updated 9/23/2013 1:44:25 PM ET 2013-09-23T17:44:25

HARDBALL
September 20, 2013

Guest: Rep. Luke Messer, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Rep. Blake Farenthold, Ryan
Grim, Matt Malone, Mary Hughes

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Diving into trouble.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Deadbeat, a person who tries to
evade paying debts. That`s the Websters New World College dictionary
definition. The question now before the U.S. Congress is whether America
itself decides to be a deadbeat country.

Does the United States of America wish to state now on the record that
it will no longer accept responsibility for paying the military`s salaries
and the service people, will not pay for the fighter planes we buy, will
not pay the costs of housing and treating disabled veterans? Will we let
the word go forth -- paraphrasing John F. Kennedy here -- that this country
will not pay its bills, will not make good on the commitments to which it
has legally bound itself?

Is the wealthiest land in the world ready to turn itself into a
deadbeat, worse yet, get itself branded on such on world markets?

U.S. Congressman Luke Messer is a Republican from Indiana and
Congressman Chaka Fattah is a Pennsylvania Democrat.

I`d like to hear -- first of all, let`s go to Republicans in the
House, led Speaker John Boehner. They put on quite a show after a
continuing resolution that would kill "Obama care" in its crib. It`s a
bill they know has zero chance of becoming law and every chance of shutting
down the U.S. government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE House: The American people
don`t want the government shut down, and they don`t want "Obama care."

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BOEHNER: The House has listened to the American people. Now it`s
time for the United States Senate to listen to them, as well.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BOEHNER: Thank you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There was also high drama on the House floor as Democrats
pleaded with Republicans to abandon their kamikaze mission, they call it,
to defund the Affordable Care Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What is brought to the
floor today is without a doubt -- without a doubt -- a measure designed to
shut down government. It could have no other intent. Its purpose is
clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a blatant act of hostage taking. The
Republican CR also lays the groundwork for a default on our debt, an
unthinkable act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And just hours later, President Obama himself delivered a
fiery campaign-style speech out in Kansas City, taking aim at Republicans
in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we fail to includes
the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin. That`s a quote,
by the way, what I just said. You know who said it? The Republican
Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

You don`t have to threaten to blow the whole thing up just because you
don`t get your way.

If Washington will act with the same decency and common purpose that
you and Americans all across the country do every single day, the economy
would be stronger not just a year from now or five years from now or ten
years from now, but 20 and 30 and 50 years from now. And as long as I have
the privilege of serving as your president, that`s what I`m going to be
focused on!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, as you just heard, the president mentioned in that
clip, this mess falls squarely, they say, on the shoulders of House Speaker
John Boehner. While he managed to pass a continuing resolution by
kowtowing to the far right of the caucus, the Senate is going to send it
right back to him next week without the kill "Obama care" language it has
in it now.

If Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, holds good on his promise to do,
quote, "anything necessary and anything possible to defund `Obama care`"
next week, he could drag out the process in the Senate until the Sunday,
the 29th of September. That would leave Speaker Boehner just a day before
a government shutdown.

Congressman, let me ask you about this word "deadbeat." Do you accept
my definition of deadbeat, someone who won`t pay their bills?

REP. LUKE MESSER (R), INDIANA: Chris, are you talking -- are you
talking to me? I know you`ve got...

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

MESSER: ... two of us here on camera.

MATTHEWS: No, to you, Congressman Messer.

MESSER: Well, I mean, I think it`s important that you pay your bills.
What I reject is just the...

MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t you?

MESSER: ... premise of the last two minutes, Chris. I mean, listen,
we passed a bill today that will fund government and would protect the
American people from "Obama care." The people that are talking about
shutting down government are you, the president...

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Let`s get straight...

MESSER: ... and Nancy Pelosi.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get the precedent here. The government has to
pay its bills. You have a continuing resolution because you haven`t passed
the appropriations because, among other reasons, Ted Cruz has insisted the
two Budget Committees never meet in conference this year. So there never
was a chance to pass an adequate set of appropriations bills or a budget
resolution That`s a fact on the record, sir. That`s just not an argument.

My question to you is, list all the programs you`ve seen tried to --
that you`ve tried kill in a continuing resolution on budget deadline, the
end of the year deadline. Give me all the other ones besides "Obama care"
Congress has ever tried to kill using the continuing resolution. Just list
them for me.

MESSER: Yes. I mean, listen, the...

MATTHEWS: No. Listen to me. What time in history in this country
has the Congress tried to kill a bill that`s been signed -- passed by the
Congress in both houses, 60 votes in the Senate, 218 in the House, legally
signed into law by the president, then killed by a continuing resolution.

Give me an example -- you act like this is the...

MESSER: Listen...

MATTHEWS: ... normal thing, to hold hostages!

MESSER: I mean, Chris, you -- you -- you have a president who will
negotiate with Vladimir Putin...

MATTHEWS: OK, I can only...

MESSER: ... but won`t negotiate with the House Republicans.

MATTHEWS: ... ask the questions. You can give the speeches. I can
only ask a question.

MESSER: No, and we have -- we have both the CR and the continuing
resolution to solve here. You know that there are -- many of the
provisions of "Obama care" are not popular even among Democrats. The AFL-
CIO came out against this -- many provisions just yesterday. I mean, the
president`s support on this bill is crumbling, and that`s why we see all
this vitriol out on the Web (ph).

MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me -- let me ask you, is the Obama -- is the
Affordable care Act a law of the land?

MESSER: What is the law of the land that was...

MATTHEWS: Is it a law of the land?

MESSER: Yes, that was orchestrated to be delayed in its
implementation for three years. And the signup for it starts here in just
few days...

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

MESSER: ... and obviously, it becomes effective in January.

MATTHEWS: So your position is the United States government cannot pay
its bills after October 1st unless you kill the Affordable Care Act.
That`s the deal.

MESSER: My...

MATTHEWS: That`s your deal.

MESSER: No, my position is that we should fund government and protect
the American people from "Obama care." And we can do that...

MATTHEWS: How`s that different from what I just said?

MESSER: ... if the president will...

MATTHEWS: OK...

MESSER: We can do that if the president comes to the table.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go -- let`s go to Congressman Fattah of
Philadelphia. Congressman, I think the congressman in his own way said
that the deal here is -- and I think the way the American people understand
it -- the Republicans are basically saying, Unless you can kill "Obama
care," as it`s called now, by October 1st, there will be no government
after October 1st. That`s the deal.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: There are two things that we
need to make clear. One is the president of the United States, Barack
Obama, has never spent one dollar or added one dollar to the debt that the
Congress did not direct that he spend through an appropriation bill.

So the question now is, are we going to pay our bills? This is not
debt run up by the president, this is debt authorized by the Congress that
we need to pay, and we need to do it before we run up to our credit limit.

Two, is you don`t pass anything in our government -- you learn this in
high school and in middle school, if you go to a good one -- that you have
to pass something out of the House and the Senate and the president has to
sign it for it to be law.

Republicans have killed "Obama care" 40-plus times. It`s not dead,
which is why they are going through this last bit of activity here because
on October 1, Americans are going to learn something, which is that for --
in many cases, for less than $100 a month, you`re going to be able to get a
quality health insurance program with a private company that`s going to
protect you and your family.

And the Republicans, as they fought against Social Security, as they
fought against Medicare, as they seem to be against things that would help
the public -- the only thing they seem to really be for is tax cuts for the
rich.

So they`re going through this, but the president`s not going to
equivocate one inch, not going to compromise one iota. And we`re going to
have this fight, if we need to have it. The only question is how much do
we need to hurt our own economy for the Republicans to learn that they lost
the last presidential election?

MATTHEWS: Let me go to the congressman, Congressman Messer. Thanks
for coming on the show, by the way. This is going to be a heated argument
not just here, by the way. As you know, it`s on the floor, as well, and in
the country.

Let me ask you how it`s going to go next week. The Senate, of course,
is expected, because it`s a Democrat-led Senate, to probably not -- it`s
not going to including elimination of "Obama care" in its continuing
resolution. That will come back to the House of Representatives some time
next week, hopefully, in time for the leadership to do something, for
Speaker Boehner to do -- what do you want Speaker Boehner to do if he`s
confronted with the fact that the Senate did not go along with the House?
What do you want him to do?

MESSER: Well, look, Chris, it`s hard to deal with the hypotheticals
of what could happen next week, Chris. We want to keep government open,
and our goal is to -- to rid the American people of "Obama care." We have
two major issues before us, both the continuing resolution and the debt
limit, as well. And it gives us multiple opportunities to bring this
policy forward.

The president has already signed seven bills that have changed "Obama
care." He`s delayed the employee mandate...

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK. But I`m just trying to get to the...

MESSER: ... so that it can be delayed!

MATTHEWS: OK, let me...

MESSER: It can be delayed.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you your bargaining position. Speaker Boehner`s
alluded to the fact that he may not hold the president hostage or the CR
hostage to "Obama care." He might say, We`ll put together a list of cuts,
for example, or we`ll throw in Keystone pipeline or a couple of other
things that the Republican majority in the House would like to see done as
part of the continuing resolution.

Fair enough, by the way. That`s traditional horse trading. Would you
go along with something where you don`t get to kill "Obama care" this time
around, you take another shot at it during the fight over the debt ceiling
in a couple of weeks, but this time around, get some spending cuts and
perhaps the Keystone.

Would you go along with a deal like that at the end of next week?

MESSER: Yes, potentially, but it requires the president to come to
the table and agree...

MATTHEWS: No, I understand. But are you at the table?

MESSER: ... that he will negotiate...

MATTHEWS: Are you waiting at the table?

MESSER: Sure. We have big issues as a country. We have a failing
economy. We have a budget that` out of control. And we have these
challenges of "Obama care." We need to make major progress on all three.

MATTHEWS: So it`s not a take it or leave it from your end about
killing "Obama care."

MESSER: Well, listen, I believe that`s the right policy. We have two
opportunities here to do it. And I think, frankly, that the president,
when the American people make it clear over the next several weeks, he will
step forward and at least delay this law.

Listen, this president`s known for drawing lines that he doesn`t keep.

MATTHEWS: OK...

MESSER: And I think there`s a potential he won`t keep this one.

MATTHEWS: You know, do you ever gamble, sir, privately? Did you ever
go bet on...

MESSER: No, I really -- I really don`t like...

MATTHEWS: ... the 21 or blackjack...

MESSER: No, I really don`t like gambling.

MATTHEWS: You ever go to the track or anything? Because I`m
available if you want to call me afterwards. I`m ready. The president`s
not going to give up on "Obama care."

MESSER: I`m pretty boring.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Fattah, my old friend, what do you think of the
odds, just as the -- if you were to give some bookie advice to somebody
here, what do you think the odds are the president of the United States
will give up on the one sure thing that will get him in the history books,
"Obama care," affordable health for 47 million people waiting in the
emergency room right now? Your thoughts.

FATTAH: There`s not a person in the country except for people, who
are drinking this Tea Party tea, who believes that the president`s going to
walk away from "Obama care." It`s not going to happen. Five-and-a-half
million people in my state with pre-existing conditions are going to be
able to get insurance and to get it at not at an increased rate come
October 1. They`re not going to have any lifetime limits anymore in
insurance or annual limits.

I mean, this is a very important program. And the only thing I can
say is that Republicans have been on the wrong side of history. There`s
one team that wants more education, more health care, more jobs...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FATTAH: ... and there`s another team that wants to beat up on the
president. And we saw this with Clinton.

MATTHEWS: OK...

FATTAH: We see it with Obama. Anything that the president`s for,
they`re against.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s partly true. I don`t think that`s true with
Mr. Messer. But may I ask you, Congressman, this. You know, if you look
back at the history -- and we all know the history we grew up with, as the
congressman from Philadelphia mentioned, civics, we all learned it --
Social Security passed under Roosevelt. It was opposed by the Republican
Party. Since then the Republican Party has basically accepted the social
contract, including some kind of retirement for retirees, people over 65.

And then Medicare was fought over during the Great Society, and the
Republicans opposed that. But now they basically know that one of the most
popular federal programs ever created was Medicare.

Won`t -- isn`t your biggest fear that down the road, 10, 20 years from
now, once people get used to the Affordable Care Act, they`re going to like
it? Isn`t that your biggest fear?

MESSER: No, I mean, that`s...

MATTHEWS: Not that they -- because if they`re not going to like it,
you guys win the argument. But if they like it, you lose again. Three
strikes, you`re out -- Social Security, Medicare, and health care. You`ve
been wrong three times in a row. Your thoughts.

MESSER: Chris, I`m not aware of any historical precedent with Social
Security or Medicare where you had these kinds of transition problems
you`ve had with "Obama care."

Contrary to the president`s promises, rates are going up. Contrary to
the president`s promises, folks are losing the insurance plans they`re on.
Contrary to some promises, people are losing their jobs.

FATTAH: But Chris...

MESSER: They`re losing hours. And this reaction is to that. You
know, to me, the interesting part of the debate here is you`re talking
about the president`s legacy, we`re talking about real people`s problems!

MATTHEWS: I know. I understand. Well said.

MESSER: And that`s what we`re trying to step forward for.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

FATTAH: Chris, let me...

MATTHEWS: By the way, I think you could be win-win here. You could
win this time (INAUDIBLE) or you could win later if people don`t like the
program. But I think they`re going to like it. Your thoughts. Last word
from Chaka Fattah, sir.

FATTAH: Chris, we don`t have to go to ancient history. Medicare
didn`t have any drug prescription programs. Under President Bush, they put
in a prescription drug program. The Democrats really didn`t think that was
the best way to go, but you know what? We accepted it. And when we took
the majority, we didn`t try to get rid of it. What we did was go out and
eliminate the donut hole so that seniors got all of the help they needed
for prescription drugs.

That`s what Republicans should do now. If they think there`s a
problem with the Affordable Care Act, help us mend it. But we`re never
going to see this ended. We`re not going back to a country where people
don`t have health insurance for their families and for their children.

MATTHEWS: Thank you much, Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming
on on Friday late in the afternoon, sticking around, Congressman Luke
Messer of Indiana and Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania. Thank you, sirs.

Coming up: Ted Cruz may be -- well, be the gift that keeps on giving
for liberals, at least, progressives. He`s ignited a civil war in the GOP.
Wait until you hear these arguments, and even some Republicans, a lot of
them, are saying a government shutdown -- what it could do for the
Democrats and can`t do for them. This is fascinating. This is interesting
politics, you know, even exciting.

You know what else the Democrats could win back? The White House.
And right now, the candidate, let`s face it, who terrifies the Republicans
most is doing what`s needed, at least, to make a run in 2016. Without
saying she`s running, Hillary Clinton may already be running.

And, the extraordinary Pope Francis. I really like this leader, of
course, of our church. He says the church has grown obsessed with
abortion, gay marriage and contraception. What do we make of this? Big
question for Catholics and everybody watching.

And once again tonight, we`ll give you the chance to play HARDBALL
with me when I answer your Twitter questions. It`s always fun to see if
I`m on my game.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s getting tight in Virginia, a new race down
there, new numbers. Look at this. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard"
on Virginia. the Old Dominion.

Here it is. According to a new poll from Roanoke College, it`s
Democrat Terry McAuliffe now with just a 2-point lead over Republican Ken
Cuccinelli, McAuliffe 36-33, lots of undecideds there. And that`s within
the poll`s margin of error. About a fifth of Virginia -- as I said, of the
voters there are undecided still.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the frustration and anger
against Ted Cruz by many Republicans today continued. Cruz spent the last
few months, of course, pushing Republicans to use the threat of a
government shutdown as leverage to defund the Affordable Care Act. And on
the eve of House Republicans doing exactly that, Cruz this week essentially
admitted that there was very little hope in the U.S. Senate itself to pass
a defunding bill. Instead, he tossed the hot potato over to the House,
saying it was up to the House Republicans, and Republicans in the House
then surprisingly weren`t too happy with that.

Here`s Representative Peter King today calling Cruz a fraud, strong
word. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It`s something we have to do. It`s a
step in the right direction. And hopefully, it`ll be a major step in
letting people know that Ted Cruz is a fraud and he`ll no longer have any
influence in the Republican Party.

Today`s vote is definitely a signal that we have to take more
realistic and practical approaches. And we can`t be going off on these
false (INAUDIBLE) people like Ted Cruz wants to go on. The issues are too
important, they`re too serious. They require real conservative solutions,
not cheap headline-hunting schemes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Other Republicans were equally annoyed. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: You should have been on the floor or
back in the cloakroom. There was -- I mean, there was so much anger, so
much frustration because, again, we`ve been abused by these guys for so
long.

And what I see happening now is people coming out and calling them out
for the hypocrisy of these big, tough conservatives who know how to fight
but will never get in the ring. They keep trying to put this fight in the
House. They can hold the Senate and have this fight as long as they want,
but they`re not willing to do it.

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: Ted Cruz and others like him have
been writing checks with their mouth that their votes can`t cash. And you
know, I think now they have to put up or shut up. So for me personally, I
think that`s one message that I want to send back to the Senate, that they
can`t continue this political rhetoric if they don`t plan on backing it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So why are so many Republicans from moderate areas like
Staten Island and out in Wisconsin very hostile now towards the senator
from Texas?

U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold is a congressman from Texas. He
joins us now. Congressman, there`s a lot -- I`ve never seen anybody out in
the street there in front of the cameras calling another member of their
caucus a fraud who`s going to lose their influence with the party, pretty
strong stuff there from some Republicans in the Northeast and the Midwest.
Is this a Texas thing, Cruz, that he`s that far out? Or what is -- how`s
your view of where he fits in the party?

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Listen, they better not mess with
Texas! Nobody thought Ted Cruz could win election to the Senate against
David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor, who was so far ahead of him in the
polls early on, he was thought to be unbeatable. But Cruz came through and
pulled it off and won election to the U.S. Senate.

Now, Ted asked for the opportunity to take this up in the Senate. We
gave it to him. And I wouldn`t be surprised if he delivers. I certainly
hope he does.

MATTHEWS: How does he deliver? OK. Let`s get the reality here. I
know you like him. You`re a loyal Texan from the Lone Star State and all
that.

But is it the Lone Star State on this one? Because I wonder. It
takes 41 votes in the Senate to basically stop a measure from getting to a
vote. Does he have 41 votes to do that, not just a vote for Obamacare
elimination, or whatever that`s about, but to actually stop this continuing
resolution from financing the government? Can he do that?

FARENTHOLD: Well, listen, we picked up two Democrat votes in the
House of Representatives today. We can hope Ted can get a few over in the
Senate.

Listen, the American public has turned on Obamacare. And we have got
senators up for election on the Democrat side who would be well to listen
to their constituents and the American people.

MATTHEWS: So, why do you think so many Republicans up in the
Northeast and Midwest are calling this guy no good? And these are pretty
personal statements by people like Peter King. What is it about?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, a couple of them might be running against him for
president already too.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the president. Is he eligible
to be running for president? I have said he is. Do you agree?

FARENTHOLD: I wouldn`t be surprised.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, eligible. No, stick to the point, Congressman.

I said I believe he`s eligible. He had an American mother. No matter
where he was born, you have an American mother, I believe you`re a natural-
born citizen. Do you agree with that?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, we have had this discussion about President
Obama, so...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is this too complicated? I`m talking about Cruz. Stick to
the point, Congressman, Cruz.

FARENTHOLD: He`s as eligible as Obama is.

MATTHEWS: Well, what does that mean?

FARENTHOLD: Obama is president. Ted Cruz can be president.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean? Explain terms. This is serious
business, Congressman. You`re chuckling about this.

FARENTHOLD: No, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Is he eligible to be president or not? You have been
touting the guy and said he could run for president. Explain. Is he
eligible? You brought it up. I didn`t.

FARENTHOLD: No, I think he`s eligible. I`m giving you a yes answer.

MATTHEWS: So, if Obama was born overseas to an American mother, even
if that crazy theory of Donald Trump is true, he`d still be eligible to be
president, by that standard.

FARENTHOLD: Well, listen, we`re talking about Ted Cruz.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Can`t you project an inch mentally?

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: I`m telling you that President Obama is the president.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, no, you brought this up.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Was he a legitimately elected president of the United
States?

FARENTHOLD: I wasn`t in Congress to determine that. That was
determined before I got here.

MATTHEWS: Well, when does Congress get to determine whether a
president meets the standards of being a natural-born citizen? What would
that formulation be? In other words, there`s going to be a vote in
Congress sometime between now and 2016 whether Ted Cruz is legitimate?

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: It`s when the Congress accepts the electoral votes.
That`s when it would have been timely to raise.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And what would you have done?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, I wasn`t here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why are you afraid of this?

FARENTHOLD: I`m not afraid of it at all. I`m not afraid of it at
all.

MATTHEWS: What is in the water down there? Say yes or no. Is Barack
Obama a natural-born citizen?

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: I have said Ted Cruz is as eligible to be president as...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is -- this is the problem with your party. It`s
gotten so far into the wacko bird. What`s wrong with saying Barack Obama
is a natural-born citizen and therefore eligible to be president? Why
can`t you say that?

FARENTHOLD: I`m saying President Obama is president. What else is
there to say than that? We`re nitpicking over words here.

MATTHEWS: No, no, no, because you are playing a game once again of
trying to somehow make him not quite the president. Yes, he got into the
office. You`re admitting that. But he didn`t do it legitimately. Did he?
Just say he did.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: Say he did what? He`s president. He`s president. What
more is there to say?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Can you repeat after me? He was legitimately elected
president.

FARENTHOLD: President Obama was elected president.

MATTHEWS: Legitimately.

FARENTHOLD: The people elected him, yes.

MATTHEWS: Legitimate. So he was a natural-born citizen?

FARENTHOLD: I didn`t make that judgment when he was brought in.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, everybody watching knows what you`re doing. You`re dodge-
balling.

Anyway, let me ask you about the United States government. What`s
your view about this continuing resolution funding the government beyond
October 1? Do you want that to happen or not?

FARENTHOLD: Absolutely.

We voted to fund everything but Obamacare. Of course we want to keep
funding the government.

MATTHEWS: But Obama is part of the law of the land.

FARENTHOLD: And we`re Congress. Guess who gets the change the law of
the land? Congress.

MATTHEWS: But you`re not changing it. You`re simply defunding it.

FARENTHOLD: No.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: We are changing the law that grants the money to
Obamacare.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you the same question I put to the other
congressman.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: The Constitution gave us the power of the purse. We`re
exercising it.

MATTHEWS: Right. And that`s right. The Congress passed by 218 votes
Obamacare. It was also passed by the Senate with 60 votes. It was
filibuster-proof.

FARENTHOLD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The president of signed it. It`s the law of the land. My
question to you is, list the other laws that Congress has vitiated using
the continuing resolution or the debt ceiling. What other laws or program
has Congress killed in the way you`re trying to kill Obamacare? Just list
one other case you have done it in history, just once.

FARENTHOLD: Again, we can do it. We have the power of the purse.

Just because it hasn`t been done before doesn`t mean it can`t be done.
I think the Constitution is pretty clear that the House of Representatives
gets to decide where the money is spent.

MATTHEWS: Right. I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congressman, you`re saying that, and it`s true by
definition. But the question is, don`t come back and then say this is a
fight you didn`t start. Don`t say the president started this fight by
insisting on Obamacare being funded.

He didn`t start the fight. Ted Cruz started it and other people said,
you know what?

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: I have never said that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Good. Explain.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: I`m against Obamacare. I want it to go away. And I`m
fighting for what my constituents wants.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And you`re willing to say this is a fight that Texans want.
You have started the fight. Cruz is funding it. Cruz is leading it. And
this is a fight you`re willing to take to the wall?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, we`re going to run this through the Senate, see
what Ted Cruz -- happens.

The Senate is going to send a bill back to us and we`re going to
decide what to do with it then, just the way the founding fathers intended
it.

MATTHEWS: And what will you do?

FARENTHOLD: I`m tired of the backroom deals in the White House. I`m
tired of Harry Reid and John Boehner going together in a smoke-filled room
and deciding what it`s going to be.

The elected members of Congress, the House of Representatives have
spoken. It`s now time for the Senate to speak.

MATTHEWS: OK. Last question, Congressman. It`s a good political
question.

And, by the way, congratulations on being elected to the United States
Congress. It`s a great honor.

My question to you. It comes with the office. Who are you more loyal
to, John Boehner or Ted Cruz?

FARENTHOLD: I`m loyal to the people of the state of Texas who elected
me. I`m not loyal to any other politician.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you for coming on, Blake Farenthold of
Texas.

FARENTHOLD: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on the show. It was the kind of heated
discussion which is going on in Congress.

I haven`t called anybody a fraud, by the way.

Up next, it`s your chance to play HARDBALL. I`m going to answer your
Twitter questions. I don`t like that word, Twitter. But it`s serious
questions anyway.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s time again for our special segment, "Let`s play HARDBALL," where
you, the audience, at least some of you, get to turn the tables on me and
ask me anything on Twitter.

So let`s get started with a question from Tim Rogers (ph) of
Texarkana, Texas, a real Texan again. He asks, "So are we doomed to this
gridlock forever because of gerrymandering in the states?"

Well, here`s the problem, sir. It`s so interesting, because a lot of
minorities and liberals live in big cities. They get like 85 percent in
places like Philadelphia or out in San Francisco, 90 percent votes. A lot
of votes of liberals don`t really count as much as they should. It`s just
the way the geography works.

Then add to that the gerrymandering that goes on, the make sure that
the districts, Republican districts, are more numerous than Democratic
districts. My state, in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, 100,000 more votes
were cast for Democratic candidates for Congress statewide than for
Republicans. How many Republican congresspeople are there now? Thirteen.
How many Democrats? Five.

So, even though the Democrats got an overall total much higher than
the Republicans in terms of total votes, as they were distributed C.D. by
C.D., the Republicans come out ahead. That`s what`s called gerrymandering.

The next question comes from Kenneth Hopes (ph), Hopes (ph) actually,
a veteran from Chetek -- Chetek -- Chetek, Wisconsin -- Chetek, Wisconsin.
He asks -- quote -- "What political benefit is there for the GOP to shut
down the government and deny health care and stop feeding the poor?"

Well, I think they`re playing to their base. I think there are people
in this country, about 20 percent or maybe more, who are really, really,
really angry at Obama, they don`t like him, they maybe even hate him. And
they hate big government. They hate gun control. They hate it all.
They`re just in a really, really upset, angry mood. They are patriotic
people, but they are really angry.

And I think this kind of gamesmanship and brinkmanship is playing to
them.

Here`s a question from Anthony Miller of Greenville, North Carolina.

By the way, that won`t help them win the presidency.

Greenville, North Carolina, of course. He asks: "You love to talk
about Kennedy, which is one of my favorite presidents. Compare his actions
on Cuba to Obama`s on Syria."

Well, of course there`s great differences. And, of course, Jack
Kennedy was a war hero to start with and of course one of the great
presidents in history, I believe. I think one of the reasons he`s one of
the great presidents, the way he dealt with the fact we almost went to
nuclear war in 1962 against the Soviets.

What he saw in the last minute was the fact that neither side was
going to give. Those missiles were in place in Cuba. They were still
building them. The Soviet ships were still coming. He had to find a way
to deal with the Soviets and allow a chance for Khrushchev to back off.

So, he took some missiles that were already placed in Turkey, Jupiter
missiles which were already pretty much out of date, and he said OK,
secretly to Khrushchev, you will need this to take to your generals. Tell
them if I pull them out -- or promise to pull them out secretly, you can
pull the missiles out of Cuba.

At a certain point, you have to give the other side a chance to back
away or you`re going to have war. And I think that`s what -- I think in
this case Putin -- we will wait and see. Trust and verify and all that
stuff. But I think Putin has a chance here to be a great world leader for
a few months leading up to his Winter Olympics next year.

So don`t put down the chances that it`s in Putin`s interests to be the
good guy here. It`s just possible. And I think we got to bet on it.

Up next, she hasn`t made it official, but it looks more and more like
Hillary Clinton is running for president.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.

Several shootings across Chicago have left four people dead and 20
hurt. In one incident, 13 people were shot in a park, including a 3-year-
old boy. He`s in critical condition.

The Mexican military is flying in supplies to thousands of people who
are stranded by severe flooding in Acapulco; 68 people are missing from the
floods; at least 97 have died.

And BlackBerry announced that it`s cutting 4,500 jobs as part of its
restructuring plan. That`s 40 percent of its work force -- back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t.
Somebody may know, but I don`t. I`m not one of the people who does. These
polls don`t mean much. Now, we`re a long way ahead. I think she`d be the
first to tell you that there`s no such thing as a done deal ever by
anybody, but I don`t know what she`s going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Oh, he is the big dog, Elvis. He is something. That was
former President Bill Clinton, for that one person in the world who doesn`t
know who he is, talking about his wife`s potential presidential campaign
come 2016 and the chances she`d win.

Well, that interview comes on top of today`s reporting from Politico`s
resident Clinton expert -- that`s Maggie Haberman, who is so great -- who
revealed new information on the former secretary of state`s possible
presidential plans already for 2016.

She writes -- quote -- "While Clinton has not made an emphatic final
decision to run for president, some internal conversations within her orbit
are now premised, premised on the assumption that she is likely to run,
several sources said, and that many important decisions about her schedule
and her profile on prominent issues are being made with this goal in mind."

Maggie, by the way, Maggie Haberman, couldn`t join us today. But we
will get back to her later as soon as we can get -- talk to her, because I
want her on the show too.

Right now, we have got MSNBC contributor Joy-Ann Reid and The
Huffington Post`s Ryan Grim.

I want you both to talk right now.

Joy, thank you so much for this. I guess we`re all going to be
looking for tea leaves and evidence of a potential run, because I don`t
think the Democrats have a plan B, really, maybe Biden, but not really a
plan.

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.

No, there really isn`t a plan B because everyone is presuming that
she`s going to run. And I can tell you that even conversations I have had
with people in that Clinton orbit, friends...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Hillary land.

REID: Yes, in Hillary land -- are not sure she`s going to run.
Everyone is saying...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Be really political here.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Is that saying "I`m not sure" a statement of the official
line?

REID: I think that`s the official line. Their body language says
she`s running, everything that they`re doing.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: They say to you verbally, it`s up to her. We`re really not
sure. But all of the tea leaves, you can read all the body language.
Everything says they think she`s going to run.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ryan, tell me why that would be a good strategy, to
have your people who are loyal to you say they don`t know whether you`re
running or not, but act like you are?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I don`t know -- I don`t know that it
would be.

And the people that I have spoken to in her orbit have been pretty
consistently saying privately, yes, she is running. As far as they
understand, she`s in. And I was talking to a source close to her who spent
a decent amount of time in the Hamptons recently who was saying the same
thing, that every -- that, exactly as Maggie reported, every conversation
was premised on the idea that she was running.

And it was -- the conversations were extremely detailed, getting down
to delegates in specific states. Like, this -- and that`s the way that the
Clintons do it. If they do it, they do it all in.

MATTHEWS: If they do it right.

GRIFFIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: If they do it right. They didn`t do it right in 2008.
They ignored the caucus states.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: That`s right.

GRIM: Right.

MATTHEWS: They won every big state except Illinois, Pennsylvania, New
York, Connecticut, New Jersey, everything, Indiana. They won California.
They won them all, but they lost the little states where all these caucus
people from the 1960s like me all show up, all the old liberals show up.
And they show up and they vote in those caucuses. They voted for the big
anti-war candidate, Barack Obama.

GRIM: Right. And based on the conversations that she`s been having
this summer, that -- they`re not going to make that mistake again. They`re
not going to leave anything unturned.

And so, if that`s what you want to do, then maybe you do need to start
running, you know, three years ahead of time. But, of course, it does have
its drawbacks.

MATTHEWS: I have a sense, Joy, that Hillary Clinton will be to our
right, you and me.

REID: I have a sense of the same thing.

MATTHEWS: She`s going to go to the center on foreign policy and more
hawkish than I`ve ever been.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I`m not sure about you, but probably. Much regular
Democrat like the old style, bread and butter jobs, working for the working
class white people -- to be blunt about it -- as well as black people,
really working that sweet spot of the Democratic -- but also some of that
neocon conservatism. I sense she`s going to do that. She`s consistently
seen on every issue whether it`s Libya or Iraq or whatever as more hawkish
than the president.

REID: Yes, I don`t know if that`s a function of being the woman in
politics, going fore the big jobs, and always be as sort of take that --

MATTHEWS: The hawk?

REID: -- the Margaret Thatcher line.

Yes. You got to be rough. You got to be tough. And I think --

MATTHEWS: Oh, don`t scare me, because if she`s president and she
takes that line, I`m going to be a problem for her.

REID: But I don`t think she`s all that way. Everyone`s been scarred
by Iraq. Everyone understands you can`t pull off something like that
again. I don`t think they`re reckless.

But I definitely think she is slightly to the center-right, I guess,
of where you would see the Obama --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How about Angela Merkel? How about Angela Merkel, someone
in the middle?

REID: Somebody at the middle.

No, but the problem is I think that the Democratic Party is not center
right. I think the gravitational pull of the Democratic base right now is
to the left.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We saw it last week.

REID: Absolutely. And that`s what they got on last time, that
working class white voter shrinking. It`s the minority vote and the more
liberal vote that`s --

MATTHEWS: The only thing that would be interesting here is to think -
- Ryan, you`re on. I want to ask you. It`s a tough question.

We were in a producers meeting this afternoon and we`re all sitting
around saying if there wasn`t a Hillary Clinton, and sure there is, but if
there wasn`t one, who would be leading the Democratic Party for the
presidency? Who would be coming up? Sure, Biden`s still around, but who
would be the comer the one that would probably end up winning? Who is this
person? It`s hard to figure.

GRIM: Right, exactly. Almost by default would go to somebody like
Biden, because everybody else is kind of a grade or two below. You`ve got
folks like Martin O`Malley who, you know --

MATTHEWS: Sure.

GRIM: -- going to make a run. Then, you got a lot of other people
like your Klobuchars and your Gillibrands. And then there`d be a huge push
to get Warren into the race even if it just to build up a lot of her
political capital.

And I think to a large extent, Democrats are lucky in a sense they
don`t have to go through that, because they do have I think a deep bench,
but not much of kind of a first string. You know, they have Hillary
Clinton and after that --

MATTHEWS: While you`re on -- I`m sorry. Let me go back and forth
here. We`ve got the improved polls here. Virginia, which has become a
swing state, who got to believe that 20 years ago.

REID: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Virginia, when I saw it on election night, it was like
being in a newsroom, I`m looking at Virginia, too close to call. That
means the Democrats go to Ohio, to calibrate these things now.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Nine o`clock at night that happened, by the way. That was
late for me to find out who was going to win that one.

It seems to me the Republicans must be looking at the polls we put on
every night which are -- Christie`s close. Christie wins in a point or
two. It`s a -- you know, that`s a call, that one.

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: The other guys fade off almost double digits.

REID: Yes. But the problem is the Republican Party right now, we`re
talking about gravitational pull, it`s all the way to the right. And so,
somebody like Christie would seem like the establishment telling them
again, take this Northeastern guy, take this guy who we think of as a
liberal. But I`m sure New Jersey doesn`t think he`s liberal.

MATTHEWS: But they want the White House more than the Democrats do.

REID: I know.

MATTHEWS: Republicans love executive power.

REID: They love executive power but they want their ideology.

MATTHEWS: Same question to you, Ryan. Any chance they`ll see the
polls and act accordingly and go with somebody down the middle closer to
Hillary?

GRIM: Yes, because I think there`s a ton that`s going to happen
between now and 2016. We`re at the beginning of this -- of a great
crackup.

MATTHEWS: OK, thanks. I thought we were going to have a war with
Iraq between now and the next time. Now, I don`t think. So, a lot less
was going to happen than I thought.

Thank you. Ryan, thanks for coming on. Joy Reid, as always. Thank
you.

And when we come back, we`ll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New polling on some hypothetical matchups for president in
the swing state of Virginia. Let`s check the scoreboard.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Hillary Clinton leads Rand Paul,
the Republican with the hot hand right now, by nine points. It`s Clinton
49-40.

But look at this. If the Republicans don`t go hard right and nominate
Chris Christie of New Jersey instead, much tighter race in Virginia.
Clinton 42, Christie 41.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Pope Francis dominated today`s front pages of our newspapers in this
country with his criticism of the Catholic Church for its past focus on
issues like gay marriage, contraception and abortion.

Here`s an excerpt from the Jesuit magazine in which Pope Francis`
interview appears. It`s called "America". "We cannot insist only on
issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive
methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things
and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we
have to talk about them in a context. We have to find a new balance
otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a
house of cards."

Well, a sample of the reaction of the pope`s words included this in
"The New York Times," headlined, "Pope says church is obsessed with gays,
abortion, and birth control." "The Wall Street Journal`s" page headlined,
"Pope criticizes church`s focus on gays, abortion." Anyway, gays, comma,
abortion.

"Newsday" put it bluntly on the front-page in its headline, "Church
Must Change." And "The New York Post" puts it this way, "Holy See Change."

Pope Francis` words are a change in tune if not doctrine, and could a
long way towards changing the image of the church.

Father Matt Malone is editor-in-chief of "America", that`s the
magazine which published the interview with Pope Francis.

Sister Mary Hughes is a Catholic nun who served as president of the
Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group that advocates for social
justice.

Father Malone, thank you so much for coming on -- and Sister Mary
Hughes, as well.

It seems to me that this has to do so much with to do so much with the
commitment that this pope has had toward the poor, toward social justice,
that`s where his priorities are, and in saying what he did which got all
the headlines in this country and caused all the demonstrations, abortion
rights, gay rights, I guess still in a muted way, contraception, he`s
trying to say let`s put the focus on the things we did even the more
liberal Catholics. In fact, it would unite them especially.

Your thoughts?

FATHER MATT MALONE, AMERICA MAGAZINE: I think that that`s right, but
I actually think his call is even more profound and deeper than that. He`s
really calling us to the basics of our faith, he`s calling us to remember
that at the very heart of the Catholic faith is our belief that we are
created and we are redeemed by God of love, and only within the context of
that relationship does all that the church teach and all that the church
does make sense.

MATTHEWS: Sister, your thoughts.

SISTER MARY HUGHES, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN: I agree with that. I was
delighted to hear the words that he said and I think it`s really his
consistent call to bring us back to our emphasis on the gospel.

And there`s a line in there some place about if we only focus on the
rules, we lose our sweetness of the gospel. And it`s that gospel called
falling in love with the God who loved us and created us, that makes the
rules livable and that ends in themselves.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Father, first -- this whole thing, maybe non-Catholics
watching, I hope you pay attention to this, because this is the thing about
church, is that, you know, we have Leo XIII with "Rerum Novarum", new
things where we condemned the limits of capitalism and excesses of it,
instead, and it had a lot to do with social legislation of this country and
New Deal, unemployment compensation, Social Security, minimum wage, child
labor laws. So much of that came out of church philosophy.

Why has that been lost since the early 20th century, that point of
view of the church, the liberal point of view?

MALONE: Well, I`m not so sure that it`s been completely lost. I
mean, John Paul II put the church front and center in support of human
rights internationally and, you know, Benedict, IN his own encyclicals, was
quite critical of capitalism. I think what the Pope Francis has done is he
is again calling us back to first principles and he`s saying what`s
important to remember, whether it`s a political question or an economic
question or social question, the subject of each of those questions is
always a person. Not an idea, a social construct, not a political party,
but a person who is created in the image and likeness of God and is endowed
with a certain dignity. And that has to be our starting point.

MATTHEWS: I agree. Well, look at this. On the "Today" show this
morning, Savannah Guthrie asked Cardinal Timothy Dolan if the pope`s words,
how would he change, he and other bishops, approach to contraception.
Journalists have to ask these questions, the new health care law.

Let`s listen. These are the usual media questions, especially from
non-Catholics to Catholics. Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: You are somebody who`s the head of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. You`ve been involved in things like
fighting Obamacare`s policy on contraceptives. Does that change in any way
what you do or where you spend your time or where you place your emphasis?

TIMOTHY DOLAN, CATHOLIC CARDINAL: Yes, it does. I wouldn`t exactly
use those issues that you thought thoughtfully observed, Savannah. But I
would say, for instance, you hear what he said to bishops the other day, he
says, look, bishops, don`t be in an airplane looking down at your people
and looking down at the poor, get down there with them.

Now, that is good for me to hear. That`s an examination of
conscience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. Now, I`ll be the journalist starting with sister. Do
you think there`s any chance this new pontiff will make some changes in
terms of the discipline of celibacy of male priesthood monopolies, things
like that?

HUGHES: It`s hard to say, Chris. I don`t think that`s what this
conversation was about. That`s what his directives are about. They`re
about refocusing ourselves, putting our emphasis on people.

And I think it`s important to remember that the emphasis on social
justice, all of those things, have been very much part of the work of
religious congregations. He`s a member of the Society of Jesus, so it`s
been very much a part of his life as a Jesuit. And that might be one of
the special gifts that he brings to this papacy.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

Father Matt Malone, just a moment. Your thoughts on that because I
think you`re right, Sister.

MALONE: Yes, I think that there -- I mean, as Sister said, there
hasn`t been a doctrinal change, and one is not anticipated. So, we`re not
talking about a change in the substance. But I wouldn`t underestimate that
the power of a change in tone.

You know, what the pope has said is for instance, on the issue of gay
lesbian people, he said, you know, we have always taught in the modern era
that gay, lesbian people have to be respected, welcomed. They have to be
treated according to their inherent dignity. What he said though is that
while that`s been an aspect of our teaching, we have to remember -- it`s
actually the most important thing we teach about gay and lesbian people.
This is about getting our priorities straight and before we you know, march
headlong into any other kind of reform, structural or otherwise, we have
the reform our attitudes and our heart first.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you so much for coming on. Father Matt
Malone of the Society of Jesus, and Sister Mary Hughes, a Dominican.

We`ll be right back after this. This is HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

This coming week is going to be a hell raiser. Those on the
Republican right want to bring down the House or merely shake things up so
loudly that the country will think it fell.

This is not my brand of politics. I think politicians left and right
ought to make their cases powerfully and imaginative as they can, then find
a way with the other side to work things through. All this threatening and
demanding we see today simply isn`t working. All that it accomplishes is
to weaken the respect and confidence some still place with the American
government.

The winners of every shutdown will be the bomb throwers that get
themselves on television by dictating terms and their allies who join them
in wanting to make the American federal government as turbulent and
confused as possible.

So, praise be (ph) with the politicians who want to do their jobs and
keep the trains moving. Only the haters will benefit if this government
takes a hit the week after next. Every time the government fails, the
haters of government can`t wait to globe right with satisfaction.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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