Guests: Steve Schmidt, John Heilemann, Cynthia Tucker, Sam Tanenhaus, E.J.
Dionne, Dana Milbank
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Not happy.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight--
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER FINCH, "NETWORK": I`m as mad as hell and I`m not going to take this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the mood of the country right now. People are mad
as hell, and they want their politicians to be angry, too. Maybe that`s
why Republicans are swooning over Chris Christie. He`s tough, he`s gritty,
he`s hurting. And he reflects the mood out there. Can President Obama
catch Christie fever and reflect that gritty spirit of the times? He may
have to if he wants to win reelection.
Then we`ll try to figure out tonight what Republican presidential candidate
Herman Cain meant when he said that African-Americans have been, quote,
"brainwashed" into voting for Democrats. Brainwashed. What`s he talking
Plus, why conservatives hate billionaire Warren Buffett. E.J. Dionne of
"The Washington Post" writes today that the right wing wants to shut
Buffett up for speaking the truth about how the tax code actually makes the
rich richer, the poor poorer. He`s coming here tonight.
And Michele Bachmann is once again talking about how she`s -- her word here
-- "submissive" to her husband. She`s looking to shore up her evangelical
base, but is it too late?
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with why Christie`s so hot. I think it`s
because he`s hurting, like most people.
We begin with who`s got the grit to match the voter anger out there.
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt was the senior strategist to John
McCain`s 2008 presidential campaign. And John Heilemann writes for "New
Gentleman -- let me just go to you, Steve. You`re the Republican here.
Heilemann, you cover this party, as well as the other party. Chris
Christie, my hunch, my premise tonight, I think he`s got something. It`s
irritability. It`s, like, Don`t mess with me. You take a shot at me, I`ll
shoot back at you. It`s the angry guy or woman in traffic. Life is
congested today. We`re angry. He`s got that sense.
STEVE SCHMIDT, FMR. MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: He`s real. He`s
tough. He says what he thinks. And I think the American people, who as
you accurately pointed out -- they`re in a very bad mood. They think the
country`s going in the wrong direction, and they look at Washington and
they see a giant weasel pack, you know, in the Senate and the House and
politicians of both parties.
He`s someone who has approached the problems of his state with utter
fearlessness, unafraid to take a position. And I think that people are
just absolutely craving an authentic leader. And I think that`s why he`s
MATTHEWS: That`s why I think there might be something in this for
President Obama. He doesn`t attack government like these yahoos do all the
time. He doesn`t say, Taxes, taxes, taxes, government, government. He
says, Shut up, lady. Shut up, buddy. Have (INAUDIBLE) Get off the beach,
buddy. He`s angry (INAUDIBLE) angry -- I`m sorry -- generally.
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Yes. And I think -- look, I mean,
Steve points out it`s true of Washington. I think it`s true of a lot of
big systems and institutions. A lot of people in America think the deck is
stacked against them. They feel that way about the media. They feel like
that about Wall Street. There is this notion that it`s all a rigged game.
And Christie is basically kind of calling BS on that, and that is very
attractive to people. More than any programmatic solution, the notion that
you`re calling it out and saying, This is just all a charade, we need to
get real here -- that appeals to people in a very primal way.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at some of Christie`s greatest "atty-
tude" hits. Let`s listen. He has an attitude, this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Get the hell off the beach in Asbury
Park and get out. You`re done. It`s 4:30. You`ve maximized your tan.
You`re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh,
I just said it! And I`m still standing here!
CHRISTIE: I did not vaporize into the carpeting!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t send your children to public schools, you
send them to private schools, so I was wondering why you think it`s fair to
be cutting school funding to public schools.
CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail (ph), you know what? First off, it`s none of your
business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t
bother me about where I send mind.
You know, Tom, you must be the thinnest-skinned guy in America because you
think that`s a confrontational tone, then, you know, you should really see
me when I`m pissed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You`ve got to explain this. And I`m going to be humble here for
five minutes. You`re the pros.
SCHMIDT: He`s from Jersey, don`t forget that.
MATTHEWS: Why do people love, at least this week, this guy and the way he
talks? Most people on local television, for example, say, the consumer`s
always right. It`s the bridge (ph) is the problem, not you. Everything`s
a problem but you. You`re wonderful. He`s saying to the public,
basically, you`re part of the problem.
SCHMIDT: Look, I think a lot of people are just offended and sick and
tired of all the political correctness, of leaders tip-toeing around, focus
grouping, polling, What do I say, worried about offending this one, that
one. He`s just utterly real. He has--
MATTHEWS: Is he the original John McCain?
SCHMIDT: He`s got a lot of--
MATTHEWS: Before you guys got to him?
SCHMIDT: He`s got a lot of those -- he`s got a lot of those qualities. I
mean, you know, he says what he thinks. And I think that when you look at
Republicans -- I mean, part of the problem the party has had is the notion
that we`re not fighting for the little guy anymore. I mean, the Reagan
Democrats, right, believed that Ronald Reagan had their interests at heart.
We were a party that could communicate to the CEO but also to the guy who
was sweeping the floor.
And he`s absolutely someone who has a blue-collar sensibility. The ability
to put a Northeast face on the party is a game changer. He`s a very
compelling candidate, I think, out there, and he suits the times very well.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to President Obama. He says he doesn`t watch these
debates. He says he doesn`t pay attention. He must. What can they learn
from this guy, in terms of his ability to connect? Can a guy who`s playing
defense somehow shift to offense, meaning Obama?
HEILEMANN: Well, I think he`s going to have to. And -- and I think -- you
know, I think it`s one of the biggest mistakes that they made. You know,
when Obama came to Washington, the biggest mandate that he had was, you
know, this ephemeral thing, but it was change. Change the system. This is
all messed up. Go in there and change things. Don`t play by the old
rules. Don`t play the old game. Speak truth to power.
HEILEMANN: And he came and became a Washington inside player. And there
are reasons why he did that. He wanted to get health care passed. He
wanted to play the legislative game, but he became of this city and of the-
MATTHEWS: A friend of Harry Reid`s and Nancy Pelosi`s.
HEILEMANN: Yes, and not the kind of person that Steve`s talking about,
Reagan Democrats, those -- the -- working people in America want
(INAUDIBLE) and this is what Bill Clinton did so well, as well as Ronald
Reagan. He gave them the impression he was out there fighting for them
MATTHEWS: Well, this--
HEILEMANN: -- against -- against--
HEILEMANN: -- against all the things arrayed against them. Obama has never
given them that feeling.
MATTHEWS: OK, what you just described about the president`s complacent or
not -- compliant manner -- here`s the president hovering right now around
40 percent, actually, a bit below it. In today`s Gallup poll, he stands at
39 percent. Now, he`s been that low for a few days now. He`s at 51.
But you`re a Republican. Open your heart. Would Obama be better off
getting a little tougher and grittier and stop being Mr. Nice Guy?
SCHMIDT: I think one of the problems that he has right now is, I think
he`s fundamentally overexposed, number one. And secondly, I think he`s in
a bit of a conundrum. It`s important for him to point out the seriousness
of the problems that he inherited when he came into office, but he`s been
in office for three years and you -- I think you just eviscerate yourself
from a leadership perspective when you`re constantly blaming, you know,
other people for the problems that are around.
So I just think he`s in a difficult situation. People are angry. I think
he should be less political. I think, you know, he should be out there
focusing on the duties of being president. And that`s always the best path
MATTHEWS: You agree with that? He shouldn`t point out the fact that he
walked into an auto industry that was dead, a banking industry that was
sick, a group of American consumers who were scared to death and investors
who were burnt? And he shouldn`t point out what he walked into?
HEILEMANN: I think people already -- he`s done that a lot, and I think
people already know that. I think it`s -- to your point, if he wants to
sort of blame -- he wants to be critical, if he wants to be fighting, he
should be fighting these Republicans who are being intransigent--
HEILEMANN: -- and keeping him from passing an agenda that would help people
now. But what`s interesting, Chris, is that, you know, when he got out and
got a little feisty the other day, where he made this comment in front of a
largely black audience, when he talked about, you know, Stop complaining--
MATTHEWS: Get out of your slippers.
HEILEMANN: -- get out of your slippers--
MATTHEWS: Put on your marching boots.
HEILEMANN: That`s a very Chris Christie-ish kind of thing to say. And
what happened was, that part of the party rose up, and you know, challenged
HEILEMANN: There were a lot of voices that were, like, What is the
MATTHEWS: Well, Maxine Waters did. I don`t know if she speaks for the
HEILEMANN: I don`t mean -- I don`t mean to suggest she does. But I`m
saying that -- that -- the Democratic base is a little bit more politically
correct and tends to be more -- gets more offended when the president does
things that a guy like Chris Christie can get away with in the Republican
Party. Harder for a Democratic president to do those things when it comes
to his base. It`s just harder. There`s more--
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question. You`ve got two personalities running
for president coming up in 2012. Let`s assume the Republican candidate
will be smart to be angry. I know Mitt can`t fake it very well, but he
ought to be angry. If Obama seems cheerful, if he off base?
SCHMIDT: I think at the end of the day, you have to be who you are. And I
think at the end of the day, the president is an optimistic person. I
think he`s a nice person. He conveys nice. People like the president.
That`s why it`s a mistake for a Rick Perry, for example, to attack the
president personally, as opposed to, you know, his policies. I think that
angry candidates don`t win.
SCHMIDT: At the end of the day.
MATTHEWS: Howard Dean--
SCHMIDT: But the--
SCHMIDT: Howard dean, for example, was an angry candidate. But--
MATTHEWS: Bob Dole.
SCHMIDT: -- the strategic use of anger, right, the strategic use--
SCHMIDT: -- of anger to suit the times, I think, is appropriate. And I
think he is very much aligned with the zeitgeist of the times.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this. Here`s how the Republicans stand
right now. There`s been very little movement. It looks like it`s frozen
now until the next debate -- or to whether Christie gets in or not. Let`s
take a look at this. Mitt Romney`s at 23, but he`s been at 23 for about
five years right now. Rick Perry`s fallen 10 points to 19. That`s
movement in the wrong direction.
Look at this. Herman Cain is now in contention. He didn`t just win that
straw vote down there in Florida last week. Look at him! He`s at 17.
He`s within striking distance.
John, you covered this. Is he actually a candidate now that could win this
HEILEMANN: No. And--
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s it mean to be up that high?
HEILEMANN: Well, it means that there`s been a collapse in support for Rick
Perry. It means that he`s given some good debate performances. It means
that people like his specificity.
MATTHEWS: What`s stopping him?
HEILEMANN: You know, the 9-9-9 thing -- well, I just -- I don`t think he`s
a serious or credible candidate. And I think he`s very much like a lot of
other Republicans. Michele Bachmann was up at 17 percent for a while, and
now she`s at zero, or down to 3 percent or whatever. She`s below Jon
Huntsman now. You know, Donald Trump was--
MATTHEWS: She`s ahead in Iowa.
HEILEMANN: Donald Trump was--
MATTHEWS: She`s ahead of Perry in Iowa.
HEILEMANN: Donald Trump was at the top for a while. We`ve had a
succession of fad candidates because there is a fundamental lack of
satisfaction with Mitt Romney. You point out, it`s correct, he may win the
Republican nomination, but he`s been at that 23 percent for a long time.
He`s not been able to rally the grass roots, and there`s still a big part
of the establishment that`s not that comfortable with him, and so they
HEILEMANN: There`s, like, a free radical vote that goes and lands on these
people and then drifts away.
MATTHEWS: The last week or two, the president`s gotten tough. He`s been
populist. He`s gone over, if you will, to the left, the populist side of
things. I think he`s got his -- he`s beginning to rouse the troops. Do
you think he`s right?
MATTHEWS: If he rouses -- he`s got to get above 40 percent before he gets
to 50 percent.
SCHMIDT: Yes. Absolutely. I think he`s out there. I think he`s rallying
the Democratic base. There`s been, you know a -- you know, a lot of, you
know, second-guessing, hand-wringing out there. And you know, he`s doing
an effective job campaigning. But you know, American elections are won in
the middle of the electorate. And you know, what`s going to be interesting
to see is how these messages appeal in that middle space.
MATTHEWS: Do you buy he`s been -- the last couple weeks have been good,
he`s getting back in the saddle?
HEILEMANN: I think he`s -- because he`s starting to show some of that
fight. He`s starting to show that feistiness. I think he`s -- the main
thing -- the only thing that`s going to help Barack Obama is when he gets a
Republican who he can focus on and can start drawing--
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
HEILEMANN: -- a clear contrast with some individual.
MATTHEWS: Steve Schmidt, who ran the campaign for John McCain, I think you
did a good job last time. I mean it. We were all rooting for you, by the
way. And a lot of us in this business like John McCain a lot.
SCHMIDT: Of course. He`s a great guy.
MATTHEWS: He didn`t think we did, and we were tough on him last time. I
liked Obama, but I tell you, I`ve always liked McCain. He`s still mad at
me. Fine. That`s the way it is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Steve -- Steve Schmidt. Thank you, John Heilemann.
He ought to be mad at me!
Coming up: Herman Cain`s rising in the polls, but what did he mean when he
said -- he said one of these lines you better not say. He says African-
Americans are brainwashed into voting for Democrats. Now, what`s he
talking about? Let`s have him say that.
We`re watching it -- you`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: President Obama`s struggling in 12 swing states, all of which he
won last time around. A new poll from the bipartisan group Purple
Strategies finds the president`s approval rating at 41 percent in those 12
states you see on the map there.
That`s not so great, but the Republican front-runners actually do worse.
Mitt Romney`s viewed favorably by just 32 percent in those 12 states and
Rick Perry`s down at 24. So head to head right now, Mitt Romney`s at 46
and President Obama`s at 43 in those 12 swing states. The president does a
little better against Rick Perry. Obama`s up over Perry 46 to 44.
Well be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Herman Cain is coming off a win in
the Florida straw vote and he`s surging in that new Fox poll. But he`s
getting blasted for one of his latest remarks. Yesterday on CNN, Cain
upset some African-Americans while talking about his bid to win the
Republican nomination. Let`s listen to Mr. Cain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many African-Americans have
been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a
conservative point of view. For two thirds of them, Wolf, that is the
Now, the good news is, I happen to believe that a third to 50 percent of
the black Americans in this country, they are open-minded. I meet them
every day. They stop me in the airport. And so this whole notion that all
black Americans are necessarily going to stay and vote Democrat and vote
for Obama -- that`s simply not true. More and more black Americans are
thinking for themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, did he go too far with that comment? Cynthia Tucker is a
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Michael Steele is the former chair of
the Republican National Committee, and of course, an MSNBC political
Let me ask you first -- well, I`ll start with you. I don`t know how to
register these things. Everybody sensed (ph) them. Maybe they should,
maybe they shouldn`t. Brainwashed -- black voters are brainwashed into
voting Democrat. Does that say something about the vote or about Cain or
CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATE COLUMNIST: Well, it was -- Cain was certainly
condescending when he suggested that black voters only vote for Democrats
because they have been brainwashed. How condescending is that, as if black
voters don`t have the good sense to look at a party`s platforms and
proposals and decide who they want to support?
But let`s face it. Herman Cain, even if he were somehow to become the
Republican nominee, wasn`t going to get a lot of black votes anyway because
of his policies.
TUCKER: So it hardly matters that he offended some black voters.
MATTHEWS: Boy, there`s so many levels to go at this--
MATTHEWS: I don`t know whether to go at it from the level of political
correct, wrong speech, or -- well, you start--
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`ll take it --
I`ll take it from that point first because I think, in the context of
running for president of the United States, there`s a way to express a
particular opinion with respect to how people vote without getting everyone
And I think what happens here, the point, which I think is a valid one, is
lost in what people hear him say right out of the box. Everything after
"brainwashed," if that was all he said, would be a part of a conversation I
think would be important. But when you start the conversation by saying,
Well, the audience that I`m going after is brainwashed, guess what? That
audience, you`re not going after them anymore.
MATTHEWS: Anymore. OK, let`s start after that word "brainwashed" to the
question of voting patterns. Let`s take a look at the latest voting
patterns. Now, this is pretty pronounced here -- 1988, Democrats got --
let`s look at this -- a majority of African-Americans have historically
supported Democratic candidates for president. Since the 1970s, Democratic
candidates have received over 80 percent of the African-American vote. And
look at these numbers recently.
Of course -- well, look at that. Barack Obama came close to winning nearly
all the black vote in 2008. I think he lost 4 percent. He was 95 to 4.
So let me get to a couple levels because this is a fascinating question.
Brainwashed into voting D -- that would be stupid (INAUDIBLE) weren`t
taught to evacuate mechanically the Democratic line. So it`s to vote for
Democratic candidates because you historically believe they`re on your
Now, what does that mean, Cynthia, to you? Why is it 90-some percent
almost voting Democrat?
TUCKER: Well, I think it is clear that black Americans believe that
Democrats have the policies that help them. It`s also clear that
Republicans have run on policies that are openly antagonistic to black
And it`s not just policies. It`s the so-called dog whistle in politics.
It`s the Southern strategy. It is the Republican Party going out of its
MATTHEWS: Starting in `64.
TUCKER: -- to send signals -- to send signals to conservative whites that
say, I understand why you`re upset about the Civil Rights movement. I
understand why you are unhappy about those uppity black folk. Those are
the things that have--
MATTHEWS: There`s a word!
TUCKER: -- that have black voters running into the Americans--
TUCKER: -- of the Democratic Party.
STEELE: There`s so much wrong with what Cynthia just said.
First off, that -- that belies the facts at this point in time. Number
one, the Southern strategy died in 1992, when Bubba went back to the
Democratic Party in the election of Bill Clinton, pure and simple. It`s
been a national nightmare for Republicans to cobble together the votes they
need, you know, having -- win national elections, yes, that`s great. But
look at the percentage of the white vote that they`re getting in each of
the successive elections.
It`s getting smaller and smaller. As more and more minorities become
politically engaged, particularly in Hispanics, the Republican Party is
going to have a real problem. Number two, we elected two African-Americans
to the United States Congress in 2010. We elected African-Americans to the
legislatures around the country, including Texas.
So this idea that the Republican Party can`t speak to the African-American
community is not necessarily valid. But to this point, it is, that the
party has a real problem making sure that folks understand that, with
respect to those policies, economic empowerment, educational empowerment,
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s listen to one of those fellows you mentioned.
STEELE: -- powerful message.
MATTHEWS: Here`s one of the African-Americans elected to Congress. Here`s
Allen West from Florida. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: You have this 21st century plantation that
has been out there, where the Democrat Party has forever taken the black
vote for granted.
And you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than
the overseers of that plantation. So I`m here, as the modern-day Harriet
Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is this the only way you get quoted on television, using
language that drives somebody crazy? Overseers? Simon Legree?
TUCKER: I have no -- I have no idea why Allen West, who has made a name
for himself not playing -- not playing the so-called race card, would
decide to hold himself up as a Harriet Tubman, who`s going to lead black
people away from the plantation.
TUCKER: That strikes your average black--
MATTHEWS: Who was Harriet Tubman? Tell me.
TUCKER: She was a very historic figure during the time of slavery who
helped black enslaved folks escape through the Underground Railroad.
STEELE: And a Republican. But that`s another story.
TUCKER: That was back in the days..
TUCKER: -- back in the days of Lincoln. And black folks voted for the
Republican Party way back when.
STEELE: Well, it`s not way back.
The black vote has been solidly Republican up until the 1950s. In fact,
the last Republican president to get a majority of the black vote was
Eisenhower in `56. He got close to 60 percent of the black vote. But
that`s the point.
MATTHEWS: By the way, let`s not trash the Republican Party historically,
because in the 1960s, when they actually voted for civil rights--
STEELE: Exactly. That`s what I was getting to.
MATTHEWS: -- the Republican Party was overwhelmingly for the civil rights
bill of `64, the key piece of legislation. Dirksen led that fight. And
then it was the Southern Democrats that held out against it.
TUCKER: But that was a different Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Since the `60s.
TUCKER: And then in 1964, Barry Goldwater got the Republican nomination
and ran on a platform of states` rights--
MATTHEWS: Against the civil rights bill.
TUCKER: -- which was opposed to the civil rights movement. And that drove
black people to the Democratic Party.
STEELE: Exactly. And you`re absolutely right. Dr. King went to the
pulpit of his church and made it very clear where he was standing because
of the Democratic--
STEELE: -- support for King.
MATTHEWS: Let`s -- let me give you a shot here, 30 seconds.
MATTHEWS: You can make your case. Why are Democrats -- why are most
African-Americans wrong to vote 90 percent Democrat?
STEELE: Well, because you`re not leveraging the one asset that matters
most to the political class. And that is your vote.
When -- if I give all my votes to one individual, at some point, she will
stop listening to me. If you pay no attention to my vote and I have no
incentive to pay attention to you, guess what? I`m sitting out here--
MATTHEWS: OK, voting strategically. Even though you don`t agree with the
Republicans, give them a little once in a while so they can play ball with
STEELE: No, but make them -- no, no, no, but make them come to the issues
as you see them so that they can -- because that`s ultimately what
elections are about. You`re going to go--
MATTHEWS: OK. Who should go first? Should the Republicans go to your
community first or should your community go to them?
STEELE: We should absolutely -- look, my first day -- my first day on the
job as chairman, I went to Harlem. And people asked me, why are you going
to Harlem? Because that`s where the votes are.
MATTHEWS: That`s why you succeeded as chairman of the Republican Party.
STEELE: I did. We got 63 seats in the House and--
MATTHEWS: But they didn`t like you for doing that. Did they like you
STEELE: Some liked it. Some didn`t. That`s the reality of politics.
MATTHEWS: When Jack Kemp comes back, let me know, will you?
MATTHEWS: -- in spirit. Thank you. I mean, a Republican who really wants
a big tent.
TUCKER: Not only has he passed on. So has that Republican Party passed
STEELE: But you`re looking at one right here.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
I accept that. And I`m glad you`re here. Thank you, Michael Steele, my
STEELE: All right.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Cynthia Tucker.
I love to see you argue.
MATTHEWS: Up next, turns out an endorsement from Donald Trump hurts more
than helps. This is going to kill the Trumpster. Apparently, that man
doesn`t help. I know he creates publicity, but he -- maybe he can hurt,
but he doesn`t help.
And then words between Donald Trump and the presidential candidate Jon
Huntsman are getting a little nasty. Let`s catch that in the "Sideshow."
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First up, the Trump factor. It all started with a FOX News poll released
yesterday, pointing out that scoring a dinner date with the Donald might
not be all that helpful to a 2012 candidate. According to the poll, 31
percent of people said that an endorsement from Trump would make them less
likely to support a candidate, with only 6 percent saying it would have a
positive influence on their vote.
So which candidate comes out on top with that development? Jon Huntsman,
who has been seen nowhere with Donald Trump. When the poll was released,
Huntsman`s spokesman added his own two cents, saying -- quote -- "Hoping
Governors Romney and Perry`s courtship of Trump continues well into the
winter. Next season`s best reality show might be Rick, Mitt, and Donald
choppering to Hawaii to examine the birth certificate."
Well, think Trump was going to let that one slide? Not before taking the
issue to Twitter himself this morning -- quote -- "Jon Huntsman has zero
chance of getting the nomination. Whoever said I wanted to meet him? Time
is money, and I don`t waste mine."
Well, I don`t know how Huntsman felt about that news, but here`s what his
spokesman put out -- quote -- "Unlike Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Governor
Huntsman isn`t wasting his time with `Presidential Apprentice.` His focus
is on real solutions to fix our nation`s economy."
Well, I think we have had enough of that one.
Anyway, next up, let`s go out to Hollywood, as actor George Clooney makes
the rounds to hype up his upcoming political thriller, the movie "The Ides
of March." Well, the inevitable question surely comes up, would he, George
Clooney, ever consider making the leap into politics himself?
Well, it turns out he has an interesting concern about the whole idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: You know, I don`t know that anybody can do this too
cleanly. I spent about 16 weeks in an office on K Street with Republican
operatives Mary Matalin and Michael Deaver and with James Carville and Paul
I worked with a bunch of them, and I saw how difficult it was for anyone
running in the political arena on either side to not have to shake hands
with people that made them sort of not feel clean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, too many germs? That`s so much for trusting the people. I
guess he`s worried about people he doesn`t really like, not just people
Anyway, now for the "Big Number."
There`s another face-off going on in Congress and this one has nothing to
do with politics exactly and everything to do with gaining a following via
Twitter, that is. And it looks like Republicans are taking the lead,
believe it or not, with 86 percent of the House Republicans getting the
word out in 146 characters or less to just 75 percent of House Democrats.
But some members seem to be going to the extreme route here. Which member
of Congress do you think is the most frequent to tweet? Well, that would
be California Republican Darrell Issa, with an average of 13.6 tweets a
day, 13.6. It reaches the -- nobody else even reaches the double digits
per day. That`s 13.6 tweets a day by Darrell Issa out in California.
That`s tonight`s "Big Number."
Up next, conservatives want to muzzle Warren Buffett for saying his taxes
are lower than they should be and lower than his secretary`s. Buffett has
become conservative enemy number one for speaking the truth about the tax
code in this country, a tax code under which the rich have gotten richer
and the poor have struggled.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
BERTHA COOMBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Bertha Coombs with your CNBC
Another wild day on Wall Street. The Dow climbing 143 points after being
down double digits. The S&P 500 was up 9. But the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost
10. Investors about ready to pull their hair out today as the Dow surged
260 points at the open, was down over 100 points into the red, but then
battled back on that triple-digit finish. It`s just one of those things
that is now something that we have gotten used to on Wall Street.
Shares started out a lot higher on better-than-expected weekly jobless
claims coming in below 400,000 for the first time since April, although the
Labor Department says there may be technical issues with that. The
Commerce Department also revising its second-quarter GDP number higher,
confirming slow growth, rather than a recession.
Meantime, better news out of Europe as Germany`s Parliament approved some
controversial reforms to the European bailout fund. But shares of U.S.-
listed Chinese companies took a big hit on word that the Justice Department
is looking into accounting irregularities among those stocks. And Research
In Motion slid on rumors that it is abandoning its PlayBook tablet and
canceling plans for future tablet P.C.s.
That`s it for CNBC. We`re first in business worldwide -- now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any reform should follow
another simple principle. Middle-class families shouldn`t pay higher taxes
than millionaires and billionaires. That`s pretty straightforward. It`s
hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett`s secretary shouldn`t pay a
higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Though President Obama made that speech in the Rose Garden, it was
effectively the kickoff to his 2012 campaign. And he made clear that
fairness will be a pillar of economic reform in his 2012 message.
Today in a column entitled "Why Warren Buffett Is Conservative Enemy Number
One," E.J. Dionne of "The Post," "The Washington Post," writes: "Maybe only
a really, really rich guy can credibly make the case for why the wealthy
should be asked to pay more in taxes. You can`t accuse a big capitalist of
class warfare, and that`s why the right wing despises Warren Buffett and is
trying so hard to shut him up."
Will Obama`s Buffett strategy pay off? That`s our question right now.
E.J. Dionne is a columnist, as I said, for "The Washington Post." And Sam
Tanenhaus is the editor of "The New York Times Book Review" and author of
"The Death of Conservatism."
You first, E.J., and thanks for being with us. This thing about Buffett,
is this going to be big, this fight about the very rich paying maybe 15
percent in capital gains compared to a lot of people paying 30 percent, 35
percent in taxes?
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, thanks for having me
And, yes, I think you can tell it`s a big deal from the way conservatives
are going after Warren Buffett. I mean, Warren Buffett is the people`s
capitalist, really. He doesn`t dress fancy. He doesn`t remind you of that
banker on the chance card in "Monopoly."
And he has given us the simplest way to understand the unfairness of the
tax code. You only pay 15 percent on capital gains. Very, very rich
people, particularly investors, hedge fund guys, that`s where they make
most of their money. A plumber, a nurse, a cop, they make their money on -
- through their labor.
And so what this is saying is, if you make your money through capital,
fine, it`s fine to be risk, but you shouldn`t tax labor at a higher rate
that you tax capital, and Warren Buffett crystallized it.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this, Sam, in terms of conservative
philosophy? Is this protection of the very wealthy consistent with the
history of the Republican Party, even its recent history?
SAM TANENHAUS, AUTHOR, "THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM": It`s fascinating,
And great to meet E.J. I have been reading his stuff for years. I have
never actually seen him up close.
It`s funny; if you look back at the first big Republican Party gains in the
modern era -- and stay with me -- they go all the way back to 1946, when
Robert Taft was a great figure in the Republican Party and led the Congress
to their victory in 1946, Democratic President Harry Truman.
Taft wanted to cut taxes. But the emphasis was on the middle class and the
poor. And he made it very clear. The wealthy, of course, pay more. This
is the understanding the business community always had.
During the Eisenhower years -- it`s fascinating -- when William F. Buckley
Jr., the greatest of all moderate conservatives, started a new magazine,
"National Review," he looked for money from Wall Street and other very
wealthy people. One of their arguments was going to be the injustices of a
tax code in which the very wealthy paid 90 percent.
And the businesspeople said, we can live with this. We pay a larger share
because we make more money. We don`t expect to be infinitely richer than
everybody else. We will pay the large share.
And this was standard conservative philosophy all the way through the 1960s
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at a town hall meeting in Silicon
Valley. Here`s President Obama. He took questions from the crowd, and one
of the people in the crowd said something very much like Warren Buffett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t have a job, but that`s because I have been
lucky enough to live in Silicon Valley for a while and work for a small
startup down the street here that did quite well.
So, I`m unemployed by choice. My question is, would you please raise my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: E.J., you know, you know the fight we`re starting here on this
show. You know that the very well-off people say to this people, you know,
they can`t retort, why don`t you just tell us what their retort is?
DIONNE: Well, the retort is, you can pay it in if you want. And the
problem with that is we`re not talking about individual charity. We`re not
talking about what you put in the church basket or send to your synagogue.
We are talking about what are our responsibilities to maintain the
government of our country.
And I think, thanks partly to Elizabeth Warren, we`re having a different
conversation now, where this isn`t about punishing the rich, whether it`s
that guy or Warren Buffett, or somebody else. This is about the fact that
if you`re lucky enough to be born here -- we didn`t pick the country we
were born in -- you have a chance to make your hard work turn into
something. And people who do better have a responsibility to the upkeep of
the commons, which allowed them to become rich. So, this is not about
hating rich people.
MATTHEWS: The upkeep of the country. I mean, there`s a nice, sort of,
household term E.J.`s come up with. The upkeep -- keeping our bridges
safe, keeping our roads worthy, keeping our electrical systems working,
keeping our sewers working. That`s called upkeep.
Shouldn`t the people with the most money, you know, asked to be done the
most? It seems to me that`s common sense. It`s not about punishment.
It`s Willie Sutton, go where the money is.
TANENHAUS: Well, can I jump in here?
MATTHEWS: Sure, you`re in.
TANENHAUS: Well, part of the argument is that government actually does
some useful things. And the business community has prospered from it.
TANENHAUS: So, of course, you`re not simply taking your hard-earned
dollars and giving them to some lazy bum on the street. You`re showing
that we have a system that for all its failures actually made this country
what it is. And that it`s what you do to, you know, contribute your part
There`s an interesting corollary to this, too, because what we`re really
talking about is just a kind of reflexive hatred of government itself, all
TANENHAUS: Now, if you go back and look at Republican and Democratic
debates in the Kennedy era, something, Chris, you know especially well --
Kennedy wanted to cut taxes, and it was Republican who is actually opposed
MATTHEWS: I know.
TANENHAUS: Because they thought it was physically imprudent. Why?
Because they thought the government should be solvent and it should do the
We go through the Nixon years, you see Nixon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan
coming up with a huge program to give money to poor people, a negative
income tax, which came out of a very conservative economic theory, the
theory of Milton Friedman, with the idea that this is one of the functions
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look here what they`re saying now. This summer,
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah fighting for his life against the Tea Partiers
out there suggests that the poor aren`t doing their fair share. Now, this
is crazy talk. But let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I get a little tired of hearing the Obama
approach towards shared sacrifice.
And I hear how they`re caring for the poor and so forth. The poor need
jobs. And they also need to share some of the responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, E.J. and Sam, last thought, what do you make of
Michele Bachmann in that last debate? I didn`t think the moderators
followed up and they should have. She said, "I don`t want to pay anything
to the government. I shouldn`t have to pay -- I should keep every nickel I
That`s crazy talk, isn`t it? I mean, who is going to pay for the bridges,
the wars, and the fence they want built across the Mexican border? Who`s
supposed to pay for it if you don`t pay anything in taxes?
E.J., then Sam.
DIONNE: And the other thing, by the way, and it`s great to me what Sam
brings up folks like Robert Taft, in our history.
But the thing about government is no one benefits more than government than
the well-off, because what does government do? It protects their property.
It makes sure their contracts are enforced, makes sure they got paid. It
keeps things stay stable.
And this notion that poor people don`t contribute enough. First of all,
they pay a lot of their income in sales taxes. They pay property taxes
directly or indirectly, through their rent, they pay payroll taxes. And
this notion of beating up the poor on taxes is nuts.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. It`s a great debate. I think you guys
are winning it.
E.J. Dionne and Sam Tanenhaus -- great story here, Sam. We need to know
that the Republican Party didn`t always think this sort of wacky way about
Up next, Michele Bachmann is back-talking about what it means to be
submissive, or back-talking about -- no backtalk here -- about being
submissive to her husband. She likes this stuff. She`s struggling in the
polls and making a last-ditch play for -- let`s face it -- the
evangelicals. Will it play off? That`s ahead.
And this is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: George Allen doesn`t want history to repeat itself. Allen`s
running for the Senate in Virginia again, and his campaign is banning so-
called "trackers" from his public events. Trackers are campaign workers
from the opposing campaign who tracks their rivals using videos. Well, so
with nothing to show of Allen himself, Virginia Democrats have edited
together a web video of all the time their trackers have been shown the
door by the Allen campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s with the Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don`t mind, stepping out once we get started.
It mainly is Republican event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Allen`s 2006 campaign went off the rails when he called an
Indian American tracker "macaca."
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Yesterday at Liberty University, Michele Bachmann was asked once again
about comments she`d made about being submissive to her husband in their
Here`s what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect him and
when it comes to decision-making, we have mutual decision-making, and, you
know, at some point, you know, you have to make a decision.
There`s been times when we`ve made decisions that I didn`t like. One of
those decisions was after my first year of law school. My husband wanted
to go in the ministry after my first year. I knew that God had called me
to go to law school, and yet God had called him to ministry. And so, I had
to step back from law school and move with him so that we could go into
And I will tell you, I`ll be honest -- I mean, there were nights when I
cried and I hit the floor, I don`t understand this. Why do I have to put
my dream on the shelf? But I also knew that I needed to defer what I
wanted in deference to my husband. That was a good decision that I made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, she was speaking to a supportive Christian conservative
audience, obviously. But will his message translate when it comes to
winning a vote?
Michelle Bernard runs the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public
Policy, and D Milbank is a great columnist with "The Washington Post."
Michelle, I don`t know where to begin, except this submissiveness. She
once said that she studied tax law because her husband told her to.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND PUBLIC POLICY:
MATTHEWS: This power in a marriage relationship, does this sell with some
people on the male side?
BERNARD: Well, obviously, it`s so in here marriage. But what I find
fascinating about this is there`s a difference between what she is saying,
which is that she submits to her husband versus the millions of American
women who sometimes decide that they will go to graduate school after their
husbands do, or they will stay home and take care of children for a while.
MATTHEWS: That`s called free will.
BERNARD: That`s the point -- that`s called free will. The big question
here and this is what`s really ironic is this is the year -- the big year
of the Republican women. When you look at the women who ran for office,
Nikki Haley, Christy Todd, Carly Fiorina, none of them were running on,
quote-unquote, "women`s issues" or submitting to their husbands. You
barely heard them talk about husbands or children.
And so, you have to ask, why is she doing this? She seems to behind the
rest of the country, including the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Well, I grew up, I think, with old-fashioned parents. I
understand to an extent the who`s the boss thing and all this, father knows
best stuff in the `50s. But would she let her husband tell her what to
vote for, for example? I mean, where does this thing end, the husband is
the power boss?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Look, if I were to say to my wife, if we`re
following the Bachmann rules, honey, I would have such injuries that the
MILBANK: -- at MSNBC couldn`t handle.
But let`s --
MATTHEWS: I`m laughing, because it`s so close to home. Most people watch
this show, I`m guessing, think this is so strange and Old Testament.
MILBANK: Right. But 99 percent of the people watching the show are not
the people that Michele Bachmann is looking for. She`s falling down to 3
percent in this latest FOX poll nationally.
But guess what? Among Tea Party supporters in Iowa, she`s now out in
front. That`s the poll her campaign was circulating today.
BERNARD: But it`s not going to elect her. And if you look at either
gender differences in politics, I mean, who voters -- most women who vote
typically have voted Democratic. Women who vote in presidential elections
have swayed to the Republican Party are not Michele Bachmann`s demographic?
Those women are going to be looking at this and saying, OK, when you say
submit means respect, but then use the word respect. There`s a difference
between submitting and respect.
MILBANK: I agree it`s probably ruinous should she get beyond Iowa, but
she`s talking, you know, a few thousand people, most of the men by the way,
most of the evangelical Christians who are seeing, who are among the
120,000 people in Iowa --
MATTHEWS: Are they riding across the west in a wagon train? Where do they
I want to ask you -- isn`t this strategic, though? I don`t want -- I would
never question her religion. I think she`s a woman of great religious
belief. But isn`t this emphasis on religion we`re getting right now,
really a reaction to the fact that she has failed to get into the economic
debate with Perry and Mitt Romney? She`s not part of that thing. She
needs to do it especially.
MILBANK: She`s going back to what she knows. And her whole message in the
sort of the headline of the speech was don`t settle. So, she`s saying
don`t settle for Romney, don`t settle for Perry.
I mean, there is some evidence that among the people she`s targeting that
it is catching on. But, you know, she`s got an awful long way to go. And
to the extent it catches on, it, of course, makes her and anybody else
unelectable. I mean, she`s now -- you know, Herman Cain is -- has five
times more voters than she does.
BERNARD: This is a group of candidates who say that they don`t want Sharia
law to be adopted in the United States, and we know that`s never going to
But I raise that to say, here`s the conflict. People use religion in a lot
of other countries to demean and to harm women. So it`s very weird in this
context to hear a presidential candidate saying I will submit to my
husband, and I became a tax lawyer because he told me so.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s yesterday. I don`t think -- what`s fascinating to
me in these economic times, it`s so tough right now, people want to talk
economics. They want to talk about --
MATTHEWS: Michelle Bernard, thank you, and Dana Milbank. We`re going to
be right back. Thank you both.
And when we return, "Let Me Finish" with my -- with what I think Chris
Christie is so hot right now, it`s because people like him are hurting.
He`s hurting. He talks like a guy who`s like crying for help himself.
Listen, the guy complains about everything.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with Governor Chris Christie.
I wonder if the Democrats and President Obama himself might learn something
from the current Republican fascination for Governor Christie. OK, I don`t
just wonder, I think there`s something solid and important here.
Look at him. He`s not a man of great accomplishment. He`s only been in
office two years.
Nobody out in the country knows what he`s really done in New Jersey. It`s
not even some speech they`ve heard him give or major statement he`s made
about the country. Most don`t really know what he`s done or said that
marks him even as a conservative.
What we know about Governor Christie is the way he reacts to people. If
someone criticizes him, he criticizes them. If he doesn`t like the way
somebody is behaving, he goes after them. He`s irritable, and that`s what
people like about him.
He`s grouchy, grumpy. He doesn`t mind you knowing it. In fact, he`s ready
to let you or anyone else know all about it.
In other words, he`s in the same mood as most of this country. And that`s
what President Obama needs to get a hold on. If President Obama wants this
country to listen to him, he`s got to get in touch with the mood we`re in.
Retired people are watching their savings. They`re worried about the lower
interest rates out there, worried that the money they saved is getting
smaller each week. People facing retirement the next few years worry that
what they`re able to put away so far may not be enough. And young people
just out of school are looking at a job market that`s bare of opportunity.
"Failure to Launch" isn`t just the name of a movie. Kids are staying with
their parents after graduation, and that`s become the new norm.
People in their 30s, 40s and 50s face a situation at work where a new owner
or a new consultant can show up someday and begin clearing people out
So when people like this see a man like Chris Christie showing his pain,
they might be saying this guy gets it. He`s hurting like I am. And this
is why President Obama can learn something from this overnight affection
for the governor of New Jersey. People are attracted to a leader who seems
to be hurting, just like they are.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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Guests: Steve Schmidt, John Heilemann, Cynthia Tucker, Sam Tanenhaus, E.J.