Guests: Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, Arianna Huffington, Steve Kornacki, Roger Simon,
Richard Wolffe, Pat Buchanan, David Cronyn
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Palin‘s pet project—kaput.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews and happy Halloween.
Leading out of tonight: badly baked Alaska—what a turn of events in Alaska. Sarah Palin‘s home state pet, Joe Miller, is now in free fall, and his collapse could hand the state over to the Democrat in that Senate race. ABC News reported this morning that the Republican leadership in Washington has essentially given up on Miller and figures its best chance now is to throw in with Lisa Murkowski, who was bounced in the primary.
Add Sarah Palin calling the press, quote, “corrupt bastards” and you have our top story tonight.
Plus, more than 200,000 people showed up for Comedy Central‘s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington yesterday. The question now is whether this weekend of fun will turn out the youth vote.
And how‘s this for a closing ad? “My opponent is pathological.” That‘s what Harry Reid calls Sharron Angle in his latest ad. We‘ll take a look at Harry‘s Sunday punch and whether it‘s landed hard enough.
Also, what do we make of the Tea Party now? It‘s undeniable it has generated energy and enthusiasm for the Grand Old Party, but as we‘re seeing in Alaska, Tea Partiers are hurting Republicans where they should be winning easily, like in Alaska.
Let me finish tonight with something good I saw in Washington this weekend, that I haven‘t seen in years.
All that‘s ahead.
First, the latest polls—with two weeks to go, actually, two days to go, let‘s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
We‘ll start with the hot Senate race in Pennsylvania, getting hotter. The Muhlenberg College tracking poll now has Pat Toomey just two points ahead of Joe Sestak. That is in the margin of error, fans.
In the state of Washington, Senator Patty Murray is leading Republican Dino Rossi, 49 to 45, in the new University of Washington poll. She‘s doing well.
In Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson, the self-financer, has a seven-point lead now. He‘s holding his big lead over Senator Russ Feingold in the new Marist/McClatchy poll, 52-45. That looks very good for him.
In that tight race in Colorado, a lot of heart in this race, Republican Ken Buck leads appointed Senator Michael Bennet 49 to 45.
In Delaware, the new Monmouth University poll has Democrat Chris Coons with 10 over Christine O‘Donnell, 10 points. He‘s well ahead. Two weeks ago, Coons lead by 19. He‘s still pretty strongly ahead.
“TIME” magazine‘s Mark Halperin in NBC‘s senior political analyst and John Heilemann, who‘s sitting right in front of me covers politics for “New York” magazine.
Gentleman, you are the experts. I want you to look right now at a conversation this morning between Christiane Amanpour and John Cornyn, who is the—who chairs, basically, the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, trying to get as many Republicans elected, possibly taking over the Senate this Tuesday night.
Let‘s watch that interview back and forth. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC NEWS: Our Jon Karl, political correspondent, is saying that you basically, the GOP, is giving up on Joe Miller?
JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, RSCC: That‘s not can -
AMANPOUR: Or thinking that he‘s not going to win.
CORNYN: Well, that‘s not the case. What we have done, we are supporting the nominee of our party, which is Mr. Miller, and—but our concerns—
AMANPOUR: Do you think he can win?
CORNYN: Well, I think that polls are very close now between Senator Murkowski and Joe Miller, and what we want to make sure of is that the Democrat doesn‘t win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s a bit of B.S. there, but you understand why it‘s coming from him. He has to make the best case. And he didn‘t make a very strong one.
Pollster‘s trend line for Alaska, by the way, shows Miller, the official candidate, sinking deeply. There you see him sinking with Murkowski now leading the race as the write-in candidate.
John Heilemann, it‘s tough to win as a write-in, but apparently they have pretty lenient rules up there. If you make the point you want to vote for Murkowski, she has a name that, it‘s phonetic, if people might get it wrong, if it‘s even close, apparently, they‘re going to give it to her.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes. And, look, I‘m not be right about Senator Cornyn. He‘s doing the diplomatic thing. But it‘s pretty clear that the Republicans have decided that Joe Miller is done up there, and when they‘re doing what he—
MATTHEWS: You mean, our candidate in Alaska.
HEILEMANN: Our candidate in Alaska. And Lisa Murkowski has done an incredible job in this context. But, look, it is possible that the combination of the difficulty of the write-in, if they really band—Joe Miller completely cratering, it‘s just possible—not likely—but just possible, that Democrat might sneak through there.
MATTHEWS: But more likely that what will happen?
HEILEMANN: More likely, I think, that Lisa Murkowski will be the next senator from Alaska, or the current senator will be re-elected.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s see what your co-author and brilliant partner in the bestselling book, “Game Change”—is this a game change for Bennet (ph)? Is it possible that the Democrat can win, but is it probable that Murkowski, that perhaps once and future senator will win this race?
MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought for a while she‘s going to win. Three things happened virtually simultaneously. Murkowski ran a good campaign, unlike the way she ran when she lost the nomination to Miller. Two, Miller was hit with a bunch of things, including this ethics slap over being dishonest, about using a government computer and he went down. And the third thing that happened is that Republicans realized that it is not impossible, that they could somehow win their 10 seats in the Continental United States, net 10 seats, to get the majority, and then have this fluke happen in Alaska where they lose to a Democrat.
So, I think it‘s clear, even if Jon Karl‘s not absolutely right about them turning them to help Murkowski, I think they are going to step back, cross their fingers and hope and assume that Murkowski wins as a write-in in a state where that‘s absolutely possible.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here‘s the question, the national implications. Sarah Palin says that she has common sense. That we should trust her sort of horse sense, her basic—all right, I don‘t read a lot, I don‘t know a lot of facts and stuff, but I‘ve got good common sense. She wants to be a common sense conservative and offer that kind of approach to the presidency if she runs.
Is this a good example of her common sense? This guy she‘s known for a long time, didn‘t she know this guy‘s rap sheet? Didn‘t she know what she‘s putting up for the United States Senate in her home state? John?
HEILEMANN: You know, it shows to me that she‘s someone who has less common sense than she does is well attuned to the passions of the Tea Party movement. And so, you see places like—Christine O‘Donnell‘s another good example. Sarah Palin was able to elevate Christine O‘Donnell. That was not, in any way, the strategically or tactically right thing from the Republican standpoint in terms of getting Republicans into the Senate or in the Congress in general who are doing to help their cause—in terms of numerically, their cause.
MATTHEWS: So once again, we‘re seeing her, as we say, Mark, in football, the perfect passer. She‘s got perfect political pitch, but she doesn‘t have a lot of other evidence of leadership or greatness.
HALPERIN: Well, look, she‘s not going to have the best one-loss record on Election Day. A lot of candidates she‘s backed with special oomph are going to lose. But it doesn‘t matter. Her potential as the Republican nominee, her potential as a media celebrity, as a FOX commentator, as an author, that will not be hurt by this at all. People will see her, who already like her, as principled, and she still has a chance to build on whatever she comes out of this Election Day.
MATTHEWS: So, this doesn‘t stink up the works, having this guy, Joe Miller go into free fall after she put her name behind him?
HALPERIN: It does—it does for people who already have a certain negative view about her on TV and in the punditry.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
HALPERIN: But it doesn‘t hurt her with the people who already like her, I don‘t think, at all.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve touched on the issue of the media there. Let‘s talk about this. Have you guys heard this tape before? This tape that went on up there, a CBS affiliate apparently left the phone on after a conversation with her campaign guy. The campaign then picked up, taped it, and they believe, according to Sarah Palin, they‘ve got evidence of media favoritism from a straight news organization, an affiliate of CBS up there.
Here‘s Palin today on FOX News, talking about media favoritism—an interesting place to talk about it—with Chris Wallace. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: You‘re saying that local reporters in Alaska conspired with the Murkowski campaign to put out false information about Joe Miller?
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I am saying—I am saying, and we have it on tape, that CBS reporters in the affiliates up there in Alaska, on tape, are saying, let‘s find a child molester in the crowd as a supporter for Joe Miller. Let‘s blast that. Let‘s concoct a Rand Paul moment there, let‘s find any kind of chaos so that we can tweet and alert, saying, ooh, there is chaos, Joe Miller got punched or by—that‘s sick.
Those are corrupt bastards, Chris. That‘s what‘s wrong with the media today, when they have their chosen one, and nine times out of 10, heck, 10 times out of 10 in the liberal media, it‘s going to be the liberal is the chosen one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Does she have the evidence their guys? Do you guys know whether she‘s got an evidence against an affiliate of CBS playing politics?
HEILEMANN: I don‘t—I haven‘t actually heard the tape, but again, it almost doesn‘t matter, because part of what she‘s doing constantly is finding enemies that she can—
MATTHEWS: Well, it will matter to a lot of people in the country. If you‘ve got evidence of a straight news organization playing a game here to help screw her candidate.
HEILEMANN: But it will not matter to the people who are the most active and energized and in support of her and her cause, because they already see that conspiracy pervasively throughout the American media culture.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts on this, Mark? Has this got legs—this story, from the right?
HALPERIN: The station has denied pit. They‘ve put out a pretty long statement—
MATTHEWS: Well, of course they would. Anybody would.
HALPERIN: Well, not necessarily, they might have been caught if—
MATTHEWS: Oh, people say, you got me, these days? Is that the new way we play? Aha, give me a break!
HALPERIN: If somebody‘s caught on audiotape, I think they might. I just want to go back real quick, I‘d said before Jon Karl‘s reporting may not be all right, I didn‘t mean to suggest it wasn‘t right, I‘m just saying they‘re cutting Murkowski loose, that‘s clear and obvious—not Murkowski, Miller, sorry.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Let‘s take—let‘s take a look at the whole Senate seat and everybody‘s watching this program wants to whether the Senate will go Republican or stay Democrat. If Republicans hold their own seats in this election, it looks like they will, and the Democrats win in two states they‘re doing well in, Connecticut with Dick Blumenthal and Barbara Boxer holding her seat in California, then these are the 10 seats Republicans have to win to take the Senate.
We‘re looking at it right now. Indiana—Hoeven, the governor running for North Dakota senator, Bozeman running in Arkansas, Dan coats in Indiana, Johnson in Wisconsin, Ken Buck in Colorado, Mark Kirk in Illinois, Sharron angle in Nevada, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Dino Rossi in Washington, and John Raese in West Virginia.
Gentleman, are there any of those that you think will be particularly difficult for Republicans to carry? John?
HEILEMANN: I think there‘s quite a lot of them that could end up going Democratic. You could easily Sestak pick up Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: It‘s very close right now.
HEILEMANN: I think Harry Reid could end up holding on in Nevada.
The race in West Virginia, Manchin, could end up beating Raese. I think those are three where I wouldn‘t be at all surprised to see Democrats winning those races.
MATTHEWS: So, you think it‘s probable right now they‘d only get about seven?
HEILEMANN: I‘d say seven or eight, it‘s where—
MATTHEWS: Net pickups.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts about that, Mark?
HALPERIN: You know, Chris, if Republicans pick up net 70 House seats, I‘d say those 10 and maybe you could add in California—
MATTHEWS: I‘m with you.
HALPERIN: -- could still go Republican. So—
MATTHEWS: But that “if” is only two letters long, but it‘s a big word for you. If they get 70 House seats, they would probably, history would show that sweep running across the country, knocking out favorites like Boxer—do you believe they will get 70? I‘m sorry. Do you believe it?
HALPERIN: Well, if you look at the data from governors‘ races and some of the House races where there‘s not always great data, nothing has happened in the last 72 hours that leads you to believe it‘s going to be a better night for Democrats. Some individuals could save themselves, but I think the number is moving higher than 50 rather than below 50.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I‘m with you.
HALPERIN: And I think that‘s going to sweep in some of these Republican Senate candidates, maybe not 10, but I think more like eight or nine than six or seven.
MATTHEWS: Well, having heard that from you, Mark, I‘m more—I‘m more in that direction than I‘m not. I have—I am in the 70 and 10 category right now. I do think we‘re looking at a situation where once the women begin to vote Republican, I don‘t know who‘s left. You‘ve got the men, you‘ve got the women—that doesn‘t leave out too many people that are voting Democrat this time.
HALPERIN: And with—and with the press turnout on these groups that Democrats have worked over for weeks, young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, it‘s still not a lot of intensity there.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think the opportunity for the Democrat is to hold their base on the East Coast and out in the California coast.
Let‘s take a look at here, these are bright spots. Look at Pollsters.com. Look at these races we don‘t talk about. We talk about the Tea Party, but, look, New York state, the Empire State, Andrew Cuomo, nobody would have predicted a wipeout like this, 25 points ahead.
Jerry Brown, coming back from the ‘70s, and here he is back again. He hasn‘t been in office since ‘82 statewide, at least at the governor‘s level. Here he is ahead by eight.
To me, John, those are fantastic examples of the way this country is set up geographically, because of all kinds of history and geography, why it‘s the case, why postal areas tend to be more—and port cities tend to be more liberal, because of immigration and all that. But clearly, they‘re more—they‘re still pretty strong Democratic strongholds.
HEILEMANN: Well, and just remember, when you think back to the 1994 election, the thing that everyone forgets is that one of the things that made the wave feel so total was that Democrats lost the governorships in New York, Florida, and California, the three biggest ones, right? In this election, it looks like the Democrats are going to keep the governorship or going to get the governorships in New York, California, and Florida.
MATTHEWS: And maybe Florida. Florida looks decent.
HEILEMANN: And that will be big—that will be—
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that, Mark, that they can hold—Alex Sink can win down there in Florida right now?
HALPERIN: I can tell you, I can hear Robert Gibbs right now saying, this was not a repudiation of the president and the Democratic Party. We won the governorships of New York, California, Florida, maybe Ohio. Those would be big prizes to take.
MATTHEWS: That would be a good night for them. That would be a surprisingly pushback last-minute showing, because that would be affecting redistricting. It would affect organizational strength. And nobody in this group of three of us now can imagine—let me check me on this—that Barack Obama can be re-elected without those three states, California, Florida, Ohio.
HEILEMANN: At least -
HALPERIN: He‘d need two of the three. He could do it with two of them there.
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t need all three. Which one can he live without?
HALPERIN: Either Ohio or Florida.
MATTHEWS: He can live without Florida?
MATTHEWS: I want to see that math. That means he wins Colorado and a few other states he normally wouldn‘t get. If he can get Florida, he can get Colorado.
Anyway, I think I‘m right.
Let me look at this generic number. We‘ve been watching this the all week. This is about the U.S. House races primarily. Look at this, about a four-point spread, “The Washington Post” poll just came in “Washington Post”/ABC to give credit to all. A four-point advantage for Republicans.
John, you first. Is that strong enough to win that 70-seat plurality?
HEILEMANN: Well, if you combine it with the number on likely voters and the enthusiasm gap, that which is a much bigger number, yes. I mean, up until recently—
MATTHEWS: Does that cut across enough?
HEILEMANN: That number was tighter for the last few months.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it was.
HEILEMANN: And now, it‘s gotten a little bit wider. There were polls before that had them deadlocks even just as recently as a month ago, on the generic ballot.
MATTHEWS: Does that support your theory of a possible real tsunami here of 70 votes in the House and 10 in the Senate? Mark?
HALPERIN: Chris, for some reason, I don‘t know why, but historically, in most of our major polls, the generic ballot has also understated Republican strength. So, if it‘s four points in that poll and it‘s comparable in some of the other national polls out today—again, history—if you look at it in historical context, it does mean Republicans are going to win a lot of seats.
The field has not expanded beyond about 90 or 95 Democratic held seats that Republicans are challenging. But it hasn‘t shrunk. You don‘t hear much talk about any Democrats on that list of 95, any of the Democratic seats, where Democrats say with confidence—well, we‘ve pulled that one back. That one‘s now OK.
MATTHEWS: I think a big challenge for the Democrats right now is that Rust Belt area that goes from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. I think that‘s the hardest area for them to get any wins, with the possible exception of Illinois, very tough.
HEILEMANN: Well, and it‘s astonishing, when you were talking to me about governorships before, red, probably red all the way from Pennsylvania, straight through the Midwest, all the way out to Iowa. Governors all changing hands—
MATTHEWS: It‘s the economy, stupid.
HEILEMANN: A massive Republican belt through there, making it very difficult for Obama in 2012, really tough.
MATTHEWS: Older white men especially have been hit so hard by the economy.
I‘ve got to go, Mark. We‘ll get back to you later.
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, brilliant guys.
Coming up: More than 200,000 people, apparently, showed up on the Washington Mall yesterday—I was one of them—for Comedy Central‘s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, that‘s what they called it. But people came for other reasons. It was one great question.
And the big question for Democrats: how many of those young people, primarily young people, will make it to the other show on Tuesday? That‘s called the election.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”: I think you know that the
success or failure of a rally is judged by only two criteria: The
intellectual coherence of the content and its correlation to the engagement
I‘m just kidding. It‘s color and size. We all know it‘s color and size.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
That was one of the lighter moments from yesterday‘s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rally on the Washington Mall. Overall, the event was big on entertainment, I thought short on political messaging.
Joining me now to discuss the takeaway from that is Steve Kornacki of “Salon” and “Huffington Post,” and “Huffington Post” founder and editor -- I should say, separating you from that—Arianna Huffington, who paid for the bus fare of 10,000 workers.
You‘re the woman driving the bus. I didn‘t know you can do everything here. You are like the traffic manager down in the old PTC in Philly. Get them out there, roll ‘em, guys. It‘s impressive.
Well, here‘s what—did you get your money‘s worth on the bus trips?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: It was amazing. We met 5:00 a.m. at Citi Field and what was incredible is that a lot of the people had come from all around the country. I thought they would all be from New York or neighboring counties. But they‘d come from Hawaii, from Indiana, from Iowa. And one man had actually come from Washington to take the bus to go to Washington.
MATTHEWS: From New York?
HUFFINGTON: No, they—
MATTHEWS: They all went to New York so they could take the bus.
MATTHEWS: Are you in competition with Vamoose and the Chinatown bus now? Yes, they‘re all these great buses that come from Washington and New York.
HUFFINGTON: What was so interesting about that was that people who wanted to extend the journey, that that rally meant something to people in terms of coming together.
MATTHEWS: It was a pilgrimage.
HUFFINGTON: It was a pilgrimage.
HUFFINGTON: But they didn‘t just want to be there.
HUFFINTON: They wanted to take the journey together.
MATTHEWS: I‘m with you. I‘m with her. I‘m with Arianna. I thought that was like I—the last one of these things I went to was the march on the Pentagon with Norman Mailer back in ‘67, so I have a memory track and that was great too. But that has an angry message, not angry but is a real protest.
I‘m not sure, Steve, this was a protest. I thought it was a fair—it was a rock concert. It was a day to get out with other people and enjoy the weather and have a positive sort of feel for the big national community. I thought it was a positive thing.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, and I—first, I want to say thanks, because we actually are cash strapped at Salon.com, so we sent a reporter down on “The Huffington Post” bus actually to cover this thing.
MATTHEWS: I can‘t wait to see how your accountants handle this.
KORNACKI: So—but no, I tend to agree with you. I took to the extent there was messaging that came out of, I took it much more about media criticism than about, you know, sort of political activism—
MATTHEWS: I was there for a couple of hours. I may have missed the big sermon at the end.
KORNACKI: That‘s—to the extent there was any, that‘s what—
MATTHEWS: But most was fun with John Legend and Tony Bennett, and Cat Stevens—
KORNACKI: And a lot of it was a concert. The only—the only explicit mention that I heard the entire day of the election and of the idea of getting out to vote came from Tony Bennett, you know? So, the 84-year-old guy is the only trying to get the young people out.
MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you, my kid—my son, Thomas, the actor, loves Tony Bennett. I mean, that is a great story right there.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me—Stewart and those guys come out. I saw a lot of people my age, 60s people, from the ‘60s, as well as people in their 60s, who came out with an attitude, I‘m going relive something I went through when I was in my 20s. Then I saw a lot more people in their 20s, some people knew who I was, a lot more didn‘t. So, it‘s a whole sort of cultural group of people, Comedy Central people.
I got a feeling a lot of those people were just sort of enjoying the Comedy Central day.
KORNACKI: I took them—quickly, I took them to be, my guess is, primarily people who voted for Obama in 2008. But people who voted for Obama in 2008, but don‘t watch cable news.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t watch our kind of news, MSNBC.
KORNACKI: Yes, they don‘t watch MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: They watch fun stuff. Yes.
KORNACKI: You know, and so to them, the message, to the extent there was media criticism at the end, I think it resonates with them, because they don‘t delineate between the shouting that may come from one side versus the shouting that may come from the other side. To them it‘s just shouting and it‘s something that‘s been—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s be honest. It‘s a lot easier to listen to the candy on Comedy Central than perhaps a serious argument on MSNBC.
KORNACKI: Or to listen to Comedy Central—
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s a lot hard to watch, to read a newspaper than to watch television.
HUFFINGTON: The kind of stuff that Jon Stewart and Colbert do is not candy. I mean, it‘s speaking truth to power. For me, it‘s really the best of satire. That goes back to Jonathan Swift—
MATTHEWS: This is a business write-off for you, isn‘t it? I agree.
HUFFINGTON: What they said—listen—
MATTHEWS: What are they proposing? What are they proposing?
HUFFINGTON: I have the speech.
MATTHEWS: All right, I want an honest answer. I‘m going to get critical now. They went down, they spent a lot of money putting this thing together. It was a business write-off, because it‘s considered business. I‘m sure every spent—nickel spent on this rally is considered business write-off by Comedy Central.
HUFFINGTON: Of course. So what?
MATTHEWS: OK. So, it‘s not politics. So, it‘s business.
HUFFINGTON: Of course, it‘s not politics. It‘s never supposed to be politics.
MATTHES: OK. So, what is the positive aspect of this for the American political process?
HUFFINGTON: The positive aspect is to say, listen, we‘ve gone through hard times, as Jon said at the end, we‘re going through dark times, he said, if we‘re going to be able to come through to the light, and he actually said the light may be the “Promised Land” or it may be New Jersey, we need to do it together. We need to come together. And that is really the message.
You can disagree with each other—
MATTHEWS: And how does that work?
Well, here it is, let‘s take a look. Here‘s Jon Stewart taking a whack at his main target, the media. Let‘s listen to Jon Stewart himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: We live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: But, unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country‘s 24-hour-politico-pundit-perpetual-panic-conflictinator did not cause our problems. But its existence makes solving them that much harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Explain that to me, Steve.
KORNACKI: That‘s the part that I sort of, you know, have a problem with. Because—
MATTHEWS: Yes. I don‘t quite get his proposal.
KORNACKI: No. And I think it‘s something that—it‘s sort of the fantasy of something that never really has existed in this country.
HUFFINGTON: But, you know what, honestly, guys—you need to listen to what he said. He said, we in the media have a magnifying glass. We can choose to put it on all the things that divide us. We can choose to put it on exaggerating—
MATTHEWS: I understand all that.
MATTHEWS: I know the sermon. What‘s the alternative? What‘s the alternative?
HUFFINGTON: The alternative is to take the magnifying glass and put it on all the things that are working in this country.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK. Is that what you do at “Huffington Post,” today, write stories on how there was no accidents on the highways last night and everyone got a good night‘s sleep. I mean—
HUFFINGTON: Listen, you can make fun of me—
MATTHEWS: I am, because I‘m wondering what you‘re proposing?
HUFFINGTON: That‘s not what you are saying, because if you will stop and listen, I‘ll ill tell you what we are proposing.
MATTHEWS: I‘m listening.
HUFFINGTON: And I‘ll tell you what we are doing. Every day, we have, for example, the greatest person of the day, somebody who was doing something in their community. We‘ll have an interactive map with stars, for people in their communities doing things.
MATTHEWS: It sounds good. Is that what they do on Comedy Central every night?
HUFFINGTON: What they‘re doing on Comedy Central is actually pointing out the things that—they‘re exaggerating the divisions and actually said, if you‘re going to call somebody a Marxist or a terrorist, make sure they are a Marxist or a terrorist.
MATTHEWS: Agree. But that is like playing checkers here. We all know that.
HUFFINGTON: But we don‘t all do that. Knowing doesn‘t mean anything. People do that.
KORNACKI: To me, politics—and I love politics. It‘s always been a reflection of human nature. And human nature is emotional, it‘s irrational. Sometimes it involves name-calling. You can go back—the idea of this shouting and the name-calling that is this modern phenomenon, I mean, go back and look at—
HUFFINGTON: No one has said it‘s a modern phenomenon. But the point is that if we allow it to continue unchecked, we end up with what happened in the—
KORNACKI: But it‘s been with us since the founding of the country. The Founding Fathers were some of the most ugly, bitter, vindictive politicians we‘ve ever seen.
HUFFINGTON: But also, Jefferson effectively said what Stewart said yesterday, that may be the immune system of our democracy.
MATTHEWS: I have to tell you, I really liked the rally yesterday.
I‘m going to talk about my commentary. I had a great feeling about it.
Stewart did a fabulous job. I thought Colbert did a fabulous job.
The idea that somebody is going to come on and say, I‘m better than everybody else, that‘s the hard part.
HUFFINGTON: Nobody said that.
MATTHEWS: You are.
HUFFINGTON: No, not all. Nobody said that. What we are saying is we have a responsibility to—
MATTHEWS: I know. I know how to listen—
HUFFINGTON: That doesn‘t mean we are better than that.
MATTHEWS: OK. I just think—
HUFFINGTON: I mean, you can be as cynical as you want, but the point is that they were simply focusing on all that‘s dividing us, we end up with what happened in the ‘30s, when were actually deporting American citizens of Hispanic descent.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me tell you this. That there are a lot of problems left to be solved. Let‘s solve them. But I don‘t think agreeing not to argue is the solution.
HUFFINGTON: Nobody said that.
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re not getting anywhere, Arianna.
HUFFINGTON: But nobody said not to argue. We said not to demonize.
Just because we—
MATTHEWS: Who do we demonize here? Who do I demonize?
HUFFINGTON: Not you, I‘m saying that—just demonizing people, calling them Marxists or communists.
MATTHEWS: Who does this? Name names.
HUFFINGTON: Look at what happens when you have people saying Obama wasn‘t born in this country.
MATTHEWS: Right, we go after them every day. And those people, I think going after birthers is a good thing to do.
HUFFINGTON: Going after people who think we shouldn‘t build the mosque here because all—
MATTHEWS: I‘m for the mosque.
HUFFINGTON: So, that‘s what I‘m saying.
MATTHEWS: I‘m for the mosque, I‘m against the birthers, against the truthers.
HUFFINGTON: Yes, I‘m not talking about you, Chris. I‘m talking about the message in general in relation to what the media‘s role is and what we are—
MATTHEWS: I think Jon Stewart does a very good job of trashing those people and he should.
Anyway, thank you, Arianna—but it‘s very tough. I don‘t think Jon Stewart is kind to the people he criticizes. Do you?
HUFFINGTON: Well, what I think is that he‘s speaking truth to power in satirical a powerful way. And that‘s effective. As long as he sticks to the facts.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Arianna Huffington.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Steve Kornacki.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be right back after this. You‘re watching HARDBALL, obviously, on MSNBC.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Look at this new poll number from Kentucky, where Rand Paul, one of the first Tea Party candidates, has widened his lead over democrat Jack Conway. Polls up 15 in a PPP new poll, that‘s a democratic robo poll, which some pollsters say isn‘t quite accurate, but look at that range. Fifteen points is a lot to deal with.
And still ahead, we‘ve got the final batch of campaign ads. Some of them are pretty tough. One in which Harry Reid calls Sharron Angle pathological. That‘s next. You‘re watching “HARDBALL” only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: So Cleveland, I need you to keep on fighting. I need you to keep on believing. I need you to knock on some doors. I need you to talk to your neighbors. I need you to talk to your friends. I need you to go early vote. I need you to get your friends to vote. Because if you are willing to step up to the plate, Ted will win this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “HARDBALL.” That‘s President Obama today making the closing pitch for democratic Governor Ted Strickland, who‘s in an extremely tight race with republican John Kasich in the crucial swing state of Ohio. And also, we‘ve seen the closing pitches continue today in political ads.
They‘re getting rough. We‘ll break them down with chief political columnist of Politico, Roger Simon, and MSNBC‘s political analyst, Richard Wolffe. Gentleman, Roger, take a look at this one. This is Harry Reid‘s Sunday punch, I think the one he hopes will knock out Sharron Angle. Let‘s watch and listen and give me your views, Roger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sharon, will you answer some questions really quickly?
NARRATOR: She ran from reporters, and now she‘s running from the truth. Lying about Harry Reid in ads called misleading and false. Angle is so dishonest the press calls her pathological.
JOHN RALSTON: Angle frequently twisted the truth, which she‘s done in entire campaign.
NARRATOR: Harry Reid worked his way up, never forgot who he‘s fighting for, creating thousands of jobs in clean energy, tourism, mining. Harry Reid, fighting for us. Sharron Angle, pathological.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hah! There you have the press being asked—I mean, John Ralston has a point of view, obviously, but pathological as a diagnosis of a human being? Is this where we‘re at in politics, my opponent is not psychologically stable to be trusted?
ROGER SIMON, COLUMNIST, POLITICO.COM: Right. What Ralston actually said was that she was seemingly pathological. We in print tend to use weasel words like that.
SIMON: But Harry Reid took the weasel part out and just used “pathological” which is, as you say, a person who is mentally disturbed, and that is the takeaway word from that ad.
It‘s unmistakable that he is calling his opponent, you know, crazy, and certainly too crazy for the Senate, if there is such a thing.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s get down—Richard, one apiece here. Let‘s go to the Florida governor‘s race between republican Alex Sink and democrat Rick Scott could not be closer. Their closing ads to reflect that. Let‘s listen to part of each.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICH COCHRAN, FLORIDA DETECTIVE: Take it from Florida‘s police and law enforcement.
ROBERT CROWEDER, MARIN COUNTY SHERIFF: Rick Scott just can‘t be trusted with Floridians‘ money.
MELANEE HOLDER, FLORIDA DETECTIVE: Scott‘s company was guilty of the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history.
COCHRAN: Fined $1.7 billion for ripping off seniors and taxpayers.
NICK MAROLDA, FLORIDA DETECTIVE: A whistle-blower in the company warned about the systemic Medicare fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORRESPONDENT: Alex Sink is now accused of cheating in the face-off with republican Rick Scott. Showing a text message from one of her campaign advisers, which is a clear violation of debate rules.
ALEX SINK: I couldn‘t tell, really, what it was.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What about cheating when the cameras are on. I mean, honestly.
SINK: And if someone lies or cheats, I hold them accountable.
NARRATOR: And so should we.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: They dragged in Gloria Borger there from CNN, Richard. Your thoughts about that? One guy is a fraud, and god, he was a rip-off artist, can‘t be trusted. The other one is a televised cheat. Your thoughts?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: A criminal or a cheat? A great choice, isn‘t it? Like this whole election. But I‘ve got to tell you, as an ad, that first ad, the anti-Scott ad was incredibly powerful.
You‘ve got police officers out there saying this guy is unacceptable compared to the inside game of politics and debate rules. They don‘t match up. One ad‘s incredibly strong and powerful. That‘s a big hit.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Alaska right now. Let‘s take a look at this one. Obviously, that race is a three-way race now. Let‘s take a look at this one. This one is with republican Joe Miller‘s numbers tanking, the democratic committee is pushing their candidate, Scott McAdams, by hitting write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski. So they‘re going after the middle to try to get the left to win up there. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Maybe it was the fancy cocktail parties or all those pretty monuments. Whatever the reason, Lisa Murkowski has gone Washington. She voted for deficit-exploding budgets that wrecked our economy, a plan to privatize social security. And when she voted to bail out Wall Street banks that gave billions in bonuses to their CEOs, well, she turned her back on us once and for all.
Lisa Murkowski, she‘s changed, we haven‘t. The democratic Senatorial campaign committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, clearly, Roger, they‘re trying to pick up the pieces up there. It looks like Joe Miller is tanking, as everybody‘s saying, because of all the problems with his rap sheet. And now they‘re fighting over the bones up there. They‘re trying to trash her. They‘re making her sound like a democrat kind of, aren‘t they? Except for some of these things. Big spender.
SIMON: I think they‘re making her sound like an alcoholic, in all ads, pictures are more powerful than the words. Words count, but the pictures are powerful. And that ad starts with two people with glasses of white wine. I expected to see a giant piece of brie to come in and take over the set. And she apparently likes the Lincoln Memorial, which is apparently --.
MATTHEWS: What is that? That‘s almost sacrilegious, saying someone‘s been taken in by the pretty monuments. I mean, we‘re all proud of those monuments. How do you get taken in by a monument like the Lincoln Memorial? What are they talking about? You‘re saying the pictures, what do they mean?
SIMON: We think these people who make ads are geniuses because they always tell us they are, but that‘s a lousy ad. I mean, I like the Lincoln Memorial, what does that say about me? I mean most people like the Lincoln Memorial.
A national secular shrine. Let‘s go right now to California and Barbara Boxer‘s closing ad, which is interesting, because everyone else, a lot of people around the edges of the heartland, in the heartland especially, are all running away from the president, here‘s someone out on what we call the left coast, occasionally, embracing the president. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And I am optimistic because I know there are people like you out there and I know there are people like Barbara Boxer in the Senate whose fighting to change this country for the better. You have in Barbara Boxer a subcompact Senator, passionate about fighting for jobs, clean energy reform, and green jobs that can‘t be outsourced.
And that‘s why I expect you to make sure that you return Barbara Boxer to the United States Senate! Thank you very much, California!
BARBARA BOXER: I‘m Barbara Boxer and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, two years, Richard Wolffe, when you wrote your book, people would have paid billions of dollars for that ad to endorse them. And yet here‘s Barbara Boxer in sort of the off year when things aren‘t so swell for the president, embracing him like he‘s still the gold standard.
WOLFFE: Right. And it tells you something fascinating about the politics, because obviously we‘re seeing big trends away from the president, but in California, in big parts on the west coast, pollsters are not picking up the same trends of independent voters moving towards identifying themselves as conservatives.
So if you don‘t have that shift in the electorate on the west coast, you can run this kind of ad. It‘s fascinating. It shows there are glimmers of hope for people in the White House, but it probably also suggests that Obama is still more popular than Barbara Boxer in California.
MATTHEWS: Hah! You would put that edge on it. My god, she‘s nice to Obama so it just shows she‘s not as nice as Obama.
WOLFFE: Right, well, you know, where was she in the ad, right at the end. If she was more popular, maybe she would have been more on screen.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a pro. I know what you‘re saying. It‘s really amazing. These ads—I hate to think, guys, that people are really moved by these ads, because why do they wait until the last weekend to tell us what they knew a year or two ago, except they want to hit us emotionally. Your last thought, Roger?
SIMON: My thoughts about that last ad is there are going to be a number of democrats on Wednesday morning who are going to regret not having President Obama to make an ad for him. He‘s never been better than these last few weeks. It‘s like 2008 again.
The speeches are right on, his energy level is up. You know, he‘s energizing his base. And I think there‘s going to be some close race where is democrats who shunned President Obama are going to regret it.
MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much, Roger Simon and Richard Wolffe. Great having you on. I want to pay tribute tonight to Ted Sorenson who died today. I got the word earlier today. Sorenson and his historic partnership with John F. Kennedy played a major role in Kennedy‘s rise to the presidency and the iconic role President Kennedy played in the American life, beginning in the 1950s and surviving all these years sense.
It was Sorenson who did so much to craft the words that are now engraved in granite. I always have and always will look up to this man. What a great man. I always wanted to be Ted Sorenson. There he is at 82.
We lost him today.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. The Tea Party has no doubt breathed life into the Republican Party in the wake of the 2008 defeat, but they‘re also losing some big Senate races that should have been easy republican wins. So is the Tea Party helping or hurting the Republican Party.
Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst and David Cornyn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones Magazine and a contributor for politicsdaily.com.
Pat, your view generally of the overall impact. If we have a 70-vote loss in the House of Representatives, a 10-seat loss by the Senate in the democratic party, if this is a real blowout, was the Tea Party helpful—well, they must have been helpful because they would have had it otherwise. Your thoughts? I‘m already stating the case for the Tea Party. Your thoughts?
DAVID CORNYN, BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Next question.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST: Chris, we were dead. We were in intensive care after the Obama election. People were talking about a generation of democratic control and the Tea Party rose up in that spring, and they‘ve been enormously powerful, influential, energetic.
They give the real fire and energy to the party. They‘ve also brought in names, I think, who are future leaders, like Toomey in Pennsylvania, I think Rubio in Florida. You take Nikki Haley, very attractive. Rand Paul, libertarian, up 15 points. Have there been candidates they‘ve pushed who look like, a second look, are probably not as strong as they could have been? Yeah.
MATTHEWS: Your thought overall, a net impact, positive, or negative for this, what could be a tsunami Tuesday night, David?
BUCHANAN: Enormous—I‘m sorry. Go ahead.
CORNYN: Thanks, Pat. I think Pat‘s right. The republicans were dead and it‘s clearly that not John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell were going to bring them back from the grave. It‘s was outside force. You know, you call it the Tea Part. It‘s just the right wing of the republican party that got so energized, and we can talk about why, by Obama‘s election and by what happened afterwards that they put some juice back into the Republican Party.
And by and large, I think it‘s worked a lot better in the House races than in the Senate races. In the Senate races, the Tea Party candidates are kind of splitting. You know, you have Rand Paul and Sharron Angle maybe winning their races, or you have Joe Miller and Christine O‘Donnell, looks like they‘re not going to win. Carly Fiorina in California hooked up with the Tea Party, and it didn‘t help her at all. Yet, Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio made good use of it.
But there are a lot of republicans who probably are going to win in the Senate on Tuesday night who are not there because of the Tea Party. Whether it‘s, you know, Mark Kirk.
MATTHEWS: Can you name an example of a state where the republicans would have won with a normal, regular, middle of the road republican, that they‘re now going to lose because it‘s a Tea Party nominee. Can you name one case?
MATTHEWS: Okay. Name two.
MATTHEWS: Name three. Okay, so we got two cases out of ex many states where there‘s a—so we got Alaska—No, I‘m dead serious the way I do it. If Nevada is too loud and they have been the nominee in Nevada, she would have walked away with it.
BUCHANAN: Chris, you really don‘t—Yeah, I think you may be right. Chris, you really don‘t know. Look at your party. I mean you ran vice presidential candidate John Edwards in 2004. Who knew in 2008 he was in the final three, who knew he would blow up, who knew about his character? Chris, that could happen to moderates, what is happening up in Alaska could happen to a moderate, a conservative, or—
MATTHEWS: Well I think that‘s certain Phil knew it. But I don‘t know who else knew it.
CORNYN: He was clearly an extreme candidate, Joe Miller, up in Alaska, he was one of these guys who they nominated though he had very little experience and there wasn‘t a lot of backup, you know—
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s see where this is headed. Let‘s take a look. Chris Wallace this morning asked Governor Palin, he said to her basically, accusingly in a sense, and charmingly so, of course, she‘s having too much fun and having too much money—making too much money to run for president. Here‘s her response. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN: Those standards have to be high for someone who would ever want to run for president, wasn‘t Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn‘t he in “Bedtime for Bonzel, Bozo..” Ronald Reagan was an actor. Now look, I‘m not in a reality show. I have eight episodes documenting Alaska‘s resources, what it is that we can contribute to the rest of the U.S. to economically and physically secure our union, and my family comes along on the ride because I am family. Family is us. And my family comes along on the ride to document these eight episodes for The Learning Channel and Discovery Channel. So Karl, he‘s wrong right there in calling it a reality show.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX CORRESPONDENT: I think you‘re having too much fun. I think you‘re making too much money. You‘re still a big player in national politics. You don‘t have 100 people like me chasing you around saying, what does she read in the morning? I don‘t think you‘re going to run.
PALIN: You know, the country is worth it, though, to make those sacrifices, when we talk about making money today, having a lot of fun today, having all of this freedom. If the country needed me, and I‘m not saying that the country does, and that the country would ever necessarily want to choose me over anyone else, but I would be willing to make the sacrifices if need be for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you read that? Is she acting there or is that really sincere talk there?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, when she talked about we‘re going to do it for America, I think she hasn‘t made up her mind, Chris. I really think she hasn‘t made up her mind, but what she‘s got to realize is she does not run the rest of her life she will be telling herself, you know, we had a real clean shot at it. No guarantee we would have won, but we had a clean shot at winning that nomination, and I could have been president of the United States and I didn‘t take that shot. That will weight very heavily on her if she doesn‘t do it.
MATTHEWS: Are you being autobiographical right now, Pat? Because you took a couple of shots and you almost made it one year. Do you think she has a better chance now than in the future when you had?
BUCHANAN: I think she has a far better chance winning the nomination. We have to see how she does in the Iowa caucuses, Chris. She could flame out or she could come rolling through in that South Carolina scenario and take it. I think I was probably in better shape the week after New Hampshire than she was right now.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Pat.
BUCHANAN: And that was only for one week.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Pat, and thank you, David Cornyn. When we return, let me finish with some thoughts on Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert‘s big rally in the mall yesterday and take a look at today‘s New York Times Crossword Puzzle, by the way. Home of ‘HARDBALL‘ is the question right there at the time, horizontal, five letters, you‘ve got it. MSNBC. Love being at the top of the puzzle.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that fabulous rally at the Washington Mall this weekend. I loved it. I hadn‘t been at anything like it in years. Everyone there—and there were a lot of people there—was having the time of their life.
I think the key to the event‘s success was that the organizers, Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert know their people. They know they came for fun, to be at this hint of Woodstock, this blur of memory from the ‘60s. It was the kind of event you want to be able say, I was there and, yeah, it was great.
I think Stewart up there on the stage in front of the Capitol got it right from the start. He said, these are tough times but not the end times. This apocalyptic stuff from Glenn Beck, the stuff they‘re selling out there on the right is really the same old fire and brimstone brought back this time for commercial and political exploitation.
My big question, and I don‘t know the answer, is why there was such a big difference in the mood between these two rallies. Beck‘s was somber and righteous, and proudly defined and crusty. This Saturday the feeling was, isn‘t it great? Isn‘t it surprising how being here is all this—it‘s simply fun. Isn‘t it a trip that it‘s just fun? Maybe it‘s all about age.
The Beck crowd was old, hanging on, mildly-to-heavily churchy. The Stewart-Colbert people were happy, enjoying the moment, young or remembering when they were young. This isn‘t a protest. It was more like, as I said, a rock concert. It was like a big feeling of us.
I‘m convinced that much of our lives today is about finding good company. It‘s people needing other people, like in the Streisand song. Maybe it‘s watching a show like this regularly. Maybe it‘s investing enough to go out and show up at a rally with other people who share some real sentiment with you, some common desire.
For the Beck crowd, that sentiment is for the past, fear of what they see happening to this country, or wanting to go back to something that was once felt but has now left. For the Stewart-Colbert crowd, the crowd I was with yesterday on the Washington Mall, it‘s an embrace of the America that is.
The real country all around us today, the noise, the crowd, the differences, and yes, the sometimes absurdity of it all. I had nothing to do with it yesterday but to show up with the other 200,000 people out there, but I say it was great. Stewart and Colbert, and Cat Stevens, and John Legend, and Tony Bennett, and Sam Waterston, and Father Guido Sarducci were all great.
That‘s “HARDBALL” for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to “THE ED SHOW.” coming to you live from the heart of Tea Party ruling Michelle Bachman‘s backyard in Minnesota. These stories are hitting my hot buttons at this hour.
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