July 2, 2013
Guests: Paul Henderson; Karen DeSoto
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Was it self-defense? And has the GOP kissed
off the Latino vote?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
In a minute, are Republicans ready to kiss off the Latino vote, just tell
them to take their vote and shove it? Are they? And does it now look like
Edward Snowden is truly man without a country, even one that`ll take him?
But "Let Me Start" tonight with the biggest trial in the country. This
case will come down to whether George Zimmerman believed he faced great
bodily harm or worse at the hands of Trayvon Martin. What did happen in
court today to show that was or was not the case?
NBC News correspondent Craig Melvin joins us now from Sanford, Florida.
Craig, thanks for joining us. This trial in just the last couple days has
had a lot of twists and turns, and I just wonder about the prosecution.
Their witnesses are not exactly going in the direction, I think, that they
hoped they would.
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know what, Chris? That`s the
point that`s been raised a lot today and a lot over the past few days.
Specifically, you know, Mark Osterman was one of the witnesses that the
state called today. Mark Osterman -- you know, he gets on the stand, and
within the first 90 seconds, we learn that he is George Zimmerman`s best
friend. He said at one point that, He`s the best friend I`ve ever had.
They`ve known each other for about five years.
He wrote a book defending George Zimmerman. His wife -- he and his wife
did an interview with Dr. Phil, at one point, and in the interview, Dr.
Phil -- in the interview with Dr. Phil, the wife said that George Zimmerman
deserved to get -- or excuse me, Trayvon Martin deserved to get shot.
The day began, Chris, with Judge Nelson ruling on chief investigator Chris
Serino`s testimony from yesterday. Chris Serino at one point yesterday --
of course toward the end of the testimony, Serino said that he essentially
believed George Zimmerman. That was the testimony yesterday. There was,
of course, an objection by the state.
Judge Nelson this morning told the jury that that was something that they
should essentially disregard, that he should not have been --
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that as a reporter? How do you disregard
something like that? I mean, I remember a great movie called "Anatomy of a
Murder," where the defense attorney in this case said, Don`t think of a
blue cow, knowing that there`s nothing else you can think of for the next
five minutes except a blue cow.
How do you strike it from your memory if you`re a juror sitting there?
MELVIN: Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, right? That`s a -- that`s
a -- that`s a very good question. And we should note here that the day
ended sort of -- sort of (INAUDIBLE) came down yesterday, with folks
waiting on another decision by Judge Nelson.
Tomorrow at 8:30, the attorneys are going to continue arguing over some
evidence that the state would like admitted, Chris, specifically some
course work on self-defense law, some course work on "stand your ground"
law that George Zimmerman may have taken, an application to become a police
officer with the Prince William County Police Department, not far from
where you are, Prince William County, Virginia, and also this application
that George Zimmerman submitted to participate in a ride-along with Sanford
Basically, the state is asserting -- the state -- part of their assertion
all along is that George Zimmerman was a wannabe cop, that he was a -- he
was a wannabe cop. And they also played that interview today, that Fox
interview where he was asked pointedly, Did you know anything about "stand
your ground" when you did this? And George Zimmerman said no. So now the
state is trying to introduce evidence that would speak to the contrary.
So Judge Nelson gave the attorneys some time to introduce some case law.
We expect that she may rule on that tomorrow. But we just -- we know at
this point that the attorneys are going to continue -- continue those
arguments at 8:30 before the jury is brought back in after (ph).
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s great reporting. Thanks, Craig Melvin. We`ll be
back to you again and again.
Joining me now is veteran prosecutor and former San Francisco assistant DA
Paul Henderson -- there he is -- and defense attorney Karen DeSoto -- both
Well, let`s take a look at some of the trial testimony before we get into
this general conversation. Let`s take a look at the conversation here.
Let`s go to -- they called Zimmerman`s friend, as we said, Mark Osterman,
to the stand. Osterman wrote a book, as has been said here, defending
Zimmerman called "Defending Our Friend, The Most Hated Man in America."
Well, Osterman described what Zimmerman told him happened at the crime
Let`s listen to the testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: What does Mr. Zimmerman, defendant, say
MARK OSTERMAN, FRIEND OF ZIMMERMAN: He said that because his jacket rode
up a bit, that with the -- perhaps, with the inside of his leg, he felt or
looked down and saw that he had a holster and a firearm.
DE LA RIONDA: OK. Before the defendant said that, did he say that he
desperately (ph) got both of my hands around the guy`s one wrist and took
his hand off my mouth long enough for me to shout again for help?
OSTERMAN: Right. He -- that was the main thing he did with his hands, was
to try to clear his mouth because with his mouth free, he could scream and
he could breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, later in the trial today, lead defense attorney Mark
O`Mara asked Osterman, that same witness, about George Zimmerman`s
recollection of events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Did that, however, as he
related it to you, seem to be significant as it was occurring to him, that
he couldn`t breathe for whatever length of time?
OSTERMAN: It was critical.
O`MARA: And that he had -- somebody had a hand, Trayvon Martin, on the
nose that had already suffered the previous injury.
O`MARA: And as he was relating that to you, was that sort of a -- a real
focus of his?
OSTERMAN: That was -- that was the focus, that when you -- when he was
losing oxygen, he felt he was not able to breathe, and that`s why he was
desperate to either (ph) clear an airway.
O`MARA: And in your experience as law enforcement, would you agree that
that`s sort of a natural reaction to traumatic events?
OSTERMAN: I would think so. Every time I`ve seen it.
O`MARA: And do people involved in traumatic events like that sometimes
focus on particular parts of it?
OSTERMAN: Almost exclusively, to the omission of others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Karen DeSoto. It seems to me -- talking
about Lisa Bloom last week, a pretty good defense attorney that -- what
this trial`s going to come down to, after all the other discussions,
relevant or not, as they go on deciding by the jury whether they`re
relevant or not -- we`re going to get down to a question of defense here,
which is it`s self-defense, that`s the defense, and whether the defendant
here in this case, George Zimmerman, believed at the time he made that
decision to draw and shoot his gun that he was in danger of gravest bodily
KAREN DESOTO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.
MATTHEWS: And now we`re getting to testimony, which doesn`t seem to be
challenged yet, that there was a fight, there was a physical brawl. He was
on a sidewalk. (INAUDIBLE) apparently agreed to that at some point. His
head was hitting the sidewalk. And then the question is how many times
does your head have to hit the sidewalk before you wonder if you`re going
to get -- if you`re going to get bodily -- grievous bodily harm or not.
MATTHEWS: I mean, is it -- are we -- are we there, or is that not -- is
that not stipulated at this point?
MATTHEWS: Are we that close to what`s a margin call here, what`s a
judgment call, or what?
DESOTO: Well, you know, there`s -- there`s one point. The self-defense is
by preponderance of the evidence, so it`s not a reasonable doubt standard,
so it`s a 50 -- it`s more probable than not. So if you`re at 51 percent
and the jury believes by 51 percent George Zimmerman`s version of the
story, then obviously, self-defense is going to win out here.
But yes, I mean, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a
Tootsie-Pop? How many bangs on the head does it take until you`re brain-
damaged? So that`s something -- a question of fact that the jury has to
But in determining that, you also have to remember that the standard is a
lot lower for the self-defense.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let me -- let me go to Paul Henderson. I want to
get the facts straight. I`m not watching the trial every minute. I got
another job to do here. It is called politics. And this is, of course, in
some a general sense, I guess, political, but -- because it`s about the
ethnic issue. Let`s face it, race is part of the way people look at this
And I`m wondering whether people are learning anything in this trial who
watch it incessantly. Do you have a sense that it`s a learning experience,
or is it just two sides looking at each other across the old racial divide
and saying, I see it my way, you see it your way, we ain`t changing?
PAUL HENDERSON, FMR. PROSECUTOR: You know, it`s funny you mention that
because I get calls almost every day from people that are watching this
trial, that are calling me and asking me questions. I have a little
brother that`s in law school that calls every time something happens and
wants to know, like, Why is this happening?
But I think the real effect of what`s going on in this case is still being
seen outside of that courtroom, where we just saw just last week the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights is opening up an investigation to evaluate the
"stand your ground" laws. And so I think --
MATTHEWS: Yes, but they`re not evoking that here. That`s not the defense.
It`s common law self-defense, I believe, that`s at issue here.
HENDERSON: You`re absolutely correct, but I think this trial and the
discussions that are prompted because of this trial are causing people to
look at the "stand your ground" and evaluate what is the result of "stand
your ground," and is this trial one of the results from having that law on
The approach that government is looking at is whether or not there`s racial
bias. You know, "stand your ground" --
MATTHEWS: Well, sure. I mean, these are all relevant questions in our
society. But I want you first, and then let`s go over to Karen -- it seems
to me if the facts are here -- and I agree they`re not stipulated, but if a
guy`s on the ground and somebody`s pounding his head into the cement, he
doesn`t really have a choice about whether to stand his ground or not, at
Certainly, before the scuffle or the altercation (INAUDIBLE) this fight
began, he had the choice of getting back into the court as fast as he could
maybe and getting the hell out of there if he saw this guy as a threat to
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to that question, though. Is it going to be
"stand your ground" in reality when it comes to that jury decision?
HENDERSON: No. The issue -- oh, I`m sorry. The issue in that courtroom
is going to be whether or not he used too much force in retaliating and
using self-defense because we`re looking and we`re hearing this evidence
about what his injuries were, that they were de minimus, that they weren`t
that significant. And so he`s going to --
MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re hearing that.
HENDERSON: -- try and -- he`s going to try and pain a picture that his
life was in danger, and that`s exactly why he pulled the gun out and --
MATTHEWS: -- I can tell you, watching this and hearing people say,
Karen, he has a couple of lacerations on the back of his head. Now, the
word "laceration" just jumps at you! And then somebody says, Well, they
weren`t that serious, the lacerations.
MATTHEWS: And then you get back to what you just about the 50 percent, 51
MATTHEWS: You know, when it`s your head being smashed -- it`s like being
on an airplane.
MATTHEWS: You worry about that plane and turbulence, but when you look up
at the sky and see a plane, you never worry about the turbulence.
MATTHEWS: You`re not on that damn plane!
MATTHEWS: -- your head, you have a different view of things. Yes, what
MATTHEWS: So the question, if it`s a juror`s decision, how do they -- it
seems to me there`s so many cultural and value -- I mean, 450 years of
racial prejudice in this country and slavery and all the horrible things
and bad police behavior and all that bunched together, and you`re going to
try to get a verdict out of that, or you`re trying to get a verdict out of
the limited circumstances --
MATTHEWS: -- of two guys duking it out in the dark, you know?
DESOTO: Well, Chris --
MATTHEWS: And trying to figure out what that meant.
DESOTO: The racial angle, you know -- as a defense attorney, because the
emotions are running so high here, what I would do is argue the facts. And
at the end of the day, the prosecutor decided to charge second degree
murder, OK --
DESOTO: -- the unwillful -- unlawful killing of a human being --
MATTHEWS: Is that too high?
DESOTO: -- perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous and evidencing a
depraved mind. That is an extremely high standard. So you don`t even have
to get to the emotional of it.
MATTHEWS: Right. I think you`re right.
DESOTO: If you`re a defense attorney --
MATTHEWS: We`ll see.
DESOTO: -- you just argue the facts.
MATTHEWS: OK --
DESOTO: You can argue the standard. I mean, they chose not to go with
manslaughter. They went with the second degree --
MATTHEWS: I got to --
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. I agree with that. I got to give Paul one chance
here. Was manslaughter a smarter move here to get a conviction, or can
they still -- the jury still go for manslaughter if they decide second --
murder two is too high? Can they make that choice?
HENDERSON: I don`t think so. And to me, as I look at this trial and
through the lens of a prosecutor --
HENDERSON: -- and I`m hearing the evidence about how he approached
Trayvon and literally hunted him down with his gun --
HENDERSON: -- I think the facts and evidence are really going to support
those charges because I -- here`s the linchpin for me, like -- and I
haven`t seen this question asked, but I really want to know, like, with the
semiautomatic gun, At what point did you take the safety off and prepare to
shoot someone? Because if you were doing all of that -- or did this all
happen in the moment while you were being smothered and your head was being
HENDERSON: -- with the de minimus injuries --
HENDERSON: -- because all of this reflects to me, in the grand total of
the evidence that I`m hearing, that this may not have been an accident.
This may not have just been a self-defense situation. This may have been a
little bit more than that and that Zimmerman acted inappropriately and
could be found guilty in this case.
MATTHEWS: Right. You still have to prove it. Anyway, thank you.
DESOTO: I have to --
MATTHEWS: We got to go. Paul, we`ll be back. Please come back. I can`t
just (INAUDIBLE) about great attorneys here, OK? Thank you, Paul
Henderson. Thank you, Karen DeSoto.
DESOTO: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Why many in the GOP decided they don`t need Latinos
at all politically, an emerging Republican view that "lean (ph) on the
base" is the right policy, pump up the angry white voter by opposing
immigration altogether, illegal immigration, and moving the party even
further to the right. Is that a smart move politically down the road?
Also -- certainly for presidential politics, you have to wonder.
Also, Edward Snowden is living a real life version of Tom Hanks`s movie --
remember that? -- "The Terminal." It`s not a big movie maybe, but this is
a big story. No country seems to want this guy. He`s stuck at the Moscow
airport, a rebel without a country. And how`s that Russian airport food
getting to him?
And Bush and Obama get together over in East Africa, not just W. and Barack
but also Laura and Michelle. Great stuff today from the two first ladies.
And it turns out, by the way, that Mitt Romney lost two elections recently,
the one for the White House, of course, and now we learn from a
distinguished reporter when his family voted overwhelmingly against his
candidacy before the election, the vote was 2 to 10 -- he was on the 2 side
-- - from running. So he was way outvoted. Actually, he was voting
against it, too. What`s going on here?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve got an early look at how the Latino voters view the
2016 presidential race. Let`s look at the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
Florida senator Marco Rubio is the favorite among Republican Latino voters.
According to a Latino Decisions poll, Rubio more than doubles the second
and third place finishers, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. Among Democrats,
Hillary Clinton is the runaway favorite, with 65 percent of the vote there,
Latino vote. And here`s how the general election match-up shapes up.
Latinos prefer Hillary Clinton over Mark Rubio, but look at this, 66 to 28,
And we`ll be right back with a look at how Republicans are changing their
minds about even trying to get Latino voters.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Love them or leave them. Well,
that`s the choice facing the Republican Party these days when it comes to
their divergent views on Hispanic voters. It`s a rift within the party now
that the immigration debate has made deeper, wider and certainly louder.
On one side, you have Republican leaders like Senator Lindsey Graham who
warn of things like demographic death spirals if the party doesn`t turn
around its image with Hispanics. Strategist Karl Rove echoed 6those same
concerns in a recent op-ed called "More white votes won`t save the GOP."
Well, that`s putting it bluntly.
But there`s also a growing and highly vocal voice in the party that says
forget Latinos and focus on the base. In other words, translation there,
focus on whites. They argue there are plenty of missing white votes to
drown out the demographics -- in other words, hard-right voters who didn`t
vote last time who will desert you completely if you get too pro-illegal
immigration, or for legalization of people who came here illegally.
Well, this is FOX News`s Brit Hume voicing those very arguments yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, FOX SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This trope that you`re hearing
that says if the Republicans don`t get -- don`t -- don`t go for immigration
reform, much as the Senate has done, they`re going to be -- they`ll never
win another presidential election.
Oh, baloney! There was -- if you look at statistics, you find there was
one significant block of voters who turned out in smaller numbers this time
in a major way, way below expectations, below even their `08 turnout, and
that was white voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So which argument`s going to prevail on the Republican side? We
know the Democrats are for immigration reform. But what does it mean, by
the way, for the debate itself and whether it`s going to pass because it`s
going to take both parties?
Joining us now are MSNBC political analysts, both of them, former RNC chair
Michael Steele and Jonathan Alter, who`s a Bloomberg columnist and author
of the great new book, "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies," which
tells the behind-the-scenes story of how Obama won 71 percent of the Latino
vote, among other political truths, I must say, many truths in your book,
which is packed with facts --
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a good
MATTHEWS: -- and I love anecdotal facts.
STEELE: It`s a very good book.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.
MATTHEWS: I like giant details.
ALTER: I tried to explain, you know, it wasn`t just an accident that he
got 71 percent. They ran a subterranean campaign, under the Anglo media
radar, with people like the Latina Oprah. Most Anglos have never heard of
MATTHEWS: You got me.
ALTER: She -- she -- Cristina Saralegui, huge host on Univision.
MATTHEWS: So, they ran up the score.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
ALTER: She cut ads with Michelle Obama.
And, Chris, here is the main point. If they hadn`t run up the score, if
they had gotten, say, 60 or 65 percent of the Latino vote, they still would
have won the election, but immigration reform would not be up right now at
all. The Republicans would not have gotten the message. There would have
been no mandate.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go with what we got.
ALTER: So, it`s all about the election.
MATTHEWS: Good work. Great reporting.
We had a more recent tally, the vote in the Senate last week.
MATTHEWS: Seventy percent of Republicans voted against it.
MATTHEWS: You had 14 votes out of 45 -- 46.
Here is the question now, what do they do looking forward? If you are
interested in presidential politics you have to consider that 80 percent of
the electorate now is Hispanic and it is going to grow over our lifetime to
maybe 20. Who knows.
STEELE: But they can`t wait for that. That`s the thing.
MATTHEWS: And if you`re a -- if you`re a -- if you`re a House members, on
the other hand, you say my district is 90-95 percent Anglo, to use a stupid
term meaning non-Hispanic. Why should I worry about it?
STEELE: Yes. And that is becoming the prevailing attitude for a lot of
folks who want to block and tackle on this issue to say, look, we are
looking at two million-plus whites who didn`t participate in the last
The assumption is that those whites would have voted for Mitt Romney or the
MATTHEWS: Or a more conservative Republican.
STEELE: More conservative.
And I don`t believe that that`s the case. They stayed home for a reason.
A lot of it had to do with the nominee and with the party as a whole. I
don`t think it was tied into an issue like immigration. It was much bigger
than that, about big government Republicanism, et cetera. And I think that
the party is making a big mistakes when it sits there and stares 50,000
Hispanics turning 18 years old every month in this country, looking at that
number and going, you know what? We still want to play the white card.
The fact of the matter is --
ALTER: The Republicans have two caucuses.
STEELE: The party has got to be bigger than that.
ALTER: They have the sensible caucus who are sensible on this issue and
they have the suicide caucus, the people who want to cut their own throats
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this, let me ask you this, let me ask you
MATTHEWS: I think politicians are rational. I don`t buy this theory that
we are all smarter than them because we don`t run for election here. I
don`t buy that theory we`re smarter than politicians. I never did.
You`re a politician, you`re a Republican, you have got a district that is
95 percent Anglo, or 90 percent white, if you will. And you go home to
them in the meetings you have to go to, the town meetings, and you face the
big question, why did you vote for immigration reform? That`s a good
question. And what is your answer if you`re a Republican?
ALTER: I think the answer is, you get the head of the local Chamber of
Congress right there with you, and you say immigrants provide a lot of
entrepreneurship in this country. They are good workers. What else are
going we do with the 11 million who are here? We have bolstered the
MATTHEWS: No, no, that`s not an issue with Republicans. They don`t care.
MATTHEWS: The big question a Republican audience wants to know, Mr., Ms.
Smith or whatever your name is, or Mrs. Smith, will this stop illegal
immigration, yes or no? And what will your answer be?
ALTER: Well, they could say yes, they could say yes because --
STEELE: And they could say yes.
MATTHEWS: You believe that?
MATTHEWS: You believe it will stop illegal -- you think it will stop
ALTER: Well, it is already -- there is already very little of it right
now, if you look at the statistics.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the economy.
STEELE: Well, that is the economy, but I think --
MATTHEWS: I think the Republicans don`t like illegal immigration. They
don`t like it.
STEELE: They don`t like it.
MATTHEWS: And they want to hear a bill that is going to work.
ALTER: Well, it will work.
STEELE: And they don`t like it.
And what they remember is what was promised in 1986 that didn`t happen
MATTHEWS: Of course it didn`t work. They were promised before.
STEELE: They were promised before.
MATTHEWS: It`s like "Peanuts."
STEELE: And they don`t want to go down that road again, which is why
they`re saying --
MATTHEWS: Charlie Brown on this.
STEELE: -- we want the lock on the fence to be secured before we give
you anything else.
MATTHEWS: And how long are they going to keep 30,000 guys on the border
down there? How many years --
ALTER: Well, as long as Republicans have anything to say about what goes
on in Washington.
MATTHEWS: And how long will -- in other words, you don`t want them to do
MATTHEWS: See, Democrats don`t really believe in border enforcement, do
ALTER: Look --
MATTHEWS: Do they?
ALTER: I don`t know about other Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Do Democrats care about border enforcement?
ALTER: I think the leadership understands.
MATTHEWS: Do they believe in border enforcement?
STEELE: A lot less than Republicans do.
ALTER: Less than Republicans, but enough --
MATTHEWS: Why don`t they believe in it? Why do they believe in illegal
immigration, the Democrats?
ALTER: Because, right now, it is not even that big of a problem.
MATTHEWS: Why do they believe in it?
ALTER: Well, I`m not going to defend their --
MATTHEWS: Yes, you are.
ALTER: No, I`m not.
MATTHEWS: You`re basically admitting -- do you think Republicans are -- do
you think Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party is concerned about illegal
MATTHEWS: You are covering.
MATTHEWS: Republicans in the House are facing very little pressure from
Hispanic voters. And here`s why. Studies by "The Cook Political Report,"
which is nonpartisan, and "The New York Times" found that -- quote --
"Thanks in part to their own quarantining efforts" -- that`s what
Republicans do to put Hispanics and African-Americans in the same districts
-- "only 24 out of 234 House Republicans are in districts where Latinos
make up more than 25 percent of and most of those 24 districts are in
deeply red parts of the country anyway. The share of the Latino vote is
between zero and 10 percent in 142 Republican districts," zero and 10
percent, 140, a majority of them.
And the average GOP district is 75 percent white compared to just 51
percent white in the Democratic -- put simply, as the country continues to
get more racially diverse, ethnically diverse, Republican district have
gotten proportionately whiter.
MATTHEWS: Jon Alter, I`m asking you why should they vote against their own
ALTER: Well, because they have to think about their party also.
MATTHEWS: They do?
ALTER: And they don`t want -- they shouldn`t become a remnant party the
way they are in Europe. They want to be a vibrant political --
MATTHEWS: So they should sacrifice themselves politically at home for a
ALTER: The basic point that Karl Rove made -- the basic point that Karl
Rove made -- which was an excellent point -- was that to win with white
votes, a Republican candidate in a presidential election would have to
carry the white vote by the same margin as Ronald --
MATTHEWS: But these guys are not running for president.
ALTER: Can I just finish the point?
The same margin as Ronald Reagan won when he carried 49 states. Which
nominee can get that kind of margin of white votes? None of them.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you both a question. Will a majority of House
Republicans vote for a pathway to legalization -- to full citizenship?
ALTER: No. But with Democratic votes, they would get a bill through.
MATTHEWS: Well, how are they going to get a vote?
ALTER: John Boehner has to walk his way back from the so-called Hastert
rule that says you have to have a majority of the majority.
MATTHEWS: OK. Did you hear from that Jon Alter --
MATTHEWS: -- John Boehner?
ALTER: He has to.
MATTHEWS: Get your act together.
MATTHEWS: Jon Alter says you have got to do this.
ALTER: Otherwise, they are slitting their throats long-term.
MATTHEWS: Well, then you do think it`s going to happen.
STEELE: -- play, Chris, longer term.
MATTHEWS: OK. I don`t think it`s going to happen.
Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele and thank you, Jonathan Alter.
Because I don`t believe they believe the Democrats want to stop illegal
immigration, so why should they join their team?
And don`t forget to check out the HARDBALL blog. There is much more on
this story, including a great piece by HARDBALL reporter Benjy Sarlin about
how the GOP stopped worrying about Latinos and learn to love their own
base. You can find it by going to our Web site at TV.MSNBC.com and
clicking on HARDBALL.
Up next, Mitt Romney didn`t just lose the race for the White House among
the electorate last November. His own family overwhelmingly voted against
his candidacy, including him, he says. Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Well, it turns out Mitt Romney`s track record of winning election is even
worse than we thought. In a yet-to-be-published book on the 2012 election,
"The Washington Post"`s Dan Balz reveals an interesting anecdote about the
Over the Christmas holiday in 2010, the Romneys took an internal family
vote on whether Mitt should run. According to The Huffington Post, which
saw an early copy of the book, the result was 10-2 that he should not.
Well, one of the family members voting against the run was Romney himself.
According to Balz, the author, Romney`s cold feet had to do with an
assessment of where the Republican Party was at the time -- quote --
"Winning as a moderate from Massachusetts who happened to be Mormon was
always to be difficult. A lot of the thinking on the part of my brothers
and dad was, I`m not sure I can win a primary giving those dynamics."
Well, Tagg Romney said, "Even up until the day before he made the
announcement, he was looking for excuses to get out of it," his father.
"If there had been someone who he, Romney, thought would have made a better
president than he, Romney, would gladly have stepped aside," according to
So, what changed Romney`s mind? Well, that`s the question. According to
Romney, he didn`t think his fellow Republican contenders were up for the
job -- quote -- "I didn`t think that any of them had a good chance of
defeating the president. And in some cases I thought that they lacked the
experience and perspective necessary to do what was essential to get the
country on track."
Well, of course Romney was overestimating his own ability at defeating the
president. Maybe he should have listened to the results of the Romney
Look, finally, during an appearance on Bravo`s "Watch What Happens Live"
with Andy Cohen here, Cher -- that`s Cher herself -- gave MSNBC a bit of an
enforcement. And that came as a surprise to someone else that happened to
be on the set. Take a look at the fun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still a big CNN and C-SPAN viewer?
CHER, MUSICIAN: Yes, but I also -- I`m also -- I split my time between
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he`s down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was Anderson Cooper hitting the deck there, appropriately.
Anyway, I wonder if they knew what was coming? Or they wouldn`t have asked
Up next, rebel without a country. Edward Snowden is stuck in the Moscow
airport still. And so far, no country says they want the guy.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
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That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden remains in a state of limbo, if you will, at the
Moscow airport. He stays there nine days after arriving from Hong Kong.
His hopes of transiting to another country where he would be granted asylum
from the U.S. prosecution seem to be closing by the hour, closing down, it
According to Snowden`s chief supporter, Julian Assange, and his
organization WikiLeaks, Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries.
How many law schools did this guy apply to? Twenty-one countries to get
out of there. However, his prospects are not looking so good. Brazil and
India both flat-out said no. Meanwhile, Ecuador, a fairly left-wing
government there, was reportedly trying to reach -- he was trying to reach
when he fled Hong Kong seems to be hedging now on its willingness to accept
Venezuela, another country on the left, was in Russia today, their leader
was there. And some reports suggested Snowden might fly out of the country
with him. But the president of Venezuela suggested to reporters that that
was unlikely to happen. And a host of other countries, including Spain,
Ireland, Austria, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and
Switzerland, have said Snowden would reach their soil -- would need to
reach their soil to file for asylum.
So, there`s a catch-22. That is something that seems unlikely. How is
going to he get there? Meanwhile, Russia made it clear there would be
preconditions for him to stay there in Russia.
David Corn is Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" magazine and
Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer "The Washington Post," a great
columnists. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Jonathan Alter, I want to start with you. It looks like Russia is not
mother Russia when it comes to this guy.
MATTHEWS: They have set a condition saying sure you can stay here but you
have to stop what you do for a living, which is going to war electronically
or digitally with the United States. No more leaks, no more nothing from
the soil of Russia. He has to neuterize himself as an agreement to stay
there, which seems to me he is basically turning out his own lights to
agree that he gets to survive personally.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Right.
Well, when Vladimir Putin, when Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday
said that, you know, in order to stay, Snowden would have to do this, it
was rather -- it was rather surprising, because Russia isn`t exactly and
Putin, they both aren`t exactly the United States` best friend.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, where did the love come from?
CAPEHART: I know.
And in most cases, they don`t even rise to the level of frenemy.
CAPEHART: Here you have poor -- poor -- you have Edward Snowden who is
there, leaving China basically from Hong Kong, which is China, going to
Moscow, which was supposed to be a transit point before heading off to
Venezuela and -- I`m sorry -- to Havana and then possibly Venezuela.
There he is stuck in this weird kind of limbo, as you said, for the last
nine days. And he is apparently carrying these four laptops. And it just
strains credulity to think that the Chinese in Hong Kong and the Russians
in Moscow have not availed themselves of the information on those laptops
that he has.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well --
MATTHEWS: Do you think they exploited the situation already?
CORN: I`m -- I would be shocked if any intelligence service in the world,
let alone the Russians and the Chinese, would not have tried to do whatever
they can to get access to what he has, because we still don`t know what he
We know that "The Washington Post" and "The Guardian" of England have
gotten a stash of documents from him. They have done a couple of stories,
but not all the stories they could, and then -- and they have each said
that they are -- some of the -- there are some secrets they have not
revealed, which are the type of secrets that --
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, do you blame -- do you believe his earlier claim? I
will just be neutral on this because I have a mixed feeling about this guy.
Do you think he did have the ability to out agents and station chiefs
around the world? He said he could do that. All our top spies in the
world, spies, he could out them right away.
CORN: If he did, it would show a kind of a breakdown in internal controls.
He would for the NSA. I mean, at one point, he did work for the CIA, a
couple years back. And it is kind of unclear exactly how he got into that
job and what he did under that job. But if he, working as an
infrastructure analyst in Hawaii -- and, also, it is unclear exactly what
he did. He might have been a much more --
MATTHEWS: I thought infrastructure analyst was a euphemism for a guy that
could hack into systems.
CORN: Well, it might be someone who was actually trying to hack into other
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
CORN: And so -- but if -- but if in that position, if he had access to CIA
spy -- officers around the world, that would be a real breakdown in -- you
know, in sort of internal security control.
MATTHEWS: By us.
CORN: By us. No doubt the Russians and Chinese and anyone else coming
into contact with him are going to want to see what`s on his computers.
And I assume in the last nine days, he`s gone to bed at some point --
MATTHEWS: If "Mother Jones" was a country, would you let him in?
CORN: Let him in.
MATTHEWS: If it was a country, would you let him in?
CORN: We`re not quite at that stage yet.
MATTHEWS: That`s a trick question. But I want to know your mindset.
Anyway, yesterday, WikiLeaks, who sponsors this guy, released a statement
on Snowden`s behalf. The leaker wrote in part, quote, "Now it is reported
that after promising not to do so, the president, that`s our president,
ordered his vice president to pressure the leaders of nations from which I
have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions. This deception from
a world leader is not justice and neither is the extralegal penalty of
exile. These are bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to
frighten not me but those who would come after me."
I`m not sure that`s so true because I think they are trying to get him.
But, Jonathan this whole question, I always ask this about people who do
extreme things, like Saddam Hussein, assuming he did have an option to
avoid a war with us. Gadhafi, you assume he had some options in his life,
ending up in storm sewers or -- what do you call them, spider holes or some
place that didn`t seem like a good plan B.
This guy seems to have had no plan B.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: What`s his plan B?
CAPEHART: Damned if I know, Chris.
Look, for him to say -- to accuse the United States of forcing him into
exile, remember, he said in the interviews with us and "The Guardian", that
after he did this, he left his family. He left his job. He left his life
in Hawaii three weeks before the stories hit.
He did this to himself. This is not the United States going after him
proactively. The United States is going after him because: one, he stole
secrets and, two, he stole national security secrets.
What did you expect the United States government to do?
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a question that -- I think he wanted -- I`m just
looking at hip glasses and the hip designer stuff and all, this guy wanted
to be something of a celebrity. He thought that was part of the package.
CORN: Sort of a hero.
MATTHEWS: Yes, sort of a hero.
CORN: He may think he is a hero or martyr for justifiable cause. I spoke
to somebody who`s been involved in getting the stories out and this person
describes saying that he believed, that Snowden believed it was a suicide
mission. At the end of the day, there was no way he would get away with
this. And in that way, have a life free --
MATTHEWS: How did he presume this?
CORN: How did who?
MATTHEWS: How do you come up with the suicide theory?
CORN: Someone who is involved in getting the stories out. It kind of
makes sense because, you know, at some point --
MATTHEWS: But it`s not a suicide. He is in the -- he is in limbo in
CORN: Not a suicide that you lose your life, but suicide -- physically.
But you lose basically any prospect of a future life living in happy,
secured way. I think he knew at the end of the day, Snowden probably knew,
that he was not going to get away with this. In the sense, he would end up
in jail, or under house arrest, or maybe in -- maybe at best, at best,
looking at Julian Assange --
MATTHEWS: Let me try a middle case. I hate to sound like a regular
establishment figure, but to some extent I am.
Jonathan, you know how the establishment works, you work in "The Post."
Why didn`t he go to a fairly left wing of Congress, he thought would be
sympathetic to getting that information, giving it to them, and giving them
48 hours to do something with it and if he didn`t do what he wanted then go
his route. He had an intermediate way to get this all accomplished, it
seems to me.
Look, a lot of people are comparing Edward Snowden to Daniel Ellsberg of
Pentagon papers fame. That`s what he did. He went to two members of
Congress in the Senate. When they didn`t move, he then gave the papers to
us at "The Washington Post."
CAPEHART: He went to "The New York Times" and I think 17 or 18 other
publications when the people who had the power to do something didn`t move.
And also like Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg went into hiding. But unlike
Snowden, Ellsberg went into hiding in the United States, in Boston, and
gave himself up at the Boston courthouse.
If ever Snowden wants to be, considered a hero, I guess considers himself,
he should have done it here.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I shouldn`t have said left wing, because I think that`s one
option because as we know, in our new 360 degree political universe, the
left and the right met.
He could have gone to Rand Paul, one of the real libertarians. Any way, it
is possible. There are a lot of other options beside ending up in Russia,
which sounds like our enemy rather than our friend, or anybody`s friend.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. It`s always great to have you.
Jonathan, thanks so much -- Jonathan Capehart of "The Post."
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next -- I do want to know where "Mother Jones" would put him
if they were a country.
Up -- Obama, by the way, and the Bush summit in America. This is kind of
fun. There is Michelle Obama, of course, and Laura Bush together in East
Africa. They went a long way to get together. But to get together they
And this is the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well -- that`s Egypt`s embattled president, Mohamed Morsi.
There he is, he`s taken the stage. He announced he is not stepping down
from power, despite millions of Egyptians who are on the streets right now
calling for his ouster.
Morsi`s defiance is setting up a confrontation now between the Islamic
brotherhood which he represents, the base of his support and Egyptians who
are angry over his part (ph) to introduce reforms two years after the
revolution removed his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, from power. Twenty-
three people have been killed in the clashes just since Sunday.
We`ll be right back. Look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: While people are sort of sorting through our
shoes and our hair, whether we cut it or not, you know --
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Whether we have bangs.
OBAMA: Whether we have bangs.
OBAMA: Who would have thought?
OBAMA: I didn`t call that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Of course, that was First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura
Bush joking about the attention given to Mrs. Obama`s bangs earlier this
year. Well, Mrs. Obama joined her predecessor over in Dar es Salaam --
that`s the capital of Tanzania -- on the last day of the Obama family`s
eight-day tour of Africa, which is ending, where she helped Mrs. Bush kick
off the African first lady summit hosted by the George W. Bush Institute,
which is meeting over there.
The two first ladies combined their star power to draw attention to
improving access to education, health services, and economic opportunity
for women and children across the continent of Africa.
Joining me now for a couple of minutes to talk about it MSNBC political
analyst Ron Reagan and Joan Walsh.
Joan, I think one of reasons, I`m just going to say this, one of the good
things about George W. Bush was PEPFAR.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: The strong effort that he made out of nowhere. I think Michael
Gerson pushed him to do this or maybe Laura did, the idea that the United
States really helping to wipe out AIDS in East Africa, really working on
WALSH: Hugely important. And also, this issue that these two women have
come together on, Chris, hugely important.
We see in the developing world that when we invest in women and girls,
those countries do better. The women wait longer to have children to get
married. They get education.
Their children are healthier. Their children get education. There is such
a multiplier effect. It`s so important.
So, to see these women come together around that specific issue and lend
their credibility to that issue is really heartening.
MATTHEWS: But it`s been my experience in my two years over there, Ron, the
women do the hardest work over there, not just the child bearing, the child
raising, they`re paying the tuition bills, all the work, making the beer
for their husbands. They do all the work.
And men once a year do the plowing. It`s not a bad deal if you`re a guy,
but the women deserve the credit, I think.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. This is a sort of
issue that doesn`t get a lot of play in the halls of Congress in
Washington, D.C. But as Joan was saying, it`s an enormously important
issue. These sorts of issues globally, if you empower women, the world
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the first lady`s role? I want to talk about
Joan, it has surprised me someone as outgoing in personality when you`re
lucky enough to meet her, I think I did it once, or every Christmas, I
guess, when we line up as reporters, to get our pictures taken with the
first family, you realize what a charmer besides everything else Michelle
Obama is, the first lady, and yet she has kept herself away from the hot
issues. Let`s face it.
WALSH: Well, I think her work on childhood obesity and neighborhood food
access is really important, Chris. I think she chose an issue. She was in
a "can`t win" situation, you know, and she really did decide to become the
mom in chief. But these issues could really transform low income
So I think they`re important. And I respect the role she`s played. I
think it`s a role she is comfortable in.
MATTHEWS: So women if they`re first lady don`t have to be hard charges
like Hillary Clinton went throughout and led the charge on health care.
WALSH: I think she is a hard charger in her own way, but I think she
probably -- everybody probably learned from the example of Hillary Clinton.
Everybody is going to have a different style.
MATTHEWS: What do you think there? You a mama who was first lady, Ron.
MATTHEWS: You got some home reality here.
REAGAN: You know, some people probably wouldn`t like to think so, but
Michelle Obama has been a very traditional first lady. She`s chosen an
issue, childhood obesity, which is right in the comfort zone for first
ladies, and still, still at that, you can remember Sarah Palin waving her
snicker doodles around and accusing her of being part of the totalitarian
nanny state for really wanting kids to eat their vegetables, for God`s
sake. You really can`t win sometimes.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think your mom and her were both very good, highly
educated women, professional women who know the workplace but also know
academia. There is Nancy Reagan, your mom. Your mom picked just say no,
the whole drug thing which isn`t going to go away, is a problem. Are you
proud of that?
REAGAN: No, that`s true. Again, a traditional sort of issue. Laura Bush
with education. Hillary Clinton, different. Eleanor Roosevelt, different.
Even to an extent, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter at the beginning of the Carter
administration tried to get in on cabinet meetings, tried to be a little
more active in policy. That didn`t fly too well either.
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at the former first ladies, and the one that
stands out because she will be the future, is Hillary Clinton there.
Joan, last question to you, what would be role of a first -- what would we
call them? First gentleman?
REAGAN: First gentleman.
WALSH: First gentleman, first spouse.
We might have to make it gender neutral for a while now that we`re going to
have women presidents, Chris.
You know, I think it would be different if it was Bill Clinton, I don`t
think it would be a quiet domestic role for sure. He would be an
interesting person to start that.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think he would limit himself to one issue.
Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh.
MATTHEWS: That was a joke.
And, of course, Ron Reagan. Thanks, buddy.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the life and career of William Gray.
He was elected U.S. congressman from Philadelphia, north Philadelphia, the
poorest area of the city. He had been a major local figure as pastor of
the Bright Hope Baptist Church out there on North Broad Street.
He was a man of good solid ambition, an African-American, he refused to
consign himself to local politics, but set out the win power across the
full expanse of Capitol Hill. He ran for chairman of the budget committee.
He won the position by winning the votes of white members from the South.
He won those votes by, among other things, campaigning for those members
among the black communities of their districts. He went on the road in
order to win power back in the Congress itself.
He knew how to forge the bonds, and he forged them. He knew where he was
needed, and he went there, because it`s the only way to become a leader.
I was a friend of Bill Gray. So was the speaker of the House whom I
served, Tip O`Neill. He let people know he was behind Bill when he made
his move to chair the Budget Committee. Well, the same drive and gumption
that won him that influential chairmanship would also win Bill Gray the
position of majority whip, make him the first African-American to gain a
position in the congressional leadership of either party.
After leaving the U.S. Congress, Gray went on the head up the United Negro
College Funding raising billions of dollars for that organization.
Bill died yesterday in London, watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament
with his son. He is survived by his equally impressive wife Andrea.
What a significant figure this man cut in his time. He showed that the one
way to rise is to seek to rise, that an essential to becoming a leader is
to ask people to make you theirs.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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