Guests: Richard Engel, Michael Sheehan, Howard Fineman, Julia Boorstin, Joan Walsh, Todd Harris, Steve McMahon, Paul Sterbcow, Robert Reich, John Marshall
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Dangerous weekend?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight, Friday night fights. It‘s the Friday before election day. We‘ve got all the fisticuffs of the new right all in the arena now, the stomping of a Democratic activist, the quote, “security team‘s” arrest of a reporter in Alaska, that “take you out” threat of a New York Tea Partier. The rough stuff keeps getting rougher.
We start with the story airing on the news this afternoon, the threat of global violence from the air. It all began when there was intelligence that suspicious packages were aboard planes coming from Yemen bound for Chicago. President Obama spoke about this late this afternoon. He called it a credible terror threat. We‘ll bring you the latest, plus the political implications of this four days before the mid-term elections.
Plus, all the wrong moves. Democrat Kendrick Meek is in. No, he‘s out. Wait, he‘s back in again. Bill Clinton tried but failed to get him out of that Florida Senate race so the Tea Party darling, Marco Rubio, could be beaten. But did the handling of this episode make the Democrat the issue?
And suspicions confirmed. We now know through a presidential report that Dick Cheney‘s old company, Halliburton, knew that that cement used to seal the BP well was unsafe before that rig explosion. Well, the commission uncovered this despite being denied subpoena power by the Republicans in the Senate led by Mitch McConnell. Imagine what the commission would be able to uncover if it had a free hand and subpoena power, which Republicans are afraid to give them.
Finally, what do you do when you‘re Meg Whitman and your poll numbers are sinking? What else? You call for your housekeeper of nine years to be deported from the country. That‘s what she did, and that‘s in the “Sideshow.”
We begin with the serious stuff of the president. President Obama called it a credible terrorist threat, what happened this afternoon, those explosive materials found in packages from Yemen bound for America.
Richard Engel is NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent and Michael Sheehan is a terrorism analyst for NBC News.
Richard, these—it looks like, based upon what Brennan said this afternoon, that these—that we got a high sign from somebody, a heads-up that there were dangerous packages aboard those planes.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, by NBC‘s reporting, that came from Saudi Arabia. We got a tip about what was coming, and then the U.S. officials started looking for it. So by all accounts, yesterday, American national security counterterrorism officials were told, Hey, be on the lookout for two packages heading toward Jewish centers in Chicago.
So today they found them, and they have been looking for anything coming from Yemen today. And according to president, those two packages were identified and did contain some explosive materials.
MATTHEWS: Do we know what that means, explosive material? Do they mean, like, it‘s something with a trigger on it, when you open it, it blows up? What would that mean?
ENGEL: And that‘s a good question because I‘ve been wondering that myself. Did they contain some sort of bomb-making material, or were they a bomb ready to go? And if you look at this kind of attack, it‘s a very roundabout way to carry out an attack, to put something in the mail that has got to go through several different international borders to finally make it to a synagogue in Chicago.
There are very few packages that come out of Yemen.
ENGEL: The people who operate that know that this would be a red flag for anyone. So you have to start asking, was the objective really to have a bomb explode at a synagogue in Yemen—in Chicago, or was it to trigger a response, to trigger a media response, to trigger—
MATTHEWS: Sure. (INAUDIBLE) great question.
ENGEL: -- to get everybody riled up over this?
MATTHEWS: You‘d have to be pretty benighted, even if you‘re a sophisticated terrorist, to think that a rabbi or one of his assistants would open a package from Yemen that was suspicious to begin with because of where it came from.
Let‘s go right now—let‘s go to the president right—serious business. I don‘t mean to be sarcastic, but this is a strange plot. Let‘s go here—and unlikely to succeed, thank God. Let‘s go to the president this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last night and earlier today, our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, working with our friends and allies, identified two suspicious packages bound for the United States, specifically, two places of Jewish worship in Chicago. Those packages have been located in Dubai and East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom. Initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway—excuse me, guys. Let me go to Michael Sheehan. The president seemed to have delivered that news without affect, as we say, certainly not attempting to dramatize it beyond the drama itself that‘s implicit in the threat of a bombing. What do you make of how he‘s handling this in terms of the election coming up Tuesday?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Chris, I think the president had to walk a fine line here. On one hand, fortunately for him, this one worked out well. The intelligence worked. Our security measures worked. These two devices intercepted. And so he has a good story.
But his message, he has to do two things. On the one hand, he has to show that we‘re serious, that we‘re focused on this effort, on the other hand, show calm so that this al Qaeda activity or whatever it was doesn‘t interrupt our way of life, our economy. And I think he struck that balance pretty well this afternoon.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at another point, Michael and Richard. Let‘s hear some more of the president. We‘ll finish up here with this. It turns out it‘s not as scary as it looked. Here‘s the president late this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. I have also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages and their connection to any additional terrorist plotting. Although we are still pursuing all the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens and our friends and allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, hopefully, we can put this story to bed and get back to our election because American democracy‘s more important than the terrorist threat, I believe—I think we all know that—especially if this is an attempt to discombobulate us right before an election.
Let me go right now to Richard Engel, a final thought from you and from Michael Sheehan. Yemen, al Qaeda in Yemen, al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula—is this a threat we‘re going to have to keep a particular eye on?
ENGEL: I think this was an attempt to discombobulate more than to actually destroy or kill people. They know how to do that. They‘re able to do that. And I think, yes, there are going to be more people in Yemen who want to do harm. The government of Yemen is a friendly government, but it‘s hard to stop some citizens who want to put a small bomb in the mail because they know it‘s going to frighten some American people and get the security services very riled up.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think we have to get calm, and the president looked like he was today. Looked like a good show by our security forces. We got the word ahead of time. We checked the bomb out. We‘re safe. Thank you, Richard Engel. Thank you, Michael Sheehan.
Up next, why are we seeing so much violence and violent talk from conservative candidates and their supporters in this election year? What is going on? It‘s getting to be a whiff of totalitarianism out there. I‘ve never seen this kind of behavior—arrests, people getting foot stomped, threats of being “taken out,” Talking about 2nd Amendment remedies, using guns against politicians. You know, I‘ve followed politics for half a century, never heard talk like this.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: What a revoltin‘ development! Sarah Palin‘s hand-picked Senate candidate, Joe Miller, up in Alaska is fading fast after revelations that he was disciplined for politicking in that municipal job he had and then lying about it. But Palin offered a full-throated defense of Miller at a rally in Anchorage, singling out what she calls his honor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Let‘s send Joe Miller to the United States Senate to shake it up! No more business as usual! Let‘s change D.C.! Let‘s restore America with honor! That is what Joe Miller will bring to the United States Senate!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. She‘s yelling, but she‘s reading from notes, not a strong sign. She‘s got to look at notes now. Well, it may not be enough, what Palin said. Here‘s the latest Pollster.com average on Joe Miller‘s freefall. And the national Democrats, sensing opportunity, are giving McAdams—Scott McAdams, the Democratic candidate—a boost. They‘re going up there with new ads, hoping to pick off a Senate seat as the Republicans and conservatives split up the vote on the right up in Alaska.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘ll get to why we‘re seeing so much violence in talk and action from conservative candidates and their supporters. I just want to know why.
But first, let‘s check the latest poll numbers on the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.” We start with the Senate race in Nevada. Sharron Angle now leads Harry Reid by just 4 in that “Las Vegas Review-Journal” poll. That‘s 49-45, close enough to her. In Wisconsin, it‘s Republican Ron Johnson, the self-financer, as I say, 4 points above Russ Feingold. He may be closing there. Look, he‘s closing in his bid (ph).
Now to California. The new Field poll, that‘s the big poll out of the “Chronicle” out there, has Boxer up by 8, looking comfortable for the incumbent, finally, over Carly Fiorina, 49-41.
Alaska—look at this. This is the one we‘ve been talking about, the Hayes (ph) Research poll. Catch these numbers -- 34 percent of respondents said they‘re going to vote for the write-in candidate, which especially means in this case—well, it does mean, it Lisa Murkowski. She‘s the write-in candidate. Then you look at McAdams, the Democrat, in second place at 29. And then Miller, the favorite of the Tea Party who won the primary up there, 23. So he‘s dropped to third, if you believe these numbers. The tricky part is, again, the write-in candidate has to get somebody to say, I‘m going to write your name in, a little harder than just pushing a button.
In Florida, Marco Rubio‘s built a big lead now in the Mason-Dixon poll. He‘s up at—he‘s getting close to 50. It‘s almost a knockout—a shut-out, if you will. He‘s up to 45 now, Charlie Crist—uh-uh -- 28, not good. Even with—if Meek and he get together, it‘s going to be a close one. If they put their 28 and 21 together, it‘s a close one.
We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to November 2nd, which is coming on pretty fast.
Now let‘s get physical, as we said in the old song. The Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman—there‘s the—he‘s an NBC analyst, as well as a Huffington Post reporter, and Joan Walsh is the editor-in-chief of Salon.com.
Well, that‘s an old song, and it‘s almost—it‘s funny but it‘s not funny. Here we have this crazy stuff. Let‘s start with the video from outside the Kentucky debate this week. Let‘s watch and listen and judge if we were on the jury—and there‘s going to be jury trial here, a criminal case, it looks like—what kind of punishment would you assign this perp? Let‘s listen and watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the police!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no. Come on!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that head stomper—his name is Tim Profitt, P-R-O-F-I-T-T—told the local radio station out there, WKYT, that he feared for Rand Paul‘s safety. I want to let you start with this, Joan, because I know you‘ll find this outrageous. It just seems to me that that guy‘s instinct was a bit storm-trooperish, to put it lightly.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: It was to hurt. You know, there‘s been a lot of defense of him, saying he just was trying to bring her down, he was just trying to hold her down there, Chris. He put his foot—a lot of people were saying the foot was on the shoulder. The foot went straight, you saw it, from the shoulder to the head.
Can you imagine being that poor woman? Now, maybe she got a little close to Rand Paul‘s car. I don‘t know all those details. But she did not look like a threat and she did not deserve to have her head stomped by a Rand Paul volunteer. And I just don‘t think—I don‘t think enough attention has been paid to this. I think it‘s very dangerous, very sobering, and people should be denouncing this.
MATTHEWS: I‘m going to have a commentary on this at the end of the show, Howard, because I think there‘s a certain whiff of something here I don‘t like, which is this evidence of going operational. These are supposed to be just supporters. They go into this fighting mode, this street tough mode here.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And they did it against a woman who was engaging in some street theater there—
MATTHEWS: With a wig on.
FINEMAN: -- with a wig on, who, you know, is no physical threat to Rand Paul. You know, having worked in Kentucky and known that place and know a lot of people there, it‘s nothing special about Kentucky. But you know, it‘s a hard fought battle with a lot of nasty stuff—and this is true all over the country—very nasty things said. Don‘t forget, Chris, that virtually every ad that‘s been on television, every message from every candidate all year this year has been negative.
FINEMAN: There‘s been little positive advertising on anything. So one reason that—
MATTHEWS: Oh! He‘s crunching her there.
FINEMAN: OK. Well, it‘s a short hop, skip, step and a jump from calling somebody evil or unpatriotic or basically—
MATTHEWS: -- already there.
FINEMAN: The sanctions are there verbally in these ads.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look at this.
FINEMAN: On both sides.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Miller up there, Joe Miller, who may not even get in first or second place up there for Alaska. He hires these military guys. They‘re apparently some of the guys who were actually in our country‘s service at the time. He has something to do with the militia group up there. He apparently posts regularly on this group up there—with this group. Here he is with his guards.
This does again remind me of the 1930s! These guys—let‘s take a look at this. These guys have a video of—and we‘re going to show it to you—of these guys—I‘ve never heard of politicians hiring a bunch of military guys to be their supposedly, you know, group of Hell‘s Angels, whatever, defenders. Look at them all! They‘re guarding the—look at—it is an amazing group of things. I‘ve never seen so much of this. And then we‘re going to see more of this.
Joan, your thoughts. You‘ve covered campaigns. I‘ve never seen teams of paramilitary being hired to work in a political campaign.
WALSH: I‘ve never seen anything like it. You know, I‘ve never—
I‘ve never—I don‘t—I haven‘t seen reporters handcuffed for asking questions, Chris. You know, Lisa Murkowski is trying to make something of this, and as well she should. This isn‘t—this doesn‘t happen in America. You do not detain reporters for asking questions. In that case, there wasn‘t even a remote threat to the candidate—
WALSH: -- unless the threat would be maybe asking questions—
WALSH: -- obviously.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at the Murkowski ad taking advantage of this. Maybe she‘s going to make some headway out of this. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Miller‘s answer to freedom of the press? Arrest the journalists. Joe Miller‘s answer to illegal immigration? Use East Germany as an example. Exactly what kind of America does Joe Miller live in? It‘s time for a return to common sense, time to return Lisa Murkowski to Washington.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI ®, ALASKA: I‘m Lisa Murkowski, and I approved this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, throwing in that some East Coast action from Paladino, the Tea Party running for governor of New York, telling a reporter he‘s going to “take him out,” in a sort of a gangland message—
I‘m going to knock you out in a gang—you‘re going to wake up Saturday morning in the river somewhere. I‘m going to take you out.
FINEMAN: OK. Well, that‘s just New York.
MATTHEWS: Oh, come on! Don‘t—
MATTHEWS: There‘s not a person who saw that didn‘t see that as a physical threat!
FINEMAN: I know. I know. I know.
WALSH: Come on, Howard.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to talk to Rupert Murdoch about the guy‘s job?
FINEMAN: No, no. I agree. First of all, the other thing that‘s going on here is that especially on the Republican side, everybody‘s running against the press. I mean, and—
FINEMAN: -- it started out as a benign tactic, but it‘s not benign anymore. And for a lot of the hard-core supporters of Republicans candidates, verbal attack after verbal attack after verbal attack on the press is part of their thing and—
MATTHEWS: How about Angle saying she‘s not going to do any interviews with—
FINEMAN: Proudly so, she‘s saying that, because this is an emblem of her thinking. And so you put those together with—
FINEMAN: -- with a—with—
MATTHEWS: She‘s never done this yet. She hadn‘t done what Paladino did up in New York. Let‘s take a look at—
WALSH: Not yet.
MATTHEWS: -- what he threatened there. Let‘s take a look at that one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED DICKER, “NEW YORK POST: Do you have any evidence for the charge you made?
CARL PALADINO (R-NY), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: At the appropriate time, you‘ll get it!
DICKER: This guy‘s the attorney general of New York—
PALADINO: You‘re his stalking horse!
DICKER: Where‘s the evidence?
PALADINO: You‘re his bird dog!
DICKER: You made the charge.
PALADINO: You send another goon to my daughter‘s house, and I‘ll take you out, buddy!
DICKER: You‘re going to take me out.
DICKER: How‘re you going to do that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: OK. How do you not laugh?
FINEMAN: Come on!
MATTHEWS: I‘m laughing, but here‘s Sharron Angle with the radio host, Lars Larson. He‘s a bit of a conservative. Let‘s see what she had to say to him. This is back in January. Let‘s listen to her theories about the Constitution, how it works its way through our democracy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, our founding fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact, you know, Thomas Jefferson said it‘s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.
I hope that‘s not where we‘re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?
And I will tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Just a thought here. Suppose she wins—and could easily win next Tuesday—and she‘s going to the United States Senate, which she has openly threatened with armed attack by her people if they don‘t vote the right way.
Listen to her. There is no other meaning to the people are looking to those Second Amendment remedies if this Congress keeps going the way it‘s going, Joan. Those are the words.
You know, we have made a mistake in the past. I don‘t want to compare her to Hitler, but we have made a mistake in the past of not reading and listening to people when they‘re seeking public power before they get there. She‘s pretty open about her attitudes.
WALSH: She‘s open about it. And you had a Republican candidate for Congress in Dallas, Texas, last week say something similar about revolution. These people—what I don‘t really understand, Chris, is, look, I may not like it, but some of them are doing very well at the polls.
They‘re using our great American system. They‘re making their case. Some of them will be elected. And yet they‘re at the same time discrediting our great American system and threatening if they don‘t get their way that we might Second Amendment remedies and we might need a revolution because we have this president elected that they apparently despise.
It is disturbing.
FINEMAN: What amazes me is that Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the Senate, may lose to that person.
MATTHEWS: Who‘s talking gunplay.
FINEMAN: Who‘s talking gunplay, essentially.
MATTHEWS: Well, here we go again. I don‘t know if this is fair. You can decide if this is fair. Here‘s the Ohio congressional candidate Rich Iott in his uniforms.
MATTHEWS: Now, of course he likes to dance around in a Nazi uniform. I don‘t know anybody that does that. I know people that love Civil War reenactments. My son did know. My brother loves this stuff. They‘re Civil War nuts.
But I don‘t know anybody who‘s a Nazi nut. And there‘s John Boehner apparently campaigning for him this weekend, joining hands with this guy, saluting him, if you will, although I don‘t think he knows the right salute, thank God.
WALSH: Yes, really.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of Boehner going out there and holding hands with this character? These people—you can do anything you want on the weekends. You can play tiddlywinks. You can go bowling. He chooses to put on a Nazi uniform on weekends. That‘s a choice.
WALSH: And tells us that it‘s not really about admiring the Nazi Party, but it‘s about admiring what they did militarily, which is ridiculous.
It‘s reminded me of when Louis Farrakhan called Hitler wickedly great, Chris. Can you imagine?
WALSH: Can you imagine somebody saying that about Nazism on the Democratic side? It‘s just mind-boggling.
And John Boehner ought to know better. He just really, really wants to be speaker very badly and he is not going to let a little bit of Nazism stand in his way.
MATTHEWS: I‘m trying to think of politics as symmetric. And I don‘t think it is.
I can‘t imagine—if you had, for example, a pro-life protester—and they‘re pretty graphic. They‘re pretty good at it. They show teddy bears the kid will never hug. And I‘m very sympathetic to that point of view, if not the politics.
And if anybody ever grabbed one of those nice, nicely-turned-out pro-lifers who was getting in the face of a liberal candidate, and stomped them, it would be the biggest story in the world.
WALSH: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a difference in the two sides.
WALSH: There‘s a double standard.
MATTHEWS: When a right-winger does it, oh, that‘s—I guess he had a hard day or he thought that this person was a threat to his candidate.
We‘re beginning to ignore the fact they‘re wearing Nazi uniforms, they‘re arresting people, they‘re threatening to take them out and stomping them, and all this stuff seems to be going on and everybody doesn‘t put it together.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. There‘s a pattern here.
FINEMAN: Well, I think there are different categories of offenses here. I‘m not sure and I haven‘t heard—
MATTHEWS: You don‘t see a theme here?
FINEMAN: No. What I see a theme is—what I see as the theme is the rough edge of American politics right now, which has been dragged very hard to the right.
MATTHEWS: How about the fringe has always been there, but because of a bad time, people are actually nominating these people?
FINEMAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: There‘s always been a Sharron Angle. There‘s always been a Carl Paladino.
FINEMAN: By the way, and I think, if you look at history, I‘m sure there have been times over the last 75, 80 years when sometimes on the left, there was some rough stuff over the years, in the past, if you want to go back to the ‘30s, if you want to go back to various parts of what was going on during the Great Depression, OK?
MATTHEWS: But they were clashing with the Pinkertons.
MATTHEWS: They were—
FINEMAN: -- machines and so forth.
WALSH: There was labor strikes.
FINEMAN: There were some things—not-nice things that happened on Election Day on the other side.
MATTHEWS: I sense it‘s asymmetric this year. Maybe the anger is all on one side.
FINEMAN: This year. I‘m not saying it isn‘t this year. But if you look at history—
MATTHEWS: Last thought, Joan. I think it‘s peculiar to one side this year, certainly.
WALSH: I think it‘s extremely unbalanced and it‘s on the one side.
I can‘t think of another example of a Democratic congressional or Senate candidate at this point using any kind of these tactics. So, I‘m not totally comfortable with this kind of they—both sides do it, Howard.
FINEMAN: Well, I‘m just saying look at history for examples.
MATTHEWS: Yes, we don‘t know all the way back, do we?
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman.
You‘re right. You‘re right, but not now.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh.
Thank you, Howard Fineman.
WALSH: Chris, I will be thinking of you in Arlington this weekend at the World Series.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. Well, I never did like expansion teams, especially when they‘re run by George W. Bush.
WALSH: So I guess you‘re rooting for my Giants.
MATTHEWS: The Phillies had a very good year. They played really well.
WALSH: They did.
MATTHEWS: And they lost to a team that had a very good playoff—championship season. I think the Giants have been playing really well. There‘s no shame in losing to a good team.
WALSH: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Philly fans, you got—three times in a row, they have been in the game. That‘s something.
FINEMAN: Fear the beard. Fear the beard.
WALSH: Great team. Fear the beard.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, tomorrow, watch—when we get the pitching and the batting together in one year, look out.
And, tomorrow, watch our documentary “Rise of the New Right” for an in-depth look at what‘s going on, on the conservative fringe of this country. We‘re very proud of this. It‘s an hour long, tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern. Get the full picture, guns and all.
Up next: Trailing in the polls, Meg Whitman says the housekeeper she fired should be—oh, this is kind—the one she loves and treats like family—should be deported. That naked play for conservative votes next in the “Sideshow.” I think she‘s going right.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the “Sideshow,” which gets better and better. And it‘s not our fault. They just keep coming at us.
First; thrown overboard. Last month, Meg Whitman‘s former housekeeper Nicky Diaz accused Whitman of knowingly employing her as an undocumented worker for nine years. Well, this week on FOX, the would-be governor of California Meg Whitman asked whether Diaz should be deported. Here comes the kindness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
MEG WHITMAN ®, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the answer is, it breaks my heart, but she should be deported, because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status. And it breaks my heart.
Gloria Allred pulled off a political stunt. And you know what? On November 3, no one is going to care about Nicky Diaz. But the law is the law. And we live in a rule of law. It‘s important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “It breaks my heart,” anyway, if you believe that.
Anyway, is this really about the rule of law, Ms. Whitman, or is it about your fading poll numbers? And while there‘s likely people who after reelected will still care about Nicky Diaz, who worked for you for nearly a decade, it looks like you don‘t care about her anymore.
Next: Is there a Tea Party revolt in the works right now? Well, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, our favorite, the movement‘s most visible lawmaker, was asked during her debate yesterday who would she support for speaker of the House. Well, catch her noncommittal response.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Right now, we don‘t know exactly who the candidates will be. It may be John Boehner. If John Boehner‘s the only candidate running, I will be voting for John Boehner. But I hope that the Republicans do get control of the House, and then I will look at all the candidates and weigh it accordingly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Where did they get that picture?
Anyway, all this depends on how much and how big the Tea Party wins on Tuesday. Maybe they will really take over the House.
Finally, a big-time mea culpa in Wisconsin. Rebecca Kleefisch, the Republican running for lieutenant governor out there, is getting heat for her January interview with a local Christian radio station.
Here‘s Kleefisch explaining her stance against domestic partner benefits for gay state employees.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REBECCA KLEEFISCH ®, WISCONSIN LIEUTENANT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:
We can‘t at this point afford to just be handing out money to anyone. This is a slippery slope in addition to that. At what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can—can I marry this table, or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How about two people who love each other getting married? How about that for a simple rule? Anyway, after that clip resurfaced, Kleefisch yesterday apologized for her—quote—“poor choice of words.”
What words was she trying to use?
Anyway, time now for tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Alaska‘s Supreme Court ruled yesterday that election officials can hand out a list of write-in candidates at the polls on Election Day. It seemed like a big victory for write-in candidate Senator Lisa Murkowski, that is, until a local radio host who supports Republican Joe Miller told his flock to also register as write-ins, which is why there are now 150 write-in candidates for Alaska senator. You guessed it.
This is going to hurt Murkowski on Election Day, too many names on the list. Alaska‘s senior citizen gets know snowed in, if you will, about 150 write-ins and counting, tonight‘s very mischievous “Big Number.”
Up next: high drama in Florida, as Bill Clinton tries to get Kendrick Meek to get out of that Senate race. Rubio is way up in the polls, Meek staying in. And this whole episode doesn‘t make the Democrats look too smart. Our strategists join us next.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D-FL), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The president and I talked about it. I told him that I didn‘t feel comfortable with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it? What is it? What is it, when you say, “We talked about it”?
MEEK: No, you talked about the fact, the rumor that I was going to drop out of the race. And, as you know, anyone that knows President Clinton, he loves to talk about all options and what could happen, what will happen.
And I told him, you know, I feel—you know, I‘m not going to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s go inside on this one.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek on his talks with former President Bill Clinton about dropping out of the race in that three-way down there.
Today, Bill Clinton issued this statement—quote—“We did talk last week following a rally in Orlando about the race and its challenges. I didn‘t ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would. I told him that how he proceeds was his decision to make and that I would support him regardless.”
Well, Steve McMahon is Democratic strategist and Todd Harris is a Republican strategist, who‘s a senior strategist in the Marco Rubio campaign.
You‘re chuckling like mad. And I want you to ask you why.
Todd—basically, Todd, you have got a three-way race down there, where you guys is winning, the Tea Party Republican is winning, moving up towards 50 percent. You‘re in good shape. On the other side is the other half of the electorate, split between Kendrick Meek and the sitting Republican governor.
Bill Clinton has been rumored to want to get Kendrick out of the race. I don‘t think he actually denied it. I don‘t think any of these quotes, if you listen to a politician, actually deny suggesting it would be fine with him if Kendrick got out and let Crist have a shot.
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I actually—I think Bill Clinton is a lot smarter than that.
MATTHEWS: Than what?
HARRIS: I really don‘t think that he put any pressure on him to get out.
MATTHEWS: No, nobody‘s saying that, nobody with any brains. Conversations in politics are never like people think they are. You can have a conversation about, well, whatever you decide, it will be good for me. And I can understand how you could make that kind of a decision.
You can talk about all kinds of things without saying it.
HARRIS: Let me rephrase that.
I don‘t even think that Bill Clinton thinks it would be a good idea for Kendrick Meek to drop out, because Charlie Crist is flat broke. There are only a couple of days left in this election.
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘re flacking. You‘re flacking.
HARRIS: Hold on. No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: You‘re flacking.
HARRIS: I‘m serious -- 1.7 million people have already voted. Even if—even if Kendrick Meek—
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re flacking.
HARRIS: Even if Kendrick Meek were to drop out, I‘m not sure how much of a difference it would make.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Can we talk about the numbers?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about the numbers, because I think the mathematics here are reasonable.
MATTHEWS: If your candidate doesn‘t have 50 percent, and the other candidates are splitting 50 percent, common sense says, if they get together, they can win.
MCMAHON: Common sense says exactly—Todd—
HARRIS: It‘s not that easy, guys. I‘m living down here.
MCMAHON: Todd, let me take this one for a second.
MATTHEWS: Looking at the math here—look at the numbers. They add up.
MCMAHON: Todd, let me take this one for a second.
Kendrick Meek is generally polling around 20 percent.
MATTHEWS: We‘re looking at that.
MCMAHON: And Todd‘s candidate, Marco Rubio, is generally polling around 45 percent.
If you take Kendrick Meek‘s vote and you add it to Charlie Crist, that‘s best way to stop a Tea Party Republican from becoming a senator in Florida. President Clinton understands that. Kendrick Meek understands that. And that‘s the conversation that was occurring.
It was a perfectly natural conversation to occur. And, probably, at this point, when you‘re sitting at 20 and your opponent, the Tea Party candidate, is at 45, the best thing for your party and for your country might be to consider getting out.
I‘m not suggesting he should, but just the talk of him getting out is probably going to take him from 20 to 15 and maybe further down. So, I think that Charlie Crist is going to be gaining votes regardless, just by virtue of this conversation occurring.
MATTHEWS: But won‘t you be cheering for Darrell Issa next year when he‘s heading the reform committee, Todd, and he‘s having investigations of these conversations? Then you‘ll turn 180 and say, this has to be looked into. It‘s a serious matter that they had these conversations.
HARRIS: Look, I think this whole thing is so backwards. The whole thing from start to finish is so absurd. And I‘m willing—I‘m going to go out on a limb right now on HARDBALL and predict that Charlie Crist is going to come in third in this race. I honestly believe that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Good work. And let‘s go to—good work. I mean,
let‘s go to Charlie Melancon‘s closing ad. Now, this is the race to set up
you‘ve got Vitter down there. David Vitter, who is the guy that got caught with a prostitute or several of them in Washington, D.C., where he‘s working, and he caught with them in Louisiana, down where he represents that state, both with prostitutes, both ends.
We all thought he was dead. He was a dead fish. Here he is closing pretty well. His opponent, Charlie Melancon, is—I can‘t pronounce the French, he will do that for you in the proper Cajun accent.
Here‘s Charlie Melancon trying to nail this guy as he goes through the door. He‘s behind. He‘s trying to kill him. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Our tax dollars pay David Vitter‘s salary and he used it for prostitutes.
You‘re welcome, Senator.
Our money paid for Vitter‘s serious sin. Phone calls to prostitutes during official votes and tax dollars to help defend an aide who violently abused his girlfriend. In return, we got a disgraced senator ranked among the least effective in Congress.
The real sin is that David Vitter‘s still a senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, isn‘t that a sin by Louisiana?
MCMAHON: Boy, I‘ll tell you what? That is very, very—
MATTHEWS: He is Ahead. It‘s a good ad, and it‘s all true, I guess.
MCMAHON: It‘s all true.
MATTHEWS: But what do you make of the ad, the fact that Vitter needs an ad like that to put him away? The public down there already knows all that?
MCMAHON: This is already reflected in the value of the stock, as they say. So, I don‘t think anyone‘s going to be surprised by the information contained in this ad. Sometimes, when you do a closing argument, though, you have to pull all the pieces together. And I think this ad does that pretty nicely. It‘s not just about the way he treated the taxpayer‘s money. It‘s not just about his prostitutes—
MATTHEWS: I‘ve got to go to Todd to this. They‘re saying he used tax
he used his salary.
MCMAHON: Well, he did. He used a cell phone, government-issued cell phone.
MATTHEWS: But they say he‘d used the cell phone—what is he supposed to use? I mean, I‘m not depending anything the guy did, it‘s all a problem for him. But the thing is, they said used taxpayers money, meaning that was the most clever thing. It says, “Our tax dollars paid David Vitter‘s salary and he used it for prostitutes.” I mean, that‘s an amazing job. Go ahead, your thoughts.
HARRIS: I give him credit for being creative, but the ad is not going make a dime‘s worth of difference. As Steve said, the public—the public is already aware of this. This looks like pretty desperate to me. I don‘t think it‘s going to make any difference at all.
MATTHEWS: Would you vote for David Vitter?
HARRIS: No, I don‘t live in Louisiana.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you chicken.
MCMAHON: That means no.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
MATTHEWS: You‘re not plugging for him tonight.
Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon. Thank you, Todd Harris. I can tell when he‘s winning there. He thinks he‘s winning with (INAUDIBLE).
MCMAHON: Yes, he does think—
MATTHEWS: Up next: the president‘s commission investigating that massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has discovered this nugget. Halliburton—remember that company, the old Dick Cheney company—knew that the cement used to get that well sealed up wasn‘t safe before that rig blew up. They had found the guilty partner—the guilty party:
Halliburton. All roads lead to Dick Cheney. More on that in just a moment.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: All politics is local except, of course, when it‘s not. Karl Rove‘s group Crossroads America GPS paid for an ad against North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy. The ad claims the state‘s economy is reeling and Pomeroy is to blame. The trouble is: North Dakota is the rare place where the economy is actually doing well. Unemployment is down to about 4 percent, way below the national average.
And now, Congressman Pomeroy is firing back at Rove‘s ad, calling it phony. And his campaign urged Rove to visit the state and pick up a newspaper to see just how well the state is doing.
I guess he can‘t use the same ad for everybody.
HARDBALL—back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We have new evidence today that months before the deep-water oil rig exploded down in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and causing the worst environmental disaster in the American history, both BP and Halliburton knew there were problems—specifically, Halliburton knew, that the company that provided the cement mixture had conducted tests showing that the cement wasn‘t stable.
Well, the president‘s oil spill commission had an outside lab do tests with a similar cement mixture. And in nine separate tests, the cement was found to be unstable.
Paul Sterbcow is representing oil riggers, the oil rig workers themselves, the shrimpers, the fishermen and the others hurt by the spill.
And Robert Reich, of course, the former labor secretary, currently professor at Berkeley, and author of “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America‘s Future.”
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
Paul, you first. It strikes me that we‘d be getting a lot more information like this that the president‘s oil spill commission had the subpoena power and it‘s been denied them for partisan reasons by Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate. Your word on that.
PAUL STERBCOW, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER: Anytime you conduct an investigation like this, it‘s critical to have subpoena power. I agree with you.
The Marine Board of Investigation and the Coast Guard have been investigating this situation for months. They have subpoena power and they complained repeatedly that they‘re having trouble getting cooperation from the companies in terms of producing documents and getting witnesses to show up.
So, if you don‘t have subpoena power, you‘re essentially running a voluntary investigation, makes it very difficult to question the people you really need to talk to.
MATTHEWS: And what do we know now with this report that‘s all over the papers today? What did you learn? What is the fact here that both sides would have to agree on now about the cement mixture that led to the failure, that cement mixture that led that well to blow up, caused it to blow?
STERBCOW: Well, what we‘ve known all along and what this report confirms for those of us who have been investigating the case is that there were concerns about the cement in terms of its mixture, as you say, its chemical makeup and its volume. They we‘re using a nitrite-type cement which is not used very often in these conditions in terms of temperature and pressure at these depths. Halliburton knew it.
Halliburton shares office space with BP. They‘re almost one and the same when it comes to this, although Halliburton is a subcontractor of BP. They knew going in that were concerns with this, but like with what we saw in a number of instances leading up to the explosion, delays in operations, delays in completing the well, and the consequent overruns in cost resulted in ignoring critical safety decisions and led to what ultimately was the explosion.
MATTHEWS: You know I don‘t want to dramatize the expenses too much, Mr. Secretary, Bob Reich, but it seems to me that the whole theme corporate behaviors this day is cost-cutting. The whole day how you keep up the Dow, how you keep your profit level is not to an imaginative enterprise but through cost-cutting. And here we have a classic example of that.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, absolutely, Chris. And this is not new. Halliburton has a long, long and undistinguished history being kind of a corporate serial if not a criminal—well, at least someone or an institution that cuts costs to the detriment of the public.
I mean, we also know—I mean, Halliburton in Iraq, look at the cost overruns, look at the foreign bribery in Nigeria. Look at the amount that Halliburton has basically charged the U.S. government that were found—those charges were found to be absolutely specious over and over again.
REICH: Halliburton—ever since Dick Cheney got there in 1995, became a prime military contractor—and, again, the evidence shows repeatedly that Halliburton put public—the public interest behind private profits.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about these two—the dichotomy here. When they‘re working for the U.S. government in Iraq, for example, are they operating on a cost-plus basis where they could simply pass on all the cost, and therefore they‘ll gin them up, they‘ll pack them with costs? Whereas when they‘re drilling an oil well down off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, they‘re trying to make a buck themselves. There they do chance (ph).
You‘re thought on that, first of all, Paul.
MATTHEWS: Well, chance (ph) when they‘re getting the profits, they‘ll pad when they‘re charging the government.
STERBCOW: Well, they clearly are concerned about the bottom line from day one. BP and Halliburton have a long history of drilling wells together in the Gulf of Mexico. They‘ve been doing this for a number of years. This Macondo well was just the most recent example.
It‘s all about how quickly can we get it done and how cheaply can we get it done. And if Halliburton makes money, Transocean makes money, BP makes money, it‘s all intertwined and it becomes the bottom line over the legitimate concern which is: are we going to put people‘s safety at risk and are we going to risk the environment?
At the end of the day, all of these companies did that. They put the bottom line ahead of safety and the result was this oil blow out and these 11 deaths and these injuries.
MATTHEWS: You know and the Chinese—
MATTHEWS: And the People Republic, I just want to get to the question here with an expert and then go back to you on the general question of economics here.
Paul, it seems to me in China, if somebody makes a call like this, they‘ll get their head chopped off. It may take a year to have the trial, but they‘re going to do it. They‘re very extreme in their punishments.
Are we going to find out by the end of all of this, maybe in a couple of weeks, who made the decision, under what economic pressure from up above that that call was made?
STERBCOW: We will find out through this civil litigation. Judge Barbier has set the trial of this case for February of 2012. And we will learn through our investigation and if necessary through putting witnesses on a witness stand in federal court exactly who made what decisions, when they were made, why they were made—
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘ve got to go.
STERBCOW: And how—and how it all led up to the disaster.
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry, Bob, we have to go.
Robert Reich, thank you out of Berkeley—thanks for joining us.
And when we return, let me finish with some thoughts about the violent impulses we‘re seeing among the Tea Party crowd. It‘s scary stuff.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this whiff of street thuggery in this Tea Party.
I don‘t know about you, but I‘ve learned to pay attention to when political movements begin to act out their extremist‘s streaks. You tell me the last time a mainstream American candidate hired strong arm types, paramilitary types, to fight him with street security.
That guy up in Alaska has the guys you see here working for him. Do you find something historically familiar in this recruitment of street muscle to comprise your cadre? I do. These guys look a little too martial for our American brand of politics. And what are they doing arresting a reporter out to ask their leader a question?
And what do we make of this stomping scene Kentucky? I‘ve been out to a lot of political events where all kinds of people showed up. I‘ve also seen street scenes where thugs show up and take advantage of any disorder. They use chaos as their opportunity to hurt someone.
Take a good look at this guy jamming his foot on that woman‘s neck, that young woman‘s neck. That‘s not behavior of someone who believes in live and let live. That‘s the instinct of someone bent on rigid ideological enforcement, political street thuggery and its most graphic.
You think I‘m saying things? Check out this Tea Partier in New York state who taunted another reporter, not me, who had dared to ask him a question. He didn‘t like it. “I‘ll take you out,” there he is, “I‘ll take you out.”
What‘s your reaction to that? What do you think going on in that scene?
Where are we getting these candidates? Could it be that the Tea Partiers are nominating folks of the fringe that have been pushed aside over the years but are now getting near actual public office?
Catch this guy up in Ohio who spends his weekend strutting in a Nazi uniform. If that turns you off, it hasn‘t pushed away Republican Leader John Boehner who‘s out there saluting the guy. I wonder if he knows the right salute.
And then there are the real right-wingers like Sharron Angle who talks to people using their right to carry a gun against politicians who don‘t vote the right way—“Second Amendment remedy” she calls them. The right people have to take up arms against a government they don‘t like.
Well, there‘s a whiff of something here, of something I dare not speak its name—something redolent of an earlier era and of a distant far-right politics we‘d like think is gone but not forgotten.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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