March 7, 2014
Guests: Dana Milbank, Steve McMahon, Rick Tyler, Rick Tyler, Steve McMahon,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The wild things.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this -- the right, the far right, the far-
out right. Well, this week, the right-wing wild things were out there as
far as the eye can see, Mitch McConnell waving his rifle, Lindsey Graham
blaming all the world`s ills on Benghazi, both these characters, both up
for reelection, both pandering so far to the right, they`re about to land
on their butts.
Meanwhile, at a meeting called The Uninvited were those judged too far
right even for this week`s CPAC convention. Ted Cruz joined Steve King,
who says illegal immigrants have calves as big as cantaloupes and Louie
Gohmert, who says the president is one of them.
But hold on, if you think you have reached the full crazy, meet the
truly far-out right, folks like Frank Gaffney, who believe that anti-tax
pitchman Grover Norquist is an undercover agent of the Muslim Brotherhood,
Justice Clarence Thomas`s wife, who suggests the president may be secretly
backing terrorists, or the panelist who says Speaker of the House John
Boehner is covering up Benghazi -- Boehner is.
From right to the far right to the far-out, it`s a daisy chain pulling
rightward, with even establishment figures like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey
Graham trying to join the crazy, with Ted Cruz pushing his way through the
right-wing crowd, calling people like Bob Dole and John McCain names all
the way, anything to get to the hard-right frontier, where to lead the
country, he intends to plant his flag.
Dana Milbank is a columnist for "The Washington Post," and Jonathan
Capehart is an opinion writer also with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC
Gentlemen, this was something.
DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": It was...
MATTHEWS: This week went really far right.
MILBANK: It`s always a bit of a circus at CPAC when they come to
town. And of course, everybody is under pressure on the right to conform
to -- to provide all the red meat. But this did go further. This was the
time when you had Ted Cruz not just speaking to CPAC, but speaking to the
further-right group called The Uninvited, people who...
MATTHEWS: Further right.
MILBANK: ... people who are too far right to be invited there. You
had the spectacle of CPAC not inviting the leading Republican in the land,
the Speaker of the House, not eligible there. You had Republican
candidates, in turn, snubbing CPAC because they`re worried...
MATTHEWS: Is this the Republican Party of 2014? People working here
-- I`ve been talking with people today, they say you could argue that this
is the Republican Party. It`s no long the fringe of the fringiest.
MILBANK: Right. Well, I -- you know, Paul Ryan was saying that -- he
was saying that it`s not necessarily a civil war within the Republican
Party, and he`s right because there`s not really an establishment versus
the Tea Party. It`s really a free-for-all.
MATTHEWS: It`s a jamboree.
MILBANK: It absolutely is. And in a way, the establishment has been
taken over by the Tea Party. It`s suffused the whole thing.
MATTHEWS: Well, when I say -- excuse me -- to make your -- are you
agreeing tonight that what we saw was this little sort of cotillion of the
crazy right? You`re -- is it really the Republican Party that represents
the nation of Republicans, which is about, when you have elections, pretty
much half the country sometimes?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look,
remember, you`ve got Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John Cornyn,
people who have been in Congress, in the Senate before 2010, when the Tea
Party came in. They are now saying and doing things that we would think
were unimaginable 10 years ago.
CAPEHART: And that`s because the Tea Party has come in and has yanked
the party to the right, made them all fearful ever since Bob Bennett lost
his seat -- his Senate seat during the primary.
MATTHEWS: So they`re not stupider than they were five, ten years ago.
MATTHEWS: Lindsey Graham is just as smart as he`s ever been.
MATTHEWS: And yet he`s scared to death!
CAPEHART: He`s up for reelection. And because they have seen one too
many of their colleagues go down to defeat...
MATTHEWS: How about the -- how about the number -- to make your point
-- I`m sorry to jump on you. But to make your point, this week in Texas,
John Cornyn, who had no real opponents, had 41 percent of the primary
voters vote against him. That`s pretty scary.
CAPEHART: Yes, it`s pretty scary. And so that`s why you see --
that`s why I agree with Dana, I think we`re all here in agreement...
CAPEHART: ... that the Republican Party -- it`s not that the
Republican Party has coopted the Tea Party movement...
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s...
CAPEHART: ... the Tea Party movement has coopted the...
CAPEHART: It is the Republican Party now.
MATTHEWS: They must speak (ph) to the future, I suppose.
MATTHEWS: A terrible phrase. As we mentioned, CPAC wasn`t Ted Cruz`s
only stop yesterday, as Dana said. While the far right held court at CPAC,
a group even further to the right, if you can believe that place exists,
set up their own shadow conference dubbed The Uninvited.
Well, look at the list of attendees at The Uninvited -- Steve King,
he`s the cantaloupe guy of Iowa. He says all immigrant people coming
across the boarder from the south have calves has big as cantaloupes
because they`re carrying, I guess, 150 pounds of marijuana, which I would
think is big as a room, anyway -- and Louis Gohmert of Texas. Both are
recognizable members of the clown car, of course. There`s Mo Brooks of
Alabama, who once said this on the topic of undocumented immigrants, "I
will do anything short of shooting them." Well, that`s kind.
And then there`s Trent Franks of Arizona. Franks once referred to
President Obama as an enemy of humanity. And Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma,
who made headlines when he refused to challenge a town hall attendee who
told him that President Obama, quote, "should be executed as an enemy
combatant." As I said, the far right is now the far out. And then there`s
this group of full mooners at the event.
Here`s some more color from conference as reported by "Mother Jones."
A nonprofit called Empact -- E-M-P-A-C-T -- America schooled attendees
about the threat of a terrorist attack by way of an electromagnetic pulse.
Former Reagan Defense Department official Frank Gaffney articulated his
view that anti-tax activist and American Conservative Union board member
Grover Norquist is an undercover agent for the Muslim Brotherhood. Got
that one? Grover Norquist is with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ginny Thomas -- I don`t know her, but a DailyCaller contributor she is
and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- she alleged that
President Barack Obama may be guilty of providing material support --
material support, like guns and ammo, I suppose -- for terrorism. And at
least one panelist at CPAC suggests that Speaker of the House John Boehner
was part of the Benghazi cover-up.
MATTHEWS: This reminds me, you know -- you know, of the -- what was
it called, the John Birch Society...
MILBANK: Yes. Well...
MATTHEWS: ... that would accuse the Eisenhower, Milton and Dwight
Eisenhower, the guy that won the second war (sic), of being commies.
MATTHEWS: When you start calling Boehner part of this, the Benghazi
cover-up, when you start calling people like Grover Norquist of the hard
right some kind of secret Muslim Brotherhood guy, you`re a full-mooner.
MILBANK: Right. Well, I think they left out the obvious situation
that`s going on here, that President Obama is controlling the country with
fluoride in our water.
MILBANK: That was the only thing they left out.
MATTHEWS: What`s this electromagnetic? What`s the latest variant of
MILBANK: I don`t know. Maybe it`s from using our cell phones too
much. But you see what`s going on here is, as we were saying, the
establishment has been coopted by the Tea Party. So what do the guys who
were the Tea Party, the Ted Cruzes, the Louie Gohmerts, what do they do?
Well, you have to stay one step ahead of this parade now, and I think
that`s what`s causing this, saying, CPAC isn`t conservative enough. We`ve
got to go further. We`ve got to go in the direction of the electromagnetic
MATTHEWS: Well, what is this dynamic? I mean, you don`t -- you take
sides a little bit, but what is this thing with the dynamic out there?
Because they`re not going towards winning a presidential election. They`re
going towards winning something. I think Cruz wants to get to the
farthest-right rail because he believes in the race that`s coming the next
two years, that will be the best post position to be in. I think that`s
But why does that whole crowd seem to be going right?
CAPEHART: I`m mystified by what`s happening. I can`t quite tell you
exactly what their -- what their number one goal is because it certainly
isn`t winning the White House, that`s for sure. But here`s the thing...
MATTHEWS: Hillary must love this!
CAPEHART: The reason we`re talking about how we went from having
CPAC, which was the far right, and you couldn`t get any farther right than
that, to this Uninvited conference is that there`s no one in the Republican
Party now who can tell the full-mooners, who can tell the crazies, What
you`re saying is wrong, what you`re saying is factually incorrect, what
you`re saying is disrespectful, what you`re saying is un-American, what
you`re saying is bad for the party.
There`s no one within the Republican Party who can say that. And so
CAPEHART: That`s how you have this.
MATTHEWS: This one goes back to my argument, and I will be
contentious on this. Do you mean to tell me, gentlemen, that the
Republican Party chair of, say, Ohio, a middle-of-the-road state, or
Pennsylvania or Virginia even now middle of the road -- that the Republican
Party chairs, men and women of those states are happy with this zoo they`re
watching on television, that they think this is good advertising?
MILBANK: I don`t think they necessarily are. Look, they`re not
necessarily worried about 2014 because this is going to be a good year for
MATTHEWS: I know.
MILBANK: Cyclically, it always is. This is strictly about
presidential primary politics. CPAC has a ballot, a presidential ballot.
They always do. Twenty-six people on it this year. How do you
differentiate yourself in that field of 26? Well, you got to be one step
further to the right...
MATTHEWS: Does the...
MATTHEWS: ... the right person always win?
MILBANK: Not necessarily in the primary, but you get the attention,
at least early on.
MATTHEWS: No, does the furthest right candidate at CPAC win at CPAC?
MILBANK: This is sort of a Ron Paul-Rand Paul kind of crowd.
MATTHEWS: So Cruz could win this thing?
MILBANK: Cruz could win many a presidential primary...
MILBANK: ... because we`re talking about...
MATTHEWS: Well, anyway...
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, Cruz told conservatives if they don`t stand for
principle, as he defines it, they will lose. Cruz made his point by
attacking the last three unsuccessful Republican nominees for president, by
mockingly referring to them as President Romney, President McCain and
Well, today, McCain -- no surprise here. Did you think there`d be a
problem here? He fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He can say what he wants to about me,
and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt. Mitt`s capable
of taking it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there -- I wonder if he
thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he
was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our
Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle. I hope
that Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole because that`s -- that has crossed
a line that to me is -- is -- leaves the realm of politics and discourse
that we should have in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Of course, Ted Cruz crossed that fellow`s line a long time
ago -- followed by Bob Dole himself, who told NBC News, quote, "Cruz" --
that`s Senator Cruz -- "should check my voting record before making
comments. I was one of President Reagan`s strongest supporters, and my
record is that of a traditional Republican conservative."
Well, that`s the problem! A traditional conservative Republican. By
the way, Bob Dole was shot, you know, fighting up there near Monte Cassino
in the toughest part of that war, in the western part of the war, up there
in Italy, you know, in the end of it, right near the end. And he`s going
back to pick up guy who`s wounded. That`s how he got shot.
So the idea of taking this guy down -- he`s old now and he`s not in
great shape. And for the cheap shot artistry of Cruz -- can`t be beaten by
this -- I`ve never seen a guy take a cheaper shot. Your thoughts.
CAPEHART: This is the disrespectful thing that I`m talking about.
MATTHEWS: Who does he respect?
CAPEHART: Ted Cruz, clearly. He listens to himself. He will do what
is best for Ted Cruz. And remember, this isn`t -- Senator Dole isn`t the
first Republican senator Cruz has gone after. Remember, during Chuck
Hagel`s confirmation hearing, he questioned the secretary`s Americanism
because of something dealing with North Korea.
MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t Cruz go after Castro? I can agree with him on
that one completely. Go after Castro and Raul and a bunch of them, beat
the hell out of them. Go land on the beach tomorrow! I don`t care. Leave
our guys alone.
He attacks so many Americans, he`s really bad news. He is Joe
McCarthy. He is bad news!
Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank. That`s my opinion. Dana Milbank --
thank you, John. Have a nice weekend. I hope Mr. Cruz does not have a
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Things go better when you attack Koch. At
least, that`s the theory behind Harry Reid`s assaults on the billionaire
Koch brothers who are spending tens of millions of dollars on TV ads
against Democrats. Democrats need a villain. They got one in the Koch
brothers. They get two for the price of one.
Plus, not enough whites, actually, for Republicans to win the White
House. How`s that for math? And not enough minority voters in enough
places for Democrats to win back the Congress. Why this could be the new
Also, as every day goes by, Vladimir Putin looms as a major challenge
to President Obama. And last night, David Letterman and Jon Stewart had
lots of fun at his expense.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with Jimmy Carter`s success. Yes,
the subject of the new play "Camp David" opening here at Arena Stage in
Washington on March 21st.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House
Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has apologized to the
committee`s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings says
Issa phoned him last night at home and apologized for his conduct after the
chairman cut off Cummings`s microphone as Cummings tried to speak at the
end of a hearing Wednesday on the IRS affair.
Anyway, House Democrats yesterday called on the House to sanction Issa
for his conduct, a measure that failed as Republicans refused to back it.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, Democrats find themselves
facing an uphill battle to hold onto the U.S. Senate in this year`s midterm
elections. There are as many as 13 Democratic seats in play -- in other
words, vulnerable -- versus just two Republican seats that are vulnerable.
If Republicans pick up a net of six out of all that, it`s game over for
Democrats because they only have a five-seat advantage now.
Well, Democrats have one mission right now, take down the far right`s
money men. We`re talking about the billionaire Koch brothers, of course,
who have made it their mission to create pure Tea Party chaos for Democrats
on the ballot by bankrolling an assault -- an onslaught of attack ads.
Well, over the past 10 days, Harry Reid -- of course, the Senate`s top
Democrat -- has waged an unrelenting assault on Charles and David Koch
personally. Here`s how it started late last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This is the truth. What is
going on with these two brothers, who made billions of dollars last year,
an attempt to buy our democracy, is dishonest, deceptive, false and unfair.
Just because you have huge amounts of money, you should not be able to run
these false, misleading ads by the hundreds of millions of dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this week, Reid doubled down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: What is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited
money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the
wealthiest 1 percent.
Senate Republicans, Madam President, are addicted to Koch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Addicted to Koch." And yesterday, he told reporters he
would not let up, saying, quote, "I`ve been told by lots of people don`t
pick a fight. They`re wealthy. They`re very vengeful. But without
sounding too melodramatic, if not me, then who?" That`s Harry Reid
speaking. "I am after the two Koch brothers. They are two people who are
trying to buy America. They have the money to do it."
Well, Rick Tyler`s a Republican strategist and Steve McMahon is a
Democratic strategist. Is anybody making money off these guys? They spend
these billions of dollars. Are the consultants, are there ad copywriters
who are making money? Because they`re paying these checks to somebody. TV
stations, I guess.
RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, sure, I mean, the Koch
brothers spend a lot of money to get the people that they like elected,
unlike -- you know, not unlike Harry Reid, who put -- Harry Reid spent $14
million on his last election and...
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: For himself.
TYLER: On himself. And -- but Harry Reid doesn`t like -- well, the
unions also gave him money.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s get to the point here. Why is Harry Reid going
after the Koch brothers? Why is he making it personal and admitting it`s
personal? He doesn`t like these guys.
MCMAHON: Well, he doesn`t like them. But he also wants to make it
much more difficult for them as business people to be successful in
business if they continue down this road. So he wants them to be shunned
at cocktail parties. He wants their business associates to question their
motives and what they`re doing. He wants to make their lives difficult in
their communities. And I think he...
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s what I know about the Koch brothers. They don`t
like being talked about. They like spending lots of money. They like to
be able to dive-bomb into a campaign...
TYLER: Not just politics...
MATTHEWS: No, anywhere...
MATTHEWS: ... jump into somewhere like North Carolina, splurge a ton
of money when they find a vulnerable Democrat, then come right out
anonymously. But the Democrats, I think, would be stupid to let them be
anonymous. Your thoughts.
MATTHEWS: Aren`t the Democrats smart to jump the guys and say, These
are the bogeymen, they`re the bad guys?
TYLER: Well, that`s what he wants. He wants a bogeyman. And I think
that he and Elijah Cummings went to the same faux outraged acting school
because this is...
MATTHEWS: Oh, no. I know Elijah Cummings. That was real.
TYLER: This is the...
MATTHEWS: No, that was real. I know the gentleman.
TYLER: This -- this is all about changing -- this is all about
changing the subject, because Harry Reid doesn`t want to talk about people
that lost their health care, women that lost their health care. He is
tagging women who have lost their health care.
He`s talking about a stagnant economy.
MCMAHON: Presumably, presumably, Rick, the Republican candidate...
MATTHEWS: Say Benghazi. Say Benghazi.
TYLER: Sure, whatever.
MATTHEWS: Say Benghazi.
TYLER: Why do you want me to say Benghazi?
MATTHEWS: Well, because it`s on the list.
TYLER: Is it, like, a game?
MATTHEWS: It is a game.
MATTHEWS: It`s called -- it`s called change the subject from the Koch
TYLER: Right, because he...
MATTHEWS: Should a couple of brothers who have made a lot of money in
oil and gas decide who wins the Senate race in North Carolina for United
TYLER: Of course not. Everybody is free to give as much money as
MATTHEWS: But nobody has the kind of money they have to throw around.
TYLER: Well, then -- OK, so it`s OK...
MATTHEWS: Who else can just go out and write a check for a couple
hundred million bucks?
TYLER: It`s not OK for (c)(3)s, (c)(4)s, but it`s OK for (c)(5)s,
right? Is that what you`re saying? So, the unions, from 1989, (c)(5)s put
in over half of the independent expenditures.
MATTHEWS: Unions have memberships. There is some democracy there.
TYLER: But it`s OK for the unions when they agree with Harry Reid`s
MATTHEWS: Let`s make this the goose and the gander kind of thing
George Soros, don`t the Democrats have some moneymen who just go
around spending money where they want?
MCMAHON: Yes, they do.
MATTHEWS: So how is it wrong for these guys? I will be honest here.
I don`t like any of this kind of stuff.
MCMAHON: Actually, that`s why so many Democrats and some Republicans
like John McCain think we need campaign finance reform, because -- because
nobody should be able to slip into a state, under the cover of darkness,
spend several hundred million dollars -- not in -- just in one state, but
in several -- and pick a United States Senate that is going to work for
That`s not the way democracy is supposed to work. And, frankly, I`m a
little surprised that the stations are so anxious to take this money,
because they used to actually have standards and they used to make people
And one of the things that is true about these Koch brother-funded ads
is that many of them, if not most of them, have turned out to be downright
false. And they have been demonstrably false. And they continue to run
them. And so they have a First Amendment right to do this. But they`re
not above the law with respect to slander and other things.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at this. I want to get to the
interest of these groups. Soros has sort of a -- he`s a man on the left.
But I`m trying to figure out -- maybe generalized left.
But what are the Koch brothers` economic interests? I mean, I get the
feeling they should write off all these expenses. I think every dollar
they spend on the Republican Party is good for their business, tax write-
offs, the oil and gas industry, the whole deal. This is economic
investment by these guys, isn`t it?
TYLER: I don`t think so.
MATTHEWS: They`re not doing this for philanthropic reasons or
ideological reasons, are they?
MCMAHON: Yes, you probably can bet.
TYLER: I don`t know them -- I don`t know them individually.
MATTHEWS: They`re oil patch guys.
TYLER: No, from what I understand, look, I think they`re actually
patriotic. I think they actually believe in America.
I think they actually believe in free enterprise. I actually think
they believe in freedom. Those are the things that Harry Reid doesn`t seem
to believe in. That`s why he is upset.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, I don`t know. I think Harry Reid is a guy that
pulled him up by his bootstraps and he believes in this country implicitly.
Anyway, here is Harry Reid taking on the Koch brothers.
According to "The New York Times," by the way, from January since --
this is a quote -- "Since September, Americans for Prosperity" -- that`s a
group financed in part by the billionaire Koch brothers -- "it has spent an
estimated $20 million on television advertising since September."
And look at this. Groups backed by the Koch brothers are airing ads
literally thousands of times against vulnerable Democrat incumbents. Look
at these numbers. They paid for over 3,000 ad spots attacking, as I said,
Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat in North Carolina who is the senator there.
They financed more than 1,000 ad spots against Senator Mary Landrieu
down in Louisiana, nearly 700 against Senator Mark Begich. This saturation
campaign ad-ing, do you think that`s good for democracy, just over and over
again ads blasting people?
TYLER: It`s not new. It`s not new. The only thing that is different
is Citizens United, where now corporations can actually run ads for people
in -- most of them are mom and pop shops.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this is a good? It`s a good call?
TYLER: Look, I actually think that you should allow candidates to
raise all the money they want individually because it`s their name on the
ballot and put them on it. They`re limited to the...
MATTHEWS: But you don`t really like the outside groups anymore?
TYLER: I don`t like...
MCMAHON: That would be better than what we have now.
It`s funny, because it`s sort of what you see depends upon where you
sit. I can remember back in 2012, when Mitt Romney`s little mysterious
funders were taking Newt Gingrich to task and taking him out of the
primaries, there was lot of outrage from Rick and some of the folks in the
Newt Gingrich camp.
And it just -- it sort of depends on where you sit. These guys come
in, they come in under cover of darkness, and they do what they do because
they want to pick a Senate that is going to be more reflective of their
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go to a couple things. First off, what I don`t
like is the tagline. You`re getting at it here. If it says at the end of
the ad paid for by the Americans for Prosperity, nobody knows what that
means. It sounds sort of vaguely good. Who doesn`t like prosperity?
It doesn`t say paid for by a couple of guys who made billions of
dollars in the oil industry. That would be useful information, that
MATTHEWS: On the other point, to your side, do you think Democratic
working people, regular middle-class Democrats give a rat`s butt whether
some rich guy is paying for ads? Does it work as a negative attack line to
say that there`s Koch brothers?
MATTHEWS: In other words, is Harry Reid getting anywhere with this?
MCMAHON: No. I mean, so here is the thing. It works as a fund-
raising line you. You all remember back in day, when I worked for Ted
Kennedy, Ted Kennedy was used repeatedly to raise money for Republican
So symbols do work in politics.
MCMAHON: But this symbol isn`t well enough known to enough people to
have an impact broadly.
But it -- they`re well enough known in their communities so that when
Harry Reid is talking about them, they`re getting asked about it at
cocktail parties and at business meetings and at board meetings. And that
is really what this is about.
MATTHEWS: You think that bothers them?
MCMAHON: He wants to make it socially unacceptable for them to do
TYLER: I actually think it helps them.
MCMAHON: I don`t think it does, because they`re in business, and half
of their customers are Democrats, and they know it.
And they don`t want to be as controversial as they`re becoming. They
don`t want this limelight.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think they want the controversy, but I don`t think
it hurts them in their little social set.
TYLER: Oh, I don`t think it does either.
But I know they don`t -- they don`t want the publicity. It strikes me
that they don`t want the publicity. They like to do this. They like to do
this. They think they`re doing the right thing. I think they`re doing the
right thing. They`re allowed to do it. It`s legal.
I think we should go further. I don`t think Citizens United went far
enough. But that`s the law.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s darn hard.
You know, when we encourage people on this show to get out and vote,
the regular person, man and woman, get out there, kid, and some young
people voting, get out there and vote, your vote matters, it`s harder to
make that argument when you know that these kind of characters -- they`re
Americans, I agree -- they`re legal -- are spending billions of dollars to
turn the elections in another direction.
It doesn`t strike me as very democratic.
MATTHEWS: It`s not democratic. It`s something else. It may be
legal. That doesn`t make it democratic.
Thank you, Steve McMahon.
Thank you, Rick Tyler, for making a pretty good argument for a
MATTHEWS: Coming up: the more Vladimir Putin acts like a dictator,
the more the late-night comics pepper him with jokes.
The "Sideshow" is coming up next. This is HARDBALL, the place for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": All of the
sudden, Vladimir Putin invades the Ukraine. Nobody knows what is going on.
So we have put together an informative segment for you tonight called
"Understanding the Ukraine Crisis."
Take a look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The current crisis can be traced back to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing to understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is all you need to know. Mind your own
LETTERMAN: I think we have been hacked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time for the "Sideshow."
That was, of course, David Letterman`s not-so-subtle commentary about
Vladimir Putin`s control of the media. And it`s not so far from the truth,
Yesterday, Putin blocked two Ukrainian TV channels from even
broadcasting into the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. As the old
proverb goes, truth is the first casualty of war.
Putin, of course, sees it differently. He held a press conference
yesterday to show off how open he is -- he`s being with the media and to
explain his side of what is going on. And, surprise, surprise, Putin
blames America. Quote -- this is Putin -- "They sit across there, across
the pond, as if in a lab, running all kinds of experiments on the rats.
Why would they do it? No one can explain it."
Well, here was Jon Stewart`s reaction to that Putin press conference
on "The Daily Show" just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And this is
what I would like to suggest. Let`s have a conversation, rather than an
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": You know what?
I did not see that coming.
STEWART: A conversation, a rap session, if you -- I never saw Putin
as the cool dad. Well, let`s get to the conversation.
PUTIN (through translator): I would ask you to begin by stating all
your questions. I will jot them down and try to answer them. Fine. Up
here for now. I will begin. Don`t interrupt me.
STEWART: I forgot. It was an interesting fact. In Russia, the word
for conversation is the same word as the word for shut the (EXPLETIVE
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "The Post"`s Anne Applebaum may have summed up that
Here she did it. "Putin`s press conference reveals that we may have
reached a weird moment when the dictator believes his own propaganda."
Up next tonight: the real reason why Democrats are set to hold the
White House for a while, and Republicans can hold on to Congress for a long
time. That`s ahead. We`re going to try to explain future history tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The economy added 175,000 jobs to payrolls last month. That was more
than economists had expected. The unemployment rate inched higher to 6.7
percent. The White House praised the gains in job creation during a period
marked by harsh winter weather.
Russian troops have reportedly stormed a military base in a Crimean
port city. U.S. officials say there`s no reason to doubt that report. The
Pentagon believes there are about 20,000 Russian troops currently in
And Florida authorities have charged Ebony Wilkerson with three counts
of attempted first-degree murder for driving her minivan with her three
young children inside into the Atlantic Ocean -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, if the early predictions hold true, Republicans could control
both houses of Congress by next year, and Hillary Clinton could be the
odds-on favorite to win the presidency in 2016. And as the nation`s
demographics change, it`s possible that the start of a long-term trend is
there, Democrats in the White House, Republicans in the U.S. Congress,
especially the House.
Here is why. The Democrats` coalition, minorities, young people and
single women, are highly concentrated in a minority of congressional
districts, around big cities, mostly in urban areas, as I said. The
Republican Party appeals primarily to rural, blue-collar, white voters.
Journalist Ron Brownstein writes in "The National Journal" that --
quote -- "The big takeaway from the 2012 election was the limits of the
modern Republican electoral coalition. It increasingly appears that the
big takeaway from 2014 will be the limits of the modern Democratic
electoral coalition. Each side`s dilemma fits neatly into a bookend.
Republicans can`t attract enough minorities to consistently capture the
White House because they can`t carry the big states, and Democrats can`t
win enough votes to consistently control Congress because they can`t win a
majority of the C.D.s."
Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer with "The
Washington Post" and of course Michelle Bernard is founder of the Bernard
Center for Women, Politics and Policy.
Thank you, both.
During the break, I was just telling you, I was stunned by this new
number that Charlie Cook came out with, which is for the first time, a
president was elected, in this case reelected, with a popular vote, pretty
good popular vote, 52 percent, but with a minority, he didn`t win a popular
vote in most of the congressional districts, because it`s...
MATTHEWS: He has done well in Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Chicago, Atlanta, Miami.
But out in the rural areas and out in the suburbs, the vote is more
split apart and thrown around, dispersed. And he doesn`t do that well.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
So, he is winning tons and tons of votes in the cities. Right? He`s
MATTHEWS: And 92 percent in Charlie Rangel`s district, 92 percent.
ROBINSON: Exactly. Exactly. but Mitt Romney didn`t win any
districts by 92 percent, right?
MATTHEWS: And I should say -- so people think this is all a black-
MATTHEWS: It`s big cities.
MATTHEWS: Philadelphia, for example, is about 50-50, I think,
ethnically. But 85 percent of the city went for Obama.
MATTHEWS: So big cities have to be -- are also the stronghold, if you
will, of white liberals...
MATTHEWS: ... and other groups that tend to vote Democrat.
ROBINSON: No, absolutely, absolutely, big cities, and, to an extent,
suburbs, right, because suburbs can tend to vote like cities more than like
rural areas. But this is a real thing.
The -- you know, the question is, though, it is affected by the way
you draw the districts. And so, you know, I`m a little suspicious when you
talk about these long-term...
MATTHEWS: But they won in 2010. Yes, Eugene, but they won in 2010
big, the Republicans.
ROBINSON: Oh, yes, yes. No, that`s...
MATTHEWS: Before they got their redistrict, they won the right
through the state legislature.
MATTHEWS: But they did. Guys like Meehan and Fitzpatrick, those guys
all won in `10.
MATTHEWS: Maybe they have locked in their majorities.
MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND
POLICY: And they won -- and they won with white males, non-college-
educated, culturally conservative, who I believe don`t necessarily like
seeing a black president in the White House.
It is black and white, not -- maybe not 100 percent, but it`s an
issue. There is not -- there is absolutely no denying it.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s look at the Senate.
ROBINSON: It certainly exacerbates...
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at the Senate, because the Senate was drawn by
the states. It`s the nature of the states to be -- but the Senate, our
founding fathers ruled...
MATTHEWS: ... that the smaller states with less people in them, who
tend to be white states today -- they didn`t plan that part -- rural
states, have the same two senators as New York.
ROBINSON: They were all white states then.
ROBINSON: That was the idea.
MATTHEWS: You called me on that.
MATTHEWS: But they do. Like, Wyoming and Montana is coming up this
time and Alaska. Alaska has very few people living in it. Montana, South
Dakota, these states are going to dominate the Senate. And they`re all
Republican because they`re...
ROBINSON: Yes, they are. This is a problem.
Democrats, if they`re going to -- if they`re going to play in the
Senate, if they`re going to keep this very slim majority they have, they
have got to find a way to play in these states. And it`s not easy, because
their voters don`t live in these states. So they`re going to have to find
a way to appeal to other voters.
Before you were born, Gene and I were alive.
MATTHEWS: There was a time when Idaho had Frank Church...
MATTHEWS: ... when South Dakota had George McGovern, when Utah had
Frank Moss, my first boss. They were all over out there.
MATTHEWS: Moderate to liberal Democratic senators in the most rural
Rocky Mountain states.
What is wrong? What has changed?
BERNARD: Well, the whole country has changed.
But what I would like to say is, how about focusing on -- on, like,
positive change, battleground Texas, this move, for example, to -- to turn
Texas into a blue state? It`s not going to happen in 2014, but it can
happen in 2016.
What if Democrats get smart in all of these rural states that we`re
talking about, instead of like sort of throwing in the towel and saying, we
can`t compete --
MATTHEWS: OK. What can they do besides wait for the demographic time
bomb? What can --
BERNARD: The demographic time bomb has already happened. We`re
seeing the browning of America in every single state in this country. What
we`re not seeing is people being smart and going out and reaching out to
people that have traditionally Democratic values that don`t see any reason
to show up at the ballot box.
MATTHEWS: I got an idea -- get minorities and young people to vote in
BERNARD: Exactly. That`s exactly what I`m saying. That`s point.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s got to be Democratic
strategy in this election.
BERNARD: But not just the ones who don`t register, the ones who don`t
register, because they don`t think they have any reason to register.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there is a connection between having a health
care plan but not figuring out to roll it out? Let`s figure out how to win
the presidency but not how to keep it.
Anyway, Republicans know they have a problem attracting minority
voters, they say. So the Conservative Political Action Committee, that`s
CPAC, hosted a panel discussion on the GOP`s outreach to minority. But
most revealing was the attendance for the discussion, which, in fact, sums
up the struggles Republicans are facing with their national electoral
Take a look at this photograph -- that room is empty. It was tweeted
out by a fellow name John Hudak, who is a fellow at Brookings, who was
attending pretty much all alone that CPAC event. Hudak tweeted, quote,
"big problem for GOP. Most important CPAC 2014 panel. Topic: minority
outreach. View: largely empty room."
So, I guess they didn`t have the welcome mat out. They charged people
to come to this damn thing. That`s not exactly -- a certain crowd that
shows up. The yappers all show up there. There aren`t many black yappers.
I don`t think. Maybe there are.
BERNARD: Here is my advice to the people who do these panels and want
to do African American outreach. Take a page out of -- gasp (ph) when I
say it -- Karl Rove`s book, page.
In 2005, President Bush, I was there, President Bush had a meeting
with 20 African-American leaders at the White House. Most of them were
ministers. Most of them were overwhelmingly Democrats. And he sat down
and listened and said, what are your issues?
And we saw it translate into policy. People were -- most of the room
was very much anti-gay marriage. Most of the room wanted to see the
country do something with regard to HIV/AIDS in Africa. We saw it
translate into policy. And the black vote, it`s not large, but the black
MATTHEWS: Is that what has left to the fight against AIDS?
BERNARD: He sat and he listened, and that will be his greatest
legacy. And the black vote went from 9 percent to 11 percent between 2000
It takes being smart, not throwing out yahoo or somebody, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Fighting AIDS in Africa.
ROBINSON: I`ve written in several columns that that was his greatest
achievement. And it was a huge achievement. It should go down in the
BERNARD: And he listened. It`s not -- you don`t have to peddle. You
just have to listen and be smart, and maybe not turn back the tide of
ROBINSON: Rove got this, George W. Bush got this. The current crop
of Republicans does not get it.
ROBINSON: Mitt Romney didn`t get it.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it funny how the more recent Republicans are
beginning to look like moderates? Every old picture of you looks better.
That`s what I`ve noticed.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, this question of the White House. Let`s go back to
our premise, and then, Michelle, jump on this. Does it look like now that
Hillary or any Democrat -- it`s only Hillary looks like the probable
nominee has a better shot at the White House come 2016 now than any
Republican, and yet there doesn`t seem to be a horizon out there you can
see where the Democrats take back the House?
ROBINSON: You know, I don`t see the horizon. I do think that
Democrats really ought to concentrate on doing better in the state houses
because it certainly won`t hurt if they`re able to draw some congressional
MATTHEWS: Their next shot is 2022.
ROBINSON: Yes, exactly. That will be their next shot.
But it`s tough. I mean, it`s tough. I never say never because stuff
happens in politics --
MATTHEWS: Holding on to, Michelle, White House, the Democrats have a
good chance to hold it?
BERNARD: I think Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United
States if she wants it.
BERNARD: House, a different story.
MATTHEWS: I like your clarity.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Gene Robinson. Have a nice weekend.
Michelle Bernard, thank you so much. I mean it.
Up next, you may remember him as John-Boy from "The Waltons," one of
the most popular shows of the 1970s. Well, now, actor Richard Thomas is
here in Washington. He`s going to be joining us right now. He is taking
us behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic examples of presidential
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Republicans are hoping to expand this Senate map in the
midterm elections this November, and they`ve got their eye on Virginia.
But eight months before Election Day, Democrat Mark Warner is looking
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new poll from Roanoke College, Warner has a big lead
over former Republican Party chair Ed Gillespie. If the election were held
today, Warner would win with 56 percent of the vote versus just 29 for
Gillespie. That`s a 27 points spread. It looks good for Mark Warner.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The scene in the White House last night was almost
unbelievable. Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt in a bear
hug that celebrated the two agreements worked out in 13 days of negotiating
at Camp David. It will be the first time in history that an Arab nation
has agreed to a peace treaty with Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The first time an Arab nation made peace, really, kept it,
too (ph), with Israel.
The signing of the so-called Camp David Accords was a landmark
achievement of presidential diplomacy back in 1978. The triumphant
conclusion of an intensive closed door negotiation led by Jimmy Carter
between two unlikely partners, the leaders of Egypt and Israel. There they
But that`s just what the public got to see, the public part, the
hugging. The truth was the summit was more fraught with tension, discord,
and actual animus than the press could ever have known at the time. It all
played out in the tranquil wooded hills of its namesake, Camp David, the
120-acre presidential retreat just north of Washington.
Well, now, Pulitzer Prize-winning-journalist-turned-playwright
Lawrence Wright has written "Camp David", an historical drama based on the
events that unfolded in those days leading up to that great agreement. You
can see a real life work of political theater here, but the play, which is
36 years in the making, is as much about human drama as anything written
for the stage. It debuts March 21st here in Washington at the great arena
With us now to talk about it, about "Camp David," the Emmy Award-
winning actor, Richard Thomas, who plays President Carter. He`s a 55-year-
old veteran of performing arts, of course, acting in "The Waltons" all
Let me ask you about -- what did you learn in all this? Because I
went to the reading, Begin, tough Jewish guy, really tough, who has lived
through the Holocaust, knows all the things about the world that hates the
Jewish people, totally sensitive to giving up the land.
RICHARD THOMAS, ACTOR, "CAMP DAVID": Right.
MATTHEWS: And Anwar Sadat, who seems like a nice guy, but just as
THOMAS: Just as tough. It is drama. It absolutely is drama. You
know, you see the signing and you see the embracing, as you say in the
But Larry Wright has done the most extraordinary job of taking you
into those 13 days of intense back and forth and each man so passionate in
his beliefs and his desire to defend his own people. And then, Carter
desperately trying to feel the idealist in him, knowing that piece is
achievable and the alchemy between these three men that they managed to do
something, I`d like to see something like that happen now.
MATTHEWS: Yes, what struck me is, because going through the reading,
the Israeli -- the Jewish side -- here he is this older guy speaking for
the history of the 20th century and horror of the Holocaust and he`s
speaking from that. Should we trust you people?
MATTHEWS: Why should we trust you?
THOMAS: Exactly so. Two implacable enemies. One thing that comes up
in play, it`s as hard to let go of an enemy sometimes as it is to let go of
a friend. There`s so much investment in the conflict.
MATTHEWS: How many Anwar Sadats are there on this planet?
THOMAS: That`s the thing.
MATTHEWS: How many Ezer Weizmans? How many Yitzhak Rabins? I mean,
how many great people?
THOMAS: Sadat`s commitment to Carter from the very beginning of the
play, I`m here to make peace. I will make peace. I`ve gone to Jerusalem.
I`ve spoken to Knesset. I want this to happen.
But he drove a tug bargain, too, because he wanted to do the right
thing but up against Begin, he was constantly having to dig in.
MATTHEWS: Well, he remembered this -- the Yom Kippur War, which Begin
THOMAS: Exactly so.
MATTHEWS: I mean, Anwar Sadat led, when he invaded Israel in "73.
THOMAS: And all these things are in the play, but what makes it
exciting, what Larry`s done, it`s a play about people. About -- of very
principled, very strong men who were also flawed human beings.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, tempers flared in the early days in the meetings
between Sadat and Begin. In fact, the entire peace summit was nearly
derailed on the very first day.
Let`s take a look at a scene from a rehearsal of "Camp David." It was
carefully researched, by the way, constructed by the language previously
used by Begin himself who you`ll see on the left and Anwar Sadat you see on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What promises can you make that will protect us?
You`re the most impeccable enemy the Jewish people have had since the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always the Nazis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right, as you should know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I admire him because he fought the British as I
fought the British.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your terrorist career.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is the real terrorist here? You have the
blood of hundreds of innocent people on your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was -- that guy reminds me of Omar Sharif (ph).
He`s Egyptian, right?
THOMAS: You know, yes. We got a great cast. Ron Rifkin is playing
Menachem Begin, Hallie Foote is playing Rosalynn, and this wonderful
Egyptian actor, Khaled Nabawy, who`s a big star in Egypt, has come all the
way from --
MATTHEWS: So, you didn`t have to fake the accent.
THOMAS: No, he brought Egypt with him. It`s really very exciting.
MATTHEWS: So, what do you think this is going to do? Do you think
this is going to inspire us? We just up and saw Brian Cranston in "All the
Way" about LBJ, that talks about negotiations and leading this country, how
you do to do it.
Is this going to teach us how to negotiate a deal with the Middle East
peace with John Kerry pushing it over there?
THOMAS: Both that play and our play are about getting things done,
about people who know --
THOMAS: -- how to get things done. Grownups.
And the idea you couldn`t have two more entrenched opponents than in
this story, but they did it. They made it work.
MATTHEWS: Would it have happened if it were on television?
THOMAS: I think --
MATTHEWS: It happened in secret?
THOMAS: Carter was very clear. I want to be isolated away from the
world, surrounded by nature and just the three of us talking in the room.
MATTHEWS: Richard Thomas, you`re the perfect guy for Jimmy.
THOMAS: I love it.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to say something after this about Jimmy Carter,
because he ought to get credit for this. Not just you actors.
THOMAS: Yes, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Richard Thomas, "Camp David" debuts March 21st. Mark that
down. March 21st. That`s this month, at the Arena Stage here in
Washington. It`s a great platform.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight, and the week, with this:
The right wing has decided to couple President Obama with President
Carter. I think it`s time people stopped them. Made them pay for the
Here`s a little comparison: President Carter forced a peace treaty
between Israel and its greatest strategic threat at the time. He got Egypt
to sit down with Menachem Begin and agree to recognize the existence of the
state of Israel. The first Arab state to do so, and certainly at the time
the most important they could have done it.
Compare this to what the most recent Republican president achieved in
the Middle East. He took us to war in Iraq, dug us into the sand of that
country, a burial job that will take us years to liberate ourselves from.
He took a buffer to Iran, killed it as a buffer, making it a Shiite ally or
even client to be of Iran`s in years to come.
Great work, Mr. President. Anyway, thanks to the president, many on
the right fell loyally and stupidly into war, we have a more dangerous
situation in the Middle East.
Thanks to President Carter, the man they jeer, Israel still has the
treaty partner with Egypt, a real country with a real history and real
recognition of Israel which it honors all these years since 1978.
We will see how President Obama does in the history books. We know
how W. has done.
We should remind ourselves occasionally what Jimmy Carter did.
Something no other president has done before or since, made peace between
Israel and its chief regional rival and not only that, but getting that
rival to recognize its right to exist.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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