updated 7/25/2014 9:48:57 AM ET 2014-07-25T13:48:57

HARDBALL
July 24, 2014

Guest: Joe Klein, James Zogby, Bill O`Keefe, Bill O`Keefe, James Zogby,
Sean Sullivan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The return of McCarthyism.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in San Francisco.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this return of McCarthyism. I speak of
the behavior of Senator Ted Cruz, who now accuses President Obama of
undermining the U.S. alliance with Israel, of blackmailing and wielding an
historic punishment on the Jewish state. It is Cruz once again aping the
reckless charges of Joe McCarthy back in the early 1950s. Just as he once
suggested secretary of defense -- or future secretary of defense Chuck
Hagel was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Saudi Arabia or
North Korea, he now accuses Barack Obama of working underhanded mischief
against Israel.

Didn`t this country have enough of this, or more than enough of this
stuff 60 years ago, when the reckless communist-baiting McCarthy was
brought down? Is Senator Cruz trying to mimic the headline grabbing of the
bad old days, or is just so ignorant of what those tactics have done to
this country that he`s not aware of what he`s committing, the horror of
McCarthyism all over again? In either case, it makes Cruz someone who
doesn`t care what he says, as long as it rings the bell at the county fair,
that it makes noise on the right, the place where he`s set his staggeringly
willful ambition. Have you no decency, Senator? Apparently not.

Joining me now is Joe Klein of "Time" magazine and MSNBC contributor
Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania.

Here`s what happened. Senator Cruz objected to a temporary FAA ban on
flights by U.S. airlines to Israel yesterday, a ban put in place on Tuesday
as a cautionary measure after a Hamas rocket landed near the Israeli
airport. The decision also came in the wake of downed Malaysian flight MH-
17 last week.

While some in Israel and the U.S. objected to the ban because of its
economic impact on Israel, Senator Ted Cruz implied a more nefarious
notion, and more nefarious motive. In a statement release yesterday, the
senator said, quote, "The facts suggest that President Obama has just used
a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel in
order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign policy demands."

Well, here`s how State Department spokesman Marie Half -- Harf,
rather, responded to Cruz`s allegations late yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Senator Cruz just released a statement saying that the
FAA`s flight suspension to Israel is economic blackmail and the Obama
administration is doing this to punish Israel.

MARIE HARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: It`s ridiculous and
offensive, quite frankly. The FAA takes its responsibilities very
seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions
based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. For
anyone to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In turn, however, Senator Cruz doubled down on his
allegations on Fox News last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Yesterday, we saw the FAA make an
unprecedented decision to ban all air travel to the nation of Israel! And
I`ve asked today the very simple question, did President Obama just
unilaterally launch economic boycotts on the nation of Israel?

Is this a political decision? Was this driven by the White House?
Was it driven by the State Department? If it was based on airline safety,
as they said, why did they single out Israel? Why not ban travel to
Pakistan or Yemen or Ukraine, where a commercial airliner was shot down?
But instead, they targeted Israel!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: In fact, they did ban travel to Ukraine.

Anyway, Israel -- the flights to Israel, by the way, were restored
this morning after the FAA lifted that short ban, which lasted about 36
hours altogether.

Let me go to Joe Klein on this. I don`t know -- and let me say this
to you honestly. I think I know what Cruz is up to. He is shouting from
the rooftops in a reckless way, very much like Joe McCarthy, making charges
he doesn`t feel he needs to substantiate in order to establish some sort of
tenor out there, some sort of notion of who he is.

Tell me what you think of this guy, what he`s doing.

JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, you know, it`s actually gotten
worse over the last few hours. Cruz is now saying that he will hold up all
State Department appointments until -- you know, until there is an
investigation that gets to the bottom of this.

I mean, we need our State Department people out in places like Israel
and the Palestinian area now. And you know, this is just gamesmanship.
And you look at the larger picture. You look at all the noisy
investigators in the Republican House, like Darrell Issa. What have they
come up with? You know, they`ve been -- they`ve been talking about
Benghazi for years. Nothing.

This is a major smokescreen. And it`s a major smokescreen at a time
where we have to be very clear about what`s going on in Gaza and in that
region, and also in Ukraine.

But you know, there is one difference between Cruz and McCarthy so
far. Cruz is going after big fish like the president, and he`s not going
to get anywhere. McCarthy was ruining the lives of a lot of average
Americans. And so I suspect that Cruz will be doing this and ringing his
bell, as you very appropriately said, until he gets anywhere near a
presidential primary, at which point he will be dismissed very quickly.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Governor Rendell. You and I grew up with
this, as did Joe, this sort of reckless charge -- I first caught this guy`s
act when he went after Chuck Hagel, whose nomination was problematic. He
wasn`t exactly going to be a -- you know, a slam dunk. And when he was
most vulnerable, Cruz came out and impugned his motives by saying, you
know, he was out there taking money from the North Koreans. That is a
classic McCarthy charge.

And he`s accusing the president of secretly, underhandedly,
nefariously, to use the word used earlier, going after Israel. I think the
United States -- you know, for better or worse, we`re probably Israel`s
best friend, and this administration, at least in this incident of fighting
with Hamas, has been all over on their side. All over.

ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what`s
shocking about this, Chris, is number one, he`s made these charges without
a shred of evidence, as he did against now Secretary Hagel, number one.
Number two, it`s idiotic to think that a temporary two or three-week
boycott of U.S. planes going into Israel would have a major impact on the
Israeli economy that would force them to do anything. It even doesn`t make
any sense.

MATTHEWS: It`s 36 hours now, it turned out. That`s all it was.

RENDELL: Right. It`s ludicrous. But it`s part of -- I think Joe
made a very good point. It`s part of this Republican assault on virtually
anything the president does. And what`s disconcerting to me is two things.
One, that we`re doing this in the midst of tough international times, where
we used to bind together as a country. We used to put partisanship aside
when there was difficulties like what`s going on in the Middle East right
now. But that`s number one.

But number two is this unrelenting assault on whatever President Obama
does. And you know I`m not a guy who says President Obama is right all the
time. But they`re holding him to such a standard -- imagine for a second
that he didn`t impose such a ban and a Hamas rocket brought down a U.S.
commercial flight into Israel. The Republicans would have been screaming
bloody murder. Why didn`t President Obama protect our citizens?

Look, if President Obama today discovered a cure for cancer today,
tomorrow, Republicans like Cruz would be on the air saying he`s done
nothing for heart attack victims.

MATTHEWS: Let`s...

KLEIN: This is standard FAA Behavior. I mean, you know, Cruz comes
from Texas. I think he`s been spending too much time in Washington because
if he were traveling back and forth to Texas, he would know that the FAA
cancels flights on the merest suspicion of a tiny thunderstorm. I mean,
they have become very, very cautious over the last decade. So I mean, it`s
just baloney.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at these two guys in action. First of
all, Cruz attacking Hagel a while back, back in last year. And then look
at how McCarthy did the same thing back in 1950, when he was on the attack,
in this case on "MEET THE PRESS."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I will point out that right now, this committee knows
absolutely nothing about the personal compensation Chuck Hagel received in
2009 in 2008 or 2010.

It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited
in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from
North Korea. Now, I have no evidence to suggest that it is or isn`t...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And here is Senator Cruz`s role model, Senator Joe
McCarthy. Here McCarthy says he`s not concerned about a few low-level
spies in the State Department, he`s saying that communists are making
policy at the highest levels of government. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MCCARTHY (R), WISCONSIN: I`m speaking of that -- that group
in the State Department that`s sabotaging our foreign policy. Now -- but
let me say this. You can buy spies, the little fellow who will sell his
country for 30 pieces of silver. He is not the most dangerous man. It`s
those men in the top level of our government and the second echelon who do
the planning and the shaping of our foreign policy. So they`re the
dangerous men, whether they`re getting 30 pieces of silver or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Does that sound familiar to you from the bad old days,
Governor?

RENDELL: Well, absolutely. And it`s the easiest tactic in the world
to throw a charge out there and then say, Well, I don`t have any evidence
to back this up, but we don`t know. It`s the easiest tactic in the world,
and it is McCarthyism. There`s no question about it.

But Chris, I think the American people are better than this. And I
think Republicans are hurting themselves with all of these shenanigans, all
this anti-Obama venom. I think they are trying very hard to snatch defeat
from the jaws of victory in the November elections.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at a reasonable person who disagrees with
the president and the FAA decision, but did so in a reasonable, patriotic
way. Here`s Michael Bloomberg offering up a defense, basically, the former
New York mayor -- offering a defense of at least the character and good
will of an administration he disagrees with on this point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: If you don`t feel safe
here, I don`t know where you`d feel safe. And I think the State Department
is just overreacting in typical bureaucratic fashion.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Political reasons for that?

BLOOMBERG: That`s -- why would you think that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you think -- I`m asking you.

BLOOMBERG: Don`t be ridiculous! Why would you think that? It`s an
outrage for you to accuse one of our agencies...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... I`m just asking...

BLOOMBERG: By asking the question, you`re implying that our
government does things for political reasons. And maybe every once in a
while, they do. But it`s your job to prove it. Just the allegation
against our government...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOMBERG: ... I personally take as an offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joe, that was well done, wasn`t it.

KLEIN: Yes. It was well done. And it just shows you in microcosm
how this process works. You know, Cruz spews poison out into the media
atmosphere. And you know, people like Wolf have to ask the question at
that point. And -- you know, and so Cruz accomplishes what he wanted.

The big difference between Cruz and McCarthy is that Cruz is
brilliant. If you listen to the way he used those words when he was kind
of accusing Hagel of taking money from the wrong places, the construction
was absolutely brilliant. You couldn`t pin anything on Cruz, other than
the overwhelming charge that he`s raising this ridiculous nonsense.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s innuendo.

KLEIN: Yes, it`s innuendo. But Cruz is, as we know, a brilliant
lawyer. McCarthy was not so brilliant.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: Well, I disagree with that, Chris, just a little bit. I
think Cruz may be a brilliant lawyer and he may have phrased it in perfect
legalese, but I think to the American people, he looks like a jerk and he
looks like he`s acting against the country at a time when we should all be
patriotic and coming together. I think they`re making big mistakes.

MATTHEWS: Well, all I`d like to say is...

KLEIN: I bow to Rendell!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: We all do, sometimes. All I can say is he`s making his
opponent on the right, Rand Paul, look like Pope Francis. Anyway, thank
you, Joe Klein, and thank you, Ed Rendell.

Coming up, Marco Rubio calls a fake foul -- remember those tricks? --
accusing people who support same-sex marriage as being intolerant and
opponents as being victims. Catch that! That`s a tactic for you.

Plus, the story in Iraq that no one has been talking about, the
persecution of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists who have taken over a
third of the country. I`m talking about ISIS.

And a long-shot Democratic Senate candidacy just got a lot longer.
There are serious charges now of plagiarism now lying against John Walsh,
who was behind in the race already, trying to hold onto that Montana Senate
seat.

Finally, here`s what happens when you get a little too enthusiastic at
the closing of the New York Stock Market.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s hardball. And this is HARDBALL, the place for
politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: A new Quinnipiac poll of Florida voters shows just why so
many Democrats hope that Hillary Clinton decides to run in 2016. Let`s
check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

The poll found that Clinton leads Florida`s own Jeb Bush by 7, 49 to
42, and that`s the best any Republican does. Clinton leads Paul Ryan by 13
points, 51 to 38. Another Florida politician, Senator Marco Rubio, trails
Hillary by 14, 53 to 39. It`s Clinton 53, Rand Paul of Kentucky 37, a 16-
point gap. And trailing the field among Republicans against Clinton is New
Jersey`s governor, Chris Christie, who`s down by 21 points to Hillary, 54
to 33.

With 29 electoral votes, Florida may be the key swing state come 2016.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Talk about a fake foul.
Yesterday, during a speech on family values at Catholic University, Senator
Marco Rubio explained why he opposed same-sex marriage and why that doesn`t
mean he`s seeking to discriminate against gay people. Fair enough. But
Rubio also seemed to go out of his way to say it`s his side -- those
supporting traditional marriage -- who`ve been victimized. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Today, there is a growing intolerance
on this issue, intolerance towards those who continue to support
traditional marriage. We`ve seen the push to remove the CEO of Mozilla
because in 2008, he made a small donation to support Proposition 8 in
California. We`ve seen Chick-fil-A attacked and boycotted due to its CEO
giving an honest answer to a question regarding his deeply held religious
beliefs. And I promise you that even before this speech is over, I`ll be
attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who`s anti-gay.

This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Supporting
the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is
pro-traditional marriage. And if support for traditional marriage is
bigotry, then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before the 2012 election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it is true the country has been moving more and more
toward embracing same-sex marriage. Everyone knows that. Rubio and his
allies might be losing that war for public opinion. I think they are. But
have they been victimized for their views?

Howard Dean`s the former governor of Vermont and a former chairman of
the Democratic National Committee. Michael Steele is an MSNBC political
analyst and a former chair of the Republican National Committee.

Let me go to Michael Steele. Sir, let me just ask you about a couple
things to get this set up. Do you think the Republican Party will keep its
platform, its plank, which basically opposes same-sex marriage, next time
around? Will they run on that platform of opposing same-sex marriage?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think in
large measure, they will, Chris. It really does depend ultimately on who
the nominee of the party is, who, as you know, for both parties, sets what
is or is not in that platform.

But I would think right now, given the current landscape, yes, I do
not see that plank being removed, just as I don`t see, for example, the
pro-gay marriage plank being removed from the Democrat platform. So each
side...

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go...

STEELE: ... I think is firmly (INAUDIBLE) on that.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Governor -- let me go to Governor Dean. Do
you think that`s a winning issue for them to come out in 2016? That`s
almost three years from now, well into the 21st century that Marco Rubio
seems to be playing the champion of, and at that point, still coming out
against it.

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOV., FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, first of
all, it depends who the nominee is. If Rob Portman, who is making noises
about running for president, is the nominee, I suspect very much that such
a plank will no longer be in the platform since Senator Portman`s in favor
of same-sex marriage.

Secondly, what Rubio is doing is a more sophisticated are version of
what Cruz is doing. It`s a -- it`s a flop on the -- as you called it
earlier in on the introduction. There`s no foul here. He just took a
flying leap.

But what he`s doing is something that actually is quite sophisticated.
The evangelical Christian community has long felt victimized. They`ve felt
like they were a minority, that people didn`t treat them with respect. And
that`s what Rubio is playing to here.

The truth is that many religions discriminate against people. Many
religions feel that gay people aren`t full citizens. Many religions felt
that black people weren`t full citizens. The Mormon Church changed their
views in 1974 on that issue.

The Catholic Church -- you`re a Catholic. I was baptized Catholic.
The Catholic Church doesn`t permit women to be priests. There are
limitations on roles, the roles of women in the church. That`s church
doctrine. And it is discriminatory against women. Women simply aren`t
allowed to in that way.

So, the problem here is that Rubio is trying to make a religious
argument for the civil matter. The fact is, under the United States
Constitution, we have equal rights under the law for everybody. Rubio may
endorse a religion that doesn`t agree with that. That doesn`t mean people
who oppose him are accusing them of bigots, and it doesn`t mean they`re
bigots or intolerant either.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you say to that, Michael, because I think
he`s right?

rMD+IT_rMD-IT_STEELE: I disagree with that.

MATTHEWS: Look, I think what issues on -- let me make my little
interjection and then I will give you plenty of time.

STEELE: Sure.

MATTHEWS: I think the Republicans know they can`t champion the cause
of what they call traditional marriage in 2016. So what they`re going to
do is play the victim. They`re going to say, oh, it`s not about whether
you are for or against gay marriage. It is whether you are intolerant
towards people who don`t oppose it -- who are opposed to it.

Why would -- I don`t think the Democratic Party as a party is ever
going to attack people who have a different view, because they`re 42
percent of the country still who oppose it. Why would any party kiss off
42 percent?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Marco already gave you examples of where the left is
intolerant.

MATTHEWS: I`m talking about the Democratic Party.

STEELE: Well, I`m including the Democratic Party, because there were
Democrats and those on the left who supported what happened to Chick-fil-A
and various CEOs who have a differing view, a public -- a personal view on
this matter, not how they run their companies, not what they say is part of
their business, but what they view personally.

They have been vilified. And one CEO lost his job of it. So, yes,
there is, I think, a basis for concern about how the pendulum -- pendulum
is swinging here. But I think, to Governor Dean`s point, I think you are
off base here, Governor.

Marco Rubio was not making a religious argument yesterday. He was not
making an argument for or against the subject of gay marriage on some rigid
religious or theological perspective.

He was talking about a political position, number one, and, number
two, the moral components of that political position. And so that`s not
endorsing a religious. That`s not saying it`s a Catholic view or a
Protestant view. He`s just saying that there are those of us in this
country who still hold that traditional marriage has value and that right
now there is a tendency for those folks to be vilified or criticized
because of it.

DEAN: Michael, because -- that`s because if you take a position
against -- this is why I signed the first civil unions bill, not because I
have anything -- I had a big jones for gay rights.

It`s because equal rights under the law means every individual in
America ought to have the same rights.

STEELE: True.

DEAN: And unless two people who fall in love who happen to be members
of the same sex can get married, they can`t about 1,700 federal rights.
That`s the argument here.

STEELE: Well, that`s true, Governor.

DEAN: So, I don`t -- I have no problem with a religion that says you
can`t have same-sex marriage. I don`t have a problem with that.

But I do have a problem with any kind of format that says equal rights
under the law should not be allowed. And that`s the argument that Rubio is
making. And I think that`s the wrong argument. And I think we should go
after him.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Go ahead, Chris. What was that?

MATTHEWS: Well, my question is, why do Republicans keep getting back
into the sex question, when it has worked against them so often? I think
Rubio is randy to be president. I don`t understand this kind of youthful
ambition he`s got. Maybe I have forgotten about it. But this guy wants to
be president so bad that he`s willing to pick up an issue like this and run
with it at Catholic U. today.

Why doesn`t he relax a little bit, this guy? I just think he`s
desperate. I think Rubio has been -- he`s down 20 -- 12 points to Hillary
in his home state. And in his delusion, in his dream world, he thinks he`s
a candidate for president against Hillary.

STEELE: No, Chris, nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Marco Rubio -- and I have to give him credit for what I
thought was a very sober, well-thought-out argument that he made. And I
take it at the face value that he was at a Catholic institution, talking
about a moral, principled position. And I thought that that was all --
that was good.

So, I don`t think there was this categorical leap to jump into the
presidential race. Yes, is he sort of carving out some new space for him?
Absolutely, he is. But I don`t think that was the -- my impression at
least was that that was not the driver here.

MATTHEWS: Governor Dean, I thought he was playing for the hard
cultural right, the Rick Santorum crowd. It was a clear shot. He used
Catholic U. as his base of operations. That`s all. He was not talking to
those Catholics. He was talking to right wings out in the country.

DEAN: I will tell you one thing, Chris. He went to the wrong place,
because people under 30 -- this is why the Republicans are silly to bring
this up. People under 35 will not vote for candidates who talk like this.
This is why one of the reasons Obama got about 67 percent of the vote...

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: I don`t know about that yet.

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: Well, they haven`t so far.

STEELE: Well, we will see.

DEAN: They haven`t so far.

STEELE: Sixteen is a long way off.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, it`s certainly true.

DEAN: Yes, it is.

MATTHEWS: I have talked to kids. I got to tell you, among women
under 35, you are definitely correct. They are very liberal on these
issues. They don`t buy this what`s called the traditional view of things.

By the way, nobody is attacking heterosexual marriage. Nobody. There
is no marriage in jeopardy today because it is a straight marriage. None
are in danger. If you go to bed at night worrying about people being --
coupling together in a same-sex situation, that`s your problem. It ain`t a
real problem.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. I love that word coupling.

Anyway, Howard Dean, Michael Steele.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next, strong-arm tactics on Wall Street, but not the
usual kind. The "Sideshow" is coming next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. And time for the "Sideshow."

The latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor just doesn`t
know his own strength. Watch what happened yesterday at the New York Stock
Exchange when former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts rang the closing
bell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALES AND FEMALES: Whoa!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What did he do to that gavel?

It was all taken in good humor, as you saw. The crowd laughed and
cheered for the Army paratrooper who was awarded the Medal of Honor by
President Obama this Monday.

Next, Jimmy Fallon of "The Tonight Show" points out that Toronto Mayor
Rob Ford has begun campaigning for reelection, despite his out in the open
battle with drugs and alcohol. The embattled mayor of Toronto wants to
hold onto his job. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": He wants to
get reelected, and so he`s out there campaigning, he`s talking to voters,
getting out and meeting the people. And so he went to a play ground and
this is real. This is a real video. I know. I know. But this is a real
video. Here. Watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh.

Oh, my...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful. Hold on.

FALLON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: He really did that. Even worse, that girl screaming "Oh, my
God," that`s his campaign manager.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, some politicians will do anything to get their
favorability up.

And some have to because in a new poll one of the darkest characters
in the galaxy far, far away has a better favorability rating, believe it or
not, than the current potential 2016 presidential candidates. In a poll
from the Nate Silver`s fivethirtyeight blog, the favorability of "Star
Wars" characters was measured. But when compared with current national
polling by Gallup, Darth Vader was viewed more favorably than Hillary
Clinton, than Mike Huckabee or Rand Paul.

The only "Star Wars" character to come in lower than those candidates
was Jar Jar Binks, who still polled higher than Congress. Darth Vader,
let`s recall, blew up a planet and cut off his son`s arm, yet he still gets
a higher favorability than the field for 2016.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALEX WITT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, everyone. I`m Alex Witt.
And here`s what`s happening.

President Obama spoke at a California technical college earlier. He
touched on a range of issues, including improving the economy, energy, and
job training. The president has been on a three-day fund-raising trip to
the West Coast.

A New Jersey couple is dead after a tornado struck a campground in
Virginia. Their son was critically hurt. Dozens of others were taken to
hospitals.

Local officials say the wreckage of Air Algerie Flight 5070 has been
found in Mali. The plane with 116 people on board disappeared over Western
Africa. Severe weather may have been a factor in that crash.

And two more military planes carrying remains of crash victims from
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 landed earlier in the Netherlands. The flight
with 298 people on board was shot down last week over Eastern Ukraine.
Most of the passengers on board were Dutch -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: We are back.

Here is a story from Iraq you may not have heard much about, the
persecution of Christians at the hands of Islamic extremists. Christians
in the regions of Iraq recently occupied by the radical Sunni group ISIS
are being warned they have a choice. Convert to Islam, pay a very steep
price, or face death.

And that was the message playing over loudspeakers in Iraq`s second
largest city, Mosul. ISIS launched a large-scale offensive last month and
seized control of predominantly Sunni regions in Iraq with the ultimate
goal of capturing Baghdad.

Well, their offensive has crested for now. But Christianity which
came to Iraq in the first century A.D. remains under constant threat. Iraq
was home to an estimated one million Christians prior to the 2003 U.S.-led
invasion. But ever since, Christians have been the target of brutal
violence, facing the bombing of their churches and the killing of their
clergymen, forcing many to leave the country and leaving that community in
Iraq to stand around half that size, 450,000, according to church
officials.

Now they are being purged altogether by ISIS.

Jim Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute. And Bill
O`Keefe is the vice president of government relations and advocacy for
Catholic Relief Services.

Jim, I guess you know me well enough to know that when I saw the story
the other day, I leapt on it, because it`s something I didn`t know about.
What do you know about the actual day-to-day threats, life threats, death
threats that we`re getting, that the Christian community is getting in
Baghdad or actually anywhere in Iraq from ISIS?

JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, the threats
are mainly obviously in the Mosul region where ISIS is in control.

At this point, there are such very few people of Christian faith in
Mosul that the community has been literally down to it`s a handful of
people, who are themselves being quite persecuted. And the stories we are
getting from their families here in the States -- it`s a huge Christian
Iraqi community here in the states -- are horrifying.

The villages that are under threat next are the villages north of
Mosul. There are many Christians in the Kurdish region. I`m pretty sure
that they will be safe. But the purging of Christians in the south is
quite disturbing. And it goes back, as you noted in your intro, to the
Iraq war itself, when this sectarian war, civil war of ethnic cleansing
took place, with Christians the most vulnerable, caught in the middle and
paying the dearest price. And no one in this country, the entire Bush
administration years of that war, never paid attention to the issue at all.

MATTHEWS: Bill, thanks for joining us.

I went to school with an Iraqi Christian at Holy Cross so we knew
there was a Christian community there. And also I think the Jesuits have
been active over there as well with university level teaching. What is the
United States government doing to prevent this or to give any kind of
protection to this small Christian community over there?

BILL O`KEEFE, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: Well, Catholic Relief
Services is on the ground in Iraq right now, as a matter of fact, and met
just this week with officials from the U.S. government who are helping to
plan relief operations.

But Catholic Relief Services is already responding to the needs of the
Christians who fled Mosul, many with just the clothes on their back. And
these folks left. They had to cross checkpoints as they fled. And when
they crossed those checkpoints, they were stripped of their possessions,
their money and even the rings off their fingers.

We are there providing them with food, with basic cooking supplies and
basic hygiene supplies.

MATTHEWS: What is the attitude of regular people over there -- I
mean, regular Sunnis and Shia, regular -- other Arab people to the Arab
Christians? Do they see them as outsiders or do they see them as people
who have been there forever, for 2,000 years, well before there was Islam
as a religion, a practiced religion?

O`KEEFE: Chris, the Christians in Mosul have been there for over
1,500 years. They are integral members of the community there.

It`s interesting. Our staff on the ground told me this morning that
the neighboring Sunni and Shia communities and other minority communities
have been very generously receiving the Christians who fled from Mosul.

So, most of the people in Iraq are very -- are very tolerant of their
Christian brothers and sisters. But ISIS and other extremist groups
obviously don`t share that perspective.

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: And that is the problem, is that these groups were unleashed
during the civil war period. They did not reflect the majority of the
population in the country. And certainly, ISIS doesn`t reflect the Iraqi
character or the Iraqi people.

It is a -- it is a thuggish gang of criminals, not unlike some of the
Mexican drug groups or some of the gang groups that exist in this country.
This is a criminal outcast element that has adopted the language of Islam
as their political ideology, but had nothing to do with the religion and
their co-religionists do not share their bigotry, their depravity or their
violence.

MATTHEWS: Is there anyone in the State Department or White House is
looking after, the Christians in Arabia right now, Jim? Because you do
this all the time, fight for the cause.

ZOGBY: Yes, there are -- there are those who do. But the leverage
the United States has in a country like Iraq at this point is limited. I
mean, clearly, we don`t want to be supporting Prime Minister Maliki. He is
part p of the problem that unleashed this sectarian violence. We have
allies in the region that we ought to be empowering to do much more than
they are doing.

And I think as Bill notes, I mean, the relief assistance that`s
required and is going to be required in the long run for the Iraqi
Christian community, with the ultimate solution in Iraq, which is way down
the road, is to create a government that represents the Iraqi people, all
of them, in a nonsectarian state that is inclusive and tolerant and that we
are a long way off from that, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We are trying to create a United America here at home, if
you haven`t noticed.

Here`s an example of what`s going on in cities like Mosul. One
Christian resident over there who took his family and fled told the
"Associated Press", "We had to go through an area where they had set up a
checkpoint." We just heard that. "Islamic state group militants asked us
to get out of the car. We got out. They took our things, our bags, our
money, everything we had on us. I don`t know what`s going to happen to us.
Our future is uncertain."

Bill, what can people do in this country? Anything to help these
people out or getting fellow religionists in many cases, of Americans.

O`KEEFE: I think there is a lot that people here can do. Certainly,
they can support the Catholic Relief Services and other groups on the
ground assisting those who have fled. They can also pay attention to the
situation and encourage our government, the United States government to
engage in ways that are going to bring peace to the region and help are
bring the vision that Jim mentioned for an inclusive government to
fruition, because that`s really what needs to happen in a long run.

MATTHEWS: Well, we all have loyalties to the Christian community of
the Arabian world so much. I feel that when I go to Jerusalem. I do care
about those people. Anyway, especially since they have been there for
2,000 years.

Thank you so much, James Zogby, my friend. And Bill O`Keefe, it`s
nice to meet you.

Up next, how a long shot Senate candidacy just got -- well, longer.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a story for people who love newspapers and
politics, as I do. Quick, name the president "The New York Times"
mentioned more often in one year than any other? Well, "The Washington
Post" did the research, and I`ll bet it`s not the president you think.

Let`s count them down. In fifth place, mentioned in 6,220 the
articles was Gerald Ford in 1976. In fourth place, Jack Kennedy in 1962,
the second year of his presidency. Coming in third, Richard Nixon in 1973
as Watergate heated up. Our first runner up, in second place, Barack Obama
in the election year of 2012. In first place, the president you probably
didn`t expect -- Jimmy Carter in 1980 with 9,720 articles written about
him.

At the bottom of the list, by the way, was Rutherford B. Hayes back in
1877. Poor him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: In politics, words matter, especially when you steal them
from someone else and then get caught red-handed.

Well, Senator John Walsh, a Democrat from Montana, behind already in
his race to keep his appointed seat, has just been caught red-handed.

In a great piece of investigative journalism by Jonathan Martin, "The
New York Times" reported today that Walsh`s masters thesis which earned him
a degree from the United States Army War College back in 2007 is so riddled
with instances of plagiarism that it`s rivaled by few examples in recent
political history. At least a quarter of the thesis, key parts of his
conclusion and a third of the paper was lifted from other work without
proper credit. This graphic is a look at 19 pages from that paper and
every single one of them has instances of plagiarism on it.

What`s even more remarkable I think is this part of the story. When
asked directly if he had plagiarized, Senator Walsh responded, "I don`t
believe I did, no."

Well, the college`s academic handbook leaves no wiggle room when it
comes to academic fraud. As "The Times" reports, "The New York Times"
reports, "Copying a segment of another`s work word for word, then
conveniently forgetting to include quotation mark but remembering to cite
the source is described as academic fraud in the college`s handbook."

Well, today, according to a memo to supporters Senator Walsh
acknowledged that his citations were not all done correctly.

Sean Sullivan is a political reporter with "The Washington Post" and
Joan Walsh is the editor at large of "Salon".

Sean, thanks for joining us.

This -- how is the story holding up today? There`s large sections in
the paper showing how word for word -- I mean, it was obviously lifted from
other sources, so much of this paper.

SEAN SULLIVAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this
story has the potential to be very damaging for Senator Walsh. You know,
here is somebody who doesn`t really have much of a record.

He was recently appointed to the Senate and really he was going to be
running on the strength of his military record and the strength of his
character, and this is a development that cuts against both of those
things. This got a lot of attention in local papers today. It was on the
front page of almost every local paper in Montana.

So, you know, Walsh was already behind in this race, but this damaging
revelation to him, you know, makes things even harder for him heading
toward November.

MATTHEWS: Joan, what do you make of the breadth of this? This isn`t
one of two oversights or failure to quote. This is large bodies of
material. Does that sort of suggest that maybe he was a little uneven in
his thinking at that time, that he did suffer from post-traumatic stress
syndrome, that there might have been something wrong in his stability at
that point that would justify at least morally what happened?

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Chris, I had the same
thought. I mean, it`s so egregious, it is worse than anything we know in
recent history. And it`s so blatant that it does make you wonder if things
were entirely all right.

I`m not defending it, and I also want to say, you know, Senator Walsh
has not been well served by his staff. Unfortunately, they`ve come out
with really shifting explanations. They came out today and they`ve tried
to say it was a citation problem. It`s not. It`s a plagiarism problem.

And I also think this issue of PTSD, my heart goes out to him, I
believe him. I certainly -- conservatives are mocking it today. I
wouldn`t do that. I think if he had gotten out and told "The Times" that`s
what he thought happened, this story might have looked very differently
from the start.

It`s very hard right now. It`s not impossible. I don`t want to say
that. But it is hard right now to get the attention that maybe this
deserves for a frank accounting of his struggles and also his treatment.
He says he`s gotten treatment and he`s still on medication. That would
have been a really great thing to say, I think, the day that "The Times"
approached him.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`ve never quite understood plagiarism, because I
always thought there`s vanity in writing. I do a lot of writing. I like
to take credit for my writing because I did it. But if you didn`t do it,
why would you want to take credit for something you didn`t do?

Anyway, it`s happened before, guys. In 1988, an egregious case, Joe
Biden was caught trying to pass off the words of a British politician as
his own, at least on one or two occasions, ended up costing him a shot at
the Democratic nomination for president. Just last year, Rand Paul was
caught lifting chunks of Wikipedia entries in his speeches and he was later
found to have lifted sections of think tank essays and other works in his
books and opinion columns he`s written.

"The New York Times" says, quote, "Mr. Walsh appears to have gone
considerably further."

Back to you, Sean. What evidence do we have that he really suffered
from a syndrome that might have shaken his ability to make sound decisions
when he was taking this course?

SULLIVAN: Well, right now the evidence we have is basically what he`s
telling us and what his campaign is telling everybody about what happened.
You mentioned earlier, you know, there have been cases of plagiarism in
politics before. Biden, Rand Paul. These stories tend to fade into the
background. You know, a lot of people probably don`t remember that Joe
Biden, you know, had an incident similar to this and they would probably
say, oh, oh, yes, you know, that kind of sounds familiar.

But, you know, in this case, it`s really potentially damaging for
Walsh because his military record has come up in a negative light before.
Republicans have tried to attack him over it. So, you know, if this was on
a different issue, perhaps this might fade into the background, but because
this was an issue that was already at the forefront of this campaign, that
Republicans were already attacking it, it really makes it doubly worse for
him right now.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to my friend and fellow political observer,
Joan, I think we`ve been fair here. I think -- I don`t think this is a
partisan issue at all. I think this is the human condition, whatever gets
in the water and makes people do this, whatever it is. People do it a lot
on both sides.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: What`s this do for the outlook of the Senate control issue
the way you see it? Does it have any effect? I never thought Walsh was a
strong --

WALSH: No.

MATTHEWS: He had a great chance in a conservative state like Montana,
but, you kow, everybody has a chance, I suppose intellectually.

WALSH: Right. If his opponent fell apart, he`d have a chance. He
has not led in a single poll. And this is not something the Democrats were
counting on. This is a seat that was pretty much in very column was given
to Republicans while other seats were considered contested or stronger for
Democrats.

So, I don`t think it really changes the storyline about what`s going
to happen in November with the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Sean, I think the facts are that he`s been caught red-
handed because we have it -- "The New York Times," you guys have done a
great job of showing this in a graphic form. I mean, it`s clear anybody
with an objective mind says this guy lifted the material. Is there any
talk of him resigning over this?

SULLIVAN: You know, not right now. I think it`s too early to talk
about that. I think right now he wants to get his, you know, footing set
back to where it was a couple weeks ago in the campaign. You know, there
isn`t much talk about resignation, but clearly at this point, you know, he
was a long shot. He`s a real long shot now in the campaign to win a full
term in November.

MATTHEWS: Well, when the hammer comes down, that will be the U.S.
Army, when they come down on this, that`s going to be the part that really
hurts, because that will be objective judgment. You can bet they`re going
to do a good job of checking this out.

Thank you so much, Sean Sullivan, and Joan Walsh. An all Irish cast
tonight.

And we`ll be right back.

WALSH: Thanks, Chris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with where I began.

Does Ted Cruz know what he`s doing to this country with his reckless
attacks of the people in the government? Has he read about the McCarthy
period when the country was torn asunder by that Wisconsin senator`s charge
of communist aversion, loyalty to Moscow?

You have to ask what is behind these charges including his latest, the
senator`s latest accusation that the Federal Aviation Administration is
working some dark plot to bring our ally, Israel, to its knees. Why is he
saying this stuff? Who in this country responds to the charge that Chuck
Hagel is in the pay of North Korea or Saudi Arabia, or whatever other
goblin?

It`s the tactics being used here. This reckless readiness to charge
someone whose policy you don`t share with working with this country`s
enemies. This is what Senator Cruz did to Hagel, what he`s doing to the
FAA right now. He`s accusing it of being a secret punisher of Israel.

There`s something in Cruz`s manner and tactics I just don`t like. He
acts as if he`s ready to take a shot at someone no matter how below the
belt that anything goes in his Manichean struggle against those he sees as
the bad guys. Well, the trouble with that line of thinking and acting is
you end up being one of them.

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
BE UPDATED.
END

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