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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

November 21, 2012

Guests: Erin McPike, James Peterson, James Moore, Jon Meacham

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The Republican agony continues.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with this. Being right means never having to say
you`re sorry. The hard right isn`t about to say they need to get more
moderate. Their sticking to their attitude on taxes, immigration, the
works. So the R party`s in turmoil. The people who hate to lose are
blaming the right. The people who hate the center almost, sometimes just
as much as the left, are saying they`re right and they`re going to not
budge an inch.

Well, this looks like a fight with legs, and not a bad spectator
sport, I must say, for progressives. As Napoleon once said, never
interrupt your enemy when he`s making a mistake.

Robert Traynham is a former spokesman for Senator Rick Santorum and
Erin McPike`s a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. This should be
an interesting match-up, you two.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this situation. I want to show you a tape
here from Dan Senor. This morning, Dan Senor was on "MORNING JOE." He`s a
foreign adviser to Mitt Romney. He took on some of the Republican critics
who`ve been piling on the former nominee. Let`s listen to Dan Senior.


people, you could feel the energy, 100 top-tier Romney surrogates at the
event. I`m back stage with some of them, I won`t mention their names, but
talking about Romney like he`s Reagan. You know, the debate performances
were the best debate performance of any Republican nominee in presidential

This guy`s got -- he`s iconic. They were talking about him because
they believed he was going to win in four or five days. And in fact, some
of them were already talking to our transition to position themselves for a
Romney cabinet.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE": They`re the first to jump...

SENOR: I won`t say who they are. They know who they are! They were
on television. The body was -- I mean, it was unbelievable, five, six days
later, absolutely eviscerating him!


MATTHEWS: Well, there you go. It`s called being two-faced, Robert.
It has to do with -- you know, people who stand around at headquarters,
they show up, by the way, usually, election night, unless the guy loses, or
woman loses. They all get very excited about the guy near election night
because they want a job. They want something. They want to be loved by
the winner.

And then they treat the guy like one of those tickets at off-track
betting, on the floor, you know, you`re stomping around on, you know. So
what happened here? Is that the best case against -- the case being made
against the Republican Party, it`s a bunch of people that are just not
loyal? That`s what he`s saying.

Absolutely, Chris. Look, I`ve been through this time and time again, that
people are already measuring the drapes even before the first debate ends,
especially if the nominee does a very good job.

MATTHEWS: Now they`re measuring the crepe.

TRAYNHAM: Well, that`s true, too. Look, Mitt Romney, unfortunately,
never had any -- a loyal following, if you will, except for the folks up in
Boston. The conservatives never trusted him. They didn`t even trust him
even when he got the Republican nomination back in the spring of this year.

The point is simply is that these individuals are opportunists. Let`s
just call it what it is, both on the Republican side but also on the
Democratic side. They don`t care about loyalty. They don`t care about,
you know, making sure that the best guy wins. What they care about is a
paycheck. And it`s despicable, quite frankly.

MATTHEWS: Well, Erin, let`s take a look at this from both sides. It
looks to me like the hard right is saying, Stop pushing us. It`s not our
fault. This guy just wasn`t a great candidate.

The moderates and the pragmaticians, or the pragmatic people are
saying, Oh, no, it`s just -- you`re too far right, you`re too tough on
women, too tough on minorities, too tough on Latinos, young people.

Here, let`s take a look at this one guy. He`s on the hard right
pushing back. His name`s Chris Chocola. He`s president of the
conservative Club for Growth. He wrote today, quote, "If you`re a
Republican who yearns for the days of Arlen Specter and Charlie Christ,
then you might welcome a return to GOP insiders meddling in primaries. But
if you prefer the Republican Party of Toomey, Rubio and Cruz, you should be
very leery of the folks in Washington deciding which Republicans are the
most electable."

So here you have this guy, Erin, pushing back and saying the people at
the grass roots, the Tea Party people, they should be picking the
candidates. Don`t try to get them away from picking the people, like they
did Mourdock and they picked Akin and some of the real crazies.

ERIN MCPIKE, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, look, that`s true. I mean, a
lot of the Republicans who lost, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Which part`s true?

MCPIKE: ... are retreads. Well...

MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. Go ahead. Go ahead.

MCPIKE: George Allen was a retread. Denny Rehberg in Montana has
been around for a long time. A lot of these candidates were chosen by John
Cornyn, who was goading candidates either out of retirement, or back in
2010, Charlie Crist out of a safe governor`s chair, because he wanted what
he thought were the strongest candidates possible.

A lot of these electorates were simply raging against the machine. It
didn`t matter where they stood on an ideological spectrum. They didn`t
like having somebody put in front of them. And I think that`s the larger
point here. Chocola is looking for candidates who are younger, the new
generation who are coming to the fore on their own. And I think
Republicans will be more successful if they do that.


MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Is he defending the crazier people like
Mourdock and Akin and those people? Is he defending the ones...

MCPIKE: No, look, he...

MATTHEWS: ... that became the most absurd? Is he or is he not?

MCPIKE: He did not -- he did not defend Todd Akin and he did not
defend Christine O`Donnell. He was saying that he wants to stay away from
candidates like that.

But the reason some of those candidates like Christine O`Donnell won
in 2010, and Todd Akin this time, is because these electorates didn`t want
some other candidate put in front of them. They were raging against the
establishment here.

TRAYNHAM: But -- but...

MATTHEWS: I`m not sure -- do you have a formula here, Robert? Is
there a best way to pick candidates? Is it by the couple guys at the
downtown club, the special club where only the top business guys meet and
that five or ten of them get together and say, It`s going to be Joe because
we like Joe and it`s his turn? Or is it going to be the people with the
scruffier crowds out there in the boondocks to get -- they really care
ideologically and they want the pure thing?

Who should pick the candidates in the Republican Party?

TRAYNHAM: Well, let`s go back to the basics. I mean, the people
should decide, obviously, who the Republican and Democratic nominees are
going to be. However, when you take a look at how it`s been jury-rigged
over the last couple of years, Mike Castle against Christine O`Donnell,
Sharron Angle out in Nevada -- when you -- compromise, unfortunately, has
been such a dirty word right now. If, in fact, you`re a moderate
Republican, you`re a turncoat or you`re a RINO.

We have to stop this type of a conversation and say, Listen, if you
are, in fact, an Arlen Specter or perhaps a Warren Rudman or perhaps a Mike
Castle, you too -- or Scott Brown -- you too are also welcome into the
party. And just because you perhaps may be pro-choice or pro-gay rights,
whatever the case may be, you are welcome.

And so to sit here in Washington, D.C., around a table and a thing of
scotch and to determine who the Republican nominee is going to be is
absolutely ludicrous and ridiculous. And we need to go back to the basics
of letting the best person win the primary...

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute.


MATTHEWS: You guys -- you two are talking in circles. I`m trying to
figure out why the Republican Party tends to have had such an unusual load
of crazy people lately running, to the point where they disturb the image
of the party.

TRAYNHAM: I`ll tell you why...

MATTHEWS: Mourdock hurt Romney. Let`s be honest here. Akin hurt
Romney. What`s her name, Sharron Angle hurt the party and still hurts the
party. I think people like Michele Bachmann still hurt the party.

TRAYNHAM: I`ll tell you why.

MATTHEWS: Allen West hurts the people. These people are so far over,
I will argue, that they make the Republican Party look wacky and loony, as
Steve Schmidt said the other day.

TRAYNHAM: You know, Chris, I`ll you why.

MCPIKE: Well...

TRAYNHAM: I`m sorry. Go ahead, Erin.

MCPIKE: Well, what I was just going to say is let`s go back to Dan`s
first comment. Dan Senor is a smart guy, but that was naive of him to say.

Look, no one liked Mitt Romney to begin with and people didn`t like --
don`t like Mitt Romney now. He had a good first debate, and so people
thought, Oh, maybe he actually has a chance.

But the Republican Party never liked Mitt Romney. They never felt in
love with him. He just happened to be the establishment guy who was going
to get the job. You look to the 2016 field of Republican candidates, and a
lot of the electorate loves those people, like Marco Rubio. The electorate
loves him.

I just -- you know, I`m sorry, I think Dan was very off on those

TRAYNHAM: But Chris -- but Chris, there`s something deeper here that
we haven`t talked about...

MATTHEWS: Let`s start -- let`s start -- let`s start with something
simple. Let`s assume the Republican Party wants to rebuild and to be a
four-corner offense. They want to compete in the Northeast, the Southeast,
the Midwest and the West. Let`s assume that.

Are you saying Marco Rubio is a better candidate to compete, a good
candidate to compete in the Northeast? Where would he win in the
Northeast? I`m just curious when you say that, Erin. I`m not making you
into a Republican or any kind of advocate, but when you analyze it this way
and say he`s the future -- where do they -- what states are they talking
about Marco Rubio winning north of the Mason-Dixon line? What states?

MCPIKE: Well, that I don`t have the answer to, but I`m not on his
campaign, so I have no idea. I do think...

MATTHEWS: Well, no, just analyze it. I mean, if somebody said...

TRAYNHAM: You can`t.

MATTHEWS: ... that he`s the future, I don`t get it.

TRAYNHAM: Well -- well...

MCPIKE: Chris, my point -- my point is generally this. Look,
Republican -- the Republican primary elected -- or electorate didn`t really
like Mitt Romney, right? I mean, so -- but the Democrats always loved
Barack Obama. How do you beat a guy who became an American icon in 2008
with a guy that no one ever really liked? That`s the fundamental problem
with Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: Well, who do they really like in the Republican Party? Can
you tell by watching?

MCPIKE: And that`s what I`m telling you. They didn`t like the --
they didn`t...

MATTHEWS: Well, who do they like?

MCPIKE: ... this electorate (ph) in 2004.

TRAYNHAM: I`ll tell you who they like.

MATTHEWS: Who do they like?

TRAYNHAM: I`ll tell you -- I`ll tell you that they really like Jeb
Bush a lot, but unfortunately, his last name obviously is a ball and chain
around his neck.

But Chris, I want to go back to your earlier point because I think it
was important...

MATTHEWS: Well, they do like him? How do you make this assumption
that they like him, then, if he`s got a bad name?


MATTHEWS: Would they vote for him?

TRAYNHAM: Of course they would.

MATTHEWS: You`re saying they would like him but they wouldn`t vote
for him. What a strange thing to say.

TRAYNHAM: No, I`m not saying that. No, I`m not saying that. I`m...

MATTHEWS: You said he had a ball around his chain. What do you mean
-- ball on a chain...

TRAYNHAM: Bush. The last name Bush.

MATTHEWS: Well, I know that. I know. But that means they won`t vote
for him.

TRAYNHAM: Well, OK. Maybe -- I don`t know that. But my point...

MATTHEWS: Well, what does "like" mean? I thought "like" meant you
vote for that guy.

TRAYNHAM: But -- but here...

MATTHEWS: That`s why your party`s got all kinds of problems here.

TRAYNHAM: But -- but Chris...

MATTHEWS: They got a schizoid situation. They don`t know what will
win nationally because the danger problem for the Republican Party is what
they deeply believe won`t sell.

TRAYNHAM: But Chris, there`s a larger point here, and I think what it
is, is the hard right has never legitimized this president. They have
never, ever, ever said that he`s an American, like he is. They`ve never
said that he`s a Christian, which of course that he is. It is this whole
legitimate -- not necessarily respecting the office of the president and
also not respecting this man. And I think that`s one of the main reasons
why you see some of the hard right coming out, like Sharron Angle.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you why -- why would -- do you think this
country is ready to elect a president who doesn`t believe in science, who
doesn`t believe in climate change, who basically doesn`t believe in any
kind of help to help people here who came here illegally to become legal,
who basically has no sensitivity about this birther stuff being thrown
around by people -- his allies, like Donald Trump?

Do you think a person who basically takes the position that Mitt
Romney ended up taking on so many fronts, we shouldn`t have any compromise
on taxes -- do you think that would ever be a majority party in the near


MATTHEWS: Isn`t it the problem of the party`s platform where it says
life begins at conception, and they should have rights of property and all
that stuff at conception. Aren`t these ideas a bit loony? Isn`t that the
party`s problem, not this -- the current issue, but who they are

TRAYNHAM: Are you addressing that to me?

MATTHEWS: Yes, Robert.

TRAYNHAM: Well, I`m not sure I would say it`s loony...

MATTHEWS: Who hates gays.

TRAYNHAM: I would not say -- I don`t know if I would say that it`s
loony, but it certainly is out of step with the majority of Americans.

Look, Barack Obama won 56 million votes across this country. It was a
wide variety (ph) coalition. And the reason why is because they listened
to this national conversation over the last 18 months, and they decided
that Barack Obama best represented their interests.

MATTHEWS: I agree. And also, we have a terrible economy. A weak
economy is the only reason they`re in the game.

Look, I`m going to end this conversation because I don`t think it`s
been resolved, Erin, and I don`t think you two have -- Erin, you made a
good case for younger people. That`s always the future of every party, go
younger. I agree with that.

But the problem is they got to decide ideologically. Are they going
to be a party that can compete for Senate seats in Pennsylvania, maybe not
Massachusetts, but New Jersey, Connecticut, New England? Are they going to
give you up a whole portion of the country and say, Oh, we`re just going to
make our bones in the South? And it seems to me that`s a problem they got
right there. And they`ve given up on both coasts, by the way. Anyway,
that`s my argument, not yours.

Hey, Robert, thank you for coming in tonight.

TRAYNHAM: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Happy Thanksgiving. You should all be...

TRAYNHAM: You, too.

MATTHEWS: ... in the cars right now heading home by now. Erin,
you`ve been doing great this year. Great coverage this year.

MCPIKE: Thanks so much.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Republicans aren`t the only ones fighting among
themselves. Some progressives out there are warning President Obama -- if
you don`t -- if they don`t like this debt reduction deal, they`re going to
let people hear it. They`re going to run TV ads against the president.
The big question, of course, is, so what, actually, because we`re not
having any more campaigns.

Anyway, also, the Republicans` obsession with secession. Do you
believe it? Catch this. This is something to take home tonight -- 115,000
Texans -- that`s filling up a lot of their football stadiums -- have signed
a secession petition -- a secession petition.

These 21st century secessionists get a lot more in federal money, by
the way, than they pay in taxes. Wait`ll you get through the list. We`re
going to do it tonight and show that all these so-called "new confederates"
are making a bundle off of being a part of the good old union.

Anyway, Chris Christie takes a little Thanksgiving ribbing from David
Letterman tonight. It`s very funny. And the full (ph) feast (ph) is on
the "Sideshow." Wait`ll you catch him at work, and dinner, actually.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with who the president should choose to
replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I`m dead serious.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Wow. Jesse Jackson, Jr., resigned today from the U.S.
Congress. In the past few months, he`s been -- since he`s left Washington,
he`s been treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder, for
gastrointestinal issues.

There`s also reports that he`s facing a federal investigation into
potential misuse of campaign funds. The House Ethics Committee is also
investigating allegations that he, Jesse Jackson, Jr., was engaged in a
pay-to-play scheme with former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, to be
named to Barack Obama`s open Senate seat. Oh, well, that`s terrible.

Anyway, Jackson was easily reelected to his Chicago district this

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama`s convincing
reelection has left some of his detractors threatening to leave the country
for real, state by state. Right now, seven states have collected more than
30,000 signatures each on petitions to secede, got it? Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. By the way, Texas
leads the pack with more than 115,000 signatures by itself to, quote,
"peaceably grant the state of Texas to withdraw from the United States of
America and create its own new government."

As "The Washington Post`s" Dana Milbank put it in a recent column, "If
Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation`s finances,
he`d let them go." Do you hear that? That`s because many of those states
are part of what Milbank`s termed "the confederacy of takers," states that
get more federal money as a whole than they pay in taxes as a whole.

For instance, Alabama secedes -- it gets $1.71 -- $1.71 from the
federal government for every $1 paid in taxes. That`s a pretty good deal.
Louisiana gets a buck 45 in federal aid for each dollar it pays in taxes.

Well, James -- to talk about it, James Moore is co-author of the book
"Bush`s Brain." He`s also director of the Progress Texas Political Action
Committee. James Braxton Peterson is the director of Africana Studies and
associate professor of English at Lehigh. And Michael Steele`s the former
chair of the RNC and a political analyst here at MSNBC.

Gentlemen, this is an extraordinary thing, but let`s talk about this.
Professor Peterson, in a recent Dailybeast article, you outlined, using
maps, the line from America in 19 -- 1859 to America today where states are
petitioning to secede following Obama`s reelection.

You write, "in 1859, the South and a number of Western states were
either pro-slavery or open to slavery. This same collection of states was
legally open to and/or required by statute to be racially segregated. And
it just so happens that these are the states that house the largest
concentration of Republican voters and the highest number of those citizens
that have signed petitions for secession."

So these are recidivists, right? These are recidivists?


MATTHEWS: They had a problem with joining the union, and now they`re
doing it again. They`re back in the same old problem area. They want out.
And they really don`t have too much thinking going on with it. Your

PETERSON: I`m not sure if they necessarily want out. They want to
make the point that they don`t agree with the direction that President
Obama has been taking this country. But I do...

MATTHEWS: Is that what it says on the petition?

PETERSON: ... think that it is...

MATTHEWS: Is that what it says on the petition?

PETERSON: No. No, on the petition, it says...

MATTHEWS: We want the president...

PETERSON: ... they want...

MATTHEWS: ... to pay attention?

PETERSON: On the petition, it says they want out. On the petition...


PETERSON: ... want out, Chris, but I`m not sure -- because -- well,
to make the case against this president. I don`t know if they fully
understand what it means to secede and some of these states who have those
differentials that you were talking about actually cannot economically
exist without federal support and federal intervention. So I don`t think
they want all of their -- I don`t think they want all of their services to
go away, but they`re trying to make the case.

The point that I`m trying to make in the piece, though, Chris, is that
when you look at the sort of history of that cartography, the history of
the mapping, it`s not ironic or it shouldn`t be surprising to folk that
these are the regions that we`re seeing most resistant to President Barack
Obama ...


PETERSON: ... and most entrenched in sort of the radical right of the
Republican Party and most interested in seceding from this nation.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to James Moore on this because my hunch
is they know exactly what they`re saying. And although they may not think
it`s practical, it is their sentiment.


MATTHEWS: That that`s what they want.

MOORE: That`s correct.

MATTHEWS: They would cheer if they got separated from the union,
because it`s the same sort of, we`re against Washington. We don`t like the
federal government. We don`t -- we like our institutions. We`re more

And we sort of like the cause still, if you don`t like mine saying the
phrase, that terrible phrase. We`re sort of still sentimentally with the
cause. We like to watch "Gone With the Wind" again and again and again.
And that`s sort of where we`re at psychologically.


MOORE: You know, Chris, I think that we`re all so hasty...

MATTHEWS: I don`t think they`re appalled by Robert E. Lee. I think
he`s their hero. I think Jefferson Davis is their hero. Stonewall Jackson
are their heroes.

You know that`s true. They go watch the movie. Who are they rooting
for in war movies? Who are they rooting for, the North? You have got to
be kidding me.


MOORE: Why aren`t you calling it what it is, which is racism? This
other stuff...

MATTHEWS: Well, you can call it that. I didn`t call it that. I just
called it rebel attitude. Go ahead. You call it what you want to call it.

MOORE: This other stuff is nothing more -- this other stuff is
nothing more than a cover for it. LBJ said when he signed the Civil Rights
Act that the Democrats had lost the South for a generation. He clearly

If you look at numbers that are on the map, it`s the white South that
voted against the president. Now, they make the argument consistently that
they don`t like an intrusive federal government. The professor has just
made the point that they clearly love these things coming from Washington.

So what is the reason? The reason is race. They do not want an
African-American president. It`s time -- and I would like to frankly
suggest that this is the love it or leave it crowd under George Bush when
the progressives were complaining. And I would like to suggest modestly
that they go ahead and leave and stop embarrassing the rest of us.

PETERSON: A lot of people were saying the thing...


MATTHEWS: We have with us the former chair of the Republican National

We have the -- let me just ask this; 89 percent of Mississippi whites
voted against Obama, 85 percent of Alabama whites. Was there a tinge of
the old cause there?

tinge of the old cause.

Look, they folks have philosophical and political differences with the
president. I think this whole secession thing is absolutely silly.
They`re not going to succeed for the very reasons that the professor...


MATTHEWS: Do you think they`re laughing when they sign these things?

STEELE: No. I don`t think they`re laughing, no.

I think that there`s an element, look, the people who signed it vs.
the rest of the state. It`s not like you have this -- Texas is a big
state, so 110,000 people signing in Texas, it`s not as big a deal as you
think it is or would like to make it. I think there`s a lot ado about
nothing. It`s not going to happen. All right, so, let`s enjoy our
Thanksgiving turkey.


MATTHEWS: No, but you`re here, so you have got to deal with this.
You have got to suffer through this humiliation of your party.


MATTHEWS: Let me go to James Peterson here.

Professor, it seems to me that if somebody came up to me like they did
-- we all have this -- somebody comes up to you with a clipboard, and they
have a petition they want you to sign. You are usually trying to be polite
and you say, let me see what it says. And they go, well, this mean we want
to secede from the United States.


MATTHEWS: And 100,000 people, enough to fill the Cotton Bowl, all
say, sure, let me have that. Give me a pen.


MATTHEWS: What is this? You say it`s not for real.

PETERSON: Chris, listen, it really -- like Jim said, listen, it is an
expression of a certain kind of racialized rhetoric directed at this
president and also directed at the ways in which this country is becoming a
more multicultural country.

One thing that this election was, it was a referendum on the fact that
you can no longer have a coalition of simply white men from the South
directing politics in this country. The voting demographic has opened up.
It will continue to open up as we become blacker and browner and all other
different shades of American colors here.

It`s going to be -- it`s going to be frightening to some of these folk
in some of these states. And so I agree with Michael here. It`s a
rhetorical statement more than an actual sort of movement. But I won`t
dismiss it though, because it`s these folk that are the same folk that are
more racist, they`re more sexist. They`re just more entrenched in sort of
some of the old ideologies of America.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go back to James Moore on this.

James Moore, I look at the way it looks, and I try to -- I went to
school in the South, in Chapel Hill, which -- obviously a different part of
the South. It`s the southern part of heaven. It`s a bit more
intellectual, culturally liberal. We all know that.

But it looks to me like there`s a real differentiation between 89
percent in Mississippi, 85 percent in Alabama. Up into the Carolinas,
North Carolina particularly, it`s only high or mid 30s who voted against --
who voted for Obama. In other words, the numbers change. There`s a
differentiation, the new South as opposed to the old South. I think
there`s a big difference in attitudes.


MOORE: I think there`s also a reflection however in education.

This stuff doesn`t come out of a vacuum, obviously. These are beliefs
that are handed down from families and role models. And it takes a while
for these things to change.

What is astonishing to me, however, that here we are at this date in
this time and we`re still dealing with this kind of thing. There is, Chris
-- by the way, I wanted to point out there`s a place in southeastern Brazil
called New Texas that is made up of descendants of people who left the
South after the Civil War. They`re now known as El Confederados. It would
be good if these folks headed out that way, too.


MATTHEWS: I just have only one last question to James Peterson.

At what number would you begin to get scared? It`s 106,000 out of
Texas. What number would scare you? Where are you at on this, on
secession? You say 100,000 is nothing. Go ahead.

PETERSON: Well, listen, remember, the city of Austin is trying to
secede from the state of Texas, right?

MATTHEWS: I know. That`s the good move.

PETERSON: There are reasonable people in all of these states that
we`re talking about.


PETERSON: There`s no number that will scare me, though, Chris,
because either they will ultimately secede or they will come to their
senses and understand that we`re actually greater as a union.


STEELE: They`re going nowhere. You all just have your -- enjoy your


STEELE: Nobody is going anywhere.

MATTHEWS: OK, Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman has ruled against
secession. There will be no secession this week.

STEELE: There will be no secession this week.


MATTHEWS: OK, Michael Steele, thank you for coming in. Thank you,
Professor James Moore and James Peterson -- James Moore and Professor James

Coming up: The right-wing conspiracy machine gains speed. Read about
it, all about it. President Obama, catch this, this gets worse tonight,
stole the election. Wait until you hear that argument. The "Sideshow"
where that belongs is next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. And time for the "Sideshow,"

Well, the "Sideshow is where this item belongs. Dean Chambers, the
man who launched the Web site Unskewed Polls to show that Mitt Romney
actually won the election, is at it again. Chambers now has a new Web
site, Barack O`Fraudo. It points to four states he says Obama won by
fraud, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.

Chambers admits -- how swell of him -- his evidence is circumstantial.
He points to polling locations such as in Philadelphia where not a single
voter chose Romney in 59 voting divisions. But Slate`s Dave Weigel reports
John McCain lost 57 Philly divisions without a vote four years ago. So
much for his evidence.

Next: Mitt Romney is back to life as a regular Joe. We know that.
Gone are the trappings of a presidential candidate. Jimmy Kimmel for one
seems fascinated with the sight of the former governor pumping gas.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Mitt Romney -- I don`t know
why this is so interesting to me, but it is. Mitt Romney yesterday was
spotted pumping gas. Here he is at a Chevron station in La Jolla.


KIMMEL: Looks kind of disheveled. Looks like he`s been on a three-
day root beer float drinking binge or something.


KIMMEL: Two weeks ago today, this guy woke up hoping to be president,
and now he`s Goober from "The Andy Griffith Show" pumping gas.



MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not just filling up at the pump. Twitter was
abuzz yesterday with sightings of Mitt Romney at Disneyland, where he was
spotted taking in rides with family members.

Fellow visitor Robin Lighten (ph) tweeted: "Yo, Mitt Romney is out at
Disneyland. I just saw him," with hashtag #toodresseduptohavefun. Well, I
bet he skipped Tomorrowland, don`t you think?

And, finally this Thanksgiving eve, we bring you Chris Christie like
you have never seen him before, thanks to David Letterman.


him yesterday? He was testifying before a Senate subcommittee. Did you
see this?


LETTERMAN: We have exclusive footage.


LETTERMAN: Here`s Governor Chris Christie.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: ... the Republican governors.

And one of the reasons why you have 30 Republican governors in America
and why we`re the only organization to add Republican strength -- House
lost members, Senate lost members, we lost the presidency -- we went up
from 29 to 30 Republican governors -- is because people see us getting
things done.



CHRISTIE: Like this, getting things done for people.


CHRISTIE: And that`s what we have to emphasize and talk about.


CHRISTIE: I don`t think this is a core philosophical examination we
have to go through.


CHRISTIE: What this is, is about doing our jobs.




MATTHEWS: How did they fake that? Or did they fake it?

Up next: How much negotiating room are progressives willing to give
President Obama? Are they really willing to go over the fiscal cliff?

And another note, in addition to being Thanksgiving tomorrow, November
22, it`s the 49th anniversary of a moment no one my age will ever forget,
Dallas. Do me an honor. Do something powerful this Black Friday. Get
yourself a copy of my "New York Times" bestseller "Jack Kennedy: Elusive
Hero." It`s out in paperback, a great gift for the holidays.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


"Market Wrap."

Today, the Dow was up by 48 points, the S&P gained three and the
Nasdaq added nine.

On the economic front, consumer sentiment rose slightly in November,
but the reading was below what economists were expecting. Applications for
first-time jobless claims slid by 41,000 last week. However, the numbers
are still distorted by the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

And a bankruptcy court judge has granted permission for Hostess Brands
to begin shutting down.

And that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide. Have a very
happy Thanksgiving, everybody -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

With an electoral history -- or actually victory behind him, Democrats
are feeling more confident in talks with Republicans about the fiscal
cliff. And many on the left have been vocal in calling for the president
not to buckle on the issues of tax increases on the rich and no cuts to
entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. Many of the key players
are talking more defiantly on these issues since the election.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for example, flatly said she wouldn`t go
along with a deal that didn`t raise taxes -- tax rates, in fact, on the
rich. Let`s watch the former speaker.


QUESTION: We have seen talk about a possible compromise that would
leave rates the same, but cap deductions for high-income earners. Is that
something that`s acceptable?


QUESTION: Not at all? No way?

PELOSI: Well, no. I mean, the president made it very clear in his
campaign that there is not enough -- there are not enough -- what you just
described is a formula and a blueprint for hampering our future.


MATTHEWS: OK. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Social
Security should be completely off the table. Let`s watch the Senate


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I have told anyone that will
listen, including everyone in the White House, including the president,
that I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these



On his left, the president is feeling the pressure to stick to his
guns, but how much room does he have to reach a compromise before the end
of the year? And will the lift -- will the left support one if he does?
And most importantly, what is the risk to the country of not reaching a
deal in the near future?

Jared Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities and an MSNBC contributor. He was vice president of Biden`s
chief economic adviser. And Joan Walsh is editor-at-large of Salon and the
author of "What`s the Matter with White People."

Joan, thank you. And thank you, Jared.


MATTHEWS: I have been trying to get the facts on this today and
understand it. The Congressional Budget Office, which is nonpartisan, says
if we go off the cliff January 1, which means we don`t -- we let those
taxes terminate, the tax rates to go back up again for everybody, back up
there where they were before this past president was here, if we let those
cuts go in defense and else places, that there will be $560 billion cut in
the deficit, but a 4 percent cut of the GDP, throwing us technically right
into recession.

Is that you`re belief, that if we don`t do anything between now and
January 1, this country will go into recession, Jared?

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It is my belief if we go over the
cliff and stay over the cliff.

If we`re able to hammer out a deal, even if that deal isn`t completely
stamped and approved on January 1, there is the possibility of a very
temporary trip over the fiscal slope, if you will, and then a reversal.
But if we go over the cliff and stay over the cliff, I`m pretty sure we`d
be looking at a recession.


MATTHEWS: What about the impact on world markets and money markets in
New York, et cetera, et cetera? What would it do about the confidence
about the United States government`s ability to deal with its fiscal
matters if we go over the cliff in any way?



If you look at those markets today, you will see that they`re pricing
in a solution. That`s why Treasury bills have a yield of 1.6 percent, an
historical low. Now, if those markets believed, as I described it, a deal
is in the offing, it just wasn`t signed on January 1, we`d probably be OK
with a temporary trip over the cliff, which I think would be a terrible
outcome, but would be better than a total can-kick.

But if we go over and stay over, markets will punish us.

MATTHEWS: Let me go with Joan on the view.

When you look at these numbers and the decision the president -- let`s
start with the issue. Last summer, you and I went through this with the
debt ceiling that came apart.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: There was a really good deal for the Republicans and they
walked away with from it. It was like the 8-1 deal. The president wanted
$800 billion in revenue and they got a whole bunch, a ton of spending cuts.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: This year, I hear from Wall Street -- we got it from "The
Wall Street Journal" yesterday morning, they will settle for a 1-4. In
other words, they will take $1 in tax increases for $4 in spending cuts.

Jared and I were talking earlier this afternoon about the possibility
of what I think would be a pretty good liberal deal, 50/50. You get a
trillion in increases, mainly from the rich, and a trillion in spending

What kind of a deal do you, speaking as a progressive tonight, what
kind of a deal do you think is fair?

WALSH: Well, first of all, that deal could be fair. It just depends
on what gets cut and what goes up, Chris.

And that`s what we`re all arguing about, I think. I have been -- for
20 years, I have been watching my Democratic presidents reach across the
aisle for compromise and get their arms broken. And so I think it`s time
for people like myself on the left to say, we really will not -- we don`t
want to see a deal that cuts Medicare and cuts Social Security. I think
that the Democrats have a lot of leverage right now. As Jared says, it`s a
fiscal slope, it is not a cliff.

And if we go -- if we let the tax cuts expire, they expire. And then
Democrats come back in the early next year with middle class tax cut and
then they restore the tax cuts for the middle class only. And they leave
that top 2 percent with their taxes up. That`s smart politics. I think --

MATTHEWS: What about economically?

WALSH: I don`t think much honestly --

MATTHEWS: I want him to follow up on that -- Jared, follow up on
what you think would happen if Joan`s scenario played out.

WALSH: Come on, Jared.

BERNSTEIN: I think if it were clear to markets and clear to
employers and all the other economic actors out there that a deal like Joan
described was in the offing, I think we`d basically be fine. And, you
know, listen, the leverage is really important.

Joan has a point. The idea that income tax rates have to expire on
the top 2 percent of households makes a ton of sense and it`s a very
important development here. It`s bad for Grover Norquist, but it`s good
for America and it should be the end of asymmetrical tax policies where
rates only go down, they never go up.

That said, look, there may need to be some entitlements on the table.
The president has already done so in his 2013 budget with Medicare and
Medicaid. But these are cuts largely to providers. They don`t affect
beneficiaries, particularly vulnerable beneficiaries and I think that`s OK.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a second, Joan, you and I. It
seems to me that what you need is -- the left wants to feel they won the
election, which is fair. You should get -- I always think you should get a
60/40 deal after an election, even under a divided government.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: If you win the election and the electoral vote, you ought
to get the best deal.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: My best deal would be the president put his teeth marks
right into the neck of the rich right now and say, your rates are going up,
buddy. I`m not going to go sorting around looking for deductions and screw
the temples and churches around the world, getting charitable deductions.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: I still want you to give to charitable groups but I`m
taking your rate up where it was under Clinton when you were pretty fat and
happy so you got no complaints. We`re going back to where we were in the

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: If you did that, I think people on the left, the
progressive side would say, you know what? I`ll take my piece too if he`s
willing to do that. But if he pulls back and says, geez, we`ll just go
with some deductions. Then the left is going to say, if that`s all you`re
doing to them, you can`t do nothing to us.


WALSH: Well, you can`t do it -- you can`t do it with deductions.
You absolutely can`t do it.

BERNSTEIN: Even if you could --

WALSH: Even if you could --

BERNSTEIN: Even if you could, he`s right.

WALSH: Right.


MATTHEWS: Joan, your thoughts.

WALSH: So even if he could, he`s right. We can`t do it that way.
We shouldn`t do it that way.

And, you know, on the other side, I don`t think, though, even getting
top tax rates going up and capital gains rates going up, I don`t think the
left should be silent while we say rate -- if we raised the eligibility age
for Medicare. That`s a terrible idea. It actually increases the deficit
in the long run, at least for states and local governments. And it takes
the healthiest people, the youngest old, if you will, out of the Medicare
pool and leaves the Medicare pool with the sickest oldest old.

I mean, it`s absolutely crazy policy and it`s really mean.

MATTHEWS: Jared, respond to that.

BERNSTEIN: So, let me -- let me --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t she right on the merits that you don`t save anything
when you force people to stay away from the hospital or stay away from the
doctor for a couple years?

BERNSTEIN: I completely agree with what Joan just said. And if I
had my druthers, we would probably lower the eligibility rate because
Medicare is a much more efficient program than the private sector.

WALSH: Absolutely.

BERNSTEIN: But, listen, here`s the thing -- here`s another thing
that I think should, I guess, sweeten the deal is one way to put it for
progressives, but I also think it`s really important for the economy.
Let`s also include a couple measures of jobs programs in a temporary 2013
measures to help -- to take advantage of some of this momentum we already
have in our economy -- fiscal relief to states, maybe something off the
payroll tax holiday, maybe something on the unemployment insurance.

You know, that`s another way in which this deal, I think, could look
good to people on the left.

MATTHEWS: I agree. And I think a little -- a spoonful of sugar
helps the medicine go down, by the way. Somebody once said, I forget who.

BERNSTEIN: Mary Poppins.

MATTHEWS: Anyway --

WALSH: The three of us could do it.

MATTHEWS: We can do it right here. We`ll stay over an hour and get
it done.

Anyway, Jared Bernstein, Joan Walsh, congratulations for brilliance
again and happy Thanksgiving.

WALSH: Happy Thanksgiving, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the art of power from someone who really knew how
to use it. You could write a book about it. There he is, the guy on your
$20 bill.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: By the way, Thomas Jefferson`s on the $2, not the $20

Earlier today, we showed you the fun that David Letterman had on
Chris Christie`s expense last night. As you know, a lot of Republicans
feel Christie hugged President Obama a bit too tightly after the hurricane
came through.

But among those who don`t share those sentiments are New Jersey
residents. Look at this. A new poll by National Research has Christie`s
approval rating sky high, 77 percent, up from the 50s before this. Nobody
gets numbers like that.

In case you think that numbers comes from smirky Democrats, Jersey
Republicans approve Christie by a nearly nine-to-one margin, nine-to-one,
another example of how good policy makes pretty good politics.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

It`s a resume no one can hold a candle to, drafter of the Declaration
of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, secretary of state,
vice president, president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson -- through
all his virtues and faults -- holds a special place in Americans` heart.

And he`s the subject of a terrific new biography "Thomas Jefferson:
The Art of Power" by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive director
of Random House, Jon Meacham -- my hero for many years.

Jon, it just seems to me that what a wonderful biographer like for is
to bring back someone up to the front of the stage for us again, someone we
haven`t thought about for a while and should. Why should we think about
him today given we`re in the age of Barack Obama?

tall, cool, cerebral politician who didn`t -- affected not to like politics
but turned out to be pretty good at it.

MATTHEWS: Like somebody else we know?

MEACHAM: Like somebody else we know.

I think, you -- what I wanted to do in this was what you`ve done with
Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the past. You -- I wanted to recover him
as a politician, as someone who from 1769 until 1809 was all about trying
to find solutions, principled solutions to problems in real-time. He would
cut a deal. He would make a bargain as long as it didn`t compromise that
fundamental principle about the survival and success of the Republican

And politics and politicians -- politics is always going to be
contentious. It doesn`t always have to be frustrating. And in his day, it
wasn`t all that frustrating.

MATTHEWS: But you -- I think in your book you made the point that he
didn`t mind spending time like -- the Founding Fathers, spend time at the
Raleigh tavern together drinking ale and getting to know each other and
finding common ground even at midnight. Was he good at that? Because
Obama is not particularly in that direction. He doesn`t really like
hanging out with the guys, if you will.

MEACHAM: It`s one of the most important thing that the incumbent
president can learn from our third president. Jefferson -- every night
Congress was in session, he had lawmakers down to the White House. He had
all Republicans or all Federalists, because he didn`t want them throwing
food at each other, but he wanted them to know him, he wanted them to hear
his plans, his agenda.

He did not think Congress -- and we all know this from our own
experience, if Congress just read about a plan or heard about it someplace
else, they were not going to be invested in it. And so, he used the table,
he used the art of cuisine, of entertaining those Virginia rights of
hospitality that he grew up with to really move opinion in his direction.
It doesn`t mean that it created a bipartisan Valhalla, it doesn`t.

But as you know, life is lived on the margins in politics and every
once in a while when you need a vote, you`re more likely to get the benefit
of the doubt from somebody with whom you`ve broken bread and who knows what
your eyes look like and what your voice sounds like than you are from some
distant remote figure.


Let`s talk about the most important sentence in our country`s
history. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that man was created by
his Creator, endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights, among
them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I`m blown away by that when I think about the idea of pursuit of
happiness which it`s among our rights, and endowed by our Creator is also
interesting. He was a deist, right? His idea of an internal being, of a
first cause, if you will, of a God was what? What was his religious belief
and how did that fit into his notion of human rights?

MEACHAM: He thought that there was a creator God, that there would
be a system of rewards and punishments after death, and he did believe that
there was divine agency in human history. And so, he was not an
evangelical Christian, he wasn`t a traditional protestant. He felt that a
lot of the post-council of Nicaea theology that sprung up after the first
years and first centuries after Jesus was, as he once put it, the mere
abracadabra of men calling themselves priest of Jesus.


MEACHEM: But he understood and this is what`s so important and what

MATTHEWS: What about rights? Did he believe that rights were God-

MEACHAM: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Because that`s always the center of our debate in this
country, about rights being essential and the idea of equality. Did he
think of white equality, white male equality, white land owning equality?
Who is in that list that got to be equal as in the eyes of the writer of
the Declaration?

MEACHAM: For him, it was white men but he also understood that this
was an unfolding drama. He knew that that was a promise that had to be
fulfilled. And what`s so remarkable about the American contribution to the
conversation about rights and responsibilities is we were the first people
to say that our rights, yours and mine, individuals, came from above, came
from the nature`s god or the laws of nature or the Creator, and that if
they came from above, then the hand of a king nor the hands of a mob could
take it away.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

MEACHAM: And that is what is -- that`s why they are sacred and
inviolate. And without that --

MATTHEWS: It`s worth reading about. Jon, it`s worth reading about.
The name of the book is Thomas Jefferson, the art of power. And he once
said the whole art of politics is the art of telling the truth, I`ll never
forget that one.

Thank you, Jon Meacham, a great author, a great book for the winner
here for Christmastime.

When we return, let me finish with the best first step that President
Obama should take for successful second term.

You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish with this tonight.

I`ve long believed that the best decision of Barack Obama`s
presidency came before he even took office. It was naming Hillary Clinton,
his secretary of state. It did something magical, healing any bad feeling
between the two presidential rivals, uniting the Democratic Party, setting
a hopeful course for political maturity, giving not just the president but
the country a top drawer, a top diplomat to face the word.

Now it`s up to President Obama to do it again. He`s won a second
term. Now, he only needs to make it great. Naming John Kerry to replace
Secretary Clinton fits that bill. Picking Susan Rice would be good.
Picking Kerry would be better.

Since Thomas Jefferson, the post of secretary of state stands alone
in history. It`s by its nature a role holding the most stature but for the
president himself. Kerry won 252 electoral votes back in 2004 against the
sitting chief executive, a war time president at that. A combat veteran of
Vietnam, a leading critic of the war later, a five-time elected senator,
the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has contacts around
the world. He`s just sort the heavyweight Obama picked the first time.

I say this even as I detest the lynch mob that`s thrown itself
together this week for Ambassador Susan Rice. The president is right about
their bad purposes and bad arguments. They are precisely the same as those
used in the swift boating, used to keep John Kerry from the presidency.
They attack her for her early explanation of the horror of Benghazi when
the real complaint, they know it, is about something that she had nothing
at all to do with, the death of our Ambassador Chris Stevens. The
Republicans attacked Kerry for his decorated combat record when the real
complaint was his opposition to the Vietnam War on his return.

Swift boating is now sadly a practiced art. It`s character
assassination with a head fake.

For President Obama, the challenge for this week is to make the right
pick for the country, not react one way or another to the jackals out
there. He had the clear head to do it before in picking Hillary Clinton
for State and that made all the difference. I really hope he does it

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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