Guests: Jonathan Martin, Jonathan Heilemann, Susan Page, Mark Meckler,
Katrina Van Heuvel, Ron Reagan
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Unwanted advances.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
A "series" of unwanted advances. That`s what the lawyer for one of the
women linked to the Herman Cain story says his client experienced, a series
of unwanted advances. That late-breaking bit of news was just the latest
detail that has come to light, yet another detail that does not square with
Cain`s denials. And now a group supporting Cain has put out a Web video
calling media scrutiny of Cain a "high-tech lynching." Sound familiar?
Also, swing time. A "USA Today" Gallup poll looked at 12 swing
states, all won by Barack Obama in 2008, and found that they are now
essentially toss-ups, including the state of Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney and
President Obama are essentially tied in these states overall. This is
where the election will be won or lost, of course, in these 12 states, and
we`re going to look at where things stand as of right now, a year before
Plus, look who`s cozying up to the Tea Party for the second day in a
row. Mitt Romney has courted the Republican right wing. It looks like
Mitt has decided to accept the Tea Party. Big question. Will the Tea
Party ever, ever accept him?
And take a look at this moment from a Senate candidate -- a fellow --
it was a gathering of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren had with volunteers
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you`re the intellectual creator of that so-
called party, you`re a socialist whore! I don`t want anything to do with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was a Tea Party supporter, and it`s just the
latest example of how the matchup between Warren and Scott Brown may wind
up being the most emotional and intensely fought of next year`s Senate
And "Let Me Finish" with President Obama`s need to describe what his
second term would do for the country, if he wants a second term, and he
We start with new details on Herman Cain. Jonathan Martin is senior
reporter for Politico, and John Heilemann is "New York" magazine`s national
Gentleman, I`ve been out selling books in Philadelphia last night, and
obviously lost my voice. I will persint -- I will persist. Joel Bennett,
the attorney for one of the women who settled with the National Restaurant
Association, gave a presser today about the sexual harassment complaint.
And he said there was more than one incident.
Here`s a portion of that press conference just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEL BENNETT, CAIN ACCUSER`S ATTORNEY: Thank you all for your
patience. In 1999, I was retained by a female employee of the National
Restaurant Association concerning several instances of sexual harassment by
the then CEO. She made a complaint in good faith about a series of
inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances from the CEO. Those
complaints were resolved in an agreement with her acceptance of a monetary
She and her husband see no value in revisiting this matter now, nor in
discussing the matter any further publicly or privately. In fact, it would
be extremely painful to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, you broke this story initially, so tell me what`s
moved here today. What`s new to you? What`s new to us?
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO.COM: Well, you have the lawyer for one of
the women who claimed sexual assault harassment detailing unwanted advances
and inappropriate behavior. And that statement, he said, was written with
his client, so he`s essentially speaking for his client there.
So this is the first time that publicly, for the camera, you`re seeing
a representative of one of the women who has made these allegations saying
that, Yes, in fact, we did make this claim.
You also have the organization confirming, through their own separate
statement today, that this woman did file a formal complaint with the
organization in 1999.
Now, the attorney wouldn`t say today how much the woman got. My
reporting has turned up that it was about $45,000 that she got for the
So the interesting thing, too, Chris -- I was there at the press
conference. The last sentence of the statement from the lawyer on behalf
of his client was, She stands by her allegations. So she`s not backing
down one inch.
But she`s also not going public. She wants, I think, to avoid the
spectacle of bringing this out, having a public back and forth, so she`s
not going to detail what exactly happened, but she`s also standing by her
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the latest from the Cain campaign. They just
issued this statement in response to the Bennett presser. Quote, "We look
forward to focusing our attention on the real issues impacting this
country, like fixing this broken economy and putting Americans back to work
through our 9-9-9 plan, as well as strengthening national security." So
they`re moving away from this story, as best they can, over the weekend.
John Heilemann, has this sort of stultified or frozen the story at the
level of "advances," and we can assume that meant sexual advances? We can
assume that meant some sort of a -- well, something like what we think of
advances, what they mean, not just bad talk in the office, but a particular
sexual aspect to this thing. So where`s that leave us?
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Well, it leaves us, Chris, at
the end of a week in which Herman Cain has seen the facts in this case get
worse for him every day, from moving from the initial Politico story
through what we`ve seen, day by day, with eyewitnesses coming forward, with
additional people who`ve seen him do inappropriate things, an Iowa
conservative radio show host, who says that Cain behaved in ways that made
some of his staff, his female staff feel uncomfortable.
There`s been a lot of back and forth, obviously, over the course of
the week, with the Cain campaign trying to blame the Perry campaign and the
Perry campaign blaming the Romney campaign.
In the end, none of that matters. What matters is the facts. And
with each day that`s gone by, his case has gotten worse. And I don`t think
that the story is -- it`s not stultified right now, in my mind. It is --
we`re still -- there`s still more to know, and I think reporters are going
to continue to press this pretty vigorously next week and--
MATTHEWS: Well, the reason I--
HEILEMANN: -- even if the Cain campaign wants to try to get past it,
as they obviously do.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back to Jonathan. I meant stultify, meaning
if the complainant here, the plaintiff, I guess you would say, in a legal
sense, says, This is all I`m going to say, going into this weekend, is
there any reason to believe she`s going to change her mind? Or is there
any reason to believe the other women, if they (ph) are, will come forward?
MARTIN: There is no reason to believe that. It`s certainly possible.
But look, there are also other ways that reporters can obtain information -
- if there were witnesses, for example, that saw some of this behavior. So
obviously, news organizations are going to keep reporting on this, mine
But again, this is the first time that you`ve seen one of the women
speaking -- granted, through her attorney -- actually, you know, reassert
these charges against Mr. Cain. And Mr. Cain clearly has now decided that
he would rather move on than litigate what happened when he was at the
MARTIN: But he also, in that statement, did not respond to her
allegations and didn`t reassert his denial.
MATTHEWS: Well, "The New York Times" story -- vet this for me. I
mean, you`re in competition, obviously, Politico, but "The New York Times"
story -- as I read it this morning -- said they were out at dinner one
night. They were drinking, a whole lot of drinking. He was out with a lot
of young staff people.
MATTHEWS: He was in his 50s, I guess, at the time. That`s probably
right at the borderline of trouble right there. But then he apparently
made a proposition to one of the young women there.
MATTHEWS: She turned him down. He kept it up. She turned him down.
And then she had the sense, whether it was evidentiary or not--
MATTHEWS: -- that she was being punished at the office for having
turned him down. That`s serious, serious business. That`s bad behavior,
not just inappropriate or uncomfortable creating behavior, that`s bad
Is that where this story stands? Because all they`re admitting here
is "advances," which to me--
MATTHEWS: -- is absolutely consistent, but very skeletal in describing
MARTIN: Well, Chris, your viewers should know that based on our
reporting, the woman described in that "Times" story -- and also our own
story from last night that my colleagues wrote -- is a separate woman from
the woman whose attorney just spoke about an hour-and-a-half ago.
MATTHEWS: OK, this is another event--
MARTIN: -- two separate cases.
MATTHEWS: Oh, well, I`m learning (ph). So it`s another case of
advances, though. That word is a very interesting word.
MATTHEWS: But "advances" means, as we might say in the parlance of
our time, made a move on somebody in a way she did not appreciate,
rejected, and continued to do so.
MATTHEWS: I`m just trying to get this to the language where the
average person who doesn`t work for an HR--
MATTHEWS: -- section of a company would know what we`re talking about-
MATTHEWS: -- and would decide for themselves where inappropriate
ventured into bad and where they say, No, this is character.
MARTIN: Well, my colleagues last night--
MATTHEWS: This is character here.
MARTIN: Yes. Chris, my colleagues last night reported that Mr. Cain
in a hotel room made a sexual overture at this woman.
MARTIN: She was so angry at what happened that she within hours took
the matter to a board member at the organization and complained to that
board member about what had happened to her in that hotel room.
Well, it was a pretty clear, according to our sources, sexual overture
in a hotel room. So that`s different than a comment in a workplace
MATTHEWS: Sure. And that was the woman who is not the woman who here
is described by her attorneys as saying there were advances made?
MARTIN: That`s correct.
MATTHEWS: So we have two cases here that seem like consistent with
John Heilemann, I get back to the question -- let`s take a look at the
polling here, new polling conducted since this story broke on the Sunday
shows. It remains -- it shows a strong contender, and still, Mr. Cain. He
is neck and neck with Romney at the top of the field in a new "Washington
Post" poll, also by ABC poll, within the margin of error. There they are,
just points apart. It doesn`t look like it`s cracking him yet.
HEILEMANN: Not yet.
HEILEMANN: Not yet. And look, he has had -- through most of this
week, he`s had pretty consistent defense from conservative media figures
and others on the conservative side of the partisan aisle. That has
obviously helped him. There are many people for whom -- of who his
supporters work who find his playing the victim in some ways, of the
establishment media culture -- they find that an appealing -- it`s part of
his whole persona as an outsider.
But I will say, Chris, that, you know, we don`t know yet. It seems
like some conservatives are now walking away from him. There are still
more facts to come out. And there are now -- there`s now becoming -- if
all of the allegations against him are true and credible, there`s now
becoming a pattern of behavior here that is going to be very hard for him
to escape in the long run.
And I think for Republicans who are looking for someone who can beat
Barack Obama, a candidate like this is going to be terribly scarred with
women going forward. That`s a problem the Republicans have in general
against the Democrats, and it will make it very tough for him if he were to
be the party`s nominee--
MATTHEWS: Oh, I`ll say.
HEILEMANN: -- to beat Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at--
MARTIN: Here are the facts now established--
MATTHEWS: More poll data here, guys.
MATTHEWS: There`s more poll data we have to share with the audience.
MARTIN: Yes, yes. Sure.
MATTHEWS: Among "The Washington Post"/ABC poll information, 55
percent, a majority of Republicans, don`t think the charges against Cain
are a serious matter, 39 percent do. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans say
the Cain charges make no difference in whether they`ll vote for him.
Now, here`s the problem in these numbers. Back to you, Jonathan.
They don`t know what we`re talking about here.
MATTHEWS: We hear buzzes beyond what we can report, but we can`t go
by those. We just know--
MATTHEWS: -- they`re out there.
MATTHEWS: Jonathan, you`re totally on top of this story, more than
anybody. There`s a lot of stuff floating around, but there`s only stuff
that`s reportable. But what`s reportable--
MATTHEWS: -- has it gotten through to the conservative base?
MARTIN: Well, if you go by those polls, it hasn`t. I mean, there`s
obviously a hesitation by a lot of folks on the right to believe some of
these charges, I think in large part because they want to believe that Mr.
Cain is telling the truth because they like him. But certainly, if more
facts do come out, I think that that`s certainly going to hurt him.
But just consider what we know right now as of 5:00 o`clock Friday
afternoon, after the press conference by this woman`s attorney and the
statement from the organization, that in 1999, this organization paid a
woman a cash settlement -- I`ve reported it`s about $45,000 -- to settle
claims of sexual harassment. He denies it. She stands by those charges.
But you`ve got a candidate for president whose organization, when he
was CEO, had to pay a claim of about $45,000 to one woman to settle a
sexual harassment payout. A second one, we understand from "The New York
Times," got a payout of about $35,000. So this candidate for president has
at least 80K in settlements to two women at the organization that he helmed
in the 1990s.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Jonathan Martin, who`s leading
this story, and John Heilemann, as always, giving us the political context
Coming up: Could be tough sledding for President Obama in 12 key swing
states. He won all 12 back in 2008, but a new poll has him neck and neck -
- wow! -- with these top-tier Republicans in those states. He could
actually lose a lot of these, perhaps half of these states, and therefore
lose the election. He`s in trouble where he needs to win. And that`s
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, another mixed jobs report out there today. The
unemployment rate ticked down actually to 9 percent even now from 9.1
percent last month. The economy added 80,000 jobs, fewer than the 100,000
the economists expected. That`s not new. We`re always below expectations
now. It was the 13th straight month of job gains, however. That`s good
news. The report also shows that job growth in September and August was
significantly stronger than initial estimates, a hopeful sign that the
economy is picking up momentum.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The 2012 election will be
decided by voters in a handful of key states that could swing either
Republican or Democrat. Take a look at this map. The states in yellow,
there they are, are the 12 toss-ups at this point, a year before the
election. Barack Obama won -- this is the scary part for the Democrats --
he won all those yellow states in 2008, but he`s facing a tough fight to
win any of them back or all of them back.
Here to break down some new numbers on these all-important swing
states are Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," which is in
any hotel room in America when you wake up, at the door, and she wrote
their cover story today on this polling. And my colleague -- esteemed
colleague, actually -- David Gregory, who`s moderator of NBC`s "MEET THE
PRESS," who has to deal with this latest news.
So first you, ingestion, digestion--
MATTHEWS: OK, you. What`s new here?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Let me tell you -- you know, we want -- we
do national polls all the time, but we don`t have a national system. We
have an Electoral College system. These are the states -- these 12 states
are the ones that will determine who wins the presidency. So we went back,
we looked at -- polled in those 12 states. And the thing that is alarming,
I think, for the Obama White House that we found is he`s in a tough
situation nationwide, he`s in a worse situation in the battleground states.
People are more negative about their lives. They give him a lower
approval rating. It really underscores the uphill climb he`s going to have
to win a second term.
MATTHEWS: And what does that tell you about the kind of climb he`s
going to have to do, probably?
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Well, I think it says a
couple of things. I mean, in that polling, as well, and in your story, is
talk about how pessimistic Americans are. We know that "right track/wrong
track" number is so indicative of how independent voters are thinking.
And the problem with that is that the White House knows that
independent voters are looking up and they`re saying, You know what? Am I
better off than I was? These are independent voters who had soured on the
Bush years and thought that Obama had the competence to kind of lead the
economy forward and lead the country out of where we were, and look what`s
happened, you know?
The best argument, as we were just saying, is, Well, it could be a
whole lot worse. That`s not a position of strength. That`s number one.
Number two, look at that -- the map again. In the mountain West, what
are you talking about? You`re talking about a lot of minority voters, not
just independents, in those states. We`re talking about Colorado and New
Mexico and Nevada. You`re talking about minority voters, Latino voters,
the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country.
They don`t just have to win them, they have to win them huge. They
have to win them huge at a time when there`s not a great deal of
enthusiasm. The president himself is saying it`s not going to be a sexy
campaign. They`re going to have to grind it out.
PAGE: You know--
MATTHEWS: Because the white voters in all our polling lean heavily
Republican now, against Obama.
MATTHEWS: That`s why you need to really sweep the minority
GREGORY: And how about -- and how about the blue-collar voters? I
mean, Kim Strossel (ph) wrote this in "The Wall Street Journal" today
about, you know, the environmental policy versus good, old union policy on
the issue of jobs. You look again at the map, the upper Midwest, union
MATTHEWS: To make these points, let`s take a look at the 101 matchups
in these 12 battleground states in the polling here. Mitt Romney beats
Barack Obama, 47-46, a statistical dead heat. Romney -- what state was
PAGE: That`s all 12 states.
MATTHEWS: All 12. And best against the president -- Romney does
best, of course, against the president. Romney leads Herman Cain 48 to
One note is that the poll was conducted before the Cain news broke.
But we`re getting a good look at the president. The president`s ahead of
Rick Perry 49-44. Well, that doesn`t surprise me either, given the
difficult problems he`s been having.
But let me ask you about this thing. We talked about the industrial
states, basically. You talking about the Rocky Mountain states, where they
definitely hope to get the newer voters, the Hispanic voters--
MATTHEWS: -- the high-tech voters, the sometimes better-educated
voters out there.
Let`s go back to the Rust Belt. I always call it from Scranton to
Oshkosh, the classic sort of Tim Russert world he grew up in, the world of
Buffalo, that whole place right across there, right? Those people are
white people, ethnic people, used to voting Democrat, but also quite
willing to vote for a Reagan, somebody they like. Will they vote for a
PAGE: And we don`t know, because people -- I think when a president`s
running for reelection, they make two decisions. The first decision is, do
I want to reelect the president?
And it`s hard to imagine that when you have 60 percent of people in
these battleground states saying I am worse off than I was when Barack
Obama getting elected, that they`re going to say, yes, I definitely want to
vote for Barack Obama.
If they say, I`m not sure about this president, I would like a change,
then they look at the alternative and say, is this an acceptable
alternative? Am I willing to vote for this person? And that`s when the
hurdle will come for Mitt Romney or whoever the Republican--
MATTHEWS: You know, it`s like a baseball manager. He looks at the
guy on the mound, it`s the sixth inning, halfway through the game and he
goes, this guy seems to be losing his fastball. He doesn`t decide about
the guy in the bullpen until he`s looked at the guy on the mound, like you
said. The mound guy better be pitching well.
GREGORY: Well, let me use a different metaphor. Put it in the
I mean, is this an acceptable alternative, is the question. So what`s
Plouffe`s job in the White House, David Plouffe, what is the president`s
job, is to beat the hell out of the alternative so you have enough doubt,
reasonable doubt about the alternative--
MATTHEWS: Does that ever work at the presidential level?
MATTHEWS: -- told me in `80 that people believed everything bad about
Reagan, but they still didn`t think Carter was up to the job.
PAGE: It worked with Dukakis and it worked with Kerry.
MATTHEWS: So, did it work in 2004? How did it work?
GREGORY: Well, it worked with -- basically, the choice was, who`s
going to keep you stronger? Who`s going to keep you safe? Who`s going to
be tougher against the terrorists?
And ultimately they were able to whittle away and sort of chip away at
Kerry, a veteran in the Vietnam War, of whether he was going to be tough
enough on terrorism and sort of undermined his choices about the Iraq war
and other things.
And I think that it was -- you know, I remember Bush saying that he
ran into a guy who said, there`s something about the Massachusetts liberal
that has a good ring to it. I mean, that basically was the campaign.
MATTHEWS: I remember that poll, David, and it blew me away when it
said basically they didn`t trust Kerry to protect the country. And that`s
GREGORY: Yes. And then bin Laden comes out--
MATTHEWS: So right now with the economy, what does it have to be? I
know this is the magic question. It`s 9 percent today. What does it have
to go to for people to say, we will keep this guy?
PAGE: President Obama`s going to be forced to break historical
precedent to win a second term, because we know that there`s not a credible
economist in the country who says the unemployment rate is going to be low
enough to be back in that range where presidents traditionally win.
That`s not to say he can`t win, but it means he needs to make his
opponent unacceptable and he needs to make the country feel like we`re at
least back on the right track. And now, of course, by three to one,
Americans say we`re on the wrong track. That`s a number--
MATTHEWS: Nate Silver`s this Sunday, "Meet the Press" day, Nate
Silver says in "The New York Times" that if we have this flat economy next
year, Obama loses.
GREGORY: What they say in the White House is two things. Trajectory
matters, right? If it can be in the high eights, whatever it is, he`s
going to still have to buck history, but there`s got to be a trend in the
Two, the vision thing that George Herbert Walker Bush talked about,
who`s got the vision for the future of the economy? Independent voters, in
the White House, they believe, will be swayed by, and they have some
evidence, they believe, to support that people buy that Obama`s still a guy
who has got some vision, and he`s stymied by forces in Washington and the
Republicans, et cetera. That`s, I think, where the--
MATTHEWS: Will they show us a picture of what the second term will
GREGORY: That`s a good question. And I don`t know, because if it`s
going to be austerity, if it`s going to be tough choices, if it`s going to
be Medicare cuts and things like that, I don`t know you want to show that.
PAGE: He may be lucky with his opposition, though. If the Republican
candidate is pushed so far to the right--
MATTHEWS: How do you put luck into a model? This guy ran against
McCain when he was at the end of his career basically.
MATTHEWS: He ran against Alan Keyes for the United States Senate.
MATTHEWS: He may be just lucky. You can`t find that in the model.
Anyway, I loved your piece this morning. That`s why I wanted to do
PAGE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: See, I like those newspapers I get in hotels.
PAGE: Well, good.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Susan Page.
And thank you, David Gregory.
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will be David`s guest
on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
GREGORY: And you.
MATTHEWS: And I will also be there -- thank you -- talking about my
book "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero."
GREGORY: But I have to bring you chicken soup tonight and tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: There it is, the book, my personal look into the career of
a beloved leader.
And next week, I will be doing the show from the West Coast, if my
voice comes back, as part of my national tour for the book starting Monday
in Seattle. You can go to Facebook.com/HARDBALL for more information on
Up next, Ohio Governor John Kasich fumbles, a football analogy, about
one of his most beloved teams, the Browns. Catch the "Sideshow" next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
Thanks for putting up with my voice tonight.
First up, it`s not exactly smooth sailing for Ohio Governor John
Kasich days before the vote on a controversial piece of anti-union
legislation. As that approaches, he`s been covering major ground
throughout the state, trying to rally support.
And he even went for a sports analogy when asked by a reporter if he
thought the legislation would really survive the strong public accusation -
- quote -- "We never thought former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie
Kosar would bring the Browns back and win that big championship game."
Well, remember that Super Bowl? No, well, maybe that`s because Bernie
Kosar never won a championship with the Cleveland Browns. And that fumble
is on par with Massachusetts Democrat Martha Coakley once upon a time
calling former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling a Yankee fan.
The lesson here, don`t use sports analogies until you know what you`re
Next up, talk about unfazed. It`s been a rough week for Herman Cain,
as we know, and now his campaign is also facing a possible legal issue
regarding his campaign`s relationship with a Koch brothers nonprofit.
Let`s hear how he`s responding to the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the Koch brothers`
brother from another mother.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CAIN: Yes. I`m their brother from another mother, and proud of it!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. I`m not sure if it qualifies as a defense.
And, finally, we all know that the current crop of GOP candidates --
or some of them, at least -- are not exactly on the dean`s list when it
comes to the science behind global warming. But how will this anti-science
platform play out in the race for the White House?
Well, according to the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, it
doesn`t make the grade. In a speech yesterday, the mayor said -- quote --
"We have presidential candidates who don`t believe in science. I mean,
just think about it. Can you imagine a company of any size in the world
where the CEO said, oh, I don`t believe in science, and that person
surviving to the end of that day? Are you kidding me? It`s mind-
Bloomberg declined to target specific candidates, however, but you
know who you are, Mitt, Michelle, and Rick and the rest of you. We know
who you are.
Up next, is Mitt Romney, the guy who wouldn`t be caught dead at a Tea
Party rally, now cozying up to the Tea Party? Can he fake it?
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JACKIE DEANGELIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jackie DeAngelis with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
A wobbly end to another crazy week. We have the Dow Jones industrials
falling 61 points, the S&P 50 slipping seven and the Nasdaq giving up 11.
Now, stocks finished well off their lows off the day today, but big
declines on Monday or Tuesday are leaving the averages in the red for the
week, snapping a five-week winning streak -- 80,000 jobs added in October
was weaker than analysts were expecting, but an upward revision of
September`s numbers helped bring the unemployment rate down to 9 percent.
And things are not looking too rosy over in Europe. The G20 ended
with little progress on the debt crisis. Of course, we are waiting for
that confidence vote in Greece. Chancellor Merkel says hardly any
countries are ponying up the bailout fund. And the IMF said flat out it
will not take part.
Finally, one stock to tell you about today. Online discounter Groupon
soaring more than 30 percent after this morning`s IPO at $20 a share.
Now, that`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Mitt Romney has been trying to make inroads with conservatives after
being eviscerated by the likes of George Will earlier this week. And now
it appears he`s extending his hand all the way to the Tea Party. Romney
spoke earlier today at an event sponsored by the Tea Party-aligned group
Americans for prosperity.
But even though Romney seems to have accepted the Tea Party, will the
Tea Party ever accept him?
Mark Meckler is the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and David
Corn is the Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC
Mark, I have to start with you on the most basic question. Is Mitt
Romney a Tea Partier?
MARK MECKLER, CO-FOUNDER, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: You know, I think
fundamentally, if you look at his record, he`s not what I would call a Tea
Partier, and he has serious differences with a lot of Tea Party folks on a
lot of issues.
MATTHEWS: What bugs you the most, Romneycare? Give us a sense, if
you had to sit at a dinner with some pals of yours on the right, and you
were saying -- and somebody said, you know, I can live with Romney. What
would you question? What would you go for?
MECKLER: Well, I think fundamentally in the Tea Party movement, the
buzzword for this year is principle. And you look at somebody who has
changed his position a number of times on a number of key issues, and you
have to doubt the principle of the man.
And I think that`s the fundamental issue with folks in the Tea Party.
There`s just a lack of trust.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe there`s any program or policy on which Mitt
Romney would die? Would he take that position, stick to it, if it meant
the defeat in an election for president? Is there anything he will fight
for and believe in?
MECKLER: You know, that`s hard--
MECKLER: That`s hard for me to say. I can`t -- I can`t say what`s
inside of the man. I can only tell you that, historically, if you look at
MATTHEWS: -- you think of, knowing him -- you`re a skeptic, so try
hard for a minute. Can you think of a single thing that he would give up
the presidency for as a matter of principle; I would rather have this
principle to heart than be president?
MECKLER: You know, honest -- yes, and, honestly, I don`t know the
MECKLER: If I had to come up with one thing, I would probably say he
seems like a good family man, and I think he would do what is right for his
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re not asking him to offer up hostages. It`s
MATTHEWS: I`m serious.
David, that is the problem. And this has nothing to do with left or
right. It`s a question of, do you believe he will fight for anything, any
position he takes isn`t rubber with this guy?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
I think what you`re hearing from Mark is the reason why he can`t get
above 22, 23, 24 percent in Republican polls. It`s -- you know, you can go
down the list of issues that he`s flip-flopped on, and people should have
concerns about those, but I think they add up to a character issue.
I mean, whatever -- whatever you want to say about Barack Obama or
John McCain in the past, or even George W. Bush and John Kerry, they had a
consistency to their careers that brought them up to the nominees -- got
nominations, and you could expect them to sort of go to the mat on certain
Barack Obama, even the left didn`t like what he did all the time on
health care, but in the White House, people keep telling him, back off,
back off. He said, no, I`m going to push ahead, even if this wrecks my
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at it.
CORN: And Romney is not like that.
MATTHEWS: Here`s the latest Huntsman campaign Web ad, showing how
Romney has flipped on issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JON HUNTSMAN CAMPAIGN AD)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Twelve million or so that
are illegally should be able to sign up for permanent residency or
We can`t talk about amnesty. We cannot give amnesty to those who have
come here illegally.
I don`t think I have ever hired an illegal in my life.
We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal
immigrants that were working there.
I believe that, since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that
we should sustain and support it.
I`m in favor of having the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow, there are a lot of 180s along that road.
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, Romney tried to defend himself against the
charges of flip-flopping to the Seacoast Media editorial board. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I think you will find that I have been as consistent as human
beings can be as I look at those issues and as I try and apply those
principles to government. I cannot state every single issue in exactly the
same words every single time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s even flip-flopping on flip-flopping.
I mean, Mark, here`s a guy who says, I simply rephrased my position.
While he was for a manmade climate change before a week ago, now he doesn`t
believe there is such a thing. He was against -- he was for limiting CO2
emissions. Now he says we should definitely not do that. He was for,
basically, a woman`s right to choose an abortion. He`s now completely
against that now.
I mean, I haven`t been able to locate it. What do you make of his
charge, all I do on every single issue is to use different phrasing,
different words each time?
MECKLER: Well, he sounds like a politician. Frankly, he sounds like
And the idea that President Obama`s been entirely consistent is absurd
as well. The vast majority of politicians, from the president on down, do
this regularly. The citizens don`t like it. Left or right, we`re tired of
it. We`re sick of it. That`s one of the reasons people are sick of this
president. And I don`t think they like it from Romney any better.
CORN: Well, I would--
MATTHEWS: Where has the president flipped, by the way? Give me some
MECKLER: Oh, I will give you a perfect example.
One of the things that the president promised to do immediately upon
taking office was to close Guantanamo Bay. Clearly, that hasn`t been done.
MATTHEWS: Well, he tried to do it.
CORN: He tried to--
MECKLER: He`s waffled on his
CORN: Mark, Mark, he can`t --
MECKLER: Hold on, Chris. He is the president.
MATTHEWS: Mark, your turn. Make your point? You`re saying he can do
it by fiat? By fiat?
MECKLER: He`s done all kinds of things by fiat, hasn`t he?
CORN: No, no.
MECKLER: This president has operated largely by fiat.
CORN: Mark, Mark, you`re wrong on the facts here. There was a bill
passed last year under the Republican leadership, saying that he`s not
allowed to move prisoners from Guantanamo. He`s not permitted to do this,
under U.S. law, passed by the Congress.
So he can`t do this by fiat. They took away in the first year money
from the Defense Department that would let him close down Guantanamo. And
Democrats, too, not a majority, but some Democrats went along with that as
So he made this promise. He`s been trying hard to do it, and he ran
into a roadblock.
But I think more importantly, going back to Mitt Romney, if I may --
MECKLER: That`s absurd. You`re an apologist for him. For two years,
he had both houses of Congress. He had two years of Congress where he has
in control of both houses of Congress.
CORN: They have not filibustered?
MECKLER: He`s a flip-flopper, he`s a flip-flopper -- there was no
MATTHEWS: OK, Mark, you opened up this door, and I want to ask you
this -- give me an example where he`s changed positions, where he says, I
want to do something, and then he says, no, I want to do the opposite, like
Romney`s done, where he`s flipped 180 on a position, not on capability.
You know how the Constitution works. There`s always that 60-vote bar to do
MECKLER: I know how the Constitution works. It seems like our
president doesn`t know how the Constitution works.
MATTHEWS: How so?
MECKLER: Look, guys, you guys are so partisan --
MATTHEWS: You`re partisan too. Let`s go on from there.
MECKLER: This is about -- I`m -- this is about all Americans and all
Americans are sick and tired of whether it`s Mitt Romney, whether it`s
President Obama, you know, you said John McCain. I won`t defend -- I won`t
defend John McCain. John McCain flip-flopped on issues.
These folks do it all the time. It doesn`t really matter whether
they`re Republican or Democrat. They`re not serving the citizens of
America. They`re not standing on principle, and it isn`t divided by party
CORN: It`s very easy to say, you know, I speak for all Americans.
You know, all Americans don`t support Barack Obama or the Republicans in
Congress. They divide and they judge these people and their changes and
their actions and failures to act across a wide spectrum.
Now, it`s easy to come out and say they`re all the same. But at the
end of the day, the Tea Party has gotten behind a lot of Republicans and
put them in office, and these guys have not made things better and they`ve
put up roadblocks to compromise reasonable action.
MATTHEWS: I understand your attitude about politicians. And by the
way, generally, I accept the attitude that a lot of these guys are
slippery. Look, generally, you`re right. I`ve worked with them. Let me
tell you. They want to survive.
My question to you, and it`s a tough one. Please give me a straight
answer, Mark. You must be a straight guy.
Here it is. Do you feel there must be some people on the right whose
attitude is, you know, I`d rather beat the brains out of Barack Obama for a
few more years than to have the stand up like some dunce and defend Mitt
Romney for eight years, as if he were my guy? You ever hear that
sentiment? Joe Scarborough hears that sentiment.
MECKLER: I haven`t heard it put that way, but I can tell you, I`ve
definitely heard people who are personally and deeply uncomfortable with
the idea of supporting Mitt Romney, absolutely. And I hear it regularly.
MATTHEWS: Could you vote for him for president?
MECKLER: Could I vote for him for president?
MECKLER: To me, the most important thing is to change the direction
of the country and I will vote for whoever I believe can remove Barack
Obama from the White House. Absolutely.
CORN: So even a flip-flopper.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think we heard him. David Corn, thank you.
Mark Meckler, please come back. I think you`re wrong about Obama.
He`s not as strong as you think he is. He can`t do anything he wants.
He`s not superman.
Up next, Elizabeth Warren versus Scott Brown. This is going to be the
race of the century. It`s already getting hot.
I didn`t think anyone could beat Brown, I think she can. She`s a real
liberal. Can she do it that way? From ideology, from principle, can she
beat him as a liberal? What a great question. Of course, it is
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, Gabrielle Giffords vows to return to Congress. She
makes that promise in a new book set for release later this month. "The
Associated Press" which bought an advanced copy of the book reports that
Giffords wrote the last chapter in this which she writes, "I will get
stronger. I will return."
Giffords dramatically returned to Congress back in August to vote for
the deal to raise the debt ceiling. She`s still focused on her recovery,
her rehabilitation in a hospital in Houston is where she`s at.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
One of the more key Senate races in 2012 will be the Massachusetts
contest between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth
Warren. The Cook Political Report rates it a toss-up right now.
For many years, Warren has been an advocate for the working class and
at the event on Wednesday, a big event on Wednesday night in Brockton,
Massachusetts -- a man asked about her role in the "Occupy Wall Street"
movement and later yelled a gender-based epithet at her.
Let`s listen to Warren`s answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: I also, since
you asked, I also want to say about Occupy Wall Street, I`ve been
protesting what`s been going on on Wall Street for a very long time.
WARREN: It is, as I said, it is an independent and organic movement.
They must, of course, obey the law, like everybody else, but they have
their own agenda and they will develop it as they develop it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, if you`re the intellectual creator of that so-
called party, you`re a socialist whore. I don`t want anything to do with
you, and your boss is a foreign-born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. After the event, Warren spoke to a "Huffington Post"
reporter about the incident and said, "I`m not angry with him, but he
didn`t come up with the idea that his biggest problem was Occupy Wall
Street. There`s somebody else who`s pre-packaging that poison, and that`s
who makes me angry."
Well, this race meant as much as any could determine which party holds
Ron Reagan is political commentator, author of my father, "My Father
at 100." And Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of "The Nation" magazine and
author of the new book, "Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the
Age of Obama."
I want to start with Katrina.
Katrina, your view? I`m absolutely fascinated with this race, because
I think it might be one of those races where someone progressive as heck,
but doesn`t seem at all an elitist, seems a regular person and can put it
together in a way the old style liberals can do it.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: I agree. I mean, I think
Elizabeth Warren is a commonsensical, unapologetic passionate fighter for
those who have been shafted in her political system. And she speaks with
great expertise but also plain vanilla, pragmatic language, grounded in the
reality of people`s lived experiences and it`s part of the mood of this
country that she was really the key architect in trying to hold banks
accountable for the economic mess they`ve created in our country.
So I think the fighting spirit, Chris, is one that we saw in that
video, it`s one we saw in the first viral video Elizabeth Warren made a few
weeks ago where she just took on this ridiculous idea of class warfare,
meaning that you take on and tax the best in the country who have so
benefited from the infrastructure and education.
So I think it`s a real fight and I think she`s a model. I think
people in this country are seeking people like Elizabeth Warren. She does
it so well.
But we need that Democrat -- that Democratic wing of the Democratic
Party is what we need to retrieve. And she becomes a face of that.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about decency, Ron. A while back, Scott Brown
made a reference to her, physically made fun of her saying she shouldn`t be
appearing in one of those ads or one of these photo place, that didn`t have
clothes on. It made a joke about something that really was inappropriate.
Here he is maintaining radio silence basically after this terrible
comment. Somebody called her a socialist whore. He didn`t come out in her
defense, hasn`t said anything from what I can tell. We haven`t been able
to find out anything on Google or anywhere. His office has a respond to
He ought to be a decent guy and come out and say, let`s kill that kind
of talk, my thinking here. Has nothing to do with left or right.
RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATORS: Yes, he should. Listen, make no
mistake about it. Elizabeth Warren has some tremendous qualities and she
is the most lethal threat to status quo Washington and its connection to
Wall Street that I can imagine.
She can`t be fooled by the Wall Street crowd. She knows where the
bodies are buried. She knows how they wrecked the economy. She knows how
they did it in cahoots with members of the congress and the government
including some in the executive branch.
And she has this wonderful quality of being able to make these rather
complex ideas clear and plain to regular folks like you and me who don`t
make their living ginning up funny money, derivatives. So, she`s a real
threat to the status quo, and that`s why the attacks against her have
gotten so vicious and personal.
MATTHEWS: Katrina, do you think the president has the stuff, if you
will, to back her because it`s going to make him a lot of enemies among the
fund-raising base up in Wall Street?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think he`s moving in ways because of the atmosphere
in this country, the fact that we`re now hearing about the issues that
should have been at the front of our agenda -- inequality, making sure the
rich pay their fair share, holding these banks accountable. He`s being
moved by that as well. And that`s how real change comes about when
movements from below push so that you have a climate in which politicians
of principle like Elizabeth Warren.
But if President Obama wants to the win the next election, I think he
needs to head out to Wisconsin, head out to Ohio, and stand with the
working families, the working people of this country.
MATTHEWS: Me, too.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And that`s what Elizabeth Warren does so well. Only
she does it, I have to say, with this combination as Ron was saying of the
fighting spirit fused with this pragmatic down home commonsensical,
accessible, plain vanilla way. And it`s a remarkable combination. I don`t
think we`ve seen someone like her on the political stage in a long time.
MATTHEWS: It`s not ivory tower liberalism, it`s meat and potatoes.
VANDEN HEUVEL: She`s going to get attacked, as you know, Chris, she
already has. I love it, in Massachusetts. You know, she`s a Harvard
fancy, fancy professor.
MATTHEWS: But she`s not.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But she`s taken that on. She`s the daughter of an
Oklahoma maintenance man and she speaks in such ways. And she`s going have
to stand tough because the smears, and Ron pointed out, are going to begin.
The money pouring in to this race, they`re going to take her on.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Ron, thanks so much. I have to shot you short. By the
way, the fact that this crazy guy accused her as a socialist whore, also
accused the president basically, once again, a big born outside the country
-- an ignoramus on parade.
Anyway, thank you, Ron Reagan.
MATTHEWS: Friends like that you don`t need. But the other side may
be stuck with them.
Ron Reagan, thank you.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, it`s great having you on.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the president -- in
fact, most Americans say they wanted to see him added to Mt. Rushmore,
which is Jack Kennedy, of course. That`s what people say in the latest
poll. They want him there.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this. A poll published last
year asked people to name the president they would most like to see added
to the four now on Mt. Rushmore. Whom do they want up there with
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and most of all, I think, Teddy Roosevelt?
Most said John F. Kennedy.
President Obama promised us a presidency like Kennedy`s, a
transformative one. But to win his second term, the only way he`ll achieve
this goal is to paint a picture, I believe, of what he intends to do with
that extended lease on his presidency. He needs to give us purpose.
We knew what Kennedy wanted to do, where he was going. He showed us
his dreams right there in his programs. The push for the civil rights
bill, the Peace Corps, the space program, nuclear arms control, winning the
Cold War without war.
What are President Obama`s dreams? If there were no Tea Party, no
Eric Cantor, where would he take us? He needs to tell us.
The day before he was killed, President Kennedy spoke in San Antonio
about how little Irish boys would get themselves to climb over high walls
by first throwing their caps over. That would force them to into over the
wall to get them back.
What is missing in the Obama presidency is that spirit of adventure,
of common purposes, that sense of mission. If the election of 2012 is
about the past, who got us into this economic mess and who to blame, the
verdict will be mixed, of course. If it`s about how bad things are now,
the verdict will be simple, negative and, unfortunately, for the president,
But if it`s about the future, right there is the prospect for
President Obama. He needs to be taking us somewhere. What does he want to
do with this second term? Tell us, draw a picture. Mr. President, throw a
cap over that wall.
Well, this is the first weekend that my book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive
Hero," is in the bookstores. And when you read it, you`ll understand how
great it was to have an historic hero in the White House.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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Guests: Jonathan Martin, Jonathan Heilemann, Susan Page, Mark Meckler,