October 9, 2012
Guests: Bob Shrum, Michelle Goldberg, Richard Carmona, Michael Kirk
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Time to attack.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, everyone. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Attack. A month now stands between
here and election, four weeks to sell the country on the difference between
Obama and Romney on the big issues of our times. Time to attack. Time to
remind voters who rode to the rescue -- who did ride to the rescue of the
American auto industry and who stood out there telling it to go bankrupt.
Time to attack. Which candidate fought to get equal pay for equal
work for women so that no girl in America will ever grow up thinking her
time, her sweat is worth less than a boy`s?
Time to attack. Which candidate saw 40 million people uninsured
Americans dragging themselves to sit for hours in emergency rooms across
the country? He saw it, Obama did, and refused to let it stay that way
through yet another presidency. Mitt Romney saw the way things were and
said he wants to keep things that way. If you don`t have insurance, tough.
Go get a seat with the other victims and moochers.
Well, this is where Romney`s vulnerable, where Obama can come charging
from his ground of strength. Now`s the time Romney be taken to task for
his positions so far from the American mainstream.
I`m joined right now by Democrat strategist Bob Shrum and former chair
of the RNC Michael Steele. Gentlemen, as I said, it`s time for President
Obama to attack. And we hear it.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And we`re
MATTHEWS: That is a little bit too Jim Cramer for some of you,
perhaps, but it is, in fact, my feeling, Shrummy. There comes a time.
It`s called attack from a defensive position. The president`s been
attacked. I think it`s time to return the favor to Romney. Your thoughts
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It`s what he had to do in the
debate, didn`t do, and that`s what he has to do every day between now and
the next debate. He has to draw the contrast on Medicare and straighten
out this myth that the president cut $716 million from Medicare benefits.
He didn`t. They`re cut from Medicare providers, like insurance companies
that are overcharging.
He has to attack on the issue of taxes. There aren`t enough tax
loopholes or tax deductions to pay for Romney`s tax cut unless you cut into
home interest mortgage deductions, unless you get rid of state and local
taxes. That will hit the middle class hard.
SHRUM: Look, you got to be honest about this. The debate hurt Obama
and helped Romney. And Romney`s gotten a bump in the polls, although it
seems to be flattening out. You look at the new poll in Ohio, the
president`s at 51 percent, Romney`s at 47 percent.
I think the president -- the fundamental structure of the race hasn`t
been changed, but if he doesn`t go on the attack, if Biden doesn`t do a
good job against Ryan, and if the president doesn`t show up and isn`t
strong in the second debate, then you`re going to have a tossup race.
MATTHEWS: Well, I would disagree with your approach, first of all. I
don`t approach that way. That`s going back and relitigating all the old
My approach, Michael -- you probably don`t agree with it, but in
spirit -- what I would do -- unlike Shrummy, what I would do is take the
big issues that separate the candidates. Don`t get into the little trench
warfare about what`s your tax plan involve and where were you on Medicare
two weeks ago.
I would say, Where did you stand on saving the American auto industry?
You had one position, I had another position. Where are you on equal pay?
Republicans are against equal pay by law. These are big differences.
STEELE: Well, Chris...
MATTHEWS: I`d go to the big ones.
STEELE: I actually -- I would...
MATTHEWS: And don`t talk about Big Bird one more time.
STEELE: Please don`t talk about Big Bird.
MATTHEWS: Not one more time.
STEELE: Leave the bird alone. Look, the fact of the matter is...
SHRUM: Well, the bird`s already dead.
STEELE: Shrum. But I actually agree with you on this one, Chris. I
think, absolutely. I`ve been saying for a long, long time for the Romney
team to go big, to put the bigger argument in play here. And I think...
MATTHEWS: I thought he did that last week. It`s time for Obama to do
STEELE: That`s exactly what he did. And so now is the time for the
Obama team to come to the table. So show me how big your plan -- you want
to -- if you want to frame it the way you did, Chris...
MATTHEWS: I -- I -- I think there are big differences...
STEELE: There are huge differences.
MATTHEWS: I think there are big differences about women`s rights, big
difference about the role of government (INAUDIBLE) That`s my point, Bob.
Come back at me on this, if I`m wrong, because I don`t think arguing with
them over the Medicare do`s and don`ts and what`s in and what`s out and the
tax -- he`ll always win that! You know why? He`s willing to say anything,
Romney, anything in a debate!
MATTHEWS: And how do you beat a guy who`s willing to say anything,
who knows it only matters when the camera`s on? The minute the camera goes
off, he sends out Eric Fehrnstrom to actually correct the record. Nobody`s
watching. That`s what he likes.
SHRUM: Look, I don`t disagree with you about...
MATTHEWS: Discuss (ph).
SHRUM: I don`t disagree with you about the auto industry as an issue.
I don`t disagree with you about women`s rights as an issue, and equal pay.
But you can`t walk away from the Medicare issue and you can`t let Romney
say that he`s the guy who`s going to protect Medicare when he`s, in fact,
going to turn it into voucher care.
Senior citizens, especially in states like Florida, Pennsylvania --
you know this -- Ohio are going to be a big part of this electorate. They
want to understand what`s happening there. Because the president didn`t
respond on Medicare in the debate with any force...
MATTHEWS: I agree with that point.
SHRUM: ... his advantage...
MATTHEWS: But you can`t...
SHRUM: His advantage among seniors on the issue of Medicare has
shrunk. He`s got to get that back. He`s got argue the issues you`re
arguing. But it`s all got to be in a big context, which is who stands up
for the middle class, who fights for the middle class...
STEELE: I want a big debate, too. And I think on that point, Bob, it
has shrunk because seniors know -- and I think the campaign -- the Romney
campaign has been effective at clearly defining that it`s not them, that
he is talking about their grandchildren and...
MATTHEWS: No, no, people 55 and younger.
SHRUM: No, that`s incorrect.
STEELE: Well, look...
SHRUM: That`s where they have to fight back. That`s where they got
to fight back!
SHRUM: Every senior will pay $600 more a year for prescription drugs
under Romney`s plan.
STEELE: ... grandchildren out there...
MATTHEWS: That`s what you`re talking about. Let`s get this straight.
It`s not about their grandkids. The Romney plan is for people 55 and
under. It`s not about the 20-year-olds...
STEELE: And giving them the option for something...
STEELE: ... that that generation (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: OK, it`ll destroy Medicare. Anyway...
STEELE: No, it won`t.
MATTHEWS: ... let me show you where things stand right now, the
Gallup poll. This is fascinating stuff day to day now, the tracking poll
of the Gallup. They`ve been showing for months now evenly divided here
into two, the registered voters and the likely voters. Well, now they`re
Among registered voters right now, President Obama has a 3-point lead
over Mitt Romney, 49-46 among registered. But -- big "but" here -- among
likely voters, Romney is leading by 2 points, 49-47.
If you look at the HuffingtonPost pollster trend line of recent
polling, you can see that Obama in the blue line really picked up in
September following his convention. We all saw that happen. But he
dropped and Romney started gaining rapidly in the past several days
following the debate.
And as you just mentioned, Bob, from Ohio the president`s firewall, a
new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows Obama up by 4 now, 51-47, among likely
voters. That poll was taken after the debate -- actually, after the
debate. Before the debate, Obama had a much wider margin in earlier polls.
I should point out something I learned today, which I think you guys
probably already know. A likely voter, as opposed to a registered voter,
is a registered voter who when asked says -- From 1 to 10, are you likely
to vote, and they say either 9 or 10. Second question, Did you vote in
2010? Did you vote in 2008? If you say yes to any one of those three -- I
voted in 2008, 2010 -- two out of three -- two of those three -- you`re
considered a likely voter.
SHRUM: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: So if you just voted in `08 and `10, that`s good enough.
If, however, you voted in `08, but you say your chances are 9 out of 10 --
or 9 to 10 -- between 1 and 10, then you`re a likely voter. So it`s a
pretty mechanical thing.
Bob, what do you think of that? What do you think of the likely voter
setup? Do you think it`s really more accurate than registered voter? You
think you`re really learning something there?
SHRUM: I think we don`t always know. The likely voter sample, for
example, in 2008 overestimated Obama`s victory. It would have been closer
if they`d gone with the registered voters. But you got to find some way to
sort this out. Not all registered voters are going to vote.
And what I was going to say about these polls is that we have to wait
and see more reliable polls out of the battleground states taken by NBC,
taken by ABC, taken by "The Wall Street Journal," taken by Marist, and
we`re going to have a much better idea of where we are. The other thing
that`s going to...
MATTHEWS: So you say it`s going to be a really close race, so it`s
really going to come down to the Electoral College. It`s not going to be
wide enough in popular vote to blow it away. There`s not going to be a
blow-out, you think.
SHRUM: Well, I think -- I think -- I think the president could win
more comfortably in the Electoral College than he does in the popular vote,
but he`s got to do well in this debate.
SHRUM: The other thing that`s going to matter here is the ground
operation in the battleground states. I think the Obama campaign has
invested a huge amount in that, and we`re going to see how effective it is.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the man -- I`ve been using the term, the
terminology of the cavalry attack. Here`s the ultimate cavalry leader,
Bill Clinton, coming in very much -- I was young enough to remember what it
was like when Ike came in the campaign for Nixon back in `60 and almost won
it for Nixon -- almost won it, came really close, because Ike was still the
guy who won World War II in Europe, was still this incredibly popular
And he comes in -- I hope we have the pictures of these crowds he
would get, like in New York City, a million people in what`s considered a
Democratic state even then, Michael. Look at these pictures. A million
people in downtown New York came out for Ike -- Ike -- came out for Nixon
These pictures are unbelievable, what Eisenhower was able -- can Bill
Clinton do that in the important states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida,
STEELE: I think he can. I really do. I think Clinton still has the
magic with a lot of voters out there across the spectrum, by the way. It`s
not just, you know, in the Democrat camp. There are a lot of independent
voters and some Republicans who admire what he did...
MATTHEWS: Because he did the economy.
STEELE: ... during his time. Because what he did with the economy.
So I think this particular Clinton card is being played very judiciously by
the campaign right now. They`re going to put him out there even moreso.
And I think it`s smart. I think it`s...
MATTHEWS: Now, if you were Romney...
MATTHEWS: ... would you do the same thing with George W.? Would you
bring him into the big swing states and have giant rallies with you and
STEELE: Look, I don`t -- I don`t...
MATTHEWS: Would you do that? I`m just teasing.
STEELE: I don`t see George Bush as an anathema as some in our party
MATTHEWS: But would you bring him out for the big rallies in
STEELE: The president probably doesn`t want to participate in this
campaign. But there are some spots in town (ph), yes, he could probably
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s -- Bob, that`s a -- how would you like to have
W. out there campaigning for the other guy? Wouldn`t that be rich?
SHRUM: I strongly recommend -- I strongly recommend to Romney that he
campaign everywhere with George W. Bush...
SHRUM: ... because if you look at all the data, people still blame by
a margin of 2 to 1 the economic problems in this country on Bush.
I think -- and the other thing, by the way, it would open up for the
president is the very clear case that if you didn`t like the Bush/Cheney
years, you wouldn`t like the Romney years because he has the same
MATTHEWS: I know.
SHRUM: ... and the same advisers.
STEELE: Yes, but the difference is that the Obama years haven`t
improved that much now, now, have they. So...
SHRUM: Oh, the Obama years are pretty...
SHRUM: We didn`t go into a Great Depression...
MATTHEWS: This is what voters are deciding, this very point.
STEELE: (INAUDIBLE) and I`m right.
MATTHEWS: It was worse under W., but it`s not that much a good enough
-- better -- you didn`t clean up the Bush mess well enough.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. That`s the argument. Would you think -
- you would think the Obama campaign would want to start looking forward
toward the VP debate...
STEELE: I agree with that.
MATTHEWS: ... this week and the two remaining presidential debates.
Today the Obama camp released this ad again going back to Romney`s line
about Big Bird. This I think is Mickey Mouse, but let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski,
criminals, gluttons of greed and the evil genius who towered over them.
One man has the guts to speak his name.
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... Big Bird...
-- Big Bird...
-- Big Bird...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s me, Big Bird.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big, yellow, a menace to our economy. Mitt Romney
knows it`s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it`s "Sesame Street."
ROMNEY: I`m going to stop this subsidy to PBS!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney taking, on our enemies no matter where
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, please, God, just for a minute, Shrummy, and you, too,
Michael, be independent-minded and answer this question. Is that the right
way -- is that the right way to go in this crucial last month, to be
focusing on Big Bird?
SHRUM: No, it`s not. No, it`s not, number one. Number two, they`re
not broadcasting that ad in the battleground states at any heavy level.
Number three, they shouldn`t. Number four, we should be talking about
who`s going to save Medicare not who`s going to save Big Bird.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Michael, I can`t say it better.
STEELE: Bob, that`s one of the few times I will say ditto!
MATTHEWS: OK. And the only...
MATTHEWS: And the only caveat I offer here is that there is a way
through really good sarcasm to make fun of the other side. Franklin
MATTHEWS: Bob and I are experts at this. The Franklin Roosevelt Fala
speech that he gave at the Teamsters convention, you know, in 1944 about
the Republicans making fun of his getting his dog a ride on a ship
MATTHEWS: ... turned the Republicans into fools, and that won him the
STEELE: But that`s not this election.
MATTHEWS: That was Judge (ph) Sam Roseman wrote that speech. It was
a killer. But this isn`t being done as well. Anyway -- you know, Big Bird
-- Big Bird`s going to survive this mess, I think. Anyway, thank you, Bob
SHRUM: You`re welcome.
MATTHEWS: ... and thank you, Michael Steele, for that second or two
of nonpartisan observation.
Coming up: Unmasking moderate Mitt Romney. You know, it was a classic
Etch-A-Sketch in Wednesday`s debate last week, but when is President Obama
going to stop talking about Big Bird and go after the guy himself? That`s
Also, the war in the West. Senate races in North Dakota, Montana,
Nevada and Arizona -- believe it or not, Arizona -- are now tossups for the
Senate. Tonight, the Democrat making a surprising run out there in Arizona
for that Senate seat, Richard Carmona, here on HARDBALL. He`s a Vietnam
vet and quite a candidate.
And Jon Stewart takes on the new phrase -- you`ve heard of the
truthers, you`ve heard of the birthers. Now we got the jobbers, those
right-leaning conservative conspiracy theorists who say the unemployment
numbers were cooked in Obama`s headquarters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Look, I got to say, if you`re cooking
the books, 7.8 percent unemployment is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) recipe.
STEWART: It`s like the radish stew of jobless numbers!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you can cut them a little lower if you`re going to
Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" with the real differences between
these candidates, and they`re a lot bigger than Big Bird.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling now for some key Senate races
around the country. Let`s go to the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
In Massachusetts, Republican senator Scott Brown has jumped back in
front of Elizabeth Warren in a new WBUR/Mass. Inc. poll. It`s now Brown by
3, 48-45. That one keeps juggling.
In North Dakota, a seat that looked to be a sure Republican pickup is
now a dead heat, believe it or not. Former AG out there, Heidi Heitkamp,
is tied now with Republican congressman Rick Berg at 47-all.
And in Pennsylvania, Democratic senator Bob Casey is up 9 over his
Republican challenger in the new Senate poll -- new Siena poll, 44 to 35.
That leaves a lot of extra possibilities there. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Politico today has a striking
story about the so-called Romney rebellion. As Politico put it, Ann Romney
and son Tagg performed an intervention on Mitt, trying to get him to put an
emphasis on a softer and more moderate image. The new softer image was on
full display last week in Denver.
Of course, there`s a difference between talking in more moderate ways
and actually pledging to govern as a moderate. And on the latter, don`t
believe it all for a second. The Mitt we saw last week in that debate was
certainly working double-time to Etch-A-Sketch away some of his positions.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals!
Well, the current rates, less 20 percent, so the top rate, for
instance, would go from 35 to 28.
Regulation is essential.
This president has enacted job-killing regulations. I`ll eliminate
What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation.
BRET BAIER, HOST, FOX NEWS "SPECIAL REPORT": Did you say on camera
and other places that at times, you thought it would be a model for the
ROMNEY: You`re wrong, Bret.
BAIER: No, no. No, there`s tape...
ROMNEY: Yes, no, Bret -- Bret, no, the tape out there -- continue to
read the tape and the tape goes on to say for each state to be able to look
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. But don`t be fooled by Romney`s new language, of
course. And if the president wants to hold onto his job, he better make
the American people understand that the so-called moderate Mitt is just a
mirage for the occasion. Does he have it in him to do it?
Ron Reagan`s an MSNBC political analyst and Michelle Goldberg is
senior contributing writer for "Newsweek" and the DailyBeast. Both of you,
thank you for joining us.
You know, I get pretty despondent, Ron, when I -- and Michelle, when I
think about the power of this medium, television. If all you go by is what
you watch -- and it`s a good thing we all watch these debates -- you really
don`t have the knowledge that you might need as a voter to know whether
this syncs with what the guy stands for or it`s merely a performance.
And I wonder whether -- if this guy, Mr. Romney, Governor Romney, is
able to say something like, Well, all pre-existing conditions will be
covered, and then have Fehrnstrom, his guy, go out later this night and
tell a few people who read the newspapers, Oh, it doesn`t really cover you
unless you`re already covered -- which doesn`t mean anything.
But your thoughts, Ron. Will television deceive?
RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes,
television does deceive. Candidates deceive. It`s one of the most
disturbing aspects of this campaign, particularly if Romney were to win
because, you know, it would set a standard of dishonesty for all campaigns
going forward that would be really hard to meet.
Going into the next debate -- I`ve been listening to your discussions
thus far today, and I agree with you that you don`t want Obama to
relitigate the last debate and I do agree also that he has to attack
Romney, the man.
It`s not about rearguing the Medicare issue as such. It`s about
revealing the fact that Romney has been all over the map on various issues,
will say anything on a given day to get through the day, and he has to be
unmasked that way.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what I would do, Michelle.
I mean, the facts are that Romney believes basically that the status
quo on health care before President Obama came along is fine with him, 40
million people sitting in emergency rooms for most of the day to get some
kind of basic care.
He does say things like, I want the auto industry to go bankrupt. He
does say -- or his party does and he supports them -- let`s not have a law
that says you have to get equal pay for equal work if you`re a woman.
These seem to be pretty fundamental positions he`s taken, and yet in
the debate he`s -- because his family apparently told him to go softer, he
was able to mask them.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, yes.
And I feel for Obama, because as lackluster as his performance was,
it`s really hard to debate someone who is willing to make things up and
kind of pull facts out of thin air. And I`m not sure it`s necessarily at
this point his job to refute all of this as his campaign.
MATTHEWS: Well, whose job is it?
GOLDBERG: His campaign`s and the super PACs.
I don`t understand why there`s not an ad on TV that uses that old
quote of his about how inequality should only be spoken about in private
rooms and then says, well, look at what Romney says in private rooms. Here
is what he says in the debate. Which is the real Romney?
Do you think moderators should play that role? I don`t want to knock
Jim Lehrer. He`s a distinguished journalist, but I have heard -- I have
seen people like the late Tim Russert, of course, and I have seen people
like Bob Schieffer. Whenever they hear a complete nonsense statement from
a politician on the Sunday shows, they tend to go, now, just a minute. Are
you saying -- that -- you can`t believe that, just that sort of general,
You first, Michelle.
MATTHEWS: The skepticism, isn`t it in order to say when a guy who is
obviously flipping on every issue for an hour-and-a-half to stop him
somewhere and say, well, you have not been -- that`s not been your
GOLDBERG: I understand the argument that he wants to be -- that he
wants to be a kind of neutral arbiter, but, yes, absolutely.
When you say, you know, flat out there is no tax cut for the wealthy
in my plan or he says that kind of higher-income people are not going to
pay any smaller of a share of the tax burden, when he`s been saying on
camera for more than a year now that he intends to reduce their rates to 20
percent, that he intends to reduce the inheritance tax, reduce capital
MATTHEWS: Sure. It`s called cut.
It`s pretty easy to just say, well, how do you square this with your
earlier statements? You don`t even have to call him out for lying. You
can just -- that`s a legitimate question.
REAGAN: And there are...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Ron. Your thoughts about the role of a
moderator. How do we get truth out of an hour-and-a-half debate when
nobody comes in and says, whoa?
Well, when Mitt Romney says, for instance, that half the companies or
over half the companies that have received loans from the federal
government, new alternative energy companies, have gone bankrupt, when the
real number is something more like 5 percent, which is probably better than
Bain Capital`s average, you would think that the moderator would have -- be
familiar enough with the facts that he could stop him right there and
simply point out that that is not true.
You`re not being -- you`re not taking sides when you`re taking sides
with the truth.
MATTHEWS: I think you can throw the flag once in a while, throw the
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Mitt Romney tried to use his experience as governor
of Massachusetts as evidence of his bipartisan leanings. Let`s take a look
at what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jim, I had the great
experience -- it didn`t seem like it at the time -- of being elected in a
state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. And that meant I
figured out from day one I had to get along and I had to work across the
aisle to get anything done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, of course, would Romney be as motivated to work
across the aisle if, for example, both the Senate and the House nationally
are Republican-controlled? In that case, he would likely be facing a lot
of people thinking exactly the way anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist summed
it up earlier this year. Watch Norquist in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: We are not
auditioning for Fearless Leader. We don`t need a president to tell us what
direction to go. We know what direction we want to go.
We want the Paul Ryan budget, which cuts spending $6 trillion.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
NORQUIST: The Republicans in the House have passed 24-plus bills that
create jobs and opportunity and strip out regulations. We just need a
president to sign this stuff and pick a Republican with enough working
digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that`s not a fair -- an unfair shot, Michelle.
He basically believes he has got those pledges in his pocket. He
knows that he can control federal fiscal policy in the Congress with or
without the new president, if it`s a new president. He`s got Romney`s arms
tied in the same way I think the religious right has his arms tied on
abortion rights, same-sex, the way the neocons have his arms tied, or at
least they hope they do, in terms of foreign policy.
GOLDBERG: One question that either the moderator or Obama should ask
Romney in this next election -- is, name one issue in which you are
prepared to buck your party. Name one issue on which you do plan to stand
up to House Republicans. Name one issue on which you don`t plan to govern
as a -- quote, unquote -- "severe conservative," as you described your
record in Massachusetts before you were describing your record in
Massachusetts as a kind of bipartisan bridge-builder.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Ron, would that work? Would he actually come out
with a Sister Souljah moment on request?
REAGAN: Yes. That could work.
But, again, yes, were you a severe conservative or are you the
reaching over the aisle -- across the aisle kind of guy? Which is it? But
you have got to -- as I said before, you have got to go at Romney the
person. It`s not Romney`s policies, because those don`t really exist.
MATTHEWS: I know.
REAGAN: It`s Romney the man that he`s going to have to beat in the
MATTHEWS: I agree. That`s what I`m working tonight, actually, Ron.
Let`s take a look at a promise Romney made at the debate last week
about keeping his $5 trillion tax cut deficit-neutral, deficit-neutral, in
other words, no cost to the deficit in cutting $5 trillion mainly for the
wealthy. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: With regards to that tax cut, look, I`m not looking to cut
massive taxes and to reduce the -- the revenues going to the government.
My -- my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the
deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, his running mate, Paul Ryan, just days before the
debate last week directly contradicted Romney. Ryan said lowering the tax
rates was more important than anything else, including getting rid of those
deductions that pay for them, supposedly. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": What`s most important to
Romney? Would he scale back on the 20 percent tax cut for the wealthy?
Would he scale back and say, OK, we`re going to have to raise taxes for the
middle class? I guess the question is, what`s most important to him in his
tax reform plan?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Keeping tax rates
down. By lowering tax rates, people keep more of the next dollar that they
WALLACE: So, that`s more important than...
RYAN: That`s more important than anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In other words, it is, in fact, a tax cut. It`s not a tax
caught offset by deductions. Most importantly, primarily, it`s to get the
tax rates down from 35 percent to 28 percent for the top rate. That`s the
goal here, he said.
Romney said something interesting in the debate where he basically
said nobody can say that my tax cut is going to add to the deficit if I say
REAGAN: Well, in fact, everybody who has looked at the plan says that
it will add to the deficit.
REAGAN: There isn`t a single credible economist that thinks these
numbers add up, and Romney thus far has gotten away with not having to
justify the numbers that don`t add up.
MATTHEWS: Well, everybody wants something free anyway. And he`s
offering them that, cotton candy for the world.
Anyway, thank you, Ron Reagan and thank you, Michelle Goldberg.
Up next, the rogues gallery of Republicans who don`t believe science.
Wait until you catch this Science Committee in the House and its
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Romney stopped at the Tin
Fish Restaurant in Port St. Lucie, Florida, yesterday. He was posing for a
group photo with the staff when one of the employees decided to help clean
At first, he`s like oh, oh, this is nice and -- then he`s like, oh,
KIMMEL: Wait a minute now.
KIMMEL: And then he kind of uses his hand to tap, tap. OK, now we`re
going to push that out of the frame.
KIMMEL: By the way, where is the Secret Service when this is going
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, back to HARDBALL.
Last month`s jobs report showed that the country`s unemployment rate
had dropped to 7.8 percent. Instead of acknowledging the positive news,
Jack Welch led a group of lesser lights saying the numbers must have been
manipulated by the Obama administration and that the unemployment rate
couldn`t really be below 8 percent.
Jon Stewart weighed in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": It`s got to
corrupt political manipulation of the official statistics.
What else would explain why, after unemployment has been steadily
declining for the last year, that now suddenly right before the election,
it declines a little more?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people are saying that the government`s
cooking the books here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will tell you these guys are saying they feel
like they cooked the books.
STEWART: Look, I got to say, if you`re cooking the books, 7.8 percent
unemployment is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) recipe.
STEWART: It`s like the radish stew of jobless numbers. If you`re
cooking, make a nice jambalaya, make something nice for people.
STEWART: Hey, unemployment is 2.6 percent. Everybody, we`re all
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Enough said.
With the election just weeks away, positive news about the economy
ignites desperation among angry Republicans.
Well, last night, I told you about Republican Congressman Paul Broun,
the member of the House Science Committee who recently called things like
evolution and even the Big Bang theory lies from the pit of hell. Are you
curious to else is picking up -- on that committee, who else is picking up
the slack for Broun on the Science Committee while he`s out there spreading
his "Planet of the Apes" world view?
Let`s get a look at some of the other members. Here they are. Dana
Rohrabacher of California calls global warming a complete fraud. He once
joked about the topic by comparing it to a period of significant climate
change that occurred over 15 million years ago -- quote -- "We don`t know
what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur
flatulence or, you know, who knows."
Well, it might be tricky to square that with Broun`s assertion that
the Earth is only 9,000 years old, according to the Bible.
Well, next it`s Texas Republican Ralph Hall, chairman of the Science
Committee. In order to supporting legislation to cut finding for
scientific research and education, Hall said this about scientists who come
before his committee to talk about the reality of climate change -- quote -
- "I think we ought to listen to them. I just don`t think we ought to mind
them." That`s a thinker.
Well, their colleague Jim Sensenbrenner has called the idea of climate
both change an international conspiracy and scientific fascism.
Heard enough? Well, don`t forget about Todd Akin. He has also got a
slot on the Science Committee, him and his theory that in legitimate cases
of rape, as he puts it, the woman can`t get pregnant.
Up next: Republicans probably figured they had the Senate seat in
Arizona all wrapped up, but Democratic challenger Richard Carmona has come
out of nowhere and coming on strong. Now we have got a race out there.
Richard Carmona joins us next here in a minute or two.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SEEMA MODY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Seema Mody with your CNBC "Market
The Dow sliding 110 points, the S&P 500 falling 14, and the Nasdaq
losing 47 points. After the closing bell, earning season officially kicked
off with Alcoa reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the
third quarter, shares trading flat after hours.
Meanwhile, Yum! Brands, parent of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, is also out
with earnings that beat expectations. However, revenue was light. The
stock up in late trading.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Arizona`s Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona has an inspiring
biography that`s nearly custom-made for politics. He dropped out of high
school, went to Vietnam, and became a decorated combat veteran. He got a
GED, eventually got a medical degree, and went on to be surgeon general in
George W. Bush`s administration.
Here is a part of his story in a campaign ad. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: From the jungles of Vietnam to lifesaving rescues at home,
Rich Carmona has always answered the call. In the Senate, he will support
our veterans, because he`s lived it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Now Richard Carmona has put the Republican-held Arizona
Senate seat in play. Democrats dearly want to hold on to their majority in
the Senate and flipping a seat held by retiring Republican Senator Jon Kyl
would make it even harder for Republicans to stop them. It would also be a
powerful symbol of the shifting politics in Western states.
Joining me right now is Senate candidate and former Surgeon General
It`s on honor to have you on the show, sir.
How do you handle -- how do you unify your state along ethnic lines
between what we call Anglos and Latinos? How do you make the state feel
RICHARD CARMONA, D-AZ, SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, it`s whole and home
for me, Chris, because I have been here over a quarter-century, as you
know, working in health care, working along the border, working as a police
officer, working as a professor at the university.
So the people know me and they consider me one of their own and
they`re very proud of me stepping up to serve my country once again.
MATTHEWS: Because I look at someone like your governor, and without
going after her too roughly, I just sense that her brand of politics is
CARMONA: Yes, Chris.
There`s a lot of division here and it`s one of the reasons I decided
to step up. You know, all of the Democrats and even the moderate
Republicans that I deal with every single day, they`re just fed up with
this finger-pointing and extremist rhetoric that`s out here, and it`s
hurtful and painful and doesn`t solve any problems.
I believe the people are behind me because they see me as a reasonable
person willing to solve their problems.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the tradition of Western Democrat.
I came into politics with Frank Moss from Utah, a very popular guy for
about three terms out there, even though he was a liberal Democrat. And I
look at all the Western Democrats, Montoya in the old days, and Tunney, and
Lee Metcalf, and Magnuson and Scoop Jackson, and Mike Mansfield, of course.
There`s a long history of Democrats in the west.
What`s happened? Can they make a comeback? Just moderate Democrats
from the West, is there something that can be rebuilt there as a tradition
without mirroring what goes on back east?
CARMONA: Chris, I really think there is.
And I think what`s helping us most is this extremist rhetoric that`s
been happening not only in Arizona, but throughout the West. I think
people are rejecting that. They`re tired of the partisanship. They`re
tired of the finger-pointing and name game and blame and nobody taking
responsibility for the people.
I think it`s our time now to step up and bring some reasonable people to
Congress and I think that`s why I`m going to be successful.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`ve been running an ad that essentially hugs the
middle which makes sense saying -- I`m only reading prompter here, I can`t
read ahead. You saying both Democrats and Republicans are wrong on health
Well, let`s watch what you`re saying because this couldn`t be a
trickier position. Your position in the middle of health care as a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARMONA: I see health care as a combat medic, nurse, and trauma
surgeon. How it can save lives. But I have also seen it as surgeon
general, how politics can get in the way. Republicans and Democrats both
got it wrong. We`ve got to make health care affordable for small business
and working families, through innovation and preventative care, while also
cutting waste and fraud.
I`m Rich Carmona and I approve this message, because it`s time to
tackle tough problems together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mr. Carmona, just give me a minute, tell me what you did
CARMONA: I was a U.S. Army Special -- well, I was a U.S. Army
Special Forces medic and weapons specialist on an A team and I served in
combat carrying out various operations, special operations on behalf of our
MATTHEWS: So you were in it.
CARMONA: Yes, yes, I was and with a lot of my friends and, you know,
it`s one of the reasons I`m so passionate about our veterans and making
sure that they get the education and training they deserve, that their V.A.
benefits are preserved, and that we should be awarding them combat bonuses.
Congressman Flake, of course, has voted down all those things, which
I think is reprehensible. Be there`s no higher calling than honoring these
young men and women who so bravely serve us. Right now, I`m real
disappointed in how Congressman Flake has handled that.
But I won`t do that. I will support our veterans and seniors as well
as some of the areas that Congressman Flake has moved away from because
it`s politically convenient for him.
MATTHEWS: You know that movie "Born of the Fourth of July" where
everybody cheers him when he goes off to fight, but when he comes back
dismembered, there`s not a lot of bugles playing. What is that about our
culture where some people -- they`re good on the beginning of a war, but
not so good when we meet the casualties?
CARMONA: Well, Chris, I think what`s happened is, I think the
people, irrespective of party, rally around these brave young men and women
who served --
MATTHEWS: I wish they would.
CARMONA: The fact is, you know, before I became a Senate candidate,
I was vice president of Department of Defense policy board. Last year
around this time, I was down there in the combat zone and trauma centers
with these kids coming off the plane with two and three amputations,
devastated for life, with our combat casualty care is so good. These kids
are going to live 50 and 60 more years.
And as far as I`m concerned, we owe them and their families for the
rest of their lives and trying to make them whole and give them the
benefits they`ve earned because those are not entitlements, which is what
Congressman Flake has said. They are not entitlements, these are earned
MATTHEWS: So, they`re part of the 47 percent, right?
CARMONA: Probably so. But, you know, for me I`m keeping focused on
the specifics that I will never waiver from supporting our veterans, for
protecting Medicare, for protecting Social Security, to make sure our
seniors, again, who have earned those benefits. They`ve put in every
paycheck for 40 or 50 years.
We can`t pull the rug out from under them now. We owe that to the
seniors to make sure they live their lives in comfort and dignity and
respect and not have to worry about bankruptcy and not getting health care.
MATTHEWS: I have watched people in politics for about 50, 60 years
now. All my life, I have been watching politics and I like the people who
went against the wind, against the tide, if you will, and they win in races
where their state may go the other direction, they go the other direction.
This week, it`s very important to talk about that because Joe Biden
won his first race in 1972, the year that George McGovern got blown out in
49 states -- actually 49 states including his own, South Dakota. But Joe
Biden won in Delaware even as his state was going for Nixon and I think if
you pull this off, you will be a man to be watched for years and years.
Thank you very much, Richard Carmona, running for the United States
Senate in Arizona.
Up next, a new PBS documentary on this race, the 2012 presidential
race, explores how Mitt Romney`s LDS, his Mormon faith, shapes him as a
politician and his ambitions and how both Romney and Obama came back from
bruising losses early in their political careers and that`s ahead.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got another couple polls for you in new states not
thought of as battlegrounds but they`re close. Let`s check the HARDBALL
In Pennsylvania, Siena College poll has the president up with just
three points over Romney, 43 percent, 40 percent.
In Michigan, Mitt Romney`s home state, he trails the president by
just three there as well, now in a new Epic-MRA poll. It`s Obama, 48
percent, Romney, 45 percent.
We`ll be right back. Boy, they are close.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Throughout this election year, we`ve watched President Obama and
Governor Romney`s campaigns carefully craft a message on who exactly their
candidate is and what makes them tick. Well, a PBS "Frontline" documentary
airing tonight is breaking through the talking points to find out what made
these two presidential candidates the men they are in the words of their
friends, family, enemies, and the reporters who have covered them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a pragmatic business person. He`s a guy
who likes to take apart a problem and figure out how to get it fixed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama is a fascinating mixture of boldness
and caution but then once he makes a decision, it`s usually the bold one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney has been accused of flip-flopping,
but on Mormonism, he will never flip-flop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And yet in politics he has often tried to keep
that part of him behind the curtain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The backlash against his presidency must be
mystifying to him because he genuinely doesn`t see himself as a radical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, with us right now is Michael Kirk. He`s producer of
"Frontline: The Choice 2012."
Congratulations. It`s going to be fabulous to watch this now. Give
us a couple reasons why -- let me put it this way. What do you learn about
-- and this is almost ineffable, we don`t talk religion in this country,
we`re not comfortable with it. We`re a country of tremendous religious
diversity and increasingly so, and we don`t think it should be in any way
used as a test.
But what do you think is relevant to the world view of Mitt Romney in
MICHAEL KIRK, FILMMAKER PRODUCER: I think there`s something sort of
fundamental and carefully crafted by Mitt`s responses to questions about
his faith. I think he feels it very deeply, but can`t really talk about
it. There`s a sort of hidden secret that he keeps in very close about it.
I think it`s altered the way he approaches conversations not just about his
faith, but about many other things that people would like to know about
MATTHEWS: Well, all religions have that, if you don`t mind it, I`m
sure I`ll offend everybody with this, their weirdnesses, whether it`s
exorcism in my religion. You don`t want to run on the issue if you believe
in exorcism, and to be all fair. I mean, every religion has different
things that don`t really add up to history, literally, right?
So what is it that he doesn`t want to bring out that might be seen as
relevant by voters?
KIRK: Well, I think it`s not so much what`s seen as relevant by
voters, but the way I look at the religion with Mitt was I wanted to know
what his faith mean to a young boy growing up in the Mormon Church as
opposed to maybe you, Chris, growing up in the Catholic Church. The
answers were very interesting to me. Some of it has to do with his mission
and his mission experience, but a lot of it has to do with the favorite
family story about their own relationship with their great-grandfather, and
that relationship to the United States of America.
And that story that I think Mitt was very fond of, hearing about how
his family fought and came up by their bootstraps from real deprivation and
prejudice in Mexico. I think it`s a story he believed in, loved, thought
very seriously, but didn`t feel he could talk about it, because, Chris,
it`s about polygamy.
MATTHEWS: Of course.
Let`s take a look at the documentary that explored the side of Mitt
Romney that we don`t hear often about, his family`s Mormon faith. Let`s
watch the way you handled it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON HOROWITZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: The Romneys had left the United
States and went to Mexico to avoid persecution, but it`s also to pursue
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With someone with a name like Romney, and you
heard about the sufferings of your ancestors and their sacrifices and all
they have done, that you feel like -- well, it`s my turn now, I`ve got to
pick up the baton and run with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an incredible history. He can`t talk about
it, because it involves polygamy. And so, the core of your personality is
something that you can`t talk about, because it`s politically unacceptable
-- well, you`re not going to be open with the people all around you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is it possible in your research here to handle something
I`m concerned about, that`s the view of American exceptionalism and the
notion of it, not that this is a country where you can come to the come and
make it on your own, regardless of your background and who your parents
were. But it gives us some sort of mandate in the world. Is there
something in that religion along those lines?
KIRK: There`s a sense from the Mormons we talk to that Scripture,
almost quoting Scripture happened at the moment that the Constitution was
written that America is a -- is sort of a holy land, a places where Jesus
or God may come back to, that the freedom of this country needs to be
protected. That`s intense, and very interesting information that Mormon
scholars will talk about. All we had to do was call them up and ask them
and they talk about it.
The fact that where Mitt falls on that scale, talking about those
things is something that a lot of people tell us he`s not really
comfortable talking about. And I suspect it`s something that he worries
about, talking about for reasons that I don`t -- I don`t really know. Once
you look at it, it makes sense that they believe that.
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t talk about himself generally. But here both
Governor Romney and President Obama suffered from early bruising political
losses. Romney against Massachusetts` Ted Kenney in `94, and Obama, the
primary race against Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush back in 2000. Let`s
watch that part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The debate was watched by over 3 million people,
as many as watched the Super Bowl in Massachusetts.
Romney had these expectations that he was going to win up to here,
and suddenly, Kennedy is up to here, Romney is here. The race is over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Bobby rush called him an educated fool, against
trying to sort of cast Obama as this over-educated, half-white guy from
Hawaii with this multicultural background. He was not one of us. It was a
very bruising loss for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Michael, I think the most impressive thing about
President Obama is when he lost their race, got his butt kicked by Bobby
Rush in the South Side, went on and said, I`m going statewide now. How
many politicians say I got beat locally, so I`m going statewide, I`m an
African-American, I`m going to do it? That took something.
KIRK: Well, he traveled all over the state, trying to hook together
a new kind of coalition that would help him get there, emulating in some
way Mayor Washington`s victory in Chicago with a lot of different kinds of
people. That it always been -- you`ll see in the film -- that`s a big part
of Obama`s method, that took him 30 years or so to perfect, but that was
the original idea.
Yes, when he loses to Rush, he has to reinvent himself again. Of
course, as you`ll see in the film, he has to reinvent himself in the face
of Michelle saying, I don`t want to do this anymore.
MATTHEWS: Michael, you`ve sold it, and we`re out of time.
Michael Kirk, sorry, you`ve done a great job tonight. Thank you so
much for coming on. "Frontline: The Choice 2012" airs tonight at PBS, from
9:00 to 11:00. It`s a two-hour program. I love these documentaries.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the real choice in this coming
election. One`s a Democrat, the other is a Republican.
One, President Obama, opposed the war in Iraq. The other, Mitt
Romney, supported it, just as he protested in favor of the Vietnam war,
even as he decided not to participate in it.
One, President Obama opposed the economic policies of George W. Bush.
The other, Mitt Romney, ate them up.
One, President Obama, supported a woman`s right to decide on
something as personal and intimate as reproductive rights. The other,
Romney, wants the government to rule against it in every case. He`s the
one who wants to regulate people`s lives.
One, President Obama, wants the states, not the federal government,
to decide on same-sex marriage. The other, Romney, wants the federal law
kept in place to keep that decision out of state hands, keeps same-sex
marriage banned entirely and for all time.
One, President Obama, stepped up and rescued the American auto
industry. The other, Mitt Romney, said to let it go bankrupt. One said to
make sure under the law that women get equal pay for equal work. The other
heads up the party that voted down the line against it.
One saw 40 million uninsured Americans sitting it out in the
emergency rooms of hospitals across the country, the other did too, and
says even today to let them sit there.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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