March 20, 2013
Guests: John Brabender, Mark Glaze, Nia-Malika Henderson, Christopher Parker, Kevin Dotson, James Carroll
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Religious wars.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Wash -- I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. I`m not
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. You can`t steer a car with the engine
off. It`s the problem with the Republican Party today. Get rid of the
cultural right, who are driven by issues like abortion and gay marriage,
all those who began who moving to the Republican Party over prayer in
school -- prayer in public school years ago, and you kill one giant engine.
Get rid of the wackos, as John McCain calls them, people like Rand Paul,
and you lose another engine, all those libertarians who just want
government out of their face and out of their lives and you kill another
And so try doing what the Republican national chair Reince Priebus is doing
right now, and you`ll see the problem. Try steering a car with your engine
dead. Try steering your political party once you kill its motor. Try
getting the Republican Party to move when you set out to kill the big
motors of the Republican Party itself -- traditional cultural values and
For progressives, the amazing thing here is that people on the left, the
center-left and a big share of the center right now are together. They
know why the Republican establishment wants to free itself from the right-
wing cultural issues, they`re just not -- they`re just relieved, actually,
thrilled, really, that it`s not them trying to hold together a motley crew.
Speaking of which, John Brabender joins us. He was senior strategist for
Rick Santorum`s presidential campaign, and Salon`s Joan Walsh, who`s
already smiling at this predicament.
Let me -- let me go -- I want to start with the basic question of a
political party. This week`s Republican autopsy report, it`s being called,
urged the party to be more inclusive of gay people, women, minorities. It
did not go unnoticed by many on the social conservative wing of the party
that the report makes little mention of their concerns.
As Buzzfeed noted, the report never mentions the words Christian or church.
There`s no talk of abortion or promoting Judeo-Christian values, either.
Evangelical leader Gary Bauer warned the party`s leadership was taking its
base for granted.
He told "The National Review," quote, "I just think right now, there`s a
lot of concern in the party about both satisfying the money wing of the
party and keeping libertarians on board. What we shouldn`t do is say to
the electorate, Just tell what you want us to be. We`ll change for you.
Just tell us what you want us to do. We`ll do it. That`s not a political
party. That`s just a bunch of pandering idiots."
Is that the nature of Reince Priebus effort? We want everybody to vote
Republican, but we don`t want it to matter too much to them on issues like
abortion and gay rights and real cultural values. We don`t want those to
get in the way.
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR STRATEGIST FOR SANTORUM PRESIDENTIAL
CAMPAIGN: Well, I don`t think that`s exactly what the report did. I mean,
I honestly --
MATTHEWS: Well, did it mention any of this stuff?
BRABENDER: I think -- first of all, I think Priebus and the people that
were involved did a pretty good effort at saying, We have a problem, and
here`s a 12-step recovery program. I think people are going to interpret
the report the way they want.
One of the things that I thought was very problematic is that they never
said, Look, we have X core values. Even though we can be respectful and
acceptable (SIC) of people who don`t agree with us on those things, and
there`s a home for them in the Republican Party, they never reestablished
those core values.
The second bigger problem I have were some of the things relative to the
presidential primaries. Built into this were biases that help wealthy
candidates and establishment candidates, and frankly, hurt social
conservatives candidates, Tea Party candidates, libertarians, and so forth.
BRABENDER: And that`s built throughout the effort. But I do think it was
a good effort. I think it`s just a start and --
MATTHEWS: Well, I think you`ve been very -- you know, you`re a politician
and you`re a political consultant. You`ve got to say it the way you`ve
just said it. But let`s get back to reality.
I`ll go to Joan on this, to start with. If you joined -- I know you`re on
the other side of this, but you`re probably enjoying it. I am, too, to a
large extent. If you joined the Republican Party ever since the last 50
years, a lot of people who joined the Republican Party didn`t get rich and
became Republican, they were already evangelical, already culturally
conservative. They noticed the Democratic Party had gotten to liberal for
So they went over and joined the Republican Party because the Republican
Party is willing to say, We`ll bring religion -- We`ll bring organized
prayer back to public school. We`ll outlaw abortion. We won`t go along
with this new trend towards gay rights. So we`re with you in the church.
How do you tell those people the reason you joined the Republican Party,
they don`t want to push too hard anymore? In fact, they want to sort of
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you can`t really
tell them that, and so they`re not exactly saying that. And so you`ve got
a spectacle where, you know, Reince Priebus is saying, Well, yes, we want
gay people to vote for us, but we won`t change our policies. We won`t give
them equal rights.
WALSH: You know, we`ve seen him backtrack now on gay marriage. And you
know, we want African-Americans to vote for us, but we`re going to suppress
their votes in lots of states. So it`s totally contradictory.
They recognize that they have a branding problem and messaging a problem.
And also, quite honestly, Chris, the voters that you`re talking about have
gotten old and some of them have passed away and left us. And the issue --
MATTHEWS: You hear what you`re up against? Joan, you have just --
MATTHEWS: You`ve just basically said that, your party is dying.
BRABENDER: Well, first of all --
WALSH: It is dying.
BRABENDER: -- you probably should take a look at how many governors`
offices that we do hold to see that this party is far from dying.
MATTHEWS: Because they`re non-ideological candidates in many cases.
BRABENDER: Well, but -- but it`s -- but there`s --
MATTHEWS: That`s why --
MATTHEWS: -- those jobs.
BRABENDER: They`re generally pro-life. They`re generally pro-gun.
They`re generally pro-marriage.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) doesn`t matter at the governor`s level? Look, you
know what`s going on here!
BRABENDER: But they`re not defined by that.
MATTHEWS: This is the BS in politics today. If you vote for a pro-life
governor, you`re assured of one thing. It doesn`t matter because he`s not
going to change Roe v. Wade. He has no control over it. Right? So what
difference does it make if you say you`re pro-life?
BRABENDER: But there was an important part in this -- this thing by
MATTHEWS: Does Christie`s position on life, abortion, anything to do with
BRABENDER: They`re not singular (ph) defined by that. And I will say
this. As a party, we make a big mistake in that we spend too much time on
what we consider our important issues, but not the only issues. But I will
say this. In that report, there was two very --
MATTHEWS: But see -- but the problem -- I`m going to debate you on this.
BRABENDER: OK. Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: The working class or the poor Southerner, person who`s making a
decent income but not a lot, they don`t care about Wall Street and carried
interest and all this stuff your party carries the water for. They care
about the Christian religion, their Baptist religion, and they`d like to
have that inculturated throughout their lives. They want more religion in
the schools their kids go to and all that. They --
BRABENDER: And we get that --
MATTHEWS: But they don`t join the Republican Party to help the rich get
MATTHEWS: But you say the core values of the Republican Party (INAUDIBLE)
letting the rich get richer, but this religion stuff --
BRABENDER: No. That`s not --
BRABENDER: -- not the core value.
MATTHEWS: What is your core value?
BRABENDER: That became the core value --
MATTHEWS: It`s not libertarianism --
BRABENDER: Look --
MATTHEWS: -- and it`s not religion.
BRABENDER: You and I are on the same page on this. There`s a lot of
people worry at night about a lot of things and can`t sleep. And believe
me, they`re not sitting there and saying, Geez, let`s have more tax breaks
for the wealthy and let`s give more loopholes to corporates.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s where your party stands.
BRABENDER: We have fought that battle, and it`s a mistake. In that
report, they talked about, We got to get back to talking to lower-income,
middle-income people about how they can reach the American dream. That`s
why we lose Pennsylvania, you know, places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan.
We`ve got to get back to having people feel like we understand their lives.
We`re not about just tax breaks for the wealthy. And that is a big
MATTHEWS: Do you think -- I like your values here, by the way. I`d like
to see your party really compete. The Democratic Party offers Pell grants.
They offer opportunities for working-class kids to go to college. They
offer Social Security for people over 65 so they can actually avoid being
below the poverty line.
MATTHEWS: What has your party put up in that bidding war? What do you
offer for those regular people?
BRABENDER: Not enough. But I`ll give you a way of example. We like to
say that we`re the pro-life party. We`re really not. We`re the pro-birth
MATTHEWS: It`s in your platform.
BRABENDER: We fight for the unborn. And that`s --
MATTHEWS: John, it`s right there in your platform!
BRABENDER: But that`s the right thing. I`m saying -- but pro-life is more
than just birth. It`s after birth. So do we fight as hard for an African-
American child in New York --
MATTHEWS: Hey, you sound like a Democrat. Joan, he`s on your side. He
sounds like Dorothy Day here!
WALSH: Well, he`s not.
BRABENDER: We can do that.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: I respect your values, John, but I don`t think that you have
anything to offer those young people, either. And that`s -- you know, the
report says, We`re going to speak out about rising CEO pay and we`re going
to speak out about people losing their jobs. But speak out means nothing.
What are your policies?
Why did the Republican Party dismantle the opportunity structure that
created the vast middle class in the `40s and `50s and `60s? Why did
Republicans decide that rich people needed to keep more of their money?
Why did George Bush have a massive experiment in giving rich people back
their money, only to see the economy fall apart? Those are the issues --
you`re not winning on those issues, either, John, and --
MATTHEWS: OK, by the way --
WALSH: -- nothing in the report --
MATTHEWS: You`re so right. Joan, you`re so right. But (INAUDIBLE) little
more (INAUDIBLE) you`re better on this than I am, normally. Equal pay for
women -- equal pay for equal work, that kind of thing. Your party has been
slow on that.
BRABENDER: I agree. And I`m following (ph) our party. I`m saying those
are the changes that we should be making. But let me say this. Here`s
what the real difference between the two parties, in my opinion, are.
BRABENDER: The Republican Party has always said, We`re going to make sure
you have opportunity that leads to unlimited success but not guaranteed
success. That was the American dream. We`ve given that up because people
say that`s not attainable anymore, and what the Democrats are selling is,
We`ll give you guaranteed success, but it`s going to be very limited.
MATTHEWS: And who says that?
WALSH: -- guarantees success.
BRABENDER: It`s the government --
MATTHEWS: Joan, you`re --
MATTHEWS: -- because I don`t know any Democrat who talks like that.
WALSH: There`s no guarantee --
MATTHEWS: That sounds like socialism --
WALSH: There`s no one who wants to guarantee --
MATTHEWS: -- from birth to grave, and I`ve never heard that anywhere.
BRABENDER: But I think the --
WALSH: -- all about equal opportunity. We are about guaranteeing equal
opportunity. We are about leveling the playing field. We`re about
bringing people up.
And this is what worked in our society, John, when we were all children.
This is what worked for generations of people. And then in the `70s and
`80s and `90s, we started cutting it back. And that`s where we are now and
that`s what your party hasn`t reckoned it.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you how I got here. You know how I got in this
chair right now? My dad was GI Bill. He was in the Navy in World War II.
He got GI Bill, OK? He went to college. We became middle class. He
worked his butt off to get middle class, five -- four brothers of mine.
I got here because I got to Holy Cross, a good college. You know how I got
there? National Defense Education Act loans, OK? I went in the Peace
Corps, changed my life. So I have no -- my father worked for the city of
Philadelphia his whole life. I have no problem with public service. It`s
where I`m at. It`s where I got here.
Your party seems to degrade it. You`re party says there`s something wrong
-- (INAUDIBLE) been in the 47 percent because I got a student loan.
(INAUDIBLE) 47 percent because my father`s on the GI Bill and ended up on
Social Security. What`s wrong with government?
BRABENDER: Yes, but lookit --
MATTHEWS: It`s been good for most people.
BRABENDER: And here`s what`s happening now --
MATTHEWS: Am I addicted to government?
BRABENDER: First of all, as a country, and particularly Washington, they
are addicted to spending. So we`ve created this massive debt --
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good point. You`re on there --
MATTHEWS: That`s your winning -- you got the winning card right there.
BRABENDER: But even take, like, manufacturing, where Obama says, Oh, those
jobs are gone forever. Well, maybe if you wouldn`t put excessive taxation
and excessive regulation --
WALSH: He did not say that, actually!
MATTHEWS: OK, when did he say that?
WALSH: President Obama did not say that, John.
WALSH: We`ve got to admit that those jobs are gone and not coming back.
MATTHEWS: Some are, John. Some are.
BRABENDER: Why don`t we --
WALSH: He`s worked hard to bring back manufacturing.
BRABENDER: -- start making it so those workers can compete on an even
MATTHEWS: Perhaps most hypocritical --
WALSH: One person --
MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to our report. We got to get back to Reince
Priebus for a second here. It needs to -- the party needs to do a better
job reaching out to minority communities. It`s always about communication,
but the party never tried to stop efforts to disenfranchise mainly poor
African-American voters during the last election. Remember? Efforts
included stricter voter photo ID laws in Pennsylvania, of course, and
shortening the early voting -- taking away the early voting, like on
Sunday, in Florida.
My colleague Michael Steele took Reince Priebus to task on that for that,
this very morning, today. Let`s listen to Michael.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: How does Reince
Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration
policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist? You
can show up any time. It`s what you say and what you do when you get there
that matters most to people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Priebus was asked about Steele`s criticism right there
this morning by MSNBC`s Luke Russert. He dodged the question. I think
you`ll see the dodge. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE RUSSERT, MSNBC HOST: What`s your response to him?
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I`m not going to -- I mean, I`m not
going to engage in an argument with Michael. But you know, the fact of the
matter is you have to have the resources to be able to have an effective
ground operation in minority communities.
Look, if you don`t market and brand your party on a regular basis, I think
that you`re going to continue to have problems. And that`s a big piece of
what we`re trying to do here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, it was well advertised by the Republican Party, not by
you, that they made a big effort in three dozen states to stop blacks from
voting. To me, that`s a message.
BRABENDER: Well --
MATTHEWS: And people got it.
BRABENDER: -- and I will tell you, if they really did try to do that,
that is absolutely wrong and there`s no place for this in the party. The
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. The Republican leader, this Pennsylvania
legislator, said that`s why you did it.
BRABENDER: Well, I`m not going to -- I`m not going to answer to something
I didn`t see somebody say, and I`m just telling you on the record that if
somebody said that or somebody did that, it`s wrong. The second problem is
MATTHEWS: Watch HARDBALL more often and you`ll see it.
BRABENDER: The second problem with the report is -- we talk a lot about,
Oh, we`re going to get African-Americans to go out in the African-American
community for us. So we`re going to take a message that we haven`t sold
properly and just change the messenger. And that`s not right.
We`ve never taken the time to truly understand women, Hispanics or African-
Americans, go into their community and understand their lives and show them
why our hope --
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.
BRABENDER: -- and our American dream --
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
BRABENDER: -- is part of that.
MATTHEWS: Look, Rush Limbaugh clearly also is not a fan of Reince
Priebus`s efforts to broaden the base of the Republican Party. Today, he
told his audience on radio that it was conservatives who were truly being
excluded by the Republican Party. Let`s listen to Rushbo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s not conservatives excluding
anybody. If anybody`s being excluded, it is the conservatives! And yet
these guys are coming along, these establishment guys, and trying to act
like whatever this party has become, they haven`t been running it!
They lose elections and they blame everybody else. They`re running the
party. We`re not. Safe to say? I mean, they`re getting the nominees they
want, and they`re losing, and somehow, it`s our fault for being exclusive?
We`re not excluding anybody!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joan, last question. Who lost the election last time? Was it
the Republican establishment, the big-wigs, or was it the people on the
radio like Rush, the far right?
WALSH: I think they make a really great team. I mean, Rush Limbaugh
definitely helped lose that election. He turned off women. He was
despicable in what he said about Sandra Fluke. But you know, Mitt Romney
talked about the 47 percent.
So they may not like each other, but they are working together to alienate
most of the American people. And that`s what happened.
MATTHEWS: Joan, thanks so much for being on, Joan Walsh out in San
Francisco,+ the city hall right behind her there. She should run that
place! Anyway, thank you, Joan.
MATTHEWS: And John Brabender --
WALSH: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: -- great. You did a good job and I think you`ve explained by
your performance here tonight and your honest response to my questions the
Coming up: The assault weapons ban is dead, despite the fact that 57
percent of Americans do support an assault weapons ban. Why does the NRA
keep winning? Because for gun owners, winning these battles isn`t the most
important thing, it`s the only thing. If progressives want to win, draw
the line now at background checks. Ninety percent of Americans support
them. Let`s -- let your member of Congress know that from you. On this
issue, winning is the only thing.
Also, you`ve probably seen this scene from last week`s CPAC conference
where one participant actually defended slavery. How big a problem is
racism right now? We`re going to talk to an African-American who`s doing a
documentary called "Black Tea" about why some black people actually joined
the Tea Party.
And going wobbly on Ashley Judd? The Democratic establishment`s nervous
that Ashley Judd would lose a Senate race to Mitch McConnell and take down
other Democrats with her. So key Democrats, including Bill and Hillary
Clinton, are lining up behind another Democrat. Fasten your seatbelts for
Finally, check out this Washington scene. Why is CNN`s Dana Bash running
after Michele Bachmann, and what is it that Bachmann clearly doesn`t want
to talk about?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford took another
step in his political comeback. Sanford finished first in yesterday`s
Republican congressional primary to replace Tim Scott, who`s moved on to
the Senate. Sanford won 37 percent of the vote, which means he faces a
runoff two weeks from now.
But the candidates in second and third place were so close that there will
be an automatic recount to determine who Sanford will actually face in that
On the Democratic side, Elizabeth ``Colbare`` -- or Colbert, she calls
herself -- Colbert Busch, sister of Stephen Colbert, finished first, as
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
dealt a devastating blow to gun control supporters yesterday when he
signaled his bill next month -- this is after Easter -- won`t include
Senator Dianne Feinstein`s assault weapons ban, handing a political victory
in round one to the NRA. According to Reid, it was a numbers game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Right now, her amendment, using
the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That`s not 60.
I`m not going to try to put something on the floor that won`t succeed. I
want something that will succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I saw that coming. Feinstein, who`s championed the cause
for decades of fighting assault weapons, pledged to keep fighting for her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s very powerful. I`ve known
that all my life.
It doesn`t take a weapon away from anyone. I mean, my goodness, the NRA
says there are 2 million of these, or 3 million of them, whatever it is, in
the country already. How many assault weapons do you need in the United
States of America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, The New York Daily News covered (INAUDIBLE) this morning.
Look at it up there. Wow, hit it hard, the headline "Shame on U.S..
Assault Weapons Bill Is Dead." That is tough. Anyway, it`s surrounded by
the photos of the children there who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut.
Not a bad memory, actually, to keep in mind first.
Well, just three months after Newtown and eight months after the Aurora,
Colorado, shootings in that movie theater, it`s time to do something, I
think. And tonight, I`m urging you all to call your senators and members
of Congress. I don`t hardly ever do this, but if you have a pencil around
or a piece of paper, just write this down.
You can decide whether to do it in the next hour or so, but you ought to do
it. 202 is the D.C. number -- 224-3121, 224-3121. And I`ll be giving that
number later. You can call it. It`s the Capitol operator. You can reach
any senator. And if you get confused, you don`t remember the name of your
congressman, they`ll help you.
And by the way, I think it is time to act if you want to have any say on
this thing, on gun control. And I think the way to fight for this right
now is the background checks. Go for background check on gun sales. This
is the line of defense right now, background checks, a reasonable thing,
given what happened up in Newtown, when you had a very disturbed person,
apparently, involved in killing all those kids.
At least find out that there are people out there with real mental or
emotional problems, who have bad records, who shouldn`t be getting guns.
This is the time to make sure the background checks really work.
Mark Glaze is director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. And Nia-Malika
Henderson is a straight reporter for "The Washington Post."
I want to talk to Mark. And let me just tell you what I want to do here
tonight. And I want to face facts. I`m a political guy, not especially
spent my life finding gun safety, although I did write my letter to
Congress, the only time in my life, after Bobby was killed.
MARK GLAZE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Right.
MATTHEWS: Because, you know, Johnny Carson said to do it, and he was
nonpolitical. And I said, well, damn it, I`m going to write a letter.
MATTHEWS: And I hope everybody does this now, because I think the line of
defense -- and I hope we can focus on that right now -- is background
checks, background checks.
How can anybody oppose something that 92 percent of the American people
want? In other words, almost any thoughtful person who isn`t derangedly
pro-gun says, yes, we ought to make sure the crazy people,, whatever we
want to call them, emotionally deranged, or whatever, dangerous people,
husbands who beat up wives and threaten them, people like that should not
Let`s talk about that, if you can, Mark. You`re the expert.
GLAZE: Yes. Well, you`re exactly right.
Nobody in the public does oppose background checks. Very few people in the
gun lobby, the actual gun lobby do either. Something like 74 percent of
NRA members think that everybody --
GLAZE: -- ought to have to get a background check, because they get
MATTHEWS: Delineate that, members. But what about LaPierre and the people
who get paid by the NRA?
GLAZE: Yes. Well, what we have known for a while and the point that is
finally starting to become clear to the public, I think, is that there`s a
big difference between gun owners, gun dealers, as my dad was, and the NRA
leadership, which is in the business of making money, paying their
executives, and selling more guns.
And the way they do that is by creating a constant atmosphere of hysteria
in which any reform, even one as modest as background checks, is just
another step on a slippery slope to gun confiscation, something that Samuel
Alito said, very conservative justice, in the McDonald decision is now off
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST":
Yes, I mean, I think the NRA has proven that they`re better at this so far.
MATTHEWS: How does that work? Describe the politics of this and why Harry
Reid yanked assault weapons, why we never even got the magazine limit of 10
rounds on your magazine for the semiautomatics, why that never got even in
HENDERSON: Well, I mean, it`s partly a testament to the power of the NRA,
the power of the NRA with Democrats.
If you look at what`s going to happen in 2014, you have got a lot of
Democrats who are up in red states, people like Kay Hagan, people like Mary
Landrieu, Begich, Pryor, folks like that who don`t want to be on record
supporting the assault weapons ban.
And the White House figured as well that to add the assault weapons ban to
any major bill would kill it, would be a poison pill.
MATTHEWS: Even though a majority of people when polled say they want a
HENDERSON: It`s true. But the reality is polls don`t vote. Polls aren`t
up for reelection. All of these folks in these red states are up for
reelection in 2014.
And I think in many ways they will be happy to vote against an amendment,
this assault weapons ban, but also support universal background checks.
That will make them look moderate.
MATTHEWS: Mark, how do you build an organization of people that really do
keep their minds on and their money on gun safety?
GLAZE: Well, I think we have started to do it. At this point, we have
more than 900 mayors around the country. More than 100 of them are
We have almost 1.5 million grassroot supporters, and all of them are about
as heated up as we have ever seen them about anything. I think they
recognize that this is a national moment. And if you`re ever going to turn
this issue around, now is the time. So, we have sent more than 200,000 e-
mails in to the White House and members of Congress. We have been shutting
down switchboards in state capitals and won a major victory in Colorado
that was pretty hard-fought.
So, I think the predicate is there. We`re trying to -- we`re making some
baby steps and success is always patchwork, but it is going to come.
MATTHEWS: But how do you get people to remind themselves?
I know this is a tough one, because the gun owner cleans his gun, he packs
his shells, he goes hunting, he goes skeet shooting, he has friends who are
hunters. He`s constantly reinvesting in his gun.
GLAZE: Yes, but --
MATTHEWS: And I`m not saying they`re all gun nuts. I`m just saying that
that point of view, which is pro-gun, has a self-energizing aspect to it,
because you`re always actively doing something.
GLAZE: You`re absolutely right.
MATTHEWS: How does a person who doesn`t want a gun in their house, doesn`t
want their kids to have a gun, doesn`t want to think -- doesn`t even go to
movies with guns in it, how does that person keep in mind and their hearts
the determination to vote for gun safety candidates against gun rights-
GLAZE: Right. Well, here`s how they do it.
Something that you know and that we know is that 33 Americans are murdered
in this country every day with guns. That`s a Virginia Tech or a Newtown-
sized tragedy and more every single day. But under most circumstances, on
most days, you don`t hear about that. It doesn`t make news other than
But that`s changed since Newtown. People are seeing these mass shootings
are happening more often and the scale is grander. And as a result, when
one or two people are killed in Idaho and you wouldn`t have paid attention
to that before, suddenly it`s making national headlines. But it`s also the
obligation of people like Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Menino, who run our
organization, and our staff to make sure that when people are killed who
normally wouldn`t even be paid attention to, that that word gets out.
MATTHEWS: Mark, what do you make of that kid who was killed down in
Virginia? The case is a very sad case. The kid is drunk. He comes home,
sneaks in the window he thinks of his house. It`s the neighbor`s house.
The guy kills him.
GLAZE: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: With a gun.
GLAZE: There`s a difference between what happens in your house and what
happens outside of your house.
The law has always said if there`s an intruder in your house and you have
no way to escape, then you can use deadly force.
GLAZE: Our main concern is in places like Florida that have passed these
shoot-first laws that say that if you are able to claim that you were
concerned about your safety, you can basically shoot to kill anywhere you
happen to be.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what`s happening.
HENDERSON: Yes. Well, I think a lot of the activity is in the states.
You mentioned Colorado. states like Maryland, New York obviously, pass
very tough very restrictions on guns.
HENDERSON: And that`s where the action is.
If you look at the history of gun laws in this country, stutter steps,
about 10 or so passed in the history of this country. It took seven years
for the Brady Bill to finally become law and then it was challenged by the
NRA. This happens in fits and starts. It`s not just overnight that these
sorts of laws have passed.
And I think we`re seeing the beginning. I think it`s surprising that
universal background checks might actually pass. I talked to some folks
over in the House who say maybe it doesn`t even come up there, but it looks
like it had some momentum in the Senate. So, we will see.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I`m in with people like Mayor Nutter of
Philadelphia. You get the guns off the streets, too. I have no problem
with his aggressive tactics there.
Anyway, Mark Glaze, thank you, Nia-Malika Henderson.
I`m going to be saying by the end of the show -- I think I will mention it
five times at the end of the show, the phone number, so you won`t miss it.
And by the way, it`s 202-224-3121. Call your senator right now. Make some
noise. Say you want background checks.
Up next, another whopper about President Obama from none other than --
Michele Bachmann is back and she dodges a reporter. We`re going to watch
her do that. Look at her there trying to ask questions about Bachmann.
That`s next. That`s next in the "Sideshow," right where she belongs.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
Last night, I attended the White House Patrick`s Day reception and
President Obama took note of the Irish roots of his own administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My new chief of staff is a
McDonough. My national security adviser is a Donilon. Our new CIA
director is a Brennan.
And Joe Biden has very kindly agreed to stay on as Irishman in chief.
Joe couldn`t be here tonight because he`s on his way back from the
installation of Pope Francis in Rome. For those of you who know Joe,
literally, the only thing that could keep him away from St. Patrick`s Day
at the White House is the installation of a new pope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, it was a nice night.
And, by the way, Jimmy Fallon spotted Biden in a photo at the installation
mass in what might be the easiest game of "Where`s Waldo?" ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Vice President Joe
Biden actually attended Pope Francis` first mass. Have you seen this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ah, yes.
FALLON: This is unbelievable. This is a picture of him in the crowd. See
if you can find Biden. See if you can find --
FALLON: Are you kidding me? This is a real photo. Focus up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Next, Michele Bachmann earns recognition from "The Washington
Post" for a factually challenged statement she made at CPAC last week.
Here`s the part that earned her four Pinocchios from The Post`s fact-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: There is a problem. A new book is
out talking about the perks and the excess of the $1.4 billion-a-year
presidency that we`re paying for.
And this is a lifestyle that is one of excess. Now we find out that there
are five chefs on Air Force One. We are also the ones who are paying for
someone to walk the president`s dog, paying for someone to walk the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, "The Washington Post" points out that the $1.4 billion
figure covers security expenses required to protect the president, any
president we had right now, in addition to other staffing. There was no
influx of excessive staffing when President Obama came to the White House.
And the dog walker she mentions is in reality the White House
CNN`s Dana Bash attempted to follow up with Bachmann about what he had
said. The result? Both women out of breath and a dramatic shift in topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I want to ask you
about is the fact that you said that he had -- you talked about the
excesses that he`s engaged in, the fact that he has a dog walker, which is
BACHMANN: The big point of my speech was about Benghazi. This was an
BASH: But you also made specific accusations about the president spending
money that other presidents also --
BACHMANN: Dana, the real issue is there are four Americans that are dead.
The secretary of state wasn`t in conversation with the secretary of defense
or with the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
BASH: I think that`s an important point. But if you want to focus on
that, then why --
BACHMANN: That`s it, Dana. That`s what`s important.
BACHMANN: You want to talk about dog handlers, and there`s four Americans
BASH: But, Congresswoman, but you`re the one who brought it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Of course, this isn`t the first time Michele Bachmann has
commented on lavish spending by President Obama. In 2010, she said the
president`s trip to India, remember that, would cost taxpayers $200 million
a day. Well, it turns out the massively inflated figure Obama used -- or,
rather, that Michele did originated with an anonymous source in Mumbai and
was totally discredited.
Next, when you hear that members of the Westboro Baptist Church are
planning to show up at a event, chances are they are not going to be
welcome guests. The group is united in the belief that God, God, hates
gays. And they go around to events like military funerals attempting to
spread their message.
Anyway, when the house across the street from the church, their church in
Topeka, Kansas, went up for sale last year, one person saw an opportunity
and bought the place. Take a look at the new paint job. And there you
have it. The individual who bought the home across from Westboro Baptist
Church is part of a gay advocacy group called Planting Peace. And their
newest headquarters is a statement, isn`t it, of gay pride. They have got
to look at that across the street now.
Up next, how big a problem is racism in the Tea Party? Well, we talk to
the filmmaker behind a new documentary called "Black Tea" about why some
African-Americans joined the Tea Party. This is going to be a hot debate
coming up here.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
The Dow gains about 56 points, erasing most of last week`s losses. The S&P
adds 10 and the NASDAQ rises 25 points. Stocks rallied after the Fed kept
interest rates unchanged, near zero, and said it plans to continue buying
$85 billion in debt until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent.
Now for the closing bell. Software giant Oracle reported revenue and
earnings that fell short of estimates -- shares are trading lower after
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
One of the more unsettling takeaways from this week`s -- or last week`s
CPAC conference was a video from a breakout session called "Trump the Race
Card. Are you sick and tired of being called a racist when you say" -- or,
actually, "when you know you`re not one?"
Well, on Monday, we showed a short clip from that event where a participant
suggested slaves should have been thankful for free food and lodging during
those hundreds of years of slavery, in fact 300 or 400 years. It turns out
a documentary producer was in the room as well and there`s more video of
the exchange. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT TERRY, AUDIENCE MEMBER: It seems to me like you`re reaching out to
voters with the program that you`re offering us at the expense of young
white Southern males like myself, my demographic. My problem is, why can`t
we be more like Booker T. Washington Republicans? Let`s be unified by the
hand, but separate like the fingers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call Booker T. Washington the (OFF-MIKE) Frederick
Douglass. Frederick Douglass was the originator. OK? So when you study
Douglass, Douglas was not --
TERRY: How about the unity and diversity?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about it? Douglass talked about that.
Give you an example. Here`s an example.
When Douglass escaped from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years after he
escapes from slavery, he writes a letter to his former slave master and
says, I forgive you for all the things you did to me.
TERRY: For giving him shelter and food all those years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In a moment, we will be joined by Kevin Dotson, who is produce
that documentary for which that video was shot called "Black Tea" about
black members, actual members of the Tea Party.
With us now is Christopher Parker, he`s professor of political science at
the University of Washington and author of the upcoming book "Change They
Can`t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America."
Thanks so much, Christopher, for joining us.
It seems to me that when a lot of us who work on this show and have watched
this program, we have made a real effort to show the face of the Tea Party.
All the placards up there, the sort of Hitler mustaches, the black face, if
you will, super imposed on the face of Barack Obama, these obvious racial
canards that keep popping up in the sort of the visuals.
What is your study tell you about the nature of the racial peace here of
the Tea Party?
CHRISTOPHER PARKER, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Well, thanks for having me,
My study suggests that there is a strain of racism in the Tea Party going
all of the way back to when it began in 2010, that there`s definitely a
racist strain. But it goes beyond racism. It goes to homophobia and
xenophobia as well, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about how they all fit together.
MATTHEWS: Is it sort of a resumption of the old South, the way things
before the Civil War, for example, when you get -- do they want -- is it
like that dreamy nostalgia you get in the old movies? You know what I
mean, "Gone with the Wind"? Is it that kind of America they want to bring
back or what? When there are no gays, where blacks were slaves, Mexicans
were in Mexico. I mean, is this what they want?
PARKER: That`s precisely the case, Chris. What we`ve found out and we`ve
come up with something that we call reactionary conservativism. And what
that means is where there`s a regular conservative or more mainstream
conservative recognizes change is necessary to avoid revolutionary change,
a reactionary conservative wants to go back in time.
And in the book we tie the Tea Party to the know nothing party of the
1850s, Klan of the 1920s, the John Birch Society in the late 1950s and
1960s. It`s the same -- it`s the same belief system, Chris. This idea
that they`re scared of losing the America that they know and love to these
other groups of people.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they go back further to the know nothings. You know that
PARKER: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: That`s before the Civil War.
Let me go to the other voice here. Kevin Dotson.
You`re working on a film. What have you discovered so far in your
filmmaking, your documentary, sir, about the black -- the attitude towards
black within the Tea Party, the attitude of blacks toward the Tea Party, if
KEVIN DOTSON, FILMMAKER, "BLACK TEA": Well, the attitude of blacks towards
the Tea Party within the Tea Party obviously is very favorable. They`re
involved in Tea Party for a very interesting reasons, that are -- that have
to do with morality, that have to do with conservative values. A number of
them, it has to do with fiscal conservatism.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, what`s -- because the Tea Party seems to be, if
anything, anti-federal government. Why would an African-American who`s
history comes from freedom basically, the insistence of the federal
government federal rights against state rights, why do -- on the issue just
basic ethnicity in history, why would they want to identify with a group
that`s basically pro-state rights? That`s what the Tea Party.
DOTSON: That`s actually one of the questions that compelled me to make
this documentary. I think I first became interested in it because I saw
Dr. Alveda King giving the keynote address at Glenn Beck`s rally in 2010,
on the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech.
And I became really fascinated. Like, why is she involved in it and why
are a number of other black people that I found, I found Herman Cain, a
number of other black people who are -- who take different roles, from
everyday people, the two or three that I found in the crowd at Tea Party
rallies and conventions, to people that are on stage, people who are
political pundits, people who are behind political candidates or now
senators in Texas, for instance.
DOTSON: It`s a very fascinating question and one that the documentary is
MATTHEWS: Good luck with your documentary.
Let me go back to Chris -- it seems to me if you look at the issues about
not everybody in the Tea Party, a lot of them are just made of government
spending. I can completely understand that. It is out of hand. We always
have deficits. We always have debt. It`s going -- how can you not worry
But they do seem integrally involved in the culturally right and a lot of
xenophobia, a lot of we don`t want anybody else coming to this country.
PARKER: Yes, that`s -- that`s true, Chris. It`s this idea that they`re
losing their country. They fear change. They fear -- they`re anxious
about the change that we see. We see the browning of America. You know,
we see, you know, the gay rights movement is preceding at pace. You know,
we saw the first female speaker of the House not too long ago.
So, it`s this change that they have a problem dealing with, Chris. And let
me get to the point about --
MATTHEWS: Why would somebody care -- I always wondered about this, do a
little psycho bubble if you will. Why would somebody who is white care
about whether the country is white 100 years from now? They`re not going
to be here. And the people who are will be comfortable with it. It will
be their country. It will be different that theirs.
But your nature will change with the country`s nature. I mean, why would
you -- it does sound like pure racism. If you want the country to be
tribally white 100 years from now. I don`t know why a black person would
care 100 years. They`re not going to be here either.
I mean, why do people speculate the way they think what the country will be
like in 100 years? I don`t -- I don`t get that, exactly.
PARKER: Well, see, the country -- OK, so when we think about what the
typical American is, this is shown throughout social science literature and
historical literature. The typical American phenotype is white, male,
Protestant, straight, married, right?
So when we think about any departure from this phenotype is considered the
other or considered un-American, whereas that phenotype considers himself
to be the real Americans.
PARKER: So they fear this change. This loss of their lifestyle is
PARKER: This sort of white male protestant lifestyle. This cultural
homogeny, if you will.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Jackie Robinson was a real American, wasn`t he? I
Anyway, I`m just trying to go through the list, just kidding. Willie Mays,
I think he was an American. I think a lot of great Americans, not just
sports figures, who are definitely really Americans.
Anyway, thank you. I can`t imagine the country without them.
Anyway, thank you, Kevin Dotson.
DOTSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Christopher Parker.
And good luck with your doc.
PARKER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the Democratic establishment is not so sure that
actress Ashley Judd is going to be the best candidate to take on Mitch
McConnell. That is a huge question out in Kentucky and now, Bill and
Hillary Clinton are lining up behind another possible candidate, another
woman actually. And that`s ahead. This is going to be an interesting
fight in Kentucky.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: This is going to be fun. Is Ashley Judd actually potentially
toxic for Democrats in Kentucky?
It turns out Bill Clinton must think so. And that`s ahead on HARDBALL.
Back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
And there`s enormous excitement in some Democratic circles of the prospect
of Ashley Judd taking her star power to Kentucky where she came from, and
running against Mitch McConnell for the Senate.
But a growing number of Democrats, and that now includes Bill and Hillary
Clinton worry that Judd`s liberal positions will be fatal for her in the
conservative state and toxic for the down ballot Democrats.
Well, Bill Clinton has said to prefer 34-year-old Kentucky secretary of
state, Alison Lundergan Grimes. There`s even been a Facebook page set up
by Grimes supporters encouraging her to run. Democrats would knock off
McConnell and they are urged by his sinking poll numbers. But he knows how
to run. After all, he`s done it five times already.
Howard Fineman is editorial director of "Huffington Post" Media Group, and
he spent years as a reporter at "The Louisville Courier-Journal." And Jim
Carroll is Washington bureau chief of "The Louisville Courier-Journal".
Well, thank you both. Gentlemen for the Bingham family. Let`s start with
Let`s talk about this -- Jim, you first. You first. Two women running,
two guys talking about it, OK?
JIM CARROLL, LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL: We`re qualified, right?
MATTHEWS: Ashley Judd and this woman, Secretary of State Grimes. Is the
party down there worried that there`s too much Hollywood attached to Ashley
Judd and that`s what people vote against, not for?
CARROLL: I think it`s not so much the Hollywood. I think it`s culturally
and politically, as you already referenced. Kentucky is really a
conservative state. It does elect statewide Democrats but the question is
whether she can be married -- her obvious liberal views can be married to a
state that is so culturally and politically conservative.
And that`s what -- frankly, what she`s weighing and certainly what a lot of
Democrats are saying more publicly about and worrying more about.
MATTHEWS: Why is she thinking of running? Who is encouraging Ashley Judd
-- I like her in the movies -- but who`s encouraging her to run in
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, she is, first of all. She`s very
ambitious politically and has been for many years, certainly since she went
to Harvard to get her graduate degree. I think she`s always had her eye
on. She`s seventh, eight generation Kentuckian. She`s ambitious for
public life, that`s number one.
Number two, I think liberal Democrats and Democrats in Louisville are very
much for it. John Yarmuth, the congressman from there.
FINEMAN: And a lot of money in Louisville, and there`s money in Louisville
that was very important for Barack Obama. Barack Obama raised a lot of
money in Louisville. As a matter of fact, the guy who was the finance
chair of Obama`s reelection campaign is based in Louisville, part of the
CARROLL: Might end up being the next ambassador --
MATTHEWS: OK. I know you`re a were reporter, but here`s a little
speculation. Mitch McConnell gets up and hears that someone ran the
Democratic primary. Who does he want to hear won it?
CARROLL: I guess I think at this point they would say Ashley Judd because
she doesn`t have the ties to Kentucky -- the political ties to Kentucky.
She has a lot of biographical ties to Kentucky.
CARROLL: She went to U.K., she grew up there and all. But she doesn`t
really have the on-the-ground knowledge of the state that somebody like
Alison Lundergan Grimes does.
MATTHEWS: OK. What does it say about Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton -- I saw
the earmarks of Bill Clinton.
MATTHEWS: The fingerprints. He likes this candidate Grimes who is
secretary of state because he liked her father who helped him win the state
FINEMAN: Right, exactly.
MATTHEWS: This is so Clinton. It makes perfect sense.
FINEMAN: First of all, Bill Clinton considers Kentucky as a sub-
jurisdiction of his political power. He won that state twice, the last
Democrat to do so. Kentucky and Arkansas are a lot a like. He feels very
much at home there.
When I went to that dinner in Kentucky that led to my story about Judd,
Clinton was in charge. Now, Jerry Lundergan, the father of Alison
Lundergan Grimes, was state party chairman, supported Bill Clinton heavily,
supported Hillary Clinton heavily.
MATTHEWS: So build the relationship politician.
FINEMAN: Supported heavily, gave to the Clinton Library, gives to all
Hillary`s things. So, when Bill Clinton went to that dinner and I reported
this in the story the other week, he privately met with Alison Lundergan
Grimes and jerry, her father. Alison is sort of like the daughter of a
mini-establishment in the state.
The further complicating factor is that, though, that the Lundergan people
are at war with the current governor, Steve Beshear --
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s too much.
FINEMAN: It`s not too much.
CARROLL: Because it all comes out in the wash.
FINEMAN: What Judd has to hope is that there`s a fracture in the
establishment of the Democratic Party that Bill Clinton will have to heal.
MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton, very popular. I think he`s a talking horse for
Hillary Clinton running for president. I think they are going to be very
active next year. Is this part of it? Bill Clinton building the wall for
CARROLL: You have to think, Mitch McConnell has give be fits to the Obama
administration. I`m sure Bill Clinton would like to have Mitch McConnell
out of there if he could possibly make that happen, so that when Hillary is
president, he wouldn`t have to deal with him.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton gets credit for knocking out Mitch McConnell.
CARROLL: One quick thing about relationships -- guess who catered
CARROLL: Bill Lundergan, Jerry Lundergan, the former chairman -- Alison
Lundergan Grimes` father.
MATTHEWS: This is one I love to learn because it`s all I think about the
politics, this interesting connections that make all the sense in the world
when you found out they`re there and nobody ever hears about them.
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, James Carroll, excellent
name on St. Patrick`s week.
Get your pencils ready. When we return, I`m going to tell you what you can
do for victims of gun violence in this country, especially those kids up in
Newtown, Connecticut. You can do something. It`s not hard. It`s doable.
You do it tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Just do it, 202-224-3121. If you forget it, just call up
directory assistance and ask for the Capitol in Washington, D.C. This is
something that you can do. OK? Whatever your religion, think about giving
up nothing, doing nothing for lent. Do something.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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