updated 10/1/2012 11:04:40 AM ET 2012-10-01T15:04:40

HARDBALL
September 28, 2012

Guests: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Jeffrey Toobin, Sam Stein, Lizz Winstead, Joel Stein

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Romney versus Ryan, the divorce.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with Mr. Romney`s divorce. Why did he pick Paul Ryan
for his running mate? Certainly not for better or worse. Mitt spends his
days and nights acting as if he`s out there all alone, that he never hooked
up with Ryan in the first place.

I get it. Romney doesn`t want to get dragged down by his political
mate`s push for getting rid of Medicare. He acts like Ryan`s got no hold
on him, but it`s not the way it works. Romney`s slowly gotten the word
that the voter out there thought the two had things worked out, that Romney
and Ryan were in this thing together.

Well, they`re not. Romney`s dying. He can`t stand being tied to Ryan
and all that budget-cutting baggage of his. For his part, Ryan is feeling
the taint of having a running mate who`s unwilling to stand with him,
unwilling to be his kind of politician, a conviction politician.

So trouble in paradise. Mitt`s dying to be single again. So`s Ryan.
We all know that politics makes strange bedfellows, but the word`s out this
pair, Romney and Ryan, are sleeping in separate rooms.

I`m joined by MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman and Joy-Ann Reid,
managing editor of TheGrio.com. First more new polling data that shows
Mitt Romney trailing. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new Fox News poll, President Obama leads Romney by 5
points among likely voters nationwide, 48 to 43 percent. Catch that, the
Fox poll. Highly significant there.

Let`s go right now to Howard on this question. It looks to me like
this divorce papers are pretty much out there right now. All that you hear
now is Romney doesn`t really want to be stuck in that little basement where
they cut Medicare.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Mitt Romney was on the campaign trail today saying, I have a little
secret, I`m going to win Pennsylvania. OK.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

FINEMAN: OK, he`s not going to win Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS: It`s the oldest state in the union.

FINEMAN: Yes. He`s not going to win Pennsylvania with Paul Ryan`s
profile on Medicare or budget cutting or anything else. So if Mitt
Romney`s serious about making a play in Pennsylvania, that just underscores
how inconvenient Paul Ryan has become.

Look, Mitt Romney did not pick Paul Ryan because of Paul Ryan`s
Medicare or budget programs. He picked Paul Ryan because of his
youthfulness, because of the cultural appeal, because of what Paul Ryan
himself calls the "deer hunter Catholic" that he is, OK?

That might sell in Pennsylvania, but the other stuff won`t. And if
we`re going to be cutting Medicare at some point, which I think most voters
understand, I think right now, looking at these alternatives, they would
rather have a Democrat they know, a Democrat, than a Republican from a
party that never supported the program to begin with.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Joy on that. Joy-Ann, you know, it seems to
me that people who -- once you get into your late 60s, early 70s, into your
80s, you have one primary care, and that`s what you`re always talking about
with your friends. How`s your health? How`s it going? Your social life,
in many ways, is going to see the doctor. You have to survive. You got to
see your kids. You want to see your grandkids as much as you can.

You don`t walk away from health (ph) and say, I`d like the cut of the
guy`s job, but I don`t like his health care program. It`s pretty hard to
separate.

JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, absolutely. And
you know, Chris, The most remarkable thing, when you go back and look at
these state-by-state swing state polls, in Florida or in Wisconsin or in
Ohio or in Iowa, the remarkable thing and the only thing that has changed
in terms of the demographics is that Barack Obama is now tied with Mitt
Romney or beating Mitt Romney among voters over 60. That`s the very group
that is the most skeptical of Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: Right.

REID: They`ve been the hardest group for him to win over, but he is
now winning them over. And there`s only one reason for that, it is
Medicare. And you know, as much as I totally understand what Howard
Fineman was saying, there was no other reason to pick Paul Ryan other than
his budget. Paul Ryan was not the governor of a state. He can`t deliver
his home state, from what we`re seeing in the polls.

MATTHEWS: We know that now, though.

REID: He was his ideology, right?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: You picked him because you wanted to tell the right that, We`re
going to take your ideology and we`re going to take it out to Main Street,
and then he didn`t want to do it. He`s trying to hide him.

MATTHEWS: Well, why did he decide -- let me -- now you got into a
little thought here about Howard`s thinking, my question to you, and it`s a
tough one, didn`t he know that if he bought Ryan, he was buying his deal,
he was buying his cuts in Medicare, his substitution plan for a voucher
system? Didn`t he know that? How could he not know that? He`s a deal
maker.

FINEMAN: Well, he immediately distanced himself. Mitt Romney
immediately distanced himself from the $700 billion in cuts...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... that the were part of Paul Ryan`s immediate plan. So
they knew right away they had a problem. I think they picked him because
he -- in spite of that. I think they picked him because he was young,
because he was forceful, because, yes, he was ideological, but typical Mitt
Romney, who for a business guy doesn`t always examine the details -- I
mean, I don`t think they thought through the implications.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: They were going for the sizzle of the conservative without
looking at the details.

MATTHEWS: OK, this is to me -- let me get into this for a minute
here. This is the Mitt Romney -- we all have problems in our thinking.
Nobody`s perfect, obviously. I think the problem with Mitt Romney is he
wants all the advantages of a conviction politician. He wants to be seen
as one. But he isn`t one.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: He`s a pragmatist. He`s -- let`s get a look. The starkest
bit of evidence that Paul Ryan`s position on Medicare is poisoning the
Republican ticket came a week ago, when Paul Ryan was booed at the AARP
convention when he called for the repeal of "Obama care." Let`s watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The first step to a
stronger Medicare is to repeal "Obama care" because it represents...

(BOOS)

RYAN: ... the worst of both worlds. I had a feeling there would be
mixed reaction, so let me get into it. It weakens Medicare for today`s
seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation.

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not too popular there. And now we`ve got the
polls that put concrete numbers behind those boos. A new poll by "The
Washington Post" and the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Medicare
trails only the economy as the top voting issue in the swing states of
Florida, Ohio and Virginia. And among voters who say Medicare is extremely
important to their vote, Obama swamps Romney by -- get this -- 13 points.

And when voters in those states were asked a similar question, whom
they trust to deal with the Medicare program, Obama again Trumps Romney in
all the polls. In Ohio, Obama leads Romney on Medicare by 19, in Florida
15, in Virginia 13. Other polls have shown President Obama`s advantage on
Medicare has grown significantly since Ryan joined the ticket.

So let`s go back to this again, trying to figure this out. He bought
into a guy who was known primarily for this voucher plan, getting rid of
Medicare as we know it. You basically go to a doctor and the bills are
paid by Medicare. You can`t beat a system like that, Joy-Ann, I don`t
think, on this planet earth...

REID: Yes, I...

MATTHEWS: ... than to have something paid for...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... when you go to do it. I mean, there`s nothing like it.

REID: And the idea...

MATTHEWS: And why would anybody want to change it?

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Nobody would want to change it.

REID: And you know, Chris, I think what`s worse than that is they
tried to be too cute, I think, with it because they said, Hey, we`re not
going to touch anybody over 55. Well, people over 55 understand that their
children are future seniors. They don`t want to get rid of the program,
period. It`s not that they`re going to be selfish and say, Well, as long
as you don`t touch my Medicare, go ahead, turn it into a voucher.

Seniors don`t like the idea of changing the program not just for
themselves but for their children and grandchildren.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: They want the program to stay as it is, as that poll shows.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re going to put you in a room with a lion, but
we`re going to keep him 15 feet away from you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re not going to let him get at you exactly.

FINEMAN: I agree with Joy-Ann on that. Absolutely. That whole,
Don`t worry everybody over 55...

MATTHEWS: Well, wouldn`t that send a message, We know this won`t sell
to you?

REID: Exactly.

FINEMAN: Yes. Yes, what it sends a message is that, We know this is
unpalatable, so we`re going to keep you away from it. And I agree, it was
-- it was -- it`s a line that`s been used before. It`s a line that`s been
drawn before. But it turns out not to work...

MATTHEWS: I want to get...

FINEMAN: It turns out not to work politically.

MATTHEWS: I want to get to something that really is wild. By the
way, here it is again. We`ll get to this first. In the very first
interview Romney and Ryan gave after Ryan joined the ticket, Bob Schieffer,
who`s very good at this, pointed out that Ryan`s budget plan, including his
plan to voucherize -- that`s a great word -- Medicare, could be trouble for
Romney. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": There`s no question your
campaign has been trying to make this election a referendum on Barack
Obama. Now some people are saying you are making it a referendum on Paul
Ryan`s budget plan.

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I have my
budget plan, as you know, that I have put out, and that`s the budget plan
that we`re going to run on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And again this Sunday, Romney had to distance himself from
Ryan`s positions and assert that he`s the man at the top of the ticket.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The president`s cutting $716 billion from current Medicare.
I disagree with that. I`d put those dollars back into Medicare.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Ryan has proposed something similar, almost precisely
the same number, $716.

ROMNEY: Yes, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget
deficit. I`m putting it back into Medicare. And I`m the guy running for
president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, what a miserable time he has. All he does is defend
himself against Paul Ryan`s budget, and he put the guy on the ticket!

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: Chris, I remember when this happened. When he put Ryan on
the ticket, a lot of Democrats said, OK, it`s over, we`ve got it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And I was skeptical about that when they said it. And I
think a lot of us who like to hear intellectual debates about policy said,
Great, bring it on.

MATTHEWS: Philosophy!

FINEMAN: Let`s have a big debate about the philosophy of government.
Well, down in Florida, they don`t care about the philosophy of
government...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: All politics is local.

FINEMAN: ... they want the program...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FINEMAN: ... they like the program, don`t mess with the program.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to something really big here, Joy, because I like
this guy so much. This is Jim Webb, who`s retiring as the senator from
Virginia. He`s a Democrat, but a different kind of Democrat.

Many people, including me, believe he`s eviscerated Romney with these
words he spoke. Remember what Romney was saying, there`s the takers and
the makers out there? Including among the takers, unfortunately for Mr.
Romney, are those people who served us in uniform, may have been
dismembered in some cases, have spent the rest of their lives dealing with
the injuries and wounds they suffered for the country. And they don`t
consider themselves takers exactly.

Let`s listen to Jim Webb defend them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: Governor Romney and I are right about
the same age, young guys.

(LAUGHTER)

WEBB: Like millions in our generation, we came to adulthood facing
the harsh realities of the Vietnam war. 2.7 million in our age group went
to Vietnam.

(APPLAUSE)

WEBB: Those young marines that I led so many years ago have grown
older now. They`ve lived lives of courage, both in combat and after their
return, where many of them were derided by their own peers for having
served. That was a long time ago. They are not bitter. They know what
they did.

But in receiving veterans` benefits, they are not takers! They are
givers in the ultimate sense of the word.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joy, the whole thing, people should look it up on YouTube.
It is the most powerful speech. I heard it today. It`s riveting.

REID: Absolutely, Chris. When I heard this last night, I thought to
myself, this is devastating for Mitt Romney. I mean, these two gentlemen
are of the same age. And I mean, you understand, Chris, that the most
seminal decision that had to be made by young men of the Vietnam era was
whether to answer that call or whether to try to find a way to get out of
the draft.

And for those who supported the war but still didn`t serve, that
reminder, I think, is devastating for Mitt Romney among veterans. And
look, he didn`t mention veterans nor did he mention our current fighting
men and women in Afghanistan in his acceptance speech in Tampa, which was a
huge error that is doubly and triply amplified by the words that Jim Webb
spoke. Devastating, I think, for Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: If I were the Democrats, I`d run Jim Webb every night from
now to election day.

FINEMAN: Well, the Democrats and the Barack Obama administration from
the beginning has been focusing on veterans. Michelle Obama`s focused on
veterans...

MATTHEWS: Sure. She`s always with the families. Yes.

FINEMAN: So this is a theme that runs through the administration.
It`s paying off now in many states, not just in the presidential race...

MATTHEWS: And then Romney did them the favor of not mentioning the
troops.

FINEMAN: The favor of not mentioning. In Senate races, it`s going to
be big all the way through. That`s going to be a constituency surprisingly
in favor of this president, which in the past has not been the case with
Democratic presidents or Democratic (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: This rings with that great movie by Oliver Stone, about
they cheer when you go off to battle, when you come back wounded, you`re
not really one of them anymore. It`s terrible.

FINEMAN: It`s been smart and humane of the Obamas to focus on it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman, a great conversation, Howard.
Thank you, Joy. Thank you very much for joining us.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Claire McCaskill versus Todd Akin. Two months
ago, Missouri was a good bet for Republicans. Then came Todd Akin and that
"legitimate rape" thing of his, and it became a good bet for Democrats.
Let`s see how it`s looking now. Claire McCaskill herself joins us next.

Also, with four judges now on the Supreme Court in their 70s, the next
president could dramatically shift of the balance of the court to the right
or to the left. Who do you want picking two or three new judges on the
Supreme Court?

And celebrities weigh in on the 2012 race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about my Social Security card? I`ve been
using it for 70 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No photo, no voto. I`m on to your shenanigans,
Murray Gershans (ph), if that is your real name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She is something! That`s Sarah Silverman. Anyway, how
Hollywood hopes to reignite the spirit of 2008 for President Obama, the
next big schlep. (SIC)

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with my predictions on next week`s
first presidential debate. It`s coming up next Wednesday.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Bill Clinton`s headed out, back on the campaign trail
for President Obama. The Big Dog will be in New Hampshire on Wednesday,
the same day Obama and Mitt Romney will meet in Denver for their first
presidential debate.

In 1992, Clinton, of course, became the first Democrat to carry New
Hampshire since Lyndon Johnson did it back in `64. And since then, the
Granite State has voted for a Republican president only once, when George
W. Bush won it in 2000.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. After initially urging him to
drop out, more and more Republicans are now endorsing Todd Akin out in
Missouri in that Senate race against Claire McCaskill. Today, former
senator Kit Bond gave his endorsement, but only weeks ago, Bond and other
top Republicans urged him to get out of the race, saying these comments by
Akin were disqualifying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R-MO), SENATE CANDIDATE: It seems to me, first of
all, from what I understand from doctors, that`s really rare. If it`s a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing
down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That sounds like a crackpot there. Anyway, after the
deadline for Akin to drop out passed this week, Republicans seem to have
dropped their denunciations of Akin, and now groups that vowed never to
give him another penny are hinting they might reverse course.

On Wednesday, the National Republican Senate Committee put out a
statement saying, quote, "As with every Republican Senate candidate, we
hope Todd Akin wins in November, and we will continue to monitor this race
closely in the days ahead."

Well, that "legitimate rape" comment is far from an anomaly for Akin.
He has a long history of making outrageous statements, some of which
Senator McCaskill highlights this, in her latest TV ad. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the mainstream priorities that matter to
Missouri, how does Akin measure up? See for yourself. When asked about a
plan that ends traditional Medicare, forcing seniors to pay an extra $6,000
per year...

AKIN: So this is a good idea. I voted for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The minimum wage? Akin wants to abolish it.

AKIN: I don`t think the government should be setting the prices or
wages on different things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making college affordable -- Akin compared the
federal student loans program to stage three cancer.

AKIN: America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of
socialism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator McCaskill joins us now. Senator, I`ve followed
politics I guess my whole life, and these kinds of crackpots used to be the
people that ran every four or six years and were regularly defeated in
primaries. They were sort of the sideshow in politics.

How did this guy win a nomination in a significant state like Missouri
to run for the United States Senate, this guy, Todd Akin, with his views?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: It was a three-way primary. And
the far right, very evangelical, religious base of the Republican Party,
the Mike Huckabee-Rick Santorum wing of the Republican Party, coalesced
behind Todd Akin in the primary. And in a three-way primary, that was
enough.

MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this week -- Akin is back in shape here, I
guess, in terms of the establishment. He had this to say about your
debating style. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: The first two minutes, it was like somebody let a wildcat
loose! And so we went at it for about an hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he said he was surprised about how you attacked from
every different direction -- you know, as if it was a debate or something.
And he said you weren`t very lady-like. Let`s check that thought from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: She was very aggressive in the debate, which was quite
different than the way she was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a
confidence and was very much more sort of lady-like in all (ph) in (ph) the
debate that we had Friday. She came out swinging, an I think that`s
because she was threatened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, Akin denied his use of the word ladylike was
sexist. He said it was the same thing as calling a man a gentleman --
quote -- "We have a couple words in the English language. One is a
gentleman and one is a lady. They`re pretty self-explanatory and I was
using them just as the English language uses those items or those terms."

What do you make of that? When you heard him say ladylike, did it
strike you as a bit yesterday and sexist in the old-time version where
women are treated as somehow frail and they should act like they`re frail
and fragile, and they shouldn`t really get rough and tough, even when it`s
a fight for the United States Senate? What did you think?

MCCASKILL: Well, you know, I was speechless.

I`m a former courtroom prosecutor, Chris. And I want to be strong and
informed. And I fight for Missouri`s middle-class families. And Todd Akin
is very extreme. And I don`t think he was prepared for me confronting him
with things like him being one of the handful of people to vote against the
child nutrition program and voting against a sex offender registry and
voting against a Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I mean, this is somebody who does make Michele Bachmann look like a
hippy. He is that far on the fridge.

MATTHEWS: That`s pretty far.

MCCASKILL: And pointing those things out, I`m not sure that he was
prepared for that, but I was polite and calm.

And I think that saying I was unladylike is a code word for that, you
know, women shouldn`t be strong and that we should be more deferential, and
I think that`s probably what he was getting at.

MATTHEWS: Well, you ought to be strong.

You`re the only thing between him and this crackpot getting into the
United States Senate. I wish you would get a little tougher.

Look at the things he stands for. He wants to basically get rid of
Medicare. He`s bought into that. He`s very proud of that vote. And then
he wants to abolish the minimum wage. There`s a lot of people out there
who got by -- got their first job with a minimum wage and needed it to get
protection.

He wants to get rid of student loans. I had student loans all through
college. I had an assistance in college and grad school. And I got a
fellowship I was offered in grad school. A lot of us couldn`t go to
quality schools if we didn`t have that kind of help.

What is he talking about saying we got to get rid of student loans and
calling it stage three cancer? Well, it wasn`t that for me. What`s he
talking about?

MCCASKILL: Well, that`s just it. It`s not what he has said that`s
the problem. It`s what he believes that is the problem.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MCCASKILL: I don`t think government is the answer, but, Chris,
government is not the enemy.

And even further yesterday, this was an amazing piece of tape that we
will be happy to share with you for a later date. He actually said that he
was against the equal pay act because he thought employers should have the
freedom...

MATTHEWS: Well, we got it. Senator, we have it.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCASKILL: ... freedom to discriminate.

MATTHEWS: We`re pretty good here. We got ahold of that.

He here was yesterday. He was asked why he voted against the Lilly
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and why he thought it was OK for a woman to be paid
less for the same work as a man. And here is his answer. You can respond.
Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is, is that
I`m making that particular distinction.

I believe in free enterprise. I don`t think the government should be
telling people what you pay and what you don`t pay. I think it`s about
freedom. If somebody wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary,
that`s fine, however it wants to work. And so the government sticking its
nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he doesn`t believe in the government requiring
fairness in the workplace.

What does he -- does he believe in child labor laws? Is he against
them too? Is he against the civil rights bill for public accommodations
where you can`t close your bathrooms to black people? What kind of laws is
this guy for? Apparently, nothing.

MCCASKILL: Well, I think that you`re probably onto something there,
but the notion the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like his principle is don`t mess with
business on anything.

MCCASKILL: I think that the notion that it would be OK, that it is
interfering with someone`s freedom to say to them you can`t discriminate
against someone that is doing the same work just because they`re a woman,
you know, I`m -- I -- we have had an outpouring of support in the last 48
hours.

ClaireMcCaskill.com, people are coming there and they`re really jazzed
up about this notion that I was -- that I`m not ladylike. I am a fighter,
Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MCCASKILL: I`m proud to be a fighter for Missouri families and
there`s a lot at stake in this election, and, believe me, it`s not over.
Missouri will be tough. This will be close.

MATTHEWS: Did you ever have a defense attorney say to you when you`re
putting a bad guy in prison, you`re not being ladylike there? You just did
your job.

MCCASKILL: Yes. When I was...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, good luck in this race.

MCCASKILL: Thank you very much, Chris.

MATTHEWS: This is not a hard one to decide on. You`re qualified to
be a senator and proved that this guy is not qualified for any position.

Anyway, thank you, Claire McCaskill, for joining us.

MCCASKILL: Thank you. Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: It`s an honor to have you on, as always.

Up next: Stephen Colbert tackles the latest desperate cry from the
right that the polls showing President Obama leading and Mitt Romney behind
are unfair. Well, we just had the FOX poll that says Obama is ahead by
five.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

I told you yesterday about the anger coming from some on the right
over recent polls on the presidential race. Not everyone is willing to
admit President Obama is actually leading Mitt Romney right now, despite
what the polling data shows.

Well, Stephen Colbert weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": You can`t trust polls,
right, FOX News?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest FOX News polls give President Obama an
edge in three key swing states. Once you isolate voters who are extremely
interested in the election, the race is much closer.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Romney`s tied when you focus on the inexpressibly intrigued.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And he`s up -- he`s up by two points when you count only
voters who are psychotically engaged.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Folks, I have got my own source of polls, conservative
blogger Dean Chambers, who analyzed these polls favoring Obama and then
reached the scientific conclusion that they just didn`t look right.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Chambers` work throws all polls into doubt now, even the
internal ones I have taken of myself.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I mean, the results say I`m not that excited about Mitt
Romney, but as a conservative, I feel like I should love him.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Maybe the sample size is too small, or maybe I checked the
wrong box and I`m actually Latino, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It`s not a good sign if the strategy not just six weeks
from Election Day is to bash the polls.

And the first presidential debate of the general election is next
week, next Wednesday. But looking back to the GOP primary debates for a
moment, there were probably times when you heard a candidate`s response and
thought, could that really be true? Example:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: This is one thing we know about
Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of
terrorists to the ACLU. He`s outsourced it to them.

Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for
terrorists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: People were dumbfounded watching that.

Anyway, well, the National Press Club caught up with a team of fact-
checkers Wednesday and the name Bachmann came up. Jim Drinkard, who
represents the Associated Press at the event, said -- quote -- "We had to
have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates.
Often, she was just more prone to statements that just didn`t add up."

Well, the Bachmann quota, how is that? Well, Drinkard said later that
the quota didn`t have an actual numeric value, but that focusing on all of
Bachmann`s murky statements would overload the debate story.

Well, next, take a look at this headline from the Iranian news
organization Fars, F-A-R-S. "Gallup poll: Rural whites prefer Ahmadinejad
to Obama."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And a quote in the piece from a West Virginia resident: "I
like him better."

Curious how you missed that poll, the one poll out recently that
Republicans might actually accept as legitimate. Well, anyway, guess where
the headline originated? The Onion, America`s favorite source for fake
news. Another Onion news item today, "Florida to experiment with new 600-
lever voting machine."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Six hundred-lever.

Finally, the latest music and dance tribute to President Obama. This
one is all over the place literally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m Barack Obama. And
I party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that guy behind the mask is one hell of a dancer.
Anyway, that performance is suitably titled, by the way, "Obama Works It."

Up next, what`s the biggest thing at stake in this election? It just
might be the Supreme Court when you think about it. Four justices now are
in their 70s, and the next president of the United States could reshape the
balance of the court for decades to come, maybe 40 or 50 years. And that`s
ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
Wrap."

The month and quarter ends with gains, but for the day the Dow is off
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Facebook bucked the losing trend, gaining more than 6 percent to close
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months, mostly due however to higher gas prices.

And that`s it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide -- and
now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and to a very big story.

This November, there`s more at stake than who will occupy the White
House. The president in office during the next four years is not the only
issue. But for the next four or eight years, it will be very likely that
the next president will be appointing the Supreme Court justices who will
be shaping the country`s future for years and years ahead.

And on that court, it usually falls 5-4, so it`s a big deal who gets
picked next. There are four Supreme Court justices right now currently
over the age of 70, meaning at some point in the near future, the
composition of the court could change dramatically.

To the left, certainly, look over there, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 79 and
has undergone treatment for pancreatic cancer. And Justice Stephen Breyer
is 74. The oldest conservative justice is Antonin Scalia at 76. And a
swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, is 76. I couldn`t believe that.

And with me now is Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Oath," and
Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein.

Jeff, thank you so much for joining us.

I can only assume that this is one of the best-written books of its
kind, because you are one great writer. I read "The Nine." I don`t know
how you escaped law school and managed to become such a beautiful, almost
fiction-like writer. You know how to put sentences together and you also
make it fun and easy and enjoyable to read without getting into jargon.
So, congratulations again, for doing it.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR, "THE OATH": Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I want you to be a tutor right now to the voter out there,
not just women, not just gays, not just minorities, but everybody who cares
about civil rights, cares about the kind of country we live in.

What`s at stake? Say Romney wins for two four-year terms, gets eight
years a shot at picking justices, or President Obama gets four more years.
What`s at stake in those periods of time for the future of the country?

TOOBIN: Does the Constitution still protect a woman`s right to choose
abortion? May a university use race in admissions? May Congress regulate
campaign spending at all, or are we going to continue to deregulate
campaigns like Citizens United?

Will there still be a barrier between church and state? Those are
just a handful of the issues. And the thing about the Supreme Court is,
you never know exactly what they`re going to deal with, because who among
us predicted that they would decide the 2000 election? They have the last
word. That`s what matters so much about the Supreme Court. They have the
last word on every important issue in the country.

MATTHEWS: Well, that brings me to -- I mean, self-indicting myself
here, too, Sam, but how come none of us in general assignment reporting on
politics has really engaged on the stakes of the court appointments?

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: It`s a great question, because, when
you follow these campaigns -- and I have been following them for almost a
year now -- the topic rarely comes up.

And I think you make a valid point that when you -- whoever the
president is next, the likelihood is that they won`t have a complying
Congress, at least if you consider the filibuster. They won`t be able to
do much legislative activity, perhaps immigration reform being the
exception.

The main stakes center around who do they nominate if there is a
vacancy on the court. And those are the most consequential decisions that
a president, the next president will make. But we never talk about it. We
don`t talk about it for a variety of reasons, but it`s a peculiar absence
from this campaign dialogue.

MATTHEWS: Let`s imagine that a wonderful person, Ginsburg, leaves the
court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg decides to leave it. She`s very much beloved in
that court, even by fellows -- as you know -- I have learned it from your
books how much they get along, she and Scalia, for example. Maybe he
leaves.

TOOBIN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Can a president of the center-left, like Obama, or a
president who seems to be on the right, right now, like Romney, can they
make a 180 degree switcheroo? Could they go in and take a Ginsburg seat
and give it to somebody on the hard right and not need 60 votes to do it?
Would that ever get past a simple majority?

TOOBIN: Well, the fact is, most Supreme Court nominations get
through.

Robert Bork didn`t get through in 1987. Harriet Miers withdrew at the
end of the President Bush`s term.

But, by and large, Supreme Court appointments get through. But we
have not seen a liberal replace a conservative in a very long time, maybe
1993 when Byron White was replaced by Ruth Ginsburg.

But if, for example, the conservative -- one of the conservative
justices leaves in a second Obama term, that will be the World War 3 of all
time because the conservative movement in this country has embraced their
version of the Constitution as a fundamental aspect of what they believe
in. More than the Democrats have, frankly. Republicans talk about the
Constitution more than the Democrats do these days, and if the balance
could go from five to four Republican to five to four Democrat, the
implications would be earth-shaking.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You know, Sam, I think a lot of people have
gotten, especially young people, have gotten comfortable with Roe v. Wade.
They think that`s the normal way things are. They don`t know what it was
like in their mother`s age, their father`s age. And a lot of people that I
the landmark decisions like Brown or Roe v. Wade or the public school
prayer decision or certainly they read positive review of the Civil Rights
Act in `64 had to happen.

I can imagine even under this court today, the court we have right
now, saying no to the civil rights bill. It doesn`t work there for
interstate commerce. I don`t know which way Roberts would go on a similar
question. Those issues are close right now.

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: It`s complicated. One of the cases that
could be considered is the Voting Rights Act. That could be overturned.
Obviously, affirmative action is going to be on the docket. That`s a very
complicated issue but it works both ways.

There`s a high chance, that this court will hear an appeal to DOMA.
It could be the first court that establishes some progressivity with
respect to gay rights. And that could make a historic court even though
the politics would suggest otherwise.

So, you know, it works both ways and it`s going to be curious to see
not only which cases they pick up in what manner and how the arguments play
out because, again, DOMA could come up and so could Prop 8, which is a
different section of the gay rights debate.

So, I`m curious to see how it plays out. I`m assuming Jeff will be
on top of it, too.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeff is on top of it right now.

Jeff, how would Roe v. Wade -- a lot of people who watch this show
are pro-choice, some not, but many are. How would Roe v. Wade be taken
down? What would be the incremental step that would weaken it, the right
of a woman to choose an abortion during at least the first two trimesters?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, we may see that sooner rather than later
because a lot of states, a lot of the red states have imposed more and more
restrictions on the right to abortion. You know, whether it`s longer
waiting periods or establishing very onerous rules for what facilities can
do an abortion.

So you allow more and more -- the Supreme Court in 2006 upheld the
so-called partial birth abortion law which restricted a certain kind of
abortion.

MATTHEWS: I understand.

TOOBIN: That is -- I mean, that`s how it works. Ultimately, Justice
Kennedy`s opinion in that partial birth abortion case really opened the
door to even more restrictions --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I like undue burden. I hope undue burden survives.

Anyway, thank you. Jeff Toobin, your book`s name is "The Oath."

TOOBIN: "The Oath."

MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you one thing I can predict right now, it`s
beautifully written and you will learn so much without even knowing it was
an effort. That`s the great thing about this writer. You learn so much
and it didn`t seem like school.

Anyway, thank you. You, too, Sam Stein.

Up next, how Hollywood is looking to put President Obama over the
top. No surprise there. Coming up, the fun of the celebrity world coming
to get out the vote, get the people to vote at least.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll
shows President Obama with a two-point lead in North Carolina. The race is
tight there, obviously.

But consider this: since April of 2011 the Obama campaign has
registered 250,000 new voters in North Carolina. That`s more new voters
than the campaign has registered anywhere else in the country. And back in
2008, Obama carried that state of North Carolina, the Tar Heel State, by
14,000 votes. It looks like he`s counting on the ground game to win it for
him again.

Go Carolina.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGI NVIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN: You know, a lot of these laws require you to have a
state-issued picture ID like a driver`s license. But more than 21 million
Americans don`t have driver`s licenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about my Social Security card? I`ve been
using it for 70 years.

SILVERMAN: No photo, in voto. I`m onto your shenanigans, Murray
Gershans (ph), if that`s your real name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She`s so funny.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s comedian Sarah Silverman`s viral video on the way voter ID
laws disenfranchise voters. She and other celebrities like Samuel L.
Jackson and Steve Carell have been putting out videos to encourage people
not to be deterred, and get out and vote.

Today, a new video by Samuel L. Jackson hit the Internet. It`s a
takeoff of his blockbuster reading of a children`s book. "Go the F to
Sleep."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Mom, dad, the election is coming up soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re tired right now, hon. Go back to your
room.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I`m sorry, my friend, but there`s no time
to snore. An out of touch millionaire has just declared war on schools,
the environment, and unions, fair pay. We`re all on our own if Romney has
his way. And he`s against safety nets. If you fall, tough luck.

So I strongly suggest that you wake the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is "Daily Show" creator Lizz
Winsted. There`s something the way these guys can do it and we can never
do it, the sort of anti-hero types like Sarah and Samuel L. Jackson.

How do they connect with younger voters, who might be a little busy
on Election Day?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, "DAILY SHOW" CO-CREATOR: You know, I`m not sure it`s
even just younger voters, Chris. I think sometimes, and when I look at my
audiences when I do standup and I`m talking about these issues, I`m
surprised I don`t see a roomful of people that just have purple surprised I
don`t see people with purple foreheads smacking their heads going, "I can`t
believe this is happening."

And I think when you add really raw language, of a place where people
feel really frustrated, it really hits where it lives. And you add comedy
it and it`s a home run and people sit up and take notice.

MATTHEWS: I agree. Well, also joining us right now is "Time"
magazine`s humor columnist, Joel Stein.

Joel, your thoughts about why this kind of stronger language perhaps,
like in Samuel L. Jackson might motivate young voters?

JOEL STEIN, TIME: Well, it`s just fun. I mean, I think if you`re
not for Obama, it`s not going to convince you. But if you`re already there
and you need to be fired to get to the polls or you feel like, oh, I`m a
Sam Jackson fan, this is my demo. I should be part of this.

It`s like any branding, you feel like, oh, yes, that reminds you of
who you are and you should get to the polls and you should still vote for
Obama, even if you`re not as excited as you were four years ago.

MATTHEWS: That`s why Steve Carell is doing this. He also has new
video out. It attempts to shame people into voting. Let`s watch Steve
Carell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: You vote because you care. And people should
care.

You should care. What`s wrong with you? Don`t just watch the video.
Come on. What`s wrong with you?

Go to ourtime.org to register to vote right now.

If you didn`t vote, I will probably show up at your house and give
you a smack -- a smack right across the ear. I`d box your ear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I have two concerns about people not voting. One is that
people who are intimidated by these terrible voter photo ID laws and they
think they are tougher than they are, either get their act together or
they`re intimidated into trying. I don`t say no to yourself, make them say
no at the voting booth, don`t say no to yourself.

And the other people I worry about are people who are lackadaisical -
- I think that`s how you pronounce it -- who think Obama has got it made or
the other guy has got made, figure they don`t have to vote. Lizz?

WINSTEAD: Yes. I mean --

MATTHEWS: Do these things get to vote those people?

WINSTEAD: I think that that`s right. And I think that, you know,
they all use their personalities really well in these ads and I think they
also -- they are really effective at saying -- you know, people talk about
this issue and say, they are trying to find a solution where a problem
doesn`t exist. And I think when you hammer that home, people take notice.
I mean, you and I have more love children together than there has been
voter fraud.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WINSTEAD: I mean, that`s how bad it is.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s my favorite. Sarah Silverman using humor to
point out the common denominator, all the voters will be disenfranchised by
voter photo ID laws have. They are Obama supporters. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SILVERMAN: There are these brand-new super (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up
laws which are presented as a way to prevent voter fraud but are in fact
designed to make it harder for specific people to vote -- black people,
elderly people, poor people, and students. Hmm, I wonder what those
demographics have in common? Oh, yes, they are probably going to vote for
this guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, sometimes I think she is so great, Joel and Lizz
that I think, I always wonder, is that really the person she was born or
did she develop that wonderful personality of hers -- that ironic,
whimsical personality? She makes the point, though, it is partisan.

WINSTEAD: Well, I tell you, that is who she is and she and I are
actually doing a video together that we`re taping next week, so you can
look for that, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I`ll watch it intently.

WINSTEAD: Because we`re as thick as thieves.

MATTHEWS: OK, good connection.

Joel, your thought about this. Is it all one way? First of all, I
think the voter photo thing and all that stuff is voter suppression, mainly
minorities. That`s what I`ve said a million times. So, I keep saying it.

But is it all true that you`ve got to get -- are the Republicans
doing anything like this to get their team out, the Romney people out?

STEIN: You haven`t seen the Clint Eastwood video? It`s amazing.

(LAUGHTER)

STEIN: That will drive out the vote, for sure.

MATTHEWS: You knock my hero. He`s still my hero. Bad nights -- we
all have bad nights.

STEIN: Oh my God!

MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s another Samuel L. Jackson as he tries to
motivate young voters with his intimidating style, the people who supported
Obama last time and the ones I`m talking about. He wants them reengage
this time. Let`s watch Samuel L. Jackson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to break it to you, sis, but all
politician are the same.

JACKSON: They are all the same? Big brother, please. Obama sent
SEALs to bin Laden`s place. Romney sent jobs overseas.

How about that student overhaul? It`s going to save you thousand of
bucks. Mitt will cut that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in a second.

Hey, dude, wake the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ha!

How did they come up with that idea? How did they know that he would
be perfect, Joel?

STEIN: Well, my friend Adam Mansbach wrote this book called "Go the
F to Sleep." It was a kids` book trying to -- you know?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEIN: And then Samuel L. Jackson did the audio book. They both
just redid it except for Obama. Hearing Samuel L. Jackson curse, it
carried the whole movie about snakes --

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s also, in his case, he`s intimidated. He
doesn`t have to do it.

Anyway, thank you, Joel Stein. Thank you, Lizz Winstead, with her
famous friends.

When we return, let me finish with some predictions about the debates
which start next week.

We`re watching -- actually, you`re watching, I`m on it -- HARDBALL,
the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with next week`s first debate in
Denver. I`ll be there to watch them go at it. I have no real idea what to
expect.

I think Romney will take some hard shots. He may spend the whole 90
minutes blasting away at the president, serving him with indictment after
another, hoping that something will stick.

I think Obama will play with him, parry the assault, block the blows,
trying to keep his head clear so he could avoid getting hurt. I think it
will start with both men trying to be cautious, neither able to land the
punch, not hard enough to register with the tens of millions watching.

Then it will happen, Romney will deliver what is clearly a pre-
rehearsed moment, a sound bite. It will be something about Obama not
delivering on a promise, something about the economy he said he`s do but
hasn`t. He will expect the president to defend himself and when he does,
pointing to what inherited from Bush, Romney will pounce. He`ll say that
Obama`s not running against Bush, and this I believe the Romney strategy --
get Obama to pass the buck on the tough economic recovery and then land his
Sunday punch.

I suppose President Obama knows this is all coming and is preparing
to deal with it. The good news is this: a month ago, all his rival had to
say was that Obama`s done his best. He got his stimulus, got his health
care program and here we are.

I think that might have nailed him a month ago but something`s
changed. It could have been something as definite as Bill Clinton`s speech
but people don`t feel stuck like they did. They don`t think all we need is
some other president. That`s Romney`s problem and it`s a big one.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton 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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