September 12, 2014
Guest: Buzz Bissinger, Rob Maaddi, Ken Burns, Seth Moulton
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Bad call.
And this is HARDBALL.
Good evening. This is Chris Matthews in Washington.
And "Let Me Start" tonight with this plague of violence in the NFL and
the deepening scandal involving its commissioner. TMZ is reporting late
today that one of the league`s biggest stars, Minnesota Vikings running
back Adrian Peterson, has been indicted for child abuse.
It comes on the heels of this bombshell report on NFL commissioner
Roger Goodell. According to ESPN, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice
told Goodell he had hit Janay Rice, then his fiancee, in the face inside a
Revel Casino hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and had knocked
her unconscious. That meeting happened back in June, more than a month
before Goodell suspended Rice for just two games. NBC News`s latest
reporting, by the way, is consistent with ESPN`s.
Goodell is under tremendous pressure right now about why he waited
until this week, when TMZ Sports published that awful video, to suspend
Rice indefinitely. According to Goodell, it`s because the information they
had at the time of the suspension -- the two-game suspension -- was too
vague. Here`s Goodell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: When we make a decision, we want to
have all the information that`s available. And obviously, that was -- when
we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In a letter obtained by ESPN, Goodell states that Rice`s
version of events in that meeting were, quote, "starkly different," close
quote, than what we saw in that tape.
Well, the question is, does that matter? Can he survive the heat now?
Rob Maaddi is sports reporter with the Associated Press. He`s been
reporting all this stuff. And Buzz Bissinger`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning
reporter and author of "Friday Night Lights." He`s out in Astoria, Oregon,
right now tonight.
Buzz, I always want to hear what you think about anything to do with
sports and its culture and the context.
BUZZ BISSINGER, "FATHER`S DAY" AUTHOR: Right.
MATTHEWS: How do you look at this whole thing? I just want your take
on Goodell`s performance here, why he believed the Rices and their -- and
their representatives, whoever those PR people were, or lawyers were, and
why he didn`t believe what he saw on the tape of the guy -- the guy
dragging his fiancee out of the elevator and the police report that said
she was knocked out by the punch.
BISSINGER: Well, look, there were all sorts of signs, and before
June. You know, there was the police report saying that she had been
knocked unconscious and that Ray had done it. In February, it was reported
that this tape did exist. That was reported by "Sports Illustrated."
It`s getting worse and worse and worse, the stink, because whatever
Goodell says or not -- didn`t say, he should have gotten a copy of that
tape. When they vet draft picks, they will know the last time you had
lunch and what you ate for dinner. So in this case, the excuse, We
couldn`t get it, we couldn`t find it, they didn`t give it to us, doesn`t
wash. It doesn`t wash.
And you know, Goodell`s in trouble. I think the owners like him, and
I think at the end of the day, he`s going to claim it was all semantic
differences. What does it mean to strike unconscious? But it`s stinking
worse and worse.
MATTHEWS: But the word "ambiguous" he used with Norah O`Donnell on
CBS -- "ambiguous" -- what do you think he was saying? What were people
hearing when they heard "ambiguous," meaning there was different testimony,
it was the old Groucho Marx, "What are you going to do, believe me or your
I mean, there was visual information available about the condition of
that woman, coming -- being hauled off the elevator by -- by Rice. There
was a police report, which is a document, a primary source of information,
a police report, and yet he was believing weeks later some nice -- when
people come in all dressed up and cleaned up and looking nice and smelling
nice and everybody`s telling nice stories, and he believed it then?
BISSINGER: Yes, because, look, it`s the NFL. They`re selling a
product. Ray Rice is a big-time player. He didn`t have a good year last
year, but he`s pivotal to the Ravens. You know, he could have suspended
him indefinitely on the basis of what they knew, was that she was struck
My guess is the difference will be -- strike unconscious, he`ll say,
Well, that -- I was never told that he actually took a roundhouse. You
know, maybe he pushed her, maybe she fell to the elevator. It`s going to
be all this semantic BS.
The fact of the matter is, the NFL has objectified women for how many
years? Why do you have women cheerleaders? Why do all these teams have
cheerleaders? Because it`s all about sex. It`s about objectification of
women. And they`re also selling violence. They have a real opportunity to
do something far beyond the sexual assault, which is horrific. Get the
objectification out of the game. But I don`t think they`ll do anything.
And look, the biggest number you need to know is 13. That was the
rating, the share last night for the Ravens and the Steelers. People are
football-obsessed, so the NFL is sitting there, saying, We`re -- we`re
bulletproof. We`re bulletproof. Nothing in the end is going to change the
popularity of the game, which means Benjamins and millions and billions in
MATTHEWS: Rob, back to you with the same point he made. I want you,
as a reporter on the game -- you know, you watch people being interviewed
today from the Ravens game last night, all cheering for him, all these
women, women, all -- one after another, a woman saying, Let him stay. Rice
is great. Forget about all this. This is nothing. Forgive and forget.
This obsession with the next game, I guess it is. What is it?
ROB MAADDI, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Chris, you know, the most interesting
quote that I heard last night -- and I was there and I was in the locker
room afterwards -- was from Torrey Smith, a wide receiver on the Baltimore
Ravens, saying that Ray Rice is still a great guy, he`s still a great
person, and if you take those two minutes of his life away, he`s just a
model citizen. And that`s what his teammates believe.
Most of the teammates that I spoke to just rave about Ray Rice as a
human being, as an individual. They are still friendly with him. They
feel bad for him and for the situation. Nobody -- no one -- condones
anything that he did, but they`re trying to say that this was an isolated
incident, and they love this guy and he`s been a great, great teammate, a
great member of the community and just a very well-respected person in the
entire city of Baltimore.
So I did see a lot of female fans and a lot of male fans wearing a Ray
Rice jersey last night, and that says a lot about the way that he captured
that city and had a big fan base.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, "The San Diego Tribune" and "USA Today" tracked
NFL arrests, and they report that there have been at least 28 NFL players
arrested this year since the Super Bowl, and some of the charges include
suspicion of felony domestic violence, driving under the influence, DUI,
drug possession, battery and disorderly conduct, assaulting a police
officer, aggravated assault.
Buzz, besides the treatment of women, is there a sort of a bad boy
aspect to football, especially, where it`s part of the image of the sport
that some of the players are just almost to the point of being dangerous
BISSINGER: Look, they`re -- I think they`re trying to lessen it on
the fringes, but that`s always been part of football -- violence, hitting
people, machismo. Yes, you get in a little trouble. It`s hearkened back
to Bobley Lane (ph).
BISSINGER: You know, supposedly (INAUDIBLE) Paul Hornung gambled.
These are he-men. Goodell`s problem is he`s not going to suspend 28
players because it`s going to dilute the product. He`s doesn`t want to do
If what ESPN and NBC are reporting is true, and even if it isn`t true,
the fact that he only gave him two games, a two-game suspension, when he
knew that she had been knocked out by force from Ray Rice is despicable!
It is despicable because Ray Rice might be a great guy or not, what does he
do? He walks away. He walks away.
Trust me, in an NFL championship in the Super Bowl, he would walk away
if some guy got in his face, but he should have walked away here and said
he -- I mean, he didn`t just knock her out. He threw a roundhouse left.
It`s probably the most brutal act that many of us have seen.
And this two minutes -- well, then, let`s let all murderers out.
Let`s let all killers out. It only takes two minutes to wreck a life or to
kill somebody. It`s a ridiculous thing and a distressing thing for pro
football players and teammates to say. It`s absurd.
MATTHEWS: Rob, what do you think is the timing on the report by the
Mueller effort, the Mueller commission by NFL? Are they going to get to
the bottom of this in a reasonable amount of time? How many people are
there at NFL headquarters you got to interview to get this thing done
MAADDI: Well, Chris, and that`s the big thing. You know, since my
report came out that someone at the NFL did, indeed, receive that video --
a female voice in the voicemail that I heard from my law enforcement
official source, a 12-second voicemail from a female saying she received it
and she agreed with the law enforcement official that this was terrible --
the NFL has launched this investigation.
Well, as you said, there are a lot of employees in that building, a
lot of people walking through. The big question is who else saw that
video? Did this video get past that woman? Did she give it to the
intended recipient? Did it ever get to Roger Goodell`s hands, or did it
stop at that female voicemail? Is she the last person who saw?
And the investigation by the NFL should get to the bottom of that, and
this could take some time. It really could take a lot of time.
MATTHEWS: Why? Why don`t you just everybody in the room who`s a
female and ask them whether they got the -- they ever got the video? Just
ask them all in one hour! How long could it take? Just...
MATTHEWS: ... a simple question, Yes or no, did you ever get a tape
that showed this guy beating up his girlfriend? Did you ever see the tape?
Ask them, yes or no, and move on. You didn`t? Let`s go to the next
person. You go right through the list of people in the headquarters, you
get your answer.
Why does it take so long? I know why it takes so long. It`s public
relations. And if you want to kill an issue, have a commission, have a
meeting. And you know what you do? You let it sit there until the whole
thing gets cold. And two or three months from now, when the thing`s cold,
on a Friday night, you release a report that accepts responsibility in some
vague, We`re all guilty" BS thing.
Don`t you think they`ll do that, Rob? You`re reporting this.
MAADDI: And they have done that. They`ve said that they made an
error in giving him just the two games, and they`ve changed their rules and
they`ve changed their policy and now it`s going to be a sixth game and now
it`s going to be -- so they`ve made -- every step along the way, they`ve
gone back and said, We handled this wrong.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MAADDI: We did the wrong thing in this from the beginning. But now,
you know, everybody -- there`s a different development every day. Did (ph)
it (ph) right (ph). We all want to know, did they see that video? And
that`s the key thing.
MAADDI: Did they see that video, or are they just reacting -- are
they just reacting to the public reaction of the video?
MATTHEWS: Buzz, every week, they get ready for the next game. They
do everything they can to get ready for the next game. They get ready.
They get it done. They don`t say, Give me three months to get ready for
the next game! They can ask a simple binary question, Did you see this
video, to everybody in their headquarters and be done in an hour or two. I
think it`s a game. Your thoughts, Buzz, last word.
BISSINGER: Well, of course, that`s -- I think you made a good point.
You know, commission it to death, report it to death. Robert Mueller --
you know what he`ll do? He`ll take four to five months or three months.
It`ll be 185-page report.
Chris, I will fly you out here to God`s country. I will fly you
because I guarantee what Mueller will say. He`ll rake the NFL over the
coals, This was despicably handled, the tape existed somewhere, but I have
concluded that Roger Goodell did not see it. Case closed.
I guarantee you that will be the result!
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. Buzz, you`re the best. Buzz
Bissinger. And than you, Bob -- Rob Maaddi. And congratulations on that
great reporting, and you deserve awards for that.
Up next, the great documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will be here with
an early look at his new seven-part series on the Roosevelts. It`s all
about Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor, and it premieres this Sunday.
Plus, Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa, her first time back since her
bitter defeat in the 2008 caucuses. Will she tack to the right of
President Obama on foreign policy, or play to Iowa`s anti-war base?
And the battle against ISIS. We`ll be joined by congressional
candidate Seth Moulton, an anti-war veteran who did four tours of duty in
Iraq, and just this weekend -- this week, actually -- defeated sitting U.S.
Congressman John Tierney in the Democratic primary up there in
Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the very Democratic notion that
dynasties make no sense whatever.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Hillary and Bill Clinton are heading to Iowa this weekend,
as I said, but the former president was back at the White House today. He
joined up with President Obama to mark the 20th anniversary of the start of
Americorps, the national service program started back in 1994 when Clinton
was president. And since then, 900,000 Americans have volunteered their
service here at home.
And we`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is the
second dedication, and there will be others by other presidents.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
ROOSEVELT: And I think that we can perhaps meditate a little on those
Americans 10,000 years from now -- I think we can wonder whether our
descendants, because I think they`ll still be here -- what they will think
about us. And let us hope that at least they will give us the benefit of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back. That was, of course, President Franklin
Roosevelt, this time at the dedication of Mount Rushmore in 1936, part of a
new documentary, "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" by filmmaker Ken
Burns, beginning Sunday at 8:00 PM on PBS -- that`s 8:00 PM Eastern. "The
Roosevelts" is a seven-night event telling the interwoven story of three
remarkable figures of the same family, Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin
The opening scene, by the way, of the film begins with a bold
prediction that a young FDR made himself when he was first starting his
career as a legal clerk on Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The junior clerks were idly talking about their
dreams for the future. Most hoped just to become partners one day. But
one had far bigger dreams. He didn`t plan to practice law for long, he
said. He intended to go into politics and eventually become president of
the United States.
The speaker was just 25 years old. He had been an undistinguished
student, and he was an indifferent lawyer. But no one laughed. His name,
after all, was Franklin Roosevelt. His fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt,
was already president, the youngest and perhaps the most popular president
in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is the filmmaker behind "The
Roosevelts," the great Ken Burns. Ken, I think people don`t realize how
enormously popular Teddy Roosevelt was in his time. He was probably the
first media president, wasn`t he, that everybody knew and knew what he
looked like and everything?
KEN BURNS, FILMMAKER: I think so. He completely redefined the
presidency. He was young. He was energetic. He was essentially himself,
even though he`s got a kind of Harvard or certainly upper crust accent and
he`s got Coke bottle glasses and he`s sort of rotund. People just fell in
love with him because he had so much energy. He was so driven.
And of course, part of the appeal for the young, a little bit too
charming, a little bit too ambitious, a little bit too thin at that moment
young fifth cousin Franklin is that he`s going to try to follow each one of
the footsteps of his more famous fifth cousin. And of course, it isn`t
really until he can`t take another footstep because of infantile paralysis
that Franklin Roosevelt gains the gravitas, the empathy that`s able to lift
the country up through the Depression and the Second World War.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I like FDR more and more every year I get older. I
keep thinking more about the power of the guy and...
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Joe -- Joe Alsop, the great columnist, once said he
was lying on the ground in Hong Kong the day after Pearl Harbor and he was
listening to Roosevelt`s speech on the radio and he could only pick out
every other word, but he could heard the voice and he knew in listening to
FDR that we would win the war.
BURNS: You know, there`s a moment eight days after he`s inaugurated
in `33 where he gives his famous banking address, the first of the so-
called "fireside chats," and in less than 15 minutes, he describes how we
got into this banking mess, what the problem was and how we were going to
get out of it.
And you know, the next day, people expected another run, and instead,
people put their money back in the bank. He had that great charismatic
power to make people believe that they could do anything. And he could do
that because he had had this extraordinarily confident upbringing, and even
with polio, even with all the other adversity, he was able to translate
that into something else.
I think all the Roosevelts had distance in their eyes and felt that we
all do well when we all do well. And strangely enough, no one has ever put
all three together. I think it may just be the superficiality of the
difference that TR`s a Republican and Franklin`s a Democrat. But this is a
great, Tolstoyan, you know, "Downton Abbey" that`s all-American and true,
has the virtue of being true.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about Eleanor, who often gets overlooked.
She was -- she accomplished a lot in her own right and as first lady,
also long after leaving the White House. I can remember all that. She may
have played a supporting reel to her husband while he was president, but
she was also very much her own person.
Let`s -- let`s watch her for a second here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEOFFREY C. WARD, BIOGRAPHER: The Roosevelt marriage was a
partnership in which each played a very important part. Each admired the
other. Each wanted very much the approval of the other.
That was true throughout their lives together, even when they were mad
at each other. They lived very separate lives. Even when they were in the
White House, they were very separate lives. And she took the sort of cold
view of his fame and the kind of popularity he had. She knew he was, and
he wasn`t quite what they thought he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The more I read about her, how she stood up for the anti-
lynching laws -- she was really fighting the lynching thing in the South
back in the `30s.
And, of course, that`s tough for a Democrat because of the coalition
in the old days. And she also come out and quit the DAR, the Daughters of
the American Revolution, because they wouldn`t let Marian Anderson of
Philadelphia, who`s African-American, sing at the Constitution Hall. She
really did stick her neck out, didn`t she?
BURNS: Everywhere. Everywhere. She`s a miracle of the human spirit.
She shouldn`t have survived her orphanhood and this desperate childhood.
She shouldn`t have survived the infidelity of Franklin.
In fact, though, it`s these things that made her face her fears and
made her go out in the world. She became the conscience of the
administration. She understood well before anyone what were the coming
issues of race, of poverty, of labor, of immigration, of health, of
children, of women.
And she, with great -- you know, being ridiculed all the time for her
looks and people making fun of her, she just put her face forward and went
at the most difficult thing and never let up. I think, with the exception
of prohibition, Eleanor Roosevelt was right on absolutely everything.
And that`s an amazing testament to her fortitude and this thing that
she had. She was her uncle Theodore`s favorite niece, and she had all of
his sense of having to escape the demons of what had happened to her in her
BURNS: And she worked her whole life to escape those, and look what
she became. It`s just a testament to the human spirit.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have to tell you, I think she wasn`t really great
for Catholics, though. She wasn`t big on Catholics. If you know that, you
ought to know everything about her.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, she didn`t like Jack Kennedy one bit. Anyway...
BURNS: But they got to be friends after a while.
MATTHEWS: Well, but she got -- she let him overcome his Irish
Catholic background after a while, but she didn`t like it.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Teddy Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt was known for his
larger-than-life personality and unbending willpower during a campaign in
A gunman attempted to assassinate the former president, and not only
did Roosevelt survive, but he resumed giving his speech. Here`s that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The bullet passed through the ex-president`s spectacles
case, and the folded 50-page speech behind it, smashed through his chest
wall and lodged in a splintered rib less than a quarter-of-an-inch from his
heart. Pale and sometimes swaying at the podium, he went on for more than
an hour before his aides could get him to stop and agree to go to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ken, talk about why he didn`t run.
I know some of this. I`m sure you know more about why he didn`t run
in 2000 -- and -- I`m sorry -- 1908. He could have easily gotten reelected
to a second full term.
MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he do that?
BURNS: The biggest political mistake Theodore Roosevelt made was when
he was elected in 1904 his own right, as he is sort of celebrating the
victory, he makes this declaration, like Washington or Cincinnatus, that
he`s not going to run again.
And his wife is taken aback. His daughter Alice is taken aback. He
is even taken aback. And he says, if I could recall that statement, I
gladly would cut off my right arm. But, of course, he then engineered that
his good friend William Howard Taft would succeed him to the presidency.
And, then of course, unhappy that he was not the president, he ended
up running in the 1912 first as a Republican. The bosses wouldn`t let him
do that. He joined the Progressive Party and became the Bull Moose
And much of the New Deal is in that party platform and much of what
Franklin Roosevelt was later able to achieve came from that platform. And
so you see the direct connection between these two progressives, one
Democrat, one Republican. The one thing they couldn`t get done -- and if
T.R. were to arrive today, he`d shake his head and just say, what? It took
you a hundred years to get that health care thing that I wanted done?
I mean, Franklin couldn`t do it either, and it took until 2009 for
that to be the sort of the cherry on the top of the New Deal.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I heard this great story by a T.R. expert that said
that the reason he didn`t run in 1908 was because he said he wouldn`t, and
he said, I said I wouldn`t.
BURNS: He`s a man of his word.
MATTHEWS: I`m sure that if I had gone out there and said, well, times
have changed, conditions are different, I have reexamined that and ran,
people would say...
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s a politician.
BURNS: But then he did do that in 1912. I mean, he did...
MATTHEWS: I know, but he -- well, let me stick with my -- my hero
worship here for a second.
BURNS: Well, you have got to be very careful with Teddy. He`s
wonderful, but he`s also got that destabilized thing. He`s always trying
to outrun his demons.
He thinks war is a good thing.
MATTHEWS: I know.
BURNS: He was disappointed that he didn`t get a disfiguring wound on
San Juan Hill. He pushes his own sons closer and closer to combat in World
War I, with unspeakable, tragic consequences.
So I think -- you know, George Will says in our film, you have to look
at him with kind of clear eyes, given what the 20th century was.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
Well, you have clear eyes for Eleanor, and I have got clear eyes for
BURNS: And so we will meet in the middle with Franklin.
MATTHEWS: Well, what a great man.
Anyway, the -- maybe one of the two greatest presidents.
BURNS: Oh, I think he`s obviously the greatest president of the 20th
century, Franklin Roosevelt.
And, as a Lincoln guy, he`s come up to parity with Lincoln in my eyes,
so I think he`s indispensable, in the way Washington and Lincoln were, to
the survival of our republic.
MATTHEWS: Where do we find him?
Anyway, thank you. The seven-part documentary on the Roosevelts
begins this Sunday on PBS.
And thank you, Ken Burns.
And we will be right back after this.
BURNS: Thank you, Chris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Sir, we`re fighting
ISIS. Why can`t you get their name right?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The terrorist group
known as ISIL. ISIL. ISIL. ISIL. ISIL. ISIL. ISIL.
COLBERT: Now I agree they`re acting like a bunch of ISILs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: But, sir, technically, technically, it`s ISIS. If you just
slam an L. on the end of words willy-nilly whenever you want, you are going
to make mistakes. I mean, you will think you`re bombing Syria, and instead
end up bombing cereal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Now time for the "Sideshow."
In an interview on C-SPAN, U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn of South
Carolina, he`s a Democrat, was talking about the many ways to mobilize
voters, especially in the technology age. But when ticking off the various
way to get out the vote these days, Clyburn suggested yet another
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Use the tools that we have.
You have got great tools to communicate about everything else. We can
text. what do we call it, sexting. Let`s do some voting, organizing over
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, as a huge admirer of the congressman, of
Congressman Clyburn, I knew exactly what he meant, texting, and good for
But while one leader mentioned sex by accident, another had it clearly
in mind. After President Obama spoke of American airstrikes against ISIS
in Syria, former CIA Director and retired Air Force General Michael Hayden
said -- quote -- you won`t believe this -- "The reliance on airpower has
all the attraction of casual sex. It seems to offer gratification, but
with very little commitment."
And we all knew this was coming sooner or later. Now that New
Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen officially has her opponent for November`s
election, she`s going on offense. Her rival is of course former
Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who is seeking his old job back, this
time from the state next door.
Well, here`s Shaheen`s new Web site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I`m going to do what I think is
right for Massachusetts first.
I`m proud to be from Massachusetts.
I am nobody`s senator except yours.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BROWN: I care about New Hampshire.
Nobody`s senator but yours.
Nobody`s senator but yours. Nobody`s.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, his residence might be different, but at least his
message is the same.
Coming up: Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa. Will the anti-war base out
there embrace her?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. We
have breaking news.
The Minnesota Vikings have benched star running back Adrian Peterson
from Sunday`s game against the Patriots. Peterson was indicted in Texas
for child abuse. His lawyer says Peterson used a switch to discipline his
son, but never intended to harm him.
The family of Oscar Pistorius is expressing relief that he was not
convicted of murder, but was still found guilty of culpable homicide in the
death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He could get a suspended
sentence or up to 15 years in prison -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, two presidential elections ago, Hillary Clinton went out to Iowa
and came back in third place. Like others before her, she learned that
Iowa can be a very dangerous place politically. Teddy Kennedy, Ronald
Reagan, George Bush and Mitt Romney once gave Iowa a try and lost. Iowa is
a place that likes underdogs. Will it welcome the ultimate front-runner,
Hillary Clinton, this time?
On Sunday, Clinton will make her first trip to Iowa since 2008. She
will speak at Senator Tom Harkin`s final steak fry, which has been an
annual tradition for 37 years. What we know about Iowa is that its
activist Democratic base is very anti-war. So the question is, which
Hillary will they see this time? Will it be the candidate who pushes a
notch or two to the right of President Obama on foreign policy?
She`s called not arming the Syrian rebels sooner a failure. She`s
opposed dumping Hosni Mubarak as quickly as some in the administration
wanted to. She opposed pushing Israel towards a settlement freeze. She
took a tougher stance against Vladimir Putin and she advocated for a
residual force in Iraq.
And last month, she told "The Atlantic" -- quote -- "Great nations
need organizing principles, and don`t do stupid stuff is not an organizing
But she did back President Obama on some key policies. She supported
the president negotiating with Iran, instead of harsh new sanctions, and
she backed the president`s push last year to bomb the Syrian government of
Bashar Assad after he used chemical weapons.
Chuck Todd is NBC News political director and of course the great new
host of "Meet the Press." And Perry Bacon is in Des Moines, Iowa, right
now. He`s senior political reporter for NBC News. And Beth Fouhy is
senior political reporter for MSNBC.com.
Thank you all for joining us.
Chuck, let`s start with you.
Hillary Clinton this week coming up there on the steak fry, a big
event in Iowa. Iowa is always a big event and a troubling event. It`s
Midwestern. It`s heartland. It`s anti-war. It`s activist.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Right.
MATTHEWS: On the Republican side, it`s very Christian conservative,
but let`s talk Democrats. Hillary Clinton, it seemed like a lot of thought
has been going into how they are going to approach Iowa, even though she`s
the strong front-runner.
TODD: Yes, I don`t think there`s been a lot. It`s funny you say
that. I think they have not put a lot of thought in how they are going to
I think they`re in the same quandary they were eight years ago. They
knew it was trouble eight years ago. There was that infamous memo of a
deputy campaign manager of hers that says, you know what, maybe you ought
to skip Iowa. But a front-runner can`t skip a state, particularly one like
Iowa that is also a swing state in the general election.
So I don`t see -- if they were thinking that they were going to do
this differently than eight years ago, then her first trip to Iowa wouldn`t
be the biggest political event that Democrats put on annually. Her first
trip to Iowa would have been something none of us would have known about,
she`d have been delivering pizza at Bruce Braley Iowa Senate campaign
headquarters, and Instagramming and all of a sudden a bunch of people say,
hey, look, Hillary Clinton is in Iowa.
And then somebody would have written the story, look who gets Iowa
I think showing up your first time at the biggest political event,
and, oh, by the way, doing it as a joint appearance with former President
Clinton tells me that they actually don`t know how they`re going to do
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about that great old political term
trimming. You trimming bastard, somebody once called somebody. I think it
was Tip O`Neill calling somebody that.
Because it`s when you don`t quite support somebody, but you sort of
give the lip service to it, but everybody knows you`re saying secretly, I
would do it differently, this isn`t my guy.
Are you going to get these signals from Hillary Clinton in the weeks
to come? Or now that the president`s moved to at least technically the
right or hawkish side of things by bombing -- bombing at least Iraq,
probably Syria next week, that she`s more comfortable just sort of being
there with him and not trying to make any distinction from him?
TODD: I don`t think you are going to see a lot of distinction.
And I think ,look, there`s a whole bunch of people around Barack Obama
who simply believe that, if a Democrat is elected in 2016, then it means
that he got a third term. Now, she may be running for Bill Clinton`s third
term, her own first term, Barack Obama`s -- everybody is going to have a
theory of whose term she`s running for.
But I think the Obama White House, they just want a Democrat to win.
She`s got the best shot. So, if you have noticed, who does the chirping in
these Obama-Clinton back-and-forths. It`s Clinton people. Notice Obama --
there`s nobody in the Obama world, you know, that have really fought back
too hard on some of the chirping that`s gone back and forth.
MATTHEWS: Let me bring in right now right now, Perry Bacon covering
the campaign. It is beginning to be a campaign. I mean, Hillary just this
other day, saying down in Mexico City, of all places, let alone Iowa, she`s
down in Mexico City announcing her campaign schedule basically, I`ll be
deciding or deciding to run for president or not. I guess that`s an
outside -- option, sometime after the first of the year.
So, here she is speaking for the first time since the president
basically has declared war on ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and the first time
she`s basically made her schedule clear. Here she is popping into Iowa the
first in the nation test for a Democratic presidential candidate.
What do you think she`s thinking about tomorrow? What`s kind of
speech is she running today?
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, this event was
planned before all the before the beheadings and things like that. So, I
think she`s going to focus more on this is Tom Harkin`s last steak fry.
So, I think the Clintons are going to do a lot to honor him an talk about
him. I`d be surprised if she talks about foreign policy very much because
Harkin is more of a domestic policy person anyway. So, I expect he`s talk
about health care, talk about the economy, talk about Tom Harkin and talk
how great he is.
I think it`s going to be less of a big-time political speech and more
of a welcome to Iowa/ I`m back here/Tom Harkin`s great kind of event.
MATTHEWS: So, to use a phrase of the great -- well, not the great,
but the late George Wallace, there won`t be a dime`s worth of difference
between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the days ahead -- Perry.
BACON: Not right now. Yes, not right now. I think eventually there
will be but I think right now this early stage, I`d be surprised on Sunday
if she was to take on Barack Obama right now, at this event which is
basically a Democratic rally for Tom Harkin for Bruce Braley.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s great having Chuck on, he had to leave.
Let go down to my friend Beth Fouhy.
Beth, you know this stuff, as well as I do. You grow up with it, you
know it cold -- cold. And here`s the question -- here`s the question -- is
Hillary Clinton going to try to make up for the fact that she was a hawk
the last time she ran for president? The reason she probably lost not just
to Barack Obama but also got nicked by --
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC.COM: John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: John Edwards, imagine losing to two and coming in third in
Iowa last time around. I`m wondering whether she`ll try to backtrack over
that and say, wait a minute. Don`t believe I`m that person. I`ve changed
or has the country changed in her lights and become more hawkish and caught
up to her. Which way is she going to play it?
FOUHY: Well, I was on the plane with her leaving Iowa because I
covered her campaign for the "A.P." in 2008. I can tell you, Chris, that
night she came in third, I swore she would never return to Iowa again. It
was a brutal, humiliating loss for this woman who had been the front-
runner, who spent millions and millions of dollars, blood sweat and tears
to campaign in that place to be repudiated that way was incredibly
She even said so in her book "Hard Choices", that it was just crushing
and I felt she was very angry with the voters of Iowa. That she had given
everything she had to give and still chose someone else. So, that said,
she`s coming back there eating a bit of humble pie. I agree with Perry
she`s not going to get out there and say anything about -- anything
provocative about the president, about ISIL, about his decision to expand
the military effort there. She is going back to say, hey, guys, I may be
the front-runner in national polls but I`m really here to reintroduce
myself to you and hope that you take another look at me this time.
I think you`re going to see a fairly humble Hillary Clinton. She`s
going to get behind the celebration of Tom Harkin and his legacy in that
state. He`s very, very popular there. Particularly among the liberal
Democrats who as you say form the base in that state, I don`t think you`re
going to see a lot of real fireworks out of her. You`re going to see a
woman who just wants to try again and she needs to try again, because even
as a front-runner, she can`t take that place for granted.
MATTHEWS: You have to wonder whether if she were the senator from
Iowa whether she would have been a dove being a senator from New York she`s
a hawk, a big surprise there. Anyway, Senator Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed
in "The Washington Post" going after what he called the veiled isolationism
of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Where`s -- what planet is he on?
Quote, "From his focus on prematurely ending wars in the interest of
nation-building here at home to his abandonment of America`s traditional
allies in an effort to placate America`s enemy, President Obama has made it
clear that he is different from his post-World War II predecessor, 5 1/2
years of Obama/Clinton worldview has given Americans a graphic and often
horrific view of the chaos that is unleashed in the world when America
walks away from its traditional role as the guarantor of global security."
That`s the end of his quote.
Anyway, to combat ISIS, Rubio said, he supports airstrikes and arming
the Free Syrian Army, but he opposed laying down red lines, quote, "If we
are serious as the president said about ultimately destroying the Islamic
state, we cannot rule anything out."
You know what, I think Rubio works -- I don`t know whether it`s a
tinker toy system he works with or paint by numbers, nothing, Perry,
original ever comes out that guy. He is a child politically. He says
stuff that anybody would have said 40, 50 years ago in the Cold War. He
repeats it like somebody told it to him. There`s nothing there.
BACON: The one thing with the op-ed he mentions the names Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton but it`s not about them. He keeps referring in
this op-ed to these unnamed Republican isolationists.
MATTHEWS: I see.
BACON: He`s not talking about Obama or Clinton, he`s really talking
about Rand Paul.
BACON: And that`s who he`s trying to attack is Rand Paul, by
suggesting Rand Paul is like Barack Obama on foreign policy, a clue to
Republicans -- you can`t like Rand Paul because he`s like Barack Obama on
foreign policy. That`s the aim is for Rubio wants to show himself as part
of the national security part of the Republican base and to suggest Rand
Paul is outside of that mainstream and that`s what the tactic is here.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much for that, Perry Bacon. And thank you,
Up next, the challenge in going to war with ISIS. We`re going to talk
to Seth Moulton who served for four years of duty, military duty in Iraq.
And this week, he was in the marines, and this week, he won the Democratic
primary against nine-term incumbent Senator John Tierney up in
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: On Monday, we`ll be joined by the great Allison Janney, one
of the stars of "The West Wing" who`s now on "Masters of Sex" on Showtime.
She`ll be right here in Washington.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just about the most stunning aspect of the 2014 primary season, Iraq
war veteran Seth Moulton, a first time candidate, beat long-term Democratic
incumbent, Congressman John Tierney, up in Massachusetts this week.
Moulton is a U.S. Marine who served four tours of duty in Iraq.
In fact, he was a member of one of the first platoons into Baghdad.
He also opposed the Iraq war personally, although he says he`s never
regretted serving his country.
And this week, President Obama, of course, announced the plan to
expand the U.S. missions against the Islamic State, ISIS.
Seth Moulton, congratulations on your victory in the primary. And
welcome to HARDBALL.
SETH MOULTON (D-MA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thanks very much.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this whole thing. You have -- I
always asked people who are my age who served in Vietnam War, were you in
it? Were you in it?
MOULTON: I was, I was.
MATTHEWS: So, you know what the fighting is like over there? You
know what the fighting is like?
MOULTON: That`s right!
MATTHEWS: You know what the fighting is like.
MATTHEWS: Do you have any -- I am a great skeptic about our ability
or any European or American country, first world country, to go into a
third world country, for the better, change it. I know we can screw things
up. I know we`ve done that in a lot of countries, but maybe you`re right.
But I don`t think -- except for the British who spent 200 years in
India selling them on democracy and it seemed to fit their culture. You
can change a country. All you can do is screw it up, they begin to hate
you gradually, there`s tissue rejects it and they say, get the hell out: I
just saw Secretary of State Kerry this week saying we can`t put troops back
into Iraq and you can tell me he was saying because the new prime minister
over there didn`t want us back in.
I don`t think that`s entirely true. I disagreed with the Iraq war.
But I`m not one who thinks you can never do good around the globe, and I
think there are times and places in Iraq where American troops really made
a positive difference. I think you see that in Afghanistan, as well.
There are a lot of progressive things that are happening in Afghanistan
that never would have happened without our presence there.
But that doesn`t mean it was a good idea to go in, and I don`t think
it`s a good idea to go back in now. At the end of the day, Iraq has got to
be able to defend its own borders.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think about the ability of us to build up
an army? You`re a military guy. When we train an army, can you give it
zeal? Can you give it an esprit de corps, like the marines have? This
will to fight?
MOULTON: No, look, I mean, that`s the problem in Iraq. When ISIS
swept in from Syria, it didn`t just overwhelm the Iraqi army. The Iraqi
Army put down their weapons and went home because they had no faith in
Prime Minister Maliki`s sectarian government.
So, fundamentally, the problem in Iraq is not a military problem that
we can support just by propping up their army. It`s a political problem.
We need to make sure the Iraqis have a government that they want to defend.
So, I`d much rather see sending political advisors to Baghdad than military
advisors to the frontlines.
MATTHEWS: Well, the tradition of the most of the world is one tribe
one wins, the other tribe loses. And that`s the way it is.
You know, whether you`re talking about Dochona (ph) and Amontabelli
(ph) or Rhodesia, or former Rhodesia, you`re talking about any country,
when the Sunnis lost power we knock them out of power when we knocked
Saddam out of power, the Shia took over, and they grabbed it and they held
it and they said, the hell with the Sunnis.
How can you change that impulse to say you got it, you don`t. You
screwed us for a couple of hundred of years. We`re going to get even. How
do you kill that?
MOULTON: Well, look, I think that there are some leaders in Iraq who
are uniters and there are others who are dividers. It`s very obvious that
Prime Minister Maliki was a divider.
This really shouldn`t come as a surprise. When Ambassador Crocker and
General Petraeus came back to report to Congress on the surge, they
basically said two things. One, militarily, we`ve had great success. But,
two, we`ve not made as much political progress as we`ve anticipated.
So, they called for a diplomatic surge to mentor the Iraqi government,
to make sure that they didn`t become too sectarian. But we really didn`t
provide that, and we have the biggest embassy in the world in Baghdad, we
left at half full. And so, as a result, the government fell apart, the
Iraqi army couldn`t trust them and so ISIS swept in right to this, almost
to the edge of Baghdad.
MATTHEWS: Well, right now, we have to fight a war in Syria and Iraq.
How do we do it without troops on the ground?
MOULTON: Well, I think what you have to do first is you`ve got to
restore the Iraqi government, because the Iraqi army outnumbered ISIS
something like 30 to one. I`ve worked with these guys. If they have faith
in their government, I believe they can take care of this job.
I think you start with Iraq. I think you make sure the Iraqi pushes
ISIS army isolates it in Syria. And then either Assad will take care of
it, or we`ll have to take action ourselves. But the first step is to
restore a sovereign Iraq. If we do it for them, we`re going to be back
there three years doing it again. The Iraqis have got to be able to do it
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. Congratulations and good luck,
forward, going forward.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the very democratic notion that
dynasties make no sense whatever. If you believe that a relationship of
blood is an indication of shared leadership ability, you might consider it
a different form of government. Monarchy is available. But a warning is
in order here.
The reason that monarchy is so availability is that practically every
country in the world has thrown it out -- certainly, as any part of their
actual governing. Yes, there is something cute about the British royalty.
They put on great parades and provide good stories, anywhere from the
wholesome family stuff, ala Kate and Will, to the scandal stuff that
provided over the decades.
But governing? No one wants that. So, why do we resort here in the
cradle of democracy to notions of dynasty? Why do we speak of dynasties
with such affection? Why? What`s the evidence of greatness become carried
Give me some examples and I`ll give you dozens of disasters.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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