updated 7/26/2012 10:17:33 AM ET 2012-07-26T14:17:33

Guests: Charles Blow; Sen. Chuck Schumer, Navin Nayak, Frank Bruni

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The army of the night.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with this tonight. I have this feeling about this
presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It`s not just
about them, it`s about the armies behind them, the people who share in
their victory, also in their defeat.

Look at the army of the night riding behind the presumptive Republican
nominee. It`s an army of war hawks, of neocons, for lack of a better word.
They push for war on every front. They bring war with them in every
election, an agenda of a country they want us to fight.

People voted for W, they got Iraq. Why? Because the army poised
behind the uninformed, ill-read W knew what he didn`t. They knew the
target. When 9/11 struck, they struck. This time, it`s Iran. But don`t
think they`re going to end it there. These old cold warriors haven`t been
happy since the Berlin wall fell. They want another big one with Russia,
with China.

Listen to Romney`s words, even if he didn`t -- he didn`t write them
himself. He`ll say what it takes to get the right wing behind him. But
that right wing will follow him right into the White House. They will grab
the levers of military power, like Rumsfeld and Cheney did before them.
They will use them. And you can bet on that.

Joan Walsh writes for Salon and is an MSNBC political analyst. And
Charles Blow is a columnist for "The New York Times."

Joan, you`re laughing because you know I`m telling the absolute truth.
There is an army of John Boltons out there and Dmitri Simes (ph) and all
these people just -- they just -- they have nothing else to do but get jobs
in a new Republican administration every 10 years or so or 12 years in
which they can push for their latest war agenda. They are absolutely
consistent.

Here`s the question. Who wins if Obama loses? Let`s start with the
neoconservative Mitt Romney and his foreign policy team, including noted
neocon John Bolton. He`s a winner.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: John Bolton...

MATTHEWS: They seem to be having -- they have -- they`re willing to
fight on every front. He was Romney speaking yesterday in unapologetic
terms. That`s a phrase they love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am an
unapologetic believer in the greatness of America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I am not ashamed of American power, and I am guided by one
overwhelming conviction and passion! This century must be an American
century!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s talking to a bunch of former warriors. He`s talking
about making this an American century through military power. You know, I
heard somebody go, Hoo-ah, in the background there. What is going on here?
Is this a scene from "Gone With the Wind" with the Southern rebels saying,
We can`t wait to get to war with the Yankees? Are these people nuts? Is
he nuts for believing in that cause? Your thoughts.

WALSH: Well, I mean, the big winner in this is going to be Dick
Cheney, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

WALSH: Already...

MATTHEWS: He`s back!

WALSH: He`s back. He`s absolutely back. You know, poor George Bush,
we don`t see much of him. He endorsed Romney, and then the elevator closed
in front of his face. He`s gone.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s honestly embarrassed by how he was used.

WALSH: I hope so. I hope that`s true. Cheney certainly is not
because he wasn`t used, he was the user. And Cheney is, you know, holding
fund-raisers for Mitt Romney. Mitt called him a person of judgment and
wisdom. So you know, you`re going to see Dick Cheney playing a role. John
Bolton is going to have a huge role.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

WALSH: He gets floated as national security adviser or even secretary
of state, which I think is preposterous. But what do I know about this
crowd? You got Eliot Cohen (ph), who was Condi`s adviser. And that whole
phrase, "the American century," goes back to the Project for a New American
Century, which was the blueprint for the Bush foreign policy and for the
war with Iraq.

So we`ve got those same people again. It`s something like 70 percent
of his named foreign policy advisers come from the Bush/Cheney regime.

MATTHEWS: The interesting thing is one of the smartest lights in that
whole crowd intellectually is Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard,"
Charles, and he`s been holding back. Maybe there`s a little bit of a fear,
if you show too much face in this, they`ll actually see you coming.

CHARLES BLOW, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. I mean, I think -- well, the
problem is that most of America is exhausted by war. And that`s why it
rarely comes up. It didn`t come up very much in the midterms. It won`t
come up very much in this presidential cycle because we are just exhausted
by it.

And part of that exhaustion is wanting to turn away. Part of it is
that the people who fight the wars for America are not necessarily -- you
know, that`s the different 1 percent. It is not the 1 percent wealthy...

MATTHEWS: You`re being kind.

BLOW: It is...

MATTHEWS: There`s not much overlay in those two groups.

BLOW: Right. Exactly. This is another 1 percent that we like to
ignore. We like to pretend that we can go about our business and eat our
fast food and live our lives out and not pay attention to the devastating
effect that it`s having on our soldiers and on America. And we turn a
blind eye to that.

And I think that when people start to beat the drums of war, as the
Republicans are doing in this cycle, that starts to scare some people.

MATTHEWS: OK. Charles and Joan, that`s one big group that`s poised
behind the candidate, Romney, ready to win. Let`s look at another one
that`s even less pleasing to behold, Grover Norquist and his 1 percent
crowd. They love Romney`s plan to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for the
very wealthy and bring down individual rates at the top, in addition to
lowering the corporate tax, one of their big babies here.

And we can -- who could forget the image you see on your screen of the
Republican candidates raising their hands, every one of them, against a 10-
to-1 deal, Joan. These people are totally in the pocket of the guy whose -
- whose -- they actually put their own signature on it because he demanded
it, like a mob boss. He says, You have to sign on to my deal in taxes.

WALSH: He`s...

MATTHEWS: The second army, there they are, the wealthiest who are
going to control Romney.

WALSH: The 1 percent. It was supposed to be the year of the 99
percent, and let`s hope it is, Chris. But if Mitt Romney wins, we`re back
to the year, the decade, the century of the 1 percent.

And he`s not hiding that. He`s not -- a lot of this rhetoric about
success and Barack Obama doesn`t understand success is really him saying
the rich know what needs to be done for the country, and the rest of you
people need to just sit down, shut up, and let us do it. And that`s what
you`ll see under a Romney presidency.

And you know, Grover Norquist is just part of it. You`ve got Romney
really, really aggressively cutting the top tax rates and raising the rates
on the lowest 20 percent.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.

WALSH: I know we`re not talking about losers here, but that is part
of what happens, so...

MATTHEWS: I know. We`re going to talk about that in the next segment
tonight.

WALSH: It`s obscene. It`s obscene.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this. So we`ve got the army poised,
the neocons who want to go to war, the real war hawks waiting to go to war
with Iran or whoever else they can start a fight with in the street corners
of their mind, by the way. Anyway, you`ve also got the rich people who
want to make sure they get an even better deal than Bush gave them.

Let`s talk about the religious right. Romney wants to overturn Roe v.
Wade. He wants to basically ban abortion nationwide, no abortions. You
got to go to the Dominican Republic or Canada or somewhere, or Mexico. You
can`t have one here.

He also supports a federal amendment to say marriage has got to be man
and a woman. So here he is, slamming the door on any kind of evolutionary
thinking in this country about tolerance and understanding of different
people and their decisions they make.

What do you make of this, Charles?

BLOW: Well, see, and this is the other part of the problem when it
comes to conservatism. Even if you buy the line of fiscal conservatism,
which is arguable, what you get is -- they use it like a Trojan horse to
sneak in the social conservative agenda, which touches people`s lives, in a
lot of ways, in a more intimate way than the fiscal policies could ever do.

And what they`re doing is basically saying, Give us the presidency
based on a sagging economy. And along with that, we will give you four or
eight years, if he were to be reelected, of a very draconian social agenda.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BLOW: That is not -- I mean, I think that actually scares a lot of
people. That`s why he`s having such a hard time with women voters. I
think people are really worried about that. Even women who prioritize the
economy, may be conservative, really can`t go along with this line of
reasoning.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what our polling is showing. The Obama
campaign, obviously, is hoping to use Romney`s record to appeal women
voters. Here`s an ad playing in swing states going after Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m Barack Obama and I
approved this message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every woman who believes decisions about our
bodies and our health care should be our own is troubled Mitt Romney
supports overturning Roe versus Wade. Romney backed a law that outlaws all
abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. And that`s not all.

ROMNEY: I`ll cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For women, Planned Parenthood means life-saving
cancer screenings and family planning services. But for Mitt Romney...

ROMNEY: Planned Parenthood -- going to get rid of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Joan, this isn`t hard -- this is not a hard election
for people to vote in. Maybe I understand now why something like 93
percent or 95 percent of the country has made up its mind because you want
to go to war, you want to outlaw abortion, want to outlaw same-sex, do you
want to give all the money to the rich, vote probably.

WALSH: Defund -- get rid of Planned Parenthood, which, you know, one
out of five women in her lifetime is going to go there, vote Republican.
Vote for Mitt Romney.

And you know, in 2010, in 2011, the new House, what did they do? They
said they were going to do something about jobs, and one of their first
attempts was to defund Planned Parenthood. So the social agenda is also
driving things, and I think it`s a scary one. And I think people -- I
think voters get that it`s a scary agenda.

MATTHEWS: Well, if you like war, if you like chancing (ph) wars, if
you like looking for the next one to fight, like the neocons on the right
wing love to do, if you want to give all the money to the rich, if you want
to outlaw anything for social justice or freedom in this country -- here`s
the last nail in the coffin for the right. Polluters will win if Obama
loses.

Romney said in his 2010 book he believed humans contributed to climate
change, but he`s been moving to the right on this baby, as well. Here he
was just last October.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: My view is that we don`t know what`s causing climate change
on this planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars
to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What a pander bear, Charles, a pander bear!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He is saying that for one reason. Because the richest
people in this country, who don`t like any kind of EPA regulation or any
regulation, love this kind of agnosticism, "We don`t know." And let`s make
sure we never know until the entire North American -- north part of this
planet we live on melts.

BLOW: Right. Right. And that`s really where you have to draw the
line. You have to say -- we have to start somewhere. If we haven`t
already passed a tripping point, where things cannot go back, if we haven`t
already tipped over a mark, we have to draw a line somewhere.

We know that extreme weather phenomena are happening on the planet.
This is not -- this is not up for debate. We know that things are slowly
getting hotter, and that is feeding that extreme weather, whether that be
droughts or whether that be downpours and flooding in places where there
hasn`t been flooding, or the flooding is more severe than it has been in
decades, if not ever on record.

We know this is a very real thing. And we have to say, Are we
custodians of the planet and are we going to take a lead? The Republicans
love to say America must lead. This is one area where they`ve refused to
lead...

WALSH: Not on this. Not on this.

BLOW: ... the world. And this is the area where we do the most -- we
can do the most to help save the planet, is on this issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, if you want to see Dick Cheney and Donald
Rumsfeld and -- oh, Scooter Libby. He`ll joining the party that night.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: They`ll all be doing their high fives and embraces and
toasting victory. Just think about the stakes when we talk about now --
from now to the election. Anyway, Joan Walsh, as always, thank you.
Charles Blow, as well.

WALSH: Thank you.

BLOW: Nice to be here.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: The fight for fairness, Democrats pushing to end
tax cuts for the very rich, Republicans pushing to keep them there and end
some tax cuts, actually, for lower and middle-class people. What`s going
to win here and what`s going to matter to you?

Also, global warming. Environmentalists are targeting global warming
deniers -- we`ve just been talking about them -- on the right, the "flat
earth five," they call them, for defeat. Can they finally turn this into a
campaign issue?

And check out this quote. "Michele Bachmann`s a fool, and the fact
that she`s on the Intelligence Committee is mind-boggling." And that`s
from the guy who ran the Republican campaign nationally in 2008. The
latest on her McCarthyesque charges about disloyal Muslims in the
government coming up.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with Christian Bale, who did the
right thing in the wake of a tragedy.

This is HARDBALL, place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New poll numbers from some key states and races. Let`s
check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

We start in Pennsylvania, where a new PPP poll gives President Obama a
6-point lead over Mitt Romney, 49-43, too close for comfort, I say. In
Michigan, a state where polls have been close lately, the president has a
14-point lead, however, over Romney in a new PPP poll, 53-39 -- 53-39.
Keep in mind PPP is an automated poll that tends to favor Democrats.

And turning to the Massachusetts Senate race, a new Mass. Inc. (ph)
poll gives Democrat Elizabeth Warren a 2-point lead over Republican Scott
Brown. That`s not enough.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair
shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same
rules!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That speech in December in
Kansas was President Obama`s unofficial kickoff to his reelection campaign.
And the theme was clear, fairness. Today, the president got support for
that message big-time. Senate Democrats voted for President Obama`s plan
to extend the Bush tax cuts only for families making less than $250,000 a
year -- in other words for 98 percent of Americans.

Well, moments ago, I spoke with a very happy Democrat, Senator Charles
Schumer of New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Is this position of the party now, which is official -- is
this a winner?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Oh, it`s a big winner. You know,
for 30 years, Chris, Republicans have won the tax debate by conflating
middle class tax cuts with tax cuts on the very wealthy. And those days
are now over.

We have made a clean break. We`ve said that middle class people,
whose incomes are declining in today`s society, deserve a tax break, but it
would be better to put the money for wealthy people instead of in a tax
break into deficit reduction.

That`s a big winner for us. And the reason Mitch McConnell let us
have a vote was because he was afraid that if we only voted on our bill,
that they would lose. That`s the first time -- it`s the first time that
Republicans are on the defensive on taxes. I think that`s going to
continue. This is a watershed day that we`ll see reflected over the next
several years.

MATTHEWS: Well, 98 percent is an awful lot of voters, so it sounds
like a winner. But you also hear a lot of anger from people with money,
like the Koch brothers. They`re out spending millions of dollars in these
super-PACs to destroy Obama. Is that going to be a problem for the
Democrats, the wealthy with their revenge on this thing?

SCHUMER: Well, the wealthy are -- the Koch brothers are doing it,
whether they pay 30 percent in taxes, 40 percent in taxes, or 20 percent in
taxes. I don`t know them particularly, but these wealthy people who are
giving, their view is they shouldn`t pay any taxes.

Let`s have a value-added tax, they would say, on middle class people,
or something like that. It just -- it shouldn`t be a factor, and it isn`t.

On the other hand, when average middle class people see that Democrats
are looking out for them and are actually for tax breaks for them, while
Republicans are saying, No, we have other priorities that are much higher
tax breaks for the wealthy or whatever, we win.

And that`s how it felt on the floor today. You know, Mitch McConnell
didn`t think we`d be able to win this vote. We did. We beat their
proposal and we voted -- got a majority vote for our proposal. That hasn`t
happened in a while on a tax issue.

MATTHEWS: Well, you just raised a big issue here. If the Republican
wealthy people don`t want to tax the rich, they want to tax somebody else
because they want to deal with the deficit their way. Do you think they
would actually have the nerve, for example, if Governor Romney were
elected, that they`d go a whole new direction here and push for a value-
added-tax, a national sales tax, to relieve the pressure on the rich?

SCHUMER: Well, I think some of the big backers of Romney, that`s what
they want. That`s what they advocate. When Herman Cain did his 9-9-9, it
got support, you know, almost delirious support from some of these people,
even though it was very, very regressive.

And these people don`t understand one thing, Chris. The number one
problem we face in America is that middle class incomes for the first time
since World War II are declining, even though incomes for the very wealthy
are back going up again. And that is a serious problem that thoughtful
people of means, wealthy people, understand and know we have to deal with.
But there are some people who just are thinking of themselves and they
think, if everyone could be like them, the world would be a great place.

MATTHEWS: You know, our new NBC poll that just came out, our "Wall
Street Journal"/NBC poll, backs up what you`re saying. It says that people
care more about fairness than they do about this economic freedom argument
the Republicans are pushing, also that your party, the Democrats, are
better for the middle class.

Will these be the issues...

SCHUMER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... support for the middle class, and fairness, be the
winning ticket for November, when the country votes?

SCHUMER: You know, the key to the November election, everyone knows
the economy is slowly -- all too slowly -- making progress.

And I think people understand that and live with it. And I don`t
think they blame President Obama. They want to know how you get us out of
this problem. And the way to get us out of this problem, the way the
Democrats prescribe it, is a lot different than the way the Republicans
prescribe it.

We believe on focusing on the middle class. They believe on focusing
on the most well-to-do. That`s a winner for us, but it`s the right policy
for America, mostly -- most importantly of all.

MATTHEWS: OK. Chuck Schumer of New York for fairness, thank...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... you so much for joining us tonight on HARDBALL.

SCHUMER: Hey, it`s a good day, good day...

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

SCHUMER: ... and a long -- first good one on taxes in 30 years for
us.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Senator Schumer.

SCHUMER: Bye-bye.

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Schumer made some news there. He thinks the
Republican candidate for president is basically pushing an army which
supports a big national sales tax as a way that the rich can avoid paying
their share in terms of high rates. They get away with paying high rate --
or not paying high rates by getting the middle class to pay a big consumer
tax, a national sales tax.

It seems to me the only way out if you`re not going to have a fair
system on the income tax side.

Anyway, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman is here to dictate what
the truth is here. He`s editorial director for the Huffington Post Media
Group.

Let`s talk about a couple things. First of all, we have got an
interesting development here tonight. Brian Williams on "The Nightly News"
tonight interviewed Mitt Romney. And let`s take a look at what the
candidate said about releasing his tax returns -- or didn`t say. Let`s
listen to this debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS")

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": You also know what
happens in the real world, Governor. People hear, he`s not going to
release the rest of his returns, and they wonder why. They wonder, is
there a year there where he paid no taxes? They wonder about expensive
horses and houses and what have you.

So, I will ask another way. What is it that is preventing you from
releasing the rest of your returns?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, one, I have released
all the information about my financial holdings. That`s required by law.
And then, in addition, beyond the law, I have released or will finally
release actually when the last year is complete two years of full returns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s not really an answer. Apparently, his full
answer doesn`t have any more information either. He never really says what
the problem is, to answer Brian`s question.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he didn`t
answer it.

MATTHEWS: Nor would be likely to.

FINEMAN: No, he`s not going to be likely to answer that. And he had
that frozen semi-grin look that I have...

MATTHEWS: That benign look.

FINEMAN: ... I have seen Mitt -- or that I have invoked from Mitt
Romney myself upon occasion.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean? You stupid reporter, you`re not
getting anything here?

FINEMAN: No, it means, I can`t believe I`m sitting here through this.
It`s a part of this process that I don`t really like and don`t think is
really warranted. But somebody told me I had to do it, so here I am.

He didn`t answer the question. And nor did he deny -- take the
opportunity to deny, by the way, that there had been a year when he hadn`t
paid any taxes. And some people think that 2009 is possibly such a year.
Some of his staff have kind of said, no, that`s not the case. But he had
an opportunity there to say, that`s not the case. He didn`t fall into that
trap, which probably from his point of view is smart.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what I believe? If it`s better than it
looks, they will tell you .

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And it doesn`t look too good right now.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the VAT issue. If you put the math
down on paper -- and Republicans are still somewhat conservative about
deficits. They don`t like them anymore than anybody else does -- how do
you avoid raising taxes on the rich, avoid cutting defense spending --
really you can`t do much with entitlements in the short run -- to deal with
the looming deficit that a Republican president would incur?

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They have to go to some other form of revenue.

And you do hear this. And now you heard it tonight from Chuck
Schumer.

FINEMAN: Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS: Would they dare raise a national sales tax on us?

FINEMAN: Well, first of all, it`s always worth listening to what
Chuck Schumer says about political strategy and the gamesmanship of ideas
and how they intersect with politics.

He was basically pointing the White House and the Obama campaign and
the Democrats generally in the direction of asking, OK, Republicans, as you
said, if you don`t want to raise taxes on anybody, if you want to keep
defense spending where it is, by the process of elimination, you get to a
sales tax.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And some of your candidates in the primaries supported that
idea. Herman Cain actually was leading in the race at one point.

MATTHEWS: To big cheers.

FINEMAN: To big cheers.

MATTHEWS: Because it means that the rich won`t have to pay their
share.

FINEMAN: OK. So -- so it`s a legitimate question to ask Mitt Romney
and a legitimate accusation to make that, hey, by process of elimination,
you have got to be for something like that.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: And that`s what Schumer suggested...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So here we have a country where consumers out there have
low confidence and they`re scared to spend.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: I got an idea. Let`s raise a tax on everything they buy.

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: That will really encourage them to spend money.

FINEMAN: But, presumably, Mitt Romney...

MATTHEWS: Terrible idea.

FINEMAN: Presumably, if asked, Mitt Romney will say, why, no, I would
never countenance a thing such as a VAT, which then gets you back to the
question of how you`re going to do something about the deficit.

So, it`s a legitimate question to ask.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Obama campaign is fighting back against
Republican charges that the president said successful businesspeople didn`t
really build their own businesses.

Well, here -- here`s a new Obama ad to go at that again. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those ads taking my
words about small business out of context, they`re flat-out wrong. Of
course Americans build their own businesses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, we got a Romney statement from 10 years ago where
he is saying that Olympic athletes owe their coaches, their parents, their
communities for supporting them.

FINEMAN: Yes. I saw that.

MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know. It seems to me if he -- if Obama
came out and said entrepreneurial zeal doesn`t count for anything, hard
work doesn`t count for anything, you owe your talents to the masses or some
communistic statement like that...

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: He didn`t say that.

FINEMAN: No, he didn`t say that.

And it`s sort of a characteristic of this campaign year. Remember
Mitt Romney said I like to fire people?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: He ran around saying, I like to fire people?

Well, that wasn`t fully in context either. Not that two wrongs make a
right here, because I think that what the Romney campaign has done in
editing the president`s remarks are beyond the pale. I have carefully
studied the speech. I carefully studied the context.

The Romney campaign does take his remarks out of context.

MATTHEWS: He`s talking about roads and bridges. You didn`t build
them.

FINEMAN: Yes. And he`s talking about the whole context of the -- of
the idea that rugged individualism and community go together in this
country, which is an unassailably true comment.

Now...

MATTHEWS: Especially for real estate developers.

FINEMAN: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: You have to get the infrastructure to come in and help you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You can`t make a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... without the help of government.

FINEMAN: Even the guy -- the guy in the Romney ad got all kinds of
help from the government.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: But it`s true that this ad has put the Obama campaign on the
defensive.

You don`t make an ad like the one that the president made there if you
don`t feel wounded. David Axelrod has said, oh, no, it`s not a big deal.
For them to have to put this ad up shows that however over the line that ad
was, it did have an effect.

MATTHEWS: I know, because this election, if it goes against Obama, it
will be because people think he`s further left than he appears or presents
himself...

FINEMAN: Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... and that Romney is further left than he appears.

FINEMAN: Right. And the Romney campaign is pushing it as far as they
can in swing states.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Howard, we have got to go.

FINEMAN: All right.

MATTHEWS: Howard, you`re the best. Thank you. You have figured it
out, Howard Fineman.

Just in time for the Olympics now, a new anti-Romney ad hits Mitt
where it hurts. Boy, they went after his strength. The "Sideshow" is
next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up, hit them where they`re strong. A pro-Obama super PAC is out
with a new ad giving Mitt Romney a gold medal. But it`s not one he`d want
to have. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: Welcome to the Olympics. There`s Mitt Romney, who ran the
Salt Lake City Games, waving to China, home to a billion people.

Thousands owe their jobs to Mitt Romney`s companies, India, which also
gained jobs thanks to Romney, an outsourcing pioneer, and Burma, where
Romney had the uniforms made for the 2002 Games. We know the Swiss have a
special place in Mitt Romney`s wallet -- or heart. He kept millions in
Swiss banks.

Bermuda, home to a secretive corporation set up by Romney. The Cayman
Islands, where Romney keeps millions to avoid U.S. taxes. He sure knows
how to go for the gold for himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Don`t you love that old-time sports announcer`s voice
there? Anyway, the ad is set to run in some swing states.

Finally, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai has said the
new state`s new voter photo I.D. law would help Mitt Romney win the state.
Well, it turns out he`s not the only state official saying such new
requirements will bring Republicans victory. Wisconsin State Senator Glenn
Grothman in an interview with a ThinkProgress reporter said the new voter
I.D. law passed in his state would play for Romney, if his state court
upholds it in time for the November election, that is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it were upheld and in place in time for the
November election, do you think -- the polls have shown a pretty razor-thin
margin. Do you think it might ultimately help Romney`s campaign in the
state?

GLENN GROTHMAN (R), WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: Yes. I think we believe
that insofar as there are inappropriate things going on, people who vote
inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, if these protections are in place, the voter
I.D., that might ultimately help him in a close race?

GROTHMAN: Right. I think, if people cheat, we believe the people who
cheat would be more likely to vote against us.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, did you catch that little innuendo there? People who
commit voter fraud are more likely to be Democrats.

Well, it`s actually something like this. Minority groups and older
voters are more likely to not have required forms of I.D. to cast a ballot
these days. And those same groups are people who tend to vote Democrat.
Is that what he means by someone who votes inappropriately? Wow, what
language.

Anyway, up next: Environmentalists are going after global warming
deniers in the House of Representatives. They`re calling them the Flat
Earth Five. That`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De
La Cruz. And here`s what is happening.

Sources tell NBC News that authorities have recovered a package sent
by James Holmes to the University of Colorado`s medical campus. It
contained writings about killing people.

And police are investigating an abduction involving Cal Ripken`s
mother. She was kidnapped yesterday at gunpoint and found earlier
unharmed.

On Wall Street, a bunch of better-than-expected earnings overshadowed
Apple`s profits miss. The Dow gained 59, the S&P was flat, and the Nasdaq
fell nine.

I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

You don`t need to be a weatherman to tell that -- how hot it`s been
getting outside, but if you feel that those long hot days of summer and
those unseasonably warm falls, winters, and springs are more frequent than
ever, you`re not wrong.

Last year was the warmest ever recorded. And the 13 hottest days on
record all occurred within the last decade-and-a-half. Take a look at what
happened in Greenland over just a couple of days earlier this month. NASA
used satellites to study ice melt in the country and found 40 percent of
the ice sheet thawed on July 8. That`s about average for a Greenland
summer.

But just four days later, 97 percent of the country`s ice sheet was
melting, the largest area in more than three decades of satellite study.
So, we have got a lot of facts here. And this is exactly what people
against global warming have said would happen.

And yet, despite scientific consensus, many Republicans in Congress
deny climate change science. Now an environmental advocacy group is aiming
to take down five members of Congress who deny the link between human
actions and global warming this November.

Navin Nayak is a senior vice president of the League of Conservation
Voters, a great organization, and David Corn is an MSNBC analyst and author
of "Showdown."

Well, maybe this is your showdown. Is it, Navin?

NAVIN NAYAK, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: We
really hope it is.

MATTHEWS: Are you going to knock out these five people? I remember
the old dirty dozen days, when they used to -- the League of Conservation
would nail a dozen people and say we`re getting rid of you bums.

NAYAK: We still do the dirty dozen.

What we`re doing now that is even different is, is not only are we
getting the worst environmental records. We think things have gotten so
bad that now is the time to actually go after these five people who don`t
even believe in basic climate science.

It`s not that they`re just voting wrong. These people actually think
it`s a hoax or think it`s a myth. And it`s impossible for us to actually
solve these big problems as long as we have people in Washington that don`t
even believe that it`s happening.

MATTHEWS: But, David, most of them seem to do the game that we`re
watching Romney play, play agnostic: It hasn`t been proven yet.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.

Well, we have seen a real shift, I think, about four years ago.

MATTHEWS: From him.

CORN: Yes, well, from him, but in general. With Al Gore`s movie and
back when Obama was elected, it really seemed like there was a consensus.

You had Newt Gingrich on the couch with Nancy Pelosi.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: You had the -- I think mainstream of the Republican Party...

MATTHEWS: Why did they change?

CORN: ... they didn`t want to do anything, but they kind of believed
it. They didn`t argue the question.

MATTHEWS: What changed?

CORN: George Bush stopped arguing the point even as well.

What changed was I think the Tea Party-ization of the party, of the
Republican Party. They -- their base moved so far to the right. And one
of the items they had was anti-science. It was either anti-evolution or
anti-climate change. And Mitt Romney, who, as a governor, talked about,
you know, regional climate change...

MATTHEWS: OK. You study this.

CORN: ... had to drop it.

MATTHEWS: You do this for a living.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want a -- I want a fundamental honest answer here.
What`s with this "Planet of the Apes" attitude towards science? It`s not
just toward the environment. They don`t openly say they`re pigs.

It`s like in the movie. They don`t like science. What`s that about?

NAYAK: I mean, here`s the biggest thing that changed, just the
unprecedented money by oil companies.

MATTHEWS: Explain that to the viewers and me. Why do oil companies
oppose anything about climate change?

NAYAK: Well, obviously, part of the problem is our dependence on
fossil fuels. If we`re going to get serious about solving global warming,
it means we`ve got to get serious about transitioning off of fossil fuels.

And so, oil companies, coal companies --

MATTHEWS: Koch brothers.

NAYAK: Koch brothers pouring $200 million into Mitt Romney`s campaign
and getting his elected. No doubt he`s flipped his position.

MATTHEWS: But don`t they worry about the planet they and their
children live on, their grandchildren? This is the only planet we got
right now.

NAYAK: Not as much as their third quarter profit earnings or how much
they`re going to make at the end of the year. And so, I think the campaign
we`re going to run is going against these five unabashed deniers in saying
unless they start to feel some pain and get defeated.

MATTHEWS: This is a tough question, how do they put together this
piggishness about the environment with their religious commitments?
Whether it`s Jewish or Christian or whatever, there`s a love of this
planet, because it`s the only one we have, and it fits into every -- it
comes from every religious belief. You don`t destroy. We are the stewards
of this planet. You don`t destroy it.

CORN: There is a group of evangelicals who support climate action
just following your train of thought there. But you can look at a taxation
policy and you can talk about what Jesus said about helping the poor. You
don`t see that always happening in the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: You`re widening the attack.

CORN: I am widening the attack.

But I don`t see any reason they should care more about the climate
opposed to social justice.

MATTHEWS: Because of the political party Theodore Roosevelt who began
conservation, who stood for it against all awful people.

Let`s take a look, the League of Conservation Voters named New York
Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle the first of what you call it`s flat-earth
five, global warming deniers in Congress, targeted for defeat. She`s one
of them. She looks like to be number one.

Here`s what earned her the distinction from a 2010 debate against
then-Congressman Dan Maffei, her opponent again this time. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it global warming?

REP. ANN MARIE BUERKLE (R), NEW YORK: I think that, Dan,
unfortunately, a lot of the global warming myth has been exposed. This cap
and trade bill is a tax on energy. That`s all it is. It`s a tax on energy
and it`s based on some specious global warming. Whether or not there is
real global warming, it has not been determined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: They used to say of Ronald Reagan, he only studied an issue
long enough to agree with the right wing position. He didn`t want to study
another hour because he might find another point of view, right?

People like that, they`re not dumb. Why do they make the decision to
reach that they don`t understand something because that`s what? Convenient
politically?

NAYAK: Yes, here`s what we`re going to prove with this issue and
campaign is that we`re going to show whose side people are on. When you
take a position like that, you`re not in the interest in the average
American, or you`re not interested in solving problems that Americans care
about.

"Washington Post" poll came out, 77 percent of Americans want Congress
to do something about this. When you take a position as a denier, you`re
basically saying I`m with the oil companies. I`m with the coal companies.

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you something, I`m going to go wider on this
one. This scientific denial, you know, one of the reasons why many of the
religious have succeed is because they reconcile their religious belief
with understanding science. They don`t fight science.

What you`re getting today from the right wingers is science itself is
wrong. Evolution. Thinking about evolution, high school biology, you
can`t believe that. So, why are they getting so wide in their denials of
life? What are they going so far?

CORN: I think because it`s inconvenient. I also think --

MATTHEWS: Evolution is inconvenient to think about?

CORN: To their religion. I also think global warming thing is
inconvenient. I also think it`s reaction. I think it`s reaction to Barack
Obama and the Democrats. They`ve made it a cultural issue. It`s like
liberal Northeastern elites believe in climate change and they`re using
that to put their values on you. And so, they`re trying to make this is
populist issue.

Those scientists, those policy people in Washington, those academics -
-

MATTHEWS: It is planet of the apes.

CORN: And that`s exactly how it is.

MATTHEWS: We should be proud of our science. And we should be proud
of the fact that this country wins all the Nobel Prizes for science.

CORN: Not all, but we win a lot.

MATTHEWS: I`m an American. We win a lot of them. Don`t come up
against us when it comes to thinking. Everybody in the world wants our
applied science.

Anyway, thank you, Navin Nayak. Good luck. I can say that, good
luck. Keep an eye on these people.

NAYAK: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, David Corn, thank you as always.

CORN: Sure thing.

MATTHEWS: Republicans continue to pile on Michele Bachmann for her
outrageous charge about American Muslims, except some the crazier people
out there who are defending her. Wait until you catch the list of people
who are defending her attacks on Hillary Clinton`s top aide. Anyway, I
think it may have jumped the shark here.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re still months away from the 2012 election but a new
PPP poll gives us a look at which candidate voters in Iowa like in the 2016
caucuses. And the runaway winner on the Democratic side -- no surprise to
anybody watching this show -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. With 60 percent, she
topped Vice President Joe Biden by a three to one margin. Andrew Cuomo and
Elizabeth Warren trail far behind.

On the Republican side, it`s a tight contest between Rick Santorum and
Mike Huckabee -- they`re going further right. The last two winners of the
Iowa caucuses would be Chris Christie and Rand Paul next. What a party.

We`ll be right back. Look at that list.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Michele Bachmann`s a fool. And
the fact that, you know, she`s on the intelligence committee, you know,
it`s mind boggling. But Newt Gingrich should actually know better, but he
actually has a sense of history of the country. You know, what he`s doing
here, it`s just despicable. Shame on him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Add Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, you heard him there, to the
list of people denouncing Michele Bachmann for her assertion recently that
Islamic militant moles might have infiltrated the State Department. By the
way, he also took down Gingrich for defending Bachmann too.

This week, "New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni blasted Bachmann,
not just for her latest stunt, this time going after Islamic Americans but
for the whole of her wacky portfolio paranoia. It was headlined "The
Divine Miss M." Loaded with sarcasm.

Thank you, Frank Bruni.

Your column today was unusually focused on your characterization. Not
a lot of reporting in it, but a very strong characterization of this person
in our political lives. Who is she, Michele Bachmann, politically in 2012?

FRANK BRUNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES: In 2012, who is she? I mean, she
represents the far right of the Republican Party as best I can tell. I
mean, what interested me in what I wanted to write about is she styles
herself as a deeply religious person. And when we describe her positions
and try to explain them, we often do in terms of her religiousness.

And what I find offensive and troubling about that is I don`t know a
lot of religions or a lot of religious people who would support the way she
acts when she issues this smear against a woman -- a government servant
who`s done nothing to deserve it. When she caused the scare she did during
the presidential campaign about the HPV vaccine.

I don`t understand how these are the actions of a person who`s being
moral and compassionate and enlightened in any way.

MATTHEWS: Well, it must be a different religious view than you`ve got
or I have. Anyway, they`re circling the wagons for Michele Bachmann, even
as you speak. Earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich defended
Bachmann. Now add, former U.N. ambassador for George Bush, John Bolton.

Here he is on neocon Frank Gaffney`s radio show. Imagine that show
with these two guys on it. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOSH BOLTON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: What I think these members of
Congress have done is simply raised the question to a variety of inspectors
general in key agencies. Are your departments following their own security
clearance guidelines? What is wrong with raising the question? Why is
even asking whether we`re living up to our standards a legitimate area of
congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I`m just
mystified by it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know what? I`m not going to call them dumb and dumber
because these are not stupid people.

But let me ask you this, Frank, what he`s doing there is not asking
for information. He`s asking to investigate a person, to target a person
because of her Islamic background. And to say basically we have a
presumption here she may well be an agent of the Islamic Brotherhood.
That`s a hell of a charge to make at somebody who sits in the plane who
works hand to glove with Hillary Clinton, one of the shrewdest political
people around, and to make the absurd assumption that Hillary is being
manipulated.

You can`t manipulate Hillary Clinton.

BRUNI: This wasn`t just -- I mean, I heard what you just said. This
isn`t a general question raised about security clearances and whether
they`re done rigorously enough.

I reread the letter a moment ago. It goes on and on about the
nefariousness of Muslim Brotherhood. It mentions Huma Abedin by name and
the fact that she`s got relatives that according to Michele Bachmann have
associations with the Muslim -- I mean, it`s a very dark letter that goes
beyond just raising security concerns. It raises serious questions and
paints an aide of Hillary Clinton`s as if she`s a plant of a foreign
whatever.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, all my relatives are Republicans, I think.
At least most of them. They haven`t had much influence on me. Would you
think, Frank?

This idea she might have a distant relative somewhere that may have
been involved in a political movement. In this country --

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: I`m glad you said that, Chris. We all have a lot of nutty
relatives with nutty beliefs. And we`re all people of our own intelligence
that come to our own conclusions. I don`t think any one of us would want
to be judged.

We also don`t know the full truth about this family. This letter was
filled with a lot of accusations that didn`t have any substantiation I
could see.

MATTHEWS: And Frank Gaffney is not someone you want to go to get the
objective truth. He`s one of the far out people in the neocon movement. I
don`t know what motivates these people.

Thank you. Your comment had a lot of power and a lot of heart to it
today. I think you have a lot of heart, Frank Bruni. And I really thought
it was very effective what you had to say today. Thanks for coming on
HARDBALL.

BRUNI: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with Christian Bale`s show of
grace. And that`s a great word for it in the wake of a terrible tragedy.
Here he is at the hospital bed out there in Aurora, Colorado.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. For every tragedy,
someone or a lot of people, do something, sometimes out of nowhere, that
simply lifts your heart. Say what you will, I am so impressed at Christian
Bale, the star of the Batman movie visited Aurora, Colorado, the other day,
to spend a good deal of time with the victims.

He didn`t come in with an entourage, or with the flux fussing about
him. He arrived with his wife, showing that he cared for the feelings and
hurt of Aurora. Not only them, but the people of the country honestly
without a thought to politics have opened their hearts to the terrible
event and the pain that lasts.

Here`s his words, he said, "Words cannot express the horror I feel. I
cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and
their loved ones." That`s the word he put out after hearing about the
horror last week. "But my heart goes out to them."

But then he did the thing that always matters most for a wedding, a
funeral, a Christening, he showed up. As another movie figure once said,
that separates the people who care from those who have other priorities.
He showed up.

It may not be all that logical to an alien, for example, from another
planet, but the importance of a movie star coming through at a time at
this, we on this earth know the difference and the importance of such an
event is the home run hitter who shows up at the hospital for the young
fan, is the friend who shows up for your mom`s funeral.

The movie "The Dark Knight Rises` will always be associated with the
horror that it`s showing in Aurora, Colorado. We will also remember that
the lead player in the movie showed up to show his real feelings with the
victims of what happened in the dark of night. But also to show in the
bright of light of day the regard he, a professional, pays to the people
who go to the theater to see him.

There are words to describe such gestures. My favorite one here is
grace.

Christian Bale in Aurora, Colorado, after a horror to which he was
associated but bears no blame whatsoever, showed us what grace looks like.

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

"THE ED SHOW" with Ed Schultz starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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