October 7, 2014
Guest: Larry Sabato, John Brabender, Ken Vogel, Nia-Malika Henderson, Ken
Vogel, Steve McMahon
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Four Tuesdays from now.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
I promised you a big inside look at the 2014 election tonight and the
fight tonight, the fights, the fighters, the hardest, nastiest contests to
come. And before we`re done this evening, you`ll know where the excitement
lies, who`s got the momentum, and what the stakes are if the Democrats lose
this big one.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may wander and
I may roam, but I will never be far from home. You`re in my heart and
you`ll always be. Arkansas, you run deep in me. Vote your heart!
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator, you
seem to think that the president is on the ballot this year. He`s not!
This race is between me and you and the people of Kentucky, and we intend
to hold you accountable for your (INAUDIBLE) years of failed leadership!
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: My home is Dodge City, and I`m damn
proud of it.
GREG ORMAN (I), KANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I suspect, Senator,
I`ve been to Dodge City more this year than you have.
REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: 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.
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: Congressman, you threatened to
sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto 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?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There`s only way to
begin to go in a different direction. That`s to change the Senate and make
me the leader of a new majority to take America in a different direction!
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: If we keep stepping
up and bringing others along, then I know that we can keep making that
change we believe in. I know we can elect Mary Burke as governor of
Wisconsin! Thank you all so much. God bless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There she is, looking good.
And joining me right now, "Washington Post" opinion writer and MSNBC
political analyst Jonathan Capehart and Professor -- the great, I should
say -- Professor Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia`s
Center for Politics.
We`re going to go right now as if it were the route to the invading
army, how the Republicans could win the U.S. Senate. For Republicans to
take over control of the Senate, I figure their clearest path to victory
flows this way. First, they take South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia.
Then they work their way through Alaska, followed by a march into the deep
South to try to capture Arkansas and Louisiana, and then up to the Midwest
So let`s take a look at the face us of the contenders who populate
this path to victory, if the Republicans get it, and discuss the
chokepoints for the Democrats to counterattack.
South Dakota, you`ve got a three-way race there, Democrat Rick
Weiland, independent Larry Pressler, who was the senator for many years,
and Republican Mike Rounds. An average of the polling shows Republican
Rounds with a double-digit lead.
Montana -- Democrat Amanda Curtis versus Republican Steve Daines. The
polling average has Republican Daines there with a double-digit lead, as
well. West Virginia, Democrat Natalie Tennant versus Republican Shelley
Moore Capito. Republican Capito maintains a healthy lead. So let`s say
Republicans do win these three.
Now it starts to get harder for them. And they need six, a net six.
The following races are all close -- Alaska, Democrat Mark Begich versus
Republican Dan Sullivan. The RealClearPolitics polling average as of now
has Sullivan up by a hair. Then to the deep South, Arkansas, where
Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican Tom Cotton are neck and neck right now.
On to Louisiana, where the state`s open primary format has Democrat
Mary Landrieu, the incumbent, fending off Republicans Bill Cassidy and Rob
Maness. Finally, Iowa, where Democrat Bruce Braley is in the fight of his
life against the hog castrator -- that`s how she calls herself -- Joni
Ernst. We just saw her. So there we have it right now.
Let me go to Larry Sabato, who I watch all the time on this. Three of
them look pretty good for the Republicans. That`s, as I said, South
Dakota, Montana, West Virginia. Then it gets more difficult -- Alaska,
Arkansas, Louisiana. And then to win the thing, assuming what`s happening
will hurt them, the Republicans in Kansas, they got to win Iowa. How`s
that look to you? Is that their path to victory if they win?
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I think that`s about right. I
would say Iowa is the most probable sixth or seventh seat, if they have to
win seven because they lose Kansas or Colorado. You might want to throw
Colorado in there, too. Those are probably the two most critical seats,
assuming that they can really knock off all these Democratic incumbents in
the South. You didn`t mention Kay Hagen. She`s the model...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think she`s going to lose. That`s why...
SABATO: And she`s ahead.
MATTHEWS: I`ll get to that. I want to go right now to that one, but
-- look at the first -- this is the path to victory. This is Sherman`s
march to the sea, if you will, if they make it to the sea.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right,
if they make it to the sea. And Chris, the key thing here is, and the one
thing you didn`t mention but -- and the one thing no one`s talking about,
but should pay attention to, the African-American vote. That is the vote
that could be the thing that keeps the Senate in Democratic hands.
And I bring that up in three races -- Arkansas, which is on your list,
Louisiana, which is on your list. You think Kay Hagen is going to win
North Carolina, and it looks good for her right now. But if the polls
close up and Kay Hagen is hanging on, it`s the African-American vote there
that could push her over.
Now, in Louisiana, we`ve seen races before where Mary -- Senator
Landrieu has eked out a win, and it`s because African-Americans come out
and vote for her...
MATTHEWS: Well, how`s that look for you? We`re looking at numbers
that don`t show a lot of intensity on the liberal side of things.
CAPEHART: Exactly. Exactly. But the thing that we have to
understand here -- and I know that the history says that African-American
voters, and actually, the Obama coalition, doesn`t come out and vote in
But what I say to people is there are two things you have to look at
it. One, the off-year election in Virginia, the Virginia gubernatorial
race 2013, Terry McAuliffe against Ken Cuccinelli. People didn`t think
Terry McAuliffe was going to win. He won by 3 points because the African-
American vote was at the same level of intensity in 2013 as it was in 2012.
The second thing to look at, Chris, is that African-American voters
are pretty angry. They`re angry about voting rights. They`re angry about
Ferguson. They`re angry about...
MATTHEWS: They`re a little angry at the president, too.
CAPEHART: ... impeachment threats...
MATTHEWS: They`re a little angry at the president, too.
CAPEHART: ... against the president and the Secret Service threats
against the president.
MATTHEWS: Oh, that, too.
CAPEHART: Yes, they`re angry with the president because things
haven`t happened, but they`re more angry about the things that are
happening to them by way of Republican obstruction, the Supreme Court doing
what it did on voting rights and...
MATTHEWS: And besides...
CAPEHART: ... and also a feeling that they need to have...
MATTHEWS: Who`s going to...
CAPEHART: ... the president`s back.
MATTHEWS: Who`s going to get at them and make that change for the
polling right now? You and the first lady, OK. You`re both in. I just
heard you. Great. She`s been great. We just saw a bit of her out there
MATTHEWS: But I don`t hear the president out there campaigning
because he`s afraid to go into those states, I`m afraid, because...
MATTHEWS: ... the angry conservative whites don`t want to see him.
CAPEHART: Oh, sure. That we know. But you have to understand
something. The president`s been campaigning. He`s been doing fund
raisers. He`s not doing them in the states, but he`s raising tons of money
for the DSCC, the DCCC and is getting the message out...
MATTHEWS: ... as excited as you are, I would have no doubt about the
Anyway, Republicans could use this following path to add to their
majority if they have a really good day four weeks from tonight. In
Kansas, independent Greg Orman -- you mentioned him, Larry, who says he`ll
organize with whoever wins, basically. In North Carolina, Republican Thom
Tillis beats the incumbent Democrat senator, Kay Hagen. I don`t think he`s
going to do it, nor in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner, if he beats
incumbent Mark Udall. Same in New Hampshire. Here`s a real reach, Scott
Brown wins against the incumbent, who happens to live in New Hampshire,
Jeanne Shaheen, and Michigan, where Republican Terri Lynn Land beats
Democrat Gary Peters.
What do you think the chances are of a real sweep, looking at the
numbers right now, where the Republicans don`t just take the Senate, they
roll it up to the mid-50s?
SABATO: Very minimal. Very minimal. You can -- you can cut Michigan
right out of there, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Because they stopped the advertising today.
SABATO: My crystal ball -- no, I mean, absolutely. Look, it`s not
only over, it`s been over for months and months. We`ve never had that race
out of the Democratic column. And some of the others are real stretches
that you just mentioned.
Look, this is not a slam dunk for the Republicans. A year ago, they
thought they were going to run up 52, 53, 54 seats, and I heard numbers
larger than that. Hasn`t turned out that way. It`s a six-year itch
election, but the itch is really not very deep.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t their opportunity the broad swath (ph) of elections
they could win -- they could win all the ones I mentioned -- South Dakota,
Montana, West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and Iowa. But they
could also pick up a vote because (INAUDIBLE) Orman -- Orman from the
Kansas -- the independent says, I`ll go with whoever wins. Well, that`s
another vote to add to them.
And I do think the race in North Carolina is tricky just because --
you know, you`re in Virginia. For some weird reason, North Carolina -- and
I went to grad school and I`m going down there this weekend -- they`re
moving to the right. It`s just moving to the right. I don`t know why, and
I don`t think that can be good for Kay Hagen.
SABATO: Well, look, it`s possible that Tillis could win. There are
28 days to go, and you never know what`s going to happen. She has really
been the great survivor of the election.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
SABATO: I tend to think, you know, she`s going to hang on. What`s
much more important is Kansas. That is the real fly in the ointment for
the Republicans. And a year ago, who could have imagined that Kansas might
stand in the way of Republicans gaining the Senate?
For Orman, if he wins -- and he`s ahead right now in the polling
averages. If he wins, the question is going to be, is he going to join the
Republican caucus after he`s had the stuffing beat out of him, and you
know, a couple million dollars...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Great question.
SABATO: ... of television ads that they`re going to fund, or is he
going to think about his reelection in 2020? He`d have a better chance as
a Republican candidate.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think! I`m thinking selfish. Let me start
with you, Jonathan (INAUDIBLE) What do you think the headline`s going to
be in "The Washington Post," your paper, Wednesday morning after the
election? Give me a -- is it going to be, Democrats hold on, keep the
Senate, or Republicans pick up the Senate in a closer vote than expected?
CAPEHART: OK, I`m going to make you mad and say it could be either
one. Right now, this point this point right now...
MATTHEWS: In the tradition, by the way, of David Broder, the best
ever. He never predicted, either. But go ahead.
CAPEHART: But I would say right now that the headline would be,
Democrats hang onto the Senate by a fingernail.
MATTHEWS: Black vote key.
CAPEHART: Absolutely. Black vote key.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you get out there on the road, it might be!
MATTHEWS: You make a good case. Larry Sabato, can you predict in
your offices (ph) of greatness down there in Charlottesville -- can you say
what you think the headline`s going to be Wednesday morning after this
election? Will the Democrats hold on by holding North Carolina and perhaps
prevent a defeat against the castrator in Iowa and hold the Senate?
SABATO: Yes, I can predict the headline precisely, Chris. The
headline is, Senate up in air. Louisiana`s going to have a run-off.
Georgia could easily have a run-off in January, not December, like
Louisiana. It`s going to take a week at least to figure out who`s won
Alaska, and there`s bound to be one or two other squeakers. We`re not
going to know who is controlling the Senate for a while after November 4th.
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a prediction. There`s a prediction. I do
believe that Landrieu is going to have a hard time in that -- in that -- in
the run-off, the run-off -- I think that`s going to be awful tough for her
to hold, to get 50 percent.
Anyway, thank you. (INAUDIBLE) the Alaska thing comes in late, and
certainly, the Georgia (INAUDIBLE) runoff there sometime in January --
January whatever. It`s incredible the way these states do their things.
Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart.
CAPEHART: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You roused me tonight with excitement!
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Larry Sabato, as brilliant as ever.
Stay with us now the entire hour for our special report on the
upcoming November elections. We`re going to go look at the races that will
decide control -- the hottest races coming up right now. Forget the mood
of the country (INAUDIBLE) get the zeitgeist (INAUDIBLE) people feeling and
get predictions from a roundtable on which way this wind is headed. We`re
also going to have the most memorable campaign ads of the year. They`re
coming up. And my favorite part of any election night, the concession
speeches, because they`re the one real part of American politics.
This is a special edition of HARDBALL, four weeks before the midterm
MATTHEWS: Well, four weeks from now, on election night itself, we`ll
be watching the winners, of course, but the concession speeches from the
losing candidates are often the most dramatic moments in politics. Adlai
Stevenson`s 1952 concession to General Dwight Eisenhower is regarded among
the most respected -- well respected concession speeches ever. It had
grace, patriotism and humor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ADLAI STEVENSON (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Someone asked me
as I came in down on the street how I felt. And I was reminded of a story
that a fellow townsman of ours used to tell, Abraham Lincoln. And they
asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Adlai!
STEVENSON: He said -- he said he felt like a little boy who had
stubbed his toe in the dark, and it -- that he was too old to cry, but it
hurt too much to laugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was one of the best. And in 1978, Massachusetts
senator Ed Brooke lost to Paul Tsongas. Tsongas never mentioned Brooke`s
personal financial troubles during the campaign. And in his concession
speech, Ed Brooke praised him for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ED BROOKE (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I want to congratulate Paul
Tsongas for the quality of his campaign. I want to congratulate him for
the honorable manner in which he has conducted this campaign. When we were
down in the valley, I did not cry, I cried out. And you answered that cry,
and you have shown your faith and your confidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In the valley, down in the valley, I did not cry. That`s
one of the best ones. And we`re going to see if any of the losing
candidates four weeks from now can match that for being honest. And a
little bit of eloquence won`t hurt.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERNST: Again, I will continue to support the RFF (ph) and do that as
your next United States senator.
BRALEY: If I could respond -- 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 -- I am -- 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.
BRALEY: 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: Pretty tough. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of
course, a debate out in Iowa between Democrat Bruce Braley, the
congressman, and Republican Joni Ernst, the one who calls herself the pig
castrator, vying to become Iowa`s next U.S. Senator. By the way, she`s
Iowa has turned out to be perhaps the most crucial of battleground
states this cycle, a contest that could well decide control of the U.S.
Senate. I think it will decide the election, along with states like New
Hampshire and North Carolina, where the HARDBALL team will be this weekend
to interview Senator Kay Hagen. I`m going down there.
Iowa is a must-win for Democrats. They have to win there. Most
people believe that.
And Republicans are poised to win in Arkansas, where MSNBC`s Kasie
Hunt right now joins us from right there. Kasie has been following former
president Bill Clinton`s travel around that state yesterday and again
today, stumping for embattled Democrat senator Mark Pryor.
I got the feeling, Kasie -- I know I`m a skeptic, but I thought Bill
was coming home to touch base for Hillary Clinton coming back in 2016. He
was saying, I`ve roamed, I`ve wandered, but I`m home. I get the sense this
is about a lot more than this election with Pryor. It`s about that family
and where they head -- hope to be the next election. Your thoughts.
KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think that that`s certainly part of
it. There`s -- you know, to a certain extent with the Clintons, it`s
always about the future. But in this case, I think it was a little bit
about the past for Bill Clinton.
I mean, these candidates he was here stumping for are people who`ve
been in his political life for decades. Mike Ross (ph) was his driver, now
running for governor, Mark Pryor trying to hang onto his Senate seat, the
son of David Pryor, who has been very close to Bill Clinton for a long
And you know, he really brings something to this race that President
Barack Obama can`t. You know, Bill Clinton appeals both to the African-
American voters that you were talking about a little bit earlier on the
show, but also to those rural white voters, the ones that are, you know,
not happy with President Obama this time around.
And that was a message that Bill Clinton brought to these crowds here.
He rallied at college campuses. He`s looking for young votes. He`s
looking for that Obama coalition. But what he said was, Republicans are
trying to make this about President Obama. President Obama only has really
two years left. The senator you choose is going be in there for six, and
that you should look past that sort of lens.
HUNT: And he, you know, acknowledged the sort of fraught history of
race that`s present here in Arkansas.
He talked about what it was like to be here during the civil rights
era and how the state has changed for the better since then. And he sort
of made this pitch to students to look forward to the future, try not to
let Republicans define it a certain way.
HUNT: And if you think about Congressman Tom Cotton, he`s one of the
more conservative members in the House. He`s a different kind of
Republican than Arkansas has even -- even in some of the rest of the
Arkansas delegation -- he`s campaigning with Mike Huckabee on Thursday.
Tom Cotton and Huckabee are two very different kinds of Republicans.
MATTHEWS: OK. Kasie, we got to go. Thank you so much. We will be
following you on the campaign. You`re going everywhere, Kasie down in
Joining me right now for a deeper dive into some of the hottest Senate
races this coming month, this year, are two campaign veterans, Democratic
strategist David Axelrod and Republican strategist John Brabender.
David -- David, thank you much, David Axelrod.
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this race in Iowa. This thing has --
this ad she did about hog castration got a lot of attention. People
accused her of being a lightweight. She`s no lightweight. She`s great in
those debate formats.
MATTHEWS: What do you see happening in Iowa?
AXELROD: First of all, being called a lightweight going into a debate
is a great advantage, because the bar is low. And she`s exceeded the bar
and she`s been helped by those -- helped by those encounters.
AXELROD: I think Iowa is -- I agree with you, I think Iowa is going
to be the pivotal state in this whole constellation.
And it`s very, very close. She`s got momentum. She`s got charisma.
But Democrats have great organization there. And one of the things that`s
giving Democrats some confidence there is the early vote. The applications
for absentee ballots, or early vote ballots are coming in, in the same
proportion they did in 2012 on a partisan basis.
Their analysis suggests they will go into Election Day because of this
early vote with a three- or four-point lead. So she will really have to be
more than that ahead in order to win on Election Day. She will have to win
more by that -- by more than 3 or 4 on Election Day.
So it`s really an organization vs. momentum and charisma, and we will
MATTHEWS: What I keep reading about -- and our numbers -- I`m going
to show them to John Brabender in a minute and everybody on the air
watching -- there`s a tremendous number of numbers that show us -- we`re
going to have a bunch of them later -- about the feeling of the country.
The liberals are down. They are not into intensity. They don`t
really want to get out there and vote. The Democrat, moderate,
progressives, whatever, they just don`t have it. On the right, they`re
angry, they`re mad, they don`t like the way things are going. They`re
going to show up. That`s the way it looks now, John.
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think
MATTHEWS: And in Iowa, I think it`s going to help her.
BRABENDER: Yes. This isn`t meant to be a shot at David`s client, but
I do think that a lot of that is the president of the United States.
I don`t think the liberals are enthused. I don`t think they`re
excited. I don`t think they`re excited about the direction, about some of
the decisions that he`s made. There`s another interesting thing going on
that I haven`t heard many people talk about.
In a lot of these close races...
MATTHEWS: By the way, let`s stick with this one, the Iowa. Show how
close it is.
The latest NBC News/Marist poll has Braley, the Democrat, and the
Republican, Ernst, virtually tied at 46 for Ernst and 44 for Braley. But I
would argue, if a Republican is ahead now, given intensity and voter
turnout, he will win. She will win.
BRABENDER: Yes, I think she will win.
I also think in some sense, because she was the underdog to begin
with, she`s seen as almost the challenger vs. him being the incumbent. And
the incumbent usually doesn`t pick up a lot of votes. I think that`s why
Democrats have a lot of trouble coming up in Arkansas, Louisiana, North
Carolina, because even though those races might be close, the Democrat is
way below 50 in those seats.
You know how, David, I -- I`m going to -- I do these things pretty
analytically. I don`t -- I know you don`t want to end up like Leon Panetta
tonight and figure the Republicans are going to win. I`m serious about
that. I think you should be a loyalist.
But I look at it this way. I`m looking at one state that could throw
everything out, and that`s New Hampshire. If Scott Brown can waltz across
the border and show up in that state and actually win a Senate seat after
losing one in a bordering state, it shows the wind was at this guy`s back
like you can`t believe.
The latest "New York Times"/CBS poll, by the way, from New Hampshire
shows Jeanne Shaheen a seven-point lead, but that thing has been bouncing
all over the place. She`s at 48. He`s at 41. I`m not sure of that all
because he`s been in other polls very close.
Your thinking. Can he win? You watch this guy.
AXELROD: Well, let me just -- what I believe is that Shaheen`s going
And if Brown wins that race, I don`t think it`s going to be a 50 or 51
Republican majority. It will be more than that, because it will mean that
there`s been a kind of wave that will tip a number of these other races as
But I want to return, Chris, to this question of Iowa, because the
problem that Democrats have had traditionally in midterm elections, not
just this one, is voter drop-off. Democrats tend to vote in presidential
elections, not so much in midterm elections.
If Democrats in any of these states -- and Iowa is one of them -- can
replicate the kind of proportionality that they get in a presidential race,
they have got a much better chance to win.
MATTHEWS: But how do they do that? How do they do that?
AXELROD: Well, they do -- they do -- they do it by -- they do it by
very precisely organizing.
AXELROD: And that`s what they`re trying to do in Iowa.
It`s really, really -- this early mail thing -- mail ballot thing is
very important because a lot of the people who are asking for applications
are people who don`t generally participate in these elections.
AXELROD: And they tend to be Democrats, not Republicans.
So these kinds of things can even up the race. But, look, there`s no
doubt the Republicans start with an advantage in this race, and it`s not
just because of the president, and it`s not just because it`s the sixth
year. But so many of the Senate races fall in red states this year, seven
MATTHEWS: I know.
AXELROD: So they start with an uneven playing field in their favor.
And, actually, it will be a feat if -- I mean, the chairman of the
party said on television the other day it would be a big, big defeat for
the Republicans if they didn`t take the Senate this year.
BRABENDER: But two important things. You can only organize if
there`s excitement that goes with that organization, because you can`t just
Once they`re excited, you can get them there. If there`s not the
excitement, they can`t. The second thing, why New Hampshire is so
important, is, dollars have now been sent there, dollars that can`t be
spent other places where they were hoping to come into play. The fact that
that race has now become challenging for the Democrats, it`s helping
Republicans everywhere else.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about it. Are there any Republicans
positive about anything, or is it all get rid of Obama?
BRABENDER: Anything positive about...
MATTHEWS: What do they want? What do the Republicans want?
Positively, what do they want?
BRABENDER: Well, one is more freedom. Two is less regulations.
Three is less taxes. Four is to be able to pick your own doctor if you
want to go to.
There`s a lot of things. Second of all, I think there`s a fear among
Republicans that there isn`t real leadership in what is probably in some
ways World War III right now that we are fighting. And people don`t...
MATTHEWS: You`re not overstating that, are you a little?
BRABENDER: Well, except that it`s a different type of war. That`s
the problem. No one is going to ever understand the importance of...
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you what World War III was. World War III was
us we and little Catholic schoolkids hiding under a school test because we
were going to have an intercontinental nuclear war. It was a real thing.
That`s World War III.
BRABENDER: But the problem is, we`re in a different type of war than
we have ever been or ever will be because of how it`s fought.
MATTHEWS: It`s not World War III.
BRABENDER: And I don`t think people feel as safe as they were.
MATTHEWS: You know, we can spend hours with people in social
situations and never discuss ISIS. That may be scary in its own way, but
it`s not the fear we felt during the Cold War.
BRABENDER: I`ll tell you right now, I see polling data every day and
it`s moving up in all these polls in all these Senate races.
MATTHEWS: I think Ebola is bigger.
Anyway, David Axelrod, thank you, sir, for joining us.
AXELROD: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You`re a loyalist and a thinker. Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Good luck with the Chicago -- University of Chicago effort
AXELROD: Thank you. I appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Interesting politics out there.
MATTHEWS: It`s a great cause, to teach, always to teach.
MATTHEWS: David and John Brabender, thank you very much.
BRABENDER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, David, again.
On Monday, don`t miss my interview with Senator Kay Hagan. We`re
going to have her. We`re going down to North Carolina to see her this
weekend. She`s a tough -- I think she`s going to win against Thom Tillis
because he`s got his problem as speaker of the House down there. He`s
playing defense too.
We will be down in the Tar Heel State all weekend to talk to her and
to take reports down there of what`s going on, bring it all back to you on
Up next, the best campaign ads of the season coming. This is the fun
part of the show. And this is HARDBALL, our special tonight, four weeks
before the midterm elections.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
With just four weeks to go before the November elections, let`s take a
look at some of the most memorable Senate campaign ads of the 2014 election
year so far.
The first comes up from Republican candidate Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
When incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Pryor said that Cotton`s military
service gave the man a sense of entitlement he shouldn`t have had, Cotton
enlisted his old drill sergeant from the service and responded with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Senator Pryor says
my military service gives me -- quote -- "a sense of entitlement." I
brought in an expert.
I met Sergeant Norton at basic training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s still Drill Sergeant Norton, Cotton. At
COTTON: Drill Sergeant Norton taught me how to be a soldier,
accountability, humility, and putting the unit before yourself.
I`m Tom Cotton. I approve this message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re on thin ice, Cotton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: God, sounds like Lou Gossett there.
Anyway, the next is from Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes
of Kentucky. She`s running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
And she made this ad to put some distance between herself and President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not
Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal, and the EPA.
And, Mitch, that`s not how you hold a gun.
I`m Alison Lundergan Grimes, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: An interesting comment.
Anyway, Mark Begich of Alaska, a Democrat, took to riding a snowmobile
to show his home state roots and support for oil drilling up in the Arctic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK BEGICH (D), ALASKA: I`m Mark Begich.
I fought for five years to get the permits so we could drill under
this ice, and we won. I approve this message because, sooner or later,
Washington will figure out that I don`t take no for an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Greg Orman, the independent candidate in Kansas, is leading
Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. He`s running as a political outsider.
He blames both parties for the dysfunction in D.C. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN (I), KANSAS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: If you listen to Pat
Roberts` Washington buddies, they will tell you that President Obama and
Harry Reid are the reason Washington is such a mess. And you know what?
But the other half of the mess, Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts. The
truth is, both parties are more interested in political games than problem-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The next is from Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land of
Michigan. When her opponent, Gary Peters, attack her on women`s issues
like equal pay and abortion rights, she came out with this most basic of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRI LYNN LAND (D), MICHIGAN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Terri Lynn
Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to believe I`m waging
a war on women. Really? Think about that for a moment.
I`m Terry Lynn Land and I approved this message, because, as a woman,
I might know a little bit more about women than Gary Peters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: They`re not exactly actors, are they?
And last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the most recognizable ad
of the 2014 midterm election season, Joni Ernst`s big castration ad out in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Joni Ernst.
I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to
Washington, I will know how to cut pork.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Up next, what`s the mood of the country right now going into the
election? It`s only four weeks now. Are we looking at a wave election, a
big vote against President Obama or not?
That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, a special edition of the
program, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The freelance NBC photojournalist who contracted Ebola in Liberia has
been given an experimental drug. He`s in isolation at Nebraska Medical
Health officials say 48 people who had contact with the Dallas Ebola
patient Thomas Eric Duncan remain symptom-free.
And the head of U.S. Africa Command says if any Americans forces
contract Ebola while deployed in West Africa, they will be evacuated to the
U.S. for treatment. Thousands of U.S. troops are headed to the outbreak
zone to try and contain that virus -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, four
weeks before the election.
We vote in this country because it`s right thing to do and because we
want to send a message with our vote. We always want to do that. It`s
either yes or no, I always argue, about the way things are going. If you
like the way things are going, you vote a certain way. If you don`t, you
vote another way.
What will the message be in November this year? And what are these
midterm elections really about? Are they rebuke to President Obama? Will
November be a Republican romp? But what`s the mood of the country right
We have some geniuses with us right now.
Let`s bring in the roundtable, the roundtable. Ken Vogel is a
reporter with the great Politico, which steals all the reporters from "The
MATTHEWS: Until recently.
MATTHEWS: Nia-Malika Henderson, who will not be stolen as a reporter
with "The Washington Post."
MATTHEWS: And Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist, a real one,
not somebody who drove for somebody once, although he did that. He drove
MATTHEWS: Let me go -- let me go to this. What`s one word to define
the mood of the country going into this election, if you...
KENNETH VOGEL, POLITICO: I would go with sour.
VOGEL: Seventy-six percent think that the country is on the wrong
track, pretty similar to -- in the run-up to the 2010 election, when of
course we saw Republicans take back the House. Seems to be pointing
MATTHEWS: I`m going to show those numbers in a minute.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON
POST": Yes, I think anxious and frustrated, frustrated that things aren`t
moving forward, frustrated that they`re not hearing a lot of plans for
where to go, and maybe even a little -- maybe even a little afraid.
MATTHEWS: Neither party is selling what they`re going to do.
HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, I think the summer was a tough one for
Obama. We`re in Syria. He had Ferguson. I think a lot of people -- that
sort of ruffled feathers and made people a little nervous.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, I would -- I -- similar,
but not the same.
I would say disgusted. They`re absolutely disgusted with their
leaders in Washington. If they could vote them all out, they would. And
if you`re an incumbent...
MATTHEWS: That never happens, though.
MCMAHON: Well, it doesn`t happen.
MCMAHON: It is bad, though.
MATTHEWS: I have been watching elections before you were born, and
let me tell you something. It`s always in one direction. It always is.
MCMAHON: When you look at the numbers this year, it`s as bad as it`s
ever been. It`s as bad as it`s ever....
MATTHEWS: OK, not before you were born, anyway.
MATTHEWS: Right now, the mood of the country doesn`t look that swell
Look at this. More than two-thirds, as you said, say the country is
on the wrong track. Only 23 percent of the country, less than a quarter,
say we`re on the right track. And both of those are worse than November
2010, when Republicans rode an anti-Obama wave in the midterms, freshman
terms, to win the House.
Also, Republicans are winning the intensity battle, which is
everything in a midterm. Look at this. If you ask registered voters which
party should control the Congress, they say Democrats, 46-42. Not bad.
But if you ask high intensity voters, the ones who are gung-ho to vote
the same question, you get the opposite. They want a Republican-controlled
Congress, 51-48. So, that`s a serious matter there for the Democrats.
And finally, the base isn`t signaling support for the president. Look
at this, just 38 percent of Democrats say they`re voting this November in
support of the president. That`s down from 45 percent in 2010, and roughly
in line with the support George W. Bush got -- he didn`t get in support
from 2006 from his Republican Party when they lost the houses.
You`re a Democratic consultant. You were on their side. I`m often on
the side of Democrats, I admit. But here`s the question, how are they
going to win the voters that show up, how do they get people to get roused
I mean, Jonathan Capehart gave a rousing speech to African-Americans
here a few minutes ago, but that`s the first one I`ve heard. I think Mrs.
Obama is out there. But how do you get the Democratic excitement --
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the message is, you know,
when the economy improves and it is improving, but everybody`s not feeling
it. When it does improve, who`s it going to benefit? Whose America`s
economy going to work for, the wealthy and the special interests and the
powerful interest, or the regular people? That`s still an area that
Democrats win overwhelmingly.
The second thing Democrats have to do --
MATTHEWS: Why don`t they brag about the economy getting better?
MCMAHON: Well, because people -- a lot of people don`t feel it`s
MATTHEWS: I know. But why don`t they brag about the people that are
MCMAHON: Why do they brag --
MATTHEWS: Well, because the unemployment rate has dropped under 6.
The fact is, we -- this administration, a quarter million new jobs in one
month, 10 million new jobs since the crash. Don`t they -- don`t you sell
your strengths in politics?
MCMAHON: Boy, you do. And those are a list of facts and everybody
nods their head and they say, why is it that I`m feeling it?
MATTHEWS: Because you`re not of those 10 million. You`re not of the
MCMAHON: Economic unease.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: And people`s salaries and
income, the money in their pockets and their paychecks hasn`t gone up, so
they`re not feeling it.
And also, I think --
MATTHEWS: Well, Republicans would be bragging right now. So how is
this different? Nia, how`s it different?
HENDERSON: I think you`ve heard some of the bragging from Obama, but
I think he`s got to temper it with how people are actually feeling.
MATTHEWS: He has to figure out how to do it. Look, we lived through
the 1930s, it was horrible for a decade. And Roosevelt kept people`s hopes
up because they were making progress. He keep saying, we`re getting
I watched those guys hot dog in the end zone, spiking the ball last
night. Democrats don`t know how to spike the ball. That`s their problem.
They put the ball down and walk over to the end zone and they go to the
sidelines. No, throw that thing, do something!
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: The difference between this and 2010, though, is
that both sides to an extent did have a unifying message. The Republicans
were running against Obamacare. Democrats were standing up and Democrats
talking about how things were turning around. Now, it`s just completely
MATTHEWS: What do you make of these guys who are going south in the
press, like Leon Panetta? Not just him, but people like Begich, like
Hagan, they`re walking away from him.
HENDERSON: I mean, every man for himself.
MATTHEWS: If we don`t all hang together, we`ll hang separately. That
was a great line from the revolution. And now, they`re hanging separately.
HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, if you`re Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, you
want to hang separately from this president.
MATTHEWS: How do you get the black vote if you run away from a black
HENDERSON: Well, you know, I think African Americans are going to
show up. I think they got Michelle Obama out there talking specifically to
MATTHEWS: I hope so, for them.
HENDERSON: You know, in states like North Carolina, it looks like --
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama has gone under cover in these
midterms, but he resurfaced last Thursday.
Here`s the president making his best case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don`t buy this notion
that somehow this is an anti-business agenda. This is a pro-business
agenda. This is a pro-economic growth agenda. I`m not on the ballot this
fall. Michelle`s pretty happy about that.
But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot, every single
one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Republicans were quick to jump on that pro-business
remark, prompting some Democrats, including David Axelrod, who`s just on,
to run damage control. Here`s Axelrod on "Meet the Press" this Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If you read the
speech, the context of the line was, the things he`s pushing forward --
minimum wage, pay equity, infrastructure -- he said these are on the
ballot. But the way -- it was obvious when you saw the speech that that
was not the way --
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: You`re an ad man that was --
AXELROD: Wait. It was a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What was the mistake there?
MCMAHON: What was the mistake?
MCMAHON: I think giving Republicans a cliff to hang on Democrats`
MATTHEWS: Was that I`m not on the ballot?
MCMAHON: No, Mark Warner sitting over in Virginia and Republicans are
saying he voted with Obama 97 percent of the time. Obama`s policies aren`t
that popular in Virginia. And now, there`s a clip that says those policies
are on the ballot. Mark Warner has been trying to separate himself as
Democrats have, and the president just gave them a clip that they make into
an ad that puts them together.
HENDERSON: But I`m not sure that changes anyone`s mind, right? It`s
essentially saying --
HENDERSON: They`re already pretty enthusiastic. It`s not going to
change a Democrat`s mind.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk Turkey for a minute, let`s get a little rough
here. Panetta is out there trashing the president on the decisions he`d
made. Shouldn`t there be a period of loyalty until maybe the elections put
behind them or maybe not? Right before an election, to be supportive of
the guy who puts in the cabinet?
MCMAHON: You won`t write a book and you won`t become a lobbyist for
two years after you leave. There should --
MATTHEWS: How about while the guy is still in office?
MCMAHON: Well, yes.
VOGEL: It`s just unfortunate for Democrats because for the first time
in a while, foreign policy is something voters care about. And he is
perceived as --
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing this? Why is he doing this?
HENDERSON: Well, partly because he`s not going to work in politics
MCMAHON: Who cares?
HENDERSON: He wants to sell books.
MCMAHON: Actually, the Kennedy administration didn`t write books.
MATTHEWS: Loyalty is still a good thing -- you only get appointed by
one president to one job. Anyway --
HENDERSON: There`s some suggestion that he`s sort of running
interference for Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: How`s that happening?
VOGEL: Legacy as well.
HENDERSON: Yes, legacy. And he`s out there sort of singing the
MATTHEWS: Nia, I think that`s too cute.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s too cut by him.
MCMAHON: I think there may be some truth to that.
MATTHEWS: He thinks he can circle back and get Clinton loyalists.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. The roundtable is coming back. I think
you`re either loyalist or you`re not, and why the midterms matter. We`re
going to get to the stakes coming up now.
Enough of the horse race, we`re going to the stakes. If you`re a
Democrat or progressive, this is what you want to hear. If you`re a
Republican, you want to hear it, too. What`s this fight about?
We`ll be right back. It`s about the subpoena power, that`s what it`s
MATTHEWS: We`ll look on who`s going to get control of the Senate? We
don`t know as of now. Looks like Republicans are able to do it. We`ll see
if they can pull it off.
But heading into the 2016 presidential election, key governors` races
in the swing states will be critical, we`ll be showing the biggest contest
But here`s a tease, look at where things stand right now in the
First, in my home state of Pennsylvania, where Democrat Tom Wolf looks
strong against incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett in a new
Quinnipiac Poll. It`s Wolf, 55, Corbett, 38. First time a Republican --
any governor has ever lost in Pennsylvania. Anyway, they don`t get
In Michigan, a new Detroit News poll has incumbent Republican Rick
Snyder eight points over Democrat Mark Schauer. It`s Snyder, 45, Schauer,
Wisconsin, look at this one, the most recent Marquette University poll
shows Republican Scott Walker holding a thin, slim vote over Democrat Mary
Burke. It`s Walker 50, Burke, 45. First Lady Michelle Obama is in
Wisconsin right now, campaigning for Mary Burke.
And tomorrow, as I said, we`ll be highlighting some of the hottest
And right now on HARDBALL, we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Just a few minutes left. I`m joined right now by a roundtable, Ken
Vogel, Nia-Malika Henderson and Steve McMahon.
It seems to me that the big thing you get if you`re the Republicans
and take over the Senate, you get the subpoena power, the ability to call
witnesses under oath, demand they testify. That`s when they went after
Reagan in Iran Contra, which brought Nixon down, it`s what caused Bill
Clinton to be impeached. If you get that power, you got power.
VOGEL: And you control the agenda and you control --
MATTHEWS: And McCain will be head of the investigating subcommittee
if they win, McCain.
VOGEL: And you control it not just in the ability to give Obama a
hard time, you really have to look at Clinton. I think that`s -- you know,
you kid (ph) with Nia --
MATTHEWS: You go after Benghazi for the hundredth time.
HENDERSON: Yes, you can. I think the big question for Republicans
will be, are they going to want to re-litigate Obama`s tenure?
HENDERSON: Or are they going to want to think about 2016.
MCMAHON: Over and over. On the House side, you got Darrell Issa
having his investigations on a weekly basis. It`s like the clown show over
there. But they don`t really get covered. The Senate gets covered. When
the permanent subcommittee --
MATTHEWS: McCain will get covered.
MCMAHON: McCain will get covered. If they do Benghazi, McCain was
after it, it`s going to be news.
VOGEL: That will a problem, I think it could be a problem.
MATTHEWS: What about these other things? I don`t want to be cynical,
but what`s the difference between McConnell running the Senate with 52
votes and Harry Reid winning it at 52 votes? Nothing gets 60.
VOGEL: Functionally, the same. McConnell will have some symbolic
MATTHEWS: Keystone Pipeline.
VOGEL: Yes, stuff like that, where you need Obama ultimately, but
there will be able to make their point.
MATTHEWS: Obama says it will be a different debate, at least.
MCMAHON: There will. The House will pass things and then the
Republican Senate will pass things. He`ll negotiate over a signature. He
might have some ability antibiotic to move some things.
HENDERSON: I mean, that`s one of the theories, you know, if the
Republicans control both houses, maybe they`ll be able to get some stuff
done because if you look at the history of this split, you know, split
MATTHEWS: I have your eye contact, Nia.
HENDERSON: You do. You got my contact here.
MATTHEWS: I want to have some fun with you.
Which senator who losses of the Democrats will the president miss
MATTHEWS: Miss hanging around with? Miss spending time with, playing
HENDERSON: Yes, they don`t miss sometime.
MATTHEWS: You know what point I`m making, don`t you? He doesn`t hang
out with any of them.
HENDERSON: With both guys anyway, from either party, so, yes.
MATTHEWS: Who is he going to miss socially?
VOGEL: I don`t know. I take your point. But I do think Republicans
do have to be careful in going too aggressively if they take the Senate
after Obama, after Clinton, using subpoena power because then they will own
MATTHEWS: You can predict. You can predict. Can you predict?
VOGEL: Probably not.
MATTHEWS: I think, you know, Steve, I think it`s right on the nail
right now. I think if they had to vote right now, they`d get it with one
vote. They`d win in Iowa and win the thing.
But I`m not sure which way the wind is blowing and I do think the
Democrats, the good ones, the smart campaigners are going to earn their
seats in the next four weeks.
MATTHEWS: Like I think, if Mary Landrieu comes back, if she brought
her back, it`s not anybody else, she has to do it herself.
MCMAHON: That`s true of all of these people. In these tough states,
these are Democrats who have run there and won there before. They have the
ability to do it. I think the Republicans have been really set back by Pat
Roberts in Kansas. He`s now 10 points --
MATTHEWS: They`ve got to win seven now.
MCMAHON: They`ve got to win seven. It`s a lot harder --
MATTHEWSD: And, by the way, this guy in Kansas, I don`t know who I`m
going to join with, that`s a little flaky, brother. OK, thank you. Make
up your mind.
Anyway, Ken Vogel, thank you. Nia-Malika Henderson, Steve McMahon.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a publication in paperback today
of "Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked". It`s on the shelves right
now and gives you a real look at what it was like for me to work for the
country`s top liberal. Speaker of the House Tip O`Neill and our daily
battle with the country`s top conservative, President Ronald Reagan.
I was lucky, really fortunate to have spent a career on the political
inside, right with the two forces in American politics meet head on, where
the left meets the right and either something good happens or nothing
Back then on a surprising number of occasions, something good happen.
We saved Social Security. We reformed the tax system. We plugged the
loopholes. We cut the rates and, yes, ended the Cold War. It all worked
although we rarely stopped fighting the good fight and neither did the
But when we did, we found a way, we got good things done for the
country. It was OK. I`ll say it, rousing, passionate and often noisy
politics at its best.
I wish Boehner would read this book. I wish McConnell and Reid would
read it. I wish the president would read, because it`s a handbook, an
operator`s manual in making democracy work, making this government work.
Something it hasn`t been doing. It`s the reason why voters, except for the
haters out there, who just love government shutdowns and all of this
failure to get something done aren`t all that excited about the elections
coming up. Why vote if it doesn`t get anything done.
The fact is, in my book tells this story. It can. I know it can. I
was right there when it did, right there where left met right, and good
things got done.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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