April 8, 2013
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Steve McMahon, John Feehery, Doug Brinkley
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: High noon.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" with this. Remember what you -- I mean you personally --
thought when you heard that all those 1st graders had been shot up there in
Connecticut? First, if you`re like me, you thought of those little kids
and the fear, the terror, the horror of those nightmare seconds, the last
those kids would ever know.
Second, you thought of the ferocious firing of bullets, all these bullets
flying from one person`s hand, all that death coming in that hard barrage.
What kind of gun did this guy had -- gone -- fire -- have? Twenty-seven
people, twenty little kids, blown to kingdom come in a moment of hideous
Well, this evening the president is up in Connecticut trying manfully to
resurrect that first human, parental reaction of ours, the caring for those
lost, the caring that this kind of mass killing weapon should not be in the
hands of a nut, a murderer on a rampage, someone who wanted this very
weapon so that he could kill like he was in some house of horrors shooting
gallery, this soul dedicated to the nightmare.
Well, the question, perhaps the last question about gun safety, not just
now but for the foreseeable future, is whether the president can redeem
this one salvageable good from this horror. Can he get the Congress to
show the guts that those teachers showed when they stood up to the mass
killer? Can he get Toomey and Coburn and some of the others of the party
that prides itself in upholding personal responsibility to show some of
Can the Republicans tell the lost souls of Newtown they are here standing
with those unforgettable grown-ups who raced down, faced the killer with
nothing to shield them but a nobility of heart? Because we can use some of
that nobility, America can, in the days just ahead.
I`m joined by NBC`s political director and chief White House correspondent
Chuck Todd and Ron Reagan, an MSNBC contributor.
Guys, this is exactly what I`m hoping the president can do, restore the
moments when we first -- our first powerful impression of the kids and the
weapon used to kill them. And can he get that back into the hearts and
minds of the politicians?
First off, why don`t we start with this. People who saw this show haven`t
forgotten it. Last night, there was a stark reminder of what this current
debate about gun legislation is really about, as I said, the families of
the victims from the Newtown massacre. They told their stories on "60
Minutes." Many of them are coming to Washington this week on Air Force One
to urge Congress to vote on gun legislation, and they have a powerful
message. Let`s listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE HOCKLEY, SON KILLED IN NEWTOWN SHOOTING: They need to not just look
us in the eyes but look our children and the lost ones, and see those
faces, see what`s gone.
JIMMY GREEN, DAUGHTER KILLED IN NEWTOWN SHOOTING: We don`t get to move on.
We don`t have the benefit of turning the page to another piece of
legislation and having another debate and then playing politics the same
way we`ve been doing. We don`t have that benefit. We`re going to live
with this for the rest of our lives. So our legislators need to hear us.
DAVID WHEELER, SON KILLED IN NEWTOWN SHOOTING: It`s going to happen again.
It is going to happen again! And every time, you know, it`s somebody
else`s school. It`s somebody else`s town. It`s somebody else`s community.
Until one day you wake up, and it`s not!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s not somebody else`s. Chuck, we cover politics, but I think
this is deeper than just the usual, you know, spending bill or tax bill.
This is about the American heart and whether it`s open to the horror that
happened. It`s not just going back to the usual battle stations and play
the game of the NRA.
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Well, and it`s
that last sentence to me that`s the most haunting from David Wheeler. That
was who was speaking just then. Because you would hate to think that you
need another tragedy before something gets done, or you know, it takes
another moment, you know. And I think that that`s what the message, from
what I understand it, these Newtown families want to send to Congress is,
Don`t wait for it to happen again and be right back having the same
This is one that seemed to punch everybody in the stomach the same way
because, as you brought up, Chris, it was little kids. You know, it`s hard
enough at any school. It`s hard enough at any university. But then when
you realize it was 6-year-olds, and we all know the wonderment a 6-year-old
has. I have a 6-year-old. You just -- you just -- you can`t -- it just --
it eats at you in a way that -- that, you know, you cannot necessarily put
into words very well.
So I think that`s what the president is trying to spark. You know, in
December, right after Newtown happened, you feel like anything was possible
in Congress. Right now, it doesn`t look good. You want to look at the
straight-up politics of this, you want to look at where things are, it
doesn`t look good if you want to sit there and count votes. But if there`s
going to be something, this may be the last week. The White House is
treating this week, Chris, as make or break.
MATTHEWS: I agree with you completely. Ron Reagan, thank you for joining
us. It seems to me that question -- usually it`s complicated in politics.
It`s not now. Will Toomey, pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, will people like
Tom Coburn down in Oklahoma -- will they man up and say, Damn it, to the
NRA, I`m going to do something now because of what happened up there?
And the other way of putting this -- can the president use his rhetorical
magic that sometimes he`s had, obviously, and bring the reality of what
happened in December into the hearts and minds of the politicians? And
he`s going to do it within the hour, apparently, try to.
RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, these are
pretty hard-hearted people and pretty cynical people. It is shocking, and
frankly, shameful, that this soon after a tragedy like Sandy Hook, Newtown,
that we`re talking about, you know, loopholes and filibusters and things
It`s not just those 20 children, although Chuck is absolutely right. When
you see 20 kindergarteners, you know, dead, you think of that, it is
crushing to you. But it`s 30,000 people a year, Chris. This is
exponentially more than any other non-warfare, you know, ridden country has
every year -- 30,000 a year! That`s nearly a 9/11 every month, month after
month, year after year in this country.
And all we can manage is maybe a semi-universal background check? Ninety
percent of the public wants this. What`s the matter with our elected
representatives, Chris? What`s the matter with them?
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope they`re watching. Anyway, this weekend,
Connecticut governor Dan Malloy, who`s a good man, had some strong words
for the NRA`s Wayne LaPierre over his opposition to new gun laws. Let`s
watch the governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the
circus. They get the most attention, and that`s what he`s paid to do. I
mean, this guy is so out of whack, it`s unbelievable. Ninety-two percent
of the American people want universal background checks.
I can`t get on a plane, as the governor of the state of Connecticut,
without somebody running a background check on me. Why should you be able
to buy a gun or buy, you know, armor-piercing munitions? It doesn`t make
any sense. He doesn`t make any sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Chuck and Ron, we have a strong Constitution. It`s
been going on since the 1780s. So we`re going to hold together as a
country. But you know, when you look at countries that fail, it`s when
their parliamentary people, their politicians in parliament, simply do not
respond to the public`s will. They just don`t respond, whether it`s Latin
America, it`s somewhere else in the world.
This non-responsiveness of people like Boehner and Mitch McConnell and
these people I`ve talked about that just don`t care that 90 percent say
they want background checks -- what are they going to say to the people
when they go out to their town meetings? What are they going to say when
they campaign for reelection and their opponent says, Why didn`t this
character listen to us?
REAGAN: Well, that`s a very good question.
TODD: Well, Chris, I`d said...
REAGAN: Go ahead, Chuck. Sorry.
MATTHEWS: Chuck first.
REAGAN: Your turn.
TODD: That`s OK. Look, one of the issues here, Chris, is who shows up at
those town meetings that a Mitch McConnell or John Boehner goes to? It`s
going to be folks that are members of the NRA, and more strident members of
the NRA. And that`s been sort of part of the -- I think the
miscommunication. The public`s in one place, but what some of them, I
think some of the Republican members of the House, in particular -- their
constituents that show up to a town hall meeting are telling them something
else, so they feel as if they`re getting that feedback.
But I have to say, as pure political analysis, I do not understand what the
NRA is up to. I think they have watched as -- they were a powerful lobby
because they had bipartisan reach. They have now alienated a big chunk of
the Democratic Party in Congress and in Washington, and I think they`re
going to live to regret this down the road, maybe not today, maybe not
tomorrow, but someday when Democrats control the House again and they`re
wondering how come they don`t have allies anymore.
The first time Democrats took over the House in this decade, gun laws
weren`t touched. Why? Because the NRA had a reach into the Democratic
Party. But the way they`ve handled themselves post-Newtown, particularly
Mr. LaPierre, I think has been a PR disaster for the NRA. And I think
they`re going to wish they had done this over again. They seem to be more
worried about Larry Pratt and the Gun Owners of America outflanking them...
TODD: ... than they are about actually still controlling a good chunk of
Washington. I think they`ve really politically, just looking at the pure
politics of it, blown it.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how it stands politically right now, 13 Republican
U.S. senators are taking a hard line when it comes to gun legislation.
They`re threatening to filibuster. And take a look. They include Rand
Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but all those other senators.
Those senators sent a letter to Harry Reid saying, in part, quote, "We will
oppose the motion to proceed on any legislation that will serve as a
vehicle for any additional gun restrictions."
This weekend, Senator John McCain was asked what he thought about that
prospect of a filibuster -- in other words, the push by these 13 guys to
prevent any vote, even a meaningful debate, on gun control. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don`t understand it. The purpose of the
United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know
where we stand.
BOB SCHIEFFER, "FACE THE NATION": So you`d encourage Republicans not to
MCCAIN: I would not only encourage it, I don`t understand it. What are we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, that`s the good John McCain, Ron. There he is saying,
Let`s have a debate. If the whole country`s talking about gun safety, pro
and con, NRA included, Gun Owners of America included, gun safety people,
the 90 percent, how can they say, We`re not going to let the people vote on
this because we`re afraid if they do go to vote, then a lot of suburban
voters will tell their senators, Vote for the background check. At least
REAGAN: Yes. Exactly. They don`t want a vote because they know that
they`ll lose, at least on background checks, probably won`t get an assault
weapons ban through, but background checks, that`s a pretty -- that`s a no-
brainer there, but -- so they can`t let that happen.
Let`s not pretend that this is an ideological thing for most of these
people. You know, the NRA, the gun sellers of America, whatever you want
to call them, this is about money for them. They don`t care that 90
percent of the public wants one thing, universal background checks.
They`re looking at their strategy, and so far it`s been working. The more
frightened they make a smaller and smaller group of people that their guns
are going to be taken away, the more guns those people will buy.
And you know, at this point, only about 35 percent of the country owns
guns, but they own more and more and more guns. They`re stockpiling
weapons, and they`ve built a multi-billion dollar industry.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the moment we`re in right now. And Chuck,
size it up. You`re about to -- (INAUDIBLE) have the president on here as
soon as he makes his speech tonight.
MATTHEWS: It could come at the end of the hour or a little bit late. But
here`s the question. What`s Obama going to say to those people up there
that`s going to break through the barrier of the right wing and the NRA to
stop even a vote this week or next?
TODD: I think the best thing he has going for him is the fact that there`s
a fight to just simply prevent a vote. And that was -- you know, what was
the most effective rhetorical line we`ve heard the president use in his
State of the Union? When he went through at the end of that speech and he
invoked the memories of Gabby Giffords, evoked the memories of folks in
Aurora, evoked the memories of folks in Connecticut and said, They deserve
So I actually think that, in many ways, his political opponents here have
given him an easy opening. He`s not asking even to pass something. He
just wants a vote on something.
TODD: That makes it an easier -- if you`re looking at raw politics, that`s
an easy victory for him.
MATTHEWS: I`d hold that (INAUDIBLE) That`s the way I`d do it. I hope it
works tonight. We`ll be covering it when it happens. Chuck Todd, thank
you, from Connecticut, Ron Reagan joining us again.
Coming up: Guns aren`t the only issue coming to a head on the president`s
desk right now. There`s immigration, of course, and the budget fight. And
how these three turn out will have a lot to say about this president`s
legacy in history. But how does a president work with Republicans who
demand to be more -- he be more involved and then vote against it because
he`s more involved? Catch the Catch-22 here?
Also, when did the reflex response from the right to almost anything the
president wants to do, "Obama care," higher taxes on the wealthy, gun
restrictions, become, That`s an assault on my freedom? Could it be because
they`re losing the argument and have nothing else to say?
And the passing of Margaret Thatcher today at the age of 87 has prompted
reflections on her legacy. One of her most notable and least talked about
achievements was bringing an American-style spirit to British politics, the
grocer`s daughter breaking down class barriers to become prime minister.
By the way, the keyword there might be daughter, the first woman to lead a
Western power in our current times.
Finally, conspiracy theorists unite. Vice President Biden mentions the
word -- actually the words, "new world order," and some on the right
conclude the crazy interpretation, we`re on our way to one world
government. Boy, they`re easily spooked.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, you can add another senator to that growing list of
marriage equality supporters. South Dakota`s Tim Johnson says he backs
same-sex marriage. That brings the total number of U.S. senators endorsing
gay marriage to 54. That`s out of 100. Senator Johnson announced last
month that he won`t run for reelection in an increasingly red South Dakota
when his current term ends after next year.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As I said, we`re about to enter a
hugely important period for President Obama and the country. Congress is
returning from its spring break, and the next few weeks in this city could
determine, well, among other things, the president`s legacy in this
Will he be remembered for passing gun control legislation with background
checks for gun buyers? Will history show him signing comprehensive
immigration reform at some point? Will he and congressional Republicans
work out some kind of "grand bargain," call it what you want, that combines
tax reform, that raises revenues, with entitlement cuts and reforms?
Well, the president`s at a critical juncture, as I said. And the question
tonight for the Republicans, are they willing to work with him at all? And
how does he get them on board without scaring away Democrats in the
The usual challenge, and we`ve got our HARDBALL strategists here tonight to
advise their camps. They`re not going to squabble, they`re going to
advise. We`re going to figure out how this works tonight.
McMahon, you`re so smart. You`re in the corner with the president. He
invites you in. I got three big issues on the table. Gun control looks
very dicey now.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Immigration is a must-win. And this budget deal -- I put my
best thing on the table, let`s see if they react. Which of those three
should he get out front on and say, This is the Obama bill? I`m putting my
face out in front, and which should he fight for or lead from behind, as
MCMAHON: Well, actually, right now, he`s already made that decision. He`s
out front. He`s in Connecticut tonight talking about the importance of gun
control and reasonable restrictions that most Americans agree with. So
I think there`s one thing you left off, Chris, which is his legacy,
ultimately, is going to be health care reform and budget-related. He`s got
to make sure health care reform works, which means finding a way to get it
implemented so that people understand the value in their lives. I think
he`s in a very good position coming out on this budget conversation and
bringing a budget forward...
MATTHEWS: Because he`s put his cards on the table.
MCMAHON: He puts his cards on the table. He looks perfectly reasonable.
In the immigration debate, I think the president is also looking very
MATTHEWS: But there he`s leading from behind.
MCMAHON: Well, he`s leading from behind only because he wants the Senate
to act first. But he will lead on this, if that`s what it takes.
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s -- let me ask you the last question to you, and
then I`ll go to John. People tell me -- I mean, I know this, this is what
I think about all the time -- they hate him so much on the Republican right
that if he puts his face on any bill -- it`s called the Obama immigration
bill -- it doesn`t pass the Republican House, and therefore he gets nothing
MATTHEWS: Is that true?
MCMAHON: There are a couple things going on here. The first is the
president wins by looking reasonable, especially on things...
MATTHEWS: No, I mean getting stuff done. In the end, you`re judged by
what you get done.
MCMAHON: Well, but he`s already gotten a number of things done that he has
to make sure work. The Republicans, by the way, are going into 2014 with a
brand problem. People think they don`t get it. They think they`re out of
MATTHEWS: OK. Nice try.
MCMAHON: And he can win on that...
MCMAHON: No, no. He can take the House...
MATTHEWS: ... passivity (ph). Let me go back to you on this question.
Should the Republicans beat him on everything? Do they actually win if we
get no gun safety? Do Republicans win if we get no immigration reform or
no deal on the budget? Do they win with three losses for the country?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don`t think so. Your question is a
good one. Here`s how I look at it. On gun control, it`s easy for the
Republicans to oppose Obama. It`s not so easy for Republicans to oppose
the parents. So I think on gun control, he has to step back and let the
parents of those kids -- and I feel for those parents so desperately --
that that`s how you get...
MATTHEWS: Would you give a vote on the Senate? Would you let the Senate
vote on background checks?
FEEHERY: I think if -- if Harry Reid wants a vote, they`re going to get a
vote. I think they will get a vote on background checks. I don`t think
that -- I think it was unwise to go for assault weapons, that that...
MATTHEWS: No, but are they going to get 60 votes to break the filibuster
on the background checks?
FEEHERY: I think ultimately they will get that thing, because I think Pat
Toomey wants to get something done. I think it`s important to get
something done, and something modest that doesn`t scare people.
MATTHEWS: I`m watching Toomey.
FEEHERY: I know you are.
MATTHEWS: I know, because I think -- because I think -- we have been
talking to our producers.
MATTHEWS: And it`s really tricky, where he stands. Is he going to back
gun safety in a state that`s gun -- pro-gun like Pennsylvania or not?
MCMAHON: A blue state.
FEEHERY: I think they`re going to ultimately get some sort of modest deal
on gun safety.
FEEHERY: By the way, let me ask you -- let me say -- on the rest of your
question, on the budget, I think he needs to leads on entitlement reform.
And on immigration...
MATTHEWS: He`s done it.
FEEHERY: ... he`s got -- I know.
FEEHERY: That`s the start of the process. But he`s got to keep pounding
MATTHEWS: What about your side? Should your guys give on revenues?
FEEHERY: You know, taxes just went up.
MATTHEWS: For the rich 1 percent.
FEEHERY: And it hurt economic growth. It hurt economic growth. I think
MATTHEWS: You keep pulling this number. I said no rhetoric tonight. You
keep saying taxes are going up on the top 1 percent.
MCMAHON: Will John Boehner take...
MATTHEWS: I`m doing this.
FEEHERY: I think that ultimately if he leads enough on entitlement reform,
he could get some revenue. We will see. And then on...
MATTHEWS: Would you go with him if you were a Republican leader? Would
you say, OK, you have done a good thing on Medicare reform and you have
done some other things on the cost of living adjustment?
FEEHERY: If he goes all in on entitlement reform, I think they could get
revenues as part of that.
MATTHEWS: OK, immigration. Do Republicans want that monkey on their back?
FEEHERY: On immigration, I think this has to be a true, true cooperation.
I think you have figure out a way to get Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to get
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FEEHERY: And I think ultimately you have to get 70 votes out of the Senate
to get enough momentum to get it through the House.
MATTHEWS: Does the president want the issue of immigration going into the
2014 election or does he want a bill by then or he would rather have -- get
the House back in Democratic hands in `14 and then in `15 or `16 do
immigration? What would he rather do?
MCMAHON: I think he would rather get the bill.
MATTHEWS: Before the election?
MCMAHON: But if he doesn`t get the bill, he wants to embarrass the
Republicans. He wants to push them too far.
MCMAHON: So he gets a Democratic Congress.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get the issue that`s really changed in our lifetime, gay
As I mentioned a bit earlier, South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson
became the 54th senator to endorse same-sex marriage today in what has
become a whirlwind of support the last few weeks. Let`s look back and take
a look. Less than a year ago in May 2012, Joe Biden publicly supported
same-sex marriage on "Meet the Press." He was way out front, prompting the
president to do the same just a few days later.
And then Nevada Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid the next day said he,
too, thought gays should be able to marry legally. Fast-forward to the
last month, where we have seen an incredible swell of support, starting
with Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman in mid-March, citing his gay son
as his reason to reevaluate the position, his position. Hillary Clinton
just three days later taped a video for the Human Rights Campaign endorsing
And then came Senators McCaskill, Rockefeller, Warner, Begich, Tester,
Hagan, Casey, Carper, Kirk, Bill Nelson, Heitkamp, Donnelly, and today Tim
Johnson, also -- all, by the way, in a matter of weeks. Just three Senate
Democrats have not backed it, Louisiana`s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas`s Mark
Pryor and West Virginia`s Joe Manchin. They`re the more conservative
Why does it seem to be happening day after day after day? Is this a big
plus for Democrats, period?
MCMAHON: Yes. I think it`s a big plus for Democrats. I think the
Republicans now have some explaining to do only because it`s the party of
limited government. It`s the party of get government out of our life and
it`s also, in this case, the party of hypocrisy, because they seem to be
MATTHEWS: OK. That`s what you would say if you`re a Democrat.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Does your party have a problem here with...
MATTHEWS: How many gay -- the Hill has got plenty of gay staffers, gay
Republicans. Not all of them are elected. But there are a lot of gay
Republicans around. We all know that.
MATTHEWS: How do they stand this position, the active people who are
really in politics?
FEEHERY: I think the most interesting thing that was happening, when Rob
Portman made his decision to come out in favor of gay marriage, all these
Democrats immediately said, OK, I`m with Rob Portman.
MATTHEWS: So, what do you think that was about?
FEEHERY: I think it was because they didn`t want -- they were worried
about their constituencies back home. And I think that for Rob Portman, if
MATTHEWS: So, he`s the leader?
FEEHERY: I think in many ways he changed a lot of minds for the Democrats.
It`s been fascinating. Now, there are three Democrats...
MCMAHON: That`s a good spin.
MATTHEWS: Do you have to be a Republican -- does your kid have to be gay
for you to come out for gay marriage if you`re Republican?
FEEHERY: Although it may not be a rule.
MATTHEWS: This is all politics is local.
Let`s get back to the election. You guys have to write a party platform in
2016. Will it, again, be anti-gay?
FEEHERY: I have no idea. That`s a long time from now.
MATTHEWS: Well, when are they going to stop doing it?
FEEHERY: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Whacking the gays by saying...
FEEHERY: The people who write the platform are not necessarily the people
who vote. That`s a small group and they...
MATTHEWS: But you are running the platform.
FEEHERY: They run the platform.
MATTHEWS: You guys...
MATTHEWS: This is like the cafeteria Catholic. He ignores anything in the
platform he doesn`t like. But they keep writing this stuff.
FEEHERY: There are plenty of things in the Democratic -- the Republicans
have been ignoring their platform for years.
MATTHEWS: OK. Suppose you`re giving the Democrat -- the Republican
Convention acceptance speech. You`re Chris Christie, or really somebody,
Rand Paul, whoever gets the nomination next time. Right? Rubio, probably.
Will you make a case against gay marriage in that speech? Would you hold
MATTHEWS: Does your party still carry that banner?
FEEHERY: What I would focus completely in that convention speech is
economic growth. I wouldn`t even talk about gay marriage. And I think
that bashing gays is a political loser.
MATTHEWS: Would you come out for same-sex marriage if you`re the candidate
next time of your party?
FEEHERY: I might depending on how I feel.
MATTHEWS: I might depending on how...
FEEHERY: If it were the Republican...
MATTHEWS: This is like situation ethics. I might depending how I feel.
FEEHERY: I don`t think it`s going to be that big of a political issue next
MATTHEWS: You mean your advisers -- the guys like him and you won`t tell
him to do it?
FEEHERY: I think our guys -- I don`t think it`s going to be that big of a
MATTHEWS: What will Ed Rollins tell you to do if you`re the candidate?
FEEHERY: I don`t know. I think Ed Rollins -- what did he tell Michele
MATTHEWS: I think you guys are going to do just what you said, tuck it.
You`re going to hide that baby.
Thank you, Steve McMahon, who can`t resist being the candidate himself, and
John Feehery. Thank you, gentlemen.
MATTHEWS: A big Irish night here.
MATTHEWS: Up next, speaking of the Irish, Joe Biden inadvertently fuels
the right-wing conspiracy nuts. He`s out there talking about new world
order. That`s their phrase for black helicopters.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
First, Vice President Joe Biden unintentionally provides catnip for the
world of conspiracy. Biden was talking about trade laws at a banking
conference this Friday. Here`s the line that kicked off the storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The affirmative task we
have now is to actually create a new world order, because the global order
is changing again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, Biden said new world order, meaning that the international
community needs to revamp trade laws to reflect the times.
But in far-right conspiracy world, out there, new world order is a secret
plot where individual nations are absorbed by a single world government.
You may remember Alex Jones` tirade at Piers Morgan last year suggested
that the government, our government was out to confiscate all our guns.
On Biden`s nod to a new world order he said -- quote -- "Vice President Joe
Biden threw caution to the wind Friday as he shockingly declared the
affirmative task we have now is to actually create a new world order,
adding yet another admission to an already long list of documented
globalist bragging of plans for a centralized one world global government."
Well, to Jones and his cohorts, any cooperation among governments and in
multinational banks is evidence that this one world government is in the
Also, what can Broun do for you? Well, Congressman Paul Broun, that is,
the Georgia Republican who said evolution and the Big Bang theory were --
quote -- "lies straight from the pit of hell," well, Broun carved out time
at a recent town hall meeting to rail against Obamacare, specifically a
recently withdrawn proposal that would have provided coverage for sex
Why his operation -- or why his opposition? Broun put it like this --
quote -- "I don`t want to pay for a sex change operation I`m not interested
in. I like being a boy." In other words, why should I pay for something
if I personally don`t directly benefit? By the way, if Broun`s logic, if
you can call it that, sounds familiar, think back to what Senator Saxby
Chambliss said about his opposition to gay marriage last month -- quote --
"I`m not gay, so I`m not going to marry one."
Next, we turn to my overseas look-alike, London Mayor Boris Johnson. See
for yourself in this little -- no, they didn`t get the right picture. We
really do look alike in other pictures. Johnson is no stranger to silly
situations, like getting stuck on a zip line during a ceremony at the
London Olympics. Well, earlier today, Boris Johnson channeled Michael
You won`t believe this shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A lot of action in that basket. Anyway, see what I mean? If
that looked effortless to you, there`s a reason, according to the mayor,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON: Let`s be very clear. I was saving that
up. I mean, I could have done it any time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I have always -- always had it up the sleeve, pay.
President Obama hasn`t been so lucky of late, going two for 22 when he hit
court at the White House Easter egg roll last week.
Up next, remembering Margaret Thatcher, who broke down class and, of
course, gender barriers to become Britain`s first female prime minister --
and a great one at that.
And that`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
JON FORTT, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jon Fortt with your CNBC "Market Wrap."
Stocks turn positive. The Dow ends up 48. The S&P adds nine, and the
Nasdaq gains 18.
Aluminum giant Alcoa kicked off the start of the earnings season. It
posted a profit of 11 cents a share, which is better than expected, but
revenue fell short.
GE is making a big purchase. It`s buying oil field services firm Lufkin
Industries for $3.3 billion.
And J.C. Penney shares are volatile after hours after the company ousted
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As we reported earlier in the show, former British Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher passed away this morning at the age of 87. It`s not an
exaggeration to say that her 11 years and half as British prime minister
were historic. She held that post longer than any other British
And she was the first woman to lead the U.K. and the first woman really to
lead a Western power in modern history. I guess you have to go back to
Elizabeth I to see an earlier version of leadership in the world.
Well, today, British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of her influence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have lost a great prime
minister, a great leader, a Great Briton.
As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all
the odds. And the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn`t
just lead our country; she saved our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now is the great historian Doug Brinkley
and the great correspondent for NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent
Andrea Mitchell, the host of the "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" program on this
I was awoken on this -- you were as well -- on "MORNING JOE." And we knew
it was coming. She had dementia. She had Alzheimer`s all those years, but
it was in private life. I think she`s probably the greatest prime minister
of Britain since Churchill, regardless of the ideological things we can
always fight about.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There were many
domestic issues in the U.K. where she was derided and hated. She was tough
on immigrants. There were riots in the streets.
But she had such character and grit. She was consistent. She was, like
her friend Ronald Reagan, consistent in her beliefs. And she was so tough.
She loved the combat. She loved question time. She was perfect for the
time and the place. And in war and peace, she was, you know, not just a
cold warrior, because she was the first, as we all know, to recognize the
potential in Mikhail Gorbachev. And Ronald Reagan listened to her about
I talked to Jim Baker today. He said they had a seamless relationship,
only one dispute, over Grenada, his invasion of...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Why not?
MATTHEWS: He never even called her until he was told to.
MITCHELL: He called her the night before.
MITCHELL: And she said, Ronnie, that is not consultation. That is
MATTHEWS: Well, he did the same thing to Tip O`Neill, by the way, that
MATTHEWS: Anyway, secret meeting.
Let me go to Doug.
It seems to me the key to a leader is understanding your culture, your
nationalism. Her sense of British nationalism was very close to Reagan`s.
It was very nationalistic, her sense of how to connect with her people.
We love Britain. We want her back.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, that`s right.
I mean, she waved the Union Jack just like Ronald Reagan waved the American
flag. And it brings you very far in politics. We ought to remember the
times she enter there, Chris, in 1979, there was a fatigue, an exhaustion
of the `60s and `70s, not just in America with Vietnam, but Britain didn`t
know what they were doing, really.
Dean Acheson famously said at West Point in 1962, Britain has lost an
empire and hasn`t found a role for itself. And by the time Thatcher came
in, she was able to get them proud of being Britons again. And I think the
Falklands War was this seminal turning point.
BRINKLEY: Also, for a woman to be overseeing a military exercise like has
had a big impact.
MATTHEWS: I`m thinking of Elizabeth I, the great queen who fought the
armada. And I think of her.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary is probably going to run. I don`t know if she
will. She will probably run. And who will her role model be?
And here`s the question. Thatcher ran very much as sort of a classic male
politician. I`m the leader, I have the truth, listen to me, and follow me.
I don`t want a meeting on it.
MITCHELL: Colin Powell told me today that she was -- they were afraid of
her handbag. They thought...
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, she always carried that.
MITCHELL: She was she going to hit them with the handbag.
She was very feminine in her funny way.
MATTHEWS: I met her. She was personally...
MITCHELL: And a very sympathetic character personally.
You would have dinner with her or -- if you sat down to interview her, I
remember interviewing her at the height of the controversy over
intermediate nuclear missile deployments in Europe.
MITCHELL: And she stood by Reagan on that. She stood by him on strategic
defense which was derided as "Star Wars." When you questioned her about
that, she absolutely came down on you. She was very, very tough.
MATTHEWS: You made a good case this morning on the fact we are using
MATTHEWS: Certainly, point defense in Israel and our West Coast. We`re
thinking a lot about the North Koreans about this right now.
Let me go back to the woman role and the idea of a woman leader. Of
course, we have Golda Meir in Israel, a tough cookie. And we have Indira
Gandhi. He was assassinated. But these are great leaders in history. And
yet they are rare. And my question --
MITCHELL: Angela Merkel.
MATTHEWS: And, Merkel, of course. You`re very good.
You know what? It`s certainly interesting, but this woman, Thatcher, could
modulate. I met her briefly one time before she went on and spoke to the
House of Representatives, to the Congress. She was very nice. I walked in
the room thinking here`s the Iron Lady, I better be careful. She`s the
nicest person in the world. So is Dennis, her husband.
That`s still the problem, challenge for women. How can you be tough and a
leader? The same time not tick off some guys out there which is always the
Doug? You`re a guy. You got to answer this.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, EISENHOWER CTR. FOR AMERICAN STUDIES: Well, so her name
was, you know, Margaret Roberts was her maiden name. Unlike Hillary
Clinton or Eleanor Roosevelt, it wasn`t a husband who promoted her. She
was working class, lived above a grocery store, really made her own way
And even the Iron Lady, I mean, originally the task network and the Soviet
Union used it as a criticism of her and mocked her. She embraced that Iron
Lady motif. Yet she always had the learned manners of the British
Reagan would always let her walk in front as a proper lady. And that word,
"Lady", she took very seriously, yet she was a hawk on the Cold War and was
suspicious of the European integration movement, particularly the euro, was
more about the special alliance -- I think -- with the U.S.
I think there is, like you said, Chris, Churchill and FDR, and then there`s
Thatcher and Reagan. She embodies what the special relationship`s all
MATTHEWS: The great thing about Churchill, and I`m a Churchill buff, or
nut even, was he knew he had to fight the Nazis. There was no talking to
these guys. They had to be beaten. I watched "Winds of War" the other
night again. The guy says the only thing I want to know about the Germans
is how to lick them. That`s the only way.
Whereas, the Soviets, Churchill and her, they always knew it came down to
talks. You had to negotiate. They weren`t crazy, these communists. You
could deal with them on self-interest and you can get somewhere.
And they both ended up getting somewhere with Gorbachev.
MITCHELL: Which was not easily forecastable. But it was when she said, I
can go business with him, I like Gorbachev. Reagan had to listen to that.
He had not met with any Soviet leader because he said, well, they keep
dying on me.
MITCHELL: Khrushchev, Andropov and Chernenko.
MITCHELL: But, now, this young man, Gorbachev, she sized him up and said
we can do business with him. And as you remember, that first time, it was
tough but it led to a lot of other things.
MATTHEWS: Geneva was very important. You were there I`m sure.
Thank you, Doug Brinkley. Great historian.
And thank you, Andrea Mitchell, my colleague.
Up next, ever notice how any time Republicans don`t like something
President Obama wants to do, they call it an assault on freedom? Well,
their latest scare tactic, that certainly is. We`re going to talk about
whether it`s working or not. It doesn`t seem to be.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go right now to the University of Hartford and the
(PRESIDENT OBAMA`S SPEECH)
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