updated 5/7/2013 11:17:44 AM ET 2013-05-07T15:17:44

HARDBALL
May 6, 2013

Guests: Carrie Budoff Brown, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Kathy Castor, Ron Herndon


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A gun in every hand.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The NRA wants you armed. They want you
carrying a gun, preferably in way that everyone can see, you know, like in
the cowboy movies, but better than cowboys, they don`t want you walking
into some saloon trusting some damned sidearm. They want you armed, for
God`s sake. No man should be without a semi-automatic handgun or rifle.

Without an assault weapon in your hands, you`re not really an American.
Any true American is ready at all times to fight this country`s elected
government, if it gets out of line. And this is the NRA`s America, guns
for everybody, gun shows for anyone who wants to buy one. And ladies and
gentlemen, that means anyone -- felons, criminally insane, wife beaters.
By God, you stick by the NRA and you`ll never have a problem getting your
hands on any deadly firearm, any one you`d like.

And this NRA creed, by the way -- and it`s all what I`m saying now -- is
the de facto platform of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. Guns
killed Lincoln, killed James Garfield, killed McKinley, almost killed
Ronald Reagan. And all that`s forgiven now by the NRA-infested Republican
Party. Today the leaders of the Republican Party march in lockstep behind
the banner of Wayne LaPierre, and no Democrat need apply.

Kasie Hunt right now is NBC News political reporter. She`s with us here.
She covered the NRA convention down in Houston this weekend. And Howard
Fineman is the HuffingtonPost`s editorial director and an MSNBC political
analyst.

Let`s take a look at this. Here`s NPR -- why do I keep saying that? NRA
executive vice president Wayne PR -- Wayne Pierre -- LaPierre. It couldn`t
be more different than the NPR.

Anyway, he invoked the recent Boston lockdown in his argument for gun
rights. Now, this is twisted, but it`s how he`s thinking and how he`s
selling. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: They can try to blame us and
shame us with all their might. But when it comes to defending the 2nd
Amendment, we will never sacrifice our freedom up on the altar of elitist
acceptance. We will never surrender our guns. Never!

Imagine waking up to a phone call from the police at 3:00 AM in the
morning, warning a terrorist event is occurring outside and ordering you to
stay inside your home. I`m talking, of course, about Boston. How many
Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Kasie, you were down there, so you can give me the
tick-tock, as we say in this business, the color. But this guy isn`t going
for the sweet middle of American politics. He`s going for the hard right.
And I`m telling you, I am not overplaying his hand. He wants us armed. He
wants the American people, men, women, whatever, armed.

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: This -- the tone at the convention was
absolutely no surrender. It was a call to arms from LaPierre, and the
crowd responded accordingly. When you -- the quote that you just played
saying, We will never surrender our guns, the crowd stood up, got to their
feet, cheered, whistled and stayed there for several long seconds. I mean,
that was really what got those people going.

And they really do feel like President Obama is trying to take their guns
away. I mean, the AR-15 which was used at Newtown and which was included
in a proposed assault weapons ban, is something that was all over the
stalls at the NRA convention, and it has all kinds of attachments --

MATTHEWS: You mean for sale.

HUNT: For sale -- well, for sale in some places, but on display to promote
the companies promoting the gun.

MATTHEWS: And that`s considered an assault weapon.

HUNT: It is.

MATTHEWS: Howard, this is interesting because you and I have been watching
politics. The normal way is to try to get to the sweet center-right,
center-left, to get a huge bloc of voters. Seems like there`s an awful lot
on the right, right now, and they feel righteously indignant. The whole
message there was, We`re the victims.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, yes. Exactly. All of American politics seems to operate these days
with everybody wanting to feel under siege.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Abortion rights people and pro-life people -- they portray
themselves and feel under siege. Immigration advocates feel themselves
under siege. And nobody feels -- to take another example. Nobody feels
more under siege than the people that --

MATTHEWS: Is this just fund-raising talk?

FINEMAN: -- that Kasie was --

MATTHEWS: No, it`s both fund-raising talk, and I think it`s the way the --
American politics has unraveled --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: -- into the emotions of aggrievement. That`s the way everybody
is right now. In the old days, the NRA prided itself on its
bipartisanship. It had people like -- it had Democrats like John Dingell
and other leading Democrats, powerful Democrats, who were very much a part
of their coalition. Now this NRA has forgotten that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: It`s tied itself to the Republican Party. It`s tied itself to
the deep South. It`s using the short-term advantages that they have in the
Senate with the filibuster and in the House with the Republicans --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: -- to block legislation in a partisan way. They`ll worry about
tomorrow tomorrow. It`s the Jimmy Cagney version of politics.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I -- I --

FINEMAN: Come and get me -- come and get me, copper.

MATTHEWS: Yes, come and get me. Here`s the big thing. I`m on top (ph) of
the world. Anyway, that`s another one.

FINEMAN: Yes. Right.

MATTHEWS: This whole idea of righteous indignation -- first of all, it`s
Hitlerian, generally speaking. Demagoguery is. It`s always about
righteous indignation. All great demagoguing speech -- speakers talk about
how, They`re coming to get us. That`s how you get people excited.

Anyway, let`s take a look at -- here`s former Alaska governor -- well,
she`s always going to be former governor. That`s one title she will never
lose. She was at the NRA convention. And I want you to respond to this.
And she criticized the president for the Newtown families on gun safety
measures. Let`s watch her twist this one.

SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOVERNOR, FMR. VP NOMINEE: -- this president
flying in grieving parents on Air Force One, making them backdrops in his
perpetual campaign-style press events. Now, instead of leaders who offer
real solutions, we have leaders who practice the politics of emotion.

What keeps me optimistic, keeps us reloading in this fight, what keeps us
going in this fight and about this country that I love, I know we love, is
the faces that I see here today. You don`t give up! The Washington
establishment sneers at you, and you don`t give up. The lamestream media
just plain doesn`t get you, and you don`t give up. You don`t retreat!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the language of war here is pretty clear, isn`t it --
reloading, retreating. I mean, this is a battle out there. And my feeling
is that they`re stronger than their enemies right now, still. I mean, look
at the fact of this vote. It didn`t get 60 votes for gun safety, the
minimal kind of gun safety (INAUDIBLE) no gun show sideshow, no way to buy
guns if you`re crazy or criminal. You can`t go that -- and they shut that
door -- or rather, they kept it open. And now this -- they look like
they`re having fun.

HUNT: This was a celebration, without a doubt, of their victory in --

MATTHEWS: They like her?

HUNT: They loved Sarah Palin. But you know what? One thing I thought was
really interesting is the NRA outgoing president actually acknowledged in
his speech that what they did with the background check bill was an
accomplishment that no one could have imagined back in January. So back
when we were talking about an assault weapons ban, a ban on clips, the
background checks, just of sort of one thing on a list of much more
aggressive measures. He was essentially acknowledging that, Look, we beat
that stuff back, and we also beat back background checks, which -- hey --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It was an uphill battle, and they did it. Let`s take a look at
the -- NRA wanted to appeal to mainstream Americans. If they didn`t, they
wouldn`t have invited Glenn Beck as their keynoter. Here`s Beck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The freedom of all mankind, make no
mistake, is at stake. And because of this, I truly believe that our souls
are at stake, as well.

I am amazed at how many of my New York friends have become absolute dopes
and just will accept the soda ban, the popcorn ban, the salt ban. They`ll
just accept it.

I -- by the way, just a quick note. I want to throw in an advertisement
here. I`ve come up with a new advertisement for New York. We all know "I
heart New York." I`d like to show you my new advertisement for it, new
slogan. There it is.

(LAUGHTER)

BECK: "You will love New York!"

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I can`t overplay how far right this country`s gotten.
And anybody who`s watching it, progressives or middle-of-the-roaders, if
you don`t see what`s happening with these people -- you don`t have to
cartoonize them. You got a Nazi salute there, the mayor of New York,
because he wants to have 16-ounce limits on soda. Let`s put it in
practical terms. He also wants -- he did a pretty good job, I`ll have to
say this, on cigarettes in New York. They didn`t bring that up because
they know he was right on that one.

But this idea of making moderate politicians like Mike Bloomberg, who`s
really a centrist, into some sort of left, what --

FINEMAN: Nominal Republican. Well, I --

MATTHEWS: A Nazi.

FINEMAN: I would say that the key to it is what Kasie saw down there.
They were celebrating the victory of their brand of politics. In other
words, don`t tell them that they need some centrist emblem as the new
president in the NRA. They`ll pick the guy from the deep South. They`ll
pick the guy because this is what has worked. Their focus, their sense of
aggrievement, their anti-elitist talk, all that, has worked in the way --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Howard, you`re always right. And this is where he`s right
again, to everybody watching. This isn`t just about guns, is about guns,
it`s about this war in this country that`s gotten more divided, more
polarized. And it`s about symbols like telling you you can`t have certain
kind of gun. You need certain kind of freedoms with your gun, like no
background checks. Or that you have an African-American president.

And here`s an example, the birther thing. It all ties together. You have
to explain to me how they see the overlap of birtherism and guns because I
see it. Here`s the new NRA president, Jim Porter. He also doesn`t sound
like he`s willing to go into that middle line there across the aisle.

Last year, he made a speech not only referring to the Civil War as "the war
of Northern aggression" -- here we go again -- but also invoked birther
language. Now, I missed this last week -- birther language. Watch him
here talk about our fake president.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM PORTER, NRA PRESIDENT: The NRA was started 1871 right here in New York
state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn`t like the way my
Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the war of Northern
aggression. Now, y`all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the war
of Northern aggression down South.

I get so sick and tired of all these people with this fake president that
we got who wants to say, Well, you know, he hasn`t done anything bad for
gun owners. I said, Let me tell you something bad that he`s done. His
entire administration is anti-gun, anti-freedom, anti-2nd Amendment!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know if he`s burning books there or not. But let me
tell you, Kasie -- I don`t know, it`s a lot to lay on your shoulders, but I
got to tell you this. I see a far bigger fight than over background checks
and gun shows. It`s culture war. They don`t accept an African-American
president or president of color who has some antecedents in Africa. No, it
has to be us or him. And our guns or him. And everything is totemic.
Everything`s iconic. Everything`s Fighting words.

What was it feeling like down there? How`d the -- didn`t they react when
they hear this kind of talk?

HUNT: Well, I mean, some of this kind of talk was used, the culture war
sort of paradigm. The incoming president --

MATTHEWS: What about this?

HUNT: -- as you just showed -- well, and Mayor Bloomberg is a
particularly negative figure for them because if you think about his brand
of Republicanism, it`s exactly wrong for this crowd. I mean, this is as
much a cultural divide as it is a party divide.

MATTHEWS: He`s leading the fight for gun safety, too.

HUNT: Right. So he`s a Republican in some ways, but he`s also the mayor
of New York City, which is a very foreign thing for people who, you know,
are living out in rural areas who have driven, you know, 10 or 12 hours
just to come to the NRA convention.


MATTHEWS: Yes. So you put it all together in America, you got a real stew
of fighting here. It`s not just about guns. It`s not just about Obama.
It`s somewhat about region, this whole cause to the -- the lost cause of
the Confederacy. There`s some of that there. There`s some country mouse
versus city mouse piece to it. It`s really traditional America 50 years
ago, 100 years ago, and anything that looks like the future. And they
don`t like the looks of the future.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris, you`re just listing all of the things that divide us
into pieces in the United States -- what`s left of regionalism, and there
is still some left --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: -- cultural differences between city and country life. And
this idea, as you were saying before, that everybody has to feel that
they`re aggrieved. Everybody`s a populist. Everybody hates the elites.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Everybody`s against Harvard. Every, you know --

MATTHEWS: But I`m amazed --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Ted Cruz went to Harvard --

MATTHEWS: But everybody`s got --

FINEMAN: Ted Cruz went to Harvard --

MATTHEWS: OK --

FINEMAN: -- and lectured against Harvard.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree with that. William Bennett does that, too,
once in a while.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: But look, the thing is, it`s all the blue plate special. If
you`re -- you got to be against gun safety, against Mike Bloomberg, against
New York. You got to be against Obama, and you buy the whole plate.

FINEMAN: See, I --

MATTHEWS: And that`s what I`m amazed about that event down there.

FINEMAN: I just don`t think that the Republicans -- they can stop
legislation. They can celebrate what they did. They can`t -- I don`t know
that they can win a general election this way.

MATTHEWS: No, but they can control Congress.

FINEMAN: Yes, they can.

MATTHEWS: And thank you (INAUDIBLE) Thank you, Kasie Hunt. Good
reporting.

Coming up: Opposing immigration reform. Jim DeMint`s Heritage Foundation
claims immigration reform will cost $6.3 trillion. Well, that`s a lot.
Heritage`s fuzzy math, you might call it, is being challenged, but cost
could be a deal breaker. It`s being used by the hard right to kill reform,
which a lot of Republicans think is needed to save their party. So they`d
like to get it off their back, but yet they`re trying to kill it. You
figure.

Also, tomorrow`s election day in South Carolina. It looks like we could
see a big turnaround in that race. A PPP poll has Mark Sanford now up by 1
point over Elizabeth Colbert. And by the way, that`s a 10-point net pickup
in Sanford`s favor in just two weeks. So he might just win tomorrow. Who
knows.

And our series "The Unkindest Cut" on the real damage those sequestration
cuts are actually doing. Tonight, kids being turned away from Head Start,
a great American program. Is this the smart way to save money, hurting
kids?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the definition of true immigration
reform.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Wow, Gabrielle Giffords received the John F. Kennedy Profile in
Courage award yesterday up in Boston for her work trying to stop gun
violence. Giffords spoke briefly about her own challenges and veered off
her prepared remarks to criticize inaction in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), FMR. ARIZONA CONGRESSWOMAN: I wish there was more
courage in Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The award was presented by Caroline Kennedy -- there she is --
who made a rare reference to her own family`s tragic history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROLINE KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF PRES. JOHN F. KENNEDY: Our family is still
suffering from the heartbreak of gun violence. No one should have to lose
a husband, a wife, a father, a child to senseless murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, this year marks the 50th year since John F. Kennedy was
assassinated in Dallas.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, there are 11 million people in
this country illegally right now, we know, so what would be the cost of the
government allowing them to become full participating citizens? Well, the
conservative Heritage Foundation says that the cost of legalizing those
people, as outlined in the "gang of eight" immigration bill being led by
Senators Rubio, Schumer, McCain and others, could be in the trillions -- in
fact, up around $6 trillion.

Well, here`s what Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, the former
senator, said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM DEMINT, HERITAGE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: We need an immigration process
that attracts workers our economy needs and encourages patriotic
assimilation to unite new immigrants with America`s vibrant civil society.

But let`s be clear, amnesty for those who are here unlawfully is not
necessary to capture those benefits. Our analysis shows that taxpayers,
including immigrants who`ve come here lawfully, will be saddled with $6.3
trillion in cost over the next 50 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, some have challenged that figures. (sic) First of all --
that figure -- first of all, pointing out that it`s over a 50-year time
period. And $6 trillion may sound like a lot, but over 50 years, it`s not
as much. The bulk of the cost, by the way, from entitlements such as
Social Security, and that would be likely years away when we`d have to pay
that bill.

Also, they say the study doesn`t account for the potential economic
benefits that immigration reform could have in the form of increased
productivity for people who could work in the daylight and be legal and
everything else and the higher GDP that would come as a result.

So what will the cost of immigration reform really be? Even if it`s lower
than that Heritage Foundation number of $6 trillion, what does it mean --
will it mean just another unfunded mandate? Serious questions, of course,
which are going to be important to this debate.

Joining me right now is one of the study`s critics, Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
He`s the president of the American Action Forum. And Carrie Budoff Brown,
who`s White House reporter at Politico.

Let me -- let me start with Carrie. This debate -- first of all, I want to
start with you about the debate, just get the politics of this thing. Is
there a fight going on in the Republican Party, or among the right, where
there`s a small group of people who are for reform -- McCain, Flake, also
of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina?
Except for them, is the Republican Party pretty much anti-reform?

CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN, POLITICO: Well, not necessarily.

I mean, you have -- you have folks who -- in the Republican Party, in the
Senate who are sort of on the fence right now, who clearly can go one
direction or another. And they`re really watching this whole debate pretty
closely. And things like a Heritage study where they estimate the cost at
$6 trillion, you know, is going to get their attention.

But the benefit that proponents such as Rubio and Democrats have, their
best friend right now is the fact that there is clear divide within the
Republican Party on the merits of this one study. So, on the day that the
study comes out, you have Republicans like Paul Ryan, who is obviously a
fiscal hawk, out there saying, don`t pay attention to this study.

So it`s kind of the best thing that proponents have going for them is the
fact that there is division on this Heritage study and people discrediting
it and have been discrediting it for weeks leading up to the release today.

MATTHEWS: Here`s what I like to get, is the facts, without getting into
trillion dollar numbers which boggle the mind.

We all pay FICA from the time we were serving newspapers, practically, and
being a stock boy in a restaurant or somewhere like I was. And we have
always paid it. And even though you start at 15 or 17 when you first work,
you don`t really get much more because you worked all those years. But
it`s sort of fair in a general sense. And by the time you`re 65 or
whatever, you get back your benefits, right?

Now, what about people who are working underground, the ones in sweatshops
and where they`re playing, maybe they`re cutting lawns, maybe they`re
fixing roofs, whatever? Are they paying right now, most of those people,
paying into Social Security or not, under assumed names or not?

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE DIRECTOR: Many of
them are.

MATTHEWS: Many are?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: And they`re paying taxes. Often, they have an illegal Social
Security number.

MATTHEWS: sure.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: And that`s their gateway to employment. And so they`re
paying their taxes. And --

MATTHEWS: So, we -- there`s no real change in their status. If their
status is enhanced to citizenship or permanent residence, it would be the
same -- they would get paid -- in this case , they would actually get the
benefits they deserve?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And then what really stands out about the study, and one of the
things that I think is misleading about it is it`s not immigration reform.

What was true before will be true after. We will have people here, they
will be paying taxes. That was true before. It will be true after. It`s
a very incomplete characterization of reform. The reform is very broad.
It has H-1Bs and ags and border security and employer verification. This
is about one narrow slice.

MATTHEWS: Well, no, but the thread here is that all kinds of millions of
people, 11 million people all of a sudden plop onto the benefit train and
having never kicked in. That`s what they`re really selling here.

Is that true or not?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Well, let`s talk about that, let`s talk about that.

The notion is that somehow there are 12 million Americans who will be
transported 50 years into the future and in the process be legalized and
collect nothing but benefits. But that`s not what the law says. The law
says let`s divide them into those who are felons and not. So, the felons
are out. Let`s keep track of those who work for 10 straight years and an
above 125 percent of the poverty line. A lot of those other people are
out.

And then the rest, well, they are going to work and they will pay taxes,
collect some benefits. But the study assumes everyone`s in, everyone`s
there forever and they`re condemned to their current status. This is an
America without a dream. There`s no upward mobility. It`s just all
taxpayers --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, you`re saying that if a person who gets legalized at the age
of 35 or becomes illegal --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: They`re going to be --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They`re going to be making more money.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Then they will paying more taxes and the economy will be doing
better?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Yes, they start businesses. That`s a traditional route for
immigrants to get ahead. And that`s all missing from this study. It`s a
very --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me get back to the politics. OK.Let me get back to the
politics.

Carrie, if you`re a Republican in the House, it seems to me you`re already
ill-disposed to vote for this because your district is probably 80 percent
or 90 percent Anglo. That`s the way the whole thing works out there. So,
is this going to be one more burden to carry through the House if we do get
a Senate bill?

BUDOFF BROWN: It absolutely is.

And I think that`s why from the moment that Heritage released a report from
2007 that really was viewed as instrumental in sort of helping finally tank
the bill in 2007, you have seen the left, proponents of reform literally
spending the last six years preparing for this moment.

They have developed tons of studies that are meant to counter something
like this, a study with an astronomical tag on it, because of Republicans -
-

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why are they against? Well, let me ask you this. Let`s get to
the basic here.

BUDOFF BROWN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What`s the difference between -- I have heard some things from
DeMint I usually don`t agree with on anything, but he did say some things
I agree with.

We want people to assimilate. We want people to become part of our culture
and be legalized in the best way we can do it. We want a system that makes
sense. That`s fine. And then he says no amnesty. Now, the word amnesty
is so laden.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It says we`re giving them something, they`re basically
criminals, and we`re going to treat them like that.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Yes.

I mean, look, this is a political document meant to blow up the political
debate. But I think the mistake Heritage made is somehow thinking that
they have the conservatives behind them. They don`t. I`m a conservative.
Grover Norquist is a conservative.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, what --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- the difference between you and them?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: We believe, and always have believed in pro-growth policies.
This is a pro-growth policy. We believe that free people pursuing their
dreams is good for society. That`s what immigration is all about.

MATTHEWS: Why is a libertarian like Rand Paul against immigration preform?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: It`s not obvious he is. He`s come out in support of good
immigration reform.

MATTHEWS: Is he for that? Is he --

(CROSSTALK)

HOLTZ-EAKIN: So, I think it`s a mistake to say Republicans are deeply
divided and there`s not support for this. Heritage is very much isolated.
They used to favor immigration reform. Now they`re stuck.

MATTHEWS: Well, I would like to think you`re right. But I think the House
-- look, I will predict it now. The House is a problem.

They`re not even -- apparently, they`re going to come out with a bill out
of the House -- the House Judiciary Committee that doesn`t even have
anything about legalization. They might not even address it.

Anyway, thank you -- which means we`re going to have the big fight in
conference.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, formerly known as a great man with the McCain
campaign, and Carrie Budoff Brown, thank you. Politico is booming.

Up next: Chris Christie`s showdown with an eight-legged opponent. I think
I`m on his side on this baby anyway. That`s coming up in the "Sideshow."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

Do you know PETA cares about spiders?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."

First, ever since the Boston Marathon bombings, some on the far right have
been sounding off about some kind of connection between the suspects and
Saudi Arabia. Just last week, Glenn Beck latched onto an anonymous report
in the U.K.`s "Daily Mail" suggesting that the Saudi government warned the
Obama administration about one of the suspects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We had several specific warnings on a
specific individual. FBI, DHS notified on the individual by Russia, they
called him up. Saudi Arabia calls him up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Saudi embassy and the White House denied that any such
warning occurred.

Well, all the same, Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Scott Perry dived
in.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. SCOTT PERRY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We keep on hearing about a Saudi
connection. Listen, this administration hasn`t been forthcoming with
information on other cases that are important to the American people,
namely Benghazi, Fast and Furious, et cetera.

So, when they haven`t been really forthcoming on information regarding
these other Saudi connections and what have you, then we are skeptical and
we`re mistrusting and we want -- you know, we just don`t believe them.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I love that we.

Anyway, any chance Republicans happen to throw Benghazi into the mix, they
throw it in.

Next, just out this tweet from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- quote
-- "Earlier today, I saved a few schoolchildren from a spider #nobigdeal"
and "#toughdayattheoffice."

Well, here`s the moment that inspired the tweet. Christie was hosting a
class of schoolchildren in his office on Friday when a spider made a brief
appearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Where is he? There he is.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

That`s also another fun part of being governor. Any bugs on your desk,
you`re allowed to kill them and not get in trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, believe it or not, PETA, the animal rights organization,
released a statement on the move, saying that Christie probably did it
without thinking. Some people put a spider outside, but spiders are often
scary to people and that can prevent them from pondering their worth.

Next, remember when Jack Lew was first nominated for treasury secretary and
people weren`t sure if they wanted to see his loopy signature on their
paper currency? Well, even President Obama jokingly weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never noticed Jack`s
signature.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And when this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered
rescinding my offer to appoint him.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one
letter legible in order not to debase our currency.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Update: Lew`s signature isn`t on paper money yet, but "The
Washington Post" came across a preview. Here`s the old version. And
here`s the one from a new report from the Office of the Treasury. Hmm,
looks like a big improvement for Jack.

Finally, is there a Hollywood version of poll analysis mastermind Nate
Silver? Well, according to "The New York Times" today, the answer is yet.
Enter former statistics professor Vinny Bruzzese, who is crunching the
numbers to predict which screenplays will be successful and which ones will
not, which ones will tank.

Through focus groups and statistics on what`s worked in past movies,
Bruzzese has reached several conclusions, including, for horror movie,
demons that target people are more well-received by audiences than demons
that are summoned by people. And, statistically speaking, bowling scenes
often show up in movies that don`t do well in the box office. Bruzzese
usually provides about 20 to 30 pages of recommendations for any script,
making many writers, as he puts it, skittish about his involvement. Hmm.

Up next: A new poll shows Mark Sanford polling even now in South Carolina.
And that`s big poll for him, up about -- big in the last two weeks. Well,
tomorrow is the special election for the House seat down there and it`s a
real race right now.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JACKIE DEANGELIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jackie DeAngelis with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

A mixed day for stocks, the Dow losing five points, the S&P gaining three
to close at another record high, and the Nasdaq adding 14.

Meantime, Apple rose more than 2 percent or about $10 a share after
Barclays raised its price target on the company. Disney also gaining
ground. Its "Iron Man 3" ruled the box office this weekend. Disney`s
earnings are due tomorrow.

And GM was a decliner. The automaker is recalling thousands of cars to fix
a battery control problem.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s particularly good
to be back in South Carolina, knowing you`re about to get another
Democratic congressional seat in the 1st District.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: You know, all you had to do is watch that debate to understand why
Elizabeth is going to make such a great congresswoman. They ain`t seen
nothing yet.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I wonder if that`s a jinx.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. The polls have tightened, by the way,
ahead of tomorrow`s election in South Carolina. It`s the 1st Congressional
seat, as the vice president said.

But despite his predicting -- predicting victory for the Democratic
contender, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, that outcome is far from certain.

Take a look at the latest PPP poll, Mark Sanford there with a one-point
lead. And you know that means they`re basically even, but momentum,
according to the last couple weeks, is shifting clearly toward him. Just
two weeks ago, Sanford was trailing Colbert-Busch by nine. Tells you which
way the wind is blowing.

Despite all his baggage, despite how he made hiking the Appalachian Trail a
national punchline, despite recent headlines about his family problems, and
despite the National Republican congressional Committee basically washing
their hands of him, Mark Sanford could very well win tomorrow`s race.

So, what`s up in South Carolina?

Chris Cillizza got my interest in this with his column today. He`s
managing editor of PostPolitics.com and he`s an MSNBC political analyst.

I loved your column, because I think -- first of all, I once heard this in
a philosophy class at Georgetown. I was sitting in on a class there. The
difference between free will and free choice -- free will means you get to
do what you want to do. Free choice gets to mean you get to decide among a
limited number of options.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Now, the voters get two choices, the Democrat or Sanford. And I
think that`s probably explaining all you need to know about why this is
tight.

CILLIZZA: Well, Chris, I think your free choice vs. free will works in
every political setting, campaign setting, which is you aren`t running
perfect candidate A against this other guy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: You`re running two candidates who have their flaws. Now, Mark
Sanford clearly in his personal life has a lot more flaws. But Elizabeth
Colbert-Busch has not done a great job of distancing herself, which you
need to do --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And she has one big flaw. She`s a Democrat.

CILLIZZA: Right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: By their standards.

CILLIZZA: I always say to people, this isn`t a jump ball district. This
is a district Mitt Romney won by 18 points.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Chris, this is a district that no Democrat has represented in
Congress since the early 1970s.

So, yes, Sanford is clearly going to underperform Mitt Romney and
underperform Mitt Romney badly. But Mitt Romney won it by 18 points. You
have a lot of ground that you can give and still wind up over 50. I don`t
know if he gets there, but he`s certainly close, which is, as you read the
litany of things that have come to light about this guy over the last four
years, pretty amazing.

MATTHEWS: So there`s going to be a moment maybe. It`s 50/50 now. Let`s
assume it`s 50/50. Don`t get in the way of the voters.

CILLIZZA: Sure.

MATTHEWS: They have to decide tomorrow down there.

It`s 50/50. The day will come perhaps within days, if he wins, that guy
we`re looking at, Mark Sanford, three days from now, two days from now, he
will be standing in the U.S. Capitol in Washington in one of those mock
swearing-ins, where the speaker, in this case John Boehner, a Republican,
will be swearing in Mark Sanford. Ready?

CILLIZZA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Now, here`s an opinion question, the kind you hate. Is that
good for the Republican Party, to be swearing in Mark Sanford as a member
of their caucus, this guy?

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: I wrote a piece today on the -- The Fix, on the blog, arguing
this might be a short-term loss for Democrats, but a long-term gain, which
is you have a guy in Mark Sanford who is not someone who is going to play
well with a national audience, to the extent Democrats can make a focus on
him.

Democrats tried to build, and successfully build if you look at the exit
polling numbers, this idea of a Republican war on women during the 2012
campaign. Sanford, given his personal problems, leaving his wife to settle
with Maria Belen Chapur who we`re showing in the background over his left
shoulder, none of those things play well with female voters. You`ve seen a
Democratic aligned super PAC with ads featuring a Republican --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: -- female voter in the district saying Mark Sanford`s not my
kind of guy.

Look, this is a problem the Republican Party didn`t want to have. You said
the House Campaign Committee washed their hands. They absolutely did.

They essentially said, once the trespassing stuff came out, they said, OK,
we`re not giving him any money, but he`s still going to be a Republican,
he`s still going to be a member of that conference. And that means John
Boehner, Eric Cantor, and everybody else, at least for a few days, is going
to have to answer the do you support Mark Sanford`s candidacy, do you
support him in the House question?

MATTHEWS: I love the way you think. You`ve got a great open mind. That`s
why love your column.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, sir.

MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza, thank you -- predicting the unpredicted.

Joy Reid, managing editor of "The Grio" and MSNBC political analyst.

So, you know, politics is about momentum. Every time I`m successful in
predicting election, I always go by my rule, find out where the numbers are
Thursday before the election and track them. And get that vector and
you`ll know who`s going to win.
It looks like by that standard, you cannot predict Colbert-Busch. Not yet.

JOY REID, THE GRIO: Yes. I mean, definitely -- I mean, what you`ve seen
in the public policy polling, if you just isolate that poll, is the
previous poll that they took, you had a sort of demoralized Republican
electorate, right? The poll was looking something like Republican plus
five or six, whereas now it`s at plus 13, which means Republicans are
coming home.

This is at the end of the day a race where partisan Republicans,
Republicans are saying that it`s more important for us to have a
conservative in the House than to have somebody we like, because obviously
Colbert-Busch is winning on the question of who is more favorable. Who do
you like better? But Republicans are going with their guy.

MATTHEWS: What about this strategy, if it works, if Sanford was running
against -- I mean, we thought it was ludicrous he. A cardboard figure of
Nancy Pelosi, using -- invoking the name Nancy Pelosi seven or eight times
in the debate they had. In other words, nationalizing Colbert-Busch,
turning her from a locally somewhat attractive candidate into a national
surrogate, a surrogate basically sent in from the big shots in New York and
Washington.

I think that`s the way he`s played this thing, and if it works, it works.
That`s the game.

REID: Yes. I mean, and it works because in part, Colbert-Busch, you know,
people I talked to today about this race, she didn`t do enough to distance
herself from the party.

So, it`s ironic that this thing that the national media took as a joke, him
running against a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi in a way was a stand-in
for him running against Colbert-Busch who he`s basically saying she`s going
to be an apparatchik of Pelosi. She is in a sense a cardboard cutout of
the National Democratic Committee. He took the focus off himself and put
it on national Democrats who are deeply under water. Barack Obama, Nancy
Pelosi, deeply under water in South Carolina. So, he`s running against
them.

And, you know, Chris, ironically, the Republican Party, the NRCC washing
its hands of Sanford in a way played into his hands. He can say, look, I
am my own person.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: The establishment has no arms around me.

And if he were go to Washington, he wouldn`t necessarily owe the leadership
of his party in the House --

MATTHEWS: Might turn out to be an independent which wouldn`t bother me too
much if he got there. By the way, I`ve never been convinced that either
party has an advantage on sexual behavior, good behavior. They both seem
to get into this mess fairly frequently. We can make our separate lists on
a legal pad someday. But I think there`s a lot of entry.

So, I`m slow to jump on somebody for a sexual misbehavior, because I always
know both sides seem to have that in the DNA, if you will. Not to defend
it.

Joy, thank you so much for your analysis tonight, as always.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, kids are being turned away from Head Start. This is
serious business.

Head Start is one of the fine programs in this country. It allows
something close to an equal start at the starting gate and it`s being blown
away by these sequesters. It`s our latest installment of our series "The
Unkindest Cuts." It`s about how the Congress` spending cuts are doing real
damage.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the hottest race of this year may well be the governor`s
race down in Virginia. We`ve got new poll data in that contest. And let`s
check the HARDBALL scoreboard.

According to a new "Washington Post" poll, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the
state`s attorney general, has a five-point lead over Democrat Terri
McAuliffe among registered voters. Now, get this -- Cuccinelli, 46
percent-41 percent. But among likely voters, those who expect a vote
actually, Cuccinelli has a 10-point lead, 51 percent-41 percent.

The good news for McAuliffe, only 10 percent of Virginia voters say they`re
following the campaign very closely right now. So there`s time for him to
make up that ground.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last week, we launched our new series "The Unkindest Cut", bringing to
light real victims of these across the board spending cuts known as
sequester. Elderly people won`t get their Meals on Wheels, the poor and
disenfranchised having their access to soup kitchens limited. And we asked
for your input for more cases, and you certainly delivered.

Mary Lou from Los Angeles posted this to our Facebook page. "My mother is
in the hospice program. We got a notice from hospice that because of the
sequester, they will no longer supply the latex gloves, wipes and bed pads.
Luckily for us, we`re able to afford these items but think of the dying
that cannot. Shame on this government."

And Shannon tweeted this to our #unkindestcut. "Unkindest cut has already
led to 10 percent layoff in my company science research report. I knew GOP
was anti-science. GOP is also anti-job."

Well, today, we bring you at way these cuts are rippling across the
country. This time it affects children, the well-known Head Start program,
the federal program that helps preschoolers from low-income families be
ready to start schools faces a $406 million cut, which would kick 70,000
kids out of the program.

And headlines across the country describe how local communities are already
being hurt by these cuts to Head Start funding.

Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Florida, has met with Head Start
families hurt by sequester cuts and wants hurt by the sequester cuts and
wants children to get the same attention as travel delays have gotten.

Ron Herndon is chairman of the National Head Start Association.

Congresswoman, you first, tell me about what you have covered with
constituents and what the sequester cuts have done to those kids in the
pre-K stages of life.

REP. KATHY CASTOR (D), FLORIDA: Yes, 70,000 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds
across America will lose access to the preschool Head Start classroom.
Now, Head Start is intended for students who don`t have every advantage in
life, to ensure that they are ready for elementary school.

It`s also important because it insures that their parents are ready to
work. Seventy thousand students across America, 2,000 in the state of
Florida alone because the Republicans refuse to replace the sequester or
sit down with us to negotiate a balanced plan.

MATTHEWS: You know, Mr. Herndon, I remember, my memory is pretty good for
politics. I remember Barbara Bush of the Bush family was very big on the
Head Start years ago.

It`s not a left wing program. It`s very respected and cherished because we
know it takes kids who normally would have a hard time in first grade
catching up. This gives a real and an equal chance at the starting gate.

RON HERNDON, NATIONAL HEAD START ASSOCIATION: Right. That`s absolutely
true. And probably one of the saddest parts of the cuts is that most
people are aware that it will mean 70,000 children will not be able to
participate in the Head Start. But that also means there are hundreds of
thousands of nutritious meals that won`t be served. Hundreds of thousands
of dental follow ups that won`t be made, hundreds of thousands of medical
follow ups that won`t be made, literally hundreds of thousands of home
visits to parents to help them prepare their children to do well in school
that won`t be made.

That`s probably the saddest part of all that we`ve snatched the rug out
from under 70,000 of the most vulnerable children and families in this
country.

MATTHEWS: And so, these kids will get -- they will miss a step or two at
the age 6 and then all through their school years, they`ll perhaps, in some
cases, catch up.

HERNDON: Well, not only that. There`s a great deal that Head Start has
been credited with lowering the childhood mortality rate in the entire
country because of the emphasis that we put on health care and dental care.

MATTHEWS: I got you.

HERNDON: It`s almost as if we discovered that salt (ph) vaccine, and guess
what, 70,000 of you all will not get the salt vaccine.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go into the halls of Congress, Congresswoman. Why don`t
you -- I mean, I`m not advising. I`m not a political consultant, I`m just
a talker. But I`ve always wondered -- why don`t you go to the floor right
now with a proposal like they did with the air traffic controllers or
whatever and say, how about an exception here and force people like Boehner
who is not a bad person to vote against it? Why don`t you jam it the way
the air traffic controller issue was raised?

CASTOR: Well, you know, we did that very think in the House Budget
Committee, with our chairman, Chris Van Hollen. We offered an amendment
just on Head Start to replace the sequester when it came to these 3-year-
olds and 4-year-olds --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CASTOR: -- the Republicans said no. They said no unanimously -- just like
they did when we were talking about cancer researchers and medical
innovation.

Chris, they are not interested in real debt reduction. They just want
these cuts. They want the sequester but they are going to have to live
with the fact that they are complicit in the dumbing down of America and
that 70,000 of our 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are not going to have a head
start in life.

I was with parents and students last week in Tampa. One mother said my --
before Head Start her 3-year-old could not speak. After six months in Head
Start, now that young boy can communicate. That means he`s going to have a
better chance at life.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Herndon, how are we going to make this? We`re going to get
through this thing? I mean, you see the cutting edge to this thing.
What`s going to happen if this goes on?

HERNDON: Well, families who are already vulnerable in this country are
going to suffer even more and in our program it means we close Head Start a
week, two weeks earlier. We`ll start two weeks later. That means that
speech therapy that should be available for the young child that the
congresswoman described will not occur.

And, again, the folks who are already suffering the most will be asked to
suffer even more needlessly. So we certainly do hope that members of
Congress can get together. We are aware. Head Start has received
bipartisan support in the past. We hope that commonsense will prevail and,
yes, most Head Start parents are not flying on airplanes but we do
certainly think their children should be given just as much consideration
as the folks who are standing in line.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Herndon, thank you so much for coming on. Ron Herndon of
the National Head Start Association chairman, and U.S. Congresswoman Kathy
Castor, who met down in Tampa, thank you for coming on both.

CASTOR: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We`re going to keep being squeaky wheel here on these programs
that are affecting real people.

By the way, tweet us at #unkindestcut. You can also join the conversation
on our Facebook page at facebook.com/hardball. And go to our Web site at
TV.MSNBC.com and click on HARDBALL.

And we`ll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.

Immigration, in the ideal world, people would apply to enter this country,
be admitted and then devote themselves to the effort of becoming
naturalized citizens. That would be a design for the future I think. Any
immigration bill passed by the Congress in the next months or years should
take us as close as reasonably possible to that ideal future.

Immigration should be -- future immigration should be legal immigration.
So, how do we get there?

One, we kill the lure of jobs for people here, who come to the country
illegally. Second, we do what we can to tighten the border and enforce the
law against those who sneak into the country. Third, we find the way for
people living here illegally to assume a greater American life, paying
taxes, participate in Social Security, learning English, we make it
possible for them to eventually become U.S. citizens.

Fourth, we find ways to workers into this country on a short-term basis, to
fill jobs that would otherwise go vacant. We shouldn`t let businesses
however decide who become as long-term resident. That`s the government`s
decision.

And this is my ideal immigration reform -- the passage of a system of laws
that we, the American people, are committed to enforcing. We shouldn`t
pass laws we don`t fully intend to enforce. It`s a stern but worthy test,
a test I`m going to insist on in every discussion here.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

Tonight`s lead: right wing horror show. A stunning offensive display from
the far right, a zombie --

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

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