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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Eric Boehlert, Ryan Grimm, Doug Wilder, John  Heilemann, Scott
Stringer, Dan Senor, John Hofmeister
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Fox and friends.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. 

Leading off tonight: Indecent proposal.  Not content with dating, a leading tea party candidate now wants to marry Fox News.  Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate hopeful in Nevada, has asked Fox to ask her the questions she wants to answer.  She wants the right-leaning network to basically lay down for her and let her use it as her election platform.
Here she is stating her prenup demands to Carl Cameron.
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  We needed to have the press be our friend.
CARL CAMERON, FOX CORRESPONDENT:  Wait a minute.  Hold on a second. 
To be your friend?
ANGLE:  Well, truly—
CAMERON:  It sounds naive.
ANGLE:  Well, no.  We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported.  And when I get on a show, and I say, Send money to—
ANGLE:  -- so that your listeners will know that if they want to support me, they need to—
CAMERON:  All right.  All right.
ANGLE:  -- go to
MATTHEWS:  That is the most incredible 26 seconds in television history for a long time.  There is a political candidate who thinks a network‘s job is to set her up like a stooge, to give her the questions she gives the right answers to, which she‘s already written out.  Amazing stuff.  The talking points.  And then she wants to have us serve as—or Fox, at least, to serve as the way for her to raise money.  I get the idea Fox is supposed to go along with that marriage.
Plus—I wonder how they got the idea that Fox would do it.
Plus: Who is Doug Wilder and why is he saying such terrible things about Joe Biden?  Where did the former governor of Virginia come off asking President Obama to dump the most loyal guy on his team?  And what‘s with this idea of putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket next time?  Wouldn‘t that make Obama a lame duck?  Wouldn‘t it make Hillary and Bill Clinton the heir apparents and Obama a transitional Democratic president squeezed between the Clintons?
Also, an Islamic center has been cleared for construction two blocks from the World Trade Center, with the mayor‘s approval.  What‘s all the car honking about?  Isn‘t New York City for everybody?  Isn‘t this America?  Or is Ground Zero already sacred territory for we Americans, and given what happened on 9/11, just no place nor a mosque.  We‘ll debate that hot one tonight.
And now that BP has begun finally killing the well in the gulf, here‘s my question.  Why can‘t the U.S. Congress take action to at least try to prevent it from happening again?  Why is a filibuster more important than the preservation of our country?
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with what many believe are the three scariest words in the English language, President Sarah Palin.
Let‘s start with Sharron Angle wanting Fox to ask her the questions she wants to answer.  Eric Boehlert is with Media Matters and Ryan Grimm is with The Huffington Post.  Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.  I am rarely stunned by a comment made by a politician, but this Sharron Angle, who never—well, never ceases to amaze me, may have even stunned a reputable reporter like Carl Cameron by proposing to him that his—he and his kind, meaning us—well, certainly Fox—ask her the questions that allow her to give her pre-answered or pre-written answers.
What do you think, Eric, of this travesty that she‘s offering people like Fox to participate in, maybe particularly Fox?
ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA:  Well, the amazing thing is Fox has already done it.  That‘s what made her comments so peculiar, unusual, and sort of—it was odd that Carl Cameron sort of rolled his eyes.  Fox News has been doing that for months for Sharron Angle, softball questions, no follow-ups, an open platform, more importantly, to fund-raise.
Fox News is sort of the opposition party, and this is one of the most obvious examples.  They have candidates on not to interview them or perform any sort of journalism but to say, Here, raise money off your appearance, and we‘ll just sort of give you softball questions.  So the fact is, Fox has been—
MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s—
BOEHLERT:  -- doing this for months.
MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s dating, but I‘ve never heard anybody propose it as a marriage agreement.
MATTHEWS:  I mean, she wants it on paper, Ryan.  She wants Fox to say (INAUDIBLE) From now on, I‘m going to give you the cues, basically, not questions, cues that you‘ve already got the written answers for so you can raise money here.  What‘s your thought about this absolute proposal now for a deal between Fox and the tea party?
RYAN GRIMM, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  Well, You almost have to feel sorry for Sharron Angle because she‘s been treated with kid gloves by the conservative media for so long that you can almost forgive her for thinking that there is some kind of alliance there between these two.
But you know, this isn‘t the kind of thing that Sharron Angle needs.  I was just out in Nevada, interviewing voters out there, and over and over, what I kept hearing was that people were—they didn‘t like Harry Reid.  They were upset at their economic circumstances.  But they did not want Sharron Angle because, they just kept saying, This woman is crazy.
GRIMM:  And for her to keep saying these things on camera—because that‘s what kills you in this media environment.  You says these things in a press release, you say them even in an audio recording—
GRIMM:  -- you‘re probably going to be OK.  You say them on camera, they‘re going to get played over and over again.
MATTHEWS:  Well, just so people know we‘re fair, let‘s listen again to what Sharron Angle actually said, again, to a reputable reporter, Carl Cameron, who looked actually stunned by the idea someone would want this official, as an agreement, to set her up with the simple questions so she could give her pre-written answers.  Here it is, that 26 seconds we‘re not going to forget.
ANGLE:  We needed to have the press be our friend.
CAMERON:  Wait a minute.  Hold on a second.  To be your friend?
ANGLE:  Well, truly—
CAMERON:  It sounds naive.
ANGLE:  Well, no.  We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported.  And when I get on a show, and I say, Send money to—
ANGLE:  -- so that your listeners will know that if they want to support me, they need to—
CAMERON:  All right.  All right.
ANGLE:  -- go to
MATTHEWS:  Believe it or not, it sounds odd to use the word, but there‘s a logical progression for the way this candidate thinks about the role of the media.  Here she was on the Christian Broadcasting corporation about a month ago, saying that the reason she would do interviews is to raise money.  In other words, to come on and say, Here‘s my dot-com number.  Send me money.  And the only reason I go on the air, she says, is to get the stooge, basically, to set her up to raise money.  That‘s what she thinks a TV interview is.
Here she is on the Christian Broadcasting Network about an month ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When you‘re on Fox News or talking to more conservative outlets, but maybe not going on “Meet the Press,” or you know, “This Week,” those types of shows, then the perception and the narrative starts to be, like, you‘re avoiding those mainstream media outlets.
ANGLE:  Well, in that audience, will they let me say, I need $25 from a million people, go to, send me money?  Will they let me say that?  Will I get a bump in my—on my Web site?  And you can watch whenever I go on to a show like that, we get an immediate bump.
MATTHEWS:  Eric, Media Matters has got to catch up with the state of the art here!
MATTHEWS:  The purpose of a TV or a press interview is—
BOEHLERT:  Make money!
MATTHEWS:  -- to give somebody a bump—a bump in their fund-raising.  That‘s the purpose.  I guess we‘re missing out on this, Eric.  We don‘t know what the new rules are.
BOEHLERT:  Well, listen—
MATTHEWS:  Fox is now being (INAUDIBLE) I think even Fox, I‘m sure Roger Ailes says, What the hell?  You don‘t put this in writing, damn it.  You may give a candidate a break now and then, but you don‘t write down the deal, like she seems to want it written as a marriage contract—
MATTHEWS:  -- Give me easy questions.
BOEHLERT:  And this is part of the larger trend.  For the tea party movement, this is how they view the press.  It‘s not an information function.  They do not see the press as being legitimate.  This is a statewide candidate that refuses to talk to reporters.  These are people who don‘t think the press represent the people or have any function in our democracy.
MATTHEWS:  Well, what is the role—
BOEHLERT:  The press plays—
MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s be—
BOEHLERT:  -- a very specific role and they want to delegitimize it completely.
MATTHEWS:  Eric, let‘s be blunt.  What does she think the role of Fox is?  You can do it, Ryan.  What does this woman, based upon what we‘re just listening to, two occasions now, think the role of Fox News is?  It‘s to help her candidacy.
GRIMM:  Right.  And we should be applauding her for her honesty because this is very clearly exactly what she thinks.  She thinks that Fox is there to help her candidacy.  Can you imagine how much fun our political system would be if people were this honest all the time?  I mean, the only person that I‘ve seen do anything remotely like this was when Scott Brown first came to the Senate, we asked him, you know, Why are you pushing back on this Volcker rule?  Is it for Fidelity in Massachusetts?  He said, Well, it‘s not just Fidelity, and then he named, like, four other banks that he was trying to help out in Massachusetts.  That‘s the kind of—
GRIMM:  That‘s the kind of honesty that is just terrific from candidates and politicians.
MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, Michael Kinsley—
GRIMM:  We need more of it.
MATTHEWS:  Michael Kinsley, the great liberal columnist—he is a liberal and a—neo-liberal, I guess he is particularly.  And his great line is, A gaffe in Washington is when you tell the truth.
Here she is making—what do you—I want to ask you a larger thing, Eric, now that I have you on, and also Ryan.  We just looked at the Gallup poll, the highest favorabilities among Republican potential candidates—potential candidates—for 2012 -- I mean, potentially.  We don‘t know who‘s going to run.  Palin, Newt and Mike Huckabee—that‘s the top three.
GRIMM:  Right.
MATTHEWS:  All three are on the payroll of Fox—
GRIMM:  Absolutely!
MATTHEWS:  -- as commentators.  But you have to ask yourself—these people have a lot of options.  Are they on there as candidates?  Are they using Fox as a platform, the way that Sharron thinks she can use it as a candidate—
GRIMM:  Right.
MATTHEWS:  -- for 2010?  In other words, is she a little ahead of schedule?  They‘re looking towards 2012 using Fox, she‘s trying to use it openly and flagrantly—
GRIMM:  Right.  Right.
MATTHEWS:  -- as a vehicle for reelection—or for election to the United States Senate.
GRIMM:  Right.  The Fox Green Room is now sort of the GOP convention
in waiting for 2012.  They‘re all on the payroll.  I think they‘re all—
they want to use it to make a lot of money either on Fox News or with books
or appearances.  And then they‘re just going to sort of wait and see how it
see how it plays out.  In the meantime, they‘ve got this national audience whenever they want it.  They‘ve got a paycheck, and they‘ve got the Fox News, you know, recommendation or seal of approval.

GRIMM:  It‘s perfect for them as they wait.
MATTHEWS:  Do you know—a little reporting required here.  Does either of you gentlemen know whether Fox actually has to get the pre-approval of these candidates—they are candidates—before they put the questions to them on the air?  In other words, when Palin comes on, does she get the deal that Sharron Angle‘s asked for, pre-approved questions so that she can give the answer that she‘s written down?
GRIMM:  I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS:  Is that the deal with these three people, that they have to know ahead of time what the question is?
BOEHLERT:  I don‘t think so.  I think Palin was on Chris Wallace this weekend, and my hunch is she didn‘t know.  That‘s just my guess.
MATTHEWS:  You mean—but that‘s why she had to have the question answered on her hand!
MATTHEWS:  She must have had some idea of what was coming.  She had written the answer on her hand!  I mean, maybe that was just a good guess, Ryan.  I don‘t know what—you don‘t know what I‘m going to ask you, so you can‘t put it on your hand.  But if you have a good hunch of where it‘s at, then you can—you only got two frickin‘ hands!  You only got two possible answers!  She‘s ready with the left hand already!
GRIMM:  Well, if you remember from—if you remember from the last time—not the most recent time but the time before that that she got caught writing on her hand—what she had written down was her core principles.
GRIMM:  So you know, it‘s not that she‘s even—you know, writes down

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t need a baseball glove for that, do you!  Just a little palm will do.  Go ahead.
GRIMM:  Right.  So what you were talking about earlier is interesting, though, because it used to be, you know, when governments would go into exile, the Republicans would go to somewhere like Heritage, Democrats would go to different graduate schools and they‘d go to Brookings, recently the Center for American Progress.  But it seems to be that Fox is the new place for the Republican government in exile.
MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Sarah Palin with Chris Wallace on “Fox Sunday.”  It‘s a fascinating bit of what we‘re talking about here, this interesting—we don‘t have that.
Let‘s ask this question, then I want to get (INAUDIBLE) We‘ll end this up.  Eric, you do this for a living.  You check this out on—where are we headed with this now?  How far will these candidates go in expecting networks, especially Fox in the case of the right wing, to do their bidding and set them up, basically, as stooges, asking questions, prearranged questions, prearranged answers?
BOEHLERT:  Fox is doing it all the time.  I mean, they‘re having politicians all the time.  And we‘re going to see it in the run-up to November.  They‘re going to have their hand-picked selection of sort of golden candidates that they want to win in the fall.  They‘re going to have those people in all the time.  They did it with Rand Paul.  They did it with other candidates during primary season.  They pick who they want to win, and they have them in all the time.  It‘s free airtime.  Ask any consultant—
MATTHEWS:  How is this any different—
BOEHLERT:  -- that stuff is.
MATTHEWS:  -- than Victoria Jackson talking with Meredith Baxter Birney about different foundations in make-up?  How‘s it any different than a infomercial, Ryan?  I used to watch them.  They were attractive.  I liked watching both of them.  But they were basically a joke, one person asking another person, So how do you like our make-up products?  And then they‘d do this for, like, an hour.  That‘s what it reminded me of, what she seems to want.  Sharron Angle wants to be an infomercial.
GRIMM:  Yes, I think—
MATTHEWS:  Doing cosmetics or something, or any other product.
GRIMM:  Yes, the best way to think about Fox now is as a very well produced and entertaining political operation that also does employ some good journalists, like Carl Cameron that you mentioned.
MATTHEWS:  And Wallace, yes.
GRIMM:  But over—right.  They have plenty of final journalists, but overall, they‘re a well-produced political operation.  And that couldn‘t have been any more clear than today, and it‘s disappointing to people like Carl Cameron, I‘m sure, who—who—you know, you saw the look on his face when she was saying—he‘s, like, What?
GRIMM:  Are you kidding me?
MATTHEWS:  I‘ll throw Shepard Smith and Bill Hemmer in there, too. 
There‘s a—
GRIMM:  Sure.
MATTHEWS:  There‘s a good list of real journalists—
GRIMM:  Sure.  Absolutely.
MATTHEWS:  -- working over there.  But the whole culture seems to be based upon what Sharron Angle wants.  And what she demands, she may be getting along the way.
Thank you very much, Eric Boehlert and Ryan Grimm, an interesting segment about where we‘re at right now in terms of media and independence.
Coming up: A few conservatives have floating the idea—conservatives have been floating the idea that President Obama should dump Vice President Joe Biden and replace him next time around with Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state.  Well, that was sort of mischief, we thought, but now a high-profile Democrat, the former governor of Virginia, is pushing this argument on print.  He wants to see a replacement game here.  Former Virginia governor Doug Wilder, as I said, wants to explain that when he comes on next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS:  You‘ll love this.  A new Gallup poll just came out naming the most liberal states and the most conservative states.  First the top 10 liberal states, which have the highest percentage of people who call themselves liberal.  Number 10, New Jersey, 9, Washington state, then Oregon, then New York, then Colorado, then Massachusetts, number 4, Vermont, number 3, Connecticut, number 2, Rhody—Rhode Island—and the most liberal state isn‘t a state at all, it‘s the District of Columbia, where more than 4 in 10 say they‘re liberal.
Also, the top most conservative states, which will not surprise you anymore than these did, coming up in the hour.  We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Former Virginia governor Doug Wilder wrote a piece Monday for “Politico” with the headline “Obama/Clinton ticket for 2012.”  Here‘s some of what Wilder wrote.
Quote, “Can all the president‘s political ills be laid at Biden‘s feet?  No.  But Obama must look through his administration and make a wholesale change.  The vice president should not be immune.  Clinton is better suited as the political and government partner that Obama needs.”
And today Vice President Biden‘s home town paper, “The News Journal” in Wilmington, Delaware, slapped that story on the front page with the headline, “Dump Biden, former Virginia governor urges Obama.”  That story had reaction from the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who described Biden as “an integral part of this administration” and said “he is and will continue to be a trusted partner for President Obama.”
So what‘s this all about?  Governor Wilder joins us now from Richmond.  Governor Wilder, why would you do something about a fellow Democrat?  You basically said, Dump Biden.
DOUG WILDER (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR:  What I basically said was, if Obama wants to win, then he needs to evaluate what those chances are.  You‘ve been talking about polls all day.  Every day we pick up the news, every time we look at anything.  You‘re talking about polls.  People are saying the country‘s in the wrong direction.  People are saying the president‘s poll numbers are going down.  People are without jobs.  They‘re looking for help.
And everything needs to have some start.  The one thing in politics we know is that one word definition, money.  The other thing is the game is winning.  And what does the president need to do to win?  I would seriously question whether Hillary would ever challenge President Obama, recognizing what Ted Kennedy did, and neither one would have been able to have won in that—
MATTHEWS:  Would you back her, if she did?  Would you back her, if she did?
WILDER:  At this point—at this point, I have supported the president.  I supported him over her when she ran.  I have said nothing to indicate that I would change that support for the president.  What I‘m trying to do is to say that she‘s been a good and loyal partner.  She has been there when she‘s—look at those poll numbers!
MATTHEWS:  OK, let me—
MATTHEWS:  Governor, I‘m talking to a pol, I‘m talking to a very successful politician.  You‘re the first African-American governor of Virginia.  You‘re a trailblazer.  But let me ask you this question.  It‘s so easy to answer.
MATTHEWS:  If he were to do what you recommend, or even hint he‘s going to do it, he‘d basically be saying, Look forward, Hillary Clinton‘s going to run for president in 2016.  She‘ll run.  She‘ll have eight years.  So basically, I‘m going to be a lame duck transitional president and I‘m going to be on the way to eight more years of the Clintons.  I‘ll be stuffed somewhere between the two Clinton Democratic presidencies.  That‘s not exactly the transformational presidency he‘s promised.
WILDER:  He‘s not—
WILDER:  -- had two years yet, Chris.  Look, he‘s not even had two years yet.  So, he‘s got another two years, plus four years.  That‘s six years for him to put his imprimatur on the nation as he would like.
MATTHEWS:  When do you want him to make—when do you want him to make this announcement? 
WILDER:  Oh, he‘s got time.  I don‘t expect him to make this decision within the next six months or the next year or so. 
WILDER:  What this does, it suggests that there‘s a time to consider what‘s necessary for winning.  And I think, if you looked at it—and look at the gaffes.  And I‘m going to leave the gaffes—
MATTHEWS:  What do you do with the body?  What do you do with the body, Governor?  What do you do with the body?  What do you do with Biden? 
WILDER:  What do I do with the—
MATTHEWS:  The body, because you‘re killing this guy politically. 
WILDER:  The president can speak to him about it. 
Let me ask you a question.  Do you think Joe Biden could run for president and win? 
MATTHEWS:  No, not now.  He ran and lost. 
WILDER:  That‘s—and threat‘s what I‘m—and if that‘s the case, then why would you want to keep him around for four more years?  And, at the end of that time, do you think he could run and win?
MATTHEWS:  OK, then you‘re basically saying—that‘s what I think you‘re saying.  And thank you for making it clear.  You‘re basically saying this president, Barack Obama, would have it in his interest to name his successor, Hillary Clinton?
WILDER:  That‘s exactly right.  You got it, as you always do. 
MATTHEWS:  I know what I‘m doing here, Governor.  And you‘re a great guy. 
WILDER:  I know you do.
MATTHEWS:  Thank you for letting me know where you stand. 
MATTHEWS:  You want Hillary to be president more—you want Hillary to be president, and you want this president to make—here‘s my last question, really short. 
WILDER:  Right. 
MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think Hillary Clinton would accept the same role that Joe Biden has now?  It would be more of a coalition, partnership presidency if she were in that job, right? 
WILDER:  I think the ultimate question is whether she would accept four more years as secretary of state.  I don‘t see her doing that. 
WILDER:  So, if that‘s the case, then how do you fill that position? 
And what do you do in that transitional period?
MATTHEWS:  Well, I think she‘s been great. 
WILDER:  She has been great.
MATTHEWS:  Look, I‘m going to join the fan club here.  I think she‘s been great.  I think she‘s a great secretary of state.  I‘m listening to all this discussion.  I also really like Joe Biden.
MATTHEWS:  But thank you for causing trouble on HARDBALL, because -- 
WILDER:  I like him, too.  I like him, too, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- trouble is what—we fish in troubled waters, Governor. 
MATTHEWS:  Thank you for coming on. 
WILDER:  Always good.
MATTHEWS:  But you are a big Democrat and you‘re making noise here.
John Heilemann covers politics for “New York” magazine.  He wrote “Game Change.”
Talk about a game change, Heilemann.  You even start whispering this in certain quarters, and you‘re going to make the Delaware Democrats like Biden, the Scranton Democrats, all the people that like Biden a little bit upset at dumping the most loyal guy on the team, you might say. 
JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK”:  It‘s true.  And there‘s no question that
the thing that I think Governor Wilder is wrong about—and he made a point in his piece about how Joe Biden had been a political liability to the White House.

Certainly, the White House doesn‘t see it that way.  And they—and they love Biden over there.  And I think the president and the vice president are very close.  So, I don‘t think there‘s an active consideration of this.  And I don‘t think that they are thinking about it.
If they ever get to the point of thinking about it, it won‘t be thinking about dumping Biden.  I think the answer to your question, Chris, about what do you do with the body is that this would be portrayed as the big job switch. 
You would have Joe Biden, who originally wanted to be secretary of state more than he wanted to be vice president, he would be saying, look, I have done four years, three years, four years, three-and-a-half years as vice president.  I‘m ready to go be secretary of state now.  Hillary Clinton would make the switch over. 
And you can see the political advantages.  The thing that Governor Wilder is right about and I know that you see is that it‘s possible that, in 2012, what President Obama will need most of all is to be able to connect to a set of voters, particularly white working-class and rural voters, that he has trouble with.
HEILEMANN:  And there would be no bigger asset for him than not just Hillary Clinton on the ticket, but having both Clintons out full force on his side in 2012. 
MATTHEWS:  Even if it means—even if it means laying the groundwork for a Clinton ascendancy? 
HEILEMANN:  I think she‘s going to run in 2016, no matter what. 
MATTHEWS:  An interesting thought from you.
HEILEMANN:  And she‘s going to—and she‘s going to run in 2016.  And she‘s going to—right now, the schedule, I think, for her is, she will do four years and four years only as secretary of state. 
And if she is an outgoing secretary of state, a lame-duck secretary of state in 2012, she won‘t be in the political position to really help Obama.  She will do thinking about doing something like going and becoming the chancellor of the University of Iowa to set herself up to run for 2016. 
MATTHEWS:  I agree.
HEILEMANN:  So, Obama is faced with the notion of Clinton following him anyway.  So, why not make the best of that situation and put it to his advantage? 
MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.  I had never heard this before.  All her people deny that, of course, right?
HEILEMANN:  Well, of course they do. 
MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s fascinating.  I think she‘s done a great job.
HEILEMANN:  I don‘t think there‘s almost anybody who believes them.
MATTHEWS:  And I agree with you.  I think she would help him in Pennsylvania, help in Ohio.  And, by the way, I think the general election of 2012 now looks like a nail-biter, closely run.  It will have to be.  You‘re right. 
And they are not going to win much south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  They have got to win those old Democratic states that the Clintons are dominant in, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, et cetera, et cetera, New York.  She would ground him up.
I just think it has to be handled the way you say if it ever does come to pass.
MATTHEWS:  Joe Biden has got to be happy with this. 
MATTHEWS:  He‘s got to have a smile on his face.  And he‘s got to say, I can‘t wait to get to Foggy Bottom and be secretary of state, convincingly, if this ever happens. 
HEILEMANN:  And I think he could say that, Chris, because, as you know, before Obama urged him to become vice president, picked him, that was what Biden had his eye on.  He wanted to be secretary of state. 
MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a great job.
HEILEMANN:  He‘s wanted to be secretary of state his whole life. 
And on the question of what has to happen in 2012, I think you‘re exactly right.  I think it‘s going to be a nail-biter.  You remember, Barack Obama won, what, 42 or 43 percent of the white vote, a really high percentage of the white vote, better than John Kerry—
HEILEMANN: -- better than Al Gore in 2000. 
He‘s right now running at about 35 percent approval rating with the white vote.  And if he‘s going to—you can‘t win the presidency with 35 percent of the white vote. 
HEILEMANN:  He needs to do something to solve that problem.  Joe Biden is good with those people—
HEILEMANN: -- but Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are better. 
MATTHEWS:  Well, this will be the ultimate example of President Obama being a transactional politician.  I‘ll tell you, it looks a little cold on the outside.  You may be able to warm it up, John Heilemann.
MATTHEWS:  You would have another “Game Change.”
Thank you.  Congratulations, the best book on politics.  Nancy Reagan
I was just out there at the Reagan Library—she loves your book.  And I know this will offend you as somewhat of a liberal writer, but she says, Ronnie would have loved it, too.  There‘s a—he‘s a pol, too.

Your thoughts?
HEILEMANN:  Mark and I love Nancy Reagan.  And that‘s very nice of you to say.  And—
MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m always nice to you. 
MATTHEWS:  Governor Wilder, you just heard it.  It looks like you‘re a nice guy tonight. 
Anyway, up next:  Kentucky‘s Republican Senate candidate, Rand Paul, is out there with another head-scratcher.  That‘s ahead. 
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  
MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 
First, Basil Marceaux thinks—well, he‘s make late-night debut.  You will remember him.  He‘s the Tennessee candidate for governor, a Republican, who wants to get rid of gun permits and let everyone carry. 
Well, Mr. Marceaux has just escalated.  Last night, he said people should be required to bear arms.  Here he is on “Jimmy Kimmel.”
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  First of all, you say—you believe everyone should carry guns? 
BASIL MARCEAUX ®, TENNESSEE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  That‘s correct.  After reading the Constitution, it says we have rights to bear arms against our government. 
KIMMEL:  Right. 
KIMMEL:  Would people be required to—to—to—bear arms?  Would they have to have guns?
MARCEAUX:  Well, if they didn‘t have one, they couldn‘t represent themselves to protect themselves against the government.  So—
MARCEAUX:  I would probably fine them $10 if they don‘t have—
KIMMEL:  You would fine them? 
MARCEAUX:  Right.  I would have these little investigators out on the street with no power -- 
KIMMEL:  Right. 
MARCEAUX: -- and say, hey, get them to show you a gun.  If they don‘t have one, I‘m going to fine them 10 bucks.
MATTHEWS:  Ten bucks if you don‘t carry a gun, the ultimate right-winger.  He wants everyone to have a gun, be forced by law to have a gun, and use it if necessary against the government. 
He wants to have people the right to carry their guns against the government.  He wants the entire population to be in a sense an armed militia standing guns loaded against the government.
He wakes the makings, let‘s face it, of an insurrection.
Next:  There he goes again.  Kentucky Republican nominee for Senate Rand Paul is against federal mine safety regulation in principle.  He says the mines should be in charge of their own safety. 
Here‘s what he said during a tour of Kentucky mining country when asked about deadly mining accidents like the horrific one we saw this April in West Virginia—quote—“The bottom line is, I‘m not an expert, so don‘t give me the power in Washington to be making rules.  You live here.  And you have to work in the mines.  You try to make good rules to protect your people here.  If you don‘t, I‘m thinking that‘s—no one will apply for these jobs.”
Geez, this guy is simple.  Government is unnecessary, he believes.  We don‘t need it.  He‘s a true libertarian.  Rand Paul, you might see he‘s an extreme one. 
Now for tonight‘s “Number.”  How many Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is a mistake?  This number is going up -- 43 percent, a new high.  That‘s a 5 percentage point jump from just a few weeks ago, before the Afghanistan papers got out and hit the front page.
Forty-three percent now—and rising—think President Bush was wrong to take the country into Afghanistan and President Obama was wrong to escalate U.S. involvement there—tonight‘s big, pretty bad number. 
Up next:  A Muslim group planning to build an Islamic center just blocks from ground zero in New York City gets one step closer.  They may be about to build it.  Some 9/11 families are outraged.  We will debate the ground zero mosque next. 
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Amanda Drury with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks pulling back a bit on a mixed round of earning reports today, the Dow Jones industrials falling 38 points, the S&P 500 slipping five, and the Nasdaq losing 12 points. 
Investors digesting an avalanche of quarterly reports today.  Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble posting a sharp drop in profits, despite rising sales and a solid outlook.  Homebuilder D.R. Horton swinging to a profit, but still coming up short of expectations.  Dow Chemical missing on profits, but beating on revenue. 
And Pfizer shares among the winners today, after beating on earnings and revenue.
CBS and video game maker Electronic Arts both reporting after the closing bell and both beating expectations on the top and bottom line.  Electronic Arts shares are surging after-hours on an unusually strong forecast. 
And in economic news, consumer spending and income were flat in June, while factory orders fell.  Pending home sales plunged to a record low. 
That is it from CNBC.  We are first in business worldwide.  And now it is back to HARDBALL. 
MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A plan to build an Islamic center near ground zero got permission to move forward today.  But the proposal has drawn fierce opposition from families of 9/11 victims and high-profile conservatives, from Sarah Palin to Newt Gingrich.
So, is this center an insult to 9/11 victims and their families, or would it actually counter Islamic extremism? 
Dan Senor is opposed to the location of the Muslim Center.  He‘s a senior fellow at Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior adviser to the coalition forces over in Iraq.
Dan, thank you for joining us. 
And Scott Stringer is the Manhattan Borough president. 
Let‘s start with what I would call the tolerant position.  And then we will go to the more ferocious position.  I think we can agree on that. 
Mr. President, Mr. Stringer, why would you want to allow what looks to be a provocative move by a religious group to put a religious—an Islamic center on the grounds where an Islamic zealot group killed 3,000 Americans? 
SCOTT STRINGER (D), MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT:  First of all, this issue has gotten blown out way out of proportion. 
It‘s really amazing that Sarah Palin and the extreme right wing have seized this issue, when, in reality, this religious institution has operated in and around ground zero for close to 30 years. 
And the reality is that we are simply talking about a plan to create a peaceful expansion of a building that they own.  What are we supposed to do, seize the property and throw them out?  Then the terrorists win.  We‘re better than that.  This is New York City, where we expect people to live among different people of backgrounds and have a sense of tolerance. 
And I can‘t believe that this issue has gotten to this point that Sarah Palin and the people who want to divide this country are actually getting away with this.  But I think today‘s landmarking commission decision I think makes it very clear where New Yorkers stand. 
And it‘s about a proposal for a—a peaceful center.  And that‘s why all of us are rallying behind this. 
MATTHEWS:  Dan, it seems to me the Middle East is torn apart over particular sites, like the Western Wall and the Islamic sites, and that‘s what war is all about, this particular site, that particular site.  This bit of geography is fought over almost—well, literally, over biblical reasons. 
Now we‘re bringing that kind of thinking over to America, where particular sites of geography attach themselves or gain religious—even religious significance, and we fight over them almost to the death. 
That‘s what I wonder about.  Are we borrowing from the Middle East and getting into that kind of warfare over block-by-block religious disputes? 
MATTHEWS:  Well, why aren‘t—why isn‘t this the same thing as fighting over Middle East issues? 
SENOR:  Well, it‘s not limited to the Middle East. 
Look, there was this example in the 1980s when a group of nuns took over an abandoned building on the edge of Auschwitz.
MATTHEWS:  Right. 
SENOR:  And they had the legal right to do so.  They had the freedom of religious expression. 
MATTHEWS:  I know, the same kind of argument.
SENOR:  And they had good—they had good motives, good intentions.  And the pope ultimately stepped in and said, you probably do have the right to do this, but it doesn‘t mean it‘s the right thing to do. 
Now, Scott, I—you know, you and I probably agree that there are national political figures in this country that have probably shed more heat than light on this issue. 
But for you to set up straw men and say it‘s about Sarah Palin and not about New Yorkers, I have got to tell you, in my neighborhood, a lot of people where—I live in this neighborhood where the mosque would go up—a lot of people are quite upset about it. 
The polls show overwhelmingly the majority of New Yorkers are opposed to this going forward.  It doesn‘t mean, by the way, that the authorities have the legal right to stop it.  I‘m not suggesting that.  I‘m simply saying—
MATTHEWS:  Well, what are you doing this for? 
SENOR:  No, no, let me respond, Chris.
I‘m simply saying that there are leaders, like you and me, who may respectfully disagree on getting—
MATTHEWS:  But why are you doing this, if it‘s already a fait accompli?
STRINGER:  Dan, can I make a point here? 
MATTHEWS:  No, just a minute.
Dan, I want to know why you‘re doing this right now if it‘s a fait accompli.
SENOR:  Because—I will tell you, Chris.  Because I think there‘s an opportunity for national political figures and city and state political figures—Mayor Bloomberg, Attorney Cuomo, Mr. Stringer—to step forward and approach the imam and say, look, we understand your objectives.  We understand what you are trying to do.  You‘re objectives are good.  Your motives are good.
We just think you are going to undermine them.  You are—you are provoking something that could wind up being more divisive.  And this is going to be a step backwards for New York.
STRINGER:  But, Dan, I want to say to you—
MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.
STRINGER:  That this is not about having a polite conversation with imam.  This is not about the political game that, in fact, is being played now around the country.  You live in Lower Manhattan.  I represent Lower Manhattan.  And I can tell you that the people who stayed after the terrorist attacks wanted to rebuild a community, a community that speaks to the issue of tolerance, about social acceptance.  This proposal is just simply about how to create a wedge issue in this country.
SENOR:  You know, Scott -- 
STRINGER:  And I have to tell you something -
SENOR:  You‘re dismissing it.
STRINGER:  And I‘m a fan, and let me just finish.  I‘m a fan of yours. 
I‘m actually starting your book tonight.
STRINGER:  But I have to tell you something, you are now becoming a divisive force because the reality is, this is about (INAUDIBLE).  This is about a group that owns their own property.  They‘ve been down there for 27 years.  They‘ve been there much longer than you and your family has been down there.  How dare you tell them where to go?
MATTHEWS:  Dan, I have to as you Dan, I have to ask you a question.  Two years from now when this thing is up, and for all I know, it will get up faster than the Freedoms Tower, it will be there.  It will be there.  You point out, legally, they have the right to do it.
Two years from now, what difference does it make?  You were saying in your article that they‘re going to be celebrating this is a victory for Islam?  When is that celebration going to be held?  Who‘s going to hold it?  Who‘s going to celebrate this as victory for Islam?
SENOR:  Chris, let me say this—let me say this, there are radical groups.  You can spend times on the Web sites of radical terrorist groups with al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists around the world, and they celebrate symbolic and emotional events that they interpret as setbacks for America.  I will tell you—
SENOR:  Let me finish, Chris.
MATTHEWS:  No, I want to ask you a question.  No, because you just keep talking.  The simple question is: How can tolerance be seen as a defeat?
STRINGER:  Let me tell you something—
STRINGER:  The terrorists win if we become like them.  And what‘s happening with Gingrich and Palin—
SENOR:  Leave them out of it, Scott.  Scott, leave them out of it, there are plenty of people in the neighborhood—
SENOR:  Scott, there are a plenty of people in our neighborhood who share my view.  Quit making this about Gingrich and Palin.
STRINGER:  And a lot of—a lot of people don‘t share your view and that‘s why the local community board listened to everybody and they voted overwhelmingly.
SENOR:  OK, Scott, here‘s the thought—
STRINGER:  And, by the way, none of us support terrorism.  None of us are—we worried about 9/11 security funding.  We worry about 9/11 responders, the bill in Congress that didn‘t pass.  That‘s what we should be talking about it.
SENOR:  Scott—
STRINGER:  You‘re wasting everybody‘s time on this issue when we should be more policed, more security in the country.  Bring resources into New York City and Lower Manhattan so we can protect our city.  That‘s the issue that we have to face.
SENOR:  Why don‘t you and I—why don‘t you and I get together and there are a lot of leaders, Business leaders, civic leaders in New York City who actually represent the divide that you and I are talking about right now.  Some of them are opposed to the mosque and some of them say it should go.  Let‘s get them together and say, let‘s leave those differences aside and let‘s go sit down with the imam and say, you know what, you have the right to do this.  You have the resources to do this.
STRINGER:  And when he says—
SENOR:  Are you going to let me finish?  I let you filibuster.  You‘re going to let me finish.
STRINGER:  This is not—this is not Kumbaya.  This is not about having a conversation—
SENOR:  Why not give him the chance?
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let Dan make his comments.
MATTHEWS:  Dan, your proposal is for another meeting.  And then after the meeting is over, what do you want to do?
SENOR:  Let‘s just—I think there is the potential—
MATTHEWS:  What‘s the next step here?
SENOR:  -- for leaders across the political spectrum in New York to come together, sit down with the imam, say your motives are good.
MATTHEWS:  And then what?
SENOR:  Some even believe your motives are pure.  This what you were doing—
MATTHEWS:  OK, fine.  A meeting is fine.  I‘m just asking Dan—
STRINGER:  Palin and the political operatives that are taking, making

SENOR:  Let‘s invite these people who live in my neighborhood, Scott.
STRINGER:  They were invited to meetings.
STRINGER:  Hundreds of people came to the local meeting and overwhelmingly voted for this proposal.  And, you know what people in your neighborhood have said, we need more police.  We need more security.  We want justice to the 9/11 responders.
SENOR:  This is not mutually exclusive.  Scott, Scott—it‘s not like you can have one and not the other.  All the issues are compatible with one another.
MATTHEWS:  OK, Dan Senor—Dan, thanks for coming on.  Thank you, Mr.
President, Scott Stringer.
Up next: It turns out more oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico than anyone thought—a lot more, nearly 5 million barrels.  And now, a partisan fight in the Senate to stall the bill meant to increase safety in offshore wells.  We‘re going to find out what‘s going on.  Why can‘t the Senate do something when they got this kind of point of departure to actually change the offshore drilling rules?
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS:  Earlier, we showed you our Gallup‘s list of most liberal states.  Now, the top 10 most conservative states which have the highest percentage of people call themselves conservatives.  No surprise on this list.
Louisiana, number 10.  Number nine, Nebraska.  Number eight, Oklahoma. 
Number seven, South Carolina.  Number six, Idaho.
Five, North Dakota.  Four, Alabama.  Three, South Dakota.  Two, Utah. 
And the state with the most conservatives, a tie, Wyoming and Mississippi.
By the way, they are a lot more conservatives than the other states are liberal, percentage wise.
HARDBALL will be right back.
The Gulf oil spill may soon be permanently over.  A “static kill” procedure has begun and could be the final step in killing the well completely.  Now, it‘s up to Congress to pass laws ensuring a catastrophe like this doesn‘t happen again.  I think that as my editorial opinion.
But we got news today that the Senate will leave for recess without voting on a reform bill.  The country endures one of the worst environmental and economic disasters ever, and they go on vacation.  Smart move.
John Hofmeister is former president of Shell Oil and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies.”
Well, maybe, this is why we hate the Senate.  John, first of all, this cap that they built, they had to build it, the one that‘s working apparently.  Why didn‘t they have that, or where was it 106 days ago—this little cap that‘s neatly going to solve the problem?  Where was it?
JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER SHELL OIL PRESIDENT:  Yes.  It was just an idea 100 days ago.  It had to be engineered, designed, manufactured, tested before it could be applied.  You know, there‘s no requirement to have this cap on the ready, so to speak.
HOFMEISTER:  And there would be no knowledge that they would need such a cap if the blowout protector had not been faulty and had done its job.  And so, the kind of precipitous action which the House took, which the Senate was on the verge of taking, I think is going to do serious damage to both the president and the Democratic majority.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  I think we may have our first big disagreement, John.  Let‘s take a look at the four things that they were thinking about doing, they did in the House, they did in the Senate.  It seems to me they got to clean up the mess at MMS, that‘s the subsidiary over at interior that has not done the job of regulating.
Are you saying we shouldn‘t clean up the regulatory aspect of this?
HOFMEISTER:  We don‘t need a bill to do that.  That should just be done.  That‘s the executive branch‘s responsibility to run an agency properly, and if they ran it improperly, whether Republican or Democratic, they can fix it without legislation.
MATTHEWS:  So all that sexual favors and partying back-and-forth between regulator and regulatee (ph) should have been stopped executive-wise.  They shouldn‘t have to have a bill.
HOFMEISTER:  Fire the people, fire ‘em.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, I think they did move them out.
Let‘s take a look, giving subpoena power to the investigating committee.  Isn‘t that something we ought to have, subpoena power, to the investigating committee to find out what happened here and what went wrong?
HOFMEISTER:  I agree with subpoena power, yes.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Number three, they were supposed to have a detailed response plan when they started drilling this well.  Now, you said they didn‘t have this cap 106 days ago.  Why didn‘t they have the cap that they said they have—you say in the blowout was sufficient?  But every time I talk to an expert like my brother, he tells me, don‘t blame machinery for management decisions.  If it got to the blowout protector, something was wrong—done wrong long before that that led to the catastrophe and they should have prepared for that being done wrong because they weren‘t that proficient.
HOFMEISTER:  Well, that‘s why there‘s three levels of redundancy in the blowout protector.  I‘ve never seen such an incompetent management—whether it‘s Transocean or BP, we still have to find out—that would allow these kinds of redundancies to be obliterated in their own blowout protector.  That‘s irresponsible and incompetent in my judgment, and the court may decide it‘s negligent.
MATTHEWS:  Well, Tony Hayward is being rewarded by being sent over as CEO of BP.  He‘s now running the Soviet combo over there.  That‘s interesting.  Maybe the Russians will meet somebody who‘s fun to work with.
One last one here—this cap, the cap.  What do you make of the cap?  I know that they have talked about a $20 billion contingency fund to handle some of these 5 billion barrels of oil out there.  But do you think that‘s something that should be fixed?  The fact that it‘s only $75 million that BP would, at least under the law, have to pay out in this kind of catastrophe?
HOFMEISTER:  I think the situation has to be—I think the administration has actually handled it very well regardless of the $75 million cap because they have got BP to commit not only $20 billion but whatever else it takes to clean up the Gulf.  I think there‘s plenty of bully pulpit and moral responsibility that can be used.
Eliminating $75 million cap basically shuts all the small guys out of the industry, and they‘re toast.  And then we‘re back to bigger and bigger oil who all who have the means to manage this.  I think it‘s ill-thought through, and I think it needs more time.  And the rush to do something before the holiday, I think was just not a good use of legislative time.
MATTHEWS:  Last question.  Five million barrels in the Gulf.  Will it evaporate?  How much is going to be left there for posterity to just muck up that body of water forever?
HOFMEISTER:  I think the real danger is in the marshes, and that‘s going to be there for probably two to three years.  With respect to the body of water, I think the oil is going to be largely gone within eight to 12 months.
MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, John Hofmeister.  You‘re making it very sanguine tonight and maybe that‘s the right way to be after we‘ve capped this well.  Thank you for coming on—John Hofmeister, formerly of Shell and great author.
When we return, let me finish with what many people believe are the three scariest words in the English language: President Sarah Palin.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with the fact that for tens of millions of Americans, and not just Democrats, the scariest three words in the English language are: President Sarah Palin.  Those words could, if events go a certain way, get a hell of a lot scarier.
I‘ve noticed how Palin has been positioning herself as the Christian woman in national Republican politics.  This gives her incredible leg up in the first in the country Iowa Republican caucuses where the Reverend Pat Robertson once triumphed.
The shape of the 2012 Republican presidential field in the Iowa caucuses would be Sarah Palin against a field of Republican men.  And with the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, all more secular than she is.  The results, the Christian woman beats out the four or five men running somewhere to her left.  No one gets to her right—and as long as nobody does, this lone woman in the Republican field, the one openly running as a religious fundamentalist beats the competition, hands down.
Get this number into your head.  Sarah Palin‘s latest Gallup Poll favorable rating among Republican voters nationwide is 76 percent, by far the highest of any contender.  So she wins Iowa.
Next, New Hampshire.  Even if Mitt Romney outpolls Palin in the Granite State, it will be a fact dismissed by the national political press.  Why?  Because New Hampshire is the Boston media market.  It‘s right in it and therefore seen as home base for the former Massachusetts governor.
Next, Palin trucks down to South Carolina where she made Nikki Haley governor and wins among fellow religious fundamentalists.  Another win in Palin country, an increasingly wide expansion in Republican politics.
Now for the knockout.  Palin has said that Michigan where Romney‘s father was governor was overlooked by Republicans last time.  She started her book tour there.  Republican women who lined up to buy “Going Rogue” are her first round of investors.  With two or three men besides Romney still appearing on the ballot, she pulls it out in Michigan.
Now, anything is possible at this point.  Nominated in Tampa, Florida, and the Republican National Convention in an economy that might still be shaky, the political situation of this country becomes frighteningly dicey.
All can I say is that I remember how liberals thought Ronald Reagan could never do it.  As we learned in 1980, tough times yield surprising—yes, scary election prospects.
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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