September 9, 2011
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The battle for Richmond.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Give `em hell, Barry. Last night, Democrats again heard the man they
elected in 2008, a Barack Obama forceful, hopeful, challenging, inspiring.
The president promised to take his case to, quote, "every corner of this
country," and he began making good on that promise by traveling today to
Eric Cantor`s -- Eric Cantor`s district to sell his plan. The president
may have finally grabbed the initiative. Question, can he keep it?
Plus, 10 years later, we`re still learning more about what went on and
didn`t happen behind the scenes on 9/11. Tonight, two guests who were with
President Bush and with President Vice -- Vice President Cheney -- I said
"president" not by accident -- with America under attack.
Also, walk around the streets of New York today and it will be clear
that officials are taking no chances in light of word that another much
smaller-scale al Qaeda attack may be in the planning stage. We`re going to
get the latest tonight on HARDBALL.
And shirts versus skins. Mitt Romney isn`t the only Republican
looking over his shoulder with dread at Rick Perry. Here comes Karl Rove
and the Bush political machine. And this time, it`s personal.
And "Let Me Finish" with my big hope for America
We start with President Obama on the road selling this jobs plan.
Eugene Robinson`s a "Washington Post" columnist. David Corn is "Mother
Jones" Washington bureau chief. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Gentlemen, signs of the president. Here he is. I`ve said for months
now I think the president should take his fight for this job straight to
the Republicans and highlight actual projects in their own Republican
districts, daring them to vote no for projects that help, and in fact, are
needed in their own hometowns.
Well, according to a group called Transportation for America -- my new
favorite group in this country -- there are now more than 65,000
structurally deficient bridges in this country. Those are the bridges, by
the way, we travel over all the time and they`re in immediate of immediate
repair, maintenance or outright replacement. We can put Americans to work
fixing them right now.
Right now, by the way, Mr. Cantor, listen up, and those who vote for
(SIC) him on occasion -- 94 structurally deficient bridges in your
district, Mr. Cantor, down in Virginia, where President Obama traveled to
this morning to speak on his jobs plan.
And throughout this segment at the bottom of your screen, we`re going
to be running the locations of those bridges to give you a sense of all the
opportunities in Virginia`s district that is now represented -- at least
currently represented, the 7th district, by Eric Cantor -- may not be for
long if he doesn`t get those bridges fixed. And you also can follow me on
Twitter for more on the topic.
I think we`ve got to take the issue of jobs and infrastructure to the
people. We have to start talking about real problems, real dangers. When
those school buses go over those bridges and they start to rattle, think of
By the way, my Twitter line is @hardball_chris.
Let me talk to you -- you think this an important idea to talk in real
terms about jobs instead of this abstract jobs program thing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I do
because what could be more concrete than concrete, right?
ROBINSON: Look, you do what you can. No, this...
ROBINSON: No, this -- this initiative, this infrastructure
initiative, has not only the support of liberals who want to stimulate the
economy. The Chamber of Commerce is in favor of...
MATTHEWS: Every morning in America, at 10:30 in the morning, it`s
called delivery time. That`s when all the bridges are covered by trucks
coming or bringing -- here, by the way, are signs (INAUDIBLE) Barack Obama.
We saw it today in Richmond. The president got elected a couple of years
past. Here he is, taking his jobs plan directly to the -- well, it`s enemy
camp in this issue. It`s with the Republican leader down there, Eric
Cantor. Here he is, urging the GOP to pass the bill. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time for action is
now! The time to create jobs is now! Pass this bill! The next election
is 14 months away. We cannot -- we cannot wait. The American people do
not have the luxury of waiting another 14 months for some action.
Some of you are living paycheck to paycheck, week to week, day by day.
Now is not the time for people in Washington to be worrying about their
jobs. It`s time for them to be worrying about your jobs. Now`s the time
to put Americans back to work. Now`s the time to act!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? He`s campaigning again. Now he`s not
sitting around, waiting to run against Rick Perry or lucky to run against
Alan Keyes again or something like that.
MATTHEWS: I think he sometimes thinks he`s going to get him next
year. Looks like he`s campaigning. What`s the scorecard here? Is it
rousing up the troops, a favorite crowd there? They like him down there,
obviously, the ones who went with him. But is it to win this bill or to
have something to blame against Republicans? Tell me how to score this.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think...
MATTHEWS: Jobs bill.
CORN: I think right now, he`s straddling those two missions. He`s,
like -- he put his team on the field and he`s waiting to see how the
Republicans come out and he`s going to call an audible because he has a few
options. He can go right at there, campaign mode, like he did this...
MATTHEWS: To try to win the bill.
CORN: Again and again and again -- well, but not to win the bill, but
to win the next election. Or he could try to put pressure on them and work
with them to get something passed. He won`t get everything passed.
CORN: They won`t let...
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to the people and away from politics for a
split second. Gene...
MATTHEWS: ... this economy needs a little kick in the ass right now.
MATTHEWS: It needs something. I needs some stimulus. (INAUDIBLE)
word, jobs. Doesn`t he need to get something passed for a real purpose
ROBINSON: Yes, he does. And the environment has changed. there`s
more of a realization, certainly among conservative economists, and I think
among ordinary Americans, and ultimately maybe even among some Republican
MATTHEWS: ... doing something!
ROBINSON: ... that we`re about to slip into a recession again, and
that would be disastrous.
MATTHEWS: You know, I get the feeling that he is worried. A lot of
people are worried about -- here he is, by the way. Look at the bottom of
that screen. We`re looking right now -- we`re putting these pictures out
right now -- these are the names of bridges in Eric Cantor`s district down
in the Richmond area that are structurally deficient right now.
(INAUDIBLE) what that means. By the way, that bridge that fell down in
Minnesota, it was described at "structurally deficient" before it
CORN: Don`t forget, too, with the Republicans in Congress, they came
out of the debt ceiling fight lower than the president. They did not do
MATTHEWS: Well, does that mean they`re vulnerable to this kind of
CORN: I think they are vulnerable to this type of charge. The
president was very effective this morning when he went out there and he got
very concrete again. He said, Here`s our choice. We can either fix 35,000
schools for our kids and put sign (ph) slabs (ph) in them and make them
work, or we can have tax loopholes for oil companies. We can`t do both!
MATTHEWS: But let`s not confuse ourselves. It`s better to get action
than blame assignment, right?
CORN: Right, but I...
MATTHEWS: Don`t you -- you`re slowing...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it better to get the bridges fixed and the roads...
CORN: He needs to have...
CORN: ... some economic...
CORN: ... improvement to do well next year, but he also has to deal
with recalcitrant Republicans.
MATTHEWS: OK, here he is, going in that second (INAUDIBLE) Here he
is, giving Republicans, including especially, in fact, House Republican
leader Eric Cantor, a little credit for not outright rejecting his proposal
-- not yet. Here`s more of his speech today in Cantor`s own district. He
is really leaning forward here, to use a local phrase.
MATTHEWS: Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To their credit, I was glad to hear some Republicans,
including your congressman, say that they`re -- they`ve got -- they see
room for us to work together. They said that they`re open to some of the
proposals to create American jobs. But we`ve got to give them a little
help to do the right thing! So I`m asking all of you to lift up your
voices, not just here in Richmond, anybody watching, listening, following
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, and he gets into that church voice of his, that
MATTHEWS: What does that tell you? You grew up with that (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: What does -- does that church tell you, I`m getting ready
to lose one or I`m getting ready to want to win one?
ROBINSON: Well -- well, when you`re in the church, you`re getting
ready to win.
MATTHEWS: It`s not about suffering, it`s not about, Let`s all suffer?
ROBINSON: No, no, no. It`s about -- it`s about, Let`s do something.
MATTHEWS: OK. Good.
MATTHEWS: I want to know that.
ROBINSON: Let`s win some -- now -- and the question is, Eric Cantor
was sort of equivocal in his initial reaction. So is that just plain rope-
a-dope, you know, to...
MATTHEWS: I know what you mean.
MATTHEWS: Is he just waiting...
ROBINSON: What I was hearing from the White House before the speech
is they`re going to press for this bill. They`re going to press for the
MATTHEWS: Let`s remind everybody who wasn`t watching yesterday,
didn`t watch the president last night, this bill has a couple big
ingredients. One is something that`s so easy for Republicans. It`s
tackling practice. I mean, all you have to do is reduce the cost of hiring
labor by cutting the payroll tax for the employer, for the worker, right?
MATTHEWS: And there`s also some incentives for hiring people. That`s
the easiest thing to buy, right...
MATTHEWS: ... for Republicans?
CORN: The tax cut stuff is easy.
ROBINSON: Should be. Should be -- should be a no-brainer.
MATTHEWS: OK, the other stuff is fixing bridges and schools. Will
they choke on that one?
CORN: They may.
ROBINSON: They may well.
CORN: It`s spending. And they can nick this thing to death with a
thousand different cuts, has to go through several different committees,
and they can start attaching poison pills to it, as well.
MATTHEWS: But why wouldn`t they want to cut taxes on workers that
makes it cheaper to hire people?
CORN: Well, because...
MATTHEWS: They are pro-business.
CORN: I think they`d rather cut taxes from millionaires and
CORN: ... because they haven`t done that! They -- they had a chance
to do this the last two years. They haven`t...
MATTHEWS: You`re laughing, though.
MATTHEWS: You`re on laughing gas now. You`re laughing. Do you
really think they don`t -- they always say the small businessmen -- it`s
the image of the party (ph). The small businessmen...
MATTHEWS: ... not Wal-Mart, the small business...
CORN: Chris, last year, the Republicans held up a small business bill
for over nine months. Why? Because it had a "made by Obama" sticker
attached to it. I mean, you got 40, 80, 100 Tea Party members of the House
who may not go along with anything that even a reasonable Eric Cantor...
CORN: ... wants to see.
MATTHEWS: Is it that bad, Gene? You say neither, I say neither.
MATTHEWS: I mean, is it really that bad on the Republican side now,
they just want to screw the guy?
ROBINSON: Well, it certainly has been that bad. It`s been worse, in
fact. Now, will it be that bad this time?
MATTHEWS: OK, how does he...
ROBINSON: I`m not -- I`m not sure.
MATTHEWS: ... apply enough heat to them locally to break Boehner so
he at least gives him a vote or brings to serious close to passage what he
wants? How does he get Boehner to...
MATTHEWS: You know the Hill.
ROBINSON: ... it`s a good start to go to Cantor`s district, then you
go to Boehner`s district. Then you -- you know, you...
ROBINSON: So you know, take it -- he said he`s going to take it be to
every corner of the country.
MATTHEWS: OK, you know what we`re going to do here, for our small
educational role here? We`re going to keep doing what we`re doing on the
lower screen here right now. We`re looking right now at -- we continue to
just show the bridges in his district -- in this case, 90-some bridges that
need repair. And we`re just going to let people know they exist. We`re
going to do the same thing next week on Tuesday.
Now, the president`s not doing this. I think (INAUDIBLE) more his job
than ours. But it`s also part of the -- here`s -- by the way, here`s
Congressman Cantor`s own reaction to the president`s jobs speech last
night. Let`s listen. He was with Luke Russert of NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think there`s a lot in
this speech that we can actually begin to work on together -- you know,
areas like small business tax relief, suggestions that we ought to
streamline the process of infrastructure spending, suggesting we ought to
reform the unemployment benefits program in this country.
What I did take exception to was the all-or-nothing approach that the
president took. He continued to say, Pass this package. There`s nothing
controversial in this package. Anybody that doesn`t embrace this, he`s
going to take it to all corners of this country. Obviously, he`s going to
my district tomorrow. And I reject that approach because I think there`s a
lot of areas that we have in common in his proposal, but there`s certainly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s kind of a pissant...
MATTHEWS: ... nobody thinks that Barack Obama has ever demanded all
ROBINSON: ... whereas House Republicans have repeatedly demanded all
or nothing, right?
MATTHEWS: But he`s attacking himself there because the president`s
always open to...
CORN: I think when you see Eric Cantor talking reasonably, it shows
he`s scared. And you know -- and I don`t think...
MATTHEWS: Did you notice...
MATTHEWS: ... Nixonian sweat there on the lip, maybe?
CORN: I don`t think he has to worry about it in his district.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t want to make fun of him.
MATTHEWS: ... the deal?
CORN: You talked about targeting Cantor and Boehner. Forget about
them. There are 25, 30 Republican House members who may be -- whose seats
may be at play next year. Those are the people -- the White House -- there
should be a political director in the White House looking at those
districts, and that`s where they should match up with your bridges.
MATTHEWS: We have bridges for them!
MATTHEWS: ... as those days go on.
ROBINSON: No bridge too far!
MATTHEWS: By the way, some people will be afraid to do this show
because every time they show up on the show, we`ll show their bridges that
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you again...
CORN: Don`t forget water treatment plants, too.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, and sewerage, as well. Let me go right now --
you guys are political students, so get off the complete ideological track
for one minute, David.
CORN: I`m not on...
MATTHEWS: ... because that`s part of our whole theme here is
ideological warfare. But in terms of the president, here we are in
September. The school year`s begun. He is bringing out -- like Karl Rove,
or Andy Card, used to say, Bring out your product in September. The new
cars used to come out in September. By Christmas, by the holidays, doesn`t
he have to have something done on this front, not just a debt reduction, on
creating jobs, or else he`s got problems in policy making?
ROBINSON: Well, it helps him in policy making. It helps him
MATTHEWS: Does he need something done?
ROBINSON: ... if he gets a success. Success is always better than
failure. So -- but I think he also needs to be fairly hard-line in terms
of saying, Look, you`ve got to do this stuff. We`re not going to nickel
and dime this bill to death.
MATTHEWS: OK. Does he want to get something done?
CORN: He does. This guy likes results...
CORN: ... and it will help him if the economy gets better.
MATTHEWS: Accept (ph) the ball.
CORN: But if he can`t get it done, he has to put blame...
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
CORN: ... firmly on the other side.
MATTHEWS: It`s plan B. Here he is, the president last night,
pinpointing some projects in key states which just so happen to be in the
home states of John Boehner, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and
2012 front-runner Rick Perry. Let`s listen to it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There`s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky
that`s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America, a public
transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas
of traffic in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s playing offense.
CORN: Well, it is. And it`s about time. I think people want to see
him go after these guys after they really got at (ph) his knees for the
last two years, especially with the debt ceiling. I mean...
MATTHEWS: He`s not on his knees. It`s not that bad.
CORN: The debt ceiling, they had a gun to his head...
MATTHEWS: Oh, these images drive me crazy!
CORN: You don`t think they were playing with dynamite? I`ll give you
another image. With the debt ceiling...
MATTHEWS: Hey, look, I think (INAUDIBLE) SOBs (ph) with the guy, but
I just don`t like gun references.
ROBINSON: The ironic thing about Ohio and Kentucky -- you know, here
you got Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who traditionally are deal
makers, right? And also are not averse...
MATTHEWS: And that`s how you get to be a leader.
ROBINSON: I mean, you know, Mitch McConnell, was, like, you know, Get
rid of earmarks? Are you crazy?
MATTHEWS: Well, I like the way he...
ROBINSON: But you know, can they stand up to the Tea Party?
MATTHEWS: I love it. I love the...
CORN: They couldn`t...
CORN: They couldn`t make the deal on the debt ceiling.
MATTHEWS: They`re engaging. They have made contact. As they say in
military warfare, they`ve made contact.
MATTHEWS: Have a nice weekend, guys. Eugene Robinson -- I mean, it`s
9/11 weekend, but have a nice weekend. Eugene Robinson, David Corn.
Coming up: Ten years after the 9/11 attacks -- and that is this
weekend -- we`re still learning about what did and didn`t happen behind the
scenes. We`re going to behind the scenes in the Cheney White House, the
Bush White House (INAUDIBLE) Cheney White House that day. We`re going to
talk to two guests who were there with President Bush and with Vice
President Cheney when we were under attack, finding out what happened in
those rooms. This is great tick-tock, as we say.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The unconfirmed report of a terror threat on the 10th
anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has stepped up concerns around the country.
But our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll out this week finds that the
number of Americans who say we`re safer now is on the rise. Forty-two
percent say the country is safer now than before the attacks of 9/11.
That`s a 9-point hike from a year ago. About a third say we`re about as
safe as we were before the attacks. And one in five says we`re less safe.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: On September 11, this building
was transformed, transformed into a battlefield. Ten years later, we are a
stronger nation. And at the core of that strength is that generation of
Americans who have stepped forward to serve in uniform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a good man that is. That`s Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta. Welcome (ph) -- the man who had a lot to do with catching bin
Laden. Anyway, he was speaking there at the Pentagon a year -- right at
the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon almost 10 years ago.
Well, this morning, Wall Street held a moment of silence to
commemorate the victims of 9/11 attacks up there.
And joining us right now are two people who had actually a front row seat,
you`d have to say, at the moment in history. Retired Lieutenant Colonel
Robert J. Darling was in the White House bunker that morning with Vice
President Dick Cheney. He wrote about his experience in a book, "24 Hours
Inside the President`s Bunker."
And Richard Keil was the White House correspondent for Bloomberg. And
he was traveling with President Bush that morning. He`s now a consultant
with Purple Strategies.
Let me go with Dick first.
I want to tell me about being with the president. I want to get to
the Cheney part. I`m fascinated with what happened in the White House
itself. You were with President Bush when he was teaching at that school.
Tell me what you thought was the interesting that most people don`t know
about that morning, 9/11.
RICHARD KEIL, FORMER BLOOMBERG WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He had been
told by the head of the White House Situation Room what who was on the trip
as we walked in only that the plane had hit the World Trade Center. Nobody
knew anything more than that.
But many of us reporters, including myself, were on the phone...
MATTHEWS: Yes, we`re looking at it now.
KEIL: ... were on the phone. We didn`t have any video, but we were
on the phone with our respective desks. And I happened to be talking to
one of my editors, Robin Mazzoli (ph), who was narrating in my ear quietly
what she was seeing on television.
MATTHEWS: We`re looking at the president`s face. Boy, did he look
young then, by the way. When he was talking to the kids with that
schoolbook there, he only knew it was a small plane, right? He didn`t know
it was part of anything.
KEIL: He didn`t know size or scope. And what I was hearing on my
phone from my editor was a narration of the second plane hitting. And he
told us later, told me later that when he was looking across the room at us
it was like watching a silent horror movie.
He could tell from looking at our faces that something very terrible
was going on and it was just moments after that when Andy Card leaned over
in that iconic image we have of that day and whispered into his ear.
MATTHEWS: Obviously two planes is a hell of a lot different than one,
because it shows it wasn`t an accident, right?
Again, he was frozen in the moment. He was doing an event, and he was
surrounded by all these young children. And the tension in the room was
growing literally by the second.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Colonel Darling right now.
Colonel, thank you for joining us.
You were on duty there at White House. You were in a bunker. Tell us
about how the vice president assumed the authority basically of the chief
executive absent the president, absent the secretary of defense, who was
busy putting out fires basically at the Pentagon at that time.
LT. COL. ROBERT DARLING (RET.), AUTHOR, "24 HOURS INSIDE THE
PRESIDENT`S BUNKER": Yes, that`s right.
It`s great to be with you, by the way, Chris.
And the minute we walked in there -- it was about 9:50 that morning.
They evacuated the White House at 9:45. I went down into the PEOC, the
President`s Emergency Ops Center. They told me not to worry about
logistics, but to answer the phones. They were ringing off the hook.
My first phone call was that we have another hijacked plane 16 miles
south of Pittsburgh inbound Washington, D.C. I turned to my right and
there was the vice president. And I passed the information immediately off
MATTHEWS: Let`s listen to some of that transmission. Let`s listen to
something from that morning, September 11. It`s a piece of that audio that
was made public just this week, one of 114 recordings from that day just
It`s a conversation, as we were just talking about, between military
commanders on the ground and fighter pilots who were up in the air just
after 10:30. They`re discussing an order given by Vice President Dick
Cheney to shoot down civilian planes if needed. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to read this. Region commander has
declared that we can shoot down tracks if they are not responding to our
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will pass that to weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The region commander has declared that we can
shoot down aircraft that do not respond to our direction.
So if you`re trying to divert somebody and he won`t divert
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: D.O. is saying no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No? It came over the chat. Foxy, you got a
conflict on that? You got a conflict on that direction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, no, but keep checking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read that from the vice president, right? The
vice president has cleared...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vice president has cleared us to intercept tracks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... shoot them down if they do not respond, per
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Lieutenant Darling, of course we`re all familiar with
the Constitution, which gives the president the executive authority as
commander in chief, and he designates that through I believe statute to the
secretary of defense.
Both -- that chain of command wasn`t effective. How did the vice
president actually -- it looks like there was a little conflict in that air
conversation, in that transmission about the line of authority there. Is
that how you read it? Or what was going on actually in terms of the right
of the vice president under our Constitution to act in that regard?
I`ll tell you, the minute I gave the vice president information and he
ordered right over to the National Military Command Center. A general
officer was in the bunker there at the Pentagon. He said, I want two F-15s
out of Otis Air National Guard Base. Let me know when they`re airborne.
Stand by to shoot that aircraft down.
There was no discussion. He seemed to have full control. He seemed
to have the authority. He was in full combat mode at that point.
MATTHEWS: How does that work, though? You know the Constitution. We
all know. We`re sworn to uphold it. The vice president has no executive
authority. So how did he get that? Was it derived? Was it given to him,
designated to him by the president that morning? Or what? How did that
happen? Or was it just something he assumed given the emergency situation;
he would take his risks under the Constitution and do what he thought he
had to do as a top political officer in the government?
DARLING: Sure. It`s a great question.
But he says, according to his own testimony elsewhere, that he and the
president had multiple conversations that morning. And at some point, he
felt he had the authority to take that kind of action...
MATTHEWS: I got you.
DARLING: ... from the bunker complex, so there was no discussion with
the president. The minute I gave him that information, he immediately
responded back to the Pentagon asking for those fighters. So if he had the
authority, he got it before we entered the bunker complex.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to you again, Dick.
What were you afraid of at the time? And you were with the whole
clash of reporters -- or klatch of reporters. What were you all thinking?
I was with Phil Griffin. He was the executive producer of this
program at the time. And we were trying to figure it out. And we all sort
of figured I think two planes don`t cross the Hudson by accident.
KEIL: No, that`s right. And we knew as we were going to the airport
from the school after a very hasty statement from the president. We knew
it was an act of terror. Like the president, like Vice President Cheney,
nobody knew what was next. The motorcade was very unusual.
MATTHEWS: How afraid were the people around the president that they
would try to get to him, like the Lincoln assassination, where there`s all
pieces, all kinds of pieces of it?
KEIL: There was a real concern. It was obvious.
And when we got to the airport, Chris, as you know, when you cover the
president, you get a security clearance once in the day, in the morning.
MATTHEWS: Then you`re in the bubble.
KEIL: Then you`re in the bubble. And you only get another one if you
leave the bubble. When we got to that aircraft, all these extra Secret
Service guys had materialized with bomb-sniffing dogs. We had to go
through this again. I was literally running up the back steps of the plane
and with an agent pushing me, telling me to move faster. The plane was
rolling before I got to my seat. And it wasn`t a takeoff, Chris. It was a
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you -- that`s back to you, Colonel -- about the
decisions of the vice president to recommend the president`s`s itinerary
that day, sending him out to the Nebraska. What do you make of that?
He did get back in time to sleep in White House that night, which I
thought was very important for the country to have the president back home.
Tell us what you know about that day in terms of the vice president`s
direction of the traffic by the president.
DARLING: Sure. It was about 10:10 that morning.
We got the president on the phone. He was on Air Force One. He was
airborne. And they put two classified programs into effect. The president
on advice probably from his advisers said continuity of presidency and
continuity of government are now in effect.
Essentially, the president, vice president and the speaker of the
House can no longer be in the same geographical location, as are the
principals from the three branches of government. So that put the
president out of D.C. for the foreseeable future.
MATTHEWS: I think, all around, it was a great show for our country.
Thank you all, gentlemen. Thank you very much, Colonel Darling.
Thank you, Dick Keil. Good reporting, by the way, by both of you. Good
Up next: caught on tape, House Speaker John Boehner. Now, this is
lighthearted. Didn`t have jobs on his brain in the minutes before the
president`s speech this night, last night. By the way, they were talking.
Well, we will tell you what they were talking about. It wasn`t exactly the
hot issue of the 9.1 percent unemployment rate. That`s next in the
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First up: making up for lost time. As Vice President Joe Biden joined
Speaker Boehner in anticipation of the president`s speech last night, it
wasn`t all business they had to catch up on. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got a heck
of a lot of work...
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I played a little
golf in August, and I was down at Dismal River Golf Club out in Sandhills,
It`s the middle of nowhere. It`s one of the hardest golf courses
you`ll ever want to see, Sandhills and Dismal, seven birdies, five bogeys.
I shoot two under.
BIDEN: You`re kidding me.
BOEHNER: So we have lunch. So the next day I go to Sandhills, I
BOEHNER: One day, I play great. The next day, I play awful. But
this was the round of the decade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, these are a couple of scratch golfers there. I have
never these men, by the way, is such an animated conversation before. Golf
seems to be their common ground.
Speaking of candidate exchanges, was this really a heated moment? You
might think so by looking at this snapshot of fellow 2012 candidates Ron
Paul -- look at him go at him -- and Rick Perry during a break at Wednesday
night`s debate. Paul looks like he`s really getting an earful from Perry.
So was it really an angry conversation? Let`s hear it from -- let`s
hear what Ron Paul summed it up -- how he summed it up, the encounter, at a
campaign event yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Picture came out last
night and it`s on the Internet this morning and it`s a picture of myself
with I think the governor of Texas or someplace.
PAUL: Very -- he`s looking straight at me. And he has his hand my
arm like he`s not going to let me move and he`s doing this to me.
PAUL: The truth is, I wish there were a much more interesting story
than that, because I don`t even recall the moment that that was occurring,
and I don`t know remember exactly what he said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes. It looks he`s turning that -- turning into shtick,
some kind of stand-up routine. He doesn`t remember, Ron Paul says,
anything at all. Anyway, not sure about that one.
Anyway, up next, the latest information on this unconfirmed terror
threat, by the way, on the 10th anniversary of the September -- and
September 11 attacks. Boy, this is something everybody is worried about up
right now up in New York especially, a lot of concern up there.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
SCOTT WAPNER, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Scott Wapner with your CNBC
A serious sell-off to close out the week, as volatility rushed back
into the markets. The Dow Jones industrials plunging 303 points. The S&P
tumbling 31 and the Nasdaq falling 61.
All of the major indices giving up their gains for the week today and
you can see the Nasdaq fared a bit better than others ending just barely in
the red for the week. Laying on stocks, it was a key member of the
European Central Bank resigning in protest of the bond-buying program being
used to fight the debt crisis there. Meanwhile, Greece denied rumors that
they`re planning on defaulting over the weekend, but a growing number of
analysts saying that`s exactly what the debt-ridden nation should do.
Here at home, investors were looking for safety, moving into
Treasuries in a big way, driving the 10-year yield to its lowest level in
50 years, as gold futures finished slightly higher today, but lower on the
week amidst some profit-taking and a stronger dollar.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to Chris
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
The news of a potential terrorism threat right now using car bombs on
bridges and tunnels in both New York and here in Washington broke last
night. It`s already added to the heightened security in both cities, ahead
of this weekend`s 9/11 memorial events marking what happened 10 years ago.
By the way, the administration officials have taken to the airwaves to
calm Americans and to tell them to remain vigilant. I`m not sure what
you`re supposed to make of those two calls.
Anyway, just listen to Vice President Biden explaining the threat on
"Today" early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")
BIDEN: This is information from a credible source that indicated that
this was an intent. We have not been able to confirm, nor does that source
confirm who or do they know who the individuals may be that are trying to
find access to the United States, and -- but we`re taking it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining us right now, our NBC terrorism experts, our
analysts, rather -- I don`t know if anybody is, on terrorism, an expert --
Evan Kohlmann, and Michael Sheehan, who also served, by the way, as former
NYPD deputy commissioner for counterterrorism.
Thank you, gentlemen, both.
I want to start with Michael here, then Evan.
The generalized threat of something to do with bridges and tunnels,
that specificity has certainly grabbed a lot of us down here in Washington.
We don`t have a Lincoln or Holland Tunnel. We have some tunnels I guess
around here, but nothing like the ones in New York, with millions of people
going through it. How do you find out that kind of specificity?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, apparently that came
up in some of the chatter involved with this source.
MATTHEWS: You mean somebody over there in Pakistani language was
talking about tunnels and bridges?
SHEEHAN: I think it came from the source. But we have known that al
Qaeda has a long interest in the tunnels and bridges. Actually back prior
to 9/11, they had interest in tunnels and bridges in New York City. And we
have always had a...
MATTHEWS: Because it`s like a choke point?
SHEEHAN: Absolutely. And it just -- a bridge would have a dramatic
effect. You could see it. A tunnel, of course, they`re trying to get a
flooding effect in the tunnel and then into the subway.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. That will capture your imagination, won`t it?
SHEEHAN: It sure will.
MATTHEWS: Let me go up to Evan Kohlmann and the whole question of New
York. I understand New York is -- I`m not saying in a frenzy, but
certainly in a state of serious concern up there.
What`s it`s like in New York in terms of this, and is that a
reasonable response to what we know?
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, look, I mean, there`s
added security. Anyone passing through Penn Station today would have
noticed that there are additional police officers out there. There are
dogs. There are traffic checkpoints.
It`s not overwhelming, though. I think people may have the wrong
idea, and I don`t think people are freaking out quite yet. I think most
people understand that, you know, in this city after 9/11, we have to take
all threats with a degree of caution and with an abundance of concern.
In this case, you had a source that was not Internet chatter. It was
not Internet Web sites. It was not rumor. It was something that
apparently was deemed credible enough to take seriously.
But at the same time
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Was it a human being?
KOHLMAN: Apparently, it was a human source -- a communication from a
human source. But the reality is that we don`t have these names of these
potential individuals who may or may not have entered the U.S. there is no
100 percent indication that there was even anyone who did enter the U.S.
But, look. I mean, we had an individual here less than a year ago.
About a year ago, who managed to get inside the U.S. was a U.S. national,
was passed by the Pakistani Taliban, who got very, very close to blowing up
a bomb inside in Times Square. The only thing that stopped him, too stupid
to put a bomb together properly. That`s not going to be an assurance next
So, whether there was the Pakistani Taliban, whether it was al Qaeda,
whether there is a plot at all, U.S. officials, whether it`s local, state,
or federal, they have to take this stuff seriously. They have to let the
public know about this. They have to inform them even if it`s a fairly
MATTHEWS: You know, I`ve got to ask you, Michael. I don`t know
anything about terrorism except what we read in papers. It seems to me
that Israel, for example, as a country, or the British back in the IRA
days, would face small-scale, you know, a guy would go in a room, kill a
bunch of people, somebody blow up something, go after a police station.
That kind of low-level terrorism has fortunately not hit this country.
We`ve only been hit by this iconic even really, 9/11, and, of course, the
USS Cole and what happened in East Africa and some other places.
Is al Qaeda bent on only dramatic events?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: No, I don`t think so.
I think Al Qaeda would love to do something small. And they`ve been
exhorting their people that adhere to their ideology in the U.S., this so-
called lone wolf, to take action, even with a .9 millimeter pistol or a
rifle, anything they can do.
MATTHEWS: They could horrible stuff.
SHEEHAN: But this case, as Evan said, we`re talking about a couple
guys coming in perhaps with better training that may or may not have
entered country. So, we have to take this seriously and actually, the Pan
Am 103 bombing and the rumors that government knew something before that,
there`s legislation now that requires the U.S. government to share --
MATTHEWS: What do we know about the information? What was the
SHEEHAN: The Pan Am 103 bombing back in 1989, when they blew up the
Scotland airliner in the U.K., had a lot of students from Syracuse
SHEEHAN: Lockerbie, exactly. That bombing, after that, there were
rumors that people might have known something in advance and there`s a
legislation that requires the U.S. government to share.
MATTHEWS: So, all chatter has to be noted. OK.
SHEEHAN: Not all. Just credible stuff noted.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, gentlemen, so much. We hope we don`t need
you again for a while, but we do know that this has to be looked at
Or, as you well noted, Michael, people will wonder why people didn`t
Anyway, Michael Sheehan, thank you. Evan Kohlmann up in New York --
Up next, barbarians at the gate. How worried are Karl Rove and the
Bush crowd, the political establishment of the Republican Party, about the
emergence of this longtime rival Rick Perry? You know, shirts versus skins
looks like in the Republican Party -- the establishment versus the Tea
Party. They don`t like these wild people from the right coming in and
taking their jobs away from them.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Wednesday night`s Republican debate turned the Republican
race into a two-man fight, many believe, between Rick Perry and Mitt
With Michele Bachmann sort of out of the picture already, now,
Bachmann`s campaign is regrouping. They say they`re going to campaign
almost exclusively now in Iowa to get that campaign back on track. It`s a
far cry from early this summer when she was the Iowa front-runner. And
once Perry got in the race, Bachmann began to slip.
I`m actually surprised how quickly this is happening. In fact, I`m
surprised at all of it. But still, if Bachmann can beat Rick Perry in
Iowa, she`s certainly back in the game. If she can`t, probably, she`s out.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you come into our
state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you`re
involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face
the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a real crowd pleaser out there at the
Reagan Library. I got to tell you. I couldn`t believe the clap -- the
instantaneous clapping across the audience of executing criminals.
Unbelievable excitement out there. It`s like in the Roman Colosseum at
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
Rick Perry showing no regrets for the 234 death row inmates he
executed or executed, by the way, on his watch in Texas. He calls Social
Security, by the way, a Ponzi. He characterized Federal Reserve`s actions
as near treason.
And he doesn`t back down from any of this stuff. He`s not your Bush-
style, I never thought I`d say George W. Bush was an elitist -- but compare
to him, this guy is something. The people in the Bush team had made clear,
Perry is not their man.
And there are two parts now of the Republican Party and they seem to
be on a collision course right now.
To talk about it is Alex Wagner, an MSNBC contributor and a
"Huffington Post" reporter. Thank you.
And Sasha Issenberg is author of the e-book, "Rick Perry and His
Well, I can`t resist that title, Sasha. So, let`s start.
Why did -- are we hearing people coming out of the woodwork, all
kinds of people, Karl Rove, from the establishment to the just Perry
haters, who are now having a problem with Rick Perry because he`s now high
in the polls?
SASHA ISSENBERG, AUTHOR, "RICK PERRY & HIS EGGHEADS": Well, I mean,
MATTHEWS: Is it personal or ideological?
ISSENBERG: It`s mostly personal. In 1998, these guys were both
running statewide in Texas. They didn`t run on the same ticket. So, Bush
was guaranteed re-election and Rove was looking ahead how to make this guy
a viable presidential candidate in 2000. And he wanted 70 percent of the
vote, which means winning Democrats in Texas.
Rick Perry was in a really tough race for lieutenant governor and he
needed to be a strong Democrat and Perry wanted to go negative and the
suspicion at the Rove circle was that Perry was basically sabotaging their
campaign by telling him not to. So, as to keep Democrats coming out voting
for Bush at the top of the ticket.
MATTHEWS: And for the Perry point of view, what`s the truth of this
ISSENBERG: I think the truth is that their interesting totally
diverge that year, and ever since, there`s a feeling that the Bush
entrapped themselves and they supported Kay Bailey Hutchinson primarying a
strong, incumbent governor, that they were being in their way just loyal to
the Republican Party. And I think these two guys battling for primacy of
the great Texas governor of their generation.
MATTHEWS: Is there a -- Alex, is there a clash aspect to this, the
cloth coats and the country clubbers? What we call the main coat
Republican, the cloth coat Republicans?
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Yes, I mean, look,
George Bush went to Yale. Rick Perry`s farmers were hard scrabbled farmers
in parts of Texas that nobody wanted to farm. I mean, his life story is
incredibly compelling and there`s absolutely a fiscal difference that lies
between them, a class difference.
But I got say, if not the war, to the kerfuffle between the two
camps, I do think that some part of this is psychological because any
criticism of Perry is inextricably linked to criticism of Bush. And it
reminds the Bushies of a line of attack that was pretty withering and
launched at George Bush, the cowboy stuff, the Texas stuff. And --
MATTHEWS: Yes. But now, they are on that side. Now they are making
WAGNER: Well, I mean, there are a couple of things going on, though,
WAGNER: Well, look, I think there are a couple things. One is that
Karl rove, very much sees himself as king maker of the Republican Party.
And he -- there is real, a real sense in the GOP that they can win this
thing in 2012. And they need a candidate that`s going to win in the
general. They fundamentally don`t think that candidate is Rick Perry.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s listen to Karl say that. Here he is talking
about Rick Perry. He needs to deal with some of the language of his book
like calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Appreciate the input, let`s
listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: What they`ve done, thus far, is I
think is inadequate, which is to basically say, look, we didn`t write the
book with the presidential campaign in mind. Well, OK, fine. But they are
going to have to find a way to deal with these things because, as you say,
they are toxic in a general election environment and they`re also toxic in
a Republican primary.
PERRY: You know, Karl has been over the top for a long time in some
of his remarks. So, you know, I`m not responsible for Karl any more.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, Sasha?
ISSENBERG: Yes. I think that there is this difference that when
Bush first started running for president in 1999, he was thinking about the
general election and he had never run a difficult primary before. Perry`s
having to get through a primary. He`s not thinking about the general
election. A lot of this positioning is, you know, he can`t be this sort of
inclusive broad-based candidate that Bush was when he first sort of came on
the national stage. Ands I think we are seeing the sort of first hints of
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look. Here is Mitt Romney that said one
of the more extreme positions could mean the end of the Republican Party if
he`s the nominee. Let`s listen to this extreme language.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If our nominee, if we
nominate someone who the Democrats can correctly characterize as being
opposed to Social Security, we would be obliterated as a party.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know what, he sounds like a guy, Alex, who is trying
to make the case that although you may like this guy more than me, he`s
just too dangerous.
MATTHEWS: But he is sort of admitting, I`m the safer candidate. I`m
not the most exciting. In fact, I`m not even the red meat, but safer move.
WAGNER: Exactly. Choose me because I`m the guy for the rest of the
Look, the fates of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are twin. They`re like
a jigsaw puzzles where one is concave, the other one is going to be convex.
I think that`s what this field shaping up to be.
So, whatever is a negative for Rick Perry is a positive for Mitt
Romney and he`s going to play this out as much as he possibly can.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m going to ask you both to give me your
assessments looking at the field right now. You`ve been talking to people.
Is the Republican Party now so red-hot they don`t want to hear from some
cool-headed middle of the road type?
ISSENBERG: No, I think is a turn in the campaign where people sort
of start to worry about electability and putting out some of these --
ISSENBERG: I think, you know, Kerry --
MATTHEWS: Are primary voters and caucus voters strategic voters or
are they impulse voters?
ISSENBERG: I think the people we`re hearing from now tend to be
emoting. And I think that, you know, as the calendar goes on and sort of
pool of people who are voting expands, they tend to be more sensible and
pragmatic. I think that --
MATTHEWS: You obviously are making a judgment it would be smarter to
ISSENBERG: I think Perry -- Romney is making this case. And I don`t
think that, I think that there`s an open question as to whether Perry --
MATTHEWS: OK. All my life, I`ve heard the argument, Democrats love
to run against the far right because they can beat them easily. Frank
Musto (ph), they can beat Orrin Hatch that way. Carter thought he could
Is that your general view? Do you accept? I think the red-hot guy
often wins the general.
WAGNER: I don`t know. The next debate is in Florida. That`s senior
country. You go down there saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme,
you`re going to have a hard time winning the message war on that one,
MATTHEWS: We`ll see. I`m betting on Perry. I`ll say it again. I
think people vote their gut.
Anyway, thank you, Alex Wagner. People are going to voting booth to
Anyway, Sasha Issenberg, you may both be wrong.
When we return, let me finish with what`s missing in America today,
our national soul. Wait until you hear what I say when we come back. This
is going to surprise some people.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a phrase you don`t hear these
days, war effort. That`s where the country gets together in common purpose
to support a war. Not everyone is at the front of course. Some are in the
support of the fighting forces. Some are back home doing the work that
speeds to victory and some are just Hollywood stars out selling war bonds
and, of course, the millions are buying war bonds or collecting scrap metal
or accepting rationing or higher taxes. Put all the people together,
keeping up with the ware news, hoping for our forces to carry the day doing
Well, this spirit is captured in that phrase "war effort" is as
foreign to us now as those old news reels at the movie theaters. I wonder
if that isn`t the essential force feeling missing in this country today,
the sense of common cause, of being in this thing together, and willing to
accept the burden as well as freedoms, and even today, the familiar joys of
what is a uniquely American life.
I wonder on these days before 9/11/11 of this thing that is missing
in America today is America itself. That America that got us through the
Great Depression and World War II and, yes, through the really perilous
days of the Cold War where we did fear a nuclear exchange, the thought of
which enfeebles the human imagination for horror.
Where did we lose it? Where did it go, this America, this national
soul whose absence leaves our daily sense of this country? It seems today,
I`ll say it -- so soulless. How did we get to be just a clattering clash
of separate interests, who identify as not as country but as fighting
legions, labor, minorities, rich people want to above all guard their
treasure, angry classes making each other`s days by the latest offense
I want to take this moment to recall that there have been times, even
in the early part of this new century, when we stood proudly and strangely
happy together. When the young and the better off cheered the passing fire
truck, when our eyes glistened again and again and thought of that guy
running up the stairs of the World Trade Tower when we were all running
down; when people`s first impulse against all self interest was to rush to
those towers and to the flaming Pentagon and to the cockpit of flight 39
knowing that that plane could take only so much cask and hell (ph) aboard
before it too crashed.
But on the -- not on the United States Capitol treasured by us even
now is the symbol of our self government and dignity and honor as a people.
They saved us, those people on 93 from that. And how can we fear even a
dangerous world if we have people like this as our countrymen?
I`ll say it now and I say it then, how much better I feel about being
an American when it is that fact, being an American, not anything else,
that we most proudly wish to feel.
That`s HARDBALL on this day before the 9/11 weekend. Thanks for
being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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