Guest: Rep. Heather Wilson, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Mark Green, Bill Maher,
Maria Teresa Petersen, Roger Simon
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The more people favor Obama, the more negative go his rivals.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Leading off tonight: Getting desperate. When you‘re behind in the polls, you grab onto whatever you can. And both John McCain and Sarah Palin are trying to make something useful of Joe Biden‘s statement that Barack Obama is sure to be tested in his first six months in office. Here‘s McCain today in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We don‘t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin said much the same thing in Nevada today. But is it smart strategy or tactics to attack Obama on experience when most voters have grave doubts about Governor Palin‘s qualifications and experience? We‘ll talk to supporters of both McCain and Obama in a minute. Also, first it was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who said here on HARDBALL that the media should investigate Democratic members of Congress for being anti-American. Now there‘s this from North Carolina Republican congressman Robin Hayes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. ROBIN HAYES ®, NORTH CAROLINA: Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Liberals hate real Americans. Now, topping them off, Florida senator Mel Martinez, a Republican, is likening Barack Obama‘s policies to communism. What‘s going on here? When did the Republicans decide that their best bet to win now is to charge that the Democratic rivals are anti-American? We‘ll talk to Mark Green and Pat Buchanan about this latest development .Also tonight, one of the kings of political comedy, Bill Maher, the host of HBO‘s “Real Time” and the star of the new film “Religulous,” gives us his take on this election. And remember when Dennis Kucinich said in one of those early presidential debates that he believes in UFOs? Well, we‘ll give you some intriguing new evidence on that front in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.” And I‘ll have some comments tonight about what someone needs to say in this election in a closing thought at the end of the show. And a programming note. The new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll comes out this evening. We‘ll have a complete report live at 7:00 PM tonight Eastern on what are some very big results for Barack Obama. But one poll worth mentioning right now is the new Pew poll. It shows Barack Obama is gaining more ground on McCain, now leading—look at this number, no poll has this much of a spread -- 52 percent for Barack, 38 percent for McCain. We‘ll begin with Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland—he‘s chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—and also U.S. Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico. Congressman, let me ask you first and then I want to know the congresswoman‘s thoughts, as well. What do we make of this polling? Is there a ballooning going on right now? Is something happening that wasn‘t happening a week ago, Congressman Van Hollen?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think there is growing support for Barack Obama‘s positive message for change, and that‘s why you see John McCain and a lot of these Republican members of Congress using these desperate tactics, trying to divide America. At this time of economic crisis, people want someone who‘s going to unite America. Americans are seeing that in Barack Obama, and so I do think support for him continues to grow, as it does for many of our congressional candidates around the country.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Wilson, your thoughts about this 14-point spread in the new Pew poll for Barack Obama.
REP. HEATHER WILSON ®, NEW MEXICO: The poll that matters is the one that happens on election day. And I‘ve said that when polls show him up, I‘ve said it when polls show Senator Obama up. So that‘s the poll that matters. You‘ll see things all over the map. And I think there‘s actually too much focus on polls when we should really focus on issues. It‘s amazing to me that this late in the game, the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party has said—you know, says, Mark my words...
WILSON: ... this man will be tested with an international crisis. And that, actually, I think, reflects his honest views as he expressed during the primary, that he has concerns about Senator Obama‘s experience, particularly when it comes to international affairs.
MATTHEWS: No, that‘s not what he said. He said he will be tested by our enemies out there because he‘s a new president. What does that say besides that, that he will be tested?
WILSON: He also mentioned two countries in particular, the Middle East and Russia.
MATTHEWS: Right. What does that tell you?
WILSON: It tells me that the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic side believes that others question whether Senator Obama is strong enough and ready enough to be president and that they will push him and test him. We don‘t need...
MATTHEWS: In the way they—in the way that...
WILSON: ... a president of the United States...
MATTHEWS: In the way that...
MATTHEWS: In the way that...
WILSON: ... by foreign leaders...
VAN HOLLEN: Chris? Chris?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to Congressman Van Hollen on that, for your thought on—it seems to me what Joe Biden was trying to do there—and maybe it is fair game, everything‘s fair game—was to cite the historic precedent of John F. Kennedy being tested with regard to the Berlin Wall being put up in August of ‘61. You couldn‘t find any other reference I can think of. It must be the Berlin Wall that went up, and we‘re not sure whether that would have gone up under—under Nixon or not. We don‘t know that. But your point? What‘s your thought, Congressman?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Chris, look, I think what Joe Biden was saying very clearly is at a time when we have two wars going on, no matter who is next president, they‘re going to face tests and they‘re going to face challenges.And I think you couldn‘t have a better and more eloquent spokesman testifying to not only the fact that Barack Obama is ready to be commander-in-chief but he would be the best person to be commander-in-chief than Colin Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former secretary of state to this President Bush, who said...
VAN HOLLEN: ... in these times of challenge both abroad and here at home, that Barack Obama is the guy who‘s actually shown steadiness, rather than going all over the place, as we saw John McCain do with respect to the economic crisis. He was all over the map, whereas Barack Obama has shown a steadiness and calm which is exactly what you want in a leader both here at home and facing challenges from abroad.
MATTHEWS: You‘re laughing, Congresswoman. What are you laughing at?
WILSON: I can understand why Barack Obama would want to sit in the stands and watch Senator McCain try to take action during a crisis, since Senator Obama is one of the ones who is responsible for getting us in the crisis in the first place. And he is the number one recipient of contributions from Freddie and Fannie that were the spark that ignited this whole problem in the first place.I agree with Chris that this country needs leadership and that there are tremendous challenges, which is why we need Senator McCain in the White House, not somebody who has served three-and-a-half years in the United States Senate and has never run anything larger than a community organization.
MATTHEWS: Right. We just watched...
MATTHEWS: No, we just watched both candidates for an hour-and-a-half, four-and-a-half hours total in the last several weeks. And one of the results of that exposure, both candidates to national audiences of 50 to 70 million people, has been a 18 point hike in male support for Barack Obama, a dramatic—and since he already enjoyed tremendous African-American support, it‘s fair to assume this is white men who‘ve come to appreciate something about him they didn‘t before. At the same time, Governor Palin has dropped in our polling in terms of her unfavorability, 14-point increase in unfavorability. So Congresswoman Wilson, something‘s going on out there that makes people more respectful of Barack Obama and less respectful of Governor Palin. What is it?
WILSON: What has really changed has been since the 15th of September, where we‘ve had a crisis in the financial and banking world. And irrespective of the real cause that sparked that and who is responsible for it, we have an incumbent president in the White House who is of Senator McCain‘s party. And no matter what, when you have an economic problem, it doesn‘t—you know, if the tables were reversed and we had a Democrat in the White House, the Democratic candidate would have gone down in the polls. Reality doesn‘t matter sometimes on these things, Chris. And I think what happened in mid-September with the financial crisis has hurt Senator McCain in some ways, even though it‘s the Democrats who lit the spark.
MATTHEWS: OK. I respect you coming on. I want to tell you, Mr. Van Hollen, sometimes people are right and sometimes they‘re wrong. And some political parties are right sometimes and wrong other times. But let me tell you the internal polls here, which are fascinating. The reasons people give for supporting Senator McCain—and everybody likes Senator McCain—only—looks like the number one reason people have for supporting him right now, Republicans who say they‘re for McCain—they asked them, What‘s the reason why you like him? Thirty-nine percent, the highest percentage, say because he‘s the lesser of the two evils. They don‘t like the other guy. On the other side, on Obama, What do you like most about him? Excited over 50 percent are excited to vote for the guy. So there is a positive motive to supporting Barack Obama in our latest polling that just came out tonight, and there is a kind of a negative reason for supporting McCain. Congresswoman, what do you make of that? This is in our polling.
WILSON: Well, I think that Senator McCain is obviously of the president‘s party at the moment, and I also think that Senator Obama is—you know, he‘s articulate. He speaks well. The thing that concerns me about Senator Obama is twofold. First, experience, and second, the policies when you get beyond the words that matter to me, including things like taxes, you know, his comment about spreading the wealth around. That‘s not what government is supposed to do.
VAN HOLLEN: Chris?
WILSON: Government—it‘s not the government‘s money, it‘s the people‘s money. And I have very profound differences with the guy...
WILSON: ... who‘s the most liberal senator in the United States Senate.
MATTHEWS: Do you like—Congresswoman, do you think we should get rid of the progressive income tax, which redistributes wealth?
WILSON: No, I don‘t. But I do think that the tax relief we passed in 2001 and 2003 encouraged economic growth, particularly among small businesses, which is where seven out of ten new jobs come from. And you know, at the time, Senator Baucus, who‘s the Democrat head of the Finance Committee in the Senate, said that 80 percent of the wealth that comes from those two top tax brackets come from small business owners who are paying, you know, partnership, S-corporations, ranches, farms, those kind of things. So if you want to kill job creation, increase taxes on small businesses.
VAN HOLLEN: Chris, if I could...
MATTHEWS: Well, right now, Congressman Van Hollen, for the first time and this may not be fair, but for the first time, our polling is showing that both candidates are equally trusted on the issue of taxes. So it‘s not a Republican advantage anymore, like it‘s been for a thousand years, for some reason.
VAN HOLLEN: No, it‘s not because—well, it‘s not because Barack Obama‘s message is getting through. He‘s made it absolutely clear that he supports tax relief for middle class Americans. If you earn under $250,000, you‘re going to get more tax relief under Barack Obama‘s plan than John McCain‘s. If you‘re one of the Fortune 500 CEOs, you‘re going to get a $700,000, on average, tax break from John McCain, as—you know, the oil companies are going to get a $4 billion tax break. So what‘s happening is people understand the differences on the policies. I disagree entirely with Heather on this. The reason people are responding positively to Barack Obama is he has put forward positive ideas in terms of middle class tax cuts, in terms of an economic recovery plan, in terms of energy policy and a health care policy. And that‘s why you see these Republicans in their comments and these hate phone calls that are going around—they‘re trying to drag Barack Obama down.
VAN HOLLEN: That is not what the American people are looking for.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Fair enough. Congresswoman, I‘ve looked at the pattern here, which we do every night, of the charges made against Barack Obama as he‘s gone up in the polls. First of all, he was a celebrity. Then we had the absurd thing about “lipstick on a pig.” Then he consorted—he palled around with terrorists. And then he was a socialist. Then he was anti-American. That was a congresswoman this Friday said he‘s anti-American. And now today, he‘s a communist. Now we‘re told today by a congressman from North Carolina that liberals hate Americans, real Americans.
It seems to me that the rhetoric is getting pretty fiery out there.
WILSON: Well, I‘ve seen a fiery coming from Senator Obama‘s rallies, too. This is a tough presidential race, and both sides will say strong things. I actually—you know, I disagree with Senator Obama and his policies. I also think that some of his decisions about who he associates with raise questions about his character. And if the tables were turned, if it was a Republican candidate for president who had, you know, gotten a start in his political life with someone who is unrepentant about being the leader of an organization that bombed the Pentagon or the Capitol, you bet you guys would be talking about it.
MATTHEWS: So because...
VAN HOLLEN: Chris? Chris?
MATTHEWS: Let me get this straight. Because he was on a board back in the 1990s with someone who 28 years before had committed these horrific actions by being a member of the Weather Underground, you would have walked out of the room in Chicago, had there been a better business group or a school board reform effort, you would have walked out of the room if he showed up, and he didn‘t. That‘s the difference, right?
WILSON: I think you‘re minimizing...
MATTHEWS: You would have walked out of the room.
WILSON: ... the nature of the relationship. But even in that circumstance, would I choose to be the executive director of an organization whose board is chaired by somebody who says, yes, I wish we had bombed America more? I wouldn‘t do that. I wouldn‘t participate in that kind of an organization because I don‘t want to be associated with people like that. I think that‘s wrong.
And I think it says something about me as a public leader if I say, Oh, well, I‘ll just look the other way because I—you know, I want this job or this executive director job. I think that‘s wrong, and I think Senator Obama was wrong to continue that association. It‘s a question of character and judgment.
VAN HOLLEN: Chris, could I just...
MATTHEWS: Congressman Van Hollen, your thoughts on that?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, listen, first of all, we‘ve seen that John McCain‘s policies are the same as the George Bush policies. But now what we‘re finding out is the way he‘s running his campaign is also the same way George Bush ran his campaign. In fact, he brought on the George Bush team for his campaign. They announced very clearly, the McCain campaign, just a few weeks ago that if they talk about the economy, if they talk about the issues that American people care about, they will lose this election. So they need to change the subject. And that‘s what you‘re seeing in all these accusations. They‘re taking the low road, trying to divide America, trying to change the subject, and what you‘re seeing in these polls is the American people aren‘t falling for it. They‘ve seen the fear and smear campaigns, and they‘re not going for it. They know we face...
WILSON: Chris, they‘ve been talking about...
VAN HOLLEN: ... big challenges...
WILSON: ... taxes and the economy at every single stop along the campaign trail.
WILSON: That is issue number one, is what to do about the economy, and it‘s not to raise taxes on Americans.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder...
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I wonder when the air is cleared two or three weeks from now, I think we‘ll all agree it‘s probably not good politics to call each other communists. Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen. You didn‘t do that, Congresswoman...
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... Heather Wilson. Thank you both for joining us.
Coming up: First, it was the celebrity that he was. Then it was he pals around with terrorists. Then he was a socialist. Then he‘s an anti-American. Now he‘s a communist, and all liberals believe in—hate real Americans. The list‘s getting long here. The McCain campaign steps up the attacks. It‘s surrounded by its friends out there whose language is getting a little bit wild here. We‘ll have to see what we make of it. But it‘s Obama who‘s maintaining his lead and growing it, now a 14-point lead tonight in the Pew poll. We‘ll have another poll out tonight at 7:00. And in one hour, as I said, we‘ll have the complete results of the NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, which will show another situation you‘ll find interesting in terms of public opinion and how this vote‘s going. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Lots of stink bombs are being thrown in this election, and we can expect it to get a lot nastier in these last two weeks. So how low can it go? Let‘s talk to two political fighters. Pat Buchanan‘s a political analyst at MSNBC, and Mark Green is president of Air America and author of the book “Losing Our Democracy.”
I want you all to listen to something that Governor Palin said to some youngsters, I think they were 2nd and 3rd graders, about the job that she sees ahead of her as vice president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A vice president has a really great job because not only are they there to support the president‘s agenda—they‘re like the team member, the teammate to that president—but also, they‘re in charge of the United States Senate. So if they want to, they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Mark Green?
MARK GREEN, AIR AMERICA RADIO: I‘m afraid it‘s constitutionally ignorant. I actually held the office in New York called public advocate, where I presided over the city council. My only job was to vote in case of a tie. There never was one. In the Senate, of course, Vice President Cheney and his predecessors go to the Senate and they sit and preside and only vote in case of a tie. Nobody in the Senate asked Cheney his opinion. So even though Governor Palin was talking to 2nd and 3rd graders, and you know, was obviously literally chronologically talking down, she got it totally wrong.
MATTHEWS: You know, Pat—and, by the way, Mark Rhode (ph), who runs Congress here, is the guy. So, I know what he‘s talking about. And I have to say, Pat, that is—I‘m not going to say anything more than, that‘s wrong. The vice president of the United States is only the presiding officer. If you read the Constitution, which the governor has not done, it simply says that your only role is to break a tie and to preside. She says she can get in there and pass policy, and good policies. She has the notion that the Senate—the vice president of the United States, as presiding officer of the Senate, is somehow the majority leader, that she somehow has a legislative...
MATTHEWS: Pat, you‘re laughing. And, if it was anybody else, you would be jumping on them like a vulture.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Come on. She‘s talking to second- and third-graders.
MATTHEWS: She‘s talking like a second-grader.
MATTHEWS: What did—what did—what did she mean? What did she mean?
BUCHANAN: What is this hostility to this woman?
MATTHEWS: No, what did she mean? Don‘t get into the personal stuff here, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Well, I‘m not.
MATTHEWS: What did she mean? She‘s up for the vice president of the United States.
BUCHANAN: She probably—my guess is, she meant that she‘s going to work with the Republican caucus to try to change policy, kids, and make the country better. Clearly, Reid is going to run the Senate. He may have 60 votes. She ain‘t going to be able to do it.
MATTHEWS: No, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
BUCHANAN: She made a mistake.
MATTHEWS: The vice president of the United States is the legislative leader of the Senate?
MATTHEWS: Don‘t you have to be a senator?
BUCHANAN: Look, she‘s the president of the Senate.
MATTHEWS: No, but she‘s not a senator.
BUCHANAN: No, she‘s the president of the Senate.
MATTHEWS: If you‘re not a senator, you‘re not a member of the Senate.
BUCHANAN: You‘re the president of the Senate.
MATTHEWS: What‘s her role? What‘s her role?
BUCHANAN: The president of the Senate.
BUCHANAN: You haven‘t read the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: Presides over the Constitution—over the Senate.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the only role, has no role, except to break ties.
BUCHANAN: Well, no, look, she‘s the president of the Senate of the United States.
MATTHEWS: We‘re not getting anywhere, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I‘m saying...
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying she has a legislative role?
BUCHANAN: I‘m saying she‘s the president of the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Does she have any legislative role?
BUCHANAN: Not unless she can get the Republicans and Democrats to work with her.
MATTHEWS: When in history has a vice president been given a legislative authority over the majority or the minority or any senator in the United States Senate?
BUCHANAN: Chris, she‘s talking to second-graders.
Let me tell you why this is a serious question here. Because, when she was talking to Katie Couric and answering questions, she talked in a language I have never heard about some flexibility within the Constitution, Mark, about some new authority for the vice president, which has never been understood before. Now, maybe this derives from the sense that the people around Dick Cheney have about the role of the vice president, but I have never heard anybody say the vice president has legislative authority of any kind or any consequence. It‘s extraordinary for her to teach people—she‘s got a teaching role. She‘s telling those kids something that‘s wrong. She‘s not talking down to them. She‘s giving them wrong information. The vice president of the United States has two roles, to succeed the president, if that‘s a necessity, and to preside over the Senate and break ties. And that‘s it, under the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: To argue that it has a legislative authority within the grasps of the vice president is unconstitutional. Am I right or wrong?
GREEN: Chris, I...
MATTHEWS: You know the—you know the—and Pat knows it, too.
GREEN: I agree with you. The least problem with Sarah Palin is that she hasn‘t read and doesn‘t understand the Constitution. Pat‘s energetic reply notwithstanding, of course, she‘s literally wrong. And when she said to Katie Couric—it may have just been a bad sentence structure—that—that, “I want to see more power to the vice president,” this is after Cheney comes up with the theory of the unitary executive, where Bush and Cheney can incarcerate people without due process, no matter what the Constitution says—worse is that Sarah Palin is an unqualified demagogue, when this week she said that she‘s glad to be in a small town, because these are the pro-America areas of the country. By the way, I come from a rather big town called New York, which was the subject of a big attack because we represented America. So, when—when she starts dividing the country into pro- and anti-America, when she has played footsie with the secessionist party in Alaska, which literally is anti-America.
MATTHEWS: ... stay on topic here, Mark.
And here‘s the topic.
BUCHANAN: Well, let‘s stay on topic here, because—because Mark...
MATTHEWS: This, by the way...
MATTHEWS: ... was not talking to a second-grader. She was doing a TV interview and referring to a question put to her by a second-grader.
MATTHEWS: So, she was talking to adults, Pat.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me tell you something.
MATTHEWS: And she was giving misinformation, which you know. The Constitution clearly delineates the authority of these offices.
BUCHANAN: I know what it says, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Why would she get it wrong?
BUCHANAN: Here‘s what—look, I sat at Camp David in a meeting with President Nixon and Spiro Agnew, when Agnew had to get up, and he was headed back to the Senate to break the tie vote on the MX missile. And Nixon said, “You‘re going to vote the right way, aren‘t you?”
And he said, “Let‘s negotiate about the family assistance plan.” And everybody laughed, and he went out. You break tie votes. You are the president of the Senate. You‘re not the majority leader. That‘s right, Chris. I don‘t know what you‘re making a big deal out of one...
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m making a big deal about somebody who doesn‘t the job she‘s trying to get elected.
BUCHANAN: She‘s talking to second-graders.
MATTHEWS: She‘s not talking to second-graders.
BUCHANAN: And let me—she is.
MATTHEWS: It was a TV interview. She referred to a question put to her by a second-grader. It was a TV interview.
MATTHEWS: She was talking to us, Pat, about the role she seeks to fill.
BUCHANAN: Right. All right.
MATTHEWS: And she‘s wrong about the basic nature of the role.
BUCHANAN: Let me talk to the point about she being a demagogue.
MATTHEWS: OK. You would really...
MATTHEWS: ... that subject.
BUCHANAN: This is outrageous. Well, and we have already talked about it.
That is outrageous, in—Mark, in this sense. When she says the real America, she‘s referring to Barack Obama out there in—in—in San Francisco saying, you know those people out there in middle Pennsylvania, they‘re bitter. They‘re bigoted because the world...
GREEN: Nice try, Pat. Nice try, Pat. One second...
BUCHANAN: And she is saying, we come from small towns. And she‘s not from New York City.
I know that‘s a disadvantage to her, but she defends and protects where and who she came from.
GREEN: Nice try, Pat. The facts...
BUCHANAN: And there‘s nothing wrong with that.
GREEN: No, no, the facts are the facts.
You haven‘t looked perhaps at her quote. Three times, she said: I‘m here in small-town America. This is the real America.
Nancy, whose last name is unpronounceable, Pfotenhauer, from the McCain campaign said, oh, Virginia is wobbling, because—but the real Virginia is for McCain—this, Pat, from...
BUCHANAN: All right.
GREEN: From McCarthy to McCain, this mind-set of throwing anti-America.
MATTHEWS: Let me go—first of all, I have got to get the news of the day here.
BUCHANAN: All right.
GREEN: And Congresswoman Bachmann that Chris, of course, was on with last Friday night, this is a mind-set—I‘m afraid it reflects yours, sometimes.
BUCHANAN: All right.
GREEN: And it doesn‘t work in a year when the fear...
GREEN: ... is not of communism, but of the economy.
BUCHANAN: All right, well, let me talk about—all right, let me respond to that.
John Murtha went up to my mom‘s hometown and said, this district is full of racists and rednecks. John Lewis says, you know, McCain and Palin are like George Wallace. They‘re appealing to the worst instinct.
Media in this country is saying, the only way McCain can win is something called the Bradley effect, in other words, closet white racists in America lying out there.
That is as anti-American as somebody calling liberals communists.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go through the latest statements by public officials.
Robin Hayes of North Carolina has said, to warm up a crowd on Saturday, this weekend: “Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God. Liberals hate real Americans.”
Here‘s the latest from Mel Martinez, a senior Republican senator from
Florida. Here‘s what he said: “Where I come from, where I was raised, the
they tried wealth redistribution. We don‘t need that here. That‘s called socialism, communism, not Americanism.”
So, we‘re throwing terms around here, the Republicans are, communism, socialism, consorting with terrorists, anti-American. This is new.
BUCHANAN: That‘s right. Look, but...
MATTHEWS: Pat, these labels...
MATTHEWS: ... are being thrown because—because John McCain is 14 points down.
GREEN: Correct. Chris, if I could...
BUCHANAN: They shouldn‘t be calling...
GREEN: Pat—Pat—Pat is going to...
BUCHANAN: Be quite a second, Mark. It‘s to me.
GREEN: OK. I‘m sorry. I couldn‘t hear.
BUCHANAN: Look, they shouldn‘t be calling these folks communists. They shouldn‘t be calling liberals anti-Americans. They shouldn‘t be calling Congress anti-American. It‘s legitimate with Reverend Wright and Pfleger and that other clown out there.
But, also, liberals should not be saying, this is a closet racist country, and the only way that McCain is going to win...
MATTHEWS: Well, first of all, John Murtha is not a liberal.
MATTHEWS: He‘s not a liberal. But...
BUCHANAN: But liberals are saying—what about this Bradley effect garbage that you all are putting out?
MATTHEWS: He‘s talking about the people—he‘s talking about his concern that a certain percentage of the people in his district...
BUCHANAN: Are racists?
MATTHEWS: No, that wouldn‘t vote for a black candidate for president.
BUCHANAN: But why does he use the word racist and—and rednecks?
MATTHEWS: Because—because he corrected himself afterwards.
BUCHANAN: Well, so did Robin Hayes correct himself.
BUCHANAN: He withdrew the comment. He apologized and withdrew it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let‘s move on.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, because I think these comments are coming more and more in one direction, because I‘m looking at...
BUCHANAN: It could be...
MATTHEWS: On Friday, Bachmann goes after anti-Americans. On Saturday, this guy goes after—say, liberals hate Americans.
BUCHANAN: He shouldn‘t have said it.
MATTHEWS: Today—today, he says—look, there‘s a flurry of anti-Democratic comments laid because of this rise in the poll for Barack.
Isn‘t that what‘s going on?
BUCHANAN: It could be, Chris. I don‘t disagree with that. What caused John Lewis to make that gutter statement about John McCain?
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s not a—OK. OK. John Lewis is a great guy.
GREEN: OK. May I—may I comment?
BUCHANAN: OK. Robin Hayes may be a great guy, too.
MATTHEWS: We have gotten heated...
BUCHANAN: And Michele Bachmann may be a great gal.
GREEN: Pat can...
MATTHEWS: First of all, I am very suspicious. Let me tell you what I don‘t like to do, is get into motive, because you can never figure out another person‘s motive. It‘s impossible.
When Rush Limbaugh the other day said that General Powell supports Barack Obama because he‘s black, how does he know?
BUCHANAN: Well, because, Chris...
MATTHEWS: That‘s right, because you didn‘t know.
BUCHANAN: Because Powell said it himself.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, Pat, you‘re wrong if you‘re start getting...
MATTHEWS: This is tribal. You‘re wrong. You‘re wrong to do this. You‘re wrong to assume that he‘s voting black, any more than you‘re attacking...
BUCHANAN: He said it himself. He said it‘s not the only reason or the decisive reason, but he will be transformational.
MATTHEWS: Rush Limbaugh said it was the reason.
BUCHANAN: He was mistaken if it‘s the only reason.
MATTHEWS: OK. That‘s what we‘re arguing about.
GREEN: Chris and Pat, may I—may I very quickly...
BUCHANAN: General Powell said it was one of the reasons.
MATTHEWS: OK. Pat, you and I agree on 90 percent of this stuff.
We will get back to it later.
Mark, thank you for joining us.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Mark.
MATTHEWS: Pat—Pat does his job here, which is to speak for a point of view, which has been discredited lately.
Ahead on HARDBALL: Bill Maher.
MATTHEWS: You‘re watching HARDBALL...
BUCHANAN: Not quite, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we‘re going to ask HBO‘s Bill Maher about U.S. Congressman—Congresswoman Michele Bachmann‘s call for a media investigation into which members of Congress, as she put it, are anti-America.
Bill Maher is coming up next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A sell-off late in the day, with the Dow Jones industrial average finishing lower by 231 points. The S&P 500 lost about 30, and the Nasdaq hit hard there, dropping 73 points.
Oil prices took a tumble again, ahead of Friday‘s OPEC meeting, where the oil-producing countries are expected to cut output. Crude fell $3.36, closing at $70.89 a barrel.
Some important earnings news out just after the closing bell. Yahoo! reported that quarterly earnings just matched Street‘s expectations, but it lowered its outlook for the next quarter. It also announced it‘s going to cut its work force by 10 percent, or about 1,400 jobs. Yahoo! shares are trading higher in the after-hours session. Meantime, Apple reported quarterly earnings that easily beat estimates, but it also lowered its outlook for the coming quarter. Apple shares are trading fractionally higher in the after-hours session. That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. With two weeks to go before the presidential election, Bill Maher is front and center, talking politics, religion and everything else having to do with decision 2008. You can catch him live every Friday night at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on HBO‘s “Real Time With Bill Maher” and in theaters in his new movie, “Religulous.” Hard to pronounce that, Bill. How do you pronounce that? Welcome back to HARDBALL. How do you pronounce the name of your movie?
BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: It‘s “Religulous.” It‘s like you‘re saying religion, and then you go to ridiculous, for obvious reasons.
MATTHEWS: Speak—well, speaking of which, let‘s take a look at a little favorite of ours now from last Friday. This is Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and what she had to say about her colleagues on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 17, 2008)
MATTHEWS: So this is a character issue. You believe that Barack Obama may—you‘re suspicious because of this relationship—may have anti-American views? Otherwise, it‘s probably irrelevant to this discussion.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Absolutely. I absolutely...
MATTHEWS: So, you believe it brings into—so, you believe that...
MATTHEWS: ... that Barack Obama may have anti-American views?
I—I‘m very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That‘s what the American people are concerned about. That‘s why they want to know what his answers are. That‘s why Joe the plumber has figured so highly in had the last few days...
MATTHEWS: What—OK. I want to get off this.
BACHMANN: ... because Joe the plumber...
MATTHEWS: I want to say this. What do you mean by...
BACHMANN: ... asked the question that a lot of Americans want to know.
What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?
I think people would be—would love to see an expose like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hey, Bill, are you willing to take up your burden on that, and conduct a penetrating investigation of...
MATTHEWS: ... the anti-American views on the other side of the aisle?
MAHER: Chris, I love it when you give dumb people just enough rope to hang themselves.
MAHER: And I must say...
MAHER: ... I had not heard of this congressperson before this, but I did see your show. I saw her do this. And I thought, oh, that‘s going to be an issue.
But what I had about her...
MATTHEWS: We got another one for you. Can I queue you—can I queue you up another one? Here is something fresh from today, fresh from the world of 2008 politics.
This is the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party talking about her notion of what the vice presidency holds for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A vice president has a really great job, because not only are they there to support the president‘s agenda. They‘re like the team member, the teammate to that president. But, also, they‘re in charge of the United States Senate. So, if they want to, they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I heard this begin during the debate...
MATTHEWS: ... when her notion of the vice presidency is, she‘s going to run the U.S. Senate. I thought it was a formality. They just break ties and sit up there. She says she‘s going to basically be in charge of the Senate. She‘s going to get through good policy. She‘s going to get in there and work.
I guess she has to take a look at the Constitution before she, well, at least takes office.
MAHER: Well, that would involve reading, Chris. So, I wouldn‘t hold your breath on that. I was just going to say, before you showed the second clip, that what I have been hearing about this congresswoman in Minnesota is that she‘s the only person in public office these days who‘s actually dumber than Palin. But I don‘t know. After I heard that clip that you just showed me, it‘s a toss-up. That‘s really a Beavis and Butthead we‘ve got there. I don‘t know how we got to—yes, sir?
MATTHEWS: I‘m just wondering about this rift that‘s been going on in the last couple of days. Maybe it‘s because of the poll numbers showing a 14-point spread now for Barack. In the last couple of weeks, he‘s a celebrity; he consorts with terrorists; he‘s a socialist; he‘s an anti-American. Today, Mel Martinez, he‘s a communist. They hate America, the liberals. It‘s getting hotter and hotter. At this rate, two weeks from now, I don‘t know what these accusations are going to be.
MAHER: But this is old-time Republican boilerplate that we‘ve lived with for the longest time. It‘s just getting nastier because these are the people—this is the old guard who fears that their claw that‘s on the lever of power is finally being pried off. So they do what Republicans in this era always do. If you say something that‘s a valid criticism of some Republican policy, they go right to turning it around to, no, you‘re attacking something noble that‘s associated with that policy. If you say that George Bush avoided Vietnam, you‘re denigrating the guard. If you say Sarah Palin is not qualified to be holding high office, well, then somehow you‘re attacking small-town America. So it‘s just gotten ratcheted up to this level where somehow Barack Obama is a socialist and a communist? I don‘t even know where they‘re getting it. They‘re just pulling it out of Joe the Plumber‘s crack.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to your line of—his what? His what?
MAHER: Well, you know plumbers, Chris. I don‘t want to have to spell it out for you.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. Here‘s a quote from Governor Palin. More food for thought, quote, “faith and god in general has been mocked through this campaign and that breaks my heart.” Except for that comment made up there on Russian Hill or Knob Hill, whatever it was several months ago, when Barack Obama was trying to explain to the rich people why some middle class people wouldn‘t vote for him besides race, I haven‘t heard a lot of references, derogatory, of religion at all in this campaign. I don‘t know what she‘s talking about.
MAHER: I think she‘s talking about me, Chris. I‘m the only one who does it. So, you know, I‘m flattered. Thank you for listening, governor. But, yes, I don‘t understand. This is not the first time we‘ve heard this line of reasoning, if you will. The Christians, who are 80 percent of this country, at least, who control everything, they have this persecution complex. I don‘t know where they got that from. But it‘s ridiculous in 21st century America to have a persecution complex when you‘re all powerful. So I don‘t know what she‘s talking about. I‘m the only one mocking, and I‘m doing it in a very funny way. Chris, “Religulos” is doing very well in theaters now. If you‘ve seen it, see it again.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of General Powell‘s, I thought, bold statement in defense of religious diversity. I know you‘re an agnostic, a self-proclaimed one. Many people—not many people, some people are in this country. Almost everybody has some sort of question about their faith. They think about their faith. They wonder about it. They have moments of doubt, of course. People do. But here he was doing something that seemed to be not necessary, but maybe we know it is. He said, what‘s this about calling Barack Obama a Muslim, which he isn‘t; he‘s a lifelong Christian. But if he were, if a kid were seven years old and a Muslim, then he talked about the soldier who died because he wanted to defend his country, America, against what those people did on 9/11, and he did die in Iraq for his country. The mother was at the graveyard, her head on the tombstone. I thought that was interesting, a guy of his power and popularity, risked everything to come out and say, you know what? It‘s OK to be from a real minority religion in this country. It‘s not just about lies told about Barack Obama. It‘s about when it‘s true that somebody has a minority religion, so what? Move on.
MAHER: Well, he can say that. He‘s not running for anything. But as you and I both well know, even though we pretend that there is no religious test in this country, of course there‘s a religious test in this country. You better be very religious. You better be Christian. And you better profess your faith at every turn or else you have no chance at getting anybody‘s nomination for president. I mean, Barack Obama talks a lot about his faith and he‘s supposedly the party that‘s not that totally into religion. But I hear him do it all the time. And when I hear him do that, all I can think is, I hope he‘s lying. I hope he‘s just pretending. I hope we finally have a secular president, who‘s not going to run a faith-based administration, because when you‘re faith based, I‘m sorry, it warps your thinking. No offense.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, maybe there is. Bill Maher, one of the funniest guys I know. And sometimes you‘re too irreverent even for me. But thank you, Bill Maher. “Real Time with Bill Maher” airs Friday night at 11:00 p.m. You can invite me on. That‘s OK. It‘s on HBO. His new movie is called “Religulos.”
Up next, the McCain campaign line of attack that painted Obama as a celebrity. My god, then somebody who pals around with terrorists, then as a socialist, then as anti-American. Then, as of today, latest word, he‘s a communist. Where does it go from here? This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the politics fix, although the whole show has been politics. Joining me is Roger Simon of “The Politico,” and Maria Teresa Petersen, who is executive director of Voto Latino. By the way, who is this Tito the plumber? What‘s this guy‘s name, Tito the carpenter? Who is this guy, a new Joe the plumber from down under?
MARIA TERESA PETERSEN, VOTO LATINO: He‘s the new Joe the plumber. What they‘re doing is that, very smartly, McCain is targeting Florida. So he‘s Colombian. McCain keeps talking about the free trade agreement. He keeps talking about reengaging with Latin American, and communism is rearing its evil head.
MATTHEWS: Not only that, his evil head is supposedly Barack Obama. Is that going to sell the Cuba and Colombian community down in Florida, that Barack Obama is a Commie?
PETERSEN: No. But it does bring fears to Venezuelans, Central Americans, Colombians. Also here in Virginia, where you have a --
MATTHEWS: How can it work? Give me the connection.
PETERSEN: Because what you find is that these are individuals that fled communism. You have Caesar Chavez. You have Fidel Castro. You have the Colombian Marxist guerrillas. In Central America, you have the Sandinistas. It is relevant. But what Barack Obama needs to do is break away from that, talk about the economy and also talk about his own immigrant experience.
ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”: I‘m just there‘s a big age difference in the Cuban American community on this. Older Cuban Americans really vote solidly Republican, are impressed with that argument.
MATTHEWS: They remember Castro.
SIMON: They remember Castro. But there‘s a whole generation or two of younger Cuban Americans.
MATTHEWS: You disagree.
PETERSEN: I think he is exactly right. It‘s a generational divide. But the biggest problem is do they turn out and vote? Historically, unfortunately, Latino youth haven‘t. That‘s one of the reasons why we do the work we do.
SIMON: So much of the Obama campaign is dependent on getting the youth out this time.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of youth, what is this fight about the fact that Joe Biden, the other day, trying to do what we know he does, show that he knows things, pointing out that a young new president like Barack Obama will be tested by our enemies the way Jack Kennedy was by Khrushchev, and I guess building the Berlin Wall—I guess that‘s what he was talking about. That‘s going to happen. Just doing it as an academic exercise. Roger, you first, that now is being used, maybe fairly or not, by the Republican candidate, Palin and McCain, as proof that picking Barack Obama is a mistake because it exposes America to a young untested leader who will be tested.
SIMON: I‘m sorry. The Republican ticket gave up the experience argument when John McCain picked Sarah Palin. And John McCain can talk about being in that cockpit, waiting to fly off during the Cuban missile crisis and all the rest. But what if Sarah Palin had her hand on the nuclear button? Didn‘t John McCain surrender that issue? I understand why he did it. He needed to goose up the Republican base. But it was a trade off. And now every time they raise Barack Obama isn‘t experienced, isn‘t experienced, all you have to do is say, but Sarah Palin is a heartbeat away? She is more experienced? She is going to get us through a nuclear testing?
MATTHEWS: She is the number one anchor around his head, according to our latest polling tonight. That‘s killing him. The number one reason people have again John McCain, who has been in politics for so many years, is he picked Sarah Palin. Isn‘t that a revolting development?
PETERSEN: I‘m going to think it‘s surprising.
MATTHEWS: Two weeks ago, it would have been surprising. Three weeks ago, it would have definitely been surprising. She was a Morning Glory. She looked great coming out.
PETERSEN: That‘s the thing. You have to let her talk. There was a reason why they made sure she was embargoed.
MATTHEWS: Today, we saw a recent example. Maybe because I worked on the Hill for 15 years, off and on, I do understand the role of the vice presidency. It is entirely limited to a procedural role. They hate going up there. All they do is go up there and sit in that chair and bang the gavel at the direction of the parliamentarian. Now, she said, no, the job is to be in charge of the United States Senate, to get in there and dig in there and come in with good policies.
I mean, Lyndon Johnson thought that when he got the vice presidency. He found out in five minutes that the Senate caucus wouldn‘t even let him into the room.
SIMON: All you have to do is watch “John Adams” on HBO. It showed how frustrated he was by being vice president. He had no powers.
PETERSEN: That‘s exactly what happened.
SIMON: It may also be that Sarah Palin is really waiting for 2012.
She has written off this election.
MATTHEWS: She said she has nothing to lose. I do not want to be condescending. I understand the anti-intellectualism in this country, because we have the best and the brightest that took us into war in Iraq. The best and the brightest took us into the Vietnam war. The big shots take us into war, with all their Harvard and Yale educations. Then the regular kids have to do the fighting. I understand the anti-intellectuals in this country. At some point, you have to have some book learning, some knowledge of the job you‘re about to take. If a vice presidential candidate does not understand the nature of the office, which is to succeed the president in dire circumstances, and to have a formal role presiding over the Senate, they shouldn‘t be there. They don‘t have the basics down.
PETERSEN: I think what happens Chris, too, and you can agree; when you go in for a job interview, you pretty much know what the job entails, right? And I think that‘s—
MATTHEWS: That‘s funny because it is so true.
PETERSEN: That is what has been shocking everybody.
SIMON: Also, as things get more serious, two shooting wars and a global economic collapse, wonkiness suddenly looks a little better. A little intellectualism looks a little good right now.
MATTHEWS: Roger Simon, thank you, Maria Teresa Petersen. When we return, I‘ll have some thoughts about this election and what I think needs to be said and what I think has to said, and hasn‘t been said by either candidate to date about, well, us. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: I have a thought about this election, something that means a lot to me as a citizen of this country. Do you know what motivate most people, men, women, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives? It‘s being a provider, doing your best to keep a roof over the family, putting food on the table, taking the family on vacation, usually in a car, buying Christmas presents for the kids and each other. It‘s about being a provider, especially in tough times like the ones coming at us right now. This is the heart of the political matter in this country, and neither candidate, not even Barack Obama who is so good in saying some other things, has talked directly to. I think the average voter doesn‘t expect the politicians and the government to make life easy for them. Believe me, no matter what the politicians promise, nobody believes they‘re going to get something for nothing. Nobody expects or believes they should expect the political equivalent of breakfast in bed. What they do expect is that government will be a modest help in doing what they need to do every day and week of their lives, provide for their families, some help with education, with health care, with getting care for their parents who are getting old. What they don‘t want is government making it harder to do what they have to do by raising taxes on the working people, or not keeping the streets safe. It is not much to ask, but it is the job of the two men running for president right now to talk directly to the providers out there and say what they‘re going to do. That‘s what it is about tonight.
Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now, it is time for “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” with David Gregory.
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