updated 1/15/2013 5:32:01 PM ET 2013-01-15T22:32:01

HARDBALL
January 14, 2013

Guests: Jackie Speier, Ted Johnson, Marc Malkin

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Powell, right in the kisser!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Yesterday, a day of infamy for the
Republican Party. General Colin Powell told the vivid, nasty truth. He
blasted his party, especially its leaders, for engaging in what he called
flagrant race-baiting.

Many of his points have been made on HARDBALL, the racist language about
the president of the United States "shucking and jiving," about him being
lazy, the unending background assault of the birthers saying the
president`s not legitimate, not even an authentic American.

Then the general did (ph) what I and others have been pounding for months,
this brutal attempt at voter suppression, this multi-state Republican plan
to shrink black electoral strength by slamming down on the chance to vote.

What Colin Powell said yesterday is going right to the heart of the
Republican intolerance, made more powerful by the fact that the indictment
has now been made by this country`s most celebrated African-American
Republican.

Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington
Post" and an MSNBC contributor. Alex Wagner is the host of "NOW," the
celebrated program, with her noontime greatness coming at us every day of
the week.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s listen to General Powell. I always have to have a
lighter note because this is pretty tough stuff. Here`s General Powell on
"MEET THE PRESS" yesterday in a historic occasion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: There`s also a dark -- a dark vein
of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? What I
mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.

How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the
president is "shucking and jiving," that`s a racial-era slave term. When I
see another former governor, after the president`s first debate where he
didn`t do very well, says that the president was "lazy." He didn`t say he
was slow, he was tired, he didn`t do well. He said he was lazy.

Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans. But to those of us who
are African-Americans, the second word is "shiftless," and then there`s a
third word that goes along with it. Birther -- the whole birth movement --
why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within
the party?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The great thing about Colin Powell, besides being a great man,
he has a great sense of history.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: He does have...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: ... a sense of history. Look, you know, the thing was, he went
there. David didn`t take him there, he volunteered to go there, to call
out the Republican Party as the senior African-American figure in the
Republican Party, call them out on this coded racial language, this not so
coded racial language.

It was kind of a shot across the bow, I think, and kind of planted a flag
for moderate Republicans to say, Hey, you know, he`s right. We really do
need to reshape the party and reshape its message if we hope to survive.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s very important what you pointed out, that he
brought this up. David Gregory asked him a lot of other things about --
important things, but not (INAUDIBLE) news-making (ph). But I think he
probably made it -- will he lead on this? Can he lead? Does he have the
traction with the party to move people like Christie to speak out, the more
moderate forces in the party?

ROBINSON: Well, he certainly -- he provides a certain amount of cover, I
think, for others. Now, he hasn`t been a sort of inside baseball political
figure, you know.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: He`s not the kind of guy who`s going to then pick up the phone
and make 50 phone calls to people, Back me up here.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: But -- but it was so public and so purposeful that I think it`s
a moment that will be remembered when Colin Powell kind of called the party
out and...

MATTHEWS: So well said.

ROBINSON: ... and it`s -- it`s something that people are going to have to
answer for.

MATTHEWS: Well, I called it a day of infamy, Alex. And here`s my point.
It bugs me as a white guy, to be blunt about it. I think it`s an
embarrassment to white people, as well as a travesty in our country
generally, that people engage in this crap at this point in our history,
when we do have an African-American president and ought to be proud of the
damn fact, instead of going in the other direction.

And what I can`t believe is the people I talk to say, What are you talking
about, Matthews? We`re not engaging in race-baiting here. We`re not --
these terms -- you`re hearing something here.

And that`s what really bugs me about people that don`t want to hear, for
some sick reason, don`t want to hear what`s going on here. And thank God,
Colin Powell finally came out and called out these guys like Reince
Priebus, the head of the party. And he didn`t call him by name. He was a
gentleman, I might say, although I don`t know why he was. I`d have called
out Sarah Palin. I`d have called out Sununu. These are names of people
that use that rotten language.

ALEX WAGNER, HOST, MSNBC "NOW": Well, and the list goes on, right, Chris?
I mean, Rand Paul...

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump!

WAGNER: Rand Paul doesn`t support the Voting Rights Act. Haley Barbour,
who is a de facto leader of the Republican Party, has voiced support for
white citizens councils. I mean, you`re talking about a litany of -- these
aren`t even dog whistles, at this point. This is incredibly racially
loaded language. And after Sarah Palin made the "shucking and jiving"
comments, she doubled down on them.

I mean, I guess the question is, is this a moment for the Republican Party?
Is this an inflection point? Do they say, Hey, we lost the black vote by
93 percent, we`re losing Hispanics by 73 percent, we`re losing Asian-
Americans by 71 percent -- do they learn these lessons? Is there any...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... their lesson, unfortunately, Alex -- their lesson is, Let`s
suppress that vote we can`t get.

Here`s General Powell -- want to hear a lot of General Powell on the show
tonight. Here`s General Powell getting to that point of voter suppression,
which was organized in, like, three dozen states by the Republican Party to
stop blacks from being able to vote the way they normally vote. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very
hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed. The
country is changing demographically. And if the Republican Party does not
change along with that demographic, they`re going to be in trouble.

And so when we see that in one more generation, the minorities of America -
- African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans -- will be the
majority of the country, you can`t go around saying, We don`t want to have
a solid immigration policy. We`re going to dismiss the 47 percent. We are
going to make it hard for these minorities to vote, as they did in the last
election.

What did that produce? The court struck most of that down. And most
importantly, it caused people to turn out and stand in line because these
Republicans are trying to keep us from voting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Gene, the leaders, is what he talked about. He wants the
leaders to lead the party and really lead it down the right path. And you
think about Speaker Boehner, when he publicly says, I can`t corral -- I
can`t stop the birthers from talking the way they talk, that`s just their
opinion, and you hear people like John Sununu, who I thought was a
heavyweight Republican for years, using terms like, Why doesn`t the
president learn how to be an American? It`s not just the one line, it`s
lots of lines!

ROBINSON: And you`re absolutely right because the leadership of the
Republican Party, as most people see it, is the leadership in Congress.
It`s John Boehner and Mitch McConnell...

MATTHEWS: And Priebus.

ROBINSON: ... right, Reince Priebus. And if those people aren`t realizing
the demographic realities, aren`t realizing that the party has to be a big
tent party if it`s ever going to win national elections again, then where -
- where goeth the GOP? I mean...

MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re laughing because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The weird thing is you`re turning off black votes, if people
vote, but you`re also turning out the electorate, Alex. I mean, the giddy
part of this is, as I once said a long time ago, Frank Rizzo in Philly, who
wasn`t too popular among African-Americans, was the greatest voter
registrar in my city`s history because people were not going to be talked
out of voting. They`re were not going to be talked into not voting. They
showed up.

Look at the lines! And here`s General Powell saying it caused people to
turn out and stand in line because these Republicans were trying to keep us
from voting. It had an adverse affect on their attempt to shut down the
vote, Alex.

WAGNER: Oh, sorry, I thought you were going to play the clip. No, in
terms of this being -- it`s not just bad for Republicans, it`s great for
Democrats.

But at the end of the day, Chris, I mean, maybe I`m too romantic about
this, but I really do believe in the importance of a two-party system. And
when we -- the root of this, we know this, is gerrymandering. It`s
redistricting. It`s because they don`t have to play ball. And if they can
-- and -- and you now have a Republican Party that is basically held
hostage by a small minority that really only cares about getting primaried
and about their own districts.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WAGNER: When they are no longer putting the party as a number one
priority, when that is no longer a consideration, to say nothing of the
actual country, I mean, then you have a real crisis.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WAGNER: And I have long maintained inviting the Tea Party in, inviting in
what is increasingly a radical faction of conservatives to the tent of the
Republican Party -- I don`t know how you reconcile that at the end of the
day. There has...

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s General Powell...

WAGNER: There has got to be a schism at some point.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Here`s General Powell saying the party has to fix itself
before it worries about putting up an electable candidate. He says, Don`t
think about candidates, think about message. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Everybody wants to talk about who`s going to be the candidate?
You better think first about what`s the party you`re actually going to
represent. If it`s just going to represent the far right wing of the
political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty.

I`m a moderate. I`m still a Republican. That`s how I was raised. And
until I voted for Mr. Obama twice, I voted for seven straight Republican
presidents.

ROBINSON: That`s absolutely right. I mean, if the Republican Party is
going to be a fringe party, then it marginalizes itself and becomes less
relevant to the discourse. Only obstructionist is what the party is
seeking...

MATTHEWS: Well, what is their plan?

ROBINSON: I don`t know, but it`s a -- it`s a shame because -- as someone
who believes in progressive ideas, who wants to see them flourish and
develop, I realize that not having a smart, engaged conservative party,
Republican Party, makes progressives lazy, frankly, and unimaginative, and
it`s bad for the country.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think I made a good point. I made it last week, something
like it. Don`t we all like to go into the booth knowing we have an option
play, that if the Democrats have been blowing it for too many times, we
give the Republicans a shot, or the other way around, you can actually
choose?

WAGNER: It`s important...

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s General Powell on the Republican -- here is the
clip you thought I`d be playing. Here he is talking about the Republicans`
image problem. You respond to this, Alex. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: The party has gathered unto itself a reputation that it is the
party of the rich, it is the party of lower taxes. But there are a lot of
people who are lower down the food chain, the economic chain, who are also
paying lots of taxes relative to their income, and they need help.

We need more education work being done in this country. We need a solid
immigration policy. We have to look at climate change. There are a lot of
things that the American people are expecting, and the Republican Party, as
they get ready for the next election really has to focus on some of these
issues and not ignore them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Chris, what`s sad to me about that is that by virtue of mentioning
the phrase "climate change," it`s almost like Colin Powell has kicked
himself out of the Republican Party. I mean, this party used to play ball
on that issue. Now they`re denying the actual science behind it. I mean,
they have swung so far right.

And my question after all of this, after that interview, which was
incendiary and was very much a line in the sand, as you pointed out, for
the GOP...

MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s history-making.

WAGNER: ... when will the Republican Party admit they have a problem?
Because every time something like this happens, there is a doubling down,
there is a defense, there is an attack on the messenger. There is a
problem here. The party is in crisis and someone has got to bring it
together.

MATTHEWS: It`s one of those magic moments, when Martin Luther King was
jailed back in `60 and Kennedy made the call to Mrs. King, and Nixon said,
I`m not going to do it, and Jackie Robinson left the trade (ph), saying,
This guy doesn`t get it.

ROBINSON: This is a moment that we`re going to remember, I think, and the
Republican Party really should pay attention. It really should.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re making the noise here. We`re trying to shake them
up. Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson, and thank you, Alex Wagner.

Coming up: President Obama warns Republicans they won`t get ransom for
agreeing not to crash the economy. He`s talking tough ahead of the next
big fight with Congress over the debt ceiling.

Plus, the president also said Vice President Biden has presented him with a
list of common sense steps to prevent gun violence. But the biggest
question is how much of it the administration can actually get passed
through the Congress.

And watching last night`s Golden Globes, one thing was clear to me.
America once again feels good about itself. We`ve got a new sense of
optimism, and the movies show it.

And the latest attack on science by a Republican member of the House
Science Committee. What a strange name for that crowd. That`s in the
"Sideshow" tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re one week away from President Obama`s second inaugural, and
all this week, we`re going to be looking back at great inaugural moments
from the past. Back in 1993, the 46-year-old Bill Clinton took the oath of
office for the first time. He became the first Baby Boomer in the White
House and told the country that change is not something to fear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When our founders boldly
declared America`s independence to the world and our purposes to the
Almighty, they knew that America to endure would have to change, not change
for change`s sake, but change to preserve America`s ideals, life, liberty,
the pursuit of happiness. Though we march to the music of our time, our
mission is timeless. Each generation of Americans must define what it
means to be an American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Bill Clinton, who had a history of being long-winded, of
course, went on to deliver what aides said was the third shortest inaugural
address in American history.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In his final press conference of his
first presidential term this morning, President Obama went on offense,
warning Republicans not to play politics with the debt ceiling. Here`s
some of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Raising the debt ceiling
does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for
spending that Congress has already committed to.

If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America`s bills on time, Social
Security checks and veterans` benefits will be delayed. We might not be
able to pay our troops or honor our contracts with small business owners.
Markets could go haywire. Interest rates would spike for anybody who
borrows money, every home owner with a mortgage. It would be a self-
inflicted wound on the economy.

So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of
America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It`s absurd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the president`s got to get past the debt ceiling in order
to achieve his second term agenda, but how does he do it when some
Republicans are threatening government shutdown?

Chuck Todd`s NBC`s chief White House correspondent and political director,
and Howard Fineman is the editorial director of the HuffingtonPost, as well
as an MSNBC political analyst.

Chuck, you know, I get the sense -- I was listening to the late General
Schwarzkopf there, the man shaping the battlefield. He`s basically saying,
If this government gets shut down and we`re not paying our bills, it is a
decision by the Republican-led House of Representatives. He wants the
story played that well -- played that way.

Will the press or can it objectively say that if the government shuts down,
it`s the Republicans, simply their doing?

CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Well, when it
comes to the debt ceiling...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: ... if we default -- don`t forget, there`s two -- there`s two
separate questions here, right? One -- and there`s two separate ideas of -
- is there something to negotiate. One is debt ceiling, and what the
president was saying -- there`s no discussion on that.

On the government shutdown, there seemed to be a different tone from the
president. I`ll get to that in a minute. But on debt ceiling, you`re
absolutely right. When you take that sentence, what he was trying to say,
because he`s not talking about having plan B`s in his back pocket, things
like minting coins, 14th Amendment, which Senate Democrats are begging him
to do.

He`s saying, No, if we default -- he wants to make it clear then
Republicans will have decided not to send out Social Security checks, not
to pay our military, not to do these things.

So you`re right, he`s hoping that the political blame -- now, the irony
here, Chris, is senior Republican leaders, they agree with the president on
that. They know that that`s a politically bad place for them to be.

The question is, it`s going to shift to the government funding and shutdown
going forward. And there, talking to aides, they get -- that`s -- that`s
up for negotiation. But they want it separated from debt ceiling, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about this debt ceiling thing, Howard. Do you
think the press objectively can report the way the president tried to sell
it, which is if this government can`t pay its debts, refuses to pay it
because of the debt ceiling, is that a Republican decision, the way -- or
is it going to be played conflict in Washington, gridlock, both parties to
blame?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, the president said in the press conference, I think people will blame
all of Washington. But he didn`t mean it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And he doesn`t believe it. He thinks, and I think rightly thinks,
that the political onus will be on the Republicans. The president said we
aren`t a deadbeat nation, which is one of many great quotes in that press
conference.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I have always liked that word deadbeat.

FINEMAN: We aren`t a deadbeat nation. And he will say that the
Republicans will turn us into a deadbeat nation if they do what they`re
threatening to do on the debt ceiling.

MATTHEWS: Did anybody else -- an objective question. If there`s a
different answer, I will accept it.

Did the Democrats ever play the game of shutting -- of not paying the bills
of the United States government as a tactic?

FINEMAN: The Democrats, including the president when he was a senator,
voted against raising the debt ceiling.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Not all, not enough did.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Yes, some Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: But not to this extent and not in a party-wide thing.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: And this is important for the president for a couple reasons.
One of them is his second term agenda, which we`re looking at the
challenges of in a Huffington Post series called "The Road Forward."

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: If he wants to go forward, if he wants to complete the job -- if
he wants to complete the job on health care and on bank regulation and on
immigration and on a whole host of things, he`s got to beat the Republicans
politically.

He`s got to beat them on spending, and he`s got to back them into a corner
politically. He`s got a chance to be more consequential in a second term.
This is unusual...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. What`s his one-two-three agenda?

FINEMAN: Well, his one-two-three agenda right now is gun control,
immigration reform, and number one is what Chuck was drilling -- grilling
him on today, which is his strategy on beating the Republicans on debt and
spending.

MATTHEWS: OK. So it`s a fiscal victory.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: A fiscal victory and then immigration and gun control.

MATTHEWS: Is that how you see it, one, two, three, Chuck?

TODD: But he can`t do anything until the budget showdowns are over.

FINEMAN: Right.

TODD: And they can`t be piecemeal. That`s the thing. You`re not going to
get immigration, you`re not going to get guns.

I question whether guns ultimately is going to get done right now. The
president himself seems to believe if public opinion is not with him to get
it done, then he`s not -- he`s going to -- not going to be able to do that
with Congress. And going all the way, I think that`s the second question.

Look, I think the most consequential issue he has to deal with after this
budget shutdown is simply implementing Obamacare, implementing his health
care plan.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Making it work.

TODD: And that is -- that`s right. That is going to define his legacy
more so than I think any of these other...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: But wait a minute, Chuck. I think you`re right. A lot of
Obamacare is administrative. It is just the grinding details of
administrative government.

TODD: Building it. Building it essentially.

FINEMAN: But the other thing is the Republicans are going to try to attack
Medicaid, Chris, and Medicare, but Medicaid in particular.

If they drain and slash funding for Medicaid in the regular budget
negotiations that Chuck is talking about, that will make implementing
Obamacare that much harder because a lot of the money to expand coverage
for the uninsured comes from Medicaid.

MATTHEWS: Right. OK. OK. I think immigration is my biggie for this
year.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: That`s the legacy thing for him.

TODD: That`s easy to do.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think so, too. I have never understood why it`s so hard to do
immigration.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: But it is now easy to do. Now it`s easy. No, that`s right. Now
it`s easy.

FINEMAN: Well, easier, easier.

TODD: Look, the reason -- deals don`t get done in Washington unless there
is political benefit for both sides.

MATTHEWS: Right.

TODD: And on immigration, Republicans know they have to get it done. It
will get done. That`s the easiest thing on the president`s agenda.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let them put the teeth in it, get the issue off their back
where they want it off their back, so they can start making -- building
constituency among Latinos.

Anyway, I want to get to this hot question of gender. This is the the
president`s problem, it seems to me. President Obama fought back on the
recent criticism of being surrounded by men in his inner circle and top
Cabinet posts. Let`s listen to his defense. I don`t think it was very
strong, but here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you think about my first
four years, the person who probably had the most influence on my foreign
policy was a woman. The people who were in charge of moving forward my
most important domestic initiative, health care, were women. The person in
charge of our Homeland Security was a woman. My two appointments to the
Supreme Court were women. And 50 percent of my White House staff were
women.

So I think people should expect that that record will be built upon during
the next four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, but listening to Andrea`s -- Andrea Mitchell`s reporting
on this, and I have been following it, and I look at the top four jobs,
State, Treasury, Defense and A.G., attorney general, and chief of staff,
those top five jobs altogether, they`re all going to white guys, one --
four white guys, one black guy.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Right now, we`re having three white guys debate this. Let`s be
self-aware here. Let`s just be self-aware. That`s all.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I can`t change myself as quickly as the topics change, but go
ahead, Chuck, you wise guy.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Wait, wait, wait. The president said today, don`t judge me,
let`s see what else I do.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: That made me wonder if the chief of staff thing is a done deal.

TODD: I thought the same thing, Howard.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Chuck might know more than I do.

TODD: No, I...

FINEMAN: If there`s a woman that he could bring in for chief of staff --
and I can think of a couple really good ones.

TODD: Sure.

FINEMAN: One of them is Cecilia Munoz, who is the head of the Domestic
Policy Council, who I am incredibly...

MATTHEWS: Would she fit the bill?

FINEMAN: ... impressed with.

MATTHEWS: Would she fit the bill that he wants?

FINEMAN: Yes. I think she knows how to move the paper and make decisions.
Yes.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Chuck, from over at the White House? Do you
think he has somebody comfortable with naming as chief of staff who is not
a white male, if you will?

TODD: No, I think he wants to name somebody he`s comfortable with, period,
and I think when you look at the two people he`s considering, they Ron
Klain and Denis McDonough, they both are people he knows very well, Denis
really comfortable with, somebody he spends a lot -- and I think ultimately
in your chief of staff, you better be careful if you`re playing too much --
worrying too much about your outside politics.

You could make a bad pick at chief of staff and, for instance, the
president still feels as if he got talked into Bill Daley, and that was
never the perfect fit on that front.

But to go back to this issue of the diversity thing, I think that the White
House is being held -- they brought this higher standard on themselves when
they smacked around Mitt Romney on binders full of women and the issues
that they made in their campaign.

MATTHEWS: Right.

TODD: This bothers them, this line of attack, it bothers the president,
but that`s why it`s coming. They sort of raised the bar, if you will.

MATTHEWS: We can always do better here, Chuck, in response to your shot at
me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, he can always do better in terms of diversity.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But you will notice that you two guys got second billing
tonight.

TODD: I know.

MATTHEWS: You`re in B block tonight, not A block.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: But I`m saying we have to be self-aware, right? We`re going to get
hit.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I am always self-aware, if you knew how much I do care about
this, and we all do.

Anyway, up next, Donald Trump`s latest conspiracy theory about the Obama
administration.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

Thank you, Howard.

FINEMAN: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

The House Science Committee strikes again. The latest anti-science move
from the Republican-led committee comes from Georgia Congressman Paul
Broun. You might know him best from this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I have come to understand all this stuff I
was talking about, evolution, embryology, Big Bang Theory, all that is lies
straight from the pit of hell.

There are a lot of scientific data that I have found out as a scientist
that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don`t believe that
the Earth is but about 9,000 years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Don`t know much about biology.

Anyway, Broun was one of the Republicans two voted against funding for
Hurricane Sandy relief and he hasn`t given up with the next round of
funding being put up for a vote later this week. Anyway, he`s proposed
amendments to the bill that would remove funding for research on preventing
future flooding for oil spill disaster, preventing them, and an improved
weather forecasting program. No surprise Broun is not a believer in
climate change either.

Next, on Friday, I told you about the state lawmakers in Wyoming who want
to block any new federal gun law from being enforced. Well, now it`s Texas
that`s up to it. State Representative Steve Toth is proposing legislation
down there in Austin would make it against the law to enforce federal bans
on ammunition or assault weapons in the Lone Star State. Nullification
back again. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE TOTH (R), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This is a hardened state.
This isn`t a good place for a criminal to show up and start shooting. We
want to make sure that this legislation protects the Second Amendment gun
rights and the 10th Amendment, which is state sovereignty rights of Texans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Yahoo.

Anyway, when we start hearing things like state sovereignty, it`s like that
old pre-Civil War talk of nullification.

Next, former Senator Jim DeMint has called Obamacare, specifically the
individual mandate, inconsistent with liberty. Well, DeMint retired from
the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
The group Just released this year`s index of economic freedom. And guess
what the top 10 freest economies on the list in common? Well, they have
government-run health care.

Some examples, Hong Kong at number one has a publicly run system with most
hospitals owned by the government. In Australia, number three on the list,
everyone is eligible for a government-run health care provider. In Chile,
number seven on the list, everyone has to maintain, has to maintain a
health savings account to cover their own costs. And the government helps
low-income individuals maintain the funds.

After all, the Heritage Foundation promoted the idea of a mandate, an
individual mandate, way back in the 1980s. Of course, that was before
Obama chose to support it, which meant they couldn`t support it anymore.

Finally, guess who sees a secretive side to Jack Lew, President Obama`s
pick for secretary of the treasury, his signature, to be precise?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: You know, I
really actually do analyze handwriting. I think you can tell a lot about a
person by their handwriting, and his handwriting is not quite as bad as
people think.

It`s extremely secretive. It shows that he`s a very, very secretive
person, unbelievably secretive, and which in itself is interesting.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, the new expert at documentation.

Anyway, no, actually, secretive is what you would call right-wingers who
refuse to share who has given them money. And that`s the big secret in
this country. Who is paying for these right-wing campaigns?

Anyway, up next, one month after Newtown, Vice President Joe Biden has made
his list to help prevent gun violence, but what can the president actually
get passed? That`s the big one coming up, gun control, gun safety.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

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And Apple continues to lose ground as iPhone 5 sales fail to impress, also
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That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If, in fact, and I believe this is true, everybody across party
lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in
Newtown, then we`re going to have to vote based on what we think is best.
We`re going to have to come up with answers that set politics aside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s been one month since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary
School. And today President Obama said he has got a set of proposals give
to him just today apparently from Vice President Biden from his task force
on gun control.

In his press conference this morning, the president signaled what may be
coming in their recommendations and how they may go into effect. Let`s
watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What you can count on is, is that the things that I have said in
the past -- the belief that we have to have stronger background checks,
that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips
with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn`t have them, an
assault weapons ban that is meaningful, that those are things I continue to
believe make sense.

My understanding is the vice president`s going to provide a range of steps
we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them will require legislation,
some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I will be
reviewing those today, and as I said, I will speak in more detail to what
we`re going to go ahead and propose later in the week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California was among a
group of House Democrats who met with Vice President Biden today. She
herself is a shooting victim. And David Corn is Washington bureau chief
for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: My pleasure, Chris.

MATTHEWS: What can you tell us on the record tonight about what might be
in the vice president`s package of proposals?

SPEIER: I think what you heard the president say will certainly be in that
package.

He also -- Vice President Biden indicated that there were some 19 areas
that he was able to identify that the president could take action on
through executive order. He didn`t go into detail on what they might be,
but suffice it to say that there will be some considered that will not
require congressional action. The vice president did a great job of
meeting with 270 people representing every imaginable interest on this
issue.

And I think it`s the most comprehensive look at guns in probably a
generation coming from the White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, you represent an area of the country out on the coast, just
south of San Francisco, and more liberal than the rest of the country. But
in this big heartland of our country, right really in the middle, it`s so
pro-gun rights. What do you think has the best chance of passing the
Congress in both Houses, Republican and Democrat?

SPEIER: I think a universal background check is absolutely imperative.
Forty percent of the guns that are purchased in this country right now do
not go through that background check, either because they`re at local gun
shows or personal sales, private sales.

So the fact that even that database we have does not include --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SPEIER: -- persons who are on the terror watch list or persons who are
fugitives from the law or who are stalkers, I think it`s given us all
reason to pause to think what are we doing here? At the very least we have
to have a comprehensive background check.

MATTHEWS: David, studying in politics in the way you study it, what`s the
best bet? I think it is background checks.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And I think it has more influence than, say, the high magazines,
the high capacity magazines, because it really does keep bad people away
from the guns, potentially.

CORN: Yes, if you can do it because, you know, just getting the data
available if you want to include people with mental difficulties and
criminal checks, I mean, the NRA has opposed this time and time again.
They don`t want a database because they don`t want these background checks.
I mean --

MATTHEWS: Why are they against them?

CORN: Because they don`t want any limitations on people to buy guns,
including people who shouldn`t be able to buy guns. I mean, 46 percent, as
the congresswoman just said, don`t -- can buy guns without having to go
through a background check because they go to gun shows, they buy online,
or they buy from the buddy down the street or some guy they met in the bar
five minutes ago.

And the NRA has consistently fought against doing anything about those sort
of gun sales. Now, I think this is --

MATTHEWS: Why don`t they sell guns in bars? I mean, there`s a point where
any reasonable person says, no, don`t sell guns in bar rooms, tap rooms.

CORN: A big issue that the congresswoman and the vice president and
everyone has to take into account, if you look back in `94 when Bill
Clinton got the ban on assault weapons through, he did that as part of a
big crime bill with a lot of stuff the conservatives wanted, like expanding
the death penalty. You know, if you do it bit by bit, or if it`s a bill
just about gun safety or gun violence prevention, it may be harder to get
through.

MATTHEWS: But let me ask the congresswoman, we have her now. Do you think
we can get a government -- something through the Congress that doesn`t get
encased in some big right center left package which includes some things
liberals won`t like?

SPEIER: Well, I think anything that does pass is going to have to have
something appealing to the right and to the left. And certainly, the
interests of those who are hunters in terms of making sure that the
conservation dollars are there so that there`s plenty of ducks to be shot
at has appeal as well.

So I think we`ve got to make very clear to the American people, though,
we`re not talking about taking guns away from anyone. The Second Amendment
is very clear. The Heller Supreme Court decision made it very clear.
We`re not talking about those who are hunters and who use it for recreation
or those who keep them in their homes for personal safety.

We`re talking about these guns that massively destroy people and that are
assault weapons for military action.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Do you think we can do it?

SPEIER: Well --

CORN: I hope so. I hope -- you know, Bill Clinton was smart last time.
He surrounded himself with cops and public safety advocates and built a big
coalition, another type that the congresswoman would want to be part of.
You got to keep the pressure on and make this really a neighborhood issue
with people other than just the people who care about gun control leading
the charge.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you. My wife started in politics,
actually ended in politics working for Pete McCloskey, who has become more
liberal than any of us at this table.

SPEIER: That`s right. A great friend.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Congresswoman.

Up next, if you watched last night`s Golden Globe Awards, you might have
come away with a renewed feeling of optimism about this country -- even
though our system may be messy, it does work. And that`s ahead. The
movies are making us look good.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In 1977, Jimmy Carter took the oath of office to become the 39th
president and with trust in government at a low point after Watergate and
the Vietnam War, the new president took a symbolic step that changed that
image. After he was sworn in and delivered his inaugural address, Carter
and wife Rosalynn walked the entire inaugural parade route from along
Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, all the way down to the White House.
He was the first president in history to do so.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Golden Globe goes to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Game Change."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Game Change."

JAY ROACH, "GAME CHANGE" DIRECTOR: Thank you, Hollywood foreign press, so
much. I want to thank you for encouraging people to talk more about
politics. It`s a great year for that obviously and all the films.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was the director of "Game Change," Jay Roach, pointing out that many
of this year`s Golden Globe nominees had a common denominator, they got us
talking about politics.

Well, Ben Affleck won for the film, "Argo", about the rescue of six
Americans who fled the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. He thanked the CIA
agent on whom the story was based.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, BEST DIRECTOR, "ARGO": Really this award is about Tony
Mendez, you saw him up here earlier. He`s an American hero. He represents
the clandestine service and the foreign service that is making sacrifices
on behalf of Americans every day. The troops serving overseas, I want to
thank them very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The movie "Lincoln", of course, about the politics of passing
the amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment, to end slavery in the United
States was introduced by President Bill Clinton who could empathize with
the 16th president.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A tough fight to push a bill
through a bitterly divided House of Representatives. Winning it required
the president to make a lot of unsavory deals that lot of unsavory deals.
They had nothing to do with the big issue. I wouldn`t know anything about
that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Well, Golden Globes` hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Faye had their
own reaction to the President Clinton`s special appearance. Here they go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, GOLDEN GLOBES HOST: What an exciting special guest. That was
Hillary Clinton`s husband.

TINA FEY, GOLDEN GLOBES HOST: That was Bill Clinton.

POEHLER: That was.

FEY: That was Bill Rodham Clinton.

POEHLER: That`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, many of the movies nominated reflected an America that
feels good about itself because this movies showed our system may be messy,
but most of the time, it works.

Ted Johnson is "Variety" magazine`s politics editor and Marc Malkin is "E
Online" senior editor.

Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us tonight.

I want to talk about -- I love themes, I love award shows. I think the
Golden Globe is always the best because you`re allowed to drink, which is
always an impressive fact of this evening. And inevitably, somebody gives
a long winded, almost inexplicable speech. This years, it was Jodie
Foster. Last time, I remember it was Warren Beatty talking about how these
other guys, like Jack Nicholson, and the other guy, Clint Eastwood, could
keep going so late in life.

Your thoughts, what was that speech about by Jodie Foster, Ted?

TED JOHNSON, VARIETY MAGAZINE: I do think it was coming out. I think she
made it kind of pretty clear.

MATTHEWS: Is that what it was? OK.

JOHNSON: Yes, I think it was coming out. But it was also a lot of talk
about why she`s really guarded her privacy for so long.

MATTHEWS: That`s a good argument.

JOHNSON: It was almost offensive.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s an argument we`ll have the rest of our lives. Privacy
versus telling everybody who you are, I`m sort of with the privacy crowd.
I like that part.

But, look, let me ask you about this political theme. I did notice, you
used to say that once you did a movie about politics or baseball, it died.
There was a theory we may spend a lot of time doing those things, but they
don`t work in the movies. What`s changed? You first, Ted.

JOHNSON: I think these movies are much better marketed. Just take a movie
like "Lincoln," which is over $100 million at the box office, the build up
for this movie started right after the election when people were really
kind of euphoric about what had just occurred. And the DreamWorks, which
did this movie, they got a screening at the White House. They got
screening up at the senate. They got Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid to co-
host the screening.

And as you now see, they now have Bill Clinton`s endorsement.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I like to go back to that, Joan, it looks to me -- no, not
Joan, who else is joining me? Marc, thank you, Marc.

There was this part of the hype by Spielberg to have Bill Clinton there
last night. Is this part of a marketing campaign to win the Oscar?

MARC MALKIN, E! NEWS: Listen, I definitely think it`s part of the campaign
to win the Oscar. If you`re going to have a lobbyist lobbying for you to
win the Oscar, who better than Bill Clinton. This is a guy who could have
came on and introduced "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty."

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MALKIN: But no, he chose "Lincoln".

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about Argo, because it won last night. It beat out
"Lincoln" for drama. Ted, I loved "Argo." And let me tell you, I`m going
to talk about it later on the show tonight. I`ve only been to a couple
movies in my life where people applaud like mad. It`s after all a movie.
Who are you applauding, the projectionist? I don`t know you`re applauding.

But you`re applauding because you want to applaud. They did it at the end
of this movie. He was such a thrilling example with American -- with a
can-do ability we have seemed to have lost. The other time was years with
"Lost Horizon" in repertory theater, the Frank Capra movie, and that`s
about Nirvana, basically. That`s about Shangri-La. You can`t beat that
story.

But this time, what is it about American? Why about the foreign press,
they just jumped on this movie and chose it over "Lincoln"?

JOHNSON: Well, I have to say, I think having Ben Affleck there helped the
Hollywood Foreign Press Association really does tend to favor star-driven
projects if you look back at their history. But I also think that the time
has come. You know, we`ve gone through this period where the Academy, the
Motion Picture Academy, has awarded some pretty hard-hitting pictures.
"Hurt Locker" being an example.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOHNSON: They really looked at the Iraq war.

But I think this is a kind of new patriotism. It`s not as jingoistic as
maybe "Top Gun" was.

MATTHEWS: It`s small country thinking. It`s we can do it, too. We`re not
the best shot, but we can pull this off.

Marc, that`s my sense. The great thing about the escapade, it was the good
guys. It was a caper movie, "Argo". But it was good guys, not trying to
steal a diamond, but get our people home. That`s what I like about it.

MALKIN: Yes. And what I loved about it, you didn`t know this story. No
one knew it. So to unearth this story and tell it -- well, I didn`t.
Sorry. You didn`t -- you couldn`t write this stuff for the movies, it was
so bizarre.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the fun of "Zero Dark Thirty." It`s
not fun. You talk to Ted about a dark movie. That`s -- I haven`t seen it
yet. I actually loved most of the movies I`ve seen this year.

Why are movies getting so darn good again? I mean, movies -- like that
grey one I just saw, what`s it called, "Silver Lining Playbook." That`s an
amazing book, movie.

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I think this was a really great year for the
movies. Last week, we were talking about some of the Oscar snubs, people
who didn`t get nominated in certain categories, like Kathryn Bigelow for
"Zero Dark Thirty".

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JOHNSON: You can analyze that to death, but it may come to the point that
there`s only five slots available and there`s a lot of really good
contenders. I have to say, I think "Zero Dark Thirty" speaks to what`s
happened in filmmaking today. The bar is higher.

In the past, Hollywood probably would have waited several years to actually
make this movie. Instead, they`re making this movie, you know, just a
couple, you know, just a couple lt months after --

MATTHEWS: OK, Ted, who`s going to win best picture?

JOHNSON: I would still say that "Lincoln" is kind of the front runner.
But, really, last night kind of threw everything else up in the air.

MATTHEWS: Marc, we got a second left. Who`s gong to win best picture for
the Oscar?

MALKIN: "Lincoln" is the frontrunner, but I`m hoping for "Zero Dark
Thirty".

MATTHEWS: I`m hoping for "Silver Linings Playbook." I love that movie.
It`s not just because it`s about Philly. I just loved the movie.

Anyway, thank you, Ted Johnson. Thank you, Marc Malkin, for coming on the
show.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I see most of the good movies
that come out: I can remember only one in which the audience applauded. It
was "Argo," and for who`s benefited were they applauding, the theater
manager, the projectionist?

The truth is, the only truth, is that they were applauding the fact that
finally they had just seen a movie that had showed an American success
story, no dark humor, just the fun of seeing an escapade succeeding. A
group of Americans escaping from their captivity in Iran. No cynical anti-
heroes, just straight arrow heroes. People serving their country and this
scared group that desperately needed their help.

I`m glad it won the Golden Globe last night for hero. Glad that "Les Mis"
won for musical. Both are heroic, heroic tales, one old, one new, one
fictional, one joyously as true as yesterday`s headlines.

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
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