updated 10/1/2013 12:19:46 PM ET 2013-10-01T16:19:46

HARDBALL
September 27, 2013

Guests: Peter Baker, Rep. John Culberson, Rep. Brad Sherman, Robert Hoopes, Cecile Richards


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Lost weekend.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Boston.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Washington goes to war. This
weekend, the nation`s capital becomes ground zero in the fight over the
country`s future. Will the Congress agree to keep the American government
working beyond Monday night? Will it refuse to do so unless the Democrats
and the president agree to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the historic
achievement of him and his party?

This Friday evening, the chances of a peaceful outcome on all these
fronts appears weak, perhaps not even remotely foreseeable. The reason is
that Republican members of the Congress are responding not to the national
election of last fall but to the election of their own districts. A strong
majority of those districts voted against Barack Obama in November even as
the overall population voted for him.

And this, I believe, is the cruel arithmetic that drives the divide in
today`s American politics. While the big cities have given the president
the majority and his mandate, the district-by-district vote in the suburbs
and rural areas has given the Republicans their mandate to vote against
Obama and the health care act that will join him in the history books.

I make one prediction tonight, and even this one is based on a
hypothetical. If President Obama agrees to any cut, delay or diminishment
in the Affordable Care Act the point of a gun, he will be rebuked as no
president has before, and not just by the right.

The great irony here is that those on the political right are asking
him, Barack Obama, to end his political life by his own hand. It is for
this reason I don`t believe they have figured out the end game of what
they`ve begun here.

If Obama will not do what they demand he do, the only thing we can
predict is that the government will be shut down Monday night at midnight.
And that will not be the end of it, but the beginning of it, an episode in
American history that will not end, most assuredly, the way its
perpetrators say they want it to.

David Gregory, of course, is the moderator of "MEET THE PRESS. Peter
Baker is with "The New York Times."

David, I`ve laid it out. I`m just not optimistic. By the way, with
fewer than four days to go until a government shutdown, the Senate passed a
spending bill that restored funding for the Affordable Care Act. The bill
passed on a strictly party line vote, as was expected. Before that
happened, the Senate voted to end debate, which required 60 votes. Ted
Cruz has been lobbying his Republican colleagues, of course, to reject it.
In the end, however, 79 senators voted to invoke cloture, including 25
Republicans.

Afterwards, Ted Cruz insisted the fight isn`t over. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Today, unfortunately, the United States
Senate, the Democrat-led Senate, refused to listen to the American people.

But this process is not over. It will now go back to the House of
Representatives. When it returns to the Senate -- and after the House
acts, it will return to the Senate -- I am hopeful and optimistic that will
present an opportunity for Senate Republicans to come home, for Senate
Republicans to be united.

I am hopeful and optimistic that the next time this continuing
resolution is before the Senate in the next few days, that all 46 Senate
Republicans stand together, stand united arm in arm with the House
Republicans, and against the train wreck, the nightmare that is "Obama
care."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, later this afternoon, the president had some stern
words of his own for House Republicans. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The House Republicans
are so concerned with appeasing the Tea Party that they`ve threatened a
government shutdown or worse unless I gut or repeal the Affordable Care
Act. I said this yesterday. Let me repeat it. That`s not going to
happen.

So over the next three days, House Republicans will have to decide
whether to join the Senate and keep the government open, or shut it down
because they can`t get their way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how Speaker John Boehner responded. Quote,
"The House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that
Americans don`t want a government shutdown and they don`t want the train
wreck that is `Obama care.` Grandstanding from the president who refuses
to even be a part of the process won`t bring Congress any closer to a
resolution."

David, to you, your thoughts as you approach this Sunday`s program and
what looks like a pretty dreary weekend for compromise.

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": I think it is dreary.
I`ve got Senator Ted Cruz as my exclusive guest on Sunday. So he`s right
in the middle of this.

But I think you raised the key point. What is the end game? The
president`s not going to give on "Obama care." Republicans are not going
to come home, as Senator Cruz hopes they will, with another shot to vote on
defunding "Obama care."

And Senator Cruz talks about rallying the American people, who are so
engaged in this. Are there a lot of protests around the country, people
who want to unwind "Obama care" at this point? Surely, it is unpopular.
There`s no question about that. And there`s certainly a lot of people who
would not like to see it become law.

But it is law. It`s law. And now it`s about to go live and the
exchanges are up. People are going to begin signing up.

I`m with you. I don`t see the end game for all of this drama. It`s
not clear what they`ve accomplished, particularly since there`s nothing to
unwind at this point. The president would have to, as you say, all of a
sudden, volunteer to dismantle everything that has been built up and even
affirmed by the Supreme Court.

So Republicans who have been calling me today say this is fantasy on
the part of those like Ted Cruz who are making this push.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Peter, I think David`s word "fantasy" is great.
Sometimes to try to figure what`s going on, I try to imagine what would
happen if something else happened. If the president were to just give in
and say, All right, you`re right, I`m putting them (ph) on my hands, we`re
going to kill "Obama care," the one thing that puts me in the history
books, besides being the first African-American president, I`m going to
kiss good-bye to -- imagine the tumult in this country, on left -- the left
and center, as well, that say, Has this guy lost it?

I mean, that`s why I wonder about the demand they`re making. Is it a
reasonable demand by their own accounting that could actually keep the
government going, or are they dead set on a shutdown?

PETER BAKER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, look, you know, they do seem set
on a shutdown of some sort. And to speak to their point of view, I think
they think that they`re acting on principle. In their view, this is a
principled stand against the Obama health care program.

Having said that, I think the chances of the president actually
capitulating, as you outlined, for all the reasons you mentioned, seem
pretty remote. He`s made very clear this is something he won`t negotiate
on. He said it yesterday. He said it again today. He`ll probably say it
again tomorrow and over the weekend because, as you say, this is a central
signature achievement.

To give in on this is to not only give up the one thing that he has
left in terms of a large legislative legacy, it`s also to send a signal
that he`s weak and can be rolled. That`s something the White House is very
cognizant of...

GREGORY: Right.

BAKER: ... and don`t plan to give Congress that satisfaction, the
Republicans in Congress that satisfaction.

GREGORY: Chris, you know, the other piece of this...

MATTHEWS: David, let`s talk about the -- go ahead. Go ahead, David.

GREGORY: No, I was just going to say the other -- this is a second
term president now, who has the luxury to think about what message he sends
for future presidents. So I can tell you, talking to his top advisers,
that they are quite dug in on the idea of not wheeling and dealing when it
comes to the debt limit.

And again, I know a lot of people think that`s posturing and that in
the end, he`ll find a way to do it. But I think they at this point feel
they`re in a very strong political position to say, Absolutely no way, no
how, we`re not going to do it.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me ask you about the difference between John
Boehner, who looks like he`s having a terrible time, just watching him...

GREGORY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... the guy`s face looks like what a week he`s had. I
wonder if he`s sleeping.

And I`m thinking this. If each congressional member of Congress votes
their district, I think it`s 232 districts voted against President Obama
last November, they`re safe at home. But the leadership has to think
nationally. That dichotomy, that division seems to be right now -- it`s
working this weekend, working its will.

How does Boehner reflect the national will, which was for Obama and
has to be respected, and the will of the individual congressional districts
which add up to all of them, basically, voted Republican, not wanting
"Obama care" or Obama?

GREGORY: There`s a -- there is a...

MATTHEWS: How does he figure it?

GREGORY: There is a way to do that, but it may mean that, A, he loses
any leverage that he wants to use on the debt ceiling, or he loses his
speakership, because what`s the rip cord, as one of the aides said to me.
The rip cord is always go to the Democrats. Use Democrats to get over the
line.

And he could do it here. He could pass the bill that the Senate
passed, which funds the government for the rest of the year but restores
that "Obama care" funding. If he has to rely on Democrats for that,
doesn`t he lose all leverage in the debt ceiling fight, if it comes to that
or worse?

So he`s got about 45 members here, Tea Party folks, who are, as you
say, getting calls from Ted Cruz. They are -- Boehner thought he had them
on board, and now they`re all excited about what Cruz has done and Cruz is
saying, You got to keep at it. And they`re listening to that and other
activists and saying, OK, we`re going to keep going forward and resisting.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Cruz last night on a friendly show, of course,
Sean Hannity. He told many of his fellow Republicans -- he said they`re
scared. He`s going ad hominem here, saying they`re scared of being blamed
for a government shutdown, where he isn`t afraid. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: A lot of Republicans, they`ve been here a long time. And
they`re beaten down and they`re scared that if we stand together on this
and if a government shutdown results, that Republicans will be blamed and
it`s too politically risky. And you know, I just think we need to stand
for principle and actually stand together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I`ve never seen, Peter, a person stand so far
apart from their party, to the point where they`re basically saying, These
other guys have lost the fight. They don`t have any fight in them, and I
do.

BAKER: Well, that`s right. Look, the back-and-forth on the floor
with Senator McCain earlier this week and Senator Cruz shows you the very,
very personal and deep divide that you see in that regard where Senator
McCain chastised Senator Cruz, in effect, for comparing -- using the Munich
appeasement comparison. Of course, you just saw President Obama raise that
himself. He says, I`m not...

GREGORY: Too appeasing.

BAKER: ... you know, that the Republicans are appeasing the Tea
Party. Right. So a lot of fraught -- freighted historic comparisons here.

But you know, the White House seems very -- almost serene on this, at
this point. They think that they`re going to be able to pin this
politically on the Republicans, that even if there is a government
shutdown, it won`t last for very long and that the political blowback will
force John Boehner to pull that rip cord that David describes...

GREGORY: Yes.

BAKER: ... and come through with a continuing resolution that keeps
the government open, or reopens it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... how much rain there is next week, nobody is going to
carry an umbrella, I think, to work next week. Nobody wants to be
Chamberlain.

David, can you try to -- can you even divine -- you`re a smart guy,
but I don`t know if you can do this one. Can you divine a route between
now and midnight Monday where they resolve this damn thing, resolve it to
the point where the government can smoothly continue on through Tuesday?

GREGORY: Well, the way I think you do that is that Boehner somehow
prevails with his core group there and says, Look, let`s shift the fight to
the debt ceiling. Let`s attach these things that we think are important,
including a year delay of "Obama care." Let`s bring that fight for a while
to the American people and see where we get with that. We`re not going
anywhere here.

What -- the blowback he`s gotten is, Let`s not capitulate on that too
quickly. He could say, Look, we`ve let that ride a little bit here, but
let`s make the showdown over the debt ceiling, higher stakes, more
opportunity for the president to feel the heat on this, because I`m with
Peter.

Their -- serenity is one way of putting it. I think the president is
almost -- he`s just quite comfortable out there in the way he is jabbing
and punching at Republicans because no president is in a better position
than when the opposite party is at each other`s throats. And that`s what`s
happening.

And he`s also dealing with a measure here in "Obama care" that is
settled. It may not be settled in terms of the impacts on the country, but
as a legislative matter, it`s settled. As a legal matter, it`s settled for
now.

Democrats I`ve talked to today say, Look, if Republicans -- instead of
having a purity test, if they want to change the law, let`s talk about some
of the ways that we can do that. That debate`s not happening, of course,
because people don`t know a lot of the impacts yet.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you very much, Peter Baker. And thank
you, my colleague, David Gregory. We`ll hear more from Senator Cruz this
Sunday, of course, big get this weekend on "MEET THE PRESS," exclusively on
"MEET THE PRESS," Ted Cruz.

Coming up: Now that the Senate has voted to fund the Affordable Care
Act, can House Republicans avoid a government shutdown? Well, the leaders
don`t want a shutdown, but they`re not leading anymore. They`re following
the Tea Party and the party right -- possibly right off the cliff.

Also, the Democratic governor of one of the nation`s poorest state,
Kentucky, offers the best defense I`ve heard of the Affordable Care Act
that anybody`s seen (ph). Steve Beshear writes of the partisan -- of the
partisan critics, "Get over it," he says. This is the governor of
Kentucky. "And get out of the way," he says, "so I can help my people in
Kentucky."

Also, the Planned Parenthood organization takes on Texas for trying to
shut down most abortion providers in the Lone Star State.

Finally tonight, it`s your chance to play HARDBALL with me. I`m going
to answer your Twitter questions (INAUDIBLE) people like (ph) it.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Finally, a grownup in the Republican Party is speaking out
against threats of a shutdown. Here`s new Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t think you hear
responsible Republican leaders advocating a shutdown of the government.

I think it`s always irresponsible if you`re running the government to
be advocating for shutting it down. That by definition is a failure. You
got to work it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Christie`s up for reelection this year and likely has his
eye on the White House in 2016. He`s taking a chance to sound reasonable
and make a play for the middle, in contrast with other potential 2016
candidates, like Ted Cruz.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The House of Representatives
will meet tomorrow to figure out how or whether to fund the federal
government past midnight on Monday. It`s anybody`s guess what`s going to
happen because Republican members aren`t following their leaders these
days, and the leaders aren`t really setting a clear direction. What we may
learn this weekend is who`s in charge of the party, the establishment or
people on the right like Ted Cruz of Texas.

Joining me right now is the Republican congressman of Texas John
Culberson and Democratic congressman Brad Sherman of California.

Congressman Culberson, I was just wondering -- I`m trying to speculate
because I`ve never seen anything like this weekend -- do you think if Ted
Cruz, the senator from your state, the junior senator, were to say, You
know what? Let`s throw in the towel on this baby. We`re going to fight on
the default issue. Let`s have the fight in two weeks.

Would that change people`s opinion, or are their opinions already set
and it`s not about him anymore?

REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Well, the most important thing to
remember, Chris, is that my job description is representative. And my
constituents, the people of Texas, are adamantly opposed to the imposition
of what we really ought to call "Democrat care" because this was jammed
through on a straight line party vote in less than 24 hours without a
committee hearing.

Remember, the Senate sent this over, Chris, on March 20th, the Rules
Committee met, and less than 24 hours later, it was jammed through the
House. So no one had a chance to read it. Even Speaker Pelosi said at the
time we have to pass the bill to find out what`s in it.

And for a bill of this magnitude, with the effect that it`s having on
driving up premiums and making the cost of health insurance unaffordable to
so many people, and the intrusion of the federal government into our
personal lives...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CULBERSON: ... people of Texas don`t want any part of it. And we
simply want to use whatever legislative vehicle we can to stop it, repeal
it, defund it, delay it, whatever it takes. I`m in there 110 percent.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Sherman, your view. Congressman Sherman, your
reaction to that, what you just heard.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: No one doubts that the Republicans
hate "Obama care." The question is, are they willing to destroy the
American economy and run up huge costs in the American government just to
show us what we already know, which is that they don`t like "Obama care."

The fact is, "Obama care" is the law. It`s going to remain in force.
And already, Democrats have made a huge concession. This is a funding
bill. We have agreed to the Republican funding levels, which is the most
important thing in a funding bill. We are coming in 7 or 8 points below
the Senate budget. We`re coming in right in line with the Ryan budget.
That concession has already been made to the point where nobody`s even
talking about it.

And then we`re told that we`re going to mutilate the American economy
and government unless they get to win the battle that they lost on the
floor of the House in 2010.

That`s a rather extreme bargaining position. It`s not consistent with
Americans who just want us to get along, compromise, and keep things
efficient.

CULBERSON: Well, Brad, you`re...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman Culberson -- look, I think this
is a good debate and we don`t know how "Obama care" is going to work or
affordable care is going to work. Nobody knows that for sure, and there
have been problems. You`re right about everything.

Let`s talk about technique here. Do you think the president of the
United States is a rabbit? Do you think he`ll just run away? What do you
think we will all think of him if he buckles to your demand to basically
get rid of "Obama care"? What will you think of him then, as a person, as
a man, if he does that?

CULBERSON: Well, it`s not -- it`s not our demand. It is the -- we
are representing our constituents and we`re standing on principle. This
bill...

MATTHEWS: Well, what would you think would be the response by
eliminating...

CULBERSON: Well, the president has already...

MATTHEWS: ... his number one achievement?

CULBERSON: I think the president has already diminished himself in
the way he`s handled the situation ion Syria and the way he has handled
himself with Russia...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CULBERSON: I cannot imagine a Russian president Brezhnev...

MATTHEWS: So he`s through.

CULBERSON: I think President Obama has diminished the office by his
own behavior...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CULBERSON: ... and not anything that we are doing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. I didn`t want to get into this. I`m getting into
this.

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: Well, but, Chris, let me ask you this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I have one question, though. Go ahead.

CULBERSON: Yes.

But let me tell you, my friend Brad Sherman and I, we work together
very well. We have already passed in the House the military appropriations
bill. We have passed funding for the Pentagon, for military construction,
for veterans, for energy and water. And we did that back in June.

And the Senate could have avoided this by simply passing those
essential bills that they have had for 90 days. This would not be a
problem for our military or homeland security, by the way.

MATTHEWS: OK. Everybody is watching this to see how the congressman
is.

Let me just straighten the record out here. Do you believe that
President Obama was legitimately elected president twice, legitimately
elected president?

CULBERSON: Oh, of course, absolutely. And the question is, though,
that...

MATTHEWS: OK. You`re not a birther? You`re not a birther or
anything like that?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You don`t question his birth as a natural-born citizen?

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: No, sir.

We have a -- no, sir. We have a legitimate difference on principle
here, on we don`t want the federal government socializing the greatest
health care system created in the history of the world.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Was the Affordable Care Act -- good. That`s your
philosophy. I accept that.

Do you think -- do you believe that the Affordable Care Act was passed
legitimately by the Congress, both houses, 60 votes in the Senate, and
signed by the president, and he was reelected?

CULBERSON: Well, of course.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you believe all that to be true?

CULBERSON: Of course, Chris.

But laws can be changed. In fact, Congress changes laws all the time.
And we`re elected to do so.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CULBERSON: And we are -- we have been in this last election -- this
was a keystone of Ted Cruz`s election and of my election is that I support
Ted Cruz. We are both committed, as are the Texas Republicans, to defund,
delay, repeal Obamacare.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. That`s all true. But you know what?

Congressman Sherman, I have to say this before you say it. Every
American knew that Obama was for Obamacare when they reelected him. Every
American knew that. Mitt Romney ran against him on it. The public chose
Obama for a second term knowing he was Obamacare. And they said yes.
That`s my point.

Yours.

SHERMAN: A majority of Democrats voted to have -- be represented in
Congress by a Democrat. It`s just due to the gerrymandering that we have a
Republican majority.

Americans overwhelmingly say we may -- we`re divided on whether
Obamacare is good or bad. But we`re united in the belief that we should
not shut down the government or impair our credit in order to eliminate
Obamacare.

It`s one thing to be convinced that we should take a particular course
of action on health care. It`s another thing to destroy our economy in
order to get what you want or even get what your constituents want.

CULBERSON: Actually, Brad, we took care of the credit problem in the
bill that we sent to the Senate, had language in it that said the United
States will always pay principal and interest on the debt. And the Senate
stripped that language out.

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: So, we`re committed to protecting -- we`re committed to
protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, as you know,
Brad.

SHERMAN: Could you imagine going back to your district and saying we
paid China and we`re not paying Social Security recipients?

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: Actually, Social Security, Brad, runs on autopilot. And
those checks will continue to go out.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you, Congressman Culberson. Congressman
Culberson, let`s move ahead two weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

SHERMAN: You`re confusing the appropriations process with the debt
process. When we...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go ahead just two weeks from now.

Congressman Culberson, tell me about your thinking about the debt and
the question of extending the debt limit and how you deal with those
amendments. A lot of them have to do with oil and gas. I understand the
interest with oil and gas. But what do they have to do with the debt
limit?

Why would you put in access for exploitation of federal lands, access
for offshore oil? What does that got to do with keeping the government`s
full faith and credit out there? It seems to me not germane, unless you`re
an oil guy. Why are we talking about those amendments?

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: Magic number in the House is 218. And our leadership is
looking to find a way to save -- to get 218 votes, and at the same time try
to save enough money to offset the increase in the debt limit, which my
constituents also feel very strongly about.

Texans do not want the government to pass this debt on to our kids,
nor do I. So we`re looking for a way to offset that debt increase at least
dollar for dollar.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is Boehner buying votes? Are Boehner and Cantor buying
oil...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... votes?

CULBERSON: No, of course not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is a
matter of principle.

MATTHEWS: What did you mean by that then?

(CROSSTALK)

CULBERSON: This is a matter of core principle.

You have got great ideas that have passed the House that conservatives
believe in as a matter of principle. And by putting these different ideas
together on the debt ceiling bill, Chris, they`re just -- they`re matters
of principle that, hey, I think that`s a great idea and that might help
cause me to support...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s the principle -- what`s the principle in exploiting
federal lands for oil and gas? What`s the principle involved there, unless
you`re one of the Koch brothers?

CULBERSON: Well, because we can make the United States -- we can make
the United States energy-independent, Chris.

We have discovered more oil and gas in the last 10 years than has been
discovered in the entire history of the United States. But President Obama
and the Democrats are trying to block its production. And it`s crazy. I
would love to tell the Middle East to basically, you know, pound sand. We
don`t need your oil or gas because we have it right here in the United
States, in particular in Texas. That`s why.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

Brad Sherman, Congressman, why do you think all these goodies have
been added to the bill arguing whether -- if the Democrats don`t agree to
oil and gas exploitation and exploration into federal lands, if they don`t
agree to offshore oil, if they don`t agree to the Keystone, the federal
government is going into default. I think that`s an odd demand. That`s
what I think. Your thoughts.

SHERMAN: Well, that`s what taking hostages is all about.

The hostages aren`t germane to the ransom that you`re trying to get.
If you can convince the American Congress that we ought to change our oil
and gas policy, fine. But you don`t take the full faith and credit of the
United States hostage.

Likewise, you don`t pass a law that says that the executive branch
will have so much money, but it`s supposed to pay 19 percent more. And we
do, unfortunately, pay -- borrow 19 percent of what we pay out, and say we
have to pay China, but you don`t have to pay Social Security. You don`t
have to pay veterans benefits.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We have to wrap. I`m sorry.

Congressman Culberson, please come back. We like -- we really like to
have you. I like debating with you guys anyway. It`s more fun than
anything I can think of anyway, because sometimes you`re right, maybe.

CULBERSON: It`s fun. It is fun, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, John Culberson.

CULBERSON: It`s fun. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And Congressman Brad Sherman, a good guy out in California.

CULBERSON: He is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Up next, it`s your chance to play HARDBALL. I`m going to
answer your Twitter questions coming up next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s time now for our segment "Let`s Play HARDBALL," where you, the
audience, gets to turn the tables on me and ask me anything on Twitter.

So, let`s get started with a question from a user, Twin Sister of
Akron, Ohio. She asks: "Chris, what would Tip O`Neill think of the Tea
Party?"

Well, to a point, he would enjoy them. I remember he called Newt
Gingrich and his crowd the Three Stooges for awhile. But then when they
started talking about patriotism, and questioning the patriotism of the
Democrats, he got very hot about that, and the funny part was over.

And this comes from Donna and Marie Garma (ph) of Oklahoma City --
quote -- "Chris, simple, yet complicated question. How do the Republicans
keep getting away with this nonsense, over the top, really?"

It comes down to the numbers. In 232 of the 418 -- or 435
congressional districts, a big majority of them, people voted against Obama
last time. And the members of Congress from those districts are very
comfortable voting against Obamacare and the whole works. They`re
comfortable at home. The problem is, they`re not thinking nationally.

And that is definitely Boehner`s job. And he`s got to do it if they
don`t.

The next question comes to us from John Simms (ph) of Louisville,
Kentucky, who asks: "Chris, why did Jimmy Carter lose the election in
1980?"

I think it was Iran. I think it was the hostages. I think Iran has
played a huge part in politics ever since. It could well do it again next
time, if or not we go to war with them.

And if you have a question for me, any other question, just tweet your
questions to HARDBALL_Chris.

We will be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAGE HOPKINS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
happening.

In a historic phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,
President Obama said the two nations have an opportunity to work toward
resolving the nuclear issue. He also said a breakthrough could have
benefits elsewhere in the Middle East region. The U.N. Security Council
will vote tonight on a resolution to eliminate Syria`s chemical weapons.

And a New Jersey judge ruled the state must allow same-sex marriages
because the federal government now recognizes them.

Now we will take you back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is a prediction
for you.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: A few years from now, when people are using this to get
coverage and everybody`s feeling pretty good about all the choices and
competition that they have got, there are going to be a whole bunch of
folks who say, yes, yes, no, I always thought this provision was excellent.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I voted -- I voted for that thing. You watch.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It will not be called Obamacare.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Obama was certainly in top form yesterday making the case
for the Affordable Care Act. And he even took on the Koch brothers --
without naming them -- for funding those off-putting, actually awful ads
that show Uncle Sam about to perform a gynecological exam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Some of the Tea Party`s biggest donors, some of the wealthiest
men in America are funding a cynical ad campaign trying to convince young
people not to buy health care at all.

I mean, think about it. These are billionaires several times over.
You know they have got good health care.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But they are actually spending money on television trying to
convince young people that if you have got the choice between getting
affordable health care or going without health care, you should choose not
having any health care.

Now, do you think if you get sick or you get hurt and you get stuck
with a massive bill, these same folks, they`re going to help you out?

AUDIENCE: No!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The president was being nice there. That Koch brothers-
sponsored ad is sicko. It`s basically talking about an Uncle Sam looking
up a girl`s dress. It`s unbelievable advertising.

Anyway, in "The New York Times" today, Kentucky`s Democratic governor,
Steve Beshear, made a powerful argument for the health care law. He
pointed out that more than 600,000 people in his state are uninsured right
now and need help. And then he took a swipe at senators from his state.
Their names are Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who have opposed it.

Quote: "To those more worried about political power than Kentucky`s
families, I say get over it. The Affordable Care Act was approved by
Congress and sanctioned by the Supreme Court. It`s the law oft land. Get
over it and get out of the way, so I can help my people here in Kentucky.
We cannot afford to waste another day or another life."

Perry Bacon is political editor for TheGrio and an MSNBC contributor.
And Robert Hoopes is a Democratic strategist.

Perry, thank you.

I think it`s so amazing that, late in this ball game, if you will,
this political game over whether we go back and look at Obamacare after
it`s already been passed and signed and approved by the Supreme Court,
going all -- like a big rematch, that the Kentucky governor had the best
way of selling it, not about politics, but about patients, people who need
health care.

PERRY BACON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly.

Chris, I was actually in Kentucky on Saturday, and I went to this
event, this like state fair-style event where they`re trying to vote the
health care law in Kentucky. And the key thing there is, they set up this
program called Kynect, Kynect.

And that`s what they have dubbed their Obamacare there. And the thing
is, when you`re actually in a state fair talking to people, it`s not a
political conversation. It becomes a conversation about preexisting
conditions, health care, your relatives, who`s not uninsured.

And that`s what Steve Beshear is talking about, is they`re trying to
make this less of a political issue in Kentucky and more like a we want to
save people`s lives and here`s how we`re doing it. And I think that piece
he wrote today was one of the more powerful arguments I have seen in
defense of the law and probably just as valuable as what President Obama
said yesterday on the stump.

MATTHEWS: You know, Robert, I think I know Cruz`s politics, although
it`s taken me a long time to figure it out.

Rich Lowry of "The National Journal" -- "National Review" -- came out
with it today. It`s like Reagan opposing the Panama Canal treaty, knowing
it`s going to be approved, but this positions him on the inside rail on the
hard right for the next election. So, even though he was wrong on the
issue or whatever, you can argue he`s wrong -- certainly, I think he was --
but he ends up positioning himself as the most nationalistic, the most
anti-Latin America, the most all that stuff, and that positions him to win
the nomination the next time.

But it seems to me that there`s no real argument, except that they`re
afraid that it will be popular. And that`s what they`re afraid of, because
if they thought it was going to be a mess, they`d be saying, come on, bring
it on. That`s what Tip O`Neill did, my old boss, when Reagan came to
office. He said, pass this crap. We will all see how bad it is.

ROBERT HOOPES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And I think, when you have that kind of confidence that
it`s a disaster, you don`t get in its way. Your thoughts.

HOOPES: Well, I think that you`re right, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HOOPES: They have tried so hard to stop this for so long, 43 votes in
the House, the Supreme Court, presidential election.

The polling for the kinds of things they talk about at these state
fairs, like no penalties for preexisting conditions, no caps on lifetime
coverage, keeping your kids on after they graduate from college, everybody,
you would think, would be for those things.

And once people learn about them next week, when there`s these
programmatic rollouts that, like Kentucky, like Governor Quinn in Illinois
and all the other states, New Mexico, around the country, that are going to
be taking place, people are going to get facts. They`re going to see the
price points on these things and they`re going to be able to see the
benefits of these things. And they`re going to gravitate to them.

And it`s really going to crowd I think in the --

MATTHEWS: I hear you. That`s all good middle class argument.

Perry, the reason I supported health care is not for all these
reasons, I think he well explained there, Robert explained. It was because
there`s 40-some million people in the country without health care. They go
to the work and catch the bus at 6:30 but they don`t have health care
because they`re not making up money and their boss either can`t afford it
and don`t want to afford health care. That`s who I cared about.

The president never seems to talk about the 40 million people sitting
now perhaps in the emergency room. Is he afraid to look too much like a
poor person`s president? What`s the fear here? Why doesn`t he do it the
way the Democrats for years have sold it?

PERRY BACON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think in the first term, I`ve
talked to the White House officials, they wanted to sell the health
insurance program in the first term as a middle class program that helps
you reduce costs. But I think yesterday, hearing that speech, he`s now
being more practical and more populous about this. He talked yesterday
about how Republicans are trying to pull health care away from people who
are getting it.

I think you`re going to hear him in the next few weeks be more direct
and say, this is helping people and the Republicans and Ted Cruz are trying
to pull the rug on people who are otherwise going to get health insurance.
So, I think he`s getting to where you`re talking about, Chris.

HOOPES: Yes. I would add there, too, not just --

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take -- go ahead, go ahead, go ahead.

HOOPES: It`s not just the president. But, finally, the cabinet
officials are being rolled out in a thoughtful surrogate program, the vice
president`s being rolled out talking to nurses. I think there`s a much
bigger, broader communications program coming out of the White House on
this speaking to lots of different audiences.

MATTHEWS: Well -- here he is. The president taking on the
Republicans yesterday, Robert, asking what are they so afraid of? Let`s
listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, think about it.
If it was as bad as they say it`s going to be, then they could just go
ahead and let it happen and then everybody would hate it so much and then
everybody vote to repeal it and that would be the end of it. So, what is
it they`re so scared about?

CROWD: You!

OBAMA: They --

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Cruz answered that question well of what
Republicans are so afraid of when he spoke this summer, not a million years
ago, at the Western Conservative Summit. Here`s Cruz admitting what he`s
afraid of, believe it or not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: On January 1, the exchanges kick in and the
subsidies kick in. Once those kick in, it`s going to prove almost
impossible to undo Obamacare.

The administration`s plan is very simple. Get everyone addicted to
the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, talk about elitism. People are getting addicted to
decent health care. Who is this Princeton guy making fun of people who
need health care, hoping they might get it some day and seeing it coming
and calling it some kind of addiction?

What kind of value system is that, Perry?

BACON: Well, Chris, if you look back, remember Ronald Reagan in 1960s
was sort of famously opposed to Medicare. This is nothing new.
Republicans have been opposed to Medicare --

MATTHEWS: I know.

BACON: -- Medicaid, SCHIP. So I think this is what you`re seeing is
a lot that is -- I`m not surprised by this. But Ted Cruz is right. His
fear is right. If people go online next week, they`re going to look at
these price plans.

If the price is good enough, I don`t care if you`re a Tea Party
Republican or an Occupy Wall Street Democrat. If you`re looking for cheap
health insurance and the prices are right, you`re going to sign up for it.
I think that is something the Republicans are very nervous about.

MATTHEWS: Exactly what you`d expect of a guy who make fun of people
who go to the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, and, of
course, Brown University, is going to minor Ivy League. He now looks down
on people, believe it or not, who need health care, and he`s saying that`s
addict`s behavior. Unbelievable.

Perry Bacon, thank you, sir.

Thank you, Robert Hoopes.

Up next -- Planned Parenthood takes the fight to Texas against
abortion providers.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The other big announcement President Obama made in his
White House statement late today was historic. The president said he spoke
on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. And that`s the first
time since the Islamic Revolution back in 1979 that the leaders of the
United States and Iran have spoken.

President Obama said he believes the two countries can reach a
comprehensive solution over Iran`s nuclear program.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

And, by the way, the fight over the war on women and abortion rights
heated up in Texas today. Planned Parenthood is suing to prevent Texas
from implementing its restrictive new abortion law -- a law that would shut
down most of the abortion clinics across the state.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. district court today, at
least one in 12 women will have to travel more than 100 miles to obtain
abortion care and a law drastically change the ability of women to seek
care according to Think Progress. This is how many clinics are in Texas
right now, before the law goes into effect. Now, look at the number of
clinics that would be left over after the law takes effect.

The Republican efforts in Texas to reflect the GOP`s strategy
nationwide to restrict access to abortion and health care.

Joining me right now is the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile
Richards, who coincidentally or actually did and happened to be the
daughter of the last Democrat and last woman to be governor of Texas, Ann
Richards.

I think we all know that, Cecile.

Also with us is contributor Joy Reid.

Cecile, thanks for joining us.

It seems to me those of us who know something about Roe v. Wade says
you can`t place an undue burden, that`s the great phrase that came out I
think Webster and case and all that, all those court reviews, you can`t
place an undue burden.

Is what they`re doing in Texas an undue burden?

CECILE RICHARDS, PRES., PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Absolutely, Chris. I
mean, this bill was so extreme -- of course, Rick Perry couldn`t get it
passed through the regular session of the legislature. He called two
special sessions, finally jammed it through. We believe the bill is
clearly unconstitutional. It would have a devastating impact on women`s
access to health care in Texas and that`s why Planned Parenthood joined
today with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU and filed in
federal court in Austin. The women in Texas, this is just yet another blow
to their access to health care in the state.

MATTHEWS: Well, if a woman is considering an abortion, considering
terminating a pregnancy and she thinks about her options and give some
thought to it, and, obviously, lots of moral reflection in most cases, and
she thinks about it and then, she has to do how to go about doing it.

Now, geographically, what will this new law do in terms of her ability
to have an abortion?

RICHARDS: Well, literally, this is going to result in the closure of
dozens of health centers in the state of Texas. It`s a state of 26 million
people. And we`re going to be reduced to a point in which women are going
to have to travel hundreds of miles and already, restrictions on women are
so heavy in Texas, it means two trips to a doctor`s office. And for so
many women, that`s simply impossible.

And I think the other thing that is sort of perhaps an unintended
consequence, but it`s going to be -- it`s going to be a result as well, is
that you know, Rick Perry already ended the Texas women`s, the health
program in Texas. So that cut off more than 100,000 women off of health
care in Texas, preventive care, and these clinics that are going to have to
close as a result, not only provide safe and legal abortions, they provide
cancer screenings birth control and for a lot of women, the only doctor
visit they get all year.

MATTHEWS: Joy, I have confidence in the courts generally speaking.
They seem to know when voter suppression is the purpose of some voter photo
ID law. They get it.

And when they see something like this, do you think it`s clear that
they will be clear-eyed and see what we`re really talking about here is
creating an undue burden? In other words, finding ways around the edges to
outlaw abortion.

JOY REID, MNSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, I think if you look at
the recent voter rights decisions that have to do with Texas, I think the
courts have a good track record on this. And when the restrictions are so
severe that you`d have to literally traverse the state in order to exercise
this right, it was affirmed by the `73 court decision, then I think, yes, I
think that there`s a good chance that courts will restrict it.

But I think, on the other side, the lawsuit itself is exacerbating and
really activating a lot of women in Texas, probably younger women, who
never understood this right was in jeopardy, and who -- for whom this war
on women is a very real thing. I think the lawsuit will actually raise the
profile of the issue, which is again, I think bad for the brand of the
Republican Party, even in a conservative state like Texas.

MATTHEWS: I`m looking at Virginia no that close state. You know,
Cecile, it`s so much a bellwether state now Virginia. It used to be the
Old Dominion. Now, it`s pretty much metropolitan because of northern
Virginia, all the single women and other women living there. Is that going
to be another great test of women`s voting power because Cuccinelli on the
Republican side is so tough on the issue?

RICHARDS: Absolutely. I mean, it`s incredible to see what`s
happening in Virginia, where now we`re looking at -- you know, the public
polls are showing an 18 to 24-point gap of women support for Terry
McAuliffe against Ken Cuccinelli, completely based on the extremism of
Cuccinelli`s positions.

This cannot help when you have a state of Texas now essentially taking
away a right women have had for 40 years. What I don`t understand is why
certainly, some of the national Republican leadership can`t get off these
issues.

And it`s -- you know, it`s particularly ironic in Texas -- I know that
the Center for American Progress just came out with report -- ranks 45th
out of 50 states on women, for women. And this is a state that needs to be
actually doing more for women, not trying to take women back to the 1950s
and women are paying attention. I think Joy`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Joy, thank you for joining us. Joy Reid, our colleague
here.

And thank you, Cecile Richards, for joining us.

When we return, let me finish with the reminder of how divided
government can actually work. It`s possible, you know. It`s happened
before.

And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

I`m about to begin an important week for a number of reasons.
Beginning Sunday, with an appearance on "Meet the Press," I`ll inaugurate a
discussion about a book I`ve written on a six-year relationship between
Speaker Tip O`Neill and President Ronald Reagan, "Tip and The Gipper: When
Politics Worked."

It`s my eyewitness account of the half dozen years of the 1980s when
these two political giants, both Irish Americans, fought it out
philosophically, but also when it came to it, found ways to work things out
on matters that range from deficit reduction to saving Social Security, to
honest tax reform. It`s a story of common humanity across party lines and
a bipartisan patriotism which set the standard for the world and help end
the Cold War.

It`s going to be a big week. On Sunday, "Meet the Press" with David
Gregory. On Tuesday, "The Today" show. And on MSNBC from "MORNING JOE"
right through to "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. On Wednesday,
"The Colbert Report."

Everyone, especially my colleagues here, have been incredibly
supportive.

I hope that I can tell this important story with the importance it
deserves. We need to understand, we need to hope that this weekend`s march
to the cliff is not the norm, much less the ideal of thousand American
government -- even in divided political times -- must be run.

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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