July 29, 2013
Guests: Terry O`Neill, Eliot Spitzer, Wade Henderson, Marc Morial
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The Weiners and the Clintons.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" with this. This thing in New York is getting a lot bigger
than some sleazy e-mails. There are larger stakes in this matter than the
political future of a desperate former congressman. It comes down to one
Now, there are cynics out here who will sneer that politicians and politics
itself cannot go any lower in public esteem. For those, I can`t really
help you. If you`ve lost hope, you`re pretty much on your own.
But this Anthony Weiner business, a matter only he himself argues is still
a private matter involving him and his laptop, is giving New York and the
Democrats the kind of branding that could make them the butt of jokes,
worse yet, deep and heartfelt disgust for years to come.
If he stays in this race to the end and wins a significant number of votes,
he will count himself a winner. And every vote he gets, every other
candidate he beats out will be a statement to the country about New York
and about the Democratic Party, a statement that will be used against both
again and again and again.
The people who know the best are the former president, Bill Clinton, and
possibly future president Hillary Clinton. If they won`t say it out loud,
how this is bothering them, hurting their reputations, their friends are.
Howard Fineman is the editorial director for the Huffington Post Media
Group and an MSNBC political analyst and Terry O`Neill is president of the
National Organization for Women. So we`ve got a heavyweight here. Thank
Howard, I want to start with this general thing. I don`t like to do this,
but we`ve got approval on this. And it has been a, believe it or not,
reliable Web site, the Web site TheDirty, it`s called, which last week
posted sexually explicit messages allegedly, I guess we say now, between
Weiner and a 22-year-old woman he met on line -- has been posted new texts
now this weekend, new photos today, and the Web site promises to publish
more tomorrow. So this drip, drip, drip continues. It shows just how big
of a challenge Weiner will have if he decides to stay in the race. His
past misdeeds will continue -- well, they continue to haunt him.
Meanwhile, we`re seeing signs that Clinton world -- that`s the world of
Hillary and Bill Clinton -- is distancing itself from the Weiners. Over
the weekend, Dee Myers, the former press secretary to President Clinton,
blasted Anthony Weiner as unqualified and declared his campaign over. She
said the Clintons would be happy to see the Weiner story go away.
Let`s watch her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Look, this isn`t a story that
anybody, particularly the Clintons, is happy to see splashed all over the,
you know, front pages and all over the news relentlessly. And I think
they, as much as anyone, would like to see this go away.
And so you know, if they could choose, they would certainly have Weiner get
out of the race and Huma get on with her life. It`s been very painful for
the Clintons because they`re genuinely very close to Huma. It`s not a
comparable situation in a lot of ways to what I think Hillary Clinton went
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile, "The New York Post" today quoted a top state
Democrat who said the Clintons are upset by the comparisons being drawn
between them and the Weiners. Quote, "The Clintons are -- the Clintons
are" -- and I have to say this word -- "blanked off that Weiner`s campaign
is saying that Huma is just like Hillary. How dare they compare Huma with
Hillary. Hillary`s the first lady. Hillary was a senator. She was a
secretary of state. Hillary didn`t know Huma would do this whole `stand by
your man` routine, and that`s one of the reasons the Clintons are
distancing themselves from all this nonsense."
Well, let`s go right now to Howard Fineman. Thank you for joining us, and
thank you, Terry, for joining us on behalf of NOW, a great organization.
I`m not sure what you`re going to say. I`ve been sort of -- (INAUDIBLE)
fit into this unpleasant -- unpleasantly sleazy story.
Howard, it looks to me like the Clintons -- the one thing we know about
Anthony Weiner is he married well. He married Huma Abedin, who everybody -
- I actually them on a plane a couple times with Hillary, close confidante,
sits right next to her on the plane, is with her all the time, not somebody
that she wouldn`t trust to make all kinds of judgments for her in her own
And here she is playing this role of enabler, keeping this guy in the race.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well
MATTHEWS: Politically. It`s not about the marriage.
FINEMAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Politically keeping him in the race.
FINEMAN: The Clintons are, in a sense, a kind of royal family in the
Democratic Party. He married into that royal family, and he seems to be
abusing his privileges. And now he`s put her in a terrible position and
the Clintons in a bad position.
I can assure you that Dee Dee Myers didn`t come out there on "Face the
Nation" with guns blazing the way she did, basically speaking on behalf of
the Clintons, had she not had good reason to do so as a former press
secretary to the president, as a friend.
The Clintons stick together. The people who are in Clinton world generally
stay in Clinton world --
MATTHEWS: And you know that from reporting.
FINEMAN: Oh, of course. And I -- yes. And I know lots of people who are
upset at the notion that Huma and Anthony are using Clinton world, using
their contacts for fund-raising to try to get donors for his campaign.
And one thing I can assure you is Dee Dee Myers`s announcement on "Face the
Nation" yesterday is a signal to whoever within the Clinton world was
willing to or thinking of contributing to Anthony Weiner that not only is
it acceptable not to do so, but probably it`s a very good idea not to do so
because there`s no desire in Clinton world to see these stories mixed
together any longer than they have to be.
MATTHEWS: You know, one of the hoots of this whole thing has been Weiner`s
contention that this is all a private matter in his home, he actually said
the other day, This is happening in my home. It`s on his laptop, which
reaches the universe. And he`s used that laptop to reach young supporters
who like his politics and he`s established a still transitional
Even Bill Maher took a shot at me the other night, after he spent his whole
show talking about Weiner, said I talked about it. Well, he spent the show
talking about it. Fair enough. Happy to see you, Bill.
But the thing is, the women are involved -- as a -- as a leader of the
biggest organization for women`s rights and equality and dignity, what`s
this story about?
TERRY O`NEILL, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: It`s about a man who needs
to drop out of the race, period. And in the privacy of his own home?
Please! He`s taking pictures of himself and his anatomy, all erect, if I
can say that on television --
MATTHEWS: You just did.
O`NEILL: -- all right -- and tweeting it out and putting it out there in
cyberspace, where it is clearly not private. His behavior is really
reprehensible. And honestly, I think -- I think part of the reprehensible
nature of his behavior is to then hold himself out as a potential leader of
men and women.
MATTHEWS: But what do you make of Bill Maher`s comment? And Bill can be
pretty liberal, to say the least, on matters like this. He thought it was
exploitive (ph) politically, of a political leader who has a fan club out
there for political reasons --
MATTHEWS: -- to then recruit them into his sleazeball game there.
O`NEILL: Yes. And you know, it sounds a lot like what the mayor of San
Diego did. In other words, you get people in there, and then -- and then -
- there`s a -- there`s a modus operandi. It`s, Oh, you like my politics?
Oh, let`s talk about this.
O`NEILL: Oh, I want to draw you in here. And psychologists have talked
about it. It`s a personality disorder.
FINEMAN: From the point of view -- from the point of view of the Clintons,
this is like sort of the "Breaking Bad" -- the sleazy "Breaking Bad"
FINEMAN: And they don`t -- and the Clinton world doesn`t want America and
the world reminded in a cheap echo version of what happened in their time
in the White House.
MATTHEWS: Fifteen years ago.
O`NEILL: And you know --
MATTHEWS: This also brings up to date an old problem.
O`NEILL: It`s an old problem, but emphasis "old," and it`s --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about --
MATTHEWS: You know, Anthony`s -- fair enough -- keeps saying this is up to
the people of New York. So let`s take a look at the latest polling, which
is always fascinating. New York is so diverse and so wild sometimes, you
never what`s going to come out of a poll.
But here it is. Christine Quinn has regained her lead. She`s had it --
lost for a while. She brought it back. She`s at 27, leading the poll
right now pretty substantially. De Blasio is two, at 21, Thompson down at
20, Weiner at 16.
So Weiner`s -- Weiner, Howard -- you and I are always watching these things
with fascination. Anyway, he hasn`t really -- he`s lost a big lead, but he
holds to that core of 16. One in six New Yorkers still say Weiner when
FINEMAN: Well, if you --
MATTHEWS: They can say anything they want.
FINEMAN: If you put all the polls together over the last several days,
there`s been a precipitous drop in his poll numbers. There`s no question
about it. What the floor is, I don`t know.
But the combination of the Clintons world making it clear that they don`t
want him around -- that`s going to damage his fund-raising. It`s going to
damage his ability to get good campaign workers. He lost his campaign
manager the other day. He`s going to die on the vine here.
I don`t know what the bottom number is. He`s probably not seen the bottom
number yet. He can stay in the race. There`s no reason for him not to.
He`s already humiliated himself beyond repair. The only way is forward for
him, but it`s not going to be a forward to the top of the ticket, I don`t
MATTHEWS: What about the fact that he spent $45,000 of campaign money,
given by campaign contributors to help his political career, for a phony
investigation of somebody hacking into his computer, when, in fact, he knew
that was a lie to begin with? He threw away $45,000 to make himself look
O`NEILL: Of his funders` hard-earned money.
O`NEILL: That`s number one. Number two, why -- I don`t understand why any
Democratic fund-raisers -- funders would be supporting him. If his name
was Amy instead of Anthony, there is not a single Democratic --
MATTHEWS: What you do you think, they support him because he`s male?
O`NEILL: I think that if he were female, he would be toast.
MATTHEWS: -- I have to tell you. We`re always learning. I can`t
imagine a woman sending out naked pictures of herself on the Twitter.
O`NEILL: No, you can`t. But if it did happen, nobody would --
MATTHEWS: -- be considered crazy.
O`NEILL: And there would be nobody funding her.
MATTHEWS: They`d be considered crazy.
O`NEILL: Crazy and totally -- and absolutely, she would be a pariah, which
he`s not yet, but he needs to be.
FINEMAN: The problem with his having hired the private investigator is it
showed that he wanted to fight dirty and make -- to the extent that he had
any smidgen left of a story that was sympathetic, that this was a one-time
-- that he was a sympathetic character overcome by his own emotions at one
point, now he looks like a cold, calculating guy who`s willing to hire a
private investigator to go after his enemies --
MATTHEWS: Well, over the weekend --
FINEMAN: -- over this story.
MATTHEWS: -- this man, Anthony Weiner, told a Staten Island newspaper,
quote, "You`re stuck with me." And again today, Weiner insisted he`s going
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WEINER (D), FMR. CONGRESSMAN, NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I don`t take
my cues on policy from the Sunday talk shows listening to pundits. I never
have. I don`t -- I don`t take my cues from the headline writers in the
newspapers. I never have. Those are the very same people that didn`t want
me to run, that didn`t want New Yorkers to have this choice in the first
I`m going to keep talking about the things important to this city. I don`t
really care if a lot of pundits or politicians are offended by that. I`m
going to keep doing those things, and I think New Yorkers deserve that
choice. I`m going to let New Yorkers decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Am I -- am I the only one who thinks he`s enjoying this, like
Nixon enjoyed his resignation? I look at that smile breaking out on his
face -- I mean, the guy thinks it`s all a dirty joke. It`s a funny dirty
joke. He`s loving it. Where are those cameras? They`re up -- they`re on
him! The microphones are up under his chin. Everybody wants to hear from
MATTHEWS: This is -- this is a bizarre national festival of weirdness.
O`NEILL: And yet Howard said that he has no -- that his campaign manager
has resigned. Again, not just funders, I don`t understand any operatives
who would work on his campaign, seriously.
MATTHEWS: Well, his top aide just quit. Let me ask you this --
FINEMAN: What alternatives does he have how, Chris?
FINEMAN: I don`t think he`s smiling. I think he`s walking forward because
there`s no other way for him to go.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FINEMAN: He`s humiliated beyond repair at this point. He may as well play
the hand out to the end.
MATTHEWS: So he`s like Bashar Assad.
FINEMAN: Well, I`m not going to say that but --
MATTHEWS: Well, he is because Bashar Assad ain`t -- he`s got no place to
And I stick with you, and here`s what I think his strategy is. Come in a
strong third, a weak third, a strong fourth, get a decent chunk of the
vote. Have a big hotel room, a ballroom, rent it out. Hundreds of people
will be there. He`ll be crying, she`ll be crying. He`ll be saluting the
people that stuck with him. And the Democratic Party will look ridiculous.
Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Howard. And New York, to some extent,
although New York is very big. Anyway, Howard Fineman, thank you, and
Terry O`Neill from National Organization for Women, right?
O`NEILL: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Not of women, for women.
O`NEILL: Not "of women."
MATTHEWS: Coming up, a man who knows a thing or two about trying to
resurrect a political career from New York City after a sex scandal of a
different kind. Eliot Spitzer joins us next.
Also, Republicans have made it clear if they can`t get more people to vote
for them, they`re certainly going to make sure fewer people have a chance
to vote for Democrats. Aren`t they something? A meeting at the White
House today was designed to stop Republicans from doing just that.
And the latest shot in the Republican civil war between the ascendant Tea
Party types and the shrinking moderate wing. This weekend, Rand Paul
mimicked Representative Peter King and New Jersey governor Chris Christie
for saying, quote -- as Paul put it -- "Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme all my
Hurricane Sandy money now." He`s playing with fire, this guy.
Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the meeting that will take
place, is taking place tonight between Israeli and Palestinian officials
right here in the American capital. It`s really happening, final status
negotiations. Who could have believed it?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, guess who`s coming to dinner or lunch, actually? Hillary
Clinton had lunch with President Obama today at the White House. The lunch
was closed to the press, but aides say the president invited his former
secretary of state, and the lunch was a friendly chance to, quote, "catch
up." There they are together outside. A beautiful day today.
Hillary Clinton is having breakfast tomorrow with Vice President Joe Biden,
who may well be her chief rival should she decide to run for the Democratic
nomination in 2016.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIOT SPITZER (D), FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Over the course of my public
life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of
their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and
will ask no less of myself.
I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings,
our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Rising. Well, welcome back to HARDBALL, and perhaps to part of
the rising. That was former New York governor Eliot Spitzer resigning from
office in 2008 just 48 hours after it was revealed he had been using a
high-priced prostitution service as governor and as attorney general. He
quickly exited the public stage in 48 hours, as I said, keeping a
relatively low profile for a few years, then going on to television.
But now Spitzer, once considered to be a potential candidate for president
of the United States, is seeking to return to public life as the New York
City comptroller, a much less prestigious position, perhaps not less
visible, responsible for auditing the city`s finances and evaluating the
performances of city agencies.
Here`s a clip from his campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: Look, I failed big-time. I hurt a lot of people. When you dig
yourself a hole, you can either lie in it the rest of your life or do
something positive. So that`s why I`m running.
Make sure your money goes where it`s supposed to go and does what it`s
supposed to do. And make sure the Wall Street firms that want us to invest
with them play by the rules.
So if you hear any negative noise out there, and you will, keep in mind
where the negative noise it`s coming from. Maybe being hated by Wall
Street firms isn`t such a terrible thing. Everyone, no matter who you are,
deserves a fair shot. I`m asking voters to give the same to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The man once known as the "sheriff of Wall Street" for his tough
prosecutions of white collar crime and corporate abuses looked into the
camera -- you saw it just there -- asking voters to give him a fair shot.
Eliot Spitzer joins us right now. Governor, thank you very much. Do you
like to be called Governor still or do you want to be called Eliot?
MATTHEWS: What`s the best --
SPITZER: I always used my first name even when I was in office, Chris.
SPITZER: I just thought the honorary was not the important thing.
MATTHEWS: I`m judgmental, and I judged well your decision to split after
those 48 hours. You didn`t waste our time. You didn`t endure the agony
nor waste our time with the fuss.
Let me ask you -- I gave you a couple bits of advice backstage one time. I
said go lowkey for the next couple years, like Mike Milken after his
embarrassment, and do good work, and then run for an office somewhat lower
and it`ll express your contrition.
You took half my advice, and here are you running for comptroller of New
York. Does that suggest a certain level of humility, of acceptance of the
fact that you did something that would bring you down a bit, and therefore,
you`re running for the appropriate level of public applause here? You`re
not going for the big job.
SPITZER: Look, I said -- and a few people raised eyebrows when I said it -
- that if I ever got back in -- and I do credit you for that wisdom, and
it`s -- others have suggested this, as well -- that you don`t go back at
the very top. I don`t want to suggest that this is humility. I just think
I erred. I acknowledged it. I have taken five years. Some of it was
lowkey. Yes, you`re right. I hosted some TV shows. Perhaps that was
lowkey, as well, given the ratings we had.
But the reality is I`m seeking a position that`s very important to the
public. I think it fits the skill set. But you`re right, I`m not trying
to become the mayor or the governor again. I`m trying to get a position
that I think shows a desire to serve in a position that I hope I have the
MATTHEWS: You`ve got a critical oversight role over City Hall, over the
mayor, whoever the next mayor is, over public officialdom. If a public
official used their office equipment to engage in the kind of pastime that
Anthony Weiner has been involved in the last couple years, would you fire
SPITZER: I think the answer is yes. I mean, I -- we have had a number of
instances over the years where, inevitably, of course, municipal employees,
state employees have used computers and the like for improper purposes.
And there`s an appropriate sanction for that, and there should be.
This is -- you know, having said that, that isn`t the most important role
of the New York City comptroller.
SPITZER: But I think you`re making a point that has played out in the
papers most often recently in years, over the years --
MATTHEWS: And that would include the mayor, of course, like any other city
SPITZER: That`s right. Right.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know, I wanted to take 10 minutes to get to that. You
got to it so fast, I don`t have a real plan here anymore. You`ve answered
Let me ask you -- a lot of people are concerned, I think -- let`s talk
about -- let`s -- Bloomberg, the mayor, and a very popular mayor in many
regards. I mean, consider most city mayors after a couple terms -- three
terms, he`s still doing pretty well.
He had this -- has had this to say about you. "Just condemning any one
industry is not a smart thing to do. If there`s something wrong on Wall
Street, it`s not the comptroller`s job to investigate that. The
comptroller`s job is to make sure that all the contracts are given out
fairly and that they are given out to suppliers to the city who are honest.
That`s the job, and that`s what we really need the next comptroller to
So, he`s saying stick to your lane, stay in your lane, focus on the City
Hall. Don`t be going off as the crusader against Wall Street. Your
SPITZER: Well, my response is, look, there are many different facets of
the comptroller`s job. And I have articulated them.
One is doing policy audits. The other is more traditional audits, but
policy audits critically important to make sure that if we spend billions
of dollars in a program, we`re getting the policy return we should. That
has been an underutilized aspect of it.
A piece of it is overseeing is the city budget, which is somehow nuts and
bolts and is understood that way. A third piece is overseeing the
SPITZER: And what comes with that is some oversight over the ownership
capacity through shareholder proxies to mold corporate governance. We have
had violations in corporate governance and on Wall Street to a great
extent, Chris, because of a failure to exercise the obligations of
As I have said, you cannot regulate or prosecute your way to good judgment
in the corporate boardroom. It`s owners who have a responsibility to stand
SPITZER: That`s what Warren Buffett does. That`s what shareholders are
supposed to do. And pension owners -- and I wrote about this in the book
that I just wrote that came out -- I don`t want to plug the book -- but it
-- or I do want to, but I won`t -- it is the obligation of owners to
oversee and participate.
SPITZER: And to a certain extent, the violations we have seen in the
corporate boardroom are because shareholders have been too passive.
So, we want to encourage shareholders.
MATTHEWS: OK. You can earn your way back with a lot of people right now
with the advice you give them right now.
A very wealthy friend of mine, a double billionaire, told me -- the only
one I know maybe -- I maybe know a couple -- but one told me this. He said
the money`s already taken out of the stock market before the average guy or
woman puts a buck in.
You put money into your 401(k), you invest in the equity in the stock
market. The reason you don`t get rich in the stock market is because all
the wealth has been taken out by the people that know what`s going on
inside, legal or illegal or gray market inside trading. They know it all.
They grabbed all the loot.
Is that basically true? Is the New York Stock Exchange on the level, sir?
Is it on the level for the average person to invest?
SPITZER: No, it is not. And I think we`re seeing that in the numerous
insider trading cases that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District,
Preet Bharara, is making.
And we`re seeing it because the fees that are improperly taken out by the
mutual funds -- this was an enormous area that I investigated when I was
SPITZER: Fees that were disproportionate to the return the investors got.
Jack Bogle, one of the superstars, an honorable, very good guy, created the
-- I don`t want to plug one mutual -- but he created the Vanguard fund on
the principle fees should be very, very low, because in the long run, you
won`t outperform the market. And when the mutual funds charge you
excessive fees, pretending they will, you`re giving away all the upside and
over the long term you the investor are the loser.
MATTHEWS: So, the market is not on the level?
SPITZER: That is correct.
Now, it doesn`t mean you still can`t do well over a 20-year time horizon.
But are there advantages that exist where certain individuals who have
access to information trade ahead of you? Absolutely. The high-speed
MATTHEWS: So, one of the double billionaires floating around there is Mike
Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who believes that that`s what you`re
going to focus on.
MATTHEWS: You get in there, you`re not going to sit around City Hall
sniffing around who misused their computers. You`re going for big game
because big game is where you are going to bring your career back.
SPITZER: No, what I`m going to do is to do the comptroller`s job, which,
as I just said, has many different facets to it.
One piece of it is using and overseeing the pension funds and making sure
that those pension funds are used properly as owners of the many companies
in which you invest. Now, having said that, Mike and I worked together
very well when I was attorney general, he was the mayor. I was governor,
he was the mayor.
MATTHEWS: Right. But he`s warning about you.
SPITZER: Well, what he`s saying -- look, where we disagreed was about Wall
Street. And I would say this. I would think that if the historical record
is the one that I have been watching, what I was saying from 2000 until
2008 about structural problems, not just individual cases, but structural
problems -- I was talking about subprime debt, about analysts who were
lying to the public, an insurance industry that was rigged.
And I was saying to people, look, these are structural issues that can lead
to a cataclysm if we`re not careful. And I think we suffered through it.
Let`s learn the lesson. The market and the capital markets are hugely
important to us. They raise money, allocate capital.
But if they are not monitored properly, if there are flaws in them, then we
will go through once again what we suffered through in 2008. We don`t want
MATTHEWS: Let me get you a tough question. I`m being asked by my
executive producer to ask the question I probably should have asked, but I
go in my own directions usually on things like this because I`m fascinated
with you because you know so much more about New York markets and equities
If you had to vote for mayor right now, who would you vote for?
SPITZER: I would vote.
But, Chris, look, it`s a great question.
MATTHEWS: Come on. Answer the question.
SPITZER: You know, look --
MATTHEWS: Show that you`re different. Show you`re different than most
politicians. Just say you`re going to vote for Quinn or you`re going to
vote for whoever, Thompson.
SPITZER: I`m not saying --
MATTHEWS: You`re not going to vote for -- you`re not going to vote for
Anthony Weiner. Can you just say that now? You don`t think he should be
mayor of New York.
SPITZER: Fair point. That is correct.
MATTHEWS: He should not be mayor of New York?
SPITZER: That is correct.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Eliot Spitzer. You made some news here, a
couple points of news.
Anyway, up next -- thanks for coming. And good luck in the race, by the
SPITZER: Thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: We know who is playing Hillary Clinton in NBC`s miniseries,
Diane Lane. There`s a win-win for both of them. Who should play Bill
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and on to the "Sideshow."
Anthony Weiner`s campaign may be on the ropes, but Carlos Danger is all in.
In fact, Weiner`s alter ego has taken on a life of its own.
Here was Jimmy Fallon`s impression of the now famous fictional character --
actually candidate -- on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": If elected, I will
turn New York City around and give it exactly what it needs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FALLON: I`m not afraid to do the dirty work. I`m not afraid to fight
corruption. After all, Danger is my middle name.
FALLON: It`s also my last name, Carlos Danger Danger.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He is great. I guess all it takes is an accent and a mustache.
Both have become comedic prerequisites for this role. Just take a look at
this remake of Anthony Weiner`s campaign ad released by The Daily Beast
over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was my neighborhood growing up, a middle-class
muchacho in el barrio playing stickball late into the night and, if we were
lucky, a Mets game on the weekend.
My mom was a schoolteacher for 31 years in public schools just like this.
My dad went to law school on the G.I. Bill and then hung a shingle outside
our house. Theirs is the classic New York story. Work hard, make it into
the middle class, you make life a little more dangerous for your kids.
That`s how the city was built.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love this city. And no one will be harder than
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will sext you every single day.
Thank you for watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do they do that?
Anyway, Diane Lane, by the way, on the brighter side of the world, has been
cast to play Hillary Clinton in a biographical miniseries set to air on NBC
during the run-up to the 2016 election. I said before that is a double
win, a win-win for both of them, the beautiful Diane Lane playing Hillary
Clinton, a great career boost for her.
Anyway, the series will span the former first lady`s career from 1998
through her time as secretary of state. And while the part of Bill Clinton
has yet to be cast, "The Washington Post" Reliable Source blog put forth
some suggestions for the role.
We thought we would have fun and consider their possibilities. There they
are. Start with Jeff Bridges. I think he would be my candidate. The
legendary "Big Lebowski" character actor would probably pull this off,
since Bill Clinton is a lot like The Dude.
But, at age 63, he might be too old -- might be -- to play the former
president when he was much younger, although I think he can do it.
Next on the list, Billy Bob Thornton, not my favorite. Here`s the guy who
has some experience playing politics in my favorite movie, "Love Actually,"
where he played the bad guy, and also a Carville-inspired character in
"Primary Colors." Remember that?
Next up, Woody Harrelson, a great guy, but don`t let his bald head
discourage this choice. That could easily be remedied in Hollywood. He`s
proven to be, by the way, a very versatile actor and he`s a Washington
favorite, having played Steve Schmidt game change.
And, finally, Josh Brolin, the actor who played former President Bush in
"W.," would go probably have an awkward on-screen chemistry, of course,
because he has just split with Diane Lane. But, on second thought, that
might be the trick.
Anyway, what do you think? Go to TV.MSNBC.com and click on HARDBALL to
vote on this important election.
Next up: John McCain is standing up for a new interest group, strippers.
Yes. "The Hill" reported last week that the senators faced pushback from
strip club owners over legislation that would replace the $1 bill with a $1
coin. The reason? Coins make lousy tips, they say. But the maverick
senator was quick to devise a solution, not wanting to shortchange the
after-hours entertainers, saying -- quote -- "I hope they could be -- we
could obtain larger denominations, fives, tens and hundreds I guess this
coins." Wow. How big would that coin be?
Up next, President Obama hosts a voting rights summit. This is important
business, the pushback against outlandish Republican efforts to suppress
the black vote in this country.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
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That`s it from CNBC. We`re first in business worldwide -- now back to
Chris and HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, I am announcing that the
Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the state
of Texas to a pre-clearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5
of the Voting Rights Act.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HOLDER: This is the department`s first action to protect voting rights
following the Shelby County decision. But it will not be our last.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Attorney General Eric Holder of course late last week announcing
the first steps of an administration effort, Obama effort to combat voter
suppression. And we know what that is, keeping minorities from voting.
His comments came just weeks after the Supreme Court ruled to gut key
provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
What you heard there, the fight begins in Texas, where Republicans are
looking to implement some of the most stringent -- most stringent --
stringent or whatever voter I.D. laws in the country. But this is a
conflict hardly contained to the Lone Star State. Voter suppression
battles are brewing all across the country. I talk about them every night.
Take a look at this map. I will do it again. At least 82 restrictive
voting bills have been introduced in 31 states. This is not just a
Southern problem -- all by Republicans under the leadership of RNC Chair
Reince Priebus. He is leading this campaign to keep black people from
voting. That`s according to the NYU Brennan Center for Justice and the
Advancement Project, of course.
One of those states, North Carolina, which voted last Thursday to approve
harsh voter I.D. laws and restrictions on early voting, the new rules are
expected there to be signed into law by the governor today, as Moral Monday
protesters marched on the capital to voice their frustration with the
state`s Republican-controlled legislature.
Well, today at the White House, President Obama convened a voting rights
summit, a meeting with Attorney General Holder, Labor Secretary Perez and
civil rights leaders from across the country, their focus, safeguarding
every eligible American`s right to vote. There`s Al Sharpton, my
colleague, right there in the back.
Joining me right now is Urban League president Marc Morial and Leadership
Conference president Wade Henderson. Both were part of today`s White House
Marc Morial, thank you, sir, for joining us.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for
MATTHEWS: And I shortchanged you. We were right in the middle of the
Zimmerman trial down at the Essence Convention and you got shortchanged.
So, you start out tonight.
What can you tell us the president said to your groups tonight, the civil
rights groups that lead this country about what he`s going to do to protect
the right to vote?
MORIAL: The president and the attorney general were strong, they were
forceful, they were resolute the they are going to use their responsibility
and their power to enforce the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights
The Voting Rights Act was wounded. It wasn`t killed. There`s still many
tools in the toolbox of the Justice Department to protect democracy and
voting. The president also has designated the attorney general as his
And, as his point person, the attorney general has already shifted
resources. The attorney general has taken action against Texas. And I
believe that they are energized by the support they`re receiving all across
You know, Chris, there was a poll recently -- and it indicated that over 50
percent of the American people across the board disagreed with the decision
of the Supreme Court. So, we have, I think, popular will on our side. But
also what`s at stake is the future of democracy. If you look at that map,
this effort to suppress the vote, to make it more difficult for people to
vote is inconsistent with everything this nation stands for.
MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t want to enlarge this beyond what it seems to
be, Mr. Henderson, but you`re involved in fighting for minorities.
WADE HENDERSON, PRESIDENT, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS: That`s
MATTHEWS: And you`re a leader.
It does look like it`s almost like South Africa to this extent. You have a
white, what`s the word, feeble minority. It`s losing its majority status.
And it says the Republican Party, we can only get so many white votes. So
we`ve got to reduce the votes of others.
It does look that way. Only -- maybe you`re not partisan, but only
Republicans have pushed this in these 31 states. No Democratic
You got to look at the pattern here. You talk about profiling. I`m sorry,
Republicans do this stuff.
HENDERSON: Look, you stated a point. In fact, I can`t challenge that. I
think though the president did something today that was really important.
He lifted up the importance of the right to vote for all Americans.
And obviously, we are concerned about the impact of the Shelby County
decision on African-Americans and Latinos, but this is a president who
talked about the right of every American to vote and underscored the role
of the federal government in helping to protect that right under the 15th
Amendment of the Constitution.
We thought it was a powerful statement. And a really important indication
to the country that this administration was committed to enforcing the
right to vote for all.
Now, what attorney General Holder did last week was to send a powerful
signal, not just to Texas, but toto the nation that other aspects of the
Voting Rights Act not damaged by the Shelby County decision will be used to
help enforce the law. Last week, he used Section 3 of the act which helped
bring in states that might otherwise not have been covered under a
preclearance provision, but he also has section two of the act which is
nationwide in its coverage and allows us to go after discriminatory actors
after the act.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the Republican argument. In some cases Republicans
resort to made up voter fraud scandal to help justify voter restrictions.
"The Washington Post" fact checker over the weekend debunked the zombie
voters in South Carolina.
In 2012, the attorney general said the following, "We found out there were
over 900 people who died and then subsequently voted." Well, these
allegations according to "The Post" emerged as state officials tried to
impose new photo voter ID laws during the election. It turns out none of
it was true. "The Post" dug up a law enforcement report which found out
that the so-caused dead people voters were actually the result of clerical
errors or mistaken identities, people voting under different names.
Let me get back to Mayor Morial. It jus seems to me that I don`t -- nobody
denies there are some case whereas somebody may have cheated. But the idea
it would have affected the results of an election has never been
established or any numbers of people established as crooked. Yet, it`s
used all as a target for Republicans to say we`ve got to have more rigorous
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: This is Pinocchio, made-up stories,
false arguments, specious suggestions -- there are things that are
absolutely not true. And we`re going to see more of it and more of it and
more of it as some people try to hold on to power through these sort of
shenanigans and unfair tactics. We`re going to be transparent and we`re
going to throw a light on all of these bogus false arguments.
But what we`re also going to do I think, Chris, is build a coalition. This
is about protecting the rights to vote of all people. Today`s meeting
included African-American leaders, Latino leaders, leaders from the
American Civil Liberties Union as well as the Asian and American Indian
communities. It was a broad meeting to discuss the right to vote.
I believe that Americans have always stood up, time and time again, whether
it was to get women the right to vote, whether it`s the right to give 18-
year-olds a right to vote, whether it`s to strike down the poll tax,
whether to ensure the right to vote for African-Americans, Americans have
always sided on expansion of democracy, not a restriction on democracy.
HENDERSON: Chris, he`s absolutely right. I mean, the truth is -- most
Americans when confronted by the facts will support voting rights
protections for all. And I think that this -- what the president has done
is said, look, we`re going to try to enact new changes in the law. We`ll
look to both Democrats and Republican who have treated voting issues as
unique among the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: I just hope we all -- I`m not talking ethically. Vote in all
elections. We all get involved in the exciting elections like president.
You`ve got to vote for state legislature elections. And you`ve got to lose
all these fights. We`ve got to do it. We all had to do it.
MORIAL: You`ve got vote for school board, mayors. Those elections affect
the things that --
MATTHEWS: Reapportionment and gerrymandering. Thank you, gentlemen. You
know the game and the contest and the stakes.
Thank you, Mayor Morial. And thank you, Wade Henderson.
Up next, the latest battle in the Republican civil war between the Tea
Party types and the moderates. Rand Paul is firing back at fellow
Republicans Chris Christie and Peter King for saying, these are his words,
"Gimme, gimme, gimme, give me all my hurricane Sandy money now." Well,
there`s a way to start a fight in Jersey and Staten Island. I`ll tell you.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re back coming back with the latest fight in the Republican
Party. If you`re a Democrat, you`re going to love this fight. It`s a big
one -- left versus right, hawk versus dove.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: I love this fight.
Isolationism versus interventionism, dove versus hawk. Those battle lines
used to be drawn among -- between the two the parties with Republicans
fighting the battle for intervention and war, Democrats lining up against
But the rise of Rand Paul and his isolationist faction of the GOP has
turned the GOP against itself. Late last week, New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie attacked Paul, calling his strain of libertarianism dangerous for
the nation`s security.
Over the weekend, Paul responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The people who the people who want to
criticize me and call names, they`re precisely the same people who are
unwilling to cut the spending, and they`re, "Gimme, gimme, gimme, give me
all my Sandy money now." Those are the people who are bankrupting the
government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.
So I think it`s precisely those people that are making us weak in defense.
I didn`t start this one, and I don`t plan on starting things by criticizing
other Republicans. But if they want to make me the target, they will get
it back in spades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: One makes me think of a high school student council election,
gimme, gimme, gimme.
Anyway, Republican Peter King of New York, a leading hawk in the GOP,
issued a stark warning to the party on CNN`s "STATE OF THE UNION". Here he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: When you have Rand Paul actually comparing
Snowden to Martin Luther King or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness.
This is the anti-war left wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George
McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years. I don`t want that
happening to our party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Love this fight.
Joining me now are two MSNBC political analysts. Neither strong
Republicans from what I can tell. David Corn with "Mother Jones" and
Jonathan Alter, who comes from an old line Democratic family. Anyway, "The
Center Holds" is his great book, beautifully written book by John Alter,
"Obama and His Enemies."
Let me start with you, Jon.
You know, really, it is a fair fight because they`re actually fighting
about important things, about the philosophy of their party -- should it be
a big interventionist international party when all the way from Ike, who
was reasonable about it, all the way to W, who wasn`t reasonable about it.
This is what Rand Paul said three years ago. Here`s on the record here.
"I don`t think there is a reason to go into Iraq." Talk about fighting
words. "I don`t think there was a reason to go into Iraq."
I mean, shove that in the face of Peter King, and you got a fight started.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. This is, for those
people like me who like history, this is back to the future. You know, the
Republican Party was torn apart on these issues around the time of World
War II and afterward.
MATTHEWS: I know.
ALTER: And Robert Taft and other important figures in the Republican Party
were isolationists. And then when Senator Vandenberg of Michigan converted
internationalism, eventually all the rest of the party followed through the
anti-communism days and through the war on terror. But now that coalition
which was very powerful in presidential elections in stigmatizing Democrats
as soft on defense is breaking apart, and these fissures are developing in
the party that are going to be very hard for them to paper over.
MATTHEWS: David, how are they going to go to people in 2016 -- and they
will got to the people. It`s going to be a tough election, you know it`s
going to be close after eight years of the Democrats.
How do they have a platform, which you know is going to be hawkish?
Because it is. It`s written in gold there, and have a party nominee,
perhaps, perhaps Rand Paul who is a total libertarian who is against all of
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It may not be as hawkish as it what
been in the past. The real question here is we know where the GOP
establishment is. You know, we know where the neocons are, where the John
McCains of the world are, Lindsey Graham.
MATTHEWS: But is this a coalition, the ruling coalition?
CORN: That has been the ruling coalition. And they`ve been trying to put
down the mad dogs of isolationism like Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: And Ron Paul before him.
CORN: Remember Rudy Giuliani`s takedown of Ron Paul during the debates.
The question here is, whether Rand Paul, Cruz, or anybody else can take
this to the grassroots of the party and find some faction.
MATTHEWS: Well, where is the grassroots?
CORN: I think they`re kind of split.
MATTHEWS: Are they in a war (INAUDIBLE) right now?
CORN: This is where Chris Christie had made a big mistake. He attacked
Rand Paul`s isolation for being libertarian. Libertarian is a good word to
the Tea Partier --
MATTHEWS: Sure is.
CORN: -- because they apply to government spending and taxing.
So, instead of using isolationism, which is a bad word to a lot of people,
he used a good word.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to Jon on that.
What`s your take on that? Is that the bad way to go? I think Christie
overreached by saying, you`ve got to be hawkish. I don`t think either
party, or any -- very few Americans are hawkish right now that I can see.
ALTER: Right. Well, look what`s going on in the NSA debate. You know,
you a lib-lib thing with liberals on the left and libertarians on the right
getting together, and they will rein in the NSA. That`s almost a done
MATTHEWS: The majority of the polls we`ve been showing on this program, on
HARDBALL, say -- people see Snowden, whatever you think of him personally,
as a whistle-blower, not as a traitor.
ALTER: Right. So, this is a signal, a canary in the mine shaft for the way
the politics of this country are changing quite rapidly, maybe not as
rapidly as on gay marriage. But clearly, privacy is trumping national
security right now in our debate. It`s going to be very, very difficult
for the Republicans to navigate this. And Mitch McConnell has a particular
problem, Chris, because remember, his campaign is being run by Rand Paul`s
MATTHEWS: I can`t wait.
ALTER: -- Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: Stay ready. We`re going to keep doing shows on these guys.
This is the most exciting thing.
And usually, the Democratic Party was the cauldron for these kinds of
debates. Republicans are now having them.
Thank you so much, David Corn.
Good luck with the book, "The Center Holds," Jonathan Alter`s great new
ALTER: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
This evening here in Washington, Israeli and Palestinian officials are
sitting down at the table. It`s the beginning of real negotiations over
the future of the Mideast, negotiations aimed at the creation of an Arab
state alongside the Jewish state.
These are not talks about talks, but the real thing, as outstanding as that
sounds. I give credit to Israel Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for taking
the step needed to make this happen and to Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas for limiting his demands to what the Israeli government was willing
to accept. Both sides have made a choice for talks, real negotiations,
with all the risks they entail.
I often ask myself what I would support if I were a typical Israeli. What
I risk a deal on land to get a peace deal? Would I make concessions if it
meant formal recognition of my country by the many Arab countries in the
We`ll have to see if the deal gets that close. We`ll have to see how far
President Obama will go, how far the Israeli and Arab positions will
converge. Will they get as far as they did when Yasser Arafat pulled the
plug in the last days of the Clinton administration? We`ll have to see.
But tonight as the two sides meet here in the American capital, I salute
those at the table, those who led them to the table, Tzipi Livni and Saeb
Erekat. Those who led them to the table, Bibi Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas,
and Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked hard to get this far. And,
of course, to the president behind the big push, Barack Obama.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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