updated 2/20/2015 4:29:49 PM ET 2015-02-20T21:29:49

Show: HARDBALL
Date: February 19, 2015
Guest: Ron Fournier, Michael Crowley, Michael Crowley, Danny Vargas, Liz
Mair, John O`Regan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: They`re saying he doesn`t love America!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

And that`s the charge out there, that the president of the United
States doesn`t love his country. And it`s coming from the man who proudly
carries the title "America`s mayor." Is this what it`s come to?

What`s hitting us in the news right now tonight are birthers like
Donald Trump who say President Obama was secretly born in Africa and
smuggled here to bring down the country, now joined by those who say Barack
Obama lacks a true loyalty to Western civilization. Is this how we face
the danger from ISIS and other terrorists, by dividing between those who
claim a deep commitment to this country and those who argue others do not?
Is this how we forge a strong America in reaction to the horror of
beheadings and burnings alive, by dividing ourselves?

Let`s find out tonight what Rudy Giuliani is getting at here. What
deep vein in the country`s psyche does this president fail to touch for
him? What gut expression of Americanism is Barack Obama failing to give
us?

Well, Howard Dean was chairman of the Democratic National Committee
and Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican National Committee. Both
are MSNBC political analysts.

Anyway, last night, while speaking to a group of conservatives in New
York City, Rudy Giuliani unloaded on President Obama`s handling of
terrorism. He said, "I do not believe -- and I know this is a horrible
thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He
doesn`t love you. He doesn`t love me. And he wasn`t brought up the way
you or I were brought up, to love this country of ours."

Anyway, there were more from Giuliani -- there was more from Giuliani
today on Fox News. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: First of all, I`m not
questioning his patriotism. He`s a patriot, I`m sure. What I`m saying is
that in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to
hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear Bill Clinton say about
how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often
than other American presidents.

I don`t also believe he expresses the love of Western civilization
that he should or an understanding of Western civilization or what Western
civilization has brought to the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Governor, what`s he saying there about this lack of
connection to Western civilization, his lack of love for America, and at
the same time saying in some kind of a demurral, Of course, he`s -- I`m not
questioning his patriotism. I don`t know what that all means. Why`s he
talking like that about the president?

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOVERNOR, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: You know, I
actually have come to know Rudy in our post-political careers, and I
actually think he`s serious. I don`t think he`s just kind of catering to
the right-wing nutjobs. I think there`s just a disconnect between some
people who just don`t understand what Barack Obama is about. It`s a
shocking thing to say. I mean, I couldn`t believe he doubled down the next
day. I also might...

MATTHEWS: What would you think if somebody said about you on national
television, You know, Howard Dean, he`s a liberal, and by the way, I don`t
think he loves this country?

DEAN: Right. And you know, I think that`s -- frankly, that stuff is
so far out that only the real hate wing of the Republican Party is going to
accept that. And that`s not very big. It really isn`t. An average person
-- if somebody...

MATTHEWS: Do you have a radio in your car?

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Well, no, I don`t -- but those people have -- you know, Rush
Limbaughs of the world have made their money on hate. That`s what they`re
doing.

MATTHEWS: Yes. They`re listening and they`re repeating it.

DEAN: Yes, but that...

MATTHEWS: They love it.

DEAN: You know, Rush Limbaugh has an ever-shrinking audience, and
it`s not an accident. And it`s not an accident that major corporations
pull their advertising because the average person -- look, I would never
have said that George W. Bush doesn`t love America. It wouldn`t have
occurred to me to say that. We had different views of what should happen
in America. But I find this an astonishing thing to say. And if I were
him, I`d either fire, or his press secretary -- if I were his press
secretary, I`d probably would quit.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he said it anyway, Michael.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He did.

MATTHEWS: Why is Rudy Giuliani, who most of us have respect for what
he did during 9/11 a lot -- and we also like his sort of street-wise
manner. I like it. I grew up with guys like him. I think he`s -- I don`t
dislike the guy. I totally dislike what he just said.

STEELE: You know, I kind of fall in that camp. You know, any time
you start a sentence with "I probably shouldn`t say this"...

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: ... then you probably shouldn`t say it because what comes
next is not going to be good for anybody, especially you.

MATTHEWS: Who`s it good for? You say it`s non-political. You think
it was truly believed. It may well be truly -- what is this thing about he
doesn`t seem like Ronald Reagan? He doesn`t seem like Bill Clinton?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s, by the way, the new trope. (INAUDIBLE) not Bill
Clinton. That`s a little number they pull.

STEELE: Howard touched on something that I think it`s important, that
you really can`t step over, and that is the way we look at a Bill Clinton
and a Ronald Reagan, how they spoke and how they conveyed their emotions
about this country is clearly very different from this president, and I
would submit even with George W. Bush, you know, again, who like Howard
said, would never say he didn`t love America, but even his expressions
after 9/11...

MATTHEWS: OK, watch him because I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I will try to find a smidgen of justice for (INAUDIBLE) but
there is none. Here is -- I think is what they`re trying to talk about,
Giuliani and his crowd, when they -- you know, like, the birthers like
Trump.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: He`s from Africa or somewhere. He`s not one of us, he`s
one of, what, them...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: See, I think he is catering to the far right. I don`t actually
think Donald Trump believes that. I think he`s just catering to the -- the
nutjobs.

MATTHEWS: What`s the -- what is the mayor New York -- former mayor of
New York, "America`s mayor," saying when he says the president doesn`t
connect with Western civilization?

DEAN: That`s just gibberish. I mean...

MATTHEWS: Sounds to me like neo-birtherism.

DEAN: ... that`s complete nonsense.

MATTHEWS: It`s almost like intelligence design birtherism.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s what the president -- let`s take a look at -
- here`s George W. -- I think that`s what you were talking about, Michael.
We all remember this. And we did like it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you! And the
people...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all
of us soon!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was a thrilling moment for America, a thrilling moment
of resilience, with the people who`d just gone through the hell and all
those people dead from jumping off that building, and there`s the
firefighter there with him, laughing, too. That was American resilience!

STEELE: Juxtapose that, Chris, against the announcement by the White
House of the beheading of American citizens and the killing more recently
of the young woman. And what was the president`s actions after that?

MATTHEWS: You think too cool for school?

STEELE: Going off to play golf...

MATTHEWS: Too school (ph).

STEELE: Too cool for school. And that disconnect that Howard
referenced translates to a lot of Americans as...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... hang that on you, did you reference that "too cool for
school" or he`s just too cool?

DEAN: No, I don`t think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s what Giuliani`s talking about.

DEAN: Maybe. I don`t know. I never had a big problem with that.
And I actually think the president did what all presidents do. Shortly
after the beheadings, we bombed the living hell out of ISIS and started it
and a sustained effort to this day. So I think if you compare George W.
Bush and Barack Obama, you get a very different demeanor, but you get the
same action.

STEELE: No, you don`t.

DEAN: People who harm America get harmed themselves...

STEELE: No, you don`t!

MATTHEWS: ... as they should.

STEELE: You get only half the action because, yes, the president
bombed the enemy as he perceived it, but again, his communication to the
American people was something that was lacking.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me talk about Giuliani, the fact that he showed up
on "Fox and Friends" the next morning after giving a speech that night --
maybe it was scheduled ahead of time, but I think he was trying to repair
some damage there. Anyway, I think you should go a little more repairing,
Mr. Mayor. I do mean that out of respect. Just take it back "he doesn`t
love America," just take it back. It`s better to end it.

Anyway, outraged Republicans typically point to three recent examples
of White House soft talk, if you will. The first is when President Obama
compared Christianity to ISIS`s brutality by invoking the Crusades. Here
he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We see Isis, a brutal,
vicious death cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable
acts of barbarism. Humanity`s been grappling with these questions
throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this
is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the
Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the second is the president`s refusal to label it
actually Islamic extremism. Here`s the president yesterday defending that
decision not to call terrorism "Islamic terrorism."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We are not at war with Islam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you!

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

The terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject
their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who
kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or
Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People
are responsible for violence and terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And third is what State Department deputy spokesperson
Marie Harf told this show on Monday about the war against ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: We cannot kill our
way out of this war. We need in the longer term -- medium and longer term
to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether
it`s lack of opportunity for jobs...

We can work with countries around the world to help improve their
governance. We can help them build their economy so they can have job
opportunities for these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, the whole knock across the board from the
Republican side is that the president doesn`t have a gut reaction to ISIS,
to the beheadings, to the burnings alive, to the very people we`re watching
on television. People are angry beyond belief, and he`s not showing that
kind of -- I guess this is what it`s all about...

DEAN: OK, so...

MATTHEWS: ... that kind of visceral rage that a lot of us feel.

DEAN: All right, so I get that...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) that`s it.

DEAN: I get it. I get it. Maybe it would be great if he did what
George Bush did or Bill Clinton did. But he`s right on all three counts.
First of all, the Islamic terrorists or whatever want us to call them
Islamists. Why? Because that cloaks them in a religion that a billion
people believe in. In fact, the president is absolutely right to say this
is not about Islam, this is about a bunch of thugs and murderers and
terrorists who we need to get rid of. That deprives them of the very
rationale that they`re using to recruit people.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

DEAN: So the truth is, the president is right on all three counts.
And I agree with you that he would do better if he would show some outrage.
And people like that, and probably he should, but he happens to be right on
all three policies.

STEELE: Well, the president may be right on it, but Howard, in the
last 30 seconds, you expressed it better than he has in the last two years.
And that`s the problem.

MATTHEWS: I think we agree on that. It was well said. We ought to
cling (ph) to what you just said because I do think -- it`s all propaganda,
both directions.

DEAN: Of course it is.

MATTHEWS: It`s probably -- you`re trying to win an argument. These
people obviously do believe it`s part of their religion. We just don`t
agree that should be their religion, that they should be using their
religion, but they believe it. They`re going to paradise! How can you say
it`s not part of their religion?

STEELE: And that`s -- that`s...

MATTHEWS: Their religion.

DEAN: I think -- personally, I think that makes them crazy.

STEELE: They`re using the tenets of a faith to justify their actions.
And that`s why you hear the pressure for moderate Muslims to speak out.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: And again, the president has the bully pulpit, and he can use
those moderate Muslims as a backdrop to help make that argument.

MATTHEWS: You can`t go (INAUDIBLE) You can`t go through Christian
history and say, Well, that guy`s a real Christian, that guy`s not a
Christian, Martin Luther was right, he was wrong. You can`t get into that.

But anyway, I think you said it very well, and I will not speak longer
on this.

Thank you, Governor Howard Dean. Thank you, Michael Steele.

Coming up -- The White House is under fire for refusing to label -- we
talked about this -- the brutal acts of terrorism in the Mideast as acts
of, quote, "Islamic extremism." My question, why do they want President
Obama to brand this as an East versus West war?

Also -- this is unsettling stuff -- analysts say -- they say they`ve
detected a possible American accent of a masked man in a recent ISIS video
-- you know, the one killing the Coptic Christians. We`ve got the audio
and a linguistics expert. By the way, we`ve got you, too. You listen and
decide whether you think this guy`s talking American or not. I`m
questioning it.

Finally, it`s HARDBALL politics at the Oscars this weekend, the
Academy Awards, of course, Hollywood`s biggest night, is Sunday. Who are
you sure is going to win? We`re going to ask three journalists to make
sure picks.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this tough, unnecessary and wrong attack
by Rudy Giuliani on the president.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: A new Quinnipiac poll shows there are sizable chunks of
voters in several key battleground states who are put off by the Bush name.
Nearly 40 percent of Colorado voters said they`d be less likely to vote for
Jeb Bush because of the legacies of his father and his brother. Only 8
percent said it would make them more likely to vote for him.

In Iowa, it`s a margin of 35 to 8 against the Bush name. In Virginia,
a margin of 35 to 9 against the Bush name. So it looks like what`s in the
name matters if that name happens to be Bush.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back HARDBALL. What`s in a name? And when it
comes to terrorism, apparently a lot. Conservatives are blasting the White
House for refusing to label groups like ISIS Islamic terrorists. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: If you refuse to say
that there are extremist members of the Islamic religion, well, then, it
sounds like you`re living in Mars!

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR We have an administration that
will not even admit that there`s a religious basis underlying what`s going
on.

GEORGE WILL, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: At this point, it is -- it`s beyond
burlesque. It`s pathological. It`s clinical, their inability and
unwillingness to accurately describes things.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: To me, it`s almost like we`re afraid
to confront the enemy. If you don`t identify your enemy, it`s hard to
mobilize support against it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you have the situation where the commander-
in-chief is putting our national security at risk because he`s unwilling to
say we are at war with Islamic terrorists -- they can pretend as much as
they want, but I don`t know that we`ve seen, certainly that I can recall,
an administration so divorced from reality as this current one is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For his part, President Obama defended his careful word
choice. Speaking at a summit on countering violent extremism today, the
president said groups like ISIS use Islam to justify their violence, and
the West shouldn`t play into their trap by promoting the idea the West is
at war with Islam. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These terrorists are
desperate for legitimacy. And all of us have a responsibility to refute
the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam because that is a
falsehood that embraces the terrorists` narrative. Groups like al Qaeda
and ISIL peddle the lie that some of our countries are hostile to Muslims.

If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the
society in which the reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a
sense of injustice upon which extremists prey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Ron Fournier, who`s editorial
director for "The National Journal," and Michael Crowley is senior foreign
affairs correspondent for Politico.

Gentlemen, this -- is this a tempest in a teapot? And what good will
come if the president said, You know, I will call them Muslim SOBs. I will
call them Islamic terrorists. What do you want me to do? I`ll do it.
What would be gained if he did buckle and say, I`m not (sic) going to stop
delineating between the terrorists and religion?

RON FOURNIER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": That`s the irony. He could say
that for the next 48 hours over and over again, and it wouldn`t kill one
terrorist. What it would do, though, is stop playing this game with
Republicans, stop taking their bait, stop letting them dominate the
narrative here. And he would be have then -- have the space to the country
what is going on here, why we`ve got to do all these things, including
military action, including...

MATTHEWS: But in the world, if he starts saying "Islamic bad guys,"
does that give the bad guys -- Howard Dean said a minute ago here -- the
cover of being among their religious followers?

FOURNIER: No, that`s -- that`s -- that`s a name. I mean, you know
what they really want? They want us to declare war against them, and we`re
about to.

MATTHEWS: Well, why should we do it then?

FOURNIER: No, we`re about to declare war...

MATTHEWS: No, declare war on Islam.

FOURNIER: We`re about to declare war on ISIS. That`s what they
really want. I mean, the idea that we`re going to make them any more
stronger by calling it Islamic extremism is really silly. Let`s move
beyond that. Instead, I -- because I -- frankly, I`m not as interested in
a debate over how we`re going to talk about them as I am a debate over how
we`re going to kill them, how we`re going to destroy them.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well...

FOURNIER: And that`s what he should be -- he should be having the
country focused on right now by...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`ve been trying to get people the last week to tell me how
they`re going to kill ISIS.

FOURNIER: Well, that`s what we got to do!

MATTHEWS: And I`m having a hard time with jobs programs and things
like that. I haven`t heard the answer to that one yet.

FOURNIER: Well, and you know why? Because we`re talking about the
talk instead of talking about the fight. And we can have a argument over
how hypocritical Republicans are being...

MATTHEWS: OK, let...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this. You know, when they were hitting
Obama for not loving America and all -- I think I know the turf on which
they`re trying to get traction. I know what they mean. He is too cool for
school. He is almost Sinatra-like in his coolness. When he`s in trouble
politically, he`s so cool, it drives people (INAUDIBLE) I`m more of a
hothead, obviously -- I go crazy.

FOURNIER: Really?

MATTHEWS: When are you -- when are you going to get some excitement
here? When are you -- but politically, what do they get -- what do the
Republicans get out of what Ron was saying? Why do they win the argument
when they say, Call it Islamofascism, call it Islamo this, Islamo that?
They`ve been doing that for years.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, POLITICO: There`s this frame that Republicans have
constructed around Obama that he`s weak and that he`s not a leader, that
he`s not facing up to the real problems in the world, that somehow, he
wants to negotiate with terrorists and bad guys...

MATTHEWS: Is he an apologist for Islam? Is he an apologist for
Islam?

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: No.

MATTHEWS: Is that what they seem to be saying?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that what they`re saying?

CROWLEY: But I don`t know what that means. He`s trying -- he`s
making a correct differentiation between a bunch of basically crazy
fanatics and an enormous worldwide religion.

MATTHEWS: But are they driven by their religious interpretation of
Islam or not?

CROWLEY: Yes, some are these guys are, definitely. There`s no
question.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CROWLEY: If you follow -- if you pay any attention to ISIS, it`s
clear that a lot of these guys are religious zealots who can recite chapter
and verse of the Koran, even if they`re completely warping and distorting
it, perverting it basically.

But they are fundamentally religious guys who are driven by theology.
But that doesn`t mean that we need to talk about it in those terms. I
mean, there are good reasons why it doesn`t make sense. The president is
not just speaking to Washington. He has a global audience.

MATTHEWS: Right.

CROWLEY: And among other things, he wants to make very clear to
moderate Muslims or even very devout Muslims who are not violent, this
isn`t about us against your religion. This isn`t Christianity vs. Islam.

And what is gained by using the language that Republicans want? I
don`t really know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, you`re with Ron on this.

FOURNIER: No, no, no, we`re against.

Two big things are gained. One, you explain to the American people
exactly what`s going on, which is this is a country that is using -- this
is a movement that is using the religion to try to destroy us. And, two,
you take off the table this demonization that the Republicans are doing.

CROWLEY: Well, I will say there`s a precedent for that.

FOURNIER: We now have the former New York mayor calling the president
of the United States -- saying that he doesn`t love America. That`s
preposterous.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s going to have to take that back.

Rudy Giuliani, if you`re watching, my friend, please take that back,
because there`s no reason to litigate that any further. You can`t win an
argument like that.

CROWLEY: I will say, the White House has adopted your logic at least
once. If you remember, back in September, they wouldn`t say we were at war
with ISIS. Is this a war? And the Republicans started hammering them on
it, and they folded.

And at the -- from the podium, they said fine, we`re at war, just to
kill the controversy. So, maybe we will see that again.

FOURNIER: Well, we have to. It`s intellectually illogical to say we
can`t call it Islamic extremism while we`re pushing Congress to pass a
resolution to declare a war on them. Let`s call it what it is.

MATTHEWS: On ISIS. On ISIS.

FOURNIER: On ISIS.

Let`s call it what it is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: For many conservatives -- excuse me -- the president`s
refusal to label it Islamic terrorism means he doesn`t get the problem
we`re facing. I`m not sure I know with this.

Anyway, Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas, the chair of the Homeland
Security Committee, said -- quote -- "The president spent more time this
week talking about how America is not at war with Islam than he did laying
out a credible strategy for defeating the warped ideology of the jihadists
who have hijacked a religion for their own twisted means. Americans
understand, we are not at war with Islam, but we will not defeat these
fanatics if we refuse to define them for what they are, violent Islamist
extremists."

Well, that was pretty well said. And here was the front page of "The
New York Post" today. I don`t like it. It`s shows a blindfolded President
Obama with the headline, "Islamic Terror? I Just Don`t See It."

Well, they`re on the rant, usually. That`s wood.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: It just doesn`t make sense. What difference does it make
what language he uses? Everyone knows what is going on, what these guys
are about. What matters is, what is our strategy to defeat them, to kill
them before they can hurt us? What are we doing to stand up a credible
Iraqi government that ends sectarian passions there? What are we doing to
try...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Does the president have the power to set the way we talk?

FOURNIER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I remember, years ago, when Jesse Jackson, when he was in
his higher, greater days -- maybe he still is -- but he said, we should use
the term African-American, rather than colored or Negro or any of those
words of the past.

And once he said that, that was the official language we all abided
by. He had the power to do that, the private citizen, but the leader of
the civil rights movement at the time.

Can this president, leading the fight against ISIS, define a term and
say, we are not going to call it Islamic terrorism and that would mean
anything? Or is he just out of touch? Can he set the term? You said he
could. He could set the language.

(CROSSTALK)

FOURNIER: Of course. It`s harder than it used to be, but axis of
evil, who set that term? You`re exactly right. In a vacuum...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it was David Frum who did that, one of the neocon
writers for W.

FOURNIER: State of the Union.

But we`re not in a vacuum. The president, for him to be able to have
the ability to convince America, to persuade Americans, he can`t let
himself be portrayed the way he let himself be portrayed.

CROWLEY: I think those videos of people getting their throats cut
persuade people plenty. That`s all they need to see. I don`t think we
really need to spend so much time on the phrase.

MATTHEWS: Ron Fournier, I can never predict where you`re going to go.

FOURNIER: Neither can I.

(CROSSTALK)

FOURNIER: ... popping out of my mouth.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Crowley. Thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Experts think that a key figure in the latest
video released by ISIS may have a connection to the West. He may even be
an American-sounding person anyway. I`m not sure. I want to listen some
more, as you do. You decide. You can do it as well as the experts, I
think, maybe almost as well. Can you tell if this guy is one of us?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, experts in the study of linguistics believe that a key figure in
the latest video released by ISIS may have some connection to the West.
Filmed over there in Libya, the video released Sunday purported to show the
execution of 21 Christians, Coptic Christians. An ISIS-affiliated speaker
whose face is hidden from view speaks to the camera in English.

And his accent may provide some clues about his background.

We`re joined right now by Dr. John O`Regan, senior lecturer in applied
linguistics at UCL Institute of Education in London, and as well Michael
Sheehan, MSNBC terrorist analyst.

Let`s listen now, all of us, to an audio excerpt -- excerpt from that
video. It`s brief, so pay special attention to the sound, the tone of the
militant`s voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recently, you have seen us on the hills of as-
Sham.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that wasn`t much.

So, let`s go to Dr. O`Regan.

Dr. O`Regan, what`s your assessment of that background of that person?
You have to play Sherlock Holmes here.

DR. JOHN O`REGAN, APPLIED LINGUISTICS EXPERT: Well, I think that
while this may not be an American accent of the kind that I have been
listening to on your show for the past few minutes, it`s definitely an
Americanized accent.

I would say this is somebody who could well have been educated in the
States for some time. He might be a migrant to the States, maybe came in
his teens. So he`s had a U.S. education. But he will have retained
aspects of his first language accent. And that`s what`s showing through on
the tape.

But, nevertheless, he gives all the indications of having been exposed
to a lot of American English. Now, if he hasn`t been to the States, I
would say that he may well have had an education in an American
international school, possibly, very possibly in the Middle East.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Is this a process? I just want to go through your
methodology. Is this a process of elimination? He doesn`t have a South
African accent. You can`t hear that tone. You can`t Australian. You
can`t hear British of any kind. So that sort of takes you over. And you
can`t hear old African, Rhodesian or Kenyan English.

So, does that -- is that part of the way you separate him and bring
him to the North American option?

O`REGAN: Partly. Partly. That`s a bit of an overgeneralization.

But I think one of the key features in his voice is what I would call
or what linguists would call the postvocalic R, which is to say that he
pronounces the R at the end of all his words. So, for example, over here
in Britain, with words like mother, father, daughter, sister, we don`t
pronounce the Rah sound at the end.

But this guy, when he speaks, he does. So, when he says, we will
fight you all together, he doesn`t together. He says together. Until a
war lays down its burdens -- these kinds of words indicate to me -- or this
kind of use of the R sound in the whole transcript gives his way of
speaking a real American flavor.

MATTHEWS: OK. We don`t want to show too much propaganda here, but
we`re going to give you another snippet of his voice again. Listen to the
same words again and see if you can, with your own explanation, your own
experience as Americans, figure out whether he`s one of us is in terms of
language. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recently, you have seen us on the hills of as-
Sham.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know.

Dr. O`Regan, thank you so much for that.

We`re going to go right now to Michael Sheehan and try to figure out,
why would they put somebody out? They had somebody the other day, a couple
weeks ago, one of their beheadings they were doing, and they made sure that
the guy had a British accent.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: Is this part of the stirring up the crap, if you will,
scaring people`s heads, and saying, oh, we got one of them from over there,
he can go back again and blow -- he can do some beheadings over in America
now?

SHEEHAN: It is, Chris.

They actually think that by putting out someone who can speak English,
they`re going to affect the broader American foreign policy. And actually
that doesn`t work. But what does have impact is they will excite the
radicals that are in the United States to get more fired up.

And the more subtle problem for us counterterrorism experts is that
guy has probably been to the United States, which means he probably has an
American passport, and he could come back and be a real problem.

MATTHEWS: That`s what they want us to believe.

SHEEHAN: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about that, because it seems to me
that all these -- the notion of terror is to keep people scared. You go
skiing and you`re terrorized by some hills.

Let`s face it. Terrorize a person, make them fear the horror to come,
the horror that is coming, OK?

SHEEHAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, they behead people. They pour gasoline on people.
They pour gasoline on 21 people. They do -- they kill all these people on
a bus or a truck the other day who had just happened to be people who
fought them in Anbar province in Iraq.

When are they coming here? And would they go to a place way out in
the country? I have been across this country. Our country is enormous.
There are spaces of the country where nobody is there. They could do this
stuff if they could get into the country. They could pull off one of these
beheadings out in the middle of the desert somewhere.

SHEEHAN: It`s hard for them to get...

MATTHEWS: Are they going to do that next to keep the excitement
burning?

SHEEHAN: It`s hard for them to get here, Chris. And we have thought
about...

MATTHEWS: Well, this guy, you think, who we just saw, he`s got a --
he looks like he`s been here, he`s legal.

SHEEHAN: But it`s hard for them to operate here.

Remember, the Connecticut bomber, the Times Square bomber, he was
afraid to reach out to anybody else. He operated by himself. And his bomb
fizzled out, because he was afraid he might be arrested by the FBI or NYPD.

So, these guys might be able to come here, but really, since 9/11,
both al Qaeda and AQI, al Qaeda in Iraq, which really started in 2003,
2004, have not been able to operationalize themselves in the United States.

MATTHEWS: Yes. What`s next, then?

SHEEHAN: Well, I think they`re going to keep trying to consolidate
territory where they are now, and not focus on the United States, focus on
that near fight.

MATTHEWS: Right. So, it`s the caliphate. It`s the caliphate.

SHEEHAN: The near fight, yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s the caliphate.

Anyway, thank you so much.

Dr. O`Regan, thank you for joining us from London.

And thank you, Michael Sheehan, for being here.

Up next, more on what has got Rudy Giuliani lashing at President
Obama, saying he doesn`t love our country. What a statement. He`s reading
into the president`s heart? Isn`t that what W. used to do, figuring people
out in their souls?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

A senior U.S. military officials says Iraqi forces may try to take
back Mosul, Iraq`s second largest city, from ISIS as soon as April, with
the help of U.S. airstrikes and possibly American ground troops.

Here in the U.S., a suspect is under arrest in connection with the Las
Vegas road rage shooting that left a woman dead. The suspect was taken
into custody after police surrounded a home about a block away from where
the victim lived. Another individual is also being sought.

This week`s Southern winter storm and the bone-chilling cold that has
followed is being blamed for 15 deaths in three states.

And UCLA has notified nearly 180 patients that they may have been
exposed to a drug-resistant superbug during procedures at the hospital.
Seven patients were injected, included two who have died -- back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made waves last night
by opening -- openly questions President Obama`s love of country. He told
a group gathered in Manhattan, which included Wisconsin Governor Scott
Walker -- quote -- "I do not believe the president loves America. He
doesn`t love you and he doesn`t love me. He wasn`t brought up the way you
were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country."

Well, that`s a strong statement, and a very direct one.

Joining me now, the roundtable. Liz Mair is a Republican strategist.
I don`t think she would have strategized that.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Danny Vargas is former chair of the Republican National
Hispanic Assembly. And Perry Bacon is a senior political reporter for NBC
News.

You first, Liz. Why do you think he said that and do you wish -- does
he wish he hadn`t?

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it`s probably correct
to say that President Obama doesn`t love Rudy Giuliani, at least right now,
right?

(LAUGHTER)

MAIR: I think that..

MATTHEWS: So, in other words, that "he doesn`t love me" was probably
the accurate part of that sentence.

MAIR: Yes. Maybe if he had front-loaded that, his comment would have
gone over better.

I think what Rudy Giuliani saying is something that a lot of people in
this country, rightly or wrongly, do believe. I personally would not put
it quite that way. I would not go out and say that I think Barack Obama
hates America.

MATTHEWS: OK. Stick your neck out. How would you say it?

MAIR: What I would say is that I think that the attitudes that he
takes with regard to foreign policy oftentimes put emphasis on
international concerns and international interests over what I would
describe as more narrowly defined American interests.

And I think that that`s a questionable foreign policy approach that
makes a lot of people uncomfortable and has proved to be very problematic.
Is that the same thing as hating America? No. Is it something that
overlaps with that in a lot of people`s minds? Yes, it is.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, I`m quite a nationalist, and I like him, so
maybe I ought to figure that one.

But go ahead.

DANNY VARGAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: So, I think -- I think Rudy has
spent way too much time in the echo chamber.

I think he`s a good guy. I was a supporter of Rudy Giuliani when he
was running in 2008. But I think he`s spent way too much time over the
last few years in the echo chamber of the more ultra-conservative voices.
And I think it`s starting to --

MATTHEWS: But he`s not one of them.

VARGAS: He`s not one of them. Even before he said it, he said "I
probably shouldn`t say this," but he said it anyway. I think he`s heard it
so many times and was sort of repeating it.

I think what he really felt was this -- was that President Obama,
probably more than any other president in the U.S. history, doesn`t buy
into the notion of American exceptionalism, the notion of America being
shining city on a hill, in sole possession of superpower status, that we
are great and greater than any other country that God has ever permitted
man to create.

He doesn`t buy into that as much as previous presidents, and I think
the problem he sees in President Obama`s approach is that look, I disagree
with almost all the President Obama`s policies and his approach, I felt the
same way about some Republicans too. But to say he doesn`t love America,
that he doesn`t love the country is a bridge too far. He doesn`t have --
you can`t run for president without loving the country. His approach is
different, I disagree with his policy.

MATTHEWS: Perry, how would you react when you heard this, this
morning?

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: I really hated,
"he didn`t grow up the way you and I did" -- it`s like birtherism. It`s
like this whole, he`s not a true American, it`s like all that stuff we`ve
been trying to say for years. Please stop saying that.

Can we ever talk about public policies? What you just laid out was
fine, what you laid out was fine, he disagrees -- he disagrees with his
policy views, not this kind of like attack on -- you don`t know what Obama
believes. Stop pretending you do. Just cut that. I don`t know what --
just talk about --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What was he up to?

BACON: I think you`re right, he`s in the echo chamber, and that`s
part of this notion that Obama is not a true American is definitely in the
echo chamber, and online probably more than on television, but I don`t
think he was up to that. I think he just said the wrong thing, but the
fact he`s thinking it is part of the problem.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a great reaction, excuse me, you`re up, Liz, after
this. But I like, if I don`t know Scott Walker, I met him once, but here
is Scott Walker reacting in a very careful way. He`s thinking about
running for president. But here he was after, a few seats away from Mayor
Giuliani last night. Here was his reaction when he was pressed on what he
thought of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: The mayor can speak for himself.
I`m not going to comment on whether -- what the president thinks or not.
He can speak for himself as well. I tell you, I love America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you agree with those comments? Were you
offended by those comments? What was your reaction when you heard them?

WALKER: I`m in New York, I`m used to people saying things that are
aggressive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He said he`s used to people speaking aggressively.

(LAUGHTER)

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: In New York.

MATTHEWS: That was a great reaction.

MAIR: Again, a factual statement. I mean, who can argue with that?
I tend to agree with that.

I think jumping back to a couple points you guys were making
previously. I think Rudy has been a hawk for some time. He has palled
around with hawks quite a bit. So, you know, to the point about what you
would expect him to say, I`m not sure I would expect much different from
this. From the point about whether President Obama has grown up in an
environment that`s different to the rest of America -- I mean, I would just
say that probably growing up in Hawaii is different than growing up in an
Italian-American family in New York City.

BACON: If you think that`s what he was saying? I don`t think that
was he was saying.

MAIR: I`m not saying that`s necessarily what he was saying. I`m just
saying, that`s what -- when I heard him say that, it was like, duh, because
I mean, nobody grew up in the same circumstances as Rudy, right?

VARGAS: What`s relevant about the way that President Obama grew up
and the way he lived his adult life is that, he`s never -- he was never
expected to lead anything. He`s never been an executive at a company, he`s
never been in charge of anything, a chief executive officer of a company
knows that he`s also the chief cheerleader of that company. As chief
executive of the country, he`s got to be the chief cheerleader of the
country. So, he`s never have that expectation in terms of how he
approaches things.

Particularly speaking in public, the other thing that he has in his
background is growing up in the academic environment that he did --

MATTHEWS: Ethereal.

VARGAS: The ethereal -- seeing America as a benevolent country, as a
member of the community of nations, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe
is probably the rationale that a lot --

MATTHEWS: You took that directly from Peggy Noonan.

VARGAS: It`s true, though, that academics feel that America should
just be --

MATTHEWS: All our experiences are different, but let me ask you this
about who loves or doesn`t love. African-Americans have a totally
different experience, 200 years and slavery and all, Jim Crow and their
love of the country has to be a little bit different than the person that
got on the of boat and everything has been great since he`s got here, you
know it`s different.

BACON: He sure seems like he loved America (INAUDIBLE) talk how big
the economy is growing, how much he`s pushing for things. He seems
perfectly fine working hard. He ran for president. How can you run for
president without loving the country and wanting to improve it?

I just find this whole rationale he doesn`t -- the notion that he`s
more critical of the U.S. and other presidents, I think that`s true. The
speech he gave of the (INAUDIBLE) I think it`s true.

MATTHEWS: I think I started this whole thing with my treatment of
Marie Harf of the State Department. She talked about the long-term -- and
I am, of course, so angry right now. I`m viscerally, I get hot sometimes.
I get mad.

I get mad about the president`s lousy debate performance, the first
debate. I get upset about 20 points behind Hillary. I get upset a lot of
things. I got thrills up my leg, I got reactions to things.

I admit I`m different than the president. He`s Frank Sinatra, he`s
very cool.

But this thing started with the discussion with Marie Harf and me
about the question of long term solution and short-term solutions. And the
short-term solution, if somebody is breaking in your house, you make sure
he didn`t get in the house, OK, whatever you have to. In the long term,
the guy would have been better off going to school than hanging out on the
corner, OK? We`ve got to make decisions, but the long term and short term,
sometimes we overrun each other.

Anyway, thank you, Marie Harf, for coming on the show.

The roundtable is staying with us.

We`ve got a great question coming up. Who is for sure going to win
the Oscar on Sunday? A sure thing here. This is the biggest, like Jack
(INAUDIBLE), this is a sure thing.

And HARDBALL, coming back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, one congressman from California weighed in on the
issues of gender identity, and bullying, by sharing his own family`s story.
Democrat Mike Honda tweeted out this photo of himself and his
granddaughter, captioning it, "As the proud grandpa of a transgender
grandchild, I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being
bullied." Honda received an outpouring of support with the LGBT community,
which he responded, quote, "These children need our protection and our
love."

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Liz, Danny and Perry.

And Sunday night, as we all know, is Oscar night. It`s coming up. We
want to know who the HARDBALL roundtable says are the sure bets to win.
We`re gong to go to the full right now.

The three major categories -- best picture, where the nominees are
"Birdman," "Boyhood", "American Sniper", "The Imitation Game", "Selma,,"
"The Grand Budapest Hotel", "The Theory of Everything," and "Whiplash."

Best actor, where the nominees are Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of
Everything", Michael Keaton, "Birdman", Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper",
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game", Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher".

And best actress, where the nominees are Julian Moore, "Still Alice",
and Reese Witherspoon, "Wild", Rosamund Pike "Gone Girl", Felicity Jones,
"The Theory of Everything", and Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night".

Well, Liz, Danny, and, Perry, what are your sure bets? Let`s start
with you, Perry. Sure bets.

BACON: I`ll go "American Sniper" for best picture, and, why?
Because, A, critically acclaimed, did well at the box office, and it gives
the Academy a chance to say, we understand, red state, America. We
understand Sarah Palin.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you. You know what it reminded me of, a kind of
movie, I`m not knocking anybody with this, because I hung out -- I went to
a lot of drive-in movies as a kid. That`s got drive-in movie all over it.

It`s like the old Elvis Presley movie. It`s for regular people
against the elite. It`s regular people, American, all the way. That guy
had an American accent all through that movie.

Your thoughts?

VARGAS: I agree with Perry, "American Sniper" was a great movie. I
think it`s going to win. I think for best actor, I would give to Bradley
Cooper, I was torn on this one.

MATTHEWS: He`s in the movie. He`s the star.

VARGAS: He`s the star of the movie. And it was a stretch. I liked
Michael Keaton in "Birdman," but it was sort of which he was playing
himself almost, right? So, Bradley Cooper stretched as an actor, wasn`t in
his comfort zone, being the sort of pretty boy leading man that he usually
does or a comic. This was a stretch, this was a reach. He gained a lot of
weight --

MATTHEWS: Didn`t you like the way he was sort of inward. It was
like, the kind of guy you`d think would be this kind of guy. Like Gary
Cooper from the old days. I`ve got to fight, I`m going to get good at it.
I`m not flashy, there`s no panache here, I`m just doing my job.

VARGAS: And everything you get about his performance was that it was
as true to the real-life guy as possible. Even the guy`s widow believes
that Bradley`s performance was spot-on.

MATTHEWS: And I just saw him in "Elephant Man," another amazing
display of talent.

VARGAS: Great talent.

MATTHEWS: So, now, it`s up to you.

MAIR: What would I say a sure bet?

MATTHEWS: Give me a sure bet.

MAIR: I think Julianne Moore.

MATTHEWS: You stole it from me!

(LAUGHTER)

MAIR: I`m sorry. I didn`t mean to.

MATTHEWS: She plays a woman who is a very academic person at
Columbia, she`s a professor, all the lights on, brain power, gets early
onset. Explain.

MAIR: Well, I think that`s something that`s going to resonate with a
lot of people out there. I think that it is something that America is
grappling with, but also fundamentally, I just think she`s a very good
actress and she did a good job and there`ll be an inclination to reward
that.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I thought Alec Baldwin was really good. My father
went through that with my mom, and anybody has been through it. People
watching this show have been through it.

The caregiver is in many ways the star in life, because they`re the
ones who lose company. They lose the best company of their life. The
person they get used to and love being with and look forward to every
evening with and look forward to every morning getting up, and all of a
sudden they`re not there anymore.

And that didn`t even -- that movie didn`t even go to the horror part,
the end zone. It only went to a certain point. But if it goes to the
point where you`re not physically able to be a regular person, you know?

One theory I have about movies, they`re always about the present. You
can say it`s about the civil war, it`s back in swords and sandals, or the
Christian story. It`s really always about today. And I think there`s more
movies about aging now than there were before. Certainly, "Birdman," and I
think there`s a lot about there. I think there`s going to be a lot of
sympathy for Michael Keaton`s character.

VARGAS: There will be a lot of sympathy for Michael Keaton, but also,
I think, you know, America in many respects is feeling scared. With
everything we`re seeing with ISIS, where we`re seeing that folks around the
world are being threatened. Israel is surrounded by enemies, has
existential threats. I think we need to have a sense that there are
average Americans that can be heroes too.

That`s why "American Sniper" and Bradley Cooper did a great job. He`s
today`s version of John Wayne. You know, he`s a stand-up guy --

MATTHEWS: More like Gary Cooper.

VARGAS: More like Gary Cooper, probably, but we need stand-up folks.

MATTHEWS: Wayne liked these wars. Gary Cooper fought them because he
had to. Sergeant York.

BACON: The other movie about today, of course, "Selma," came out in
2014.

MATTHEWS: Great movie!

BACON: A great movie, but also a really important time, a discussion
about civil rights we`ve had this last year. A discussion about what`s the
president`s role --

MATTHEWS: Wasn`t the English guy who played it, wasn`t he
unbelievable? I thought it was Dr. King. I thought the guy who played
John Lewis looked like John Lewis. And a couple of the other leaders I
recognized from the past.

I didn`t like the way they treated Johnson, because I think Johnson
was a great man and our greatest civil rights president, don`t you think?

BACON: Yes, I agree.

MATTHEWS: The movie dramatically was powerful stuff. So, I`ll watch.
Hope it doesn`t run too long.

BACON: It always does.

(LAUGHTER)

MAIR: Always does.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

Anyway, thank you to Liz Mair, Danny Vargas, and Perry Bacon.

When we return, let me finish with this tough, unnecessary wrong
attack by Giuliani on our president. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place
for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this tough, unnecessary and
wrong attack by Rudy Giuliani on our president.

All of us have different temperaments. Look, I can remember when
Senator Barack Obama was 20 points behind Senator Hillary Clinton in the
early run for president. I kept getting anxious and frustrated, and, OK,
angry because he didn`t seem as angry, frustrated, and angry as I was by
his position so far behind.

Rudy Giuliani says that Obama doesn`t love his country, like he does,
like others he knows do. I can understand what I`m getting at, this
coolness the president gives off. He`s not a hot head like Rudy or me
sometimes. He just isn`t.

I remember when he got hammered in that first debate with Mitt Romney.
He didn`t know he was being humiliated. Didn`t he know he was letting that
man`s sense of personal superiority beating him up on national television.
That was another time when I went hot and Obama went cool.

But like all the other times, Obama did what he had to do. He and his
team defeated, the undefeatable Hillary Clinton and her team. He came back
to beat Mitt Romney twice in debates, clearing the way for his convincing
re-election as president.

So, I can see why a guy like Rudy would think Obama`s too cool for
school. But Mr. Mayor, you should never go after someone`s love of his
country. It breaks the rules we live by. It divides us when we should be
united. I urge you to take it back and quickly, because it really does no
good at all, except score political points with those who hate.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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