updated 4/2/2013 11:51:56 AM ET 2013-04-02T15:51:56

HARDBALL
April 1, 2013

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

Guests: Tina Brown, Hogan Gidley, Ben Chang, Brian Levin


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hillary Clinton, it`s about time.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. I remember when General Eisenhower ran
for president. I was sitting in a movie theater. My dad was sitting to my
right. Is he president, I asked, of the general sitting there about to get
on a plane? No, Dad said, but he will be.

Well, nobody outside of incumbent presidents, and not even some of them,
has in all the years since enjoyed such a commanding position going into a
presidential cycle as Hillary Clinton. The number one reason is that her
candidacy would be not just a campaign, but in a very powerful way a
movement. She is the world`s most celebrated woman leader by far. She has
made women`s issues an important part of her agenda. And she, Hillary
Clinton, came very close to winning the nomination five years ago. Many of
her followers are still out there, more committed than ever that she win it
this time.

And let me add an obvious. There are many women my age and older who have
spent their lives voting for men, men of uneven quality, uneven character
and uneven greatness. They`ve been waiting all their adult lives to put a
woman in the White House and not as first lady, but as president of the
United States.

For them, after too many delays, after the big delay of 2008, their
rallying cry, perhaps not even spelled out but deeply felt, deeply shared,
deeply passionate can be summed up if three words, "It`s about time."

I know a woman should be saying this, but not me, but politics is my
business. If I didn`t know all this in the air right now, I would have to
be completely out of it. "We want Hillary" is not going to be a resounding
call in this country yet. It`s going to be heard forever once it starts
and it`s going to come about a lot sooner than 2016.

Well, Tina Brown is an expert on all things. She`s editor-in-chief of the
DailyBeast and "Newsweek" and she`s holding the annual Women in the World
Summit this week, where Hillary Clinton will speak on Friday. Howard
Fineman is also with me. He`s editorial director at the HuffingtonPost"
and an MSNBC political analyst.

Tina, dear -- Tina, you`ve got the big get this week --

TINA BROWN, DAILYBEAST, "NEWSWEEK": Hello. How are you?

MATTHEWS: You`ve got the big get, Tina, the big get. You are good at the
gets. Hillary Clinton --

BROWN: Well, listen, we`re very excited --

MATTHEWS: -- I think she --

BROWN: -- that she`s coming. And you know what? She came last year --

MATTHEWS: Yes, let me -- let me --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Wait a minute.

BROWN: -- and the year before, so she really is passionate about Women
in the World. It`s terrific.

MATTHEWS: I thought that she was going to take a breather, go off to the
ranch somewhere, have a nice -- enjoy herself, get physically back in
shape, rest up, get sleeping again, eating right, the whole thing we all
talk about doing when we go from one job to another.

It seems to me there`s no respite for her. She`s going right to the big
speeches. She`s giving yours. She`s going to be visible as heck.

Front page of "The New York Times" today said, "Clinton in transition,
keeps opponents and donors frozen." They`ve reported, quote, "Hillary
Clinton left the State Department nearly two months ago, but she still
needs a staff to keep up with the considerable business of being Hillary
Clinton. A half dozen people now work for the former secretary of state
and Democratic presidential candidate in a tiny corporate space on
Connecticut Avenue down here in Washington in what is called her transition
office. Transition to what? Mrs. Clinton and her aides have not yet said.
But the question hovers over her every move and has frozen in place the
very early, but for some potential candidates, very important presidential
maneuvering on the Democratic side."

So back to you, Tina. It seems to me that this campaign has begun.

BROWN: Well, it`s very interesting. You know, last year, when she spoke
at Women in the World, she was introduced by Meryl Streep. And it was the
finale of the event. And I can tell you that at Lincoln Center, where
there were 2,500 women, just got to their feet and they roared. And it
felt then as if she`d announced her candidacy then, she could have just
taken that show and captured the White House.

Now, when, you know, four years` time, who knows what will happen. There`s
no doubt there is an enormous groundswell for Hillary Clinton. Whether it
can be maintained -- I mean, don`t forget, last time, it seemed like it was
going to be a shoo-in last time. And then along came Barack Obama and he
really captured the exceptionalism that Hillary had. Being the first black
president was actually a more -- in the end, got more traction than being
the first woman president. So that was, in her sense, an unlucky thing to
happen.

But I mean, if she`s fit and if she wants to do it, and if everything being
as one thinks it will be, then yes, it`ll be a shoo-in. But who knows.

MATTHEWS: How about Tina Brown? Do you want her to be president?

BROWN: I`d love to see her get it. I`d love to see her get it. I think
this woman is so qualified for this role. She`s been so superb in so many
different roles. Who has more experience? Who has more wisdom? Who has
more contacts at this point? This woman is absolutely so well qualified
for this job that if she didn`t do it, it would be a tremendous loss I
think.

MATTHEWS: OK. Tina Brown. Thank you. Hold on there. Howard -- Howard,
let me talk -- I`m putting some -- I think the pilot light`s been on in
Washington of a while now. Ann Lewis has an operation. She`s been keeping
the records for a long time now. It`s a group called No Limits (INAUDIBLE)
called Agency Q over on -- here on K Street. You`ve also got this office
that "The New York Times," Rutenberg`s (ph) piece, talked about, where
they`ve got this other group over there called the transition office.

I mean, usually, when you have two offices, that`s a sign something`s going
on.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Just guessing.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, and you also have Harold Ickes, who`s the master fund-raiser of the
Democratic Party and very close to the Clintons saying in that same piece,
Hold your fire, everybody. You know, that was basically an announcement to
everybody who would be a potential Hillary donor to just say, Wait, you
know, let`s see what`s going to happen here.

Everything she`s doing, everything that her husband is doing, is certainly
designed to keep the option open and to keep the possibilities alive --
Hillary doing the same-sex marriage video that she talked about, Bill
Clinton deciding whom to endorse or not endorse based on whether --

MATTHEWS: Down in Kentucky.

FINEMAN: -- in Kentucky, in the Los Angeles mayor`s race, in a Maryland
Democratic House race here. So they`re laying the groundwork for people
that they`re supporting who will be loyal to them this year, next year and
the year after, if Hillary, as expected, ends up running.

MATTHEWS: Tina, let`s get back to the other Clinton because Bill Clinton
has become the big dog in politics. He goes around state by state -- my
home state of Pennsylvania, he decides Altmire`s finished because Altmire
wouldn`t make a decision for Hillary, not just not against her. Pat Murphy
was in trouble because he -- he didn`t endorse, he endorsed Obama. Then he
went up to Kathleen Cane (ph), who ran for attorney general up there, loves
her to death. She gets elected. He`s with her.

He goes out to -- all over the place, still chasing after poor Bill
Richardson. He goes out to California and he picks the mayor`s race in a
primary. He is like the late Jim Farley (ph), the big Democratic boss
going around the country. It seems to me there`s only one purpose for all
of this, her.

BROWN: Well, there`s no doubt that Bill Clinton would love her to run. I
mean, he believes that she should have got it last time and he`s
passionately behind her, of course. And he`s making sure that those
options are very much oiled, ready to go and in place.

But I do think it`s genuine, and I don`t think she`s being coy, that she
really doesn`t -- hasn`t yet made her decision. I mean, she is
extraordinarily passionate about her entire --

MATTHEWS: Why would you say that --

BROWN: -- kind of women`s platform.

MATTHEWS: -- Tina? Can you report anything on that? Can you give me
any hard reporting why she wouldn`t run for president?

BROWN: Well, I mean, I have -- I`ve been told by enough people who do know
Hillary very, very well that she is still waiting to see whether she really
wants to do it. It`s a time-out. She needs to think about it.

She went through it. Don`t forget, you know, she had that brutal year
running. Nobody knows more than Hillary, having lived with this campaign
every single time with her husband and gone through it, the absolute
brutality of it, and how nothing is a given, nothing is a shoo-in. In the
end, she`s going to have to fight as hard as anybody did even though it
looks like it would be so easy.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BROWN: Things changed. The whole changed. The whole world has, you know,
blown up and changed and rearranged and --

MATTHEWS: Don`t you think --

BROWN: Could be hard.

MATTHEWS: -- people make up their minds about their life sometime in
their teens? Hillary Clinton, when she was at Wellesley and gave that
spellbinder of a big speech up there, of course -- Hillary Clinton at the
Regency Hotel in New York -- I don`t know if you were in the room or not,
but it was when in the Clintons first showed their head in New York, back
before the `92 race, about `91 -- she gave the big speech, followed up by
Bill Clinton. She was running as the -- as the leader of the that ticket,
in many ways, when he first announced for president up in New York for the
fund-raisers up there.

Howard, I think she`s been running since Wellesley.

FINEMAN: Well -- well --

MATTHEWS: And I`m not knocking it because a lot of grow up -- I grew up
with -- and -- and she --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Both she and Bill were running from the time they were kids, I
think.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And Tina, you`re -- Tina`s very aware of Vital Voices, which is
an organization of global women of accomplishment --

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.

FINEMAN: -- social advancement around the world. Hillary`s been very
dedicated to that --

BROWN: Yes, well, she helped to -- she found it.

FINEMAN: -- which she helped to start, and Tina`s very involved in it.
I think they`re having their big event at the Kennedy Center tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: I mention that because --

BROWN: Yes.

FINEMAN: -- that`s very much a part of who Hillary is. And when she
thinks about Vital Voices and all those women leaders around the world, I
think that weighs on the side of her definitely doing this because it`s
part of her concept of what women need to do in the world. It`s not just
about her, it`s about her commitment to activism around the world with
women. And I think that that also will get her in this race.

MATTHEWS: Well, at the back -- the question at the back of everyone`s mind
is --

BROWN: Yes, I think -- I mean, my guess is that she will --

MATTHEWS: Can I finish this thought here?

BROWN: But I think that, you know, what -- as you rightly say, I think
that she really -- you know, she brought women into every plank of what she
was doing in the State Department. And there`s no question that a -- that
a Hillary presidency, she would have the biggest bully pulpit in the world
to change those issues. There`s no doubt about that. That would bring
that focus that she knows.

But I do think there were some health issues last year and I do think that
she`s still just a little bit still in hover position. I don`t think she`s
fully, fully committed.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: But you know, we will see. My guess is that she will.

MATTHEWS: Yes, mine, too. Let me ask you, Tina, about what this means to
the vice president, Vice President Joe Biden. It seems to me that what
she`s been doing, this sort of ruffles and flourishes, this preliminary
she`s doing -- she`s certainly not hiding -- is sending a signal to him
that she`s almost inevitably going to run.

I`ve heard different stories -- I can`t report them -- that he sort of
knows that, that he`s sort of ware that it`s very hard to run against her.
He wouldn`t probably do it. What do you think position he`s in right now?
Can he even begin a campaign when she might well have a campaign?

BROWN: I think not. I think he -- I think he has to wait. I think he has
to wait. I think that he knows that if she`s running, there`s just no
point in him going through all of that. I think he won`t.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: So I think he`s waiting to see.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

BROWN: And I think he would support her, obviously, hugely if he did.
I`ll be very interested to see what she says at our event on Friday because
this is going to be the time that she really comes out and talks about her
women`s agenda, which I think will be very interesting to see because she
will have a captive audience of 2,500 people --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: -- who all care passionately about those issues --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: -- and this is her place to say it.

MATTHEWS: I said this in the opening. I`ve never seen anything like this
since Ike, when I was 5 years old or something, where a guy -- in this
case, a woman -- is so clearly the formidable candidate that no one really
could -- like you -- Tina just said, Biden wouldn`t run against her.

FINEMAN: Well --

MATTHEWS: I mean, that`s a reasonable assumption.

FINEMAN: Well, if I can put it sort of --

BROWN: You know, what was also interesting, Chris, is that she`s also kept
her policy apparatus kind of in place. I mean, she`s actually creating --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: For instance, Melanne Ververe, her former chief of staff, who was
an ambassador for women -- she`s now going to be heading up the Institute
for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BROWN: It`s almost Hillary`s really keeping intact all her kind of policy
apparatuses, with all her supporters --

FINEMAN: Well --

BROWN: -- kind of deployed in very key positions.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I agree with that.

FINEMAN: First she kept them -- she brought them out of the White House
and kept them intact at the State Department. And now she`s positioning
them around town, to Georgetown and these various offices and so on.

BROWN: Right.

FINEMAN: But my point about the generational thing -- with Ike, it was
that he represented the World War II generation --

MATTHEWS: He received the Nazi surrender.

FINEMAN: Yes and -- but he was the leader of the World War II generation -
-

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: -- after they came home. It made perfect sense to make Ike
president.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: What I`m saying here is, in terms of the women`s movement around
the world and the way Hillary views herself as part of it, that`s one of
the things that`s going to get her -- if she has any doubt, that`s one of
the things that`s going to get her --

MATTHEWS: Well, I think she --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think what Tina said she -- like in "Lawrence of Arabia,"
she`s a river to her people. Remember that guy? Anthony Quinn played him.

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: "I`m a river to my people!" And I think that`s what she is --

BROWN: I mean, there are so many people --

MATTHEWS: -- and she will not let them down.

BROWN: -- in a holding position with their breath held, hoping that she
does. That`s a fact. I mean, you know, all these key people around, you
know, the entire political spectrum are just waiting for that sign. And
there`s an awful lot of very powerful women, too, who, by the way, will all
step forward as major bundlers for the Hillary Clinton doning (SIC)
machine.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, Tina --

BROWN: You know, they will all step forward.

MATTHEWS: Tina, you`re the best. And by the way, we have a big news story
coming out of our program already. That`s one of the most powerful women
in the world, one of the most respected women in the world, Tina Brown, has
endorsed Hillary Clinton tonight. Thank you very much for joining us for
that. Tina Brown --

FINEMAN: I`ll get it on --

MATTHEWS: -- of The DailyBeast --

FINEMAN: -- Huffpost right away. I`ll get it --

MATTHEWS: -- and "Newsweek." Howard Fineman of the HuffingtonPost.

FINEMAN: I`ll get it on Huffpost right away.

BROWN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Get it out right now.

Coming up: Is the Republican Party at risk of losing cultural
conservatives, the group that`s powered them to electoral victory since
1980? Social conservatives like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee are
warning the party now not to get too modern out there, not to tone down on
issues like gay marriage and abortion. Here`s the choice, Republicans, go
to the middle and alienate the base or stay on right and alienate everyone
else?

Plus, what will we make of all the saber-rattling from North Korea? I`m
worried. I don`t know about you. That little guy scares me. I don`t know
what he`s up to. But he`s young, untested and scary. The country`s leader
is making wild threats, and we`ve responded by sending over B-2 Stealth
bombers and other military planes to that area. It`s scary. Is this all
just bluster by the North or something more dangerous? That`s the
question.

And the case of the district attorney down in Texas who was shot to death
in his home with his wife. The police say his death may be part of a white
supremacist plot. This is also scary.

Finally, the desperate case by some on the right that President Obama`s
pastor is a racist. And once again, it`s Rush Limbaugh leading the charge.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Wow, it looks like Caroline Kennedy is headed to Tokyo.
According to "The Washington Post," the daughter of the former president
will be President Obama`s pick to be ambassador to Japan. Kennedy was an
early supporter of President Obama, of course, along with her uncle, the
late Senator Ted Kennedy, during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Caroline follows a long list of high-profile ambassadors to Japan,
including former vice president Walter Mondale, former House Speaker Tom
Foley and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and also Howard Baker.
It`s a high-level position. Good for her.


We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see the party ever pivoting or doing a 180 on
gay marriage?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FMR. ARKANSAS GOVERNOR, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
They might. And if they do, they`re going to lose a large part of their
base because evangelicals will take a walk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "Take a walk." Welcome back to HARDBALL. The social
conservative wing of the Republican Party is not about to roll over and be
ignored. And as Politico reports today, they`re sick and tired of GOP
autopsies that point the finger of blame for 2012 losses at them.

Anyway, culture conservatives like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee intend
to stand firm on social conservative ground, and that ground is pretty far
to the right. Remember Rick Santorum`s comments about contraception when
he was running for president? Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: One of the things I
will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the
dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual liberty (ph)
idea, And many in the Christian faith have said, Well, that`s OK. I mean,
you know, contraception is OK. It`s not OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, you`ve got Jeb Bush at this year`s CPAC trying to
temper the party`s image.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: All too often, we`re associated with
being anti-everything. Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-
immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list
goes on and on and on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Republican Party establishment and the social
conservatives are girding for a battle between themselves. Joining me is
Hogan Gidley (ph). He worked for both Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
And Joy Reid`s managing editor of TheGrio. Thank you both for joining us.

Hogan, I don`t want to start a fight here, but I think there`s one brewing
here. Mike Huckabee out there minces no words expressing the frustration
that evangelicals have with the regular Republican Party. "They`ve treated
us," I guess, "like a cheap date, always good for the last-minute prom
date, never good enough to marry." Well, that`s -- for those of us who
remember high school, men and women both, that was pretty rich language, a
cheap date, a late call for a prom.

Is that the way social conservatives feel about the Republican
establishment?

HOGAN GIDLEY, FMR. SANTORUM SPOKESMAN: I think so. Look, I think for
years now, they`ve used us -- or that wing of the party, I guess -- and
I`ll include myself in that group -- to go out and get support, get out the
vote, turn out for those social issues, going so far to put gay marriage on
the ballot in many states, as Karl Rove so famously did, that helped propel
George W. Bush to presidency.

And then once we get there and once we actually get somebody elected,
nothing actually gets accomplished, and I think we`re tossed aside. And
now we`re left picking up the pieces, saying, Wait a minute, we were
promised all these things, and we`re getting nothing for our investment.
And I think Mike Huckabee is one of those guys who`s been on that side of
the social issue for a long time. He`s a former pastor. Rick Santorum the
same way -- not a former pastor, but his views on the social issue have
been well established.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GIDLEY: And so during the presidential election, when those things came
up, he wasn`t afraid to address them, sometime to his detriment, me being
the spokesperson for that campaign, of course. But it was where he stood
on those issues.

Someone like Mitt Romney refused to address them, had a pretty good story
to tell on social issues, but refused to address them because he wanted to
run the campaign on the fiscal issues. He left the conservatives who are
focused on social issues on the sidelines, and thus they didn`t come out
and support him like they should have.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go over to Joy.

It seems to me that -- well, it reminds me of the movie "Fatal Attraction,"
where the woman said who was having the affair with Michael Douglas, I will
not be ignored.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, you`re absolutely --

MATTHEWS: If you want to entangle with me, you`re entangled, and you ain`t
going to ignore the fact you have been entangled with me. Don`t pretend
you can have a relationship with me and then dump me on Monday morning.

REID: No, I think that is absolutely true.

Look, George W. Bush was elected and reelected in part on a promise that he
was going to enact a lot of things that social conservatives dearly wanted.
And you could say Karl Rove really did use that base to come out for him in
`04, when his election was not as assured, was not assured, let`s just say.

And one of the things that George W. Bush telegraphed that he would do for
evangelicals was a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Never
happened. That he would move some action on federal bans on abortion, that
he would make a Supreme Court, assemble a Supreme Court that would overturn
Roe v. Wade.

All of these things were promises, either outright or sotto voce made to
the conservative evangelical movement. And they got nothing for it with a
president who probably identified more with them.

MATTHEWS: Well, they got the Iraq war.

REID: But that`s not what he ran on. Remember, he was going to do the
humble foreign policy.

MATTHEWS: No, but they -- he played -- he played to the very right-wing
feelings of evangelicals about Israel, didn`t he?

REID: That`s right. And they supported -- they absolutely -- evangelicals
were some of the most supportive even of policies like the detention
policy, what we consider the torture policy. Evangelicals stuck with
George W. Bush right until the bitter end, got nothing for it.

And, by the way, there`s a theory that --

MATTHEWS: No, they got a war for it.

REID: They got a war for it. But --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They got the Iraq war. They wanted that war.

REID: Right. But they didn`t get the social issues that they thought were
going to get moved forward on abortion and gay marriage.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Hogan on that. I think that`s true.

Hogan, here`s the story. I remember when Ronald Reagan was president and I
remember that every time they had the right to life rally in Washington,
you may well have attended. Every year they had it, Ronald Reagan would
not show up. He would address them by public address, by electronics. We
should somehow hook up some sort of speaker system from the White House.

That always carried with me a metaphor. I`m with you, sort of, but I`m not
really one of you.

GIDLEY: Right.

Look, Rick Santorum issued an e-mail in support of Mitt Romney at 1:00 in
the morning. I mean, it goes to show you that while he wasn`t supportive
of that, he was giving lip service from a distance. He wasn`t in the
fight.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GIDLEY: And that`s the thing. We have to be in these fights daily as the
social conservatives. We expect once we have been promised something to
get something for it in return. But, look, these social issues, I think,
are important.

But we have got some problems here with a lot of the African -- with the
African-American community, but also with the Hispanic community. These
issues can be used as hooks to get into those communities and actually have
conversation about policy.

The problem is Republicans are so far off or have been so far off on
immigration reform, on some of the social safety nets that we can`t even
get in the door to have a conversation about the ways we`re similar.
Instead, we`re saddled with the ways we`re different. And that`s been a
huge problem for us in the last two presidential election cycles.

MATTHEWS: But isn`t it -- isn`t it the cultural right that really has a
problem with legalizing people who came here illegally, if you will?

GIDLEY: No.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t they the vociferous in opposing legalization of people
who came here from across the border?

GIDLEY: No, I don`t think so. I think the people on the right are more
focused on the law. And we don`t want people to be rewarded for breaking -
- for breaking the law.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what I`m saying.

GIDLEY: Someone like Lindsey Graham here in my home state --

MATTHEWS: That`s what I just said.

GIDLEY: I`m sorry?

MATTHEWS: That`s what I just said. They don`t want to give these people
legality if they came here illegally.

GIDLEY: No, no, no, no, no, they`re not against legality, Chris. They`re
against legality without penalty.

MATTHEWS: Oh.

GIDLEY: They have already broken the law. You can`t just let them be
citizens. What you have to do is make them go to the back of the line,
make them pay the penalty. But we should welcome everybody. That`s the
whole tenet of Christianity, for heaven`s sakes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Joy.

REID: But, Chris, as you just said, there`s a big crosscurrent between the
evangelical right, the Tea Party, the wings that have opposed immigration
reform, the most hard-line elements of the party.

MATTHEWS: Right.

REID: It all sorts of swims in the same stream.

And, the bottom line is that evangelical Christians are by some estimates
50 percent of Republican primary voters. So, to the extent that the party
looks extreme, a lot of that is due to this base that comes a lot from the
Christian right.

So, discarding these folks is not an option.

GIDLEY: Right.

REID: I mean, years ago, I interviewed Mathew Staver from the Liberty
Counsel. They have done a lot of these lawsuits on gay marriage and far,
far right conservative.

And he said, look, we`re with the Republican Party as long as they`re with
us. But at a certain point, if we don`t feel that they care about our
issues anymore, we have an option, which is to stay home. It`s not as if
they have nowhere to go. They`re not going to vote Democratic. But they
may not come out.

And evangelicals do believe that it wasn`t them who cost Mitt Romney the
election or John McCain the election. In their view of it, those two
candidates didn`t talk about cultural conservative issues and lost because
evangelicals stay home.

MATTHEWS: I know. Well --

REID: So, ignore -- so Republicans do have some risk.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Hey, Hogan, I don`t know if you have picked a horse yet, and I
hope you do because we`d like to have you on to talk about it. But who do
you think could actually win the Republican nomination with a culturally
conservative view, not a libertarian view, but who really believes that we
ought to be doing something to continue to find a way of restricting
abortions, to try to basically fight history, if you will, on the same-sex
marriage front, and to deal in those issues that are very tricky socially?

Do you think someone like that who`s willing to hold the line on the
cultural right could be the nominee? And who would it be?

GIDLEY: That`s a great -- that`s a great question. And I`m not sure yet.

But Joy-Ann brought up a great point. Fifty percent of those primary
voters are the most conservatives -- or -- conservative -- at least that`s
what we think. But for the last two cycles, we have put forth moderate
candidates. And I think one of the issues here is in that piece that
Jonathan Martin wrote in Politico, which was great, by the way, was the
term self-identified evangelical.

Yes, I`m a self-identified billionaire. It doesn`t make it so. The true
hard-core evangelicals in this party are going to stay focused on the
social issues forever, and they will not deviate from those for anybody or
anything, and mostly because they believe that their reward is in eternity.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

GIDLEY: They will risk losing elections because they don`t care about
winning elections. They care about the long-term goal.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They will just quit politics, yes.

REID: I think what Hogan just said -- I think what Hogan just said hits on
a point.

The fact that people in the evangelical right think that John McCain and
Mitt Romney are moderates is part of the problem, too. That Pew Research
poll showed that the base of the Republican Party is cleaving away from the
rest of the country. And so on a lot of cultural issues and social issues,
they are staying hard and fast in their positions, but the country is
moving away from them.

MATTHEWS: I get -- it`s easier to decide between the two parties than it`s
ever been in my life, by the way.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I mean, you sit down, you decide which party you`re in today,
it`s very easy to decide which one you`re in now. These issues are really,
really polarizing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Hogan Gidley, and thank you, Joy Reid.

REID: Thank you.

GIDLEY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the right wing is making the desperate case now, some
people are, that President Obama has a pastor problem again. Hmm. They
have said that before. And who else but Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the
attack squad? There he is bouncing up. Look at him. I love that bounce.
What is he doing?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First, when will they ever learn? Sue Everhart, Georgia`s GOP chairwoman,
spoke out against same-sex marriage to a local newspaper.

Here`s her quote: "You may be straight as an arrow and you may have a
friend that is straight as an arrow. Say you have a have a great job with
government where you had this wonderful health care plan. what would
prohibit you from saying that you`re gay and you all get married and say,
well, they still live separately, but you get all the benefits? There`s no
way that this is about equality. To me, it`s all about a free ride."

Well, that`s the head, the head of Georgia`s Republican Party saying that
her chief concern in this regard is about people pretending to be gay. Did
you ever think about a man and a woman doing exactly what she just worried
about?

Also, things took a turn for the political yesterday when President Obama
and his family attended Easter service across Lafayette Park in St. John`s
Church. The pastor, Dr. Luis Leon, called out some on the religious right
who he says are standing in the way of progress -- quote -- "It drives me
crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling people
back, for blacks to be back in the back of the bus, for women to be back in
the kitchen, for gays to be in the closet, and for immigrants to be on
their side of the border."

Now the response from Rushbo, Rush Limbaugh, in reaction to a caller who
said President Obama inspired a racist attack from that pastor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That`s an interesting take, that the
president inspires it, inspires racism. It may well be the case.

So Obama`s presence inspires this guy to go all divisive, all racist and
start jamming on the Republicans for wanting blacks in the back of the bus
and women back in the kitchen, when he can`t name a single person who does.
But the president of the United States, you may be right, may have inspired
that in this preacher.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, Rushbo, racism is the belief that one race,
whites, should rule all others. Get your definitions straight.

Next, there`s, of course, no evidence that Sharia law is infiltrating the
state of Florida, or any other state, but Republican lawmakers there are
pushing a bill that would prevent Islamic law from finding its way into
American courtrooms.

State Senator Alan Hays of Florida suggest we think of it like a vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN HAYS (R), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: Did your parents have you vaccinated
against different diseases?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

HAYS: That was a preemptive gesture on their part, for which I would hope
you`re very thankful.

And this is similar to that. Your mom and dad did not want you to get sick
from some of those dreadful diseases. And I don`t want any American to be
in a Florida courtroom and be influenced, have their constitutional rights
violated by any foreign law. That`s it. This is not complicated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So why don`t we pass laws saying the rule of Mars cannot be
applied in, say, Florida courtrooms?

Finally, the White House commemorates April Fools` Day with a special
message from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like you were expecting somebody else.

But April Fools` on all you all. I`m a cute president and I hope everyone
has an awesome day. I made it to the White House. I`m here. Peace.

I think I`m stuck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Kid President, that`s him, made his mark as a YouTube sensation.
He`s apparently risen in the ranks.

Up next, North Korea rattles its weapons again. But is there something
different this time?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

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And eBay was a winner today after several analysts raised their price
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CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The tension in the Korean Peninsula has been rising to scary levels, I
think, over the past cup days. It started February 12, actually, when the
North conducted an underground nuclear test that led to a new round of
sanctions at the U.N. on March 7. North Korea on March 7 respond by
announcing it was canceling the armistice agreement that ended the Korean
War in `53.

The United States and Washington began flying B-2 stealth bombers, which
are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, over the Korean Peninsula in what
has been seen as a show of force to the North. Well, last week, North
Korea cut off its military hot line, essentially its red phone, if you
will, to the South. And on Saturday, the country announced it was entering
a state of war.

Well, today, the South Korean leader promised to deliver a strong response
to any North Korean provocation.

At the White House, Jay Carney tried to tamp down concerns about rising
tension.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This pattern of bellicose
rhetoric is not new. It is familiar. And we take it very seriously. We
take prudent measures in response to it. But it is consistent with past
behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Where is all this heading?

NBC`s Jim Maceda is in Seoul, South Korea.

Jim, I worry about this because they`re saying things like, we can pursue -
- Kim Jong-un, who is saying that he can pursue economic advance for his
people at the same time they develop nuclear weaponry. Well, that means we
don`t have a -- at least in their minds, we don`t have a lever to punish
them if they do.

JIM MACEDA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Chris.

And we may not have a lever. You know, the big question is whether this
guy is insane or whether he is very sane, very rational and knows exactly
what he`s doing.

The South Koreans are -- I tell you, they think it`s bluster. They say
they have heard this all before, this ratcheting up of pressure, of
tension, of rhetoric, which is why this city is -- of Seoul, some 10
million people, remain relatively calm. And you think about the DMZ, only
30 miles away. It`s going about its business quite normally.

It`s always been, Chris, extremely unlikely that Kim Jong-un would launch a
full-scale offensive against the South. We`re trying to figure out where
this is all going. He wouldn`t use all of his artillery and missiles and
700,000 soldiers amassed on the border.

Kim Jong-un is a young man. He`s naive, but he`s not crazy. At least, not
the experts -- the experts don`t think that, the ones we`re talking to.
They say he wouldn`t sacrifice his country in a battle he couldn`t win.
It`s much more likely we could see a smaller strike, something like the
torpedo attack in 2010 on the South Korean vessel. It killed almost 50
South Korean sailors. That`s the kind of nightmare scenario, if you will,
or something that would trigger a nightmare scenario.

You`ve got these war games going on for yet another month. We know how
much that antagonizes Kim Jung Un.

So striking a small South Korean ship is a real danger. Why would he do
that? Primarily to gain credibility. Not just with his people, but also
with the military top brass.

He only came up two years ago, and these are the kinds of things, these
semi wars or virtual wars that do wonders for strong men like Kim.

By the way, a number of sources here were holding their breath over the
past few days, but they`re now telling us that the crisis, at least they
think, has crested. That it`s already behind us.

Back to you.

MATTHEWS: OK. Jim Maceda in Seoul, thanks for that report.

Right now, we have joining us now is Ben Chang. He worked for the NSC, the
National Security Council under President Obama.

Let`s get to the heart of this thing. Why is he doing it? And what`s the
danger to us?

BEN CHANG, FORMER NSC DEP. SPOKESMAN: Sure. I think when we look at
issues like this and scenarios like this, we look at a couple different
things -- timing, audience, and context. At the end of the day, the North
Koreans have had a knack for landing big events or announcements on
holidays. But rest assured, this is not being taken as an April fool`s
joke.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CHANG: As the U.S. has demonstrated, the government has demonstrated a
commitment to our alliances to the region, we can see that within the next
few weeks of exercises that are going on because our commitment is strong
to Japan, to Korea, and to the region.

As to why he`s doing this, obviously there are a lot of people trying to
delve into the mind of this young leader. Let`s keep in mind he`s meeting
with his own parliamentary assembly, if you will, as real or facade as that
might be. There`s also --

MATHEWS: About as real as independence in that army over there.

I`ve never seen a country with more robots. Everybody smiles the same way,
they march the same way, they move their hands the same way, they move
their bodies the same way just as long as this guy is watching.

CHANG: And, of course, this touches on the real tragedy, Chris, as you
know, in North Korea. With this military-first philosophy, all these
resources that otherwise would go to the development of their own people
are going to the military.

MATTHEWS: Why do they have a military?

CHANG: They built up this scenario where the world is against them, and,
of course, this dates back to the --

MATTHEWS: Who would want North Korea? I`m just being sarcastic. But it`s
true. Why would anybody want to invade that country?

CHANG: Well, at the end of the day, this is this mythos that the
leadership over time, you know, this fellow`s father and grandfather built
up. And as such, if you look at the messaging he`s giving his own people,
and his new administration that, at least, that he perceives this is the
message he wants to send to the new president of South Korea.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about us.

CHANG: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Back in 1950, his grandfather made a mistake of attacking the
South. Of course, they got them already down in to Pusan. They got him to
the very tip of the peninsula. It looked very bad for South Korea.

And we came in there because of the Inchon landing under MacArthur, we
threw them right back up to the Yalo. And then, we pushed too far, we
brought the Chinese in. That when you though that would happen, that
happened. It`s a series of unintended realities.

First of all, they attacked. Then the Chinese attacked, in every time we
were off base. That`s my fear. How to we read this guy to our benefit?
How do we know it`s time to scare him back into his box if we can do that?

CHANG: Well, let`s look at what we do know and what has been done. I
mean, one of the most important things, the president, Tom Donovan,
national security advisers, have been making this very clear, that we need
to shore up our alliances in the region.


I mean, these exercises, every spring, the North Koreans know this, are
very, very strong in demonstration. And you`ve already touched on, as did
Jim, the assets that are in that region because we keep these commitments
very seriously.

The other thing that has happened which is important to remember is the
passage, unanimously, including China, of resolution 2094 at the U.N. last
month or the month before, which tightens even more, not only sanctions in
general, but really goes after the means through which proliferation could
occur, smuggling can occur, luxury goods get to North Korea. This is the
way --

MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, we`ve already done that and he`s still
threatening.

CHANG: But there`s a difference, of course, as you know, between threats,
bellicose rhetoric --

MATTHEWS: My big fear is he`s going to paint himself into a corner where
he`s got to be as bellicose as he sounds, as dangerous as he sounds. And
that`s what my big fear.

We always give a right (ph) way to escape, he`s not giving himself a way to
escape, which scares me.

We`ve got to go.

CHANG: OK.

MATTHEWS: I hope we don`t have to have you back because that means there`s
trouble. We`ll have you back for other reasons. Thank you, Ben Chang.

Up next, it`s a murder mystery in Texas, I guess. And it`s a terrible
story. A district attorney is found shot to death with his wife. Could it
be part of a white supremacist plot down there? They already had the
assistant D.A. killed. And that could have been them, too.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Take a look at this. It`s the cover of the new issue of "The
New Republic." Look at those faces on the cover.

There I am along the top with Rachel Maddow and the Reverend Al Sharpton
Plus Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, and Joe Scarborough. Well, the headline is,
"Slier than FOX: The wild, inside story of how MSNBC became the voice of
the left." And the article is a strong, a proven actually article about
MSNBC president, my friend, Phil Griffin.

By the way, Chris Hayes` new primetime show "ALL IN", it`s called, debuts
tonight at 8:00 Eastern, here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE BRUCE WOOD, KAUFMAN CITY, TX: We`re very much on alert. We
obviously have some folks that are out to do harm to elected officials, and
so we take that very seriously. We`re still in shock I guess is the best
way to describe our feelings about this latest incident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Texas on high alert right now after at law enforcement official, another
D.A. was murdered. Kaufman County district attorney Mike McLelland and his
wife, Cynthia, there they were, were found shot and killed in their home
over Easter weekend. And the murders could be part of a white supremacist
plot.

Last year, McLelland`s office was part of a task force that took down
leadership in a white supremacist group called the Aryan Brotherhood of
Texas. The murders this weekend come two months after McLelland`s
assistant D.A., Mark Hasse, was gunned down getting out of his car near
Dallas area courthouse.

At the time of Hasse`s death, McLelland sent out a warning to the, quote,
"scum" to responsible for the murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCLELLAND, TEXAS DISTRICT ATTY: I hope the people that did this are
watching because we`re very confident that we`re going to find you, we`re
going to pull you out of whatever hole you`re in and we`re going to bring
you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest
extent of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: With me now from Kaufman County is NBC News correspondent Gabe
Gutierrez.

Gabe, what`s the news today with this terrible case?

GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.

Well, this afternoon, there`s been several developments. Today, we`ve also
seen some stepped up security here at the courthouse. Employees that work
here at the courthouse were escorted by armed guards inside as they came to
work. The D.A.`s office was actually closed to the public today.

This afternoon, we heard from federal law enforcement officials that agents
are analyzing these .233 caliber shell casings that were found at the scene
on Saturday. Right now, authorities are being very tight-lipped about the
investigation and law enforcement officials tell us that`s because they
have very little to go on at this point. There`s a lot of speculation
going around there, going around, like you mentioned, this could
potentially be linked to a white supremacist group.

But frankly, besides some evidence that is loosely tied together, law
enforcement officials have not confirmed that. They said it could be
anything. They`re not ruling out anything. It could be a white
supremacist group, it could be a drug cartel, it could be a copycat or a
lone wolf with just a grudge against this prosecutor. They simply do not
know.

Now, again, this all came to light on Saturday when authorities around 6:45
p.m. found Mike McClelland as well as his wife Cynthia at their home and
they found them at their home and they found lots of shell casings there.
They were shot multiple times.


According to a search warrant affidavit that we have just obtained, they
were shot multiple times. And also, we`re also hearing that cell phone
tower records of calls made locally are also being subpoenaed by the local
authorities. Again, Chris, right now, there`s a lot of speculation about
what this could be but no firm ties just yet. And authorities are really
trying to go through a lot of different avenues to see how this plays out,
Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much, NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez, who is in
Texas.

Brian Levin is the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and
Extremism, out in California State University at San Bernardino.

Thank you so much for coming back, Brian. We always have you on at a bad
time. But here we are again. And we have to be aware of what is going on
here.

What do you piece together here? Let`s not get over high on our skis, or
ahead on our skis as the president, but there was a case he was involved
with as a task force leader. We saw his very strong warning, in fact,
threat to this group, the -- suggested threat to that group, apparently.
What does it all fit together here? The Aryan league -- Brotherhood and
this killing?

BRIAN LEVIN, CAL. STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN BERNARDINO: Great question. And
let`s not forget, back in 2005, a federal district judge Joan Lefkow had
two of her family members killed and initially speculation went to white
supremacist when it turned out to be a disgruntled litigant.

But here I think the facts are a little different. Let`s look at a couple
of things. Mark Hasse, who was the assistant district attorney, who was
assassinated on January 31st, that happened the same day that two Aryan
Brotherhood of Texas members, Ben Christian Dillon and James Meldrum, both
40, pled guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges in Houston, and the
Kaufman district attorney`s office is part of a multijurisdictional,
federally led operation that was huge against the Aryan Brotherhood of
Texas that came down in November of 2012.

Also remember that of all of the domestic groups, according to the ADL, the
Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has killed the most people in the last decade or
so. So, we`re talking about a very violent group that looks for revenge.
We have an ongoing case of which the Kaufman district attorney`s office was
a part of, a small part, but a part of, and we also know that ABT members
live in that county.

So this is not just merely blank speculation. There are some pieces of the
jigsaw puzzle incomplete. The two point to ABT as the first group perhaps
to look at.

MATTHEWS: Are they connected to the prisoners you always see from the
Aryan Brotherhood? Are those gangs connected to the people inside and
outside?

LEVIN: Well, the ABT is a related group to the Aryan Brotherhood. Aryan
Brotherhood started in San Quentin in California in 1960s. Aryan
Brotherhood of Texas, which is independent, started in the 1980s. And they
have been involved in a series of killings and they basically do a few
types, mostly internal hits to people who are insubordinate within their
organization.

MATTHEWS: I got you.

LEVIN: But they also do executions as well and torture. Very few hate
crimes, though.

MATTHEWS: Brian Levin, thank you so much. We`ll have you back on at this
case develops.

LEVIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with what we`ve got the fear from
North Korea.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with this:

I think we`ve got to worry about North Korea. There`s something wild and
unruly going up there.

The new young leader seems to have no idea what he looks like outside the
country -- just check the hair cut. It`s what he wants to look like inside
that matters to this guy.

Is he the boss? Can he tell the military what to do? Is he enough of a
deity among the people to intimidate the military who might challenge him?

These are questions he`s testing right now. It would be nice to hope that
he won`t go too far to show his force of will.

But we can`t be that hopeful. I`m wondering what pressures we can apply
that would, without spooking the guy, tell him to limit his demonstrations
of strength to words -- and words alone.

His grandfather made a terrible mistake back in 1950 when he invaded the
South. It would be a catastrophe if the grandson made the same mistake.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris, and thanks to you for tuning in.


END

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