updated 1/29/2013 9:59:37 AM ET 2013-01-29T14:59:37

HARDBALL
January 25, 2013

Guests: Dan Cassino, Marjorie Margolies, Hilary Shelton

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Madhouse.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this eruption of self-doubt and humiliation in
the Republican Party. Suddenly, after months of denial, you hear the
growling and the gnashing of teeth. It`s as if we`re hearing the cries
from hell.

Peggy Noonan, the smartest of the voices, says the Grand Old Party is
doomed if it keeps knocking Hillary and refusing to recognize that --
excuse me for disturbing your delusion -- Barack Obama is president of the
United States, the United States Senate is controlled by Democrats, and
Republicans in the House, the ones that can still see through the dark,
know they really can`t go on like this.

Margaret`s not alone. Down in Baton Rouge, Governor Bobby Jindal says,
We`ve got to stop being the stupid party. Haley Barbour, the brightest
bulb in the Republican pack, also warns this party to stop making stupid
comments, again that word about rape.

But don`t lose heart. Like an old car that won`t turn off even when you
turn the key to off, some character out in New Mexico wants to stick women
who are raped with stiff prison sentences if they get an abortion. She
calls it tampering with the evidence.

But wait a minute, crazy guys. Didn`t some of -- one of your Republicans
say you can`t get pregnant in case of a rape?

Anyway, tonight, finding our way through the crazy even as we hear the
first loud barks and meows from the back yard of American politics. I`ve
got two MSNBC political analysts with me tonight, TheGrio`s Joy Reid and
"Mother Jones`s" David Corn.

Anytime I can get you to giggle a little bit, Joy, I consider myself a
success.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But I owe some of this material to a lot of Republicans today.
Peggy Noonan, a friend of mine and very smart -- I don`t always agree with
her, obviously -- talk about middle-of-the-road conservatives. She`s got a
brain here.

In a "Wall Street Journal" column coming out tomorrow -- quote, "It became
obvious this week that the Republican Party top to bottom has to start
taking Barack Obama seriously. He means to change America in fundamental
ways and along the lines of justice, as he sees it. The proper response to
such a man is not -- was that he`s a Muslim or he`s a Kenyan, he`s working
out his feelings about colonialism. Those charges were meant to
marginalize him, but they didn`t hurt him. They damaged Republicans who
came to see him as easy to defeat. It will take guts and unity to fight
him. Can the GOP just in Washington for now develop those things (ph)?"

I think that`s a pretty good charge to Republicans by Peggy Noonan, Joy.
What do you think? She`s saying you`ve deluded yourself with these
nonsensical charges of birtherism, and that`s hurt you guys more than it`s
ever hurt him.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I agree with you,
Chris, that Peggy Noonan is one of the smart ones. She`s a tremendous
writer. I don`t agree with much of what she says, but I think she`s a
smart woman.

But here`s the problem. The base of the Republican Party isn`t listening
to Peggy Noonan. They`re not reading "The Wall Street Journal" editorial
page. They have been fed for 30, 40 years this sort of insanity and the
belief that their views are absolutely right, that the idea of calling
Democrats Marxists and socialists and they idea of being extreme on
abortion, that that is not just right, it`s fundamentally American, it`s
more American than the other side. You can`t just...

MATTHEWS: According to polls, you`re right.

REID: Absolutely. You can`t...

MATTHEWS: The polls say you`re right.

REID: You can`t change the cake by changing the frosting. The problem
with the Republican Party is not the political class or the intellectual
class, it`s...

MATTHEWS: Who are you, Dan Rather?

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Tonight, I am! The base of the Republican Party isn`t listening to
the intellectuals. They`re listening to what you called the other day the
Mickey Mouse crowd. That`s who`s ascendant, and it can`t just change
because Peggy Noonan said so.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a tough charge, and I think she may be right for
this reason. When you look at the commonality now, the common nature of
the Republican Party, it`s still to keep talking about rape, which is
something they ought to just stay off of, honestly. It`s a terrible
tragedy. It`s a crime. And why keep talking about it?

And this thing about Obama, the birtherism -- we`re going to get to it
later in the show -- more than a third of Republicans think he was born
somewhere else still!

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The problem -- I
mean, bless Peggy Noonan. She wants to come in from on high and...

MATTHEWS: Don`t be jealous of another columnist.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: No, no. But I mean, I understand her intention, but she doesn`t
have a clear diagnosis of the problem. Six out of seven of the Republican
presidential primary candidates last year were basically yahoo candidates,
who believed in any one of these...

MATTHEWS: Remind me their names.

CORN: I don`t know if I can remember, but Cain, Perry, Bachmann...

MATTHEWS: Santorum.

CORN: ... Santorum, Trump was in and out, Newt Gingrich, Mr. Colonial
Marxist. You know, and Mitt Romney was the only guy (INAUDIBLE) he flirted
with this, but stayed away from it.

In the meantime, when the House Republicans came into power two years ago,
the Tea Partiers, one of the first things they did was to introduce a bill
trying to redefine rape. So it`s not just a bunch of yahoos out in New
Mexico or Virginia with transvaginal probes. It is the heart of the party!

REID: And Paul Ryan was part of that.

MATTHEWS: You remind me of too much here!

Let`s go to Jindal here. Here`s a guy who`s trying to be a leader. Last
night, at a big meeting of the Republican Party down in Charlotte,
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal called out his own GOP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: No, the Republican Party does not need
to change our principles. But we might need to change just about
everything else we are doing.

And we`ve got to stop being the stupid party. And I`m serious. It`s time
for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.

It`s no secret we had a number of Republicans that damaged the brand this
year with offensive and bizarre comments. I`m here to say we`ve had enough
of that.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He got a smattering of applause there, Joy. You heard that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... but not very enthusiastic. Anyway, this morning, former
Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a very smart politician, he seconded
Jindal`s thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FMR. MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: The point he made is exactly
right. When you consider what two Senate candidates, one in Indiana and
one in Missouri, the comments that they made were stupid comments,
offensive comments. And in today`s world, when a candidate in one state
says something, the negative effect of that can spill over to lots of other
candidates. And Bobby Jindal was exactly right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The problem is, Joy, where were these whistle-blowers about, you
know, last August...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... when they were listening to Donald Trump, when they were
hugging him, when they were listening to the birther crowd, the Louie
Gohmerts of the crowd were all getting equal standing, the Rick Santorums
talking about birth control. They all got equal time with the more sane
members of the right.

REID: Exactly. And the energy of the party is with the Richard Mourdock
crowd. That`s just the reality. And isn`t Bobby Jindal the same guy who
signed off on teaching creationism in schools as science? So he hasn`t
exactly been clean...

MATTHEWS: Equal time again.

CORN: Yes.

REID: ... on that, either. Exactly. So I mean, the problem is, too, I
think the consultants in the party, the political class understands they
need to change. And Bobby Jindal is an ambitious guy. He understands for
them to be viable as presidential candidates, they need to change.

But that -- I don`t even think they 100 percent believe it`s possible
because if the political class believed you could change the base, they
wouldn`t be trying these shenanigans like changing the Electoral College so
that the rural counties...

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`re right.

REID: ... could give a guy a state who...

MATTHEWS: You`re right, Joy. We`re going to talk about that for the rest
of the year because I do think they keep looking for ways to cheat...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... and on the demographic thing, they do face a real threat.
Either they embrace Hispanics, begin to get a chunk of the African-American
vote, or they are doomed.

Let`s take a look at another -- we`re not making this up, ladies and
gentlemen. This is all coming out as fresh news. If you thought
Republicans had learned their lessons on abortion, for example, and talking
about being the stupid party, think again. In New Mexico, as said,
Republican representative Katherine Ann Brown (ph) has introduced a bill --
this is a serious elected person, I suppose -- that would make it a crime
for rape victims to get abortions.

The text of her bill reads, "Tampering with evidence shall include
procuring or facilitating an abortion or compelling or coercing another to
obtain abortion" -- that`s typical right-wing talk, "coercing" again -- "of
a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with
the intent to destroy evidence of the crime."

Why do they get into this stuff? What in their minds magnetized them to
even be talking about rape after what they`ve been through with Mourdock
and -- what`s that guy`s name, Acton or whatever...

CORN: Todd Akin.

MATTHEWS: Akin.

CORN: Because they believe it. I mean, that`s the...

MATTHEWS: But they don`t think about it, do they?

CORN: Well, I guess they do. But this is the issue. It`s not about
stopping stupid remarks, as Haley Barbour or Bobby Jindal say, or Peggy
Noonan. It`s about what they believe. A lot of them believe this, you
know, crap. But also, they believe in self-deportation, a lot of them.
You know, that wasn`t, you know, a stupid remark. I mean, it was
politically, but that`s what Mitt Romney campaigned on.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: They believe in preventing gay marriage. They believe in...

MATTHEWS: Well, that said...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: No, no, no. But -- but, you know, say on the tax policy, they
fought against on raising taxes on the rich -- 60, 70 percent of the public
agreed with the president on that.

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: So they`re marginalized on a lot of policy matters, and I`ll say the
stupid comments don`t help, but that`s not the big issue here.

MATTHEWS: OK, coming out for lower taxes is not going to get you defeated.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Coming out for cutting government spending, generally
speaking...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: ... protecting the rich!

MATTHEWS: I know. Why don`t they stick to their strong points? Anyway --
the sweet spots. Anyway, Republicans looked ridiculous this week, I
believe, when they decided to go after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
who is riding so high in the polls right now. Why did they go after her?
At the very point she was at her strongest, they attacked. Let`s take a
look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m glad that you`re accepting
responsibility. I think that, ultimately, with your leaving, you accept
the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that.
Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the
cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens,
I would have relieved you of your post. I think it`s inexcusable. Not to
know of the request for securities (ph), really I think cost these people
their lives.

REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Madam Secretary, you let the
consulate become a death trap, and that`s national security malpractice.
You`ve said you take responsibility. What does responsibility mean, Madam
Secretary? You`re still in your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let me get this straight, first of all. Let me start with
Joy here. You are a woman. I think there is a sex aspect to this, a
gender aspect. They treated her like they were reproaching her...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... like it was their job to reproach her. Now, here`s a line
that completely doesn`t square. One guy says she`s leaving her job because
she`s been basically fired. He says, I think that, ultimately, that with
your leaving, you accept the culpability. Well, everybody knows that
Secretary Clinton has decided months and months ago...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... that she was -- or maybe not -- years ago -- she was going
to serve one presidential term. Here he is, dishonestly -- I think
(INAUDIBLE) where you can say a man`s being dishonest -- saying she`s
leaving out of shame or out of some sort of recognition of her guilt.
That`s just not true. Your thoughts.

REID: And this is the same crowd that said she was too afraid to testify,
right? And then you`ve got Snidely Whiplash Rand Paul up there being
completely disrespectful to her, as if he would ever be commander-in-
chief...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who is Snidely Whiplash?

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: Dudley Do-Right...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Dudley Do-Right, whatever. I mean, but the idea, first of all --
they don`t understand their problem. This is what comes from only talking
to each other and listening to the Rush Limbaughs that call women "babes"
and think that that`s OK.

The idea that you could stand up and disrespect the most popular political
figure in the country, and a woman, to her face in a completely
disrespectful way, it`s of a piece with the Susan Rice treatment. Oh,
she`s not smart enough to be secretary of state.

CORN: Yes.

REID: We need to have this man...

MATTHEWS: Who said that?

REID: That was John McCain. John McCain.

MATTHEWS: John McCain, yes.

REID: So I mean, this whole disrespect toward women, the idea women can`t
control their own reproduction -- Oh, they`re not smart. We need to
protect them from...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So you`ve got a lazy black president and we`ve got stupid
women...

REID: Exactly.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The cliches that these -- are like out of something holler (ph)
back in the 1920s.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Where do they get this stuff from?

CORN: This is all part of Planet Republican. I mean, they`re viewing --
they`re not viewing the demographics right. They`re not viewing the
policies right. And their tone -- they`re tone deaf again and again!

MATTHEWS: What are they up to?

CORN: I think...

MATTHEWS: They`re not -- are they playing to their base maliciously?

CORN: I think they`re watching Fox TV too much.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who do they think they are winning with?

CORN: Well, Rand Paul won, you know, this very contested Senate GOP race
in Kentucky by playing to the Tea Party base. That`s how he got...

MATTHEWS: In a non-presidential year.

CORN: In a non-presidential year in a small...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... we`re looking to a non-presidential year, and it could just
be...

CORN: And that`s...

MATTHEWS: ... and could just be what they`re up to here is just riling up
their base because they know that`s who shows up at the polls. And the
middle-of-the-road voter who has had other things to think about isn`t
really paying attention.

CORN: And it`s going back to Clinton bashing, which is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: One last question. Joy, didn`t you think that the poison in the
anti-Hillary thing from the right that went on for all those years was
gone? Weren`t you surprised by this attack again yesterday...

REID: No.

MATTHEWS: ... on so many fronts?

REID: I wasn`t -- no, because they see her as a potential presidential
candidate, and obviously a strong one, in 2016. These were preemptive
strikes by people like Rand Paul, who styles himself presidential material.
These were back benchers in the Senate trying to make a name for themselves
off of her. So I wasn`t surprised by it.

But look, one other point here. I think that when these guys look at the
Tea Party, they still see winners, even though we see them as tremendous
losers. They look at what they see as moderates, people like Mitt Romney,
and they see losers. So they feel like the stronger they are, the more
that they`re forthright with their opinions, they think they`re winning.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... back to those meetings and the people in the back row
yelling, You really showed her! You showed her!

REID: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I love the way you went after her. Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And thank you...

REID: Have a great weekend.

MATTHEWS: ... David Corn. You, too. You`re both smart people, obviously,
and you`re both mostly right here, in fact. I just think there`s a little
craziness in this. I don`t think it is rational.

Anyway, coming up: Coincidence in the age of conspiracy. Why do so many
people believe in conspiracy theories? I`m getting to some of the crazy.
The fact is, the more you know, you`re less likely to believe in them,
except Republicans. The more they read the papers, or at least the papers
they do read, or watch Fox, they`re more likely to believe in conspiracy
theories. Well, say the word, Fox.

Anyway, also, the Obama/Clinton alliance gets ready for its next close-up.
Barack and Hillary Clinton have been partners for four years, and now
they`re doing a joint interview on "60 Minutes." This is like they`re
politically married. This is a fascinating event, the President of the
United States with a duet with the secretary of state. This is big-time.
Something is up here. Something`s up.

And what must Joe Biden be thinking about what he`s -- what`s he going to
watch Sunday night?

And can you rig it? Republicans in five battleground states are looking to
change the electoral vote system again, to rig it so Republicans win. The
2012 result that looked like this in those five battleground states where
Obama won all the electoral votes would look like this, with the Democrat
only winning a third of them. That`s all they have to do. Anyway, I guess
if you can`t get people to vote for you, you stack the deck.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with all this buzz about the collection of
memorabilia about the life of Jack Kennedy. Big story there.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, another one`s quitting. Republican senator Saxby
Chambliss of Georgia is retiring. Chambliss announced today that he won`t
run for a third term when he`s up for reelection next year. Chambliss has
been criticized by conservatives for leading the Gang of Six in an attempt
to broker a deficit deal. It was widely expected he`d face a primary
challenge on his right flank.

Among the conservatives considering a Senate run is Congressman Paul Broun,
the guy who calls evolution "lies from the pit of hell" and that just this
week said President Obama`s upholding the Soviet constitution. The right
is leaning right again, and we`re losing people. We`re betting off with
people like Saxby Chambliss who are trying to be reasonable.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. You can see the snow behind me here
at the White House is like one of those things you turn upside-down.

Anyway, how about conspiracy theories? It turns out it depends on your
party affiliation whether you believe in them. You`re probably not
surprised to hear that more Republicans than Democrats are birthers, for
example. But a new Fairleigh Dickinson poll shows nearly two thirds of
Republicans, 64 percent, believe the president is hiding some specific
information about where he was born.

How about fixing elections? More than a third of Democrats think George W.
Bush`s supporters probably rigged the election in Ohio back in 2004 through
voter fraud, including a majority of African-Americans. About the same
number of Republicans, 36 percent, think Obama`s supporters did the same
thing to win last November, although there was no evidence of any cheating
or anything, even a machine foul-up.

And think back to 9/11. More than a third of Democrats are part of the
truther crowd -- you know, the people who believe President Bush knew about
the attacks before they happened -- as do nearly 60 percent of African-
Americans.

Well, the difference in the parties is the knowledge base. Republicans who
know more about the news are actually more likely to believe conspiracy
theories fueled by right-wing media like Fox.

Well, Dan Cassino is a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson
University, who he conducted this poll, and Michael Smerconish, national
syndicated radio host and MSNBC contributor brought it to our attention.

So Michael, you brought this to our attention. I just want to get you as a
generalist like me -- what do you think this told you that surprised you,
this poll?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it
reinforced what I`ve suspected all along, which is that the business model
at the far right is predicated on fear, that they scare the crap out of
people.

There`s never any accountability. For some reason, Chris, people don`t
remember six months later that they were told there was another catastrophe
looming, and therefore hold those members of the media accountable. They
still stay tuned in, whether it`s talk radio or Fox or some other oracle
that`s on the right.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s almost like an addiction to being afraid.

Let me ask you, Mr. Cassino, our professor. Help me out on this. What did
you decide that you learned here. What-- as just a person doing this kind
of clinical study, what do you think was surprising in terms of brain soup
here, different brain soup, the way people`s brains work, right and left?

DAN CASSINO, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY: The big deal here is that
there really does seem to be something of an asymmetry.

Now, both sides tend to believe in conspiracy theories. Conspiracy
theories are not something we just see on the right. The right and the
left are embracing them. The big difference is these informational
effects. And that`s really what was most interesting to me.

When -- generally we expect that the more you know about the world, the
less likely you`re going to be to believe in these conspiracy theories.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CASSINO: And we find that`s just not the case for everyone.

And I think that is something because of the informational content of
right-wing media. If you`re a Republican, you search out more information
on these conspiracy theories. If you turn on FOX News, you are going to
wind up not getting more corrective information.

When FOX News covered this very poll, it was Tucker Carlson talking about
how absurd it is that there was all this belief in conspiracy theories and
then asking why President Obama hadn`t released his college transcripts.

(LAUGHTER)

CASSINO: So there is something with the informational content on the
right.

(LAUGHTER)

CASSINO: And I have done past research...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s called balanced -- that`s called -- what`s it called,
fair and balanced. You always have allowance for the crazy people as well
as the sane people.

You know, Michael, you`re enjoying this, because I got a couple things
here. Let`s start with this thing about birthers.

The president released his official birth certificate. Like, he had to go
through the humiliation, I believe, of going to Honolulu and asking them to
release the documents that normally aren`t released. OK, he got it over
with.

Why wasn`t that enough? Why did any sane person at that point forward have
any questions? What more could you ask? You have to believe that
everything was cooked not to buy the facts.

SMERCONISH: They are masters -- they are masters at taking kernels of
truth and wrapping them in tremendous fiction and then weaving it together
in a way that sounds like it could all make sense.

There`s never any sort of drill-down moment where people say, wait a
minute, time-out, let`s analyze this and think about all the things that
would have had to take place and all the people who would have had to be
involved for any of this to be true.

The great example I think recently is Benghazi, and we just came through
those hearings yesterday. Instead of legitimate concern about the death of
four Americans and making sure that we`re protected, it was all about what
did Ambassador Rice say when she went on those shows, why was she out
there, why wasn`t Hillary? It was crazy.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. Well, let`s go over the African-American piece of
this.

How do you explain that, Professor? Is this -- I know we have so much
segregation still in our society where people don`t have access to maybe
centers of power as much as other people do. Is that it? It`s just -- you
don`t know anybody that works in the State Department? You don`t know
anybody who works City Hall or do you do -- how do you explain this
differential between white and black on this thing?

CASSINO: I think there are two big things going on

The first is that people who are generally out of power, who feel like the
center of powers are more distant from them are more likely to believe in
conspiracies, because they just see what is going on. They don`t feel like
they have any control.

The second thing that is going on with African-Americans is they actually
have been the subject of conspiracies in the past. We had the syphilis
experiments at Tuskegee.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CASSINO: So there have been some actual conspiracies that have targeted
them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So the worst-case scenario turned out to be true.

CASSINO: Absolutely.

The third thing that`s happening is that we do see that African-Americans
have much stronger differential in terms of how much they like Republicans
and Democrats. Essentially, African-Americans like Democrats way more than
they like Republicans. African-Americans are to the Democratic Party what
essentially the entire Republican Party is to the Republican Party.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I thought that was well-said.

You know, Michael, this didn`t start -- just so we don`t think we`re the
only people on the planet, this generation. My dad worked in Navy
intelligence in Philadelphia, down in South Philly all through the war. He
was enlisted guy, a chief petty officer.

But he -- near the end of his life, and I love my dad -- he would still
believe that Roosevelt had something to do with Pearl Harbor, that he knew
it was coming and -- because he wanted to get in the war against the Nazis.
I mean, this isn`t -- is this -- your experience of talking on the radio
with people, do you sense that this idea that there`s always some liberal
in Washington doing something and horrible to the country, like letting us
get attacked and losing our Pacific fleet on purpose, which would have been
not only grounds for impeachment, but for execution, if he got ever caught
doing something like that.

I don`t care if he was Roosevelt.

SMERCONISH: I think -- I think what separates that from this -- Chris, I`m
always willing to give a good ear to a conspiracy theory. They`re
entertaining.

But what`s different is now they`re being presented in a cohesive fashion
for a political purpose, and they have never let up on this guy. Listen,
if I only relied on Drudge for my news, I would hate him, too.

It`s remarkable to me the level of coordination and how the echo chamber is
all functioning as moving parts of the same machinery these days, and the
danger is that there are some among us who only get their news from these
outlets. And they were totally blindsided in the election.

MATTHEWS: Right.

SMERCONISH: It was like a truck hit them because they didn`t believe that
there were other Americans out there who weren`t listening to the same sort
of things that they were. That`s the danger of it.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s great. Well, we know Republicans are a self-
selecting group who tend to congregate together, but nothing summed that up
better than the former chairman of the main Republican Party who was
stunned to hear blacks had voted there on Election Day.

Let`s watch this bit of whatever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE WEBSTER, MAINE REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: In some parts of rural
Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted
Election Day. Everybody has the right to vote, but nobody in town knows
anybody that is black. How did it happen? I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Professor?

(LAUGHTER)

CASSINO: Well...

MATTHEWS: That testimony by a Republican that the blacks showed up at the
voting booths and nobody had seen blacks before; therefore, they must be
from somewhere else. It could be that they live in a segregated community.
Just a guess.

CASSINO: Well, so people on both sides tend to believe that there`s some
sort of conspiracy, that there is a stolen election because they don`t know
anyone who votes for the other party.

On both sides are...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CASSINO: ... networks -- when we talk about politics, are pretty
homogeneous. Democrats tend to congregate Democrats. Republicans tend to
congregate with Republicans. We don`t know anyone who voted for the other
guy, and as a result we don`t know how this possibly could have happened.

MATTHEWS: I think there`s so much political cocooning in this country, so
much hiding within your own political network. And Michael knows all about
it. People live in their own world so much, they don`t even know the
larger country.

Michael Smerconish, as always, thanks for giving us this great story.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And, Professor Cassino, thanks for joining us from Fairleigh --
Fairleigh Dickinson.

Up next: Seamus, roll over. We have got another politician with a dog
story coming up next in the "Sideshow." By the way, Seamus just keeps on
giving, the dog on the roof, all the way to Canada. It`s cold up there.

The place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Ready for the opposite of Mitt Romney`s Seamus on the roof story? Dog
lovers will appreciate this one. Enter Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Twitter
was buzzing with reports that a dog had been found left outside in the
freezing cold last night. Well, Booker reported to the scene and carried
the dog to a heated cop car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY BOOKER (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: This is brutal weather out
here. This dog is shaking really bad, and you just can`t leave our dogs
out on a day like this and go away.

If you could crank up that heat, I would appreciate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s like all the way Joe Biden, isn`t it?

It turns out the dog`s owner was out of town and did not know that his dog
had gotten out. Booker has a knack, by the way, for showing up when danger
strike. You may remember back in April this year when he rescued a woman
from a burning house. Last month, Booker announced that he`s exploring a
run for Senate in 2014, though he still -- we still don`t know whether the
sitting senator, Frank Lautenberg, who is 89 years old, plans to run for
reelection.

Next, here is some Republican logic you may not have heard before. We need
restrictive election laws to protect people`s right not to vote. Here is
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp explaining how things like same-day
registration can infringe on individual liberties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN KEMP, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we do have to have
commonsense protections to make sure that our roles are secure to stop
potential voter fraud. This whole issue I think with dealing about -- with
the federal government and universal registration and same-day registration
and all these different buzzwords really gets down to the individual
freedoms of people in our state and Americans in general and their ability
to decide for themselves, yes, I want to register to vote and participate
in the process or, no, that I don`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, here is a buzzword for you, sir: democracy.

When did universal and same-day registration become ways of forcing people
to vote?

Finally, a Clinton-approved response to Wednesday`s hearings on Benghazi.
"New York" magazine got a kick out of all the times Clinton adjusted her
glasses during the hearing and paired them with some captions. For
example, the "Is this dude for real?" adjustment, the "That`s a fine point
you made in my favor" adjustment, finally, the "I`m so going to veto all of
your bills when I`m president" adjustment.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: As it turns out, those lenses are designed to treat lingering
vision issues Clinton is experiencing from her recent concussion.

When "New York" magazine reached out to office on that matter, they got a
confirmation and something extra -- quote -- "With them on, she sees just
fine. In fact, she got a kick out of your seven expressions and captions
when she saw them crystal-clear."

Up next: the Obama/Clinton alliance. Now, this is fascinating. President
Obama and Hillary Clinton do a joint interview Sunday night on "60
Minutes." It`s coming up. What does that say about who the president
might support to replace him as president? This is a big deal, those two
going on together as a couple really.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

The Dow jumped 70 and the S&P on an eight-day winning streak, the longest
since 2004. It gained eight points, and the Nasdaq up 19.

Exxon took a bite out of Apple today, surpassing the iPhone-maker as the
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surged a second day, up 15 percent on better-than-expected earnings.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will cap off a remarkable week with
perhaps an even more remarkable event, a joint sit-down interview on "60
Minutes" this Sunday with President Obama. As Secretary Clinton
transitions from public life to private life, anything she does will be
studied for clues to her future and a potential presidential run.

A joint appearance with the president can only add to the speculation.

Ed Rendell is of course former governor of Pennsylvania and MSNBC analyst.
And Marjorie Margolies is a former member of Congress from Pennsylvania, a
professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and president of the nonprofit
Women`s Campaign International, which advocates for women`s equality around
the world. And she`s also -- her son, by the way, Marc, is married to
Chelsea Clinton.

I don`t know which one of you knows more about the Clintons. I`m going to
take a guess and go to Marjorie.

Professor, don`t laugh.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`m trying to figure this out. First of all, I thought
Secretary Clinton was a smash hit this week. And she was lucky...

MARJORIE MARGOLIES (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: She was magnificent.
She was great.

MATTHEWS: ... to have been backed by some jackals. The jackals made her
look even better.

MARGOLIES: I think so.

MATTHEWS: They may have gotten her attention, her passions up once or
twice, but didn`t hurt her a bit.

My sense is this. What do you make of the relationship now between the
president personified or pictured by the fact that I have never heard of a
president of the United States share time on "60 Minutes," going on a
public affairs program with another person as a colleague? That`s a hell
of a statement of almost peerage, of equality. Your thoughts about what it
means politically?

MARGOLIES: I just think she`s remarkable.

And I think this relationship has been extremely special. She was able in
the beginning to accept a post that was perfect for her, perfect. I have
been with her in places where you -- implicit in what you said -- she just
knows how to deal with people.

I think this is a wonderful chance for both of them. It`s what we should
be all about. It`s what he says this is what America is all about. She is
-- I mean, I was there in -- I was there in Congress when she appeared
before the Energy -- Energy and Commerce, when she was presenting health
care, when she was talking about health care.

And we left the chambers, and the other side, the Republicans, were saying,
whoa, she`s fantastic. She`s a debater, she`s a humanitarian, she`s
amazing. And I think this is exactly the perfect capper for both of them.

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the president`s investment in her now, Governor?
Right now, he`s making an investment in her by showing up with her on "60
Minutes." Or is it a thank you or is it an investment?

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it`s a little of both.

Hillary has a favorable rating that`s about 20 points higher than the
president`s. So, she might be helping him a little bit, too, reminding
people of I think the best single decision President Obama made was
appointing his rival to be secretary of state. And the relationship they
have forged is a great relationship that really has opened the eyes of many
around the country.

So is it at tribute to Hillary that he`s doing this? Of course it is.
Does it mean necessarily that if Hillary decides to run for president, that
President Obama will be for her? No. President Obama also feels a
terrific debt of gratitude towards Vice President Biden.

But I think, in the end, the president might play the role of talking to
the vice president and saying, look, you can`t stand in the way of history.
This is history. It`s a tidal wave. You have done a great job, but this
is not something you should get involved in, in trying to beat back...

MATTHEWS: Well, Governor...

RENDELL: ... because it`s pretty hard to beat back history.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think you`re right. I think everything you said is right
but the timing is so tricky here.

At some point, Joe Biden has to get the heads up that Hillary is running
and then make his moves accordingly. He can`t go out there and put an
exploratory committee together and start raising money, start talking to
heavyweights like you and others if he doesn`t know what the situation is.
If he thinks she`s not going to run, he ought to go right ahead. If he
doesn`t she`s running --

RENDELL: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- he has to makes -- so, doesn`t he have to get a heads up
within the next six months or so, so you can get out of this game if it`s
not his to win? Last thought on that?

RENDELL: Yes, and I think the person who might broker that, Chris, is the
president of the United States, who I think does care about what the future
holds and cares about a Democrat succeeding him. So, he`s in the best
position to broker that.

But you`re absolutely right. If Hillary doesn`t run, Joe is the odds on
favorite.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about her possibly winning, I don`t -- running
and winning. I think she`ll win if she runs.

Marjorie, let me ask you about this, it seems there`s a new talk out there,
I`ve never seen this before, but Chuck Todd opened it up today, for a
president to be truly transformational in the Reagan model, although Reagan
did stay out of that fight between Dole and Bush for his succession. You
have to have three terms in a row. You have to break serve in a sense.
You`ve to get that third presidential win, because that`s what establishes
the fact you`ve changed the direction of American politics.

If this president wants to have three terms in a row won by his party,
isn`t he smart to go with Hillary because you and I know and everybody
knows people our age, women, are all going to vote for Hillary. It`s just
going to be a smash and half the men will vote for her at least. That`s a
75 percent win. I know we`ve never seen anything like that but I think
it`s possible. Your thoughts?

MARJORIE MARGOLIES (D-PA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: I have been
surprised at how many people have come over to me, especially Republicans,
and said if Hillary runs, I`m there, please tell her I`m there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MARGOLIES: I think it`s too early though. I honestly do not know whether
she is -- whether she thinks the answer is yes.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MARGOLIES: You know, I tell her, I said listen to what they`re saying out
there, and she will say something like that I know that`s what they`re
saying. I think she needs to get to rest. She needs to get her mojo back.

MATTHEWS: You didn`t think she had all that yesterday?

MARGOLIES: I don`t think she`s going to be bored.

MATTHEWS: Come on, Marjorie, I thought she had all she needed at that
hearing the other day. She was -- look, it`s very uncomfortable for men to
talk about women`s appearance, but the appearance was great. Her
appearance was great. Her performance was strong, confident --

MARGOLIES: Perfect. Perfect.

MATTHEWS: -- charging, and wistful at times and, of course, passionate at
times. When she was challenged on her honor or integrity, you`ve got to
whip back.

MARGOLIES: Oh, and she --

MATTHEWS: If you don`t think that was ready, I don`t know what you`re
looking for. Forcing you to say what I want you to say. Go ahead.

MARGOLIES: Yes, right. Well, I`m not going to say it.

MATTHEWS: Do you want her to run?

MARGOLIES: Oh, listen, I think that she would -- by the way, I adore Joe
Biden. I love Joe Biden.

I think Hillary would make a fabulous president.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MARGOLIES: Honestly, you know, Colin Powell said in one of his very first
attempts to negotiate with the Russians, he was sitting across the table
saying I don`t like these people I have been brought up to hate them.

But Hillary -- what Hillary does so well is she brings humanity.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MARGOLIES: She understands -- I have been working with her a lot on
women`s issues around the world. And her understanding of the need to get
women to the table and to protect children is so extraordinary. By the
way, I think Kerry will do a good job with it but nobody is going to come
up to the ankles of Hillary with regard to how much she cares about women
and children around the world.

MATTHEWS: But I think Kerry is going to be a hell of a secretary of state.
I think he was bred for it. He grew up with it.

Governor Rendell, it`s always curious to watch you. I love this
conversation. You know I get a kick out of this conversation anytime
you`re on because I know you. You`re as in bed with the Clintons as
Marjorie is.

Anyway, thank you both, Marjorie Margolies. You know, technically. Thank
you.

Up next -- it`s great to have on the good guys.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next, the big rig. Republicans in key battleground states
are trying to change the rules of the Electoral College and rig the system
so they can win without getting the most votes. Of course, to Republicans
that`s not the problem. The system is the problem. They`d rather just win
the thing any way they can and that`s ahead.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-U.S. FIRST LADY: You know, I`m not sitting here as
some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I`m sitting here
because I love him and I respect him and I honor what he`s been through and
what we`ve been through together. And, you know, if that`s not enough for
people, then, heck, don`t vote for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Vice President Joe Biden held a round table discussion on gun
safety today in Richmond. Biden was joined by Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Tim Kaine of
Virginia, and experts who worked on gun safety after the horrific shootings
at Virginia Tech back in `07.

Meantime, gun safety supporters are about to get a compelling new leader --
former U.S. Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords and her husband,
Mark Kelly, the astronaut, are vowing to do whatever it takes for new gun
safety measures. And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

We`ve been reporting this week on efforts by Republicans in some states to
change the way votes are counted in order to give Republicans a major
advantage in future presidential elections. It`s an effort that has picked
up the most steam so far in Virginia. The legislation was introduced there
that would allocate their electoral votes based on congressional districts
instead of winner-take-all, the system we have now.

The goal seems obvious, to dilute the urban vote -- actually, the ethnic
vote or the black vote or whatever you call it. Last night, I called it
Mickey Mouse gimmick to win elections without having to actually win the
most number of votes. Thankfully, not all Republicans have joined the
Mickey Mouse Club on this one and there are indications today, good news
for everybody, that the Virginia bill might be heading toward defeat.

State Senator Ralph Smith, a Republican, said this morning he thought the
plan was a bad idea, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also said today he
was opposed to it.

Also, today, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told Andrea Mitchell
he was skeptical of the plan. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: I like it the way it is,
but as I say, I`m more of a more of a traditionalist conservative. If
people want to do that, it`s obvious that states have the right to do that.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Republican legislatures in Michigan, in
Pennsylvania, in Ohio, are proceeding with it. I`m just asking is this the
right move for the party nationally?

BARBOUR: As I said, I would not be for it. I don`t think there`s any sort
of national movement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, more Republicans come to their senses. We`ll see.

Steve Kornacki is the host of -- actually co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE"
every afternoon.

And Hilary Shelton is senior vice president for policy and advocacy at the
NAACP.

Mr. Shelton, thank you for this.

When you first heard about this, what did it smell like to you? What was
your sense of why people would be doing this kind of thing? Breaking up
the states in Electoral College, have them vote by C.D. so that the rural
states would have more clout. What did you smell when you saw that?

HILARY SHELTON, NAACP: Well, it seemed like a real fraudulent approach to
try to undercut the process to try to win elections regardless of the
consequences. At a time when we should be moving as a nation, to make sure
we`re more democratic in the process, so more Americans can participate, to
make sure that the outcome of our elections are consistent with the popular
decisions made by those going to the polls, we have this move to undercut
all of that.

It`s a big problem and it really stinks in us in so many ways.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. Just talking about the state I grew up, in
Pennsylvania, where you have a large minority population in Philadelphia.
You know, it`s not all black, it`s half and half. But the fact is, that`s
where the Democratic Party`s base is. And you`ve got an 85 percent turn
out for the Democratic Party for President Obama.

Basically, all of those votes would be treated like any other C.D. In
other words, no matter how many, they won the city by -- your party won the
city by -- Democrats by 500,000 in Philadelphia, plurality. That would all
be ignored by this new system. You know what`s going on here. What
they`re saying is ignore the numbers, go to county by county, basically,
counting this thing.

SHELTON: Well, absolutely. And then we take a good look, what ends up
happening is we have to figure out some way to rectify how it is that
Americans came out and said it`s one of the effective democracies on the
face of the earth and voted. But somehow or another, the popular vote
didn`t match up with the Electoral College vote, but the person was elected
into the presidency anyway. That doesn`t sound like democracy to me. It`s
also some of our friends throughout the world would hold us accountable
for.

MATTHEWS: Well, we got Bush that way. So, you got the eight years of
Bush, at least the first four.

Well, let me go to Steve.

What do you think of it, Steve? It does seem like there`s some hesitancy
here. Even though they can technically say this is fair it smells. It
looks like an attempt to kill the minority vote in the big cities. That`s
what it looks like.

STEVE KORNACKI, CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": But it`s more than that. First of
all, no, I don`t think it`s going to happen. It`s not going to happen in
Virginia. And I don`t ultimately think it`s going to happen in these other
states.

But what it speaks to, it`s not just trying to sort of isolate the minority
vote. It speaks to how the sort of emerging Democratic coalition that`s
African American, that`s Hispanic, that`s also of single women, that`s
young professional, that coalition, more than ever, is tightly bunched in
metropolitan areas, cities indirectly around cities.

There`s a statistic that`s floating around, I think Dave Wasserman from the
Cook Report came up with this. If you look back in 1988 when Michael
Dukakis got slaughtered by George Bush, Sr., Michael Dukakis carried over
800 counties nationally that year.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KORNACKI: Barack Obama this year winning by 5 million nationally, won
fewer than 700 counties. That`s how tightly packed in today`s Democratic
coalition is. It`s enough to win the popular vote by 5 million votes
nationally. But it`s not spread out. And so, you get blue state after
blue state. If you went to this congressional-based system, Romney would
have won the election last November.

MATTHEWS: That`s because people who are liberal like to live in cities.
Gay people I think go to big cities. I think these are patterns we`ve seen
a long time ago.

Anyway, when people say this is an effort to steal the election, this
attempt by the Republicans, here`s what they mean -- if electoral votes
were divvied up by congressional district in 2012 election, we`d be
reporting on Mitt Romney`s first week in the White House tonight.

Here`s a map from 2012 president race of states Obama versus states Romney
won. That`s the usual electoral map we use in this country. If the
Republican plan was put in place nationally this past year, you`d have to
replace that map with this one. All of those districts in red are all
electoral points for Mitt Romney.

What does this mean? It means even though Barack Obama won by nearly 5
million votes and carried the Electoral College by 232 (ph) to 206. If the
Republican was in place, we would have lost to Romney, he would have lost
to Romney 262 to 276.

What do you think would happen? Let me ask you, how active is the NAACP,
Mr. Shelton, fighting this? Are you in the court on this? Are you out in
the legislatures? Or how hot are you getting on this thing?

SHELTON: Primarily, in the legislatures right now, our state conferences
in Virginia and Pennsylvania and other places, have introduced these
measures are very actively engaged. We`ve seen what happens when you
redistrict, when you reapportion after the census. We know the games that
are played and what is probably the most highly partisan process that we
have in our political system.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SHELTON: Now, take that and use that determine how we`re going to elect
our president. What we have in that case is yet an undercut system that is
so important.

MATTHEWS: Right, right. It just ramifies the whole thing. There`s enough
crap going on at the state level without making it a national problem.
Anyway, thank you, Steve Kornacki and well said, Mr. Hilary Shelton at the
NAACP.

When we return, let me finish with the excitement of this new collection of
memorabilia from the life of Jack Kennedy. I know all about this stuff.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with all of this buzz about this new
collection of memorabilia about the life of Jack Kennedy. It turns out
that Dave Power, Kennedy`s aide-de-camp, was hording a lot of good things,
from Jack`s bomber jacket, to all kinds of autograph pictures and books,
the kind of stuff that people pay a fortune for it in rare books stores.

Look, I`m with them. There are few figures in American life that would
inspire people to spend big money just to have a relic of Jack Kennedys.
People want to hold them, often deep into the night, as a connection to a
lost hero for all of us, each in our own way, we try to bring back people
we`ve lost through pictures or other favorite parts of their lives.

I expect these Kennedy memorabilia will fetch a good deal of money when
they go out for auction. But, of course, as you might expect, I`ve got a
better alternative, my book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero." It will not
only remind you of Jack, it will remind you of why you care. That he
really was quite a hero and quite a president.

That`s the show. Thanks for watching. It`s been HARDBALL -- what a great
week it`s been for politics.

"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.
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