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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Friday, August 19, 2011

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Michael Steele, Jane Wells, Eugene Robinson, Pat Buchanan, Ron Reagan, Reince Priebus, Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Texas, the home of presidents?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.

Leading off tonight: Second look. It didn`t take long for the
reaction to Rick Perry to include some doubts. Politico reports the
congressional Republicans are getting skittish over Perry`s rhetoric, from
suggesting the Federal Reserve chairman is treasonous to questioning even
the president`s patriotism. Their message to Perry -- what plays in Texas
may not play in Peoria.

Plus, check out this tweet that went out yesterday. Quote, "To be
clear I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call
me crazy." Well, nothing remarkable about that except it came from a
Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman. How far right has the GOP
gone when it`s crazy for a Republican presidential candidate to admit he
believes in evolution?

Is there any difference, by the way, these days between the Republican
Party and the Tea Party?

Also, still pining for Hillary? Some Democrats, though no elected
officials so far, at least not openly, at least, are having second thoughts
about voting for Barack Obama. To that, a former Hillary supporter writes
in this Sunday`s "New York Times" magazine. Cool it. Things likely would
be no different if Hillary were president. Well, that`s open to debate.
We`re going to get into that tonight. Would Hillary have done it better?

And the day wouldn`t be complete without an interesting oddity out of
the head of Michele Bachmann, would it? Come on! Now she`s suggesting
that we all fear a rise of the Soviet Union. She`s worried about the
Soviet Union -- even though it died 20 years ago.

Anyway, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the need for the president,
President Obama, to propose -- now, this is my idea -- big, do something

We start with some GOP doubts about Rick Perry. Michael Steele is the
former chair of the Republican National Committee. And he`ll always be our
Republican National Committee chair.


MATTHEWS: And now he`s also an MSNBC analyst. And of course, Ron
Reagan is a political commentator.

And here he is -- I want to show you some of these SOTs now from
Governor Perry. We`re getting to know this guy. I`m getting to know him.
Here`s Governor Perry going after President Obama on jobs today in South
Carolina. He is hitting the circuit. Let`s listen.


that the president`s out there, and he was on a jobs tour. Now, I mean,
this is the president of the United States that has killed more jobs in
America than I think any president in the history, certainly in my


PERRY: I think the only job he cares about is the one he`s got.


MATTHEWS: Well, of course, the president came into office in the
middle of a recession, when the country was bleeding jobs, hemorrhaging
jobs. By the way, take a look at this chart from the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, official statistics here, tracking month-to-month job growth
since January of 2008 until last month. Look at the big losses there. Job
loss actually slowed down after Obama`s first few months in office.

(INAUDIBLE) look at that chart. Hold on that chart. Obama is
basically been gaining jobs ever since halfway through 2009. The
hemorrhaging of jobs was, of course, occurring as he walked into office.

Michael Steele, is it fair to say this president`s caused our economic
problems when he walked into during a hemorrhaging and took him six months
to close up the hemorrhage --


MATTHEWS: -- and begin creating jobs, and yet he`s blamed for what
Bush did?

STEELE: Yes. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Is that fair? Why is that fair?

STEELE: Absolutely it`s fair because it`s politics. It`s on his
watch. And he`s --


STEELE: You call it BS. You know, I`m sure Republicans would call it
something different and I`m sure Democrats would call it something
different if the shoe were on the other foot. But the bottom line is this.
Rick Perry is talking to his audience. He`s not talking to you. He`s not
talking to -- he`s not talking --

MATTHEWS: He`s not talking to people --


STEELE: He`s not talking to the elite here in Washington.


STEELE: He`s talking to --

MATTHEWS: Here we go --

STEELE: He`s talking to folks --

MATTHEWS: Michael, you`ve learned how to do this!

STEELE: He`s talking to his base --

MATTHEWS: You have learned how to do this!


STEELE: I`m not disagreeing with your statistics! Facts are facts.
But he`s not talking to those facts, he`s talking to how people feel right
now. And the job -- unemployment is 9.2 percent. That`s not reflected in
those wonderful blue lines that you`re showing there.


STEELE: So the reality of it is, if you`ve been unemployed since
Obama became president, if you`ve got -- became unemployed, you know, seven
months into his term, this is something that you`re feeling right now. You
don`t think about what happened before Bush or during Bush (INAUDIBLE) but
right now. That`s what he`s speaking to.

MATTHEWS: OK, the party of Lincoln, Ron, is no longer the party of
fact, it`s the party of feelsie.


MATTHEWS: How do you feel?

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That`s exactly right. Michael --

MATTHEWS: And so if you go to feelsie, you can ignore all the
numbers. As Michael, by the way, brilliantly just admitted, facts don`t
matter --

STEELE: I didn`t say that!

MATTHEWS: Well, you said they don`t matter politically.

STEELE: What I`m saying is, he`s speaking to his base. I`m not
ignoring the facts.


STEELE: But you can talk about the facts of the context of what
people are feeling right now.



MATTHEWS: Ignore the facts. Just go on. Ron, your thoughts about
this. Because it is interesting, if you look at those numbers. And we do
have a terrible economy right now. I know that and everybody watching
knows that. But if you look at hemorrhaging -- this president came in
facing [unintelligible] it was like the Titanic was sinking. He stopped it
from sinking. He sealed up the cracks. And by halfway through, the first
year in office, he was creating jobs, creating net jobs. Your thoughts,

REAGAN: Well, indeed. But Michael is absolutely right. The audience
for Rick Perry doesn`t care about facts. They do just care about how they
feel at the moment. And they feel angry, and they`re focusing that feeling
on President Obama. Who cares about the facts? Who cares if the guy who
preceded him really lost all those jobs? Facts don`t matter in the
Republican Party anymore.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at Governor Perry. He went after
the president on another favorite topic, health care. Let`s watch what he
said today and let`s assess it.


PERRY: We know what it`s going to do to the quality of health care.
We know what it`s going to do to the cost of health care. If I`m so
fortunate to be elected the president of the United States, on day one,
when I walk into the Oval Office, there will be an executive order on that
desk that eliminates as much of "Obama care" as I can have done with an
executive order.


MATTHEWS: Well, in you have it. He`s wearing the brown suit. I
guess that`s what Reagan did. He liked brown suits.


MATTHEWS: I mean, I don`t know. You know that, Ron. Your dad
preferred --

REAGAN: Better brown suits.


MATTHEWS: He didn`t bring them into fashion, but this guy thinks the
way to act like Reagan is to wear a brown suit.

STEELE: Oh, please.

MATTHEWS: OK, third -- I`m just kidding.

STEELE: I know you are.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about this health care thing. First of
all, it was created by statute, so he can`t really get rid of it. Go

STEELE: Well, he --

MATTHEWS: Congress passed it.

STEELE: There`s some aspects of it. Sure, there are some aspects of
the regulatory side of it and maybe some other aspects of it that he can --
he can slow down the process. But you`re right, it`s largely a statutory

It`s just like what the president is talking about doing on
immigration. You know, the president came out today talking about he`s
going to, by executive order, make some changes in immigration policy and
law. And so to the extent that the executive pen allows him to do that, he
will. Same is true here with respect to health care.

MATTHEWS: Can he --


STEELE: -- speaking to his base.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Can he -- do you think he can win this fight for the
nomination of your party by trashing Obama and ignoring his opponents?

STEELE: Yes. I think to -- to -- right now, he`s --

MATTHEWS: A smart move.

STEELE: A very smart move. He`s had a very good week. He engaged
the president. The president engaged back.


STEELE: And at the end of it, he came out ahead.

MATTHEWS: This relentless, almost machine-gun attack -- I shouldn`t
use ballistic references, but his -- I really shouldn`t. But his kind of
relentless assault on the president seems to be what they want, Ron, on the
other side. They seem to want pugilism. They want punch, punch, punch,
punch, punch because they feel that Romney won`t do it, Huntsman won`t do
it and the other candidates don`t really matter. I guess Michele does,
Michele Bachmann, the congressman. But she doesn`t do it with the -- this
guy seems to have the clout to do it.

REAGAN: Well, Michael, again, identified the loathing that Perry`s
audience has for President Obama. So yes, they do want people to be
tearing into him all the time. Unfortunately, the way Perry does that sort
of thing, like his comment about Ben Bernanke being treasonous for
exercising monetary policy -- the way he does it is going to turn a lot of
people off. That stuff may fly in Texas, like wearing cowboy boots with
your suit or something like that, but you get out in the rest of the
country, not so much. Not so much, really.

STEELE: Hey, Ron, you don`t wear your cowboy boots with your suits,

REAGAN: I don`t wear -- I wear my cowboy boots when I go riding a
horse. That`s what those are meant for.

MATTHEWS: I think the big issue (INAUDIBLE) wear the boot inside the
pants or outside? Here`s the blunt assessment from a former a adviser to
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, Bruce Bartlett.
He was asked about Governor Perry`s controversial comments about Fed
chairman Bernanke on CNN this morning. Let`s listen. Let`s watch.


Well, Rick Perry`s an idiot, and I don`t think anybody would disagree with


MATTHEWS: Well, I think -- I think they might. I think Michael might


STEELE: OK. I guess so.

MATTHEWS: He meant -- I think he meant -- I hope he meant just an
idiot -- well, he may have meant it generally. He must have meant he`s an
idiot to call the Fed chairman treasonous and saying he`ll get "treated
ugly" if he goes down to Texas when he disagrees with him on monetary --
can`t we disagree on something without calling the other guy a traitor

STEELE: Or -- or --

MATTHEWS: Monetary policy!

STEELE: Or calling him an idiot. And this is --

MATTHEWS: Right. I agree with that.

STEELE: This is the point --

MATTHEWS: I said last night no more name-calling.

STEELE: This is the point. Again, Washington misses the point
because Rick Perry was no more talking to you and this gentleman or anyone
else than the man on the moon. He was, again, specifically talking to his
audience. He`s in the battle for a primary in the Republican Party, a very
conservative primary base. He was talking to them. And the reality of it
is, we`re talking about this now in --

MATTHEWS: OK, so it`s OK to call another guy a traitor if it`s to get
liked in a crazy primary.

STEELE: But no, it`s not calling --


STEELE: He wasn`t calling him a traitor, he said --

MATTHEWS: "Treasonous"!

STEELE: If he does, it`s treasonous. It`s not the same thing.

MATTHEWS: It`s not the same?

STEELE: Now it`s not the same thing. Next year --



STEELE: Next year`s a different story. Next year --

MATTHEWS: I can`t -- I`m scratching my head, literally!

STEELE: Listen --

MATTHEWS: I don`t get it!

REAGAN: He really meant to call him "tantalizing."


STEELE: It doesn`t matter right now.

MATTHEWS: Politico reported that some congressional Republicans right
now are worried about this guy. They think the cowboy talk ought to be cut
right now. In fact, representatives from heavily suburban areas especially
fear having to share a ballot with this guy next year, given his more
controversial -- here`s a representative, Peter King, who`s no wallflower,
from Long Island, New York, told Politico, "You can`t be calling Bernanke a
traitor and you can`t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves
America. If he continues this, he`ll have a tough time."

Your thoughts, Michael.

STEELE: Well, my thought is, I go back to my original point. He
could care less what this congressman thinks because he wasn`t talking to
him. And in typical fashion --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t he a Republican?

STEELE: -- the folks in Washington think it`s all about them. And
it`s not.

MATTHEWS: He`s a congressman from New York!

STEELE: It`s not about -- it`s congressman from New York. It`s not
the same as being, you know, from Texas or South Carolina or --

MATTHEWS: So where`s the Republican Party located now?

STEELE: All over America, baby. All over America.


STEELE: -- up close and personal on a bus, you know?

REAGAN: Michael, it can`t be about the 10 percent of Americans that
actually agree with Perry`s nonsense if you`re talking about a general


REAGAN: He`ll never win.

STEELE: Yes, but look, Ron --

REAGAN: Yes, I know he`s in the primaries, but --


STEELE: -- I would agree with you.

REAGAN: But he`s running for president, right, or is he just running
for the nomination?

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about your party for --


MATTHEWS: Your new best friend, Reince Priebus, is coming on.


MATTHEWS: Very soon. In fact, the next segment.

STEELE: Well, have fun with him.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the same questions, if he`s watching it,
because I`m sure he`s in your fan club, he`s watching.

STEELE: Oh, yes, right.

MATTHEWS: He`s watching --


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this -- I want to get the lingo right.
When you say you want to take back our country, I guess it just means you
want to take the government back from the other party, right?


MATTHEWS: When you say servicemen in uniform, men and women, should
be proud again to serve a commander-in-chief, you`re not going after him
personally. What do you actually say no (ph)? I`m trying to speculate
here. What`s he say when Rick Perry says, I want our service people to be
proud of the commander-in-chief they take orders from. What does that
mean, like, there`s something wrong with Barack Obama that you can`t be
proud of this guy, who`s doubled the number of our troops in Afghanistan,
kept the fight going in Iraq according to, basically, the Bush strategy,
caught bin Laden?

I think he`s had a pretty clean life personally.

STEELE: Yes, that --

MATTHEWS: He`s a good family man. So it couldn`t be a moral problem.
So what do they mean, there`s a problem with being respectful of the
commander-in-chief? What do you think they mean?

STEELE: I don`t --

MATTHEWS: Could it be racial? Could it be ethnic?

STEELE: I don`t think it`s -- I don`t think it`s racial. I think it
probably has to do with the lack of clarity of foreign policy direction in
the Middle East.

MATTHEWS: That has to do with respect?

STEELE: Again, I would agree with you on this one, probably Ron, as
well, on this one, that -- you know, that one, to me, was a little bit
outside of the main because it didn`t really make sense. And the base does
-- I don`t think largely believe that the president has not done his utmost
on behalf of our men and women in uniform.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. I thought it had a birther stink to it,


MATTHEWS: It had this --

STEELE: Really?

MATTHEWS: Like there`s something illegitimate about this president.
He`s not worthy to serve. First of all, you serve your country, you don`t
serve the commander-in-chief.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: The guys in uniform, by the way, in 1944, they voted for
Dewey against Roosevelt, and they were just as loyal and tough as soldiers
as anybody. I`m sure there were a lot of Republicans who fought in World
War II. I mean, it ain`t even --


REAGAN: When Republicans use the phrase -- Chris, when Republicans
use the phrase "our country" in this context, what they they`re implying is
that the guy who sits in the White House, it isn`t his country, too, that
he`s somehow alien. That`s the dog whistle there.

MATTHEWS: You think that`s true? Because I know -- Obama, by the way
-- we checked it out, Ron. He said, We`re going to take our country back,

STEELE: I was going to say --


REAGAN: He`s not using it that way. He isn`t using it that way.

STEELE: Oh, well, well, do we know that for a fact, Ron? Come on.

REAGAN: Yes, I do.


REAGAN: You know it, too. You know it very well what these dog
whistles mean. You know very well what the dog whistles mean. You know,



REAGAN: You know when Rush Limbaugh gets on there and starts talking
about "Obam-io" --


REAGAN: Oreo is going to come out with a new cookie and it`s "Obam-
io," you know what that means.

MATTHEWS: OK. All right --

REAGAN: And that`s the audience. Limbaugh`s audience is Perry`s
audience. So don`t --

MATTHEWS: OK, well --

REAGAN: -- pretend you don`t know this --


MATTHEWS: You know what? I agree with him, but you`re not going to
agree with him. Anyway, thank you, Michael.


MATTHEWS: Have a nice weekend, Ron.


MATTHEWS: We`re going to see (ph) a lot more on this show in the
weeks again.

Coming up: Why would it be considered crazy for a Republican
presidential candidate, like a well-educated former ambassador to China, to
believe in evolution? Is that overtly -- is that egghead talk now? Is
that ivory tower? Is that elitism? Anyway, he was responding to Rick
Perry, who he thinks is a little out of it, anyway. I`m going to ask
Republican Party Chairman Reince Prievis -- or Reince Priebus -- if it`s OK
to believe in evolution.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Well, Russ Feingold has ruled out a run for office next
year out in Minnesota. (SIC) The former -- actually, Wisconsin. The
former senator won`t run for the open seat of the retiring Herb Kohl, and
he won`t challenge Governor Scott Walker, well, if Democrats force a recall
election. Anyway, Feingold`s a favorite of many progressives, of course.

Another progressive favorite is Harvard professor and consumer
advocate Elizabeth Warren. She`s formed an exploratory committee for a
potential Senate run up in Massachusetts against Republican Scott Brown.
That should be interesting.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tonight, in his HARDBALL debut, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, the new
head of the Republican Party that has taken a hard turn to the right, we

Welcome, Mr. Chairman. Let me ask you about the comment --


MATTHEWS: Well, thank you.

STEELE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this comment made by former Utah
governor Jon Huntsman just yesterday. He tweeted, quote, "To be clear, I
believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me

That`s a sarcastic comment by one of your candidates for president.
Is he the odd man out on those issues in your party now?

PRIEBUS: Chris, you know, I don`t know. I`m not doing a poll of all
the candidates as to those issues. But you know, this is what`s going to
happen. We have a rigorous debate. We`ve got -- as you`ve pointed out
many times, we`ve got a lot of different folks in the field.

I happen to believe, Chris, that having a lot of candidates in the
field, having a big primary, is good for our party. It gets a lot of
people out there. It gets a lot of earned media, a lot of TV time, a lot
of print media.


STEELE: And all the horsepower, I think, is on our side of the aisle
right now.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you worried, though, that in a world where we have
to compete with science, in science and technology with Chinese and Indian
young geniuses, and some of them move here and some of them are still over
in their countries around the world -- we`re competing in a world of
science and technology to be a country that might be led by someone who
doesn`t believe in evolution, who doesn`t believe in climate change, who
doesn`t believe in the scientific community (ph) of his own country, the
National Academy of Science, for example, on climate change.

Wouldn`t that be scary to have somebody who was so anti-intellectual
as president?

PRIEBUS: Well --


PRIEBUS: Well, come on. I mean, you`re extrapolating pretty far.

MATTHEWS: Well, would it be? You haven`t answered the question.
He`s your party.

PRIEBUS: Here`s what I think. Here`s what I think.

I don`t think the election is going to be decided on evolution. I
think the election is going to be decided on a fundamental question that
the American people are going to ask themselves. And they`re going to ask
themselves whether or not they`re better off today than they were three or
four years ago.

MATTHEWS: Sure. Well, that`s a good question.

PRIEBUS: And they`re going to answer -- and they`re going to answer
that question no.

MATTHEWS: If that`s the issue, you win. If that`s the issue, you

PRIEBUS: Well, and that`s going to be question.

MATTHEWS: If it`s just about conditions -- if it`s just about

But I`m asking about the philosophy of who leads our country.
Philosophy is important, right, isn`t it? You guys think -- are always
talking about the philosophy of our president. Isn`t it fair to ask about
the -- you call him a socialist, a lot of your people.

Isn`t it fair to ask about the philosophy of Perry and Bachmann and
the rest of them? Isn`t that fair to ask about their philosophy? Isn`t
that fair?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don`t -- I don`t think it`s unfair.


PRIEBUS: I don`t think it`s unfair, but I can`t sit here and tell you
what the philosophy is of all 12 candidates and sit here and get into a
give and take on each and every one of the candidates.


MATTHEWS: Well, you`re experts on Obama. You call him a socialist.
You all do.

PRIEBUS: Well, what I can tell you that -- well, wait a minute.

I mean, people are going to -- I told what you they`re going to ask
themselves. Then they`re going to ask themselves whether or not this
president`s followed through on his promises.


PRIEBUS: And what this president told the American people is that he
would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. And what did
he do? He introduced the biggest structural deficit in the history of


PRIEBUS: I mean, the problem with this president -- I think you and I
can disagree on a lot of things. But I think what we probably can agree on
is that he`s had a real hard time exhibiting a little leadership.

Now, we may differ on what the answer might be, but I think we both
can agree that this president has a real hard time leading when our
president -- excuse me -- when our country and the people in this country -


PRIEBUS: .. are starving for real, authentic people --


PRIEBUS: -- to lead the greatest country on the face of the Earth in
times that are very difficult.

And this president has a real hard time with that.

MATTHEWS: Your party -- no, how do you -- How do you -- do you have a
hard time with the fact that your party left this country in wreckage with
a hemorrhaging unemployment rate? There was booming unemployment. And
this president walked in the door. He got into bed when it was on fire.
You`re right.

But you don`t point that out, do you? You think you left this bed all
made for him and everything was great when he walked in the door, right?


MATTHEWS: We had a financial community that was going crazy.

PRIEBUS: Listen, I don`t think that --

MATTHEWS: Everything -- what -- just say that to me.

PRIEBUS: Hang on a second, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Tell me he walked in the door to hell. Just tell me that

PRIEBUS: Hang on a second, Chris. I don`t think -- I don`t think
that there`s any party or any person blameless in any of this.


MATTHEWS: No. Well, do you think he walked into a good situation
that you left him with? You`re blaming him for everything, but you say
Bush wasn`t responsible.


PRIEBUS: This president has a hard time following through on


PRIEBUS: He said the stimulus would create unemployment at less than
8 percent. Unemployment has been on sustained range that we haven`t seen
in over 30 years, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Right. I know.

PRIEBUS: We flushed a trillion dollars down the toilet, and Americans
are hurting.

He said he would cut the deficit in half. Biggest structural deficit
in the history of the world.


PRIEBUS: Said he`d tackle the debt. And under the policies of Barack
Obama, not before him, but on Barack Obama`s policies, he put us on a
trajectory to accumulate more debt than every single president before him
combined, Chris, combined.

MATTHEWS: OK. Yes. Sir, the trouble is that the president who came
in before him doubled the national debt, never vetoed a single spending
bill in eight years. Isn`t that a problem for your record?

PRIEBUS: Listen, the president`s going to be judged on his record.


PRIEBUS: And his record right now is a catastrophe in regard to this
economy. And I think we know that.


PRIEBUS: I mean, we have got a president who is whistling past the
graveyard, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you a question.

PRIEBUS: And he is out on Martha`s Vineyard while the rest of America
is waiting in line for jobs.

MATTHEWS: OK. You`re scoring all your points. You have got all your
points and you made them.

Now, let me ask you some questions.

PRIEBUS: I`m not trying to score points.

MATTHEWS: No, you have scored them. You have scored them. And I
think you have got them on the record now.

Let me ask you a question, a serious question. What`s the difference
now between the Republican Party and the Tea Party?

PRIEBUS: Well, I -- well, I think there`s -- obviously, we`re an
organized, structured party, and the Tea Party is not.

I think it`s a group of people who are conservative, independent,
people who are disengaged, but now engaged.

But I will say this. I think it`s important to note that --

MATTHEWS: But what`s the difference in philosophy?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don`t know all the differences because there`s 100
different Tea Party groups.

MATTHEWS: Are there any?

PRIEBUS: But let me tell you something.

I think where there are similarities is, is that -- that we need to
get our spending under control, we need to get our debt under control, we
need to respect the Constitution. Those are all things that are near and
dear to the Republican Party`s heart.

Now, I will also tell you that I don`t believe the Republican Party is
in competition with the conservative movement. We`re not competing.


PRIEBUS: You know, they`re their own organization, or their own
entity. And I`m grateful for it, because I think it`s moved America in the
right direction.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me -- can you name a difference between the
parties, between the Republican Party and the Tea Party? Just one

PRIEBUS: We`re a structured organization with a registered entity
with the Federal Election Commission and --

MATTHEWS: No, but on a policy, on policy. No, on policy.

PRIEBUS: What do you mean on policy?

MATTHEWS: Is there a difference in policy between the Tea Party
people, who -- and there`s new studies now that Tea Party people tend to
believe there should be more religion in politics. They basically have a
bad attitude towards race, toward black people. They have a bad attitude
toward immigrants.

PRIEBUS: The Tea Party is an undefined --


MATTHEWS: Is that the philosophy of the Republican Party?

PRIEBUS: But, Chris, that`s the beauty of the Tea Party. You can`t
define what the Tea Party is --

MATTHEWS: Well, they have studied it.

PRIEBUS: -- or who it is, or what their beliefs are, because they`re
not an organized entity.

I mean, one Tea Party in Rockford, Illinois, could have a different
view than a Tea Party up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I mean, but the
fundamental similarities are that we want to get our country back on track
economically. We want to recognize that the government`s making promises
that it just can`t keep and that we need to get serious about our debt and
the deficit in this country.

Otherwise, we will be surrendering our sovereignty to our bondholders.
So, I mean, these are important issues.


MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about your party and the strange part
of it. And I agree with a lot of Republicans. I grew up in a Republican
family. I was a kid, I was a Republican. I completely understand the call
for smaller government.

PRIEBUS: Well, what happened to you, Chris? What happened? How did


MATTHEWS: Well, I became a -- I studied the issues.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the fact of the smaller government,
less taxes. They`re popular ideas. I understand the appeal of those.

But for a long time, Donald Trump, for example, was the leader in the
polls among Republicans simply because he challenged the president`s
legitimacy as an American. There is an appeal in your party to this
birther stuff. It`s gone on and on. The president had to go out and show
his papers basically to shut it down.

What is it in your party that was so focused that you made Donald
Trump your front-runner because all he did was raise the birther issue?
What happened there? You`re an expert on politics.


PRIEBUS: First of all, I didn`t make Donald Trump the front-runner.

Secondly, I have never one time --

MATTHEWS: He was the leader in the polls.

PRIEBUS: Hang on a second, Chris.

I had never one time questioned this issue. In fact, I threw it away.
So, I mean, I`m not on record with that. Our party`s not on record with
that. But the fact of the matter is what Americans are looking for in this
country and the reason why people like Donald Trump and Rick Perry and
other -- Mitt Romney and the rest of our field, Michele Bachmann and Sarah
Palin, are -- resonate with the American people is that Americans in this
country are starving for authentic, real leadership --

MATTHEWS: Americans.

PRIEBUS: -- people with guts and a spine.


PRIEBUS: And this president hasn`t been able to exhibit any of those
things at all.



MATTHEWS: -- question. Do you believe that Barack Obama is a loyal,
patriotic American?

PRIEBUS: Of course.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Reince Priebus. Thank you, chairman of the
Republican Party.

Up next: Michele Bachmann was once worried about anti-Americanism in
Congress. Now she`s worried about the rise of the Soviet Union -- yes, the
Soviet Union. We will talk about that when we come back in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was something, wasn`t it?

Anyway, back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."

First up: It`s on. That`s what Jon Stewart had to stay to Standard &
Poor`s last night on "The Daily Show." Let`s listen.


us, we mess with you. You`re meat. And, by meat, I mean we have launched
a probe. And you may be subject to several depositions by government


STEWART: Plus, interviews by investigators that, in some cases, could
lead to fines.


STEWART: Obviously, it`s a negotiation in many respects.


STEWART: The point is, there`s a strong chance your name will end up
in a scathing editorial on page A-17 of "The New York Times."


STEWART: Sorry, S&P, but revenge is a dish best served slow and with
a great deal of bureaucrat paperwork.




MATTHEWS: Well, it`s pretty clear who he thinks has the upper hand in
this fight between the administration and the S&P.

Anyway, and of course another baffling history flub from GOP
candidate, could you believe it, Michele Bachmann, this one coming as the
foreign policies of Bachmann and her opponents start playing a role in the
campaign trail.

Speaking on a Christian radio program yesterday, Bachmann had this to
say on what the country has to fear in the world right now.


recognize is that there`s a fear that the United States is in an
unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the
rise of the Soviet Union, and -- and our loss militarily going forward.



Anyway, when was the last time someone expressed fear about the rise
of the Soviet Union? How about two decades ago, when it ceased to exist?

Well, this occurred during Bachmann`s stint working for the IRS, which
Bachmann now says her stint at the IRS was part of a plan to -- quote --
"learn how they work so I could defeat them," from the inside, I guess.

Anyway, maybe she was too busy with her secret plan to take note of a
major world event like the end of the Cold War.

Up next: buyer`s remorse -- by the way, I`m glad it is over.

Up next: buyer`s remorse. Some Democrats argue that Hillary Clinton -
- some Democrats think that she would be a stronger president. Interesting
speculation, but would things really be much different if Hillary Clinton
were president today? We will see, because we`re going to argue about it.

You`re watching HARDBALL. And this is coming up, the hot one, here on


JANE WELLS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jane Wells with your CNBC "Market

It may be the weekend, but no vacation from stress for the American
investor. The Dow fell below the psychologically important 11000 mark
today. Actually, it was like 10800 and change. The S&P shed 17, the
Nasdaq down 38.

And for the week, three big thumbs down across the major indices -- if
you have three thumbs. The Nasdaq saw the worst of it, down some 6 percent
since Monday. Speaking of the Nas, tech stocks tumbled today, including
Hewlett-Packard, which nosedived after news that it`s spinning off, it`s
going to spin off its computer-making business. And HP has also stopped
production of its tablet computer, though I see the commercials are still

Bank of America`s stock plunged after announcing plans to cut 3,500
jobs this quarter -- just one more bank among many to announce serious

Among the winners, gold on a record roll. The hot commodity is having
its longest run of weekly gains in four years, ended up at $1,846 an ounce.

And next week, keep your eye on Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Investors
will be watching a scheduled speech Friday and for any signals that could
cue changes on Wall Street.

That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to


economic growth and jobs is going to be our people and the private sector
and our businesses. But you know what? Government can help. Government
can make a difference.


MATTHEWS: That`s not too strong.

Anyway, welcome back.

That was -- lines like that, a sort of lukewarm pitch from the
president -- government can help -- have some of his traditional supporters
calling for him to step it up.

Bloomberg News` Jonathan Alter writes: "Obama must get bold. Tell
Republicans it`s on."

And there`s a low buzz now from people wondering how a President
Hillary Clinton would have fared.

Well, this Sunday`s "New York Times" magazine in fact has an article
coming this Sunday headlined "What Would Hillary Have Done?"

But the author, ironically -- her name is Rebecca Traister -- who
supported Hillary back in -- Hillary Clinton back in 2008, now criticizes
this buyer`s remorse talk.

She writes: "We forget sometimes that our government was designed to
limit the powers of the president. There simply was never going to be a
liberal messiah whose powers could transcend the limits set by democracy
this packed with regressive obstructions."

Anyway, do Democrats have reason to feel buyer`s remorse?

Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and "Washington Post"
columnist. And Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst as well.

Gene, I want to start with you on this. I keeping asking sort of the
HARDBALL question. Certainly, I hear the buzz among the people in the
blogosphere. I hear people. It`s loose talk. But it`s interesting to me.
Despite these terrible economic times and obviously the president`s low
poll numbers on economic performance, I have yet to hear one elected
official in government, who is a Democrat, or in a party position anywhere
come out and say, we would be better off with Hillary.


MATTHEWS: It`s kind of odd.


ROBINSON: I doubt that you are going to hear that.

Keep in mind that people fundamentally still like Barack Obama, even
those who are disappointed for whatever reason. And what we forget, I
think, is how reviled Hillary Clinton was by conservatives.

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.

ROBINSON: She was demonized.

And you could -- so, if you really want to play the scenario, you
would have seen at least the same amount of vitriol and obstructionism.
And, you know, they wouldn`t have made it easy for Hillary Clinton anymore
than they did for Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Pat, looking across the aisle?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Hillary would not have
gotten the send-off.

I was down on the Mall when Barack Obama was inaugurated. There was a
tremendous good mood in the country. African-Americans were elated as they
had never have been. She wouldn`t have gotten that. She would have been a
disappointment to them.

On the other hand, I think she could have held the group that Barack
Obama is losing badly. And that`s white working class and the young white

MATTHEWS: With an unemployment rate of 9.1, she would have held that?

BUCHANAN: I don`t think -- I don`t -- I don`t know that her policies
would have done that much better than Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: Well, why she have held the loyalty then?

BUCHANAN: Well, held the loyalty of whom?

MATTHEWS: Working -- white working people.

BUCHANAN: Well, I think that it`s perceived that Barack Obama -- I
mean, first, Barack Obama`s got the -- he won 24-1. I told you, John
McCain got the same vote as David Duke in Louisiana. She wouldn`t have got

And African-Americans would have said we lost this golden opportunity.
I don`t think the policies would have been different except this.

MATTHEWS: Would she have beaten McCain? I don`t know. I think she
probably would have.

BUCHANAN: She would have been beaten McCain.

MATTHEWS: You think she would have beaten McCain? It`s hard to tell
any of these things.

ROBINSON: Who knows?

MATTHEWS: It was a Democratic year. She was a good candidate. But
who knows?


BUCHANAN: I think she would have done better with the white working
class, again, with white folks. And she would have gotten the support of
African-Americans but not the enthusiasm, energy and fire.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s -- the piece we`re looking at, it`s running in
"The New York Times" this Sunday. Here`s an excerpt about the economy.
This is Traister writes again.

Quote, "Clinton might have tended to jobs and the economy more quickly
than Obama did. It`s possible there would have been less of a 2010
bloodbath. But her coattails would most likely have been shorter to begin
with. Yes. She might have bitten off the ear of a Tea Partier now and
then but there might not have been a Tea Party."

I mean, here`s my question. The Clintons did not get health care
through. Obama did.


ROBINSON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: The advantage, she wouldn`t have tried it again.

ROBINSON: Right. She would not have tried it again. You know, he
got it through. And you know, for -- Republicans, I know, don`t like it,
but he got it through and Democrats love that.

BUCHANAN: It`s an albatross around his neck politically.

MATTHEWS: But, politically, he got something through.

BUCHANAN: Politically, he got it through. I agree with that. But I
will say this -- I think Hillary would have had us in a confrontation with
Iran. I think she`s got a neocon --


BUCHANAN: And I think in the Middle East, she would have been much
closer to Israel, much tougher.


BUCHANAN: And I think --

MATTHEWS: He is. But let me ask you about the economics.

ROBINSON: When we -- have another war?


MATTHEWS: But let`s talk about the things that bother liberals,


MATTHEWS: They`re bothered by the fact that there are these Senate
rules that seem so anti-progressive. You have to have 60 votes. It`s very
hard to get 60 votes for anything. You got to get 218 in the House and --
and that`s a Republican House -- and 60 in the Senate.

It seems like if you want something done positively for government,
it`s very hard to get it through unless you just break the rules. Would
Hillary have broken the rules?

BUCHANAN: No, I think she will break the rules. But I will say this
-- her personal skills with the senators when she went up there in 2000,
2001, the conservative said here she comes, the queen. She worked that.
She made friends with those people. They liked her.

MATTHEWS: Could she have gotten Republican votes?

BUCHANAN: I don`t know if that translates into votes, but I do think
in terms of leadership and personal skills --

MATTHEWS: Would she have changed, somehow gotten Harry Reid to say,
to hell with the 60-vote rule. We`re jamming it through.

ROBINSON: I don`t think she would have. I don`t think she would have
changed the rules and I don`t think she would have gotten any more
cooperation from Mr. McConnell than Barack Obama did.

BUCHANAN: I think her personal skills --

MATTHEWS: Would Mitch McConnell been as determined to get rid of her
like he wants to get rid of Obama?

BUCHANAN: Why do they send Joe Biden up there? Because Biden works
the Senate. And Obama doesn`t.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you. He`s got better on personal skills.

ROBINSON: Because he was there for umpteen.

MATTHEWS: If Clinton had been elected, again, we`re speculating, "had
been elected president, especially as her tenure was compared with an
unrealized and thus unblemished Obama administration, alternate universe,
President Hillary Clinton would have been competing with a dream. But in a
funny way, Obama is, too."

So, in other words, the author is saying, here`s she`s saying, if
Obama had lost, Hillary had won, we`d be saying, gee if he only had Obama.

ROBINSON: Exactly. Exactly. We blew this opportunity for hope and
change in history, and -


MATTHEWS: Hillary will be incremental.

BUCHANAN: And there`s not all that much difference. I mean, that`s
not like Reagan and Rockefeller or something like that. They`re not that
far apart, Obama and Hillary.

ROBINSON: No, they work so well together.

MATTHEWS: Here`s a question. The heart of progressives who watch
this program, most of the watching progressives -- it seems to me that the
Clintons were able to do things like balance the budget over eight years.
They worked with Newt Gingrich in doing it. They got -- they voted for
welfare reform. They got rid of welfare as a right, basically.


MATTHEWS: They did NAFTA, which drives labor crazy.


MATTHEWS: And they were forgiven on every point, Gene.

This president gets health care through. The greatest social
evolvement since the `60s, and he gets nothing but grief.

ROBINSON: Well, you know, were the Clintons entirely forgiven? I`m
not sure they were entirely forgiven.


ROBINSON: Well, you know -- but imagine a Hillary Clinton
administration, imagine Bill Clinton in the White House. Imagine Bill
Clinton in the White House.

MATTHEWS: That`s good.

ROBINSON: But imagine Bill Clinton in the White House. There would
have been - it`s an ire on the right and --


MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to your crow. The pitchfork crowd, working
class whites, a lot of pro-life. I know your crowd. In fact, I like them


MATTHEWS: OK. But here`s the question. Would they be forgiving
Hillary Clinton, unemployment rate and status here like they have now?

BUCHANAN: I think Barack Obama, he did climb into a burning bed. I
think it would have continued along that way. Here`s why Clinton worked

MATTHEWS: That`s an old joke. I know the joke`s on you. The drunk
guy lying in bed and there`s a fire. He says it`s not my fault I got in
the bed when it was already on fire. That`s an old joke.


BUCHANAN: But here`s the thing -- welfare reform Republicans like.
NAFTA, the Republican establishment loved NAFTA.

These Republicans do not like Obamacare. So, Obama went and put
through something the Republican and Tea Party cannot stand, whereas
Clinton was working with them.

Now, would Hillary with them? I don`t know if she would have. But
Clinton -- I mean, to set aside some of these problems


BUCHANAN: -- successful president.

MATTHEWS: I think Hillary Clinton is much better at personal


ROBINSON: She as very good at that. She did not rub -- I mean, let`s
not make this too rosy. She did not rub everyone the right way. Not
everyone loved Hillary Clinton.



MATTHEWS: Well, you`re all moving forward., as I like to

Eugene Robinson, it`s a great discussion. I think we got somewhere

Pat Buchanan, a very good honest broker here.

Up next, NBC News is reporting that Libya leader Moammar Gadhafi may
be -- talking about weasel words -- may be preparing to flee the country.
Well, OK. And he could be gone in a matter of days. That could be news.
We`ll find out in a couple of days.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama is on his first full day of his
vacation right now. That`s Friday. And conservatives have been quick
criticizing him for his trip.

But here`s a little context to consider. In `83, Ronald Reagan`s
third year in office, the employment rate was 9.5. In August of that year,
Reagan set off on a 25-day vacation to his ranch in California, 25 days.
Not nine, that this president is getting. Presidents have always been
taking vacations and complaining about it amounts to a little more than
partisan carping, one could argue.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a story. Libya`s Moammar Gadhafi`s days may
be numbered. NBC broke that news that Gadhafi may be preparing to flee
with his family from Libya.

Joining me right to talk about the position from Libya, Syria and the
rest of the world, especially al Qaeda, are: Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt,
reporters for "The New York Times" and co-authors of a great new book
"Counterstrike," which the long title is "The Untold Story of the America`s
Secret Campaign Against al Qaeda."

Thom, let`s get to the news here. Gadhafi, is he going down? Is he

THOM SHANKER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he is certainly isolated right
now. And there are indications that he may be looking for a way out.

MATTHEWS: Should we be -- Eric, should we be saying we`ll give you a
way out, or say, if you leave that country, we`ll take to you the Hague,
your life is going to be miserable, you`re going to get your head chopped
off, or you`re going to get hanged or whatever?

ERIC SCHMITT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Chris, the U.S. government,
secretly, has been working behind the scenes for months to try to get
Gadhafi out of there.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t we just let them go to some place, like sandals
and somewhere, and just live there quietly? You are telling the guy, if
you leave, we`re going to ruin your life, so why would he leave?

SCHMITT: They`re trying to get him out. But right now, the rebels
are circling Tripoli.

MATTHEWS: I know. But why do we treat these guys like Hitler, like
unconditional surrender? Why don`t we just cut a deal with them?

SHANKER: They`re going to have to because he`s under indictment at
The Hague.


SHANKER: For him to go somewhere else, the lawyers are going to have
to get together and somehow --

MATTHEWS: Extradition treaty.

SHANKER: Exactly right.

MATTHEWS: Would we go along with that.

SHANKER: I think at this point, to assure an end to this conflict,
there will be some people quietly giving --

MATTHEWS: Yes, that might be (INAUDIBLE).

Let`s talk about al Qaeda. The president the other day said something
very interesting. He said we shouldn`t worry so much about a big
incredible perfect storm like 9/11 where they put it all together, this is
an incredible operation, and more about something more one guy, or person.
What`s that? How do see that in terms of al Qaeda? What`s their
capability right now?

SCHMITT: Right now, their capability is diminished in Pakistan with
bin Laden`s death. But just because he is dead, the other affiliates that
al Qaeda has, affiliates in Yemen and Somalia and even North Africa, there
is still a real risk to the United States.

MATTHEWS: Where are they? Where are they in terms -- if we try it
take over Afghanistan because we don`t want al Qaeda there, is that
reasonable? Or could al Qaeda operate out of Hamburg, Germany? Can they
operate out of Newark? Can they operate anywhere?

SHANKER: They already are. Yemen is now the leading al Qaeda
affiliate. But even here in the U.S., Chris, because of the Internet,
you`re having self-radicalized lone wolves they`re called.


SHANKER: They`re almost impossible for the police to find before they
act because there`s no network. There`s no trail. They are the

MATTHEWS: But they have that -- is the president right? I`m asking
you a tough question, Eric. Is the president right, they don`t have the
capability to a big operation like 9/11 right now?

SCHMITT: They don`t have the capability of a big mass casualty like
9/11. But what they can do, pick up an automatic rifle, shoot up a
shopping center, airport. The al Qaeda in Yemen has put out a recipe book
for how to make explosives and make these IEDs, set up their own kind of
explosives. So, it`s one of these things where you can have small scale

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you amazed -- every time -- I`m a movie nut, every
time I go to the movies, every time I go to a ball game, I see hundreds of,
you know, an average ball game, over 30,000 people at it.


MATTHEWS: Baseball. If you`re in a movie, they`re packed houses on
Friday nights and Saturday nights. It isn`t hard to find Americans where
we are really vulnerable.

SHANKER: That`s right. And that`s what they`re trying to do -- think
of it as pebbles into the cogs of the American economy, the printer
cartridge bombs, the underwear bomber, these would not be mass casualty

MATTHEWS: Yes, you can bring an airplane down.

SHANKER: That`s right. As tragic as that is, the impact on the
economy is bigger. Air traffic stops.

MATTHEWS: Have you heard this thing about how people are now --
they`re thinking now in these countries, suicide bombers are putting bombs,
IEDs inside their bodies.

SCHMITT: Right. Inside their bodies. The problem with that is the
body absorbs a lot of the explosion. So it sounds pretty spooky. It`s not
very effective.

MATTHEWS: Can they bring a plane down? If they get a seat over next
to the window and the guy has got the explosive device in him and he gets
on that plane because the TSA guys don`t pick up on it, can he blow that
plane apart and bring it down?

SCHMITT: Could be, if the explosive is big enough. You just can`t
get much explosive inside the body, though, Chris. It`s tough.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this ricin thing here.


MATTHEWS: Chemical weapon -- apparently, al Qaeda is trying to get
into it. How`s that scare you? It`s in the book. Tell us about it.

SHANKER: We report for the first time that al Qaeda affiliate in
Yemen is buying vast quantities of castor beans trying to make ricin, which
is one of the most lethal poisons. What they were trying to do is wrap it
around explosives and detonate it an enclosed place -- a movie theater you
mentioned, a shopping mall, a subsystem. Again, it wouldn`t kill that many
people but it would terrorize the country, perhaps shutting down mass

MATTHEWS: Well, you could say, we`ll hit one movie theater and next
week a hundred.

SHANKER: That`s exactly right. So, the propaganda value even of a
modest chemical attack would be a --

MATTHEWS: It`s call ricin?


MATTHEWS: And how hard is it to make?

SHANKER: It is easy it make if you have the right laboratory
conditions. The problem with Yemen, it`s a very primitive --

MATTHEWS: Anyway, you got to read this book, as 9/11 coming up. Good

Here`s the book. The book is called, "Counterstrike." There it is on
the screen. "Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America`s Secret Campaign
Against al Qaeda."

Congratulations. Great reporting, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with why it`s time for President Obama
to go big. I mean, after Labor Day, go big time.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with a simple recommendation for
the president. Keep it simple and make it big.

The American people need a leader right now. They need to know what
the leader wants them to do. What can they do? They want to know -- to
get this country moving again.

What should we do? Good question. Should we push the Congress to
spend more money on a jobs program? Should we raise the heat on those that
go against it or refuse to let it go to a vote? Should we demand that
Congress pass such a program?

Well, he is talking about other things, the president -- continue the
payroll tax cuts, extend the unemployment benefits, those trade deals with
South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Something about patent reform.

Look, I think he needs something bigger -- something that will force
the country to pay attention and take sides, something intriguing,
compelling, all right, exciting. Maybe it`s a jobs program that includes,
but isn`t limited to public works -- a jobs program that would put a
million people to work, cutting the unemployment rate to 8 percent, a major
fix of our jobs outlook, and the use of the federal government that would
put our economic situation rocketing back to normal.

It has to be something big enough for all to see -- I think for every
unemployed person in the country to see and take advantage of. We either
have a serious situation in this country or we don`t. If it`s serious, we
need a serious program to correct it. That`s what I think.

The president needs an economic proposal after Labor Day that
impresses everyone, including enemies -- maybe especially his enemies.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

More politics ahead with Al Sharpton.


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