updated 3/14/2013 9:12:01 AM ET 2013-03-14T13:12:01

HARDBALL
March 13, 2013

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


Guests: Kirsten Gillibrand, Anu Bhagwati


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hope for the pope.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with the election of a new pope. It brings with it
a great hope, and not just for Catholics. It promises a progressive church
on economic justice. Francis I is a Jesuit from Argentina. He`s known for
throwing off the trappings and the perks of power, living in a small
apartment, taking the bus to work.

The new pope has said things about capitalism and its failure to deliver
economic justice that could drive the right wing nuts. He`s the living
illustration for what I`ve learned of the belief that free markets need to
be offset by an active social justice toward those in need.

This is the Catholic church that looks out for the poor, that distances
itself from power and wealth, that is skeptical that capitalism will raise
all, that the poor can count on the wealth of the rich to trickle down to
the people living in the barrios and the favelas.

So big surprise in Rome tonight, the cardinals picked a Jesuit, someone
from the Americas, someone who identifies with the poor and those who don`t
get a break from sharp-elbowed capitalism. I find this fascinating and
enormously surprising. Francis I -- I like him already.

We`re going to have a big tussle here, by the way, later in this half hour
between a pair of political heavyweights, Robert Gibbs for the Dems and
Steve Schmidt for the Republicans.

But let`s start with the politics and drama of the stunning election in the
Vatican. My guests are Mike Barnicle and George Weigel, NBC News Vatican
analyst.

I want to start with Mike. As a fellow American generalist and a Catholic,
what is your -- how surprised were you by picking this guy, known for
social justice and for humility and for really looking out for the little
people, to use the phrase we often use?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, Chris, I was -- I was
actually stunned by two things, and one I had forgotten. I had forgotten
about the theater of the church. The explosion of people in St. Peter`s
Square, the universality of the church, the fact that not everyone in St.
Peter`s Square was Catholic, and the fact that the Curia, the college of
cardinals, selected a Jesuit as our next pope to me was very surprising and
very encouraging, actually, despite the fact he`s 76 years of age, a little
older than I think a lot of American Catholics expected the next pope to be
in terms of age.

He is a Jesuit. And in terms of what the Jesuits are and what they
profess, the faith that they have, the faith that they preach, the faith
that they practice, social justice, economic justice, not hiding from the
realities of economic inequality not only in Argentina and Latin America
but around the world and specifically in the United States.

I think the pope`s voice is going to be a strong one. He`s going to put an
oar in that water. He`s going to be rowing against the current that exists
right now. But he is the pope, and his voice will be heard. I`m very
encouraged by that aspect of his papacy.

MATTHEWS: George, thanks for coming on. You`re the expert. I really
liked him immediately, that first impression, the guy, just little things,
the way he was not taking instruction from the people who were
choreographing him. He said, No, give me this now, and, Do this now. He
seemed to be calling the shots right from the get-go. Maybe that`s an
overinterpretation, but it`s the way I saw it tonight.

GEORGE WEIGEL, NBC VATICAN ANALYST: No, I think that`s right, Chris. I
spent an hour with Cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires last May, and the
first thing that needs to be said about this man is that he`s a true man of
God. This is someone with a very deep and rich spiritual life. He is all
that you are saying about his humility, his simplicity.

I would not jump to any conclusions about his politics. He`s been very
critical of the Kirchner (ph) government in Argentina. He is also a Jesuit
who is something of a contradiction within the Jesuit order. He was the
provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina. He was a man of what I would call
dynamic orthodoxy.

That did not sit too well with many of his more left-leaning colleagues.
He was sent off to teach chemistry at a Jesuit high school in northern
Argentina, from which he was rescued by John Paul II.

And that`s the next thing that needs to be said here. This is a JP II guy.
This is a man very much formed by the pontificate of John Paul II, who
loved him to pieces. And I think we`re going to see a little bit more of
that in this pontificate as it goes forward.

The name Francis is obviously very suggestive of a church of real
compassion for the underdog, which doesn`t necessarily translate into any
particular political or economic program, but does suggest that this guy is
going to take a little bit of the baroque gilding off of the papacy.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and Michael, back to you. First of all, let`s start with
the ``Rerum Novarum,`` the notion here that the encyclical of looking out
for -- well, actually, skepticism towards capitalism. When I read that in
his brief life description here, I was taken with the fact that he -- I
know he may not be a Dorothy Day Catholic, but he may well be someone who
does have that usual church suspicion of capitalism. I mean, a lot of our
popes have had that suspicion all the way through the 20th century. They
don`t -- they`re not -- you know, they`re not Ayn Rand people. They don`t
buy the marketplace is the great arbiter of what`s good in the world.

BARNICLE: You know, off of the -- and we`ve only known the pope now in
terms of him being pope for what, two hours. But he is remindful, at least
to me, of an Argentinian version of Cardinal O`Malley from Boston.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BARNICLE: He`s filled with humility. I agree with George, I think, you
know, we don`t want to misread or misinterpret or interpret too early his
politics. But the fact is that he does stand for social justice. He is a
Jesuit. And we have not -- and he stands on behalf of victims, victims of
all sorts of things, victims of economic injustice, victims of social
inequality, victims of racial inequality and even -- even -- even sexual
inequality. He has, I think, addressed that in part, not -- I think many
American Catholics hoping for a more progressive view of Catholicism are
going to be disappointed.

But we`re going to let this play out. We`ve got to hear this man speak. I
was greatly encouraged by one small thing that happened this afternoon, in
that he asked for silent prayer. He didn`t stand and issue his own prayer.
He asked for silent prayer. We had the millions of people there in St.
Peter`s Square, and perhaps around the world watching, invoking their own
silent prayer.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to George on the Jesuits. I`m a Jesuit-trained guy.
I went to Holy Cross. And I love the guys of Georgetown, the priests over
there that are still there. We`re losing a lot of Jesuits. We don`t have
as many as we used to have. They`re thoughtful. They`re intellectual.
They`re deeply religious. But they sort of are, in their own ways,
fascinating people and they -- because they chose this life.

WEIGEL: Yes. Chris, a couple of things. First, let`s just go back a
second to something Mike said. One of the other things that Cardinal
Bergoglio has steadfastly resisted is the creeping left-wing
authoritarianism of the Kirchner government in Argentina.

I tried to send him a book as a gift after I came back from meeting him
last May. The book came back a month later "addressee unknown." I sent
the book to him through a private source. He then sent me a note saying,
I`m sorry for the inconvenience, but I`m sure you understand, which
indeed...

MATTHEWS: Well, what did you make of that?

WEIGEL: ... which, indeed, I did. Well, his mail was being intercepted by
the government, obviously.

On the point of his Jesuit background, this is a classic, old school
Jesuit, a man of serious intellectual discipline and capacity, a man of
real spiritual discipline. We`ve talked about already what a humble guy he
is, how simply he lives. He used to take the tram to work in Buenos Aires,
rubbing elbows with the folks. That`s who he is. There`s no put-on about
that.

So I think there`s going to be a real simplification of papal style here,
and that`s no bad thing in a church close to 65 percent of which now lives
in the global south. That`s a pope that those people can relate to.

His first big public test will come this summer when he goes to Brazil for
World Youth Day. I think he`ll be a smashing success there. It`ll be an
enormous celebration of Catholicism in Latin America.

But let`s also remember this is a guy of the Western hemisphere. The
papacy has crossed the Atlantic. That`s a threshold point for the Catholic
church, and it`s something that all of us, I think, on both sides of the
Rio Grande can take a lot of satisfaction in.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Mike, let`s talk about that politics of moving to our
hemisphere, to the Americas, first pope, obviously, in 2,000 years from the
Americas, Italian father, but he`s definitely a Latino. He comes from that
part of the world.

I was thinking, in this country, if you`re Puerto Rican or you`re Cuban or
Mexican-American or you`ve come here from Guatemala or Colombia, like so
many do, you must be thinking pretty big about yourself right now, that
you`ve got somebody like you, with a Spanish background and a Spanish
accent, in fact. You`ve got somebody like you from that part of the world
as the leader of the entire biggest church in the world.

BARNICLE: Sure. And there`s another element, too, Chris, in addition to
that, that you just pointed out. and it is this, I think. If you view the
church as a corporation -- and part of the church is a corporation -- and
if you view the college of cardinals or the Curia as the board of directors
-- and in a sense, they are the board of directors -- they selected a guy
from one of the growth industries in that corporation...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BARNICLE: ... Latin America. I mean, the huge, burgeoning Catholic
population, the growth of the Christian church in Latin America and places
like Africa and the Philippines far outpaces the growth, rather the
deterioration in growth of Catholicism in places like Europe and North
America because of what`s happened in the United States over the last 10 or
12 years. So it`s progress in terms of moving the product forward, in
terms of growing the product.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`ve got the word the vice president is going to be sent
over, not the president. That`s too bad. But Joe Biden will be a perfect
emissary for the country, as well as the president.

Thank you, all. George Weigel, as always, it`s great to have you on NBC
and MSNBC at this time, of course. You are the best. And Mike Barnicle,
as always, we think very similarly therefore brilliantly.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Back to politics. Republicans say they learned the
lesson of the 2012 election, so why are they talking about repealing "Obama
care"? And why are they issuing budgets that are even more progressive
(ph) than last year`s loser? And why are they refusing to confirm
President Obama`s nominees? Why do they vote unanimously against any gun
control, including background checks? In short, why are they doing exactly
the things that got them clobbered in November? Could it be that they care
more about tearing Obama down than getting themselves up?

Plus, the butler did it, or the bartender. Actually, the man who made the
infamous Romney "47 percent" tape has come forward. He`s going to show
himself tonight on Ed Schultz. He`s going to be Ed Schultz`s guest
tonight, but we`re going to talk to Ed about that and the surprising reason
the bartender made the tape -- well, I don`t think it`s that surprising --
and whether he realized he was holing onto political dynamite. I think all
those are true.

Anyway, the Senate panel heard grim and often disturbing testimony about
the prevalence of sexual assaults in our own U.S. military -- this is bad
stuff -- the thousands of cases and only a tiny percentage actually acted
on. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says it`s time to change all that, and she
joins us later on HARDBALL right here.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with how the big surprise out of the
Vatican will be a pope committed to social justice.

And that`s HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In a moment, more on the new pope that was just declared today -
- actually, just elected today. But first this political note. Those
voter photo ID laws are keeping likely Democratic voters from casting
ballots. That`s the conclusion of a new study that finds that voter ID
laws disproportionately hurt younger minority voters. The study found that
two thirds of young African-American voters, for example, were asked to
show IDs before voting, compared with just over 40 percent of young white
voters.

And compared with their white counterparts, significantly more of those
African-Americans and Latinos said their lack of an ID kept them from
trying to vote in the first place. The study was conducted by researchers
for the University of Chicago and Washington University out in St. Louis.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I announce to you news of great
joy. We have a new pope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Habemus papam. Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. We have a new
pope. Today`s papal election marks the first time a pope has come from
South America or anywhere in the Americas. And he took the name Francis, a
saint well known for his work with the poor. What will this new pope mean
for Latin Americans, especially Latin America background people in this
country? And what will it say about social outreach for progressives? We
are thinking politically here, as always.

Joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino. So both questions.
First of all, the significance -- geography. First time the papacy has
come over to this part of the world.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: What a year it`s been for the Latinos,
right? I mean, first we elected the president and now we`re making sure
that people are paying attention to the news that they need (ph) with the
pope.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you the bargainer!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You elected? I thought I had a hand in that. I thought I voted
for him. I guess (INAUDIBLE)

KUMAR: Come on! We flex our muscle. But no, but I think, in all
seriousness, it`s recognizing the increased clout that Latin America is
having and the importance of making sure that we`re paying attention to the
needs of the...

MATTHEWS: Just a guess, but in Caracas, in Rio, everywhere in Latin
America tomorrow, the headline is going to be screaming, one of your own.

KUMAR: People are screaming right now. And I think even here in the
United States, Latinos are incredibly -- there`s incredible pride for it.
Now, I think, Chris, though, people are trying to see how much is he going
to be able to modernize the church. As you may know, he`s actually -- he
has been against contraception, for example. He`s been against marriage
equality. And for a Catholic church that`s increasingly young, these are
issues that he`s going to have to figure out, how do you modernize them.

MATTHEWS: So how`s he going to sell himself?

KUMAR: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: He`s going to have to do something that the liberals want.

KUMAR: Well, I think one is that (INAUDIBLE) started focusing on poverty.
And that (ph) poverty`s a very big issue, not just for Catholics but across
the world, and is something that, for whatever reason, in the last decade
has become kind of a dirty word. And I...

MATTHEWS: Do you mark him as a liberation theologian? Is he -- I met one
of those (INAUDIBLE) gave us a plenary (ph) indulgence (INAUDIBLE) when I
traveled with Tip O`Neill in the old days. I went down to Rio or Buenos --
it was a busy trip...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: ... had a priest come in. He was an Irish guy. He was a
missionary down there. And he was a liberation theologian, clearly,
identifying, like -- the only two sins are nuclear war and racism.

KUMAR: Right.

MATTHEWS: You know, these guys are liberals.

KUMAR: Well, and (INAUDIBLE) and Jesuits have a tendency of being liberal,
right?

KUMAR: Yes.

KUMAR: So I think that this actually provides an open space to have an
honest discussion with the Catholic Church of how it does need to
modernize. And I think that`s one of the reasons why they pointed to him,
and the fact that he`s talking about poverty. I mean, it`s a big -- it`s a
big deal.

MATTHEWS: Did you watch him up there closely when (INAUDIBLE) Did you
notice how he was sort of shucking off those people telling them what to
do? He says, No, give me that other thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... puppets, you know, that they usually have that just sort of
do what they`re supposed to do. The ritual tells them to do it, they do
it. He was, like, calling these little mini-shots.

KUMAR: No, I think -- I mean, he basically said, I got this. And I think
you can recognize...

MATTHEWS: I got this? Who`s that sound like?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Obama!

KUMAR: Obama. Oh, dear. But I think -- but it demonstrates that he does
have a -- that he will have a vision for the church. And I think that,
again, as long as he can talk and embrace the growing demographic, which is
a young demographic of Catholics, that`s where he can actually...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`m hopeful. We have to hopeful. Thank you. I think he`s
going to be good on economics. Thank you, Maria Teresa Kumar.

Up next: Republicans say they learned the lesson of the 2012 election, so
why are they digging in on gun safety, opposing it, on taxes, opposing
them, even talking about repealing "Obama care," opposing it? That`s what
they do. And that`s ahead.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The chasm between President Obama and Republicans that was so pronounced in
his first term shows no sign of narrowing. Yesterday, zero Republicans
voted to advance the seemingly easiest of the big three pieces of gun
legislation, a background check. Zero. Not one.

They have dug in on taxes. No new taxes under any circumstances. And,
yesterday, Paul Ryan offered a budget that zeros out the president`s health
care plan. And, today, Texas Senator Ted Cruz even proposed a plan to
defund Obamacare himself.

With polls showing the president`s approval rating dropping -- a new
"Washington Post" poll put it down at 50 percent now, down five points from
a month ago -- the Republicans may have decided to stick to their old
playbook, obstruct everywhere, and hope some of the mud that covers them
sticks to the president.

Well, Steve Schmidt is the former senior adviser to the McCain/Palin `08
presidential campaign and a senior strategist on the Bush/Cheney `04
presidential campaign. Robert Gibbs was senior adviser for President
Obama`s 2012 reelection campaign and served as White House press secretary.
Of course, both are now MSNBC colleagues, in fact, analysts as well.

Thank you.

Steve, I want to start by throwing some dirt ball at you. And I don`t know
how you`re going to catch this one.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: As we have all watched for the last two or three months now
since the hell, the horror at Newtown, Connecticut, where all those 6- and
7-year-old kids were slaughtered, basically, we have all watched to see
what the government`s going to do about that.

And now we learn that the Republican senators, to a man, to a woman, I
suppose, have voted against not only they`re not going to do assault
rifles. They`re not going to do the magazines, limiting them to 10 rounds
or whatever. They`re not even going to cast one single Republican Senate
vote for stronger background checks. How can your party be completely
against gun safety?

SCHMIDT: Well, it`s an issue that I think a lot of Democrats also, Chris,
are toeing the NRA line on.

You know, my personal view is that if I was a U.S. (AUDIO GAP) I would vote
for background checks. I think it`s critical and that the Republican
senators are on the wrong side of public opinion on the issue.

But I think it`s fair to say that the National Rifle Association may be the
most powerful interest group in Washington. And those Republican senators
I think are making votes based on their political vulnerabilities or their
perceived vulnerabilities in a Republican primary. They don`t want to lose
the A rating. They don`t want to come under attack from the gun lobby.

MATTHEWS: Well, what is that about, Robert Gibbs?

ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well...

MATTHEWS: Who`s the boss? Like on the TV show, who`s the boss? Is
LaPierre the boss, or is the Republican Party its own boss?

GIBBS: Well, I think you have got Republican congressmen that are far more
concerned about a primary challenge than they are anybody ever...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: These are august U.S. senators in for six-year terms. They`re
supposed to be the guys in robes who think deliberately and big picture.
They won`t touch anything on gun safety.

GIBBS: Right.

I think, look, this is going to be an interesting issue because -- and I
think it has been for a while. The public supports this at 92 percent.
And if something that the public supports at 92 percent can`t get through
Congress, I do think it does give you a sense of the real structural
problems that we have in terms of gridlock. Something that is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But they don`t -- let me go back to Steve.

They -- your party doesn`t even want to catch the nuts. I mean, it`s one
thing to say everybody has a right to own a gun and you can be completely
pure about it. The Second Amendment means carry anything you want if you
can carry it.

But the idea that people have the right to buy a gun if they have got
problems, they`re criminals, they`re Wife beaters, they have got mental,
emotional problems that are clearly on the books. They have been ordered
by courts to do things like spend time inside. And they still can call up
and say, give me the best gun you got with the most rounds and the fastest
I can shoot.

I mean, why would a Republican want to have that position? Everybody who
wants a gun should get one under any circumstance, no matter what the
condition of their head or their emotions or their criminal record?

SCHMIDT: There are there are millions and millions of Republican voters
out there, Chris, who don`t share that position, people like -- who support
the Second Amendment, believe you have a right to keep and bear arms that`s
constitutionally prescribed.


But that doesn`t mean that the government doesn`t have the ability to
regulate at some level the purchase of guns and to make sure that guns
don`t wind up in the hands of people who shouldn`t have guns. So I think
when you see the Republican senators make the vote that they made, they`re
not just on the wrong side of public opinion. They`re on the wrong side of
public opinion when you just look at NRA members and you just look at
Republican voters.

So this is speaking to the power of the lobby in Washington, D.C., and it`s
another example, of which there are many out there, of political timidity.

MATTHEWS: Well, today, one guy who doesn`t have any timidity -- I wish he
had a little bit more of -- is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

He offered a plan to just not only to get rid of it, make sure it doesn`t
get any money, Obamacare. He wants to defund it, yes, Obamacare, which the
Supreme Court certified as the law of the land.

Let`s listen to Senator Cruz make his case to eliminate the president`s
health care plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: In my view, Obamacare should be repealed in its
entirety. And that was the very first bill I introduced in the U.S.
Senate. But, at a minimum, in my judgment, Obamacare should not be funded
and implemented at a time when our economy is gasping for breath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In other words, don`t get rid of the military. Just don`t spend
a nickel on it. Their guy is basically saying in this sort of strange
Orwellian way, we`re going to get rid of it by just not funding it, because
that`s the minimal we can do.


That guy has -- well, he is just something else.

GIBBS: Well, let`s not make sure that we don`t use Ted Cruz as a barometer
for much in Washington.

He reminds me of the Japanese soldier that we found on the Philippines
years after World War II ended still in his cave ready to go to war. The
courts decided the issue of health care. The election decided the issue of
health care. It`s the law of the land. And I think it is -- like I said,
let`s not use him as a barometer on this, because I think the same people
in the Republican Party understand that, although they may not like it,
it`s the law of the land and it`s going to move forward.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Steve, where are you on this? Do you think it`s a settled deal?
I think it is. I would like to think it is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: First president in history who has been able to do it.

SCHMIDT: Yes, it is a settled deal.

And, look, I`m not an Obamacare supporter. I think most Republicans are
not. I think that there will have to be reforms to it as time goes on.
But the problem with what Ted Cruz is doing, although it might be good
politics for Ted Cruz and his standing in the faction of the Republican
Party that he represents, is it keeps us permanently looking backwards on
an issue that Robert just described that`s been settled by the Supreme
Court, that`s been settled by the last election.

So the issue going forward is how do we project a message that the American
people will find appealing, how do we get back on track after having lost
the popular vote in five out of the last six elections. And when you keep
focused on the past the way that Ted Cruz is doing, it keeps you from
moving forward. So, it`s just bad politics.

MATTHEWS: Well, just to give you a chance to take something, take a
popular position, taxes, it seems to me that your party has made it very
hard for the president, they have dug in on taxes. Their position is they
have already given at the office. In other words, they gave to the 1
percent. And that`s it.

By the way, here`s Mitch McConnell talking on that one. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There is no revenue solution
to that, I would say to you. It has to be done by making the eligibility
for entitlements fit the demographics of America today and tomorrow. The
only way to straighten America out is to fix the entitlement issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, President Obama said that kind of inflexibility, to
refuse to even look at taxes, could scotch any deal. Let`s listen to the
president respond to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But, ultimately, it may be
that the differences are just too wide.

If their position is we can`t do any revenue or we can only do revenue if
we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid, if that`s the
position, then we`re probably not going to be able to get a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So is that -- speaking for the president -- let me go back to
Steve. I said I would give you the first shot here.

If the deal is you got to raise revenues up maybe to a trillion dollars
through reform or whatever, is there not going to be a deal? Because
Republicans don`t look like they`re going to go for it.

SCHMIDT: Look, I think there`s been (AUDIO GAP) senators that said they
are open to a grand bargain if we reform fundamentally what everybody
agrees is an inherently uncompetitive tax code that makes the country
uncompetitive, that`s a drag on the economy.

But the top rates are now 39 percent. I`m not sure much -- I`m not sure
how much higher people want them to go. Why think that 40 cents on the
dollar isn`t your fair share? And when Mitch McConnell is talking about
the demographic realities of the country, he`s correct. We need to reform
these programs in order for them to stay.

And any time that a Republican talks about reform and the president
responds in the context of this is gutting the programs, I don`t think that
that creates an environment where you can have a commonsense debate on
these issues.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you on that. When the president came back and
whipped back at you guys and said I`m not going to gut these programs, it
was like saying I`m not going to touch them.

Anyway, Steve Schmidt. By the way, I noticed that you`re in the higher
economic brackets. I noticed that new sensitivity to that 39 percent I
hadn`t seen from you before.

Up next, we now -- thank you very much, Robert Gibbs.

Right now, we know -- we know the answer to one of the biggest mysteries of
the 2012 election. It was the bartender. That`s who did it, who recorded
Mitt Romney`s infamous 47 percent comments. He did it. The working
people, they got some power, too. He`s going to be Ed Schultz`s guest
tonight. Ed`s going to join us in a couple minutes to tell us what he`s up
to tonight with this amazing whistle-blower.

And this is the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Dow hits another record high, closing up for a ninth straight session.
It`s the first nine-day winning streak since 1996, the Dow gaining five
points, the S&P and the Nasdaq gaining two each.

As for the economy, retail sales jumped more than expected in February,
rising 1.1 percent. And the Federal Reserve will now put out monetary
policy statements at 2:00 p.m., cutting down the time between releases and
the chairman`s quarterly news conference at 2:30.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of
the people who will vote for the president no matter what.

All right, there are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon
government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government
has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they`re entitled
to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I will never convince
them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their
lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With those words, Mitt Romney pretty much sealed his image as the candidate
of the top 1 percent of the country. And the callousness he showed in
those quotes for nearly half the country, 47 percent, did more than
anything else, most people believe, to derail his whole presidential
campaign.

Well, the comments were taped at a Florida fundraiser last May. And
"Mother Jones"` David Corn broke the story.

But until now, until tonight, actually, one thing has remained a mystery:
Who shot the video and what was the motivation for releasing it? Well,
tonight, we find out. My colleague Ed Schultz has an exclusive interview
with the man behind the tape tonight. It turns out he was a bartender at
the party. I thought he was one of the caterers.

And he ultimately decided to release the tape because he thought people
needed to hear what a candidate for president was willing to say behind
closed doors.

Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I simply wanted his words to go out, and everybody
could make a judgment based on his words and his words alone.

The guy was running for the presidency. And these were his core beliefs.
And I think, you know, everybody can judge whether, you know, that`s
appropriate or not or they believe the same things he does. But I felt
then an obligation to expose the things that he was saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ed, thank you for joining us. And good luck tonight. I think a
lot of people will be watching.

And I just want to ask you about what -- next time somebody has a fund-
raiser at some swank hotel or something, they`re going to clear that room
of anything that looks like a recording device. This thing looks like it
was set up on a table behind some flowers. Was it covered up so that
people wouldn`t see it? Because it looks like it was -- if you notice,
it`s all framed by stuff around it. Where was it? Do you know?

ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SHOW": Chris, it was just about 20 yards from
Mitt Romney. It was sitting right on the table. And it was not an effort
to do anything politically.

It was just a worker, a wage earner, who said, hey, I`m going to be kind of
close to one of two guys who`s going to be president of the United States.
I want to get this on tape just so I have it as a souvenir. And so he
started recording it. And when he found out what he -- what was unfolding,
you know, he was totally at odds with what was being said and thought that
it didn`t match up with anything Mitt Romney was saying out in public. And
he thought it was a serious injustice that was going to be done on the
American people.

And he thought that he had to bring it forward. He tells that story
tonight. He talks about the anguish that he went through in deciding what
to do with it, how to do it, how he used the social network, and how all of
a sudden he was cast in the thick of it when the president of the United
States used that material in the second and most crucial debate. It`s
really an amazing story.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ed, in your interview with him, you asked him why he
decided to release the tape. Let`s take a listen to his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: How big of decision was it for you to release the tape and to go
through all of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- it was -- it was tough. And I debated for a
little while.

And, you know, but in the end, I -- I really felt like it had to be put
out. I felt I owed it to the people that couldn`t afford to be there
themselves to hear what he really thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, you and I are intuitive guys. And we try to figure
out these things. From the first day, you probably figured it was
somebody. It wasn`t one of the people who paid 10,000 bucks to go in
there.

SCHULTZ: Oh, sure.

MATTHEWS: They were not going to screw the guy they were applauding. It
was a worker, I thought, one of the caterers had a point of view, perhaps,
but definitely had the access to do it. And nobody else would want to do
it.

What was that -- what do you think the atmospherics were like in that room
between the workers, as you refer to them as, appropriately so, and the fat
cats?

SCHULTZ: Well...

MATTHEWS: Was there a sense of, oh, my God, these people are sucking this
up, they`re going to love this stuff, they love that 47 percent attitude?

SCHULTZ: Well, it`s interesting.

He was not the only one in the room with a camera.

MATTHEWS: Really?

SCHULTZ: In fact, there was no restriction whatsoever. It was in a
private home. And people were taking pictures. And people were doing what
they do with their cameras.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: And he just set it right there on -- on the counter there and let
it do all the work. And then he realized what he had.

And that`s when, of course, the story started to unfold. And, personally,
it is quite a journey for the guy. You know, he could have gone,
obviously, on "60 Minutes." They`ve been after him. Every news magazine
in the country`s been after him.

But this is a pure guy. He didn`t sell himself out. He wasn`t trying to
get a bang for a buck. He didn`t want to inject himself into the election
cycle.

He knew what he had. But he knew he had to get the story out to the
American people because he thought there were some serious discrepancies in
Mitt Romney and what he was all about. And he will tell the story tonight
on what really tripped his trigger as to why he had to do this and what he
thought was the serious, serious injustice being played out.

MATTHEWS: Well, Romney was asked about that 47 percent comment on FOX
earlier this month. Let`s take a look at what he said then so many months
later. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a very unfortunate
statement that I made. It`s not what I meant. I didn`t express myself as
I wished I would have. You know, when you speak in private, you don`t
spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and
distorted and can come out wrong and be used. But, you know, I did, and it
was very harmful. What I said is not what I believe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Wow.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s not right wing, left wing, upper class, rich
screwing people. It`s totally going confidence. That guy should never
have been president of the United States.

First of all, everything he said there was not true.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What did he mean to say, 46 percent? What was this error he
committed?

He deliberately -- in fact, listening to the tape again, Ed, I know you
listen to it again, it just is clear how he thought about it, how he meant
this is my crowd, these are the people that are going to vote for me. And
this other crowd -- I need you more than ever because this other crowd of
people who depend on some of these programs aren`t going to vote for me.
So, I need you even more. It was a pitch is what it was.

SCHULTZ: There`s no question about it. And that interview, that clip that
you just played was the turning point. That was the tipping point.

That`s when this man decided that he was going to go public. And he chose
my venue, "THE ED SHOW," because we advocate for workers. We`ve been doing
that --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I was going to ask you about your trade craft and how you
got this get. So, it`s just he came to you and he said, this is my guy,
you know, as simple as that? It was.

SCHULTZ: Chris, as you well know, we all work on interviews. Some you
get, some you don`t.

I met this man during the inauguration. He knew who I was. He saw our
show in Freeport, Illinois. He knew what we were all about, what we were
fighting for. We were the show that was out there, as many others, telling
the story about income inequality and how workers in this country are
getting shafted by the people who were sitting in that room.

It was Mitt Romney`s story that motivated him to do this.

MATTHEWS: Do you realize, Ed, covering politics the way we do that -- that
it depends if it`s on tape or not? Like I was thinking of Nixon`s comments
about Jewish people and everything else wasn`t on tape.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MATTHEWS: He would still be president for eight years.

If that George Allen hasn`t said macaca to that kid with the cell phone,
he`d still be the senator. If Obama hadn`t said what he should have never
said to those rich people in San Francisco about clinging to guns and
religion, he would have been better off.

It`s fascinating how new technology, social networking is really
democratizing things on both sides.

SCHULTZ: Well, he wanted to make sure it was organic. And he wanted to
make sure that the American people knew he wasn`t going to be profiting off
this, that this was a real deal, that people needed to know, and he wanted
to go in the grassroots and let it grow from there.

And the big thing, I am -- I was so struck by the nobility of this man and
the character of this man and how -- how untarnished -- how unvarnished he
was. And he was not tarnished politically in any way, shape or form. And
he talks about that tonight.

This was not a get moment. This was something he fell into. And it
evolved into a political game changer. I don`t think fundraisers are ever
going to be the same again.

MATTHEWS: No, I don`t think so. I think the secrecy, the privacy is gone.
I hope everyone sticks around after my show tonight and watches your show.
Ed Schultz has got the big get tonight. And we`ll be watching your
exclusive interview as I said tonight at 8:00 on "THE ED SHOW."

Up next, disturbing testimony on Capitol Hill about the prevalence -- this
is really maddeningly awful -- the prevalence of sexual assault including
rape in the U.S. military between people in the uniforms. Do you believe
it? Both serving their country, one raping the other.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The most endangered governor in the country may just be
Republican Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. Two new polls out show
him under water in favorability and trailing potential Democratic
components in the 2014 election.

Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.

First, the Quinnipiac poll finds Corbett trailing U.S. Congresswoman
Allyson Schwartz of the Philadelphia suburb, Schwartz up by three, 42-39.

And in a new PPP poll, Schwartz leads by 11, 45-34.

It`s still early, but a Corbett/Schwartz matchup is going to be one of the
big ones to watch in the months ahead.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was raped during military service and during my
first assignment. That was 1988. I was 18 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I removed myself from training and immediately sought
out the assistance from an army chaplain who told me, among other things,
that the rape was God`s will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During my tour on the USS Frank Cable, I was raped by a
superior noncommissioned officer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

We`re back.

And that was disturbing and emotional testimony earlier today at the United
States Senate Armed Service Subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the
military. Many may think that only women are the victim of sexual assault
in the military, but often men are as well as we just heard. And as you
saw in that clip, some 3,000 sexual assault cases were reported in 2011.

But the Defense Department estimates the number of actually incidents is
six times that, closer to 19,000.

Now, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a review of rules that give
commanders the authority to overturn sexual assault convictions by military
juries.

With me now is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who chairs the Armed
Services Subcommittee.

And, Anu Bhagwati, she`s with the Service Women`s Action Network.

Let me start with the senator.

Senator, this idea that someone who`s taken an oath to the United States to
protect this country and uses perhaps, people under him or under her, as
sexual opportunities that they can exploit because of their command
situation, this is something that is new? Or is it just newly understood?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It`s not new, that`s for sure.
Chris, we have the greatest military in the world and I`m grateful for the
courage of those who served. But in these instances, we`re talking about
predators. They`re criminals who are targeting their victims and we`re
talking about 19,000 sexual assaults and rapes each year, more than half
against men.

And of that, only 2,400 are actually reported. Of that, only 240 go to
trial. And of that, only about 190 are actually convicted.

So you`re talking about one in 100 convictions for these kinds of crimes.

And, you know, what we`re looking for in this hearing is we`re looking for
a way to make sure that justice is served. Because we have to change the
dynamics, we have did change the culture, we have to make it possible for
men and women who are victims to actually report these cases so we can have
conviction rates increase and have more accountability.

MATTHEWS: Well, Anu Bhagwati, thank you for joining us.

Give me a sense of what it`s like, the atmosphere. Is it injustice? Is it
just big-shot men lording it over women and covering up for bad, in fact
criminal, behavior?

ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN`S ACTION NETWORK: I think military culture is
about a generation behind where civilian culture is on issues of rape,
sexual harassment, sexual assault in the workplace. When you really have
an insular system that isolates service members from outside forms of
redress that really intimidates the survivor, even I would say in a bigger
way than even civilian victims, because you`re often operating wind your
chain of command. It`s a hierarchal system in which you`re intimidated
often times by those who outrank you.

The vast majority of these 19,000 victims are junior enlisted. Just over
half of them are male actually. So it`s not a women`s issue.

And, universally, what we know is that victims feel like they`re not
getting their fair shot at justice. They`re either retaliated against with
false diagnoses like personality disorders, they`re drummed out of the
military, they`re demoted. While their senior perpetrator is promoted,
given command, maybe transferred out of the unit without any form of --

MATTHEWS: Why? Can you give me the motive? Explain it to the outside who
haven`t been in the military. Why would they cover up -- I don`t mean
whistling at a girl that walks by or something that might be bad behavior,
even gross behavior, but not criminal.

Let`s talk about criminal cases where somebody`s physically assaulted or
raped even. Why would anybody cover that up? Physical assault is a
criminal matter, it`s a serious criminal matter. They put you in jail for
years if you do it in civilian life. Why do they cover up that part of it?
That`s what I don`t get.

Well, that`s a great question and I think that needs to be asked directly
to the military. I saw it myself as a company commander where my senior
commanders swept these cases under the rug, swept the rape cases, sexual
assault cases, and sexual harassment cases, routinely under the rug. I
think it`s for self-protection, I think there`s careerism in the officer
ranks, there`s a huge desire to protect oneself and move on.

Listen, I love the Marines, the military is a great military, but we have a
serious problem with the treatment of women in particular. And also rape
mythology, victim blaming, you know, which we see throughout society as
well, but in that insulated system where you really have nowhere to go, you
can`t quit your job, you`re really stuck with the outcome the commander
provides.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- at the heart of it.

Let me go back to the senator about corrections here.

GILLIBRAND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me, if it`s a culture, it`s hard to deal with a
culture, you set rules and you teach people as they get trained -- first of
all, I don`t understand -- I have to tell you, I don`t get it. A rape is a
rape. It used to be a capital crime in part of the United States. You
don`t kid around, you don`t cover up, you don`t hang around anybody who`s
raped anybody. You don`t do business with them.

Why would anybody say that`s the old boy and protect a person who`s
committed almost a capital crime? Why would you protect a guy like that?

GILLIBRAND: Well, one thing we`re trying to change, Chris, which addresses
that problem is right now, there`s this thing called a convening authority,
be a general up the chain of command who has the decision-making authority
to decide whether an allegation goes forward to an investigation and to a
trial.

And our view is that general, that commanding officer, isn`t necessarily
trained in rape, isn`t trained in legal theory, isn`t trained in
prosecutorial discretion.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GILLIBRAND: So that convening authority is creating a, let`s just say,
it`s a narrowing aspect where not enough cases are actually proceeding.
And then, even worse than that we have an example of this in the Aviano
(ph) case, where the convening authority had the opportunity to look at a
jury`s verdict that had convicted this perpetrator and actually overturned
it. Not having reviewed the evidence. Not having heard the testimony, but
just looking at some clemency letters.

It`s disgraceful if you can have a system where there`s no accountability.

MATTHEWS: OK, one last question. What percentage of men in the military
or women in response are evil in this regard? Ten percent? Can you tell
one out of 10? Or it`s a lot worse than that? One of 100?

BHAGWATI: I would say it`s a very small percentage. The point is though
that they`re serial predators. You don`t just rape once.

MATTHEWS: Oh, got you.

BHAGWATI: You rape several times, and the lack of accountability just
encourages these serial predators.

MATTHEWS: Well-said. Thank you so much for that information. We`re going
to have to see something get done.

Senator, we trust you to get something done, Kirsten Gillibrand of New
York.

And Anu Bhagwati, thank you, I know you`re a victim as well.

When we return, let me finish with a big surprise out of the Vatican
tonight. A pope committed to social justice. This is going to be great, I
think.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish with this:

When you look at the faces there tonight at St. Peter`s Square, how can you
not have hope? Those faces glisten with the excitement and possibility
that the world`s largest church could have a leader who will deliver us to
an era of openness, honesty, compassion, and, yes, social justice. All
this could happen because Francis I, that`s the name he took, holds
tremendous power.

As we watched him tonight present himself, we saw how he was calling the
shots personally, minute to minute, not operating according to the
prescribed choreography directed to him by the Vatican officials there. I
believe that`s a good small sign perhaps of things to come.

The last thing we need is a pope locked into the woodwork over there. And
as a Catholic I am so hopeful. I want a pope who cares about the welfare
of the humble people, those without power, whether it`d be a poor farmer in
Latin America or an altar boy trapped in the sacristy.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


END

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