updated 1/17/2013 11:42:40 AM ET 2013-01-17T16:42:40

HARDBALL
January 16, 2013

Guests: Dee Dee Myers, Dana Milbank, Colin Goddard, Mark Glaze

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Gunsmoke.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. My hero, the great World War II leader
Winston Churchill, once said, I refuse to be impartial between the fire
brigade and the fire. Well, today President Obama agreed. On the issue of
gun safety, he chose to lead the fire brigade.

What side will the Republicans take, the fires? Will the GOP be the Guns
Over People party? Look at the tough stand the president`s taken here, not
just better background checks, not just limiting the capacity of gun
magazines, but also reinstating the ban on semiautomatic assault rifles.
Obama`s going for it.

What`s the NRA`s response? To go after the president`s daughters, a clear
sign the organization still has its grip on a gun but has lost its grip on
America reality. People are hurt by what happened to those 1st graders.
It`s not a smart move to be out there backing the gun runners. For sure,
it`s not good to sell in the suburbs or the cities. It may not even sell
out there in the country.

Nobody likes what happened in Connecticut, and decent society will get off
its butt. A decent society will get off its butt, both the gun kind and
the other kind.

Colin Goddard was a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. He`s now
with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And Mark Glaze is the
director of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Look at this. The president signed 23 executive actions today on guns for
measures he could control through the executive branch. They range from
nominating a permanent ATF director to new measures on mental health and
school safety and a campaign promoting gun safety for owners.

But he also called on Congress to take on the problem legislatively.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are a few of the 23
executive actions that I`m announcing today. But as important as these
steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of
Congress.

It`s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone
trying to buy a gun.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and
a 10-round limit for magazines.

And finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as
it does its job. We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the
express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. And we
should severely punish anybody who helps them do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Colin, what`s your reading on what he did today? Do enough?

COLIN GODDARD, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING SURVIVOR: We finally have leadership
from the White House. It`s great to see such a comprehensive, you know,
approach to the problem of gun violence and something so stern. I mean,
the vice president promised me personally that we`re going to get something
done about this. So it was a great day.

MATTHEWS: When you hear it, what do you see that works? What do you see
that will stop people who are mentally unstable or emotionally unstable or
just criminally intent from getting guns to use in these spray shootings,
is what we`re really concerned with here right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you want to look at that, that`s -- I mean,
the biggest way to impact that is at the point of sale and requiring a
background check on all gun sales. Forty percent of guns sold in this year
-- every year don`t have a background check associated with it. That`s a
problem. And they realize that background checks don`t take guns from law-
abiding people. They pass those every time. But it makes someone with a
felony record, someone with a domestic violence restraining order, someone
with a diagnosed mental illness...

MATTHEWS: Where`s the NRA on background checks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vast majority of their membership (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: What about the big shots, LaPierre?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s for this stuff? Is he for anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should be, if he`s a reasonable human being.

MATTHEWS: You`re being political. Let me ask you, Mark. Where are the
bad guys on this?

MARK GLAZE, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, they don`t -- they don`t...

MATTHEWS: They make money off this. They make money off everything we`re
talking about here, everything -- ammo clips, guns...

GLAZE: You know what...

MATTHEWS: Everything makes money, and background checks prevent sales.

GLAZE: They make money out of -- out of hysteria. But the truth is, you
know, most dealers actually want more people in their stores. When these
private sales are taking place over the Internet or out of the back seat of
a car, that doesn`t do anybody any good.

MATTHEWS: So the retailers with brick and mortar want it.

GLAZE: Yes, the dealer -- my dad was a gun dealer in Colorado. He wanted
people in the store because that`s where dealers make their money, and that
way, you make sure that the people who are...

MATTHEWS: Well, how do you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you (INAUDIBLE) when you have a background check, a
guy comes in, he`s reasonable looking. He comes in or she comes in and
they want to buy a gun. If you have a background check, does that mean
they got to wait while the government checks out who they are, whether
they`ve got a court-ordered mental situation -- a court-ordered response to
a mental situation or emotional problem or a criminal record or whatever?
What stops them from getting that gun mailed to them 10 days or whatever
later?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now, they get turned away at the point of
sale, and very often, they`re not prosecuted. That`s a problem that the
president ought to deal with. And that`s exactly the that problem the
president and we have been talking about for a long time. Nothing stops
that person from then going on line, pressing a mouse three times and
getting a gun from an unlicensed private seller and meeting them somewhere
and...

MATTHEWS: So you can go on eBay and get a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not on eBay. They actually do a pretty good job of not
selling guns. You can go on Armslist. You can sometimes go on Craigslist
because they don`t police it very well, and a lot of other sites.

MATTHEWS: So if somebody says Bushmaster, 100 bucks, used...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or best offer. Here`s my phone number. Here`s my e-
mail address. You know, throw me your best offer and let`s meet somewhere.
And that`s it. Guns, cash, that`s it.

MATTHEWS: What did you -- are either of you guys expert on what the latest
definition of an assault, a military rifle is? What -- what`s the -- the
president enlarge the notion or tightened it or what? Where are we on
this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the president -- we got to study his proposals.
The president, I think, is going to follow the lead of people on the Hill,
Dianne Feinstein, the senator who wrote the `94 law, along with --

MATTHEWS: Because didn`t the Bushmaster get past that -- it didn`t get
defined last time as part of the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. Well, the last time, the law did some
good, but it was pretty easy to evade. We they`re going to try and pass a
tighter law this time.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics. You know, you can usually do these things
by geography, but we had Ed Rendell on, the former governor of
Pennsylvania, who took on the NRA in Pennsylvania. But he always won in
places like Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia suburbs. He said
the suburban republic (ph) -- it`s not to be partisan here, but the guys or
women who are going to be in trouble are those who line up with the NRA
against any action who represent the suburbs because the suburbs will not
put up with this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? You ask people who are afraid of the
NRA, Name me five members of Congress or governors who ever lost their
seats...

MATTHEWS: Well, because they`re obedient!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... as a result of the NRA...

MATTHEWS: Because they`re obedient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can`t give you five. The truth is, people like
Tim Kaine...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at this. The president admitted the road
ahead will be tough and he`ll need the support of Republicans and Democrats
who hold wide-ranging views on guns and gun ownership. Let`s listen to the
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We`re going to need voices in those areas and those congressional
districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up.

Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to
keep guns out of the wrong hands. Ask them if they support a ban on
military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

And if they say no, ask them why not. Ask them what`s more important,
doing whatever it takes to get an A grade from the gun lobby that funds
their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their
child off for 1st grade?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Speaking of which, the NRA responded to the president`s action
plan of today by saying, in part, "We look forward to working with Congress
on a bipartisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America`s most
valuable asset, our children. Attacking firearms and ignoring children is
not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding
gun owners will be affected and your children -- our children will remain
vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy." I love that phrase,
"inevitability."

But that statement came just hours after their releasing, the NRA did, this
Web video mentioning the president`s two daughters, a video the White House
press secretary branded as repugnant and cowardly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the president`s kids more important than yours?
Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when
his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know where to go with this indecency. But I`ll
start with you, Colin. What do you make of that ad? I don`t know what
help it does for the world. Your thoughts.

GODDARD: Neither do I. I think it`s absolutely a ridiculous statement.
And to attack, you know, the president`s children like that when there`s so
much actually more policy we should be discussing, you know, I just -- I
frankly don`t get it.

MATTHEWS: Does the NRA notice that we`ve had presidents mowed down, you
know, and their families vulnerable since -- well, want to go through the
damn list they ought to be reminded of? I mean, Lincoln and Garfield and
McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt shot at, lucky to be saved. Luckily -- Truman
was attacked. Roosevelt was shot at. Kennedy was killed. Reagan was
almost killed. It`s not something to play games with!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know...

MATTHEWS: Presidential security -- it`s not a joke!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this goes to is the big and growing difference
between the NRA`s rank and file, who are pretty normal people...

MATTHEWS: Well, do they know that the idea of talking about assassinating
or endangering the lives of a presidential family cuts the heart of our
electoral process? We elect a president, he`s vulnerable to people out
there with guns? And then to say, Well, let`s talk about the daughters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there`s a lot of NRA members who don`t like this
kind of stuff. They`re not talking to their rank and file. They`re
talking to a hard core base right now. And I don`t know that that`s a
winning strategy for them over the long haul.

MATTHEWS: What is going on? Have you studied the NRA leadership?
LaPierre used to seem like his head was screwed on a couple years ago,
maybe many years ago. Why are they sending him out with this absolute
rejectionist position? We`re not doing anything on gun clips, 30, 40
rounds, whatever. We`re not going to do anything on background checks.

Why don`t they come out and say, You know what? There`s some common ground
here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. I mean, they know -- we know that their
membership supports what we`re talking about, you know, background checks
on all gun sales, you know? That speaks to that giant disconnect between
the membership of the NRA and their leadership. And the more leadership
does these things that are clearly out of touch with the average American
person, the further away they`re going to get from reality.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this. This is more stuff that`s very
troubling. Next to the president and his remarks today were a few
children, just slightly older than the Newtown students who were killed.
And these children had all written letters to the president in the wake of
the tragedy calling for action on gun control, which I expect young kids
would do.

In advance of these children coming to Washington, Rush Limbaugh yesterday
accused the president of using, them, those kids as human shields. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obama uses kids as human shields! He
brings these kids, supposedly who wrote letters to the White House after
Newtown! It`s going to be very difficult, very difficult to oppose it.
You`ve got these little kids there. They don`t want to die! And how can
you -- how can you not listen to them! You`ve got to do something! That`s
the picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he on or off his meds again?

MATTHEWS: ... people that -- I don`t care about his meds. I care about
the lack of any kind of human approach to this problem. Kids were mowed
down by a deranged killer. He had a weapon that was particularly dangerous
and particularly useful in a sick way to somebody who wants to mow people
down, semiautomatic Bushmaster with lots of big clips on it.

It`s a problem we have to deal with. Now, we can deal with it different
ways. There could be different constitutional problems. But to make fun
of those kids -- "I don`t want to die" is some kind of joke? That`s
sadistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rush Limbaugh needs to...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know why his viewers riding around in cars and trucks
and doing their jobs, regular people, on the right maybe -- why don`t they
just -- Rush, that`s wrong. Stop that. We can be for lower taxes, less
government, less regulation. We can agree on that. But that is sick. Why
don`t they call him up and say to him shut up once in a while. Your
thoughts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should. And if Rush Limbaugh actually saw that
classroom after that morning, the reality of the situation that we`re
talking about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, two to eleven bullets in each kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would never say anything like that.

MATTHEWS: Unrecognizable children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s -- it`s uncalled for.

MATTHEWS: Remember 1st grade? Remember being in 1st grade?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a son...

MATTHEWS: I think we all can...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... we all can remember it a little bit. I remember how
vulnerable -- anyway, in a powerful moment today, the president spoke about
meeting the parents of Newtown victim Grace McConnell -- there she is --
last month in Connecticut. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Grace was 7 years old when she was struck down, just a gorgeous,
caring, joyful little girl. I`m told she loved pink. She loved the beach.
She dreamed of becoming a painter.

Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings, and I hung it in my
private study just off the Oval Office. And every time I look at that
painting, I think about Grace and I think about the life that she lived and
the life that lay ahead of her. And most of all, I think about how when it
comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I think it`s the responsibility of grownups to protect
kids, the responsibility of elected officials to protect the society.
They`re doing their jobs. And for Rush and those people to come out and
LaPierre to come out and say, Oh, this is all theater -- nobody made up
this crime, this horror. Nobody made it up. It`s true. It`s reality.
It`s the world we live in. And it`s going to happen again.

I thought it was interesting that the NRA put out the phrase referring to
the inevitability of more of this happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you know...

MATTHEWS: And some old guy in retirement standing there with a uniform on
maybe at the school might in some cases stop it. I`m not going to fight
that one. The teachers union can fight that.

But the real problem is the weaponry and the mental illness involved in
this case and the ease (INAUDIBLE) you can buy a weapon and bring it into a
school. And you know, they keep saying more firepower is going to solve
the problem. What do you think? You`ve been there.

GODDARD: If the idea that United States...

MATTHEWS: At Virginia Tech.

GODDARD: ... of America -- if the idea that the United States of America,
the country with 300 million guns already, a country that allows its people
to carry guns practically anywhere in our country -- if the idea that only
-- if only we had more places we could carry them and more guns -- if that
were true, that we would become safer, then we would already be the safest
place in the entire world.

We are quite the opposite of that. So how many more hundred million guns
do we need before things become safer for everybody?

MATTHEWS: Colin Goddard, thanks for coming on the show. You were there.
And thank you, Mark Glaze, for coming. This is an issue not going away.

Coming up: With the NRA taking the low road on guns, or no road, bringing
the Obama daughters into the debate, our colleague, Joe Scarborough, who`s
completely right on this issue, said it`s time for the Republican Party,
his party, to choose, guns or people. Whose side are they on, really on?

President Obama also has big battles looming over the debt ceiling, the
budget, immigration. I think he`s going to win on immigration, but he`s
already taking heat over the makeup of his cabinet -- not enough women.
Let`s talk about that later in the show.

And none of the president`s second term agenda will be easy with the
Republicans in Congress. Take Texas congressman Steve Stockman. He
replaced Ron Paul, and he`s already making noise about impeaching the
president. It`s his second go-round in Congress. Back in `94, by the way,
he was considered far to the right. Now? Well, he fits right in with some
of these people. It says a lot about how extreme today`s Republican
Party`s become, where someone like Stockman can fit right in.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the need for Republicans again to choose
sides, the wild bunch or the posse?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Coming up Monday, President Obama will deliver his second
inaugural address as president. Four years ago, in his first inaugural
address, the president paid tribute to the historic nature of his election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women
and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across
this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago
might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you
to take a most sacred oath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Call me a romantic, but I`m looking for a major, even historic
address this coming Monday.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, just how out of touch is the
NRA? The gun rights group has given no ground since the Newtown school
shooting and is now running a ad that goes after the president`s daughters.

Has the group finally given up the veneer of trying to gain supporters from
both parties? Well, a new poll shows Americans generally turning on them,
and many of their policies are deeply unpopular. I`m talking about the
NRA. And they`re facing right now -- well, we`ll see what they`re going to
face.

Will the Republican Party, which is far more important than the NRA, go
along the same road as the NRA is taking? Joining me right now is my good
friend and colleague, Joe Scarborough, who often -- in fact, very often --
speaks common sense from the center right.

Is it fair to say you`re in the center right, Joe, politically? Where
would you like to have a third party describe you? Because I think you are
center right. I`m sort of somewhere over to the left, but I think you`re
somewhere on the other side of the main point, the middle point. Where are
you?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE": You know, for the most part, I`m
where I was when I was in Congress, had a 95 percent conservative rating.
And we could start a debate right now over debt, over deficits...

MATTHEWS: Well, where`s that -- yes...

SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me just -- because this is an important -- this is
a very important point to make. Entitlements -- why the Democrats haven`t
passed a budget in over 1,500 days, and you would say this guy is really
conservative. We could debate further about government shutdowns, and I
would tell you that I might not flinch in 2013 any more than I did in 1995.

I`m a really conservative guy, especially fiscally. That said, the
extremism that has taken over my party on certain issues that has us
running down rabbit trails that neither Ronald Reagan or William F. Buckley
would ever chase down -- run down is what`s causing this problem -- this
party problems.

I think I`m a very conservative guy, but I think my party has gone in a
direction that`s deeply disturbing to me on a lot of issues...

MATTHEWS: Well, you know...

SCARBOROUGH: ... And especially this one right now.

MATTHEWS: Traditionally, the word conservative means you believe in
tradition and institutions and their solidity...

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... and holding them together and holding society together.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: It`s about keeping order. It`s about opposing disruptions and
radicalism.

Anyway, now, maybe this is too much like shooting ducks, but take a look at
this NRA...

SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, no, no. No, can I -- can I make a point on that,
though, really quickly, though?

MATTHEWS: Sure. Sure.

SCARBOROUGH: This is what`s most disturbing to me, because I said it
before when I came out supporting a ban on assault weapons.

I said, you know, for me this issue used to be a symbolic issue. But after
Newtown, after Colorado, after Oregon, after everything that`s happened,
it`s not about symbolism anymore. And when I really get into a debate and
ask a question that the president asked, why, why do certain elements of
the NRA support assault weapons, and these high-capacity magazines, the
answer always comes back they think they may have to use them sometimes
against American troops that are going to be coming to their house or
landing in their backyard with black helicopters.

There`s nothing conservative about this point of view, that survivalists
believe they need these weapons to actually turn them on their own
government. That`s radical. This isn`t conservative. This is not about
the party of Ronald Reagan, who, by the way, supported an assault weapons
ban and helped pass it in 1994 by leaning on Republican members.

This is about the party of Wayne LaPierre. And Republicans need to decide,
are they going to be the party of Wayne LaPierre, who is upside-down in
approval ratings, along with the NRA, or the party of Ronald Reagan, who
won 49 states in 1984? It`s their choice.

MATTHEWS: Let`s just talk about -- let`s just talk about the narrow
question of leadership of the NRA, not just the Republican -- not the
Republican Party, the NRA.

Look at this ad that ran. It`s a Web ad. They didn`t spend much money on
this baby. You can tell by the quality of it. But let`s talk about taste
and political sensitivity, not soft sensitivity, but smart sensitivity.
Are they on the mark here? Do they have a grip on the American conscience
right now or not? Here is the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION AD)

NARRATOR: Are the president`s kids more important than yours? Then why is
he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools, when his kids are
protected by armed guards at their school?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that ad, just in terms of smarts, political
smarts, going after the daughters and their security?

SCARBOROUGH: What I -- what I make of the ad is -- and I have said it
before -- Wayne LaPierre has done more to hurt the gun rights cause in
America than anybody else over the past month.

You can start with that press conference. It was a stunningly tone-deaf
press conferences, one of the most tone-deaf press conferences I have ever
seen in my life. Then you follow it up with this app, this iPhone app that
they put out that children ages 4 and older could actually practice using
assault weapons on target practice on their parents` iPhone.

And then they follow up with this commercial. Chris, there`s a reason why
even a week after Newtown, the majority of Americans did not support an
assault weapons ban. Now 60 percent of Americans support an assault
weapons ban; 85 percent of Americans want universal background checks.
Something like 70 percent of Americans actually want a national
registration process to track gun sales.

And then you go to other issues like high-capacity magazines, that`s like a
65 percent, 70 percent approval rating. The NRA is upside-down in their
approval rating. That`s all changed over the past two, three weeks.

MATTHEWS: Yes. What about...

SCARBOROUGH: Why has it changed? It hasn`t changed because of Bloomberg.
It hasn`t changed because of Obama. It hasn`t changed because of
Feinstein.

It`s changed because of the extremism inside the NRA leadership, not NRA
members. But their NRA membership has become so extreme they have lost
Middle America.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about whipping this, if you were on the Republican
side and you were among the independents who are pushing for this on the
other -- on the Republican side.

When you look at the rural areas, Utah, Idaho, maybe parts of the South,
definitely parts -- some parts of the South, where you have a real red
situation, where the only thing you fear is a primary, a younger guy or
younger woman running against you, is there any way that they don`t
consider the pro-gun vote the safe vote in those areas? Or do you think
that might change?

Is that still the safe vote, voting with the NRA, to be blunt about it?

SCARBOROUGH: I think that`s the safest vote. At the same time, I can tell
you there are millions and millions of dollars that are going to be pouring
into the swing districts across America, not just from Michael Bloomberg,
but obviously from Gabby Giffords` efforts and many others.

And you`re going to see the -- whatever money the NRA spends in 2014, you
are going to see that doubled, tripled, quadrupled by people that support,
like Ronald Reagan supported, sensible gun control.

So what once was the safe vote in a lot of districts is no longer going to
be the safe vote. And I can tell you, Chris, I know a thing or two about
politics. Republicans got very angry with me over the past year when I
told them Mitt Romney was in trouble.

I can tell you something. In 2014 in my district in Northwest Florida, a
district Jerry Falwell called the most conservative in America, I have no
doubt in the world this would be the smart political move for me to run as
a fiscally conservative Republican, a pro-life Republican who has said
enough to survivalists, enough to extremists.

The Second Amendment is about protecting our homes. It`s about hunting
with our friends and family members. It`s not about military-style assault
weapons that ended up killing, you know, 6- and 7-year-old kids in Newtown,
Connecticut.

MATTHEWS: Well, Joe, in our time, we will know the answer to your
prospects on this one. And let`s see. I`m on your side.

Thank you, Joe Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And, despite his 95 percent ACA (ph) rating, has always been an
independent. I know that personally.

Up next -- back when you were a guest on these shows.

Up next: How does Bill Clinton see his relationship with Hillary? Now,
there is a fascinating tease. Big Bill speaks out on Hillary.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": President Obama`s
inaugural parade will feature eight floats, including a Hawaii float to
honor his birthplace, an Illinois float to honor the first lady`s home
state, and a Kenyan float just to mess with Republicans.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FALLON: Why not? It`s a parade. Right? Everyone loves a parade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

Bill Clinton answers a question about Hillary Clinton`s health, also her
plans for the future, with some thoughts about what lies ahead for their
relationship. Apparently, he`s getting creative as the 2016 questions keep
pouring in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She`s always been
very, very healthy. And she has very low blood pressure, very low standing
heartbeat. I tell her that she`s still got time to have three more
husbands after me.

Whenever I am stubborn about something in her constant quest at my self-
improvement, she refers to me as her first husband.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Because I told her once she was going to live to be 120 and have
time for plenty more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that Nancy Snyderman?

Anyway, critics laugh, they can laugh, but it works, not just big Bill`s
patter right there, but the whole thing. The whole Clinton thing works.
Just think about it.

Anyway, the secretary of state also scored an endorsement of sorts from
"SNL"`s Seth Meyers. He nominated her for "GQ"`s list of 100 hottest women
of the 21st century -- quote -- "I think somebody who is getting sexier
every year is Hillary Clinton. Every year, she seems better at whatever
she`s doing. By the end of the millennium, she is going to have it locked
down."

Also, why is one Republican congressman railing against a grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities that will provide new books for a
community college library in his own district? Well, hint: The title of
the grant program is Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. And the
congressman, Walter Jones of North Carolina, asked a Christian group to
offset that donation with its own set of books.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I respect all religions and all
faiths, but I want them treated fairly. And I think too many times, the
Christian faith is not treated fairly.

If they want to have books about the Muslims` faith, let`s have equal
number of books about the Judeo-Christian. I would rather see the $150
million spent to remodel schools in Craven County or build schools at
Craven community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s been no outcry at that school or any school over a
lack of Christian reading material at the school.

On top of that, Jones says he wants the $150 million, as he said, to go to
other projects. But here`s the thing. That $150 million figure is the
entire budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities, not just this
one project. He`s got that number all wrong.

And a question for the congressman: If building schools and helping those
in need is a top priority, why did he vote against the Hurricane Sandy
relief last night? Yes, Jones was one of the 180 who did just that, voted
against the aid.

Finally, no matter how rational President Obama is when it comes to gun
control policies, the extreme end of the pro-gun side will always hear
something like this, courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel this time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")

NARRATOR: Why does President Obama want to take everybody`s guns away?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody`s guns are going
to be taken away.

NARRATOR: That`s right.

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR: The federal government is about to take your guns away.

OBAMA: The federal government`s about to take all your guns away.

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR: Whose guns?

OBAMA: Everybody`s guns.

NARRATOR: How many guns?

OBAMA: All your guns.

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR: Call the White House right now, because if you don`t...

OBAMA: Here it comes.

NARRATOR: Here it comes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NARRATOR: Paid for by Americans Against Context.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, people are going to buy that ad, believe in that, by the
way.

Up next -- that was just kidding.

Up next: among the challenges facing President Obama in his second term,
criticism by some on the makeup of his Cabinet. Not enough women. And
that`s ahead.

And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Dow fell 23 points today. The S&P ended flat. The Nasdaq managed to
add six points.

After the closing bell, eBay reported profits that beat estimates. Revenue
also came in ahead of what the Street was looking for. Meanwhile, earnings
at Goldman Sachs nearly tripled in the fourth quarter.

And consumer prices were unchanged in December, thanks to falling gasoline
prices. And the Federal Reserve said economic activity expanded just
lightly across its 12 districts in the most recent Beige Book report.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The White House has come under a lot of criticism over the gender makeup of
its political appointments. White men occupy many of the senior positions
in the White House right now. And so far, the president has announced that
he will fill -- well, he already filled three major vacancies in his
Cabinet with white men.

Well, today, Politico and other news outlets are reporting that the leading
candidate to be the next White House Chief of Staff is Denis McDonough,
another white male.

Well, here`s one what administration official told "The Hill" today. Now,
obviously, this person, male or female, spoke on background, not to be
named -- quote -- "I work in this administration, and I have to admit that
I`m slightly annoyed by lack of women around him in those key committees.
I mean, come on. Out of all those people, there`s one woman in the room?"

That, of course, was Valerie Jarrett.

"You mean to tell me there`s not one woman who was qualified enough to be
secretary of state, secretary of defense, or even White House chief of
staff?"

Well, earlier this week, President Obama defended his administration`s
record of employing women. Let`s watch him at the press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: 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 on during
the next four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, is the criticism fair against the president, the criticism
that`s been thrown at him, falling short of his problem to be a champion of
women and diversity generally?

Howard Fineman, my buddy, is an editorial director of The Huffington Post
and an MSNBC political analyst. And The Huffington Post, by the way, has
been producing a series on the major challenges -- there it is -- facing
Obama in his second term. There it is, "The Road Forward." Sounds a lot
like leaning forward.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And Dee Dee Myers -- not intentionally -- was press secretary to
former President Bill Clinton.

Dee Dee, you are kind of a pioneeress in this whole thing of having top
jobs.

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Pioneeress.

MATTHEWS: But I watch this. And I watch -- sometimes, there`s tokenism,
which maybe is better than nothing. Some of these campaigns that have been
run by Democratic presidential candidates, you wonder about the decision
and how they made it, to make it look good.

What`s better, to make it look bad by not doing it or make it look good,
but when you really don`t intend to have that person in there?

MYERS: Well, the best thing is to put somebody...

MATTHEWS: To do it right.

MYERS: ... in with real authority and do it right. And, sometimes, these
are steps along the road.

And I do think -- look, I think the president`s...

MATTHEWS: Why is it happening?

MYERS: Well, I think the president makes a good case, right, that he has
appointed a lot of women to senior positions and to unprecedented
positions, two women to the Supreme Court, including the first Latina; 43
percent of his appointments to the federal bench have been women. That`s
the most ever in a first term.

There are certainly --

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The numbers are right. But what about paramount --
the prominence of the positions that they`re in in the executive branch?

MYERS: I think in the cabinet, certainly, in the first term. But I think
the president sends mixed signals. On the one hand, he does -- he has done
a really, I think, good job from a distance of putting together a really
diverse team. But when you get closer and see who`s around him every day,
it gets a little more complicated. His body language doesn`t always sync
up with kind of message that he puts forward. And even in some ways, the
way his administration looks.

The people who are around him when the really big decisions get made are
mostly men, and mostly white men, almost all white men. And when he`s in
his spare time, you get the sense he`s more comfortable with men. He`s
played 132 rounds of golf in four years. That means he`s had somewhere
north of 400 golf partners. Two of them have been women.

Now, I don`t want to begrudge the guy if he wants to recreate and have fun
and play golf with the guys. But it`s just an interesting -- it`s an
interesting mixed signal.

MATTHEWS: Is there a crossover -- Howard, you on this question on the men
side. I don`t know the president personally. I`ve met him four or five
times, I`ve always enjoyed his company, but I don`t know him personally.

But I read his friends or his old friends, which is a safe way to be when
you`re president of the United States, keep the old friends who keep your
confidence, you can have fun times with, say stuff that may not be
politically correct, but you can talk to old buddies that way. He hasn`t
brought those old buddies into the administration except for Valerie
Jarrett. Most of friends in Chicago are not the guys he works with.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The irony is --

MATTHEWS: So, he`s not using friendship to pick people from, is he?

FINEMAN: Well, now that you mention it, the irony is the one Chicago
friend that he brought into the inner circle of his White House staff was a
woman, Valerie Jarrett.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: The other guys -- the others are men, African-American men.

MATTHEWS: Was he guilty from picking from his buddies?

FINEMAN: Well, he`s not guilty of that. That`s the way he is.

MATTHEWS: But does he do it?

FINEMAN: Yes. Dee Dee mentions the golf games. That doesn`t count all
the hours watching ESPN and playing basketball.

MYERS: Right.

FINEMAN: Now, Susan Rice could probably clean all their clocks.

MATTHEWS: She could?

FINEMAN: Yes. She was the captain of her high school basketball team.

MYERS: She played in college.

MATTHEWS: I like women`s basketball. I can follow it. I can identify
with it.

FINEMAN: But here`s something. The president can`t complain about this,
the White House can`t complain about people carping because the president
was elected and re-elected as the symbol and leader of this new diverse
America.

That`s who he is. That`s what he got congratulated for. That`s what
"Time" magazine named him person of the year for.

So, if the optics look bad, if there`s a picture of him with his inner
circle and they`re nine guys -- nine white guys and one woman --

MATTHEWS: That`s bad.

FINEMAN: -- that`s bad.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: They can`t complain. They have to be sensitive of that and all
the statistics that Dee Dee correctly cites don`t go to the question of
sensitivity about this. The questions might not always be fair, but they
have to ask in the new America that he helped create.

MATTHEWS: The new America I live. And I always advise people, African-
American, minority whatever, I say the same thing to everybody. You got to
spread your name around aggressively because when a job empties, you got
two weeks. People get two weeks notice these days when they quit a job.
You better have your face in their face or you`re not getting the job.

A lot of it is not being there. Woody Allen, 80 percent of electorate
showing up. If you`re not in the room when they`re looking who should pick
for this job, if you`re not in the line of sight. So, the question is for
affirmative action purposes, shouldn`t the president be lining up his
deputies and making sure among his number two people that there`s a lot of
diversity? Is that something he can control?

Maybe he cannot control who he picks at the top jobs because they work
their way up. But doesn`t he have to fill the magazine of people around
him?

MYERS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he`s not done that.

MYERS: Well, I think he has done it in some cases and hasn`t in others.
For example, there was -- you know, they appointed a new CIA director,
another white male, highly qualified but nonetheless. There are a number
of women running defense agencies in this town that he could have chosen.
The sort of second choice for the Defense Department was a woman Michelle
Flournoy, who would have been an excellent choice.

And so, it`s not that there aren`t qualified women around that he can
choose. Now, I believe we got to keep pressure on him because I think this
is really important. I think it makes for --

MATTHEWS: Anybody you know that`s equally qualified --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Name some people you know who are equally qualified to the
people he named to the top jobs who are women?

MYERS: Well, Susan Rice was certainly qualified to be secretary of state.

MATTHEWS: Equally qualified as John Kerry, equally qualified?

MYERS: Oh, yes, I think so. I mean, I think they bring different skills
and different strengths and weaknesses.

MATTHEWS: Fair enough.

MYERS: But she was certainly one. I just named another one, Michelle
Flournoy would have been equally qualified to serve as secretary of
defense.

MATTHEWS: Do you know her?

MYERS: I don`t.

MATTHEWS: All the right-wingers are pushing her. But I think they were
just pushing against Kerry -- against Hagel.

MYERS: Pushing against Hagel and just trying to, you know, be a contrarian
to the president, no matter what he does.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we agree on that.

FINEMAN: Interestingly, I think one of the most important people in the
president`s inner circle in the first term was Nancy Ann DeParle, who was
the big honcho on health care.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Had it not been for her, I don`t think they would have passed the
health care bill. I mean, she was absolutely indispensable. She`s
leaving, however. She`s going over to Brookings.

MATTHEWS: The great irony, guys, is nobody`s more powerful in the inner
circle than a woman, Valerie Jarrett.

FINEMAN: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: And so, she does an enormous clout, and should have it. He`s
known her a long time. She was an executive in Chicago. He knows her
well.

Obviously, this is an argument we`re going to have in America and we should
always have it.

MYERS: And we`ll judge him by the final results. I`ll put that out there.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you benign?

MYERS: Yes. Well, I`m not. I`m aggressively invested in this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Dee Dee Myers, thank you.

Up next, White House press secretary -- I`m running out of excitement here
anyway, thanks.

Today`s Republican Party, how far is it going? Let`s take a look at the
guy who`s a far out guy. Texas Congressman Steve Stockman who was an
outlier when he was first elected back in `94 and is now right there in the
wild mainstream of the Republican Party.

As Joe Scarborough said a while ago, the Republican Party has moved so far
from mainstream conservative to radical that even the radicals now fit
right in. It`s the moderates that don`t fit in.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re coming right back with a curious case of the Republican
Party`s lurch to the far right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We want all tools available to use,
including that impeachment. They`re using children, it reminds me of
Saddam Hussein when he used kids

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Texas Congressman Steve Stockman, not only threatening to impeach
President Obama for his gun control proposal, but likening the president to
Saddam Hussein.

This is Stockman second go around in Congress. He was first selected as
part of the Newt Gingrich`s Republican revolution back in 1994. Back then,
however, he was too extreme for both his colleagues in the Congress and his
constituents back home and was not reelected.

Anyway, an article in "The Dallas Morning News" last year reminded Texas
voters of Stockman`s highlights, quote, "He defended the militia movement
in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. He suggested President Bill
Clinton planned the Branch Davidian siege near Waco to build support for
gun control." Clinton organized that.

"And he proposed a measurement colleagues viewed as bizarre to investigate
the famous Kinsey report on sexual behavior, 48 years after its
publication."

Well, Mr. Stockman is back. And as Dana Milbank writes beautifully in
today`s "Washington Post", quote, "All of these years later, Stockman can
still bring the crazy. The problem is he`s now just one of many
purveyors."

Joining me now, "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank and his senior
partner, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and MSNBC political analyst, you
know, there is -- Eugene Robinson.

You know, there is kind of like an animal husbandry aspect of following
these people and keeping track of them. The people vote -- is it just
we`ve got to the situation in this country where primary is all you`ve got?
That there`s a wide field in the primary and a nutty guy wins it, he`s or
she`s in for life because you don`t general election?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Right.

MATTHEWS: So Stockman wins a primary in a wide field --

MILBANK: Right.

MATTHEWS: Crazy after all of these years, he can`t be beaten in the
general.

MILBANK: That`s exactly what happened. The last time around, he was this
guy, at a past, he was homeless, eating out of trash cans, had a drug
arrest, long rap sheet. They didn`t really pay attention. He just got
elected in the Republican revolution.

MATTHEWS: They like the name Stockman?

MILBANK: It was like, wait a second. He`s nuts. And they got rid of him.

You know what? They can`t do that anymore because it`s all been
redistricted down there. This guy has a safe seat for life. The only way
he doesn`t get reelected is if he gets bumped out in the primary.

MATTHEWS: Did somebody get this guy`s right?

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Well, the thing is -- but you can`t. I
mean, the thing is, he`s now a member in good standing of the Republican
caucus. He`s not some nut out there. He`s in the mainstream.

MATTHEWS: I`m not being an expert at these guys, but I have some sense of
taste. Some. And when I hear these guys talking about the Obama girls
being somehow food for discussion here, let`s talk about their safety as
some joke line. But then, talking about this guy saying the president
reminds him of Saddam Hussein.

Remember Saddam Hussein put that little British kids on his lap and pat him
on the head, it was Hitlerian. It was like there -- it is -- and we were
oh, my God, that kid is scared to death of this guy. He`s comparing what
Obama did today to that. That takes a sick kind of connection to do that.

MILBANK: And it`s not by any stretch the sickest thing he did. I mean, he
basically accused Janet Reno and Bill Clinton of murdering 80 people merely
to further his assault gun ban, which is not surprising he`s out there.

MATTHEWS: Explain how that would work? I know a lot of gun people,
including my brother Bruce. But here`s the question. Wait a minute. How
do you organize --

MILBANK: You don`t want to follow.

MATTHEWS: How do you organize Branch Davidian? They organize the raid.
But was the raid in fact justified enough? But to come up with the idea he
justified the raids because he wanted to come out against gun control.

It wasn`t on gun control. The raid didn`t help the cause --

MILBANK: H said the president wanted them dead because they liked their
guns. You can`t go down that path.

ROBINSON: The people who believe that you lost them. You lost them there.

MATTHEWS: What about militia members after those two guys were executed?
One of them was, the other in jail for life.

The guys who blew up Oklahoma City, the bureaucrats are dead because the
people, just workers for the United States government, the Murrah Building,
are dead. And then he celebrates the fact that we`ve got militias.

MILBANK: Yes, yes. And he sent this --

ROBINSON: And your point is? I mean, that`s who he is. This is -- this
guy is --

MATTHEWS: What does he say at town meetings? Anyway, as opposed to 1994,
Stockman has followers.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like you mentioned, he`s putting all these executive
orders and he`s overstepping his bounds. If he continues this, could that
build up to make a case for possible impeachment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All options should be on the table, undoubtedly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, well, my old buddy, I mean that term sarcastically, echoed
Stockman`s position in this statement. "President Obama`s series of gun
control measures amount to an executive power grab. He paid lip service to
our fundamental constitutional rights, but took actions to disregard the
Second Amendment and the legislative process."

Reince Priebus is one of these guys, didn`t he? He`s pretty darn close to
them. He has no distance.

MILBANK: He is the titular leader of the Republican Party right now. So -
-

MATTHEWS: But, also, the crazy win.

MILBANK: But this is the whole point. It`s like I said he brought the
crazy in 1994, this guy. But the crazy has just caught up with him. And
it`s just where our political system has gone.

Steve Stockman hasn`t changed at all.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: And Reince Priebus, frankly, is not doing a service for the
Republican Party. A service to the party would be for the head of the
party to draw some lines. To bring --

MATTHEWS: He`s too busy organizing.

ROBINSON: That would be of service.

MATTHEWS: Gene, as you know, we`ve talked about this. He`s too busy
choreographing voter suppression against minorities.

Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank.

ROBINSON: Well, but it didn`t work very well.

MATTHEWS: I know, but people noticed. Thank you, Gene Robinson.

When we return, let me finish with the need for Republicans to choose
sides, the wild bunch or the posse? They may have already made that
choice, unfortunately.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me start tonight with this. Once upon time, the Republican
Party ran presidential candidates who could carry even Massachusetts.
Think Eisenhower, think Ronald Reagan.

Well, lately, the party has been running candidates who can`t get much
closer to the northeast than Ohio. Not even that, the last two times, a
whole part of the country, the Northeast, with lots of people living in it
that`s become foreign territory to the GOP.

Last night, as I watched the United States House of Representatives vote on
aid for hurricane Sandy economic relief, I was reminded what`s happened to
the GOP, which I know called the party of guns over people. And since
then, it`s the fight for guns. And since then, it`s fight against aid for
people.

Last night, it was aid for hurricane victims living in the Northeast. Does
anyone think it will stop there? The mood of the guns over people party is
increasingly to vote for guns, vote for war, vote against people. Why? I
cannot figure.

To paraphrase an old saying, "guns don`t vote, people do." I have a
feeling there are more Americans with strong feelings about those first
graders up in Connecticut than they do for their wild bunch out there
worried about the black helicopter sweeping down on their front lawns.

We`ve seen the horror of crazed killers with semi-automatic weapons armed
with big-capacity clips. We still haven`t caught site of those darn
helicopters.

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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