'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, October 25th, 2012

October 25, 2012

Guests: Terry O`Neil, Steve McMahon, Lawrence Wilkerson, Tom Ricks, Caroline Kennedy

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Return of the clown car.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Warning, ladies and gentlemen,
especially ladies. We`ve got one Republican Senate candidate saying women
can`t be trusted to know what a rape is. Along comes another saying
something about God`s will and we have to incarcerate a woman who doesn`t
want to have a child that`s the result of a rape.

Well, yes, we`re back in the clown car with lots more guys wearing the
crazy hats and shaking their noisemakers. Thought you`d seen the last of
Rick Santorum and the rest of those characters from the primaries? Not so.
We`ve got Paul Ryan and his personhood amendment aboard, a Republican
platform giving 14th Amendment rights, including the right to property, to
the fertilized human egg. Who cares about the woman?

Well, the clown car rides on with nine days to go, and none of the
right wingmen are getting off. But the big question is how many women want
to stay aboard this clown car for the next four or eight years? And how
funny will it be when these characters are actually in charge?

Our guests are Alex Wagner, star of MSNBC`s "NOW" each day at noon
here Eastern time, and Terry O`Neill, president of NOW, the National
Organization for Women. Thank you both for joining us.

I want to go through some things here to set this up. President Obama
is keeping the pressure on, as you can see, in these last days of the
campaign, and linking Mitt Romney to Richard Mourdock. That`s the guy from
-- what`s that state, Wisconsin -- Indiana, including on Jay Leno last

Let`s listen to the president.


guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition.
Rape is rape. It is a crime.


OBAMA: The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly
why you don`t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions
about women`s health care decisions.



MATTHEWS: Well, that went over pretty well out there. And that`s a
nonpartisan crowd, generally out there, Leno`s show. Anyway, the president
went further, pointing out the next president -- the next president`s
influence over the Supreme Court is going to be enormous. We`ve got a lot
of older justices.

Let`s listen.


OBAMA: You`ve got a Supreme Court that -- you know, typically, a
president is going to have probably another couple of appointments during
the course of his term. And Roe versus Wade is probably hanging in the


MATTHEWS: Hanging in the balance. And today at a rally in Tampa,
Florida, the president alluded to Mourdock when he laid out the stakes for
women in this election. Let`s listen here.


OBAMA: By the way, while we`re at it, as we saw again this week, I
don`t think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be
making health care decisions for women.



MATTHEWS: Terry O`Neill, I want to go with you first. I`m going to
pass by my colleague because we have a person...


MATTHEWS: ... who`s an expert and a passionaria...

WAGNER: Please. Please.

MATTHEWS: ... on this topic.

WAGNER: Please. Please.

MATTHEWS: Terry O`Neill, thanks for coming on from the National
Organization for Women. It is "for Women"?


MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) point it`s not just of women it`s for women.

O`NEILL: That`s right. We have men...

MATTHEWS: Men are allowed to support...

O`NEILL: ... in leadership.

MATTHEWS: ... this cause. But let`s all talk about the cause.


MATTHEWS: You get a guy like Todd Akin come along and said that
rape`s not really rape because you can`t trust a woman. She`ll -- why
would a woman claim rape anyway? Why would you ever do this anyway?
Number two, because only unless you outlaw abortion except in case of rape
would it ever come up. Only in his crazy world would this even be an

But this other guy coming along and trying to make this weird notion
about the right to life under the law! It`s not a philosophical or a
religious discussion, he wants to make it a law that women can`t have an

O`NEILL: Right.

MATTHEWS: Can`t have one! Change the law if there`s a rape case.

O`NEILL: Absolutely. He wants no abortions, no exceptions -- no
exceptions in cases of incest, no exceptions in cases of rape or to protect
a woman`s health, wildly out of step with the vast majority of people in
this country.

Over 80 percent of people, when polled, say that -- first of all, a
majority believe that abortion should not be a crime at all. But those who
think there should be restrictions, over 80 percent say, no, the
restrictions should not be there in cases of incest or rape or to preserve
a woman`s health, let alone to preserve her life.

MATTHEWS: Can you imagine under this -- Alex, general question here -
- a world without Sharia law, where you take a woman who`s been raped, the
victim of what almost -- has been in the past a capital crime, certainly a
huge felony, 20 to 30 years in prison perhaps -- and then she`s told, Oh,
by the way, if you have an abortion, you choose to end the pregnancy maybe
the first couple days, you will go to jail, basically. Is this -- you put
it all together with the 14th Amendment stuff and the personhood stuff,
that`s the implication.

WAGNER: Well, it`s part of a broader trend. We`ve talked about the
shame and intimidation that is being directed towards women who are making
choices about their own bodies.

The thing that is most disturbing to me about this rape talk is that,
somehow, it`s sort of undermines the severity and the criminality of rape.

O`NEILL: Exactly.

WAGNER: And that is inexcusable.


WAGNER: I just think that it`s sort of being tossed around as, like,
a weird litmus test, and we`re not understanding that women who are raped
are victims, you know? And the idea that this is all being conflated into
a choice issue is missing...

MATTHEWS: Like the rape is like somebody jumped ahead of you in the
cab line.

WAGNER: Yes. Exactly. Like...


WAGNER: I think the president is right to be calling attention to
this. But I don`t think it`s right for him to say, And that`s why we
shouldn`t have men legislating on women`s issues. No, men shouldn`t be
saying this stuff, either. No one should be saying this. This shouldn`t
be acceptable to anybody on either side of the aisle.


O`NEILL: Yes, I think the important thing -- sexual assault victims
need wrap-around services. They need lots of wrap-around services. And
what they don`t need is the shaming and blaming and the undermining, the
attitude -- Paul Ryan clearly has this attitude. When he tries to change -
- introduce "forcible rape" as somehow different from rape, what he`s
really saying is that women will routinely lie about being sexually
assaulted just so they can go out and have that abortion.

MATTHEWS: Where is this world where that`s happened? There has never
been a situation where that`s the only exception.

O`NEILL: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: That`s what`s so weird about it. So in other words,
they`re talking about a more common case, where someone would just for
whatever reason blame (ph) rape, because they have some weird attitudes
(INAUDIBLE) because to blame rape, you`re charging -- in a police report...


MATTHEWS: You`ve got to go in, you`ve got get a physical, you have to
go through all the -- the rape kits, you`ve got to charge somebody with a
felony in a lineup, perhaps, you`ve got to take him to court, you got to
follow the whole prosecution for maybe a couple of years. Why would
anybody ever do that?

O`NEILL: Right. Not willingly, and in fact, the vast majority of

MATTHEWS: That didn`t happen!

O`NEILL: ... to this day are not...

MATTHEWS: You`d only do it as a civic duty for justice.

O`NEILL: Exactly. And the vast majority of rapes are not prosecuted.
Thirty-two thousand...

MATTHEWS: Because women choose not to do all that, probably, in many

O`NEILL: Because the system re-traumatizes women...

WAGNER: Exactly!

O`NEILL: ... in far too many cases. Exactly. And 32,000 pregnancies
per year result from rape. Those are the pregnancies where the woman most
needs to have absolute control over what happens to that pregnancy.


O`NEILL: There are women who voluntarily continue their...


MATTHEWS: Maybe this is good, in a weird way, because it`s going to
remind everybody what the president said on Jay Leno there. There is an
election coming up. It`s not just about who performed well in the first
debate or the third debate. It`s about who`s going to fill the Supreme
Court in the next four or eight years.

Anyway, the Obama campaign has a new Web video out that extends the
Romney/Mourdock link to Paul Ryan -- that`s the running mate, of course --
and points out Ryan`s position before he joined the ticket lines up with
Mourdock`s. Look at this research.


in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended
to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to rape, should it be legal for a
woman to be able to get an abortion if she`s...

of my pro-life record. And I`ve always adopted the idea, the position that
the method of conception doesn`t change the definition of life.


MATTHEWS: And the liberal group Moveon.org will not let the Mourdock
connection be forgotten at all. Lookit, they`ve got campaign rallies today
at a Paul Ryan rally -- look at that sign over there. You can`t see it
from here, but there above is a banner that -- I love these airplane signs
-- "Romney`s GOP wrong on rape and women."

Terry, this -- this whole -- I don`t know where to start except I
don`t like comparing anything to Sharia, but there`s something about this
theocratic notion that we`re going to apply all our philosophical beliefs,
our metaphysics, our religious training and turn it into law and turn it
into criminalization. And it`s not quite like stoning, but it has that
same sort of impulse, which is, We`re going to punish women.

O`NEILL: Right. I don`t think you`re wrong. I think that it`s kind
of the creeping Talibanization of American policy. It is deeply, deeply
dangerous for women. And I have to tell you the truth. I think Mitt
Romney is in the thick of this very fringe but very dangerous line of

Look, when he was in Massachusetts, a woman in his own church -- he
tried to stop her from having an abortion. Her pregnancy was threatening
her health. And then she developed blood clots that were threatening her
life. He couldn`t talk her into stopping the abortion. She had permission
from the Mormon hierarchy to terminate this life-threatening pregnancy.

He went to her parents to try to pressure the parents into pressuring
her to continue the pregnancy. And what he said to this woman -- and this
is key, cameras are not rolling -- and what Mitt Romney says to this woman,
Why should you get off easy? Why should you get off easy? Other women
don`t get off so easy.

He was talking about it was getting off easy to terminate the
pregnancy. I think that Mitt Romney absolutely does not want any
exceptions to criminalization of all abortion.

MATTHEWS: What`s this, "The Stepford Wives?" I mean, what`s going on

WAGNER: It`s the Stone Age. Yes. Chris, it`s the Stone Ages. I
mean, it`s not even -- it`s not clown car. Clown cars imply automated
vehicles. This is like the Flintstones. People are -- I mean, this is...

O`NEILL: Right.

WAGNER: I will -- I will say two things about this. One, I think
it`s high time we talk about these issues as far as what they are. The
president has been trying to sort of conflate a message of pocketbook and
economic issues and social issues.

These -- I think women vote on this. I think women vote on the notion
that you`re going to take -- you`re going to turn the clock back...

O`NEILL: Right.

WAGNER: ... not 10 years, not 20 years, 50 pierce, 100 years on
women`s rights. I think women think about the Supreme Court and the
vacancies that are coming on the bench. They will vote on that. And I`m
not just talking about independents...

MATTHEWS: No, but they don`t get to vote...

WAGNER: I think...

MATTHEWS: They have to vote this time. You don`t get to vote on the

WAGNER: No, no, no.


MATTHEWS: How can he put these crazy people on the court? How can
these state legislatures require photo voto? Well, it happens when you
lose elections. That`s what happens.


O`NEILL: That`s exactly right.

WAGNER: But I -- but I think that you can run on this message. You
can air -- you can show America where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have stood
on these issues for years, and I think you can get waitress moms on this.
You can get soccer moms. You can get all kinds of moms. You can get
unmarried women.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the women running for office now because I
have a lot of favorites in the group. I`m not going to name them all
because I can`t say exactly who I`m for. But it`s clear I like Claire

O`NEILL: Oh...

MATTHEWS: She`s up against that guy, Todd Akin out there.

O`NEILL: She needs to defeat Todd Akin. There`s no question about
it. Joe Donnelly needs to defeat...

MATTHEWS: Mourdock.

O`NEILL: ... Mourdock. Absolutely. And...

MATTHEWS: Notre Dame guy, by the way.

O`NEILL: Oh, Donnelly?

MATTHEWS: Means something to me.

O`NEILL: Well, there you go! Yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s all right. No, but you have some interesting -- you
got Elizabeth Warren looks she`s actually pulling ahead up in Massachusetts

O`NEILL: And good for her. We`re also -- by the way, we`ve endorsed
Chris Murphy up in Connecticut, and...

MATTHEWS: Let`s watch -- there`s the president, by the way, voting
tonight. There he is. I like the way we do this in this country. The
guys vote, the women vote at the top. And Michelle voted by absentee a
while ago. But you know what? It`s democracy. I keep telling -- we can
all do this. We all should do this, you know, vote. And he`s probably
voting -- where`s he voting today, do you think, Chicago?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. The early voting numbers have been very
good for the president.


MATTHEWS: Actually, I just got my application in to get the voting


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this issue. You think -- what`s it called
-- I -- see, I believe as a male -- and I`ve studied this -- women have a
lot of issues they care about, not just reproductive rights, but health

You people outlive men, you people.


MATTHEWS: You go to any senior retirement home, there`s one or two
guys there.

WAGNER: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Very funny, by the way, and everybody likes them, but
there`s only one or two of them. There`s a lot of women there. Guys say,
With any luck, I won`t need Social Security. Your luck probably will run
out. Women live much longer than men. They need Medicare. They need
Social Security. And at your age and when you get older, you`ll be worried
about your parents because women tend to be more attentive to the parents`
situation when they get older (INAUDIBLE)

O`NEILL: The caretaker.

MATTHEWS: And of course, children.


MATTHEWS: Education.

MATTHEWS: So there`s education. There`s health care. There`s child
development. There`s seniors` care. All that array of issues that you
could call, if you want, women`s issues.

O`NEILL: Oh, and very much at risk with a Romney-Ryan presidency,
very much. Look, the Romney-Ryan budget -- the big picture of it is that
it transfers wealth from middle income and lower income families up to the
0.01 percent of income earners.


O`NEILL: That`s the millionaires and billionaires. And by the way,
women are not over-represented amongst billionaires, right?


O`NEILL: Women are very much over -- women wage earners are way over-
represented in the lower income and...

MATTHEWS: And minimum wage people included. You have the
chambermaids and all the jobs you bump into and don`t pay much at all.

O`NEILL: Well...


MATTHEWS: ... health care.

O`NEILL: They don`t have health care. They don`t have 401(k)s. They
don`t have pensions. And by the time a woman -- by the way, two thirds of
minimum wage workers in the United States are women. And they don`t -- so
they`re paying out of pocket as they go along for their health care and
their kids` health care. They don`t have enough money to set aside for
their retirement. They are very deeply reliant on Social Security and
certainly Medicare. They don`t have $6,000 a year extra that it will cost
if Romney and Ryan get their hands on Medicare.

And by the way, if Romney and Ryan get their hands on Medicaid -- half
of Medicaid dollars go to support nursing homes in this country.


O`NEILL: Thousands of nursing homes...

MATTHEWS: And a lot of people impoverish themselves so they`re -- to
get their parents into these homes, by the way.

O`NEILL: Actually...

MATTHEWS: Because there`s no long-term care under Medicare. It`s
only under Medicaid.

O`NEILL: It`s only under Medicaid.

MATTHEWS: Everybody knows this, by the way. Everybody knows it.
Thank you. Why are you smiling? Anyway -- you all right?

WAGNER: I`m just -- Mitt Romney doesn`t know where he stands on the
Lilly Ledbetter act, on fair pay.


MATTHEWS: He says, I`ll get back to you on that one.


MATTHEWS: ... back to us about November 10th. Anyway, Alex Wagner,
thank you for laughing at just the right time. And Terry O`Neill, thank

Coming up: The surge, what surge? We said it yesterday here on
HARDBALL and we`ll say it again. Yes, Romney gained after that first
debate, but the idea of a relentless Romney surge isn`t supported by the
numbers. We`ve got the numbers to prove it.

And here comes the cavalry, by the way. Bubba is riding in to save
the day. Well, he`s got -- oh, he`s already got Colin Powell today,
endorsing him this morning on CBS. Wow. He`s getting some help. He
doesn`t like the neocons, by the way. Colin Powell isn`t just doing this
out of liking Obama. He`s afraid of the guys that`ll come in with Mitt
Romney, the kind of guys that were on that Bush policy team, you know, guys
like Dick Cheney.

And then Tina Fey takes on the Richard Mourdock/Todd Akin wing of the
Republican Party. Let`s watch.


TINA FEY, ACTRESS: If I have to listen to one more gray-faced man
with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I`m going to lose my mind!


MATTHEWS: More where that comes from in the "Sideshow."

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with something that happened 50 years ago and
what could happen five months from now -- trouble.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling from some key battleground
states. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

We start in Virginia, where a University of Virginia/George Mason poll
has Mitt Romney up by 1, 46-45. But a PPP poll in Virginia commissioned by
the Democratic-leaning group Health Care for America now has Obama up by 5,
51-46. That one keeps moving.

Next, Wisconsin. A new Mason-Dixon poll has President Obama holding a
2-point lead in Wisconsin, 48-46. Meanwhile, the PPP poll has the
president up 6 in Wisconsin, 51-45. That`s 6 points. In Ohio (ph), PPP
has the president up by 2, 49-47. And -- that was Iowa.

And in Nevada, a new PPP poll shows President Obama up 4 over Mitt
Romney, 51-47. And a lot has been written today about Harry Reid`s vaunted
get-out-the-vote operation out in that state of Nevada.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Don`t take that bet on Romney`s
surge to the bank just yet. It seems President Obama has stopped the
governor`s momentum in the numbers and the two candidates have settled into
a tie in national polls, with the president tied or slightly ahead in most
swing states.

Not only are most polls beginning to look a bit better for Mr. Obama,
he`s got the support of two of America`s most beloved politicians. Of
course, Bill Clinton will campaign with the president starting Monday in
three key states -- look at the states -- Virginia, Ohio and Florida.

And this morning on CBS, President -- former -- well, everybody
thought he`d be president -- Republican former secretary of state Colin
Powell announced he`s sticking with Obama.


COLIN POWELL, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I voted for him in 2008,
and I plan to stick with him in 2012 and I`ll be voting for he and for Vice
President Joe Biden next month.

I think this is an exciting race between two very, very capable men.
And I signed on for a long patrol with President Obama, and I don`t think
this is the time to make such a sudden change. And not only am I not
comfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for his economic plan, I
have concerns about his views on foreign policy.


MATTHEWS: So who would you rather have on your side, my friend
Michael, Bill Clinton and General Colin Powell, one of our few real heroes
in the world right now...


MATTHEWS: ... or Donald Trump and John Sununu?


STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You want to pass on that one?

MATTHEWS: Let`s see. John Sununu wants to be ambassador to the
Vatican in the worst way. I think that`s what he`s up to.

But, you know, Trump and Sununu as your most famous surrogates...

STEELE: They`re good surrogates, and the president needs them,
because, as this campaign has already shown itself, it`s going to be
close,it`s going to be tight. And so, yes, I guess he`s...


MATTHEWS: You would take those two. You would take those two guys.


MCMAHON: That was good, wasn`t it?

MATTHEWS: You take those two guys.

STEELE: I will take those two guys. No, I will take those two.


MCMAHON: Did you see how he -- did you see how he slipped right out
of your grasp there? Of course.


MATTHEWS: I keep waiting for him to say...


MATTHEWS: I`m not going that far. But he will go that far. He goes
as far as Trump.

Your thought.

MCMAHON: It says something about the candidates and the campaigns
that the president has these two great Americans out with him and Mitt


STEELE: He needs them. He needs them because he`s losing.

MCMAHON: I`m waiting to see if Mitt Romney...


MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go with the numbers. That was a -- you got that
shot in there.


MATTHEWS: I`m open to any possibility when it comes to picking
elections. I would rather pick them right -- well, I would still like my
guys to win. But I do like to pick them right.

STEELE: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: The poll takers, by the way, today have started to change
their tune.

Today, Nate Silver, the man we all look up to around here, wrote a
piece headlined: "In Polls, Romney`s Momentum Seems to Have Stopped." He`s
got the odds of President Obama`s reelection at 71 percent, by the way,
Nate Silver.

And, on The Huffington Post, their pollster page has a story called
"Presidential Polls Counter Romney`s Surge Myth."

If you look at the pollster trend, by the way, of all the lines here,
it shows the presidential race since August, by the way, you can see the
president really started gaining ground in September -- that was after the
conventions -- only to drop sharply this month after Mitt Romney surged
after that first debate.

Now they`re back at being neck and neck. Now, the question is --
let`s ask an analytical answer here. How long is the lifespan of a
successful or unsuccessful debate?

MCMAHON: A bump is usually about 10 days.

MATTHEWS: And then it fades. It goes back to where they started.

MCMAHON: This race basically is back where it started a year ago or
two years ago.

MATTHEWS: No, but I`m talking about how it -- is it back to where it
was with Obama ahead?

MCMAHON: I think it is, yes.

STEELE: I think it`s back where the two of them are more even than
one being ahead of the other.

I see an arc between that first debate and the last debate, in that
Obama really hurt himself in that first debate. And it`s still -- there`s
still residual effects from that. And I think you`re seeing that in the

I agree with you, Chris, and I agree with Nate that the tide has
slowed a little bit for Romney at this point. That energy, that momentum
has slowed, and it goes to what Chuck Todd said a few days ago, whether or
not the map and the momentum, Obama`s map, Romney`s momentum come to a

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at the president. You can read it
on faces sometime. Let`s take a look at the president on "Leno" last
night. Apparently, it was a very good hit last night on "Leno."


MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look. Here he is. The president made a
humorous appeal to Ohio voters, pretty direct. Talk about politics and
entertainment mixing. Let`s watch.


Michelle gave out fruit.


LENO: Did the White House get egged at all?


OBAMA: No, no.

It is true, yes, Michelle takes this healthy eating seriously, but it
is an election year, so candy for everybody.




OBAMA: And -- and if anybody comes from Ohio to the White House, they
will get a Hershey Bar about this big.

LENO: Wow.


OBAMA: It will like -- it will be huge.


MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know how to read people generally. I`m
not a mind reader, but he does seem like he`s got it, in a sense, not got
it, but he`s not sitting around sweating this thing.

MCMAHON: You can see why he`s happy, because there was a new Ohio
poll today that has the president up five. There`s a poll out from
Colorado, a local television station there has the president up two in

MATTHEWS: Yes. But I saw another one that puts them even in

MCMAHON: Well, there`s going to be a Purple poll that comes out
tomorrow of the 12 purple states, including Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio,
and the president is going to be I think ahead in all of those
battlegrounds and in the 12 purple states.

That`s a shift, by the way, from where Gallup had it just a few days
ago, where they had Mitt Romney ahead by two in the purple states.

STEELE: Right.

MCMAHON: So this thing has settled and it`s coming back Obama`s ways.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s my belief. Let`s try something else. Whenever
I used to be good, in the old says, before -- I wasn`t doing television six
days a week and I was really thinking hard about the numbers.

Usually, you can pick an election by Thursday before.

STEELE: Right.

MCMAHON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: All you had to do was, Thursday before, when "The
Washington Post" just asked for your picks -- you have done them.


MATTHEWS: And then you simply had to project which way it was going
that day. Is that still true? A week from now, will we know who is going
to win?


MCMAHON: No. I don`t think we will.

MATTHEWS: You think it`s going to go down to the last day or two?

MCMAHON: I mean, here is why. There`s so much -- there`s been so
much money invested in field this year, much more so than ever before,
because back in the day, it used to be you had $75 million and that`s all
you could do. These campaigns now have a billion dollars each to put
wherever they want. They`re not going to quit anywhere.

MATTHEWS: How many points can you shift on a ground operation?

MCMAHON: I think you can shift two.

STEELE: I agree with that, but I think, Chris, to your point, doing
it the old-school way, I really think by that week -- by that weekend, that
Thursday/Friday, you`re going to have a really good sense of how this thing
is going to play out on Tuesday, because I think the voters have largely

The early voting returns are coming in. There are all these variables
now. You are going to be able to divine from that, I think.


MCMAHON: We will. We will.


MATTHEWS: We`re waiting for the black swan, the surprising event of
next week. I just think there will be one. And it won`t just be the


MATTHEWS: Something is going to happen.

STEELE: But I will say this. You know, the president`s cool on TV.
His people in Chicago, they`re still a bit nervous. They see where these
numbers could potentially still go.

MATTHEWS: This could be a late night Tuesday night next week...


STEELE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon.

Thank, Michael Steele.

By the way, we decided the president is back even again.

Up next: President Obama brushes off Donald Trump`s latest attempt to
be relevant on this Earth, I should say.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



LENO: What`s this thing with Trump and you? I don`t -- he`s -- it`s
like me and Letterman. What does he got against you here?


LENO: I don`t get it.


OBAMA: You know, this all dates back to when we were growing up
together in Kenya.

LENO: Yes.



OBAMA: We had constant run-ins on the soccer field.

LENO: Yes. Yes.


OBAMA: And, you know, he wasn`t very good and resented it.


LENO: Yes. Yes.



MATTHEWS: Great line.

Anyway, back to HARDBALL. That was more of President Obama on "The
Tonight Show" yesterday weighing in on Donald Trump`s latest attempt at
political relevance.

Moving on, actress Tina Fey spoke at an event for reproductive rights
last night. She says her intelligence is at risk with all these Todd Akins
and the Republican Party.


TINA FEY, ACTRESS: If I have to listen to one more gray-faced man
with a $2 haircut explain to me what rape is, I`m going to lose my mind.



FEY: I watch these guys and I`m like, what is happening? Am I a
secretary on "Mad Men"?


FEY: What`s happening? Todd Akin claims that women can`t really get
pregnant from a legitimate rape because the body secretes hormones -- no, I
can`t even finish this sentence without getting dumber.



MATTHEWS: Anyway, next, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel`s latest
dodge. It was tough to miss the news of Richard Mourdock`s comments about
rape in a debate on Tuesday night. Republicans everywhere were being asked
for their reaction. They`re in a tough spot, of course.

One strategy? Act oblivious. Josh Mandel put that one to use.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that, I think, even when life begins in
the horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended.

Is that something that you would denounce or...

see his comments and see -- is there a video of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in a debate last night.

MANDEL: Yes. I think I would want to see the video or see the debate
before commenting on that.


MATTHEWS: God, that guy looks 10 years old.

Anyway, well, Mandel -- Mandel seems to have finally seen the video
and is just fine with it. Today, he came out in support of Mourdock,
calling him a class act. Well, it turns out Mandel is an old hand at
failing to just answer the question. Check out his rising frustration last
month as a local newspaper board asked whether Mandel would be -- would
have supported the auto bailout.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the federal government right in stepping in to
bail out Chrysler and GM?

MANDEL: I think it probably depends on who you ask.

QUESTION: I`m asking you, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.


I am angry and feel terrible that politicians like Sherrod Brown and
others supported a process that stripped hardworking retirees in the
Youngstown area of their pensions.


QUESTION: That hasn`t answered the question, first of all. But let`s
get back to the question.

MANDEL: I personally would have had a very real problem with
stripping these Delphi...


MANDEL: Please, sir, don`t put words in my mouth. The premise of
your question...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody has got to put words in your mouth,
because all you do is talk in circles.


MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. It takes talking in circles to an even wider

Anyway, up next -- how could anybody vote for that guy?

Anyway, coming up: Colin Powell endorsed President Obama today and
warned about the neocon crowd that surrounds Mitt Romney. Do we really
want to go back to the same people that took us to war in Iraq? That`s a
good question. And you`re watching -- well, you`re going to get the answer
here in a minute here on HARDBALL, the place for politics.


Mathisen with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

The Dow up 26, the S&P and Nasdaq both posting four-point gains.

After the closing bell, Apple reported earnings that missed estimates,
but revenue was slightly better than people had forecast.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com shares are falling after hours. The company
posting a wider-than-expected loss and revenue that fell short of

As for the economy, filings for jobless benefits fell 23,000 last
week, which was a little bit less than expected.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

When former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Obama
this morning, he cited Mitt Romney`s foreign policy as a major concern.
This Monday, we saw Romney present himself as a moderate, emphasizing peace
and diplomacy.

For the past year-and-a-half, however, Romney has courted the far
right and the neocons, neoconservatives of his party, with his hawkish

Well, Secretary Powell pointed out today the obvious. It`s not clear
who exactly we would get if Romney was elected, the moderate or the neocon.
Powell also praised President Obama`s handling of foreign policy over the
last four years. Let`s listen.


POWELL: I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get
us out of a second war, and didn`t get us into any new wars.

And, finally, I think that the actions he has taken with respect to
protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. And, so, I think
we ought to keep on the track that we are on.


MATTHEWS: Well, later today, the president acknowledged the
endorsement by Powell at a rally in Richmond. Let`s watch.


OBAMA: I was proud and humbled to learn that we have Colin Powell`s
support in this campaign.


OBAMA: I`m grateful to him for his lifetime of service to his
country, both as a soldier and as a diplomat. And every brave American who
wears this uniform of this country should know that as long as I`m your
commander in chief we will sustain the strongest military the world has
ever known.



MATTHEWS: Secretary Powell remains one of the most respected names in
politics, of course, across party lines.

Will his endorsement matter?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was Secretary Powell`s chief of staff and
Tom Ricks is a contributing editor at "Foreign Policy" magazine and the
author of the new book "The Generals."

Let me go with Lawrence Wilkerson.

Colonel, thank you for joining us.

What do you make of our old boss` decision to get into this thing
right when it matters, right with about 12 days to go?

STAFF: Colin Powell has always had an exquisite sense of timing, Chris.

And I won`t pretend to speak for him, but I thought he was bold, I
thought he was forthright, I thought he summed it up well. The president
inherited a catastrophic situation, banks failing, automobile industry
collapsing, housing market tubing, and he steadied the ship. He stabilized
the ship. He needs another year -- another term, rather, to do more.

There`s a lot to be done yet. Unemployment is still too high, but he
needs a second term to improve on the improvements he`s already -- already

MATTHEWS: The great thing about fighting men historically is they do
know the importance of peace. You find very few hawks among people who
have been soldiers, whether it`s Yitzhak Rabin, or whoever it is, or Anwar
Sadat, the great George Washington.

They have been through it. They have proven their manhood, and they
got nothing to prove. They just want to be wise. I think Powell is like

What do you think he was saying today about the neocons and they
danger they pose under a Romney administration?

TOM RICKS, AUTHOR, "THE GENERALS": I think he was saying...


MATTHEWS: I`m talking to Tom Ricks now.

Go ahead.


RICKS: I think he was saying, if you want to know where Romney is
going to be going with foreign policy, look to the people around him.

And what you see is a lot of people who are the neoconservatives who
did advise going into Iraq. So he`s saying effectively if you like the war
in Iraq, Romney is your guy.

MATTHEWS: It just seems often -- I mean, without being in any way
comical about it, because it`s going to laugh about -- people die in wars,
and you ruin things forever with these wars.

There`s always a war that the neocons are looking forward to. They`re
always pushing a war. They never like settle down and say, well, let`s
take time out for maybe a decade without a war. And now it`s Iran. And we
all know that neither party can go to war, but the way they go to war, what
conditions they set, and how they deal with the consequences are really
critical to me.

And it seems to me the president is more to be trusted for
understanding the consequences, Tom Ricks.

RICKS: Powell was kind of an Eisenhower Republican.


RICKS: Well, guess what? So is Barack Obama.

Eisenhower kept us out of Vietnam. He explicitly said, I don`t want
to fight wars on the periphery...


MATTHEWS: He kept us out of Suez, too.

RICKS: And he was very careful about it. He believed in indirect
action. Libya was an Eisenhower-type operation. Don`t -- only do the

MATTHEWS: The hidden hand.


Only do the things that the United States can -- is uniquely available
to provide. So, provide things like intelligence that other countries
can`t, but don`t put boots on the ground. Don`t put pilots in danger.

MATTHEWS: Well, Colin Powell said he was -- he has concerns about
some of Romney`s views on foreign policy.

Let`s listen to the general.


POWELL: One day, he had a strong view about staying in Afghanistan,
but then on Monday night, he agrees to withdrawal. Same thing on Iraq.
And almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney
agreed with the president with some nuances. But this is quite a different
set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign.

And my concern, which I have expressed previous in a public way is
that sometimes I don`t sense that he has thought through the issues as
thoroughly as he should have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about the people that are
advising Governor Romney?

POWELL: I think there`s some very, very strong neoconservative views
that are presented by the governor that I have some trouble with.


MATTHEWS: Colonel Wilkerson, let`s talk about that. Secretary
Powell, when he looks back at the Iraq war and his role in justifying it
before the United Nations, what do you think he`s thinking right now?

and I have seen these people before, the John Boltons, the Doug Feiths,
even the Donald Rumsfelds and Dick Cheneys. And we`ve seen them with an
inexperienced president and we have seen what they can do, lead the nation
to war -- a war that was unnecessary as Richard Haass characterized it.

I`m very worried as I think Powell was saying and I`ll say it even
more candidly and frankly than he did. I`m very worried about these people
with the new, that`s what it is, inexperienced, fresh president, and their
experience at bureaucratic in play and so forth and leading this president
down to war most likely with Iran.

And that`s why I`m going to vote -- I`m a Republican just like
Powell, and I was looking for a good, solid Republican candidate so I could
vote for him. I will not vote for Romney. I`m voting for Obama.

MATTHEWS: I watched Romney the other night in that debate, the third
one on foreign policy, and I heard strange words coming out of his mouth.
Now, he`s a business guy, obviously he`s a successful businessman, made a
quarter billion dollars. He doesn`t have any interest in the world, never
shown any interest in the world beyond that.

My question, where did he get that thing about how we`re going to
charged Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, with genocide for the words
he`s spoken, not what he`s done, but the words he`s spoken about Israel,
strategy towards Israel. That would seem to be a deal breaker. You start
charging with guy with genocide, you`re not going to cut a deal with the

Do they want war with Iran? Just period, do they want war are Iran
no matter what Iran does henceforth, Colonel, the neocons?

WILKERSON: I think the question you ask has to be answered yes.
There are gradations between the different neocons. But I think ultimately
they want to paint the president, whoever it is, into a corner to say all
military -- all options are on the table, including the military option,
and then milk out all the other options, no diplomacy, no solution, and
then have to use the military.

I can see it, it`s the same sheet of music, the same sheet of music.

MATTHEWS: I know. They didn`t tell Saddam he had a way out. That`s
for sure.

Anyway, Tom Ricks, thank you for joining us.


MATTHEWS: The name of your book is --

RICKS: "The Generals."

MATTHEWS: "The Generals," thank you. Good luck with that one.

Up next, Caroline Kennedy is coming here, of course, the daughter of
the late President John F. Kennedy. She joins us next here on HARDBALL.
She`s hitting the campaign trail, by the way, for President Obama.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Remember that bayonets and horses line from Monday night`s


Romney maybe hasn`t spent enough time looking at how our military works.
You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we
did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.


MATTHEWS: So much better.

Anyway, the Romney campaign is using that in ads in Virginia,
Florida, and New Hampshire, doubling down on his claim that the Navy is at
its smallest level since 1917. The trouble is Romney is wrong. The Navy
actually hit it`s lowest number of ships under George W. And under
President Obama the fleet has actually grown.

And those fact checkers, by the way, the ones in the Romney camp, the
camp over there, says it`s going to ignore or give Romney`s claim a rating
of pants on fire. Not a good rating for a truth teller by Romney.

Anyway, we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Fifty years ago this month, in fact, right now, the nation was locked
50 years ago in the 13-day crisis known as the Cuban missile crisis. It
involved the possible nuclear war between us and the Soviet Union and one
guy got us out of it, John F. Kennedy.

His secret Oval Office recordings of that detailing the pivotal
moments are now available in the book "Listening in the Secret White House
Recordings of John F. Kennedy." His daughter, Caroline, wrote the
introduction for the book.

Quote, "I was always told my father installed secret Oval Office
recording devices after the Bay of Pig disaster so he could have an
accurate account of what said what in case of any later disputes to the
exact nature of the conversations. He intended to draw upon this material
in his own memoirs."

With me now is President John F. Kennedy`s daughter Caroline.

Thank you.


MATTHEWS: We`re out here explaining this book and its importance.
Why do you think it`s important -- it`s just a wide open question -- 50
years later that we know what happened?

KENNEDY: I think we can learn so much from the past. You know,
studying this crisis is really an exercise in studying leadership and

And right now, we`re at really close to another presidential election
and I think when you get inside a crisis like this and you understand the
kind of complexity of these issues, first of all, it makes the world we`re
living in right now more interesting. But also, I think, it really, you
know, can help people as they approach, you know, smaller crises obviously,
but it`s just fascinating because you really see how complicated these
questions are and how dangerous that it can be.

MATTHEWS: I think what came through in working on a book on this
subject, I thought that President Kennedy`s great advantage was the
coolness, to slow down and think through the consequences. Anybody can go


MATTHEWS: Anybody can say, we`ll show though reds.


MATTHEWS: But if we had done that --

KENNEDY: Right. I mean, I know -- I think he said later that if he
had only had two days, he would have made the wrong decision. So it just
shows how important it is to work through these decisions and I think he
deserves a lot of credit for always having people around him who presented
a range of options and he had the confidence to, you know, to disagree with
generals, to disagree with people.

MATTHEWS: How about Curtis LeMay, the chief advisor, the Dr.
Strangelove? Who`s saying bombs away?

KENNEDY: Bombs away, absolutely. And he was just --


MATTHEWS: Let`s watch. Here`s a guy that you or I or anybody would
say was a smart guy to listen to and he was wrong. Here he is checking in
on the phone with President Eisenhower, his predecessor, of course, won
World War II in Europe, Western Europe, about what he should do with Nikita
Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, in terms of what would happen if we did
invade Cuba, what would be the reaction by the Soviet leader.

And here`s Ike`s conversation about it. Fascinating here, let`s


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: General, what about if the
Soviet Union -- Khrushchev -- announces tomorrow, which I think he will,
that if we attack Cuba, that it`s going to be nuclear war? And what`s your
judgment as to the chances that they`ll fire these things off if we invade


KENNEDY: You don`t think they will?


KENNEDY: In other words, you would take that risk if the situation
seemed desirable?

EISENHOWER: Well, as a matter of a fact, though, what can you do?


EISENHOWER: If this thing is such a serious thing, here on our
plank, that we`re going to be uneasy and we know what thing is happening
now. All right, you`ve got to use something.


EISENHOWER: Something may make these people shoot them off. I just
don`t believe this will.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s the general, the great general who won World
War II in Europe. He said, don`t worry about the Soviets, if we bomb their
missile sites, kill a bunch of Russians and Cubans, blow up all their
material, don`t worry, they won`t do anything.

That`s Ike. He`s a little out of date.

As I wrote in "New Republic" this month, we later learned that
Khrushchev intended to strike New York if the United States invade in Cuba.
Khrushchev wrote in his own memoirs, quote, "I knew the United States could
knock out some of our installations but not all of them. If a quarter or
even a tenth of our missiles survived, even if only one or two big ones
were left, we could still hit New York, and there wouldn`t be much of New
York left." That`s Khrushchev`s own words.

So, President Kennedy`s thinking what would he do -- what would I do
if I were him and thinking it through that he had his own hawks around him.


MATTHEWS: We need to help him get away from them.

KENNEDY: That`s what people give so much credit to the resolution of
this crisis, is that he really thought about it all the time from both
sides and how can Khrushchev save face and what can I offer him that will
make this deal attractive to him. So, I think that`s something that I will
always keep in mind.

But these crisis are complicated, which now there are even more
actors than any crisis we face.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about now. What are you going to do in the
next couple of weeks?

KENNEDY: I`m going to be campaigning for President Obama?

MATTHEWS: Where are you going?

KENNEDY: I`m going to Virginia, New Hampshire, and who knows where

MATTHEWS: What`s your pitch?

KENNEDY: I think we`re on the right -- he`s done a great job. He`s
a man of courage, conviction, and judgment. And if you`re talking about
judgment and how important it is to have a cool head in the crisis, that
somebody who you know with their gut values are, and how they are going to
make decisions and who has done a good job, a great job in keeping us out
of war and building our economy back up, and certainly it`s on the side of
women and women`s health. And he absolutely is the right --

MATTHEWS: So you`re with him on all these points.

KENNEDY: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: You know, just across the street is American University.


MATTHEWS: Where your dad gave -- President Kennedy gave the great
peace speech which was so successful, it brought the Soviets to the table
and we have to eliminate nuclear arms agreement, the first agreement with
the Soviets since the beginning of the Cold War.

KENNEDY: Right. Well --


MATTHEWS: Let`s look at that speech because I think it`s the theme
that you are carrying on here. Here is President Kennedy speaking on
peace. I think it`s his best speech, the American University commencement
address, across the street here. Let`s watch.


JOHN F. KENNEDY: Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit
this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our
children`s futures. And we are all mortal.


MATTHEWS: Well, there it is. Khrushchev put that -- he put that in
his best chip, played that all over the Soviet Union, everybody heard it
and then they had the treaty afterwards. It worked.


MATTHEWS: That was a good thing that came out of the Cuban missile

KENNEDY: Absolutely. I think it`s to see that we have more in
common that divides us and that`s something that we don`t hear enough of.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about Romney? Can you figure him out?

KENNEDY: No, I think about President Obama.


MATTHEWS: Is he the moderate he pretended to be two months ago, or
is he the hawk that he has all of these people around and got us into Iraq?

KENNEDY: You know, I think that we need to stick with somebody who
has told us where he stands and that`s President Obama. And I think most
people really admire him and understand where he`s coming from and I think
he`s put now forth the plan and so, I think there`s really not --

MATTHEWS: You don`t like this hardball thing, do you?

KENNEDY: No. Don`t you hear that? We all cherish our children`s
future, we`re all mortal and we`re trying to look for the good in everyone,
but I see more good in President Obama.

MATTHEWS: Well-said. Anyway, thank you. That`s not how I do

But the book is called "Listening In." Thank you, Caroline Kennedy,
for coming on HARDBALL.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Let`s talk about what
happened 50 years ago and what could happen five months from now.

Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons 90 miles
from Florida. They were offensive weapons, some of them aimed at New York
as Nikita Khrushchev made clear later, he fully intend to launch them if
the United States tried to knock them out. It was frightening time.

The only good news, the world saving news is that we had leaders
determined not to let the frightening situation in Cuba escalated into a
nuclear world war.

Jack Kennedy knew how things worked in the world. He knew from his
reading of history that one step leads to another, one country takes one
step it thinks it must take, the other country takes the next step and
suddenly they are at war.

Here`s something else from reading history: countries that have
weapon almost always end up using them. After all, we the good guys had
used atomic weapons to end the World War II in the Pacific.

So, Kennedy decided that he would deal, not just with those missiles
in Cuba but what would happen if we acted to remove them, what would the
Russians do, what would we do then and what would we be trapped to doing
then. Because he thought it out, because he knew his history, because he
was not an ideologue, Jack Kennedy got us through.

When you vote for president this time, think about which of the
candidate you trust that consider the consequences of what he does, because
it is the consequences that we have to live through or not live through.
One thing for sure, if Romney wins, he brings those crowds around W., the
Cheney crowd, the John Boltons, whole hawkish crew with him right back in
with him.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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