Guests: Robert Reich, Jared Bernstein, Stephen Moore, David Freddoso, Penda Hair, Penda Hair, David Freddoso, Tammy Duckworth
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Numbers game.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Michael Smerconish, in for Chris Matthews.
Leading off tonight: Spin cycle. It`s become a monthly ritual.
Weaker than expected jobs numbers come out, Mitt Romney says President
Obama is failing, the president says he`s making progress. And so it was
today when we learned that only 80,000 jobs were created last month and the
unemployment rate held firm at 8.2 percent. How`s it all going to play in
November? That`s our top story.
Despite the weak jobs numbers, Republicans are increasingly nervous
that Mitt Romney is kicking away a winnable election. It began with a
tweet from Rupert Murdoch and is spreading throughout his media empire.
And now a lot of conservatives, who never liked Romney, are saying, I told
Also, remember when Pennsylvania`s Republican house majority leader
said voter ID laws would help Mitt Romney win the election? Here`s what he
was talking about. A new study shows that three quarters of a million
people in the state don`t have the proper identification, and most of them
are likely Democratic voters.
And not even Scarlet O`Hara said the name Ashleigh so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Hey, look, Ashleigh...
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You told...
WALSH: Ashleigh, Ashleigh, Ashleigh...
WALSH: What`s not respectful, Ashleigh?
WALSH: Ashleigh, I`ll say it again...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: That`s Joe Walsh with Ashleigh Banfield, trying to defend
his position that Tammy Duckworth is not a hero. Duckworth lost both legs
fighting in Iraq, and she joins us tonight. And our Joe Walsh highlight
reel. Exactly how many times did Joe Walsh say the name "Ashleigh"? Stick
around for the "Sideshow."
We begin with today`s jobs report. Robert Reich was labor secretary
during the Clinton administration and Jared Bernstein served as the chief
economist to Vice President Biden.
Mr. Secretary, let me start with you. Before we get to the politics
of it, explain to me the substance. What`s going on? What does it mean in
the big picture?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Essentially, Michael,
growth has stalled. It`s 8.2 percent unemployment, same as last month.
But we also would see that 80,000 jobs were created in June. That`s
nothing to crow about. The average monthly job growth of the last three
months has been about 75,000 jobs, a substantial decline from the job
numbers that we saw in January, February and March.
Now, it`s a similar slowdown to a slowdown we have seen in previous
years. The hope, obviously, is that we get more job growth later in the
year. That`s a hope both economically an politically. But it`s very hard
to make good news out of today`s job numbers.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Bernstein, where is it headed? I think we`re all
aware of the statistic that says since World War II, no president`s been
reelected when the unemployment rate was north of 7.4 percent. Is it
likely that 8.2 could get under 7.4 between now and November?
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO V.P. BIDEN: Absolutely
not. You never know, but that is way outside anyone`s forecast. The most
optimistic forecasts I`ve seen do have the unemployment rate trending down
a bit below 8 percent by the end of the year.
But frankly, between now and then, absent some very important and
necessary economic policy to generate more job growth, which gridlock will
probably block, it`s hard to see things change that much.
SMERCONISH: Let`s talk about the politics. This morning, Governor
Romney was quick to pounce on the jobs numbers and attack the president and
his policies. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The
president`s policies have not gotten America working again, and the
president`s going to have stand up and take responsibility for it. I know
he`s been planning on going across the country and celebrating what he
calls "forward." Well, forward doesn`t look a lot like forward to the
millions and millions of families that are struggling today in this great
country. Doesn`t have to be this way. America can do better. And this
kick in the gut has got to end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: The president also mentioned the jobs numbers in his
speech this morning in Poland, Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We learned this morning
that our business has created 84,000 new jobs last month, and that overall
means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28
months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: That`s a step in the right direction. That`s a step in the
right direction. But we can`t be satisfied because our goal was never to
just keep on working to get back to where we were back in 2007. I want to
get back to a time when middle class families and those working to get into
the middle class had some basic security. That`s our goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, to use a golfing metaphor, is it time for
the president to put aside the 9 iron and bring out the driver? Does he
need to do something more bold relative to the economy?
REICH: I think so, Michael. You know, it`s hard for the president,
obviously. He is correct. He was dealt a terrible hand, the worst economy
since the Great Depression. He, though -- I think he is going to have to
say something more than, We are making progress, it`s slow progress, I was
dealt a bad hand. Now he`s got to be a bit bolder, I think...
SMERCONISH: What might that be?
REICH: Well, he could say, you know, We`re going to have a -- if I
get the votes -- I mean, obviously, Republicans are not going to give him
any votes. But he can say, If and when I do get the votes, we`re going to
have a new Works Progress Administration, a Civilian Conservation Corps.
We`re going to rebuild the nation`s infrastructure. We`re going to
rebuild education. We are going to have a first class nation in every
respect. We`re going to put people back to work. We`re going to fight and
keep fighting for average working people. And he can come up with other
things, as well.
Now, again, Republicans are going to say, as they have already said,
We are not going to spend any more money. The president can say, What
about a middle class tax cut? What about exempting the first $20,000 of
income from the Social Security payroll tax?
I mean, I, president of the United States, am not going to stop making
new proposals simply because the Republicans just say no.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Bernstein, do you...
REICH: He can do a lot of things.
SMERCONISH: Do you agree with the secretary? Do you think that the
president needs to do something more bold than he has done? I mean, you
look at the polls right now, they`re neck and neck. And I think that
Governor Romney is coasting along, being the other guy thus far. How do
you see the politics?
BERNSTEIN: I agree with your analysis. And I like Bob Reich`s ideas.
I think that`s precisely the kind of thing the president should talk about.
Now, he doesn`t need to introduce, necessarily, a bunch of new things.
He can say absolutely correctly, I`ve got ideas that I`ve been trying to
promote on Capitol Hill now for well over a year, and some of them are just
really good common sense. For example, we know that last month, we shed
14,000 jobs in local education -- 23 out of the last 25 months the public
sector has shrunk.
Now, you should go forward at a time like this and say, Folks, these
are your teachers. These are your police. These are your firefighters.
And one of the programs that was most effective in terms of getting
medicine into the system quickly and helping communities to retain those
kinds of jobs was fiscal relief to the states.
Then -- and you were both kind of getting at this. Then it`s
absolutely the case that the president has to explain to people who is
standing directly between them and a better economy, better opportunities
and more jobs, and that would be the Congress.
SMERCONISH: I`ll be curious to see whether he makes this a campaign
against the Congress, meaning, You`ve got to give me back control of the
Let me show you a commercial. Crossroads GPS is up with this new ad
today in battleground states, going after the president`s economic record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America`s jobless rate is still too high.
Barack Obama`s got lots of excuses for the bad economy.
OBAMA: Headwinds coming from Europe.
We`ve had a string of bad luck.
An earthquake in Japan.
An Arab spring.
An ATM. You don`t go to a bank teller.
Some things that we could not control.
You go to the airport and you`re using a kiosk.
We`ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Obama never blames Washington`s wild
spending and skyrocketing debt. Tell Obama, for real job growth, cut the
debt. Support the New Majority Agenda at NewMajorityAgenda.org.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, react to that spot. There is this
narrative that the Republicans, I think, have effectively woven together of
all the debt having been incurred on his watch because of his big spending.
REICH: Well, first of all, it`s factually incorrect. We know that a
lot of that debt comes from the Bush tax cuts. A lot of it comes from the
Medicare drug benefit created by George W. Bush. And a lot of it comes
from cleaning up the mess the Republicans created and Wall Street created.
But beyond that, Mitt Romney is in absolutely no position to talk
about whittling the debt down when he`s advocating a gigantic tax cut for
the wealthy that he`s not going to even pay for. He hasn`t even shown how
he was going to close whatever loopholes he said he`s going to close.
So it`s a both dishonest and hypocritical message. I think Democrats
ought to be standing up to it and saying that that it is dishonest and
hypocritical, and blaming Romney for having not a single new idea for
bringing jobs back, not a single idea.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Bernstein, what I see feeding that narrative --
whether it`s fact or fiction, we can discuss, but even if it is fiction --
is the Supreme Court decision having been upheld constitutionally as a
taxing authority of the Congress. I can tell you, I answer the phone for a
living. You know, I host a radio program where I hear from people who say,
See that? I knew I was going to get whacked with a tax to pay for "Obama
And largely, the people who are calling and asserting that have health
insurance and won`t be subjected to a penalty.
BERNSTEIN: You know, I heard the same thing from a friend of my
sister`s. Look, it`s -- at this point, you really need to do an
information campaign. And just like Bob was saying, it`s not that we
should have a discussion about whether it`s fact or fiction. It is
I mean, I`ve crunched the spending numbers myself. And the fact this
-- and the Congressional Budget Office, nonpartisan, very clear on this
point, that this penalty -- it`s really a freeloader penalty for people who
can afford to get insurance but don`t, and therefore shove those costs onto
the rest of us -- is expected to hit 1 percent of the population. And if
you have insurance, it`s not going to ding you one bit.
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, the sales job has been terrible by the
White House on that point. I don`t deny what Jared Bernstein is saying,
but I don`t think that the White House has carried the ball in that regard.
REICH: No, I don`t think so at all. I mean, I think that the White
House has basically allowed the individual mandate and the Supreme Court`s
kind of tax discussion to carry the day.
I mean, Mitt Romney was saying that this is not a tax until very
recently, and "Romney care" in Massachusetts has exactly the same
individual mandate. I mean, again, what the White House needs to do, it
seems to me, and Democrats, elected Democrats, others need to do is call it
for what it is. I mean, it is -- this is about paying your fair share.
It`s about participating in a national health system.
You will get it back. If younger and healthier people have got to pay
into it, they are going to get it back when they are older and less
healthy. I mean, this is -- this is -- this is all of us in it together,
rather than the Republican view of all of us basically separate and apart.
SMERCONISH: Allow me to show you something that the president said in
an interview with the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. President Obama laid
into Mitt Romney for his health care mandate language flip-flop earlier
this week. The president questioned Romney`s principles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact that a whole bunch of Republicans in Washington
suddenly said, This is a tax -- for six years, he said it wasn`t, and now
he`s suddenly reversed himself. And so the question becomes, Are you doing
that because of politics? Are you abandoning a principle that you fought
for for six years simply because you`re getting pressure for two days?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Jared Bernstein, quick final thought from you on what you
BERNSTEIN: Oh, this is -- we are deep into the silly season, my
friends. I mean, this is one of the most inane debates we`ve had so far.
Look, if people who don`t pay this penalty -- people who can afford to get
insurance but don`t, are placing an implicit tax on the rest of us who have
to cover their uncompensated costs.
Romney understands this. It was part of his "Romney care," and now
it`s part of the health care plan. So this is very, very simple and it
shouldn`t be nearly as confusing as it`s been.
SMERCONISH: Thank you to Robert Reich. Thank you to...
REICH: And Michael, with regard to -- with regard to flip-flopping, I
mean, Mitt Romney is not just a flip-flopper. I mean, he is a double
somersault triple double dip flip-flopper. I mean, this guy has been all
over the map on every single issue. And I think that is an important
quality to bring out to make people understand that it is an aspect of
SMERCONISH: Mr. Secretary, thank you, Robert Reich. Jared Bernstein,
BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Coming up: Republicans are increasingly worried that Mitt
Romney is blowing what could have been a winnable election, and there are a
lot of people on the right who never liked Romney, saying, See, I told you
so. That`s ahead.
This is husband, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: We`ve got a couple of new polls this week from
battleground states in the presidential race, and for that, we check the
We begin in Florida, the biggest battleground of them all, and a new
We Ask America poll has President Obama hanging onto a 1-point lead over
Mitt Romney, 46 to 45. Now to North Carolina, where Republican-leaning
Civitas (ph) poll shows Romney with a 5-point lead over the president, 50
We`ll be right back.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It began with a few tweets
from Rupert Murdoch advising Mitt Romney to shake up his staff and also
admonishing him over his play-it-safe campaign approach. Yesterday, "The
Wall Street Journal," which is owned by Murdoch, published a blistering
editorial. It said that Romney was, quote, "slowly squandering an historic
opportunity to unseat Obama, given the state of the economy."
Conservatives like "The Weekly Standard`s" Bill Kristol and radio host
Laura Ingraham also piled on. Here was Ingraham taking Romney to task for
his vacation in New Hampshire.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is the advisers telling
him, Oh, it`s fine, take a week. You know, there`s no week to spare! We
have a country to save!
Should Romney call the ceasefire or get out there on the trail and get
off the jet-ski?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So what`s going on, and how concerned should the
Republican candidate be? Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania
and an MSNBC political analyst and Stephen Moore is on the "Wall Street
Journal" editorial board. He`s the senior economics writer.
Governor, if the criticism were coming from Salon.com and "The New
Republic," you know, you and I wouldn`t be here having this conversation.
ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Right.
SMERCONISH: So of what...
RENDELL: No question about it, but -- go ahead, Michael. I`m sorry.
SMERCONISH: I was going to say, so of what significance, if any, is
this in showing problems that persist with Romney`s base?
RENDELL: Well, I think, first of all, we`ve got to keep things in
perspective. In terms of voters, this criticism has no meaning at all.
First of all, it`s in the dead of the summer, when no one`s paying
attention to politics except all of us.
Secondly, it`s inside baseball. Voters will be concerned about how
the campaign goes from September on. Voters will be concerned about the
convention speeches and the three (ph) debate performances. Those are
opportunities where Mitt Romney, if he does great in his convention speech,
does great in the debates, all this will be a thing of the past.
So in term of voters, it doesn`t have any effect. Where it could hurt
Mitt Romney is among contributors, particularly conservative-based
SMERCONISH: It doesn`t hurt him last month. He had a $100-million
SMERCONISH: ... watermark for the Republicans.
RENDELL: No, I agree. But the criticism has really reached an apex
right now. That`s the only place it criticize -- it could hurt him. I
think right now, in term of the voters, the effect that this is going to
have on the eventual outcome -- all inside baseball.
SMERCONISH: Stephen, I`m sure you saw today`s "New York Times," which
reported on Romney east relationship with Rupert Murdoch, or rather, the
Listen how "The Times" describes one of the earliest encounters, 2007,
when Romney met with Murdoch and members of "The Wall Street Journal"
editorial board. Quote, "Despite being deeply prepared and animated,
particularly on his love for data crunching, Mr. Romney failed to connect
with either Mr. Murdoch or `The Journal`s` editorial page editor, Paul
Gigot. Instead of articulating a clear and consistent conservative
philosophy, he dwelled on organizational charts and executive management.
At one point, Mr. Romney declared, `I would probably bring in McKinsey,`
the management consulting firm, to help him set up his presidential
cabinet, a comment that seemed to startle the editors and left Mr. Murdoch
visibly taken aback."
Tell us what the relationship is between the editorial board and
Governor Romney. You would think this is a natural constituency for this
STEPHEN MOORE, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, we`ve been very tough on
Mitt Romney. I know Mitt Romney personally. I like him. But we`ve found
a lot of faults in some of his positions. We didn`t like "Romney care" too
much. And what you`re doing the story on right now is the editorial we had
the other day, where we basically said, Look, Governor Romney, the game is
on. Let`s get going. It`s time to really take the gloves off and start
You know, I think one of the weaknesses of Mitt Romney`s campaign so
far has been that he`s allowed these attacks against Bain Capital, against
his business acumen and what he did when he was running that company. This
should be an asset. This is a guy who created whole new industries, who
provided the finances for companies that have created literally tens of
thousands of jobs, unlike the president, who`s never created a private
That should be something he should be trumpeting, but he`s on the
defensive on this, so Obama`s running ads against him. And there`s been
very little positive response on that.
Let me respond to one thing that the governor said.
You know, Governor, I agree with you that this is kind of a slow
season for politics. A lot of people aren`t paying attention to this kind
of day-to-day combat. But I do think the major issue, as you know, is
going to be jobs. We had a lousy jobs report today. And what Mitt Romney
has to do, in my opinion, is really go after Obama much more aggressively
on his miserable jobs record.
SMERCONISH: Stephen, for those who missed the editorial, let me just
show a part of it.
This is the criticism from "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday. "The
Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by
saying the economy stinks and it`s Mr. Obama`s fault."
SMERCONISH: "We`re on its e-mail list. And the main daily message
from the campaign is that Obama isn`t working. Thanks, guys, but Americans
already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some
understanding of why the president`s policies aren`t working and how Mr.
Romney`s policies will do it better."
Governor, is there a candidate problem? Is there a staff problem? Is
there neither? How do you assess that? There`s now a call for some
shakeup in the ranks of the Romney campaign.
RENDELL: Well, I can`t ever remember being associated with a campaign
where there wasn`t a call for a shakeup at some point during a campaign.
RENDELL: That`s the nature of the beast.
And, Stephen, no offense, I read the "Wall Street Journal" editorials.
But I think the average voter probably...
MOORE: That`s music to my ear.
RENDELL: It probably goes over their heads, the average voter.
MOORE: Yes, but you know what, Governor? You read it. And you know
who else reads it? I think the Mitt Romney people do. I think we got our
message across to them that...
RENDELL: I agree.
But, guys, remember, you want to save your best bullets for when the
nation is focused. And I agree you can`t let the summer go by, and he
certainly can`t coast in saying Obama hasn`t done a good job, vote for me.
He`s got to do more.
But what I would really start doing more is after the Democratic
Convention. I would come out with guns blazing for those remaining nine
weeks and really hit it hard.
SMERCONISH: But I think what Stephen`s looking to do...
SMERCONISH: I think, Governor, if I could just insert this, I think
what Stephen`s looking to do, meaning the board, the journalists, is wake
their candidate up so that, by Labor Day, he`s back driving the car.
MOORE: That`s right.
SMERCONISH: Am I right, Stephen?
RENDELL: I agree.
MOORE: Well, let me just say one thing.
RENDELL: Stephen`s point is exactly right that what Governor Romney
has to do is spell out what he would do differently. And that`s very, very
important, because it`s not good enough to say the other guy`s no good.
People want to hear what he wants to do.
MOORE: That`s true. That`s true. Now, he has a 57-point economic
plan. And one of the things that we have said is, you know what? You have
run many campaigns, Governor. You know this. You don`t want a 57-point
RENDELL: That`s 54 points too many.
MOORE: Exactly. And I think we agree on that. And I think it`s got
to be focused.
I think one of the areas where Governor Romney and the campaign
fumbled a little bit was in the aftermath of the Obamacare decision. They
couldn`t even answer the question whether it was a tax or was not a tax.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Governor, it`s not just "The Journal."
Let me show you Bill Kristol, the editor of "The Weekly Standard" --
quote -- "The Romney campaign`s monomaniacal belief that it`s about the
economy and only the economy, and that they need to keep telling us stupid
voters that it`s only about the economy has gone from being an annoying
tick to a dangerous self-delusion."
And I think you`re already starting to answer the question of does he
need to do more than be the other guy, Governor Rendell?
RENDELL: Oh, there`s no question about that.
And he shouldn`t -- sure, the economy`s the central issue, but he
should be heard on other stuff as well. There`s no question about that.
And I think, for example, regulations, we`re over-regulated, that`s a very
good theme. But he has to be specific.
He`s got to be willing to say what regulations are bad, how he would
change them and how he would speed up. I think the problem with
regulations is they take too gosh darn long to enforce. I think we have to
have a mechanism to speed up all of the things that are layered into our
regulation. That would get the economy humming. But he`s got to be
specific about that.
SMERCONISH: Stephen, final thought. Go ahead.
MOORE: ... he has to do, he has to take on Obamacare. This is now,
as you both know, going to be one of the two or three big issues in this
And the message from the Romney campaign has been a little muddled on
exactly how Romneycare is different from Obamacare.
MOORE: I know, in this debate, by the way, when those two debate, the
first thing that Barack Obama is going to say when this comes up is,
Governor Romney, how is Romneycare different from what I did on a national
level? He`s got to explain that to the American people.
SMERCONISH: Stephen, my final thought, if I might...
SMERCONISH: ... Rick Santorum got this right. Mitt Romney`s the
worst-suited person in terms of his credentials to make that case. And I
think that`s what`s about to unfold in those debates.
Anyway, gentlemen, thank you.
RENDELL: Except for one thing, if I could -- sorry.
SMERCONISH: Real quick, Governor. Hurry.
RENDELL: Just one thing.
If he can come up with a cogent replacement plan...
MOORE: There you go. Amen. Yes.
RENDELL: ... not just say, Obamacare, I`m going to repeal it.
You have got to come up with a cogent replacement plan.
MOORE: I agree. Totally agree. Totally agree.
SMERCONISH: On that, everybody agrees.
Governor Rendell, Stephen Moore, thank you, both.
MOORE: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Up next: the Joe Walsh-Ashleigh Banfield highlight reel.
He sure loves saying her name.
And, by the way, you can follow me on Twitter, so long as you can
spell Smerconish. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: Back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
When you think Brad Pitt, you probably don`t think conservative
values. And there`s a reason. In addition to being a big-time Hollywood
A-lister, Pitt has been a big supporter, among other things, of gay
marriage. But get this.
The actor`s mother, Jane Pitt, wrote a letter to a local Missouri
newspaper in response to an op-ed advising Christians not to vote for Mitt
Romney because of his Mormon religion.
Mrs. Pitt then wrote -- quote -- "Any Christian who doesn`t vote on
writes in a name is casting a vote for Romney`s opponent, Barack Hussein
Obama, a man who sat in to Jeremiah Wright`s church for years, did not hold
a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer, and is a liberal who
supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage."
I guess that`s why it`s a good rule of thumb to steer clear of
politics at family get-togethers, right? And this one has the added touch
of going viral.
Finally, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh is drawing criticism for
blasting Tammy Duckworth, his Democratic challenger, in a congressional
race for using her military experience as a facet to her campaign. Walsh
spoke with CNN`s Ashleigh Banfield yesterday and gave new meaning to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Because she`s a war hero, Ashleigh,
that demands our respect, but that doesn`t demand our vote. Ashleigh, this
wasn`t a slip-up. So, I don`t know about you, Ashleigh, but, right now,
Ashleigh, I can tell you I`m not going to back down.
WALSH: No, that`s not what I said, Ashleigh. Ashleigh, no.
Don`t you agree, Ashleigh.
WALSH: When was that, Ashleigh?
WALSH: Ashleigh, you did plenty of research...
WALSH: Hey, look, Ashleigh. Ashleigh. Ashleigh. Ashleigh.
What`s not respectful, Ashleigh? Oh.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: In an attempt to...
WALSH: Ashleigh. Ashleigh. Ashleigh. Ashleigh, I will say it
Ashleigh, look, this is what happens when you have got a congressman
that`s always out in front of people talking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: All right, the final tally, Walsh said Ashleigh 90 times.
But let`s flash back to a year ago. Joe Walsh was on HARDBALL in the midst
of the whole debt ceiling debacle and had quite a strategy for avoiding the
specifics about a Tea Party-backed debt plan. You see where this is going?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: Hey, Chris, let me ask you a question . Do you support that,
WALSH: ... plan, Chris? We have to stop that, Chris. Come on,
Chris. Chris Matthews. Hey, Chris. Hey, Chris. Hey, Chris. Chris,
Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris.
I love it, Chris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Well, 61, 61 name-drops for Chris when Walsh was on
HARDBALL. So he broke his own record with yesterday`s interview.
Tammy Duckworth will be with us later to program to weigh in on
Walsh`s recent comments.
Up next: voting rights and wrongs. A new study shows that three-
quarters of a million voters in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania
don`t have the proper identification to vote this November. And most of
them are likely Democratic voters. That`s ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
A tough day on Wall Street today. The Dow fell 124 points, the S&P
shed 13, the Nasdaq down 39. As you heard earlier, payrolls rose by a
weaker-than-expected 80,000 in June. The unemployment rate held steady at
Some investors are worried that today`s report, while weak, wasn`t
weak enough to prompt the Fed to act any time soon. And speaking of jobs,
electronics retailer Best Buy is reportedly planning to eliminate 2,400
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide, she tried to say --
and now back to Chris and HARDBALL.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When Pennsylvania`s Republican-led legislature passed one of the
nation`s toughest voter I.D. laws last March, Democrats said it was
designed to keep minorities, the young, the poor, in other words,
Democrats, from the polls.
But Governor Tom Corbett`s administration said it would affect just 1
percent of eligible voters. Well, new data released by the state puts that
number quite a bit higher. Nearly one in every 10 registered voters is
lacking the primary form of I.D. required to receive a ballot. That`s a
state`s driver`s license or alternative state I.D.
President Obama, you will remember, carried Pennsylvania in 2008 by 11
points. Now, the counties that he won are in blue. According to the new
data, the highest concentration of registered voters without state I.D. are
in Philadelphia -- you can see it circled -- that`s to the east -- and
Allegheny County, that`s Pittsburgh, to the west.
Both were Democratic strongholds in `08.
Penda Hair is co-director of the Advancement Project. And David
Freddoso, is the editorial page editor of "The Washington Examiner."
Mr. Freddoso, sometimes, you hear a story and it`s taking place far
from where you live and you`re not quite sure of what to make of it because
you`re not on the ground. This is not that story for me. I went to Wawa
this morning in the community where I was born and raised at 7:00, and I
got the local newspaper, and it speaks of how 70,000 voters in two
counties, Bucks and Montgomery County, where I have spent my entire life,
born in one, living in the other, are now in jeopardy.
And I can tell you, we have absolutely no history of voter fraud that
would justify jeopardizing 70,000 people from exercising the franchise.
What do you make of all this?
Well, I would start by backing up and looking at the larger picture
DAVID FREDDOSO, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": First of all, the state is
sending out letters to just about everybody in this category that you have
mentioned who would be affected to explain what the new law does and what
sorts of voter I.D. are acceptable.
College I.D.s are generally acceptable for colleges in Pennsylvania.
Even if they don`t have expiration dates, the school can put one on in the
form of a sticker.
SMERCONISH: I don`t think these are college students we`re talking
FREDDOSO: Oh, now, hang on. I`m just starting here. Any sort of
military I.D., any driver`s license and the alternative form.
But the idea is that anyone can get one for free. And if they weren`t
doing that, then I think that it would be -- the fears might be a lot more
justified. But they`re making things as easy as possible here.
FREDDOSO: And, look, you don`t need a history of people, you know,
marching in en masse and the numbers in the thousands going in and voting
under other people`s names...
SMERCONISH: Well, what do you need?
FREDDOSO: ... in order to realize that, yes, it`s just common sense
that people should show who they are when they vote.
FREDDOSO: Mexico just had an election in which every voter had to do
SMERCONISH: I don`t have a problem with that. I don`t have a problem
with that. Let me just respond, if I might.
And then, Penda, I will come to you.
I don`t have a problem conceptually with the notion of showing an I.D.
before you vote, but you have got to be reasonable and take into account
the community that you`re serving and say, hey, what kind of an I.D. might
the folks who reside here possess?
And when I look in my hometown newspaper and I see that in the county
where I was born, 29,449 lack a driver`s license or state-issued non-
driver`s license, and then the county where I live now, 44,952, it really
brings it home for me.
Penda, what`s going on here?
PENDA HAIR, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, what`s going on is that
the state of Pennsylvania has passed one of the most onerous barriers to
voting that I have ever seen.
As you said, they knocked out three-quarters of a million voters or
more. That`s registered voters with one fatal swoop. And, for example,
we`re suing -- Advancement Project is suing over this law. And our case is
going to court in a couple of weeks.
And we are very, very hopeful that the court will strike this down,
because we have a 93-year-old plaintiff who marched with Martin Luther
King, who cannot get her birth certificate and therefore can`t get the ID.
This law disenfranchises students. It`s not true that their college
IDs are acceptable. It disenfranchises people that don`t drive --
FREDDOSO: That`s what the law says.
HAIR: -- who are mostly low income. Eighty-five percent of the
Pennsylvania colleges do not have an expiration date.
FREDDOSO: All they need is a sticker. That`s what the law says.
HAIR: And you have to do that for so many people in such a short
amount of time. This law was passed in March. There`s no way that you can
get an ID for close to a million people in this short of time.
SMERCONISH: I have to say, let me just get this in if I might. It
seems awfully coincidental and I`m not a believer in coincidence, that as
the country faces the re-election of the nation`s first African-American
president, you`ve got in excess of two dozen states going in a direction
they`ve never gone before.
FREDDOSO: In fact, these laws go back more than a decade at this
point. My home state of Indiana put one into effect I believe sometime the
middle of the last decade. I don`t believe in conspiracy theories.
SMERCONISH: I don`t normally. I don`t normally. You know, I think
we went to the moon and I don`t think much happened in Area 51 and I think
you know, Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone. But this
is pretty darn compelling.
FREDDOSO: Well, you know, again, it makes a lot of sense. The first
time I heard it wasn`t required, I wondered how in the world was that not
required. Every single voter who voted in the Mexican election that just
occurred had to show a photographic ID. Every one in Europe who votes --
in fact, the Pennsylvania law, there are some cases where people who have
religious objections to being photographed, they don`t actually need a
SMERCONISH: The Amish.
Let me share to you something. Because critics say that he voter ID
laws are a solution in search of a problem and that the real agenda is
tamping down Democratic turnout. Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike
Turzai took some heat last month when he included it in a laundry list of
Republican initiatives. Now, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We are focused on making
sure that we meet our obligations that we`ve talked about for years. Pro-
second amendment, the castle doctrine is done. First pro-life legislation,
abortion facility regulations in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going
to allow governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Voter ID, which will allow Governor Romney to win
Pennsylvania. That would seem to bring down the balance, wouldn`t it, that
this is about voter suppression and not ballot security?
HAIR: Absolutely. We know, he admitted why this was enacted and we
know there is a right wing group associated with the Republican Party that
sent out these laws to all the states and they were rammed through for
I`m a nonpartisan organization. I`m concerned about the voters and
I`m concerned about democracy, which is being bulldozed in an effort to
gain a partisan advantage. We know that President Obama won Pennsylvania
by 500,000 or 600,000 votes in 2008. And now, three quarters of a million
people to a million people, we think, just of registered voters, not even
counting the new people that will be trying to get registered are obviously
locked out of voting --
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
HAIR: -- unless they can balance all of these hurdles quickly.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Penda Hair. Thank you, David Freddoso. We
appreciate your being here.
Up next, Republican Congressman Joe Walsh is still trying to make the
case that his opponent, Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, isn`t a real war
hero despite loosing her legs in Iraq. Tammy Duckworth joins us next.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: President Obama has signed into a law a bill aimed to
repair the country`s crumbling roads and bridges and help college students
pay for school. The president signed the bill known as HR-4348 in the East
Room of the White House late today and was joined by construction workers
and college students. Tonight, he`s off to Camp David.
We`ll be right back.
SMERCONISH: We`re back.
Illinois Tea Party Republican Congressman Joe Walsh continues to face
criticism for comments this week about his opponent, Iraq war veteran Tammy
Here`s a portion of what he said Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Understand something about John
McCain. His political advisers day after day had to take him, almost throw
him against the wall and hit him against the head and say, senator, you
have to let people know you served. You have to talk about what you did.
That`s what`s so noble about our heroes. Now, I`m running against a
woman who -- I mean, my God, that`s all she talks about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Walsh has since said he believes Duckworth is a hero.
He told CNN this yesterday about those remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: This wasn`t a slip up. I don`t regret anything I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Here to respond to her opponent is Lieutenant Colonel
Tammy Duckworth, who continues to serve in the Illinois Army National
Guard, following the loss of both her legs when her helicopter was hit in
Iraq in 2004.
Ms. Duckworth, if I were to see you on the campaign trail, if I were
to go to a coffee klatch or some campaign event, as part of your pitch or
speech about your candidacy, how much would I hear you talking about your
military service versus your platform and that what you`re looking forward
LT. COL. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), IL CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I actually
start all of my discussions with constituents about you all know about my
military service, but let me tell you about the time that my family was on
food stamps and my dad lost his job and how important it is for us to focus
on the economy right now.
So, you`ll hear me talk about my military service in certain ways if
I talk about health care for example. The fact is my wounds do give me an
insight to the need for good health care because my family would be
bankrupt had not I been wounded, if I had just been in a car accident.
There`s no way we could have afforded my medical bills. So --
SMERCONISH: I`ve been to your Web site. I can attest to the fact,
you know, there`s a platform, you lay out your position on at least 10
different issues. There`s a jobs plan as well.
I mean, the criticism that he offers is that this is the only thing
you discuss when you`re on the campaign trail. And you`re here to tell us
that`s absolutely not the case.
DUCKWORTH: That`s correct. You know, I think Mr. Walsh is just --
he`s being irresponsible. He`s being his usual irresponsible self.
He actually last week cast some pretty bad votes. I think he was
trying this past weekend to distract voters away from that. You`re talking
about the highway bill earlier, Michael. That`s one of the votes he cast
that was so bad.
He`s the only member of the bipartisan delegation from Illinois to
vote against the highway bill. And he also voted to let student loans
And so this is just typical of him to be very irresponsible both in
his votes and then in his words, trying to distract people away from his
failures as a congressman.
SMERCONISH: You know what this really was problematic, I think. His
comments were appalling. His comments were absolutely appalling. I was
really disappointed that people who are sitting in the audience had an
audible reaction -- either chuckling with him or agreeing, muttering under
their breath. You know what I`m talking about. We just rolled that clip.
DUCKWORTH: Yes. You know, I think that he repeats things so much
that even if they`re not true, they start to sound true and really, again,
focusing people away from the real issue.
And in the case of veterans talking about their service, I think it`s
important that this generation of veterans who are coming home, who have
high levels of unemployment, high levels of post-traumatic stress, high
levels of homelessness and suicides, they should talk about their service
so that they can help that they need, but also so that they can tell
employers about the great leadership skills they developed in combat. The
fact that they`ve been tested and are able to do is job and pretty amazing
So, I hope that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are not muzzled the way
Vietnam veterans were. And I hope that this generation is proud and talks
about their service.
SMERCONISH: These comments, they`re not new for Joe Walsh. An
interview that we have -- that he did with "Politico" this past March, he
said this about you. Quote, "I have so much respect for what she did in
the fact she sacrificed her body for this country. Ehhh. Now let`s move
on. What else has she done? Female wounded veteran. Ehhh. She is
nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm
Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district."
I think that`s more offensive than the audio that we rolled.
DUCKWORTH: Well, this is not -- you`re right, Michael. This is not
the first time that he`s attacked my military service. This is probably
the third time. I`ve been silent in my response the first two times. And
this time, it was just enough he is going after veterans.
I mean, it`s one thing to insult tome. But there are 23 million
veterans in this country who sacrifice so much. I`ve never claimed to be a
hero. The heroes are walking in Afghanistan or laying in their hospital
beds at Walter Reed right now.
It`s unfortunate he chooses to go down this route. But it`s typical
of his irresponsible way of conducting himself. And it`s just not
appropriate for a member of Congress.
SMERCONISH: We have only -- I agree with you. We need more
We have only 30 seconds left. What`s the number one issue on which
you are running?
DUCKWORTH: Jobs and the economy. We need to make sure that we go
ahead and transport that highway bill into jobs, into the districts so that
we can fix our roads and get goods and products to the market, get people
Let`s make sure we get some tax cuts for our businesses that keep
jobs here. And also the one who is hire people who have been unemployed
for more than six months.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth. We
appreciate your being here.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you so much.
SMERCONISH: When we return, allow me to finish with separating fact
from fiction about Barack Obama.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SMERCONISH: Let me finish tonight with this. So I just finished
reading Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss` new book "Barack
Obama: The Story."
When I recently interviewed him, he told me that he spent nearly four
years researching and writing the book during which time he logged 50,000
miles, conducted close to 400 interviews and search libraries on three
continents. The result is the 600-plus-page biography and it ends with
Obama`s acceptance to the Harvard Law School -- meaning there`s more to the
While Maraniss told me that his goal was not to vet the president`s
own memoir, many readers will be tempted to focus on the contradictions
between the story and "Dreams from My Father". The bigger story is what
Maraniss` revelations say about what others missed or did not seek to find.
Time and again, where mere contentions have become the stuff of Internet
lore, Maraniss uncovers never before revealed information, including about
the president`s birth.
Not long after Obama`s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, delivered the
future president, Maraniss writes that an obstetrician/gynecologist named
Rodney T. West dined with a friend who asked, well, Dr. West tell me
something interesting that happened to you this week.
Dr. West was a colleague of David A. Sinclair, who actually delivered
Barack Obama and he responded with a quip. He said Stanley had a baby.
Now, that`s something to write about.
Well, he went on to explain that Stanley in this instance was a young
woman, of course, no miracle birth. Stanley was white, the baby was black.
The father was an African with an interesting name too.
The friend at launch was Barbara Czurles, then a journalist with the
"Star Bulletin". She shared that funny story in a letter she sent to her
own father. We never heard that during the birther debate.
In the polarized world in which we live, many will no doubt parse the
vignette in this book and reaffirm their admiration or antipathy towards
the president. Some will say it confirms a lack of vetting from 2008.
But the takeaway on which all of us should agree is that the volume
of coverage of our modern political debate should not be mistaken for
quality. If the two were synonymous, Maraniss would not have had so much
to write about with a second volume in the works. Bottom line, we`re all
paying a price for eviscerated newsrooms.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "POLITICS NATION." I`m Al
Sharpton, live from New Orleans, where I`m speaking on voting rights at the
Essence Music Festival.
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