federal marriage
amendment and just this week said he doesn`t support civil unions.
So I think when it comes to young voters, when it comes to inspiring a
base vote, I don`t care whether it is in Missouri or Montana or anyplace
across this country, it is a very distinct choice that needs -- that is
going to be made here. And again, I think the president spoke about this
in terms today that all people can identify with.
And I think that, you know, it will serve him well. It will serve him
well in this election cycle. And for Republicans or for the governor, for
Governor Romney to introduce this into this conversation would be to do so
at his own peril...
SOLMONESE: ... again, I agree with Clarke. This is going to be an
election cycle that is about economics and things that are deeply personal
things to people`s life circumstances.
MATTHEWS: Clarke, why do you think he went all the way to the other
direction and staked out this non-evolutionary position, saying, I will
never evolve, I have never evolved, I won`t even consider civil unions,
which is sort of a middle position on this issue as it`s developed?
Why did he just jam it at you guys and women by saying, I`m not even
going to think about it, it is not on my table it think about, I will never
ever, ever, ever change? What a strange position to say for a guy who has
changed on so many issues over the years, changed on health care, changed
on all kinds of questions. And now he says on this issue, I will never --
Mitt Romney is immutable.
Isn`t that shoving it to you guys?
COOPER: Well, I can`t speak for Romney or the Romney campaign. But
what I can tell us that...
MATTHEWS: Well, why did he do it? No, why did he say, on the all the
COOPER: Who knows?
MATTHEWS: ... I`m open-minded on and I can negotiate, this, I will
never change on, I will not evolve on?
COOPER: Well, and as we have seen with the president and we have seen
with members of Congress, people certainly do change.
There are members who voted for implementation of don`t ask, don`t
tell who then voted to repeal it.
COOPER: They voted one way in 1993 and then they voted in favor of
repeal in 2010. So it is possible.
It is -- is it frustrating? Absolutely, it`s frustrating.
MATTHEWS: I know. That`s the good news. But is there good news
about Romney? Do you have any reason to believe that he will change?
COOPER: Oh, anybody can.
MATTHEWS: No, do you think he will change?
COOPER: I`m not going to...
SOLMONESE: I think this is more a question of Mitt Romney`s character
than it is a conversation about marriage.
As you pointed out, he didn`t stand up for the guy who felt like he
needed to leave the campaign when there was an uprising from the right. He
didn`t stand up for the gay soldier from Iraq who asked him a question at
the debate when the audience booed.
And he is not standing up today. And, again, I think it is much more
a question about his character and about who he is than it is about his
evolution on marriage. And I think that the American people are going to
come to see that.
MATTHEWS: Have you seen him yet, Clarke? Have you got to meet Mitt
Romney on this issue?
COOPER: I have talked to Mitt. I have talked to Governor Romney. I
have told him directly when he gave the first big speech about marriage and
the marriage status.
And I said to him, we are working to repeal the Defense of Marriage
Act. And he said, I know you are. Obviously, we are going to agree to
disagree on this point right at this time.
And, of course, again, I`m open to moving that needle. We are the
only organization that is actually in the trenches with our fellow
Republicans, sitting down, talking, going over this, educating.
COOPER: I mean, you have got to have technocrats on this issue. And
if there is anybody that is able to sit down and get people to actually
look at this, not only on a principle issue, but also the pragmatic side...
MATTHEWS: Clarke, you`re a good man. Every time you get a Republican
who is willing to switch on this and come out for what the president`s
position is today, let me know. We will have them on.
COOPER: It`s not the president`s position. It`s the right position.
MATTHEWS: I haven`t heard one voice from the Republican side for
equality on this issue. It would be nice to hear one voice on the other
side so we see something that is somewhat bipartisan here.
Thank you, Joe Solmonese.
It is a big day, I think, for gay people and all Americans, really, to
see a president -- obviously with the situation developing as it was, he
was pushed to do it. But to go out there and take this political statement
to the American people and to the world is history-making. Once again, I
think our president has made history.
And, thank you, Clarke Cooper, for the very difficult, conflicting
role you have on this earth.
Up next: Why is Michele Bachmann, who so famously called for an
expose into anti-Americanism in Congress -- well, she did it right here on
this show -- now a citizen of Switzerland? Isn`t that funny? We are going
to bring up that one in about a minute here. What a revolting development.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Do you
remember the big financial recession and the auto companies were going
And I believe -- I thought Mitt Romney had said, let them go broke.
He just said, let Detroit go broke and we will figure something out after
Now he is saying that he single-handedly saved the auto industry.
Mitt Romney is saying, I saved the auto industry. Yes. And for the
last 20 years, I have been hosting "The Tonight Show." So there you go.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there is David Letterman sticking it to Mitt Romney.
Once, by the way, you`re the butt of a top-rate ridicule like that, please,
change the subject, Mitt.
Anyway, we`re in the "Sideshow."
A bizarre twist of fate for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. We won`t
forget, back in 2008, when search went after her colleagues in Congress for
being anti-American during an appearance here on HARDBALL. But get this.
Michele Bachmann has become a Swiss citizens. Yes, we are talking
Switzerland. Bachmann`s husband, of Swiss decent, and when he opted to
register for citizenship, Michele Bachmann was automatically granted dual
So here is the question of the day. What do you think Bachmann would
have done if a Democrat had done this? Can`t you hear it all now? What`s
the matter, America is not good enough for you? You prefer European
socialism to American freedom? What is about liberty you despise so much
to take on a second nationality? That`s what she would be saying.
Another, here`s the kicker. It turns out Switzerland has an
individual health care benefit -- or mandate.
Finally, remember -- remember Rush? That`s right. Rush Limbaugh is
at it again. Earlier this year, Limbaugh`s comments about Georgetown
University student Sandra Fluke led to attacks from all over, including one
from the National Organization for Women.
Well, Limbaugh has got a counterattack. He started a Facebook group
for conservative women. Listen closely for what he is calling it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Sometimes later this month, the
feminazis are going to be working with Media Matters for America and
kicking offer some giant program, some coordinated plan to have me taken
off the air under the premise that women hate this program.
What about the women who like this program? What about the women who
believe in this program? There are many, many more of you than there are
of them. And Rush Babes for America at Facebook is where you go to be
officially counted and tabulated and to make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s an honor. You, too, can become a Rush Babe.
Coming up: The Tea Party claims another moderate scalp. Senator
Richard Lugar is out after losing badly to a candidate who says he didn`t
believe in compromise. It`s another big lurch to the right for the
Republican Party. And the only way to stop the madness, I would say, is to
beat them this November.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
The Dow loses 97 points, the S&P is off nine, and the Nasdaq sheds 11.
Worries that Spain might need to spend billions to shore up its banks sent
the country`s stock market to its lowest level since 2003, taking down U.S.
markets as well.
Meanwhile U.S. crude supplies rose more than expected, leaving oil to
close below $97 a barrel. And after the bell, Cisco reported earnings that
met estimates, sending shares lower in late trading.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It was a bruising loss for longtime Republican Senator Dick Lugar of
Indiana last night, as he fell to Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock by
more than 20 points. And this race is yet another example of the power of
the far-right conservatives and the Tea Party in the Republican Party.
With me now is the man who will face Richard Mourdock in November`s
Senate race, Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly.
Congressman Donnelly, you`re a moderate Democrat. You`re up against a
far-right Tea Partier. How is Indiana, which is sort of a relatively
conservative state, to put it lightly, going to go between a moderate
Democrat near the center and somebody near the other end?
REP. JOE DONNELLY (D), INDIANA: Well, we are a conservative state,
but we`re also a practical state.
And the polls that have been on this race, the one independent poll
shows myself tied with Richard Mourdock. Our own polls show us ahead of
Richard Mourdock. And so he is a person, Chris -- here we are in Indiana,
one of the hearts of the auto industry. He single-handedly tried to
destroy the American auto industry and was the leader in bringing a lawsuit
to try to force the liquidation of Chrysler.
So what it is really about here is economic security, that the mom or
dad in Fort Wayne or Anderson, when they are sitting at a table, that they
know their job is secure, they can make their mortgage payment, get good
education for the kids, and retire with dignity. And that`s why we`re
going to win this race.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at what he said about -- on "The
Daily Rundown" today about where he stands with Chuck Todd. Let`s hear him
talk. I`m amazed that people actually admit they stand like this. Let`s
listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Bipartisanship
ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.
We entered this campaign wanting to be a voice and hoping to give more
of a national voice to the idea that Republicans -- and more specifically
conservatives -- would be in the majority of the United States Senate, and
the House, and hopefully that we have a Republican in the White House.
If we do that, bipartisanship means they have to come our way. And to
me, the highlight of politics frankly is to inflict my opinion on someone
else on the microphone or in front of a camera, to win them over to my
point of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I have never heard the word inflict used as a verb in going
MATTHEWS: You are going to Congress to inflict your views. What does
he think the role is of other members of Congress, just to lose to him?
DONNELLY: Yes, it is astonishing to hear.
Think of Tip O`Neill Ronald Reagan working together. When I first
came into Congress -- I have been privileged to serve with Richard Lugar
for six years. And he is an extraordinary individual. He took me aside
and said: "Look, on Iraq and Afghanistan, these are big issues, and our men
and women are at risk here. And, Joe, ask me anything you want. Talk to
me about any of these issues. There`s no dumb questions. And whatever you
ask, it`s between you and I."
His only goal was, how do we make America stronger? That should be
all our goals.
What you hear here is the old kid who, when they play baseball, would
show up with a ball and bat and say you either do it my way or you are
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It`s my ball, I`m going home with it.
MATTHEWS: You`re the chance for the Democrats to win control of the
Senate, a moderate Democrat. It seems to me the moderate seats are the
ones that are going to decide this thing -- you and Missouri, Montana,
states like that in the middle, and Virginia, were going to decide this
DONNELLY: Well, I don`t worry about that stuff. Because what I`m
focused on is right here in Indiana. I`ve said, I`ll walk from Lake
Michigan to the Ohio River if it adds 10 more jobs here at home.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on, Joe Donnelly.
DONNELLY: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Notre Dame. Go for it.
Let`s look at next guest. Jonathan Chait wrote on the significance
of this race for "New York" magazine.
Jonathan, thank you so much. I want you to analyze what Lugar said
in his sort of concession statement the other night, saying that both
parties are guilty of having, basically having problems with any kind of
negotiation, because they have absolutely in-bed relationship with
ideologues on both sides and can`t negotiate.
JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes, that`s a little bit of pox
on both your houses argument he`s trying to make, and you can see why he`s
trying to make it. I don`t think it holds up. If you look at the examples
that Lugar came up with himself for why both parties are equally at fault,
he said neither party wants to cut entitlements, but Obama has cut
entitlements and has put more entitlement cuts on the table. He said tort
reform which Obama is trying to make deals on, and he said trade, no
Democrat compromise on trade. But Obama also signed a few trade agreements
So, you know, have you a pretty asymmetric polarization.
MATTHEWS: Whereas, Republicans won`t admit science or climate, and
they will never even talk revenues.
MATTHEWS: They are pretty much seen as anti-immigrant. So, they are
not exactly ready to let`s get together here.
CHAIT: No, I think that`s right. I think, you know, you`ve got an
asymmetric polarization which possibly Lugar recognizes. But I think part
of the problem we have is that everyone who`s concerned about this trend
that`s been going on for 20 -- 20 to 30 years, feels compelled themselves
to establish their own bipartisan bona fide so they have to say both
parties do it, when it`s really -- it`s an asymmetric trend. So, they have
a problem recognizing what`s been going on.
MATTHEWS: What do the Tea Party voters expect to get done? I can
understand the impulse to vote Tea Party, because you`re just angry at
everything and you want to vote no, no, no.
But here`s the question, once the person you send in to say no, no,
no, gets there, they can`t get anything done because the Democrats will
never deal with somebody that says no, no, no, because -- why should they?
CHAIT: Look, I don`t blame them for wanting to vote for candidate
who shares their views. I don`t blame conservative Republicans for wanting
an even more conservative Republican than Lugar who is pretty conservative.
But, look, they do have a plan. They think they can win the
presidency. They can take back the Senate by a narrow margin, hold on to
the House, and then they can start passing majority vote bills at least one
MATTHEWS: The consequence of that is the end of like Merkel, the end
of like the Netherlands. If you go in as a single party, and cut all the
entitlements, cut all the spending programs, take all that heat as a party,
you will get trounced in the next election, because one party taking on
that kind of heat, hurting so many people without the cover of the other
party helping them, by saying it`s in the national interest is doomed.
CHAIT: Well, they believe in it. And they`re willing to try. You
have to admire that.
MATTHEWS: You do?
CHAIT: I mean, the contour to the ideas, you have to admire
believing in your ideas and be willing to take a risk on it, right?
MATTHEWS: So you want to be the guy or woman that goes to Congress,
cuts Social Security, cuts Medicare -- these are issues, cutting Medicare,
do they really want to do that? Cut people`s health benefits. When
someone goes in for an operation, sorry, your congressman voted against the
operation, you`re not getting it. Your mother is not getting the
operation. How do you defend that kind of stuff?
CHAIT: Well, I don`t, you know --
CHAIT: I don`t agree with their platform at all. But, you know, I`m
just -- I think there`s been a little bit after wave of commentary of
holding a bipartisanship in and of itself as a positive value. And, look,
if you have ideas that the other party doesn`t agree with, you don`t have
to give those up necessarily. I don`t think that`s a principled --
MATTHEWS: See, I have a very simple rule. If you lose an election,
you recognize the other side won it. You cut the next deal in their favor,
but you cut the deal. So, if you realize you are Democrat, you got to
increase some revenues. You got to accept some cuts. Perhaps the ratio is
not too your liking but you know it has to be done.
And that`s how Tip and Reagan did it. It`ll be in the next book.
Anyway, thank you. Great writing, Jonathan Chait, and I get your
point. And you`re right, it is asymmetric.
Up next, game on in Wisconsin. Democrats have their candidate to
take on anti-union Governor Scott Walker. They got the mayor of Milwaukee.
And this guy looks like he can beat the guy.
Ed Schultz, by the way, who knows everything there is to know about
Wisconsin, is coming right here. Little early tonight, to be on HARDBALL -
- the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: What a race now between Tim Kaine and George Allen for the
Senate down in Virginia. Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
The new "Washington Post" poll finds the Kaine/Allen race is dead
even, 46 all. Both candidates are former governors, looking to replace
retiring Senator Jim Webb who defeated Allen for the seat six years ago.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: From Madison, Wisconsin, here we
are, because they are here -- workers, Wisconsinites, Americans, under
assault, protesting peacefully, in the greatest of American traditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. That was Ed Schultz.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The seeds for the June 5th coming up, Wisconsin governor recall
election were planted way back in February 2011, when thousands protested.
Governor Scott Walker`s push to limit union bargaining rights for public
MSNBC`s Ed Schultz as I said there was and loud.
And last night, Governor Walker got his challenger, Democrat Tom
Barrett, the same candidate Walker by five points in 2010. He`s the mayor
of Milwaukee. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR TOM BARRETT (D), MILWAUKEE: We all have witnessed what has
happened in this state over the last 16 months, with Scott Walker starting
an ideological civil war in the state, that has divided our state like it
has never been -- family members shy away from talking to family members
about politics because it becomes too bitter. It does not have to be that
way in Wisconsin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So is the recall going to succeed?
Ed Schultz is the expert and he`s the host, of course, of the
upcoming show every night here at 8:00 Eastern on MSNBC.
It`s my role to be your warm-up act every night, Ed Schultz.
SCHULTZ: No one`s better.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, you got to do it yourself.
You are an expert as well as an advocate out there, test of labor
SCHULTZ: Well --
MATTHEWS: Can they bring -- can they do the polling operation, the
get-out-the-vote campaign that`s going to work here?
SCHULTZ: They can and they will. That`s what they`re telling me.
No broken noses over this, it was about as clean as it could get it as far
as four Democrats going for the nomination, Chris. And he`s not the
perfect candidate for labor, which speaks volumes about how wrong Scott
Walker has been all along. He says that there`s all these union bosses
around the country that re coming after him -- labor didn`t even support
the guy that won the Democratic primary last night.
Now, Tom Barrett is a good guy. He`s a reasonable guy.
MATTHEWS: The major of Milwaukee.
SCHULTZ: The mayor of Milwaukee, who was dealt a pretty tough
financial hand by Scott Walker, because he took a bunch of cuts in
education, a billion dollars throughout the state. And he`s really boxed
in Barrett on a number of issues, which is going to be -- the real
challenge for Barrett to say, look, I was dealt a tough hand financially.
This isn`t the way our state is going to go. He told me today on the radio
that he is going to restore immediately the education cuts, most of them
that Scott Walker was able to get through.
So, this is really as much about personality at this point as
anything else. In the Badger State, they love debate. In the Badger
State, they love conversation.
Walker with such a heavy hand has come in and almost changed the
personality of politics in that state. And it`s really turned a lot of
independents off. This is one of the things that played into Barrett`s
favor last night. He picked up a lot of independents last night, and it`s
really going to come down to the old politics is local, Chris, who gets the
MATTHEWS: Why do Republicans who come into office on all kinds of
issues, like bad times. The minute they hit the governor`s chair, even --
you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger did this.
MATTHEWS: They go right after public employees, teachers and
firefighters, why do they do that? They`re mad because they supported
their opponents? Is it revenge?
SCHULTZ: They`re an easy target, you know? When someone goes in to
collectively bargain, they`re looking for something that can be vilified
right away. And this has been a 30-year run on labor. It`s now
culmination of all the ALEC activity legislatively, who supported these
SCHULTZ: And also Citizens United has given them the perfect
opportunity to zero in on being very aggressive, and they`re taking their
best shot at it right now. The people of Wisconsin just happen to be the
focal point of democracy of America right now, and it`s going to be a hell
of a battle.
I mean, it`s going to be a photo finish. It`s going to be who gets
the vote, who stays motivated. But we`re talking about 15 months of
MATTHEWS: OK. But right now, you got now until June.
MATTHEWS: Is this a game of get out of vote, identifying voters,
making sure they get to the polls by car service, by cab, whatever it takes
to get in there? Is it voter identification or is it TV advertising?
SCHULTZ: If they are in the rural area, they`re going to go pick
them up. I mean, that`s the mentality that it`s going to be. It`s going
to be a boots-on-the-ground campaign. This is where labor is going to get
into action. They`re not all high on Barrett either. I mean, it`s going
to be a lift here.
James Hoffa told me in Las Vegas earlier this week when I spoke to
the Teamsters, you know, he says he`s not the best candidate.
SCHULTZ: I said, but he`s the best thing you got going. You want
Walker? He said, no, I don`t want Walker. So, it`s --
MATTHEWS: OK, let me get you a chance to do a grito de guerra here,
a battle cry. What happens if Walker wins? What does it say about
SCHULTZ: Well, I`ll use Walker`s comments. He says that this is
going to empower a lot of radical governor and all the other Republicans
around the country that you can overreach in government, that this is
really what the people want, and this is really where we have to take the
country. Look, they are using this and viewing this as a template to the
next level of how they want to run this country.
MATTHEWS: Is the U.S. Chamber behind him and all those people?
SCHULTZ: No question about it. The chamber is behind it. They`re
going to be throwing millions in there. They already have. And the more
money that Walker spends -- I know they don`t like to talk about money --
but the more he goes down in the polls. This is going to be a ground game
MATTHEWS: OK. Great, I love old time politics, and all politics is
local, except for this guy. Anywhere, it gets everywhere. Anyway, thank
you, Ed Schultz, watch him tonight. We`ll be watching "THE ED SHOW" at
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the history President Obama made
today. He keeps making history, regardless apparently of the political
consequence. It was a very human statement today, let`s talk about it.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:
President Obama remains a maker of history. He was the first
African-American to serve as our president. Now, he`s the leader of
another kind, the first president to state his support for recognizing the
marriage of partners of the same sex.
However, the circumstances, he now stands for reelection with this
fact on the table. He stands against the candidate, Mitt Romney, who says
he will never give up his opposition to gay marriage. A candidate who
refuses to stand up for a gay man who has just run out of his campaign.
Could there be a grander canyon between these two men? One fully in
support of the right of gay people to marry, one totally against that
It will take a bit of time to see how this affects the presidential
election. But I have to wonder how gay men and women who now work for the
election of Republican members of Congress, senators and Romney himself,
can sit in their work seats, and refuse to stand up , walk in the direction
of their bosses and candidates and ask them to join the president on this.
I have to wonder how long they can remain indentured servants, how
long they can continue to accept the Republican Party`s "don`t ask, don`t
tell" role, that you can work here as long as you keep your mouth shut on
what you believe on the life you aspire to and those you love.
But tonight, I honor a president who -- regardless of the political
consequences -- declared for all the world to hear, that all God`s children
have the right to love as they were born to love. That ought to account
for something, no matter which way the chips fall in this election.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with the Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.
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