August 7, 2013
Guests: Steve McMahon, John Brabender, Cynthia Tucker, Dan Balz
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Shutdown warning.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The wild right is readying its attack.
The Ted Cruz wing is about to make its run for an historic takeover of the
party in which it has made its home. Each day, the far right is building
its strength to bring the U.S. government to a halt and confront Republican
leaders in Washington with its ultimatum. Either those worried (ph)
leaders do as they`re told and move to kill Obamacare, even if that means
shutting down the federal government indefinitely, or lease.
Well, the force fueling the angry right is the right-wing base in this
country that dominates these August town hall meetings and now commands the
fears of GOP congressmen far more than anything the weak John Boehner can
say or do or pretend to do or hope to do.
Here`s a town hall meeting held this week by North Carolina congressman
Robert Pittenger. Pay close attention to who`s calling the shots. Does
this guy look anything like John Boehner, even a little?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real quick, easy question. This is what the Tea Party
wants to know. Will you vote with Mike Lee to -- and Meadows here -- to
defund Obamacare? Yes or no.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: (INAUDIBLE) a thoughtful
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want yes or no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If every Republican votes against it, it does not get
funded. That`s a fact!
PITTENGER: No, sir. It has to pass the Senate and be signed by the
president of United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you make a stand against --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- shut down the government.
PITTENGER: Do you think Harry Reid is going to pass that in the Senate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn`t matter what Harry Reid does. We need to
show the American people we stand for conservative ideas (ph)!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Democratic strategist Steve
McMahon and Republican strategist John Brabender. John, it`s your party.
Looks like the person in charge there is the loudest voice at the next Tea
Party meeting, not John Boehner. And that`s the direction of your party, I
think. Am I right?
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you are right because the
Republican Party is a conservative party. It`s why generally conservative
candidates win Republican primaries. It`s the people who have the core
convictions that are at the loudest and show up for things like town hall
meetings. So you`re absolutely right, the passion within the Republican
Party is among the conservatives.
MATTHEWS: So when that congressman out there tried to explain to that
constituent that even though we vote to defund it, it`ll never get repealed
because you`d have to get it repealed through the U.S. Senate, which is
controlled by Democrats, and signed by the president -- making that
rational argument didn`t seem to make much news to that guy who was
challenging him, did it.
BRABENDER: Well, and that does happen. But I will tell you, defunding it,
even if it doesn`t get through the Senate, will actually be good for
Republicans. It`ll probably help them pick up a majority in the Senate
MATTHEWS: How so?
BRABENDER: But if these --
MATTHEWS: How does it change reality?
BRABENDER: Well, it will change reality because it might change the
numbers in the United States Senate. You change the numbers in the United
States Senate and you can change health care forever in this country,
particularly kill a bill that Republicans feel is going to kill jobs --
MATTHEWS: It`s a law. It`s not a bill, it`s a law.
BRABENDER: -- and (INAUDIBLE) freedoms.
MATTHEWS: John, it`s a law. It`s the law of the land.
BRABENDER: But you can change it --
MATTHEWS: You guys keep calling it a bill as if it wasn`t enacted by the
Congress and signed by the president. It was. Why do you keep calling it
a bill, John?
BRABENDER: But you can change bills. You can change laws. I mean, that`s
MATTHEWS: Of course, you can! It takes two congress --
MATTHEWS: It takes two houses of Congress and the president. Is that what
they`re talking about doing here, or is it some sort of PR move to appeal
to the hard right?
BRABENDER: I don`t really -- I believe this is their beliefs.
MATTHEWS: OK, fine. Let me go to -- let me go to Steve on this. It seems
to me what we see is a takeover bid by the hard right of the Republican
Party. If you don`t play their game and stop government and defund
Obamacare -- if you don`t do that, it seems to me you`re in big trouble.
And I agree with John. This is an ultimatum. It`s a takeover bid. If
you`re not with the hard right, you`re not with the right.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. And you know, they`ve voted
40 times now to repeal Obamacare. So everybody in Congress has already
done what the hard right wants. And do you know what it`s gotten them?
It`s gotten them a 7 percent approval rating.
MATTHEWS: Follow John`s point, Steve. You`re a Democrat, but follow his
point. What is the hard right up to? It seems to me they are into a
takeover bid. They`re saying no more RINOs, no more moderates, no more
liberal Republicans. We are taking over the party.
MATTHEWS: If you`re not willing to fight to the last vote, if you`re not
willing to play all the PR games and the symbolic votes and attacking
Obamacare -- if you don`t play that game, you`re out of here. That seems
to be the message.
MCMAHON: That`s not just the message, that`s what -- that the message
they`re sending and that`s the message that`s being received. If you look
at the number of incumbent Republicans who don`t have any vulnerability
from a Democrat, their only vulnerability is on the right, they`re
petrified of these people. And then you look at people like Mitch
McConnell, who actually is vulnerable on both the right and left.
MATTHEWS: I think he might lose the primary. Let`s --
MCMAHON: I think he could lose the primary if he doesn`t vote to shut down
MATTHEWS: I want you to jump on this guy -- Brender -- Brabender -- I
think you got a good case here. Here`s Mitt Romney --
BRABENDER: Get it right, will you, there?
MATTHEWS: I work at this -- Brabender, OK? Brabender.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look -- yesterday, at a rare public display, the
former presidential nominee jumped back into the spotlight, urging his
Republican Party to fight back against Ted Cruz and the Tea Party allies.
Speaking at a fund-raiser in New Hampshire at Lake Winnipesaukee up there,
he said, "Emotion is understandable, understandably at play in Washington
among some of our fellow Republicans that badly want Obamacare to go away,
and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care
about any talk of shutting down government."
"What would come next when soldiers aren`t paid, when seniors fear their
Medicare and Social Security aren`t coming and when the FBI is off-duty?
I`m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our
party would suffer in the next elections, and the people in the nation
would not be happy."
Well, Romney`s criticism of Cruz didn`t stop there. He went on to warn
Republicans that extremists in the Republican Party need to be recognized
for what they are, unelectable. Quote -- this is Romney -- "We have got to
stay smart, very smart. Staying smart means backing candidates that can
win, but there will only be one or two perhaps who actually would win or
could win the election in November. Think it through. Stay smart."
What`s he talking about, John?
BRABENDER: Well, I think you got to be careful. First of all, on
Obamacare, taking advice from Romney is like taking advice from the captain
of the Titanic, nautical advice from that captain, because "Romney care"
was the precursor to Obamacare.
The second thing where Romney is actually wrong, what the Republicans are
talking about is not shutting down the government. What they`re talking
about is defunding Obamacare while still having the funding for everything
else in place. We can argue whether that`s a good idea or not, but what
Romney is throwing out there I think is wrong. But I will say --
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let`s get the (INAUDIBLE) let`s
get the truth out. They`re saying if any continuing resolution to keep the
government open includes any money for Obamacare -- to implement a law --
they will shut down the government. They will vote not to continue the
MCMAHON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: That`s what they`re saying.
BRABENDER: What -- that`s not what Cruz`s office said today. What they
put out is that they believe that there should be funding in place for all
the important things --
MATTHEWS: That`s the same thing I just said!
BRABENDER: -- but this is a defunding of Obamacare.
MATTHEWS: But that`s the law of the land. How do you -- how do you -- how
do you pass a continuing resolution that doesn`t fund lawfully created
MCMAHON: You don`t. You don`t. And --
BRABENDER: I think they want to do that.
MCMAHON: For a guy who`s as smart as Ted -- go ahead. Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, John. Make your point. I mean, I don`t -- I think
you`re making the same point I`m making.
BRABENDER: No, no. I --
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it true --
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Isn`t it true that Ted Cruz says, If you
put a nickel in there for Obamacare, I`m not voting for it?
BRABENDER: I think he`s standing his ground and saying that we have to
kill Obamacare once and for all. Look, even the Democrats are trying to
MCMAHON: No, they`re not.
BRABENDER: They just delayed it by a year because they`re worried about
MATTHEWS: They`re not trying to kill it.
BRABENDER: -- it`ll do for the 2014 elections!
MATTHEWS: If you have a vote on the House floor tomorrow. There`ll be
maybe four Democrats voting against it, the same ones who voted against it
when it first came up. Back to you, Steve.
MCMAHON: Mitt Romney may be the pink flamingo standing out in the
Republican yard that embarrasses a lot folks in the Republican Party, but
he`s speaking a fundamental truth. If you look at the track record of the
Tea Party people who have run for Congress, only one in three has been
successful. And if you look at seven of the nominees that the Republicans
put up in U.S. Senate races that lost races they probably should have won
if they`d had a candidate who was more in the mainstream.
Mitt Romney`s absolutely right. The Republicans would control the Senate
today if the Tea Party wasn`t wreaking havoc with it. And I predict if
they get Mitch McConnell to shut down the government to protect his right
flank so he`s not vulnerable in a primary, he`ll lose the general election
because centrist voters who decide elections in most states are going to
vote against him. They don`t reward people like that because that`s not
MATTHEWS: Well, meanwhile --
BRABENDER: But Mitt Romney --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
BRABENDER: Mitt Romney was our nominee! Mitt Romney was our nominee, and
look what the results were there!
MCMAHON: And he was pulled so far to the right by Rick Santorum that he
couldn`t win the general election so far to the right on immigration and
all the policies that, frankly, the American people have rejected time and
again, that he couldn`t win the general election. If Mitt Romney, the
Republican governor of Massachusetts, had been the nominee -- he was
terrifying Democrats, but that`s not the guy that showed up. It was a
caricature of Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: OK. (INAUDIBLE) John, I want to pronounce your name correctly,
John Brabender, by the way, John. It`s nice to have you on the show.
You`re a good guy.
And here`s the question. Prediction. You`re the expert on your side.
What`s more likely, the Republican nominee of 2016 to be somebody a lot
like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, one of them perhaps, or someone like them, or
someone like Mitt Romney? Who`s more likely to be the nominee?
BRABENDER: Well, just for the sake of winning the elections, I certainly
hope it`s not somebody just like Mitt Romney. I think it will be somebody
coming from the more conservative wing of the party. It`ll be somebody who
does play well to social conservatives, but also somebody who can talk to
blue-collar and hard-working families, which the Republican Party has not
done a very good job doing and Mitt Romney did not do a very good job
MATTHEWS: Could be Santorum.
BRABENDER: I`m happy to go with that, too.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s what you`re thinking. Anyway, I -- what do you
think, Mr. Steve McMahon, Democrat? Do you think the Republicans might --
this might -- I`m going to predict at the end of the year -- I think it`s
one of those times like 1964, like 1980 --
MCMAHON: Could be.
MATTHEWS: -- like 1972 on the Democrat side or 2008 on the Democrat
side. After years of being practical and manipulative, parties actually
show their souls and say, This is what we believe.
I think the next time that we have a presidential election, which is 2016,
the Republican Party will be the conservative party, I think very
conservative party. I think they`re going to stop playing games. They`ve
been trying all these years to run Bob Dole and W. when he went and spent
all that money in the government, and then, of course, they had a guy like
McCain they didn`t believe in. They didn`t believe in these guys. I think
they`re going to run -- they certainly didn`t believe in Mitt Romney.
I think they`re going to run a true believer next time. What do you think,
looking across the aisle?
MCMAHON: Listen, I think -- first of all, I hope they run a true believer.
I hope Ted Cruz is nominated because 330 electoral votes that Obama got
last time will be the starting point, if Ted Cruz is the nominee.
MATTHEWS: -- Rand Paul.
MCMAHON: -- any of these guys.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you why it won`t be Ted Cruz, because occasionally -
- look at him here -- you have to smile once in a while -- not all the
time. You have to occasionally crack a smile. He doesn`t do that.
Anyway, John Brabender, it`s great to have you on, and Steve McMahon, thank
BRABENDER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think we`re getting to the point we all agree.
Coming up: What patriots these Republicans are! They`re grateful that
President Obama canceled his summit with Vladimir Putin -- he did it today
-- not because they think it`s good for the country that he did it, but
because they get to call it a foreign policy failure, just like they called
getting along with Putin timid. This president can`t win on that side.
Also, President Obama goes on Leno last night, and who comes up? Hillary.
Reince Priebus wants to take on CNN and NBC. The right wing`s randy to
take on someone. It`s always Hillary. All roads lead to Hillary.
Republicans seem to be terrified of her. They keep going after her.
And looking for a leafy 16-room mansion in downtown Washington, D.C., with
lots of green and easy access to the subway? We now know how much the
White House might go for if it was up for sale, if it was on the block.
Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with my personal prediction on whom the
Republicans will run for president in 2016. I just told you. I`m going to
tell you more.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Take a look at this. That`s the wrecking crew demolishing the
house of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro. By the way, he`s a murderer,
too. Castro pled guilty last week for holding those three women for three
years in his house -- actually, eight years -- keeping them in chains and
sexually abusing them. Well, this morning, that house of horrors was
knocked down in less than 90 minutes. There it is. The plot of land could
be developed, we don`t know, perhaps as a community park or garden.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been times where
they slipped back into cold war thinking and a cold war mentality. And
what I consistently say to them and what I say to President Putin is that`s
the past, and you know, we`ve got to think about the future, and there`s no
reason why we shouldn`t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, President Obama
last night on Leno.
Well, today the White House announced it was canceling a planned one-on-one
meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It was going to be next month
on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting over there. Well, the White House
cited lack of progress between the two countries, the U.S. and the former
Soviet Union, on issues ranging from missile defense to global security.
But hanging over everything, we all know, is the case of NSA leaker --
there he is -- Edward Snowden, who`s in Russia right now on a visa, which
White House press secretary Jay Carney said is also a factor in this
Republican leaders wasted little time sounding almost gleeful about this.
According to a spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner, quote, "The
president`s signature foreign policy accomplishment from the first term, a
reset with Russia, has just collapsed."
Well, of course, for Boehner, this is just another opportunity to attack
the president, which is a job requirement of a Republican speaker.
Other Republicans like John McCain, who know what they`re talking about,
said they agreed with the president`s decision but suggested going even
further in cooling our relationship with Moscow.
Steve Kornacki is the host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI."
(INAUDIBLE) up! Generally, or up with you? Anyway, it`s on weekend
mornings and it`s doing great. And Jon Alter is a great historian, also an
MSNBC analyst and an author of the great book, "The Center Holds," about
the 2012 election.
Gentlemen, let`s just try this thing, Steve and then Jon. Think
(INAUDIBLE) it just seems to me you whack him if he goes right, whack him
if he goes left if you`re a Republican. Boehner says, "We failed to make
friends with Vladimir Putin." Take a look at Vladimir Putin!
MATTHEWS: You can`t make friends with that guy! He wants to be Daniel
Craig, you know, in the action movies. But he`s really a ferocious guy
that probably is a KGB guy to his soul!
STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, MSNBC "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Yes, I think you
could look at the reactions from the right, what we`ve gotten in at least
so far now, from -- you put them in two categories, basically. And Boehner
I think definitely falls into the category of, this is just an extension of
what the Republican playbook on domestic politics has been --
MATTHEWS: By the way, where`s he golfing while his --
MATTHEWS: His golfing -- his spokesman trashes the president of the United
States on a global issue. Where`s Boehner?
KORNACKI: Right. Well, also, maybe he wants to keep a little distance
KORNACKI: -- something like this, too, where this is a little bit of red
MATTHEWS: I got you.
KORNACKI: -- he`s (INAUDIBLE) for the base, but he`s not officially
saying it himself. But at the same time, this is sort of, like -- we`ve
see this story on the domestic front a lot, where it`s sort of, like, if
Obama`s for it, we`re against it. And now we`re going to work backwards
and find out why -- what conservative principle justifies our opposition to
this, sort of invent --
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go back --
MATTHEWS: -- and the world of common sense. Americans are incredibly
rational, except maybe some Tea Party people and some people on the hard
left. Most people are rational. They see Putin, they look him in the
face, and, This guy`s not a good guy. This guy -- he`s got thumbscrews in
the basement somewhere. You don`t know what he`s doing with the KGB,
what`s left of it.
Of course we`re having a problem with him! He`s for Syria, we`re not. He
doesn`t want to help us with Iran. We`re trying to avoid a war with Iran.
Name the issue. It`s Snowden -- of course, it`s an opportunism thing, but
he`s got Snowden with a visa now.
Of course we`re a little ticked at him. What`s new?
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, and of course --
MATTHEWS: We should be ticked with him.
ALTER: -- and we -- to go ahead with this summit after the Snowden
episode, they just would have bickered with each other and nothing would
have been accomplished. And the United States had to indicate to him that
we`re mad at him.
MATTHEWS: Time out! Time out!
ALTER: We`re mad at him not just because he rides around without his shirt
on on a horse. We`re mad at him because --
MATTHEWS: Jon, you`re being kind! Remember the last time they met? The
president tried to do some ice breaking (INAUDIBLE) and the president`s
just trying to loosen him up a little. He made fun of the president for
trying to get along with him!
ALTER: Yes, and you know, he`s a bad guy in a lot of ways. That doesn`t
mean we don`t want to have relations with him.
I mean, what bothers me about the Republicans, you know, piling on Obama on
this issue is they`re suggesting that the last five years of U.S.-Russian
relations have been a failure, when the only reason that the sanctions
against Iran are in place in the first place is because of this reset
policy that Boehner is now saying is a failure.
It wasn`t a failure. It gave us those sanctions. And those sanctions have
now helped lead to a more moderate regime in Iran.
MATTHEWS: This is strong territory for me, my battle that never ends with
the neocons. Here`s an interview with my old pal, neoconservative writer
Bill Kristol, who only seems to emerge volcanically occasionally, like now
when we`ve sort of forgotten the Iraq war for a while.
Here`s what he told -- said the president being stubborn in pursuing
diplomacy with Russia. Here`s Bill with his hard, East-West edge again.
This is like Jeane Kirkpatrick. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, that was the case
study of the reset, and they have just doubled down on it so many times.
They never wanted to admit that it was wrong. There was a moment two years
ago, incidentally, where even I would have said, Look, I never liked the
reset with Russia. It was too trustworthy (ph) of Putin.
But I can see, if you`re a new administration, you would try it. We didn`t
pay that much of a price for -- probably in the first of years. But now --
you know, now reality has hit. Could we please adjust to reality? But
they`re so obstinate on that, have been so obstinate on that, that they
have made it worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. I said it. Ted Cruz never smiles. He smiles when he`s
talking about war.
MATTHEWS: What is it about Kristol? I mean, he`s just -- he`s such a
neocon all the way. He loves this stuff.
KORNACKI: This is the second category I think of conservative response.
You have the cheap political point-scoring that I think you could look at
bone Boehner and say, but there`s a broader movement within the Republican
Party. Think back a decade.
MATTHEWS: What do they want, the Cold War back?
KORNACKI: Basically. This is a very hawkish wing that when George W. Bush
a decade ago said he looked into Putin`s eye, looked into his soul, and saw
a good man, they didn`t believe it back then.
MATTHEWS: Right. Mr. Teddy Bear? Do they miss their teddy bear?
KORNACKI: This is an opportunity for them I think to take this a lot
MATTHEWS: Here`s some more guys. You jump in here , Jon.
Here`s the familiar suspects. here`s Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, my God,
Jim DeMint, and John Bolton, who can`t wait to get back in power, talking
about the global terrorist alert as an excuse to hit the president. That`s
what he`s just put us on and they say he`s being weak because he put us on
watch. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think it`s really a consequence
of the policies of this administration.
I mean, if you look at Benghazi and what happened, we haven`t seen anything
from this administration really go after the people who were responsible or
the network behind it.
And there -- I`m sure if you`re looking at it from a terrorist perspective,
you say, well, here`s an administration that`s pulling back, that`s timid.
JIM DEMINT (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Our attempt to placate parts of the
world, reset, whether it`s Russia or somewhere else, are clearly not
working, and the perception of weakness in this administration is
encouraging this kind of behavior.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The
weakness that we have displayed around the world, particularly after the
September 11, 2012, killing of our ambassador in Benghazi, without any
retaliation nearly 11 months later, so the administration`s world view has
been in effect completely rejected.
And we`re seeing now the consequences of operating under the illusions that
he has operated under.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALTER: I love how they say that weakness. And, you know, they have got
their talking points.
ALTER: Timidity, Benghazi, they all use the same words. Who`s writing
those talking points that they all use?
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, Marty Peretz, the king of the neocons, always said
we need a muscular foreign policy.
ALTER: I`m hoping that Obama -- the last time they did this, when Romney
called him an appeaser, Obama came out in a press briefing and said tell
that to Osama bin Laden and the 15 leaders of al Qaeda I have taken off the
The notion that this guy is somehow appeasing our enemies is so
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk politics for a minute. Do you think they have polled
on this, the neocons, and they figured after the embarrassment of Iraq, a
war that they wanted to fight regardless of WMD -- they wanted to fight the
war. George W. wanted to fight it, and the vice president wanted to fight
it. They all wanted to fight it. OK.
They have decided that we have sort of forgotten that, and now they`re
coming back? Bolton is back. Kristol is back. Do they think it`s time
for more rousing, let`s go to war again? Because when they say
retaliation, their idea of retaliation after 9/11, Steve, was going into
Iraq. Retaliation, what does that mean?
KORNACKI: I don`t think -- I have never gotten the impression that their
world views were radically altered by what happened in the last decade,
what happened after the invasion of Iraq, what happened in Afghanistan. I
don`t think their world views were ever changed by that.
I think that they sense an opportunity though within the Republican Party,
the argument taking place within the Republican Party over foreign policy.
Whenever they see an opportunity to connect their agenda to opposition to
Obama, that gives them an opportunity to clear out space.
MATTHEWS: To clear out Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
So, that`s the real fight.
ALTER: That`s who they have the problem with. Rand Paul said that Snowden
was a hero. So, instead of attacking Obama, they should be going after
MATTHEWS: Well, John Bolton is never going to be secretary of state under
MATTHEWS: He`s not asking --
ALTER: Well, they`re never going to nominate Rand Paul. This part of the
party won`t accept him.
MATTHEWS: You`re too rational.
ALTER: They will walk out of the convention before they nominate Rand
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Watch the end of the show.
ALTER: I will.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Steve Kornacki and Jonathan Alter.
We`re about to have a fight here on this issue. He may be right. I don`t
Up next, just when you think it couldn`t happen, Anthony Weiner hits
another new low.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now for the "Sideshow."
Anthony Weiner was at a mayoral forum last night hosted by the AARP and
used some choice words. The event was a chance for candidates obviously to
court New York`s senior citizen community. That didn`t stop Weiner from
calling one Republican rival grandpa. Well, he cast his insult before the
debate during a heated exchange with 69-year-old George McDonald.
New York One caught it all on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I heard what you said.
GEORGE MCDONALD (R), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Don`t put your hands on
me ever again.
WEINER: Really? What`s going to happen if I do? Are you a tough guy now?
MCDONALD: Yes, yes, I am.
WEINER: But your anger issues.
MCDONALD: I don`t have any anger issues.
WEINER: Yes, you do, Grandpa.
MCDONALD: Oh, OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Grandpa. Smart move there. The AARP called Weiner`s remark
Well, next, President Obama answered questions about his U.S. housing
market today in a live streaming Q&A hosted by real estate Zillow,
Zillow.com. And while he was answering questions from homebuyers, the
event brought attention to one listing in particular, the president`s own.
Yes, Zillow has a page for the White House. The real estate listing, 16-
bedroom mansion in a leafy area, brags over actually 15,000 square feet on
18 acres in a great Washington neighborhood. Amenities include a doorman,
elevators, a pool, and a basketball court.
The price? Well, Zillow crunched the numbers and estimated that if the
White House were on the market, it would be worth $319 million. I think
that`s a steal.
Next up, Jay Leno pressed President Obama about his on-again/off-again
relationship with former presidential opponent Senator John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Let me ask you about
something I`m seeing.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LENO: Is it me or do I see kind of a bromance with you and John McCain?
LENO: I remember you had that lover`s quarrel for a while, and, oh, now
you`re -- oh, well, you`re best friends.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that`s how --
LENO: What happened?
OBAMA: That`s how a classic romantic comedy goes, right?
LENO: You know, initially, you`re not getting along, and then you keep on
bumping into each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A student of the movies there. Anyway, romantic comedy, imagine
that movie poster. Barack Obama and John McCain, there it is, starring in
a bromantic comedy about two Washington insiders who just can`t get enough
of each other.
Finally, last night, Steve Colbert performed this summer`s hit song "Get
Lucky" and guess who made a cameo? Henry Kissinger. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Security.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Anyway, up next, Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. President Obama`s praising
her, and the Republicans are terrified of her. They certainly should be.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC
The Dow falling 48 points, the S&P 500 down six, the Nasdaq losing 11
points. Freddie Mac reporting a $5 billion profit in the second quarter.
That`s the second largest profit in the company`s history. Walt Disney
shares are down, even as it topped earnings expectations. The company
expects as much as a $190 million loss on the summer movie "The Lone
Netflix, meanwhile, allowing users to fine-tune their movie choices by
offering five different profiles on one account at no extra charge.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
OBAMA: We had a great time. She had that post-administration glow.
OBAMA: When folks leave the White House, two weeks later, they look great.
But it was a wonderful conversation. By the end of my first term, you
know, we had become genuinely close. And I could not have more respect for
her. She was a great secretary of state.
LENO: Did you notice her measuring the drapes or anything like that?
OBAMA: Keep in mind, she`s been there before.
LENO: Right. That`s true. That`s true.
OBAMA: She doesn`t have to measure them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Even Jay Leno asked the president now about Hillary Clinton, and the
Republicans, their anger -- reaction, actually, to the planned NBC
miniseries on Hillary Clinton and the CNN documentary about the former
secretary of state has put her squarely back in the headlines.
And here`s a sample of today`s reaction. "New York Times" columnist
Maureen Dowd concedes that the RNC chair -- that`s Reince Priebus -- has a
point in his complaints to the networks with the piece headline, "Reince Is
Well, David Brock of Media Matters wrote letters to the NBC entertainment
division and CNN, all their heads over there, calling for the Hillary
Clinton projects to be scrapped. His concerns, he said, include how the
networks would handle right-wing criticism. He writes -- quote -- "How
will your network respond to the right-wing noise machine that is already
pressuring you to adopt its ideological lens on Clinton?"
Well, David Bossie, president of Citizens United, whose unflattering movie
about Hillary Clinton in the 2008 cycle became the subject of a Supreme
Court case, has helpfully offered the networks his movie as a counterweight
to the upcoming Hillary productions, writing, "If you would like more
information about our films, please do not hesitate to contact us." I
think that was sarcastic.
Bottom line, Hillary Clinton and the Republicans` free of fear of her in
2016 have been dominating the latest political discussion.
Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and director -- actually
editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group, and Cynthia Tucker
is visiting professor of journalism at the University of Georgia and a
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
Thank you both.
I want to start with Cynthia.
Cynthia, one of the interesting things, I have always -- back when we were
with Carter, we would watch Johnny Carson in his day to find out where the
country was. If Carson was with you, you`re OK. If he turns against you,
with his snappy humor, even sharp humor, you are dead.
And we could tell where Carter was headed towards the end of that
administration. When Carson left you, it was worse than Cronkite leaving
you. And in this case, he had the audience nailed when he said the nice
things about Hillary`s service as secretary of state. Automatic applause
line, no question about it.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that something the Republicans have to deal with as they
begin to turn their guns on her, that she has this accepted success at
State, and they -- if they have that to run against, how do they beat her?
TUCKER: Well, that`s why they`re starting to try to beat up on her now,
Chris, because they understand that they don`t have a single possible
candidate who has either Hillary`s experience or her stature.
TUCKER: You know, it is certainly early.
We don`t even know if she`s going to run, but the polls show her currently
besting the best that they have to offer. She`s running better than Chris
Christie. She`s running better than Rand Paul. And the others fall off
after that. And so -- but they have been worried about Hillary Clinton
They thought she was going to be the nominee then. That was before her
very successful run as secretary of state. As you mentioned, they were
aiming, you know, a poisonous movie at her even then.
MATTHEWS: I know.
TUCKER: So they have feared a run by Hillary Clinton for a very long time.
MATTHEWS: Howard, you know what I think is really bugging them? They know
the only way to beat Hillary is to run a moderate, like Christie, and
they`re darned determined not to do that.
So, now they face the awful conundrum, we don`t want her to beat us, but we
can`t beat her with any of our right-wing guys, so we`re screwed. And they
hate thinking that, because what`s happening now is, the only way to beat
Hillary is probably to run somebody like Christie, and have a shot based on
the polling. And they don`t want to do that. They don`t want to beat her
with a guy who can beat her. They want to beat her with somebody who can`t
beat, which is nonsense. That`s the problem.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I think that
And I think, also, they would like to raise some money off of the specter
FINEMAN: And I think that`s part of -- I think part of that`s what`s going
I think President Obama still scares them, but, after all, he can`t run
FINEMAN: Washington`s tied up and in gridlock. The president, it`s a
little hard to get people as worked up and as scared, perhaps, as they were
a few years ago.
And -- but Hillary scares the heck out of them, and so they want to raise
her profile at a time when Hillary really doesn`t want to do so.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
FINEMAN: They`re trying to draw -- they`re trying to draw her in and draw
Hillary has -- and the Clintons have a great sense of timing. They know
this is a four-year campaign. This is way too early for Hillary to be this
controversial, this exposed.
FINEMAN: She wants to go around the country, give a lot of speeches, make
a lot of money without too much spotlight, and also wait for the right time
and work on building her base by helping other people get elected in the
states between now and 2014.
MATTHEWS: That`s so smart. There`s the animated attack on Hillary against
the unanimated Hillary, because she`s staying out of the spotlight, for a
MATTHEWS: You can`t run for three years.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, RNC chair Reince Priebus, a favorite of this show, says
he doesn`t expect NBC or CNN to back down on their planned Hillary Clinton
And, because of that, he now vows to exclude them from Republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I expect them to move forward, and I expect
us to cut them out. So, I know, my guess is this is exactly what is going
to happen. They will produce the films, and we will cut them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I guess that was on Skype.
Anyway, it reminds me of the Joker in Batman. Anyway, he was talking to us
from Skype there.
And my question is why is Reince Priebus picking a fight over a Hillary
Clinton movie? A movie?
TUCKER: Well, you know, Howard talked about the fact that it`s a great way
for them to raise some money at a time when Republicans don`t have anything
to be excited about. And so, I think it`s true that their anger at Hillary
is a good fund-raising tool.
But, Chris, let`s remember, Republican leaders have been looking for a way
to get out of primary debates for some time now.
MATTHEWS: Yes, because --
TUCKER: Because the primary debates were not a good thing for them the
last time around.
TUCKER: It gave them -- their crazies way too much exposure.
TUCKER: And it didn`t help Mitt Romney much either. He was their eventual
nominee, but it was in one of those debates that he made his unfortunate
remark about self-deportation.
TUCKER: And that stuck with him throughout the general election. And so,
one of the things they`ve talked about in their analyses and postmortems,
how to sort of clean up their act for 2016, is maybe they need to have
And so, they`re looking for a way to minimize the exposure that the
Republican crazies have during the primaries.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to give another highway to the clown car.
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. And thank you, Cynthia Tucker. We`ll
be back after this.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Two more women have come forward accusing San Diego Mayor Bob
Filner of sexual harassment. That brings the number to 13. The latest
women to come forward are both veterans of his staff and each say they were
subjected to unwanted sexual advances when Filner was a U.S. Congress
Well, this week, Mayor Filner entered a behavior counseling clinic for two
weeks of what`s been described as intensive therapy.
HARDBALL, back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You said in the Rose Garden,
the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a
spontaneous demonstration. Is that what you`re saying?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please proceed, Governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the
president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CANDY CROWLEY, MODERATOR: He did in fact, sir. Let me call it an act of
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
That was President Obama and Mitt Romney colliding in an exchange over
Benghazi in that October 16th second presidential debate.
Well, "The Washington Post" chief political correspondent -- actually the
dean of Washington political reporters, Dan Balz, is out with his new book
about that campaign. It`s called "Collision 2012: Obama Versus Romney and
the Future of Elections in America."
Well, the pendulum I believe is swinging in the Republican Party right now.
And as the party moves hard right, will they try another establishment-type
like Romney or Dole or McCain or someone -- or Christie or Jeb Bush? Or
will the party go for one of its Tea Party heroes like Rand Paul?
Here with me now is the author of thereat book "Collision 2016", "The
Washington Post`s" Dan Balz.
Dan, let`s talk about what you call the subterranean campaign of 2012 and
what it offers us perhaps as a future.
DAN BALZ, AUTHOR, "COLLISION 2012": We think of the campaign as the
campaign we all cover all the time. Everything we talk about, every
utterance, every gaffe, every debate, every movement. And that`s part of
politics and in many ways the interesting and enjoyable part of politics,
but it`s not necessarily the decisive part of politics, Chris. And there
are important and underlying powerful forces that affect every campaign.
In 2012, one was the economy. Would it be just good enough to allow
President Obama to win re-election or bad enough to deny him re-election?
Another was voter anger. Which direction would it go? A third was the
deep red/blue divide in this country and how that shaped attitudes beyond
what other people might say.
And lastly, the shifting demographics in this country, which have moved
against the Republican Party over a number of years and which they realized
in a more significant way when Mitt Romney got only 27 percent of the
Hispanic vote last year. They have a problem on their hands on that front
and they have to figure out how to deal with it.
MATTHEWS: Are they in a "whose turn is it" mood like they have been so
many times in the past? It was Reagan`s turn and then George, Sr.`s turn
and then George Jr.`s turn and then McCain`s turn and then Romney`s turn.
Are they in a "whose turn is it" mood? Or are they into something a little
more revolutionary next time based upon the selection?
BALZ: Chris, it doesn`t seem like they`re in a "whose turn is it"?
Because if you look at the people who ran in 2012 and who may run again,
Rick Perry, governor of Texas, Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania
senator. The truth is very few people are talking about them as likely
nominees or even front-runners at the start of this.
BALZ: The party at this point is looking at a very wide open contest for
the Republican nomination in 2016. There are a lot of people thinking
about running. There are a lot of potentially attractive candidates to
Republican voters. And I think we`re going to see a pretty big and robust
debate among these people, and part of that will be, what`s the direction
the party should take?
MATTHEWS: The establishment wing -- and that`s why the establishment wing
of both parties, Democrat and Republican, tends to win nominations.
They`ve got to Dukakises, they`ve got to Clintons, they`ve got all the
money, they`ve got the big states behind them, the big stats behind them.
Do you think the establishment wing of the Republican Party can get one
more election victory? Can they win after all these people like Dole and
McCain and the Bushes, can they win against the right, because the right
hasn`t won since Reagan really?
BALZ: The right has not won since then probably is the fair way to put it.
The establishment wing does somehow manage to prevail, and in part because
the insurgent wing or very conservative wing or however you describe it
often come to far to the right in these contests that Republican voters as
a whole conclude they`re probably not electable.
Governor Romney was out this week talking about the importance of getting
behind candidates who can win. And he basically said there will only be
one or maybe two people in the campaign in 2016 who can do that. And they
said get behind those candidates.
But we`re likely to see a more significant debate because conservatives
believe they haven`t had the opportunity to show their ideas to the
MATTHEWS: How about the Getty thing, where the party knows it probably
can`t like in `64 against Johnson after Kennedy was killed, or in `80, I
guess, I`m trying to -- `80, when they couldn`t -- actually McGovern, when
they couldn`t beat Nixon in `72. When they look at Hillary as almost
insurmountable, would that tend to make them go to the bases say, you know,
we`re probably not going to win, so let`s pick somebody we believe in.
BALZ: Well, I put it this way. I think that choice for the Republican
Party in the near term is do they decide they`re a congressionally based
party, in which their power will reside primarily by controlling the House
of Representatives --
BALZ: -- where they have a built-in advantage. Or do they seek to become
a national party capable of winning a presidential election? And I don`t
think we know the answer as to where the party as a whole decides they want
to go on.
MATTHEWS: And a leading indicator will be the vote on immigration, right?
BALZ: That will be one indicator. But very likely many of the people who
seek the nomination in 2016 are on the side of some kind of path to
legalization or citizenship. There will be some who seek the nomination
who are against that. But a number have already come out in favor of that
whether it`s Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan, Scott Walker.
A number of Republicans may run who are already on record in favor of that.
What happens in the House of Representatives, we really don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Let`s look at a preview here. It may be a decisive battle
coming up in the primary here. Look at this recent spat between Chris
Christie, the governor of Jersey, and Rand Paul from Kentucky, the
libertarian. This is two wings of the party in action here. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It`s really, I think, kind of sad and cheap
that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, "Oh, I`m the only one
who cares about these victims." Hogwash. If he cared about protecting
this country, maybe he wouldn`t be in this, "Gimme, gimme, gimme, give me
all the money you have in Washington or don`t have".
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: So, if Senator Paul wants to start
looking at where he`s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he
should look at cutting the pork barrel spending he brings home to Kentucky
at $1.51 for every $1 and not look at New Jersey where we get 61 cents for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dan, I know you don`t make predictions like the late -- David
Broder never made predictions. Maybe that`s the safe move. But what are
we looking at here? Are we looking at something that`s the future, not the
rearview mirror here?
BALZ: Well, we`re looking at two people who certainly have their eye on
running in 2016 and they`re taking a few potshots at one another now and,
you know, testing it out. And seeing what the other`s made of. But I
think when you look at each of those two men, one of the things that they
share in common is they both have some convincing to do to a part of the
BALZ: There`s a lot of conservatives who are unhappy with Governor
Christie for some of the things he`s done. But there`s a part of the party
that`s very wary about some of the positions that Rand Paul has. He`s a
favorite of the Tea Party on some fiscal issues, but on foreign policy
issues, he`s not in the mainstream.
MATTHEWS: No, he`s where I`m at on foreign policy.
Anyway, the name of your book, it`s a great big book, "Collision 2012:
Obama Versus Romney and The Future of Elections in America." I like it
when Dan goes to the future. Dan Balz, maybe some predictions in there.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
I`ve been offering a prediction of late. Let me nail it down tonight.
I believe the Republican Party is going to go hard-right in 2016. It`s
going to run someone from the growing hard-right wing of the party,
something it hasn`t done since 1980.
And here`s the thinking, which works equally well for Democrats as well:
Parties, as you`ve noticed, face a conflict every four years. Should they
run someone who represents their strongest passions, right or left? Or do
they run someone who appeals to the middle?
Well, most of the time, they head to the middle. And this is what
Republicans did most successfully in 1952 -- when, after 20 years of FDR
and Harry Truman -- they wanted back in the White House. They ran the
general who received the Nazi surrender and, guess what, they won.
In 1956 and 1960 they stuck to the middle, with Ike the second time, then
with Richard Nixon.
In 1964, the right said it was its turn and blew the roof off the Cow
Palace out in San Francisco, mocking Republican moderates and liberals like
New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, then getting killed with Barry
Goldwater running against Lyndon Johnson in November.
The Democrats ran moderates in `60 and `64 and `68 but then went wild in
1972 and ran anti-Vietnam warrior George McGovern of South Dakota. That`s
the year the Democrats got killed.
And so, the pendulum goes. The party bases get pushed aside for several
elections and finally build up steam -- much like a volcano -- and come
roaring to the surface.
Obama won in 2008 over Hillary Clinton because the opponents of the Iraq
War had had it with party leaders who played it safe and backed the war.
I believe that the Republican base will do the same in 2016. They put up
with George Bush the first, put up with Bob Dole, were deeply disappointed
by the big-spending George W and last year, again, by Mitt Romney, and are
now going to come loaded for bear into the race for 2016.
So, I predict the hard right is going to take over the Republican Party in
2016 and that the nomination is going to Rand Paul.
You watch! This is what I do for a living.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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