Guests: Julia Boorstin, Robert Bazell, Ned Lamont, Ron Reagan, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Haley Barbour, Chris Cillizza, Deroy Murdock
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Rogue donkey.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Joe Lieberman goes rogue. If Sarah Palin is the rogue elephant, Joe Lieberman has become the rogue donkey, the Democrat who goes his own way. He supported the Iraq war from the start. He endorsed John McCain for president. He even offered backroom spiritual counting to VP nominee Sarah Palin. And he promises to filibuster now any health care plan that includes the public option, which is number one on liberal Democrats‘ Santa Claus list.
Joe Lieberman, having been beaten—or having beaten off the Democrats when they rejected him back in that 2006 primary, fears absolutely nothing today. But just like that rogue in the other party, Lieberman‘s Democratic bosses can‘t live with him or and the can‘t live without him. He‘s number 60 on their list of 60 votes they need to get a health bill passed, and Harry Reid has no choice but to live with that fact.
Meanwhile, the Democrats (SIC), fresh from this month‘s victory in New Jersey and another one in Virginia, are plotting their comeback in their annual governors meeting down in Texas. One comeback that‘s not going to happen, Rudy Giuliani is not running for governor of New York. That‘s the word now. And we‘re going to be talking to Mississippi‘s Haley Barbour, who may be running for president. He‘s going to join us live here.
Also, that controversial mammography study. Many women are furious at the study, which said women should get fewer mammographies and wait until they‘re 50 to get them. Republicans started yelling about this one and they say it‘s the beginning of the health care rationing system. Politicians, who know a loser when they see one, ran the other way, of course. And yesterday, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius basically said women should ignore her own government study. So what should women actually do now? We‘re going to get to that.
And what happens to the Senate health care bill come Saturday? Harry Reid doesn‘t have the 60 votes he needs yet, and the first big vote is set for, that‘s right. Saturday.
And in tonight‘s “The world is flat” report, Republican congressman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who is incredible, writes history again and says it was the Republicans—by the way, check this into your memory. Don‘t you remember, it was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who passed the Civil Rights bill back in 1964? It was Republicans who did that. Remember that? She does.
Let‘s begin tonight with that rogue donkey, Joe Lieberman. What‘s he up to? Ned Lamont beat Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary up in Connecticut but lost to him in the general. And Ron Reagan is an all-American guy who happens to work on all-American Air radio (SIC). Thank you, gentlemen.
Joe Lieberman is the rogue donkey, Ned Lamont. You were supposed to put him away. You tried to drive a stake in him, but you didn‘t put it through his heart and it wasn‘t made of gold, so you let him go, you let him up. What is Joe up to?
NED LAMONT (D), FMR. CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, Chris, I tried my best, but I think the people of Connecticut, they want a vote. They don‘t understand a filibuster. We‘ve been working on health care for decades. This is our best chance to get fundamental health care reform we‘ve had certainly since 1993. And to deny your fellow senators an opportunity to vote—if you want to oppose it, you should feel free to oppose it. If you want to make amendments, make amendments. But don‘t deny is the right to vote. That‘s the feeling in Connecticut, I think.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at what Joe Lieberman said this week to “Politico” newspaper. Quote, “I‘m being a legislator. After what I went through in 2006, there‘s nothing much more that anybody who disagrees with me can do to me.”
Isn‘t that—Ron Reagan, I have never heard such a cri de guerre, a statement of macho. He should have been pounding his chest when he said this! After getting through—hey, excuse me, after getting past Ned Lamont, nobody can stop me!
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Ron Reagan?
RON REAGAN, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Well, it seems to be all about Joe Lieberman here. Now, you know, my first thought when I heard that he was going to join the Republicans and filibuster, Well, Joe just wants to become the indispensable man here. And how do you do that in the context of health care reform? You become an obstructionist. Then everybody has to pay attention to you and work around the speed bump that you‘re creating.
But I also note that he is planning to run for reelection, of course, in 2012, and he‘s got a Republican governor, Governor Rell in Connecticut, who‘s also planning to run, and according to polls, would be leading the field there. So it seems to me that Joe is trying to shore up his right flank by aligning himself with the Republicans on health care legislation.
And again, it all comes back to, It‘s all about Joe, not what the people of Connecticut what. Sixty-eight percent of the people in Connecticut favor a public option. So he‘s not running—he‘s not doing this on their behalf, he‘s doing on it on his own behalf.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this in fact, Ned Lamont? Lieberman is viewed by Democrats, Republicans and independents up in your state of Connecticut as being a leader. They cite his strong leadership qualities. So what you see and Ron sees and many liberal Democrats see as obstructionism or just being a pain in the butt, apparently, Connecticut voters see as a sign of leadership.
By the way, in the latest Quinnipiac poll, they just found it 2-to-1 they think that Lieberman‘s view are closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Get those two points behind us. Number one, is he a leader? And number two, is he a Republican in Democrat‘s clothes?
LAMONT: Look, he‘s—Chris, he‘s leading in the wrong direction. The people of Connecticut understand that if you want to have jobs and start a jobs economy back here in the state—we‘re dead last in jobs creation. And for small business, they want to see health care reform and they want to see a public option. So if they think Joe Lieberman is leading, he doesn‘t represent the people of Connecticut, and they think he‘s leading in the wrong direction.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell you—Ron, let‘s go back to the numbers. You‘ve done your reporting on this, so let‘s go through the numbers. If you‘re Harry Reid and you‘ve got a vote coming up on Saturday on the first vote to really start the debate on health care—they need to get 60 votes to say yes—you need this guy. He‘s agreed to go with them, but he‘s not agreed to vote for the final passage. He may even vote against voting on the final passage, which would kill the debate—I mean, would continue the debate and kill the vote.
REAGAN: Well, exactly. That‘s the thing. And Ned made a very important point right off the bat here. It‘s one thing to say, I don‘t approve of this health care legislation, I‘ve got some problems with it, so I‘m not going to vote for it when it comes to a vote. It‘s another thing to say to America, basically, I‘m not going to let this come to a vote. I have my own reasons here for this, so I‘m just not going to let it come to the floor.
Now, you know, if I were Harry Reid—I‘m not, but if I were Harry Reid, I‘d call his bluff. I would call Republicans‘ bluff. Let‘s show America what these people are all about. Let them stand there day after day, you know, in the well of the Senate, reading the phone book doing or whatever it would be...
REAGAN: ... anything but to have a vote here. Show that on national television every night, and let‘s see how the American people feel about it.
MATTHEWS: I agree. I—what do you think about it, Ned Lamont? Well, I always held it against you you went up to Maine for about three weeks and took a vacation...
LAMONT: Look, I...
MATTHEWS: ... after you beat him in the primary. You‘re such a Yankee! You‘re such a Yankee, you had to go to Maine for a couple weeks. Look, let‘s get to this question. Would you be...
REAGAN: Oh, Chris, I‘m so sorry about the Philadelphia Phillies!
MATTHEWS: OK. I knew you had to do that. Let‘s go to the (INAUDIBLE) Ron raised a good point. Why don‘t we do it like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”? Why don‘t we bring in the beds, go to the mattresses, literally, and say, OK, Republicans and Joe Lieberman, if you want to filibuster here, you‘re going to filibuster.
LAMONT: I would...
MATTHEWS: You‘re going to read the Bible and we‘re going to go...
REAGAN: I‘m with Ron Reagan on that.
MATTHEWS: ... right through Christmas and the holidays and we‘re going to stay here and we‘re going to watch the American Senate, the only voice we have a possibility for doing something in this country, waste our time by reading from the Bible or whatever else through the holidays.
LAMONT: Look, take a full year of extra effort trying to reform this health care system in a serious way. It‘s not like we if don‘t get it this time, we can do it next year. As you know, Chris, these things come up every generation. And if we don‘t pass it now, it could be another generation before we have this next opportunity.
Chris, my small business, our rates went up 30 percent this year.
LAMONT: That‘s the biggest tax increase we get.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) health care, yes.
LAMONT: And I heard that from small business across the state right now.
MATTHEWS: Well, here he is, Joe Lieberman, quote—this is what he said last month, quote, Ron -- “I can‘t see a way in which I could vote for cloture”—that means stopping debate and having a vote—“on any bill that contained the creation of a government-run insurance company.” Well, clearly, one of the jobs of a senator is to represent the economic interests of his state. Isn‘t he simply the lobbyist here for the insurance companies of Hartford, Connecticut? Isn‘t that what he‘s doing, and publicly doing so?
REAGAN: Well, that would seem to be the case, yes. I mean, insurance is a big concern there in the state of Connecticut. So obviously, he‘s got some—some—you know, some skin in that game, I guess you could say.
LAMONT: But at the same time, again, 68 percent of the citizens of Connecticut, the people he is supposed to be representing, want that public option. There‘s not much doubt about that. That tracks, of course, across the country, as well. So again, is Joe Lieberman representing, you know, The Hartford or is he representing the people?
MATTHEWS: Ned, I got a new number for you from the Quinnipiac poll, which is fascinating. “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Lieberman is handling his job as U.S. senator?” Among Republicans, 74 percent approval, 20 percent Democrat—I mean 20 percent negative. Among Democrats, 31 percent approval, 62 percent disapproval. Now, here‘s where his strength lies, 52 percent among independents approve of his performance. Only 40 percent don‘t.
How can you solve a problem like Joe Lieberman, if you want to beat him, when he‘s so strong among Republicans and stronger than the other guy, or stronger than you‘d think among independents? And by the way, men like him, women don‘t, as a group.
LAMONT: Look, Joe‘s strong opposition to the public option is clearly a way to play to his base. That‘s the Republican base. And maybe he‘s there on behalf of the insurance companies, but he‘s not there on behalf of working families. He‘s not there on behalf of small business. He‘s not there on behalf of those of us who are trying to create jobs in this state. We‘ve got to get health care reform. That‘s the overwhelming opinion of independents and Democrats and even right-minded Republicans in this state. All of the...
MATTHEWS: Final question—final question...
LAMONT: ... legislators...
MATTHEWS: Ned, you‘re up there, and I do respect the fact that you ran against him, despite that cheap shot against my hometown team. But let me ask you this—this question. Is this man—I want an answer—is he as strong as he seems up there, based upon the numbers, and is basically unbeatable in the next election, or is he cruising for a bruising? What‘s your thinking about the way...
LAMONT: I think he‘s...
MATTHEWS: ... he says, Nobody can beat me?
LAMONT: Oh, look, that‘s—that‘s happy talk. I think he‘s cruising for a bruising. I don‘t think he represents the people of Connecticut right now. Like I said, we really believe in health care reform. We believe in a public option. We believe in fighting for a woman‘s right to choose. We don‘t want to see that compromised away. And I think right now, Senator Lieberman is not representing the bulk of his constituents in our state.
MATTHEWS: Well, Ronnie, he says in his latest quote he hasn‘t decided whether he‘s going to run or not. “I‘m keeping all of my options open. The wonderful thing of being an independent, you have options.” Well, he‘s just—he‘s just out there, Ron Reagan.
REAGAN: Yes, I...
MATTHEWS: Is this guy beatable or is he unbeatable?
REAGAN: No, he‘s beatable, I think. But I think the danger to him comes from the right, and I think that‘s his perception, as well. And again, I think that is why he‘s tacking this way on health care. I think he fears Governor Rell getting into the race and perhaps knocking him off, an actual Republican, not just a sort of on-the-fence faux Republican like Joe Lieberman. And yes, so that‘s what I think. That‘s where I think the danger lies, not from another Democrat, I have to say.
MATTHEWS: Well, Ron, you‘ve done your reporting. Thank you, Ned. Thanks for coming on. I hope you run again up there, Ned. And this time, don‘t take a vacation.
Coming up: There‘s a political fight building over a new study that shows mammograms aren‘t necessary for most women in their 40s. Republicans say this new recommendation is an example of what we‘re going to get from government-managed health care. It‘s rationing on the way, they say. Well, is this science or politics? Maybe it‘s both. This is a hard one for the Obama people.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A new report by a federally appointed task force recommends that women start getting mammograms at age 50, not 40, and has caused a lot of confusion about what‘s the best course of action for women. At a time when health care reform is up on the debate for everybody, the issue has become even more heated, of course.
And here to break it down for us is NBC News chief science and health correspondent, Robert Bazell. Robert, it‘s really a tough one. And let‘s get away from the politics for a second—for a second, at least. What is in the interest...
ROBERT BAZELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It‘s pretty hard to get away from the politics of this.
MATTHEWS: I know. How do we—how do we get to the heart of this? If you‘re just a woman watching right now, and half of our viewers are women, at least, and they‘re watching right now and they want to know, even if they‘re past their 40s and they have children or grandchildren even heading towards this period—what do they do? What‘s the right thing to do?
BAZELL: What you should do is not think that mammograms are the solution to breast cancer. They can help find some breast cancer early and get it treated. But anybody who thinks that just getting a mammogram is the solution is the root of this problem. That‘s how this happened.
Mammograms are imperfect. They miss breast cancers. They cause people to have to have biopsies that aren‘t necessary. They cause people to have to have anxiety that isn‘t necessary. So they‘re not—we need better methods of detection for breast cancer. Meanwhile, you should get your mammograms starting at age 40, in my opinion.
MATTHEWS: So you don‘t agree with this study.
BAZELL: I don‘t—this is not a study. That‘s one of the things about it that‘s a misnomer. People say this is science. This is an obscure federal agency called the U.S. Preventive Health Task Force that‘s set up to analyze other studies and it looks at some things that are science. It is science to say that 6.1 lives are saved per 1,000 women in their 40s and 5.4 per 1,000 in 50 and above. That‘s science. But to decide which is more valuable, that‘s a value judgment. That‘s politics. That‘s not science.
MATTHEWS: You know what I worry about, is any time when somebody tells me you don‘t have to do something, I think—I mean, checking for lumps is something all women have to do to protect themselves. Obviously, that‘s self—checking yourself. You don‘t go to the hospital for that, but you have to do that just to be a smart person. You know, when I hear that, for example, they tell people who have a drinking problem, they should go back and have a drink, even though that‘s—their own experience has told them they can‘t. You‘ve read those studies.
BAZELL: Well, that...
MATTHEWS: I think they‘re dangerous. So I just wonder, does this present a danger in terms of self-checking, in terms of doing the thing that common sense tells you?
BAZELL: Well, take...
MATTHEWS: Look out.
BAZELL: Take self-checking off of it. A lot of studies have shown not that women shouldn‘t touch their breasts and go to the doctor if they find a lump. Everybody agrees with that. So the question is whether complex, expensive courses to teach women to do it do any good, and a lot of studies have shown they don‘t. That‘s what the self-checking part about it—let‘s go back to mammograms, a kind of X-ray. The question is, what age should mammograms start and whether it‘s worth all the extra problems that they can cause for all—for the amount of lives they save?
There is no question that starting at age 40, they do save lives. It‘s a question of what are you willing to put up with, what cost are you willing to put up with in order to achieve that?
MATTHEWS: Are we better off had this report had not come out?
BAZELL: Probably, and I should think a lot of people in the Obama administration are wishing...
BAZELL: ... it never came out because what happened was that some guy in the National Cancer Institute was supposed to communicate this to the National Institutes of Health, which would have communicated it to HHS, didn‘t do it in a timely way, and it really took the administration by surprise, when it shouldn‘t have.
MATTHEWS: OK. I‘m thinking of that old phrase, Don‘t be so helpful.
REAGAN: Exactly. This is about the worst thing because...
BAZELL: ... under some of the health reform plans, this obscure agency will have the power to decide what does and doesn‘t go into insurance plans, and that‘s a big deal. And so—and what I think is going to come of this is that nothing is going to exchange with respect to mammograms, but this obscure agency is not going to be having its meetings in secret and coming out suddenly with recommendations.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
REAGAN: They‘re going to start having public meetings. This panel did not even have a breast cancer expert on it, yet it had three representatives from the insurance industry on it. What‘s going on here? This should have been done in public, in a very public and open way, and let people decide for themselves what they want.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you, Dr. Robert Bazell, for being on the show today, helping us get the facts right.
Let‘s go to the politics a bit now with our real good friend here, U.S. Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Congresswoman, it‘s—I want to call you Debbie because I care about you and...
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Go right ahead.
MATTHEWS: ... we‘re talking about health here.
MATTHEWS: We‘re talking about health here and we‘re talking about how people like yourself who have been through this experience of dealing with this kind of thing, what your reaction is in terms of the science, your self-teaching. You‘re auto-didactic, of course. You‘ve had to teach yourself so much about this. What do you—what‘s your reaction to the whole—this whole kerfuffle, if you will?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.
Well, I couldn‘t agree with Robert more. It is totally inappropriate and disturbing that this group of public health professionals, with no medical—no medical no oncologists, no cancer specialists that served on it, made a policy judgment, not a scientific judgment, but a policy judgment that women 40 to 49, it‘s OK to save—it‘s OK to save one life for women 50 to 59 for every 1,300 women screened, but not OK to save one life for women 40 to 45 for every 1,900 screened.
It‘s—it‘s a ridiculous set of recommendations. It causes mass—it‘s causing mass confusion among women, because we have been trained to know that, when we‘re 40 years old, we should get a mammogram routinely.
And, you know, Robert—something else Robert is that—that—he‘s absolutely right. Mammograms aren‘t foolproof. I actually found my own tumor through a breast self-examine six weeks after a clean mammogram.
But they are a tool. They are a—an imprecise tool, but they are one tool. This task force, Chris, is telling women 40 to 49, no mammogram in that 10-year period. Oh, by the way, don‘t do breast self-exam either, and telling doctors in the same set of recommendations that clinical breast exams are inappropriate also.
They‘re leaving women 40 to 49 with nothing.
MATTHEWS: So, the—and, so, one of the messages coming out of this, you say, even literally was don‘t even do the self-checking?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They—their recommendations actually say, after
after—after they released them, that women should not do breast self-exams.
Now, it‘s—it‘s one thing to say that we shouldn‘t, you know, systematically teach self-exam. They are recommending against breast self-exam. You have—most women who are 40 to 49 catch their breast cancer themselves through a breast self-exam.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s common sense. I—that‘s what I always thought. And that‘s my experience with my family, that is, checking is one of the things husbands recognize as going on all the time.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: And they see it. And they root for it.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And, on top of that, what they‘re saying is, well, now you—if you‘re 40 to 49, you should just talk to your doctor about your risk.
About 75 percent of women who have breast cancer didn‘t have any risk, weren‘t in a higher-risk category. I was in a higher-risk category, didn‘t even know it until I found my lump myself and went to the doctor.
So, these recommendations are really patronizing, because they‘re presuming that women can‘t handle more information and make a rational decision with their health care provider.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It‘s really outrageous.
MATTHEWS: You know, this isn‘t one of those countries where they drown babies that are girls. But, sometimes, I think when I talk to my producers, there‘s a sense of prejudice against women in health care. It came out, of course, a couple of weeks ago with regard to the fight over choice.
A lot of people didn‘t like the compromise that was made. It was made averse to that point of view, which is the majority point of view in your party. Here‘s the question. Is this another example where it seems like doctors, male doctors, male professionals, bureaucrats are behaving in a way that puts women in a second-class category?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I will give you a health care reform example that fits into the same category. Women on average with insurance—with health insurance policies pay about 48 percent more in premiums just because of our gender, just because we can get pregnant, and because they calculate that we utilize the health care system more than men.
So, women generally get a raw deal when it comes to health care. I think this is...
MATTHEWS: Well, I can give you one good reason for that. Can I give you one good reason?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.
MATTHEWS: You guys live about 15 years longer.
MATTHEWS: You ever go to an old folks home in Florida? There‘s like one guy there.
MATTHEWS: And he has big ears. And everybody‘s else is laughing at his jokes, because he‘s the only guy around to pay any attention to.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have a lot of wonderful senior women down in South Florida...
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... who I‘m proud to represent.
MATTHEWS: Can I just tell you, there‘s always like one George Burns in the group and everybody else is a woman.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for coming on.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Good luck with everything.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Up next, wait until you hear the latest from Congresswoman—well, wait until you catch this one. Well, this is another version of the dream. Let‘s put it that way. This is Virginia Foxx in action. She‘s actually trying to say it was—remember this? It was the Republicans, don‘t you remember? They are the ones that pushed through civil rights back in the ‘60s. Remember? It was not the Democrats. Remember that? Interesting memory there—next in the “Sideshow.”
I think she‘s one of these replicants from “Blade Runner,” where they had an imposed memory put into them.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
And what a “Sideshow” we have tonight.
First, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
Remember now the 1964 Civil Rights Bill killed the Democratic Party in the South, which it did? Remember how Lyndon Johnson said that would happen when he signed the bill? Remember how what he predicted did come true, how the former Dixiecrats all became Republicans? Remember?
Well, guess who doesn‘t remember, or at least says she doesn‘t? Here‘s North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on floor of the House today giving her version of recent history during a debate on the environment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX ®, NORTH CAROLINA: The GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this in this—in this country, just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ‘60s, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here are the facts.
Forty-six Democratic senators voted for the civil rights bill, 46, and 27 Republican senators. Well, that‘s the numbers. I wouldn‘t say that meant the Democrats passed it or the Republicans. I would just say more Democrats voted for it than Republicans.
But here‘s the bigger story. LBJ was right. Backing civil rights cost the Democrats the South, and the Republicans were the winners by opposing civil rights. She‘s wrong. History‘s right.
This next one‘s for the history buffs, of course. President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, held a key meeting three days after the Watergate break-in. The tape of that meeting was partially erased by White House secretary Rose Mary Woods.
There she is demonstrating that stretch which accidentally, she said, erased the tape, leaving that infamous 18-and-a-half-minute gap. It‘s also long been suspected that pages from H.R. Haldeman‘s own personal diary from that day, which—actually excellent diary, are missing.
Well, guess what? The mystery of the Watergate gap may finally be solvable. The National Archives got together a forensic team to analyze the two pages they do have from Haldeman‘s notepad that day. They are going to analyze the ink and paper to determine if they were doctored, something either added or removed from those pages to protect Nixon, also whether any copies were made of that work.
So, that‘s good work by the forensic people over there at the National Archives. We may soon find out, if these guys get the job done, what exactly Nixon and Haldeman knew, and what they did, if they did it, to cover up the break-in.
Now for the “Big Number.”
A new Quinnipiac poll shows an interesting divide when it comes to attitudes towards President Obama. Well, you are going to remember when you get to dinner tonight. While 47 percent of Americans say they agree with most of the president‘s policies—that‘s 47 percent—a sky-high 74 percent—flip it -- 74 percent, as opposed to 47 percent—say they like him as a person, which means the difference between President Obama‘s likability and job approval stands at 27 points.
Twenty-seven percent more of the public likes President Obama than agrees with him on the issues. That‘s tonight‘s food-for-thought “Big Number.”
Up next: A famous Republican governor not named Palin, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, will be with us from the Republicans‘ Governors Association meeting going on right now, where they are celebrating their victories in Jersey and Virginia. We are going to talk to him about the next elections coming up.
Haley is one of the smartest guys in the Republican Party, most people may agree. He may be running for president. I think he‘s thinking about it.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks sharply today on a ratings downgrade for the chipmaking sector
the Dow Jones industrial losing 94 points, the S&P 500 down 15 points, and the Nasdaq tumbling more than 36 points.
Bank of America and Merrill Lynch slashing its growth forecasts for the global chip industry. Analysts are concerned that inventories will overshoot global demand in 2010.
B-of-A downgraded chip sector giants Intel and Texas Instruments, along with eight rivals—Intel shares ending the day more than 4 percent lower.
Texas Instruments shares losing more than 3 percent, while Dell shares are getting hammered in after-hours trading on earnings posted just after the closing bell. The computer-maker is reporting a big drop in sales and profits, both numbers falling well short of expectations.
Sears Holdings also posting earnings, but beating estimates, with Kmart stores posting positive results for the first time in several quarters.
That‘s it‘s from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is celebrating recent Republican gubernatorial victories of Virginia and New Jersey at the Republican Governors Association meeting. But what does he think about “The New York Times”‘ report that Rudy Giuliani has decided not to run for governor of New York? And does he want Sarah Palin stumping for Republicans next year?
I‘m reading script right now, Haley, but those thoughts are on my mind, first of all, the tough one. Is Rudy still, when you talk to the guy, is he still a possible candidate for governor of New York?
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: No, I—I have been told the about the story in “The New York Times.” I can‘t verify whether it‘s accurate or not. So, again, Rudy is going to have to speak for himself. And I just simply have to leave it at that, because I don‘t know anymore.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Sarah Palin and your party. I‘m one of those who believes she is a hot political property, just being one—somebody who watches politics.
And I think, in a field of boring people, she will always be the one. And in a field where there‘s four guys running against her, she will have that advantage in Iowa in the caucuses and in South Carolina. I think she appeals to rural people and to a lot of people all over states, even like Pennsylvania, against a boring crop of other candidates.
Is she a factor in 2012?
BARBOUR: Well, I don‘t know if she will run in 2012, but she‘s certainly got a following.
She‘s having a tremendous book tour. She‘s going to sell a boatload of books. And—and I think that says something. You know, Marsha and I have always liked her. I think she‘s a lot—got a lot more to her than she was given credit for. She‘s a bona fide energy expert.
But whether she‘s going to run in 2012 and what might happen in 2012, you know, Chris, my focus is exclusively on 2010. We have got 37 governor‘s races, 37 Senate races. We have got the entire Congress. And that‘s the election that really matters.
And Republicans who are—who got their eye on the ball got their eye on 2010.
MATTHEWS: But the fact that she‘s saying the same thing you just did, Governor, that she‘s focusing on 2010, she‘s an out-of-office politician, yet she says her focus is on 2010. It just sounds to me like Richard Nixon, back in ‘66, when Pat Buchanan was his only traveling buddy.
They went out there to win a bunch of races, take credit for them, so they could come back and run for president. She is following the book.
You know she is. She‘s following the campaign book. Come out with a book,
like Nixon did, remember, “Six Crises,” then go campaign for—for other -
other Republicans, get some victories under her belt, and then come back as a credible national leader.
It seems like she‘s doing everything that will get her toward being perhaps the front-runner in your party come the fall of—of 2012.
You don‘t agree?
BARBOUR: Well, we will just see. I mean, I‘m not smart enough to know what‘s going to happen in 2012.
But I do believe she will be helpful to some of the our candidates in 2010. She was—she really gave the McCain campaign the first energy and enthusiasm, excitement that it had. She fired up the base. And I think she can be a real asset to people in campaigns.
And I—I hope you‘re right, in that I hope you‘re—that she‘s going to want to spend some of her time trying to help elect Republicans in 2010.
MATTHEWS: Is she qualified to be president?
BARBOUR: Well, constitutionally, she sure is.
I will tell you, now, Chris, she‘s a lot brighter than she gets credit for. I served as governor with her for several years. I mentioned earlier, when it came to energy policy, she is very well informed, very experienced.
I mean, she was in Alaska and I was in Mississippi, and I would just see her at meetings, but I never had anything but a very positive impression of her. Still do.
MATTHEWS: The latest “Washington”—The latest “Washington Post”/ABC poll has it that 60 percent of the people say that she‘s not qualified to be president.
Are you with the 60 percent or with the 38 percent who say she is?
BARBOUR: Well, I have been in the minority a lot in my life. You know, I was...
MATTHEWS: I mean, if I were polling you, if I were polling you on the phone right now, and I called you up on the phone, Governor, and I managed to get through to your mansion down there on—in Jackson, and I managed to get you on the phone, and I said, you‘re just a regular person. Is this woman qualified to be president or not? And you would have to be one of the people who would respond. Or you could hang up on me.
Are you going to hang up on me, Governor?
BARBOUR: I‘m not going to hang up on you. I was a Republican in Mississippi in 1968, Chris, so I‘m not unused—unaccustomed to being in the minority. I don‘t know anything that disqualifies her for being president. Do I think she is the best presidential candidate that we might have? Well, let‘s see who all runs. But right now, the good news is I don‘t have to make that decision. What I have to make a decision is how can I best help elect more Republican governors in 2010.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re going to dodge that one, right? You‘re not going to tell me whether she‘s qualified or not tonight on HARDBALL here. We ask questions like this, Governor. That‘s why we like having you on so we can ask you these questions. Is Governor Palin qualified to be president? And I won‘t ask it again. This is the last time.
BARBOUR: And the last time I answer it will be this, I don‘t know of anything that disqualifies her from being president. I think that‘s what I told you a while ago, and you wouldn‘t take that for an answer.
MATTHEWS: Well, I have to take it now.
Let me show you a new policy—a new poll that just came out about the president of the United States. I find this confounding. It‘s a Public Policy poll. It‘s done by a Democratic pollster. But here‘s the number, 52 percent of Republicans nationwide think that ACORN, the welfare group, stole the election for President Obama, versus 27 percent who think he won it legitimately.
Your party is so tough on Obama that a majority of them told a pollster that ACORN is competent enough as an organization to steal a presidential election and give it to the Democrat.
What do you view—is this about a psyche out there that people are just mad at the guy and they‘re willing to say, yes, they stole it, even, ACORN did it? What‘s going on out there in the minds of people?
BARBOUR: I wouldn‘t invest a lot of money based on what that poll says. I did see a poll today or had one discussed with me that said the president—that 73 percent of people of the United States find the president likable or think he‘s a nice person.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he got 74 percent, yes.
BARBOUR: But about 40 percent agree with him. And I find both of those numbers very realistic. People want our president to succeed. And this is the first African-American president we ever had, and I think the wanting our president to succeed is even more magnified with that.
However, most people don‘t like his policies. They don‘t like this health care plan that going to drive up the cost of health care, that‘s going to cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raise taxes on small businesses, cost jobs. They don‘t like his energy policy. Again, raise the cost of energy, cost jobs. They don‘t like all this spending and all this debt, and they know however much taxes get raised, the debt is still going to be so humongous that our grandchildren are going to be paying it off.
But I can understand people saying, He seems like a nice man and I want him to succeed, but I don‘t like his policies. And I think that‘s what we saw in the elections a couple weeks ago. A lot of independents were very put off by the Obama policies, which are left-left. And it helped Bob McDonnell and it helped Chris Christie.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. You‘re in opposition. That was a good statement of an opposition leader and it‘s a good statement. But let me ask you this. The Republican Party deserves credit because you pushed through Welfare reform, a tough bill, back—because Newt Gingrich pushed it and the president had to sign it under duress, I think, in 1996, or he would have lost—he might have lost about 4 percent or 5 percent in that fight with Bob Dole. I don‘t think he would have lost, but he would have lost a lot of ground. So you guys showed the upper hand. You got the job done. You forced the Democrat to eat it and he did.
Why don‘t you ever do that health care? You‘ve had power in your party. You‘ve had control of both houses under Bush, George W. You‘ve had both houses and you‘ve had the presidency, plenty of chances to get to a really good health care bill using tax cuts or whatever to serve the country that‘s not being served by health care. But yet you wait around, like a troll under the bridge, waiting for the Democrats to do it, and you come out and bite their leg.
Why don‘t you walk across that bridge? Why don‘t you guys have a health care bill when you‘re in power? Just a thought.
BARBOUR: Well, yes, we trolls who hide under the bridge, candidly, a lot of Republicans, including me, think it would be much better to let the states do some things like we‘ve done in Mississippi, where we‘ve had serious tort reform, and our medical liability reform has brought down insurance premiums by 60 percent in four years, that we have reformed Medicaid so that we‘re saving the taxpayers money, that we think to let the states for a while have different ideas, see what works, see what doesn‘t, and then come together with a rational bill at the federal level is a better approach.
Instead, what we‘re seeing is some of the worst models that have been done by states that have driven health insurance premiums through the roof in states like New York, where you are—that‘s become the model and that‘s why CBO—in a Democrat Congress, the Congressional Budget Office says these health care reform bills done by the Democrats are going to make health insurance premiums go up and that the government plan for health care will be even more expensive than the private plans, even after the private plans‘ premiums go up. We don‘t think that‘s the right solution. We think states can do better than that solution.
MATTHEWS: You know what? I think you‘ve just done a great job on the Democrats‘ weakness, their Achilles heel, which is tort reform. They get so much money from the trial lawyers. They will not engage in tort reform. The president said they would in that speech to Congress, the joint session a couple weeks ago. They‘re not doing it. You have hit them in their gut. They don‘t do it because that‘s where they get their money.
But thank you very much, Haley Barbour. You scored a very good point on Democrats on health care. Tort reform would be a great way to save the consumer money and bring back specialists to states like Pennsylvania, and they‘ve all left.
Up next: What‘s next for health care reform? The Senate holds its first big vote on Saturday, but Harry Reid doesn‘t quite have those 60 votes to pass it, or even to get it voted on. That‘s next in “The Fix.”
This is HARDBALL. That was Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.
MATTHEWS: We are back. Time for “The Politics Fix” with the Washingtonpost.com‘s Chris Cillizza and “The National Review‘s” Deroy Murdock.
Deroy, I had a tough time with Haley Barbour, who‘s a charming, smart-as-hell fellow, governor of Mississippi and one of the top Republicans in the country right now. I asked him, I thought, a sort of a HARDBALL but a simple question. Is Governor Palin, the former governor of Alaska, qualified to be president? And I asked him four times and he wouldn‘t answer. What do you make of that?
DEROY MURDOCK, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: Interesting he wasn‘t able to give you a yes or no answer to that yes or no question. And this is going to be what‘s going to...
MATTHEWS: I‘ll give you the same question. Is she qualified to be president?
MURDOCK: She‘s not qualified. The answer is no. And that‘s really too bad for her. What she should have done is remained in office as governor of Alaska. She could have implemented her entire agenda, or at least tried to. She could have cut taxes, cut spending, done school choice reform, Alaska care. She could have made that state a showcase for her ideas, her philosophy, and then come forward in 2012 or 2015 and say, I want to do for America what I did for Alaska and make—and nationalize the Alaska miracle, if she could pull that off.
Now she‘s—the best thing she can say is that she‘s the former half-term governor of the state of Alaska. And she may have a best-selling book, she‘s obviously very charismatic and can draw crowds, but the question is, Can she be commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces and leader of the remaining sole superpower on the planet earth, and I don‘t think you can do that on, basically, half a term as governor of Alaska, quitting in the middle thereof.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think, Chris Cillizza, one thing she‘s not qualified to do is write the book. She had somebody write the book for her, which is an interesting thing in itself. Why wouldn‘t Haley Barbour say she‘s qualified? That‘s a minimalist statement.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: I agree. I mean, you‘re not asking him to endorse her for president because if you were, I would say Haley Barbour probably is a little interested in that race in his own right and wants to preserve that option. But to say she‘s qualified to be president of the United States—I mean, he‘s a Republican governor of a state, she was a Republican governor of a state. It doesn‘t seem to me if he said, Yes, she‘s qualified, all of a sudden, we say, Oh, Haley...
MATTHEWS: I‘ll give you two problems with that. You first, Deroy. One problem is that the governor of Mississippi said that issues like health care would be best discovered, the truth and perhaps the workability of them, at state level. Well, if the state level was the laboratory for change in this country, why didn‘t she stay governor where she could have done health care in Alaska?
MATTHEWS: The second one, I think, is—the second problem, I think, gets to what you‘re, I think, thinking about occasionally, which is, is she being used by the Republican Party to stoke the flames of anger from the right, with no intention whatever of actually letting her have leadership?
MURDOCK: I don‘t think anybody is using Sarah Palin. I think she‘s doing exactly what she wants. Whether you agree or disagree with her, I don‘t think she‘s a puppet. I think she‘s doing exactly what she wants, and she‘s thoroughly...
MATTHEWS: But the way in which the party is embracing her and not—it seems like they embrace her to a point. She‘s a good cheerleader, but not necessarily somebody you want leading the party.
MURDOCK: We‘ll see what the party decides. I think the leadership may not—the lead of the party may not be that enamored with her. She obviously has a following in the grass roots. But I think that Haley Barbour‘s comment is correct. The 50 state laboratories of democracy operate and can be models of what to do or not to do, and she had a great opportunity to use Alaska that way as a showcase for whatever it is she‘d want to do as president, and she quit in the middle of her term. And I don‘t see how you can put quitter and leader into the same sentence.
CILLIZZA: I don‘t think we should feel too bad for her, Chris. This is a woman that, if you take the crowds in Grand Rapids and Fort Wayne, is going to sell a lot of books. She‘s a very popular person on the speaking circuit. Whether she wants to engage in politics in the future...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me say...
CILLIZZA: ... is a different story. But financially, I don‘t think she‘s a figure of pity.
MATTHEWS: Anybody who‘s ever written a book knows two facts. It‘s hard to write a book. It‘s almost impossible. And going on a book tour is nothing but fun.
MATTHEWS: And she‘s having the best part of it. We‘ll be right back with Chris Cillizza and Deroy Murdock to talk about this 60 votes that the leader of the Democrats needs in the Senate come this Saturday. Key vote coming up. Has he got the votes? He doesn‘t think so yet.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Chris Cillizza and Deroy Murdock for more of the “Politics Fix.” Let‘s start with Chris on the reporting here, and then to Deroy. This is really coming to a head this Saturday on the floor of the Senate, will have its first vote on health care. After all this discussion on Ed Schultz‘s show, on this show, on everything else on this network, especially, we‘ve been talking about it. And they‘re going to have to decide if they have enough votes to even vote.
MATTHEWS: And Harry Reid says he may not have—here are the names -
Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas, Landrieu, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Nelson of Nebraska, Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana. Those are the five people out there. What do we make of that? Any one of those five could be trouble, it looks like.
CILLIZZA: Let me suggest something. I think Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas—you mentioned her—she‘s up in 2010. Polling shows very tough race. She‘s in the low 40s. She‘s running against Republicans who no one knows. They‘re in the high 30s, which is always worrisome.
CILLIZZA: I think that she is going to vote to bring this to the floor. That‘s all this means. She—I got an e-mail from—a letter she sent to her supporters. She said this, Even if the Senate decides to open debate on this measure, there will be many days and weeks of efforts to improve it.
What does that say? I‘m probably going to vote for this on Saturday, but don‘t assume I‘m for the final bill. I think if Blanche Lincoln can take that vote, it‘s going to be hard for a Ben Nelson, who does also sit in a Republican district but isn‘t up—Republican state, but isn‘t up in 2012, to say, Oh, I just can‘t do it.
So my guess is it‘s going to come to the floor and we‘re going to see a full debate on it. I think predictions beyond then are very dicey to make.
MATTHEWS: Deroy, it does seem to be that this is coming down to—
I‘ve never seen a bill that faces this kind of “Perils of Pauline” situation. It‘s like this health care bill is tied to a railroad track, and you got some villain holding it down. I‘ve never seen a bill that‘s just—you know, that‘s just going to be this close. I mean, it‘s hardly what the American people want with any kind of drama if it‘s this close.
MURDOCK: It is both close, and also, usually, the filibuster, the cloture issue, comes up on final passage. Usually, it‘s very much a formality. They go ahead and vote to bring it up and debate it. And the question is, will the vote even to be able to look at this pass on Saturday? I‘m opposed to this bill. I think that it should be killed as soon as possible and they ought to kill it on Saturday by voting down the motion to proceed.
MATTHEWS: Not my view, but we‘ll see this Saturday. Chris Cillizza, thank you, sir. Thank you, Deroy Murdock.
Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now, it‘s time for “The Ed Show,” the aforementioned Ed Schultz.
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