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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Guests: Chuck Todd, Pat Buchanan, Amanda Drury, Eugene Robinson, Howard Fineman, Michelle Bernard, David Corn, Chris Coons

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Drums along the Delaware.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

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

Castle‘s falling.  Who‘s safe?  What politician does not live in fear right now, after what happened last night?  If the most unbeatable of institutions, a beloved politician like Michael Castle, can fall, who knows for sure he or she will be standing come this November 2nd election night?

Yes, the first walls to fall have been the Republicans.  They were the first line of defense of the way things are.  Watch what happened to them.  Now come the Democrats, crowded in the last redoubt.  Will they do better than the Republican palace guard of Specter, Bennett, Murkowski and all the other pillars of the Grand Old party establishment, the country clubbers, the moderates, the RINOs, and most hated of all, Washington office holders?

Bill Clinton said yesterday that even George W. Bush looks like a liberal compared to Republicans running today.  Great line.  But are the Dems whistling past the graveyard?  The Republican Party has already been taken by Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.  Will the victories of the right slow them down or cheer them on?  That‘s our top story tonight, for the simple reason no one knows.  Tonight, we‘ll meet one man they have to beat, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons, who now faces the brunt of the onslaught of Christine O‘Donnell.

Plus, are the Democrats getting wiser, sharper, stronger in their defense, or are they pointing their guns in the wrong direction?  They wanted the moderates to lose so they could face Rand Paul and Sharron Angle and Ken Buck and Linda McMahon and Marco Rubio, now Christine O‘Donnell.  Do they now stand naked before an enemy they once thought weak?  And what does the tea party takeover mean for 2012?  Does the national party get on board and nominate a right-winger?  Are we looking at 1964 all over again?

And “Let Me Finish” with a thought, a look at the voter rage we‘re seeing this year and why no one in office should feel immune to it.

And we have one important election result right now.  It‘s made official late this afternoon.  In the Republican primary for the United States Senate up in New Hampshire, former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte, Sarah Palin‘s choice, beat back a strong challenge from conservative Ovide Lamontagne.  Ayotte won by less than 2,000 votes.

We start tonight with the smell of battle that lingers from last night, the grand old tea party.  Chuck Todd is NBC News political director, as well as chief White House correspondent, and Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst.

Chuck, in the White House inner sanctum, where you meet sometimes with the true heart of that administration, are they sure they‘re lucky the right is winning these battles in the Republican Party?

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  I will say this.  They act as if there‘s a little bit of a bounce in their step today, as if they see a path to survival.  I‘m not going to say it‘s a path to victory but a path to survival.  Suddenly, you hear these guys talk about, Man, maybe Democrats will hold the Senate.  You know, maybe this—maybe the Republican Party is going to be too extreme for the middle of the country, and while they may have short-term success in November, that when they get to—when they get to Washington, the chaos of it is going to allow the president to look like the reasonable adult in the crowd.

So in essence, first of all, I think they‘re just relieved that for three days, a couple of days, they‘re not the punching bag, and instead, the media is all focused on this intraparty feud.  And frankly, it is.  Look, let‘s—this is a purging and political parties do this every one—every time and again, particularly right after they‘ve had a bad defeat.  The Republican Party has been purging itself of not just the moderates but of sort of the people that have been the “go along, get along,” in their minds...


TODD:  ... anybody that has worked with this White House.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think they‘re wrong.  Here are the tea party candidates who have shocked the Republican establishment this year—

Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware, Joe Miller in Alaska, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Mike Lee in Utah, Ken Buck in Colorado.

You know, I have to tell you, Pat, back in the ‘70s in Utah, had an old great senator, Frank Moss, who thought, Oh, great, we‘re going to run against Orrin Hatch.  He‘ll be easy to beat.  He‘s a far right-wing guy.  We would rather against—a moderate would be tough.


MATTHEWS:  Back in the White House with Jimmy Carter, Oh, Ronald Reagan, he‘ll be easy to beat.  He‘s a winger.  He‘s way out there.  He‘s lost twice already.  Every time the liberals think, Hey, great, we‘re running against a far right-winger, they lose.

BUCHANAN:  Well, I do think that there‘s no doubt that Mike Castle would, on paper, be a much stronger candidate in this race.  And I think...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why didn‘t he win?

BUCHANAN:  Well, very simple because the people at the grass roots said to the Republican national establishment, You don‘t pick our nominees.  You don‘t impose them on us.  We pick them here.  You guys for eight years or more than that under Bush, destroyed the Republican Party 2006.  We lost both houses.  You nominated somebody that got less of the vote in California than Barry Goldwater.  Now, thank you, we‘ll pick our own leaders.  And I think it‘s an excellent message to send.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that‘s the speech that Everett Dirksen gave.

BUCHANAN:  Twice you have taken us down the road to...


MATTHEWS:  ... frightening.  That was 1952!


TODD:  Chuck, here‘s Karl Rove.  Let‘s get to the Republican intramurals.  I want Chuck to jump in here.  Here‘s Karl Rove and Sean Hannity on Fox last night with one point of view.  Let‘s listen.


KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH SR. ADVISER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR:  It does conservatives little good to support candidates who, at the end of the day, while they may be conservative in their public statements, do not evince the characteristics of rectitude and truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for.


ROVE:  There‘s just a lot of nutty things she‘s been saying that just simply don‘t add up.

HANNITY:  Sounds like you—sounds like you don‘t support her, but I will tell you, I think...

ROVE:  I‘m for the Republican, but I got to tell you, we—I—we—we were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate, we‘re now looking at seven to eight, in my opinion.  This is not a race we‘re going to be able to win.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s one point of view, which is a bad night for republicans last night because the winger, Christine, won.  Here‘s the other point of view, Chuck.  Respond to this.  Here‘s Limbaugh today reacting to Karl Rove.  Let‘s listen.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Why not fight for it?  You know, Castle‘s OK as the 51st vote, but this woman isn‘t, with her character problems, her rectitude—as the Democrats, for crying out loud—what did we ever hear about the character of Ted Kennedy?  When do we ever hear about the character—for God‘s sakes, the character of Barack Obama?  Does anybody not give a—he is destroying our country!


MATTHEWS:  Chuck, your thoughts.  Is Rushbo right or is Karl Rove right?  Bad night, good night?

TODD:  Well, here‘s the thing.  On Mike Castle, if you are a Rush Limbaugh conservative, a Jim DeMint conservative, OK, and you feel like that, you know, this is—this is—this is where you stand on these issues, then you‘re right.  You don‘t want Mike Castle in the Senate because Mike Castle‘s probably going to be a guy that will take an Oval Office meeting, that will figure out a way to work with—with President Obama‘s agenda, whatever it is, in 2011, and that is what is unacceptable right now.

I think what you have here is this split between Karl Rove, who still believes political power matters—sometimes you got to—you know, you got to compromise on your ideology to get it—and Jim DeMint, who says, You know what?  Look, you‘re better off—you‘re better off shutting down the government in some form or another, or shutting down the party.  You know, don‘t compromise to the point of where power—is it really worth it if Mike Castle and Scott Brown, at the end of the day...



MATTHEWS:  Chuck, I hear you.  You‘re doing the absolute accurate reporting here.  And yet, based upon all the tactical facts, there‘s no doubt that Mike Castle was a better bet in the fall.  He was the reason...

TODD:  Of course.

MATTHEWS:  He was the reason why the Bidens didn‘t—but I want to tell you what I saw last night.  I‘m going to talk about it at the end of the show.  I‘m not looking at these races one at a time, I‘m looking at the juice in the voters.

BUCHANAN:  Right.  Look at the...

MATTHEWS:  The desire to get to that voting booth and vote with all you got against what‘s going on now.

BUCHANAN:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  And if that comes at the Democrats in November, that juice, that, I‘m getting rid of these bums—if that‘s what fires up the voters on November 2nd, the Democrats are screwed.  That‘s what I think.  Your thoughts?

BUCHANAN:  She may be flawed—she may be flawed, but she‘s young, she‘s fresh, she‘s pretty.  Quite frankly, she gets up there, she‘s happy.  She‘s going to be a fighter.  And the trouble with Rove and these folks is they‘ve been corrupted by power.  All they care about is, Let‘s get back in and get our 50 seats and our chairmanship and all that.  That‘s not how a great movement is created.

Barry Goldwater, whatever you say about him, we were proud of going down to defeat with him and we preferred to have gone down than to have won with Rockefeller or Scranton.  And when you get that kind of energy, fire and enthusiasm, eventually, that‘s what translates into five or six presidential wins.

MATTHEWS:  Your description, by the way, of perhaps winning overfired party, or losing—the Democrats don‘t have that juice right now.

BUCHANAN:  They have don‘t have it.  They had it with Obama!

MATTHEWS:  And the Republicans have it.  They had it two years ago.  Let‘s take—DeMint here, making the case for juice.  You may not win every race, but you got to picked person you believe in.  Here he is talking to  Let‘s listen.


SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Well, I don‘t want the majority back if we don‘t believe anything.  I came into the Senate, we had 55 senators, a large majority in the House, Republican in the White House.  And frankly, we didn‘t do what we said we were going to do.  So I think if we want the numbers, if we want the majority, then we‘re going to have to stand on some principles that the American people believe in, not so much political principles but just common sense economic principles...


MATTHEWS:  What kind of a Democratic Party is it going to be, Chuck, if it has to win elections by personally trashing the opponent, whether it‘s Christine O‘Donnell or Sharron Angle?  In other words, don‘t win because people like you, don‘t ask people to like Harry Reid or like Chris Coons, who‘ll be on the show in a minute—we‘ll see whether people like him or not—just say how terrible the other person is and you can‘t afford to let him in there.  That‘s no way to build a spirited political movement, it seems to me.  Your thoughts.

TODD:  Well, it‘s not, but when things unpopular—look, it‘s not the first time where we‘ve seen that‘s how, quote, unquote, candidates survive, whether it was Chuck Robb, you know, making sure everybody had a certain view of Ollie North back in 1994 or what we‘re seeing Harry Reid do to Sharron Angle.

At this point, you know, the voters in the middle are so upset, they‘re not listening to a positive argument right now.  They‘re only listening to a negative argument.  The question I have is—you see how this can benefit the Republicans short term, with enthusiasm, with getting people fired up.  How does this benefit long term?  Where does this leave the Senate?

If the Senate becomes—if this town becomes a town that is even more gridlocked than it is now, and then the Republicans own this—look, you know, I had somebody e-mail me today and said, Hey, I‘m from Minnesota. 

We‘ve tried this tea party experiment.  We did it in the version of Jesse

Ventura, and four years—about two years after the fact, they got over

it.  And this person was sort of predicting that‘s probably the way this

angry middle-of-the-road voter might right be now, tempted to say, Throw

them all out, what the heck, give these tea partiers a chance—they‘re

not going to like what they get because these guys might come here and say

grind the gears, you know?  Put the brakes on.

BUCHANAN:  But look, Republicans don‘t necessarily lose with Harry Reid sitting up there as the face of the Democratic Party in Washington, D.C., him and Obama.  Frankly, I talked to a conservative said he hopes Pelosi, Reid and Obama are the face of the Democratic Party going into 2012.

The key, Chris, is to do what Nixon did in 1966, ‘68, bring that conservative base, which was disenchanted with the Rockefellers and (INAUDIBLE) bring those guys together and try to reach that working class Democratic group, which is frankly, the national majority.  And those are the guys you got to get back, the working class...


MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.  That‘s what happened when you came back strong in ‘68.  But can you be marriage counselor between the party of Sarah Palin and the party of Mike Castle?  How do you get them together at the altar?

BUCHANAN:  Mike Castle‘s in the back of the bus.

MATTHEWS:  OK, but how do you get the Republican...

BUCHANAN:  You need the...


MATTHEWS:  ... the tea party people get excited about Mitt Romney?

BUCHANAN:  That is Mitt Romney‘s problem, to get those guys excited. 

That‘s exactly right.  But you‘re right...

MATTHEWS:  And you like Romney.

BUCHANAN:  I think Romney‘s a good guy, but I‘ll tell you...

MATTHEWS:  Is he a leader?  Is he a charismatic leader of the right?

BUCHANAN:  If he has not called Ms. O‘Donnell by today and said, When would you like me to come in...


MATTHEWS:  He‘s already sent her some money.

BUCHANAN:  Oh, he has?

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.


MATTHEWS:  Chuck, we‘re reporting the news to Pat Buchanan here...


MATTHEWS:  ... that Christine O‘Donnell has already got a nice big, financial kiss from—well, not passionate...

BUCHANAN:  Well, he ought to!


BUCHANAN:  Well, this is what Romney‘s going to say.  We‘re going to get everybody together...


MATTHEWS:  I finally got you stumped, which is how do you—Chuck, that‘s the question of the next two years, after this election.

TODD:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  How does the right deal with the center right?  How does the Republican Party put together a coalition of the wild Christian conservatives out there on the right, with the people that usually win elections?

TODD:  Well, and look, don‘t forget, this White House is going to have a lot of fun.  Look, I have a feeling—Bob Bennett, Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, I‘ll throw in Arlen Specter—a lot of these sort of disenchanted Republicans that, you know, either got lost or forced out of the party, that suddenly, they‘re going to have higher profiles in the Obama administration in some form or another.  You‘re going to see the president playing with this.  These guys are not stupid.  They‘re going to mess around and try to create these problems...

BUCHANAN:  Chuck, Chuck...

MATTHEWS:  ... so that Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are also...



BUCHANAN:  You‘re talking about road kill.  You‘re talking about road kill.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think...


BUCHANAN:  I mean, Arlen Specter?

MATTHEWS:  ... losing Republicans.

BUCHANAN:  Arlen Specter is not the wave of the future!

MATTHEWS:  I know Fox is for the right.  I don‘t know which this network is (INAUDIBLE) Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd, great reporting.


BUCHANAN:  OK, fella.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Christine O‘Donnell now faces Democrat Chris Coons in general election Delaware, and that‘s the matchup that has Democrats feeling good.  Chris Coons joins us live in one or two minutes when we return.  We‘re going to have the guy on that has to face the full fire of the tea partiers.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, this is unpleasant.  Meg Whitman, running for governor of California, has broken the all-time campaign spending record in her quest to become governor of California.  Whitman‘s campaign reported another $15 million contribution, bringing her personal donation up to $119 million.  And that surpasses the previous record of $108 million set by New York mayor Mike Bloomberg in a reelection campaign last year.  Remember how the communists would say the rich people run our government?

HARDBALL returns after this.




forward, I hope that my Democratic opponent learns the same lesson that my

Republican opponent learned, that dirty politics will backfire.  In a state

like Delaware, where it‘s small enough to get to know all of the voters,

that is exactly what we intend to do this next month-and-a-half.  It won‘t

it didn‘t work for Castle, it won‘t work for the Democrats.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That‘s Republican Senate nominee Christine O‘Donnell of Delaware today referring to her next opponent as “the Democrat.”  He joins us now.  Chris Coons is Newcastle County executive in Delaware and the Democratic nominee for United States Senate.

Chris, thank you for joining us tonight.  You‘ve got an interesting challenge ahead of you.  She is a very attractive candidate, very charismatic.  She doesn‘t want you talking about her.  Is that a fair rule of engagement, you can‘t talk about her background, you can‘t criticize her financial dealings?  Is that a fair way to look at an election?

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE:  Well, Chris, thanks for a chance to be on.  I think the right way to look at this is the way Delaware‘s voters look at it, which is they want to know what the ideas are that Christine O‘Donnell or I would bring to the U.S. Senate.  They want to know what the next senator from Delaware is going to do to fix our economy, to get this country back on track, to tackle federal spending and the debt and to really solve their real problems.

If in the course of that, we get into some exchange about ideas, about our background, about our experience, I think that‘s great.  I think that‘s constructive.  But I do agree that Delawareans really don‘t like the kind of personal negative attacks that characterized the Republican primary, and it may have had some real role in its outcome yesterday.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that she‘s qualified to be United States senator, to walk in the United States Senate door and make major national decisions about war and peace and fiscal policy?  Big questions.  Can she handle them?

COONS:  Well, Chris, the role of the United States senator is, as you put it, a big job.  You have to be prepared to speak to a whole range of issues, domestic, international, not just for Delaware but for the whole country.  I think it‘s important in the next couple of weeks, as we put our background and our experience out there, for Delawareans to have a chance to really look closely at my opponent‘s experience and background.

She‘s dedicated most of her public life to a fairly narrow range of social issues and has fairly conservative views on those and very limited experience in managing anything, in being involved in the private sector or the public sector.  And I think that should raise some real concerns for them.  But I think that‘s judgment, ultimately, Delaware‘s voters going to have to make.


MATTHEWS:  Are you personally put off by her—

COONS:  I want to focus on the things that I have done in office and the things that I offer—

MATTHEWS:  Right.  I—

COONS:  -- to Delaware‘s voters. 


MATTHEWS:  Are you personally put off by the fact that she led this very strong, charismatic, Catholic/Christian campaign on sexual issues over the years, that she spent part of her time getting well known on those issues?  Does it bother you personally that someone like her, with that background, should run for public office? 

COONS:  No, that—that doesn‘t bother me personally, Chris. 

I mean, I think—I respect anybody who steps up and takes on the challenge of running for office.  She has run three times for the United States Senate from Delaware.  And anybody who runs for office, local or national, I think, takes on a real challenge. 

I have spent the last six months listening to Delaware‘s voters, meeting with Delaware‘s working families, and hearing their real concerns.  There is a lot of folks who are anxious, who are angry, who have lost their jobs, lost their homes, who are having trouble making ends meet.


COONS:  And I think that contributed to the real momentum for change that we saw in 2008, that lots of folks voted for and worked for in 2008.

And they are frustrated about not getting the change out of Washington that they were looking for.  And I think that contributed to the outcome in the primary yesterday in Delaware. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think President Obama has done a good job? 

COONS:  I do, overall.  There are some things I differ with him on.  I am a Democrat.  I would like to see the Democratic Party and our elected leaders have the opportunity to make real progress. 

And I think the Senate and the House and the president have passed a number of very important pieces of legislation in these very difficult times.  But there‘s also things I have disagreed with the president on. 

I‘m going to Washington hopefully as the next senator from Delaware, not to represent the party, but to represent all the people of Delaware, to fight—


COONS:  -- for the sort of independent and moderate, fiscally conservative solutions that Delawareans have always championed and that Congressman Castle, frankly, for most of his career, also championed. 

MATTHEWS:  Would have you voted for the health care bill as it came to the floor?  Would have you voted for fin-reg, financial regulations, as it came to the floor, those big two issues?  As they were voted on, on final passage, would have you have voted yea or nay? 

COONS:  I would have voted yes on both of them, Chris. 

But I do think one of the big challenges that faces the Senate in the future, the Congress in the future and the country in the future is making sure that, as those two landmark pieces of legislation are implemented, that we keep a close eye on how they are contributing to the growth in health care costs, whether we rein in health care costs without squelching innovation. 

Health care is one of our greatest areas for innovation, for export, for employment.  And we need to make sure that we are not squelching that at the same time that we are reining in the growth in health care costs.  I also think that financial regulation, Wall Street reform is important.  It is a great way for us to protect consumers.  It‘s a way for us to make our economy and our markets more strong, more robust, more transparent. 

But there‘s a lot of details in both of these bills that I would disagree with and I look forward to working hard on with friends and allies in Congress and in Delaware to make sure that we are responsibly implementing—


COONS:  -- these landmark pieces of legislation. 

MATTHEWS:  Have you asked Congressman Castle for his endorsement? 

COONS:  I had a private conversation with the congressman last night. 

He is someone I have respected for a long time. 

I have known him since I was in high school.  And he has served Delaware well for 30 years as a statewide elected official.  I thanked him for his service.  I expressed my gratitude for everything he has done.  And we are going to continue that conversation.

But, at this point, I have not asked for an endorsement.  I think it‘s important for the congressman and his wonderful wife, Jane, and all of their friends and supporters to have a chance to process what happened yesterday. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you like to have him endorse you? 

COONS:  Yes.  I would be honored to have the support and the endorsement of a man who served our state for the last 30 years as a two-term governor and a nine-term congressman. 

I do not agree with all of his positions.  I was preparing to run against him this fall in a way that drew the sharp distinctions between us on a few key issues.  But there‘s lots of ways in which the congressman, I think, has served our state well. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Chris Coons, who is running against Christine—are you going to debate her on television? 

COONS:  We have our first candidate forum tomorrow night.  We are working on scheduling debates. 

I do think Delaware‘s voters deserve the chance to hear the differences between both of us. 


COONS:  So, I look—


COONS:  -- forward to debating her. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we would like to have her on here.  We wouldn‘t mind having both of you on together at some point. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.  It‘s up to the—up to—obviously up to her as well. 

Thank you very much. 

Up next—

COONS:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  -- why did Sharron Angle back out of a debate?  She was supposed to debate Harry Reid.  She challenged him to a debate and then said, I don‘t want to do it.  Is she worried or is she getting ahead of him in the polls and doesn‘t think she needs it?  Lots of questions here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


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

First:  Wasn‘t this your idea?  Here‘s Sharron Angle back in June throwing down the gauntlet to Senate Leader Harry Reid during an interview with Nevada reporter Jon Ralston. 


SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, Jon, what I think is interesting is that we are nitpicking on all of these little topics that Harry Reid is throwing out there.  What I would like to see—


JON RALSTON, REPORTER:  Harry Reid didn‘t throw this out there.  You put it out there. 


ANGLE:  What I would like to see is Harry Reid come into this studio with you and I and have a true debate. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, a real debate.  Well, Senator Reid accepted the debate, was set for October 21, a Thursday night, which is a great night for getting a big audience on television.

But what happened?  Angle just declared she would not be participating in the very debate she asked for originally.  Her alibi?  Quote: “We have always been very clear that we didn‘t want to debate after early voting started because we wanted an informed electorate.”

Well, early voting starts just five days before this now-canceled October 21 debate.  Ralston estimates that around 80 percent of the electorate wouldn‘t have voted by that point. 

All that aside, how would an extra hour or so of Angle answering questions make the electorate less informed?  Methinks she protests too much. 

Next: burn notice.  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gave us their takeaways on last week‘s debacle stirred by that crazy pastor down there in Florida. 


PASTOR TERRY JONES, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER:  The American people do not want the mosque there.  And, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran. 

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Exactly.  Destroying a religious symbol and building a religious center are really the same thing, if you don‘t think about it. 


COLBERT:  And I will tell you who really hasn‘t thought about it:

Sarah Palin‘s Facebook page. 




JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”:  So, did Yosemite Jones burn the Koran, like he promised? 


JONES:  We feel that God is telling us to stop. 

STEWART:  Oh, really?  God‘s telling you to stop.  When God told you to do it originally, he hadn‘t anticipated the backlash?  Is that it? 


STEWART:  Let me ask you this.  When God told you not to burn the Koran, did it sound something like this?  “Don‘t be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot, dude.”


STEWART:  Because that‘s not God. 


STEWART:  That‘s everybody. 



MATTHEWS:  Did you get the rest of the story there?  Pastor Jones never met with Imam Rauf or the organizers of the Islamic center near Ground Zero when he did travel to New York.  So, why did he go to New York? 

Finally, listen to what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say about his city‘s first attempt at using electronic voting machines. 


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  We have been told of some polling sites that opened two to four hours late.  That is a royal screw-up and it is completely unacceptable. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, New York ditched its old lever machines for ballot scanners.  But, across the city, voters complained the type was too small and the ballots too hard to feed into the scanners.  The city‘s Board of Election says they will work on fixing the problems in time for November‘s general election. 


Coming up:  Will Tea Party victories like Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware actually energize Democrats?  They need something to rev them up, of course.  So, should they be happy today or should they be careful what they are wishing for? 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Mandy Drury with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Well, stocks closing near their highs after struggling for much of the day, the Dow Jones industrials moving 46 points higher, the S&P 500 adding four points, and the Nasdaq climbing by 11.

Well, the markets battling back after a couple of disappointing economic reports, mortgage applications tumbling nearly 9 percent this month, refinancing also slowing down, and a real estate tracking Web site says sellers are slashing prices for a third straight month. 

Meantime, manufacturing activity in the New York area plunged to its lowest level in more than a year, while economists had been expecting an uptick for that region. 

But do take a look at the bigger national picture, which shows industrial production growing slowly, but steadily, in line with expectations in the month of September. 

In stocks, MasterCard shares surging more than 5 percent on a blockbuster long-term earnings forecast.  And Yahoo! shares are also up after saying it will not sell its 39 percent stake in a Chinese Internet firm. 

And that is it from CNBC.  We are first in business worldwide.  It is back to HARDBALL. 


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The Republicans in Delaware nominated somebody that they don‘t believe can win, I think in the words of the state party chair, couldn‘t be elected dogcatcher. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That is White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, of course, today on Republican Senate primary winner Christine O‘Donnell. 

She and other Tea Party Republicans have knocked off the establishment candidates in primary after primary.  But are Democrats underestimating the appeal of Tea Party candidates at their own peril? 

Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.”  And Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and of course a “Newsweek” columnist as well. 

Gentlemen, both of you, I mean, I think the conventional wisdom, the C.W., is the Democrats had a good night last night, because they now have a candidate that will be easier to beat.  I think that was their view coming out of Nevada when they got to face Sharron Angle, rather than Sue Lowden.

But these tactical victories, do they over a more frightening reality out there of the anger level that has driven people to vote for even people they don‘t even think are qualified, they‘re so angry? 



MATTHEWS:  And Democrats don‘t have that—Well, your answer.  My answer is as good as yours, maybe.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m not sure it‘s as good as yours, but go ahead, Gene. 


ROBINSON:  No, absolutely.  I think they do tend to look past the anger that is obviously out there. 

We saw last night the anger is not just directed at Democrats.  It‘s directed at the establishment and Republican Party as well, which is in, I think, arguably as much trouble as the Democrats. 

But what they, I think, must not look past is the fact that these unbeatable candidates are not all unbeatable. 


ROBINSON:  I am not sure that O‘Donnell is so unbeatable in Delaware. 

I think she is less likely to take the seat than Castle would have been. 

And so—


MATTHEWS:  Well, we have got a new—we‘re looking at polls.  And a guy I talked to today who really knows the situation thinks it will be a single-digit race.  This is not going to be a wipeout.  She gets—she is a contender. 


ROBINSON:  I was impressed with how smooth she was last night as she spoke in victory.  She is not Sharron Angle.  She is not Carl Paladino.  She‘s not rough-hewn, in the way some of these Tea Party—


MATTHEWS:  I think she beats out Carly Fiorina in the likability department, just guessing, after last night.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, talking to voters outside this polling place in Newark yesterday in Delaware, I was struck by the fact that all the Republicans are really in a message-sending mood. 

The Democrats were kind of slinking in and out of the polling place to do their duty, but the Republicans were coming in and out with a sense of purpose. 

MATTHEWS:  You make it sound like that they are walking their dogs. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, that‘s sort of what the scene was like. 


MATTHEWS:  But they were angry and they all wanted to vote.  Almost all of them wanted to vote for Christine O‘Donnell.  Not all of them did because of some of the negative advertising that Mike Castle put out there, but all of them knew that she, not he, was the way to send a message to Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s more fun to vote for her, more juice? 



MATTHEWS:  Now to the question I‘m getting from a lot of people.

FINEMAN:  And a lot of women, by the way, a lot of women.

MATTHEWS:  A lot of people, a lot of producers want this simple question.

Will this—now, maybe this is whistling past the graveyard—will this energize, the fact that the right is energized, the left?  Will it respond, or just say, oh, my God, it‘s going to be a terrible year; I‘m not voting? 

ROBINSON:  No.  In and of itself, I don‘t think this energizes the left.


MATTHEWS:  -- doesn‘t turn them on?

ROBINSON:  I think that energy has to come from within the Democratic Party. 

I think the president, the congressional leadership, somebody‘s got to do something to try to juice up the base.  I don‘t think it juices up the base that Tea Party candidates are knocking over Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you are talking my language, Gene, because I think the only people happy this year are the ones that are miserable and they‘re going to get to vote.

FINEMAN:  Chris—

MATTHEWS:  They are so miserable, they are happy, because they get to vote. 

FINEMAN:  -- Geoff Garin, who is a really great Democratic pollster—

MATTHEWS:  I know.

FINEMAN:  -- gave me some numbers that said that one out of five voters in his survey think it doesn‘t make any difference to voters whom they vote for.  One out of five say, doesn‘t make any difference. 

And more than a third of those are Democrats.  So, what the Democrats


MATTHEWS:  What does that mean? 

FINEMAN:  Well, he said they—people said we don‘t—it doesn‘t make any difference who we vote for.  The situation is so bad, Washington is so screwed up, the establishment—

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think Republicans think that.

FINEMAN:  No.  Republicans don‘t think that.  It‘s a very small percentage of Republicans.


FINEMAN:  But a lot of Democrats do. 

So, what Obama has to do is restore the message that he ran on in the campaign and convince people of it, that he really can change things around here, and that they will change it, the Republicans, in the worst direction. 

He hasn‘t made that sale yet at all, hasn‘t even really scratched the surface here. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I can‘t believe is, as of midnight last night, or close to midnight, the establishment folks were still saying she can‘t do it.  This can‘t be happening. 


MATTHEWS:  I have seen all across the country this disbelief, this almost cognitive dissonance:  I know it is happening, but I don‘t believe it is happening.  I don‘t believe Mike Castle, who has won 30 years in a row, actually lost last night. 


MATTHEWS:  They haven‘t absorbed it.  And they‘re still operating like:  Well, it happened, but it won‘t happen again.  It won‘t happen in November. 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  That is exactly right, Chris.

And—and what‘s going to be really interesting is to see the dynamic between this Tea Party element and the Republican Party, which—you know, I wrote a blog post last night, essentially saying, when you ride a tiger, you go where the tiger wants to go, you know?


ROBINSON:  And the Republicans are trying to ride the Tea Party.  But they‘re going to go where the Tea Party wants to go.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m thinking—I‘m thinking of this story—my favorite war, that I fought in any, but the French and Indian War.  You had this perfectly perfumed French officers and the Iroquois.  A different rules of engagement, but they were on the same side.

And the Indians would come in and slaughter them, do whatever they

were going to do, the French would say, oh, how indecent of you.  They took

victory though.  They like to win.  And then, the French lost

FINEMAN:  You said much more colorfully than I ever could what I was to say, which is that somebody is living in an unreal world here.  It‘s either Karl Rove who doesn‘t think she can win in Christine O‘Donnell.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s got a (INAUDIBLE) about her.

FINEMAN:  Well, he doesn‘t think she can win, or she is in the real world because she doesn‘t—you know, Mike Castle‘s not going to endorse her.  The guy she—

MATTHEWS:  We heard that tonight.

FINEMAN:  All right.  OK.  But he‘s not going to endorse the Democrat either.  And listening to Christine O‘Donnell to on Sean Hannity‘s radio show this afternoon, she was almost daring Mike Castle to endorse the Democrat.


FINEMAN:  Because she‘s got it in her mind that she is the Iroquois and everybody else—


MATTHEWS:  The settlers.  Yes.

FINEMAN:  She‘s almost saying to Mike castle, go ahead.  Go over there.  I don‘t care.

MATTHEWS:  In other words, she wants the dead cat to go into the house of the other guy, right?



MATTHEWS:  Mixed our metaphor.

FINEMAN:  We‘ve got Indians, cats.


MATTHEWS:  I‘ll tell you, I think you cannot pay for juice.  The people that really care, you watch the baseball team or the football, more like a sport, like basketball that really is about—wanted a win.  The team that really has to win tends to win.  That‘s why all the NBA playoffs go to seven games.  You have to win, right?


MATTHEWS:  And I just think when the party says, “We are going if to win this damn thing, we‘re going to beat those guys,” they are the people that are going to get to the polls in November.  But that‘s what I think after last night.  I know I‘m odd man out.  I think this is very strong news for the right, when their people can get this animated.

Thank you, Gene Robinson.

Thank you, Howard Fineman.  I still don‘t know—I think you‘re with me.  I‘m not sure.

Up next: Sarah Palin helped make Christine O‘Donnell a win.  So, what does that say about Palin‘s power?  What do you think?

You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

I mean, give me a break.


CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  There‘s another woman I got to thank.  You betcha.  Thank you, Governor Palin, for your endorsement.



MATTHEWS:  Brand new numbers just in from the “Time”/CNN/Opinion Research Poll.  Starting in Nevada, where Republican Sharron Angle leads Senator Harry Reid 42 percent to 41 percent, in a statistical dead heat.  Maybe Angle was right to skip out of that debate now that she‘s inching ahead.  And look at the gender break down in Nevada.  Women go for Reid 51/33, while men back angle, 49/32.

In Washington State, Senator Patty Murray has a nine-point lead over Republican Dino Rossi.  She‘s up 53-44.  That‘s a comeback there.

And in Ohio, Republican Rob Portman has an 11-point lead of other Democrat Lee Fisher for that Senate seat of retiring George Voinovich.

HARDBALL—back after this.



O‘DONNELL:  We‘re in this had to win.


O‘DONNELL:  And we‘re in this to win big.


O‘DONNELL:  And win big we did.  Don‘t ever underestimate the power of “We the People.”



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Christine O‘Donnell, just saw her there, later single out an endorsement that turned out a big game-changer for her.  Let‘s listen.


O‘DONNELL:  So again, you betcha.  There‘s another woman I got to thank.  You betcha.  Thank you, Governor Palin, for your endorsement, because she got behind—


O‘DONNELL: -- she got behind us war-weary folks and gave us a boost of encouragement when we needed it.  And she was a vote against the politics of personal destruction.


MATTHEWS:  Well, how could the voter anger we have seen in these primaries affect the 2012 Republican race?

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine and writes for  And Michelle Bernard is an MSNBC contributor and president of Independent Women‘s Voice.

Well, somewhat to the right of this guy over here.  So, I‘m going to ask to you start this.


MATTHEWS:  I have seen in the past where a party, in that case was the Democratic Party ran a centrist after having been driven all year by liberal anti-war forces.  That was ‘68 when Bobby Kennedy and Gene McCarthy and everybody animated the party, then they went to run an old warhorse like Humphrey, disaster.

And I ask you, can the Republican Party, after all this excitement of the Tea Party we‘ve seen this year and going into next year, can they run an old warhorse like Mitt Romney or some old party guy when, in fact it‘s all about excitement and then they stifle it?  Will it work?  Or they have to run a Tea Partier?

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  They might have to run a Tea Partier.  I mean, if you look at what‘s happened with the Tea Party movement, it is extraordinary.  Two years ago, no one paid attention to them.  We looked at them as being people who are on the far right, on the fringe, very few stories about them in the news.  And now, it‘s Tea Party candidate after Tea Party candidate.

What happened in Delaware last night was completely extraordinary and for, quote-unquote, “Establishment Republicans,” as much as some people might want to ignore what is happening with Tea Party candidates, they don‘t have a choice but to listen to what constituents are telling them.  Constituents are—some constituents are saying, we value party, principle and freedom, ideological purity over winning elections.

MATTHEWS:  How can they run a Mike Castle-type, a Pawlenty or a Mitt Romney after all these characters have been buffed off this year?  Every time one of those guys raises their head against a Tea Partier, anybody that looks like a country clubber, gone.  Boehner would lose to one of these people.  They‘d all lose.  Mitch McConnell would lose to one of these people.

CORN:  Two points.  First, you have—we have to see how these Tea Partiers do with a general election audience.  And the second point—

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you‘re taking the -

CORN:  No, no, no.

MATTHEWS:  You are trying to deny—


CORN:  See what happens.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re still denying it.

CORN:  I was on last night.  You know I‘m not denying it.  I think they‘re major threats to the Democrats.  But we got to see what happens.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me get this straight.  As the Titanic sinks and it‘s all the way up to the top decks, and it‘s already up to the top decks, well, let‘s see how it affects the first class passengers.  The boat is sinking.  The establishment is sinking.

CORN:  Listen, Leonardo is still holding on tight.  And we see how—what happens to him.


CORN:  But the other point is, you know that presidential primaries are like family holiday gatherings.  All of the internal dysfunctions get played out.  And so, really what happens right now, whether the establishment comes and supports people like Christine O‘Donnell or not, those passions are going to be really stirred up and if you see Karl Rove continuing to battle with the Tea Party forces, then I think it will put more pressure and create more anger on the far right that will turn into explosive.


CORN:  You know—it will be explosive.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re using a lot of words, David.  Usually, you‘re much more punchy.  The reason you‘re taking a lot of words—

CORN:  I‘ll make it simple—


CORN:  I think it‘s still hard for the Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  I look at Rand Paul, that the guy is going to win.  I look at Pat Toomey now and I hate to say, this is a guy who‘s going to win.  I think the right has got the upper hand now going into this general election.  And I‘m looking at these numbers—

CORN:  But they always—they always did.

MATTHEWS:  They have the upper hand.  Your thoughts.

BERNARD:  But if you look at the people who have been basically sent running from the Republican Party this year, we‘ve got Crist, Arlen Specter, Lisa Murkowski—there is definitely a lot of dissension within the Republican Party, and, quote-unquote, “establishment people,” could literally see themselves completely knocked out of Republican politics by the time we get to 2012.

CORN:  But at the same time—but at the same—

MATTHEWS:  So, the establishment lost every one of these races, they‘re at the bottom of the league.  The people that are winning are all the challengers.  And I just—every night it happens, I say, this can‘t happen.  Castle can‘t lose.  Specter can‘t lose.  They all lose.

The establishment of the politics of America is playing defense now and they‘re losing.

CORN:  The Republican establishment—all those Republicans who are beaten, most of them would probably have done very well in general election.  What we‘re worrying about now, what some people are worrying about is that—is that Castle would have done better than Christine O‘Donnell.

I mean, Murkowski would have an easy walk to re-election, right?  Joe Miller probably will win, but he has a smaller chance of winning, at least that‘s the constitution wisdom at the moment.

MATTHEWS:  I take O‘Donnell.  How many points are you going to give me?

CORN:  How many points will I give you?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, how many you give.  Because you keep acting like this is all over, that she‘s going to lose.

CORN:  No, but I don‘t believe it‘s all over.


CORN:  But I do believe that the Republicans have this internal split



MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  I get back to this.

CORN: -- that they still haven‘t dealt with.

MATTHEWS:  I can‘t see the Republican convention meeting, wherever they‘re going to meet, in Tampa, right?  They‘re down there and they‘re thundering in there with delegates, one of these Tea Partiers after another, storming the gates, all excited about they‘re going to get rid of the 14th Amendment, get rid of, what, the 17th Amendment, energize the 10th Amendment, love the Second Amendment, and then they go pick Romney, Tim Pawlenty.

CORN:  But who‘s the Tea Party candidate?

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t see how it happens.

CORN:  But who‘s the Tea Party candidate?  Sarah Palin?  Who else?


CORN:  Well, what if she doesn‘t run?

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know what happens.

CORN:  What happens to them?

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t see what—I‘m asking the question.

BERNARD:  I don‘t—I don‘t think this is the death now for, quote-unquote, “establishment people,” like Mitt Romney.  He‘s a good guy.  I think—we just don‘t know.  I know you think it‘s funny—


MATTHEWS:  I think you like establishment-type Republicans.


CORN:  He also knows—he knows how to change his skin.  He already sent money to Christine O‘Donnell.

BERNARD:  But he‘s also never going to campaign like Christine O‘Donnell.  We are never going to see that type of a flip-flop, I hope, from Mitt Romney or others, I hope.


BERNARD:  We‘re not going to see someone like Christine O‘Donnell—

MATTHEWS: -- abortion rights.

CORN:  These guys run the way they run and then they look to the vice president to sort of send that message.

BERNARD:  We will not see a Christine O‘Donnell on the Republican ticket in 2012.


MATTHEWS:  The tea point is boiling and steaming and it‘s going to make that whistle sound when it‘s ready to coffee.

BERNARD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  The whistle is making that sound.


MATTHEWS:  You try to put a lid on that (INAUDIBLE).

Anyway, thank you, David.  You are not going to put a lid on that tea pot.  Thank you, David Corn.

Thank you, Michelle Bernard.  I think you are Rockefeller Republican.

When we return, let me finish with the root of the voter rage we‘re seeing this year and why everyone who holds office should be worried right now.  Everyone should be worried.  You can be the next Mike Castle.  By the name, I love the name for an establishment Republican, Castle.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a question.  Just where do you think this explosion of voter anger we saw last night in Delaware and have seen growing in voters in Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, Nevada, Kentucky, Colorado and in just about every poll across the country is going to take us?

Last night, as the dust began to clear, I heard progressive glee that the anger was on the verge of burning itself out, that the victory of Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware like that of Sharron Angle in Nevada, was throwing away the election.  How could voters in the general election go so far as to elect one of these candidates the angry primary voters have kicked pup?

I supposed I had my eyes on something different.  While others were seeing dead people, the defeated Mike Castle, who was supposed to be strong this November, I saw the strength of the flames that consumed him and will consume many others this rapidly approaching election night.  I have waited all my adult life for an election in which voters have the fire to reach up and burn those who have been running the show for decades.  But I didn‘t know it would come from the right and center.

2010 could be the first year in modern times when being in office in Washington and part of Washington is the worst possible credential when facing voters.  I don‘t know how far the fire will burn.  Based upon last night‘s returns, I expect it has a long way to go.  It could topple the House and, yes, the U.S. Senate.  It could bring the defeat of people who feel even now they are not endangered.  It could produce an election night spectacle of name brand politicians standing before stance supporters saying their careers are kaput.

Why is this happening?  Because this economic system is failing to produce the security and opportunity people have come to expect in this country.  In this middle-class country, the middle class are scared and when people are scared, they get angry.  They sense a rot at the top and are ready to chop it off.

If the plan of those in power to raise a ton of cash and run nasty TV ads saying you can‘t vote for this new person, that he or she is flawed—

I expect the voter will say, “Are you telling me I have no choice but to vote for you?  Are you saying that I, this little voter out there, dare not take a chance on someone who has not yet let me down as you have?  If that is what you‘re telling me, that I have no choice, well, Mr. Big Stuff, you just have to wait—stay up late election night and see what I have done.”

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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