August 5, 2013
Guests: John Feehery, A.B. Stoddard, Bob Nightengale, Marc Malusis
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Warning.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. A dozen years ago this month, the United
States of America received a sharp warning, "Bin Laden determined to strike
in U.S." That message was delivered to the president directly. A month
later, this country was hit harder than at any time since Pearl Harbor.
Well, without blaming George W. Bush for failing to act sufficiently to
that warning of August 6th, 2001, should anyone blame this president and
his people for acting in time this time?
Joining me tonight from Cairo, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard
Engel, and with us from New York, MSNBC terrorist analyst Evan Kohlmann.
Let me start with this. NBC is reporting now the intelligence behind the
worldwide terrorist alert this week was an intercepted communication
between the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the leader of
al Qaeda central over in Pakistan, the man who succeeded Osama bin Laden,
Ayman al Zawahiri.
Well, the two men reportedly agreed -- the one in Pakistan and the one in
Yemen -- that they wanted to do something big timed to the end of the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is right now. And that`s what led the
United States to close 19 embassies -- there they are on the map -- and
consulates in the Mideast and Africa.
There`s still a lot that remains unknown, including which target. Over the
weekend, one thing that is clear from every lawmaker and official with
knowledge of the attack, nobody`s crying wolf here. This is one of the
most serious threats in years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR: Been an
awful lot of chatter out there. Chatter means conversation among
terrorists about the planning that`s going on, very reminiscent of what we
saw pre-9/11. This is the most serious threat that I`ve seen in the last
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We need to know and
realize we`re living in an increasingly dangerous world. And this specific
threat that we`ve been briefed on over and over again has reached a new
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I must say, this is probably one of the
most specific and credible threats I`ve seen perhaps since 9/11 because of
the specificity, because of where it`s coming from, the credibility of it,
the level of chatter. It seems to be a fairly large operation.
REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D-MD), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We`ve
received information that high-level people from al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula are talking about a major attack. And these are people on a high
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Richard Engel, this cuts to the very heart of the question which
the two parties in this country have been debating for years. Is al Qaeda
still whole, or is it a group of atomized, separate units? Now we hear
today just a few moments ago that the key to this intercept was the
communication between al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which we thought
was independent, and al Qaeda central in Pakistan under Zawahiri, the heir
to bin Laden.
Is it one big organization, or is it a bunch of separate groups that sort
of say, We`re al Qaeda-ish?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It is a bunch of different organizations
that are linked through key individuals. What we saw in this case was
perhaps the world`s most dangerous man, the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al
Zawahiri, who replaced Osama bin Laden to lead the world`s most dangerous
terrorist organization, its most aggressive -- the aggressive terrorist
group, calling his most capable assassin, the leader of the al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula branch. His name is Nasir al Wuhayshi (ph).
So when you have the leader of a big organization, al Qaeda central,
calling his most dangerous assassin and telling him to do something big,
not only is it a big problem for the United States and one that should be
taken seriously, but it also shows the linkages that still do exist between
the al Qaeda organization in Pakistan, bin Laden`s old organization, and
some of the key players that are spread across the organization -- across
the regional affiliates, if you will.
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the man who was ordered to carry out this big attack, at
one stage was considered a possible successor to bin Laden. He fought
himself in Tora Bora. He considered himself an equal to bin Laden, not
just someone who was subservient to him. So they have a long history. And
he runs a branch, but he runs a very powerful branch.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Evan Kohlmann for analysis, as well. Evan, give me
your sense of what this tells us, the fact that al Qaeda central still is
central in Pakistan, where we killed bin Laden. Here`s the successor to
bin Laden giving an order to the guys in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,
saying, I want some action.
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, look, I think it`s important
to focus here on something that Rich just said, which is that this
relationship is not a new one. Nasir al Wuhayshi fought in Afghanistan.
He was a personal aide to bin Laden. This is someone who`s had a personal
relationship with the senior al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and
Pakistan for years. So he`s exactly the kind of person that al Qaeda
central leadership would call upon to do something like this.
Now, the question is whether or not AQAP has the resources to carry out an
attack, and what kind of attack that is. They`ve tried twice now to strike
at the United States homeland. Both times they came close, but they
failed. So I guess the thinking is now that they`re going to --
MATTHEWS: Give me the times.
KOHLMANN: -- try to go after a more reachable target.
MATTHEWS: Give me the times. Remind us.
KOHLMANN: Oh, sorry. There was, of course, the underwear bomb plot, where
you Omar Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national, who tried detonating the
explosive in his underwear, and of course, the cargo bomb plot --
MATTHEWS: OK --
KOHLMANN: -- where AQAP tried putting actual bombs inside cargo planes
headed to the United States. Both of those failed, but not by much.
And the question is, have they now restructured their targeting? Are they
going after targets that are easier to go after, i.e. U.S. embassies in
places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, et cetera?
MATTHEWS: Do they have a global reach, the al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula? Do they have a global reach, the guy who`s been hired or
assigned this job of terrorism --
KOHLMANN: Absolutely. Absolutely. If you had any question about that,
look at their propaganda. They put their propaganda out not just in Arabic
but in English. They have an entire magazine, "Inspire" magazine, which is
in English, which is designed to reach out to an American audience and
convince Americans to join al Qaeda.
And what`s more is, is that there is at least some evidence that they might
have succeeded in this because guess where the Boston bombers learned how
to build their explosive devices? At least partially through AQAP`s
"Inspire" magazine, something that al Qaeda was very happy to note
following the Boston bombings.
So the answer is, yes, they do have a reach outside of Yemen. They do have
a reach inside the United States. There have been a number of Americans
that have tried joining al Qaeda the Arabian Peninsula. There are people
that still to this day are trying to travel (ph) join al Qaeda in Yemen
from the United States. So there`s a reason for concern here. It`s not
just an abstract threat.
MATTHEWS: Richard Engel, according to what you`ve been able to find out --
if we could show that map again of the embassies and the consulates which
have been shut down for the rest of the week. There they are. Is that
what we believe in the United States government is the extent of their
range right now, the range of possibilities, at least, or probabilities of
a terrorist attack?
ENGEL: I think probabilities. It is also perhaps a limit of what the
United States can do. What we understood was that there was this order
from the leader of al Qaeda telling his top assassin to carry out something
And the United States can order its embassies to close. It can increase
security around its consulates. It can`t close American businesses. It
can`t tell American schools that operate in Egypt and many countries what
they should do. It can only advise them. So I think we`re only seeing
part of what this organization could do.
You asked a question earlier -- there are small al Qaeda wannabe cells in
parts of Africa, even here in Egypt, that don`t really have much
association with al Qaeda central. They just raise a black flag and try
and use the name to try and scare people.
That is not the case in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This is a key
group that is linked historically and through some family ties, as well,
directly back to the top al Qaeda leadership.
It also has -- and this is something that I`m surprised hasn`t come out
yet, but what Evan was just talking about -- a particular interest in the
airline industry. This group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been
trying to build better bombs to get through airport security to bring down
It developed the underwear bomb so it could go through metal detectors
because the underwear bomb doesn`t have any metal in it. Now the group is
working on trying to get surgically implanted bombs which could get through
those even more intrusive body-scanning technologies that have been put in
airports. It is a dangerous group. It is not a group of wannabes.
MATTHEWS: I want to go to the politics at home about this, and the
reaction, because it is bipartisan. But first of all, back to you, Evan.
This is frightening. I know someone at TSA, and I`m trying to find out
what I can about this surgically implanted. According to one report I read
months ago, if somebody looks like they`ve had recent surgery or even looks
like they`re in bad health, they really give them a close check at the
KOHLMANN: Yes, they do. And I think the good news here is, is that this
kind of device or this kind of operation is extremely difficult to do. And
in the past, there have been some experiments in this regard, and whoever
it was they experimented on, whether it was animals or humans, they didn`t
live too long. It`s not very easy to put a foreign object inside of
someone and have them live, you know, in perpetuity.
So I think the answer is, is it`s not easy. But unfortunately, al Qaeda is
putting a lot of effort into this. And it`s not just AQAP, either. We`ve
just seen generally on al Qaeda communications networks people talking
about this idea and reflecting on whether or not it`s possible, what would
be required, and whether or not even homegrown extremists are capable of
doing something like this.
MATTHEWS: So TSAs around the world should be on the lookout for somebody
who says, My friend here is very ill. Let me help him aboard. They should
be aware of that situation, as well.
KOHLMANN: I think it`s a fair thing to say that if someone has had this
kind of surgery, they`re probably not in the greatest physical condition
MATTHEWS: And they shouldn`t be on an airplane in any case.
Anyway, Congressman Peter King, a guy we keep an eye on here, is a
Republican. He`s chair of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and
Intelligence. He said the threat lacked specificity, but he`s worried,
too. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: The threat was so specific as to how
enormous it was going to be, and also that certain dates were given, but it
didn`t specify where it`s going to be. And you know, the assumption is
that it`s probably most likely to happen in the Middle East at or about one
of the embassies, but there`s no guarantee of that at all. It could
basically be in Europe. It could be the United States. It could be a
series of combined attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s a common sense guy.
Here`s the general, General Martin Dempsey, who`s chair of the Joint
Chiefs. He said it wasn`t even clear whether the target was the U.S. or
other Western interests. We just know something`s going to happen, we
think. We don`t know where, although they`ve said the probability circle
is in the Arabian area and in East Africa.
But let`s watch what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs says about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: There`s a significant threat
stream, and we`re reacting to it.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Is the threat to below up an embassy, a
consulate or something else?
DEMPSEY: That part of it is unspecified. But the intent seems clear. The
intent is to attack Western, not just U.S., interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s Martha Raddatz.
Let me go back to Richard Engel, my hero over there. Richard, what is the
sense of people over there, in terms of 1 to 10, concern? From what I`ve
been pulling together on this, this is really big. People really think
something`s going to happen. Is that the feeling in Cairo and that part of
ENGEL: In Cairo, people aren`t really focused on this at all. Cairo is in
the middle of its own domestic problems. There are protests in the
streets. The Muslim Brotherhood was just thrown out of power in a coup.
John McCain and others are in town trying to work out a settlement. It`s
the end of Ramadan. People are fasting all day long. So no one was
talking about this.
We went down to the U.S. embassy today, which was already a fortified
compound. There are tons of concrete piled along all of the side streets
leading to the embassy. They`ve been there for about a year, when people
tried to storm inside the embassy.
You remember, there was that offensive Internet movie that mocked the
Muslim prophet Mohammed. Since then, the embassy has already been in a
degree of lockdown.
But mostly, it has been the U.S. intelligence community, security officials
who have been watching this threat, people who know who al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula`s leaders are, what they`re capable of. Some people
disregarded the idea that it would be an embassy, that embassies are
relatively hard to attack, that it could be a consulate, it could be a
small outpost, or it could be an airport, an airline.
This is a creative group. This is a group that, although it might be
difficult, is considering actively how to put a bomb in someone`s body. It
is putting -- figuring out how to insert one inside of a pet. This is not
the group that would only just look at obvious targets like an embassy or
MATTHEWS: Amazing story. Thank you so much, Richard Engel and Evan
Kohlmann. We`ll know a lot more in the days ahead, perhaps the hours
Coming up: A fallen star -- totally different story here. Major league
baseball has suspended Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod of the New York Yankees for
this season and next, all of next season. He`s the biggest name yet to go
down in major league baseball`s effort to rid the game of performance-
enhancing drugs, otherwise known as steroids. But the story doesn`t end
Also, if there`s one Republican Democrats would love to knock off next
year, it`s Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. In yesterday`s fireworks at
Kentucky`s -- I love this -- "Fancy Farm" gathering out there, the big
picnic out there, showed just how much flack McConnell`s going to get from
the right, from the Tea Party side, as well as from the left.
And playing politics. Here are pictures of four actors playing, in this
order, Dwight Eisenhower, upper left, Jack Kennedy, upper right, Lyndon
Johnson, bottom left, Richard Nixon, bottom right, in the new movie "The
Butler." See the names and see if you can figure out who`s playing them.
Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" with the Congress that just took vacation
to rest up from doing nothing except shutting down the government this
fall, an amazingly bad story about American politics, the U.S. Congress
And that`s HARDBALL. We`ll be right back after this with more politics.
MATTHEWS: What a news day. Amazon`s Jeff Bezos -- you know him, he runs
Amazon, he created it. He`s going to pay 250 million bucks for control of
"The Washington Post." If you believe it or not, he just bought the paper.
He`s asked Katherine Weymouth, the granddaughter of legendary publisher
Katherine Graham, to stay on as CEO and publisher. Bezos, one of the
richest people in the world, has a net worth of $25 billion. He can afford
to run a loss there. "The Post" has been owned by the Graham family for 80
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We normally talk downfalls and
comebacks in the world of politics on HARDBALL, but today, it was the
sports world that played host to one of the greatest downfalls you will
Alex Rodriguez was going to be the clean home run champion of the world,
the man to break Barry Bonds`s steroid-tainted career record. A-Rod`s
accomplishments in the game are too many to name, and the Yankee third
baseman even became a fixture in American pop culture, in part thanks to
his off-the-field romances with such celebrities Cameron Diaz and Kate
Well, today his image and reputation are utterly shattered, as of today.
Major league baseball announced today they would suspend Rodriguez through
the end of this season and all of next. That`s more than 200 games. And
here`s why. Major league baseball says Rodriguez is guilty of using and
possessing numerous forms of banned performance-enhancing drugs. We don`t
know what they are. They also say he attempted to cover up violations by
obstructing the league`s investigations.
In addition to A-Rod, 12 other players have been suspended for using banned
substances. None are expected to appeal the rulings except for Rodriguez.
In a statement, Rodriguez says, quote, "I am disappointed with the penalty
and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get
back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago." They`re playing
the White Sox tonight. "I want to thank my family, friends and fans who
have stood by my side through all of this," blah, blah, blah.
That`s right (ph). The timing of the announcement couldn`t come at a more
awkward time. After sitting out the first half of the season due to
injury, Rodriguez is expected to make his return to the Yankee lineup
tonight in Chicago against the White Sox. His suspension isn`t effective
until Thursday. He could end up playing throughout his appeal.
Well, Bob Nightengale is baseball columnist for "USA Today" and Marc "the
moose" Malusis is a radio sports anchor with New York`s WFAN. Thank you,
Mark, and thank you --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you -- we have just come from a possible terrorist
attack on the United States to this topic. But everybody I work with,
including the New Yorkers, especially the New Yorkers and the people who
hate the Yankees, all want to talk about this.
Bob, you start with this. Significance in baseball history -- does this go
back to the Black Sox? Where do you put this in terms of bad news for the
BOB NIGHTENGALE, "USA TODAY": Remember, it used to be Barry Bonds was the
kind of the poster boy for steroids. Now it`s Alex Rodriguez. It`s the
biggest suspension ever levied for a drug violation, all the way through
2014, going to cost him $36 million. He`s already planning to appeal it.
He has appealed it. And we won`t get a decision on this thing until
October or -- October, November, according to the Players Association.
MATTHEWS: Well, how do you read -- how do you read -- let me -- how do you
read A-Rod`s statement? Is this like say it ain`t so, Joe? He`s saying it
ain`t. Is he saying it ain`t so or is he just saying I`m disappointed?
What the heck does that mean I`m disappointed by the verdict? Does that
mean I didn`t do it?
MARC MALUSIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, no, it`s not a matter of whether
or not he did it or not.
There is the link to Biogenesis and Tony Bosch. It`s whether or not he was
treated fairly through the process. Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games. It
is going to cost him $3.25 million. The other 12 players were all
suspended 50 games. Alex Rodriguez is suspended 211 games, costing him in
essence about $34 million. He can still be owed $61 million when he comes
back in 2015.
And there has been a conjecture, a feeling that there`s been a softening
among the Major League players and Players Association. By no means was
that softening there for the statement from Michael Weiner, the head of the
MLB P.A., after the suspension was doled out, where he said A-Rod was not
They think the commissioner, Bud Selig, went out of his power here, that A-
Rod -- they are going to go out there and vehemently fight for Alex
Rodriguez. That`s really what it comes to.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. I like Bud Selig. Let`s start with this.
The first time the guy used drugs, he broke the rules. He got caught. He
got caught. Then he didn`t do it -- he said he wouldn`t do it again. Then
he got caught doing it again. Then he tried to cover it up and now he`s
finally caught and now he`s appealing. Why would you take his side? Why
would anybody take his side unless they were a union shop steward? In this
case, that`s the case. The union shop steward does his job, but does
anybody who is objective take A-Rod`s side?
MALUSIS: Well, it`s not a matter of taking Alex Rodriguez`s side.
It`s -- Chris, you understand this. It`s due process. He is due rights.
He was not going to take the medicine that Major League Baseball was doling
out, swallow it, in essence ending his career, because You don`t think he`s
coming out after being out of baseball for two years at 39, soon to be 40,
and say you know what, that`s good, I will take my $61 million and go home.
Listen, in all due respect to Bud Selig and the owners, baseball profited
during the years of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
MATTHEWS: But they cheated.
MALUSIS: Some are -- absolutely they cheated. But everyone made money off
of that era.
MALUSIS: It started to become an issue when Congress got involved, when
Tom Verducci put out an article with Ken Caminiti at "Sports Illustrated"
and the number -- and the record books were obliterated.
Let me go back to Bob Nightengale for another view.
Remember "Baretta" the motto, don`t do the crime if you can`t do the time?
NIGHTENGALE: Yes, I mean, baseball was very upset.
Last year, Bartolo Colon got popped for testosterone. So did Melky
Cabrera. Both guys were free agents and both guys got raises. We will see
what happens with this class. We got two big free agents, Nelson Cruz of
the Texas Rangers, Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers. And it will be
very interesting to see if they get a bigger salary next year than they do
MATTHEWS: You know, we have had the quiet old burning question about Pete
Rose who played for Philly for a while. He`s obviously a Cincinnati guy.
But the old question, how do you balance out great performance against
breaking the rules? Where do the fans stand on that one, Marc?
MALUSIS: Well, listen, I think there are fans that are quite upset with
Alex Rodriguez and this steroid era.
But I go back to my previous point, Chris. I think baseball profited.
Home runs were up. Runs per game were up. Baseball summer of `98, books
were written, the sport was rejuvenated. I think there was a time where
baseball -- where baseball fans looked at the record books and cherished
Unfortunately, the steroid era obliterated that record book. And I think
more often than not, a lot of people look at PEDs and say to themselves,
you know what? It`s a sign of the times. There`s too much money to be
If I`m an athlete at that point in time --
MALUSIS: -- I`m -- you know what? I might look for an advantage. I`m
not saying it`s right or wrong or that I would do it, but people go out
there and say --
MALUSIS: -- if I can go out there and become a $10-million- or $11-
million-a-year-dollar ball player, instead a $4-million-a-year-dollar ball
player, you know what? I might just go do that.
MATTHEWS: But, Marc, there`s a way to promote more home runs. You just
narrow the strike zone. You shrink the strike zone. You make it tougher
on the pitchers. Bring in the outfield run walls if you want more home
You have to say -- you`re making it sound like baseball was in cahoots on
MALUSIS: No, I`m not saying they were in cahoots. Did they turn a blind
eye? There`s no doubt about it. They did it.
And I understand it had to be collectively bargained with the Players
Association. And at that time, Gene Orza and Donald Fehr, and they did not
want to have a drug testing in Major League Baseball until it became so
But there`s no doubt about it, Chris. You look at the effect that PEDs and
steroids had on the sport --
MATTHEWS: I know.
MALUSIS: -- the impact on professional baseball, it has been wide blown.
MALUSIS: And, at one point in time, the majority of the players were doing
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to go back to Bob and get another view here.
Bob, when my brother Bert (ph) and I used to argue baseball as kids, he was
a Yankees fan. I was a Cleveland fan. In fact, I was a Boston fan,
anything to be but a Yankee fan. I will take any team against the Yankees
as a kid. But he always said something wise. He said, you know, in
sports, in basketball, you got to be a tall guy.
These are years later, even taller. In football, you got to be huge and
strong. Baseball was always a sport where an average size guy could make
it. With all the drugs and performance-enhancement drugs and all that
stuff, hasn`t that changed into a game for moose to play? Not you, moose.
MATTHEWS: Other mooses, meeses.
MATTHEWS: Bob Nightengale, my question to you, wasn`t it the glory of
baseball was for the average size guy?
NIGHTENGALE: Well, the average size guy in baseball is probably about
5`11``, maybe 6 feet tall, about 190, 200 pounds.
NIGHTENGALE: And I think that`s why people are so offended about the drugs
is because that`s our game. Any of us could play baseball. We can`t play
in the NBA. We can`t play in the NFL unless you`re a certain size.
So, like when an NFL guy gets popped for steroids or an NBA guy, it`s on
the back pages of the newspaper. In baseball, it`s blared across the front
MATTHEWS: Thank you, guys. It`s great to have you on. It`s a surprising
topic. It is HARDBALL. We don`t usually do baseball, but this is a tough,
a tough punishment. I`m a Bud Selig guy, I must gay.
Bob Nightengale and Marc Malusis, thanks, gentlemen.
Up next, playing politics. See if you can identify the actors playing the
American presidents here, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon. It`s
interesting. These are amazing choices here, especially one playing
Eisenhower. You will not believe it.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."
Jay-Z was at "Real Time" on "Real Time With Bill Maher" this Friday night
and he wasn`t shy about who he`s thought should induct him into the Hall of
Fame, the Rock `N` Roll Hall of Fame, if and when he`s selected. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Who would you like to
JAY-Z, MUSICIAN: Obama.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MAHER: Oh. Well --
JAY-Z: I cheated.
MAHER: Let`s say he`s busy.
JAY-Z: It would be all right. He owes me a couple.
MAHER: Yes, he owes you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MAHER: He owes me a couple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be a presidential first, inducting somebody
into the Rock `N` Roll Hall of Fame.
Anyway, the big White House movie "The Butler," this is going to be a big
film. It`s set for release later this month -- that`s in August -- has
already got at least one important fan, Barbara Bush. Politico reports
that the movie made the former first lady cry during an advanced screening
up in Kennebunkport.
Of course, it`s a story right from where she once lived once as first lady.
It`s about the White House butler Eugene Allen who served through eight
presidencies from 1952 to 1986. It will show a different perspective of
how those eight presidents really treated the people who served them in the
White House. I can`t wait.
And those presidents are played here by some big-name actors. Dwight
Eisenhower, Ike, is played by, do you believe it, Robin Williams. Jack
Kennedy is played by the young James Marsden. He looks pretty good.
Lyndon Johnson, Liev Schreiber. Hmm. And Richard Nixon is played by my
buddy John Cusack.
Anyway, the big question, how do the presidents they play come off? Well,
how do they behave when the cameras aren`t on? That`s what I want to know.
And how good are they to the help? We are going to find out.
Next up, it`s Joe Biden auto-tuned. The vice president of the United
States is the latest Politico to go viral with his video, with this new
video by singify -- or "Songify the News" with Darren Criss of "Glee."
Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have two shot guns at
my home. They`re locked in a safe. There`s a metal gun case.
We live in an area that`s wooded, somewhat secluded. And I have said,
Jill, if there`s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony and fire two
blasts outside the house, my shotgun, my shotgun.
You don`t need a machine gun. You don`t need 30 rounds. Buy a shotgun.
Buy a double-barreled shotgun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you know. You know he`s running for president,
isn`t he? I wonder if he serenades his wife, Jill, that way?
Up next, the Republican the Democrats would love to knock out of the
Senate. Mitch McConnell is getting hit from both sides right now, and the
race has only just begun. A year-and-a-half of what`s coming now in the
next few minutes. You won`t believe it. He`s getting hit left and right.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
The Dow fell 46 points, the S&P down tow, and the Nasdaq bucked the trend
and it was up three. The service sector topped expectations in July,
growing at its fastest pace in five months. And Apple shares were up, this
after the Obama administration overturned an international trade ruling
banning the sale of some older iPhones and iPads. The ruling said Apple
violated a Samsung patent.
Google will soon introduce a new service that allows Android users to track
a lost phone on a map in real time and make it ring. It`s going to come in
handy in my house.
That`s it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide -- and now back to
HARDBALL and Chris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I know
Senator McConnell believes that I`m not right for this job because unlike
him, I haven`t been in Washington, D.C., for 30 years.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LUNDERGAN GRIMES: But do I really need to apologize for having more
government experience than Rand Paul?
Senator McConnell talks about team Mitch. Well, Kentucky, I`m here to
invite you to join team switch.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LUNDERGAN GRIMES: Thank you. God bless each of you and the Commonwealth
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`re back in real political season here. That was Kentucky Secretary of
State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She`s standing tough now just a few feet
from her opponent in that case. You saw her against Senator Mitch
McConnell, the Republican leader of the United States Senate.
Well, the candidates kicked off the political season over -- we`re talking
about the political season for next November -- at the world`s largest
barbecue. It`s in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. This is real. This contest isn`t
just about the Kentucky Senate seat, obviously. It`s a crucial front in
the war for control of the United States Senate and the future of
legislation in this country. And it`s going to face -- give an early
indication of how this race looks.
By the way, this Kentucky Senate battle is going to be one heck of a horse
race beginning in its primary.
NBC News political reporter Kasie Hunt and MSNBC analyst, political analyst
Howard Fineman were both in Fancy Farm this weekend.
And, Kasie, you were on the ground there. Howard bows to your knowledge of
MATTHEWS: Kasie, give me a sense. First of all, set it out of why it`s
important. We know why it`s important. He`s the leader of the Senate and
we know he`s going to face an attack from his right. What`s his biggest
danger, the guy you saw over the weekend from his right or the woman you
saw to his left, if you will, the Democrat?
KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: At this point, his immediate danger is the
guy to the right.
And that`s going to set him up for potentially making Alison Grimes for
dangerous than she is right now, because McConnell is really in a vice,
especially going into these fall budget fights. I mean, what Bevin was
talking about when he was going after McConnell is this letter that Senator
Lee has where he`s urging Republicans to use the continuing resolution that
funds the government to defund the health care program.
And McConnell has yet to take a position on that. He`s very carefully
walking a line, not saying anything. But if the right wing gets really
angry about his refusal to sign that letter and take those positions, it`s
going to make Bevin more of a risk.
And it could push some of the conservative groups in Washington like the
Club for Growth to actually go in for Bevin with real money, and that would
be a real problem for McConnell.
MATTHEWS: They are really -- I`m trying to think, Howard, of the right
metaphor. Maybe you were force them to eat something really disgusting or
to get really low like a limbo bar. To be a reelected Republican senator
these days, you have to go so low. You have to say not only did you oppose
Obamacare. Fair enough. You have to say, once it was made into law, you
have to then defund it. You have to cheat, or else you`re not a real
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a
tumultuous scene down there. It`s really unbelievable.
It`s a big open shed with about 1,500 people divided equally Democrats and
Republicans cheering or booing while those people were speaking.
MATTHEWS: And this is a Catholic event, too.
MATTHEWS: I`m overwhelmed by that news.
FINEMAN: It`s the St. Jerome Catholic Church in Western Kentucky.
FINEMAN: It`s a big homecoming kind of summer event.
Matt Bevin, who is the person that Kasie was talking about, is a
businessman from Louisville who only got into the race at the last minute
as a Republican candidate for the primary, which doesn`t take place until
FINEMAN: All right, we`re talking almost a year away.
I was interested to see as was Kasie and all the other political reporters,
whether this guy Matt Bevin, who`s a businessman in Louisville and comes
from an old New England family was what is John McCain would call a whacko
bird. In other words, unpresentable -- unpresentable out of his element,
in over his head. And I thought, considering the tumultuous nature of this
event where you have to be a pretty tough Paul by instinct to even speak,
that he did plausibly well.
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is -- here`s Bevin the guy going at McConnell
from behind, from the right.
FINEMAN: Yes, he (INAUDIBLE) possibly well.
MATTHEWS: Taunting him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Be a man, stand up. And put
your money where your mouth is. Mitch McConnell is known as mudslinging
Mitch, because the only thing he has to run on is destroying other people.
There is nothing in his 30-year history of voting that he`s proud enough of
to actually run on.
I don`t intend to run to the right of Mitch McConnell. I don`t intend to
run to the left of Mitch McConnell. I intend to run straight over the top
of Mitch McConnell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, if I didn`t disagree with him on practically everything, I
assume, Mr. Bevin, I like his style there, Kasie. I mean, there`s a guy
not afraid to call the guy a mudslinger which he is. Mitch McConnell is a
negative force in American politics. He`s a negative.
And here`s the guy calling him on that from the right.
HUNT: Bevin also wasn`t afraid to engage with reporters after the event
and a lot of them were from the national press. And, you know, he didn`t
screw up. That`s a big test of this fancy farms sort of extravaganza.
You know, they say you can`t win your race here at fancy farm but you can
lose it if you make a big mistake. And Bevin didn`t do that. He pulled it
MATTHEWS: Yes. Is he up for a local accent? Is he a southern, a
northern, or what is he?
FINEMAN: Yes, he`s from New England. He`s born in New Hampshire.
MATTHEWS: They don`t mind that?
FINEMAN: His family owns a bell manufacturing company in New England.
They make the bells for the Salvation Army among other things. It`s a
historic company. He moved to Louisville because it`s a nice place to
live. He became an investment banker and businessman there.
MATTHEWS: He`s accepted.
FINEMAN: First of all, being from Louisville, everybody else in the state
views you as a foreigner whether you sound like a Kentuckian or not. So,
it really doesn`t hurt him any more since he`s from Louisville. But he
seems like a pretty smart guy. And as Casey says, the question is whether
any of the national groups will get interested in him.
Mitch`s problem is he`s at what they call in chess, a fork -- either move
is a bad one.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the lady in the race. A young woman, she`s 34
years old. She`s from a very old Democratic father. Her father was the
chair of the party and a state senator.
Here she is chiding McConnell, for his three decades in Washington and for
being at the center of what she calls the disease of dysfunction. She
called him the leader of obstruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Let`s just tell
it like it is. If the doctors told Senator McConnell that he had a kidney
stone, he would refuse to pass it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, she`s learning the line. She didn`t quite bite into that
one but she had the headline.
FINEMAN: Yes. Here`s the thing on Allison Lundergan Grimes -- she wasn`t
necessarily everybody`s favorite, either, but she comes -- among the
Democrat -- but she comes from a big political family in Lexington. She`s
one of five sisters. She`s very smart. She knows a lot of people in the
state and she was kind of born for politics.
Her father was a state party chairman -- controversial one, by the way, but
a very personable guy who knows everybody. They`re also extremely close to
the Clintons and the James Carville, into that wing of the Democratic
Party. She was kind of born into politics. She doesn`t have much of a
record which is an advantage because usually Mitch is running to tear
She`s almost a blank slate.
MATTHEWS: Kasie, do you think she has the girl next door or the young
girl, she`s obviously a young woman. Does she look like she speaks of
Kentucky, she represents the people?
HUNT: Well, you know, I actually interviewed her while we were down there.
We talked about, you know, her race. We talked about her grandmother,
where she`s from.
I mean, she was in there chopping up barbecue in the shed next to where
they were making their own charcoal from hickory and grilling tons of
barbecue quite literally.
She was in there getting her hands dirty with that real down home quality,
still, you know, immaculately dressed but friendly, relatable. She really
sort of has that whole package kind of down.
I mean, her one big problem here, I mean, Howard was talking about her
family roots in the state and all that. But you know, what`s really going
to be dragging her down is, of course, President Obama. I mean, all the
Democrats even that I talk to had problems with the president. And --
MATTHEWS: Great. It looks like she`s cutting some of the rip cords --
anyway, thank you -- or umbilical cords, if you will.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Howard Fineman, and thank you, Kasie Hunt,
for the insight.
Up next -- from 2014 to 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have a
ticket to ride. Will his tough guy personality travel? I think he might
be too East Coast, but maybe the country wants some of that attitude right
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, is America ready for Jersey boy, Chris Christie, and his
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t send your children to public schools. You
send them to private schools. So I was wondering why you think it`s fair
to be cutting school funding to public schools.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What`s her name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s her name? Guys, real quick, because the
governor is talking. What is it?
Gail, talk to Gail.
CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail, you know what? First off, it`s none of your
business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t
bother me about where I send mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There is a winning matter. None of your business. By the way,
how did he get her name first before he insulted her?
Anyway, that was an exchange between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and
a constituent, I think, probably not voting for him during a live call-in
show three years ago. Anyway -- two year s ago. Anyway, it left you
cheering or cringing. It was one of the first times the trademark Christie
attitude got national attention.
But here`s more, here Governor Christie takes on a reporter who dared to
ask a question that was off topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Did I say on topic? Are you stupid? On topic. On topic.
Next question. Thank you all very much,and I`m sorry for idiot over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Off topic, you`re stupid and you`re an idiot.
Anyway, based on a new Quinnipiac poll that rates voters feelings of warmth
toward various politicians, using a thermometer for scale, Christie`s
manner does not leave people cold. He`s got the highest warmth on the
chart. They did.
Christie`s style, along with his conservative but not fringy views, could
position him for a run for the Republican presidential nomination.
John Feehery is a Republican strategist, and A.B. Stoddard is associate
editor and columnist for "The Hill."
I want you both to just give me your gut sense of the guy. I think he is
dynamite in the Northeast. He`s got the ethnic background, not that that`s
everything, but he talks like Ed Koch did in the old days. A bit of Rudy,
but he is pro-life.
I think he could travel into the primaries. I just wonder whether
Southerners are going to go for this kind of thing, where they`re a little
nicer in their presentations at least politically and more molasses and
more of that stuff. Does he just lay it on too tough?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don`t think so. He kind of reminds
me of Bill Parcells with the media. I think that what people want is
authentic. They want someone who is a leader. They want someone who`s a
They want somebody who is just as mad as they are about government. But he
does it in a specific sense. He goes after things that need to be fixed.
I think he`s very effective communicator.
MATTHEWS: So pandering isn`t going to sell in 2016?
FEEHERY: He`s not a panderer.
MATTHEWS: For the first time in American history, pandering won`t win?
FEEHERY: Especially in a Republican primary.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think Americans are sick of platitudes. But --
and his -- his gift is his outspokenness and his passion and his bluntness.
But there is a difference between when he`s mad about an issue or fired up
when he is attacking a person or a question or a reporter or a voter.
In the public tiff with Rand Paul a week ago, there was a sense that he was
getting angrier and angrier. Voters -- it`s unpresidential behavior to
seem like you`re out of control, that you`re so mad.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he seems like he is out of control?
STODDARD: When you`re attacking a person like another senator or a voter
who is in the room --
MATTHEWS: Didn`t we see John McCain get nominated, almost nominated
another time, and he is known for his temper? How did that happen? Bill
Clinton has an amazing temper.
STODDARD: John McCain isn`t president today. I`m not saying that he
couldn`t win the primaries. I think it will be challenging.
But I think that what works in Jersey doesn`t work everywhere.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever heard of a politician -- you`ve been reporting a
long time. Have you ever heard of a politician who doesn`t have a temper?
Who doesn`t have one?
STODDARD: I think Barack Obama is criticized all the time for not having a
pulse. He doesn`t get mad enough. He doesn`t get happy enough.
MATTHEWS: Even in the room, even in the room.
FEEHERY: The turning point in Reagan versus Bush, this is my microphone.
I`m taking them.
People loved it. People want passion.
FEEHERY: And that`s the thing that I think you`re right about Obama, they
don`t see any passion with Obama. He is this cool customer.
I think that what Christie gives you is somebody who is going to fight for
you. He is going to fight to reform government. I think what can be very
MATTHEWS: You go out to Iowa where people are a mix of left and right.
It`s a hard ate to figure, generally anti-war, but not exactly East Coast.
Are they going to like him in the caucuses?
FEEHERY: Some will. He won`t win all of the caucuses. I think he`ll do
very well there. I think all the polls show that he is near the top. This
is a fight for the battle of the soul of the party.
MATTHEWS: Suppose he polls that number we just saw twice there, A.B., on
some reporter out Iowa.
STODDARD: That would be a mistake. When it comes to the presidential
primaries, he is really --
MATTHEWS: This is none of your business to somebody about school
FEEHERY: If there is one group that Republicans hate most is reporters.
Going after reporters --
STODDARD: He does it to constituents.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s break a tie here. If he attacks a citizen, it`s a bad
thing. If he attacks a reporter, it`s groovy?
FEEHERY: I think that`s right.
MATTHEWS: Is he too, too, too much?
STODDARD: I think he will develop a narrative for Iowa that he is not
using now. I think it`s going to be a different narrative than one he is
using now. It will be similar to Senator Lindsey Graham who is now facing
a primary challenger and is under attack for being too much of a squish.
He says I`m a fiscal and social conservative.
MATTHEWS: Somebody w a close general election. Let me tell you what,
every poll we can find shows him the closest to Hillary Clinton. All the
other guys are out of the running.
STODDARD: He shouldn`t speak that way to her. That`s all I`m saying.
MATTHEWS: Better not do that. That`s been tried.
FEEHERY: Who is he going run against? If he runs against Rand Paul and
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, I think he does very well. Now, I like Rubio --
MATTHEWS: -- scared Hillary enough to have a real campaign, I think
Hillary would beat him, but maybe not, because he might do something
different. A.B., do you agree? He might beat Hillary.
STODDARD: He might beat Hillary. Oh, yes. He would have to change his
MATTHEWS: Thank you, John Feehery. We`re not going to change it -- and,
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
You know how great it feels to get a job done? I remember what Hedley
Donavan of "Time" magazine once said when asked if he liked writing.
He said, "I like having written!"
You know the feeling, whatever the job you just got done.
So how do you think the United States Congress, especially the House of
Representatives, feels as it begins a five-week vacation?
A grand sense of getting a job done? Finally, the hard work behind us?
The back broken of a particularly tough task? Do you think? You know,
that happy exhaustion of a job completed?
Not on your life: No appropriations passed this year. No budget agreed to.
Nothing done on gun safety. No real hope on immigration reform.
A grand deal on spending and taxes? What are you, crazy?
Nothing. They`ve got nothing done in Congress this year.
And, guess what, you ain`t seen nothing yet! As soon as this gang comes
back in September, we are going to face a three month countdown to do even
less -- no appropriations on time. Not even a budget passed. No
And that could well mean no United States government.
That`s right. The people who left town after doing nothing are coming back
for the single purpose of shutting down the rest of the government.
And then, after days or weeks or more of screwing around, they are going to
do, what, who knows, by sometime in late November, stop paying the
The United States would well be -- could well be by Christmas time, the
world`s great deadbeat. The country that goes into default because
threatening to do so has become the new happy toy of the hard right and
because the rest of the country`s elected leaders have no way of doing
business with each other.
It wasn`t always this way. So, why is it this way now?
Well, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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