updated 2/3/2015 10:18:26 AM ET 2015-02-03T15:18:26

Date: January 30, 2015
Guest: Mayor Marty Walsh, Sally Jenkins, Mayor Ed Murray

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Raising Arizona.

Let`s play HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out here in Phoenix,
Arizona, with a special Super Bowl HARDBALL.

Today`s big political news, and it is huge -- Mitt Romney`s not
running for president. He broke the news himself on a conference call
today to his money people.


considerable thought into making another run for president, I`ve decided
it`s best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our
next nominee.


MATTHEWS: Well, Romney couldn`t resist taking a hard jab at Jeb Bush.
We`ll get to that in a moment.

We`re joined right now by the moderator of "MEET THE PRESS," Chuck
Todd. Chuck, a couple days of ago, it was all about how Romney`s going to
run different this time. He`s going back to Utah. He`s going to emphasize
his Mormon roots. His family`s aboard. Ann Romney`s aboard. He`s going
all out to run a real tough campaign. And then -- gone. What happened?

Mitt Romney made this decision, meaning that I think his heart was wanting
to run for quite some time. And I think in many ways, he realized that the
second Jeb Bush announced last December that he was serious about running
and was getting into this thing. Suddenly, Romney realized, Wait a minute.
I still want this, and he`s about to close my -- close the window here if I
don`t try to -- try to flirt (ph) and get into this race.

So I think his heart was always in it, but I think he did a sober --
you can`t help it, if -- if somebody, or maybe himself -- the next six
months, if he had decided to run, were going to be torture for Mitt Romney
because every day would have been a story about somebody that was with
Romney before signing up with somebody else.

And his poll numbers would have eroded. It looks good now, but as
voters started kicking the tires on other candidates, there would have --
we would have talked about story after story. And you know the way the
media world works now -- Oh, my God, Mitt Romney`s collapsing in the polls!

And was he willing to go through what would have been six months of
torture before he bottomed out, and then had to start rising up and
fighting again? And I think he made the Bain Capital cold-hearted
businessman decision, looked at the analytics and said no.

MATTHEWS: Well, why doesn`t the dog food (sic) like the dog food?
Why didn`t the dog like the dog food? I mean, nice label on it. He looks
good. He ran a close race. Why don`t the Republican regulars, the
backroom boys and girls, now women -- why don`t they like him? Because it
seems like they have rejected him.

TODD: Well, I think that is -- you know, it`s funny. I talked to a
few Romney folks, and some of them, the real loyalists, they said today
felt like they lost again. It felt like a little bit like a punch in the
gut. And I think it goes to -- look, you always felt that there was a big
part of the Republican Party that never fell in love with Mitt Romney.
They sort of -- they liked him. They respected him. They certainly
thought he was a good family man. But they never fell in love. There was
not a -- there was always a missing passion.

And I think many of these -- you could categorize them as the wise men
and women of the party, or also some of the base conservatives -- you know,
he never -- he never knew how to win a room and win them over. He knew how
to win over boardrooms, and he did well there on the financial front and
the big donors, but sort of rank-and-file Republicans, they never fell in
love with him. And I think it was just a -- it was always just a lack of
personal chemistry.

yes, I think the flip-flops hurt him a little bit. You know, what was
he today, the real Mitt Romney, conservative Mitt Romney, moderate Mitt
Romney? That didn`t help. But I think it was just -- it was just
something -- he never personally connected with the rank-and-file

MATTHEWS: So even though he was the nominee last time, it was more
like they ended up with him, like, you know, you never go to Denny`s, the
restaurant, but you end up there.

TODD: Right. It wasn`t a plan (ph).

MATTHEWS: They just ended up there because they couldn`t imagine --
well, they couldn`t put Rick Santorum out there and they couldn`t put Newt
Romney (sic) out there. He`s like Mephistopheles. They had to put
somebody out there who could possibly win. He was their only guy.

Let`s talk about who wins now. Who`s left in the -- in the -- I would
call it the eastern conference, the moderate Republicans. Is this good for
Christie, good for Jeb, good for Scott Walker? Who`s the big winner with
this drop-out?

TODD: I think the big two winners are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. I
think Jeb`s a big winner because, you know, on the donor front, he was
going head to head with Romney on a lot of donors. And I think now there`s
some people that wanted to be with Jeb but were keeping their powder dry.

Look, I think Jeb could become a fund-raising juggernaut. Now, that -
- he may not be able to raise enough money to overcome some conservative
issues, but it doesn`t matter. He`s going to raise a lot of money.

I think Scott Walker -- I think this is a big moment for him. I think
there are some big -- you know, on the money front and the staffer front,
when you look around at the non-Washington, non-establishment candidates,
Walker feels like the one guy that can bridge the gap between the base and
the establishment.

This is a moment for him. I think a lot of donors are going to
basically want to take -- take the -- take the test. They want to take the
Scott Walker car for a test drive. So it`s an opportunity for him big-

And then for Christie, it`s a lifeline. I think he had no shot at all
at raising some decent money with both Romney and Bush in. With Romney
out, it`s a lifeline with some of that New York Wall Street money. I don`t
know if he can raise enough, but it is a lifeline.

MATTHEWS: Especially if he ends up with a peeing match of some kind
with Bridget Kelly and the law firm. We don`t know what`s going to happen
with the courts.

Anyway, Mitt Romney today took a nasty jab at Jeb Bush...

TODD: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... when he talked about who he thinks right now, as of
today, the 2016 Republican candidate ought to be, if it`s not going to be
him. Catch this.


ROMNEY: I believe that one of our next generation of Republican
leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not
yet taken their message across the country, one who`s just getting started,
may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In
fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.


MATTHEWS: Well, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, as you just
suggested, took that as a forward pass to him.

TODD: Yes, he did.

MATTHEWS: Here`s what he said afterwards about that nice comment,
"next generation of Republican leaders." Here`s Scott Walker`s tweet.
"Had a great conversation with Mitt Romney. He`s a good man. Thanked him
for his interest in opening the door for fresh leadership in America."

Well, that`s the way they talk. Now, I was looking at the ages,
Chuck. Walker`s 47, Christie`s 52, and Jeb`s 61. There`s not a huge
generational gap among those three guys, but your -- the way that Mitt`s
trying to play it, he`s creating a sort of an ascendancy down to -- to
Scott, Scott Walker.

TODD: I think that`s right. Look, this is maybe as much about Jeb.
There is -- some Romney people have bitterness about Jeb. It`s been a
long-running feud between the two of them, a low-grade feud. But you know,
Jeb didn`t like Mitt Romney flipping on immigration in `08. Romney didn`t
like the way Jeb Bush didn`t help him out enough in the Florida primary in
`12. There`s not a lot of love lost. So I think it is fair to say, yes,
that was a jab at Jeb.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s probably a response to his wife being
from Mexico and having -- you know, he`s basically in an Hispanic family,
and then to have Romney decide that that`s where the marbles are, go after
the Hispanics.

Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd.


MATTHEWS: Everybody be watching "MEET THE PRESS" this weekend.

Joining me right now, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, the great
Kelly O`Donnell, and MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki, host of "UP."

I want to start with Kelly because you`re smiling and you`re Irish,
and let`s get started here. And then, Steve, jump in here.

I love politics because although you can predict some stuff, Kelly, a
lot of it`s phenomenal (ph). It`s personal. All of a sudden, a guy goes
to bed at night, wakes up as a totally different person, says, The hell
with this, I`m getting out of here.

What happened with Mitt Romney?

disconnect between the world that Romney`s been living in since he lost in
2012, where you had major donors and loyal supporters and people who he
would encounter who would say, You really would have made a great
president. We really believed in you. You were right on this issue or
that issue as world events transpired.

And then you had the grass roots and the sort of people removed from
Romney enough to say, Been there, done that. I was in Iowa over the past
weekend. There was a real resistance to trying Romney again.

So a disconnect for respect for what he had accomplished, the person
he is and how he had served the party because he certainly campaigned on
behalf of many candidates around the country, and then that separation to,
Do we want to play that movie again, and not believing that he could be a
different candidate, even though Romney and those close to him honestly
said -- and I think genuinely felt -- that he had learned from his
experiences having lost and would have been a better candidate. People
weren`t willing to take that chance.

And then looking at that reality, I think Romney felt that sooner was
better to make a decision, and so he severed it today.

MATTHEWS: That`s great. Steve, it always seemed to me over the
years, looking out over 40 or 50 years, I got to tell you, the Republicans
are the ones that always have been kind to their losers and run them again
and again -- Bob Dole, Jack Kemp -- they keep running them -- McCain. They
run them when they`re wounded, when they`re beaten down. They run them
again and again. Democrats shoot their wounded.

This time around, Republicans have shot their wounded. What`s going
on here? It`s against their culture.

bit. I mean, I think there`s a difference between the guy who loses in the
primary versus the one who makes it to the general election and loses it
there. You got to go back to Nixon to find somebody who successfully
pulled that off. You got to go back to George McGovern to find somebody
who even tried it, running again in 1984.

But I think part of the story you`re talking about, the sort of Jeb
Bush versus Mitt Romney dynamic -- I think a big part of this is,
obviously, Jeb Bush sped up Mitt Romney`s timetable on this very much by
making his move in December, then by following up that move by this -- this
is a really -- and Chuck was talking about this -- a really aggressive
behind-the-scenes push that is going on as we speak, where Jeb Bush is
basically -- what he`s trying to do, the game plan that Jeb Bush is try to
execute here is the same game plan that his brother used back in 2000.

George W. Bush won the White House in 2000, won the Republican
nomination in 2000, because of what he did in the first six months of 1999.
He raised an astronomical sum of money. He lined up incredible support
within the Republican Party to the point that in the middle of 1999, six
different Republican candidates who were running against George W. Bush all
dropped out of the race because of the money he`d been bringing in. So
that`s what Jeb Bush is trying to execute here.

And I think you could look at Mitt Romney right now -- you talk about
all these donors he was trying to get, all these defections he was facing.
Mitt Romney is sort of the first casualty of that Jeb Bush strategy. And
the question, I think, now going forward is, Jeb Bush -- can he -- can he
have that effect on other candidates, on other people in the party going

And of course, the wild card here is the party, the Republican Party
today, is so different than it was when George W. Bush was running in 2000,
and there`s a lot of Bush resistance in the grass roots of this party.

MATTHEWS: Well, Kelly, let`s talk about that because that`s the story
we all look at. Who can win Iowa, who can win New Hampshire, who can win
South Carolina and make it to the big states? If you`re a moderate or a
centrist Republican, you want to get through the bramble bush of those
three tough tests and survive. If you`re a right-winger, you want to put
the other guy away in the first couple contests.

So who on the right figures they can now knock off Jeb Bush in the
first couple contests, or certainly through South Carolina, and win the
whole damn thing, run the table the first three runs (sic)? And who would
that be? Ted Cruz ain`t going to be president. Is it Rand Paul? He`s the
guy I`m looking at. Or is it Scott Walker?

O`DONNELL: Well, I`ve had people say to me that, in the end, the
field will be whoever the nominee is and Ted Cruz, meaning Ted Cruz would
be perhaps the kind of figure who would stay in and be that voice of the
far right throughout, sort of unbowed by the normal conventions of when to
get out of a race.

I think it`s also interesting to see what will happen with Jeb Bush in
terms of that donor network. I spoke to a finance director today who said
that while the Bush network has been loyal, and it is expansive, it`s also
been a long time since a Bush ran for national office, 11 years since
George W. Bush was on the ballot. And there`s a new crop of faces even in
the donor class of the Republican Party who don`t necessarily have those
ties to the Bushes and are looking for other candidates, whether it`s a
Chris Christie or a Walker or a Rand Paul.

And Marco Rubio. In some ways, I thought I heard in the tones of
Romney about the new generation maybe more of a reach to Marco Rubio, which
has the double edge of dissing Jeb Bush, his one-time mentor, and also
opening up a path to a different kind of Republican. Who knows what was in
Romney`s mind.

But whether you`re looking at a Walker being in his 40s or a Marco
Rubio at 43, there are so many candidates who are looking to find that
space. I was told today that there were Romney donors who`d been on the
fence, who felt loyal to him, who wanted to know which way to go, and some
of them have reached out to the Chris Christie camp and say they believe he
can be the guy.

Now, of course, Christie`s got some political problems we`ve talked
about a lot over the last year in New Jersey, but also a sense that the
work he did on behalf of Republican governors, who had a big, big year in
2014, created some good ground work for Christie to take on some of those
Romney donors, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, thanks, Kelly. Let me go -- one last question to
Steve. This dinner tonight in New York, I guess, with Chris Christie and
Mitt Romney -- I mean, it`s probably going to be a competitive event,
knowing that Chris Christie`s having dinner there. What -- what do you --
what do you make of that?

KORNACKI: Yes, well, I mean...


KORNACKI: ... put the quote up. You put the -- from Mitt`s
conference call today. I mean, not even a veiled swipe at Jeb Bush.
That`s a direct -- direct shot at Jeb Bush right there. It is hard to see,
when you look at Mitt Romney going forward, if he`s -- if he decides he
wants to play an active role in trying to pick the Republican nominee in
2016 versus the idea of stepping back and trying to be a statesman and
trying to be a more unifying figure -- if he wants to get involved and
endorse somebody and try to line up money for somebody -- very hard to see
how that`s going to be Jeb Bush.

The two that I look at in this vast sort of cluttered field we`re
talking about right now, you could see it being Chris Christie. Now, of
course, you have, you know, Jeb Bush -- excuse me -- you have Mitt Romney,
who vetted Chris Christie back in 2012...


MATTHEWS: Steve, that`s just spite. That`s just spite on his part.


MATTHEWS: He`s not going to get through the legal mess! He`s not
going to get through all the legal mess because if anybody around him gets
indicted, anybody, they`re going to point the finger at him. It`s going to
be a courtroom fight with Bridget Kelly or somebody else blaming him for
having given her the orders. This is such a mess for him. I don`t see how
we can keep talking about Chris Christie as a possible president of the
United States after what he did in Jersey, OK? You disagree, tell me.

KORNACKI: Well, the one thing -- the one thing I would say to that --
and I`ve covered this story as aggressively as anybody has, I think, and as
closely as anybody has...

MATTHEWS: You were out front.

KORNACKI: The one thing I would say about this is, look at how he
handled the Diane Sawyer interview a few months ago because all -- you
know, we don`t have indictments right now, but a lot of the details of this
thing are out there right now. A lot of the suspicions are out there right
now. And there`s no question it`s had a chilling effect on Chris Christie
and his relationship with a lot of the donors and a lot of the potential
endorsers on the Republican side.

But I also look at how he handled that Diane Sawyer interview and how
he`s handled this thing and weathered it for more than a year now. And I
think there is a large group of Republicans that are willing to give him
the benefit of the doubt on the story he`s been telling, that these guys --
these are rogue guy. They had nothing to do with him.

I think he has room there to maneuver. You know, I can certainly see
how it`s problematic, very problematic, but I wouldn`t write him off
entirely because of it right now, at least on the Republican side.

MATTHEWS: The only problem is his problems -- his problems seem like

Anyway, thank you, Kelly O`Donnell. Thank you, Steve Kornacki.

Much more to come here from Phoenix, Arizona. Up next, we`ve got the
mayors of the two Super Bowl cities, Boston -- that`s how you say it -- and

But a lot more on the big political story of the day. Mitt Romney`s
out, not running for president. "MORNING JOE`s" coming here. Joe
Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski are going to join us right here a little


MATTHEWS: And this is HARDBALL, live from Phoenix (INAUDIBLE) this
city (INAUDIBLE) the Super Bowl.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. And well, we`re going from
hardball to football tonight. We`re just two days away from the biggest
sports event in the country ever. Super Bowl XLIX will take place right
here in Phoenix with the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots
battling to see who will be the Super Bowl champ.

I`m joined right now by the two men looking for bragging rights from
Sunday`s game, Mayor Marty Walsh -- Marty Walsh -- up in Boston and Mayor
Ed Murray of Seattle.

Let me go to Marty Walsh. This must have broken your heart today.
New England`s own Mitt Romney`s dropped out of the presidential race. I
know you have a warm spot in your heart for Mitt Romney...


MATTHEWS: ... such a regular guy from the neighborhoods. How do you
feel about him pulling out of the -- you know, he`s a Harvard guy, the
business school, Harvard law. You must feel really close though this
character. Your thoughts on the demise of the Mitt Romney...


MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D), BOSTON: Well, we`ll be all set here. You
know, I`ll -- I`ll figure it out. I`ll get over it.

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- let me ask you about the Brady thing. How are
the Brady fans reacting up there? I mean, I remember how Johnny Most used
to call those Celts` games. It was always the homer comment there.
Anybody blaming Brady or any of the guys on the processing of the football
up there, to blame them for the fact it was a little less pressure than it
was supposed to be, the football?

WALSH: Listen, all we`re worried about is winning on Sunday. The
referees have plenty of opportunities during those games to fix the
footballs. They touch them more than the players do.

All we`re focused on is on Sunday`s game, Sunday`s kickoff, and I`m
looking forward to calling my friend the mayor Sunday night just to say
that you had a nice run and sorry it`s over.


MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

Ed Murray, let me go to you. By the way, why are all mayors Irish?
Is this 1955?


MATTHEWS: Murray and Walsh? Doesn`t anything ever change?

Anyway, your thoughts about this thing up there, this football game?
Do you got a pick? I guess you have a pick. Do you have a number?

ED MURRAY (D), MAYOR OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: I`m not going to pick a
number. We`re going to win, and Mayor Walsh is going to be visiting
Seattle as part of the deal.

And we have got a great team and the whole Pacific Northwest is
excited. Mayor Walsh and I are both Irish, and we`re both superstitious,
so I`m not going to give you a number.


MATTHEWS: OK. There`s a guy named Marshawn -- Marshawn -- what`s his
last name?

WALSH: Lynch.

MATTHEWS: Lynch, another Irish name.

Marshawn Lynch says that he -- he is going to give people expertise in
how to conduct a press conference. I want you to watch the way he does it
and tell me if it would work for you guys, you two mayors.

Here is the Marshawn Lynch`s press conference method. Here he is.


MARSHAWN LYNCH, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Hey, I`m just here so I don`t get
fined. So you all can sit here and ask me all the questions you all want
to. I`m going the answer with the same answer.

So you all can shoot if you all please. I`m here so I won`t get
fined. I`m here so I won`t get fined. I`m here so I won`t get fined. I`m
here so I won`t get fined. I`m here so I won`t get fined. I`m just here
so I won`t get fined. I`m here so I won`t get fined.


MATTHEWS: So, so let`s watch him the other day. He did it again in
another tense press conference. This is more expertise in how to run a
press conference from Marshawn Lynch.


LYNCH: I`m here preparing for a game, and you all want to ask me all
these questions, which is understandable. I could get down with that.

But I told you all, I`m not about to say nothing. So for the
remainder of my, what`s that, three minutes, because I`m here, I`m
available for you all. I`m here. I`m available for you all. I done
talked. All of my requirements are fulfilled.

So now, for this next three minutes, I will just be looking at you all
the way that you`re all looking at me. Thank you.



MATTHEWS: You know, Mayor Murray, that reminds me of candidate school
where they tell you, no matter what the question is from the character who
is asking you the questions, just stick to the party line.

And you guys are both doing it. We`re going to win on Sunday, no
matter what Matthews asked. Is that pretty honest, Mr. Murray?

MURRAY: Chris, I`m doing this interview -- Chris, I`m doing this
interview so I won`t get fined.


MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Good luck in the game, although I am predicting the Northeastern team.
By the way, Boston, right, that`s how you pronounce it, Mayor, right,

WALSH: Boston.

And I do feel the Patriots are going to win on Sunday. But I do want
to wish the mayor great -- he was a new mayor last year, and I was cheering
for him to win the Super Bowl because I had lost my bet to the Broncos
earlier. So, I was very happy that Seattle had their one -- one Super
Bowl. And I look forward to the Patriots` fourth on Sunday night.

MURRAY: Thank you. Same...

MATTHEWS: Did you guys do one of those corny bets, like you were
betting a bucket of cod against the other guy`s bucket of salmon? Did you
do any of that thing? They always seem to do one of those.

Mayor Murray, did you cut one of those deals, one of those bets?

MURRAY: So, I -- I said we`re both superstitious. And I have to bet.
And so we bet the mayor of Providence. And I have never lost a bet, but I
think Mayor Walsh has a different story.

WALSH: Yes, I`m not betting on the Super Bowl. I had a couple bets
as the mayor, and they didn`t go my way, and I`m not -- I don`t want to
lose a Super Bowl. I`m a huge Patriots fan

I have been a season ticket holder for over 20-plus years. I was at
the AFC Championship Game. And I look forward to a good game on Sunday.
And Mayor Murray and myself, we will figure something out after the game is

MURRAY: Sounds good.

MATTHEWS: Babe Parilli, Gino Cappelletti, all those great names.

WALSH: Yes, Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Houston Antwine. What great players. I went to school.
At Holy Cross, that`s all we talked about.

Thank you very much, guys, Mayor Marty Walsh, Marty Walsh of Boston,
and Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle, where they don`t have an accent.


MATTHEWS: And for more on the spectacle here on and off the field,
I`m joined by NBC`s Willie Geist and "Washington Post" sports columnist the
great Sally Jenkins.

Thank you.


WILLIE GEIST, NBC PRODUCER: How you doing, Chris?

MATTHEWS: Notice I got through the whole interview without talking

You`re one of my idols because you write this great column every --
you`re almost every day in the paper in the "USA Today" -- no, "Washington


MATTHEWS: Tell me about this game.

There was a long period of time when there weren`t any good Super
Bowls. They weren`t great games.

JENKINS: Well, the conference championships tend to be the great
games. And then the Super Bowl can be a bit of a letdown. The pressure
gets to the guys over the course of the week of preparing. There have been
a lot of distractions this week.

All you have to do is look outside to see how hard it is to keep your
mind on your business.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at Jimmy Kimmel. He has a little
joke, speaking of pressure, which is all we talked about for a whole night
on this show, maybe a whole week, about the pressure in the ball. Let`s
talk about that. Here`s Jimmy Kimmel on that scandal, if you will.


BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: I deflated those balls myself. All right?


AFFLECK: All right, I did it. I`m the perpetrator. You don`t want
to believe me, there`s nothing I can do to change your mind, I`m turning
myself in.

I`m Ryan Salty Lanigan (ph). I`m from Roslindale, Massachusetts. If
you don`t believe me, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.

I love you, Touchdown Tommy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was all me. It was totally me.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: I am the locker room guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am the locker room guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m the locker room guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m the locker room guy.

AFFLECK: I`m the locker room guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a good look, America. I`m the locker room

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now leave Tom Brady alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Brady had nothing to do with this because he
was too busy being awesome.

AFFLECK: Let me ask you a question, all right? Who are you going to
believe? Tom Brady, the greatest man in all of humanity, or a bunch of


AFFLECK: The scales of justice have spoken.




MATTHEWS: You know, it`s amazing to watch Brady, the movie star --
basically is a movie star -- who is married to a model and he comes out
with that stupid watch cap on. He still looked great.

And did you feel sorry for him at all? Is that possible?


GEIST: It`s hard -- it`s hard to feel sorry for Tom Brady in any way,
shape or form.

But I do think this has been completely at this point blown out of


MATTHEWS: Gisele Bundchen?

GEIST: Gisele, Gisele, the most beautiful woman in the world, I`m


GEIST: But if this weren`t the Super Bowl, and you didn`t have two
weeks to talk about it, if it weren`t the New England Patriots, who are
like the New York Yankees and everyone loves to hate them because of their
success, this wouldn`t be the story that it is today.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars had deflated balls before a game against
the Houston Texans, no one would be talking about it. I`m not saying it`s
nothing. And if you cheated, you ought to be punished. But people who are
saying you got to suspend Belichick and pull him out of the Super Bowl,
come on.

MATTHEWS: What are they going to do, take back a draft pick 20 years
from now?

GEIST: Next year, yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, really?

JENKINS: It`s air. It`s air. It`s like -- it`s less air than is in
a Cheese Whiz can.


JENKINS: The whole thing is completely ridiculous.

There`s zero competitive advantage.

MATTHEWS: But if you were a quarterback, wouldn`t you like to have a
little more of a soft feel, a little bit more grabbable ball?

JENKINS: You and me couldn`t tell the difference. I promise you.


JENKINS: It`s all "Princess and the Pea." It`s mostly in their
heads. It`s absurd.


GEIST: And it depends. Aaron Rodgers likes the ball overinflated.
He wants a big ball. So, it`s all personal preference.


MATTHEWS: I would think the receiver would like it a little soft.

GEIST: Yes, definitely. You don`t want to catch a rock.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Anyway, you don`t want to catch a missile.

Anyway, Willie, recently interviewed -- I`m reading this -- Katy
Perry, who is performing at the halftime Sunday.


MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look right now.


GEIST: What was the NFL`s Super Bowl phone call like? Were you

KATY PERRY, MUSICIAN: Oh, I was weeping. And I was weeping all day,
actually. I can kind of well up right now.

GEIST: One hundred and fifteen million people last year watched the
halftime Super Bowl show. Does that make you nervous, that number? I
mean, you have played...

PERRY: Can I be honest and say yes?



PERRY: Can I be human and say, yes, I will be nervous?

But I`m going to kind of recycle those nerves and make them


MATTHEWS: You know, that`s great. We don`t get to do those kind of
interviews. Katy Perry.

What was your favorite half time ever, ever, ever?

GEIST: Favorite half time ever, I would have to say it was 2002 U2.
This was four-and-a-half months after 9/11. You remember Bono opens his
jacket and he has got the American flag. And then they drop the sheet
behind him and they scroll all the names of the deceased. That was as good
as it gets in terms of great performance plus emotion. That was it.

JENKINS: Paul McCartney.

MATTHEWS: Paul McCartney.

I liked the Stones, because they don`t need the Super Bowl.

GEIST: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Every Stones concert is unbelievable. And the guys are
older than I am, and I love it.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

Anyway, thank you, Willie Geist, Sally Jenkins.

GEIST: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You`re great in print, great on the air.

Much more from Phoenix and the big political story of the day. Mitt
Romney`s gone. He`s forever gone. "MORNING JOE"`s Joe Scarborough and
Mika Brzezinski are coming to talk about it and everything else.


MATTHEWS: You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The big political news tonight, we never saw coming. I didn`t. Mitt
Romney is going to drop out of this race. He did it today. No campaign
for him, and the third time around is not the lucky charm. Romney made his
announcement earlier today in a conference call with friends and

And it comes as a new FOX poll showed him leading his closest
Republican rival by 10 points. And "The New York Times" also reports that
Romney`s scheduled to have dinner tonight with New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie, which will be a competitive eating event.

Joining me right now is "MORNING JOE"`s Scarborough, Joe Scarborough.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, "MORNING JOE": I don`t know what that means.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, "MORNING JOE": He had to go there.


BRZEZINSKI: Competitive eating event?

MATTHEWS: It`s an eating event. Whenever you`re sitting down with
that guy, you have got to eat fast.

SCARBOROUGH: Mitt Romney, yes.

BRZEZINSKI: Right. Exactly.


MATTHEWS: Your plate is in dangerous territory.

Let me ask you this, Joe?


MATTHEWS: No, ladies first.

BRZEZINSKI: All right.

MATTHEWS: You have been following politics since you were born. I
have never seen a front-runner drop out of a race.


MATTHEWS: Don`t ever seen that. A guy who looks right, talks like
he`s ready to go with all the money on God`s earth, a family behind him,
he`s going to play up his religion this time. It was all out there, and
then, whew, gone.

BRZEZINSKI: Out of nowhere.


BRZEZINSKI: Well, we were also -- we have had discussions with
sources behind the scenes. It looked like he was going to run.

Personally, I thought the third time would have been the charm. I
really did. I think the timing would have been right for him.


BRZEZINSKI: He would have come off in this campaign as the guy who
had competence and the guy who was right about a number of issues.

MATTHEWS: I thought if two things happened, he could have beaten
Hillary Clinton, presuming she`s going to run.


MATTHEWS: Two things happen. She doesn`t run a great race. She runs
an OK race, but not a great race. And the international economy drops like
hell, and he`s the only guy around who seems to understand big money.

SCARBOROUGH: I think Mitt Romney actually walking away from the race
is like nothing I have seen before.

He`s ahead in every single poll against all of his competition. In
this latest poll, he`s up by 10 points. And just as 2012 wasn`t his time,
2016 really did seem to be his time, because the chaos across the globe --
I called it an Eisenhower moment. We needed an Eisenhower, somebody that
could go in there that knew how to run things, that had run things, that
was level-headed, that was rational, that wasn`t ideological.

And I was thinking he wasn`t going to run an ideological race this
time. It would be about what worked and what didn`t work.

MATTHEWS: Well, that would be smart.

SCARBOROUGH: And if he had, he would have won.

MATTHEWS: What was the torpedo he saw coming at him? Was it one
person like Jeb, whose numbers haven`t gone up, or was it just the
resistance of party regulars? What was it?

SCARBOROUGH: I think the biggest problem for Mitt Romney was the fact
that he thought that, according to everybody that I have talked to today
very close to him, he thought it was going to be a very, very ugly race
with Jeb, that Jeb would do whatever it took to win, and that he would be


MATTHEWS: But so would he.

SCARBOROUGH: He thought he would beat Jeb, but he thought that he
would be limping into a general election against Hillary Clinton, and that
it would hurt the party.

He thinks this is best for the party.


MATTHEWS: Who is happy tonight? I guess Chris Christie is a little
happy. He has one less opponent.


BRZEZINSKI: Jeb Bush is not happy. That statement was a punch in the
nose. And it was basically saying, don`t go with a name you know. It was
a jab at Hillary, a jab at Jeb, a jab at anybody who has been around.


SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I think...


MATTHEWS: Let`s stick with that thought, because nobody likes to lose
to somebody their age, because that means they`re not going to get their
chance. You only get the chance of your generation, whether it`s sports,
whatever or it is,Mr. America, whatever it is.


MATTHEWS: Nancy Pelosi doesn`t want to turn over the speakership or
the leadership of the Democratic Party of the House to Steny Hoyer.


MATTHEWS: So, she will find somebody down like Chris Van Hollen, who
is a hotshot from a different generation.


MATTHEWS: So, it seems like the same thing is going on now. Romney
does not want to sit there and watch Jeb Bush be the nominee. He`d much
rather it be a youngster come in, relatively speaking, who he can then
become his papa bear. Is that right?


SCARBOROUGH: And, by the way, a lot of sharp elbows were thrown also
over the past several weeks.

I think the last straw was Jeb getting Mitt`s Iowa guy, his strategist
in Iowa. But all of the leaking, all of the nasty things that were --
saying behind closed door, all the things that were being leaked to "The
New York Times," that Romney was reading every day from Jeb`s camp, really
at the end of the day bothered him a great deal.

And I will tell you, I have been talking to his top people today. I
don`t see a kumbaya moment. I think you`re going to find a lot of Romney
people that are going to have a hard time getting on Jeb`s bandwagon.

MATTHEWS: Really? Where do they go? Scott Walker.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, a lot of talk about Scott Walker, but the field is
wide open.

I`ll tell you, you asked who the losers were today. The losers today
were Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, everybody on the right who was
hoping to see this establishment group of moderates, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush,
Chris Christie, split up the vote in such a way. But a guy like Scott
Walker could move to the front pretty quickly.

MATTHEWS: I have read -- talk about personal -- this is always
interesting in politics. Who is mad at who personally?

Jeb Bush, as you know him better than I know him -- he`s married to a
woman from Mexico. His kids are basically Hispanic. They`re a Hispanic
Catholic family now. He changed religions.


MATTHEWS: And to have Mitt Romney run a campaign which is pretty darn
anti-illegal immigrant, it was very tough, is that part of the reason
there`s personal bad blood here? I heard that he didn`t like being treated
that way, Jeb.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what is so interesting is, 41 loves Mitt. The
Bush family has always been close to the Romney family.

And 41 can`t say enough good things about Mitt behind closed doors.
This also, though, is very personal. We have had the last two presidents
who have had issues with their father. And, in this case, everybody close
to the Bush camp says that Jeb felt the pull.

MATTHEWS: What was the issue between Barack Obama and his father?

SCARBOROUGH: He didn`t have one.

MATTHEWS: OK, right, just like Bill Clinton.

SCARBOROUGH: That`s what I said. There was always sort of the ghost
of his father hanging over him.

It had a huge issue. Here, I have heard time and time and time again
by people close to Jeb that he`s doing this for a lot of reasons, but a big
reason is his father. His father -- I was talking to his father in
Kennebunkport in 2011. We were talking about the 2012 race at his house.

And he was really -- you know, his heart hurt that his son Jeb was not
running in `12. He wanted Jeb to run. Now, Barbara is Barbara.

MATTHEWS: What about the relationship between Bill Clinton and 41?
He found a new father.

SCARBOROUGH: you know what? The Clintons and the Bushes, it`s like
Skull and Bones. They have got their legacies. They`re sort of set apart.
The rest of us, we just sort of play in their world.


SCARBOROUGH: That`s what they think.

MATTHEWS: You see the Clintons as the old money crowd?

SCARBOROUGH: I see the Clintons and the Bushes as controlling the
White House and everything. Oh, my God, yes, the Clintons, old money


MATTHEWS: I think you saw somebody over here for a second, the ghost
of the Clintons. There they were.


BRZEZINSKI: They`re everywhere.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, you could well be right.

Anyway, thank you.

I thought that Romney could win if two things happen, as I said, the
international economy tanked, if he`s the only guy around who seems to
understand it, and Hillary Clinton doesn`t run a first-rate campaign. If
she runs a first-rate campaign, I think, no matter what, she probably wins,
by definition.

Joe Scarborough, you will be on here tonight. You`re succeeding me


SCARBOROUGH: I`m excited.

MATTHEWS: "MORNING JOE AT NIGHT," it`s an interesting oxymoron.

But you will be better at night, I think.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, Mika Brzezinski.

We will see you at the top of the hour for a special two-hour edition

Anyway, the roundtable is going to stay -- be here in a minute in
Phoenix. We have got the results of a new poll showing a deep ideological
divide on football. Liberals don`t want their kids to play football.
Conservatives do.


MATTHEWS: You`re watching a special Super Bowl edition of HARDBALL
live from Phoenix, where they call each Phoenicians.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I`m live from Phoenix again.

According to the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll there`s a sharp
ideological divide when it comes to football. I`m talking like Charlie
Rose. It shows that self-identified conservatives are more likely to let
their kids play football despite safety concerns. Only 28 percent of
conservatives say they would encourage their kids to play a different
sport, compared to 49 percent of liberals.

I`m joined right by the HARDBALL roundtable tonight: MSNBC contributor
Mike Barnicle, NFL sports columnist Jarrett Bell of "USA Today", and Robert
Klemko from "Sports Illustrated."

Let`s go with Mike, why do you think libs are not for football?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t think that they are for it
or against it. I think they`re indecisive. I think what the poll really
points out is there`s a geographical difference, rather than an ideological
difference, geographical paramount.

I think the NFL in five, six, seven years is going to be strictly an
SEC -- it`s going to be like the southeastern conference, or Big 10
conference, Ohio State, Michigan, now that Harbaugh is there. I think it`s
far more geographical than it is ideological.

MATTHEWS: And those kids come from the South or they`re recruited to
the South?

BARNICLE: Both, both. But they go to big football schools. And it`s
a lot like hockey used to be in the Northeast, I think, Chris, and that you
get young kids with spectacular hockey skills that would gravitate and be
pulled into the prestigious prep schools with the hope of getting a
national hockey league career.

I think if you`re going to play football, if you have a dream of
playing professional football, you`re not going to go to the University of
Rhode Island.


Let me give you another, I grew in Philly, the Eagles. It`s like
going to the Roman coliseum if you`ve been to those games. The people are
fanatical about winning games. So, I`m not sure the geographic thing
explains it all.

What do you think? Why are liberals against football for their kids?

JARRETT BELL, USA TODAY: I don`t know if this is something to draw
political lines over. I think the thing that was most significant to me,
Chris, is that when you look at the overall number, 40 percent of the
respondents did not want their kids to play football, which is consistent
with numbers from last year. The NFL has gone to great lengths to kind of
promote its game as being safe. In the face of all the information that`s
come out over recent years with the dangers of concussions, so people are
paying attention to it. They are aware of it. And I think it`s just --

MATTHEWS: What do you make of covering this sport, I want you to take
on here, Robert, what do you make of the sport when you see these older
guys that have these problems, mental problems?


MATTHEWS: It`s not like boxing. It`s not that bad.

KLEMKO: Yes, no, I mean, a lot of people suffer in silence because
we, as the media contingent, go to Roger Goodell`s press conference and
we`re asking questions about deflated balls and Marshawn Lynch not
answering questions and we`re not talking about CTE, traumatic brain
injury, guarantee contract --

MATTHEWS: Here we are -- here we are talking about it.

KLEMKO: Yes, but that`s not a priority in Super Bowl week.

MATTHEWS: Here`s Goodell, despite a growing safety concerns, NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell today assured the public that the game is safer
than ever before.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We are doing more to protect our
players from unnecessary risk. Hits to defenseless players this season
were down 68 percent. And there were similar decreases in other areas
pertaining to the safety of the game. We reported yesterday that
concussions were down 25 percent this past regular season.


MATTHEWS: I think one of the things you missed not on the field is
the sound of the crack.


MATTHEWS: It`s head injuries, Michael.

BARNICLE: If any parent of a high school football player were ever
privileged or allowed to watch a professional football game at field level,
they would never let their child play football again. It`s -- the sounds
of the collisions are frightening. And to your point, which is very well
taken about what the media chooses to focus on, deflate-gate, one of the
great obscenities that the National Football League was involved in was the
reparation, if you can call it that, to players who were injured by
traumatic injury and they low balled them in the settlement initially. Low
balled them.

MATTHEWS: Your kids were athletically able. You have parental
discussions with them about I prefer you play baseball or lacrosse or
something else? Did you have those conversations?

BARNICLE: I never did. We have seven children. I mean, three of
them very good athletically. One of them, three concussions. And it takes
a toll. He takes a toll. He stopped playing football.

BELL: And one of the things, when you start talking about
concussions, even in the context of that lawsuit, you have to really try to
ascertain when these occur, when they began. And you`re talking about
youth football and really how susceptible you are as you go later on in
life. That`s one of the things that it`s very difficult to get a handle on
except to say, hey, maybe it`s not safe with kids.

MATTHEWS: We`re coming back with Robert who`s going to make the pick
of the game. Our roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, we`re going to get their picks -- big predictions coming
back in the game, for the big game.

And this HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`re back in Phoenix.

The odds makers out here now have the New England Patriots up by one
point favorite over Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. That`s this
Sunday. But even if the Patriots have the edge, history suggests it will
be close. Since 2002, New England has not had a Super Bowl game decided by
more than four points, win or lose. It`s always been a tight game.

If the Patriots do pull it out on Sunday, quarterback Tom Brady will
tie Joe Montana and Terri Bradshaw for winning the most Super Bowl
victories with four a piece.

We`re back now for predictions from our roundtable, Mike, Jarrett, and

First, let`s go to Robert -- winner and points.

KLEMKO: I think it`s a 14-10 game in favor of New England. The most
important thing for Seattle is to get the running game started and I don`t
think they`re going to be able to do it.

MATTHEWS: Jarrett?

BELL: I think the Patriots will win 23-17 and same thing with Robert.
I think the key for the Patriots defense is to really try to bottle up
Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson who is a phenomenal multidimensional


BARNICLE: I have the same score, 23-17, Patriots. And I think the
key for them to win is going to be their offensive line. It`s going to
have to step up and keep the defensive ends off of Brady.

BELL: No question. Michael Bennett, (INAUDIBLE) they are amazing.

MATTHEWS: You know all of you guys predicted a good game, a close

BELL: Close, yes. It could come down to a field goal.

MATTHEWS: A field goal, 14-10, 23-17, 23-17, I`m 31-28, what do I
know? I want a wide open game.

KLEMKO: I think you have too many points happening there.

MATTHEWS: That`s why you picked the lower number and that`s why I
picked a higher number.

BELL: Average out, right?

MATTHEWS: Roger Goodell saying, of course, it`s a safe game.
Remember the woman in that Christine Taylor case, of course, you`d say
that. You know, you`re supposed to say what you`re supposed to say. It`s
called flackery.

Anyway, thank you, gentlemen.

BELL: Thanks for having us.

MATTHEWS: Good luck with this. I love supports, columnists. You`re
always -- I think you`re the best writers, right?

Don`t you think, Michael?

BARNICLE: Absolutely, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Sports writers are the best writers.

And we`ll be right back after this from Phoenix.


MATTHEWS: So you`re with the Cardinals, right?


MATTHEWS: So you`re with the cardinals, ladies, right? Who are the
Cardinals routing for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just rooting for the best team, whoever,
you know, wins wins.

MATTHEWS: OK, same with you?


MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a nice town to be at.

Here we are, we have to go to this fella here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s it going, Chris?

MATTHEWS: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m from Phoenix, Arizona.

MATTHEWS: And you call yourself a Phoenician, right?


MATTHEWS: What a strange name? Who`s going to win this game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I`m predicting a New England Patriots
victory, with the cloud as the dark as the Phoenix that will hang over --

MATTHEWS: 31-28.

What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seattle. Seattle. No, I`m from St. Louis, but
I`m going for Seattle.

MATTHEWS: Are you mad because the Arizona team got your team?


MATTHEWS: What`s going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want Seattle to win.

MATTHEWS: You`re out west. It`s a rational thing.

What do you think? Where are you from?


MATTHEWS: And therefore you are for --



MATTHEWS: What happened to, the Broncos?


MATTHEWS: Just kidding. What do you think of this game, the Super
Bowl? Where`s the sun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going with the Patriots.




What did you do? Selfie or selfie with me?


What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the Super Bowl is going to be great, I`m
going to win it. So, I`m sorry Seahawks. I`m sorry Patriots, no -- good
luck, Patriots. Kill it.

MATTHEWS: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no preference.

MATTHEWS: You`re just sort of a dispassionate person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a Tom Brady all the way.


MATTHEWS: Interests?


MATTHEWS: You think he`s good looking?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, very much so.

MATTHEWS: How much time we got here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Seahawks are going to win, 24-21 against

MATTHEWS: 24-21, you`re picking out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m with her, Seahawks --

MATTHEWS: What`s that on your dress?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A great, great picture.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, we`re going to turn over to Mika and Joe for the
next couple of hours. It`s going to be Mika and Joe, "MORNING JOE" at

Take it away.


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