Guests: Richard Wolffe , Alex Wagner, Joe Manchin, Todd Purdum, Steve Kornacki, Martin Fletcher
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Wild pitches.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Angle‘s new angle. Remember when Republicans forced a ludicrous vote to prevent sexual predators from getting Viagra through the health care bill? Well, the point was to put Democrats in a bind, either allow the bill to be killed with amendments or force them to vote against the Viagra amendment. The Democrats voted no, of course. And now Sharron Angle is predictably accusing Harry Reid of using taxpayers‘ dollars to give Viagra to child molesters. We‘ll get this cheap shot and other gems from the campaign trail.
Also, the target of that Republican ad in West Virginia featuring actors who had been picked up in Philadelphia had a certain—remember, they were looking for people who had a certain, quote, “hicky blue-collar look”? Well, Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin will be here tonight to talk about it. He‘s a fiscal conservative, by the way, backed by the Chamber of Commerce. Now, there‘s a Democrat for you.
Plus, Obama versus Rove. With the economy still bleeding jobs, why is President Obama spending time or wasting it going after Karl Rove? Time for the White House to remember it‘s the economy, stupid.
Also, if you‘ve been waiting for the funnyman in Al Franken to come back out, your wait‘s over. Check out the “Sideshow” tonight. He‘s out there. He‘s working the Delaware route right now.
“Let Me Finish” tonight with the latest McCarthyite attack on President Obama. I think it‘s the craziest.
All that‘s ahead. First, a couple of new generic congressional ballot polls matching Republicans against Democrats nationwide, and for that, we‘ll go to the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”
In the brand-new CNN Opinion Research poll, Republicans have a 7-point lead (INAUDIBLE) poll. That‘s getting big, 7 points, 52-45. Similar numbers in the new CBS poll, where Republicans lead by 8, 45-37. We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to November 2nd, election night.
Well, it‘s getting down to crunch time in the hot mid-term races, and the accusations and ads are flying. We‘ll assess the field and some of the wildest claims with MSNBC‘s analyst Richard Wolffe and Politicsdaily.com‘s Alex Wagner. Thank you both for joining us.
Let‘s take a look right now at this one. This is Christine O‘Donnell playing defense, her second TV ad, a bit of a biography here, in her Senate bid. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I didn‘t go to Yale. I didn‘t inherit millions, like my opponent. I‘m you. I know how tough it is to make and keep a dollar. When some tried to push me from this race, they saw what I was made of, and so will the Senate if they try to increase our taxes one more dime. I‘m Christine O‘Donnell, and I approved this message. I‘m you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Alex, do you feel like she‘s a sister in America there? You‘ve got a lot in common. I guess if you didn‘t go to Yale and you didn‘t inherit a lot of money, you‘re with 99.999 percent of Americans. Therefore, she‘s us. Got it?
ALEX WAGNER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: I did not, actually, in fact, go to Yale, although, I have to say, I found it interesting that the person who has led voters to believe that she went to Oxford University and Princeton University and Claremont is now talking a big game about being salt of the earth and not having gone to Yale.
You know, look, GOP and—the GOP‘s latest crop of female candidates
and education kerfuffles (ph) is nothing new. Remember Sarah Palin? She
went to five schools, two in Alaska—two in Hawaii, two in Idaho, one in
MATTHEWS: But she actually went—
WAGNER: -- Alaska.
MATTHEWS: -- to those schools. That‘s the difference there.
WAGNER: That‘s true. That is true. But again, played that as a sort of, I am—I am just like everybody else. I—you know, I‘m making my way in the world. And I think Christine O‘Donnell is trying to do that, as well.
MATTHEWS: You know, it‘s interesting, Richard. We know what‘s going on here. It‘s not a bad play because we know what‘s going on here, a country that‘s had enough with intellectuals because they haven‘t really figured out the economy, to put it lightly, and all the sophisticated Keynesian economics doesn‘t seem to be working yet. So bring in somebody who says, My claim to fame is I don‘t know nuttin‘. I‘m no—I‘m better than the people that say they know something. At least I‘m not a fraud. I guess I get it.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You‘re right. But she doesn‘t quite get there. She still makes this ad about herself. Instead of saying, The Democrats have got it wrong or the intellectuals have got it wrong or talking about jobs—she needs to talk about what voters care about. The more she makes this about her, the less she gets to what voters really care about. This election isn‘t about her. What she‘s thinking is, someone new to the stage—she‘s under all these attacks—she‘s making this out to be a defensive move. She shouldn‘t be doing—
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s why—
MATTHEWS: It‘s not all stupid. Here‘s the attack ad on her put out by the other side, the Coons ad. Let‘s take a look. Here‘s the Democratic Committee ad against O‘Donnell. Let‘s listen to the way they‘re going after her (INAUDIBLE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christine O‘Donnell claims she‘ll control Washington spending. But look at her record. She was sued for not paying her bills, didn‘t pay her taxes, has a federal complaint filed against her for spending campaign funds on herself. If Christine O‘Donnell wants to be irresponsible with her money, that‘s her business. But she‘s running for Senate, and being irresponsible with our money is our business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I got to go back to this, Alex. I mean, she‘s—well, I got to be careful how I say anything, of course. I‘m a male talking about a female. But she‘s irresistibly cute, let‘s put it that way, in the way she presents herself. Obviously, she‘s attractive and all that. But she‘s playing on the cute thing. And then they‘re going after that. Those pictures all portray her as an attractive young woman, maybe not Senate material yet, but clearly it‘s a tricky thing. You see how Sarah Palin plays perk really well. She‘s perky. She‘s upbeat. She‘s gung-ho. It‘s like Mary Tyler Moore, almost, kind of thing. And that‘s attractive as hell. So there they‘re going out and they‘re putting that down.
Here—well, your thoughts on that ad. What do you make of that knock on her? It‘s that overdoing it? There—we see her in person here. She makes a great appearance. She‘s always smiling. She‘s always happy.
People like that kind of company, let‘s be blunt.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts?
WAGNER: You know, I think there—there might be something insidious there, like, Oh, Christine O‘Donnell is this—this kind of cheery, thoughtless woman who has no idea how to control her own pocketbook. But I think, you know, Lawrence O‘Donnell made this point a few nights ago.
WAGNER: It is Delaware. Taxes—you know, Delaware is—taxes—
Delaware is all about taxes, and the American public is all about the economy right now. And I think in terms of messaging, the Democrats are right on this. I mean, her—she—
MATTHEWS: So if she‘s a deadbeat, it matters.
WAGNER: She has a record of fiscal irresponsibility. I mean, and I -
MATTHEWS: You can‘t be a deadbeat, you‘re saying. You might have been a witch—
MATTHEWS: -- but a deadbeat won‘t work.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s—it is kind of strange out there. You don‘t have to worry about your witch thing. You don‘t even bother covering that base. But you cover the deadbeat.
Here‘s O‘Donnell—I want Richard here—O‘Donnell on CNN saying she‘s been a lot—she‘s seen a lot of Hillary signs. Now, first of all, there‘s been a lot of buzz in our business about Hillary, and I met—I was up in Massachusetts last (INAUDIBLE) there‘s a lot up there, of course. But I haven‘t seen any “Hillary for president” signs. She has. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: If the House and the Senate passes a bill to fully repeal “Obama care” so that we can clear the way to start over with true reform that helps the most vulnerable, and then the president goes and vetoes that bill when the will of the people has been made very clear—if Barack Obama vetoes that the year before his reelection, he‘s setting himself up to be very vulnerable. And I‘ve seen many “Hillary for president” ads running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Running? I guess TV ads, she‘s seen.
WOLFFE: You know, I don‘t know—
MATTHEWS: What does—does reality matter at all anymore? Is it all metaphor and just overstatement and hyperbole? Does she just say things—
WOLFFE: She‘s still stuck in early 2008, remembering the primaries.
But look, there was a weird thing about that—
MATTHEWS: But she said she‘s seen a lot of them and—
WOLFFE: I don‘t know what planet that would put her on. But I do
think that here‘s someone who‘s got a lot of TV experience. Let‘s face it,
all that Bill Maher tape. I mean, she‘s had TV time. Why is she
projecting out three or four hypotheticals ahead? It makes no sense. Is
she auditioning for this show or is she auditioning for the Senate? That -
that kind of—oh, if that happens and this happens and then there‘s going to be—
MATTHEWS: You know why, because you got this far just looping and just having fun! And she‘s got (INAUDIBLE) We‘re talking about her!
WOLFFE: I guess, but—
MATTHEWS: She‘s running for the United States Senate!
MATTHEWS: She‘s the Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware! That used to really mean something!
Here‘s Sharron Angle, by the way, out in Nevada. Let‘s go across the country. Here‘s Sharron Angle‘s ad hitting Harry Reid over a bogus amendment. We talked about this Viagra thing. This was some crazy amendment—it wasn‘t crazy. They set it up so that people would vote against it. It was a time where if they accepted any amendments, they would have killed the health care bill because they had to accept, basically, the bill that came over from the House and they‘d already gotten 60 votes for it. It was a technical parliamentary trick they used here, but look at how they‘re using it now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But here‘s the kicker. Reid actually voted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for Viagra for convicted child molesters and sex offenders. What else could you ever need to know about Harry Reid?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There they get a young, attractive actress to play—I guess Sharron Angle doesn‘t want to do these ads. Is that unladylike—let me go back to Alex. Is that unladylike for her to go after Viagra ads? (INAUDIBLE) get an actress to do it, an actor to do it?
WAGNER: You know, maybe you only want attractive women to be talking about Viagra. I don‘t know. In terms of the—
WAGNER: In terms of the marketing of it, though, I mean, I will say, you know, looking at that, you recall Edward Kennedy working across the aisle to No Child Left Behind. And those days of bipartisanship are over.
WAGNER: I mean—I mean, and now you look at—I mean, this is—this is such a clear, I mean, in some ways sort of brilliant political maneuver by the GOP months ago. I‘m surprised it took them this long to bring it up. I mean, it was completely absurd when it happened, but it‘s the sort of kitchen sink playbook with Sharron Angle, at this point, and she‘s throwing everything she‘s got at all.
MATTHEWS: Well, some people aren‘t putting up with it. Here‘s Mike Huckabee, a Republican, on the political games, as he put it, being played in this Viagra ad. Let‘s listen to him, Mike Huckabee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR GOV., HOST, “HUCKABEE”: But this is a classic example. It‘s good politics. It‘s great politics. But it‘s one of those instances it sounds like he said, Yes, there‘s a bill that‘s going provide Viagra and that was the primary purpose of the bill.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: No, but if it‘s in the bill and he didn‘t read it, I think—isn‘t that fair?
HUCKABEE: Absolutely. It‘s not unlike when Republicans attacked
Democrats for their support of the National Endowment of the Arts and they
were sponsoring stuff like Andrew Sorrano‘s famous Christ in the urine jar
HANNITY: (INAUDIBLE) right.
HUCKABEE: Hideous stuff like that. But it doesn‘t always work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s not what it was. Sean‘s got that (INAUDIBLE) It wasn‘t about a bill that was too complicated they didn‘t read it. It was about an amendment which was playing this game. Go ahead.
WOLFFE: I don‘t think this is a smart strategy. The more dirty this race gets in Nevada, the worse it is for Sharron Angle because her real competition isn‘t Harry Reid, it‘s “None of the above.” So it‘s just a turn-off.
WOLFFE: There are three—there are major choices on this ballot, and—
MATTHEWS: There‘s four.
WOLFFE: Well, there‘s the Tea Party guy, as well. But “None of the above”—
MATTHEWS: OK, Democrat, Republican, Tea Party or?
WOLFFE: You can vote “None of the above” in Nevada. Now, “None of the above” cannot get elected, but that will be the significant protest of both of these people. So you make them both unacceptable, and the big loser out of this is going to be Sharron Angle. So—that‘s number one.
Number two, classic ad in ad history was for a detergent, they showed these really dirty T-shirts. And the ad was so disgusting that no one wanted to buy the detergent. That‘s what this ad is.
WOLFFE: It‘s so icky—
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look. Here‘s Harry Reid going after her. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I work with kids who‘ve been abused and their stories break my heart. When the Assembly created a program to weed out sex offenders by helping youth and church groups to background check some volunteers, it passed with only two voting no. Sharron Angle was one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Now, I have no idea. It‘s going to take a real trip to figure out why she voted against it, but I‘m sure there was some good reason. It is weird the way these people are cutting each other, Alex.
WAGNER: Yes. I mean, I think—we thought—we thought talking about witches was kind of weird. Talking about sex offenders and Viagra all the time is, I think, far ickier. And to Richard‘s point, the poll, the—I think it was a CNN/”Time” poll showed Sharron Angle up by 2, with Harry Reid but 10 percent of those voters were picking “None of the above.” There is a clear—that‘s—that‘s a clear statement from Nevada voters who are grappling with the nation‘s highest unemployment rate at 14.5 percent. Their homes are being foreclosed on. They‘re leading the nation in that. I mean, they need real answers right now. And this stuff is—is nonsense chatter. I agree with Richard. I mean, I think that this is something that does not (INAUDIBLE) Sharron Angle well.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, it gets worse. Here it is, an event last week Mesquite, Nevada. Sharron Angle got a question about Muslims wanting to take over the United States. Here‘s part of her answer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANGLE: We‘re talking about a militant terrorist situation, which (INAUDIBLE) I believe isn‘t a widespread thing. But it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it. My thoughts are these. First of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil and under constitutional law, not sharia law. And I don‘t know how that happens in the United States.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Absolute nonsense, Richard. There‘s no sharia law in the United States. There‘s no laws requiring burqas or hands being cut off of anything else or stonings or any of that stuff that you see under the Taliban. And they‘re just saying this stuff.
WOLFFE: Yes, and—
MATTHEWS: What is it—doesn‘t—isn‘t there some limit (INAUDIBLE) a big bell goes off and says, That‘s dead wrong?
WOLFFE: Well, if people are applauding it, maybe—maybe they were the place where they have the “Hillary for president” signs. I don‘t know.
This is some alternative reality. It would be just a joke if these people
weren‘t actually within a whisker of becoming a United States senator. And
then they‘d be making policy decisions and taking votes based on what they
think are the facts. And clearly—I mean, where is this true? And who -
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you a question.
MATTHEWS: Alex, last question. Has the establishment so offended people, they‘re willing to vote for crazy people, or vote for people that are just loopy?
WAGNER: I think frustration—
WAGNER: -- is absolutely part of it. I think people—there‘s a lack of civil dialogue in this country. And I think that using, you know, the Muslim religion is a lightening rod to channel fear and hate, has been very politically expedient for some candidates. But I do hold out hope that the American voters will see past that.
MATTHEWS: I wish some people would just roar out, No! You‘ve gone too far.
Thank you, Richard. Happy Friday to you. Happy Columbus Day weekend. Thank you, Alex. It‘s great having you on the show. Same to you, Columbus Day weekend. For some people, it‘s a three-day weekend, but for not HARDBALL.
Up next: Republicans have pulled that ad in West Virginia. Remember the one they hired three guys in Philly they figured—oh, there they are. They had these three guys (INAUDIBLE) casting call. They said, Give me some hicky guys, blue collar types. Let them wear old clothes or whatever. They look—actually look pretty good to me. Anyway, trashing—they‘re out there trashing Governor Manchin, the popular governor of West Virginia. Manchin‘s coming here in a surprise—it‘s a surprisingly tight race. But can he use that ad and its casting call, which went after, quote, “hicky blue-collar” people, as I said, to turn things around? Have they gone too far? That‘s our question tonight. Governor Manchin joins us next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ve seen plenty of Democrats out there distance themselves from Washington this cycle. But for the first time, a Democratic member of the House says he will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Alabama freshman congressman Bobby Bright says he won‘t back John Boehner, either, saying a centrist will get his vote.
Bright, the former mayor of Montgomery, is in a tough fight with Republican Martha Robie (ph) in that House district that leans obviously pretty far right.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Now to Governor Joe Manchin, the Democrat candidate in the Senate race in West Virginia. Governor, thanks for joining us. You know, there‘s been a lot of noise in our office about this crazy ad that‘s been run against you. You know, I‘m from Philadelphia. The only reason that‘s relevant is, apparently, these actors in this ad were picked up in Philly. Maybe we can hear the Philadelphia accents. Let‘s watch the ad. We‘re going to have some fun with this, Governor. Here‘s the ad the Republicans are running against you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama‘s messing things up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending money we don‘t have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stimulus, Obama care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Joe Manchin supported it all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe‘s not bad as governor. But when he‘s with Obama—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he turns into Washington Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, Governor, they‘re running that somewhere in your state, but they‘ve stopped running it now. What do you think that was all about? What‘s your take on that ad?
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Chris, it‘s awful. It‘s offensive. There‘s been no apologies whatsoever from my opponent, and I can‘t believe it, but they‘re still running it. They might tell you they‘re taking it off. It‘s still running. And it‘s so offensive to West Virginians.
Chris, what people don‘t realize is the state of West Virginia—we‘re one of the best financial shapes of any state of the nation. We have been ranked the third best fiscally sound and responsive state and managed state. And they get no credit for that whatsoever, but they want to have this in a disparaging light. And it‘s just awful. And our opponent has not apologized whatsoever. He hasn‘t said, I‘m sorry, that‘s not who—nothing at all!
So it really tells you, a man that lives with his family in Palm Beach, Florida, is so far out of touch with West Virginians, average West Virginians. And this is why now we know he lives in Florida, because of what he thinks of us. It‘s unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s get to the—let‘s get to that question. Is he a legal candidate to run against you? Is he allowed to run against you? I guess he meets the minimal requirements. He intends to be in the state on Election Day. Is that all it takes in West Virginia?
MANCHIN: Well, I don‘t know. I think—
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. The Senate is allowed—
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. I know the law. The Senate is open to anybody.
Let me ask you about the weird thing about his wife. Is she allowed to vote for him? Because I understand she took some kind of tax deal down in Florida as a resident, a permanent resident. Does that mean she‘s a permanent resident of Florida and is not allowed to vote in West Virginia?
MANCHIN: Chris, that‘s what we understand, a permanent resident and that she won‘t be able to vote for her own husband.
But yet they‘re asking West Virginians to do it. And they‘re so far out of touch. But this ad is offensive. We have got the hardest working, the hardest working truck drivers, professors, research scientists. And it‘s just awful, what they did.
They could have said, we‘re casting for hardworking, hardworking, West Virginians, the salt of the earth that made this country what it is today. Not at all. They went for absolutely the lowest blow. And I‘m offended.
He should be offended. And you know what he says? It‘s just politics.
Well, John, I‘m sorry. It‘s not just politics to me or to West Virginians. It‘s personal.
MATTHEWS: Would it have been all right if they just picked up three folks from West Virginia that looked the part, as far as they were concerned, country people that wore hats, you know, (INAUDIBLE) hats, whatever you call them, John Deere hats, and—
MANCHIN: First of all—
MATTHEWS: -- wore working man‘s clothes, or was is that they were—is it they were hiring actors from out of state? What was it that offended you?
MANCHIN: The offended thing is basically is the roll call, is the casting call.
MANCHIN: They cast it and basically said, we‘re looking for blue collar, hicky-type of people, dirty hat. This—I mean, it‘s not who we are.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know it is an insult.
MANCHIN: And, Chris, I‘m just—
MANCHIN: It just makes me mad. It makes me mad.
MATTHEWS: The language is pretty rough. They wouldn‘t say hicky. They wouldn‘t say—what would they say about New Yorkers that used that language? I wonder what they would have come up with there if these same guys are in the business. Whatever.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to this question.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t you debate your opponent? Why don‘t you debate your opponent?
You sound like you got the goods on him here. He‘s basically an out-of-towner, you argue.
MANCHIN: Oh, we want to debate.
MATTHEWS: You want to debate him?
MANCHIN: Chris, we want a debate. We are going to have a debate. We will have as many debates as they want.
The problem that they have is that there‘s two other candidates. I was a secretary of state. I go around the state, and we got 42,000 kids to register to vote teaching democracy. The other two candidates, we have a candidate—two other candidates that basically, they say, well, they‘re not really contenders.
But they qualify to be on the ballot. And they should be in the debate. That‘s what it‘s all about.
MATTHEWS: You want a four-way?
MANCHIN: Well, you have to. How are you going to eliminate people that qualify to be on the ballot? How can you do that? I can‘t in all good conscience say that.
So, I‘m willing to debate anywhere, everywhere. We‘re going to debate on the 18th. I would have many more. The bottom line is, they‘re saying a rubber stamp. The only rubber stamp I am is for the people of West Virginia.
We have turned this state completely around. You can‘t make the decisions I have had to make in six years, Chris, you cannot make those tough decisions without putting West Virginia first. Stop playing politics. Quit playing party politics.
I have told them in Washington why we‘re mad in Charleston and also all over the state of West Virginia. We‘re mad because they‘re putting Democrats and Republicans ahead of our country. They‘re putting their party and party interests.
And they better start putting Americans first. That‘s what we did in West Virginia. We changed. And we‘re in the best shape of all. We can take care of ourselves. And it‘s a shame what I see going on.
I have never been anybody‘s rubber stamp and never would be. But how they have tagged this to make people believe. I said, Barack Obama is not on the ballot. He‘s not running. I‘m running. I‘m on the ballot. And we have had proven performance.
MATTHEWS: OK. I accept the fact you seem like a fellow from West Virginia, without making any aspirations about—you don‘t have a New Yorker, New York, Northeastern accent or anything. I accept the fact you‘re homegrown, that people like you down there.
So, here‘s the question. Why is a guy like you, who has been popular as a governor, not being able to pass muster? Why are you down in the polls? What is it about this year? Is it just PR? Are you saying it‘s just that people‘s minds are being warped by Republican advertisement?
MATTHEWS: Well, what is it?
MANCHIN: It‘s—Chris, it‘s a fear and smear campaign. Basically, they have spent millions of dollars. They‘re trying to buy the campaign. They have spent millions of dollars.
And, basically, we‘re mad. I‘m as mad as they are.
MATTHEWS: Why are the people of West Virginia—you have been bragging on the people, saying how good they are, how developed they are as a people, as a society. And yet you‘re saying they‘re getting their minds twisted by this sophisticated advertising.
If it‘s smear campaign, what are the specific smears that you want to correct right now?
MANCHIN: Well, the smears that we want to correct right now, as far as being a rubber stamp, I have never been a rubber stamp.
MATTHEWS: Is that a smear?
MANCHIN: If I was, we wouldn‘t have the state in as good a shape as -
no, no. No, basically what they‘re saying—
MATTHEWS: That‘s not a smear. They‘re calling you a Democrat.
MANCHIN: They‘re going to go up and say, you‘re going to vote just the agenda of whatever is up there now.
MANCHIN: That‘s not a West Virginia Democrat.
It‘s not what we believe in. We don‘t believe in expanding entitlement mentalities. If you can do something, you should be working. And we do that in West Virginia. We have turned it around. We have surpluses. We haven‘t laid anybody off. We haven‘t raised taxes. We haven‘t cut any services.
Tell me how many states in America are doing that today. So, what would make anybody think that I‘m going to go to Washington and be like what is going on that they‘re mad about now?
If you start putting America first, then I can bring people together.
Chris, the Chamber of Commerce—
MATTHEWS: I know you‘ve got the Chamber of Commerce.
Let me ask you to nail it. Do you like the health care bill that Obama got through? Do you like it?
MANCHIN: No, not the way it passed.
MATTHEWS: Do you like TARP?
MANCHIN: Not the way it passed.
MATTHEWS: Do you like the stimulus bill?
MANCHIN: I didn‘t—I‘m more of a person that you have got to have something coming in return, basically.
This type of TARP and all that—now, I—you don‘t see me blaming President George Bush. I said, I have been governor for two presidents.
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m just trying to figure out where you are. You say you‘re being smeared by saying you‘re a rubber stamp. And now you‘re saying, in each case, you‘re not for it.
What are you for that Obama has done that you like?
MANCHIN: Oh, his education program, I think, is fantastic. I think it‘s fantastic, bringing it to light that we have to have a better attainment in education for us to compete in the global economy. That has been great.
MATTHEWS: Do you like his war policy? Do you like his war policy in Afghanistan and Iraq?
MANCHIN: Well, he inherited that war policy.
And I think he‘s trying to get out as fast as he can. But he inherited that. And, basically, a nine-year war is no one—nothing anybody wanted and could afford.
So, I think he will get out as quick as he can there.
The bottom thing is, we totally differ in cap and trade. EPA, I have had to sue the EPA and federal government, how they have infringed in West Virginia, stopping us almost from basically taking care of our self. And it‘s just absolutely awful on some of the encroachment.
MANCHIN: But I‘m willing to take that fight.
If West Virginia‘s going to send a message, I will be the messenger. Let me take the message. And I will guarantee you we will turn things around.
MATTHEWS: Compared to most national Democrats, will you be relatively conservative as a senator?
MANCHIN: I am a conservative Democrat in West Virginia. I‘m a centrist from the standpoint—but conservative on fiscal matters. I think there needs to be a national budget balance—budget balance amendment—
MANCHIN: -- only for a war or for national emergencies.
MATTHEWS: OK, great.
Thank you very much. Good luck in the race, Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
MANCHIN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great to have you on. Thank you, sir.
Well, that gave us a taste of what is going on out there.
By the way, we just heard from one of the actors in that West Virginia TV ad the Republicans put on. He says he‘s actually pulling for Manchin, the Democrat, to win. He‘s going to come on HARDBALL on Monday. I love these little twists.
Up next: Senator Al Franken has taken pains not to be too funny as the United States senator from Minnesota, but he shed his inhibitions on the campaign trail yesterday in Delaware.
Catch the “Sideshow.” It‘s coming up from Al Franken.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First: Round up the usual suspects. Watch Stephen Colbert take on David Vitter and Sharron Angle last night.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: There are two terrifyingly great ads out this year, from Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle and Louisiana Senator David Vitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Harry Reid is fighting for a program that would give preferred college tuition rates to none other than illegal aliens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Next time you think you just can‘t work any harder, remember Charlie Melancon. Melancon voted to use your money for benefits for illegals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: Holy frijoles!
COLBERT: Those are the same hombres.
COLBERT: Look at those two pictures.
COLBERT: This is the most terrifying scenario of all.
COLBERT: There aren‘t enough stock photos of scary minorities out there.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a riot. Great catch by Colbert.
Next: Live from Delaware, it‘s Al Franken.
While Minnesota‘s junior senator has taken care to shed his funny guy image, last night, at a Chris Coons campaign rally for Senate, Franken let loose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: We need you to work from now until Election Day. Many of you have families. Ignore them.
FRANKEN: I mean, not little kids.
FRANKEN: At about 8 years old, kids can—
FRANKEN: -- can survive (INAUDIBLE).
FRANKEN: -- if it is for their future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. We got the point.
Now to a not-so-successful foray. Florida Governor Charlie Crist threw out the opening pitch in front a sold-out crowd at last night‘s Tampa Bay Rays‘ playoff game. It wasn‘t pretty.
MATTHEWS: That‘s a little wild, but at least it wasn‘t a duster, you know, right there in the dirt? Actually, I have been there.
Up next: President Obama is trying to rev up his base by blasting Karl Rove. But is that smart politics, or should he be spending his time talking about something important, like fixing the economy?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, President Obama was in Chitown last night, his hometown, campaigning for the man who wants to have his old Senate seat.
Well, here‘s the president. Think what you make of this. Tell us what you make of this. Here he was talking about what he‘s up against, what the voters are up against. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two groups funded and advised by Karl Rove have outspent the Democratic Party 2-1 in an attempt to beat Alexi, 2-1, funded and advised by Karl Rove.
Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign sources.
So, the question for the people of Illinois is, are you going to let special interests from Wall Street and Washington and maybe places beyond our shores come to our state and tell us who are our senator should be?
OBAMA: That‘s not just a threat to Democrats. That‘s a threat to our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know. Is that smart politics, for the president to be talking about sort of the nitty-gritty of partisan politics?
Is that the sound bite you want out there? He was there with Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for the Senate to get his old seat, and, of course, Dick Durbin, the—one of the ranking Democrats in the Senate.
Why is he talking about that and not jobs?
With me now, a real pro, “Vanity Fair”‘s Todd Purdum, who covered the White House for years, and Salon.com‘s Steve Kornacki.
You got two pros here.
I want to know what—you first, Todd. We‘re going to get to your piece you have written for the—about what McCain would have done. But is the president smart to get in the weeds and talking like pol? He‘s talking like Carville or one of pros on the inside.
TODD PURDUM, NATIONAL EDITOR, “VANITY FAIR”: I mean, I think it‘s always kind of risky when a president starts talking about a political operative.
PURDUM: I mean, you can‘t imagine—
MATTHEWS: He‘s talking down.
PURDUM: you can‘t imagine Adlai Stevenson talking about Herbert Brownell—you know, Eisenhower‘s campaign manager is doing this or that.
I mean, partly, we have built up people like Karl Rove and James Carville in a different way. But I think, you know, look, the president doesn‘t have that much good news to share. So, they‘re trying to make the Republicans into boogeymen.
MATTHEWS: Can you get Democrats to vote en masse against dirty tricksters on the other side, if you will, just the nastiness of the other side?
PURDUM: I think the evidence is scant that you can.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I wonder about that.
Let me go to Steve Kornacki.
MATTHEWS: Should presidents be talking like backroom guys?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON: Yes. Well, you know, the obvious comparison, to me at least, that this invites, as you look back at the Nixon White House, when the Nixon White House made a calculation when they were taking in all of these illegal corporate money, all these dirty tricks going on, you know, before Watergate. But there was still plenty of stuff out there in the open.
And the Democrats were howling up and down. And they thought this would just be, you know, political gold to look at how, you know, the White House and the Republican National Committee were involved in all of this.
And the conclusion of people around Nixon was, you know what, to voters, every side does something like this.
MATTHEWS: You are so smart. That is so right. All of the talking about Watergate didn‘t get him a single vote before the election. It wasn‘t until, you know, to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein caught him red-handed and Judge Sirica and all those guys nailed him that anybody pay any attention.
Let‘s go to Karl Rove. He reacted in a statement to “Politico,” quote
see, he got what he wanted, a little back-and-forth match with the president of the United States—quote, “He knows I can‘t fund millions of dollars in political ads, just like he couldn‘t create the”—see, a little shot here—“couldn‘t create the millions of jobs he promised with his stimulus bill.” (INAUDIBLE), you know?
You know, Nixon, by the way, getting to Nixon, he used to tell Pat Buchanan, because he‘s on the show at the time, he‘s a friend of mine. He always said, look, attack up. Don‘t attack down.
So, what this guy did, the president of United States, with all his dignity, is attacking a political henchman and then the henchman says, great, thank you for that, and he attacks back.
KORNACKI: I mean, you know, it‘s a risky thing. I mean, I don‘t—
MATTHEWS: Sure. He might have seen the risks right there.
Let‘s take a look. Unemployment remains at 9.6 today with the announcement of September numbers, 95,000 jobs were lost last month. There it is. We‘re looking at it right now. Not good news.
Here‘s President Obama today on the jobs numbers. Let‘s listen to the president on the report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than 850,000 private sector jobs gained this year, which is in sharp contrast to the almost 800,000 jobs that we were losing when I first took office.
But, that news is tempered by a net job loss in September, which was fueled in large measure by the end of temporary Census jobs and by layoffs in state and local governments.
I should point out that these continuing layoffs by state and local governments, teachers and police officers and firefighters and the like, would have been worse without the federal help that we provided to the states over the last 20 months, help that the Republicans in Congress have consistently opposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You feel for him. I feel like he ought to be wearing one of those hockey players‘ goalie‘s masks when he has to make that kind of a report. What a bad bit of information.
Todd, you did something for “Vanity Fair” this month. This looks really good. It goes basically through what would have happened if McCain had been elected president, in part.
Let‘s take a look at what would have been the wonders of such an administration.
No stimulus or financial regulatory bill. Nothing to offset the tremendous threat we faced of a Great Depression.
Those big auto companies, G.M. and Chrysler, would have gone bankrupt.
Two conservatives on the Supreme Court rather than two progressives.
All Bush tax cuts extended.
More Iraq combat, more—maybe even an Iran strike.
PURDUM: Well, it‘s got—
MATTHEWS: That‘s what you think that McCain would have done.
PURDUM: Well, I mean, elections have consequences. And I mean, I think if you look at the senator‘s record in the campaign, those are all the kinds of—
MATTHEWS: Because McCain kept saying, bomb, bomb, Iran, like he was Barbara and the old song.
PURDUM: No. Well, he did joke about that. But I mean—but I think
the more serious point is that there are a lot of people in the foreign
policy establishment who were really concerned about Iran and want to
MATTHEWS: And might have pushed the button by now.
PURDUM: You know, when the election went amidst there, we would have done something we would have at least, you know, sanctions, maybe some threatening move. Maybe some.
MATTHEWS: Was the big threat, when you do the homework on this—was the big threat of a McCain presidency, basically Jerry Ford, basically not really doing anything, just riding it out?
PURDUM: Well, I don‘t think. I think one of the things that Senator McCain never really had any experience of was an executive background of any kind. I mean, he never really ran anything, bigger than, you know, sort of a squadron. The thing, the piece really focuses on what McCain has done in the past year in his, you know, re-election campaign in Arizona and all his flip-flops on these various issues.
MATTHEWS: He‘s gone pretty far right.
PURDUM: Yes. Well, it tries to explore whether in fact we all misjudge how much of a maverick he was all along. And, in fact, he‘s, you know, pretty conservative in most ways. And he‘s also pretty willing to do whatever took to get elected and that‘s what he‘s done in these past few months.
MATTHEWS: Just to kill J.D. Hayworth.
MATTHEWS: Let me right now back to Steve Kornacki.
Steve, this whole question about what the president should do in these last 2 ½ weeks, he‘s got about 2 ½ weeks now to really make the closing argument, as they say, in court. He‘s an attorney. For his summation as he goes and tries to stop, what—I have tell you, it looks right now like perhaps a catastrophe in terms of seats in the House. How does he turn that back to a reasonably bad year an economy that‘s rocking right badly the way it is now?
KORNACKI: You know, I honestly, I don‘t think there‘s answer or much that he can do. I mean, here‘s a technical reason, a lot of the ballots have already been cast by now. So, there‘s not much of a home stretch in this race really.
But I think the bigger point is when you play that clip of him, you know, addressing the jobs report today, I mean, I‘ll make another historical parallel. I mean, I‘m seeing Ronald Reagan a month before the 1982 mid-terms, when the unemployment rate hit 10 percent, the first time since the Great Depression it had reached that high.
KORNACKI: And Reagan is out there stressing, hey, you know, we had two quarters of growth. We‘re going to get there. It‘s going to take some time. You know, people don‘t want to hear that, they aren‘t willing to hear that. They only know what they‘re seeing, what they feel now—and what they‘re seeing and what they feel now is the longest sustained period of unemployment at this level that we‘ve had since the Great Depression. And I don‘t think there‘s any getting around that in the midterm election.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s a tough statement.
Thank you very much, Todd. I love your piece with the “Vanity Fair.”
And Steve Kornacki.
Up next: the Mideast peace talks are stalling. What should President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton do to get them back on track? This is a serious question. It‘s a tremendous opportunity for this president to really make his mark in history after health care, is to do something in the Middle East, to really bring about peace over there.
Martin Fletcher is a real expert. He has walked the length of Israel for his new book. He‘s going to join us here.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: President Obama‘s top national security adviser, General Jim Jones, is stepping down as of today. The president made the announcement today in the Rose Garden. Jones‘ resignation was the subject of big speculation for months. He‘ll leave his post in just two weeks and he‘s replaced by Tom Donilon. Jones struggled to fit in with the Obama team from the get-go, often clashing with the president‘s closest advisers, including David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs and Rahm Emanuel.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Another round of talks between Israelis and Palestinians has come to a roadblock. No surprise there.
NBC News foreign correspondent Martin Fletcher has covered the Middle East for three decades. He‘s taken a short break now.
And for two weeks, he walked the entire coast of Israel, which isn‘t like walking the coast of California, but he went from the Lebanon border down to Gaza in the south. It‘s all in his new book, “Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation.”
Thanks for joining us. We got a lot of respect for you. So, I‘m going to ask you questions that go beyond your walk and maybe to the soul of Israel itself. And that is, is there a center to Israel that wants peace?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS: Yes, absolutely. Not only for Israel, the Jews and the Palestinians. You know, I‘ve always said, if there was peace agreement on the table, I‘m sure that 60 percent of Israelis, 60 percent of Palestinians would sign it on the spot, almost regardless of what the deal was. They just had it up to here.
MATTHEWS: When is that going to find its way into politics? It takes two sides, it takes two to tango. Can—if the Palestinians offer something good, will—in other words, if they offer peace, if they offer recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland, will that be enough?
FLETCHER: Well, you know, what Israel is demanding is the recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland, yes. But that‘s kind of a side show really to the key issues which we all know, f the borders, Jerusalem, the right of return, the Palestinian refugees and all those other issues that the Israelis and Palestinians have been vainly debating now for decades.
I mean, the real question is: what does it take for the two, for the leaders of both sides—
FLETCHER: -- to respond to the needs of their people and the wishes of their people.
MATTHEWS: OK. Supposed we finance a buyout of this issue of right of return, a financial compensation to the Palestinians who are moved out of the state of Israel proper during the—since 1948 for whatever reason. Supposed we agree to an international, when American peacekeeping—or actually a defense complement of troops in the Jordan Valley. Supposed they can find some portion of greater Jerusalem to allow the Palestinians to form as their capital.
As those enough—are those pieces enough to make this work?
MATTHEWS: OK. You know so much. It‘s so complicated.
FLETCHER: In a word. I mean, for instance—I mean, for every—for every issue that you just raised, there‘s another, there‘s a counter issue. For instance, I‘ll give you one example, money. The number of given of—of Palestinian refugees who left or who were forced out of Palestine in 1948 was about 800,000, that‘s about the roughly accepted figure. They need to be something—they have to be either allowed to come home or reimbursed financially or something.
Meanwhile, Israel says hey, wait a minute, you know, that same number of people, 800,000 Jews, were forced out of Arab countries at the time. We don‘t hear about them. What about financial restitution for them? And that‘s also a lot of money.
So, basically, if you even out what money would be owed to the Palestinian refugees, the 800,000, and what money would be owed to the Jewish refugees, about 800,000, you probably come to zero. So this is—
MATTHEWS: OK, we are making it harder.
Let me try to get back to Philly politics. I‘ve always liked Bibi Netanyahu, even want to disagree with him because he seems like a recognizable figure. He wants to be a successful politician. He loves being a leader like everybody. He‘s a world leader. Look at him there with Merkel.
He wants to see—does he want to be the Israeli leader who cuts the deal?
FLETCHER: That that‘s what—that‘s what they say. And the question is whether it‘s true. I mean, he wants to be the leader.
You know all Israeli leaders want to cut a deal. They all—they would all dearly love peace. The question is, can they take their government there?
And the majority of the Netanyahu‘s government at the moment, for instance, do not want him to continue the freeze on settlement building.
If he‘d actually agree with the Palestinians and did what America wants,
it‘s pretty much a given that his government would probably collapse. And
so, then, what does that leave? So, it‘s—it‘s so complicated. I mean -
MATTHEWS: Do you think there‘s a good chance Israel can cut a deal that allows them to form some kind of split in the Islamic world so that they have some kind of help from the Arab Islamic world against Iran. So, it‘s not just them against Iran.
Can they build a deal that gives them some type of support in that part of the world so they‘re not alone?
FLETCHER: Well that sounds very logical, Chris. And I think if you apply logic to the case, that would be—that would be a very good possibility.
MATTHEWS: Among the Sunni nations, the Sunni nations, for example—they don‘t like what‘s going to in Iran.
FLETCHER: Absolutely. They feel, Kuwait and those countries in the Gulf, they feel more—just as threatened, maybe more threatened than Israel by a possible uranium nuclear bomb.
But, of course, the question is, not only a nuclear bomb, it‘s as technology advances, weapons become more sophisticated and the damage done to Israel, by Iran, by other nations, it will become so great that the urgency for peace agreement soon, I believe, becomes—it just becomes even greater. It‘s not just a matter of stopping a nuclear bomb. It‘s fact a very, very strong technological arms race going on with all kinds of weapons being delivered to other Arab nations.
FLETCHER: Syria getting the defense shield and an attack rockets from Russia, for instance.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know the odd—you know the odd thing and you
know it better than I, it‘s still wonderful to be in Israel. Every time I
go there, I love it. There‘s something wonderful about it. It‘s not just
there‘s something spiritually great about that country
Thank you so much Martin Fletcher. The name of your book, “Walking Israel.”
When we return, let me finish by pointing out the absurdity in the latest right wing character assassination of our president.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the latest ludicrous assault on our president.
Somebody just wrote that Barack Obama is getting his economic policies from his dead African father. The old man was against colonialism and this is why, the author writes, the president acted with President Bush to save the country‘s financial institutions, why he did the same with the country‘s auto industry, why he decided to give his health care plan to have it carried out by private insurance companies.
But why he doesn‘t want the very top income brackets to get all of their tax breaks extended—it‘s because he‘s anti-colonial, this guy writes. It‘s because he‘s inherited his African father‘s politics, got it?
Now, I have three good reasons to point out the absurdity of this guy‘s argument. One, I‘ve come across this guy before. He‘s the same guy who during the last years of the Cold War accused anyone who opposed building the MX missile of, quote, “following the Soviet line.”
If you argued, as I did, that a morphed missile might be destabilizing because the other side, meaning the Soviets, would have to hit it in the ground to keep it from shooting its 10 warheads up in space, you were taking orders from the communist enemy. Got it?
There‘s two other good reasons to condemn this attempt to turn any policy position by the president into something anti-American. Newt Gingrich is out selling this guy‘s accusation that President Obama is an anti-colonialist. And now, “The Washington Post” has chosen to give space to this guy and his argument.
But just to prove we‘re not all losing our memories, aren‘t we all anti-colonial? Aren‘t we all against colonialism? Aren‘t we all basically that way in our thinking? Isn‘t being anti-colonial part of being American?
That‘s HARDBALL now. Thanks for being with us. Have a happy weekend for Columbus Day.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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