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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for thursday, June 27th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

June 27, 2013
Guests: Alex Ferrer, John Feehery, Robert Menendez, Cecile Richards, Nia-
Malika Henderson

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Witness for the prosecution.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Michael Smerconish, in for Chris Matthews.

Leading off tonight: Back on the stand. For a second day, Rachel Jeantel,
who`s been described as the prosecution`s key witness, underwent a long and
grueling cross-examination in the trial of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, of
course, is accused of murdering the unarmed Trayvon Martin earlier last

Defense attorney Don West worked tirelessly to exploit holes in Jeantel`s
testimony, trying to discredit the young woman who was the last person to
speak to Martin moments before he was killed.

And in fact, as he did yesterday, West exposed a number of inconsistencies
in Jeantel`s numerous efforts to describe what happened that night. But
what is not as clear is whether West managed to successfully challenge the
core of her story, that George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin moments
before their fatal confrontation.

Joining me now, MSNBC legal analysts Lisa Bloom and former Florida circuit
court judge Alex Ferrer.

Judge Alex, is she as integral to the prosecution of this case as we have
all made her out to be?

ALEX FERRER, HOST, "JUDGE ALEX": She absolutely is. I mean, she is the
key witness. She was talking to him at the time of the confrontation, or
right up to the confrontation. She provides a lot of detail that the
prosecution would love the jury to believe.

She testifies about the fact that Trayvon Martin says to Zimmerman, when he
supposedly approaches him, Why are you following me? And Zimmerman
responds, What are you doing here? And it kind of buttresses their claim
that Zimmerman is the one who went over to check out what is Trayvon Martin
doing, despite the fact that the operator said, Don`t approach him, we
don`t need you to do that.

She adds some additional language that we hadn`t really heard before, where
she says that right before the phone went dead, she hears Trayvon saying,
Get off, get off, or, Get off me, words to that effect, which certainly
implies and the logical interpretation is he`s been jumped by George
Zimmerman, which -- which goes along with the state`s prosecution theory,
as well.

SMERCONISH: Lisa, anecdotally, I can support something that I`ve heard you
say repeatedly on the "TODAY" show and on MSNBC, and that is that her
credibility is in the eyes of the beholder. On the radio today, it broke
on racial lines. I said that I thought yesterday, she was a weak witness,
and I was overwhelmed from calls by African-Americans today who said,
You`re completely misreading the situation.

LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Overwhelmingly on social media and
elsewhere, a lot of people have expressed support for her. They feel that
she was being almost abused on the witness stand. It was harassment, it
was too much, it`s not fair, people don`t understand her.

You know, I look at this through the framework of a criminal trial. This
is a murder trial. Every witness who tells a story is going to be cross-
examined in the same way that she was, and yet she has elicited a lot of
sympathy. She`s a 19-year-old young woman who just finished her junior
year at high school. She cannot read cursive handwriting, she had to
admit, even though she signed a letter that was written in cursive by a
friend and she had the friend write it.

So this is a young woman with perhaps some learning disabilities. There
were perhaps some language issues. And as you say, there`s been a strong
sentiment in her favor.

SMERCONISH: But if it`s the case, Alex, that it breaks along racial lines
in terms of how people interpret her testimony, we need to remind folks
that this is a jury of six women and no African-Americans.

FERRER: Well, that`s absolutely true, but I -- I don`t think that this
jury is going to say, Oh, well, we`re white and Zimmerman is white, so
we`re going to go along those lines. But they are going to have a harder
time understanding the cultural differences that the audience out there is
understanding. That is absolutely true.

She did herself a lot of disfavors yesterday because of her attitude and
the way she came off on the stand because if the jury doesn`t like her,
they`re less likely to believe her. Now, they may not like her and say, I
still believe her, but you don`t want -- that acts against you if you`re
the prosecution. You want the jury to like and relate to your witnesses,
and they may have had a hard time yesterday, an easier time today.

BLOOM: You know, I would add to that that you can like her and still not
believe her because I think where the defense...

FERRER: That is true.

BLOOM: ... is going with her testimony is she was trying to help the
Martin family, and that`s why her story has evolved, because she felt sorry
for them. Initially, she said she thought this was just a fight and that`s
why she didn`t call the police. Now she comes in and says that he was
being stalked and the final words were, Get off, get off. And so I think
the defense can characterize this in a way that`s respectful to her but
that also makes their point.

SMERCONISH: In this morning`s testimony, defense attorney Don West tried
to establish a string of inconsistencies in Rachel Jeantel`s descriptions
of events. Here`s one.


DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN ATTORNEY: You lied because you wanted to give a
plausible answer to Ms. Fulton as to why you didn`t go to the wake.


WEST: But on the April 2nd interview, you were, in fact, under oath.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you knew that.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And you made a decision then because of how difficult the situation
you had just been put in -- you decided to lie about going to the hospital,
rather than say something that might be painful.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.


SMERCONISH: Lisa Bloom, if likability is a factor in this, I think that
Don West and Rachel Jeantel have some degree of parity. I thought he went
too far today, too long-winded and could have shut down that cross-
examination a lot sooner.

BLOOM: Well, he was not concise, and you lose people`s attention and you
lose their affection when you repeat the same point over and over again,
and that`s what he did.

Listen, I`m a trial lawyer. I`m watching this case every minute of the
day. I can make a list of all the discrepancies that he got out of her,
but I don`t think most people, even the jurors, are watching that closely
and analyzing that closely. Most people are watching this case, sitting
back and trying to get the point, and you just lose the forest for the

FERRER: (INAUDIBLE) He`ll bring it together in closing. Closing is when
he`s going to get up there and say, Remember these discrepancies? She
never said this before until after she met with Mr. Crump or after she met
with the -- one of the things that really stood out to me was the police,
the first time they interview her.

She`s a crucial witness, pick her up along with Trayvon`s mother and Mr.
Crump, the family lawyer, take them over to Trayvon`s mother`s house, and
she sits there and gives an interview to the police, and basically, this is
an eyewitness or an ear-witness to a murder, OK? They`re interviewing her
with the victim`s mother sitting there.

I`ve never heard of that in a criminal prosecution. No police department
would ever take the witness that they want to interview to decide if
they`re going to prosecute and bring the family of the victim and sit them
next to them. It really gives a bad light to the prosecution.

SMERCONISH: At another point in the trial, the defense attorney in this
case, Don West, tried to poke holes in Rachel Jeantel`s description of what
she heard on her end of the phone during that last call with Trayvon
Martin. Let`s listen.


WEST: So the last thing you heard was some kind of noise like something
hitting somebody.

JEANTEL: (INAUDIBLE) Trayvon got hit.

WEST: You don`t know that, do you.

JEANTEL: No, sir.

WEST: You don`t know that Trayvon got hit.


WEST: You don`t know that Trayvon...


WEST: ... didn`t, at that moment, take his fist and drive it into George
Zimmerman`s face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please lower your voice.

WEST: Do you?

JEANTEL: No, sir.


SMERCONISH: Lisa, in her testimony, she also related that she heard the
sound that she ascribed to wet grass. And that was one of those moments
yesterday when all of a sudden, my antenna went up and I thought, that
sounds like the sort of thing you pull from a police report or a media
report. And again, phone callers to me said, You`re being too harsh on

BLOOM: Well, you know, there`s two different languages being spoken here,
right? Rachel Jeantel speaks the language that people outside of the
courtroom speak. It sounded like wet grass, right? In a courtroom, you
have to be very, very precise. What exactly was the sound? You don`t
really know that he was hit, do you, because you couldn`t see anything.
You`re making an assumption.

Most of us in normal conversation, we make assumptions all of the time.
She`s not familiar with the courtroom and the rules of evidence, and of
course, Don West is.

SMERCONISH: Alex, listen to this. Let`s everybody watch this bit of her
testimony so that they know what I`m talking about.


WEST: Are you saying that the sound of west grass that you used (ph) to
describe this yesterday, as you describe it today, you`re saying that you
believe that it was people rolling around on the ground?

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

WEST: And what`s that based on? What is the sound you heard that led to
that conclusion?

JEANTEL: I really don`t know how to describe it.


SMERCONISH: Alex, how do you read that?

FERRER: Well, I mean, it`s a fair question. When you say something like,
you know, I heard the sound of wet grass, he`s going to come after you and
go, What is -- what does that sound like? And how have you ever heard it
to say that over the phone, in the background, you`re going to be able to
tell people are struggling?

The thing here is this is the prosecution`s side of the case. This is the
part of the case where we should be going, Wow, this a powerful case
against George Zimmerman because when they get to the defense side, it`s
going to eat away at the prosecution`s side, and every witness the
prosecution has called has given a point for the prosecution and maybe a
point or two for the defense. So they`re in a tough position.

SMERCONISH: Well, to that issue, Lisa, I believe I`m getting the entire
defense version of this without George Zimmerman testifying. And I forget
what the word choice was, cold cock or sucker punch...

BLOOM: Sucker punch.

SMERCONISH: Sucker punch. You know what I`m talking about.


SMERCONISH: There was that moment when Don West, in a to her, said
something to the effect of, What if there had been a sucker punch thrown at
George Zimmerman? And I thought, well, gee, Zimmerman doesn`t have to take
the stand now because the jury just heard this.

BLOOM: I think you`re putting your finger on one of the really interesting
issues in the case, which is will George Zimmerman testify? I think the
defense wants to keep him off the stand because they don`t want him to be

He`s got inconsistencies in the stories that he told. He wrote out a
police statement right after the incident. He submitted to a videotaped
interrogation the next day. And there are inconsistencies. Perhaps they
are innocent. Perhaps he was telling lies.

I think the defense would love to get the videotaped statement in or even
the handwritten statement in. They may not be able to do that themselves
because it could be hearsay. The prosecution may get it in. I mean, all
of this is a little bit of legal gamesmanship, but it remains to be seen.
I think the prosecution wants to force the defense`s hand and make him

SMERCONISH: Alex, at the end of today`s testimony, it was the woman who
logged the 911 call, where in the background you heard the plea for help.
And as you well know, the expert testimony was disallowed, and yet the jury
has heard that tape repeatedly. I think that`s significant. I think that
they will each bring their lay experience and try and analyze who is crying
for help, and that could be outcome-determinative.

FERRER: Well, if they could identify who was crying for help, it
absolutely is outcome-determinative at the end of the case. They can`t on
an expert level, as you and I have discussed before, and it was right to
keep the expert testimony out. It was not reliable testimony.

But what you`re left with is this wailing on the tape, which is very
impactful. The jury heard it. I`m sure they reacted to it, no matter how
many times they hear it.

And then you`re going to hear Trayvon`s parents get on and say, That`s my
child. Even though Tracy, the father, has said in the past that`s not
Trayvon`s voice, he now is on board that it is his voice and maybe he
reconsidered it.

You`re going to have Zimmerman`s parents saying that`s George`s voice.
Neither of them have probably ever heard their child screaming in a
panicked stage for -- state for their life. So how certain they are and
how much the jury will give -- how much weight they`ll give to that, I
don`t know. It may end up being a wash at the end of the day.

SMERCONISH: Lisa, the lawyering in this case -- I just have a minute left.
But are Mark O`Mara and Don West involved in a good cop/bad cop routine?

BLOOM: That`s an interesting perspective. I don`t think so. I think
they`re both fine defense lawyers. You know, certainly, Don West has made
his mistakes, the knock-knock joke. He tends to run on...


BLOOM: ... far too long...

FERRER: Huge mistake.

BLOOM: Too long-winded, all right? But he`s making some really important
points, and he`s trying to save his client from 25 years to life in prison.
So he`s doing his job.

SMERCONISH: It`s really great to see both of you. Lisa Bloom and Alex
Ferrer, I appreciate your having been here.

FERRER: It was a pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Coming up, the fallout from the gay marriage decision. One
Republican is already calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-
sex marriage. But this isn`t 2004, when Republicans were able to use it as
a wedge issue against John Kerry. Next year, Democrats may be able to ride
the tide of public opinion to make gay marriage work for them.

Also, late today, the Senate passed the immigration reform bill 68 to 32,
and now comes the hard part. Is there any chance the House will go along?

Also, we can all agree it was great theater, the filibuster in Texas that
prevented the legislature from passing a bill that would shut down most of
the state`s abortion clinics. But the bill is likely pass next month
anyway. The question -- will abortion rights advocates around the country
be inspired to copy what they saw on Tuesday night?

And ever wonder how Supreme Court reporters get their hands on decisions so
fast? As it turns out, it takes a village, a real fast village.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


SMERCONISH: The manhunt for NSA leaker Edward Snowden has generated plenty
of attention. One person who clearly doesn`t think it`s all that big of a
deal, President Obama. Listen to what the president said about the hunt
for Snowden.


scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.


SMERCONISH: The president said that he hasn`t spoken to presidents of
Russia or China about Snowden and doesn`t want the issue elevated so that
it becomes a bargaining chip between America and her rivals.

We`ll be right back.



OBAMA: First of all, I think the Supreme Court ruling yesterday was not
simply a victory for the LGBT community, I think it was a victory for
American democracy. I believe at the root of who we are as a people, as
Americans, is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law.


SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama this
morning reacting to yesterday`s historic decision from the Supreme Court
overturning a major part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Speaker of the House John Boehner certainly had a more muted response.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, as you`re probably
aware, I was disappointed in the ruling yesterday. You know, I believe
that -- I believe in traditional marriage. But there are people on both
sides of this issue with very heartfelt feelings about it. And I respect
those views. The court`s made its decision. And you know, I have no -- no
plans on -- no plans at this point in terms of how the House would move
ahead on this.


SMERCONISH: Now, while Boehner`s response was moderate, the reaction from
many in his party has been anything but. Republican congressman Tim
Huelskamp said that he planned to introduce a federal amendment to define
marriage as between one man and one woman. Former Arkansas governor Mike
Huckabee reacted to the news of the decision by tweeting, quote, "My
thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same-sex marriage is OK,
Jesus wept."

All this could be a political problem for Republicans. While Americans in
general seem to be growing more comfortable with the idea of same-sex
marriage, many Republican politicians seem increasingly going out of step.

"The Washington Post`s" Dan Balz put it this way. Quote, "Less than a
decade ago, Republicans considered the issue a valuable political weapon
with which to rally conservatives and put Democrats on the defensive.
Today, although a majority of Republicans continue to oppose same-sex
marriage, Republican leaders and candidates are on the defensive. Their
positions may not have changed, but many of them are silent on the issue,
particularly in the context of political campaigns. History is moving
against Republicans on this."

David Axelrod is a former senior adviser to President Obama and now an
MSNBC senior political analyst. John Feehery is a Republican strategist.

David, you`ve been around the track. Have you ever seen a wedge issue jump
aisles like this before?

It`s moved quickly. You know what I was struck by today -- I was watching
the vote on immigration -- two thirds of the Republicans in the Senate
opposed immigration reform. You see Republicans on the wrong side of
public opinion on this issue. You see the Republicans mounting campaigns
to restrict a woman`s right to choose.

And you look at what happened in 2012, where they got beaten so badly among
Latinos, among young people, among women. And you have to ask yourself,
what did -- what are they looking at? What did they learn here? Because
it seems like they`re just digging a deeper hole with a lot of
constituencies around this country.

SMERCONISH: John Feehery, I have a scenario in my head. I see a whole new
crop of Akins and Mourdochs and O`Donnells and Angles, and you know all
those names, the sort of folks who win on a litmus test in a Republican
primary and could never win a general election.

How does the Republican Party prevent against the emergence of those sort
of candidates?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think what they have to do is
try to do a better job of picking the right winners in the primaries, try
to cultivate people who have some vast experience not only business
experience but also governing experience and have been vetted in campaigns.

I don`t think that`s necessarily a big problem. And I think that this
ruling obviously is a jump ball. It throws it back to the states. There
are 36 states that have on the books right now laws against same-sex
marriage. So -- and I think that the red states are going to get redder, I
think the blue states are going to get bluer.

And in a national election, I don`t disagree that a Republican candidate
has to understand that they want to be competitive in blue states, they
have to calibrate their message. And I also think that with a lot of fund-
raising for Republicans, they need to be careful on this issue, because
there`s a huge fund-raising potential with the gay community.


SMERCONISH: Today at his press conference in Senegal, President Obama made
some news, suggesting the Supreme Court decision overturning part of DOMA
should be applied to all 50 states.

Here`s the president.


but I`m speaking now as a president, as opposed as a lawyer -- that if you
have been married in Massachusetts, and you move someplace else, you`re
still married and that, under federal law, you should be able to obtain the
benefits of any lawfully married couple.


SMERCONISH: David, John Feehery mentions those three dozen or so states
where same-sex marriage is nevertheless banned, even in the aftermath of
what we went through yesterday.

So, active should the president become in championing a turnabout of the
law in those states?

AXELROD: Well, he`s certainly spoken out on it. He`s done it here in
Illinois, where the Illinois House has a bill pending that -- along with
the Senate that already passed it -- would bring same-sex marriage here to

But the one thing that struck about what John was saying is, he is right,
of course, that a Republican nominee for president in 2016 would have to be
more sensitive to these issues. The question is whether that kind of
candidate could actually get through the primaries, because the same forces
that you talked about, Michael, are the ones who are in control of the
nominating process for president.

So the paradox for the Republican Party is the kind of candidates who can
win nationally can`t get through their nominating process.

SMERCONISH: Well, David, to that point, last night, New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie, one of those candidates perhaps, was asked his response to
the Supreme Court decision.

And Christie, who has supported civil unions in the past, last year vetoed
a marriage equality bill in his state, and he had strong words for what the
Supreme Court did yesterday. Here they are.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t think the ruling was -- was

I think it was -- I think it was wrong. And I thought that Justice
Kennedy`s opinion in many respects was incredibly insulting to those
people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage
Act. And Bill Clinton -- he basically said the only reason to pass that
bill was to demean people.

That`s a heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican
Congress back in the `90s. And it`s just another example of judicial
supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people who we
actually vote for. So I thought it was a bad decision.


SMERCONISH: John Feehery, how do you interpret those words?

I interpret them as Chris Christie wanting to be one with the GOP base,
especially because I`m mindful of the fact that there was an opportunity
for him to align the special election that will feature Cory Booker with
his own general election and he opted not.

To me, it looks like a second sign that he`s really going in 2016.

FEEHERY: I don`t disagree with that, Michael.

I thought it was very clever of the governor to talk about it as judicial
activism, because I think he`s talking more on process grounds, and less on
the whole equality argument, which I think is a worse argument -- a bad
argument for Republicans.

I think that he is going to run. And I think he would be very competitive.
And to David`s point, I do think that if you look at Mitt Romney and John
McCain the last two nominating cycles, they were the most moderate
candidates of the bunch, other than Jon Huntsman. And I think that they
were the most electable. They just ran bad campaigns once they got the

So it`s not necessarily a problem of getting the most electable one through
the process. The problem is making sure that you run a decent campaign
once you get the nomination.

SMERCONISH: Thank you both.

AXELROD: Yes, but...


SMERCONISH: David, I wish we had more time.


SMERCONISH: But thank you, David Axelrod and John Feehery.

Up next, which Republican just won the Democrats` dubious distinction of
being the most clueless member of Congress? That`s next in the "Sideshow."

And a reminder. You can listen to my radio program weekday mornings 9:00
a.m. Eastern on SiriusXM`s POTUS channel, 124.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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

We were all on the edge of our seats waiting for the Supreme Court
decisions on the Voting Rights Act, DOMA, Prop 8 . The truth is the
decision gets from the Supreme Court building to your TV screen pretty
quickly. In part, that`s thanks to a few interns and hopefully a decent
pair of running shoes.

Here it goes. Take a look at the DOMA decision being hand-delivered to
NBC`s Pete Williams by an amazingly deft intern for SCOTUSblog named Dan


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him through. Let him through.


SMERCONISH: And there you have it. Doesn`t Pete seem totally at ease?

Dan, the intern, and Pete Williams were both on "The Today Show" to look


MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": First of all, it`s good open-field
running. There`s speed, lateral movement. You kept your head up. You
protected the document, which was very good. How are you feeling?




STEIN: I had to do a little bit of stretches this morning, try to loosen
up a little bit, a little sore. Obviously, these aren`t running shoes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not you`re running outfit.

to dodge people with signs and strollers, and everything else, but remember
these were the hottest days of the years down here. I was perspiring just
standing still. So, he must have lost 10 pounds in the last few days.


SMERCONISH: Next, there was no shortage of jubilation across the country
when DOMA was deemed unconstitutional, but for a message to opponents of
same-sex marriage, people that think it will cause a threat to marriage
between a man and a woman, we turn to Stephen Colbert.


is dead.


COLBERT: Traditional...


COLBERT: Yes. Like my audience, I clap when I`m afraid.


COLBERT: So, straight married people, listen up. If a gay charges your


COLBERT: ... you`re going to want to puff yourself up, make yourself seem
bigger. Try to frighten it off by talking in a firm, loud voice about
pleated denim or Jimmy Buffett.


COLBERT: It`s going to be OK. That will scare them off.

DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of liberty of persons that is
protected under the Fifth Amendment. Oh, please.


COLBERT: I find it hard to believe that there are amendments after the


COLBERT: It sounds made up.



SMERCONISH: Next; Members of the Democratic Congressional Committee
Campaign cast their ballots for which their Republican colleagues, which of
them, is, as they put it, the most clueless.

First, some highlights from their video mash-up of the contenders.


REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Pregnancy from rape that results in
abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: When you say it`s not a man and a woman
anymore, then why not have three men and one woman or four women and one
man and -- or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe he`s a Muslim?

REP. TIM WALBERG (R), MICHIGAN: You know, I don`t know. I really don`t
know. We don`t have enough information about this president.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Now, that doesn`t mean that there aren`t some
other explanations on how they might have announced that by telegram from


SMERCONISH: Now, according to Politico, members of the DCCC really did
cast their ballots at a private dinner this week. Who was voted the most
clueless Republican? That would be Iowa Congressman Steve King, noted in
the video for using language like illegal aliens and suggesting that
President Obama`s birth certificate may have been telegrammed from Kenya to
Hawaii when he was born.

So, good news for Steve King.

Up next, the Senate passes immigration reform, but how much pressure is now
on the House to do the same?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


"Market Wrap."

Stocks rally for a third day, the Dow jumping 114 points, the S&P 500
adding nine, the Nasdaq up 25 points.

Positive signs in the economic front. The number of Americans filing for
unemployment benefits for the first time dropped by 9,000 from a week ago.
Meantime, consumer spending increased in May, up 0.3 percent from April.

And pending home sales jumped 6.7 percent last month to hit a six-year

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

SMERCONISH: We`re back.

Late today, with Vice President Biden presiding, the Senate passed a
massive immigration overhaul bill, the vote, 68-32. About a dozen
Republicans crossed party lines and voted for the measure, no doubt thanks
to a recent amendment which adds 20,000 new agents along the border, in
addition to 700 miles of fencing.

Despite that, the bill failed to win any support among the Republican
leadership. Now the spotlight turns to the GOP-controlled House, where
reform faces a much greater challenge. In a statement praising the
Senate`s work, President Obama said: "Now is the time when opponents will
try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop
commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen."

Senator Robert Menendez is a Democrat from New Jersey. He`s member of the
Senate`s gang of eight, which crafted the legislation.

Senator, I made reference to the fact that there will be 20,000 new border
agents. Someone has noted that that`s one every 1,000 or so feet. What
else is left to offer to accommodate those in the GOP-controlled House? I
thought security was their beef.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, it certainly was one of the
critical elements that got us to 14 Republican votes in the Senate. It`s
the most significant border efforts.

We`re willing to listen to the House`s views. We would love to see them
take our bill. It was created through bipartisan compromise. It had
bipartisan votes. Over two-thirds of the Senate voted for this
legislation, so we look forward to the House meeting the same challenge
that we met in the Senate and responding to the American people`s desire to
see immigration reform.

SMERCONISH: House Speaker John Boehner isn`t impressed by the Senate vote.
This is Speaker Boehner earlier today.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The House is not going to
take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We`re going to do our own
bill through regular order.

And it will be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the
will of the American people.


SMERCONISH: And "The Washington Post" reports -- quote -- "House
Republican Deputy Whip Peter Roskam said Thursday morning the Senate
immigration bill likely won`t come to a vote in the House, labeling it a
pipe dream. `The House has no capacity to move that bill in its entirety,`
he said."

Are there areas of reconciliation, areas of agreement between that which
they envision and what you have already passed, or are you just not sure
what they have on their mind?

MENENDEZ: Well, look, I`m not sure what they have on their mind.

And, look, the House can have its own process. We will get to -- I would
like them to take up our Senate bill. As I said, it`s bipartisan, strong
vote. The speaker may not be impressed, but we rarely get 60 votes in the
United States Senate these days for any momentous piece of legislation and
anything that might be considered controversial.

We got 68. That`s more than you need to ratify a treaty for the United
States. So it`s an incredible vote. We respect the House`s process. The
question is, does the House leadership want to get to yes? Does the House
leadership agree that, as one of the core elements of immigration reform,
in addition to security, there must be a pathway to citizenship?

And if the answer to those are yes, then we can ultimately get to a
bipartisan bill that we can pass in both houses and send finally to the
president. I hope that the leadership in the House, particularly on the
Republican side that controls the majority, will allow the House to truly
work its will, because if you insist on a majority of the majority, as
Speaker Boehner has said, that is a minority of the House of

And a minority should not take to dictate the future of millions of lives
of people in this country, the security of the nation and the prosperity of

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Senator Robert Menendez.


SMERCONISH: We turn now to MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, who`s
editorial director for The Huffington Post Media Group.

Howard, I love the politics of this.


SMERCONISH: By way of example, within the Senate, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz
being on opposite sides of this issue.

What`s your analysis?

FINEMAN: My analysis is that the House leadership -- the House Republican
leadership I think in theory, somewhere in their political brains, would
like to pass a bill. But they`ve got the tea party to deal with in the
House, and if they come up with any kind of bill at all, it`s going to be
hugely different, obviously, from the Senate bill. Exactly how, I don`t

I think the Republican bill will have such a complex and difficult pathway
to citizenship that it will barely be that at all. That seems to me the
only kind of thing that the House could pass.

But I think -- I get the sense from talking to some people in and around
the House leadership, that at least in theory, they do want a bill, because
they`re not stupid politically, Michael. If they read Karl Rove in The
Wall Street Journal today, Karl Rove said, looking at the numbers,
Republicans need Hispanics.

Now not all immigrants are Hispanics, but this a huge issue. The
Republicans have to get it off the table somehow. They know that. All but
the heart of the tea party know that.

SMERCONISH: But they`ll win the battle and lose the war, as you make
reference to the numbers, the demographic shift in this country. We`re
going to do a segment in just a couple minutes about the purple nature of
the state of Texas.

And that momentum, Howard, is never going back.

FINEMAN: Well, and of course it`s no accident that Karl Rove, who is sort
of one of the titular leaders of the Republican establishment, you know,
made his bones in Texas. He came up in Texas. He managed George W. Bush,
who got over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote when he ran for reelection for
governor, got over 40 percent when ran for reelection as president.

Karl Rove and the people around him were trying to build a Republican Party
through the Bush family and others that would reach out to Hispanics, but
that`s utterly different from what most of the tea party people a doing.

Now the tea party is not only -- or necessarily an anti-immigration party,
but it has kind of taken on that tenor in the House. And it`s a looming
disaster for the Republicans. And anybody with any sense, and I actually
put John Boehner in that category, know that.

SMERCONISH: Howard Fineman, thank you, as always.

FINEMAN: Sure, Michael, take care.

SMERCONISH: Up next, that dramatic filibuster in Texas, will abortion
rights advocates across the country use the same playbook that we saw
Tuesday night? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


SMERCONISH: How low can you go? Tuesday`s special Senate election in
Massachusetts won by Ed Markey hit a new low for voter turnout. We
expected it to be low, but not this low. The secretary of state predicted
a turnout of 1.6 million, only about 1.2 million voters showed up, and
that`s the fewest people ever to vote in a Senate race in the Bay State.
We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lieutenant governor has agreed that SB5 is dead.


SMERCONISH: And welcome back to HARDBALL. That was the dramatic scene at
3:00 a.m. on Tuesday night at the Texas State Capitol when the word came
down that a Republican-led anti-abortion bill had been defeated. If
passed, it would have banned abortion after 20 weeks while shutting down
almost every clinic in the state.

It was killed thanks in large part to this woman, Wendy Davis. Davis, a
single mother from Fort Worth, has gone from local hero to national icon
overnight, all thanks to a grueling 10-hour-plus filibuster that delayed a
final vote on the bill just long enough that the lieutenant governor
couldn`t sign it before a critical midnight deadline.

And make no mistake, this was no ordinary filibuster, procedural rules
dictated that she couldn`t eat, couldn`t use the bathroom, or even lean on
her desk for those 10 hours. At one point a colleague helped her put on a
back brace, which Republicans quickly denounced as a violation of the

But while Davis and her throngs of supporters, which overwhelmed capitol
police that night, succeeded on Tuesday, the victory has been short-lived.
Governor Rick Perry has ordered a special session in the Texas legislature
for Monday. The message is clear, no amount of procedural heroics or
passion-filled mobs will kill this bill a second time.

So what does it all mean for the future of women`s rights, for women in
politics, for the political fate of Texas, and even the nation? Cecile
Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood; Nia-Malika Henderson is a
reporter with The Washington Post.

Cecile, we should make clear because 20 weeks gets the headlines, but a
real significant factor of what is at stake here is the shutting down of
virtually every abortion clinic in the state. CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT,
PLANNED PARENTHOOD: That`s exactly right. That`s what you`re seeing, is
an outpouring of outrage about this bill, which has nothing to do with
women`s health. It has to do with shutting down women`s health centers.

And, of course, this comes on the heels of Governor Perry and the
legislature ending services through the women`s health program, cutting off
women from breast cancer screening through Planned Parenthood, vetoing the
Equal Pay Act. This is just sort of the final nail. And I think that`s
what you saw this week, is that folks simply have had enough.

SMERCONISH: If the bill passes, Texas will become the 13th state to impose
a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. And a new poll from The National Journal
shows that more people across the nation favor that kind of law than oppose

In an interview on "CBS This Morning," Wendy Davis addressed the reality
that this bill will likely pass.


WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: There was an incredible focus put on
what`s happening here in Texas. Women and men across Texas are in an
uproar about it. And I don`t expect that their concerns on this issue are
going to go away with the passage of the law. And I think that there will
be political consequences in the future, as people exercise their opinion
about this issue at the ballot box.


SMERCONISH: Nia-Malika, are you surprised by the polling data that we just
shared where a majority of Americans say that 20 weeks seems like the right

fairly close to what Roe v. Wade sets at as well, 22, 24 weeks. And in
fact, not many abortions happen after 20 weeks. And when they do, it`s
usually because the mother is in deep distress. And it`s a very painful
decision mothers have to make to get abortions. I think it`s something
like 2 percent of abortions happen after 20 weeks.

But I do think what we will see from this is a real galvanizing effort.
Already OFA has been sending out messages to their supporters saying that
they want to fight these measures in these different states.

And you have seen courts also move to block these measures, to put tighter
restrictions on abortions in North Dakota, I think. There was a measure
passed that put it at six weeks. In Arkansas it was 12 weeks. In Arizona,
another law passed that was at 20 weeks. And courts have very much stepped

But you have seen this wholesale shift in the anti-abortion movement going
from essentially waiting for a Roe v. Wade to be overturned by the Supreme
Court to really chipping away at this time frame at these different state
legislatures. And it has been a real battle, I think, that they have
successfully waged in many ways.

And now you see I think some backlash and a real galvanizing movement now
with these women`s groups.

SMERCONISH: Cecile, Governor Perry took a shot -- a direct shot at Senator
Davis today. Watch this.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: She was teenage mother herself. She managed
to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas
Senate. It`s just unfortunate that she hasn`t learned from her own
example, that every life must be given a chance to realize its full
potential, and that every life matters.


SMERCONISH: And then Davis responded in a statement saying: "Rick Perry`s
statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They
are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our
governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Governor Perry fails that

Talk about that exchange.

RICHARDS: Well, look, I think that that kind of patronizing attitude you
just saw about Senator Wendy Davis who, of course, is wildly respected
across the aisle, it`s that kind of attitude that Rick Perry has had
towards women and that this legislature has had toward women which I think
has led to the kind of mobilization you`re seeing in Texas.

Women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions, and particularly
about child-bearing, they and their doctors and their families. And what
you`re seeing from Rick Perry, and is the same attitude he has had all
along, which is that somehow he knows what is best for women.

SMERCONISH: And Nia-Malika, you know, Texas, you need Hispanics and you
need women. I think one of the reasons that that state is on the verge of
going purple is because of the factors we`re discussion right now.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And some of the architects of Obama`s win went
straight to Texas, essentially after his victory and started Battleground
Texas. The problem there is that Latinos, while they are a growing
population there, 30 percent of them can`t vote because of their
immigration status. And even the ones who are registered to vote don`t
show up at the polls. It`s something like 40 percent.

So that`s a real challenge. But I do think we are going to see in the
South more generally a real effort for Democrats to really capitalize on
the demographic changes that are happening.

SMERCONISH: Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you for your time. Cecile
Richards, nice to be with you as well.

RICHARDS: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: We`ll be back to HARDBALL after this. I`ll have a final word
to offer about race relations.


SMERCONISH: Let me finish tonight with this. When it comes to race
relations, this past week was one that suggested things aren`t getting any
better. First, there was celebrity chef Paula Deen in a professional
tailspin after acknowledging in a sworn deposition that she had used the N-

And then came the start of the George Zimmerman trial in which the town
watchman, facing second-degree murder charges for having shot Trayvon
Martin, the words "f-ing punks, these A-Hs always get away," the very first
words uttered by prosecutor John Guy, who was quoting Zimmerman as he
tailed Martin.

And then next came a pair of Supreme Court rulings, each decided by a five
to four margin, one gutting that part of the Voting Rights Act which
requires nine states, mostly in the South, to obtain federal clearance
before tinkering with voting procedures; and another which upheld
Affirmative Action only in narrow circumstances, and only after imposing
strict scrutiny.

When I opined on the radio that the collection of these headlines made me
realize that race relations don`t seem to be improving any time soon, and
might be hampered by the changing demographics of the nation, my comment
prompted a noteworthy response.

Melissa from Dallas was listening as she dropped off her son at pre-K last
Tuesday. I was focused on the affirmative action case, Fisher versus the
University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Fisher, a white woman, sued after
being denied admission at UT, claiming that minorities with inferior
qualifications were admitted in her stead.

I made what I thought was a practical political observation, namely, that
if Affirmative Action is running out of support in 2013, imagine how hard
it will be to defend the necessity come 2050 when whites will collectively
be a minority in comparison to people of color?

Melissa responded that there were more important considerations than the
raw numbers and demographics. She said, quote: "The reason Affirmative
Action exists is because for 300 years we had legalized slavery and then we
had another 100 years of segregation based on Jim Crow."

She thought it would be grossly premature to say that after many years of
legalized discrimination based on one factor, race, it`s now time to get
rid of Affirmative Action. She told me she was only one of 20 or so blacks
in law school at UT and said that there were only seven black men in the
entire class that followed her in law school, the class of 2000.

More important than just population data, she said, will be questions of
who is running the institutions, and thereby, who is running the country.

Wherever we are in race relations, this week has proved that the Supreme
Court is wrong. In the opinion released on Monday, neutering the Voting
Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that congress, quote, "reenacted a
formula based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relation to the
present day."

If only things had changed that much, 40 years later, we are not as far
along as the Supreme Court thinks.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us. "POLITICSNATION WITH
AL SHARPTON" starts right now.


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