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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Monday, November 26th, 2012

Read the transcript to the Monday show

November 26, 2012

Guests: Tom Coburn, Joe Klein, Neera Tanden, Hendrick Hertzberg, James Lankford

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hiding in history.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let me start" tonight with this. Republicans must think they own the
White House. I say this as someone who has watched them before and after
the election. From the heights of George F. Will to the depths of Glenn
Beck, they were predicting not just victory but a glorious one in this

What made them think so? The polls were tight but favoring President
Obama. What North Star was guiding the GOP, convincing them that the White
House would be back in their hands this January, back where their
hankerings convinced it belonged?

Well, there was a darker side to this deep sense of executive
entitlement, this sense they had the same assumed access to the White House
as they did to the corporate dining room. It`s more than a bit
frightening. Maybe you have, I have, heard at least one person of the
right state their pained belief or relief that at least the election didn`t
end up in a situation where Obama won the electoral vote but Romney got the
popular vote.

Yes, I agree that would have been bad. It would have denied the
Democrat the kind of clear mandate that any president can use. But the
implication from the right wing seemed to be that had the Republican
candidate won the popular vote and yet been denied the office, there would
be trouble of some undefined type.

What the heck did that mean? Yes, we`ve had to put up with these
ridiculous secession petitions out there, the Texas version having been
signed by over 100,000 people since election day. But could the right have
gone further had it been armed with a popular vote victory?

There does seem to be a difference in the two parties here. When Al
Gore lost in the Electoral College 12 years ago, he ignored his 600,000-
vote victory in the popular vote. He just learned to live with the irony.

Republicans have carefully forgotten this bit of history, but I have
real doubts that those on the angry, demanding right would have been so
quietly obedient to constitutional law. There`s something out there on the
right right now that is still uneasy with this defeat, searching
desperately for an explanation of how the conservative caterpillar they had
right there in their hands became the liberal butterfly now happily
fluttering, and yes, defiantly free of them, and they don`t like it one

I`m joined right now by "The New Yorker`s" Rick Hertzberg and the
HuffingtonPost`s Howard Fineman.

Rick, you`ve written a beautiful column in "The New Yorker" this week,
and I just wonder about this, this sense they have of almost royal ruling
class identity with the White House. What do you make of it and their
attitude before and after the election? They really weren`t going to lose,
and they haven`t, really, in some strange way because they got the House.

RICK HERTZBERG, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes. Well, this attitude`s been
built up over time, over the years. They didn`t really think Bill Clinton
was legitimate because Ross Perot, they thought, cost him the election.
They thought that Obama`s original election was a freak on account of Bush
being such a terrible president.

And they just were not equipped to deal with this defeat. And this
was a real defeat because it was a defeat across the board for the
Republican Party. Yes, they kept the House, but guess who got more votes?
Democratic candidates for the House got more votes than Republican
candidates for the House. And these -- it may not make any difference
constitutionally, but it makes a moral difference.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and they like to hang (ph) it (ph) on (ph). I think
there`s more to it, their sense of entitlement here. Shortly after the
Romney-Ryan ticket lost 26 states and won just over 47 percent of the vote
-- in other words, did worse than John Kerry in 2004 -- Paul Ryan denied
that the president earned a mandate in an interview with ABC`s Jonathan
Karl. Let`s listen.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: The president wins 330-some electoral votes,
every battleground state with the exception of North Carolina. Does Barack
Obama now have a mandate?

because they also reelected the House Republicans. So whether people
intend it or not, we`ve got divided government. And so...

KARL: So you don`t think there`s a mandate here?

RYAN: ... so I don`t because then they would have put Nancy Pelosi in
charge of the House of Representatives. See, I think these ideas that we
talked about, I think they`re popular ideas.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, it turns out Paul Ryan`s wrong. When you look at
the raw vote, voters cast about 400,000 votes more for House Democrats than
for Republicans, and with votes still being counted, as Rick said, that`s
expected to go to a million-vote majority.

My question is why are they getting into this whole thing? When we
have elections -- I worked for Tip O`Neill, as everybody knows, back then -
- Tip never came out -- the speaker never said, Oh, yes, but we`ve got a
40-seat majority in the House, or we`re going to have an even bigger one
after Reagan gets reelected.

The presidential election is where the mandate goes.

Well, first, I agree with Rick that this began with Bill Clinton, the sense
of no legitimacy to a Democratic president. That`s where it started.
That`s where it`s continuing.

I think also that that the way politics is divided today makes it
almost required that people deny the legitimacy of the other side. And
beyond that, I think the Republicans kind of view themselves as a kind of
ruling class that are entitled by virtue of their success, by the virtue of
money, by the power of money to buy anything, that they should be able to
continue to buy these elections.

MATTHEWS: Now, I think -- Rick, what do you make of this sort of
North Star they go by, that they believe that this is a center-right
country? I mean, I don`t know whether (INAUDIBLE) believe that the old
Founding Fathers notion that somehow, white men of property rule the
country, and that`s their notion of equality because somehow, in their
minds, they think, Oh, it must be a Republican. All my friends are. The
guys I work with, the women I know, they`re all Republicans. This country
must be Republican. I can`t believe these results.

HERTZBERG: Well, there may be something to it in the sense that when
you -- depending on how you ask polling questions, you can get the answer
you want. You can get an answer that tells you that it`s a center-right
country. You can get an answer that tells you it`s a center-left country.

But on this business of what would have happened if Obama had lost the
popular vote and still won the White House, I think you would have had a
very different reaction from Obama. And I think that in the year 2000, if
Al Gore had been able -- if the shoe had been on the other foot and Al Gore
had become president while Bush had gotten the popular vote, he would have
responded differently. He would have acknowledged that, and he would have
wanted to do something about it.

That has to change at some point, and it`s going to have to change
after -- probably after both sides` oxes are gored.

MATTHEWS: You mean you think we`re going to get a change in our
Constitution at some point to make it a popular vote?

HERTZBERG: You don`t need it to be the Constitution. There`s the
national popular vote initiative that would do it through the states.


HERTZBERG: You can do it without changing the Constitution and see
how you like it.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Interesting. The states could just simply decide to
go by the popular vote of the country.

Anyway, the chorus of Republicans predicting a Romney win was loud and
offered intellectual heft (ph). Michael Barone predicted that Romney would
win handily. Peggy Noonan in "The Wall Street Journal" said all signs
pointed to a Romney win.

And on FOX News, Dick Morris, not exactly an intellectual, predicted a
Romney landslide. Listen to this.


"The Times" says Obama`s going to win by 1, but their sample has 7 points
more Democrats than Republicans. So that poll is off by a factor of 8. So
instead of Obama winning by 1, Romney would win Florida by 7.

In Virginia, they have Obama winning by 2. But they have 8 points
more Democrats than Republicans, and historically, there`s 1 point more
Republican than Democrat. That`s off by a factor of 9. Romney wins Ohio
by -- wins Virginia by 7.

BILL O`REILLY, HOST, "THE O`REILLY FACTOR": All right, so you are
standing by your prediction of a Romney landslide?

MORRIS: Absolutely. Romney will win this election by 5 to 10 points
in the popular vote and will carry more than 300 electoral votes.


MATTHEWS: OK, we`re talking about a real phenomenon here. I mean,
you got people like Neil Newhouse, not just right-wing crazy people, who
actually were saying this election was in the bag. It was going to be a
glorious victory, overwhelming victory, people like George Will were
saying, Peggy Noonan, smart people all saying overwhelming.

What was their world view that convinced them of that? And I still
think -- because I think a lot of that leads to this defiance now- Well, we
still have the House -- that`s somehow a counter-mandate. There`s
something strange going on here, and it`s going to matter as we get into
these cliff talks, these debt cliffs.

FINEMAN: Yes, well, it`s because I don`t think the Republicans want
to admit to themselves what the real problems are here. There are two, as
I see it. One is the cultural side. The country keeps changing on issues
such as abortion and other things.

MATTHEWS: We`re going to get to that today.

FINEMAN: We`re becoming more liberal on those matters. We just are.

MATTHEWS: And same-sex.

FINEMAN: And they`re stuck with that -- those issues, those
traditional issues. They don`t know how to get away from it. They`re
going to have to.

The other thing is money. The other thing is that people like Chris
Ruddy, who I think is a very responsible, interesting conservative, runs


FINEMAN: ... says that the reason why Mitt Romney lost is because
people didn`t like him. But what Chris doesn`t understand is that the
reason they didn`t like Mitt Romney is that he seemed only to care about
money. He seemed only to care about profit, and that he didn`t have any
communal since to him that could be applied to government.

The Republicans don`t see that a pure obsession with free market
economics comes across...


FINEMAN: ... to everybody else in the country who isn`t them as too
cold-blooded, as too cold-hearted. And the fact that with almost 8 percent
unemployment, with people thinking that the country is going in the wrong
direction, that they still voted for Barack Obama makes it an even bigger
rejection of the Republicans and conservatism than they are willing to
admit to themselves.

MATTHEWS: Rick, just going back, this love of the Founding Fathers --
it`s has gotten to a point of not reverence for their courage in standing
up to the British empire and putting their lives on the line and being
quite enlightened in so many ways, given who they were -- but this notion
that the free men of this country are the white men of property.

And that is really what Romney ran on, white men of property. He
didn`t say it. Intellectually, I don`t think he ever put it in any words.
But look who he was rallying to as -- as -- you know, as Howie just pointed
out, that seemed to be the rallying cry, men of property, join together,
defend the wagon -- defend the wagon train against the onslaught of the

That seemed to be what they were doing in this campaign.

HERTZBERG: Well, let`s be fair to the Founding Fathers. For their
time, they were pretty darn progressive. And the idea that, for example,
that they drew up a Constitution as a mandate for small government -- just
the exact reverse of the truth. We had small government under the Articles
of Confederation. The Framers went for big government. And yes, they gave
small government arguments when they wrote the Federalist Papers, just like
-- just like you always try to appeal to the arguments of the other side.

But they just don`t understand what the Framers were up to, and they
worship them, rather than trying to imitate them.

FINEMAN: Well, the other thing is...

MATTHEWS: And they weren`t -- they weren`t thinking of -- they
weren`t thinking of Sally Hemmings`s vote, I`m sure of that. That would be
a guess.

FINEMAN: Quickly, Chris, the other thing is that when you listen to
the explanations that the Republicans and conservatives give for why they
lost, they always say, Well, the African-American -- the black community
and the Hispanic community voted overwhelmingly for the president.

MATTHEWS: The urban vote.

FINEMAN: The urban vote and -- as if those votes don`t count as much
as everybody else`s vote, and as if that`s some kind of explanation -- some
kind of explanation for the weird phenomenon of the fact that the
Republicans didn`t win. There was this extraterrestrial force out there...


FINEMAN: ... of African-Americans and Hispanics.


FINEMAN: Well, duh! That`s the country!

MATTHEWS: The last person...


MATTHEWS: This has no bearing on the Republican Party, and these
references are always dangerous, but I`ll take it anyway. The last guy to
refer to the black auxiliary was Hitler.

Anyway, thank you, Rick Hertzberg. And thank you -- during the `36
Olympics, we had Jesse Owens and a couple other guys winning the Olympics,
and they were saying, Well, they had their auxiliary out there.

Anyway, thank you. Coming up -- Howard and Rick.

Coming up: Could we be seeing the first signs of the GOP splitting
apart on abortion? This is big stuff. John McCain said yesterday morning
that the issue`s hurting Republicans and it`s time for them to drop the
issue, leave it alone. Does that mean getting it out of the platform, stop
talking of it, stop making it a litmus test for the presidential candidate?
This is big stuff.

Plus, dumping Grover. Well, that`s a nice thought. A number of
Republicans are finally putting limits on their no-tax pledge and telling
Grover Norquist to get lost. But remember, there`s only one of those
people in the House of Representatives where the real fiscal cliff deal is
going to have to be made with the White House.

And keeping hope and change alive. In contrast to 2008, President
Obama`s aides are hoping to keep the campaign going and use their new
leverage at the polls to win the fight for higher taxes on the wealthy in
these fights coming ahead.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with this Republican assumption of
its right to rule.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Get ready for some more partisan agendas from the state
governments across the country. That`s because come January, at least 37
states will be under single-party control, 37 of them, with one party
holding both houses of state legislatures and the governorship. And that`s
the largest number of states under single-party control in 60 years.
Twenty-four of those 37 states will be controlled by Republicans and
thirteen under Democratic control.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to politics and HARDBALL. Abortion politics,
particularly anti-abortion politics, has been a guiding principle of
Republican politics for decades now. But yesterday, Senator John McCain, a
pro-life Republican, stepped back from the edge and seemed to say it was
time for the GOP to rethink its position. The reason, obviously, the
country`s turning against the Republicans` position.

Here McCain on Fox. Let`s listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think we have to have a bigger tent.
That`s -- no doubt about it. We`ve got to give them something to be for.
And as far as young women are concerned, absolutely, I don`t think anybody
like me -- I can state my position on abortion, but to -- other than that,
leave the issue alone.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": When you say leave the issue
alone, you would allow -- you`d say freedom of choice?

MCCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those
opinions. I`m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone
disagrees with me, I respect your views.


MATTHEWS: How do you move away from a pro-life stance which
threatened to tear apart the GOP coalition separating pro-choice moderates
from the larger group of more conservative Republicans?

Republican congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma is opposed to
abortion rights. Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large for Salon, an MSNBC
contributor and author of "What`s the Matter With White House People?"

Congressman, I want to ask you about this decision. What do you make
-- do you think that it`s essential for the Republicans to keep a very
strong pro-life plank in your party platform and may -- keep it as a litmus
test for any presidential or vice presidential candidate?

REP. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: You know what? Half of Americans
are very pro-life. And so to say to half of Americans, Your -- your
opinions don`t count, wouldn`t equate (ph) representation to them. You
have pro-life Democrats and pro-life Republicans that are out there that
this is a very, very important issue.

So yes, I do think you keep it in. I think you continue the
conversation. But you do it in a way that`s appropriate. Chris, if you
look at last year or the last two years of our voting in the 112th
Congress, there have been 11 votes on abortion in the House of
Representatives, 1,557 total votes, 11 of those dealt with abortion.

This is not even 1 percent of our votes that have been taken in this
session of Congress. So to say this has been a big issue, I think it`s
been pretty fair (ph), actually.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at your platform. And I`ll get to
Joan in a minute. Quote -- let`s look at the platform language. This is
in your platform you agreed to as a party this year. It takes a pretty
tough view.

It reads, quote, "We support a human life amendment to the
Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th
Amendment`s protections apply to unborn children."

You`re basically saying in that, from the moment of conception, that
the fetus or unborn child has the rights of life, liberty and property
under the 14th Amendment, which cannot be denied -- cannot be denied except
through due process of law. You`re basically establishing personhood in
your party platform.

Do you believe that is something that pro-choice people could rally
behind? Could you ever have a Republican who was the candidate for
president who was pro-choice? I mean, what are you really saying?

John McCain said clearly, no longer make it a partisan issue. Drop it
from the public debate. Are you saying keep it as a debate between
Republicans and Democrats?

LANKFORD: I doubt that Republicans would put someone into the White
House that is pro-choice on that because there`s such a strong family value
among Republicans. We look into the womb and we see two legs, two arms,
two eyes, a nose and a beating heart, unique DNA, and we say that`s a

And so that -- this is not anti-choice, this is pro-life. This is we
see that as a child, and we see every single child of inherent value and
should have the opportunity to be able to live.

MATTHEWS: What are the rights of a pregnant woman?

LANKFORD: What are the rights of a pregnant woman?


LANKFORD: The pregnant woman has the same rights everyone else does,
but so does that child. This is splitting up Americans and saying an
American that`s very small doesn`t have the same amount of rights that (ph)
Americans taller. That`s not true. No matter what your height is, no
matter what your weight is, as an American, you have unique rights and
responsibilities under our Constitution. And we want to say we want to
honor life and honor people. And we don`t think that`s irrational.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s got to this -- I follow you very rationally,
sir. Don`t question me. I follow your reasoning precisely.

Joan, I want in here. But following his reasoning that you`re a
person the moment after conception, then if you use an IUD, you`re a


WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, I mean, this is -- this is the language they use and they
choose it.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: I don`t choose it.

Your -- your thoughts.

WALSH: It`s not -- exactly, Chris. It`s not just abortion. It`s certain
forms of birth control would be murder and it would be criminalized.

It would be considered murder. You know, I`m pro-choice. I`m very much
pro-family. I`m very much pro-life. And Americans are divided on this
issue, although there is a majority of people who think abortion should be
legal, at least in some circumstances.

MATTHEWS: What about John McCain`s statement yesterday? Weren`t you
amazed for him to just drop that from the airplane to lighten the load,

WALSH: Yes. Well, they are on a -- they are on a course to demographic
extinction, the Republican Party. They`re losing women. They`re losing
Latinos and Asians and African-Americans. They`re losing young people.
Other than that, they`re doing great.

You know, so there have been a lot of proposals for what they have to do to
get some of those groups back, and I think choice is one issue. I would
say though with Senator McCain, he talks about being open to other views.
It`s not necessarily that we won`t continue to fight to make abortion

MATTHEWS: Well, he did sound like he was going to not make it a partisan

WALSH: He sounded like it, but he left himself wiggle room. So we will
see how it plays out.


MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this, Congressman, because you`re the
Republican. We`re talking about your platform. OK?

If somebody is of similar mind to Joan Walsh here, who agrees with your
party on fiscal issues, but disagrees with your issues on social issues
like abortion rights, how can they vote -- or should they vote for a
president who has promised to get rid of Roe v. Wade? And how can you make
that case?

LANKFORD: OK. It`s the same thing. A lot of Americans have different
issues that they vote on.

A lot of people vote on fiscal issues, on jobs issues, on economic issues,
the basics of it, what we call the table issues, those kitchen table
things. That`s pretty common. Some people have their first priority is a
life issue, that they say, you know what? It doesn`t matter the economy if
you don`t ever have life on it.

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. But what about the choice person? Why
should a choice person vote for the continuation of this Republican
platform, which says from the moment of conception that unborn child or
fetus is in fact a citizen with the rights of property, and life and
liberty? Property rights, even. Your thoughts.

LANKFORD: There are plenty of people that are pro-choice Republicans that
are out there, just like there are plenty of pro-life Democrats that are
out there, because they`re going to pick their own preferences on it.

I would disagree that this party is demographically falling apart, when a
49 percent-51 percent election just occurred. You look at the House of
Representatives and you have this large percentage of Republicans there.
We still are a very divided nation.


LANKFORD: That is represented in our government right now.

WALSH: It`s going to be about 47 percent. And most Americans voted -- in
the House races, most Americans did vote for Democrats. Because of
gerrymandering, your party got a big majority. But that`s because of

And I would also add, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Actually, it`s because the Democrats waste a lot of votes in big
city Democratic districts where they got 99 percent of the vote.

WALSH: Fine.


WALSH: But I just want to -- I want to say something very important about

Most women who have abortions are mothers. It`s sadly a kitchen table
issue. A lot of women are making that choice because they cannot afford to
bring another child into the world. And for a lot of women, it`s a tough
choice, but there`s nobody better positioned to make that decision in the

We can be privately pro-life, but publicly, our public policy has to be
pro-choice because there`s no one else who can make that decision besides
the women with the people she trusts. Otherwise, you are making her a
criminal, you`re making the doctors a criminal -- criminals. It`s just

We`re not going back to the world where we used to live, where people...


MATTHEWS: I think, Joan, here is something you would agree with and I
think the congressman won`t agree with. This is the exact words that John
McCain used yesterday with Chris Wallace.

"I don`t think anybody like me," meaning a male of a certain age, "I can
state my position on abortion, but to other than that leave the issue

In other words, he doesn`t want to be heard on the issue really in terms of
any debate over the platform. He basically thinks the party ought to stop
fighting over it as a party, but you, sir, don`t agree with him. That`s
what I just want to get on the record.

LANKFORD: I would say there are 750,271 people in the 5th Congressional
District of Oklahoma, both male and female. And to say because I`m a male,
I can`t represent the female opinion that is in my district would be

There are hundreds of thousands of females in my district that are very
pro-life and are very passionate about this issue and they deserve a voice
in Congress as well. So does that child.

I understand the plight of the woman that`s pregnant on that, but I also
understand the plight of that child.

MATTHEWS: Well said for your point of view.

Joan, last word.

WALSH: Well, I think this is going to be an issue that splits the party
because the Republicans have pandered to people who are very extreme. And
that`s what -- we have got that language in the platform that most people
didn`t know about until Todd Akin made his ridiculous remarks about
legitimate rape.

So, this is not going to be an easy one for them to finesse, Chris. A lot
of people feel the way the congressman does.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think the seams in the Republican Party are starting to
show. I`m not saying that the bolts are snapping...

WALSH: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... but the seams are showing.

Congressman, it`s great having you on.

LANKFORD: Good to have you as well.

MATTHEWS: You`re a very articulate spokesman for your point of view.
Thank you for coming on.

LANKFORD: I would definitely disagree, but thank you.

MATTHEWS: Joan, Joan, you always are an articulate spokesman for a point
of view I often share.

Up next: What is Vice President Biden doing in a bathing suit up in
Nantucket? Well, it`s crazy, but he`s in the -- there he is, in the water.
That`s 40 -- you know you like it to be about 70 when you go in the ocean?
This was about half that.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."

First, bringing on Thanksgiving on Nantucket. How about a cold dive in the
ocean? And that`s how Vice President Joe Biden spent his Thanksgiving a.m.
He and his grandkids took part in the annual Cold Turkey Plunge. It`s a
fund-raiser for the local library up there running straight into the
Nantucket Sound. There he was. Cold might be an understatement for -- the
water temperature up in Nantucket this time of year is about 40-something.

Now for a less festive side of the holidays. The American Family
Association, which I think is on the right, has released its annual
naughty/nice list of companies that celebrate Christmas only at the cash

As a rule of thumb, if a company winds up on the naughty list, it`s because
it doesn`t use the word Christmas in its Christmas sales pitches. The
against Christmas list includes Barnes & Noble -- I actually love that
company -- Office Depot, and Banana Republic.

The rankings, it should be said, don`t reflect the companies` charitable
giving during the holidays. Barnes & Noble, for example, runs a holiday
book drive benefiting local groups.

Next, what`s wrong with this family picture, Christmas picture? How about
everyone holding a gun? That`s right. Arizona`s Scottsdale Gun Club is
offering families the opportunity to have holiday photos taken with
firearms in hand. The club`s manager talked about the photo op on FOX


to do is add a little bit of holiday spirit into people`s Second Amendment
rights to be able to carry and purchase firearms.

It`s something that basically we just provide as a service to our customers
and members. We do go all through the safety precautions, remove the
firing pins, no fingers on the triggers. We do a completely free firearms
safety class for families.


MATTHEWS: Well, this may have been one time you have to go to a safety
training camp to get a family photo taken.

Finally -- this is amazing stuff.

Finally, is President Obama secretly plotting to run for a third term?
Investment adviser Porter Stansberry, no stranger to conspiracy theories
about the president, thinks so.

Here he is on the conservative "Alex Jones Radio Show."


PORTER STANSBERRY, INVESTMENT ADVISER: If you look at people who ran for
president for three terms, it`s Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
and Obama. And they all have certain things in common.

They`re all populists. They all spent a lot of money on people. But the
other thing they had in common was in 1901 there was on oil boom from
Spindletop. In 1930, there was an oil boom from East Texas. And right now
going on in America is the biggest renaissance in oil since 1930. It`s the
shale boom.

And all this oil is producing huge new revenues for the feds and also
enormous power for Obama. Of course, he`s going to use that power and all
that leverage to propel himself into a third term.


MATTHEWS: Of course, Stansberry`s prediction does have one big gaping
hole, the 22nd Amendment, which went into effect after FDR -- quote -- "No
person where shall be elected to the office of the president more than

We have heard a lot of anti-Obama conspiracy theories. This
unconstitutional nonsense could be the tipping point.

Up next: A growing number of Republicans say they`re willing to end their
no tax pledge to Grover Norquist. The trouble is, only one of them is in
the House of Representatives, where the deal with the White House will be
made. That`s ahead. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. I`m Tyler Mathisen
with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

The Dow falls 42, the S&P loses two, and the Nasdaq added 9. Shares of
eBay jumped nearly 5 percent on expectations of a very busy Cyber Monday.
Online sales are expected to total $1.5 billion today. That`s up almost 20
percent from last year.

And Yahoo! -- Yahoo! hit a two-and-a-half year high of $19 a share earlier
before falling back slightly. Goldman Sachs raised its price target on
that longtime beleaguered stock to $24 a share.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist has been called the most powerful man in
Washington, but is his influence on the wane? To listen to a growing
chorus of Republican lawmakers, Norquist and his strict no new tax pledge
is out of step with the current mandate to strike some kind of a deal on
the fiscal cliff. Let`s watch.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I`m not obligated on the pledge. I made
Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, that the only thing I`m monitoring
is the oath that I take when I serve -- when I`m sworn in this January.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When you`re $16 trillion in debt,
the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming
Greece. And Republicans -- Republicans should put revenue on the table. I
will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country,
only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years
ago is for that Congress. For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I
would have signed the -- supported a declaration of war against Japan. I`m
not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed.



MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a hell of a comparison.

Anyway, this morning Norquist responded. Let`s listen.


two years ago when we were arguing over the debt ceiling limits. So their
position hasn`t changed. And during the debt ceiling limit, we cut
spending, we didn`t raise taxes.

So other Republicans did not listen to Peter King or these others.


MATTHEWS: And this guy is a political loan shark.

Anyway, the majority of Americans want to see tax rates go up on the rich,
but will Norquist convince enough Republicans that it`s better to dig in
their heels than to reach a compromise?

Tom Coburn is the Republican senator from Oklahoma and Joe Klein is a
columnist for "TIME."

Gentlemen, thank you.

Mr. Coburn, Senator Coburn, I don`t want to abuse your presence. I honor
it. My children, by the way, think you`re the greatest.


MATTHEWS: So let`s talk about this. I have a couple kids, one who worked
on the debt commission and another one who just loves you for some reason.
So, let`s find out why.

It seems to me, if you look at the numbers, just arithmetic here, right
now, the government is taking in 15.7 percent of the GDP in the current
fiscal year and spending 22.9 percent of the GDP. Common sense tells us if
we`re going to get to 20, it seems like getting maybe to 20, maybe some
liberals want a bit more, conservatives want a bit less. You have got to
come in both directions. Your thoughts?


The problem, Chris, is we haven`t had long-term thinkers in Congress for a
long time. And if you really look at it, the last 30 years, we have lived
off the next 30. And the bill is due. I think the question is, is any
combination that gets us out of the problem that -- and onto a road of
recovering our economy and recovering the future for our kids is a good

But the point has to be is -- is, there`s no question we can have the rich
pay more, but that won`t solve our problem, and with that comes negatives.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

COBURN: The real problem is, is you got an entitlement system that`s out
of whack, and the demographics are exaggerating that. And you have had
discretionary spending increases.

You know, the budget of this country this year is twice what it was 11
years ago, and a good portion of that is discretionary. Some of it, $100
billion a year, is the war, but the rest of the government has grown. So
we have to do both. And we have to make sure that whatever we do does not
hurt us, but gets us on the way to recovery.

MATTHEWS: Let me get to Joe Klein on the politics of this.

My contention is, unless the liberal caucus led by Nancy Pelosi, a huge
majority of Democrats who are hard-core liberals, unless they see teeth
marks in the neck of Eric Cantor and Boehner, unless they see the president
has really gone in there and raised taxes on the rich, done something
significant, maybe not the 39.6 percent, but something that clearly bothers
those people, she ain`t getting nothing -- she`s not giving anything from
her end.

You have got to be tough on the tax front if you`re going to get any action
really along entitlement people. Your thoughts. That`s my view.

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, I think that that`s true, although I
think that what you`re going to have here is a centrist coalition where the
Republicans in the House are going to drop their Tea Party supporters, and
the Democrats may have to drop some of their more extreme, you know, the
people who think that we should have...


MATTHEWS: Does that get you 218?

KLEIN: Yes. You can...

MATTHEWS: Does that get you 218?

KLEIN: Of course.

Boehner could have gotten there if he`d been willing to drop the Tea Party
two years ago. I think that you will see a small uptick in marginal rates,
but you`re going to see haggling.


KLEIN: This is the return of politics.

And by the way, you have been saying there`s only one House Republican who
is for this. You know, Pete King just said it, but Scott Rigell from
Virginia took a courageous stand last year and defied Grover Norquist, and
there are others. I mean, Cantor is wavering now and I think that the
handwriting is on the wall.

MATTHEWS: Is this going to have to come through the leadership, this
deal on revenues, to basically challenge Norquist and the rigidity here,
Senator? Or can it be done around the edges where you have 100 votes from
both sides of the aisle and 50 votes from a combination of the Democrats
and Republicans in the Senate? Does it have to go through McConnell,
Boehner, Eric Cantor, et cetera?

COBURN: Well, there has to be a compromise. And the compromise has
to be -- you know, I disagree with you on rates because I think rates
ultimately hurt us. Reforming the tax code where the wealthy actually pay
more would actually help us collect revenues and also stimulate the
economy. And we shouldn`t lose sight of that --


COBURN: -- because we did that under Reagan with Tip O`Neill and
several others. We actually accomplished some great things for our country
where we had economic growth in excess of 4.8 percent for over four years.


COBURN: So we shouldn`t lose sight of the fact -- I don`t care which
way it comes.

But I think the important thing is to protect all the things that are
true. It is true we have a demographic problem and an entitlement problem.
It is true some of the very wealthy are very well-protected in terms of the
tax code. We need to eliminate that. It is true there`s going to come a
point in time where we can`t borrow any more money and interest rates are
going to skyrocket.

So, we need to merge all three of those. We need to leave our hats
in terms of our partisanship outside and come in and solve the problems for
the country.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you on the arithmetic.

And, Joe, that is the problem. We`re talking demographics here, not
Democrat versus Republican, but younger versus older. We are going to have
so many older people depending on these programs, compared to maybe two
worker bees to every retiree bee. That`s going to be tough for the kid
who`s working in their 20s, young couple trying to pay enough payroll taxes
to meet the needs of -- the living conditions and needs of a family in
their 70s and 80s.

KLEIN: I think, Chris, we have some real opportunities here now,
because Obamacare is going to be the law of the land. And if we have
universal health insurance, if everybody is covered, then you can raise the
retirement age for Medicare. Then you can have a system where, you know,
you can go up to 70 years old if -- if -- the Republicans cooperate and
really force a system of health care exchanges, these health care super
stores where you have real competition and you can drive down the premiums
that are charged to individuals and small businesses.

I mean, we`ve got -- we have a real opportunity here. This is a
great moment and, you know, I congratulate the senator for -- you know, for
the pioneering work that he`s done on this issue in the past.

MATTHEWS: You know, we have to go. But, Senator, I do want to
congratulate you for voting for Simpson-Bowles. You and people like Dick
Durbin, I have tremendous respect for you to stick your neck out and say
something that a lot of politicians won`t do. This isn`t perfect but it`s
where we have to go. We have to solve this problem.

Thank you so much for coming on.

COBURN: Thank you. You bet.

MATTHEWS: Senator Tom Coburn, who again my kids seem to love for
some reason. Thank you very much for coming on.

And Joe Klein of "Time" magazine.

Up next, can President Obama turn his voters into fighters? This is
going to be fascinating. I found out over the weekend how great this
ground game was down in Florida for the president to win the election. Can
he put this ground game to work to fight the fiscal cliff, to fight his
side of it?

Anyway, the HARDBALL story on that one is coming up right now -- the
place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, "The New York Times" has just listed "Jack Kennedy:
Elusive Hero", my book, on its best-seller list. It`s just happened this
week and it`s a big honor for the paperback edition. It arrived at
bookstores and airport newsstands as well this weekend.

It`s a great book of American heroism, the story of Jack Kennedy --
who he was when he lived, who led us, and, of course, who inspired us.
It`s a perfect upbeat gift for yourself or someone who shares our love of
history and American greatness.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back. And Republicans have always mocked the
president`s experience as a community organizer. Remember those laugh
lines back in 2008 at the convention? Here they are again.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: He worked as a community
organizer. What?

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I guess a small town mayor
is sort of like a community organizer except that you have actual


MATTHEWS: Well, as you see, the president`s experience as a
community organizer when he got out of law school helped him build one of
the most impressive on-the-ground campaign machines in modern American
politics and win two presidential elections. As "The New York Times"
reported today, the president`s team wants to use that energy in the
current fiscal cliff debate. Quote, "Mr. Obama`s aides are trying to
harness the passions that returned him to the White House, hoping to
pressure Republicans in Congress to accept tax increases on the wealthy."

How exactly will they do that? And will it be successful?

Joy Reid is managing editor of, and one of my favorites
around here. She`s at least as smart as I am -- which is not an accolade,
it`s a fact. And she`s much younger.

And Neera Tanden is the president for the Center for American

OK. What I found out this weekend -- and you know this, Neera,
better than I, I enjoy your report on this -- the Obama campaign wasn`t
some kumbaya number. It was incredibly organized political machine.

It wasn`t just on the computer. It wasn`t virtual. It`s real. It
was people meeting people, getting points for how many contacts you made
with voters, because they knew there`s a certain number of contacts led to
a certain probability of the guy voting, a person voting, incredibly hands
on, real people with real other people.

Can you turn that kind of incredible, old style, Tammany Hall machine
into something that can get the right kind of deal as we face this fiscal

president spent a year and a half developing a gigantic infrastructure that
really came out on Election Day. And he did that --


TANDEN: Through these kinds of direct contacts. But he also had an
argument in the campaign that brought those people out. And central to
that argument was that we need an economy that works for everyone, that
people need to pay their fair share.

MATTHEWS: So the key element of that as the president backslaps
Boehner there, the key element of that, Joy, what to do, is that there be
tax fairness -- the people at the top, who now get a tax break of about 5
percent, should not get that anymore because they don`t need it.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Right. Absolutely.

And even going back to what Neera was talking about. I mean,
basically, if you lived in Florida or Ohio, some of these key states from
2008 to 2012, Organizing for America never left. They were still there.
They were embedded.

And they have this system, where neighbors were convincing neighbors.
And it really was an impressive machine. Now, the trick is going to be if
the president and his team can solve this conundrum for Democrats, where
their come out strong in presidential years and then fades away which
leaves the opening for midterm elections --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I don`t like that. You don`t like that either, do

REID: It`s a longtime problem. It`s a big bug-a-boo for me that we
just see that younger voters, minority voters just go away.

MATTHEWS: Let`s put the shoe where it belongs here, on the
president`s foot. Leaders have to lead.

REID: Right.

MATTHEWS: He did get everybody to go vote. He got -- he inspired
people, he gave enough good speeches but if anybody says his policies are
what people got him to vote is where I`m at. And secondly, the vicious
personal attacks of his opponents, and ethnic attacks, helped a lot, too.
People said, I`m not going to be screwed out of my vote.

But how do you -- what should he do, Joy -- I mean, you`re not
supposed to be coaching the guy -- but what should he be doing in the next
couple of days and weeks to arm and weaponize, basically, the public
support that he has in the grassroots?

REID: Yes, I mean, I think the term bully pulpit is ay overused in
our politics. But I think the big lesson from first term to the second is
that Barack Obama has do the public performance of the presidency a lot
more. The first term, he was all about the wonkishness and getting the
policies done, but he didn`t seem to like to do the policy. He`s going to
have to get out, go around this country and keep that message going.


REID: He`s got the infrastructure to keep the neighbor to neighbor
presence going --

MATTHEWS: OK, we got an expert here.

REID: -- places in swing states, in Virginia, where the
congressional district.

MATTHEWS: Neera, you`re part of that world, the activist world. Do
you think he will do this? Or will he sit and watch it with Boehner in the
back room?

TANDEN: No. I mean, I think he recognizes you have to do both. And
I expect that over the next several weeks --

MATTHEWS: This is the time.

TANDEN: I expect that over the next several weeks, unless we have a
deal imminently, which I don`t think we will have, the president will get
out there.

MATTHEWS: You know what`s missing? You know what`s missing. I
interrupt here. You know what`s missing? Health care debate. No big
rallies for health care.

TANDEN: Right.

MATTHEWS: He could have jammed that through with a lot more
festivity and more excitement and bring out, if he had gotten the people
out on the streets, the labor unions, bring the steelworkers down, and
bring the auto workers -- get everybody down here and they never had a big

TANDEN: And I think he learned from that and I think he learned from
the payroll tax debate, or they`ve all learned, and we`ve all learned --
which is to say that you have to get the American people on your side, that
people on this issue agree with him.

You know, you have people here speaking about rate tax cuts and how -
- you know, the American people agree wholeheartedly with the president on
this issue and their feeling is it`s time for the wealthy to pay their fair
share and we can have a deal. But this was central to the general
election. It wasn`t something --

MATTHEWS: Let`s look at the full screen here, we got one right now.
We call them full screens, where we put numbers up. Here it is.

Look at what the exit polls showed -- 47 percent were clear, they
said they wanted to raise the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans. It`s
just about half. Another 13 percent says raise it on everybody. They`re
even tougher. Only 35 percent said they don`t want tax at all.

So, there are your thought, Joy, there is a majority. It`s not
overwhelming, but it`s there. A lot of people just say not to any tax
instinctively. But the fact is, the Democrats -- I think you`re dead
right. I think if there was -- besides, we want this person back in the
White House for four more years, rather than the other person was this
issue of tax equity.

REID: It was an issue of tax equity. It was very important to his
base that he gets those rates up on the top earners. That was what he

And look watch where the president shows up where he starts to
barnstorm. He`s got to go to Virginia where Eric Cantor has got to face
re-election in two years. He`s got to go to Boehner.

MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s wobbling. He`s wobbling.

REID: He`s wobbling, right? And you`ve got to go and you`ve got to
keep the pressure on, because the cross-pressure on people like Cantor and
Boehner is still that Tea Party base that doesn`t want them to do a deal on
taxes. He`s going to have to keep the pressure on them.

MATTHEWS: Maybe he should go out to the country club outside
Richmond. There`s a bunch of them out there -- to stand there and have a
little rally.

TANDEN: He should go into these states. Florida -- he should go to
Florida. He should go to Ohio. These are states where Republicans said
they were going to win and they lost and the president has a strong
argument to make right now which is, just fresh off his victory, this is
what he didn`t have in his first term. Here was this slope (ph). The
fiscal cliff allows him to make an argument now --

MATTHEWS: Let me give you all some math, ladies, 47 percent of the
country voted for Romney. Only 1 percent gets the benefit of all of these
tax cuts.

TANDEN: I know.

MATTHEWS: So, it`s 46 percent that can steal from the other side
right now.

Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid. Thank you, happy holidays already.

And thank you, Neera Tanden, as well to you. You`re coming around
this time of year. It`s a nice time of year.

When we return, let me finish with this Republican assumption that
they have a right to rule. It is really still new, that`s why they are
still stunned.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight where I started. What does it mean
when a group of people believe they have a right to rule? I`m talking
about a ruling class.

Back at our founding, the conviction that all men are created equal
had a number of caveats. That meant men, not women, or white men, not
black men and women. White men of property, not the indentured, not the
poor, not the workers depended on others hiring them, not the 47 percent,
if you will, of that day.

And here we are now well into the 21st century with a group of
Americans who still rally to the thinking of the Founding Fathers. Not the
wondrous liberal words, but the caveats, the exceptions to the shining
notion of equality, the very limited notion of who is to be included in the
ruling of the country, white men of property.

I don`t know how many of you or many people will say this or openly
think of this way anymore, but get your head around it. Why did, why do
the Romney people believe these weeks after the election that this is their
country to rule? There must be some unknown aspect of what just happened
that renders it meaningless to them.

You must think about this, because this is the reason why we saw what
we saw in the months of the election, the intensive state by state effort
to suppress the minority vote, the giant billboards warning minorities of
felony arrests, all to keep them from the voting booth, by hook or crook,
and why the equally outward attempt to scare and anger the white working
class through an endless onslaught against the person and background of one
person, Barack Obama.

Well, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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