Guests: Dominic Carter, Pat Callaghan, James Pindell
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Breaking news, obviously, tonight out of New Hampshire. Right now, there‘s a hostage situation at the campaign headquarters of Senator Hillary Clinton up in Rochester, New Hampshire. A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to him is holed up and demanding to speak to Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton, by the way, is down here in Washington. Police held a news briefing moments ago, calling the situation “fluid,” but would not confirm the number of hostages being held right now.
Let‘s bring in FBI profiler and former hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt. Well, if you‘re a hostage negotiator right now, what would you be doing?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Well, I would feel pretty good at this point. You‘ve got three of the four hostages out. We‘ve got a pretty good handle on who this guy is, Chris. We‘re told that he‘s somebody with mental problems. He‘s been drinking. He probably has railroad flares on him.
The only challenge—the only thing that says don‘t go busting in the door and grab this guy and cuff him and stuff him, as they say, is the possibility he could have a handgun, he could have an edged instrument. They don‘t—the unknown is still challenging to police.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re watching the scene from outside right now.
Clint, stay with us.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams has more on the suspect.
Pete, give us the sense of who this man is.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we‘re told by law enforcement authorities, Chris, that his name is Leeland Eisenberg, someone who is well known to the police in Rochester, New Hampshire, a sort of outspoken character who has—a frequent objector, for example, to local police tactics. We‘re told that he told—law enforcement officials tell us that he told his son early today, Be sure to watch TV this afternoon. We‘re told that he went to a hardware store earlier today and bought some flares.
Leeland Eisenberg is the name. Now, other names have been circulating out there, Chris, and it is possible, certainly, that Mr. Eisenberg has some aliases, but one name that has been mentioned by another news organization, we‘re told, is not one of his aliases.
So Leeland Eisenberg, a white man in his 40s, someone who is known to local police. They‘re fairly confident this is the person that they‘re dealing with. And obviously, they have been tracing his movements throughout the day since discovering his identity to see what could have led up to this. So that‘s the name we‘re told, Leeland Eisenberg of Rochester—the Rochester, New Hampshire, area.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Pete Williams from the—covering for NBC for the justice area.
Let me ask you, Clint...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... Cliff (SIC) -- what is the—what is the danger here of kind of not moving in on this guy? Why haven‘t they rushed him since 1:00 o‘clock? If he‘s a guy who‘s been drinking...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... if he‘s a guy who only has flares that he picked up at the hardware store—his kid mentions that he didn‘t—didn‘t make any mention of arms—being armed at all. Why not go in on the guy and end this thing?
VAN ZANDT: Well, you still got the unknown. The last thing police want to do is take a situation that‘s stable, where three hostages have been released, nobody‘s being hurt, the threat level seems to be in hand, and if you send a SWAT team busting through the front door, and all of a sudden, the guy comes up with a handgun or he‘s got an edged instrument, a knife or a broken bottle, on the throat of the hostage—you don‘t want to make that happen. The last thing we want is to police raise the level and have a hostage harmed. Or the reality is, you don‘t want to go in and shoot this guy, either, if you can talk him out.
MATTHEWS: Well, his demand isn‘t monetary. Apparently, from what we‘re getting in fleeting reports, is that he wanted to talk to Senator Clinton. You were mentioning before we went on the air just now that someone back in the ‘70s did that with President Carter, and the president did get on the line with the fellow.
VAN ZANDT: Exactly. A guy by the name of Cory Moore (ph) in Warrensville, Heights, Ohio, in 1977, a 25-year-old guy, a former Marine with some psychological problems, happened to be African-American. He didn‘t like the way African-Americans were being treated in America, so his demand was that every white person get off the face of the planet, or number two, every white person should burn all their money.
Well, he was holding a police captain at gunpoint, two guns, his own and a police officer‘s gun. This went on for 44 hours. He demanded that President Carter come and apologize on TV and talk to him on the phone. President Carter said, I tell you what, here‘s the deal. If you put down the guns, let the hostage out, I will talk to you on the phone. And Carter did follow through on that when the guy surrendered.
MATTHEWS: And that was resolved, that...
VAN ZANDT: And that was resolved positively.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to NBC campaign embed Mike Memoli. He‘s on the phone from Rochester, New Hampshire. Thank you, Mike, very much for joining us. What do you know about this situation at the headquarters there?
MIKE MEMOLI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we left a press conference with local police here, and unfortunately, we couldn‘t get the confirmation on any information. They said only that it‘s a fluid situation. It is a hostage situation. They wouldn‘t confirm the number of people who may still be inside Hillary Clinton‘s office or the number of people who had been released.
Just from conversations we‘ve had with some people on the street, with some of the local reporters here, there are, you know, unconfirmed reports that there may have been two people released, that there may be two people still in there. But these are unconfirmed. The police haven‘t been able to give us any definitive information.
MATTHEWS: So what do you think about this case? You‘re up there.
MEMOLI: Well, it‘s really remarkable, Chris. I mean, the New Hampshire primary is all about retail politics. It‘s about being able to talk to your neighbors and meet the candidates in person, walk right up to them and ask questions. All these campaign headquarters and mostly—most of them are in Manchester, but we have some of the—you know, the top tier campaigns have these smaller offices in cities and towns across the state. And you know, the idea is for anybody to be able to just walk in right off the street, talk to some volunteers, get some campaign information, sign up, pick up some yard signs. And so this kind of incident really gets at the heart of what the New Hampshire primary is all about.
We heard already that Mitt Romney‘s campaign is locking down its offices in Manchester. I mean, it‘s just remarkable that this is what it‘s come to. Obviously, this is a fairly isolated incident. We haven‘t seen anything like this in the past, but it‘s really going to change the way people look at this. I mean, New Hampshire‘s (INAUDIBLE) first in the nation tradition, and it‘s unclear if something like this is going to change that (INAUDIBLE) people (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: How many headquarters does the Clinton campaign have in the state of New Hampshire?
MEMOLI: Well, her and Barack Obama kind of have this tit for tat. Each time one of them opens an office, the other one races to try and find another town to open one in. I believe they were at, like, 17 and 16 between Hillary and Obama. Obama‘s campaign just announced the other day that they were going to open a new one.
But you know (INAUDIBLE) these towns, especially a town like Rochester, which is really a main drag (ph), Barack Obama‘s office is right next door to Hillary Clinton‘s office. So it‘s interesting to think what could have happened if this man wanted to go into one campaign office or the other. But you know, really, they are just a storefront on Main Street with a couple desks, a couple volunteers, likely (ph). They aren‘t really talking about paid staffers with these kinds of campaign offices. Again, elderly people, college students who are just there, trying to find a way to be involved in the campaign.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about Rochester, New Hampshire. I remember years ago, in a family station wagon trip up through there, it was a nice little New England town. It had an old Woolworth‘s on the main drag. It was very much a wonderful old New England town. What‘s it like now? Have you been there lately?
MEMOLI: Exactly right. When I arrived on the scene, we‘re seeing a lot of, you know, young men, women, boys and girls with their dogs and their bikes, trying to look at what happened. Main Street is all decorated for Christmas. I mean, you‘re looking down the main street and you see the Christmas tree. All the wreaths are decorated. It really is like typical Americana, a typical New England town here. And for this kind of activity to happen, just talking to some locals, they‘ve never seen anything like this. It‘s kind of unreal.
MATTHEWS: OK, stick around a little bit, Mike. It‘s great to hear from you.
Let me go back to Clint. We just got a report from Pete Williams...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... from NBC News, of course, who covers the Justice Department, who gave us a pretty interesting picture. He‘s apparently a town figure, someone...
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Yes. He‘s (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: ... somebody they know. He apparently has made complaints against the police department. He‘s someone who‘s known. He‘s a character. I‘m not sure if there‘s a negative factor about him. He probably is an interesting guy.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And not very dangerous to anybody (INAUDIBLE) thought (ph). The fact that he—I just find it interesting that the guy is known by the police, that he‘s a guy that, Oh, I know, we all know Leeland Eisenberg. Yes, sure, he‘s been around.
VAN ZANDT: In these situations, short of it being an international terrorist situation, Chris, that‘s how these are. These are somebody with an emotional issue. They‘re going to have written letters to the editor complaining about everything and—anything and everything. They‘ve told all their friends, they‘ve told all their family they have a complaint. They get a little bit too close to a bottle of beer sometimes, and this is the way they go out, unfortunately, express (ph) themself.
Now, you know, why today? Why not yesterday? Why not next week? There‘s some catalyst in this guy‘s life. But by and large, law enforcement feels pretty comfortable, We know who he is...
VAN ZANDT: ... We know what his agendas are...
MATTHEWS: Well, let me just say something that—it seems to me, without getting involved in this case...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... if this fellow is watching, no big harm done so far.
VAN ZANDT: No foul. No foul whatsoever.
MATTHEWS: And I think that the smart move right now is to end this thing. We can all agree with that, in terms of the—the crime is minimal, at this point. It could be very serious if it continues.
VAN ZANDT: You know, as an old hostage negotiator, I would be saying the same thing—Look, my friend, nobody‘s been hurt. You‘ve let three people out there already. You don‘t even have a weapon. You wanted to make a statement. You had some issues today. We‘re more than ready to let you make a statement, but it‘s going to have to be after everybody‘s released. You come out, if you want to talk to the media for a few minutes, you can, but the bottom line is, in America, we don‘t take hostages and use that as a means to talk to a political figure or anybody else.
MATTHEWS: And by the way, if he has something to say—again, not trying to choreograph this, but if anybody in this situation has something to say to a major public official, you can bet they will listen to you now. They will hear you. You don‘t have to hear them on the other end of the phone saying, Thank you. They will hear every word you say if you simply speak it right now...
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: ... to anybody listening. Let me ask you about—thinking about this—if alcohol is involved, if this person is a civilian, not a terrorist...
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
MATTHEWS: ... a regular person who may have an issue—it seems to me the alcohol wears off.
VAN ZANDT: Right.
MATTHEWS: People come to their heads...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: ... come to clarity and they realize the situation they‘re in. Maybe you‘ve been in that situation as a younger man. I have.
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: And you realize, Now, this is a time to cool it.
VAN ZANDT: Well...
MATTHEWS: Tell me about those situations.
VAN ZANDT: You just have to find closure. You know, this may be the biggest thing he‘s been involved in in his life.
VAN ZANDT: So now you have to find a way to close the deal. You have to find a way to let him surrender with dignity. You‘re absolutely right, he‘s going to be tired. This has been going on since 12:30 Eastern Standard Time. The guy‘s getting tired. He‘s seeing light go to dark right now. He‘s trying to find a reason to resolve this. The police are trying to help him. All we have to do is make that deal, everybody goes home. Well, he goes someplace tonight.
MATTHEWS: What‘s this tell you about the Rochester Police Department, that they‘re basically very recessive (ph). They‘re waiting this out. They‘re not rushing. This isn‘t Rambo tactics here.
VAN ZANDT: No, and this is something we do, Chris. Ninety percent of
hostage situations in the United States, if you give negotiators the time -
you have a good tactical team set up there, but if you take your time, you talk these guys out, they‘re willing to come out, they‘re willing to surrender and get this over with.
He‘s already passed on what looked like one written statement, but again, this is not the type of guy you want to give him a direct line to Senator Clinton because tomorrow, it‘ll be somebody else wanting to talk to Obama or who knows.
MATTHEWS: You have to figure he‘s on the phone right now, don‘t you.
VAN ZANDT: Well, he‘s on the phone, talking to a hostage negotiator. I saw them earlier. They strung a hard line. What you don‘t want is, like, give him a cell phone and the battery dies right in the middle of trying to negotiate...
MATTHEWS: ... hard line right now.
VAN ZANDT: So he‘s on a hard line. The police are trying to facilitate...
VAN ZANDT: ... a surrender.
MATTHEWS: We‘re giving you all we have right now. We got a report with the fellow‘s name is Leeland Eisenberg. We got that report from Pete Williams. We know he‘s known to police. We know that he‘s a figure around town who has complained before about issues, and he has one now, apparently. And we have had an earlier report he wanted to speak to Senator Clinton. That‘s about all we know. We‘ve been watching from outside the headquarters. Could be a dangerous situation. Could end well, if this fellow decides that he‘s made his point. And we all hope he does do that, decide that, to end this without violence.
Clint, stay with us. We‘re going to be back with more on the hostage situation at Hillary Clinton‘s Rochester, New Hampshire, headquarters after this.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. PAUL CALLAGHAN, ROCHESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT: The situation is still fluid. I want our residents to know that the area is stabilized, that we‘re very confident that we have the resources available to us to handle this situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re continuing our coverage, our live coverage of this breaking story, the hostage situation at Senator Hillary Clinton‘s campaign headquarters up in Rochester, New Hampshire.
Joining us right now live from the scene in Rochester is WHDH Byron Barnett. Byron, thank you for joining us. Give us the picture as you see it right now of this hostage situation ongoing.
BYRON BARNETT, WHDH-TV: Well, Chris, the situation right now here in Rochester, New Hampshire, a town of about 30,000 people, the entire downtown area is blocked off. There‘s police tape everywhere, lots of police cruisers. The local police are here, some of the local police stations in surrounding towns, state police, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI, Secret Service. So they‘ve got a lot of folks here. The police officers—it‘s SWAT units, SWAT vehicles, so it looks like sort of a para-military force out here. So there‘s really a lot of firepower here.
Everyone has been cleared away from the downtown area. The spot where this—where Hillary Clinton‘s campaign headquarters is, is really in the middle of downtown. There‘s a lot of businesses, a lot of apartments. People live in the area. They‘ve all been—they‘ve all been cleared away from that area right now with the police tape, as we wait for the situation to unfold.
Now, I know you‘ve been following it, and you heard from police captain Paul Callaghan. He really didn‘t say much at all. He said some things that you sort of have to read into what the situation is. A lot of what we‘re getting is from people who live around here. He said the situation is still fluid, but he said it‘s stabilized.
He said it is a hostage situation. Now, this was about 45 minutes ago. But he wouldn‘t go beyond that. He wouldn‘t say anything about the individual, the suspect who is holding—believed to be holding people or held people inside of this building, would not acknowledge whether he was even known to police, criminal record, or anything like that.
The reporters really pressed him on this, but they really decided they weren‘t going to give out any information at this point, so you have to sort of read between the lines and try to figure out for yourself what exactly is going on.
Sometimes in these situations, they might be concerned that maybe there‘s a television inside there and that he‘s—this individual might be watching television. They didn‘t say that there was, but I‘ve been in these situations before, and sometimes that‘s a big concern of police.
There was a woman here who works in a hotel. She says that a young man came in to her hotel—it‘s a few blocks away from this—claiming to be the stepson of the individual who‘s holding or held people inside Hillary Clinton‘s headquarters. She says the stepson said his stepfather was despondent, had been drinking a lot, but was—only had flares, road flares, attached to his body, not bombs, and that he was harmless and that he was upset about some marital problems.
Again, now, this comes from a young woman who works in a hotel who claims that the stepson of the suspect in the building walked in and explained all this to her, saying that he was just—he had a rough day and he just launched into this long story.
So that‘s the picture we‘re getting here. We‘re getting bits of pieces from people who live in the area. A woman here said she was in the middle of getting a haircut a few doors down. The police rushed in, told her she had to get out, she had to jump up in the middle of her haircut and leave. So that‘s the—that‘s the flavor of the situation, of what is going on around here. We‘re getting a little bit from the police, a little bit from people who work around here.
But all we can say right now for sure is that, according to police as of about 45 minutes ago, it is still a fluid situation, but it is stabilized, and that it is a hostage situation. So that‘s the scene up here in Rochester, New Hampshire, right now. Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Byron Barnett. He‘s with WHDH. That‘s the NBC affiliate up in New Hampshire. Let me—actually in Boston.
Right now, let me go to Dominic Carter, senior political reporter for the New York cable news network New York 1. He‘s covered Hillary Clinton and has had many experiences in dealing with the offices around the state and the country up there in New Hampshire.
Well, Dominic, tell me about the offices up there. Looks like a standard storefront a lot of us in politics have been watching for years. You go in the storefront. It‘s usually got maybe a couple desks in it, a couple phones, maybe a TV set, and maybe three or four volunteers working around the room.
DOMINIC CARTER, NY1: Chris, you are 100 percent correct. That is indeed the case.
The problem with situations like this—Senator Clinton and the other candidates, they have plenty of protection when they are around. That is the key point. When they are around, security for the most part is not an issue. It‘s situations like this all across America. This is a huge problem waiting to happen, unfortunately, all across America because the fact that the candidate‘s name is on the storefront makes them a bullseye, if you will, for certain individuals for whatever reason that may want to target these locations.
I recall, Chris, going into locations in—in Des Moines, Iowa. And we could all—we could change the name of the small city or wherever the case may be or in—or in New Hampshire, and it‘s always similar to what we are looking at there in Rochester. Most of the time, it is a downtown area where there is normally, in many towns, a Woolworth‘s store that is still around or a small arts-and-crafts store, a few businesses, downtown drag for cars. And, normally, you will have the storefront.
And the problem with these candidate offices is that these offices are made for retail politics, to walk in and out, and be able to have access to information on the candidates, information on what their positions are, and literally to feel that you are part of the political process.
And, so, that means you can literally open the door and just walk right in and talk to a campaign volunteer. Now, normally, Chris, I can tell you, like, in Iowa and in New Hampshire, spending some time in both states and following candidates and so on, normally, when the candidate is not there, that is exactly the case. You can just walk right in.
And, in this day and age, obviously, that‘s a serious concern. When the candidate is there, that‘s a different story. And, in the case of Senator Clinton, I can tell you what it‘s like covering her around the state and covering her as she travels. She has a—without going into any information that may endanger security, she has indeed a very good security detail.
When she is at a location, there is someone who is standing, stationed at the front door. So, this type of situation, if the senator had been present—and she is not, fortunately—there probably would have been a Secret Service agent standing right there, screening people. You can still walk in, but, obviously, Chris, they are trained to notice anything that stands outside the ordinary.
The problem is, what‘s going to happen now all across America in every state where you have campaign offices in many cities, many small towns for these candidates, and there is literally, if you will, Chris, no security?
Remember, these candidates, they have to prioritize in terms of their budgets. If they have security for these offices all across America, that defeats the purpose of folks being able to walk right in and just talk to the local people about the candidate. And, if they spend money on security, that‘s money that they cannot spend on other things, like television advertising and many other things that candidates deem extremely important for their campaigns.
MATTHEWS: Well, I completely agree with you, in terms of the security problem, because you have a conflict here.
If you have a secure campaign headquarters, it won‘t work, because the idea is to invite people to just walk in off the streets. You might give them a chore or two to do to get them involved in the campaign. You might even have them writing letters to people, thanking them for coming to visit that same headquarters.
I mean, the key in politics is to get people involved as quickly as possible, and don‘t let them, walking away, walk away thinking, oh, they don‘t need me, because that‘s the worst message you can send in politics, is, I don‘t need your help.
You‘re right, though. I don‘t like the solution. It reminds me, Dominic, of the big picture down here in Washington, where you used to be able to walk in front of the White House. In fact, back in the glory days of the impeachment of Nixon, you could blow your car horn if you wanted him to leave. That was democracy in action.
Now you can‘t even drive your car past the White House and look out the window at your president‘s home. I hope we don‘t get to the point where don‘t have campaign headquarters anymore.
Anyway, Dominic, stick with us, if you can. You have given us a great report so far.
Pat Callaghan is a reporter for the NBC affiliate up in Portland, Maine. He‘s on the scene as well in Rochester.
Pat, your view, as we are getting this picture from a number of perspectives. But we‘re watching here, it looks to me, like a waiting game, a classic—classic hostage situation, a barricade situation, if you will.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
PAT CALLAGHAN, WCSH REPORTER: Exactly what it is.
You can see behind us, there‘s a couple of dozen state police cruisers, bomb disposal units. We have seen a whole bunch of guys in the full SWAT gear. Basically, they seem very calm, very quiet as they make their way, because we don‘t know for sure who is inside.
The police are still calling it a hostage situation, so there may still be one person inside with the hostage-taker. But they are taking it, as you say, very slowly. They were trying to establish communication with the man inside. It‘s very telling, of course, that Senator Clinton is not even in New Hampshire today, but, rather, down in Virginia.
So, there is no particular urgency, other than the fact that you have got four or five blocks in downtown Rochester, New Hampshire, cordoned off. And it‘s quite a curiosity for the people who live around here.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this. How far away are people kept away from that building right now, from the actual headquarters? How wide a perimeter have they set up?
CALLAGHAN: Yes, how far away? Well, the perimeter, as I say, is about four or five blocks. We have a reporter and photographer who are down at the closest barricade. And they are probably—I wouldn‘t want to give an exact measurement, but they‘re certainly at least a block away.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they‘re to—they do want to—it looks to me like they are still taking the precaution that this person, whose name is apparently Leeland Eisenberg...
MATTHEWS: ... who is making this threat, might well be armed. He might well have explosive devices. He may well just have flares. He may well be intoxicated.
MATTHEWS: Still, although, I think...
MATTHEWS: ... alcohol wears off after about, how is it now, five hours.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me that, if he was drinking before he arrived there, the effect would not still be on him. He may be thinking a lot more clearly, thanks to—thank God, as he is now.
Pat, thank you very much for joining us.
We are going to be back with more on the hostage situation...
CALLAGHAN: OK, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... up at Senator Clinton‘s Rochester, New Hampshire, headquarters. You‘re looking at it.
Right now, we have got the police, the SWAT teams, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials. Everyone here is working to avoid violence. Apparently, the—the person involved is this is making some demands. We don‘t know what they are. We know that he is talking reasonably to the authorities, because he has allowed a number of the hostages to leave.
We know there is a conversation going on, because they are referring to the—the captain of police is referring to this as a stable situation, which is all good news for everybody. Let‘s hope it continues in that way.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We are continuing our live coverage of the hostage situation up at Senator Hillary Clinton‘s campaign headquarters in Rochester, New Hampshire.
Former FBI hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt is sitting with here with in Washington, along with New York One‘s—that‘s a TV station in New York—Dominic Carter. He‘s up there on the scene.
We just got a—we just got a—we are looking at a live picture now. But we also just got a police report from April. Somebody has done some digging. This fellow, who is apparently the one holding the hostages at the headquarters, his name is Leeland Eisenberg, an unusual spelling, L-E-E-L-A-N-D Eisenberg. He‘s 46 years old. He‘s from Milton Road. He‘s charged back then with two counts of stalking.
That sounds like something like this. Let me take—let me take a look.
What‘s going on here, Clint?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Can you tell us what is going on here?
VAN ZANDT: Well, the stalking could very easily be something domestic-related.
We have already had one person, a relative, suggest that he has had marital problems. So, it could be something, you know, connected to his wife, former wife, something like that.
Again, realize, this is someone—should he be the person we are told, with this history of emotional problems, nuisance arrests—we are also told, Chris, that this is a guy who wanted to be hospitalized. So, this—notwithstanding his demand to speak to Senator Clinton, he may be looking for a pass to the hospital. We could wind up with some guy who has a health care issue who can‘t get hospitalized otherwise. And the way he‘s going to do it is like this.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, if he is crying for help and seeking help, he may be getting it soon.
It looks like we are looking at a live scene right now, and actually a pedestrian just walking by, it looks like. It‘s interesting. Now, she is being escorted out of the way, this woman.
VAN ZANDT: Well...
MATTHEWS: Maybe that‘s a hostage. Come to think of it, that could be another hostage getting out.
VAN ZANDT: It could be another hostage who has been released again.
That‘s what they have been working on.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what it looks like we‘re watching right now, with five or six SWAT team officials. And they have taken that young woman back into their circle right now. And they are obviously interviewing her.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, very quickly, they are trying to get tactical information. Is there anybody left in there at all? Does he talk about the bomb? Does he have any other weapons on him? Is he ready to come out?
They need that instant tactical information to make a decision whether this is the point they go in and get him. Or is there another hostage? Or does that threat remain concerning explosive devices on his person?
MATTHEWS: It‘s interesting to watch these people released, these young women. That‘s the second one I have watched. The other stock footage, we have been watching over and over again.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: They don‘t look like that distraught. They don‘t look that anxious. They are doing what—they‘re walking very calmly.
We are watching this very live picture here—very live—live picture of this young woman hostage who has come out of the headquarters, the Hillary Clinton headquarters, in downtown Rochester, New Hampshire.
And she is walking rather briskly away, with—obviously escorted by the -
the SWAT team fellow in the helmet right there, obviously in camouflage and armed.
VAN ZANDT: But, you notice, Chris, her hands.
MATTHEWS: And he is escorting her away.
VAN ZANDT: She‘s talking with her hands.
MATTHEWS: She‘s very animated. And...
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Her—her body language is that she, like the other one—as you have pointed out, she doesn‘t appear to have been threatened or assaulted or anything like that.
She was obviously inconvenienced, but she may not have actually felt a threat to her life. It could have been, this guy could said, hey, I‘m not about to hurt you.
VAN ZANDT: Sit down and relax.
MATTHEWS: She looked self-assured to me. And that‘s just a quick judgment of—let me—let me go right now up to Dominic Carter up there.
Can you sense anything going on up there, Dominic?
CARTER: No, Chris. It just seems like a hostage, or not—or certainly someone that was in the area that is being escorted away by police.
But I just want to go back to your point, Chris, that you made a minute ago about, you know, you could walk into a campaign office at any time and you would find folks writing letters. That is indeed the case.
I—I recall, in Manchester in New Hampshire, and in Des Moines, you walk in, and you literally see folks making the signs that they put up in the office windows. And this is really sad that it‘s coming to this in our country, in terms of, we want to get more people involved in a political process. And this is just going to make it all that much more difficult.
Let‘s go back to the live picture we‘re watching here with Clint Van Zandt, the hostage expert. Look, she has just come out as a hostage. She is sitting in the back of that van. You can see the officials there talking to her. She is sitting there quietly, alone.
They are not on her right now. It‘s interesting. She is just resting there. They are chatting away. It‘s so interesting to watch this live, this live event that could or could not with a violent situation.
But, as we have all agreed, it looks calm right now. There she is getting up now and joining them, as they‘re walking somewhere. There she is, right there. It‘s a live picture of one of the hostages who has just been released from the Hillary Clinton headquarters in Rochester, New Hampshire. She‘s walking briskly along there with that police official in uniform.
And now we are getting some obstruction here from some of the other people, from the news people watching this at a distance. We see the police tape right there.
And that‘s what we have got right now—Clint.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
Realize, Chris, this is a man supposedly who has complaints about the police department. He thinks that law enforcement in this country is restrictive. And, yet, by his actions today, he may very well cause much more restriction.
As you commented, it used to be, in Washington, you would walk around. Now we have these huge barriers in front of buildings. We can‘t get close to the White House. This guy, by his own actions, something like Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber...
CARTER: Reed makes us take our shoes off. This guy may make us go through metal detectors to get into a campaign office.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s—let‘s hope that the campaigns operate prudently and don‘t slam their doors on the public just because of one apparently unclear incident that is occurring right now.
Before—I have always wondered why we change all the rules because of one incident.
VAN ZANDT: Because of one person one time.
MATTHEWS: But if that—if it shuts down democracy, I would say this would be a true tragedy here already in the making.
But we are watching this live right now. And it‘s fascinating. This breaking news is our banner here, and it‘s true. We are in—we‘re in Manchester—we‘re actually in Rochester, New Hampshire, watching live people. It‘s dark now. There is a trooper going by—live people.
We have seen another hostage released just a moment ago. She very calmly was walked over to a van. She sat there a while. And then she was escorted elsewhere.
VAN ZANDT: You know...
MATTHEWS: And now we are back to that...
VAN ZANDT: The positive thing...
MATTHEWS: This is the scene we were watching.
This, by the way, was the scene we just caught live—it‘s now on tape, obviously—of that woman being escorted by those four or five officers. There she is, being escorted away from the headquarters. She has been released by the hostage-taker. It‘s our assessment that she is fairly calm about this, even self-assured.
And, therefore, we are still getting good news out of Rochester, New Hampshire, about the stability and the safety of this situation so far.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
The positive thing about this, Chris, took, is, when you see SWAT, they—they feel comfortable enough to go close to the building. You don‘t see anyone in a dead run from point A to point B. So, it seems like law enforcement feels that they have got a pretty good handle on the situation, as well as the person inside.
And now they are just taking their time. They have—they have got a game plan.
VAN ZANDT: Were I a negotiator, I would feel very good. This could be the fourth and last hostage that‘s come out. So, now we have just to get this guy to walk out.
MATTHEWS: And every hostage that is released is, of course, less of a bargaining chip for the hostage-taker. Of course, it‘s healthy that he is doing this, because he is showing his good will, even as we watch.
Let‘s go to another perspective here. “The Boston Globe”‘s Jim—
James Pindell is up there. He has been on this show several times.
James, thank you for joining us.
Give us your—what—what kind of a catbird seat do you have to this incident we‘re watching?
JAMES PINDELL, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”: Well, right now, I‘m not going tell you where I am at because of competitive reasons. But I am in Man—I am in Rochester.
I was at the scene for several hours. Right now, what we understand -
we—we know who the person was, of course. And we know his leanings politically. There‘s no real reason why he picked Hillary. We‘re talking to—I am doing some talking to his friends now.
Overall, look, this is—Rochester is a battleground city for the place like the Democratic New Hampshire primary. It‘s a Democratic town. It‘s a very small town. It‘s an old mill town, where it once was a thriving area. In the mid-1990s, a company called Cabletron came in and led to the rise of a former governor named Craig Benson, who kind of put his stamp on Rochester.
Overall, the scene is anxious. The state is a bit anxious. As you
probably have been reporting—I have been reporting myself, so I haven‘t
been watching a lot of TV—you know, most campaign offices have been in -
kind of in lockdown. They have been locking all their doors.
Some—I know some campaigns have been calling off their phone banking tonight, even though we are six weeks before the New Hampshire primary. So, overall, this is—this is a pretty battleground place. You have to do very well in a place like Rochester. Hillary Clinton does very well in working-class Rochester.
If you look at polling out of the recent polls from the University of New Hampshire, this is a town she does very well in. So, it‘s a situation where it is starting to get a little chaotic for a small town like this. And it—and we haven‘t seen anything like this really in New Hampshire politics for a few years, anyway, not—not necessarily with campaign offices.
And, you know, we have known, watching the national patterning of Hillary‘s support, that she does very well among what we call women with needs, working women, who may have family difficulties at home, in terms of raising children without much help, low incomes, dependence on minimum wage, that sort of thing, and health care, and child care.
How does that fit into the profile of this gentlemen, Mr. Eisenberg?
PINDELL: Well, I must say, I have a different name.
But, number one, the profile of the person I‘m following, anyway, is very working-class, and went to the local high school, had a lot of local good friends, and then, because of circumstances in his own life, became very libertarian and he became very distraught. People believe he has—he has mental health problems. He recently got divorced.
So, I mean, I don‘t know which person you are reporting. And we are still working on this ourselves, but he is very much of the character—if you want to get that, he is very much of the character...
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s the way we have had him described. His name is Leeland Eisenberg, we are old. Pete Williams broke that story for us, for NBC, just about 25 minutes ago.
Is that the same person you have in your focus?
MATTHEWS: All right. OK.
Well, thank you very much. Stay there. We will...
PINDELL: That may be right. I don‘t—I don‘t—but no.
MATTHEWS: We will be right back to you.
Let‘s take a look, Clint, at what is going right now. We are asked now to keep an eye on the exact event right now, because it looks like, with that new hostage released just now, that we may get a break here. Certainly, as you were saying, this is progress.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. The best case scenario right now, Chris, would be this individual lays down this belt of somewhere between explosives and road flairs, whatever it is, lays that down and then listens to the police command. They may well have him walk out, have him take off his shirt, something like that. They will have his hands in the air.
But you have to listen to what he were just told, his libertarian leanings. This is, we‘re told, a guy who really doesn‘t like police. So when the tactical team starts to give him orders, he may balk at that. This is a critical juncture right now, when just about you think you have got this guy. You have to be careful that you don‘t snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, and ask him to do something that‘s against his personal belief, as far as responding to law enforcement.
MATTHEWS: You know, when you deal in government, as I had for so many years, you come across cases where people who have had a pretty good life so far come up against the government bureaucracy in some incident and it doesn‘t work out for them. They get rejected for a disability claim, something really horrendous happens to them, and they do sort of snap. They say this is not working for me. They change their politics. They become focused, even obsessive about getting satisfaction for a complaint.
They will write letters to anyone in journalism. You will get copies that have been xeroxed a thousand times. They will say, see my complaint. It may be two inches thick. I am trying to get satisfaction. Eventually, we see cases perhaps like this, where someone who was very unhappy with the system has to resort to something—
VAN ZANDT: There other things going on in this guy‘s life. If it‘s the person we are thinking about, he may have gone through a divorce. He‘s got some emotional problems. He‘s got some alcohol problems. He‘s got government problems. This guy has a lot of negatives going on in his life. But the question is, why today? What happened in the last 24 or 48 hours that has caused this guy to last night go to a hardware store, allegedly buy road flairs to make it look like he is wearing a suicide bomber‘s vest and go into Senator Clinton‘s campaign office and take hostages?
That‘s what we need to determine. But hopefully that‘s what police would have gained from the released hostages. He‘s the type of guy that would have talked to them.
MATTHEWS: He may have been impaired by drinking too much throughout this whole day. He may be coming to his senses right now. Anyway, Clint Van Zandt, stick with us. Dominique Carter of New York One, stick with us. We‘ll be right back with more on this hostage situation. We‘ll be back in a split second if something happens. It‘s all up here. There the hostage is, one of the first ones to get out, up at the Hillary Clinton headquarters in Rochester, New Hampshire.
You are watching it all live here on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As part of our continuing coverage, we‘re showing you pictures right now of the scene up there at the Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in Rochester, New Hampshire. I understand we have a one minute delay in affect here to avoid showing what we shouldn‘t be showing on the air if it‘s too graphic.
Joining me right now is hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt and New York Television One‘s Dominic Carter. Clint, we‘re watching something. Tell me about why networks like MSNBC would be careful under the circumstance to have a-minute delay in what we‘re watching.
VAN ZANDT: The worst case scenario would be if this individual really had an explosive device and decided to blow himself up and he took out the building, obviously, and all those SWAT guys standing out front too. Nor do we want to show police tactics. My biggest fear in these situation always is that hostage taker, the barricaded subject is sitting inside watching.
In fact, that happened in California one time in a hostage situation in a bar. The guy saw SWAT coming on television. He turned to the direction he thought they were coming. They were coming 180 degrees behind him. He came in the door. They had a shoot out. But he saw them coming because live television showed it to him.
MATTHEWS: That would give him basically the benefit of a surveillance tape. We don‘t want to give him that. This, as I said—if everybody is tuning in right now, it‘s a one-minute delay on the picture we‘re watching. But it‘s as close to live as you are likely to get in this situation. We have watched over the last several hours—you‘ve probably watched it with us—the hostage being released. We saw at least two young women released. The most recent one just released a few minutes ago in a very calm manner, almost like the police have this very much under control.
There‘s nothing crazy about it. There‘s nothing unstable about it. They keep saying that the situation is fluid, but stable. In other words, they have some kind of a relationship, apparently, with the hostage taker inside. As you say, Clint, he is either wrapped in real bombs or he is wrapped in signal flairs, which aren‘t that dangerous. He apparently was drinking earlier today, according to a report by one his children. That‘s about all we know.
He is apparently a fellow that is known by the local police. His name is Leeland Eisenberg. He has apparently had some problems with the government, perhaps, with his family, with his marriage. He has been arrested as recently as last April for stalking someone. There was, I think, two counts of that. So he has obviously been known to the community as someone who has had problems and has made his presence felt before.
VAN ZANDT: What we need to find out and what law enforcement will
find out, I‘m sure, within a very few minutes, if not an hour or two, is
what prompted him to go into Hillary Clinton‘s office. Why not go two
doors and go into Obama‘s office, or go a block down the street and go into
another candidate‘s office? He had those opportunities. Was it something
MATTHEWS: She is the front-runner. Let‘s go with that. That‘s the simplest reason in the world.
VAN ZANDT: Maybe that‘s because he thought that was going to give him the biggest headlines. But what we don‘t want to do is see everybody out there looking for headline who is sitting on the edge of the emotional abyss in this country.
MATTHEWS: When you are alone in this world and you have problems you go to where you will be received. You might go to a church or a synagogue. You might go to a 7/11. You might go where you are just allowed to go. You may go to a subway stop. You go to anywhere where an average person with no clout is allowed to go, and you try to make your message clear to somebody. You go where you are allowed to go when you‘re not a big shot, you know. I understand this situation.
VAN ZANDT: Where you think somebody will listen to you.
MATTHEWS: So you go to a politician who has got a kind ear or an attentive ear. You go to a church official. You go to a bar tender. You go to somebody who will listen, because most people are too busy to listen. I understand this. We all understand the crying of the human heart. We don‘t know what this fellow‘s situation is, but so far this has been non-violent. That‘s good. It‘s described by the police as a fluid situation, but it is a hostage situation.
Clearly the threat of harm was used here throughout the day, therefore it‘s a serious bit of business, with the potentiality of a lot of danger here, because the fact that the police are holding the public back at least a block means the police think there‘s an outside there are explosives involved here, and they don‘t want anybody hurt, and the fact that our network, and the picture you‘re watching now, is holding this back at a one minute delay process, which is a modern process, whereby we can show you a picture in a one minute delay situation, is to protect you against a violent scene you may not be prepared to see.
So that‘s what we‘re watching right now. The camera is panning right now to across the street. Perhaps something is developing, because we are watch it as you are watching it. We see an official with an illuminated jacket on, a yellow jacket, coming across. Other police officials are moving forward towards the headquarters, apparently.
VAN ZANDT: But they are all relaxed too, Chris. Nobody seems to be urgent and running. The point you made earlier, this is someone the criminal justice system will call this a crime. But in this particular case, this is somebody who is reaching out, perhaps simply saying will somebody listen to me? He‘s got our attention.
MATTHEWS: As I say, if he has something to say, now is the time to say it and end this thing. You can bet that anyone, including Senator Clinton, will get the full message right now. She will definitely read whatever this fellow has to say. We are guessing right now what‘s going on. Let me go back to Dominic Carter. Dominic, what do you think? Where are you right now? Can you see what we see?
CARTER: I‘m looking at exactly what you are looking at right now, Chris. I have to say this, that Clint is the law enforcement expert that you have on now. But what this appears to be—again, I‘m not a law enforcement expert, but I have covered Senator Clinton for a number of years. Sometimes people will come up to her that may appear—if security does not stop them—to be normal, if you will, or stable. This happens quite a bit.
But on the surface, this looks like this individual—it looks this way as if he is crying out for attention. Having covered her a number of years, he had to know that Senator Clinton on was not at the location. Chris, here‘s why I say this. When she is there, it is obvious because of one, the security detail around her, in terms of the agents. And these folks look very serious. As you know, they are all about business. And plus, when Senator Clinton is in the vicinity, there is naturally, as the former first lady, and as you said, Chris, the current front-runner—there is normally a large crowd in New Hampshire, in Iowa, everywhere she goes that is either mulling about in front of the store front.
You know that something is going on that‘s not the ordinary, in term of when the candidate is around, whether it‘s Obama, Senator Clinton, any of the Democrats, Rudy Giuliani. So you notice a different type of environment. I have to believe, in terms of looking at the same video that you are looking at—and you know, Chris, you hit it on the point on the head 100 percent here. As journalists, we do receive lots of letters from people that are (INAUDIBLE) and so on, and they feel that somehow there has been an injustice done to them, and they try to pursue it by going to talk to a public official, or in this case Senator Clinton.
But again, this individual—we don‘t know much about him, but we know that—I have to believe that he had to know when we went in there—and we don‘t know how serious this threat is, in terms of the bombs. It could be, very well, a serious threat. It‘s one that law enforcement has to take very, very seriously. But he had to know that she is not at the location from the moment that he walked in.
MATTHEWS: Just to make your point, Dominic, we are looking at the center/left picture, that lighter spot on the screen there. It‘s interesting to watch those two officials peek a booing around that corner. They are taking no chances. Look at these two fellows. One is out there exposed a little but. But occasionally they turn the corner there and look around. They are very aware that this situation is still tricky. You see a little movement there right now.
The guy looks around a bit. He is very careful to go around that corner and not get hit by—they must still feel that this man may be armed in there. There is a fear that is still part of the scene. As I said, the scene you are looking at right now is being tape. It‘s one minute old what we‘re watching right now to protect you, the viewer. We‘re going to come right back. I want to thank Clint Van Zandt. I want to thank Dominic Carter for joining us from New York One. We will be right back with more on the hostage situation at Hillary Clinton‘s Rochester, New Hampshire office after this. You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: It was a big week in the markets. We‘ve learned that late today the White House may have a plan to help out the American home owner. Let‘s go to Erin Burnett at cNBC.
ERIN BURNETT, CNBC ANCHOR: All right, Chris Matthews. We‘ve got some interesting headlines here. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is working together with the executives of some of the biggest banks in this country, and they‘re trying to come up with a plan to stem what really, Chris, is going to be a surge of foreclosures. A lot of Americans got mortgages at very low rates that were going to be going up to higher rates a couple of years into that mortgage.
We‘re at that point right now where a lot of Americans will be paying higher interest rates. And apparently, the treasury secretary and the White House may have a plan where we‘re going to freeze the interest rate on those mortgages. That could be a big step toward solving some of the credit crises we‘ve been facing, Chris.
MATTHEWS: So how did the markets end this week?
BURNETT: Here‘s the thing, Chris. We talk so much about a credit crisis and all of the roller coaster rides for the market. It was the best weekly gain, Chris, since last spring, since March. And part of the reason was maybe hoped that we would get this bail out or band-aid, whatever it might be, for home owners. Another reason was the fed chief spoke yesterday and indicated that interest rates may be coming down rather sharply.
So all of that is making people feel much more confident. The other thing is this week, Chris, that investment from the Middle East, from Abu Dabi into Citigroup; we may look back at that investment and say that was a seminal moment for the U.S market. It‘s going to be very interesting.
Chris, while I‘m on your show, I wanted to take the opportunity to say something. Earlier this week I was on MSNBC on “Morning Joe,” and I made a bad attempt at humor, Chris. I was talking about some world leaders. They did, of course, include our president. I said something stupid. I just wanted to make sure I apologized if I offended anyone. I do have the utmost respect for the president. I hope he has a great weekend and Chris, I hope you do, too.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Erin Burnett at CNBC. We‘ll have continuing coverage of the hostage situation at Hillary Clinton‘s campaign office up at Rochester, New Hampshire. We‘ll be back in one hour at 7:00 Eastern for HARDBALL. Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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