updated 3/11/2013 11:59:36 AM ET 2013-03-11T15:59:36

HARDBALL
March 8, 2013

Guests: Cynthia Tucker, Michael Crowley, Maggie Haberman, Dee Dee Myers, John Brabender, Doug Hattaway

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A left turn on the drones.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Like a lot of you watching, I got
interested in politics back when I was in school. Something about it just
grabbed me. And it was the basic things, the role of the individual in
this country and how we get treated by our government and what role the
United States of America should play in the world. If I ever forget
Vietnam, please remind me, and do it loud.

So when John McCain blasted Rand Paul the other day for, quote, "stunts
that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms," I
thought back to when I myself was in one of those college dorms up at Holy
Cross in Worcester, by the way, where people are now under 10 inches of
snow. I assume they`re arguing about drones up there, about the rights of
the United States government to use those drones against Americans, even
Americans who may have turned against their country.

Debates are great. Debates in college dorms are where it all begins, what
burns in this country, keeps us hot with ideas, keeps us giving a damn
about guarding what is our legacy, freedom, freedom from government
interference, freedom from decisions that suggest the government`s more
important than citizens.

So I may not have the attitude of a Rand Paul, but I worship his right to
have it. I would never put down that attitude simply because I think
there`s a bit of right-wing paranoia attached to that guy. Why? Because
in some dorm room somewhere, perhaps where I went to college, where you
went to college, there are young people arguing about it, and I say thank
God for that.

Cynthia Tucker`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and Ron
Reagan`s a radio talk show host and MSNBC political analyst.

Ron, I always trust what you think, and your heart and your brain put
together. So put them all together. This thing, this fight on the right
between the establishment hawks -- that`s what the establishment is in the
Republican Party, hawkish -- like McCain and Lindsey Graham are putting
down Rand Paul because he isn`t one of them and because he dared to
question the use of U.S. military power, in this case against individual
citizens.

Where are you, a man of the left, on this one?

RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST : Well, on the
subject of drones -- and this is a very interesting thing to watch this
divide among the Republicans, whereas you say the establishment, which is
reflexively pro-military on the Republican side, is running up against the
new Tea Party Republicans, who aren`t so reflexively pro-military, who are
really ideologically libertarian and see threats to civil liberties where
some progressive lefties might, also.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: And yes, I, too, am troubled, like Rand Paul -- I don`t find
myself in agreement with him often, but on -- like a stopped clock, you
know, occasionally, he`s right. And on the use of drones...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I used that phrase...

REAGAN: ... and related things like surveillance...

MATTHEWS: ... yesterday. Did you watch last night because I said a broken
clock is right twice a day.

REAGAN: I didn`t see that. Great minds think alike.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s yours, too. Let me go -- let me go to Cynthia because --
you want to finish that thought, go ahead, because my question is -- Rand
Paul can be pretty wacky. And he`s talking about the United States
government hitting somebody sitting somewhere in a cafe -- I imagine some
sort of a cafe on some street corner somewhere, just sipping their Grand
Marnier -- not Grand Marnier, sipping their coffee, and all of a sudden, a
drone comes in because they said the wrong thing politically.

I don`t think that`s going to happen in this country of ours. Do you think
it`s something we should be debating whether it should happen?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Rand Paul used a very...

REAGAN: Are you asking me?

TUCKER: ... extreme example...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Cynthia.

TUCKER: Rand Paul used a very extreme example to call attention to this
issue of targeted killings. And I think the question we should be asking
is not whether a drone is going to descend, bring hellfire on some American
sitting, having coffee, just because of something they said, but rather,
what is it that brings an American citizen, or for that matter, a foreign
national onto this list?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TUCKER: How do you get on the president`s targeted killings list? Who
makes those decisions? What`s the rationale? Unfortunately, this whole
policy is so shrouded in secrecy, we don`t know the answers to that. And
that`s what we ought to be talking about.

MATTHEWS: OK...

TUCKER: And I, too, am glad -- I don`t trust Rand Paul, but I`m glad he`s
brought attention to that subject.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I think we all agree. Now, let`s look at the three
options here. There`s hitting non-Americans. We have a value (ph) for
that -- hitting Americans. Then among the Americans, we have a value for
whether to hit them at home here or hit them abroad. That`s to me the way
you decline -- decline this whole thing.

In his filibuster this week, as you mentioned, Kentucky senator Rand Paul
envisioned the worst fears of the black helicopter crowd. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If you`re sitting in a cafe and somebody
thinks you e-mailed your cousin in the Middle East and they think you`re
conspiring with them, you get -- you should be charged. You should be, you
know, imprisoned if they can -- if they can make the charges stick. But
they shouldn`t just drop a Hellfire missile on your cafe experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator John McCain took to the Senate floor late
yesterday to mock Rand Paul and his young libertarian fans. I guess he
assumes he has them. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he
needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable
libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he`s
talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, "The New York Times" also caught this photo, it`s kind of
funny, of those two senators awkwardly sharing what was a large elevator,
but too small for them. Look at them trying to get away from each other.

And in his letter to Senator Paul, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote,
quote, "It`s come to my attention you have now asked an additional
question. Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone
to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? And the answer
to that question is no."

Ron, I want to go back to you and your concerns. Are you concerned that
we`re using drones again non-Americans? Are you concerned we`re using it
against Americans overseas, or Americans at home. Dichotomize that. Where
are you concerned?

REAGAN: Well, I`m concerned that there are no -- there`s no real
transparency, as Cynthia pointed out, and no real rules around this. When
are we allowed to kill American citizens overseas? Are we allowed to use
drones in any way, shape or form domestically, for surveillance, for
instance.

MATTHEWS: OK, where are you on al Awlaki? Al Awlaki, a U.S. citizen
overseas working with the enemy -- he was hit. We hit him. We knew we
were hitting when we hit him. Where are you on that?

REAGAN: That is a tough one. That is a real tough one. I mean, there`s
evidence that guy was actively involved in planning attacks against the
United States.

MATTHEWS: He was operational.

REAGAN: If that`s the case, what`s the difference between sending in a
SEAL team and sending in a drone? But if you apply that domestically,
what`s the difference between sending in a SWAT team and sending in drone
instead? If I`m a commander...

MATTHEWS: I agree.

REAGAN: ... a police commander...

MATTHEWS: It`s about lethal.

REAGAN: ... I don`t want to send guys through the door...

MATTHEWS: No, I agree it`s about lethal.

REAGAN: Put a missile through the door instead.

MATTHEWS: It`s about killing somebody. I think -- I really -- I don`t
want to focus so much on the technology. Back to you Cynthia. Suppose
some kid, he grows up in California. He`s been watching Middle East news.
He thinks we`re too pro-Israeli, or something. Maybe he has too much
money. He decides to join the other side, if you will, join al Qaeda.

So he ends up over there in some country like Yemen, and he`s sitting
around in a cafe, basically hanging around, trying to make contact with the
enemy. Is he a ripe target, by our standards of justice in this country,
to be knocked off by our military, by drone or any other means? Is it
wrong to consort with the enemy?

TUCKER: Well, that`s the question. That`s the question. You know,
Petraeus had proposed when he was still running the war in Afghanistan that
the Obama administration adopt a policy whereby people would be targeted
for drones because -- based on some suspicious activities that looked like
they might be terrorists...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TUCKER: ... even if we weren`t sure who those people were. That worries
me. It bothers me not just we might be killing American citizens. It
worries me that we might be killing anybody if we don`t have absolute
certainty that these people represent a legitimate threat to the United
States.

And it certainly ought to be more than something they said. You know,
after we killed al Awlaki, a drone also hit his son. Well, we`re now told
that that was an accident. Well, how did he end up...

MATTHEWS: Was it an accident or was it -- does anybody admit he was a
target, Cynthia?

TUCKER: Nobody knows. Nobody`s saying. And that`s the problem again. It
is shrouded in secrecy. United States citizens don`t know what is been
doing -- being done in our names, and we should.

MATTHEWS: Yes, no, it gets really tricky, Ron, when you get into -- and
this isn`t anything I would worry about our government doing, but a lot of
Americans are quite willing, on the left and the right, mostly the left
lately, to basically take on their government in a very dramatic, almost
revolutionary way.

I mean, look at Jane Fonda, for example. She went over and consorted with
the North Vietnamese. We were at war with them, maybe not -- of course, it
was just the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, wasn`t a formal resolution. But we
were at war.

What happens when we have enemies that people, most on the right would say
(INAUDIBLE) Joe Kennedy wouldn`t say was an enemy. Hugo Chavez, is he our
enemy because he`s a lefty in South America? There are other lefty
governments down there.

What does it take to become an enemy of the United States? That`s my
question to you, Ron.

REAGAN: Well, we need to know that. And back to Cynthia`s point, which is
such a central point here. What are the rules around here? Where is the
transparency here? How do we -- we -- we`re owed this as American
citizens. Our tax dollars are paying for these drones and these Hellfire
missiles and things.

You know, we`re owed an explanation about this. And what happens when
other countries get this technology? What`s good for us is good for them.
Would we feel good about North Korea having a bunch of drones that they
could send over South Korea?

MATTHEWS: Well, we can`t stop them. By the way, nothing we do will stop
them from doing what they wish to do. But let me get to something
philosophical. Both of you can handle this. You first, Ron. You raised
it. What is the connection between the serious left and the serious right?
I mean by that people who are concerned about the basics of individual
liberty.

REAGAN: That is the connection, that people are concerned about civil
liberties, whether they`re our American civil liberties or civil liberties
of people living in other countries. We don`t make that distinction. All
people are created equal, as far as we`re concerned.

And again, how would we feel if some third country or some other country
decided to rain down a few missiles on our country or take out a few people
that they thought were American terrorists? We`d be up in arms,
justifiably so.

MATTHEWS: Your view, Cynthia?

REAGAN: Why do we...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry to interrupt.

TUCKER: Well, I...

MATTHEWS: Same question to you. How do you feel the difference as a
progressive columnist, the difference between the hard -- I don`t mean hard
left in terms of supporting revolution or anything, but I`m talking about
hard left in terms of really being suspicious of any kind of government
power in a way that some on the sort of posse comitatus right are pretty
much, I think paranoid myself -- but how does it meet? How do those two
ends meet?

TUCKER: There is absolutely some legitimate common ground between those
who are serious on the libertarian right and those on the left who fear
that the government has encroached too far on our civil liberties.

Last year, in a column, I praised Ron Paul, Rand Paul`s father, because he
spoke out against the killing of al Awlaki. Very few Republicans were
willing to do that. I think Ron Paul is very serious and has long been
serious about his concerns about civil liberties and the American
government going too far.

And so progressives can certainly make common cause with libertarians who
are serious on issues of civil liberties.

MATTHEWS: And I also think -- and I`ll offer this opinion. I like to know
who is the president is. And I have to -- I know why we have to live by
law -- because I`m not sure what I would think about any of this
conversation with Dick Cheney aboard calling the shots because I don`t
think he has the same lines any of the three of us have about where you
stop with government power. I think he`s pretty unlimited in that
department about the rights of...

TUCKER: I agree completely.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ron Reagan.

TUCKER: That`s another reason why we need rules.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Thank you.

REAGAN: Yes. I mean, you can`t set a precedent, though, like this. You
know, Dick -- the Dick Cheneys of the world will get back into power
eventually, and we don`t want to set a precedent where they can do whatever
they want.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you for ending a Friday night with a worst case
scenario.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Cynthia Tucker -- Cynthia Tucker, and thank
you, Ron Reagan.

Coming up: When is President Obama going to get some credit -- and this is
-- this is like Rodney Dangerfield. When is he going to get some credit
for this amazing economy that`s coming back? It definitely is coming back,
maybe not like gangbusters, but that unemployment rate really dropped again
today. And there really are a quarter of a million new jobs out there. It
really is -- and the stock market, for the rich, is going through the roof!
When`s this guy going to get some respect? Republicans, when are they
going to set (INAUDIBLE) OK, if he gets to this number, we`ll love him. We
ought to ask this question. Will ever get -- will ever admit he`s doing a
good job.

Anyway, here`s someone who admits he was wrong, sort of. Bill Clinton
wrote an op-ed today in "The Washington Post" -- I couldn`t believe it when
I saw it -- saying the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed into law,
should be overturned. Never heard of a president doing that. He now says
not only did the law provide an excuse for discrimination, the law itself
was discriminatory. Big 180 for the president, the former president.

And I`m fascinated with the jockeying already taking place on both sides in
the parties -- both parties for 2016. Rand Paul is running, Jeb Bush is
running. Wow. And Hillary Clinton -- we`re going to be waiting for her.
And when does she decide? We`re going to ask that and get to all this.
This is going to be big-time.

Finally, what happens when you`re too far right for even CPAC --
Conservative Political Action Conference -- to invite you? Well, you
charge them with being under the thumb of sharia law. Only in red America,
huh?

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a little sugar plum that took a week to leak.
President Obama and the first lady hosted a secret supper last Friday a
week ago at the White House with former president Bill Clinton and Hillary
Clinton, just the four of them. According to Politico, the three-hour-long
dinner was informal, a celebration of Hillary`s retirement as secretary of
state. But big Bill offered some second term advice to President Obama,
sharing his own experience dealing with hostile Republicans in Congress.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. This may come as a shock to people
living in the conservative media bubble, but despite months of hyperbolic
warnings, the election and reelection of Barack Obama did not, in fact,
crash the U.S. economy.

Well, today we found out that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent for
February -- that`s for the month -- the lowest it`s been in more than four
years as businesses added -- and this is really impressive -- 236,000 new
jobs.

Well, how did Republicans respond to that? With as little enthusiasm as
possible. Here`s the speaker of the House, John Boehner. Quote, "Any job
creation is positive news, but the fact is, unemployment in America is
still way below the levels the Obama White House projected when the
trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill was enacted, and the federal
government`s ongoing spending binge has resulted in a debt that exceeds the
size of our entire economy."

Well, despite Republican grumbling, here is what the Obama economy actually
looks like. Take a look at this. Blue -- there it is on the right --
represents the months President Obama has been in office since January of
`09. Since March of 2010, the private sector has added jobs every single
month, more jobs every month. The biggest loss of jobs, the ones in red
there on the left, actually happened when George W. Bush was president.

So doesn`t this president, Barack Obama, deserve some credit for improving
the economy from what he inherited? Joy Reid is, of course, managing
editor of TheGrio.com and is an MSNBC political analyst, and Michael
Crowley -- what a great name to have these days with that "Downton Abbey"
all these months, that Mary Crowley -- anyway, deputy Washington bureau
chief for "Time" magazine.

Joy, let me start with you on this. It seems to me that when I look at the
stock market breaking all records, when I look at 236,000 new jobs, and I
keep thinking, when are the Republicans going to do what Rodney Dangerfield
asked for all those years, show a little respect? And what does this all
mean? Don`t they secretly say, Damn it, things are getting better? I
mean, what are they saying when they read this stuff?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I agree with you.
They`ve got to say that. Look, before the election happened, the incentive
for Republicans was to constantly downplay the economy, to say the economy
was terrible because their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was running
on only one thing, the economy is awful, I`m the only one who can fix it.

MATTHEWS: Right.

REID: So once the election was a fait accompli, you`d think the incentive
would change because the next person up for re-election, if you`re a
Republican member of Congress, is you. It`s not President Obama. He`s
done having elections. You`re the next one up. So you would think talking
up improvement in the economy and your participation would be a good idea,
but they`re still not doing it.

I think part of it is the incentive structure within the Republican Party
is now so weighted on the side of constantly being against Barack Obama --
whatever he`s for, you`re against. Whatever is good for him is bad for
you, bad for the country. That incentive structure hasn`t changed enough
for Republicans to get the memo that maybe it would be good politics for
them to start saying the economy is getting better.

MATTHEWS: Yes

REID: And I think the other reason is they agreed to raise taxes in
January. That was a painful thing to do, and they`d hate to...

MATTHEWS: For the top 1 percent.

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: Top 1 percent.

REID: Barely.

MATTHEWS: OK.

REID: Exactly. Just a minor -- and even -- we also raised taxes on
everybody with that payroll tax...

MATTHEWS: Yes, nobody argues about that, unfortunately.

REID: Exactly. But they don`t want to...

MATTHEWS: We should have a whole show on that baby.

REID: ... admit -- they don`t want to admit that in a slightly higher tax
environment, jobs are being created.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, Michael. It seems to me that a couple shots
have been taken at the president here that have never really come to
reality, and yet they just get away with them. It`s like Etch-a-Sketch
again.

Inflation -- we`re going to be overwhelmed with inflation. The way I
calculate it on an annual -- it was like a 6 percent, 2 percent annual, it
was about a sixth of a -- one sixth of 1 percent on a monthly basis this
year. There`s no inflation yet this year.

High interest rates -- well, they`re so low, people can borrow money -- if
you`ve got the collateral, you can borrow money now at a very low rate.

Austerity, where is that working in the world? So, not only are they wrong
on their attacks. They`re wrong on their prescriptions. I think Estonia
is doing all right with austerity and maybe a couple other countries, but
it`s not generally the rule that that`s working right now.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": No, Europe provides -- all
due respect to Estonia and the counterexample there that I have heard
about, Europe provides a very strong counterexample.

And, by the way, I know we`re talking about the president here, but just
remember what -- some of the things that were said about Ben Bernanke as
he was engineering the monetary policy during this recovery. Remember Rick
Perry saying that he was rigging it for Obama`s election. He better not
come down to Texas. Some of the things Sarah Palin said, some of her
predictions about the economic effects completely wrong.

But, Chris, there is -- as Joy said, that there is just a kind of partisan
dynamic that is baked in here. I think back with some amusement to the
Clinton years. When Clinton passed his economic program in 1993 that
included a substantial tax hike, Republicans predicted the economy would
just completely collapse. It was going to be economic Armageddon.

And then as you recall, we had this tremendous economic boom and they
immediately said, well, that was because of the dot-com explosion and
productivity changes.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CROWLEY: And so, you know, you kind of can`t win in this partisan
situation. And I think Republicans are just too committed to the idea that
the economy really can`t be good under Barack Obama`s stewardship.

MATTHEWS: It is.

CROWLEY: It would be too hard to explain.

MATTHEWS: But the old line -- you`re younger than me. But the old line,
Joy, too -- you may not have heard this one either. If you want to live
like a Republican, vote like a Democrat.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Not true that people have better times, better life existences
under Republicans.

Anyway, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was asked by NBC`s Luke
Russert about the unemployment numbers earlier today. Listen to her non-
answer answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC: The economy grew by 236,000 jobs last quarter,
unemployment went down 7.7 percent. President Obama deserves some credit
for that one?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I think that there is credit
to go around.

And also, Luke, I have to tell you, talking to so many business owners here
in Tennessee, they were pleased to see that we stuck to the point of
letting the sequester take place and beginning to cut across the board,
make some cuts in this discretionary spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, that doesn`t have anything to do with Luke`s very
prescient question there, Joy.

REID: Nothing.

MATTHEWS: I mean, it was a good question. It was about today`s news.
What do you make of the day`s news?

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Her answer was, I don`t have anything to say about the news.

But I guess the question is, does this -- you were getting to it -- does
this affect the fact that things look a little brighter than they were
several months ago? Although I have got to tell you we have been rounding
at 8 percent now for 14 months.

For all this talk about jubilation and (INAUDIBLE) and everything else
that`s going on now, whatever song that`s from, it hasn`t gotten marginally
greater. We`re still around 8 percent in the history books. And now the
question I have to ask is Bernanke says he`s going to stop pumping money
into the economy when we get to 6. When are the Republicans going to say
good show?

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: What number -- if any Republican is watching now in the
political business, please let us know what number will make you quiet
down, at least say this guy may have it?

REID: No, you`re absolutely right.

And the irony of Marsha Blackburn`s comments there is that the sequester is
happening at the moment. The jobs report is backward looking. So the
sequester has absolutely zero, nothing to do with the jobs numbers that
were just reported. What she`s saying didn`t even make any sense.

And you`re absolutely right. Look, the problem is for Republicans is that
the history of the American economy is that when you withdraw government
spending from the economy, as, by the way, FDR did after he did a couple
years of the New Deal, he tried austerity -- we had had a double-dip
recession. Hoover tried it.

The idea of withdrawing government spending when the private sector is also
withdrawing spending means you lower GDP. That`s just simple math. It`s
just logic. Nobody has ever explained to me how cutting government in and
of itself creates jobs. No one has ever been able to do it, because they
don`t have a relationship.

You have got to have somebody spending into the economy, and if it`s not
the private sector, hello, it`s got to be the government. That`s why
stimulus works.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here is where it always surprises me, people are surprised
by things. Today, on "Morning Joe," everybody found out that Mark Harmon
makes a lot more money than Brad Pitt, because people really like Mark
Harmon and he`s on television all the time on the cop show.

Here`s something they don`t understand. We have been creating public
sector jobs month by month ever since 2010 in this country under this
Democratic administration, meanwhile reducing the number of public sector
jobs.

REID: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: If you ask the average Republican sitting at a bar stool tonight
on some Route 40 somewhere, you stop in and say what are we doing, creating
a lot of public sector jobs, a bunch of drones working in Washington, or
are we creating jobs in the good old private sector?

And the answer is the opposite of what that guy is going to say.

Last thought, Mike, why are we so screwed up on the simple facts of where
the jobs are coming from and where they`re going?

CROWLEY: Well, Chris, because there`s a lot of misinformation going out
there. And the structure of the economy I guess to be a little more
charitable can be complicated and people don`t break it down that way, but
I think there`s just a lot of a plain misinformation going out there.

And actually just to go quickly back to the point, the sequester is
actually providing a drag. So, Congresswoman Blackburn may be right that
business owners are making investments and making decisions that are
growing the economy based on the sequester, but everything I have seen is
economists saying that it`s putting a drag on the economy. This is the
wrong time to be cutting spending.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? We may disagree, because I think basically
this is the grand solution.

I think the Democrats do not want to cut Medicare and I understand why not.
And Republicans don`t want to raise taxes. And politically I understand
why not. They will take the hit. I think the second best solution is
better for all of them.

And that`s why I think we`re not going to get a deal this summer, when the
president is talking about. He just wants to say we`re going to get a deal
by July so he doesn`t have to talk about it in August.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

I know. Am I the cynic? Yes, tonight.

Joy Reid, thank you, dear.

REID: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, Michael Crowley, with that great last night,
Crowley.

CROWLEY: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: Mary Crawley, do I like her.

Up next, what do you do if you`re too far to the right for the -- well, the
CPAC crowd? That`s really right. You excuse them -- well, you accuse them
of being in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood. And that`s ahead and this
is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First off, here is a question. What if contenders for the papacy had to
launch full-on campaigns to get chosen to lead the Catholic Church?

Well, Jon Stewart has a taste of what you might call the first ever papal
political ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

NARRATOR: Leonardo Sandri says he`s infallible, but just last week he
picked Bradley Cooper in his Oscar pool.

(LAUGHTER)

NARRATOR: Bradley Cooper?

Leonardo Sandri, wrong about Bradley Cooper, wrong for the Vatican.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, just one reason to stick with the conclave as it is.

Next, politics and straws. No, this has nothing to do with a straw poll.
Republican state senators in Washington state are dissatisfied with a
recent state Supreme Court decision that requires more state money to be
put toward education. Well, their solution to save money, reduce the size
of the Supreme Court from nine judges to five. So how is it decided who
gets knocked off the bench?

From the bill -- quote -- "On June 30, 2013, all existing judges of the
state Supreme Court shall meet in public to cast lots by drawing straws.
Effective July 1, 2013, the positions of the four judges casting losing
lots by drawing the shortest straws shall be terminated."

That`s right, draw the short straw and you`re out. It`s fairly transparent
why they`re looking to the Supreme Court to cut costs. In addition to that
education decision the court made, the court also recently ruled against a
Republican plan that would have made it more difficult to impose tax
increases.

Finally, this week in conspiracy, anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller is on
the list of people not invited to CPAC this year. Is it because having
someone at the event sounding the alarm about Sharia law might lead to
undesirable headlines for Republicans? Not if you ask Pamela Geller
herself. She says it`s too late for CPAC. They have already fallen victim
to Sharia.

Here she is with conservative radio host Janet Mefferd.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PAMELA GELLER, BLOGGER: I have always held events there, even though I
wasn`t warmly welcomed because of the influence of what can only be
described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives.

I think people -- at this point people need to know just how deeply we have
been infiltrated. Just -- I mean, look, what are they doing at CPAC?
Essentially, Janet, they are enforcing the Sharia. Under the Sharia, the
blasphemy laws, you cannot say, you cannot offend, you cannot criticize,
and you cannot insult Islam.

And so that`s effectively what they`re doing. They`re enforcing the
Sharia.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And Geller specifically targets anti-tax crusader Grover
Norquist as one of the Muslim Brotherhood facilitators standing in the way,
in her way of putting on a show at CPAC.

By the way, state lawmakers in Florida are keeping tabs on Sharia
infiltration, too. Two Republicans in that state have reintroduced
legislation that would ban courts from considering foreign law when making
legal decisions. Well, the bill doesn`t pass. It didn`t pass last time it
was proposed, but they`re giving it another try.

Up next, Bill Clinton says it`s time to overturn DOMA, the Defense of
Marriage Act. This is a big deal, an act he signed back in `96. And
that`s coming up next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JON FORTT, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jon Fortt with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

Investors cheered today as unemployment report sending the Dow up 67 and
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gained 12.

As you heard earlier, the economy added 238,000 jobs last month, far more
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2008. Meanwhile, Google is cutting an additional 1,200 jobs at its
Motorola Mobility unit. It cut 4,000 jobs back in August.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB KUR, NBC ANCHOR: President Clinton has signed the bill that bans the
federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Without fanfare
after returning from a campaign trip after midnight, Mr. Clinton signed the
bill. The White House says the president has long opposed government
recognition of homosexual marriages, but hopes the bill won`t be used as an
excuse to discriminate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course a 1996 "Today Show" report by Bob Kur on Bill Clinton
signing after midnight the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. By
the way, he signed it just weeks before the election, his reelection.

There are no pictures of that bill signing because, as Bob Kur reported
there, it happened after midnight and far away from TV cameras. Well,
today in Washington, in our own "Washington Post," Clinton disavowed the
bill he signed back there into law, writing -- quote -- in a powerful new
op-ed piece -- "On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court," he
wrote, "and the justices must decide whether it`s consistent with the
principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all
and is therefore constitutional. As the president who signed the act into
law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and
in fact incompatible with our Constitution," although this follows an
amicus brief, a friend of the court brief signed by prominent Republicans
in support of gay marriage and signals a political shift that President
Clinton did not want to be on the wrong side of, obviously.

Dee Dee Myers knows the president very well, the former president. She was
White House press secretary, the first woman press secretary back in
history back in `93-`94. And this weekend on "BBC World News," you can
watch Dee Dee Myers` documentary "What If Women Ruled the World," which is
a very wonderful sound to some people. Maggie Haberman writes for
Politico.

Maggie, thank you for joining us as well.

Dee Dee, your guy Bill -- he`s just my Bill -- do you think it has anything
to do with the fact that we`re in a tremendously changed culture and
environment these years later?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, there`s
no question about it.

The environment was very different. And as President Clinton points out in
his piece today, there was great fear among advocates, including him, that
there would be a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage
that would be really, really hard to overturn. That was one of the
impetuses. DOMA was looked at as a stopgap measure, a way to stop a
national constitutional amendment movement.

And I think the proof of that is -- that that was really urgent was that
since DOMA was signed 31 states has passed constitutional bans on same-sex
marriage. So there was a lot of energy around it. It`s amazing how much
things have changed in the last 20 years.

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, three or four states have actually voted on it.
It`s the state legislatures and the courts that have been the most active
in determining that.

But public opinion has dramatically changed. Look at this. Public opinion
of same-sex marriage has shifted so dramatically since `96. Back when Bill
Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which basically does -- says we
will not as a federal government recognize gay marriage, it was 27 percent
support. And actually I`m surprised it was that high.

Today, it`s 54 percent -- 53 percent. So, it`s really changed.

Let me get Maggie in here. I mean, a doubling of support for it, which I
thought was almost minuscule back then. Now it`s a strong majority and
growing. By the way, among my co-religionists, Catholics, it`s a majority
opinion now, which is really dramatic. They`re pretty culturally
conservative. Or the church is, of course.

What do you make of Bill Clinton? Will this affect the court ruling, do
you think? Will this amicus and the fact that he`s such a powerful force
affect the court decision?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I think that he is less likely to have an
impact on the court`s decision than I think this is about 2016 and the
future. I think Bill Clinton made clear...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He ain`t running.

HABERMAN: Well, he`s not running, but someone else might be who he`s
related to.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HABERMAN: Bill Clinton has come out in favor of gay marriage.

His daughter -- and this is really important to note -- Chelsea Clinton was
very prominent in favor of gay marriage in New York when Andrew Cuomo was
trying to push through legislation legalizing gay marriage in 2011.
Hillary Clinton has not taken a position yet. It`s very hard to see her
doing anything other than eventually coming out in support of gay marriage,
which is where her family is and also where her party is, as you note.

But I do think that...

MATTHEWS: What`s stopping her, do you think? She could put out an op-ed
piece and draft it and have it polished up for tomorrow`s paper right now,
if she wanted it.

HABERMAN: Sure.

Because I think at the end of the day, I think the desire is to have
something less of an event than be more -- than be -- you know, a huge
event. I mean, essentially, she is -- she is technically late to this,
even though she is --

MATTHEWS: I see.

HABERMAN: -- losing (ph) for not wanting to engaged in it.

And to be fair to her, she has been seen as very proactive on lesbian and
gay issues in the State Department. She had a pretty good record there.
The gay community is generally very supportive of Hillary Clinton, but a
lot of gay activists have said they hope she will come out in favor of gay
marriage.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The reason she
hasn`t is because she felt it was sort of incompatible with her role as the
nation`s chief diplomat. She didn`t want to take, you know, get mixed up
in domestic politics when she had a global --

MATTHEWS: Yes, but I think she would argue if she were sitting here that
it`s a human rights issue.

MYERS: That`s why she`s advocated on behalf of gay diplomats, same sex
couples, allow them to get diplomatic passports for example and a lot of --

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a second, and I don`t know how the court
is going to rule. I hope it rules positively. I have changed my position
mike lost of us, I have evolved -- a new word.

But I think what`s crumbled -- Maggie, pick up on this. You have covered
this. What I think has crumbled is the opposition. It`s not so much
people are saying, yes, this is fair, people are gay, they`re born gay.
That`s basically that you`ve opposed. People may not be -- you know,
nature versus nurture, is kind of a non-relevant conversation. People are
what they are, they should be allowed to pursue happiness, and let`s be
fair and equal about it.

I think people get -- but I think what`s crumbled is the opposition.
Nobody can think of a reason to oppose it. It came up in Prop 8. They
couldn`t find anybody to come in to court and say there`s a public interest
in opposing it.

HABERMAN: Right. I mean, I think the most significant development that
you saw beyond obviously the presidential race in 2012 but there were four
states that had gay marriage-related referenda that stated different things
in each case. But overall were sort of aimed toward legalizing gay
marriage in one form or another.

They were all successful for the pro-gay marriage side. That was a huge
development because there had not been a ballot win before that.

And so you did see among the Republican base some opposition still lingers.
Remember, you had the Chick-fil-A protests in New York. There was at least
one primary that was lost by a state senator who had voted in favor of gay
marriage at the state level in New York.

But, you know, generally speaking, you`re right. In a general election
framework, you know, sort of nationally or more broadly, beyond the party
base and in the middle, there has been movement on this.

I think it`s also really worth noting when you`re talking about those cross
tabs of where opinion has changed, African-Americans now in most polling
show a majority support for gay marriage.

MATTHEWS: OK.

HABERMAN: That`s a big change.

MATTHEWS: And that`s the reason John Kerry today is secretary of state
rather than president, because in 2004 the issue was in Ohio people got
together there, our friend what`s his name, Karl Rove, got together with
Don King, the boxing promoter, and got a lot of African-Americans preachers
up in Cuyahoga County in Cleveland to get their people out, the flock out,
the congregations out to vote against this gay marriage thing and that
turned that state.

MYERS: And the constitutional amendments were used as battering rams
against progressives who supported it, right? Now, it`s one of the things
Bill Clinton --

MATTHEWS: We thought North Carolina would be hurt by that.

MYERS: But in talking about how much things are changed, consider -- I
mean, first of all, 85 senators voted for DOMA, including Joe Biden, Joe
Lieberman, Chris Dodd, Tom Daschle, Barbara Mikulski --

MATTHEWS: Keep going, I love this. Mikulski.

MYERS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: All the liberals. Go ahead.

MYERS: Yes, John Kerry did not vote for it. Ted Kennedy did not vote for
it.

But the majority -- 85 senators voted for it and now we`re in a position
where 20 of those senators --

MATTHEWS: What did DOMA do?

MYERS: DOMA basically designed marriage as between a man and a woman and
basically you said that the --

MATTHEWS: All federal payments --

MYERS: States wouldn`t have to recognize --

MATTHEWS: That most important -- that`s true didn`t have to recognize --

MYERS: Outside of that definition.

MATTHEWS: Maryland -- Virginia would have to recognize Maryland, but it
also said for federal purposes, Social Security, Medicare, there`s no such
thing as gay marriage.

MYERS: Right. I think President Clinton says --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I love this conversation. Maggie, thanks so much for coming on.
I love this conversation especially from a political point of view. Dee
Dee Myers, thank you.

A model, by the way. She was at my bus stop recently, on the bus stop
right there. Very sophisticated, very demure.

Up next, the jockeying for 2016 -- it`s all true. The jockeying for 2016
has already begun on both sides and that`s coming up. It`s pure politics
coming back here in the place for politics in a couple minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Today is International Women`s Day and as Dee Dee Myers said,
who was just here, she`s got a great documentary coming out. It`s airing
on the BBC America, Saturday night, at 7:30 Eastern, here in the United
States. It`s what if women ruled the world.

By the way, we`ve got some new poll -- we have some -- no, we don`t. What
if women ruled the world?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

And even though the next presidential election is more than 1,000 days
away, the jockeying for 2016 has clearly begun.

On the Republican side, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Rand
Paul have positioned themselves this week to be major players in that
presidential race. Bush made headlines talking about immigration and the
future of the Republican Party, while Tea Party darling Senator Rand Paul
staged a high profile 13-hour filibuster and told "Politico" he`s thinking
seriously of running for president.

Although Hillary Clinton has not said whether she`ll run, the pollsters are
already taking stock on her. In a Quinnipiac poll out just this week,
Clinton beats New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but only 45-37. That`s a
race.

She has a double digit lead over former vice presidential candidate Paul
Ryan. And she`s strongest against Marco Rubio, leading the Florida senator
by 16 points.

It`s clear that Hillary Clinton is a favorite right now in any poll, but
other Democrats may force her to decide sooner than she`d like whether to
get in the race.

Our HARDBALL strategists are here. This is going to be fun. Doug Hattaway
is a Democratic expert and consultant, and John Brabender is the Republican
on the other side.

So, let`s do the Dems, first, and the Republicans, but let`s be equal time
here and try to be analytical. Not cheerleaders for this purpose.

Looking at these numbers now, Hillary 45-37 over Christie. I`d say
Christie is at the top of his game, his shtick is working, but he`s got a
long way to go, he`s got to get re-elected. Hillary Clinton is sort of a
known quantity. Where are they at?

DOUG HATTAWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I agree with that. Christie, the
national media seems to like Christie. His shtick plays as well in New
Jersey, on the East Coast. I have no idea how that shtick plays in the
Republican Party, much less across the country and the South where he`s got
to prove himself.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HATTAWAY: He`s got a whole another to make mistakes and blunders that
could come back to bite him.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to John.

Looking across the aisle to the Democratic side, how long do you think
Hillary Clinton has to make up her mind? Not to make up her mind, but to
make it official that she`s running?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the first thing she
has to do is freeze the field. She has to be out there very quietly,
telling big donors, telling the top operatives she`s at least looking at
this and to keep their powder dry.

MATTHEWS: I see.

BRABENDER: I don`t think she`ll do anything officially until probably
after the 2014 elections, quite frankly.

MATTHEWS: When will she make it clear to the papers, to the top political
journalists and all that she`s in this race? When will she do that? When
will she sort of have to do it?

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER: I personally think she has to -- no, no, no. Here`s her
problem. Her numbers are the highest they`re ever going to be right now.
So she has to maintain this by being out there, being a thoughtful person
who`s weighed in on critical issues and make it look like others are trying
to get her to run. Not that she wants to job.

HATTAWAY: Exactly.

BRABENDER: And that`s a very difficult thing to do.

MATTHEWS: Especially when it`s not true. I mean, you either want to run
for president, guys, or you don`t want to run for president.

HATTAWAY: Well, that`s the classic front runner, the punitive front runner
never wants to step out and get the target on their back, you know? You
stay above the fray. She doesn`t need to prove herself. You know, people
know what she`s made of.

MATTHEWS: If it`s the end of this year, and we`re going -- and I want John
to answer this.

When it`s the end of this year, we`re going into `14 this time. Next
people, will people say stop the coyness? Or what will they say? If she
still has to decide?

HATTAWAY: It`s interesting because the clamoring is loud already.

MATTHEWS: What`s Biden do? If he thinks she is running, he`s definitely
running. If he thinks she is running, he may not run.

HATTAWAY: Good point. They`re close friends.

MATTHEWS: Does she owe him anything? Or not.

HATTAWAY: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: This isn`t (ph) HARDBALL. Just tough luck, buddy.

HATTAWAY: Yes, yes.

MATTHEWS: Go out there and run like (INAUDIBLE) and all of the sudden, to
run you out of here.

HATTAWAY: Yes, I think it`s an interesting situation there. They`re both
friends. They both really have the best platforms for this at the moment.

MATTHEWS: But you`re saying she doesn`t owe him anything really.

HATTAWAY: I don`t think anybody who runs, who deems themselves to be the
best person for the job of president feels they owe anybody anything.

MATTHEWS: OK. Looking across the aisle again, John, do you think she can
be beat only the Democratic side? I don`t think she can be beat now, but
what do you think in three years?

BRABENDER: First of all, look, everybody thought Hillary was going to be
the nominee in 2008. They ran a terrible campaign, didn`t concentrate on
the caucuses, which Obama did and killed them. Frankly, there is a
possibility that there will be Hillary fatigue by that point. I think
you`ll see some energetic Hispanic candidates and other women candidates.

So, I don`t think she`s the automatic nominee --

MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why I think it`s over and I think she`ll run.
It`s gender. We don`t have women presidents. None on the list of our
history, we have not got an African-American president -- thank God.

HATTAWAY: Yes.

MATTHEW: I think women my age or younger are going to vote for her because
of that. I think it`s going to be as powerful for women, my age and
younger, 10 to 15 years younger me, as it has been for African Americans.
It`s not a decision really, because at the end, they`ve just said damn it,
it`s time.

I hear it. I heard it last time around when I was with Obama. I heard it.
It was all over the place.

And I don`t think it`s going away. John, I don`t think that`s going away.
You do. You think that can go away? That gender pride. It`s our turn.

BRABENDER: I think it`s important, but I don`t think that -- women
particularly I find are harder on women candidates than anybody. And,
frankly, I think the hard part is keeping with the brand that Hillary has
today, to keep that for four years is remarkably hard.

HATTAWAY: I agree with that. It`s hard to -- when you`re high in the
polls, there`s nowhere to go but down. I think it`s really smart, to keep
your powder dry.

I agree with you on the women thing, but I think the appeal of having a
woman, I think it goes beyond women.

MATTHEWS: Of course, I`m not living it there. I say you start with a base
of more than half the voter.

HATTAWAY: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a base.

HATTAWAY: And you look at the young people, were excited to come --

MATTHEWS: I`ll just check with any woman 50-70 years old right now, they
say they think it`s time for a woman to be president.

HATTAWAY: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: You`re (INAUDIBLE) pretty stronger.

Let`s talk about your side of the aisle now. It seems to me that Jeb wants
to be considered right now. He is out there. Rand Paul has just got this
ideology that`s so strong, he has to run to represent. He`s not a
Republican. He`s an Ayn Rand objectivist. That`s what he is, politically.

Who else can take on these guys on and beat them?

HATTAWAY: Well, let`s be clear. This isn`t my side, I`m a Democrat.

MATTHEWS: That`s right. It`s Friday, I`m sorry.

BRABENDER: You can switch.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to John -- John, I`m going to you. I just had a brain
seizure there.

Let`s go to you, John. This question -- it looks like Christie would win
right now. Maybe Rubio would be in the race. Jeb I think would be -- I
don`t know about Jeb, because I don`t know whether there`s Bush fatigue, I
just don`t know.

BRABENDER: Well, first of all, you can write this down as a projection or
a prediction. I don`t think Christie runs. If you look at everything he`s
doing, he`s not worrying about Republican primary voters. He`s worrying
about Democrat voters in New Jersey and where that`s great for his
reelection.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BRABENDER: It will hurt him four years from now running.

MATTHEWS: Fair enough.

BRABENDER: Certainly, Rand Paul is trying to plant his flag in the ground
as the libertarian candidate to get -- to start with what his father had
and then expand from there and look more mainstream.

MATTHEWS: But he`s got to give up his Senate seat. The problem is he`s
got to give up his Senate seat. That`s the problem.

BRABENDER: So does Marco Rubio quite frankly.

MATTHEWS: We know that, quite frankly. I love how you do that.

Thank you very much, John Brabender. And thank you, Doug Hattaway. Thanks
for joining us.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: So let me finish tonight with this:

I really like this new poll, the Quinnipiac just did. Why? Because it
shows how exciting politics in this country can be.

Check this number, Hillary Clinton, 45 percent, Chris Christie, 37.5
percent. Study that number, eight points isn`t much to separate a woman
who everybody knows around her and I think is unbeatable in many ways, from
a New Jersey governor who still hasn`t gotten reelected yet.

But the real number there is that undecided number, 18 percent. That means
there are 55 percent out there in this country who are either for Christie
or not committed yet. Since everyone in the country has a pretty good fix
on how the recent secretary of state is, that can only mean that this could
be one heck of a race.

And why do I think that`s important? Because I want it to be a two-party
system in this country and that a huge number of people could reasonable
choose between two candidates and that both candidates, both parties, are
capable of putting forward a presidential candidate who believes that
government is important. That it`s important for both parties to work
together once the election is over. It`s important to have that going on
in the country.

Anyway, I`ll be honest, too. Nobody wants a lopsided Super Bowl. And I
don`t want a boring campaign next time -- not when I fully believe it could
be the most exciting in decades.

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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