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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Guests: Howard Fineman, Hampton Pearson, Chuck Todd, David Gregory, Wendy Wright, Rep. Phil Gingrey, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rob Simmons

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Hasta la vista, muchacho!

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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

God, guns, and gays.  Get ready for the culture wars, the hit list of wedge issues the right loves to bark at right before an election.  Let‘s start with the California judge‘s decision to strike down that state‘s ban on same-sex marriage.  Can Republicans use this as the deal-maker for the November elections?  Will this be the capper to the bad numbers on jobs and deficits that finally gets them back into power, or are they about to find themselves on the wrong side of the country‘s changing view on gay rights?  That‘s tonight‘s top story.

Plus, birth of a nation.  A growing number of Republicans are calling for dumping the 14th Amendment, revoking the citizenship of people born in this country if one of their parents is an illegal immigrant.  Democrats think this is a whole lot better than talking about the jobless rate or the high deficit.  Bring on the debate, they say.  Well, we‘ll have it right here tonight with two members of Congress.

Also, who would have thought that Charlie Crist, not long ago the Republican governor of Florida, would wind up being the other party‘s hope for holding the Senate?  He‘s polling better than his tea party opponent.  If he wins, will he become a Democrat?  We‘ll ask him tonight when he comes here.

Plus, Sarah Palin, of all people—Sarah Palin says President Obama is in under his head—over his head, I‘m sorry—certainly an odd choice of words for her, “over his head,” don‘t you think?

Finally, “Let Me Finish” With my thoughts on the right of citizenship to people born in this country.

We start with the decision in California to strike down that state‘s ban on gay marriage.  Wendy Wright is the president of Concerned Women for America.  Wendy, what are you concerned about, about same-sex marriage and that judge‘s decision to say that you can‘t really ban it?

WENDY WRIGHT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA:  Well, the judge in one fell swoop labeled the millions of Americans who voted to define marriage as one woman and one man as all bigots, that we‘re just filled with hatred.  And of course, that‘s not true.  This is one activist judge out of San Francisco that‘s imposed his views upon not only the voters of California, but his intention is for it to impact the rest of the country.

MATTHEWS:  Well, if it‘s only one judge, I guess your side of this argument has nothing to worry about.  But let me ask you this.  It goes to the 9th circuit out there, a liberal court.  Do you think it‘s going to stop—do you think they won‘t just uphold exactly what Judge Vaughn Walker decided the other day?  Do you really think this is the end of your fight, that you‘re going to win from here on out, and by the way all the way to the Supreme Court, where the Lawrence decision, according to Judge Scalia, opened the door for the very kind of decision we saw yesterday in San Francisco, didn‘t it?  Isn‘t that your fear?

WRIGHT:  Let‘s remember this judge, Judge Walker, was already overturned already in this case by both the 9th circuit and the U.S.  Supreme Court.  He so mishandled this case—

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  Overturned?

WRIGHT:  -- that they had to—yes, in rulings.  He wanted to open it up to—he changed the federal rules—

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you mean (INAUDIBLE) stayed his decision.  Right.  But let me ask you about the ruling.  Do you really—you‘re not worried.  Let me ask you where you stand on the—let‘s face it, a district court judge isn‘t going to decide this.  This is probably going to the Supremes.  But if you look at the decision they made about sodomy, where they said that couldn‘t be outlawed down in Texas, that they will probably look at that value again of liberty in the 14th Amendment and say liberty permits people to have same-sex marriage, just as the liberty clause permits to have sexual relations the same—between the same genders.  What—aren‘t you afraid that‘s going to happen?  I think you are.  That‘s my hunch.

WRIGHT:  And liberty does not permit people to redefine words.  In this case, we need to look at the ruling because that‘s what the higher courts are going to look at.  And Judge Walker in his ruling claimed that there are no benefits to children to have a mother and a father.  He claimed that it‘s an archaic view to say that there are differences between men and women.

I think when people look at the kind of outrageous and—outrageous statements that just don‘t comport with reality, they‘ll see that Judge Walker was using his position on this court to impose his own views, and he mishandled the trial itself in order to manipulate the case.

MATTHEWS:  Let me figure out where you‘re coming from.  Do you think it‘s all right for a gay person to teach in high school, in a public school?

WRIGHT:  You know, this is talking about marriage—

MATTHEWS:  No.  Yes or no.

WRIGHT:  You know, Chris—

MATTHEWS:  No.  No, I‘m asking you about—

WRIGHT:  No, Chris, you‘re—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking where you‘re coming from—

WRIGHT:  Chris, you‘re changing—

MATTHEWS:  -- because I‘m wondering whether your—no, I‘m asking—

WRIGHT:  I think you‘re changing—

MATTHEWS:  -- how broad is your opposition to gay rights—

WRIGHT:  I think—

MATTHEWS:  -- is what I‘m trying to figure out.

WRIGHT:  No, I think you‘re trying to change the subject because you realize the majority of Americans do define marriage—


WRIGHT:  -- as one man and one woman.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m trying to understand what this argument‘s about.  Is it about the gay—

WRIGHT:  And this—

MATTHEWS:  -- orientation of people?  Is it about two people getting together the same gender?  Maybe they‘re not going to have sex.  Who knows?  They just want to get married.

WRIGHT:  Yes, people—

MATTHEWS:  How does anybody know what goes on in a marriage?

WRIGHT:  Chris, are you afraid—

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people who are married, by the way, don‘t have sex.

WRIGHT:  Nobody was talking about sex, Chris.  People are afraid—

MATTHEWS:  Well, what are you talking about?  What is your opposition to two people the same gender having a marriage?  What is your opposition to it?

WRIGHT:  Yes.  Chris, people are free to make their own living arrangements.  They‘re not free to redefine marriage.  Marriage does impact the rest of society, and there is a common good—


WRIGHT:  -- especially for passing on to children, to have a mother and a father.

MATTHEWS:  How does the—how does two people of the same gender getting together in marriage stop anyone else from one sex marrying another sex?  How does it limit—there‘s not a limited number of marriage licenses, and if some gay couples take them up, there won‘t be enough for the other side.  Are you suggesting there‘s somehow a limit here, that somehow—no, I‘m serious because people are talking like somehow, gay marriage or same-sex marriage reduces somehow the number of parents—


MATTHEWS:  -- of different—


MATTHEWS:  Obviously, there‘s an advantage—

WRIGHT:  No, what is—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s nice to have a mother and a father.  I agree with you on that.  But most kids—a lot of kids in America, they don‘t have both parents, one from either gender.  So you‘re setting this as an ideal is fine and it‘s a very good value, perhaps, for you to hold or for me to hold.  But should it be the law?  And should we say that people cannot get married if they‘re from the same gender?  I wonder what you‘re getting—how does it, by the way, hurt traditional marriage to have gay marriage?

WRIGHT:  Let‘s look at what‘s happened in Massachusetts and in other parts of the country—


WRIGHT:  -- that—places in which same-sex marriage was imposed.  There ends up being discrimination and prejudice against people who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.  In Massachusetts, school children are taught, even against their parents‘ wishes, about homosexuality as young as kindergarteners.


WRIGHT:  In New Mexico, a photographer was sued because she declined to photograph a same-sex ceremony.  So yes, the idea of same-sex marriage and imposing it on us as a legal entity does result in and it leads to discrimination and prejudice against people who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

MATTHEWS:  What is your thoughts about where this is going?

WRIGHT:  Do you mean legally or culturally?

MATTHEWS:  No, under the law.  Do you think the courts are going to uphold it, the Supreme Court‘s going to uphold it?  Do you think Judge Kennedy may well—Judge Kennedy—I‘m looking at Anthony Kennedy because he was with the majority in the Lawrence case in Texas, where they said it was all right to have, well, sodomy, if you want to call it that, between two people and even those two people of the same gender.  The courts wouldn‘t get involved in that.  And you‘re saying what in that regard?  Because that‘s where Scalia said, I‘m afraid that ruling will open the door to the Supreme Court saying that same-sex marriage is OK, that that should be protected.

WRIGHT:  I think we‘ll have to wait and see.  I frankly can‘t divine what Justice Kennedy is going to do.  I think we can look at the facts of the case, though.  And the facts of the case are that evidence was presented that marriage between one man and woman provides a benefit to children and to society.  Sadly, the judge in the case so intimidated the witnesses that much of the evidence was not allowed to be presented, so he manipulated the case in that way.  I wonder if the Supreme Court is going to look at the true facts regarding marriage or—

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any problem—what are your problems with Judge Vaughn Walker?  You seem to have a problem with him personally.  What‘s your problem with him?

WRIGHT:  Well, look at how he handled the—how he mishandled the case.  He manipulated the case to intimidate the witnesses, to keep them from testifying.  He wanted to go on a witch hunt.

MATTHEWS:  I understood that he said that they had a weak case.  Like, the attorney general of California did not defend the law of California.  Wasn‘t that the real issue, there wasn‘t a case made on behalf of state law?

WRIGHT:  Well, let‘s remember who the attorney general is!  That‘s Jerry Brown.  But when—when he—

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well what does that tell you?  You don‘t like him, either.  These are people you don‘t like.  Go ahead.  I‘m trying to figure out what‘s wrong with them.  I understand you don‘t like them, but what‘s wrong with them?

WRIGHT:  No, no, no.  You know, Chris, please.  There—

MATTHEWS:  I mean, you‘re laughing at people here.

WRIGHT:  No.  No.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing at public officials.  I wonder what the joke is.  That‘s what I can‘t figure out.

WRIGHT:  Chris, let‘s take a breath.  The—Judge Walker manipulated the rules in the case to intimidate the witnesses on behalf of marriage, which, in fact, it did.  So a number of witnesses declined to testify, and then—


WRIGHT:  -- and then he dismissed the testimony of the two witnesses, just simply said, Oh, it‘s irrelevant.  And then he claimed that those of us that believe that marriage is between one man and one woman are irrational and bigoted.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I don‘t know why you keep talking about one man and one woman.  I haven‘t heard a big case for polygamy lately.  I don‘t know why you keep saying one man and one woman.

WRIGHT:  Well, actually, in the judge‘s—

MATTHEWS:  Where‘s that phrase coming from?

WRIGHT:  Because in the judge‘s ruling, he actually said that there shouldn‘t—two people of the same sex or someone who loves—

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.

WRIGHT:  -- someone of both sexes.  That opens the door to polygamy! 

Judge Walker opened the door to polygamy!

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  It sounds like you got a real problem with the gay orientation of people, to me.  You don‘t want to talk about teachers.  You don‘t want to talk about—the whole thing seems to be bothering you.

WRIGHT:  Chris, I think—Chris, I think you have a problem with talking about marriage!  You keep diverting the topic!

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just trying to figure out what your opposition is based upon, and I still don‘t get it.  It‘s not going to affect a marriage between a man and a woman.

WRIGHT:  Well, I—

MATTHEWS:  Tell me how it‘s going to affect—

WRIGHT:  I keep telling you—

MATTHEWS:  -- a marriage between a man and a woman.  Just give me that quick answer.  How does it affect the marriage between a man and a woman if people of the same sex get married?

WRIGHT:  Because homosexuality is then taught to their children in the schools.


WRIGHT:  It does—and it impacts our religious beliefs to be able to live out our beliefs that we then end up being persecuted.  Look at what happened to the people—


WRIGHT:  -- who supported Prop 8 in California!

MATTHEWS:  So this is going to end up—

WRIGHT:  They were harassed.

MATTHEWS:  -- leading to the persecution—

WRIGHT:  They were threatened.

MATTHEWS:  -- of straight couples, right?

WRIGHT:  Look at what happened in California!

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what you‘re saying?  You just said—

WRIGHT:  Look at what happened—

MATTHEWS:  -- it‘s going to lead to the persecution of—

WRIGHT:  -- in California!

MATTHEWS:  Is it going to lead to the persecution of straight couples?

WRIGHT:  Look at what happened in California—


WRIGHT:  -- and in Massachusetts.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I think that‘s—

WRIGHT:  Look at the facts!

MATTHEWS:  OK, it‘s—OK, thank you, Wendy Wright, for coming on.

WRIGHT:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Joining us now is “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, whose an MSNBC political analyst.  Perhaps that went on too long, but I sense—


MATTHEWS:  She‘s a wonderful person, I suppose, but she‘s taking a very broad-brush opposition.  A lot of people just don‘t like the gay situation.

FINEMAN:  Yes, but from the practical political point of view, the magic words that she spoke for her constituency were, “activist judge from San Francisco,” OK?  That‘s all you need to say.  You throw in the Supreme Court that now has two Barack Obama appointees—

MATTHEWS:  So they‘re going to run against Washington.

FINEMAN:  They‘ll run against Washington again.  They‘ll run against Sonia—the fear that Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will join with whatever majority can be composed to validate same-sex marriage.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  People were saying yesterday that the Republicans are too smart to shift from where they have strong ground—jobs, deficits, debt—to go toward something that is problematic for them and offends a lot of people.  But don‘t they—my question is, don‘t they gain a couple points, and therefore victory in some of those Midwestern, more conservative areas?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think the Democrats were already in trouble because of economics and because of dislike of Barack Obama in a lot of those swing districts in the House races.


FINEMAN:  But sure, a strong ruling—and she‘s right, this was a sweeping ruling by the judge out there, who said that there was no rational relationship—and that‘s the language you have to use in these kind of cases—no rational relationship between sanctifying traditional marriage and the success of society.  That‘s what he said.


FINEMAN:  That‘s going to drive them crazy.  And in those districts where a few votes in a low turnout election, which is going to be automatically mid-terms, older by nature, whiter by nature—


FINEMAN:  -- more conservative by nature, those people are coming out, but a few more might come out.  Just imagine if the result had been the other way.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Will the Republicans openly use this issue?

FINEMAN:  Well, I don‘t think you‘re going to see $50 million dropped by the Republican National Committee on it, but grass roots groups who speak discreetly to their own people are certainly going to use it.  They‘re going to talk about this judge.  They‘re going to talk about Kagan, Sotomayor—

MATTHEWS:  Sarah Palin is running—

FINEMAN:  -- et cetera, et cetera.

MATTHEWS:  -- as a Christian woman.  That‘s her pitch.

FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s her positioning.  She will use it.

FINEMAN:  Sure, she‘ll use it.  I think that this year—

MATTHEWS:  They‘re tweeting all over the place on this thing.

FINEMAN:  This year is more about economics.  The tea party is more about economics than cultural stuff, but this is undoubtedly an aid, short term and long term—


FINEMAN:  -- depending on what happens in the Supreme Court, to the culture war strategists.


FINEMAN:  This is what they do all the time.

MATTHEWS:  I get the feeling behind a lot of that concern about big government and concern about—you know, when they start using—like, Sharron Angle the other day saying it‘s a violation of the 1st Commandment of God from Mount Sinai, what the Democrats are doing.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, they do get back to those religious roots.

FINEMAN:  They put them together because Sharron Angle says—these people want to—“these people,” meaning Obama—want to put government ahead of God.  That is the summary of what their argument is in these mid-terms.

MATTHEWS:  I think the roots of a lot of the right-wingers are religious opposition—

FINEMAN:  Yes, that‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  -- to the modern world.  Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. 

Welcome back from vacation.

FINEMAN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Republicans are warming to the idea of changing or getting rid of a lot of the 14th Amendment and revoking what‘s called birthright citizenship, which means if you‘re born in this country, you‘re an American.  Democrats say, Bring it on.  It‘s better than talking about unemployment.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, the U.S. Senate this afternoon confirmed Elena Kagan‘s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Kagan will become the fourth woman Justice in U.S. history at the top court.  The Senate voted largely along political lines, or partisan lines, 63 to 37.  Nebraska‘s Ben Nelson voted against Kagan.  He‘s a Democrat.  He‘s the only one to do so.  Five Republican senators voted for her.  There they are—Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, both of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Judd Gregg, sort of the definition of reasonable-thinking Republicans these days.

HARDBALL will be right back.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here.  Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake—that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child‘s automatically not a citizen.

People come here to have babies.  They come here to drop a child.  It‘s called “drop and leave.”  To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child is automatically an American citizen.  That shouldn‘t be the case.  That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

When Senator Lindsey Graham lent his voice—you just heard it—to the Republicans saying the Constitution may need to be changed to end automatic citizenship for people born in this country, the issue exploded.  And Democrats responded by saying, pretty much, Bring it on.  They would rather talk about this than unemployment.

Joining me is Congressman Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the immigration task force of the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  Thank you, Congressman.  And Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.

Congressman Gingrey, I guess I‘m confused.  I understand why people are doing this because of the case of what seems to be cases—I don‘t know how many there are—of abuse, where people would actually come in this country, have a kid, then split. 

But how do you isolate that from the normal protection you get when you or I have a child here and they become Americans automatically?  How do you separate our children from somebody who comes here just to have a kid, then leaves, or whatever this “dropping” situation‘s about that Senator Graham‘s talking about?

REP. PHIL GINGREY ®, GEORGIA:  Well, that dropping situation, Chris, is what we refer to as “anchor baby.”  My good friend and former congressman, Nathan Dihl (ph), has a bill, which I‘m a proud co-sponsor of, that would eliminate that by very carefully defining what the 14th Amendment really is all about and who it‘s applicable to in regard to an alien who has a child in the United States, whether or not they become citizens of this country.

MATTHEWS:  How do you write that?  What‘s the language?  What language would you use?  Here‘s the language.  Let me read the language of the 14th Amendment, the provision we‘re talking about.  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

So there it is.  How would you change that to keep it from being abused, as you say?

GINGREY:  Well, Chris, as you point out, that language in section one of the 14th Amendment was written and passed I think in 1868, at a time when we had no immigration law.  There were very few, I think maybe 6,000, immigrants in a 10-year period back then.  So clearly, it was not written at all—

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but how do you change it—

GINGREY:  -- in regard to the immigration issue. 

Of course, it was written after the Civil War in regard to 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendment, ‘65, ‘68, and ‘70, abolishing slavery, making sure that everybody had the right to vote. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know all that.


MATTHEWS:  We all know the histories, Congressman, but how do you change it? 


MATTHEWS:  How do you change it? 

GINGREY:  Well, Chris, that‘s a great question.

MATTHEWS:  How do you have your kids become Americans, but—no, it is the great question.  People are talking so loosely about changing a fundamental part of our law, which is, if your kids are born here, they‘re Americans.  My kids are Americans because I was born here. 

But if you start talking about saying that doesn‘t apply to people born here, then you have got to go around and say—my grandparent, my grandmother came from Northern Ireland.  My grandfather came from England.  Most people in America, a lot of people are like that.  Their parents come from somewhere else, grandparents come from somewhere else. 

Would I have to prove they were here legally so that I could prove my parents are here illegally—legally, so that I could prove I‘m here legally?  How would you do the paperwork on this? 

GINGREY:  Well, Chris, that‘s why Nathan Deal‘s bill was so carefully written. 

I‘m not going to say that we need to knee-jerk and eliminate the 14th Amendment.  What I would say is, we ought to have congressional hearings on this issue and discuss the best way to do it. 

It may not be a congressional abolishment of the 14th Amendment, but simply legislation that defines exactly what the 14th Amendment means. 


GINGREY:  Ten percent of the children born in this country every year, Chris, are born to illegal immigrants. 

Every country of the European Union has eliminated anchor babies. 


GINGREY:  And we just cannot continue to do that.  It is far too costly. 


GINGREY:  This country is suffering with unemployment.  We need to address this problem. 

MATTHEWS:  I know. 

Let me go over to Congressman Gutierrez. 

The problem, Congressman Gutierrez, it seems to me, is who—if somebody comes here and has a kid and then heads out somewhere else, well, that would be an abuse of the Constitution, but I don‘t know how many cases there are like that, people that come here and split after they get the kid born here, because that would defeat the purpose of having the kid here.  Anyway, your thoughts about this move? 


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS:  First of all, I would say to my colleague, the House and the Senate can‘t abolish a—part of the Constitution. 

And I think that that—to—to say before an election, to pile on during this very tense time, where there is a debate about how it is we change our—our immigration policy, and to think it takes two-thirds of the members of the House and the Senate, and we know it takes three-quarters of the Senate to ratify that. 

We all know this is never going to happen.  And to use the Constitution of the United States to create more of an environment of kind of scapegoating and finger-pointing, and then to use—I can‘t think of a more vulnerable section of our population than that, and then they say they‘re Christians.  And then they say they‘re pro-family. 

And then they say, oh, let‘s protect the sanctity of marriage.  And then they say, I‘m pro-choice.  I‘m—no, then they say, I‘m pro-life.  Have that child under any circumstances.  But as soon as that child is born, they say, ooh, make it disappear from the United States of America. 

What are we going to do, have immigration agents in the maternity wards of our nation?  Think of the women, those of you who are pro-life, who will not go to a hospital, who will not go and seek out medical attention for that child, the most vulnerable.

Yes, let‘s live the sanctity, but let‘s not use those children to—they‘re not going to grow up to be criminals and roam our neighborhoods.  They‘re children. 

Let me just say this.  If you want—Chris, it seems to me, the Democrats have said, you want a biometric card?  That ends illegal immigration.  You want to go after employers?  That ends illegal immigration. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s me.  That‘s my position.  And I‘m not doing that as a Democrat.  Just, I think it‘s the right way to do it.  Stop illegal hiring. 


GUTIERREZ:  I agree.  I agree. 

And, so, I‘m for—it‘s in my bill.  It‘s the first two sections of the bill, the Democratic bill.  Today, Chris, 600 million more dollars in the Senate once it‘s approved for enforcement. 


GUTIERREZ:  So, we give them enforcement.  You know what they give us? 

They say, nah, let‘s not really do that.  Let‘s now go after children. 

They are simply piling on and corrupting the Constitution. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me—let me go back to Congressman Gingrey.

Do you want to respond?  And my question—by the way, are you for a fake-proof Social Security number, so you can‘t come in and cheat and get a job here?  You‘re for that, aren‘t you, Congressman?

GINGREY:  Absolutely, Chris. 


GINGREY:  And let me just say to my articulate, compassionate friend from Illinois, he‘s just flat wrong on this. 

This is not about Christianity.  He tries to lump all these things and say it‘s political.  It‘s political season.  The anchor baby bill of Nathan Deal was introduced in the last Congress, for goodness‘ sake.  This is about the rule of law.

And the American people are going to insist on it.  They have insisted on it.  And we cannot continue to let 10 percent of the births in this country from illegal immigrants become citizens of the United States. 

We have 70 welfare programs, not just TANF and food stamps and Medicaid and free care in the emergency room and free schooling in our public schools. 


GINGREY:  We are breaking this country if we don‘t solve that problem. 


MATTHEWS:  This is going to be very tricky to change, though.  And, look, I can understand the sentiment, if this is people coming here and abusing it and leaving and all that.


MATTHEWS:  But let me ask you this.  Here‘s the question.  If you‘re here on a student visa and you have kids here, should they be Americans, sir, Congressman Gingrey?  If you‘re here on a work permit, I mean, a green card, and you have got residence, but you‘re not a citizen yet, should they be citizens?  Let me ask you about those cases.

GINGREY:  They absolutely—I‘m glad you asked me that, Chris.  They absolutely should be.  And this is in the Deal bill. 

And we can deal with this, as I say, if we will have congressional hearings.  I can work with my colleague, Representative Gutierrez. 

MATTHEWS:  So, who would be excluded in the language?

GINGREY:  I respect him.  And let‘s have that dialogue. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, who would be excluded?  Suppose one parent is legal and the other one is not.  What would you do?  Suppose the father was an American and the mother was here illegally without papers?  What would you do then? 

GINGREY:  That would not be a citizen of the United States. 


MATTHEWS:  How about if the mother was American?  How about if the mother was American? 




GINGREY:  First of all, if the father is a citizen, the mother would come on a green card, because she is a spouse of a legal resident.  And, therefore, that child would legal.


MATTHEWS:  Suppose they‘re not married.  Suppose they‘re not married.  Suppose the woman comes here illegally and meets an American and has a baby.  Then what?  Who—is the baby an American or is it a foreigner?  This is how tricky it is.  Suppose the father—suppose the mother is American.  How about the mother is American?


GINGREY:  In that situation, Chris, that child would not be a citizen of the United States under the Deal bill.  And I completely agree with that. 


MATTHEWS:  My problem is that it gets really tricky, because the mother is American, but the father is foreign and here illegally.  Can you deny her, her baby as an American?  How would you do that?  She would just say it‘s somebody else‘s baby.  She wouldn‘t say the father is here illegally.  That‘s how tricky this gets. 


GINGREY:  Chris, you‘re bringing up questions that we need to discuss in congressional hearings. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what is called being a lawmaker.  And when you start proposing things—


GINGREY:  We actually need to sit down and do that in a bipartisan way. 


GINGREY:  We don‘t need a knee-jerk repeal of the 14th Amendment, but we can solve this problem by working together. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you how hard it is to change it, because if the mother is American and the father is here illegally, you cannot deny her American child to her, to the mother.  This is how tricky this business is, to be talking about this.  I think people ought to get the numbers and the wording correct before we talk anymore about it. 

Anyway, thank you, Congressman Gutierrez.

GUTIERREZ:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And thank you, Congressman Gingrey.  A good debate. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Sarah Palin thinks President Obama is in over his head.  Imagine that.  That goes straight in the “Sideshow.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  



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

Sarah Palin, the governor who left office halfway through her term, you know, the vice presidential candidate who was shielded from the press, who didn‘t know what the Bush doctrine was, who couldn‘t name the newspapers she read, well, this is the commentator who said on FOX last night that President Barack Obama is in over his head. 


SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  I think he‘s quite complacent and I think he‘s over—in over his head, and I think he has poor advisers around him.  And I think he‘s really in flux kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is.  Some of this, though, is a result of he not having much experience. 



MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know what to say.  I would love to see her take a simple test in American history, you know, high school level?  That would put a lot of what she says in perspective. 

Now to a little-known fact.  Comedian Jon Stewart and Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York roomed together after going to college. 

Well, last night on “The Daily Show,” Stewart gave his take on Weiner‘s war cry on the House floor last week.  Remember?  This was Weiner‘s response to a Republican block on a benefits bill for 9/11 responders. 


JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”:  I will—I will let him do the screaming for me. 

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  You vote yes if you believe yes. 

You vote in favor of something if you believe it‘s the right thing! 

Instead of standing up and defending your colleagues in voting no on this humane bill, you should urge them to vote yes!

I will not yield to the gentleman.

It is a shame, a shame! 

The gentleman will sit.  The gentleman is correct in sitting. 


STEWART:  In no way—in no way do I mean to diminish Congressman Weiner‘s passion on this issue, but that is exactly what it looked like when you used his peanut butter. 


STEWART:  The gentleman from New Jersey will pay a $1.50 for that Skippy, $1.50!


STEWART:  The gentleman is correct in paying $1.50!




MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine these two?  They should be in a sitcom together. 

Anyway, finally, those Quayle kids.  Yesterday, we reported accurately that the campaign of Arizona congressional candidate Ben Quayle identified a campaign mailer as containing the candidate posing with children who a campaign spokesman said were relatives of a Quayle staffer. 

Well, the campaign later corrected that, saying the two kids were children of the candidate‘s brother, even though, as we reported, they sure looked like they were being presented as the candidate‘s kids, but I‘m guessing this makes a little less like pretending. 

Anyway, We will be right back.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on



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

Stocks bouncing back a bit at the end, but still finishing lower on the day, the Dow Jones industrials slipping five points, the S&P 500 falling a point, and the Nasdaq giving up 10 points. 

Investors in a holding pattern today, ahead of tomorrow‘s July jobs report, reacting instead to some mixed retail sales numbers and a surprise jump in weekly unemployment.  First-time jobless claims climbing by 19,000 last week.  Economists had been expecting a drop of about 2,000.  Looking at July retail sales, as a rule, if sales rose, so did share prices.  Macy‘s, Limited, and Abercrombie & Fitch all exceeding expectations, J.C.

Penney, Aeropostal, and Hot Topic all missing the mark. 

In earnings news, media giant News Corp. easily beat expectations on both the top and bottom line.  And Kraft Foods posting after the closing bell, delivering better-than-expected profits, but coming up short on revenue. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Well, we got the heavyweights.

Joined right now by moderator of “Meet the Press” David Gregory and NBC White House correspondent and political genius Chuck Todd. 

You know, we didn‘t think this was going to happen.  At least I didn‘t.  All of a sudden, we‘re talking about gay marriage, same-sex marriage, right on the eve of an election, red meat in the old days, David.


MATTHEWS:  This was dynamite stuff for Republicans.  Are they still—do they still have the appetite for this issue, they use it and ram it down the Democrats‘ throat? 

GREGORY:  I don‘t think so, and I certainly don‘t think in the mainstream Republican Party, for a couple reasons. 

One, you saw very light reaction among mainstream Republican politicians to this.  There is not an immediate play in terms of what the federal government or Congress can do, number one. 

Number two, you have got a contender like Tim Pawlenty, who has been saying for a while—wants to run in 2012 -- this is not where the party should be going.  We should get away from social issues.

MATTHEWS:  Has he dumped the issue or taken sides for it? 

GREGORY:  He has—I don‘t know—I have not seen today whether he -



MATTHEWS:  Well, the president is not for same-sex either. 

GREGORY:  Well, he is not, but we will get to that in a second. 

The final issue is, where is all the energy right now in the Republican Party among conservatives?  It‘s Tea Party.  It‘s fiscal issues.  It‘s not social issues.  You could have a split among libertarians and social conservatives on this kind of thing.  


GREGORY:  So, I don‘t think that there is a lot of momentum behind it.  Activist judges, though, is a red button they can push, especially in an off-year. 

MATTHEWS:  Big government.  Well, is that the angle they will take, activist judges, big government telling us what to do? 


But I‘m trying to figure out, does the Republican base need motivating, any more motivating? 

MATTHEWS:  No, but -- 


TODD:  They are already there.  And even this issue, I will tell you this.  Democrats would love for Republicans to do nothing else than talk about this and take the issue -- 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Palin is going to do it.  The leader of the Tea Party movement, she talked about First Commandment violations yesterday. 


MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.  That was Sharron Angle.


TODD:  Let‘s see how long she takes it.  Let‘s see how long she spends on it. 

And I think any candidate that‘s—and we said—we were talking about this the other day—any candidate that wastes their time talking about this and not the economy, they‘re going to look like they‘re out of touch to the swing voter, who want to hear about the economy and jobs. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  A lot has changed.  Back in 2004, this was the issue that turned Ohio.  They had it on the ballot, same-sex.  And a lot of people believed that was the state that decided the election for George W.  Bush.  So, times have changed in just six years. 

GREGORY:  Well, you had referenda on state ballots at that time.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GREGORY:  And Rove and the president pushed it.

And in that case, they were talking about a federal ban, though.  They were talking about something the federal government could actually do here.  Here, I mean, the awkwardness with which this president approaches it is rather striking.  He does not believe in gay marriage, but he was opposed to Prop 8. 

MATTHEWS:  What does that mean?  How does that add up? 

GREGORY:  Well, right.  In other words, he is an equal rights guy, right, equal protection guy, but doesn‘t want to extend benefits for actual marriage. 

MATTHEWS:  Maybe he‘s ambivalent politically because he knows a lot of Americans in the middle are ambivalent. 

GREGORY:  But he writes about this in his book. 

MATTHEWS:  They‘re not nastily against it, but they‘re not enthusiastic.

GREGORY:  In “Audacity of Hope,” he writes, look, I may be on the wrong side of history here but this is how I feel.  And his—even his political manifesto, he writes about that.  But history is changing.

TODD:  This is a religious thing

MATTHEWS:  Six years, a lot of difference.

TODD:  But let‘s also remember, this is a religious thing for a lot of Democrats, for a lot of African-American Democrats.  So, this is not as sort of easily in a blue and red category as sometimes we want to—

GREGORY:  That‘s exactly.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me suggest something.  I‘m Roman Catholic, and the fact the Roman Catholic Church for years has opposed to divorce.  Now, in some cases, they recognize it in terms of, you know, what do we call it, annulment, in that form.  But in many ways, that‘s technical, on a point.

But they don‘t—but they don‘t say the federal government shouldn‘t recognize divorce.  They don‘t say the state shouldn‘t recognize divorce.  They simply don‘t recognize it in our own religion.

Can‘t you look at it that way?

TODD:  Here‘s what interesting about President Obama, though—


TODD:  Frankly, what is it, Laura Bush, the former first lady, very

recently interviewed, talked about that she thinks, I think, eventually,

that the country will accept the idea of gay marriage but the two of them

seem to be almost in the same place on this where they‘re for civil unions

and as David put it—equal protection, equal rights.



TODD:  -- benefits.  All of those things.  But the marriage thing seems to be a bridge too far.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s talk about an issue we agree.  I‘m sorry, David.

GREGORY:  No, I was—you just raised an issue—institutionally, you can still live with such prominence in our religious institutions and our communities.  You have a lot of people now saying, how about we just not codify it in some way, either for or against in the law.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s talk about an issue we know bites a lot of the country, not just the southwest, which is illegal immigration.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a reality.  We all agree it‘s a reality.  Everybody agrees, I think, on paper, at least, or informally, something has got to be done about it.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  You should have—every country should have a border that it respects.  There should be maybe liberal immigration policy, but it ought to be enforced, whatever it is.  Neither party seems they got a grip on what they really want done in the end.  The Democrats haven‘t quite figured it out.

What do the Democrats want a solution on this?  What do they want to do?

TODD:  They don‘t seem to have a—

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t have a polished position.

TODD:  They don‘t, because they‘re caught in this idea, yes, they may know that they got to send more troops to the border, they got to protect the border, but they don‘t want to—but they also want to have, as you put it, a liberal immigration policy, to make a path to citizenship, some people call that amnesty, but not to throw out 12 million.

MATTHEWS:  So, what‘s the Republican proposition, throw out the 12 million?  At least they say.

TODD:  Well, I was just going to say, the Republican Party is split on this a little bit.  The business community doesn‘t want this idea of just throwing out 12 million.  And that‘s where there is the split inside the Republican Party.  But the problem is, the populists have won on this issue.  Look, John McCain is with them.  Lindsey Graham is in a sense with them.


TODD:  Secure the border first.

MATTHEWS:  OK, this 14th Amendment.  It seems to me, if I were Hispanic, David, I would say this is personal.  This is ethnic.  They‘re not only going after changing the law and getting tougher, they‘re saying, if you were born here even if your parents were illegal, you feel like an American, you are an American, you go to school and you swear allegiance to this country and speak maybe very colloquial American English.  You are American in every way.

Now, they‘re saying, “Wait a minute, you‘re not American.”  And that‘s what these guys are saying about the 14th Amendment.

GREGORY:  The notion that you can somehow separate out a feeling that a mother has in Mexico who wants to come have a child in the United States and separate that up from the larger immigration issue, which is why—they want a better life for their children—


GREGORY:  -- which is why they‘re coming.

MATTHEWS:  But what about kids who are 18 years old right now, listening to us right now, saying, are those Republicans saying I‘m not American?

GREGORY:  Well, not only that, but it‘s also—if you are a conservative who wants to talk about the culture of life—as President Bush used to put it—and sanctity of life, how do you talk -- (INAUDIBLE) pointed out in his piece today—how do you talk about dropping the baby, coming across—


MATTHEWS:  Will this be an issue—this 14th Amendment—that hurt with the Hispanic voters in the Republican side?

TODD:  This could be the thing that goes over the cliff.

MATTHEWS:  And they just say—


TODD:  This could turn the Hispanics into a 90/10 Democratic voting bloc and good luck for the Republicans ever to get to the White House.  If they do this, they have to be very careful.

MATTHEWS:  Are the Republicans playing this just to hold hearings or are they serious about changing the 14th Amendment?

TODD:  I‘ll be honest—I was shocked when Lindsey Graham was with this.  You almost wonder—

MATTHEWS:  How about McCain and Kyl and Grassley?  A lot of them are jumping aboard this.

TODD:  I‘ll be honest—it doesn‘t make a lot of political sense.  I don‘t see the endgame for them on this.


GREGORY:  I don‘t know.  I agree.  I don‘t see it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we didn‘t think we‘d be talking culture this year because the economy is in such tough shape but here we are.

Thank you, David Gregory.

GREGORY:  You‘re welcome.

MATTHEWS:  “Meet the Press” this weekend.  Big guests?

GREGORY:  Yes, Boehner.  We have John Boehner.  I mean, I think is a big issue.  Where are the Republicans going?

MATTHEWS:  He‘s going to have to take (INAUDIBLE) of his position.

Thank you, Chuck Todd.

Up next: former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon is just five days away from becoming a Republican nominee for Senate candidate.  If she wins, the only man who could stop her is here next: Rob Simmons, the former congressman.  We‘re going to see what he‘s got against it.  Does he think wrestling is fixed?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Moments ago, we told you about the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.  Well, here is President Obama on that news.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today‘s vote wasn‘t just an affirmation of Elena‘s intellect and accomplishments.  It was also an affirmation of her character and her temperament, her open mindedness and even handedness, her determination to hear all sides of every story and consider all possible arguments.


MATTHEWS:  He‘s got a lot done.  Two Supreme Court nominees confirmed, health care, financial regulation, stimulus—a lot done in two years, President Obama.

HARDBALL will be right back.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

Tuesday‘s Republican primary in Connecticut pits former wrestling executive Linda McMahon against former U.S. congressman, Rob Simmons, who stopped campaigning actually 2 ½ months ago.  Quinnipiac new poll has McMahon leading Simmons 47 to 30 in the primary, with the third candidate, businessman Peter Schiff polling 14.  But the poll also finds, and this is critical, 38 percent might change their minds before Tuesday.

Here‘s the man who‘s hoping to change their minds—Rob Simmons joins us from Hartford.

Congressman Simmons, thanks for joining us.

Do you think professional wrestling is fixed?

ROB SIMMONS ®, FMR. U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Well, Linda McMahon says it‘s fixed.  It‘s some sort of a soap opera.  But the fact of the matter is, there are certain aspects to the business that really—well, they‘re really not that nice.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the steroids on the—the violence, the self-inflicted violence on the wrestlers?  I saw the movie “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke.  I got a very bad image of that sport.  It certainly isn‘t the stupid stuff I saw on Fabiani‘s wrestling growing up in Philly.  It looks much rougher and more disgusting than that.

Your thoughts on the business of professional wrestling—should the person who made their millions in that field represent Connecticut in the U.S. Senate?

SIMMONS:  First and foremost, they should take better care of the people that helped them make that money.  They don‘t get any health care.  A lot of them are dying before they‘re 50.  And I think there are—there are some real problems with the steroid use and abuse in that industry that they have not answered for.

MATTHEWS:  Now, in this race, let me ask you about Dick Blumenthal, the attorney general.  I am concerned, I‘ll say it, I‘ve said on the show, if I ever heard a person say they fought in Vietnam and they didn‘t, I wouldn‘t have much time for that person.  In fact, I wondered something psychologically.

How could you every time someone who came up to you as a patron and said, “Thank you for your service,” believing that you served in Vietnam, you could say, “Thank you for saying that,” and not say—wait a minute, I was in the reserves, I didn‘t actually serve up there?  How could you have not that feeling, wait a minute, I got to the not take that thank you for your service, I didn‘t earn it?

What do you make of the character issue here?  Or is there one?  It‘s your call.

SIMMONS:  I think it‘s a huge character issue.  And what I tell people is, there are three good reasons to reconsider Dick Blumenthal.  When you look at my ribbon bar, I got three ribbons here that show that I did serve in Vietnam.  He has none and he has said he did serve in Vietnam.  He said it on tape.  He said in press conferences, and some would say, even in written correspondence.  That‘s a character issue.

And don‘t misunderstand me, I served 30 years in the reserves after my active duty.  I‘m proud of my reserve service.  He should stay proud of his reserve service and not encroach on those who served over in Vietnam.

MATTHEWS:  How can he vote for a war if he‘s had that record?

SIMMONS:  I think it‘s very hard for him and I think it‘s very hard for him to run against somebody like me, which is why we‘re still more or less in a dead heat in a head-to-head between me and Dick Blumenthal or Linda McMahon and Dick Blumenthal.  And yet, she spent $24 million and I have not.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take—I think we have a tape.  Let‘s take a look at an ad that Linda McMahon, I‘ve heard her point with this ad.  Here‘s a McMahon ad.  See if you think it influences the voters of your state.

Connecticut is a pretty smart state.  Let‘s see if they go for this.


LINDA MCMAHON ®, CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Linda McMahon.  It‘s time for something different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, what do you think about Linda McMahon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, like what she‘s saying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What about the wrestling stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Not exactly my cup of tea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s a soap opera.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Look, she tamed the traveling show world of professional wrestling, turned it into a global company and created 500 jobs here in Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All right.  So, think she can shake things up in Washington?




MCMAHON:  I‘m Linda McMahon, and I approve this message.


MATTHEWS:  Geez.  I don‘t know.  What do you make of that?  I mean, a very slick ad.  I don‘t know, attractive women obviously.  Is that supposed to impress people that many somehow wrestling isn‘t sleazy because the people on this paid ad, these actresses, aren‘t sleazy?

SIMMONS:  Well, I think it makes those two women look a little bit like airheads.  Look, I‘m like you, back in the days when I was a kid, I saw Haystack Calhoun wrestle in New London.  It was a lot of fun.  It was a carnival show.

But when you see a Down‘s syndrome wrestler being beat up and abused and his head pushed in a toilet by Mrs. McMahon‘s husband and son, that‘s not funny.  And that ad simply ridicules some of the ugly behaviors that they‘ve promoted as soap opera.

It‘s not soap opera.  It‘s ugly.  It shouldn‘t be marketed to our children.

MATTHEWS:  Could you, under any circumstances, vote for Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate?

SIMMONS:  As a—as a loyal Republican, I‘ve said repeatedly, I will support the party-endorsed candidates.  The nature of that support remains to be seen.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Dick Blumenthal—do you think he has got a character problem?

SIMMONS:  I think Dick Blumenthal can be defeated because Dick Blumenthal has been living in a glass house for a long period of time, coming out only to sue certain people and take on certain issues.  He‘s not taken responsibility for the policies that are coming out of Washington, D.C.—for the stimulus package and so on and so forth.


SIMMONS:  And I think I can beat him on all those issues.

MATTHEWS:  I just—I personally just wish he would straighten out his war record and then I would respect a lot more.

Thank you very much, Rob Simmons—

SIMMONS:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  -- Republican candidate for Senate in the great state of—the Nutmeg State of Connecticut.

When we return, I‘m going to tell you what I think about those Republicans who love the Constitution so much, they keep trying to change it.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Quote, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Well, some senators now say they don‘t like this provision.  They don‘t like all the Hispanics who have come here legally, illegally and have had children here.  They want this provision of the 14th Amendment changed.

Is that what we want to do say that the children of immigrants, no matter how they got here, are not Americans?  Is this what we want do?  Tell young people growing up in America to know they are not one of us, that they belong somewhere else back in the old country of their parents?  Is this a way to assimilate people into our American culture and values telling them to go back to where their parents came from?

What about the children of children of illegal immigrants?  Do we tell them, even though their parents were born, they are still not American, they still need to go back home and that their home is back in the country of their grandparents?  And how on earth do you enforce this new cauterized 14th Amendment?

My grandmother came from Northern Ireland, my grandfather from England.  I assume they came here legally but I don‘t know about it, or how they got here anyway.  I certainly couldn‘t take an oath on the matter again because I don‘t know.

What I wanted (ph) to cite Senators Graham and Kyl and the rest are now preparing to wield, would I be declared a foreigner once the 14th Amendment is not what it was?

I‘m not big on this long list of constitutional amendments people are forever sporting about.  They go them on—they got them on abortion, on prayer in public school, or on marriage, all kinds of amendments to the Constitution.  The weirdest thing is that they‘re always being promoted and valued by the same folks who struck their fealty to the Constitution as written.

Isn‘t it odd that the strict constructionist who now can‘t wait to tear down the very structure that has guarded our freedoms all these years?  They remind me of the spouse who gets married saying she loves the other person then immediately start saying, “There‘s this one thing about you I‘d like to change.  In fact, there are a number of things I‘d like to change.”

They want to change the Constitution they love because they don‘t really like it the way it is.

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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