July 7, 2014
Guest: Denise Lieberman, Bryan Perlmutter, Elijah Cummings, Jason
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Now sell it!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with something that`s been bothering me. It`s about
the Democrats. It`s about the president who, whether he likes to say so or
not, is a Democrat. Why are you people so bad at the sales pitch? Why
can`t you sell yourself, even when you`re delivering the goods?
Excuse me for saying so, but we`ve got a new monthly jobs report showing an
upsurge at almost 300,000 new jobs. We`ve got a winning streak now of five
months with over 200,000 new jobs every 30 days. We`ve got an auto
industry that competes now robustly in the world. We`ve got a stock market
that`s nearly tripled since Obama`s been president, a jobless rate heading
down to half what it was the year he started.
And what do we hear from the Democrats? Woe is me. Oh, we got trouble in
River City. Oh, my Lord, the sky is falling.
Look, I grew up watching and hearing a Democratic Party cheer for this
country. I heard a Franklin Roosevelt running for office with "Happy Days
Are Here Again," JFK bopping to Sinatra`s "High Hopes." What is it about
these Democrats today? They remind me of Al Gore refusing to take pride in
the Clinton economic success and losing because of it, spending all that
time talking about something called the "lockbox" and forgetting to even
mention the good times that Bill Clinton had brought us.
Why, please explain, are Democrats the country`s Debbie Downers? And this
president has the least reason to join that club. Of course, there are
people having a hard time. And of course, the good news isn`t reaching
everyone. But do you think talking up failure is going to help the
consumers have confidence, the business leaders to have guts? Do you think
it will make people worse off feel better if you prowl the country
spreading this endless talk of, Gee whiz, I wish it wasn`t so? Do you
really think misery loves company?
As for Secretary Clinton, I have some exact message -- the same exact
message with a little -- with a little value added because you still have
one or two, even perhaps two big elections to win now. If you think it`s
smart to put down this president`s economic record, check back with how
that worked our for Al Gore when he shrunk from cheering for Bill Clinton`s
economic record, when he ran on fear and failure, rather than progress and
success. Instead, he let it get so close and let the Supreme Court steal
it away from him.
If you don`t blow your own horn, Mr. President, don`t expect someone else
to do it for you. Be a Democrat. Be a job creator, Mr. President. And
please take joy in your work. They`re the kind of leaders we like, the
kind we like to follow and to trust.
Ed Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania. Harold Ford was a congressman
from Tennessee. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Here are some numbers, gentlemen. According to the latest job numbers, as
I said, 288,000 new jobs were added in June. That marks five consecutive
months, as I said, of job growth over 200,000 per month. The last time
that happened was in `99 or 2000. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate, which
peaked in October of 2009 at 10 percent, is down to 6.1 this June. The
stock market, as I said, has tripled in the last five years. On March 9,
2009, it was at a low of 6,500. Today it`s over 17,000.
There`s also the auto industry, of course, which the president saved. A
December study by the Center for Automotive Research said the bailout of
the auto industry, which the president sponsored in 2009, has saved 1.5
million real, high-paying jobs.
Harold, I want you to start first, Congressman. And tell me if the -- just
my point. What good is it being Debbie Downer? This president is not
connecting to his own good work. I don`t get it.
HAROLD FORD (D), FMR. TENNESSEE CONGRESSMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I
agree with you. I think not only there, but I think you can talk about the
amazing energy renaissance and the manufacturing growth in the country.
There are a number of stories that can be told.
But there are probably one or two caveats that concern the president. I
think you can appreciate it, although it shouldn`t overwhelm or prevent him
from bragging about what he`s been able to accomplish. One, the labor
participation rate in these -- in these studies, these statistics, rather,
about unemployment is a little down. The wage growth is a little down.
If I were president, I would ask whomever wrote -- if you wrote that intro,
I`d take that intro and I`d begin touting and trumpeting it around the
country. And I`d add one thing to it. Our next phase and next part of
this growth effort is to ensure that we do what Ed Rendell has been talking
about for two years, three years, rebuilding America, strengthening our
infrastructure. And two, we`ve got to create jobs that raise wages. We`ve
got to restore what we know as the American middle class and bring back
But I would say to Republicans, if I were Barack Obama, We have done
amazing things in spite of you. Just think if you worked with us just one
half of the way, one quarter of the way, amazing things we could do to help
grow wages and grow jobs and get more people participating in this labor
MATTHEWS: This president, Governor, didn`t run on the platform nor the
portrait of "nope." He ran on the portrait of hope. That was what he was
for. And for some reason, he`s very good at the nope. He`ll tell you what
isn`t getting done. He`ll tell you what he`s not getting done with the
Republicans. He`ll complain.
And yet I don`t see him bringing together the common sense attitude, which
is, You want something to work, you sell it. You sell every bit of it, and
then hope it gets better. You tell the Republicans we`re creating real
jobs. Let`s create some higher-paying jobs. Let`s get the highway bill
signed. Let`s get going with infrastructure. We`re on the road.
I think Republican business guys get together and talk down the economy
among each other so they can justify their chicken behavior in terms of
investment. Your thoughts.
ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Chris, I
think you`re absolutely right and Harold`s right. The president should --
they`ve done a -- from the beginning, they have not done a good job
spinning their accomplishments. The stimulus was a success.
RENDELL: The stimulus saved the country two million jobs. The stimulus
created a lot of growth. It did wonders for the infrastructure. It had a
lot of good programs, far-reaching programs. But they got outspun by the
Republicans, and they didn`t talk about the successes. They didn`t market
They gave the tax break to Americans, and nobody knew they got a tax break
from stimulus. I would have sent a letter out signed by Tim Geithner
saying, Here`s your check from President Obama`s tax cut as part of the
They`ve done a good job suddenly (ph) in many areas. And you outlined it
very well. The economy`s doing great. Interest rates are low, one thing
you didn`t mention, almost historically low at a time of growth. And what
they should do is what Harold suggested, talk about the good stuff and then
pivot and say, But I know there are wage -- wages aren`t as good as they
should be. They haven`t grown as fast. We`ve got to do more about that.
Pivot off the good stuff. But start with the good stuff and then say what
we need to get accomplished. And then challenge the Republicans.
Challenge them to pass a real infrastructure bill. Infrastructure used to
be a Republican -- basic core of the Republican philosophy.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this. You`re historic (ph). You grew up
in a Democratic family, Congressman. You know this from many generations,
this tradition of the Democrats being the upbeat, forward-looking party.
Here it is. Look at the presidents been (ph) able to cheer the country and
inspire it, bring confidence during troubled economies. President
Roosevelt during the worst time adapted the upbeat song "Happy Days Are
Here Again" as his campaign thing (ph) -- imagine that, "Happy Days Are
Here Again" in 1932? And it played for him again in 1936. Let`s listen to
that, that point.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): Happy days are here again, the skies above
are clear again. Let us sing a song of cheer again. Happy days are here
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It gets a little more upbeat there, a little more mournful than
that first rendition.
Anyway, meanwhile, Frank Sinatra -- Frank, the chairman himself, altered
the lyrics of "High Hopes" for Jack Kennedy in `60. Let`s (INAUDIBLE) This
is the Democratic spirit, not a billion years ago. But here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): Everyone is voting for Jack because he`s got
what all the rest lack. Everyone wants to back Jack. Jack is on the right
track because he`s got high hopes, he`s got high hopes, 1960`s the year for
his high hopes...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So I wonder what the campaign song of this president is. I
can`t even hear it. Anyway, President Ronald Reagan even touted the
improving economy by declaring it was "morning in America." Remember?
Republicans can do this. At least one did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s morning again in America. Today, more men and
women will go to work than ever before in our country`s history. With
interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000
families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman, you know more about the business community than I
do. You work with those guys. You know them there. My question is, why
doesn`t the president even run ads like this? Why don`t they sell the fact
that, Look, the unemployment rate is down, but most importantly, the stock
market. If you`ve got a 401(k), it`s almost tripled. If W. had -- little
W. had done it, he`d be jumping off the ceiling. The Republicans would be
going crazy. They`d be morning in America, it`s heaven on earth, just the
same exact numbers.
And the Democrats go, Oh, I guess it`s better for some people, but I don`t
want to brag, it might be untoward. They got to get off of this! The
people who at the bottom are not happier because the president`s more
miserable. It doesn`t work that way. You got to be Hubert Humphrey. You
got to be FDR. You got to be Jack Kennedy. You got to sell it, sell it,
sell it because then it makes the Republicans out of tune with the public.
Instead, the Republicans sell bad news all the time in the boardroom and
they talk down consumer confidence, talk down investor confidence. And it
works politically because even though they don`t have a candidate yet, they
think they can get the White House back.
FORD: You know, I agree with just about everything you said. I think one
thing to remember as this conversation is unfolding is that there has been
somewhat of an adversarial relationship between the broader business
community, certainly specifically the Wall Street community or the banking
community, with this White House. At least, the perception has been there.
And maybe the White House in some ways may be reluctant to brag about these
things because they might feel they`re touting and trumpeting the horn of
big business in ways. But what I hope will happen is that...
MATTHEWS: Explain that, Congressman. Explain to me why selling a better
economy makes the fat cats happier than they should be.
FORD: No, no...
MATTHEWS: They`re already fat cats.
FORD: That`s -- no, no. No, no. That`s not what I`m saying.
MATTHEWS: They`re already rich. They know they`re rich.
FORD: That`s not what...
MATTHEWS: You don`t have to -- yes, go ahead. I`m sorry.
FORD: That`s not what I`m saying. I`m not saying that. I`m saying the
opposite side. I think there`s some reluctance on the part of the White
House. In a lot of ways, when you look at these numbers that have come out
the last several years, particularly the last six months, the real winners
in this economy have been those earning over a quarter of a million dollars
a year because they`re more likely to have been invested in the markets.
MATTHEWS: Well, why not everybody with a 401(k)? You`re in the business
of finance. Everybody...
FORD: I`m not -- sometimes we get bogged down talking about Wall Street.
I`m talking about the business community, the larger business community,
have been big, big winners under this administration. They should be --
the business community should be out touting what this administration has
MATTHEWS: Why aren`t they?
FORD: Well, in some ways, I -- what I was trying to get at, Chris -- I
think there`s a little bit of an adversarial relationship. Whether it`s
fair or not or it should be the case or not, that is the case. But that
should not prevent this president...
MATTHEWS: Why do they want to pee on his parade? Why are they peeing on
FORD: I don`t answer -- I can`t answer on behalf of the entire business
community, but I would argue, if I were president, I`d start off tomorrow
morning doing exactly what you did at the start of this show. At a
minimum, you would shame some of the business community to support him
more. And more importantly, he would remind the broader electorate of the
things that we`ve been able to do as a country.
And all the things the Republicans said would happen if Obama`s economic
plan, health plan passed, how terrible it would be for the country -- the
president has stats and numbers now to show that, indeed, is not only wrong
but completely wrong.
FORD: And to call on Republicans to work with him in ways that they have
not in the past.
MATTHEWS: OK. it`s great to hear from both of you. Governor Rendell, as
always, good luck with every -- by the way, you look great. You look
RENDELL: Thanks. .
MATTHEWS: Now, don`t you feel better than if I said you look tired?
MATTHEWS: See, you really do look great, but it`s like the American
people. If the president says, You all look tired out there -- how about,
You look great out there? It just gets your day going a little more.
RENDELL: No question about it.
MATTHEWS: A little more upbeat Ed Rendell mentality and Harold Ford
mentality, rather than this, Gee whiz, I got to go to work today. Being
president`s a really cool job, Mr. President. You should really like it.
FORD: There`s not a job in America.
MATTHEWS: No. You were -- you were on the road there. You may be back on
that road again some day.
Anyway, coming up, the new frontier in the fight for the right to vote.
It`s not the old that are getting hit right now, but the young college
students. They`re out there arguing in court just today that North
Carolina`s voter ID laws are specifically designed to keep the young
college age people from voting. That`s because they`re afraid they`ll vote
Also, that lawsuit that John Boehner, the speaker, is pursuing against
President Obama over his executive orders -- Boehner hasn`t named one
action he thinks is unconstitutional, not one. And some on the right, even
on the right, thinks it`s all a stunt, a gimmick that could hurt
Republicans down the road.
And what does a liberal black urban Democrat from Maryland have are in
common with a white rural Republican from Utah? Well, nothing except that
they`re actually working together to get something, anything done. Elijah
Cummings, a big fan of this show -- actually, a big friend of the show, and
Jason Chaffetz, who`s also been here, join us tonight.
Finally, when Dorothy came back to Kansas from Oz, she famously said,
"There`s no place like home." Try telling that to Senator Pat Roberts of
Kansas. He hasn`t been home much.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Republicans are quick to blame President Obama for the horror
we`re watching over in Iraq, but the American people are not. Listen to
this. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 58 percent of American voters
say President Obama`s decision to withdraw from Iraq was the right thing to
do. Sixty-one percent say that George W. Bush`s decision to invade Iraq
back in `03 was the wrong thing to do. And a majority, 51 percent, today
say they blame Bush, not Obama, for what`s going on over there.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`re going to take a look now at the
latest frontier in partisan -- that means Republican -- efforts to limit
access to the voting booth. The slogan "Old enough to vote, old enough" --
I`m sorry -- "Old enough to fight, old enough to vote" became a battle cry
in the push to lower the voting age from 21 down to 18. The fact that 18-
year-olds were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam war heightened the
urgency of lowering the voting age back then.
And here you see student protesters marching with signs that say "Support
the 18-year-old vote." In fact, back in 1970, the push for a
constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 was supported by
even conservative senator Barry Goldwater, who David Brinkley at the time
for NBC reported extolled the virtues of young voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BRINKLEY, NBC NEWS: Senator Goldwater endorsed the vote for 18-year-
olds, saying the president -- the present young generation is splendid,
falsely portrayed by liberal journalists as what he called unclean, vile-
tongued, rock-throwing, campus-storming, street-rioting hoodlums and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, support (ph) the lower -- the lowered voting age was
powerful back then. Of course, in July of 1971, President Nixon signed the
26th Amendment into law, making 18 the age to vote. The amendment reads,
by the way, "Further, the right of citizens of the United States who are 18
years of age or older to vote shall not be denied" -- catch this -- "or
abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age."
Repeat that word out of the Constitution -- "or abridged." Now that right
is at risk right now in North Carolina. In recent years, we`ve done a lot
of stories about voter disenfranchisement, including down in North
Carolina, including gimmicks like shortening early voting periods and
eliminating same-day registration. Well, now young voters in North
Carolina are joining forces with groups like the NAACP and the ACLU to
protect their rights, particularly for young voters.
Look at these restrictions. In 2016, voters down there in North Carolina
will need to show a photo ID. Student ID cards, even from state
universities like Chapel Hill, will not be acceptable. And the North
Carolina law eliminates a program where teens who pre-register to vote when
they reach 16 or 17 are automatically registered to vote when they get to
Young voters and civil rights groups have brought a lawsuit against the
state of North Carolina, and today a hearing -- today -- is being held on
whether to delay the North Carolina voter law until a judge decides whether
or not it`s constitutional.
Bryan Perlmutter`s the director of Ignite N.C., a youth organization
focused on voting rights in North Carolina. He graduated from N.C. State
last year. Also joining me is Denise Lieberman -- is it Lieberman, I guess
-- senior attorney at the Advancement Project, who`s representing
plaintiffs in the case against North Carolina.
So Denise, give me the info right now. What are they up to down there?
Just give me the raw politics. Why are they trying to stop young people 18
to 21, young adults, from voting?
DENISE LIEBERMAN, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Thank you. Today, plaintiffs
went to court to seek an injunction to block the provisions of North
Carolina`s voter suppression law that seeks to affect a broad swath of
voters in North Carolina, young voters, voters of color through the
provisions, including the voter ID provision that blocks student
identification, but a wide range of other provisions, as well, that hamper
and abridge the right to vote at every step of the voting process, from the
registration table to the voting booth to having those votes counted.
This law abridges the right to vote by eliminating same-day registration,
by eliminating successful pre-registration programs for 16- and 17-year-
olds that were found to have a disparate use by young voters of color to
get them engaged in the voting process.
This law also eliminates a week out of the early voting period and numerous
other provisions that the state does not dispute have been more widely used
by voters of color and have been largely responsible for expanding access
to the voting booth.
MATTHEWS: Bryan, talk about this from your age group. You`re 23 years --
23 years old. Tell me about what this means to you, what this new law has
meant to you and your classmates, your peer group.
BRYAN PERLMUTTER, N.C. VOTE DEFENDERS: Yes, and I think it is really
important to understand just how many people that this new law will affect,
and how much important an injunction is.
And so there is a report by Democracy North Carolina that was published in
2012 that 150,000 people -- over 150,000 16- and 17-year-olds used the
provision that allowed them to pre-register when they were 16 and 17 years
And then during early voting in 2012, when we had same-day registration, 42
percent of people that used same-day registration were under the age of 30.
And so not only have we eliminated same-day registration and eliminated
making it the pre-registration for 16-, 17-year-olds, right?
With these provisions completely gone, it`s clearly intentional that the
new law is going to disenfranchise young people.
MATTHEWS: Why is a student I.D. card considered not reliable? Why -- what
is their case against using -- say you go to Chapel Hill or you go to N.C.
State. If you have a student I.D. card, that`s good enough. Why isn`t
that good enough for voting? What`s their problem with that?
LIEBERMAN: That`s exactly the point. There is absolutely no reason that
is legitimate, that is nondiscriminatory that has been proffered by the
state for why these restrictions exist, other than the obvious conclusion
that the legislature knew that the impact would be to harm young voters,
particularly young voters of color. And that`s the intent that they had in
passing this law.
MATTHEWS: Well, why is a gun license good enough, but not a UNC license --
why is a gun license good, not a UNC license -- a not a UNC student card?
What`s the -- who would have a gun license? You mean they assume right-
wingers have guns, Denise?
LIEBERMAN: These are -- that`s right.
I -- these are cards that -- there is no -- there is no explanation. And
that`s exactly the argument that we raised in court today, that the state
has offered no explanation, other than that voters need to have confidence
in the voting process.
It seems to me that when we restrict measures that have been shown to be
successful at expanding access to the vote for groups that have
traditionally been left out of the vote, that that doesn`t increase
confidence in voting process. That decreases it.
And you have a great example with the student I.D. cards, cards that are
issued by the state of North Carolina. What possible reason could there be
that these cards are less reliable than other cards?
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
LIEBERMAN: But the broader point is that there was no evidence that this
identification is necessary at all.
The legislature had no evidence before it that voter fraud was a problem.
The legislature knew this. And what they also knew was that young voters
and voters of color were disproportionately far more likely to lack one of
the forms of I.D. that they included on their very narrow list.
MATTHEWS: Well, restrictive voting laws, we`re talking about all across
the country, but right now in North Carolina, appear to be aimed at solving
a problem that doesn`t exist. And this is a point that has to be made.
Perhaps unintentionally, Republicans are making it too. A Republican
lawmaker was quoted in "The New York Times." Catch this. Jeff Tarte, a
Republican state senator down there who supported the voter I.D. law, said
lawmakers didn`t intend to keep younger voters away from the polls. He
said they were trying to prevent students are from submitting absentee
ballots in their home states and also voting in North Carolina, not that
they would necessarily do it, he said, but why even offer that possibility
Now, Bryan, to you. I`m trying to think of what sort of weird person would
risk a felony charge by voting in, say, North Carolina when they are from
Virginia, voting in both states, even though it hasn`t happened year, and
that`s their excuse for why you can`t use, say, a Virginia driver`s license
if you`re basically enrolled at Chapel Hill or N.C. State for four years
and are voting down there.
PERLMUTTER: Yes, it seems like every week, there is a new reason or
something falls out of the sky on justification for passing this new law.
And it`s ridiculous. And there is no evidence. There`s no precedent.
Students and young people and people of color need to be able to access the
ballot boxes, as one of the pillars of democracy and a way to express their
voice. And these measures are just ridiculous. And they`re making it
harder for young people to vote. They`re making it harder for people of
color to vote.
And it`s intentional. And there is a legal battle going on right now
that`s so important to this case. And there`s also folks all over the
state that are passing out wallet cards from Democracy North Carolina and
giving folks access and information to the ballot box. But this law is
MATTHEWS: And just to remind everybody, for the constitutionalists out
there on the right, center and left, we`re all constitutionalists -- this
is the 26th Amendment again.
"The right of citizens of the United States who are 18 years of old -- of
age or older to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
or by any state on account of age."
Couldn`t be clearer. Strict construction. Let these young people vote.
Thank you, Bryan Perlmutter and thank you, Denise Lieberman. You are on
the right side of history.
And here`s a tip. When you`re running for reelection, don`t admit you only
come home when you are in a tough race. And that`s what one Republican
senator has just done. And that`s coming up where it belongs, in the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Republican Senator Pat Roberts may represent the state of Kansas, but
critics of the 78-year-old incumbent are challenging his residency in the
state, saying he`s got deeper roots in Washington than he does in Kansas.
Roberts, who is facing a Tea Party challenger in next month`s primary,
acknowledged this January that he rents out the house he owns in Dodge
City, but stays with campaign contributors when he is visiting the state so
he can vote there.
He even joked to "The New York Times" that -- quote -- "I have full access
to the recliner."
But the residency issue gained more traction after "USA Today" reported
that Roberts spent just a total of 97 days in the state of Kansas between
July 2011 and August 2013. And now, just a month before the primary,
Roberts has compounded his problem further. In a radio interview Thursday,
Roberts may have inadvertently revealed the real reason he`s trying to
reconnect with Kansas voters.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we are asking is, why don`t you live here now,
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Well, I own a home in Dodge City. I have a
residence there in Dodge City. I pay taxes there, and I vote there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, you don`t -- you`re not answering the question.
Why don`t you live here, though?
ROBERTS: You know, we have declared Dodge our residency. Our kids went to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gotcha.
ROBERTS: Every time I get an opponent -- I mean, every time I get a
chance, I`m home.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Every time he has an opponent, he goes home. Sounds like a
Freudian slip to me.
Anyway, next up, the Fourth of July celebration in Norfolk, Nebraska,
turned ugly on a Saturday -- on Saturday, after a crude anti-Obama float
was included in the city`s Independence Day parade.
A flatbed truck carrying a full-sized outhouse bearing the label "Obama
Presidential Library" was cited along the parade route, elicited disgust,
as it should have, for many spectators trying to celebrate the national
While defenders of the float called it an example of political satire, the
city`s parade committee will meet to consider banning similar floats in the
Up next, John Boehner`s lawsuit against President Obama -- for what it`s
worth, even some on the right are calling it a stunt.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Here`s what`s happening. Eleven people were killed in shootings over the
long holiday weekend in Chicago; 67 people were injured. Some of the
incidents involved police.
The White House says most of the children crossing the U.S. border alone
will not be allowed to stay in the U.S. because they won`t qualify for
And heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of the Midwest along the
Mississippi River. Rising waters shut down two bridges. And more rain is
expected to make that situation even worse -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you planning to initiate a lawsuit against the Obama
administration and President Obama over his use of executive actions?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am. The Constitution
makes it clear that a president`s job is to faithfully execute the laws.
And, in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We are back.
That`s of course House Speaker John Boehner just two weeks ago announcing
his intentions to file a lawsuit against President Obama for what he calls
his executive bad actions.
Anyway, President Obama responded last week. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Middle-class families can`t
wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So, sue me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "So, sue me."
And last night in an op-ed that he got into CNN.com -- I guess he couldn`t
get it anywhere else -- Speaker Boehner doubled down on his intention to
bring legal action against the president.
He wrote, again on CNN.com, if you read it: "Too often over the past five
years, the president has circumvented the American people and their elected
representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own
laws and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold.
In the end, the constitution makes it clear that the president`s job is to
faithfully execute the laws. And in my view, the president has not
faithfully executed the laws when it comes to a range of issues, including
his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education."
But as NBC`s "First Read" points out, yet again, not once has Boehner
actually outlined a specific example of Obama breaking the law or even
violating the Constitution. He can`t find anything wrong with what he`s
done, but he`s still doing it. He`s still suing.
Anyway, Howard Fineman is editorial director of the Huffington Post Media
Group and an MSNBC political analyst. And David Corn is Washington bureau
chief for "Mother Jones," also an MSNBC prized political analyst.
Is this -- let me be completely cynical.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: One day -- one day, his deputy, the number two guy from
Virginia, gets blown away. Right?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Cantor.
MATTHEWS: The next day, he sues the president.
MATTHEWS: Is this something...
CORN: Nothing to do with it.
MATTHEWS: Is something to do with self-protection on the hard right --
from the hard right?
FINEMAN: Yes. And I say that for a couple of reasons.
First of all, Chris, if you read the letter that -- or the op-ed that
Boehner wrote, he frames everything there in political terms, in terms of
the president ignoring his job, ignoring the people, not passing jobs
measures, ignoring all the things that the House did to try to pass jobs
measures, which have nothing to do with the constitutional arguments.
So, he frames it politically. The other thing is, having studied this,
it`s a very, very long shot, if not completely improbable, to file this
kind of suit. You have to have real people with real controversies, not
one constitutional branch of government suing another.
FINEMAN: There is no case exactly like...
MATTHEWS: There is no case like this, exactly like this, in which the
Congress as an institution, which is what Boehner is proposing to do, the
Congress as an institution walks into court. First you have to imagine
MATTHEWS: Who its lawyer going to be?
FINEMAN: The Congress -- the Congress walks into court and sues the
president. It doesn`t work that way.
FINEMAN: There is impeachment. There is impeachment or election. Those
are the ways you do this.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Arlen Specter discovered that.
FINEMAN: Those are the ways you do this.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.
Is this going to be like when you watch television during the morning time,
the boring time sometimes, over the weekend, when you get these
advertisements from these law firms?
MATTHEWS: Did you suffer an injury at work? Call this number.
CORN: Oh, listen, I believe that, before this is over, there will be a hot
line set up by the House of Republicans. Tell us your constitutional
horror story about Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Legal relief.
CORN: Now, the thing is...
MATTHEWS: But ,seriously, can he go to court on this? Howard -- Howard
says he can`t to court.
FINEMAN: It`s highly improbable.
CORN: But -- but given this court, which is now giving the rights of
personhood when it comes to religious freedoms...
MATTHEWS: OK. Will they give it to the House of Representatives?
CORN: They might give -- but -- but the question is, if he thinks he has
to do it with a House vote, it may not even pass the House, because a
CORN: It`s not impeachment.
But then does he have to get the Senate to vote for it, too, in order to...
MATTHEWS: Proposition. He`s doing this because he`s scared to death that
he will be Cantorized, he will be finished like that guy.
He has to appeal to the right, but yet he knows going toward impeachment is
a little too nutty.
FINEMAN: He can save that for later.
CORN: Yes. Yes.
FINEMAN: That`s for -- that`s for next year. He is throwing -- he has
opened up the cage and tossed...
MATTHEWS: So, where is he going to end up, though? Are we supposed to
forget about this?
CORN: But that`s the problem, because...
MATTHEWS: Once you open this door...
CORN: ... he`s getting the base riled up.
Now, a lot of the base is unsatisfied because it`s not impeachment. So,
you may get 30, 40 members of the House who don`t vote for this, because
it`s not impeachment. But he`s going to say, you know, I`m going to do
this -- it may not happen or if it does happen and it doesn`t work, that
he`s really have to take the next step, which is impeachment.
He said, you know, it`s riding the tiger that got him in. He doesn`t know
how to ride this tiger without the tiger eventually taking over and
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: What I detect here, though, is an attempt
by some people around him and strategists, to try to frame this in terms of
the president is ignoring the people. Republicans are using this to try to
create a metaphor for the election season about the president, that he`s
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Here`s the guy on the hard right, Erick
Erickson, he`s RedState.com, he called Boehner`s lawsuit an election year
stunt, he did and a waste of taxpayer`s money. Quote, "I realize John
Boehner and the House Republicans may lack the testicular fortitude to
fight President Obama. But I would kindly ask that he save the taxpayers
further money on a political stunt solely designed to incite Republican
voters who might otherwise stay home given the establishment`s bungling of
Mississippi and abandonment of the constitutionally derived powers. John
Boehner`s lawsuit is nothing more than political theater and a further
Republican waste of taxpayer dollars."
CORN: You know, the Tea Party doesn`t want a lawsuit. They`re not out on
the streets with their hats --
MATTHEWS: They`re not litigious.
CORN: -- and their "don`t thread on me" saying we want a lawsuit.
No, they want to win to either win elections like in Mississippi or they
want to see impeachment in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a question, personal question? When will John
Boehner, who I do not dislike, I come from a back ground like him. It`s
just like, I know this guy. He`s -- when is going to have his Bulworth
moment and just throw off the mask and say this --
FINEMAN: I don`t I think -- I think -- I think that John Boehner`s inner
Bulworth is countermanded by John Boehner`s survival instincts, OK? And as
David says and as you point out, what he`s doing here is he`s doing
something intermediate that he thinks will help --
MATTHEWS: Get him through the night.
FINEMAN: Get him through the night. Get him through the 2014 elections.
And as far as Erick Erickson and others who might want impeachment are
concerned, he`ll wait on that and he`ll have that in reserve.
In the meantime, this is so complex.
MATTHEWS: This is why people don`t believe in politics.
FINEMAN: They could be too smart by half here, Chris, because getting
involved in this kind of litigiousness is just the kind of thing that
doesn`t play well with average voters. And while some might like it, a lot
of middle of the road voters may not.
CORN: Listen, there is nobody who likes this. Independents don`t like
lawsuits. The Tea Party wouldn`t like this. I don`t know --
MATTHEWS: Tort reform.
CORN: Maybe he`s playing to 20 members of the House, and that`s it.
MATTHEWS: This is the kind of Mickey Mouse that what goes on in third
world countries before they have a coup, because people are just sick of
it. Anyway, we won`t have one because we`re America.
Howard Fineman and David Corn, you`re both right.
Up next, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings is a friend of this show
and Jason Chaffetz, who has been here before. They are doing something we
have see much in Congress. They are working together to maybe get
something done. And they are coming here next, both live.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics -- good politics.
MATTHEWS: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to be the
counterweight to the National Rifle Association in this year`s midterm
elections. Bloomberg`s group Everytown for Gun Safety has begun surveying
candidates for the House and Senate to see where they stand on issues like
expanded background checks, stricter laws against trafficking and limited
or limiting magazine capacity for guns.
Well, Bloomberg has vowed to spend $50 million of his own money to the help
elect candidates who support gun safety measures.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
And there`s a reason why the U.S. Congress is suffering from a job approval
reading in the single digits. Gridlock in Washington is sitting near
epidemic levels. Compromise has become a dirty word on the hard right, to
such an extent that trying to do simple things like pass a budget or raise
the debt ceiling wind up spiraling into full-throated crises. Partisan
warfare on both sides has become the norm, which is why today`s story in
"The Washington Post" about two warring congressmen actually working to
build a relationship is such a remarkable thing to talk about and it`s a
political odd couple if there ever was one.
Jason Chaffetz, we know him. He`s a Mormon Republican from Utah who has
aggressively investigated the White House on issues from Benghazi to the
And also, Elijah Cummings, he`s the Baptist Democrat from Baltimore who`s
actually considered one of the president`s top allies in the House
Chaffetz recently spent a day with Cummings, touring his district in
Maryland and speaking to his constituents, a place where President Obama
dominated with 75 percent of the vote. As "The Washington Post" reports,
in a Washington fully engulfed in partisan warfare, the Chaffetz-Cummings
buddy day, at least a day, was an anomalous throwback to a time when
members of Congress of different political parties spent time together off
the clock and liked one another.
U.S. Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Jason Chaffetz join us right now.
You are smiling, Congressman Cummings. What did I overstate there? Did I
overstate this relationship or what?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: No, you didn`t. Chaffetz and I had a
wonderful outing here in Baltimore. And he had an opportunity, Chris, to
meet my constituents. I often say I don`t worry about who I`m fighting
against. I worry about what I`m fighting for.
And I wanted him to see the people that I fight for every day. And he`ll
tell you that it got kind of emotional at times when he had a chance to
listen to young fathers who are struggling, trying to be better fathers and
minority business people and seniors who told us that the only money that
they have is what they get from Social Security, and basically begging us
not to reduce their Social Security.
I mean, from having to get to hear that, to take the time to even do that,
I really appreciate it. I think he got a lot out of it.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Chaffetz, you know, we have taken Amtrak and driven
by some of the poor neighborhoods of Baltimore. We have the row houses,
you know. Now, you went and visited those stupid (ph) people. What did
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: You know, it`s different. I got to tell
you. When we sat for an hour with 12 AIDS patients, and what they`re going
through and the heartache that they`re going through, the urban center that
we visited, I -- you know, that was very different for me, and I`m glad to
go there, and I -- it wouldn`t have happened if I wasn`t invited by
We had talked about Provo in Baltimore, probably being polar opposites.
And we have a lot in common, but on the other hand, they`re dealing with
some things there in Maryland that we don`t deal with in great as numbers
as we do in Utah and vice versa. We`ve got a lot of issues out here and
he`s agreed to come out to Utah. And I`m anxious to show him what we`re up
against and what our constituents want in Utah.
MATTHEWS: So, are you going to go out there during snow season and go to
Sundance and places like that, Congressman?
CUMMINGS: No, no, I`m going to two in the next few months. And whatever
he wants me to see, I want to see it. I want to -- you know, Chris, I
think the Americans are tired of dysfunction and tired of distraction and
really do want us to work together and they don`t want the norm to be that
we don`t resolve problems.
And so, I just think that when you see what somebody comes home to, when I
see the folks that Chaffetz comes home to, and his constituents, and given
an understanding of what they feel and he gets of a mind, I think when it
comes to compromise, it makes it a little bit easier and, of course, it
makes our relationship a better relationship also.
MATTHEWS: Where`s the area for compromise, Congressman Cummings? Where do
you see it that`s not being realized? Because if both parties don`t agree
on something like the need to cut deficit spending, and government overall
spending because the Democrats are more progressive on spending, they think
it helps the economy. Republicans think there`s something morally wrong
about deficits. It`s just an example.
How do you find a compromise?
CUMMINGS: Well, I think you, for example, we had some young folks who --
we have a program here in Baltimore that has taken young people, work with
them, people who may have had difficulties in their lives, and now bringing
them back together so that they can pay their child support, so they can
get a job, pay their child support, and they came up with innovative
strategies by which it was a win/win situation.
Right now, those people are being -- driver`s licenses are being taken from
them and things of that nature because they don`t pay child support. Well,
they`ve come up with a way to make that happen and I think Jason, as he
listened to them, he had to agree with me. It made sense what they were
trying to do.
In other words, I think there are a lot of things that we are not doing
from a practical standpoint. Jason Chaffetz has been a leader with regard
to prison reform and trying to find other ways instead of just imprisoning
everybody, try to find ways to help people be productive. I think things
like that. And I think there are a lot more things, too, by the way.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Chaffetz, your thoughts on compromise. Where can
you go that will work?
CHAFFETZ: Well, look, we`re about as conservative of a state. I have one
of the most conservative districts in the country. But, ultimately, the
trick isn`t just to continue to throw verbal bombs at each other. I`m
pretty good at that. Others are pretty good at it.
MATTHEWS: I know you are.
CHAFFETZ: The real conservative, the real trick is find somebody who can
convince Democrats and find that common ground and actually push something
to the finish line, because the best pieces of legislation, they`re going
to ultimately be bipartisan. That`s the --
MATTHEWS: I agree.
CHAFFETZ: -- only way we`re going to achieve something.
MATTHEWS: And the only stuff that really endures is partisan.
Let me ask you about Bob Bennett, your senior senator who got knocked off
by Mike Lee. I don`t know where you stood in that fight. But bottom line
is, here`s a guy who got in trouble for doing what you`re doing in a
specific way. Bob Bennett, your former senior senator, was out there,
maybe not senior, but it was in the Senate for a long time, he was dealing
with Ron Wyden in trying to find a better health care solution than the
president`s. For that, he has bopped off by Mike Lee.
I mean, aren`t you worried by doing anything real that you`re going to cost
you your seat? Your bipartisan effort?
CHAFFETZ: No, no, look -- no! Look, I`m here a limited amount of time.
I`m elected to get results and not going to sit back, be a back bencher and
just go along and vote no. Anybody can do that.
MATTHEWS: That`s true.
CHAFFETZ: I want to actually engage with these people and actually come up
with some solutions that make sense.
CHAFFETZ: With the conservative bent, yes, I`m not going to give up my
principles, but we can do this. We have to. They`ve been doing it for 200
MATTHEWS: So, compromise is not a bad word.
MATTHEWS: Say it, Congressman. Say it, Congressman. Just say the
sentence, compromise is not a bad word.
CHAFFETZ: Compromise is not a bad word.
CUMMINGS: Is not a bad word.
MATTHEWS: Now that I got you here, excuse me, Congressman Cummings, I`ve
got this guy in the chair here. My question to you, I talk about it all
the time lately.
I think Mitt Romney in his head, he looks at the polls beating the
president if there was another election, there won`t be, that he really
wants to run for president again. What do you think? What would you
CHAFFETZ: I think he actually is going to run for president. He probably
doesn`t want me to say that, 100 times he says he`s not. But Mitt Romney
has always accomplished what he set out to do.
CHAFFETZ: I think he`s proven right on a lot of stuff. I happen to be in
the camp that thinks that he`s actually going to run and I think he will be
the next president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. You`re a loyal Utahan, and that`s a great
thing to say. And now, we made some news tonight.
Congressman Cummings, thank you for bringing us Mr. Chaffetz for this
Thank you so much, gentlemen, for joining us.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some love for North Carolina.
Nothing gives me greater pride than to have attended the University of
North Carolina. What an incredible institution.
Just think of those who edited the student newspaper there. "The Daily Tar
Heel." The Thomas Wolfe, author of "Look Homeward, Angel" and "You Can`t
Go Home Again." Charles Kuralt, who was editor in the early `50s, had the
guts to put down Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Or Jonathan Daniel of "The New York Times" or Edwin Yoder or Jonathan
Yardley of "The Washington Post." Or other Chapel Hill greats like Charlie
Rose of Public Television.
I think of the people who made North Carolina, the center of learning that
it is today. The research triangle of Duke and NC State University, all in
close connection with the university in Chapel Hill, and around the state.
What an irony to see the rightward forces in that state today try to reduce
the state`s commitment to learning, and not only that, but to hit the
students, themselves, by cutting into their right to vote. The greatness
of North Carolina today is the direct result of progressive thinkers like
the great Frank Graham, longtime president of the university.
They and their state built a university system that made the state a magnet
for ideas and enterprise, a state fully capable of competing for the best
and the brightest. I keep my hopes alive for a state and a university that
I love. The same deeply rooted positive belief in the young has not seen
its last days in North Carolina.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>