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Wednesday, Oct. 20th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Alexi Giannoulias, Richard Durbin, Lynn Sweet, Charlie Crist,

Nicolle Wallace

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  From the University of Illinois in Chicago, let‘s play HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Don‘t ask us what we‘re doing to get people to vote.  We‘re bringing the election to them, here at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Leading off tonight, the battle for the Senate Chicago-style.  Before he was president, Barack Obama was a senator from Illinois.  Now, Chicago, a major battlefront in who controls the entire Senate.

We‘ve got Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias joining us here in a minute.


MATTHEWS:  Plus, Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist called his Republican opponent, Marco Rubio, an extreme right-wing candidate.  Rubio accused Crist of leaving the party, the Republican Party, for his own survival.  Tonight, we‘ll talk to Charlie Crist about his prospects on November 2nd.

And my home state, Pennsylvania, the hot race for the Senate grows even hotter.  Two new polls show Democrat Joe Sestak has pulled slightly ahead of Pat Toomey, the Club for Growth conservative.  The two will debate for the first time tonight.  We‘ll have him, Joe Sestak, at Temple University in north Philadelphia tomorrow night in the HARDBALL college tour as we continue.

Right now, right here in Chicago, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias.


MATTHEWS:  Just to make it official, we invited Mark Kirk, the Republican, to come join us on the campaign tour here.  We‘re going to get (ph) to hear (ph) he‘ll say yes.  Some day, he will.  We‘ll have him on when he says yes.

Alex Alexi Giannoulias, sir, let‘s take a look at your ad.  It‘s all about you and President Obama.  Let‘s watch.  Let‘s listen.


ALEXI GIANNOULIAS (D-IL), SENATE CANDIDATE:  I‘m Alexi Giannoulias, and I approved this message.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Alexi is my friend.  I know his character.  You can trust him.  You can count on him.  And I‘m sure a lot of you have heard of what he did for Hard Marks (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We were going to lose our jobs.

OBAMA:  When a big bank threatened to pull their credit, Alexi stepped n.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Alexi really stood up with us.

OBAMA:  Alexi helped save those jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need more people like Alexi in politics, a person that cares.

OBAMA:  That‘s the kind of person you want in the United States Senate.



MATTHEWS:  You know—you know, the great thing—just to make a value judgment, I like politicians who say where they‘re at.  You‘re with the president.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re with the president.  So many people out there are cutting and trimming and saying they‘re not really with him, they‘re sort of with him, maybe with him, sometimes with him.  You‘re with him.

GIANNOULIAS:  Yes.  I mean, I think if you look at, you know, what was done over the last couple of years, you know, we were in a very difficult place and we were on the road to a second Great Depression.  And I think steps were taken that I think long-term history will judge him as someone who did the right thing.

MATTHEWS:  Why isn‘t the country ready to say that?  Because the facts you just gave us are easy to argue.  We all were on the verge of a Great Depression.  Look at how President Bush tried to act and save the big banks and the big financial institutions.  He was blowing the whistle, hitting the panic button.  Everyone saw the reality.  How can everybody forget that in less than two years?

GIANNOULIAS:  Well, I think when people are losing their jobs or losing their homes, they don‘t have health care, they‘re scared and concerned, it‘s a bleak job market for young men and women—you know, people are dealing with enormous challenges.  And there‘s anger.  There‘s frustration.  We see it every single day.

But that‘s not the reason to not get out and vote and not pay attention.  That‘s why we need people as engaged as ever, as involved as ever, paying attention to what‘s happening so we can turn this economy around and create the next generation of private sector jobs right now.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the big issue.  Tom Brokaw of NBC the other day wrote a big piece in “The New York Times” saying these candidates are not talking about the wars we‘re fighting.  Young men and women are being killed and wounded, in many ways dismembered, by IEDs over in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.  We‘re fighting a hot war over there, and Iraq‘s coming apart again.  Let me get the facts straight.  Were you for the Iraq war?

GIANNOULIAS:  No.  And I think there‘s a stark choice in this race. 

My opponent, Congressman Kirk, not only voted for the war in Iraq, he

actually convinced other members of Congress.  He said he knew to a, quote,

“moral certitude” that there are weapons of mass destruction.  And you if

you look at the over trillion dollars that we‘ve spent in Iraq, 4,500 lives

more profoundly, 4,500 lives, and more importantly, the fact that we took our eye off the prize of where the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11 were.  So here we are a decade later, adrift in Afghanistan.  And those decisions have repercussions.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look at Iraq for the first instance.  The biggest political issue in 2006 and 2008, of course, was the Iraq war.  It‘s the reason why, I think, Barack Obama, I think you would agree was, the Democratic nominee because his opponent, Senator Clinton, was on the other side.  Fair enough.  A good debate.  I think he‘s right.

Look at what‘s going on in Iraq right now, react to it.  We‘re seeing the Sunnis that were once in charge there now joining the insurgents.  It looks like the whole war, the minute we leave, is going to start all over again.  Does that make a case for us having gone in or not?

GIANNOULIAS:  Well, look, I think, again, we took our eye off the prize.  More importantly, the terrorists that were responsible for 9/11 -- we‘ve had seven years of policy that was completely adrift in Afghanistan before President Obama took over.  He took over.  He‘s trying to put together some sort of a timeline in Afghanistan.  And I hope what you‘re saying in Iraq doesn‘t come true.  I think Saddam Hussein had to go, but again, we took our eye off the prize.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Do you think we should stay in the war in Afghanistan past next July in force, or should we begin to leave?

GIANNOULIAS:  I can‘t envision a scenario where I would be in favor of staying there.  I mean, a strict military approach has never worked, Chris, has never worked in the region.  We need to have—

MATTHEWS:  If Petraeus says to stay and the president says to go, who are you with?

GIANNOULIAS:  Well, again, I think, I—it would be tough for me to

envision a strategy where we would stay, but I would listen to the troops

on the ground, the commanders on the ground.  But it‘d be tough for me to -


MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about unemployment in this country.  Right now (INAUDIBLE) about a 10 -- I don‘t know about the—how many kids out here?  Let‘s talk about you right now.  Is it a—


MATTHEWS:  Is it a tough job market out there?


MATTHEWS:  OK, now, that‘s problem.  Everybody here is going to have the hardest time.  I mean, I was (INAUDIBLE) Whoopi Goldberg saying they‘re going into a pooh storm, OK?  It‘s tough out there.  I got kids in their 20s.  It‘s really tough.

And here‘s the question.  If you look at the big numbers, 15 million people right now signing up for unemployment that aren‘t able to get jobs, who are out there actively looking, 15 million people—you got another number almost as big that are working as—it‘s a nice phrase, “freelance.”  They‘re really not getting paid full-time salary.  They‘re not really getting benefits.  They‘re not getting health.  They‘re not getting pensions.  They‘re basically working at the whim of an employer, right, part-time, maybe full-time for a while.

This is a huge problem.  What are we going to do about it as a senator?  If you get in, what will you do about it?

GIANNOULIAS:  I think, again, our priority needs to be on creating jobs.  I think there are a number of opportunities that, quite frankly, we‘re missing.  We could be investing in infrastructure, in innovation—


GIANNOULIAS: -- the next generation of—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m with you.  We got a $1.6 trillion debt right—deficit right now.  How do you sell the American people we got rebuild this whole country?  Why aren‘t we having rapid rail?  Why do the French have all this stuff?  Why do Chinese have rapid rail?  They go 300 miles an hour across their countries.  Why don‘t we do it?  Why don‘t we build America?


MATTHEWS:  And why don‘t—why don‘t—and can you sell that to the American voter who‘s worried about the deficit?

GIANNOULIAS:  I think when we tell the American voter, Listen, Europe spends over 5 percent of their GDP on infrastructure, China spends over 9 percent of their GDP on infrastructure, in the United States, we spend less than 2.3 percent of our GDP on infrastructure.  The American—

MATTHEWS:  Well, what are we spending it on?

GIANNOULIAS:  The American Society of Engineers has given our national infrastructure the grade of D-minus.  We have functionally obsolete roads, bridges.  At a time when there are millions of Americans sitting idly by, we should be investing in high-speed rail, in our roads and building new schools, you know, 10 million gallons of water a day because of leaking water pipes—

MATTHEWS:  Why did America stop building?  Would Chicago get built today?  Would Washington get built today?  Would the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower be built?  Would the Golden Gate Bridge be built today?  Would the interstate railroad system be built today, the continental railroad?

I get a sense we don‘t do anything anymore.  We just pay bills, we don‘t create anymore.


MATTHEWS:  Why is that?  Why did we stop building America?

GIANNOULIAS:  I don‘t know.  But I can tell you when I get to the U.S.  Senate, it‘s going to be one of—one of my focuses.  And I think, again, we‘re missing opportunity—

MATTHEWS:  Name a great senator.  Who‘s a great senator you‘d like to be like?  Mine‘s Pat Moynihan.  Who would you like to be like?

GIANNOULIAS:  Dick Durbin, Paul Wellstone—


MATTHEWS:  All politics is local, right?


MATTHEWS:  Dick Durbin!  That‘s a great—that‘s a real—

GIANNOULIAS:  Dick Durbin is the finest—

MATTHEWS:  That is a gutsy move!

GIANNOULIAS: -- senator in the country.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s coming on the show.  That‘s a gutsy move.  Who are you going to vote for for of the leader Senate if Reid loses, Durbin or Chuck Schumer?

GIANNOULIAS:  Chuck Schumer‘s a wonderful guy, but I‘m a Durbin guy.


MATTHEWS:  So you voted often and voted early?

GIANNOULIAS:  Let‘s just say that Senator Durbin is a great friend, a great senior senator, and—



MATTHEWS:  I like the fact you‘re direct.  You like Obama.  You like his program.  You like his economic policy.  You want to do more.  You want to do infrastructure.  You think the Iraq war was a mistake.  You see no reason to stay in the war in Afghanistan past next July.  You‘re very direct on all those things, right?


MATTHEWS:  What‘s wrong with your opponent?

GIANNOULIAS:  Look, again, I think—


GIANNOULIAS:  I think the—you know, the untruths about his military career and the untruths about his teaching career, that‘s one thing.  But at the end of the day, what‘s more egregious to me are the votes he‘s had in Congress.  He‘s been there for 20 years, and I just think—Washington, D.C., is broken.  We need some fresh leadership, some new ideas, some bold initiatives, someone who‘s going to focus on the next generation—


GIANNOULIAS: -- and have a vision for where this country—

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of these people on the right now that are running the Republican Party?  And I mean, going to run it.  It looks like they‘re in charge.  The most popular figure in the Republican Party today, according to national polling, is former Governor Sarah Palin.


MATTHEWS:  The most popular figure in their party.  It‘s not Mitt Romney.  It‘s not George W.  It‘s not George, senior.  It‘s Sarah Palin.  Do you believe that she‘s qualified to be president of the United States?


MATTHEWS:  You don‘t?

GIANNOULIAS:  I don‘t.  And I think—I think, quite frankly, people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, their rhetoric I think is dangerous.  And more importantly it‘s unhelpful to what we need to do to move this country forward.

Chris, people are getting crushed out there with this recession.  We see it in Chicago.  We see it in southern Illinois, in central Illinois.  They‘re losing everything, their homes, their jobs.


GIANNOULIAS:  They want someone who‘s going to bring ideas to the table, not just try and separate people in this divisive rhetoric about who‘s to blame for the problems.  Let‘s just get things done!

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re a very impressive guy.  Now a real tough question.


MATTHEWS:  All politics being local here in Chicago—

GIANNOULIAS:  I‘m a Bulls fan.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to ask you Cubs versus White Sox.  I‘m going to ask you Rahm Emanuel.  Would he make a great mayor of Chicago?

GIANNOULIAS:  I am focused on November 2nd


MATTHEWS:  I finally stumped you!  Thank you, Alexi Giannoulias.  Thank you, the candidate for the United States Senate out here (INAUDIBLE) closest election in the country.

Coming up, let‘s look at the big picture and where things stand right now in the battle for control of the Senate and the House.  And tomorrow, the HARDBALL college tour continues from Temple University in north Philadelphia with Senate candidate Joe Sestak.  These kids are involved.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, the college tour, from the University of Illinois in Chicago on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL, the college tour, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Let‘s check in on the latest polls and the tight races around the country on the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”  Let‘s start with Pennsylvania, where we‘ll be tomorrow night.  And the second poll in a row now shows—look at this guy—Joe Sestak with a slight lead now over Pat Toomey.  He was way behind.  Sestak is up 3 in the new “Morning Call” Muhlenberg poll.

In Alaska, look at these numbers from the new CNN/”Time” poll.  Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller, both on the right, tied at exactly 37, with Scott McAdams down at 23.  He‘s the Democrat.

In Washington state, some tightening there, Senator Patty Murray, I thought she was out of it—look, she‘s got a—I‘m sorry—I thought she was way ahead.  She‘s 1 point ahead now of Republican Dino Rossi.  He‘s closing in the new Marist/McClatchy poll.  These polls are going in all different directions.

A close race in Wisconsin again.  Senator Russ Feingold‘s narrowing the gap, he‘s down just 2 now from Republican Ron Johnson, and he was way behind.

We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to November 2nd.

Right now, let‘s go to NBC‘s Chuck Todd and some new numbers from the NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll—Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, sir.  It‘s a macro-micro poll, Chris.  You know, from 30,000 feet, it looks exactly the same, and frankly, that‘s not good news for Democrats because when you look at the right direction/wrong track, this looks like a change election environment.  Just 59 percent -- 32 percent say right track, 59 percent say wrong track.

Look at 2006 in October, right before Democrats took control from Republicans, it was 61 percent wrong track.  And then look at October of ‘94, when Republicans took it away from Democrats, it was 55 percent wrong track.

Bottom line, Chris, this is what a change election environment looks like nationally from this macro level.

MATTHEWS:  And that looks like—if you just extrapolate, not project a whole lot, it looks like ‘94.  It looks like 1980 even.  It looks like a big transformation year to you.

TODD:  Exactly.  Look, it looks exactly like 2008 and 1980.  You throw it in.  We change—we fire incumbent parties when we feel this pessimistic about the direction of the country.  That‘s what, you know, in the modern era of polling—we went back and went all the way back to ‘78 in the different mid-term elections, and this looks like one of those times where you‘re going to have a change election.

And in this case, we define change election as seeing 20 to 30 to 40 House seats change hands, and in this case, potentially having the Republicans even take back control.

MATTHEWS:  Well, this makes your point, the generic poll, how people are going to vote for the congressional races now.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s going up now.  It‘s a pretty big point, a 7-point advantage among likely voters—likely voters.  And that‘s just (INAUDIBLE) it was only 3 points.  Look at that.  What seems to be happening is the undecideds seem to be moving to the Republicans there, from 46 up to 50, with the Democrats stuck at 43.  They can‘t seem to get up to 50, Chuck.

TODD:  That‘s right.  And this is what our pollsters have been telling us, is, Hey—you know, they had measured the undecided vote over the last six—over the last six weeks and had said, Look, these folks—you know, they‘re—they like President Obama.  They were more than likely to have voted for him in 2008.  But they were disappointed with the direction of the country.  They were disapproving of the job he was doing.  They said, Look, these folks may have been Democratic voters in ‘08, but when they‘re asked to pull the lever, they‘re more than likely going to end up in the Republican column.  We‘re seeing that.

Now, one footnote here, and this tells you—it explains to you why you‘re going to see so many surrogates on the trail in specific places for Democrats.  When you polled all registered voters on the generic ballot, Chris, Democrats had a 2-point lead.  The problem for Democrats is there‘s no enthusiasm in parts of the Democratic base, particularly among young voters, some African-Americans and some Hispanics.  They don‘t look like likely voters.  The enthusiasm gap is still there big-time in favor of the Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how many people here are going to vote?


MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look.  That‘s some enthusiasm.  Let‘s go right now -- 35 percent now say they‘ll vote, will be—show support for President Obama, and 34 percent say (INAUDIBLE) opposition.  But that‘s an increase from August.  What do you make of that?  Let‘s take a look at another poll here.  This is what matters to a House member, national issues or local issues.  Are the Democrats picking up some hope there, Chuck, on this last point by focusing issues on their own districts, the ones they‘re defending?

TODD:  You know, our pollsters call this “Can you see the footprints of the campaign?”  What I like about this question—we asked it in August, and more people told us national issues matter more to them than what their member of Congress does locally.

Well, guess what?  These guys went home.  They started campaigning. 

They made their own case.  And now you‘re seeing 52 percent tell us, No,

you know what?  We‘re going to judge them on their district work, 42

percent no national issues.  Look, does that mean that all Democratic

incumbents are suddenly now in a better position?  No.  What this means is

this explains why 70 to 80 to 85 percent of incumbents, even in a very tough incumbent environment, end up getting reelected.

Campaigns matter, Chris.  And, as these guys went home, their campaigns and their money, it has helped them draw a contrast with their Republican challengers, and, in some cases, probably rescued some seats that Democrats maybe three weeks ago thought they were going to lose. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Chuck Todd, you are great.  Thanks a lot for this.


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back now to Illinois Democrat—well, he‘s the Illinois Democrat, the senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip.


MATTHEWS:  He is in Philadelphia tonight, campaigning for Joe Sestak. 

By the way, we will be there tomorrow night, Senator, at Temple University in North Philadelphia with the candidate Joe Sestak. 

Your sense of this—and Sestak is moving in the polls back there—is he the kind of guy—I think Giannoulias is another guy here—who is going to buck the trend? 

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS:  I can tell you, I‘m glad that you are in sweet home Chicago, Chris Matthews.  And I wish I could be there. 


DURBIN:  But I‘m glad to be in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, as Mayor Nutter says. 

But I will tell you what I‘m seeing here on the ground, I see in every state I visit.  We have got the ground game.  Our people understand that Chuck Todd‘s statistics have to be translated into votes at home.  And, as I go into the headquarters, Joe Sestak has 26 headquarters across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

I went in today at 11:00.  They are on the phones.  They are working them hard.  Nobody‘s taking anything for granted.  The energy factor, the enthusiasm factor is moving them toward our side. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about this fight out here between Giannoulias and Kirk.  They are fighting about their war records. 

I didn‘t get into it, because all they did last night was fight about it.  Kirk seems to be a little confusing about how he presents his battle in the war.  He says, well, at least I fought. 

Is the issue whether you fought or whether you get the facts straight? 

DURBIN:  No, I think—let‘s say this.  If you look at Mark Kirk‘s service to this country, it is something to be admired and respected.  And I do.

I just don‘t understand why he wanted to go a step further and add things to his military record that didn‘t exist, to suggest that he had a background as a teacher, when, in fact, he had a very limited background as a person working in a day care center and working in a prep school in England. 

I mean, these sorts of things are embellishing a record.  They go beyond the simple question of whether he served in the military.  Of course he did.  It is a more important question about whether or not he is going to be straight with the people in his answers. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me get to two issues I care about.  One is this foreign money thing and the whole question of corporate power. 

If you ask any corporate person who is working for a big corporation, where a lot of the jobs are, they make their money today, they keep their Dow averages up by cost-cutting, by firing people, by limiting the number of American workers they hire. 

If that‘s going to be the strategy of American business, if that‘s going to be their business model, screwing workers out of jobs, what are the Democrats going to do about it? 

DURBIN:  I can tell you it‘s a fundamental difference between Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk. 

Alexi Giannoulias and I and the president believe we should close the tax loopholes that reward and make it easier for American companies to ship jobs overseas, period.  Mark Kirk says, no, keep the loopholes in place.  That‘s a dramatic difference. 

If we are going to have good-paying jobs right here at home, let‘s reward those companies that pay a living wage, good benefits and retirement, so American workers can live the American dream.  That‘s how you build this economy. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about building. 

It seems to me right now the consumption level in this country is down, the business investment is down.  We need some other form of demand.  And I say this almost every night.  And other people on this network do, too.  What happened to America‘s tendency over the years, up until now, to build stuff, like building Chicago out of nothing, building New York out of nothing, building the intercontinental railroad—


MATTHEWS: -- building the Golden Gate Bridge, building everything? 

Now we see China with 300-mile-an-hour railroads.  We see the French with them for 20 years now.  They have got the Chunnel that goes through the English Channel.  We don‘t build anymore.  Nobody is making steel.  Nobody is building railroads.  Nobody is doing anything in heavy industry. 

Young African-Americans grow up in all-white neighborhood with no jobs.  What are we going to do about it? 

DURBIN:  We can doing something about it.  And the president started us down that road. 

Take a look at the state of Illinois, high-speed rail coming to our state, creating thousands of jobs, clean-coal technology grants coming into our state, the largest clean coal technology grant in our history to build a pipeline to reduce pollution, $250 million to bring high-speed Internet across the state of Illinois. 

President Obama knows this is the way to build America.  And he couldn‘t get a Republican, including Congressman Mark Kirk, to even stand behind him and cast a vote to move us forward with good-paying American jobs. 

I couldn‘t agree with you more, Chris.  Let‘s build the infrastructure for the 21st century, so that we can make America number one again. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t mind the virtual world, but I like the real world, too, and I would like to get faster or rapid interstate or interconnectedness and all that.  I would like to see trains going by again. 

Anyway, thank you, Dick Durbin of Illinois. 


DURBIN:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  And a reminder:  We will be in Philadelphia tomorrow night at Temple University with Senate candidate Joe Sestak. 

We have got much more coming up here from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 



MATTHEWS: -- Florida independent Charlie Crist.

You are watching the HARDBALL “College Tour,” only on MSNBC. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, that is the—the old Sears Tower, now the Willis Tower. 


MATTHEWS:  And here we are on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re right down Chicago Way here.  There‘s a—by the way, there is a big mayor‘s race coming up here.  And local politics, it matters a lot out here. 

The former White House chief of staff, of course, Rahm Emanuel—


MATTHEWS: -- is running for mayor out here right now. 

Joining us to talk about that hot race in Chicago, Lynn Sweet of “The “Chicago Sun-Times” and MSNBC—


MATTHEWS: -- contributor, political contributor, Jim Warren. 

Lynn, is Rahm Emanuel the next mayor of Chicago? 


TIMES”:  Not necessarily.  He is a front-runner, not the front-runner. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this going all to be tribal and ethnic out here? 

SWEET:  Absolutely.  The key is building a constituency and building a coalition to get you—


MATTHEWS:  Absolutely.  You say it with relish. 

SWEET:  Absolutely. 



SWEET:  I‘m back home, and I—I know this.

MATTHEWS:  So, there‘s going to be a black candidate.  Who is that going to be?

SWEET:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the leading black candidate, Carol—Carol Moseley Braun? 

SWEET:  No, it‘s—Carol Moseley Braun, a state senator named James Meeks.

But you have—no one can get to the 50 percent that is going to avoid a runoff in April. 


SWEET:  That is why coalition-building is the key. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there still a big Harold Washington team out here, an African-American base—


MATTHEWS: -- that can win the nomination, or win the election? 

JIM WARREN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, I don‘t think so.  It is kind of interesting that you bring up the—


MATTHEWS:  Why?  There‘s more Hispanics now?  Is that what is going on? 


WARREN:  Well, right, a third, a third, a third, basically, white, Hispanic, and black. 

It‘s funny you mention Washington, because, when he ran, he was a clear consensus candidate picked in basically behind-closed-door meetings.  African-American leaders, including clergy, have tried to pull that off this time, are failing miserably. 

MATTHEWS:  They can‘t—they can‘t coalesce? 

WARREN:  They look—they look absolutely awful doing it.  And there‘s absolutely no suggestion now that they‘re going to be able to do it.

And they look like old—old ward bosses—


WARREN: -- of the Daley—old Daley machine that they can‘t -- 


MATTHEWS:  Is this like Philadelphia, where, if you‘re a white candidate, you want two black candidates to split the opposition; if you are a black candidate, you want two white guys? 

SWEET:  No.  Right—right now, you want a lot of people running, so you only have to have a low-plurality win.  You want the more the merrier, all the ethnic—



SWEET: -- so you can just get your vote out. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  Is Rahm Emanuel popular, after working for Barack Obama? 

SWEET:  The latest polls out in Chicago show that he is coming on strong, but he also started—



SWEET:  But hold on.  He is starting out as a celebrity candidate. 

There‘s a lot of—




MATTHEWS:  I want to ask you about another—



MATTHEWS:  The governor of this state—how many people believe that Blagojevich is guilty as charged? 


MATTHEWS:  How many people believe he is squeaky clean? 



MATTHEWS:  Well, I think that was overwhelming.  Does that surprise you?  It seemed to. 

WARREN:  No, it doesn‘t surprise me. 

What does surprise me is all of these smiling students.  These guys here are owed $480 million by—by the state of Illinois—


WARREN: -- which is part and parcel of our near-California status, which is something whoever is the next governor, whoever is the next mayor is going to deal with, these absolutely ballooning deficits here. 


Let‘s talk about this race.  We just had this big—we just had Giannoulias here.  He‘s very cool, very calm.  I have talked to him on the phone a couple times before this.  He seems like he is in good shape politically.  Everybody else in the country who is a Democrat running for Senate, Boxer, coast-to-coast, they are nervous, pretty much.  He is not nervous. 

Why is he—does he know something we don‘t know? 


MATTHEWS:  Alexi Giannoulias was sitting here a few minutes ago, acting like maybe he has not got this thing in the—got it for sure, but he acts very confident.  What is going on here in Illinois? 

SWEET:  What is going on is that he sees the path to victory, and that is, if there is a big Democratic turnout, which is possible, not there yet, big enthusiasm gap here, but you are going to have probably a lot of high-powered names -- 


MATTHEWS:  Could this be the island in the middle of the country that goes—goes Democrat? 

SWEET:  If there‘s—


WARREN:  No.  I mean, I think it‘s an island in the middle of the country, in that one doesn‘t have the clear polarization that one has elsewhere.  It is all a little bit more centrist, particularly in the top jobs.

But I think Alexi is—you know, is cutting a good image.  But he is in a whole lot of trouble.  It‘s—one big reason is there—Chris, imagine this.  There are 900,000 Democrats in the state who voted in the presidential election who likely will not come up. 


WARREN:  It‘s one reason Obama—

MATTHEWS:  Is this a Tea Party state or not? 

SWEET:  No.  Absolutely not. 




Thank you very much, as always, Jim Warren and Lynn Sweet.  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next, Governor Charlie Crist is joining us from Florida.


MATTHEWS:  He‘s running behind Republican Marco Rubio in that Florida Senate race.  Can he close the gap in the final days of this campaign? 


MATTHEWS:  Charlie Crist comes here in a minute.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re watching HARDBALL, on the “College Tour,” only on




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GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I-FL), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  I think that Obamacare was off the charts, was wrong.  It taxed too much, has mandates that are probably unconstitutional, and it is not the way to g.  And it was rammed through. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s “College Tour‘ at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


MATTHEWS:  That was independent Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist last night in that Senate debate. 

And here is Crist‘s Democratic opponent, Congressman Kendrick Meek, reacting to that statement.  Let‘s listen. 


REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D-FL), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m just shocked to hear, you know, now the new lingo from the governor talking about Obamacare.  I wonder if he said that to the president when he was walking with him on the beach. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A very quick rebuttal to the—the attack. 

MEEK:  I want the governor to respond.

CRIST:  Sure.  Thank you. 

When we were on the beach, we were protecting Florida.  And that‘s what I talked to him about. 


MEEK:  But you are for offshore oil drilling. 

CRIST:  I didn‘t interrupt you.

MEEK:  You‘re for offshore oil drilling. 

CRIST:  No, I‘m not. 

MEEK:  Well—

CRIST:  I‘m opposed to it. 

MEEK:  Oh—oh, now you are. 

CRIST:  He‘s the guy that wants offshore oil drilling.

MEEK:  Now you are.  Now you are.  Now you are.


CRIST:  You got them confused.


MEEK:  I don‘t know.  You were with Sarah Palin a couple years ago saying, drill, baby, drill. 

CRIST:  I never said, drill, baby, drill. 

MEEK:  You were clapping. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, Governor Crist is the man in the middle politically down there, and he took the lead with just—or can he take the lead with just two weeks to go?  He joins us tonight from Tampa, Florida. 

Governor, thank you for joining us. 

You know, I thought a man like yourself, somewhere in the political middle, would have a lot of appeal this year.  Is this a year in which there is no middle? 

CRIST:  I don‘t think that‘s true.  I think there is.

And you can see it really in polling.  If you look at the polling that has recently been brought to bear in the past month or so, a majority of Floridians are not for the Tea Party candidate, Marco Rubio.  He, unfortunately, has an extreme right-wing, radical agenda, if you will, wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade , believes that, you know, things ought to be on the table regarding Social Security, such as raising the age of eligibility, privatization, things that in a state like Florida just don‘t work. 

And so I think those things are problematic.  And what I need to do in the next two weeks is just continue to tell the truth to the people of Florida, appeal to their common sense, instead of nonsense, and make sure that we have a candidate that they can vote for on November 2 that can both win on that day and also go to Washington and have a commonsense agenda to do what‘s right for Florida and right for America. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this—this fight over where you stand politically has gotten almost primordial, almost like jungle discussions.  I mean, candidates accuse you of hugging the guy on the issue of the stimulus package, that you walked on the beach with him. 

It is idiotic.  You say nonsense.  It certainly is.  Aren‘t you supposed to show some hospitality to the president of the United States when he comes to your state? 

CRIST:  I certainly—

MATTHEWS:  And, yet, these opponents are jumping on this stuff, like you were hugging Arafat or somebody.

CRIST:  I know.  It‘s pretty remarkable.  And—and—

MATTHEWS:  What is the story in the—what is going on in Florida, which I thought had a centrist political mentality? 

CRIST:  Well, I think it still does.  And I think that will be borne out on November 2, Chris. 

I think that what you see is, my former party, the Republican Party, took a hard shift to the right.  And simply by going and being with the president when he came to Fort Myers less than 30 days after he was inaugurated, came down to talk about the Recovery Act, and I had the audacity to go and visit and be decent to the man—I mean, he is the president of the United States.

And I thought that was only appropriate.  It‘s how I was raised.  And so I think some in the hard right of the party, though, felt that it was the wrong thing to do.  Obviously, they thought it was the wrong thing to do.

But I thought it was the right thing to do.  I know that it is.  Civility and decency is what we need to restore in American politics, now more than ever.  You see what‘s going on in Washington, the gridlock, the finger-pointing—you know, and so much of this anger, it doesn‘t get America to move forward. 

We have to have reasonable minds with common sense put forward the kinds of ideas and the kinds of real solutions that will make a difference instead of, you know, the parties fighting with each other, instead of working for the people first.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at your debate last night because I don‘t think I saw a lot of civility there last night.  And, in fact, I wondered about your position on the president right now.

Let‘s take a look at the issue as it developed.  Here‘s Marco Rubio, let‘s have your attack at this point against Rubio, the guy you call somewhere on the right.  Let‘s listen.


CRIST:  You know, there‘s an expression in Washington called pay-to-play.  Now, what does that mean?  Well, let me relate it to and the possibility of what it means here in Florida.

When the speaker was speaker of the Florida House, he had a home here in Miami, in south Florida.  It was for sale.  And before that sale took place, he was on the other side of a personal injury protection issue.  It was a Dr. Cereceda that he ended up selling the home to that had an interest in that issue.  Once he sold the home for $380,000, cash, the speaker‘s position on the issue changed and all of a sudden, miraculously that bill went through.


MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s Rubio‘s reaction to your charge.  Let‘s listen.


MARCO RUBIO ®, FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE:  The governor‘s running on this had idea that he‘s some sort of a centrist, saying he wants to go to Washington and change the tone of Washington.  And yet, in front of the live audience in this state, he‘s just launched a vicious personal attack against me based on a falsehood.

The governor switched parties, after he took a poll, it was documented.  You talk about newspapers, Governor, the “St. Pete Times” had a reporter with Governor Crist on the day he switched parties.  And you know what the last call he made before he switched parties was?  To his pollsters, and when his pollsters told him that he had a better chance to win as an independent than as a Republican—

MODERATOR:  Let‘s move on.  I‘m going to have to take control here.  Let‘s take control of the personal attacks and move on to some more substance.


MATTHEWS:  Is this what politics has come to?  You go back in somebody‘s past.  Are you really charging him with hanky-panky, with having done something here in terms of his sale of his home that was involving some kind of pass-through, or is being passed through some money in the home purchase or home sale that was somehow illegal or improper?

What are you saying here?

CRIST:  Oh, we don‘t know, Chris.  It‘s very suspicious though.  And the Sarasota—

MATTHEWS:  Why do you bring it up if you don‘t know?

CRIST:  Because “The Sarasota Herald Tribune” brought it up about a week ago and said people have the right to know the way public officials comport themselves.  You know, some are there for public service.  Others are there for self-service.

I‘ve never been there for self-service, but only to service the people of Florida that I love and care about so much.

Now, when a transaction like that takes place, people have a right to know, evaluate themselves.  It‘s not personal.  This is a public record.  These things are on the record and reported by newspapers in the state of Florida.

I think before the people go to the polls and register their vote, they need to know what all the facts are.  And they are smart enough to figure out what they want to believe about them, what they think truth is, and then make their conclusion.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Yes.  Well, I got to tell you, Governor, I‘m big fan of yours politically, but this is the kind of politics that gets to you in the last week or two, I hate it.  It‘s got nothing to do with what kind of a voting record you or he are going to have in Washington.

But thank you for coming on, Charlie Crist, governor of Florida.

CRIST:  It‘s good to be with you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asked Anita Hill to apologize.  She left a message on the phone.  What‘s this all about?  Let‘s find out why this story is coming back again.


MATTHEWS:  This is HARDBALL College Tour at the University of Illinois in Chicago, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Wow, I love doing these groups.

Anyway, we are back now nearly 20 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  Justice Thomas‘ wife, Ginni, well, just the other day, phoned Anita Hill and asked for an apology.

It was the morning of October 9th and Ginni Thomas left a message on Anita Hill‘s office voicemail at Brandeis University where she‘s a law professor.

Here is what the notes said: “Good morning, Anita Hill.  It‘s Ginni Thomas.  I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something I would love to you consider, an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.  So, give it some thought and certainly prayer—pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did.  OK, have a good day.”


MATTHEWS:  Well, Anita Hill turned the message over to the Brandeis campus police with a request from her to, of course, notify the FBI.

Her statement reads, “I certainly thought the call was inappropriate.  I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.”

Once again, a story with so much context missing, you wonder if you are getting the heart of it.

Howard Fineman is the senior political editor of “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC political analyst.  And Nicolle Wallace was a strategist for the McCain campaign and author of the book “Eighteen Acres.”

Nicole, good luck with your book.  I‘m going to start with you and I want to ask you about this.  Is there something we‘re not getting here?  What was going on really between Anita Hill—not Anita Hill, the court nominee, now the member—n associate justice of the Supreme Court, was there something in that whole story we didn‘t get?  Their relationship, for example—I don‘t know if it was relevant, I never understood what it was.

Is there something missing here why Anita Hill, a law professor, obviously knows what she‘s doing would go to the FBI with this call that seems fairly innocuous?  What are we missing here?

NICOLLE WALLACE, AUTHOR, “EIGHTEEN ACRES”:  You know this is one of those stories that completely scrambles my circuits, Chris.  And I have more questions than conclusions about what happened.

But I‘m open to the possibility that this is simply a window into what has been for the Thomases, probably far more central to their life, even now 20 years later than any of us could guess, that the pain and the humiliation of what went on 20 years ago must still be so close to the surface for them for her to have left a message like this.  And I‘m more fascinated by the human drama that‘s been created.

I too, think it was interesting the way the message was handled.  You certainly know when you turn something over to the authorities that it‘s going to be public and it seems like from everything that I‘ve read that Anita Hill is interested in leading a private life.  So, the whole thing, as I said, completely scrambles my circuits.

MATTHEWS:  Howard, again, the same question to you: is there something missing that needs to be reported here?  Was she getting harassment calls from the right?  Had she gotten a history of calls that made her feel endangered that justified or would suggest why she would go to the FBI with what seems to be a request to sort of close an issue, fairly or not, badly worded or not, it didn‘t sound threatening?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think, as Nicolle said, this is a terribly painful experience, an episode to this day, all these years later, for the Thomases and for Anita Hill.  Don‘t forget, these were personal relationships.  These were deeply emotional dramas played out in the context where the whole country was watching.  But yet it involved these people.

It‘s not just that Anita Hill asked the Brandies police to notify the FBI.  Anita Hill played the—played the message for “The New York Times.”  You know, so, she clearly wanted the message to be heard.  And I think she‘s just as wound up and bound up on this whole thing as the Thomases are all these years later.

Don‘t forget that a few years ago—Ginni Thomas, who‘s now a public figure, she‘s a political activist now, Chris.  She has a PR firm.  She has group called Liberty Central.  She‘s tied in with the Tea Party.  She‘s really campaigning the lower taxes and all of these other things.

You know, she‘s a public official.  A number of years ago, she also asked Anita Hill for an apology.  I think it was right after Clarence Thomas—Justice Thomas‘ book was published.  Anita hill said no at that time.

She thought the matter was closed at this time and to have got then call out of the blue at her office on a Saturday morning, you know, last weekend, I thought was probably pretty shocking to her.  I don‘t know that there‘s any more political motive in this for Anita Hill.  I think Anita Hill wants a private life from the friends I know of hers I‘ve talked to.  She doesn‘t really want to be a national figure again, certainly in this context.

On the other hand, you know, there it is on the front page of “The New York Times.”

MATTHEWS:  I get back to you, Nicolle, on this.  Do you think Ginni Thomas wanted this publicity?

WALLACE:  I can‘t tell, you know?  I mean these are smart people, but sometimes, as you know politicians do stupid things.  These are people who really have lived a life under the microscope, extraordinary scrutiny on all parties involved.  So, it makes you wonder, how could you leave a message like that, so compelling for so many reasons and not expect that we‘re all going to be talking about it?

But again, I‘m convinced that the human drama and the human tragedy in all this, as Howard says, for all parties is what‘s driving everyone—that these were actions of passion.  That these were not acts of calculation.

FINEMAN:  Now, Chris, the timing of this is interesting.  Ginni Thomas made the phone call on the same morning that a “New York Times” story appeared on the front page, I think, of “The Times” describing her—

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that tell you, Howard?

FINEMAN:  -- Ginni Thomas‘ political activities.

MATTHEWS:  So what‘s it tell you, that coincidence?

FINEMAN:  It tells me that—well, first of all, my understanding is that Ginni Thomas didn‘t mind “The New York Times” story.  It‘s not like she felt pressured or attacked, she was actually proud of her role leading this Liberty Central thing, being involved in politics, which she‘d always been from—you know, from the beginning going back 20, 25 years.

I think maybe she was thinking of herself as a public figure who wanted to try to tie up this most gigantic of loose ends so she could move forward with her own political activism and maybe not have to deal with the Anita Hill thing anymore.  That‘s the only thing I can figure out at this point.  This is not something that she did in consultation with her public relations or political advisers.  Ginni Thomas did this completely on her own, as far as I know.

MATTHEWS:  OK, I think it‘s going to be one of those cases that—not that it‘s on the same level something like Alger Hiss or O.J. Simpson, one of those cases.  People take their sides on these fights, and the minute it comes back up again, the scabs ripped off and we all take sides again.

FINEMAN:  Right.  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  It doesn‘t seem to have anything to do with more information.  We never get any more information.

Anyway, thank you very much, Howard Fineman and thank you.

FINEMAN:  We can try.

MATTHEWS:  Good luck, Nicolle Wallace, author of “Eighteen Acres,” a great new novel.

WALLACE:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  When we return, I‘m going to talk to the crowd out there in University of Illinois.

This is the HARDBALL College Tour, only on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.  We‘re back at University of Illinois in Chicago, on the campus.

We‘re going to ask these young people what they think we should be doing to create jobs for them.  That‘s the real challenge.  People in their 20s.

You, Miss?


MATTHEWS:  What can we do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I think we should basically invest in education more.  Which—


MATTHEWS:  What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think that we have to invest in America‘s education.  It all starts with the youth by creating more jobs for our students and give them more opportunity and potential to grow, we can create more opportunities and potential job growth for everything—things such as investing in green initiatives, and providing more education for America‘s youth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, I believe that we have to make school more affordable.  More loans.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it cost to go here a year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  For me, it‘s $28,000 a year -- $28,000, $29,000 a year.  It‘s a lot.  It‘s rough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, education‘s way too expensive in America.  We need better scholarship and grants for students to go to school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think like he said it right.  We start with education and then we create green technology, make it a new industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Got to hustle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need infrastructure.  We need to build high-speed rail.  We need to put Americans back to work.  And produce things in this country again.

MATTHEWS:  Real jobs, real jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to stop caring about China and bring it back here.  We need to start creating jobs here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  New spending on green technology, as well as energy independence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like—technology coming to California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ship jobs oversea, duh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Make what we do better, faster and innovate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I agree with Alexi and I think we have to give tax breaks to middle-class families so that when we get out of school, we can all get jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A dollar tax on gasoline, it‘s an incentive to create green jobs.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m coming to you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stop all the tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I agree with him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that we should invest in more green technology.

MATTHEWS:  Did you say agree with me?



MATTHEWS:  What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Infrastructure, green technology and education—all three have been said, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Don‘t forget about the children.

MATTHEWS:  OK, I got to talk to you tomorrow night.  We‘re going to be at north Philadelphia, Temple University, with Joe Sestak, the hard-driving candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

The College Tour continues.





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