August 2, 2013
Guests: Marc Klaas, Seema Iyer, Andrew Siff, Michael Grynbaum, Mark Glaze
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Cruz-in` for a bruisin`.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Remember what President Obama said about
the Republicans, about how their endless symbolic votes to kill "Obama
care" -- now part of American law, by the way -- don`t constitute an
economic plan? Well, they didn`t get the word.
Before the Congress left for a five-week vacation today, they had one last
piece of business to attend to. It wasn`t creating jobs. It was another
vote to kill "Obama care." If you`re scoring this at home, it`s the 40th
time the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to repeal, defund or
cripple the president`s health care law.
And like all the others, it is government by tantrum -- meaningless,
meaningless measures, meaningless roll calls, meaningless speeches. As
they say down in Texas, it`s all hat and no cattle.
Republicans are united against "Obama care" when it comes to symbolic votes
like this one, but a warring faction of Tea Party Republicans led by Ted
Cruz of Texas are making a very real threat to shut down the U.S.
government if the law is not killed.
Apparently, the strategy is being lambasted as silly, dumb, unachievable
and actually political suicide. And the people saying those words are not
Democrats, it`s the Republicans in Congress who are saying those things.
And those criticisms are delicate compared to what`s in today`s "Washington
Post." Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative
columnist -- that`s what we call them when we agree with them -- says Cruz
belongs to the loony bin. Quote -- and this is Krauthammer -- "This is
nuts. Every fiscal showdown has rebounded against the Republicans. Those
who fancy themselves Tea Party patriots fighting a sold-out, cocktail-
swilling establishment are demanding yet another cliff dive as a show of
principle and manliness."
"But there`s no principle at stake here. This is about tactics. If I
thought this would work, I would support it, but I don`t fancy suicide. It
has a tendency to be fatal. As for manliness, the real question here is
sanity. Nothing could better revive the fortunes of a failing, flailing,
fading Democratic administration than a government shutdown where the
president is portrayed as standing up to the GOP on honoring our debts and
paying our soldiers in the field.
Wow. Also in "The Washington Post" today, Michael Gerson, who`s a former
George W. Bush speech writer, says quote, "Cruz views this as the last
stand against `Obama care,` a conservative Alamo or Thermopylae. Instead,
it would be a Little Bighorn. Cruz bids to become a Custer for our time.
An actual shutdown of the government, the only realistic outcome of Cruz`s
strategy, would work for conservatives only if voters blamed it on Obama`s
intransigence. So Americans would need to side with a distrusted faction
of a disdained institution which is pursuing a budgetary maneuver that even
many Republican lawmakers regard as aggressive, desperate, doomed."
Wow. What a day this is. Joining us now are two MSNBC political analysts,
David Corn of "Mother Jones" and Sam Stein with the HuffingtonPost.
Sam, what probably brought this to a head? What finally got people like
Gerson and Krauthammer and others, I assume out there over the prairie, to
say we`d better be careful here, if Cruz gets control of the opposition
here of the Republican Party, we may be in trouble?
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTONPOST, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it was the
sheer overtness of it. It wasn`t as if he was trying to set the stage for
a government shutdown. He was sort of actively courting it. And when
you`re trying cast blame on the other side for shutting down the
government, you shouldn`t be the one who says, Let`s do it. And I think
that`s what`s convinced a lot of Republicans that this is a stupid if not
Keep in mind, you also have to look at the actual implications and how this
thing would work. And the Congressional Research Service did that and they
concluded that if you wanted to defund "Obama care," shutting down the
government wouldn`t do it. A lot of this is mandatory spending. It would
continue going on as if nothing had happened.
And so in terms of substance and in terms of strategy, I think a lot of
people just woke up and said, Why exactly are we doing this?
MATTHEWS: Yes, let`s get into the why and (INAUDIBLE) Most times, when you
have a mission -- and Cruz has got a brain -- where`s he headed? Is he up
to that sort of rock-and-roll politics, opposition politics of Newt
Gingrich, which is insurgent politics, if you will? It he trying to scare
us with this, terrorize us? What`s the plan here?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is a
fight between the oppositional insurrectionist wing of the Republican Party
and basically everybody else, whether it`s John McCain in the Senate or
Charles Krauthammer, you know, in the thought leaders on the right.
They`re all kind of bounded (ph) against this.
And this is really about, I think, setting up 2016. We kind of thought
after 2012 and the election results that this part of -- this wing, the Tea
Party radicalized wing of the Republican Party, was certainly not in
ascendance. But Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and others are saying, Hey, this
fight`s not over yet.
And what does politics really abhor? A vacuum. With nothing else
happening in Congress these days, Mike Cruz -- Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and the
others can get a lot of attention by making these threats. If the
Republicans had any real strategy, any real legislative program going on,
they wouldn`t get any traction for this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let`s go back to the numbers here, Sam. It looks to me
like Obama sort of floats around 50 percent, now a little less, but
generally in that area. Maybe it`s 45 now. Congress is down around 8 in
terms of public support.
MATTHEWS: Now, you don`t battle 4 against 45. It`s a killer mission.
It`s 9 to 1 or whatever. I forget the math. It`s overwhelming.
So why would you do it if it`s going to come down to that day when, all of
a sudden, the average person out there can`t go to the national monuments,
they can`t go to the national parks, they can`t get their checks on time or
are threatened with not getting them, and say, Wait a minute, we only have
one president. We may not -- we may not agree with him on many things, but
there`s only one of them. And as for Congress, we don`t want those guys
running the show.
STEIN: Yes. Well, I think twofold. One is that the 8 percent popularity
rating applies to an institution at large, not to the member itself. And
so for a Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul or Marco Rubio--
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s higher than average?
STEIN: Well, I think he feels--
CORN: Back home.
STEIN: -- protected in the state of Texas, sure.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
STEIN: And you know, I think a lot of House members, of course, in a
gerrymandered Congress, certainly feel protected to do things like this and
don`t really need to take into consideration the long-term national
ramifications of what this means to the Republican Party.
But I think also, there`s a bigger issue here, which is that the longer
that this thing, the health care law, is in existence, the harder it is to
repeal. And I`ve been saying this for a while, but 2014`s a big year. A
lot of the benefits come into effect in 2014.
It`s a lot easier to repeal a law in abstract than it is to say to a
person, Hey, I`m going to take away the coverage that you`ve now gotten
through "Obama care." Hey, I`m going to reintroduce discrimination of --
over preexisting conditions.
STEIN: I think a lot of people actually do recognize this and are making
that type of calculation, as well.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at how extreme the opposition is to Obama.
Here`s an example of what Republicans are allied with. You think Cruz is
far out there? At a town hall meeting in Alabama the other day, Republican
representative Martha Roby was confronted by an angry Tea Party constituent
who spouted some pretty awful stuff, accusations about the president. It`s
her response, actually, her lack of it, actually, that`s notable here.
Here`s the back and forth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what I need from you is to know what you can do,
you and your fellow non-communist colleagues in the lower house -- what you
can do to stop these communist tyrannical executive orders laid down by
this foreign-born American-hating communist despot. What can you do for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to know.
REP. MARTHA ROBY (R), ALABAMA: So thank you for your question.
ROBY: He said it loud enough that you all heard it. Look, I can`t
emphasize the oversight part of my job enough. And I think that that gets
lost in what we do every day because that`s exactly what we`re doing, we`re
chasing down these executive orders. We`re chasing down these rules that
are promulgated that are backdoor legislation by agencies, whether it`s the
EPA, the IRS -- go down the list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Sam and David, I`ve been saying for weeks if not
months that the real leader of the Republican Party today is no way is it
CORN: No, no.
MATTHEWS: The real leader of the Republican Party is the loudest crazy
person at the next town meeting that you`ve got to go to if you`re a
Republican member of Congress. That guy with the blond case, that nutcase
that calls the president a foreign-born communist despot, was more powerful
in that room than the member of Congress, who kowtowed to him.
CORN: Well, I--
MATTHEWS: And that is -- if John Boehner had said, Let`s be reasonable,
she would have shouted him down. This guy shouted her down.
CORN: I got to give props to Tim Murphy in my office for reporting this
MATTHEWS: By the way--
CORN: -- (INAUDIBLE) story.
MATTHEWS: "Mother Jones."
CORN: So that was--
CORN: That was very great to jump on that. But it gets to the question
we`ve been talking about. Ted Cruz is not playing for people who are going
to be worried about shutting down the government. He`s playing towards the
Republican base and--
MATTHEWS: The birthers!
CORN: -- an appeal -- an appeal--
MATTHEWS: He was out with Gohmert--
MATTHEWS: -- the other day, Louie Gohmert, one of the wildest of the
CORN: Let me finish this one point. The Pew study -- Foundation came out
with a study the other day asking Republicans, Do you think your party is
going in the right direction or not? And most said no, but 54 percent--
MATTHEWS: Yes, we had it last night.
CORN: -- said they wanted it to be
MATTHEWS: Right wing. Right.
CORN: -- more conservative. So that`s what he`s doing. This is all about
setting up 2016 and becoming the nominee or the champion of the guy who
asked that question.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the great question, Sam. Is more conservative
meaning buying into people who say the president`s foreign-born, he`s an
American-hating communist despot? The irony, of course -- and I`m not
knocking him for this, it`s an accident of birth -- but Ted Cruz is
I mean, I know they take it as a derisive comment. It happens to be an
accident. His mother was up in Canada when she delivered him. But you
know, this right-wing crazy crowd thinks foreign-born is like evil and they
refer to the president being foreign-born, thinking that would somehow
disqualify him, when, in fact, if you have an American mother, you are an
Anyway, your thoughts.
STEIN: Well, there`s not much to add. Yes, he is foreign-born, and yes,
the comment was reprehensible, to the member of Congress.
You know, there are legitimate concerns with what the president did with
the employer mandate, for instance, whether the executive action was, you
know, kosher, so to speak. It has been done before, but I understand the
substantive concerns of that.
But taking the argument to that extreme really is a distraction. It really
is upsetting. And you know, I don`t think it does the party any good.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get back to where we started tonight, is this
craziness, is this extremism, what Charles Krauthammer calls nuttiness,
looniness on the part of people like Cruz, going all the way out there,
saying, We`re going to shut down the government. By the way, we haven`t
gotten to November yet. That`s just the September play.
MATTHEWS: Wait`ll we get to November--
MATTHEWS: -- default and we`re going to stop paying our T bond interest
and the Chinese will go crazy and start asking for their money back. Could
CORN: Well, of course. I mean--
MATTHEWS: Is there a tipping point,where even Obama begins to be serenaded
by the middle of this country as our only hope?
CORN: I think there`s a tipping point. And we saw this with the last
showdown. The Republicans in public opinion polls lost more ground than
did Barack Obama.
But the guys who are forcing this, or trying to force this on the
Republican side don`t care. They -- as I said before, they`re in favor of
chaos, destruction. They want to--
MATTHEWS: That`s different than--
CORN: -- want to be an oppositional force, not a governing force. And
that`s where the civil war is in the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. I think we`re at (ph) it (ph). I love
you getting that tape because it shows a lot. That`s who they`re allied
with, the birthers and the crazies.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. And if that guy wants to come on the show,
the guy who said about -- those things about the president, come on. We`d
like to talk to you.
Coming up: Cable TV went wall to wall with its coverage yesterday of Ariel
Castro in court. What a scene that was. But a lot of people were asking,
why was a man who has admitted his monstrous guilt allowed his big moment
in the spotlight? That`s a good question we`re get to right away.
And also, the racial divide we saw in the George Zimmerman trial is
reflected in how people think about the "stand your ground" law. Whites
support it by exactly the same measure that African-Americans oppose it. I
think it`s all tied into this trial. It`s obvious that that`s the case.
And you`ve seen him countless times in beer ads, "the most interesting man
in the world." Well, now the man behind the "most interesting man" ads is
out there doing something, well, interesting. He looks interesting.
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a jobless rate that`s down but not enough.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is ominous. The State Department`s closing U.S.
embassies and consulates across the Arab world this weekend due to an
unspecified terror threat linked to al Qaeda. Embassies and consulates in
17 countries across North Africa and the Middle East will be closed on
Sunday, which is a regular workday in the Muslim world. And some may be
closed longer than that.
A State Department spokesperson says the embassies are being closed out of
an abundance of caution.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. Yesterday in a courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio, we saw
two extremes. On the one hand, there was a composed and brave young woman
-- there she is -- Michelle Knight, facing the monster who enslaved her for
over a decade. On the other hand, we saw the monster himself, Ariel
Castro, ramble on for 16 minutes with excuses and half-hearted apologies.
Amazingly, even as he apologized to the women, he insisted what went on in
his house of horrors was normal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARIEL CASTRO, CAPTOR: I would come home and just be normal, like a normal
family. These accusations that I would come home and beat her, beat them -
- those are totally wrong, your honor, because like I said before, I am not
a violent person. I know what I did is wrong, but I`m not a violent
person. I simply kept them there without them being able to leave.
I am truly sorry to the DeJesus family, Michelle and Amanda. You guys know
a lot of harmony went on in that home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t think those lawyers like him, either.
Well, as the judge later told him, the prisoner there, there isn`t another
person in the entire country who would agree with his description of being
But what was it like for Michelle Knight, the victim, and the families of
the other victims to sit in that courtroom and listen to their torturer
speak like that? Someone who knows that kind of pain all too well is Marc
Klaas, a good guy. In 1996, Klaas was in the court for the sentencing of
his 12-year-old daughter`s convicted murderer.
As the murderer addressed the court, he used part of the time to taunt
Klaas with a vile accusation. Here we see how Klaas reacted. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Burn in hell, Davis!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, why do monsters like Davis and Ariel Castro just yesterday
get to taunt victims and their families? Why do we not object or the
lawyers not object yesterday to any part of Castro`s 16-minute self-
Marc Klaas joins us now -- he`s the founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation --
along with former prosecutor and defense attorney Seema Iyer. Thank you
Marc, it`s always an honor to have you on, sir. What did you think
watching -- I guess you watched it on television yesterday, as Castro, the
kidnapper, rapist, whatever, killer, murderer -- he is all of them --
walked in there and spoke like he was Jeremiah, that he had some big
message for everybody?
KLAAS: It was absolutely and completely offensive. I really, Chris,
physically started shaking because it took me right back to that time 17
years ago, when I sat in a courtroom and had to listen to another extreme
pervert excuse and justify his vile crimes. It was an affront to humanity,
MATTHEWS: Well, let me bring in Seema. You`re an attorney. Why do they
let -- I noticed that the victim, Michelle, the other day -- she was very
careful. She addressed the court. She spoke to the judge in reading that
statement. But id the defendant here -- he`s already been convicted now --
- was able to turn around 360 degrees and basically enjoy the confrontation
with his victim?
SEEMA IYER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Chris, a psychopath and a sociopath and
someone narcissistic, of course he wants this attention. And
unfortunately, our law recognizes that. There are certain critical stages
in the process, and this is what case law and statute tells us.
So this sentencing is one of those critical stages. He has the right to
speak and he has the right to speak as long or as little as he wants. The
difference between Mr. Castro and Ms. Knight is that Ms. Knight was well
prepared by the prosecutors and probably her lawyer. Plaintiff Castro, as
you could see from those defense attorneys -- and Chris, you know, for the
audience, this was kind of an aberration, not something that they`re used
to see. For me--
MATTHEWS: Well, could there -- well, let`s just watch him now in action,
Mr. Castro, Ariel Castro. I don`t have to call him "Mr." anymore -- Ariel
Castro here winking sort of at the judge in a prayerful position. After
enjoying eye contact with everybody in the room, he talks about -- to the
court about the sex with the three victims was consensual, he said, that
they asked for it. It`s that gross. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASTRO: Most of the sex that went on in the house (INAUDIBLE) all of it
was consensual. These allegations about being forceful on them -- that is
totally wrong, because there was times that they would even ask me for sex.
Many times. And I learned that these girls was not virgins from their
testimony to me. They had multiple partners before me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Marc Klaas, I guess that resounded to you, they asked for it, as
if tied up or chained in a basement for a decade, getting only your food
from this guy, the only food you got, scared to death he`s going to come
down and beat you or rape you again or kill your kid or whatever or drive
you to a miscarriage or whatever he`s going to do next to you, that`s
called nonviolent by his terms and that`s called asking for it?
KLAAS: Well, you know, I mean, the only good result of his being allowed
to give this testimony is that it gave us a window into exactly what his
soul is like.
He talked about a harmonious relationship within that house. Well, for
him, a harmonious situation is one where he gets to imprison, gets to rape,
gets to beat, and gets to the torture multiple victims. That shows you
exactly how evil and horrible this creature really is.
IYER: I agree.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take -- go ahead. Go ahead.
IYER: I agree completely with Mr. Klaas.
And Mr. Klaas, because of his own tragedy, he understands that this person
-- Chris, you`re trying to talk about him like you can connect with him.
You cannot connect with him. He is a sociopath. And that is not my
opinion. That is a clinical fact from almost 20 years of dealing with
people like Mr. Castro.
So you cannot try to explain why he did what he did. In his mind, that was
harmonious. In his mind, that was a home. For us, it is evil. We had the
opportunity and the unfortunate predicament to look at evil in the eye.
And, hopefully, we will never see this man again.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me about court procedure. And maybe Mark knows this,
too, but you first, Seema.
Is it within the bounds of an attorney for the victims there to call to
order that moment and say you cannot talk about--
MATTHEWS: You can`t shut the guy up?
IYER: No, you can`t shut the guy up.
And, OK, so just to be clear, the attorneys for the victims, they are civil
attorneys that were doing some just kind of I think damage control. OK?
But the prosecution represents the state, who represents the victim in that
proceeding that we saw yesterday, in sentencing.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see.
IYER: Now, you absolutely cannot cut him off because, again, going back
under the Constitution, this is a critical stage of the process.
But, Chris, it`s very important that most people did not pick up on that
when he starred saying things about consent, that he wasn`t torturing them,
that he wasn`t a sexual predator, he was bordering on violating the terms
of the plea agreement. And if it wasn`t such a highly publicized case, I`m
telling you, Chris, most judges in this land may not have taken that plea.
This may have all been for naught.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take it back to the real world, the horrific world in
which the woman herself was captive -- captured in. Here`s Michelle Knight
talking about what it was really like in the captivity of this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING VICTIM: Ariel Castro, I remember all the times
that you came home talking about what everybody else did wrong and act like
you wasn`t doing the same thing. You said, "At least I didn`t kill you,"
for -- you took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back.
I spent 11 years in hell, and now your hell is just beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mark, you have been helping out Michelle Grant -- tell --
Michael Knight. Tell me about that relationship that you helped with her.
KLAAS: Well, sure.
About six months ago, the Klaas Kids Foundation started a new fund called
the Klaas Family Housing Fund, and it was the brainchild of a local real
estate lady named Tracy McLaughlin, who wanted to do something in her field
to help the families of missing persons.
So we came up with this idea of funding this -- this new fund to be able to
pay to the families of missing persons so that they wouldn`t slip into
financial ruin as they were looking for their children, but then all of
this business happened in Cleveland and it turned out that Michelle was one
of the three young women that didn`t really have a family to go back to.
So we made the decision to take the money that was in the fund, which was
about $6,000, and donate it directly to Michelle for the express purpose of
allowing her to pay for her living expenses.
MATTHEWS: Marc Klaas, it`s always an honor to have you on the show. And I
hope you can proceed with your effort to get justice, and not just in your
case, but as much as you can get in your lifetime, after what you have been
Thank you, sir, for coming on.
Seema Iyer, it`s great to have you on the show.
We will be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
It was an accidental slip of the tongue that reaffirmed one of the worst
stereotypes of the backcountry. U.S. congressman Jo Bonner of -- of
Alabama, actually, recalled an embarrassing story during his farewell
speech in the House yesterday afternoon.
Here he was explaining how he once mixed up the word insects with the word
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JO BONNER (R) ALABAMA: I said, you know we have a real problem with
incest in South Alabama.
BONNER: I said, in fact, I would venture a guess that we have more
problems with incest in my district in Alabama than in any other
congressional district in America.
BONNER: So I got back to my office thinking I had delivered one of the
best speeches on insects ever made.
BONNER: And my staff said, Jo, in about two minutes, you just reinforced
in the minds of all Americans what we have a problem with in South Alabama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, next up -- that`s an honest guy.
Next up, he`s the most interesting man in the world, at least on TV, that
is. Since his first appearance on American television back in 2006, the
Dos Equis man has become an advertising icon. Most are familiar with the
bearded gentleman`s feats of strength, daring adventures and debonair
But the actor who plays this Hemingway-esque character, Jonathan Goldsmith,
has taken on another real-life after. He`s joined Clear Path
International, an organization that aids survivors of land mine and bomb
accidents. Here he is in Vietnam talking about the group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN GOLDSMITH, ACTOR: These are live bombs. In a moment or two,
we`re going to blow them up.
I`m here in Vietnam to meet with bomb accident survivors being helped by a
very special group, Clear Path International. Sadly, millions of bombs
left over from that conflict continue to maim and kill men, women and
Mines advisory group was kind enough to let me detonate two large piles of
bombs. It felt good to hit that switch and remove these threats forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So wouldn`t you like to have dinner tonight with the world`s
most interesting man?
Anyway, up next, interesting in another way, Anthony Weiner, actually,
well, will he bounce back in the New York mayor`s race? He`s certainly
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jane Wells with your CNBC "Market
The Dow up 30, the S&P added two, and the Nasdaq gained 13. July`s jobs
report came in weaker than expected with only 162,000 jobs added, but it
was enough for the unemployment rate to drop to 7.4 percent. Consumer
spending ended up about a half-a-point in June boosted by car sales and
higher gas pries. Shares of LinkedIn up nearly 11 percent after posting
better quarterly results and increased membership.
And in just the last few minutes, in a spat between Time Warner Cable and
CBS, Time Warner Cable has pulled down CBS programming in major markets
like New York and Los Angeles. In fact, that is the monitor right behind
me you`re seeing, no CBS here in L.A.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The Weiner mobile rolls on. The twice-disgraced New York mayoral candidate
has endured a political beating from all sides. His campaign manager quit
this week. He went from top dog to fourth in the polls. His
communications chief has been lambasted as a foul-mouthed -- for her foul-
mouthed rant. And the Clintons are wisely keeping their distance. Have
But if you think Weiner will shrink from the New York spotlight, forget
about it. After a campaign event this morning, he engaged in a round-robin
series of interviews with local media, including WNBC`s Andrew Siff.
Weiner struck a defiant tone, as you might expect, with Siff when asked
about his issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: You can if you want use
this entire interview to talk about the scandal, try to come up with some
new form of the question.
You can try some new formulation. Did you see this? Did you see that?
Look, I know it`s out there. I did these things. I`m embarrassed by them.
I`m trying to put them behind me. I want to put them -- I want going
forward to have a conversation with citizens about what they care about.
I mean, if you really think that this is what people get up in the morning
in Lincoln Houses is concerned about, if you think that a middle-class
person who is trying to figure out why the public school they went to is
not as good as it used to be, if you think that someone who lost their
full-time middle-class job and now has a restaurant wage job cares about
the cover of "The New Yorker," of all things, I think you might be wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the campaign rolls on, of course, you can see, and New
York loves an underdog. Can he make it in the debates later this month?
Can he pull a comeback? Could that be his turning point, the debates? As
they say, every dog has his day. Right?
Well, Andrew Siff is the reporter from WNBC who interviewed Weiner today.
And Michael Grynbaum is a reporter for "The New York Times."
Gentlemen, let me just pose something for the prosecution here. If you go
into an interview with WNBC today, you know they`re going to talk about a
scandal which has rocked you from first place down to fourth place.
Otherwise, you -- if you don`t want to talk about, you don`t do the
interview. You don`t into the interview and try to write the fricking
questions, as well as the answers. That`s my thought.
I`m the business. We write the questions. They write the answers. If you
think the question`s coming, don`t go into the situation.
Your thoughts, Andrew?
ANDREW SIFF, WNBC REPORTER: Oh, Chris, he knew the question was coming.
And, in fact, keep in mind it was their campaign that reached out to us and
to the other affiliates offering up the one-on-one interview.
So I think he wanted to send a message today that he was going to at least
try and declare the scandal over and move on. I think he`s very realistic
and knows that that won`t happen, but he wanted to take a more combative
tone today and to send a message that that`s the fiery persona, the Anthony
Weiner that people remember from Congress and that the message he wanted to
send out today.
MATTHEWS: How successful will he be? Can you measure this? What he`s
done is try to personify himself as the people of New York. It`s not that
he`s embarrassed them, which he has, and embarrassed the city`s name. I`m
telling you more coming the Republicans the next couple of years on this,
especially if he does well in the primary.
But he said, no, I`m not the guy that`s embarrassed New York. I`m New
York. I`m over here, the guy watching this thing. It`s one of these old
political transformations where you reposition yourself not as the guy
causing all the trouble, but as somehow you`re the trouble, the media, and
he is just some New Yorker trying to get his apartment fixed.
SIFF: Well, he`s walking an fine line.
He campaigned on Staten Island on Friday of last week and a retired
schoolteacher come up to him and said if she had done what he had done, she
would have been fired. But, by the same token, he`s been getting a warm
reception in his old congressional district in Queens and he`s been
campaigning on much safer ground this week.
He has been getting applause. He has been finding that crowds will listen
to his message, but it`s been a little bit of a delicate balance out there.
He knows there are some New Yorkers who are truly disgusted by his behavior
and haven`t moved beyond it. He says, that`s OK; I think there are enough
other New Yorkers who know my name, know my record who will vote for me.
MATTHEWS: Well, in a wide primary, that makes sense, Michael, a wide
primary. What`s he need to get into the runoff, 35, 40?
MICHAEL GRYNBAUM, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No. I mean, he could score
somewhere in the low 20s even and make it into the second part, because
it`s such a splintered field this year.
You would have to beat out Thompson, who never seems to get above 20, so
you would have to squeak above Thompson, go in against Quinn, and he
wouldn`t be able to beat her, would he?
GRYNBAUM: I don`t think so.
But you got to think about his priorities going into this race. Everything
breaks his way, he becomes mayor of New York City. But, more
realistically, he has a respectable showing in the polls. He brings back
his credibility as a politician who can go on TV, have a job in and out of
government. Right now, he`s back to square one.
MATTHEWS: So, he`s bathing himself -- he`s using the public at subway
stops and on media interviews to bathe himself of his troubles.
In other words, the more exposure, which has always been his game anyway,
exposure -- the more exposure he gets with us, it sort of cleans him, this
air bath he`s taking right now. So, at the end of it all, he comes out
second or third or even a strong fourth, and he can claim he`s back in
business, Michael. I`m a politician.
GRYNBAUM: I think that`s the goal.
But the thing is, he`s back to square one after this second round of
revelations surfaced last week. He`s going to have a lot of trouble. This
is apology tour part three. And we`re saying -- seeing him go through the
same script that we saw--
MATTHEWS: There`s no reason to believe it`s cleaned up either, is there?
MATTHEWS: The only thing we know about him is what somebody has found out
about him and told us. He`s never come clean.
SIFF: Well, I did ask him about that today, Chris.
SIFF: I asked him, when was the last time he sent an explicit message of
any time? And he said it was a year ago, that it was not past September of
last year and it was the first time he really put a time stamp on things.
But he said--
MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s creeping. It was August two days ago.
SIFF: Well, he said--
MATTHEWS: And now it`s September.
OK. Go ahead.
SIFF: He said, August, maybe early September, definitely not November,
definitely 100 percent not 2013. And he also said 100 percent not, he is
100 percent not sexting or messaging with anyone right now.
So he was more declarative about that than he has been in the past.
MATTHEWS: You realize, don`t you, Andrew, and you`re at young age, how
absurd this conversation is?
SIFF: Not as young as I look, Chris. I`ve been covering Anthony Weiner
for 12 years.
MATTHEWS: I want to tell you something -- you`re talking about the guy
that wants not to be forgiven, not to be left alone on the corner without
people spitting on him, but to be made New York -- the mayor of the
greatest city in the world. That`s what he wants as his acceptance here.
It isn`t to be forgiven, it`s to be crowned for what he`s done.
SIFF: And he actually tried -- he tried a new argument this week at some
of the mayoral forums which is you see the pounding I`ve been taking in the
media, and I`m still standing up here and taking it. That is a quality you
want in your mayor.
SIFF: That`s a new argument that he has tried out this week on the crowds.
It`s an applause line.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this. Let`s talk about associations.
I`ve always said, I`m not a New Yorker. I love this city. I love going up
But does New York want their name associated with this guy like in an
eight-year situation kind of thing if he wins?
Weiner was asked point blank, here`s something I don`t think he wants to be
associated with him, Hillary Clinton. He was asked and here`s what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WEINER (D), NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I have no reason to believe
she`s annoyed. I`ve got pundits saying it means this or that. They don`t
know what they`re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you think a man politically smart enough to get elected to
Congress doesn`t know that Hillary is, the relationship is being abused by
MICHAEL GRYNBAUM, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think the mantra in Clinton
world right now is protect the brand. You see the most trusted adviser to
Hillary Clinton, Philippe Reines, has started playing a role in the Weiner
campaign advising his wife whether to appear in a commercial.
So, there`s tea leaves suggesting there`s concern in the Clinton camp.
MATTHEWS: What can they do about it?
GRYNBAUM: Well, they`re sending in their representatives, but this is kind
of the Kremlinology of the Clinton world. It`s sort of unclear who`s
interests are being expressed here.
So, Mr. Reines is a very good of friend of Ms. Abedin`s, who is something
of a little sister to the Clinton world. He says he`s mostly just trying
to mitigate the fallout for her and make sure he can help a friend through
a difficult time.
But, of course, right after he talk to -- or right around the time that he
talked to Ms. Abeden, before she came out at the press conference last
week, he called Mrs. Clinton to let her know what was about to happen.
MATTHEWS: OK. Fifteen years the Clintons have had a clean record without
embarrassments like this. They`ve done a good job of working at it.
They`ve cleaned up their act. They get all the credit for that.
And this comes along and reminds everybody of the whole problem. I don`t
think it`s helpful to anybody. I don`t think it`s going to hurt in the
end, but I can`t believe they`re not going to think it does.
Andrew Siff, thank you so much. And thank you, Michael Grynbaum, for
Up next, the racial divide in America --blacks and whites in complete
disagreement over "Stand Your Ground" laws. We understand why. Let`s talk
Why would two groups in America disagree so much about a point of law?
This is supposed to be just to all.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the United States of America may not be loved everywhere
on the planet but we`re still loved in a lot of places very much so. Here
are the top five countries that view America most favorably.
Number five: Kenya, as the Brits would say Kenya. Number four: Senegal in
West Africa. Number three: Ghana in West Africa. That`s three African
countries in the row in the top five. Israel. And, of course, the country
with the highest percentage of people who view us favorably, the
Philippines, where 85 percent say they`ve got a favorable view of our
Now, the countries who don`t like us, who view us unfavorably. No
surprise, they`re all in the Middle East. Number five: Turkey, only one in
five views America favorably over there. Number four: I hate to see this,
Egypt. Number three: the Palestine territories. Number two is Jordan.
Number one: Pakistan, where 11 percent view us favorably.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And for those who resist
that idea that we should think about something like these "Stand Your
Ground" laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age
and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we
actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman
who had followed had him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the
answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we
might want to examine those kinds of laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a law professor talking there and a good one.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was President Obama responding to the George Zimmerman verdict. That
was the day on the day he did that and there he was proposing the changes
in your "Stand Your Ground" law. The president`s proposing it especially I
think in Florida. He must be talking about that one.
The racial divide we saw during the Zimmerman trial is reflected in how
African-Americans and white people view "Stand Your Ground" laws today.
The Quinnipiac Poll just released -- a new poll that showed that 57
percent, three out of five, African-Americans oppose such laws while only
37 percent support them. The numbers are reversed when you look at the
Joining us right now is Mark Glaze, the executive director of Mayors
Against Illegal Guns, and "The Washington Post`s" Jonathan Capehart.
Jonathan, I want to talk to you, because I think you and I agree on a lot
of this. We live in this city or close to it, we don`t like guns
generally, and the hands of people walking up and down the street. I wish
there was -- without invading anyone`s civil liberties, some way you could
tell if they had a gun, without offending anybody.
I don`t want any guns on the street. I don`t want guns in the movie
theaters. I don`t want guns in the restaurants. I don`t want them near
Ideally, like in the Old West where you leave your guns at the city limits.
But we don`t live in that world. We live in a world where the people might
mug you, people might get a fight with you somewhere, someone might have a
gun in their car.
Let`s start with the racial piece of this. Is this going to be an historic
divide? Because there is already a polarized view about guns generally, as
you and I know.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Right.
MATTHEWS: African-Americans, like -- they live in cities, a lot of them.
They look upon guns as a problem.
Well, I mean, I`m not surprised by the Quinnipiac poll and the racial
divide and even the political divide that it shows. This comes, remember,
three weeks almost to the day after George Zimmerman was acquitted. And
was acquitted --
MATTHEWS: And the only time you heard that phrase used.
CAPEHART: Right, right. And even though George Zimmerman in his defense
didn`t use a "Stand Your Ground" defense, what people have to remember is
that the language of the self-defense law in Florida is the "Stand Your
Ground" law. When you look at the jury instructions, it is identical to
the Florida law.
So, of course, African-Americans who are very upset by the Zimmerman
acquittal of course are going to look at "Stand Your Ground" as a law that
they just can`t possibly support.
MATTHEWS: Let`s just do it for people that are trying to figure this out
like me, I`m not a law. What is the difference between standard ideas of
self-defense, like we learned in old cowboys movies or our life, you`re
allowed to defend your life against serious bodily ground. How is that
different from "Stand Your Ground"?
MARK GLAZE, MAYOR AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, part of the reason we don`t
like "Stand Your Ground" laws very much is that they`re pretty much
redundant in what you already do under common law for about 400 years.
Right now, if I go out in the parking lot and I`m leaving and I`m attacked,
I`m allowed to use commensurate force.
The aspect, the changes, has been, if I can deescalate the situation, I`m
required to do that. If I can talk them down, if I can walk back into the
building, I got to do that. And you want that in a society.
MATTHEWS: How do you know -- in a schoolyard fight, and I -- we were in
them, we`ve done in school.
MATTHEWS: And a guy wants to punch you a couple times to get you to say
uncle, you lost, you won. He didn`t try -- he is not trying to kill you.
He just wants to win the fight.
GLAZE: That`s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: How do you know when wanting to win the fight, the matter of
manhood, which guys grew up with, becomes I want to kill you or beat the
hell out of you?
GLAZE: One way is to look at studies they`ve done in Florida is how this
actually impacts real cases. In more than 30 percent of the cases where
"Stand Your Ground" law was asserted and somebody ended up dying, they
didn`t even have a gun.
MATTHEWS: Well, that is -- what was the circumstance generally?
GLAZE: Well, very often, somebody will come at you. They might want to
have a fistfight. They might come at you with an ax handle and somebody
with a gun shot you did. Now, where I come from --
MATTHEWS: Would you consider the guy with the ax handle armed or not?
GLAZE: Well, not with a gun.
MATTHEWS: No, would you call him -- well, I call him armed.
GLAZE: Well, I have a word for him, I have a word for him. I grew up in
Colorado where my dad was a gun dealer, and a guy who shoots somebody who
has anything other than a gun when they could have done something else like
talk or fight with their fists --
MATTHEWS: Well, how do you talk to a guy with an ax handle? How do you
talk to a guy with an ax handle?
GLAZE: Well, you fight him. You run away. You deescalate the situation.
I mean, that`s the way it was.
CAPEHART: But here is where the scales are tipped in favor of the person
with the gun who decides he or she wants to stand his ground. And that is
the way the law is written, it says if the person who uses the deadly force
reasonably believes that they are in danger of bodily harm or death, that`s
where "Stand Your Ground" becomes to my mind insane.
How do you -- how do you determine that? How do you define?
MATTHEWS: Well, find me a case. Skip the Zimmerman case. It`s too hot.
Give me a case where you think somebody unreasonably claimed fear of death
or bodily harm when they shouldn`t be able to do that.
GLAZE: I would say the Zimmerman case.
MATTHEWS: Well, I go back, then that gets to the question do you believe
his testimony or not?
GLAZE: Well, if you look at -- I don`t want to give you a specific case.
MATTHEWS: The issues of fact.
GLAZE: But if you look at the same study of the "Stand Your Ground" law in
Florida, in more than 60 percent of the cases, the person who shot and
asserted that defense could have clearly walked away or otherwise
deescalated the situation, and they chose not to.
CAPEHART: And, Chris, in the Zimmerman case, there were many opportunities
for George Zimmerman to deescalate. He could have identified himself as a
neighborhood watch person. He could have asked Trayvon Martin, who are
you? Are you lost? Are you staying here?
There are a number of opportunities where George Zimmerman could have
MATTHEWS: That`s problem I had with it. Not that everybody has been
right. I agree with everybody about the way he behaved, shouldn`t have
gotten out of the car, shouldn`t have had a gun, all that stuff. Shouldn`t
have approached the guy, all that stuff.
But what we don`t know is the critical aspect of what happened in those
minutes before he was shot. We don`t know what the (INAUDIBLE) between the
two guys. Was his head smashed in? How many times? How close was he to
serious being knocked out?
We don`t know. It`s all in that area of reasonable doubt. And I think
that`s why they acquitted him.
GLAZE: That`s the problem with `Stand Your Ground", because rather than an
investigation that the police conduct and a prosecution based on the facts,
you get this presumption in the favor of people who --
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re the lawyer here. What would be the presumption if
you just had standard self-defense?
GLAZE: You would -- they would have to prove that within a reasonable
doubt, they had reason to act in the way that they did. And this tips the
scales on behalf of people who shoot.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming on.
MATTHEWS: Have a nice weekend.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris. You too.
MATTHEWS: Mark, thank you for coming on. You`ll all be back again. This
issue is not going away.
Let me finish tonight -- or start the finish, let`s talk about the jobless
rate coming down. We`ll talk about it. It`s pretty good news for Obama
today, dropped a lot, almost three or four points since he came into
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
We got word today that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.4 percent.
This marks close to a three point drop since the high joblessness of this
president`s inaugural year in office. In other words, the situation he
At the risk of ranting, I still think this president, being a Democrat,
needs to focus on jobs, right here -- on employment, putting people to
He began to do that this week -- offering the Republicans, I think, a good
deal, a good one-on-one deal. He`d cut the corporate tax rate dramatically
for manufacturing if the Republicans would back his proposal to get busy on
this country`s road and bridges, matching growth in private sector jobs
with those in the public.
This is where we have to go as a country -- rebuilding for the 21st century
-- getting back in the competition with Europe and Asia for a modern
The job now is to stick to this proposal, Mr. President, keep the pressure
on the other side, show that Republicans are the roadblock to greater job
creation. They are the ones holding up a full-blown recovery.
That`s what I think. That`s what I`m going to keep on saying. The jobless
rate is down -- but not enough. We need to go at this with both fists,
private and public, and do it soon -- soon enough to get this recovery
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
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.>