August 28, 2014
Guest: Michelle Bernard, Kellyanne Conway, Jonathan Weisman, Jim Johnson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A dove named Paul? A hawk named Hillary?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with the president`s decision late today to
hold off on air strikes in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t want to put the
cart before the horse. We don`t have a strategy yet. I think what I`ve
seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little
further ahead of where we`re at than we currently are. And I think that`s
not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well.
We need to make sure that we`ve got clear plans, that we`re developing
them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their
voices are heard. But there`s no point in me asking for action on the part
of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required
for us to get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a surprise. But the big debate is how far
we get involved in that part of the world. That`s a debate in America. Do
we go the direction of George W. Bush again, back to pursuing grand goals
of ideology -- you know, the freedom agenda -- or do we stick to the more
dovish stance of President Obama, trying hard to wind down our military
intervention in the Islamic world?
Well, here comes the big irony. Could it be that the voters of this
country will soon be asked to choose from a dovish Republican in Rand Paul
versus a relatively hawkish Hillary Clinton? Listening to what the two of
them are saying, it`s hard to see anything else. In a "Wall Street
Journal" op-ed today, Senator Paul had some strong words for people who
pushed for stronger action in Syria.
He wrote, quote, "Shooting first and asking questions later has never
been a good foreign policy. The past year has been a perfect example. Our
Middle East policy`s unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against
next, with little thought to the consequences. This is not a foreign
And he pointed out that if the hawks got their way and we brought down
the government of Bashar Assad, ISIS would have only been strengthened.
Quote, "The administration`s goal has been to degrade Assad`s power,
forcing him to negotiate with the rebels, but degrading Assad`s military
capacity also degrades his ability to fend off ISIS."
Joining me right now, the HuffingtonPost`s Howard Fineman and MSNBC
contributor Ron Reagan.
Let`s go with the president, what he said today. A couple things
(INAUDIBLE) and you I were talking before the show -- very much like the
way he`s been, dovish, Stay out of this stuff.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Yes. And it`s as though he had just read Rand Paul`s op-ed piece. My head
is spinning a little bit because you have Rand Paul writing an op-ed piece
that could have been written a generation ago by George McGovern, the dove
of the Democratic Party during the Vietnam war, and you had the Democratic
National Committee coming out with a statement, you know, attacking Rand
Paul from the right...
FINEMAN: ... basically, from the hawkish perspective, that sounded
like something that could have been produced by Dick Cheney or John McCain
or Rudy Giuliani...
FINEMAN: Yes, Cheney. Excuse me.
FINEMAN: ... a few years ago. So that`s consistent with -- as you
say, with who the president is. He -- this is -- this is who he is. He`s
-- he`ll go so far as to say, Hey, I don`t have a plan. I have no
strategy, as a way to buy time, rather than shoot first and ask questions
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan, you look at this -- I`ve been looking at this
for weeks now -- well, not surprised because I saw it coming. Rand Paul is
an isolationist. He`s a dove. And in many ways, he conforms to what I
think, probably for totally different reasons. I think the United States
has gone way overboard in its involvement in the world, too many fights,
too many enemies, just looking for trouble, I think an itchy trigger
finger, to use an old cowboy expression.
And Hillary Clinton seems to want to be at least two notches to the
right, if not one notch to the right, of the president, much tougher on
Russia, on Ukraine, on the Middle East, China, everywhere. She`s seems to
be much more ornery and wanting to fight.
Anyway, what is your thinking about these two guys? What`s going on
in American foreign policy in the debate?
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the Rand Paul brand of
libertarianism always looks a little better on a bumper sticker than it
does when you sort of flesh it out a little bit. Howard Fineman`s a fine
editor, and I dare say if Rand Paul were one of his columnists and turned
this piece in to Howard Fineman as a think piece, Howard would send it back
to him in no uncertain terms, saying, You need to put a little thought into
What was he saying exactly? That we should learn from our mistakes in
the Middle East especially and not repeat them. Well, thank you very much,
Senator Paul. And next column, maybe you can do something on the
importance of washing your hands after using the restroom.
REAGAN: I mean, really, what -- what did this piece say? Nothing.
It just said, Let`s not be stupid in our foreign policy here. That`s not -
- there is no prescription there from Rand Paul.
REAGAN: Now, I agree with your political point...
MATTHEWS: OK, but what about the...
REAGAN: ... that up is down and black is white with Hillary and Rand
MATTHEWS: OK. Excuse me for remembering past history, but the best
thing I remember about Eisenhower is he didn`t take us into Vietnam, OK? I
mean, that was a good thing, what he didn`t do. So a lot of times, and
when it comes to foreign policy, I`m one of those who believes some of the
best stuff you do is what you don`t do. Lyndon Johnson did a lot in
foreign policy, right?
REAGAN: Yes, he...
MATTHEWS: ... foreign policy...
REAGAN: As Howard said, this is -- this is -- Rand Paul`s essay is a
little like Barack Obama`s "Don`t do stupid stuff."
REAGAN: They`re a mirror image of one another.
MATTHEWS: But what`s Hillary Clinton say? She says "Don`t do stupid
stuff" is not enough. You have to do other things. Well, what are those
other things? And that`s what we`re going to see in this debate that comes
if she runs.
FINEMAN: All right. So if I had been editing Rand Paul`s piece --
it`s a good idea. I`ll ask him to submit the next one to me, Ron.
FINEMAN: First of all -- first of all, he should have said what he
would do. I mean, Ron`s right. He didn`t say anything about, OK, you`re
cautious, you`re smart, you know, you looked at the...
MATTHEWS: Well, he said leave Syria alone. Stay out of it.
FINEMAN: Stay out of it. That`s true. All right. He did say that.
MATTHEWS: What`s wrong with that, Ron? What`s wrong with just
saying, We don`t have to mess in everybody`s rhubarb? Why are we into
nation building in Syria, Libya, Iraq -- name the -- oh, Egypt. I`m sorry.
When are we going to go to the Emirates? I mean, how many...
REAGAN: We are largely leaving Syria alone. We have not gone into
Syria. But you want to ask Rand Paul, too,, what happens when ISIS beheads
a few other Americans? What if they attack some oil fields that are vital
to our national interest? What if they attack an ally who we have a
defense treaty with? What do you do then? It`s still just, Well, we can`t
-- hands off? It`s more complicated than Rand Paul`s imagining would have
MATTHEWS: Well, here comes Senator Paul again. He called out Hillary
Clinton by name for her more hawkish views on Syria. He wrote, quote, "To
interventionists like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, we would
caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the
Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn`t get her way and the Obama
administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime
might well have been ISIS."
On "MEET THE PRESS" Sunday, Senator Paul went even further, calling
the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a war hawk. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: In a general election, were I to run,
there`s going to be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say,
You know what? We are tired of war. We`re worried that Hillary Clinton
will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war because she`s so gung-
If you want to see a transformational election in our country, let the
Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton and you`ll see a
transformation like you`ve never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard -- (INAUDIBLE) amazing stuff that this campaign has
MATTHEWS: It`s 2014.
FINEMAN: Well, and again, it`s...
MATTHEWS: Two years from now.
FINEMAN: And again, to look at history, a generation ago, all the
fights about intervention and isolation and so on were within the
Democratic Party. It started with Lyndon Johnson and Kennedy, went through
McGovern and so forth. Now it looks like, if Rand Paul is to be taken
seriously, and he is, that the fight is going to be within the Republican
FINEMAN: Again, if I were editing his piece, I would have said, Who
are these unnamed Republicans that you`re also putting in Hillary Clinton`s
camp? If you`re going -- because if you`re going to get to Hillary
MATTHEWS: Did you (INAUDIBLE) one of these things, come on, come on -
- you`re doing one of these. Come on at me.
MATTHEWS: What is that, Pittsburgh? Where`d you get that from?
FINEMAN: No, name them, because -- because if you want to -- you want
to go directly to Hillary Clinton and set up the general election, Senator
FINEMAN: ... who are the Republicans you`re going to take on here?
It`s probably going to...
MATTHEWS: It`s great! Isn`t it good?
MATTHEWS: Hey, Ron, isn`t it...
MATTHEWS: ... we`re debating this stuff instead of just doing it? We
never really had a real debate about going into Iraq, as I recall. A few
of us opposed the war. But let`s go through the list -- John Kerry, Biden.
Who didn`t support the war? Hillary.
MATTHEWS: They also -- and the -- oh, yes, I don`t want to get caught
on the wrong side of this baby. I don`t want to look weak. I got to look
as strong as those Republicans. Well, that kind of chicken is where the
Democratic Party did not show its finest colors when they said, We just
want to not get caught off base here. This time around -- I think you`re
right, Howard. I think the great debate may well be in those debates which
FINEMAN: Although -- can I...
MATTHEWS: ... Party -- by the way, the media won`t be involved in
those debates they`re going to have next year and the year after. We`re
not even involved.
FINEMAN: But I also think that if Ron (sic) Paul really starts that
serious conversation and argument within the Republican Party, it could
easily spread to the Democrats, as well.
FINEMAN: I mean, Hillary Clinton better watch out because...
MATTHEWS: Well, who`s going -- who`s going to carry the banner for...
FINEMAN: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: ... dovish side?
FINEMAN: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Who is -- who would be the dove against Hillary, if she
does run, a couple notch -- I`m not sure she will, but she sounds like it -
- a couple notches to the right of the president. One would be
appropriate. But if she goes two notches to the right on Russia, China,
the Middle East and really stakes out a Hubert Humphrey to Scoop Jackson
type position, somebody`s going to come in against her on the left, I
think. Do you agree?
REAGAN: Boy, I don`t know. I can`t see anybody actually challenging
her now from either side, from the Democratic Party. But interestingly
enough for Rand Paul, he`s got the opposite problem that most Republican
candidates have. Most Republican candidates run way to the right so they
can survive their primaries...
REAGAN: ... and then they`re lost in the general election because
they look like a freak show or something. Rand Paul has actually decided
to go into the Republican primary running to the left of Hillary Clinton!
That`s a novel strategy for a Republican, I have to say.
MATTHEWS: Well, I love it!
FINEMAN: Can I tell you something else? In some of those primaries
and caucuses, you can register on the day. You can go in and participate
where the action is. And I think that`s one thing Rand Paul is looking at
as a strategy...
MATTHEWS: Get some Dems to vote for him?
FINEMAN: Absolutely, independents and Dems to vote for him. If he`s
the only anti-war, let`s be careful, let`s not get involved, let`s get in
other people`s rhubarb, to use your wonderful phrase...
MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s from "Batman."
FINEMAN: That`s from "Batman." OK. Well, some...
FINEMAN: If he`s the only guy out there, it`s going to be a big deal.
MATTHEWS: Well, I grew up, as you did, with people like Mark
Hatfield, John Sherman Cooper (ph). These were the people opposed to the
Vietnam war, Republicans out front there. So it isn`t like the craziest
thing in the world that a Republican could be dovish.
Thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Ron Reagan. It`s great to see
REAGAN: You bet.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Karl Rove`s group -- his group -- Crossroads GPS
commissioned a report looking at the Republican Party`s standing with
women. The blunt finding of their group, female voters think the party --
the Republican Party is intolerant, lacking in compassion, stuck in the
past. That`s the Republican view of their own party.
Also, what do you think when you mix a private donors` conference
sponsored by the Koch brothers, an unguarded politician and an audio
recording? Well, it`s the latest case of a politician unintentionally
offering us a behind-closed-doors look at what they really think. And this
time, it`s Mitch McConnell secretly explaining what the Republican agenda
will be if he gets to be majority leader.
And yesterday, we saw the tragic consequence of what happens when a 9-
year-old girl is allowed to shoot an automatic weapon, an Uzi. But for
some gun people -- I could call them gun nuts -- like the NRA people, it`s
only the tip of the iceberg. They want a society with virtually no
restrictions on guns. And wait until you see some of the laws that are
being pushed across the country. They`re on the slippery slope on the far
And finally, "Let Me Finish" with people who speak with forked tongue,
like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney. They tell a different story behind
closed doors, don`t they.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re less than 70 days from midterm elections now, and the
Senate race in Iowa can`t get any closer. Let`s check the HARDBALL
The latest "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll has Democratic
congressman Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst even -- even! -- at 40
percent. We also have some new numbers for the governor`s race in the
Hawkeye State. Republican incumbent Terry Branstad, who`s been there
forever, is up by 12 over Democrat Jack Hatch. That`s 47-35. Things are
happening in Iowa.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. When President Obama trounced
Mitt Romney with women, winning 55 percent of the women`s vote to Romney`s
44 percent, Republicans could no longer deny they had a woman problem. It
was acknowledged in the famous 2013 RNC autopsy report.
And now a new report`s come out commissioned by two major Republican
organizations, including one founded by Karl Rove. Has some bleak news for
the Grand Old Party among women. It concludes that female voters view the
party as -- and these are the words of the -- in the polling --
"intolerant," "lacking in compassion," "stuck in the past." Well, that`s a
lot to overcome, obviously,
And if Hillary Clinton is their Democratic nominee for president in
2016, the Republican Party`s unpopularity with women voters could grow, as
many would say, exponentially.
Well, joining me right now is a great pollster, Kellyanne Conway. She
works for the Republicans generally. And Michelle Bernard, who I can never
figure out politically, is president of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics and Public Policy.
Let me -- Kelly, you know Karl Rove, and we all know him, I guess, in
different ways. But what do you make of the Republicans doing their own
polling, these groups who raise money for the Republican candidates, and
they come out with these words that suggest a real problem?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I thought this particular
batch of polling was the opposite of breaking news. It`s the same stuff
that we learned 20 years ago when we were developing the "Contract with
America." It just shows to me that the caricature of the Republicans
sometimes takes hold -- take hold.
But I can tell what the actual party is doing. The party is doing its
own polling this year. I`ve been involved in their polls and focus groups
this year, Chris, and we find that some of the -- there are certainly some
of these stereotypes persist, but that there are a number of policies that,
when explained, matter.
And if you have a happy, optimistic message that connects with people
-- look, remember the famous "Washington Post" poll after the 2012
election? Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama on who has a vision, who`s a
leader, but he lost 81-18 on which one of them cares about people like you,
which means even a majority of Republicans agreed.
CONWAY: So there`s no question you have to combine...
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the question...
MATTHEWS: If women voters are more susceptible to buying caricatures,
why are women more susceptible to buying a caricature than men? Are men
buying a caricature of what the Democratic Party is? I mean...
MATTHEWS: ... does it work both ways, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: Yes. Sometimes, that is absolutely true, Chris. The gender
gap works both ways, right? So President Obama, President Clinton,
President Carter, they all had a gender gap with men. And it is difficult
for male candidates to -- for Democratic candidates to win men, much the
way it is difficult for Republican candidates to win women.
CONWAY: And just in the case of Hillary Clinton -- I mean, she may be
-- she may be the Democrats` Mitt Romney in 2016 because what evidence is
there that she connects with all women? What does she have in common with
MATTHEWS: I know. I agree.
MATTHEWS: I don`t know how good a candidate she`s going to be. We`re
-- that`s one answer we`re all going to have to wait for, how good a
candidate will Hillary Clinton be? We know she has the credentials. She
has the background, the name ID. It`s how good a candidate she will be.
If she`s a great candidate, she walks away with it.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: If she`s an OK candidate, it`s a close race. Let me go to
a couple questions...
CONWAY: But it`s been a terrible summer of unforced errors for her in
her book tour.
CONWAY: Terrible summer for her.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Kellyanne, that was a late hit. OK, (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Forty-nine percent...
CONWAY: Fifteen yards.
MATTHEWS: Forty-nine to thirty-nine -- forty-nine to thirty-nine
among women. My question is, Do you know why it`s more important? Here`s
the answer before Kellyanne gets back in here. There are more women than
MATTHEWS: ... so the gender gap on the women`s side is much more
BERNARD: Well, it`s lethal -- I mean, it`s -- it`s not only that
there are more women than men, but women go out and they vote, particularly
-- I mean, they vote in presidential election years, they vote in mid-term
elections. Women, for whatever reason, seem to be more engaged. They go
out to the polls and they vote on the issues that matter to them.
You know, I`ll tell you what I really like about this poll and I find
interesting. I know what people think about Karl Rove. For certain
reasons, I`m a Karl -- I`m a fan of Karl Rove. We have talked about it
before. I think he`s a brilliant strategist. I watched him work very...
MATTHEWS: He`s a great dancer, too.
BERNARD: I don`t know about that...
BERNARD: But I`ll tell you, I personally witnessed him go out with
George Bush and work very hard for the African-American vote. And
regardless of people who say that the increase that Bush got was
negligible, a 3 percent increase in the African-American vote I think is a
big deal. I like the poll...
BERNARD: I`m sorry?
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Did you vote for Bush?
BERNARD: Maybe -- I think he got me once.
BERNARD: Not twice.
MATTHEWS: First or second?
BERNARD: When everyone was worried about the -- the...
MATTHEWS: ... first time or the second time, 2000 or 2004?
BERNARD: I don`t remember. I don`t remember.
CONWAY: The question now is, would you vote for Bush again?
BERNARD: I will tell you that, like most women, when I was worried
about terrorism, I saw the Beslan massacre in Russia.
BERNARD: I thought about that those children who were massacred could
have been my children.
BERNARD: George Bush was my man.
I`ll tell you, though, the big headline out of this poll to me is that
the Republican Party keeps doing autopsies on lots of things. How do we
get African-Americans to vote for us? How do we get Hispanics to vote for
us? How do we get white women to vote for us?
So, the big headline to me coming out of this poll is, how does the
Republican Party get anyone who is not a white man to vote for them?
MATTHEWS: OK. Kellyanne, you`re an expert on this. Look at 2014.
Right now, we have a poll, an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll that
shows that, among women voters, Republicans favored to run the Congress, 37
percent, they want the Congress in Republican hands, and 51 percent of
women, a real majority, want the Democrats. How do you explain that?
Is that caricature?
CONWAY: No, it`s not caricature at all. But they are probably going
to vote for their incumbent. The vast majority of voters, male and female,
are going to reelect their incumbents.
And if their incumbents, particularly in the House, Chris, are
Republicans, chances are that individual`s connection with that woman and
his or her performance on the job will trump party I.D.
Now, on the Senate side, it`s a fascinating question. I think 2014 is
incredible, because you have these female candidates, Republican and
Democrat, in these tight races. Everybody seems sort of locked at 44-45
percent in all of these swing states.
I bet you that Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan and Michelle Nunn, so three
female Democrats running in the South, are not going to run on this war on
women, anti-woman Republican meme. How can they do that in Georgia,
Louisiana and North Carolina?
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re right about one. They`re not talking -- not
that it`s the only issue. Of course it`s not. They don`t talk about
abortion rights down South. I know they don`t do that, right?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this profound thing, though. There`s
a big -- you are fighting this number, 51-37. That`s a huge change.
Women, it seems to me that -- I look at people like Joni Ernst. I don`t
know if she will get more men vote or more women vote. The castrating
thing is kind of a joke, but I would bet she will do better among men.
And I think that`s always odd. People vote ideology, not gender.
MATTHEWS: And people are going to vote -- and you will have an
African-American senator from South Carolina who`s a Republican.
MATTHEWS: This is -- people -- you had our friend Michael Steele run
in Maryland for Senate.
BERNARD: Yes, in our state, yes.
MATTHEWS: He got blown away by the African-Americans. They killed
him because he`s a Republican.
MATTHEWS: People aren`t stupid.
BERNARD: Just real quickly, Kellyanne, one of the things I need we
need to look at -- and Kellyanne, by the way, is my favorite pollster -- we
have actually used her at the Bernard Center.
But I think one of the things that need to look at is the browning of
the country. If you look at how Republican women voters, the demographics
of the Republican woman who votes Republican, most of them are married.
Most of them are white. Most of them live in upper-middle-class families.
The country is browning. And you are seeing fewer and fewer white women,
just like you are anywhere else.
MATTHEWS: That`s not getting married.
BERNARD: And they are not getting married.
BERNARD: And a lot of those issues, particularly economic issues, the
Democratic Party right now looks a lot friendlier to women than the
MATTHEWS: I agree. The people that go to church a lot and are
married tend to vote Republican. The people that don`t go to church a lot
and are not married tend to be Democrat.
These are interesting -- Kellyanne, we have so much to talk about.
Please come back. Kellyanne Conway and Michelle Bernard, great
CONWAY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next -- I almost got a word in there.
MATTHEWS: Up next, a word to the wise for Texas Governor Rick Perry.
If you have been indicted on criminal charges, you should probably know
what those charges are. Another oops from the man from Texas.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
President Obama can`t be happy, nor are most people, that Burger King
is moving to Canada, where it can avoid American taxes. But he`s probably
even angrier that the deal has the financial backing of his political ally,
Warren Buffett, who had previously backed the president`s doctrine of tax
Well, "The Late Show"`s David Letterman weighed in on that
controversy. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Burger King
is moving to Canada. And they think that it is a tax dodge. They think,
well, if they move to Canada and they bought up the donut place Tim
Hortons. Now the government isn`t happy about it. President Obama isn`t
happy about it.
Take a look at what happened when he heard that Burger King was moving
to Canada. Watch this, for God`s sake.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Financed by billionaire Warren Buffett, Burger
King will purchase Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons in order to avoid
paying American taxes.
Upon hearing about the deal, President Obama immediately took back
Warren Buffett`s Medal of Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: More news after this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next up, speculation earlier this week that the U.S.-led
fight against ISIS in Iraq could expand into Syria led many to point out
that such a move would put us on the same side as Syrian dictator Bashar
al-Assad, blurring the lines of which side exactly we are on.
Well, here was Jon Stewart reacting to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Could you see, as crazy as it might sound,
some sort of covert cooperation between the U.S. and the Syrian regime of
President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus?
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": You know, it is
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) like this that makes you almost regret us destabilizing
the region in the first place.
STEWART: I guess now, in some respects, I guess now we find ourselves
trapped between Iraq and Assad place. Are...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Finally, if there is one thing we learned about former
presidential candidate Rick Perry during the 2012 GOP primary campaign, it
was that he doesn`t have the best memory out there. Who can forget the
oops heard around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: The third agency of government, I would -
- I would do away with the Education, the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.
PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was a small oops.
Anyway, it seems the recently indicted governor of Texas has forgotten
exactly which criminal charges have been filed against him.
According to ABC News, he told a group of business leaders in New
Hampshire over the weekend that -- quote -- "I have been indicted by that
same body now for, I think, two counts, one on bribery, which I`m not a
lawyer, so I don`t really understand the details here."
Well, in fact, the charges do not include bribery at all. Perry has
been indicted for -- quote -- "abuse of official capacity" and -- quote --
"coercion of a public servant."
You ought to know what you are being charged with, Governor.
Up next, if you are going to talk about taking down the president,
make sure nobody is recording you. Senator Mitch McConnell is caught on
tape plotting to go after programs touts as successes. That`s next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
FRANCES RIVERA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Frances Rivera. Here`s
President Obama says Russia`s ongoing incursion into Ukraine will only
bring more costs and consequences for Moscow. Officials say Russia has
recently stepped up its military intervention inside Ukraine.
U.S. forces conducted five airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq today.
The targets included a tank, a Humvee and other vehicles near the Mosul
Israeli police say there is a strong possibility the body found
earlier is that of Aaron Sofer, a 23-year-old American student from New
Jersey. Sofer disappeared Friday while hiking with a friend.
Comedian Joan Rivers remains in a New York hospital after reportedly
suffering from complications of a throat surgery. According to E! News,
Rivers is in stable, but critical condition.
And thrill-seeking surfers have been hitting the waves, but the
effects of Tropical Storm Marie have also caused flooding and damage along
the California coast. Lifeguards have rescued dozens from the water -- now
we take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell was recently recorded bragging at
a Koch brothers retreat out in California about what he will do to destroy
President Obama`s legislative accomplishments if he wins reelection and
becomes the Senate majority leader.
McConnell, who is currently in the political fight of his life out in
Kentucky, says he promises to use the budget process to defund things like
the Affordable Care Act itself.
NBC News has not independently verified Senator McConnell`s voice on
the audio, but the recording has -- was taken from the left-leaning YouTube
source called The Undercurrent. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We`re going to go after
them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection
Agency, across the board (INAUDIBLE) all across the federal government.
We`re going to go after it. And we are not going to be debating all
these gosh-darn proposals. That`s all we do in the Senate is vote on
things like raising the minimum wage (INAUDIBLE) cost the country 500,000
new jobs, extending unemployment.
That`s the great message for retirees, the student loan package the
other day. That`s just going to make things worse. These people believe
in all the wrong things.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, whenever the audio is that bad, you know it`s worth
listening to, because that means somebody snuck in their recorder.
Anyway, politicians get into trouble when they think they are
addressing a small group of similar-minded people. Remember Mitt Romney
and that 47 percent? Here it is again. Same problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent
of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.
All right, there are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent
upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the
government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that
they`re entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
But that`s -- that`s an entitlement, and that the government should
give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, these negative messages the candidates are sending
behind closed doors, only to be revealed later because they get caught,
never play well when they are unexpectedly made public.
Jonathan Weisman is with "The New York Times" and Perry Bacon is a
senior NBC News political news reporter.
Jonathan, thank you.
I think the old rule used to be, don`t say anything in politics unless
you are ready to see it on the front page of your newspaper.
JONATHAN WEISMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMESrMD-UL_": That`s right.
MATTHEWS: That`s a cautionary that a lot of pols cannot -- they can`t
abide by when they get in front of a bunch of fat cats they are trying to
MATTHEWS: Because the kiss usually requires an exclusive cute little
deal that I`m going to do something for you that is going to offend a lot
of other people. But let me whisper it to you when nobody is listening.
WEISMAN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: It`s a bipartisan problem, by the way.
WEISMAN: This is -- these are the donors that are backing you up.
They are backing up your party up. And you feel like you need to give them
It`s very interesting that the McConnell campaign immediately said,
well, this was nothing that he doesn`t say on the stump all the time. This
is just his stump speech.
Of course, it`s not his stump speech. This is what he was telling a
group of donors that`s not just bankrolling Mitch McConnell, but
bankrolling all of the Republican candidates that would make Mitch
McConnell the Senate majority leader next year.
MATTHEWS: This was the Koch brothers` outfit, right?
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.
WEISMAN: That`s right. This is -- and it`s not just the Koch
brothers` Americans for Prosperity. This is -- this was a Koch brothers`
conclave for the whole AFP, just -- just universe of Koch brothers
organizations that is really very broad. And there were a lot of donors
there. And they wanted their money`s worth.
MATTHEWS: You know, I`m glad we hear this stuff. The audio always
BACON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: ... it means somebody snuck a little cell phone in there or
a bartender in the case.
Let`s take a look at the bartender. No, that`s -- we showed that one.
Let`s -- here is one from catching the Democrats responded -- here is the
president of the United States back in 2008 talking to a swells, a bunch of
liberals up in New Hampshire -- in San Francisco, telling them, well, we
don`t have to worry about the people, the lower-level people who need their
guns and Bibles.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have been beaten
down so long, that they feel so betrayed by government. So, it`s not
surprising then that they get bitter and they cling to guns or religion or
antipathy toward people who aren`t like them as a way to explain their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the president lost that Pennsylvania primary by nine
points, though not just for that reason.
And, by the way, there`s some history to this. Back in 1984, Colorado
Senator Gary Hart was locked in a tight nomination fight with former Vice
President Walter Mondale over the big delegate states of California and New
Jersey when he stepped into it, too.
In front of a private audience out in Bel-Air, California, Hart
described what it was like campaigning apart from his wife on two different
coasts -- quote -- "The deal is we campaign separately. That`s the bad
news," he said. "The good news for her is she campaigns in California and
I campaign in New Jersey. I got to hold a koala bear. Mrs. Hart said I
won`t tell you what I got to hold, samples from a toxic waste dump," the
Anyway, Hart lost New Jersey, the primary, by over 15 points. New
Jerseyans -- my dad was one of them -- don`t like to be referred to as the
solid waste types. And it must have worked with that cute audience out in
Bel-Air. I`m sure they were well-off. You get caught more and more.
BACON: The key thing is, you never want to say something you would
not say in public.
Obama would never talk about religious people like that in public.
Romney would never say (INAUDIBLE) something in public.
I do think McConnell got away here a little bit because what he said
that he`s going to block things that Obama is doing, that`s not news to
anybody. Mitch McConnell is known as --
MATTHEWS: It was a total distraction plan.
BACON: It`s a distraction, but he`s actually getting political reset,
it`s pretty similar, laying out the idea for attaching anti-Obama stuff to
spending bills. He`s kind of talked about this already in some ways. So,
I wasn`t shocked.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Jon.
Do you know what I think the news is here? I think you said it. When
you`re talking to the Koch brothers, they`re not interested in a mix of
progressive here, but mostly conservative here. They want an end to
government because they are in the oil and gas business.
And all they want is no more taxes and certainly no more regulation,
environmental. They want no federal government. That`s what the Koch
And he offered that complete annihilation right there. That`s what
they want to hear.
JONATHAN WEISMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, I think it was --
MATTHEWS: We`re not talking about regular Republican voter here. Go
WEISMAN: Right. I mean, I think what`s most significant, believe me
is actually the optics of it because what you`re doing to do is see these
audio tapes, you know, super-imposed over a picture of Mitch McConnell
looking very mean and you`re going to see those in --
MATTHEWS: A lot of those.
WEISMAN: -- October in the run-up. And it`s going to sound sinister
because that audio quality is bad. It`s going to actually sound sinister
because it feels like you were catching him with something, even though --
Perry`s right, he didn`t say anything particularly outlandish for Mitch
McConnell. But you know what? It`s not going to look good on an
MATTHEWS: How would you find a picture of Mitch McConnell looking
WEISMAN: I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan Weisman, thank you for joining us. Good scoop, no
matter what you say. You`re playing down your own scoop. Pretty good work
Perry Bacon, thank you.
BACON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And a programming note: Alison Lundergan Grimes will be
talking to MSNBC`s own Lawrence O`Donnell tonight on "THE LAST WORD". It`s
her first national interview, so you don`t want to miss it. Tonight again
at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Republican governors are fighting hard to keep their jobs.
But let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
The latest Marquette University poll has Wisconsin Governor Scott
Walker down by two points to his Democratic challenger Mary Burke. It`s
Burke, 49, Walker, 47.
A similar story in Michigan where Governor Rick Snyder is trailing
former Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer, 45-43. Another close one.
And take a look at what`s happening in Pennsylvania. The latest poll
from Franklin and Marshall has Governor Tom Corbett trounced -- get this --
by 25 points. Tom Wolf, 49, he`s the Democratic challenger. Corbett, the
incumbent, 24 percent. Can`t get much lower than that. We`ll be right
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Today, we received an autopsy report of that awful gun range story
involving that 9-year-old girl. It confirmed that Charles Vacca`s death
was caused by a single shot to the head.
Vacca, the instructor at the Bullets and Burgers gun range, was
accident shot when that girl lost control of an Uzi. And it`s ignited new
debate over gun safety.
The fact that the recoil on that submachine gun is too strong for a
child of that age seems a matter of common sense. But it was eerily
reminiscent of a 2008 incident in which an 8-year-old boy up in
Massachusetts fired the very same weapon with disastrous results. The gun
tilted up, killing him in the process.
Unfortunately, these tragedies are part of a bigger problem with guns
in this country, a country which has seen an erosion of gun restrictions
over the past 30 years. And, unsurprisingly, the National Rifle
Association has been conspicuously silent since that event early this week.
For years, the NRA has raised money on the notion that any restrictions on
guns can inevitably lead to their confiscation, what they call a slippery
But their efforts have led to a slippery slope on the other side,
towards complete, unrestricted access to firearms, which way this trend is
going, guns are more ubiquitous, thanks in large part to advocacy of the
Joining me right now is MSNBC law enforcement analyst Jim Cavanaugh,
retired ATF special agent in charge, and Chief Johnson, who`s chair of the
National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, and also the
police chief of Baltimore County, Maryland.
Gentlemen, thank you.
I want to talk to Jim Cavanaugh, Mr. Cavanaugh, first of all.
What is it about the NRA`s current position that seems to the allow
them or force them to say nothing this these days since the tragedy where
the young 9-year-old girl was shooting an automatic weapon?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Chris, I would
say that lobby groups like the NRA don`t feel they have to say anything.
They tuck in, you know? They get advice from their public affairs
specialist to just stay out of the fray.
And, you know, they are very adept at maneuvering the trenches on the
hill up there as you well know. So, they`ll probably stay out of the fray.
If they say anything, they might issue condolences or something. I think
they`ll let it play out for the operators and ranges around the country.
You know, there`s associations for them. And they`re going to be more the
out front speakers on the issue.
MATTHEWS: Does silence mean consent?
CAVANAUGH: Well --
MATTHEWS: It often does in law.
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think it does as far as they don`t want to go any
way against guns at all, no matter what. And that`s what you described in
your opening there. It`s sort of a fanaticism and doesn`t go to any
moderation in anything. You know, it has to be one way or the highway, and
that`s the way the lobby groups see it. They see it as just an idealism
fanaticism with no compromise at all.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the no comment, Mr. Johnson? Not even
the words " no comment", nothing, just nothing. I mean, this involves
You know, an Uzi, which is a pretty dangerous weapon, it`s an
automatic weapon. It`s light. It`s a submachine gun basically and anybody
with it can do a lot of damage. And we saw what happened here, a lot of
damage which are unintended, totally unintended. It was the gun that
killed people here. Not just the person.
CHIEF JIM JOHNSON, BALTIMORE COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: Well, certainly,
it`s irresponsible on the part of organizations like NRA not to speak out.
It`s, frankly, irresponsible to put an Uzi of that capability in the hands
of a 9-year-old. For groups like the NRA who have been founded upon, you
know, gun safety and range and the sport, itself, you know, putting a Ruger
.22 in the hands, for example, of someone to train them is totally
different than putting a gun of that capability in a 9-year-old`s hands,
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, Mr. Cavanaugh, what would be a
restriction that would make sense here? I know everything they see sounds
like confiscation to them, the slippery slope. But here we are at the
other end has become a slippery slope. Anything goes.
From what you said, it sounds like they don`t want to hear that you
can have an age requirement, say 18, something reasonable about being able
to handle an automatic weapon. And that would be pretty liberal. They
don`t even want to see that at these gun ranges.
CAVANAUGH: Right. I don`t think you`re going to see any lobby groups
get in the press for any change here. They`re going to stay out of the
fray. It would generally be up to the states, Chris, if there were any
laws that talked about ages at gun ranges, and likely states that would
pass the law don`t need the law. And the states that need the law won`t
pass the law.
And it`s unlikely that we`re going to have any change on the Hill, and
probably federal law wouldn`t be the right place to address ages on guns
anyway. So, I`d say we`re not going to have any legislative change,
although it would probably be good if little children were, couldn`t do
that, but the children need protection immediately. That`s where common
sense comes in. That`s where range operators have to say we`re not going
to do this anymore. We`ve had two deaths.
They shouldn`t be shooting these kinds of guns. They`re submachine
guns for the military, for the police, for trained people that collect
them, certainly we understand that. In the citizens hands that have a
permit for it, but not for children. It`s not Disneyland. You don`t need
to go out there shooting those kinds of weapons.
MATTHEWS: Chief Johnson, seems to me even a fire hose had a kick to
it. You need a couple serious firefighters to know how to handle one. An
automatic weapon like this, what kind of a kick does it have?
I just wonder what kind of sense anybody would have -- I don`t want to
speak over the dead. This guy`s dead. But the idea of putting something
like that in the hands of a skinny little girl, a 9-year-old girl. It
doesn`t make any sense at all to anybody, right wing, left wing, down the
middle. I don`t get it.
JOHNSON: Well, certainly common sense should have been applied here,
and the muscular development of a child of that age certainly is not to the
point to handle that weapon. Look, as a nation, we implement all sorts of
different rules, policies, and laws in some cases to safeguard children and
others. You have to be a certain height to ride an amusement ride park.
Require bike helmets.
But yet we won`t tackle an issue like this. Certainly, here I think
common sense should have prevailed.
You know, we pass common sense laws in this nation. We`re seeking
common sense gun laws like a national background check. But in this case,
you know, I don`t care what type of rule, policies you may have put in
place, or the way the range instructor hovered over the child. There`s
very little you can do with, you have a kid with that kind of weapon in
their hands. That thing`s going everywhere.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a crazy law in Vermont, which I thought was a
pretty liberal state. Apparently you can get a gun at 16. You can buy a
handgun or a shotgun at 16, but you have to be 17 to see an "R" rated
movie. Interesting how we make these judgments.
Anyway, thank you, Jim Cavanaugh. Thank you, Jim Johnson, for joining
us. Another tragedy.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with people who speak with forked
tongue. You know, from the old TV shows, the American Indian would accuse
the white man of speaking with a forked tongue. Well, apparently according
to Webster`s Dictionary, it really is a genuine American-Indian term. It
means being deceitful. It means lying.
It always struck me that it meant saying one thing while intending
another, like all the promises made to the Indian tribes, while the real
loyalty was to those who wanted the Indians` land.
Well, this is what politicians do. Not too many years ago, they could
easily get away with it. There was even one down in Louisiana who would go
into a Catholic area and suggest he was raised Catholic, then into a
Baptist area to imply the same thing about that religion. You can`t do
that anymore. Why? Because someone in the room is going to have a cell
phone or some other piece of electronics and get you on the record and send
it out even if, especially if, that`s the last thing you want done.
Well, how do we know that Barack Obama talked to the liberals of San
Francisco about the people who, quote, "cling to their guns or religion"?
Because someone had a cell phone and put it out. And we know what he said.
How do we know that Mitt Romney was talking down to the 47 percent he said
lived off the rest of the country? Because a bartender record it.
Don`t you love this stuff? Don`t you love it when a politician gets
caught pandering to one group while putting down another, only to have the
other group learn what he was saying behind closed doors? It shouldn`t
surprise us, none of this. Why do you think they keep press out of
political fund-raisers? Because they don`t want us or the public to hear
what it is they`re throwing out when they`re throwing out the raw meat.
They don`t want the feeding time at the zoo to get out there, out there
where we get to hear what the politician is offering and to whom.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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