updated 5/31/2013 12:16:43 PM ET 2013-05-31T16:16:43

HARDBALL
May 30, 2013

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Lincoln Chafee, Marjorie Margolies, Wayne Slater

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Choose your weapons, scandals or jobs?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Politics is what you`re talking about.
If you`re talking about the national debt, bet on Republicans. Same with
crime. That`s another good issue for them. (INAUDIBLE) think Benghazi.
Better yet, think IRS. That`ll get you votes if you`re a Republican. Or
if nothing else is happening, you can say they`re coming to get your guns.

This is the conversation in this country right now. When they`re not
talking about the debt, we`re talking about Benghazi or the IRS or, here`s
the old standby, guns. They`re coming to get your guns. Going to take
them right away from you and keep you from getting them back. Never more
will you have a gun.

Now, if you`re President Obama or a fellow progressive, I`m thinking, why
on earth would you sit around and share in those conversations? How about
we talk about how bad we are or we`re not quite as bad as the right-wing
conservatives say we are? That`s a great way to spend your time, setting
up the right to take the next shot at you, sticking your chin out so they
can pound you just one more time.

I got an idea. Why isn`t the president, why aren`t progressive people
talking about something constructive, something that would be good for the
country, and at the same time, good politics? We`ve got a 7.5 percent
unemployment rate right now. And let`s be realistic, it`s not going to go
down a whole lot more over the next three years. If left alone, it might
even start rising again. That`s reality.

We`ve got practically zero percent interest rates out there. We`ve had a
huge drop in public sector employment over the past several years. So
everything is right to tackle the challenge of rebuilding this country.

You look at Germany, where I just was, and you see state-of-the-art bridges
and a super-modern rail system and a brand-new subway system in Berlin, and
you wonder, who won that war, anyway? Looks like they did.

You go to France, they`ve got the chunnel running right under the English
Channel. You`re on the continent in Europe in minutes. The French have
trains that go 300 miles an hour-plus, and you think you`re sitting still.
And we`ve got the buckboard called Amtrak.

What`s the matter with the Democrats? Why are they sitting on their duffs
while the country is just raring to go? I am. Aren`t you? Or could we
have just one more chat about Benghazi? You tell me.

Senator Sherrod Brown thinks like me. He`s a Democrat from Ohio. And
Harold Ford is an MSNBC political analyst and a former representative of
Tennessee.

Senator Brown, I don`t get it. I don`t get it. The reason the right is
winning these discussions is it`s the only discussion in town. (INAUDIBLE)
we going to talk about, Benghazi and the IRS this week? And that is why
they keep pounding, and the president plays defense.

Why is the Democratic Party not the jobs party? Why don`t they have a big
construction plan out there with pictures of what we`re going to build, so
we can -- how about this, catching up to Europe? Just catch up to old
Europe. How`s that for an idea?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Yes. It`s exactly right. I mean, I thing
we should be talking about infrastructure, we should talk about, you know,
comparing what we invest with what China`s now investing and what much of
Europe is now investing in infrastructure, talk about medical research,
talk about college affordability, talk about our China currency bill to
level the playing field with China trade, a populist, progressive economic
message and getting -- even though reporters always ask us about these,
quote, unquote "sandals," always turn the conversation to jobs and moving
forward. You`re exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congressman Ford on that. Your question -- your
thinking. You`re in the financial world. You`re in two worlds. You were
a congressman for years. Now you know the financial world. Put it
together.

I`ve talked to some very smart people who say with 2 percent interest
rates, we should be investing -- down the road, we`ll be able to pay it all
back because it`s not costing us much to do this stuff. We got a lot of
unemployed people out there. Why don`t we -- we got everything, and do
something and we got a declining number of people working for the public
sector.

It seems to me, given all the need and all the supply, we ought to be
putting it together.

HAROLD FORD, JR. (D), FMR. TN CONGRESSMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is
strange in so many ways. It`s good to see my friend, Sherrod.

I think as we talk about infrastructure, you not only talk about the things
we see, but we look at the broadband industry and the great strides and
great investments that industry has made in ensuring that small businesses
across the country can grow. We ought to give them some regulatory
certainty.

We look at even pipeline infrastructure. We ought to be investing across
the country in building things.

I can`t quite figure out why it is that my party at times can`t seem to
stay on this one message and one set of issues.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FORD: And it`s going to take a level of discipline, particularly in the
face of all the questions about these scandals. And I think there are
legitimate questions that need to be answered on a few fronts, but that
should not distract or dissuade anyone from talking about the number one
priority in the country, underemployment and unemployment amongst so many
Americans.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a point I want to raise right now. Let`s take a
look at this new poll that just came out, which got me thinking about this,
so much more important issue -- what`s the more important issue for
Americans, scandals, talking about the things we`re talking about -- it`s
Benghazi, IRS -- or the economy?

A new Quinnipiac poll just came out. It asked, "Which should be the higher
priority for the United States Congress, investigating the IRS" -- which
Darrell Issa does every minute -- "Benghazi and the AP subpoena issues, or
dealing with the economy and unemployment?"

Let`s take a look at the results by party. Among Republicans, 60 percent
say the economy is more important than talking about these so-called
scandals. Not surprising, the scandals were less of a priority for
Democrats. Nearly nine out of ten said it`s the economy we should be
talking about.

All told, the total across the board, both parties, 73 percent, Senator.
So three quarters of the country says we should be talking about jobs and
doing something.

My problem is not with the media and the president -- I`m sorry, with the
Republicans -- they`re doing what they ought to do, kick everybody in the
shins, you know, the Democrats. That`s what you do when you`re in
opposition.

Why hasn`t the president got a jobs bill, a big one that everybody knows
what it looks like, can draw pictures of it? Which bridges are we going to
build? What bridges (INAUDIBLE) fix? What fast rail are we going to do?
Which highways are we going to repair? Which highways are we going to
build?

I don`t have a picture of what this president wants to do. I don`t have
it.

BROWN: Yes, I think that`s a very legitimate point to make. You had said
earlier, Chris, that interest rates at all-time lows, sort of persistently
and insistently low, persistently low, and that`s why -- you know, that`s
why now is the chance.

And what Harold said about broadband`s right. It means investing in
community colleges. There`s a -- you think about this country, in the
`50s, `60s, `70s and `80s, we had infrastructure -- we were building
infrastructure the world had never seen before.

MATTHEWS: I know.

BROWN: And you look at the wealth in this country. It`s the building
trades jobs. I mean, I spend -- I spend time talking to laborers and sheet
metal workers and operating engineers and people that will build this
infrastructure, steel workers in Cleveland and Youngstown that are building
the steel for this infrastructure.

So it`s the jobs today, but it`s setting the foundation, obviously, for
economic growth. The reason we had...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, let me ask you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. I was just over in Berlin with my wife.
We took a vacation about -- months ago. And there in Berlin, which has
just been reunited, of course, since the `80s, and there it is, beautiful
civil engineering, bridges like you can`t believe, gorgeous. It`s very
functional. It`s like Frank Lloyd Wright. You can see exactly the
function of the girders. And then the rail system -- brand-new. You can
go up -- you can really move around Germany now, beautiful railroads,
beautiful subway systems.

They lost the war 50, 60 years ago. I don`t understand why we don`t do
that stuff anymore. And again, back to France, which we sort of make fun
of. The Republicans make fun of -- you know, "freedom fries" and all that
nonsense. They`ve got railroads that go 350 miles an hour, and you think
you`re sitting still.

And I don`t know why we`ve got -- I was on Amtrak the other day going to
New York. I thought I was on a buckboard in an old Roy Rogers movie. I
said, What kind of transportation is this thing?

FORD: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Harold, you go up...

FORD: Chris, think about...

MATTHEWS: ... and down (INAUDIBLE) because you live on the -- you live --
you`re an East Coast guy now. I`m just telling you, it`s weird. And
people are going to wonder generations from now, why were you sitting on
your duff talking about Benghazi, you Democrats? You did control the
Senate. You had the White House in your hands. And you talk about this
twaddle.

FORD: I think the point you make about there needs to be a picture, a
vision...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FORD: ... from the White House, and for that matter, even Democrats, but
particularly the White House, about what a jobs bill, what a massive
investment in the country would look like. The president lays it out very
eloquently and I think well during his State of the Union addresses, but
there doesn`t seem to be the follow-up and the follow-through.

It`d be great if every Democrat in Congress and the state legislature,
every mayor, ever pundit, those of us who are out pounding the pavement was
(ph) to be able to put forward, Here`s what not only Democrats want but
what the country needs.

You touched on not only Amtrak, but can you imagine visitors to this great
nation arriving at JFK airport in a terminal that looks 40 to 50 to 60
years out of date? I know they`re making great strides here in New York at
JFK. But I have to tell you, having come back in out of the country two or
three times in the last month or two, off of business, it is remarkable to
me when you compare our airports to airports around the globe. The most
powerful, most dominant, most enterprising and dynamic nation...

MATTHEWS: I know.

FORD: ... on the face of the earth, how we treat visitors and how we treat
our own.

MATTHEWS: You`re great.

BROWN: And Chris, we...

MATTHEWS: What`s the better looking airport, Johannesburg airport or JFK?
JFK`s not even in the game. Johannesburg is a -- this is in South Africa,
a beautiful -- the country`s been through hell -- a beautiful airport.

You know, Pat Moynihan, one of my heroes, used to say -- and I`m sure
yours, too, Sherrod -- he said, We people in New York ought to arrive in
New York City at Penn Station like princes, not like rats. Every time you
arrive in New York at Penn Station, you cannot believe you`re in the
greatest city in world. You cannot believe it.

We got beautiful skyscrapers and stuff, but the train system, the subway
system, especially the train system, is horrendous!

FORD: I would agree.

BROWN: We`ve, unfortunately, let in the last -- really, since the early
`80s, for 30 years now, we`ve let the Republicans win the debate on the
role of government...

MATTHEWS: I know.

BROWN: ... that government can`t go anything right. And look at what
government`s done, from everything from Medicare to Social Security to
cleaning up Lake Erie, about a half a mile from here, to what we`ve done
with food safety, what we`ve done with higher education and medical
research.

We don`t trumpet those successes enough. And when they win that debate, it
makes it a lot harder to invest the way that we should in infrastructure,
medical research, community colleges, all of the things that made our
country great and still make our country great when we do the right
investment.

MATTHEWS: But why isn`t the big construction unions, the unions that build
stuff, as well as the public service employees and the teachers, why aren`t
they got their big equipment down circling the Capitol building right now,
demanding action?

You know, when you really want something like the Civil Rights people did,
they got action. They did something, and they got something for it, Martin
Luther King and everything else. And we lived through that. And they got
something done.

I don`t see any demand from labor to get something done from you guys, and
I don`t see demand on this president. I don`t understand why they`re not
out there blowing their horns with their tracks -- their trucks and
everything else saying, We want job jobs, but most important, we want to
build our America for the 21st century. We got a long way to go in this
century, and we`re going backwards.

Anyway, look at these numbers, by the way, gentlemen, a trio of
administration controversies, if you call them that, and a weak economic
message, no surprise that Obama is finally slipping in the polls now. His
approval rating has dropped to 45 percent, according to the Quinnipiac
poll, 49 disapprove of the job he`s doing. He`s lost 4 points since April,
those numbers were essentially the other way around back then. He used to
be relatively popular. Now he`s relatively unpopular, these numbers.

Take a look at his approval rating on the economy. It`s actually ticking
up because the unemployment rate is gradually coming down. A recent
"Washington Post"/ABC poll, 48 percent say they approve of the job he`s
doing on the economy, on jobs and the economy. That`s up 4 percent
compared to last month, when a majority said they disapproved of his
handling of the economy.

Now, a lot of this, Senator, is basically the macroeconomics, where there`s
something of a recovery going on right now. The housing thing seems to be
straightening itself out gradually. Home prices are going up. The Dow
seems to keep going up.

But the public sector -- what this president could be doing to goose this
economy much further into a really good time, and in that really good time,
he can get all kinds of things approved by the Congress, if times were
better. Let`s face it.

BROWN: Yes. No, that`s exactly right. I was in Cincinnati two days ago
and talking to a realtor who said he`s in the best situation in real estate
now in five years. In 2010, when we did the auto rescue, unemployment in
Ohio was over 10.5 percent. Now it`s around 7 percent. And that`s because
we finally see manufacturing job growth. We lost 5 million manufacturing
jobs in this country from 2000 to 2010. We`ve gained back 500,000.

The problem is the drag on the public sector, where job layoffs have
continued in education and health care because of this austerity. But when
we see private sector job growth, if we do the right investment in
infrastructure, in public sector, that`s when the economy builds the
foundation to really take off. And that`s where we fall short.

FORD: Chris, I`d also argue -- I know there may be some who disagree with
me in my party, but I wish the president would move right away also to
approve the Keystone pipeline.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FORD: I wish they`d make clear (ph) the...

MATTHEWS: Jobs.

FORD: ... that permits for natural gas exporting and allow more and more
of it. These are things that will create jobs, will create new tax revenue
in the states that are impacted by this, and obviously, create jobs all
around the country not only directly building the pipeline, but the
residual and the multiplier effect that will come from that, which again,
will create tax revenue, create new jobs and feed families all across this
country.

MATTHEWS: Yes. My dad -- your dad probably told you this, too, Harold --
the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And I don`t feel the squeaky wheel,
Senator. I don`t feel it either. I don`t feel labor and a lot of people,
Democrats, demanding this president do something big-time.

Immigration will do itself through. It`s not really a presidential issue.
This thing of jobs takes a certain kind of presidential leadership, I
think.

Anyway, Senator Sherrod Brown, I`m a great admirer of you.

FORD: Good to be with you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congressman Ford, thank you.

FORD: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

FORD: Sherrod, take care.

BROWN: Good being with you, buddy. Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, another round of letters laced with the deadly poison
ricin. This time, the threats were about gun safety. They don`t like it,
apparently, the guy sending the letters. The intended recipients were
President Obama and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. We`re going to get
the latest on that investigation coming up quickly now.

Plus, political courage. Rhode Island`s governor, Lincoln Chafee, switches
parties. He`s now a Democrat.

And former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, one of my favorites, is
mounting a comeback up in Pennsylvania. She`s going to represent the
district I grew up in.

And Ted Cruz calls the new generation of conservatives "the children of
Reagan." But would they even allow Reagan in their party right now? I`m
not sure Cruz isn`t well to the right of Reagan.

And Glenn Beck`s requiem to Michele Bachmann. That`s where it belongs, in
the "sideshow." Oh, boy.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it turns out expanded background checks for gun purchasers
aren`t just popular in the blue states. Check out this, the latest polling
from PPP. In Arkansas, 6 in 10 say they support expanded background
checks. In Tennessee, 67 percent -- that`s two thirds -- want stronger
background checks. In Georgia, GA, 71 percent support.

Well, the poll also found that voters aren`t happy with their senators who
voted against background checks. This is news.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, sadly, we`ve gotten another
example of this week of the dangers of public life, political life, and the
scary, extremist world that lurks out there under the surface.

Authorities are investigating three letters sent to President Obama, Mayor
Mike Bloomberg and Mark Glaze (ph). He`s director of Bloomberg`s group
Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He`s been a frequent presence on this show in
recent months.

All the letters contain the poison ricin and warn of more attacks to come.
The letters are identical, and authorities say they originate in the same
spot, Shreveport, Louisiana.

According to NBC News, they read as follows. Quote, "You will have to kill
me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone who wants to come to my
house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my
constitutional God-given right, and I will exercise that right until the
day I die. What`s in this letter is nothing compared to what I`ve got
planned for you."

Well, neither the letters to Bloomberg nor to the president ever made it to
their targets. They were intercepted at off-site facilities. Glaze did
open his letter but was not hurt.

Well, yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: No, I`m not angry. There are
people who, I would argue, do things that may be irrational, do things that
are wrong. But it`s a very complex world out there, and we just have to
deal with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. We get more now on the investigation from WNBC
investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst. Jonathan, thank you. Where`s this
stand? Any more leads about where this source is in Shreveport?

JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC: No. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the NYPD
and the Secret Service now all in a full-court press, trying to find out
who sent these letters, very difficult. There`s no signature other than
the postmark, where it came from and the time it was sent, May 20th.

So they are hoping that maybe there`s some DNA or a fingerprint on some of
these letters that may provide them with a lead. But right now, they`re
working very hard, trying to find who sent these letters.

MATTHEWS: My sort of way that I keep my mind at ease when these things
happen in my little world is people that make threats probably don`t do it.
People that do it aren`t going to threaten you ahead of time. They`re not
going to give you a heads-up. Truly dangerous people attack, they don`t
scare.

What do you make of this in terms of the psychology of someone who would
send a letter like this? Is it to hurt people, to scare them? What?

DIENST: Well, law enforcement officials we spoke with are treating this
very seriously. They think it`s a lone nut who sent these letters. But
look, the tests have come in preliminarily positive for ricin, and that if
this person knew what they were doing and knew how to vaporize it or make
it, you know, dangerous, if inhaled or ingested, it could be lethal.

So it`s not something to mess around with, so law enforcement treating it
very seriously. But, look, we see letters like this often with fake powder
jobs all the time. What makes this one a little bit different is it tested
positive. Again, the significance or the seriousness of the materials
inside, unclear if he was able to make it at that dangerous fine level, but
they`re treating this very seriously until the lab results come back either
way. And they`re going to do whatever they can to try to track this guy
down.

MATTHEWS: I try to remind myself when we have what you call a nut -- and I
think that isn`t that bad a description -- but this is a country of about
350 million people.

And there`s the luck of the draw in terms of mental and emotional stable.
Of course, we know all that. And political attitudes may play a role a bit
in triggering this kind of emotional instability and danger. But my
question is, are -- have there been a lot of these? Have there been
innumerable or 20 or 30 of these aimed at people who are for gun safety?

DIENST: Well, the way it`s been explained to me is that the mayor of the
city of New York, for example, receives about a dozen significant threats a
year. That`s one a month.

MATTHEWS: OK.

DIENST: Not always do they contain some sort of substance. It could be a
telephone threat. And often it`s a lone individual. And the police and
FBI run out and they try to track these individuals down. Sometimes, they
make arrests. Sometimes, these individuals are never found.

Similar threats, we`re told, have been made against the police commissioner
and other public officials in this region. So, look, they treat it very
seriously. They try to track these guys town. And, in this case, look, we
had numerous other powder jobs in this city just today at political
candidates` offices.

One was sent to the EPA. Those turned out to be harmless substances. But
we see this all the time in New York, these types of hoaxes and threats
and, in this case, something that was more than a hoax, something that had
some dangerous substances inside, it appears. And, look, that guy is still
out there.

And they`re concerned that he could be trying to send more of these
materials out there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DIENST: And he also makes the threat in writing that he`s armed and he`s
ready to do something. So they need to try to track him down.

MATTHEWS: OK. And it`s a crime. Obviously, it`s a felony, what he`s
doing.

Thank you so much, Jonathan Dienst of WNBC in New York.

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg said the threats wouldn`t deter him from
pursuing gun safety measures. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The letter obviously referred to
our anti-gun efforts, but there`s 12,000 people that are going to get
killed this year with guns, and 19,000 that are going to commit suicide
with guns. And we`re not going to walk away from those efforts.

And I know I speak for all of the close to 1,000 mayors in the mayors`
coalition against guns. This is a scourge on the country that we just have
to make sure that we get under control and eliminate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is of course the mayor of
Baltimore and a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Madam Mayor, thanks so much for joining us.

How do you respond personally to this story?
rMD+BO_rMD-BO_
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: I know Mayor
Bloomberg. I know he`s not going to be intimidated.

And I think when we hear, as mayors, this -- this crazy attack, it just
makes us more committed to do the work that we need to do to reduce gun
violence and to deal be the issue of illegal guns in our country.

MATTHEWS: When you think about guns when you go to bed at night and you
worry, you`re a big city mayor and you worry about crime rates in your city
and other cities, what do you think of when you hear the word -- some -- a
lot of people that hear the guns, they think, oh, that`s a shotgun my uncle
had, and he gave it to me, and I use it every year once in a while to maybe
go shoot squirrels or whatever.

When you think of guns in a big city environment, what strikes you? What
do you think of?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: What strikes me is that we`re working very hard.

Over the last decade, Baltimore has become a much safer city. And we have
strengthened our gun laws with the help of the state legislature. But our
gun laws are only as good as our neighbors. Baltimore has taken -- last
year alone has taken more than 1,000 legal guns off the street.

This is Baltimore with one legal gun store. That means that these guns are
coming from someplace up and down the I-95 Corridor. So, we really need
federal help in order to tackle this problem. So that`s what I think
about, closing the loopholes, making it harder for the straw purchases to
take place so we can protect our communities. We can`t do it alone. We
need to have more federal intervention.

MATTHEWS: Well, I want you right now to do something, a little -- I`m
going to give you a free ad, I guess, an advertisement.

I want you to talk right now to the rural people who see things differently
than a big city person. What goes on in big cities that people living out
in the country don`t get about guns?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: That they`re ready available, because we have so many
loopholes, because illegal guns are running up and down the East Coast.

You know, children in our schools know where you can get an illegal gun.
That`s how readily available they are. We need to close the loopholes,
make it more difficult for people to get -- to get their hands on gun,
increase the penalties, and help to create safer cities.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it would be good to have a wider background check?
Or does it just make us feel better? I wonder, can we stop people who want
to get a gun who are mentally deranged? Can we stop people who are wife
beaters, to use an old expression, spousal abusers? Can we stop people who
have criminal records? Because criminal record people may well still be
criminal.

How do you stop them from getting a gun by simply saying you have to have a
background check if you go buy it at a store?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think people get hung up in -- with this notion that
there`s a silver bullet, for lack of a better phrase...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: ... that there`s this one thing that`s going to stop every
crime.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: But it`s not.

It is that combination or the layering of these things that will make it
more difficult for, you know, the one person that is, you know, deranged
and, you know, does not have any respect for human life to get their hands
on the guns. We need to slow down the pipeline, clog it up, slow it down,
make it more difficult for people who don`t mean well, for our communities
to get their hands on guns.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: So for people to say, if you expand the background checks,
that`s not going to make a difference, and only -- and that it only impacts
people who legally own guns, if we can make it more difficult to get these
guns on the street, we can slow down the ability and reduce the ability for
people who -- you know, that are acquiring these illegal guns to get them
and create safer communities.

MATTHEWS: Mayor, it`s great to have you on.

Madam Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, as we say, Baltimore.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Baltimore, hon.

MATTHEWS: Baltimore, Baltimore Colts in the old days.

Up next: reaction from the far-right fringe now that Michele Bachmann is
exiting stage right, I think.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

It`s been a mixed bag of reactions regarding Michele Bachmann`s decision
not to run for reelection. Glenn Beck, of all people, wasn`t pleased.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM")

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I find it sad and tragic. Here`s a
woman who has weathered much, really gone and gone the extra mile and
really just taken it, just taken it over and over and over again.

They have accused her of everything. They have never come up with anything
that has ever stuck to her. She is much more of a founder, and she looks
at the role in Washington different than those like John McCain. And so
those dirtbags remain, and Michele Bachmann now leaves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So let me get this straight. John McCain, war hero, is a
dirtbag, and there you are wearing a safari jacket. Nice work, Ramar.

Anyway, that was John McCain who called out Michele Bachmann for suggesting
Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, had ties to the Muslim
Brotherhood, without evidence at all. By the way, it turns out Bachmann
wasn`t digesting all those reactions at home in Minnesota. She is actually
with a congressional delegation in Russia.

Next, remember what Barbara Bush said recently when asked if she wanted
another Bush in the White House, specifically her son Jeb, in 2016?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: He`s by far the best qualified man, but,
no, I really don`t. There are a lot of great families, and it`s not just
four families or whatever. There are just -- there are other people out
there that are very qualified, and we have had enough Bushes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, at an event in Detroit yesterday, Jeb Bush was asked to
weigh in on his mother`s comment. It seems they`re not quite on the same
page.

Bush said -- quote -- "Life teaches you that you need to make decisions in
the right time, not too early, not too late."

And later: "What can I tell you? All I can say is, we all have our
mothers, right? And she is totally liberated, and God bless her."

Hmm. Pretty good work by Jeb there.

Finally, what do you do when you`re running for governor and the polls
aren`t looking good for you? Well, you go after the pollsters. A PPP poll
in Virginia`s gubernatorial race out yesterday showed Democrat Terry
McAuliffe, the Clinton ally, leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli 42 percent
to 37 percent. Well, PPP poll -- poll can lean Democratic.

So, in response, the Cuccinelli campaign blasted out this mock press
release about a fake poll -- quote -- "Ken Cuccinelli leads Terry McAuliffe
by 12 points in a Virginia statewide poll released today by the newly
formed polling firm Republican Republican Republican, RRR. Cuccinelli
campaign strategist Chris LaCivita formed RRR last week and has pledged to
only conduct surveys on behalf of Republicans."

Well, a Quinnipiac poll from earlier this month isn`t that different, of
course, from the PPP poll, McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli in that poll 43
percent to 38 percent. So, the PPP poll looks pretty sound. Isn`t it a
little early, by the way, to be going after the pollsters?

We will be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are following potentially a very strong storm that
could create a tornado just south of Oklahoma City.

You can see that area just to the south of Oklahoma City. It`s a town
called Purcell, Oklahoma. And it`s in that area where spotters on the
ground have been tracking a very large wall cloud. Now, I have been
keeping an eye on the local news stations that have been following this
storm out of Purcell, Oklahoma.

And they have been watching this cloud right here. They`re surprised that
a tornado warning hasn`t been issued because there were indications of some
rotation, but the rotation was slow. Either way, this is a powerful storm
that has produced wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour.

We have seen ping-pong-sized hail from this storm system. It`s moving east
at about 15 miles per hour. And it is in Purcell, Oklahoma, right now.
But we will keep an eye on this storm, as of right now, no official tornado
reported -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

If politics is a game of tough decisions, we have got two professionals
here for you tonight. Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island served his
state as a Republican senator from be -- before becoming an independent and
then running successfully for governor of Rhode Island. Today, he went to
City Hall to become a Democrat. And former Democratic Congresswoman, who`s
always a Democrat, Marjorie Margolies, represented the 13th District of
Pennsylvania for one term. She lost reelection after becoming became the
crucial vote in 1993 on Bill Clinton`s first budget. Now she teaches at
Penn and is the mother of Chelsea Clinton`s husband, Marc. Of course,
that`s important.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: She just announced she`s running for her old seat, which is good
news for everybody up there.

Welcome.

Let me start with Linc Chafee.

Governor, when did you -- is this really about the fact that Rhode Island
is a Democratic state, and if you want to represent the state, it`s better
to be a Democrat?

GOV. LINCOLN CHAFEE, I-RHODE ISLAND: Well, we heard earlier this week Bob
Dole said the Republican Party should be closed for repairs.

I left the Republican Party in 2007, and since then been an independent,
and was fortunate enough to have the people of Rhode Island elect me as the
first independent governor of Rhode Island. But I always wanted to find a
political home. And I`m very happy now to find the home of President Obama
and other like-minded Democrats. And I look forward to working with
Democratic governors like Governor Shumlin, Governor Malloy, Governor Brown
from California, Governor Beshear from Kentucky.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CHAFEE: So, I`m -- I`m very happy to have found a political home.

MATTHEWS: I know. But I want to talk about what`s changed in the party
you grew up in. Of course, your father is a great man, John Chafee. He
was governor up there -- I mean, United States senator, rather -- and I
have to add -- and governor as well.

My sense of this is that the people we grew up with, whether it`s Bill
Scranton of Pennsylvania, or Christie Todd Whitman, or Tom Ridge of
Pennsylvania, Hugh Scott, all the guys I grew up with, sort of moderate
Republicans, Clifford Case of New Jersey and Keating and Javits of New
York.

CHAFEE: How about Alan Simpson? How about Alan Simpson?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, where are they? What happened to the -- just talk about
the Northeast.

CHAFEE: Nancy Kassebaum from Kansas.

(CROSSTALK)

CHAFEE: Yes, it went across the country.

MATTHEWS: What happened to the Northeastern Republican Party? Why did it
disappear?

CHAFEE: Well, the shift occurred down to the south.

And my dad lost his leadership position to Senator Cochran from
Mississippi. And then the next year Senator Simpson from Wyoming was too
moderate and lost his leadership position to, I think, Senator Lott of
Mississippi.

MATTHEWS: Trent Lott. Trent Lott, yes.

CHAFEE: Yes. So the Southerners were taking over the party. And they
just had a different view of where the Republican Party should be, and as a
result, the Northeasterners and some of the other moderate Republicans
slowly were taken out of the party, either by elections or by choice.

MATTHEWS: So, Jefferson Davis didn`t win the war between the states, the
Civil War, if you will, but he did win the Republican Party. This is
weird.

CHAFEE: Yes, but -- yes, but now you see Senator Dole saying the party is
in trouble, some of the policies they have advanced in having lost the `08
election and now the `12 election.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CHAFEE: I know there`s a lot of introspection by the Republicans.

I`m just happy to have found a home, myself, with the Democrats. As I work
with the governors, all the governors in the NGA as an independent, I`m
happy now to join with those Democratic governors.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Yes, last question. As the Republican, you said you
switched because the Republicans went too right. If the Republican Party
comes back to the center right, back where it was, will you rejoin the
Republican Party? Would you rejoin it if I changed again?

CHAFEE: No, Chris, I thought long and hard about that. You don`t want to
be zigzagging around. I was wondering, is the party ever going to come
back to my way of thinking, the old traditional, all those you Javits and
everything that you mentioned, Ed Brooke and all those Northeasterners.
And I just made the decision, it`s not coming back.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Winston Churchill said -- Winston Churchill said anybody can
rat, it takes somebody special to re-rat. He went back and joined the
Tories after they changed.

Anyway, good luck with you in the Democratic Party.

CHAFEE: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to my hero, Marjorie Margolies, today because
she`s going back to the district where I think you`re going to represent
Somerton, northeast Philly. Tell me about why you`ve gotten away from it
all these years, raised a son who`s married perhaps the future daughter of
the future and past president of the United States, Chelsea Clinton.
You`re a popular professor at Penn. I know that`s the case.

Why would you want to go back into the mall?

MARJORIE MARGOLIES (D-PA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, I actually never
stopped. I did -- I served one term and was defeated. And then I started
to do the kind of work I had done in Congress in other places all around
the world, sometimes in pretty dangerous places.

But I just think that we women bring a different vision, a different view
to the table, period. We`re very underrepresented.

When I first went in `92, we doubled the number of women in Congress.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MARGOLIES: And what got done? Family and medical leave. The assault
weapons ban.

We got things done. We became critical -- and then Clinton`s budget. What
happened with Clinton`s budget? You know, the most dramatic job growth
since World War II. I think we can get things done.

I also think that people are really annoyed with members who won`t take
tough votes. Who go down there and really want to stay. And --

MATTHEWS: OK. So, I can tell by your political argument here that you`re
pushing the fact you`re a woman, which is certainly appropriate, especially
I understand you`re running against two men. Therefore, you could get the
women vote and a lot of the male vote and you can kill these two guys
because they`re splitting the sort of the anti-woman -- not the anti-woman,
but the non-woman vote.

This is obvious. You`re giving away your strategy here, aren`t you? Just
guessing.

MARGOLIES: Well, the demography of this district. No, but I do really
feel that way. I`ve worked with women all over the world, and sometimes in
places that are quite dangerous.

And we do sometimes approach things differently. And when I was there last
time, the women got together and crossed party lines. That`s what has to
happen down there all the time.

MATTHEWS: OK. Good luck over there with the cops and the firemen and the
66 Ward A and B. I think that`s in your district.

MARGOLIES: They`re great.

MATTHEWS: The 58th where I used to live and the 54th where all the
teachers are, and that old Bustleton area, down in Maternity BVM, that
area. I know that whole area.

MARGOLIES: I`m impressed.

MATTHEWS: Good luck. You know it. I grew up there.

MARGOLIES: And you can get your deer cut up down there.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, you`re great.

Governor Chafee, thank you. I know you`re a good, clean governor. I hope
you do well.

CHAFEE: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, Marjorie Margolies, for having the guts to go
back into the fight. Go back, well -- all you need is greatness.

MARGOLIES: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, Texas Governor Ted Cruz, there`s a piece of work,
plants his flag, whatever that flag is. He`s leading a new gang in the
town, the children of Reagan he`s calling himself.

Anyway, but would Ronald Reagan even fit in with this crowd? You know,
Reagan used to smile once in a while. Look at this guy. Don`t wait for
the smile. You`ll never see it.

Anyway, this is the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, NBC News has officially declined, by way, to attend
Attorney General Eric Holder`s off-the-record briefing on guidelines for
journalists in leak investigations. "The New York Times" and "The
Associated Press" also won`t be attending that scheduled briefing. There`s
been growing concern among journalists about the Justice Department`s
seizure of an "Associated Press" phone record list.

And earlier this week, President Obama announced that Holder would brief
news executives in an off-the-record briefing.

Anyway, we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last week, lightning rod Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and his band of Tea
Party merrymakers left John McCain dismayed on the Senate floor because of
their complete rejection of the process of governing. Cruz even said he
didn`t trust Democrats or Republicans in the Congress.

Well, last night, speaking of New York City fund-raiser, Cruz gave himself
and his intransigent Tea Party brethren an exulted lineage. He called
themselves "The Children of Reagan".

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We are seeing a new generation of leaders step
forward. You know, if you sit back and you list who are the brightest
stars in the Republican Party? Who are the most effective advocate for
free market principles? You come up with names like Marco Rubio, like Mike
Lee, like Rand Paul, like Pat Toomey, like Scott Walker.

(APPLAUSE)

Here`s what gives me so much optimism. If you look at this generation, I
refer to this new generation of leaders as the children of Reagan, because
we learned watching him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s doubtful Reagan could have governed with me of these
lawmakers that he identifies with. The new Republican generations have
been different I think.

Wayne Slater is senior political writer for "The Dallas Morning News"; and
Joan Walsh is, of course, an MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large
for "Salon".

Thank you both for joining us.

A couple of things I want to get into here. What is this 47 percent?

I think, Wayne and Joan, we both know in terms of the critical last couple
of weeks of the campaign last year, that was the killer for Romney. It
wasn`t that he just talked about it. We`re going to show it here. It`s
what he looked like and seemed. He did seem like a guy who was interested
mainly in the wealthier Americans, and helping them out economically and
not in tune with those that were not so wealthy.

This is November 2012, suggested a solution that actually contradicts the
positions of him and other Tea Partiers. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: The national narrative of the last election was that 47 percent of
Americans who were not currently paying income taxes, who were in some ways
dependent on government, we don`t have to worry about you. That`s what was
communicated in the last election. I`ve got to tell you, as a
conservative, I cannot think of an idea more opposite what we believe.

(APPLAUSE)

I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was kind of a dutiful set of applauses there, Joan.
Also, by the way, they did applaud Romney when they said they were against
the 47 percent. So, I`m not sure the big we throwing around represents the
thinking of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party is for less taxes, for people who make a lot of money
and makes perfect sense for people who they represent, less money from you
to the government.

But they`re not the party looking after educational programs or health
programs for poor people or any child development stuff. They don`t
support that stuff.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: No, they are not. And, you know, we have the donor
class there last night, Chris, and we have the donor class with Mitt Romney
when he made the 47 percent remarks. But the through line between Mitt
Romney and Ted Cruz is the policies.

You know, what is Ted Cruz going to do for the 47 percent? He`s going to
abolish the IRS. He`s going to abolish Obamacare. He`s going to eliminate
Dodd-Frank. So, he`s got policies that are really for the top 1 percent
but he`s trying to pan them off as though they are policies for the 47
percent, and it`s the entire Republican project right now of supposedly
remaking itself but it`s really all about just talking more nicely about
people that they don`t want to do anything to help in the first place.

It`s just a kinder, gentler kind of rhetoric but it`s the same -- it`s the
exact same policies.

MATTHEWS: Wayne, maybe it`s my religion but this guy reminds me of
Cromwell. This guy --

(LAUGHTER)

WAYNE SLATER, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ouch!

MATTHEWS: This guy, he`s got that look on his face. Occasionally, it goes
from frown to smirk, but you can hardly tell it when it happens. He`s
never any happiness factor.

It`s all indicting, indicting, indicting. He doesn`t like Republicans. He
doesn`t like John McCain. What did he call him, something terrible the
other day? He just keeps doing this.

Does he have friends? Allies?

SLATER: He has a few. And, again, this coterie of small, young Republican
Tea Party types in the Senate and governor of Wisconsin, this is, as he
framed -- this was a disciplined speech that he presented. This was a
surprisingly disciplined -- 30 minutes, no notes. He knew exactly what he
was going t say. His friends are this coterie of Tea Party action, he
frames it that way.

He frames this group as opposed to the septuagenarian John McCain. And
when said, as you said, I don`t trust the Democrats, I don`t trust the
Republicans, that might have been seen as a blunder inside the Beltway
among some people. That was a message that resonated among a whole lot of
people and not just the birthers, Birchers and secessionists.

He is talking for a number of people --

MATTHEWS: OK.

SLATER: -- whether progressives and moderates inside Washington think he
is or not.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me do what I like to do, find inconsistency. Joan, you
can start. It`s my greatest joy to find inconsistency.

People on the right, not just the birthers, went after Barack Obama because
he has an African name, and they figured to have some of that. So, a lot
of them said he`s born in Kenya, somehow weirdly he was over there, not in
Honolulu, but he`s over in Kenya. Some people on the right don`t even know
that Honolulu is part of the country.

And they made this notion up that since -- even though they all know his
mother, his white mother, if you will, was American, they say he`s not
really eligible to be president. Now, you have the exact same situation
with Cruz. His American mother had him up in Canada with her Cuban
husband, same exact situation.

If Barack Obama had been born in Kenya and they are saying he should run
for president, the very indicting thought that Obama is somehow an illegal
immigrant or whatever or something, with this guy fits the exact same
profile and they are talking them up for president.

How can they walk up on the street, how can they wake up in the morning
where it`s flagrant inconsistency?

WALSH: I don`t know. I really like -- I`d love to know what Donald Trump
thinks about this. Where are we going to get the money to litigate this?

But I also want -- I want to go back to something that Wayne said before.
I mean, I have -- this man is not the child of Ronald Reagan. He`s the
child of Joe McCarthy. He`s very comfortable with guilt by association,
with talking about the communist that were in the law school at Harvard.
He`s the child of Michele Bachmann.

Reagan was a deal maker. He was an ideologue but he was a deal maker and a
governor.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think Joe McCarthy was a little old for Michele Bachmann.

WALSH: I didn`t say it together. Don`t --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you. It`s having fun here. I`m going to have fun with
Cruz. I think he`s really something.

Wayne, it`s great to have your expertise. It`s a little scary that you say
you might catch on.

Joan --

SLATER: Remember, it`s not just Joe McCarthy. It`s Roy Cohn. He`s both
of them.

WALSH: Wow.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a sweetheart.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.

Senator Cruz suggests that the voters don`t know the difference between the
two major political parties. That he suggests is the reason they voted for
President Obama last November.

I tend to assume rationality on the part of voters. They vote for the
party that meets their concerns, the party with the best track record for
doing what they want done. Well, Senator Cruz suggests that the
Republicans should be the party of the 47 percent, the nearly half the
electorate who`s been misinformed, had they known what Mitt Romney stood
for, they would have lined up the vote for him. That`s what he`s arguing.

Well, this assumes the voter, not Mr. Romney, was the mistaken one, and
that Senator Cruz is going to disabuse of that grievous misunderstanding.
We`ll see. My sense is, based upon experience, that the voters --
especially voters in real need, have learned from their experience who was
on their side. Not always delivering but who`s on their side. And which
party is working the other side of the street.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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