'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Howard Fineman, David Corn, Julia Boorstin, John Marshall, Judson Phillips, Steve Smith, Ron Reagan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Truth trumps.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in happy Washington. 

Leading off tonight: Ace in the hole.  The president played his down card this morning and left Donald Trump busted.  That‘s the heart of it.  The president called the cards this morning on the man he called a “carnival barker.”  He flashed his original birth certificate for all to see, discrediting the guy who claimed it didn‘t exist.

Trump, the “Celebrity Apprentice” in the early 2012 Republican race, had bet it all on black, and it turned up red.  The roulette wheel has stopped, and any Atlantic City croupier can see who won and who lost.  Obama won, Trump lost.  Yet in his customized, hare-brained fashion, Trump was too shocked to take it all in.  When a reporter showed him a copy of the birth record, he whizzed off to sign autographs.  Can the man who got himself elected president of the birthers now seriously lay claim to any other title?

Plus, is this the end of this birtherism cult, or is that too much to ask of its crazed Obama-denying disciples?  Are Republicans finally going to stop trying to de-Americanize the president, or will they find new rocks to look under?  Of course, it is some people‘s job not to be convinced that President Obama is an American.  One of those people is Judson Phillips, the founder of the Tea Party nation.  He plays what HARDBALL with us tonight.

Plus, just as Democrats hoped, town halls have turned into forums for attacking Republicans for their attempt to dismantle Medicare—that‘s right, dismantle Medicare.  Will anger at the town halls turn to anger at the polls next year?

And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the birtherism roach motel.  Birthers

they check in, but they can‘t check out.

We start with the news tonight about the president‘s original birth certificate.  Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post” and Howard Fineman is political editor for The Huffington Post.  Both are MSNBC political analysts.

OK, here on your screen is the long-term—long-form birth certificate the White House released today.  President Obama‘s personal attorney flew to Hawaii to get this long-form copy.  He also got an exception to the rules to let him get a copy of it photographed.  As you can see, this version shows the president was, in fact, born in Honolulu.  It names the hospital where his mother gave birth to him.  It also shows the name of his parents and his mother‘s signature and doctor‘s signature.  The birth certificate shows Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii August 4, 1961.

Gentlemen, what more do these people want?


MATTHEWS:  But before we get to that—


MATTHEWS:  -- he did it today in rock star fashion.  He did it with debonair lightness.  He said, These silly people with their silly stuff are distracting from us, and here it is.  Here‘s the president went in—went after Trump and the birthers this morning on the charge (ph).  Let‘s listen to what the president says about his critics.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.  And I know that there‘s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.  By I‘m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press.  We do not have time for this kind of silliness.  We‘ve got better stuff to do.  I‘ve got better stuff to do.  We‘ve got big problems to solve.  And I‘m confident we can solve them, but we‘re going to have to focus on them, not on this.


MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you make of his performance this morning? 

The president did it, I thought, in debonair fashion—


MATTHEWS:  -- with a nice sort of light criticism of his enemies. 

They are his enemies.

ROBINSON:  I thought it was a good performance.  He made big deal of it, you know?  I mean, he came out and—

MATTHEWS:  Personal appearance.

ROBINSON:  -- calls everybody in, makes a personal appearance, doesn‘t just post the thing on the Web site.  You know, I think—look, this is HARDBALL.  Let‘s talk politics.  I think the question is whether it was politically smart to do it now or to wait a little while, let the Republican Party continue to tie itself in knots—


ROBINSON:  -- over the birther issue, let Donald Trump—

MATTHEWS:  Drag them out for the year with this.

ROBINSON:  -- continue to set the agenda for his opponents, which was working for him.


MATTHEWS:  -- has been a roach motel for the crowd that has gone into it.  I think they‘re never going to get out, the people who went in.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  The problem—the problem is, some people that they didn‘t want to go into the roach motel were starting to be interested and—

MATTHEWS:  Because so much noise about it.

FINEMAN:  So much noise.  It wasn‘t just now among Republican voters.  I think what prompted the White House to move—and I know this from talking to them—in part is the fact that polls came out at the beginning of last week and then all of last week showing that not just Republican but that some independent voters—and after all, the president said there, I‘m speaking to the majority of the American people.  What he means by that is, I‘m looking for independent voters here.


FINEMAN:  And they were starting to pay—

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you—

FINEMAN:  -- a little bit of attention to this.

MATTHEWS:  -- if every major right-winger in the country, including New York, came out and said, Brooklyn Bridge isn‘t safe, don‘t use it, you think a few people might begin to listen?


FINEMAN:  Well, it‘s quite loud.  And don‘t forget, the president was also speaking to the press here.  He said, I‘m speaking to the American people, but I‘m also speaking to the press.  I think what was also saying is, I hear that the press—some parts of the, quote, “mainstream press,” because nothing other than the noise and nothing other than Donald Trump—


FINEMAN:  -- were spending too much time on this—

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me tell you—

FINEMAN:  -- and it‘s is getting in the way of our dealing with the issues.

MATTHEWS:  I think it teaches attitude about people.  That‘s (INAUDIBLE)  Here‘s Donald Trump.  Now, this is proof.  I don‘t know what you call this, a competency test or what you call this.  Here‘s a guy caught having bet everything on the wrong color.  As I said, he bet black, it came up red today on the roulette table.  Here he is declaring victory.  It takes an ego.  We knew he had one.  This takes the cake.  Let‘s listen to this guy.


DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  I‘m very proud of myself because I have accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish.  I‘d want to look at it, but I hope it‘s true so that we can get on to much more important matters, so the press can stop asking me questions.  He should have done it a long time ago.  Why he didn‘t do it when the Clintons asked for it, I don‘t know.  But I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in, hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue.



MATTHEWS:  Where do you start?


MATTHEWS:  He raised the issue.  The Clintons never asked for any paper.  He has pushed this baby.  It is the reason he exists as a politician.

FINEMAN:  What did you expect?

ROBINSON:  What did you expect?

MATTHEWS:  All right.

ROBINSON:  It‘s Donald Trump we‘re dealing with.  Look, he knows—

MATTHEWS:  And by the way, he didn‘t ask for the paper.  He accused the president of—he said it has disappeared—

ROBINSON:  He said—right.  He said it‘s missing.

MATTHEWS:  Is missing.  By the way, I found his source!


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look at this.  I found—I was at the airport today.  I found his investigator.  Wait—it‘s in here!  This is where he got this thing!  There it is!  Look at it!  One place he may have heard about this theory that the birth certificate disappeared is this tabloid, “The Globe.”  It reports in this week -- (INAUDIBLE) catch this number.  Here‘s the issue.  It reported on July 12, 2012 -- it‘s talking about the past.  A guy named Timothy Adams, a senior government whatever, records clerk in Honolulu during the presidential race says he searched for Obama‘s long-term certificate and didn‘t find it.  He was informed—“I was informed by my boss that we do not have Obama‘s birth record,” he says.

So this is—I realized this is where Trump gets his stuff from!


MATTHEWS:  This is his high-priced investigator!

FINEMAN:  Well, and there‘s two—

MATTHEWS:  Go to Safeway and get the same deal!

FINEMAN:  There‘s two (INAUDIBLE) to this.  Not only did the president trump the people who said that he wasn‘t born in Hawaii, there was another sort of more genteel parlor version of this, which was—

MATTHEWS:  White-collar birtherism.

FINEMAN:  Yes, white-collar birtherism—


FINEMAN:  -- which is, OK, there is a certificate.  He was born there.  But what was on that certificate?  What questions did they ask?  Did they ask his religion?  Did they ask his race, the race of the baby?


FINEMAN:  There‘s nothing on there for that!  So it—they also—the White House also blew that out of the water.  Now, I talked to them.  They said they weren‘t intending to do that.  They didn‘t even know about that stuff.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Gene‘s got—


MATTHEWS:  Gene had a great question here.  It‘s like “Columbo,” you know, you used to know the bad guy from the beginning of the show.  From the beginning of this caper -- (INAUDIBLE) call it that, or saga it got to be almost—the president knew it all.  He knew what‘s in his birth certificate.  He must have had somebody look at it once, or maybe he just knew he was born that day.

FINEMAN:  He knew where—

MATTHEWS:  Mommy told me.

FINEMAN:  -- he was born.

MATTHEWS:  He knew what hospital it was.  All his friends knew, Abercrombie, all the guys he (INAUDIBLE) with knew who he was.  He played basketball for the championship team at the prep school.  He knew who he was!  Why‘d he wait?

ROBINSON:  Well, look, I think—

MATTHEWS:  Did he wait for—


ROBINSON:  I think there was an element of not lowering himself—

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s fair.

ROBINSON:  -- to deal with this.

MATTHEWS:  Nobody else has to do it.

ROBINSON:  There had to be that.

FINEMAN:  Well, Chris—

ROBINSON:  I mean, you know, come on.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s an indignity.

FINEMAN:  Chris, you know this from—you know this—

MATTHEWS:  Proving your citizenship when you‘re president of the United States?

FINEMAN:  Right.  You know this from the old days.  It wasn‘t an indignity to a guy that at the beginning said, What‘s that name mean?  What does Barack Obama mean, all that?


FINEMAN:  Early in a campaign, you‘re always faced with the question, do you shine a light on something that a few people are asking about, or do you leave it go?

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the answer?

FINEMAN:  Well, they let it go.  To the extent they could during the campaign, they let it go.  Then they came out with the short form.  They were going to leave it go again, not for any nefarious reasons, because they don‘t want to dignify it with discussion.  But it got to be such a big thing because of the blowtorch of Donald Trump, and because it was getting into the polls, they once again had no choice.

I don‘t think they were sandbagging the birthers, in other words.  I don‘t think it was a plot by Obama to do—the president to do that.  I just think it got to the point where it was it infecting the independent vote.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they caught, as they say in England now—I‘m learning all these English expressions like “wrong-footed”—


MATTHEWS:  -- they catch you wrong-footed.  Did they—they catch Trump out on his troubadours (ph) tour New Hampshire day.  He‘s out there with—you know, he had a boater hat and the pointer and the striped jacket, the carnival barker.  He‘s up there doing his thing.  The minute he gets off the plane, they drop this paper.  And he‘s up there saying, Gee, haven‘t seen it yet.  Then reporter tried to show it to him, and he wouldn‘t look at it.  He went off and signed autographs.

ROBINSON:  Well, I—you know, I—perhaps that was kind of fun—

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but they‘re nailing him—


ROBINSON:  I think Howard is right that they really didn‘t want independent voters to kind of, you know, trickle into this birther camp.  Now, you know, given there are people—there are hard-core birthers who, if there were a super 8 film of the actual birth, with, you know, Diamondhead and hula dancers in the background, they still wouldn‘t believe it, right?  So they‘re going to continue to not—I think reasonable people are going to say, OK, this is a done deal.

FINEMAN:  The fact that they did it today was a coincidence with Trump being in New Hampshire.  Although I must say, they would probably—in that building behind you, picture behind you there, they would probably love to have Donald Trump dominate the Republican landscape for the next—

MATTHEWS:  Why not let him hang out for another three months?

FINEMAN:  For the reason that I said, about the independent voters.


FINEMAN:  But if Donald Trump wants to spend the next month talking about the president‘s college transcripts, I‘m sure they‘ll be perfectly happy to have them—


ROBINSON:  -- taking credit for fleshing out the birth certificate!

MATTHEWS:  Gene and Howard, my buddies, let me tell you, this claim—

I know Trump will step back from it.  He‘s a—he‘s a showman.  He‘ll say, Well, I really didn‘t—I‘m glad it came out, all this stuff, you know—


MATTHEWS:  Right.  His charges were so ballooning, he was charging that this guy was like a Don Draper character, like in “Mad Men.”  He didn‘t even go to the schools he went to.  Listen to the charges he made.  He was saying all through this ballooning, he would say, Look, nobody knew him in school, nobody remembers him, nobody‘s come forward.  It‘s very strange.  It‘s very strange.

And then there was all this other stuff about grades.  He didn‘t have the grades.  And it‘s all this—like, he was both suggesting he was one of these—remember you used to hear about the Ivy League kids would have some phony name to apply to Harvard to get them in?  It was like he was somebody that didn‘t exist!

FINEMAN:  Well, that‘s—

MATTHEWS:  And that was how far he‘d gone with this!

FINEMAN:  But that plays right into the whole mentality not just of birthers but of sort of the rejectionist front in this country about the—


FINEMAN:  -- never accepting his legitimacy partly for ideological reasons, partly for race—

ROBINSON:  And it‘s partly because of race.

FINEMAN:  -- because of race reasons, and I think—


FINEMAN:  -- as sort of genteel in a way as the ‘08 campaign was, I think this one is going to be almost mathematically the reverse in terms of how nasty and paranoid it‘s going to be among people who think that the president represents some kind of plot.

MATTHEWS:  The president did have a trump card here—


MATTHEWS:  I‘m keep using that reference.  He had a trump card because unlike trutherism that said that George W. Bush blew up the World Trade Center with some sort of pump (ph) somewhere at the White House, not that there was questions about the argument of the war, which I share, but that he somehow blew up the World Trade Center himself, which is the truther argument—remember building 7?  You can‘t disprove that.  It‘s very hard to disprove.

But this guy, all along, had the document.  This is what‘s beautiful.  It‘s Perry Mason.  It‘s 10 minutes before the end of “Perry Mason” when you actually come out and say, Here, I got it.

FINEMAN:  Well, what‘s interesting—


FINEMAN:  What‘s interesting is the fact that the White House thought that it was urgent enough (INAUDIBLE)

ROBINSON:  Exactly.  Because they had released the official document -

the official document was the short-form document and—

MATTHEWS:  OK, bottom line.

ROBINSON:  -- they released it a long time ago.

MATTHEWS:  Will Donald Trump admit he was wrong?

ROBINSON:  Oh, no.  Are you kidding?

MATTHEWS:  Will he?

FINEMAN:  No.  He‘s already congratulated himself on his sleuthing.

ROBINSON:  Where‘ve you been?

MATTHEWS:  What a world we live in!


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I like the fact that he says, I‘m proud of myself.  You can fill in anything after that.  Anyway, thank you.  Where did you go to get an ego like that?  Life would be different.  Anyway, thank you, Eugene.  Thank you, Howard.  You‘re right.  (INAUDIBLE)  You question everything you do!

Coming up: Who wins when the president comes through with the whole truth and nothing but?  Who loses, and who becomes a laughingstock?  I think we mentioned him.  But who won in this thing?  There are a couple of people who look good.  In fact, one‘s the president, but there‘s another Republican who was stern on this, stoic and honest.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, the other big story today, of course, to report here is the changing of the guard on President Obama‘s national security team.  The president plans to nominate Leon Panetta to take over as defense chief.  Panetta is currently the head of the CIA and was President Clinton‘s, of course, White House chief of staff.  He had a major—he had a major career in Congress.  I worked there when he was there.  President Obama also will nominate General David Petraeus—boy, he‘s respected—the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to replace Panetta at the CIA.  He‘s got great experience working with the CIA over there in the field.

We will be right back.



OBAMA:  I have watched with bemusement.  I‘ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going.


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That‘s President Obama today, the big winner in the birther game, I believe.  Are there winners like Republican leaders, the few who refuse to play the game of birtherism?  And who besides Donald Trump gets stuck with a dunce cap tonight?

“Mother Jones‘s” David Corn is an MSNBC analyst, of course, and Josh Marshall is the estimable editor and founder of TalkingPointsMemo, TPM.  Josh, let me talk to you.  I want to propose one winner, and that‘s a noble Republican on this issue, Mitt Romney Monday on Fox.  Let‘s listen to Mitt Romney not play the birther game.


MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  Sure, I believe he was born in the United States.  And frankly, I think that the way forward to have him retired after one term in office is to make sure the people in this country understand how bad his policies have been.


MATTHEWS:  You know, I think you took a lot of heat and you probably still will down the road to be a Republican going out into the country, especially out in the rural areas, where people—there‘s always a bunch and maybe a majority in the room who want to believe the worst about the president.  I give Romney credit—he‘s not Mr. Excitement, but I give him credit for not playing the game, not being a pander bear to the right crazies.

JOSH MARSHALL, TALKINGPOINTSMEMO.COM:  Yes, I mean, it‘s sort of a sad commentary that that—that that is—you know, that‘s an honorable move to make.  But sure.  I mean, I think he‘s one of the relatively few Republicans that not only hasn‘t embraced birtherism but hasn‘t even made all the kind of innuendoes that is—


MARSHALL:  -- sort of what you need to do to be, you know, in the club in the Republican primary world today, or Republican Party—

MATTHEWS:  You know, like Huckabee does, where, Oh, I don‘t question that, but I got other questions him, or, I wonder if he was born—


MATTHEWS:  -- on this planet, or—and you always have to join in the spirit of birtherism, which is, He‘s not really one of us.

MARSHALL:  Well, you also have that—you know, that line that John Boehner had about, you know, he doesn‘t believe it, but he‘s—but if people in his caucus believe it, well, you know, he‘s not going to—he‘s not going to police what other people think.

MATTHEWS:  You know—

MARSHALL:  So there‘s even—there‘s all sorts of—

MATTHEWS:  -- hate to say this—

MARSHALL:  -- gradations of it.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s very Nixonian.  Nixon used to say, I‘m not one of those who believes the Supreme Court‘s packed with communists, but there are those who do.

CORN:  Right, and—


MATTHEWS:  There are those who say—

CORN:  -- respect.  I mean, I think that—I think Obama‘s a big winner today because he gets to make a larger point about the media latching onto trivial issues, and he looks, again—this is what he wants to do to impress—

MATTHEWS:  Well, Trump is trivial.

CORN:  He looks again like the grown-up in the room—

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Good for him.

CORN:  -- again and again and again on issues large and small.

MATTHEWS:  OK, here he is on “Oprah,” making I guess that point.  Here he is talking about this very birtherism stuff.  The show will be aired, by the way, on the 2nd of May.  Here‘s the president and Oprah talking about his birth certificate.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”:  And before you came today you had a press conference.


OPRAH:  By the time this airs, it will be all over the world that you outed the birth certificate.  You let us see the birth certificate. 


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY:  He was born here.


OPRAH:  Yes.  And that—we—it‘s confirmed again that you are born


B. OBAMA:  Once again. 

OPRAH: -- once again in the United States. 


Why did—why did you wait so long, though? 


B. OBAMA:  You know, keep in mind what had happened.  This—this came up about two—

OPRAH:  Two and a half years ago. 

B. OBAMA:  Two and a half years ago.  And so we called up the folks in Hawaii in the Department of Health. 

OPRAH:  Yes.  When it first came up, were you thinking, I hope I was born here?



B. OBAMA:  Can I just say I was there, so I knew—


B. OBAMA: -- that—I knew I had been born.  I remembered it. 


OPRAH:  Of course you did. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s lighthearted and an appreciative audience there.  But there are audiences, by the way, who would be booing him right now. 


And we won‘t see an end to all the other conspiracy theories.  Franklin Graham, the evangelical leader, a couple of weeks ago said that the Obama administration has been infiltrated at the highest levels by the Muslim Brotherhood. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he says the president is a Muslim. 


MATTHEWS:  He‘s got the seed of Islam in him. 

CORN:  And he‘s questioned his Christianity. 

So, the birther impulse, which is deep within a certain segment of the population, will find other outlets.  It‘s like the air in the balloon. 

MATTHEWS:  You know why I don‘t believe in royalty, guys?  You know why I don‘t believe in royalty, why people should inherit titles? 

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Franklin Graham.



MATTHEWS:  That would be my argument. 

Let me go right now to Trump today.  Here he is, Trump, unstoppable. 

Here he is.  Let‘s listen. 



DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS:            And I think if he wants to release it, that‘s fine.  And if he doesn‘t want to release it, that‘s fine, too.

But the word is—you know, you‘d think he‘d want to release it, actually because the word is, he wasn‘t a good student and he ended up getting into Columbia and Harvard.  And I would like to know, I would like to know—well, this is what I read written by some of the people in this room.  I would like to know, how does he get into Harvard?  How does he get into Columbia if he isn‘t a good student?  It‘s an interesting thing.


MATTHEWS:  This is desperate.  This is desperate nonsense, crapola.

Josh Marshall, I guess he doesn‘t want to admit he is wrong.  That is part of being a successful land developer.  You never admit you‘re wrong ever, ever, ever.  Every bet has to be doubled down on. 

Why doesn‘t he just say, like a man, I was wrong, I asked him for it, he showed it to me, touche, it‘s his day? 


MATTHEWS:  Does that make Trump look bad?  I would think that would make Trump look good, myself, in a sane world. 


MARSHALL:  As you said, this is Donald Trump.  This is like, why isn‘t water more dry?  It is sort of in the nature of the thing.  Of course he is not going to admit he is wrong. 

But I think, when—when Trump starts getting into this thing about he was terrible student, and yet he got into Harvard, that actually runs counter to pretty much everything we know about Obama.  And I think it brings us back to—

MATTHEWS:  What is next, LSAT scores?

MARSHALL:  Well, there‘s a—there is—it has always been a big, big part of the birther movement: race. 

And, you know, we joke about it.  It is always kind of crazy ideas and stuff, but race has always been a huge part of it.  And that‘s exactly what Trump is going for when he—he is now pushing the line that Obama is some sort of, you know, affirmative action case or something like that, and didn‘t deserve to go to Columbia or Harvard, and by—implicitly, to be president. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  You‘re so right.


MATTHEWS:  You know what I think?  Josh, you are so smart.


MATTHEWS:  You make me sad, though.  You make me sad.  You make me sad that people think like this, because all the evidence around us is that the racial difference on I.Q. is not there, that there‘s no evidence whatever.  This is just—this is just nonsense, to keep believing this stuff. 

Look, the guy—read his book.  Read two pages of the book he wrote, and you realize, this man is so gifted as a writer.  And then Trump has to come around and say, well, he never wrote the book.  Some terrorist wrote it.  I mean, when do you stop believing the malarkey? 


CORN:  We have two wars now, maybe three, if you count Libya.  The economy still is a—is in a fragile state. 

There‘s so much happening.  And for him to talk about Barack Obama‘s college records, as if that means anything to anybody, shows that he is not serious, he has no ideas to offer, and he‘s just playing up this notion that there‘s something phony about Barack Obama. 


CORN:  We have had—you know, you can that during the campaign, but we have had two years of action that he can judge Barack Obama on.  There are policy things that he can dispute.  And he just doesn‘t care.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it reminds me of a friend of mine who was up—it reminds me of a friend of mine who was up for a Rhodes Scholarship.  And he had a 4.0 at my college, which nobody ever had, 4.0 for four years at Holy Cross.  Nobody ever had 4.0 before.

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  So, in the middle of the interview, after he said, what was your grades, he said, well, I actually have had all A‘s since I got in here, which has like never been done.  The guy said, well, how did you do in high school? 


MATTHEWS:  That doesn‘t—that seems to me like—or one of those old things they used to do when the racists ran the South, when they would say, you know, the joke about the literacy test.  What does this say?  And it says—basically, it says, you are not going to get the vote here in grosser language than that, right?  They would ask you to explain something in Greek or something. 


MATTHEWS:  Let me get a look here.  Here is list of the birthers out there.  By the way, this is a list of people that I think is going to go down in ignominy—or ignominy. 

Look at these things, Bill Posey of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Dan Burton, look at the names, Indiana, John Campbell of California, John Carter of Texas, Michael Conaway of Texas, John Culberson of Texas, Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia,  Kenny Marchant of Texas, Neugebauer of Texas, Ted Poe of Texas.

Notice the common nature of the geography, David.  Is there something about down South that makes people birthers?  There‘s one exception, Indiana. 


CORN:  I want to see their college records.  Let‘s see how smart these people were. 

MATTHEWS:  What is it about the people that want to believe the worst? 

CORN:  Listen, it is either race or this profound desire to present Barack Obama as something different than as an American.  And if they want to say in Texas it is because he comes from Hawaii, they can do that, but the clearest difference is a matter of race.


Everybody who says he wasn‘t born here, everybody who says he‘s not an American should bet $1 million to their best friend and give it to charity.  Put some money behind your B.S.  That is what Trump should have done, put some money on it. 


CORN:  He should have said it on the show here, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Just put some money on it.  It is too cheap, these lies, too cheap. 

Anyway, David—these suspicious, I should call them. 

David Corn, this is a great day for America today.  Now know the truth and we know who is not telling it. 

Up next:  Who said it, Lincoln or the other guy?  Well, I think we know when we hear the words. 

You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow,” or rather, more “Sideshow.” 

First up: through the looking glass with Michele Bachmann.  Newt Gingrich is coming out with a film about American exceptionalism.  He turned to Congresswoman Bachmann for historical insight. 

Here‘s what she came up with. 


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Will this latest generation, as Abraham Lincoln so famously said, will this latest generation hand that torch of liberty to the next generation?  That is our charge today. 


MATTHEWS:  Pass the torch to the next generation.  Actually, it was someone else who famously said something like that. 


JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the famous line, of course.  We checked with the Abraham Lincoln Library out in Illinois.  They couldn‘t find any record of Abraham Lincoln saying anything quite like that.

Well, next:  Jimmy Kimmel proposed a new game show last night.  Check it out. 


NARRATOR:  From the producers who brought you “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and “Wipeout,” the most challenging game show yet: “Can You Keep a Straight Face While Interviewing Donald Trump?” 

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS:  The last person he wants to run against is Donald Trump. 

NARRATOR:  With Meredith Vieira, Sean Hannity, Savannah Guthrie, Neil Cavuto, Candy Crowley, George Stephanopoulos, Billy Bush, and Bill O‘Reilly. 

TRUMP:  We go in, we take over the second largest oil fields, and we stay.  Don‘t smile. 


NARRATOR:  Can you keep a straight face while interviewing Donald Trump, only on FOX. 


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  My money‘s on Cavuto. 




MATTHEWS:  So well done.  It is only going to get harder, by the way, to keep a straight face on this topic.

Speaking of Trump, it is time for tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

The president today, not so subtly, singled out Trump and the rest of the birthers as a joke, carnival barkers, as he put it.  Well, Trump, of course, didn‘t get it, per usual.  He singled himself out as someone that Donald Trump is proud of. 


TRUMP:  I have accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish. 

I am really happy.  And, honestly, I‘m very proud that I was able to bring this to a point. 

I feel I have accomplished something really, really important. 

I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role.

I‘m really honored and I‘m really proud.

I was very honored.

I‘m very proud of myself. 

I‘m taking great credit. 

I‘m really happy. 

I‘m really proud.  I‘m really honored. 


MATTHEWS:  Ten instances of Donald Trump paying tribute to Donald Trump.  This guy should give himself a dinner—a preview of Trump on the campaign trail, 10 acts of self-congratulation, tonight‘s me, myself and I “Big Number.” 

Wow.  You can‘t beat that. 

Up next:  Let‘s talk to a pair who aren‘t happy with the birth certificate the president produced today.  We have got the head of the Tea Party Nation, along with the state senator who sponsored Arizona‘s birther bill. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks extended Tuesday‘s rally on some key earnings and Ben Bernanke‘s historic press conference, the Dow Jones up 95 points.  The S&P 500 added eight, and the Nasdaq climbed 22.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve took questions from reporters for the first time in the Fed‘s 98-year history.  He said interest rates won‘t rise for at least two Fed sessions.  That‘s three months away.  He also acknowledged the impact high gas prices are having on the recovery. 

Investor reactions are mixed, many pleased, saying he gave the green light to riskier investing, but some critics say the Fed is not taking inflation pressures seriously enough. 

Meanwhile, the earnings avalanche continues—eBay topped expectations and raised its full-year outlook.  Boeing delivered a 13 percent jump in profits, but weaker-than-expected revenue. 

And Starbucks brewed up profits in line with expectations.  Its sales came in slightly higher than expected. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Well, President Obama‘s decision to release his long-form birth certificate, the original document, has—hasn‘t really stopped the noise from the right wing. 

Here‘s what Tea Party Nation founder, Judson Phillips, wrote just today—quote—“If the birth certificate the White House—if the birth certificate released by the White House today, offered today is a fake, then we are watching the greatest political conspiracy since Watergate.  And if that‘s the case, forget impeachment.  Joe Biden and the Cabinet just need to invoke the 25th Amendment and send Obama off to a nice quiet place where they have long white jackets and nice men and women and the birds are chirping.”

Now, that‘s Judson Phillips, who is head of Tea Party Nation.  He joins us now.  Also joining us now is Arizona State Senator Steve Smith.  He is the one who co-sponsored one of Arizona‘s birther bills. 

Judson, let ask you.  Are you there?  Mr. Phillips, let me ask you about your -- 


MATTHEWS: -- statement today. 

Thank you.  Let‘s go into that, that statement. 

Explain what you mean by anything‘s possible.  There are a lot of people with the skills to create a fake document.  And you say anything‘s possible.  It‘s—the birth certificate, the president may well have given us a fake today. 

What do you make of that?  What—give me your thinking on that. 

PHILLIPS:  Well, no.


PHILLIPS:  Hang on.  You‘re taking it a little bit out of context here.

There are some people who have already come out on the Internet and said, well, this thing is a fake.  And my blog post—

MATTHEWS:  What are you saying about it? 

PHILLIPS:  No, I think it is genuine.  I have said, for a number of months, before the release of the birth certificate, I thought the available evidence, such as it was, indicated he was born in Hawaii. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, wait a minute.  Let me just read your statement today, sir.  We are looking at the document. 


MATTHEWS:  But I want to look at what you say about this could.

“Could it be a fake?  Anything is possible.”

What do you mean by that? 

PHILLIPS:  Yes.  Well, hey, could it be a fake?  Anything is possible. 

Am I going to win the lottery today?

MATTHEWS:  Is it possible—


PHILLIPS:  That‘s possible, too, but I‘m not really counting on it. 

MATTHEWS:  No.  Wait a minute.  A lottery is a chance.  Do you think it is a fake? 

PHILLIPS:  No, I don‘t think it is a fake.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is possible it is a fake? 

PHILLIPS:  No, I don‘t think it is a fake.

MATTHEWS:  It is possible it is a fake? 

PHILLIPS:  That‘s the whole point of the blog post.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is possible it is a fake? 

PHILLIPS:  No.  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why don‘t you say it?  You said it today. 

PHILLIPS:  It‘s a—it is a term of speech.  I was discussing the issue. 


PHILLIPS:  Some people had put it out there on the Internet, saying, oh, this is a fake.  I said, yes, it is a fake?  Yes, anything is possible.  If it‘s a fake, it‘s the greatest political conspiracy since Richard Nixon. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Yes.  And then you went on to say, “There are a lot of people with the skills to create a fake document, such as a birth certificate.”

What did you mean by that? 

PHILLIPS:  Photoshop.  There are people out there who can create all kinds of things like this. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that this could have been faked, that this was Photoshopped? 

PHILLIPS:  No.  No. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, why did you say it again? 


MATTHEWS:  Why are you playing to this point of view? 

PHILLIPS:  Because I was addressing an issue that was brought up that some people -- 

MATTHEWS:  Why are you pandering to paranoia? 

PHILLIPS:  I‘m not pandering.  Some people brought it up. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, you are. 


MATTHEWS:  You won‘t say—no, you are saying it could be true.  Why are you—


MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing.  That is a phony laugh, sir.  Why do you keep pandering to paranoia, sir? 


MATTHEWS:  You‘re part of the problem in this country.  Why do you keep doing this? 

PHILLIPS:  Well, -- well, Chris, first of all, I maintain the position I‘m too young to be called “sir.”

But beyond that, no, it is just a—it‘s just—you‘re right.

MATTHEWS:  You think this is funny? 

PHILLIPS:  It is a—it‘s a figure of speech. 

MATTHEWS:  You like it and people come up to you and say, you weren‘t an American, do you think that‘s funny?

PHILLIPS:  I‘m sorry, I—

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s funny to say a person is not an American? 

Do you think that‘s a joke?

PHILLIPS:  It depends on whether or not that‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  Oh?  Suppose it is true and you‘re just somebody having some fun with somebody, they wake up to you and say, hey, Judson Phillips, that‘s kind of a funny name where I come from, are you really an American?  I think you might not be it.  In fact, it‘s possible your birth certificate was a fake.  It‘s possible.  There are people that have the skills to create fake birth certificates.  There‘s such a thing as photo shop.

Do you like the sound of that when it‘s directed at you?  Do you like that?  I wouldn‘t.

PHILLIPS:  Chris, that‘s got to be the most ridiculous thing I heard today.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why I wonder why you wrote it.  You wrote it today. 

Let me read you again what you put out today to have fun with your crowd.  “Already, there are stories out on the Internet that the birth certificate released today is a fake.  Could it be a fake?  Anything is possible.  And certainly, there are a lot of people with the skills to create a fake document, such as a birth certificate.  If the birth certificate the White House offered out today is a fake, then we are watching the greatest political conspiracy since Watergate.”

Why do you talk like this?  Why do you just say it‘s baloney and move on to the conspiracy theories that you prefer?


MATTHEWS:  It‘s not funny.  It‘s not funny.  The rest of the world is laughing at us.

PHILLIPS:  It‘s the way I write and I‘m sorry if you don‘t like it.

MATTHEWS:  Was this—no, it‘s not a question I don‘t like, it is not true.  That‘s the problem, sir.  And, by the way -- 

PHILLIPS:  Chris, what—hold on, time out, time out, time out.  What I did say?  What I did say?


PHILLIPS:  I said that—

MATTHEWS:  You keep pushing this racket of yours.

PHILLIPS:  I said the birth certificate was legitimate.

MATTHEWS:  Now, in other words, no, no, that‘s not what you said when you put out your on HARDBALL, you are saying it, under questioning, yes, sir, you are fine tonight.  But today, when you‘re having fun with this baby, you‘re still pushing the wagon up the hill, weren‘t you?  Just admit it.

PHILLIPS:  Chris, you read the whole blog.


MATTHEWS:  I read the whole—I‘m trying to read it.

Anyway, let‘s go to Senator Smith.

Senator Smith, do you have a problem with what the president did today?

STATE SEN. STEVE SMITH ®, ARIZONA:  Well, of course not.  I just wish he would have done it about two and a half years ago.


SMITH:  You know, you got to understand.  This is something that if—people have been asking for—

MATTHEWS:  People?  Who has been asking for it?

SMITH:  Well, my goodness, look at the campaign trail this issue came can up time and again during the campaign.

MATTHEWS:  What kind of people were asking for it?  People that would have voted for him otherwise?

SMITH:  I think the same people asking for it today which prompted him to release it today.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this, sir—did you ever think of voting for Barack Obama for president?

SMITH:  Well, being from Arizona, and from my hometown, John McCain was running, to be honest with you—no.

MATTHEWS:  Do you have a problem with Barack Obama being president of the United States?

SMITH:  Policy-wise, of course.

MATTHEWS:  No, but as a person, do you have a problem with a guy whose father was African being president of the United States?

SMITH:  No.  I have a problem with his policies.  I don‘t have a problem -- 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t have any question—you do not now, having seen the full original form of the birth document, the birth certificate, you accept the fact, without any doubt, like Mr. Judson Phillips has, you don‘t have any doubts about this anymore?


SMITH:  Well, to me—


SMITH: -- it‘s no longer an issue per se.

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m asking you, do you have any doubts?  Don‘t give me the Latinate answer.  Do you have any doubt about the man‘s birth as an American?

SMITH:  Well, I think as Judson said and I think as others will say, there can only always be a shadow of a document.

MATTHEWS:  Do you—OK, I am able to ask you, you‘re the only person here, sir, in due all respect, Senator Smith, state senator from Arizona, an elected official, I respect the fact you have run for off, takes guts to run for office—do you have guts to say you believe he‘s fellow American, as American as you are, there‘s no question about it.  Can you say that?

SMITH:  I can say I believe it‘s a valid certificate, but I don‘t know that anybody can properly say I am 100 percent certain.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Do you accept Barack Obama as a fellow American, legitimately elected president, a fellow American like you, as American as you are?  Do you accept that?

SMITH:  Well, I think after today, yes, it‘s finally—it‘s finally come to life.  And again, here‘s my only problem.

MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re just—OK, so I‘m making it easy for you, accept as a fellow American, I‘m going to keep pushing this.  If you accept he‘s a fellow American, you have no questions about his birth, just say yes.

SMITH:  I have none.  Again, I don‘t think one could just make the blanket statement after two years in hiding.

MATTHEWS:  So?  So what do you think is behind this?

SMITH:  I have zero doubt.

MATTHEWS:  What are your doubts?  What are your doubts?

SMITH:  Well, think you can put it, if I put it at an equation, I‘d said there‘s still a good 10, 20 percent chance.

MATTHEWS:  Why?  Why do you have that doubt?

SMITH:  Here‘s why—I mean, again, two years go by and it finally comes out, but I will rewind about four months ago in Hawaii when we had an elected official stand up in Hawaii and say, I‘ve had enough of this, I‘m going to go find you your birth—his birth certificate and end this.  And then weeks go by and then the media ask him, well, how did your search go?  And he says, I still haven‘t found it.  So, then he goes and looks for it and makes a big press release and says, you know what—

MATTHEWS:  So, we‘re talking about today.

SMITH: -- I saw it, it‘s in the basement and you can‘t see it though.

Now, if it were this transparent, don‘t you think it would have been released two years ago and be about four months ago.

MATTHEWS:  Did you read the paper, follow the news today?  What happened today, sir, was the president had to get an exception through his lawyer.  He had to go and get an exception to Hawaiian law to have this release so he could have it photographed and sent to him certified from the state.  Obviously, he had to go around the law and get an exception, as president of the United States.  The officials out there said, we are releasing it to you with the exception since you‘re president of the United States.

Abercrombie didn‘t have that authority to do that.  The president had to ask for the exception.  Do you accept that?

SMITH:  Well, I do.  But here‘s the bigger problem, if this issue came up last week -- 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we are talking about today, sir.

SMITH:  I understand that.

MATTHEWS:  Will you move—are you going to move on or just stick with two years a ago?

SMITH:  But it‘s all relevant.  It‘s all relevant.  People brought up these exact same concerns two years ago, if you want to—

MATTHEWS:  In other words, the president—

SMITH:  He should have got released -- 


MATTHEWS:  You can‘t seem to catch up.  Today, the president got the Hawaiian state government, and by the way, the head of that department is a Republican appointee, appointed by the last governor, why do you still have doubts about its authenticity as of getting it today?

This is what I don‘t get with you people.  You hang onto this like a religion, it‘s a cult almost.  You don‘t want to accept 100 percent he‘s one of our fellow Americans.  There‘s something that you have to have as a trap door, an escape route, you people.

All of you have to have it—somewhere when you go to bed at night, you put your head on the pillow I can‘t really live with the fact he‘s our president, can you?

SMITH:  Well, Chris, let give you this example.

MATTHEWS:  See, you have to change the question.

SMITH:  No, no, I‘m going to answer the question.  Let me give you an example.  If the IRS came to you and it says, you know what I don‘t actually believe you made the amount of money you said you did this year, I want to see your tax returns.  Or let‘s say an accountant or somebody did.  And you say, you know what, I‘ll get you that.  And a year goes by, and you can said, I get you that, and another year goes by, yes, I‘ll get you that.  And then finally you come up with this.


MATTHEWS:  Senator Smith, you can follow this—they weren‘t his records, they were the state records in Hawaii.

SMITH:  But as you said -- 

MATTHEWS:  You released his package of papers he has in the basement.

SMITH:  That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS:  So, why do you keep confusing the two issues?

SMITH:  Well, because here‘s the thing—if he needed a special waiver or special permission -- 

MATTHEWS:  He did.

SMITH: -- to release this.  OK, all I‘m saying—he is the president, why couldn‘t he have gotten this two years ago so you and I don‘t have to talk about this two years later?

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re done.  We‘re done.  We‘re done.

Thank you, sir.  I think you still have a problem.

Thank you, Mr. Phillips.

You guys, I think I figured you out, you don‘t really like the news developing today.  But thanks for coming on HARDBALL.

PHILLIPS:  I have no problem with the news today.

MATTHEWS:  Do you accept the fact‘s fellow American?


MATTHEWS:  Do you accept the fact he‘s our fellow American, the president of the United States?

SMITH:  Yes, I do, I just wish he would have done this earlier. 

That‘s all.

MATTHEWS:  Now, you do, too.  You‘re OK on this too, now.  OK, we are making progress.

SMITH:  He was president for two years.  He could have done this two years ago, he had a lawyer two years ago.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Good.  OK, thank you.

I‘m not going to win this argument with you guys.

Up next, revenge of the people.  Republicans are getting clobbered out there at town hall meetings across the country for voting to end Medicare.  Look at this.  That‘s ahead.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  U.S. Congressman Dean Heller has been named to replace Senator John Ensign out in Nevada.  Governor Brian Sandoval made the announcement today.  Heller who was running for the seat anyway, now gets to campaign as the incumbent.  Ensign was under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, and may still be, announced his retirement last week effective May 3rd.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Republicans are getting hammered in town hall meetings around the country for voting for that Medicare-killing Ryan budget which passed the House and all the Republicans voted for it but four.

Freshman Congressman Daniel Webster of Florida took heat for his support of the plan.  Let‘s watch that one.


REP. DANIEL WEBSTER ®, FLORIDA:  Not one senior citizen is harmed by this budget.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He said he would represent me.  He‘s representing the rich people!  And I‘m tired of it!  He‘s not doing the job he‘s supposed to do to represent me.  And I‘m sick and tired of it!


MATTHEWS:  Well, today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he‘ll hold a vote on Ryan‘s plan, the one passed by the Republicans in the House when the Senate comes back.

Ron Reagan is a political commentator here and author of “My Father at 100.”

First of all, can I see your long-form birth certificate and your short form tax returns before we go any further?  Just kidding.

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  Yes.  Let me—I got it right here in my back pocket.

Thank you, Chris, for doing that to those two mooks you had on earlier and exposing the intellectual dishonesty of these people.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s move on to the world.  The theory that America is moving hard right advanced most recently after the last election has become something of a debate in this country.  I believe the country moves often back to the center and very often back to the common interest of each American family.  And therefore, although everyone would like a tax break who makes very little money in many cases, everyone would like to also get their Medicare.  It was promised to them from the time they had a paper route and they‘d like to get when they hit 65, and they don‘t want to hear there‘s been some changes.

Your thoughts, Ron.

REAGAN:  Well, you know, God bless Paul Ryan for finally exposing the Republican‘s real agenda here.  I think the Republicans have played their constituents for chumps for so long that they thought that they could actually attack Barack Obama saying, you know, he‘s going to destroy Medicare, so you got to watch out for this Marxist, socialist guy.  And then turn right around a few months later, and deep six Medicare as part of their plan.

And what, nobody was going to notice that‘s what they were doing?  Paul Ryan and the Republicans are getting exactly what they deserve in these town hall meetings.  People are not that stupid.

MATTHEWS:  You know, the problem is they brought this clean cut young guy up, Paul Ryan, who looks like Mr. Clean.  The guy is so young and he comes out there and tells these people in their 60s and 70s, by the way, you‘re cut off.

REAGAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  I mean, one woman was saying in the meeting the other day, call it today, do you know anything about Medicare?  Do you know anything about what you‘re talking about here?


REAGAN:  And the answer is maybe no.

This whole document of his was completely disingenuous.  He reveals himself as a not very serious public servant who is part of a political organization, the Republican Party, that is frankly illegitimate now.  I mean, really, this was supposed to be a deficit reduction package?  When independent economists look at it, they realize it doesn‘t actually reduce the deficit.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  And Speaker Boehner, the leader of the pack, has decided to begin slip-sliding away.  It‘s just one of the proposals on the table, he says.


MATTHEWS:  I want to hear your thoughts about.  Ron Reagan, finishing up the show.

You‘re watching HARDBALL.  What a night it‘s been.  What a day for the republic, the president is one of us.  Isn‘t it great?  Some people had to be told and they still don‘t believe it.  Only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Hey, Ron, it‘s great to have you back.  I know you‘re more progressive than I am, so I don‘t want to put you completely in this boat.  But you know that this guy Trump, this troubadour of B.S., is out there now showing that he‘s part, he‘s completing the Reagan revolution.   He‘s got something called the mystery tour, the Reagan-to-Trump tour.

What do you make of him as an able successor to the Gipper?  What do you make of this?  There he is.

REAGAN:  Well, no, you know, my father had a full head of hair for one thing.

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t know about this guy.  We don‘t know what‘s going on under that.  We don‘t know.

REAGAN:  Well, yes, who know?  Yes, listen, if Donald Trump is as concerned about Barack Obama‘s birth certificate or he‘s college transcripts or whatever, he might start by looking under that ridiculous comb-over of his.  Really, God knows what is hiding under that thing.  Anybody who has the balls to accuse somebody of hiding something when they got this cotton candy confection covering their baldness—

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Ron, as you speak, as you speak, you‘ve gone viral. 

Thank you, Ron Reagan, for coming on HARDBALL, as always.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.

REAGAN:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Not always serious.  But always HARDBALL.

More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.




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