Guests: Chris Cillizza, Michael Steele, Jonathan Alter, Hampton Pearson, Ben Smith, Jennifer Granholm, Sam Stein, Douglas Brinkley
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is there room in the House for Anthony Weiner?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: The heat goes on. The beat goes on. As of right now, 10 Democrats have called for Anthony Weiner to resign from the House. My question now, when are the Democratic leaders going to get in the game and say, This has to stop? Where‘s Pelosi? Where‘s Hoyer? Weiner insisted again today he‘s not going to resign himself. Who‘s going to blink first, him or the leaders?
Also, ghost ship. Newt Gingrich‘s top aides have abandoned ship, leaving a campaign that may be dead. No one‘s there but him. Did they finally realize Newt didn‘t really want to run for president, just show off at the debates?
Plus, Rush versus Romney. This is big. It took nothing more than this sensible statement from Mitt Romney that global warming is real and humans are contributing to it, for Rush Limbaugh to declare him bye-bye-ville, nomination over. Manmade global warming is a hoax. This is all Rush Limbaugh. It‘s just one more example of the Republican attack on science, the rubes versus college kids.
And don‘t know much about history, Paul Revere warning British that the NRA is coming? U.S. forces storming the beaches of Normandy to oppose President Obama‘s health care plan? Tonight‘s lessons in revisionist Republican history.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with a message for those on the hard right who can‘t remember history.
Let‘s begin with Congressman Weiner. “The Washington Post‘s” Chris Cillizza is a hotshot MSNBC political analyst. And Ben Smith writes for Politico. I‘m saying all this to build you guys up because you are really smart about politics. You work it all day long. You know what‘s going on.
Today, a reporter said to Weiner, You said you‘re not planning on resigning. Weiner said, I‘m not. That‘s latest word from him.
Anything more on that, Chris? And when is the leadership—Jim Clyburn said the caucus will act. When‘s this going to come to a boil and end this?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know,
Chris, I think it‘s kind of a “Oh, should I go first or maybe you should go
first?” What the leadership wants is for Anthony Weiner to say, You know
what? It‘s time for me to exit stage right. Now, that doesn‘t mean that‘s
what they‘re going to get. Yesterday, Allyson Schwartz from Pennsylvania -
Chris, I know you know her, from the Mainline there—
MATTHEWS: She‘s a good congressman.
CILLIZZA: She‘s good. She‘s the recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She put out a statement saying he should resign. This is not your run-of-the-mill statement. Lots—as you said, 10 people have called -- 10 members have called on him to resign. This is seen and was meant to send a signal to Anthony Weiner that the leadership of the party does not want him around. Now—
MATTHEWS: Can you report that, Chris?
CILLIZZA: (INAUDIBLE) take that message—
MATTHEWS: Is that your interpretation, that she speaks for them, or can you report that?
CILLIZZA: It‘s my interpretation based on reporting, Chris. See, I‘m not just—I talked to folks who said—
MATTHEWS: OK, gotcha. Gotcha.
CILLIZZA: -- this is the situation. One other quick thing to remember. Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation into Anthony Weiner about five minutes after Anthony Weiner finished that press conference. Again, we‘re reading the tea leaves here, but the signals are very clear.
MATTHEWS: OK, they‘re trying to do it (INAUDIBLE) jump, jump. Is that your reading, Ben Smith? Are they saying, Jump, jump? You make the move, so we don‘t have to?
BEN SMITH, POLITICO.COM: I mean, you know, the dynamic is, you know,
Don‘t make us call for you to resign. But it‘s—I think he—what he‘s
saying is he‘s not going to quit, and they can‘t make him. I mean, that‘s
that‘s where things stand right now. He‘s sending that signal very clearly. I mean, I think he‘s surrounded by Clintons and he‘s probably to some degree hearing from them, you know, This too shall pass, everything passes. And if you looked at that video today, I mean, I think you could read in his body language that he thinks the worst of it is over, in a certain way, that he‘s staying.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you have anything to report—I‘ve heard the same buzz you have, that the Clinton people, whoever they are, particularly—we know generally who they are. They‘re people around the secretary of state and the president. And of course, his wife, Weiner‘s wife, works for the secretary of state. But do we have any evidence that he‘s getting signals from the former president?
SMITH: No, I mean—
MATTHEWS: That he should stick it out.
SMITH: You know, no. He—he spoke to the former president—I mean, I think, you know, likely—
MATTHEWS: He did? When was that? When was that? I‘m sorry.
SMITH: That was reported yesterday that he spoke to the former president. But I mean, I think, you know, what I‘m hearing out of Clinton-land is that they are very much with Human more than with him, with his wife, and—but that, you know, if she wants him to stay, they‘re going to support that.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to—
MATTHEWS: Here‘s a pollster situation. I don‘t know about these polls. People tend to support their own congressman always. But this is pretty good. It‘s a new New York One—it‘s a new—brand-new New York One Marist poll of registered voters in Weiner‘s own district out there that borders, you know, between Queens and Brooklyn. It shows 56 percent, a sound majority, say, Don‘t quit.
Your thoughts, Chris, on the significance of that?
CILLIZZA: Well, the significance of that is Anthony Weiner can point to every donor and every party activist and every member of Congress privately who‘s saying, Hey, Anthony step aside, and say, There‘s no reason to. Almost 6 in 10 of my constituents want me to stay.
Look, he does not have a terrible argument, which is he was elected by the people. He‘s going to serve out the term he was elected to, and then they can decide.
You know, I think what might happen here—and Ben (INAUDIBLE) this -
and I would say, Chris, Ben is—is the top—the par excellence of reporters political, but especially in New York. He knows what‘s going on. He hinted at this.
They don‘t want to push him to some kind of caucus vote, where they expel him. They want him to leave. They don‘t want to have to take that action. The question is, if it strings along, strings along, strings along, and more kind of pictures, innuendo, things that just keep churning this up, death by a thousand cuts politically, are they forced into doing what I don‘t think they actually want to do—
MATTHEWS: OK, here—
SMITH: How can it get worse, though, really?
MATTHEWS: Ben, listen to these and see if these don‘t make a point. Here are two other—two former chairs of the Democratic National Committee talking about him resigning. Let‘s listen to both of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yesterday, I said he hadn‘t done anything to hurt anybody by himself and perhaps his terrific wife. But I think this picture puts him over the limit. I think he‘s got no choice now but to resign.
TIM KAINE (D-VA), FMR. GOV., FMR. DNC CHAIR: Lying publicly about something like this is unforgivable and he should resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to this whole question—now, there are a lot of options for getting him out of there. Ben, you‘ve been crowned the expert. And by the way, I‘ve loved your print reporting. I do actually read you in hard copy every morning.
SMITH: Flattery will get you everywhere.
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope it does because I want some truth here, some more reporting you haven‘t gotten in your paper yet. It seems to me there‘s a number of options here. He could say he has—and I don‘t know anything about this—he has a clinical problem. And a lot of people will give him a break at that point and say, Let him go check with a specialist and see if that‘s the case, and maybe people will say he wasn‘t completely in control of his faculties. I don‘t know that stuff, but maybe he could do that. That might get the heat off.
They could censure him. They could simply have a vote of—a quick vote of the Ethics Committee. He could submit to it, by the way, and say, Let‘s get the heat (ph) over (ph). OK, guys, censure me. Gerry Studds went through that and served for 20 more years. Censure me, get me out of your complaint basket. You‘ve dealt with me. But I‘m going to stick it out as a member because it‘s up to my constituents. Would that work, Ben?
SMITH: I mean, I think he would probably accept that. You know, I mean, I think—I think the leadership probably does not want to bring to a head a vote to expel him, and it‘s going to put a lot—
MATTHEWS: No, a censure. Censure is not expulsion.
SMITH: Right. No, absolutely. I think that‘s sort of a, you know, relatively easy way out. I think a lot of people think he may well lose his district in redistricting this year, but that‘s not a sure thing, either. I mean, you know, remember Larry Craig. Everybody said that he was going to resign. It was absolutely assumed. He just didn‘t. He refused to. And I‘m sure Anthony Weiner looks at that and said, You know what? He served out his term.
MATTHEWS: You know, he served out his term is almost good enough, if he gets a censuring and quits at the end of the term, but all he does is make more—a few more bucks that way. I have a feeling he‘s not going to quit and I—
CILLIZZA: Well, Chris—
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts? What‘s your hunch on this, that this guy can just take it?
CILLIZZA: You know, I always say it‘s kind of like living in a house. You don‘t have to pay your mortgage for a long time before the bank actually comes and gets you out of there. It‘s—it‘s hard to get a member of Congress to leave if they do not want to leave and they have not clearly violated laws. I mean—
MATTHEWS: Unless you‘re on the wrong end of the Civil War, it‘s is pretty hard to expel somebody.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at this. By the way—
CILLIZZA: And if he doesn‘t want to go—
CILLIZZA: -- going to be tough.
MATTHEWS: We haven‘t heard from Pelosi, the leader. We haven‘t heard from the number two person, Steny Hoyer of Maryland. But I did talk to Jim Clyburn today, the number three leader in the House, and he said the caucus will act. You know, I think that‘s a statement. Something‘s coming. He didn‘t say what the schedule was but he says they‘re going to do something.
Here‘s the first sentence, by the way, of the House ethics manual. And I think all members should take a look at this once in a while when they‘re about to tweet. “Members, officers and employees of the House should conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects credibly on the House.”
So you go out to a bar at night and you start chatting up people, you got to remember you‘re a member of the House. You‘re always a member of the House. You got to—if you‘re an anchorman, you got to remember that.
Chris Cillizza, can they simply hit him on this without going through three months of testimony and hearings and this blather and say he has obviously hurt the credibility of the House, he has to go? Could they actually have a vote of the caucus or the House and do that?
CILLIZZA: Well, I think they would have to have a full House vote to do that, though it‘s not as though Republicans would not vote for him to be expelled. The question, I think, Chris—and you bring up censure. I think it‘s a good point. The question is, would that be enough? You know, we‘re not just dealing with internal caucus, Democratic caucus politics, we‘re also talking about public perception.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
CILLIZZA: What does this say about the Democratic Party? Is censuring him enough? Would people then say, OK, he‘s been reprimanded, and let‘s move on? And we don‘t know if that would be enough, and neither do the people contemplating this.
MATTHEWS: OK, you got to the very point I want to get to, which is the issue of politics. If you‘re a Blue Dog Democrat from a conservative culturally part of the country, where you‘re fighting out every election with 2 or 3 points to spare, if you‘re a—if you‘re are Matheson from Utah or you‘re from Oklahoma and you‘re a Boren—and he‘s leaving Congress—your life‘s getting difficult enough defending the East Coast and the left coast Democratic Party. They‘re too far left. Look at what happened in Arkansas last year. It‘s getting very, very hard to defend the behavior politically of the party.
Now you throw on top of that immoral behavior, indiscrete behavior, embarrassing behavior, gross behavior like this, and you still have him in your midst. And that‘s my question of you. If you‘re Steny Hoyer, who does speak for the Blue Dogs, if you‘re Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker, who has to deal with them, don‘t you have to deal with the fact—you‘re losing any chance of getting back a 218 majority?
I want you to pick this up, Ben. This is, to me, the stakes here. If he stays, they never get the leadership back. They never get the speakership back because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian conservative culturally—you can say backward if you want, but they don‘t like this kind of stuff at all. They‘re not part of that 56 percent in Brooklyn and Queens who say, OK, we can live with this guy. Your thoughts, Ben? Isn‘t that the cutting edge of this?
SMITH: You know, I think it‘s June of 2011. I think if it was June of 2012, that would be absolutely true. They would be, you know, riding him out of town on a rail. They‘d be getting him out any way they could. But I think right now, they‘re going to lose a few weeks, but I‘m not sure you can say a year-and-a-half from now that this is going to be the absolute (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Aren‘t the ads already being written?
SMITH: They‘re being written. I‘m sure they‘ll be run. But I just think a lot‘s going to happen between now and then.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m asking you, does this put pressure on the leadership to step in, call Bill Clinton and say, Stop defending this guy, stop encouraging him to run? There‘s a lot of Clinton people—your thoughts, Chris. There‘s a lot of Clinton people in the House, maybe a majority, who like Bill Clinton and will call him up and say, I sense you guys are circling the wagons. That‘s not helping us here. Your thoughts.
CILLIZZA: I would say two things. One, I don‘t know that the Clinton folks are circling the wagons. I think there‘s a lot of disparate kind of contrarian reporting on that. I‘m not sure—
MATTHEWS: OK. Good.
CILLIZZA: Ben mentioned earlier that the Clinton people—
MATTHEWS: I like that.
CILLIZZA: -- are more behind Huma, and that‘s what my reporting shows, too, and that‘s what every—
CILLIZZA: -- (INAUDIBLE) suggests.
MATTHEWS: Just rooting for him as a human being.
CILLIZZA: Second, I would say—I think Ben is also right in saying we don‘t know about whether Weiner is going to be—in this whole scandal is going to be something that impacts 2012. But what I would say, Chris, is, what were we talking about two weeks ago, a week ago? Medicare, Paul Ryan, the special election loss—
MATTHEWS: That‘s gone now.
CILLIZZA: -- of the Republicans in that conservative seat. We‘re not talking about it. Now, we may get back to it, but what it‘s done is taken what was a very good end of May for the Democratic Party and turned it into not a great early June for the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
CILLIZZA: And that doesn‘t mean that they‘re going to win or lose next November.
CILLIZZA: But you want to build momentum, and this hasn‘t helped.
MATTHEWS: OK. And it‘s very—they were—by the way, it was a hard reach to get to 218, to get the majority back. I think this makes it much harder to get that 218, it‘s been reported. Thank you, guys. I think you‘re right. We‘re being careful here. We‘ll see. Thank you, Ben Smith, and thank you, Chris Cillizza, both great reporters.
Coming up: How‘s this for a headline? Senior aides of Gingrich on his campaign all the way to the top of his campaign have quit en mass, surprising him, apparently. This the mutiny on the Bounty here. I don‘t know what‘s happened. I‘ve never seen this happen before. The Associated Press just reported that. We‘ll get to the full story in a minute.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Wow, talk about gross (ph). Tim Pawlenty‘s (INAUDIBLE) a campaign co-chair in the crucial primary state of South Carolina. Guess who? It‘s U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson. Remember him? Pawlenty‘s campaign press release called Wilson a, quote, “strong conservative voice for the people of South Carolina.” Well, he‘s not so high-toned. Ironically, or logically, it‘s Wilson‘s voice that‘s perhaps best known around the country. He‘s the guy who yelled out, “You lie” at President Obama during a presidential address before a joint session of Congress. There‘s an admirable thing to do.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The top advisers on Newt Gingrich‘s presidential team, including his campaign manager, his spokesman and two top strategists, all quit today, all quit in one moment. Gingrich‘s now former spokesman, Rick Tyler, told “The Washington Post,” quote, “When a campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they‘ve got to part ways.” Well, that‘s rather antiseptic.
Gingrich responded to the quitting on Facebook with, quote—here‘s Newt—“I am committed to running the substantive solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”
So can Gingrich campaign without a campaign? That‘s the question.
MSNBC political analysts Michael Steele and Jonathan Alter are here.
Jon, I‘ve never taken him seriously. I think he just wants to show off at the debates, show off he has a high IQ, with a kind of, well, radical, sometimes interesting mind, but not the kind of guy that‘s going to lead troops into battle. I don‘t think he ever meant to run. I don‘t think he wants to put a grass roots campaign together, he wants to show up on TV. Fair enough. But he should be a commentator, not a candidate.
Does this mean anything more than his team figured it out after his two-week trip to the Greek islands after the embarrassing start of his campaign?
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think you‘re absolutely right. Look, this is a guy—
MATTHEWS: Well, everything I said is right?
ALTER: Pretty much, on this one. Normally, I‘ll go after you on things.
ALTER: But on this one, I don‘t think it‘s all that complicated. I mean, this is a guy who thinks that he can campaign in an unorthodox way, but he‘s not Sarah Palin, you know? He doesn‘t have that hold over a part of the base of the Republican Party. He‘s always a sucker for the latest techno idea, whether it‘s nanotechnology or other things like that. And I think in this case, he believes that he can, you know, use social networking and other such tools to campaign from the Mediterranean, if necessary.
Meanwhile, he‘s got a crackerjack staff, with some very good operatives like Dave Carney (ph), who realize you got to put a real campaign together. You know, this isn‘t a joke. And they were in the process of trying to put those pieces into place, and they didn‘t have a candidate who was going to cooperate. On top of which, he had these horrible gaffes with the Tiffany‘s, of course, the problem—
MATTHEWS: I think they‘re more than gaffes.
ALTER: -- with Paul Ryan‘s plan.
MATTHEWS: They‘re life. It‘s his life. Here‘s “Washington Post‘s” reporting on the subject. “Among the issues leading to the resignation”—and by the way, his entire staff quit today—“according to knowledgeable sources, was that the two-week vacation that Gingrich and his wife, Callista, insisted upon taking against the advice of his top political staff, coming as it did right after one of the most disastrous campaign launches in recent history. It raised questions as to whether Gingrich would be willing to commit time to the grass roots,” said his top guy.
You know, Michael, this is the same in both parties. You either going to go out there and do the hard work of putting together an organization, the scut work, or you just want to go on vacation and buy jewelry.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think—you know, I don‘t know about the “buy jewelry” part—
MATTHEWS: Oh, I do! He owes $250,000 to half a million bucks for jewelry.
STEELE: He doesn‘t owe anything on that. That‘s all paid off and that account is clear.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
STEELE: But the reality, I think you—you do you start with some basically good points about the campaign and how it started out.
And the question for—for Newt right now, is, is he really prepared
to hunker down and run the kind of traditional campaign, if you will, that
at least in the beginning, that is going to be required to get the grassroots behind him, to get the organization in place, and to be able to then lift that message that he is very good at delivering beyond the den of Washington and all the crazy noise that we sometimes hear from folks like you.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know, and, by the way, anybody who has worked in politics knows you get involved with family fights, with the family fighting with the staff.
STEELE: Right. Right. Right. That‘s part of it.
MATTHEWS: Because both are demanding on his time.
Jon, it is always tricky to get in it, but this is fair game, because
because this is an issue where there is somebody put—leaking the word that his staff said, you can‘t take a two-week vacation after you have blown the whole campaign, to the Greek Isles, nonetheless.
But apparently his spouse, Callista, wanted to go. They had it planned. I can understand that. You have your tickets. You need the break.
But here is Newt getting hammered on another issue of family life, the half-a-million dollar bill at Tiffany, which he has paid off to the satisfaction of Michael.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, “FACE THE NATION”: You owed between $250,000 and $500,000 to a jewelry company. What was that about, Mr. Speaker.
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all it was about obeying the law.
SCHIEFFER: Did you owe a half-million dollars to a jewelry company at one point?
GINGRICH: We had a resolving fund.
SCHIEFFER: Well, what does that mean?
GINGRICH: That means that we had a revolving fund, that it was a—
SCHIEFFER: Who buys a half-million dollars worth of jewelry on credit?
GINGRICH: No. You—it‘s—it‘s a—go talk to Tiffany‘s.
SCHIEFFER: It‘s very odd to me that someone would run up a half-million-dollars bill at a jewelry store.
GINGRICH: Well, go—go talk to Tiffany‘s.
SCHIEFFER: I mean, you‘re running for president.
SCHIEFFER: You‘re going to be the guy in charge of the Treasury department. And it just—it just sticks out like a sore thumb.
GINGRICH: OK. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s my proof.
you know, Jon, you‘re an historian and a journalist. Michael here is a commentator now, but I got to tell you something. The key to journalism, I believe, is the willingness to ask the question four times, because—
MATTHEWS: -- because in each—each iteration there, Newt became more flustered, because he had zero to answer. He had to go home and check on this before he said a word. What—how do you run up a half-million in jewelry? I mean, I don‘t know what you buy.
What is he talking about?
MATTHEWS: And then he heads off to—
ALTER: Ask your wife. Ask your wife, Chris. They can figure out what to buy. But—
MATTHEWS: No, I got to tell you something. I‘m fairly generous, but that looks like eye-popping to me, I have got to tell you, insanely eye-popping.
ALTER: There‘s plenty to buy, but not if you are intending to run for president of the United States.
He is oblivious to the appearances that are required for this kind of thing. Look at his checkered sexual and marital history. It is, you know, completely impossible to be elected president with that on his record. He thinks that he will go into these debates..
MATTHEWS: You mean three is a—you think three is a deal-breaker?
ALTER: Of course. He thinks he is going to go into these debates and be the smartest guy there and blow everybody away with his intellect. And that‘s why you will see him next week at this first GOP debate.
STEELE: But I think—I get the, you know—
MATTHEWS: You think we could have a television show called “The Newt Gingrich Wives Club”?
STEELE: No. Please, stop it.
STEELE: Stop it.
Look, the reality of it is, I think for a lot of voters that stuff does not matter at the end of the day.
MATTHEWS: Oh, it doesn‘t?
ALTER: Oh, come on.
STEELE: I don‘t think they care whether he is married two times or three times. I really don‘t believe that.
Look, you are seeing even in the case, right, that we are dealing with that you just opened the show with that 51, 52 percent of voters in his district, in Weiner‘s district, support him. So, while you may call for his resignation and everybody else may call for his resignation, it is the people out there --
STEELE: -- that matters.
MATTHEWS: Eddie Rendell last and Tim Kaine, the two former chairs of the party, did. Jim Clyburn says the caucus is going to act -- 10 members have come forward, two senators, eight members of the House.
STEELE: That‘s great. But do they live in his district? And did they vote him into office?
MATTHEWS: No, but they are trying to stay in their districts.
MATTHEWS: Here is Newt Gingrich‘s—or Newt‘s odyssey last month on the House Republicans‘ budget. Let‘s watch him. You talk about a team player.
You were a team player, Michael. Let‘s catch this guy‘s act. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I don‘t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.
So, there are things you can do to improve Medicare—
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare?
GINGRICH: I think that—I think that is too big a jump.
GINGRICH: I made a mistake. And I called Paul Ryan today, who is a very close personal friend, and I said that. The fact is that I have supported what Ryan has tried to do on the budget.
And, by the way, it was not a reference to Paul Ryan. There was no
reference to Paul Ryan in that answer.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, then what did you apologize to him about?
Gingrich Because it was interpreted in a way which was—which was causing trouble, which he doesn‘t need or deserve, and was causing the House of Republicans trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here is a guy, Jon, who starts the week off by trashing Paul Ryan. He‘s calling it right-wing social engineering. By the way, David Gregory did a hell of a job exposing this insane independence of this guy.
Then, on the next day, he said—he changed his mind. He did this abject 180 bowing and slinking around, saying he didn‘t really mean a word he said. And then, on Tuesday, he said, I wasn‘t talking about Paul Ryan.
That‘s the behavior of a crazy person. But your thoughts.
ALTER: Although, at the beginning, in that first comment, Chris, the thing that makes it interesting to me is, he was telling the truth. It is right-wing social engineering. It is radical, as he said in another sound bite.
So, he was just explaining that voucherizing or privatizing Medicare is out of the mainstream and will not be acceptable to the American people. He is absolutely right about that.
But, again, this obliviousness meant that he handed the Democrats a huge cudgel to use in the 2012 election. This is way more important than Tiffany‘s, because you can almost write the ads yourself.
MATTHEWS: Yes, even Newt Gingrich.
ALTER: The Democrats will say, even Newt Gingrich says that the Republican plan is radical and out of the mainstream.
MATTHEWS: But in the “Alice in Wonderland” world of the Republican Party these days, when you speak the truth, you sound like you‘re off-base.
STEELE: I don‘t know about all that.
MATTHEWS: Last word, Michael.
STEELE: No, I was going to say, look, we will see what Newt does on -
when he‘s out in Los Angeles, how he tries to recover, and if he can.
And I think now is the time to hunker down—
MATTHEWS: Has he got a shot at the presidency?
STEELE: He‘s got—everyone has a shot. Now, whether or not they actually hit the target, that‘s a whole different conversation.
MATTHEWS: Everybody has got a shot?
STEELE: Yes, everybody has got a shot, even you.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
No, I don‘t.
Thank you very much. But you do, Michael. Get back in there—
Michael Steele, who has a shot at the presidency.
STEELE: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a lead for tomorrow.
Jonathan Alter, thank you, sir, as always, a great historian.
MATTHEWS: Up next: not so fast, why Donald Trump may still run for president. He‘s still teasing out there. I don‘t know. I guess he can get some more out of this. That‘s ahead in the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
He should write a book about his worst business decision in history, running for president.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And time for the “Sideshow “ tonight.
Well, first up, the Herman Cain crazy train. In March, the Tea Party favorite and Godfather‘s Pizza magnate said he would be uncomfortable appointing a Muslim to his administration.
Well, yesterday, on “Glenn Beck,” Cain backtracked a bit, saying that he would simply require—he would simply require an oath of loyalty from a Muslim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GLENN BECK”)
HERMAN CAIN ®, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was asked, would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your Cabinet, and I said, no, I would not be comfortable—
GLENN BECK, HOST, “GLENN BECK”: Are you saying that it is—that Muslims have to prove there—there has to be some loyalty proof --
CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.
BECK: Well, would do you that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?
CAIN: No. No, I wouldn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Mr. Cain, actually, to inform you on this point
it‘s a small point—but, in this country, we call that discrimination, pure and simple.
By the way, every federal appointee by the president has to take an oath of office to the Constitution with regard to—not—regardless of race, color, creed, whatever.
Next, brace yourselves. Donald Trump is talking about running for president again, this time as a third-party, of course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: It is really sad, what is happening with the Republicans.
Now, I‘m a very staunch conservative, but when I look at what they have done, it‘s going to be very hard for them to win. I‘m watching very carefully. If the wrong person is nominated, you watch what happens with Donald Trump and what he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, talking about yourself in the third person is a practice previously engaged primarily by Bob Dole and Julius Caesar. I think we know which one Donald considers his equal.
Anyway, finally, Alec Baldwin enters stage left. With Anthony Weiner presumably out of the race for New York mayor, the “30 Rock” star and longtime Democratic activist is hinting he might make the big run for mayor. So, will he or won‘t he?
Well, Baldwin, a longtime great teaser, by the way, wrote in Twitter, “It‘s a long way until November of 2013.” There‘s a tease.
Now to the “Big Number” tonight for us.
Can Congressman Anthony Weiner hold on to his job as congressman?
Well, the odds makers over in Dublin at Intrade.com made their verdict. They say there‘s a 46 percent chance that Weiner leaves by October of this year, 46 percent. It looks like the odds are still he stays, tonight “Big Number,” bad number.
Coming up: Rush Limbaugh says Mitt Romney can kiss the Republican nomination goodbye. Why? Because Mitt Romney said he is for global warming. He says it is real and humans are contributing to it. He believes in it. He believes in science. Republicans on the right hate science, remember? Certainly, Rush does. That‘s ahead, the battle between the college guys and the rubes.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
An upbeat international trade report helping stocks snap a six-day losing streak, the Dow gaining 75 points, the S&P and the Nasdaq adding nine-and-a-half each.
A fairly broad-based rebound today, with energy, materials and financial stocks leading the charge and agricultural stocks getting a boost from the USDA‘s monthly crop report.
But the big economic story of the day, a surprise narrowing of the trade deficit in April as exports soared to a record $46.8 billion. Corn futures were trading near all-time highs as the USDA reported tightening supplies and surging demand. And that lifted related shares like heavy equipment, fertilizers, and farming-oriented financial firms.
Finally, on the tech front, Texas Instruments cuts its earnings and revenue forecasts and blamed it on a major client, Nokia—this as Nokia‘s chief technology officer announced an indefinite leave of absence.
That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
At a town meeting in New Hampshire just last week, Mitt Romney was asked by a voter about his stance on global warming. Here is what the former governor of Massachusetts had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the world is getting warmer. I can‘t prove that. But I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.
And, number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don‘t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there has been—there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past. But I believe that we contribute to that.
And so I think it is important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you‘re seeing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: An astounding admission of science by a Republican. Just a few days later, Rush Limbaugh, no defender of science, as a result of those comments by Governor Romney, declared his candidacy dead.
Let‘s listen to Rush Limbaugh declaring the end of the Romney effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)
LIMBAUGH: Bye-bye, nomination. Bye-bye nomination, another one down.
We‘re in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of manmade global warming is a hoax. And we still have presidential candidates who want to buy into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, has the GOP litmus test gone too far? Do they shun candidates with educated thoughts and beliefs about science?
Jennifer Granholm joins us. She‘s by the former governor of Michigan.
And Sam Stein is the White House correspondent for the Huffington Post.
Governor, I think the Republican that I grew up with, which included people who were moderate to liberal and some conservatives—it was balanced—believed in science. It was an educated party. It didn‘t fight science. It didn‘t believe in fundamentalism. It didn‘t believe in the seven days of creation. It didn‘t oppose evolution.
This party is getting to be a rube party, a party that if you show any education, any sense of science, if you took biology in school, you‘re off-base. What do you make of Mitt Romney, who grew up as a moderate Republican family out of Michigan, now being basically kicked out of the party by Rush Limbaugh?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Well, Rush Limbaugh, I think—I have got too much respect—but I‘m a Democrat, but I have too much respect for the Republican Party to say that Rush Limbaugh speaks for all of Republicans.
Rush Limbaugh is in his game to make money and to be controversial. I just think he is a bloviator off to the right.
I respect Mitt Romney for actually saying what the overwhelming body of science says, which is, of course, that human activity is contributing to climate change.
What I—what I don‘t respect, though, Chris—and Mitt Romney was here in Michigan today—is that he continues to flip-flop on other issues, for example, the auto bailout. Now he is claiming credit for having rescued or suggested the rescue of the auto industry, when, in fact, he penned this op-ed in November of 2008 -- and we thought he wasn‘t ever going to dare set to foot in Michigan again—saying, let Detroit go bankrupt and don‘t help the auto industry by giving them loans.
And, of course, look what has happened. And they have been very successful, thanks to the Obama administration‘s intervention. So, his flip-flopping, I think, is much more damaging. And I think that the majority of the Republicans, normal Republicans, understand the importance of science.
MATTHEWS: Well, Sam, his latest flip-flop is not to flip-flop.
MATTHEWS: That‘s how he changed. He doesn‘t flip-flop on things like
MATTHEWS: -- health care bill over—up in Massachusetts. And he won‘t flip any more on this.
But as the governor points out, he has continued to flip on a number of issues like the auto bailout and things like that, the auto recovery, I should say.
STEIN: I thought it was funny that in the same post article today that we are talking about, there was a Romney advisor who would only go on the record or who would not go on the record go and say anonymously that he said this because he had the courage and conviction to say it. Why you have to say that anonymously into “Washington Post” when you‘re praising your boss? Yes, he wants to establish a reputation for being someone more stern and consistent.
MATTHEWS: Now, let‘s look at Rick Santorum who‘s making a comeback here. Here‘s Rick Santorum following up—I had to disagree with you, Governor, because I do think Rush Limbaugh is the most powerful voice on the right now. These guys steering back in their corner when this guy challenges them. It happens time and again. We‘ll see what this governor does, your former fellow governor, Romney, says here.
Here‘s Santorum, the former senator of Pennsylvania, going on Rush to defend Rush and attack Romney. Here he is on that show. Let‘s listen to his thoughts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): I believe the Earth gets warmer and I also believe the Earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that. And that it—the idea that man through the production of CO2, which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and manmade part of that trace gas, is itself a trace gas, is somehow responsible for climate change is—I think just fatally absurd.
To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create—it‘s a beautifully concocted scheme because I know the Earth is going to cool and warm. And so, it‘s been on warming trend, they say, “Let‘s take advantage of that and say we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it‘s getting warmer.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What is the view in your state of Michigan, Governor, about the—I would call it climate change, not global warming because we‘ve watched a lot of crazy weather lately. I don‘t know if this is evidence over time. But I didn‘t think this was controversy in the scientific community. I believe science says we have a problem with greenhouse gasses. What‘s your view?
GRANHOLM: There‘s not even a question. I mean, Chris, the scientific community is almost unanimous. It‘s the overwhelming body of evidence clearly says that human action contributes to CO2 emission to greenhouse gasses and therefore to climate change.
But I do think that polls that have shown recently in America that Republicans, independents and even Tea Partiers would like to see, a national policy which reduces—which in fact encourages conservation, encourages the use of renewable and alternative energy. If you poll Tea Partiers and the Pew Organization did this recently, 63 percent of the Tea Partiers say that they would like it see a policy that encourages renewable energy and energy efficiency. Seventy-five percent of Republicans believe that.
So, I don‘t think that saying we ought to be adopting a policy that encourages us to focus on renewable energy, et cetera, is at all controversial in either the Democratic or the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Jennifer Granholm and Sam Stein.
I just want to say, this is why the Republicans don‘t want any journalist moderating debates because they raise these questions of the evolution and these fundamental questions you believe in science and these yahoos do not want those questions. Last time we had a debate I moderated and John Harris asked them, do you believe in evolution. Three of these chuckleheads came out and said they don‘t believe in evolution. I‘m sorry, that‘s what they‘re embarrassed by. They‘re a party that have crazy people on the closet, over in the right, and are exposed this way.
Up next, we heard so much mangled history from the high profile Republicans like Sarah—where do they get (ph) this history, it is insane what they‘re talking about. Rick Perry—let‘s have a secession. Michele Bachmann—you can‘t keep a list whatever she says.
We‘re going to have some history lesson coming up here and we‘re going to talk about why these people keep distorting our American history to make their NRA points, et cetera.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Despite all the noise she generated on that bus tour of hers, Sarah Palin‘s own party doesn‘t want her in the presidential race. This is surprising stuff. A new CBS poll shows a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, say they don‘t want Palin to run for president. That‘s strong. Only a third of Republicans say she should get into the race.
Now, among Tea Partiers, the number who don‘t want Palin to run is up there about the same, about 50 percent don‘t want her to run among Tea Partiers.
The overall voter feeling—only a quarter of American voters want her to run for president. It‘s one in four.
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
Shouldn‘t presidential candidates and perspective candidates have a firm grasp of American history? Would you think so? But many on the Republican side, from Sarah Palin to Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and to Michele Bachmann are getting it painfully wrong.
And presidential historian and author Doug Brinkley is here to help set them right on history. He‘s going to give us a history lesson I don‘t think most of you need, but the candidates do. By the way, Doug Brinkley is a great historian. His latest effort is this great book of Ronald Reagan, it‘s called “Ronald Reagan: The Notes,” which has all those three-by-five cards we‘ve heard about all these years, right out there for you.
Doug, thank you so much for joining us. Just to get started, we don‘t have much time. Here is Sarah Palin‘s infamous take on Paul Revere‘s midnight ride. Let‘s take a listen.
DOUG BRINKLEY, HISTORY: OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: He who warned us, the British that they weren‘t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure in riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, if Sarah Palin maintains, Doug, that she didn‘t get it wrong in Revere and here she is with her follow-up defending her false vision of history and turning Revere‘s ride into a National Rifle Association TV commercial. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, hey, you‘re not going to succeed, you‘re not going to take American arms, you are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have. He did warn the British. And in a shout-out gotcha type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly and I know my American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, Doug, give us a straight view of what she got wrong or got right.
BRINKLEY: Well, she failed. Her answer was just all convoluted. It was sad to see her try to defend bogus junk history that she was—she was flogging out there on FOX News instead of saying, I misspoke, made a mistake.
But what‘s key is she was in Boston. They‘ve been using the hard right, the Tea Party as sort of a way to garner support. And here she is, using Paul Revere, as you said, kind of as an NRA spokesperson. We‘re seeing a lot of that now. Glenn Beck had been doing that quite a bit with his show on the right, the kind of co-opting of history.
I‘m down here in Texas and there‘s been a big movement to do away with certain things from textbooks in Texas because Thomas Jefferson is quoted.
So, there‘s a—it‘s an attack really going on on American history.
BRINKLEY: And it‘s trying to weed out the PC stuff as the right sees it.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and what he‘s talking about. Here he is talking about secession. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: Texas is a unique place. When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to that.
My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention.
We‘ve got a great Union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Doug, I never knew secession was an option. I think that was solved somewhere around 1865. But he thinks you can secede from the Union if you‘re Texas. Is all that right?
BRINKLEY: Of course not. And I think it‘s different than the bite of Sarah Palin who clearly just misspoke about Paul Revere and then try to cover herself.
Perry meant to say that. I think that‘s going to be seen as perhaps the beginning of his presidential campaign. It‘s playing into a Confederate love of states‘ rights that‘s not just in Texas but the entire South. And that South Carolina primary is looming there. And secession plays well with Republicans in South Carolina. We‘re going to be hearing a lot of that bite I think in the coming year.
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s Rick Santorum running for president, talking about the new meaning of D-Day. Let‘s listen to Rick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: On this day, D-Day, June 6th, in 1944, almost 60,000 average Americans had the courage to go out and charge those beaches on Normandy. Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Was health care on the agenda June 6th, 1944, when those guys went out to fight?
BRINKLEY: Well, you know, all those soldiers wrote a letter home thinking they might die on June 5th. And, luckily, we have many survivors I spent a lot of time interviewing. But that‘s a bad example of presentism, of using history to kind of promote something that you‘re behind today. I find that a very sad statement about the former senator, that he would be using D-Day to promote something totally opposite as health care.
June 6th has become a national holiday. Nobody was looking whether you‘re a liberal or conservative when you were being shot at by Nazis on Omaha, on Utah Beach.
MATTHEWS: Well said. Great historian Doug Brinkley, the name of his latest book is “Ronald Reagan: The Notes.” He‘s always getting the big story.
When we return, “Let Me Finish” with the dangers of not knowing your history. I have some thoughts I‘ve been holding back here. You may not have noticed.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: “Let Me Finish” tonight with a simple message, one that Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and the rest of these characters need to have printed in large letters in their copy books.
We had Congresswoman Bachmann on a while back when she said we in the media ought to investigate Democratic members of Congress for anti-American attitudes. Here she goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How many do you suspect of your colleagues of being anti-American?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: What I would say—what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Now, as many of you recall, of course, out there, she‘s not the first member of U.S. Congress to come out with a bright idea like that one. Here‘s a memorable exchange from another era. Watch Senator Joseph McCarthy as Attorney Joseph Welch responds to Senator McCarthy‘s attacks on one of his lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH WELCH, ATTORNEY: Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that happened this day, June 9th, 1954 -- same day as this.
Here‘s another of this me merry band—Rick Perry talking about Texas seceding from the Union. A brilliant idea, another that‘s been tried before—the result being 600,000 dead Americans. Dead from shooting at each other across open field. Good men dead because somebody thought secession was a great idea.
What can I say about the other comments made lately that are so wrong I don‘t know what to say? Palin‘s got Paul Revere confused with a 30-second spot for the National Rifle Association. Paul Revere running around like an NRA lobbyist warning the government not to grab our guns.
I think the historic figure she was thinking of was a fellow named Charlton Heston. Sorry, Sarah.
Bachmannism, that claim of hers that the Founding Fathers worked their butts off to end slavery. She was off on that one by about a century. Again, that Civil War we had, that was about ending slavery. Wouldn‘t have needed it if those Founding Fathers had done what Michele said they did.
Finally, from the zaniest, Sarah Palin‘s claim that a vice president runs the U.S. Senate, that if he wants to, he can pass bills there or whatever else he wants to do.
Well, the vice president is there in the Senate to pound the gavel. If he were ever to try to even attend a meeting of either party, he would learn what Lyndon Johnson learned when he tried it as vice president. He would get the message pronto. You‘re not wanted here. You belong downtown with the president.
Senators, U.S. senators elected as such are the ones who decide what the U.S. Senate does. Everybody knows that, but Sarah Palin.
Why do we have to tell this to someone who think of themselves, people who think as national leaders? I thought “Don‘t Know Much About History” was a song, not a campaign message.
By the way, the message I mentioned upfront was: Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.
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