March 29, 2013
Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, Brian Sims, Judith Browne Dianis, Michael Waldman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Wedding of the year, Republicans and the NRA.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. I hope you`re having a
meaningful Good Friday and will have a bright and glorious Easter Sunday.
Now get this. The Republican Party says that marriage consists of one man
marrying one woman. So how do you explain, or we explain what just
happened? Five of its men -- Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio
and Jim Inhofe -- have just married Wayne LaPierre. They have sealed the
bond with the NRA, apparently, in sickness and in health, until death do us
part. Actually, as we can see now, not even that. These five buckaroos
say they won`t even let the Senate vote on a gun safety measure, not even
one dealing just with better background checks.
This quintet of hard-liners calls it "surveillance" and want none of it.
This is one area where they believe in the right of privacy, darn it. They
believe in the government`s right to know what`s going on inside a woman`s
body, of course, but don`t dare ask if some gun buyer is a nut, a criminal
or a wife beater. That`s his affair, and don`t forget it. That`s their
Ron Reagan`s a radio talk show host and MSNBC political analyst and Nia-
Malika Henderson`s a political reporter for "The Washington Post."
I want you all to watch the president. I think he was prescient here at
his State of the Union. He made clear that (ph) many reasons that gun
control legislation deserved a vote, a vote, not even up vote, just a vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gabby Giffords deserves a
vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora
deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg and
the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, five
Republican senators disagree. They vow to block a vote. No vote on guns.
They write, quote, "We the undersigned intend to oppose any legislation
that would infringe on the American people`s constitutional right to bear
arms or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to
government surveillance. We will oppose the motion to proceed to any
legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun
restrictions." So there you have it, a filibuster declared.
Ron Reagan, they not only are going to fight this thing, they`re going to
make sure nobody gets to even vote on even background checks. They
consider it a privacy matter, apparently.
RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there`s a
couple of things going on here. On the political side, of course, and the
least important side, you`ve got Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz,
three of the five Musketeers here, who are really grandstanding and looking
ahead to 2016. And these three guys are going to be elbowing their way
into each other`s limelight for the next three years. So you might as well
get used to that.
But the more important thing that`s going on here has to do with democracy
and how we proceed in this country in a democratic fashion. You`ve got
about nearly 90 percent of the country that would like, at the very least,
there to be universal background checks on firearm purchases -- nearly 90
percent. That`s as close to unanimity as you get in the United States of
And yet these five individuals have decided that the Senate will not even
be allowed to vote on something like universal background checks. I don`t
know how good that`s going to stay -- in what kind of stead that`s going to
stand them politically going forward because it seems to me that there`s
going to be a backlash against this kind of obstructionism, obvious
obstructionism. But we will see.
MATTHEWS: You know, Nia, I just got to go back to rationality. I always
assume rationality in politics. What are they thinking?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, they`re thinking that if
you look at the GOP senators in -- it looks like 40 of them have an either
an A or A-plus rating with the NRA. They only need one extra vote to
sustain a filibuster. They`re looking at the reality that somebody like
Max Baucus, who`s a Democrat, probably wouldn`t support this legislation.
So I think that`s what they`re looking at. They`re also looking at a House
that probably wouldn`t even bring this to the floor. I talked to some
pretty high-level House aides...
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t Boehner -- wasn`t Boehner clapping there for most of the
president`s riff there? I was watching it. Ron, and Nia, I was watching
Boehner. He was clapping through half of that "they deserve a vote," and
HENDERSON: Well, I think that`s right...
MATTHEWS: ... get to where they start to listen to it and sat down. I
HENDERSON: Well, he said, you know, they`ll take a look at it. And that
doesn`t sound like he would bring something to the floor. Of course, it
would be his decision and Cantor`s decision. It would have to possibly go
through some committees...
MATTHEWS: Why don`t they want a vote? Again, rationality. Ron, back to
you. Why wouldn`t you want a vote? If you`re a gun-toting NRA member,
wouldn`t you want to get out there and with great pride and brio vote
against any gun control? And then you can screw all the other guys by
making them vote for it, you could nail them in their districts? Why
wouldn`t they want a vote? And wouldn`t they want to be proudly pro-gun
and make the other guys un-proudly anti-gun? Wouldn`t they want the vote?
I don`t get this part.
REAGAN: You would think so, but we do -- we do get back to that nearly 90
percent of the American public...
REAGAN: ... wants universal background checks. They can read those polls.
They know that.
But it`s more complicated than that. There are people on the Democratic
side who also are nervous about having to vote for any kind of gun
legislation. You look at a Joe Manchin, say, in Virginia (SIC). And harry
Reid is nervous about, you know, half a dozen or so of his members, seven
members or so, who would really...
MATTHEWS: If they vote -- if they vote against cloture, if they vote --
any one of those Democrats -- this is how it`s asymmetric. Once again,
American people politics is asymmetric. It`s not the same -- if you`re a
conservative, you`re protected from voting maybe too far right. I don`t
know if you`re protected or not. But if you`re a moderate Democrat worried
about your red state constituency, you`re protected by this. This is good
for you, right?
HENDERSON: No, I think -- yes, I think that`s right and...
MATTHEWS: But you can`t vote for it. The irony is you can`t vote for the
right-wing filibuster position.
HENDERSON: Right. You can`t vote for that. You might be able to vote for
universal background checks. You probably vote against any amendments
involving an assault weapons ban, right?
I think the problem is we haven`t heard any new voices from any of these --
any of these discussions. You haven`t had a Rubio-like figure, who is a
sort of gateway to the right in terms of immigration. You haven`t had that
figure around this debate. So it`s been very hard for Democrats not only
to keep their caucus together...
HENDERSON: ... but to get anyone...
HENDERSON: ... on the Republican side to be party of it (ph).
MATTHEWS: OK. I think the president`s a winner here. He has -- I was
mildly chastising him last night for welcoming back to the fight because
he`s really turned it over to Biden and Bloomberg. But he is back in the
Isn`t this good for him to have, Oh, look, I want -- just let them vote.
Well, let`s -- here he is the other day. Let`s hear him back again. He
got back into the fight on gun restrictions in a big way, surrounded by
family members of shooting victims yesterday. It was very dramatic. Let`s
watch the president yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Less than 100 days ago that happened. And the entire country was
shocked, and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and
that this time would be different. Shame on us if we`ve forgotten. I
haven`t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we`ve forgotten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How can Republicans on the right even deal with that, NIA, going
down the road, if the president`s for a vote and they`re against even a
vote after Newtown? How do they win that way?
HENDERSON: Well, you know, I think the president wins no matter what.
Even if this goes down -- I mean, he has given some of the most compelling
speeches of his presidency around this issue. But again, the reality for
Republicans is very different in their states. They see this through a
very different lens. He hasn`t been able to play the inside game with
Democrats or Republicans around this issue. He`s been very good...
HENDERSON: ... the outside game.
MATTHEWS: Nia, you`re right, except Florida`s a normal state. It adds up
to a normal state. It`s not Texas, it`s Florida. It`s a very interesting
state, where you can easily live there, and it`s all kinds of different
people. It`s not a bunch of right-wing gun-toting nuts. It doesn`t have a
Why would you want to be Rubio and being a guy who refuses and has to go
out on a campaign stump and talk to regular people and tell them, I don`t
want the Senate to even vote on this gun issue, that we must protect our
HENDERSON: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: What kind of position is that to run for president?
HENDERSON: I think Rubio...
MATTHEWS: That`s wacky!
HENDERSON: ... can`t -- you know, Rubio can`t decide if he`s going to be a
moderate guy or a Tea Party guy. He is following behind Paul in every
instance. In this instance, Paul was out first and then you saw Rubio sign
HENDERSON: With the drones, it was the same thing. He voted against the
Violence Against Women Act. So he can`t really seem to make up his mind
whether or not he`s going to be like an establishment Republican or more
like a Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: OK, Ron, suppose you`re Hillary Clinton...
MATTHEWS: ... Hillary Clinton is on the debating platform, or any of the
Democrats, and on the other side of the platform is Marco Rubio, who
supports a filibuster against any kind of gun safety. How can you not
smash him across the face with this? How can you let him still be standing
two minutes later?
REAGAN: Well, you will. The Republicans -- the Republicans will be in the
same bind they were last time. They`ll win primaries, but they`ll lose the
national election. Again, 90 percent of the public is for universal
background checks. How good are you going to look in a national primary if
you`re the guy filibustering national universal background checks here?
But these three guys, in particular -- Cruz, Rand Paul and Rubio -- are
competing against one another to be the young firebrand, young turk of the
conservative wing of the Republican Party. And they`re all trying to out-
conservative one another.
MATTHEWS: I have to go to Ron on this because I really like Ron,
obviously, and your family, and I`m thinking back on, what, all those years
ago, 1981. And I`m thinking that guy, Hinckley, was obviously emotionally
disturbed, obviously got -- still at St. Elizabeth`s because of good
reason. I think he`s out once in a while to see a movie, but he`s
basically under protective situation there.
He`s a classic example of someone who should have never have had a gun in
REAGAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: He had a pistol, what is it, a .22. It was -- you know, it was
REAGAN: .25-caliber little -- yes.
MATTHEWS: It was a pistol...
REAGAN: Saturday night special.
MATTHEWS: ... a revolver. It wasn`t a semiautomatic. I wasn`t one of
these things you can fire every two seconds. If he had a weapon, however,
of the kind we`re talking about here now, it would have been a far
different situation. I mean, Jerry Parr (ph), as courageous as he was, and
all those great Secret Service guys, up against a guy with repeated -- with
a quick-shooting gun, it would have been a different situation.
Why don`t people think like this on the right?
REAGAN: Well, they don`t think like this because they`re enthralled with
the NRA. As you said at the beginning of this segment, it`s the Republican
Party and the NRA. And the NRA is not about sportsmen anymore.
REAGAN: The NRA is a $12 billion -- shilling for a $12 billion industry.
And the best-selling gun in America is the AR-15. That`s what gun stores
sell out of. They don`t commit the most crimes with them...
MATTHEWS: What do you do with that, shoot up old cars -- what do you do,
shoot up car wrecks and canyons somewhere in LA?
REAGAN: You run around in the woods -- you run around in the woods acting
out your "Red Dawn" fantasy...
REAGAN: ... you know, imagining that you`re fighting the black helicopters
and the blue-helmeted U.N. troops. That`s what these people do.
MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a lot of people, Ron! And Nia, last thought
HENDERSON: No, I think -- I think what...
MATTHEWS: Yes, go ahead.
HENDERSON: ... you`re going to see out of the Republicans is you might see
them put forward some gun legislation, too. That`s been the talk out of
Grassley`s office. It might address some of these issues around...
HENDERSON: ... mental health. It probably won`t be a background check
bill, and it certainly won`t involve anything with assault weapons. But
they want to in some ways be on the record, too, possibly supporting
something. So maybe there`s some hope with that.
MATTHEWS: Well, they don`t like surveillance. So find out if somebody`s
crazy or not might be intruding on their privacy. Anyway -- from their
crazy point of view. Anyway, thank you, Ron. Happy Easter to you and your
mom, by the way. I think she might be watching tonight.
REAGAN: Oh, thank you. You, too.
MATTHEWS: I told her you were on tonight. I`m sure you didn`t bother!
REAGAN: Happy Easter to you guys.
HENDERSON: Happy Easter.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Ron. Anyway, Nia-Malika
Henderson, thank you, dear. Happy -- happy Christmas to you. Coming up --
how about happy Easter? That`d be even better.
Coming up: Here`s one reason why Republicans are going to make such a tough
time courting -- having a tough time courting groups they lost in last
year`s election. Congressman Don Young of Alaska just referred to
immigrant workers as "wetbacks." Thank you, sir.
Here`s another reason. A member of the Republican National Committee
posted an article on Facebook saying gays live a "filthy" lifestyle. That
was his word. Hey, Republicans, you`re not going to win new friends by
calling them names. Big surprise. (INAUDIBLE) that`s right.
It also doesn`t help when you try to stop Democrats from voting, a lot of
them minorities. We saw how that worked in 2012, or didn`t work. But
there they go again. Republicans in North Carolina right now pushing bills
to restrict early voting and Sunday voting, when a lot of blacks vote,
"souls to the polls" in that tradition, anything they can to focus on the
other side and keep them from being allowed to exercise their democratic
Also, one of the reasons behind the surge in support for same-sex marriage
is the very dramatic shift among this last group of progressives resistant
to the idea, American -- African-Americans. They`ve been shifting on this.
There`s been a 35-point net swing towards supporting same-sex in just three
Finally, the right-wing cheering section over at Fox is upset that
sequestration has ended White House tours and they`ve figured out how to
fund them again -- end sex education. Would you have made that connection?
What regular person would have said, yes, why don`t we have more -- less
sex education to pay for the White House tours? They are really flipping
out on this one.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin made clear how she feels about political consultants
in the Web video she released this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VICE PRES. NOMINEE: Don`t let the big
consultants, the big money men and the big, bad media scare you off!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When somebody`s going to hold Republicans in Congress
accountable, it`s going to be Sarah Palin.
PALIN: They talk about re-branding the GOP instead of restoring the trust
of the American people. How about rebuilding the middle class?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes, Palin sure stuck it to those evil consultants in that ad,
but the DailyBeast`s Jon Avlon looked at the figures actually compiled by
the Center for Responsive Politics. And guess what they found? Palin
spent more than $4.8 million this last election on consultants -- on
consultants, the ones she`s dumping on. I suspect those consultants are
more than happy to hear Palin knock them, as long as she keeps paying them.
In fact, what do you want to bet that it was a consultant who told her to
make that video? What do you think?
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. More than one Republican has recently
suggested it`s time for the GOP to stop being the stupid party. Well, less
than two weeks after the party`s autopsy conceded they need to reach out to
women, gays and minorities, a Republican member of the United States
Congress has violated the new "don`t be stupid rule," using a racial slur
in a radio interview. Longtime Alaska congressman Don Young used the
derogatory term "wetbacks" to refer to immigrants who`d worked on his
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. DON YOUNG (R), ALASKA: My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to
60 wetbacks, and pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to pick the
same tomatoes now. It`s all done by machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you can tell by the way he said that with such delight, he
didn`t know it was a bad word, but it is. In a statement released
overnight, the 79-year-old congressman tried to explain himself. He said
in part, "I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on
a farm in central California. I know that this term is not used in the
same way nowadays." (INAUDIBLE) cowboy (ph). "And I meant no disrespect."
Well, I don`t think he called people who were that, that. Just guessing.
Maybe they talked about them that way.
Anyway, after tough statements today, including one from John Boehner, the
speaker, and from Reince Priebus and from John McCain, among others, Young
issued a full apology saying, "I apologize for the insensitive term I used
during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska. There was no malice in my heart
or intent to offend. It was a poor choice of words. That word and the
negative attitudes that come with it should be left in the 20th century."
(INAUDIBLE) only up to 1999!
MATTHEWS: And "I`m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from
comprehensive immigration reform."
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, I`m not sure how the RNC reboot is supposed to go,
but not this way. David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones," of course, and an MSNBC -- and Raul Reyes -- he writes for NBC
I want to go to Raul. Raul, I don`t know what to make of this, except I`ll
just say in very modest defense of this guy, he doesn`t know what he`s
doing. I mean, he`s a bit older and he`s using a term, which obviously you
never called somebody a wetback to their face.
RAUL REYES, NBC LATINO: We hope not!
MATTHEWS: It was obviously a term used by owners about the people working
on their ranch. But he obviously didn`t ever talk to any of the help!
MATTHEWS: He just talked about them, apparently. Your thoughts?
REYES: Right. Well, you know, the thing that really struck me -- he did
by the end of the day issue the full apology, but it shouldn`t take a whole
day before this happens. And even when he says, "Let`s leave this word in
the last century" -- to be honest, that`s a word that didn`t have a place
in the last century, either, because it is so offensive to Hispanics, to
immigrants, and it`s something that really deeply offends Latinos.
And there`s -- I can tell you, there`s very few times where I feel
comfortable speaking for the whole community, so to speak, but this is one
of them. This is something that is a huge turnoff to Latinos and it`s
exactly -- obviously exactly what the Republican Party does not need right
now, when they`re trying to rebrand themselves.
MATTHEWS: Boy, let`s talk about while you`re on here -- and I will get to
the all-purposes David Corn.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that it is generational.
I was just looking at a new poll this week. Just in fact today I was
studying it -- that showed among people under 30 -- that`s the break point,
under-30 people, the millennials -- they don`t -- they are really diverse-
conscious. They don`t have this instant, even in the backroom when nobody
is listening, a couple people over a beer, they don`t have this reversion
or default of ethnic even identity.
It`s much more a natural thing to be positive about other groups, don`t you
notice? Or what do you think?
And the interesting thing, also, you know, younger people, they don`t see
the color like an older generation does.
MATTHEWS: Oh, that`s true.
REYES: But also, you know, the sensitivity is better. It`s higher because
they live in a different society.
They live in a changing United States. And that`s what the Republicans are
very slow to adapt to.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s better -- do you think kids who are not
Latino, who are Anglo, to use a term I have always thought was an odd term,
because not everybody is an Anglo, but they`re sort of North Americans,
whatever you want to call them -- do you think that they are more sensitive
just by company, just by keeping company?
In other words, diverse rooms, diverse communities, diverse classrooms,
diverse whatever does, in fact, make people better in terms of
REYES: Yes. Oh, yes, correct, because, you know, when you`re interacting
with people on a daily basis, you don`t -- obviously you don`t have divide.
And it`s also when you have personal relationships, you see that we are all
-- we have more in common than we have different among us.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re so smart. You`re so smart.
MATTHEWS: That`s it.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But this makes me think.
MATTHEWS: Well, you are. I`m not being condescending. You are. That`s
the key thing, is we have more in common than we know.
CORN: That`s a good question, because I keep thinking that the Republican
Party still is stuck in 19...
MATTHEWS: If there`s nobody in the room with a Latino name or background,
nobody is going to raise their hand and say, don`t say that.
CORN: Two points here. I still think they`re stuck in the 1950s. So, you
have Congressman Don Young saying, well, that was a term that we were happy
MATTHEWS: As recently as 1999.
CORN: ... 1999. That`s a big problem they have with the attitudes towards
women and to the changing demographics. But the other thing is because
MATTHEWS: You mean the pill between the knees, that one?
CORN: All that stuff.
CORN: But they gerrymandered their districts so that their districts,
MATTHEWS: Are claustrophobic.
CORN: Are claustrophobic. They`re white. They have the same sentiment,
and they`re people who also want to go back to 1950.
So like it`s easy to see a lot of these guys say, well, you know, no one
back home would be mad at me for saying this word because they have done
this to themselves. They have ghettoized themselves. And it`s going to be
MATTHEWS: We`re going to have a country, by the way, that`s going to be
like they say about the West Bank, Raul, which is going to be like Swiss
cheese. It`s going to be different communities totally clustered around
their own thinking.
Look at Michigan here today, where Republican National Committeeman --
that`s a big job -- as Dave Agema -- or Agema -- is rejecting calls for his
resignation. The former state rep here posted an offensive article on his
Facebook page Wednesday called "Everyone Should Know These Statistics on
Homosexuals," which, according to the article, include: "Part of the
homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle."
MATTHEWS: This is a guy representing a whole state, by the way.
"And homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities."
Now, that second point there, which is so ludicrous, I don`t know what the
murder rate is among gay people. I would bet it might be even slightly
lower than the straight murder rate. But I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: The idea that it`s half the murders, given the Kinsey number of
about 6 percent of the population, that they kill half the people is so
ludicrous that even the biggest gay baiter in the world probably don`t want
to think about this.
Your thought about this?
MATTHEWS: But this is really weird.
REYES: I also think on this that the Republicans, we hear a lot about
their messaging problem. I think part of their messaging problem in this
instance, and also up in Alaska, is they are very slow to realize that they
make these comments on an obscure radio station, or they post something on
their Facebook, and the next day or that day, it`s all over the word.
They just don`t recognize the power of social media and that what they say
even off the cuff goes everywhere. And it just seems like these things
keep happening again and again, and they keep putting their foot in their
MATTHEWS: Well, by the way, if you say something like this, you`re
guaranteed to get national play.
CORN: Oh, of course.
MATTHEWS: You`re not going to hide something like this -- 47 percent?
CORN: But this is a party -- this is a party, to be not so charitable, a
good part of their appeal is towards people who, if they don`t hate, they
have very negative feelings about gay people...
CORN: ... about undocumented workers, you know, maybe even about black
And, you know, and so it only takes a couple of them to sort of say stupid
things like this, and it taints the whole party. But, then again, if you
look back at the primaries, they are kowtowing and catering to that
MATTHEWS: Well, I think you`re right, because the people they`re targeting
hear the message, too, which is a good thing. There`s no secret negatives
out there anymore.
MATTHEWS: You know, it gets out.
Anyway, truth will win out this weekend.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Raul. It`s great having you on, Raul Reyes.
REYES: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, NBC Latino, and, of course, David Corn, who can speak
with authority on any liberal subject.
MATTHEWS: Up next, it`s one thing when a progressive points out Republican
hypocrisy, but it`s something else when the critique comes from a fellow
Republican. This is coming up right now on the place for politics,
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the big "Sideshow" tonight.
First, Republicans have argued that the cancellation of those White House
tours is an Obama gimmick that has nothing to do with sequester. So this
a.m., FOX News weighed in with a solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The federal government is spending apparently $350
million for Planned Parenthood-style sex education programs in Western
states, including Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, for sex education
programs starting now in kindergarten.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember the sequester? It was all about, it`s going
to end everything, we`re going to have to close the White House tours,
we`re going to have to close some small airport towers and things like
So they did that and a whole other list of things, and yet they`re able to
find $350 million for this program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know how long that would keep the White House tours
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred years. The White House could be open for as
long as us and our grandchildren would be around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Was this really a zero-sum situation? Do you really have to
choose between sex ed out in the country and White House closing its doors?
I don`t think so.
Next, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson -- I love this guy -- says his
party needs to stop letting the religious right rule the party positions on
issues like abortion rights and gay marriage.
Here`s what he said to "The L.A. Times" -- quote -- "You`re a Republican,
you believe in get out of your life" -- or "get out of my life and the
precious right to privacy, the right to be left alone. Well, then, pal, I
don`t care what you do. You can go worship the great eel at night, but
don`t mess with me and don`t go take a position I have and wrap religion
Remember when Rick Perry said this about the possibility of Texas seceding
from the union?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Texas is a unique place. When we came in the
Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we
decided to do that.
We have got a great union. There`s absolutely no reason to dissolve it,
but if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you
know, who knows what may come out of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Perry eventually stopped with that secession
talk, but not everyone in the state backed off with him. Check out the
latest pitch from secession -- or for secession from a group called the
Texas Nationalist Movement, four guys in cowboy hats there, separating the
state, physically from the continent and letting it float off into the Gulf
of Mexico. They won`t quit.
Up next, the reasons behind the stunning shift in support for gay marriage.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Craig Melvin. Here`s what`s
happening right now.
In North Korea, thousands marched through the main square in Pyongyang.
The mass demonstration was a show of support for Kim Jong-un, who has
ordered the country`s rockets on standby.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in the hospital,
where he`s said to be making steady progress.
And Americans are still shopping, despite higher gas prices and payroll
taxes. Spending was up 0.7 percent last month, leading some economists to
raise growth targets for the quarter -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
It`s no secret the Supreme Court justices are aware of popular opinion when
they decided cases, and the background music, if you will, for this week`s
two gay marriage cases was the dramatic shift in the public`s attitude on
Here`s what we found in our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. In 2009,
not 100 years ago, 2009, only 32 percent of African-Americans supported
same-sex marriage, while a majority of African-Americans, 53 percent, were
But by December of last year, 2012, the percentage supporting -- in that
community supporting same-sex marriage had jumped to a majority, 51
percent. And the biggest jump in support for gay marriage was among blue-
collar workers of all ethnic groups. Back in 2004, only 18 percent were in
favor. Now -- with 80 percent opposed back then, four out of five opposed
-- by December of 2012, there had been a spectacular shift in opinion. Now
47 percent approve gay marriage. Just 43 percent disapprove.
Joy Reid is managing editor for TheGrio.com. And Brian Sims is a
Pennsylvania state rep who`s openly gay.
Brian, thank you for joining us.
I want to start with Joy, who`s our expert here all the time. Then you can
be the new expert.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, congratulations on representing one of the more
interesting parts of the city, down -- we call Center City.
Anyway, let`s go with this. Why do you think -- if you had to write a
history paper on this, what would be your lead about why the black
community has shifted in favor of allowing people to marry somebody of the
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know what? I wouldn`t put it all
on President Obama. But I think it is a matter of leadership.
You do have public opinion leaders.
MATTHEWS: But he`s been late.
REID: He was late to it, but so was the African-American community.
Remember, when Prop Eight passed in 2008, it wasn`t because of the African-
American community, as some said, but the black community was pretty
solidly behind Prop 8 in California.
REID: And even when President Obama announced that he shifted his position
or evolved his position on gay marriage, there were a lot of churches and
pastors who were not really sure they wanted to do it, but you have had a
lot of opinion leaders in the black community coalesce behind the
president, pastors who have a good esteem and a good reputation, Reverend
Al Sharpton being one of them.
And you have started to see, because opinion of people that folks respect
is moving in that direction, that does have the power to move people. And
I think it has in this case.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I want to stay on you for a minute. And I want to be
sensitive here, but in the black community, the sensitivity about gay
marriage, is it related to the lower prevalence of marriage itself, of
straight marriage, that people are living together, not really formalizing
it in church or anywhere?
Is that a -- what is the sensitivity? What had been the sensitivity? Is
it just religious-based or is it situational and people realize that we
have got to encourage straight marriage and this somehow threatens it? Or
what was it? Is there any particular causes there of why it was so
REID: You know what? It`s the evangelical tradition within the black
church, which is very conservative on a lot of issues. The evangelical
tradition is the same as it is among white evangelicals.
It is a biblical belief that homosexuality itself is wrong and therefore it
follows from that gay marriage is wrong.
MATTHEWS: So, why did it change?
REID: Honestly, I think that what you have seen...
MATTHEWS: The Bible is still the same.
REID: Yes. I think that what you`re seeing is people -- first of all, I
believe very strongly that throughout, whether it`s for black folks or
anyone else, the fact of more people being openly gay has sort of opened a
lot of minds to the fact that, hey, you do know one who`s gay.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
REID: And the proximity of having it be someone you know, the people you
work with, the fact that you don`t have as many people who are closeted,
and I think actually there have been some shocks in the black community of
people who have been outed or have outed themselves through conduct.
You`re starting to -- people are starting to realize that there are more
gay folks in their circle than they thought before, and when you know that,
it`s harder to say, I don`t think that this person I know should be able to
MATTHEWS: Now, Brian, I understand your district includes downtown, some
of the wealthier crowds, certainly places I would love to live, like
Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill and Fairmount. That`s your area,
right, basically around downtown?
BRIAN SIMS (D), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: And those are some of
the places -- Chris, those are some of the places in this city that I would
like to live, too.
MATTHEWS: OK. Where`s your district? I`m trying to figure out your
community that you represent, being openly gay.
SIMS: You hit it dead-on.
We`re looking at Center City, Philadelphia, pretty much the core of the
city, except for Chinatown and the Convention Center.
SIMS: So everything from the Gayborhood to Rittenhouse Square out to the
art museum, including Grays Ferry, Graduate Hospital, really the core of
Center City, Philadelphia.
MATTHEWS: What`s it called? Gayborhood?
SIMS: The Gayborhood right between Chinatown and the Italian Market.
MATTHEWS: I know. My son-in-law -- my daughter-in-law and my son live
there, by the way.
MATTHEWS: And they`re straight, obviously.
Let me -- let`s go to this whole question about, was it a plus or a minus
for you running for office being openly gay? Because I think times have
changed enough that that`s a reasonable question.
SIMS: I think it was a plus.
I worked very closely with the Victory Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian
Victory Fund, to really help me talk about how I wanted to address being an
openly gay man when I was running. And there are a couple of simple truths
when it comes to elections, and one of them is that people appreciate
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
SIMS: They may not understand everything that you fight for, but people
appreciate when you stand up...
SIMS: ... and speak up for your community and honesty, absolutely, 100
MATTHEWS: Did you have any doubts when you first got into running for
office whether that was the right course politically? Was that the smart
move or just the right move?
SIMS: You know what? It was the right move.
Pennsylvania was the second largest state in the country that had never
elected an openly LGBT state legislator.
SIMS: And we have known for years that, really, electing out legislators
is the key to passing equality legislation. And you know this about
SIMS: Chris, Pennsylvania has no statewide LGBT civil rights.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, work on it.
SIMS: Working on it.
MATTHEWS: Work on it. I`m glad to have you on. That`s why I wanted you
Let me go back to Joy and this whole question of change. And you`re young.
I mean, I -- you know why, because the battle lines in so many other
issues, whether abortion rights, or a war, they seem to stay where they
are. They`re always sort of in the 40-yard lines, using football teams.
It always seems to be on abortion rights, somewhere, it`s close, it`s pro-
choice, but it`s somewhere near this battle line.
This one, the battle lines shifted so dramatically in just 20 years. It`s
-- what do you -- do you think it was -- you said, let`s get to the facts
here. People coming out, right?
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Yes, it`s been breathtakingly quick. I mean, my
kids who are young teenagers or teenagers, you know, they don`t think that
being gay is that, you know, remarkable. They don`t think -- when I was a
teenager, it`s something that you didn`t know anybody in your community
who`s gay because no one would admit it.
REID: And Harvey Milk, the late Harvey Milk, if you remember the dramatic
scene in the movie "Milk" where he says to his colleagues, you`ve got to
come out, you`ve got to come out to your families, you`ve got to talk about
it. I think just openness, itself, has caused people to be more
comfortable that gay people aren`t, you know, aliens from another planet.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Well, "Modern Family."
REID: "Modern Family." The fact that you had, even the "Fab 5", that
Bravo show where people could look at gay people and not be afraid of them,
not being -- they were somehow deviant, someone that you really didn`t want
around your kids.
Remember when teachers who were gay were pushed out of schools because
people thought they didn`t know anyone who was gay. I mean, I have people
I went to high school with I had no idea they were gay until, you know, 10
years ago. You`ll find out later, no one would ever admit it.
MATTHEWS: So true.
REID: And I think that the fact people being out and open made it a lot
harder for the rest of us not to all be Rob Portman, because when you know
someone who`s gay, when your kid`s teacher is gay, when your neighbor is
gay and know it, you can`t say, I want to see that person discriminated
MATTHEWS: Who were your role modes in being courageous in running for
office as an openly gay man? I mean, I think of "Philadelphia", even the
movie in Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks playing a man who was HIV infected
and I think of Sean Penn playing Harvey Milk. I mean, these are -- you
know, 30 years ago, this would have been an acting choice. Hey, let me
play the guy. This is a big positive development I think.
SIMS: You know, there`s no question that Harvey Milk was an obvious role
model in doing this. You know, I actually represented a good chunk of
Benjamin Franklin`s legislative district. One of the things we learned
from Ben Franklin, which is as old as politics in this country, is that if
you work towards a common goal, if you`re able to bring people together and
fight for those things we all agree on, people are going to do a much
better job of listening to you on the things we disagree on.
And Joy and Chris, you`ve touched on this in just a moment ago about coming
out. You know, we have seen more people come out of the closet in the last
25 years, the last 20 years, than perhaps we did in the last 100 years, and
what`s happened as a result is this LGBT civil rights movement, you know,
has gained in last 25 years, which -- what took about 65 years from civil
But now, what happens is every single day people see LGBT people around
them in their family, at the workplace. Every morning, they bring Ellen
DeGeneres and Tom Roberts into their household.
And that`s the people, Chris, that we`re talking about here. We`re talking
about seniors, we`re talking about Southerners. We`re talking about
working class people --
SIMS: -- who are now seeing LGBT people around them every day.
MATTHEWS: You know what I like about you, Brian, you`re obviously a great
local representative and who maybe be government someday. But I like the
fact you talk at the right speed. My speed.
SIMS: You know what, I know that you, like me, can cram about two minutes
worth of information into a minute.
MATTHEWS: As rightly we do. Happy Easter to you.
Happy Easter to you, Joy Reid. Thank you as always for coming on the
REID: Thank you.
SIMS: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, there they go again. Republicans in North Carolina
writing legislation trying to make it harder for Democrats, especially
minorities, to even register, even show up to vote.
This is crazy. They keep doing it. We keep talking about it and they keep
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: President Obama wants to put Americans back to work, as you saw
there, and he`s pushing rebuilding our roads, bridges, tunnels and airports
as a way to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let`s rebuild this country
we love. Let`s make sure we`re staying on the cutting edge.
Let`s make sure we`ve always got the best ports. Let`s make sure we`ve got
the best airports. Let`s make sure we got the best rail lines. Let`s make
sure we`ve got the best roads. Let`s make sure we`ve got the best schools.
We`re going to push on this issue each and every day, and make sure we get
the middle class going again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: More, Mr. President. More. Do more of that.
That was the president down in Miami today. Anyway, "New York Times"
columnist Paul Krugman wants to see the country invest in itself, too.
Krugman said it`s not the deficit that`s creating future generations, but
rather lack of investment in ways that make this country great -- the lack
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline
Victor. When Desiline arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait
to vote might be six hours. As time ticked by, her concern was not with
her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have
their say. Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line to support
her, because Desiline is 102 years old, and they erupted in cheers when she
finally put on a sticker that read, "I voted."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re back.
At State of the Union this year, the president promised to do something
about a voting system that forces some people to wait in line for hours
just to cast their vote. It`s a problem disproportionately affects
African-Americans we know now, who according to a recent MIT study waited
an average of additional seven minutes when whites do to cast a vote.
But in some cases, those waits are much, much longer. As we`ve learned in
Florida, for example, the Saturday (ph) before the election, the reports of
people waiting up to seven hours there. And this week, the president will
follow through on his promise to follow through to do something about it.
He set up a bipartisan commission task with improving access to the polls.
While he fights to improve access, there are still Republicans out there
trying to make it more difficult to vote.
And that`s exactly what is happening in North Carolina right now where two
bills are now working their way through the legislature that would cut back
on early voting. Will they get away with it?
Judith Browne Dianis is co-director of the civil rights group, the
Advancement Project. And Michael Waldman is president of the Brennan Group
for Justice, which strikes voter suppression efforts.
So, both of you -- I want to lay back here and learn, OK? And I think
Judith and Michael, I want to talk-- in the last election cycle, we talked
about dozens of states playing games like in Pennsylvania and Florida.
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Right.
MATTHEWS: Soul to the Polls, the Sunday closings. Now, we find out that
North Carolina is doing exactly what we pinpointed as a particular problem,
screwing black voters out of a habit that they had. They find out that
black voters like to vote on the Sunday after church. Let`s cut that down.
And they`re openly doing it.
DIANIS: That`s right. That`s because the politics of North Carolina has
changed. You now have -- you have Republican control of the legislature.
Now, you have Republican control of the governor`s house and so the
equation has changed and so now partisan efforts get to change the way
people vote to make it harder for those that they don`t want to vote.
So we know --
MATTHEWS: So you get it through?
DIANIS: Right, that`s right. So, early voting, they will cut back. They
are also trying to eliminate same-day registration, which 200 -- more than
250,000 people registered through same-day registration in 2008 and we know
that the margin of victory was over -- a little over 17,000.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s people that hadn`t voted in a while because you keep
your registration if you vote?
DIANIS: Right. Exactly. So it actually helps with people who move. You
can just go register again and it`s the easy thing to do.
MATTHEWS: That day, show up.
MATTHEWS: Anyone, one of the Republicans` sponsored bills want to cut the
voting period by a week and another bill goes even further by outlawing
voting on Sunday before the election.
Those efforts would disproportionately hurt African-Americans, according to
the statistics from the group Democracy North Carolina. Anyway, 70 percent
of African-American voters in 2012 cast an early ballot.
Do you like that? That`s a great a statistic. Seventy percent of black
voters vote before Election Day. Among all voters, that figure was just 56
percent, although that`s growing. When it comes to Sunday voting, many
African-American churches take part in what`s called Souls to Polls voting
Last year, African Americans cast an astounding 39 percent votes on Sunday,
even though they make up only 22 percent of the registered voters ion in
So, we`re learning a lot here.
Michael, your thoughts and your study of this. I think it`s great you`re
MICHAEL WALDMAN, PRES., BRENNAN CTR. FOR JUSTICE: Well, what a coincidence
that that happens to be a day that gets cut off in early voting, right?
There was really interesting because as you know, there was a real effort
in the last election, 19 states passed 25 separate laws to make it harder
for people to vote. Most of those worst laws were blocked by the courts or
by the Justice Department and there was a real backlash. So, now, you`re
starting to see something of a split personality, an internal debate among
Republicans pushing this.
In Florida, Governor Scott who had pushed basically the same exact ideas is
now doing back flips to say how much he supports early voting because --
WALDMAN: -- they believe and it`s probably true --
MATTHEWS: He`s fighting for his life down there because the guy --
MATTHEWS: is so detested in Florida, he`s got to do something.
DIANIS: Republicans got caught in those lines. Republicans are upset
because they went out to early vote and they say why did you stand against
But important in Florida is that they`re not trying to get back all of the
early voting days. So, there`s still cutting edge --
MATTHEWS: Are you saying that some of the Republicans were in line, too?
They were held up?
DIANIS: Yes, they were in line, too.
WALDMAN: That`s the thing. This early voting and these other voting
issues, they really ought not be partisan and in the past, they didn`t used
to be partisan. The early voting was not something that`s supposedly
favored one party or another and that -- and it shouldn`t matter what party
you`re in. It shouldn`t matter what state you`re in.
That`s why whatever happens with this presidential commission, which is
just going to be making recommendations to local and state officials,
there`s really no substitute, I think, for minimum standards set by
Congress for early voting registration and things like that.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back -- let`s got back to what is sneaky and
looks sneaky. It seems to me in baseball -- I`m not a baseball expert, but
every time they start playing around with the strike zone, they`ve got too
many home runs, not enough runs, right, they adjust it.
MATTHEWS: Should we be suspicious of any law change about voting?
DIANIS: Yes, we should.
MATTHEWS: Because we wonder, what do they want to change? They want to
change the results.
DIANIS: Right. And they don`t have really good reason. There`s no
compelling reason for this. All we know is that at the end of the day, the
American public wants it to be easier to vote. They want free, fair and
accessible elections. But Republicans time after time, they line up to
make it harder to vote.
In Virginia, Governor McDonnell get, you know, ready to sign off on a voter
ID law that makes it harder to vote.
DIANIS: And so, yes, the closer they get to perhaps winning, they want to
take it away.
MATTHEWS: Last word, Mike.
WALDMAN: I would say that I think there`s a good record that when this
country, which it has over time, has expanded the ability to vote, has made
it easier to vote, we`ve never regretted it. It hasn`t led to problems.
It`s only led to a stronger country.
But it should be done carefully and in a way with both parties, but cutting
back, it smells bad. It really does.
MATTHEWS: OK, Mike, I think I`ll be seeing it at my house soon.
WALDMAN: I think so.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much for joining us. Mike Waldman, he`s
done a great time in his second career after being a speechwriter for
Anyway, Judith, thank you so much. Happy Easter to both of you.
We`ll be right back.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
The nasty tricks keep coming, don`t they? You know, I`d like to think that
we at HARDBALL spotlight a problem those causing the problem might even
stop. Well, when it comes to Republicans messing with voter laws, to
smother the black vote, that`s been a case of hope tramping over instinct.
The instinct of some GOP legislators is to sit around in state capitols
thinking of ways to win statewide elections by shrinking the -- or here`s
how they say it -- the urban vote.
Well, you get the idea. They get the idea. The black community gets the
idea. And we end up all on the same page.
If Reince Priebus doesn`t like this stuff, why doesn`t he stop it? He
doesn`t like people using bad words. We saw that today. Why does he put
up with people trying to deny their right to vote? It`s a good question,
Let`s hope, maybe, Mr. Priebus will evolve. Then, again, I think the
Republican platform has outlawed evolution.
Anyway, have a meaningful, Good Friday out there and a bright, and happy
Easter. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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