December 7, 2012
Guests: Chad Griffin, Elizabeth Birch, Chrystia Freeland, Cynthia Tucker
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Gay marriage an American right?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" with this. Today, the United States Supreme Court said it
would take up the issue of same-sex marriage. This is an astounding moment
in American history and in the march of rights that began in Philadelphia
in the last quarter of the 18th century and continues through this first
quarter of the 21st.
Is it constitutional for a state to deny people of the same sex the right
to marry under the law? Well, let`s consider the 14th Amendment -- "Nor
shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due
process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protections of the laws."
And here`s Justice Kennedy, Anthony Kennedy, in his majority opinion in the
Lawrence case of 2003, which declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional.
Quote, "Does a statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to
engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violate the due process clause?
Yes. A statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage
in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the due process law."
Quote, "Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions.
Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of
self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain
intimate conduct. The defendants are adults, and their conduct was in
private and consensual." And quote, "To declare the issue as one related
to the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the
individual put forward."
So could it happen? Could it happen next year, that the Supreme Court
declares it unconstitutional to deny people of the same sex the right to
marry? What a question, what a story.
Joining me now is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin,
and gay rights advocate Elizabeth Birch.
Chad, I hope -- I set it up as best I could. I can`t write the majority
opinion next year, but think I know what it should look like. Your
CHAD GRIFFIN, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: I couldn`t have said it better,
Chris. It really is an incredible day today, that the Supreme Court is
taking the Prop 8 case, the Perry case, as well as the DOMA case.
And you know, look, when this case was filed almost four years ago, the
Prop 8 case, we made the case in court -- Ted Olson and David Boies made
the case in court that in this country, we don`t deny our citizens a
And the Supreme Court has called marriage a fundamental right no less than
14 times in the history of this country, and I`m optimistic that once the
court does hear this case and the DOMA case that they`re going to come down
on the side of freedom, liberty and equality, just as they have so many
times in our nation`s past.
MATTHEWS: And equal protection of the laws, as well.
GRIFFIN: That`s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Elizabeth, thank you for coming on. We haven`t seen you in a
ELIZABETH BIRCH, GAY RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Equal protection of the laws, liberty -- liberty`s a pretty
profound notion in this country.
BIRCH: It is.
MATTHEWS: Pursuit of happiness is our declaration.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
BIRCH: Well, here`s the thing. If you are gay and alive in our time in
America, we`re living in a kind of a policy and civil rights renaissance.
We have seen extraordinary leadership from other parts of government
We -- don`t we judge, Chris, presidents by whether they stand up to the
moment of history in which they live? We`ve seen President Obama step up
to this issue, gay marriage...
MATTHEWS: ... getting rid of "Don`t ask, don`t tell," now saying he won`t
BIRCH: Now getting -- and our military has even stepped up.
BIRCH: So now we`ve got...
MATTHEWS: Even the Marines are doing a great job of implementing...
BIRCH: Even the Marines are.
BIRCH: And now we`ve got to see, will the Supreme Court also keep pace in
our time with the other major institutions?
MATTHEWS: Count me as an optimist here. And I know there were questions.
I want -- Chad, you`re the expert, the head of HRC, and I`ve supported it
and my wife has for years -- HRC, the Human Rights Campaign. By the way,
you`ve a hell of a great name, the Human Rights Campaign. It`s just a
The liberty clause -- if you just get to the idea of 14th Amendment, the
rights are to liberty -- life, liberty and property cannot be denied to you
except through due process of law. You`ve got to do break a law to lose
your liberty. You have to do something wrong. It`s got to be a crime
you`re guilty of. You can`t just be denied liberty.
Your thoughts on that issue and how that can be used in the Constitution.
GRIFFIN: That`s exactly right. And there is no state interest to deny our
citizens and the plaintiffs in this case the fundamental right to marriage.
You know, Chris, oftentimes, we get lost a bit when we`re talking about
these things, talking about the politics and the law and -- but at the end
of the day, there are fundamental lives at stake.
You know, when we filed this case, Chris (ph) and Sandy (ph) and Jeff (ph)
and Paul (ph) had been together for 10 years. Now they`ve been together
for almost 12, over 12, 13 years. And Chris and Sandy`s twin boys were
just entering high school. When this case is heard, they`ll be getting
ready to graduate from high school.
Their moms deserve the same freedom to marry, just as everyone else has in
this country. And in this country, we don`t deny a certain portion of our
citizens a fundamental right. We just don`t. It`s not American.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it true that when we had this in the court, in the 9th, in
the appeal -- the appellate level, nobody came forward because nobody could
come up with what you`d call a justification, some compelling reason.
Just chat on that point. You raised it. There`s no compelling reason
against -- against giving the rights to people, the right to marriage.
GRIFFIN: That`s exactly right, Chris. It`s important to note in both of
these cases, the United States government has refused to defend DOMA, the
federal law that`s now before this court. And when we filed the case right
here in California, as one has to do, we sued the governor at the time,
which was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and our attorney general at the time,
which was Jerry Brown, the current governor.
Both responded by refusing to defend the case and ultimately joined our
side in the case and said that it was fundamentally an unconstitutional law
and they weren`t going to defend it. So the judge in our case, Chief Judge
Vaughn Walker, who wrote that historic ruling in this case, allowed the
intervening defendants, the proponents of Prop 8, to intervene and to
defend the case.
And when -- on the DOMA case, the -- a small group of folks on Capitol Hill
out of the House have come together and are defending it because the
federal government won`t.
GRIFFIN: At the end of the day, this is unconstitutional and everyone
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a day in history here. As we said, this could be a
major moment in the court`s history. Look at what Tom Goldstein of
Scotusblog -- this is a very respected blog...
MATTHEWS: ... wrote last week. Quote, "I have never before seen cases
that I believe would be discussed 200 years from now. Bush v. Gore and
"Obama care" were relative pipsqueaks. The government`s assertion of the
power to prohibit a loving couple to marry or to refuse to recognize such a
marriage is profound. So is the opposite claim, that five justices can
read the federal constitution to strip the people of the power to enact the
laws governing such a fundamental social institution."
You know, Elizabeth, it`s not like we`re talking about rock of ages, the
big surprise, because look at this. We`ve got nine states that have done
it. In this past election, which I think is very pivotal, four states did
it completely by popular vote.
BIRCH: For the first time.
MATTHEWS: No court ruling on rights, just public will.
BIRCH: Right. For the first time in 40 years in four states -- thanks to
the efforts of Chad and a lot of other people, for the first time, there
was a populist vote, and the people spoke. They have never spoken in favor
But there are really two ways. It`s also equal protection under the law,
and also that the court has found it to be a fundamental right. This is an
extraordinary, extraordinary time, and...
MATTHEWS: Let`s cut this in two. There`s two questions here. One is
DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. This administration will not defend it
in the courts. If that gets struck down, what does that say to cases
around the country where people have been allowed to marry in the same
gender? Chad, on that.
What happens it DOMA gets struck down by the court, 5-4 or whatever?
GRIFFIN: Yes, the ridiculously named Defense of Marriage Act would be
gone, obviously. And that...
MATTHEWS: Well, what would it mean to...
GRIFFIN: That would mean that...
MATTHEWS: ... a gay person who`s married?
GRIFFIN: That would mean that couples who are married in those states, as
well as the District of Columbia, their marriages would be recognized by
the federal government. Now, it would mean we`d still have a lot of work
to do, and depending on how they rule in the Prop 8 case, we would still
need other states to move forward with the right to marry.
GRIFFIN: But DOMA being gone...
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Social Security -- if you were -- if you were in
California, for example, and the appellate court is still upholding that
Prop 8 or holding it down or overruling it, if you`re in a state, for
example, Iowa, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, D.C., Maine,
Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington state -- if you`re in one of those
states and you`re married legally, that means you can have Social Security
GRIFFIN: That`s right.
BIRCH: You can.
GRIFFIN: Your marriage...
MATTHEWS: Under this -- if DOMA goes down.
BIRCH: But -- but you wouldn`t have it if you`re in Alabama.
GRIFFIN: That`s right.
BIRCH: So what happens if DOMA gets struck down? Really, you`re back to
circa 1996. What DOMA says is two things. One state does not have to
recognize the marriage law, same-sex marriage law, of another state. That
would be struck down. And then there would have to be another test as to
full faith and credit.
MATTHEWS: ... what that would mean? If you move from California...
MATTHEWS: ... to Utah and you`re getting the recognized marriage in
California but not in Utah, but in Utah, living in Salt Lake City, you`d be
able to get Social Security benefits and all the federal stuff.
BIRCH: You would -- it`s not clear.
GRIFFIN: It would depend on how the court rules in that case, Chris.
BIRCH: Right. They may...
BIRCH: If the court reaches the question of full faith and credit, what
that is, Utah must recognize the marriage laws of California, then, yes,
MATTHEWS: But you`d still be getting your Social Security checks, though,
BIRCH: No. You -- It`s not clear...
MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s not...
BIRCH: ... in most...
MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to a clear case.
MATTHEWS: If Prop 8...
MATTHEWS: If Prop 8 -- if the decision by the 9th, if the decision to
overrule that, to strike that down, if that is upheld, where do we stand?
What does that do? Is equality then the law of the land? Is marriage
equality the law of land?
GRIFFIN: Again, it would depend upon how the Supreme Court rules in that
case. If they uphold the ruling as it currently is by the 9th circuit
court of appeals, it would mean that -- it would immediately affect
California, and marriages would begin again here in this state. And it
would prevent any other state from granting a right and then revoking that
right, as California did.
But look, this court can also go back to Judge -- Chief Judge Vaughn
Walker`s ruling, which was a broad and sweeping victory that looked at
equal protection, and it was in the realm of Loving v. Virginia and Brown
But Chris, when you talk about DOMA and the impact of it, you don`t have to
look further than the plaintiff in that case, Edie Windsor. You know, the
ACLU brought that case with Edie Windsor. And Edie had been married to her
wife for 20 years. Got married in Canada, moved to New York, and
unfortunately, her wife passed away.
And you know what the government did when her wife passed away? They sent
her a tax bill for $300,000. They wouldn`t do that to you and your
wonderful wife, Chris, and they wouldn`t do that to other straight couples
in this country. It`s not fair.
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to -- let`s get really revolutionary now.
MATTHEWS: We only have a few minutes.
MATTHEWS: And wonder at (ph) the Supreme Court. I`m always -- wonder,
looking at Justice Kennedy...
MATTHEWS: ... maybe because he`s Irish -- I don`t know. I`m just kidding!
There`s something about him I find very interesting. I also find
BIRCH: And from California.
MATTHEWS: ... interesting, too. He`s from California.
MATTHEWS: If you look at the majority opinion in the case involving
Lawrence, Texas, which was about outlawing or basically declaring sodomy --
anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, he says not only in that court decision
that you can`t deny a person`s liberty in these cases to engage in intimate
conduct, but it`s about something bigger. Marriage is about -- not about
having constant sex, it`s about having a loving relationship.
MATTHEWS: It`s about people.
MATTHEWS: Right? Not organs.
MATTHEWS: It`s about -- now, let me get this...
GRIFFIN: It`s about family.
MATTHEWS: I want to get really big on this.
MATTHEWS: It`s about (INAUDIBLE) OK. You tell it your way. But if it
gets down to questions of liberty and equal protection of the law, these
fundamental things that they developed in Philadelphia in the old days...
MATTHEWS: ... back in the 18th -- those values, it seems to me, argue very
clearly for the right to choose your partner in marriage. Clearly. Now,
your thoughts on that, Chad. I think it`s such a -- to me, it`s a
stirringly fundamental issue we`re at here. It`s not about sexual mores.
It`s not about values about sexual conduct. It`s about the fundamental
right of a person to pursue happiness and define liberty their way and
define relationships their way that come to them basically because of who
they are. They don`t choose to be gay or whatever.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.
GRIFFIN: You`re absolutely right. In fact, that`s the only thing it`s
about. It`s actually the most simple of things that we could be talking
about. In this country, we deny a portion of our population the
fundamental right to marry the person they love because of who they are,
how we are born. Again, it`s un-American, and I believe that...
MATTHEWS: Tell that to Trent Lott.
GRIFFIN: Yes, well...
MATTHEWS: Tell that to these guys who think we have...
GRIFFIN: We`ve learned over the last few years we don`t write off anyone.
I mean, you look at Ted Olson and so many...
MATTHEWS: I`m with you, Chad.
GRIFFIN: ... Republicans and Democrats who have stood up with us on this.
MATTHEWS: Well, Joe was a great president. You look like a great
president right now, Chad. Thank you. Joe Solmonese was a great president
for years and my friend.
GRIFFIN: Indeed. Indeed.
MATTHEWS: You, too, sir. Thank you. It`s an honor to have you on and
your organization. Elizabeth Birch, it`s good to have you back. By the
way, we`re in a much bigger studio now.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: the Republican civil -- it`s going to be a big hit.
We`ll be covering this all year, by the way.
The Republican establishment`s at war with its crazy wing. They say they
lost the election because ideologues pulled Mitt Romney too far to the
right. That sounds reasonable. Wrong, says the right wing! We lost
because Mitt Romney wasn`t right-wing enough.
Well, the winner of this little tango will determine whether GOP moves to
the center, where it might find some votes, or becomes an even more fringy
Also, the fiscal cliff tonight. It`s down now to just two people.
Everybody seems to have agreed, two people get in a room, the president and
the leader of the opposition, John Boehner, the speaker. Should be
They may be closer, some argue, to an agreement than we think. And the
question is, can they sell the deal to their bases, to their fringies, left
and right, I must say.
Plus, Republicans say they would change after the election, and they are.
Guess what? They`re changing the rules. Or at least some of them are
proposing to Republicans in Pennsylvania and three other states Obama won.
They`re trying to eliminate the winner-take-all system of awarding
electoral votes. Why not? That way Republicans could win electoral votes
in states they lose. That`s a good deal!
And New Jersey governor Chris Christie finally meets his idol, New Jersey`s
most famous resident, the man he`s seen in concert more than 100 times.
The governor and the boss, Bruce Springsteen, coming up in the "Sideshow."
They`re friends now.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: In the costliest presidential election in U.S. history, the 2012
race saw not one but $2 billion spent. President Obama and Mitt Romney
each raised over a billion dollars apiece, and that`s just the campaigns
and party committees. The Obama camp raised $1.123 billion, while the
Romney camp spent $1.019 billion, just behind him. And when you add in the
spending by the super-PACs, those numbers go way up.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Here`s one of the easiest predictions
after any election, especially this one. The Republican Party would split
in two. On one side, you have the establishment Republicans, the John
Boehner, Mitch McConnell wing of the party. To them, the election was lost
because the conservative ideologues pulled Mitt Romney so far to the right
in the primaries, he could never find his way back to the middle in
On the other side is the right wing, Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum, the talk
radio conservative media-industrial complex. They make the same argument
ideologues always make when they lose. The problem to them is, Our guy
wasn`t ideological enough.
Well, the conflict is playing out in technicolor now, with DeMint bolting
the United States Senate to become the CEO of the conservative movement and
firing a warning shot at Boehner in the process.
Joining me right now are Michael Steele, the former head of the RNC and
MSNBC Analyst -- he`s one of us -- and Joy Reid, managing editor of
TheGrio.com. She`s also one of us.
Thank you, gentleman and lady. I want you to look at something now. This
is what happens when you got near what I call the misery index, the Rush
Limbaugh show. Yesterday, Jim DeMint, still the United States senator from
South Carolina, and the outgoing Heritage president, Heritage Foundation
president, Ed Fuelner, went on Rush, the misery index, as I called it, and
yuck-yucked about John Boehner. They made fun of the speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I have to say Boehner is not
forcing either of you guys out, right?
ED FUELNER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: That`s pretty true!
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It might work a little bit the other
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, "It might work a little bit the other
way"? Here`s an outgoing United States senator not being very outgoing
about the speaker of the House, saying he might lose his job because DeMint
is going to the Heritage Foundation? Explain that Rubik`s cube.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Actually, there`s
no connection there and...
STEELE: You know, that`s just...
MATTHEWS: So what`s he talking about?
STEELE: That`s just idle banter with Rush Limbaugh. In reality, the
speaker is going to be back in charge. He`s negotiating right now with the
president. The Republicans...
MATTHEWS: But why clip the speaker on the way by?
STEELE: Well, you know, look, it`s just -- it`s sort of setting the stage
for what`s to come. He`s going to go out -- he`s got a new platform. He`s
got an elevated voice, if you will. He`s not one of 100, he`s now really
representing a lot of conservative voices around the country.
But the thing to be careful about here is -- you know, you talked about the
split within the party. That split has been there for a while. It`s not
just after this election. It goes back a good number of years. And it`s
not about some ideological "I`m more conservative than you." It really is
trying to figure out and marshal together those core principles that really
revolve around the economic realities that this country has to face.
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the fight about?
STEELE: Well, the fight is about who gets to articulate it, who gets to
decide and make the...
MATTHEWS: That`s it? Just personnel?
STEELE: It`s not so much personnel as it is personality.
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Let`s step back on this. I want to bring
in Joy. Looking at it from across the aisle -- I know you`re more
progressive, to put it lightly. But here`s the story.
You`ve got DeMint out there running a candidate against Mitch McConnell, to
his right, almost beating him last time around, trying to move the party to
the right, selecting candidates in Sharron Angle and people like that, and
Ken Buck and some of the wackier ones like Christine O`Donnell or whatever,
all around the country, always trying to get somebody several notches to
the right of what we have in the Senate -- Bob Bennett, not right-wing
enough, Orrin Hatch, not right-wing enough, John McCain, not right --
they`re idea of right-wing is way. And the leader of them all is this guy
now who`s leaving the Senate.
How do you see it?
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, I totally agree.
I think this is the place where the conservative movement and the
Republican Party oftentimes part ways. And Jim DeMint has been the burr in
the bonnet of Mitch McConnell, who people on the left think of as this
hard-right intransigent guy, because he said his top priority was making
Barack Obama one-term president, but really Mitch McConnell in a lot of
ways like John Boehner.
He`s an old-time deal-maker. He`s an old-fashioned pol.
REID: And people like Jim DeMint can`t stand people like that. They feel
that the party has become too easy to capitulate.
Remember back with the Budget Control Act where Democrats were just
screaming bloody murder and thought the president had capitulated? Well,
guess what? On the far right they thought that John Boehner and Mitch
McConnell had capitulated and lost that negotiation.
REID: They want the party further and further to the right. And what
DeMint specializes in doing is finding candidates to primary other
Republicans and to try to push the party further and further to the
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that?
STEELE: No, I think that there`s some truth to that. What is interesting
to me is that during the Bush years, where were all these voices when all
the spending was going on?
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. He wasn`t vetoing a single...
STEELE: There`s a certain level of disingenuousness there. And that`s why
I said you have to be careful in making these broad-brush...
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you a question. If you were back at your old
job, RNC chair -- you may be there again for all I know -- how would you
umpire this thing?
Would you go to DeMint and his crowd who are now moving to the outside to
sort of build their sort of logger out there to fight the establishment, or
would you say, wait a minute, the future of the Republican Party is dead-
center conservative, it`s not fringy, it`s not John Birch, it`s not going
over to this crowd?
STEELE: Well, I would remind them, look, we`re a center-right party, very
much like the country. And so...
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t agree with that.
REID: Yes, I don`t agree with that.
MATTHEWS: The country is not center-right.
STEELE: The country is center-right.
MATTHEWS: It just voted. It just voted for Obama.
STEELE: That`s another show. We will have that conversation.
But the country is center-right in large measure.
MATTHEWS: Well, we can`t have another -- we can`t have another arithmetic
system. Obama got more than 50 percent.
STEELE: This is not about the math. This is about the facts and the
realities on the ground.
MATTHEWS: Oh, the facts, not the numbers.
STEELE: And that`s what -- but that`s the numbers -- 51 percent of the
people identify themselves as pro-life. I would say that`s a little
center-right. But the reality of the...
MATTHEWS: No, they support the right -- they don`t support outlawing...
STEELE: ... do another show.
MATTHEWS: They don`t believe in outlawing abortion. They just support
life. There`s a big difference.
STEELE: And they self-identify as pro-life. So, now, let`s move on. The
point is this.
MATTHEWS: No. I can`t move on.
REID: A personhood amendment failed in Mississippi.
MATTHEWS: When it comes down to the law, the people are pro-choice. When
it comes to values, they may be...
MATTHEWS: ... against abortion.
REID: A personhood amendment failed in Mississippi. Let`s just get that
MATTHEWS: OK. By the way, we got to -- we can`t go any further, Michael.
I respect you so much.
You have just said the country is a center-right country and your evidence
of that is that Obama won?
STEELE: No, that`s your evidence.
MATTHEWS: Well, what evidence do you have that it`s center-right?
STEELE: What I`m talking about is on those issues that the conservative
movement are going to be talking to the country about...
MATTHEWS: Taxing the rich? They`re against that?
STEELE: There are individuals -- there are individuals out there that they
can appeal to.
And my point is more broadly speaking that you cannot lump this movement --
what DeMint is doing and saying that all this of gaggle of conservatives
are now going to be following behind it.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that part.
STEELE: I`m saying that the split is much more than you think it is within
the party. And so that`s got to be reconciled, to be honest about it.
It`s got to be reconciled.
And to your point and your question about what would I say, I would say,
look, understand where the country is.
MATTHEWS: You`re center-right. And you think the country is like you.
STEELE: Understand where the country is, and that`s where you need to be.
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
OK, look, on Rush Limbaugh`s show yesterday, DeMint -- that`s the senator
from South Carolina who just quit -- said conservatives` problem is not
their message. Their problem is getting the message out. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the problem is, as
conservatives, we have not taken enough control of our message and our
ideas and communicated them directly to the American people. That`s what
we want to do at Heritage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Don`t you love the way he chews on that stogie? Let me add --
not that there`s anything wrong with it.
MATTHEWS: Joy, you`re back here again. Every party that loses an
election, the ideological wing of that party always says, you didn`t get
your message across, if they only could hear clearly what you were saying.
MATTHEWS: Do you buy that?
REID: Yes, it`s the packaging.
REID: And you know what? Jim DeMint has been saying this for a long time.
It`s not what`s in the box. It`s the packaging.
And look at what he did with Marco Rubio. This is a perfect study in what
Jim DeMint specializes in. You take a guy who is himself Latino, and you
say to Latinos, look at this guy. He`s brown like you. But when he starts
to speak, he has to say the same doctrinaire script and stay party line.
He has to be against the DREAM Act. He has to be doctrinaire on
Remember, Marco Rubio was for privatizing Social Security. Remember that?
He`s for all the same stuff that the American people over and over again
have rejected idea-wise, but he can put it in a nicer package. That`s what
Jim DeMint has been trying to say.
MATTHEWS: How do you say self-deportation in Spanish?
REID: I don`t think there`s a term for it.
STEELE: I won`t go there.
STEELE: But I think to Joy`s point -- and she makes a good one -- that I
think the reality for the GOP right now is, it`s no longer about the
packaging. It really is about the substance of the argument.
MATTHEWS: So, it`s a center-right party, back to your strong point.
It`s about the substance of the arguments you have to make to the American
people. And we can disagree or agree on whether the country is center-
right or center-left, but the fact of the matter is, we need to be wherever
the country is, that sweet spot, to have that conversation.
MATTHEWS: OK. Can I give you some advice?
MATTHEWS: Run Christie. Thank you.
STEELE: You got it.
MATTHEWS: Because Chris Christie against Hillary Clinton would be one of
the great, fun races in history.
STEELE: It would be a barn-burner of an election, yes.
MATTHEWS: One person is very careful, very professional. The other guy is
a little wild swinger. You never know what he`s going to do, overweight,
the whole thing. Wow, what an election.
STEELE: It would be good. It would be good.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Steele.
STEELE: All right.
MATTHEWS: Happy weekend, Joy Reid.
Relax this weekend, both of you.
REID: Will do.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Speaking of Chris Christie, he gets what he`s wanted
his whole life. This guy is a regular guy in some ways. That`s ahead.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."
First, Governor Chris Christie, as I said, is an outrageous Bruce
Springsteen fan. He`s been to over 100 of the Boss` concerts, but self-
proclaimed liberal Bruce himself hasn`t returned the love, until lately.
Last night, Christie told Jon Stewart about meeting Springsteen at the NBC
telethon for Hurricane Sandy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I was on the stage afterwards talking
to Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg. And then, all of a sudden, they were
looking behind me. They moved away and stopped talking.
CHRISTIE: So I turned around, and there he was.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": And there he was.
CHRISTIE: There he was.
STEWART: And he gave you...
CHRISTIE: And he came up and he put his hand out. And so I shook his
hand. I tried to be cool.
CHRISTIE: I wasn`t.
CHRISTIE: And then he said, come on, give me a hug. And I said, all
CHRISTIE: And I hugged him, and...
STEWART: And then did he go, come on, stop, let me go?
CHRISTIE: No. You know, that`s always hard to judge, right?
STEWART: Yes, yes, yes.
CHRISTIE: When do you stop the man hug?
CHRISTIE: That`s hard. But...
STEWART: Did you give him a -- you got to give also this, the pat, or did
you just go slow dance?
CHRISTIE: No, I went slow dance.
STEWART: You have got to be kidding me.
CHRISTIE: I did. I went slow dance. I did.
STEWART: No pat?
CHRISTIE: No pat. I went slow dance.
CHRISTIE: But -- but then he said the most amazing thing to me. He said:
"It`s official. We`re friends."
STEWART: Oh, wow.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: That`s nice. That`s nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sounds like getting a knighthood, a Jersey knighthood.
Next, remember this from the final days of the presidential campaign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I will come on morning
Joe and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right. Our old friend and Obama adviser David
Axelrod was so confident President Obama would win Pennsylvania, Michigan,
and Minnesota, he bet his own mustache. Well, Obama won those states, but
Axe soon turned the bet into a challenge with Joe to raise money coined the
Slash the Stache for epilepsy research.
He`s championed that cause in support of his daughter, who suffers from the
condition. Thanks to Joe and Mika, they met their goal of $1 million
raised and Axe lived up with his pledge. Here is "Morning Joe" today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MORNING JOE")
AXELROD: Well, I have been staring at it for 40 years, Savannah. I`m very
attached to it. It`s a little -- I was up all night, to be honest with
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, good lord.
AXELROD: It`s a little unsettling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here you can see side by side before and after footage of
Axe. What do you think? A little dark on that left side.
Lastly, lots of speculation about whom South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
will pick to fill Jim DeMint`s Senate seat. Our pal Stephen Colbert put
his mind to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": But who will she pick?
Let`s see, you want somebody young, somebody conservative, somebody from
South Carolina, maybe somebody who had a super PAC.
COLBERT: Wait a second.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: Watch where you point that thing. It`s powerful.
I know when I look at the U.S. Senate, I say to myself, you know what they
could use? Another white guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the governor responded on her Facebook page, saying:
"Stephen, thank you for your interest in South Carolina`s U.S. Senate seat
and for the thousands of tweets you and your fans sent me, but you forget
one thing, my friend. You didn`t know our state drink. Big, big mistake."
Well, she was referring to this from earlier this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What`s the state drink?
COLBERT: There`s a state drink?
HALEY: It`s milk.
COLBERT: I didn`t realize my state was so boring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it makes me think I`m going to like the person she picks a
lot less than I do Steve Colbert.
Coming up: the fiscal cliff. If it`s down -- down to just President Obama
and John Boehner deciding this, what does a win look like to both sides?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
A new jobs report well-received on Wall Street, as the Dow closed up 81
points, the S&P gained four, and the Nasdaq slipped 11 points.
Overall, positive reaction to the 146,000 new jobs added in November.
Cynics warn, though, that the number doesn`t tell all.
Meantime, the Nasdaq was dragged down by Apple`s 2 percent drop. Apple`s
stock formed the infamous death cross, where the 50-day moving average
falls below the 200-day.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, this isn`t a
progress report because there`s no progress to report. When it comes to
the fiscal cliff that`s threatening our economy and threatening jobs, the
White House has wasted another week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Speaker Boehner`s downbeat assessment today of fiscal
negotiations. He went on putting blame squarely on the president. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: This president has adopted a deliberate strategy to slow-walk our
economy right to the edge of the fiscal cliff. It`s time for the
president, if he`s serious, to come back to us with a counteroffer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Shortly after, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put the Plame
back on Republicans. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The only obstacle
standing in the way of middle-income tax relief are the Republicans`
unwillingness to ask the top 2 percent to pay their fair share.
This is a moment of truth. The clock is ticking. Christmas is coming, the
goose is getting fat, but in many homes across America, it`s very, very --
a very, very lean time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And today`s jobs report showing 146,000 jobs added in November
and unemployment dipping to 7.7 percent may give the president some
leverage in negotiations with Boehner.
But while the president and Speaker Boehner are both negotiating for a win,
what is a win for each of them? What adds up to this complexity of getting
a deal done?
Chrystia Freeland is editor at large for Reuters author of "Plutocrats."
Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and a visiting prof,
professor, I should say, professor, of journalism at the University of
Thank you, ladies, for joining us tonight.
Well, let`s try to see if we can define terms, because we`re all in this --
it`s a game. It`s also incredibly high-stakes.
Chrystia, thanks for coming on tonight. And your expertise here will
really help us.
If you were the president of the United States right now and you are
looking from here to the new year and the cliff, what do you hope is a win?
What do you think is a win for you to be able to go into the new year
having gotten this off your back?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, GLOBAL EDITOR AT LARGE, REUTERS: Well, I think a win
for the president is actually pretty clear.
What the president wants is to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle
class. He wants them to expire for those at the very top. And I think the
president is actually willing in that context to agree to pretty
significant cuts in revenue. So, you know...
MATTHEWS: You mean cuts in entitlements?
FREELAND: Yes, yes, exactly, cuts in government spending -- sorry.
FREELAND: You know, so I think that you -- I think that that is OK for the
I think what is difficult and why you`re seeing this being a really
difficult negotiation for John Boehner is, it`s much harder to define a win
for John Boehner. You know, is a win, you know, holding absolutely fast?
Is a win saying, you know, great, we were the party that managed to cut
Social Security for the middle class? That`s going to be pretty hard to go
into another election with.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You know, do you agree with that assessment that
it`s easier for the president, Cynthia, because he basically wins on taxes.
He`s the Robin Hood, if you will, of this issue. He`s looking out for the
regular people against the people on the top.
And on the other side he`s saying, OK, you Republicans, you can be the
Scrooges this winter and you can be the ones cutting the benefits for old
people and sick people. I have to go along with it. But you`re forcing me
to do it, so you`re the bad guys.
So I think I agree with Chrystia. Chrystia, this is basically a setup if
there is a deal for the president.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: Well, I do think that the president
would certainly get a big win with the middle class tax cut piece of this
which I think is going to pass, whether it passes by the first of the year
is another matter, but I think he`ll get that piece of it.
But I think it will be more difficult for the president`s party to see his
agreement to making big cuts in entitlement spending as a win.
TUCKER: Let`s remember that the progressive coalition was strengthened in
this election. We have more progressives in office than we did -- there
will be more of them in Congress in January than there are in Congress now.
And progressives already think that President Obama is too willing to sell
them out in these negotiations.
So while I think the president is very dedicated to this idea of grand
bargain two, you know, yes, if I can get increased revenues, higher taxes
on the wealthy, I will certainly agree to some serious entitlement cuts.
Whether he can get the backing from his party, whether they will also see
it as a win for him is quite another matter, I think.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get back to the pressure on them both, objective
pressure on both of them. If we do get to the 31st of this month without
any deal, who`s that tougher on, Chrystia?
FREELAND: I think it`s much tougher on the Republicans and on John
Boehner, which is why I think they`re in such a difficult position right
now. And the reason I think it`s tougher is, you know, sort of game theory
or negotiation theory. If, you know, we dive off the fiscal cliff or, you
know, maybe a more appropriate metaphor is we walk gently off of the fiscal
beach, that puts the Republicans in a much more difficult negotiating
All of a sudden, the president can go out, you know, on January 1 and say,
look, I am in favor of tax cuts for the middle class. Your taxes have gone
up because of the Republicans. What kind of a crazy party is this which is
standing in the way of tax cuts, right? We thought that was what the
Republican -- their job is to cut taxes.
So I think the president has a very good hand of cards right now.
MATTHEWS: But on the other hand, Chrystia, doesn`t the president have to
get certain things done positively? Doesn`t he want to keep the payroll
tax cut continuing? Does he really want to take all those cuts in domestic
and defense spending?
Aren`t there some things he really thinks will hurt the economy over which
he`s the steward right now? Does he want a second depression? No. A
TUCKER: It will hurt the economy. I mean, I agree with Chrystia entirely.
I think the short-term pressure is much more on John Boehner, that he has -
- if we go to the first of the year and taxes have gone up on everybody, I
think that people will largely blame the Republicans for that, as think
Having said that though, the longer this goes on, the more likely it is
that it puts the economy in a second recession, and heaven knows that`s the
last thing that Obama wants.
TUCKER: So, the pressure on Obama may not be immediate, but it is there.
Let`s remember, by the way, Chris, I think it`s always important to remind
people, your viewers, what we`re talking about here. If we all end up
diving off this fiscal cliff, it doesn`t make the deficit worse. It makes
the deficit better. It would go a long way toward curing the deficit.
TUCKER: But the deficit isn`t the immediate problem for most people, the
weak economy is.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
TUCKER: And if we dive off the fiscal cliff, the economy could get much
weaker. That`s a problem for --
MATTHEWS: By the way --
TUCKER: -- millions of Americans. It`s a problem for Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Just to back you up, I really think the great thing is the
economy is just starting to lift up. The unemployment rate is really
starting to come down. We`re getting good job production. We don`t want
to ruin by this behavior by politicians.
Anyway, thank you so much, ladies, for coming on tonight. Chrystia
Freeland and Cynthia Tucker, thanks for the sharp thinking we got tonight.
Up next, if you can`t win by the rules, change then. That`s what
Republicans are trying to do in Pennsylvania. They don`t like the
Electoral College because it didn`t work for them.
Come back for the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: When you`re out at the stores this weekend, pick up a copy of my
book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero." It`s high now on "The New York Times"
bestseller list. It`s a perfect stocking stuffer for HARDBALL fans who`ve
treasured JFK`s legacy.
It`s a great American story filled with high ideals and romance. It will
take you into different time, a different man, a different American. And
if you`re like me, you will love it.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There`s a potentially big electoral story developing in Pennsylvania that
you need to hear about. The state`s 20 electoral votes went for President
Obama this year, of course, as is the case in all but two states. The
winner of a state`s popular vote takes all its electoral votes.
Well, now, a Republican leader in the state of Pennsylvania -- or the
commonwealth I should say -- wants to change the rules of the game. State
Senate Majority Leader Dominick Pileggi announced this week that he plans
to introduce legislation in Harrisburg to change how the state allocates
its electoral votes. According to "Mother Jones" magazine, the new rule
would divvy up the vote proportionally based on the percentage of the vote.
So, instead of getting, say, 20, a winner in a typically closely divided
state result might get 11 or 12 votes. Why does he want to change the
rules? Could it be because the state has gone for the Democratic candidate
in a very single presidential for the last 20 years?
This could turn into one nasty political battles if Republicans go through
For now, we turn to David Corn of "Mother Jones" magazine, which is very
hot this year. He`s also the author of the e-book, "47 Percent". We also
have Ron Reagan, an MSNBC political analyst, joining us.
Thank you, gentlemen.
I want to start with Ron on this -- because I think you have the right
sense to go with this kind of thing. Why would they want to change the
electoral count in the state like Pennsylvania? Why would they go against
the unit rule of bloc vote? Why would they do that?
RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the Republicans have
examined the playing field as it were and through long and bitter
experience, they have come to the conclusion that is it is very difficult
for them to win on a national level unless -- unless they cheat. So they
are going to cheat any way that they can.
I mean, we saw it in the vote suppression efforts in this last election.
That didn`t work out so well. So let`s just change systemically the way we
count the votes and in particularly in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, like that. These are the battleground states
that we need to win and we`re narrowly losing them now, so let`s at least
try to get some of the Electoral College votes out of this state --
MATTHEWS: You are on to something.
REAGAN: -- and maybe tip the election.
MATTHEWS: Ron -- I`m with Ron before he even knows I`m with him. You know
why I was with him? It is not about the voter suppression.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Sure.
MATTHEWS: In the outer counties of Pennsylvania, the 60-some counties that
always go Republican, they can`t stand the fact that Philadelphia and
Pittsburgh, large urban population -- minority populations, they just can`t
stand that fact that that affects the statewide results. So I`ve got an
idea. Why don`t we divide it up? So we get a chunk anyway if we lose the
CORN: And, you know, they`re doing this obviously, just in those cities
that would benefit the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Like Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York -- at least
where you have a large big city and a lot of minorities, they like to cut
CORN: And the thing is, I don`t know if every American realizes this --
there are no rules in the Constitution about picking electors to the
Electoral College. Every state gets to say --
MATTHEWS: So, why do they do it the same way, all of them? Because they
must be kind of a rationale.
CORN: I think it kind of became the consensus position over time. That,
you know, winner takes all. Now, if you wanted to do the system, you could
make the argument that you should divide off electoral votes by population
in every state. That would be fair if you did that in every state, in
which case it would reflect the popular vote.
But that`s not what they are doing here and they tried to do this before
this election and even a more weighted way. If you win the congressional
district, you get the electoral from that district and under that
situation, Obama winning Pennsylvania would have gotten seven out of the 20
electoral votes. But they pulled away from that.
MATTHEWS: Let me suggest -- Ron, if you`re in a minority community, it
seems that you want it the way it is now because you have leverage in big
states like Michigan, from Detroit, for example. Or Philadelphia, on a
statewide election, or Chicago.
If it was just every person and you didn`t give that bloc vote power to
people, they would permanently be in a minority because they are minority -
- and, you know numerically. And permanently really out of power, because
you could just go out and look around for other votes. That`s a thought.
REAGAN: That`s exactly right. I mean, forget about portioning electoral
votes based on the popular vote. What if we just went to a national
popular vote? That would be the last thing the Republicans would want.
They really would never win the White House if we had a national popular
They seem to think that people who live in cities are like some kind of
strange alien. They`re not really American. That the only votes that
count are in small burbs, and, you know, in the rural areas or something.
MATTHEWS: Hamlets. Hamlets.
REAGAN: Most Americans live in cities.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORN: That`s exactly what Paul Ryan said after the end of the --
MATTHEWS: The urban vote.
CORN: We would have done well, we would have won if it wasn`t for the
urban vote, which is most people.
MATTHEWS: Here`s Dominick Pileggi`s rationale for the move. Here he is,
his point of view, quote, "Anyone who voted for Governor Romney and many
Pennsylvanians did, does not have any reflection of that vote in the
Electoral College vote. This is a proposal that`s not party specific or
partisan in any way, but just an attempt to have the popular vote reflected
in the Electoral College vote."
You know, the argument -- and you can argue about whether we should have
electoral vote or not. That`s an argument that a lot of my liberal friends
are against it, too. They`d like to see it go popular. The idea is to get
people to spend time in the big states instead of, you know, just racing
around the country and the whole thing. There are arguments back-and-
forth, but this one has the look of partisanship.
Your thoughts, Ron, on this -- this proposal?
REAGAN: Clearly, this is partisanship. The Republicans know they cannot
win nationally in an honest election. If everybody was eligible to vote in
this country votes in the national election, Republicans never win. So,
they are looking for ways to control that -- to coral people in certain
districts or to keep them from voting. And this is just an extension of
that effort. Absolutely, it`s partisan.
CORN: You know, of course, the Republicans are fighting, as we`ve
discussed, a really very big demographic tide that`s not going in their
direction. I still think they can win elections in the future with the
right candidate versus the wrong candidate, the Democrats (INAUDIBLE), it`s
not good. But the tide`s against them.
MATTHEWS: Or any incumbent in bad time.
CORN: Yes. What they have to do is not -- you know, cheat, but they are
looking for schemes. They can do this with dark money as well. They can
do it with voter suppression and the gap is still narrow enough that if you
sort of get enough schemes going in different fronts and different states,
maybe you can cobble together a victory next time.
Eventually, that`s going to be harder for them to do but this is about the
next four, eight years and they are looking to where they can go.
MATTHEWS: It`s like in the old days of Lebanon, they have a 1930 census.
So they could keep the Christians in equal numbers as the Muslims.
MATTHEWS: It`s not a bad effort, but it didn`t work.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Ron Reagan.
When we return, let me finish with the fight for freedom for all. What a
big news today, the Supreme Court is taking up marriage equality. What a
And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. Will America, this country of
ours, be one of those places on Earth where people of the same sex can
marry? Will it?
Some day, I`d say. Why? For a very American reason? Freedom, liberalism,
whatever you call it, generally wins out in this country.
It can take a long time. History shows the important fights, the important
rights do take time -- time for the right to settle into the country`s
conscience. It took time for be abolition of slavery, time for women
suffrage, time to end Jim Crow, time to end "don`t ask, don`t tell."
And here we go again into that tunnel of time debating -- yes, honest
reflection, out of which comes a freer, more liberal America. That`s the
way it`s been and here I think the way it will be.
So, sursum corda. Keep the faith.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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