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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Pete Williams, Dave Weigel, Hampton Pearson, Chuck Todd, Charlie Cook, Jonathan Capehart, Joan Walsh, Joe Conason, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Victory for gay marriage.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

Struck down.  A federal judge has just struck down California‘s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, as unconstitutional.  It‘s potentially a huge victory for gay rights activists.  Expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court before it‘s all over.  That‘s at the top of our show tonight.

Also, a birthday—also tonight, birthday blues.  Why do people on the right continue to say the president was born in some other country?  Well, today on the president‘s 49th birthday, we get the answer.  A new CNN poll shows the power of saying something, suggesting something, hinting at something, teasing at something again and again and again.  Today only a minority of Americans are convinced the president‘s eligible by birth to hold his office.  Just 42 percent of all Americans, just 23 percent of Republicans, say Barack Obama was definitely born in this country.  Notice the difference?  It‘s people on the right who have either been brainwashed or just like saying, He‘s not one of us.

And more tea party extremism.  Nevada Senate party candidate Sharron Angle, who wants all TV reporters to ask her questions that cue up her planned answers, has an answer for Barack Obama.  He and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are all violating—catch this—the 1st Commandment.  She says that.  They‘re worshipping government as a false god, a strange god.  That‘s what she says in an interview from her primary campaign that has been freshly exhumed by a Nevada reporter.  Is this some new religious attack on the Democrats?

So a good question is where the tea party may have gone too far for some.  Results in primary elections in Michigan and Kentucky yesterday suggest that going the furthest right may not be the smart move, even in this year‘s Republican primaries.  Also, in a couple of important states, Florida, and yes, Nevada, the tea partiers may be headed towards defeat this November.  If Democrats can beat tea party Republicans in those two big states, they could hold the Senate.

And another day, another Republican wants to look at changing of the 14th Amendment and revoking birthright citizenship.  Is this nativism a smart direction for the Republicans to be taking?  We‘ll ask the HARDBALL strategists.

Finally, Amber Alert.  What‘s wrong with this picture?  Well, it looks harmless enough, a handsome candidate, the son of former vice president Dan Quayle, with his children.  Or is it?  Check out the “Sideshow.”

We start with the ruling on Proposition 8 in California.  Pete Williams is NBC News justice correspondent.  Pete, a vital decision.  This is really a ground-breaking decision, isn‘t it.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  It is because this is the first time, Chris, that a federal judge has ever weighed the question of whether banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.  This question has been batted around the state courts, on state constitutions, but tonight, for the first time, a federal judge says that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Proposition 8, passed two years ago by 52 percent of California voters banning gay marriage, but he says it fails—

I‘m quoting from his decision now—“It fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”  Indeed, he says “The evidence shows that Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-section couples are superior to same-sex couples.”  And he says because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians and because Prop 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriage on an equal basis, it is unconstitutional.

He also says that the evidence at about a two-week trial showed that one of the primary reasons behind the Prop 8 campaign—this is the judge says—is a moral disapproval of homosexuality.  But he says moral disapproval alone is an improper basis for denying rights to gay men and lesbians.  The evidence shows conclusively, he says, that Prop 8 enacts without reason a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior.

So those are his main reasons.  It‘ll undoubtedly be challenged now.  The proponents of Proposition 8, Chris, had asked the judge to stay the effect of his own ruling, but at least in the court documents I‘ve seen so far, he doesn‘t do that.  He says, in fact, in his ruling that he‘s granting an injunction.  He says California is—


WILLIAMS:  -- able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  So as far as I can tell, anyway, from this initial look at the court documents, he‘s not putting any hold on.

So what the proponents of Prop 8 will have to do is go to the different courthouse—to the different court right there in San Francisco and seek a stay of this judge‘s ruling.  What they say is California should not issue any marriage licenses while this is on appeal because they would be under a cloud, and who knows what‘s going to happen when this case eventually gets all the way through the appeal process, so let‘s wait some more, is what the advocates of Prop 8 say.  But this is a very big deal, as you say.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s huge.  It strikes me that this is a broad decision.  This is the kind of thing that gets to the heart of the liberty clause, the right of every American to pursue happiness, if you will, to exert their liberty in this case.  And I have to ask you, will this go to the Supreme Court?  Will it grab the attention and support of Judge Anthony Kennedy?  Will this be like the Lawrence case and really go in the direction of tolerance and equal treatment all the way?  What‘s it look like?

WILLIAMS:  Well, they certainly will try.  I think that‘s been the game plan all along is to get it to the Supreme Court.  What‘s going to happen now is I think the issue is undoubtedly going to the Supreme Court, but will it be this case or will it be a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, cases that are actually further along in the federal pipeline from Massachusetts, going through a district—or a federal appeals court in Massachusetts that tends to be faster than this 9th circuit in California?  So it‘s a bit of a race now to see which gets to the Supreme Court first.  And then once it gets there, as you say, Justice Kennedy‘s vote could be key.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Great.  A great report.  It‘s great to have you.  Pete Williams, the expert.

Let‘s go to Joan Walsh right now, editor-in-chief of Salon, and Jonathan Capehart is editorial director—writer for “The Washington Post.”

Joan, I‘ve got to start with you.  So what do you think of Ted Olson now, my friend?  Ted Olson and David Boies—these two, the odd couple if ever—the right-winger and the conservative—I mean, the conservative and the liberal have won this case—


MATTHEWS:  -- have brought this.  It‘s heading towards the Supremes.  It looks like we‘re going to see a broad decision interpreted here, the right to choose, basically, same-sex marriage, liberty clause honored here, the 14th Amendment alive and well, equal protection, all the good causes that the gay community and its allies out there have sought all along.

WALSH:  Well, I‘m very grateful to Ted Olson.  OK?  There you go, Chris.  You have it—


MATTHEWS:  I just want to hear it.

WALSH:  That‘s heartfelt.  But you know, this should never have been a conservative/liberal issue.  The Republican Party made itself the party of the bedroom police.  They made themselves the party of people who wanted to shut down people‘s human rights and civil rights.  And that should never have been.  That should never have been true.

And so, you know, Ted Olson did a truly conservative thing, in my opinion, and in his opinion, too.  So I‘m grateful.  Thank you, Ted Olson.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s also a Libertarian argument.

WALSH:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  But I want to get to the facts here.  Jonathan, you‘ve been

I think you‘ve been studying this for “The Washington Post” as writing the editorials.  You‘re probably going to write the editorial tonight.  Let me ask the question.  Could this blow away, knock out the Defense of Marriage Act and basically say, Sorry, I don‘t care what states pass, I don‘t care what Congress passes, the U.S. Constitution protects their right to their liberty and their liberty includes the right to choose a marital partner?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, here‘s the situation.  Pete talked about it in his report.  There‘s a Massachusetts case that‘s out there that‘s wending its way through the system that could get to the Supreme Court before Perry v. Schwarzenegger.  That‘s the case that many gay rights advocates hope gets to the Court first.  This current Court, no one is comfortable or feels comfortable that they would overturn DOMA, just because of the composition of the Court, the conservative composition of the Court.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, Kennedy went with Lawrence.

CAPEHART:  Sure, sure, sure.  But people are being actually very good about being very cautious.  Now, here‘s the difference between the Perry case and the Massachusetts case that Pete pointed out.  In the Perry case, folks are trying to get the right to marry, to overturn that state constitution, that Prop 8 amendment that barred same-sex couples from getting married.

The Massachusetts case is about gay couples who are legally married in Massachusetts.  Those couples are not asking to be married, they are legally married.  And so they‘re challenging their rights to access federal benefits on an equal basis as opposite-sex couples in that state.  That‘s why I believe the gay rights advocates are—

MATTHEWS:  So that—would that bring a broader freedom, a broader equality if that were to win, or is that a narrow effort?

CAPEHART:  That‘s a narrow effort because it‘s focused right on Massachusetts.  This right now, the Prop 8 case, the Perry v.

Schwarzenegger case, is focused on those folks in California.  But in any of these cases, what the judges write will have implications—


CAPEHART:  -- will be precedent.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk politics now.  Joan Walsh, I think you‘ll be comfortable with this conversation.  I certainly am.  I was watching Fox, listening to it on the radio this morning, and they immediately tried to dash this judge‘s credibility.  They said one of the two—only two federal openly gay or gay federal judges.  They immediately tried to dash (ph) it as a prejudicial decision.

WALSH:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  They said this would be—I love their language here—it would be a slap in the face of California voters.  They‘re using all the innuendo, all the cute language over at Fox to put down this decision even before it was rendered by Judge Walker.

WALSH:  Yes.  They‘ve been—they‘ve been trying to do that.  But you know, it‘s sort of, like, Well, should straight people recuse themselves because it has to do with straight marriage, too?  I mean, it‘s crazy.  And what you‘re going to see is a frenzy of people who know they‘re on the losing side.  Time is on the side of gay marriage.

Young people, as you and I and Jonathan have talked about before, don‘t have the same kind of prejudices.  Even Republican young people don‘t care about this issue the way their parents and grandparents do.  So you know, I mean, over at City Hall, they‘re getting ready to marry people here in San Francisco, Chris.

They can‘t smear Judge Walker this way.  He‘s a man of great dignity, and you know, that‘s the lowest kind of attack on this, and I know Ted Olson would have no part of that.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the newspapers in the country.  Are they going to endorse this?  Is “The Post” going to endorse, do you think, and say this is a good decision?


MATTHEWS:  Have you met yet?


MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know, “The Washington Post” has a lot of influence.  It may not be “The New York Times” on this question, but it has a lot of influence.

CAPEHART:  Right, sure, but that would require us to be around the table, actually reading the decision.



CAPEHART:  So not having seen what—what the judge wrote because it‘s—this is a matter of scope.  How far does Judge Walker go—


WALSH:  Right.

CAPEHART:  -- in (INAUDIBLE) this?

MATTHEWS:  You know what I predict?  I predict the major papers of the country endorse this decision tomorrow morning.  I think there‘s going to be a lot of excitement about this because it‘s about liberty and it‘s about tolerance and it‘s about American values.  And I always remind people of this.  In our Declaration of Independence, we protected people and ensured their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We should never forget how we started.

Thank you again, Joan Walsh—and we‘re unique in that fashion. 

Thank you, Joan Walsh—

WALSH:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  -- and thank you, Jonathan Capehart.

Up next: Today is, well, President Obama‘s birthday—he‘s 49 today -

and the people on the right continue to say they think he was born somewhere else.  They keep pounding and pounding it.  It does sound like the big lie.  And guess what?  It‘s working.  The brainwashing is working.  Wait‘ll you catch the latest poll.  It shows that less than half the American people are now willing to say they definitely believe he was born here.  What a successful propaganda campaign.  The people on the right should be very proud of their nasty success.

We‘ll be right back.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, another incumbent member of Congress has been knocked off.  Michigan Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick is out.  She was beaten last night by state senator Hansen Clarke, and she‘s the sixth incumbent member of Congress to go down to defeat in the primary cycle this year.  The other five are Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Utah senator Bob Bennett, West Virginia congressman Alan Mollohan, U.S. congressman Parker Griffith of Alabama and South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis.  Kilpatrick was done in by the legal problems of her son, ousted Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  2010 has, of course, just not been kind to incumbents.

We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  It‘s the president‘s birthday today, and he probably could have done without this particular gift.  A new CNN poll shows just 42 percent of this country thinks the president was definitely born in this country.  Only 23 percent of Republicans polled think the president was definitely born here, so a minority of Republicans are convinced he is actually a legitimate president of the United States because you have to be born here to be president.

David Weigel is an MSNBC contributor and political reporter for Slate, and Joe Conason is with “The New York Observer.”

Joe, I want you to start.  You know, I don‘t want to compare anybody to what happened in the Third Reich because it never works, but the big lie seems to be working here.  If you say something over and over and over again, if you hint, tease, suggest, nuance, innuendo, whatever, finally, people begin to think where there‘s smoke, there‘s fire.

Now we‘ve got this terrible situation where only 42 percent of the American people are willing to say they really believe he was born here.  The rest are in some kind of doubt or confusion or whatever—and only 23 percent of Republicans.  That differential is key to me.  The Republican people out there, watching right now, for some reason, like to say they don‘t think he‘s definitely an American.  I don‘t think they would pass a lie detector on that.  I think they know he‘s a Republican (SIC), a lot of them, but they‘re enjoying this little gig, this gig at him.  Your thoughts?

JOE CONASON, “NEW YORK OBSERVER,” SALON.COM:  I agree with that, Chris.  I think a lot of the response among Republicans, and especially the response from people who are promoting this, is dishonest.  They know that the facts are very clear, both in the—as expressed by the government of Hawaii, the governor of Hawaii, who is a conservative Republican, Linda Lingle, who said that there‘s no question that the president is a natural-born American citizen, born in Honolulu.  The evidence is very plain in the Honolulu newspapers published at the time, which carried birth notices for Barack Obama.  So the proof is very clear.

But then you have people like Rush Limbaugh, who I‘m sure knows better, saying today, well, he doesn‘t believe that it‘s the president‘s birthday.  He doesn‘t even believe it‘s his birthday today, let alone that he was born in the United States.  So it is a big lie.  And I think part of the problem is not only the constant droning repetition by what some people have called the Republican noise machine, but the failure on the part of the rest of the media to adequately knock this story down.  And—

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s do our best here, Joe.  Let‘s do our best.  Here‘s the birth certificate of the president‘s from Hawaii.  As Joe, you pointed out quite accurately, the newspapers at the time of his birth advertised the fact he was born.  I wasn‘t prominent enough—maybe you were, the other people here were prominent—to actually have it announced in the newspaper that you were born.  That‘s not good enough for some people.

CONASON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Rush Limbaugh, one of those it‘s not good enough for, questioning Obama‘s birth on his radio show yesterday.  Let‘s listen.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Tomorrow is Obama‘s birthday.  We haven‘t seen any proof of that!  They tell us August 4th is the birthday.  We haven‘t seen any proof of it!


MATTHEWS:  “We haven‘t seen any proof of it.”  I—you know, I don‘t know what Rush has got in his wallet to prove his legitimacy.

CONASON:  Well, so—

MATTHEWS:  Let me go—let me go—I‘m sorry.  Let‘s go to David Weigel and your thoughts on this.  This PR campaign, this propaganda campaign, has worked.  The number keeps going down of the number people who are willing to say, yes, he‘s an American.

DAVE WEIGEL, SLATE.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  You‘re right.  We‘ve had an NBC poll in May that had this slightly higher.  People were asked blind do they think he was born in America, and there was 68 percent who said they did.  So I‘m a little bit surprised.  I think it‘s being amplified by the fact that some Republicans like to bring this up, because they like to say he‘s not American enough—not that he was born out of here, but he has un-American views, post-American views.  He doesn‘t really love this country.  So they amplify it, and that just leads to more activists goading these Republicans into asking whether they believe he was born there, and they say he wasn‘t.

I mean, the negligence of Republicans to actually, you know, tell their voters, No, no, let‘s—have a disagreement about foreign policy.  Let‘s not question whether the guy‘s American.


WEIGEL:  The negligence there is kind of unheard of.

MATTHEWS:  OK, there‘s another area of scary right-wingism going on (INAUDIBLE) Let‘s take a look at Sharron Angle.  We‘re going to—here‘s Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle during a radio interview in April, which was just unearthed by a local reporter out there.  But let‘s listen to it because it‘s really what she was saying during the primary to beat Sue Lowden.  Here she is making her sort of, well, biblical case against the Democrats.


SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  These programs that you mentioned that Obama has going, with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward, are all entitlement programs built to make government our god.  And that‘s really what‘s happening in this country is a violation of the 1st Commandment.  We are—we have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the—is the dependency upon our government.


MATTHEWS:  Joe, so the Democrats are worshipping Baal.


MATTHEWS:  They‘re worshipping one of these Old Testament strange gods, putting a strange god before us.  Going after Democrats on the 1st Amendment (SIC) is pretty primitive.  I‘ve heard a lot, but this may be the furthest anybody‘s gone.

CONASON:  Well, you know, the only thing I can say about Sharron Angle is, she‘s one of the more entertaining candidates out there. 


CONASON:  You know, she‘s an example of how hollow the Republican Party is in some parts of the country now.

And—and I have to say, you know, nobody should be surprised if Harry Reid beats her by 15 points.  This is—she‘s raised him from the dead, to use a biblical allusion.  I mean, it‘s—you know, he‘s Lazarus now because of the likes of Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden, who were both terrible, pathetic candidates. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, also, some prominent Republicans out there, the former Reagan aide Sig Rogich, I believe Frank Fahrenkopf, reasonable Republicans, even conservative Republicans like them, Reaganites, are backing Harry Reid. 


CONASON:  Well, what choice do they really have? 


MATTHEWS:  Well, we have just seen the choice. 


WEIGEL:  Her new spokesman, her new communications director, used to work for Rudy. And it‘s not like the Republican Party is running away from her.  They‘re going to talk behind her back about her.  They‘re going to talk to people in the D.C. about how they wish she wasn‘t the candidate, but they want her to replace Reid in the Senate.


MATTHEWS:  But put it together, David. 

You haven‘t been on the show.  You haven‘t been on in a while, Joe. 

Here‘s a woman who says, basically, if you don‘t like the way Congress is

voting, well, first of all, accuse them of this false worship of false

gods, which is crazy religious talk in this context, and then say, well,

you can use your Second Amendment remedy—that‘s Lee Harvey Oswald stuff

your Second Amendment remedy, if you don‘t like what Congress is doing.

And then last night we caught her saying—telling Carl Cameron of FOX, the way I want you to ask my questions are in a way that I‘m allowed to give my talking points so I can raise money.  That‘s what she thinks our job is.


CONASON:  I loved that.  I thought that was really wonderful.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we thought it was certainly strange enough to put on the air. 


CONASON:  She‘s so entertaining.  She‘s very entertaining.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you say it‘s entertaining, but I do think, with the economy as toxic as it is, there are some people who will vote no and end up voting for people like that.  That‘s what I think might happen. 

Your thoughts, David.

WEIGEL:  Well, she understands how the media is changing.  I think it‘s not pleasant to think about, but Sarah Palin has been pioneering this method by which you can bypass the media, except for people you know are going to ask you the questions you want to be asked. 

MATTHEWS:  Or you get a job on FOX. 

WEIGEL:  Or you just post on Facebook or you post on your Web site.  And she‘s actually doing fine.  She‘s raising enough money to compete with Harry Reid, who has been raising money for six years with a lot of power. 

She‘s getting past this—


MATTHEWS:  It‘s not just the far right.  Let‘s go.  We only have a minute here.

But, look, people like Chuck Grassley, who are mainstream conservatives, they‘re not wingers, they‘re somewhere down in the middle of the right wing of the conservative party, obviously, Chuck Grassley moved over on health care.  He was on the issue negotiating with the president, David.  Then he was off.

Now he‘s joining these 14th Amendment people who want to take away the right to citizenship if you‘re born here.  Lindsey Graham today talking about the 14th Amendment.  Let‘s let—I have always respected Lindsey as a guy who is willing to go across the aisle and make an arrangement with the other side.  Here he is joining forces with the people who want to deny citizenship to people born in this country.  Here he is. 


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Most Americans are offended that you can buy a visa, come over here and have your baby in America and turn around and leave and you get citizenship through that process.  I don‘t think that makes sense. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, it just raises all kinds of questions when you start fiddling with the Constitution.  These people love amendments. 

CONASON:  This is the second time. 

MATTHEWS:  They always swear they love this country, they love its Constitution, and all they have is about 50 amendments up their sleeve.  They always want to change it.  It‘s like people that get married and say, change.  I love you.  Now it‘s time to change. 

CONASON:  You are so right, Chris. 


MATTHEWS:  Joe, I love you, but change.  I love your country, this country, but change some things, like let‘s get rid of the 14th Amendment.  The only amendment they like is the second.


CONASON:  This is the second time this week.  They want to violate the First Amendment, too.  They want to take away the rights of Muslims to freedom of worship by denying them the right to build a mosque in Lower Manhattan, where they have every right to do it, because they don‘t like—really like the First Amendment either. 

Now they don‘t like the 14th Amendment.  These are the people, Chris, who would tell us all along that they are the strict constructionists of the Constitution.  The rest of us are not really believers in the original meaning of the Constitution.  But these people actually want to rewrite the Constitution.  They don‘t like it the way it is.

And what it shows me is, you can be born here and still not be a particularly good American. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they are not only trying to go after Barack Obama, saying he‘s not born here, when he was born here, but they‘re going after people they know were born here and saying they have no right to be having born here. 


WEIGEL:  Oh, John McCain wasn‘t actually born here.  We know that.  He actually—he was born in—


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s all right.  I think that‘s strict conservative

constructionism by idiots.


WEIGEL:  We know the politics here, right?


MATTHEWS:  He was in the service of his country.


WEIGEL:  Lindsey Graham isn‘t trusted by conservatives on immigration.  John McCain isn‘t trusted by conservatives on immigration.  They come out here on an issue they know is not going to go anywhere.  We‘re not going to amend—we‘re not going to—


MATTHEWS:  You know, if I were Hispanic, I might get the idea they were after me. 

Anyway, David Weigel, what do you think? 

Joe Conason, I think they might get the idea they are looking for me. 

They‘re trying to make an excuse to get me out of the country. 

Up next:  See this campaign mailer?  I love it when they try it this way.  It‘s Dan Quayle‘s son Ben.  He‘s running for Congress in Arizona.  Now, you probably think, looking at that picture, that‘s his family, because he talks about himself being a pro—family Republican.  You will figure those are his children, wouldn‘t you?  You would think that, wouldn‘t you?  Well, watch the “Sideshow” and find out. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First: a picture-perfect candidacy, or is it?  Ben Quayle, son of the former vice president, is running for Congress in Arizona‘s 3rd District.  Quayle‘s campaign describes him as a pro-family candidate, which explains the imaging behind this campaign mailer. 

The catch, those aren‘t Quayle‘s kids.  In fact, Quayle doesn‘t even have kids.  Those children are relatives of a staffer.  When reporters asked Quayle‘s spokesperson about the curious photo choice, he tried deflecting the question, saying: “You guys have too much time on your hands.  They are just terribly cute kids.” 

Next, cue the black helicopters out in Colorado.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes says Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is trying to convert the Mile High City into a United Nations community.  The source of his ire?  Hickenlooper‘s efforts to boost bike riding in the city.  Maes says—quote—“These aren‘t just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor.  These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”

Well, Maes later said he was referring to Denver‘s membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a group that promotes sustainable development.  Maes adds that while he initially thought the bike—bicycle initiative was harmless, he then realized—quote—“That‘s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

Well, in other words, encouraging bike riding seems harmless; that‘s proof it‘s part of some dangerous globalist conspiracy.  I‘m sure we will get it someday. 

Last, say this for Barney Frank, he‘s quick on his feet.  The Massachusetts congressman was on “Colbert” last night to talk up the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which he would like headed by progressive reformer Elizabeth Warren. 

Here he is.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  But isn‘t this just another nanny state overreach by the government?  I mean, if the founding fathers were really worried about mortgage bundling or ATM fees, wouldn‘t they have said so in the Constitution?  



Well, actually, founding fathers talked about bundling, but they meant something a little more sexual when they talked about bundling. 


COLBERT:  Ben Franklin wrote about it a lot. 

Sir, why do you liberals love Elizabeth Warren so much, besides the fact that she‘s a damn fine looking woman?  You would agree with me there, wouldn‘t you? 

FRANK:  Well, yes, but you do realize that that would not be my motivation?





MATTHEWS:  Well, that last reference by Barney Frank was a reference to the fact that Congressman Frank is openly gay, and, therefore, presumably not motivated by the sexual appeal of the nominee to run the agency to protect Wall Street consumers. 

Coming up:  Tea Party candidates may hardly be sure winners, given what happened last night in Kentucky and Michigan.  And a Sarah Palin-endorsed Senate candidate went down to defeat in Kansas.  Has the Tea Party lost its bite?  That‘s ahead.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks pushing higher on some reassuring reports on jobs and the service industry, the Dow Jones industrials climbing 44 points, the S&P 500 adding nearly seven points, and the Nasdaq up 20. 

Private employers added 42,000 jobs in July, a solid improvement over June‘s 19,000.  Investors are anxiously awaiting the government‘s report due out on Friday. 

And some surprising growth in the service industry in July.  The ISM index up half-a-point, when economists had been expecting a decline.

In stocks, online travel site Priceline soaring 22 percent after beating earnings expectations and delivering an upbeat forecast.  Barnes & Noble shares up 20 percent, after it said it was putting itself on the block and fielding offers to take it private.  Google rose on word its Android smartphone software is now the top seller in that market.

And Motorola advanced after announcing it‘s working with Verizon on an iPad rival that‘s—that lets you watch TV. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Last night, some less-than-far-out Republicans prevailed over their more right-wing rivals in Michigan and Kansas.  In Michigan, businessman Rick Snyder, who calls himself one tough nerd, won the gubernatorial primary against a conservative field.  And, in Kansas, after they both joined Michele Bachmann‘s Tea Party Caucus, Jerry Moran beat his more conservative House colleague Todd Tiahrt in the Senate primary.

But there was a big bright spot for the Tea Party.  Seven out of 10 voters in Missouri backed a referendum rejecting the new federal health care law.  Is the Tea Party wave cresting a bit, or will their nominees in Florida, Kentucky and Nevada help Republicans take over the Senate? 

Chuck Todd is an NBC News chief White House political correspondent and political director.  And NBC News political analyst Charlie Cook is the editor and publisher of “The Cook Political Report.” 

Charlie, just generally, looking at all the tea leaves, looking at everything—that‘s a good phrase, tea leaves—is the Tea Party cresting, or could they will—really end up being the powerhouse, given all that we have learned in the last couple of days, come November?

CHARLIE COOK, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think there are going to be places where they are going to be really influential and places not so much.  And it‘s going to be week to week.  And candidates and campaigns still matter. 

But I like the way you put the Kansas, where Jerry Moran, who won the Republican Senate primary, you know, by any standard, he‘s a conservative, but the other guy—

MATTHEWS:  Tiahrt. 

COOK: -- Todd Tiahrt, yes, maybe he‘s more conservative, but it‘s more stylistic.  Tiahrt is the guy—he is the brash, more incendiary, where Moran is sort of more the Bob Dole, just sort of—



COOK:  So, it‘s as much stylistic or almost as much stylistic. 


So, Chuck, you‘re looking at it. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  That‘s a great way other put it. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m looking at races where we‘re going to talk—I want to really get to—let‘s move quickly to the really big races that we‘re all watching. 

TODD:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Marco Rubio in Florida right now, he is behind.  Crist is up.  The independent is running 41 percent to 37 percent.  That‘s fascinating—or 41 percent to 30 percent right now.  And Meek is down at 12 percent, the Democrat. 

That seems to be a place where the Democrats could well pick up a seat, if he organizes as a Democrat. 

TODD:  Well, they certainly can prevent the Republicans from holding a seat.  I don‘t know how—what you call it at this point, but let‘s not pretend we‘re going to learn anything about national politics.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they can pretend the Republicans from taking over the Senate, perhaps.

TODD:  They could.

And that‘s what—Charlie Crist and Sharron Angle could be the two reasons why Republicans don‘t get the Senate.  Look, I‘m still of this he mind-set, when you start doing the numbers, that, in order for the Republicans to pick up the 45 House seats they need, if you assume Democrats do actually pick up a couple, and that to get to the 45 mark, they actually—that will get them—that the wave will be big enough, that they will find those Senate seats, that they will beat Russ Feingold, they will beat Patty Murray. 


MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re subscribing to the theory you advanced here weeks ago; they get the House, they get the Senate?

TODD:  I still believe it gets there. 

Now, look, I think Charlie Crist and Sharron Angle complicate that math for them.  But they have still put enough puzzle pieces that still enough places are there.  Wisconsin and Washington were very important.

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy the wave can bury everybody? 

COOK:  Well, I think things are somewhat—

MATTHEWS:  Look at Sharron Angle.  It takes a real effort on a conservative side, even in a very bad economy, to say, I know Angle is a little screwy on some things, I may share her values, but she‘s too extreme.  I‘m going to go with Harry Reid, even though I disagree with him, because I need a sane senator. 

COOK:  It‘s going to be a big night for Republicans, but I think it‘s going to be asymmetrical. 

As you know, the House, I think it‘s going to be a close call, but I think Republicans are more likely to get over the top.   


MATTHEWS:  You have been saying that consistently.  You think the Democrats are going to lose the House?  We are going to have Speaker Boehner after all this is over?

COOK:  I think more—that is the more likely outcome.

But, in the Senate, I would argue it‘s still going to be five, six, seven, maybe eight-seat gain for Republicans, because what‘s interesting—and it‘s to your point—is that Republicans needed California to get close and have a good chance of winning.  It is.  Patty Murray in Washington State, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, all that is exactly what Republicans needed.

But they have had erosion in their chances in Nevada and Florida, and that‘s kind of pulled it back. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I‘m hitting you guys with a surprise attack here right now.  We have got a brand-new court decision out in San Francisco -- 

TODD:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS: -- striking down really any attempt it seems to me by a state to prevent same-sex marriage.  It‘s a dramatic move.  It looks like a very broad decision by the district court out there, by Vaughn Walker. 

Won‘t the Republicans—we see Jim DeMint of South Carolina has already jumped on this bandwagon, and FOX television, of course.  Aren‘t they going to begin a campaign saying, the only way to protect your marriage, your traditional marriage, is to get out there and vote Republican this fall?  Are they going to make that into a second front, in addition to all the economics they are running on, the cultural issue, now? 

TODD:  Look, I doubt it.  Any smart Republican strategist won‘t do it. 

Anybody that does it, they are only taking away from their number one—

MATTHEWS:  Which is jobs. 

TODD: -- which is this jobs issue. 

Look, when do we have big debates about social policy in this country?  When the economy is good, right, when we‘re not having a discussion on war and the economy.


MATTHEWS:  Do you buy that?  Or other states, like Kentucky, you know, where—in Missouri, those middle parts of the country, where they are unlikely to vote for same-sex marriage, where they are going to resent the courts doing it to them? 

COOK:  If there was a vacuum, if there was nothing else going on, this could be huge.  But I agree with Chuck. 

When you have got jobs and then sort of the role of government, whether it‘s health care, cap and trade—

MATTHEWS:  Has this country changed so much since Ohio in 2008 -- 2004

where it cost John Kerry Ohio, the same-sex issue? 

COOK:  The thing is, there wasn‘t that much else going on in 2004. 


COOK:  I mean, the thing—to me, it‘s like a teeter totter.  If things are good, then social, cultural, environmental issues become more important.  And when things get lousy, it goes back the other way.  There‘s no room for any new issues.

TODD:  That‘s what I see.  Yes, it‘s just—it‘s just not going to be there.

Here‘s the thing.  It may suck up the oxygen of the opinion elite among the conservative—sort of the conservative opinion elite.

MATTHEWS:  The Gary Bauer people.

TODD:  Right, and the sort of what goes on in some of the other—


TODD:  I don‘t buy it as a real campaign—

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Rand Paul, a libertarian who‘s also pro-life and will probably come out against the same-sex thing with Sean Hannity Monday night.  Let‘s watch and see how he‘s selling it.


RAN PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATE NOMINEE:  I do have a target on my back, but they let me put a coat over it today, so you can‘t see the target on the television.  But, yes, I think they have seen the success of the Tea Party.  They want to drag the Tea Party down and they want to drag me down.

But the thing is, it‘s not working, because as much as they want this to be about something it‘s not or to make me be something that I‘m not, the race is really about the debt.  It‘s about out-of-control spending, and they cannot make the debate about something else no matter what names they call me.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a guy racing away from the cultural issue. 

He had come out questioning the Civil Rights Act of ‘64.

COOK:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And he‘s blaming it on the media.  But, fine, everybody does that.  He‘s trying to get away from the cultural issue and back to economics.

TODD:  Well, look—and look, let‘s look at the roots of Rand Paul, OK?  His father, Ron Paul, was never a big social activist either.  So, it‘s actually a pretty consistent with him.  But again—

MATTHEWS:  So you say (INAUDIBLE) style campaign this time.


TODD:  Can I just say that any Republican that sits there and wastes their time talking about social issues right now, they deserve to lose.

MATTHEWS:  So, you bet that Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, for example, will not mention this issue.

COOK:  He‘ll mention it (INAUDIBLE).


MATTHEWS:  But the economics people (ph).

COOK:  The thing is, the average conservative Republican candidate, they‘ve got three hours of material to put in a 12-minute stump speech, and you know, when you could—when you‘re—when you‘re going after Republican and swing voters and you have a chance to go after on the economy and jobs and go after on the role of government and Obamacare and cap-and-trade, why would you waste your time on something else?  Anybody that—

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You guys are rational.  I think—I think you made a very rational point.

TODD:  Shining metal object.

MATTHEWS:  But I‘ll bet you one thing, shining metal objects, he‘s (ph) fight for.

And let me tell you something, this to use another metaphor, catnip. 

Republican right-wingers will not be able to resist the same-sex issue.  They‘re going to jump all over it, make fun of it, mock the judge for being gay, for being prejudicial, and they‘ll do every number in the world.

TODD:  But can I tell?  I think actually has—

MATTHEWS:  FOX is leading the way on this.

TODD:  When you have seen—you‘ve seen what Zach Wamp tried to do in Tennessee governor, we‘re going to find out tomorrow night.  We saw what—in Michigan, the fact is the are plenty of Republican voters who aren‘t responding to that.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to see.  We want to get to that.  We want to see more about that.  How much pushback is there against the Tea Party, as they say in Massachusetts—party.

Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd.  And thank you, Charlie Cook.

And, tomorrow on HARDBALL, Florida governor, Charlie Crist, will be here with us.  He‘s still ahead in the polls, in that center.  In fact, he‘s moving further ahead.

Up next: John McCain is the latest Republican to call for Senate hearings.  They‘re all aboard this thing, on whether the 14th Amendment should be changed.  He‘s drinking the Kool-Aid.  That‘s what give citizenship to anyone born in this country.

John McCain is now with the anti-immigrant group again.  Is it good for this push?  Is it good for the country that people are talking about taking away the 14th Amendment?  And is it good for the Republicans to be telling Hispanics one more time, one millionth way, “We don‘t like you”?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Music star Wyclef Jean says he‘s running for president of Haiti.  Jean says the earthquake that ravaged his country this past January convinced him the time is right to run.

Jean was born in Haiti but emigrated to the U.S. as a child, but he maintained his Haitian citizenship.  He‘s also a three-time Grammy Award winner and founding member of the hip hop group the Fugees.  Jean is very popular in Haiti and analysts say he‘s expected to win the Haitian presidency easily.

I‘m not a big expert on Haitian politics.

HARDBALL will be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The Republican Party is having something of an identity crisis, and right now, the identity that sounds loud set like this.  Let‘s listen.


SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want to be reported.

PAUL:  What I don‘t like from the president‘s administration is this sort of, you know, I‘ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.  I think that sounds really un-American.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  I think they don‘t realize that your I.Q. scores are way above average.  We‘re on to them.  We‘re on to this gangster government.


MATTHEWS:  Wow, how can both Republicans and Democrats make the energy work for them?  That‘s a question for the strategists.

Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist.  Todd Harris is a Republican.

Welcome back, Steve.

Let me start with you, Todd.  I love starting with you, Todd.


MATTHEWS:  Is the Republican Party comfortable with voices like we just heard?  With Tea Party people being the real face of the party right now, are you comfortable with those—they‘re the ones making all the noise, Sharron Angle, Bachmann and the rest of them.

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, just because some people are making noise doesn‘t mean that they are defining the message for the Republican Party during this cycle. And I am very comfortable with our message this cycle, which is basically saying to the voters, if you‘re happy with the direction in Washington, if you think the country is going the right way, and then by all means, vote for the Democratic candidate.  But if you want a check and balance on the Obama agenda, then vote Republican.

And, by and large, far and away, not only are Republicans responding to that message, but independents overwhelmingly are leaning more to the right than they have been in several years.

MATTHEWS:  So, it doesn‘t bother you to have voices like this leading out, making all the noise?

HARRIS:  Well, I don‘t think that—I don‘t think they are the leading voices in the Republican Party?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Do you think Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann should be talking about I.Q. scores—I mean, really?

MATTHEWS:  OK.  How can your party exploit this issue by just making fun of the Tea Party types and make—

MCMAHON:  No, no, we don‘t have—our party doesn‘t have to make fun of the Tea Party types what.  What our party needs to do is remind people of what the situation was when President Obama took office and when the Democrats took over in 2009 what the conditions of the country were that George Bush left and what they had to do.

I mean, you know, President Obama himself has said a lot of times he didn‘t come into office to do a stimulus package and to bail out the auto companies, but that‘s what George Bush left him with.

MATTHEWS:  You got two problems.  You got the Tea Party noise machine. 

You said it‘s not going to bother you.

Here‘s one—another face of your party that may be bothering you.  Here‘s Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who‘s come out from behind his rock (ph) or whatever, and he‘s now explaining how he now doesn‘t have a program.  Listen.  Wait until you hear it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do Republicans need to articulate what you would do in power as opposed to simply campaigning against what the president has done?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  I think we clearly do need to make sure Americans know what we would do and we‘re going to make that announcement in late September so the voters will have—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right here to spell it out.

MCCONNELL:  I think I won‘t scoop myself.  We‘ll be making that announcement in late September.


MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s an exciting guy.  He said he doesn‘t want to scoop himself.  In other words, he doesn‘t have a plan.  The Democrats—can the Republicans marshal a party which is one-half Tea Party and the other half just no, we‘re not for anything?

HARRIS:  Yes, and we are.  But—

MATTHEWS:  So, that‘s working.

HARRIS:  But he didn‘t say that Republicans aren‘t going to have a plan.  He said in September.  That‘s two months before the election, Republicans will come out and say, look, if you vote for us, we‘re going to do the following things.  And I don‘t think a single swing voter -- 


MCMAHON:  Wait until there are four weeks left.

MATTHEWS:  I never heard of a party saying, wait, we have a philosophy and point of view on a plan, but we‘re not going to tell you what it is yet.

MCMAHON:  We don‘t really know—we don‘t really know what we stand for, we don‘t really know what our program.

HARRIS:  No, we know exactly what we stand for.

MCMAHON:  We don‘t really know what we might do if we were given control of Congress, but we‘ll tell you four weeks before the election, after a lot of our candidates have absent most of their campaign money, we‘ll tell you what we‘re for.

HARRIS:  What we‘re for is being a check and balance on the Obama agenda.

MCMAHON:  You know, you‘re a good strategist, Todd.  You know that an alternative beats saying no every single time, if you have an alternative.  They don‘t have an alternative, they‘re saying no.  And, frankly, if they had an alternative, they‘d be doing much better than they‘re doing now, presuming that the alternative was at all palatable to the American people.


MATTHEWS:  How many seats are you going to pick up by getting rid of the 14th Amendment?

HARRIS:  Well, I don‘t think we‘ll pick up any seat.


MATTHEWS:  Why—people like John McCain who I think are great Americans in many ways and have had good positions on a lot of issues in the past, all of a sudden joining this bandwagon, people like Chuck Grassley who‘s not a right winger, joining this bandwagon and saying we‘re going to look at whether if you‘re born in the United States, you should be a citizen.  That‘s a pretty position for—it sounds to me like it‘s saying to the Hispanic people, we don‘t like you.  That‘s what it seems to be saying.  We don‘t like you.

HARRIS:  Well, I don‘t think that‘s what they‘re saying.

MATTHEWS:  Who else are they going after here?  Who are we talking about?

We‘re not talking about Germans coming here.  We‘re not talking about Russians.  We‘re talking about Hispanic.  Particular ethnic group—a particular ethnic seems to be targeted here.

HARRIS:  It‘s a silly position, I think.  I just—I‘m opposed to the idea that—I mean, if you were to do this basically—

MATTHEWS:  Does Marco Rubio like this idea?


MATTHEWS:  It would seem like as a Hispanic—I mean, a Cuban-American, he would hate idea that, generally speaking, people of Hispanic background would be targeted by somebody trying to change the Constitution to keep them from being Americans.

HARRIS:  Well, the idea that the minute someone is born through no fault of their own, they‘re now—they‘ve now done something illegal, you know, I just—I think that it just—it doesn‘t sit well with me.  It doesn‘t sit well with a lot of Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Why don‘t you guys tell—why don‘t you guys who work for Marco Rubio spread the word that this is hurting you with the Hispanic community?

HARRIS:  Well, we‘re doing just fine with the Hispanic community.

MATTHEWS:  OK, by the way, I have this—can I have a minute?

HARRIS:  It‘s your show.

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine—can you imagine voting for Sarah Palin for president?

HARRIS:  I don‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine?  This is a yes or no question.  Can you imagine voting—she‘s now leading among all Republicans as the highest approval rating of all Republicans among Republicans.  Can you imagine voting for the person who‘s now leading in your party with the highest approval rating?

HARRIS:  Well, if the choice is between her and Barack Obama, then, yes, I probably could imagine doing that.

MATTHEWS:  Something your candidate would say too, everybody would say, they‘ll vote for her.  Because last time around Florida, it actually went Democrat because of the fear of Sarah Palin.

HARRIS:  Well, that was—that was maybe one of the reasons perhaps.

MATTHEWS:  It was a strong reason I heard.

Go ahead.  Your thoughts?

MCMAHON:  Well, no—

MATTHEWS:  Is Sarah Palin something you can whack this party with?

MCMAHON:  Oh, my God, I hope the Republicans nominate Sarah Palin and I hope Rush Limbaugh runs on the ticket with her.  And I hope they run on the ticket on a platform that the Republicans seem to be moving toward which is anti-gay marriage and anti-American.


MATTHEWS:  To millions of American, scariest three words in the English language are President Sarah Palin.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Steve McMahon.

It‘s not scary to you, bro.

Steve McMahon and Todd Harris, thank you for being here.

When we return, I have some thoughts about that stunning new poll showing so many Americans still don‘t believe President Obama was born in this country.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a stunning new poll that shows only a minority of Americans, 42 percent, believe the president of the United States was born in this country and therefore, eligible for the office.

The new CNN survey released today found that just 23 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a native-born American.  This means that most Americans and three-quarts of Republicans harbor either the belief or suspicion that the president is an illegal alien, that he was not born here, he never went to a naturalization process, and therefore, is a potential subject for deportation.

Well, this will strike many listening to me now as crazy.  Do people really mean it when they tell pollsters that they do not believe President Obama was definitely born in the U.S.?  Do people really believe he was born in Kenya?  And if so, to a Kenyan mother, or in Indonesia?

Do they believe the announcement of his birth in the Honolulu newspapers in August of 1961 was part of some long-term, well-executed conspiracy to create the appearance of Barack Obama‘s birth on that day which is what it says in this standard certificate you‘re looking at released by the state of Hawaii you see now?

Were there people around in 1961 who wanted to create this presidency 49 years later?  Who were determined to have someone who was only about to be born elected to lead this country?  Is this something that people who question his birth in Hawaii really believe?  Or is this constant drumbeat a propaganda from the birthers, an effort to undermine this presidency by grinding in doubts about his Americanness?

Is it aimed to disabling his administration politically?  And are the people who are doing this perpetrating it, pushing it day after day by false statements, innuendo and professed doubts, in fact, the worst kind of citizen?  Are they, no matter how much they claim to be patriotic, really the most un-American of people because they really do want to destroy this president, not because of what he does but because of who he is?  Not because of where he was born, what his race was when he was born?

Or this the big lie they dare not to admit?  They know full well he‘s an American.  They‘re simply out to destroy him personally.  Yes, assassinate him with their lies.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Tomorrow, Florida Governor Charlie Crist will be with us to talk about his run for U.S.  Senate down there.

Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.




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