Guests: Sen. Joe Biden, Howard Fineman, Jill Zuckman, Jonathan Capehart, Rahm Emanuel, Randy Pullen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Suddenly, we‘re back to bin Laden. It used to be the Democrats who said we should have gone after the al Qaeda leader instead of going to Iraq. Now President Bush says we‘re in Iraq to stop bin Laden.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. The bin Laden card: Whenever the war in Iraq gets uglier, President Bush shifts attention back to 9/11. Now he‘s saying we need to fight in Iraq because that‘s where bin Laden-recruited ally Zarqawi is, or was. But if catching bin Laden was job number one, why did we stop chasing him and head into Iraq in the first place?
Democrats fall back to September. They had to fund the troops but say they‘ll try to force a withdrawal plan this September. But why are we all sitting around waiting for a general to tell America whether we should fight or not, fight a war or not? Didn‘t Truman settle that one with MacArthur?
Rudy and the guns. He‘s for gun control, but the gun owners like him because they face a common enemy, let‘s face it, the criminal. And Republicans rebel against that Bush-McCain illegal immigrants bill. House leader John Boehner describes in language I can‘t use on television. Rudy, who‘s daintier, calls it a hodgepodge. McCain reminds Romney that he hired illegal Guatemalans to cut his lawn.
We begin tonight with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who‘s a candidate for president and is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Isn‘t it getting wonderful out there, Senator, about the Republicans and immigration? By the way, you look great tonight. You look dandy! Let me ask you about...
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel good.
MATTHEWS: ... this bin Laden...
BIDEN: I‘m not a Republican. I feel great.
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me about this bin Laden thing. The president decided to go into Iraq, rather than focus all of U.S. firepower on chasing bin Laden in Afghanistan and later into Pakistan. Now he said today at the Coast Guard Academy that the reason we‘re really in—let‘s watch this tape—that we‘re really in Iraq is to catch the bin Laden operation there. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we surge our forces in Iraq, al Qaeda has responded with a surge of its own. The terrorists‘ goal in Iraq is to reignite sectarian violence and break support for the war here at home. And they believe they‘re succeeding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I don‘t know whether to believe the president anymore. I know a lot of people don‘t. I try to. But he portrays our war in Iraq as a war against bin Laden, against the terrorists who attacked us in 9/11. He says it over and over again. Is he telling the truth, Senator Biden?
MATTHEWS: Well, help me out here. What is the fact...
MATTHEWS: ... what are we doing over there?
BIDEN: Well, look, the last time I was in Iraq, and my seventh time I came back, was debriefed by the president and his war cabinet, sat in the Roosevelt Room, he went through about this thing about bin Laden and about al Qaeda. + And with everyone present, from the vice president, the secretary of defense, on down the line, I said, Mr. President, if the Lord almighty came and sat in the middle of this conference table in the Roosevelt room looked you in the eye and said, Mr. President, I guarantee you every single member of al Qaeda is dead, every jihadi is taken off the face of the earth, you still have a major sectarian war that‘s killing Americans, Mr. President, and consuming hundreds of billions of dollars. That‘s not your problem, Mr. President.
The fact there are some al Qaeda cells in Iraq, some home-grown al Qaeda cells in Iraq, is a Bush fulfilling prophesy. They didn‘t exist before. They do exist now. They are not the primary problem. The problem is Sunni killing Shia, Shia killing Sunni, and no possibility of getting it straight under the strategy the president‘s pursuing.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of his claim? Why is he making this claim? Why is he going back...
BIDEN: He has nothing else to say, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... to 9/11 and to bin Laden, rather than arguing the facts on the ground, as he said he was going to do?
BIDEN: Maybe he‘s been dining alone with Vice President Cheney. I don‘t know.
BIDEN: I mean, what—what—I—it makes—look, it has been the trump card he has taken out and used for four years of this war. I think the vast majority of Americans have had enough of it. The president needs to change his policy.
Look, we have these—it just makes no sense, Chris. There are...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you to...
BIDEN: There are jihadis there, but that‘s not the problem.
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to get to your issue about mine-resistant equipment over there and armage (ph) equipment over there. But let me ask you this, first of all. Rudy Giuliani—he seems to get away with a lot of factual mistakes. He was on David Letterman the other night. And I know David Letterman‘s not a newsman. It‘s not his job to fact check. But listen to this. Let‘s take a look at—here‘s the former mayor of New York, the most respected man in the Republican Part right now, if you look at the polls, and here‘s what he‘s saying about the Iraq Liberation Act, as if he knows what he‘s talking about, on David Letterman‘s show the other night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: Now, again, another ridiculous hypothetical question. Regardless of the party in power, regardless of the man or woman in the office, would we have been at war in Iraq? Everything up to that decision-making point is the same.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FMR NYC MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it‘s hard to say. I mean, it got the vote of a lot of Democrats who supported it, and actually, when Saddam was overthrown, praised the president for doing it. It was the policy of the Clinton administration to have regime change in Iraq. So in a way, George Bush carried out what Bill Clinton wanted to do and didn‘t get the opportunity to do. So who knows...
LETTERMAN: Yes. OK.
GIULIANI: Who knows—I can‘t tell you what would have been if a different president were there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Absolutely BS, Senator, absolute BS. You cannot say that we had—that President Clinton had the authorization to go to war with Iraq. You can‘t say he just didn‘t have an opportunity to go. No one told him to go until Bush got the authority from Congress, including you, in 2002. What is Giuliani getting applause for on complete nonsense like that? This is—the Iraq Liberation (INAUDIBLE) was something cooked up by the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, with McCain and Lieberman pushing it. It had nothing to do with an American war in Iraq, nothing to do with it.
BIDEN: Well, you‘re absolutely right, Chris, and that‘s what presidential campaigns are going to be about. Right now, he‘s on the stage with a group of other Republicans who would probably agree with and spout the same malarkey. And it‘s only going to be, if he‘s the nominee and when he‘s confronting somebody like me or someone else from my party with the facts. I mean, they just are not sustainable, what he is asserting.
And furthermore, the president went to war not only unnecessarily, he went to war by usurping, really, what the provisions in the Iraqi—in the use of force act we gave him. We said he was supposed exhaust all these remedies. He was supposed to deal with the inspectors first, and so on and so forth. He just flat out disregarded...
MATTHEWS: I know.
BIDEN: ... the vast majority of that, even to the chagrin of his own secretary of state, Colin Powell.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about another Rudy Giuliani-ism. He‘s out there saying that he wants a tamper-proof ID card for people who come in the country. How can you go up to a person who might have a certain skin complexion or a certain accent and ask them for their tamper-proof ID card and not ask for the same card from you and me, if we‘re trying to get a job? Does anybody check these politicians and say, You can‘t, in this free country, tell some people they‘ve got to carry a tamper-proof ID card, like it‘s in South Africa, and the other people don‘t have to carry one.
How does he get away with this? Either we all have to carry this card, or nobody has to carry it. Am I wrong? You were chairman of the Judiciary Committee. You know the Constitution.
BIDEN: You‘re absolutely right. You‘re absolutely right. The way he gets away with it...
MATTHEWS: I get so overwhelmed by the lack of fact-checking by the journalists covering these guys every—why don‘t they just stop him and say, What are you saying, Mayor? Does anybody—does anybody in your staff...
BIDEN: Because I think...
MATTHEWS: ... ever look anything up? I‘m sorry.
BIDEN: I think what he‘s saying is probably what the sentiment of a lot of the right-wing Republicans are. And when he was head of the criminal division and I was on the Judiciary Committee, Rudy never got confused with the Constitution.
BIDEN: I mean, this was—he was a hard-charging guy who made these kind of assertions then.
BIDEN: I mean, not that particular assertion. So you know, I think it probably plays to his Republican base.
BIDEN: It‘s hard for me to believe he believes that.
MATTHEWS: Well, he thinks he‘s just going to have the foreign-looking people, whatever that means those days. There‘s a lot of people who are very much our fellow citizens who‘ve come in here in the last 20 years, and they‘re as much a citizen as you and I. And they may have an accent or a different complexion, and you can‘t go up to them and say, Where‘s your tamper-proof ID card. I never heard of such a thing in this kind of country! I don‘t know. It‘s like “stop and frisk” for your tamper-proof ID card.
Let me ask you about one other thing. Why are you guys on the Hill so trusting of General Petraeus? He‘s a military man. Harry Truman had to tell MacArthur what to do, in the end. Don‘t we have to tell our military men our policy in Washington? Don‘t you civilians...
BIDEN: Yes, we do.
MATTHEWS: ... have to set the policy? OK.
BIDEN: Yes, we do. We...
MATTHEWS: So what‘s all this waiting for Gigot (SIC) or waiting for Godet (SIC) or whatever it is? Why are we sitting around, waiting September for General Petraeus to say whether we should fight this war or not?
BIDEN: I‘m not waiting around, but I‘m not president yet. Harry Truman was president. George Bush is not the same kind of president. And furthermore, when you get right down to it, Chris, until 17 Republicans decide that they‘re going to start supporting the troops and not supporting the president, we‘re going to be involved in this war. We need 17 Republicans to change their mind...
MATTHEWS: Would you cut off the funding—would you cut off the funding, Senator Biden, of the troops on Memorial Day weekend, even if you had the 17 Republicans?
MATTHEWS: OK, see? It isn‘t just...
BIDEN: I would not cut off the funding.
MATTHEWS: ... a matter of 17...
BIDEN: But I‘ll tell you what I would do.
MATTHEWS: Well, I thought that‘s what you were saying.
BIDEN: What I would do—no, no. What I‘m saying is what I would do is, I would fundamentally change the mission. With 17 Republicans, we can say, Mr. President, you cannot go into the middle of this civil war. You must begin to draw down troops immediately. You must only...
MATTHEWS: How do you do that without cutting off the money?
BIDEN: Well, what you do is, you change the mission. He has no authority to use the money for anything other than that. You‘re cutting off money for certain things...
MATTHEWS: I see.
BIDEN: ... that he is doing. You‘re not cutting money off to train Iraqis. You‘re not cutting money off to bring troops home. You‘re not cutting money off to prevent al Qaeda from occupying large swaths of territory. You‘re changing the mission, and you‘re getting out.
And I would furthermore—were I president today—look, I went up to the Security Council, met with the permanent five of the Security Council—permanent four, counting us. And I said to them on Monday, If, in fact, the president of the United States asked you to call an international conference sponsored by the permanent five of the Security Council to insist upon a federal system in Iraq and insist that its neighbors abide by that, what would you do? The Russian ambassador, the French ambassador, the Chinese ambassador, the English ambassador all said, We‘d support that.
That‘s what I would do as president. I‘d begin to get us out of that war right now. I would change the mission. And I would impose a political settlement through the world community so that we wouldn‘t leave chaos behind.
MATTHEWS: How would you protect our men? You have a plan here for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. How do we get them in the field?
BIDEN: We get them in the field by selling—by just—right now, the president of the United States saying it‘s the single biggest priority, begin to produce them immediately. We know we need 7,747 of them. We know what it costs. And we know that the president has the authority under that circumstance to mobilize every single force capable and available to him to build those vehicles immediately.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe it‘s happening.
BIDEN: Because that will save the lives of thousands of people, Chris. Seventy percent of our injuries are a consequence of these IEDs. Two thirds of those injuries would be avoided if we had these V-shaped hull, mine-resistant vehicles.
MATTHEWS: Well, but I think...
BIDEN: It‘s outrageous we‘re not building them.
MATTHEWS: The mothers and fathers and husbands and wives ought to be calling in to get that kind of equipment...
BIDEN: Exactly right. They should be calling the president. They should be calling the Senate. They should be calling the military, We want those vehicles now. There is no, no excuse. The commandant of the Marine Corps said it‘s the single most important moral imperative he has as the commandant of the Marine Corps.
BIDEN: And we‘re dragging our feet.
MATTHEWS: Senator Biden, thank you very much for coming on the show, Senator Joe Biden, running for president...
BIDEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Up next, we‘re going to look at Rosie O‘Donnell‘s fight about those troops of ours being called terrorists. What did she say? It sounds like that‘s what she said. She‘s trying to squirm out of it. We‘ll see. I don‘t know why she squirms out of anything.
And later, Congressman Rahm Emanuel on why House Democrats dropped their demands for a withdrawal date in the latest go-around.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re joined right now by “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, “The Chicago Tribune‘s” Jill Zuckman and “The Washington Post‘s” Jonathan Capehart. Sir, thank you for joining us from a remote location.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, “WASHINGTON POST”: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re about 20 feet away.
First up, Rosie‘s latest rant. Last week, Rosie O‘Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck—she‘s the one on the right, obviously—fought over Rosie‘s comments about the U.S. in Iraq. Interesting discussion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”: 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, “THE VIEW”: Who are the terrorists?
O‘DONNELL: 655,000 Iraqis...
O‘DONNELL: I‘m saying you have to look from the—we invaded...
HASSELBECK: Wait! Who are you calling terrorists?
O‘DONNELL: I‘m saying that if you were in Iraq and another country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?
HASSELBECK: Are we killing their citizens, or are they—their people are...
O‘DONNELL: ... invading a sovereign nation and occupying a country against the U.N.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as I generally sympathize with her point of view, her skepticism about this war (INAUDIBLE), I do have a problem with her suggestion that we‘re the terrorists, which is clearly what the intent of that conversation was.
Here she is today—or well—maybe this is today—this is last week. I can‘t tell which is which. You decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Do you believe that I think our troops are terrorists?
And you would not even look me in the face, Elisabeth...
HASSELBECK: What are you talking about?
O‘DONNELL: ... and say, No, Rosie.
HASSELBECK: I asked that...
O‘DONNELL: I can understand how people might have thought that. Why don‘t you take this opportunity, like I‘m 6.
HASSELBECK: Because I don‘t understand how there can be such hurt feelings when all I did was say, Look, why don‘t you tell everybody what you said. I did that as a friend!
O‘DONNELL: (INAUDIBLE) not defend me. I asked you if you believed that I...
HASSELBECK: You could have answered your own question! I don‘t believe...
O‘DONNELL: Every day since September, I have told you I support the troops.
HASSELBECK: I have done the same for years!
O‘DONNELL: I asked you if you believed what the Republican pundits were saying?
HASSELBECK: Did I say yes?
O‘DONNELL: You said nothing! And that‘s cowardly!
HASSELBECK: No, no, no! No, no, no!
HASSELBECK: That is not—do not—you will not call me a coward because, number one, I sit here every single day...
O‘DONNELL: So do I.
HASSELBECK: ... open my heart and tell people exactly what I believe.
O‘DONNELL: So do I, Elisabeth.
HASSELBECK: Do not call me a coward, Rosie!
O‘DONNELL: It was cowardly.
HASSELBECK: I do not hide! It was not cowardly...
O‘DONNELL: It was.
HASSELBECK: ... it was honest!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I‘m with the one on the right, Howard. I don‘t know about you, but it seemed to me that, as we watched the tape, she clearly said that the American troops are the terrorists. It‘s called the Socratic method.
MATTHEWS: It‘s called the whatever question (INAUDIBLE) interrogative (INAUDIBLE)
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: But she supports the troops...
MATTHEWS: I know that, but that‘s not the...
FINEMAN: ... who are terrorists.
MATTHEWS: ... issue here. Did she call American soldiers terrorists?
FINEMAN: There‘s no question.
JILL ZUCKMAN, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: Sounds like it to me.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, why—why do people go on television—and the old rule of politics is when you‘re in a hole, stop digging. Why is Rosie O‘Donnell, who gives a bad name to people who question this war—I have to say, it is inevitably a problem in this country that people ruin the anti-war position by Jane Fonda behavior, by this kind of behavior, when there are millions and millions—in fact, the overwhelming majority question this war, oppose it, want to see our troops home. And then somebody like this comes out and creates an easy target for the hawks.
CAPEHART: Right. Right. Well, Rosie can‘t help herself. And I‘m, like, counting down the days or weeks until she‘s off that show. And it seemed like, in the second clip you just showed, it was as if Rosie picked this fight. I mean, Rosie is a bully on that show.
MATTHEWS: Maybe that‘s her job. But she‘s leaving it. All I can tell you is, I will say it again, the anti-war position doesn‘t need that because attacking American soldiers as the bad guys when they‘re over there risking their lives...
MATTHEWS: ... and getting killed and legs being blown off for us, and to have them made the bad guys by us—the other side‘s allowed to call them the bad guys.
MATTHEWS: But if we do that, we‘re saying, You‘re risking your lives for nothing.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. It doesn‘t—I don‘t know who she‘s trying to win with this argument. It‘s like she‘s a mole on a far right wing side of the war and she‘s figured out a way to make the war look better. I don‘t get it.
ZUCKMAN: What I think is really interesting is here you have a women‘s daytime talk show, and they are getting into it about the war in Iraq. And I just think that that shows how incredibly important this war is to the American people, how they‘re—everybody has an opinion and is concerned about it. And it really has become the only issue of our day.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I don‘t know why they pick these fights. Let‘s take
a look at this bigger issue, which is the funding of the war and how it‘s
moving into September. Let‘s see, I‘ll see you in September. Late
Tuesday, Democratic leaders bowed to the reality that there‘s only one
commander-in-chief at a time and he has the power—that‘s the president -
to command a war. The Iraq funding bill will not tie money to an exit date for U.S. troops. Democrats do not want to make the mistake that Newt Gingrich made back in 1995, when he brought the government to a complete stop.
This morning, on “The Today Show,” presidential candidate John Edwards was tough, however, on his Democratic colleagues in the Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats should be standing their ground. I mean, the American people said very clearly in the last election that they wanted to see a different course in Iraq. They sent a mandate by putting the Democrats in charge of the Congress.
And it‘s very clear that George Bush has no intention to compromise. And what the Democrats need do is stay strong, stand their ground, and continue this...
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW”: Why did they cave in, then?
EDWARDS: Well, I don‘t know. I mean, I think what they—what the American people wanted them to do was stand their ground, force this president to start withdrawing troops from Iraq, and continue to submit bills to him with a timetable for withdrawal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes, yes, yes, easier said than done, Howard, right?
Here‘s Memorial Day coming up. How would you like to be the Democrats who cut off war funding for the troops?
FINEMAN: Yes. Well...
MATTHEWS: The next body bags coming back are—have got Democrats stamped on them.
FINEMAN: Here‘s the thing.
There isn‘t just one Democratic Party, even on the Hill, or even in the House or in the Senate.
FINEMAN: They‘re all flavors. They‘re all grades. They‘re all parts of the country.
The reason the Democrats took control of the Congress is, they won a lot of swing districts. They won close races in red districts in red districts. They want to protect those people.
FINEMAN: And the Democrats right now are caught between preserving those people and listening to the anti-war base of their party, and, indeed, the majority of the American people.
MATTHEWS: But even Joe Biden, who was just here, he said he would vote for funding. He represents a...
MATTHEWS: ... a state that‘s half liberal, half conservative.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, senators represent the whole state, not just the anti-war crowd.
FINEMAN: Well, you know, I don‘t—I‘m not sure how the Democrats could have handled this better.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You saw it coming, didn‘t you?
FINEMAN: But—but—yes. But I don‘t know how they could have handled it worse.
I mean, they knew that this was going to be the case for weeks. Why go through the...
MATTHEWS: That, sooner or later, they had to give in.
FINEMAN: Why go through the whole Kabuki on it?
MATTHEWS: OK, Jonathan, your thought.
MATTHEWS: Was it smart for the Democrats to suggest they could stop this war by putting out a—imprinting out there on the legislation a timetable, when they knew, in the end, the president had the cards as commander in chief?
CAPEHART: Well, it‘s all about appealing—appealing and appeasing -
appealing to appeasing the base.
The Democratic Party base desperately wants this war ended, desperately wants the troops home. And I would say that it‘s probably beyond the Democratic Party base. As we have seen in recent polls, most of the country wants this war to end.
But are they willing to support a Democratic or any Congress that cuts off funding for the troops?
MATTHEWS: Look at this. Look at this, by the way, just to make your point. This comes out. This is the anti-war group, obviously, the MoveOn.org group: “Congress, show some backbone on Iraq. Vote no on the supplemental. We want a deadline to bring our troops home.”
Now, that‘s obviously—there it is—we‘re showing it now. That is, in fact, the push from the anti-war crowd. But, clearly, the Congress decided, Jill...
ZUCKMAN: They can‘t...
MATTHEWS: ... that they‘re going to vote for funding in the short run, so they can win this war, the argument, in the long run, this September.
ZUCKMAN: This is a math question. The Democrats don‘t have the numbers to override a veto.
ZUCKMAN: So, at some point, if they...
MATTHEWS: But, even if they did, would they be able to control U.S. policy, if they‘re the—the president?
MATTHEWS: Can‘t the president, in the end, just say, under the constitutional role as commander in chief, I‘m going to feed the troops?
ZUCKMAN: Well, I think he can say that.
And he has been asserting his authority as commander in chief all along. And the fact is, the Congress can‘t overrule him, because they don‘t have the votes.
ZUCKMAN: So, they don‘t want to be held responsible for funding running out.
MATTHEWS: Did they make a mistake, Howard?
MATTHEWS: Did they make a mistake in suggesting...
FINEMAN: Well, the problem...
MATTHEWS: ... they had the power to stop this war...
The problem is that the same thing that provides them the leverage, which is the control of the money, also is the thing that put them in handcuffs here, politically, because it was all too easy for the president to say, we have to support the troops.
FINEMAN: Looking back on it, maybe they should have voted for some money early, just given it to the president early, and then conducted some kind of other campaign to continue educating the people and isolating the president.
FINEMAN: But, again, I don‘t know how they could have played it better.
CAPEHART: That‘s a good point, Howard.
FINEMAN: But I don‘t know how they could have played it worse.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think they have to understand they‘re fighting a guerrilla war against the president‘s policies.
MATTHEWS: They have got to strike, harass, pull back, strike...
FINEMAN: Right. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: ... harass, pull back. But they can‘t stand out there and take him on toe to toe, because that‘s what Gingrich did to Bill Clinton. And, in the end, even though the country was moving pretty conservative in those days, they backed Clinton over Gingrich.
FINEMAN: And now the MoveOn.org crowd has got—is going to have campaigns in every congressional district. The anti-war crowd is going to be on them like a cheap suit.
MATTHEWS: You know what—you know what the good news is? There‘s no election this year.
MATTHEWS: Our panel is staying with us to talk about how Rudy Giuliani is gunning for the White House, literally. The gun guys like him.
And, later, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, he‘s tough. He created—he built this place. Let‘s see what he thinks about the Democrats‘ position on the war, which doesn‘t look too strong right now.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We‘re back with Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” Jill Zuckman of “The Chicago Tribune,” and Jonathan Capehart of “The Washington Post.”
Next up: gunning for the White House. Rudy Giuliani has had a tough time convincing some social conservatives that he‘s one of them. But, when it comes to that key conservative value, gun ownership, the Second Amendment, Rudy is leading the pack.
And catch this number. This will blow some minds. According to the recent Gallup poll, Rudy Giuliani gets the highest favorability marks among gun owners, compared to the rest of the 2008 field, including everybody behind him, McCain, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney—Hillary way behind those gentlemen.
Howard, it‘s one of those interesting things that I have been saying for two years, despite my swats at the mistakes he‘s been making, that Giuliani has an appeal to the right as Mr. Tough Guy. And, even though he‘s tough on gun control, because he‘s a big-city mayor, they share a common enemy, criminals.
FINEMAN: Yes. That‘s a remarkable number.
FINEMAN: It bodes well for his chances to get rural votes, because he‘s not going to get them on social issues, like abortion and prayer and so forth. He can get it on this. And that‘s because he backed the cops every step of the way in New York.
MATTHEWS: Even when they were wrong.
FINEMAN: ... the cops using the guns—whether they were right or wrong. The cops...
MATTHEWS: Well, they were wrong a few times.
FINEMAN: The cops were always right, in his eye.
FINEMAN: And that translates into guns. And that‘s—that‘s why.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, I want a disparate opinion here, a different opinion.
Do you think Rudy is getting the—the best of a good—of a bad deal here, that he wasn‘t right on some of these cop issues, and that‘s why they like him?
CAPEHART: He wasn‘t right on some of the cop issues. But I think Howard was right. So, you‘re not going to get a disparate from me. You‘re going to get the same opinion.
And that is, Giuliani‘s M.O. when he was mayor, was, give the cops the benefit of the doubt. On anything...
MATTHEWS: Didn‘t he back the guy with the broomstick that time, one of the real sick cases?
CAPEHART: Yes, give the cops the benefit of the doubt, let the facts come in.
CAPEHART: Let‘s not rush to judgment.
And I think, with—with gun owners, and, as you say, you know, siding with—siding with the—with law enforcement against the criminals wins out ever time with that group.
MATTHEWS: It‘s interesting about the gun owners. You would think they were really squeamish about a guy who is for gun control.
But I guess—I think they‘re smarter than people think they are. My brother is a gun owner. I think they think, of course, in New York City, you shouldn‘t have handguns when you‘re running around.
MATTHEWS: But I should have my shotgun out here in Western Pennsylvania.
ZUCKMAN: Well, it‘s still early. Maybe they don‘t really know what his record is. They just know...
MATTHEWS: Oh, you guys, you—you people...
MATTHEWS: You people are so condescending.
MATTHEWS: You think they don‘t know that he‘s pro-abortion rights and pro-gun control, if he‘s mayor of New York? You don‘t think people have any common sense?
ZUCKMAN: Chris, as—as voters have gotten—have learned more about Giuliani‘s record...
MATTHEWS: Oh, I have heard this. And his numbers keep going up.
ZUCKMAN: ... his numbers have been going down.
MATTHEWS: No, they aren‘t. No, this is such C.W. They keep going up. Come on.
FINEMAN: He doesn‘t—he looks like a guy who, if he had had the opportunity to grow up as a hunter, would have been a great one.
FINEMAN: He just gives off the aura of a guy who wouldn‘t be afraid to use a gun, you know? That‘s just—and that‘s the record that he had in New York.
MATTHEWS: Would he—would he have been a catch-and-release guy when he went fishing?
MATTHEWS: If it‘s dying in that bag of his?
FINEMAN: I don‘t think so.
MATTHEWS: And we will be right back with our panel.
How cruel is Rudy? Don‘t ask.
Coming up later: Did House Democrats give into reality for paying the Iraq war? Didn‘t they have to pay for the troops the weekend before Memorial Day? I think they did.
Anyway, Rahm Emanuel is going to here to defend that position, which the people who are anti-war don‘t like one bit, according to the stuff we‘re reading.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks ended the day slightly lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average down some 14 points, the S&P 500 down almost two, the Nasdaq down by just short of 11 points.
The slide is being partly blamed on comments by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, expressing concern about an eventual sharp drop in China‘s red-hot stock market.
The government reported gasoline inventories rose last week by a larger-than-expected 1.5 million barrels. But analysts say inventories remain below average. And there are still concerns about high demand as the summer driving season begins this weekend.
Target reported first-quarter profit rose 18 percent and earnings beat analyst estimates. But the discount retailer warned of slower growth in the second quarter. Still, shares traded up about 1 percent on the day.
And Hewlett-Packard won a seven-year contract from NASA to provide computers and equipment. The contract could be worth $6.5 billion.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We‘re back with Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” Jill Zuckman of “The Chicago Tribune.”
And, by the way, Jill Zuckman is a local Washingtonian.
MATTHEWS: And Jonathan Capehart of “The Washington Post.”
Gentlemen, thank you.
In testimony before Congress today, former Justice Department official Monica Goodling, under immunity that she can‘t be prosecuted, said that Gonzales‘ number two misled Congress in the U.S. attorney firing scandal. She was talking about McNulty, the former deputy. Her testimony puts even more pressure on the embattled attorney general.
Here‘s HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster.
REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: ... the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
MONICA GOODLING, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WHITE HOUSE LIAISON: I do.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, Monica Goodling testified she was not very involved in the seemingly political firings of federal prosecutors.
But, while trying to distance herself from the scandal, Goodling damaged Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and outgoing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
GOODLING: Despite my and others‘ best efforts, the deputy‘s public testimony was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects.
SHUSTER: Goodling said McNulty misled Congress about Justice Department discussions over the prosecutors and about the level of White House involvement in the firings.
GOODLING: The White House had been involved for several—he was aware that the department had worked for at least several months with the White House, and that many offices in the White House had signed off.
SHUSTER: After trashing McNulty and hurting the White House, Goodling then undercut Gonzales. Goodling described a meeting with top officials and Gonzales at the Justice Department, where they discussed the prosecutors being dismissed.
One of the prosecutors was New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias.
GOODLING: I asked the question at that point—“I still don‘t know how Mr. Iglesias got on the list.” And someone in the room just said, “That‘s been addressed.”
CONYERS: Do you know who it was that gave that answer?
GOODLING: I don‘t remember.
SHUSTER: But Goodling said she did remember the attorney general having an earlier conversation with Republican Senator Pete Domenici, and that Domenici was angry Iglesias was not charging Democrats with vote fraud.
Goodling‘s testimony was significant, because Gonzales has testified he cannot remember the phone call with Domenici or the meeting at the Justice Department. And lawmakers suspect Gonzales of stonewalling.
Goodling testified today she never spoke with White House counsel Harriet Miers or Bush political adviser Karl Rove. But she acknowledged having contact with Rove‘s deputy, Scott Jennings. Goodling also admitted that she made hiring decisions at the Justice Department based on political views.
GOODLING: I do acknowledge that I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions.
SHUSTER: That is usually a violation of federal law. And Democrat Bobby Scott pressed Goodling, a lawyer, on that point.
GOODLING: The best I can say is that I know I took political considerations into account on some occasions.
REP. ROBERT C. SCOTT (D), VIRGINIA: Was that legal?
GOODLING: Sir, I‘m not able to answer that question. I know I crossed the line.
SCOTT: What line, legal?
GOODLING: I crossed the line of the civil service rules.
SCOTT: You crossed the line on civil service laws, is that right?
GOODLING: I believe I crossed the lines. But I didn‘t mean to.
SHUSTER: Other Democrats were shocked Goodling, who has never prosecuted a single case, even had any responsibility for hiring and firing at the Justice Department. And, when Goodling was asked what previous experience she had making personnel decisions, the first thing on her mind was:
GOODLING: College, where I was student body president, we actually did hire people to work on various organizations...
REP. LINDA T. SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: In a professional capacity, outside of college?
GOODLING: At the Republican National Committee, I was the deputy director there of research and strategic planning, and we had...
SANCHEZ: You did hiring and firing there?
GOODLING: I did some in the research department that I....
SANCHEZ: OK. How did you get your
SHUSTER: Democrats said it underscored the deep politicization of the Bush administration‘s Justice Department. And, with Goodling unable to explain the firing of the federal prosecutors or provide a full picture of actions by White House officials, including Karl Rove, the frustration grew.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: But I want the record to be clear that the only way we can get to the full truth is if Mr. Karl Rove is sitting in the very same seat that you‘re sitting in. And he needs to be here.
SHUSTER (on camera): Rove, however, refuses to testify publicly or under oath. So, that standoff with Congress continues.
Meanwhile, late this afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said that Monica Goodling was wrong, and that he, McNulty, testified truthfully earlier this year, based on what he knew at the time.
None of these contradictions, though, are very good for Attorney General Gonzales, who continues to face congressional demands for Gonzales‘ resignation.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Well, that fellow you just saw there, David Shuster, is my colleague. And I love the guy. And he‘s getting married this weekend to Julianna, a gorgeous woman. What a—what a wedding it‘s going to be.
That‘s his last appearance, for a few days, at least.
MATTHEWS: They‘re going away.
Howard, let‘s talk...
FINEMAN: I would hope so.
MATTHEWS: Howard, let‘s talk about the reality of the guy he just talked about, Gonzales.
Is this just a pile of goo that is going anywhere? We‘re just stuck in this discussion? Is he just going to sit there and role around in whatever for another two or three weeks and then we forget it about and move on?
FINEMAN: This is like becoming a public utility in Washington. It‘s like turning on the water and the electricity. It‘s just going to be here and be here because it‘s marching inexorably toward Karl Rove. They‘re going to issue subpoenas Karl Rove.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to show?
FINEMAN: He won‘t show. There will be a court fight about it. It will drag on and on. They will accuse Rove, accuse Rove, accuse Rove. Gonzales is going to stay. He‘s a convenient pinata for George W. Bush because members of Congress can whack away at him. No candy comes and leave George Bush alone.
MATTHEWS: Well, I just have to ask you, Jill, because you had sad something in the dressing room tonight. Do you really think this is getting towards the end of this man‘s public service.
ZUCKMAN: Well, I think everybody in Washington thought so a month ago.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s be real, it‘s why he‘s staying there. Two reasons, he‘s appointed by the president. You can‘t impeach him really. They‘re not going to impeach him. There‘s no grounds for anything like. He didn‘t do anything illegal like that. So it‘s up to the president and he‘s sticking. It‘s up to Gonzales. He‘s sticking. So why have a public debate about something that‘s going to be decided by two people? We have nothing—we can say this—we can talk about this for every hour for the rest of our lives. Who says he‘s ever going to leave?
ZUCKMAN: I don‘t know that he is ever going to leave?
MATTHEWS: Where else would he go?
ZUCKMAN: Well, we talked about this last week.
ZUCKMAN: I think he can find gainful employment if he were to leave.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, what‘s your betting over there when you have to write the editorial every day? I know you‘ve gotten one written already about good buy Gonzales already.
CAPEHART: No, and I‘m speaking for myself, not for the board, speaking for myself. But I think, you know, Alberto Gonzales is like the Scott paper towel person, you know, how strong is this paper towel. You can dump a turkey on it and it won‘t break. Every time someone goes up to the hill to testify it‘s one more turkey, one more pile of grapes on this already overweight paper towel. How can this guy—personally I think I don‘t see how he‘s still there. His credibility—
MATTHEWS: Well, nobody‘s saying don‘t squeeze the Charmin in this case, or the quicker picker upper.
MATTHEWS: I am very familiar with television. Anyway, thank you. Good to have you on. Keep filling us in on what‘s going on in that editorial board at the “Washington Post.” Anyway, thank you Howard. Thank you Jill, who‘s not from Chicago.
Up next Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who is from Chicago. And here‘s what he had to say last night about the new war bill. This is Rahm Emanuel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: I view this as the beginning of the end of the president‘s policy in Iraq in this way: it ends the blank check on more troops, more money, more time, and more of the same. And it begins the notion that we have to have a new direction to Iraq, that has accountability, standards that you can measure progress or not. And the notion that what we‘ve done in the past doesn‘t work. And that you have to find some other way to bring a conclusion to the Iraq war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s Jim Clyburn, the other leader, behind him. Congressman Rahm Emanuel is coming here in a minute. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A lot of Democrats think they won control of Congress last year by campaigning for an end to the Iraq war. Last night, however, House Democrats decided to move forward with a war funding bill that does not include a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops. U.S. Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois is the chairman of the House Democratic caucus. We‘ll let him explain right now. So congressman, explain how this is the beginning of the end of this war in Iraq.
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, the president said not to timelines, and we said no to a blank check. What he also said was—about a week ago he said would not accept the benchmarks that are in the Senator Warner proposal and the two reports. He said he opposed it just a week ago. Now, attached to the funding will actually be policy.
Remember two things, he‘s had six funding bill, equally over a half a trillion dollars with a total blank check over the last four years of this war. This is the first funding that has had policy attached that requires 18 separate benchmarks that have to be met and timelines, as well as two separate reports, one on July 15th and one in September on the progress of the war, as well as the progress in making a political solution.
That is the first time there‘s been any policy attached to it. It doesn‘t have the timelines, something we wanted. But it has benchmarks, something he didn‘t want.
MATTHEWS: Do those benchmarks have teeth?
EMANUEL: It has some teeth and some elements. And I think what happens here, Chris, and why I believe this is the beginning of the end is it‘s the end of a blank check. And it‘s the beginning of bringing accountability to the progress and the prosecution of this war. That‘s number one.
Number two, immediately in September, I mean in July, rather, we‘re going take up the Defense Appropriations Bill, the full funding for the defense effort. And in there we‘re going to put other policy issues and Congressman Jack Murtha has outlined those to the caucus of what we‘re going to accomplish. And that will again take up and ratchet up and bring some accountability and oversight to this effort in Iraq.
And the second thing is, remember just a week ago, about 14 Republicans went to the White House and said, we‘re done with this, as prosecuted, this war. And in September, if General Petraeus cannot say we‘re making significant progress, we‘re done giving you a blank check and walking blindly behind you. Now that is a—as you remember in history, when a president‘s own party begins to crack under the pressure, you then build a bipartisan consensus to bring this war to a conclusion, as prosecuted by this president.
And that‘s why I believe this is the beginning of the end. And most importantly, as already you can see in the papers, Chris, they‘re now talking about another plan beyond the surge, because the surge hasn‘t brought the type of teeth.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever heard of a general saying he can‘t meet a mission? I mean won‘t Petraeus have to, because of his oath of office, come back and say, Mr. President, we can do this job. And the minute he says that, you guys lose the argument.
EMANUEL: No. First of all, I‘m not going to predict, nor are you going to predict—
MATTHEWS: I will predict that no military man in my lifetime has ever said we can‘t win. That‘s not the job of U.S. military officers, to say we can‘t win.
EMANUEL: No, my guess is you‘re going to get, over here we are making some progress. Over there we‘re not. You‘re going to see what you see on the ground. But what you do now know is that the president‘s own party and members of the Congressional league of his own party have said no more like this. Senator Warner, although it was a compromise, not one that we fully endorse, in the sense of everything we wanted, but does accomplish this main objective, accountability, does start to begin the process of changing the direct.
It‘s not everything. No one will ever say it‘s everything. But it‘s the first step. And that is why I say it‘s the beginning of the end of the war, as prosecuted by this president.
MATTHEWS: Can you clarify this: there has been so much discussion, as you just did, about Petraeus having this report in September. We‘re all waiting for it, of course. We trust him. He‘s very respected. But here‘s the question: the president has never spelled out that this is a negative report, if he says we‘ve had a really hard time clearing these areas, he‘ll change his policy. Has Bush ever told you, the president, that he will change his policy if we‘re not winning?
EMANUEL: Chris, I always argue there was always two timelines in this war as it relates. One was the president of the United States is determined on January 20th of 2009 to leave a big box in the Oval Office, on the desk in the Oval Office, stamped Iraq for the person replacing him, because he does not have the political capacity, nor does he won‘t to try to resolve what happened.
The Republicans in Congress said you‘ve got until September of 2007. If there is no change in either the context of this war, or a change in the direction of the policy your pursuing, we‘re not going to vote blindly as you have asked. And that‘s the debate, is between the Republican congressional wing on their timeline and what the president is determined to see. And what we‘re forcing is constantly bringing pressure, endlessly, to bring a different direction, which is why the Republicans have finally said, we can‘t keep having votes where we‘re blindly supporting a policy that‘s not bearing fruit.
That‘s how you have a change in policy. You just don‘t do it Democrats confronting the president, but ratcheting up the power, where Republicans finally go to the White House, as they did a week ago, and say Mr. President, no more.
MATTHEWS: Are you hearing anything indirectly through friends in the House that is the case, that they are ready to jump ship?
EMANUEL: I‘m not going to expose individuals.
MATTHEWS: I‘m not saying the names, but are you hearing from Republican colleagues that they‘ve had it?
EMANUEL: Absolutely and it crosses ideological, geographic spaces where they basically see the policy, as pursued by the president. Even the surge hasn‘t accomplished what they said—you know, any paper you open up they‘re talking about another plan, another idea, because this is the third surge with the same results. The president‘s policy of more troops, more time, more money, and more of the same as worn with Congress, the Senate, and the American people, and the international community.
He is isolated because the way he has pursued this war has isolated. I always remind people this: on September 11th, 2001, the entire world, after those events, stood with us. Six years later, we have very few friends in the international community who see what we‘re doing around the Mideast and around the world as in their best interest. That‘s an amazing six years. And now even the president‘s own party, that has been blindly loyal for him in this effort, has told him to his face, members of his own congressional wing of his party, said what your doing isn‘t working and you need a new policy.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think you‘re preaching to the choir. This audience watching us tonight knows exactly the truth of that. We‘re going to have to see what happens in September. Congressman, thank you very much. It was Congressman Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
Up next Arizona‘s Republican chairman thinks his party is saying things they shouldn‘t about this new immigration bill. We‘ll be right back to tell you about it. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The Senate bill on immigration reform is not playing well in Arizona, despite the fact that the two Arizona senators, Jon Kyl and, of course, John McCain, are behind it all the way. Showing his outrage, Randy Pullen, who‘s chairman of the Arizona Republican party used this graphic representation to show how the party faithful was feeling about that bill out there.
And Randy Pullen‘s with us this evening. Mr. Pullen, why are your two U.S. senators pushing a bill that is not selling with the Republican faithful?
RANDY PULLEN, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: Well, I think what—well, first of all, let me address the graphic there. I was going through probably several hundred letters I had received with reporters. And as I was reading different sections of them, I just pulled that one out and said, here is one that you can read for yourself. It‘s just the Republican party faithful are very upset with this bill in Arizona. They do not see it as a bill that provides border security, which is a number one issue in Arizona. They see it as a blanket amnesty for all those that are here now.
MATTHEWS: Well is it? Is it? Mr. Pullen, is that what the bill does?
PULLEN: Well, I have read major sections of the bill and I think, clearly, whether you have been one month or you have been here 10 years, you get amnesty under this bill. You get to stay in this country. But more worrisome is the fact that the triggers that are provided in the bill really don‘t provide for border security. It just says we‘re going to build another 250 miles of fence along a 2,000 mile border and add 4,000 -- in essence 4,000 more border control. I do not believe that is going to secure the border at all, based on my --
MATTHEWS: Why do people say that? I completely agree with you, sir. I think anyone who thinks that a border is going—a fence is going to keep somebody out who knows there‘s a job at the other end of the run, like these poor guys running in—If there‘s a job in Chicago that pays 400 bucks a week and they are making nothing, they are going to get up there and get that job. I don‘t know.
Let me ask you this, is the problem that the last time they passed immigration reform, the Simspon/Mazzoli bill, nothing worked. It was just another pie in the sky. Everybody got legalized and nothing was done.
PULLEN: That‘s exactly what happened Chris. You know that over the past 22 years, nothing really has happened with respect to closing down the border, stopping the flow of illegal immigration. There is a lot of angst out there that that won‘t be any different this time either, that they‘re not serious about securing the border. We will end up with the same situation and this time it will be 20 or 30 million that are the legalized. And then 10 years down the road, we will be facing the same situation again.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t the people pushing these bills see what we see, you and I see, because of history? Why don‘t they see that they‘re just solving the undocumented worker problem by giving documents to the undocumented workers. I mean, all they‘re solving is a paper—It‘s a paper solution.
PULLEN: That is exactly right. I would be the first one to say that I do believe we need some guest workers in this country. When you look at our unemployment, we have under two percent unemployment in technical skilled, college graduate workers and we have seven percent unemployment with unskilled.
MATTHEWS: I know, we need certain kind of immigrants. Anyway, thank you for very Randy Pullen. Thank you for joining us Republican party chair in Arizona. Tomorrow on HARDBALL, historian Doug Brinkley, editor of that new book on the Reagan diaries. What a great book. It‘s all good Reagan‘s actual words. I‘ve been reading it, pretty interesting stuff. Now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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