Guest: Clarence Page, Pat Buchanan, Steve McMahon, Kendrick Meek, Clarence Dupnik, Maria Teresa Kumar
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Charlie‘s angle.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. Leading off
tonight: Crist watch. In a few minutes, Charlie Crist, the governor of
Florida, is expected to make it official he‘s out of the Republican Senate
primary in Florida and will run as an independent. Crist is just the
latest victim of the Republican Party‘s purge of moderates. Crist‘s move
may have thrown a lifeline, ironically, to Democrat Kendrick Meek, who
would have been a huge underdog in a two-man race. Meek joins us at the
top of the show tonight.
Plus, the story they‘re calling “bigot-gate,” the gaffe heard ‘round
the world. It‘s when Britain‘s prime minister, Gordon Brown, referred to a
voter he‘d just met as a bigot while wearing a live microphone. It
reminded us of columnist Michael Kinsley‘s famous statement that a gaffe in
politics is when a politician says what he really thinks. We‘ll take a
look back at some of the great truth-telling moments in politics.
Also: Hit them where it hurts, the pocketbook. The voices calling for
a boycott of the state of Arizona because of its tough new immigration law
are growing louder by the minute. We‘ll see what effect that has on the
And talk about hitting them where it hurts, Republicans are hungrily
going after those three vulnerable Senate prized seats, Barack Obama‘s old
Senate seat in Illinois, Joe Biden‘s old seat in Delaware, and majority
leader Harry Reid‘s Senate seat out in Nevada, a possible in-your-face
trifecta for the Republican Party this year.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the importance of getting involved.
Sometimes we‘re talking life and death.
We start with the news out of Florida about Governor Charlie Crist.
Florida Democratic congressman Kendrick Meek is a senatorial candidate.
Well, guess politics can be surprising. There are a lot of twists and
turns, Congressman. Are you surprised that you may be involved in what
looks to be a very tight now three-way race for the United States Senate?
REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D-FL), SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, we feel very good
about the position that we‘re in today, and we‘re going to feel just as
good tomorrow. I think that the move that the governor is making is for
his own political survival and not necessarily for the people of the state
of Florida, and people will see through that.
In the final analysis, I look at it from the standpoint that I‘m
running against two Republicans for the United States Senate, and I‘m the
only Democrat in the race or will be the only Democrat in the race come
MATTHEWS: Do you know that? Do you know that Charlie Crist is going
to line up with the Senate Republican leadership, that he‘ll vote for Mitch
McConnell for leader?
MEEK: I don‘t know. I don‘t even know if...
MATTHEWS: You called him a Republican. How do you know he‘s going to
be a Republican in the Senate or be an independent who sits on the
Republican side and votes with them on the big issues? How do you know
MEEK: Well, what I do know is that the governor has put indications
out earlier today that he‘s going to move to the independent side. What I
know right now is that his picture hangs at the Republican Party in
Florida, that he‘s the head of the Republican Party because he‘s a
Republican governor. And now he has a press—he‘s going to have a press
conference saying that he‘s an independent. That‘s in his own mind.
There are still issues that he has taken positions on that are in line
with Speaker Rubio, and it‘s going to be very hard for him to now say,
Well, you know, I‘ve changed my mind now, I feel differently about it.
MEEK: And I‘ve been consistent through this campaign. I believe that
it will be a plus-up. We qualified by signature. It was the first time in
history in a state that we‘ve done it. Because we‘ve started with a grass
roots campaign, I think it‘s going to help us in the coming months.
MATTHEWS: Well, he may have hoisted himself on his own petard. Here
he is in a Web video the Rubio campaign has put out. It shows Crist‘s
appearance just a month ago on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. Let‘s
That failed us. That‘s the video. I‘m going to tell—basically,
it‘s—for purposes of this interview, it‘s Charlie Crist telling Chris
Wallace that he will run as a Republican. And Chris asks him a number of
times, and he stuck to it. So this is a month-old tape, but it‘s certainly
fresh in your mind. You say he‘s still a Republican.
MEEK: Still a Republican. The governor is known for flip-flopping on
issues. Remember, just a few minutes ago, he wasn‘t sure—and I was
watching your show—he wasn‘t sure if he supported the stimulus or not,
and now he‘s saying, Well, I don‘t know about—I have deep concerns about
offshore oil drilling. Just a few moments ago, he was for offshore oil
drilling. So he has been inconsistent as it relates to his leadership.
We feel that we have been solid with—with the people of the state
of Florida. I feel that we have tracked all 67 counties. I‘m a Floridian.
I look forward to representing all of the state of Florida. I believe that
there‘s a hard base of good will voters that are there, that are willing to
elect me to be their next United States senator.
We were doing good watching both Crist and Rubio fight each other
through the primary process. We feel that that will continue to happen up
until November. And we‘re just going to continue to work hard, Chris. I
mean, I am not a candidate from central casting when you look at this kind
of a race, a statewide race, and I think that‘s going to be benefit to me
and my campaign.
MATTHEWS: What‘s that mean? What‘s that mean? I guess I don‘t know
what you mean by that.
MEEK: Well, what I mean is that you‘re not—I‘m not your typical
candidate. I represent a district in Dade and Broward County. I used to
be a former state trooper. I used to be a sky cap. And now I‘m running
for the United States Senate. I think it works well in a service state,
and I look forward to talking about my life experience but also talking
about how I‘ve stood up for everyday people in the state. And I know that
that‘s been a benefit for us and will continue to be a benefit for us. And
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at you. Let‘s take a look at you. Let‘s
take a look at you. You‘re talking about where you stand in this race.
Let‘s take a look at the polling. Now, these are an average of all the
polls that have been out there. It shows you in a tough situation.
According to the average of polls—and I‘m sure you‘ve looked at them—
you‘re running about a quarter of the vote, about 23 percent.
For a major-party candidate—look at the registration down there in
Florida. There‘s 4.7 million Democrats in the state of Florida and 4.1
million Republicans. And yet you‘re running—that‘s highly an advantage
for any Democrat. And now you‘re running against two Republicans and
you‘re still only running 23 percent. That‘s a pretty—well, it‘s a weak
performance so far. What are you going to do to change the situation to
get it back up to where you ought to be as a major party candidate?
MEEK: Well, Chris, what we know is that Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio
have spent tens of thousands—hundreds of thousands of dollars on
television in Florida. We haven‘t even ran a 15-second ad yet. We‘ve gone
out, we‘ve talked to Floridians. We feel we start to not only ratchet up
our campaign. We‘re keeping our powder dry. This is the end of April, the
beginning of May. Election day, August, November, we‘ll be where we need
to be. And we know that we start to reach out, the support that we‘re
going to be building up, the announcements that will be made in the next 72
hours are going to be helpful to our numbers.
And we feel that we‘re in a race for several months. I‘m excited.
I‘m very excited about our future in Florida, and I believe that we will be
at the top of the ramp (ph).
MATTHEWS: Well, you may—Congressman, you may have gotten a big
break today with the Republican vote split between Charlie Crist, the
independent now it looks like, getting a lot of Republican support, and of
course, Marco Rubio, who looks like he‘s headed toward the nomination of
the Republican Party. Good luck in the race, Congressman.
MEEK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thanks for joining us on HARDBALL. Come back again.
MEEK: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s turn now to “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman. He‘s an
MSNBC political analyst, and the best, I think. Howard, this thing is so
fascinating. He wasn‘t willing—the congressman there, the Democrat,
wasn‘t willing to push Charlie Crist, but it seems to me—you and I know
how it works in the Senate. You got to choose sides. You got to sign up
with one party or the other, or you don‘t get any committee assignments.
So isn‘t—isn‘t Charlie Crist sort of stuck now, having to admit at some
point in the next couple of days, Damn it, I‘m a Republican, because I‘m
going to sign up with them when I get down—when I get up there?
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t think
necessarily. I think what Crist‘s candidacy now is going to test is the
proposition of whether there is a middle left in American politics. I
mean, we‘re in an era, Chris, where studies have shown that the Congress is
as divided in partisan terms since any time since after the Civil War,
really. You know, we‘ve got the sort of taffy-pull to the left and to the
right. If Crist plays it right, he‘s going to say, you know, I will do
what‘s in the best interests of Florida when I get there. And by the
MATTHEWS: Pot luck? I mean, is he going to tell them, I‘m going to
keep it secret whether I‘m going to vote for the Republican leader or the
Democrat leader to organize the Congress?
FINEMAN: Well, I don‘t know. He may not. I think if he has to
choose—and you may be right, he has to—I think he says—I think
he‘s more likely to say Democrat than Republican. I mean, what‘s happened
FINEMAN: Well, what‘s happened in the last month is that his numbers
have improved—his job approval rating has improved, according to the
Rasmussen poll. It‘s up 11 or 12 percent in the last month to 56 percent
job approval, which is pretty darn good for any incumbent politician in
America. And it‘s happened because he‘s kind of moved to the left because
he vetoed that education bill...
FINEMAN: ... that the teachers unions didn‘t like. He‘s getting
about a third of the support of Democrats, as I read the polls. He‘s got
significant traction among the Democrats, although...
MATTHEWS: Is this a slow walk to Specter-dom? Is he doing what
Arlen‘s doing, only a little slower, more at a Floridian pace?
FINEMAN: Yes, that—you know, that‘s—that‘s a good possibility,
the sort of “walking Lawton,” if you remember Lawton Chiles...
FINEMAN: ... to a moderate, you know, sort of conservative Democratic
view. I think that‘s quite possible. It depends on whether Kendrick Meek,
who was really, you know, smiling justifiably when he—when you started
the show there—whether he can take advantage of the way that
everything‘s been scrambled by this announcement. It very much is up to
Meek to gain traction in the polls over the next, you know, couple of
FINEMAN: ... or month or so. If he doesn‘t, then the soft area, the
room for Crist to go, is to the left and not to the right.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that‘s so smart. I mean, I‘m just in
political terms, crass terms, if you will. If Charlie Crist says, I‘m
probably going to line up with the Democrats as an independent—sort of
the way that Joe Lieberman, who‘s probably got some popularity down in
Florida—if he says it like this, I‘m going to be my own man, my own
Floridian man, but I‘m going to vote with the Democrats for leadership
issues because I think it‘s smarter for our state—of course, it‘s
smarter for him, too.
Is there a pattern here he can run against and say, like Specter did -
Specter appealed to the voters of Pennsylvania, I think, pretty
effectively by saying, I didn‘t leave the Republican Party, it went to the
right of me. I was center-right, it went far right. There is a pattern—
look, Bob Bennett out in Utah—he‘s certainly no liberal, certainly no
moderate—he may not get renominated. John McCain is fighting hard to
get renominated. And Kay Bailey Hutchison couldn‘t win the governorship.
And Grayson, who‘s the establishment candidate in Kentucky—just to
finish the field here—it looks like he‘s the underdog.
So you could argue, couldn‘t you, if you‘re Charlie Crist, We moderate
Republicans, we Midwesterners who moved down to Winter Park, we live down
there on the Gulf coast, we moderates, we‘re regular people, we‘re not far-
right crazies—we‘re getting run out of our party.
FINEMAN: Yes, I think that‘s what he‘s going to try to do. And
Rubio‘s challenge is to win in a three-way race, you know, which at least
on the surface, appears, you know, to be easier. But again, it depends on
whether Meek can make up the difference and really become a major player.
If he doesn‘t, then all the room for Crist is to the left, to the
Don‘t forget, there are a lot of independents there, also. Those
people listed as “other” in your chart are 2.5 million.
FINEMAN: And there are three states in Florida, three states within a
state—you know, the south, the Miami area, the north, which is more, you
know, southern in national political terms, and then the battleground once
again is going to be the I-4 corridor, central Florida, you know, from
Tampa all the way over to Daytona Beach. That‘s Charlie Crist‘s home
territory. That‘s where the Midwesterners are. That‘s where the moderates
FINEMAN: That‘s where he‘s got to take his stand, if he‘s going to
pull this thing off.
MATTHEWS: Well, Howard, as always, you smartened me up. You make me
smarter. Thank you. No, really. I didn‘t know he might go Democrat. We
don‘t know for sure, but that does look like the smart move at this point
for Charlie Crist, fighting for his life down there. Thank you, Howard
Fineman, as always.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: More calls for a boycott, an economic boycott
that counts, against Arizona. They‘re even going after the Arizona drinks,
the iced teas and stuff. They aren‘t even made out there. What‘s next,
the University of Phoenix? They‘re going to for anything associated with
the state. How‘s this going to affect Arizona.
But first, during the commercials: Misperceptions about President
Obama‘s tax policies are getting worse, believe it or not. We‘re going to
show you how, how everybody‘s getting it wrong.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, time for a lesson in getting your facts straight.
Misperceptions about President Obama‘s tax policies are getting worse. The
latest “New York Times”/CBS poll shows that 34 percent of the general
public and 64 percent of tea partiers think taxes have gone up under
President Obama. In fact, 95 percent of working families have received a
tax cut. Pollster.com says the numbers are the result of misleading
rhetoric combined with people‘s biases.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Pressure continues to mount
against Arizona‘s new immigration law and calls to boycott the state are
growing. The city of San Francisco and now the Denver public school
district have banned all official travel to Arizona. The National
Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders is seeking an injunction
against the law out there. And the Justice Department, the U.S. Justice
Department, is weighing whether to mount a legal challenge to Arizona. And
immigrants‘ rights groups around the country took to the steps of the
Arizona capitol today to announce that they plan to sue the state.
Well, can Arizona continue to withstand the heat they‘re getting?
Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik says he doesn‘t want to enforce the new
law. And Maria Teresa Kumar is the founding director of Voto Latino.
I want to start with the law enforcement official. Sheriff, this law,
can you—can you tell me what you mean? Are you really not going to
enforce this law? What does that actually mean out in the streets when
this law goes into effect in 90 days?
CLARENCE DUPNIK, SHERIFF, PIMA COUNTY, AZ: I will enforce it if I‘m
ordered to do so, or if the county attorney tells me that I have no choice.
But let me—the listeners don‘t understand what‘s going on with reference
to this law. We don‘t need this law, is one of the reasons that I don‘t
want to enforce it. We enforce the federal immigration laws now. We in
the Pima County Sheriff‘s Department, Tucson, Arizona, arrest more illegal
aliens than any other state or local agency in this state, but we turn them
over to the border patrol.
Why would I arrest them under a state law, put them in the Pima County
jail and force an overwhelming problem for the rest of the criminal justice
system and then send the local taxpayers a huge tax bill, when it‘s just
totally ridiculous and unnecessary?
MATTHEWS: OK, why did the—why did the voters seem to want it out
DUPNIK: Because I don‘t think they understand that we don‘t need the
law. I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, they obviously see—they obviously see so many
illegal people in the state of Arizona, it‘s gotten to them. They don‘t
feel the government‘s doing its job of protecting the border, or they
wouldn‘t be so angry and so moving to the right on this issue, would they?
DUPNIK: I think that the federal government and state and local
agencies in this state do as best they can to deal with the border problem
and the problem of illegal immigration. That‘s not the issue.
Another part of this law—and I‘ve never heard this in any other law
since I‘ve been—I‘ve been a police officer in this state for 52 years.
I‘ve been the sheriff for 30 years, and I‘ve never seen a law where it
says, If a citizen in this state—and I‘m quoting exactly—if a citizen
in this state does not believe that we are enforcing this law as they feel
we should, they can sue us.
So now we‘re in the “damned if we do and damned if we don‘t” position.
The legislature put this in the law so the citizens could sue us if they
didn‘t think we were enforcing the law properly.
DUPNIK: So now we‘re damned if we do and damned if we don‘t because
we get sued by people who feel that we‘re profiling, and now we‘re going to
get sued by people who feel we‘re not profiling enough.
MATTHEWS: I hear it coming. Anyway, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you
for coming on the show, first time since his law was passed out there.
What‘s going to happen in politics around the country in terms of activism
after this happens?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Thanks for having me on again,
Chris. First of all, what—we‘re starting already to see the trickle
effects. The ACLU today went in and challenged the law on the Arizona
level. We‘re also looking at the Obama administration, who‘s also looking
at sending Eric Holder to see if it actually holds muster for the
But then we‘re also seeing civil rights groups, student groups, folks
organizing on FaceBook, going after businesses at the very local level who
conduct business. The most egregious one I‘ve seen so far that actually
seems to be catching on is boycotting the Diamondbacks. And they first
went to Denver and they were boycotted there. Then they‘re going to San
Francisco and Chicago. And one of the primary reasons is because the owner
of the Diamondbacks, Ken Kendrick, he‘s one of the largest financers of the
Republican Party in the state of Arizona.
So, folks are saying, I may not be from Arizona, but I do believe that
the law is unconstitutional. We‘re marginalizing two million Americans who
happen to be Hispanic living in Arizona. And we‘re also creating,
unfortunately, a distrust of the police system.
And, more than anything, what the police need is partners within their
community. And Latinos, unfortunately, they‘re not going to come out of
the shadows, even if they do witness crime, regardless of their status.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. I know
you‘re concerned about the community out there. You care about it. You‘re
part of it.
Let‘s talk about it in human, real-day terms. You‘re Hispanic. You
have a certain complexion. You have a certain accent, perhaps. And you‘re
legal in this country. You‘re totally legal. You‘re here maybe a couple
of generations, in fact.
MATTHEWS: Why does that law bother you, except in terms of your
attitudes and feelings about your community? Does it affect you in your
daily life, really? Would a police officer really stop somebody that has
been here for a couple generations or a person who is legally documented to
work here? Would that person really face harassment? Do you really
believe that will happen?
KUMAR: I absolutely do. I can tell you that from right now. First
of all, I‘m first-generation.
But my grandmother, who has been here for close to 25 years, she
barely speaks Spanish, but she‘s—excuse me—she barely speaks English,
but she‘s an American citizen.
MATTHEWS: Well, will she be bothered by police? Does she think the
police willing bother her? What happens if she just shows her documents
and say, thank you, officer, have a nice day? What difference does it
KUMAR: Well, that‘s the biggest problem, Chris, is that this actually
requires that you carry your birth certificate.
And, for my grandmother, who has an accent, and she walks around with
her I.D., because she doesn‘t drive, that isn‘t enough to demonstrate that
she‘s not undocumented. And I think the sheriff pointed out even better is
that all of a sudden we‘re giving everyday citizens the opportunity to be
vigilantes and make sure that the cops are doing their job.
We don‘t know what someone looks like if they‘re undocumented. That‘s
the shocking part.
KUMAR: But I do think that this puts the Republican Party in a very
difficult position for the midterm elections, primarily because you see a
swing state of Arizona where 17 percent of the voting population is
Hispanic. And nothing is going to polarize them more than this anti-
MATTHEWS: OK. I‘m asking everybody this. I‘m going to ask you. Do
you personally support this bill that‘s been put together by Lieberman and
by Lindsey Graham and by John Kerry that says basically there will be a
road to legalization, to naturalization for people who have been here
illegally, that there will be some opportunity to come in here as guest
workers, and there will be other reforms made along the border, but there
will also be an I.D. card that‘s checkable from now on for employers?
So, an employer, henceforth, if this law is passed, won‘t be able to
say, I didn‘t know the person was here illegally. Would you support
comprehensive reform, not just legalization, but the whole deal?
KUMAR: No, I think we need comprehensive—we need comprehensive
immigration reform. There‘s no question in my mind that our borders are
The fact that we‘re talking about human trafficking, narcotics, all of
that, we need—and we need to secure our borders. And the fact that we
have 10 million undocumented folks, five million of them who are children,
we have to get them out of the shadows. And these are...
KUMAR: We‘re talking about families who are...
MATTHEWS: I‘m with you. I‘m with you. I‘m with you.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just trying to find a compromise on this show where
people who want human rights for people who have been living here and their
children especially who have been educated here at the same time recognize
that every country has a right to decide who comes into it.
I‘m sorry. Every country in the world has that right. They should do
it fairly and progressively, I argue. But they have the right. It‘s the
question of how they do it. And I think this California—this Arizona
law is causing a lot of trouble. Maybe it will shake people into some
reasonable solution. But I haven‘t seen it yet. Everybody is just going
to the barricades on this. And it looks like nobody is getting anything
Anyway, thank you, as always, Maria Teresa.
And, thank you, Chief Dupnik.
KUMAR: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Who told former President Bill Clinton to lose
weight? It‘s in the family. I love this stuff. I think I have heard it
myself. It‘s in the—I mean about me. It‘s in the “Sideshow,” coming up
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the “Sideshow.”
Earlier, we brought you news of the boycotts over Arizona‘s tough
immigration law. It turns out there‘s also an Internet campaign against
the popular drink AriZona Iced Tea. Well, the hitch is AriZona Iced Tea
isn‘t based in Arizona. It‘s based in New York. Yesterday, the company
posted on its Web site a note explaining its origins and location, making
it clear that AriZona Iced Tea is in fact an American company. Tough break
on that name, I guess.
Anyway, speaking of the Arizona law, once and perhaps future
presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was asked to comment by “The Dallas
Morning News.” He wouldn‘t say whether he agreed or disagreed with the
Arizona immigration law. But see if you can read into what Huckabee did
say—quote—this is Huckabee—“America is a lot like Disney World, in
that, once you get a ticket, you‘re in, and you don‘t have to keep showing
your ticket to keep riding the rides. That‘s the whole point of liberty.”
Well, actually, when it comes to getting people to stand in line and
wait their turn, Disney World is a lot better organized than this
On a lighter note, yesterday, Bill Clinton was at a Washington
financial forum when he talked about his next role, his big role, father of
the bride. Actually, the former president has some shaping up to do
apparently before he walks Chelsea up the aisle. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She doesn‘t
think I‘m in shape to handle it. You know, you‘ve got to walk—she told
me the other day, she said, dad, the only thing you have got to do is walk
me down the aisle, and you need to look good.
CLINTON: So, I said, well, what‘s your definition? And she said, oh,
about 15 pounds.
CLINTON: So, I‘m halfway home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, Bill.
Fifteen pounds. I wish the bride‘s father well, because I have tried
to lose 15 before. Chelsea is expected, by the way, to get married this
summer out in the Clintons‘ favorite vacation spot, Martha‘s Vineyard.
Now for the “Big Number.” Tonight, we have actually got two of them.
So, catch this. The 111th Congress—that‘s the one right now—
which took office this past January, is the oldest Congress in—oldest
people in it, meaning. The average age of the lawmakers, well, according
to the “Hill” newspaper—here it is—guess now—guess -- 63, average
age for the U.S. senators. Average age for members of the House of
Representatives, 57, the oldest Congress ever.
It doesn‘t seem all that old to me. Anyway, average ages, it‘s
interesting, isn‘t it, 63 for senators—they seem older than that—and
57 for members of the House of Representatives—tonight‘s big numbers.
Up next: Following Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s gaffe the other day,
we‘re going to look back at some truth-telling moments. Gaffes are
inevitable when the politicians says what he or she really thinks.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
A triple-digit rally for the Dow, as fears eased about a European debt
crisis. The Dow Jones industrials soaring 122 points, the S&P 500 adding
15 points, and the Nasdaq surging a little bit more than 40 points.
Expectations that the E.U. and IMF will wrap up bailout negotiations
this weekend taking the edge off fears that Europe‘s debt crisis—
Greece‘s debt crisis, could spread through Europe. Meanwhile, jobless
claims falling by 11,000 last week. It‘s an encouraging sign, but the
decline was not as big as expected.
Smartphone-maker Palm shares soaring more than 26 percent on news that
it‘s being acquired by Hewlett-Packard.
And drugmaker Dendreon surging 27 percent after the FDA approved its
new prostate cancer treatment vaccine.
Health insurers doing well across the board on strong earnings reports
from Aetna, WellPoint, and UnitedHealth, but BP shares tumbling more than 8
percent as that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, here‘s a moment of schadenfreude for you, you know, that German
word for joy through others‘ tragedy? Britain‘s Prime Minister Gordon
Brown, campaigning for reelection, was caught unaware on a hot mike.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILLIAN DUFFY, VOTER: ... don‘t say anything about the immigrants
because you‘re saying that you‘re -- you‘re—you—well, all these
Eastern European what are coming in, where are they flocking from?
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: A million people come from
Europe, but a million people, British people, have gone into Europe.
Good to see you all. Good to see you. Thanks very much.
That was a disaster. Well, I just—should never have put me in with
that woman. Whose idea was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know. I didn‘t see.
BROWN: It was Sue, I think. It‘s just ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not sure if they will go with that one.
BROWN: They will go with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did she say?
BROWN: Oh, everything. She was just a sort of bigoted woman. She
said she used be Labor. I mean, it‘s just ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, sometimes, you get a peek inside the real
political world, not the speeches, not the debates, not the TV ads. I was
in politicians for years. This is what it‘s like in the real politics.
Anyway, the reaction of the front page of the British press was, oh,
my God, Brown with its head in his hands. There are the headlines, “Brown
Penitent After Bigot Gaffe Torpedoes Campaign, and “Brown‘s Bigot Blunder
Plunges Labor Campaign Into Crisis.”
Well, in a debate that just ended this afternoon, Brown tried to
lighten the mood with this opening statement. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: There‘s a lot to this job. And, as you saw yesterday, I don‘t
get all of it right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, this is perhaps a career-ender. We will see. He was
already in trouble. How does this stack up in the annals of political
We have two pros joining us now, Clarence Page, who never makes a
gaffe, “Chicago Tribune” columnist...
MATTHEWS: ... Michael Smerconish, who eats this stuff up. He‘s a
radio talk show host out of Philly and an MSNBC political analyst.
Let‘s talk about this. First of all, talk about this incident, you
first, Clarence, then Michael.
Is this unfair? The woman was a bigot. The woman was making comments
about foreigners. She had certainly an attitude. And, apparently, she
gave him a whole string of attitude about this. And he just figured, why
am I doing this on camera and giving her the stage, when I‘m fighting for
What was wrong with what he said?
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: Well, Chris, you
know Michael Kinsley‘s old adage about how Washington is where a gaffe
occurs when somebody tells the truth.
That‘s true in Great Britain as well. It sort of reminds me of back
during the primary when Barack Obama‘s statements about working-class folks
in Pennsylvania, your home state, where, in despair over lost jobs, they
turned to God and religion.
You know, what he was saying was arguably true. But it‘s not the kind
of thing a candidate says who is trying mightily to win an election. And
Brown is in that similar situation now.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Michael Smerconish, on Gordon Brown...
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, wait a minute.
MATTHEWS: ... who was—who is probably running third now.
SMERCONISH: Well, wait a minute.
Ms. Duffy, poor Mrs. Duffy, literally goes out for a loaf of bread,
sees the prime minister in her neighborhood. She engages him, Chris, on
the deficit, how to educate her grandchildren, how is she going to pay for
And the comment—the comment is, these Eastern Europeans, where are
they all flocking from? I‘m not willing to concede that the woman is
bigoted. And he comes across as uppity. He comes across as insincere.
The only question in my mind is, when he got in that car, did he reach
for the Purell or the baby wipes first? Because he wanted no part of her.
He thinks he‘s so superior. And he will probably lose as a result of this.
MATTHEWS: OK, I hear you, buddy.
MATTHEWS: You are working the crowd yourself.
MATTHEWS: Here we go with Virginia Senator George Allen on a somewhat
more dangerous road he took in terms of language. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 11, 2006)
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA: This fellow here, over here, with
the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is, he‘s with my opponent.
And he‘s following us around everywhere.
So, welcome. Let‘s give a welcome to macaca here.
ALLEN: Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Clarence, before that happened, I thought George
Allen had it all, an incredibly famous name. His father was a very popular
football coach here out in L.A. and also back in Washington. He had the
religious people with him. He had the conservatives with him.
He was a very charming guy to hang out with. And he makes a comment
which most people took as racial.
PAGE: Yes, that‘s true. I was surprised, too, by how much he
plummeted afterwards, partly because of how he handled it, not just that
weird word, macaca, in itself.
And Gordon Brown is in that same situation. By the way, I don‘t
disagree with Michael in regard to the word bigot being awfully strong in
regard to this woman. Immigration is a big issue, a hot issue right now in
England. A lot of working-class voters are indeed upset about it. Maybe
they understand the facts. Maybe they don‘t, but you don‘t say something
condescending like calling her a bigot, simply because she‘s worried.
So, that—that‘s the kind of thing that could sink him to third
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s take a look at Gerald Ford in the 1976 debate
with Jimmy Carter. A lot of us remember this moment. “TIME” magazine
headlined this story the blooper heard round the world. I don‘t think
anybody who ever watched this ever forgot it.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 6, 1976)
GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no Soviet
domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be, under a Ford
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How did that go over in Bridesburg, Michael?
MATTHEWS: How did that go over in the Polish neighborhoods of Philly
and Chicago? What do you think they thought of that, that they weren‘t
under Soviet domination?
SMERCONISH: Well, not only—not only there, but also anywhere where
people watched “SNL,” because all that it did was—and un—I think
unfairly—I happen to think Ford was a bright guy, University of Michigan
But he got—he got tagged as being that “SNL” bumbling figure. We
all—we all got him confused with Chevy Chase by the end of it. And that
that was just fuel for the fire.
MATTHEWS: But, you know, Max Frankel, Clarence, asked him again when
he put that question from the “New York Times.” He said, are you serious?
Are you saying there‘s no Iron Curtain? Are you saying Czechoslovakia and
Bulgaria and Albania and all of those countries aren‘t under the Soviet
hoof? This is in ‘76. They were. It was the Warsaw Pact. They were all
there ready to gun him down. Anyway, what did you make of that?
PAGE: Yes. I was in Chicago when Ford said that. The next morning,
I was on my way to work on the bus. One of my Lithuanian neighbors was
walking up and down the aisle just shouting about Ford, did you hear what
he said last night? Could you believe it? Nobody there was telling him to
shut up, because everybody was just aghast at what Ford said. It‘s not
what you say, it‘s what other people hear.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here‘s Governor Romney, in one of my personal
favorites, Mitt Romney‘s father, when he with a running for president in
1968, and didn‘t know jack about foreign policy, and foolishly started
talking about it. Here he was asked about why he changed his position on
the Vietnam War. Let‘s listen to one of the all timers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE ROMNEY, FATHER OF MITT ROMNEY: Well, you know, when I
came back from Vietnam, I just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody
can get. When you go over to Vietnam --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the generals?
ROMNEY: Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michael, that was the end of that man‘s run for president,
because he didn‘t know anything and he basically said I don‘t know
SMERCONISH: It‘s unfortunate. It caught up with him. Look, I think
every one of them has had a moment like this. As I‘m sitting here watching
your highlight film, it‘s like NFL Films, I‘m thinking, who hasn‘t said
something boneheaded like this? Heck, I do it every day on the radio.
MATTHEWS: Is it something I said? That‘s what I feel like saying
when I do it. Clarence, let‘s do the final one. This is not as serious,
because we know this guy‘s a lot smarter than this. Here was Reagan
horsing around during the—what was called a mic check—we all call it
mic check—before giving one of those Saturday radio addresses back in
the ‘80s. Now, put this into perspective, Reagan really wanted to get rid
of nuclear weapons. Here he sounds like a kid having fun with the
microphone. Here he is. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow
Americans, I‘m pleased to tell you today that I signed legislation that
will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ha! That was a real hoot, wasn‘t it, Clarence?
PAGE: Yes, a real hoot. Apparently, the soviets put their missiles
on alert when they got wind of that. That wasn‘t a campaign gaffe. That
was a foreign policy gaffe that could have had really serious consequences.
It didn‘t hurt him as far as his re-election effort was concerned. But it
certainly said something about watching what you say around an open mic,
which every politician ought to remember.
MATTHEWS: We all should. Michael, your thoughts on that one? That
was somewhat lucky, because nothing went wrong ultimately.
SMERCONISH: Well, Chris, you might think, Clarence might think I‘m
nuts for saying this. I‘ve always wondered if it weren‘t deliberate on
Reagan‘s part, to send a message to the Soviets that, hey, this old guy is
not wrapped too tight, and maybe we should come to the negotiation table
and resolve some nuclear weapons issues with him.
Because they did. He brought Gorbachev to his knees.
MATTHEWS: I know it had a happy ending. But I think you‘re confusing
him with Nixon. Because Nixon always wanted them to think he was a little
nuts. Remember that? That was serious. The crazy man theory, he knew
exactly what he was doing. I think Reagan was much more of an innocent in
that regard. But, you know, I know some of your callers, crazy as some of
them are, Michael, probably believe you. Or you believe them.
Thank you, Michael Smerconish. Thank you, Clarence. It was a lot of
fun. It‘s fun for us to watch, of course, when it‘s not one of us on this
Up next, the GOP, the Republicans are poised to win some big trophy
seats. They‘re going after all the big name-brand seats in the Senate.
They may win almost every one of them. The strategists are coming up.
They‘re warming up right now.
But, first, during this commercial, you want to see this new
television ad from Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak. He‘s out running
against Arlen Specter. You‘ll see his ad in one minute. This is HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: A new television ad out today from Democratic Congressman
Joe Sestak up in Pennsylvania. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Mr. Specter, if you have a problem with Joe
Sestak‘s record as the real Democrat, go ahead and attack that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But please, Mr. Specter, don‘t lie about Admiral
Sestak‘s distinguished service record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Specter, this is what we do when Admiral
Sestak comes to speak to us.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I‘m Joe Sestak and I authorized
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s pretty good. The veterans have spoken. We‘ll be
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. Thirty six Senate seats are on the ballot this
November. But there are three seats, in particular, that Republicans have
their eyes on, the Seats once held by President Obama and Vice President
Biden, and the seat now held by Majority Leader Harry Reid. Well, the
“Washington Post” spotlights it in the front page today. And Texas Senator
John Cornyn, the man in charge of winning those Senate seats for
Republicans, told the “Post,” quote, “I call them the trophy seats.”
Let‘s talk about these trophy seats, and how they‘re going to go this
fall. And is there anything Democrats can do to stop them? Let‘s go to
the strategists. Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist, and Pat
Buchanan is an MSNBC strategist.
Steve, it looks like they‘ve already started the bowling. The pins
are starting to fall already in favor of the Republicans. Who would have
thought Teddy‘s seat would have gone first? Isn‘t that the first
indication that this could be a very good R year, Republican year?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it may be. But I hope
what it was is a wake up call to Democrats that you can‘t take independents
for granted. I think what you‘re going to see over the next several months
is Democrats picking issues that appeal especially to independents, so that
independents come back in the fold.
You know, the president won independents by a two to one margin—or
almost a two to one margin in 2008. Republicans have been winning by the
same margin recently. And we need to bring them back. And I hope that‘s
what Scott Brown‘s message was to Washington and the Democratic community.
MATTHEWS: So what is it, Pat? Is it a wake-up call? Is it a sign of
things to come? Is the victory of a Scott Brown in the base state, the
Kennedy state, does that tell you that‘s the way the wind is blowing?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it does, Chris. I think
it does. Very interesting, in 1960, we elected two United States senators
and one seat was in Massachusetts, the other in Texas. LBJ‘s seat, as you
recall, went early for John Tower. And Massachusetts, however, they had
the McCormick-Kennedy praise, 29-year-old Teddy. He won it fairly handily
after the missile crisis.
But now I really think that Republicans are going to pick up Delaware,
because Mike Castle is a terrific candidate, Illinois because the Democrats
have not nominated an outstanding candidate. Nevada is different, because
Harry Reid, I think—it‘s not a pro Republican thing that‘s going on
there. It‘s really anti-Harry Reid.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, it could be. Sue Lowden could be a very attractive
candidate out there. We‘ll see the former state senator, former TV person
out there. Let‘s take a look at Illinois now. This is a fascinating.
It‘s been in the dark. I want Steve, who knows a lot about these things,
to tell us, Giarnoulias, the banker, his bank‘s failed. The family bank
failed. This guy Mark Kirk looks like he‘s going to pick it up. Let‘s
take a look at what‘s happening out there.
We‘ve got a graphic right there see it, 39, that‘s Kirk. So he‘s
edged ahead. It looks to me like they‘ve got a very good shot out there to
pick that Obama seat up, the Republicans.
MCMAHON: OK, so here‘s what they have: they have a pretty good
candidate, who, by the way, is a moderate, not a conservative. And a lot
of Republicans coming out of primaries, these days, are conservatives and
some of them too conservative to win. But he‘s a moderate Republican,
which is good. He‘s running against somebody who has a problem with the
family bank, which is obviously bad.
The person who is nominated in Illinois was actually the second choice
of most Democrats. Lisa Madigan, the attorney general, would have easily
held that seat. But Illinois is a solidly performing Democratic state. So
I expect that as Giarnoulias explains the situation and circumstances
around this bank failure, that things are either get better, or I think
Democrats are going to have a problem in the Fall.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s look at this video from the NBC station out there in
Chicago, WMAQ. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does your campaign need the equivalent of a
presidential hug today to be successful?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Pat is that kind of political mating hurt in Illinois like
it does in Florida?
BUCHANAN: I think, Chris, looking at Illinois, that will really be a
humiliation if Barack Obama loses. It would be like Jack Kennedy losing
Massachusetts in 1962, Chris, because Illinois is as Democratic today as
Massachusetts was in the days of Kennedy/Lodge. So I think that‘s really
going to be a bad defeat. And it‘s going to be sort of a disgrace for the
Democratic machine that Obama has got together there in the White House,
with Axelrod and Rahm, who really ought to be able to put something
together to hold his seat in about the fifth most Democratic state in the
MATTHEWS: Pat, I think you‘re building a case. There‘s a lot of
Illinois senators over the years, Dirksen—you know, I think of more
BUCHANAN: That‘s 50 years ago.
MATTHEWS: Fitzgerald had the seat before Obama did. The idea that
it‘s somehow a hard left state, I just don‘t think it‘s serious.
BUCHANAN: It is far more left than it used to be back there when
Nixon was running against Humphrey, when it was a 50/50 state. Chris—
MATTHEWS: Percy was in there for practically 25 years.
BUCHANAN: Chris, it has gone Democratic in the last five straight
MCMAHON: I think even you would agree that if Lisa Madigan or any
other Democrat that wasn‘t flawed was running for that seat, they would
easily hold it.
BUCHANAN: I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s throw one to Pat here. Pat, you‘re going to win.
You won—I think Mark does have the slight edge there, because of
Giarnoulias‘ bank problems. I think you‘re right there. But I don‘t think
it‘s the biggest upset of the century. It‘s not stealing the bacon from
Delaware, Pat, jump in here. It looks to me like the decision by Beau
Biden not to run for his father seat, giving it to the moderate governor,
who has won every office in the history of Delaware, he‘s got to be the
favorite. But you‘re not going to claim that‘s a big lefty state.
BUCHANAN: No, I would say, look, Mike Castle is clearly a
tremendously strong candidate. Democrats had to be aware that if he
stepped in, they‘re going to be the underdogs. Even Beau Biden is going to
be the underdog. But it does tell you something that Beau Biden ducked a
fight. He wants to live to fight another day. He‘s got a clean record.
Why go up against a guy he can‘t beat?
MATTHEWS: Well said. Let‘s go to Nevada. It‘s a fascinating race
with a live incumbent. Your thoughts, Steve. It looks to me like Sue
Lowden—I have met her a very few times, a very attractive candidate,
former state senator, very TV conscious. She‘s a former reporter, knows
MCMAHON: She recently said, though, that she talked about the old
barter system and talked about how people used to come to the doctor with a
chicken and pay for their health care that way. I think she has some
learning to do as a candidate. Harry Reid, as we all know, is a very tough
leader and a very good campaigner.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Well, you went for the midsection there. Thank
you very much, Steve McCain—McMahon—McCain—McMahon and thank you
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the importance
of doing something when it‘s a matter of life or death. You‘re watching
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a story of life in the big city.
And I‘d like to think—I do think it‘s exceptional. The other day, they
buried Hugo Tale=Yax in Queens, New York. He was a homeless man who had
come to the great American city from Guatemala. He died because in the
last act of his life, he tried to protect a woman who was being mugged
right there on the sidewalk with him.
In his last act, this man obeyed the most basic rule of his
upbringing, love thy neighbor. He put his life at risk to protect someone
who was, that last night of his life, his neighbor. Hugo Tale-Yax, from
Guatemala, living in New York, not doing well, but strong enough of
spirited heart to race across a sidewalk on a dark Spring night and save
someone from harm.
Love thy neighbor. Stabbed by that mugger, he lay on the sidewalk
while dozens of people walked by. Some looked, even took note of his dying
moments, but did nothing. He was a neighbor that night, and they didn‘t
lift a finger.
I remember this happening before in the Borough of Queens in 1964. A
young woman, Katherine Genovese 9ph), Kitty, her neighbors called her—
Kitty was walking home from a parking lot and was stabbed 17 times and
then, later, sexually assaulted. Lots of people heard her screams that
night. “Oh, my god, he stabbed me,” and finally, “I‘m dying, I‘m dying,”
And nobody came to her aid that night. She had no neighbor, not in that
sense that we are all, in some way, taught to be a neighbor.
One guy said he couldn‘t hear her cries because of his air
conditioner. This was March, as “the New York Times” reported, one of the
coldest days on record.
One of the great things about living in a big city is that you learn
to let other people go on about their business. You don‘t judge. You
don‘t butt in. You know, you‘re street smart. But there‘s this other
thing, this refusal to get involved. You‘re not a stranger, but you‘re a
neighbor, who at that moment is needed to stand up and be a fellow human
I know it‘s tough, and it‘s easy to blame or come up with excuses.
They‘re called moral alibis. But at some point think hard about all those
people who turned their eyes, ears and hearts from Hugo Tale-Yax and Kitty
Genovese. You are the world you‘re living in.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s
time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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