April 2, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Rep. Elijah Cummings, Stephanie Cutter, Sam Stein, Lauren Ashburn, David Stockman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Has gun safety lost?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Is the entire answer to what happened in
Newtown, Connecticut, going to be, Sorry about that, but we`re not going to
do anything about gun safety, nothing?
Wouldn`t it have been smarter politics for the president to have gotten out
front on gun safety right after the Newtown horror? He knew what the
problem was, what the solution had to be. The killer used an assault
rifle. Ban them. The killer used 30-round magazines. Ban them. The
killer was a nut. Enforce background checks.
Why did we all need a study? Why did the president think it was smart to
use up time, to give the NRA time? Why didn`t he strike while the iron was
Why do I ask this all now? Because right now, it looks very iffy that the
Congress is going to do anything, not a ban on assault rifles, not a ban on
30-round clips, not even tougher background checks. We all know why.
It`ll take 60 votes in the Senate to even bring up a vote on gun safety.
There`s good reason to believe there aren`t 60 votes to even vote on gun
safety. Got it? So I ask, shouldn`t the president have gotten out early
and stayed out there until something got passed?
Let`s get to it with former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and U.S.
Congressman from Maryland Elijah Cummings.
Governor Rendell, what do you think about all this time that`s passed since
Newtown? Who`s been winning the fight, the NRA or the gun safety folk?
ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we were
winning the fight for the first couple of months, but the tide seems to
have turned as the momentum was lost a little bit. And I think, Chris, the
president`s doing a pretty good job rekindling that momentum. And the key
here, to me, still remains getting a vote on the floor.
RENDELL: If we can get a vote on the floor, we can win. I mean, you know,
for example --
MATTHEWS: Well, you know the numbers. It takes 60 -- 60 votes.
MATTHEWS: In the Senate.
RENDELL: Right, 60. But what`s Pat -- we`re going to be out on Tuesday,
Mayor Nutter and myself and gun control advocates. We`re going to be out
in front of Senator Toomey`s office in Philadelphia on Tuesday. And we`re
going to ask Senator Toomey not to vote yes on any of these measures.
We`re going to say, The victims deserve a vote, Senator. We`re asking you
to vote to end the filibuster.
Now, what`s Pat Toomey going to do? If he`s worried about the Philadelphia
suburbs for his reelection, he ought to vote to end the filibuster.
And there are Republicans, congressmen, senators all over the country who
have to worry about that. And how can you tell the people of Newtown or
any other tragedy that they`re not even going to get a vote? That`s
MATTHEWS: I the get feeling he`s involved in a same-sex political marriage
with Wayne LaPierre -- political marriage. I don`t think he`s going to --
I mean, I`m sorry, tick off Wayne LaPierre.
Your thoughts, Congressman, because I really worry now. I look at this 60-
vote thing, this sort of ultimatum for people like Ted Cruz down in Texas,
where it`s not going to hurt him. He could be Mr. Gunman down there. It`s
not going to hurt him at all. He can be Jesse James in Texas. It`s fine
with them down there.
But 60 votes! That -- that means you got to get all the Democrats, you got
to get five Republicans and not lose any of those guys from out west in the
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Yes. And Chris, I do think it`s going
to be difficult, but I don`t think it`s impossible. I agree with the
governor. We really need to get this to a vote.
Keep in mind that the legislation that we have in the House -- on the House
side, my bill, the gun trafficking bill, has bipartisan involvement.
That`s a good thing. And the same --
MATTHEWS: If they ever vote on it. Mr. Cummings -- and you know the
business, but it looks like the Senate`s not going to vote on anything on
gun safety --
CUMMINGS: Well, I am --
MATTHEWS: -- because it takes 60 votes.
CUMMINGS: I am --
MATTHEWS: And that means the House and Boehner can hide like groundhogs.
They don`t even have to come out above the ground. They can hide down
there and say, Well, the Senate didn`t vote, why should we?
CUMMINGS: I think that would be a damn shame. As I said today at a press
conference, we`ve got a situation, if you -- if we cannot act now, Chris,
when we have --
MATTHEWS: I know.
CUMMINGS: -- 20 young children murdered -- I mean, the question is -- I
think this needs to be a wake-up call. Sandy Hook should have been a wake-
up call for all of us --
MATTHEWS: I know.
CUMMINGS: -- for our society. We`re going to allow this to happen. And
the thing that bothers me most is I that know Sandy Hook presented to us
what should have been a transformative moment. And if we fail, Chris, it
can only get worse. And I -- and I hate to see what the new norm is with
regard to gun safety.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Well, your gun trafficking provision was one that
seemed like a given a month ago.
CUMMINGS: Yes. Oh --
MATTHEWS: Now it`s in peril. "The Washington Post" reported today
"Another provision that garnered bipartisan support" -- you`re right,
Congressman -- "making gun trafficking a federal crime, could be gutted if
Republican lawmakers accept new language being circulated by the National
So having beaten back the prospects of an assault weapon back to zero,
practically, having beaten back the chances again to zero for a 30-round
clip -- to zero of a ban on that -- and I really think they`ve almost
killed the idea of stronger background check -- they`re now going for their
fourth target, which we thought was untouchable, which is you can`t have
secondhand sales to crooks, basically, and to killers.
And where do you think you stand on that? What are your odds of even
getting a vote now?
CUMMINGS: You know, I believe -- I believe -- I still believe we`ll get a
vote on that. I`ve got to tell you, the only people that should be against
this is criminals and those who want to sell guns to criminals.
CUMMINGS: And law enforcement is 100 percent behind it. The American
people -- most American people think we already have a gun trafficking law,
which we don`t.
CUMMINGS: And so, hopefully -- I haven`t given up, Chris. And I refuse to
give up because I believe that we have a duty to our children and to our
society to do better. And I think we will.
MATTHEWS: I agree. Look, I`m with you, Congressman.
Let me go to the governor. Explain this to the people who don`t really get
states like Pennsylvania or -- sort of a purple state, it`s more of a
Democratic state when it comes to president, but it`s purple.
How can you have a 90 percent support for something like stronger
background checks and have a guy like Toomey, who is rational -- he`s a
conservative guy, but he`s rational -- why would he rationally think, I`ve
got to worry more about the 30, 40 percent who are gun people, 2nd
Amendment people, year-round, rather than 90 percent of people who are
part-time gun safety people?
RENDELL: Yes, but it`s irrational, and it`s irrational because Pat
Toomey`s not going to lose that 30 percent to any Democrat. He doesn`t
have to worry about that. And most of that 30 percent believes in
background checks. Most of that 30 percent believes in Representative
Cummings`s bill. Gosh, the NRA for years stood with me and said, We need
tougher law enforcement. Well, a gun trafficking bill is tougher law
enforcement. It`s federal penalties for straw purchasers. It`s exactly
what we need.
Where are they now? They`re frauds. And Pat Toomey, if he`s smart -- and
I still believe he is, Chris -- he`s going to look and say, the people of
Pennsylvania, even NRA members, are for background checks.
RENDELL: The people of Pennsylvania overwhelmingly support trafficking.
MATTHEWS: Where`s the Club for Growth?
RENDELL: Why would he take the risk?
MATTHEWS: Where`s the Club for Growth?
RENDELL: The Club for Growth is out of this issue. I think it`s out of
MATTHEWS: Let me go to something that the public seems to agree on. I
mean, Mr. Cummings, you`ve taken a pretty moderate approach to this, pretty
center-left, or centrist, anyway. Look at this. Here`s Wayne LaPierre`s
answer to school safety. It`s following the Newtown massacre, of course.
Here`s what he said. And unfortunately for people who are for gun safety,
this seems to getting more attention and support than a lot of the stuff
that even the polls show should pass.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The only way to stop a monster
from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan
of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is
a good guy with a gun. I call on Congress today to act immediately to
appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every
single school in this nation. And to do it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the NRA today, Asa Hutchinson -- he echoed LaPierre`s
argument that the only way to stop gun violence is with more guns. He
announced an NRA-funded plan for, quote, "school safety." Here`s Asa
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASA HUTCHINSON: We also have prepared for the first time that I`m aware of
a model training program for selected and designated armed school
personnel. Now, this is probably the one item that catches everybody`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And it should. And the "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows there
is considerable support for armed guards in schools. Now, this is one of
those interesting polls, more typical of politics -- 50 percent support
armed guards in school, 48 percent oppose.
Mr. Cummings, what do you think about that? I mean, sometimes -- I just
drove by a local public elementary school in D.C. this morning. There was
a squad car out. And I said, That`s OK. That`s a good thing. I
understand why that squad car is parked there. Is that a good thing or
not, the police there during school time?
CUMMINGS: I think that -- I think putting more guns -- - putting guns in
schools I don`t think is necessarily a good idea. On the other hand, if
local jurisdictions want to protect their children that way, fine. The
question is, are we creating a false sense of security, number one? Number
two, who can afford it? I mean, we`re cutting back on everything.
CUMMINGS: We`re even cutting back on teachers. And -- and --
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s wrong with a squad car, the cop, the policeman?
He`s inside. He`s got his handgun. He may have more firepower in the car
if something goes wrong, or better yet, if a nut goes by or a bad guy goes
by, he sees that car, I think I`ll try somewhere else. I mean, why would a
guy go in there with a gun if he sees a policeman there with a gun?
CUMMINGS: But keep in mind, Chris, you`re talking about schools. We`re
having problems with gun safety in shopping malls, movies --
MATTHEWS: I know.
CUMMINGS: -- and all sorts of places. So I mean, I don`t want -- what
I`ve said on this is that if -- like I said, if folk want to do that, fine.
But not -- I don`t want that to be a distraction in that because -- as if
that`s going to resolve our issues. There are a lot more issues than that.
CUMMINGS: And so hopefully, you know, they`ll go forward with their plan,
but I got to tell you, most jurisdictions probably won`t be able to afford
to have the guard anyway.
MATTHEWS: Well, Greg Sargent of "The Washington Post" reports today that
Democrats hope to pressure Senator John McCain into supporting expanded
background checks, and it turns out McCain did voice support for expanded
background checks back when he ran in 2000. Remember that moderate McCain
who was running for president back there against W.? Sargent writes the
spot was unearthed by a Democrat.
But let`s watch John McCain, the gun safety man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), 2000 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m John McCain with
some straight talk. Convicted felons have been able to buy and sell
thousands of guns at gun shows because of a loophole in the law. Many were
later used in crimes. That`s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor, can we win this fight with archaeology like that,
digging up old tapes from the --
MATTHEWS: The sacred scrolls, if you will?
RENDELL: But you know, I think Representative Cummings hit on a very
important point. We can`t let that NRA bill be a distraction. We can`t
let people say, Well, I voted to do something about gun safety, I voted to
make our schools safer.
First of all, it doesn`t work. In Columbine, one of the worst tragedies in
the history of this country, there was an armed guard on the school
grounds. It didn`t help a bit because those armed guards will carry
pistols, maybe a Glock, they`re going to be outgunned by these madmen all
the time because we don`t do anything about assault rifles or high-capacity
RENDELL: Look, the fight isn`t over. It isn`t over. And we can win this
if we can get it to the floor. And we`ve got to put their feet to the
fire. We`ve got to go to Pat Meehan, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach --
MATTHEWS: If you get Toomey tomorrow, we`re going to ring that bell for
you, Governor. If you get Pat Toomey to come out for cloture tomorrow, we
will announce it first thing tomorrow night that you have turned this guy,
to let people vote.
RENDELL: But there are people like me all over the country, and we aren`t
giving up. We are not giving up. And I know the representative isn`t
CUMMINGS: Definitely not.
RENDELL: We`re going to force these guys to sign discharge positions --
MATTHEWS: OK --
RENDELL: -- force these guys to vote against filibuster. And I believe
we still have a chance.
MATTHEWS: Well, just don`t endorse him if he does do it, OK, Governor?
CUMMINGS: Yes, please don`t.
MATTHEWS: Just kidding! I don`t think he`ll do that no matter what he
MATTHEWS: You`ll hit him with a rubber hose before you`ll do that. Thank
CUMMINGS: All right.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Governor, Governor Rendell, and thank you, Congressman
Elijah Cummings. I do respect immensely what you`re trying to, but I see
the uphill fight.
Coming up: Shouldn`t the president of the United States be out there
fighting more for this, for us? Shouldn`t he be leading the fight on gun
safety right now? Not Bloomberg, not Biden. By the way, Libya was over
there. Newtown is here. This is no time to lead from behind.
Also, Republicans in three states are pushing bills to eliminate sex ed for
teens -- against sex education. But at the same time Republicans are
making it harder for some women to have abortion in certain states, they`re
making it more likely for teens to get pregnant. Duh!
And what`s causing that North Korean dictator to rattle his guns and act so
scary? Well, Christian radio host Rick Wiles says it`s all about gay
marriage here. Boy, does he connect the dots! What do you make of that?
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with how the country needs a leader on gun
safety. I`m on that rant tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Here comes another one. Mark Kirk of Illinois has become
the second Republican senator to back marriage equality. Did it today.
Senator Kirk announced his support following Ohio`s, actually, Rob Portman.
Kirk said in a statement, "Same-sex couples should have the right to civil
marriage. Our time on this earth is limited. I know that better than
most." He`s been unhealthy. "Well, life comes down to who you love and
who loves you back," he said. "Government has no place in the middle."
That is so well said.
And three more Democratic senators have announced their support for
marriage equality. There they are, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tom Carper
of Delaware and Pennsylvania`s Bob Casey, who called me about it yesterday.
It`s a big deal for him.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama won a resounding
victory over Mitt Romney last November, ushering in his second term with a
promise he was always there to tackle the issues important to the country.
But lately, I keep feeling his absence. I mean the president`s absence. I
don`t see him demanding the debate over the gun issue. I don`t see him on
the front pages or leading the evening news.
Is this strategic on his part? I allow that. Does he believe that his
all-out support would endanger gun safety, for example? Well, he`s -- his
lack of engagement certainly isn`t helping that fight.
Stephanie Cutter served in the Obama White House and was the deputy
campaign manager for his reelection campaign. And I just told her a minute
ago today, I think she really, like a lot of people in the campaign, did
fantastic work. And when you win, everybody did fantastic work.
MATTHEWS: And Sam Stein is the political editor and the White House
correspondent -- he is really tough. This guy`s a solid, tough journalist.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think you lean forward enough, but that`s all right.
Let`s talk -- let`s talk about the president`s role. You and I can --
well, you`re a publicity person. You understand communications. There are
times when the president`s on the front page. I was working for Tip for
those years, he`d say, I don`t have to be on the front page every day. So
we know when you`re there.
Lately, since -- three or four months, the president`s not been out there.
He`s not been dominating the -- Bloomberg`s been out there, Biden`s been
out there. Let`s take gun safety. Why hasn`t the president been
consistently hard-charging since Newtown on guns?
STEPHANIE CUTTER, FMR. DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Well,
Chris, I think he has.
MATTHEWS: No, out front.
CUTTER: And out front. I mean, you saw last Thursday the event he did at
the White House.
MATTHEWS: Every day, I get up and read the papers.
CUTTER: Well, we can`t control --
MATTHEWS: Stephanie, I read the papers every day. I watch the news --
CUTTER: Chris, we can`t control what people put on their front pages.
MATTHEWS: Well, where is it?
CUTTER: But it did make some front pages last week. Now, he has talked
about gun safety and curbing gun violence since the Newtown tragedy -- the
State of the Union, the inaugural address, half dozen events. He`s
traveling to Colorado tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CUTTER: He`s traveling to Connecticut next week.
MATTHEWS: So why do I --
MATTHEWS: Why do I, who has an appetite for Obama, who would like to see
him out front being our nation`s leader, not just the titular head of the
country but the actual leader on big left/right fights like gun safety -- I
want to ask you a strategic question. I`m going to go to Sam. Has he
calculated that he is too left, he`s not the right guy to do gun safety,
that Biden was a better guy because he`s more of a regular guy, more of a
street corner guy, not exactly a big liberal in his image. Why did he put
Biden out front?
CUTTER: I think he put Biden out front in terms of coming up with a
proposal so that, you know, that in-depth work could have been done.
CUTTER: But look --
MATTHEWS: First of all, then --
MATTHEWS: Sam, you didn`t have to have an in-depth study --
MATTHEWS: -- problem was assault weapons. A guy used assault weapons to
kill those kids. You didn`t need an in-depth study to find out that the
30-round clips were a problem. He used 30-round clips. And you didn`t
know that -- you didn`t have to go digging for a month or two to find out
we need better background checks when a nut was doing the shooting.
So everything was handed to him in the first headline of what to do. He
comes back months later with exactly what he should have started with and
common sense would have told him to do it. All the meanwhile, Lane Poppy -
- Wayne LaPierre, or whatever his name is, raising money, getting together,
starting his storming of the castle. To now I`m beginning to think that
Wayne LaPierre`s got the upper hand here. It scares me that the United
States Senate may not even vote on this issue. Your thoughts.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTONPOST: There`s two types of dramas that we have to
consider. One of the reasons that they did this whole study period was so
they can get all the stakeholders on the same page. They knew they weren`t
going to get the NRA, but for instance, the sportsmen, the hunters, the
CUTTER: Which they have.
STEIN: They wanted them all on the same page. And I think that`s
CUTTER: The educators.
STEIN: I think that`s contributed to why you have some of these proposals
polling so well. What they failed to do was to take into account that on
the Hill, you have a whole -- a totally different drama playing out in
which a lot of these Republican members, and including some of the
conservative Democratic members, aren`t listening to the --
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to vote on this.
STEIN: They don`t want to vote on this.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go back to you, Stephanie.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get off the issue of the president.
CUTTER: OK. Let me just make one point to you about the vice president.
MATTHEWS: Sixty votes. How are you going to get 60 votes? Harry Reid,
who is a better vote counter than any of us, couldn`t get 40 for the
assault weapons ban.
Now the new standard is 60. They`re 20-some short on gun safety.
CUTTER: Well, no. Well, number one, the vice president is out in front of
this because he actually authored the last crime bill that passed Congress.
MATTHEWS: In the `60s.
STEIN: No, the `94.
MATTHEWS: Oh, the `94.
CUTTER: Come on.
So, he has a lot of credibility on this and he has a lot of sway in the
Senate in getting this done. Number two, they`re not 20 votes short on the
background check. Every day, there`s somebody else that is coming out for
a national background check. Everybody wants a bipartisan deal.
MATTHEWS: How many votes they got for background check --
CUTTER: Everybody wants a bipartisan deal. And they`re continuing to work
MATTHEWS: How many do they got? How many do they got?
STEIN: The truth is right now they are probably 60 votes short, if you
look at the bill --
MATTHEWS: Sixteen short?
STEIN: Sixty -- they`re short of 60 votes.
MATTHEWS: How short?
STEIN: Now, they need about five more people. And they`re going to be
working with Tom Coburn.
We have a story going up tonight that Tom Coburn has essentially been made
the linchpin of this whole --
MATTHEWS: And you think it`s going to get -- I don`t think they will have
STEIN: I think they will have a vote.
MATTHEWS: We`re going to take the tape right now of what you guys say.
You say there will be a vote. I say there won`t.
STEIN: There will be a vote. But you will look at the bill and you will
say, is this an effectual bill? Is going to have an impact?
MATTHEWS: OK. Good. I think this thing has gone downhill the last two
CUTTER: And, remember, Chris, if we don`t have a vote, look at who is not
voting for cloture. There are dozens of members, mostly Republican
members, who aren`t willing to stand up to the NRA.
STEIN: But that`s the problem, because --
MATTHEWS: OK. Is some of this for 2014? Is there a calculation of Obama
on issues like immigration, where maybe he`s better off by losing these
votes because he thinks he builds up a head of steam to get back the House
STEIN: It`s not about Obama in 2014. It`s about the Mark Pryors of the
world in 2014.
Mark Pryor was on a radio show today talking about his opposition to the
assault weapons ban, proudly boasting that he was going to --
MATTHEWS: He told Bloomberg to bug out, too.
STEIN: Yes. And so for him he feels like he`s better protected by being
an antagonist of gun policy reform.
I think immigration, which you referenced, is a whole `nother ball game.
In that case, I think the White House is very cognizant that if they get in
and they touch this piece of legislation, it could very well blow up the
MATTHEWS: I think that is strategic.
STEIN: Yes. And they have let the Senate basically handle it. The House
has their own thing as well. But they have basically said, you do your
thing. We`re not going to bug you. We will have something there in case
everything blows up. But that is a strategic decision by the
administration to not have its fingerprints on it.
MATTHEWS: They can get 60 on immigration, can`t they?
STEIN: I don`t know.
CUTTER: I think so. I think so.
STEIN: I`m more bullish on immigration.
CUTTER: There`s a lot of momentum behind immigration for a number of
MATTHEWS: I think so too.
What about the -- what about what Sam just said, that the president may
have strategically decided that it`s better that Rubio and Lindsey Graham
and the inside guys -- Chuck Schumer is so smart -- that they figure out
how they get the coalition together?
Don`t put the Obama brand on at this point because it`s better -- remember
what Reagan said? It`s amazing how much you can get done if you don`t care
whose name on it or who gets credit for it. Maybe this one time he will
get credit historically, but not out front. What do you think is the
CUTTER: Well, I think that the administration is working with the Senate
to come up with a bill.
MATTHEWS: But not up front.
CUTTER: You know, he speaks about this publicly. He just did some
Spanish-language interviews last week.
MATTHEWS: Stephanie, Stephanie, he hasn`t introduced a bill.
CUTTER: He has a framework that`s been out there.
MATTHEWS: OK. So, is he out front or is he hoping the Senate will do it?
CUTTER: Well, look, I think that we want a bipartisan bill in the Senate
so that it gets done. However that gets done --
MATTHEWS: You`re not answering my question. Do you think the president
should lead on the issue or let the Senate lead?
CUTTER: Well, I`m not conceding that he`s not leading.
I think that the fact the president is not doing an event every day doesn`t
mean he`s not --
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to a reporter. No, she`s not right on this. It`s
always good to concede when you`re wrong.
Let me ask you. The president is smart on immigration. I totally believe
what you said.
MATTHEWS: I think we`re going to get immigration reform, not necessarily a
really good bill that`s going to work, by the way.
MATTHEWS: I went through the whole Simpson-Mazzoli thing where you make
everybody happy, the farm owners get happy, the business guys are happy,
the labor unions go along with it.
In the end,it doesn`t work.
MATTHEWS: It`s just another phony bill.
I think the broader --
MATTHEWS: We don`t need more phony bills.
And I think the broader question you`re getting at is one of the
legislative strategy and how the Obama administration is doing it in the
second term. I think in the first term there was emphasis on the inside
game, especially on health care reform.
Now they have realized what they can`t necessarily push Congress on,
especially with a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, and that the president
has to do a combination of the inside game and the outside game.
MATTHEWS: Last question. Let`s ask an antagonistic question about the
Do you think Rubio is playing this thing straight or he`s playing it at the
last minute to pull out and say I`m the enemy of this immigration bill,
therefore becoming the leader of the right and winning the nomination for
president? What`s his game?
CUTTER: I -- look, I don`t have any inside track into Marco Rubio.
But what I think he`s doing is -- forgive me for saying this, but slightly
responsible -- he can`t cut a backroom deal.
MATTHEWS: You think so?
CUTTER: If he cuts a backroom deal, he will get killed. And it will mean
a whole bunch of people --
MATTHEWS: So, cut a public deal with the Democrats?
CUTTER: No, go and get close to a deal, go out there and see if you if can
sell it to the fringes of your party. And that`s what I think he`s doing
MATTHEWS: Do you think he wants to sell out positively?
STEIN: It`s a really good question.
MATTHEWS: Can you win on the Republican side being open to legalization
for the undocumented? Can you win with that argument?
STEIN: It`s interesting because the proponents of reform were really
bullish, not when Marco Rubio got out in front, but when he convinced the
Sean Hannitys of the world to say, OK.
STEIN: Maybe we do need a pathway to citizenship.
And if those -- if the Sean Hannitys of the world continue to say it
through this process and don`t turn it, I do think Marco Rubio can make it
out of this alive.
MATTHEWS: The Sean Hannity test.
STEIN: Yes, basically.
CUTTER: If Marco Rubio cuts a deal without talking to them first, he gets
MATTHEWS: See, my brother was in the Navy. He was post orders in the
Navy. He was in the Navy.
And he would post -- he would take it to the guy who`s the least
intelligent guy on the ship and say, can you understand this order? And if
he did, he said he would post it. That`s the Sean Hannity rule.
STEIN: That`s the Navy rule?
STEIN: Anyway, thank you, Stephanie Cutter and thank you, Sam Stein.
It`s the Navy rule. Up next -- if the simplest guy can understand it.
Up next: more trouble for the Republican Party`s rebranding effort.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First up, Jon Stewart went after Egypt`s President Mohammed Morsi for his
government`s recent detention of a popular political comedian with his own
television show. For Stewart, the attack hit a little close to home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Is there anything
else Bassem may have done here, perhaps concerning the president, himself?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This show mocked him when he was rewarded an honorary
degree in Pakistan and also took aim at the president`s less-than-fluent
STEWART: That was my entire career for eight years.
STEWART: Do you have any idea?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: That`s all I did.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Love that First Amendment.
Anyway, next, more trouble for the whole Republican Party rebranding
effort. Last month, CPAC delivered a P.R. nightmare when a panel that --
asked conservatives are you sick and tired of being called a racist and you
know you`re not one was interrupted by an audience member who had a rather
sympathetic view of the whole slavery thing.
Well, there`s some more slavery defense out there, this time coming from
Georgia. April, if you didn`t know it, marks that state`s official
Confederate Heritage and History Month. Well, according to The Daily
Beast, a press release from the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate
Veterans says its goal is to clear up misconceptions about the old South --
quote -- "So much is portrayed by Hollywood today that Georgia and the
South were evil, when in reality the South was the most peaceful, rural and
Christian part of America before war and Reconstruction destroyed the
pastoral way of life here."
Well, The Beast reports that the man behind the P.R. campaign down there is
a two-time Republican candidate for governor, a guy named Ray McBerry.
McBerry told the news site that the reality of what slavery was really like
has been distorted -- quote -- Mr. McBerry: "The way that the slavery was
in the old South is not in keeping with the way it has been portrayed. All
I can say is `Gone With the Wind` was the most beloved movie ever about the
South and it was vastly pro-Southern. And until `Django` came along,
movies mostly were pretty darn nostalgic about the Antebellum South. Let`s
Next, what is really causing North Korea to be the big noise these days?
Well, one possibility offered up by a conservative Christian radio host --
Rick Wiles is his name -- last week explained: gay marriage.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICK WILES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don`t know if anybody`s -- I know
they`re not -- they`re just not putting this together.
There`s -- hey, you have got this happening over here and you have got this
happening over here. Could the two be connected? Could our slide in
immorality be what is unleashing this madman over here in Asia to punish
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Could your words be connected to a brain? Why hadn`t you
thought of that, by the way, that somehow something this crazy guy, this
right-winger, or what he is, a dictator over in North Korea has something
to do with gay marriage here? I didn`t see the connection.
By the way, if the idea of blaming gays for an international crisis sparks
deja vu with you, you might be remembering this episode just a few days
after the terror attacks of September 11. This was Jerry Falwell and Pat
Robertson. They were pointing their fingers at who they really thought
deserved blame. Let`s watch them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY FALWELL JR., FORMER PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: I really believe
that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the
lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the
ACLU, People for the American way, all of them who tried to secularize
America, I point the finger in their face and say, you helped this happen.
PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, "THE 700 CLUB": I totally concur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I totally concur.
Finally, here`s a video you have got to see. Last night, Jay Leno and
Jimmy Fallon poked fun at all those rumors in the papers about their late-
night shows. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON" (singing): Tonight,
tonight, who`s going to host tonight? Is it going to be Jimmy or Jay?
Tonight, tonight, where will they tape tonight? In New York? Will it stay
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO" (singing): Tonight,
tonight, my ratings were all right; 20 years, and I`m still in first place.
FALLON AND LENO (singing): Tonight, tonight, who cares who hosts tonight?
FALLON: I got to go, Jay.
LENO: Do a good show, Jimmy.
FALLON: I will. And Jay?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Makes me happy. Makes me happy. Two great guys, two very funny
Up next, Republicans aren`t content with strict new laws against abortion.
Now they`re after sex ed. They`re going after sex ed.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SCOTT COHN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Scott Cohn with your CNBC "Market
Big day for the Dow, up 89 points, to close at another record high. The
S&P is up eight, also a record, and the NASDAQ up 15.
Automakers reported March sales figures, Ford sales up 5.7 percent, beating
the estimates. Meanwhile, GM sales rose more than 6 percent thanks to
demand for pickup trucks. But the gain was below forecasts. And factory
orders up a stronger-than-expected 3 percent in February, boosted by the
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Some Republican-led state legislatures out there have been pretty strict on
abortion laws over the past several months. We have been covering that.
But now they`re stepping up the more. GOP lawmakers in Texas, Arkansas,
and North Dakota, think of those states, Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota, are
trying to restrict access to sex ed now, sex education programs, and
particularly those associated with Planned Parenthood.
In North Dakota, Republicans lawmakers in the state legislature there are
trying to block a $1.2 million federal grant that would provide sex ed
counseling services to at-risk teens. In Arkansas, lawmakers are
considering a bill that would defund an HIV and Standard, that`s sexually
transmitted disease, program, because Planned Parenthood administers.
And in Texas, Republicans are proposing a bill that would stop Planned
Parenthood from distributing sex ed materials to students.
Well, Elizabeth Nash from the Guttmacher Institute tells The Huffington
Post -- quote -- "For a couple years, we have been dealing with attempts to
defund Planned Parenthood, but now we`re seeing that potentially -- that
potentially expand to these sex education programs that give teens nine
information they need to prevent pregnancy."
Well, Michael Steele is of course the former RNC chair and an MSNBC
political analyst. And Lauren Ashburn is with the Daily Download.
Let me go to you, Lauren, because I do think women should get the first say
on this, to put it lightly. What do you think is going on with the old
problem when men don`t get pregnant, women do?
Women get pregnant when they want to get pregnant. They get pregnant when
they don`t want to get pregnant. Sometimes when they don`t want to get
pregnant and plan to, they can live with that and in fact they decide to.
Sometimes, they get pregnant when they really, really don`t want to,
they`re 15 years old, or whatever. They have had 16 kids already or
whatever, or whatever the situation is.
Planned Parenthood plays the role of helping them get through that. It
helps them prepare for that, help them to deal with if it does happen or it
doesn`t happen. They`re there to make sure that they make rational
Why would any state legislature want to have them bug out at this point?
LAUREN ASHBURN, DAILY-DOWNLOAD.COM: Because they don`t back abortion, and
Planned Parenthood advocates abortion. That`s why.
In this case, in particular, however --
MATTHEWS: What do you mean advocates abortion?
ASHBURN: Advocates it means saying, here`s a pamphlet. Here`s your
choice. You can -- you can have an abortion.
MATTHEWS: Is that advocating it?
ASHBURN: It is making the information available.
MATTHEWS: All right, that`s different.
ASHBURN: I don`t know about that. I mean, I think if you are saying to
someone, here is a choice and here is a choice, you`re advocating both
MATTHEWS: You think they`re handing them out like travel brochures?
ASHBURN: You don`t know what they do. Have you ever had an abortion? I
mean, they come in --
MATTHEWS: I don`t think advocating is right. I think helping a person
have the opportunity to make decisions is different than advocating.
ASHBURN: OK. If they`re helping to make --
MATTHEWS: I think they were distributing birth control device and birth
control information so a young girl who doesn`t want to get pregnant won`t.
ASHBURN: I think --
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that what they do?
ASHBURN: I think we were talking about sex education, right?
MATTHEWS: Sex education, avoiding getting pregnant.
ASHBURN: Sex education is educating teens about, especially in this case,
homeless kids, about what they can do and how they should do it.
MATTHEWS: Is it teaching them how to get pregnant or how not to get
ASHBURN: I think it`s teaching them how not to get pregnant, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Right, see, then you`re on my page. Then go ahead, if that`s
what they`re doing --
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Absolutely, I think --
MATTHEWS: That`s why they call it planned.
STEELE: Well, it`s Planned Parenthood. But there`s more to this than
meets the eye. That`s been the rub for a lot of conservatives, is what you
were just saying about the advocacy. Whether or not there is true
advocacy, however you define it. Whether or not there is, in the process
of educating you about contraception, for example, that the abortion piece
is a part of that, and that`s where all of this boils down.
Look, states can do what they want to do with respect to planned parent
funding, particularly for status is funding Planned Parenthood. Where I
have a problem in this particular case is the -- not affording a homeless
child, a child who`s in the system, the state-run juvenile system, for
example, to have access to information that could protect their lives, that
could be beneficial to them in some way. You have it in parochial schools,
sex education. You have it in public schools, sex education.
MATTHEWS: What is Planned Parenthood denying -- what knowledge are they
STEELE: Well, I`m not saying they are denying. What I`m saying, for those
who are tried to get at Planned Parenthood through cutting off funding of
sex education programs, that that opens a door I don`t think we need to
open up. I mean, there`s one thing to say we don`t like your promoting
abortion, advocating abortion. But there`s something very different to say
we don`t want to inform a child who`s on the street, living on street who
doesn`t have access to an educational facility.
ASHBURN: Or to parents.
STEELE: Or to parents. Or to some structure.
MATTHEWS: I want to get back to you, because you`re a woman. A girl is 15
or 16 years old, she may not have good parents. Parents --
ASHBURN: Or they`re gone. Right.
MATTHEWS: She may think you only get pregnant one out of 100 times. She
may have all kinds of ideas about how safe (INAUDIBLE) the unprotected sex.
Is it better to have someone come in she can talk with, say -- you know,
the odds are pretty good at your age, you know, of having a baby if you
have sex a lot. You`re going to get a baby and that`s going to happen.
ASHBURN: I`m all about it.
MATTHEWS: So, if you don`t want a baby -- if you don`t want a baby, don`t
act like you`re the not going to get one because you`re going to get one.
Isn`t that useful?
ASHBURN: I think Republicans -- I think Republicans what they need to do
is choose. They need to choose, is abortion more important or is
contraception more important to them as an issue, right?
ASHBURN: Because right now, you can`t have it both ways in this society.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you.
ASHBURN: They`re trying to have it both ways in this society. Now, I`m
not saying that -- I`m not stating a position either way, but I think that
you have to understand from a political point of view --
MATTHEWS: And common sense, too.
ASHBURN: -- that you can.
STEELE: Well, as a political party, I think that`s a very good division
there. As a political party, you have to be able to advocate, you know --
you can be still pro-life, but advocate for responsible behavior, advocate
MATTHEWS: If you`re pro-life, you would technically be for contraception.
STEELE: Right. Well, that`s what I`m saying.
MATTHEWS: I`m just wondering whether the Republican Party is even -- let`s
go back to the reboot. You`re the pol here, total pol.
MATTHEWS: Is Republican Party smart to have this once again heavily
program on this front -- not only going after abortion, period, where you
can`t have an abortion after 12 weeks or something like that, or six weeks
in one state, but actually being known as the party that doesn`t like sex
ed? You think that`s a healthy position to be in?
STEELE: I think all of this coming on the heels of the reboot, again,
further exacerbates the problem that we`re having.
MATTHEWS: They didn`t get the message.
STEELE: They did not get the message. Right.
ASHBURN: It kind of makes people look mean-spirited. Republicans look
mean-spirited. You`re taking something away from kids who are homeless.
MATTHEWS: It just seems like the scarlet letter to me. Just seems like
they`re looking for somebody, whoa, look at her, she did it.
STEELE: If your problem is with Planned Parenthood, then make that the
central argument, and why you have this issue of Planned Parenthood. Don`t
nickel and dime, don`t cut and slice two programs that have nothing to do
MATTHEWS: In other words, they`re really against Planned Parenthood
because it`s involved with abortion, not because it`s involved with sex ed?
ASHBURN: That`s what I`m saying. But you really talked about the culture
issue, they`re losing, you`re losing on gay marriage, right? There is no
MATTHEWS: No, he`s free at last here, by the way.
ASHBURN: Free. That`s right. You`re out.
STEELE: So, it`s all good.
ASHBURN: There is no --
MATTHEWS: So, you`re on the same page. The Republican Party has to choose
about aborting unwanted pregnancies, which is birth control in many cases,
or it`s got to be just ignoring that and just be antiabortion or something.
ASHBURN: And Bill Clinton said it, right -- safe, legal, rare.
MATTHEWS: I`m with him. I`m with Hillary Clinton. She said it, too --
safe, legal, rare.
Thank you, Lauren Ashburn, a good moderate I think conservative, but
somewhere near the middle.
Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele.
Up next --
ASHBURN: We`ll never know.
MATTHEWS: -- why Washington could be driving us into a bigger economic
crisis than the one we just endured. And as former Reagan budget director
David Stockman is coming here, I think he`s coming to talk about lots here.
This guy`s got some radical ideas.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, back and forth they go in Virginia, what promises to be
the hottest race of 2013.
Let`s go to the HARDBALL scoreboard. According to a new Mary Washington
poll, it`s Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a one-point lead over Attorney
General Ken Cuccinelli, 38-37.
Lot of undecideds in that race. Look at that. That could go easily either
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
David Stockman, the great David Stockman, once served as Ronald Reagan`s
budget director. But, today, he has some harsh lessons to deliver to both
Democrats and Republicans. In his big new book, "The Great Deformation:
The Corruption of Capitalism in America", everyone from President Franklin
Roosevelt to modern era leaders like Reagan, Bush and Obama are criticized
heavily for helping to wreck the country`s economy.
Looking at Washington today, Stockman sees a rogue central bank, too much
Wall Street influence and two political parties at a standstill. All this,
he argues, is leading to an even bigger fiscal crisis.
David Stockman is joining me.
We`re going to forget about the Armageddon. This show is about the next
couple weeks and months. I`m not thinking a million years from now.
But I got to ask you about this. First of all, I think this whole fiscal
cliff, this whole thing between the two parties is hopeless.
Why would a Republican member of Congress, and I don`t always think like
those guys, why would they want to raise taxes so they get the joy of
screwing people on Medicare? That`s the -- and why should a Democrat screw
the people who depend on him who are living on Medicare and Social Security
so they get the rich to pay more taxes?
Neither one of these things seem to work for me politically. So, why is
the president pushing it?
DAVID STOCKMAN, FORMER REAGAN OMB DIRECTOR: Well, I don`t know. It`s not
going to happen. It`s a problem of our divided government and --
MATTHEWS: But would you vote for either one of these -- if you were a
Republican, would you vote to raise taxes on your voters so that you could
screw the people who voted for the other side and make sure they never
voted for you? Would you ever do that?
STOCKMAN: Yes, I would, because I think it`s necessary in the public
interest. But it`s not going to happen now. The problem is, our
government doesn`t work. It`s Madisonian, branches, vetoes, divided. You
can`t make giant mistakes because they`re almost impossible to correct.
That was the lesson in 1981 with that over the top tax bill. We spent a
decade trying to --
MATTHEWS: So Reagan was wrong?
STOCKMAN: He was wrong when we said we --
MATTHEWS: Why you didn`t tell him that?
STOCKMAN: I told him that.
MATTHEWS: But then you had to go to the woodshed and pretend he was right
and you were wrong.
STOCKMAN: No, no, no, but --
MATTHEWS: But you were right in other words, and he was wrong.
STOCKMAN: Well, look, we tried to do things that seemed reasonable but
they didn`t add up. When it was clear they weren`t adding up by the summer
of `81, he had to make a mid course correction. Defense got totally out of
control. The tax cut was a bidding war.
You remember, you were there.
MATTHEWS: I was there on the other side. But I was right and you were
wrong, at least publicly.
Let me ask you this -- was Reagan there the whole time?
MATTHEWS: Was he there the whole time?
STOCKMAN: In the early `80s, he obviously was. He had deep convictions.
But the tactics and the details he left with anyone else?
MATTHEWS: He didn`t suffer from Alzheimer`s before he left office?
STOCKMAN: No, I do not think so at all. No.
STOCKMAN: But the lesson was, don`t make a giant mistake. Here we are
today with this huge deficit. We had an easy chance to do something on New
Year`s Day. I call it the New Year`s folly.
MATTHEWS: When was this?
STOCKMAN: This year.
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t we let --
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t W. come in, a man of limited ability and mentality,
show up in 2000 -- he gets in there by the Supreme Court. Close election.
Fair enough, 50/50 vote. He got it.
MATTHEWS: A coin toss would have been a better idea. He gets in there.
We have a surplus thanks to Bill Clinton, right? He throws it away.
STOCKMAN: Well, because --
MATTHEWS: Why did he do that?
STOCKMAN: Because he got very bad advice, by then the Republican Party was
on this, you know, idea that deficits don`t matter.
MATTHEWS: I think George W. went in there because his old man tried to
raise taxes. He was going to lower them, show he was better than his old
STOCKMAN: Well, you know, you could get into all the psychology you want.
But he had enormous number of Republican advisers who said the tax cuts
will stimulate the economy. Frankly, Greenspan was stimulating the economy
with way too much money printing.
STOCKMAN: And we ended up where we were in 2007 and 2008. It is a huge
disaster. Now, we`re trying to solve the problem by doing more of the
MATTHEWS: I think you`re a free marketer. You`re kind of an Ayn Rand kind
STOCKMAN: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re close.
MATTHEWS: Here`s my question. All movies we`ve seen, "Margin Call," all
the movies that have come out since the big crash said we had to do
something. Hank Paulson was a hero. He was a god, because they bailed out
the big rich banks, the Goldman Sachs, and all those big banks, they`re
called big financial institutions.
You say we didn`t have to do that.
MATTHEWS: We should have left them sink or swim.
Explain, because everybody who watches this show wants to know why we spent
all that federal money to bail out the rich guys.
STOCKMAN: Well, because I think it`s a great urban legend. This meltdown
was entirely in the vertical canyons of Wall Street. Several of the
investment banks which were not investment banks but glorified hedge funds
had gone down. Lehman had. Bear had.
And there were two more; Goldman and Morgan Stanley. They should have let
them go down. It wouldn`t have caused a contagion. AIG was a holding
company problem. Insurance companies were money --
MATTHEWS: Why did they do it? Why did the government get involved?
STOCKMAN: Because it was what I call in my book the BlackBerry panic. All
the people under Paulson running around looking in their BlackBerries what
the stock prices were by the second. Goldman was going down. Morgan was
They grew up in the Wall Street bubble and couldn`t imagine a world without
MATTHEWS: Is the Republican Party -- is your party run by the rich on Wall
STOCKMAN: Look it, both parties --
MATTHEWS: I asked you a simple question. Is your party run by the rich on
STOCKMAN: The Republican Party is run by special interest groups and so is
the Democratic Party. That`s why the system is failing.
MATTHEWS: OK. But they`re different interest groups. Anyway, thank you.
The name of your book is -- it`s a serious book -- "The Great Deformation."
David Stockman, I`m going to get more out of this guy off the show.
When we return, let me finish with how the country needs a leader on gun
safety and a lot of other issues.
We`ll be right back. This is the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
I believe this is a presidentially-led country. We elect the president to
lead. When he does lead, things can happen. When he doesn`t, things calm
down and stay the way they are.
If you think our gun laws are good right now, that they`re giving us
reasonable gun safety -- don`t worry, be happy, be glad things are calm.
Things are staying the way they are.
Because they are. Do you hear me? Nothing is going to change.
The ways things are headed right now, the United States Congress -- which
represents the whole American people -- is not going to even vote on
stronger background checks, something nine out of 10 of us agree on.
Got it? Nothing. Nothing is going to get done. Nothing is going to get
And this is a sad response, don`t you think, to the horror of Newtown
because nothing is worse than to be ignored -- when you live, especially
when you die.
When Lyndon Johnson left Washington in 1969, he said, "I want to live my
last days where folks know when you`re sick and care when you die."
Washington, can you hear me? Do you care that all those kids died? Do you
really? Or do you only care about Wayne LaPierre?
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. It really is
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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