July 29, 2014
Guest: Robert Costa, John Brabender , Douglas Brinkley, Ted Strickland
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Impeach me!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with what could be an all-out battle between
President Obama and the Republican Congress. The stakes are these. Can a
Congress destroy a president`s ability to address the vital problems facing
this country, a broken immigration system, an aging and decaying
infrastructure? Can a partisan House of Representatives sabotage the
normal workings of our democracy? Can it kill a presidency in broad
Now to the weapons. The speaker of the House is suing the president,
trying to eliminate his flexibility in carrying out the signature act of
his administration, the Affordable Care Act. They`re asking the courts to
put him in an administrative straitjacket.
The president has his own threat waiting in the wings. Someone has
leaked that he`s planning to issue work permits, work permits to millions
of people who entered this country illegally. In other words, he`s
planning to take over immigration policy personally, placing what is
normally a congressional power into his own hands.
Well, the war between the president and Congress escalates as the
hours pass. The question is not just who will win, but what`s this fight
doing to the country? I can`t think of anyone it makes happy, can you?
Jonathan Capehart`s an MSNBC contributor and opinion writer with "The
Washington Post." And Rober Costa is a national reporter with "The
President Obama may be running (ph) a major policy offensive on an
issue that is guaranteed to incite the Republican Party base. Here it is.
I mentioned it a moment ago. The Associated Press reports today, quote,
"White House officials are making plans to act through executive action
before November`s midterm elections to grant work permits -- work permits
to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally,
allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation,
according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration."
So there you have it. He`s throwing down the gauntlet, as they say.
He said, All right, you don`t like the way I`ve been doing things about
Affordable Care? How about this one? I`m going to start issuing work
permits. I`m going to start saying I decide who stays in this country.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
it`s a -- it`s a very bold move on the president`s part...
MATTHEWS: Is it legal? Is it constitutional?
CAPEHART: Well, you know, we have to see what, actually, he`s going
to do. A leaked story is not (ph) about what the president may or may not
do. It`s not reality until he steps before the American people and says,
This is what I`m doing and this is why I`m doing it.
We have to keep in mind that immigration reform and the issue of
immigration reform didn`t start with Barack Obama becoming president. This
is something that`s been debated...
MATTHEWS: I just want to get to the fight.
MATTHEWS: What does this say in political terms to the speaker of the
ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": He`s getting back at the speaker for
not doing comprehensive immigration reform. He says, If the House is not
going to act, he`s going to act.
MATTHEWS: And he`s going to risk constitutional improbity (ph), or
whatever the word is, breaking the rules.
COSTA: But he needs to get those Democrats, those progressive
activists out in 2014. He`s sending a signal to them that he`s going to
stick with them.
MATTHEWS: OK. What`s this say to the Republican right when he says,
So your old man," basically? You think you`re the boss? I`m the boss.
What`s that do?
CAPEHART: Well -- well, what it does is it riles -- it riles Boehner.
It riles the Republican base. But it also says to the American people
that, Things are so broken here in Washington that I have to do something.
It`s part of the message he`s been saying...
MATTHEWS: ... 40 percent, 50 percent of the country. Who will buy
CAPEHART: You know that...
MATTHEWS: Besides the liberal base.
CAPEHART: That`s a good question. I think that -- you know, look,
we`re basically a 50/50 country. And I think until the president stands up
there and says exactly what he`s going to do, we won`t really know what the
reaction is. As the AP story says...
CAPEHART: ... dangerous game, and we don`t know how it`s going to --
how it`s going to play out until he actually does it.
MATTHEWS: So smart. Let me ask you about impeachment because the
Republicans are doing -- they got their foot on the gas, some of the right-
wingers who are pushing this thing. This Scalise is out there. He`s done
-- the new whip. You`ve just talked to him, putting out there the word --
well, he could be for it. At the same time, the speaker, who`s not exactly
known for calling the shots on Capitol Hill, is trying to hold it back.
But clearly, there`s some push there.
Republicans in the Congress and those running for office have hyped
impeachment. And now the Republican Party`s base wants President Obama
gone. I showed you the numbers yesterday -- 57 percent, a strong majority
of Republicans in this country, want him prosecuted and removed from
office. And that anger will only grow as he acts alone on immigration.
Today, the House speaker, John Boehner, tried to douse the flames of
impeachment, which backfired on the GOP in historic fashion, we all know,
back in `98 in the midterms, when they tried to get rid of Bill Clinton.
Well, here`s, by the way, Boehner trying to put the water onto the fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This whole talk about
impeachment is coming from the president`s own staff and coming from
Democrats on Capitol Hill! Why? Because they`re trying to rally their
people to give money and to show up in this year`s election. We have no
plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. Listen, it`s all
a scam started by Democrats at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, Speaker Boehner`s own top leadership team
didn`t get his message. As we showed you yesterday, the GOP`s new whip,
Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana -- Scalise of Louisiana refused to
take impeachment off the table in an interview with Fox`s Chris Wallace
just two days ago.
Here he is refusing to say where he stands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Will you consider impeaching
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), MAJORITY WHIP: You know, this might be the
first White House in history that`s trying to start the narrative of
impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the
president follow the laws. But the president took an oath to faithfully
execute the laws of this land, and he`s not.
WALLACE: But impeachment is off the table.
SCALISE: Well, the White House wants to talk about impeachment. And
ironically, they`re going out and trying to fund-raise off of that, too.
WALLACE: I`m asking you, sir.
SCALISE: Look, the White House will do anything they can to change
the topic away from the president`s failed agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He just took the topic away -- "I`m asking you, sir."
Chris Wallace was very mannerly and they wouldn`t answer the question.
Now, you talked to Scalise today.
COSTA: I was at the Capitol today, talked to Scalise and asked him
repeatedly, three times, did he stick by those comments he said on Sunday
to Chris Wallace. He said, yes, he did. And I said, Do you refuse to rule
out impeaching the president? He would not give me a clear answer to that
question. He just kept saying, We are not at this moment trying to impeach
the president. That leaves the door open.
MATTHEWS: What`s the game here?
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going to tell you. If the speaker speaks for the
House, which we know he doesn`t...
MATTHEWS: ... so I`m setting up a joke that he`s actually calling the
shots, and the Republican majority in the country says, Let`s impeach the
guy -- and this is real, and you hear all the people in the -- the
backwater people all talking it up, you know? I mean, Michele what --
Michele Bachmann keeps talking it up. Palin keeps talking it up.
COSTA: Palin. They don`t think the Boehner lawsuit`s enough. That`s
MATTHEWS: Steve King...
MATTHEWS: There`s a lot of them out there that keep talking it up.
COSTA: I spoke to King today. He was talking about impeachment. If
Obama moved on immigration, like he`s doing right now supposedly on work
permits, King is probably going to move forward on...
MATTHEWS: OK, so...
MATTHEWS: ... trying to tame this out. Here we are, Tuesday. They
only got a few days left before they all go home and try to get -- relax
somewhere, I guess, somewhere, maybe the -- and the president is saying,
OK, sue me, which I`m not sure was the coolest thing to say, but he said
it. Now, when they`re threatening impeachment, all these guys in the back
woods are pushing it and they won`t rule it out, he`s saying, I`m going to
go on -- or somebody leaked this thing -- I`m going to go on and do this
thing on immigration, which is the hottest issue in the country right now,
the number one issue. I`m going to do it on my own.
COSTA: I think...
MATTHEWS: I`m going to issue work permits.
COSTA: I think he knows exactly how this is going to play out and...
MATTHEWS: Does he want to fight?
COSTA: I think he wants to fight. He`s spoiling for a fight. And he
knows the House Republicans are going to fight, especially the House
conservatives. They`re not going to accept this. They`re going to --
they`re going to go right back at him ahead of the midterms. This is base
politics. It`s going to activate the conservatives. It`s going to
activate progressives. It`s going to be all-out war ahead of 2014!
CAPEHART: They`re already -- they`re already fighting.
MATTHEWS: P.T. Barnum said, If you want a crowd, start a fight. Is
that what he`s doing? He`s trying to rebuild support by having a big
CAPEHART: Start a fight? They`ve been fighting, Chris!
COSTA: This ratchets it up.
CAPEHART: No, I know, but they have been fighting, I would say, since
the debt ceiling craziness of 2011. This is a huge escalation...
MATTHEWS: If you give your neighbor a mean stare in the morning when
you get your paper, that`s different than suing the guy! And the president
is being sued!
CAPEHART: Right. But -- but a lawsuit that was prelude to
impeachment. I never believed that this lawsuit was anything other than a
first step towards impeachment.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. So it`s not an alternative.
COSTA: But he`s hitting the Republicans...
CAPEHART: It`s not an alternative.
COSTA: ... in their weak spot, their sore spot. He knows this is an
issue that divides the Republican ranks, and he`s going right at it ahead
of the midterms!
MATTHEWS: So where are we going? You`re out there watching right
MATTHEWS: I think we`re not getting anything past Congress on the
CAPEHART: We`re not going to get anything.
MATTHEWS: ... because they have decided to screw the guy, to use
common vernacular. They want to make sure he gets nothing done.
MATTHEWS: Now, the Democrats -- just to be fair here and to be clear-
minded, the Democrats are exploiting the hell out of this thing. Look at
the money they`re raising. Democratic fund-raisers love the hard right`s
impeachment fever. The party`s congressional fund-raising arm, the DCCC,
brought in $2.1 million in on-line donations over the weekend, the best
four-day haul of the current election cycle, and they hauled in a million
in on-line contributions in 24 hours this Monday.
So the White House may not have started the fight, but it`s clear they
don`t want it to go away, either. Press secretary Josh Earnest -- I love
that name -- was asked about Boehner`s comments today that he has, quote,
"no plans" to impeach the president. Here`s Earnest`s earnest response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I suspect that there may
be members of the Republican conference that didn`t receive the memo.
We`ve seen comments in recent months from Congressman Steve King from Iowa,
Congressman Ted Yoho from Florida, Congressman Lou Barletta from
Pennsylvania, the distinguished Congressman Steve Stockman from Texas. His
fellow Texan, Blake Farenthold, has raised this prospect. We`ve even seen
Kerry Bentivolio from Michigan call this a dream come true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was the manifest from the clown car, by the way.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Stockman and Barletta and all these guys, and
Steve King and...
CAPEHART: But Chris, you know, the idea that the DCCC and Democrats
are raising money over impeachment fever -- I mean, it would be malpractice
if they didn`t do this, if they didn`t...
MATTHEWS: OK, explain to me why the core Democrat, the base, would
shell out 50 bucks, 100 bucks, 5,000 bucks, whatever you`re allowed to
give, because they heard there`s an impeachment drive on.
CAPEHART: Well, because...
MATTHEWS: I`ve been trying to figure out, why does it make you want
to give more money?
CAPEHART: Because it`s all about -- it`s all about embarrassing the
president. It`s all about embarrassing their guy. It`s all about, as
you`ve been saying, putting an asterisk next to his name in the history
books. And they don`t want to see that happen, and so...
MATTHEWS: Besmirching him.
CAPEHART: Yes. Exactly. They`ve viewed this -- they have long
viewed President Obama as being under siege by Republicans, and certainly
since Republicans took over the House in 2010 in the midterms then, that
they`re going to do everything they possibly can to protect their guy, to
have his back. And so if they`re going to talk impeachment, then
absolutely, the DCCC...
MATTHEWS: ... tell you something, and we all know this. We`re in the
media. You can have a little -- a little Web site today. You can have the
ability to write comments to one of your columns in "The Post." Your power
is unlimited today. You write a beautiful column. Somebody can knock out
some wacky comments, and that`s all over the wires, right?
What`s to stop all the people in the clown car, the people that was
just mentioned there by the White House press secretary? Why don`t they --
who says they won`t make more noise than Boehner ever makes?
MATTHEWS: ... they`re teaching (sic) to the choir because 57 percent
agree with those people in the clown car in the Republican Party.
COSTA: It`s quite a strategy from the White House to be running a
midterm campaign against Steve King, Ted Yoho, Steve Stockman -- I mean,
taking a few of these right-wing congressmen and trying to run a whole
midterm campaign strategy against...
MATTHEWS: Well, who speaks for the Republican majority?
MATTHEWS: They speak for the majority.
CAPEHART: Exactly. That`s why they have a voice. Remember, he
mentioned -- Josh Earnest mentioned Congressman Farenthold. When he made
his comments about...
MATTHEWS: He`s a birther.
CAPEHART: That`s not -- that wasn`t this week. That was last year,
last year at a town hall meeting, August 2013. So we`re not talking
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s possible to impeach someone who`s not in
the country legally?
MATTHEWS: I mean, doesn`t this fall on itself, these theories, at
CAPEHART: Yes, it does. But look, that`s logical. You`re thinking
logically. And a lot of...
MATTHEWS: If he was never president, how can you impeach him?
CAPEHART: But a lot of the arguments that the right has used against
the president have never been logical. So I mean, your question is a fair
MATTHEWS: You know what they want? Did you hear me last night? They
want to have the kids in school, their grandkids and great-grandkids, when
they read their little history books, they want to see the pictures of the
president and they want to see the picture of George W. Bush as the last --
and then after him, they want to see the next president, next Republican
president. They don`t want Obama on that list. They don`t want him there.
COSTA: They don`t want him on the list of American presidents?
MATTHEWS: They don`t want him there.
COSTA: Who`s they? Who`s they?
MATTHEWS: The haters, the haters...
MATTHEWS: ... people who want to impeach him, the people that want to
say (INAUDIBLE) from office, the people that want to say he wasn`t here
legally, the birthers, the people that want to make sure he doesn`t pass
anything. They want to be able to say a complete and utter failure.
That`s what they want because they can`t stand the fact he`s president.
Thank you, Jonathan Capehart. I appreciate the opportunity to tutor
some of our guests. Robert Costa, thank you.
Coming up: Joni Ernst, the hag-castrating -- hog-castrating Republican
Senate candidate from Iowa seems to believe that states can nullify federal
laws. It`s an idea which was itself nullified, we all know, by the Civil
War. Well, Democrats hope they`ve found another Todd Akin in the pen, so
to speak, where you castrate hogs.
Also, newly released White House audio of Richard Nixon. Among the
hits, Nixon agreeing to give Teddy Kennedy Secret Service protection until
the `72 presidential election was over. After that, he said, "If he gets
shot, it`s too damn bad." And that`s a quote you`ll hear here.
And could you live on a minimum wage for a week? Former Ohio governor
Ted Strickland has received a lot of attention for trying and failing. He
joins us tonight here at this desk.
And what do you get when you combine "Funny or Die," Canada and me?
Well, you get the "Sideshow," which you won`t want to miss tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) you`re watching HARDBALL Canada on
MSNBC Canada. As we expand to the Canadian market, we begin this weekly
news magazine to discuss all things Canadian and get to the bottom of what
it`s all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me explain that`s not how I speak.
But this is HARDBALL -- America! -- the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got a new batch of polls on the 2016 presidential
race. No one`s within single digits of Hillary Clinton. Let`s check the
According to the new Fox News poll, Clinton leads New Jersey governor
Chris Christie by 10 points. It`s Clinton 50, Christie 40. No other
Republican`s even that close. Rand Paul trails Hillary Clinton by 11, 52
to 41. Jeb Bush is down 13. It`s Clinton 52, Jeb Bush 39.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R-IA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I`m Joni Ernst. I grew up
castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I`ll know
how to cut pork.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, the ad that
launched a political career and vaulted Republican Joni Ernst to her
party`s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat out in Iowa.
Well, in 2014, Republican Party leaders have been intent on avoiding a
repeat of the 2010 and 2012 races, when extreme candidates like Christine
"I`m not a witch" O`Donnell and Sharron "2nd Amendment remedies" Angle cost
the party winnable seats, not to mention Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock,
whose comments about women`s reproductive systems led to them being known
in political shorthand as the rape candidates.
Iowa state senator Joni Ernst`s military career and folksy farm
background was supposed to inoculate her from such problems, but the longer
this campaign goes on, the less mainstream she seems. As we covered
earlier this month here on HARDBALL, Ernst is open to impeaching President
Obama and called him a dictator before walking that back. Ernst co-
sponsored a "personhood" amendment to the Iowa constitution which would
give human embryos full rights beginning at conception. She told "The Des
Moines Register" editorial board that she has reason to believe there were
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Well, now a new video shows Ernst apparently believes that states can
nullify federal law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: You know we have talked about this at the state legislature
before, nullification. But bottom line is, as a U.S. senator, why should
we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? I mean,
that is -- that`s, bottom line, is our legislators at the federal level
should not be passing those laws. And we`re right. That`s right in that
aspect, is that we have gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going
against the 10th Amendment and the states` rights. We are way overstepping
bounds as federal legislators. So bottom line, no, we should not be
passing laws as federal legislators, as senators or congressmen, that the
states would even consider nullifying, bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in that video, as you heard, Ernst references the
10th Amendment, which says generally powers not specifically delegated to
the federal government are reserved to the states. That`s a very popular
amendment on the far right.
In Iowa, Democrats are hoping Republicans might have another Sharron
Angle or Todd Akin on their hands.
To join me to talk about it is MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh and Republican
strategist John Brabender.
By the way, we reached out to the Ernst campaign for reaction to that
nullification video and got this reaction from a campaign spokesperson.
"Bruce Braley" -- that`s the Democrat running against her in the
Senate race -- "is so desperate that he`s once again waging a dirty and
false campaign. Joni has not and does not endorse any or support
John, there, she said in a couple of references in that -- in that
tape that she does believe states can nullify a federal law. And now she`s
put out the word that somehow her opponent leaked this, when in fact we
have it on tape. What do we make of her position on nullification, which
of course was one of the reasons for the Civil War, the South`s belief that
they could say state by state, Georgia, South Carolina, the federal
government passes a law on slavery, for example, they could nullify and
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: But --
MATTHEWS: That`s an old fight that was lost in the war.
BRABENDER: I got to be honest. This whole question in a sense is the
craziness of Washington.
We are going to have this conversation, what did she mean about
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think she meant?
BRABENDER: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: The word means something.
BRABENDER: In looking at what she said, the context she was saying to
people in Iowa was, let`s give Iowa common sense.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me read this.
MATTHEWS: You can`t do this. You`re not going to do this. Listen to
BRABENDER: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: The word nullification has a particular historic meaning.
It means, according to the dictionary, the action of a state impeding
or attempting to prevent the operation and enforcement within its territory
of a law of the United States. It has a particular meaning.
Although Ernst wasn`t specifically referring to race, by the way, the
word nullification is freighted with racial overtones because it was over
the issue of slavery and nullification of anti-slavery laws that the South
seceded in the Civil War.
BRABENDER: But you want to get into constitutional law of what she
was saying about nullification...
BRABENDER: ... where the truth of the matter is, in a very
commonsense way, she was saying, you know what, in Iowa, we shouldn`t have
to have to live by everything they do in Washington.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean they...
MATTHEWS: It`s the federal government.
BRABENDER: And when they do something stupid and they know nobody is
going to want to live by it, they shouldn`t do it.
MATTHEWS: She`s saying that you can go ahead and -- you`re saying
that -- she`s saying something different than you.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But -- yes.
MATTHEWS: She`s saying states can nullify -- go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: John, you just said something completely commonsense.
I`m a Democrat. You`re a Republican. You put it in a really clear
way. That`s great. And you are entitled to say that. When you leap out
there and start talking about nullification, you either know what you are
doing or you`re stupid and you don`t.
Nullification has a particular meaning. States` rights has a
certainly kind of connotation. The word nullification came back into vogue
-- I`m serious -- under Barack Obama, when states started saying they were
Do you know what happened? The Heritage Foundation -- this is
hilarious. Last year, the Heritage Foundation, of all places, had to come
out and say, hey, guys, stop calling it nullification. We know you like
the word. But that`s unconstitutional. States can`t nullify federal law.
So, she may know what she`s doing. She knows she is using a codeword
and a buzzword. And she`s getting a kind of thrill from it. Now she`s
been caught. And you`re saying we are not allowed to ask her what she
meant by it? I think you`re a little bit off there, John.
BRABENDER: Oh, I think you have every right to ask.
MATTHEWS: Is she deceiving her viewers? Is she deceiving voters by
saying the states can nullify federal law?
BRABENDER: No, I don`t think that was the context of what she`s
BRABENDER: And, second of all, you can ask her anything you want, but
she also has the right to say whatever she wants.
MATTHEWS: She did say it.
BRABENDER: And you do not have the right to put in the context when
you want to hear how she said it.
BRABENDER: And that`s the part I have a problem. You guys are
saying, here`s what she meant.
MATTHEWS: This is what Americans mean by the word nullification.
In Martin Luther King`s historic speech, one of the two or three
greatest speeches in American history, he said, I have a dream. He spoke
of nullification and saying -- quote -- "I have a dream that one day down
in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips
dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day, right
there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join
hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
Well, that`s the most famous reference to nullification there is. How
can you say that people in Iowa don`t -- haven`t heard that speech?
BRABENDER: Yes, I don`t think it -- it wasn`t in that context.
MATTHEWS: What context was it?
BRABENDER: If I said to you four score, I`m not talking 20 years
BRABENDER: It might be a basketball score.
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you want me to play her again? Do you want me to
play her again?
BRABENDER: My whole point is...
MATTHEWS: Do you want me to play her again?
BRABENDER: ... this is what happens in Washington. We take single
words that somebody says that in their context made perfect sense and we`re
going to parse those words and try to make it that it was a codeword and
something that she didn`t say.
MATTHEWS: OK. How about this?
BRABENDER: I don`t believe she was saying it in any of that way.
WALSH: She said it to -- she said it to the Iowa Faith and Freedom
Coalition in a particular context. She used the word more than one time,
John. I think she -- she`s created a problem for herself. She has made it
look to some people like maybe she`s too far right for the state of Iowa...
BRABENDER: Well, let me ask you this.
WALSH: ... which voted -- which voted for Barack Obama twice, I might
BRABENDER: Do you think she`s stupid?
WALSH: I don`t think she`s stupid, no.
BRABENDER: Well, you just said previously in your first opening
statement that either she said this as a codeword or she`s stupid. And so
it would be easy for me to take that out of context. And I don`t believe
you were calling her stupid.
WALSH: Thank you.
BRABENDER: But that`s what happens in Washington politics...
MATTHEWS: You are defending her, so tell me what she meant.
BRABENDER: And I will tell you.
Let me go further than this. We do the same thing with Barack Obama
sometimes, too. He will say something that, all of a sudden, we are going
to jump over it. I will give you a good example. When he said the thing
about that they didn`t -- that they didn`t build it, if you looked up the
whole statement in context, it actually meant something more than that.
And we jump on that.
WALSH: Thank you, two years later.
MATTHEWS: I have to do -- I have got to do something I don`t usually
Let`s show that again. Let`s show it again what she said and let the
viewers decide what she was trying to say, because she went into detail,
repeating herself a number of times, making it very clear to a very
conservative targeted audience what she thought of federal law.
Let`s watch one more time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: You know we have talked about this at the state legislature
But, bottom line is, as a U.S. senator, why should we be passing laws
that the states are considering nullifying? I mean, that is -- that`s
bottom line, is our legislators at the federal level should not be passing
those laws. And -- and we are right.
That`s right in that aspect, is that we have gone 200-plus years of
federal legislators going against the 10th Amendment and the states`
rights. We way overstepping bounds as federal legislators.
So, bottom line, no, we should not be passing laws as federal
legislators, as senators or congressmen, that the states would even
consider nullifying, bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think she meant?
BRABENDER: What I think she meant is that Washington has become too
powerful and they think they can pass whatever they want, and every state
is going to just have to abide by it, whether they like it or not, and...
MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t that true?
BRABENDER: ... that states should have more voice.
MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t that true?
That`s what I`m saying she said.
BRABENDER: But you are getting into the constitutional law of it.
And I understand that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to common sense. Do you Congress -- any
state like Iowa can just ignore federal law?
BRABENDER: I don`t think they ignore federal law, but I think they
are very unhappy with Washington.
MATTHEWS: She said nullify.
BRABENDER: I understand that. You`re getting caught up in the word
BRABENDER: ... where the average Iowa family is getting caught up
with her saying, you know what, I`m not going to have to put up with
everything Washington does.
MATTHEWS: It still sounds like the same thing to me.
WALSH: The word comes up for a reason, John. It`s actually an
interesting word. If you are talking to the typical Iowa family, you
actually -- I don`t know. Why would you even use that word?
BRABENDER: Do you think around Iowa tables tonight everywhere, they
are having a discussion about the word nullify?
MATTHEWS: Well, the ones watching this show.
WALSH: Well, maybe they are now.
BRABENDER: No. They are having a word about why is Washington the
way it is and why can`t it have more common sense like they have in Iowa?
That`s what they`re talking about.
WALSH: You`re making -- you`re actually making -- you`re actually
making more of a case that it was kind of a code, because it`s a word she
doesn`t need unless she`s trying to ring some bells, like states` rights as
well. There is something a little bit off in what she said.
BRABENDER: I do not think it was -- I`m just telling you, as a media
consultant who has done races all over the country, I don`t believe it was
a planned codeword on her part.
BRABENDER: I think it was just a phrase that she used, and now the
Democrat is trying to make something out of it.
WALSH: Well, she runs in interesting circles, then.
MATTHEWS: Perhaps -- I will give her one out. I will give her one
out. She doesn`t know the history of the pre-Civil War fight war over
MATTHEWS: ... and how the states tried to fight it by saying they had
the right to nullify.
But anybody who is familiar with American history and the heartache of
600,000 men dead in a war remembers why we fought it. It was whether the
states have a right to nullify laws passed by Congress. And to not know
that word is to be somewhat shorthanded when it comes to talking about
BRABENDER: And I think you are right to give her a pass on that. I
think you`re absolutely right.
MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t vote for somebody that didn`t know history,
But thank you, Joan Walsh.
I might on some occasions.
Joan -- John Brabender, thanks for making the best possible fight.
You guys, you got deuces in your hand. And look what you have done with
Coming up, funnyordie.com`s impression of HARDBALL and me, Canadian-
style. That`s next in the "Sideshow."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Frankly, like most people, I know nothing about
Canada, except one time I saw the leafs play the Flyers. (INAUDIBLE) But,
at the same time, I don`t think the Canadian news personalities on
television are very good. They`re a little bit too passive and quiet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. And time now for the "Sideshow."
Yesterday, the comedy site Funny or Die created a Canadian spoof of my
interview style, calling, it HARDBALL Canada.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m Chris Matthews. You`re watching HARDBALL
Canada on MSNBC Canada.
As we expand to the Canadian market, we begin this weekly news
MARQUEZ: to discuss all things Canadian and get to the bottom of what it`s
Frankly, like most people, I know nothing about Canada, except one
time I saw the leafs play the Flyers. (INAUDIBLE) But, at the same time, I
don`t think the Canadian news personalities on television are very good.
They`re a little bit too passive and quiet.
So, we`re going to turn a panel of experts who can help us enlighten
us on what the Canadian thing is all about.
There`s a lot of music up in Canada. (INAUDIBLE) where do you come
down on Arcade Fire?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I wish they had gone back to the arcade and made
sure there was no survivors.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m not sure I agree. But I think it`s a good
We are joined now by actress Kathleen Turner.
Kathleen Turner, I didn`t know you were Canadian.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m William Shatner. I am Canadian.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: A tremendous actress, Kathleen Turner, I think,
especially in her prime. She was beautiful.
Tell me something, Bill, $500 flight from Logan to LAX. That`s the
best you could do down at Priceline?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I don`t personally set the prices at Priceline.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, well, maybe you could call down and get
Scotty on that then.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Scotty is a fictional character. And he`s dead.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: OK. So you dodged the question on that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think that guy is actually spoofing the great Darrell
Hammond of "SNL" spoofing me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Chris, it`s a pleasure to be here.
DARRELL HAMMOND, ACTOR: Good God, you said like five words. I`m
already bored to death.
HAMMOND: And suddenly the national deficit is higher than Rush
Limbaugh in a Mexican pharmacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Up next, a newly discovered batch of Nixon White House
tapes show the former president sounding like a character from "House of
And that`s coming up right ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The U.S. has announced new sanctions targeting Russia`s economy. They
are a response to the country`s continued support of separatists in
Ukraine. Meanwhile, rebels in Eastern Ukraine there are threatening to ban
international monitors from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site.
Fighting in the area has prevented investigators from reaching the wreckage
and continuing their work.
And Israel carried out its most intense round of strikes on militants
in Gaza. Palestinians say at least 100 people were killed -- back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Richard Nixon`s decision to install a secret taping system within the
White House sealed his fate as the first president in U.S. history to ever
resign after his own audio recordings implicated him in the Watergate
But those tapes recorded between 1971 and 1973 also proved to be a
windfall for his historians, with nearly 4,000 hours of unedited audiotape
now in the public record.
The Nixon tapes represent the largest record of primary source
material of any U.S. president in American history. And while the process
of reviewing and transcribing those recordings presented a formidable
challenge for even the most devoted academics, historians Douglas Brinkley
and Luke Nichter -- Nichter have done just that for a new book they co-
authored, "The Nixon Tapes," just out today.
It`s a play-by-play account of some of the most distinctive events and
shocking events of the Nixon presidency.
Joining me now is one of the authors of that book, historian and
professor at Rice University Douglas Brinkley.
Let`s get right to it. In 1972, Nixon and his staff debated whether
to give Senator Ted Kennedy Secret Service protection during the election.
Kennedy of course was a top Nixon critic at a time, an animosity that had
been forged years earlier.
But Nixon decided to go ahead and grant Kennedy temporary Secret
Service protection, for two reasons. He said he didn`t want to be
responsible if there was any attempt on Kennedy`s life and, moreover, he
wanted agents, his agents, out there tailing Kennedy.
It was Nixon at his most cutthroat. Here`s that conversation between
Nixon and aide John Ehrlichman.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You understand what
the problem is. If the son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gets shot, they will
say we didn`t furnish it. So you just buy his insurance.
Then, after the election, he doesn`t get a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing.
If he gets shot, it`s too damn bad.
JOHN EHRLICHMAN, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: All right.
NIXON: Do it on the basis, though, that we pick the Secret Service
men. Do you have anybody in the Secret Service that you can get to?
NIXON: Do you have anybody that we can rely on?
EHRLICHMAN: Yes, we have got several.
NIXON: Plant one. Plant two guys on him. This would be very useful.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Douglas, what do you think of that?
I mean, people used to "House of Cards" have been asking people I
know, politicians, is it really that bad? With Nixon, in moments like
this, you have to say, yes, it is that bad. He doesn`t give a damn -- his
word -- whether Kennedy is shot or not.
MATTHEWS: This is pretty rough stuff.
BRINKLEY: It`s very rough stuff. He really had it out for Ted
Kennedy. What he wanted there was get a Secret Service agent as his plant
to feed him any kind of tactical information about what Kennedy was doing.
At one point of that excerpt there, Nixon says, don`t get Guy Rolly (ph),
the Secret Service man who`s a legitimate guy. We`ve got to get somebody
who`s a stooge for us.
It`s -- there are many -- he documents throughout the tapes, goes
after Ted Kennedy`s drinking, womanizing and all the rest. He wants to
destroy Ted Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: I remember he had an agent, a non-official agent chasing
him off to Hawaii and coming back empty-handed, which wasn`t popular with
Anyway, in late 1972, here is something nice, I think. Joe Biden had
just been as elected senator from Delaware when his wife and daughter were
killed in a car accident. It was a devastating loss for the 30-year-old
senator elect later sworn in at the bedside of his still injured son in a
Delaware hospital. The day after that accident, Nixon called to console
Let`s listen to the phone conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Hello, Mr. President, how are you?
RICHARD NIXON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Senator, I know this is a very
tragic day for you. I want you to know that all of us here at the White
House are thinking about you and praying for you and also for your two
BIDEN: I appreciate that very much.
NIXON: But the main point is you can remember that she was there when
you won a great victory. You enjoyed it together. I`m sure she`ll be
watching you from now on. Good luck to you.
BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There`s Nixon at his strangest. He did it when he
resigned. He compared the loss of the presidency to the loss of a
daughter. Here he is saying the best moment that he, Joe Biden, and his
wife shared was winning a Senate seat. It`s something about the supremacy
with which he views politics in life.
BRINKLEY: Well, that`s right. And, you know, it does show the more
human side of Nixon when you listen to that on the call to Joe Biden.
Nixon constantly liked other politicians, as much as he wanted to destroy
them. I mean, you call your show HARDBALL, I mean, he was the ultimate
hardball, blood sport political pro, won two huge elections obviously in
`68 and `72. But he also was willing to break the law and he`s also
willing to abuse power.
That`s why he`s such a disturbing figure. There are accomplishments
that you can read about in the Nixon tapes, on China opening, or, you know,
how he dealt with foreign affairs and the Middle East and the like. But
when it comes to -- you know, most of the time he just goes after people
with a tomahawk. He`s a bully.
MATTHEWS: Well, here is one of his favorite fascinations, JFK. Here
is what he had to say here about Jack Kennedy. His rivalry with him was
all the way through the `50s and early `60s. Influenced Nixon well after
Kennedy`s assassination in 1963. In this, Nixon discusses the public`s
favorable perception of Kennedy which he called with some envy, obviously,
the Kennedy mythology.
Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NIXON: Kennedy was cold, impersonal. He treated his staff like dogs,
particularly his secretaries and the others. He was not a beat man. He
didn`t read, all these other things. His staff created the impression of
warm, sweet and nice to people, reads lots of books, a philosopher. That
was a pure creation of mythology. We have created no mythology.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? What do you make of that? I
interviewed the Kennedy staff and the women working. Some may have been
involved with him intimately because of the reputation. I got to tell you
they loved working at the White House. They loved him bopping around
saying hello, a relaxed guy.
Where did Nixon get that Kennedy was mean to the staff? I don`t know
BRINKLEY: Jealousy. He was very jealous of John Kennedy`s mystique.
In that, he goes a little further. Kennedy wrote "Profiles of Courage",
and Nixon says, I want courage, I want people to see I`m a man of guts.
Kissinger interrupts and says, well, you have confidence. We might be able
to market you with confidence. And Nixon said, nobody wants competence.
We want courage and guts.
And the fact that Kennedy was able to get that out there, the Camelot
mystique, was something he sorely wanted. You know, as you documented on
Kennedy and Nixon, you know, they were friends for a time but there was a
jealousy that Kennedy -- I mean, Nixon harbored towards Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: This is your pub day for this book, "The Nixon Tapes".
What do you think the average person who loves history will find here, who
BRINKLEY: Oh, so you were living like a fly on the wall in history.
You get to actually be there in the Oval Office. I mean, Nixon tried to
bug everything. He bugged Camp David.
We have piled, Luke and I had piled up, Chris, so many transcripts of
all this. So, we boiled it down to ones I thought were fair and judicious,
historically significant. Nixon at his best is dealing with China, with
the ABM, with SALT, but the personal weirdnesses of Nixon are creepy. It`s
a fascinating window into the 1970s in American culture.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think there are only two presidents in our lifetime
who were deeply interesting people, and that`s, of course, Kennedy on the
brighter side and Nixon on the dark side. They are different faces of
America, Authentically America, disturbing, as you say, but us.
Doug Brinkley, thanks so much. Good luck with this great new book of
yours, "The Nixon Tapes."
Up next, think you could live for yourself personally on minimum wage?
This guy tried it. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland tried for a week
and he`s coming here to talk about what it`s like to live on $7.25 an hour.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton is heading back to Kentucky next week to
campaign with Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
We`ve got new polling on that race. Let`s check the HARDBALL
scoreboard. According to a new Bluegrass poll, I love the name, from "The
Louisville Courier-Journal", Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the
Senate, leads Grimes by just two -- two points. It`s McConnell, 47,
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
The political fight over raising the minimum wage often seems to take
an academic bent here in Washington, with proponents and opponents citing
Congressional Budget Office numbers, think tank projections and labor
market stats. But for the millions of workers that`s at the bottom of the
economic ladder trying to get, it`s a daily visceral struggle for the
minimum wage people.
And that`s why a group of progressive activists and scholars recently
challenged politicians and the public to live for a week on the budget of
an average minimum worker and to live like that. And that`s someone who
makes $7.25 an hour, $290 a week gross. But most of that money goes to
rent and taxes, of course, which leaves you about $77 to actually spend on
everything from food to transportation to get to work and other obvious
One person who took up that challenge was Ted Strickland, the former
governor of Ohio and the president of the Center for American Progress
He recently wrote, quote, "For a week, I walked as much as I possibly
could to avoid paying transportation, skipped meals to save money, and I
ate much smaller and less healthful meals when I did eat because fresh
fruits and vegetables are hard to find at a price within a minimum wage
budget. I turned to bread, peanut butter, bananas, and bologna more than
anything else. That was what I could find when I took this budget to the
grocery store last Sunday. And that`s why I ate lunch from the McDonald`s
Governor Strickland is with me right now.
OK, you started on what day of the week?
TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: I started on a Sunday.
MATTHEWS: OK, and you started to try to live on about 10 buck as day.
STRICKLAND: Yes, yes, about 10 bucks a day. The average wage worker
as you said doesn`t make a lot, $77 a week. You try to stretch that over a
period of several days.
And, Chris, it affects every decision you make throughout your life.
Throughout the day you`re constantly thinking can I do this. I was going
to an appointment, I was a little late and I found myself trying to hail a
cab and then I realized, wait a minute, I can`t do that. I can`t -- I
don`t have money to spend on a cap, so I walked.
It just permeates every part of your life and it keeps you from living
without constantly evaluating what you can and cannot do in terms of your
MATTHEWS: And you weren`t healthy doing it either.
STRICKLAND: No. I ate a lot of bologna. I like bologna. But I ate
a lot of bologna, and cheap cheese.
MATTHEWS: That`s one person I find who likes bologna. But go ahead.
STRICKLAND: And I ate a lot of bread and I ate off the McDonald`s
MATTHEWS: You basically ate what I`m told by my doctor not to eat.
STRICKLAND: Absolutely. And healthy food tends to cost more, fresh
fruit, fresh vegetables. These foods cost more.
MATTHEWS: That`s why important neighborhoods like where I grew up
when I was really a small kid, they had food deserts.
STRICKLAND: Absolutely. And in some communities, the only place a
person can get food is at a place that charge as whole lot because it`s a
little convenience store. Supermarkets aren`t available. So, people find
themselves living a kind of life -- and, Chris, this is the point -- living
a kind of lifestyle that I think many people up on Capitol Hill had never
experienced and cannot even really imagine.
MATTHEWS: If you`re debating a conservative, maybe a liberal will be
for minimum wage out of compassion, but a conservative will probably say,
we don`t want to interfere. But my argument would be, which I`m going to
make in a few minutes after you`re gone, is wait a minute, a conservative
argument, better to have these people working and operating within the
market, responding to better wages than it is to wait around for the check
STRICKLAND: Well, yes, but when a person works, they ought to be
paid. And when a person works full time, they ought not to have to live in
MATTHEWS: Where do you think it ought to be? They just did 15 bucks
in Seattle. It sounds like a lot of money, but it isn`t. It`s $600 a
week. After you take out taxes and rent, we did the math here. You don`t
have much cash.
STRICKLAND: No, you don`t have much cash. And the president is
supporting a $10.10 federal minimum wage. I can support that, I can
support $15 an hour.
San Francisco, this fall, is going to have an initiative on the ballot
to bring it up to $15. Not every community is alike and in some
communities, the cost of living is higher obviously. But $10.10 for a
person who works full time seems like a much fairer wage.
You know, the minimum wage has not been increased for five long years.
MATTHEWS: This is great what you did. This is George Orwell, by the
way, "Down and Out in Paris and London". Read the book. It`s just about
this, working as a dish washer, pearl diver in those countries.
Anyway, thank you, Governor. It`s great to have you on.
STRICKLAND: It`s good to be here.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have somebody tell an important story.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I have a plan for people
who think that poor people don`t work hard enough. Give them a wage that
offers at least an outside chance of getting and staying on their feet.
That`s the plan.
Nobody is denying there are some people who would rather sit around
and collect a check. But there are so many more who would jump at the
chance for greater pride, greater independence, greater self-worth.
So, let`s get to the supply-and-demand question here. If you pay a
person $7.25 an hour, that`s $290 a week for 40 hours work, gross. Take
out taxes and Social Security and Medicare, pay for the cheapest possible
apartment, and you`re lucky to survive. $7.25 may be one thing for a kid
still living at home. But try living on it when you`re out there on your
When you think about in real terms, bumping that $7.25 minimum wage up
to $10.10 an hour just doesn`t seem like that much of a leap. The question
again, would we rather encourage people to get out there and begin to rely
on themselves, learn the habits of work, the feeling of being tired at the
end of the shift, but also the pride that every dollar in your hands is
yours because you`ve done yourself? is that a value we want to encourage
in this country? Of course, we do. Why would we want to discourage it?
I think this is the conservative argument for a higher minimum wage.
I could argue the liberal arguments, compassion and social justice, but I
think we already know those. So, let`s stop talking about minimum wage as
if it`s a fairness issue alone. It`s also a common sense issue, a supply
and demand issue. If you want a worker, pay him or her enough at least to
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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