September 3, 2014
Guest: Sen. Barbara Boxer, David Rohde, John Brabender, Michelle Bernard,
Robert McCartney, Matthew Littman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: When is enough enough?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Tonight we ask the brutal question, can President Obama live with
Americans being beheaded every two weeks from now until January 20th, 2017?
This is precisely what the Islamic State is threatening. The only question
is how the president can stop them from doing it.
Also on HARDBALL tonight, some Republican candidates trying to win
back women promise over-the-counter birth control pills. The judge in
Virginia cuts through the McDonnells` desperate legal defense. And Joe
Biden musters his troops.
But we start tonight with this horrific challenge to the United
States. How do we, how does the president deal with these beheadings? How
does any president sitting in the Oval Office, sleeping in the White House,
knowing this is going on, this promise of more beheadings that could at the
present rate reach 60 by the next inauguration? Does this mean war?
In Estonia today, on the eve of a NATO conference, President Obama
used strong language, vowing justice for Steven Sotloff`s killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever these
murderers think they`ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven,
they have already failed. They failed because, like people around the
world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be
intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen
our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make
the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and
that our reach is long and that justice will be served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Our reach is long and justice will be served." Well, the
president didn`t lay out how he would do it. Some say his rhetorical
signals talk about stronger measures to come. Well, listen to his words
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy
ISIL so it is no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and
to the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Degrade and destroy." And later, the president seemed to
soften that language a bit, saying the goal was to make ISIS a manageable
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We know that if we are joined by the international community,
we can continue to shrink ISIL`s sphere of influence, its effectiveness,
its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "A manageable problem."
Anyway, Senator Barbara Boxer joins us. She sits on the Foreign
Relations Committee. Senator Boxer, what do we do?
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think the president`s
acting. You know, you can listen to his speeches all day, but he`s already
notified Congress in several letters to us under the War Powers Act that
he`s going after ISIS in Iraq. And he did that to protect Americans who
are in Iraq and also to free the Yazidis. So he`s already acting.
And the boots are on ground are not American boots. The airplanes are
ours. The intelligence is ours. And we have security personnel. But the
boots on the ground are the Iraqi boots and the Kurdish boots. So that`s
kind of a way we`re going to move forward.
And for those who have complained that the -- you know, the president
is too deliberative -- good Lord, I want a deliberative president after,
you know, a decade of war and 4,000 dead Americans and tens of thousands
wounded. So he is acting.
And when he sends out a signal like he did today, You`re not going to
get away with what you`ve done, he means it. I`ve seen him capture bin
Laden. I`ve seen him go after the terrorists that brought Benghazi on us.
And he`s continuing to do that in Africa.
So he means what he says. Even though he may be calm and wear a tan
suit, he means what he says.
MATTHEWS: What about the situation in Syria, where they`re doing
these beheadings, apparently? How do we stop these beheadings? I mean,
we`ve been listening to these people, especially that fellow with the
English accent. They`re talking about doing this every couple of -- at
least, that`s the pattern so far. They`ve got who knows how many possible
What`s to stop them? You say hit them on the -- hit them in Iraq.
What stops them from doing what they`re doing in Syria?
BOXER: Well, the president is putting together a strategy for working
on the Syria issue. The fact is, it`s got to be done carefully with a
coalition. ISIS is a threat to the world, Chris, to the civilized world,
to that region, to other Muslims. Most people they`ve killed are Muslims.
So he is moving forward.
And in Syria -- I happened to meet in Turkey recently, a month ago,
with the head of the opposition there against Bashar al Assad, and they
want us to come in and they will work with boots on the ground in Syria.
And I think that`s all happening.
So we`re not going to sit back and this president isn`t going to sit
back. He`s already acting in Iraq. He`s putting together a strategy. He
did say it in an inartful way. He said, I don`t have a strategy yet. A
better way to put it is, I`m working on a winning strategy to go after ISIL
in Syria. It`s going to be happening, Chris, and it`s happening already.
This is a tragic moment in history. You can`t imagine now we would
see this barbarism, but we`re seeing it. And anyone in the world who can
justify it is an outlier. So we can put together a coalition and go after
these people. Frankly, we have to.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at what General Zinni said on "MEET THE
PRESS" this Sunday, Senator. Let`s look at this, and then you react to
what you hear. Here he is, General Zinni, on "MEET THE PRESS" on Sunday --
talked about two brigades, he said, of American soldiers could defeat ISIS.
Let`s watch him, and then you react, please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI, USMC (RET.): The boots on the ground question`s
always the toughest one. I wish we were not so paranoid about boots on the
ground. We can`t even define it. There`s going to have to be special
operations forces. There`s going to have be people that can call in and
adjust air and fires (ph) and advisers to be with these units. And very
simply put, if you put two brigades on the ground right now of U.S. forces,
they would push ISIS back into Syria in a heartbeat, and probably take less
time, less cost, and I think, in the long run, fewer casualties overall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s about 8,000 troops. What do you make of that,
that we could do that? And then the question is, do you want to do
something like that or not?
BOXER: Well, my position has been that we`re going after ISIS under
the theory that this is counterterrorism. And I`m not going to vote to put
combat boots on the ground after what we`ve been through. And I think a
better strategy is the strategy the president is putting together. We`re
there with intelligence, we`re there with counterterrorism, we`re there
with security to protect our people. We`re there with air power.
And we have other boots on the ground, people in the region who have
more at stake than anybody, who know the region. And that`s what I think
is happening right now, and I think it`s showing that it`s working so far
in Iraq. It`s -- you know, it`s too soon to know, but it`s looking much
So I think that that`s the strategy. I`m not going to go back to
sending troops back into Iraq, combat troops. I just won`t do that, and I
don`t think there`s a stomach for it in the country or in the Congress, or
frankly, this president. I don`t think he wants it.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. Thank you very much, Senator Barbara
Boxer of California, sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Joining me right now is David Rohde, investigative reporter at
Reuters. Well, you just heard it. I think that`s fairly representative,
center, right and left, of the Congress. They don`t want boots on the
ground. They don`t want big regiments of soldiers in there. They don`t
DAVID ROHDE, REUTERS: And it`s -- it`s -- how is that -- is that
going to create a long-term solution here? The Americans can go in and
clear the area, but as soon as they leave, the Islamic State comes back.
And your basic...
MATTHEWS: That`s my argument.
ROHDE: Yes. And your...
MATTHEWS: Well, what do we do to stop the beheadings?
ROHDE: That`s -- you can`t.
MATTHEWS: Well, you mean this president`s going to sit down in the
Oval Office and go to bed every night knowing that the next day, the next
Wednesday, the next whatever, there`s going to be another beheading? He`s
-- how do you stop them from doing what they`re doing, is my question. Is
there no way to stop them?
ROHDE: There`s no way to stop them with the people they have now.
It`s not clear how many people they have. What he -- the 350 additional
troops that were sent in, that`s to protect the Americans in the Baghdad
embassy and in Erbil. There`s thousands of people in that embassy.
There`s helicopters. That`s what he`s doing, he`s trying to stop more
MATTHEWS: So they won`t...
ROHDE: ... falling into the hands of the Islamic State.
MATTHEWS: ... be able to behead those people.
MATTHEWS: But that`s not the problem. There`s all kinds of
journalists. there`s probably missionaries over there, straggling hikers.
There`s a lot of Americans they -- they can get their hands on.
ROHDE: It`s true, but this is this broader problem with kidnapping
and what`s our response to kidnapping. European governments pay huge
ransoms, up to $10 million, you know, per prisoner. The U.S. and the
Brits, we don`t pay these ransoms. We seem to accept that if you fall into
this situation, you know, you may die.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me -- I don`t know if you`re getting at my point.
There`s a nationalistic reaction. This country`s been attacked. It`s not
a criminal act by one group of people against a couple of our people, it`s
an attack on our country. How can the president stop this attack on our
country, this humiliation, this taunting of him and our country by
beheading people on national -- international television? They`re sending
us pictures of this!
And we just what, we wait for the Sunnis to get together because we
can`t move the Shia into that part of the world and the Kurds only defend
their area? So how do we get into that part of Iraq and Syria where the
state of Islam -- the Islamic State is being created right in our face now?
There`s no Sunni coming in from Jordan or from Saudi Arabia, all those air
forces we paid for.
MATTHEWS: Nobody`s doing anything from there -- the Emirates. All
that money we`ve been spending for years, and nobody`s coming in to fight
these people. The senator just said nobody likes them. They`re not doing
anything about it!
ROHDE: I would agree. And the rhetorical problem with what the
president said, as you point out, was, This barbaric and we`ll -- you know,
we`ll bring justice here, but then we`re going to make it a manageable
You know, he`s -- I don`t know how the American public will react if
these beheadings keep happening. He`s going to try to stop them by
preventing less people from being captured. But I don`t have an answer in
terms of -- I think if he sent American troops in to stop beheadings, 8,000
-- you know, two brigades into eastern Syria, I don`t know if Americans
would support that.
MATTHEWS: Yes? So where are we at, expert?
ROHDE: So -- so no. I -- so this is the problem. I mean, do you --
this is what you do in hostage cases. If they take people hostage and
they`re going to kill people, you can do a rescue raid, which they
attempted. You know, the Israelis had hostages taken (INAUDIBLE) dealing
with this for decades.
ROHDE: What do you do? Do you -- do you pay ransom...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me suggest something. We think -- this has been
said of years of Mideast fighting, the whites (ph), usually the Brits
before us, and the Soviets -- OK, we pull out, we have stand-back weapons.
Used to be artillery, now it`s air fire. So we think, Oh, we`re really
cute. We can just drop bombs on these people and skip away to some
Oh, no. They figured out something. No, they can grab Americans and
execute them on international television, basically, send us the pictures,
flaunt it, and there`s nothing we can do about it! So this idea that we
fly over these countries and can`t get hurt by them is wrong! They have
proven it wrong!
ROHDE: You`re either at war or...
MATTHEWS: Boots on the ground is not the only way you get at America,
and they`ll find other ways to get at us!
ROHDE: And that...
MATTHEWS: This is a war that I`m afraid we`re not exactly fighting!
ROHDE: You`re absolutely right, and that`s the problem. Are we at
war or not at war? And the president kind of shifts back and forth. You
know, a lot of Americans don`t want to be at war. Is this an existential
threat or not...
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think...
MATTHEWS: Let`s stop with that. I heard that the other day on this
network. Let`s stop with this "existential threat," that America`s going
to be erased from the planet...
ROHDE: Well, will there...
MATTHEWS: ... because of ISIS.
ROHDE: Will there be attacks on the homeland...
MATTHEWS: That`s not existential!
MATTHEWS: And don`t call it the homeland, call it the United States!
ROHDE: OK. Well, there...
MATTHEWS: All right? Attacks on the United -- stop with the neocon
language. It`s the United States. And it`s not existential. This is Bibi
Netanyahu talk. Let`s stop that stuff.
ROHDE: I`m not saying...
MATTHEWS: Israel faces (INAUDIBLE) sometimes...
ROHDE: Politically for the president...
MATTHEWS: Not us.
ROHDE: ... if the Islamic State starts carrying out attack in New
York, if there`s Americans who fought with them that start coming home --
we -- we -- I totally agree with you. We have no consensus on this. We`re
not talking about it honestly. Are we at war or are we not?
ROHDE: And you say we are. And -- but I don`t...
MATTHEWS: Well, I think we are when they start beheading people! I
think that`s the sign they`re out to get us. Anyway -- and they`re
taunting us. Anyway, thank you, David Rohde from Reuters, a great
ROHDE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Republicans know they have a problem with women
voters, obviously, and now a trio of Republican candidates out there are
taking an unexpected step to fix it. They support making birth control
pills available over the counter -- no prescriptions, no medical side
effects. Don`t worry about that. The Republicans are coming. Is that
Plus, for the second day, a jury down in Virginia is deliberating the
fate of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, of course.
The judge in the case just devastated the defense yesterday by telling the
jurors that anything McDonnell did as governor for somebody could be
considered an official act, and therefore a quid for the quo.
And also, after watching what some describe as Hillary Clinton`s less
than impressive rollout this summer, does Joe Biden think he`s got a shot
Finally, a U.S. congressman is looking for an intern by advertising
that "vapid granolas who fear guns will not be comfortable here." It`s the
usual suspect, that right-winger, Steve Stockman of Texas.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New polling on two Senate races Democrats hope to flip from
red to blue. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a 2-point lead over Republican
David Perdue among likely voters. It`s Nunn 45, Perdue 43. That`s
according to a new WBRL poll.
Next to Kentucky, where a new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell with a 4-point lead now over
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes among likely voters. It`s McConnell 50,
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, a trio of Republican
candidates are trying to get in the fight for women, pushing back against
the perception that the GOP is out of touch when it comes to women`s
issues. Out in Colorado, Republican challenger to Democratic senator Mark
Udall -- that`s U.S. Congressman Cory Gardner -- he wants to make
contraception for women available over the counter without a prescription.
And here`s Gardner`s new ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORY GARDNER (R-CO), SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe the pill ought
to be available over the counter, `round the clock, without a prescription,
cheaper, and easier for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s a big reversal for Gardner, whose support for anti-
abortion measures like the personhood amendment has dogged him in this
race. Well, in March, just after he announced his campaign to challenge
Udall, Gardner told "The Denver Post" that his support for a personhood
amendment was a mistake. Gardner called it a bad idea driven by good
But Gardner`s new proposal is in contrast to conservative with Rick
Santorum, who had this to say about birth control last time around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: One of the
things I will talk about, that the president has talked about before, is I
think the dangers of contraception (INAUDIBLE) the whole sexual libertine
(ph) idea (INAUDIBLE) many in the Christian faith to say, Well, that`s OK.
I mean, you know, contraception`s OK. It`s not OK. It`s a license to do
things in the sexual -- the sexual realm that is -- that is counter to what
-- what -- how things are supposed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, John Brabender`s a GOP strategist and former adviser
to Rick Santorum`s presidential campaign and David Corn`s an MSNBC
Let`s talk about that race out in Colorado. Is this a turning of the
tables by candidates like Cory Gardner, and of course, Gillespie in
Virginia, and elsewhere, McFadden (ph) out there, Congressman --
congressional candidate, to say, No, we`re not against women and the right
birth control pills. In fact, we`re going to make it like buying anything
else in the store. You don`t need to go to a -- to go to a doctor to get a
What`s that -- how does that fit with this Santorum thing about birth
control being morally troubling?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let`s be clear about
this. I do not know a single candidate in the entire country who`s
Republican, including Rick Santorum, that in any way wants to limit or end
birth control for women. So to imply otherwise would be morally wrong.
Number two is the only distinction here between Cory Gardner`s
position and the other Senate candidates that you mentioned is the argument
of whether it should be allowed without a prescription or with a
prescription being required. That is really the difference.
And then third of all, one of the reasons that somebody like a Cory
Gardner has to even do an ad like this is because the Democrats have spent
probably a billion dollars at this point trying to mislead people on this
whole war on women, which is -- which is an outrage and unfair to actually
women more than anybody.
MATTHEWS: Why -- just to stay on this subject with you -- why do you
think doctors require a prescription? Why does the law require a
prescription? I understand -- I`m no expert, and none of us are probably
here, about the side effects of birth control pills. You don`t just take
them like candy or some other food product. You don`t just intake them
without medical concerns. And to say sort of loosey-goosey, Oh, everybody
can buy them -- it does seem a little bit odd for people who`ve shown some
restraint. In fact, your guy in the last election, Rick Santorum,
obviously pointed out it is a problem. He said, it`s a license do things
in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.
That`s a pretty strong statement for a guy running for president, and
then go loosey-goosey in this other direction of your party, and saying,
we`re going to give them away like any other product we sell in a store.
That`s a hell of a 180.
BRABENDER: I don`t think so.
I think what Rick Santorum was referring to is that when we`re
constantly advertising to young girls that the solution to everything is
just don`t worry about it, there`s contraception, it is no longer about
contraception; it is about, what is the responsibility that we have to our
BRABENDER: Second of all, again, like yourself, I`m not a medical
doctor. I know dosages can change from person to person on prescriptions.
And so then the argument needs to become, is it the right thing to do
or not to have it over the counter? And that`s where the real argument is.
But to try to somehow make this pro-or anti-women, it`s just plain wrong.
MATTHEWS: Are you for making it over-the-counter? Are you for making
it over-the-counter, like buying anything, like buying cereal, buying milk,
buying anything else? Just go to store and buy it? Why have it even in a
pharmacy? Just anybody can buy it? Is that what you`re for?
BRABENDER: I don`t know the answer for that. I think it`s a good...
MATTHEWS: No, your answer. What is your answer?
BRABENDER: Well, but -- well, look, I`m not running for office. The
last thing I`m going to do is sit here and tell what you I believe, because
nobody -- nobody watching your show particularly cares what I...
MATTHEWS: No, no, they do care, they do care.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is clear, it is clear that
what is going on here is, despite John`s protestations, a lot of women and
men have come to the conclusion that the Republican Party is not good for
women on women health policy issues, whether it`s talking about rape,
trying to redefine rape, and even on economic issues not supporting gender
pay bills and the Lilly Ledbetter Act, let alone supporting the Hobby Lobby
Now, John can be in favor of all those things or against them, but
it`s clear that a verdict has been reached, not because the Democratic
Party has brainwashed millions of women, but because women look and watch
what is going on, and they feel that their issues are not being addressed
as they would like to by the Republican Party, which is why you have Cory
Gardner in Colorado, who supported the personhood bill, which would end up
banning certain forms of birth control, now running to this over-the-
counter thing and saying, oh, I made a mistake.
You know, again and again, he`s trying to separate himself from this
general theme that is weighing down the Republican Party, that, even in the
autopsy after the 2012 election, Reince Priebus autopsy, they said, we have
got to do a better job reaching out to women.
CORN: So it is not brainwashing. It is women voters and men who care
about women issues reacting to Republican actions.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you something, John. I`m a -- not a pal of
yours, but I like you being on the show and meeting you and hanging out
Let me tell you something. All of the women I work with, they don`t
even like the conversation. I can tell you, they don`t like the fact that
three guys are talking about birth control.
BRABENDER: And they are right.
MATTHEWS: They say all these guys want to have sex when they go out
with you, and they don`t take responsibility. And -- some don`t. And then
the women have to deal with the responsibility for birth control, if they
do, they choose it, and they have to deal with it in a society that doesn`t
make it so easy to deal with unwanted -- unwanted children.
And so -- and I don`t even like the term unwanted children.
BRABENDER: But here`s -- here`s the bigger problem.
MATTHEWS: But the fact is, it`s so difficult for us to talk about,
because we don`t even know what contraception really means. Does it mean
preventing conception or does it mean preventing attachment to the uterine
wall? All this stuff is kind of strange to talk about on television, but
it`s become the heart of the Republican platform on women.
All this talk about personhood and Santorum bringing up birth control
in the last campaign, nobody else brought it up but your guy.
BRABENDER: Well, first of all, in fairness to Rick, he brought it up
when he was asked about it, and Rick is one of these people that is not
going to duck questions and he is going to answer it.
The bigger problem, quite frankly, is the Democrats` Pavlovian
approach to when they start to lose elections, they immediately start to
say, oh, there must be a war on women. That`s our fallback card.
Let me ask you a question. Have you seen a single Democrat -- have
you seen a single Democrat for Senate...
MATTHEWS: Do the Republicans have a fallback card? Give me a break.
Do you not say national security? There`s a lot of Republican fallback
trips. You`re not tough enough on defense.
MATTHEWS: Let me take the question.
MATTHEWS: John has a question for me.
CORN: But John is -- John is insulting women by saying that they can
be played this easily by the political party, by Democrats.
BRABENDER: No, I`m insulting Democrats who try do it. I think women
are smarter than that.
CORN: Well, then -- well, then why are they voting for Democrats if
they are smart?
BRABENDER: David, let me ask you a question. Why aren`t Democrats
running any pro-Obamacare ads? Have you seen a single candidate run a pro-
Why -- I mean, what are they -- where -- what -- what -- why aren`t
the Senate candidates on the Democrat side bringing in the president to
campaign for them? They don`t have things that are positive, so this is
their fallback. Let`s just try to make something up and say that the
Republicans are anti-women.
And I think that`s a very unfair political charge, quite frankly.
MATTHEWS: But it works.
CORN: I don`t think it...
BRABENDER: OK, so let`s do it because it politically works and is
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you.
CORN: It resonates with people who watch Republicans make stupid
comments about rape, who have watched them support the Hobby Lobby
decision. It resonates because there is a basis in reality.
Watched Republicans oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Act, watched them
oppose the minimum wage, which is what a lot of candidates are talking
about in a positive way, watch them oppose some of the best parts of
Obamacare that women actually support at higher rates than men do.
So, John, you just can`t say that women are suckers here for the
MATTHEWS: Well, one way to deal with this, John...
MATTHEWS: John, you make a good point on Obamacare, by the way. That
was a good counterpoint.
And I just want to ask you this. Do you think it is smart for the
Republicans to have all this stuff on their platform again next time?
Because it`s your party that puts the big sign up about abortion and all
the other issues. You bring it up, personhood and all that stuff.
Do you want all that stuff in your platform in 2016 if you are up
against Hillary Clinton perhaps, and you`re up there as the party with all
this stuff that you`re for in the cultural area? Do you think it`s going
to help you beat Hillary Clinton?
BRABENDER: What I think the Republican Party has to do next time is
to be careful is that they are not singularly defined on these type of
issues and instead start spending a heck of a lot more time talking about
how they are going to work hard and help hardworking middle-class families.
And I don`t think the Republican Party has done enough talking about
that. And I would rather see them having that conversation.
MATTHEWS: That`s a good argument.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you this.
MATTHEWS: You know what the Republican Party problem is? More than
half the voters are women.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn.
Thank you, Brabender, John Brabender.
BRABENDER: That`s OK.
MATTHEWS: No, I would like to -- you`re not in a law firm.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the Texas congressman who is looking for interns as
long as they aren`t, as he put it -- this is Steve Stockman, one of the
far-out guys -- vapid granolas who are ashamed of America. Know any of
those people? Don`t apply there.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")
CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": It`s rumored that next week, the new
iPhone is going to come out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O`BRIEN: That`s exciting. New iPhone. Yes.
O`BRIEN: Yes. It`s going to come with a larger screen, more memory
and it can leak celebrity photos twice as fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Sideshow."
That was Conan O`Brien, of course, commenting on the celebrity hacking
scandal, which was the big story on late-night talk shows last evening.
Here was Jimmy Fallon`s description of some notable reactions to those
controversial photo leaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Chris
Christie said, I would love to know if there`s any nudes of me out there.
Been a while since I have seen South Jersey, if you know what I mean.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FALLON: Vladimir Putin said, don`t judge size of my gun by hacked
pic. It was during last cold war, #shrinkage #favoriteSeinfeldepisode,
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FALLON: And, finally, Anthony Weiner said, please, no one look at my
leaked photos, especially not by hacking my phone at 616-555-0100. Let me
know if you need my pin.
FALLON: It`s 1969.
FALLON: Wide variety of opinions.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Next up, outgoing U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas might be
leaving the House come January, but according to "The Washington Post," the
Republican of Texas is looking to fill an unpaid internship position for
his few remaining months in office. The only thing is, the ultra-
conservative congressman has outlined what appears to be a litmus test to
filter out unworthy potential applicants based on their ideological purity.
According to the job description he put out -- quote -- "Ideal
candidates will be true patriots who can count up to 17 in trillions and
care more about future generations than they do about sucking up to current
leadership. Hint, vapid granolas who fear guns, hate babies, are ashamed
of America, and think Islamic terrorists are -- and illegal aliens are just
misunderstood will not be comfortable here."
I`m glad he cleared all that up.
Finally, Scott Brown might be closing the gap against Jeanne Shaheen
in his bid for the United States Senate up in New Hampshire, but that
didn`t stop him from jokingly asking out-of-state residents to cross state
lines to come vote for him on Election Day. He made that whimsical remark
on "The Howie Carr Show" on Boston`s WRKO radio. Here is a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOWIE CARR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ask Scott why people should vote
for him after the other -- instead the other GOP candidates.
That`s from Vermont, actually.
SCOTT BROWN (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, sure. Well, the first --
where is it from? Vermont?
CARR: Yes, 860. Yes.
BROWN: Well, they can come over and do same-day registration and say
they want to come down and vote, so if they feel compelled to do so, come
CARR: Or is 860 Connecticut? That may be Connecticut. I`m not sure.
I get confused.
BROWN: Yes. Well, wherever it is, they can come up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m amazed at how well Senator Brown is doing in this race.
He could just pull this thing off.
Anyway, up next, the judge sinks the hopes of former Virginia Governor
Bob McDonnell. The jury is deliberating the case and that`s next. You`re
watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
Chad Taylor, a little-known Democratic Senate candidate in Kansas, has
pulled out of the race to unseat Pat Roberts. That improves the chances of
a strong, well-financed independent candidate to take on the three-term
Joan Rivers has been moved out of intensive care to a private room,
where her daughter says she is being kept comfortable.
And the American doctor suffering from Ebola in Liberia is identified
as Rick Sacra, a family doctor from Massachusetts -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, the fate of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife,
Maureen, is in the jury`s hands as I speak, as today marked the second day
of jury deliberations in this corruption trial. I said early on this trial
that the key would be the judge`s instructions to the jury before they went
And the judge here, James R. Spencer, gave deliberate and explicit
instructions that many observers say were bad news for the former governor.
"The New York Times" described it this way. "Mr. McDonnell`s defense has
argued that the things he did for Mr. Williams such as introducing him to
officials in his cabinet, were trivial courtesies and not official acts.
The judge rejected that argument. He told jurors that official actions
were not just a government`s job description as codified by law. They also
include `actions clearly established by settled practice as part of public
office. That is seemingly everything related to a governor`s
Well, that`s a much broader definition of official acts than the
defense wanted to hear and could lead the jury to a guilty verdict on the
corruption charges and lots of time in prison.
Michelle Bernard is president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics and Public Policy. And Robert McCartney has been covering the
trial for "The Washington Post."
Michelle, this is the question. First of all, why did the
instructions here basically screw the defense? Because I think they did.
I`m not a lawyer. You are.
MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND
POLICY: That`s the conventional wisdom, that the jury instructions have
screwed the defense, because basically anything that the governor did in
his official capacity is now under scrutiny.
I would play devil`s advocate on that. I don`t know if it screwed the
defense so much, because equally important at least in my opinion is the
fact that judge also said to the jury, give any weight that you want to the
You know, we are going to assume here that we have a highly educated
jury pool that is going to say, that is going to just sort of look at this
from a reasonable man`s standpoint and say, did he really commit an act
that`s illegal, when every governor in the country does the things that
Governor McDonnell did, with the exception of accepting these lavish gifts?
MATTHEWS: Here, we have a fat cat, hangs around the governor, hangs
around his wife especially, does all little favors for him, gets him a
watch for $7,000 or $8,000, gives her trips to New York to buy designer
clothing, whatever, all these little favorites, things he is doing for her.
And the governor gives him a little of his time and whatever.
ROBERT MCCARTNEY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": And suggests that a couple
of his aides, you know, meet with him or his people and let...
MCCARTNEY: Yes, access, access. It`s all about access. And also let
him set a big chunk of the guest list for an event at the mansion where
they were honoring local health care leaders.
I think the distinction is the defense -- McDonnell`s people, they
wanted official acts to be defined as proposing a bill or giving...
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s what I would like if I were him.
MCCARTNEY: And the judge...
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m going back to philosophy. Everybody watching would
love this conversation.
Every time you see there is a state dinner in Washington, we all in
Washington all jealously look to see who has been invited. Now, there`s a
few reporters invited once in a while, but it`s mostly fat cats.
MATTHEWS: It`s people who have given money to the president who is in
office, and they get to come to the French dinner.
MCCARTNEY: ... who get to be ambassador to Liechtenstein.
MATTHEWS: They`re ambassador, but they get -- all that is -- all that
is official. The president of the United States officially invites you.
MATTHEWS: All the food is paid for by the president`s allowance.
BERNARD: And you are hoping you`re going to got something...
MATTHEWS: And you want some ink.
BERNARD: ... because you gave a lot of money.
MATTHEWS: And you want it said in the paper you were there.
MATTHEWS: So, you want to stride around your hometown or whatever,
that you were at the president`s dinner.
BERNARD: And you`re hoping you`re going to get --
MATTHEWS: Is that illegal?
BERNARD: -- some big fat government contract. That`s the point. I
think it is a stretch.
Let`s assume that he is convicted on the conspiracy to defraud
MATTHEWS: I think they`re going down.
BERNARD: I don`t think they`re going to go down to conspiracy counts,
but let`s assume that they do. I think that the jury instruction have
given a guilty person reason for a very good appeal.
MCCARTNEY: Yes, there`s no question -- there`s question about that.
MATTHEWS: What`s wrong with the trial?
BERNARD: The jury instructions are too broad. Everything that you do
MATTHEWS: OK. Is there any chance, just to hype this up, maybe you
can`t do it, maybe you can do -- is there any chance he will swing but not
his wife? Because he was the official donor out of public advantages?
BERNARD: I think if he does, it`s on the bank fraud charge. I think
that`s the only charge that can possibly stick --
MATTHEWS: What was that?
BERNARD: -- to McDonnell, which basically they allege that he
purposely left out of a loan application that he submitted the fact he
received a loan from the big fat cat. I think $50,000 loan at that point
MATTHEWS: They threw that in for -- they threw the book at him.
Maybe that`s the jury`s way out.
BERNARD: Well, the bank fraud charge is what gave them the ability to
bring this into federal court in the first place.
MCCARTNEY: What is suspicious about that, he wrote this --
technically, he did provide a false statement to the bank.
BERNARD: But he --
MCCARTNEY: But what makes it look bad is that after they found out
that they were under investigation, after the FBI had come calling, then
they went --
MATTHEWS: Can we get back to the sexy stuff here? Do you think the
defense, they have a wrecked marriage, really an unhappy marriage, they
couldn`t have conspired -- it was an amazing thing. Oh, they could have
conspired to break the law because they didn`t like each other or they
didn`t talk to each other, you think that`s going to work?
BERNARD: No. I think that -- look, it`s possible -- it will give you
reasonable doubt, I think, that it could hurt the governor in the long run
because there are four women jurors sitting there. There are men who
BERNARD: There are men on the jury that have to go home to their
wives. You have you a spat with your spouse, you can`t stand your spouse
but they let you ride around in the Ferrari and they give you a gold Rolex
watch and you throw them under the bus. I think that`s a problem for the
MATTHEWS: So, the jury might think this is about their life.
BERNARD: Look, they have her testimony that she didn`t like being a
political wife. He was running around the state. He was never home. She
was home taking care of all those children by herself. She didn`t want him
in office anymore and he`s throwing her under bus a second, and she was
always there for him.
MATTHEWS: That`s what you heard. (INAUDIBLE) the woman is being beat
up (ph), so he finally catches the guy asleep, and he`s gone.
MCCARTNEY: My problem is with what whole defense is that he said in
his own testimony, that she did a great job and all of her public
MATTHEWS: OK, can you pick the jury? Can you pick it? Conviction or
MCCARTNEY: Well, I think it`s very unlikely personally, I think it`s
very unlikely that he`ll be cleared on everything. I think he`s most
vulnerable, just as Michelle said, he is most vulnerable on the bank fraud.
MATTHEWS: OK. Based upon your theory, can she walk?
MATTHEWS: Can he walk?
BERNARD: Maybe not.
I think she can walk. I think she has a better chance of watching
because she wasn`t the public --
MCCARTNEY: She`s got the problem outside the corruption charges, too,
because she is -- there is a lot of evidence against her on obstruction of
MATTHEWS: But you`re talking jury nullification. I don`t like this
BERNARD: I don`t think the jury -- you can -- they have to have a
unanimous decision and I don`t think you`re going to get it. You can`t
prove 14 counts beyond a reasonable doubt.
BERNARD: Why? Why bother? She`s not the big fish.
MATTHEWS: Robert, I love this reporting. Thank you. Robert
McCartney of "The Washington Post", now under new management.
And, Michelle Bernard, thank you.
Fred Ryan is a good guy.
Up next, Joe Biden couldn`t have been too impressed by Hillary
Clinton`s book rollout this summer apparently. Why else is the veep out
there acting like a presidential candidate?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Remember the controversy about New Jersey`s "Stronger Than
the Storm" TV ads? They were the ones that prominently featured Governor
Chris Christie during last summer when he was running for reelection.
Democrats said the amount of the campaign ads and they cost the state more
than a campaign propose bid another firm that didn`t plan on using the
governor in a picture.
Well, today, a federal audit by the Department of Housing and Urban
Development found that nothing improper was done in the campaign, but
followed the state on a technicality for not complying full with federal
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
As we saw this summer, Hillary Clinton`s rocky book tour was hardly a
coronation for the presumptive 2016 presidential nominee and "The
Washington Post" reports today that a group of Vice President Biden`s
former campaign staffers will be meeting later this month as part of the
conveniently timed, quote, "Biden alumni", close-quote, confab.
Well, here`s "The Post" put those two things in context. Quote,
"After watching the disastrous Hillary Clinton memoir launch and surveying
the rest of the Democratic field, Biden who has run for president twice
before, might well be expected to do preliminary work here."
It`s more than just a meeting of the minds, apparently. Biden has
quietly been making rounds with fundraisers in the Democratic Party. He`s
also been putting a bit of a distance between himself and the president, at
least in rhetorical decibel. Biden was in New Hampshire today, sounding
like he could be a candidate himself.
This is Biden rousing crowds of supporters on Monday to help him, as
he put it, take back America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the reasons
we`re not growing is because ordinary people have no money in their pockets
for their wages. They are not being rewarded.
Folks, the American people have not stopped dreaming. The American
people have not walked away from what they believe they`re entitled to,
just give them a chance. No hand-outs, just give them a chance -- because
once you give Americans a chance, they have never, never, never, never ever
let their country down. Never! So, folks, it`s time to take back America,
as we say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Matthew Littman was a speechwriter for Senator Biden and
actually, the presidential candidate Biden, and Perry Bacon is a senior
political reporter for the NBC News.
Thank you very, Matt, for coming on.
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Sure.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of that speech, that tub thumper by your
former boss there? I mean, that is one hell of a get-out-the-vote, I don`t
know what it was, but he said, I`m going to take back America, I can`t
think of what, from Obama?
MATTHEWS: Who he`s taking it back from? Just a thought, I know.
These words come out of your mind -- your head too quickly, people might
say, "take it back" means grab it.
Go ahead. Your thoughts?
LITTMAN: Well, I think -- look, I think that Biden should consider
very seriously running for president, he`s totally -- he`s more qualified -
- how could anybody -- let me ask you this question, how can anybody be
more qualified than Joe Biden to be president? He was the head of two
committees in Congress. He`s accomplished an amazing amount. He`s the
vice president. Obama`s office is down the hall.
If I were Joe Biden, I`d be out there speaking too about what I might
want to do if I were going to be president. I`m not saying -- I don`t know
whether Biden is going to run or not. But shouldn`t he want to run, and he
shouldn`t he be out there speaking?
MATTHEWS: You are trying to talk me into this? I`m dying for a race
like this. What are you, crazy? Every reporter in this town, left, right
and center, wants this to happen. You know what this feels (ph), right,
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: We are dying for a
MATTHEWS: Martin O`Malley against Hillary or Brian Schweitzer is OK.
But this is big time. This is big casino if they run against each other.
BACON: Matt is right that Vice President Biden is very qualified.
You look at what he`s done in his career.
That said, I don`t necessarily think he should run, and the reason is,
when I talk to Democratic crowds, they`re excited about two people.
They`re excited about Hillary, Elizabeth Warren and Kristen Gillibrand.
So, three candidates I hear a lot of excitement about.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think most (ph) want as our next president someone
who can`t do it legally, that`s Bill Clinton.
PERRY: And that`s Bill Clinton. Exaclty.
But I just don`t know what the path is in terms of raising money or
getting votes for the vice president to become the Democratic nominee.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s look at the rhetoric here. Vice President
Biden began to distance himself at least rhetorically from President Obama.
For instance, today, early today, the president said, one of the goals when
it comes to fighting ISIS is to make them a manageable problem. Compare
that phrase "manageable problem" to what Biden said to crowds in New
Hampshire just hours earlier today, when he vowed to, quote, "follow them,
that`s ISIS, to the gates of hell." To the gates of hell.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen up in New Hampshire seems to be
channeling Biden, not Obama here. She said basically the same thing late
today, she tweeted, catch this, she tweeted, "Do not believe ISIL is
manageable, agree these terrorists must be chased to the gates of hell."
So, it seems to me, Perry, that Biden is starting to lead the cheering
section here for the end of ISIS, and the president`s being a manager.
BACON: Not so, what Shaheen did today. And you saw Mark Warner, Al
Franken, these are Democrats --
BACON: -- who are attacking Obama, it`s like we`re in 2000 --
MATTHEWS: They`re actually going after him.
BACON: They`re going after him because they thought he`s not popular,
they can get his number. Their number is up by attacking (ph) him. It`s
like 2006, remember, every Republican went out of their way to say how much
they don`t like George Bush. Obama is feeling as well now.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to Matt who may know something.
If the vice president is going to go after the former secretary of
state in this race, doesn`t the he have to announce before she makes the
announcement, because if he waits until she makes the announcement, then
he`s sort of jumping into a race that looks like it`s already got a shape
to it. If on the other hand, he goes in first, he`s shaping the field, she
has to jump into that race.
It doesn`t make any sense to me why he would wait, unless he`s
secretly not intending to run against Hillary Clinton. In that case, he`ll
wait until after she`s announced.
If he`s thinking about it, he would have to run ahead of her.
LITTMAN: Hillary may not announce for a while. So, if Biden wants to
run, yes, he should probably announce sooner and get out there. He`s been
traveling around the country for the last two years as --
MATTHEWS: Why not run?
LITTMAN: He`s got -- pardon?
MATTHEWS: Why not run?
LITTMAN: I agree, I think he should run. I think, you know, Biden is
going to see the polls and he sees that Hillary is way ahead in the polls.
But if you put the two of them in a debate face to face, you`re
talking about Leonard-Hagler all of a sudden, you`re talking about the two
big heavyweights in the party and let the people decide who is a better
The Democratic Party, Hillary is a great candidate. The people who
vote in the Democratic Party have to decide what they want out of the next
president. Biden has accomplished almost everything you can in Congress
and as a vice president. And let`s see him run against Hillary, Hillary
shouldn`t be -- we should have a debate.
MATTHEWS: You know, we have one big thing going for him. You know
what it is?
You know, Matt, we have one big thing for him, he`ll go in as the
underdog, OK? That`s a good place to be. I`m dead serious.
The underdog is who you root for.
LITTMAN: The other thing is, after he -- let`s say he debates
Hillary, and does pretty well in the debate against Hillary, which he
would, he would be able to start raising money off of that, I`m 99 percent
MATTHEWS: I think -- we`ll see, I`m waiting to see how good a
candidate, how high quality a candidate Hillary is. I think if Hillary
Clinton comes out on the track with a great speech, a great momentum and
excitement about herself and the true person we know her to be, the person
that we like when we get to meet her, she`ll be very hard to beat. If she
comes off as stiff and awkward and makes these mistakes like Biden does, it
will be more of a race.
Anyway, Matt, this could be the battle of the gaffes.
Anyway, Matt Littman, Perry Bacon, thank you so much.
LITTMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Biden question. What do you
think? By 2016, he will have been vice president of the United States for
two terms, heading towards eight years in that office. He`s run for
As someone said once, it`s easier to run for president than to stop.
So, will he go at it again before he quits? Why? He`s been so close for
all those years, going to work each day knowing that he will be just two
doors, just a couple dozen steps from sitting down at that Oval Office desk
himself. What if he just took one more step and sat down in that chair?
I often remind people how presidents are elected in this country.
First, we don`t pick them, they pick themselves. Then, we get the job of
deciding which of the men and women should win.
We don`t go out and look for people to run and get them in the
contest. No. We wait for the various egos to go to work, and then once
they`re all up there standing at some debates somewhere, we start the
process of deciding which one of them should sit in the Oval Office.
Well, the first step in other words, isn`t about us. It`s about the
folks that may or may not make the decision to become candidates. So,
sometime in the next several months, Joe Biden will have to decide if he
wants to be one of our choices. It will be entirely his decision. That`s
why this getting together of his team is a little bit of a hint that he`s
got that decision very much on his mind and intends to keep it there.
Presidential politics in this country isn`t organized like it is in
parliamentary systems, where the prime minister is picked by his or her
peers. It`s not systematic, it`s phenomenal. It`s not a group decision,
it`s a personal one. It`s why people like you and I find the topic
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>