Date: November 21, 2014
Guest: Jon Ralston, Leslie Sanchez, Gerry Parsky, Matthew Littman, Karen
Bass, Ted Johnson, Gerry Parsky
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Obama bets the ranch.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles.
You could see it in his face today, the president has his gung-ho
back. He`s smiling the radiant smile of a fellow who`s watching his horse
racing out front for the finish line. He`s doing what Bill Clinton the
other day told him to do, have fun. He even acted as a kind of national
cheerleader today in Las Vegas. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When members of
Congress question my authority to make our immigration system work better,
I have a simple answer. Pass a bill.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Pass a bill.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Pass a bill. Nobody is stopping them from passing a bill.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Pass a bill!
AUDIENCE: Pass a bill! Pass a bill! Pass a bill!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You heard the message, pass a bill. And you know how he
knows he`s done the right thing on immigration? He`s got the Clintons,
both of them, Bill and Hillary, the once and could be future president,
betting on him. Both have jumped out fast in supporting his decision to
give relief to over four million people in this country without legal
And that tells you a lot more than any poll, any editorial, anyone
outside the arena can tell you, because no one has more riding on this
Democrat`s success the next couple of years than the Clintons. And if they
think Obama`s on the right track, it explains why the president looked
today like he`s doubling down.
Now, the big question is whether the Republicans have the same savvy
and decide that now that the Democrats are doing the part of the
immigration reform they didn`t want to do, it`s a great time for them to do
what their party says they want to do, turn this executive order into a law
they`re proud to enforce.
Jon Ralston is host of "Ralston Reports" at NBC in Las Vegas, and
Leslie Sanchez is a Republican strategist and former White House adviser to
President George W. Bush, who was for immigration reform.
Let me go right now to Jon. You were there in the arena today. What
impressed me most is that Obama seems happy. Now, that may seem
superficial to some people, but he hasn`t looked so happy lately. And I
got the feeling today that he`s out there and he thinks he`s got a winning
hand in Vegas. Your thoughts.
JON RALSTON, "RALSTON REPORTS": I think you`re exactly right, Chris.
I mean, inside that gym -- and it was a packed gym, people were lining up
three hours beforehand, they were so enthusiastic to be there for what they
saw was history. And he was doing what Obama likes to do, or used to like
to do, at least, Chris, and that was feed off the crowd`s enthusiasm,
deliver the lines -- We didn`t build the Statue of Liberty with her back to
the world. People loved it.
But this was essentially the same speech he gave last night, but with
some rhetorical flourishes. But he was a joyous warrior again. I think
you`re absolutely right. And he is feeding off this. And I do think --
and you mentioned the Republicans` savvy, Chris. I think he`s -- thinks
he`s laying a political trap for the Republicans. They can talk all they
want, but going into 2016, if they don`t figure out a way not to completely
alienate the Hispanic demographic again that the Democrats are now trying
to get back after somewhat losing it before the 2014 election, I think they
could be in trouble.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go right to Leslie Sanchez. You`re thinking
about this, because I want to give awe I shot here. My argument will be
all night tonight the Republicans do have an opening here. They can spend
all this time now, when they`re away on vacation, yapping about how mad
they are and how they`re going to get even. Or they can say, You know
what? This has always been a difficult compromise. The president
basically gave away what he wanted to do, relief to people here illegally,
for more than four million people.
Republicans always wanted more enforcement. I would like to think
they wanted really to stop the magnet of illegal hiring, although I`ve
never fully trusted them on that, all right? Isn`t it time for them to
build something that is a real -- a real immigration bill, like the
president says, pass a bill?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I agree. I think there`s
many conservatives, and certainly independent conservatives, who`ve been
crying out in the wilderness for this to happen for a very long time.
We`ve seen a lot of Republicans pass comprehensive -- or well, immigration
reform going back to `86. And I think, if anything, the speech was -- was
-- hearkens very much to Grant Park. This was a very important speech...
MATTHEWS: Yes, like when he got elected.
SANCHEZ: Absolutely. I mean, it was that important in the magnitude
of it. It does place Republicans in an acrimonious position.
SANCHEZ: There`s no doubt about that. So the difference between...
MATTHEWS: Well, there are some good people in your party, the
Republican Party, I should say, who were out there speaking -- well, like
my -- the guy I do like in the Republican Party among many, or several, is
John Kasich of Ohio, who says this could be the thing to go with.
Anyway, this morning, Speaker John Boehner told reporters Republicans
in Congress will take action to counter the president`s immigration
actions, but he didn`t -- he didn`t spell out exactly what he was going to
do. This is now wrong-footed they`re caught. They`re going to vacation
for a week or so, and they don`t have any unity or plan.
Let`s watch Speaker Boehner do his best here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: With his action, the
president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting
bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek. And as I told the president
yesterday, he`s damaging the presidency itself. We will not stand idle as
the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jon, it was interesting today that he brought the whole
traveling troupe of Democrats with him. I noticed Harry Reid was there
from your state of Nevada, but he also brought the Democratic leader of the
House, Nancy Pelosi, and a bunch of other folks. This is a major event.
And I`m wondering, did you get a sense in the crowd that this is what
-- who was there? Was it adults and also kids? I mean, who was -- who was
the breakup (ph)? You couldn`t see it from television. Who was in that
RALSTON: Yes, it was a mixed crowd, Chris. There were a lot of young
people there. The Culinary Union, which you may remember is made up of
about half Hispanics and represents 88 different countries, 14 percent
Asian, had about 50 people who were there. That was the first union in the
country -- in the country -- to endorse Obama back in 2008. There were a
lot of young Hispanic activists there, and there were a lot of politicians,
as you mentioned.
You know, the person who might have gotten the loudest round of
applause at the beginning when he walked in was Luis Gutierrez, who you
know has been a big...
RALSTON: ... pusher of immigration reform. But this clearly is a big
Democratic push. I think they sense an opening here, after the disaster of
a couple of weeks ago, to turn the tables, to turn the ship around.
You know, John Boehner and others can bring up how Obama`s an emperor,
the imperial presidency, and parse what he did versus what Bush 41 and what
Reagan did, but people aren`t listening to that. They`re much more
interested in the human stories of a woman like Astrid Silva and her
father, whom Obama appropriated from Harry Reid, who, as you mentioned, was
there, not coincidentally, essentially the unofficial kickoff of his
reelection campaign, where he needs Hispanics to win because he`s not going
to have the gift that you remember very well, Chris, of Sharron Angle again
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about turkey (ph). Let`s talk about the people
on the streets of Vegas now in Clark (ph) County, without naming names of
casinos or anything like that that might get you in trouble. When I look
at the people, a lot of Hispanic workers out there, working the big
restaurants, working in the hotels, working all over the street, everywhere
out there, on the strip -- how many of them are going to benefit from this
personally, what the president did today? How many people are living in
the shadows, even though they go to work every morning are not on the
RALSTON: There are some, of course, Chris, and it`s very difficult to
quantify that. And you will have some casino owners talk about this issue.
You know, what`s interesting is that Sheldon Adelson, who as you know is a
very right-wing Republican big conservative mega-donor is very much an
advocate of immigration reform, partly for the reasons, I think, that
you`re alluding to, as is a guy like Jim Mirren (ph), who`s the head of MGM
So they understand this issue has a real-world impact on their
business, as well as believing that it`s got to happen or it`s going to be
a problem politically for both parties.
MATTHEWS: And do they really want to stop illegal immigration, or do
they just want relief for people here illegally? I mean, do they want the
whole shebang, the whole comprehensive bill that everybody says they want?
Are they serious? They don`t want cheap illegal labor, people like
RALSTON: I can`t answer that directly, Chris, of course, because
they`d never say that, We just want cheap illegal labor.
MATTHEWS: Of course not.
RALSTON: But of course that`s -- that has played (ph) much more here,
not so much in the gaming industry, it`s been exaggerated. But remember
when Las Vegas was the fastest growing city in the country for decades.
The construction industry here...
RALSTON: They loved the cheap illegal labor. Then the construction
boom ended and the bottom fell out of the construction market here. That
dynamic has changed. I think it`s much more significant in that industry
here than it ever has been in the gaming industry.
MATTHEWS: Leslie, what`s the view on the Republican side? Are they
serious about stopping illegal immigration, which is being -- stop the
magnet of illegal jobs? That`s why people come here, not for welfare.
SANCHEZ: Yes, I think there`s a -- there...
MATTHEWS: They come to get a cheap job. They hear there`s a job in
Chicago or Vegas. They got a cousin who gets them in the door. It`s off
the books. That`s what goes on, I assume.
And the question is, they`re going to get relief, but are they going
to -- are we going to end -- are we ever going to have a comprehensive bill
that says, No, the way to have an immigration bill is the one you`re proud
to enforce. Stop this game. Bring people in as guest workers (INAUDIBLE)
in the flow (ph), we can hire them and put them into -- assimilate them
into our society, and make it legal so everybody`s on the books, everybody
pays Social Security, everybody pays taxes, and everybody can educate their
kids and actually get in the car and drive it legally.
MATTHEWS: That would be the ideal way to have immigration work in
this country! Just a thought.
SANCHEZ: Yes, well, I don`t know, if you have a choice between being
illegal or legal, I think people are going to pick the legal path, and
there`s no doubt about -- about that.
You know, Jon said some really interesting things when you`re talking
about Nevada. Don`t forget Nevada was the one that put life back into
Hillary Clinton`s campaign...
MATTHEWS: She beat Obama.
SANCHEZ: ... in the 2008, and it was the culinary unions that made
this split, this divisive split towards Hillary Clinton. Latino...
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. I thought when Hillary Clinton won the battle
of Nevada -- I was out there that night at the primary or the caucus...
SANCHEZ: Yes, the caucus.
MATTHEWS: ... I thought she had beaten Obama, she was going to beat
SANCHEZ: Well, yes, and...
MATTHEWS: She had mo-mo (ph).
SANCHEZ: And she had mo-mo and it was Latino Culinary Union...
MATTHEWS: Yes. I created a new word. It`s called big mo. I`m
SANCHEZ: Whatever that word was!
MATTHEWS: As expected, the response from the right wing has been
ferocious. Let`s watch the usual suspects from the clown car. Here they
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: All I heard was contempt for
the American people, as though he thought we were so stupid that somehow,
he could say that his illegal actions were legal and we would all turn over
and roll over and believe it. It`s not true.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: This president has come in and said,
You know what? For political gain, I`m going to give five million people
the authority to work here. Even though that`s illegal, I`m going to do
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This man dictates by his pen and his phone.
What shall we, who are the Senate, tolerate President Obama, openly
desirous to destroy the Constitution in this republic.
We the Senate are waiting in our duty to stop this lawless
administration and its unconstitutional amnesty.
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Now he`s set to go
around Congress to legalize millions of illegal aliens! He`s giving voters
the middle finger. He`s rejecting our democratic system. He`s turning it
into the Democrat system -- big D, Democrat system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What can I say, except to just pay attention to what you
just heard. By the way, Louie Gohmert`s one of those guys that has said
over and over again the president`s an illegal immigrant. He comes from
Africa without papers. So you just put that in perspective when you look
at Gohmert in action (ph).
Anyway, earlier this week, U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama
suggested the president should be thrown in jail for his actions.
According to Slate, he said, quote, "At some point, you have to evaluate
whether the president`s conduct aids and abets, encourages or entices
foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America. And that
has a five year in jail penalty associated with it."
Anyway, today Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas -- Texas seems to be
the problem area here -- accused the president of waging war on the
American people. In a statement, he said -- he quoted -- here he is (ph)
written (ph) -- "Some have said that the actions he is taking this week
equal a declaration of war on Republicans. I believe he`s actually
declaring war on the American people and our democracy."
Boy, these are Armageddon terms. So what`s next after you talk
MATTHEWS: How do you go further than the jeremiads we`re getting from
people like Ted Cruz?
SANCHEZ: There are some voices on the right and the left that are
very extreme, and I think...
MATTHEWS: Where`s the middle in the Republican Party?
SANCHEZ: There is middle ground...
MATTHEWS: Don`t they talk?
SANCHEZ: There is middle ground...
MATTHEWS: Where are they?
SANCHEZ: Conservatives are right to say this is a flawed process,
that this is not the way that the policy should be written and...
MATTHEWS: Whose fault is that? I agree it`s flawed.
MATTHEWS: I`ve been saying that for days now, but it isn`t exactly an
option for the president. He could have sat there and done nothing.
SANCHEZ: He could have done this a year ago and actually made
meaningful reform. He didn`t choose to do that.
MATTHEWS: How could he have done it a year ago?
SANCHEZ: He could have -- why didn`t he give the same speech a year
ago when he still had...
MATTHEWS: Well, how could he have gotten the Republicans to agree to
a comprehensive bill a year ago?
SANCHEZ: What he did is he forced their hand. That`s the positive...
MATTHEWS: ... go back to...
SANCHEZ: ... temporary piece of political theater.
MATTHEWS: Go back to Leslie. How could the president have done this
better a year ago?
SANCHEZ: He could have made the same speech. He still had temporary
initiatives that he put with DACA. It`s the same thing. I think he`s
MATTHEWS: How could he have gotten the Republican Houses to act?
SANCHEZ: Putting pressure on them like they`re doing right now. This
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe -- maybe he had to goose them to get anything
SANCHEZ: Oh, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I agree with all those concerns, and in the
end, he`s left with the question of doing something or doing nothing.
Anyway, thank you. By the way, I share -- I`m a little queasy about this,
but maybe it`s going to get the Republican Party to actually get something
done because nothing else was working because John Boehner is scared to
death of the right wing, for some reason I don`t get.
SANCHEZ: But we need good policy.
SANCHEZ: We need good policy...
MATTHEWS: Let Boehner be Boehner! Jon Ralston, thank you so much,
from Vegas. Thank you (INAUDIBLE) a great story there. Leslie Sanchez,
thank you, as always.
Coming up: Hillary Clinton was quick to support President Obama`s
action on immigration last night, very quick, and the Republicans who are
eyeing the White House were just as quick to criticize him. But those
Republicans, as I said, they have a choice. They can express their anger,
or they can do what the president said today in Vegas, pass a bill. Well,
except for Governor John Kasich of Ohio, most of them are choosing option
one, just to yell.
And the other big story of the night, Ferguson, Missouri is expecting
a decision from the grand jury any time now, meaning any day now. It`s
imminent, people are saying. We`ll get the latest on that fact.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the House Republicans have filed their lawsuit
against President Obama. They say the president overstepped his legal
authority in the way he implemented the Affordable Care Act. They`re still
on that baby! The suit was filed after, just hours after the president
announced he was taking executive action to protect millions of
undocumented immigrants from deportation.
House Speaker John Boehner, still fighting the old war, says the suit
is aimed at stopping the president from making his own laws, while Nancy
Pelosi says it`s about putting impeachment-hungry extremists before the
needs of the country.
We`ll be back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama`s executive
action on immigration will no doubt be a hot-button issue in the 2016
presidential race. And among the Republicans vying for that job, their
tone may vary, but the message was the same. They all slammed the
president, or most of them did, for taking action unilaterally.
The most contemptuous response, not surprisingly, came from Senator
Ted Cruz in a Facebook video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Today is a sad day in our nation`s history.
Tonight, just a few minutes ago, the president of the United States went on
national television and announced that he is defying the Constitution, he
is defying federal law, and he`s defying American people. All across this
country, Republicans campaigned saying if you elect a Republican Senate, we
will stand up and fight to stop Obama`s amnesty! So now it`s incumbent on
Republicans to stand up and lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: State-of-the-art demagoguery on Skype, apparently. Anyway,
Senator Rand Paul echoed that sentiment, saying President Obama is not
above the law and has no right to issue executive amnesty. That`s the
phrase they love now. Even former Florida governor Jeb Bush, an advocate
of immigration reform, hit hard. Quote, "President Obama has once again
put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and
sound laws required of an exceptional nation."
And so far, only one Republican I know of has had the stones -- or
since we`re talking Latin America in some cases, cojones -- to publicly
support a pathway to citizenship, Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Here`s
what he had to say Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: We got to think about what`s going to
bring about healing. Now, and my sense is I don`t like the idea of
citizenship when people jump the line. We may be -- we may have to do it.
There`s a lot of people who have gone through legally who have not jumped
the line who are bitter about this, but, at the end of the day, it may be
necessary. I`m open to it, I will tell you that. I`m open to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Fascinating discussion there.
And on the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton of course, as I
said, offered strong and immediate support for the president`s action.
In a statement she put out last night, she said: "I support the
president`s decision to begin fixing our broken immigration system and
focus finite resources on deporting felons, rather than families. Our
disagreements on this important issue may grow heated at times, but I`m
confident people of good will can yet find common ground."
Joining me now is former Joe Biden Matthew Littman and Gerry Parsky,
the former California chair of the George W. Bush campaign.
Gerry, I want you on tonight for a lot of good reasons. But one of
the big ones is, you always have been a George W. supporter, of George. He
is a guy who has supported immigrant opportunities. He`s not anti-
immigrant. His brother Jeb is married to a Mexico woman, a Mexican-
American. The kids are Latinos, basically. It`s astounding, but that
family seems to be out there all alone, until the other guy I like in your
party, John Kasich had the cojones.
And I will use that word advisedly. He said, I don`t care what
anybody else thinks. These people may have to get in line ahead of some
people who have waiting. We may have to go that far. That`s a pretty
GERRY PARSKY, FORMER BUSH-CHENEY 2004 CALIFORNIA CHAIRMAN: There are
many people in our party that believe in comprehensive immigration reform.
This was a political speech dealing with one segment of immigration.
Republicans should not overreach, should not react process-wise. They
should react with a positive policy dealing with immigration. We need to
put resources on our border to prevent more illegal immigration.
MATTHEWS: Right. What about illegal hiring?
PARSKY: There needs to be penalties for employers that hire
illegally. But we need to expand our guest-worker program.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
PARSKY: And so you need a comprehensive approach, not just a
political speech that may be temporary.
MATTHEWS: You know, when I -- I was very hesitant about the president
doing this, but since he`s done it, as Golda Meir would it, a new fact.
There`s no sense arguing whether he should have, could have, would have.
He`s done it.
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: The new fact is, we have got up to four -- a little more
than four million people now getting relief. They`re basically the parents
of the anchor children, if you will, kids born here and are citizens under
the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, and also people who are older
dreamers, people that go beyond the age of 30 whose parents brought them
MATTHEWS: So, he`s narrowing it to some extent, but this is a big
relief effort, but it doesn`t create a new immigration law that`s going to
deal with what we should have, is an organized system bringing people into
the country honestly, fairly and openly, instead of this game we have been
LITTMAN: Well, it`s interesting, because, as Gerry says, there are a
lot of -- there are Republicans who support immigration reform. But on the
other hand, they haven`t brought it up to a vote.
MATTHEWS: How come we have only heard from John Kasich in the last 24
LITTMAN: You have heard...
LITTMAN: ... from some others, by the way. Chris Christie in the
last couple of weeks, whenever he`s asked about immigration reform -- in
Iowa, he said, I won`t talk about immigration reform in Iowa.
In New Hampshire, he said, I won`t talk about immigration reform in
New Hampshire. He`s supposed to be the straight shooter of the Republican
Party and he won`t even talk about immigration reform. But the problem
MATTHEWS: The big guy from Jersey doesn`t mind telling Gail to shut
up and all those people on the phone.
LITTMAN: The straight shooter thing is ridiculous, right?
MATTHEWS: When it comes to the real right-wingers out there, he`s a
LITTMAN: Yes, that`s absolutely right. When it comes to the House...
MATTHEWS: Your name is Matthew Littman, right? He will want to know
LITTMAN: No kidding. I`m never going to New Jersey again.
LITTMAN: But he -- when it comes to the House, the issue is not that
they haven`t passed immigration reform. It`s that they don`t vote on
The speaker of the House won`t even bring it up for a vote. While we
have some reasonable points of view here about the fact that immigration
reform should happen, they`re not even allowed to vote on it.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know the Hill. It takes 218 to pass something.
Can`t he get 125, his new 250-person majority. Can`t he get 125, a small
majority, for this thing and pass the damn thing under the Hastert rule?
PARSKY: I think he can, because I think popular support for this kind
of reform is building.
And, after all, the people will determine where policy should move.
There`s no issue more pertinent or more important for the 2016 election
than immigration reform.
LITTMAN: But here`s where I disagree with Gerry. And the Republican
seats in the House, those are safe seats. Those people just do not care.
MATTHEWS: They don`t have many Latino voters.
LITTMAN: They don`t care about immigration reform.
MATTHEWS: Because of the way the district is formed.
LITTMAN: It doesn`t matter to them, right.
MATTHEWS: But senators care.
LITTMAN: Senators care.
LITTMAN: They voted for it. Marco Rubio put his stock on the line.
MATTHEWS: Hey, John McCain, Lindsey Graham.
LITTMAN: John McCain.
But in the House, they really -- a lot of these people really don`t
want it. But I will say this, Chris. In the Senate, this now Republican
Senate, if they got to a conference, it would be a better deal for the
Republicans if they pass a bill.
MATTHEWS: Does this action by the president, which was really jumping
on the galloping horse -- this was a big thing he did. He changed reality.
I will start with you, Matthew. Does this make it more likely that
the Republicans will get moving here and actually bring up a real bill in
the House, or less likely because they`re angry?
LITTMAN: Well, I hope that it`s more likely. I really do, because I
think that in the House and the Senate, the leaders of the party, in the
Republican Party, do want immigration reform.
MATTHEWS: Where`s Kevin McCarthy in this thing? He`s for reform.
PARSKY: He`s definitely for reform. I think Kevin...
MATTHEWS: He`s number three -- number two now.
PARSKY: Kevin, as most Republicans, want additional resources to
secure the border.
The problem -- one of the basic problems with this speech is that it,
to some extent, doesn`t encourage legal immigration.
MATTHEWS: I know.
PARSKY: You need to have a policy -- we`re a country of immigrants.
MATTHEWS: Well, just to be fair, the president said that this relief
he did the other day and is now going to go into effect today doesn`t make
it any safer for somebody jumping the border tomorrow night.
He says because we will be focusing more on the more recent
lawbreakers, if you will.
LITTMAN: But the Republicans have to vote for -- they have to vote
for a bill.
MATTHEWS: What`s the percentage -- not -- the percentage of Latino
vote in this state right now, general elections?
PARSKY: L.A. County is over 50 percent.
PARSKY: The entire state will be over 50 percent by...
MATTHEWS: Why can`t your -- we have talked so much about this
PARSKY: We have.
MATTHEWS: But tell me, if you can. Your party has two obstacles.
One is choice out here. Schwarzenegger was pro-choice. He got elected. I
think he was pro-choice. And then you get to this issue.
Is the other issue that is stopping you from winning government
statewide? Like, can you ever beat Boxer? Can you ever beat Feinstein?
Can you ever get a governorship?
LITTMAN: No, no to those.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me hear from the Republican.
PARSKY: Democrats think that.
MATTHEWS: Because of the immigration issue.
PARSKY: Well, the state, I believe, is slightly right of center on
most economic issues.
LITTMAN: I agree with that. I agree with that.
PARSKY: Slightly right of center.
But if you come across on some of these social issues as intolerant of
any other point of view, you`re lost. And until we get a grip, as
Republicans, on the fact that we can maintain very strong views, but we
have got to be tolerant of others...
MATTHEWS: You talk like a Northern California Republican.
PARSKY: Well, I grew up in Connecticut, but that`s OK.
LITTMAN: The other thing is, though, the Democrats have a bunch of
MATTHEWS: I know.
LITTMAN: You have Kamala Harris. You have Gavin Newsom. You have
On the Republican side, you don`t hear about who they have. If Boxer
decides not to run, Feinstein...
MATTHEWS: I heard Michelle Obama`s coming out here.
Anyway, Matthew Littman, I`m sure you will get the word first.
Gerry Parsky, thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the other big story of the night. The community
of Ferguson, Missouri, is in high alert right now, obviously, awaiting a
decision from that grand jury on that police officer who shot the African-
Anyway, the latest from Missouri when we return.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As the country awaits an announcement from that grand jury in
Ferguson, Missouri, the governor has declared a state of emergency and even
activated the National Guard. And the local school district has canceled
school next week in case of any violence or unrest.
A grand jury decision on whether to charge officer Darren Wilson in
the death of Michael Brown could come any day now. It`s really getting
According to -- to -- actually, joining me right now to tell how
imminent it is on the ground is our own Craig Melvin of MSNBC.
Craig, thank you so much.
What do you know that we need to know right now about what could
happen in the next 48 to 96 hours?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, here`s the thing, Chris
Matthews. Not a whole lot, I mean, because the fact of the matter is, the
Saint Louis County grand jury, the Saint Louis County prosecutor`s office,
rather, notoriously tight-lipped.
We don`t know whether the grand jury met today. We do know that a few
hours ago, we did get e-mail from the Saint Louis County prosecutor`s
office. And the e-mail read in part: "We are in the process of setting up
the press conference to announce the decision of the grand jury case. The
date, time, and location has not been announced yet."
This prosecutor`s office, any time you ask them about the grand jury
proceedings, they respond with pretty much the same sentence. We do not
comment on grand jury proceedings.
But you do get the sense, based on e-mails like this, that we are very
close to having that decision announced. We were told, of course, that it
was going to be mid to late November and here we are.
I spent some time today talking to a pastor, in fact the pastor of the
church that is closest to the police station where we have seen protests
over the past few nights. I talked to him. I talked to a guy that runs a
hamburger joint up the road and a guy that runs a barbershop across the
And all three of these guys are saying pretty much the same thing.
Whatever the outcome, whatever the grand jury has decided, let us know now.
Everyone here is ready to move on. Everyone here is anxious. So it`s --
you had the attorney general of the United States say with his message,
stay-calm message. The parents of Darren -- Brown, with their -- the
father with his stay-calm message.
And we heard from the mayor about two hours, had a news conference,
said that he thought there would be some type of unrest. But the pastor
today said -- he raised an interesting point. He talked about Governor
Nixon activating the National Guard. He said, you know, you have all these
folks warning of unrest and telling folks to be calm. And his question, is
that a self-fulfilling prophecy?
MELVIN: Obviously, that`s something we will see unfold in the next
few hours, but that`s the sense on the ground.
Everyone here is ready for it to be over. The protests that we have
seen over the last two nights, they have been more intense than we have
seen. Last night, we had three arrests. It was the first time we have
seen pepper spray in some time. The night before that, there were six
arrests, but, by and large, nothing like what we saw here about a hundred -
- hundred days ago.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk journalism, besides what could happen in
terms of the streets and the people out there in the community. Let`s talk
about the facts of the case.
Do we still have assurances from the district attorney out there that
they are going to release a transcript, even if they`re redacted for names,
of what the jury heard, what evidence they heard?
MELVIN: We have been given every assurance time and time again by the
prosecutor`s office that, if -- if the officer, if officer Wilson is not
indicted, they are in very short order going to set up a Web site and allow
journalists to log on, and see and read and even hear some of the audio
files. Everything that the grand jury had access to, we have been assured
that we are also going to have access to, again, assuming the officer is
MELVIN: And again -- and, Chris, we should note, that`s something
that we`re told is going to happen within hours, not days or weeks, but
within hours after a nonindictment would be announced.
I have to tell you my own personal concern. I`m a bit distanced from
that event out there and also from the passions of the people on both sides
out there, the police force and the community. But I have to tell you, I
fear they`re going to tell us what their decision was, and not give us
immediate information, so all people who really want to know what happened
on August 9, what happened, what can we try to figure out in our minds,
based on all the evidence, that open-minded grand jurors -- hopefully, they
were open-minded -- what they heard, what we see when we read all these
stuff, even pictures.
MATTHEWS: I want to know everything about this case. I was -- like
you, I probably spent two days reading every single thing. I want to know
And I think the public will benefit from that transparency.
But your reporting has been great, Craig. And stay awake. It`s look
like it`s going to be a long night. You said hours. My God, it could be
tonight? Could it be tonight?
MELVIN: Yes, you know what? Hey, we -- it could be. But, again, our
thinking at this point is that it would probably be during at least
daylight hours, we would assume.
Thank -- thanks so much, Craig Melvin for NBC and MSNBC out there in
MELVIN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: When we come back, our roundtable joins us to talk about
what we just heard from Craig out in Ferguson and what can be done to get
clarity in what happened on that day and the death. How did it happen?
How did Michael Brown end up dead?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
Residents in Western New York are digging out from two back-to-back
lake-effect storms that dropped a record seven feet of snow in some areas.
The weather is blamed for at least 12 days.
Secretary of State John Kerry has changed his plans and will stay in
Vienna to continue nuclear talks with Iran, raising hopes for a deal on the
country`s nuclear program.
And the U.N. says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to
worsen. Nearly 5,500 people have died. The virus has now spread to Mali -
- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Now more on the soon-to-be decided grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri.
Attorney General Eric Holder has taken on the role of peacemaker
during this crisis. He visited with local officials and activist this
summer, when riots plagued that community. There is concern about more
coming and worse perhaps.
Today, Attorney General Holder delivered an impassioned plea for
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Peaceful protest has been a hallmark
and a legacy of past movements for change. From patriotic women who
demanded access to the franchise, to the civil rights pioneers who marched
for equal rights and equal justice. Americans exercising their first
amendment right to free assembly should look to those examples as they work
to bring about real and lasting change for themselves and for future
Now, of course I recognize that progress will not come easily. And
long simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight. These struggles go
to the heart of who we are, and who we aspire to be, both as a nation and
as a people. And it is clear that we have a great deal of important work
still to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a great attorney general.
The roundtable tonight -- joins us, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass.
She`s a Democrat from California, from the neighborhood here.
And Ted Johnson, senior editor at "Variety", which is the show
business mag -- actually, it`s a daily.
And Gerry Parsky, he was chairman of the George W. Bush presidential
campaign in California. More importantly, a good friend of mine. That`s
why he`s here, but he knows his stuff and he`s a moderate Republican.
We don`t have enough of you, guys.
Anyway, Congresswoman, I shouldn`t be laughing, that this weekend
could present anything. Do you have a message, what is it to people?
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, the same message as Attorney
General Holder, which is peace. And I`m hoping that regardless of what the
decision is, is that the people in Ferguson will understand that this is
going to be a long struggle. And so, peaceful protest, and, you know,
we`re concerned in Los Angeles as well. I`m having a press conference
tomorrow with the president of the city council because I was here when the
Rodney King verdicts happened. And I know what that destruction brings
We still have vacant lots in Los Angeles from 1992. I don`t want to
see that happen in Ferguson.
MATTHEWS: Yes. What do you think?
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY: Well, it`s interesting. I think the more --
MATTHEWS: How is this going to play out, do you think? Do you think
they`ve got the ability, the finesse, if he`s not indicted, Officer Darren
Wilson? That`s the trouble, if he`s not indicted. Do you think they have
the ability based upon their performance so far to explain why not, the
grand jury, maybe a couple coming forward, explaining why they didn`t act,
they think the guy was justified, if that`s what they decide -- explain it
so that people who are listening, may not go with it, but at least hear the
JOHNSON: I actually think the more disclosure, the better. As you
were talking about earlier in the show, it`s -- they`ve got to release what
evidence were they seeing? What were they looking at? How did they come
to that decision?
I mean, it`s a little difficult because grand juries usually don`t do
that. There`s usually at least a delay when they release any of that
information. I think the quicker they get that information out there, the
more it will actually diffuse the situation.
MATTHEWS: Gerry, there`s a couple -- we`ve got have all these leaks,
of course, and some of them may come from the prosecutor. We don`t know
where they`re coming from. But seven African-American witnesses said the
guy had his hands in the air. Six African-Americans said he didn`t.
What do you do with that information? You`re sitting on a jury. Do
you go 7-6, do you go, too close to call, do you go reasonable doubt? I
mean, how do you deal with that fact?
GERRY PARSKY, BUSH CAMPAIGN CALIFORNIA CHAIR: Well, first, I`m not a
fan of when lawyers should be speaking out. But in this case, once a
decision is made, I think there`s a responsibility for the legal community,
leadership in the legal community to speak out and explain the process,
because we`re a country of laws. And if those laws are adhered to and due
process is given, the legal community of all different persuasions should
MATTHEWS: What do you do when you have a jury with only three
minorities on it and it`s fraught with racial aspects?
BASS: Well, there`s that and there`s also the question of the
prosecutor, which people don`t trust because of what his particular history
has been. And so --
MATTHEWS: Yes, his father was killed by an African American.
Especially, he might have an attitude, right.
BASS: Right, and he wouldn`t step aside. And then there`s the
general governance in Ferguson as well. I mean, 67 percent African
MATTHEWS: But who would he step aside for? That is a tricky
question. Who would he say would be -- you`re almost having, I don`t want
to get in this case. I said I`m not getting into this case.
MATTHEWS: I`m not getting in. I`ll pull back.
BASS: Sixty-seven percent African American in Ferguson and very
little African-American leadership.
BASS: Five African-Americans.
MATTHEWS: Can I give a speech? Vote.
BASS: No, I`m with you.
MATTHEWS: I know you are, because you got elected. That`s what it`s
about. Get elected.
BASS: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, these police forces --
BASS: Five police officers.
MATTHEWS: I know in Philly and places like New York, you have a lot
of people, families, join the police force, they apply early, they come out
of high school, they apply, the tradition of applying. Why aren`t there
more African American police officers? It`s an honorable profession,
especially good if you come from the community.
BASS: Well, we did have that problem in Los Angeles. And, you know,
L.A. was, you had a lot of problems that was nationally known. We were
able to turn things around. One of the things that happened was the
diversification of the police force.
MATTHEWS: How do you do that?
BASS: We had a police chief that used to go to Mississippi and
MATTHEWS: I know. We all know that story and it was all played out
in the O.J. Simpson trial. But how did you fix it?
BASS: Well, we had a police chief that was interested in community-
BASS: Yes, Bratton. He also went to the community and paid a lot of
MATTHEWS: Did he recruit?
And so, if you look at LAPD now, there`s no problems there.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to this other question here, this immigration
thing. In California, immigration, it used to be a Spanish colony out
here, right, way back when. I grew up with Zorro, you know, I know all
this. It`s got a long history of Spanish names. Everything`s named in
Spanish, you know? Right?
PARSKY: Blocks away from this.
MATTHEWS: What does California know -- you`re California, everybody`s
California here. You`re former Connecticut.
What does California know about racial relations with people, some of
whom have legal documentation, and some don`t? And how`s it going to --
how do you build a community based upon on that mixed history?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I think what happened in California,
there`s all of this expectation that it`s going to happen in the rest of
the country, after Prop 187 passed in 1994, it really kind of blew up in
the face of the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Don`t get too nasty with immigrants, that was the message.
JOHNSON: That was the message.
MATTHEWS: He taught me that. Gerry said don`t do that. You know who
else told me? John McCain, because the Republicans lost Arizona in 1996.
BASS: What about Pete Wilson, what did he do?
PARSKY: Well, but, you know, when you think about California, 50
percent of Los Angeles County is now Hispanic. By 2020, 2022, the state
will be. The demographics of California have changed.
PARSKY: Yes, children. But the most important thing is, California
is like the country. They believe in legal immigration. They`re for legal
MATTHEWS: I`ve seen the stats among the Hispanic community. Very,
very surprisingly strong support for toughness.
BASS: And also, California is diverse in other areas as well. I
mean, the Asian population is one of the fastest immigrant growing
populations. We also --
MATTHEWS: Who`s grabbing them politically?
BASS: Who`s grabbing them? Actually, it`s a mixed bag --
MATTHEWS: Vietnamese are Republicans, right?
BASS: Vietnamese are.
However, if you look at the presidential elections, Asians
overwhelmingly supported Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
PARSKY: The entire community would be that way.
MATTHEWS: We got to go.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got to keep fighting for the people.
The roundtable is coming back to talk about Hollywood`s obsession with
Washington these days. We`ve got an expert here from "Variety". Why is it
so uncool to make a movie or TV show about politicians five years ago?
Now, it`s the hottest thing in the world. It`s like cowboy movies used to
be on television, like "Gunsmoke."
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the reason I`m out here in Los Angeles among others,
is I`m going to be on the final edition tonight of "Real Time with Bill
Maher". It`s going to be great. I`ll be on there with John Cleese,
Chrystia Freeland, Roland Martin, of course, and also Seth Rogen. So, be
sure to catch that show tonight on HBO.
HARDBALL will be back in a minute with the rest of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
One heartbeat away from the president and not a single vote cast in my
name. Democracy is so over-rated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.
That, of course, was Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in the hit
Netflix series, "House of Cards."
"House of Cards" is just one of the remarkable number of TV and
streaming videos that are set in Washington, D.C., or have political
themes. Catch them (ph), "Scandal", "Madam Secretary", "Good Wife",
"Homeland" are just a few. I`m a fan of most of them, I even had a cameo
in "House of Cards".
I`m back down with the roundtable, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass.
First things, Ted Johnson, and my friend, Gerry Parsky.
Ted, what`s going on? Why is Hollywood hot than it was before, why is
Hollywood hot for Washington?
JOHNSON: Yes, it used to be you wouldn`t touch politics with a 10-
foot poll. And now, not only do --
MATTHEWS: Now the ratings for politicians --
MATTHEWS: Is that it?
JOHNSON: No, no.
It`s funny. I ask show creators. I asked Garry Trudeau who did
"Alpha House". Why is it? He said, "I have no idea." I asked John
Lovett. He`s the White House speechwriter, now a producer. He came out
here and did "1600 Penn", he`s working on another show about politics for
Showtime right now.
MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin says 1400.
MATTHEWS: So, you remember Congress. You`re the heart of this
matter. And you represent L.A., which is out here. We make all of these
movies. What`s going on?
BASS: And I want you to know that everybody in Congress watches them.
MATTHEWS: Does anybody ever come up to you and say to you, is it
really as bad as "House of Cards"?
BASS: Absolutely, they do. And you know what I say? I say in their
MATTHEWS: The young woman from the newspaper under the tracks. He
takes the other congressmen from South Philly and he rigs the exhaust pipe
of the car that kill `em.
BASS: So, it has murder, sex, everything everybody likes.
PARSKY: There`s a long standing tie between Washington and Hollywood.
Democrats and Republicans come out to Hollywood to raise money.
PARSKY: Hollywood looks at what`s relevant today. I called a friend
of mine, Jerry Weintraub.
MATTHEWS: He held a party for my book.
PARKSY: And I said (AUDIO GAP) HBO series about the U.S. government
and the Pakistani government. I said you`re doing what? He said, yes, I`m
doing this. I said after all these movies you made, why are you doing
this? He said because it`s relevant and it`s what the people want to
And so, it becomes, in one sense, Hollywood brings Washington reality
to bear. A little bit of satire, a lot of exaggeration.
MATTHEWS: But they`re about three months behind, in most -- or even
more imminent. They take into this headline. They created a story and
then they novelize it into a story and then, all of the sudden, you`re
watching it again.
JOHNSON: Yes, I like "State of Affairs" which just debuted the other
MATTHEWS: All of these shows you see that, except for Frank
Underwood, who`s a snake for women.
JOHNSON: I actually think what it took was a lot of new distribution
outlets that took, the Netflixes, the Amazons, cable channels getting into
original programming, to take a chance on this and kind of breakthrough.
MATTHEWS: We do (INAUDIBLE) stuff in here, by the way. We did a
cosmology. We just want to know why we`re not watching "Bonanza" anymore.
Anyway, thank you. "Bonanza", by the way, knocked off Ronald Reagan.
Anyway, thank you, Ted Johnson. Thank you, Congresswoman Karen Bass
from out here, and Gerry Parsky from out here.
When we return, let me finish with the president`s call today for
Republicans to pass a bill.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
Pass a bill -- I couldn`t agree more, and I totally agree with the
president`s call to the Republicans today. Don`t sit around and mope.
Don`t try stopping the government, don`t talk impeachment, don`t listen to
the demagogues. Get to work and pass a bill.
My argument is political. My question is: why not?
If you can`t reverse what the president did today, do him one better.
Pass a comprehensive immigration bill that does what a comprehensive bill
is supposed to do. Tighten the border, get serious about stopping illegal
hiring, kill the magnet of cheaper, illegal jobs that draw people across
the border, and give hope and a path to citizenship for those who are here
in the U.S. building their lives.
I am not a Pollyanna. I know the politics. I know there are votes in
being tough on illegal immigration.
I also know that to be a presidential party, one capable of winning
nationally, you can`t spot the other party in the entire voting group. You
can`t say to the Latinos, buzz off. You can`t ask them to self deport.
All I can ask is to pass a bill that you are proud to enforce, an
immigration bill that truly regulates immigration.
Every country in the world has a sovereign right to set a policy, and
who comes into the country, why they come in and how long they stay.
So, Mr. and Mrs. Republican, take that sovereign right and pass a bill
that you are proud to enforce. Just do it. Pass a bill.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS" starts right now.
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