May 2, 2013
Guests: Steve McMahon, Jess McIntosh, Joel Berg, Josh Green, John Feehery
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Strategy of doom.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Imagine being a member of a political
party whose only initiative, whose only recent mission, whose only active
purpose these days is to find ways to keep members of the other party --
blacks, young people, the elderly -- from voting, and oh, yes, keeping the
president of the United States from getting anything done.
Meet the Republican Party of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and yes, Reince
Priebus. And look at its agenda on gun safety. Well, do nothing, or
should I say "nuttin`," nuttin` at all? On immigration -- nuttin`. Keep
it out of the way (INAUDIBLE) leave it the way it is, getting people hired
illegally, getting bargain basement wages for people so businesses can make
a lot of money. Keep it up.
On government deficits, again no deal. Cut Meals on Wheels, cut the soup
kitchens, while, as Jon Stewart puts it, keeping the food cart moving on
So welcome to the plan. Stop people from voting on the Democratic side,
stop a democratically elected president from doing his elected job. Is
this why people go into politics? Is it about doing nothing? Is nothing
Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican Party back when it made
MATTHEWS: Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The
Isn`t it great to have a guy named Reince Priebus (INAUDIBLE)
Anyway, Senator Pat Toomey co-authored, of course, the compromise on
background checks -- we like him for that -- on guns. Well, this week, he
said the reason it failed had to do with Republican opposition to the
president. Let`s listen to the senator from Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I thought that we had settled on a
really common sense approach that ought to be able to achieve a consensus.
I think, in the end, we didn`t because our politics have become so
polarized and there are people on my side who didn`t want to be perceived
to be helping something that the president wants to accomplish, simply
because it`s the president who wants to accomplish it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, according to "The Norristown (ph) Times Herald," Toomey
later tried to clarify his statement in that same meeting. He said he was
referring to Republicans across the nation, not just across the aisle in
But "The New York Times`s" reporter -- actually, columnist David Fierstone
(ph), writes that what Toomey was referring to there goes much deeper and
wider than just gun safety.
Quote, "Republicans are clearly looking to do more than just deprive Mr.
Obama of victories, however. The ultimate goal is to make him appear
powerless and weak, a flailing figure who is unable to affect the mid-term
elections or give the next Democratic nominee a boost. Taking heat on a
gun vote is worth it if it leads to a reporter asking the president whether
he still has any juice left with Congress, as one did yesterday. And it
leads to an even bigger payoff if the president stumbles in his response,
forced to assert that rumors of his demise are premature."
Michael Steele, my question is, has the Republican Party adapted,
basically, a scorched earth policy -- we don`t want nothin` done, we don`t
want this guy to get anything done. That`s our primary purpose?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think -- I
think the latter of that is certainly true. It goes back to Mitch
McConnell`s opening salvo on the night of the inauguration, where they got
together and said, you know -- you know, one-term president.
STEELE: So yes, I think that that`s the political operative or operation
of this whole thing.
MATTHEWS: Is that a party-building move for your side?
STEELE: No, I don`t think it`s a party-building move because as chairman,
the one thing I always wanted to do was contrast what we philosophically
believed, what our principles were against the policies and the direction
that the president wanted to take the country. That, I think, is a fair
debate to have, and people of, you know, all stripes can agree or disagree.
But when you just do just the political, without some level of working -- I
mean, Gingrich and Clinton worked it out.
STEELE: They got some good things done. Reagan and Tip O`Neill fought
like cats and dogs on policy, but they found a way to work it out.
This kind of stalemate is not good. The people in the country don`t want
it. And I think the party long-term could hurt itself with a lot of
MATTHEWS: I want to get back to that because I think the Republican
Party`s got a two-strike -- two-goal -- two-front -- one is to try to
reduce the electorate, that all their voter suppression efforts are clearly
that, tactical, maybe strategic. And then other part of it is, don`t let
this president be a hero to anybody.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well,
it`s not working, though. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it? I`m wondering.
ROBINSON: But the voter suppression didn`t work. They tried to limit the
vote of the Obama voters...
MATTHEWS: And the courts -- the courts came in. Yes.
ROBINSON: Well, but they voted in larger numbers.
ROBINSON: The black turnout was higher than white turnout in this last
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
STEELE: And some of those courts were Republican courts, too.
ROBINSON: Well, absolutely because, gee, the law is the law, you know?
And the Constitution is the Constitution. So that didn`t work. And the
idea of making him not a hero to anybody -- I don`t think that works,
either. Now, it kind of depends on how President Obama reacts, but when
you`re president of the United States, you do have juice. There is stuff
you can do.
MATTHEWS: Wasn`t it an odd question?
ROBINSON: It was an odd question.
MATTHEWS: Juice -- it seemed like a jock question to me.
ROBINSON: ... juice, you can...
MATTHEWS: It reminded me of O.J. or something...
MATTHEWS: Or electricity juice. What kind of juice are we talking about?
We`re talking political juice, clout, muscle...
STEELE: But it was also, I thought, an appropriate question because -- I
mean, look, the bottom line is the president has ceded a lot of ground.
MATTHEWS: Let`s start on that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take the three big issue. Did the president blow it on
gun, or did the other side just basically put up a big wall and say, We`re
not giving you nothing?
STEELE: I think he blew it on guns. I think -- I think the speech he gave
after they -- he was defeated in the Senate vote was a speech he should
have given the very next day after Sandy Hook, to make sure the line was
As you talked about on this show many times, Johnson made it very clear,
We`re going to get something done, we got to get it done on guns or, you
MATTHEWS: Civil Rights back in `64.
STEELE: Civil Rights. You got to get it done...
MATTHEWS: I mean, there is a timing -- I think that`s a fair shot,
although it`s looking backwards.
ROBINSON: Yes, it`s looking back.
MATTHEWS: But let`s talk about this issue of immigration, which is, to me,
the big gold star for this guy. If he doesn`t get immigration in the next
three years, he has not had a successful legislative turn here. And my
question is, are the people like Ted Cruz out to basically stifle any bill?
ROBINSON: Oh, I think so. I think -- I mean, they`re going to try to
MATTHEWS: Any bill.
ROBINSON: And I think -- you know, immigration is difficult because it`s
so clearly in the interests of the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: To get the...
ROBINSON: To get...
MATTHEWS: ... it off their back.
ROBINSON: ... and get it off their back.
ROBINSON: And so there`s going to be a lot of pushback from the Republican
establishment that says, Wait a minute, we need to do this. However, that
doesn`t necessarily mean it`s going to get through. But that dynamic
inside the Republican Party...
MATTHEWS: They still have -- you know, I think I like your parallel to Tip
and Reagan because there`s one parallel clear there. The reason
Republicans agreed to Social Security reform in `83 -- they kept getting
beat on it!
ROBINSON: Right. Exactly.
ROBINSON: But I`m not sure how much President Obama can intervene in the
internecine battles inside the Republican Party. What he can do is use his
executive powers, he can use his bully pulpit, and he can use his veto pen,
too, which he could have done with the FAA...
MATTHEWS: I just -- let me just talk about the Constitution, which we all
grew up with. We`re about the same age. The Constitution -- I was telling
this to our producers today, who are younger than me, a lot of them. I
said, Look, the Constitution doesn`t guarantee that the United States
Senate represents the American people. It represents the states.
ROBINSON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And if you look at a map of the United States, most of the map
physically is Republican and conservative. It`s rural. It`s vast spaces
in the South, and especially in the Rocky Mountain West.
MATTHEWS: All that space is represented in many cases by Republican
MATTHEWS: ... who are pro-gun.
MATTHEWS: And when you go to have a vote -- we say 90 percent of the
country wants background checks expanded -- and the Senate goes the other
direction, you go, Whoa, it could be because the Senate`s representing
MATTHEWS: You`re laughing! The people out there in the big cities go...
STEELE: But you`re absolutely right!
MATTHEWS: ... What happened to my vote? My vote doesn`t count as much as
the guy living in Utah.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the senators of New York and California represent about 20
percent of the country, I think, and they got four senators out of 100.
STEELE: That`s right.
ROBINSON: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: ... a guy from Utah, you may not even know the guy from Utah,
the second one, or you probably do, Mike Lee.
MATTHEWS: He`s got as much clout as Gillibrand in New York.
STEELE: Right. And that`s -- that`s one of the dynamics here that I think
a lot of people underestimated doing into this fight, which is why from the
very beginning on this show I took note of what Harry Reid said on this
whole start of this gun debate. He pretty much said, Oh, well, we`ll take
a look and we`ll -- basically, we`re going to slow this down because he
understood the very principle you just identified, that the vote doesn`t
line up with necessarily the sentiment.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at this. Republican National Committee
has a new ad out there. It`s a Web ad. These are the cheap ones they
don`t spend much money on. But we, of course, cover them. And they`re
practically gloating here in this ad. This has got Priebus`s name all over
it, or his nature.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only 100 days into his second term, already faced a
string of defeats in Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still have the juice to get the rest of your
agenda through this Congress?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Put it that way, Jonathan,
maybe I should just pack up and go home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gun bill failed. The sequester appears here to
stay. And immigration reform is still a glimmer of hope largely because
the president has stayed out of it.
OBAMA: Maybe I should just pack up and go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know who was the first guy or woman to make
that kind of ad. First of all, you distort it to get the guy out of -- you
know, the guy`s not really standing up straight. He`s on a diagonal. The
music -- black and white. The music is sort of strange.
ROBINSON: Right, the (INAUDIBLE) music and...
MATTHEWS: ... and then the voice and the sarcastic...
ROBINSON: Come on. I mean...
STEELE: That`s politics.
ROBINSON: ... so -- so...
MATTHEWS: That`s an ad.
ROBINSON: It`s politics...
STEELE: It`s an ad, a political ad.
ROBINSON: ... but where does it take you in the end? Barack Obama`s not
running for anything. He`s not going to run for anything.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but...
ROBINSON: There are things he wants to do for his legacy...
MATTHEWS: Gene, you and I agree on a lot of things, but let`s talk...
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the problem that the president faces. He wants
it in the history books.
ROBINSON: Well, of course he does.
MATTHEWS: He wants the unemployment rate to go down. He wants (INAUDIBLE)
to explode (ph).
ROBINSON: Of course he does.
MATTHEWS: How does he get in the history books if the Republicans stymie
him? Now, maybe he can get past the gun thing, if we don`t have another
horrendous situation like Newtown. But immigration is his baby. And if
they say no, if people like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee of Utah, the junior
senator out there, and people like Rand Paul blow it, they say 60 votes or
nothing, they keep from getting the 60, it`ll never get in the House, and
nothing`s going to happen.
STEELE: I -- I...
MATTHEWS: Gene, who wins then?
ROBINSON: Well, then he doesn`t get the bill. He doesn`t get the bill, he
MATTHEWS: So the scorched earth policy works.
ROBINSON: ... the bill.
MATTHEWS: So the negativity of the Republican Party gets what it wants, a
ROBINSON: Does -- does the president get to determine what the House and
what the Senate do? No. He doesn`t get to -- get to...
MATTHEWS: The public expects it.
ROBINSON: Well, the public holds the president responsible. So you know,
I think he should throw some elbows. I think he should...
MATTHEWS: Didn`t he says, in a pretty tough elbow there, I mean, in
ROBINSON: And I think that -- that members of the Senate and the House
should feel they have to pay for these things...
ROBINSON: ... if they`re going to vote against it. I don`t think taking
them all to dinner and to lunch is going to -- is going to...
MATTHEWS: No, I think...
ROBINSON: ... solve it.
MATTHEWS: ... the only person who`s getting hurt now is the people there
like Kelly Ayotte this week. Now, maybe they`ll forgive her. They don`t
like Rob Portman this week. Maybe they`ll forgive him.
MATTHEWS: People like Heidi Heitkamp out in North Dakota, they`re doing
swimmingly right now...
STEELE: Well, they`re doing well. But you know, Chris...
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m just wondering where this -- I want this president to
make it. I`ve said it a thousand times. And I think...
STEELE: He`s got the tool.
MATTHEWS: ... most Americans should want a president to succeed.
STEELE: But he`s got the ultimate tool, Chris. It`s called that bully
pulpit. And he has used it ineffectively, I think.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this latest poll here, "New York Times"/CBS
poll, has a new poll out today with some interesting findings. Voters in
general and Republicans specifically still overwhelmingly back the
president`s position on background checks for gun purchases and on his role
(ph) -- his position on path to citizenship under immigration reform.
But take a look at this. 86 percent of Republicans say there should be
stronger background checks. This is Republicans -- in place for gun
purchases. 84 percent say there should be a path to citizenship offered
for illegal immigrants. But despite that overwhelming support for these
issues that Obama agrees with, the country`s still deeply divided over who
they trust on the issues of gun and immigration.
Catch this. You`ll like this, Michael. Republicans in Congress, I have to
say, have a slight edge when it comes to guns, despite disagreement on the
gun check thing, while the President has a slight edge on immigration.
On the topics of guns and immigration, look at what Congressman Jack
Kingston, who is a smart guy from Georgia, told "The New York Times" about
what backing he gets back home. Quote, "There was a lot of Washington talk
about the gun bill`s possibilities, but I never saw that reflected in the
people at home. Now there`s all this buzz about the immigration reform,
and that is not reflected, either."
MATTHEWS: ... all this -- these big polls reflect popular opinion,
including a lot of votes in the big cities and the suburbs. You get out
into the rural areas of this country, which is a lot of this country...
ROBINSON: That`s true.
MATTHEWS: ... you get conservative views on guns and immigration.
ROBINSON: That`s true. But those numbers are not insignificant. If
you`ve got 86 percent who say they favor something...
ROBINSON: ... then...
MATTHEWS: Should include the rural areas.
ROBINSON: By nature, you`re using...
ROBINSON: But you`re using the bully pulpit pretty well, right...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Right.
ROBINSON: ... because -- because he`s got public opinion on...
MATTHEWS: I agree.
ROBINSON: ... his side on these issues. Now, maybe there`s some level of
trust, of confidence which is reflected in that second group of figures,
where it`s much closer. Maybe there`s something else he needs to do. I`m
not quite sure what that is. You get 86 percent, you figure you won the
MATTHEWS: I have to go something so primitive, people wonder if I`m even
serious. But I`ve always wondered whether people tell the pollsters what
they want to hear.
STEELE: Yes, they do.
MATTHEWS: And somebody with a perfect standard English calls them and
says, How do you stand...
STEELE: We call it lying.
MATTHEWS: Do you give people what they think they want to hear -- what
they think they want to hear? Well, of course I`m for gun safety. Are you
for background checks for people who are criminally insane? Oh, yes. Of
STEELE: Because people don`t know who those pollsters are, Chris, so they
don`t know how...
MATTHEWS: So does a conservative from your party be more likely to cover
up their real conservative views on immigration, on pathways to citizenship
and on gun owner -- checks?
ROBINSON: Not just that on the conservative side, but I think even on --
on the liberal side on issues like gay marriage and abortion. I think that
-- I think that you find...
MATTHEWS: Are you sure?
ROBINSON: So -- so...
MATTHEWS: I think liberals are more...
ROBINSON: My e-mail doesn`t count because...
STEELE: No, your e-mail will count. I`m just saying looking at -- I don`t
take a one-for-one correlation between what I see in a popular poll...
STEELE: ... and then how that`s going to translate into votes.
MATTHEWS: I`m trying to figure this out, why this country isn`t getting
reflected on Congress -- in the Congress. It`s a bother (ph). In a
democracy, you`d like to think that what you really deep down feel -- now,
the only way to explain it is problems with the polling, which you can
always talk about. And it`s this visceral thing.
It`s the guy -- mostly the guy, the white guy, mostly, who`s gun-absorbed.
Let`s be honest about it -- absorbed, without putting a negative on it,
just really believes in the 2nd Amendment, cares deeply about it and is
going to remember. Every one of these voting opportunities, he`s going to
take that position.
On immigration, are the people just ethnically conservative? They want
things the way they were. They don`t want any big immigration in their
neighborhoods. It`s not that they`re racist or anything. They just want
things the way they were and they want things that way. Are those people
less likely to give up a fight? Are they just more emotionally involved?
Anyway, got to go. This fight`s going to go on. Thank you, gentlemen,
Michael Steele, as always, thank you, Gene Robinson.
Coming up: The group Emily`s List says Americans are ready for a woman --
really ready for a women president and have begun their campaign to put a
woman in the White House. Wonder who they`re thinking of.
Anyway, also, our new HARDBALL feature comes on tonight, the "Unkindest
Cut." Remember Shakespeare, Mark Anthony`s speech? Well, Republicans like
to say President Obama is exaggerating the pain from the sequester cuts,
but let`s see about that. Let`s ask the people who run soup kitchens, for
example, and food pantries in this country, see how they`re doing on these
cuts. We will tonight.
And remember how Republicans said they had to change after the 2012
elections? Then explain why the rising star of the GOP right now is
someone who wants things even further to the right. Republicans -- the
Republican in this case is Ted Cruz. He could be the next Barry Goldwater,
he says. Actually, I sort of like Goldwater. This guy doesn`t seem quite
Finally, leave it to the "global warming is a hoax" senator -- that`s James
Inhofe of Oklahoma -- to say that the federal government is secretly out
there buying all the bullets in the country so the rest of us are being
denied our gun rights. Paranoia? Do you think?
This is HARDBALL. the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve seen a lot of polling that suggests senators who
voted against background checks are suffering in public opinion polls. And
today, evidence that two red state Democrats up for reelection next year
actually helped themselves by voting yes on expanded background checks.
Look at this. According to a new PPP poll, 45 percent of Louisiana voters
say they`re more likely to vote for Senator Mary Landrieu because she voted
for background checks, versus just a quarter of the voters who say they`re
less likely to vote for her. That`s pretty good for her.
And in North Carolina, another woman Democrat, 52 percent say they`re more
likely to vote for Senator Kay Hagan because of her vote. Again, only a
quarter said they`re less likely to support her because of it. They look
in good shape.
Anyway, the poll found nearly three quarters of voters in both states say
they favor background checks.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. With every public appearance, it seems, the
buzz about Hillary Clinton in 2016 grows louder. Last night, I was there
when Secretary Clinton received an award from the Atlantic Council right
here in Washington. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger was there to
introduce her and did a good job. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: At least four secretaries of
state became presidents. And that sort of started focusing my mind.
KISSINGER: I want to tell Hillary when she misses the office, she looks at
the history of secretaries of state, there might be hope for a fulfilling
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here was Secretary Clinton responding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: When I became secretary of
state, I spent a lot of time thinking about my illustrious predecessors,
and not primarily the ones who went on to become president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, they may be kidding about the obvious last night.
Everybody knows what was that was in the room, which is the polling out
there about how serious Hillary talk is.
Take a look at these polls. I have never -- I guess maybe Franklin
Roosevelt in `32 had these kind of numbers or Ike in `52. But here`s the
Quinnipiac poll. Hillary Clinton dominates among the potential Democratic
contenders. Look at these numbers. Write them down -- 65 percent support
her for president. That number goes with both women.
Actually, men are one point more for her than women, actually. Joe Biden
is the only candidate in the world with even double digits. And he`s way
behind her. Other contenders like Andrew Cuomo, Deval Patrick -- he`s the
governor of Massachusetts a -- Mark Warner, the senator from Virginia, and
Martin O`Malley, the governor of Maryland, barely even get into the money
Speaking of 2016, how is this for an interesting piece of news? It was
just announced this afternoon that Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie will be featured attractions at an event for the Global
Clinton Initiative in Chicago in June. That`s next month. The stated
focus will be -- quote -- "speeding up the United States` economic recovery
and the nation`s long-term outlook."
The subtext, of course, 2016.
Steve McMahon is the Democratic strategist, of course, we all love. And
Jess McIntosh is spokesperson for EMILY`s List, a progressive group working
to get women elected. They launched a new initiative today to help get a
woman elected president of the United States.
Jess, thank you for coming here to HARDBALL. Lay it out. EMILY`s List,
wonder what you`re thinking about.
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Thanks for having me.
So, we launched the Madam President campaign today. EMILY`S List supports
And 2012 was a mandate for women`s leadership. So, with our mission, we
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. What did you mean by that?
MCINTOSH: We elect pro-choice Democratic women. We work to get...
MATTHEWS: Well, what happened in 2012? What was the mandate?
MCINTOSH: We elected a historic number of Democratic women to Congress and
EMILY`s List quintupled its membership. There`s so much enthusiasm around
putting women in leadership positions. So, we want to make sure that...
MATTHEWS: How many members do you have?
MCINTOSH: We have over two million now.
MCINTOSH: Yes. We ended the 2010 cycle...
MCINTOSH: ... a little under 400,000 taking action with us. They`re
sharing. They`re signing petitions.
MATTHEWS: Has there ever in the history of this country been a group like
MCINTOSH: No. As far as...
MATTHEWS: A women`s group as active as this.
MCINTOSH: As far as we know, we`re the ones committed -- we`re the only
ones committed to putting women in office. And we think that`s how we`re
going to build a more progressive America.
MATTHEWS: Is there a group for men like that?
MATTHEWS: I guess it`s called American history.
MCINTOSH: Men have had like 250 years to build that network. We`re
MATTHEWS: I gave you the setup there.
MATTHEWS: Steve, this is fascinating, because you`re a political expert
I`m looking at these numbers here. These numbers -- actually I did point
out the oddity of the fact that more men, one more percent of men are for
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: At least men have one other candidate in mind besides Biden.
They have got Cuomo in mind. Women only have in mind either the vice
president or Hillary Clinton, overwhelmingly, the vice -- the former
secretary of state.
MCMAHON: Yes, and if you look at this as a phenomena, it`s the first time
really it`s happened, that you have had women candidates who have gotten a
disproportionate share of women voters and then men lag behind.
MATTHEWS: In California, isn`t it like 60 percent of the Democratic voters
MCMAHON: It`s about 58, I think, yes.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s really -- you know these numbers.
MCINTOSH: Yes. Women have been deciding our elections for cycles, for
So it`s about time that we gave them strong women to vote for. They came
out. We had a historic gender gap last cycle in 2012.
MCINTOSH: I think we have seen Republicans move farther and farther to the
right. They`re alienating the women voters that they need to win. They
show no signs of having learned from those mistakes. And so we`re
expecting 2014 is going to be a good cycle.
MCMAHON: In just a normal general election, 53 percent of the electorate
MCMAHON: And so women decide elections every single day. And this group,
EMILY`s List, has been doing a great job for women candidates for a long,
This project that they`re doing is going to send shivers up the spine of
any man thinking of running for president, because if you put EMILY`s List
behind a single woman...
MATTHEWS: I know those lines.
MCMAHON: ... whether it`s Hillary Clinton or Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten
Gillibrand or any of the women that are thinking about running for
president, if you can unite women behind that candidacy, it`s almost
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s look at it. Let`s look. I like to visualize these
things. We`re on television. I love it.
MCINTOSH: All right.
MATTHEWS: We`re in Iowa.
MATTHEWS: And probably this network, MSNBC, or one of the others, will
hold a -- because it`s the Democratic Party in this case, they will
probably hold a big debate, say, in 2013 -- I`m sorry, 2015.
MCINTOSH: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: And it may be early in 2015. And you will have a row of people
there. And I don`t know whether -- I don`t think Al Sharpton is running
again. But I don`t know of anybody else running again. But it will be the
usual -- it will probably be Martin O`Malley, the governor of Maryland.
It may be the vice -- do you think the vice president -- this is where it
gets interesting. If Secretary Clinton runs, do you think the vice
president will take her on, or step aside and say, no, her time has come?
MCINTOSH: I think we can`t visualize that stage until we know what she`s
I think just about everybody, male and female, in the Democratic Party is
waiting to see what happens.
MATTHEWS: Are you pushing her to run?
MCINTOSH: But we would certainly love her to run. We would absolutely
love her to run.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you don`t get her to run, who`s your candidate for
MCINTOSH: Well, I think we have a strong bench that is just as good and
viable as Martin O`Malleys and your Andrew Cuomos. It includes Senator
MATTHEWS: Who`s your best? Come on. Stick your neck out.
MCINTOSH: Klobuchar, Gillibrand.
MATTHEWS: OK. So you have got the senator from Minnesota, who is very
popular in this city.
MATTHEWS: And certainly Gillibrand is really good. She`s very impressive.
MCINTOSH: Absolutely. Yes.
MATTHEWS: I`m not sure they have the name I.D. yet. But...
MCINTOSH: Oh, they don`t.
MATTHEWS: But they will get there.
MCMAHON: Jess is right, though. Hillary Clinton is like the great big
eclipse that is blocking the sun and keeping everything from growing.
MCMAHON: The ironic thing is if she...
MCINTOSH: But in a positive way.
MCMAHON: In a positive way.
She will sit out there for a while because it suits her political interests
or financial interests. She makes a lot of money giving these speeches.
MATTHEWS: Tell the public that doesn`t follow politics every three seconds
like you do why she should stay out of the game for at least a year.
MCMAHON: Well, first of all, she gets about $200,000 a speech, if the
public reports are correct. And I`m sure she does a lot of them for free,
but she gets paid for a lot.
And, secondly, it keeps her name out there, and it keeps her at 65 percent
in the polls. It freezes the field and it gives her time to make a
MATTHEWS: And if she -- the minute she announces, all the Republicans out
there who don`t like her will say so.
MCMAHON: The campaign starts.
MATTHEWS: They will start.
MCMAHON: And, by the way, the longer she stays in, if she doesn`t run, the
better it is for Joe Biden, because she keeps Andrew Cuomo and all these
others from getting out of the starting gate. And Joe Biden will be
standing there ready to go with an apparatus in place.
MATTHEWS: Last one for me. I`m not relevant to your cause, but I welcome
-- I think EMILY`s List is great.
MCINTOSH: We need all...
MATTHEWS: And let me tell you something. What I think -- I think it`s
going be a great campaign in 2016. I will be covering it. I just found
out I will be here doing it.
Let me tell you what else I think. I think it could be a really positive
thing for the Democrats, because Hillary Clinton will be I think a notch or
two to the right of this president. I think she will find a very good
sweet spot there, somewhere to the right on foreign policy, little notch,
just a little notch.
On domestic policy, I`m not sure where she`s going to be. It`s going to be
interesting to figure out how she`s going to position herself as she runs.
But there`s going to be plenty of space on that spectrum for other people
to run against her, further over perhaps to the left, Martin O`Malley
maybe. I think Deval Patrick would be a good candidate. I think a lot of
candidates, a lot of women, perhaps another woman candidate.
I think it is going to be fabulous.
MCMAHON: There`s space, but there may not be courage. It takes courage.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re crazy not to run, because if you run with Hillary,
you will be on the same stage with a great person, and you`re going to look
Anyway, Steve McMahon, politics is full of ironies.
Jess McIntosh, please come back.
Up next, you say you want a revolution. How about half the Republicans
think it may be coming? This is a scary number. I`m in a happy mood, and
now I`m not. A lot of people in this country, especially Republicans,
think we`re headed towards an actual revolution to protect our civil
liberties, like in 1776. What`s in their food?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now to the "Sideshow," conspiracy
How do we know that conspiracy theories are growing out there about the
government? Well, a survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University asked people
if they thought armed revolt might be necessary in order to protect civil
liberties in this country. Well, buckle your seat belts on these answers;
29 percent said an armed revolt might be necessary in this country, 29, a
Break it down by party, 18 percent of Democrats agreed armed revolt might
be necessary to protect our civil liberties. But 44 percent of Republicans
said so. So that`s three in 10 altogether who say we may be headed for
Doing their part to help the conspiracy cause along, enter state right
Senator James Inhofe, he, of course, of the global warming is a hoax
theory, and his fellow Republican -- actually, Republican Oklahoma
Congressman Frank Lucas. According to Inhofe -- quote -- "President Obama
has been adamant about curbing law-abiding Americans` access and
opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment rights. And one way the
Obama administration is able to do this," he says, "is by limiting what`s
available in the market with federal agencies purchasing unnecessary
stockpiles of ammunition."
So, as he says, Inhofe, the government is out there secretly buying up all
the bullets so that there won`t be any of those bullets out there in the
stores for the rest of us. Well, Inhofe and Lucas proposed a bill last
week that would ban federal agencies from buying ammunition if their
agency`s stockpile is larger than it was under the Bush administration.
Only the Pentagon would be exempt.
Well, they have got company here. Here`s New Hampshire senator,
representative, state senator -- it`s actually State Representative Edmond
Gionet, who had a question for Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte at a town
hall meeting on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDMOND GIONET (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: One of the things
that concerns my constituents, the majority of my constituents, is that the
appointments that are now being made in Washington by our president and the
way he`s handling the illegal immigrants, nationalizing them and giving
them the opportunity to vote, and wanting to keep track of our guns.
They`re worried that they`re going to have to use these guns because of our
own government. Now, is there anything in Washington that says, any
telltale signs that maybe we might be headed for an internal revolution,
given the fact that these kind of things are going on? That`s what was
said in the group that I sit in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, we`re headed for an internal revolution.
Anyway, it sounds like the poll results we just gave you from Fairleigh
Dickinson are at work in that guy`s head, conspiracy here by election.
Anyway, by the way, Senator Ayotte, who was at the town meeting, running
it, in fact, didn`t express concern in her answer about an armed revolt.
Anyway, then there`s Republican State Senator Stella Tremblay, also from
New Hampshire. Tremblay, who once alerted her constituents to a video
suggesting that President Obama wasn`t born in the United States, now says
she`s convinced the Boston Marathon attack was a government hoax. Why?
According to Tremblay, one of the victims didn`t seem to be in enough pain.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STELLA TREMBLAY (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE SENATOR: My first gut reaction
seeing the horror of that -- that person that had their legs blown off, you
know, with the bones sticking out...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma`am.
TREMBLAY: ... and he wasn`t in shock. And I looked and I thought, there`s
something -- I don`t know what`s wrong, but it seems surreal to me. He
wasn`t in shock. He wasn`t in pain.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Again, Tremblay, that state senator, is actually an elected
official of the united -- of the state of New Hampshire. And she credits
extreme right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as the basis for those
keen insights she gave us there.
Up next, the unkindest cut, how those automatic across-the-board spending
cuts are hurting the most vulnerable people in this country while Congress
steps in to help people who hardly need it.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
BERTHA COOMBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Bertha Coombs with your CNBC
Stocks surging, thanks to better-than-expected jobless numbers, and a rate
cut from the European Central Bank, the Dow jumping 130 points, the S&P
adding 14, while the Nasdaq saw a 41-point gain.
Filings for weekly unemployment benefits fell by 18000 to their lowest
level since January of 2008.
Meantime, a separate report found planned layoffs dropped to the lowest
level of the year last month. The reports come one day before the all-
important April jobs data from the Labor Department.
That`s it from CNBC. We`re first in business worldwide -- now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINSEN FARIS, MEALS ON WHEELS: We`re challenged. Sequester is hurting.
Sequester is hurting in a big, big way. We serve over a million meals a
day. These aren`t people that can go out and shout in the streets and make
sure that the folks up on Capitol Hill know what`s going on. They are
truly shut in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last night, we brought you that great man there, chairman of the board of
directors for the Meals on Wheels Association of America, to describe the
real human toll the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequester are
taking on some of America`s most vulnerable people.
Well, little by little, their stories are getting out. And here`s the
director of the Community Oncology Alliance talking about the effect of
these arbitrary cuts on some cancer patients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSE GERBER, COMMUNITY ONCOLOGY ALLIANCE: I had -- spoke to another
practice administrator in Salt Lake City. She has an 82-year-old patient,
a lymphoma survivor, who now has to travel 62 -- 62 miles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And you already have cancer. Now you have this.
Well, we have told you about some of the programs hurt by sequester huts,
programs for public housing assistance, special education and Head Start,
of course. That`s just a sampling. We`re going to keep track, by the way,
of those for whom these arbitrary cuts are the unkindest of all, usually
the poor, elderly, disabled and disenfranchised generally. We`re going to
call it the unkindest cut, from Shakespeare, of course -- not of course,
but from Shakespeare.
Well, today`s unkindest cut affects the people who use soup kitchens and
food pantries, as we know them, to feed people who need help and need food.
Joel Berg is the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against
Hunger. It`s an umbrella soup for soup kitchens across the country and
also food pantries, many of which are partially federally funded. Josh
Green is a senior national correspondent for "Bloomberg Businessweek."
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
Joel, tell us what this sequestration, which seems like a theory to a lot
of people, is doing to your work.
JOEL BERG, NEW YORK CITY COALITION AGAINST HUNGER: Already, the
sequestration has eliminated our New York City-based VISTA AmeriCorps
Chris, I know you were in the Peace Corps.
BERG: And AmeriCorps is a domestic Peace Corps that allows low-income and
middle-class kids to serve their nation and get a small educational award
We had 11 people placed in soup kitchens and food pantries in New York
City. And that has been eliminated by the sequestration.
Also, the sequestration cut $5 million out of the FEMA emergency food and
shelter program, the main source of federal cash for soup kitchens, food
pantry, food banks and homelessness prevention organizations around the
country. And that program was already slashed over the last three years,
and is now 60 percent lets than in 2009.
MATTHEWS: Of course, the weather`s getting a little better. So, it`s not
as bad in the shelter as in the harshness of winter. Anybody who watches
homeless people in the winter, you can only feel for them when they get
under the cardboard boxes they live in and stuff.
My question is, what does it done in terms of being able to trade to serve
people? How many people have you had to turn people back for lunch or
dinner, that kind of thing?
BERG: The national cuts are going to take away at least a few million
meals. Here in New York City, because of the other cuts, 2/3 of the soup
kitchens and food pantries in New York City already have to ration food.
Turn people away. Reduce portions size. Reduce hours of operation.
And this is a city that has 53 billionaires with combined net worth of $230
billion. We can certainly afford, as a city and as a nation, to fund these
programs, but we`re not.
MATTHEWS: That`s terrible.
Let me go to Josh Green.
Your view about this as a reporter. This is so far an unreported story.
We`re going to do our bid here, on the unkindness cuts, which is a line
actually from Mark Anthony speech about what happened to Ceasar. This is
what happened to little people, not to Caesar.
But your thoughts about the reporting aspect of this. We`re getting a lot
of attention, we had a lot of talk about the fact the air traffic
controllers had to get their money, that that was an exception.
My question, it`s a political question -- why doesn`t some smart liberal,
or progressive, on the floor of the House, bring a bill to the floor that
says why don`t we bring back the Meals on Wheels program? Why don`t we
bring back the subsidies for food pantries? Then it jammed the -- even the
conservative members into voting for it.
JOSH GREEN, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Well, I`m not sure it would jam the
conservative members. I mean, if you look at some of the Republican
policies, especially in the House, they`ve wanted to cut exactly these
social programs in order to pay for tax cuts.
GREEN: I think as a reporter, 7jthe interesting story here, though, is it
really throws into sharp relief the kind of lobbying power that certain
organizations have like the aircraft owners and pilots association versus
programs like Head Start and soup kitchens that don`t have that kind of
lobbying clout. You see the results in what`s happened.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to Joel, then. Just teach me something
here. FEMA --we think of FEMA as something to help, like after Sandy up in
Jersey and New York, and helping those families in terrible shape along the
coast there. My sense is that FEMA does that kind of work.
Now, I`m learning that FEMA helps feed people who are generally hungry.
BERG: Well, there`s a long-term disaster in America. Fifty million
Americans now live in households that can`t afford enough food.
There is a great irony that certain conservatives like Representative Peter
King, when there was a delay in Sandy relief funding to his district, went
ballistic rightfully so, that the aid was delayed and he said no one should
two hungry, no one should lack a roof over their head because of Sandy. I
just hope more people in Congress would understand that there`s a long-term
disaster that happens every day.
You know, it seems these days Congress is good at two things: making their
own lives easier, and making the lives of low-income people harder.
MATTHEWS: How do you express that with poor people? Are you going to have
rallies? You`re going to have people protest? What -- how do you get to
be -- my dad used to call it a squeaky wheel? Because squeaky wheels, as
we were just talking about here, get the grease.
BERG: We need to rebuild the poor people`s movement like Dr. King did.
And we are starting from the grass --
MATTHEWS: Or Abernathy, too. Ralph Abernathy. Let`s not forget.
BERG: Lots of them.
They actually pressured Richard Nixon to help start the creation of the
modern nutrition safety net which dramatically reduced hunger in America.
So, we need to better organize the 50 million Americans that are in these
straits and also convince middle class Americans and others it`s in their
collective self-interest to reduce hunger in America because no superpower
in the history of the world has remained a superpower, has remained
economically competitive if they let tens of millions of their own
residents go hungry.
MATTHEWS: Let`s thank Jon Stewart, who in his own comedic way makes the
point. He said the only food they care about is the food on the tray
coming down the first class aisle.
Thank you, Joel Berg. And, thank you, Josh Green, coming back from great
Up next, Senator Ted Cruz for president? Well, some conservatives say he`s
a rock star and could be another Barry Goldwater. Actually, a lot of us
like Barry Goldwater personally. I`m not sure this guy is quite as
lovable, and certainly not cuddly.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Rhode Island has just now become the tenth state to approve
marriage equality in this country. The state`s House of Representatives
passed a measure just moments ago. And Governor Lincoln Chafee says he
will sign it into law immediately. That means gay marriage is legal now.
In the entire Northeast, look at that map, all seven states from New York
up to Maine. It`s also legal in Washington state, of course, Iowa,
Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: This is going to be fantastic. Add this to the list -- Ted Cruz
to the list of Republicans who may be considering running for president in
2016. The freshman Tea Party senator from Texas is a rock star to some
conservatives. He`s outspoken, fearless. I buy all this -- he doesn`t shy
away -- I buy all that.
But his snarky remarks aren`t just aimed at his political opponents. Here
he is at the FreedomWorks summit just last week criticizing members of his
own Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Look, there are a lot of people that don`t like
to be held accountable, but here was their argument. They said, listen,
before you did this, the politics of it were great. The Dems were the bad
guys, the Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of
Well, there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, one conservative says Cruz could be another Barry
Goldwater. By te way, that`s an insult to Barry Goldwater. Anyway -- but
he might also fire up the base.
Anyway, John Feehery is a Republican strategist, and Joan Walsh is the
author of "What`s the Matter with White People". She`s an MSNBC political
By the way, just thinking of the squish word, which sounds like high
school, like something, your House snapping across the aisle, was a
reference to people who are Republican but believed there is a reasonable
agreement for wider background checks. That`s what a squish is. That`s so
we can get that straight.
Your thoughts, though, why you`re here. Why you`re here is you`re a
Republican and you know your stuff. Could your party veer that far over
that they`d go to somebody as tough as this guy, as hard-lined?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It could. He`s got the party tied
up. I think it will go to the governor.
It could be a governor, because the mess in Washington is not going to be a
thing to run. It could be a governor like Mike Pence who is very
But I remember when people were talking about Mark Sanford being a
presidential candidate. I`m not so sure about Ted Cruz, and we got a long
way for Ted Cruz.
MATTHEWS: But what just to talk about the political spectrum. My hunch,
I`ve already said, I think Hillary will a notch or two to the right of
President Obama, if you will, of President Obama. I know that`s the sweet
spot politically right now in any party. I think it is.
MATTHEWS: Will your guy be to the right or left of Mitt Romney? I would
say to the right.
FEEHERY: He`ll be to the right of Mitt Romney, but I don`t think he`ll be
as far right as Ted Cruz. I think he`d be somewhere in the middle.
Although I would say that a Chris Christie could get the nomination.
MATTHEWS: Well, he wouldn`t be to the right of Romney.
FEEHERY: No, he would not, he would not.
MATTHEWS: So, he would win because he`s the best candidate to beat
FEEHERY: He`s the best candidate --
MATTHEWS: He could actually possibly beat her.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: But that doesn`t win Republicans primaries. I
mean, you know that better than I do. I really don`t think Chris Christie
is going to scratch the itch that needs to be scratched. And Ted Cruz does
it. It`s just a really question -- I mean, if there`s several Tea Party
candidates, and there`s Rubio, and Rand Paul, my friend, and Ted Cruz, then
maybe a Christie or a Pence has a better chance because they are fighting
If they get smart and decide only one of them is going to run, then Cruz
could be formidable.
MATTHEWS: Parties when they lost an election, you lost when you thought he
could win. I thought you could win. I thought it was going to be much
MATTHEWS: Look like a hell of an election coming out of that first debate.
MATTHEWS: And then it didn`t quite work because of the demographic changes
we didn`t know were coming. And so they did and they came and, all of a
sudden, more young people, more African-Americans, more Latinos voted and
it changed the election, it made it harder for your party.
My question again to you is, what is the natural instinctive reaction after
getting smacked when you thought you were going to win? Is it go hard
right or middle?
FEEHERY: I think our guy is going to want to win. I think especially
post-Barack Obama --
FEEHERY: Listen, I think that depends on what`s the big issue of the
moment. But I do think that this party is going to want to win because
they are not going to want Hillary Clinton to win.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s too nasty. I think he looks too nasty. I think,
in the end, politicians if either party fit a simple mold. Bill Clinton is
very likable. Barack Obama, whatever people say about him, they like his
smile, they like him personally, they like the family.
Cruz looks so tough.
WALSH: He`s really tough. Could you imagine him debating Hillary? I
mean, Democrats would just be -- we would be celebrating from the
But the real thing, John, is that if you`ve got -- if Marco Rubio has been
damage by pushing for immigration reform when your party needs some Latino
voters, then that`s a terrible sign for 2016.
FEEHERY: The fascinating thing that`s gone on with the guys like Pat
Toomey and Marco Rubio is they have all found that issue to try to tap to
the middle. Ted Cruz hasn`t found that issue. The question is, does he
want, or does he want to follow in the foot steps of Jim DeMint and end up
at the Heritage Foundation. And I think the for me, we don`t what Ted Cruz
really wants to be --
MATTHEWS: He wants to be the next Rick Santorum, which is just follow the
campaign, stay too far to the right but own it.
FEEHERY: Well, what Rick Santorum did -- tried to get reelected was move
to the center and they lost his reelection and then he tapped far to the
right to try to get the nomination.
MATTHEWS: Here`s the danger for your party. Hillary Clinton, I`m not her
speechwriter, but she will go after the worst in why you are party. She
won`t debate the guy running against her. She`ll debate the worst elements
in your party.
FEEHERY: Our problem with Hillary Clinton is we got a gender gap problem,
we got a Hispanic problem. We got to have someone that expands the base
that goes -
MATTHEWS: What about the woman your age, my age, the woman my age, who
says it`s about time we had a woman president? How do you fight that
argument if she`s obviously qualified?
FEEHERY: It`s a tough one. You`ve got to find a woman who -- there`s a
lot of women that are going to vote purely on that. You`ve got to make
this a competence issue and you`ve got to make it an ideological issue --
MATTHEWS: Competence issue with Hillary? Good luck. Ha!
FEEHERY: I think Hillary is a tough candidate for us, but I think -- we`ll
see. I`m not going to predict that right now. I don`t think she`s going
to get the nomination. I don`t she`s going to run.
MATTHEWS: Who, Hillary?
WALSH: You don`t think she`s going to run?
MATTHEWS: That`s possible.
WALSH: We don`t know.
MATTHEWS: I watched her last night --
FEEHERY: Let`s put it this way, I hope she doesn`t run.
MATTHEWS: I think she`s going to play it safe for a while, not make much
noise, wait a year out and decide. She doesn`t have to do it right now.
MATTHEWS: Joe Biden has to wait for her.
FEEHERY: I think that`s right.
MATTHEWS: That`s not going to be too much waiting either.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Joan Walsh, thank you, as always. Good to see you here
in Washington, D.C., our nation`s capital.
WALSH: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: John Feehery, as always.
When we return, let me give some advice for anyone thinking of running
against Hillary Clinton. I know I`m walking on coals with this, but it`s
going to be good.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
The polls show that Hillary Clinton is, by historic standards, the runaway
favorite to be the next Democratic candidate for president.
I agree. She`s earned it -- been a good teammate for Obama, ran a strong
enough election to try again, has a resume like no one`s ever seen, one
that is even stronger when you include the years in which she played her
role as Bill Clinton`s counselor. She knows very much what it`s like to be
president -- knows what it`s like to be there when things are going well,
when they`re not going well.
But a word to those thinking of running against her: Do it! Get out there,
make your case, make it positively, heroically, proudly. Let people know
what you believe, what you think you`re good at, where you want to take the
country if you do get elected.
Everything I know about politics is that this is the uncanny move is the
brilliant one. Put yourself in a place where you can`t lose because no one
is expecting you to win. You beat the spread just by jumping in the race
in the first place. You`re ahead from day one.
I`m speaking here to Martin O`Malley, the governor of Maryland, and anyone
else contemplating a run -- because you just never know, and the sidelines
is nowhere to find or to stand if you want to really know what your chances
I try never in politics to believe in the expected. I believe deeply in a
person having the guts to try the hardest road -- because it`s those kind
of people I want running the country.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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