Guests: Maggie Haberman, John Heilemann, Carolyn McClanahan
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A verdict in one case, a new star witness in
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Seattle. Leading off
tonight: Guilty of manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter. That was the
verdict read just minutes ago in a Los Angeles courtroom. Dr. Conrad
Murray was found guilty in the death of his patient, Michael Jackson. He
was accused of administering a lethal dose of an anesthetic that killed the
pop giant. We`ll get the latest at the top of the show.
Also, a clear charge against Herman Cain. A woman has now made a
hard, descriptive claim of misconduct by Herman Cain, sexual misconduct.
For the first time, we have a name and a face of an accuser and a clear on-
camera narration of what she alleges he did. And in this case, the claim
could be sexual assault.
Cain`s campaign called the claim completely false. In fact, nothing
in the past week has dented Cain`s appeal to Republican voters in our
polling, but nothing before comes close to matching today`s on-camera
Plus, we have new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll numbers that
show just how height -- how tight, rather, the race is right now. The key
may be who can take advantage of the growing anger at Wall Street -- we
know about that -- and of economic inequality overall.
And imagine settling into your seat on an airplane, you fasten your
seatbelt and make sure your tray table`s in the locked and upright
position, as you`re told. You turn to your side, and who`s sitting next to
you? Mitt Romney. We`re going to talk to a woman who shared a trip with
Mitt Romney -- in coach, by the way.
And finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the terrible position of the
Republican Party right now as I speak. They have one candidate who has
been perhaps fatally wounded today and another who has never been able to
break through to Republican conservatives, much less become their champion.
We start with today`s verdict, the guilty verdict in the Michael
Jackson case. We`re joined by MSNBC`s Martin Bashir. Martin, your
reaction to the verdict, sir? Because I have not been a student of this
crime, which is now clearly a crime, or of what the accusation was overall.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC: Well, the accusation -- Dr. Conrad Murray was
charged with involuntary manslaughter. And today, 12 jurors unanimously
agreed that he was criminally negligent in prescribing and dosing Michael
Jackson with propofol, an anesthetic normally used for major surgery, and
that he was guilty. And so today he was found guilty, as I say, in court,
and I think that was the right verdict.
MATTHEWS: So this drug is used only to render someone totally
inanimate so that they can be operated on with serious surgery. And he
used it for what purpose? What reason did he give or could have given for
prescribing it for Michael Jackson, this muscle relaxer?
BASHIR: Well, interestingly, Dr. Conrad Murray has no expertise in
the area of insomnia nor anesthesiology. He`s, in fact, a cardiologist.
But he was invited to look after Michael Jackson at a fee of $150,000 a
month. And for that, he did whatever was asked of him.
And on occasions, he would put Mr. Jackson to sleep with a concoction
of pharmacologies, some sedatives, some anesthetics. And tragically, on
this occasion, he gave him propofol, he left the room.
One of the things that was said by the prosecution was that Conrad
Murray performed a scientific experiment in a bedroom. There is not an
anesthesiologist in the world, Chris, who will tell you that dispensing
propofol in a bedroom is appropriate. There was no resuscitation
equipment. There was nothing that could be called upon in an emergency.
And worse than that, Conrad Murray walks out of the bedroom after
dispensing and setting up a drip. And that was what happened, and that`s
why he got, I believe, what he deserved, which was a guilty verdict.
MATTHEWS: Explain to me the crowd outside that were clearly chanting
for his conviction.
BASHIR: Well, you probably don`t know this, Chris, because you spend
your time analyzing politics, history and other perhaps more erudite
subjects. I spent about a year with Michael Jackson and made a
documentary. And in the process, I got to see close-up his status to
He wasn`t just a composer, a brilliant singer and incredible dancer.
And by the way, there`s no one else who`s combined all three of those
talents in one body like he did. He wasn`t just that to these fans, he was
messianic. And people actually believed and lived by some of the lyrics
that he produced in the songs that he sang.
And so for the crowds outside, I wasn`t surprised at all. In fact,
just a few minutes ago, an ambulance was called because a fan fainted as a
result of the verdict. None of that`s unusual.
And you have to remember, Chris, that this is a man who -- I once read
an article, I think it was in a music magazine in the U.K., which said that
there were three words that you could utter anywhere around the globe and
all three would be recognized. They were "OK," "Amen," and "Michael
MATTHEWS: Well, I saw a bit of that on an African safari in
Mozambique, of all places. The young people that were working with us,
they were helping us, African people and Mozambiquans, were totally
enthralled by this man, especially at the time of his death. Was he as big
as Elvis Presley and the Beatles? He wanted to be.
BASHIR: I think he probably was, you know, and I think he was bigger.
I don`t think that popular music has ever had two albums like "Off the
Wall" and "Thriller." I think that they were incredible works of art, and
I don`t think they`ll ever be surpassed.
And remember, it`s hard today for people to reflect upon that because,
of course, there`s been this horrific tragedy and this death. But
actually, it`s his music that continues to live -- I think will live
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Martin Bashir, for that emotional,
actually, very telling description of the importance of this conviction
sentencing today. Thank you, Martin Bashir, my colleague.
BASHIR: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: The Reverend Al Sharpton is host of "POLITICS NATION" on
MSNBC. Reverend, thank you for joining us. About this case -- you`ve been
following it. Four years, is that about right? Do people see that as an
appropriate sentence with this verdict?
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST, "POLITICS NATION": I think some people see it
as probably a light sentence. I think when you have a doctor that clearly
goes against his oath, that results in a fatality, that now this jury has
convicted, four years is probably light in the view of many.
Now, again, Chris, I am not an unbiased observer. I was friends with
Michael. I knew Michael for 30 years, worked with Michael. He supported
National Action Network, my group. I did the eulogy at his burial.
I watched his kids. I watched his mother, in the days between his
death and the memorial service and the burial that we did, grapple with the
fact that he was gone. People forget he was somebody`s father, somebody`s
son. And they doubted anything would happen.
I`m glad for them today there was a deposit made for justice. But
you`ve got to remember, these people exploited Michael. Did Michael have
weaknesses and flaws? Yes. But for people -- this doctor to get $150,000
a month to take care of Michael and to allow this to happen, to turn his
back, to bring girlfriends in, for him to have walked out of this trial
acquitted would have sent a message around the world that I think would
have been an extremely negative precedent.
MATTHEWS: Well, Reverend Al, tell me what you think was the actual
moral crime here. This man, obviously, was playing to the weakness on the
part of his patient. The patient was desperate to get to sleep. I mean,
we`ve heard these stories about Judy Garland and these movie stars over the
years. They`re just -- they`re so hyped up, for a lot of reasons, some of
them taking drug themselves, they can`t get to sleep. I mean, I`ve not had
this problem. But he apparently was so desperate he asked this guy to do
things he shouldn`t have done.
At what point was it Michael Jackson`s fault, or was it his fault? Or
how do you divide up the responsibility for a patient who desperately wants
to go to sleep and is willing to take chances?
SHARPTON: The way you divide it is up is a thing called law. The
question is, when this doctor was asked if he was to break the law, he had
an oath as a doctor and he had a responsibility as a citizen to say, I`m
not going to break the law.
SHARPTON: I was friends with Michael. Michael and I have spent
countless hours talking about many things. If Michael had asked me to do
something that was illegal, I had the responsibility to say, I may be your
friend, but I`m not doing that.
So there is no point where Michael shares the blame on a doctor
deliberately, intentionally, with reward (ph) saying, I`ll break the law
MATTHEWS: So you believe he bidded him up to $150K a month to get him
to break the law. That`s your contention.
SHARPTON: This doctor closed his practice, moved to Hollywood, moved
in his home, and got paid handsomely. Not only do I believe it,
apparently, the jury believed it after hearing all of his defense because
they convicted him. Now, there`ll be many -- and I`m going to debate some
on my show after your show, and we`ll do HARDBALL at 6:00 again -- but
there`ll be many that will try to blame it on Michael.
Michael paid for whatever he did with his life. This doctor should
pay for what he did. And anyone that participated in exploiting Michael
should have to pay.
MATTHEWS: A powerful statement. Thank you very much. My colleague,
Reverend Al Sharpton, will be on at 6:00 Eastern.
Coming up: a fourth woman has come forward to allege sexual harassment
against Herman Cain, and this time we have a name, a face, and explicit
details for the first time. No more murkiness here, a clear case of what
looks like sexual assault, even though -- it`s 14 years ago, but this is
now clear. And most people, including conservatives, and I think the
Christian right, are not going to like what they`re hearing here. Big
question tonight: Can Herman Cain survive this allegation?
This is HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, I`m here in Seattle, Washington, speaking at the
Arts and Lectures series about my new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero."
I`m going to explain how, in Jacqueline Kennedy`s words, a sick, lonely
little boy grew into the hero who saved his crew in World War II and then
saved the planet from nuclear war in the Cuban missile crisis.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A bombshell in the Herman Cain
story today as a woman represented by Gloria Allred gave a vivid account of
what she alleges Cain did to her in a car more than 10 years ago. Sharon
Bialek says she traveled to Washington, D.C., back in 1997 to meet with Mr.
Cain for help finding a job. She had met him previously at the National
Restaurant Association convention before being laid off from a job there.
Here she is earlier today describing a night in which he took her out
for drinks, dinner and a drive past that NRA office. NBC News has not
independently confirmed her allegations.
Let`s listen to Ms. Bialek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON BIALEK, HERMAN CAIN ACCUSER: Instead of going into the
offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my
skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it
towards his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked. I said,
What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn`t what I came
here for. Mr. Cain said, You want a job, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Whoa. I guess that`s about a clear a case of sexual
harassment -- looks to me like sexual assault, basically.
Maggie Haberman, you`ve been covering this case -- by the way, the
Cain campaign has issued this statement this afternoon in response to that
press conference. Quote, "Just as the country finally begins to refocus on
our crippling $15 trillion national debt and the unacceptably high
unemployment rate, now activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing
forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-
runner Herman Cain. All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are
completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately, the
American people will not allow Mr. Cain`s bold 9-9-9 plan, clear foreign
policy vision, and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by
these bogus attacks."
For more on these allegations and what it means politically for Herman
Cain, I`m joined by John Heilemann of "New York" magazine and Maggie of
Haberman of Politico.
Maggie, thank you for joining us. I want to start with you because
Politico`s been all over this story, just getting the facts straight.
What`s your reaction to hearing this first-ever on-camera narrative of
MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO.COM: Well, I think this, as you suggested,
changes things because this is someone who has come forward on the record.
She is speaking publicly. She has a name to the face. She is going into
detail on the allegations. That has been what Mr. Cain`s campaign has
pointed to as why they didn`t want to respond to this going forward, that
this was gossip, et cetera.
You raised a point also that came up at this press conference, where
Gloria Allred, who was answering questions for Ms. Bialek -- Ms. Bialek did
not answer questions herself, but Gloria Allred was asked by one reporter,
Doesn`t this go beyond sexual harassment? Isn`t this more sexual assault?
She declined to characterize it in any way other than just letting the
claims speak for themselves.
But I think that the more this gets repeated for Herman Cain, I do
think that this is now something that he`s going to have a harder time not
answering questions about.
MATTHEWS: See, what`s different in this is we`ve heard the word
"murky" used more than at any time in my coverage of anything -- murky,
MATTHEWS: There`s nothing murky about this. Either she`s telling the
truth and he should go, or she`s totally making something up. This is not
an interpretive event.
HABERMAN: Right, I mean -- that`s right.
MATTHEWS: This is horrible. Horrible! If anybody knew their
daughters was submitted to this kind of behavior by a boss, you`d go down
and do something quite dramatic, I mean, you -- or the wife or spouse or
sister, anybody they cared about. This is unbelievable behavior.
MATTHEWS: Not unbelievable, it obviously is believable, but I mean,
it`s horrendous. And it seems to me a Christian conservative watching this
description by her would have to say either she`s completely lying or this
guy shouldn`t be even thought of as a president. It`s one or the other.
HABERMAN: Well -- right. I mean, I think what she did to bolster her
claim was that Gloria Allred read -- and she didn`t name them, but she read
from two sworn statements from her boyfriend at the time and a friend at
the time, both of whom she says she contemporaneously told about what had
happened. She didn`t get into specifics, she said, because she was
embarrassed, but she did say that there was a car. She did say the -- you
know, the general outline of what happened.
As you said, she`s either telling the truth or she`s not telling the
truth. But this does take this out of sort of what critics have described
as a grayer area and it does make it much more specific.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s black and white. John Heilemann, let me
ask you about the political aspect. That`s what we cover here. We`re not
a court of law. But I am thinking that we`ve heard a lot of "murky," we`ve
heard a lot of buzz. You and I have talked about it off-camera. Everybody
talks about what they think they`ve heard as the best reporting on this.
But this isn`t reporting. This isn`t the media. This is a woman with
a clear-cut memory, apparently, or an accusation of a memory, which is
stark as hell.
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Yes. And I think it`s
conceivably a watershed moment in this whole episode, Chris, because as you
said -- and I`ll just draw it out a little bit further -- you know, Herman
Cain last week had a series of allegations and a series of facts that
became known. Each day, they got little worse, to my eye. But they all
were still confined to stories by the reporters of Politico, to quotes from
settlement documents, to comments by lawyers on behalf of alleged victims.
But we had no face. We had no human being.
Now we have this woman, who I thought came across as credible on TV.
She did not come across as flaky. She didn`t come across as someone who
was in some way not to be believed on the face of it. And I think for a
lot of people, that does change things in terms of the psychology of this,
in terms of how it`s received by people. A human face is a very different
And I think Maggie`s right, it will be hard for Herman Cain to just
say, I`m not going to talk about this anymore. I also think that we will
remember last week, when his stories changed so dramatically over the
course of the week. For them to deny categorically the way they did today,
my question is, Well, what will they be saying tomorrow?
And it`s part of the problem of the way they handled it last week
because now when they make a categorical denial, none of us are really sure
whether that categorical denial is going to be standing 24 hours from now.
All we can say is, Well, that`s what they`re saying right now. Who knows
what they`re going to be saying 36 hours from now, 24 hours from now? Who
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to Maggie on the reporting. You`ve
been covering this for so long, intently, your organization especially.
And this is the line that defines sexual harassment. "You want a job,
MATTHEWS: I mean, in addition to possible felonious behavior here,
you have somebody attempting to say, If you don`t commit this sex act for
MATTHEWS: ... you`re not getting the job. I mean, this the -- this
is sort of not the worst case, this is the common notion of sexual
harassment. It`s where you use your power to get sex.
MATTHEWS: And here`s a guy -- if this is true -- now, got to throw in
the "if" because it`s always possible - I don`t think, here, plausible, but
possible - she completely made this thing up....
I mean, she -- look, she definitely worked for the NRA. We confirmed
that she was employed there. She definitely did the job that she said.
The rest of it, as you said, it`s a he said/she said.
But the she is named, the she is out there. You will see her face run
on loops on the cable networks for at least the next 24 hours. She is now
someone who is an identifiable figure. And I think that, you know, the
Herman Cain campaign has said, you know, we are not discussing this, we are
not going to talk about this anymore.
So far, polls have all shown that Republican voters are not, you know,
influenced by this. They don`t consider this to be a problem. I think
that the more this drips, drips on, I think it does become much harder to
MATTHEWS: Well, this wasn`t a drip.
HABERMAN: No. This was...
MATTHEWS: This was an avalanche, I think, Maggie.
HABERMAN: No -- and this was -- right. I mean, this is definitely a
different thing than what we have seen so far.
In fact, you have heard so much that your perspective is so informed
by your reporting that you`re missing the incredible drama of people who
just doubted this all along...
MATTHEWS: ... completely doubted it, all of a sudden, wait a minute,
I have been all wrong in my thinking. It sounds like there`s something, it
looks like there`s something here that`s awful.
In our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll taken before this
accuser came out today, a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, say they`re
not at all concerned about voting for Cain in light of these allegations.
Well, back to Heilemann, sir.
MATTHEWS: These aren`t allegations of the kind that are off the table
or out of camera range. This is right on camera. As we all know from
video, it never goes away. It`s not biodegradable.
That allegation made today is going to haunt this guy from here to the
Iowa caucuses, if he`s still around.
HEILEMANN: It`s a different character of allegation.
And -- but even though it`s different, Chris, because of the fact that
there`s a name and a face attached to it, it builds on what happened last
week. She is woman number four. Now, we don`t have the faces of the first
three women, but we have three previous women and we have two settlements
where there was money exchanged to make cases go away that have at least
some similarity to this case.
So, it is -- for many reasonable people, it`s starting to look like,
again, if all of -- some of these things, we know something happened. In
this case, if this woman is telling the truth, something definitely
happened. And now you have four cases, where people are going to start to
quite reasonably, if not conclusively, start to think, there`s a pattern
here. This is consistent.
And four cases could turn into -- who knows what will happen after
this, but there is an accretive element to this, where finally the straw
breaks the camel`s back. And even people who want to be in denial and say,
well, it`s just the liberal media or just the inside the Beltway crowd or
whatever, start to think, huh, four is four, and this woman is out here in
front of the camera.
I think this could be the moment where the polls start to turn. And
if they start to turn, we will look back on this day and say, it was this
day that started to turn them.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Maggie -- if you don`t want to answer, fine
-- is this of a piece with what you have been able to report before, or
have been able to discover? I mean, really be careful here. Is this the
kind of behavior, of this raw, almost violent kind of behavior, this
physical forcing kind of thing, and then challenging, do you want the job,
is this of a piece or of a kind with the other three cases, as you know, or
any of the other cases?
HABERMAN: What we have reported before is that, you know, in some
instances, there were physical gestures or comments that made the women
HABERMAN: In one specific case, as we reported, the woman alleged at
the time that she was invited up to Herman Cain`s hotel room and that he
did something that she perceived as overtly sexual and she felt that her
job was going to be at risk if she didn`t do it. So I will just leave it
MATTHEWS: I`m talking about demand -- I`m talking about are there
other cases of demands for sex...
HABERMAN: I`m just going to leave it where...
MATTHEWS: ... with the quid pro quos?
HABERMAN: No, I understand. I`m just going to leave it where we
MATTHEWS: Well, I understand what you have to do. You`re being
careful, as you should be and as we should be.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Cain did not want to answer questions about the
allegations over the weekend, even before this new woman came forward.
Here he was chiding reporters, in fact, for asking him about the whole
issue. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t even go there.
QUESTION: Can I ask my question?
CAIN: No, because...
QUESTION: May I ask a good question?
CAIN: Where`s my chief of staff?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m right here.
CAIN: Please send him the journalistic code of ethics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will do.
CAIN: All right. You got a good -- who else? You want to ask
another good question? I was going to do something that my staff told me
not to do and try to respond, OK? What I`m saying is this.
CAIN: We are getting back on message, end of story, back on message.
Read all of the other accounts. Read all of the other accounts, where
everything has been answered in the story. We`re getting back on message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
John Heilemann, let`s figure out where this leaves us politically. It
seems to me that the Republican Party, the conservative wing of it, which
is dominant, hasn`t warmed to Mitt Romney. It seems like it`s tissue
rejection, as far as he`s concerned.
MATTHEWS: This guy was their alternative game. Who`s next to be
possibly a hero of the right? Could it be Newt Gingrich? He seemed to
have warmed -- wanted to be seen in kind of a buddy picture this weekend at
that Texas debate, the two of them, he and Cain.
HEILEMANN: Well, look, there`s a lot of buzz, obviously, in
establishment circles, Chris, about the notion that Newt Gingrich`s time is
coming. And we have had all of these candidates -- these non-Romneys` kind
of rise and fall, whether it`s people like Donald Trump or Michele Bachmann
or Rick Perry. Herman Cain has not yet fallen in his numbers, but he may
be about to.
It might be Newt Gingrich`s turn again. That`s possible. Iowa
conservatives, he`s gotten a lot of -- he`s getting -- he`s getting a lot
of buzz on the ground among crowds and so son. So that`s -- it`s perfectly
possible. But I said this last week and I will say it again.
Republicans -- what we find in polling over and over again is that
what Republican voters want most of all is somebody who can beat President
Obama. And Republicans always are at a disadvantage with female voters in
a general election. They have an advantage with male voters and they`re
disadvantaged among female voters.
I just can`t understand how a Republican voter who wants badly to beat
President Obama doesn`t think that Herman Cain is now toxic for suburban
moderate women that you need, the Republicans need to get in larger numbers
than they normally do to win a general election. I just don`t understand
how you make that calculation.
MATTHEWS: And they would have to get over the obstacle of looking at
a woman who`s of sound mind and body, obviously, who seems to know exactly
what has happened in her life, and has shown no sweat about it, in fact, a
clear good witness, and they can`t just dismiss her and say, she doesn`t
know what she`s talking about, when she does to her mind know exactly what
she`s talking about.
Thank you, John Heilemann, and thank you, Maggie Haberman.
HABERMAN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: As always, Maggie, thank you.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Which Republican presidential candidate`s mom
wants the world to know her son is smarter than she is? Catch the
"Sideshow" coming up -- lightening things up here finally.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."
First up, there`s more where that came from. Herman Cain may have a
monopoly on the headlines these days, but don`t think that`s doing anything
to overshadow Rick Perry`s loosey-goosey speech in New Hampshire late last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The good news is that
little plan that I just shared with you doesn`t force the Granite State to
expand your tax footprint, if you know what I mean, like 9 percent
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And the late-night scene shows no signs of putting that one
Let`s take a look at "Saturday Night Live"`s take on where Rick Perry
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, it looks like you`re just flat-out
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What? The election? I know. I`m losing it
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I`m losing. Everyone say, you got to run, you
got to run, you will definitely win. And my polls go like...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I would be such a good president if there wasn`t
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Governor, it`s a long campaign. You will be
fine. Just don`t worry about what people are saying about you. And I`m
sure you will pull out of this with dignity and...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Governor?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He`s asleep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today`s peacock, tomorrow`s feather duster.
And more from the Perry family. Mother knows best? Her son may b3e
running for president, but Rick Perry`s mother, Amelia, apparently has no
qualms about defying his requests, including offering herself up for
She recently spoke with "The Dallas Morning News," saying -- quote --
"I probably shouldn`t be doing this, because Rick asked me not to. I don`t
think he`s perfect and I don`t always agree with him, but he`s smarter than
I am and he wants what`s best for America."
Well, Rick Perry, his mother says he`s smarter than she is. Pretty
good campaign slogan, actually.
And now the golfing days are over. Winter may be upon us, but the
weather`s not the only thing turning chilly on Capitol Hill. How are
things going between Speaker John Boehner and President Obama? Could be
better. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president and I
have a pretty good relationship. You know, it`s been a little frosty here
the last -- the last few weeks. But we have got a pretty good
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think we all know the reason for that frosty
relationship. Boehner can`t deliver on a decent compromise for the
president. And that`s the reason.
Coming up: the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows just
where the presidential race stands right now. And if it`s Obama vs.
Romney, who has the greater potential to catch fire? That`s what it looks
like right now.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JACKIE DEANGELIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jackie DeAngelis with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks rebounding in light, but volatile trading today, the Dow Jones
industrials surging 85 points, the S&P 500 adding seven, and the Nasdaq
tacking on nine.
The minor moves today generated by driblets of news coming out of
Europe. We had ECB policy-maker Juergen Stark sparking this afternoon`s
rally by saying that he thinks the debt crisis will be solved in one to two
In stocks, Best Buy slumped after buying out its British partner and
apparently abandoning plans for a chain of mega-stores in Europe. And
General Motors peeled out after its China chief says that the company is on
track to double its sales in China by 2015. Biotech giant -- biotech giant
Amgen jumping after announcing plans to buy back up to $5 billion of its
And home builders advancing after an analyst said that while the
housing market is still flat, companies that survive the downturn will be
lean, mean, and likely to prosper.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll is out, and while it
shows that President Obama is still underwater in his approval ratings, he
manages to beat a generic Republican in a head-to-head matchup.
Chuck Todd is a MSNBC political director and Chris Cillizza is an
MSNBC political analyst and a managing editor of PostPolitics.com.
Gentlemen, let`s go through these numbers, where we see a generic
matchup there. Republicans still haven`t settled on a candidate just yet,
but in fact the NBC poll shows Romney and Herman Cain are virtually tied as
the front-runners, while Rick Perry has taken a tumble and now ties Newt
Gingrich for fifth.
So, where are we at right now, Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think where we`re at
is we still have the Republican Party split into two camps. Your
establishment business wing is gravitating towards Mitt Romney, and the Tea
Party, populist, conservative, sort of outsider part of the party
gravitating towards anyone that`s not Mitt Romney, and frankly doubling
down for now with Herman Cain, although this poll was taken before today`s
new developments and the Gloria Allred-connected part of this crazy story,
TODD: So what I would say is, is that we still are in the same place
we were, where the party is still split down the middle between whether
they`re going to rally around sort of the country club, business wing of
the party, which is what Mitt Romney represents, or the more conservative,
populist wing that has given them all the energy.
MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza, today, and we saw a vivid attack,
basically, on the morality, basically, the character of Herman Cain. This
wasn`t a question of inappropriate behavior. This is terrible behavior in
any circumstance on any planet.
And it looked like the worst kind of case of sexual harassment, using
your power to get sex from somebody, horrendous, vivid, graphic description
we have never seen before from an actual human being who seems like a
regular human being to me.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And you know, Chris, the
woman, Sharon Bialek, said, I`m here to put a name and a face to this.
And I thought to myself, politically, that`s troublesome for -- if
you`re Herman Cain, because, to your point, what we have had is a series of
anonymous women who are resistant or don`t want to come forward, for
whatever reasons, confidentiality agreements, they want to protect their
It`s easier to turn this into a case of the media, the Republican
establishment, whoever you want to blame, Rick Perry playing political
gotcha if you`re Herman Cain, if there isn`t a face, if there isn`t video,
if there isn`t sound of someone.
CILLIZZA: Remember, I always hearken back. Remember Gennifer Flowers
from the 1992 campaign. We had heard rumors of all this stuff with Bill
Clinton, but it didn`t crystallize until Gennifer Flowers held that New
York City press conference.
So, to Chuck`s point, I think, let`s wait a few more days or even a
week or two and see what polling looks like then, because I do think -- I`m
not saying this will be the game-changer as it relates to these charges --
or accusations -- but I think it has the potential to be so, because, you
know, it`s a name, it`s a face, it`s a voice. And she looked and sounded
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at the Republican field right now.
Right now in a head-to-head matchup, Obama beats Romney by six points.
That`s an actual face, Romney`s. And Cain by 15.
While the NBC poll shows that regardless of whether a third party
candidate like Rand Paul or Michael Bloomberg enters the race, Obama stands
firm with 44 percent of the votes. But is this his ceiling?
Now, this is fascinating stuff because there`s always a theory out
there, given a weak Republican candidate like Romney -- and let`s face it,
not a very strong Democratic candidate in Obama the way he stands right now
-- that somebody will want to venture into this thing. Here`s one clue, by
the way, why these numbers barely change. Only 11 percent of those polled
would enthusiastically vote for Romney, while 28 percent would vote for
So, there`s -- I love polls that break what we think is true.
That`s my question to you, Chuck. It seems to me we always thought
that the Republicans were mad dog to get Obama. But they`re not mad dog
behind any one candidate.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, that`s what`s
fascinating. Republicans in general are more enthusiastic about voting
this cycle generically. And when you put the name to the candidate, then
suddenly you see that that is different when it`s Mitt Romney.
At some point, Mitt Romney has to confront this. Does he confront it
in the primaries, where it`s a challenge to him, where he almost can`t get
the nomination? Does he confront it with a running mate, where he`s going
to have to pick somebody that excites this part of the party, the Tea
Party, the conservative populist wing, whatever you want to describe it as,
but it`s the part of the party that`s providing the energy.
Does he have to pick a running mate that does that, that, frankly,
did for what Sarah Palin did for John McCain? People forget this, I think
it actually helped him in some parts of the Republican electorate, created
But one thing about this third party matchups, and you`ve got to keep
an eye on it. Paul`s given everything indication that he`s not going to do
this. He`s not ready to say he`s going to endorse whoever the nominee is,
but he says he`s not going to do this this time. But by putting Paul on
the ballot, even Bloomberg, we tested both of them, it`s a strong. It`s 13
for Bloomberg, 18 for Senator Paul.
It looks like Perot, Chris, these voters. They`re more -- a little
more conservative, a little younger, from the Western part of the country.
I mean, it`s like the Perot group. A little more disaffected, a
little more disillusioned. Supporters both of the Occupy Wall Street
movement and the Tea Party. You know, it`s that disillusioned portion of
the electorate. Paul speaks it better right now than probably any better
MATTHEWS: Boy, I smell it, too. I`m with you on that. The NBC poll
shows there is one issue more than any other driving the election. It`s
along the line you`re speaking and it sure should not come as a shock.
But an overwhelming majority of Americans, 76 percent, believe the
economy is out of balance and favors the rich.
Chris Cillizza --
MATTHEWS: -- if you believe that Obama is an establishment figure
coming from the Ivy League, if you believe -- and having a lot of friends
on Wall Street -- if you believe that Mitt Romney is an establishment
figure from the Ivy League with lots of friends on Wall Street, who`s not
really going to go after him with a torch, you`re looking for somebody who
will. Now, I don`t think Bloomberg fits that category myself being an
expert in business communications, but -- and a billionaire.
But it does seem they want somebody to stick it to the establishment,
and neither one of these two guys is perfectly fit for that.
CILLIZZA: Absolutely, Chris. And, look, we`ve talked about this for
a long time. You look at any poll, NBC/"Wall Street Journal," "Washington
Post"/ABC, it`s clear that the sentiment for a third party run is out
there. People don`t like politicians.
Look what happened in 2006 and 2008. People voted against
Republicans. In 2010, they voted for Republicans. People don`t know what
they want. They just know they don`t want the status quo.
CILLIZZA: So I think it`s as ripe as any time since `92. The
problem, Chuck and I have talked about this many times, is who is it? I
don`t think it`s Bloomberg. I guess it could be Rand Paul, Jon Huntsman.
MATTHEWS: Who is it?
CILLIZZA: Who is it? You got to have somebody to channel that
TODD: Chris --
MATTHEWS: Who is it, Chuck?
TODD: -- number one thing, though, Peter Hart did this great thing,
Peter Hart and Bill McInturff, our pollsters, they wrote up various
scenarios that could happen in -- after the election. The number one
scenario that was the most popular was that somehow this was an election
where anybody with 15 years or more experience in Washington was voted out.
It was something like 75 percent.
CILLIZZA: That`s amazing.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
TODD: That`s the sentiment. If that doesn`t capture where the
public is, they think this place isn`t working, they want to change it,
they`re not sold on the Republicans, they`re not sold on the president, but
they want somebody who`s going to truly shake it up and you point to it.
That`s where, you know, you go back -- I`m a Buffalo, Springfield
guy. Peter Hart started doing it today. There`s something happening out
here. What it is? It ain`t exactly clear.
MATTHEWS: I still don`t understand, by the way, as we speak, why
Chris Christie took the ride on this, took the buy.
CILLIZZA: He has to be kicking himself.
CILLIZZA: We said that at the time, Chris. We said that at the
time. Everything was perfect for him to step in.
Chuck`s point, conservatives -- Mitt Romney, you see Herman Cain go
up and down, you see Rick Perry go up and down, what doesn`t change? Mitt
Romney is at 23 to 25 percent of the vote.
MATTHEWS: They`re not going to look for either guy who looks like
they`ve never had a bad guy. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, both look like
they`ve never had a problem in their life, and the country`s had nothing
but problems, and they`re looking for somebody who shares their grief,
their grievance -- their grievance against what`s going on, their anger.
And neither one of these guys has the temperament to express that.
I don`t think Obama is a convincing populist and certainly Mitt
Romney isn`t. And the reason we`re talking about this, guys, let`s be
honest, we know that Herman Cain can`t be the nominee as of today. It
doesn`t look it`s -- I`ll say at you, guys, I don`t think it`s possible for
the Christian conservatives of this country to say yes to a guy who tried
to get that woman to say yes to him.
Thank you, Chuck Todd, and thank you, Chris Cillizza.
TODD: Thanks, guys.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we`ll meet a woman who spent two hours on a plane
sitting next to Mitt Romney. Can you stand the excitement? She said she
came off -- he came off as out of touch, even wooden -- you`re surprising
me so much. I can`t wait to meet this eyewitness.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Voters go to the polls tomorrow and there are a couple of
big statewide races we`ll be watching. In Ohio, voters will decide whether
to keep or repeal a law that limits collective bargaining among public
In Mississippi, there`s that controversial measure we`ve mentioned to
define a fertilized egg as a person, which has fired up activists on both
sides of the abortion issue. Mississippi also selected its next governor
to replace term-limited Haley Barbour.
And Kentucky is expected to reelect its governor, Democrat Steve
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When Dr. Carolyn McClanahan took her seat aboard a flight from
Atlanta to Boston, she found herself seated next to Mitt Romney. She asked
Romney if he`d pose for a picture and he agreed. Then, Carolyn tweeted it
to her followers.
But when she tried to engage the candidate about health care reform,
he wasn`t in the mood to talk. And that led to this headline in "The New
York Times" politics blog, "The Caucus" -- "An Aloof Romney in a Plane
Dr. Carolyn McClanahan is a former practicing physician who is now
the director of her own financial planning company. She joins us from
Doctor, thank you very much for joining us.
I`m not saying I`m overwhelmingly surprised by this but you were.
Tell me what it was like. You`re sitting next to him on a plane in coach.
Does that surprised you, to start with, that this big shot was riding in
DR. CAROLYN MCCLANAHAN, SAT NEXT TO ROMNEY ON A FLIGHT: Right. You
know, it was very funny because we knew he was getting on the plane and I`m
sitting there, and all of a sudden he`s looking at my seat and there he
was. And I`m thinking, gosh, I`m an expert on health care reform and I`m
sitting next to "Mr. Governor of Health Care Reform," this is very
You know, I thanked him for running for president because it`s a hard
job and you have to put up with a lot. And I also thanked him for, you
know, what he did in health care reform in Massachusetts. And he was very
gracious and very kind.
MATTHEWS: And then?
MCCLANAHAN: And then he pulled out a "USA Today" and I said,
"Nobody`s ever going to stump you on what you`re reading these days."
MATTHEWS: OK. I know, like a Sarah Palin. I get you.
MCCLANAHAN: Right, right, right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about -- you ventured the question, you
were about to talk to him about your ideas about health cost containment.
And then what happened?
MCCLANAHAN: Well, actually, the flight -- we were an hour into the
flight. And the whole two hours, I talked to him a total of four minutes.
And I read my medical journals in front of him and my financial planning
journals so he knew I knew something.
So I said to him, I just want two minutes of your time. He was
wearing ear buds and looking his iPod, I said, I`m a physician, I`m a
financial planner. I read the entire health care reform law and I speak to
thousands of people around the country on health care reform and I have the
answer to your problem.
And I know that`s kind of bold. But it`s like there are answers out
And he goes, OK.
I said 25 percent of our cost in health care is on overhead. In
France and Germany, it`s 5 percent to 10 percent. If we could cut overhead
to what they had, we would save $500 billion a year. Don`t you think
people would take notice of that?
And then he just looked at me and he said, I understand. And then he
put his ear buds back in and went back to his iPod, he didn`t give -- to
ask and give me a chance to say, you know, the way we do that is with a
single billing system and a nationalized electronic medical record. So, I
never got the opportunity to share that part with him.
MATTHEWS: So, what`s your -- I don`t know what to conclude on that.
It seems to me normally people like -- well, not him. But normally, if
someone comes up to me with an idea on television, I`d say, here`s my e-
mail address and I`ll respond to you if you send it to me and I`ll look at
But you didn`t sense he was even going to look at your idea?
MCCLANAHAN: Oh, no. I mean, it was obvious that he wasn`t
interested. I mean, I know he has to be so careful about everything he
says and I didn`t really expect anything. It would have been nice for him
to say, you know, thank you, I`m glad that you`re interested in such an
important topic -- anything like that. I just felt -- you know, he`s
riding around in coach trying to make himself look like one of us and I
was, four minutes out of four hours, I don`t think I was being out of line
just to speak a minute.
MCCLANAHAN: So, that was just a little -- it made me sad actually
for the lack of political discourse in this country.
MATTHEWS: I understand. Let me ask you this -- there are Democrats,
the people around the president, the handlers, are pushing the story that
he`s weird. What would you call him? Weird, distracted, distracted?
MCCLANAHAN: Oh, no.
MATTHEWS: Would you call him weird?
MCCLANAHAN: I would not call him weird. He was very gracious.
People asked for autographs and he gave autographs.
You know, one guy did ask him for a restaurant recommendation in
Boston. And he said, I can`t give you one. And the guy pressed him a
little bit and he says, you`ll ask somebody else, I can`t give you one.
I think, you know, he just is very tentative. He -- you know, he`s
got to be careful about what he says, so he says nothing.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, next time, maybe you`ll sit next to somebody
sometime, it will be more interesting. I understand what you tried to do,
you tried to do the right thing, which is share your expertise. As a
citizen, you did the right thing.
Anyways, thank you, Carolyn --
MCCLANAHAN: Well, thank you.
MATTHEWS: -- McClanahan.
MCCLANAHAN: I look forward to your book, by the way.
MATTHEWS: You mean the one called "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero"?
MATTHEWS: I like the way you work. Thank you, Doctor.
MCCLANAHAN: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish," by the way, with the big problem for
problems and Herman Cain as he implodes. That wasn`t plan, by the way.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this -- thanks to the
horrendous news today, the Republican Party finds itself at wit`s end.
If voters believe the account given by Sharon Bialek today, they
cannot possibly want Herman Cain as president. Yet the same forces that
drove Cain to lead in the polls will continue to undermine Mitt Romney.
Hard conservatives do not accept Romney as one of their own, they see
him as quite willing to become a Northeastern moderate, even a liberal.
They do not believe what happened in Massachusetts will stay in
Massachusetts. They believe that once this constant Washington, D.C.,
surrounded by the country`s East Coast political establishment, Romney will
become part of it. He will be in Washington, D.C. what he was in Boston,
So, who`s that leave? If Cain can bust, and Romney remains Romney,
who will be the go-to Republican? This is the problem. As I just said,
the forces that led conservatives to Cain, their paramount rejection of
Mitt Romney remains in effect. They still need a nominee.
Having seen Trump come and go, Bachmann rise and fall, Perry fly
without any apparent bearings, they`re stuck with a bear covered. Not
quite, of course.
I`ve been watching Newt Gingrich move into position. His camaraderie
with Herman Cain in the weekend Texas debate over the weekend show he`s
hoping to benefit when Herman Cain falls. He, Newt, would get the Cain
backers because he has been kind to him -- a kind, warm associate of
But can the Republicans run a three-times-married guy who is pushed
from the speakership as their prime candidate of 300 million people? Could
this be where it ends with conservatives voting for Newt Gingrich out of
base antipathy toward Mitt Romney?
I didn`t think it would ever come to Newt. Little did I know that he
would end up being for the American right, the only game in town.
Again, there`s the thought that the man in the White House could
possess, in addition to charisma, that other political intangible, I`m
talking about Barack Obama. He could just have good, old-fashioned luck.
Speaking of charisma, by the way, tomorrow, I`ll be in San Francisco
with my new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero." I`m going to the Jewish
community center in the morning and then the Commonwealth Club of Silicon
Valley in the evening.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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Guests: Maggie Haberman, John Heilemann, Carolyn McClanahan