updated 1/11/2013 2:25:47 PM ET 2013-01-11T19:25:47

HARDBALL
January 10, 2013

Guests: Dan Malloy, Bob Shrum, Barney Frank, Jeffrey Wright, Allen Hughes

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: High noon on gun control.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with this. New school shooting in the town of Taft,
California, that`s left a 16-year-old in critical condition. Well, the
National Rifle Association meeting with Vice President Biden`s task force
late today decried what it called "proposed restrictions on lawful firearms
owners, honest, tax-paying, hard-working Americans."

Well, the question for America tonight, what does paying taxes and working
hard and even being honest have to do with this country`s failure to keep
fast-firing high-capacity guns from the hands of the mentally or
emotionally disturbed? Because if we can`t do that without arousing the
call to arms of the NRA, then we have to wonder what side this group, the
NRA, is on, those who want to keep the scariest guns from the scariest
people or those who want to make it easy as possible for the scariest
people to get the scariest guns? What side are you on, Mr. and Mrs.
America?

We begin with Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut. Governor, thank you so
much. And I was so taken with your emotional statements recently, the last
24 hours, and -- talk about it, what it means to be the governor of a state
that saw the Newtown horror.

GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, listen, it changes your life. You
know, I had to be there on the 14th. Actually, I had to tell a bunch of
parents and adults that their loved ones were not coming back, and that`s a
life-changing experience. And then to go to funeral after funeral of
babies over the course of a week is also life-changing.

But having said all of that, we`ve got to do something about violence in
Connecticut and in the world and in the United States. We`ve got to do
something about the proliferation of these high-impact guns that really
have no other real use than to kill someone. That`s what they`re designed
for. They`re very good at it.

Then you add in these high-capacity magazines, a kid, a young man can walk
into a school, bring a bunch of those things, set himself up to kill as
many people as he possibly can, and ultimately die, as was planned.

I mean, these are circumstances and events that should alter our view in
America. We should do everything we can to make ourselves safer. And this
idea that we can`t do that just isn`t true. I mean, for instance, in the
1930s, because machine guns had fallen into the hands of criminals, we
decided that nobody should have a machine gun.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MALLOY: Well, guess what? People don`t get killed anymore with machine
guns. We decided people shouldn`t have hand grenades. We`re not talking
about incidences with hand grenades.

We can make practical decisions. We can pass practical laws where most
people would agree. Let`s get that done. Let`s get rid of these
magazines. No one should be able to buy any guns in America without a
background check. It`s pretty simple stuff. You know, we do background
checks for just about everything. Why don`t we do it for every purchase of
a gun.

MATTHEWS: Well, who`s coming at you? Who`s coming at you right now when
you make these statements, from the other side?

MALLOY: Well, I mean, listen, my state`s pretty aggressive. But here`s a
big problem for us. You know, people from Connecticut buy guns in the --
in the -- in our center cities, our inner cities, that have been
transported here, having been purchased at gun shows where there`s no
background check and very little record keeping, in places like Florida and
Virginia.

And they work their way up 95, as they do, by the way, go right through
D.C. And some of them jump off there, as well.

Let`s just close this. Let`s decide that, you know, some people should
have guns and some people shouldn`t have guns. But if you`re not checking
everybody who`s buying a gun and tracing that gun, then you`re not really
controlling that. You`re just playing a game.

Now, in Connecticut you can`t buy a gun without a license. But in other
places, you can. Let`s close the things that everybody basically agrees
with. Most Americans agree that people should have a background check
before they buy a gun. Most Americans agree that these high magazines --
these magazines of 30 shots don`t make any sense. No one`s using them in
deer hunting, I can assure you. No one`s using them this defending their
home, I can assure you.

So let`s do those things that we can have a common agreement, that make
common sense, that most Americans actually agree on. Listen, the NRA is
not going to agree on anything. That`s the reality.

MATTHEWS: Sounds like it today. Let`s -- governor, let me interrupt you
to have -- let`s all hear from the vice president responding to the need
and what he`s doing with his group. Here he is today holding hearings and
meeting with sportsmen and women, gun owners and the NRA, and tonight with
the entertainment industry, and this morning, he signaled he`ll have
proposals by next Tuesday, it looks like.

Let`s hear what he had to say today, Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s a real, very
tight window to do this. I committed to him I`d have these recommendations
to him by Tuesday. And that doesn`t mean it`s the end of the discussion,
but the public wants us to act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the VP also hinted at the consensus he`s found so far in
previous meetings, which have included, as you mentioned, Governor, law
enforcement, the medical and mental and health communities, educators, and
gun safety advocates, among others.

And here`s what he`s talking about. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: There`s a surprising -- so far, a surprising recurrence of
suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the
gun show loophole, but total universal background checks, including private
sales. There`s also a good deal of talk about gun safety and what
responsibility goes along with gun ownership.

I`ve never quite heard as much talk about the need to do something about
high-capacity magazines as I have heard spontaneously from every group that
we`ve met with so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Governor Malloy, he`s speaking your language there, it sounds
like.

MALLOY: Well, he is. In fact, I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with
the vice president and a few other governors yesterday. And I don`t want
to go into the details of it, although some of the details that you`ve just
played are what he`s talking about.

There is more agreement on this amongst Americans. When you say that you
want gun control, then it gets confusing. When you say, Should we limit
high-capacity rounds, the answer is yes. Should anyone be able to buy a
gun without a background check? The answer is no.

People get it now. You know, we`ve had Aurora. We`ve had Newtown. We`ve
had a shooting today. We`re going to have more shootings in the future.
Let`s try to make our country as safe as possible.

And the other thing we have to do, quite frankly, we have to destigmatize
mental illness. The reality is that most people who experience some form
of mental illness recover from it. Let`s make sure that people feel free
to go get the help that they need, and that the help is there when they
seek it out. We can protect ourselves from treating our fellow human
beings better at least on this mental health issue and destigmatize it.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you so much for joining us, Governor Dan
Malloy of Connecticut.

As I mentioned a moment ago, the NRA released a statement following its
meeting with the vice president today, and it reads in part, "We were
disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our
children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the 2nd
Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be prejudged,
this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful
firearms owners, honest, tax-paying, hard-working Americans."

"We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of
criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and
meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are
interested in having an honest conversation about what works and what does
not."

Howard Fineman, of course, is editorial director for the HuffingtonPost, as
well as a prized MSNBC political analyst. I`m serious about that. You
know that.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Howard, by the way, thank you for coming on tonight. It just
seems like there`s a common sense guy -- Joe Biden`s a -- these are not
lefties.

FINEMAN: No. No, I...

MATTHEWS: And yet the NRA just puts the straight arm out there and says
nuttin`!

FINEMAN: Well, one reason that Joe Biden was tasked with this is that
Barack Obama, don`t forget, back in 2008, showed a little distance...

MATTHEWS: Ingloriously.

FINEMAN: Ingloriously -- said, Well, these are people who cling to their
guns and their religion. He`s not the guy to do this deal, Joe Biden is.

The governor`s right, when you get specific about things like high-capacity
magazines, people want them limited. There`s no question. On general --
if you state it generally, people are confused because they know it`s a
constitutional right. But if you`re specific, then the equation changes,
and that`s what the vice president is going to try to do.

MATTHEWS: Ironically, it`s like pro-life and pro-gun.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: It`s very ironic.

FINEMAN: Very similar.

MATTHEWS: It`s a generalized statement. It`s very...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Exactly. Now, interestingly, originally, Joe Biden was not going
to report, was not going to make his case to the president until after the
State of the Union...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... until after -- excuse me, until after the inaugural address,
and so forth. I think they`re moving up the schedule of this because I
think the president is, in fact, going to feature it in -- in -- he`s going
to mention it in the inaugural, and I think you`re going to...

MATTHEWS: Is this legacy material?

FINEMAN: This is legacy material. Also, it`s not money material. In
other words, we`re broke as a country. There`s going to be a big fight
over the debt. We`re going to have another debt ceiling crisis, and so
forth. This is a cultural matter that he can deal with, that is legacy
material, that isn`t about the budget.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... isn`t about the budget.

MATTHEWS: Most things you and I have to argue about and fight about are
zero-sum. This program gets cut off its funding, the Defense Department
(INAUDIBLE) some soldiers don`t get as much money or materiel or ordnance.
And in this case, who gets punished if you have gun safety?

FINEMAN: Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Nobody does!

FINEMAN: Now, the other thing is that the campaign committees are worried
about congressional candidates in red states. In other words, somebody
like Mitch McConnell may be vulnerable a Kentucky. Why saddle the
Democratic opponent...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE)

FINEMAN: Yes. But the fact is, I think the president feels that he`s
pushing a little bit on an open door here.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And it is legacy material. He won reelection, one of only eight
presidents to win two terms by 51 percent of the popular vote.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: What does he use that mandate for? Also...

MATTHEWS: That`s the question.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: When are you going to do what you got there to do?

FINEMAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Stop worrying about getting there again.

FINEMAN: And presidents don`t always just follow public opinion, they have
to shape public opinion.

MATTHEWS: OK, can I ask you...

FINEMAN: He`s got a chance here.

MATTHEWS: OK. I`m a suburbanite city mouse. I generally have lived in
urban -- suburban areas, but I don`t know why you need a gun show. I mean,
if you want to buy a gun, you buy a car, you go to a dealer. Why do you
have to have a show? Why does it have to be a big hotel opens its doors to
a bunch of gun salesmen and people...

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... rush in and buy guns?

FINEMAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: Why do you have to have a gun show to buy guns at?

FINEMAN: Far be it from me to comment in depth on gun culture, but I do
think it`s fun. Gun shows are fun.

MATTHEWS: OK, but why...

FINEMAN: It`s like auto shows.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... sell guns and you walk out with...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: No, if you have the universal background check that the
governor`s talking about, then fine. The problem with gun shows is they`re
used as a huge loophole to sell a lot of unregulated guns. That`s --
that`s -- that`s the problem.

MATTHEWS: So you walk in -- you go to a big hotel and you walk (INAUDIBLE)
look at all these great new guns and you say, I think I want to buy that
one. That`s $500 (INAUDIBLE) I want to buy that one. And what do you do
to show you`re OK, you`re not crazy, or you`re not a criminal or a
fugitive?

FINEMAN: Well, you don`t have to do very much. That`s the point. And I
think what the governor is saying...

MATTHEWS: Suppose Adam Lanza had gone to a gun show and bought all the
stuff he killed people with?

FINEMAN: Well, as it happens...

MATTHEWS: He wouldn`t have had to shoot his mother, just go to the gun
show!

FINEMAN: He -- all of his guns were legally bought and legally
registered...

MATTHEWS: By his mother.

FINEMAN: ... and so forth by his mother. But you -- I think -- again,
that`s what the governor is talking about. I think that`s what Joe Biden
is going to talk about. The problem that the gun advocates have -- and I
understand where David Keene (ph), who`s the political adviser to the
NRA...

MATTHEWS: I know. Smart guy.

FINEMAN: ... brilliant guy -- long-time...

MATTHEWS: Brilliant. That`s (INAUDIBLE)

FINEMAN: No, he is -- no, long-time conservative -- what they`re telling
themselves is, We have to build a fence around the 2nd Amendment, that if
we concede on anything, even something like this, then they`re going to
take up the guns.

MATTHEWS: But that`s the old slippery slope argument that`s at the heart
of the NRA membership, which is I think wrong.

FINEMAN: I know. Well, it may be wrong, but I`m just telling you that`s
what they believe and that`s why they`re taking the rejectionist line here.
And they`re going to -- what Keene is saying, what LaPierre is saying is
that they`re going to work the Congress and they`re going to do everything
within their power to defeat any piece of legislation that comes along.

It`s going to be a big battle for the president, and he better be ready to
take it on.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think they`re wrong. I think a reasonable society makes
reasonable decisions. Anyway, thank you very much, Howard Fineman.

MALLOY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And by the way, I`m going to get to it at the end. I think
everybody should get to vote on this, not just gun people. So far, the gun
people have written the gun laws -- written the gun laws.

Coming up, lessons not learned. So let`s see. The Republicans lost the
election because they lost women, Latinos and young people. So what
legislation have they just introduced for this year? Defund Planned
Parenthood, deny citizenship to people are born here if their parents
aren`t here illegally -- here legally, create legal personhood at the
moment of conception. Check, check, check. They`ve insulted every group
they need. As I said last night, keep it up, guys, you`re doing great.

Also, why does Barney Frank want to be appointed United States senator from
Massachusetts after he`s just quit the House? He`s coming here to explain.

Plus, Conan O`Brien`s team takes AIG to task for even thinking of suing the
very U.S. taxpayers who bailed out AIG.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s in the "Sideshow" tonight, where it belongs, of course.

And finally, "Let Me Finish" with Joe Biden`s common sense approach to gun
safety.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: As expected, this afternoon, President Obama tapped Jack Lew to
be the next secretary of the treasury. Lew, a man, I believe, of good and
strong values, currently is the president`s White House chief of staff.
And before that, he was director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The president urged Congress to confirm him quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jack has my complete trust.
I know I`m not alone in that. In the words of one former senator, having
Lew on your team is the equivalent, as a coach, of having the luxury of
putting somebody at almost any position and knowing he will do well, and I
could not agree more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That man standing there, Jack Lew, looks exactly the same as he
did when he was 25 years old, working next to me in Tip O`Neill`s office.
Exactly the same. I don`t believe it!

Lew`s nomination signals the priority the president is putting on the
upcoming budget battles with Congress.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the 112th Congress left office
with a favorability rating lower than head lice, apparently. You can thank
the Tea Party for ensuring that it was also the least productive Congress
on record.

So how are Republicans kicking off the new legislative session of Congress?
By -- well, apparently, by picking up right where they left off. As
Michele Bachmann proudly boasted on Twitter, quote, she, quote, "introduced
the first bill of the 113th Congress to repeal `Obama care` in its
entirety."

Well, you might recall Republicans have tried at least 33 times before this
to repeal all or part of "Obama care." Those are efforts that have
absolutely no chance of passing since the Senate, as we all know, is
controlled by the Democrats and the veto pen-wielding president is unlikely
to repeal his own health care bill.

Well, Congresswoman Bachmann is not alone picking up on old fights. In the
first few days of the new Congress, Republicans have tried to reengage in
fights over anchor babies, defunding Planned Parenthood and even passing a
personhood bill, if you can believe that, after all this argument. In
other words, here we go again.

Michael Steele is the former chair of the Republican National Committee and
an MSNBC political analyst, and Bob Shrum is a Democratic strategist.

Let`s look at this one. Here`s Michele Bachmann, as I said, might be
fighting to repeal "Obama care," but John Boehner concedes it`s a losing
battle. In an interview with ABC back in November, after the election, the
Speaker of the House said the election settled the issue of "Obama care."

I thought it was a reasonable statement by the speaker. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think the election
changes that. It`s pretty clear that the president was re-elected, "Obama
care" is the law of the land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, somebody said on the show the other night something
about a few bad apples spoiling the bunch, Michael Steele.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re laughing because you -- I didn`t think that was true.
Though I think about it, if you do get a couple bad apples, they`re rotten,
they`ve been around too long, and you put them in with a bunch of other
apples -- in fact, when you go picking apples at the Safeway, you look to
see that they haven`t messed up the other apples.

And you have people in the Republican Party that just seem to want to go
back into the gooey stuff that causes nothing but trouble, like going after
"Obama care."

Why don`t you guys see if it works or not, then go after it? Why attack it
in its crib again?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with you.
And the point to note about your vegetable or fruit analogy there is that
bad apples can accelerate the spoiling of those good apples.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: So -- and I think that`s the point here. Look, you don`t lead off
this Congress, I don`t think, with those types of legislations. You lead
it off with bills that are going to create jobs, that puts the president on
a point to address spending. That`s where the issue is right now...

MATTHEWS: I said it last night. I`m not selling your party on how it
should win elections, but...

STEELE: Right, but...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... get in this game.

STEELE: That`s the sweet spot that the party needs to get into. Now, the
speaker had it right, OK? The election`s over. The other side won. The
American people have spoken. Now let`s govern. And how we want to govern
on creating jobs and economic prosperity is the talking point.

MATTHEWS: Guess what? Rotten apples can talk!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Last summer, after Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running
mate, Ryan was awkwardly forced to try to answer questions about the
difference between in his views on abortion and Romney`s. Well, take a
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Should abortions be available to women who are raped?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Well, look, I -- I`m proud of my pro-life
record and I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It`s something I`m
proud of, but Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket, and Mitt Romney will be
president, and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you might recall that Ryan co-sponsored a personhood bill
with Todd Akin in the past.

Well, guess what legislation Ryan has signed on to again last week in this
new Congress? Another personhood bill. It reads in part: "The life of
each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional
equivalent, at which time every human being shall have the legal -- all the
legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood."

Here we are back again, Bob Shrum, to the 14th Amendment rights, including
property, being accorded to the fertilized egg. It just seems to me an
argument that gets very fundamentalist and causes nothing but trouble for
the Republicans in the suburbs and the cities, anywhere where people might
not like this kind of talk.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that`s right.

And one thing Paul Ryan obviously learned from Mitt Romney was how to flip-
flop. Look, this is a really extreme measure.

MATTHEWS: No, he`s flopped back again.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: A flip-flop flip.

It would outlaw all stem cell research. It would outlaw common forms of
birth control. It`s so extreme that the voters of Mississippi rejected it
in a popular referendum. Now, Paul Ryan may believe this, but I also think
his appraisal of the 2016 landscape in the Republican primaries is that
it`s not going to change much from 2012, that there`s going to be a purity
litmus test.

You have to pass that litmus test to be the nominee. So, you think about
those Iowa caucuses. They`re dominated by the religious right. You think
about someone like Chris Christie who could run who says, look, we have got
to be a party that compromises.

And, by the way, when Michael Steele was lieutenant governor of Maryland,
he was part of an administration that compromised, worked with Democrats,
and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, we know he`s a good guy. We know he`s a good guy.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: But, look, that`s what -- that`s what the country wants, and these
folks don`t get it.

STEELE: But that`s what you have to do.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the Latino vote, which is really a
community which is very much in play in a sense that W., a very recent
president, was very successful in that community.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, it obviously is not anchored, if you will, to one party.

Remember anchor babies, to use a term another way? Congressman Steve King
introduced a bill back in 2011, two years ago now, to clarify in his words
the 14th Amendment. The amendment, by the way, grants citizenship to
anyone born -- it was written after the Civil War for African-Americans,
obviously.

Well, King argued it was not meant to include babies of illegal immigrants.
Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Anchor babies are babies that are born in the
United States to an illegal mother. And the practice over the years has
been to grant automatic citizenship to babies born on U.S. soil.

They sneak into the United States for the -- many of them for the purposes
of having the baby. They get the little birth certificate with their
little feet prints on there, and then they either stay here or they go back
to their home country and wait until that child comes of age.

And then that child -- they use that child to apply to bring in the family,
the nuclear family, then the extended family. And it`s out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you might expect something like that from the man who
questioned whether Barack Obama`s mom might have sent his birth
announcement by telegram from Kenya.

Well, King is at it again with anchor babies. He introduced a new bill
last week, with the statement: "The current practice of extending U.S.
citizenships to hundreds of thousands of anchor babies must end because it
creates a magnet for illegal immigration into our country."

Let me ask you. There`s something about the way that guy talks that I
don`t like. He talks about having illegal mothers -- illegal mothers, like
having the baby was the illegal act, and the little feet, and the little
feet prints. And the derogatory way he talks, you got the sense he might
just be prejudiced against Latinos. Just a guess. Just a guess.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Well, I don`t know. I know Steve well and I don`t get that sense
from him.

But this -- to this point, Chris, he makes -- that video makes the argument
for the comprehensive immigration reform that everybody now knows we need
to address.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: And this is going to be a part of that -- this is going to -- if
we can get one, this is going to be a part of that conversation. You`re
not going to solve the immigration problems of this country by attacking
the Constitution. You`re not.

MATTHEWS: Why -- while we have a minute. We just lost Bob Shrum
technically.

But let me ask you a question.

STEELE: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t your party do its bit? Instead of calling for the
removal or self-deportation of 12 million people, focus on teeth, putting
teeth in the next immigration bill.

STEELE: I agree.

MATTHEWS: So, let the Democrats do the liberal stuff. You guys put the
teeth in, and you all do your part and we get an immigration bill.

STEELE: But...

MATTHEWS: How about a work permit, something like that that works?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Look, I was at the -- Donohue`s speech this morning at the
Chamber.

MATTHEWS: He should be for it.

STEELE: And he -- absolutely. He laid out a very comprehensive way
forward.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, that`s what you got to do, get together.

STEELE: Those voices are out there.

MATTHEWS: If we can`t do immigration reform -- you guys play the bad cop,
the other guys play the good cop, we get it done.

Anyway, you may not like that job, but somebody has got to do it.

Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele. And thank you, Bob Shrum, up in -- up
in Boston, I think.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: No, no, I`m out here in sunny Southern California.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Good to have you back, Bob.

SHRUM: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... that weather report.

Up next -- Al Roker, thank you.

Up next: He was already president of the world now, but Bill Clinton has
picked up another title.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."

Yesterday, I told you about a silly concern that`s popped up about Jack Lew
being nominated for secretary of the treasury, his signature, if confirmed,
that -- that`s the signature that would end up at the bottom of our paper
money. Look at that thing. That can`t be.

Anyway, at today`s nomination ceremony, President Obama didn`t let that
topic of his crazy signature slide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had never noticed Jack`s
signature.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And When this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered
rescinding my offer to appoint him.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Jack assures me that he`s going to make at least one letter
legible, in order not to debase our currency, should he be confirmed as
secretary of the treasury.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there is some hope.

Tim Geithner has had a messy signature in his past. But, as you can see on
the bill -- there it is -- it`s completely legible. Looks like Alexander
Hamilton.

Next, AIG has thought better about suing the federal government over the
terms of the 2008 bank bailout, yes, the same taxpayer-funded bailout that
brought them $200 billion and saved them from bankruptcy.

Anyway, before the news of the potential lawsuit, AIG launched an ad
campaign thanking taxpayers for the bailout money. In light of the planned
lawsuit, Conan O`Brien offered an alternative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AIG, we said we were going to turn it around, and we
did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re now leaner and focused on what we do best.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Plus, a profit of more than $22 billion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We turned it around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, America.

NARRATOR: From all of us at AIG, seriously, America, go (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, if good P.R. is a concern for AIG, it`s tough to see how
they even talked about, toyed with the idea of a lawsuit against the same
government that saved them from bankruptcy.

Next, if you`re in Congress and planning to oppose the next round of
funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy, you best not have the title Porker
of the Month on your resume. Unfortunately, it`s too late for Kansas
Republican Lynn Jenkins, who posted this on Facebook yesterday: "I hope
Congress will devise a plan to directly help Sandy victims that will be
offset with spending reductions and be free of wasteful pork barrel
spending."

Well, Jenkins was one of 67 House Republicans who voted against last week`s
Sandy bill, but flash back to April 2009. Jenkins scored the Porker of the
Month Award from the Citizens Against Government Waste.

Well, the group took Jenkins to task for requesting earmarks for her own --
her own constituency, $2 million worth in a 2010 appropriations bill -- $2
million in pork.

Finally, a big win for Bill Clinton, and it`s not political. His daughter,
Chelsea, is already carrying on as a successful person in her own right,
but all the same, Bubba just scored the honor of father of the year from
the National Father`s Day Council. A statement from the organization says,
"With the profound generosity, leadership, and tireless dedication to both
his public office and many philanthropic organizations, President Clinton
exemplifies the attributes we celebrate through the Father of the Year
Award."

I`m sure he`s a great dad, by the way.

Up next: Barney Frank is out of Congress, but he wants back in as a U.S.
senator. Barney frank joins us when we return.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Make it two straight days of gains on Wall Street. The Dow Jones
industrials gained nearly 81 points. The S&P picked up 11, and closed at a
five-year high, and the Nasdaq gained 16.

The Associated Press is reporting that American Express will cut 5,400 jobs
as a result of restructuring the company and it projects a 46 percent drop
in its fourth-quarter net income.

And the Energy Department says gas prices will dip 5 percent this year to
an average of $3.44 a gallon.

That`s it from CNBC -- now back to Chris and HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Barney Frank may now officially be a former congressman, but he`s not done
with Washington, at least for a little while. He`s made it very clear he`s
eying an interim appointment to fill Senator John Kerry`s seat for a few
months until a special election up there in Massachusetts.

Well, take a look at what he said on "MORNING JOE" this past Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MORNING JOE")

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Would you consider possibly being future Senator
Barney Frank if the governor calls you and says fill in for a couple
months?

FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASSACHUSETTS: A month ago, a few weeks ago,
in fact, I said I wasn`t interested. It was kind of like you`re about to
graduate and they said you have got to go to summer school.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANK: But that deal -- that deal now means that February, March, and
April are going to be among the most important months in American
financial...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: So you`re considering it.

FRANK: If I -- yes. In fact, I`m not going to be coy. It`s not anything
I have ever been good at. I have told the governor that I would now like,
frankly, to do that, because I would like to be a part of that. It`s only
a three-month period. I wouldn`t want to do anything more. I don`t want
to run again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the 32-year House of Representatives veteran is the
favorite choice of many progressives. Both MoveOn.org and the Progressive
Change Campaign Committee have begun online petitions to urge Governor
Deval Patrick to pick him.

And "The Boston Globe" backed him in an editorial Monday -- quote -- "More
than almost anyone in the Senate, Frank know where potential savings can be
found. If Frank were to play a role simply in framing the debate over
budget cuts, he`d be making a great contribution, a greater contribution
than most appointed senators make even in far longer terms."

What contribution does he want to make in the four to five months left he
could be in office?

Former Congressman Barney Frank joins us now.

You amaze me, Congressman. I thought what you were going to be doing what
we do in here after you left the Congress, but there you are talking up a
Senate seat.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANK: I expected, Chris -- look, as recently as the last week of
December, people said, would you take the Senate seat? I said, gee, if you
were offered something like that, it would be kind of rude to the people
you have represented to say no. But I hope I`m not offered it. I didn`t
want it.

And I literally changed my mind sitting in the caucus and realizing it`s
going to be equivalent in some ways to the New Deal. The debt limit issue
comes up and the sequester. There are conservatives who are going to try
to use that to cut Social Security, cut Medicare. They`re going to try and
shift the cuts that we have said we`re going to make out of the military,
protect the military, keep that, in fact, even further inflated beyond what
our national security needs are, and make cuts in the environment and
housing and transportation.

And I just believe that I`m -- I`m better prepared, having just done what I
have done, to do this. It`s not that I would be the best interim senator
ever, just that, in these particular circumstances, with very complex
issues as kind of a continuation, I`m there.

And I -- I do believe that it`s very important for us to go after them, for
example, on this phony, irresponsible issue on the debt limit and do
defense, Social Security, and Medicare, the two most successful anti-
poverty programs in American history.

At a time when people talk about, oh, we have too much inequality, the
notion that you would increase inequality by weakening them in these
critical ways is nuts. And -- and in -- further, I mean, I was -- I had
some unhappiness when I heard about Chuck Hagel`s remarks from 14 years ago
which I didn`t remember.

But now the question is, he`s a man who is going to help us withdraw from
Afghanistan and reduce the military. And I`m very encouraged by that. I -
- my one criticism of the president was, he wasn`t going far enough in
reducing the military. I think people now understand that it`s either
keeping troops in NATO or cutting Medicare. And I think the American
people are on the side of Medicare.

MATTHEWS: If Hagel gets confirmed, do you think you could help him do the
job of reforming over there at the Pentagon and saving some money?

FRANK: Yes, I think I could -- well, in the first few months -- I won`t be
there long enough, even if I get it. But the job there is to run
interference for him.

By the way, one of the things that I think -- there`s some basic politics
you understand, Chris. Cutting existing weapons systems, with all the web
of contracts out there, can be hard, but what you can do is not start new
ones. It`s a lot easier to block projects that shouldn`t be done going
forward than to start them.

And I certainly will be there if -- I hope he`s going to continue to
support the notion of an early withdrawal from Afghanistan. Not keep
20,000 troops there forever at a cost of billions and finally I think it`s
time to re-examine a nuclear deterrent which we still maintain basically at
the strength we needed to defeat a fully nuclear armed Soviet Union and the
troops in Europe.

I misspoke when I said pull the troops out of NATO. I want us to stay in
NATO, but let the Western European nations keep the troops in Western
Europe. Let`s have a genuine cooperation, not a very one-sided deal where
America gives frankly all our wealthy allies a free ride.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we can go in the direction we seem to be going. I
mean, you follow this more than I do, the whole idea of drones and avoiding
big commitments of ground troops, but winning the wars by knocking out the
bad guys with rockets going through their windows with their names on them.

Is that a good way for Americans to fight the wars without people but with
high-tech?

FRANK: No, a better way is not to fight wars we shouldn`t fight. I was
just reading today an article, I was a day or two behind in the paper, I
was reading some foreign policy pundit saying, well, America has got to
figure out how can we control the situation in Syria without putting boots
on the ground, i.e. troops.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FRANK: The answer is we can`t control the situation in Syria. I wish we
could. But this notion that it is somehow America`s responsibility, our
opportunity, whatever you want to call it, to intervene in every crisis
everywhere makes no sense. And I`m not an isolationist. I`d like us to be
doing more in international economic cooperation, helping Haiti, fighting
AIDS internationally but there was a gross exaggeration of what we can do.

This is not 1947, `48 --

MATTHEWS: OK.

FRANK: -- when we were the sole survivor.

So the answer is we should not be engaged militarily in nearly as many
places and let me just briefly, Chris, we make this mistake. The military
is great at keeping bad things from happening. But the military can`t make
good things happen. We have too often used our military to try to make
good things happen in societies foreign to us and it never works out.

MATTHEWS: Do you ever think through what we`re talking about when we talk
about countries like Syria, Libya? We say Secretary Clinton does this fine
job of saying, we call on Bashar Assad to compromise with the rebels, to
include them in, or whatever. You`re basically asking the guy to commit
suicide. You`re asking the guy to give up so the rebels can grab, drag him
through the streets, find him in a sewer whatever.

What does it mean when we say to a government we don`t like, we think you
should give up? Why don`t -- don`t we have to have an alternative plan for
these guys?

FRANK: No.

MATTHEWS: OK, Gadhafi, we`ll let you stay at sandals in the Caribbean for
the rest of your life? What are we asking them to do? I heard Assad this
week. He`s not giving up.

FRANK: First of all, Chris, it`s not up to us. I mean, we can express our
opinion. This is part of this problem that it`s somehow America`s
capability and responsibility to resolve these things.

Look, I wish that we could go into a lot of these places and make things
work well. I wish we could bring democracy and peace. But I wish I could
eat more and not gain weight and I have found that when I act in
unrealistic wishes, the results are not so good.

The answer is we can voice our opinion. I guess what we ought to encourage
ask a deal whereby people like that who are in power can leave, not because
they`re good people but because the alternative is them fighting to stay.
But my basic point is that in any case, we haven`t got a lot to say about
it.

And you have this notion -- well, look, here is my disagreement with
President Obama on this one issue because I think he does an
extraordinarily good job and I`m very supportive. He says America is the
indispensable nation. By which they mean we`ve got to be everywhere
there`s trouble.

We can`t do it, we can`t afford it anymore. It`s not our obligation while
wealthier nations are sitting back. And given the resentment of America in
a whole range of other things, we often wind up despite good intentions and
I think we often have, doing more harm than good. I don`t want to be the
indispensable nation. I think there are parts of the world that have got
to learn to dispense with us.

MATTHEWS: Don`t retire. Barney, don`t retire. I love it. You say
whatever I think.

Thank you so much, Congressman Barney Frank, retired so far. We`ll see if
he gets the Senate appointment.

Up next, the Academy Award nominations are up, but there`s a definite
political flavor among many of the nominees. We`ve got the great actor
Jeffrey Wright joining us and director Allen Hughes of the new movie
"Broken City." I just saw it last night.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the two big political races of 2013 are the high profile
governors races in New Jersey and Virginia. For a look at where those
races stand let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.

In Virginia, DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe has a five-point lead, believe it
or not, over the state`s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, 46 percent to 41
percent, according to a new PPP poll. And that`s good news for the Dems.

But in New Jersey, Chris Christie looks unbeatable -- let`s face it -- with
10 months to go. A new Farleigh Dickinson poll has Christie with a three-
to-one lead over the only Democrat in the race so far.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BROKEN CITY", 20TH CENTURY FOX)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was elected mayor, this was a broken city. Tell
me things haven`t changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know who I am?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step by step I have been getting us fixed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s all right. Calm down, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me things haven`t changed. You in my eyes, a
hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you ever do any hunting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

The now movie "Broken City", we just saw a clip from it, uses a political
backdrop to showcase the conflict between a retired policeman played by
Mark Wahlberg and a corrupt mayor who`s abusing his power played by Russell
Crowe. But the mayor meets his match in a crusading police chief played by
our guest tonight, Jeffrey Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better start telling me something, explain to me
(INAUDIBLE) I can see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the name of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were just in the name of it? Paul Andrews is dead.
You think you`re just going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on him and walk away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took a job, chief. I didn`t ask questions. I gave
him pictures and I walked away. Do you think I

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m taking the house down (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Pretty strong stuff.

It`s another movie in which a political setting makes for riveting drama.
Something reflected in today`s Oscar nominations out this morning, led by
movies like "Lincoln," "Argo," and "Zero Dark City."

Jeffrey Wright, who stars in "Broken City", has also appeared in the two
recent James Bonds films, the political drama, "The Ides of March," and the
great baskiado (ph), just in Puerto Rico. We`re all focused on that now.

Also joining me, the director of "Broken City," Allen Hughes.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Jeffrey Wright, thank you so much for joining us. I want to -- you know
it`s interesting, I was watching a Morgan Freeman movie and I noticed that
they don`t have to spell out the ethnicity of players anymore, actors. You
just play the guy. He`s the character and that`s it. It`s fascinating to
me as a guy getting older.

Your thoughts?

JEFFREY WRIGHT, ACTOR, "BROKEN CITY": Thanks for having me, Chris. I
agree with you. I`d frankly like to play with the ambiguities of those
things. For example, I asked Allen if I could change my character`s name
to Herskowitcz (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Why not?

WRIGHT: Maybe he would be a guy maybe adopted by transit cops out of
Staten Islands and, you know, in a very, you know, different way we might
expect. I think, you know, what`s kind of wonderful about New York City,
particularly, is it`s much more complex in terms of racial relations and
demographics than we, at times, give it credit for.

MATTHEWS: Allen Hughes, the director of this great film, let me ask you.
And I love all of the elements. It`s got all of the stuff. It`s got
Russel Crowe and, of course, Wahlberg looks like a cop, which I like, and
the beautiful Zeta-Jones, of course. We`ve got a lot of characters to
this.

Let me ask you about the politics today in our show`s topic which, we`ve
got a president re-elected, the second Democrat in history to be elected
with two majority votes, he and FDR.

Who would have thought? And not just elected in a squeaker, but elected
with majorities, re-elected with majority, African American. What`s this
mean? Does this mean something big or does this mean marginal? Or, how do
you see the potential for the next four years?

ALLEN HUGHES, DIRECTOR, "BROKEN CITY": I think it`s huge. This is huge.
Barack Obama winning the second time, it symbolizes something that`s
greater than just being black or white or anything, you know?

He just embodies where we`re headed right now. It`s a big deal. It`s a
game-changer.

MATTHEWS: What do you want, Jeffrey? Jeffrey, what do you want? What do
you want from this president`s second year to make history?

WRIGHT: To make history. Well --

MATTHEWS: If that`s what you want. That`s what I want.

WRIGHT: You know, I actually had the opportunity to meet President Obama
when he was a state senator. I think it was late 2003, maybe early 2004,
first time I heard him speak. At that time, he said something that stayed
with me. He said the Democratic Party needed to establish its core
principle principles, stop reacting to the other guy, establish its
principles and stick to them.

And I think he has an opportunity, now, this term, to really lead from --
you know, from that perspective, you know, to really define, you know, who
we are not just for the sake of the Democratic Party, but to define who we
are for the sake of the country, but, relative to core values that I think
the American people approved of last November. So I think, you know, it`s
obviously an incredibly volatile time.

There are some pretty volatile issues that are in the air. But he has the
opportunity to show real, skillful leadership at critical times and I think
put his capacity as a communicator, to work, to really do what I think he
really expected to be able to do at the start, and that`s to be able to
unify the country, difficult task. But that`s the challenge before him.

MATTHEWS: Allen, let me talk to you about characters in movies, the
character of life. The president, you -- why do you like politicians as
characters in movies, character in drama?

HUGHES: I just think they`re the most charismatic figures, you know --
there`s criminals, there`s politicians, there`s power, you know. And I
think power draws out the most charismatic characters.

As they say, charisma gets away with everything, you know? So, that`s what
interests me is these types of characters that use their charisma to
manipulate those around them. Even the social politics, when you think of
the way people speak in codes.

In this movie, there`s a scene with Jeffrey at the beginning, with Russell
Crowe, the mayor, and he`s the police chief, and they`re talking about one
thing on the surface, but they`re actually bartering for Jeffrey`s
promotion in the subtext. And that social politics and charismatic
character that is the mayor and you look at even Jeffrey`s character, it`s
very -- you know, it`s interesting.

MATTHEWS: Good luck on the movie. I love this movie.

Allen Hughes, thank you so much for coming on.

HUGHES: Thank you, Chris. A pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Jeffrey, I like all the stuff you do, especially the Bond. They
love you in Puerto Rico. Thank you.

The movie is called "Broken City." It`s got all the big characters, the
big stories. Jeffrey Wright and Allen Hughes.

When we return, let me finish with Joe Biden`s common sense approach to gun
safety and I think he`s using it.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this one issue. Joe Biden is an
ordinary fella in many ways. He`s a good liberal, but he`s also somebody
you`d likely meet on a golf course or possibly to bowling alley.

In other words, he wouldn`t be out of place in a group of Pennsylvania deer
hunters. If you don`t believe me, go see the movie, "Deer Hunter." It`s a
classic.

So I`m confident that his Senate proposals on universal background checks,
closing the gun show loophole, gun safety, and doing something about those
high-capacity gun clips, and whatever else he puts forth, it`s going to be
something reasonable hunters and Second Amendment people will find
sensible.

I`m not big on interest groups. I want to democratize the way we make laws
in this country. The more people have a say in writing the law, the better
the law. The fewer the people, the worse the law. Big corporations, for
example, shouldn`t write corporate tax law. And gun owners shouldn`t be
the only people involved in gun law.

Anybody can be shot by a gun, killed by a gun and they all ought to have a
say. And that, ladies and gentlemen, as Joe Biden would say, includes all
of us -- all of us should make gun law, not just the gun people.

So, let`s go at it and please don`t, please don`t lose interest. This is a
test of strength. Keep your grip on this gun safety issue, because the
other side is still into keeping theirs, you know, with their cold, dead
hands.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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