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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, Tyler Mathisen, Bill Maher, Ron Reagan, Shushannah  Walshe, Michael Powell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Newt the Grinch.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews at Exhibition (ph) Park in Los Angeles.  Leading off tonight: Bill Maher‘s joining us here (INAUDIBLE) HBO host (INAUDIBLE) out star guest tonight.  He‘s got plenty to say about the news today out here, that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of this state, admitted he fathered—I love that word—a child with a household employee.

Plus, we‘ll bust out the Republicans who still want to be president—the nastiness of Newt, the disappearance of Donald, the hello, good-bye of Huckabee, the hunt for a real candidate, and what kind of shape President Obama‘s in heading into 2012.

All that, Bill Maher joining us in just a minute.

But let‘s begin with Newt Gingrich, if you can, alienating members of his own party.  Let‘s check out what an angry Iowan said to the ex-speaker about his attack on the Republican platform on Medicare.  Let‘s watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What you just said about Paul Ryan is unforgivable!

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I didn‘t do anything to Paul Ryan!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, you did.  You undercut him and his satellites (ph) in the House.

GINGRICH:  No.  I said—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re an embarrassment to our party.

GINGRICH:  I‘m sorry you feel that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why don‘t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?


MATTHEWS:  “You‘re an embarrassment to our party.  Why don‘t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?”  Pretty smart there.

Let‘s turn to two MSNBC political analysts, Howard Fineman of The Huffington Post and “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson.  Howard, I have never seen a worse entry in the presidential politics.


MATTHEWS:  Within one day, he has alienated his own party.  He has changed position three times on health care.  But let‘s go to this assault, this assassination of the Republicans‘ own platform, which they all passed except for four members of the House, 218 votes for this plan.  And he completely depth charges it the first day on “MEET THE PRESS.”  What is going on in Newt Gingrich‘s head, Howard Fineman?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, that‘s the question I‘ve been trying to answer for about 20 years.  I‘ve been covering Newt from the time that he was a young—he was a—he was a young, you know, revolutionary getting his morning exercise trudging along on the Mall, thinking great revolutionary thoughts.

Newt Gingrich is by nature a bomb thrower.  He knows how to put the plastique in just the right place to blow up the bridge.  And it‘s the way he is.  Let‘s give him—why not, since he totally screwed everything up today, why not give him a little credit for saying, You know what?  I don‘t agree with their approach.

I mean, was it dumb politics?  I think so.  And it was just cemented by the fact that in this TV age, in this instant video age, for him to be greeted by that voter out there in Iowa—oh, my God!  That was disastrous!  But you know, that‘s just Newt.  That‘s the way he is.

And you know, by this afternoon, he was calling Paul Ryan.  He was on a conference call reaching out, saying, I—you know, I got trapped by the adversarial nature of “MEET THE PRESS.”  Newt Gingrich has probably been on “MEET THE PRESS” 25 times.  He didn‘t know it was an adversarial event?


FINEMAN:  You know, it‘s just crazy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s not adversarial.  It‘s called straight reporting


FINEMAN:  Yes.  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  -- by David Gregory.  He‘s right down the middle.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Gene.  I mean, straight down the middle. 

Gregory‘s never been accused of having a partisan bone in his body.

FINEMAN:  No, no.  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  And the idea of him asking—he asked him to explain how he could be—let‘s just start on this issue.  He asked him if he supported the Republican plan on health—on Medicare.  The guy doesn‘t support it.  This isn‘t tricky questioning.

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, it‘s not tricky questioning at all.  And as Howard said, I mean, David Gregory plays it right down the middle.  Look, you started with the question, What‘s going on in Newt‘s head?  That‘s never the question.  It‘s what‘s going on in Newt‘s mouth or what‘s coming out of Newt‘s mouth.  It‘s minute to minute, almost.  Remember about the military action in Libya?  He was against it, he was for it, he was against it again.

You know, it‘s—that‘s the way he is.  It‘s as if he‘s at some sort of very lively faculty club function, which—you know, there‘s a guy—another guy in the history department with whom he‘s rivals and he‘s trying to outjab him with his bon mots.  And that‘s the way he does politics.  That‘s the way he‘s always done it, and it gets him in trouble constantly.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go to—it seems to me he‘s got a one-two punch, and they‘re both delivered to his own chin.  The first thing he does is attack the Republican plan on Medicare, saying it was a bad idea, it‘s social right-wing engineering.  Howard, that‘s attacking the Republicans, who‘ve stuck their neck out on this, voted for something they knew was treacherous, knew was precarious.  And here‘s the guy, he‘s pulled it out from under them.  Every Democrat running now for Congress next year can say even their own former speaker, Newt Gingrich, says this is right-wing social engineering.

FINEMAN:  That‘s right.  That was—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s just a lethal shot.

FINEMAN:  No, that was absolutely devastating.  And you‘re right.  And of course, not that the Democrats are going to give Newt any credit for wanting to start a discussion because Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, came out in the Press Room this afternoon, didn‘t let, you know, Newt up off the floor and said, Well, yes, Newt said that, but don‘t forget that Newt also said that he wanted to see Medicare die on the vine.

So on the one hand, Newt‘s going to get attacked by fellow Republicans for not being a team player and for issuing a devastating shot at the heart of the whole Republican attack plan this year, but at the same time, if Newt manages to get anywhere, which is unlikely, he‘s going to be attacked by the Democrats for saying he wanted to see Medicare die on the vine.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s interesting—everybody‘s come out of the woodwork.  Santorum, who never seems to be in the national conversation, he‘s in there trashing the guy, saying the criticism of Paul Ryan‘s Medicare plan yesterday was “a big departure” from Newt Gingrich‘s “often sound policy proposals.”  Then Dick Armey, who I don‘t think really likes Newt Gingrich, said, “My view right now is he‘s joined the ‘don‘t care‘ crowd.  It isn‘t about the nation‘s health care, the nation‘s fiscal health care.  It‘s about Newt‘s presidential race.”  There you have Dick Armey, king of the Tea Partiers, trashing, Newt Gingrich—


MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

ROBINSON:  One thing we should keep in mind, though.  Newt is on the side of public opinion here.


ROBINSON:  So we shouldn‘t forget that.  All these Republicans who are piling on to Newt and saying, Why, you know, how could he say that about this great Medicare plan—


ROBINSON:  -- they‘re heaping—they‘re heaping several (INAUDIBLE) on themselves by—you know, in the eyes of the people—

MATTHEWS:   I know.

ROBINSON:  -- who are going to have to vote for them in the general election.

FINEMAN:  He happens to be right in this case—


MATTHEWS:  -- day trader.


MATTHEWS:  He‘s a day trader.  Every day he goes with a wet thumb in the air (INAUDIBLE) The other day, they caught him—Gregory caught him—in that tough so-called partisan investigation of his the other day, Gregory caught him on the fact that back when he was a speaker, he was for requiring people to have health insurance.

On Sunday, when David asked him the right question, he was for requiring people to—health care.  Monday, he realized he had just put his foot in the mess and he denied he ever said that.  He‘s challenging what he himself says.  And then today, on Tuesday, he‘s saying it was tricky questioning, like he‘s accusing David of being Katie Couric, both of whom were asking simple questions and he‘s giving simpleton answers.

FINEMAN:  Yes, well, when I—

MATTHEWS:  Who is the bad guy here except him?

FINEMAN:  Yes, he is—well, now today, as I said, he said he is reaching out to Paul Ryan.  If he is going to be able to—if his arm reaches that long enough, he‘s going to be reaching out to Paul Ryan to explain what he really meant, which is that he supports the idea.

Now his latest line is he supports Paul Ryan and what Paul Ryan wants to do, i.e. social engineering.  But the Republicans need to prepare the ground of public opinion.  They need to convince the American people first before the American people accept the social engineering from the right.  And if you can follow all of that, then, you know, you‘re a better mind than even the people who are going to be voting in the Iowa caucuses.

MATTHEWS:  Every time one of these Republicans gets the floor, starting with Palin, and then it was grabbed way with her when she sort of dropped it, by Trump.  And he was the main floor show.  Every time they get the big room, they make horse‘s asses of themselves.  Every single Republican who‘s gotten in the big room looks like a lounge act an hour after they start.

What is going wrong (INAUDIBLE) last two questions.  What is the curse on the Republican nomination that everyone looks like a mole for the other side?  Your thoughts first, Gene.

ROBINSON:  Well, the right people haven‘t come into the big room yet and taken the stage.  I mean, look, Newt Gingrich, let‘s be honest, is a long shot as a presidential candidate.  Donald Trump, you know, forget about it.  Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin, but she doesn‘t have that sort of, you know, traditional presidential campaigner aura about her.

FINEMAN:  Hey, Chris—

ROBINSON:  You know, a candidate will come along.  I just don‘t know when.  And I frankly at this point, don‘t know who.  But it ain‘t these guys.

FINEMAN:  Chris, just wait for Michele Bachmann to announce.  Then you‘ll be reassured about the big room.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  I mean, this is the strangest Thanksgiving Day float, where everybody—these gigantic floats going by and everybody‘s shooting at them.  Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, thank you, Gene Robinson, for exploring the absurdity of this Republican quest for what.

When we return, the one and only Bill Maher.  He‘s coming here to our stage.

You‘re watching HARDBALL at Exhibition (ph) Park in LA, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL (INAUDIBLE) Exposition (ph) Park in Los Angeles.  Our next guest, the host of “Real Time” on HBO, Bill Maher.  It‘s daytime, lots of sunshine.  Are you used to this?

BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO‘S “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”:  You know, I‘ve lived here for 27 years.  I‘ve never been here.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re right near the Coliseum.  Let me ask you about this story we‘re trying to get on top of tonight, this Republican—these gigantic Thanksgiving floats, these big names, you know, like Donald Trump, you know, and then‘s he gone.  And then—well, Huckabee‘s not a big one.  But Sarah Palin—

MAHER:  Huckabee is a big one.

MATTHEWS:  Is he a big one?

MAHER:  Absolutely.  That‘s who the White House thought they were going to run against.  That is the most talented politician in that party.  Whenever I had him on our show, people would say to me the next day, You know, I didn‘t agree with anything he said, but I liked him.  He was also someone who could unite the—what I called the indoor and outdoor wings of the party.


MAHER:  You know, without him, they don‘t have that.  They‘re going to have to nominate some just empty suit like Pawlenty with a frothing loon like Michele Bachmann because that‘s what they need—

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the pick (ph).

MAHER:  Right.  They will have to unite the party that way.

MATTHEWS:  They did that last time.  Did well, didn‘t they.

MAHER:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  So how do you put together the opposition party, Republican Party, regular political party to the right of the other party, with an absolute protest, “Screw you” party?  How do you put it together?

MAHER:  You‘re talking about the Tea Party?




MAHER:  Well, I thought maybe you meant the Democrats.  Well, you know, you don‘t, is the issue there.  I mean, the Republicans have done this now a couple of times.  They did it with the Christian right, took over their party for a while.  And then they have to sell out to them.  And they wind up selling out to a degree where they lose elections.

What I love about the Republicans, because I don‘t like them to win, is the fact that they have to win in Iowa.  The nominee has to—


MAHER:  Iowa is a roach motel.  I keep saying that.  Candidates crawl in, but they do not crawl out because what you have to say to win over that crowd in Iowa, the Republican evangelical base in Iowa, it does not play in the general election.

And that‘s what they—whatever candidate—and you see people—very reasonable people like a Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota—he‘s a very—


MAHER:  -- soft, mild-mannered guy.  Remember he said that thing about, you know, We have to take a golf club to the windshield of the—he compared the deficit to, like, Tiger Woods‘s wife going nuts on his car.  They have to say crazy things like that to win in Iowa, and then they spend the rest of the general election taking back what they said in the primary.

MATTHEWS:  If you ask a person whether they believe in evolution, they consider that a curveball now—

MAHER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  -- the Republicans, because that‘s perfect for Iowa.  If you say, I do believe in it, you‘re a dead man in Iowa.

MAHER:  Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey—you know who I‘m talking about, Governor Lard?


MAHER:  He‘s supposed to be the reasonable one.  I‘m from New Jersey.  We‘re not the crazy people.  He said this last week, that he did not—was not sure about evolution and that we should—

MATTHEWS:  He‘s running.

MAHER:  Exactly.  Well, I don‘t think this time, but next time.  He setting the table for a run there because you—what sort of a country is this where you can‘t cop to evolution?  I mean, global warming I can sort of understand, although not really.  If you read three things in your life, you‘d understand that it‘s really there.  But evolution?  I thought we settled this with the Scopes trial.

MATTHEWS:  Why are we—my favorite question, Bill—it‘s your territory here because of the craziness of these people.  But why do we test our medical products on animals and monkeys and guinea pigs if they‘re not somehow related to us historically?  It‘d be an absurd test.  What would they say to that?

MAHER:  I don‘t know what this is related to—

MATTHEWS:  Well, because they don‘t believe in evolution.

MAHER:  Oh, I see what you‘re saying.  Well, you know, I‘m a PETA board member, Chris.  I don‘t believe on testing on animals.


MAHER:  I love animals, I‘m not that crazy about people.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about (INAUDIBLE) let‘s talk about the—well, then you‘re perfect to talk about these guys.  Donald Trump quit.  Why‘d he quit?  Did you hear any reason?  I couldn‘t get it.

MAHER:  I think because he got a whiff of the grapeshot, as Napoleon used to say.  I had this bet with David Letterman a couple of weeks ago that he was serious.  And David said, No, he‘s not really running, it‘s just a joke.  I think he really was running because his ego I think needs the White House.  That‘s the only thing that can—

MATTHEWS:  The big one.

MAHER:  -- accommodate it, at this point.  But once people started to fire back, the White House correspondents—


MAHER:  -- I think that‘s what did it.  He sort of started to understand—

MATTHEWS:  Incoming.

MAHER:  -- yes, that when you run for office and shoot at other people, they shoot back.

MATTHEWS:  Did you see his face?  He didn‘t know whether to laugh it off or to get mad or to have a press conference afterwards.

MAHER:  Right.  And of course, you know, he‘s declared bankruptcy more times than M.C. Hammer.  This was going to come out.  All the things were going to come out.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to come back right now, more with Bill Maher coming back from outside here in Los Angeles, more with him in a minute.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL from Los Angeles.  We are back for more with Bill Maher, the host of “Real Time.”

I don‘t know whether to start—who do we start with now in this second block?  Do we start with Arnold—do we start with Arnold and Maria, or do we start with this French guy who thought he would—was very popular with this maid in New York?  Where do we start? 

MAHER:  Well, I guess Arnold looks a lot better because his was consensual. 


MAHER:  You know, if you are going after the household help, get a yes first. 


MAHER:  I think it‘s the—it‘s the moral—


MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a 10-year-old story, but it was held, as they like to say—

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS: -- embargoed, as we say in our business.

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this public—is this something we should even be talking about?

MAHER:  Well, come on.  Well, first of all, it shouldn‘t be a giant surprise.  When Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor out here—you remember this—it was only about seven years ago—I think it was something like 15 women came forward—


MAHER: -- to say he at least groped them.  Fifteen?  Even Arnold had to say, you know, where there‘s smoke, there‘s fire. 



MAHER:  I remember there was—there was film of him groping women. 

He was on some sort of a movie junket in Europe. 


MAHER:  And, I mean, when you are doing it on camera, Chris, chances are you have an illegitimate child off camera.  I‘m just saying.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You remember what Groucho Marx said?  What are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  So, let me ask you about this—this thing.  Do you think it‘s political?  I mean, the guy didn‘t do anything on public time.  He didn‘t do anything with a public employee.  It wasn‘t like Clinton.  He didn‘t lie under oath.  He told the story eventually. 

MAHER:  Are we talking about Arnold? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Arnold. 



MATTHEWS:  Is this a political story?  Does it say anything about American politics?  Can people—we went through this with Clinton, you and I.  Can you compartmentalize and say, yes, but he was great on fiscal policy, yes, he had a great foreign policy, he kept us out of war, but?  Bush, clean marriage, but a war we should not have never fought?

MAHER:  Well, you can do that, but not in America.  You can do that in sophisticated countries.  We are not one of those. 

We are a childish country.  And if somebody has their pee-pee in the news, then it is going to be the top story for a lot of people.  I mean, many people did—never accepted Bill Clinton because they said things like, if he cheats on his wife, what would he do to the country?  You know, like he is going to start working for Belgium, instead of us. 

You know, they conflate cheating in your personal life or somehow being immoral -- 


MATTHEWS:  But Clinton has turned out to be—and I was wrong on this, overinflating it in terms of a story, I think, but he did have the problem with the law, of course, in the impeachment process. 

But he has turned out to be this incredibly good guy on solving the diseases of the world, fighting malaria, fighting AIDS -- 

MAHER:  Sure.

MATTHEWS: -- doing all this great stuff in Africa.

MAHER:  And an effective president. 


MAHER:  Yes. 

I mean, we did an editorial on our show recently about—and the theme of it was, just tell me the rule, because John Edwards, for example, had a child with his mistress.  Newt Gingrich left his wife when she was on her—had cancer. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, in bad shape.

MAHER:  Newt Gingrich did the same thing.  How come John Edwards is the worst man ever, and Newt Gingrich gets to run for president?  Newt Gingrich has the moral compass—

MATTHEWS:  Because the Democrats shoot their wounded and Republicans run them next time. 

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  You know the way it works. 

You know, that‘s why I think Newt could actually—the Republican Party is a weirdly politically forgiving party of their own people.  Nixon, how many times?  Five times? 

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And Newt‘s back. 

Do you think he can actually win, Newt? 

MAHER:  No, of course not, because, first of all, people don‘t want to look at him—


MAHER: -- for very good reason. 


MAHER:  I mean, what—I mean, that‘s not often said out loud. 


MAHER:  You know, he is ugly inside, and what is not mentioned is that he is also ugly outside. 


MATTHEWS:  You know my theory about him?  He can‘t be the devil because he looks like the devil. 

MAHER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The devil is supposed to look like Marilyn Monroe.  You know that?


MAHER:  Also—also, you know, whenever people talk about Newt, the first thing out of their mouth is, yes, he has these family problems and these moral problems, but, you know, he is this brilliant man, brilliant.

MATTHEWS:  Where did that come from? 

MAHER:  I don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  The press release.

MAHER:  He is a professor. 

He is a professor of idiocy. 


MAHER:  He has never, ever been a brilliant man.  And he proved—I said this on our show last Friday.  He proved it on Sunday when he did this flip-flop you were just—just talking about. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Yes.  He was for the president‘s plan for requiring you have health insurance until Monday.

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And then he wasn‘t for it, because somebody said, do you know what you just said?  You said Obama is right.  You can‘t say he‘s right.

MAHER:  Yes.  He made the case for them—


MAHER: -- without even knowing it.  He is not a bright guy—not that America cares if you‘re a bright -- 

MATTHEWS:  How about him blaming Gregory for being some tricky—tricky, clever lefty secretly planning to get him?

MAHER:  Who? 

MATTHEWS:  David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” 


MAHER:  Oh, yes. 


MAHER:  Well, this is the—this is the Sarah Palin defense.  Katie Couric was tricking me by asking me what I read. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s a curveball. 

So, what is going to happen at the end of all this?  Obama wins next year, or you are not sure?  Because you are a prognosticator in your own way, too. 

MAHER:  Well, I certainly would bet on Obama at this point.


MAHER:  First of all, I think, by killing bin Laden, he finally won over Middle America.  And when I say Middle America, I mean white people. 


MAHER:  You know, there is nothing that says I‘m a real American more than shooting somebody in the face. 


MAHER:  Apparently, he had a license to kill stapled to the back of that birth certificate.  And that‘s what they need to hear. 


MAHER:  And—

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine if the Republicans had -- 9/11 happened on the Democrats‘ watch and they caught bin Laden? 

MAHER:  Well, that‘s—


MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine how it would have been spun?

MAHER:  That‘s what I said last week.  I said, Republicans, just tell me what you are good at, because you always run on—


MAHER: -- you‘re the party that is strong on defense and fiscally responsible. 

Well, plainly, you are not fiscally responsible.  Most of this debt that we‘re so concerned about, the Bush wars, the Bush tax cuts for the rich, the prescription drug program for old people, and the recession, which was mostly the fault of Republican deregulation—

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MAHER:  So, you are not fiscally responsible. 

And, on defense, you didn‘t get bin Laden.  Bush had seven years to get bin Laden.

MATTHEWS:  He let him go.

MAHER:  He didn‘t get him.  He got Wesley Snipes. 

MATTHEWS:  Tora Bora. 


MAHER:  Right. 


MAHER:  Nine-eleven happened on your watch, and then you attacked the wrong country. 

So, if you‘re not good at defense, and you‘re not good at—

MATTHEWS:  He got Wesley Snipes on taxes, right? 


MAHER:  That‘s what I‘m saying.

MATTHEWS:  I almost missed that one.  Yes, go ahead.


MAHER:  If you are not good at either one of these things, if you suck at the two things you are supposed to be good at that your selling points are, why are we voting for you? 

I understand why 1 percent of this country, the richest 1 percent, votes Republican.  You will have to explain to me the other 40 or 50 percent that -- 


MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re the—what—this is—the bottom line is, you are talking about the Republican Party being this party of the indoor party and the outdoor party.  The indoor party is the party of Mitt Romney and the business suits. 

MAHER:  Yes.  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  The suits, outside of the crazy people, the wild people—

MAHER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS: -- the Tea Party people. 

But there is going to be kind of a “Rosemary‘s Baby” kind of thing going on in Tampa next year. 


MATTHEWS:  They‘re going to have a father.  You‘re not sure who it was, right?  It‘s going to be—but when that baby is born, only the mother is going to love that kid, right?

MAHER:  That‘s so funny—

MATTHEWS:  Who is this nominee going to be?

MAHER:  It‘s so funny you say that. 

I used to always ask people who were strong, you know, pro-life people, what if it‘s “Rosemary‘s Baby”? 


MAHER:  What—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s the devil‘s kid.

MAHER:  I think that‘s the dilemma.  You know, like—


MAHER:  You hate abortion in every circumstance.  What if it‘s the devil?  And they would be like oh, wow.  I got to—

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re picking a point here, Bill. 

MAHER:  Yes.  I—

MATTHEWS:  So, bottom line here, is the president going to win?  And who is he going to beat?  Who is the nominee?  Come on, make a pick. 

MAHER:  Lamar Alexander. 


MAHER:  No, seriously.  They need somebody like that, who is like Huckabee, who can unite both wings. 

I mean, I think—and then I think—you know, knowing the Republican Party, who picks, like, the oldest person whose turn it is. 

MATTHEWS:  They do, who has lost many times.

MAHER:  It is like a gold watch, you know?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.     

MAHER:  So, I predict Lamar Alexander and Orrin Hatch. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, in the past 60 years, going back to ‘52 to 2004, three names are on the ticket every single time except one?  Nixon—

MAHER:  Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: -- Bush, and Dole.  One of those three names was on every single ticket.  They like the—


MAHER:  George Bush Jr. used to run on being a Washington outsider, even though his family had a key to the White House for like most of the last 30 years. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s turn over the pillow, the fresh side of the pillow.  You can‘t sleep. 

Who would you like to most like to cover on “Real Time” on Friday nights at 11:00?  Who would you most like to be the strongest candidate between now and the Iowa caucuses, I mean, get out there and really make noise against Obama?  Who would you like to cover?

MAHER:  Well, I mean, it has been a tragedy this last week for comedians—

MATTHEWS:  You lost Trump.

MAHER: -- because Huckabee—Huckabee and Trump, who had more in common than you think.  I mean, Trump was a major real estate investor, and Huckabee just added a second hole to his outhouse. 


MAHER:  So, I was looking—

MATTHEWS:  He actually bought a house in Florida.  That‘s why he‘s not running. 

MAHER:  I mean, this guy, he was going to be the country jokes.  Trump was going to be “Green Acre” jokes.  It‘s a shame.  And—

MATTHEWS:  OK, Bachmann—my hunch is, Bachmann gets in.  My hunch is, Bachmann wins the Western conference, that she gets—the Tea Partiers go crazy for her. 


MAHER: -- because I think they are over Palin.  And Bachmann is the candidate for people who find Palin too intellectual. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Bill Maher. 

MAHER:  My pleasure. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  “Real Time” Friday night.


MATTHEWS:  We will be right back with more HARDBALL.



TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

A mixed finish for stocks on more signs of a slowing economy—the Dow Jones industrials falling 68 points, the S&P 500 down a half-point, the Nasdaq up nine-tenths-of-a-point.  What a day for those last two.

Hewlett-Packard shares 7.25 percent today after that company slashed its third-quarter and full-year forecasts.  Meanwhile, Dell shares are surging after-hours on solid earnings, but weaker-than-expected revenue posted after the closing bell. 

Wal-Mart delivered better-than-expected profits, but shares slipped there on a decline in same-store sales at U.S. Wal-Marts.  And solar stocks took a beating after Trina Solar forecast shrinking profit margins on rising global inventories. 

Most homebuilders fell today on a 10.5 percent drop in April housing starts and permits.  It is just not getting better in the housing world.  And in IPO news, LinkedIn boosting its offer price to $42 and $45 a share. 

The professional networking site expected to start trading on Thursday. 

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




But my heart says no. 


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  The factors say go, but my heart says no? 

Why?  Because it rhymes? 


COLBERT:  What about, “The Republican field is a mess, so my heart says yes”? 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL from—



MATTHEWS: -- in Los Angeles. 

Mike Huckabee out of the presidential race.  Will social conservatives now rally around Michele Bachmann?  She apparently thinks so.  Jan Crawford of CBS News reports—quote—“On Sunday, sources close to Bachmann told me they really see a real opening for her and they expect her to get into the race as soon as June.”

Well, that‘s next month.  How far can Bachmann go?

For more on that, we turn to political commentator Ron Reagan, author of “My Father at 100,” and Shushannah Walshe, who is contributor to “Newsweek” and co-author of the book “Sarah from Alaska.”

Let me go to both of you now. 

I have a theory, Ron, first of all, that Michele Bachmann has a great opening here, what I call the Western conference.  The fact that Trump is out of the race, that Huckabee isn‘t in the race, Palin hasn‘t made a move yet leaves the door wide-open for Michele Bachmann to go to the Tea Party people she is a natural leader of. 

Your thoughts?

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  You‘re absolutely right there.

I mean, Trump was never a serious candidate, but Huckabee was.  And it‘s remarkable that a—that a candidate who was a front-runner in many polls now bowed out of the race, I think just because there is a lot more money to be made as a talk show host. 

But Bachmann, because of social conservative strength in Iowa, has a real shot in Iowa.  I don‘t know if she thinks she can actually win the nomination.  Maybe she is running to improve her brand, as they say. 

The problem for the Republicans is, as she improves her brand, their brand goes—takes a nosedive.  Just think of the phrase Republican presidential front-runner Michele Bachmann and you see what I mean, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think—I think that would be the case. 

What do you think, Shushannah, coming out of Iowa?  If that‘s the big test for the cultural right, and they like to nominate people like, oh, Robertson, people like that out there, would she be the front-runner with Huckabee out? 

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, THE DAILY BEAST:  You know, I think that she has a great chance in Iowa. 

I think that she has proved herself at being able to raise a ton of money.  She could use that in Iowa.  And, really, she has to win there.  After Iowa, it gets harder for her.  I think that then she would focus on South Carolina.

But I think she does have a real shot in the first caucus state of Iowa.  She would play right into evangelical Christians, as Mike Huckabee did in 2008.  Another constituency of his that are also evangelical Christians are homeschoolers. 

I was out in Iowa in 2008.  And they came out in hundreds and hundreds to see Mike Huckabee.  And those are the people that will come out to see Michele Bachmann.  They would be—they would be energized by her, by a conservative woman with similar beliefs as them.  And I think that there is a real opening for her now that Mike Huckabee is out. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I think, Ron, and I think, Shushannah, just go through the shape of the field, as they say in Massachusetts.  It defines the winner. 

Only one woman running, if Palin doesn‘t run, one woman running, only one cultural conservative, really.  I don‘t put Santorum in the front ranks here.  It seems to me that she can go out there and talk about the foster children she has raised, her own family—

WALSHE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS: -- with the family values coming out of the Midwest. 

Ron, it just seems a very good selling story, a legitimate story, if you will, to the cultural right, who care about homeschooling and things like this. 

REAGAN:  Well, I think you‘re right.  And where else do they go?  Where else do they find a home?  They‘re a significant part, of course, of the Republican Party. 

And if it‘s not Michele Bachmann, then—then who?  Who is it going to be?  But, of course, when you get away from Iowa and you get into places like the Northeast, to New York or California or places like that, the idea that humans used to ride around on dinosaurs doesn‘t play so well. 

And so Michele Bachmann is not going to play so well either. 


MATTHEWS:  Would you explain that?  Ron, explain that.

REAGAN:  Well, she‘s a creationist.

MATTHEWS:  It has something to with the age of the Bible.  Yes, she‘s a creationist, which means that—


REAGAN:  Well, she‘s a creationist.  She doesn‘t believe in evolution. 


MATTHEWS:  Explain that. 

REAGAN:  She doesn‘t believe in evolution. 

MATTHEWS:  Explain why people would be riding around on dinosaurs. 


MATTHEWS:  Here‘s the argument—

REAGAN:  Michele Bachmann doesn‘t believe in evolution.


MATTHEWS: -- that the Bible is only 6,000 years old -- 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS: -- only 6,000 years old, because there is only so many begets in the Old Testament—

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS: -- that, therefore, the Bible must have included the ages of the dinosaurs, which we know existed at some point.

REAGAN:  Yes.  

MATTHEWS:  And they would have all been living the same way. 

REAGAN:  That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS:  This question, by the way, Shushannah, is not a completely crazy question.  If you are completely a fundamentalist—and a lot of Tea Party are—and really have no time for this secular science, who really question evolution, who really believe there were seven days of creation, who really don‘t like all this modern talk, talk about the secular society, is she the winner of that crowd?  And are they doomed as presidential—as a nominating force? 

WALSHE:  You know, I do think that she really plays into that crowd perfectly. 

But there are other people.  Rick Santorum will also really focus on those voters.  But I see Michele Bachmann, with—with the—her money and the way that she does light up a crowd, that—that they will really be wooed by her.  But after Iowa, it becomes much harder. 

REAGAN:  Mm-hmm.  And, you know, one reason, Chris, it becomes—

MATTHEWS:  No.  She wins in South Carolina.  Wait a minute, guys.

You think the Republican Party is the party of the Northeast sophisticates.  The Republican Party is increasingly the party of the South, of the Baptist South, of the evangelical parts of the country.  I don‘t think you—the sophisticated Republican Party you are talking about, where are—sure, they are in the Northeast.  But they lose the votes in the general.

Shushannah, what are you talking about?  Where is the sophisticated Republican Party meet?  Where do they have their meeting?

WALSHE:  Well, I think a lot of them helped Mitt Romney raise $2.5 million yesterday.  So, I think that a lot of those people are going to help out Romney and—but you‘re right.

I mean, after Iowa, Bachmann will focus, if she does get in, on South Carolina.  And then if she wins two of the three early states, maybe she could just ride that momentum to the finish line, but I do think it gets much harder.

REAGAN:  And, Chris, you put—

MATTHEWS:  Ron, help me out here, because I know the Republican Party is increasingly the party that went nuts over Sarah Palin four years—three years ago.  They loved her at that convention.  The kinds of people that show up in primaries and show up in caucuses are the far right crowd.

REAGAN:  You‘re absolutely right.  And, listen, she could potentially win the nomination, but she can‘t win the general election.  You‘re only talking about 15 percent, maybe 20 percent of the country, who are people who, you know, don‘t believe the global warming is happening, and are homophobic bigots, and, you know, all that sort of stuff.  Those are the people that she likes, the real mouth breathers out there.

But they aren‘t the majority of the country, even the majority of the voters.  She can‘t really win and she drags the Republican Party down with her if she‘s the nominee.

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of her smart move on birtherism?  Just before it crashed as an argument among thinking people, just before the president showed his birth certificate, she was asked by George Stephanopoulos showing the old standard birth certificate he had put on for months now and years, she said, OK, he‘s a legitimate American-born president, let‘s stop it.  So, she seemed to know when to fold—

REAGAN:  Yes.  First, she tried “I will take the president‘s word for it” ploy.  That didn‘t work.  So, she had to fall back on, well, I guess that it‘s settled now.  I think she‘s a cleverer politician actually than Sarah Palin.  I think she‘d be more formidable than Palin.

MATTHEWS:  I do, too.


WALSHE:  But I think that we shouldn‘t

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Ron Reagan, thank you.  Shushannah—go ahead, Shushannah.

WALSHE:  I think we shouldn‘t forget about Sarah Palin.  I‘m sure she is watching this news and being like just anxious to get in there, especially after hearing the Huckabee news, Michele Bachmann news.  I wouldn‘t count her out yet, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What, Palin—you think Palin might give up her salary at Roger Ailes operation to run for president?

WALSHE:  I do.  I think that she is looking at Huckabee news and juts salivating.  I think that she—

REAGAN:  More fun for us.

WALSHE:  I think that—I mean, she is still making decisions -- 

MATTHEWS:  I think Sarah Palin proved herself to be—I think she‘s proven herself to be profoundly stupid.  Her inability to answer questions of Katie Couric, her inability even now to explain she ever reads anything, her absolute failure to begin studying and get serious about running for president.  She showed no effort of doing any homework or understanding of the issues like the economy or science or the world.

No effort.  And she is running for president.  I don‘t believe that it should be at all helpful to our republic.

Anyway, thank you, Ron Reagan.

REAGAN:  You bet.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Shushannah Walshe.

WALSHE:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  I hope she doesn‘t run for our good.

Up next: how do we get our kids to stay in school, speaking of Sarah Palin, and graduate?  We‘re going to talk to former FCC chairman, Michael Powell.  He‘s trying to do just that, get kids to graduate.  He‘s coming up here next.





MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Now, as part of our “Education Nation” series, let me bring in Michael Powell.  He‘s president of the National Cable Television Association.  But he‘s a co-chairman of America‘s Promise, which what we‘re talking about, which has alliances with a Grad Nation campaign through this campaign.  He‘s working to keep kids from dropping out of school.

Grad Nation, that‘s the name, right?


MATTHEWS:  So, here‘s the problem.  He owned a big city—just at north Philly the other day, at Temple—north Philly row houses, poor kids, a lot of crime problems, drug problems.  A kid, 15, 16 years old—he knows there‘s a drug trade.  He knows there‘s a business plan.  It‘s horrible but he sells drugs to the neighborhood, right?

POWELL:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  How do you compete with that kid and say, “No, I got a better idea for you, I know you‘re not an academic type, you are a regular young boy, but we will keep you in school to do” what --- how do you get that kid to think about that?

POWELL:  Yes.  It gets to what the American Dream is going to be for the information age.  How do you connect up with what‘s happening with that kid in school, what the prospects for jobs and prosperity in the information age.  And the solutions there rely under being more tech savvy, knowledge base.

But we don‘t have the world you are talking about any more where you could drop out of high school, go to Ford Motor Company, spend the next 30 years and have a home and two-car garage.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I grew up with.  That‘s gone.

POWELL:  It‘s gone.  I think it‘s gone.  And we have to complete globally with a class of kids, 25 percent of whom are dropping out of high school.  Every 26 seconds, we‘re losing a high school kid, 7,000 a day by the time the sun sets on this day we will have lost.

MATTHEWS:  What would be the biggest difference to a kid who is tough, he wants to be tougher?  The kids around the neighborhood are tougher than he is.  And he is trying to figure out how can I be a man?  I‘m talking about the boys first, then we‘ll get to the girls.  How do you tell that kid he could be a man as he proceeds to his late teenage years by studying at school?  What do you do to change things?

POWELL:  Well, I think a real man is a man who can become a citizen of the United States, take care of his family, live an honorable life, raise enough money to make sure that his kids have an opportunity to have a better life than he did.

Today, in this day and age, without high school diploma and even more

importantly really, without a prospect for college, you are two times more

likely to be unemployed.  You‘re much more likely to go to prison.  You‘re

much more likely to never earn more than $25,000 to $35,000 for the entire



MATTHEWS:  So, he may be even know that from  the older kids in the neighborhood.  He sees it going away to hard time and ruining their lives and seeing them drug attacks.  You‘re ruining other people‘s lives.  He knows this stuff, what can you bring him that‘s going to change him?  Mentoring?  Is it business opportunities?

What do you give to a kid?

POWELL:  This is why I think the country needs a radical intervention. 

It has to happen in the community.

The American Promise Initiative is to drive into local communities, first of all, with time and treasure.  At the personal level, mentorship programs, a school programs by individuals.

Businesses can come into communities.  They can provide the internship and support programs to show that kid why their education will connect up to a better future.  They can make time available for their employees, during the work day, to go out and take ownership of those school systems.  And they can help us target the 1,600 worst-performing schools in America which account for 50 percent of all dropouts in the United States.

MATTHEWS:  What kind of success have you had?

POWELL:  Well, you know, in the last two years, we brought that number down from 2,000 to 1,600, which is the number of the worst-performing schools.  Like I said, 50 percent of all dropouts come from that schools.  And if you‘re black or Hispanic, 75 percent of all dropout kid goes in that schools.

So, we‘ve seen a drop as a result of that intervention.  Part of it is school reform, which you hear Secretary Duncan and others talk about.  But our belief is that if you don‘t form the community as well as the school, it‘s all wasted.  Kids need the wraparound support.

MATTHEWS:  How do—how do you get—give me an example now of a kid, give me a model here.  Here‘s a kid, he‘s 16, he‘s thinking of dropping out.  Your program shows up.  What happens?

POWELL:  One of the things to do is try to get them involved.  You know, we are a big believer that the kid needs a support system and the kind of opportunities to take care of them not only in the classroom but outside the classroom.

So, number one, you are counting on strong curriculum, strong teacher performance.  But at 3:30, when the bell rings, what happens?  Do they have a safe place to study?  Do they have a safe place to engage in academic and intellectual activity?  Do they have a caring adult that can come in to their lives and show them that there is a better way, that there‘s a reason to believe in yourself and a reason to believe in school?

We deploy people who can bring that kind of perspective.  Are they healthy?  Making sure—you know, my kids get sick, Chris.  I will have them on antibiotics by the next morning in an upper middle class neighborhood.

A lot of these kids will lose a whole week just because they have a cold, because the mother has to take off from school, get a kid to the doctor.  The doctor is a poor system.

So, we try to bring in supports like that—health care supports right in the community, right in the schools.

MATTHEWS:  What are the cities where you have done this at?  Where does it work?

POWELL:  We‘ve done it all over the country.  We are committed to—most of the major cities you would imagine, greater urban centers, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles.  These are all cities that have many of these dropout crisis schools and we are deployed in each and every one of them.  That‘s our goal to take on all the cities that host those 1,600 schools.

MATTHEWS:  Michael Powell, it‘s a great cause.

POWELL:  Great to see you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  I look at these old neighborhoods where I grew up, used to have factory, and you can get on a subway and go work the night shift like my grand pop.  And now, they have, you know, gentrified ports, tennis court, nice restaurants, but no jobs for the working class kids, you know?

POWELL:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  And you‘re going to—that‘s the challenge, though, is that finding those jobs in the end?

POWELL:  Well, it‘s a challenge to America because I think our future is fiction without it.  If you think about it, in the next 10 years, if we lose all those dropouts that were currently on pace to, that‘s $3 trillion to the U.S. economy.  Talk about a deficit reduction plan, there it is.  Get those kids to stay in school and we‘ll solve our problems.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about your dad and mom, how we doing?  How is General Powell doing?


POWELL:  The general was as good as he‘s ever been.

MATTHEWS:  That guy could have been president of the United States 30 times.

POWELL:  Some of us are glad he‘s not.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you, Michael Powell, America‘s Promise Alliance with Grad Nation.  America‘s Promise is the responsible for our program here today in California.

When we return, we‘re going to talk to the crowd out here in Exposition Park in Los Angeles.  Be right back.




MATTHEWS:  I‘m out here in Los Angeles talking about everything.  And I want to get thoughts from people about the upcoming presidential election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to talk about Mitch Daniels‘ wife.  Can you imagine if Michelle Obama would have left her two daughters for two years, for three years like that, her two daughters?  And the Republicans would have had a field day off of that.

MATTHEWS:  I think you made your point.

You‘re tough.  What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Chris, I just think that we should give Newt the boot and I don‘t think there is a valuable candidate in the Republicans right now.  So—

MATTHEWS:  Does that break your heart?  Is that breaking your heart?


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.

What do you think?  Oh, you are chicken.  Anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Education.  I want to talk about education.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just want to see—you‘re talking about public/private partnerships, what you think people can be doing in that realm.  How we can invest communities the work that is needed in schools?

MATTHEWS:  Well, you just heard from Michael Powell.  I think the big thing is mentoring.  I think somebody who has a pretty good education and has some opportunities in life to take off five hours a week and go work with a teenaged kid, and try to introduce him to a world from his parents, not that you ever better than his parents, because parents love him in a way you can‘t.  But maybe you can introduce him to a world he doesn‘t have access to where he‘s growing up.  I think that would work.


MATTHEWS:  But also seeing a job.  The businesses step forward and say, if you graduate, even with a C, C-plus average, we got a job four.  I mean, that‘s what the drug trade is offering him, you know?  You got a job and a territory.  I mean, you got to beat that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A black president would be good for kids in terms of education, in terms of hopes for the future, a successful black family, a successful black president.  These things are very, very helpful.

MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s happening already?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It does more.  It does more to know—

MATTHEWS:  You think the sight of First Lady Michelle Obama is helpful?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Absolutely.  And so, to—that‘s what the Republicans want to kill.  They want to kill the fact that this is a successful black man that came from nothing and he -- 

MATTHEWS:  Why do they want to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because it threatens white supremacy.  See, if black people can believe they can do whatever they want to do and they don‘t have to be granted it by somebody that‘s superior to them, then that changes the game and that‘s why they want to destroy Barack Obama and put Herman Cain or Alvin Green or Flavor Flav as president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Every single mandate that the President Obama has met, they are against it.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re going to get some more here.  Sir?  Miss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I want to say how it‘s really affecting us, you know, like people don‘t really notice.  It‘s like not on the teachers, yes, they are getting—affecting us, but we are the ones being affected, you get me?

We are the children.  We are trying to learn here, you know?  Teachers, they have their education and what we are trying to hire is like more teachers.  Why—we need the teachers and, you know, instead of hiring more prison guards, when we don‘t have education.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  Thank you so much.

I wish we could stay all day with the people.  I find it fascinating because, you know, you don‘t hear a lot of this for the establishment thinking.  Anyway, it‘s great to be out here, at Exposition Park.

I want to thank America‘s Promise for doing a great job of helping kids who don‘t have m many people helping them.  They have parents but they need some other help to get through school and graduate.  That‘s the name of the game.

HARDBALL, glad to be out here in L.A.  Thank you so much.





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