Guests: John Heilemann, Dana Milbank, Jonathan Martin, Aaron Schock, Jim
McDermott, Josh Marshall, Cynthia Tucker>
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Jersey boy.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Can`t take my eyes off of you. For weeks,
Republicans have been on their knees, begging Chris Christie to save them
from themselves. Romney`s a bore. Perry can`t win. Bachmann`s, well,
Bachmann. Please, they beg, please get in the race and fill the vast void
that is the race without you.
Today, Christie said no. He loves his home state of New Jersey and is
now -- and he says now`s not the right time for him. Well, Christie`s
performance today might make Republicans like him even more, actually, but
he`s out. And we`ll talk about why the Republicans wanted him in so much
and what happens next.
So as Stephen Stills wrote years ago, if you can`t be the one -- be
with the one you love, honey, love the one you`re with. And who does it
look like the Republicans are with right now? That old boyfriend, the
really nice guy who doesn`t turn them on, Mitt Romney. Why the GOP can`t
fall in love with Mitt.
Also, right on cue, good-old Eric Cantor has said that President
Obama`s American jobs bill is dead on arrival. Well, that`s an original
idea from him. What else is new? The president`s on the road, today, of
course, out there doing what we at HARDBALL have been saying he should be
doing and is doing, pushing a jobs bill and urging America to build, baby,
And here`s a way to destroy a successful career. Pretty reliable one,
too, by the way. Refer to the president of the United States as Hitler.
That`s what Hank Williams, Jr., did. He`s the guy who sings "Are you ready
for some football?" every Monday night. Well, just another example of the
relentless out-of-right-field accusations we here call Obama derangement
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with what`s left for the Republicans now
that Chris Christie has said thanks, but no thanks.
We start with today`s announcement by Christie himself. Howard
Fineman`s an MSNBC political analyst and The Huffington Post Media Group
editorial director, and John Heilemann is "New York" magazine`s national
political columnist. Thank you, gentlemen.
No means no. He`s out. He took a veiled swipe -- here he is today
announcing his decision not to run, and hitting on a theme he`d repeat
throughout the press conference, which, by the way, was a clip, I think
they still call it in football, against a couple of other potential
presidential candidates. Here he is in New Jersey. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It wasn`t until recently that I
paused to really reflect on my decision. When you have serious people from
across the spectrum, not to mention from all across the country,
passionately calling on you to do something as consequential as running for
president of the United States, I felt an obligation to earnestly consider
their advice. Together with Mary Pat and our children, I believed I had an
obligation to seriously consider what people were asking me to do. I will
always be grateful for their confidence in me.
Over the last few weeks, I`ve thought long and hard about this
decision. I`ve explored the options. I`ve listened to so many people and
considered whether this was something that I needed to take on. But in the
end, what I`ve always felt was the right decision remains the right
decision today. Now is not my time. I have a commitment to New Jersey
that I simply will not abandon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, you know, Howard, I`m going to be cynical here.
How many times have we heard, I want to spend more time with my family,
when you`ve been fired? And here we have a guy who says, I want to spend
more time with New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: Now, was that a veiled shot at Palin for skipping a job
she`d been elected to? Was that a veiled shot at Rick Perry, who has
plenty of time to run across the country, and he`s still governor of a
bigger state than New Jersey, and he`s got all the time in the world to go
running around the country. (INAUDIBLE) shots, or a shot at Mitt Romney,
who couldn`t get elected -- reelected governor of Massachusetts. How many
bullets were in that gun today? Just a thought. I`m being nasty.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I--
FINEMAN: No, but I -- well, look, I think -- I think if you remember
the speech that Chris Christie gave out at the Reagan library, he basically
said in that speech, I`m the only guy who has the record to show the way
forward in the Reagan style, in the Ronald Reagan style.
That speech itself was full of very sharp elbows, which is one of the
reasons why people began to say, Hey, wait a minute, maybe this guy is in
the big tease here. Maybe he might want to do it.
FINEMAN: Because he really was saying in that speech, I`m the only
guy who`s got the right credentials. So this is just a follow-up to that.
MATTHEWS: Well, yes, there was a big striptease. And I think when
you come out with all the feathers on, you`re think you`re basically a
feather dancer. Anyway, Christie suggested being a conservative doesn`t
mean you can`t compromise.
Let`s listen to his argument for something. I don`t know why he`s
still campaigning if he`s not running. I want John to respond. Why is the
guy up there selling, and who`s he selling for? Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I`ve said all along I am a principled conservative and --
but I also said in the Reagan speech, as Ronald Reagan did, you have to
compromise at times to get things done. And that doesn`t mean compromising
your principles, but it means not getting everything you want. Now, if
someone calls that liberal, being compromising, then they`re dead wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What was longer, guys, John, the Christie "I`m not running
speech" or the Weiner "I`m quitting" speech? These were pretty long
speeches to say, No, I`m leaving.
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK": Well, you know, Chris -- Chris --
Matthews -- Chris Christie likes the attention. He`s not really made much
of a -- any bones about that. He likes being in the center of the
spotlight. He also wants to be president. He doesn`t think he can be
president now, but this is a guy who has national ambitions.
He, again, hasn`t really minced around very much on that topic. And I
think he is trying to follow the old show biz rule, which is to leave your
audience wanting more.
HEILEMANN: And he decided this was not his time. It`s a fair -- he
may be right, he might be wrong about that, but I think he`s not saying his
time isn`t coming. And whether that time is 2016 or 2020, there`s a lot of
people, all those people who tried to urge him in -- he wants to keep
reminding them as much as possible why they wanted him so badly and to have
them still be hungry for him, whenever his time does come.
MATTHEWS: Well, if he`s counting -- if that`s true, he`s counting on
Obama getting reelected.
HEILEMANN: Well, or 2020, you know?
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute, 2020 -- you mean eight years from now,
after Republicans (INAUDIBLE) he`s going to make it `16. That rarely
happens in American politics. If your party wins eight, it`s very unlikely
you`ll come in and make it 12 or 16. You know that. Tell me how often
that`s ever happened.
HEILEMANN: I`m not saying that the odds--
MATTHEWS: Either you grab your turn or you don`t get one, it seems to
me, history tells us, John.
HEILEMANN: Chris, I`ve been saying all along that I thought that he -
- that he -- if he doesn`t do this this time, he may never get a better
shot. So I`m with you on that. But clearly, he came to a different
conclusion, and he doesn`t want to close any doors down the line, whether
it`s one cycle from now or two.
MATTHEWS: Howard, why did he avoid this fight when it looks like
there`s a great opening?
FINEMAN: Well, I think there are the practical factors of timing, the
sense of timing and the practical factors of getting it done. By the way,
I want to congratulate ourselves on being probably the first political show
to mention the 2020 presidential race.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, we`re working on it.
FINEMAN: But in any case, just the logistics of this would have been
difficult, much more difficult than I think people realize. He had no
ground structure anywhere. And yes, he could raise a lot of money, get a
lot of fat cats to bankroll, you know, a lot of super-PAC money from -- but
you can`t just do it with that. You still need to have a ground game of
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s true.
FINEMAN: And to put together one in places like Iowa and New
Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida in the equivalent of a New York
minute would have been very, very difficult.
MATTHEWS: But a New York minute has propelled Mr. Herman Cain to the
top, almost, and it`s propelled even Donald Trump to the top for a couple
weeks there. This is a very volatile crowd. Let`s--
FINEMAN: Yes, it is.
MATTHEWS: Here`s the reporters asking Governor Christie if his calls
for him to run said something about the Republican field for 2012 without
him. And now it is without him, so let`s get his answer to that. Here`s
what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I don`t think it says anything particular about the field.
I`d like to think it says something about me. And you know, there are
folks who feel like what we`ve done here in New Jersey, in a blue state, in
bringing people together and getting things done, is something that they
like to see in the country.
And I think that`s what it was really all about, John. It wasn`t my
charm and good looks. You know that. So you know, I think it was the
accomplishments that we have here in New Jersey that made people excited
that maybe divided government could work, maybe, you know, leading in a
very bold and direct way could forge compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Astounding thing here. I`m thinking of "The Hustler" and
those two guys, Jackie Gleason against Paul Newman. I`m thinking of
hustling and how good he is, John Heilemann. And I`m not knocking a
hustler because a lot of politics is hustle. You find a way to bring
people in the tent. This guy knows how to do it. And I don`t mean hustle
as a street corner band (ph) thing. It`s so hard to get people in the
tent, and this guy seems to have that ability, that Mitt Romney won`t have
in a million years, to make himself interesting.
MATTHEWS: Mitt Romney will never be interesting, and this guy`s more
interesting walking away from it than running for it.
HEILEMANN: He`s got a quality in politics, Chris, that you can`t
learn and you can`t buy, which is both to be, as you say, interesting, and
also to feel authentic and real. And we talk about authenticity all the
time in this business. But you know, everyone who looks at this guy, even
people who don`t like him look at him and feel like he`s talking from the
gut, talking from the heart, talking from the head, that what you see is
what you get with this guy, that he`s not playing hide and seek.
And that is a very attractive quality, especially at this time in our
politics, when so many people on both the left and right are sick of poll-
tested, overly canned politicians.
MATTHEWS: I`m thinking of Jackie Gleason, not just about his size,
I`m thinking of a guy -- Howard, you and I grew up with Jackie Gleason,
Minnesota Fats. You couldn`t take your eyes off that guy in that movie and
you couldn`t take your eyes off Gleason. There are some people that are
interesting and some people who are not, and Mitt Romney is a not. And
that`s their problem, and you know it. We`re getting to that in the next
segment, by the way, the big "not."
FINEMAN: No, I know. But in the case of Christie, I think there`s
also a little bit of an edge to him. I think John would agree with me on
this. There`s a little edge to Chris Christie, just a little touch of
FINEMAN: -- you know, You don`t think I can do it, well, let me show
you. I might be this big guy who doesn`t look like your standard
politician, but I can do it. Look at what--
MATTHEWS: OK, last question--
FINEMAN: -- I`ve done here. Look how I take things on.
MATTHEWS: Why do we love him more than the guy with the perfect jaw
and the perfect hair and the perfect everything? Why do people prefer him
in their sort of deep--
FINEMAN: Well, you answered the question you`ve been asking. He`s
FINEMAN: Chris Christie`s imperfect. He`s a guy who seems to
overcome obstacles. He`s tough. He`s combative. Men love him. The polls
in New Jersey show that women are scared of him. They don`t like him,
especially because of what he`s--
FINEMAN: -- especially because of what he`s done on education. But
guys like him. Guys really, really like him, and it`s because of that edge
that he has, a little bit of a combative edge that he has.
FINEMAN: Howard`s exactly right. And it`s an edgy time, Chris.
You`ve been pointing this out for the last week. It`s an edgy time in
America, and being an edgy candidate is not a bad thing. It`s an
attractive thing for an awful lot of voters.
MATTHEWS: People are so tired of being told what to do, including by
their wives, I think. Anyway, thank you, Howard--
MATTHEWS: Not ours, of course. But thank you. They`re wonderful.
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. They`re sweet. They`re adorable.
Anyway, thank you, John Heilemann, as well.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: So with Chris Christie out of the picture, can
Republicans learn to love the one they`re with? There he is, Mr.
Excitement! I can`t believe it! He`s got his shirtsleeves rolled up.
Boy, is he wild! Wild! He`s getting really wild.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Election day in Virginia (SIC) today. They`re going to the
polls there for a special election for governor that has implications far
beyond the Mountain State. The Democrat in the race is acting governor,
Earl Ray Tomblin. But Republican challenger Bill Maloney has been surging
of late. A week ago, Tomblin was the favorite, but now it`s a toss-up.
And if Tomblin loses the governorship there, you can bet fingers will be
pointed at Barack Obama in Washington.
President Obama`s approval number in West Virginia is among the lowest
in the country. Polls close at 7:30 tonight. We`ll know about that late
tonight. And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now that Chris Christie has
decided not to run for president, Republicans turn their lonely eyes back -
- this is like Mrs. Robinson -- back to Mitt Romney. He`s leading in the
polls, but for most Republicans, he`s more Mr. Right now than Mr. Right.
(SIC) Anyway, he`s the one big winner today, of course, on the Republican
side, I think, now that Chris Christie`s out.
Dana Milbank`s a columnist for "The Washington Post." Jonathan Martin
-- you`re the experts, you two guys, coming on here. Who picks up the
crumbs that this guy`s not eating, Chris Christie?
DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, it`s terrific news for Mitt
Romney. In fact, I think Mitt should give him a wing in one of his houses
that he`s been building. But this is exactly going according to the
original Mitt Romney plan.
You see Perry fading. Romney`s again the front-runner. There`s no
other establishment candidate out there. You`ve got all these guys
fighting over the Tea Party votes. You`ve got Herman Cain, unbelievable,
in third place in this poll. And you`ve got a little bit of Bachmann here
and there. So Romney--
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Let`s go to the numbers. I like this
theory about -- we`ve been playing with the idea of the woman who`s very
attractive and all the guys who are chasing after her, but one guy just
waits and waits and waits.
Here`s the new "Washington Post" poll of Republicans and Republican
"leaners." I love that. They`ve got Romney leading at 25 -- boy, he`s
been holding at 25 for a long time. Rick Perry and Herman Cain now tied in
second place at 16 each. But look at the movement, how we got to this in
the last month. While Romney`s remained steady, of course -- he always is
steady -- at 25, Rick Perry`s dropped 13 points, losing his lead, whereas
Mr. Herman Cain, who`s the businessman from Atlanta, he`s gone up 12 points
This is so amazing, Jon -- J-Mar (ph). It is unbelievable that you
see this kind of movement on the Republican side, where there`s so little
product loyalty that they go from a guy they were red hot over, Rick Perry,
just a couple weeks ago, and all of a sudden, a guy who was sort of like an
also-ran is now a contender, Herman Cain.
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO.COM: Well, because they don`t know much
about these contenders, Chris, and they`re support is very week-to-week
because they are falling in love with the idea of the candidate, not the
candidate themselves. If you asked those Republicans who were polled what
they knew about Rick Perry, besides governor of Texas, they probably
couldn`t tell you very much.
But look, let`s not count out Perry. He`s going to raise what I am
told is going to be over $15 million for this quarter. That`s a lot of
change for a guy who`s been on the campaign for about six weeks now. If he
can sort of straighten up at these debates and perform a little better, he
could be in this thing. Don`t forget, he`s got a super-PAC--
MATTHEWS: Who wants him to be president? Let`s go to -- let`s go to
who`s paying the piper here. Who would want that guy to be president of
the United States?
MARTIN: A lot of conservatives around the country.
MATTHEWS: OK. Yes, but particular kinds of conservatives -- rural,
business guys, real right-wingers?
MARTIN: Yes, a lot of business guys. I mean, a lot of folks from the
South, you know, I think business types that just don`t totally trust
Romney. I think a lot of grass roots activists who want a more pure
ideological messenger beyond Romney.
MARTIN: I think there`s lots of folks out there, Chris, who I think
you can see get on Perry`s bandwagon. But look, there`s no question he`s
had a rough couple of weeks here. Cain`s sort of filling that void. But
you know, Herman Cain doesn`t really have much of a campaign going. Look,
when you leave the campaign trail, Chris, to have a book tour, it says a
lot about the seriousness of your campaign.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, let`s take a look at David Brooks, one of the
brighter lights in the conservative field, a generally conservative writer
out there. He wrote something really smart today. It was called "In
defense of Romney." It was a bit sad, but it was a good point, I think.
Quote, "Republicans don`t want Organization Man, they want Braveheart.
Romney can be dull, but often the best leaders in business, in government
and in life are not glittering saviors. They`re professionals you hire to
get a job done."
Boy, that is a lean argument for Romney. It`s like an astronaut
argument. You know, he`s steady.
MILBANK: But it might be -- steady might be good enough when there`s
so much dissatisfaction in the field. In "The Washington Post"/ABC poll
out today, only 9 percent of Republicans are very satisfied with the slate
of candidates, which is about half as much as were at this point in 2007.
MATTHEWS: OK, OK, you stop for a second. I`ve been interested in
politics since I was 6 years old. I`m not interested in organization men.
I don`t know anybody of any party that is. When you`re down there in
Tampa, Florida, next September, dressed up like a big cheddar cheese
because you`re from Wisconsin and you`re totally excited about life, are
you going to be cheering for Mitt Romney with any enthusiasm?
MILBANK: I don`t -- No, I don`t think they can get fired up about him
at all. But the situation he`s in is he`s wanting to be the last man
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Same question to you, Jonathan. Can they get
excited and go out and ring doorbells and put out leaflets and everything
else for this guy--
MARTIN: Chris -- Chris, John McCain -- John McCain, the author of
McCain-Feingold, won the nomination for the GOP last time. A lot more
doubts, especially among professional Republicans, toward John McCain than
there are towards Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: He`s a war hero.
MARTIN: If they can come around--
MATTHEWS: He was a war hero. He spent seven years in Hanoi Hilton.
I mean, he did something for his country.
MARTIN: Which helped him--
MARTIN: Which helped with the grass roots overcome his sort of
maverick tendencies. But among sort of professional conservatives, I think
there was a lot more doubt about McCain than there is Romney. How did
McCain fix his problem? Well, he put somebody on the ticket who prompted a
lot of enthusiasm from the grass roots.
MARTIN: I think you`ll see Romney tend to make a similar move.
MATTHEWS: Just to move quickly, it`s not my plan here, but do you
think Chris Christie was auditioning for VP today? I think he was.
MILBANK: I loved his line about how the presidential nominee would
need a food tester if he were the VP.
MILBANK: But he very plainly wasn`t ruling it out.
MATTHEWS: I disagree. I think he wants it. He wasn`t ruling it out.
MILBANK: Wasn`t ruling it out.
MATTHEWS: Don`t you agree, Jonathan--
MARTIN: Of course not!
MATTHEWS: -- he wants--
MATTHEWS: He wants the job.
MATTHEWS: And you get it without campaigning. You pick it up next
MARTIN: That`s the idea!
MATTHEWS: And you don`t have to campaign (INAUDIBLE) By the way, one
last thought -- 55 percent of people in this country now believe the
Republican candidate will win the election against Obama. That`s how
people out there are playing pundit. So that tells you they think Obama`s
in trouble. And I think Obama`s going to jujitsu this and say, OK, I`m the
underdog. I can beat (INAUDIBLE)
MILBANK: Right. That`s the generic thing. But when you look at the
actual candidates compared to Obama--
MARTIN: It`s closer, yes.
MILBANK: -- he`s even with or slightly ahead of all of them. And that
makes -- you know, that`s all the difference there.
MATTHEWS: That`s what makes politics interesting. Thank you, guys.
The world without Chris Christie -- what a huge displacement. It`s not
there anymore. Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank, great guy. Thank you,
Anyway, up next, speaking of Mitt Romney, wait`ll you hear what the --
what he said about why he didn`t respond to that debate crowd. Remember
those guys that booed the gay soldiers over in Iraq and just dumped on the
guy? Well, not exactly a profile in courage for Mitt Romney here. He
won`t even say now he has a problem with that booing, even now!
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow." First up, the
Supreme Court Justices are back on the job after a summer recess. What`s
on the table to kick off the season? A ruling on the constitutionality of
President Obama`s health care bill, specifically the individual mandate.
Well, let`s take a look at how Steve Colbert teed up the debate just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": The big matchup on the
LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS: "Obama care" headed for the Supreme Court.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: "Obama care" -- is it unconstitutional? The
Supreme Court might rule.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The challenge to the president`s health care law
officially reaches the highest court in the land.
COLBERT: Yes, these nine Justices could kill "Obama care." I told
you there were death panels! Now, folks, the heart of this case is the
individual mandate, which will require all uninsured Americans to purchase
health insurance. And the only preexisting condition that will cure is
liberty. Yes, the government cannot force you to buy things. It can only
tax you, draft you, seize and sell your property, arrest you, incarcerate
you and execute you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think that`s Stephen`s way of saying he hopes the
Supremes don`t kill a good thing, "Obama care."
And next up: Bring on the wishy-washy. That`s right, I`m talking
about 2012`er Mitt Romney. Remember this moment at the most recent
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie
about who I was because I`m a gay soldier and I didn`t want to lose my job.
My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent
the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you heard the boos then. And well, ever since that
rather shocking moment of booing that guy in the field, saving our country,
working for us, Gary Johnson, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, and even Rick
Santorum have condemned that eruption of booing we just heard. But then
there`s Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t recall
whether this soldier -- whether people were booing his question or just
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They booed as soon as he identified himself as a
ROMNEY: You have to look into that. I don`t know when they booed and
I don`t know why people booed. But there -- I will tell you that the boos
and the applause has not always coincided with my own views, but I haven`t
stepped in to try and say, This one`s right and this one`s wrong. And
instead, I focus on the things that I think I ought to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the question you have to ask is, who is he afraid of
offending there? Who boos American soldiers, Mr. Romney? And are they
friends of yours?
And now for the "Big Number," the everyday concerns of what people
bring to their representatives in Washington. Well, so does everyone else.
That`s according to a new report by the Congressional Management
Foundation. Apparently, Capitol Hill has been experiencing a surge of
constituent correspondence in recent years, thanks to recent hot button
issues like health care reform and the debt ceiling debate.
So what`s the total increase in letters and e-mails since 2002 for the
Senate alone? A 548 percent increase. Unfortunately, several offices in
the Senate admit they struggle to respond to this "write your congressman"
rage. But a 548 percent increase in communications from voters. And
that`s tonight`s very "Big Number."
Up next: Eric Cantor says President Obama`s jobs bill is dead on
arrival. That`s an original thought. The Republicans say no again to the
president. Can President Obama make them pay politically for being no
people? Can he get America to build, baby, build? We`ll be right back
with that hot question. It`s about jobs and doing something.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Build, baby, build. That`s our theme here.
President Obama is making a strong push for his jobs bill. He even
said yesterday he would be calling on the leaders of both parties to vote
on the bill by the end of this month, that`s October.
It didn`t take long -- it didn`t take long for Republicans to push
back. About an hour later after the president, the House Majority Leader
Eric Cantor of Virginia told reporters the comprehensive bill was dead on
arrival because Republicans wouldn`t bring the bill to the floor,
preferring to work on -- as he put it, I`m not sure he`s telling the story
here -- individual pieces of legislation they say will help the economy.
Anyway, Cantor`s pussyfooting here. He went on to say, quote, "This
all or nothing approach is unacceptable. First, he has problems on his own
side of the aisle, as there are provisions in the bill that Democratic
members disagree with. There are many issues that I`ve listed here that we
can work together on instead of maintaining this campaign posture here."
Well, the president kept the pressure on in this afternoon at a
community college just outside of Dallas, Texas. He called out Cantor, in
fact, and the GOP.
Listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`d like Mr. Cantor to
come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly is in this jobs bill does
he not believe in? What exactly -- what exactly is he opposed to? At
least put this jobs bill up for a vote, so that the entire country knows
exactly where members of Congress stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the president was speaking right there in Mesquite,
Texas, which happens to fall in the congressional district of Jeb
Hensarling, the chairman of the Republican conference, where Transportation
for America reports there are 42 structurally deficient bridges just in
that district alone. And these are bridges that need of immediate
maintenance or outright replacement, including the bridge on U.S. 80 West
over the Big Brushy Creek near Forney, Texas. It carries nearly 20,000
cars a day, every day, including trucks.
And throughout this segment, we`re going to list those 42 deficient
bridges in Jeb Hensarling`s district at the bottom of the screen. Those
are bridges Americans could be put to work to fix right now.
So, will Republicans, generally, continue to be obstructionists or
give the president a vote on his jobs bill?
Joining us right now, U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican from
Illinois, represents Peoria.
Sir, I got to get to this question. What`s your party`s position on
the president`s jobs bill? It`s the only jobs bill in town right now. Are
you against it or what?
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: Well, I would challenge that it`s
the only jobs bill. We`ve been pushing a lot of bills that are pro-jobs,
that are pro-growth. It`s the private sector, Chris, as you know, that
ultimately will create jobs that are sustainable, that are controlling --
MATTHEWS: You control the Congress, did you pass them?
SCHOCK: We`ve passed over 100 pieces of legislation, Chris, since
Republicans took control of the House that are parked over at the Senate
that Harry Reid will not allow for straight up or down vote on it. And
whether it be regulatory reform, you name it, we have passed --
MATTHEWS: No, we`re talking jobs bills, putting people to work.
SCHOCK: Yes, what`s the jobs bill? What`s the jobs bill, Chris?
MATTHEWS: A bill that creates a job.
SCHOCK: A bill that creates a job. And what we`re focused on is
creating an environment, Chris, that allows the private sector to create
We have tried the last two years to create jobs by the federal
government spending money. And it has failed miserably. In August and
September, zero jobs net created.
SCHOCK: But I want to get to something --
MATTHEWS: Well, let me get to my question here, and then we can move
on to your ideas. It seems to me every time a Republican wants to get a
regulation, get rid of regulations, they don`t like EPA regulations or get
rid of taxes they don`t like paying, they put the word "jobs" on it because
that makes them feel good, at least when they sell it.
Congressman, I want to ask you a question about your district you
represent. How many bridges in your district roughly do you think are
below code, are described by the Department of Transportation of Illinois
as being below code?
SCHOCK: Too many.
MATTHEWS: How many? Give me an estimate? How many in your district
that you represent --
SCHOCK: Too many, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Come on, give me a number, roughly.
SCHOCK: And you know what? The president`s stimulus bill that he
MATTHEWS: You`re not giving me an answer.
SCHOCK: -- that he president`s stimulus bill that he promoted, that
he promoted in Peoria, Illinois, my hometown, that was going to put
Americans back to work, that was going to invest in America`s
infrastructure, was a (AUDIO BREAK) stimulus bill went to infrastructure --
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re talking about infrastructure right now, sir --
SCHOCK: But I want to talk about the president`s jobs --
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk all politics is local. OK, let`s talk about
SCHOCK: I want to talk about the president`s jobs bill. I want to
talk about the president`s jobs bill --
MATTHEWS: You don`t know how many bridges in your district are
SCHOCK: -- was supposed to fix those bridges and it didn`t.
MATTHEWS: If you did what we did today and called the Department of
Illinois, and your own district and checked it out, you`d discover that you
have a total of over 277 structurally deficient bridges in your district,
we just posted it right now. We spoke with someone from the Illinois
Department of Transportation right now, just a few minutes ago, and they
told us the number`s actually up to 319 now structurally deficient bridges
in our district.
SCHOCK: I agree. It`s outrageous.
MATTHEWS: You agree? You didn`t know.
SCHOCK: Chris, it`s absolutely outrageous. How much of the
president`s jobs bill that he`s promoting now will go to infrastructure?
MATTHEWS: At least a third of it.
SCHOCK: No, $50 billion of the 400 billion, Chris. The exact amount
that he had in the last stimulus bill.
SCHOCK: How much of that $50 billion that`s in this bill --
MATTHEWS: In this bill that he`s trying the American jobs bill -- a
third of the American Jobs Bill goes to infrastructure. You know that.
SCHOCK: And it has to be spent in the next year. How much of that
can go in a year to go and fix those bridges that you point out are
What we really need, Chris -- Chris, what we really need is a six-year
highway bill. That`s the kind of infrastructure investment that
Republicans and Democrats can get behind --
MATTHEWS: I`m all for it.
SCHOCK: Well, let`s pass that. Let`s talk about a six-year highway
MATTHEWS: The problem is, you guys deal in ideology and theory and
I`m bringing you information about your district that you need to know,
which is you`ve got --
MATTHEWS: -- you`ve got over 300 bridges that are deficient that need
to be fixed that are below safety code.
I want to go right now to Congressman Jim McDermott and be fair here.
He has 19 bridges in his district that are safety code, that are deficient.
The argument is that one way you can get people to work is give them
jobs that need to be done. Don`t create jobs, do what needs to be done.
Make our bridges safe.
Just to start, your thoughts, Mr. McDermott?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, it`s very clear, Chris,
that the president has been stymied at every turn by the Republicans,
because Mitch McConnell made it very clear, a long time ago, that his only
goal was to prevent the president from being re-elected. And to do that,
he has to prevent him from getting the economy back on its feet and getting
people back to work.
People want jobs. There is work everywhere in this country. And they
stymied him in the amount of money that they would let put in for
infrastructure back at the beginning of his term, and now they`re still
doing it. And they`ll find a million excuses why they can`t do it.
But it isn`t happening without stimulus from the government. You are
going to have to have that kind of infrastructure money.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman -- Congressman Schock, I`m with
you, by the way. I wish more of these stimulus packages -- I wish the
whole 100 percent of them were infrastructure.
But let me ask you this question, to make your point. Would you vote
right now yea to support the infrastructure piece of the president`s bill?
Just the bridge building and road fixings? Would you vote for that yes?
SCHOCK: If we can pay for it. I was on a bill -- Chris, two points.
Number one, on the president`s original stimulus bill two years ago, I
joined with then-Chairman Jim Oberstar on an amendment. There were 40
Republicans at that time who joined Jim Oberstar in an amendment that would
have doubled the amount in the president`s original stimulus bill to be
spent on infrastructure and Nancy Pelosi would not even allow a single vote
on that amendment.
I`ve been pushing our leadership here in the House, John Boehner and
Eric Cantor, to allow for a six-year highway bill to move forward.
Now, why is a six-year highway bill significant? Number one, it`s
about $400 billion to $500 billion of infrastructure investment, close to
10 times what the president wants to spend, number one.
Number two, it`s over six years, so the infrastructure community, the
construction industry --
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you become a Democrat?
SCHOCK: I don`t need to become a Democrat --
MATTHEWS: Because your Republican leadership isn`t backing this.
SCHOCK: No, no, no. The same reason President Obama hasn`t advocated
for a six-year highway bill is the same reason that the Republican
leadership hasn`t offered the plan, is because you`ve got to come up with a
way to pay for it. John Boehner a few weeks ago in a speech here in D.C.
to the Economic Club said he`s looking at doing a six-year highway bill
using the current gas tax coupled with revenue from offshore leasing of
offshore drilling rights.
I don`t care what the pay-fors are, but Ronald Reagan passed one, Bill
Clinton passed one, George W. Bush passed one. A six-year highway bill
that`s paid for --
MATTHEWS: I know, the problem is, Eisenhower broke the interstate
system back in the `50s. He wouldn`t be sitting around pussyfooting like
you guys, coming up with reasons you can`t get it done.
You say --
SCHOCK: Well, wait a minute --
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to Mr. McDermott. We`re using up his time.
Mr. McDermott, why don`t the Republicans, like this Republican, he
says he was with the great Jim Oberstar, who they bounced out of the
Congress last year, why aren`t they -- why don`t they support what they
say? He says he`s for building bridges and fixing bridges and all, but his
leadership isn`t pushing this bill?
MCDERMOTT: You`re getting the good cop/bad cop experience here. He`s
the good cop who says, I want a six-year highway bill, and John Boehner is
the bad cop and he says, I can`t find any money to do it.
Now, they know where the money is. They could tax people over
$250,000 in income. They could take away that tax pick right now. They
could take money from the oil companies. They have had profits out the
And there`s plenty of places that they could take money, but they will
not make the effort to get the money. They do not want to do it. It`s
just that simple.
MATTHEWS: OK, look, thank you, gentleman. I think that`s the answer.
Thank you, Congressman Jim McDermott.
Thank you, Congressman Aaron Schock. By the way, Congressman Schock,
I agree with you about road building. Let`s do it.
Up next, Obama derangement syndrome. The latest example: Hank
Williams Jr., I don`t believe this guy, referred to the president as
Hitler. That`s the way they do -- that`s the way they do it these days.
How far over the top will the talk about President Obama get? Is
there anything they won`t say? Is there anything their sanity will not
permit? That`s ahead.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: President Obama`s looking to take a bite out of some of
that argument Republicans may try to make against him. The president says
Americans aren`t better off than they were four years ago, but he says his
administration has made steady progress to fix the economy. The new CBS
poll finds nearly seven of 10 say the president has not made real progress
on the economy versus just a quarter who said he has.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Just when you thought the crazy talk from the right about President
Obama couldn`t go any lower, there comes a new example. Hank Williams Jr.,
the singer most famous for "Monday Night Football`s" opening theme was
asked about presidential politics on "FOX and Friends" yesterday. He took
the opportunity to make a ludicrous analogy about the president, who last
month played a round of golf with Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Let`s watch Mr. Williams Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANK WILLIAMS, JR., SINGER: You remember the golf game they had,
ladies and gentlemen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WILLIAMS: Remember the golf game?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boehner --
WILLIAMS: That was one of the biggest political mistakes ever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you not like about it? It seems to be
a really pivotal moment for you.
WILLIAMS: Come on. Come on. That would be like Hitler playing golf
with Netanyahu, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
WILLIAMS: Not hardly. And the country this shape is in -- the shape
this country is in, I mean, no --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s an analogy actually --
WILLIAMS: Well, I`m glad you don`t, brother, because a lot of people
do. You know, they`re the enemy. They`re the enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s the enemy?
WILLIAMS: Obama! And Biden. Are you kidding? The three stooges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He can`t even count. I think he said Obama and Biden,
that`s three? No, that`s two.
Anyway, he did make matters worse for himself, he did make them worse.
Yesterday releasing a statement that read in part, "Some of us have strong
opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme -- but it was
to make a point."
Well, today, Williams issued a second statement in which he
acknowledged his comments were dumb and he said he was very sorry if it
offended anyone. Of course, that`s the old dodge. Of course, Williams`
dumb comment, as he put it, was one in a long line of crazy statements
about President Obama coming from the right. What is going on here?
Cynthia Tucker, the visiting professor now at the University of
Georgia. And, of course, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist.
And Josh Marshall is the founder and editor of "Talking Points Memo,"
Lady and gentleman, I want you to ask -- I want to get to those larger
question, you know? This stuff about the president being Hitler, and his
words go on to make it clear he made it venomously. It wasn`t just two
opposites fighting with each other. It was one evil man he called the
Hitler, the president.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Well, this talk is so common
among the right wing, Chris, that Hank Williams Jr. was probably a little
surprised that he`s gotten the criticism he`s gotten.
MATTHEWS: He wouldn`t in his crowd probably.
TUCKER: How many times? Well, it`s not just him. How many times did
Glenn Beck compare Obama to Hitler? This is commonplace on the far right
wing Web sites. We`ve seen the signs at Tea Party rallies comparing Obama
MATTHEWS: Those little mustaches they like to put on there. Yes.
TUCKER: Exactly. So, this is, unfortunately, very commonplace. This
is what political discourse on the far right has come to.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to "TPM," Mr. Marshall on that, and this question
of -- it does seem like the demonization of the president by the right, the
people who are wacky and are just stupid, who make stupid comments, and I`m
not going to single this guy out. I don`t know Hank Williams Jr. His
father obviously was quite great.
But what do you make of this?
JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Well, to your point, just because
your cad is a genius doesn`t mean you`re not going to be a moron.
You know, I think that -- as you said this, stuff happens all the
time. It`s been happening for three years. In a sense, it`s just dog
bites man. It`s nothing surprising.
I think what`s different in this case is that Hank Williams Jr. has
this footprint in mainstream media, not just in the sort of the FOX bubble
where you can say Obama is Hitler, and he`s Stalin and he`s -- you know,
doing all these terrible things.
MATTHEWS: But I must say in fairness, just to be immediate on this,
in fairness I`m not a big fan of "FOX and Friends" in the morning. I watch
"MORNING JOE." But I thought they were appalled. They looked like they
couldn`t believe what they were watching. I`m sorry. That was my reading.
MARSHALL: No. I think in that particular case, but I think people on
the FOX Network in general, there`s really, you know, wide -- sort of wide
tolerance of this kind of stuff and the right wing media generally. The
problem is, obviously, ESPN has fans of professional football who aren`t on
the hard right wing, and so, it was a problem for them.
So, you know, in that -- that`s what stands out to me, just that,
again, he has a footprint in sort of the mainstream, not just the right
wing media, and he paid a price for it. But as you said, it`s not like
it`s shocking. There`s stuff like this that gets out all the time.
MATTHEWS: Well, Hank Williams Jr. obviously wasn`t the only example
anti-Obama derangement syndrome recently. Earlier today, a right wing
commentator Dinesh D`Souza appeared on FOX News and insinuated that Obama`s
economic policies had to do with a deep down hostility towards capitalism.
D`Souza in the past, of course, has tied Obama to the Mao Mao movement
because he says his mindset comes to his father, he`s somehow a Mao Mao,
killing white people every day. They get away with this stuff.
TUCKER: Well, this is
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch, by the way, what Dinesh D`Souza had to say
today, just to keep up with this stuff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DINESH D`SOUZA, AUTHOR, "THE ROOTS OF OBAMA`S RAGE": Some people have
thought about Obama, that he`s just clueless about the economy. But my
thesis is that he actually has a deep strain of hostility to capitalism and
also to America`s kind of commanding role in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Theory. Isn`t it great to say a theory? It`s just a
TUCKER: Well, it is one of the other strings that is extremely common
among the far right wing is trying to paint Barack Obama as someone who
TUCKER: And as somehow who is somehow alien. He isn`t like the rest
of us. He hates capitalism.
You know, he -- his father was born in Kenya, and maybe even he`s a
Kenyan anti-colonialist, which is what Dinesh --
MATTHEWS: I thought we were all anti-colonialists.
MATTHEWS: Excuse me, I grew up thinking the British were wrong and we
were right. I thought we were right.
Weren`t we right when we fought being a colony?
I`m sorry. Back to you. Last thought, Josh, even the terminology is
going crazy, you damn anti-colonial person.
Anyway, thank you, Josh. We`re out of time. Josh Marshall, this
loony tunes stuff will continue. I`m sure.
Thank you, Cynthia.
When we return, "Let Me Finish" with what the Republicans are left
with, blah, Mitt and Rick. Can you stand the excitement?
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Chris Christie goodbye,
Chris Christie don`t cry.
I watched some of the speech today, the New Jersey governor kissed
goodbye to the presidential race, kind of a letdown overall. He said he
couldn`t come up with a reason not to complete his term as governor which
made, I figure, a couple of not so great points.
One, he`s no Sarah Palin heading off from a job he had been duly
elected to, a job which he, in his words, asked to have.
Two, he`s no Rick Perry who`s quite willing to spend a year running
for president while still keeping the governor`s job down in Texas.
Three, he`s no Mitt Romney because he`s not clearly intent on, now,
clearly intent on -- unlike Romney -- running for and winning a second term
as governor of Jersey.
Christie`s decision not to run for president leaves a dreary field
back there, a field so dreary, so needy, that it sat there in the political
time-out corner while he made up his mind. So, left behind that it`s now
only in the wake of Christie`s departure that we also that Rick Perry is
now tied with Herman Cain in the national polls of whom Republicans say
they want to have as their nominee -- not only that but he`s rising at such
a pace that he could be by next week the party`s out and out front-runner,
Donald trump, then Michele Bachmann, and then Rick Perry and then the
quest for Chris Christie -- now, the real Debbie Downer, the cold sad final
realization that this, Mr. and Mrs. Republican, is all there is. This is
going to end up the Mitt and Rick show, from here to Iowa, New Hampshire,
Nevada, and South Carolina.
And after that, soon probably and only one of them, only Mitt or only
Rick. Geez, I can`t see the Republicans nominating either one of them with
any conviction. Picking Mitt would be like outsourcing competition and I
can`t believe Tea Party is excited about trading four more years of
attacking Obama for eight more years of applauding Romney?
Should Perry end up the nominee? Millions of Republicans will go to
bed each night scared that their nominee will have blown it before they get
up the next day.
So, the only choice Republican voters have now is one candidate who`s
proven himself to be a bit shaky, the other who`s as solid as a rock, but
also many of them are afraid as exciting as one.
Can`t wait to get to Tampa, can you?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Guests: John Heilemann, Dana Milbank, Jonathan Martin, Aaron Schock, Jim