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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

February 13, 2013

Guests: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Dana Milbank, Patrick Meehan, Mark Glaze, Bill Bratton

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Obama and his enemies.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this powerful fact of life. Elections matter.
Thanks to 2000 and the Supreme Court, we got W and we got the Iraq war.
Without the first, we wouldn`t have gotten the second. Last November, we
reelected Barack Obama, and last night, we got a progressive State of the
Union. Elections matter.

And listen to the slam-bang reaction. The president pushed for modest
liberal government last night, a push to rebuild America, starting with our
bridges out there, a push for a $9-an-hour minimum wage, a push for gun
safety, a push for real immigration reform, a decision to end the war in
Afghanistan by the end of next year, and most important, and commitment to
progressive government itself. We`ll talk about smoking out your
adversaries. Nothing states (ph) the obvious (ph) the failure of serious
opposition like today`s puny, close to pathetic reaction from the other

Tonight, the crazed unequal day (ph) of Republican rage we saw and heard
here in Washington, this large but unmistakable declaration of how small
has become this country`s right-leaning opposition -- small, squeaky and
even spiteful.

I`m joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar and NBC`s political director and chief
White House correspondent Chuck Todd.

Senator, I have to bring you into this, but first of all, 17 years ago,
another president, another Democratic president, famously made this
pronouncement about the role of government in America.


American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And
we have to give the people one that lives within its means. The era of big
government is over.



MATTHEWS: Last night, this president, Barack Obama, gave a strong defense
of the role government plays and he once again criticized Republicans who
say we must balance the budget through cutting government services alone.
Take a listen.


make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just
the few.

Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the
deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, mostly through spending cuts, but also
by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

We can`t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire
burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest
and the most powerful.

Most Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents, understand that we
can`t just cut our way to prosperity.


MATTHEWS: Senator, thank you for joining us tonight. It seems to me there
was a statement there from the president which is clearly distinguished
from the statement President Bill Clinton made in an attempt to get
positioned for reelection back in `96. He wasn`t apologetic. He was
positive about the role of government last night. And it got a backlash
today from the other side.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, it doesn`t surprise me it got a
backlash, Chris, but I think it was the best State of the Union that
President Obama has ever given. He was intimate with Congress. He looked
at us in the face. He said, This is what we have to do. He started right

I remember sitting in my chair, thinking, Wow he just started right in on
the economy, what needs to be done. We didn`t even have copies of the
speech, just simply a point-by-point agenda.

And part of the beauty of not having the speech is no one read it ahead of
time to figure out when they should stand of what was happening, and you
had that powerful moment at the end, when the entire Congress was standing.
Whether they agreed with what he was saying about victims of gun violence,
there was this moment where people said, yes, we should have a vote. He
didn`t say, You have to vote with me. He said, These people deserve a

So I think the speech was a bread-and-butter speech about a very clear
economic agenda for the country. I didn`t see it as a caustic speech. I
didn`t see it as a divisive speech. There weren`t words in it that were --
to me seemed fairly partisan. They were simply words that said, Let`s get
this done. Let`s get this going.


KLOBUCHAR: We need to reduce our debt in a balanced way, but we also have
to move forward as a country to compete in this global economy.

MATTHEWS: Well, Chuck`s here, as well, Chuck Todd. Let`s look at this.
Here`s the Republican reaction we were mentioning there, and it was out in
force today, knocking the president`s address. Senator Majority Leader --
actually, Minority Leader still, Mitch McConnell, said the speech was full
of recycled liberal talking points. Let`s listen to the senator.


together the country instead became another retread of lip service and
liberalism. For a Democratic president entering his second term, it was
simply unequal to the moment. Following four years of this president`s
unwillingness to challenge liberal dogma, we got more of the same.


MATTHEWS: Well, Speaker John Boehner dismissed the president`s proposal to
raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Let`s listen to the speaker.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Listen, I`ve been dealing
with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I`ve been in
elective office. And when you raise the price of employment, guess what
happens. You get less of it. At a time when the American people are still
asking the question, Where are the jobs, why would we want to make it
harder for small employers to hire people?


MATTHEWS: You know, Chuck, last night reminded me of high school debating.
It was the same old arguments. I mean, I`m not putting them down
necessarily, but what we heard from Senator Rubio and we just heard Boehner
-- Let`s go fight over minimum wage. These are the kind of debating things
you had in high school.


MATTHEWS: The evils of minimum wage?

TODD: This is where -- this is where you look at this -- and I look at
this speech as a political document. And you look at the -- minimum wage
is a 65 percent approved item.

MATTHEWS: Did he intend to smoke them out?

TODD: The -- the -- when you look at universal pre-K, that`s a 65 percent
approval. When you look at the idea of having high schools, you know, get
more skill -- teach more academic skills, these are 65 percent ideas.

And it`s very similar to the sort of -- the okeyoke (ph), if you will, or
that Bill Clinton would pull on Republicans back in the late `90s. He
would put out these, and they`d all sit there -- Hey, they seem small-bore,
they seem liberal...


MATTHEWS: School uniforms.

TODD: ... all this stuff. And yet it`s what average people around the
kitchen table are thinking, Well, you know what? Geez, universal pre-K --
I wish I could do that. I can`t afford this private school...


TODD: ... and I`m not poor enough to qualify for assistance and get my kid
in this school.

And you go through this whole thing -- and so if Republicans find
themselves where they`re letting the president talk about kitchen table
issues and have that conversation on his own, and they`re not having -- so
the minimum wage is a classic thing.


TODD: They`re going to end up on the -- looking like they`re on the wrong
side because there`s an argument that the minimum wage is sort of like the
payroll tax cut. It`s actually a way to put stimulus into the economy
because what happens when you have lower-income people, you give them more

MATTHEWS: And they spend it all.

TODD: ... they spend it all.


TODD: They spend it -- so there`s a -- some economists who sit there and
say, You know what? You want to stimulate consumerism, give lower-income
people more money.

MATTHEWS: You know, Senator, you`re an expert because you deal with people
all the time, but it seems to me this is an easy way to smoke out your
opponents and prove that they`re once again the elite party.

More people would like to see people get the minimum wage than (ph) people
who have to pay it. I mean, obviously, there`s only -- relatively
speaking, there are fewer employers out there than there are employees, and
every union member, man or woman, wants to see the minimum wage go up
because that means their wages will get jacked up a bit. It happens that

KLOBUCHAR: Well, the things the president talked about last night are
things people are talking about at the dinner table. They`re talking about
how, Are we really going to be able to afford to send our kid to college?
Are we really going to be able to afford to pay off these loans? Can we
actually buy a house and make the down payment? The fact he even went into
the mortgage issue and making it easier for people to refinance their homes
-- that`s what I loved about this speech.

And I also liked the fact that he raised many issues where there`s
bipartisan work (ph) already. You can`t deny it -- immigration reform,
energy independence, the fact that he was able to celebrate how far we`ve
come and talked about the oil drilling, as well as the renewables.

So I think there was a lot of good things in this speech that could bring
people together. I`m not surprised by the reaction today.

But I think one thing you have to note is in the chamber last night, it
wasn`t incredibly partisan. There weren`t boos. There weren`t yells.
People were listening intently. And I think they know we have to move
forward as a nation.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Politico newspaper (ph) called last night`s State of
the Union an aggressive speech. Quote, "For all the talk about bipartisan
cooperation, Obama couldn`t have been clearer. He`s confident his agenda
has popular support. He`s not going to compromise too much, and he`s
prepared as much time going around the country now pressing his case as
it`ll take."

Well, to that end, the president was in Asheville, North Carolina, today,
where he pushed his manufacturing policies, and he made sure to call out
Congress on that point. Let`s watch him in Asheville today.


OBAMA: Now, I`m doing what I can just through administrative action, but I
need Congress to help. I need Congress to do their part.


OBAMA: I need Congress to do their part. I need Congress to take up these
initiatives because we`ve come too far and worked too hard to turn back


MATTHEWS: You know, there`s a preacher aspect to the president, repeating
himself, you know, almost...


MATTHEWS: ... black church, a kind of a -- we had repetition. Last night,
I was watching it, that cadence, repetition, repetition. What`s that

TODD: I just would just say that there was a whole sense of -- he seems --
he seems more confident than we`ve seen him in a while. This was -- I
mean, look at the previous State of the Unions. Each one came at a time
when he was a little nervous, either nervous because, suddenly, he was
dealing with a Republican House, nervous it was a reelection State of the


TODD: ... nervous because health care looked like it was on the -- I mean,
you think about 2010, 2011, 2012, those three State of the Unions.

This one, from the minute he walked in, he had this confidence about him
that was different. And the fact he got that entire -- I still think it`s
quite remarkable, what happened at the end of that State of the Union.

I don`t think people realized how cynical -- no offense, Senator Klobuchar
-- how cynical senators and members of Congress are. And when they find
themselves caught up in a moment of just -- and it was bipartisan. I saw
Jeff Sessions stand up...


MATTHEWS: What was it like...


MATTHEWS: What did it feel like sitting among Republicans as you all were,
I mean, intermingled bipartisanly? I saw the older woman who -- how many
people make it to 102 anyway, and how many people stand in line eight hours
to vote at any age?


MATTHEWS: And I guess there was a confluence of things you couldn`t not
stand for.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. Actually -- actually, I was sitting next to Jeff
Sessions. He was my State of the Union date for the third year, Chuck. So
maybe there`s a reason he was standing.


KLOBUCHAR: I remember turning to him -- I actually said, You can`t not
stand for a 102-year-old woman. So I truly believe that there was this
element of surprise and people getting taken up in the moment.

Will that change how they`re going to -- what positions they`ll take on
everything? No. But there was a civility in that room that we need to set
some common ground. It carried over today -- incredible Judiciary
Committee hearing on immigration reform. I really believe that we have
some opportunities. And that`s what I loved about this speech. It was
about optimism for our country...


KLOBUCHAR: ... and it was about opportunity, not just problems.

MATTHEWS: And I don`t think there`s a long reach. These weren`t hail Mary
passes. Let`s at least have a vote on gun control...

TODD: He wasn`t saying...

MATTHEWS: Let`s have a $9 minimum wage. Let`s have real comprehensive
immigration reform with some teeth in it. I mean, basically, he was moving
the ball maybe one foot to the left of the midfield.


TODD: Bush was trying to do something big with Social Security...


TODD: ... a home run or go home.

MATTHEWS: What`s the left-wing part? Objectively, was there a left-wing
piece to the speech last night? I mean, truly left? I didn`t see it.

TODD: If you believe that the ideology between the two parties now is
divided between government getting more involved in your lives and
government getting less, then, of course, the party that believes that
government needs to be less involved is going to think, well, government
mandating a minimum wage and government doing these things with universal


TODD: Now, even though he was...

MATTHEWS: I would say it differently. I would say immigration reform that
works. I would say a $9 versus $7 thing...

TODD: Which was what the president was making his argument, which is this
idea of, No, it`s not about big government, it`s about smart government.

MATTHEWS: Yes, smarter.

TODD: And the question is, where`s the middle of the country? And I think
we learned in November 2012 where they are.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think they`re where the president is pretty much. It`s
ironic. You`re right, I think -- I think our colleague here was right.
The president is polling. We`re going to poll against (ph) next week,

TODD: We are.

MATTHEWS: And I think the president has pretty well polled on these

And by the way, you are the most normal politician I have ever come across
in 40 or 50 years. I don`t know how you stay so completely commonsensical.
And I hope I`m not being patronizing. I think you`re fantastic as a
representative of regular people.

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, thank you, Chris. You`re very nice.

MATTHEWS: Even Minnesota, which is getting so regular these days. It`s no
longer that old liberal state it used to be.

Thank you very much, Senator Amy Klobuchar...

KLOBUCHAR: OK. Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... although I loved Gene McCarthy and...

KLOBUCHAR: It`s great to be on.

MATTHEWS: ... Humphrey. Chuck Todd, thank you, sir.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Blown opportunity. Last night`s Republican response
by Marco Rubio can be summed up quite easily: Government bad, taxes worse,
free enterprise good. Sound familiar? Well, everyone will remember
Rubio`s clumsy water break, but what matter -- will matter is that the
messenger there may have changed, but the message remains the same.

Also, the most emotional part of the evening last night, as we said, was
the president called for a vote on gun safety. But getting cheers is one
thing. As we all know, getting something done on gun control -- that`s the
raise (ph) for it -- is a lot tougher.

Plus, what led Christopher Dorner to go on a rampage that left four people
dead and ended with Dorner himself apparently dying in an inferno in the
woods? His former boss, police chief Bill Bratton, joins us tonight.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the human condition, what -- with
what happens to some of us when we can`t deal with what life throws our

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, did you notice last night when House Speaker John Boehner
rarely stood or clapped and certainly never smiled during President Obama`s
State of the Union address last night, even when the president said things
that weren`t exactly partisan.

Well, now we know why Boehner stayed seated mostly. "The National
Review`s" Robert Costa reports that according to Boehner`s spokesman, the
speaker was trying to show respect for the president by not standing up and

The spokesman told Costa, quote, "Speaker Boehner and Vice President Biden
agreed last year to try to limit the number and duration of standing
ovations during the State of the Union in hopes of having a more dignified,
less partisan atmosphere."

Well, there you have it. Boehner didn`t clap because he wanted to be
dignified. You got to believe it!

Anyway, we`ll be right back.



SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: In the short time that I`ve been here in
Washington, nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the one
the president laid out tonight.


MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL. By any measure, Marco Rubio`s
Watergate moment, it`s being called, was an awkward one for both him and
many in the Republican Party who see him as the GOP`s savior. But a much
greater consequence, of course, may be something far more awkward, the
party`s ham-handed effort to reposition itself as a kinder, gentler
Republican Party these days.

Let`s start with the content of Rubio`s speech. Instead of a new page for
Republicans, it was more or less a throwback last night. I called it a
YAF`er speech, Young Americans for Freedom speech from the old days, the
kind of Bill Buckley-inspired conservative youth speech which we heard back
in the 1960s. Let`s watch him.


RUBIO: Presidents in both parties, from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan,
have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle
class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it`s the cause of our


MATTHEWS: Well, that, of course, is nonsense. I don`t think Obama`s ever
attacked the free enterprise system.

But Rubio wasn`t alone last night. A little earlier in the day, freshman
senator Ted Cruz of Texas put on an ugly performance when he questioned the
source of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel`s money.


right now, this committee knows absolutely nothing about the personal
compensation Chuck Hagel received in 2008 and 2009 or 2010! We do not
know, for example, if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at
extreme or radical groups.


MATTHEWS: Well, Cruz`s attacks were so over the line that even John
McCain, who lambasted Hagel himself a week ago, came to the senator`s


honorable man. He has served his country, and no one on this committee at
any time should impugn his character or his integrity.


MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, that`s what Cruz was doing. And House Speaker
John Boehner couldn`t stick to the script today for the repositioned
softer, gentler, kinder GOP. He told reporters at a breakfast briefing
that Obama doesn`t have -- this is the new phrase -- he doesn`t have the
guts to cut spending.

And today, more Republican intransigents, Senate Republicans, are holding
up the Hagel nomination again by demanding the speaker -- actually, the
Democratic leader, Harry Reid from Nevada, come up with 60 votes to move
forward with the vote. And Senator Rand Paul put a hold on President
Obama`s nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan. So a lot of obstructionism
out there.

Joining me right now is Salon`s Joan Walsh and "The Washington Post`s" Dana

Joan, it`s there again, this -- they can`t beat these people so they`re
doing this sort of skirmishing and obstructioning -- obstructing. They`re
trying to smear this guy. They know he`s going to be secretary of defense.
There is absolutely no purpose in what Cruz is doing, except pandering to
the neocons here, trying to prove that he`s more obnoxious than they are.
They know he`s in. They`re just messing around here with the government of
the United States, I think.

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They`re messing around in a
particularly ugly way.

I mean, Ted Cruz, this is ugly stuff, Chris. And the good news for Marco
Rubio is, he makes Marco Rubio look like a real statesman. And John
McCain, God bless him, is rising to the occasion. And I haven`t had many
nice things to say about John McCain in the last few years. But it really
is separating out the attack dogs and the really vicious people from the
people who are merely obstructionists.

But, anyway, Marco Rubio missed a big moment last night. And I think it
comes down -- it`s not about the drink of water. It comes down to the fact
that they do not understand that this new Democratic electorate, Latinos,
women, African-Americans, Asians, young people, they like government.

They really believe that government has a role in their lives. And they
also know something that white voters have forgotten. And that is that
government created the middle class the first time around. Only, they
mainly did it for white -- for white men, basically. And we can do it
again for this next America.


WALSH: They get that. And Marco Rubio looks different, has a different
name, says nice things about government, but it`s the same old warmed-


MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s what I...


WALSH: ... YAFFer or Tea Party nonsense.


MATTHEWS: And that`s my point, Joan. It`s not like he`s saying anything
new. He`s just said, hey, I`m a Latino, I can talk like this.


MATTHEWS: He was actually saying, I can echo the same old stuff you have
been washing your mouth out with for 30, 40 years. Same old, same old
mouthwash. And if I say it, not even with an accent, if I have a name
Rubio, somehow that`s new.

WALSH: Right.

agree with what you and Joan are saying there. The problem is not what he
was putting up to his lips. The problem is what was coming out of it.

And if anything, this whole hullabaloo about whether he had...


MATTHEWS: OK. You brought your water with you. You brought your prop
with you.


MATTHEWS: Explain that.


MATTHEWS: But, first of all, you had -- last night, guys, first I have
ever seen it. I have seen speeches described as boring, pathetic, too

I have never heard a speechmaker described as parched.


MATTHEWS: I mean, his -- his thirst was his crowning...


MATTHEWS: ... feature.

MILBANK: You could it. There were warning signs early, wiping the sweat,
wiping lips.


MILBANK: You could see that it was heading for a crisis. And, in fact, it

But I don`t think that`s a problem for Marco Rubio. In fact, we`re talking
about water, instead of the fact that he gave this simple conservative...


MATTHEWS: Why was he so nervous last night, and he was so good at places
like the convention, when he was giving some pretty good speeches? He
didn`t seem sweaty at all...


MILBANK: Because he`s been called -- "TIME" magazine calls him the savior
of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Too much buildup.

MILBANK: He`s got all this pressure on him, all these eyes are on him.

WALSH: Right.

MILBANK: And you know what? He did. He read the boilerplate script.

The reason he`s attractive is not just because of his background, but
because he`s offering something new in terms of a new Republican
immigration policy. He gave that the most passing of references last

MATTHEWS: I don`t think he`s for immigration reform, from what I can tell.
What is he for, this second-class deal?

MILBANK: No, no, no, he`s actually now suggesting there should be a path
to legalization. He was out there agreeing with Chuck Schumer.

He`s behind this deal, but he`s afraid to say it to his own base, to his
own people right now.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go over this whole pattern.

The Republicans obviously are trying to -- you lose an election, you try to
fix the place up a little bit. You try to offer yourself...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Make yourself a little more cosmetically pleasing.

But look at the way it`s been here. Rubio, Cruz with that nastiness again
today, Boehner, this sort of chicken salad look at the $9-an-hour minimum
wage. Don`t the Republicans know they`re stepping right back into the bear
trap when they say we don`t even want to pay a guy nine bucks an hour or a
woman nine bucks an hour?

We`re not going to pay them $360 a week if they work a full week. We`re
not going to give them $18,000 a year. That`s too much money for us.
We`re not going to give them $18,000 a year who may have a family to

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: It puts them right back in the trap where Mitt Romney was caught
trashing the 47 percent, right back in there. They walked into it.

WALSH: But they`re -- they`re not getting that, because they live in a
world of an echo chamber, whether it`s FOX News. We know that raising the
minimum wage has a negligible effect, if any, on employment.

But John Boehner lives in a world where it`s just taken for granted and
where they peddle the same crummy numbers to one another, whether it`s
about climate change or whether it`s about the minimum wage. And they
don`t really ever step out into a world where they`re really challenged.

And I think the other thing, to go back to Rubio and what Dana said, is
that people in the media, not us, but bear responsibility for creating this
guy, putting him on the "TIME" cover as the Republican savior, when he`s
really offering nothing but a 21st century name for 19th century policy.
And it`s like the soft bigotry of...

MATTHEWS: Joan, Joan, Joan, I want to pick a point. Are you -- are you
expressing personal guilt for the fact that "TIME" magazine called him the
Republican savior?


WALSH: No. I don`t -- I don`t work there.


MATTHEWS: OK, because you`re saying we in the media.


MATTHEWS: I don`t accept any guilt. I wouldn`t have put him on the cover,


WALSH: I have got Catholic -- I have got Catholic guilt, but it doesn`t go
that far, Chris.



WALSH: No, I don`t accept any guilt. It`s not fair to him. He didn`t
deserve it.


MATTHEWS: But part of it is everybody`s trying to build up the next
Republican threat to Obama.

So, we`re al looking around like a fight game. We`re like a whole bunch of
Don Kings. Who`s going to be the next guy to take on Joe Louis, the bum of
the month? Who`s going to be that guy? And everybody`s in this game, even
you, the sarcastic one.


MILBANK: This is the time when you build up all these candidates so we can
knock them down later. But you have to fill the slate of candidates.

MATTHEWS: So it`s now Christie and...


MILBANK: We`re even trying a little bit with Jindal now.


MATTHEWS: Jindal is down to about 35 percent now in the state now.




MILBANK: But anybody who wants in at this point, we`re going to go...


MATTHEWS: OK. So, we`re going to build them up, then tear them down here.

OK, thank you, now that we know the situation here.

Thank you, Joan, the un-guilty Joan Walsh. Thank you. Not at all in this
regard, at all, or any regard. Thank you, Dana Milbank, who writes a great
column for "The Washington Post."

Up next: We saw it again last night, those members of Congress who arrive
on the floor hours before the State of the Union just so they can be seen
doing this.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow."

Did you see Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee last night greeting President
Obama when he entered the chamber for last night`s State of the Union?
Well, it`s not the first time she`s staked out an aisle position. And
she`s got company.

Some members of Congress are known to arrive up to 12 hours before the
speech to get one of those seats where they can be seen on camera with the
president. And you have got to wait in person, by the way. The rule is no
leaving a book or a coat on that seat in the morning to claim your seat for
the big event later.

Sheila Jackson says it`s all for her constituents -- quote -- "They are
seeing me work on their behalf. Many of them are moved by the moment."

Dale Kildee, who retired, now retired, first started showing up early in
the days of Jimmy Carter. There he is with Bill Clinton. Congressman
Kildee would arrive early and share snacks even with colleagues while
awaiting the face time with the president -- quote -- "People would say,
gosh, I saw you shaking hands with the president. So you had that

Party loyalties don`t hold people back either, by the way. Take a look at
Ohio Republican Jean Schmidt at last year`s address.




MATTHEWS: Well, unfortunately for Ms. Schmidt, that kiss on the cheek
turned into a radio attack ad from her 2012 primary challenger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of Congress are now greeting the president.
There`s someone kissing the president. Who`s that? Looks like
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahh, Congresswoman Schmidt. Is she a Democrat? She
seems very close with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Bob. She`s a longtime Republican politician, but
she did vote for the Wall Street bailout and she voted for the president`s
debt limit increase.


MATTHEWS: This is how bad it gets in politics today. Anyway, Schmidt was
primaried and lost to a fellow Republican for doing that, kissing the

What do people actually say during their brief interaction with the
president? Well, for North Carolina Democrat G.K. Butterfield, nothing
tops looking like you`re sharing a joke with, in this case, President Obama
-- quote -- "I said, don`t forget us in North Carolina. And he would say,
how could I? And we would erupt in laughter."

Boy, that`s a laugher. Another tip, keep it short. New York`s Eliot Engel
remembered his encounters with George W. Bush saying things like stand by
Israel now, to which W. would respond, oh, believe that, I believe that.

Finally, we can`t talk about the aisle strategies without bringing up the
way many of us come to know Michele Bachmann. Flash back to the 2007 State
of the Union as Bush exited the room.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Mr. President, we can`t wait for you
to come to Minnesota.


BACHMANN: Oh, absolutely.


MATTHEWS: Oh, my God. Well, she wouldn`t let go of him there, you can
see. Anyway, that was before her 2008 comments the following year on this
show about some of her colleagues being, of course, anti-American. The
Democrats, she`s talking about.

Anyway, up next, the next -- the most dramatic moment from last night`s
State of the Union was President Obama` plea, very emotional plea for just
a vote on gun safety. That`s certainly a low bar, but will it lead to new
laws out there?

Well, you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


"Market Wrap."

It was a mixed day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrials lost about 37
points to fall about 18 points below that key 14000 level. The S&P 500
gained a fraction. The Nasdaq for its part rose 10 points.

And shoppers are being a bit tight-fisted after higher payroll taxes. The
Commerce Department says retail sales inched up by just 0.1 percent last
month. That`s the smallest increase in three months.

That`s it from CNBC -- now we will send it back to HARDBALL.


Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to
reduce gun violence, but this time is different.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Obama built up to a powerful moment last night as he made his
case for new gun legislation, evoking the memory of shooting victims,
included 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago, shot just days after
performing as a majorette in this inaugural parade.


OBAMA: Three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates,
performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was
shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my

Hadiya`s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with
more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun
violence. They deserve a vote.


OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.


OBAMA: The families of Newtown deserve a vote.


OBAMA: The families of Aurora deserve a vote.


OBAMA: The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the
countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a
simple vote.



MATTHEWS: Well, as you can see the public, and the Politico people there
are certainly with him on these proposed initiatives. The question is
whether enough members of Congress will get on board and pass meaningful
gun safety reform.

U.S. Congressman Pat Meehan is a Republican from Pennsylvania, a former
U.S. prosecutor in that area.

Congressman, I`m watching you. I am really watching you a lot lately,
because you are a fascinating political figure. You represent Delaware
County, a suburban area, the collar county of Philadelphia. You have been
a prosecutor. You have a lot of, I could say, street cred in fighting
crime and in protecting police officers.

Where are you on gun safety? Would you support an assault weapons ban?
Would you support a ban on these 30-round magazines? How far will you go
in a very pro-gun state like Pennsylvania?

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, let me start with the
legislation that we`re dealing with, Chris, because I think it is something
that can make a significant difference, and we`re working on a bipartisan
fashion to put forward legislation that will go after -- after the straw

And that is the way we`re watching guns get into the hands of criminals,
who are then going and acting out both in violent scenes in inner-city
neighborhoods and oftentimes in other kinds of cases like domestic
violence, getting into the hands of people that should not have that gun.

So I`m hopeful that we can make some progress on something like that. Now,
what it does is it`s -- that`s a thing that has been proven to have an
impact and can make a difference. And I think that`s what I`m looking for
in gun legislation.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about the other proposals I mentioned?


Well, I think one of the other things -- and you`re seeing from the
experience again that I have had as a prosecutor, my sense is that there`s
a growing support for at least looking at very, very seriously the gun show
loophole, which is another way that will create at least an ability to have
an impact on, you know, this question. And that`s another area where I
think you`re going to probably see -- see some support.

MATTHEWS: Should a nut be able to buy a Bushmaster?

MEEHAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: Like in Newtown, Connecticut, should that kind of a person, if
he were to go into a store or go to a game -- a gun show, be able to buy
that kind of weapon, as you see it?

MEEHAN: Well, the person we`re worried about is getting the guns in the
hands of people that shouldn`t have them -- criminals and people with the
mental issues. And I think we`ve got to do more work to make sure we`re
cutting that inappropriate sale off. That ought to be the place we really
focus. I think, Chris, that`s another thing. What can we get done?

MATTHEWS: I agree. I accept that argument, but --

MEEHAN: That will have them.

MATTHEWS: Well, the question the president raised last night I think
effectively in terms of rhetoric and politics was -- at least have a vote.
As a member of the Republican Caucus, do you expect the speaker will bring
up a vote on, say, assault weapons? Will he do that?

MEEHAN: Yes, my sense is -- what you`re watching happening right now is
people are going to see how serious the president is in putting his
influence into working I think first with the Senate. And Harry Reid is
really the guy who I think is on the front lines on this issue right now.
What are they going to do in the Senate, what`s going to get out and, you
know, what will come forward.

And in that context, I`m hopeful because, of course, there are people on
the other side of the aisle working together with the legislation that
we`ve put here. Not point for point the same, but very similar.

And so I`m hopeful that that`s the kind of a thing we can get some action
on that bill and see what else gets through the Senate.

MATTHEWS: Well, good luck. I`m with you on this.


MATTHEWS: Whatever you can get done, it will be good for the people.

Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Pat Meehan.

MEEHAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Who is a very respected prosecutor in that region before he took
the Congress seat.

Mark Glaze is the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Welcome so much, Mark. Thanks for joining us.

I think you saw the situation there, politically, in all fairness.
Congressman Meehan is a Republican from a suburban area which is really in
play now, because the rural areas are going to be tough on any gun action.
The big cities want action, right?

So, you`re following this, you`re lobbying this, toughest issue is assault
weapons. Are we going to have any chance at all of getting a ban on them?


MATTHEWS: If the Senate goes and House passes.

GLAZE: I don`t think it`s over until it`s over. And we`re not going to
stop having the debate just because it`s harder. I think people will --

MATTHEWS: Will Harry Reid bring it up for a vote? Do you have any
confidence that he will do it?

GLAZE: I`m not in his office, or his head. I don`t know. I hope so.

MATTHEWS: What are you hearing?

GLAZE: We think that people ought to be given the opportunity to offer
bills, offer amendments on the Senate floor. He said it`s going to be an
open process. So, I think anything people want to vote on --

MATTHEWS: So if Schumer wants a bill, it`ll get a vote.

GLAZE: Well, Feinstein, who wrote the vote wants it, I think she should
get a vote.

MATTHEWS: OK. And you think that will happen?

GLAZE: I think so.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about this trafficking bill. How much of a mark
would that play? How much would that stop dangerous behavior with guns?
If you were stopping people from buying guns or somebody who has a criminal

GLAZE: Well, right now, you know, the penalty for that is something like
the same as for trafficking livestock or chickens. And that`s not a
particularly stiff penalty.


GLAZE: And a lot of prosecutors don`t want to prosecute because, you know,
the penalties are not very good. They`re not very jury-friend. So, adding
a penalty will make a difference. It`s an important bill. It`s not just

MATTHEWS: Yes. But if the call comes from Chicago, I want to get
semiautomatic weapons I`m going after a bank job, they would not suffer a
serious criminal threat?

GLAZE: Well, straw purchasing for example is when somebody who is able to
buy a gun because they have a clean record buys them for somebody else,
sells them and passes them on. Right now, the way you get that person is
proving they lied on their background check form.

That`s a weak penalty. It`s hard to prove. Nobody really wants to take
those cases unless they involve a lot of guns and a lot of people. There
ought to be a stiffer, clear statute.

MATTHEWS: OK, give me a picture of a really good background check that had
no exceptions. How would that work? Would it keep it out of the people
who are criminally insane, obviously? Apparently, the spousal abusers,
people with criminal records, regular criminal records.

Give me a sense of how it would work. You go to a gun store, they check
you out. They don`t make the sale on the location. You have to wait,

GLAZE: No, the way it would work right now if you go to a federally
licensed dealer, you get a background check. All of those people you just
named already --

MATTHEWS: When do you comeback to get the gun?

GLAZE: You buy the gun right then. A background check takes about two
minutes. They`re in wait while they do it.

MATTHEWS: Really? That`s it?

GLAZE: That is why the argument from the other side that this is a big
burden to expand it to private sales are not really honest, if we`re being
honest with ourselves.

MATTHEWS: SO, it`s like a police officer stopping you for speeding.

GLAZE: Oh, it will take a long time on that. Every police stop I`ve had
took longer than a background check.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well said.

GLAZE: Not that I ever had a police --

MATTHEWS: Mark Glaze, you`re working for the mayors, you`re working for
Tommy Menino of Boston --


MATTHEWS: -- and Mike Bloomberg, and, of course, all the other mayors.

And a reminder for us, the conversation at HARDBALL continues long after
we`re off air here. I want you to take part, of course. You can visit our
blog at or find us on Facebook at

Coming up, the other big story we`ve been following, the saga of fugitive
ex-cop Christopher Dorner.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Here`s another sign of that growing rift in the Republican Party
as it struggles to get its act together. Haley Barbour, the former
governor of Mississippi and an establishment Republican, if there ever was
one, is in a private battle with the conservative Club for Growth according
to "The National Review". Barbour lamented the fact Republicans have
kicked away several winnable Senate seats by nominating far right
candidates. He says Republican donors should stop giving money to
conservative groups that attack mainstream Republicans.

Republican civil war is getting red hot.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

The week-long manhunt for revenge seeking ex-police officer Christopher
Dorner seemingly came to a fiery and violent end yesterday in Big Bear
Lake, California.

But many unanswered questions remain tonight about the former LAPD officer
and what sent him on a killing spree that claimed four lives, including the
daughter of his former boss.

According to Dorner`s manifesto, which he issued, he was trying to clear
his name after being fired by the LAPD back in 2009, which was four years
ago. He claims specific people he wanted to go after saying, quote, "They
have awoken a sleeping giant."

Well, one person who may have some insight into that -- what drove Dorner,
or anyone like him, to turn to bill, is Bill Bratton, who was the L.A.
police chief of the time of Dorner`s firing. He`s also a former New York
City much respected police commissioner in the city of New York. He was
mentioned, by the way, in Dorner`s chilling manifesto, as was I.

Do you have a sense that how this is going to go down in history, this

in the sense`s many unique aspects to it, the scale and the magnitude in
some aspects of it. I would hope he goes down in history as what he is, a
reprehensible murder. It`s unfortunate those seeking to legitimize him and
his actions. You can`t legitimize what he did.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is what makes this story, I think, fascinating to
people negatively and, in some cases, strange cases, positively. He`s a
police officer. The idea of a police officer is trained to defend the
weak, goes after others in his police department, goes after his
colleagues, fellow officers with this almost, you know, choreographed
effort, putting out their name, saying I`m going to go after them.

BRATTON: Well, what --

MATTHEWS: He`s putting out a manifesto with all this opinion about
everything on the planet. What a strange mind we have here and I think
that`s why it`s fascinating to people.

BRATTON: Well, I think that`s part of the attraction of this incident,
apart from the magnitude of the case, the violence, the number of murders
and shootings. What was also interesting is that he was incredibly focused
on police officers and their families.

In the two instances in which he came across civilians, the individual who
he stole a truck from up in Bear Mountain yesterday and the two house
cleaners who held captive for a period of time, he did not harm them, did
not see to harm them, as best I understand.

His actions were very specifically directed in a very vicious and violent
way, and unfortunately, effective way, against police and their families.
That he should be going after their families, that is not done in America.
That is relatively unique expression of anger and violence. It happens
elsewhere in the world with some frequency.

But going after government officials in this country, going after their
families, is almost unheard of.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this motive here and the right and wrong
thing. We constantly think about what`s insanity and what`s sanity. The
fact that he could delineate the -- distinguish between the police officers
he was targeting and their families, which you say is especially malicious
and the fact that he would spare the lives of other people that he came
across, to the point that he would tie them up rather than kill them, which
is more difficult and obviously less successful if you want to keep a
person out of action.

What do you make of that? Do you think that shows he was sane and evil at
the same time? Or how would you describe what kind of mind he had at the
point that he was doing these things?

BRATTON: Chris, he had access to three different profiles that were done
on him, including some within law enforcement. And it is quite obvious
that this was a deteriorating situation, a very narcissistic individual.


BRATTON: Very full of himself. One of them described him as an injustice
collective. That he was quick to be slighted. Quick to see that people
were out to get him, and he magnified these within his own minds.

So, for the LAPD, one of the things that they`re going to have to do in
their after action initiatives is take a close look as to how he got on the
job in the first place. They have one of the most exhaustive screening
processes in the country. He was able to slip through. Whether his
deterioration began after he became a police officer and with his
deployments overseas or whether there were signs that were missed early on,
that will be part of the follow up investigation in this whole matter.

MATTHEWS: You know, in D.C., where I live and have worked all of these
years, there was a program where they raced a lot of people into the police
service and they made a lot of mistakes.

BRATTON: They did that in Miami, also, back in the `80s. And the border
patrol right now is finding with their significant wrap up over the last
couple of years. A lot of people got on to the job who should not have
gotten into those positions.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about a police officer. Do you find having led
them into battle, having led them in very difficult neighborhoods and drug
situations and middle of the night horror stories, you have to go to clubs
and break things up. What special pressure is there on a cop that isn`t on
other people that would maybe make a person break bad?

BRATTON: Well, first and foremost, they are expected to go to a danger in
this circumstance, in every instance in which they came into contact with
the suspected. They were going toward him to engage him. They were not
fleeing from him.

Were they fearful? Certainly, that they would not be human if they were
not, that an individual who was specifically targeting them. But we are
very fortunate in this country to be represented by a police profession
that is made up of people who are very different than this individual
turned out to be.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. You`re one of the great ones. Thank you,
Bill Bratton, former commissioner in L.A., former commissioner in New York
City. We`re going to be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this tragic story of Christopher
Dorner, this ex-police officer who we believe came to his fiery end in the
California foothills.

We live in a big country, so many people living lives of challenge and joy
and sadness and, so often, basic human triumph. People grow up, they
survive the tough time of adolescence and they get passed the taunts and
the hazings, and bullyings and the cliquishness of high school. Times
we`re told were the best of our lives, but aren`t.

We get by the challenge of finding work, of finding someone to be loved by.
We find children who come our way, meeting as strangers, actually, when you
have them and then committing for our lives.

Yes, this is how 300 plus million of us do it. We do. We make it. We
live lives that end up making good sense to those around us. And sometimes
and in the worse of times for some, it all goes bad. Sometimes, it`s in
the way we think or feel or can`t do either. It all breaks down and we,
too, become dangerous, even lethal.

When these things happen, we make the news and we feel something. But what
is it? As we watch the story of a man killing others, killing out of
vengeance or dead end human frustration, with human existence itself, what
do we make of it?

Well, it`s easy to tell these stories, as we did last night and we did, I
did here on television. That is the path of them, this story of a former
police officer, former military officer who served this country ending up
in a cabin, up in the California mountains, fighting it out knowing it`s
all come to this. It`s the stuff of old film, but last night, here was a
part of the human story, the American story, the story of someone who just
couldn`t deal with what came.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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