September 29, 2014
Guest: Sen. Ron Johnson, Daniel Bongino, Adam Schiff, Jay Newton-Small
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Americans back ground troops.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Big news night tonight. For the first time, there`s evidence a plurality
of the American people would back deploying U.S. combat troops on the
ground to fight ISIS if the military recommends it. Obama`s problem is
that Republicans overwhelming back using ground troops in such a situation.
Democrats just as overwhelmingly oppose such action. Republicans are still
the hawks in fighting ISIS on the ground. Democrats are the doves.
What this means is that the people who put this president in office don`t
want an escalation in this war, while Republicans are more than ready for
it. Catch all that.
Meanwhile, there`s lots of a agitation from the first family about the
Secret Service`s failure to tell the first lady three years ago that some
guy had been shooting into the White House window, even blowing away pieces
of the Truman balcony.
Tonight we go to our roundtable of David Corn, Jay Newton-Small and
Congressman Adam Schiff, with this and two other big issues, President
Obama`s attack on the CIA for underestimating the threat from ISIS and a
smattering of new polls showing the Republicans are closing the deal this
November on the United States Senate.
Let`s start tonight with the first real evidence that Americans are ready
for war. A plurality of Americans now supports, a I said, sending American
troops into combat against ISIS, if the military recommends such action.
Not only do they support sending troops into battle, they`re overwhelmingly
expecting it to happen.
Those views come as U.S.-led air strikes continue to rain down on the ISIS
army and the U.S. along with Arab allies have conducted strikes on ISIS in
Syria over this weekend and through today, targeting military convoys and
oil refineries. The U.S. also struck ISIS in Iraq, this as the BBC and
other British media report of an ISIS advance toward Baghdad. In fact, one
account by a British religious non-profit spotted insurgents just a mile
from Baghdad today.
Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington
Post" and Howard Fineman is the editorial director with the Huffington Post
Media Group. Thank you, gentlemen.
It`s looked like -- all this is happening at the same time. The American
people are getting ready, at least on the right, on the Republican side,
are getting ready for combat troops. Democrats are holding back. At the
same time, we`ve got this situation in Iraq, where the -- ISIS looks for
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they --
MATTHEWS: They`re still the fighting -- on the offensive guys, right at
the gates of Baghdad.
ROBINSON: Yes, well, they look -- they look for real enough that military
analysts don`t think you can get rid of ISIS. You can (ph) do very much of
anything to ISIS just from the air. And so you know, the idea is supposed
to have these local ground forces, the Iraqi army, the Peshmerga, the
mythical Syrian moderate rebels, who are supposed to close in on ISIS.
But people are skeptical of that. And gee, why would they be skeptical of
that? It sounds really far-fetched. But there`s one person who doesn`t
want ground troops and who says we`re not going to have them, and that`s
MATTHEWS: And you believe he can hold back the military.
ROBINSON: Well, I`m not sure. I`m not sure.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I don`t think the American --
MATTHEWS: The public thinks they`re not going to be able to hold back --
FINEMAN: -- that same poll that you showed that graphic from also says
that, I think, more than 2 out of 3 American -- in the American people, by
2-to-1, say they expect us to have ground troops --
MATTHEWS: So do they mean (ph) is going to change? Why do they think
we`re going to escalate, no matter what the politicians, including a
progressive liberal anti-war president -- no matter what he says?
FINEMAN: Well, I think --
MATTHEWS: Why do they think we`re going in?
FINEMAN: I think -- don`t forget that the American people have now been
living in this new world since 9/11. We`ve -- it`s 13 years. I mean, it`s
a long time. And I think the American people are more sophisticated and
knowledgeable about a lot of this than perhaps the president gives them
credit for on this. I don`t think the American people are excited, to be
sure. It`s more that they`re resigned. It`s more they know --
MATTHEWS: Slippery slope.
FINEMAN: Well, and also that this is a condition. This is almost like a
disease that inhabits the world that we`re going to have to constantly
fight with some form of radiation or medication, of which ground troops may
be part. And I think they`re quite realistic, if unhappy about it overall.
You`re right, there`s a huge partisan split, but overall, the American
people are probably gritting their teeth and saying, We can`t afford to
have these people take over that region. They`re aware of the fact --
FINEMAN: -- that it can, in the end, come back to haunt us.
MATTHEWS: What a revolting development. Anyway, whether it`s the prospect
of more beheadings, or the proclivity of the American military, Americans
say, as we`ve been saying, they see this going to a U.S. ground war.
According to the new poll we`re talking about, conducted by NBC News just
now and "The Wall Street Journal" and the Annenberg Public Policy Group, a
plurality of Americans, 45 percent, say they would favor American ground
troops if military commanders recommend it.
But take a look at those results, as we`re doing. Look at that. Democrats
are opposed to ground troops 46 to 32 -- opposed to ground troops.
Republicans support ground troops by 63 to 23. They are gung-ho! They are
Geronimo on this thing, the Republicans.
And this is the president`s conundrum now. An escalating conflict would
divide his supporters and unite his opponents. The poll also finds, as I
said, that an overwhelming majority, 72 percent, say the United States will
end up using ground troops against ISIS even though the president says he
has ruled it out.
See, this is the strangest situation, a president who says we`re not going
to ground war not really believed by the American people, who believe we`re
going to ground war.
ROBINSON: Yes, the people say, yes, yes, right, right. And so what`s the
plan exactly, you know? And they hear what the plan is, and I think
there`s a lot of skepticism, frankly, that this plan is going to do what
the president says --
ROBINSON: -- we have to do. Now, he says you have to degrade and
ultimately destroy ISIS and so -- the Islamic State, or whatever you want
to call it. And so if you`ve got to destroy it, I think people -- as
Howard said, I think people are more sophisticated about this --
MATTHEWS: They`re filling in the blanks.
ROBINSON: They`re filling in the blanks, and they said, We how is -- how
exactly is this supposed to work?
MATTHEWS: Well, my question is -- there`s 30,000-some, we all know, ISIS
troops now, latest estimates. Are we going to kill them all? I`m going to
get to this at the end of the show. We going to kill them? No. They`re
not going to put their hands up like they did in Corregidor or somewhere in
World War II, you know, where whole mass armies put their hands in the air
like the Italians in North Africa? Those days are over. There`s not going
to be a mass surrender.
MATTHEWS: How are we going to end this?
FINEMAN: And I think if you listen closely to what the president has been
saying lately, he doesn`t use the word "destroy" anymore. You may
remember, a few weeks ago, he did. He said degrade and destroy.
FINEMAN: I think he understands and the American people probably
understand that that`s not in the cards.
MATTHEWS: Well, how do we end it?
FINEMAN: We don`t end it. We contain it. I think that`s the situation
that we`re probably in, and I think the American people, by and large,
unhappily understand that. And the fact that there`s -- the fact that most
of them, in effect, don`t believe what the president is saying here -- the
president keeps assuring, as Gene said --
FINEMAN: -- no American boots on the ground in combat.
FINEMAN: The American people -- did you see that number? Over 70 percent
say we`re going to -- it`s going to be there.
MATTHEWS: Like a --
FINEMAN: What does that say about the president`s credibility on this?
MATTHEWS: Well, I want to put this together with the politics here,
domestically. House Speaker John Boehner told "The New York Times" that he
did not want a war vote until next year. That was his original position.
But yesterday, he said he point-blank that he would not hesitate to bring
the Congress back right now. Take a listen. So I think he`s watching
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you`ve said that assuming you`re speaker next
year, you want to have a vote on a resolution. Why not now?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`d be happy to. The
president, typically, in a situation like this would call for an
authorization vote and go sell that to the American people and send a
resolution to the Hill. The president hasn`t done that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So to be clear, if the president put a resolution
forward now, you`d call the Congress back.
BOEHNER: I`d bring the Congress back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I wonder what dinette (ph) he found the speaker at.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, he`s out of town. He`ll come back to Washington when
he`s called, he says!
ROBINSON: Well, you know, but that`s -- that`s what my column for tomorrow
says. It says the president ought to call Congress back, and they ought to
have a vote. They ought to have a debate and they ought to have a vote.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) the Constitution. He may in extraordinary occasions
convene both houses.
ROBINSON: Well, look --
MATTHEWS: He can do it.
ROBINSON: -- nobody believes from that 72 percent number -- nobody
believes that this is kind of a no-fault, you know, half-way war, right,
that it`s not going to work out that way. I don`t think it`s going to work
out that way. And so this is important stuff, and this is what Congress is
supposed to do. This is what the president is supposed to do.
FINEMAN: But the president is reluctant to do it, I think.
MATTHEWS: Tell me why.
FINEMAN: Well, a couple reasons --
MATTHEWS: Daddy! Because I`ve been trying to figure this one out.
Everybody comes on this show, We want to vote, we want to --
FINEMAN: No, no, no, no, no, no.
MATTHEWS: Nobody comes on and says they don`t want to vote!
FINEMAN: Well, first of all, the whole War Powers Act thing which was put
in place --
FINEMAN: -- was supposed to involve Congress. It`s ended up doing just
the opposite --
ROBINSON: Yes, of course.
FINEMAN: -- because they don`t want to vote on this stuff generally.
Democrats are not eager to come back and do it because it`ll display their
divisions. It`ll show the fact that that poll shows --
MATTHEWS: That number -- right.
FINEMAN: -- that they`re bitterly divided. On the Republican side, yes,
they`re gung-ho, but they don`t want a kumbaya moment with the president.
They don`t necessarily want to embrace him, and in essence, validate his
leadership again --
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to say he`s commander-in-chief.
FINEMAN: No. That`s exactly right. They`d rather criticize him --
FINEMAN: -- for his shortcomings.
ROBINSON: -- go out on this limb with him --
MATTHEWS: Let`s bring him on now. Eugene Robinson, thank you, sir.
Thank, Howard Fineman.
Joining us right now is Republican senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He`s
a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also the Homeland
Senator, thank you for joining us. Can you go through the realities of
Capitol Hill? Do they reflect the voters on the Democratic side who don`t
really want a ground war? On the Republican side, they`re willing to
accept the development of this war, an escalation. Where are the two
parties, and why are we not getting a vote between now and the election?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Well, we`re not getting a vote because of
the politics of the situation. But Chris, you mentioned the key word,
"reality." The American people are accepting reality. They support
President Obama`s stated goal of defeating ISIS. Nobody relishes war. You
know, certainly, the American people don`t. I don`t. But you know, the
fact is, we haven`t chosen to go to war with Islamic terror. They chose to
go to war with us. And our only choice right now is, are we going to fight
that war on the defense, or are we going to take the offensive here? Are
we going to fight them overseas or are we going to simply treat this as a
law enforcement activity and just be in total defense and fight them here
on our shores?
So I think the American people are ahead of the politicians, certainly
ahead of this administration, accepting that ugly reality that Islamic
terrorists have declared war on us since at least 1993, when they tried
taking down the World Trade Center, and this is going to be a long, hard
struggle. It`s going to be difficult to defeat it.
But here`s where President Obama`s absolutely right. In his U.N. speech,
which I thought was very strong, he said the Muslim community must rise up.
They must publicly, visibly, loudly, reject and renounce Islamic terror,
this ideology. And that is, in the end, what it`s going to take. But
that`s going to take years.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about more (ph) goals (ph). We know that
Japan`s goal was to knock us out of the Pacific with Pearl Harbor. They
didn`t want to invade the United States. They wanted to knock us out of
the Pacific, and they thought they could do it. Turns out, they got us
into the Pacific even stronger. We went to war with them and took every
island back until we got to them.
OK, the Germans apparently -- what Hitler really wanted was most of Eastern
Europe. He wanted Russia. He wanted to build a gigantic empire in the
East, his Lebensraum, he called it.
What do you think ISIS really wants? They want to throw us out of the
Middle East. They want to establish a caliphate. What do they want with
the United States in the United States? What I`ve never quite figured out,
what is their goal, as you see it? Their goal.
JOHNSON: Well, I mean, Islamic terror is -- is trying to destroy the
modern world. Don`t ask me why, to establish this caliphate. I don`t
think the leaders of ISIS --
JOHNSON: -- are stupid. You know, here -- here`s -- here`s what I think
they want to do. Right now, I do believe they want to draw the U.S. and
the West into this battle. But they want to draw us in because they don`t
believe we have the staying power.
JOHNSON: I mean, Charles Krauthammer nailed it in his column. What they
want -- they are counting on the fact that we won`t be in for the long
term. We really won`t be --
JOHNSON: -- in there to defeat ISIS, so that when we bug out of there in
a couple of years, they can claim victory. They`ll be the preeminent --
JOHNSON: -- Islamic terror group. They can establish their caliphate
because that`s, I think, their final end --
MATTHEWS: Do you buy --
JOHNSON: But again, they`ve been -- go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Do you buy the whole Krauthammer -- I thought the article was
well written, too, today. But he makes the case we`re going to end up like
Likud politics, hard-right Israeli politics. We`re going to end up having
to, quote, "mow the lawn" year after year, never really facing any kind of
treaty with the Arabs ever. It`s just going to go on and on and on.
Now, if you`re Bibi Netanyahu, that`s smart politics because you never have
to cut a deal then because the war has to continue. But at some point,
don`t you think the United States is going to have to reach an end to this
war, or do you believe it`s an endless process of, quote, as Krauthammer
put it, "mowing the lawn," fighting terrorism as (ph) rest of our lives,
our generations to come, never stopping? Is that how you see it?
JOHNSON: I tell you, I think it really is going to end up --
MATTHEWS: Pretty depressing.
JOHNSON: -- being in the hands of the Arab world. This is their moment
of choosing. Are they going to reject Islamic terror? Are they going to
reject this ideology? Are they going to stop funding the madrassas and the
mosques that preach this hate?
You know, and here`s President Obama`s real conundrum. You used that word
earlier. If we -- if America leads too much, the Arab states are going to
sit back and go, Oh, America`s going to take care of it one more time. If
we don`t lead enough, we won`t be able to draw the Arab world into that
coalition, 100 percent committed. So it`s a very fine line.
MATTHEWS: I know.
JOHNSON: I don`t envy President Obama`s task. But again, I really thought
his U.N. speech was strong. He laid out the steps. We got to be
realistic. We got to be honest with the American public, though. He was
wrong in taking any action off the table. He was right in establishing the
goal of defeating --
MATTHEWS: OK --
JOHNSON: -- Islamic terror first with ISIS and then around the world.
MATTHEWS: OK --
JOHNSON: And that`s why this is going to be a long, long, tough slog.
MATTHEWS: You just opened the question of -- would you support ground
troops, if it came to it, if the military recommended it? Your party says
they would, according to our polling.
JOHNSON: If that`s what it takes to defeat ISIS, yes. We`ve got to
JOHNSON: -- what it takes to achieve the goal that President Obama
MATTHEWS: Keep coming back, Senator. Thank you very much, Senator Ron
Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin.
JOHNSON: Thanks for having me on.
MATTHEWS: A very interesting state, by the way, Wisconsin.
Coming up, a shocking report that a gunman three years ago, in 2011, fired
seven shots in the White House, and the Secret Service on duty failed to
realize what was going on. In fact, it took four days for the agency to
figure out what had happened. And even then, it was only because a
housekeeper discovered broken glass. These bullets came through the
Meanwhile, there`s news today that the man who jumped the White House fence
this month made it farther into the building than we knew. He went right
into the East Room, where they hold the press conferences.
And then we have the HARDBALL roundtable tonight with U.S. Congressman Adam
Schiff, David Corn and Jay Newton-Small of "Time." They`ll be weighing
(ph) on the polling that shows a plurality of Americans do support sending
U.S. troops into the Middle East, if the military says so. And Speaker
John Boehner also said, by the way, American boots might be required. He
called ISIS barbarians who intend to kill us.
And like it or not, there`s more evidence today that Republicans might be
closing the deal in the fight for the U.S. Senate. They have three states
locked now, and they are advancing in three other key states needed to win
control of the chamber.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with my fears about this war, my fear that
the more we bomb, the more we fan the flames, the more enemies we make, the
bigger ISIS grows.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: For the second year in a row, Senator Ted Cruz came out on top
at the Values Voters Summit straw poll. The Texas Republican earned 25
percent of the vote cast at this weekend`s summit, down from 42 percent he
received last year. Dr. Ben Carson came in second with 20 percent,
followed by former governor Mike Huckabee. And even at this conservative
event, Hillary Clinton managed to sneak into the poll. She got one vote.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Earlier this month, most Americans
were aghast when a man with a knife actually jumped over the White House
fence -- there he is -- charged across the lawn and actually got into the
Well, late today, "The Washington Post" reports that he got far further
into the building than we`d previously known. He apparently barrelled
through that front door carrying the knife. He ran past the stairway that
leads to the first family`s living quarters, and made it all the way down
the hall to the East Room before he was tackled. That`s where the
president usually has his press conferences.
Another "Washington Post" report describes another Secret Service fumble.
This was back three years ago, in 2011. Seven shots were fired into the
White House while the president`s youngest daughter and his mother-in-law
were inside and the older daughter, Malia, was on her way home. It took
four days in that instance for the bullet assault on the White House to
even be discovered by the Secret Service. And it was a White House maid
who discovered the damage.
Well, "The Washington Post`s" Carol Leonnig broke the story of the 2011
attack on the White House and it -- and it -- learned three Secret Service
errors that were involved with that mistake. Number one, officers on scene
who thought gunfire had probably hit the house were largely ignored.
Nobody conducted more than a cursory inspection of the White House for
evidence of damage. And, three -- and, three, key witnesses were not
interviewed until after the bullets were found.
Following the article`s publication, the Secret Service put out a detailed
response, explaining some of the actions taken and not taken on the night
the shots were fired and the days following. It outlines confusion and
uncertainty on the night of the shooting, and adds that following the
incident, additional surveillance cameras were installed.
Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agent for President Obama. And Ron
Reagan is an author and of course friend here. He`s a radio talk show
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
Don, first of all, what do you make of this? Let`s go the fact that the
guy got in just recently all the way to the East Room. How do you go tear-
assing down the hallway of the White House without anybody stopping you
while you`re wielding a knife and you clearly are not in uniform?
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, it seems that someone did
try to stop him at the front entrance and the officer was overpowered, not
that that`s acceptable, Chris.
I`m just saying that multiple layers of security failed here -- and this is
both important -- both seen and unseen. There are obviously mechanisms
that we can`t talk about here on television that broke down as well. This
was a tremendous security lapse. And the Secret Service from their end,
what I have seen in their public statements, hasn`t tried to put lipstick
on this. They have said it was an absolute breakdown. I think an
exhaustive analysis is coming --
MATTHEWS: Yes. Suppose he was a man with his wits about him, he wasn`t
deranged. I mean, here`s a deranged guy pulls this off. What do you think
a person with a plan might have been able to do?
BONGINO: Well, there`s no question if he had any kind of an explosive vest
on or any kind of a weapon at all, we`d be having a far different
conversation right now. And I think that`s obvious.
And I know regardless of anybody`s politics, this isn`t a Third World
republic here. Our president has to be safe and security in the White
House. And the Secret Service knows that. I think you`re going to see
massive changes after this. I hope some of the jurisdictional issues and
the infighting goes away after this.
MATTHEWS: Well, Carol Leonnig of "The Washington Post" reports in that
paper that the first lady was aghast and then quickly furious when she
learned about the gunshots days later.
This is the other incident. Leonnig writes -- quote -- "The first lady was
seen upset, still upset when her husband arrived home five days later from
Australia. The president was fuming too, former aides said. Not only had
their aides failed to immediately alert the first lady about the gunshots
through the window, but the Secret Service had stumbled in its response."
Ron, these are obviously close to home to you, being the son of President
Reagan. But this -- what do you make of it? You lived with the Secret
Service. You didn`t like it, apparently, but you lived with it.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Lived with it for a while, yes.
There`s a lot disturbing about both these incidents. In the one incident
where the knife-wielding crazy guy gets into the White House, had he had
his wits about him and taken a different turn, he could have ended up in
the living quarters of the first family.
And the security up there, once you`re up there, you`re inside the
envelope. There isn`t a lot of security to be had once you get that far.
The other incident with the shooting is, in many ways, more serious and
more troubling to me, because of the lackadaisical attitude towards the
investigation of this thing.
And am I the only person who is shocked to discover that there wasn`t total
video surveillance of the perimeter of the White House back then? I`m glad
to hear that that`s been rectified, but, my God, every mall in America is
covered with cameras, and you can`t get onto an airplane without having
your genitalia scrutinized after 9/11, but somehow the White House lawn is
not totally covered with video surveillance?
That was a shock. And who was the supervisor who decided that this was
unrelated gang gunfire -- gunfire kind of incident, when his own people
were saying, shots have been fired at the White House? Why was he
crediting some other source, instead of his own people on the scene? Very
MATTHEWS: Well, what about this woman apparently, Don, that was the woman
who worked in the White House? There was a Secret Service agent who felt
that she`d be embarrassed if he brought up something about all the evidence
she saw. She heard the shots, she saw the damage to the window and didn`t
say anything. She said she thought it might embarrass, it might cause
criticism of her. What do you make of that?
BONGINO: Well, Chris, I don`t think the general public understands -- and,
again, not an excuse here, but an explanation to give some context here --
the pressure the Secret Service is under from the White House staff.
And this is not a partisan issue. This has been for decades now, from the
White House staff to take care of, what they call in D.C. parlance, optics,
make sure things look nice and sound nice. This happens over and over
I`m sadly not surprised that this happened. And if you read that story in
detail, Carol Leonnig`s report, you will see that the rank-and-file agents
in uniformed division officers did what they were supposed to do. They
took out their weapons, they took cover, they called out gunshots.
It was a management failure. It wasn`t the rank and file. And, again,
sadly, that`s not surprising.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And they didn`t report it ever.
Why wouldn`t they tell the first lady what was going on?
BONGINO: I will bet that they didn`t want to disturb her. I have seen
this a lot. I have written extensively about it.
It`s a bubble in the White House, and the president is insulated from just
about everything. It`s not just political perception and politics.
Sometimes, it`s very legitimate threats as well, because they don`t want to
Well, it drove the president crazy, and apparently drove the first lady
Ron Reagan, thanks, buddy, for coming on. Please come on more often, Ron
Reagan from out West.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dan Bongino, for coming here with the bad news of how
things work out here.
Up next, it`s not often we get to mix astrology and politics, but we do
tonight. That`s next in the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I`m sure you all saw this,
this week. An intruder got into the White House, a man FOX News refers to
as President Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to --
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time now for the "Sideshow."
"Saturday Night Live" returned for their 40th season this weekend, just in
time to skewer NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling obviously of
the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
CHRIS PRATT, ACTOR: We want to be part of the solution. So, the NFL is
organizing its own Take Back the Night March on October 8. What this says
is, we fight women.
PRATT: Oh, excuse me. We fight for women.
PRATT: We fight four different women?
PRATT: No? Oh, of course not. I`m -- I`m so sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You should be.
Next up, the baby watch is over for Bill and Hillary Clinton, who welcomed
a granddaughter to the world. Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky was born to
Chelsea and husband Marc on Friday night in New York. It didn`t take long
for the proud grandparents to tweet out photos of their newly extended
family, nor for the famous newborn to get a mention on "SNL"`s "Weekend
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Congratulations to Chelsea Clinton, who gave birth to
a baby girl on Friday. And new grandmother Hillary Clinton said she
couldn`t be any happier unless the baby was a Latina in a swing state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s good.
Anyway, Politico actually spoke to several astrologers about the newborn`s
future personality, even coining a nickname for the Clinton progeny. She
really will be "Billary" because she`s going to have his charm and
likability and Hillary`s sort of focus and intensity and desire to make
things happen. Isn`t that special? What a perfect combination.
Up next, it`s the HARDBALL roundtable on President Obama and ISIS, John
Boehner and boots on the ground and where the American public stands right
now on both of them.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Pro-democracy protesters are back in the streets of Hong Kong. Today`s
protests appear to be peaceful. Previous protests turned violent, with
riot police firing canisters of tear gas and dragging many people away.
The suspect arrested in the case of missing UVA student Hannah Graham may
be connected to the 2009 murder of a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student.
And Chelsea Clinton has left New York`s Lenox Hill Hospital along with her
husband and new baby girl. Her parents were close behind. Clinton gave
birth to her first child, Charlotte, on Saturday -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If the goal is to destroy
ISIS, as the president says it is, I don`t believe the strategy that he
outlined will accomplish that.
QUESTION: Why not?
BOEHNER: At the end of the day, I think it`s going to take more than
airstrikes to drive them out of there. At some point, somebody`s boots
have to be on the ground. Maybe we can get enough of these forces trained,
and get them on the battlefield, but somebody`s boots have to be there.
QUESTION: And if no one else will step, you would recommend putting
American boots on the ground?
BOEHNER: We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill
us. And if we don`t destroy them first, we`re going to pay the price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
I think Speaker Boehner has been reading our poll. That was Speaker
Boehner this weekend suggesting the president was wrong to rule out
American boots on the ground to fight ISIS. As we talked about earlier
tonight, many Americans agree with him.
According to our new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, nearly three-quarters
say they believe eventually American ground troops will be used.
Meanwhile, 45 percent say they would support using them if military
commanders say it would be the best way to defeat ISIS. And 37 percent
would be opposed.
A different poll released by CNN today showed the U.S. public to be much
more reluctant. At the very least, Americans do seem resigned to the fact
that ground troops will once again have to be used in a war in the Middle
And for more on that, I`m joined by the HARDBALL roundtable.
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff is a Democrat from California. He`s on the
Intelligence Committee. Jay Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for
"TIME" magazine. And David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.
I want to start with you, Congressman, this question. Why do you think the
public is sort of resigned to the idea, despite everything the president
says, we`re going in on the ground eventually, 72 percent?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think the American people are
exhausted after 13 years, but they`re pessimistic about prospects. This
has been such a long, hard fight.
I think the American people believe that this is going to be really tough.
And they`re right about that. It`s going to be very tough. At the same
time, there`s just no appetite to put in ground troops. And what`s more, I
MATTHEWS: Well, there is, because the right wing, the Republicans, are all
SCHIFF: Well, I wouldn`t say they`re all for it.
MATTHEWS: And 60-something percent are saying, yes, we want ground troops.
SCHIFF: Well, they`re saying that the president shouldn`t have ruled them
out, which is, frankly, a very small point and one I don`t agree with.
MATTHEWS: You`re being kind.
MATTHEWS: And they say, if the military says to do it, they click their
heels and they say, we`re going in.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s interesting, because I discern a
little bit of a shift on the Republican side.
A couple weeks ago, when this was starting to take off, I think there was a
lot of sort of finger in the air on the Republicans. They didn`t know
which way the public was going to break. And now they see the public being
seeming to be somewhat acceptant of perhaps ground troops.
They`re getting to their classic position, which is the Democratic
president is weak. He has a good idea, but he won`t do it well. And
they`re moving by and large to a hawkish position. It`s unclear whether
the Rand Pauls and the noninterventionists of the GOP are going to fight
back on this.
MATTHEWS: Jay, the speaker now says he will call the Congress back if the
president asks him to. Of course, he`d have to, but he said he will.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": But, I mean, this is
the one thing all four leaders in the last meeting that they had with the
president in August, the White House told me this, the one thing they
agreed on out of all of the things that -- on the agenda was that none of
them wanted to come back and vote on a war powers resolution weeks before
MATTHEWS: By the way, I think that`s the truth.
Anyway, in a frank assessment, President Obama acknowledged to Steve Kroft
on "60 Minutes" last night that the U.S. -- quote -- "underestimated the
threat from ISIS." Here`s the president on "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: How did they end up where they are in control of so
much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think our head of
the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they
underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.
KROFT: I mean, he didn`t say that -- just say that we underestimated ISIL.
He said we overestimated the ability and will of our allies, the Iraqi
army, to fight.
OBAMA: That`s true. That`s absolutely true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, he`s starting to look old.
SCHIFF: I don`t blame him.
MATTHEWS: I mean, this is getting -- this is brutal, this war.
SCHIFF: There`s a lot of pressure on that guy.
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to be there, not in this war.
SCHIFF: You look at any president who has lived in that office as long as
he has and it definitely ages you.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of him passing the buck or basically pointing
the finger at the CIA, saying they blew it? Is that loyal to your troops?
SCHIFF: Well, I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t characterize it that
MATTHEWS: What do think he meant?
SCHIFF: The president said that he concurred with the head of the
intelligence agencies that certain things weren`t foreseen.
But it`s a lot like Leon Panetta once said when he was asked, why didn`t we
see the Arab spring coming in a way that we Californians can appropriate?
He said, well, you can see pressure building up on the fault lines, you can
tell that an earthquake is coming, but in terms of when and how big the
magnitude, that`s hard --
MATTHEWS: Let`s get the politics. The CIA definitely got the punch in the
face, the throw under the bus. They believe he`s blaming them.
NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, I was going to say, you`re on the Intelligence
Committee. Did you not see this coming?
I was in -- I was in Mosul a year-and-a-half ago, and people were saying
that there`s a lot of al Qaeda here, this is really dangerous, that Syria,
a lot of the unrest and the Sunnis are coming over the border from Syria.
So, I mean, and you saw it -- like, eight months ago, they lost Ramadi and
they lost Fallujah. I mean, these -- there were a lot of warning signs.
MATTHEWS: Did you think they were a J.V. team?
SCHIFF: Certainly, we were aware -- certainly, we were aware that ISIS was
a real threat, that they were gaining ground, that they were gaining
military equipment, but seeing the Iraqi army melt away as quickly as it
did and fall apart, seeing how quickly the Sunni communities came on board
with ISIS -- that I don`t think was predicted. But I frankly don`t blame
the I.C. -- the intelligence community over this, they don`t have a crystal
ball anymore than the rest of us. We rely on them and they do provide with
good intelligence, and they did.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Richard Engel was on the ground. He`s the
best in our business. He pointed out many reporters and observers in the
region didn`t underestimate the ISIS threat. They saw it coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS (voice-over): It`s a major intelligence failure.
Islamic radicals were expanding in Syria and Iraq for two years. They
bragged about their growing strength online. Foreign journalists often
reported that foreign fighters were streaming into Syria. We interviewed
them as they went in. The rise of extremism in Syria and Iraq was no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Syrians are pushing back.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, this is the real problem. We`re now
there. We`re expanding our military actions in Iraq and Syria. If our
intelligence community didn`t have a good bead in the last two years, by
James clapper`s own admission, it didn`t, how do we know they`re going to
do a better job as we go ahead and commit U.S. troops to further
involvement? It`s a hard part of the world to understand. We don`t
understand it. We didn`t understand Iraq before or after the invasion.
So, I worry about what this means going ahead. If you don`t have good
intelligence, how can you make good decisions?
MATTHEWS: Why did we think the Iraqi army was up to it if they weren`t?
SCHIFF: Well, that`s the thing, you know? As much as I respect Richard
Engel, and I think he`s one of the best, nothing that he just reported in
that clip said we see the Iraqi army falling apart. They`re just not going
to fight. They`re going to run and hide.
People didn`t see that coming. Yes, you can call that a failure, but
frankly, you got to expect the intelligence community to have a crystal
ball, which I don`t. They did tell us how Maliki was governing in a
sectarian war -- sectarian way.
CLIFF: So, we could see the pressure. We could see the problems. But in
terms of the speedy collapse of the military and the rise of this bond
between the Sunni tribes and ISIS, that was not adequately predicted.
You know, I do have to make one other point, Chris, but I just can`t let
this go from your last question. That is, for are the speaker who is suing
the president claiming he`s exercising too much authority to say, I can`t
bring up a war resolution unless the president asks. That is the cop-out
of all cop-outs.
MATTHEWS: Because the Congress should insist on its own prerogative.
CLIFF: Because the Constitution gives us alone the power to declare war,
and it doesn`t say, when asked by the president.
MATTHEWS: Passing the buck.
Anyway, Senator John McCain didn`t hold back in criticizing Obama`s
assessment that the rise of ISIS was an intelligence failure. He doesn`t
like Obama. Can we say that?
Here`s Senator McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Intelligence people are pushing back hard.
We predicted this and watched it. It was like watching a train wreck and
warning every step of the way that this was happening, because a residual
force would have stabilized the situation and, of course, maybe had a break
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jay, if we had kept a bunch of troops over there, they`d be the
ones fighting ISIS. That would defeat the whole argument that only we can
fight ISIS, the Iraqi didn`t have to. We`d be doing it. I don`t argue --
I don`t understand this residual force argument. Of course, if we stayed
there forever, we could always be fighting. That`s definitional.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: I think what McCain is trying to say,
it`s a deterrent. They`re having American on the ground, American boots on
MATTHEWS: How does that work?
NEWTON-SMALL: Because we`re the strongest fighting force in the world and
because they don`t want --
MATTHEWS: Because we`re fighting.
Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable is staying with us.
Up next, the hot Senate races. The dogged and determined the verdict (ph)
come November. Looks like Republicans are closing the deal.
One key contest, Iowa. Last night, Republican Joni Ernst, you know, the
castrator candidate, and Democrat Bill Braley were both on offense. Let`s
watch them both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL BRALEY (D), IOWA: I have a proven history of working across the
aisle with Republicans in the House and the Senate, because that`s what
Iowans deserve from their next senator. Senator Ernst would have voted to
shut down the federal government with Ted Cruz. She`s called President
Obama a dictator and thinks impeachment should be on the table.
STATE SEN. JONI ERNST (D), IOWA: Congressman, you threatened to sue a
neighbor over chickens that came on to your property. You`re talking about
bipartisanship. How do we expect as Iowans to believe that you will work
across the aisle when you can`t walk across your yard?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I want to thank president Jim Gallagher, the faculty and
students of La Salle University for having me up to Philadelphia yesterday.
It was a joy to return to the campus where I attended high school, my
freshman year. It was a great, unexpected joy to receive an honorary
doctorate. I have to say, the Christian brothers who taught me in my youth
remain the most committed teachers, the most generous, humble and finest
I had a great time up there talking to the students about the Peace Corps
and overall about value of public service, not just for those you`re
serving, but the value that comes back to you for giving it.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
And Republicans, like it or not, are in the process of closing the deal on
U.S. Senate races across the country. Polls show they already have three
states locked down already. That would be West Virginia, South Dakota, and
Montana. And they`re advancing strongly in three additional states they
need to win control of the Senate overall this November -- Arkansas,
Louisiana, and Alaska.
And as a bonus, they could pick up the state of Iowa and keep Kansas, since
independent Greg Orman in Kansas says he`ll caucus with the party who holds
Well, last night, the two Democrats fighting for Iowa`s open Senate seat,
Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst faced off for the first
time in a feisty debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRALEY: I`m not sure that`s what Senator Ernst told the Koch brothers when
she went to their secret meetings.
ERNST: Congressman Braley, you`re not running -- you`re not running
against these other people. You`re running against me.
I am a mother. I am a soldier, and I am an independent leader.
You are being funded by Tom Steyer, who is a California billionaire,
extreme environmentalist. So, remember please that you are running against
BRALEY: I realize that. And, Senator Ernst, President Obama`s name is not
on the ballot. And I`m not going to owe President Obama anything on
Election Day. You`re going to owe the Koch brothers everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff of California, Jay Newton-Small of "Time
Magazine", and David Corn of "Mother Jones".
David, take a look at these numbers coming up. We got an interesting
number. We got an interesting number.
First of all, North Carolina there. Kay Hagan seems to be holding the line
here. I watched her for months now, and despite all the problems in the
red states, North Carolina is sort of a purple state now. She looks like
she can hold onto win this thing.
CORN: Well, you know, you talk to Democratic senators for the past six
month or a year, they say the only chance they have is if some of their
incumbent senators can really off great retail campaigns. And they point
to Kay Hagan. They thought that Pryor in Arkansas, and maybe Mary Landrieu
in Louisiana, though the numbers are weaker, could actually run really good
campaigns and win by these small margins and maybe preserve the Senate for
the Democrats. She seems, at this point, to be doing the best of that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Congressman, how do you run on the campaign when the
national winds may be running against you. Like she just said, this is
about me. This isn`t about the other people.
SCHIFF: Well, that`s exactly right. I mean, they`re both trying to make
the argument, this is not a nationalized race. This is about me.
But the fact that both of them are making that argument indicates to me
that this is not one of those cases where you`ve got the wind plainly at
your back or strongly in your face. The winds have been buffeting these
candidates for the last six months, at times at temporary advantage on one
side or the other, and I think those buffeting winds are going to continue
through election day.
So, I think this is going to be a nail biter.
MATTHEWS: But you have to say that, right?
SCHIFF: I do. But I also believe it.
MATTHEWS: You`re welcomed to say it, but, Jay, it seems like the South is
really going to be a problem. These deep red states, like Louisiana and
Arkansas and then Alaska, I think they`re going to complete the six.
That`s how I`m looking at it right now. And if they complete the six,
they`re going to pick up with Greg Orman who is running as an independent,
because he says he`s going to join the winning side, which is kind of a
weird thing to say.
MATTHEWS: They may pick up Iowa. They may pick something else, I don`t
NEWTON-SMALL: Louisiana, I feel like, you know, Mary Landrieu always pulls
it out. They`ll go to a run-off no matter what, December 6th. The thing I
love about Louisiana in the run-off is that it`s on December 6th. So, if
LSU has a great year, December 6th, playoff game, it`s a playoff game.
MATTHEWS: Mary Landrieu has a problem. Now, look at this. She`s got a
Tea Party person over there at 9 percent. When he disappears in the
runoff, she doesn`t get to 50.
NEWTON-SMALL: Yes. But I`m saying, it will be the day the LSU playoff
game, and it`s the last day of buck hunting in Louisiana. There`s not a
man who will go to the polls in Louisiana.
MATTHEWS: Cassidy is going to win that one, by the way.
CORN: No, I agree that when it comes to runoff election, that might help
the incumbent. It gives here a couple of points. So, it depends, you
know, if she`s within four or five, she can pull it out.
MATTHEWS: Let me say the run-off right now. This one has got Cassidy at
50, she had 47, if it comes down to a two-person race.
MATTHEWS: But you don`t believe in that poll?
CORN: No, I do believe in that poll. But I think if it`s close, she`ll
get the benefit of a low-turnout election.
MATTHEWS: OK. Look at Joni Ernst coming up here. This is very
interesting in Iowa, which has been a very much a nail-biter. It seems
like her showbiz quality seems to have moved her ahead. Like all the
castration of hogs and this chicken -- and then, Congressman, showbiz
matters there. Look at her. That`s all people know about her, as the
castrating hogs is all they know.
SCHIFF: You know, in these two races where there isn`t that strong,
national direction, good campaigns matter. Campaign mistakes matter.
And, so, at the end of the day, I think what makes the cycle so
unpredictable, it`s going to be on the basis of who runs the strongest
campaigns. And neither side can consistently claim credit for doing that.
MATTHEWS: Let me give you a chance for a pitch here at partisan, which you
are right to be, you are partisan. What happens if the Senate goes
Republican and Obama has got two houses of Congress against him for his
last two years of his presidency? How big is that?
SCHIFF: Well, if people like the dysfunction we have now, they can just
welcome an even greater gridlock and despair because nothing is going to
get done. It`s hard enough --
MATTHEWS: No immigration?
SCHIFF: No immigration. No major initiative on jobs. No effort to put
people back to work. It`s just going to be two years of stagnation.
MATTHEWS: If you hold the Senate, you`ll get those things?
SCHIFF: If we hold the Senate, we have a chance to get those things,
because, actually, the Senate under the current Democratic majority has
been productive. They`ve passed an immigration bill. They have been able
to get things done. It`s in the House where all of this is dying. But if
we have a Republican Senate, nothing is going to get out of there, either:
NEWTON-SMALL: What is going to be a --
MATTHEWS: What`s the implication of a two-house opposition of the
NEWTON-SMALL: A Democratic win 2016.
MATTHEWS: You think it will work the other way.
NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, I mean, I just think there will be so much bitterness,
so much unhappiness. Why would the Republicans want it? They`re obviously
going to lose the Senate in 2016, because there`s so many Republicans up in
blue states. So you get it for, what, two years?
MATTHEWS: Winning is winning and losing is losing, that`s what I think.
CORN: Don`t forget the courts and appointments and other A.G. and all of
that. It`s going to be a disaster.
MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you, we`re going to have to have a lot of Supreme
Court judges stick around for a while, if that happens.
Anyway, thanks for a nice round. What a great round, U.S. Congressman Adam
Schiff of California, Jay Newton-Small of "Time" and David Corn of "Mother
I`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my fears about this war we`re in.
They are, it`s now estimated, more than 30,000 members of is in Iraq and
Syria. Do we have to kill them all? Is that how we have to defeat them?
How many people do we have to kill in Iraq and Syria with our bombings in
order to kill the members of ISIS? There`s always collateral damage. And
how many survivors of those casualties will want ISIS to win the war
against this country, the country that killed these family members?
What about the new fighters that are going to come to Iraq and Syria to
join them? Doesn`t this basic math suggested the bombings we`re conducting
will actually serve to continue ISIS, the way the bombings in World War II
added to the fighting spirit of the countries being bombed. That either
England or Germany throw its hands in the air when hit again and again from
So, what is the end game of a war in which we Americans, yet, again, are
seen bombing and killing Arabs? Is it to stop those in the Arab word from
hating us or is it to create more of them hating us? Is it possible that
ISIS wants us bombing it, knowing that the more we bomb, the more we maim
and kill, the more the world sees what we`re doing, the more the world, the
Islamic world, will choose sides against us. It`s something -- an
important to think about, don`t you think?
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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