December 6, 2012
Guests: Bob Shrum, John Brabender, J.C. Watts, Judith Browne Dianis, Melinda Henneberger
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Knives out on the right.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. When a party losing an election, the
knives come out. Right now, we`re watching the night of the long knives on
the right, these stories breaking tonight. Right-wing senator Jim DeMint,
the man behind so many failed right-wing Senate challengers -- Christine
"I`m not a witch" O`Donnell, Ken Buck out in Colorado, Richard Mourdock,
and all the ones who won -- announced today he`s quitting the Senate to run
the hard-right Heritage Foundation.
Meanwhile, in the Republican House, a purge is under way, with Speaker
Boehner dumping uncontrollable right-wingers from prized committee
assignments. They`re out because they`re too right.
So what is too right for the Republicans following the defeat this week --
or their defeat last month? Is voting nay in the Senate against a
handicapped rights treaty because it carries the nightmare dread of blue
helmets riding black helicopters sweeping into your home schoolroom? Is
that OK? What`s out, what`s in, in the Republican Party that just took a
Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist and columnist at the DailyBeast and
John Brabender is a Republican strategist who ran Rick Santorum`s
This should be a hot debate. I expect you gentlemen to play fair and aim
directly below the belt. Just kidding, Bob.
MATTHEWS: Bob, I want to ask you, as a liberal, a progressive, looking
across at the right, you see Jim DeMint, a guy -- the late Tim Russert once
said I can`t believe Jim DeMint is a senator. He is not only a senator, he
is the leader, the ramrod of all those right-wing challengers. He`s the
guy that put up Ron Johnson to knock of Mitch McConnell because he`s too
He`s leaving. He`s quitting his Senate seat, a seat most people fight for
all their lives, giving it up so he can go over and run the Heritage
Foundation. We got some other stuff coming up, but let`s start with that.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, he`s going to make a
lot more money. Ed Fuller (ph), who`s leaving, makes a million dollars a
year. DeMint, I guess, has a net worth of about $40,000, according to
Secondly, I think that the leadership has tried to rein him in. They`ve
told him, Look, you can`t go out anymore and go after these conservative
Republicans with really conservative Republicans in primaries because
you`re setting us up to lose Senate seats.
Now that he`s out of there, he can become a kind of cross between Grover
Norquist and the Jim DeMint he always was. He can drive these hard-right
ideas, but he can also sponsor hard-right candidates in Republican
primaries. I think he thinks he`s going to be more important at the
Heritage Foundation than he is in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, let me ask you about that, John, because it looks
to me that not just -- well, the money`s always a draw for some people, I`m
not sure it is here. But let me tell you, what`s interesting -- he would
have been chairman of the Commerce Committee if the Republicans had won
this fight for the Senate. They lost it.
Is this just one of the things that happens when your party loses,
regardless of ideology, you look for something better to do?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I think this really is where he
is looking for a different platform, where he can have a louder voice and
concentrate on the issues he wants to, rather than just be one of the
members of the United States Senate. And I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. He`s, like, the chief recruiter on the
right. He`s the guy that really liked people like, what`s her name,
Christine O`Donnell, and he`s the one that ended up rooting for people
pretty hard on the right like Toomey in Pennsylvania, like Mourdock, like
Akin. In the end, he was their biggest cheerleader because he wants to
knock of Mitch McConnell. He tried to run Ron Johnson against him. He was
only 5 votes short the other time -- last time.
He wants to move the Republican Senate to the hardest possible right
position. How can he do that if he leaves the Senate? Big question, I
BRABENDER: I think Bob is 100 percent right. He`ll have a bigger stick
with a large organization...
MATTHEWS: In the Senate?
BRABENDER: No, at the Heritage Foundation. He`ll be able to pick the
issues he wants. He`ll get a lot of exposure. He doesn`t have to worry on
voting on issues he doesn`t care about or being the bad Republican, like he
did this week and was criticizing Boehner for rolling over, as he saw it,
on the deal with Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK, everybody is playing this down, but I don`t. Anyway Erick
Erickson on Redstate wrote his supporters today an e-mail saying this,
"Without Jim DeMint, we would most likely not presently have in the United
States Senate Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, Ron
Johnson, Ted Cruz. We would not have a Republican establishment that now
worries that conservatives might actually primary them."
But DeMint also had backed Tea Party primary candidates who went on to lose
their general elections. Just to mention a few, Richard Mourdock in
Indiana, Christine O`Donnell, as I said, in Delaware, Ken Buck out in
Bob, I`m going to back to this again. When the chief ramrod of the right-
wing Senate candidates leaves the post, who would replace him? How is this
good news for the right?
SHRUM: Look, I`m not saying whether it`s good news or bad news, I`m
telling you what I think his calculation is. His calculation is that he
can be more of a free agent. I think he will get very involved in
primaries. I think he will push hard-right issues. I wish him well
because the candidates he succeeded in nominating have quite often lost
The notion, for example, that Ted Cruz -- the Republicans were going to win
that seat and it was going to be a very conservative Republican, but there
are at least five Senate seats and probably control of the Senate that have
been lost because of these Tea Party nominees, and he`s driven that
But you watch him drive it from outside. Think of Grover Norquist and the
influence he has.
SHRUM: I don`t like Grover Norquist. I don`t like Jim DeMint. But that`s
what I think he`s thinking.
MATTHEWS: John, I want to go over to the House of Representatives, what`s
going on over there. It looks like some real purging going on over there.
We have a number of right-wing members of the House who`ve been basically
knocked off their committees. Speaker Boehner is asserting control over
Take a look at four Republican members of Congress, John, who were recently
kicked off their committees -- Justin Amash of Michigan, Tim Huelskamp of
Kansas, no longer sits on the Budget Committee. Arizona`s David Schweikert
and Walter Jones of North Carolina were booted from the House Financial
All four of these men have a history of voting against Boehner and the
House Republican leadership. It looks to me like they have one thing in
common, they`re too right for Boehner. He punishes them by dumping them.
BRABENDER: Well, I think the real problem for Boehner, quite frankly, is
he`s playing a very risky game in the sense that people are starting to
whisper that in these negotiations, he actually is not being tough enough,
that he should be out there saying that this president is addicted to
spending, he needs an intervention, and this is the fight right now.
Instead, we`re starting to see this inner fight within the Republican
Party. If these negotiations don`t go right, you will see the Tea Party
explode again. You`re going to see fiscal conservatives outraged. And so
this is kind of a high-risk game, I believe, for Boehner right now.
MATTHEWS: Is there any deal that wouldn`t explode the Tea Party?
BRABENDER: Well, yes. If...
MATTHEWS: What would be the deal?
BRABENDER: The deal that wouldn`t explode it is that if you cut a lot of
spending and you don`t all of a sudden raise taxes to a higher tax rate. I
think they would be fine getting rid of some of the loopholes, but if this
goes to where it`s just higher tax rates on the rich and very little
spending cuts, very little reform, I think there will be huge outrage.
MATTHEWS: How about a sizable adjustment in entitlements, a big number of
-- billions of dollars in cuts in regular spending, appropriations
spending, and a reduction in the rich person`s tax rate -- or a rise in it
to, say, 37 percent or 38 percent? Would that sell with the right or not?
BRABENDER: I think there`s a chance, if they would see real reform, real
cuts, more than what the president was saying, 2.5 times of cuts for every
tax increase. But what they don`t want are tax increases now and future
cuts. That`s not going to work.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. I just want to know what the rules were in the
sane world and the insane world. I do think it`s going to be more like 1
to 1, and I do think it`s going to be something like I mentioned. But
we`ll see, Bob.
Let me go back to you, Bob, because I don`t know what it looks like to you.
Just the other day -- you don`t have to talk about the purging in the
Republican Party. That happens every once in a while.
But let me ask you about this helicopter fear, this fear that -- on the
Republican right, the cultural right, that if you simply sign onto a
treaty, a worldwide treaty, that takes our handicapped rights, which people
like Tony Coe (ph) and Bob Dole fought for over the years in this country -
- so you can get a wheelchair into a hotel, you can actually move around
and be your own person if you have a handicap, you can actually be an
autonomous person -- I this country, I`ve seen friends of mine do it. They
can get everywhere because of the laws. And I know Clint Eastwood doesn`t
like these laws, but tough.
And then you get to -- they want to extend this to Europe, to places where
-- other countries where you can travel with them, so people in this
country can travel to those countries, knowing they`re not going to be
handicapped anymore than they are by facilities.
Why would a Republican vote against such a deal? I want to have you first,
then John Brabender.
SHRUM: Well, look, I mean, there`s a lot of pressure from the right on
this. There is the paranoia about the U.N. This whole...
MATTHEWS: What is it? Explain it. What`s the U.N. going to do to
SHRUM: Well, there`s somehow or other the notion that the U.N. is going to
come in and tell us what to do. The fact of the matter is, this treaty
raises the world to the standard of the U.S., doesn`t require the U.S. to
change its standards at all and doesn`t in any way give the U.N. power to
do anything in this country.
But I think it`s -- all you have to do is say U.N., and people on the right
get very exercised. Rick Santorum helped lead the opposition to this
treaty. And I think he`s out of step with the American people, out of
step, by the way, on this tax cuts for the rich stuff.
You know, Bobby Jindal said today, and I thought it was remarkable, We are
in danger of becoming the party that defends the rich, that`s anti-
Medicare, that`s anti-Social Security, and there`s no future in that kind
of Republican Party, nor is there one in a party that`s anti-handicapped.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me go to John on this because you and I, John, I think
we all know people in our business, in the journalism world and in
consulting, who have handicaps. They are in wheelchairs. But they really
raise a ruckus effectively if there`s some facility that doesn`t allow them
access or even a reasonable way of getting through that situation.
So I think it`s a nonpartisan issue, but your side of the aisle seems to
think on the right that anytime the U.N. is involved, it`s frightening.
BRABENDER: Well, there is some people...
MATTHEWS: Explain that. Explain that thinking.
BRABENDER: Yes. There is some people that say, Look, the more control we
give to the U.N., it`s control we`re taking -- we`re losing U.S.
MATTHEWS: Well, how does that work?
MATTHEWS: Explain how that works.
BRABENDER: But first...
MATTHEWS: No, explain in this case how that works.
BRABENDER: Let me give you (INAUDIBLE) this case. OK, as you said before,
in the U.S., we have made great progress with people with disabilities.
Rick Santorum has a child who is a special need child with a disability.
So he took a hard look at this legislation.
And the problem is -- this isn`t as Bob said. Bob was doing pretty good
until this point, but he`s wrong on this. This isn`t where they`re going
to take U.S. standards and then apply it worldwide. This is saying that,
We`re going to put the U.N. in control. Many countries...
SHRUM: Name how. Name how. Stop using generalizations!
BRABENDER: Well, first of all -- well, let me give you one...
SHRUM: Name what`s going to happen.
BRABENDER: They get -- the U.N. would get to, under this treaty, decide
what is considered a person with a disability, not the U.S., the U.N. would
do that. So a lot of families with people with disabilities and family
members with disabilities were very nervous that what this ultimately was
going to do was let the U.N. and countries with terrible human rights
record decide who is disabled...
MATTHEWS: What would they do? Would they go into the homes in
Pennsylvania or Virginia, Rick Santorum`s house, go into where he teaches
his kids -- and use their helicopters from somewhere out of the country,
coming into -- where -- how would they get into our country to do this
BRABENDER: Chris, here`s the problem with U.N. treaties. America lives up
to their promises, their agreements and their treaties.
SHRUM: You just shifted the argument.
BRABENDER: Other countries don`t.
SHRUM: You just shifted the argument. Chris asked you a question.
BRABENDER: I`m just -- and I`m telling you...
SHRUM: Are they going to go into Rick Santorum`s house and tell him he
can`t home school his kids? No.
BRABENDER: Well, this is...
SHRUM: No one thinks that.
BRABENDER: I never said this was about home schooling.
SHRUM: George W. Bush signed this treaty. He was not exactly...
BRABENDER: I never said this was about home schooling.
SHRUM: ... giving away American sovereignty.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- let me...
MATTHEWS: Let me -- I just want to give you a chance here, John. John
effectively explain how the U.N. would intervene in the household or
schooling matters affecting an American citizen.
BRABENDER: Because it...
MATTHEWS: How would they functionally -- no, functionally do it,
BRABENDER: If the U.S. signs a treaty, they`re responsible for living up
to that treaty and can enforce that treaty. What you`re basically saying
is, Oh, why don`t we sign the treaty and we`ll just ignore it and hope
other countries live up to it.
SHRUM: He doesn`t have an answer, Chris.
BRABENDER: That`s what the answer is!
SHRUM: He just has a generalization...
BRABENDER: Let me ask you this...
SHRUM: It`s a right-wing generalization.
BRABENDER: Why don`t we do this...
SHRUM: But I want to do him a favor.
BRABENDER: Why don`t we just let...
SHRUM: I want to endorse Rick Santorum...
SHRUM: ... for the Republican nomination...
BRABENDER: Why don`t we just let other countries...
SHRUM: ... in 2016.
BRABENDER: ... live up to...
MATTHEWS: I think you`ve been very clever there, John, to say "Some people
think." Do you think it?
BRABENDER: I think that it`s very problematic...
MATTHEWS: Do you fear U.N. helicopters coming into our country...
BRABENDER: It makes me very nervous...
MATTHEWS: ... enforcing their law?
BRABENDER: ... when we take countries that have no beliefs in civil
liberties, that -- countries who are terrible on human rights, and we say,
You know what? We`re going to make -- have -- put you in charge of
SHRUM: That`s not what it does!
BRABENDER: ... that affect American citizens.
SHRUM: It forces them to live up to standards...
BRABENDER: This treaty does...
SHRUM: ... that we believe in.
BRABENDER: No, it doesn`t! Where does it say in there that the other
countries are going to live up to our standards?
SHRUM: No, that`s what the treaty does! It sets down these standards
SHRUM: ... people are to be treated!
BRABENDER: It says the U.N....
MATTHEWS: Some of this...
BRABENDER: ... will do that!
SHRUM: ... doctrine that George W. Bush...
MATTHEWS: Hey, John...
MATTHEWS: ... Bob Shrum...
BRABENDER: ... giving away all our power.
MATTHEWS: Sometimes this stuff comes down to brain (ph) stupis (ph), the
way we look at the world. Some are more scared than others.
Coming up: Republicans made no secret of their effort to keep Democrats
from voting. Is it possible that those voter ID laws, the photo ID laws,
actually encouraged African-Americans, among others, to defy the GOP and go
out and vote?
I feel that happened. I`ve heard that happened. Let`s hear about it. Did
it happen? Did blacks and other people go out and say, Screw you, you`re
not going to stop me from voting. I`m going to vote, no matter what law
you pass. Anyway, not only does it (ph) have the math, by the way, on
their side, let`s find out how it worked.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, we learned today it`s Obama versus Clinton again, though
not in the way you might imagine. Both Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton
have been nominated for Grammy Awards.
The first lady was nominated in the Best Spoken Word category for the audio
version of "American Grown," the book that tells the story of the White
House garden and encourages healthy eating. And the former president was
nominated in the same category for "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart
Government for a Strong Economy." The returns for this race will be in
February -- on February 10th (INAUDIBLE) we`ll find out who won.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Did Republican efforts to suppress
the vote backfire this time? In dozens of states, they made efforts to
keep people, especially minorities and poor people, from getting to the
ballot box. They shortened early voting periods and tried to put in place
much stricter voter photo ID rules in many places.
Well, it didn`t work. Minority turnout remained steady from 2008. In some
states, it even increased, like Ohio. And some civil rights leaders say it
was actually those attempt at voter suppression that drove voters out to
vote, even if it meant standing in line for hours, and even if they weren`t
that strong for Obama, they just wanted to prove they could vote.
What`s clear is that the Republican Party has a deeper problem right now.
It`s failing to attract minority voters largely due to the policies it
supports, I would argue, and the rhetoric some of its leaders and their
cronies have been using. This year, President Obama beat Mitt Romney by 44
points among Hispanic voters and only 6 percent of African-Americans voted
What`s going on? What can Republican Party do about it? Big questions.
J.C. Watts, of course, is former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma and Judith
Browne Dianis is the co-director for the Advancement Project (INAUDIBLE)
Civil Rights and voting groups.
Thank you so much. Let me ask Judith to start with a little bit some
homework that we couldn`t do, but we`re counting on to you do. I had
anecdotal, people come up to me and said, I was so angry about some of the
suppression talk and attempts in all those 30-some states -- African-
Americans would say, you know, I got out there and voted and I know
What evidence do you have that it really worked in the favor -- or rather,
put it this way, against the Republicans for trying to do that?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, number one, we know that
they tried to do it so that they could have partisan advantage. But we do
know it backfired because, number one, organizations like mine were able to
stop them dead in their tracks by bringing litigation.
But two, we know that voters were standing in line. In fact, I stood in
line in Maryland for seven hours. And I will tell you, Chris, that the
discussion in that line, in an all-black precinct -- seven hours -- people
said this is about voter suppression. They don`t want us to vote.
But we -- you know, this is an old playbook. People are used to it. They
see it coming and they say, No, we`re not going to allow them to silence us
and take our vote away. So seven, eight hours, people were steady in their
commitment in places like Florida and Ohio, where they tried the hardest to
suppress the vote.
MATTHEWS: Well, here we`re looking, ironically, at a bunch of people who
are all white, from (INAUDIBLE) tell the line here, a very long, slow-
moving line where they -- they were held up, too. How do you know it was
aimed at minorities?
DIANIS: Well, we know that the laws themselves were aimed at minorities.
I mean, the laws that -- you know, the early voting laws -- and we know in
Florida, we already have the head of the GOP, the Florida GOP, and former
governor Crist admitting that, in fact, they did it for partisan gain.
They did it for their own party so that they could win. But they didn`t
MATTHEWS: J.C., I want you to respond to these rather provocative comments
here. Since 2011, at least 34 states introduced legislation to require
photo identification to vote. In all but one case, the legislation was
introduced by Republicans, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In
total, the 18 states on this map passed photo voter ID requirements, though
in some cases, there have been legal or federal challenges to the new laws.
The purpose of the laws were clear to everyone, to make it difficult for
typically democratic constituents to vote.
Listen to what Mike Turzai, the majority leader of the Pennsylvania House
of Representatives, said when he found out -- he was talking about these
voters laws. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D.,
which is going to allow Governor Romney to allow the state of Pennsylvania,
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty clear.
Earlier this year, Bill Clinton talked about the -- what he called the
blatant voter suppression efforts down in Florida. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How much will the
vote be lessened or reduced by the fact that in, Florida, except for four
counties, the pre-election voting, advanced voting, has been cut down to
eight days and doesn`t include the Sunday before the election, which is an
arrow aimed straight at the heart of the African-American churches who pull
up the church buses on the Sunday before election and take elderly people
who have no cars or people who are disabled to the polls so they can vote?
In my lifetime, nobody has ever done anything quite this blatant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Your thoughts about this whole thing. I have a lot of
thoughts about this, but you are running potentially for RNC chair against
Reince Priebus. Your thoughts about the whole question of suppression,
what we call dog whistles, clever attempts to get the white vote out, to be
angry about the black leadership in the country right now. Your thoughts
MATTHEWS: You`re a politician, a Republican, an African-American. You
have got it all going here.
J.C. WATTS, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I have heard you, Chris. I
have seen you in the evening talk about the dog whistles, and that`s quite
fascinating, I mean, all the speculation.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re aimed at me. They`re not aimed at you. I can
hear the whistle.
WATTS: But you`re -- you don`t vote Republican.
I think there`s going to be speculation in an election year. There`s going
to be a lot of different things. The voter I.D. thing, I really don`t have
any problem with that, because I think...
MATTHEWS: Who was it aimed at?
WATTS: I think it should be -- if it was aimed at trying to suppress vote,
they were doing it for the wrong reasons.
Anything beyond trying to keep integrity in the voting process, I would
disagree with. But it`s going to be a lot of speculation and people use
their motives for why it was done and why it wasn`t done.
I happen to believe that in the black -- in the black community, in 2008,
President Obama got 96 percent of the black vote. In this election, he got
93 percent. So 3 percent -- he got three points less in this election.
I don`t think it had anything do with voter suppression and all that kind
of stuff. That three points didn`t go to Republicans because Republicans
MATTHEWS: Respond, Judith to that, because I hear...
MATTHEWS: You hear it differently than him.
WATTS: No, no, let me continue to respond. You have had a lot of intro
and a pretty lengthy intro here.
MATTHEWS: There`s more coming, J.C.
WATTS: But the fact is, I think that 3 percent, it didn`t go to
Republicans -- and it didn`t go to the president, but it didn`t go to
Republicans, because I think Republicans have dropped the ball in terms of
trying to establish deeper relationships with these communities.
And the fact that someone might have speculation about voter suppression
and so forth, it tends to carry a lot more weight...
BROWNE-DIANIS: Well, I mean, the problem is that there`s...
WATTS: ... because the Republicans just have no credibility.
MATTHEWS: Judith, your turn.
BROWNE-DIANIS: The problem is, is this isn`t speculation. We have
admissions by Governor Crist.
He has -- there`s no reason for him to lie about the fact that the
Republican Party in Florida actually did this so that Democrats could lose,
but -- and then on top of it really targeted African-Americans and Latinos,
who are the loyalists to the Democratic Party.
And so we`re not speculating about this. We know the hard-core facts are
this was an attempt to take the vote away from African-Americans, the
elderly, young people, and Latino voters.
MATTHEWS: Well, here is some of the elevator music for this campaign. We
all have heard this. We call this, as you know, a montage. One reason so
many minority voters were turned off to Republicans may be the way leaders
in the party use ethnic dog whistles against President Obama. Listen to
some examples. Judge for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: President Obama is the
most effective food stamp president in American history.
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: The men and women all over
America who have worked hard to build these businesses, their businesses,
from the ground up is how our economy became the envy of the world. It is
the American way, and I wish this president would learn how to be an
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: People have
birth certificates. He doesn`t have a birth certificate. Now, he may have
one, but there`s something on that birth -- it may be religion. Maybe it
says he`s a Muslim, I don`t know. Maybe he doesn`t want that. Or he may
not have one.
But I will tell you this. If he wasn`t born in this country, it`s one of
the great scams of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: These aren`t exactly cheerleaders for black participation in the
Republican Party, are they?
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, he genu -- you know, Mitt Romney genuflected to
that guy in the campaign, to Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let the congressman talk.
MATTHEWS: Judith, let Mr. -- let J.C. talk, because I don`t know how you
react to that. I want to know.
WATTS: Well, Chris, on the birther thing, I think that`s a losing issue.
MATTHEWS: Well, why do the Republicans push it?
WATTS: Hey, I can`t speak for Republicans. You don`t hear me talking
MATTHEWS: I thought you wanted to chair the party.
WATTS: Well, that`s the reason.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re going to have to speak for these clowns.
WATTS: ... for that reason.
But, you know, you can`t -- you have to carry baggage of Democrats that I
have heard you over the years disagree with them.
MATTHEWS: I have.
WATTS: So, you -- I do think that there has to be a different tone set in
MATTHEWS: Do you agree that these are dog whistles, these are signals to
people, we don`t like black presidents? Do you think that`s...
MATTHEWS: Food stamps and...
WATTS: The birther thing...
MATTHEWS: And he ain`t American?
WATTS: Yes. You never heard me say that.
BROWNE-DIANIS: But the food stamps, the dependency message...
WATTS: And I think it`s -- I think it`s unfair for John -- for -- to paint
with a broad brush and say that all Republicans agree...
MATTHEWS: Well, Sununu was one of their number one surrogates they were
putting out. And he was all over the place...
WATTS: But, Chris, I didn`t -- I was critical of the Romney folks.
They had no diversity in their campaign. And I was critical in 2008
because they had no diversity.
BROWNE-DIANIS: But that also plays -- that also plays into...
MATTHEWS: Judith, we have to make some news here. This is a news show.
We have got to make some news.
Mr. Watts, U.S. Congressman Watts, you have been elected to office before.
Will you seek the Republican chairmanship against Mr. Reince Priebus?
WATTS: Chris, this is -- you know, I have kind of gotten caught up in this
WATTS: And this thing has kind of taken a life of its own. I -- everybody
points fingers and whistles when things...
MATTHEWS: How about pointing like this to yourself to say, I want to run?
WATTS: ... don`t go well, but the fact the fingers that I`m pointing, I
have been pointing for 20 years to say that Republicans...
MATTHEWS: I know. No, you`re like Jack Kemp. You`re a good guy on this
WATTS: ... that they have done a poor job in establishing deeper
relationships. And that`s my point.
WATTS: I think it starts at the RNC. And they keep saying...
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going to have to wait and see if you run.
WATTS: After every election, they keep saying, oh, we`re going to do
better. We need to do better.
They never do anybody about it.
MATTHEWS: I`m waiting to see if Michael Steele runs, my colleague here, if
he runs, if you run, both. I want to see if you both run or either run. I
don`t think he`s going to run, but I think you might run.
Thank you, J.C. Watts. Please tell us when you do.
Judith Browne-Dianis, thank you very much for coming on.
BROWNE-DIANIS: Thank you. Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And happy holidays to both you folks.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Jon Stewart explains how Republicans hate the U.N.
more than they want to help the disabled. You have got to wait for this
guy. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now time for the "Sideshow."
First, 38 Republicans voted this week to defeat a U.N. treaty that promotes
rights for disabled citizens worldwide. Well, last night, Jon Stewart took
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": I guess it`s time
for our new segment, "Please Tell Me This Is Rock Bottom."
STEWART: It`s official. Republicans hate the United Nations more than
they like helping people in wheelchairs.
STEWART: You voted no because your fear is, if we sign on to a treaty that
is only recommendations for improved disability standards, standards we
ourselves made the law of the land in this country 20 years ago, what`s to
stop the men in blue helmets from storming into your living room?
STEWART: I`m sorry -- school -- and force you to build a wheelchair-
accessible ramp to the cafeteria -- I`m sorry -- your kitchen?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And from the Tea Party right to the liberal left. We had
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank on HARDBALL this week for an
interview before he departs the Congress altogether, but David Letterman
caught on to something I missed that night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Oh, hey, kids,
guess what? We have a brand-new segment for you tonight. We have never
done this before. I`m glad you`re here. I`m glad you`re in a good mood.
The new segment is, "For the Love of God, Open Your Eyes." Let`s go
through it again, "For the Love of God, Open Your Eyes."
I hope you enjoy it. Roll it.
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: That fight is about over. It`s sort
of odd to hear Mitt Romney complaining that President Obama got an
advantage because he was for same-sex marriage. Not very long ago, that
was a wedge issue Bob Dole was using against Bill Clinton.
FRANK: I think we have made some progress in some other areas, clearly
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LETTERMAN: Barney Frank talking in his sleep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I hadn`t even noticed that through the glare on the glasses.
Anyway Barney Frank, a great congressman, a great guest, even with his eyes
And, lastly, who can forget this iconic campaign moment following the 20 --
well, actually, the 2004 Iowa caucuses?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2004)
HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had told us one year
ago that we were going to come in third in Iowa, we would have given
anything for that.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DEAN: And you know something? You know something?
Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin. We`re going to South
Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! We`re
going to California and Texas and New York! And we`re going to South
Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan! And then we`re going to
Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeah!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it was a scream that defined Howard Dean`s ill-fated
candidacy, described by a news study as a shift from intense to borderline
But now "The Washington Examiner" today report research conducted for a
group called Media, Culture & Society that shows it was Dean`s microphone
that did him in, because it only picked up the governor`s remarks for TV,
not the crowd`s boisterous cheering around him.
Now, a video camera there that day picked up the crowd noise overpowering
Dean. In other words, if you were in the room that night, his yelling was
entirely appropriate. I think I speak for Howard Dean when I say, so now
you tell me.
Anyway, up next -- that is true. Now they tell us.
Up next: Not only does President Obama have math on his side. He`s got
the polls too. So, he`s taking his fiscal cliff case on the road.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
The Dow finished the session up 39 points. The S&P added four. And the
Nasdaq gained 15. Apple making a turnaround. It rose more than 1 percent
today, just a day after the stock`s biggest drop in four years. CEO Tim
Cook says the tech giant will shift production for one of its Mac computer
lines back to the United States next year. Apple expects to send 100 -- to
spend, rather, $100 million to move that line from China to the U.S. And
U.S. jobless claims dropped by 25,000 in the latest week.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- and now back to Chris
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just to be clear, I`m not
going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up
for folks at the top 2 percent. But I do remain optimistic that we can get
something done that is good for families like this one and that is good for
the American economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, today, President Obama took his fiscal pitch outside the Beltway,
visiting a middle-class family in the Virginia suburbs. The president`s
message is resonating with people across America. A new Quinnipiac poll
proves it; 53 percent trust President Obama and the Democrats more to
handle the fiscal cliff negotiations. Only 36 percent trust the R`s in
Joining me right now is NBC chief White House correspondent and political
director and host of "The Daily Rundown."
Anything else you control around here?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That`s enough. That`s enough.
MATTHEWS: And "The Washington Post"`s Chris Cillizza. He`s a -- by the
way, I think you have been re-upped. You`re all over the place, these
MATTHEWS: I mean, you`re the greatest. I think you`re the absolute best
there is in this business.
TODD: Let`s be careful talking about the president outside the Beltway.
He was in Falls Church, Virginia, OK?
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. It`s a drive.
TODD: It`s within...
MATTHEWS: OK. Now here is the reason I want you and Chris on. What is
the president hoping to get done? What`s his time frame? Does he believe
in the cliff or does he think it`s a bungee jump, like some of the
blogosphere people think?
TODD: No, he truly believes in the cliff. He has been getting -- and he`s
getting economic warnings from his own team that say, don`t believe the
Congressional Budget Office, who is kind of rosy about this, right, who
says, yes, it would be a tough 2013 if we went over the cliff and
everything went in, but things would get better.
He is getting updates the say, no, no, no, no, we will go into recession.
This will be painful.
MATTHEWS: So what goes down won`t necessarily come up again.
TODD: That`s right.
TODD: No, no, he is getting the...
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.
TODD: ... let`s not...
MATTHEWS: OK, therefore, therefore -- let`s go to the therefore now.
MATTHEWS: Can he arrange a credible, reasonably progressive deal before
Christmas, before the 21st, when they want to get out of here?
TODD: Here is where we`re at.
We are -- we -- I think now we know what the bookends are at this point.
The bookend -- the worst good deal he`s going to get and I think that`s
right now the most likely, if they can`t get it, is a -- Republicans go
ahead and pass what he`s been asking for, the middle class tax rate
extension that allow the top rates to go up either all the way or maybe to
37 percent and that`s it. And that could be it.
Maybe Republicans -- and they may say we can`t -- he won`t negotiate on
anything else --
MATTHEWS: What about the deals he`s already accepted? What about the
entitlement adjustments --
TODD: And they may wait on entitlements and punt. This would be -- this
is the version of punt that is I think starting to come --
MATTHEWS: But he said yesterday he would reject that kind of deal.
TODD: No, he`s called for tax rates. He`s not going to be able to reject
the tax rate deal --
MATTHEWS: No. But --
TODD: If he gets them to --
MATTHEWS: But you`re suggesting we go on and would have another fight like
TODD: We would have another fight when debt limit came on everything else
MATTHEWS: He might accept that?
TODD: Now, he would have -- if they sign, he has simply asked for them.
He has said he`s willing to have the larger debate later if Congress will
simply pass the middle class tax rate extension. If Congress ends up doing
that and you can see that`s coming together, that`s going to happen if --
no matter what.
Well, cracks are forming on the Republican resistance raising obviously to
raising tax rates to the top. A report on today`s "Washington Post" says
many GOP centrists and some conservatives are calling on Speaker Boehner to
concede on rates right now while he still has some leverage to demand
something in return.
Even Ann Coulter of the far right sees the writing on the wall. Here she
is last night with Hannity, who doesn`t seem to have any brains on this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Wait a minute. I want to make sure I understand
you. so, are you saying then, for P.R. purposes, that they should give in
to Obama on the tax rate?
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Not exactly -- well, yes, I guess I
am. But I think you can have --
HANNITY: You`re saying capitulate to Obama who`s -- we don`t have a
revenue problem, Ann.
COULTER: We lost the election, Sean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the fact is, Sean, we do have a revenue problem. We have
15 percent of GDP going in revenues, about 24 percent of GDP going in
spending. Republicans on the right should at least pay for what they want
to spend on, at least we`ll argue about the rest of it. At least pay for
the guns and ammo before you say we don`t have a revenue problem.
Anyway, the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to take -- make sure
voters don`t. He`s not blind to reality. He writes in today`s "Politico",
"Any reading of the headlines over the past week indicates that Republicans
are fighting to protect the rich and cut benefits for seniors. It may be
possible to have worse political positioning than that, but I`m not so sure
Your thoughts, Chris. Do you conform to the thinking here of our smartest
possible colleague here, Chuck, that this is something that the president
realizes is a true cliff, you don`t want to go over it, and he will
recognize a good deal if he see it is before Christmas and take it?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Yes, I do agree with
Chuck. I would say two things. One, with the cliff and the president
acknowledging it`s a real thing, not sort of a made-up deal, is that the
uncertainty factor, Chris. That`s what you can`t overestimate.
All of these limits of what would happen and how it would impact -- no one
really knows what would happen. I think the president is cognizant of sort
of throwing the country into uncertainty after, you know, this long a
struggle with the economy. So I think --
MATTHEWS: I agree.
CILLIZZA: -- that`s part one.
Part two, you know, with the cutting a deal, it`s fascinating because with
debt ceiling and even with the budget, or the extension of the Bush tax
cuts in the past, Republicans always sort of gained some leverage by
waiting until the last minute. I think there is an argument to be made
here that the closer we get to December 31st, the less leverage Republicans
have, because everything that is true today politically speaking will
almost certainly be true on December 31st.
CILLIZZA: I think Boehner understands that. It`s an issue if he can
convince his conference.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s bring it to the head here. If the deal is middle
class people get their tax cut continued, 2 percent of people don`t get it.
And they have to go -- is that a good deal for the president or is that a
tricky deal by the Republicans?
TODD: No, I mean --
MATTHEWS: It puts off the fight over spending.
TODD: He decouples tax rates which is what he`s been trying to do on the
Bush tax cuts for -- frankly, Democrats have been trying to do this for
eight years, OK? So, this is an eight-year-long campaign to decouple the
tax rates for the rich.
So, yes, I talked to a high-level aide today that said -- I said, if you
don`t get the big deal -- because right now we`re basically that small
deal, which would not be a small thing, doing that or -- but you might not
get the large grand bargain that you hope for --
MATTHEWS: Why wouldn`t the Republicans take cuts in entitlements, take
cuts in general government spending as part of a deal? That`s for them.
TODD: They don`t think -- the president hasn`t outlined the cuts yet in
entitlements. And what they want -- this is where the political
gamesmanship goes on their side, right? They sit there and say we`re
taking all the heat on taxes. We`re eating our own in the base on taxes.
You should have to eat your own in the base on the cuts.
MATTHEWS: OK. But the president said he didn`t want another fight, he
wouldn`t have another fight.
Chris, you on this one. He said he doesn`t want another fight come
February when we have to deal with the debt ceiling. What`s it mean?
Doesn`t it mean anything when he says I`m not going to do that?
CILLIZZA: Well, I think look, I think in an ideal world for what he views
as the role in government and what he views frankly, Chris, as the start of
his second term in legacy-building, I he does want -- I hate to use the
word -- but a grand bargain. I think he wanted a grand bargain --
MATTHEWS: I think he does, too. I think he`s got to do a grand bargain so
he can move on to the progressive stuff he wants to do.
TODD: But, remember, second terms don`t last four years.
CILLIZZA: Right, right.
TODD: No second term in the modern era has lasted four years.
MATTHEWS: I know.
TODD: It ends somewhere before two years.
MATTHEWS: Then you move into foreign policy.
CILLIZZA: Very quickly, chuck is right. If they get the tax rate increase
on the wealthy, they declare victory and move on.
CILLIZZA: I mean, we can argue debate that --
MATTHEWS: You`re both educating me tonight. It`s about taxes. The
president can win this one before Christmas. Thank you, Chuck Todd.
TODD: All right, buddy.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Chris Cillizza.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the story no one is talking about at Notre Dame. Some
people are charging cover-up. This is going to be a hot one for us and not
very pleasant for me.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: They`re still counting votes from the election and every day,
President Obama`s lead actually grows. According to David Wasserman, who`s
tracking the vote count for "The Cook Political Report", President Obama
has 50.96 percent, 96 percent of the vote compared to Romney`s 47.31
percent. The president`s lead of roughly 36 percent point makes the
election close but -- 3.6, but not that close. Five other elections since
World War II have been closer, including President Bush`s own win over
Kerry in 2004.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL.
This 2010 headline on "The Chicago Tribune" story was a look inside a
revered institution, Notre Dame University, in the way the university
handled its student complaint. It reads, quote, "Notre Dame silent on
teen`s death. Northbrook student apparently killed herself days after
telling campus police she had sexually attacked by a football player."
Well, the student was Lizzy Seeberg, a freshman of a sister`s school, St.
Mary`s College, seen her at the Notre Dame football game just a few days
after reporting the assault. Following her report, Seeberg received text
messages from the friend of the football player, including one that said,
"Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea."
Notre Dame sent us this, by the way, this 2010 press release from St.
Joseph County prosecutors office which states the office, quote, "declined
to file criminal charges."
Well, "The Washington Post`s" Melinda Henneberger is a Notre Dame grad
herself who has questioned her alma mater`s conduct following Seeberg`s
complaint in articles in "The Washington Post" and "The National Catholic
Reporter." Her latest is, "Why I won`t be cheering for old Notre Dame."
So explain this story as you came across it and how it fits into the --
well, is there an institutional problem at Notre Dame?
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, THE WASHINGTON POST: There is very much an
institutional problem at Notre Dame. A lot of my fellow alum say to me
it`s a couple of guys on the football team, a couple of bad apples who have
been accused of sexual assault in one case and a rape in another.
Well, to me the problem is, that would be enough, you know, my answer to
them is, how many predators would have to be on the team before it would
make you feel like not cheering?
But far worse to me than these horrible attacks, which unfortunately do
happen in every institution, on every campus in the country, is the way the
men who run Notre Dame responded to the report, responded to try to cover
up what happened, and responded in a very ugly whisper campaign against
this poor girl who reported, who did everything right, who reported
immediately and who was obviously not taken seriously. They didn`t get
around to talking to the player until 15 days after her initial report.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to show here on air at HARDBALL, the University of
Notre Dame spokesman emailed a statement to us, and here it reads.
I want to read it, you respond to it, quote, "The local prosecutor examined
all of the facts in this case at length and said charges were not
warranted. The university`s police department investigated the allegations
as soon as it was reported, taking statements from Ms. Seeberg and two
other students. And after attempting to reconcile differing versions of
what occurred, met with the accused student to hear his story.
We`ve acknowledged that the police could have acted a bit more quickly
after taking her statements but we also believe it was more important to be
thorough than fast to avoid an inappropriate rush to judgment, such as has
been found in other high-profile cases. Sexual misconduct is unacceptable
and will not be tolerated at Notre Dame."
Your view on the statement.
HENNEBERGER: Well, when they say it could have been done a bit more
quickly, 15 days, I`ve talked to a number of people who work with sexual
assaults, with police departments all over the country, you won`t find a
one that will say it`s better to wait and give the accused maximum time to
get their stories straight.
MATTHEWS: What happened -- tell me -- describe the incident for people
watching this. They`re saying -- was this a date situation? Was it a
Explain the gravity of the assault. Just get it on paper so people know
what we`re talking about here.
HENNEBERGER: So this is a young girl who`s new on campus who goes with
another St. Mary`s student to hang out that evening with a couple of guys
who have invited them over to their dorm.
MATTHEWS: And what happened?
HENNEBERGER: So the other young woman and the other young man leave the
room, leave Lizzy alone there. She`s, by her account, terrified. The guy
sexually assaulted --
MATTHEWS: What did he do to terrify her? What did he do?
HENNEBERGER: Started to take her clothes off and, in her view, attack her.
So she`s a very inexperienced girl. She`s terrified.
She doesn`t want this and she tries to get out of the room. She says, can
I -- I need to go to the bathroom. He says, there`s no bathroom in this
She`s like in the middle of a panic attack and of a physical attack. She
got rashes when she got very nervous because she suffered from anxiety.
MATTHEWS: So she reported this right away?
HENNEBERGER: Right away.
MATTHEWS: So she did everything right?
HENNEBERGER: She did everything right.
MATTHEWS: And Notre Dame did not?
HENNEBERGER: They did not. But what upsets me is when my fellow alums say
these are -- you know, there are bad apples on every team. That may well
be true. I don`t dispute that. But when you`re trading on the moral
superiority of your institution and running a whisper campaign smearing a
dead 19-year-old, that`s a problem.
MATTHEWS: I have tremendous respect for you, Melinda. That`s why you`re -
HENNEBERGER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And I love your reporting. I hate this story. I hate its
reality. Thank you, Melissa Henneberger of "The Washington Post."
When we return, let me finish with a real danger that awaits if we go over
that fiscal cliff.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. This fiscal cliff we talk
about, I`m afraid, is no bungee jump. What goes down doesn`t by necessity
come back up.
And this is why I`m warmed -- warmed -- to know the president is working
here for an early deal, one before Christmas.
This country needs to get back on its feet economically. We went through
financial chaos under W. President Obama came in to right things. He`s
been doing it, gradually getting us to forget how bad things were.
Fortunately for him, the voters still remember how bad they were and that`s
one of the reasons they don`t blame Obama for the weak economy, they still
This isn`t about right or wrong. It`s about being smart and not putting
the country at risk for ideological gain. That`s what W. did and his crowd
I want President Obama to do what he, from the looks of things is already
doing, get this deal done right and get it done on time. He knows that
failing to cut this deal on schedule is a risk of unclear dimension.
Nobody knows, I don`t know, how bad the whirlwinds will be if we fail to do
this on time.
And one thing for certain, there`s no guarantee that a huge drop in faith
by the world economic markets will be followed by a quick rebound. As I
said, this is a real cliff, not a bungee jump.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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