September 18, 2013
Guest: Rep. Mo Brooks, Rep. Steve Israel, Wendy Weiser, Penda Hair, Howard Schultz
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Looney Tunes.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. There`s something strange and
frightening emerging in American politics. I don`t even think it`s right
to call it politics in the sane sense. There are dozens on the right who
are deliberately plotting to jeopardize the U.S. economy by defaulting on
the federal debt. The only way to avoid default, they declare, is for
President Obama and his majority in the U.S. Senate to basically kill the
Affordable Care Act in its crib.
That`s the threat, that`s the demand, and that`s what the American
vote faces tonight because the demand and the threat are now out there for
all to see.
I can`t remember when a major political party did something like this,
threaten the U.S. economy with a body blow that could kill the recovery,
throw the market into a tailspin and whack our 401(k)s to a fare-thee-well.
And what for?
No political leader of the left or right is going to agree to the
erasure of his or her signal achievement in public life. Obama isn`t going
to do it, nor is his party, which has been fighting for health care and
promising health care to its voters, as well as Republicans who`ve been
paying attention, since the days of Franklin Roosevelt.
So what justification does the right wing of this country have for its
senseless assault on the U.S. credit rating, which took a hit the last time
they pulled this tactic? What`s the end game except a period of days in
which the world watches us as the U.S. discredits itself, followed by
another depressing spilled (ph) milk (ph) face-saving gesture that means
nothing, achieves nothing, kills whatever`s in its path?
This is how I look at it. And I hate to see what I see because I
still believe, despite this hard evidence, in the benefits and rightfulness
Representative Mo Brooks is a Republican from Alabama. He supports
using either the budget or the debt ceiling as a way to dismantle the
Affordable Care Act. And David Corn`s an MSNBC political analyst, with
Congressman, I respect your office. Congratulations on representing
your district. My question is, what do you think will be the impact of a
default on the U.S. debt?
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I don`t think there`ll be a
default on the U.S. debt. The total amount of debt of this country,
interest payments, are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. We have
revenue that`s in excess of $2 trillion. So there`ll be absolutely no
default on our debt obligations unless the president of the United States
willingly decides to set us on that calamitous course. Now, that would be
Plus, the House has passed legislation that would make it clear that
the debt obligations ought to be paid first before everything else. So I
reject your premise.
MATTHEWS: Which economist have you gone to that told you that the
secretary of Treasury was wrong yesterday when I heard him say that when
the United States receipts coming in go above what they`re able to cover
and the costs they have to put out, the spending they have to do, that
there will have to be a default? Do you believe the secretary of the
Treasury is lying? And do you have someone else who says we will not go
And if we go into default, what will you pay in terms of consequences?
Will you say, I guess I was wrong? What will do if that`s wrong? Suppose
BROOKS: No. No. The White House is using political gamesmanship and
wordsmanship. It depends on what the word "default" means. To most
people, the word "default" means that you`re not paying your debt
obligations. That`s what it means to me. That`s -- you`re not paying your
creditors. And there`s no way in the world that we would not have
sufficient revenue to pay our creditors.
Now, the president, in his discretion, in a government shutdown or in
a "no raise the debt ceiling" situation, may decide that he doesn`t want to
pay our creditors, but understand we still have over $2 trillion a year in
revenue coming in, and our debt obligations are in the hundreds of
MATTHEWS: So the debt ceiling...
BROOKS: So if he pays those debt obligations, then we`re fine. But
what the White House is using...
MATTHEWS: That`s fine?
BROOKS: ... in the word of "default"...
BROOKS: ... is they`re saying the entire things that...
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris...
BROOKS: ... we want to spend money on, if we don`t spend them, that`s
MATTHEWS: "The Wall Street Journal"...
BROOKS: Chris, that`s the wrong definition.
MATTHEWS: ... lead editorial -- just a minute. "The "Wall Street
Journal" lead editorial said that you`re committing suicide, this is
kamikaze. The other question I have to raise, if there isn`t a debt
ceiling, then what we arguing about? If you say that the debt will be
paid, everything will be paid, well, then why are we arguing about this?
It doesn`t make sense, what you`re saying. It`s illogical. Is there
a debt ceiling?
BROOKS: There is a debt ceiling, and that limits the amount of money
that the United States can borrow. If we`re going to continue on this
spree of trillion-dollar deficits that we`ve had under President Obama --
granted, this year, it`s a good one of only $700 billion, which, of course,
that sarcasm is (ph) bad...
CORN: You know, Chris...
MATTHEWS: OK, I just want to...
BROOKS: ... continue to have these kind of deficits...
MATTHEWS: Congressman, you know as well as I do that these bills have
been passed. The costs have been run up already. The bills have been
signed by the president. What you`re talking about with a debt ceiling
bill is will you pay your debts or not.
BROOKS: Wait a second, Chris. It`s the same thing that governors
have to do in the 50 states. If you have a legislature that has projected
a certain level of revenue and expending and they`re wrong, and the
spending exceeds the revenue, then you have something that`s called
proration. And the governor then forces it to work.
BROOKS: That`s how we do it...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- let me...
BROOKS: ... in the state of Alabama.
MATTHEWS: In other words, your basic argument is there`s no danger
here. The United States will not go into default.
BROOKS: No, no, no.
BROOKS: I`m not saying there`s no danger. There is a risk to our
economy, and I hope that the president will understand that there is a
bigger picture here and that bigger picture is whether the United States of
America is going to continue on...
BROOKS: ... this path to insolvency and bankruptcy.
MATTHEWS: What does he have to do to avoid default, the president?
BROOKS: What the president has to do? OK. Again, which default are
you using, Jack Lew`s or are you using the one that most creditor-
CORN: But Chris, we went through this two years ago!
BROOKS: ... use in their relationships.
MATTHEWS: I know we did. I just want to get the congressman`s views
here before we bring you in, David. You`re saying that the president has
to do what?
BROOKS: Well, the president needs to be financially responsible.
MATTHEWS: That means...
BROOKS: I will vote to raise -- let me finish. I will vote to raise
the debt ceiling if the president will start addressing the underlying
cause of the problem, which is our deficit.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute! That`s not what you guys are saying.
BROOKS: You don`t have to raise the debt ceiling if you have a
MATTHEWS: Excuse me, David. Just a minute here. I want to get his
view. The Graves (ph) bill -- I thought you guys were saying if the
president doesn`t delay or kill "Obama care," the Affordable Care Act.
Isn`t that what you`re demanding as a price for raising the debt ceiling?
BROOKS: I`m not.
MATTHEWS: You`re not demanding that?
BROOKS: I`ve never said that.
MATTHEWS: You`re not demanding that.
BROOKS: I`ve never said that. Now, I will support a continuing
resolution and I will support a raising the debt ceiling that at the same
time kills "Obama care" because I believe...
MATTHEWS: Well, you just said...
BROOKS: ... "Obama care" is dangerous to our...
BROOKS: ... financial situation.
MATTHEWS: What did I just hear you say?
BROOKS: Well, there are other -- there are other circumstances in
which I would vote for a continuing resolution to fund the government or
vote to raise the debt ceiling. It`s not limited to "Obama care"...
MATTHEWS: But you just said -- let me just...
BROOKS: ... although that`s one of the things that would cause me to
MATTHEWS: ... get this straight. Is one of the conditions for
raising the debt ceiling the elimination of "Obama care"?
BROOKS: OK, when you use the word "condition," the answer to me is
no. But that`s one of the carrots that would cause me to do it because
there`d be such a benefit of killing "Obama care"...
MATTHEWS: OK, I can`t...
MATTHEWS: I think that`s a soft way of saying the fact that you guys
on the right are basically saying that there`s a hostage situation here.
We will not bring the government into default if you get rid of "Obama
BROOKS: Wait a second. I don`t want a government shutdown. That`s
something that the Democrats in the Senate and the White House want because
they think they can use it to their political advantage in the 2014
MATTHEWS: OK, well, that`s a conjecture. I don`t know whether that`s
true or not.
BROOKS: The Senate can take care of the problem very easily by just
addressing the appropriation bills that the House has already passed.
MATTHEWS: David -- David, before you start, David, I just want to
point out a couple of facts. First of all, as you point out, or you`re
about to point out, two years ago, we went through this, and we didn`t even
reach the default and we lost 1,760 points in the stock market. The Dow
just dived. It dived. That hurt everybody`s 401(k). These are facts of
Number two, "The Wall Street Journal," not exactly a liberal
newspaper, in its lead editorial the other day said this is kamikaze
Your thoughts, David?
CORN: Well, it`s not just kamikaze. It reminds me of those old
stories of Japanese soldiers left on the island after World War II and they
kept on fighting, thinking they had the same fight over and over again.
We went through the debt ceiling fight. We`ve gone through several
budget showdowns again and again. And yet you see the same thing. You
see, you know, Congressman Brooks and his pals in the House Republican Tea
Party caucus are taking hostages. They`re -- you know, and they`re even
trying to defy John Boehner and Eric Cantor, who would like to come to some
sort of compromise.
They refuse to recognize that we have divided government, and they
refuse to recognize that the Congress passed "Obama care." The Supreme
Court said it was constitutional. And they just want to keep having this
same fight over and over again. In "Groundhog Day"...
CORN: ... you know, Bill Murray...
MATTHEWS: Congressman, I just want to ask you about the polling data
and whether you buy this.
BROOKS: Chris? Chris?
MATTHEWS: I know there`s a political consideration. What do you
think of these poll numbers?
BROOKS: Chris, I...
MATTHEWS: Republicans will be blamed for a government shutdown, a
government default. According to a recent CNN/ORD (ph) poll, a majority of
Americans, 51 percent, will blame Republicans if Congress -- if the
government is shut down. Only 33 percent will blame Obama. Now, when it
comes to debt default...
BROOKS: Chris? Chris?
MATTHEWS: ... 54 percent will blame Republicans...
BROOKS: Chris, I`m sorry, I`m going to have to interject.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
BROOKS: I very much appreciate the opportunity to be on your show,
but we`ve a Natural Resources vote...
BROOKS: ... that is taking place right now.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, thank you.
BROOKS: And I only have about 30 seconds left to get to the House
floor and cast that vote. I`d love to revisit this...
MATTHEWS: Do your job. We`ll have to back.
BROOKS: Enjoyed it. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We`ll have you back. Thanks.
David, I want to let you pick up here, but a couple things that I
think are important to this fact finding here. It`s not just ideology in
this case. It has something to do with philosophy, but it really has to do
If the United States government goes into default or threatens it -- I
was at Jack Lew`s breakfast yesterday at the Economics Club, filled with
business people. I listened to "The Wall Street Journal" editorial. This
is not a left/right argument. It may seem like one with you against this
MATTHEWS: ... but if our government goes into default, our credit
rating will go down immediately. We will face real problems in terms of
the Dow. The stock market will drop. This recession could return, all
kinds of bad things. This is not a left/right argument.
CORN: Interest rates could go up. There could be a financial crisis
that extends beyond the shores of the United States.
Now, the congressman can get up there and make an assertion that
everything will be fine and the president can finagle his way out of this
by paying a certain set of bills, rather than other payments, which we
argued and debated two years ago.
But the bottom line here is that most economists of the right, left
and middle disagree with this. So is he willing to take a gamble?
MATTHEWS: Well, yes.
CORN: Does he want to throw the dice here because he`s so mad about
government spending, which is actually going down? Or he`s so upset about
"Obama care"? And the answer...
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look...
MATTHEWS: David, hold on. Let`s take a look at what the president
said. After the Republicans unveiled their default strategy we just heard
to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Obama took to the offensive.
This is the president earlier today addressing business leaders in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have never seen in
the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not
raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing
party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget
and have nothing to do with the debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Ronald Reagan had the debt ceiling go up 18 times
and signed it every time because it`s a fact of life you have to pay your
bills. It`s not about whether you spend the money or what tax level you
have, it`s about meeting your fiscal requirements. The fiduciary
responsibility of the federal government is to keep those savings bonds
real that kids buy and everybody buys. It`s to make the money you borrow
in T-bills and everything else around the world mean something.
It`s not a joke. And it`s not a political argument. Last thought
from you, David.
CORN: Well, you know, some Republicans want to take hostages to get
policy concessions out of the president. I think some Republicans want to
take hostages just to blow up the bank, just -- they want chaos. They want
to shut down the government...
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right, actually.
CORN: And I think -- and I think that`s what`s dangerous here.
MATTHEWS: I think they`re willing to dance on this thing, thinking
that maybe it`ll blow up. But if it does, you know, that`s the grownups`
problem to deal with. That`s Boehner`s probably and certainly the
president`s. That`s not for little members of Congress, who only have to
represent 600,000 people. All I got to do is be ideologically in synch
with them, as one member said the other day, and I`m covered.
CORN: Boehner`s empowering these people, though. He won`t stand --
you know, he won`t face them down. And so they feel like they have a lot
of muscle. They can even defy "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page.
MATTHEWS: I sometimes think if Boehner does the same thing, he`ll be
speaker for another five more minutes. Anyway, thank you, David Corn.
Coming up: Maybe President Obama could learn a lesson or two from the
last Democratic president. Mr. Bill Clinton, the Big Dog, Elvis, as we
call him, loves to do all the things Obama hates doing. And right now, the
president could use some help.
Also, fighting the good fight, two more groups are suing to stop Texas
from implementing its new voter photo ID law that was designed to do one
thing, make it harder for Democrats to vote, let`s face it.
And the CEO of Starbucks coming here tonight. He says he loves your
business, but please keep the gun at home. Howard Schultz joins us. What
an interesting decision he just made.
And let us finish tonight with this question. Why would any normal
person want to detonate the American economy?
This is HARDBALL, place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Here`s a big reason Republicans should be worried heading
into next year`s mid-term elections. They`re losing big among women
voters. According to our latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, women
are leaning more toward the Democrats now than they were even in 2010 or
2012. Women prefer Democrats by a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent.
That`s a spread of 15 points. And white women, who actually went
Republican in the last two elections, now lean towards the Democrats.
So if the Republicans fail to win the Senate next November, it may
well be because of their poor showing among women.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s an old saying, opposites
attract. And in politics, opposites might just create the perfect
political pairing. Style-wise, there are few politicians less alike than
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. A Politico article today about Clinton`s
frequent calls to lawmakers, known informally as "the Clinton caucus,"
describes it this way.
"His close contact with members of Congress is something of a
counterpoint to the current president, who has all but said he`d rather
stay home and watch ESPN or read to his kids than schmooze with senators."
Well, President Obama`s being sharply criticized not just on the right
but among his allies, too, for being too aloof. Well, lucky for the
president, he`s got a fellow Democrat, an ally, who revels in the kind of
political jawboning he`d rather avoid, especially now.
Well, U.S. Congressman Steve Israel is chairman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee and a member of the informal the Bill
Clinton caucus who has even taken calls from the former president while
jogging on the Mall down in Washington.
Howard Fineman, I don`t know how many calls you get, but you`re
editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and an MSNBC political analyst.
MATTHEWS: I know if you got any calls, you`d be reporting in minutes
because that`s what you have to do.
Congressman, Steve, let me ask you about this. Clinton schmoozing --
you know, I have an old rule in politics. Tip and Reagan used to use it.
Always be able to talk. This willingness to pick up the phone and stay in
touch on even the most, I don`t know, little issues -- like, he apparently
likes to talk to you guys -- tell me if this is true -- about policy
nuances. He likes to just talk about wonky stuff.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, Clinton connects.
And I`ve seen him connect walking through a hotel kitchen, connecting with
the hotel workers and the restaurant workers. And he connects with members
of Congress, where he wants to talk about the dynamics of a congressional
election or wants to talk about the future of Medicare or wants to talk
about, you know, the broad range of issues we have.
And so he does have this relationship with members of Congress. It`s
not calculated. It`s not orchestrated. He just has these relationships,
and he deepens these relationships and sustains them over the years.
MATTHEWS: OK, you do it because I don`t want to do it. You do what
I`ve been through once or twice. I want you to describe it. Describe,
Congressman, because you are the chairman of the campaign committee that
has to get Democrats elected next time, what it`s like when Bill hits you
with those big blue eyes, he looks about two feet from you and makes you
feel like you`re the only person on this planet that he thinks or cares
about. What`s that like?
ISRAEL: Well, it is almost indescribable. I`ve been there, done
that. I have -- you know, it`s like that tractor beam on the old show
"Star Trek." You just can`t -- it`s -- escape is -- resistance is futile.
And it`s not just the intensity and the body language, it is the intellect.
He just kind of brings you in on a very deep level. And no matter how much
you know about any issue, he figures out the one question that you cannot
MATTHEWS: And he also figures you out. He finds out one thing about
you that he thinks you`ve got on your mind, and he works it.
ISRAEL: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: It`s not bad. It`s just really good. Howard, this -- I
want to talk about the political impact of this. Is the president playing
cleanup for the president -- former president playing cleanup for the
current president, looking around for people -- the balls that -- batters
that can be batted in with a little help from him?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I think -- I think Bill Clinton regards the Obama presidency as a
kind of accidental interregnum between Clintons.
FINEMAN: And -- and not that he dislikes the president.
MATTHEWS: ... him and his wife being president for a few years.
FINEMAN: Yes. Exactly. Yes. I mean, he agrees with the president
on most things. He`s thankful to the president for having Hillary be
secretary of state. They`re on the same team. But as you said and the
congressman said, they have very different skills.
And the thing about Bill Clinton is that nothing is irrelevant to his
constant weaving of the social construct of politics. Nothing -- no
people, no issues, no facts. And he`s constantly telling and retelling and
reanalyzing and selling that story.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk...
FINEMAN: There`s nobody better. There`s nobody better.
MATTHEWS: Is it important to him -- I don`t want to just deal with
the fact he`s not only self-interested. Not anybody -- nobody`s totally
FINEMAN: No, of course not.
MATTHEWS: Is he fundamentally thinking, though, that if he helps
Obama at least leave the presidency with a pretty good record, pretty
decent record, not a failure, of course, that`s more helpful to Mrs.
MATTHEWS: ... to Secretary Clinton when she runs? And we all expect
FINEMAN: Of course, absolutely. That`s why I say they`re on the same
And what the president -- what Bill Clinton is doing is, he`s going
around and finding the people who are kind of not engaged with or not
directly focused on the White House, and that`s a lot of people, because as
you said earlier, a lot of people in Washington, a lot of people on Capitol
Hill, a lot of politicians around the country don`t feel connected to
Barack Obama. They might admire Barack Obama. They may have been inspired
by Barack Obama. But they don`t hear from Barack Obama.
Bill Clinton talks to all those people.
MATTHEWS: He`s amazing.
FINEMAN: And the best thing that Barack -- that President Obama could
do to get his agenda passed here in Washington or at least give it a chance
over the next few months is to bring in Bill Clinton and put him in charge,
because the staff around the president at the White House, as good as they
are and as good as they were in the first term, don`t hold a candle to Bill
Clinton`s personal ability to explain and sell.
He can either do it in an auditorium like he did in Charlotte in front
of 18,000 people and 20 million in the TV audience or he can do it, as you
said, person to person. There`s nobody like him.
MATTHEWS: Nobody retails better than he does.
Anyway, outside the Beltway, former President Clinton is strong in the
very demographics President Obama could use a boost. Figure these. Well,
everybody knows this. People 65 and older, Obama`s in trouble with, a
favorable rating of just 31 percent, an unfavorable among older people 57
percent, the president. But the senior set loves Bill Clinton, giving him
a favorable rating of 46 to unfavorable 32.
Clinton is also strong in the South, where he`s from, a region where
the president struggles. Obama`s favorable rating down there is 42
positive, 50 unfavorable. Meanwhile, Arkansas native Bill Clinton is a
rock star in the South, 53 favorable to 32. That`s amazing for a Democrat.
Among white men, Clinton again has the edge. President Obama is
viewed favorably by just 35 percent of white men and unfavorably by 54
percent. By the way, that`s not his fault. Former President Clinton on
the other hand enjoys support from 48 percent of white males, with just 27
percent viewing him unfavorably.
Let me go back to Congressman Israel.
You know how campaigns work. Does Bill Clinton simply benefit from
the fact that he doesn`t done anything lately that bothers people? I just
think that`s -- there`s an advantage. Look at George Bush Sr. Look at his
numbers. He hasn`t done anything in public life except jump out of that
airplane in 20 years and his numbers have gone through the roof. People
like politicians when they`re out of their face, I think.
ISRAEL: Yes. There is a benefit to not having to take any incoming,
no matter who you are.
But I will say this, as the chair of the DCCC, I talk to Democratic
incumbents all over the country. And I don`t care whether you`re a
Democrat Blue Dog in a Republican district or you`re a progressive in a
solidly blue district. You want Bill Clinton in your district, red, blue,
purple, in the middle.
There`s not a single Democratic incumbent that I can think of or
challenger who doesn`t want Bill Clinton in their district.
MATTHEWS: Steve, give me -- Congressman, give me an example of a
trick. You`re out there jogging on the Mall. You`re out there going
through the gravel. It`s a good run, by the way. And he`s on the phone
with you for like 80 minutes. And he`s doing a granular examination of you
on each C.D. in the country. Tell me what that was like listening to him.
ISRAEL: I had just become the DCCC chair.
I had a rare moment. I had about an hour, so I figured I would steal
a run. Went out for a jog. It was pretty hot outside. It was in the
summer. Cell phone rang. And I picked it up and it said President
Those are calls you take. So I found a shady spot, sat under a tree
and then he went through a very lengthy phone call where he was talking
about Medicare, talking about our message, talking about specific
districts, giving some advice on what we needed to do in order to win
And that was a very instructive call. There is no better political
tutor in the world than Bill Clinton, particularly when you`re in the
middle of a jog and find a shady spot.
MATTHEWS: Was he interested in people he wanted to help and also
people he didn`t want to help who he had to settle some scores with?
Because Clinton does keep count. My experience with him tells me that.
ISRAEL: Yes, that didn`t come up at all.
I will say this, that when he goes into a district he wants to know
everything about that district if there`s nothing he does -- if there`s
something he doesn`t know. So he gets granular. He wants to know the
candidate, their position, the demographics, the Democratic performance
index, the Republican performance index. He gets very, very detailed on
every element of the districts in which he`s going to help.
MATTHEWS: OK. Howard, are these guys true allies?
I don`t know that they`re soul mates necessarily. I don`t know that
they spend as much time talking to each other about politics in the
districts as former President Clinton did with the congressman recently.
They don`t just sit down and do that, but, yes, they have a community of
interests, which is that Bill Clinton wants the Democratic Party to be as
strong as possible, with as many electeds as possible heading into a 2016
race where he fully expects his wife to be the Democratic nominee.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he sure does.
FINEMAN: And Barack Obama has an interest in keeping the Democratic
ranks together to the extent that he can.
They`re not at odds in any way. And, as a matter of fact, the
infusion of energy and interest from Bill Clinton here as he tries to
prepare the ground for his wife, I think is a gift to the Obama
administration, if the Obama administration would only take it.
MATTHEWS: He`s amazing, and I think everybody wants to be friends
with Bill Clinton because his wife may well be the next president.
MATTHEWS: That`s part of life too.
MATTHEWS: Steve Israel, thank you, sir, for joining us.
ISRAEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign
And Howard Fineman, our best.
We will be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Joe Biden has got
people talking that he will run for president after he was spotted at a
fund-raiser in Iowa this week. Unfortunately, he missed giving his speech
because he spent four hours trapped in a corn maze.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to the "Sideshow."
That was Jimmy Fallon on the speculation that Joe Biden will run for
president in 2016. But Mitt Romney`s 2012 campaign strategist, Stuart
Stevens, isn`t having any of it. Stevens poked fun of the vice president`s
Iowa trip, comparing Biden`s presidential bids in 1988 and 2008 to the
campaigns of a fringe party candidate named Vermin Supreme.
Quote: "Put it this way," he said. "Vermin Supreme and Biden have run
for president the same number of times and have won the same number of
Stevens was likening Biden to a satirical third-party candidate known
for his campaign antics. Part activist, part performance artist, Vermin
Supreme is known for campaigning with a megaphone and a boot on his head.
That is his real name, by the way. He had it legally changed so it would
appear on the ballot in the New Hampshire primary.
Well, Hillary Clinton may be the front-runner for 2016, but Biden does
have a lot of support over the last five years. He has built it up. He
might just end up be being the we try harder candidate.
Next up, it seems that funnyman David Letterman was watching the
Discovery Channel last week. He made his own version of their latest
documentary about the role of the White House chief of staff. Let`s just
say he uses some artistic license when it comes to the presidency of George
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": They`re
doing a documentary called "The Gatekeepers," the president`s gatekeepers.
And we have excerpted some of it for you tonight so you get an idea what
the presidential chief of staff does. Here, take a look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it`s good and bad, somebody else will handle
it. All the stuff that gets into the Oval Office is between bad and worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chief of staff has to be willing to tell the
president the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If W. made it all the way through a CIA briefing,
we gave him a gum ball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, call it self-parody, I guess, but Dennis Rodman is
playing up his bizarre relationship with the North Korean dictator Kim
Jong-un in a new commercial for pistachios. The basketball star who calls
the young tyrant a friend made headlines earlier this month when he visited
the repressive communist state for the second time in his basketball
diplomacy tour. Here`s the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: The secret to world peace is
NARRATOR: Dennis Rodman does it because he`s nuts. Wonderful
pistachios. Get cracking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s a parody, I guess.
Up next, a fight to stop Texas from implementing its new voter photo
I.D. law, a law that, among other things, makes it harder to Democrats to
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De
La Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani says his country will never develop nuclear weapons. Rouhani also
said he has exchanged letters with President Obama which were positive and
Six people were killed when a double-decker bus smashed into a
commuter train in Ottawa, Canada.
And the Federal Reserve surprised Wall Street by announcing it will
continue its bond-buying policy to keep interest rates low.
I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Last year, a federal court handed a stinging rebuke to Texas
legislators who tried to add a strict voter photo I.D. law. The three-
judge panel said Texas was trying to enact the most stringent voter I.D.law
in the country. And they said the law as written would disenfranchise
minorities and the poor.
The law was blocked under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Then
the Supreme Court as we know gutted the Voting Rights Act, one of the
signature pieces of civil rights legislation in our country`s history. The
conservatives on the court decided -- quote -- "Things have changed
dramatically in the country since the law was first passed."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month summed up what she called the
silliness of that argument. She told "The New York Times" -- quote --
"It`s like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not
Well, the result of the Supreme Court`s decision was dramatic and
swift. Of course, within hours, the Texas attorney general said his state
would move to implement its controversial voter photo I.D. law.
Well, last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sued to block the
law. And now two groups, the Texas NAACP and the Mexican-American
Legislative Caucus, have filed their own suit. Clearly, other states are
watching to see how things unfold in Texas.
Penda Hair is the co-director of The Advancement Project. And Wendy
Weiser is the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for
Justice. Lawyers from that group are involved in the lawsuit.
Let me go first to Wendy.
Wendy, let me ask you about this case. What was the previous way of
deciding whether a -- or the current way of why a voter is a legal voter or
not, a legal citizen entitled to vote? What were the documentary
WENDY WEISER, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: There is a federal
requirement that applies across the nation that a first-time voter, the
first time they vote after registering by mail, has to show some sort of
I.D. to establish their identity before voting and getting in the system.
There`s a wide range of I.D.s that are accepted. And this suffices as
the requirement across the nation.
MATTHEWS: What about registration? How do you prove you`re a
citizen. It`s a border state, Texas. How do you prove you`re in this
country legally? How do you do it?
WEISER: You -- you -- you don`t actually have to file proof of
citizenship when you register to vote.
You have to swear an affidavit, under penalty of perjury. And that is
the proof of citizenship. The election officials can then investigate
whether there are any questions and prosecute or remove people where there
MATTHEWS: What`s the real disincentive for someone who shouldn`t vote
to vote? What is the real way it works in practical -- practical terms?
WEISER: As a practical matter, the penalty for fraudulently voting is
MATTHEWS: I see.
WEISER: It is five years in prison, $10,000 in fines.
Those are the federal penalties. It is very easy to get caught. And
the benefit to that individual voter casting a fraudulent vote are quite
small. It really doesn`t make sense to do that. And it makes sense that
very few people actually do.
MATTHEWS: We were talking about that in the office with the
producers, trying to figure out what it is that stops -- the disincentive
is now -- to everybody watching, it`s common sense. Why would a person who
was in 24 country illegally, undocumented in this country, why would they
risk exposure, why would they risk imprisonment, a serious charge, simply
to vote as an American when they`re not legally an American?
Let me go to Penda on that question.
You would argue, I guess -- or do you argue that the current ways of
determining whether a voter is that voter when they show up is adequate?
PENDA HAIR, CO-DIRECTOR, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Yes. Absolutely,
The Help America Vote Act requires every voter to show I.D. when they
register. It`s just a question of the type of I.D. And what we`re seeing
is we`re seeing across the nation states enacting one law more strict than
the next, so it`s only a particular form of I.D. And you have to go -- in
Texas, it could be up to 200 miles to a motor vehicle location to get that
You may have to pay $22 for a birth certificate or hundreds of dollars
for a marriage certificate or other papers that you need to show.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s like a poll tax.
HAIR: It`s exactly like a poll tax.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let`s take a look.
This week, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general -- that`s
General Greg Abbott -- rejected the arguments against the new voter I.D.
law -- quote -- "Voter I.D.s are required of every Texan regardless of race
and are offered free of charge to anyone who needs one."
Is that true, Penda? What he just said, is it true? It`s being done
regardless of race and it`s free to get a voter I.D. card?
HAIR: First, it has an enormous racial impact, because the people who
don`t have it are disproportionately people of color.
Second, I think Wendy`s lawsuit really lays out that this is
intentional on the basis of race. And, third, even though Texas is making
the I.D. itself available for free, if you can get to the place, and you
have to pay for transportation, and if you have the documents that they
require, which cost money, then, allegedly, it`s free.
MATTHEWS: Anybody get caught like they were in Pennsylvania, Wendy,
anybody get caught like in Pennsylvania, where they were stupid enough, the
Republicans, to say this is why they were doing it?
WENDY WEISER, BRENNAN CTR. FOR JUSTICE: You know, not this year. But
there have been years past where there have been public statements made by
party officials saying that, you know, this is likely to reduce voter
turnout by few percentage points. It has been a subject of contention and
debate in Texas for a number of years. Everybody knew that this had a
disproportionate impact on the basis of race and that there are hundreds of
thousands of Texas eligible and registered voters who currently don`t have
IDs that are acceptable under this law.
And they went through very unusual process to push this law through.
This is the same state that was found last year by another court to have
purposely discriminated on the basis of race in its districting plan.
MATTHEWS: Well, I bring that up, because that guy, Gleason, the party
chair in Pennsylvania, openly said it would shave points like in a
basketball game, in 2012 election. The other guy was saying we`re going to
carry, before the election in 2012, said we`re going to carry this state
because of the voter ID laws. So they`re pretty open-minded. Talking
about open carry politically, they`re going to talk about it.
Let me ask you what the chances are legally of Eric Holder winning
this case, what`s it look like, to stop this voter photo ID requirement
HAIR: I think -- I think it`s a very strong case, the case brought by
the Department of Justice and the case that was just filed today by the
NAACP with Wendy as one of the lawyers. Both of those cases are very
strong because the impact on voters of color is very harsh and there`s
strong suggestive evidence that it was intentional to keep voters of color
out of the system
MATTHEWS: How do you prove that intention, motive?
WEISER: You know, there`s a lot of circumstantial evidence that this
happen -- that they took really unusual steps in order to get this voter ID
law through. This -- the evidence is going to, you know, pile up over the
course of the case, you know. We haven`t even started any of the discovery
in the case.
But, again, this is a state that has in the same legislative session
have found done other voting actions that were purposely done on the basis
of race. We don`t have to show motive in this case under the Voting Rights
Act, but it is clear that the motive was present already.
MATTHEWS: OK, that`s going to be interesting how you develop that.
Anyway, Texas isn`t not alone, of course. North Carolina, we`ve been
talking about, approved a law that is even more severe than Texas. In
addition to requiring a state-issued photo ID, the law there also cuts
early voting down by a week, it eliminates same registration, it allows
paid voter registration drives and it eliminates the ability for poll
workers to issue provisional ballots to someone who shows up at the wrong
And so, we see here, Penda, a regular effort -- I tie this into talk
about shifting the presidential election to a congressional district basis
and taking away the full winner-take-all Electoral College basis upon which
we do it now, all looks like to my an attempt to disenfranchise black
people and people of color generally. It just looks like -- it`s the same
pattern. Don`t let the big cities counts. That`s what they`re up to.
HAIR: Absolutely. This is politicians manipulating the system for
their own advantage.
We`re seeing it in Wisconsin. We`re going to trial in November.
We`re seeing it in North Carolina, where the Advancement Project just
filed a case on behalf of the North Carolina NAACP.
We`re seeing it in Mississippi, where they`ve announced they`re going
to start implementing their strict photo ID. We`ve seen it in Pennsylvania
where the trial just concluded.
It`s a pattern across the country.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I see the pattern, and we`re going to keep talking
about voter suppression. That`s one of my most important issues here at
HARDBALL. That and war and peace, voter suppression is right up there
because it has so much to do with our divide in this country over race. It
sits there and it doesn`t go away.
Thank you, Penda Hair. And thank you, Wendy Weiser. Good luck in
Up next, the CEO of Starbucks wants you to keep ordering Ventis. Big
Venti lobbies in fact. But he wants to leave your guns at home. That
Howard Schultz joins us. He`s the CEO of Starbucks, the whole
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New polling on that governor`s race in Virginia. Let`s
check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a
three-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. It`s McAuliffe, 44
percent, Cuccinelli, 41. The libertarian in that race, 7.
Behind those numbers, Cuccinelli`s favorability rating is a net
negative, while McAuliffe is even.
And the first poll out in the New York race, look at this -- Democrat
Bill de Blasio has a 43-point lead over Republican Joe Lhota. It`s de
Blasio, 65, Lhota, 22. That election is November.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: For months, gun rights advocates have been holding
Starbucks appreciation days at local stores throughout the country,
including even to Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut, where, of course, 20
children and six adults were killed last year. Starbucks` policy has
always been to follow local gun laws allowing what is called open carry,
which exists in some form in 45 states.
Well, the Starbucks policy was celebrated at appreciation day events
by activists who showed up to buy their lattes, if you will, with their
firearms showing. But now, Starbucks has had a change of heart, since
finding themselves in the middle of the gun debate, CEO Howard Schultz is
asking his customers to leave their guns at home.
He joins us now from Seattle.
Thank you very much, Howard, for joining us.
Tell me about your decision, the basic -- I`ve read the letter you`ve
sent to everybody in the country, urging people, at least voluntarily, not
to bring open guns into Starbucks. Why did you do it?
HOWARD SCHULTZ, STARBUCKS CEO: Well, let me say at the outset, Chris,
that, obviously, Starbucks is not a policy-maker and we`re not pro or anti-
gun. We do, however, believe that at this point in time, we are
respectfully asking those customers who are legally carrying a gun not to
come in to the store with a gun.
The question is why? Well, our customers have told us that they have
been jarred and they are uncomfortable seeing people actually walking in
with a gun. I think many people in the country are confused about what
open carry actually means. And we do not believe that guns should be a
part of the Starbucks coffee retail store experience, when people are
coming in for a sense of respite and real sense of community.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I just wonder about this. The law says
that you are allowed to walk around with a gun, showing. That`s a matter
of -- that`s how democracy works. Those states voted that way.
MATTHEWS: That is the way it works. You don`t have to like it.
But the question is, is it open to any business? Like for example,
could a bar, a tap room on the corner say no guns in here after midnight?
Could a tap room say no guns in here at all?
Is it up to the store, if you were legally want to do it, would you
have allowed to say no guns, if you wanted to?
SCHULTZ: Well, you know, as you mentioned, 45 states right now have
an open carry law. But the law is fairly ambiguous about whether or not
you can walk into a private establishment. But the issue for us is we did
not want to ban guns --
MATTHEWS: Well, you know the law, does the law allow you to say no
guns if you said that? If you made it -- if you said no guns in Starbucks,
could you get away with it legally?
SCHULTZ: I think you could get away with it legally. The question
is, how would you enforce it?
In our situation, we don`t want to put our people in a position where
they have to confront or enforce the law, or a position we`re going to take
with somebody holding a firearm.
SCHULTZ: So, we thought the most -- the best example of what we could
do is to make the request respectfully, with civility. And we think the
majority of Americans will believe this is a reasonable request, will
understand it and I think most people who are carrying a gun will honor the
Now, for those people who are not going to honor it and walk into a
Starbucks with a gun, we`ve also said this is important that we are going
to serve them, we`re not going to make them feel uncomfortable, and we
hope, overtime, people will recognize that guns should not be part of
And I think what you said earlier in your remarks, is that we have
been put in a position where sides, pro-gun and anti-gun advocates, have
used Starbucks store as a staging ground for their own political position.
That is not a reason for us, our customers, our shareholders or our brand,
and that`s another reason why we`ve decided to move towards this policy.
MATTHEWS: Why are so open-minded? I mean, most people are for gun
safety, or they`re for gun rights. They don`t just say it`s up to the
customer, their own intentions or their own desires. Why are you so open-
minded? Don`t you have a personal opinion about whether people should walk
around like the old west, carrying open guns?
SCHUTLZ: Well, Chris --
MATTHEWS: I think it`s odd that a person would want to walk in a
saloon, for example, where you`ve seen growing, the danger of mixing
alcohol with gun play, or the danger I guess -- I guess there`s much more
danger mixing it with caffeine, but -- I mean, you don`t have an opinion at
all, Howard. It seems strange. That`s all.
SCHULTZ: Well, it`s not that -- it`s not that I don`t have an
opinion, Chris. This is as you know perhaps one of the most polarized,
emotional issue in our country. For 200 years, the Second Amendment has
provided this opportunity for people to have a firearm. It`s not for
Starbucks to make a policy.
But it is up for Starbucks to preserve the integrity of the experience
our customers are having in our stores, and they do not want to see guns.
And as a result of that, we are in business to serve our customers, not to
make a law, not to make a policy, and not to be on the side of pro or anti-
MATTHEWS: What`s been the reaction of your baristas, the people who
serve the coffee? By the way, they`re all incredibly well-mannered and
they all work very hard. I like most of the people I deal with in
northwest Washington where I go to Starbucks. I have to tell you, I spent
a lot money there, by the way, over the years.
What do they think?
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: What do they think about young and old people -- I know all
ages now work at Starbucks. What do they think about a guy walks in with
an open pistol? Does that bother them?
SCHULTZ: I think it has produced a fair amount of confusion and
discomfort for our people. And I think our people today, the vast, vast
majority of Starbucks personnel have really supported this decision.
MATTHEWS: Your decision.
SCHULTZ: They think we`re on the right side of it.
MATTHEWS: Yes. So they`re happy with your decision to discourage
people from bringing guns and open carry into your Starbucks?
SCHULTZ: Yes, because we have embraced the guiding principles and the
values of our company, and that is we`re in business to serve our
MATTHEWS: I like your idea, by the way, of a third place. I think
everybody wants to get away from work. They may not be ready to go home.
There`s still something really nice about sitting someplace where you`re
not working for somebody and you don`t have the responsibilities of being
home, I get, by the way, completely. I understand why people relax there
and do their homework there.
Thank you very much, Howard Schultz, for coming on.
SCHULTZ: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with a question come back,
why would a sane person want to tank the American economy?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
Do you ever get the feeling that the loony tunes are taking over? Why
would any normal person want to detonate the American economy? Least of
all, why would those calling themselves the patriots want to do it?
If they love America, why are they out there bringing it done, by
having the U.S. government default on its debt?
Look, I used to be a newspaper boy, we were encouraged to buy those
days U.S. savings bonds. It was the good, patriotic thing to do. Besides,
it was a guaranteed deal. Those patriotic-looking savings bonds were as
good and solid as the U.S. government itself.
It`s that U.S. government the loony tunes are now pushing down,
knocking the recovery off its feet with them, leveling our 401(k)s, killing
hopes for a decent retirement. And while they`re at it, they want to carry
pistols, rifles, semiautomatics, whatever they want to carry, whatever
firepower man has created in there when they go in to buy their
Who are these people who want to cash out of the U.S. government, cash
in -- cash in on the going institution, meanwhile arming up themselves to
be one man/one woman constabularies? Is this the right wing future? The
dream land of the loony tunes? Government that has gone into default, a
Main Street they can prowl loaded for bear.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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