updated 2/11/2013 12:38:34 PM ET 2013-02-11T17:38:34

HARDBALL
February 8, 2013

Guests: Cynthia Tucker, John Feehery, Steve McMahon, David O. Russell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fight on the right.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

And "Let Me Start" tonight with this horror show happening on the right.
As I speak, you can hear the rumble of right versus right vitriol. Fingers
are wagging angrily, even crazily, in every direction now.

Karl Rove, the architect of the Iraq war, the escapee from the CIA scandal,
the proud sponsor of the conservative feats in 2006 and 2008 who wasted fat
cat money by the tens of millions, that Karl Rove is thumping around the
country right now like a wounded elephant, threatening to crush the party`s
fringes.

Tea Partiers, look out! He may not be able to beat Democrats but he`s got
big, bad you in his sights. And so the fight has begun. Wild Steve King,
Tea Party general Matt Kibbe, the infamous Joe Walsh, Rush Limbaugh, Mark
Levin, Paul Broun, all the inhabitants of the cuckoo nest are scrambling
because Karl Rove, the professional promoter of the grand realignment, is
drawing lines in the sand.

Want Republicans to win? Cut out the crazies, he says. Want to beat the
Democrats? Stop giving them easy targets, rape candidates and witches and
"2nd Amendment remedy" types. Stop making the Democrats look smart and
reasonable by running stupid and crazy candidates.

Well, the joy is -- I have to say this, and it`s really quite funny -- is
that each of the right-wing factions thinks that they are the sane ones.
They are the ones who have to protect the party from the others.

Well, tonight the duel to the death drives deeper. It`s do or die, fight
to the death. The winners get to run against Hillary Clinton. The losers
get to say it`s not their fault they lost.

Wait a minute. That doesn`t make any sense. And neither does this fight
on the right for the right to say you`re right.

And with me tonight are two MSNBC political analysts Joy Reid of TheGrio
and David Corn from "Mother Jones."

Joy, it really is a joy to watch this, to watch Rove running around in some
sort of new Matt Dillon...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... cleaning up the party, cleaning up Main Street from all the
bad guys, when, in fact, many people would say that Karl Rove has been the
problem from -- well, since 2000 when he brought us W.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Absolutely crazy. You nailed it. And I love the
way you called them the cuckoo`s nest because Karl Rove`s whole strategy
and the whole reason he`s considered such a smart guy in politics is he
found a way to convince the cuckoo`s nest that George W. Bush was really
their guy and to convince evangelicals, No, no, no, George W. Bush is
really your guy, and then to go to the business wing of the Republican
Party and say, Hey, guess what? George W. Bush is your guy.

I mean, this guy passed off neoconservatism as conservatism.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: He passed off the idea of endless war and nation building to
conservatives. He sold them a bill of goods, and what they got back was
Medicare part D, a ballooning deficit, and a financial crisis that
devastated the country, a failed war -- a war in Iraq -- sorry -- that was
ill-advised, to put it mildly.

And now the cuckoo`s nest who he cultivated as the ground troops, the shock
troops to win elections in 2000 and 2004, well, they think they`re in
charge and they`re not going to listen to him saying they`re not.

MATTHEWS: So what was the big thing with Karl Rove? Was it the -- did he
start a war to celebrate the tax cut or have a tax cut to celebrate the
war? I mean, he put it all together. Joy put it right. I forgot to
mention the prescription drug thing thrown in without financing it.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, right, right.
And you know, he did do a great job, you know, in the aughts, you know,
mobilizing and energizing the right-wing base to get behind George W. Bush.
And then he and others did a great job in the last few years under Barack
Obama of energizing them by demonizing Barack Obama and really pushing them
to the fringe.

And now he comes along and says, Wait a second, you`ve gone too far. This
monster that I`ve helped to create has gone too far, and I`m picking up the
pitchfork and I got my -- my -- my fire, my torches, and I`m going to go
door to door backed by billionaires in Texas to get...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don`t know this. This is New Testament stuff to me (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Joy, do you know the parable of the new -- of the unjust
steward, where the guy`s about to get sacked. He`s about to lose
everything. He goes around and cuts the deals with all the people his
bosses have been dealing with and gets his piece of the action. It`s an
interesting -- pretty secular values to some of this stuff.

Anyway, Rove went on Fox last night, Karl himself, to defend himself and to
profess his love for the Tea Party. What is he up to? His love -- he`s
trying to trashcan these people. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH SR. ADVISER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I love these groups
that are criticizing us saying, Well, they`re fake conservatives. Well, I
repeat, we spent $30 million for Tea Party Senate candidates and $25
million -- there`s no group that comes close to what Crossroads has done in
terms of...

BILL O`REILLY, HOST, "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": OK...

ROVE: ... financial support for Tea Party candidates!

O`REILLY: And we...

ROVE: And -- and the question is not...

O`REILLY: ... believe you.

ROVE: ... Tea Party or not -- it`s not the question of Tea Party or not,
it`s a question whether or not they`re a bad candidate or not!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So what does O`Reilly think of these people? I mean, O`Reilly
has an IQ. I may disagree with him, but he looks -- he must be looking at
Rove like, What`s your latest stuff here? I mean, what -- what are you
selling here?

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: You know...

REID: He might as well -- Karl Rove should have written on that
whiteboard, "I have no principles." Karl Rove doesn`t care what the
ideology is. He`s just selling a product.

Remember, he`s the guy who described the Iraq war as a product and said,
You don`t take a product to market in August. This guy is into power.

MATTHEWS: OK...

REID: He`s always been into just getting power for its own sake. I mean,
his first ever campaign that he was involved in was in college, when he
snuck onto the campaign of a Democrat running for something like treasurer
in Illinois and wrote those leaflets, which he`s distributed to homeless
shelters saying, For a good time and free women and liquor, come to my --
you know, come to this Democrat`s rally.

CORN: But you know, there is...

REID: This guy has no principles!

MATTHEWS: I just saw this guy dancing across the stage next to David
Gregory.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t mind seeing that all the time.

Anyway, Texas -- going -- sliding down the IQ scale here to Texas Governor
Rick Perry, he told Laura Ingraham today that the Tea Party isn`t at fault
for the losses racked up by Republicans lately. Let`s listen to Mr. Perry
-- Governor Perry.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I would suggest to you that people who try to
moderate their views to win a particular vote are going to be weaker and
weaker as time goes -- I think people want to see people they believe,
people they trust, and people that are going to be consistent in their
positions. So moderation from the standpoint of -- in pursuit of electoral
victory is a failure, in my opinion.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, every once in a while, somebody comes along in
politics who doesn`t know anything about politics.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Spiro Agnew would talk about people being squishy soft on
communism, unaware of the whole McCarthy period, 20 years of that kind of
talk getting you in nothing but trouble. Here`s a guy who calls himself a
Texas conservative, who has no memory or any knowledge of, apparently, the
history of modern conservatism.

When he said there that moderation gets you in trouble -- well, let`s
listen to Barry Goldwater, who cooked his party for years with this line
back in `64.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARRY GOLDWATER (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would remind you that
extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

GOLDWATER: Let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of
justice is no virtue!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, all I can say is wow, I mean, that kind of straight
from the hip right-wing talk, and there`s Perry with absolutely no
knowledge that this kind of talk that moderation weakens you -- you know,
civility doesn`t...

CORN: Well, don`t tell me -- don`t tell me you have any expectations that
Rick Perry...

MATTHEWS: OK. I`m just setting him up.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Let me put up something...

MATTHEWS: Are you accusing me of parodying these guys if I suggest they
might have had an IQ?

CORN: Yes. Let me (INAUDIBLE) Joy said, though. She talked about, you
know, Karl Rove in a very cynical way, and I agree with that. But at the
same time, there is a divide and there`s always been in the Republican
Party between the establishment crowd and the populist...

MATTHEWS: What side is Rove on?

CORN: Well, right now, he`s more establishment, but when a party is out of
power...

MATTHEWS: That`s what a party establishment looks like.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: Exactly. But when a party`s out of power, that`s when these
tensions come up and they start eating their own.

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: They can`t go after Barack Obama now, but in order to maintain their
own power and to have a debate...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: ... have this fight.

MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to the personal (ph). Anyway, Rush Limbaugh, big
surprise here, sided with the Tea Party earlier this week, saying Rove`s
plan will backfire on conservatives!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let`s watch.

(CROSSTALK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The establishment Republicans, the
inside-the-Beltway establishment types -- remember, these are the people --
they supported Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio! These are the brains.
These are the guys who are going to protect the Republican Party from you.

They also opposed Rand Paul. And remember, they supported Arlen Specter
over Pat Toomey, and on and on. There are countless examples.

The bottom line is they don`t have any better record at picking winners
than the, quote, unquote, "amateur" Tea Party types do. And even when they
pick winners, what do we end up winning? We get -- we get squishy
Republican moderates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There`s that squishy -- let`s take a look at...

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: They got tax hikes for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... have to remind ourselves of Karl Rove. And this is this
man. You know, they say a certain kind of bug or insect would survive a
nuclear war? We don`t have to use those terms, but we know which bug it
is.

Look at the rap sheet on this guy, Karl Rove, and how he continues to talk.
Let`s go down Memory Lane and remind ourselves, at least, if the right wing
doesn`t, of some of Karl Rove`s greatest hits, shall we?

As a top adviser to President George W. Bush, he sold the war in Iraq to
everybody, it seems, except some of us. He got off scot-free, even though
he was at the center of the CIA leak scandal, walked from that one. `;The
architect" couldn`t help a Republican majority in the 2006 mid-terms bring
the Democrats back to power in both the House and Senate for the first time
-- he blew it all on the table.

And in 2012, the Sunlight Foundation reported that Crossroads had a 1
percent -- 1 in $100 return -- on its election investments.

So Karl Rove failed putting together a Republican realignment, failed in
holding the House and the White House and the Senate, lost all that, got
involved in the CIA leak case, somehow got through that, where Scooter did
get caught, and the president -- actually, the vice president should have
been caught, loses tons and tons of money. You know, he`s like one of
these Japanese investors in the American film industry.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: They just -- they -- and loot them every couple years with their
latest projects because they don`t really get it, apparently, or else
they`re just gung-ho to get into Hollywood.

He`s taken so much money from people and lost so many races that he`s down
to $1 return on a $100. That`s not a good investment, Joy, and yet there
he is out there telling the Republican Party what it`s got to do is get rid
of the other guys, not him.

REID: No, absolutely, Chris. And I`m glad you played that clip from Rush
Limbaugh because in a lot of ways, Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh are very
much the same. They`re both using the same sort of know-nothing crowd,
those people in the hinterlands who are angry, who don`t understand why the
country is changing, who don`t really understand sort of the new America
they don`t feel comfortable in. And they`re both using them to sell a
product.

For Rush Limbaugh, it`s to get his advertisers there because terrestrial
radio is dying and he has to keep his show going. But for Karl Rove, it`s
the accumulation of power by tricking these people. You get the sense he
doesn`t necessarily respect the base of the Republican Party...

MATTHEWS: Terrestrial radio?

REID: He`s using them.

MATTHEWS: You know -- young lady, young lady, you`ve done it again!
You`re teaching me this business I`m in.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: What is terrestrial radio, as opposed to satellite?

REID: You know, radio on the radio -- radio as opposed to satellite, XM as
opposed to...

MATTHEWS: Terrestrial! When is the first time -- OK, clean up here!

REID: I used to be in radio.

MATTHEWS: When`s the first time you used that term in your life, first
time?

REID: Only because I used to be in the radio business.

MATTHEWS: OK.

REID: So when you`re in radio...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Terrestrial. It`s like "ET," terrestrial radio.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

CORN: But you know, Karl Rove needs a raison d`etre.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: He needs a reason to exist. He needs a niche...

MATTHEWS: I know French!

CORN: I know you know French.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: He needs a reason to exist. The Tea Party has gotten their -- you
know, their market share of the Republican product, so he needs...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Both of you guys, tell me this, what percentage of the regular
voting Republican Party, the party that voted for W -- I want to -- we`re
going to learn something tonight. Joy, you first. What percentage of the
regular Republican voter, the people who vote regular Republican for
Congress and president, is Tea Party-oriented, in other words, hard right?

REID: I think it`s a third. I think the Republican Party really is one
third evangelicals, one third Tea Party sort of know-nothings, and one
third business types.

MATTHEWS: Wow, the evangelicals and the hard right...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: ... Tea Party and the evangelicals blur...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, what percent...

CORN: ... talk about the primary electorate of the Republican Party, I
think you get over 50 percent in many states...

REID: That`s true.

CORN: ... are Tea Party-ish. And that`s the problem...

MATTHEWS: Sharron Angle. Sharron Angle, Christine O`Donnell...

CORN: And lookit, we see...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What happened to Bob Bennett? Good-bye!

CORN: It`s not changing.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. And Mike Lee, these guys come from that
world. Anyway, thank you, David Corn...

REID: And Chris -- oh, I`m sorry. Go ahead. No, I was just going to
say...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead. You finish up.

REID: ... the one thing that -- a real operative, if he was a real
political operative, Rove would have seen the demographic changes. That
was the core of this last election. He completely...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... give him a little credit. He tried to bring in the Latino
vote...

REID: Well, he did under Bush.

MATTHEWS: ... and he just couldn`t bring his party with him. Anyway,
thank you, David -- see, I said something nice about David...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Always say something nice about you. Anyway, thanks Joy Reid.
Have a nice weekend.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: You too, David Corn.

Coming up: How deep is the debate over drones? Well, critics on the
progressive left, some of them, and libertarian right have taken issue with
the Obama administration`s drone policy. This is a family dispute in my
house. Anyway, but polls show most Americans support, even most liberals,
if you will, even when it means killing Americans who are plotting with al
Qaeda to kill other Americans.

Plus, four senators -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- are really
working on a deal to expand at least background checks for gun sales. Two
of the four senators are members of the NRA. And if you can strike a deal
-- if they can -- then a big part of President Obama`s gun safety proposals
could be within reach.

Plus, the terrific movie "Silver Linings Playbook" puts mental illness in
the spotlight. Tonight, we`re joined by the director of that film, the
great David Russell, to talk about the issue and the Oscar history the
movie could make. And I think it`s got a shot.

And Texas governor Rick Perry escalates that war with California
counterpart -- he`s not even slightly a counterpart -- Jerry Brown`s so
much better. But that`s coming in the "Sideshow" tonight.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a surprise. (INAUDIBLE) really think it is one.
Who is the most popular political figure in America? Well, it shouldn`t
come as a big surprise. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, it`s Hillary
Clinton. The former secretary of state has a 61 percent favorability
rating, compared to President Obama is, who`s at 51, and Vice President
Biden, who`s at 46.

Other national leaders are much lower. House Speaker John Boehner`s at 20
percent favorable. That`s favorable, 20 percent, 1 in 5. Senator Marco
Rubio is at 27 percent -- that`s 1 in 4 -- and Paul Ryan is at 34 percent,
1 in 3.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. America`s drone warfare got a public
airing yesterday as President Obama`s pick to head the CIA went before
senators at his confirmation hearing. John Brennan strongly defended the
program of which he`s been called the chief architect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I think there`s a misimpression on the
part of some American people who believe that we take strikes to punish
terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the
truth.

We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there`s no
other alternative to taking an action that`s going to mitigate that threat.

So we need to make sure there`s an understanding. And the people that were
standing up here today, I think they really have a misunderstanding of what
we do as a government and the care that we take and the agony that we go
through to make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Brennan`s testimony had been interrupted -- there you see
-- by Code Pink five times by anti-war protesters. They`re called Code
Pink. They`re upset about the drones. But polls show, for the most part,
those protesters out there -- and they`re legitimate, certainly --
represent a small minority of this country.

Most Americans back using drones to carry out targeted assassinations. And
while senators took issue with the White House`s secrecy surrounding the
program, no one voiced any objections to the drones themselves. This is
going to be a hot discussion here, I think, too.

Cynthia Tucker is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia and Ron
Reagan is an MSNBC political analyst. You know, it`s great to have you on
because I think you`re both progressives, it`s fair to say.

And what struck me last night as I was driving home from Philadelphia last
night and I was listening to "THE ED SHOW" on radio, on satellite, and he
took one of those polls. Now, this question was hardly put together in a
way that`s justified one end of this answer, but it came out the other end,
I think.

Do you support the policy of targeted killings of American citizens? Now,
I would think maybe 1 percent would have said yes, the way this was
phrased. Do you support the policy of targeted killings of American
citizens? Seventy-eight percent said yes, a progressive audience that
watches and listens to E, a progressive audience, 78 percent while that
show was on the air. I think he was surprised by it. I was certainly
surprised by it.

Your thinking, Ron. I mean, this is a progressive audience and 4 out of 5
are saying, yes, get those bad guys. They`re turncoats. If they`re
Americans, they`re not one of us, they`re one of them now. Your thoughts.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, I think most Americans do
agree that if there are individuals, even Americans, who are imminently
planning to cause destruction and death in the United States, that we ought
to do something about it. We ought to interdict.

The question, though, it seems to me, is not whether we should do this at
all, but on whose say-so do we do it?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: Do we do it simply on the word of somebody in the executive branch
who has decided this American or some other individual needs to die and
we`re going to kill them, or is there some judicial review? We`re a
country of checks and balances. We`re a country that -- an administration
is supposed to be transparent.

If this is so justifiable, why was it so secret?

MATTHEWS: Well, why would you that Judge O`Leary gets called up at 3:00
and asked, is this OK? Why wouldn`t you trust the elected officials more?
Why would you think a justice in the middle of the night has to make a
judgment like this? Why would you trust him more?

REAGAN: Well, it`s at least another stop on the way to doing it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: You`re not leaving it up to one individual with a kill list who is
unilaterally deciding that this person needs to die.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: You`re going through some sort of process, so there`s a check,
there`s a balance there.

MATTHEWS: And you think a judge would stop this and have the guts to do
that if they knew, they`re told -- let`s imagine the conversation.

Cynthia, you pick up on this. Suppose you get a call in the middle of the
night or with a few hours` notice, you know, we have got a target, a high-
value target in Yemen. We believe this person is about to conduct an
operation against one of our ships in the Gulf. We got to stop them. We
have got the technology, we have got them in sights. Do we do it? The
judge is asked yes or no. How does he become...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How does he stop this and say I, of my own volition, say, tough,
tough, nuts, I`m not going to do it, let the guy do his thing? How do you
get that guy to say that, or woman?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: I don`t -- I don`t envision that
that`s the way the system would work.

The people who are placed on these kill lists are on there for at least
days, if not weeks or months, before the drone operators decide that this
is the moment where we have the right intelligence to act on taking them
out. So why not present that evidence to an independent review body at the
moment you believe you have enough evidence to say, these people represent
such a danger to the United States they need to be killed?

I don`t even care if that review happens after they`re already dead. It`s
better than no review at all. You know, I`m with Ron here. I don`t have -
- I`m a realist, and targeted killings have been part of U.S. policy for a
very long time. You know, the CIA tried many times to kill Fidel Castro.
It was just unsuccessful at it.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s...

TUCKER: I`m a realist.

MATTHEWS: Kill him, I`m not sure. But you would be -- I can`t deny it. I
know they tried to defoliate him, his beard. I know they tried to give him
hallucinogens in one of their broadcast booths. I`m pretty familiar with
this crazy stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCKER: The poison cigar I think was meant to kill him, but the point
being that I don`t want any single individual -- and, you know, I`m a
supporter of President Obama`s, but I don`t want any single individual, not
George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, to have the authority to say we`re going
to kill these people.

And nor do I want it to be Obama and a group of people over whom he has
authority. I don`t want it to be people in the military who answer to him.
I want it to be people of an outside branch of government who feel the
independence to disagree with the president.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well said.

Yesterday, presidents -- grilled John Brennan -- of course, he`s up for CIA
director -- about various aspects of this program, the drone program,
including the rights of Americans who might be on the kill list, Americans
themselves.

Take a look at how he answered a question on that from Senator Ron Wyden of
Oregon. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Do you believe that the president should
provide an individual American with the opportunity to surrender before
killing him?

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Any American who joins al Qaeda will
know full well that they have joined an organization that is at war with
the United States and that has killed thousands upon thousands of
individuals, many, many of them who are Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I guess -- let`s goes back to Ron to another tricky question.
We`d like to believe that being born in the United States under the 14th
Amendment entitles you to all the rights we -- all three of us have.
You`re entitled to full rights of American citizenship.

At what point do you yield that up in any kind of moral way that you think
you`re comfortable with? When do you yield it up?

REAGAN: Well, I think, if you put on the uniform, so to speak, of another
team and are looking to kill Americans and attack the United States of
America, that you have crossed a line, and now, you know, you`re going to
face the consequences.

MATTHEWS: What about domestic terrorists? What about domestic terrorists
in this country who tried to blow up and have blown up public facilities
because they`re enemies of the United States government at least, the way
they look at it?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: This raises a very interesting question when we talk about drones.

If the excuse for using drones is imminent threat to American lives, which
seems to be the rationale, well, what if that threat is coming from within
the United States? Are we going to fly a drone over, you know, Toledo,
Ohio, and target some house and send a missile into that house.

MATTHEWS: I know the answer to this one.

REAGAN: No, we`re not going to do this one. No, of course we`re not going
to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know the answer. We will send in the FBI and catch the
bastards. I`m sorry. That`s what we will do. We will catch them.

REAGAN: Yes. We will do that.

But there is another point that`s worth making here. The French
philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said when you choose for yourself, you
choose for all mankind. If we are OK sending drones over other countries
to kill American citizens or other individuals without that country`s
permission, we have to acknowledge then that when this technology spreads
to other countries, and it will, it`s not that sophisticated, that we`re OK
then with other governments doing the same thing in other countries.

And where does that lead exactly?

MATTHEWS: On the same program, both of you, we have heard the phrase
raison d`etre, and we have heard a reference to Jean-Paul Sartre.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`m very proud of our program tonight. I`m going into my
existential world tonight.

Anyway, thank you very much, Ron Reagan. I love Sartre anyway. I`m going
to quote him next week just to catch up with you.

And, Cynthia Tucker, thank you. Have a nice weekend.

Up next: Texas Governor Rick Perry escalates that fight -- well, it`s kind
of a tussle -- with California`s Jerry Brown. I`m betting on Brown on this
one.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now to the "Sideshow."

Some added heat on Perry vs. Jerry today. Earlier this week, I told you
about the tussle between the governors of our two biggest states, Texas and
California. Well, Rick Perry began running a radio ad out in California
trying to lure business owners to Texas, and Jerry Brown was unmoved by the
five-figure ad buy, or, as he put it:


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s not a burp. It`s barely a fart.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, it turns out Perry isn`t just sticking to the airwaves.
Next week, he will be showing up himself in California, cities like San
Francisco and Los Angeles, to keep up the move-to-Texas gimmick.

Anyway, a cartoonist for "The Sacramento Bee" is out with a pretend pitch
of Rick Perry. There it is. I will read the balloons to you. From Perry:
"We got three advantages over California. First, we got your low taxes.
Second, we got your low wages. And I can`t remember the third."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: To which the other character responds, "the wide open spaces in
your head."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, next, it`s no secret that Chris Christie and Newark
Mayor Cory Booker aren`t exactly best friends. I didn`t know that.

Well, Christie kicked off the week joking about his weight with David
Letterman. Soon after, he was telling a former White House physician to
shut up for expressing concern over his health and his weight. Anyway,
guess what the project -- what project Booker just announced yesterday?
His new partnership with Weight Watchers to help combat obesity up in
Newark.

Well, surely, this one was in the works for a while, but strange about the
talk and the timing.

By the way, it seems like Christie is still in attack mode over the
comments from that physician. Yesterday, Dr. Connie Mariano recounted the
phone call she got from the governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: It was essentially the
tone of the press conference, but louder.

QUESTION: He just pretty much yelled the whole time?

MARIANO: Mm-hmm. If this is the way you handle stress, this is -- is this
presidential? Have to think about that. Is this a presidential way to
behave? Come on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a political commentary from the doctor.
Apparently, calling her a hack at the press conference wasn`t enough.

Finally, Bill Clinton is ready to start campaigning again -- big surprise -
- he spoke to House Democrats at their retreat earlier today and told them
he was all in to support them in upcoming midterm elections, even though
the 2010 go-around was rough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went through both
the last two election cycles. I did 133 events in 2010. I told Hillary
somewhere in the process of it that -- I said, you know, we`re going to
take a terrible licking, and she said, well, why do you keep agreeing to do
more events? And I said, I don`t want it on my conscience. I did this in
`94, and I never want to live through it again without knowing at least I
got mowed down, not that I, you know, took a pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, for him, it was a terrible licking. Of course, Bubba
doesn`t want to be from -- far from the campaign trail in the last
election. Think about it. He`s campaigning in 2014 for the Democrats
because he`s looking forward to 2016 and Hillary Clinton as the
presidential candidate. No surprise there.

Up next, gun safety -- there`s new reason to be now optimistic that some
kind of deal can get done on expanded background checks at least for gun
sales, and that`s ahead and that`s looking good.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Craig Melvin.

Here is what`s happening right now. That massive winter storm pummelling
the Northeastern part of this country, it`s taking its toll with blizzard-
like conditions in many areas. And it`s not going to end until tomorrow.

People from New Jersey to Maine are getting hit with intense winds, heavy
snow as well. Many of those states, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island,
and Massachusetts, all of those states have declared a state of emergency.
The storm has made travel extremely dangerous on the roads and highways.
In fact, in Maine, the slick conditions are being blamed for a 19-car
pileup. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries there.

And the air travel, air travel has ground to a halt for many with more than
5,000 flights canceled through Saturday already. One to three feet of
snow, one to three feet is expected from the tristate area through New
England. Schools are closed throughout the region. Worries about the
weather sent many folks to stock up on supplies like bottled water, salt,
flashlights, and it wasn`t just stores that were busy. Gas lines like this
one started early this morning as drivers rushed to fill their tanks.

That`s the very latest on the storm -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We`re almost now hitting the two-month mark since the tragic shootings up
in Newtown, Connecticut. And, today, we may be closer to compromise on
some gun legislation.

An unlikely foursome of U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer of New York, Joe
Manchin of West Virginia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Mark Kirk of Illinois
are huddling together in hopes of finding a compromise on gun safety
legislation.

The Associated Press reports now -- quote -- "The senators` talks have
included discussions about ways to encourage states to make more mental
health records available to the national system and the types of
transactions that might be exempted from background checks, such as sales
among relatives or to those who have permits to carry concealed weapons,
said people who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to
describe the negotiations publicly."

For that and other campaign politics, we have got our HARDBALL strategist
here tonight, Democrat Steve McMahon and Republican John Feehery.

John, let`s talk about your party and the way it wants to position itself
on the whole issue of what happened in Newtown. I don`t mean necessarily
gun laws particularly, but the issues of background checks, the issues of
mental health records. Is there a role for the Republican Party in gun
safety, strategically speaking?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Obviously, you see that with Tom
Coburn. He certainly believes that there is.

And I do think that Tom Coburn is this one of those. This could be a Nixon
goes to China moment for Tom Coburn and the NRA and gun safety.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Where is John Feehery? Where are you? Do you want something
done on gun safety or not?

FEEHERY: I would like something done on gun safety. I would like
something done. I would like a more aggressive effort to get guns away
from violent criminals. I would like to get guns out of -- make sure that
they don`t get in the hands of crazy people. That`s where I am.

And I think that we do need to have a more aggressive background check, and
I have been pretty public on that.

MATTHEWS: How about the president? Does he have to recognize reality here
and go for what he can get, to get a single, not a home run? Can he get
background checks, sign the deal, say, even though he knows he`s giving
protection to those people on the center-right and the right to still be
able to say they did something?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So, there`s a lot of strategy here.

MCMAHON: There`s a lot of strategy.

I used to work for Senator Kennedy. And Senator Kennedy after he got past
his 30s and 40s decided that what you should do in legislating is take what
you can get and then come back for the rest later. I think you saw that
with the president on the budget negotiations. He raised taxes on the
wealthy. And he`s coming back now again saying we need balance to replace
these $1.2 trillion fiscal cliff cuts or the sequestration cuts.

So, you know, I think it`s a victory, but I don`t think it`s -- I don`t
think it`s going to be satisfy the people who want real gun control
measures.

MATTHEWS: Well, here is the question. If you`re the president, is it OK -
- you`re quibbling here. Should the president go for what he can get?

MCMAHON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON: And then he should come right back.

MATTHEWS: Even if -- even if it means giving the other guys a break
because they won`t -- they don`t want to go for a semiautomatic ban, an
assault ban?

You don`t think that would happen, John, from your party`s end? Can you
imagine the speaker scheduling a vote on a semiautomatic or what are called
assault weapons ban? Of course --

FEEHERY: It would never get out of the Senate. Senator Reid would never
let it happen.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think so either.

FEEHERY: It`s never going to happen.

MATTHEWS: Some people --

MCMAHON: Hold on a second. Hold on a second.

MATTHEWS: Some people think Reid is bringing it up for a vote giving to
guys on the right, who represent Montana, or North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp
or Jon Tester, giving them a chance to say no to something because this
goes too far, and then they can say yes to something like a background
check.

MCMAHON: One of the things --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m asking strategy. Is that all right for Reid? You
challenge this, is Reid right to do that?

MCMAHON: No, a balanced approach is what everybody says that they want.
But when you look at these things individually, people want an assault
weapons ban. Even Republicans want --

MATTHEWS: How is that going to get passed?

MCMAHON: The 30 magazine -- well, you know what? It`s going to have to be
debated by the public. The president has gotten good at going to the
outside and bringing pressure from the outside in. He`s done it two or
three times now very successfully. If he wants it badly enough he can do
it again.

MATTHEWS: But does he want to endanger senators from those states?

MCMAHON: I think --

FEEHERY: Steve, you`re wrong. The fact of the matter is Reid is not going
to let it happen because he`s got people in cycle who are in very tough
states -- Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich from Alaska. Those guys -
- and I don`t know, Chris, I don`t think he wants to even bring it up for a
vote. He might because it might be better for those guys being on record
voting against it but that`s kind of risky. So we`ll see.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s tricky for him.

MCMAHON: It is tricky for him.

FEEHERY: Yes, I think that`s right.

MATTHEWS: How does he hold the majority of the senators when you see every
time you have a gun issue, the whole middle of the country, which means
anywhere from California to New York practically is against you?

MCMAHON: But everybody is looking back at what happened in 1994 saying,
jeez, it could happen again. Well, guess what? The numbers this time are
entirely different than they were in 1994. They`re overwhelming in favor -
-

MATTHEWS: But you know the intensity issue. Who gets out and really votes
on this?

MCMAHON: But the people who are going to vote against somebody for voting
in favor of responsible gun control are already voting for Republicans, so
Democrats you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

MATTHEWS: You think you want Heidi Heitkamp on this issue? You want Jon
Tester to run on this issue? These people got elected without this gun
issue.

MCMAHON: Everybody knows nobody hunts with an assault weapon. If there`s
anybody out there that hunts with an assault weapon, please come hunting
with me. I`d like to see how you do it.

MATTHEWS: I`d look at this intensity. I don`t see how you win it.

FEEHERY: Chris --

MATTHEWS: I don`t know how you win it. I don`t know how you win on gun
control in Pennsylvania.

MCMAHON: Sometimes you just have to do the right thing, Chris, and this is
something that the American public wants and they expect Congress and the
president --

MATTHEWS: Pick your fights. If it`s your fight, go pick it.

Let`s move to the second topic for the strategists. Let`s move to our
second topic for the strategists tonight, the GOP civil war that`s
happening right now between the establishment and the Tea Party
conservatives. Karl Rove is out there fighting it.

Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen wrote in "Politico", that it`s not just Karl
Rove wanting to get rid of the crazies as they call it. The party as a
whole does and FOX News does, and also trying to moderate their image.
Quote, here it is, "One high profile Republican strategist who obviously
refused to have his name in order to avoid inflaming the very segments of
the party he wants to silence --

MCMAHON: It is Feehery.

FEEHERY: It wasn`t me.

MATTHEWS: -- said there is a deliberate effort right now by party leaders
to marginalize the cranks, haters, and bigots. There`s a lot of underbrush
that needs to be cleaned out."

They go on to report, quote, "So a political colonoscopy is going on before
our eyes. Republican after Republican told us the party dodged a bullet
with Mitt Romney`s loss. If he had squeaked in, this vital reboot have
been delayed four or eight years."

By the way, wasn`t that Mike Murphy? That really sounds Mike Murphy.

MCMAHON: It was Feehery.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s Mike Murphy.

Let`s speak for your party, John. So many people in your party think you
have to do a better job of proctoring who gets the nominations and don`t
just leave it to the grassroots. Your view?

FEEHERY: Well, this is obviously a pretty divisive issue with the
Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Where are you?

FEEHERY: Let me say where I am. I don`t like cranks and crazy people. I
think -- I want winners. I want people who can win.

Now, that being said, you got to be careful with the grassroots because you
can`t just dictate to them. So I think this is an education process. We
need to educate voters. We need to make sure that we -- that the smart
guys in the primaries have the resources.

And this whole idea that Club for Growth and all these guys complaining
that Karl Rove is getting involved in primaries, well, cry me a river. I
mean, these guys have been getting involved in primaries for years --

MATTHEWS: Well, how do you know how to pick winners? Look, Pat Toomey
won. Pat Toomey is still a senator, may be a senator for years. Who
knows? You got Rubio, probably be a senator for years if he doesn`t get
elected president. So, sometimes the right cooks up people that are good
politicians. Sometimes they pick up people like Sharron Angle who can lose
the easy ones and we have seen that.

FEEHERY: There`s no question about that. I think if you look at Pat
Toomey and Marco Rubio, those guys are stars. This is why you`ve got to be
real careful and why you have to have a vetting process. And this doesn`t
mean you pick the winners and losers. You let the process go forward but
you make sure that everybody has a chance to get thoroughly vetted. That`s
the problem with Sharron Angle. She didn`t get really vetted.

MATTHEWS: Are you with the establishment or the crazies? Where are you?

FEEHERY: I`m with the establishment. The crazies hate me.

MATTHEWS: OK. You are a leadership type.

Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon. And thank you, John Feehery, who for
some reason is not here today, he`s lobbying on the Hill or something.
Anyway, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: For a good cause, I`m sure for a good cause.

Up next, the director of the great new movie, my favorite movie of this
year, "Silver Linings Playbook," a film that puts mental illness among
other topics in the spotlight. What a movie. David O. Russell joins us
next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Whoa. Former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has reached a plea
deal with federal prosecutors. NBC News has learned that Jackson had
signed papers admitting violating a federal campaign finance law. Under
the terms of the deal, Jackson would plead guilty to converting campaign
contributions to personal use and sentence could range from probation to
some prison time.

What a sad story. Good kid I thought and I still do.

Jackson resigned from the Congress back in November.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m making crabby snacks and the homemades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, be nice. She`s making crabby snacks and
homemades. Come on, dad!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you so up about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you`re so up, up, up, up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t that a good thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re so up, up, up. I don`t know what that is. Are
you taking the proper dosage of your medication?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I taking the right dose? Of course, I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Taking a little bit too many or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, if I was doing that, I`d be on the floor, dad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Unbelievable movie.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

I`d just love rooting for the underdog.

Anyway, that was a clip from the sleeper hit movie of the year, I think.
It`s certainly one of my favorites -- actually it is my favorite -- "Silver
Linings Playbook."

The film could win big at the Academy Awards in February 24th, with eight
nominations, including best picture and best director. And everybody in
the movie is up for best actor.

Anyway, it`s unbelievable. It`s the first movie in 31 years for all four
top players.

So, it must say something about the director, David Russell.

DAVID O. RUSSELL, FILMMAKER: Hello, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And I loved what other movies, you`ve done. I loved "The
Fighter". And I loved "Flirting with Disaster."

RUSSELL: "Flirting with Disaster."

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE), you can. It`s all right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Hey, I`m an honest guy. I`ll tell you which ones I liked. I
just love the comedy --

RUSSELL: He calls them like he`s seeing them.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think this movie, let`s get back to the movie. I think it`s
got a couple things going for it. First of all, it`s about real people I
grew up with, middle, middle. I grew up middle, middle.

Everyone says how poor we were. We`re middle, middle. Our whole family
was together for a funeral. We`re all middle, middle. Regular people.
Rooting for the Eagles.

RUSSELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s how I pronounce it.

Believing that your juju in that room can make that team win. That whole
idea of us together, as a family is -- I felt it yesterday at this funeral
I went to for my aunt. I`ve got to tell you, it`s real. How did you
figure out Philly? How did you figure out us?

RUSSELL: I`m so sorry for your aunt.

You know, when I see the family in "The Fighter" or the family here that I
wrote for my son, this picture, that`s what I love. I love the --

MATTHEWS: Janet Lamia (ph) --

RUSSELL: Oh, my God!

MATTHEWS: She`s one of my neighbors growing up.

RUSSELL: Yes, she always told me she knew you.

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSELL: Oh, my God. She always said Chris Matthews was like an uncle to
them. What a good guy you were.

MATTHEWS: Well, those girls used to collect our newspapers when we went
away.

RUSSELL: Yes, they`re great.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about this movie. You`re up against the big guns.
You`re up against "Lincoln."

And I think a lot of people are going to root for "Lincoln" because it`s
Lincoln. He`s the greatest president in history, of our country`s history.
And everyone is going to say Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, and
great performances, Sally Field. But their movie has four performances
about real people, not history -- people next door, down the street.

RUSSELL: That`s what our picture is. It`s real people.

You know, my son has struggled with mood disordered. And I wrote this for
five years. And I have hundreds of people. I just had your producer, Ann
Klein (ph) said to me, tell me about someone she knows. All of a sudden,
the young man is suicidal and he`s bipolar and the whole family`s life is
turned upside down, you know?

So, it teaches millions of people. You know, you don`t -- you know when
you meet each other, you know when I say yes, you know we`ve been down this
road together. That`s a fight millions of families fight every day.

MATTHEWS: You know, a lot of people, my age and older, maybe because of
their religious beliefs or whatever, stop going to the movies. They don`t
go to movies anymore. Too much violence, too much sex on tape. I`m going
to say tonight on the end of the show, you`ve got to go back to the movies
for this.

RUSSELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: This is a movie you`ll go back to the movies for. I know movies
are like this but this is a movie like you`ll remember why movies were
great.

RUSSELL: Well, I like to make movies with a lot of heart. Those are my
favorite films.

MATTHEWS: "The Fighter".

RUSSELL: "The Fighter" is all about heart. It`s all about heart. It`s
all about families overcoming. Those are my favorite characters. I could
listen to those people all day, almost regardless of the story, if they`re
specific people with specific neighborhoods.

MATTHEWS: How do people that come to this country from, like, Australia,
New Zealand, I think of Russel Crowe and Naomi Watts, how do they learn to
talk Philly? I mean, you got a model in this when he talks Philly? How do
you teach them these accents when you`re directing? People watching from
my neighborhood say yes.

RUSSELL: Jackie Weaver was nominated for a movie called "Animal Kingdom"
when we were out with "The Fighter". She`s a phenomenal actress from
Australia who just soaks it up. We soaked it up. We soaked up the
homemades. They told us about the 2008 season when the Eagles beat the
Cowboys at the end. We soaked that up. We told them that we heard about
the uncle who moved the remotes to point to the end zone, you better not
touch them, as they point to the end zone with the team.

This is all specific --

MATTHEWS: Juju, where do you come up with the phrase juju? Which I
believe in, too. I pray in games and everything. I somehow believe that
something I`m doing in that room is somehow is going to affect -- I know
everybody who watching does the same thing -- that somehow the way you sit,
the way you move, did you leave the room for a beer, no, you got to stay
here, that somehow, that affects the results of the game. We all believe
that.

RUSSELL: Sometimes I end up thinking when I`m not watching my team, they
do better. Sometimes I think that, too. That`s superstition, too.

MATTHEWS: Well, I used to be a afraid if I ever rooted for Holy Cross or
Notre Dame or something, it would kill them.

RUSSELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t mention Notre Dame all this year because when they
went undefeated, because I said if I say something them, identifying with
them, they`re going to lose the next game. So, I guess we all believe in
that.

RUSSELL: I have superstitions, too. And the night before the Oscars, I`m
superstitious, because they nominated the nominees. And I called everyone
from De Niro to Jennifer Lawrence, and I said, I want you to say thank you.
We have the film. It`s for my son and all the families who have been
through such an ordeal with mood disorder. I`m grateful. Period. I let
it go.

I went to bed with peace. And when we woke up the next day, I was shocked
that we got any nominations. Like you said --

MATTHEWS: You were informed by your experience with your son, Matthew?

RUSSELL: My son, Matthew, has struggled with mood disorders, that would
turn your family upside down. You look for the right medication, you look
for the right behavioral program, the right schools, you look to states to
help you. You don`t want to wake up when it`s a crisis. We`re a little
backwards in this country with the way we have --

MATTHEWS: I know we are.

Jennifer Lawrence, by the way, the greatest actor of her generation. I
have never seen a performance like this.

RUSSELL: Well, I mean, you know --

MATTHEWS: I`ve got more to say about this movie.

Anyway, thank you, David O. Russell. Great director with heart.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

America in its best roots for the underdog. It`s the thing we like about
watching on Oscar night. We love it when the little movie wins the big
prize.

I know that "Lincoln" is the big movie of last year. It`s about our
favorite president, played by one of our greatest actors, Daniel Day-Lewis,
directed by the great Steven Spielberg who gave us "Jaws" and "Indiana
Jones" and "Schindler`s List" and "Saving Private Ryan".

But I`m rooting for "Silver Linings Playbook" to win. I love this movie.
I love it because it`s about real people -- people from down the street,
people with problems. The widow of a policeman shot in line of duty, a dad
who`s been laid off, a young man suffering from a challenging illness, a
mother who refuses to be down beat. It`s about a family held together by -
- well, being a family.

And I`m for this. Look at my country. People who refuse to give up.
Families that refuse to give up on each other. "Silver Linings Playbook."

If you`ve given up on going to the movies and are not going anymore, go to
this one. It will remind not of the way movies used to be, but what
American movies can be, that they can be truly great.

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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