updated 2/3/2015 10:20:12 AM ET 2015-02-03T15:20:12

Date: February 2, 2015
Guest: John Brabender, Susan Page, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jonathan Allen

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The football season is over. The HARDBALL
season begins.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington -- the HARDBALL Chris
Matthews, by the way, not that brilliant guy on the Seahawks.

What a whirlwind right now politically. Before this Super Bowl weekend,
which seems a good while ago now, Mitt Romney made his big announcement.
It was just Friday that he made the announcement that he`s out of the race
for 2016. The reason? Well, it seems to have come down to a combination
of rejection by a lot of the money people that Romney was counting on, the
prospect of Jeb Bush staring him down, and Mitt`s own family. He didn`t
want to spend the next year-and-a-half slogging through hell.

Well, now comes a new poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers showing
that Jeb Bush is going practically nowhere out there with that crowd, this
crowd that has picked people like Mike Huckabee, and most recently, Rick
Santorum to be their champion.

So what gives? If the money people seem bent on Jeb and the grass roots
right seems to be rejecting him, where is the party going to go to find a
leader that can unite and excite it enough to give Hillary Clinton a fight?

Well, John Brabender is a Republican strategist, and Robert Gibbs is the
former White House press secretary and an MSNBC contributor.

And as I mentioned, a new poll from "The Des Moines Register" just out and
Bloomberg Politics shows that Jeb Bush has some ground to make up with the
conservative grass roots of his party. Look at this poll. It shows that
the leader of the pack in Iowa is the new kid on the block, Wisconsin
governor Scott Walker. He`s followed by Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, no
surprise there. Jeb Bush is fifth with 9 percent, the guy who everybody
calls the front-runner, fifth out there.

He also lags behind on favorability compared to other potential candidates.
Scott Walker has a net favorable -- that means favorable over unfavorable -
- of 48, meaning 60 percent of voters have a favorable view of him. Only
12 percent have a favorable view of -- well, the others, anyway --
unfavorable view, rather. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and others
all have high net favorables among likely Iowa caucus-goers. They all look
good out there. For Jeb Bush, his net favorability is low one digit, 3.
So for Chris Christie, it`s even worse -- negative. He`s the only big
negative out there, 18. We can (ph) get (ph) through that.

John, why don`t they like Christie out in Iowa --


MATTHEWS: -- among your party?

BRABENDER: First of all, you do have to take some of this in perspective.
I mean, everybody was talking about Michele Bachmann when she won the Ames
straw poll only to finish last in the Iowa caucuses.

But with that said, Iowa is a conservative state. Chris Christie is seen
as relatively moderate. Jeb Bush is relatively moderate. The real problem
for this in this poll is not where they are in the mix, it`s that they have
high unfavorables.

So they`ve got to change a lot of minds, which is difficult to do,
especially because they`re not the type that`s all of a sudden going to
move to the right. So I think they`ve got some problems, issues like
Common Core, immigration. Their positions are just not going to play with
mainstream Republicans in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: What I`m stunned with is how much knowledge they have of these
guys. I mean, these are regular voters, guys. They`re not people watching
television all night long. They don`t real all the papers all day long.
They seem to know all the candidates. They have a personal opinion of all
the candidates already, two years out.

They`ve had to judge that Chris Christie is not their guy. But they really
like this new guy, Scott Walker who`s the governor of Wisconsin. And they
know all about him, enough to say he`s a 48 percent net plus. That`s a
hell of a lot of information, Robert.

think, one, Iowans take their role exceedingly seriously.


GIBBS: And a lot of these guys --


GIBBS: None of these guys are going to seal the deal with any caucus-goer
until they`ve literally had a chance to meet them five or six times.
Secondly, caucus-goers are the highest-interest primary voter. So if
you`re going to participate in a primary, that`s one thing. If you`re
going to participate in a caucus, which is a different level of commitment,
it`s that probably top 10 or 20 percent of people that would normally
participate in a primary, heavy information voters, people that have a lot
of information and are following these guys well before they ever come to
Iowa to play president.

MATTHEWS: It is impressive that people know this much. Anyway, this
weekend, Scott Walker sounded very confident. I`ve always thought he was a
sleeper, but I wasn`t that sure. Let`s watch him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 99 percent chance you`ll run?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Oh, I don`t know that I`d take the odds.
I just would tell you one thing. After three elections for governor in
four years in a state that hasn`t gone Republican since 1984 for president,
I wouldn`t bet against me on anything.


MATTHEWS: He also took a jab at both Hillary Clinton, and by implication,
Jeb Bush. Let`s watch.


WALKER: People want new, fresh leadership with big, bold ideas, and the
courage to act on it. And if we`re going to take on a name from the past,
which is likely to be former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, I think
for the party, we need a name from the future.


MATTHEWS: Well, there you go. They got rid of Mitt. Now they`re going to
-- this is an age war. This is "Logan`s Run" here, Robert.

GIBBS: Well, I think, look --

MATTHEWS: Get rid of the old guys.

GIBBS: The great thing about that bank shot was the explicit criticism of
the ex-secretary of state and the implicit criticism of the --


GIBBS: -- Jeb Bush. So look, I think -- I think it`s way premature to
call anybody the front-runner. I think you have tiers of candidates, and I
think clearly, in the top tier of candidates in Iowa, Scott Walker,
probably Jeb Bush, and to some degree a social conservative, in that poll
probably Mike Huckabee.


GIBBS: And truth is, what puts Jeb Bush in the top tier isn`t his standing
in Iowa as much as it is his standing writ large and his ability to raise
probably the $100 million it`s going to take to win this primary.

MATTHEWS: Have you been out talking to enough people to know whether
people are just in a mood -- like, most people who vote want to pick the
next president, but early going, they want to send a message, too. But do
you get a sense this might be one of those years -- the Democrats had it
back in `72, a long time ago, with McGovern. McGovern wasn`t going to be
elected president against Nixon. Wasn`t going to happen.

But it was -- it felt good for the people on the left. They felt great
being for McGovern. He was anti-war. He was sort of an intellectual, you
know? He was a war hero, but he was also a professor. He was perfect for
the Democratic left.

Do you think your party might be onto a year that`s just a little bit
wackier than most years, they`re just going to pick somebody like Goldwater
or McGovern and say, We don`t give a damn about the close election coming
next November, we`re going to say what we really feel? And maybe one of
these other guys, maybe Ted Cruz, maybe Ben Carson, maybe Rand Paul -- is
it that wild a year? Can you tell if that`s out there?

BRABENDER: Here`s the problem. The Republican Party isn`t a single entity
anymore. It`s not homogeneous anymore. It`s broken into libertarians, Tea
Party, social conservatives, establishment, working class, you know, anti-
terrorism. They`re all different types of Republicans, so it`s splintered.

The biggest difference you`re going to see this time in, is some sense,
we`ve become the Democrats. We don`t have --

MATTHEWS: I agree. And it`s the other way, too. It`s working on the
other side.

BRABENDER: We get a lot of people out there. But I will say this. I
think they`re all quality candidates. And the other thing to watch for
this year, no one`s going to win Iowa with 30 percent of the vote.
Someone`s going to win it with 20 percent of the vote. And that`s what`s
going to happen in state after state. You`re going to see five or six
candidates all the way to the end.

MATTHEWS: Really? They can afford it?

BRABENDER: The way that it`s set up this time, especially with a lot of
states proportional, you don`t have to play statewide. You can pick --

MATTHEWS: They are switching. It sounds like your party in `08.

GIBBS: Well, it is, and the truth is -- John`s absolutely right. Usually,
Democrats have these big personality and issue-driven primaries with 10 or
12 people, and you don`t know what`s going to happen. Republicans are an
establishment. They pick the guy that didn`t win the nomination last time.
Those roles are completely reversed this time. I think it`s going to be

MATTHEWS: And you have people in the race, like Sharpton played in the
Democratic Party a couple of those times, remember? You`re the most
interesting guy in the debate. You`re not going to win necessarily, but
you`re definitely going to be the best show. And I just wonder -- you
won`t answer my question. Could this be a wacko year and you just go crazy
-- we don`t care who`s going to win against Hillary. We`re running a
person we really believe in, like a Cruz or a Ben Carson or a Rand Paul.

BRABENDER: Well, I will say this. The primary thing is voters are not
going to say in the Republican primaries who is the best November
candidate. They don`t care about that.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I`m asking.

BRABENDER: They care, does the candidate represent their views, because
there`s no --

MATTHEWS: That`s the way the Democrats used to be.

BRABENDER: -- (INAUDIBLE) a Democrat-lite. And I will tell you, I
think we have credible candidates so you can get away with it this year.
You can pick any of these --


BRABENDER: -- candidates, and I think they`ll be competitive.

MATTHEWS: And you think Ted Cruz would be competitive with Hillary

BRABENDER: Yes, I absolutely do.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- you know what that reminds me of? The old days of
the left of the Democratic Party in D.C. November doesn`t count. It
doesn`t matter. We`re going to vote for the person we believe in.

Let me ask you about the Democrats because just -- I didn`t intend to ask
about it, but I don`t see any rebellion against Hillary Clinton yet of any
significance. I mean, rebellion.

GIBBS: No, I don`t think so.

MATTHEWS: They`re open to her.

GIBBS: I think, though, she has specific challenges that are apart from
who the Republicans nominate. I think, first and foremost, she has to
articulate exactly why she wants to run and what she`d do as president in a
compelling way.

Secondly, I think what`s going to be interesting to watch -- and the Obama
campaign felt this in 2011 and 2012 -- without contested caucuses and
primaries, it`s not as easy to get people excited as it is if you`re going
through that process --


GIBBS: -- of every two weeks having this thing. So there`s a lot that -
- I still think there`s a lot that she has to do. I actually think -- and
I agree with -- I think this race is going to be super-close in November of
2016. I actually believe --

GIBBS: In November. I don`t think there`s any doubt about that. And I
think, quite frankly -- you`ve seen Reince Priebus say this and others. I
think Republicans -- I don`t think they`re going to pick (ph) Iowa.
They`re not going to look at it and say, Boy, we have to pick the best
person in November. But by the time we get into the fall, there`s no doubt
that this is not going to be just a "send a message" election.

BRABENDER: But if Hillary Clinton has Elizabeth Warren get in the race,
does Hillary Clinton --

MATTHEWS: She`s not going to get in.

BRABENDER: Does Hillary Clinton -- let`s say, hypothetically, she would.

MATTHEWS: Biden has a better chance.

BRABENDER: Who wins Iowa --

MATTHEWS: Of getting in.

BRABENDER: Who wins Iowa between Elizabeth Warren --


BRABENDER: -- Elizabeth Warren would win because she`d make the most

BRABENDER: Which is the biggest nightmare Hillary Clinton has.

MATTHEWS: Anyway --

GIBBS: I wouldn`t necessarily bet on --

MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, look -- see, I disagree with you. I don`t think
Hillary should go for a close election. I know you`re not saying that.
But I think she should go for a 55 percent victory, 54 percent victory,
because then she could bring the House in. She could bring the Senate in.
And then she could really rule this country.

This country needs somebody to get control of it. Somebody`s got to win
this election. I don`t want another split down the middle. And I think --
so I`m more conservative. So I would think she should go more to the
center. People that say, Oh, follow Elizabeth off to the left, and I would
say, Well, there`s a way not to get 55 percent, go to the hard left.

Anyway, we`re already out of time. God -- you`re really good at this. And
you`re, of course, always brilliant. Thank you.

GIBBS: You played a great game in the Super Bowl.

MATTHEWS: Did you like these receptions --


GIBBS: Absolutely -- I didn`t think you had it in you, but wow.


BRABENDER: The plug he got during the Super Bowl was better than any of
the ads that people paid millions and millions for. I bet viewership
triples tonight.

MATTHEWS: OK, I`ll say it. Thank you, Al Michaels. Thank you very much,
John Brabender. Thank you, Robert Gibbs. It was a thrill to be at the
stadium and watching all this.

Coming up: Chris Christie steps in a minefield over vaccines. The New
Jersey governor says there needs to be balance and parents need a choice
about whether to vaccinate their kids. Science, of course, says otherwise.
So what`s Christie up to? I think he`s playing to the group we were
talking to out in Iowa.

Plus, President Obama`s budget just out there today is a bold progressive
statement. He wants to raise taxes on the rich and spend money to put
people to work. Good stuff -- corporate tax reform, tax reform,
infrastructure. It`s everything I`ve been believing in. I don`t think it
came from me, but it`s certainly what I think is right. It shows me that
he wants to lead with swagger and dare the Republicans to say no to a
really good centrist idea.

And if you watched the Super Bowl last night, you heard plenty of talk
about this guy, Chris Matthews, the Seahawks` Chris Matthews.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why I think the Democrats need to hold their
convention next year, national convention, in Philadelphia.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, New England is celebrating its Super Bowl win, and the
Patriots are expected to arrive in home in Boston`s Logan Airport in the
next few minutes. But they`re arriving home to a midst -- well, in the
midst of a huge winter storm, the second in a week.

NBC`s Miguel Almaguer is in Boston and joins us with the latest. Are they
going to be able to get off the plane?

MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: They will, Chris, if they`re wearing
jackets. It`s bitterly cold out here. The temperatures are going to
plummet over the next 24 hours.

I should point out Boston has had some 14 hours of steady snow here, and
also those whipping winds, where actually, on Boylston Street -- this is
the parade route and this is a problem, the reason why the parade has been
delayed until Wednesday.

The street is a mess. There are mounds and piles of snow five, six feet
high in this area. And it`s only getting worse. We`re going to see steady
snow over the next few hours, and then it`s going to turn to bitterly cold

Roads across this region are a mess. In New York, there were several
spinouts. At least two people were killed on the roadways. The conditions
here only getting worse as it gets colder.

But the good news is the snow will stop overnight. It`s just going to be
those frigid temperatures they`re going to have to deal with. School has
been canceled tomorrow, as well as, of course, as you know, the parade has
been pushed back until Wednesday.

When the Patriots do make their way out here, it`s certainly going to be
cold, but probably not snowing, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Great story. But Boston is strong, Miguel. You know that.
Anyway, Miguel Almaguer, thank you, up in Boston, for that report.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie today opened a Pandora`s box over public health, suggesting at a
press conference in London today that parents should have more of a choice
when it comes to vaccinating their kids from infectious diseases like


QUESTION: Do you think Americans should vaccinate their kids? Is the
measles vaccine safe?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: All I can say is that we vaccinate
ours. So you know, that`s the best expression I can give you of my
opinion. You know, it`s much more important, I think, when you think as a
parent, than what you think as a public official. And that`s what we do.

But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in
things, as well. So that`s the balance that the government has to decide.
It depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the
rest. And so I didn`t say I`m leaving (ph) people the option. What I`m
saying is that you have to have that balance in considering parental
concerns because no parent -- no parent cares about anything more than they
care about protecting their own child`s health.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a baseball player trying to tag every base at
once. Anyway, his statement comes as the country here, our country, is
going through the worst measles outbreak in two decades, a disease many
thought had been eliminated just 15 years ago.

In 2014, the number of reported cases of measles was tripled out of
previous years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with 644
cases across 27 states. Well, that spike is attributed to the growing
anti-vaccination movement in this country, those who believe there are
dangers associated with childhood vaccinations since the -- despite the
scientific evidence that there is not.

Well, President Obama was far less ambiguous on the subject when he was
asked about it over the weekend.


pretty indisputable. We`ve looked at this again and again. There is every
reason to get vaccinated. There aren`t reasons to not get vaccinated.

QUESTION: Are you telling parents you should get your kids vaccinated?

OBAMA: You should get your kids vaccinated.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty clear. But later this morning, Governor
Christie appeared to walk back his comments, such as they were, with a
statement from his office. Quote, "The governor believes vaccines are an
important public health protection, and with a disease like measles, there
is no question kids should be vaccinated." "There is no question kids
should be vaccinated"!

Joining me now is former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who`s a medical
doctor, of course, and "USA Today`s" Susan (sic). Dr. Dean, I have to tell
you, I don`t understand what game Christie`s playing there because he
seemed to be saying everything at once. And the only reason I can think
he`s playing that game is for trying to reach the Republican hard right or
somebody out there on the yahoo regions that doesn`t like science. I don`t
know what he`s up to. What do you think he`s up to?

think he`s pandering. This is -- you know, this is the second time for him
on public health. In general, politicians shouldn`t talk about something
they don`t know anything about. He clearly doesn`t know anything about
public health.

He tried to quarantine some lady who came back from Liberia who was -- who
did not need to be quarantined, and she fortunately -- he actually stuck
her in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey, and she finally got to go
up to -- got to go up to Maine, which is where she lived, and the governor
up there carried on about it.

You know, there`s a science associated with medicine, and people probably
ought to listen to what it is before they come to these kinds of
conclusions, especially people who are running for president.

MATTHEWS: Susan, I didn`t understand -- I listened closely. I read what
he said before. He was asked about the measles epidemic, and then he ended
up saying we ought to have parental choice of some kind. And then his
office put back, Well, in cases of measles, they should be vaccinated,
which is what he was asked about. So what game is he playing?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, you know, if he`s --

DEAN: Well, you know, I think you`re -- I`m sorry. Go ahead, Susan.

MATTHEWS: That`s for Susan first. I`m sorry.

PAGE: Well, so let`s look at the politics of this. I do not think this
makes much sense for Governor Christie because, in the first place, if he`s
pandering the way Dr. Dean says and there`s a perception of that, that`s
quite at odds with the kind of truth-teller, "I`ll stand up and tell you
like it is" image he has.

And if he`s pandering, he`s pandering to a group of voters that are not
really his voters. I mean, the voters who are alarmed about vaccinations
and likely to disbelieve that they`re the right thing to do for their kids
and they homeschool their kids, this is not the Christie consolation

Those are voters who will go to somebody like Mike Huckabee or Rand Paul.

MATTHEWS: Well, another prospective Republican candidate weighed in on the
vaccination debate today, suggesting vaccinations can cause mental

Here`s Senator Rand Paul on CNBC earlier today -- earlier this evening.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I have heard of many tragic cases of
walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental
disorders after vaccines.

I`m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they`re a good thing, but
I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn`t own your


PAUL: Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom.


MATTHEWS: Dr. Dean, Governor Dean, that seems like a pretty loosey-goosey
case of causality here. If you heard what he said there, they ended up
having problems after they were vaccinated.

Well, they -- people have problems after they, you know, do everything, go
to New Jersey for the weekend. I don`t know. Everything happens after
something else happens. This causality argument I think is pretty weakly
explained there. He didn`t explain how vaccination leads to autism or
anything else.

DEAN: Well, first of all, it doesn`t lead to autism, and that was grossly
discredited. I mean, that never should have been put out in the press 15
or 20 years ago, when it happened.

Second of all, I actually believe this disqualifies Rand Paul from becoming
president of the United States. If you`re a physician and you say what he
just said, then you are clearly willing to override any set of facts that
you ought to know. It`s one thing for Christie to blunder his way through
this and try to pander.

For Rand Paul to deny his entire education as a physician -- I assume he
went to a good medical school and knows something about medicine -- that is
truly appalling. And he -- a guy like that should never be let near the
White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, he may not be.

Anyway, in 2009, in a campaign letter, Governor Christie, himself, also
appeared to suggest a link between vaccinations and autism in children --
quote -- "I have met families affected by autism from across the state.
Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey`s
highest-in-the-nation vaccine mandates. I stand with them now and will
stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental
involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children."

This is so much part of homeschooling, all this sort of, you know, get out
of the government, get the government out of the way, the government`s bad,
anything the government does is bad. And it`s like this --

DEAN: So, Chris --

MATTHEWS: -- sort of -- anyway, back to you, then back to Susan.

Go ahead, Governor.


Well, just very quickly, just -- this is -- look, just so I don`t want to
be unfair to parents who are legitimately worried and anxious -- well,
they`re not legitimately, but they`re anxious and worried, and that

But the issue is this. There are 310 million people in this country. A
fairly significant number of them are either very small, that is, too young
to be vaccinated and, therefore, at risk, or immunocompromised. That is,
they have usually cancer or something like that.

Those people are at risk of losing their lives. Before vaccines, we used
to lose almost 1,000 kids a year to measles. So, this is not something you
can just choose for your own kids. This affects every kid in your school
that your kid goes to. This affects a great many people besides you.

PAGE: And, of course, that goes to real consequences of just having this
debate, because it feeds the concerns of parents who maybe have kids at the
age that they should be getting vaccinated to worry about whether it`s the
right thing to do it.

It makes them, perhaps, not vaccinate their kids. That affects, as
Governor Dean says, other families who for whatever reason their kids
haven`t been vaccinated. That`s why we see the numbers that we have seen
in this measles epidemic across this country. So, this is not really just
an academic debate that politicians are having.


PAGE: And it seems irresponsible, in the absence of being able to cite
actual medical evidence that shows what they`re saying has some validity.

MATTHEWS: Well, a 2011 study by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control,
found out that 40 percent of American parents either delayed or refuse some
vaccinations for their children.

The data from Pew Research shows a generational shift in thinking on
childhood vaccinations; 79 percent of adults over the age of 65 agreed that
vaccination should be required, while just 20 percent said parents should
decide, while among young adults 18 to 29 years old, just 59 percent said
vaccinations should be required, while 40 percent said parents should

So, there you see the impact of all the scare, concern.

Governor Dean, this reminds me of something that happened when we were
growing up in high school and these debates would happen about fluoridation
of water, because to save everybody`s teeth, it was decided that it was
healthier for everybody to have some fluoride in our water, so that your
teeth would be stronger. And the statistics are there. We have better
teeth than a lot of countries do. And we know that.

And the question is, is this something like -- and the word went out on the
hard right wing, oh, this is something -- it`s a commie plot, a communist
plot to sort of, I don`t know what, euthanize us or make us weak or stupid
or whatever the plan was. It was supposed to do something to weaken us and
it got all over out there on the right wing, the whispers, you know what
fluoride does to you.

And then we found out that the Soviets fluoride their own people. But I
don`t know. Whatever.

DEAN: In fairness, it`s not just the right. There`s also some people on
the left who believe this often and sort of higher-income groups that --
this sort of an entitlement not to do this.

And I understand where it comes from. Look, there are a lot of things we
eat that are not good for us, a lot of antibiotics in meat that we
shouldn`t have, hormones injected into chickens and meat and things like
that. I understand why people are worried about this stuff.

But I think part of it, Chris, is I grew up when -- I mean, I knew people
who had had polio who were limping around, who were in wheelchairs as a
result of that. My step-grandfather had had polio and limped for his
entire adult life. So -- but I think, for our age, we have seen what
happens when you don`t have vaccines.


DEAN: I think that`s something the 18-to-29-year-olds you cited in the
poll have never seen. And they don`t understand what the real danger to
the public is by not getting vaccinated.

MATTHEWS: And a lot of the young people today are not so pro-choice
because they don`t know what it was like to live in an environment where
you didn`t have a choice.

PAGE: And if we go in this direction on vaccinations, maybe we will once
again have a situation where people see the consequences of having these
diseases come back.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I hope not. I hope that`s not the only corrective
we have at hand.

Anyway, thank you, Dr. and Governor Dean for joining us. It`s great to
have your expertise, sir. I mean that. And Susan Page, as always.

Up next, had the Seattle Seahawks won last night`s Super Bowl, a guy named
Chris Matthews might have been the MVP. That`s a very good bet, by the
way, four receptions, big ones. He has got the great name, but he has an
even better story personally. We`re going to tell you the story of the
other Chris Matthews, maybe the better one.

And this is HARDBALL.

Well, I`m not that nice -- the other one.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

More than 114 million viewers watched the New England Patriots take home
the win in Super Bowl XLIX, according to NBC. That`s the largest audience,
catch this, for anything in television history.

It was a close game, of course, but there was one player with the Seattle
Seahawks with a scarily familiar name, at least to me, his name, Chris
Matthews, of course. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we were talking about Chris Matthews.
Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, nicknamed him Hardball for Chris
Matthews of MSNBC, who`s here at the game today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Chris -- this Chris Matthews, the Seahawks` Chris
Matthews said, I can`t believe it, every time I Wikipedia myself, it keeps
coming up the other guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Here we go, a little Hardball With Chris
Matthews, down the field. This is the one.


MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. What a catch. Wow.

Anyway, despite the Seahawks` loss, Matthews had a great night, scoring a
touchdown just before halftime. He also had plenty of fans on social media
throughout the game. The hashtag #ChrisMatthews has been tweeted out
thousands of times since last night.

But what`s even more amazing is this other Chris Matthews` backstory. This
time last year, the 25-year-old was playing for the Canadian Football
League and working two jobs in the off-season, one as a security guard and
another at a Foot Locker. Anyway, he got the call from the Seahawks in
February to try out, and his response at first, according to "Sports
Illustrated," was: "I don`t get out of work until 9:00 p.m. I don`t know
if I can make it."

Well, a few minutes later, Matthews` agent called, saying, "What are you
thinking? Get yourself home, pack up and go. Are you out of your mind?"

Well, it turns out Matthews not only made the flight to the tryout, but he
also made the Seahawks` practice squad. He was then bumped up to the
active roster in December. That`s this past December, a month-and-a-half.
And not only even two months later, he`s scoring a touchdown in the Super
Bowl. That`s a Cinderella story.

Up next: President Obama`s still got that swagger. He has laid out his
priorities for this year, big spending on infrastructure and a tax hike for
the wealthy to pay for it. And he`s daring the Republicans to say no to
the deal.

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



Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was charged with murder and attempted
murder. It`s related to an alleged hit-and-run that killed one man and
injured another. His $2 million bail was revoked.

NFL Hall of Famer and network announcer Warren Sapp was arrested in
Arizona. He allegedly solicited and assaulted a prostitute.

And the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots back on home turf. The
team`s plane just touched down in Boston. The victory parade, that is
Wednesday -- now back to HARDBALL.


better, but you laid out a bunch of proposals that you know cannot get
through this Congress that is run by Republicans now. Isn`t that kind of

that. I think Republicans that believe that we should be building our
infrastructure, the question is, how do we pay for it? That`s a
negotiation that we should have. I assume..

GUTHRIE: You`re offering tax hikes, you know, for the healthy. That`s
something they couldn`t even get through the Congress when it was run by


OBAMA: But, Savannah, my job is to present the right ideas, and if the
Republicans think they have got a better idea, they should present them.
But my job is not to trim my sails and not tell the American people what we
should be doing.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, today, President Obama revealed his budget proposal. And it mirrors
the goals he laid out in his State of the Union. It`s unabashedly liberal.
It`s a political document, of course. And while its chances of getting
through a Republican-controlled Congress are slim to none, it does set the
tone for the kinds of fights to come.

The proposal gets revenue from taxes on the rich and corporations and uses
that money for infrastructure projects, like roads, bridges, and mass
transit. And it spends money on proposals like free community college
aimed at Democratic constituencies, of course.

Bloomberg`s Jonathan Allen joins us now. He lays out the challenge Obama
has posed to Republicans -- quote -- "The spending blueprint challenges
Republicans to make politically thorny choices between defending current
tax rates for the rich and Obama`s proposals to boost spending for the
middle class, the Pentagon, and companies that build domestic
infrastructure. It also plays to the president`s Democratic base with
proposals to increase spending for domestic programs such as education and
child care and expanding Social Security benefits for some, for same-sex

Jonathan Allen joins me right now in the roundtable, along with Huffington
Post`s Sabrina Siddiqui -- Siddiqui?


MATTHEWS: Pretty good.

And "Mother Jones" magazine`s David Corn, a very easy name to remember and
to pronounce.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Sabrina.

I want you to go.

First of all, you started with this piece. It seems to me that you go
where there`s -- where the money is and you go where there might be a
chance for a deal. Now, Republicans have always believed in highways.
They love it. Construction jobs, companies make money off that, not just
workers, but businesses. They love bringing home the bacon. We`re going
to get the road fixed in your neighborhood, we`re going to get the bridge
fixed, we`re going to get sewers paid for, all kinds water projects.

All that stuff has always been immensely popular with Republican members of
Congress, and corporate tax reform of some kind to lower the rates.


MATTHEWS: That`s the door opener for two doors opening here.


The president is daring Republicans to basically vote against taxing
corporations that keep profits overseas and taking that money and using it
for infrastructure. And what you see today is a twisting in the business
community. They want the infrastructure projects. They want the money
spent on that.

But they obviously don`t want the taxes. And even within the business
community, tech companies, pharmaceutical companies, they get hit really
hard by this. But there are other companies that make roads, bridges, work
on the waterways, and they want to see some of this spending. He`s really
trying to divide Republicans here and peel some of them off and bring them
over to Democratic constituencies, doing the same thing by offering more
money for the Defense Department in exchange for domestic programs.

MATTHEWS: So, Sabrina, the question to you is, is the -- where`s the
politics in this? I know where the parties stand. But when you go for the
middle, is the middle more concerned about income inequality right now?
Are they more concerned about protecting the rich so they can invest more?

SIDDIQUI: Well, I think the reality is that --

MATTHEWS: Which way? There`s an answer. There`s a question here. Which
one is it? Where`s the politics now? Is it fighting the problem of income
inequality or is it the old thing of softening the bed of the rich?


SIDDIQUI: Fighting income inequality.

I think even Republicans, you have heard them acknowledge a lot more in
recent months the need to address those Americans who feel left out of this
economic recovery, because, as the positive news abounds about the Obama
administration`s economic progress, they have to find a new area to go
after. And that`s those Americans who aren`t actually feeling the

One of the things that Republicans face in terms of a challenge is that we
finally got them to admit that the rich are getting richer. The problem
is, the proposals to actually address that issue are ones that face deep
divisions within their party or pose deep divisions within their party.

MATTHEWS: What are they for?

SIDDIQUI: What they`re for? There are some things they are for. Now,
Paul Ryan did say he would be open to extending, for example, the earned
income tax credit. That`s a low-wage subsidy to childless adults.

They also are interested in reforming the corporate tax code in some way.
It`s worth noting that the idea of taking money from overseas profits and
putting that into spending toward infrastructure is something that Dave
Camp, the former chair of the Ways and Means Committee, had also proposed
at one point in time.


DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: You have to remember, there are also within the
Republican coalition the Tea Partiers who really don`t want any new
spending. They don`t want -- whether it`s highways, they don`t care. They
get voted out of office. They say they don`t care.

And if it comes from Obama, they really don`t care for this. And so, you
know, the old GOP which used to have some -- the Congress used to have
maybe some mayors or governors who had become senators who liked all the
shovel-ready projects that we talked about, particularly in states like
Pennsylvania and Midwestern states like Michigan and Ohio. They`re going
to be up against their right flank. Particularly if it comes with, you
know, attached to tax hikes.

Paul Ryan`s already out there talking about envy economics. Any time you
talk about taxing the rich, the Republicans start to run away, no matter
what it`s for.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s why because they have to pay the piper. Who`s
paying for the campaigns? Anyway, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan -- I
think the Koch brothers like that, don`t they?

Anyway, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee which he is now
challenged the president`s plan on "Meet the Press" yesterday. Let`s


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: What I think the president is trying to do
here is to, again, exploit envy economics. This top-down redistribution
doesn`t work. We`ve been doing it for six years. Look, it may make for
good politics. It doesn`t make for good economic growth.


MATTHEWS: OK. Who`s smart enough to tell me if we`re getting anything
done here or if we`re going to be talking about infrastructure for the next
20 years or actually fix this country? Anybody who gets to travel
overseas, whether you go to Switzerland, or Germany, I was there last year,
or China, I was there this year with my wife. She`s in the hotel business.
She brings me along.

CORN: What a deal for you.

MATTHEWS: You see the world passing us. America used to be the ones that
had the railroad across the continent.

CORN: Airports.

MATTHEWS: We had the best planes, the best airports. Now, you get the
best airport in Johannesburg or anywhere in China. When are we going to
catch up?

SIDDIQUI: Realistically speaking, we`re not going to catch up under the
Obama administration. As Dave was talking about, there are too many
Republicans in Congress who oppose giving him any of those larger --

MATTHEWS: What`s he willing to put on the table? What`s the president
willing to cut to pay for infrastructure? Doesn`t he just go up -- doesn`t
he have to put up something on the table is.

SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s what remains to be seen, what he might be willing
to offer them. I think that they -- we have to also see whether now that
they have control of both changes of Congress, they feel they have more
leverage in some of these showdowns over the death ceiling, over funding
the government. They`re already, of course, playing games with DHS
funding. So --


CORN: It`s a clash of fundamentals because the things that they want, at
least the base of the party, go completely against what Obama wants to do.
So, what can he give them? They want low tax cuts and no government. They
think government spending is the problem.

So, Obama wants to get the infrastructure going, invest in education.
There`s a law in this budget, Jonathan, for NIH spending, medical research.
You think people can get behind that?

Most Republicans -- a lot of Republicans don`t want any of this. So, what
do you offer up to get them off the dime? I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: They might do chained CPI. We don`t know what they`re going to

JONATHAN ALLEN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, the Highway Trust Fund is running
out of money. So, they`re going to have to do something to keep alive just
the basic base level. There are a lot of other ideas in this tax plan for

MATTHEWS: Let`s be honest.

ALLEN: You might see an increase in the gas tax. The White House isn`t
ruling that out right now. You`ve heard some Republicans on Capitol Hill
start to say they might do that. They have to find some money to keep road
projects going.

MATTHEWS: I know this sounds very traditional, but we`re spending a lot of
money we don`t have. Debt, debt, debt. We`re going to add $6 trillion
debt right in this document the president came out with today, $6 trillion.

The fact there`s a lot of things we`re not even paying for, let alone
coughing up a few bucks to pay for something.

CORN: We`re doing it less than we were a few years ago.

MATTHEWS: That`s a great argument. We owe more money than we make.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, what did Mike Huckabee mean when he appeared to be comparing
gay to drinking alcohol or using profanity?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, last week we showed you how John McCain went off some Code
Pink protesters who disrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and
called for Henry Kissinger to be charged with war crimes. Well, McCain
called those protesters "low life scum".

Well, over the weekend, he was still fuming. Here he is.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think they`re terrible people. OK? I
think they`re terrible people that would do that to a 91-year-old man with
a broken shoulder that to physically threaten him. That is -- that is
beyond any normal behavior that I have ever observed.


MATTHEWS: Well, Senator McCain called Kissinger one of the great states me
statesmen of the 20th century which is by many people`s standards

We`ll be right back.



particularly in the establishment and those who live on the either left
coast or those who live up in the bubbles of New York and Washington are
convinced that if we don`t capitulate on the same-sex marriage issue, and
if we don`t raise the white flag of surrender, and just accept the
inevitable, then we`re going to be losers. I tell you, Tim, it is the
absolute opposite of that. And if the Republicans want to lose guys like
me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people, go ahead
and just abdicate on this issue, and while you`re at it, go ahead and say
abortion doesn`t matter either, because at that point you lose me, I`m


MATTHEWS: I`m gone. That`s pretty strong statement by Mike Huckabee.

We`re back.

That was the governor of Arkansas past. He vowed to leave the Republican
Party there if establishment leaders don`t hold fast on their opposition to
gay marriage.

Well, this weekend, CNN`s Dana Bash asked Huckabee how he could square
those convictions to his openness about having gay friends. He wrote about
that in his book. Let`s watch.


DANA BASH, CNN: You do write very eloquently about it being a religious
conviction to oppose -- to oppose gay marriage, but then you also talk
about the biblical backings of being heterosexual. So, given that, how do
you kind of square that religious conviction with being open to having gay

HUCKABEE: People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not
necessarily my lifestyle. I don`t shut people out of my circle or out of
my life because they have a different point of view. I don`t drink
alcohol, but gosh, a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know,
I don`t use profanity, but believe me, I got a lot of friends who do.

Unless, you know, I get a new version of the Scriptures, it`s really not my
place to say, OK, I`m just going to evolve. It`s like asking somebody
who`s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.


MATTHEWS: Well, Huckabee might have stirred a lot of -- some growling
here, many of which sounded like this one from "Chicago Tribune" -- "Mike
Huckabee compares being gay to using alcohol, profanity."

I`m back with our roundtable, Jonathan, Sabrina and David.

I don`t know how diverse we are here. But, David, what do you think about
this comment?

CORN: I ordered shrimp in delis. I don`t know what he`s talking about.

MATTHEWS: Shell fish.

CORN: Yes, I know, some juicy shell fish. Maybe he doesn`t know that.

But the thing is about -- what he`s talking -- again, being gay is a
lifestyle, it`s a choice --


MATTHEWS: So, does it make a person a bad person who still believes in
nurture not nature?

CORN: Well, that (INAUDIBLE). But I think is, I have say, he says he is
not evolving and he actually is a little bit.

MATTHEWS: Here we go. Sarcasm in the warning here.

CORN: No, I`ll telling you, 2007, when he ran last time, I found a book he
had written a few years later, in which he compared homosexuality with
pedophilia and necrophilia. So, it`s about as bad as you can get. He`s
not doing that anymore. He`s just comparing it to drinking. So, that I
think is evolution.

MATTHEWS: Being gay is like carnal knowledge of a cadaver.

CORN: That`s what he used to say, that`s what he used to say. So --

ALLEN: Alcoholism, you know, I`m not a scientist, and neither is Mike
Huckabee, but alcoholism has a genetic component. I like to think
profanity does too, if you heard my mother talked when she was alive. That
gets passed down.

But the thing, to be serious about this for a second, he is expressing a
view that is not bigoted about policy, per se, but about the people. And
he is basically saying they`re making a choice to do something he finds to
be reprehensible. And, you know, forgetting the science for a minute, that
could turn off a lot of voters and certainly -- maybe not in the Republican
primary, but certainly in the general election.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I don`t think we have to decide nature versus nurture.
I`m with nature, because every time I talk to someone who is gay, they tell
me very early in life, they knew their orientation. They just knew it.

It wasn`t an argument or a stuff call on who they were. So I`m sort of
with the nature thing, but it could be something that affect you at a very
young age, we don`t know, I don`t know, you know?

SIDDIQUI: And Huckabee wants to position himself as a values candidate and
sort of standard bearer for the socially conservative wing of the party,
which is already shaping up to be a crowded space, with Ben Carson and Ted
Cruz. He is trying to get out ahead by generating these headlines. But
the issue is --

MATTHEWS: Let`s hold on for a second, Sabrina, you`re new here and I want
to try something on you. Could it be that he means it. This is what he


MATTHEWS: We always assume those guys are pols. Sometimes, they tell you
what they think.

SIDDIQUI: If you want to quote previous comments -- referencing those
previous comments, he made, this is about as far as Mike Huckabee can go
when you look at the turning tide of support for same sex marriage. He
said he`s never going to evolve on the issue. He`ll leave the party if
they embrace gay marriage. So, the best he can do is find some less, in
his mind, demeaning way to explain his view to homosexuality.

CORN: I think he is trimming his sails compare to previous position. You
know, I`ll go drinking with a gay person, he is essentially saying, which
he wouldn`t have said before. I do think because that field is crowded, it
gets him attention. He gets talk and radio shows.

But in terms of a political strategy, I don`t think this is a winning
strategy. He won Iowa in 2008 but he didn`t go anywhere after that and now
he has more competition.

ALLEN: In a primary, I think it`s a very good strategy for him, and it
does as Sabrina points out, had the benefit of being what he believes.


MATTHEWS: I think that`s true about him. I think that`s him. I think
that`s Huckabee.

SIDDIQUI: And one of the thing strategically, though, is that there was a
recent poll that showed among likely Republican voters in Iowa, the area
where he is boxing himself in, is the top three issues that they identified
their priorities where terrorism, the deficit, and jobs and the economy.
Social issues like abortion and gay marriage only 7 percent said they care


Anyway, thank you. Nice to have you. Nice to have you, Jon. Nice to have
you, David. The shell fish is (INAUDIBLE) --


MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

CORN: He has to get out more.

MATTHEWS: When we return, let I will say why I think Philadelphia -- you
know why -- I think Philadelphia should be the convention city in 2016 for
a lot of good reasons. I`ll give you one, a really good one. It`ll be an
exciting convention. It means something.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

This weekend, "The Washington Post" was kind enough to publish my case for
the Democrats to hold their 2016 national convention in Philadelphia. When
I was growing up in that city, my mother took my brothers and me to see the
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. She also took us to Carpenters Hall
and, of course, Betsy Ross`s House. She wanted her children to know the
history of our city which was vital to the beginnings of our country.

Well, these historic sites are within quick walking distance of
Philadelphia`s convention center. When Democratic delegates from all over
the country arrive in July 2016 they could visit much of their country`s
revolutionary history without leaving Market Street.

But the greater opportunity is what a 2016 Philadelphia convention could do
on television. Consider the themes at the heart of the current national
debate over voting rights, marriage equality and pay equity.

Now consider the opening words of our founding document.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

An African American could speak proudly of the election of Barack Obama and
of the continued struggle against voter suppression.

A gay couple could talk about marriage equality and their right to the
pursuit of happiness.

A female delegate could make the case for equal treatment and pay in the

By gathering in iconic Philadelphia, Democrats could lay claim to not just
the flag but what it stands for.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



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