Guests: Amanda Drury, Michael Steele, Robert Reich, Bill Richardson, John Nichols, Josh Marshall, Eric
Burns, Steve Kornacki, Michelle Goldberg
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Show us the way.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.
Leading off tonight: Leadership moment. What`s happening with Barack
Obama? What`s happening with the man who stood before millions on
inauguration day and offered to lead us and to heal us? Part of the answer
is a Republican Party whose main goal, whose only goal, is to bring him
down at all costs.
But what about the president? His pattern is to wait for others to
bring him solutions. Another year of this, and then what? Could this be
Now`s the time for President Obama to announce a jobs program, I think
-- a lot of people do -- to take control of the national agenda, show the
world what needs to be done, then call on Congress to do -- to get to it --
the dangerous bridges out there, the bad roads, the dilapidated water and
sewer systems, the whole shebang. It`s time to lead.
Meanwhile, Democratic defeat in Wisconsin. The Democrats managed to
take back two state senate seats in Wisconsin last night, but they needed
to take back three in order to win back a majority. What does the
Wisconsin vote tell us about next year`s vote in 2012?
Plus, before he even gets in, Rick Perry is the talk of the Republican
presidential field. By the way, we now know of a second instance in which
Perry talked about Texas seceding from the union. Will Republicans really
want to nominate a man for president who`s not sure he likes being part of
And when did it become OK to talk about impeaching a president, like
President Obama, just because you don`t agree with his agenda? Well, one
Texas Republican congressman is talking about just that, impeaching him
because they don`t like him.
"Let Me Finish" tonight with the reason the Republican presidential
field is so -- let`s agree on this -- paltry.
We start with what`s happening with President Obama. Robert Reich is
a former labor secretary, currently professor at the University of
California at Berkeley, and Bill Richardson is the former energy secretary
and the former governor of New Mexico.
Robert Reich, I want to ask you about the Democratic Party. I`m not
talking about netroots people or bloggers, I`m talking regular people who
constitute the people who vote Democrat in most presidential elections.
Where do they feel in terms of their emotions about the president right
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Chris, my worry is that average
working-class Democrats, middle-class Democrats, people who are -- kind of,
the Democrats -- the lunch-bucket Democrats that the Democratic Party used
to worry about and used to represent -- those people feel like they`ve been
abandoned. They do not hear the president talking about jobs, about wages,
coming up with a jobs plan to get them back to work.
They hear about all of this debt stuff, which may be important,
certainly, over the long term, but the crisis is not a debt crisis right
now. It`s a jobs and wages and growth crisis. And I think the president
has got to speak to these people and come up with a real jobs plan.
MATTHEWS: Well, when they`re sitting around talking at breakfast with
a couple (INAUDIBLE) get their early breakfasts, perhaps, at the local
dinette or late at night on a Friday night when they get together with the
guys, what do they want to hear this president do to regain the stature he
had coming into office? What do they want him to do, not talk about?
REICH: I think they want him, number one, to do things like exempting
the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for at least two years.
That would put money directly in people`s pockets. It would give them
enough to start spending and then get jobs (INAUDIBLE)
Number two, amend the bankruptcy laws so people who are troubled home
owners, distressed home owners, can declare bankruptcy on their primary
residence. That would give them more bargaining leverage with their banks
and service lenders, and that would enable them to reorganize their
mortgages, which is something that a lot of people cannot do, must do, as
housing prices continue to tumble, as more and more people find themselves
And number three, there ought to be a substantial tax benefit for
employers who hire new employees, net new employees --
MATTHEWS: OK --
REICH: -- that is, not robbing Peter to pay Paul. Chris, the point
is, I could go down a long list. There are many things that a president
can do, at least propose doing, and he can say, I`m going to fight for
these. And if the Republicans won`t join me, I`m going to fight right up
through the election and beyond.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about some other numbers that are crashing
right now. The Dow dropped 520 points again today, which means it`s fallen
more than 2,000 points in the last 14 days. Incredible.
Governor Richardson, thanks for joining us. I want to ask you the
same question. What`s the average working stiff, to use an old phrase out
there, feeling about his or her president? And what`s he got to start
doing, not talking about, doing to get them back?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FMR. NEW MEXICO GOV.: Well, Chris, I believe in
this president. I`m an optimist. Now, we`re going to get through this,
but I think the president has to shift the discussion away from debt. I
mean, we`ve had a 10-year debt program that he and the Republicans have
come forth with.
What we need is a jobs program -- jobs, jobs, jobs, create jobs
through the private sector, give incentives to new companies that hire new
workers, find ways to persuade and maybe even force some of these companies
who are taking these jobs overseas. Find issues that create, county to
county -- you got to go to the grass roots.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
RICHARDSON: You know when the president talks about, Well, let`s have
more infrastructure, let`s have more green jobs -- I think what needs to
happen is -- he`s got plenty of people working for him. These new jobs are
going to be in Count X of Santa Fe, New Mexico, or where Professor Reich
lives. Go to the Midwest. Listen to factory workers, to union leaders, to
private sector leaders. What`s it going to take to create new jobs? Give
me some new ideas.
Have a jobs summit of ordinary people and the private sector. What is
it that they need to create jobs? Challenge that private sector. Don`t
call the Congress back. Don`t abolish your vacation. Come up with a plan
MATTHEWS: I agree.
RICHARDSON: -- listen to the American people, and then in September,
when the Congress is back, challenge the Congress, go over their heads,
because just generally on a lot of these issues, they`re not going to
listen. But he can do a lot by executive order, by persuasion.
And he is a very persuasive guy. Those that say he`s detached and
cool -- I don`t see that. I`ve seen him on the campaign trail. He
trounced all of us running for president by inspiring people, and I think
he can do that again.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`d go a lot further. I`d go where there needs to be
work done, not make work, but work that needs to done. I`d go to the
infrastructure -- I wouldn`t call it that, I`d call it bridges. I`d point
to them and I`d say, That bridge is falling down, let`s make it up -- bring
it up to safety code. That road needs work. Look at the potholes. Let`s
fix that road. I`d say, This sewer system`s 100 years old, Robert Reich,
100 years old.
Looks like Maureen Dowd`s on the same wavelength we`re on. Here she
is this morning, questioning the president`s leadership in her column
entitled, "Withholder in Chief." She noted that he waited until the
weekend was over to speak about the Navy SEAL deaths in Afghanistan.
Quote, "His inability to grab a microphone and spontaneously assuage
Americans` fears is strange. If the American servicemen had died on a
Monday, he wouldn`t have waited until Wednesday to talk about it. He
doesn`t like the bully pulpit, but just the professor`s lectern. His
withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in
Washington, trapped by his own temperament. He doesn`t lead, and he
doesn`t understand why we don`t feel led."
Robert Reich, do you agree with her?
REICH: Well, Chris, let me just say -- and I agree with a lot of what
Bill Richardson just said, but I think the president not only has to look
as if he`s fighting and leading and right there for American workers, but
he`s got to do it. You know, I would add to my list infrastructure because
right now, you can do so much repairing --
REICH: -- of bridges and highways and everything else because the
Treasury bill, notwithstanding what Standard & Poor`s said, is now down to
a very low interest rate. You can borrow very easily.
MATTHEWS: What`s stopping him, Robert? Mr. Secretary --
REICH: Well --
MATTHEWS: -- you`ve been there, secretary of labor. What is stopping
this president from putting a bill forth that will put a million people
back to work doing jobs that we all can see politically need doing, where
the local Republican congressman would have to defend not doing? Why
doesn`t he do this?
REICH: I`m not -- Chris, I`m not sure. I mean, there are a lot of
theories circulating around. One may have to do with temperament. A
second may have to do with the fact that -- you know, a lot of political
advisers around him are saying, Don`t bother because you`ll never get
anything through the Republican House --
MATTHEWS: Well, what kind of --
REICH: -- and they will accuse --
MATTHEWS: -- thinking is that?
REICH: And they will accuse you of being another -- you know, of
spending more and being another big government -- I think what the
president has got to do is say to those people, those naysayers, I don`t
care. America is hurting right now. We have the worst --
MATTHEWS: OK --
REICH: -- economic insecurity and job situation since the great
Depression, and I, as president -- I`ve got to be out there. Bill
Richardson, the one thing you said that I disagree with, I think the
president does need to have a jobs plan (ph) and has got to summon Congress
back for it. We can`t say five weeks, six weeks, seven weeks doesn`t
matter, we have a nice summer vacation. No, this is a crisis, and it`s a
crisis right now!
RICHARDSON: Well, my point is that the president needs to have a
plan, and you can`t rush it. Get everybody together, some new people out
there in the country, listen to them. I`m saying have one ready soon, but
those that say call them back without a plan, I don`t think that makes
REICH: Oh, of course you have to have a plan, but --
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. But Governor, let me ask you this question.
Look, the president was joking a few months ago. You know, I generally
support everything the guy does. I like his temperament, I like everything
about him, except this thing of jobs, this thing of not doing what needs to
be done. He was laughing at some event recently, or a while back, about
how there weren`t as many shovel-ready jobs as he thought there were. That
reminded me of W., who was out to lunch on the war in Iraq, saying he
couldn`t find the WMD and thinking that`s funny. It`s not funny when the
president says he can`t find work out there, when everybody can see there`s
work to be done! What`s he talking about when he says --
RICHARDSON: No, but I think, Chris --
MATTHEWS: You`re a governor. Aren`t there shovel-ready jobs out
there? Aren`t there bridges below code?
MATTHEWS: Aren`t there roads that need -- well, what does he say --
RICHARDSON: But Chris --
MATTHEWS: -- they`re not ready?
RICHARDSON: But what we need are new ideas, new ways --
MATTHEWS: New ideas?
RICHARDSON: For instance, create a fund --
MATTHEWS: What`s wrong with the old ideas?
RICHARDSON: Well, that`s a good idea, but create a fund -- create a
fund that --
MATTHEWS: You`ve got the old roads --
RICHARDSON: -- goes to the private sector --
MATTHEWS: Why do you need a new idea for the old roads?
RICHARDSON: -- to create new jobs. Look, the stimulus -- I`m an ex-
governor. That stimulus created jobs in my state, and Bob Reich was for
them. And I think we need some kind of a stimulus, but at the same time,
there`s some ways to get the private sector, those big companies --
RICHARDSON: -- that are putting their jobs overseas -- match (ph)
them and say, Keep the jobs in America. Find ways that an infrastructure
fund can be created, a bank here in this country to create new jobs.
MATTHEWS: Look, I got to tell you guys, it`s not that complicated. I
disagree with you, Bill, about you need new ideas. I was just talking to
Rachel Maddow, my -- she showed me a column a few minutes ago that shows --
you know, there`s -- there are -- these Republican so-called right-wingers,
the minute you pass a stimulus bill, Robert, you`re talking about, they`ve
got their hands out there like everybody else, asking for jobs. Michele
REICH: Oh, of course they are.
MATTHEWS: -- the queen of the -- or the leader of, whatever, the
chair of the Tea Party people, saying she doesn`t believe in a stimulus.
The minute the bill got passed, she was saying out there saying, Build this
bridge in my district, it`ll create 3,000 jobs. These right-wingers know
the government can create jobs! They`re out there with their hands out,
MATTHEWS: Just do it!
REICH: Chris, also -- not only do they know it, but there are some
things we`ve tried before that have worked. The WPA, the Works Progress
REICH: -- progress -- and the Civilian Conservation Corps -- we have
so many long-term unemployed people sitting on their hands. Wouldn`t it be
better if they were out there working for the public, working on things
that we all need? I mean, we don`t need --
MATTHEWS: Well, again, right --
REICH: -- a complicated public/private partnership!
MATTHEWS: He may not be watching this show. I don`t know what he
watches or listens to, but Bill Richardson, does he listen to guys like
you? Does he listen to Bill Clinton? They`re saying this, I assume.
RICHARDSON: Look, I was at his birthday party, and we talked briefly.
He knows the severity of the situation. All I`m saying, Chris, is let`s
RICHARDSON: Let`s do it right.
MATTHEWS: No, let`s --
RICHARDSON: Let`s have a jobs plan that makes sense --
RICHARDSON: -- that involves the private sector, infrastructure. I`m
all with what everyone is saying. All I`m saying is, let`s do it right.
And he needs some new creative ideas and listen to ordinary people out in
the Midwest about how to do this. That`s all I`m saying.
MATTHEWS: All I`m saying is every time a job opens in a big city, the
line goes around the block of able -- an old phrase here, another old
phrase -- able-bodied men and women, able-bodied, who want to work. They
show up. They may have a cup of coffee in their hand, they may not have
enough money for a cup of coffee. They wait in line for hours just to put
their name on the list. They want to work that much.
You go through a big city in this country, people are up at 6:30
catching a bus, if they`re lucky to have a job. This country wants to
work. It likes to work. It likes to come home with a paycheck. And this
president`s got to do this thing. This thing! That my thought.
REICH: And I think that --
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I`m sorry, Robert Reich. I agree with both you
guys, but we got to move. Thank you, Robert Reich. Thank you, Bill
Coming up: Well, another desultory (ph) day for the labor movement.
The Wisconsin recall fight -- they lost it. Democrats fall a seat short --
what else is new? -- in that state senate fight they hoped to win after
they thought they might win. Labor, where are you? Where are you?
Where`s the big rally in Washington? I haven`t seen one lately. I see
them for abortion rights, against abortion rights. I see them for Steve
Colbert. I see demonstrations for everything except jobs. Where`s labor?
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve got the Republican members of the congressional
super-committee tasked with looking for further reductions in the deficit,
such as that list is.
What a bad list.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has named Senator Jon Kyl of
Arizona -- well, he won`t cut a nickel in defense, bet on that. He`ll try
to raise defense spending. Rob Portman of Ohio -- smart guy. Put him
there. Pat Toomey won`t raise a nickel in taxes on the rich. You watch.
He won`t raise a nickel.
So you got two guys that won`t raise taxes, and one guys that won`t
cut defense, and one reasonable. That`s 1 for 3 for Mitch McConnell.
The House speaker, Judge Boehner, named Texas congressman Jeb
Hensarling -- I don`t trust any of those guys -- and Congressman Dave Camp
and Fred Upton (ph). They`re probably all hopeless.
Anyway, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name her three
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Democrats came out of last night`s recall election bruised and beaten.
They won only two of the six recall elections. They needed to win three to
take control of the Wisconsin state Senate. It`s a big defeat to big
labor, of course. I mentioned that before. Also a reminder of just how
split Wisconsin is heading into 2012.
Joining me right now are two experts, John Nichols of "The Nation"
magazine and Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo.
Your reading on both -- quickly, your reading on bad it went last
night for labor and the progressives. John first.
JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": Sure. It was a tough night because
people had raised expectations so high. If you were realistic about
politics, you have to understand they were going into six Republican
districts and some of the least unionized areas in the state. So it was a
tough fight they took on.
Still, there was such a sense of optimism, hope. And frankly, this
was a case where labor put a lot of money in, and they did fall that one
MATTHEWS: OK, Josh, isn`t -- aren`t these districts, just to put them
in presidential perspective -- weren`t they Obama districts?
JOSH MARSHALL, TALKINGPOINTSMEMO.COM: You know, they were, but they
were also districts where these Republicans who were up last night all won
in 2008. So a very strong Democratic year.
MATTHEWS: I see.
MARSHALL: Obama won, but these -- these were still elected.
MATTHEWS: Got you.
MARSHALL: So I think John`s basically right that it was a
disappointing night for -- for -- for labor. But they were -- they did
have to -- you know, to put it in military terms, you know, making --
making a move on Republican territory. So it`s disappointing, but I don`t
think you can say that they`re bruised because they took, you know, two out
of six of these seats. So I think people went in with some sort of -- sort
of off expectations and off assumptions.
I think that, you know, what happened is they unseated two -- two
incumbent senators. And -- and again, the important thing is here, this
almost never happens in American politics. Legislative recalls never
happen. I remember hearing some statistic, you know, like, something like
a dozen times in the last century. So I think that has to be put in
perspective, although, yes, the Democrats in Wisconsin would be -- would be
-- have a lot more spring in their step if they had gotten that third seat.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me remind you of my hero, Winston Churchill, who
once said, Never promise victory and don`t deliver it. It`s a problem.
Let`s go into something where Rushbo, I think, is with you guys --
(INAUDIBLE) so much against you guys, I should say, that he`s giddy with
the results in Wisconsin. And he has so overstated it, it`s time to have
some fun here because the walrus underwater, which is what he sounds like
when he broadcasts -- that guy is so over the top in this, it gives us a
Let`s listen to Rushbo today and what he said about what it meant last
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The people of Wisconsin have
fended off what amounted to a government union takeover. If the taxpayers
of Wisconsin can win against all those odds, we should be able to do the
same thing in every state and in Washington, D.C.
We ought to be able to roll back in Obamacare. In fact, we ought to
be able to roll back everybody Obama has given us over the last two-and-a-
half years. We should be able to roll back the whole Democrat agenda for
the last 65 years. Yes, we can.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Rushbo with his agenda.
Gentlemen, I want John to tick these off on where you agree with
Rushbo, the same with Josh. He wants to get rid of the integration we did
under Harry Truman in the United States armed forces. That was what Truman
did since `46, which is 65 years ago. He wants to get rid of the Brown
case, of course, integrating our schools, at least the public schools.
He wants to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, the civil rights bill, the
voting rights bill, the ability to vote at the age of 18. What else is on
this guy`s freaking list of what he wants to -- is the right-wing agenda,
John? This is bigger than Wisconsin. Is this what the Rushbo crowd would
like to do if they could win elections, to get back -- everything back to
World War II that was done progressively for this country for race, or
youth, or sex, or whatever?
JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": Well, you know they always fall into this
MATTHEWS: Is that what they want back, honestly? I want an answer.
Yes or no, do they want it back?
NICHOLS: Yes, absolutely.
NICHOLS: But they always fall into this trap, Chris.
Look at this. Newt Gingrich has said the same thing: Oh, we have got
to roll back the last 50 years. Again and again, Republican and
conservative leaders, they show their hand. And the interesting thing
about Rush Limbaugh, though, is his absolute lack of knowledge of the
battlefield where things were playing out, because, in Wisconsin, some of
these districts have not elected a Democrat since Grover Cleveland was
It wasn`t the whole people of Wisconsin rejecting, you know, a
progressive agenda or rejecting the last 50 years of advancement. It was
very Republican districts doing what they do by pattern. And for Rush
Limbaugh to try and extrapolate from that to an argument that the entire
last 50 years should be rolled back is, to my mind -- it`s actually lying
to his own listeners, which is, even for Rush, a bit extreme.
I want to talk about this agenda that we hear today. It`s not just
labor rights or public employees or AFSCME or the people -- Jerry McEntee
or what he wants to get done in terms of working wages. Is there a real
ideological rollback at work here? If they can beat Obama next year, are
they on a roll to go all the way back to before World War II, when things
were totally different in this country for race, ethnicity, gender,
JOSHUA MICAH MARSHALL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: You
know, I`m not -- I think where they`re really focused is on the economic
I think there`s a decent amount -- you see the crackdown on voting,
which is largely aimed at minority and youth voters.
MARSHALL: The big thing is on the economic front.
You can -- you can see they want to privatize or abolish Social
Security, Medicare, Medicaid, yes. And one thing that I don`t think has
gotten talked about a lot in this debt deal is everything is now frayed --
framed around the 2012 election being a double down on each side, that
everything is on the table, Social Security, Medicare, taxes.
MARSHALL: So in a lot of ways, both sides have joined in putting all
of these issues on the ballot in 2012. And people haven`t seen that yet, I
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to John and then back to you, Josh.
I raised this issue about labor. And I`m labor. I like labor. And I
think generally they`re a fabulous force for American life in the last 100
years. And if we didn`t have them, I don`t where we would be. We wouldn`t
be anywhere good.
And my question is, why don`t they take up some of this animus, some
of this excitement that the Tea Party has? Why aren`t they holding big
demonstrations for jobs? It`s such a winner. You come to Washington with
people in T-shirts in hot weather and they come in and they demonstrate,
they speak, they get together, they have a tremendous sense of community
And then the president gets the message and he can react to that. It
gives him a foundation, you know, to bounce off and say, look, the people
want jobs, I`m giving them jobs. I`m risking it, even if Republicans --
why don`t they do that, John? Why don`t they come out in the streets?
NICHOLS: Look, Chris, they did come out in the streets in Wisconsin
in February and March. And it`s exactly what you described.
NICHOLS: There are people whose lives were changed by joining those
MATTHEWS: OK. Good.
NICHOLS: And the big frustration I have isn`t the Washington
demonstration. It`s the fact that during these recall races, the
Democrats, the Democratic strategists said, oh, don`t talk so much about
labor rights. Soften the message. Dumb it down.
MATTHEWS: Oh, really.
NICHOLS: I think there`s a problem not only with labor, but with the
Democratic Party not wanting to defend working people and labor issues.
MATTHEWS: Even unemployment?
NICHOLS: Even -- they`re lousy on it. This president -- you were
just talking in that last segment, this president can`t get excited about
unemployment. He couldn`t get energized and angry.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Well, that`s a damning statement. Sir, that`s a tough, damning
We`re going to listen to that woman for a while. Let that reverberate
Thank you, John Nichols of "Nation."
Thank you, Josh Marshall of TPM, Talking Points Memo.
Up next: Michele Bachmann is making a big campaign promise, the one
thing she says won`t be elected -- she -- won`t be elected president.
We will be right back -- next in the "Sideshow."
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
First up: Michele Bachmann is running with a new kind of campaign
promise. This one originally began as a defense against her gaffe back in
March when she told a crowd in New Hampshire that the Revolutionary War
began in their home state of New Hampshire.
But it`s now becoming a centerpiece of her campaign. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I made a
mistake, and I promised I would never again use President Obama`s
After that, I promised I would never use against President Obama`s
teleprompter. And I intend to keep that promise.
By the way, I do have to apologize to you this evening. I didn`t
bring my teleprompters with me tonight.
BACHMANN: I have got to confess, I didn`t bring my teleprompters with
There will be no teleprompters in the Bachmann White House.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, her problem, of course, as everybody watching knows,
wasn`t what was written or not written on a teleprompter. It is what was
in her head or not in her head about American history.
Next up, we have already heard speculation that "30 Rock" star Alec
Baldwin wants to enter politics, but he now he seems to be getting serious
and hitting the books. Baldwin tells The New York Times today he`s looking
into getting his master`s in politics and he seems to have sights set on
becoming mayor of New York City some day.
Before he launches a campaign, however, Baldwin plans to become
knowledgeable, he says, on the INS and -- the ins and outs of New York, the
ins and outs of New York, and asking questions like, what`s the reality of
the city unions, of contracts, of agreements, of teachers, infrastructure,
decentralization, things like that, and utilities of Con Ed, and MTA? How
does it all work?
Imagine that, somebody wanting to learn the business of politics
before entering it.
Promising though a run may be for him, it`s going to be in the distant
future, as Baldwin continues his acting career on "30 Rock" and plans to
start chipping away at his master`s, by the way, in the fall of 2012.
Long-term plan for Alec Baldwin.
Up next: triple-booked. That sums up the Iowa straw vote weekend
coming up for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. It`s nothing
political. Three of the 2012 candidates have tapped Huckabee to jam on his
bass guitar at their campaign tents this weekend. Huckabee said yes to all
the offers he has received from Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain.
So far, Huckabee has selected some Buddy Holly classics.
And that brings us to tonight`s "Big Number."
When it comes to the straw poll, the 2012 candidates are also
concerned with more than politics. They want to host the best barbecue,
have the best entertainment and, of course, the most prime location to set
up their tent. It looks like Senator (sic) Ron Paul beat out the others on
the location front, but he`s also paying for it.
How much did Ron Paul, the congressman, spend to set up his campaign
tent for the Iowa straw poll? Thirty-one thousand dollars is what you pay
these days for a one-day tent setup. That`s tonight`s "Big Number."
Up next: caught on tape. We now know of another incident of Rick
Perry threatening Texas to secede from the union. Do Republicans really
want to nominate a guy for president who wants to get out of the union?
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Amanda Drury with your CNBC
Market whiplash. Fear crept back on to the Street today, driving the
Dow down by 519 points, the S&P 500 tumbling 51 points and the Nasdaq
giving up 101. Well, banks led the way lower as investors kept a close eye
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Meanwhile, Bank of America agreed to sell parts of its homeland
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And HSBC confirmed the sale of its $30 billion credit card arm to
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Elsewhere, First Solar shares spiked after an analyst said it has the
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after the closing bell.
And that is it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide. Now it
is back over to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has some big weekend plans. He will travel
from South Carolina to New Hampshire to Iowa. He`s expected to make an
announcement come Saturday about his intentions to run for the White House,
no big secret there, but will he steal the thunder from what`s supposed to
be the big Republican event of this weekend, the Ames straw poll out in
Here to discuss what Perry means for the field is former Republican
National Committee Chair Michael Steele and Democratic strategist Eric
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
I want an assessment here about who is going to lose now. Perry looks
like he`s coming in. Do you both agree?
First you, Michael.
Is he coming in this Saturday, Rick Perry, governor of Texas?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Yes,
I think this is the announcement before the announcement. I think he`s
laid down a lot of groundwork with donors up to this point.
He`s going to now touch on starting this past weekend with the base.
The conservative base will go broad net, reach to the base this weekend. I
think he`s in it, and I think he`s in it to win it, obviously. But I don`t
know exactly that impact is going to be or what his impact is going to be
in the first instance. I think it`s going to take a little time to flesh
MATTHEWS: OK, first instance, who is least happy in their perceptions
that he`s coming in? Is it Michele Bachmann? Or is it Mitt Romney? Who
of those two is least happy this guy is definitely running now?
STEELE: Well, I`m not convinced either one of them are least happy,
because I think as we have seen with other candidates who jump in the race,
you have got to prove you have got the salt to do this thing.
You heard Tim Pawlenty say, it`s one thing to run for -- to think
about running. To run is very different. And I think that this is
something that the Perry campaign is going to see. So if I`m Michele
Bachmann and Perry and others -- I mean, not Perry -- the other -- Pawlenty
and others, I`m sitting there going, OK, come on in, the water is nice,
let`s have some fun, let`s see what you can do.
MATTHEWS: Well, Eric, same question to you. Who gets hit first? Who
ERIC BURNS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, look, I think it`s no question
that Michele Bachmann gets hurt, because Perry can steal a lot of her
thunder with the Tea Party crowd and the far right. And Mitt Romney gets
hurt, because if Tea Party -- if Rick Perry is able to really gain that
momentum, which I think he probably is set up to do, it`s going to take
away that inevitability -- that inevitability factor that Romney is
depending on, and really propel Perry into a very competitive position with
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s two things to look at, Michael, and then
Eric, on a candidacy. You look at their profile, which is governor of
Texas, executive ability, successful economy, blah, blah, blah. Then you
look at them personally, how they fill out that profile.
MATTHEWS: This guy has got a great profile. He`s got all the Texas
strut. You get to the person. Is he strong there? As a person, is he a
strong candidate? What`s your gut?
STEELE: Oh, I think so, absolutely. I have been in the room with
him. I know him personally. Oh, I think he brings a great deal to the
table in that regard.
But to the point that was just made, let`s see what he does. I`m not
going to assume that he`s going to come out and is going to grab all of
this fire. Remember, Fred Thompson was supposed to do the same thing, and
that didn`t get as far as people thought it would.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think he looked like he wanted to get in that
Barcalounger or whatever you call it, one of those recliner chairs.
MATTHEWS: But this guy looks like he`s got more juice at this point.
STEELE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: But, Eric, here`s the question. This guy has made some
controversial statements in the past.
MATTHEWS: There was a new tape just discovered actually today of
Perry winking at Texas being able to secede from the union, which of course
is historic nonsense. No state gets to secede from the union. We proved
that in `61, 1861.
But let`s watch Perry in this infamous video from April 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Texas is a unique place. When we came in
the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if
we decided to do that.
You know, my hope is that America and Washington in particular pays
attention. We have got a great union. There`s absolutely no reason to
dissolve it, but if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the
American people, who knows what might -- might come out of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How can a politician from Texas be so profoundly ignorant
about Texas history?
Eric, I will start with you.
BURNS: Well, look, Chris, I mean, I --
MATTHEWS: It might be you`re laughing, but this is profound
ignorance, to think that they had a special OK --
MATTHEWS: -- to quit the Union when they came in.
BURNS: I`m laughing, because, Chris, I`m from Texas. That`s kind of
like an urban legend in Texas, but it`s absolutely not true. You are
correct. And it is
MATTHEWS: Who thinks this besides him? Where did he get this fantasy
from? That Texas could secede from. We all know that Texas came in under
a provision it could break itself into six states, but I knew that from the
time I read about the Monitor and the Merrimack. I always knew this stuff.
This guy is a politician and he doesn`t know this.
BURNS: He`s the governor. I mean, so, if anybody should know, and he
should. And I`ll tell you, you know -- I mean, a Republican who thinks
Lincoln was wrong? I just can`t even really fathom that, you know, with as
many as Lincoln Day dinners as there in this country.
MATTHEWS: Michael, the new slogan of the Republican Party, the motto,
ignorance is bliss?
I mean, really? Is it now cute to be? Is this a way of proving
you`re not part of Washington, you don`t know anything? Is this a new way
of showing your purity?
STEELE: Come on, you`ve got -- I don`t mean to laugh, but I do have
to laugh when I hear the ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: OK. What`s ridiculous, what I said or what he said?
STEELE: You`re assuming so much here, Chris, you`re assuming that,
(a), the governor is dead serious about what he was saying. I think --
MATTHEWS: Well, he just stated a fact.
STEELE: I think that the reality of it is, that you know, like a lot
of things that come out of Texas, they`re big, the statements are big, the
hyperbole is big, and the bottom-line point was, the governor is saying,
listen to us -- I mean, listen to the states, listen to those of us out
here, as we said in the national level in 2009 and 2010. So, I don`t take
all of this secession conversation as serious.
MATTHEWS: OK. You mean the Texas A&M --
MATTHEWS: -- part of the aggie education program is to tell you that
Texas is allowed to secede from the Union? That`s hyperbole.
STEELE: It`s hyperbole, political talk.
MATTHEWS: Republican candidates for the most part have kept quiet
about Perry, but here`s Mitt Romney seeming to make a veiled reference to
gut the governor earlier this week in New Hampshire when he talked about
his own poll strength down in Texas. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, there was a poll
about a month ago that was a little surprising. It had me as the only
Republican candidate who in Texas could beat President Obama. I think I
was ahead by eight points. No one else was ahead of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hint, hint.
And here`s Tim Pawlenty talking on radio in Ohio this week, quote,
"Everybody brings certain strengths and weaknesses to the campaign and
there`s always an early face in which people coming in and getting some
initial buzz, and then things settle in once you have to do all the
interviews and get questioned and have all the articles scrutinize you."
So, Eric, is this a little threat, a little jab threat to Perry, he`s
in for a tougher business than being governor of Texas?
BURNS: Of course it is. I think Romney is very, very worried and he
should be about Perry getting into this race, you know? I mean, Perry gets
in and he has the announcement -- we think he`s going to Bachmann is going
to lose, Romney is going to lose. And, you know, frankly, the GOP is going
to loss, you know, if Perry ends up with the nomination.
But if I can say one thing to what Michael was saying. You know,
being a Texan, Texans do say big things, but they don`t talk about
secession and it`s not a joke. I mean, he didn`t say it as a joke. He was
serious, because he`s pandering to this near militant right wing of the Tea
Party that, Chris, we`ve seen for the last two years. Hailey Barbour
talked about it.
BURNS: -- in the health care debate. And I think that`s the problem
with Rick Perry.
STEELE: But that`s the politics of it, Eric. You know it. You`re a
Democratic strategist. You`ve advised candidates and you`ve heard
candidates get out there, whether their candidates or not, elected
officials say things that sort of go to the core of their constituency.
I think the broader issue here about whether or not --
BURNS: Those Texans that want to secede.
STEELE: Well, look, the secession conversation is a red herring.
Let`s off side because it doesn`t mean anything. Let`s put it aside.
MATTHEWS: When Republicans speak, it says "red herring" over the
screen so we know what to ignore because it would be how far a front.
STEELE: Chris, you`re an intelligent man. You will have Rick Perry
at some point of your sight. You can talk to him and ask him the question
directly. But until then, let`s deal with the point that you laid on the
table, which is essentially what happens to this field once he gets in.
MATTHEWS: OK. Translation, Michael Steele doesn`t want to defend
Rick Perry`s comments about secession.
STEELE: I`m not going to defend it. That`s silly. Come on.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Steele. By the way, the Civil War cost
600,000 lives. What a hoot, let`s make a joke out of it. Thank you,
Michael Steele and Eric Burns.
STEELE: Oh, c`mon, Chris, get real.
MATTHEWS: Up next -- I`m the one that is real, sir.
Up next, the congressman from Texas says President Obama should be
impeached. There is the guy. I guess this is part of the red herring
stuff that Michael is talking about. Let`s just ignore these guys when
they talk about secession, impeachment. It`s just B.S.
Why don`t they put that sign up there? It will be helpful. So, we
can pursue this agenda.
Anyway, so now, we impeach presidents whose policies we might disagree
with. That`s a new standard.
This is HARDBALL -- we got to know how to read the translations here -
- only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: With the stock market dropped, so does the chance that
President Obama wins reelection. The Dublin betting house Intrade now sets
the president`s reelection chance at just over 50 percent, about 50/50. He
was trading in the 60s for most of the spring, a much more -- much better
bet. Now he`s just even money.
But investors might bet against the president if not for one number
one reason, $1 billion in cash he`s got to spend on his reelection
campaign, which is making a lot of people think he still got the edge.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
First, Republicans refused to compromise on revenues when it came to
an historic debt deal. And now, they are open to actually impeaching
President Obama. At least some of them, Texas Republican Congressman
Michael Burgess says yes.
And listen what the Ft. Worth "Star Telegram" reports at a Tea Party
meeting last night. Quote -- this is what happened. Quote, "When one
attendee suggested that the House push for impeachment proceedings against
President Obama to obstruct the president from pushing his agenda, Burgess
was receptive. Quote, `It needs to happen, and I agree with you, it would
tie things up." Burgess said he wasn`t sure the proper charges to bring up
the articles of impeachment against Obama were there, but he didn`t rule
out pursuing such a course. Quote, `We need to tie things up,` Burgess
said. `The longer we allow the damage to continue unchecked, the worse
things are going to be for us.`"
So here we have Steve Kornacki joining us from Salon.com, and Michelle
Goldberg, she writes for "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek."
Thank you both for joining us.
This is a new kind of flippancy where we throw out, not even to
impeach on grounds like high crimes and misdemeanors, but as a way to tie
things up. And now, they`re sort of filibuster technique.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: You know, I remember, it must have been
the spring of 1993 when Bill Clinton first came to office and I was -- my
parents were driving us around and a car in front of us said "impeach
Clinton." And that was before anything ever happened. When I look at the
Clinton administration and when I look what`s happened right now in the
Obama administration, I see the same thing, you know, a party-based, a
Republican Party-based --
MATTHEWS: What does it mean, not really mad?
KORNACKI: They decided he`s illegitimate, either his continued
service is a threat to the country and that any tool you have at your
disposal, to tie things up, to get him out of office, to stall his agenda,
you use. And it intimidates I think mainstream Republican Party leaders
who won`t say, no, that`s not legitimate. The Constitution doesn`t agree
I mean, I remember --
MATTHEWS: When did they start? We talk about this -- Michelle, why
don`t you jump in on this. What about the sense on the right -- not all
the Republicans, not the ones I grew up with, but real right-wing crazies
who believe in -- and some business, money guys -- that Democrats shouldn`t
be president, that this White House is ours, you can have Congress once in
a while but we own the White House? When did that start?
KORNACKI: I think it`s when ideology aligned in the parties. When
the Republicans became a fundamentally conservative party, a party sort of
basing itself --
MATTHEWS: They own (INAUDIBLE) the White House, why? Because they`re
KORNACKI: And this, you know, anybody who is from the Democratic
Party wants to take their money, wants to take their party, is
illegitimate, doesn`t belong here.
MATTHEWS: Not in Congress. They do allow the right of Barney Frank
to be a congressman from Newton, Mass. They accept the fact that big
cities have Democratic majorities. But they don`t accept the White House
to be Democrats.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE DAILY COAST: Bill Clinton was the first
Democratic president since the rise of the religious right in the Reagan
administration. You know, as we have seen with Michele Bachmann, the
religious right has, you know, not just a theology but a whole kind of
theology of American history in which only true Christians and true
believers have the right to rule.
MATTHEWS: And the Founding Fathers didn`t have slaves.
GOLDBERG: They Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians who
didn`t have slaves, yes, exactly. And so, you know, so out of this
theology came this idea that, you know, kind of godless secular Democrats
had that was somehow --
MATTHEWS: I think they`re called secular humanists.
GOLDBERG: Right. That they had no business being in the White House,
and that tendency in the Republican Party has just gotten exponentially
larger over the years.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the pandering here because Huntsman
-- I want to look at something when Huntsman. This came up with him the
other night. Huntsman was asked about Libya. And this is one of the
things we can argue about Libya, I argue them with myself here.
But about impeaching the president at an event with New Hampshire
voters last week, here`s what he said to that discussion. He is afraid of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What should Congress be doing with the fact that
he went around Congress and he`s not, he`s not abiding to the War Powers
JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Congress is in a
mild uproar about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very mild.
HUNTSMAN: I have a fundamental problem generally. I mean, beyond
this decision. Just with the decision that has been made to get involved
in Libya, in a tribal country, where we have no definable interest at
stake, where we have no exit strategy.
Look, in Afghanistan, you want to get involved with tribal government.
How hard is it to extricate yourself and get involved with history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it`s impeachable?
HUNTSMAN: We`ll let Congress make that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There`s the sophisticate Republican trying to talk to crazy
KORNACKI: That is exactly what I was talking about, how that
mentality in the party intimidates people you would think of as respectable
MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t Huntsman -- Michelle, doesn`t Huntsman stand up
to the crazy?
GOLDBERG: Because he`s running for the nomination of a party that
supports impeachment. I mean, most the polls have shown, a majority of the
Tea Party supports impeachment and the plurality of Republican voters.
MATTHEWS: When is it stopped? When do they clean up their act for
the general election? They can`t run for president like this.
KORNACKI: Do you remember, after Bill Clinton got re-elected and had
65 percent approval rating, even Dick Lugar voted to toss him out of office
and to convict him in the impeachment trial. That`s what -- it never
stops. As long as there`s a Democrat in the White House, respectable
Republicans are going to feel pressure to cater this.
MATTHEWS: Democrats need not apply. Is that the new rule?
GOLDBERG: Yes. Basically.
MATTHEWS: This is -- I think that`s going down in history, watching
Huntsman, a man of his sophistication, putting up with that malarkey. I
use that nice word, malarkey.
Steve Kornacki, thanks. Great having you on, short but brilliant.
Michelle Goldberg, same thing.
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the big problem the Republicans
running for president, they don`t like government, they don`t like
politics. Who`s going to run?
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a small list of Republican
Can anyone of either party remember smaller, shorter, less dramatic
pack of people? Several of names are simply the predictable set of
politicians who have held lower office and have the presidency on their to-
do list. That includes Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and I would suppose,
for almost half a century, Mitt Romney. These are the kinds of candidates
that run no matter what`s going on. They are simply people of reasonable
ambition who want to rise to the presidency from governorship -- normal,
unexciting be unexceptional.
And then you have the other candidates, those moved by some sort of
calling, religious in nature. That includes Rick Santorum, who do I
respect for believing and not giving up, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and
soon-to-announced, I suppose, Rick Perry. I know I skip Newt Gingrich on
this list who is really not a candidate, more of a troubadour of trouble
shooting, sometimes simply of his own making trouble-making.
Not much of list there, is there? Not much happiness, not much of a
showing when you think of the opportunity out there in these very tough
times for a Republican candidate.
And here`s why: I think Republicans don`t like government. I think
they don`t like people go into it. And they don`t really like politics of
the kind that says, here is something we can do that`s positive, something
that`s going to help our country, build it up, help people -- help the
quality of life in this country, help build faith in our democratic format.
And here`s that word again, that word they don`t really like,
government. There it is. They don`t like government. They don`t like
And guess what? If you don`t like something, why would you want to be
it? Why would you want your kid do go into it or your brother or sister or
This is the problem for Republicans this time. They`ve got this big
fat opportunity to win the big job and they don`t have anybody ready,
willing or gung-ho to win it.
The only candidate who seems really hungry for the job of president,
the honor of being president is Mitt Romney. And he most likely put
himself on that course back in 1968 when his dad went for it and missed the
grade. That was back in the 60s when Republicans still had people around -
- people like George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller and Jack Javits who
actually believe in government, thought a career worthwhile, even
That was a half century ago. That`s how far the Republicans have
gotten from their positive roots as partner in running this country.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
A lot more politics ahead with the Reverend Al Sharpton.
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Guests: Amanda Drury, Michael Steele, Robert Reich, Bill Richardson, John Nichols, Josh Marshall, Eric