June 11, 2014
Guest: John Brabender, Matt Kibbe
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Don`t you love politics?
Let`s play HARDBALL
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with last night`s tar and feathering of Eric Cantor.
Here`s a guy who was playing the game brilliantly, heading to the top,
cruising to success, riding the right-wing wave, a surfer in a three-piece
suit. He should have remembered what Jack Kennedy said about those who
ride the tiger, that they end up in his mouth. And that`s exactly where
Eric Cantor, the lame duck leader, now resides, in the belly of the beast,
the well-basted main course at the Tea Party.
What`s it all about? What`s this mean to politicians generally? Is it
good news for anyone, left, right or center, Cantor`s defeat, except those
like Nancy Pelosi, who don`t mind seeing their partisan rival take a loss?
Does anyone think this anger in the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, isn`t
going to show itself this November when this rolling thunderclap of anger
against big-shot Republicans will hit Democrats broadside?
Well, tonight, we look at what it means to progressives, to hard-right
conservatives, and of course, to the 2016 presidential election. How`s Jeb
taking the news from Virginia? How`s Chris Christie? How`s Rubio? Does
anyone think this vote against government debt and failed immigration
policy is good news for this crowd? Do they? Let`s find out what
happened, and more importantly, how the politicians feel about it, the
good, the bad and the ugly, and how they`re going to take it.
Chuck Todd`s an expert. He`s NBC`s political director and chief White
House correspondent, as well as the host of "THE DAILY RUNDOWN" here on
MSNBC, of course. And Howard Fineman is the chief political guy at the
HuffingtonPost, director of all politics and all coverage thereof at that
By the way, former U.S. congressman Vin Weber called this thing an
earthquake. Cantor`s stunning defeat seemed to catch the entire political
world by shock last night when he lost that primary, including, it seems,
Cantor himself. His own internal polling had him winning by 34 points in
Virginia last night in that primary. Instead, he lost to economics
professor David Brat by 11 points.
Well, according to "The Washington Post," as late as Tuesday morning,
Cantor had felt so confident of victory in that primary that he spent the
morning at Starbucks up on Capitol Hill holding a fund-raising meeting with
lobbyists. But the results came in quickly last night, and today at a
press conference, Cantor said he would step down -- he will step down as
majority leader at the end of this July. That`s next month. He also
included a note of compromise in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think that this town should be
about trying to strike common ground. I`ve always said it`s better if we
can agree to disagree but find in (ph) areas which we can produce results.
And I`ve said this before (INAUDIBLE) I`ve talked about my wife and I,
almost now married 25 years, and believe me, we don`t agree on everything.
And we have managed to raise our family, have a wonderful marriage. She
has stood by me throughout this public office stuff and been a strong
advocate for me, and not always believing in everything that I believe in,
but we`ve managed to raise our family and do well. I don`t think that`s
too unlike life. I don`t think it`s too unlike the legislative arena. And
I think more of that could probably be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Chuck Todd and Howard Fineman, being political
experts, isn`t it wonderful why the country now has to watch a guy convert
himself from U.S. congressman to lobbyist in a matter of five minutes?
This is what they hate about Washington, what they see here happening,
build a lot of relationships with lobbyists, when you leave office, when
the voters kick you out or whatever, move right into powerful positions.
Anyways let`s get to the noise level of this --
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: No one`s going
to be shocked if he ends up with a K Street (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, or some institute. Anyway, here`s my question. The
noise you hear today from the political world -- I hear a lot of noise.
TODD: A ton. Look, it`s nervousness. It`s the immigration panic, with
Republicans basically realizing they can`t deal with it now. It`s going to
be sitting there in 2016. And this demographic time bomb that, frankly,
went off in 2012, right -- it went off, and that`s among the reasons why
Romney had no shot at Obama. They`re now looking at --
MATTHEWS: But they do not like illegal immigration.
TODD: They can`t figure out how to --
MATTHEWS: They don`t like it, period. They don`t want to help the people
who are here --
TODD: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: -- and they don`t want more of them.
TODD: And it is clear to me that the Republican Party hasn`t figured out
how to deal with this populist base inside their party, the populist wing.
Yes, it`s immigration, but it`s also anti-Wall Street. You heard Dave Brat
TODD: It really is. I mean, he kept saying things -- you know, He`s the
Chamber`s candidate, he`d throw that stuff out. This all goes -- it`s the
-- it`s the --
MATTHEWS: This guy`s articulate, by the way.
TODD: -- same anger. He`s -- very -- very much so.
MATTHEWS: -- accused Cantor, the guy he beat last -- first leader of the
-- leadership of either party or either house that I`ve ever heard of
losing a primary.
Anyway, here`s what the guy who beat him said. He said he supported
amnesty. And you interviewed Brat today. By the way, here`s something
from that. You asked him whether he thought his election was about
immigration. He skirted it a little bit. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE BRAT (R-VA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Immigration is a part of that
aspect, but it`s -- I ran on the fiscal issues and the Republican creed,
which starts off with the main thing I`m interested in, and that`s a
commitment to free markets. Amnesty, at the end, was a clear
differentiator between --
BRAT: -- myself and Eric Cantor, and so -- but it fits into the whole
narrative. And it also fits into the narrative that Eric just has not been
present in the district, and he was out of touch --
BRAT: -- in supporting, you know, the Chamber agenda on that one instead
of -- I was door-knocking. I know what`s on the mind of the folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, I have a sense out here -- first of all, I believe in
the voter, and I believe that voters vote voluntarily. The only people who
vote are the ones who want to vote. So you got to count each vote as
seriously, whether it`s the west side of New York or it`s somewhere out in
Iowa somewhere, or in Virginia. These votes count. They represent
personal passion on the part of people -- not group passion, personal
People out there who voted last night in Virginia are really ticked off, it
seems to me -- government debt, government spending, government
overregulation, and especially what bites them in the butt, they think that
they`re selling out the country with this illegal immigration thing. They
believe that people like Cantor are too damn soft.
Now, my question to you, Howard, is, why did he skirt that thing on
immigration (INAUDIBLE) Why didn`t he just say, I won on the immigration --
is he embarrassed that he played ethnic politics, and he didn`t play fiscal
politics? Why did he sort of skirt Chuck`s question? And he clearly did.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, because I -- I -- I actually think, Chris, that even though
immigration is important -- and I think in this particular election, it was
important -- the larger sense I get of this and the big takeaway from this
is the absolutely vicious antagonism that voters in the country, all across
the country, in both parties, have towards Washington.
And -- and -- and it`s -- it`s the kind of -- it`s become the kind of city
where when television, when Netflix puts on a -- an utter attack on
Washington in the form of the show "House of Cards," people in Washington
are so out of touch that they think it`s cool. They think it`s funny.
TODD: That`s a great point. I completely agree!
FINEMAN: They think it`s funny.
TODD: It`s a shot at us!
FINEMAN: The city --
FINEMAN: The city --
MATTHEWS: I know.
FINEMAN: The city is completely out to lunch, and almost literally out to
lunch, or to the steakhouse, in the case of Eric Cantor --
MATTHEWS: Tell me why you said steakhouse because that`s a great number.
FINEMAN: Well, it`s because -- it`s because according to his spending
reports, I think he spent at least $120,000 or $130,000 on events at
steakhouses, which is more than Dave Brat spent on his entire media budget,
indeed, practically his entire campaign.
MATTHEWS: OK, give me --
FINEMAN: But the point is --
MATTHEWS: -- the image of what goes on at those steakhouses. Give me
the picture for the voters out there --
MATTHEWS: -- who haven`t been to Washington, lobbyists palling --
crowding around you --
MATTHEWS: -- guys, usually, eating up big steaks with bibs on --
FINEMAN: And they`re --
MATTHEWS: -- unless it`s lobster night.
FINEMAN: They`re sawing the big steak and they`re deciding to block the
bill that a lot of its proponents think would help real people in the real
America who can`t afford a 25-ounce, you know, slab of meat at Ruth`s (ph)
Steakhouse. It`s just -- they can`t.
MATTHEWS: I think they`re out -- actually, they`re working at a higher-
priced place, like Charlie Palmer`s or something.
MATTHEWS: I remember years ago at one of these things at dinner, a member
of Congress was sitting there, 15 lobbyists sitting around him, serenading
him with how great he is. That`s called a dinner.
TODD: It goes back to Marty Kaplan, and the guy wrote the best portrayal,
and everybody though it was a --
MATTHEWS: "Distinguished Gentleman."
TODD: Yes, "Distinguished Gentleman" with Eddie Murphy. And every time I
watch that movie, the more and more correct you realize that this is, the
longer you --
TODD: But this does go -- this anger that`s out there, this anti-
Washington thing, you know -- look, I took (ph) a bunch of people on
Capitol Hill today from Tea Party conservatives to liberal Democrats, and
all of them are actually reacting the way they should be reacting to this
election, going, Is there an anti-incumbent wave coming?
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s --
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton`s out in the news right now. I don`t
particularly go with her view in this, but I think she was smart to address
it directly, pretty much. Hillary Clinton, who was on her book tour, of
course, sounded a candidate`s, I think, response to the Virginia upset.
She really did sound like she`s running for president. But here -- fair
enough. Here`s her response to what happened last night in Virginia, where
for the first time any of us can ever remember, a leader of Congress was
defeated in a primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As I read the political
coverage -- and we just saw this race in Virginia, where Eric Cantor, the
second-ranking Republican in the House, was defeated by a candidate who
basically ran against immigrants, and his argument was this. There are
Americans out of work, so why should we allow immigrants into our country
to take those jobs?
And I think that`s a fair -- I think that`s a fair question, but the answer
is not to throw out of work and deport the 11 million immigrants who are
contributing already to our economy. The answer is to grow our economy to
create more jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was a very astute answer. It didn`t answer the whole
question of illegal immigration, obviously, guys, but it did deal with the
probably of the hatred of people who`ve been here 20 years, which is
stupid, the desire to deport people who`ve really become Americans. It
certainly didn`t deal -- maybe this is my particular axe to grind -- it
didn`t fix the immigration problem.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Howard.
FINEMAN: Well, I was going to say,that this is going to be an election
where people are going to lose who you never expected to lose, and I think
it`s going to happen in both parties. It`s shaping up to me as that kind
of election because of the sort of free-floating anger that`s out there,
and it`s going to affect both parties. It may help somebody like Alison
Lundergan Grimes pull off a huge upset in Kentucky for the Democrats.
On the other hand, these Democratic incumbents running in Southern Senate -
- in states for reelection to the Senate, they think they`re on firm
ground, I don`t know if they`re going to survive. I just think it`s going
to be that kind, and we`re going to be surprised. You think we were
surprised last night --
FINEMAN: -- wait until you see what happens in November --
TODD: No, it does --
FINEMAN: -- when Chuck Todd`s up there with a telestrator.
TODD: Right. No --
FINEMAN: It`s going to be amazing.
TODD: It does feel like more like `92. Remember? Perot anger hit
everybody. You had guys like Vander Jagt, who was the last House
Republican leader to lose in a primary. But then you also had a Wyche
Fowler lose --
TODD: -- who seemed to be safe. `78, those midterms, which didn`t
change the status quo of who`s in power, but it shook things up.
MATTHEWS: OK, if you had -- if you had --
TODD: It changed the Republican Party --
MATTHEWS: -- to be a political scientist right now --
TODD: -- race in 1980. So it could be something like that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s what I`m asking about because I love to get to the
roots of things. And I do trust the voters, generally. Generally. We all
do. We have to. We believe in democracy.
TODD: Well, I think the voters have figured out what`s wrong, which is
Washington`s messed up.
MATTHEWS: OK --
TODD: Now, they may not have the solution, but they know --
MATTHEWS: OK, suppose you`re --
MATTHEWS: Suppose you`re struggling along on a middle class salary.
You`re making $40,000 a year. You got two kids maybe. You`re struggling.
MATTHEWS: And you pick up the newspaper because you still read the
newspaper, and you see government deficits, government debt, Congress can`t
control spending. You read about illegal immigration. It bothers you.
You say, Can these guys get anything right? Why don`t they do the job? I
can`t control things because I don`t have any power. But I do have the
power to vote, and I`m going to vote against that because that`s
reverberating with me. What`s gone wrong with this country is the
TODD: My only doubt --
MATTHEWS: I`m going to vote against them.
TODD: -- on that is that I do think there is also a strand of folks who
may not vote, who may --
TODD: -- because they -- we have voted change six straight elections,
right, `06, `08, `10 --
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re not getting any better, are they?
TODD: You can argue that we`ve been voting a lot of change. Three of the
last four cycles, there`s been a change and -- and nothing happened. So
you could have a slice of voters --
MATTHEWS: I know. Anyway --
TODD: -- who say, We`ve tried this, I`m done.
MATTHEWS: You know what? I think -- I think we`ve heard an offshore
warning, and I think a tsunami could be coming.
Anyway, thank you Chuck Todd. I don`t know, but I think it could be
coming. Howard Fineman, excellent reporting and analysis.
Coming up: After a string of defeats this year, the Tea Party defeat of
Eric Cantor last night is its biggest win yet. They didn`t just give him a
scare, they blew him out by more than 10 points. And today, that`s
energizing the red hots on the right. In races all across this country,
people are hoping to do the same thing.
Plus, what should establishment Republicans take away from Cantor`s defeat
last night? What`s Jeb thinking? And how about this, that when it comes
to the Republican nomination for president in 2016, moderates and soft-
liners on illegal immigration need not apply. Are you paying attention,
And later, Hillary Clinton`s book rollout. It`s the start of something
big, but how`s the tryout going? Our NBC colleague Cynthia McFadden
interviewed the former secretary of state and joins us right here tonight.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with what this new Tea Party hero said about the
minimum wage this morning. He`s all wrong. He didn`t tell it right to
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Another reason Eric Cantor`s defeat last night was such a
stunner is the amount of money he spent, compared to that of his opponent.
Look at these numbers differences. Cantor`s campaign outspent David Brat`s
by more than 40 -- that`s 4-0 -- to 1, $5 million for Cantor versus
$123,000 for Brat. That`s as of May 21st.
And according to the political ad tracker (ph), Cantor (ph) (INAUDIBLE)
name -- Cantor (ph) Media, the Cantor campaign ran more than 1,000 TV ads -
- that`s (INAUDIBLE) -- almost all of them anti-Brat attack ads, while Brat
ran just 65.
So he put out the bad word on his opponent, still didn`t work. Strategists
told "The Washington Post" that the Cantor campaign hoped to bury Brat with
those attack ads, but they backfired and made Brat seem sympathetic.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAT: This grass roots movement precedes me, and a lot of people have put
in a lot of sweat and a lot of shoe leather to make this happen. It`s not
about Dave Brat winning tonight, it`s about returning the country to
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BRAT: If I go to D.C., every vote I take will move the pendulum in the
direction of the people, away from Washington, D.C., back to the states,
back to the localities, and back to you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back. That was David Brat after his unexpected 10-point
victory over House majority leader, Republican leader Eric Cantor in
Virginia`s district last night.
The stunning upset comes a year after many thought the Tea Party was losing
strength in the country. And while national Tea Party groups largely
stayed out of the race, it`s now clear that the power of their ideas at the
grass roots level have not diminished at all.
Well, the race in Virginia`s 7th district was fought over issues like
immigration and spending at the government level, and it turned on the kind
of anti-incumbent sentiment that we saw during the Tea Party wave in 2010,
allowing a relatively unknown college professor this time to take down the
second most powerful Republican in the country.
Not only does Brat`s victory confirm that the Tea Party`s still relevant,
it`s also a wake-up call for Republicans in government right now, who
appear to be increasingly at odds with their own conservative base.
Joining me right now are two experts, Republican strategist John Brabender,
and of course, Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks.
I`m going to start with you, Matt, because you`ve become our poster boy for
the Tea Party. You guys didn`t -- what I thought was interesting, it was
radio, Laura Ingraham -- I`ll call her my friend to get her in trouble, but
Laura Ingraham and people like Mark Levin -- for some reason, they circled
around this guy and they said, We can beat Cantor and we can beat him with
What made them get so involved? Because right-wing radio or conservative
radio is really powerful in this country.
MATT KIBBE, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, they`ve also been involved in a lot of
races, and I think that`s the natural trend because --
MATTHEWS: But Laura actually campaigned, I hear --
KIBBE: Yes. Yes, she --
MATTHEWS: -- for Brat.
KIBBE: She was very active. But I think the other part of that story is
the mechanics on the ground are now enabling activists to do the kinds of
things they did last night, and I think everybody`s sort of missing this
broader point. This is a paradigm shift that shifts power away from people
MATTHEWS: What`s changed to give power to the people at the grass roots
KIBBE: Social media, disintermediated sources of information. I know --
MATTHEWS: You mean bloggers?
KIBBE: Yes, I know moms with Facebook pages that are bigger than county
GOPs now. And the marginal cost of mobilizing that community is dropping
MATTHEWS: Same on the left.
It`s interesting that Hillary Clinton, who is clearly out there as a
candidate right now, John, she`s out there saying people have a right to be
angry. Now, she has a different take on immigration altogether.
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think she`s
going to join the Tea Party.
BRABENDER: I think that`s where she`s going with this.
MATTHEWS: No, but she doesn`t want to fight the anger. She wants to deal
BRABENDER: Yes. Well, look, there are a lot of angry people.
What`s puzzling today, though, is, why did the anger erupt here when nobody
saw it and it didn`t erupt in Kentucky, it didn`t erupt in South Carolina
and all these other states?
And I think you`re 100 percent right about the social network, though. I`m
somebody who`s a media consultant. I do a lot of TV.
MATTHEWS: Is it the perfect storm?
BRABENDER: I don`t know. Everybody keeps trying to figure out what this
is. Nobody predicted --
MATTHEWS: Could it be that Eric -- that Eric Cantor created a district, he
had a big role in fixing that district the way he wanted it -- he fixed a
real right-wing district, and he`s not a right-winger.
BRABENDER: Well, I think that`s part of it. I think people went to the
polls and said, look, I just do not like the status quo. It`s not even
that personal, it`s anti-Washington, and I`m going to do something about
But people are going to spend too much time on trying to figure out why it
happened and not understand the importance that it did happen. I will
guarantee you there are House members everywhere now who are going to
double-check every vote because they are worried about a primary as much as
they are a general.
MATTHEWS: And they should be.
MATTHEWS: You know, a while ago, Dick Gephardt, the former Democratic
leader, who is sort of like a Cantor on the other side, told me that his
polling showed him that if you ask the people, do members of Congress go
home at night and steal the equipment from their offices, their government
equipment, to take home with them as theft, they say, yes, we believe that
they steal the equipment out of the offices and take it home with them?
If that`s the public mood, he said, why should I even try anymore?
You laugh, but do you think people think that? He thought they did. The
pollsters say that.
KIBBE: No, I --
MATTHEWS: Is that the mood of the country, that says these guys are a
bunch of thieves, I don`t care what you say, they are like guys in "House
KIBBE: So, if you`re a busy person with jobs and families and things you
want to do and you look at the direction of the country, I think it`s quite
rational to look at the existing leadership and say, you know what, we need
to shake things up, we need to try something different.
I think that was the mood.
MATTHEWS: OK. What`s wrong where Eric Cantor?
KIBBE: What`s wrong with Eric Cantor?
MATTHEWS: Yes, what -- did he steal typewriters? What did he do?
KIBBE: I don`t think he stole typewriters.
I think that the lack of leadership coming from the House Republican side
is, he says he wants to get things done, but where were his ideas? Our
idea of fixing Washington is not splitting the difference on Harry Reid`s
If you want to do immigration, pass your own immigration plan. If you want
to do balance the budget, you want to fix Obamacare, where are your ideas?
You go to the table and negotiate based on a different set of principles.
BRABENDER: Yes, but you remember, these are Republican primary voters.
It`s a different group.
They are not people who are looking for compromise. They are looking for
people who have core convictions. They are going to stick to those core
convictions, and they are going to fight for them every day. And I don`t
think Eric Cantor probably --
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about this, because you say they`re primary
voters, but your party -- I guess you`re Republican, right?
BRABENDER: Yes. I --
MATTHEWS: You`re Republican?
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re going to pick a presidential nominee to take on
Hillary Clinton, in all likelihood, in all likelihood.
The same voters you`re talking about it`s, oh, they`re just primary voters,
are the one who are going to decide in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South
Carolina. Pretty predictably, they will have the power, those three
I see evidence here there`s a lot of anger out there, and if I were Rand
Paul or Ted Cruz even, I would say, you know what, I have got a better
chance today than I thought I had yesterday.
KIBBE: I want to quote your favorite guy. You remember Ronald Reagan in
1975 talked about the values of libertarianism as a basis of what the
Republican Party should be. In `76, he challenged a sitting Republican
president, and everybody said this was the end of the party.
I don`t think there`s anything inconsistent with standing on principle and
winning the electorate the way Reagan did. You`re seeing a lot of these
guys -- maybe it`s Scott Walker, maybe it`s Rand Paul -- they are reaching
out to new constituencies. And our ideas, I think, are compelling.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the economy and everything is in as bad of shape or
it looks like it will be as it was in `80? I mean, let`s face it, Ronald
Reagan had a great opportunity.
MATTHEWS: We had the hostage crisis, we had inflation, we had double-digit
inflation, double-digit interest rates.
Those were really horrendous numbers, and he was able to exploit them.
KIBBE: Yes. Well, I think --
MATTHEWS: You don`t have that today. You have got a stock market through
the roof, you have got hardly any inflation, unemployment, at least
numerically, is down. It`s not great. It`s not like it was in `80.
KIBBE: But people are hurting.
MATTHEWS: It`s not like `80, though.
KIBBE: People don`t feel -- people don`t feel the opportunity.
MATTHEWS: Sometimes, it takes a really -- wasn`t it Rahm Emanuel who said,
don`t waste a -- always exploit in a crisis. Well, I`m not sure we`re in a
BRABENDER: But you know what? There`s five buckets in a Republican
primary presidential race, establishment, social conservative, Tea Party
reformer, libertarian, and who can beat the other person, who can beat the
The two smallest buckets are establishment and who can beat the other
person. People aren`t sitting there and are going to say, well, I really
want this person, but that person --
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re telling me that Jeb shouldn`t run. You`re telling
me that Christie better not try. You`re telling me that Rubio, because of
his position on immigration, better not try.
BRABENDER: Well, let`s go back in history.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that what you`re telling me?
BRABENDER: My client was Rick Santorum last time, right?
BRABENDER: Now, Mitt Romney had the establishment. We all know that, but
he had very little from all the other buckets.
And, frankly, I would argue if Newt Gingrich would have got out of the
race, Romney would have had a lot of trouble getting the nomination,
because Tea Party, reformers, libertarians, the public would have moved.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me what that means. Look forward.
BRABENDER: Well, what I think it is, is that Republicans are looking as
their presidential nominee somebody who doesn`t just check the box, but has
strong core principles.
MATTHEWS: You agree with that? So, it`s not going to be a moderate
KIBBE: No. I don`t think it is.
MATTHEWS: Not a moderate centrist?
BRABENDER: No, absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s not going to be Jeb or Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney is
not running again, is he? Just teasing.
MATTHEWS: I think he wants to, he`s not going to do it.
BRABENDER: I would say it`s harder for Jeb. Chris Christie goes across.
Chris Christie does -- seen as a reformer, so he does have some things he
can say he did in New Jersey.
I think it`s harder --
MATTHEWS: He cleaned up New Jersey?
BRABENDER: Well, as much as anybody can.
BRABENDER: But I think it`s harder for Jeb Bush, to be perfectly honest.
MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a -- that`s a hell of a slogan. Chris
Christie, he cleaned up New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. Sometimes I have to laugh at you guys. But that`s
all right. That`s an opinion you have.
John Brabender, who`s pushing Christie as the reform candidate, and Matt --
Matt Kibbe, who`s always clean.
Much more on Cantor`s defeat -- just kidding -- and what the establishment
Republicans can take away from last night. We`re going to have them on.
We`re going to have people on like Joe Scarborough -- we`re lucky to get
him today -- and Michael Steele.
And up next, remember the Republican in Arizona who changed his name to
Cesar Chavez to win Hispanic votes? Well, now the family of the real Cesar
Chavez is striking back.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."
Well, during his testimony this week, Veterans Affairs Undersecretary
Philip Matkovsky said the department`s scheduling system has not been
updated since April of 1985. He says this outdated computer system is
playing a factor in the long delays for medical treatment of veterans that
they are experiencing -- 1985.
Well, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" wanted to show how outdated the VA`s
technology really is. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Your system can`t
process claims, but it can print an all-text picture of Snoopy.
STEWART: 1985? Are you kidding me? Have you ever caught the movie "The
Net" on late-night cable, and laughed out loud alone about how outdated the
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This was a false alarm.
SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: Yes.
STEWART: That`s 10 years more advanced than what the VA is currently
STEWART: I mean, that`s -- that`s -- pow!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And, finally, you have heard the story of Scott Fistler in our
"Sideshow." He`s the former Republican, former Scott Fistler in Arizona
who switched parties and legally changed his name to Cesar Chavez to win
Hispanic votes in his second congressional bid.
But now a relative of the real-life labor icon Cesar Chavez wants the
candidate thrown off the Democratic primary ballot. Alejandro Chavez filed
a lawsuit saying Fistler is attempting to confuse the voters and corrupt
the electoral progress, but Fistler, himself, continues to embrace his
strategy, telling "The Arizona Republic" newspaper -- quote -- "It`s almost
as simple as saying Elvis Presley is running for president. You wouldn`t
forget it, would you? If you went out there running for office and your
name was Bernie -- Bernie Madoff, you would probably be screwed."
This guy sound like a balloon head. OK?
Up next: What does Eric Cantor`s defeat in Virginia mean for the
establishment types -- or more establishment types who run for president in
2016, like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie? Beware? We will see.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
NBC News` chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, has
confirmed reports that Iraq has asked the U.S. for air assistance to put
down the uprising of al Qaeda militants in the country. The Obama
administration has also confirmed that it is considering several options
when it comes to assistance, including drone strikes and manned aircraft.
President Obama spoke to graduating seniors at Worcester Technical High
School in Massachusetts. He told students the skills they acquired at
school would help make America stronger.
The truck driver charged with vehicular homicide and assault in connection
with a crash that injured Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian has
pleaded not guilty -- now we take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the political earthquake caused by Eric Cantor`s stunning loss has
rocked the Republican world. Look at the headline that ran across the top
of "The Wall Street Journal" today: "Tea Party Upsets GOP number two
Cantor`s resounding defeat has left an already divided Republican Party
shell-shocked. Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz of Texas cheered David Brat`s
victory, saying -- quote -- "This election would -- should be a reminder to
all in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, that the conservative
base is alive and well and the American people will hold us all
Joining me right now are two smart observers of the Republican Party. Joe
Scarborough is the host of course of MSNBC`s "MORNING JOE." Michael Steele
is the former chair of the Republican National Committee.
Joe, I want you to start. Big picture, what`s the noise level about, as
you see it? I think you`re a mainstream conservative. What`s the message
to everybody in this big upset?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the message to everybody is a
message to Democrats and Republicans alike that the electorate is angry,
but you have got to stay connected with your electorate.
And that just didn`t happen with Eric Cantor. Pat Buchanan talks about
political athletes, and in this case, I think you had Buster Douglas
actually beating Mike Tyson. It wasn`t that Buster Douglas was so great,
but Tyson just lost his touch in the ring.
I mean, think about this. I`m a conservative guy. Yes, I`m a mainstream
conservative guy, but I wouldn`t want to vote for a guy that voted for a $7
trillion Medicare drug benefit plan without, you know, paying it off.
That`s what Cantor did. He voted for the bank bailout. He said one thing
in Washington, D.C., about immigration. He said another thing about
immigration when he got home.
I don`t think it was so much his position on immigration, as that he just
never took it to the people. He became very disconnected, and he ran
against a guy who was very connected, and I think that makes all the
difference in the world.
MATTHEWS: Not defending Cantor personally, because I don`t know him, but,
intellectually, they are trying to be this big Republican big tent party on
immigration, making sure they have a shot at the Hispanic vote, like George
W. had. At the same time, locally, they don`t really care about that
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they don`t --
MATTHEWS: Why should they care whether the national Republican Party wants
to include more Hispanics? They want the laws enforced.
STEELE: Well, look, what`s where this rubber meets the road for a lot of
folks in the party, where a lot of conservatives going I say back to about
2004, 2005, began to be more and more disenchanted with the establishment
in Washington, who, as Joe rightly put it, was saying one thing in D.C.,
and coming home and saying something else.
MATTHEWS: Well, why are they doing that? Why is Cantor doing it both
ways, speak with a forked tongue?
STEELE: Because, up to this point, Chris, they could get away with it.
The base of the party didn`t have -- they relied a lot on the members
coming back and informing them and connecting them. Well, guess what?
Social media has now done more to connect the base one to the other, not
just to Washington, than anything else, so they are getting this
They are doing the authentic checkup on the members themselves, which you
saw with the Tea Party revolution, if you want to call it that, in 2009,
was really the party activists saying, we got this now.
STEELE: We`re going to help set the agenda, which is part of the long ball
strategy that I think the Tea Party is setting up.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the personalities. I always like to talk
personalities. Let`s talk Rubio, let`s talk Ted Cruz, let`s talk, oh, Jeb
Bush, let`s talk Chris Christie.
The big names, the bold print names, Joe, in your party talking the
presidency, clearly talking about the presidency, who`s happy tonight?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I don`t see any reason why Jeb Bush shouldn`t be
The message is to all politicians, again, you have got to go out, you have
got to aggressively tell people what you believe in, and you got to fight.
And I was in a district that hadn`t elected a Republican since 1873. I did
a lot of things that my district disagreed with, but you know what, I also
held about 100 town hall meetings a year.
I went around and I communicated. I said, listen, you`re not going to
agree with me on every single position. This is where I stand, it`s why I
stand there. If you don`t like it, don`t vote for me, but I`m going to
keep coming back to you and telling you exactly what I believe.
People will vote for you, they will give you a chance, they will give you a
little bit of slack if you stay connected. At the end of the day, Cantor
didn`t stay connected, and he ended up paying for it.
And, again, I -- Chris, there`s an underlying anger still in the Republican
Party among people out there that aren`t even Tea Party members. They are
Main Street Republicans who saw the Republican Party explode the deficit
and explode the national debt over the first seven, eight years.
They don`t want Republicans to get in power again and do the same thing
they did between 2001 and 2009, bank bailouts, $7 trillion bank bailouts
without paying for a dime of it, a Medicare drug benefit plan without
paying for a dime of it? That`s -- big government Republicanism is no
better than big government liberalism.
MATTHEWS: So, here`s a simple question. Why don`t the Republicans and the
Democrats do what the people want, especially on the conservative side?
I mean, the Democrats can`t in some cases agree with the conservative side,
but that anger seems like it could be met with reasonable action --
STEELE: Well --
MATTHEWS: -- to cut the deficit, keep voting against it, keep voting
against the debt, have an honest immigration bill that`s really going to
work, and not just -- you can deal with the interest groups, but deal with
long running problem, make it work. Why don`t they just do that, and take
that as their position?
STEELE: Once you start to buy into the red versus blue paradigm, once you
start to buy into the "us versus them" paradigm, it`s hard -- it`s hard,
all of a sudden, now to say, you know what, we can all do like Reagan and
Tip O`Neill. We can all do, even like Clinton and Newt Gingrich, for that
matter. So --
MATTHEWS: Or Bernie Sanders and John McCain tonight, that just cut a deal
on the V.A.
STEELE: On the V.A. And so, look -- we could even -- as we`ve talked
about on this show and on "MORNING JOE," we couldn`t even get these guys
and gals to come together on a 90 percent issue in the country, on gun
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MORNING JOE: Yes, here`s the deal, though, Matt Kibbe
said it perfectly on your show earlier today, Cantor was not only saying
one thing in Washington and another back home, he didn`t have an agenda.
The House Republicans didn`t have an agenda they aggressively ran on. It
was always a reaction to what the Democrats were doing.
We ran in `94, of course, we had the Contract with America, agree with it
or disagree with it, we were always going 90 miles an hour forward.
Democrats were always responding to us.
What was Eric Cantor`s view of where the country needed to go five years
from now? What was the big plan? There`s not a big idea right now,
legislatively, for House Republicans.
And Kibbe was exactly right, tell us what you believe in, don`t tell us
what you disagree with what Barack Obama and Harry Reid -- and if he had
that agenda when he went home, and if he went home, he wouldn`t have lost
last night. It`s that simple.
MATTHEWS: Well, Joe, he says he goes home every week, but he obviously
spends more times at Bobby Van`s and BLT Steak.
I mean, one thing about leadership which I think really sucks. You eat a
lot of restaurant food in Washington --
STEELE: Yes, you do.
MATTHEWS: You hang out with a lot of PAC directors, that`s what you do. A
lot of fundraising people, you hang out with these people whose job it is
to say I had dinner last night with this guy, and your whole company, your
social world is lobbyists. And maybe what`s that Cantor said tonight when
he announced his good-bye.
STEELE: That remains to be seen and, of course, that will almost the
fitting ending to that story.
MATTHEWS: Well, the voters will feel very right about their vote.
Well, at the end of the day, you`re right, and I think for someone like
Cantor, the idea of going home meant wherever he lived in D.C. and the
voters had a very different view of that.
MATTHEWS: Joe, big message, do you think the candidates -- you don`t think
it`s going to bother Jeb Bush. I think that`s big news. You don`t think
so. It`s not going to discourage him.
SCARBOROUGH: I don`t think so. Listen, Eric Cantor`s district is no more
conservative than South Carolina. And in South Carolina, you had a guy
that was pro-immigration reform, Lindsey Graham won the Republican Party
nomination going away. In 2012, you had Newt Gingrich, who is probably the
most pro-immigration reform candidate out there, you know, he won South
Carolina. Again, a very conservative state.
But if you`re going to sell it, you got to go all-in selling it. You can`t
bounce back and forth, you can`t say you`re trying to push for an
immigration deal in Washington, D.C. And then go home and run cheesy ads
saying that your opponent is for amnesty. I mean, it`s an absolute joke.
You got to stay connected with the people, stay connected with the people,
they will cut you slack. You will win elections. It`s that simple.
MATTHEWS: Joe Scarborough, I watch every morning. Thank you. Michael
Up next, Hillary Clinton`s book rollout this week is the start of big
things for the Clintons. So, how`s that tryout going? My colleague
Cynthia McFadden interviewed Hillary and that`s coming up next.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Some rare cooperation on Capitol Hill late today. The United
States Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass a bipartisan bill to reform the
Department of Veterans Affairs, with over 90 votes in favor of the bill,
which was brokered by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator John
McCain, closely mirrors the version the House unanimously passed yesterday.
So, it would increase the number of V.A. doctors and allow veterans to go
outside the V.A. system to avoid excessive wait lines for health care.
Also today, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the V.A.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve reading a lot about the kickoff for the book tour.
Hillary dead broke, really?
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, that may not have been
the most artful way of saying that, you know, Bill and I have gone through
a lot of different phases in our lives. That was then, this is now, and,
obviously, we are very fortunate. We`ve been given great opportunities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Hillary Clinton there appears to be tuning up her performance two days
after saying she and her husband were dead broke when they left the White
House in 2000.
Well, it`s been the comment that led to this "Washington Post" headline,
"Clinton`s book tour off to a bumpy start."
Well, my NBC colleague Cynthia McFadden had interviewed Mrs. Clinton many
times, in various places throughout the many phases of Secretary Clinton`s
public life. Cynthia spent more than an hour this time interviewing
Clinton on Monday and joins me here to share her backstage observation.
Cynthia, thank you.
You know, I thought that was the small kind of gaffe, even a half gaffe
about the dead broke. Everybody -- once she said we were $12 million in
the hole, I think people should have understood what she meant. But I
thought it`s interesting how now she`s moving along and refining, almost
like an out of town play getting ready in new haven, you know, in the old
In other words, she`s tuning it up. She says, OK, didn`t say it right
yesterday, I`m going to say it right tonight. She`s not going to say, who
said that about me? As she said, take criticism seriously, not personally.
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS SENIOR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly.
Listen, she certainly, as for a bumpy start, that was certainly a pothole.
She hit it. It was a fair question, it was a bad answer. She`s course
correcting, triangulating, fixing it now.
I don`t think it`s going to have real lasting effects. I have to tell you,
Chris, I have interviewed her all over the world, all over the country, and
when she sat down to talk to me on Monday, I said, "You look rested." She
said, "I am rested," despite having written a nearly a 700-page book, this
is Hillary Clinton rested.
She seems to be in fine health. She says her health is just great. I
don`t think there`s going to be any health question that stands between her
and running for president, if she decides to do that.
And I think a lot of us think maybe she already is doing that.
MATTHEWS: What was her body language or chemistry you got from her? Did
you get a sense backstage, you spent all that time with her, not just on
camera, do you get a sense that she`s revved up? I guess that`s what`s
you`re saying. Did she -- that this is a triumph, that she`s heading
somewhere besides a book tour?
MCFADDEN: Yes, and listen, when you read the book, I think she is. I
think she`s making her case for running. I think she has to talk herself
into it a little bit. I don`t think she`s kidding when she says she
actually wants to hold that grandbaby in her arms before she makes the
decision. She doesn`t know how she`s going to feel as a grandmother. I
think that`s genuine enough, but I suspect that she`s going to come around
in eight or nine months and make the decision.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the fact that all the interviews that she`s
-- and she decides who to give an interview to, let`s be honest about it.
These gets are valuable to all of us in this business. She`s given it to
Diane and to Robin and to you and later to Greta and to, what is it, Bret
Baier, but mostly women.
What do you think about that? It`s pretty overt she wants to talk to women
about her period as secretary of state, more than guys. Why is that do you
MCFADDEN: I don`t know. Listen, she`s certainly put women at the top of
her agenda as secretary of state. She`s the first person to appoint
someone for women`s issues at the State Department. She`s very proud of
her record on that, and I think, hey, listen, she`s given a few hard-
working journalists a break here.
MATTHEWS: Ha! Let`s take a look. Everybody`s for themselves in this
Anyway, Hillary Clinton said people are preying on Americans` feelings of
fear and uncertainty right now. Let`s listen to this analysis of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCFADDEN: What is going on in America?
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think there is a sense
of fear and insecurity about the future that is being taken advantage of by
certain people in public life.
And President Obama has worked his heart out. I have seen it. I have
watched him, trying to figure out how to save the economy, how to get
health care for everybody, and at every turn, people are preying on fear
That is so un-American. I mean, part of our DNA is optimism, pragmatism,
get together, solve problems, compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess the question is, what`s to be optimistic about,
Cynthia, because I don`t see either party -- either party dealing with the
problem of debt, deficits, illegal immigration. They just kick the can
down the road on every issue. And that fear and uncertainty to me is well-
placed. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
I think there are things we can do about it, besides getting angry. But --
MCFADDEN: Listen, my follow-up question was, who do you mean? Are you
talking about the Koch brothers? Are you talking about the Tea Party?
And she says, she didn`t want to name names, yet. So, I suspect we`re
going to hear some names attached to those views as well.
And certainly, you`re right. I mean, Hillary Clinton says, it isn`t about
whether or not I`m going to run, it`s how I see my vision of America and
whether or not I believe I can implement it. That`s what`s going to
determine whether or not I`m going to run and whether or not I should run.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Democrats have had their serve a few times in recent
years and haven`t fixed the problem, as we know.
Well, Hillary Clinton`s answer to your question about advice she`d give her
younger self was an interesting part of the interview. It turns out there
was more to Clinton`s interview.
Let`s listen to the additional advice she would give her 1990s self.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I would say, probably, being the head of the health care task
force is not a good idea. You can be a spokesperson for it, but, you know,
it was so funny, because in Arkansas, I had done all this work for Bill,
I`d headed the Educations Standards Committee, I never knew that Washington
was so much more worried about a, quote, "first lady" taking on a policy
position for her husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that`s fascinating. I wonder -- you put it
altogether, because she was the intellectual person behind the health care
bill, she wasn`t just the front for it, and she was certainly not just the
front first lady, she was the health care policy person. And yet, she`s
saying she shouldn`t have been that person.
I think that`s fascinating. I thought -- she certainly was a first try at
this, but who`s to know it wasn`t a good effort in the first place.
MCFADDEN: Yes, you know, the beginning of the answer, we`d broadcast
previously is that she said she had a better point of view, that she would
take criticism seriously, but that she wouldn`t take it personally. And
she went on to say what you just played.
MATTHEWS: I love that.
MCFADDEN: And I actually think -- I`ve never heard her say this before,
perhaps she has, I hadn`t heard her say, that she wishes in retrospect she
hadn`t headed up the effort.
She said, it would have been OK for me to be the spokesperson for it, but I
sure as heck shouldn`t have taken on the role myself. So, interesting.
MATTHEWS: Well, she`s certainly -- Cynthia, she certainly went to battle
with people like Pat Moynihan and John Dingell. Those were hot fights
those days about how to go about this thing.
But you`ve got some news there I think. I think you`re being humble. I
think that is the first time she has said. I don`t think she said in the
book but I think she said it with you.
MCFADDEN: I trust you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I love to see. I just want the outtakes, I want them all.
Anyway, thank you, Cynthia McFadden, and welcome to this great, grand NBC
MCFADDEN: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back after this. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this challenge to the Tea Party hero
of the day, Dave Brat.
First of all, congratulations on your upset victory of Eric Cantor in
Second, let me challenge you on something you said to my colleague Chuck
this morning. Chuck asked whether you believed in a federally mandated
minimum wage. You answered by saying that wages can only keep up with
productivity gains. You said that only increases in productivity what a
worker gets done on the job could be a market justification for a higher
So, I had someone check the numbers. You having a PhD in economics will
recognize just what I`m doing here. You talked about the need for a long-
term graph to show the increase in worker productivity, presumably what a
worker is worth paying, to the increases in actual wages over time. Well,
I did just that.
And this graph was produced by the Economic Policy Institute. It shows the
rising growth in productivity, it`s the bold line there, going up almost
250 percent since 1950. And then actual wages, that`s the lighter line
growing just a bit over 100 percent, over that period since 1950.
Well, you see the problem, Dr. Brat. The problem is, you`re wrong. The
correct answer here is that productivity has grown 2 1/2 times as fast as
wages, or if you want to put it this way, wages have only grown about half
the rate or less than that, actually, than worker productivity.
So, I need to take you to a retest now on what you told Chuck Todd this
morning. Don`t you agree? Again, I congratulate you on your victory.
Now, about that retest.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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