updated 4/18/2014 11:32:39 AM ET 2014-04-18T15:32:39

April 17, 2014

Guests: Jon Ralston, Anna Squires Levine

JOY REID, GUEST HOST: Running on "Obama care," not against it.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Joy Reid, in for Chris Matthews.

And leading off tonight: It`s been the battle hymn of the Republican
Party, a guaranteed applause line no matter who you are. It`s been your
solemn duty as a Republican, whether you`re Mitch McConnell, John Boehner,
Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz, to tell other Republicans that your very reason for
getting up in the morning is to repeal "Obama care."


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: ... a law in trouble, a
law that needs to be repealed. That`s the goal of every member of the
Republican conference here in the Senate. We`re united.

this law and replace it with common sense patient-centered health care

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must repeal "Obama care" and replace it with a
consumer-directed market-oriented policy.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I am convinced we are going to repeal every
single word of "Obama care"!



REID: So it`s hardly a surprise, then, that the party`s base has been
whipped into a frenzy on the issue to the point that if you merely say you
want to replace the Affordable Care Act, you`re committing an act of
conservative treason.

But the "Obama care" punching bag is now punching back with a
vengeance. A new survey from Gallup has some astounding figures. At least
10 million people have signed up for coverage because of the law. That`s
including the 8 million sign-ups through the exchanges a better than
expected number which President Obama just announced today.

States that have embraced the law are seeing their uninsured rates
decline three times faster than Republican states that tried to cripple the
law. And perhaps the most telling, the Republican fear of the law is
quickly draining away. In February, 72 percent of Republicans said the
health care law would make them worse off. Now it`s 51 percent. That`s a
21-point drop in two months.

That should be a clear wake-up call for Democrats. Republican
opposition to the health care law has spiraled into a "repeal Obama care"
purity contest, which the party will be hard pressed to change. But now
talking about taking away health care from 8 million, maybe 10 million or
more people. If you`re a Democrat, maybe it`s time to defend and even run
on "Obama care."

Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer with "The Washington Post" and
a former member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at "The Daily News," and
Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large with Salon, and both are MSNBC political

And so ladies first, Joan. Should Democrats lose their fear of "Obama
care" and actually proactively run on it?

Joy. And I am so thrilled to see the president out there punching,
punching back, telling them to stop this charade of repealing the law.

Now, you know, the Democratic consultant in me -- I`m not one, but I
want them to keep running on repealing the law because the law is going to
become increasingly popular. That number you just showed about the decline
even among Republicans of people saying it`s going to hurt them -- you
know, I wonder what Jonathan`s going to say about this comparison, but it
kind of reminds me of gay marriage, where what happens is people know more
and more people who`ve been helped by this law, just like they know more
and more gay people. They have them in their family.

REID: Right.

WALSH: And the opposition fades away. It is felony stupid for
Democrats to run away from this law.

REID: Well, Jonathan, I`ll let you take that up. I mean, is there an
analogy to be had here, where the way to get gay marriage done is to
actually have people experience gay married couples?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST": Right. And the sky didn`t fall
in Massachusetts, which was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage,
the way the opponents predicted it would. And look at where we are right
now with I think it -- I think the number now is 17 states where marriage
equality is legal.

The more people -- the more people live with the Affordable Care Act,
the more they get comfortable with and get used to, and more importantly,
realize some of the key provisions of the law which have been in place for
a long time, such as keeping your kid on your insurance until they`re 26,
or no lifetime caps on coverage, or better yet, not being denied health
insurance because you have a pre-existing condition -- those are all parts
of the law.

And the more people who are impacted by this law and realize that big,
bad "Obama care" is the Affordable Care Act and it`s benefiting them, the
better I think it`s going to be for the American people and also for -- for
Democrats who are running in 2014, some of them running scared or afraid to
even talk about this law. And by the president coming out today -- and I
think it was Joan or you, Joy, saying that the president`s punching back --
he gave them a lot of lines to use in their arguments for the arguments
when -- not if, but when their Republican challengers hammer them with this

REID: Well, let`s take a listen, actually, to President Obama because
he did jump into the fight when he was announcing these 8 million people
who`ve signed up for the Affordable Care Act, which actually beat the
targets, that the administration have, and also, of course, the 35 percent
of enrollees being under the age of 35, which is really key and just shy of
the target that the White House set. Let`s take a listen to the president
actually going on offense, as you guys have discussed.


Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it
has always been. They still can`t bring themselves to admit the Affordable
Care Act is working. They said nobody would sign up. They were wrong
about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country. They were
wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is
working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with
pre-existing conditions who`d be denied coverage again.


REID: So Joan, why is there still some reticence among some Democrats
to do that, what we just saw the president doing?

WALSH: Because you can never go broke thinking about the cowardice of
Democrats. I hate to say that, I`m a Democrat, but it really is true, Joy,
and you know it. I mean, maybe we`re seeing a turnaround.

The president also really went on the offensive about the Republicans
who have refused to expand Medicaid...

REID: Right.

WALSH: ... calling that a strictly ideological move that is putting
people at risk, possibly costing people lives. We need to see more of

I mean, these numbers are wonderful, but they make you mad in a way
because that youth number is astonishing...

REID: Yes.

WALSH: ... because Republicans, remember, they went around with that
grotesque Uncle Sam...

REID: The creepy Uncle Sam.

WALSH: ... the creepy Uncle Sam and the parties they were holding on

REID: Yes.

WALSH: ... telling students, Don`t sign up for "Obama care"?

REID: Yes.

WALSH: I mean, imagine if the whole party wasn`t working to obstruct
this law and tell people not to sign up. Can you imagine what the sign-ups
would have been then?

REID: Well, I mean, and I mean, The piece on the Medicaid expansion
seems like a golden opportunity sort of telling people, Look, your
neighbors are getting this.

WALSH: Right.

REID: Others are getting this. But if you`re in a state where a
Republican runs it, you`re not getting it. Why aren`t we hearing more of
that message, do you think, Jonathan?

CAPEHART: Well, I think that what`s going to happen here from here on
out, especially with the president going on offense, is that now Democrats
-- before, they were running scared because they didn`t have any numbers.
There was -- everything that everyone about the Affordable Care Act all
boiled down to the hell that broke loose on October 1st when Healthcare.gov
didn`t work properly and didn`t work properly for weeks.

Now that the numbers are coming in much better than expected, now that
the CBO has come back and said that this is actually going to cost more
than $100 billion cheaper -- $100 billion less over the next 10 years than
had been predicted, Democrats now have numbers, they have evidence to go
back to -- go back to their constituents and say, Look, this is working,
and also to push back against the inevitable Republican attacks on them for
supporting the law.
Nothing beats -- nothing beats the pushback from the Republicans like the

REID: Yes. Well, maybe nothing beats the Republicans on the law like
a former basically. I guess if you want to learn to fight like a
Republican, it takes a former Republican to teach you.

I want to play you a little bit of Charlie Crist, newly minted
Democrat, former independent, former Republican. And this is the way that
Charlie Crist is running for governor again against Republican Rick Scott,
who is dead set against "Obama care."

Let`s listen to Charlie Crist`s ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Truth is, Rick Scott wants to take us back to the
days of insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions,
where women are charged more than men and lifetime caps limit care even for
kids with cancer. That`s the choice, the governor you can trust to work
with both sides to fix the problem, or the one you can`t trust at all.


REID: So Joan, there was something subtle being done there --
(INAUDIBLE) not so subtle, essentially breaking the law up into the pieces
that people like...

WALSH: Right.

REID: ... and saying, Hey, that guy`s going to take this stuff you
like away from you, and really not even saying the Affordable Care Act.

WALSH: Well, I think that they need to do -- partly, that`s what they
need to do. I mean, I think that the appeal to women that what they want
to do is go back to the days where being a woman was a pre-existing
condition, go back to the days where women paid more, sometimes much more,
than men. You`ve got a gender gap. Go out there and run on that,
Republicans. That sounds really good to a lot of American women.

I mean, these are the things that we`re now -- not now learning about
the law, but that it seems like Democrats are now learning about the law,
and they need to go out and they need to hammer them with it.

REID: And Jonathan -- and I`m not so sure if it make sense to run
away from even talking about the Affordable Care Act itself, but that is
the way that Charlie Crist is doing it and he is leading in the polls
against Rick Scott.

But does it -- what does it tell you that some Republicans even seem
to be backing down just a little bit from this idea of full repeal? Let`s
look at Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell has essentially said his whole
reason for getting up in the morning is to fully repeal, root and branch,
root out the Affordable Care Act, is what he said.

But when he actually confronted health care workers in Kentucky
earlier this week, this was the tone that he struck, for him. It was
reported by "The Madison Courier" this way. He said -- quote, "Obama won`t
repeal the law, but McConnell said Republican legislators plan to try to
push back against the legislation. `We`re going to figure out a way to get
this fixed,` McConnell said."

And the Chamber of Commerce is actually out with a new ad praising
Mitch McConnell to wanting -- for wanting to fix the law. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitch McConnell is leading the fight to fix this
"Obama care" mess, to lower costs and reduce red tape. Mitch McConnell is
fighting for us and for Kentucky`s future. Right now, that`s what we need.


REID: So Jonathan, now Mitch McConnell is being tagged -- I guess
he`s an "Obama care" appeaser now. He`s an "Obama care" sympathizer. His
Tea Party challenger -- does this make any sense to you?

CAPEHART: Wow. Is this HARDBALL, or have I fallen through the
looking glass? I mean, what we -- Hat we have here with that ad is sort of
the stark divide between the establishment wing of the Republican Party and
the Tea Party wing of Republican Party that still wants to repeal "Obama
care," doesn`t even want to talk about replacing it with anything.

And McConnell is striking an incredibly moderate tone to actually
saying he wants to fix it, wants to do all these things that the law is
actually already doing. To me, that sounds like Mitch McConnell is trying
to put forth a general election message because that will work for him in
the general election. How it`s going to help him with his, you know,
challengers from the far right, I don`t know, and other Republicans who
have challenges from the far right.

REID: So I mean, McConnell must be fairly confident in his primary to
be putting out...

WALSH: Right.

REID: ... statements like that, making it clear. But I think --
doesn`t that illustrate the fundamental problem for Republicans, Joan? You
cannot repeal this law. A, you can`t do it.

WALSH: Right.

REID: And B, you would be fundamentally taking away something from
people, tens of millions of people who will have it, and even Republicans
won`t like that.

WALSH: Mitch McConnell is really stuck because Kentucky, his own
state, has brought down its number of uninsured...


WALSH: ... by 40 percent -- 4-0 -- because there is a Democratic
governor in a red state who did his own exchange, who accepted Medicaid
expansion. And some of Mitch McConnell`s own voter base, aging white
people -- you know they are on Kynect, OK -- it`s not called "Obama

REID: Right. Of course.

WALSH: ... there, of course. They may not know what it is, but
increasingly, if he goes out and says, I`m going to repeal -- he can`t do

REID: Yes.

WALSH: But he`s lying when he says he wants to fix it because he

REID: Because he understands there are people who are getting, like,
dental care (INAUDIBLE)

WALSH: Right.

REID: ... for the very first time in their lives some people are --
in their adult lives. And then to say to them, I`m going to take that away
from you...


REID: ... for freedom because it`s associated with -- it doesn`t even

It`s not just Mitch McConnell. I want to also go to North Carolina.
And you have the same sort of issue happening. Karl Rove`s American
Crossroads actually ran an ad, they were supporting the establishment
candidate, and his name was Thom Tillis. Let`s look at the original ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thom Tillis, true to our values, as speaker,
eliminated a $2.5 billion deficit and cut taxes, the conservative guts to
replace "Obama care" with honest health care reforms.


REID: So of course, his Tea Party opponent, Greg Brannon, goes on the
attack, and Brannon`s campaign manager says, quote, "You`ll notice the ad
makes no mention of repealing `Obama care,` which would take real guts."

So of course, that forced American Crossroads to redo the ad. Here is
the new version of the ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thom Tillis, a fiscal conservative with the guts
to repeal and replace "Obama care."


REID: Jonathan, can the Republican Party get out of this Gordian knot
that they put themselves in on the Affordable Care Act?

CAPEHART: Well, no, they can`t. Really, they can`t. Here`s the
thing. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act, repeal of "Obama care," is sort
of the oxygen to the fire that burns within the Tea Party base of the
Republican Party. Those are the people who go out and vote in primaries,
and those are the people who -- who all Republicans live in fear of if they
face a Republican Party -- Tea Party challenger.

So you know, it makes sense that they went back and redid the ad to
make it clear he wants to repeal and replace "Obama care," but notice they
don`t talk about what the replace part is when they -- when they -- they
deign to talk about replacing "Obama care."

REID: Right, because, Jonathan, you know what their replacement is?
It`s "Obama care"! That is what the replacement is.


REID: It`s the same thing. Jonathan Capehart, John Walsh, thanks to
both of you.


CAPEHART: Thanks, Joy.

REID: All right, coming up: fear and loathing on the campaign trail.
Why the Republican establishment will do whatever it takes to stop Rand
Paul from winning the party`s nomination.

Plus, the right is falling all over itself, portraying the rancher
standoff in Nevada as the next Waco or Ruby Ridge. But this welfare cowboy
is really less Waco and more George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse

Also, look who`s behind those famous aviator sunglasses. Vice
President Joe Biden joins Instagram and is already sending out well-
rehearsed candid shots.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a Republican Party that finds itself
looking for love in all the wrong places.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Some wonderful news to report tonight for the Clinton family.
Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Mac Mezvinsky, are expecting their first
child. They announced today the baby is due later this year.
Congratulations to the parents to be.

We`ll be right back.


REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Republican establishment is
declaring war on one of its party`s rising stars and likely 2016
candidates, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. They`re unhappy with Paul`s
isolationism and anti-surveillance views on foreign policy and his recent
criticism of former vice president Dick Cheney.

Establishment types fear Paul is unelectable and are making their
concerns clear with a full frontal attack this week. Conservative Rich
Lowry wrote in "The National Review," quote, "Paul`s belief that the Iraq
war may have been about padding a corporate bottom law echoes charges of
war profiteering that have been a staple of the left. He will soon be
running for an office where your view of the world matters profoundly, and
his instincts sometimes seem more appropriate to a dorm room bull session
than a situation room."

"The Wall Street Journal`s" Bret Stephens satirically wrote of Paul,
saying, quote, "Let`s not mince words. The man wants to be the Republican
nominee for president, and so he should be, because maybe what the GOP
needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject
like immigration is ideologically disqualifying but bark at the moon lunacy
about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its
choice of nominee."

And Republican congressman Peter King of New York had even tougher
words for Paul, telling our own Joe Scarborough that Paul`s views would be
disastrous for the GOP.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think his views would be disastrous,
Joe. I think he appeals to the lowest common denominator. This is an
isolationist wing from the 1930s. Rand Paul brings it to this hysterical
level, like when he talks about the CIA trying to kill Americans having
coffee in Starbucks, when he talks about President Obama listening to his
cell phone conversations. That to me is just feeding its paranoia. We do
need an intelligent debate, and I don`t think Rand Paul`s capable of having
that debate.


REID: Michael Steele is former chairman of the Republican National
Committee and an MSNBC political analyst. Mark Halperin is co-author of
the book "Double Down" and MSNBC senior political analyst.

OK, Michael, my friend, I have to start with you.


REID: You`re already laughing. I have to start with you.

That was just classic King. Go ahead.

REID: It was just classic King.


REID: So, Rand Paul, Michael, Rand Paul is trying to appeal to
younger voters on issues like surveillance, which he`s on the same side of
a lot of voters under 30. He`s trying to reach out to minorities, his
friend the Southern Avengers notwithstanding, but he is trying to do this
conversation about black and brown voters.

He is energizing the Tea Party libertarian wing of the party. Do you
think that that is disastrous? Is he a disaster for your party?

STEELE: He`s a disaster for people who like status quo. He`s a
disaster for people who don`t know how to actually have an effective
conversation with the American people about not just the things you talked
about, but the issues that concern women and the issues that concern

I give Rand Paul total props for making the effort, for at least
trying to reshape the landscape for a national debate about these issues.
And, yes, he is a libertarian. He has a very strong libertarian ring.

But we seem to have forgotten that`s part of our roots as a Republican
Party. We have always talked about the individual rights to make choices
based on the freedoms that are inherent in the Constitution.

So, all of a sudden now, this is an anathema? His foreign policy is
out of whack? He`s not his father. So, you can`t paint him that broadly
with that brush. I think once we get into a presidential debate, you will
see Rand Paul begin to shape, as all of these candidates must do and will
do, their positions and their views around what`s going on currently in the
economy and foreign affairs.

So, there are a lot of folks who are scared right now in the party,
the establishment types especially, because this is a guy who`s having a
conversation with the American people they apparently can`t seem to have.

REID: Right.

STEELE: And, number two, he`s organizing around that conversation in
all 50 states. And that more than anything else is scaring the you know
what out of them.


REID: Well, I mean, Mark, when you talk a Republicans, what is
scaring them more? Is it the idea of a Rand Paul candidacy because he is
really coming from that libertarian wing of the party and sort of giving in
to the libertarians, sort of giving them the party? Or would they more
fear that that same base may be so turned off by yet another establishment
candidate rolled out by "The Wall Street Journal" wing that people may not
even take an interest and vote?

things that are scaring the establishment, with all due respect to Chairman
Steele`s well-honed anti-establishment sentiment.

One is that he might win the nomination, that the field is so weak...

REID: Right.

HALPERIN: ... that there are so many candidates who might not run
from the establishment, that he might lose -- he might win the nomination.

And they fear he will lose 40 states. Now, I have great respect for
people who put themselves out the way this guy has. He`s been -- you could
make a list of 10 things where he`s in the top one or two tier of
Republican potential candidates in terms of skills, reaching out to new
people, being anti-establishment, good candidate skills, trying to go to
new places, tons of strengths.

But the party establishment thinks he will lose 40 states, and there
are a lot of Democrats who think he would lose 40 states.


HALPERIN: He`s not ready.


HALPERIN: He`s -- like many of the people thinking of running, He`s
not close to ready for prime time against a big-time Democratic candidate.


REID: OK. No, go ahead, Michael.

STEELE: Well, who is? I mean, who is that is going to make it
through this Republican primary? Who is that`s going to be able to bring
together those two ends of the conservative -- the hard-core conservative
wing that everyone wants to go vote, but no one wants to give them the
issues that they really want to talk about, and this establishment?

Who`s going to tie that knot, that bow for the party? That`s the


REID: Mark, this is the fundamental problem for the Republican Party,
right? They love the energy of that Tea Party wing.


REID: They love the libertarians when they`re giving them energy, if
that energy is directed toward voting for the establishment candidate they

STEELE: Right.

REID: But, right, they have lost control of the plot completely. And
now the base wants a Rand Paul type.

But look at the polling. The party is split. FOX News has a recent
poll out showing that Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are just sort of lumped
together with Rand Paul right there, tied for second place. It`s a party
that seems to be disconnected with itself.

HALPERIN: I don`t think -- it`s impossible to be imagine someone with
a lot of Rand Paul`s attitudes and constituency theories become -- being a
strong nominee for the party.

What it`s harder to imagine is someone with Rand Paul`s controversial
statement -- most of the criticism from those Republicans comes from a
series of controversial statements and associations that he is not good at
handling, like his father.

REID: Yes.

HALPERIN: Michael is right. He`s not his father. He handles
criticism and pressure and scrutiny horribly.

And I don`t think you can get elected president with a combination of
controversies in your background and an inability to handle them.

REID: Right.

HALPERIN: Someone who could handle them better, he could do it. But
he just hasn`t shown the ability to do that.

STEELE: All right.

REID: And one of the areas where he`s really actually ran into
trouble is on the issue of Israel. Right?


REID: And it`s one of the strongest criticisms that people have had
about him.

And the GOP strategist John Feehery, who we actually had on last
night, said this about him. He said: "He has significant liabilities. His
father casts a big shadow over his future ambitions. The pro-Israel wing
of the party fundamentally distrusts him."

"TIME" magazine`s Zeke Miller added that: "Rand Paul has told top GOP
donor that he`s evolving on foreign policy, particularly when it comes to
his positions on Israel. Several prominent GOP donors at the conference,
which is the Republican Jewish coalition meeting in Las Vegas that was
hosted by Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire, suggested that Adelson, who
spent more than $100 million backing Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012,
is likely to spend vast sums against Rand Paul if he appears to be well-
positioned in the Republican primaries. Adelson`s -- Adelson`s spending is
largely motivated by his strong concern for Israel and Paul`s position may
well put a target."


HALPERIN: That could evolve from Passover to Easter to Christmas to
every holiday in the world. He could spend his whole life evolving.

He will never evolve enough for the pro-Israel wing of the party. And
that is not an insignificant thing, not only against people in the
nomination fight, but in the general election. That is an important part
of the current view of American foreign policy. He can evolve all he
wants. I just don`t think he can get over that hurdle with a lot of


REID: Yes, the pro-Israel wing part of the party, the pro-war wing of
the party, the neocons are not accepting of him.

And even his minority outreach, there are so many flaws in there and
weird associations that it`s hard to imagine him doing it. But he is the
most interesting candidate out there.

Michael Steele...


STEELE: But he`s the only one doing it right now, so...

REID: He`s the most interesting.

Michael Steele, Mark Halperin, thanks to both of you.

All right, and up next, Instagram`s newest user, Vice President Joe

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

Vice President Joe Biden is making quite the impression on Instagram
this week. He joined the picture-sharing Web site and already his photos
are going viral. He sent this one out this morning, a selfie of him and
the president.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie welcomed Biden to Instagram with a
throwback Thursday photo of his own. Recognize these guys?

But it was this photo of his famous sunglasses that reflected the
quintessential. His caption read: Follow @vp for the latest from the vice
president and the occasional aviators pic."

In response, "The Washington Post"`s Chris Cillizza -- Chris Cillizza
wrote up an article detailing the history of, you guessed it, Biden`s
aviators, like this 2009 photo of Biden lounging at the Special Olympics
wearing his sunglasses and there was this 2010 shot at a rally in
Philadelphia where the president began referencing Biden`s shades in his

Maybe Joe should consider giving the aviators their own Instagram

Next up, Jimmy Kimmel appeared on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford`s show, "Ford
Nation," this week. Ford hosts the talk show with his brother, City
Councillor Doug Ford, who asked Kimmel about the decision to serve his
audience alcohol during his premiere.


DOUG FORD, BROTHER OF ROB FORD: What were you thinking that night,
Jimmy, when you fed your whole audience a bunch of booze and they were
hammered? What were you thinking? What was on your mind that night?

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": That wasn`t one night.
That`s most nights on our show.


KIMMEL: But that happened to be our first show. And I don`t know
what I was thinking, to be honest with you.

D. FORD: Now, you know you`re starting to sound like a politician
when you said, I don`t know what happened that night.

KIMMEL: No, I`m just saying, I was so drunk, I don`t know what
happened that night.

ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: I used that excuse one too many
times myself.



REID: Maybe one too many times, Mayor Ford.

Finally, have you seen those Republican ads with the leather jacket
hipster aimed at attracting young voters? Here`s a quick look.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We haven`t even talked about my heating bill at
home. So when it comes to energy policy for this country, I`m for
everything, solar, wind, shale gas, oil, whatever.


REID: Well, HBO`s "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" doesn`t debut
until April 27, but that isn`t stopping the team there from already poking
fun at those ads.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to energy policy for this country,
I`m for everything, solar, wind, shale gas, oil, panda blood, the elderly,
bones of first-generation immigrants rubbed together. Whatevs.

I`m a Republican because I`m under the impression that lower costs for
energy companies will result in savings being passed on to the consumer,
which is cray-cray.


REID: Wow.

Up next: the right wing`s love affair with anti-government rancher
Cliven Bundy.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

President Obama says he`s hopeful, but concerned whether Russia will
honor a deal reached in Geneva on Ukraine. The deal in part calls for
legally armed groups to is disarm.

The captain of the sunken ferry in South Korea is under investigation.
A crew member says there were no immediate orders to evacuate when the ship
began to list. There are also questions whether the captain was among the
first to escape the sinking ship. Twenty-five people are confirmed dead
and 271 are missing.

Now we will take you back to HARDBALL.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": If they do come in the middle of the
night, will you willingly go with them?

CLIVEN BUNDY, RANCHER: That`s a pretty good question. You know, if
the county sheriff comes to arrest me, yes, I would go with him. These
feds, I don`t recognize their jurisdiction or authority, so, no, I wouldn`t
go with them.


REID: The standoff between Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management ended this past weekend, after federal
authorities stood down to avoid violence.

But the dispute at the heart of the conflict is still unresolved. As
you saw, Bundy is defiant as ever, emboldened by voices on the right
stoking the flames of this conflict in the name of states` rights.

Earlier this, the two-time Republican presidential candidate and
former Texas Congressman Ron Paul saluted Bundy, but also cautioned that
there`s more to come.


RON PAUL (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: When the people do get
together and stand up, I think governments will be forced to back down, but
the other thing is, is governments don`t give up their power easily and
they may well come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with
the Davidians.


REID: Ron Paul`s warning that the Nevada standoff could turn into the
next Waco has been echoed throughout the week on FOX.

And our colleagues at "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" compiled some of that


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People being killed like at Waco, Texas. And we
don`t want any of that to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of memories coming back, Waco and Ruby
Ridge, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, the government was wrong in Waco. The
government was wrong at Ruby Ridge, except the people in those situations
were also pretty goofy.


REID: Nevada journalist Jon Ralston reports today that there may be
another way to enforce the law without risking armed retaliation.

Mike Ford, a former Bureau of Land Management official, told him this
-- quote -- "A judge must issue a warrant for Bundy`s arrest for failure to
comply with two court orders. A federal marshal and the sheriff -- not
BLM -- should arrest and lock up Bundy, where he should remain there until
his family -- and not the BLM -- remove all of the cows from public land.
That is and of itself will be tricky but it is the only option."

And joining us now is Jon Ralston, the host of "Ralston Reports," as
an MSNBC analyst, Jim Cavanaugh, a former ATV special agent in charge who
worked as the negotiator during the Waco standoff in 1993.

So, I actually want to start with you, Jon, on the reporting that you
have done as to the way in which this could theoretically be resoled
peacefully by I guess the local officials, rather than the BLM. How likely
is that, in your view, to happen?

JON RALSTON, "RALSTON REPORTS": Well, Joy, I think your use of the
word theoretically is unfortunately too apt.

This is very, very tricky, as Mike Ford said. Mike Ford, who, as I
point out, is a BLM veteran and other BLM veterans I think worry about how
this was handled up front by the BLM. And now you have all these militia
types, the Oath Keepers, and some of them are still hanging around up

Even if you were to get the local sheriff and the federal marshal to
go in there quietly and try to do something, it`s clear from that quote
that you played from Cliven Bundy that he has been emboldened -- that`s the
word you used -- it`s the right -- it`s the right word -- by all these
people who are portraying this as something it`s not, Joy.

But he thinks it is. He`s standing up for states` rights, even those
he`s -- he`s grazing on federal lands. He`s lost in court. The law is
clear. They don`t care about that anymore.

And I should -- just one more thing, Joy. I just came from an event
where Senate Majority Harry Reid referred to those folks up there as
domestic terrorists. That`s going to tamp it all down.

REID: Yes. No, exactly. The thing that is of scary -- really scary
is actually, Jim, is these illusions to Waco and Rudy Ridge -- incidents,
violent crashes that, you know, I don`t know, is this a violent fantasy on
the right for this to happen? Or do they consider it a warning?

Is there an analogy between what`s happening in Nevada right now and
either Waco or Ruby Ridge, Jim Cavanaugh?

CAVANAUGH: Well, Joy, the only analogy is that radical right,
sovereign citizens, militiamen, who are rallying to the cause of this
rancher, they always want a violent conflict with the government because
they feel it is the shot that`s going to be heard around the world. That
their life is going to be the martyr, of the next revolution. They see
themselves as, you know, reincarnated Paul Revere.

We`ve heard this for 40 years. We understand the talk. It all goes
in a circle to mean that the United States government does not have any

But -- and, Jon, you know, Jon`s reporting is so good on this. He
points out what the former BLM manager said. But I don`t think that`s
going to necessarily work. The rancher doesn`t seem like he`s very apt to
obey anyone at this point. And the tale that these sovereign citizens and
the militia men put out about the sheriff has the power is really a phony

You know, one of the fathers of the movement, Posse Comitatus
movement, was Gordon Kahl. And he said that all the time. The sheriff,
the power, the county, the Posse Comitatus, and he killed the sheriff Gene
Matthews in Arkansas.

REID: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: He killed the sheriff.

So, you know, it`s not real. It`s not real.

REID: And, you know, to that point, this idea that Cliven Bundy had
said he would surrender to local authorities, to the sheriffs, but I want
you guys to listen to the way that he talked to that same sheriff about how
to apply the law and essentially the orders he gave him. Take a listen to
Cliven Bundy with Sheriff Doug Gillespie. This was Saturday.


CLIVEN BUNDY, RANCHER: This is what we the people are asking this
morning -- disarm the park service at Lake Mead and Red Rock all other
parks that the federal government claims they have jurisdiction over.

CROWD: Do your job, sheriff! That`s what you were elected for.

BUNDY: You disarm those park service people. We want those arms
delivered right here under these flags in one hour.


REID: Jim, is the guy who`s ordering the sheriff to bring him the
guns of the federal authorities, is that a guy that`s going to surrender to
the sheriff? Can we trust anything he`s saying about cooperating?

CAVANAUGH: Right, Joy.

You know, I was a uniformed deputy sheriff before I spent a career in
the U.S. government with the ATF. And I talked a lot to sheriffs. I have
friends that are sheriffs all over the country. And anybody who strikes a
deal -- now, the sheriff in Nevada was just trying to keep the peace. So,
I think he`s doing the right thing there. He was working the right way.

But any other sheriff who tries to strike a deal with these guys, it`s
a Faustian bargain, a deal with the devil, because once they get strong
around you, they`ll be justice like this rancher, they`ll be telling you
what to do. Go disarm the federal agents, which, of course, would be
obstructing the law, obstructing justice, violations of federal law, all
federal felonies. But they`re ordering you to commit them.

So, you`ve got to be careful when you tread with these guys. They`re
very corky and cracky and they`re trying to order you. They`re your
friend. Once they get control of you, they`ll be ordering you around.

REID: Yes. And, Jon, do you have any reporting there are
investigations into possible charge against all of these armed militias who
came down and pointed guns at federal authorities. I can`t imagine any
American being able to get away with that, let alone the part about grazing
your cattle illegally on federal land?

RALSTON: Yes. And Jim is absolutely right, Joy. There`s no evidence
that Cliven Bundy or any of his relatives are violent people. But they`
been captured now by this movement, emboldened by it.

And Senator Reid just said at this event I was at that he`s talked to
Sheriff Gillespie, who is a very solid guy and tried to resolve this
peacefully, was kind of caught in the middle. He`s talked to the attorney
general now, Eric Holder, and he`s talked to the FBI about finding some way
to resolve all of this. Some of those guys are still up there.

So, if you go up there and try to arrest Bundy, what might happen?
Reid when he was pressed about what might happen, he doesn`t want to talk
about it. But certainly, all these law enforcement agencies are talking
about it.

But as Mike Ford said, it`s tricky. That`s the word he used and it`s
very, very dangerous.

REID: Yes, scary stuff. Thanks so much, Jim Cavanaugh and Jon
Ralston. Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Joy.

REID: And up next, a once unthinkable goal now within reach.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


REID: Biden is running in 2016! Beau Biden, that is. The son of the
vice president announced today he`ll run for governor in his home state of
Delaware. Beau served as the state`s attorney general for the past eight
years and his term ends this year. He says he won`t run for re-election as
A.G. so he can focus on running for governor in 2016.

We`ll be right back.


REID: We are back with an important global story.

Over the next month, HARDBALL will be teaming up with a group called
Born Free, which is working on an ambitious goal -- stopping the
transmission of HIV from mothers to their children. In other words, to
make it so that no child is born with HIV.

Now, it sounds incredible but experts say it`s very doable. The world
has come a long way in fighting the epidemic of AIDS. For many, it`s gone
from a near certain death sentence to a disease that can be managed.
Thanks in part to new medications and treatment options.

And that has meant that the tragedy of pregnant women passing the
disease on to their children has also been dramatically reduced. Since
2003 in fact there`s been a 54 percent drop worldwide.

In the United States and other high-income countries, mother to child
infection has actually been virtually eliminated. But 22 countries now
account for more than 80 percent of all new HIV infections among children,
21 of those countries are in Africa, where Born Free is focus.

The sad reality is far too many children are still infected with HIV.
In 2012, about 700 children each and every day were infected. By December
31st of next year, the goal is to get that number down to zero.

Anna Squires Levine is the president of the group Born Free.

So, Anna, the goal that you`re setting sounds really ambitious but you
actually say it`s quite workable. What would it take to actually reduce
that number of 700 infections a day to zero?

ANNA SQUIRES LEVINE, BORN FREE AFRICA: Well, Joy, there are about 36
million people living with HIV in the world today, and at takes an
unbelievable toll socially, economically, on families and countries, and if
we want to see the end of that epidemic, it starts by making sure that moms
don`t pass on the virus to their kids.

And as you said, luckily, we know the answer. It`s one pill once a
day. And we`re seeing tremendous momentum. We`re really getting there.

So, what does it take going forward? It`s really a question of
execution. How do you make sure that every mom, every family, every
community has access to the drugs they need and has the education to do it.
That`s a tough challenge for the world but we`re getting there.

REID: It`s a tough challenge. You guys want to take it. So, how do
you plan to do it? How do you actually want to fund and carry out this
goal of getting that one pill to each of those children?

LEVINE: You know, there is an incredible group of global stakeholders
that has come together around this. We bring a private sector voice and
business acumen. The United Nations is working on this, the U.S.
government, non-profits around the world, and, of course, the Sub-Saharan
African governments to whom this matters the most.

And over the past couple of years, they have rallied. There is
funding available from many sources. We know the science. And it`s boots
on the ground. It`s village by village, house by house, clinic by clinic,
making sure that the system works.

REID: So, to be clear, you guys are the convener, right, of these
groups. You guys are a business-oriented group.

Describe what Born Free is.

LEVINE: Good question. Born Free is a group of private sector
executives who have come together to bring their resources and business
acumen to this larger effort. So, there are many groups out there making
policies. There are many clinicians. There are man people giving money.

We try to be a catalyst. We try to invest in places like in human
talent and capital within ministers of health where you spark change and
enable everyone else to do what they were already doing bigger and better.

REID: And are you getting cooperation? Because I know in some parts
of Sub-Saharan Africa, there is sometimes, you know, resistance on issues
of HIV and AIDS because of culture differences, et cetera. How do you
bridge that?

LEVINE: You know, it`s a process. Some places are more accepting
than others. But like anything, change is hard, and especially something
that`s so personal, it`s difficult. You know, it`s difficult when a family
member has a condition you don`t totally understand or there are cultural
stigmas associated with it.

And it`s a cultural change over time. What we see, or what we have
seen is that 15 years ago, it was very difficult for a woman or a man to
come home and tell his or her spouse that they had HIV. And it`s still
hard in some places, but it`s getting a lot better.

REID: And we talk about so many of those countries being in Africa.
What are other parts of the world where we`ve seen this epidemic really not
declining to the rates that it is in Western Europe and the U.S.?

LEVINE: Well, the country outside of Africa where the community is
focusing the most is in India. And there, HIV is a challenge because the
country is just so large. It`s almost like finding a needle in a haystack.
So even though the prevalence of HIV is not so high, the population is so
large you that do have many people with HIV.

REID: It is a global scandal that the African continent continues to
be really the epicenter of this AIDS epidemic when you are seeing so much
progress throughout the rest of the world.

LEVINE: That`s true. But we`re seeing tremendous progress in Africa,
too. It`s true that the vast majority of people living with HIV who don`t
yet have access to the drugs they need live in Africa. But as you said,
there`s been a 50 percent decline in kids born with HIV since 2003.

So, we`re getting there. And we will get to zero by 2015.

REID: All right. Excellent.

Anna Squires Levine from Born Free -- thank you so much for being

LEVINE: Thank you, Joy.

REID: All right. And for more information on the campaign, you can
go to Born Free`s Web site at BornFreeAfrica.org, or link to it through our
site at MSNBC.com/hardball.

We`ll be back after this.


REID: Let me finish tonight with a divide that captures the essence
of the Republican Party`s brand dilemma. Namely, the agonies the party is
having over Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.

Rand Paul, who if he`s not the front-runner in the long march toward
the Republican nomination in 2016, is definitely the guy working hardest to
check off constituency boxes inside and outside the party. He`s battered
the Clintons on the former president`s personal life as a kind of
demonstration project about how hard he`d fight as the nominee. He`s
hammering away at the right`s favorite pet issues -- Benghazi, Fast and
Furious, and the IRS. And he`s publicly courted young voters by hammering
on drones and drug incarceration while sticking it to old neocons like Dick
Cheney. And he`s telling black audiences his party needs to be more
inclusive -- well, when he`s not making excuses for a pro-Confederate
oddball who calls himself the Southern Avenger.

But Paul is a non-starter for the part of the Republican Party that
actually pays for the elections, the establishment guys who picked George
W. Bush over John McCain, and then John McCain after the base cooled off on
him and he needed Sarah Palin, and then Mitt Romney, and you know how that
worked out.

"The Wall Street Journal," the paper of record for the establishment
wing, recently ran an op-ed by Bret Stephens, deriding Paul as someone so
nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that
only the GOP could think of nominating him.

So, what about Jeb Bush? Stephens sarcastically says the party surely
wouldn`t want him. He`s plainly unsuited to be president. He`s
insufficiently hostile to Mexicans. He holds heretical views on Common
Core, which as we know is the defining issue of our time. And he`s a Bush.
Because dynasties only work if your name is Clinton, Kennedy, or Paul.

So what`s it going to be, GOP? An old school conservative with a
toxic surname or an untested libertarian who if he delivered his home state
would bring exactly eight electoral votes and the Tea Party clown car? The
return of the neocons or a complete surrender to the libertarian right?

Clearly, this is a party in need of more options.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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