August 27, 2013
Guests: Glenn Thrush, John Feehery, Steve McMahon, Clarence Page, Lizz Winstead
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Bread line for the right.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
He`s done it to Damascus, now he`s doing it here. President Obama today
drew a red line here at home. Any Republican who tries to bring this
country into default, forces this country to fail to meet its payments,
fails to pay interest on the national debt is the enemy.
There will be no deals, the president says, no talks, no schmoozes, no
bedtime stories, nothing. You are cut off. America will pay its debts.
It will not default. It will not destroy its credit in the world.
And you can threaten, you can rally town meetings, you can scream and yell,
but the United States government will not fall into bankruptcy because of
this economic terrorism you on the right purport to be a political
Well, the secretary of the treasury said it less dramatically than that
this morning, but he said it just as clearly. Any attempt by the right
wing to threaten this country with national default will be met with the
strongest rejection -- no deals, no BS, put up or shut up. Well, the red
line has been drawn, as I said, not this time against Bashar Assad over in
Damascus, but against those in this country who would jeopardize the
country`s financial strength.
Joining me right now are two political pros, Democrat Steve McMahon and
Republican John Feehery.
Now, I want to go with this. The possibility of a government default is
approaching now faster than anyone thought. Treasury secretary Jack Lew is
warning Republicans as of today that unless they agree to raise the debt
limit, the United States will default on its debts internationally in mid-
October, earlier than some had anticipated.
In fact, in an interview today on CNBC, Mr. Lew had a clear message for
Republicans, and it`s coming right from the president. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: The president`s been very clear. We are not
going to be negotiating over the debt limit. Congress has already
authorized funding, committed us to make expenditures. We`re now in the
place where the only question is, will we pay the bills that the United
States has incurred.
And it is just -- the only way to do that is for Congress to act, for it to
act quickly. You know, what we need in our economy is some certainty. We
don`t need another self-inflicted wound. We don`t need another crisis at
the last minute. Congress should come back and they should act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you just heard it. Instead of negotiating in good faith,
some Republicans are talking openly right now about using that threat of
economic meltdown to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and that includes
the House GOP leadership. An aide for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
says the debt limit is a good leverage point to defund the health care law.
A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner recently told HARDBALL that they are
looking at all options when it comes to the issue.
And take a listen to Senator Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma, when he
was asked about the Affordable Care Act at a town hall just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What other alternatives are out there to keep this
horrible bill from being implemented on October 1st?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, the debt limit, the debt limit, the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
COBURN: You attach it to the debt limit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
COBURN: Yes. No, but the point is, is you attach a repeal of the
mandatory spending to the debt limit. Otherwise, the debt limit doesn`t go
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there he goes. I want John Feehery to start here. I
don`t know what you think of this talk about, basically, the United States
defaulting on its debts, not about whether to spend more money but whether
to pay our bills, as the secretary of the treasury puts it.
Where are you on that? Do you think anybody in your party will really
mount a significant effort to bring down the United States` financial
credibility? It`s never been done before.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I`ve said this before, I don`t
think that we`ll have a debt limit crisis. I would say, though, that
members of Congress in the House and the Senate, they`ve gone back to their
constituents, and they`ve been hearing loud and clear, Do something about
"Obama care." So they are trying to find a way -- what is the best
MATTHEWS: Do something about the law of the land. This is the first time
FEEHERY: Do something about
MATTHEWS: What is this, interposition, nullification? What is this?
FEEHERY: It`s a very unpopular law, and they want
MATTHEWS: It`s the law of the land.
FEEHERY: You know, and part of it`s been delayed, and they want to delay
the rest of it. (INAUDIBLE) tell you another thing
MATTHEWS: No, they don`t want to delay it. They want to kill it.
FEEHERY: They want to kill it. That`s right.
MATTHEWS: So how do you kill something that`s the law of the land unless
you repeal it?
FEEHERY: Well, they killed Prohibition. That was an unpopular law.
MATTHEWS: They repealed it.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are these guys doing? They don`t want to repeal it.
They want to default the national debt as a way of whacking the president
and the country at the same time.
FEEHERY: Let me say -- I say that
MATTHEWS: You got to be clear here. What are they up to?
FEEHERY: What they`re trying to do
FEEHERY: as the Boehner aide said, they want leverage. They`re trying to
figure out the best way to get as much of the law delayed as possible and
MATTHEWS: What do you mean about leverage, kidnap the United States
FEEHERY: When they talk to their constituents, their constituents say one
thing. Do something about "Obama care." And so these guys have to go do
something. And let me say something about
MATTHEWS: But what you`re saying it doesn`t make sense what they`re doing,
but they`re doing it because they getting heat at home.
FEEHERY: They`re hearing from their constituents, a very unpopular law.
Fifty-two percent of the American people want this law either repealed or
delayed. And I will say another
MATTHEWS: Do you think that the people that show up at town hall meetings
are typical Republicans?
FEEHERY: I think that
MATTHEWS: Typical Republican voters.
FEEHERY: I think that they are typical primary voters, yes.
MATTHEWS: Primary voters.
FEEHERY: They come out in the -- they come in the primary, and members of
Congress are worried about that and they want to be responsive
MATTHEWS: OK, there`s your argument. (INAUDIBLE) doing, they`re taking
FEEHERY: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: I was only obeying orders.
FEEHERY: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: In other words, I`m going to bring down (INAUDIBLE) government,
bring a risk (ph) about it, create a jeopardy for the United States`
credibility in the world. We`re not going to pay our debts anymore because
some people are raising noises at town meetings. That`s a hell of an
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And a courageous member of Congress
would say, You know what`s going to happen if we take down the United
States government by doing this silliness that you`re suggesting? Your
401(k) plan is going to go from being worth whatever it`s worth today to
being worth 20 percent less. You could see the markets already are
reacting to this.
Boehner stands up today at a Simpson front-runner in Idaho and says, We`re
going have a great, big fight over the debt limit, and the stock market
goes down 170 points by the time I walked in here.
MCMAHON: So hold on a second, John. The Republicans are funny because,
you know, they -- they`re against activist government. They`re against the
Supreme Court, you know, judicial activism. But when there`s a
constitutional law of the land that`s been upheld by the Supreme Court,
they want to bring it down by holding a gun to the debt limit so that the
United States government will have its full faith and credit questioned
around the world
FEEHERY: What they`re doing is
MCMAHON: causing economic calamity here and elsewhere.
FEEHERY: They`re looking for leverage and they`re trying to
MATTHEWS: You didn`t explain that
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by leverage?
FEEHERY: They`re trying to figure out
FEEHERY: That`s not extortion!
MATTHEWS: What is it?
FEEHERY: They`re trying to find the best way to get the most out of a
budget deal. And Chris, you know this. I think it`s
MATTHEWS: It`s not a budget deal. It`s paying our debts.
FEEHERY: The mistake here that the president is making, because this will
rebound on the president, is he`s drawing red lines in the sand when he
should be trying to find common ground.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell you. Remember the biblical story about King
Solomon and two mothers contesting as to who the baby was. And the one --
and he says, Why don`t we cut the baby in half? And the mother that said,
Let`s cut the baby in half, was not the mother.
Your party -- on its right, not your regular party -- your right-wing party
is willing to cut this baby in half. You`re ready to bring the government
down to make your point. And that`s what you`ve been exposed as because
the -- the political faction that`s willing to destroy the credibility of
the American dollar and our credibility to pay our debts is willing to kill
FEEHERY: Let me ask you this question
MATTHEWS: Aren`t you?
FEEHERY: Let me ask you
MATTHEWS: You call it leverage.
FEEHERY: Let me ask you this. If every Republican would vote no against
the debt limit, would every Democrat vote yes on extending the debt limit
if it was clean? I bet you they won`t. The fact of the matter is, is that
this is a negotiation that they have to do. Debt limits are very hard to
MATTHEWS: So it`s a bluff.
FEEHERY: They always have been.
MATTHEWS: So it`s a bluff.
MCMAHON: Here`s an interesting contrast
MATTHEWS: Is a negotiation a bluff?
FEEHERY: I don`t think it`s a bluff.
MATTHEWS: So you`re willing to stop the government from paying its debts.
FEEHERY: I -- I don`t think
MATTHEWS: If you don`t get your way.
FEEHERY: As I`ve said consistently, this will not happen. We will not go
MATTHEWS: There`s something I`m unclear about. Are you saying that your
right wing is willing to hold the government hostage and deliver the baby
back, to use that metaphor, even if they don`t meet the deal? Because
you`re saying they`ll avoid a failure -- a failure -- a default on
FEEHERY: We will end up paying our debts. I have no doubt about that.
MATTHEWS: When? On time?
FEEHERY: On time, yes.
MCMAHON: You know, to stick with the hostage
MATTHEWS: Well, then it`s a bluff.
FEEHERY: It`s a negotiation. I think that there`s lots of different ways
MCMAHON: Stick with the hostage metaphor.
MCMAHON: It`s the only way it works.
MATTHEWS: with dynamite on him and says, I`ll blow this place up if you
don`t get -- if you don`t get rid of the Affordable Care Act?
MCMAHON: The only way it works is if you`re willing to kill the hostage.
MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s right.
MCMAHON: You`re absolutely right, Chris. The interesting contrast
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about
MATTHEWS: Republicans like Ted Cruz this fall -- see this fall as their
last chance, along your lines, to destroy the health care law. This is
Cruz in an interview with conservative Newsmax TV earlier this month. See
if he`s bluffing or he`s just negotiating.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The Obama administration`s plan is very simple.
It is to get as many Americans as possible addicted to the subsidies,
addicted to the sugar because they know the simple fact that in modern
times, no major entitlement has ever gone into effect and then been undone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
CRUZ: And so they just want as many people receiving subsidies because
once that happens, I believe it is likely that "Obama care" will become a
permanent feature of our economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So there he is. It`s Armageddon. If you don`t kill this baby,
it`s going to grow up and become something popular, like Social Security
FEEHERY: That`s certainly
MATTHEWS: The worst (INAUDIBLE)
FEEHERY: That is certainly his belief, and it`s a belief of many on the
right. I don`t happen to share that belief
MATTHEWS: Does he sound like a guy that`s willing to negotiate?
FEEHERY: Well, you know, the House is not willing to negotiate. But you
know who else is not willing to negotiate? The president. The president
MATTHEWS: Of course! He has
MATTHEWS: He`s not going to give up on a program that`s a matter of law
that 60 senators and
FEEHERY: But he`s got to negotiate, too. You got to get the votes.
How`re you going to get the votes out of the House and the Senate?
FEEHERY: You got to negotiate. Who`s saying they`re not going to
negotiate? The president is!
MCMAHON: Here`s the interesting thing about Ted Cruz
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, was the president have a right to say no deal?
MCMAHON: Absolutely. Absolutely.
FEEHERY: Oh! What about the negotiation?
MCMAHON: The contrast -- the contrast that I think is most interesting
isn`t between John Boehner and the president. It`s between John Boehner
and Mitch McConnell, who, by the way, has said there are only 14
Republicans who want to do this crazy course of action. And Mitch
McConnell, who`s facing his own Republican primary, is actually going to --
I`m going to say something nice about McConnell now. He`s standing up and
trying to be a statesman here
MATTHEWS: He`s a relative liberal.
MCMAHON: He recognizes
MATTHEWS: in that party.
MCMAHON: that this is absolutely
MATTHEWS: Didn`t he just lose to Ron Johnson? He beat him by 1 point,
rather? The party -- half the Senate`s to his right.
FEEHERY: No, that was for whip, for
MCMAHON: But Mitch McConnell isn`t going to take the country over the
cliff. Mitch McConnell is a grown-up who understands what is going on
here. The guys in the House are just, frankly, loony tunes.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the politics of this because I want to wade
through this. Let`s take a look at who gets blamed right now. Who will be
more to blame if the United States breaches its debt limit? In other
words, we obviously don`t pay the money we owe on the dollar. OK.
According to this, Obama and the Democrats are blamed 33 percent, and
Republicans are 45 percent. That isn`t a wild difference. I admit it
looks like a lot of blame gets thrown around there. What do you make of
FEEHERY: I think sides will get blamed. I think the whole government gets
blamed. I think because the president is the president, he`s the one
ultimately responsible, in history, he`ll be responsible
MATTHEWS: Is that why he`s saying no deals?
FEEHERY: I think he`s saying no deals because he`s trying to get the
maximum leverage. I think that Jack Lew is very smart because he`s saying,
This is speeding this thing up. We`ve got to do it quicker. And he`s
trying to put more pressure on Republicans
MATTHEWS: Your use of this word "leverage" is unbelievable. I`ve got a
stick of dynamite and I`m going to blow it up as my leverage. I`m going to
take your baby and keep it -- kill it unless you give me my money. That`s
leverage, but it certainly is a vicious way of using the word.
FEEHERY: Well, I -- listen, the fact of the matter is that these guys are
in a hard place because their constituents hate "Obama care." They hate --
from various reasons
MATTHEWS: So they`re only taking orders.
FEEHERY: What they are trying to do is they`re trying to be responsive to
MCMAHON: (INAUDIBLE) destroying the Republican (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: You ever listen to him carefully? It`s not that the reasonable
leadership are unreasonable. They have to listen to the crazies on the
right. And the crazies on the right -- the wild bunch, we`re going to call
them tonight -- have to listen to the crazies back in the last row of the
next town meeting. And therefore, the craziest people at town meeting
control the craziest people in the Senate and the House, who control the
The tail is wagging the dog!
MCMAHON: Mitch McConnell
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Steve McMahon.
MCMAHON: has not
MATTHEWS: And thank you, John Feehery. We love having John Feehery on
because he explains the craziness.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: What do we do about Syria? Well, this is serious
business. We`re talking a red line here for real. Senior officials are
talking about three days of strikes at Damascus beginning as early as two
days from now, Thursday. But what it isn`t clear -- what isn`t clear now
is exactly what those strikes would get done. What would be the
consequences of blowing up places and killing people?
Also, race and economics. President Obama`s ability to blend those two
strains in American society could be the key to his success. Well,
tomorrow, he`ll have a chance to reset the agenda for his second term at
the great anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington.
And "Bachmannistan`` - "Bachmannistan`` -- a newly privately published e-
book about Michele Bachmann, the latest bit of trouble for the
congresswoman HARDBALL, I must say, made famous.
Finally, senator turned rock star? See if you can guess who the former
senator is jamming with this `70s rock group, Cheap Trick.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, yesterday we told you that General Colin Powell says
Republican voter ID efforts designed to depress the minority voter will
backfire. And now radio host Laura Ingraham, a conservative herself,
agrees, kind of. Ingraham said on Fox that Republicans are failing to make
a positive case for new voter ID laws, which she insists are
nondiscriminatory. As a result, she says, the Democrats` more emotional
arguments are winning the day.
But in fact, the effect of voter ID laws is discriminatory, Laura, and
that`s why Republicans are losing the argument.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. On Syria, it now seems the question
isn`t if, but when. According to Jay Carney today, the president
deliberating on what an appropriate response should be to the Syrian
government`s near certain use of chemical weapons. And this afternoon, the
vice president added his voice to a growing number of officials condemning
the Syrian regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no doubt that
an essential international norm has been violated. Violated. Chemical
weapons have been used. There is no doubt who is responsible for this
heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Syrian regime. The president
believes and I believe that those who use chemical weapons against
defenseless men, women and children should and must be held accountable!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: NBC News reports that a U.S. missile strike against Syria could
come as early as Thursday. That`s two days from now. Senior U.S.
officials tell NBC to expect three days of strikes, and one senior official
says the point would be to send a message. They do not expect to
significantly degrade Syria`s physical ability to make these kind of
Anyway, today British prime minister David Cameron said the world cannot
stand it -- cannot stand by as it sees this massive use of chemical
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: No decision has yet been taken, but
let`s be clear what is at stake here. Almost 100 years ago, the whole
world came together and said that the use of chemical weapons was morally
indefensible and completely wrong. And what we`ve seen in Syria are
appalling scenes of death and suffering because of the use of chemical
weapons by the Assad regime, and I don`t believe we can let that stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But there are significant questions that have to be asked at
some point. What will a bombing attack accomplish? Can we really persuade
the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons again? And can we really do
enough to send a message without getting bogged down in this war?
Richard Engel is chief foreign correspondent for NBC News. Richard, you
know all the questions. I`ll give you time to answer them at length. The
big question, of course, is how do we send a message that`s going to
involve killing people and doing damage to the regime in Damascus, at the
same time not become a belligerent in a war in which we don`t really have a
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s basically
impossible. You can`t say, We`re going to attack the Syrian regime, but
we`re not going to get involved in the civil war in Syria. Once you fire a
shot and you drop bombs on Damascus or on any military site, you are
involved in the war.
Now, the question you were talking about earlier, which is the fundamental
conundrum here, is how does the United States do something. We`re going to
send a message, but we don`t want to do enough to really change the
equation on the ground. So we want to launch a military strike, but we
don`t want to shift the balance of power or really make a difference on the
And I think that`s one of the things that the Syrian rebels are struggling
with, trying to figure out what exactly does the United States want to do.
Are they trying to help us? Are they trying to posture and send symbolism
back to the American people, back to other world leaders? What is the real
goal? How do you send a message with bombs? You are getting involved in a
conflict, whether you like it or not.
MATTHEWS: How do we prevent them physically or policy-wise from using
chemical weapons again?
ENGEL: Well, the regime right now is facing an enormous civil war, and it
is facing a very splintered and very fractured rebel movement. As you
mentioned, there are a lot of these rebel groups that the United States
doesn`t agree with or the United States hates that are legitimately
terrorist groups that are kidnapping journalists, kidnapping aid workers,
holding the country hostage.
There are only really one or two rebel movements that are -- have any kind
of international support, the Free Syrian Army being the biggest one.
That`s the group of General Salim Idris, the same people that general --
that general -- that Senator John McCain visited when he came to Syria on
that surprise trip.
Other than him, there is not that many rebels in Syria that the United
States would have any interest in supporting. So, if you attack Syria, you
collapse the regime, you better hope that this one rebel movement that is -
- more or less thinks like the United States and wants a modern state that
is democratic to emerge in Syria wins at the end of the day. And there is
no guarantee that is going to happen.
If the U.S. acts strongly, you could see the regime breaking up into
different chunk. You could see an Alawite state, you could see a Kurdish
state, you could see some mini-states run by al Qaeda. You could see the
regime still holding onto parts, and we could have years of conflict.
If you do too little, then you really haven`t done anything at all.
MATTHEWS: What would be the reaction, or can you predict it, of Russia, of
Vladimir Putin and Hezbollah? Hezbollah is their big partner over there.
They`re all over Lebanon. They can hurt Israel. They can hurt us, I
suppose. What would Hezbollah do if we clearly got in this war against
ENGEL: Well, already, Israel has put some of its anti-missile systems on
high alert. Israel is concerned that Hezbollah could be activated, that
Iran, Hezbollah, the Syrian regime could decide to retaliate by diverting
attention: The United States is attacking us in Syria. Well, Hezbollah,
our allies, is going to attack the Zionist enemy and we`re going to try to
motivate the entire Middle East.
It`s the same trick that is an old playbook in the Middle East by Saddam
Hussein`s era, but so is using chemical weapons.
ENGEL: So, I don`t think anyone could really rule that out.
Russia has already said it`s not going to go to war over Syria, but it
still supplies a lot of weapons. It supplies a lot of political support.
But I don`t think you`re going to see necessarily Russian troops flowing
over in Syria to help the fight.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here at home, Martin Dempsey, has
been seen as a skeptical voice when it comes to using military action over
in Syria. Here is why. In a letter to Congress, he wrote about his
concerns regarding the rebels. Quote: "Syria today is not about choosing
between two sides, but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is
my belief that the side we choose -- we should choose -- or choose -- must
be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in
their favor. Today, they are not."
In other words, he is saying, to paraphrase him, we have no friends who are
likely to win and be on our side in that fight.
ENGEL: We have a friend, the Free Syrian Army, but haven`t been doing very
much to support him. So there is no guarantee that he would win.
And right now on the ground, he is not even one of the most -- or the Free
Syrian Army is not even necessarily the most powerful group. When you go
around Syria -- and I was just back in the other day, and I have been many
times -- you see checkpoints flying a variety of flags, including the al
So you don`t know who is going to win. And I think the more likely
scenario is breaking up of the country where you have al Qaeda-linked
groups taking one part, Kurdish groups, PKK, which are also considered a
terrorist group, taking other parts.
You have the faction that we like, the Free Syrian Army, holding a piece,
and the remnants of the government holding either Damascus or coastal areas
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you very much, Richard Engel, over in that area.
And, by the way, it looks like we`re -- as I said at the start of this
segment, it looks like we`re going in there on Thursday -- that`s two days
now -- with apparently three days of strikes at apparently their
capabilities to launch further attacks using chemical weapons.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": As if Anthony Weiner
doesn`t have enough problems, he was involved in a minor car accident over
the weekend. Here is that story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several of the candidates for New York City mayor went
to Washington for today`s march, but before leaving, Anthony Weiner was in
a minor car accident, losing control of his car and crashing into a house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the "Sideshow." That was, of course, Jay Leno
last night reflecting on Anthony Weiner`s latest real-life misfortune.
Anyway, the Democratic mayoral primary will be held in just two weeks from
today. Finally, it`s over.
Well, he may be out of office, but Scott Brown is still a rock star of
sorts. The former Massachusetts Republican senator joined the `70s rock
band Cheap Trick on stage at a concert in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire,
over the weekend, where he is going run for the Senate, I guess, and where
he showed up his -- showed off, rather, his guitar skills in an American
flag polo shirt. There you see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Afterwards, Brown tweeted -- quote -- "I fulfilled one of my
bucket list items and got to get up on stage and played `Surrender` with
Cheap Trick tonight. Wow."
But Brown wasn`t the only politician to enjoy himself this past weekend.
Colin Powell was another to show off his moves on stage with Pharrell
Williams at a benefit in East Hampton. Look at that. Well, there is the
former secretary of state -- that`s Colin Powell on the left, alongside the
great Jamie Foxx.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Seems like he had a good time too.
Next up: Anyone who has seen "All the President`s Men" knows it`s a
Watergate landmark, but the garage where Bob Woodward met FBI informant
Mark Felt, AKA Deep Throat, may soon be demolished. That location was
immortalized, by the way, in this legendary scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ALL THE PRESIDENT`S MEN")
HAL HOLBROOK, ACTOR: I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know,
and I will confirm. I will keep you in the right direction if I can. But
that`s all. Just follow the money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think that was Hal Holbrook.
Anyway, the building attached to that garage, which was built in the early
`60s across the Potomac from us in Arlington, Virginia, is reportedly
nearing the end of its useful life. Developers plan to replace with a full
block of offices and condos, but they promise to honor the site`s infamous
And, finally, you could call it a bird`s-eye view of the New Jersey
governor`s race. A local Jersey farm has unveiled a farm -- actually ,a
crop circle maze, you know those things, depicting Governor Chris Christie
and his Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono.
It spans across a 10-acre cornfield at Stony Hill Farm Market in Chester,
New Jersey. The whole thing takes about an hour to complete from start to
finish. And while neither campaign says they have plans to visit,
Christie`s spokesperson did use the maze to knock his opponent`s
supporters, saying -- quote -- "Feeling lost, directionless, and not sure
how you`re going get to the end? Sounds like a Buono supporter to me."
And Buono`s campaign responded, saying -- quote -- "I believe this is the
first time Governor Christie has been spotted in a cornfield outside of
Up next: Obama, race, and class, the president`s big speech coming up
tomorrow for the anniversary of the march.
And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
The "New York Times" Web site was taken down while Twitter`s domain
registration was taken over. The Syrian electronic company which supports
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected -- is suspected in hacking
both of those sites.
And 3,700 firefighters are making progress against an ever-growing wildfire
near Yosemite National Park. It is now 20 percent contained.
Health officials in Texas say at least 21 cases of measles have been linked
to a mega-church in Newark, which is now hosting vaccination clinics --
back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can no more disown him
than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can
disown my white grandmother, a woman who helped raise me, a woman who
sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she
loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of
black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one
occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a statement by our president.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Then candidate Barack Obama, facing questions back then about his
relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made an extraordinary
speech in Philadelphia -- you just saw it there -- forthrightly addressing
the issue of race in this country. It`s frequently cited as a turning
point in his campaign. It was certainly a turning point historically.
Race is a topic that events have often driven the first African-American to
speak about publicly, as in July 2009, when the president was asked his
reaction to the arrest of African-American Harvard professor Henry Louis
Gates. There he is in handcuffs in his own home when a neighbor mistakenly
thought he was an intruder.
Well, the president said the Cambridge police had acted stupidly -- those
were the president`s words -- in the arrest. Shortly after, by the way,
the president convened the policeman and the professor for a beer summit at
the White House, along with Vice President Biden.
And following the George Zimmerman verdict, of course, the president made
his most personal comments as president about being a black man in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There are very few African-American men in this country who haven`t
had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a
department store. That includes me.
There are very few African-American men who haven`t had the experience of
walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.
That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, tomorrow, the president will speak at a ceremony
commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, speaking in
the same spot, the Lincoln Memorial, from which Martin Luther King
delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. What a day it`s going to be
President Obama has signaled what may be the frame -- the framework through
which he talks about race tomorrow, linking economic inequality and racial
inequality in a speech to college students in Binghamton, New York, last
week. Well, let`s listen to what may have been a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What we have also seen is that the legacy of discrimination,
slavery, Jim Crow, has -- has meant that some of the institutional barriers
for success for a lot of groups still exist.
You know, African-American poverty in this country is still significantly
higher than other groups. The same is true for Latinos. The same is true
for Native Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Clarence Page is a columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
for "The Chicago Tribune." And Glenn Thrush is senior White House reporter
for Politico, whose piece today is headlined "Obama, Race, and Class."
Glenn, give us your sense of what you can report or predict even about the
president`s approach to race and economics tomorrow at the Lincoln
GLENN THRUSH, POLITICO: Well, I think it`s going to be a combination of
the personal and looking towards the future and King`s unfinished business.
I think the thing that Obama has been reiterating all week and a lot of his
staff has been talking about is the sense that, you know, what people don`t
realize is the March on Washington had a component of economics. And over
the next five years, from `63 to `68, King really became much more of a
national figure involved in anti-poverty.
When he was killed in Memphis, he was in support of the sanitation workers
there. And from `67 on, he was involved in the ill-fated Poor People`s
Campaign. So what Obama is going to emphasize -- and he touched on it in
his speech in Binghamton and also in an interview with "The New York Times"
-- is the economic -- is the component of economic justice.
And I will tell you, Chris, the Democrat -- and Democratic Party in general
nationally is becoming much more focused on that issue. So, Bill de Blasio
in a -- in the New York City mayoral race is focusing on that, using some
of Obama`s old campaign aides.
So this is an issue, I think, that makes it a little easier for Obama to
talk about race, connects him more with white working-class voters, but
also helps him pitch forward in terms of his second-term agenda.
MATTHEWS: You know, I get depressed at these conversations, because I grew
up like you -- we`re about the same age, Clarence -- and I go look back at
North Philly. It`s more impoverished now than ever.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Right.
MATTHEWS: The lines of, what do you call it, just going downhill has moved
up further north.
MATTHEWS: More houses just in disrepair, people -- lousy signs up, just
signs of all kinds of poverty and fast-food stores, not a decent fresh food
market anywhere in sight.
MATTHEWS: The food deserts. It just grows and grows.
And the Democratic Party has been representing those areas as long as I
PAGE: That`s right. And I think
MATTHEWS: And the president is the leader of the Democratic Party.
PAGE: I think, if you look at the -- at where we were 50 years ago and
where we are now, 50 years ago, when you said inequality, people thought
about racial inequality.
I think President Obama is going to talk about the other part of Martin
Luther King`s speech, economic inequality or wage inequality.
MATTHEWS: So, what is he going to do for it?
MATTHEWS: What can he propose, even?
PAGE: I wish he would go first of all with what the protesters in D.C.
have been trying get him do, which is by executive order, raise the minimum
wage on fast food places that are contracted on federal property like Union
Station, the Reagan Building, other Washington, D.C. --
MATTHEWS: He can do that by E.O., right?
PAGE: He can do that by E.O., executive order. Franklin Roosevelt did a
similar move, doesn`t need Congress. And it would be a great gesture if he
did it, and it would really mean something as far as closing that gap. And
those contracts, those fast food places make three times more profits than
your ordinary, by the highway --
MATTHEWS: So, at least people are getting paid even though the food is
Let me go to Glenn on this. Tomorrow -- I`m serious. Tomorrow, these
neighborhoods, the poor neighborhoods are the worst served by decent food
stores. You can`t buy a banana. You can`t buy an apple. You can buy
something that has been in the store for three weeks, sure. But you can`t
buy anything clean or good.
Anyway, let`s go to this question --
THRUSH: In D.C., there is no -- there are certain neighborhoods in D.C.
where you can`t sit down and eat a meal, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know about it. Let me ask you about this about tomorrow. My
problem with the president, I look at good politics always the same way.
Have a big idea, and then have something middle sized that he can actually
move through Congress and make it real.
Reagan, whatever you think of his politics and philosophy, understood this.
The country thinks the government is too big. We`ve got to get tougher on
the communists. So he spends more money on defense, cutting spending
domestically and cuts taxes. And everybody knew what he was doing, every
cabdriver in this country knew what Reagan stood for and he got it done.
Obama, you sort of know what he stands for, racial justice and economic
opportunity. But what is the thing he is doing that is moving through
Congress that is going to do it? That`s my question. What is that thing?
THRUSH: That`s a really interesting point. When I asked a White House
official tonight what was going to be sort of connecting that vision to
what King was. And remember, King talked explicitly about poverty.
Obama tends to bind it as Democrats have done, as you know, Chris, to the
middle class. He doesn`t really sort of extricate the poor. He did in
that speech in Binghamton a little bit. He is not -- contrary to what
Clarence wants -- he is not going to address the minimum wage in any way
nor specific than a broad increase in the State of the Union.
He is going to talk about early childhood education, a proposal that he
made earlier this year and he is gong to reiterate the pitch he made on
student loans for students.
But this is not a president who feels particularly comfortable talking
about the poor per se. You can look at a lot of his policy, including ACA.
MATTHEWS: OK, what about the white poor, Clarence?
MATTHEWS: What about the white poor? Bobby Kennedy uniting the white poor
again and the black poor.
PAGE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And isn`t -- look, I look at Appalachia, I look at Kentucky
right down that strip that didn`t like them that much, if he began to
champion those people.
PAGE: Look at single moms in suburbia. That`s where your poverty is
PAGE: You don`t have white ghettoes the way you have black ghettos.
MATTHEWS: These divorced women left with the kids?
PAGE: Many of them are divorced left with kids. Some are never married or
PAGE: You`ve got -- that`s where poverty is in the white community, not to
mention, of course, all the chronically unemployed men.
MATTHEWS: As concrete is I want tomorrow. He is a great speaker.
PAGE: But Obama has not been as comfortable with -- I mean, Glenn is right
about that -- that as Bill Clinton, for example. But that`s the way to --
MATTHEWS: You agree he needs a product.
MATTHEWS: You say it`s minimum wage. I say it`s a big jobs bill. But
something that is real, not to end with the words is enough. You can`t end
with the words.
PAGE: That`s right.
THRUSH: Chris --
MATTHEWS: Yes, quickly?
THRUSH: Chris, speaking of words, the one thing I would look for, will he
say the word Detroit?
MATTHEWS: Well, Detroit is a great symbol of failure. Anyway, thank you,
Glenn Thrush. Thanks for giving us the idea for the piece.
What he is going took tomorrow about is economics and economic inequality,
not just racial inequality.
Thank you, Clarence.
PAGE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Pulitzer Prize-winning from way back when, in 1989.
Up next, Bachmannistan. We`re talking about Michele Bachmann. A new e-
book just came out. More trouble for her. Her staff is in revolt.
What a revolting development. Even her own people on coming out against
her on her way out.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Just a day before the 50th anniversary of the march on
Washington, how much progress has this country made toward reaching Dr.
Martin Luther King`s vision of racial equality?
Well, it all depends upon who you ask. Fifty-six percent of Republicans
but just 38 percent of Democrats say the country has made a lot of
progress. The difference in opinion has a lot to do with the racial makeup
of the two political parties, as we can imagine. Forty-eight percent of
whites say a lot of progress has been made. Only 32 percent of African-
Americans agree. That explains a lot in the party difference.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We are back.
In August of 2011, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann became the
first woman ever to win the famous Iowa presidential straw poll. For a
brief moment there, it looked like she could win the 2012 Republican
nomination for president. That was her high point, of course -- just
before the whole house of cards began to collapse.
Bachmann is currently under investigation for campaign finance activities
by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Election Commission, the
Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, the Urbandale, Iowa, Police Department, and
according to "The Minneapolis Star Tribune", the FBI. And just last night,
a privately published tell-all e-publication co-authored by a former
Bachmann campaign staffer was released, trashing the one-time presidential
It`s entitled "Bachmannistan," there you are, and it proposes to be a
behind the lines look at the Minnesota congresswoman and her political
operation. Bachmann was made famous, of course, here on HARDBALL, in
October 2008, with these unforgettable remarks. Let`s never forget them,
and let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How many are anti-American in the Congress right now that you
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: You would have to ask them, Chris.
I`m focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he has been associating
MATTHEWS: But do you suspect a lot of people you serve with --
BACHMANN: And I`m very worried about their anti-American nature.
MATTHEWS: While he is the United States senator from Illinois, he is one
of the people you suspect as being anti-American.
How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-
American? You`ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone, or are
there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-
BACHMANN: I think -- what I would say -- what I would say is that the news
media should do a penetrating expose and take a look -- I wish they would.
I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the
people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I
think people would love to see an expose like that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. U.S. Congressman Michele Bachmann of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, that was the launch pad right there.
Joining me right now to discuss Bachmann`s rise and fall, ABC news 2012
imbed who was placed on the Bachmann campaign, now a producer, NBC`s own
James Novogrod. And the co-creator of "The Daily Show", Lizz Winstead.
Thank you both for joining us.
Starting first with James -- what happened to Bachmann? Why did she come
off as a morning glory or even a roman candle flying so high back in the
last presidential cycle that she won the Iowa straw poll then sort of
became, I don`t know what, imploded or what? What would you say happened
with all these investigations?
And now, as of last night, her staff coming out with all this stuff about
her, this garbage. Some of it shouldn`t even be quoted about. I think
it`s indecent to be talking about anybody you worked for this way, but the
total lack of any loyalty at stake here.
JAMES NOVOGROD, NBC NEWS PRODUCER: A bit of a stunning reversal of
fortune, Chris. To go from winning the straw poll and then less than six
months later, finishing last among the competitors in the caucuses. This
is a story of someone who in some ways her message of toughness and
plainness of being Iowa`s daughter, the daughter of Waterloo, Iowa, didn`t
necessarily comport with some of her behavior, her showing up late for
events, for instance, Chris, rubbing local party organizers the wrong way.
One of the classic examples of this is that event only a night after
winning the Iowa straw poll, sharing the stage with Rick Perry, it was Rick
Perry`s debut on the stage that night, on the presidential stage. He`d
only announced the day before on the day of the straw poll, and she waited
on her bus.
The crowd was waiting for her. She didn`t mingle with people. It was a
dinner event. And by contrast, Rick Perry had mingled and done quite well.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Lizz Winstead about this.
I don`t know what the comedy is in this whole thing except, you know, a
peacock today, feather duster tomorrow, which is the nature of the
political beast we serve here. You never know what`s going to turn around.
But I thought she had a very good chance at winning the Republican
nomination. They were running right wing. She`s a right winger. She had
the hot hand. She had the microphone. All of a sudden, it just went away.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN & AUTHOR: Well, I think, Chris, there was also --
one of the things there was so much stuff that she had said previously
before she graced her presence on HARDBALL, where you made her a star, you
know? And I think when you look -- here`s the thing that I just kind of am
shocked at is, you know, before any of this, you know, when she was saying
that is no studies that prove carbon dioxide was unsafe, or when she was
saying, you know, the HPV vaccine -- all this stuff happen. And these
people decide to come onboard and hitch their wagon to Michele Bachmann`s
So, what we have is a tell-all from people who actually thought Michelle
Bachman was qualified. And I agree with your setup. It`s an embarrassment
of dissing your boss this way, but it`s also crazy that these people are
So what does that really say about the whole lot of these people?
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to James. Were people working for her just for
the money, just for the opportunity, had no liking for her? No respect for
That doesn`t speak well of them. I don`t think.
NOVOGROD: No --
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
NOVOGROD: To the contrary. To them, to many on her staff, and to many in
her natural constituency, the evangelical voting bloc in Iowa, for
instance. Michele Bachmann represented something very pure. I would
imagine that some of them would agree to work for her without being paid.
In fact, they did at the end of the campaign when they were told they
wouldn`t be paid because the finances were so bad.
MATTHEWS: How do you describe the e-book out as of last night trashing
NOVOGROD: This is another stunning thing when it comes to Michele Bachmann
and her relationship with former staffers and with voters that many of
them, including this particular co-author, Peter Waldron, who is the
evangelical outreach director for the campaign, still say that they respect
her. Still say that --
MATTHEWS: With friends like that, you need enemies.
Hey, Lizz, thanks so much for coming on. Lizz Winstead. You`re great.
This wasn`t worthy of your efforts, but thank you so much. You`re much
better than this story.
You see, Bachmann is not the big story it was back when we made her here on
Anyway, thank you, James Novogrod. Good luck with your new assignment.
It`s a risky one.
And Lizz Winstead, you`re always welcome here on HARDBALL.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
There is no way to predict how far or how crazy the right-wing of this
country is headed. No way.
Nor is there any way to safely predict its leader. How can anyone,
including me, forget that the winner of the Iowa presidential straw poll
the last time around was Michele Bachmann.
But the power, the heat, and the atmospherics in the Republican Party all
point to an extremely hard draft to the right between now and 2016. It`s a
long way to that, of course.
Will the Wild Bunch of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee get caught in a
boxed canyon of their own making? Will they make the mistake of trying to
bring down the US government, risking or even damaging our financial credit
in the world? Will they hurt the American economy just to make a political
We will have to see. And we`ll see fairly quickly. This point of no
return for the Wild Bunch is coming up on us, in fact, in mid-October. We
just learned that yesterday.
Most vitally, will the president of the United States stick to the red line
he has drawn against this recklessness? Will he pursue a program of
economic justice and job creation and opportunity while holding fast and
hard to the country`s fiscal trust?
Will he stick to his promise that when it comes to the enemies of this
country`s economic strength, he will do what he`s determined to do to
Damascus -- make any crossing of his red line a fateful decision for those
who dare to do it?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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