Guests: Arlen Specter, David Weigel, Joan Walsh, Jonathan Turley.
HOST: Will the real Democrat please stand up?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. Leading off
tonight: You say you want a revolution? In a terrible year for incumbents,
there‘s no bigger name with a target on his back than Arlen Specter in
Pennsylvania. He‘s in the fight of his life with Congressman Joe Sestak.
Specter joins us at the top of the show, and I‘m going to ask him why
Pennsylvania Democrats should vote for a man who has been a Republican for
more than 40 years. He‘s at the top of the show and you won‘t want to miss
The hostile climate for incumbents out there got worse last night when
Alan Mollohan of West Virginia became the first House Democrat to go down
in defeat in a primary. Now we learn that the party folks are taking over
Maine, up in the state of Maine, and that Orrin Hatch out in Utah‘s in
trouble. So who‘s next?
And we have the latest NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll tonight, with a
lot we‘re going to give you tonight on the prospects for Democrats holding
the House this November and how Americans feel about Arizona‘s tough new
immigration law, and of course, racial profiling.
Also, a few years ago, a Republican senator said it was not important
for a Supreme Court nominee to have judicial experience. So why‘s it so
important now that Elena Kagan has been nominated? Could the Republicans
be playing politics?
“Let Me Finish” tonight with Dick Cheney, Halliburton and the gulf oil
spill. I think it‘s time for the former vice president to testify out in
the open about his behavior with the oil industry, under the lights and
Let‘s start with the Senate primary up in Pennsylvania. Three polls
out today show the fight between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak is a dead
heat. A new Franklin and Marshall poll has Sestak up by 2. A new
Quinnipiac poll has Specter up by 2. And today‘s Muhlenberg/”Morning Call”
tracking poll has the race dead even.
Senator Specter joins us now. Senator, let‘s play your ad now, your
latest TV ad. It‘s showing right now in Pennsylvania. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama and newspapers across Pennsylvania
agree Arlen Specter is the real deal.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say a few
things about Arlen Specter. He came to fight for the working men and women
of Pennsylvania. And Arlen Specter cast the deciding vote in favor of the
Recovery Act that has helped pull us back from the brink.
Because you know he‘s going to fight for you, regardless of what the
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I‘m Arlen Specter, and I
approved this message.
OBAMA: I love you and I love Arlen Specter!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, “I love Arlen Specter.” That‘s a strong endorsement.
Did you—were you surprised by that language, “I love you”?
SPECTER: Well, I liked it. I just focused on how nice it was and how
emphatic the president was. I got to know him when he was Senator Obama
and had his office right down the hall and urged me to become a Democrat
again. And he‘s got a dynamite television spot which could be decisive.
Listen, this is a very uncertain race, but I feel pretty good about it.
MATTHEWS: So do you love the president back, or is this unrequited?
Do you love Obama?
SPECTER: Of course I do. But more than love him, I cast the key vote
in the stimulus package which saved us from sliding into a type (ph) 1930
Depression. More than loving him, I provided the 60th vote for
comprehensive health care reform.
SPECTER: So—but this is what the people are interested in. The
people are interested in jobs, and I‘ve got a sound record fighting Chinese
imports, funding for the National Institutes of Health, contracts through
(ph) the Appropriations committee, and that‘s what people want to know
MATTHEWS: What people are concerned about—based upon the polling,
I‘m surprised you‘re even. I‘m surprised Sestak‘s running even with you
now. But I don‘t think the polling—I know election‘s day‘s going to
decide this thing and what happens on election day, Senator. I know how it
works in politics.
But let me ask you this. Are you going to vote for President Obama
next time? Have you made a decision you‘re an Obama guy, you‘re going to
vote for him next time?
MATTHEWS: Absolutely. I‘ve joined his team. Listen, when that vote
came up on the stimulus, I knew it was the end of my association with the
Republican Party. For years, they called me a “rino,” Republican in name
only, because I have voted with the Democrats more often than with the
Republicans on the big issues...
SPECTER: ... minimum wage, woman‘s right to choose, right down the
line, against Bork, led that fight.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about Arlen Specter the citizen, Citizen
Specter. How did you vote in 2008? Did you vote for Obama, or did you
vote for the other guy, for McCain?
SPECTER: I voted for McCain. At that time, I was...
MATTHEWS: OK, who did you vote for in 2004? You‘ve now got a
character endorsement from Senator Kerry. I‘m impressed by that. He‘s
swearing to your character right now in a statement yesterday. How‘d you
vote in 2004?
SPECTER: Listen, when I was trying to reform and moderate the
Republican Party, I was supporting Republicans, trying to bring them back
to the center. And when that schism broke, I returned to my roots. I had
started off as a Democrat. I voted for Adlai Stevenson. I vote for—I
voted vote for him twice, voted for John F. Kennedy, if you want to go over
my voting record.
MATTHEWS: Right. But starting in ‘68, it was Nixon, Nixon all the
way. And it was Reagan, Reagan. And it was Bush, Bush, Bush. And it was
against all the Democrats, like Al Gore and John Kerry and Dukakis and
Clinton. You voted against a whole mess of Democrats. Did you vote
against Eddie Rendell all those years, too? I mean you‘re a Republican for
SPECTER: No, no. No, I always supported Ed Rendell, gave him his
first job out of Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: I know, but did you vote for him?
SPECTER: I voted for him, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Did you?
SPECTER: Absolutely. Yes.
MATTHEWS: So you voted for—you voted Democrat for governor the
last couple times.
SPECTER: That‘s—that‘s right. I did that because I knew him,
trusted him and thought he was a good man.
MATTHEWS: Right. So let me ask about this—this mistake you‘ve
been making. I know—you know what I do? I write 19 instead of 20
sometimes by accident because I‘m not used to the 21st century yet. You
seem to have this weird thing where you vote—you say Republican. Here
you are in an audio last night in Pittsburgh. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SPECTER: I thank the Allegheny Republican Committee for endorsing me
for the Democratic nomination.
Great pleasure to be endorsed by the Allegheny County Republicans, and
together we‘ll (INAUDIBLE) victory.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, you were happy to be endorsed by the Allegheny
Republicans last night. OK, it‘s a little mistake. People make mistakes.
Here you are last month at Penn State. Let‘s listen to you again, Arlen
Specter, Democrat, thanking the Republican Democrats—I mean, I‘m sorry,
the College Republicans for their support. Here we are at Penn State last
month. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPECTER: I‘m proud to have been endorsed by the college Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, what is this pattern of keeping—you keep thanking
Republicans, as if you‘re still a Republican, this mental mistake you keep
making. It concerns Democrats that mentally, your instinct is to say
you‘re a Republican still.
SPECTER: You have cited three instances...
SPECTER: ... but 853 other times I‘ve said Democrat when I meant
Democrat. Look here, I‘m the speaker every now and then. I‘m not a
professional communicator like—like Chris Matthews, so...
SPECTER: ... occasionally, I misspeak. But listen, where are my
votes? Take a look at what I voted for. Take a look at my support of a
woman‘s right to choose, voting for the minimum wage, voting against Bork,
voting against warrantless wiretapping. Look what I did on the stimulus
package. Look what I did on comprehensive health insurance. On the votes,
you‘re in the well of the Senate and you‘re thinking, and you know whether
you say aye or nay. I haven‘t made any mistakes on aye or nay.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you—great question. Was voting for
Clarence Thomas a mistake, voting for Judge Alito, voting for Judge
Roberts, voting for Judge Scalia? Were they—are you happy with the way
Clarence Thomas has turned out as a Supreme Court associate Justice?
Clarence Thomas, let‘s take that example. Are you happy with him?
SPECTER: Chris, I made my best judgment at the time, but I‘m not
going to review those votes. I‘m happy with the vote I cast against Bork.
I‘m happy with the vote I cast in favor of Breyer. I led the fight for
SPECTER: In this line of work, you analyze it and you make your best
judgment. There‘s a big picture involved. And if I start looking over
10,000 votes, I‘ll never finish.
MATTHEWS: OK. How about Elena Kagan for solicitor? You voted
against her. Have you decided—I mean, you‘re very discerning in these
things. You‘ve made some mistakes. Is that a mistake?
SPECTER: No. She would not answer important questions. The
nomination for Supreme Court is very different. You can‘t ask a Supreme
Court nominee how they‘re going to vote because of judicial independence.
I asked her when she was—if she was solicitor general, what would she do
with the case where the Holocaust victims were suing insurance companies?
She wouldn‘t answer. I asked her what would she do in a case where
survivors of victims of 9/11 were suing high-ranking Saudi officials and
sovereign immunity did not apply?
SPECTER: And she wouldn‘t answer. And that was a different
situation. Listen, my political opponent wants me to come out declare for
her, yes or no. Well, I don‘t make snap judgments before hearing the
evidence, before hearing the testimony.
MATTHEWS: But let‘s think about an average Democrat in Pennsylvania
who knows you voted for Thomas, voted for Alito, voted for Roberts, voted
for Scalia, but you‘re still up in the air on whether to vote for Kagan.
What did those four gentlemen have that you‘re wondering if Kagan has?
SPECTER: Well, in each of those cases, I attended the confirmation
hearings. I asked a lot of probing questions. I talked to my colleagues.
And I came to a considered—a considered judgment. And that‘s the way I
operate, on an independent basis, and I‘ll continue to do that. And I‘m
not going to make a knee-jerk reaction and respond to my political opponent
in the Senate campaign...
SPECTER: ... because he wants to make political capital. I‘m not
going to do that.
MATTHEWS: So no endorsement—you‘re not going to make any
confirmation, prediction on your vote, even through next Tuesday? Right
through Tuesday, you‘re not going to endorse Elena Kagan?
SPECTER: Well, I may. I‘m meeting with her tomorrow. I want to hear
what she has to say.
SPECTER: I‘ve got an open mind on it.
SPECTER: I think that‘s what a senator ought to do.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. I think you will endorse her over the
weekend, but that‘s my prediction. It has no power over the actual event.
You talked yesterday in Pittsburgh about your seniority. Do you have a
deal with the Democratic leadership, such as it is right now, to restore
your full seniority? Because you really lost most of it when you switched
SPECTER: When I talked to Senator Reid, the leader, it was on the
understanding that I would have my full seniority, as if elected as a
Democrat in 1980. And he said we would revisit the issue after the
MATTHEWS: If Senator Reid is defeated out in Nevada—he‘s now 11
points behind Sue Lowden out there—if he doesn‘t get reelected, will you
be guaranteed you get your seniority back if you‘re elected as a Democrat?
SPECTER: I expect to get my seniority back when reelected.
MATTHEWS: Who promised you? And who can deliver?
SPECTER: Well, the majority leader speaks for the caucus. And he was
the person I talked to, and I relied upon that and I still rely upon that.
Listen, it‘s something that they try to do with some consistency...
SPECTER: ... to persuade people to cross the aisle, and if they reneg
on me, who‘s next?
MATTHEWS: Well, has Schumer or Durbin made that same commitment?
Because they may well be—either one of them could be majority leader
SPECTER: Well, I don‘t ask them for commitments as majority leader
when we‘ve got a majority leader, and I have a commitment from him.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Final question. Is this your last term? I know
you think ahead and you love the Senate. We all love the Senate—or I
do. Is this your last term, Senator? You‘re 80 years old. You‘ve had 30
years behind you. Will you run again, if you get elected again, run again
for another six years?
SPECTER: Well, it is highly unlikely, but I never like to say
anything with finality.
SPECTER: When you talk about age, Joe Paterno‘s older than I. He‘s
still going strong. When you talk about age, I agree with Satchel Paige.
Satchel Paige—If you didn‘t know your age, how old would you think you
were? And I choose 37, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Good for you. And by the way, just—there‘s one
difference between you and JoePa. He sticks with the same team. But thank
you very much, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Good luck next Tuesday. I
think you‘re going to squeak it. I predict...
SPECTER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... a squeaker, a couple points.
Anyway, a reminder we‘ll be in Philadelphia all night on...
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry, Senator. Go ahead.
SPECTER: If everybody who‘s for me comes out to vote, I‘ll win.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. I think you‘re...
SPECTER: It‘s a matter of turnout. But I appreciate your prediction
MATTHEWS: I‘m watching west Philadelphia. I‘m watching Bobby Brady
(ph). I‘m watching the impact of Tony Williams (ph). I‘m watching the
whole thing. It‘s fascinating to watch. Thank you, Senator.
SPECTER: You know Philadelphia like the back of your hand. I take a
lot of heart in that, Chris. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Senator. We‘ll see you on Tuesday night up in
Philly. Anyway, Senator Arlen Specter, running as a Democrat in the
primary next Tuesday. We‘re going to be up there following this. There‘s
so many hot primaries Tuesday night, and that‘s the hottest one, as you
Coming up: Anti-incumbency fever. Democratic congressman Alan
Mollohan out in West Virginia gets beaten in his own primary. Tea party
activists take control of the Republican Party up in Maine. Out in Utah,
they‘re warning—the partiers out there, tea partiers, are warning Orrin
Hatch he‘s next, next to go. Is anybody safe in the Republican Party or
the Democratic Party?
Coming up in a minute, the Republicans pick a city to host their
convention in 2012. They‘re going—well, they‘re going way south and
back to those chads again.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Republican Party will nominate its presidential
candidate for 2012 in the city of Tampa, Florida. Big news on that. The
decision came today. And when you consider the other finalist city, it‘s a
no-brainer. The other choice for the Republicans were Phoenix—ain‘t
going there because of the controversy over the illegal immigration law—
Salt Lake City, which would provide endless storylines about how Christian
conservatives think about Mormons, regardless of whether Mitt Romney‘s the
nominee. So mark your calendars and book your tickets if you‘re involved.
It‘s Tampa for the Republicans in 2012, despite that lingering memory of
hanging chads and the governor down there who‘s been run out of his party,
a former Republican who may beat the Republicans.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There‘s something going on
politically in this country, and we all know about it. We don‘t want to
have to dig too deep to find out what‘s happening. Look, conservative Utah
senator Bob Bennett was ousted in a primary last weekend, losing to two tea
party candidates. Florida governor Charlie Crist left the Republican Party
after trailing tea party favorite Marco Rubio in that Senate primary down
there, and today Crist officially changed his registration to “no party
Well, Senator John McCain is facing a tough primary challenge out
there from J.D. Hayworth. And this weekend in Maine, the state of Maine,
the state‘s GOP platform was thrown out and replaced with a tea party-
friendly version of the platform. What‘s going on?
David Weigel is the national reporter for “The Washington Post” and
author of the blog “Right Now.” And Joan Walsh is editor of Salon.com.
David, this thing is really serious. It‘s bicoastal. It‘s in all
four corners. It goes from California all the way up to Maine. Let‘s look
at this. Here‘s a scene at the Maine Republican convention—we always
think of Maine as a moderate Republican state—when the GOP platform was
thrown out up there this weekend and a tea party-themed platform was voted
in. Let‘s watch. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question before the body is the adoption of
the proposed amendment to substitute this language (INAUDIBLE) All those in
favor of the amendment will rise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there they are, David. They‘re not all dressed up in
suits, like big-shot politicians. They‘re regular people up in Maine, a
state we thought was a moderate Republican state being taken over by the
tea party people. Is this “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or what?
DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, it‘s the same thing that
happened in Utah.
The—the reason that Bennett lost was that Tea Party activists spent
about a year—and they were encouraged by the Club for Growth to spend
about $180,000 helping them to do this—to take over the parties in—in
county from county and city to city.
Same thing in Maine—these people hadn‘t really been active in
politics, so it was easy for them to kind of elbow out of the way the old
blue-hairs who haven‘t been working that hard in Republican—in the party
for a while.
MATTHEWS: Well, is this top-down or bottom up? Top-down or bottom-
up? Is it the people in the grassroots or is this stirred by the well-
financed Club for Growth?
WEIGEL: Oh, no, this is pretty bottom-up. The Club had a role, but,
you know, two years ago, Ron Paul supporters were doing the same thing. We
just weren‘t paying attention. It‘s really easy to take over in—in
Maine, yes, Olympia Snowe wins, Susan Collins wins, but we have seen
polling that says most conservative voters are not that fond of Olympia
Snowe. And they just have had been active until the last year.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, let me go to—let me go to Joan.
Joan, it seems to me Maine has always been that state that is highly
independent. They elect people who are basically independent-minded,
really classic Yankees, if you will, Down Easterners—Easterners.
It seems to me we didn‘t think of that as sort of right-wing territory
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: No, and I‘m not—I‘m still
not sure it is. It is a very independent state.
You know, I would give a slightly different answer from Dave‘s,
although he is the expert on the Tea Party. I think it‘s bottom-up with a
lot of help from top-down. And I think that the Club for Growth and our
friend Dick Armey‘s FreedomWorks are putting a lot of money into helping
these people do what they do.
But, you know, Chris, you have really got to look at this new Maine
Tea Party platform. I mean, it‘s crackpot. I mean, it commits the state
of Maine to doing everything it can to defeat the U.N. Rights of the Child
treaty, which is about sex trafficking and child labor, nothing really
objectionable in there.
It puts them on the side of the Tenthers, the people who say the 10th
Amendment will prevent—should prevent health care reform. It‘s really,
really quite fringy. It‘s going to—we‘re going to go back to Austrian
economics. And maybe Dave can tell us what that is.
But, you know, it‘s all—they—they attack ACORN, which isn‘t even
a group anymore. So, it‘s really an amalgam of fringe interests.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, look at far it‘s going in terms of political
Here, Senator Hatch—a new Mason-Dixon poll—it‘s a good poll—
asks, if Senator Hatch were up for reelection this year, instead of 2012,
would you vote for him, or anyone else? Fifty-one percent say someone
David, that‘s powerful stuff. We all thought Orrin Hatch was an
institution in Utah. The fact that people out there, not just the people
that show up at meetings with signs and attitude, but the average person
out there in the Republican Party says it‘s time for Orrin to go.
I guess that explains, by the way, before I get your answer, why he
never went along with health care, why he pulled out of health care so
fast. He saw which way the wind was blowing out in Utah, first Bennett,
then maybe him.
WEIGEL: Well, yes, that‘s the effect it‘s having—Susan Collins,
Olympia Snowe, Orrin Hatch.
Orrin Hatch hadn‘t actually voted against a Supreme Court nominee, I
don‘t think, until Sonia Sotomayor. I mean, he just knew what side of the
bread was buttered, because he realizes, if you go out of your way to
irritate Tea Party groups, you are going to get punished.
Now, I was actually talking to Senator John Thune—he‘s a member of
the leadership—yesterday about this and said, you voted for TARP.
Bennett voted for TARP. How do you convince people not to oust you?
And he was a little bit sympathetic to Bennett, who cast this vote
that a lot of Republicans cast, but could not stop the onslaught of
pitchforks and Molotov cocktails from Tea Partiers.
MATTHEWS: Well, the funny thing is, Thune doesn‘t even have an
opponent this fall.
MATTHEWS: In the Republican Senate primary out in Kentucky, Tea Party
candidate Rand Paul leads Trey Grayson, the establishment candidate, by 12
Joan, it looks like he‘s going to win next Tuesday, Rand Paul, based
on the polling. He‘s got the wind at his back, and he was the guy that the
only guy back at him was Jim Bunning, who was the outcast out there.
No. You know, I think the Tea Party is certainly having an impact.
So far, Chris, it‘s mainly having an impact on the Republican Party, and
it‘s pulling—it‘s pulling the party to the right in conservative states.
Now, you know, so far, their big national effort was a defeat. They -
they elected a Democrat in New York 23. They take credit for Scott
Brown, but I really think that‘s pretty ridiculous. So, I—we—we—
we‘re going to see some matchups in the fall between Tea Party Republicans
and Democrats of various stripes. That‘s when it‘s going to get
interesting. Are they going to go too far right to appeal to the
independents, or are they going to somehow capture the anti-incumbent fever
and convince people that they‘re right about government spending?
We don‘t know that yet.
MATTHEWS: David, you‘re on top of this. And, of course, we‘re
watching polls all over the place. And I‘m looking at the new NBC poll. I
can‘t give you the numbers tonight, but—at this time of night.
But I‘m also looking at what happened in Britain. Is there some
movement out there that‘s bigger than the Republican Party?
WEIGEL: Well, yes.
MATTHEWS: Is the word conservative now more attractive than the word
Republican in a big way?
WEIGEL: Oh, it has been for a while. I mean, Gallup has shown the
same thing. Gallup polls say that 40 percent of the country is
conservative. And that was true even when the Republican Party was
absolutely digging around in a ditch after George W. Bush.
MATTHEWS: So, what does it mean being a conservative today, as
opposed to being a Republican? Dichotomize it.
WEIGEL: Well, there‘s a sort of a fight define that. I mean, we just
talked about Maine.
Austrian economics, hard money, let‘s go back to the gold standard,
let‘s abolish-the-Fed economics, that didn‘t used to be what conservatives
WEIGEL: It‘s just that the people with the most energy in the base
are Ron Paul activists, Dick...
WEIGEL: ... you know, supporters of Dick Armey, people who listen to
MATTHEWS: Yes. I agree.
WEIGEL: And they‘re redefining what it is to be a conservative right
now. It‘s very—so, Republicans are being led by it.
MATTHEWS: Joan, on the progressive side, I think the big worry has to
be—even though people don‘t like John Boehner, they don‘t even know who
these guys like Mitch McConnell are—they‘re going to go into that voting
booth with a conservative, anti-liberal, anti-progressive attitude. And
they‘re going to vote Republican and.
That‘s why I think the House could go Republican this fall, not
because they like Republicans. They would never elect John Boehner
nationally to anything...
MATTHEWS: ... or Mitch McConnell to anything, but they‘re so angry
with the way things are, these people, they will vote Republican. Your
WALSH: Well, for now, my—my thought is, it‘s anti-incumbent. It‘s
not necessarily anti-liberal. It‘s not necessarily anti-Democrat. It
could become that.
WALSH: It‘s a question of how the Democrats define themselves,
whether they come up with an insurgent message at all that reaches people.
For now, I‘m looking at the effect on the Republican Party. I‘m not
saying what you‘re talking about won‘t happen, Chris. I think it‘s early.
MATTHEWS: Yes, thank you. I think what‘s happening to the Republican
Party is truly revolutionary. It‘s losing its establishment aspect. Maybe
that‘s good for both parties in the long run. We will see.
David Weigel, thank you very much, Joan Walsh, as always.
Up next—oh, by the way, yesterday, we invited any Republican
officeholder who disagrees with Rush Limbaugh to come on HARDBALL and tell
us Rush is wrong. Easy statement, I would think, that he‘s gone too far,
that Rush is not the leader of the Republican Party. Well, so far, no
Republicans called us or asked to come on HARDBALL. It‘s only been a day,
but we‘re, and the operators are standing by.
Up next: How far right is the Republican Party today? Just ask the
candidate for governor in Alabama. He‘s been attacked for supporting—
oh, my God—evolution.
The “Sideshow” is next. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
Religious tests coming.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And more of the “Sideshow” tonight.
Evolution, it‘s a dirty word in some circles. Just check out the
Alabama ad we‘re going to show you that‘s meant to attack Bradley Byrne, a
Republican candidate for governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Bradley Byrne was a Democrat.
NARRATOR: Now he‘s a Republican.
NARRATOR: On the school board, Byrne supported teaching evolution,
said evolution best explains the origin of life, even recently said the
Bible is only partially true.
Bradley Byrne, another liberal blowing in the wind.
NARRATOR: Trying to look conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Blowing in the wind? How about “Inherent the Wind”?
Let‘s get this straight. Support for teaching evolution, suggesting
that the Bible is not literally true, they‘re not—they‘re not exactly
attack lines, are they?
Well, equally disheartening, the candidate in question, Bradley Byrne,
was quick to come out with a statement denying all of the charges. Quote -
here‘s what he said in defense—“The record clearly shows that I fought
to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school textbooks.”
He also added—quote—“I believe the Bible is the word of God and
that every single word of it is true”—close quote.
Has it come to this, a religious test for holding public office?
Well, you just saw a religious test. It apparently has come to that.
On a lighter note: Mark Sanford‘s affair to remember. The outgoing—
I love that phrase—the outgoing South Carolina governor confirmed today
that he met with his Argentinean lover, Maria Belen Chapur, over the
weekend to see if they could restart their relationship. Remember, Sanford
famously went missing in action for a week last summer. He was first said
to be hiking the Appalachian Trail before he admitted to visiting Chapur
down in Buenos Aires.
Sanford‘s divorce was finalized early this year, a story that proves
that there are indeed second acts in American life. Anyway, we‘re going to
have to see what happens there.
Now for the “Number.”
On Sunday, pitcher Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game for the A‘s
out in Oakland against the Tampa Bay Rays, no runs, no hits, no walks, no
base runners, nothing.
Well, per today‘s “New York Times,” the big four banks, Bank of
America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and J.P. Morgan, have just pitched Wall
Street equivalent of a perfect game. In the last quarter, how many days
did those banks lose money, I mean any days? Zero days. That‘s right.
The big bank made money every single day last quarter, zero days of losses,
no days in the red, every day in the black—tonight‘s incredible “Big
Up next: The new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll is just out tonight.
It suggests that incumbents, and especially Democrats, are in for some
rough weather. Chuck Todd joins us next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A solid midweek rally on some encouraging reports from the tech
sector, the Dow Jones industrials jumping 148 points, the S&P 500 climbing
nearly 16 points, and the Nasdaq soaring almost 50 points.
IBM the biggest gainer on the Dow, after telling shareholders it
expects to earn at least $20 a share by 2015.
And Intel leading the Nasdaq, after saying it expects to double
earnings growth in the next few years by expanding its chip sales into
smartphones and TVs.
Networking giant Cisco reporting just after the closing bell, beating
expectations on profits and revenue. Shares were an even 3 percent higher
at the close, moving slightly lower after hours.
Morgan Stanley shares skidding 2 percent on a report it‘s the target
of government investigation into its mortgage derivatives.
And gold prices hitting a record high again today, as investors look
for safety amid fluctuating euro—euro and the dollar.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We have a brand-new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll out tonight
that tells us a lot about what the country‘s thinking ahead of two weeks,
the big primaries coming up these weeks, next Tuesday, of course, and the
November‘s midterm coming up in November.
Chuck Todd‘s our expert, NBC News political director, and chief White
Here‘s the first tranche of numbers I want you to look at. Let‘s
start with the mood of the country. It‘s bad. Eighty-one percent are
dissatisfied with the economy. That number has been steady for a year now.
There‘s an even split now on who should control Congress, bad news for
the Democrats, 44 percent each, Republican or Democrat. That‘s only the
second time in seven years that Republicans have pulled even with the Dems.
And by 2-to-1, people say it‘s better to have the parties control one
party the White House and the other party the Congress.
What do you make of these numbers? I think there‘s a structural
advantage for Republicans. If it‘s even, it means the Republicans grab the
House, my thinking.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There‘s a—there‘s a
structural advantage for the out party, that‘s for sure, and for outsiders
And I want to take you inside those—that generic ballot number.
The enthusiasm gap, there‘s an 18-point gap. We asked people, you know,
how enthusiastic, on a scale of one to 10, are you to voting in November?
The nines and 10s are what we call likely voters. There‘s an 18-point gap
between Republicans being enthusiastic, saying nines and 10s, and
And, so, right now, the big worry among the White House, when you talk
to their guys, and to the Democratic Party committees is that there is this
enthusiasm gap. They can‘t get the Obama surge voters, they can‘t get some
rank-and-file Democratic voters fired up.
Is that why...
TODD: And that is what is missing.
MATTHEWS: Is that why the president has been laying up, as they say
in golf, on a couple issues? He‘s picked a safer choice for Supreme Court.
He‘s pulled back from his hard line on the Middle East with Israel. Have
you noticed over the last month—well, you notice everything.
MATTHEWS: It seems like he‘s pulling back from that sharp edge, big
TODD: Well, yes and no.
I mean, look, I think the reason on the court pick is because he still
wants to get one or two more big things out of this Congress. He—look,
the White House is not stupid. They know this could be the last three
months that they have this type of advantage...
MATTHEWS: I see.
TODD: ... in a Congress. So, if he wants to do energy and he wants
to do financial reform, those two big things, he can‘t clog up the system
with a controversial court nominee.
And I think that‘s why he went with—some people call it a safe
choice. I say it‘s a comfortable choice. He‘s comfortable in that he‘s
TODD: ... she‘s going to be somebody who will fight Roberts and, at
the same time, she will be somebody who is not going to rile up the base of
the Republicans too much.
MATTHEWS: I think you just gave away their strategy by not mentioning
immigration as one of the bills they want this year.
TODD: They don‘t want it, yes.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at why not. Here are the numbers.
They‘re devastating, immigration among all adults. More than 2-to-1
support the Arizona law, and almost 50 percent strongly support it, if you
look at the internal.
MATTHEWS: Among Hispanics—no surprise—they‘re the opposite.
About 70 percent oppose it. They feel they‘re threatened by this.
And the public generally agrees with them, all the public, rather.
Two in three people saying it‘s likely there will be some sort of
discrimination or profiling involved. And, of course, four out of five
Hispanics Latinos also agree. They believe it, too.
So, it seems to me the public are troubled by it in the sense it will
mean some perhaps nasty treatment of minorities, but they say, damn it,
this is the only way to make it work.
TODD: And I...
MATTHEWS: That seems to be their judgment.
TODD: There is. Let me get you through some short term/long term
inside the numbers on this. Among Hispanics, by the way, younger
Hispanics, Hispanics under 40 and under, they‘re more pro-Democratic and
more upset about this immigration law than Hispanics over 40. And the
thing that this concerns—our pollsters are saying this should concern
Republicans long term because they could lose a whole generation.
And I was talking to one Republican strategist earlier today about
this. And they said, you know, in California that Prop 187 back in 1994
had similar numbers. People were very supportive of it, overwhelmingly
supportive. Hispanics weren‘t. But overall, you saw those same numbers.
And a lot of Republicans say, oh, this won‘t be so bad. And yeah, it
helped them in ‘94. Pete Wilson got reelected in a land scale. The
Republicans did very well in the congressional ballot in California.
And guess what, California hasn‘t had a chance at a Republican winning
anything there statewide in a long time, outside of Schwarzenegger, and we
know how he had to do it. So it is—it is one of those things; short
term, immigration is playing well for the Republicans. You‘re seeing it in
rural districts pop up. This is not a good issue for Democrats in 2010.
The problem for the party is, what does it mean in 2012? What does it mean
in 2016, in a presidential year?
MATTHEWS: I wonder whether younger voters, Hispanic voters, and
citizens here are more militant about issues like assimilation? Are the
older voters more happy to basically learn the English faster. Any
indication of that in the polling, about general culture attitudes about
young and old?
TODD: There‘s not in the poll. I can tell you about my own
experience in Florida. There is a split there. You see the older, the
second and third generation Hispanics would sit there and say, you know
what, they‘re older Hispanics. They had to do it the hard way. They had
to go through the system, this and that. The younger Hispanics are saying,
wait a minute, this seems to be unfair. And while my parents or
grandparents went through it one way, this isn‘t going to be the way we
have to deal with it.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll have to study that. Anyway, the Gulf Coast oil spill
is the top news story that concerns people, seven points more than the
Times Square bomber even, and almost 20 points more than the immigration
law in Arizona we‘ve been talking about. That‘s the hot issue.
The spill is also the top corporate mess that bothers people, more so
than this sub prime mortgage mess or the other mess, Goldman Sachs. And
people are split on how the government‘s handling this bill, but the
government gets better marks than BP. Is this a somewhat of a Democratic
advantage here, go after BP?
TODD: Well I don‘t know if it‘s a Democratic advantage. Let me tell
you something more about these corporate numbers, what I found fascinating
about it is that this anger at Washington, it‘s also—there‘s anger up at
Wall Street and corporate America. And so there‘s this growing distrust
and that‘s part—I think that‘s part—partially feeding this sort of
anger at the system, the throw the bums out attitude.
It‘s all feeding into this same pessimism that you‘re seeing all
around the country. And I think it‘s why we saw the Bob Bennetts of the
world in trouble. We saw a Democratic congressman lose last night. Arlen
Specter and Blanche Lincoln in big, big, big trouble come Tuesday. And
it‘s all because there‘s this sense that like the people that have been
running things, whether it‘s corporate America or Washington America, get
them out. Let‘s try something different.
MATTHEWS: Are the numbers—are the numbers on the economy cooked
now, baked as you say, for the fall? People say by April, people make up
their mind about the economy. Look at this number, 81 percent dissatisfied
with the economy.
MATTHEWS: People think it is still a recession. Even if the economy
creates enough jobs to even knock that number down to, say, nine percent or
8.5 percent, will that influence voting, or are they already decided this
is a terrible time and they‘re going to vote negative?
TODD: I think it‘s amazing when you think about—think about all of
the good economic news that the public has heard about over the last six
weeks, since we went in. Over the last three months, not a single one of
it has changed perceptions of the way that people feel about the economy.
And I have to say if they—if it hasn‘t happened in the last three
months, then I tell you, it is hard to imagine that, unless something
dramatically happens—you‘ll have to see job gains of 500,000, 600,000 in
a month in these last three or four months before November.
So I have a feeling that it does feel like it‘s cooked. Look, this
thing—the only thing that I‘ll say is that the Republican parties—the
one thing that—they have one land mine and that‘s themselves at this
point. There is certainly a sense out there that people, they want—they
certainly want to throw the bums out, and the Democrats are the ones
sitting there. But there isn‘t a positive feel toward the Republican party
like there was in 1994. And that‘s what makes it, I say, Buffalo
Springfield new best. There‘s something happening out here, Chris, but
what it is ain‘t exactly clear yet.
MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you two things anecdotally. People are still
getting laid off. People my age or younger even are getting laid off. And
number two, housing values are not going up for most houses. You can‘t
sell a house for more than a year or two ago. It‘s not happening. That‘s
reality check. Chuck Todd, thank you.
Up next, Republican hypocrisy, and I mean it. Some the same
Republicans who today are criticizing Elena Kagan‘s lack of bench
experience found that lack of bench experience refreshing when George W.
Bush picked two—tried to pick Harriet Miers, for example. We got the
record to show this. They were for her because she wasn‘t a judge. Now
they‘re against Elena Kagan because she wasn‘t a judge.
Anyway, but in one minute, we‘ve got some proof that Arlen Specter
wasn‘t the ardent supporter of Democrat Ed Rendell that he claimed to be,
at least not in public. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Earlier in the show, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
told me that he voted for Ed Rendell for governor. He‘s a Democrat for
governor in 2002 and 2006. Well, while Specter may have secretly voted for
the Democrat Rendell, and he probably did, in 2006 he publicly supported
the campaign of Rendell‘s opponent, Lynn Swann. Check out this from “the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” in 2006, “in a meeting with the Post Gazette‘s
editorial board, the five-term senator, Specter, said he‘s supporting Mr.
Swann‘s campaign to unseat Governor Ed Rendell” By the way, he also took
a shot at Rendell‘s gambling proposals at that moment.
More HARDBALL after this. I love this stuff.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. The same Republicans who are questioning
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan‘s lack of judicial experience had no
problem with Harriet Miers‘ inexperience in the bench when George W. Bush
nominated her five years ago. Take Senator John Cornyn of Texas, for
instance. Earlier this week, he said, “Ms. Kagan is a surprising choice
because she lacks judicial experience. Most Americans believe that prior
judicial experience is a necessary credential for a Supreme Court justice.”
Well, when President Bush nominated Miers five years ago, Senator
Cornyn said, quote, “one reason I felt so strongly about Harriet Myers
qualifications is I thought she would fill some very important gaps in the
Supreme Court, because right now you have people who have been federal
judges, circuit judges most of their lives, or academicians.”
So can Republicans get away with knocking Kagan for the very same
reason they liked about Miers. Jonathan Turley is a law professor at
George Washington University. Jonathan, your chuckling at the absolute
absurdity of this hypocrisy. Cornyn is a party guy, fair enough. He‘s a
Bush guy, fair enough. But here he‘s caught saying 180 against what he
said before. It‘s not refreshing, in this case, to have somebody off the
bench. It‘s not good.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Well, you
know, the real mistake I think is assuming that we have a standard resume
for justices. If anything, our current court is by—too far homogenous
in terms of their social, religious, educational backgrounds. We really
benefit from having different influences, different backgrounds.
I think it‘s ludicrous to say that judicial experience is necessary.
Louis Brandeis came directly from practice. He‘s considered if not the
greatest justice of all time, one of the greatest. Thurgood Marshall, Hugo
Black, Earl Warren, all of those should be cautionary examples for putting
so much importance on judicial experience.
MATTHEWS: So, Jonathan, what does this tell you about the hearings?
It looks to me like, if this is all they have got in their blunderbuss,
nothing‘s going to happen. You can‘t defeat a candidate for Supreme Court
on the grounds that they don‘t meet your specks, can you?
TURLEY: You know, I did an op-ed today—actually both “USA Today”
and “L.A. Times,” talking about the confirmation process. This is a
process that‘s really perfectly nauseating for academics. It has the
substance of a Big Gulp Slurpee. There‘s nothing there. The centers of
both sides ask platitudes and get similar responses from the nominee.
Most of the objections to Kagan is coming from the left. The
Democrats are never going to pursue those inquiries. They‘re going to be
defending the nominee, avoiding those questions. What you have is a
process that‘s virtually devoid of content. It makes “American Idol” look
like a substantive inquiry.
MATTHEWS: Why did the president lay back on this? Why did he not go
for a leader, apparently? There was lots of talk on this program, lots of
it, enthusiasm from me and lots of our guests about the prospect of having
a true progressive leader join the court and become a leader of five,
including Anthony Kennedy, and not just the four progressives, and really
changing the court and bringing it back to its exciting landmark days. Can
Elena Kagan do that?
TURLEY: I‘m not quite confident that she can. The important thing is
that these nominations become a comparison of nominees to themselves. They
don‘t allow comparisons to those people that were not selected. There were
a great number of leaders that Obama passed by who happened to be quite
liberal. What‘s amazing is that the White House is continuing to talk
about wanting to get someone like Scalia from the left.
MATTHEWS: Where‘s that person? They‘re not there. She‘s not that.
TURLEY: You get someone who has a proven history of being a leader,
proven views. The conservatives tend to do that. They tend to find people
with confirmed conservative views. The liberals simply don‘t do that.
They look for the most confirmable, instead of the best candidate.
MATTHEWS: How about charisma? Have you ever spent any time with
Scalia? I know you have. He‘s amazingly attractive as a person. You can
disagree about original intent up the gazoo. I‘ve spent some time with
him. He‘s absolutely charismatic. He‘s a charmer. In many ways, he
reminds me of the guys I grew up with, my dads friends, Knights of
Columbus, Italian guys, Irish guys, regular, regular, regular, but with a
big mind. He just is a very—I would think over lunch hanging around the
office, he‘d be a very attractive intellectual leader.
Can Elena Kagan arouse that kind of interest hanging around the court?
Will she be able to lead the minds over there?
TURLEY: I don‘t see that in her writings. In fact, civil
libertarians are uncomfortable with some of her writings, particularly in
free speech. But I also don‘t see that type of clarity of purpose or
thought that we saw with Scalia. This business about, you know, someone
who can reach over the aisle and get compromise, I mean, that‘s really
silly. I mean—
TURLEY: Scalia and Kennedy, even Kennedy, are not going to say, you
know what, I really like Elena so I‘m going to separate the church and
state a little more.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t debase my thought, professor. I‘m talking about
intellectual charisma. For example, when you brought Earl Warren on the
court, and you joined up with Frankfurter, and you saw inherently in the
Constitution that separate but equal wasn‘t equal, that kind of thinking.
Or to see that the idea of pursuit of happiness and the basic founding
documents said same-sex marriage should be on the table. I‘m sorry.
That‘s my argument.
TURLEY: You know, Warren—Warren was able to convince his
colleagues the importance of all of them voting heavily in this regard, but
MATTHEWS: We‘re heavy. Jonathan, please come back. More on this.
We‘re out of time. But it‘s great to have you on. We have an argument,
you and I.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about the spill in the
Gulf of Mexico and how it all goes back to Dick Cheney. You‘re watching
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. It really does.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some unfinished business. Dick
Cheney was CEO of Halliburton before running for vice president in the year
2000. At the time he left Halliburton, he received some kind of bonus or
whatever amounting to 34 million dollars.
That raised questions. There would be more. When he got into the
White House, Cheney held secret meetings with the big oil companies,
including BP. He held a separate meeting with BP CEO. None of the
business conducted in those meetings was permitted to leak outside.
You see, in the cozy world of oil and those charged by public oath
with regulating it, these are leaks that can be prevented. Halliburton is
now saying it‘s not to blame for what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. How
on Earth are we to know who was responsible for this in this incredibly
incestuous little set up?
We have the V.P. of our country, fresh from his job as CEO of the oil
company, holding secret meetings with oil companies in the White House.
From top to bottom, the government President Obama inherited was stocked
with Halliburton people, supposedly looking at Halliburton, while the whole
thing looks like they were looking out for Halliburton. Don‘t you think?
Years ago, I wrote a long investigative piece about how the oil
industry, the pipeline industry, had just one employee in the entire U.S.
government looking at 200,000 miles of oil pipeline. It smells like we‘ve
got the same deal going offshore. Cheney needs to testify. Not in the
clubby way he did in the Scooter Libby leak deal, in a backroom with W
sitting alongside to keep their stories straight. In this leak case,
involving the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, he needs to be under the
lights and under oath.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with
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