updated 7/26/2013 10:18:33 AM ET 2013-07-26T14:18:33

HARDBALL
July 24, 2013

Guests: Annie Karni, Bill Thompson, John Feehery, Steve McMahon, Keli Goff, Kimberly Gutter


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: "New York Times" to Anthony Weiner, "Get out."

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. New York has two historic mayors in a
row now, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. They are not without
controversy, of course, but in the end, both stand today as public figures
of renown. They can travel the country and be treated with great applause
by broad audiences of the American people. And that`s a fact.

Anthony Weiner is known nationwide for one thing, that he sent pictures of
himself -- just himself -- across the country. Now he wants to bath in
public attention of another kind at the expense of New York`s dignity.

I think New York is back as a great city, surviving not just 9/11 but years
of high crime and low expectations. And I hope New York knows that it has
a lot going for it.

I think this race for mayor is going to come down to two people, Christine
Quinn and Bill Thompson. Quinn is a serious public servant who has
operated at the highest levels of New York City politics. She`s a
political heavyweight, as is Bill Thompson, who came so close last time,
spectacularly close, to beating the daunting Bloomberg himself.

Why would the city of New York want to drop in class now when it`s in the
middle of a winning streak? Who are these New Yorkers who would feel good
about themselves knowing they had something to do with making Weiner their
mayor? Is there something else this guy can do, something quieter where we
wouldn`t be talking about him? Oh, I forgot. That would defeat the whole
purpose of this guy.

I`m joined right now by MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman with the
HuffingtonPost and "New York Daily News" reporter Annie Karni. Thank you
both for joining us.

"The New York Times," as I said, has come out strongly in its lead
editorial against Anthony Weiner staying in the race. In its editorial
today, the paper wrote, quote, "The serially evasive Mr. Weiner -- or Mr.
Weiner -- should have his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of
the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for
mayor of New York City. Mr. Weiner says he is staying in the mayoral race.
To those who know his arrogance and have grown tired of his tawdry saga he
has dragged the city into, this is not surprising."

Howard, that`s pretty strong for the old -- the grey lady.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It
is strong, but I think it probably captures the sentiment of all but
whatever strong supporters Anthony Weiner has, which I think is a rapidly
diminishing number. And I think part of it is what you said, the dignity
of New York, the pride of New York, the desire for a world class figure.
That`s number one.

Number two, his -- he had told a narrative that this was all behind him,
that he had learned, that he had gone through therapy, that he was a better
man, a stronger man, and because of his pain, he would be a better
politician and a better leader.

Well, it turns out not only was he doing the selfies last summer, there are
reports that he was --

MATTHEWS: The what?

FINEMAN: Selfies. Selfies are pictures of yourself, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Oh.

FINEMAN: This is the age of the selfie.

MATTHEWS: I need you for this, Howard.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: This is the age of the selfie and --

MATTHEWS: And where would I be without you?

FINEMAN: It depends where you`re directing the selfie, also.

MATTHEWS: OK. Go ahead.

FINEMAN: But he was doing it as recently as March, according to some
reports --

MATTHEWS: Of this year.

FINEMAN: -- of this year. And the family saga here is what`s under
pressure, not only his evasiveness but the -- the sort of the dignity and
the pride of his wife, Huma, who was seen as standing by her man in a sort
of dignified way, at the press conference yesterday, came off as a figure
who was almost a sort of psychological -- either a psychological prisoner
of her husband or somebody who has some other motive than just standing by
her man. It diminished, I think --

MATTHEWS: Let`s -- let`s just cut to the chase on that. We`re going to
talk that more on the show with women guests. But it seems to me she`s
made such a life investment in this fellow. You know, you`re on the train.
You`re going to get off the train or stay on the train and go where it`s
going. I mean, it is a tough choice that --

FINEMAN: Well, it depends on -- it depends on --

MATTHEWS: From her point of view.

FINEMAN: Yes, but it depends on how honest he`d been with her in recent
months, as well. I mean, as "The Times" says, do you really want to spend
the mayoral race unpacking the relationship of these two?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And you have to ask questions about her that you might not have
asked a few days ago.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Annie Karni. And you know, I was looking at
"The New York Times." And I always say on this program, if you don`t watch
me, I don`t behave like a media critic. I just don`t think it`s, like,
right for a baseball player to make fun of another baseball player. It
doesn`t look good.

But I think "The Times" may have felt some investment in this guy because
they gave him that big puff piece, what was it, last summer, the big
magazine puff piece that he was all cured and he was wonderful. And they
were sort of rooting for him, I thought, in that piece. I know it was an
individually signed piece.

What`s your feeling about -- just start with "The New York Times" lead
editorial saying, Get out, no think it through, none of that. You`re
going, buddy.

ANNIE KARNI, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, the problem is, I think, that --
you know, Weiner said that, I -- you know, he knew stuff was going to come
out, and now it`s come out. The problem here is that the stuff that came
out yesterday happened after he resigned from Congress, as late as last
summer.

And this is another lie. And we don`t know what else will come out. If he
becomes the Democratic nominee, who knows what could come out further when
he runs against a Republican. I think that`s the concern here.

As for "The New York times" editorial, "The Daily News" had an editorial
also saying the same thing. And I don`t want to comment on an editorial,
but --

(CROSSTALK)

KARNI: -- he is not jumping out of race. He sent an e-mail to his
supporters today saying, "New York, I`m not going to quit you." I think
he`s going strong --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that from "Brokeback Mountain"? Why would he bring that
up? Anyway, doesn`t matter. Anything goes, I suppose.

Look, Anthony Weiner continued campaigning today. Here he is, defiantly
refusing to drop his mayoral bid. I didn`t know he used those phrase --
that particular phrase.

KARNI: He did use that phrase, yes.

MATTHEWS: Let`s watch. Wow. He knows his movies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY WEINER (D), FMR. CONGRESSMAN, NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I
have posited this whole campaign on a bet. And that is that at the end of
the day, citizens are more interested in the challenge they face in their
lives than anything that I have done embarrassing in my past. And you
know, I`m -- I`m fine. I`ve got an amazing wife and child upstairs. I
have a comfortable life. This is not about me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in a letter to supporters today, Weiner -- I guess to
contributors -- tried to cast himself as a David up against Goliaths.
Quote, "Now, with 47 days left until the primary, some powerful voices are
making it clear they still don`t want me to run. Well, yesterday`s news
has given them fresh fodder. I was clear that these relationships took
place over an extended period of time with more than one person. I regret
not saying explicitly when these exchanges happened, but the bottom line is
that the news today is about my past life."

This comes less than 24 hours after Weiner admitted in a press conference
his on-line activities continued well past his resignation in 2011. Let`s
watch him here. This is hard to follow, this dishonesty here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEINER: -- happened before my resignation. Some of them happened after.
But the fact is that that was also the time that my wife and I were working
through some things in our marriage.

QUESTION: When was the last?

WEINER: I can`t -- I can`t say exactly. Sometime last summer, I think.

QUESTION: Was it after you told "People" magazine, quote -- or your wife
told "People" magazine, It took a lot of work to get where we are today
(INAUDIBLE)

WEINER: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: No, I think he assumes everybody -- I know he`s bright. He`s
smart, obviously. He thinks everybody`s really stupid because what he said
at the time when he quit Congress and when he went through this public bath
of public knowledge, he said, basically, I`m not telling you when these
happened. But he didn`t tell us it wasn`t going to stop. And now he`s
looking back and acting as if, well, he was perfectly honest back then. He
never honestly said this is going to keep up.

KARNI: Yes, that`s --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Annie, you made the point. Howard first, then you.

FINEMAN: Yes, no, absolutely. And as I say, there are stories rattling
around that there are even more recent incidents than the one from last
summer. And it`s clear that he didn`t solve the problem. It`s clear that
he hasn`t solved his personal problem. It`s clear that he`s lied about it
continuously.

And it`s become an embarrassment that I don`t think he fully understands.
You know, sometimes, smart people are the dumbest when it comes to
themselves. And I think that`s true in his case. And I think whatever
hope he had of getting old-line senior liberal Jewish Democrats, i.e.
grandmas out there, whatever shred of hope he had of getting them, he just
lost.

KARNI: I don`t know if that`s completely true. I think that Huma speaking
on his behalf and standing at his side yesterday means a lot to people. I
talked to people today just in passing who said that that would be a reason
they would still consider him.

So I mean, this is a huge setback for his campaign, no doubt. But I think
that Huma is carrying this thing, and her forgiveness of him and her coming
out there is something that are making voters think twice about him, I
think, still.

MATTHEWS: What do they look -- one last question quickly. Do they see her
as exonerated here, or is she an enabler? How are people looking at this?
Is she just a Stepford wife going along with her man, standing by her man,
or is she part of this political movement here to get him in the mayor`s
chair at all costs? Which is it?

KARNI: She -- she -- I think she`s a political powerhouse, I think. One
thing, she didn`t do the "stand by your man" woman, wife things. She
spoke. That was different. And she`s been his biggest bundler, brought in
$150,000 to his campaign.

MATTHEWS: Right.

KARNI: She`s the powerhouse in this thing. She is making this happen.

MATTHEWS: I hope we don`t underestimate her role here.

WEINER: She`s going to become the story, and that`s not necessarily a good
thing for him.

MATTHEWS: OK. People are getting very scrutinizing now in looking at all
these cases now, when you look at the spouse and how they behave. Anyway,
please keep coming back, and keep reporting there, Annie Karni. Thanks for
joining us, from "The Daily News." And thanks for telling us about "The
Daily News" editorial, even though you don`t have to agree with it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you. You made that clear.

Anyway, the Quinnipiac (ph) poll coming out today and conducted -- was
conducted before these allegations really got out there and before Weiner
surfaced with his problem. It shows Weiner leading the field still in a
tight race, as of yesterday, in the field, with 26 percent of the likely
Democratic voters. New York City council speaker Christine Quinn, who`s
been on this program, is behind him there in that poll by 4 points. She`s
at 22. City controller Bill Thompson is close behind those two at 20.

So they`re all roughly in the pack there. By the way, all eyes now will be
on the new Marist poll coming out tomorrow, which will show where Weiner
stands since the new allegation came to light.

Meanwhile, here`s Weiner today discussing his opponents. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEINER: There have been people since the moment I got in this race who
doesn`t want me to run. There have been people who didn`t want me to run
at the very beginning, you know? But a lot of people have been crying out
for someone to talk about issues important to the middle class. And a lot
of the same people who weren`t crazy about me running in the first place
now want me to get out, including my opponents, who I`m sure didn`t want me
in the race in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, one of his opponents is Bill Thompson. Thank you, Bill,
for joining us. It`s great to have you on. I was rooting for you last
time, even though I respect Bloomberg. I think you`re a good guy. I tried
to get my kid to vote for you, I`m not sure if he did or not, up there in
New York.

BILL THOMPSON (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I hope so.

MATTHEWS: But let me ask you about this race. Can you talk about Weiner`s
problem that seems to have continued after he decided to run for the
mayoralty of New York? He still kept doing this, apparently, up to as
recently as whenever. Is this guy -- do you believe his problems are
behind him, yes or no?

THOMPSON: You know, it`s not a question of do I believe that his -- are
his problems are behind him or not. This election, this race for mayor is
about the future of New York City, and Anthony has made it about him. I
think that, you know, the people of New York City want to have a discussion
about --

MATTHEWS: OK, is there room for his problems in the future of New York?

THOMPSON: It`s a distraction.

MATTHEWS: Is there -- can they coincide?

THOMPSON: He`s become a distraction right now. I think the consensus is
Anthony needs to get out, and I would agree with that.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this. What do you think he did wrong
that justifies "The Times," you and "The Daily News" saying he should get
out? Is it his dishonesty? Is it his strange proclivity? What is it that
you have to focus on? You`ll be asked this by other people. What makes
him a non-player for New York`s future?

THOMPSON: You know, this winds up being a question of leadership. This
winds up being a question of judgment. And I think, in the long run,
that`s what the people of New York City care about.

They want a leader that they can follow who puts ideas forward that they
can -- you know, and at least will help lead New York City to higher
heights. They want to have somebody who will stand up, and you know, that
they can trust in, somebody who leads New York City, who can talk about the
issues, not about themselves. I think that becomes the problem.

MATTHEWS: OK, I want to hold you on that word "judgment." You mean you
sit down and you decide, Should I put out -- tweet pictures to myself naked
or not? What do you judge -- do you have to judge that? That`s like a --
it`s a quiz for yourself? I mean, what are we talking about "judgment"
here? Tell me yes or no, does this guy have a problem?

THOMPSON: It has become clear that there are -- that he has many problems.
And I think that in the end, this is about -- this is about judgment. This
is about leading New York City. This isn`t a game. And it`s not about
oneself. This is about the people of the city of New York.

Anthony has made it about himself. It isn`t. It`s about New York City and
its voters and the people who live in New York City who care about
education and jobs and housing. That`s what it`s about.

MATTHEWS: OK. Hope we have you back later on in the race. It`s an
important race. I love New York. We work up there a lot. All my people -
- all the people that work with me work in New York. So we want this to be
a good mayor with the best man -- best person winning it. Could be you, it
could be Christine. Thanks for coming in.

THOMPSON: Ask your son to vote for me again. Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think you did a good run last time, and I thought it was
a courageous run against the unbeatable Mike Bloomberg.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, coming up, the good wife. What is Huma Abedin -- we`re
just talking about -- what`s she thinking? Is she forgiving? Is she
ambitious? Or is she simply -- and this is very understandable -- simply
now in survival mode? I think that`s the answer.

Plus, President Obama basically declared war on a Republican Congress today
that has decided it will do whatever it can to destroy him and his
presidency. He`s positioning himself as the leader who wants to kick the
economy into high gear and make government work. It`s going to be a hell
of a fight from here until the end of his term.

And U.S. Congressman Steve King isn`t making life any better. He may have
just set a new standard or a low standard for offensive speech. His
comments about illegal immigrants in this country are exactly the reason
why some in the Republican Party want to get past this fight over
immigration reform.

Finally, during Anthony Weiner`s news conference, did you notice the fellow
in the cubicle behind him? How could you miss him? He`s become an
Internet star. There his head is! And today he came out of the cubicle.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Caroline Kennedy will soon be headed to Tokyo. The White House
announced today that President Obama will nominate the daughter of the
former president to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Caroline Kennedy was an early supporter of Obama`s, of course, along with
her uncle, the late senator Ted Kennedy, when they passed the torch and
endorsed the Illinois senator at a campaign event right across the street
from here back in January of 2008.

Kennedy had briefly considered running for the United States Senate in New
York before taking herself out of consideration.

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, from Hillary Clinton to Wendy Vitter to Silda Spitzer,
wives of politicians who screw up, if you will, always fascinate the
public. What are they really thinking inside that head? Why do they stand
by their husbands, who clearly go out to embarrass them. Ever since Weiner
admitted to sending those sext messages and photos to women on line, some
of whom he apparently didn`t even know -- his wife, Huma Abedin, has faced
similar questions, obviously.

Abedin, a very close confidante and respected public official working with
Hillary Clinton all these years, says she`s forgiven her husband and
strongly backs his candidacy for mayor. Well, that`s for sure.

Yesterday, after the allegations, the new ones, surfaced, she again stood
by her husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUMA ABEDIN, WIFE OF ANTHONY WEINER: Anthony`s made some horrible mistakes
both before he resigned from Congress and after. But I do very strongly
believe that that is between us and our marriage. We discussed all of this
before Anthony decided to run for mayor. So really, what I want to say is,
I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him. And as we have said
from the beginning, we are moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in an article in the September issue of "Harper`s Bazaar,"
Abedin writes, quote, "So why am I doing this? Because Anthony has always
been a smart, caring and dedicated person. And while he is the same public
servant who wants what`s best for the people he represents, he is now
something else, a better man."

Well, she talked about him changing. "New Yorkers will have to decide for
themselves whether or not to give him a second chance. I had to make that
same decision for myself, for my son and our family, and I know in my heart
that I made the right one."

Well, Kimberly Cutter (ph) is editor-in-chief of "Harper`s Bazaar" and
Kelly Goff is a special correspondent for TheRoot.

Well, let me get you both on the record here. And I don`t have a judgment.
This is one time where I`m watching, not deciding yet. But I do think that
men, maybe women, too, make this gut judgment, well, it`s all about loyalty
and love, it`s not about self-direction and independent thinking and
independent judgment and independent sort of direction setting in a public
matter like running for mayor of New York.

Where do you put it, Kelly? Where do you this judgment? Is it judgment,
love, ambition, self-protection, survival? Where do you put it?

KELLY GOFF, THEROOT.COM: Can I choose D, all of the above?

MATTHEWS: OK.

GOFF: You know, as I said in my column for the "She the People" blog on
"The Washington Post," look, I am a huge admirer of Huma, but for her to
say that this is between us -- it would be if he weren`t running for office
right now. And they`ve decided to make it between all of us because as a
New York voter and taxpayer, I would be his employer if he became mayor. I
mean, that`s the way I see it. He`s one big, long job interview.

And, so, the question becomes for me, Chris, I sort of -- sort of can --
the only analogy I can draw here is Lindsay Lohan. When she kept doing
film after film after film after film as her life became an even bigger
train wreck, we all asked the question, why is her family around her
enabling her and not pulling her back from the public eye to get her life
together?

And that`s kind of how Huma is starting to look here. And she is someone I
admire a great deal, but the issue of ambition certainly is starting to
sort of creep into our minds when you ask his life is a train wreck. Why
is she supporting pushing him out there instead of helping their family
step back from the limelight and get their lives together?

MATTHEWS: Kimberly?

KIMBERLY CUTTER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "HARPER`S BAZAAR": I think -- as she
said in our piece for "Bazaar," I think Huma really believes in her husband
and loves him and believes in what he wants to do for New York. And so
she`s sort of sticking with that line.

MATTHEWS: So are you endorsing Weiner for mayor?

CUTTER: No, I wouldn`t say that.

(LAUGHTER)

CUTTER: I`m a curious observer.

MATTHEWS: Well, but sounded like you just did.

CUTTER: No.

MATTHEWS: It sounded like you just endorsed him.

CUTTER: Yes. No, I don`t feel that way. I --

MATTHEWS: Would you vote for him in New York as mayor?

CUTTER: Luckily, I don`t have to make that decision yet, because I haven`t
made it yet, honestly.

MATTHEWS: I said, would you? Would you? Would you vote him?

CUTTER: If I had to vote tomorrow?

MATTHEWS: Yes, would you consider it?

CUTTER: I would consider it, sure.

MATTHEWS: After all this?

CUTTER: Yes, I would. I --

GOFF: I wouldn`t.

CUTTER: We have a long history -- we have a long history of politicians
who have had very messy private lives.

And that didn`t mean that they were necessarily bad politicians.
Sometimes, they have been excellent ones. So, I`m not dismissing it out of
hand on that basis.

GOFF: Chris, can I say --

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go -- let me stick with Kimberly, because I`m
hearing something I`m surprised to hear.

Do you think the fact that this continued long after he had confessed, gone
through all the remorse and public rehabilitation that they attempted
through all their P.R. with very nice pieces written about him, including
one in "The Times" magazine, all that public relations effort built on the
idea of remorse and redemption, that whole theme, is that theme still
credible when it comes out the fact that he lied, that it didn`t stop
there, that it continued, and he`s been covering it up ever since maybe
right through this year?

Does that fact hinder your willingness to vote for him?

CUTTER: I certainly think that it`s made me think he`s a much more -- even
more reckless person than I did before and it`s definitely made me
concerned.

I just haven`t made up my mind about it yet, to be totally honest with you.
I sort of like to think really these things through before I make a firm
decision. So, I`m still in the phase of really watching to see how it all
unfolds.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let me go back to Huma and let me go with Keli on that. The Huma thing is
where we want to focus here.

CUTTER: Sure.

MATTHEWS: We all know the story of the Stepford Wives. They sort of are
physically affected somehow through sci-fi to say, yes, dear, yes, dear,
you`re always right, dear, the way sometimes most guys would like to be
treated. It`s obviously ridiculous and not exactly dignified to want to
live with somebody who would say just yes, sir, yes, sir.

But sometimes in politics, you the feeling that the women`s -- the woman`s
job is the yes.

CUTTER: She really doesn`t strike me that way.

MATTHEWS: My job is to put up with whatever crap is thrown at me. My job
is to say yes, Pat Nixon with the pink -- mink coat, all those -- just used
as sort of a prop.

Why did he for the first time in this campaign bring his wife into a press
conference and have her talk? Why on this particular issue? Because on
this particular issue, she was damn useful. That`s why.

GOFF: That`s right, because she has substantially more credibility than he
has. That`s the reality.

Not only more credibility, Chris, but let`s not forget, she`s more --
better liked than he is. She`s respected than he is.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GOFF: So he was absolutely --

(CROSSTALK)

CUTTER: Why is that, though? Why is she better respected?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Because she hasn`t sent naked pictures of herself across the
country to strangers.

CUTTER: Right. Agreed. Agreed.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is this a hard one to delineate here?

CUTTER: No, no, not at all.

I just think that we all respect her because she`s an intelligent,
strategic thinker. And I think if she`s out there speaking on his behalf,
it`s because she decided to, not because someone is forcing her to be a
prop in front of a camera.

MATTHEWS: Yes?

CUTTER: Yes.

GOFF: Well, and anyone who`s met Huma -- and I have several times -- knows
that she is very much her own independent woman.

CUTTER: Right.

GOFF: And so this is a choice that she`s making and she`s owning.

CUTTER: Exactly.

GOFF: I think the question some of us have though is why is this the
choice she`s owning?

(CROSSTALK)

CUTTER: Yes, I have that question too.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, she`s not going to be mayor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. She can be a character witness. There`s a reason
why wives don`t testify about their husbands in court.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And -- just a minute. And I think that`s the question. Who
goes into the winner`s circle? She would go into the winner`s circle, but
he would make the decisions as mayor, his brains, his judgment. Her
judgment`s probably impeccable, Kimberly. She`s not on the grill here.

CUTTER: Yes.

GOFF: Except for picking men.

MATTHEWS: He is because he wanted to be on the grill, he chose in every
instance to send something out in many cases to thousands of people. At
one point, 45,000 people on the Twitter, he`s sending naked or indecent
pictures of himself.

CUTTER: Right.

MATTHEWS: That`s the kind of decision this guy makes.

The kind of decision she makes is be one hell of a confidential supporter
and backer of Hillary Clinton around the world. She hasn`t made a mistake
yet in her life, except maybe one.

GOFF: Picking him, yes.

MATTHEWS: Maybe one, maybe one.

GOFF: My previous column for "She the People" was titled "The Wrong Weiner
Is Running."

CUTTER: I feel the same way.

(CROSSTALK)

GOFF: And I think that kind of -- I think that kind of says it all.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think she`s taken his name. That may be the most
important decision of her life.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

GOFF: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: You`re a strong supporter. Kimberly, we`re going to be checking
back with you over time to see if you decided on this race.

CUTTER: Sounds good.

MATTHEWS: I have already made a call on this one.

Anyway, up next -- good luck with your magazine.

CUTTER: OK.

MATTHEWS: I love magazines.

Anyway, the guy who keeps popping up at Weiner`s press conference, remember
that guy, the guy popping up behind that carrel there, not in that picture,
but all the other ones? Anyway, we`re going to talk about him, because
he`s become a viral figure.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

There he is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I love this. This time,
Anthony Weiner used the name Carlos Danger. That was the name.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: He was sexting women under the name Carlos Danger.

See, this is Weiner`s way of getting more Latino support. I will use -- I
will be Carlos Danger. Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God. That was Jay Leno of course poking fun at Anthony Weiner`s
online alter ego, Carlos Danger. Well, it sounds like a real Jekyll and
Hyde story here, perhaps.

Anyway, but the mayoral candidate himself and his wife weren`t the only
ones making headlines in yesterday`s press conference. Many watching
couldn`t help but notice a man peeking over from a cubicle in the
background. Cubicle guy, as he`s become known, is now an unlikely viral
sensation.

Here he was in a montage posted by The Daily Beast last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: While some of the things
that have been posted today are true and some are not --

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I was watching him the whole time. That man was later
identified as a fellow named Jeff McKinney, a radio reporter at WOR in New
York. That`s a big station up there. The Peeping Tom reminded some of
Wilson, the mysterious character from the `90s from the sitcom "Home
Improvement," whose face was always obscured by Tim Allen`s fence -- a
scene for that one.

Next up, it seems that Kate Middleton is raising the bar for expecting
mothers everywhere. Take a look at this special segment from "The Colbert
Report" -- "Colbert Report" -- last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time for yet another installment of the Stephen
Colbert presents royal after-birth, labor party, fetal attraction, birthing
hips hip hoorah, the prince of Wales, spotted dick, it`s a boy `013.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: This afternoon, the royal couple finally emerged holing the yet
as unnamed new prince of Cambridge. Of course, Kate`s a trendsetter. So,
ladies, this is the new standard for what you must look like less than 24
hours after giving birth, smiling, glamorous, hair perfect, radiant and
fresh. OK? Step up your game.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That`s a ridiculous standard.

Anyway, finally, this is a heartwarming story for us all. Former President
George Herbert Walker Bush, 41, shaved his head in a show of solidarity
with the 2-year-old son of a member of his Secret Service detail who is
battling leukemia. This photo which was tweeted out earlier today by the
former president`s spokesperson says it all. Incredible.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins.

We have some breaking news to tell you about. At least 35 people are
reported dead in Northern Spain after a commuter train derailed; 13
passenger cars toppled over. At least one of them tore open; 200 people
are reported injured. The train was headed to Madrid from El Ferrol.
Rescue workers are on the scene at this hour caring for the injured. And
that death toll is expected to rise.

We will continue to follow this breaking story from Spain -- now back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With this endless parade of
distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington`s taken
its eye off the ball.

And I`m here to say, this needs to stop. And as Washington prepares to
enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class and everybody
who is fighting to get into the middle class could not be higher. A good
education, a home to call your own. Affordable health care when you get
sick. A secure retirement even if you`re not rich.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Reducing poverty. Reducing inequality. Growing opportunity.
That`s what we need.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was a hell of a speech today the president gave, speaking in Illinois
as part of a retooled mission to focus on the economy. As the president
said there, it comes at a time when the stakes couldn`t be higher. The
government is staring down a possible shutdown and default on the national
debt later this year if Congress does its number, which it seems to be
headed toward doing.

But if you`re looking for any of Obama`s economic vision to get through to
Republicans, dream on. The front page of today`s New York Times" reports -
- quote -- "The House GOP is setting a new offensive on Obama`s goals. The
new Republican strategy isn`t just to block Obama`s agenda. It`s an all-
out war of presidential suppression."

Republicans want to see Obama`s health care law gone, defunded, and are
threatening a government shutdown if any spending bill gives a single penny
to help in its implementation of that program. They have also said no
increase in the national debt at all, threatening government default if the
administration doesn`t cut spending where they want, where they want,
eliminating all kinds of programs, and when they want it.

Obama wants to be clearly positioned in these battles where one side, the
Republicans refuse to us support an activist economic agenda and he is seen
promoting one. He wants to position himself in the national standoff that
is coming this fall as the leader who wants government to function and his
opponents want to shut down government.

Today`s big speech was about a lot more than just the economy and jobs. It
was about the president vs. his enemies.

Joining me right now are two MSNBC political analysts, Jonathan Capehart
with "The Post," "The Washington Post" and David Corn of "Mother Jones."

Let me tell you where I saw the speech. Basically, up front, it was
offensive. He wanted to do more infrastructure, education, good things to
get the economy going. But the beef in the speech was his admission that
he can`t play Mr. I Love Everybody, that there`s going to be a war and it`s
coming this fall and it`s going to be fought by the Republicans.

He might as well get in it early. They`re going to -- if they can`t kill
Obamacare by defunding it, if -- they want to bring down the government to
a halt by saying no debt ceiling increase and obviously no revenues.
They`re setting these conditions. They`re basically saying we`re going to
blow you out of here historically, because when we`re done there ain`t
going to be Obamacare. There`s not going to be any Obama administration.
We`re going to kill you politically.

That`s what they`re saying. He admitted it today.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.

And what the speech does is lay down a marker for what he wants to do,
where he wants to go. We have heard bits and pieces of this speech before.
We know what the president wants to do. We can go to his budget and see
what he wants to do and we can go to the American Jobs Act from 2011 to see
what the president wants to do.

And I think the president is trying to remind the American people that I
have been trying and talking about these things for the last five years.
And you know who`s preventing me, preventing us from moving forward? It`s
the Republicans.

And the Republicans don`t have anything to present in the alternative.
It`s stop, block and cut, but nothing to present.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, they have something alternative, destroy him.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It was a great line. He said killing Obamacare is not an
economic program.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no, it isn`t.

And I thought this was a good speech. I didn`t think it was great.
Listening to it, I thought about classic rock. These are all the great
lines and ideas that he`s been presenting for a couple of years now and
that he really based the campaign on.

These are the things he wanted the public to decide the Romney/Obama
question on. Do you want government that`s going to do something? Do you
want Obamacare or not? And he won that fight. But he comes back to
Washington and he can`t do anything.

But I think to get -- to sort of really set the right context and have any
chance of making it clear to those voters in the middle who may not be
decided in general about what`s going on, he`s going to have to come down
even harder. meanwhile, this is a series of speeches, they say. You know,
he`s going to have to -- he can`t just keep giving speeches. He is going
to have to act like he`s fighting, like he`s doing things.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What does he do when they shut down the government? What does
he do when they say -- when they default? What`s he going to do with
words?

What`s he going to do on national television when people like Ted Cruz, who
don`t give a damn about his success or maybe the country, for all I know --
I don`t know what their thinking is -- or Rand Paul, who is a real flaming
right-winger, or Mike Lee, who is more conservative than anybody on the
planet -- they just want to bring government to a halt.

They want to humiliate this guy in history.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: And, worse than that, they want to make it -- put a big asterisk
next to his name: He wasn`t really president.

That`s how far they want to go.

CAPEHART: Well -- well, good luck with that.

But I think there are two things here. There`s defaulting on the debt and
there`s the government shutdown. When the president faced the abyss in
2011 with the debt ceiling crisis, that was the worst crisis the president
and his administration had ever faced. Anything up to that is a walk in
the park.

So what I see possibly happening is the president -- well, he`s already
said, I`m not negotiating on the debt ceiling, but I wouldn`t be surprised
if the president said, you know what? You don`t want to do anything and
want to shut down the government, which is a few steps, you know, removed
from defaulting your debt, go ahead and do it.

That would be -- will have an incredible impact and the American people,
sure they`ll blame him but turn to Congress and say, what are you people
doing?

MATTHEWS: Let me give you a more difficult question. What does he do if
they say we`re not going to fund an increase in national debt, which mean
we don`t pay our bills?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: He`s -- he`s --

MATTHEWS: Doesn`t that screw the economy, screw Wall Street and it all
gets blamed on him?

CORN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: I think they would love that.

CORN: The last time around -- the last time around, the summer of 2011,
the economy was fragile and his economic advisors, and the president were
very nervous about doing anything. They felt actually like the responsible
adults. We can`t let this happen.

But as part of that negotiation, you know, the president and I wrote about
this in this book I had a while ago, he kept telling his aides, I`m not
going to go through this again.

MATTHEWS: What`s that mean?

CORN: He said, this is unfair --

MATTHEWS: What`s he going to do about it?

CORN: He`s going to have to call their bluff.

CAPEHART: Which he did the last time.

MATTHEWS: And then what? Lay out -- what happens to the American people
reading the front page of all newspapers, America can`t pay its debt.
America can`t pay its bills. America in default. What happens from that
hour on?

CAPEHART: Well, it depends --

MATTHEWS: If that happens in November or December.

CORN: The business community lands on top of the Republicans to begin
with.

MATTHEWS: Do they?

CORN: They have to.

MATTHEWS: That will be the day.

CAPEHART: Yes, they would absolutely have to.

CORN: Yes, interest rates, everything else --

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see, because I think the president is very worried
about this to the point he wants to set this high noon fight up now on his
terms.

CORN: But he`s told aides that this is a constitutional issue that you
can`t let a few Republicans hold the country hostage. And so to do that,
you have to play hardball.

MATTHEWS: I hope so.

CORN: You know that.

CAPEHART: I think this will be a fight he`ll win.

MATTHEWS: Let`s hope, because I don`t believe in shutting the government
down every couple of years.

Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart, and thank you, David Corn.

Up next, leave it to the Iowa Congressmen Steve King -- you know him? -- to
say something about immigrants and even Republicans are actually offended
by, for once, finally.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama`s big economic speech today comes at a
time when the nation`s trust in Washington is in a serious summer slump, to
put it lightly.

According to our new NBC poll -- the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll, the
president`s job approval slipped to 45 percent, his lowest reading on that
since August of 2011. But -- catch this -- Congress`s job approval has
tanked to 12 percent which is tied for the lowest reading on record in our
poll, which goes way back to the mid `90s. The 83 percent who disapprove
of Congress is the highest number in the history of the poll, 83
disapprove.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, has stepped into it once
again. This time with vile comments he made about immigrants to
conservative Newsmax TV. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: And some of them are valedictorians. Well, my
answer to that is, been by the way their parents brought them in. It
wasn`t their fault.

It`s true in some cases but they`re not all valedictorians. They weren`t
all brought in by their parents. For everyone who`s a valedictorian,
there`s another 100 out there that -- they weigh 135 pounds and they`ve got
calves the size of cantaloupes because they`re hauling 75 pounds of
marijuana across the desert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Speaker John Boehner called those comments wrong and his
language hateful. And Majority Leader Eric Cantor called them inexcusable.
We`ll see what those words mean.

This isn`t the first time he`s made offensive comments about immigrants.
He also referred to then-Senator Obama, urban, a very urban senator. More
recently, he compared immigrants to dogs.

But this is exactly what the GOP tried to avoid in terms of image making.
Even Karl Rove warned his party bout their rhetoric in a recent "Wall
Street Journal" op-ed, writing, "Republicans must consider the impressions
they will create by what they say, their changes they propose and their
votes on the final product." He`s talking about immigration reform.

Joining me right now are two strategists, one a Democrat, Steve McMahon,
and one a Republican, John Feehery.

John, I`m going to let you start with this -- how do you explain, if you
can the fact that you have a member of your delegation, a member of your
caucus from Iowa who`s been elected by Republicans again and again, despite
comments that goes to sort of imaginative levels to make fun of a group of
people saying they`re all small, that he weigh about 130 pounds, they have
big calves -- he`s really going into details here -- about the size of
cantaloupes -- there`s another weird description -- because they`re hauling
huge amounts of marijuana across the border.

I don`t know what 70 pounds of marijuana looks like, but it weighs 75
pounds and they weigh 135 pounds.

Such detailed derision of a people. The pounds of the drugs they`re
carrying, the pounds of the people involved. The fact they have wide
calves as wide as cantaloupes.

This takes thought. This isn`t some slur out of anger when you`re driving
in traffic and yell at somebody. This is a guy who sits down and thinks
through how he can describe in the worst way, or the stupidest way, or the
most imaginative way, the people he has no respect for.

They`re all drug runners. They`re all little drug runners, carrying big
loads of illegal drugs. That`s who the Hispanic people in this country
are. That`s what he`s saying.

How do you say, well, that was just a bad day on Steve King`s part?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It`s amazing, isn`t it? You know, I
think he`s taken on the mantle from Tom Tancredo, as being the most anti-
immigrant member of Congress. And he uses this language all the time.

You know, Chris, you served in the Congress. You know there`s 435 members
of Congress. It`s truly a cross section. And you have some people who say
some crazy things, things that are offensive. Sometimes, they go out of
their way to do that. But that I don`t think typifies the Republican
Congress.

MATTHEWS: Can you imagine a Democrat saying that?

Let me go to Steve for a minute. I served the Congress. I didn`t serve in
the Congress. I served the Congress. You and I had a nice job.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, you did a nice job.

MATTHEWS: I did, aide to the speaker.

Look, here`s the thing -- would a Democrat survive --

MCMAHON: No.

MATTHEWS: -- 24 hours after saying something like that?

MCMAHON: And, you know, here`s what`s amazing to me. First of all, the
fact that he survives at all. I went to law school, at the University of
Iowa Law School. And I can`t believe Iowans elected this guy because
they`re not at all like him. But secondly, that the Republicans would let
him sit on a committee that`s deciding policy on immigration and not take
him off that committee is outrageous. The leadership should do that
tomorrow.

And, third, that there`s not --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: John Feehery, I respect your judgment. Would the leadership in
the case when you were there say this guy`s got to take a little time-out?
You don`t just throw a few words like that inappropriate, words like that
to a guy like that. You`ve got to shut him down, not just shut him out.

FEEHERY: Well, Chris, let me tell you something -- it`s very difficult to
take someone off a committee just for saying something. Pete Stark was on
the Ways and Means Committee, he would say some of the most outrageous
things about all kinds of things, and, you know, you just don`t do that.

MCMAHON: Hold on a second, John.

FEEHERY: But the fact is that Steve King doesn`t -- the leadership has
condemned him. I think what this does --

MCMAHON: John.

FEEHERY: Steve, go ahead.

MCMAHON: I`m sorry, the leadership actually removed people from their
committees for voting against John Boehner from speaker. It was just a few
months ago. So, this notion that they can`t do it or it`s really hard to
do was belied by the fact they did it just a few months ago for something
not as egregious as this, essentially voting against John Boehner.

FEEHERY: It`s a completely different thing. And they didn`t remove him.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask --

FEEHERY: Fact of the matter is that members of Congress say all kinds of
crazy things. And if you take them off the committees for saying crazy
things, you know --

MATTHEWS: I agree with you about Pete Stark. That he has made some
comments.

Let me go back -- out in California -- let me ask you about this. It seems
like the Republican Party has got a good chunk of the white male vote.
Fair enough. Good chunk of the white vote. How big a chunk can you get
and still survive? If you keep kissing off Hispanics like this, kissing
off women by this absorb, kind of probing and all kinds of I think
unnecessary legislative attempts on abortion rights that just seem to be
race, getting rid of all abortion clinics in Texas, even though it`s
constitutionally legal.

And making comments about voter suppression where you basically keep
getting rid of early voting, and like you`re doing down in North Carolina
right now.

Are you sending a message now? Are you in charge of PR for the Republican
Party? Do you think you`re doing a good job on women, Hispanics, and
blacks? Do you think you`re doing a good job?

FEEHERY: Let me put it this way, I think we could do a better job. And we
can do a better job by adjusting some of our policies. I think we do a
better job by focusing on things like John Boehner wants to focus on, is
the president`s abysmal past on creating jobs and economic growth, which
has been pretty stagnant.

And I think that ultimately you do have to -- and I said this very
consistently -- as have other Republican leaders, you`ve got to pass a
comprehensive immigration reform bill because that allows you to have a
deeper discussion with --

MATTHEWS: Does every Republican on this planet in this country -- does the
average Republican want to give a path to citizenship to illegal
immigrants? Does the average Republican --

FEEHERY: Probably not. But I do think there`s a way to finesse this. And
I think ultimately you have to include that in a package, because
ultimately that`s what gets you into having a deeper conversation with
Hispanic voters and attract them to your party in the future which we have
to do.

MATTHEWS: So, you don`t believe you can get some votes?

FEEHERY: I think we can ultimately get the votes. I think it`s going to
take a lot of deals --

MATTHEWS: You said most Republicans don`t believe in immigration reform.

FEEHERY: Chris --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You don`t think you get some votes out there.

FEEHERY: You need to work on the votes. This is as -- you know, Chris,
this sausage making is not very pretty. But we`ve got to make it happen,
because you`ve got to have that conversation.

MATTHEWS: So, please join our party even if we don`t really like you.

FEEHERY: Sometimes you got to do that, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I love the way you talk. Keep it up.

MCMAHON: He`s honest.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, John Feehery, thanks very much. And, Steve McMahon,
thanks.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with what I head from President Obama
today. It was important and it`s tough.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with what I heard in the president`s big
speech today. I heard an offense and I heard a defense.

First, the Obama offense. He sees the economy not getting all that much
better this year or later, and doesn`t want to be blamed for it.

What he wants is a battle, a national debate on the following question.
Did the people want to persist with the rate of growth we have now with
higher than healthy jobless rate that is ebbing only slowly? Or push for
infrastructure spending and other steps that will kick the economy into a
higher gear?

He wants this debate and he wants to be clearly positioned on one side of
it. Where the Republicans refuse to support and enact his economic agenda
and he the president is seen promoting one.

Now to the Obama defense. He also knows clearly as hell the Republican
ramrodded by Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee is planning a showdown this
fall -- a manufactured crisis that leads to a government shutdown and risks
national default.

He the president wants to position himself in the national standup that
coming this fall as the leader that wants government to function. His
opponents -- those are the people that want to shut government down.

He`s basically admitting the reality that there are strong forces posed
against him now. The Republican right that is saying there will be no
budget agreement that includes revenues to finance current government
spending, or pays for what the Congress has already agreed to or that
allows Obamacare to survive.

The president knows he needs to win the first of these fights, the ones
where he`s taking the offensive, or risks being a mediocre president. He
knows he needs to win the second fight, the one where he`s clearly on the
defensive or risk of outright failure.

His ideological opponents are out to destroy not just his presidency but
his place in the history books. They hate him -- he knows that -- hate him
when he`s progressive, hate him when he`s moderate, hate him when he cuts
deals with them. And they close their eyes in anguish, hating him most of
all when he succeeds, whether it`s doubling the Dow, as he`s done on the
stock market, killing bin Laden, or getting through a program on health
care that Democrats and some Republicans have been promising this country
for generations and have it delivered. He has.

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

Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>