Guests: Julia Boorstin, Bill Nelson, Colin Hanna, Ryan Hecker, Ryan Hecker, Colin Hanna, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, Andy Stern
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: To the moon and back.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington: Leading off tonight:
Live long and prosper. That was Mr. Spock‘s farewell wish in “Star Trek.” So let‘s talk space. Anyone old enough to remember the moon landing or John Glenn orbiting the Earth or Alan Shepard‘s (ph) first flight remembers how we were all filled with pride. We didn‘t make it to space first, the Soviets did with Sputnik, but we certainly beat them to the moon.
Do we still need manned space flights? Are they worth the money and the risk? President Obama says no, at least not for now. But a lot of people like Neil Armstrong disagree. Florida senator Bill Nelson, who once flew in space himself, joins us at the top of the show.
Plus, it‘s tax day, and you know what that means, the mother of all tea party rallies in Washington, D.C. These are the people who want the government to lower taxes, but hey, keep those government checks coming.
We‘ve asked this question before—who are the tea party people? Well, tonight we‘ve got a poll on nothing but the tea partiers. And guess what? They‘re not exactly who you might think they are. But then again, they are whiter, older, better off and certainly further to the right than any other group of protesters you‘ve ever met.
And I said it last night, third parties suck. Tonight, we‘ve got a liberal who wants to start a third party in North Carolina to punish three Democratic members of Congress who voted against health care reform. He‘s talking accountability. So I‘m wondering, and I‘m going to ask him, who in the labor movement is going to be accountable when Nancy Pelosi comes up three votes short on election night this November? Will labor be there to hand the Speaker‘s gavel over to John Boehner?
And see how Jon Stewart uses Fox News‘s own logo to make the case that the Fox logo is inspired by Nazi Germany. A great “Sideshow” moment coming up tonight.
Let‘s start with the future of space flight and the president‘s remarks at the Kennedy Space Center today down in Florida. Democratic Florida senator Bill Nelson sits on the Science and Transportation Committee. He himself orbited this Earth aboard the space shuttle Columbia back in ‘86.
Senator, it‘s great to have you on. You‘re the best possible guest we can have. You‘ve flown in space. You represent Cape Canaveral, Cape Kennedy. And you believe in manned space.
Let‘s listen together to the president on the moon and then you react.
Here he is. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here, we‘ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There‘s a lot more of space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it‘s more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach and operate at a series of increasingly demanding targets while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that‘s what this strategy does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess the big question is, are we still the great space pioneers we were under Kennedy? Kennedy launched us to the moon. We got there under Nixon. We loved it. Are we still going to be the leaders in space 10, 20 years from now, Senator Nelson?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL), SCIENCE & TRANSPORTATION CMTE.: Yes, sir, we are. And I think the president set us on a course. And he said we were on the moon 40 years ago. We don‘t need to go back to the moon, we need to get out into deep space. And one of the great things that he did today, Chris, is that he set destinations and a timetable in deep space. He talked about being on an asteroid in 2025. And that‘s after we developed the heavy-lift vehicle, which our committee is going to continue developing, and the president said he wanted it at least by 2015, the architecture.
MATTHEWS: Is this just about thrust? What‘s it take to get from here to the moon? I‘m sorry, we got to the moon, as you pointed out, decades ago. What‘s it take to get to Mars? First of all, again, let‘s watch the president and you react. A lot of Americans would like to get to Mars. It‘s not the number one ambition. A lot of people are just thinking about Friday night and the next paycheck. But Mars is interesting. Let‘s listen to what the president said about Mars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Unlike the previous program, we are setting a course with specific and achievable milestones. Early in the next decade, a set of crude flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low-earth orbit. And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crude missions beyond the moon, into deep space. By the mid 2030s, I believe we can send humans who orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s optimistic for us all. We all hope to be there in 203, I think. My question is, are we going to get to Mars? And what does it take that we don‘t have?
NELSON: Well, we have to develop new technologies. Right now, we send humans to Mars, it‘d take us 10 months to get there. Chris, one of my crewmates is developing a plasma rocket that would take us to Mars in 39 days. If you went under conventional technology do Mars, whenever they have a solar explosion, our astronauts would get fried. You‘ve got to create the kind of protection, probably a magnetic field, that will protect you from that solar radiation. Those are the kinds of things.
We don‘t have it today, but the president‘s setting us on a course, saying we‘re going there, we‘re going first to an asteroid, then we‘re going to deeper space, maybe a Mars fly-by, and then eventually to the surface of Mars. You‘ve got to set the vision just like President Kennedy did, and then you start working toward it.
MATTHEWS: OK, what‘s this kerfuffle about the other day? Why did Neil Armstrong take a shot at the president? What‘s his problem with the president‘s program, as you understand it?
NELSON: You know, I don‘t understand it, Chris, because people—his crewmate, Buzz Aldrin, certainly feels differently. Sally Ride (ph) feels differently. I think what Buzz—or what Neil was reacting to was the perception, which was real, a real perception that the president had canceled the manned space program.
And of course, in my visits with the president, I said, You‘ve got to turn this around because that‘s not what you believe. And I think he turned that around today, if people will listen to the specifics of what he said, and he did it in a very eloquent and visionary way.
MATTHEWS: What are we getting out of space travel? A lot of my producers and people I work with here have asked me the big question. We go up, we come back. What do we bring back? I mean, a joke—it‘s not a joke because I used to be—when I was single, I‘ve got to tell you, I drank a lot of Tang. It was one thing I could keep in the house without worrying about anything but ice cubes. I could make Tang. I could make instant coffee. Besides Tang, what have we gotten out of the space program for us here on Earth?
NELSON: Well, for example, when we went to the moon, you had to develop highly reliable systems that were small in volume and light in weight, and that ignited the entire micro-miniaturization. The photography that we have today came as a direct spin-off of the space program. Modern miracle medicines—for example, equipment, MRIs, a lot of the digital stuff has come directly out of the space program. The list is so long, you can‘t believe it. And if you want something simple, velcro. Use velcro instead of Tang because Tang really wasn‘t used in the space program.
MATTHEWS: It wasn‘t? That‘s just a myth, huh?
NELSON: It is. They actually have all kinds of good juices up there now.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at the president, the serious note. Here‘s the president on our leadership in space. Let‘s finish up with this, Senator. Here‘s the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite. And in fulfilling this task, we will not only extend humanity‘s reach in space, we will strengthen America‘s leadership here on Earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. You know what Jacqueline Kennedy wanted to have as a memorial to her president when he was killed, besides the eternal flame? She wanted one other thing, Senator. I‘m telling you as I tell everybody. I just dug this up. She wanted to have Jack‘s signature, just his hand—she wanted Bob McNamara, the secretary of defense, just to write Jack‘s name on the next Saturn rocket, the one that was going to beat the Soviets in the next fight, in the next race to space. That‘s all she wanted for her husband who had been killed.
Anyway, your thoughts? Your final thought. We‘re going to be the leader in space, right?
NELSON: It‘s part of our destiny as an American people. We are by nature explorers and adventurers. We‘ve always had a frontier. And that‘s why the people down here were upset, Chris, when they thought the president had canceled the manned program. But I think he showed he has that vision for us to fulfill our destiny of exploring the heavens.
MATTHEWS: OK. It‘s great to have you on. It‘s great to have you on. I mean that, really, Senator Ben Nelson of Florida. Sir, it‘s an honor to have you on tonight.
Coming up, a big tax day tea party protest here in D.C. They‘ve come home, the protesters here on tax day. We‘re going to talk to one of the organizers.
But first, during the break in a one minute, a hypothetical match-up to test President Obama against Republican opponents. Somebody really smart—somebody who‘s really smart has dug this up. We‘re going to have his numbers and how they compare between the president and possible opponents next time.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: I think they don‘t realize that your IQ scores are way above average! We‘re onto them. We‘re onto this gangster government!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, “gangster government.” It‘s tough out there. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann—I think we made her here—at a tea party tax rally in D.C. today. She says they‘re smarter, the tea party folk, and a new poll tells us a lot more about them. It was in “The New York Times” today. We‘re going to talk about it throughout the program tonight. What do they want?
Ryan Hecker is a national coordinator for today‘s Tea Party Patriots.
He helped put together the “Contract From America.” That‘s well written.
And Colin Hanna is the president of Let Freedom Ring.
Let me go right now—let me—both of you gentlemen, look at the latest poll we‘ve just got from “The New York Times.” It asks people in the tea party movement, How do you usually vote? And the numbers are pretty amazing. They almost always vote Republican, according to this. Always Republican 18, usually Republican 48. That comes well into—that‘s about two thirds. And then you got about 5 percent that vote either occasionally or always Democrat. The numbers are overwhelmingly Republican.
What is the difference—let me go to Colin Hanna. What‘s the difference between a Republican and a tea party person? What‘s the difference?
COLIN HANNA, LET FREEDOM RING: A tea party person is really operating from principles, from a constitutional framework, and is perhaps incidentally Republican, Chris, but doesn‘t necessarily subscribe to the party, contribute to the party, wear elephant ties and things like that. But their behavior is similar because they‘re both, I think, rooted in the same set of America‘s founding principles.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Ryan Hecker on that. Ryan, why do you need a separate party if you‘ve got the Republican Party, if your philosophy is the same?
RYAN HECKER, HOUSTON TEA PARTY: I think—I mean, I think, first of all, there are a lot of independents, a very high percentage of independents involved, as well. And I would say that, you know, we represent a limited government group of people that support the Constitution and believe in good governance and transparency, which I think is an overwhelming majority of Americans.
MATTHEWS: But aren‘t you guys with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leadership? What are your problems with them?
HECKER: I mean, I think the problems of the movement as a whole are -
I mean, I—you know, I don‘t think it‘s against any one politician or one elected official. I think it was just a general sense that—that back in October, they were no longer representing necessarily the proxy of what people felt ideologically on the economic conservative front.
MATTHEWS: OK, what are the concerns...
HANNA: Parties, Chris, they‘re primarily winning elections and accumulating power. The tea party is a different kind of party. It‘s about principles.
MATTHEWS: Well, what principle leads your party to have only two fifths, less than a majority of your party people, believe that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.? Three fifths aren‘t willing to say he‘s an American. What is this ethnic thing going on in the tea party movement that three fifths of your people won‘t simply say, Hey, he‘s one of us, he‘s an American. I disagree with him on tax policy, I may disagree with him dramatically on health care, but he‘s one of us? Why do three fifths of your members say, I‘m not willing to say he‘s an American? What‘s the problem? You first, Colin.
HANNA: Well, I don‘t have a problem like that, and I don‘t think most of them do, either. I think the issue...
MATTHEWS: They do!
HANNA: You know, here‘s the...
MATTHEWS: They just polled them.
HANNA: No, no, no. Chris—Chris...
MATTHEWS: They just polled your guys.
HANNA: Listen to me, Chris. The point is that President Obama and those supporters around him have not answered perfectly simple and straightforward questions that would have put this to rest long ago. Where is the proper documentation?
MATTHEWS: OK, OK. You‘re one of the birthers, then. You‘re...
HANNA: No, no! I‘m absolutely not a birther, Chris. But the point is that the supporters of President Obama have failed to answer in clear, simple...
MATTHEWS: What is it you want...
HANNA: ... terms, and it feeds...
MATTHEWS: ... besides—OK...
HANNA: ... it feeds it.
MATTHEWS: OK. This is where we start and this is where it gets crazy with your—a lot of your people. I want to go to Ryan on this. This is where it gets wacky. When you were born, was there an announcement in the newspaper that you were born? I don‘t think there was for me. We weren‘t that prominent. But apparently, they‘ve got a newspaper back in Hawaii when he was born, announcing his birth. There is a document that they make available in Hawaii. You get it from the government. It says you were born there, at what time and at what hospital and all that stuff. What more do you want than a newspaper announcement at the time you‘re born that you were born there? What more documentation would anybody want, Ryan?
HECKER: I personally don‘t—I personally don‘t prescribe (SIC) to the whole birther movement. I think that if you look at the polls, over 48 percent of Americans identify themselves with tea parties, while only 44 percent—or 42 percent with Barack Obama. So I would question that there is a lack of trust there in the American people generally for him. Now, if a certain percentage...
MATTHEWS: Three fifths...
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re—are you one of the birthers? Because three fifths of the tea party people...
HECKER: I‘m (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Three fifths of the tea party are not willing to simply say, OK, he‘s another American like me. So why is that the case, Ryan?
HECKER: I am not a birther.
MATTHEWS: Why are three fifths of your numbers around you...
HECKER: I am not a birther and (INAUDIBLE)
HANNA: Chris, you‘re trying to marginalize a grass roots movement.
HECKER: The thing is, the group is...
MATTHEWS: Marginalize? I think you are marginalized. Why are so many of you birthers?
HANNA: Not I, and I don‘t...
HECKER: I am not a birther, and I don‘t—I don‘t think that this movement is about that. This movement is about economic conservative and big government—big—I‘m sorry—you know, small government conservatism. And so I mean...
HECKER: ... you‘re speaking to a certain percentage in one poll, and I don‘t think that one poll reflects anything.
MATTHEWS: OK, according to “The New York Times,” 24 percent, a significant higher number than the rest of the country, believes that violence is sometimes appropriate when used against our own elected government. I want Ryan to answer when—why would anybody say that it‘s OK to use violence against the government?
RYAN HECKER, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Look, I don‘t believe, in a democracy like this, that we need to engage in violence. I would think that, you know, back during the revolutionary time period, we did engage in violence to overturn a colonial authority.
But I would not say that we should support violence now, by any stretch of the imagination.
MATTHEWS: Do you know anybody in the movement who does?
COLIN HANNA, LET FREEDOM RING: No.
HECKER: No. I know absolutely no one in the movement that would ever say that they support violent action against the government. I‘m sorry. I think that‘s a very extreme position.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk turkey and the economic issues. I know you want it reduce the amount of government in our lives. So, here‘s the question.
The music is pretty loud behind you. Let me go to Colin.
A lot of people are retired benefit because they kicked into it, Social Security and Medicare. They‘re the most expensive programs, alongside interest on the national debt and the federal military. These are expensive programs. They‘re entitlement programs, they‘re called. They‘re forced insurance. You‘re forced to buy—you have to pay a payroll tax when you go to work. Your employer has to pay it. It‘s forced insurance, against the possibility that, when you‘re old, you won‘t have money to provide for yourself and your health care.
Why are people in your movement so against what is called—what they call forced insurance—they call this new health care bill forced insurance—when, under the law, you can go to jail for not paying your payroll tax, not kicking into Social Security and Medicare? And, yet overwhelmingly, according to the “New York Times” poll, Tea Party people believe in Medicare, they believe in Social Security, and they believe that they‘re good deals for the country, they‘re good economics.
So, if you believe in Social Security, you believe in Medicare, why is health care a different kettle of fish?
HANNA: Because it involves the forced or mandated purchase of a consumer product, something that goes far beyond any constitutional power, Chris.
This is not the same as a tax. The mandate is the principal objection, from a constitutional ground, to what‘s been proposed by the Obama administration, what‘s now been passed. And I think that it suffers some real constitutional vulnerability.
But, if the government ran the health care program, instead of having it run through private insurance companies, then it would be just like Medicare and Social Security. It would be a tax that would—which would give you benefits and response.
So, would that be OK, constitutionally, if it was a government program? By your lights, it would be, because Medicare and Social Security are.
MATTHEWS: Those are taxes that you have to pay under the law, and then you get benefits from. So, if this health care plan were a single-payer system, then you would say it would be OK...
MATTHEWS: ... by your logic?
HANNA: I‘m saying that a single—that a single-payer system would avoid that particular constitutional problem.
HANNA: But you add all of these things up together, and you project them out into the future, and you‘re in a situation where you‘re not only going to have federal debt exceeding the annual gross domestic product of the country, but you‘re going to have a federal deficit that is unprecedented.
You‘re going to have federal spending well north of 25 percent of the total GDP.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
HANNA: And those things become simply a bridge too far. They become financially unsustainable, Chris.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a good argument. That‘s a good argument. I like that argument.
HANNA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And were you making that kind of an argument, sir, under President Bush, when he doubled the national debt?
HANNA: Actually, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, we didn‘t hear you.
MATTHEWS: We didn‘t see any protests like today in Washington.
MATTHEWS: You guys...
HANNA: But—but, Chris...
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. Let‘s go to Ryan. You‘re out in the streets there with all these people. Why weren‘t you there when Bush was here, doubling the national debt, not vetoing a single spending bill for eight years, taking us to Iraq?
By the way, I don‘t think a lot of libertarians thought Iraq was a great national enterprise, by the way. I will bet a lot of people behind you think it was the stupidest war we ever fought. But that‘s just my thinking. What do you think? Where were you guys when Bush was here?
HECKER: Well, we were there.
I think what happened was—I mean, it was October 2008, when TARP was passed, that the entire, you know, kind of frustration about—about Republicans rose to a real height.
HECKER: And I think that the—the automobile bailouts, and then the takeover and then the stimulus package really drove us out onto the—you know, out onto the streets in protest.
So, I think that there was a rumbling during—you know, during—I think this is a nonpartisan movement, and there was a rumbling during Bush that really peaked with the stimulus package.
HANNA: Exactly. Chris, but Bush overspent...
MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, I want to ask you one last question, yes or no. If John McCain had won the election in November of 2008, you fellows would be right where you are right now, with the Tea Party just as mad as hell?
You, first, Colin, and then Ryan.
You would be just as mad if McCain had won, continuing the Bush policies?
HANNA: If—if the kind of spending that we have seen in the last year-and-a-half were the case, absolutely.
But I don‘t think that‘s likely to have been the case. What‘s happened, Chris, is that the overspending has accelerated, not simply that it existed back in the Bush years. Of course it did. But then it has gotten worse.
HANNA: So, that‘s where it started. Now it‘s expanded.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, part of the problem, sir—and you know it as well as I do—we all studied Keynesian economics—this president we have now was hit with what could have been a second Great Depression, and he used Keynesian tools to deal with it.
He could have not done that. He could have carried on the normal way, but we might have been in worse shape. That‘s just my argument. But I accept yours. You were very well spoken tonight, both of you.
HANNA: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you for explaining your cause. I think there‘s a lot more crazy thinking in your crowd than you‘re willing to admit. But that‘s based upon the poll data we have tonight.
HANNA: That‘s your wishful thinking, I think, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s the “New York Times” poll. Maybe that‘s the same thing.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ryan Hecker. Thank you, Colin Hanna.
Up next, Jon Stewart uses FOX News‘ own logic against them.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First: FOX News fans the flames. Do you think Barack Obama is a secret Muslim? Catch this expose of his nuclear summit logo, followed by Jon Stewart‘s appreciation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s the same thing that you see on the flags of Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, and Pakistan. And what do they all have in common? They‘re all Muslim nations.
So, his claim is that the president deliberately put this as a logo to try and continue his outreach to Muslim nations in a positive way. So, you be the judge.
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: Yes, you be the judge.
STEWART: We‘re—we‘re just letting you know about some bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing we saw saying this is a coded message to the Muslim world. We‘re just curious citizens wondering, if we put that logo up with four Muslim flags, whether you will have a visceral reaction that our president is perhaps Muslim, while clearly stating our conclusion on our lower-third graphic.
STEWART: Look at the logo there, the FOX logo...
STEWART: ... the diagonal line. Where—where have I seen those before? Go full-frame on that, will you?
Computer, bring up that Nazi propaganda poster Germany used to legitimize its invasion of Poland by claiming that ethnic Germans who lived in the Danzig Corridor should be part of the Deutschland.
Kit (ph), flip the logo. Mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: Oh, my God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He‘s great.
By the way, as Stewart found out when he called up, the White House says the idea for the nuclear summit logo, the actual idea, originates with the Rutherford-Bohr model for the atom. There it is. They got it from the original idea of the atom to have the summit logo for the idea.
Anyway, next, the elephant manager. Last night, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele took a whack at his critics within the GOP. Listen up. It‘s artfully done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I work every day in this job to, as I like to put it, turn the elephant.
Now, I don‘t know if any of you have ever had to turn an elephant. But the end you have to start with is not necessarily the best place to start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Why do I like Steele more than his critics?
Now for the “Number.”
The “New York Times” poll, CBS poll asked Tea Partiers whether they thought the biggest star of their movement, Sarah Palin, would be an effective president, fair question. Forty percent say yes. Only 40 percent of Tea Party said that she would be a—she would—but the bigger number has those who said either no, she wouldn‘t be an effective president, or just wouldn‘t say.
Sixty percent of Tea Party people, three out of five Tea Partiers, 6-0 percent, refused to vouch for Sarah Palin as an effective president. That‘s tonight‘s informative “Big Number.”
And she goes to all the rallies, but maybe they got a problem with her.
Up next: Should the Tea Party movement be more of a concern for Democrats or Republicans? The strategists are coming here to debate it.
With our new Tea Party numbers, we know who you are.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks pushing higher for the sixth straight day in a row. The pair of solid manufacturing reports offset an unexpected jump in jobless claims, the Dow Jones industrials climbing 21 points, the S&P 500 up just a point, and another strong day for the Nasdaq, finishing nearly 11 points higher.
New unemployment claims climbing to 484,000 last week. Analysts had been expecting a drop in new claims. But some robust manufacturing reports helped reassure investors, factory activity in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic both coming in better than expected.
In stocks, Google shares moving sharply lower after-hours on an earnings report posted just after the closing bell. The search engine beat expectations, but investors are worried about rising costs.
Ford climbing more than 3 percent, after reporting a 16 percent jump in European sales, and UPS shares surging more than 5 percent on an improved outlook and a handful of analyst upgrades.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: It is all about this coming November. We have to take the House, then the Senate. And, two years from now, Barack Obama is a one-term president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Republican Congresswoman and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann at today‘s Tea Party rally right here in Washington.
A new poll gives us a lot of new information, concrete information, for the first time about who‘s in the Tea Party, who they are and what they believe. But what will they do in November? That‘s the big question. That‘s what matters to the parties.
And that‘s a question for our strategists. Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist, and Todd Harris is a Republican strategist.
So, let‘s go to this. According to the new “New York Times” poll just out today, Tea Party supporters are—these are big surprises—older, better educated, and more white, I mean as a group, more male, and wealthier than the general population.
Hold those numbers up there, if you can. I want Todd to take a good look at your—your home team here.
MATTHEWS: This—this looks very familiar to you. It looks—would you please tell me, Todd, how this is any different than the Republican Party? What‘s the difference between the E.—I‘m sorry—the T. and the R. Party?
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well...
MATTHEWS: I mean, just call them the R. Party.
HARRIS: There‘s no question that a lot of Tea Party supporters are Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Ninety-some percent, it seems.
HARRIS: No, no, no, no, no.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you know how many are Democrats? Five percent, according to “The Times.”
HARRIS: Thirty percent—according to “The Times,” 30 percent of Tea Party members are self-identified independents, which is exactly why you see the Democratic National Committee today...
MATTHEWS: I wonder who they voted for last time, in 2008. I mean, I wonder who they voted for.
HARRIS: In 2008, they probably voted for Obama. If—if they fit the ideological profile of most independents in ‘08 and ‘06, they probably broke for the Democrats.
HARRIS: And one of the reasons was Democratic...
MATTHEWS: Because every—because every other thing you ask them about, “Is Obama an American?” you know, like—like two in five are willing to say yes. Three out of five won‘t say that. One in five say he shares their values.
HARRIS: They‘re a conservative bunch. They‘re a conservative bunch.
MATTHEWS: Yes, so, you think they voted for Barack Obama not believing he‘s an American? I think that‘s prima facie that they may not have voted for the guy.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It also contradicts...
MATTHEWS: Come on. These guys are pretty far out.
HARRIS: No, no.
HARRIS: The point is, independents in ‘06 and ‘08 overwhelmingly broke for the Democrats. One of the Democratic Party‘s biggest problems this cycle is that they‘re going to lose independents. The Tea Party movement has...
MATTHEWS: I don‘t believe they‘re independents.
MCMAHON: Wow. Wow.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
MCMAHON: These are not people who broke for the Democrats. And they‘re not people—if they don‘t think that Barack Obama was born in America, there‘s not very likely—there‘s not very much chance that they voted for him in 2008.
MCMAHON: Hold on one second, Todd.
There‘s a word for this. It‘s angry white Republican men. They‘re angry white Republican men. This “New York Times” poll proves it. They‘re a bigger problem for—for the Republicans, frankly, than they are for the Democrats, because they were never going to vote for Democrats. These are people who get their news from the FOX News Channel, not from—not from news sources that are unbiased.
They don‘t vote for Democrats. They do primary Republicans, however, who aren‘t sufficiently conservative. And that‘s why it‘s a problem for Todd‘s party.
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to—I want to give it—a couple numbers out here, Todd, and give you plenty of time to respond.
I think most people watching right now will say, I hear you describing a Republican—quote -- 52 percent of these people believe that the government has—and the American people have put too much attention on the problems facing black people over the years. They have given too much attention to the problems of black people, 52.
And then they ask them this. Do you think that Barack Obama has been helping poor people too much? Fifty-six percent think that.
They don‘t sound like independents to me.
MATTHEWS: They sound like Republicans on the commuter train after a couple of drinks. Just a thought.
HARRIS: They‘re older.
HARRIS: And they‘re more white. So, yes, so—so their views about race are going to be different than—than the average younger American. There‘s no question.
But the Tea Party movement is not about race. You look in that same poll, and you say, do you care about social issues? No, they don‘t. They care about spending and they care about the size of government.
And I‘m telling you, if the Democratic party continues to view them as just a bunch of poor, uneducated red necks, they do so at their own peril.
MATTHEWS: They‘re not uneducated. This polling does prove they have
a very high degree—percentage of people with college degrees. They
certainly have a lot of college, if they didn‘t graduate. They certainly -
a big, higher-educated people.
MCMAHON: They‘re not poor. They‘re not uneducated.
MATTHEWS: They‘re better off, too, by the way. What do we call them?
Hicks, whatever? They‘re not poor people. They‘re well off.
HARRIS: They‘re educated. They‘re affluent. And they vote, which is why the Democratic party has a big problem.
MATTHEWS: But you‘re still calling them independents.
MCMAHON: They‘re not poor. They‘re not uneducated. But they clearly, from those numbers, are racially less tolerant than the rest of America. They vote for Republicans. They get their news from the Fox News Channel. That‘s why they‘re a problem for Republicans, because they either stay home or they go out there and they primary Republicans, like they‘re doing in states like Colorado.
And in Nevada, Harry Reid is very happy that there‘s a Tea Party candidate who is challenging the Republican party.
MATTHEWS: I‘m going to put you on the skillet here. A Democratic source says there‘s a Democratic party set of talking points out there, quote—here‘s how they go. You may have heard these. You may have written them. “Democrats understand and respect the anger of the American people towards policies of the past decade that favored Wall Street, big banks and the well-to-do over American families.”
Somebody is trying to ride the Tea Party horse here.
MCMAHON: Everybody is trying to ride the Tea Party horse.
MATTHEWS: Defend yourself. You‘re knocking these guys as a bunch of racists.
MCMAHON: They‘re well-educated, angry, very affluent people, who are tired of the way Republicans spend, and they threw a lot of Republicans out, and they‘re going to continue to. And frankly, they‘re not any happier with the Democrats, which is why I think they either stay home or they create further problems for the Republicans by challenging them in the primaries.
Everybody is trying to ride this horse, Chris, because everybody understands that Barack Obama and a lot of Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 because a lot of Americans were angry with the policies of George Bush that favored the wealthy, that favored the big banks. These Tea Party people are no different in that respect.
But in many other respects, they are different. They don‘t think, many of them, that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. They think he‘s too African-American, that he‘s favoring blacks. In that sense, they‘re not like independents. They‘re just like angry white Republican men. It‘s why it‘s Todd‘s problem, not mine.
HARRIS: Like I said, the issues of the Tea Party is—is passionate about have nothing to do with race. By and large, they have nothing to do with social issues. This is one of the first times since I‘ve been involved in politics that I‘ve seen the energy on the right surrounding fiscal issues, related to the budget, related to taxes, related to spending.
Normally, Republicans are fighting with about things like abortion and social issues. The passion and energy on the right is related to fiscal issues. That is what is fueling—
MATTHEWS: Todd, you‘re a good guy. Would you stand in a rally where there are people surrounding you with placards showing that Barack Obama—playing around with his racial features, making him look like a Nazi. Would you participate in a rally where you looked around and saw those signs around you?
MATTHEWS: Why would people you call independents do that, unless they‘re on the right? Why wouldn‘t they pull the signs down themselves, and say, that‘s un-American, buddy. I don‘t like big taxes or big government any more than you do, but that sign of yours is anti-American? Why don‘t they do that? I‘ve never seen anybody pull anybody‘s sign down.
HARRIS: I don‘t know why they don‘t do that. Let‘s get some of them on the show and let them duke it out. But what I‘m telling you is this a real force in politics this election cycle. And if the Democratic party continues to write them all off as a bunch of racist red necks—
MCMAHON: Todd, they‘re not. They‘re not. but hold on, because you say it has nothing to do with race and it‘s not about social issues. The two biggest spending programs in the country, Social Security and Medicare, are not programs that these people want to see scaled back. But you have to admit, when you look at these numbers, that they think Barack Obama is too African-American; he‘s favoring the African-Americans over the white people; he‘s favoring poor people over middle-class people.
They believe that. So there‘s a racial element here, whether or not you want to acknowledge it. I will say this, Todd would never go to one of these rallies. What the hell is Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin doing there? John Boehner didn‘t go. Mitch McConnell didn‘t go. Michael Steele didn‘t go. The leaders of the Republican—yesterday in Massachusetts, Mike Brown didn‘t go, the Republican candidate for governor didn‘t go. Who are these people—
MATTHEWS: You lay on a heavy hand.
MCMAHON: I‘m just pointing out the facts.
HARRIS: Final point, you take any group of older—older, more affluent white voters and start asking them about race, it‘s going to skew differently than the public at large.
HARRIS: Todd, come to Omaha with me sometime.
MATTHEWS: I love the way you say it‘s a demographic reality.
HARRIS: It is a demographic reality. You‘re trying to say that racism is a Republican thing.
MCMAHON: It is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Up next, I‘m going to ask outgoing Service Employees International Employees Union President Andy Stern about his union forming a third party down in North Carolina to punish the three U.S. Congress-people who voted against health care.
But, first, in one minute, you won‘t believe who pledged to archive all the world‘s Tweets. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The Library of Congress announced today that it will archive all the world‘s Tweets, thanks to a partnership with Twitter. Any public Tweet will be made available to the library after six months. Library officials explain the agreement as another step of the library‘s embrace of the digital media. The library already archives more than 167 terabytes—imagine how many that is—of web-based information, including websites and candidates for national office and website of members of congress. Everything you ever do, say or Tweet is now headed to the National Gallery—Library of Congress. Do you believe it? We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. One of President Obama‘s staunchest union allies, the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, is behind a third-party movement in North Carolina that would field candidates to challenge three House Democrats who voted against health care reform. So why would the SEIU, friend of the progressives, go after Democrats and perhaps threaten their hold on power?
Andy Stern is the outgoing—I‘m not sure that captures his personality entirely—outgoing president of the SEIU, announced his resignation this week. You‘re leaving the labor movement. You‘re one of the fire brands, one of the ram rods. Why do you—why do you use punishment as the hard emotion of the labor movement? Punishing people, running primary opponents against people, running third-party movements; you‘re going to end up splintering the Democratic party and John Boehner‘s going to be the next speaker. Isn‘t he?
ANDY STERN, PRESIDENT, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION: I don‘t think he will be. I think there is an issue of accountability here. Our members like to say, we‘re tired of politicians that are after our vote the day before the election—
MATTHEWS: Did these three guys promise anything to the SEIU?
STERN: Larry Kissell told us when he ran for office—he lost his
first time. He came back again. We asked him specifically, do the workers
tomorrow, I‘m going to be arrested at the headquarters of a global corporation called Sedesco (ph), pays its workers eight dollars an hour. They have workers in North Carolina, Larry Kissell‘s district. They have no health care.
We asked Larry Kissell, if there is a bill for health care under Barack Obama, will you vote for it? And he says yes. And then he turns his back on these workers? Our workers, if they don‘t live up to the responsibility of their job, the lose it. It‘s time Larry Kissell thinks about his job.
MATTHEWS: What about the Democratic party loses? The leadership loses all the committee chairs because they‘re three short this November night. Election night, you watch television. You‘ll be watching. And instead of getting 218, she has 215, because, you, Andy Stern, robbed her of three Democrats in North Carolina. Will you be a hero? Will you be a hero then? You‘ll be accountable?
STERN: To our members who say that we aren‘t about Democrats or Republicans. We‘re not about what‘s left or right. We‘re about what‘s right or wrong for people that work. Yes, Larry Kissell had to think about did he care that Nancy Pelosi may lose her seat because he broke his word? Our members are just saying, hold him accountable. If the ramifications are that somehow that one vote, we‘re going to say, ended the Democratic majority --
MATTHEWS: It could.
STERN: Anything could. Does that mean you‘re just blind loyalists to a political party that don‘t live up to the interests of workers? Our members say no.
MATTHEWS: Realism for a second. You in a right to work—I was lucky to go to Chapel Hill for a year. It‘s a right to work state. Arkansas is a right to work state. You have a primary opponent down there against Blanche Lincoln, probably pushing for EFCA, all your issues. Fine, that‘s good, a good pro labor candidate.
Can a pro labor, out-and-out progressive, win in states like North Carolina and Arkansas? Can they actually win or are you just defeating the Democrat?
STERN: I think a candidate that‘s pro American and pro work and pro health care and pro jobs and pro sharing in the wealth, yes, they can win in any state in America.
MATTHEWS: Look what happened to Max Cleland in Georgia for voting with labor.
STERN: Max Cleland got attacked viciously—
MATTHEWS: By voting with you guys.
STERN: If it wasn‘t labor, it would have been something else. They tried to make him weak on defense. Of all the people in the world to be weak on defense. The defense was not, did I vote yes or no—
MATTHEWS: But there is an anti-labor mood in that part of the country. There is.
STERN: Absolutely. We did not ask Larry Kissell to stand up for labor, which we might have. But we asked him to stand up for health care. He promised to do it. You shouldn‘t give your word and break it. That‘s not America either.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about you. Here‘s where I‘m going to take your side and shine you up. I look at a country that scares me. I‘m not a Marxist. But there‘s a certain thing about the labor theory of value I like. You work, you ought to get paid for it. The person who invents something ought to get paid for it. The guy or woman who starts a company ought to get the entrepreneurial advantage of that. Right?
MATTHEWS: Somebody comes along today, takes your company, buys it from you, chops it up, sells it in pieces, that person is making a fortune. The young kids coming out of the best schools in America today all want to do that for a living. They want to be part of the chop shop world. They want to be like the guy on Wall Street. Right?
MATTHEWS: What happened to America? These guys are making four billion dollars a year as hedge fund managers and nobody can figure out what they do. Whereas, the little guy starting a business—I don‘t care if it‘s a bakery a or movie studio, you don‘t see them making any money anymore. The money is going to the guy who is chopping and chopping.
What about that? You‘re a big labor. You‘re a big thinker. Are we ever going to get the money to go to the person who starts the business and works 60 hours a week and sweats it out, comes home at midnight exhausted? Is that guy or woman ever going to get their money again?
STERN: Let‘s hope so, because, if not, we‘ve lost America as we knew it, because what made it great—you came from Pennsylvania. I‘ve been there, too, Chris. People worked hard, whether in the steel mill or --
MATTHEWS: I know you fight this fight. When are we ever going to win it?
STERN: I think we‘re going to win it pretty soon because I think there‘s no more money left in America except when people --
MATTHEWS: Are you backing Barney and Chris Dodd in their efforts?
STERN: Absolutely. But more importantly, we‘re out there trying to hold Wal-Mart accountable, these big corporations like Sedesco, private equity. Somebody better hold them accountable.
MATTHEWS: I always end up liking you. Andy Stern, congratulations to the labor movement.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the new Tea Party poll. I love this poll, filled with inconsistencies, my favorite polls. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that “New York Times” poll on the Tea Party. Tea Party folk are mainly Republican. That‘s no surprise. Two-thirds say they vote that way usually or always. Only fiver percent for the Democrats.
But they‘re hardly establishment type Republicans. Only one in 20 of the Tea Party people says he admires Mitt Romney, the most mentioned Republican candidate for 2012. Their big dislike is government itself. That‘s a huge unifying for theme. They just don‘t like government, especially the U.S. Congress, which they hold primarily responsible for all the federal deficits.
The other thing that unifies Tea Party people is their near unanimous belief that our country is headed in the wrong direction. Well, and they certainly don‘t like President Obama. Is it racial? Well, it‘s probably interesting that a majority of Tea Party people think we‘ve given too much attention over the years to the problems of black people. Only one in five Tea Party people says the president shares American values. One in five.
Oh, yes, only two in five Tea Party people are ready to say that Obama is even an American. There‘s a lot of birthers at those Tea Parties, no matter what they say.
What‘s interesting is that by two to one, they like Social Security and Medicare, two to one. They like the country‘s largest entitlement programs. That‘s peculiar because the Tea Party people are quick to say they don‘t like government making people buy insurance. That‘s exactly what Social Security and Medicare are, forced government insurance. You‘re required by law to insure yourself against being out of money in your retirement, unable to pay your medical bills, for example. That‘s what Social Security and Medicare are, legally enforced insurance that you can be self-reliant in your retirement.
So, what else? Two-thirds don‘t think global warms is a serious problem. That‘s among the Tea Party people. And about the same don‘t think Glenn Beck is a serious problem. In fact, they like him. Four out of five Tea Party people see illegal immigration as a very serious problem. But, then again, four out of five people across the country think it‘s a serious problem.
Here‘s an interesting factoid: two-thirds of Tea Party people like Sarah Palin. They‘re favorable towards her, two-thirds. But most Tea Party people aren‘t ready to say they think she has the ability to be president. That‘s very interesting.
Some of the Tea Party people support loosening up on gun controls, but two-thirds have no problem with store owners telling people they can‘t walk into their stores openly carrying a gun. No, they‘re not crazy.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us. Catch us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now, it‘s for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Watch Hardball each weeknight