updated 6/30/2014 9:22:31 AM ET 2014-06-30T13:22:31

June 27, 2014

Guest: Michael Scherer, Michelle Bernard, Joe Watkins, Frank Sharry,
Rachel Smolkin


Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.

"Let Me Start" with the opposition to President Obama`s agenda. It`s
always been loud, but it`s never been quite like this -- endless calls for
impeachment, show trials and select committee investigations, talk about
taking president to court for the kinds of things that his predecessor did
with impunity.

When your base won`t let you do anything, what can you do except gum
up the works and blame it on the guy in charge? Scorched earth has become
the Republican Party`s agenda. And scary as it might seem, it`s working.

This week, it became clear that the president had had enough. And
today on the road in Minneapolis, he told crowds that he didn`t care about
being politically correct anymore. This was the portrait of a president
who is clearly fed up.


common sense ideas can`t get through this Congress. No, I -- and you know,
sometimes I`m -- you know, I`m supposed to be, you know, politic about how
I say things. But I`m finding lately that I just want to say what`s on my
mind. So let me...


OBAMA: I`m not sure which of the things I`ve done they find most
offensive. But they`re decided they`re going to sue me for doing my job.

I want to work with you, but you`ve got to give me something! You`ve
got to try to deliver something. They don`t do anything!


OBAMA: Except block me and call me names!


KORNACKI: That was just the beginning of the attacks on Republicans.
Here`s more from the president.


OBAMA: So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or
voted down every single serious idea to strengthen the middle class. Now,
you may think I`m exaggerating, so let me go through the list. They`ve
said no to raising the minimum wage. They`ve said no to fair pay. Rather
than invest in working families getting ahead, they actually voted to give
another massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.


OBAMA: Don`t boo, by the way. I want you to vote. But...


OBAMA: But...



KORNACKI: David corn is an MSNBC political analyst and Washington
bureau chief with "Mother Jones," and Michael Scherer is the Washington
bureau chief for "Time" magazine.

So you know, listen, I mean, this is what we -- I at least Hollywood
has taught us this is we want in our presidents, this is what we want in
public officials. Throw the script away. He threw the jacket away. And
you want to speak from the heart. There were -- there were teleprompters
in front of him there, but maybe they weren`t turned on. I don`t know.
But you speak from the heart. That`s -- the performance art of this I
certainly get.

But David, just watching this today -- an Obama we don`t see all the
time. What`s your reaction to that?

think it`s a little bit too late in the sense that we`ve had almost six
years now of Republican obstructionism, which is their right. They want to
block the president. That`s fine.

But too often, we`ve had asymmetrical warfare in Washington, where the
president tries to be the adult in the room, tries to strike compromises
that his own base would be upset with some aspects of it. And he can`t
find anyone on the other side to do this, and he hasn`t really come out too
often and explained what`s going on in a way that gets the public to choose
a side.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you -- you`re saying, you know, he should have
done this sooner, should have talked this way sooner, should have called
out Republicans this way sooner. What would have happened if he did? What
would have happened if in 2010, this is how he was talking?

CORN: Well, you know, I don`t know. 2010 is very close into, you
know, the election. But I think you -- you know, right now, nothing`s
going to happen legislatively on immigration, minimum wage. So the only
thing that he can play for, unfortunately, is to win the political story,
to win that -- you know, to win -- you know, it`s a cliche, but to win the
political narrative. And you know, I think he could have started earlier
doing this.

And the president -- you know, if you`ve met him, people know, he has
an incredibly great sense of sarcastic humor, which he doesn`t use that
much. I tend to like that in the guy, and I think we could see more of
that. And it could have helped him maybe, you know, through the last year
or two.

KORNACKI: Well, so Michael, is this part of a strategy? Is this --
did the president just sort of, you know, wake up today or just decide this
week, Hey, there`s something I want to get off my chest, or is -- is there
a longer-term game that the White House is playing here, that it`s
starting, it`s sort of kicking off with this speech? Is there a follow-up
to this? Is there a strategy at work?

MICHAEL SCHERER, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, the content is stuff we`ve
heard before. What`s different is the style. And I think there`s
absolutely a strategy. I mean, they have to have a storyline. They have
to get the base excited. All the polls show that Democrats are in for a
beating later this year, and that`s because Democrats are probably not
going to turn out like they did in 2012. He`s got to get that group of
people, the people who come out for him, animated about this election.

And it`s a really, really difficult thing for him to do. There`s not
really much historical precedent definitely for him being able to do it,
but for most sitting presidents to be able to do it in off-year elections.

And so he`s making it personal. He`s reminding people why they liked
him in the first place. He`s still among the most likable of the people in
Washington, which isn`t saying much. Sort of like being the tallest guy in
kindergarten or something. But -- but that`s what he`s got going for him.
And so they created this, you know, "Here comes the bear" narrative, which
also has the effect of covering up for the fact that his biggest problem is
he can`t do what he said he would do in the last election.

He sold the last elections as, Elect me and we will -- we will finally
get this stuff done. The fever will finally break. The fever hasn`t
broken. He doesn`t have a way of breaking the fever. He`s increasingly
looking like a lame duck. And this next election probably won`t get there.
He says now that`s cynicism. Don`t embrace cynicism. Let`s keep the hope
alive. And that`s probably the message he needs to use right now.

KORNACKI: Well, today`s remarks going after Republicans are just the
latest in a string of attacks this week that the president has launched
against the hard right. On Wednesday, he ridiculed the red hots for
(INAUDIBLE) ignorance on global warming.


OBAMA: They`ve ducked the question. They -- Hey, I`m not a
scientist, which really translates into, I accept that man-made climate
change is real, but if I say so out loud, I`ll be run out of town by a
bunch of fringe elements that think climate science is a liberal plot, so
I`m going to just pretend like, I don`t know, I can`t read.



KORNACKI: In an interview he taped yesterday with ABC`s George
Stephanopoulos, he slammed John Boehner`s planned lawsuit.


OBAMA: Well, you notice that he didn`t specifically say what exactly
he was objecting to.

I`m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they`re
doing nothing.


OBAMA: You know, the suit is a stunt.


KORNACKI: So David, let`s talk about this. Michael started to get
into this a minute ago, the implications for 2014. I mean, we all know --
we can state the obvious here, Republicans heavily favored to keep the
House this year, very real chance they`re going to pick up the Senate. No
one out there is talking about, Hey, after the 2014 elections, you know,
the Democrats are going to be in control of the House and the Senate.
They`re not going to get it back this fall.

But so what can the president achieve? If this is the new Barack
Obama that we`re going to be seeing for the next, you know, few months, is
that sarcasm you like becomes, you know, his sort of thing and it catches
on, what realistically, what politically can he achieve here?

CORN: Well, I think there`s a lot to be said for retaining the
Senate, you know, at least in terms of appointments and so on. So -- and
not having to start vetoing laws that may be passed by Republican-
controlled Congress on both sides. So I mean, there is a real strategic
aim here, which is to not lose the Senate.

And you know, I think it`s pretty clear that as the Republicans -- I
think John Boehner is playing to the Tea Party crowd with this whole
lawsuit thing because he`s not giving them any legislation. And he also
hears the calls for impeachment from his side. He knows, as does the White
House, that nothing would help Obama`s Democratic prospects in the fall
better than a real impeachment campaign mounted by the Republicans. Look
what happened with the Thad Cochran race just this week. If you start
attacking Obama too directly, in a lot of ways, it will get the base riled
up. That will work.

And so you know, today, or yesterday, the day that they announced this
lawsuit, which isn`t really real yet -- we have to see what it`s going to
be -- the Democratic campaign committee for House candidates raised the
most money in a single day than ever before. So you know...

KORNACKI: Well, yes. And that`s something I want to kind of try to
figure out here because it`s, like -- you mentioned -- you know, there`s
the -- think of it this way. There`s the IRS. You know, there`s Benghazi.
There`s all these investigations that the Republicans, you know, want to
launch, that they have launched in some cases. I mean, you can just
clearly see the energy you`re talking about there, David, when you mention
the "I" word, when you mention impeachment. That is, among many other
things -- that is a base that is fired up, that`s a base that wants to get
out there and vote this fall.

Michael, when you compare, you know, the Obama you`re seeing right
now, the Obama you`re hearing from right now, in terms of energizing the
Democratic base, this message of, Hey, the Republicans, all they want to do
is, you know, they want to pick on me, you know, they don`t want to let me
get my agenda through -- excuse me -- how does that work comparatively in
terms of firing up the Democratic base?

SCHERER: Well, not so much. He`s got less to work with. The
Democratic base comes out for him. They don`t necessarily come out for
Representative So-and-So or Senator So-and-So. And his problem is he`s not
on the ballot. And so a lot of the people that he`s been able to bring to
the polls in 2008 and 2012, which were both revolutionary elections in
terms of getting young people, non-white voters to come out, women to come
out -- I mean, big, big election numbers that -- that...

KORNACKI: Right. How can they -- how can they do that this fall?
How can they get...

CORN: There is a model...


CORN: There is a model for that.

KORNACKI: What is it?

CORN: I mean, I don`t want to be Pollyanna-ish about this at all. I
think the prospects aren`t that great for the Democrats. But Terry
McAuliffe`s governor campaign in Virginia, which was last November, a year
after Obama won reelection, used some of the same modeling to get out an
electorate that was reflective of the Obama electorate, and actually

Now, it took a lot of time and talent and money to do that. I don`t
know if you can do that everywhere. And it is, you know, sort of, you
know, working at a disadvantage. But there are things that can be done on
the ground, and maybe from 30,000 feet, where the president operates, to
increase the Democratic odds.

KORNACKI: Well, and that -- you know, Virginia`s probably (INAUDIBLE)
the power of, I guess you could call it, negative motivation, right? Were
they turning out because they loved Terry McAuliffe? Were they turning out
because they were scared of Ken Cuccinelli? Certainly helps to have an
opponent like that, but maybe they can turn some of these Republicans
running this year into Ken Cuccinelli. They may not need much help doing

Thank you, though, David Corn, Michael Scherer. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Cheney versus Clinton. Not Hillary, Bill. Bill Clinton
calls Cheney out for bungling the war in Iraq, and Cheney hits back the
only way he knows how.

Also, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree immigration reform is
all but dead this year and maybe longer. And many are saying Republicans
will pay a huge price in 2016, an electoral tsunami, as one activist put

Plus, perhaps the most bizarre example of Obama derangement syndrome
we have seen yet from a Fox News guest who sees the World Cup -- ready? --
as part of an Obama administration conspiracy.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with why voters` short-term memory might be a
very good thing for one presidential candidate in 2016.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


KORNACKI: The Democrat is leading in the must-win Senate race in
North Carolina. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new poll from Civitas -- that`s a Republican polling
firm -- incumbent Democratic senator Kay Hagan leads Republican challenger
Thom Tillis by 6 points, Hagan 42, Tillis 36. Hagan is building her big
lead with a big gender gap, leading Tillis by 13 points among women voters.

Be right back.


KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. For six years, Dick Cheney has
been the president`s strongest credit on foreign policy, accusing him of
making the country less safe and abandoning our allies overseas.

In recent weeks, those attacks have gone into hyperdrive.


very weak president, maybe the weakest certainly in my lifetime. I think
he`s dead wrong in terms of the course he`s taken this nation, and I think
we`re in for big trouble in the years ahead because of his refusal to
recognize reality.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: President said he`s not responsible. I would
assume you don`t agree with that.

CHENEY: Well, I don`t.

We`ve now got a terrible, difficult situation on our hands, but I
think it`s primarily because both Maliki and Obama.

The policies of the last six years have left America diminished and
weakened. Our enemies no longer fear us. Our allies no longer trust us.


KORNACKI: In a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed this month, the former
vice president and his daughter wrote, quote, "Rarely has a U.S. president
been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

You might have missed the irony of that statement, but thankfully,
Stephen Colbert exists to point it out.


STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yes, rarely. Maybe only one
other time.



KORNACKI: And this week in an interview with David Gregory, Bill
Clinton stepped into the fight.


been incredibly adroit for the last six years or so attacking the
administration for not doing an adequate job of cleaning up the mess that
he made.


CLINTON: And I think it`s unseemly. And I give President Bush, by
the way, a lot of credit for trying to stay out of this debate and letting
other people work through it.


KORNACKI: The vice president (sic) fired back, saying in Montana,
quote, "If there`s somebody who knows something about unseemly, it`s Bill

Dick Cheney versus Bill Clinton -- who wins this political slugfest?
Well, Michelle Bernard is the president of the Bernard Center for Women,
politics and Public Policy, and Joe Watkins is a Republican strategist.

So Michelle, we said when Dick Cheney was vice president, he broke the
mold as far as vice presidents go. I guess he kind of breaks the mold here
as far as former vice presidents go. Going right to it, you know, I guess
it`s meant as a half joke, half attack there. You know, "Bill Clinton
should know something about unseemly." Clearly, you know, we know what
that`s referring to.

I mean, is it -- is it right for a former vice president to be talking
this way? Maybe it`s just a reflection of the times we live in, or is
there a standard he should be adhering to here?

MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER: You know, those are all excellent
questions. And I don`t know. All I can tell you is that, intuitively, it
just -- it feels wrong. What is happening in Iraq, what is happening in
the Middle East directly impacts the national security interests of every
single American. And so to me, you would think that the vice president
would trade very delicately and not make the country look weak in the eyes
of would-be terrorists.

So I mean, frankly, Steve, I spent the afternoon trying to figure out
why on earth would the former vice president do this. And then I realized
that, you know, he and his daughter, Liz, are starting this 501(c)(4)
political -- sort of semi-political organization called an Alliance for a
Stronger America. And what their mission statement says is that they are
here to try to reverse the policies of the Obama administration, which they
believe are threatening the national security interests of America.

So maybe this is really about fund-raising. If national security is
going to be an issue in the 2016 election, maybe this is a way -- a way for
the former vice president to say to whomever he thinks his base is, Give us
money so that we can reverse -- we can put in the right candidates and
reverse the policies of President Obama in 2016.

KORNACKI: Well, you note that in the TV clip we showed there, Liz
Cheney is with him. In the op-ed, Liz Cheney has her name on it. There
clearly this is Cheney family interest in getting Liz advanced. You know,
the Senate race didn`t work out in Wyoming.

But Joe, the other thing that jumped out at me about this is that
response from Dick Cheney -- we have only the quote there, we don`t have
the video from it. But apparently, talking to a reporter about this, the
audience, you know, cheered this on when he said that, you know, Bill
Clinton should know something about unseemly.

I guess -- the question I have for you, you know, as a Republican
there, listening to Republicans talk about Bill Clinton for the last six
years after the 2008 election, I thought Republicans had gotten over it and
decided they liked Bill Clinton after all. Is that changing now?


JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, this kind of an argument
doesn`t -- doesn`t help -- help what`s happening in Iraq. I mean, right
now, we have a very dangerous sectarian war going on, and the hope is that
some solution can be found to ISIS, which is advancing, and as we speak,
taking over new cities every day.

It`s unfortunate that the -- the -- the argument between vice
president -- former vice president Cheney and former president Bill Clinton
has gotten to this. And I don`t think it should ever be personal. I
really don`t. I don`t care whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat...

KORNACKI: But it sounds like he got a pretty good response from this
audience when he said that. I`m assuming it`s more of a -- you know, it`s
Wyoming. I`m assuming it`s a pretty Republican audience out there.

And is this a preview of -- I guess what I`m kind of wondering is, you
know, if that -- does that stuff still sell? We saw in the `90s all that
stuff, the conspiracy stuff about the Clintons and Vince (ph) bonny (ph),
go through the whole list of the stuff in 1990s. That audience just eats
that up when Dick Cheney puts it out there. Is that a preview of what
we`re going to be hearing, you know, for the next couple years if the
Clintons run again?

WATKINS: No, I don`t think so.

I think that maybe that day to that audience, that might have been a
good one-liner, a one-liner that got a response from some folks. But, at
the end of the day, America doesn`t win if all this is about is beating up
former presidents for past indiscretions.

We have got to look to the future, look forward to a spirited 2016
presidential campaign that talks about new ideas and directions for the
country to make us a great country. And it ought not be about President
Bill Clinton. It ought to be about whoever the Democratic nominee is and
whoever the Republican nominee happens to be.

And I think that both parties will work hard to get the best people to
the forefront. But it ought not become personal, and petty and small and
it ought not be about beating up a former president.

KORNACKI: But what is politics if not personal, petty and small, I
sometimes wonder.


KORNACKI: But, anyway, earlier This week on FOX, Vice President
Cheney accused the president of decimating the Pentagon. Let`s watch.


just about Iraq. It`s the fact that now Iraq and Syria are both potential
trouble spots.

And as we see this proliferation of terrorists, we have also, at the
same time, had an administration that didn`t want to recognize there was a
problem. They like to say, well, we got bin Laden, problem solved, or we
have decimated al Qaeda.

What they have decimated is the U.S. Defense Department.


KORNACKI: And he had similar criticisms speaking in Montana this


CHENEY: When I was secretary, we had basically a two-war strategy.
We had to maintain sufficient forces to be able to fight two wars at once.
He switched that. Now we are going to have a one-war strategy. And that`s
all being done as a rationale to justify further deep cuts in the defense
budget, so he can allocate that money to food stamps and whatever else he
wants to spend it on.


KORNACKI: And David Gregory asked President Clinton about that


Dick Cheney said of President Obama in an op-ed that claims that al Qaeda
is decimated is clearly not true, that in fact al Qaeda is on the march --
is on the march, the argument that America is less safe under President
Obama. Do you believe Dick Cheney is a credible critic on these matters?


if they hadn`t gone to war in Iraq, none of this would be happening.


CLINTON: So, I think...

GREGORY: It wouldn`t be happening in Syria? There wouldn`t be
terrorist actors?

CLINTON: Well, it might be happening in Syria. But what happened in
Syria wouldn`t have happened in Iraq. Iraq would not have been, in effect,
drastically altered as it has been.


KORNACKI: I got to say, when Iraq comes up, when the subject of Iraq
comes up and one of the Clintons is out there talking about it, Bill
Clinton in this case, I got to think, they love if it is framed as us vs.
Dick Cheney, if this is -- you can see going after Dick Cheney is pretty

But when it comes to the question of Iraq, and I`m going to talk to
this a little later in the show, but, Michelle, when Bill Clinton said if
they hadn`t gone to war, I can hear a lot of people listening to that and
saying they includes Hillary Clinton making the vote in 2002.


BERNARD: Absolutely. And that`s the sticking point.

Not only did Mrs. Clinton vote for it. She`s written extensively
about it in her book and she has had to come out and say that she made a
mistake. So, he`s sort of asking people to sort of relitigate --
relitigate his wife`s vote on the Iraq war.

Also, the former vice president pointed out, and correctly did so,
former President Clinton at one point in time made several comments about
the fact that the difference between Saddam Hussein and others was that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had shown in the past
that he was willing to use them. And Bill Clinton ordered military strikes
against certain units in -- White House Iraq when Saddam Hussein was still
running the country because he refused to work with U.N. inspectors.

It`s very muddy waters, muddy waters here. The audience loved hearing
what the president had to say. But it`s a problem for his wife.


KORNACKI: Do you think that the Democratic base still cares about

BERNARD: I don`t know what the Democratic base still cares about it.
What I believe is that the vast majority of the country that are in the
great center are tired of the finger-pointing on both sides and are
wondering, what we are going to do about the Middle East, if anything at
all, and how is this going to impact us here at home?

Are we in any way in threat or in jeopardy as we were after 9/11? And
to see both sides making jokes about who did what and when, I think, quite
frankly, is going to be a problem for both Democrats and Republicans going
into the midterms and going into 2016.

KORNACKI: All right. Michelle Bernard and Joe Watkins, thank you
both for joining us.

Up next, the bizarre story of the Republican congressional candidate
who was contesting his race -- get ready for this -- because he thinks the
guy who beat him has been dead for three years.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."

The U.S. seems have World Cup fever. But one FOX News guest thinks
this is a conveniently timed event to help President Obama. Listen to


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a little suspicious of yet another bread and
circus routine. Let`s roll out the marijuana, pull back the laws and get
people even more...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... crazy about another entertainment event.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s wrong with that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... a way to distract people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a very dark world -- world view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like Rome. This is like Rome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see why Obama would love the World Cup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you talking about?


KORNACKI: Of course, when Stephen Colbert saw that clip, he had his
own reaction. Watch.


Obama run for president? Every four years.


COLBERT: How often is there a World Cup? Every four years.


COLBERT: Now watch this. That doesn`t just happen.


COLBERT: And marijuana is clearly involved here, folks, because you
would have to be baked out of your gourd to be that paranoid.



KORNACKI: And that isn`t the only political conspiracy theory out
this week. A Republican candidate for Congress in Oklahoma is contesting
Tuesday`s primary results because he says the winner is dead.

Tim Murray said longtime Congressman Frank Lucas isn`t qualified for
office because he -- quote -- "is no longer alive and has been displayed by
a look-alike."

Murray explains on his campaign Web site that Lucas was -- quote --
"executed" by the World Court on or about January 11, 2011, in Southern


KORNACKI: Congressman Lucas replied by saying, he`s never even been
to Ukraine.

Believe it or not, despite all this, Murray still received more than 5
percent of the primary vote on Tuesday. At least we think it was Murray.
Election board officials received Murray`s complaint. But he`s not yet
formally fired a petition to contest the election.

Up next: Immigration reform isn`t happening this year -- why that
could be bad news for Republicans in 2016 and beyond.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


Here`s what`s happening.

Defense officials say armed drones are flying surveillance missions
over Baghdad. They`re providing air cover for American advisers now in
Iraq in the event they come under fire.

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Saudi Arabia for talks about
the turmoil in Iraq. He met with King Abdullah and the head of Syria`s
moderate opposition.

And Ukraine`s president signed a long-awaited trade deal with the E.U.
The country`s previous government backed away from that deal, sparking
months of unrest -- back to HARDBALL.

KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

One year after the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill with
bipartisan support, it looks like the chances for immigration -- an
immigration overhaul are over.

The headlines spell it out from "The Washington Post," "Immigration
Reform Effectively Dead Until After Obama Leaves Office, Both Sides Say,"
and in "The New York Times," "Bleak Prognosis From Both Sides of Aisle in
House for Immigration Overhaul."

House Republicans are standing in the way and most political
observers, including a lot of Republicans, believe that opposition will
hurt the party in the long run. In recent years, the Hispanic vote has
grown and has increasingly gone Democratic. Back in 2004, George W. Bush
made Republicans` biggest inroads when he got 44 percent of the Hispanic
votes, though he still trailed John Kerry.

In 2008, Barack Obama more than doubled John McCain`s share of the
Hispanic vote, winning 67 percent to McCain`s 31. And, in 2012, President
Obama got a whopping 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to just 27 percent
from Mitt Romney.

Republican strategist and former presidential campaign manager Steve
Schmidt puts the problem bluntly.


STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The math doesn`t work now for

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that`s a good point.

SCHMIDT: If you look at the states that just the Democrats have won
six out of the last six elections, there are 242 electoral votes, with 270
needed to win. And without exception, every single demographic group in
this country that`s growing, Democrats are gaining market share.

Every single demographic group in this country that`s shrinking,
Republicans are gaining market share. That is a profound marketing


KORNACKI: And Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration
group America`s Voice, says Republicans may regret their resistance to
immigration reform -- quote -- "This is going to be one of the factors that
that is going to lead to an electoral tsunami in 2016 that will not only
help Democrats take the White House and the Senate, but also to have a shot
at retaking the House."

Frank Sharry of America`s Voice joins me now, as well as Rachel
Smolkin. She`s the managing editor of Politico.

So, Frank, I`ll start with you. Just a quick question to set this up,
this new sort of conventional wisdom that we went over there at the top
that, hey, look, immigration reform now dead in Congress for the summer of
2014. Have the election this fall. It will probably be a decent for
Republicans. That`s certainly the expectation. So, no immigration reform
in `15 or `16. New president comes in after `16. We don`t know what
Congress will be. Realistically, that`s it. 2017, that is the most
realistic target to get reform done.

Do you agree with that assessment?


Well, as long as the House stays in Republican hands, we are not going
to have immigration reform. It was teed up for them to regain their
competitiveness with Latino and Asian voters. And they have squandered the

KORNACKI: Yes, so what -- that`s the next question, what happened?
Because I think we all remember right after the 2012 election, we looked at
the demographic numbers. We put them up there, 71-27 among Latino voters.
Republicans were shocked not only by the margin. They were shocked by the
number of non-white voters who showed up at the polls and said, OK, this is
the moment the Republican Party, if they don`t give on anything else, this
is the one thing they`re going to give on.

So, what happened? Why didn`t they give?

SHARRY: Well, they stopped focusing on 2012 and 2016 and got
mesmerized by 2014.

So, the idea among Republicans is, well, we`re going to have a good
election. Let`s maximize unity. Let`s not have a debate over a divisive
issue within our party. And then maybe we will do it next Congress or in
the future. So, it was a case of wishful thinking that, quite frankly, I
think imperils the GOP future.

KORNACKI: Well, and, so, Rachel, speak to the politics of this, if
you would, then, yes, because I think we all -- we all understand in 2014,
in midterm elections in general, that new Obama coalition, the rising
coalition, a lot of non-white voters, younger voters, the expectation it is
not going to turn out like 2012. So, this is a year when Republicans can
survive even if they don`t do anything on immigration.

But I wonder -- tell me if I`m wrong on this -- I suspect when I
listen to Republicans now, they also think they can survive in 2016. They
may think that the problem is longer-term than that. They look at 2016 and
they say President Obama is not on the ballot anymore. We don`t think
those people are going to show up in those numbers even in 2016. Are you
picking up on that?

RACHEL SMOLKIN, POLITICO: I think both sides tend to confuse national
politics with local politics.

Proponents of immigration reform did exactly that after the
presidential election, thinking that just because there was national
momentum nationally that somehow that would translate into local districts,
into congressional districts, which are not the same makeup as the nation
as a whole.

That was problem number one. But in turn, they may get caught into
too much of a local focus, too much of a district focus, where they are
going to need to head for 2016 is once more a national focus.

KORNACKI: So, what about this -- Frank, in terms of the momentum of
this dying in the last few weeks, we hear about like Eric Cantor losing his
primary in Virginia. And then this whole debate erupted about, well, was
immigration really the issue that drove him out of there?

And, by the way, Lindsey Graham is surviving in South Carolina at the
same time. But, again, from a practical political standpoint, did the
Cantor defeat, was that sort of the straw that broke the camel`s back in

SHARRY: It hurt.

I`m not sure they were going to do it anyway, but the Cantor defeat,
it destabilized leadership at a time when, if they were going to bust a
move, they really had to be unified and ready to move forward.

Honestly, I think though what Rachel said is true, that there`s
basically two-thirds of House Republicans that are in gerrymandered
districts who don`t want immigration reform. Two-thirds of Republican
senator voted against immigration reform.

KORNACKI: So, how do you ever -- how do you ever appeal to them?
Because we have seen now the argument of, hey, we lost 2012. The next
Republican nominee is not going to be able to limit it.

But if they are safe, how do you ever get the message across to them?
How can you ever create self-interest for them, I guess, is the question?

SHARRY: Well, the age of bipartisan immigration reform is over.

The fact is, is that we are going to press the president to use his
executive authority to protect as many immigrants as possible. And then we
are going to work like hell to try to elect House Republicans.

KORNACKI: Is he going to do -- so, is he going to do -- is he going
to do that now?

Because the other story we are talking about this week is the House
Republicans are suing him. They`re suing him because they`re saying he
uses his executive authority too much. They are trying to go to court over
this. Part of that probably is to forestall any immigration executive
action. Do you think he is going to go through with it now, in light of

SHARRY: I think he will go through it. I mean, of course, they are
trying to intimidate him. They understand that if Obama goes forward and
protects undocumented immigrants who shouldn`t be up for deportation, that
it`s going to cement the distinctions between the two parties. The
Republicans are going to be branded as the anti-immigrant party for a
generation and Democrats are going to be the party that delivers for

Given the fast growing Latino and Asian-American voter populations,
that`s a really bad move for the Republicans.

KORNACKI: And, Rachel, do you agree with what Frank is saying here,
that, you know, we have been with talking for a long time now, really going
back to the Bush presidency, maybe even earlier than that, about eventually
there`s going to have to be a bipartisan solution to this? You know,
Democrats are going to give on border security. Republicans are going to
give on some kind of legalization or a path to citizenship.

Has the ship sailed on that? Do you agree? Is this now something
Democrats are going to have to do unilaterally or it doesn`t happen at all?

RACHEL SMOLKIN, POLITICO: Certainly, that`s true for the rest of
President Obama`s presidency. It`s not going to happen in the Congress.
Maybe he can make some changes through executive actions, as controversial
as those are, there will be pressure on him to do that.

Then, we`ll have to look to the next presidency, whether that`s a
Democrat or whether the politics might change, the dynamics might change in
the Republican House if there is a Republican president. That remains to
be seen.

At some point, those national pressures are going to come to bear once
again. But the combination of everything we have seen leading up to this
moment, ending with Eric Cantor`s surprise loss and the record numbers of
children who are coming across the border has really put the nail in the
coffin of immigration reform at the moment.

KORNACKI: Well, this was I just -- I can still remember back right
after the election in 2012, I did not think in the middle of 2014, we`d be
here. More cynical people I guess did and they were right.

Anyway, thank you, Frank Sharry and Rachel Smolkin.

Up next, turns out that apart from their opposition to President
Obama, there`s not much Republicans agree on.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


KORNACKI: Mississippi`s Tea Party Senate candidate Chris McDaniel
continues to speak out about his defeat Tuesday night. In an interview
with a local TV station, McDaniel said the election wasn`t fair and he`s
gathering proof.


fair election. Activity was illegal, at worst. Unethical at best. We
can`t have elections like that and have the people maintain their
confidence in the system.


KORNACKI: McDaniel says his legal team is still investigating but so
far has found, quote, "hundreds of irregularities."

Also today, police in Mississippi said a state Tea Party official who
was one of four charged with conspiring to take photos of Senator Thad
Cochran`s bedridden wife inside a nursing home has apparently committed

We`ll be right back after this.


KORNACKI: We are back.

A new Pew Research study has some potentially alarming findings about
the state of the Republican Party. The study finds that the fractures
within the party`s most active supporters aren`t fractures at all. They
are chasms. It divides the GOP based into warring groups, business
conservatives and hardened, the Tea Party types, which the study calls
steadfast Republicans. Both are made up predominantly of white men.

Seventy-three percent of those steadfast conservatives are so far as
to label immigrants as burdens. Only 21 percent of business Republicans
agree. That`s a 52-point gap.

They are also wildly opposed on the issue of gay rights, with
steadfast Republicans overwhelming supportive of the state that
homosexuality should be discouraged. The business wing of the party
disagrees with that.

There`s also a 35-point gap when it comes to foreign policy, with 55
percent of those hardened Republicans saying that any foreign involvement
means bad news for the country.

What brings these groups together? Well, their dislike of the
president and anything having to do with government, as we`ve clearly seen
the party`s leaderships has responded to this problem by finding reasons to
do as little as it can on big issues. But how far will that take the

Perry Bacon is senior political reporter with NBC News, and Ryan Grim
is Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post".

So, Perry, let me -- let me start with you because I think what we
have here are numbers. Numbers that just explain, you know, sort of the
story of American politics since Republicans took over the House, really
since Barack Obama became president and no Republicans voted for the
stimulus in the House and only a couple of them did in the Senate. I mean,
this is the incentive system with numbers on it, right? When you look at
numbers like this, why would Republicans for their own survival cooperate
with the president on anything?

PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS: Those numbers are fascinating, Steve. They
tell you a lot of what`s happened in the last five years. Republicans
opposing everything Obama has done.

They also to me tell you a little bit of the future, too. Seventy-
three percent of these hard-core Republicans don`t want to see immigration
changes and consider immigrants a burden, 74 percent of them believe
homosexuality should be discouraged.

Think about that. You are the Republican nominee in 2016. You have
to somehow win the national vote while appealing to a group of voters who
are opposed to homosexuality and consider immigrants to be something they
don`t want in the country. And you have to get a majority with that.
Those are a huge challenge to balance out that faction with the rest of the

KORNACKI: Well, Ryan, let me ask you about that, because I get what
Perry is saying, and it makes sense. You look at some of these issues like
he says, you know, 73 percent on immigration, we know where the public
stands when you poll immigration reform and gay rights. There is a
majority support for gay marriage now, this isn`t even gay marriage. This
is just sort of being discouraged or encouraged by society, I guess.

So, Ryan, let me ask you this. When Barack Obama became president,
Democrats had the White House. They got 60 votes in the Senate. They had
an overwhelming majority in the House.

And today, Republicans have a big majority in the House that they`re
probably going to keep for the foreseeable future. They may take the
Senate this year. And as we just talk about, they think they can win the
White House in 2016. So, I would wonder if, you know, when Republicans
look at these numbers, you know, are they really that scared? Because
things haven`t gone that bad for them politically the last two years.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Right. And, also things have gone quite
well for them -- quite well for them economically. You know, what you laid
out is, you know, a best-case scenario for them. You know, if they could
accomplish all those things, that`d be great for them.

But really the worst-case scenario is that`s realistic, is that
they`re going to hold on to the House in November unless they shut down the
government in October or something like that, which is pretty unlikely.

And then in 2016, you know, it`s very difficult to see Democrats
taking over the House, even that year, unless there`s, you know, some huge
Hillary coattail or something along those lines. So, you know, even in the
worst-case scenario, they have enough power to block change which is what
kind of both of those camps of the GOP want.

So, you know, it`s not actually as discouraging from that perspective
as you might think at first.

KORNACKI: And what about this tension, Perry, between -- they`re
calling this the steadfast GOP. I`d say it`s sort of the Tea Party,
although they don`t apparently identify with the Tea Party. But the
steadfast GOP on the one hand, the business GOP on the other hand. So,
you`ve got the money on the one hand and the energy on the other hand.

I think we saw this week in Mississippi, those two groups can really
kind of -- they can`t necessarily co-exist all the time.

BACON: They really didn`t. I was in Mississippi. You`ve seen the
dispute that not only came Monday, Tuesday, but it spilled out this week as
well. The Tea Party folks felt like it`s an outrage.

How could you bring in these black Democrats into vote in our primary?
This is about us being, or picking the most conservative person. The
business wing of the party, the kind of Haley Barbour, the establishment
wing, they view everything in terms of winning and their view was we want
to get over line and win this election. We will bring in Democrats. He
will bring in whoever we want to.

And that`s a real core difference. That`s the difference between sort
of a real purist part of the party and a real part of the party that thinks
about winning more than anything else. That division is going to come
through again. That`s why Mitt Romney in 2012 had to say he was so opposed
to immigration reform to get the nomination.

The question is not is a Tea Party president going to win the
nomination in 2016, but probably more how much does an establishment person
have to appeal to the Tea Party to get the nomination in the first place?

KORNACKI: Well, so, Ryan, you know, one area of agreement between
these two wings, you know, what is the disapproval rating for President
Obama? And you can see it up there, 94 percent for Republicans -- among
the steadfast GOP, 96 percent among the business GOP. I guess I wonder --
you can see some of the other ones up there, too. I guess I wonder how
much of this can get resolved within the Republican Party simply by
President Obama leaving office? When that`s the biggest source of
agreement there?

GRIM: Well, if he`s replaced by Hillary Clinton, then they have
another boogie woman there. You know, a lot of people define themselves by
what they`re opposed to. That`s not unique to Republicans or either of
these groups here. So they could just continue to define themselves based
on their opposition to Hillary Clinton.

KORNACKI: Right. Yes, that`s what he saw, too. I mean, when Bill
Clinton was president in the 1990s, I imagine those numbers were about the

But, anyway, sorry, we`re out of time. I want to thank Perry Bacon
and Ryan Grim. Appreciate the time.

When we return, why a short memory can be useful in politics.


KORNACKI: And, finally, let me finish tonight with the war of words
between Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney over Iraq.

We showed the video earlier. The former president tell an audience in
Denver this week that if they, that`s meaning Cheney and Bush, hadn`t gone
to war in Iraq, none of this sectarian violence and chaos would be playing
out right now.

What stuck out to me was what happened when Bill Clinton said that.
The crowd erupted in cheers. I know, this was a Clinton audience. It was
at a CGI event. These are Clinton fans.

But you could also read it as the Democratic base. For anyone who
remembers the 2008 primaries, this made it a noteworthy moment -- a
Democratic audience cheering a Clinton on the subject of Iraq. Because, of
course, Iraq was more than any other issue, the one that stopped Hillary in
2008, the one that gave purpose to Barack Obama`s campaign that ruined what
everyone started out assuming would be an easy Clinton restoration.

Hillary and Bill, for that matter, could criticize Cheney and Bush all
they wanted over the conduct of the war in 2008, but always the question
kept coming back. OK, how come you voted for it?

Hillary had no good answer for that. She couldn`t bring herself to
say it was a mistake. The thing is, all these years later, she still
hasn`t really answered the question. In her new book, she does use the
word "mistake" to describe her 2002 vote for the Iraq War resolution. But
she insists she didn`t think she was actually voting for the war. That all
she was doing was giving George W. Bush a diplomatic tool.

That was then 12 years, I know, but I remember that 2002 vote well,
and no one thought it was anything other than a major step in the march to
war in Iraq. Both Clintons, though, have had a difficult relationship with
the subject of Iraq and war for a long time now.

Back in 1991, when the first President Bush was about to launch the
first Gulf War, Bill Clinton was gearing up to run for president. Bush
went to Congress for authorization. The debate was intense. The vote was
close. Most Democrats were against it.

Back in Arkansas, Clinton tried to avoid taking the position until
finally on the eve of the war, after Congress had authorized it, he was put
on the spot. Quote, "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it
was a close vote," he said, "But I agree with the arguments the minority

Of course, the First Gulf War ended up being the, quote/unquote, "good
Gulf War". We kicked Saddam out of Kuwait, we didn`t take many casualties,
we stayed out of Baghdad, and we came home fast. There were parades after
that war. Bush`s approval rating soared.

And only then did Clinton boasting that he`d been for the war from the
beginning, became one of his selling points, in fact, when he beat Bush in
1992. Memory of how easy the `91 Gulf War was or at least how easy it
seemed probably shaped the decisions of a lot of members of Congress when
that 2002 vote came up.

Maybe Hillary was one of them. It`s tough to say. It still feels
like we haven`t gotten a full accounting of why exactly she casts that vote
and what she`s learned from the war.

Maybe, we`ll never get one. Six years passed since 2008. Memories
fade. Questions get forgotten. Grudges tend to fizzle out. Bill Clinton
got those heads nodding and got that crowd cheering this week by pinning
the war only on Bush and Cheney.

All these years later, maybe the Democrats are done blaming anyone

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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