updated 1/8/2014 1:04:55 PM ET 2014-01-08T18:04:55

HARDBALL
January 7, 2014

Guests: Maggie Haberman, Jim Cramer


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s an election year.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

And if you look at Barack Obama right now and where his presidency stands
in football terms, it`s midway into the third quarter. It`s a contest of
will and skill between him and his critics out there, some of them pretty
vicious, that we know from last night`s national championship game in
football can still go either way.

Either he turns things around and gets control of events, including his
health care plan, or he gets eaten up by his three worst enemies, the
haters out there, the people in the government who should be doing a better
job, and of course, the clock.

I see this year, 2014, as decisive. The elections in 10 months could mean
the end or a strong new beginning. Who`s going to win this November? I`ll
tell you right now. It depends on two factors, who votes and what do they
care about.

If the people who voted big for this president in 2008 or even in 2012, if
they show up, it will mean a strong finish for this presidency, a
continuation of the forces that put him in the White House. It will mean a
long, strong fight to shrink that Grand Canyon of income inequality in this
country, extending unemployment benefits, raising up the minimum wage,
getting tax fairness, keeping Wall Street from another rampage of greed and
irresponsibility.

But if only the people who voted in 2010 show up this November, you can
kiss all this goodbye. You`ll see the beginning of the end to what could
have been, what many of us believe should have been an historic turn
towards full democratic government in this country, where everyone has a
chance for the top office, where everyone is looked after by those in
power.

It will mean Republican control of both the House of Representatives and
the U.S. Senate, and with that, a slow grinding effort to kill not just the
president`s health care plan, but his presidency itself and the legacy it
promised. It will be a double-downing of efforts to suppress the votes of
those who voted for him in historic numbers, a return to something like Jim
Crow days, redolent of all the old anti-black gimmickry of that time --
literary tests and poll taxes all the rest.

The goal will be to erase not just Obama from the history books but any
evidence that someone of his background should ever think of being
president. It will mean victory for the haters. And believe me, it could
well mean another war, like the two we got from W, wars that achieved
nothing but the deaths of Americans and the growing hatred of those we
claim to be out there saving. The Dick Cheneys of the city right here in
town are still aprowl, still stalking one more chance to get us back there
in Iraq, still there in Afghanistan and heading toward Libya or Syria or
Iran, wherever they can point the way and blow the bugle.

You think that won`t happen, that it can`t happen? You`d better start
paying attention because it`s already starting. State after state right
now, led by Republicans, has spent the last three years trying to suppress
the black vote -- and the young people`s vote and the old people`s vote.
Should they win as they did in 2010, they`ll launch another offensive.
What they don`t get from gerrymandering, they will try to get by voting
requirements, new requirements, and changes in the Electoral College, even.

And if you think that won`t get us into another war of them getting
reelected, read the newspaper. Nothing is easier to find these days or
easier to write than the latest screed by an armchair general yelling
"Charge."

Well, here at HARDBALL, I promise to keep you, the good people who care
about this country being a good America up to date on what`s afoot out
there. Who`s coming at you? Who`s selling you out? Who`s playing that
old race card, the birthers and the rest of that ilk who simply can`t abide
what this country looks like in the year 2014, can`t abide that we have a
president who`s kept his word to rid ourselves of the knuckleheaded wars of
W and the whole wrongheaded gang of his.

So tonight, we begin with the first round of the bell, the fight over
unemployment benefits. And once again, you`re a part of it.

Senator Sherrod Brown`s an Ohio Democrat. Joan Walsh is, of course, editor
of Salon and an MSNBC political analyst.

By the way, in a razor`s edge showdown today, the Senate voted to begin
debate on funding extended unemployment benefits. Six Republicans joined
Democrats, agreeing to proceed to debate. 1.3 million Americans lost their
unemployment benefits last month after Congress failed to pass new
legislation extending it. All told, by election day this year, about five
million people could lose their benefits.

Major hurdles remain for the legislation. Sixty senators will still have
to vote to end debate, and that`s going to be tough. And prospects in the
Republican-led House are even dimmer.

Let me go to Senator Sherrod Brown. Thank you for joining us.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: How`s it look for getting something done to save those benefits,
that weekly $300 that men and women out there who`ve been struggling to
find a job can still get?

BROWN: It`s still difficult, still uphill. I mean, the vote this morning,
frankly, was a surprise. We didn`t expect to get as many Republicans as we
did. We knew the Democrats were going to support it. It`s a question of
economic justice.

It`s -- you know, it`s called unemployment insurance. You pay in when
you`re working. You get help when you`ve lost your job. You`ve got to
keep looking for work to get them, to get these benefits. It`s, as you
point out, Chris, $300 a week, so nobody`s getting rich from this. And
most people in this country want to work.

I think that word is -- you know, we got some Republican votes today. We
hope we can get them the next round. It`s not at all a sure thing. Some
are insisting that these benefits be offset, if you will. And we know what
that does. In a countercyclical way, that hurts the economy. So we don`t
want to do it that way. But we`ve got to figure out...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s -- let`s -- let`s...

BROWN: ... to get from point A to point B.

MATTHEWS: ... cut to the -- to the values involved here, Senator. What
are the values of both sides? The values of the Democrats, it seems to me,
like you, are trying to help people who are in bad trouble already. As you
point out, they`re not rich. They`re unemployed for a long time. That
means their families have had to give up almost everything except,
basically, eating and paying the rent or the mortgage. So they`re living
at the very ends of existence in most cases.

What is the Republican opposition to giving a break to these people who
need a break?

BROWN: Well, I think, Republicans -- first of all, I think it`s -- our
view of the economy is kind of from the bottom up. If working class people
and middle class people are doing well, if poor people have an opportunity,
then the economy grows that way. Republicans really do subscribe to the
trickle-down theory. If people at the top are doing really well, then
everybody else will do well.

I mean, I think those two theories have been proven...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BROWN: ... to be what they are in the last 10 years in Europe and in the
United States, but some people don`t want to learn from this.

MATTHEWS: We got a stock market that`s through the roof, by the way. It`s
through the roof. And the old saying was, If you want to live like a
Republican, vote like a Democrat. And that`s certainly true with the stock
market. But yet it ain`t working for the 7 percent unemployed right now.

BROWN: Yes, profits are up -- profits are up. Wages are stagnant, and
companies aren`t hiring. Companies have parked lots of billions of dollars
overseas, all of those kinds of things. So clearly, the top-down, the
trickle-down theory doesn`t work very well for this country. Republicans
still want to subscribe to it for whatever reason.

And it -- but that`s -- you know, and the other -- the reason I`m
optimistic, though, is I think that -- Pope Francis said something pretty
interesting. He was exhorting his parish priests. He said, Go out and
smell like the flock. And you know, he`s saying it`s important to get out
among people who don`t have the privilege you have.

And I think as more senators do that, they become -- they become pretty
convinced that extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do.
And I`m hopeful that more and more of my colleagues understand that and
begin to see that this is the right thing to do for the country.

MATTHEWS: Well, unfortunately, Pope Francis, the holy father, wasn`t born
in the USA. He`s not eligible to run this country.

BROWN: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But he is certainly guiding us. Joan, you`re smiling. As a
liberal progressive Catholic, I guess, you probably love him.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I do.

MATTHEWS: But I do think there has been a shift in the cosmos out there, a
sense that maybe we ought to be looking at inequality issues. And one of
these pronounced inequality issues, the guy or woman out of work for all
these many months, who`s obviously -- and maybe lives in a town that
doesn`t have any jobs. Maybe he`s got to make a decision or she has to
make a decision to pull up roots and go somewhere way out in a place they
never lived before.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So these are drastic situations for people. And here you have
the Republicans saying, Don`t look to me for help, buddy.

WALSH: Well, I want to be a little bit optimistic with both you and
Senator Brown because I do think that just since the pre-holiday period,
there`s been a little bit of a change in the Republican Party. It`s not
enough, but we went from them being, you know, completely, implacably
opposed to extending this. Rand Paul is a perfect example -- absolutely
opposed to extended unemployment insurance, said it did a disservice to
workers.

He comes back from his break. He come back from 38,000 Kentuckians who
lost their extended insurance. And even Rand Paul is saying, Maybe we
should do this if we can pay for it.

I`m with Senator Brown. I think this idea of having to pay for it,
especially for three months, is ridiculous. But they really do seem like
they`re on their heels to some extent, knowing that they can`t simply --
they can`t simply lacerate, they can`t simply demonize these people as
takers...

MATTHEWS: OK...

WALSH: ... and parasites and the 47 percent. Their rhetoric has changed.
Paul Ryan -- you know, his rhetoric has changed. He cited Pope Francis,
although he did say that he doesn`t understand capitalism, coming from
Argentina, which is a little bit unfortunate. But they are talking about
it in a different way, and I think they see a vulnerability at the polls.
I really do.

MATTHEWS: Talk about a cafeteria Catholic, huh?

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s what the president had to say today on long-term
unemployment insurance. Let`s listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve heard the argument that
says extending unemployment insurance will somehow hurt the unemployed
because it saps their motivation to get a new job.

I can`t name a time where I met an American who would rather have an
unemployment check than the pride of having a job. The long-term
unemployed are not lazy. They`re not lacking in motivation. They`re
coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.

Voting for unemployment insurance helps people and creates jobs, and voting
against it does not. Congress should pass this bipartisan plan right away,
and I will sign it right away. And more than one million Americans across
the country will feel a little hope right away. And hope is contagious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God, he got me (INAUDIBLE) more thinking there. Let me -- you
know, Reagan taught us one thing for both sides of the aisle, Senator,
which was that it`s all about "we" and "they." He was always talking about
we who have the jobs, as opposed to that 10 percent or whatever it was back
then who don`t have jobs.

When does the "they" become the "we"? We`re talking now about 5 million
people by the end of the year who will not have unemployment benefits, if
it all keeps going the way it`s going with Republicans saying no to
everything. At what point does it become a "we"? Hey, we are getting hurt
by this. When do the Republicans start saying in the House, A lot of my
voters out there who are getting denied benefits?

BROWN: Well, I think the "we" -- I think Joan was onto something when she
talked about the change in the language from Rand Paul, the fact that we
got these six Republican votes today. That tells me that they`re at least
acknowledging the "they" changing to "we," if they`re not thinking that
much.

Now, and I think another thing comes into play here that it`s pretty clear
-- the president said extending benefits creates jobs. We know that.
Almost every economist that`s at all fair-minded believes that. A hundred
years ago this week, Chris, Henry Ford announced he was going to pay each
of his workers, from the kid sweeping the floors to the auto worker, $5 a
day. And he understood -- whether it was from generosity and the Christmas
spirit or whether it was because -- mostly, it was because he understood
putting money in workers` pockets actually helps the economy, helps them
buy a Model T, helps them live better, and helps grow the economy.

And I think more and more Republicans are understanding that as they begin
to look at this vote again and as we continue this debate. It`s going to
take a lot of public pressure. It`s going to take a lot of education. But
I`m still hopeful as a result.


MATTHEWS: I`m looking at this, Joan, and I`m looking at a pattern here.
You know, on "MORNING JOE" this morning, on Scarborough`s show, there was
somebody who was saying -- maybe it was Joe -- that nobody`s going to vote
differently based on unemployment benefits extension. But if you add it
up, this is one strike. If you bring this into the fact that Republicans
have cut food stamps...

WALSH: Food stamps.

MATTHEWS: ... opposing Medicare (sic) extension to people who are working
but are very poor...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... opposing minimum wage increases...

WALSH: Head Start.

MATTHEWS: I mean, you think -- Head Start. One thing after another, it`s
going to get back to the 1 percent versus the 47 percent, emphasizing
double-downing on that problem they`ve always had, which is they don`t look
like they give a damn about regular people. And there are a lot more
regular people than there are 1 percenters.

WALSH: You know what`s a real problem for them, Chris, is that they don`t
seem to give a damn even about their own base. Their base, sadly for them,
and sadly for their base, is older white voters. That is just the truth.
Every poll you look at tells you that.

Well, you know who`s the most in favor of extending unemployment, these
unemployment benefits? Seniors, white women and white non-college-educated
voters. That is the Republican base. And they are consistently
disrespecting their base. They`re consistently telling their base -- they
hope their base doesn`t hear them. This is what happened to Mitt Romney
and Paul Ryan last year.

MATTHEWS: OK...

WALSH: They hope their base doesn`t hear them, but they are consistently
saying, You guys got into that pickle by yourselves. We don`t give a damn.
And it`s the Democrats who are saying, We`re all in this together, and we
can build the middle class again. I really think when their base finds out
what they really stand for, over time, this is all going to change. This
is going to backfire on them.

BROWN: And Joan is right about that, Chris. So many people -- so many of
these very conservative Southern districts and Southern states have
significantly higher rates of uninsured citizens than other districts where
people -- and so -- so the word -- they`re going to start feeling this.
They`re going to start hearing this.

MATTHEWS: I know.

BROWN: They`re going to start realizing that they`re out of step with
their base that way. Joan`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: We have to wrap it up, but I just want to add (ph) out (ph) the
point that we`re approaching the 50th anniversary this week of the War on
Poverty. And the greatest anti-poverty program -- and older people know
this better than anybody -- is Social Security. We should always remember
that that was the platform from which the whole safety net began. Anybody
out there over 65 knows how important the unemployment -- rather, Social
Security benefits are to your retirement plan, and without them, think
about where you`d be, without them as a big building block. Anyway -- and
sometimes the only building block.

Thank you very much, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Joan Walsh.

Coming up, the Republicans aren`t just playing defense on unemployment and
minimum wage, they`re also out there on offense. They still have the fever
called -- great name for this -- "Obama derangement syndrome," which is
destroy the health care law, repress the minority vote, turn Barack Obama
into something like an accidental president.

Also, the two people watching the president`s fate most closely today are
Hillary Rodham Clinton and her biggest booster, the big dog himself, Bill
Clinton. She and her presidential ambitions could be collateral damage if
Barack Obama`s presidency sinks, but they`ll have collateral joy if he gets
his act back together again.

Plus, Dennis Rodman talks diplomacy in North Korea to a new level and takes
it there (ph) a very low level.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: If you understand what Kevin Bae did --
do you understand what he did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he do? You tell me.

RODMAN: (INAUDIBLE) country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell me. What did he do?

RODHAM: No, no, no, you tell me! You tell me! Why is he held captive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven`t released any charges. They haven`t
released any reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s coming up tonight in the "Sideshow," where it belongs.

And let me finish tonight with what I saw the last two weeks in some very
remote parts of Africa.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, former defense secretary Robert Gates is offering a harsh
critique of President Obama in his new memoir. "The Washington Post"
reports that Gates, who served under Obama during his first term, had
doubts that the president was committed to the war in Afghanistan.

Gates writes that by early 2010, he had concluded that the president,
quote, "doesn`t believe in his own strategy and doesn`t consider the war to
be his war." And for him, it`s all about getting out, according to Gates,
and that the president was skeptical, if not outright convinced it would
fail.

That`s where I was.

Gates was the highest-profile Republican from the Bush administration that
Obama kept in his cabinet. He retired in 2011.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. If you thought 2013 was a turbulent
year in American politics, buckle up because the stakes in 2014 are nothing
short of historic. The future of the president`s achievement of health
care reform is in play, of course, and with it goes the future of his
entire presidency.
And for those two colossal issues, the right wing has telegraphed its
strategy: Destroy the Affordable Care Act and repress the right to vote.

What will ultimately decide these issues, the direction of the country, is
the voter, when the calendar turns to November`s midterm elections, and
that`s this year.

If you want to have the power to wield a verdict, you have to join the
jury. That`s my phrase for the day. You want to be on the jury, you got
to vote.

And joining me right now to break down the stakes in 2014, the former chair
of the RNC Michael Steele, and with us from Seattle Ron Reagan. Both are
MSNBC political analysts.

Let`s just get to the reality.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: If we have a turnout like we had in 2010, we will have a result
like 2010. If we have a turnout like we had in 2008 or even 2012, we will
have the same result, a more similar result, more pro-Obama. It comes down
to who votes.

STEELE: Yes, bottom line, it comes down to who votes.

And I think you`re going to look more of a hybrid here, Chris. I think
you`re going to see the Democrats clearly on issues like Affordable Care
Act and the Voting Rights Act turn that base. The black vote isn`t going
away. They demonstrated in the off-year, if you will, the non-presidential
year, that they`re willing to come to the table and play, as we have seen
in the past.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But what happened -- what happened? Why did 2010 go the
direction it went? It went -- all the statehouses went Republican. All
the state legislatures went Republican. They grabbed the House by, what,
60-some votes.

STEELE: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: They`re on the verge right now of taking back the Senate,
because people, minorities, young people, old people, have a hard time
voting. What do Republicans do? Try to make it harder. Come up with more
voter requirements, more voter I.D. cards.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: But we didn`t have to do that in 2010.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re doing it. Your party is still doing it.

STEELE: I like to think what we did in 2010 to get those incredible wins
was talk to people about health care, talk to people about the issues of
the time. We didn`t have to engage in trying to change the voting outcome
through the ballot box.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

Ron, why didn`t the Democrat base vote in 2010 that allowed the Republicans
to get in and gerrymander the hell out of these states and make it
impossible for Democrats to win statewide and diminish the power of
minority voters in big cities? How did they get away with it? People
didn`t vote?

(CROSSTALK)

RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there were probably a variety of
reasons why most Democrats didn`t vote for a lot of Democrats didn`t vote
in 2010.

Maybe a little fatigue from 2008, the economic situation, disgruntlement
with the bank bailouts and things like that. And, remember, you had that
sort of surging Tea Party movement in 2010. Well, now people have had a
chance to look at the Tea Party a little bit, and some of their
representatives, and they don`t really like what they see.

I agree with Michael. I think you`re going to get kind of a hybrid turnout
this year.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see. As I mentioned, Republicans are gearing up for
a second assault on voting rights in 2014.

In 2013, Republicans more than -- look at the map there. Three dozen
states advanced legislation to suppress the voting rights of minorities.
That`s according to the Advancement Project, which tracks voting rights
issues. And last year`s Supreme Court ruling which gutted a key part,
Section 5, of the Voting Rights Act could mean a lot more coming this year.

The Advancement Project`s co-director Judith Browne-Dianis told HARDBALL --
quote -- "This could open the floodgates for more restrictive laws."

And that`s my question. We have guys like in Pennsylvania. You have seen
the guys. We can show it all over again, if you want, Michael, Republican
leaders in Harrisburg bragging and saying we`re going to screw the black
vote.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: I think it`s bone-headed. I think it`s bone-headed. I think it`s
a bone-headed approach.

Look, if you want to make an effective opportunity for voters at the ballot
box, that`s fine. Lay out what your argument is going to be, lay out the
plan. But what we saw in 2012 was, we made it concurrent. So we`re going
to change the law in August to apply to the November election. So if I`m a
voter sitting there going, oh, so now you want me to have to catch seven
buses to get to the voting polls this fall.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: Put it in the out-years. Put it out there for the voters to
ultimately decide. I think any ham-handedness by Republican-led
legislatures on this point...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You say it`s OK to let the voters look at it?

STEELE: Sure. Engage them in the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why would anybody who lives in a big city in a row house who
doesn`t have a car think it`s a great idea I have got to cross town to the
DOT to find somebody who is going to give me a piece of paper that says I
don`t own a car, but I got sort of a driver`s license?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: They`re in many cases currently crossing town to get to their
voting places.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It`s not necessarily right around the corner from where you live.

MATTHEWS: You vote in your neighborhood. Come on.

STEELE: No, not necessarily in all cases.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They`re making it, you got to go to another city.

Anyway, Republicans spent the better part of 2013 trying to erase the
president from the history books by dismantling his signature legislative
achievement, health care. They have already made it clear they`re going to
double down on that strategy in 2014.

At the national level, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia
outlined the strategy in a memo to his party which was obtained by NBC
News. It says -- quote -- "The American people have witnessed the Obama
administration flailing in its attempts to fix the health care law that is
broken and cannot be fixed. Our efforts will be shaped by our desire to
help protect the American people from the harmful effects of this law and
knowing there is a better way."

And at the local level, the RNC is launching a series of new radio ads
attacking vulnerable Democrats by tying them to the president`s infamous
promise that you could keep your plan. The RNC is targeting Democratic
senators in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire,
and Virginia. They`re also targeting House Democrats in Iowa, Michigan,
New York, and West Virginia.

It seems to me, Ron, that the talk of replacing and fixing is gone.
They`re basically saying the whole thing is no good. They`re going for the
kill. I was reading something by Walter Winchell that he wrote years ago,
the great -- I might call him -- well, he might be highly dramatic
newscaster.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And he said, once your opponents have solidified around
something, once they have given all the thought they can and completely
figured out their position, that`s when they`re done.

And he used the example of the attempt of Roosevelt to get a third term.
Once everybody was opposed to it on the right, they had him beat because
they knew exactly what their arguments were and they just rolled over him.
And, of course, Roosevelt was reelected overwhelmingly.

And I think that all the Republican Party stands for right now, all it
believes in, in every way it look and thinks and feels is, we have got to
kill Obamacare. That`s all they stand for. That`s it. That`s the bottom
of the Republican Party, kill Obamacare. That`s why we exist.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: And the absurdity of that, Chris, is, you might wonder, well, what
is the Republican alternative to Obamacare?

But the problem for the Republicans is, Obamacare is the Republican
alternative to single -- universal single-payer health care. It was their
alternative to that. So they`re going against their own plan. And, of
course, they have no alternatives to this, because this is the alternative.
It`s craziness there on the right.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Well, I have to agree with Ron on that point. At the end of the
day, if you`re going to go down this road, open this door to not only
repeal and replace, you have got to answer the question, with what?

MATTHEWS: No, no, Ron makes a more -- finer point.

You and I would say that. But he is something of an intellectual.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Ron figured out these socialist bastards are doing what we told
them to do.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Who do they think they are?

REAGAN: What are they doing taking our advice?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s the irony.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s not that they`re socialists. They`re doing exactly what
the Heritage Foundation came up with and is now attacking them for.

REAGAN: Yes.

STEELE: Right. And that -- again, that`s part and parcel of their
problem.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: How can you still be a Republican? I don`t quite get that.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: ... part of their problem.

STEELE: Because we are bigger than one issue. That`s for sure.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think that`s true of the Republican Party. I
think they`re only one issue. Anyway, thank you. They`re a one-trick
pony. They hate Obamacare.

Anyway, thank you, Michael Steer.

STEELE: All right.

MATTHEWS: Steer. Steel.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And Ron Reagan -- as Tip used to say, Ron "Regan."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: The Worm turns, Dennis Rodman`s meltdown.
This man is not Adlai Stevenson. Anyway, his meltdown in North Korea next
on the "Sideshow."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Now that marijuana is
legal in Colorado, Colorado officials say there is a severe shortage,
they`re going to run out.

Isn`t that unbelievable? I mean, for the last 50 years, people in this
country could get marijuana whenever they wanted. As soon as the
government gets involved, there is a shortage.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LENO: What? Isn`t that unbelievable? That`s what they say. There could
be a shortage of marijuana. Here is the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They expect to sell out of marijuana any day now. The
state expects over $600 million in pot sales this year, and another $400
million in related purchases.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, time now for the "Sideshow."

That was Jay Leno last night on Colorado`s recent legalization of marijuana
for recreational use.

Anyway, in other news today, 1990s basketball star Dennis Rodman is back in
North Korea this week. It`s his fourth trip over the last year and his
second since his self-described friend Kim Jong-un had his uncle executed.
This time, however, Rodman has brought a group of former NBA players with
him. And according to the AP, he plans to play a game against the team.
That`s to celebrate Kim`s birthday tomorrow.

As you`re about to see, however, he had a difficult time explaining, Rodman
did, why he won`t use his influence with the young dictator to get
information about an American captive being held in that country, Kenneth
Bae.

Here was Rodman on CNN this morning. Fasten your seat belt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to take an opportunity if you get it to
speak up for the family of Kenneth Bae and to say, let us know why this man
is being held?

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Do you understand
what Kenneth Bae did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RODMAN: Do you understand what he did...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he do? You tell me.

RODMAN: ... in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell me. What he do?

RODMAN: No, no, no, you tell me. You tell me. Why is he held captive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven`t released any charges. They haven`t
released any reason.

(CROSSTALK)

RODMAN: We got 10 guys, all these guys here. Does anyone understand that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do. And we appreciate that. And we wish them well
with cultural exchange.

RODMAN: No, no, no. I`m just saying -- no, I don`t give a (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) -- I don`t give a rat`s ass what the hell you think. I`m saying
to you, look at these guys here. Look at them!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but, Dennis, don`t put it on them.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t use them as an excuse for the behavior that
you`re putting on yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Up next: As President Obama goes, so goes Hillary Clinton? So
what does Hillary`s second effort look like should she decide to run for
president again?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
what`s happening.

A U.S. Air Force helicopter crashed earlier this evening in eastern
England. All four crew members aboard are presumed dead. The aircraft was
on a training mission when that crashed.

And the dangerous cold gripping much of the U.S. is being blamed -- blamed
for at least eight deaths now. Many areas of the country are still under
windchill warnings or cold weather advisories. All U.S. states saw
freezing or below-freezing temperatures today, including Hawaii -- back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

There is one word people use to describe Hillary Clinton`s 2016 campaign:
inevitable. Hillary herself has said she is still months away from a
formal decision, but it`s no coincidence that there is a massive campaign
infrastructure already taking shape for her.

Politico`s Maggie Haberman takes an exhaustive behind-the-scenes look of
what she calls Hillary`s shadow campaign.

She writes: "More than two dozen people in Hillary`s orbit interviewed for
the article described a virtual campaign in waiting, a term that itself
comes -- will make some of Clinton`s supporters bristle."

Need more tea for tea leaves? Well, here is 2008 presidential campaign
that just rented an e-mail list to the super PAC called Ready for Hillary.
Well, but elections are about change, of course. And if she runs like the
world is expecting her to, what does Hillary Clinton`s second effort looks
like? Who is Hillary 2.0? Not a fair -- not a bad question.

Then there is the political elephant in the room. What role does this guy,
Bill Clinton -- there he is with me, both of us looking pretty young there
back in `92. That was down *in Texas when I was interviewing him. What
role was he going to play?

We have two excellent guests now, Maggie Haberman herself. She`s senior
reporter at Politico and write this fine story. And, Ed Rendell, the
governor of Pennsylvania, who is very close to the Clintons.

I want to start with Hillary 2.0, because Hillary 1.0 continues to be a
lightning rod for attacks. Case in point, today, just this afternoon, some
excerpts from a new memoir by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates is making
headlines. Gates writes -- quote -- "Hillary told the president" -- that`s
Obama -- "that her opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq had been political,
because she was facing him in the Iowa primary that year. The president
conceded vaguely" -- this is Gates` word -- "that opposition to the Iraq
surge had been political for him too. To hear the two of them making these
admissions and in front of me was as surprising as it is -- was dismaying."

Well, as Chris Cillizza notes, this is potentially damaging because, "the
criticism that has always haunted Hillary Clinton is that everything she
does is infused with politics, that there is no core set of beliefs within
her, but rather just political calculation, massed upon political
calculation."

Governor Rendell, I wanted you to respond, since you didn`t write the
piece, and you can analyze this. Bob Gates is a serious person. I
personally hate this kind of show -- kiss-and-tell. He is on the inside
because Obama put him there. When people are kibitzing between themselves,
you don`t know what signals they`re sending to each other. It could well
be that Hillary said something because she was in a certain mood and she
trusted the people she was with. And it could be that Obama went along
with it so he wouldn`t be high-hatting her morally.

I can see this conversation. I can hear it. But I still don`t know what
it means, because what Bob Gates makes of it is not necessarily what it is.
That`s my thought.

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that`s right, Chris.

I also think that Hillary doesn`t have much to worry about anything that
Bob Gates said in that memoir, because he also said in that memoir she was
smart, idealistic, but pragmatic, tough-minded, a very valuable ally, and a
superb representative of the United States all the way around the world.

Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton had a great relationship. And Bob Gates
wouldn`t stand by and let Hillary be attacked. I can guarantee you that.
So, again, I think it`s insider baseball.

MATTHEWS: But he did.

He just did it in this book. He did the attack.

He said that she played politics with the surge in Iraq. That`s a serious
charge. The Republicans will be all over this tonight.

RENDELL: Right. They`ll be all over it. But remember, Bob Gates is a
Republican secretary of defense, a tough-minded guy who said she was a
superb representative of the U.S. all over the world. I`ll take that quote
any day.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go to Maggie who does this straight. Maggie, you`re
different than -- I have my opinions. The governor has his loyalties.

What do you know?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I mean, I think -- I think that you`re both
right. Republicans are already seizing on this, and you`re going to see
Democrats point to the things that the governor just talked about that bob
gates said many positive things about Hillary Clinton in that book. That
line about how she viewed the surge as political is problematic depending
on how far it goes, how viral it goes, and how absorbed it gets by the
base. This is something that has been a Hillary Clinton problem for a long
time, which Chris Cillizza wrote about in the piece you were citing, the
idea that she is just full of calculation, that everything she does is
about politics and this underscores that.

We`ll see how well this plays out in terms of who hears what. It`s
somewhat going to depend on what the White House says about this, what
Hillary Clinton herself says about this.

There is a way to deal with it. But on its face, it`s not great.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to what try to study, Governor, and you
exemplify, which is you have to be who you are, but you also have to grow.
And people have to see something developing. When you see a picture of
Paul McCartney, he looks different than he did ten years ago. He doesn`t
try to look like the same person.

People begin to develop new music. They throw out new ways of saying
things. They learn and they show they have learned. They mature.

How is Hillary Clinton going to look different, as we use the phrase 2.0 as
opposed to 1.0 -- not like tricky Dick Nixon changing himself mysteriously
and incredibly -- but how is she going to show the vintage quality of her
mind and experience coming off of being secretary of state, United States
senator from New York, in addition to having run for president before?

RENDELL: Well, again, I don`t think politicians as well as Hillary Clinton
or George Bush or any of the like can totally reinvent themselves.

I think Hillary Clinton has to stress the things that are positive and that
Americans love about her. One, she`s experienced. She`s done it all. And
now that resume is burnished by being secretary of state. And you`ve got a
guy like Bob Gates saying what a superb secretary of state she was.

Two, that she was ready on day one in 2008, and she is even more ready on
day one in 2016. And secondly, that she can work together across the
aisle. As a senator, she forged a great relationship with a lot of
Republicans in the Senate --

MATTHEWS: I know.

RENDELL: -- Orrin Hatch and the like.

Those are the things Americans are looking for. They want an experienced,
competent leader and they want someone who can reach across the aisle. And
that`s the way I think you present Hillary Clinton. I think that`s the
most important thing to most Americans right now.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about, let`s talk about -- excuse me, let`s talk
about the sticky part right here. Hillary`s fate may be more tied to
President Obama than you think.

Take a look at this. The director of the Pew Research Center took a look
at the correlation in an article for "Politico" magazine. He finds that,
quote, "Views of Hillary Clinton among Democrats correlate strongly with
views of Obama. No fewer than 71 percent of Democrats who hold a highly
favorable view of Obama feel the same way about Clinton. And the converse
is true. Democrats who are unenthusiastic about President Obama are also
unenthusiastic about Hillary Clinton. Just 29 percent rate her very
favorably."

So let me go to that question, Maggie. You know, when George Bush served
as V.P. for Reagan all those eight years and rather loyally, as I must put
it, remember, he then said I`m going to be kinder and gentler.

Now, he didn`t say kinder and gentler than his Democratic opponent, Michael
Dukakis. He couldn`t do that. But he was clearly running as different
than Reagan.

Won`t Hillary have to do that, regardless of the economy, unless it`s
zooming, in which she`ll just hang on to the guy?

HABERMAN: I think that you`re not going to see much of that happening
certainly during the primary window. You will see some of that I expect
during the general election.

But it remains to be seen. I think we will have to see what his numbers
are. As you said, we`ll have to see what the any economy is. Few people
are predicting the economy is going to take off dramatically. It`s
probably going to creep sort of along or uptick a bit the way it has been
for a while now. There is not going to be some rocket fuel injected into
it most likely.

So, she is going to have to be very tethered to him. I think (INAUDIBLE)
piece is exactly right. The problem for her is that the following year
from now until the end of 2014, and this is why some people are not
convinced she is running, if this is a very rough year for Democrats, if
the unexpected happens in addition to that, if Obamacare takes another turn
in terms of development, that`s a problem.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re the best. You`re the best reporter on Hillary
Clinton right now. So I`m going to play some hardball with you.

Is she running?

HABERMAN: I think yes right now, but I`m not -- I`m not 100 percent. I
would put it in the over 50 range, 60, 65.

MATTHEWS: Probably running.

Governor Rendell, is she running?

RENDELL: I agree with Maggie. I think it`s

MATTHEWS: Ha!

RENDELL: -- undecided in her own mind. She has to decide, Chris, whether
she wants to live a stress-free remainder of her life and still be a very
popular person around the world.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

RENDELL: Whether she wants to break that glass ceiling and take 16 years
of unbelievable stress.

MATTHEWS: I am so with you. I do believe it`s a decision. I really do
believe it`s a tough one, because I think the politics is getting to be
more and more of a meat grinder every year. Somebody said your DNA gets
changed by it.

RENDELL: Horrible.

MATTHEWS: That`s pretty scary.

Anyway, thank you, Maggie Haberman. You are the best reporter on Hillary
right now.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And I think you`re right, by the way. I don`t think she has
decided.

Thank you, Governor Rendell, so much. I thought that was pretty smart.
Who wants to ruin their head and their soul and their gut because they
think they have to make a point in history. Unless there is a reason that
you say, like Jack Kennedy said, is this for the country? That breaks the
decision in the direction of running I think.

Anyway, up next, the stock market has more than doubled since 2009. So why
doesn`t Wall Street and the Republicans give President Obama some credit?
CNBC`s Jim Cramer joins us next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: What a difference four years makes. Senator Republican leader
Mitch McConnell is running for reelection in Kentucky, but he faces a
primary challenge and a formidable candidate come the general election. So
he is turning to fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for help.

Take a look at the ad that formally kicks off the McConnell campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I want to welcome (INAUDIBLE) Senator
McConnell to sign the papers to run for office.

What he has done and what allows him to be the most powerful Republican up
there is that he can pull people together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, back in 2010, McConnell snubbed Paul and supported another
candidate for the Republican Senate nomination. But now that Paul`s
popularity has eclipsed McConnell`s, McConnell`s needs Paul`s support if he
hopes to hold on to that seat?

Don`t you love politics making strange bedfellows?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Stocks were up again today, big. The Dow gaining over 100 points which
under President Obama`s term is hardly a surprise. Take a look at how far
we`ve come since President Obama inherited a weak economy and unstable
economy from his predecessor George W. Bush back in January of 2009. Look
at that. It`s a 45-degree angle ever since.

Since then, the Dow has gained more than 7,000 points and has more than
doubled since its recession low up roughly 110 points since W. was
president. And when President Obama came in, the private sector was losing
over 800,000 jobs a month. But by April of 2010, the economy was adding
over 200,000 jobs a month.

So, shouldn`t the private sector, the big guys be thanking this president?
Big question for me, there.

Jim Cramer is host of MSNBC`s "Mad Money." actually CNBC`s "Mad Money", and
the author of the great new book "Get Rich Carefully."

Jim, I quoted it before. It`s a great old quote -- if you want to live
like a Republican, vote like a Democrat.

If W. or one of the lesser minds of the Republican Party like him had
achieved a doubling of the stock market, the Republicans in our world that
you meet would be thrilled with the guy. They`d be saying he`s the best
friend we ever had. I know we don`t brag about it on this show. It`s a
progressive-oriented thought process I go through around here. I think
about distribution as well as wealth.

But with all this wealth going on, why aren`t the fat cats happy?

JIM CRAMER, HOST, CNBC`S "MAD MONEY": Well, first, they`re natural born
complainers. Any time you talk about raising the taxes, they think that`s
meant to them. And the president talks about equality. What does equality
mean to them? That means they`re going to get less money in their
paycheck.

Secondly, the Republicans --

MATTHEWS: They`re making more money. They`re rich. They doubled their
money since W.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAMER: Don`t look at me.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CRAMER: The president should come down and he should ring the opening bell
and take a little credit. But he never does, Chris. He seems to be not
wanting to affiliate himself with the S&P or the Dow.

MATTHEWS: So they want to be loved as well as fattened up? They want --
they want some love from home. They don`t just want to be rich, they want
to be loved.

You`re serious, aren`t you?

CRAMER: The president should take some ownership of it -- Chris, I`m not
kidding. If he takes ownership of it, he will be embraced. I think you`d
be surprised. I think they basically feel he has scorn for the averages.
I don`t think he does. But he never says, you know what, has anyone ever
looked at how much money they made in their 401(k) under my presidency?

I would tell him to say that, go down to Wall Street, ring the opening bell
and say, hey, guys, can you do any better than I did?

MATTHEWS: OK. This is the genius that cost Al Gore the presidency in
2000, when he refused to take credit for the economic greatness of the
Clinton eight years. He didn`t go out there and brag. He and the guys
around him, Bob Shrum and all those guys, said, oh, this might offend some
poor people. But, damn it, there`s a lot of middle class, a lot of upper
middle class people that have benefited from the 401(k) growth. They
benefited from the good economy. You got to learn how to benefit as well
as complain.

Anyway, here`s a question for you right now. Unemployment insurance --
dead thanks to the Republicans. Apparently, a minimum wage looks like
there`s no deal in the works right now. That`s not going up.

There`s probably going to be a fight over the budget and debt ceiling next
month. It`s all going to be bad. Is this going to hurt the economy?

CRAMER: We had an average of five-day percent decline in the Dow and S&P,
when we have one of these, because it usually is a forerunner to a blip
down in the economy. I say blip down only because the market and economy
have recovered. But, yes, if you get another debt ceiling fight, oh, we`ll
give up what we had in the last quarter. All the gains will be given up if
we have that.

MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t you tell the Republicans --

(CROSSTALK)

CRAMER: If you tell me there is going to be, Chris, it`s bad.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you tell the Republicans who watch CNBC slavishly, who
watch it like it`s their religious notebook, why don`t you tell them this
screwing around by Eric Cantor and Boehner and all this is not helping. Or
don`t they want to help the economy?

CRAMER: I`m an equal opportunity attacker. I -- some people feel that I
was not that nice to Gene Sperling on "Meet the Press." Hey, I read his
book. I hyped his book. What is he talking about?

But I do believe that the Republicans, if they would just say, you know
what, let the chips fall on this health care plan, we`ll see you in
November, then the market would go up and the Republicans would be able to
celebrate, that listen, we didn`t stand in the way of it, but now vote us
in.

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re the best. Name of your book is "Get Rich Carefully."
I`ve been taking your advice for years.

Thank you, Jim Cramer. In more ways than you can imagine. What a smart
guy you are. And I know how you vote.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I`ve been going over Christmas
and New Year`s as you know, but really gone. Kath and I, Thomas and
Caroline were in Namibia and Botswana, two countries in Africa that I`m
happy to say seem to be doing quite well, being a week at each, it`s hard
to say, for sure, but I heard things.

As some of you know, I`ve been involved for a number of years in the
efforts to save the wildlife of the African continent. Mainly to the
efforts of International Fund for Animal Welfare. I applaud that`s good
work and what is for me a vital mission to save for future generations, the
natural world you I were born into, a world where wildlife is protected
from the slaughter we hate to see out there, the slaughter that Hillary
Clinton among others is working to prevent.

Poaching is too nice a word for the killing of huge animals because some
guy in Asia or some place else thinks rhino tusks will help him in his love
life or someone who thinks it`s OK to kill an elephant so a character can
have an ivory knickknack to show off.

Anyway, the good news is that Kathleen who knows about this stuff will be
with me here on Thursday to talk about what we learned out there in that
magnificent Africa, in what was my tenth trip to the continent. The first
one, of course, being there on my motor bike, teaching business as a Peace
Corps volunteer.

Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. It`s great to be back. Thanks for being
with us tonight.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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