updated 1/6/2014 11:39:26 AM ET 2014-01-06T16:39:26

December 18, 2013

Guests: Dana Milbank, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Hudson Taylor, Simon Marks, Amy Walter, Kathleen Parker, Frank Schaefer, Gene Robinson


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with this battle for Christmas. On one side lies the
Scrooge party, not a cent more in minimum wage. It barks, Any more lip
from you, and you`ll lose that low-paying job of yours. On the other side
are the majority of the American people, two thirds, in fact, who are for
raising that minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

On the one side, sits the Scrooge party again that wants to deny health
care to those barely above the poverty line, who want to cut off food
stamps and unemployment insurance. No work, one of them declared, no food.
With a week to go before Christmas, the two parties are showing where they

Senator Sherrod Brown`s an Ohio Democrat. Dana Milbank`s a "Washington
Post" columnist.

And by the way, you`d be hard-pressed to find any holiday spirit inside the
far right`s legislative agenda that led a coordinated attack on the poor,
as I just said, that rejected proposals that would help them earn -- poor
people earn a living wage. Republicans in 23 states have rejected a free
expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. They`ve tried to
significantly roll back or even eliminate food stamps and they`ve resisted
calls to extend unemployment benefits to millions of people currently
looking for work.

And by the way, let`s look at the first, the minimum wage. Republicans,
including John Boehner, the speaker, have consistently rejected any
increase in the minimum wage ever since the president brought it up during
his State of the Union address. And two congressional aides tell HARDBALL
that there`s currently no action on a deal in either the Senate or the
House, in part because the Republican disinterest -- uninterest in the

The GOP`s opposition comes despite continuing evidence that the public
overwhelmingly supports a minimum wage hike. As I said, according to the
new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, two thirds -- boy, two thirds don`t
agree on anything here -- they support an increase in the minimum wage.
The average response (ph) that it should be raised is up to about $10 (sic)
an hour, which is actually higher than what the president wants. He wants
$10.10. The public wants $10.25.

And take a look at this history of the minimum wage. Since it was
established back in 1938, it`s been raised some 23 times, according to data
received (sic) by NBC News and experts at the Brookings Institute. (sic)
Twenty-one of those times came under Democratic Congresses. However, in
`96 and `97, Republicans in Congress did agree to raise the minimum wage as
part of a deal which included tax breaks for small businesses.

So let me go to Senator Brown. Is that what`s going to have to happen,
some kind of deal that brings in the Republicans, something that says, OK,
here`s something for you guys because you don`t want a minimum wage

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I`m not clear. I know that we will come
back the first of the year. The first thing that -- the first couple of
things that I believe that we will work on in the Senate is to extend
unemployment benefits and to raise the minimum wage.

A couple of things, Chris, about this minimum wage that are particularly
significant. One is it`s got a cost of living adjustment built into it.
So if we can raise it to $10.10, it will keep up with inflation. We won`t
have to go through this every four, five, six years. This was last passed
and signed by President Bush in 2007.

The other thing that`s important in this, and rarely discussed, is right
now, the minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13 an hour. And
that`s not just waitresses in diners. It`s people that push the
wheelchairs at the airports, it`s valets. It`s all kinds of people that
some people don`t even know you`re supposed to tip, that are making sub-
minimum wage.

We would, over the next three, four years raise the tipped wage up to 70
percent of the minimum wage. That would be a significant raise for some of
the lowest-income people, who are working every bit as hard as any of us
work, people waiting tables, people driving the -- pushing the carts at the
airport, people that aren`t getting much of a break in life.

MATTHEWS: You mean they don`t get -- the guys -- the red caps, as they`ve
been called over the years -- those guys who take your luggage at the curb,
you`re saying they don`t get minimum wage now?

BROWN: They do not -- in most cases, they don`t get minimum wage. I`ve
talked to a number of them. I don`t know in every case with every airline.
Typically, now, a lot of these people aren`t working for the airlines.
It`s been outsourced to another company, so the airlines don`t have to take
any heat when it comes out that they`re paying -- they`re paying sometimes
sub-minimum wage.

They rely on tips. Oftentimes, if things are slow, the tips aren`t very
generous or aren`t coming at all. And that`s why it`s important to raise
that minimum wage, which hasn`t been raised since the early 1990s. So the
tipped minimum wage has been stuck $2.13 for more than two decades. And
that story`s not talked about much. We need to raise the visibility of
that and begin to put pressure on people that oppose the minimum wage.

There are a number of House members, Chris, that have voted for pay raises
for themselves but don`t want to pass a minimum wage. And that`s
particularly outrageous, Christmas season or not.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the opposition. Let`s go to the opposition because
I understand why people are for it. The American people think, Give a
break to the person who`s willing to get up in the morning, catch the bus,
go to work, put in 40, 50 hours a week, not make a ton of money but at
least make a -- something like a living wage, maybe, at 10 bucks an hour,
though it`s pretty hard to imagine it. OK?

What`s the opposition based on? Some people say it`s the social, Christian
religious right that thinks people aren`t working hard enough or something.
Who is opposed to it?

DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think what`s happening is just
reflexive opposition to anything that the senator and his party are
proposing at the moment, and also, this ideological opposition to anything
that government`s doing is automatically assumed to be bad.

I just got back from Ben Bernanke`s farewell press conference, and he was
saying why this economy hasn`t been doing better. Well, in his word -- it
was two words, "fiscal drag." And it was the budget cutting that`s been
going on in this Congress, taking that percentage-and-a-half off of growth
this year. It`s translating to millions of jobs that have not been created
as a result of the fiscal policy --

MATTHEWS: So he thinks we should have a bigger deficit?

MILBANK: Well, he`s always said that --


MILBANK: -- you spend more in the short term and cut back --


MILBANK: -- more in the long term, yes.

MATTHEWS: So what about this argument that people are -- are the
Republicans out there -- what are you hearing, Senator Brown? You`ve got
45 Republicans in the U.S. Senate. They can filibuster this baby, if they
want. Do you think they will?

BROWN: Well, I don`t know --

MATTHEWS: I mean, when Harkin moves the bill?


BROWN: I`ve been part of two minimum wage increases in the Senate -- one
in the Senate, one in the House. In `07, we passed it. President Bush
came around because he saw the public interest and the public support for
it. He saw that we -- you know, that his party shouldn`t filibuster it in
the Senate. The Senate then was 51-49 in `07. They could have
filibustered it. They backed off when they saw the public support.

And some Republicans genuinely believe the minimum wage is a tool that we
should use, a partial -- a tool that deals with some of the income
inequality in this country.


BROWN: And in the `90s, when it passed, it sort of -- there was sort of a
crescendo effect. Initially, Republicans were against it. Once you get
sort of a critical mass of votes, there will be sort of a cascading of
Republican votes. And that`s typically what happens in the minimum wage --

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that --

BROWN: -- because people don`t want to be against it that way.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about something important here. It`s not just the
minimum wage. I`ve always heard that if you get the bottom up, then people
in the -- near the bottom benefit. I mean, why aren`t the labor unions
pounding the drum on this, saying, Look, if you`re the guy getting $10.10
an hour to wash dishes, that means the guy who has to prepare the food`s
going to make $15 an hour. You`re going to push up all the wage scales,
right? Isn`t that right, Senator, that every --


MATTHEWS: -- gets pushed up a notch.

BROWN: At a fast food restaurant, where the line workers are making, you
know, maybe $1 over minimum wage, now they`re making $9 or $9.50, $1, $1.50
over, the crew chief (INAUDIBLE) that works all night is probably making $2
more than that. So you`ll get raises -- you`ll see a slightly enhanced
standard of living for a number low-wage workers.

And you know, the opponents to it say, Well, only X number of people, 2
percent of whatever they say, are living on minimum wage. That may be
true, but there are millions of people that are 50 cents, $1, $2, $3 above
minimum wage. They will be pushed up, too, and it will make a huge
difference -- that kind of a raise at that level is significant in their

MATTHEWS: Yes. Anyway, Republicans have also shortchanged the poor when
it comes to -- and the working poor when it comes to the issue of expanding
Medicaid. Now, Medicaid was basically, under this new Affordable Care Act,
was to move up the line of Medicare -- Medicaid, which is for people
without out -- poverty level of income -- up to a little bit above it. So
you get the working poor to get health care, as well.

Well, take a look at this map. Republicans in 23 of the 50 states are
still rejecting a provision under the new health care law that would
provide health insurance to millions of poor people at basically no cost to
those states. But because of the Republican Party`s obsession with
sabotaging the president`s health care law, which you might call that the
motive, there are nearly 5 million low-income Americans who will not be
able to afford health insurance.

According to a new study from the Kaiser Foundation, the majority of that
group is made up of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, not exactly in
keeping with the GOP`s autopsy goals to woo minorities.

So these people are working poor, but they`re getting to the bus. They`re
getting to work in the morning. And they`re not making much and they need
help with health care or they won`t have it. They`re not going to take it
out of their pocket.


MATTHEWS: Because there`s so little in their pocket to pay for food and

MILBANK: Well, it`s the cumulative effect. You`ve got unemployment
insurance. You`ve got the minimum wage. You`ve got Medicaid. You`ve got
food stamps. You`ve got --


MILBANK: -- infants and children. You`ve got Head Start. You know,
each one of these programs by itself, it`s not -- it`s very big if you`re
the person affected by it. Doesn`t affect the economy necessarily overall.
But you`re seeing this overall pattern, which is brought out particularly
during the holiday season, of pushing back. And you know, why isn`t -- as
the senator said, why isn`t the minimum wage indexed the way other programs

MATTHEWS: Well, I can tell you why, because I worked as a staffer in the
Senate in the `70s, and I wrote a -- drafted an amendment, Senator, and it
went (INAUDIBLE) Senator Frank Moss, I was working for, from Utah, the last
liberal from Utah. And the Senate Democrats voted it down because they
wanted to have the option to raise the minimum wage on a regular basis and
they could get credit for it. I won`t go into that, but that`s the way it
was back then.

MILBANK: It`s your fault.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Governor Kasich. He`s done the right thing
on Medicaid in your state, is that right?

BROWN: Yes, he has. Look, I mean, I applaud him for that. I called him
and thanked him for that. I wish that he had also set up the exchanges.
He did it under -- the legislature has tried to block it. The legislature
is far, far to the right. Governor Kasich`s a pretty conservative guy. He
did the right thing here.

What`s unfortunate is if you live in a state like Texas, and your governor,
because he`s on some ideological mission, refuses to take 100 percent of
the cost -- federal -- federal dollars pay 100 percent of the Medicaid
expansion for the first two or three years, then -- then up to -- then at
least 90 percent beyond that, or 90 percent beyond that, so it`s really a
gain economically for the state, in addition to what it means, obviously,
for all these people.

And one of the most important things we can do to deal with income equality
is provide -- is give incentives for work by providing Medicaid for these
people that are making $9 and $10 and $11 an hour.

MATTHEWS: I know. By the way, Rick Perry wasn`t known to be the smartest

Let me ask you, Senator, about this whole question of the party. Ohio is
to me a perfect political state. It just always seems to me, since I was a
kid, a political junkie at 14 or 15, I became focused on Ohio all the time.
It always seemed the most interesting state because it seemed to me the one
that was most typical of the country politically.

Isn`t it -- isn`t it a state that really is right at the edge of where we
are politically in this country, Ohio?

BROWN: Yes, I mean, it`s always -- it just -- as this year, when -- when
all of you at MSNBC called Ohio, the next thing that you said was that
Barack Obama`s reelected.

But here`s the problem in Ohio, in part. President Obama --

MATTHEWS: No, I said if he carried Virginia, he was going to carry Ohio.


BROWN: Virginia`s getting more and more Democratic.


BROWN: Barack Obama carried Ohio by 3 points. I won by 6 points last
year, yet our congressional delegation is 4 Democrats and 12 Republicans.
And the 12 Republicans, with a couple of exceptions, are very, very
conservative and on the wrong side, in my view, of so many of these issues
that I think will benefit our state, on unemployment insurance --

MATTHEWS: I know --


BROWN: -- as Dana said, on food stamps, on all the issues that -- that
really give the working poor -- I mean, these are people that are working
and struggling, don`t dress quite like we do, need Social Security when
they retire, need some help, but are working hard and playing by the rules
and all of those things. And they`re -- they`re getting no help from their

And it`s -- and it used to be that, you know, Dole and McGovern worked
together and we could work through a lot of these things on minimum wage
and food stamps and unemployment insurance, and there wasn`t this sort of
combativeness, even on these issues --


BROWN: -- around which there used to be consensus.

MATTHEWS: Sherrod Brown, member of the Senate, Yale graduate, smart guy,
friend of labor, I think you`d be a great running mate for Hillary Clinton.
What do you think?

BROWN: Oh, I don`t think so. I think --


BROWN: I`m very happy where I am. Senators who have ambitions beyond the
Senate tend to perhaps not serve quite as well --


MATTHEWS: If asked, you would think about it, or not?

BROWN: I`m really not -- I really am not interested. I love what I`m


BROWN: I really don`t --


BROWN: -- want to put that in my mind in any way. But appreciate the
compliment. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Well, I -- No, it`s in my mind because I`m looking for a good,
solid ticket there. And I think Hillary needs -- she doesn`t need anybody
really, but for the ticket purpose, I think you would be a perfect, perfect

Thank you, Senator Sherrod Brown and Dana Milbank.

BROWN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Merry Christmas to both of you. Coming up -- happy holidays, I
should say.

Coming up: President Obama`s sending openly gay athletes to represent the
U.S. government at the Olympics in Sochi. It`s a not so subtle message of
the Russian government and its anti-gay laws.

Plus, 2016 -- who are the viable Democratic alternatives to Hillary Clinton
if she doesn`t run? Who does (ph)? The bench is thin. The prospects
aren`t great. And now there`s even wild talk about 75-year-old Jerry
Brown. He`s at the top of his game, the three-term governor of California.

And President Obama spreads a little Christmas cheer to unsuspecting
tourists at the White House.


What`s your name? You`ve got ears just like me!


OBAMA: Has anybody ever said that? That`s good, man. That gives you some
special power.


MATTHEWS: There`s Steve Harvey. And more of that in the "Sideshow."

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the fear that`s driving so many Americans to
the crazy right.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: It`s retirement season in Congress, it seems, and three
retirements in the House of Representatives offer big pickup chances for
the other party.

First, to Utah, where seven-term congressman Jim Matheson, the only
Democrat in the Utah delegation, won`t run for reelection. He barely beat
Republican Mia Love last time around, and Love`s running again next year.

In Ioway (sic), Republican congressman Tom Latham is calling it quits.
He`s one of John Boehner`s closest allies, and his district voted for
President Obama twice. And in Virginia, Republican Frank Wolf, a really
good guy, isn`t running again. His district went for Obama in 2008, but
the president narrowly lost it in 2012. There`s a swing district!

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The White House has sent a strong
message of displeasure with Russia`s crackdown on gay rights, announcing it
was sending two openly gay athletes as part of the U.S. delegation
accompanying the team to next year`s Olympics there, tennis legend Bill
Jean King, of course, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow.

For the first time, by the way, since the 2000 Olympics, neither the
president, the vice president or the first lady will join in the

While some gay activists have suggested boycotting the games altogether,
President Obama said back in August he didn`t support that move, but he has
strongly criticized Russia`s homophobic new policies.


me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you`ve been seeing
in Russia.

One of the things I`m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and
lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think
would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we`re seeing
there. And if Russia doesn`t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it will
probably make their team weaker.


MATTHEWS: Wow. For her part, Caitlin Cahow told "USA Today" that the
White House was making a statement here, but a respectful one. Quote,
"Basically, the White House is highlighting Americans who know what it
means to have freedoms and liberties under the Constitution."

Well, Billie Jean King said today she was excited to support the American
team over there, but also, quote, "I`m equally proud to stand with the
members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be
competing in Sochi, and I hope these Olympic games will indeed be a
watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people."

Simon Marks is president of Feature Story News and a former correspondent
over in Russia, and Hudson Taylor is the founder and executive director of
Athlete Ally, a group that combats homophobia in organized sports.

Hudson, tell me this. You know, I was thinking about the `36 Olympics and
Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf and all those guys that won the relay and
really -- Hitler called them our black auxiliary, but we won with those
guys. And I`m thinking about the historic echoes here.

HUDSON TAYLOR, ATHLETE ALLY: Yes. There`s -- we know that there are going
to be LGBT athletes who are competing in Sochi, and I think this is an
enormous opportunity for the world athletic community to show support for
LGBT athletes.

Even though Russia is cracking down on their ability to be out and open,
there`s a growing movement of people who are ensuring that this
conversation is being had at Sochi, and I know that there are athletes that
are equally excited in speaking out against these laws. I think Billie
Jean King and Caitlin are two champions of respect and inclusion and are
going to make sure that that conversation is being had.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to -- let me to Simon Marks, who used to be forced
professionally to tried to figure out the Russian mind-set.

You know, I don`t know whether Kinsey`s right in the percentage of people
born gay, male and female. I don`t know. I guess they`re right. It`s
somewhere -- it`s got to some percentage of people born with different
orientations and different identities. We know that from experience.

Don`t the Russians have this experience? And don`t they -- do they believe
they`re covering it up? Do think believe they`re repressing people who are
gay? What do they think they`re achieving by a repressive society,
repressive laws?

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: Well, Chris, of course they -- of course
they do have that tradition, just like every country has the tradition.

And there`s an irony in all of this, because the legislation that has been
passed in Russia says that it`s now illegal to promote what are described
as non-traditional sexual relationships, by which of course the Russians
mean --


MATTHEWS: How do you -- the whole idea of promoting sexual orientation
seems to me to fly against experience, you know.

MARKS: Without question, whatsoever. They, of course, equate promoting to
just talking about it and discussing it, particularly with people under the
age of 18.

This is a bid, unquestionably, by Vladimir Putin and his supporters in the
Russian -- Russian Duma, the parliament, to respond to a desire on the part
of the Russian people, not all of them, but some of them, to express a
sense of machismo on the global stage.


MARKS: It`s machismo at home and it`s machismo internationally.


Well, we have in the home of machismo -- in Latin America, we have gay
people too. Look, I`m asking this. Is this a political move? I`m a
political guy. Is this Putin`s way of siding with the orthodox church? Is
the game he`s playing? He needs the orthodox church as his ballast over
there to keep that identity of the Russian empire alive. Is this part of
that move?

MARKS: It is completely part of that move, Chris. It`s completely in
keeping with his desire to project himself as a tough guy at home, with his
desire to communicate to the domestic constituency that he has got Russia`s
long-term -- quote, unquote -- "traditional interests" at heart.

And it`s also in keeping with his desire to continue projecting Russia as a
global power. And the message that he`s going to continue sending is that
U.S. global power is on the wane, which is ultimately why this delegation
that the United States is sending, sure, it`s a statement, but it probably
doesn`t trouble Vladimir Putin too much.

MATTHEWS: Hudson, what are the chances of us winning this thing, winning
the whole, winning the Winter Olympics? I don`t know the record. I follow
the summer more often, but can we possibly beat the Ruskies this time with
our team? I mean, I like to win.


TAYLOR: As do we all.

I think we need to define, what is winning?


MATTHEWS: Most gold medals, most total medals. How do you do it?

TAYLOR: I think that there is added incentive to beat Russia and to come
out on top.

But I see victory not in terms of just what happens in the course of
competition. I see it as what kind of statement are athletes going to be
making on the ground in Sochi, what the delegation is going to be doing. I
think that that is going to be heard far louder than maybe the sports
competitions will be.

So I`m hoping to see moments like we saw at the 1968 Olympics, athletes
being vocal, supporting the principles of the Olympic charter, which are
antithetical to these Russian laws. And I think that --


MATTHEWS: Any demonstrations? Do you foresee any demonstrations by our
athletes in support of solidarity -- solidarity with gay people, LGBT
people? Do you any kind of demonstration, fists in the air like we used to
do in the `60s, something like that, or not?

TAYLOR: We have been talking to athletes who are very interested in
demonstrating, in talking about their opposition to these laws.

I mean, I think it gets complicated when you look at IOC`s Rule 50, which
prohibits athletes from making a political statement. So, in the work that
Athlete Ally has done with -- in conjunction with All Out, we have gone
back to the language of the Olympic charter, specifically principle six,
which says that discrimination of any kind is incompatible with the
belonging to the Olympic movement.


TAYLOR: So I think if we look at the language of the Olympic charter,
there`s a lot of leeway for athletes to talk about their opposition to
these laws, avoiding IOC Rule 50, and also not subject themselves to
persecution under anti-propaganda Russia`s laws.

MATTHEWS: What`s the date of the Olympics? When do they start?

TAYLOR: February 7, I believe, is the opening ceremony.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s going to be fascinating to watch politically, as well
as athletically.

Thank you, Simon Marks, as often we have needed you and you have come
through once again. Thank you, sir.

And, Hudson Taylor, good luck in that group. And, by the way, it`s gay
people, straight people all united in this effort.

Up next: President Obama surprises sightseers at the White House.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL, and time now for the "Sideshow."

It may be a choice stocking stuffer for Tea Partiers this season, but "Cruz
to the Future" is a kids coloring book that actually -- actually requires a
whole lot more red than blue.

Last night, Stephen Colbert parodied the conservative agenda that is hidden
between the lines of this childishly partisan children`s book.




COLBERT: A coloring book about Ted Cruz is currently the number one book
on Amazon`s list of children`s coloring books.



COLBERT: I know. It makes me happy too.


COLBERT: This coloring book --


COLBERT: This coloring book --


COLBERT: -- has everything kids love, from tons of fun text to mentions
of partial-birth abortion.


COLBERT: And this isn`t some partisan glorification of Ted Cruz, because
the inside cover states that it is a fair and objective review of this
real-life superhero.


COLBERT: So, Really Big Coloring Books, great job. I hope you create more
conservative-themed kids` activities and toys, like "Connect Hillary to
Benghazi," and "Hungry, Hungry Food Stamp Recipients."



MATTHEWS: Next, there`s no question that the Netflix -- Netflix itself
broke new ground with their fictional political drama "House of Cards."

But now it seems they want to repeat that success in something more true to
life. The online movie giant is set to premiere an original documentary
next month titled "Mitt" -- M-I-T-T. The film is a behind-the-scenes look
inside the Romney presidential campaign.

And judging by the trailer, it`s -- the filmmaker, who is a close personal
friend, got a lot of access to Romney and his family. The opening scene
captures a moment that is rarely, if ever caught on American politics on
television, the candidate`s reaction when he found out he had lost the 2012
presidential election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can`t believe you`re going to lose.


What do you think you say in a concession speech? By the way, does
somebody have a number for the president?




ROMNEY: I hadn`t thought about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don`t win, we will still love you. The country


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country may think of you as a laughingstock, and we
will know the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to iron on?



I have looked, by the way, at what happens to anybody in this country who
loses as the nominee of their party. They become a loser for life.


Romney All right? It`s over. That`s it. It`s over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A year ago, we told you we`d love you no matter how
this thing turned out. And --

ROMNEY: Now you`re not so sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we`re not so sure.



MATTHEWS: The one true employment in American politics: when you lose.

Finally, it`s not often that tourists visiting the White House actually get
to see the president. But that`s exactly what happened last week after
talk show host Steve Harvey -- and, boy, is he great -- proposed the idea
during an interview.


STEVE HARVEY, TALK SHOW HOST: I ran into some tours --


HARVEY: -- around the White House here. How about if you get one of
these tours and me and you walk in and surprise the people on the tour?

OBAMA: Let`s go do that.

Hey, guys. I got Steve Harvey here.

How are you?

HARVEY: Hey, little girl.

OBAMA: What`s your name.

HARVEY: How you doing, sweetheart?

OBAMA: What`s going on, man? What`s your name?


OBAMA: You got ears just like me.



OBAMA: Has anybody ever said that? That`s good, man. That gives you some
special power.

How are you? What`s your name?


OBAMA: Hi, Jania.

All right, merry Christmas to you.

HARVEY: Yes. Thank you. I love you, too.


OBAMA: You know Steve Harvey?

HARVEY: No, don`t worry about it.


HARVEY: I have never been ignored these many times ever.


MATTHEWS: "I have got ears just like you." That kid will remember that as
long as he lives.

Up next: If Hillary Clinton decides not to run for president, or if she
wants a sparring partner, which Democrat looks the strongest, which other

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.

The Senate approves the bipartisan deal that eases some spending cuts. The
measures passed by a vote of 64-36. It now heads to the president`s desk.

A 56-year-old woman from Stone Mountain, Georgia, has claimed her share of
Tuesday`s Mega Millions Jackpot. She`s taking a lump sum payment of $173
million after taxes.

And the Harvard student who confessed to Monday`s bomb threat hoax is out
on bail. Eldo Kim allegedly made the threat to avoid taking a final exam.

I`m Veronica De La Cruz. Let`s get you back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Two years before the 2016 primaries, Hillary Clinton has no viable
challenger in her path to the Democratic nomination. Vice president Joe
Biden has not yet ruled out a run for the White House, but in the latest
Quinnipiac University poll taking the temperature of Iowa voters, a key
general election swing state, 62 percent of the respondents said Biden
would not make a good candidate, while only 20 percent said that he would,
not a good look out there in Iowa.

Anyway, the progressive left of the Democratic Party has been pushing
Senator Elizabeth Warren in the magazines at least. She`s from
Massachusetts, of course. But last week she ruled out a run.

A dark horse candidate, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, has
indicated that he might launch a bid for the White House, which is
interesting. Schweitzer told RealClearPolitics in October -- quote --
"There`s a whole lot of America that looks at each other and says, well,
there`s 340 million people living in America. Isn`t there somebody else
other than a Bush or a Clinton who can be president in these modern times?"

By the way, that`s a good argument.

And one big sign of how open the Democratic field is except for Hillary in
2016 could be that the 75-year-old governor of California, there he is,
Jerry Brown, who began his career running back in 1969, running for L.A.
community college board, might be considering a fourth run for the White
House. What a run he`s had.

"The L.A. Times" said -- quote -- "Some are pushing Brown to consider
another try for the White House even if it means taking on Hillary Rodham
Clinton, the prohibitive, if still undeclared Democratic favorite."

This is going to be great.

Amy Walter is with the Cook Political Report, the best there is, and
Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with "The Washington Post."

Let me ask you this.

Amy, you study the numbers, the numbers, numbers. I would like to see a
fight for the primaries. I would love to see a long primary fight on the
Democratic side, almost like the crazy fight I expect on the other side.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: It`s for business.

MATTHEWS: Not just for business. For interest.

WALTER: Yes, for interest.

MATTHEWS: And also I think the issues ought to be debated. Do we go into
Iraq? I don`t want to go into another Iraq. I want to hear the candidates
come out and say, we learned our lesson. We`re not going into another
Middle East war. You know, let`s see.


MATTHEWS: I want to see a dove win personally.

WALTER: There is going to be a primary. There`s no doubt about it.
Whether Hillary Clinton runs or not, there is a primary. Somebody is going
to challenge her, and these questions are going to be debated. Now, how
serious that challenger is, that`s the other piece of it.

MATTHEWS: Look, if it`s Howard Dean, I`m hoping for something where it
might just happen, a real battle.


WALTER: For all the talk of, gosh, there`s this debate within the
Democratic Party between the populists and the establishment, Wall Street
and populists, it`s not showing up anywhere outside of --

MATTHEWS: I don`t see it either.

WALTER: We would see it in primaries for the Senate, Congress. Where is


MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

I see the Democratic Party in the same sweet spot, center-left, it`s been
in since Hubert Humphrey, just about a little more social democracy than
you have in this country, but a lot less than Europe, all right, not a
bigger government, just a Republican solution to health care, very gradual
role of government there.

Your thoughts about the Democrats` side? You can enjoy this. You`re
already smiling.


MATTHEWS: But I think it is -- I want to -- first of all, remember Dan
Rather got into his fight with -- who was it? Oh, George Sr. got in this
fight with Dan Rather and sort of warmed up against Dukakis.


MATTHEWS: I need you need a warmup for the spring.

Jimmy Carter had a Rose Garden strategy. Didn`t work out too well. You
have to have a fight on your side before you go into the general, it seems
to me, your challenger.

PARKER: Well, but doesn`t it make sense that the person -- when you have
an easy path into the nomination, you`re more likely you`re going to have
an easy pass into the general?


MATTHEWS: Who had that?



MATTHEWS: Eisenhower --


MATTHEWS: No, go back and look at it. He had to fight like hell at the

PARKER: But look what happened to Romney. That`s a perfect example. They
beat him up so much throughout that ridiculously long primary.

MATTHEWS: People like Santorum.


PARKER: Well, they just completely wiped him out and they used up all his
money. And --

MATTHEWS: Well, they were kamikazes.

PARKER: Well, they were, but they took him down --


MATTHEWS: No, I`m looking at it with clear eyes. And I love the glasses.



MATTHEWS: I`m just kidding.

Clear eyes. You don`t always wear glasses. Clear eyes.


MATTHEWS: Why -- is there somebody out there who could give Hillary a good
fight and maybe win a couple caucuses, win a couple primaries?


PARKER: I can`t think of anyone. I really can`t. I`m racking my brain.

MATTHEWS: Do you know what I mean, anybody out there who can give her a
tussle, make it interesting, as we say?

WALTER: Not anybody who is out there right now.

Let`s -- and I don`t know how Joe Biden runs against her. You would say,
who`s the most significant opponent? The sitting vice president of the
United States. But where does he move? Does he move to her left? Does he
move to her right?


MATTHEWS: His problem is, he`s very strong in Pennsylvania, but Hillary is

PARKER: But nobody`s going to give her a hard fight, let`s face it,
because they -- there are two reasons to run, right? One is because you
might want to be the V.P.

MATTHEWS: And why would you run if you want -- explain that, how that
works, the Mondale way, the -- who -- who else had done it? Bush has done
that. You run against the person. You fade out sometime during the
primary with good cheer.

PARKER: You`re not going to run hard against her. So you don`t want to
tick her off and then you`re disqualified from that. And, of course, the
other reason, it`s because you might then, it`s good to run once of about
you run twice, except I`m not sure about the four times.

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: It`s for people who have nothing lose.

MATTHEWS: Let`s look at these Quinnipiac polls. They`re fascinating out
of Iowa right now.

Look at this -- Clinton 45; Paul, 44. Who would have believed that Paul
would be that closely match with Hillary Clinton.

Look at this one, Clinton, 40, Christie 45. Now, this is before the
kerfuffle over the bridge. But there was Christie up 5. Look at this one.
Cruz 41, Clinton, 48. And there`s Clinton, Bush, 47 to 40 for Bush. We
have Hillary Clinton beating Bush, beating Jeb Bush, no surprise there

All within the 40s.

WALTER: All within the 40s, and it all goes to -- I mean, right now --
look, these polls are just measuring the sentiment.

MATTHEWS: That tells you something.

WALTER: Well, they`re measuring sentiment right now in Iowa. I mean, if
you`re a Democrat, the one thing -- the bit of good news you can see is
that her numbers are better than Barack Obama`s in Iowa right now, right?
I mean, he`s the last poll that I saw there, he`s in the low 40s in Iowa,
maybe even lower.

MATTHEWS: Who`s that?

WALTER: The president.


WALTER: So if you`re a Democrat, that`s really what you`re being pegged at
right now. Hillary Clinton has a name, she has 47 percent. There`s no
doubt about that. That`s not that hard to get in a state like Iowa.

The question is, once this race gets engaged, she`s the best known person
in this field, does Iowa look like it is today? Or does it look like it
did in 2000?

MATTHEWS: I remember when I was working in the White House as a
speechwriter for President Carter, and Teddy Kennedy was unbeatable. He`s
killing Carter 20, 30 points in the polls. The minute, he announced that
disappeared. The minute he announced.

When Hillary announces, the first thing will be that they`ll hit her with
the Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Whatever they mean by that, it means
something to them, boom, boom, boom, boom. What`s that smattering of
attack begins, that ramming of her day after day after day, these polls
aren`t going to --

WALTER: They`re going to collapse. This -- she has a 75 percent approval
rating, or she`s doing so well among independents or Republican --


WALTER: It`s all going go back to --


MATTHEWS: We`re doing to Christie now, what the people on the other side
will be doing to Hillary when her time comes.

PARKER: That one clip where she`s in the congressional hearing, is she
says what difference does it make, exasperated. I think -- you know, we
know what her real point was, just come on. We need to figure out what

MATTHEWS: Whether it`s a protest or what it was, yes.

PARKER: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: But they`re going to make like it sounded like she didn`t care
about people getting killed.

PARKER: They will, but I`m not sure that doesn`t back fire on them. And
Hillary just seems like she gets past these things somehow. I don`t know
how to explain it exactly. But I think the woman factor is significant for

I mean, that`s just --

MATTHEWS: People who are our age who are women think it`s our turn.

PARKER: It`s another moment of history.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this -- can somebody run against her
without attacking her? And if you do attack her, don`t you lose?

WALTER: It depends on what the attack is. Is the attack personal or is it
more policy?

MATTHEWS: No, policy, what she`s done.

WALTER: Well, I think on policy, you can go there. I mean, you can have
the debates as you were talking about, especially on national security.


PARKER: I think people feel that, you know, Hillary has been pilloried and
pilloried and pilloried, time and time again. And at certain point, that
becomes --

MATTHEWS: Do you feel this women thing, it`s time for a woman?

PARKER: I don`t look at the world that way, but with all other things
being equal, yes.

MATTHEWS: Do you? You can`t say?

WALTER: Yes, I mean, it would be great. Yes, of course.


PARKER: I think a woman is as capable as a man, if they are equally

WALTER: You know what I would like to see? I`d like to see more women --


WALTER: -- governors as well, right?

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much. All other things being equal. I
love that from economics.

Anyway, thank you, Amy Walter. Happy holidays. Thank you, Kathleen.

Up next, a Methodist pastor who officiated the wedding of his gay son has
been suspended from his church. Pastor Frank Schaefer joins us next. This
is a very strong personal and national human rights issue coming up here.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, the Democrats have swept every statewide office in
Virginia. That`s because the Republican candidate for attorney general,
Mark Obenshain, has conceded. He did it today. Obenshain and Democrat
Mark Herring have been in a recount fight, but Herring has built an
insurmountable lead. Herring joins us Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe and
Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam, and both of the state`s U.S.
senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

It`s the first time since 1969, Democrats in Virginia have held all five
offices. And, by the way, those Democrats back then were much different
than the ones of today. They were Harry Plattsburg (ph) Democrats.

We`ll be right back after this.



FRANK SCHAEFER, PASTOR: I have wrestled with this long and hard, after
many conversations, prayers and thoughts, I cannot voluntarily surrender my
credentials, because I am a voice now, for many, for tens of thousands of
LGBT members in our church. I also --



MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That`s Pastor Frank Schaefer, he didn`t intend to create national news when
he originated gay son`s wedding back in 2007, but that`s exactly what has
happened now.

This year, a parishioner in his Pennsylvania church filed a complaint
against that pastor. The charges: performing a gay wedding, violating
order and discipline of the United Methodist Church.

The pastor was asked to sign a statement saying he`d never perform another
gay wedding. He refused. And after a trial, he was found guilty and given
an immediate, 30-day suspension.

Well, today is the 30th day, the end of that suspension. Pastor Shaffer
says he will neither surrender his credentials nor agree to never perform
another gay wedding. In fact, tomorrow morning, a church board will decide
his fate.

I`m joined from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by Pastor Frank Schaefer.

And here in the studio is Bishop Gene Robinson, a recently retired bishop
of New Hampshire for the Episcopal Church. He`s currently a senior fellow
at the Center for American Progress.

Pastor Schaefer, thank you so much for joining us.

What happened if you stood up to your church and don`t yield your office,
your credentials? What would happen? Would they declare those credentials
invalid? What will happen? How will you be defrocked, if you will?

SCHAEFER: Well, thank you, first of all, for having me here. It`s an
honor to be here, especially with Bishop Robinson.

That`s the question. Actually, that`s the question everybody is asking
right now. We actually don`t know what is going to happen tomorrow. It is
a possibility of -- for them to take my credentials.

On the other hand, that is not rely what the jury empowers them to do. So
we don`t actually know.

MATTHEWS: OK, here is how it stands now. You have performed -- you
acknowledged that you witnessed -- in fact, performed the wedding ceremony
for your son and his partner, you did that. That`s on the record, right?

SCHAEFER: I did that, yes.

MATTHEWS: Would you do it again if another same-sex couple came to you
again? Would you do it again?

SCHAEFER: Absolutely, I went on record before and am saying it again, I
would absolutely do it again.

MATTHEWS: How do you see your loyalty to the rules of your church, and how
do you square those royalties which I assume you accept with your own
decision-making in this regard? How do you put it together?

SCHAEFER: Well, I tell you what. I love the United Methodist Church. I
even love the rules, except for the rules that are discriminatory. And to
really refuse anybody ministry based on their sexual orientation is clearly
discrimination, and I cannot uphold those rules and was really clear on
that. I`m fine with everything else, the United Methodist Church stands
for so many good things.


SCHAEFER: But on this respect, we need change.

MATTHEWS: Where`s the Episcopal Church on this, bishop?

think. We`ve moved further on this issue. I mean, look, Jesus broke all
sorts of rules. He was always getting into trouble for that.

And as best we can figure out, doing the right thing, caring for people,
and the needs of people, always trumps rules. And he was always in trouble
for it, and it seems to me that followers of Jesus should be doing the same
thing, and that`s exactly what Pastor Schaefer is doing.

MATTHEWS: That is why we all liked his relationship with Mary Magdalene.

ROBINSON: Yes, maybe. Maybe.

MATTHEWS: I think that`s why we do, because we know that was breaking the
rules, because not that he had a relationship with her, but he consorted,
was friends with a woman who`s perceived in the bible, in the readings, to
be a prostitute.

ROBINSON: Always reaching out to those on the margins.

And you know what Pastor Schaefer is doing, I know great traditions in
Christianity which is basically civil or ecclesiastical disobedience. He`s
doing something, he is taking a punishment and enough people will become
fed up with punishing people in this way, and the rules will change.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you, Pastor Schaefer, do you feel like Martin
Luther today, or John Wesley, or a combination, here I stand, what is your
mood? Because tomorrow, you will be in or out, you can`t stay in if they
tell you`re out, can you? Aren`t you out if they say you`re out?

SCHAEFER: I tell you what, I never chose this role, but now that I`ve been
pulled into it, I actually do feel I stand in the tradition of Wesley, who
also broke rules or Martin Luther King. I do feel the world is looking at
me now watching me closely. And I gladly take that baton and carry it for
the time being.

MATTHEWS: Well, Martin Luther broke up the whole system of Europe, the
whole nation states sort of followed him in terms of secular life, do you
think you can change the church of -- the Methodist church, the church of
John Wesley? Can you change it by your actions on this issue?

SCHAEFER: I don`t know -- I don`t know if I can single-handedly do that,
on my part. And, right now, but I seem to have the attention and I can do
the part that I can do, and hope that change will occur.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re very bigger on rights here at HARDBALL and we`re
very big on mavericks as you may have noticed over the years. And thank
you both for meeting both descriptions, fighting for rights and equality,
marriage equality. And also having guts, we like that here.

All right, thank you, so much, Pastor Schaefer of the great state of
Pennsylvania. And, Bishop Gene Robinson, thank you for joining us with the
Episcopalian view of things.

ROBINSON: You`re right.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. I`m just kidding.

SCHAEFER: Thank you so much, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

We`ll be right back after this.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

I don`t think those old slams against the poor have the punch they used to
have. Who gets a kick out of fighting better minimum wage? Who gets any
joy from denying health care to those just above the poverty line? Food
subsidies to families truly in need.

We`re used to anger out there on the right, people getting a free ride, of
course, getting out of working that is, that no work/no food battle cry, we
heard all that lately.

But I don`t think this is the greatest driving force on the right these
days. It`s not about envy, that somebody is getting something for nothing.
No, I think it`s about that fear or emotion these days, fear, downright

People in this country, a lot of them are afraid of what`s happening in
these early decades of the 21st century. Just afraid, they worry about all
the illegal immigration which the government doesn`t seem willing or able
to stop.

They worry about the national debt that`s going right on fast the size of
our economy itself. They see the Congress unable, year after year, to stop
spending more than the government brings in. They worry about the threat
from the Islamists, the terrorism that struck us on 9/11, that`s driven us
to what seems an endless war far from our shores.

And this fear makes people angry, it makes them mad. The number one
solution to this country is the right shift, the craziness out there for
those of us on the center and on the left to get control of our garment --
firm, rational, progressive, grownup control of the budget, the debt, the
border, the health care system, of course.

Less fear will mean less anger, less right wing nuttiness.

And this is HARDBALL right now. And thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from our nation`s capital. I`m
Chris Hayes.

Well, there will be no holiday cheer for America`s long-term unemployed, it
seems. Tonight, the Senate seems poised to go home for the holidays
without extending unemployment benefits for 1.3 million American depending
on those checks, checks which will run out December 28th.

The White House, along with Democrats in both chambers pushed to include an
extension of benefits, in a larger deal. But in the end, they were cut out
of the Murray-Ryan budget compromise. Although Harry Reid promised to,
quote, "for an extension when the Senate convenes after the New Year," no
help seems forthcoming.



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