August 22, 2013
Guests: Aaron Sorkin, John Brabender, A.B. Stoddard
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Colin Powell versus Reince Priebus. Who are you
going to call?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Colin Powell, perhaps the most respected
Republican in the country, says his party is sending a message to African-
Americans. By pushing measures that make it harder for people to vote,
it`s saying that it wants to punish black America. That`s Colin Powell
This puts General Powell, the hero of the Gulf war, in a battle with RNC
chair Reince Priebus, who has presided over the Republican Party`s multi-
state effort to close down voting days and set higher requirements for
voting in this country.
So who are you going to call, the general who wants to get Americans -- all
Americans -- to vote and participate in this country`s government -- well -
- or the party chair who supports bills to make it harder for minorities
and young people to vote? Who are you going to call, Colin Powell, war
hero, or Reince Priebus, the field marshal of the Republican program to
vastly reduce the number of black voters?
James Peterson is the director of Africana Studies at Lehigh -- he`s an
engineer -- and Clarence Page is a columnist for "The Chicago Tribune."
Let`s start with General Powell and what he said in his own words today.
He was speaking in North Carolina, at the CEO forum down there in Raleigh,
where he criticized Republican efforts to limit voting.
"The News and Observer" down there quotes him as saying, quote, "I want to
see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more
difficult to vote. It immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican
Party needs. These kinds of actions do not build on the base, it just
turns people away. You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud.
How can it be widespread and undetected? What it really says to the
minority voter is, We really are sort of punishing you."
Clarence Page, you`ve been covering politics as long as I have. Colin
Powell only comes in from Olympus, or wherever he reigns from, occasionally
and everybody hears every word he speaks because he is a Republican.
CLARENCE PAGE, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, he is, and not long ago, back in
the mid-`90s, you remember, when people, not just Republicans, were pushing
him to run for president...
PAGE: ... a reflection of the level of credibility he has. But you know,
Chris, I`ve often thought that, you know, Powell was in the military for
the second half of the last century. It`s almost like being encased in ice
while all these crazy changes have happened in the Republican Party. It`s
moved farther right. He still represents what`s left of the old
Rockefeller Republicans, the Eisenhower Republicans, the Jake Javits
Republicans. That`s -- that`s his sensibility.
MATTHEWS: The Lionel Hampton Republicans.
PAGE: If you will. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: No, he was one of the chair of the parties up in New York.
MATTHEWS: ... Dina Merrill. There was an interesting duo.
PAGE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: But actually, you`re right. I don`t want to be too comical
about it because that`s the Republican Party I grew up watching...
PAGE: Me, too.
MATTHEWS: ... and my family was part of and...
PAGE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me go to James Patterson on the -- Peterson on
this. Professor, this thing is a battle writ large, I think, because there
you have now the most respected Republican across party lines, and you have
Reince Priebus, who has a job. He`s a partisan.
Somehow, he got the idea, with this 30-some state effort to reduce the
chances of a black vote, that the way to diminishing white percentage of
the country and diminishing Republican portion of the country will survive
is to make it harder for the other portion of the country, the growing
portion, to participate.
It`s pretty blatant, especially -- we`re going to have some quotes coming
up on this segment, of Republicans saying that`s what they`re up to.
JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: You`re right. It`s blatant, and it is
-- it`s quite cynical. It`s kind of a last ditch effort to play to that
shrinking base of the Republican Party that we`ve been talking about a lot,
over -- since the presidential election.
Chris, you`re right about General Powell`s sort of measuredness in terms of
when and how he makes interventions, and part of the reason why he`s able
to retain some of his credibility is because he does it so rarely. And so
when does it, we want to hear what he has to say.
He`s been challenging his party. Every time he`s made any of these
interventions within the Obama era, he`s been challenging his party to be
more reasonable. And I think that`s kind of the pathway to the future.
Unfortunately, Reince Priebus is in a tough situation where the candidates
and the politicals within his party that want to have a certain kind of
campaign sort of stretch into the mid-terms and ultimately into the
presidential election are very much interested in continuing to play to
this base. Not everyone in the Republican Party is trying to do this, but
Reince Priebus is following the lead of the Ted Cruz wing of the party
MATTHEWS: You`re right. And let me tell you, you`re sitting in
Philadelphia with the cityscape behind you there. And I got to tell you,
it reminded me that I grew up in a state, Pennsylvania, where you`re at --
you`re a professor at, up in -- up at Lehigh -- where you had Hugh Scott,
senator for years, you had Arlen Specter, senator for years, both
Republicans. And Arlen would get, like, 35 percent of the African-American
vote, a huge chunk, which is the historic percentage the Republican Party
used to get before it started to get 10 percent of the black vote, which is
why it loses an 80 percent of the -- a net 80 percent of the black vote in
the big cities because 90 minus 10 is 80.
It used to be two thirds minus a third was a third, and the Republican
Party could win statewide easily by losing a third of the black vote net.
But you when you start losing a net 80 percent of the black vote, you`re
not in the business anymore.
Anyway, here`s Pennsylvania Republicans -- a guy speaking out openly about
using voter ID requirements to limit the vote. Here`s Pennsylvania house
Republican leader Mike Turzai in June of last year. Let`s listen to him
admit they`re using this voter ID requirement to screw the black voter out
of voting. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE TURZAI (R), PA HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter ID, which is going to
allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Romney wins with the voter ID car. And just this summer, the
Pennsylvania Republican Party chair bragged that voter ID helped
Republicans shave some points -- this is like point shaving in basketball -
- shave some points...
PETERSON: So cynical, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... from Obama`s win last year. Let`s listen to this guy admit
it again. We`re not making this up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you thinks all the attention drawn to voter ID
affected last year`s elections?
ROB GLEASON, PA GOP CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think a little bit. I think we
probably had a better election. Think about this. We cut Obama by 5
percent, which was big. You know, a lot of people lost sight of that. He
-- he won -- he beat McCain by 10 percent, he only beat Romney by 5
percent. I think that probably photo ID had a -- helped a bit in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What`s this guy, under sodium pentothal?
MATTHEWS: Why -- Professor -- let me got to the -- Clarence, I don`t get
it. I don`t know why they even admit it. They just...
MATTHEWS: What world do they live in?
PAGE: Some people are tone-deaf to how they sound, you know?
PAGE: I mean, here his party is denying that voter ID has anything to do
with race or partisanship, but everybody knows quite the opposite. He just
gave the game away, kind of like when Lee Atwater said, Well, we don`t use
the "N" word anymore. + Now we`re more abstract -- you know, use words like
"school busing" or "crime in the streets,` blah, blah, blah.
PAGE: That`s the same kind of thing happening here.
MATTHEWS: But he said the mere -- and professor, he`s saying the mere word
spreading in the black community -- when people (INAUDIBLE) where people
live in rowhouses and don`t all have driver`s licenses and people get old
and live into their `70s and `80s and maybe `90s, if they`re fortunate,
they`re not driving around in cars. They don`t have driver`s licenses.
MATTHEWS: And they get the word because the Republican effort out there --
Hey, there`s this new requirement, you don`t have the right paperwork. A
lot of people, apparently, according to this guy, 5 percent, didn`t bother
voting because they thought they weren`t allowed to, so they won just by
the bad noise.
PETERSON: I know, but you know, it`s absurd, though, Chris, because what
the data really shows is that, actually, this tactic backfired at the
presidential level because it galvanized voters and it charged voters up to
PETERSON: ... and kind of sort of pursue through it. But it`s also --
this is really interesting. Why aren`t they talking about voter fraud,
which is supposed to be the reason behind this? They`re talking about
shaving points and trying to sort of reduce and diminish the vote.
We live in a democracy. Either we`re trying to make this a great
democracy, where more people participate, or we`re not.
PETERSON: So if you`re putting in laws and you`re instituting and
supporting laws that are against this -- and listen, this is not just
against the black vote. This is against elderly voters, as you just
pointed out. This is against Latino, Hispanic voters. This is against
These voter ID laws and other laws and sort of shrinking the window to vote
basically reduces our democracy to less than what it can be right now, and
this is why it`s intolerable.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think -- and Colin Powell, the general, is so smart
because he`s not denying there`s any voter fraud. Of course there`s voter
fraud. Things happen. There are some big city machines we grew up with we
know -- I`m not sure...
MATTHEWS: ... like Philly over the years. But it doesn`t change the
results of statewide elections or big congressional elections or anything
like that. And if there -- and as Powell points out, the great irony --
it`s a bit sarcastic -- if there`s so much of it that affects elections,
how come nobody can find any? Any!
MATTHEWS: That`s a good point. Anyway, there`s even more movement today
in the voting rights effort. In addition to General Powell`s comments, the
Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas to block that
state`s voter ID law, which went in effect a mere hours after the Supreme
Court decision that effectively gutted the Civil Rights Act -- actually,
the Voting Rights Act.
In a statement here, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "We will not allow
the supreme Court`s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for
states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights."
In fact, within hours of that comment, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who is
one partisan pol, issued his own statement, which reads, in fact, "Facts
mean little to a politicized Justice Department bent on inserting itself
into the sovereign affairs of Texas and a lame duck administration in
trying to turn our state blue."
Excuse me, Senator! Lame duck? We are six months into a four-year
MATTHEWS: But that`s the way they want us to think, isn`t it, Clarence?
PAGE: Well, you know...
MATTHEWS: They`ve been really good at it, make everybody think Obama`s on
his way out the door.
PAGE: Sure. You know, the irony of this is that, as was mentioned
earlier, while the Republicans have put so much attention on voter ID, they
had a problem getting white blue-collar male voters to turn out. That`s
probably what really sunk Romney. When you look at the low turnout among
reliable Republican voters in reliable districts, especially rural
districts and -- that really made a big difference because Romney was not
connecting with the base. This is why...
MATTHEWS: Well, he connected once when he said 47 percent.
PAGE: Well, that`s the thing, yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Everybody in America heard that one.
PAGE: That apparently had a bigger impact than anything else.
MATTHEWS: Because a lot of Republicans are below the average income in
PAGE: Well, yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) cloth coat Republicans...
MATTHEWS: ... my family. Regular Republicans are not all rich.
PAGE: Thank you. (INAUDIBLE) the last 50 years. That`s where your Reagan
Democrats came from. Ronald Reagan connected with blue-collar white
voters, but they have not had that kind of connection since in the GOP, and
so they`ve turned to tactics like voter ID to...
PAGE: ... shave a few points here and...
MATTHEWS: Let`s got to the academic world. Tell me, Professor -- I don`t
know you personally. I`ve only seen you do such great things, on this
network, especially, and I mean it.
PETERSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: But tell me what you says in school to school guys up at -- up
at -- up at Lehigh, and what -- how do they see this in the history, in
American history, and that the Republican Party, after all these years of
being damned good back in the `60s on voting rights -- I checked it out
today. Only two Republican senators in the entire Senate voted against the
Voting Rights Act. That was John Tower of Texas, and of course, Strom
Thurmond. That was it!
PETERSON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Every other Republican senator was gung-ho for voting rights.
And today what would the vote be?
PETERSON: It would be...
MATTHEWS: Among Republicans.
PETERSON: It would be almost the opposite of that.
PETERSON: And what I try to tell students, Chris, is we have to be
students of history, but also understand this particular moment. It gets
real trick when you think about the history of the Republican Party and the
Democratic Party and how they sort of switched sides.
PETERSON: And you look at the Democratic Party, a lot of progressives
think that the Democratic Party is kind of the Republican Party of the
immediate future. And so there is some confusion.
But these particular cases, we have to pay attention. You know, what
Attorney General Holder is looking at here is using section 2, the section
of the Voting Rights Act that hasn`t been gutted...
PETERSON: ... that actually prohibits any kind of voting practices that
discriminate based upon race, color, or what they refer to as linguistic
minority. And also, the Congress in the `80s added certain addendums to
this so that the courts could use all sorts of important information, like
to look at the history of a particular state or particular district, to
look at racial polarization in terms of voting, to look at representation
in terms of elected officials across racial lines.
And so we have to share that and teach young people to look at the
PETERSON: ... around some of these issues, and that`s how we sort of
wrestle through these kind of complicated times.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, James. Thank you, Clarence. And by the way, it reminds
me Reince Priebus...
PETERSON: And Chris? Chris...
MATTHEWS: Yes, quick.
PETERSON: Chris, one more thing. We`re not engineers anymore. We`re the
-- Lehigh is no longer engineers. We`re the Mountain Hawks now.
MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.
MATTHEWS: ... like the Stanford Cardinal with its Christmas tree mascot.
Anyway, I just want to say this. It`s like the little kid who runs home
with -- takes his ball home because he can`t win the game.
MATTHEWS: It was once the Republican Party`s great challenge to compete
for the African-American vote.
PAGE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And they did a decent job for years.
PAGE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: They got to get back in the game. Anyway -- that`s my
(INAUDIBLE) get back in the game. Anyway -- Republicans.
Anyway, a programming note. Rachel Maddow will broadcast her whole show
tomorrow night live from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. And actually,
that`s tonight, with a whole show of reporting about the effects of the new
voting restrictions across that state. North Carolina is getting hit on
Coming up, the latest idea from the Republican fever swamps. Here it is,
lame duck. And here`s the bigger word, impeachment. As one GOP
congressman put it, impeachment would be a dream come true. We just don`t
have any evidence. Isn`t that backwards? So they start with the verdict
and then they try to come up with the crime.
Also, it looks like Bob Filner is finally out as mayor of San Diego after
18 women -- I guess that`s enough -- said it`s time for him to get out of
there. And he is leaving this Friday.
Plus, something you have to hear, an incredible -- this is heart-warming, a
911 call from a school clerk down in Atlanta who talked down an armed young
guy with an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammo and got him to not kill anybody.
That`s the -- by the way, the creator of "West Wing" is on tonight, also
the creator of "Newsroom." Aaron Sorkin gets a news organization in real
life to set the record straight. He does it live on our show.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics -- or at least taped.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got some dramatic new poll numbers in that hot governor`s
race in Virginia. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Democrat Terry McAuliffe now has a real
6-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli among -- this is a big one --
likely voters. This is important. It`s McAuliffe 48, getting close to 50,
Cuccinelli down to 42. This is the first time Quinnipiac has polled
Virginia voters who say they are likely to vote in the November election.
According to NBC`s "First Read," no one in either camp believes McAuliffe
is up by as much as this poll suggests, but both sides say McAuliffe`s
narrowly ahead. You know, this might be an outlier, it may not be.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. Blow up the government, blow up the economy, and
now blow up the office of the presidency. In case you ever doubted the
Republican -- let`s call it -- hatred of President Obama, a vocal chorus of
Republicans are now calling for him to be impeached. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: If I could write that bill and submit
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
BENTIVOLIO: Excuse me. It would be a dream come true. I feel your pain.
I went back to my office, and I`ve had lawyers come in -- and these are
lawyers, well-trained -- Ph.D.`s in history. I said, Tell me how I can
impeach the president of the United States.
REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Here`s the issue. And you tie into a
question I get a lot. You know, if everybody`s so unhappy with what the
president`s done, why don`t you impeach him? And I`ll give you a real
frank answer about that. If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you
could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you saw those people. Congressmen Bentivolio and
Farenthold, whom you saw in that clip, are hardly the only ones who have
publicly discussed now the matter of impeaching Obama. Members of Congress
like Michele Bachmann, Steve Stockman, James Inhofe, the Senate, have
famously advocated for forcefully removing President Obama from office.
And now Buzzfeed, the Web site, is reporting that Senator Tom Coburn, an
otherwise well respected guy, said yesterday that Obama was getting
perilously close to the constitutional standard of impeachment.
Well, those fringe voices of the party have been magnified by town halls
and what are called wacko-birds by some, people like Ted Cruz. Cruz has
offered his sympathy and implicit support to those looking to impeach
Obama. Here`s Cruz at a town hall this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don`t we impeach him?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It`s a good question, and I`ll tell you the
simplest answer, is to successfully impeach a president, you need the votes
in the U.S. Senate. And with Harry Reid and the Democrats controlling the
Senate, it can`t succeed.
I think the stage is set for 2014 to be a fantastic year for Republicans.
I believe in 2014, we can take the majority of the U.S. Senate and retire
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Ed Rendell`s an MSNBC political analyst and he`s, of
course, former governor of Pennsylvania. And John Brabrender`s a
Republican strategist with many impressive clients, I must say. I learned
Let me go to the governor on this one. This attempt to delegitimize the
president began way back with the "you lie" and the birtherism and this
sort of attempt to put an asterisk next to his name so in the list of
American presidents someday, they`ll be able to say, Well, he was never
actually president because he was from some other country, or he was
impeached or there was talk of impeachment, and the bill he passed was
never really an act of government, it was simply a bill, a sort of pet
project of Obama`s. It was called "Obama care." He never really was
there. He never had a record. He was never president.
They are using tissue rejection to try to get him out of the American body
politic. It`s -- I have never seen it. They didn`t like Clinton. They
fought over Clinton. We all fought over different people. This is an
attempt to say, you ain`t even there, Obama.
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, I love it, and the
reason I love it is because...
MATTHEWS: Love it?
I will tell you, I love it, because it is costing them supporters. To
normal people, those moderate Republicans, those conservative Democrats who
might have a tendency to vote Republican, might have had a tendency to vote
for Mitt Romney, they think this stuff is crazy. They think it`s mean-
spirited. And they think it`s divisive.
It`s everything they hate about American politics. And they have come to
the conclusion that they can`t support Republicans because, even if the
individual Republican is a good guy, he`s controlled by the wacko faction
of the party. So, I think it`s self-destructive, and from a standpoint of
a loyal Democrat, I love it. They`re wacko.
MATTHEWS: Let me asking you, John, the politics. Why do people go along
with this? It`s not just the ones who are on the fringe or the far right.
It`s people like Boehner who don`t really want to go to war with these
They`re given opportunities by the press all the time. You can say the
liberal press, but you walk up to a guy and say, what do you think of
Cruz`s latest of what do you think of this guy (INAUDIBLE) lately or what
Steve King said lately, and everybody goes, well, they`re entitled to their
JOHN BRABENDER, FORMER SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, it`s really
a symptom of a bigger problem.
We have no Republican messenger running out message right now, where we`re
all behind. So what`s happening is different elements of the Republican
Party are trying to raise money. They`re talking only to the base, and
what they`re doing is very counterproductive, because what they`re really
doing is shrinking the base, only talking to the most passionate supporters
who, frankly, want to get rid of Obama.
And I think that this is counterproductive. I think the governor is right.
If we don`t change this, it could hurt us in the 2014 elections.
MATTHEWS: But you do make of -- I think that is all smart, but let me ask
What is this thing about impeachment? Because with Nixon we had a -- I
think some things are a bit overdone. Certainly, a lot of these recall
things are really just an attempt to have a revote. It`s not because the
guy did something illegal or unethical. I think that`s a misuse of a --
certainly with Gray Davis and the others -- and we could argue about Scott
Walker and the rest of them.
But the fact is you should only -- you shouldn`t try to have another -- I
will go to you, Governor, on this. I think elections are for when you
decide who the officeholder should be. If somebody commits a high crime,
well, then you have an impeachment, but I don`t know what high crime is
even being pushed by the Republicans.
They keep saying -- even a guy as smart as Cruz says, well, let me -- I`m
trying to find some lawyers or some historians to come up with something,
or it`s not that we don`t have enough votes in the Senate. How about the
more cardinal question. Is there a grounds for impeachment? It`s like
they`re going to -- even Darrell Issa. We`re going to find some grounds,
and then I`m going to get the guy.
RENDELL: Well, that`s exactly right, Chris.
High crimes and misdemeanors is the constitutional standard. There`s not a
scintilla of evidence anywhere that the president has done anything against
the law. And -- but it doesn`t matter, it doesn`t matter. As John said,
they`re trying to feed the base in many cases for their own political
purposes, and by feeding the base, or the extreme part of the base, they
are absolutely shrinking it.
You know, when we campaign against a good guy like Pat Meehan from Delaware
County next time, we`re going to say, Pat Meehan`s OK, but he`s controlled
by the Republican leadership, and they`re controlled by these wackos, these
divisive, hateful people who you don`t like. And the only way we can
change it is to get rid of Republican control of the House.
MATTHEWS: So, you -- but that sort of middles him, doesn`t it? That
forces Pat Meehan to say...
MATTHEWS: It forces him to say, well, I`m not one of them.
MATTHEWS: That puts him in a bad situation.
BRABENDER: But what you`re really saying is this comes back to
BRABENDER: There are certainly districts where it is just the base, so a
MATTHEWS: Delaware County is not like that.
BRABENDER: Delaware County, as you know, from Pennsylvania, is not like
that, very modern.
But you also got to be careful. A lot of these problems that came up were
town hall meetings where people in the audience asked questions. I know
the Tom Coburn example better. He said, number one, I am not calling for
impeachment. I am saying that there are people calling for them. I don`t
think he`s done anything illegal or unethical. I do think he`s
incompetent, but I also consider him a friend of mine.
MATTHEWS: Well, who is more powerful in this country right now? This is
loaded. This is like, have you stopped beating your wife? And I don`t
even know if you`re married.
But here`s the question.
BRABENDER: And I am.
MATTHEWS: Is Boehner more powerful, or is the angry guy in the last row at
the next town meeting? Who is the more powerful guy?
BRABENDER: Well, I think -- and I will be honest with you. I think it`s
the angry guy as long as he`s also writing checks to candidates, because
what`s happening is we`re being driven by candidates who want to run in
And what they`re trying to do is compete for out conservatism...
MATTHEWS: Is the outside rail the best place to be in the Republican
BRABENDER: No, it`s not. Now, they`re not all that way.
MATTHEWS: But they`re fighting for the outside rail.
MATTHEWS: I mean, let`s face it. You got Rand Paul fighting to get out as
far as he can. And nobody wants to say, well, I wouldn`t impeach the
president. Nobody is willing to say that.
BRABENDER: I agree.
I think you have Ted Cruz and Rand Paul talking about libertarian or going
that far, but you do have people like Chris Christie, who is more moderate.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s going the normal route.
BRABENDER: And you have got Rick Santorum, who went to Iowa and said we
have got to start talking to hardworking people, not the 1 percent, but
hardworking, blue-collar America.
MATTHEWS: Well, Governor, I don`t think anybody can beat Hillary Clinton
in Pennsylvania. But I do think that Chris Christie would be an awesome
candidate if the Democrats didn`t have Hillary.
RENDELL: Except even Chris Christie, who I admire, and I admire some of
the things he did, Chris, even he`s tacking towards the base.
You saw after proposing a law to ban .50-millimeter rifles that can be
accurate at a mile and can pierce Kevlar, even he put that forward as an
idea. When the legislature sent it to him, he vetoed it. Why did he veto
it? For only one reason. Because he`s playing to the base. It`s what
Mitt Romney did.
If Mitt Romney had run as the governor of Massachusetts, he would be
president of the United States today.
MATTHEWS: You know what I would do in those debates? I would call those
bullets cop killers.
MATTHEWS: That`s how I would fight that.
MATTHEWS: That`s how I would fight that. Nobody needs those guns.
Anyway, thank you. Governor Rendell, thank you.
And, John Brabender, for your insights.
I have said before and I will say it again, starting Monday -- I have to
keep saying this. It`s my job. HARDBALL, 7:00, you have got to watch us
at 7:00. And for those of you who have always watched us at 5:00 Eastern,
starting next week, you will need to tune in at 7:00. You have got to
change your habits. I`m asking you to do it. I know it`s a great time of
night as the sun goes down. We like to relax. Hold on until 7:00. That`s
when we`re coming on.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: You may have missed this, and it`s not something we normally do
on this show. It has nothing to do with politics, everything to do with
We got the 911 audiotape today from that school shooting down in suburban
Atlanta. And no one was injured when the gunman entered school and
exchanged fire with police. And many are attributing that outcome to a
brave school clerk, Antoinette Tuff -- there she is -- who tried to calm
and succeeded in calming down 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, who police
say was carrying an AK-47 rifle and 500 pounds -- or 500 rounds of
In the 911 tape, you can hear Tuff convince Hill to stand down.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANTOINETTE TUFF, TALKED SHOOTER DOWN: Let me talk to them and let`s see if
we can work it out so that you don`t have to go away with them for a long
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m already on probation.
TUFF: No, it does matter. I can let you know that you have not tried to
harm me or doing anything with me or anything, if you want to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TUFF: But that doesn`t make any difference. You didn`t hit anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t know that.
Let me ask you this, ma`am. He didn`t hit anybody. He just shot outside
the door. If I walk out there with him -- if I walk out there with him, so
they won`t shoot him or anything like that? He wants to give himself up.
Is that OK? And they won`t shoot him?
911 OPERATOR: Yes, ma`am.
TUFF: He`s on the ground now with his hands behind the back. Tell the
officers don`t come in with any guns -- don`t come in shooting or anything.
So, they can come on in. And I will buzz them in.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
TUFF: So, hold on. Just sit right there. And I`m going to buzz them in,
OK? So you will know when they`re coming, OK? OK.
So, just stay there calm. Don`t worry about it. I`m going to sit here, so
they will see that you tried not to harm me. OK? OK.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
TUFF: It`s going to be all right, sweetheart. I just want you to know
that I love you, though, OK? And I`m proud of you. That`s a good thing
that you`re just giving up and don`t worry about it. We all go through
something in life.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
DOMINIC CHU, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Dominic Chu with your CNBC "Market
The Dow ended a six-day losing streak up 66 points. The S&P 500 rose 14,
and the Nasdaq climbed by 38 points. The Nasdaq closed higher despite a
technical glitch that stopped trading for three hours this afternoon.
New jobless claims climbed by 13,000 last week, but still stayed close to a
And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped to 4.58 percent, a
new two-year high.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATTI ROSCOE, BUSINESSWOMAN: He would come in and try to kiss me on the
lips and I would have to squirm to get away.
REAR ADM. RONNE FROMAN (RET.), U.S. NAVY: He got very close to me, and ran
his finger up my cheek like this, and he whispered to me, do you have a
plan in your life?
IRENE MCCORMACK JACKSON, FORMER FILNER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I was
placed in the Filner headlock and moved around as a rag doll while he
whispered sexual comments in my ear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL.
Those were just three of the 18 women who have accused San Diego Mayor Bob
Filner of unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate sexual behavior.
Well, today, we learned that Mayor Filner has agreed to resign as part of a
deal reached this week with city officials. Filner was spotted, by the
way, leaving city hall with packing boxes Wednesday night, always a sign
you`re leaving, but will formally vacate the officer following a closed
session of the city council tomorrow, Friday.
He`s also expected to speak tomorrow after that closed-door session.
Anyway, the question a lot of people are asking now all around here is, how
did he get away with it for so long?
A.B. Stoddard is with "The Hill" newspaper. She does cover Capitol Hill,
where he was a congressman all those years. And Joan Walsh is editor of
Salon and an MSNBC political analyst.
A.B., you and I were talking before. And it does seem that Capitol Hill
does have standards on this. He was -- this didn`t leak out, this problem,
in all those 20-some years?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": He was there for 20 years.
If this was happening in Washington, he would have had a reputation about
this and he wouldn`t have gone away with it for so long.
He managed to have a longtime career. He was pretty -- not as a standout
congressman. But I`m still amazed. You listen to those women. There were
women who served in our armed forces who had been raped during their
service that he tried to put the moves on.
I mean, this is really bad stuff. And I`m just amazed that he admitted it
and then still wanted to hang onto his job until -- until tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: Yes. He resisted with this -- Joan, with therapy two-weeks
thing, which obviously...
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... was a time-delay tactic. It wasn`t going to get him off.
WALSH: Only two weeks.
Well, what do you think about this? Because we don`t know -- this thing
hasn`t gone to trial, and it may well go to a civil court. And we are
going to know a lot more about how he was able to intimidate people. Did
he threaten their jobs? Did he say, I`m sorry I did that, don`t bring that
up public -- I don`t know what he did to avoid people -- the headlock one,
of course, jumps right out at you.
WALSH: It`s horrible.
MATTHEWS: Dragged -- treated me like a rag doll.
WALSH: It`s horrible.
MATTHEWS: This isn`t -- this isn`t anything on the border. This is way
over, way over, almost criminal.
And it`s been awful, too, to listen to him sort of claim age as an excuse,
like times have changed, and he didn`t get the memo, or this stuff wasn`t
MATTHEWS: When was the headlock era?
WALSH: Yes, right.
The head -- I don`t know, Chris. I`m just not that old, when the headlock
was OK on a job. I shouldn`t be making light of it. It`s awful.
MATTHEWS: I`m not either. We`re not.
WALSH: I know. We`re not.
So, that was awful, because it presumes that men haven`t learned, most men.
The vast majority of men have learned what is acceptable. And this is --
you know, it`s a bipartisan thing. There was -- earlier last spring, there
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, Joan.
MATTHEWS: I love that you said that, because it`s everything in our
business today that recognizes that financial corruption and sexual
misbehavior are not rampant, but they are bipartisan.
WALSH: They are. Sadly, they are bipartisan.
I have been a progressive for too long to pretend that this doesn`t happen
among Democrats or among good enlightened progressives. It happens. But
we have also seen our friends on the right try to hang Filner and Anthony
Weiner around the necks of Democrats and pretend that this is some strange
MATTHEWS: Do you think -- I -- look, I`m of the opinion that now that
Weiner is not in the running, really, according to the polling, at least --
he may make a comeback, so good for him, I suppose, but not good for the
I think, as long as he doesn`t win the mayor out in New York -- but he was
used as kind of -- is that the word, doppelganger? It was Filner and
Weiner were used like a brace of trouble.
MATTHEWS: You know what I mean, Joan? And it was being used partisan-
wise, wasn`t it?
WALSH: Yes, it was.
I think George Will made some comments about it. And we had the spectacle
of Herman Cain, who at the time I think was the leading Republican
candidate in 2012 going down in a scandal like this. So, it is something
that happens on both sides.
I hope he`s really leaving. I hope there`s no last-minute...
MATTHEWS: You have a memory like an elephant. How did you remember? how
did you remember Herman Cain`s existence, much less that?
WALSH: It was just last year. We spent way too much of our lives talking
about that man, Chris, for me to ever forget it.
MATTHEWS: You are so smart.
MATTHEWS: She went back into the stack of golden oldies.
STODDARD: No, but I was going to bring up Congressman Foley.
STODDARD: And the reason Democrats were hammering the Republicans at that
time was because there was -- there was a sense that Republicans knew about
it and had failed to stop him reaching out to young aides.
STODDARD: But I don`t think that Filner and Weiner reflect on their party.
I think it reflects badly on politicians who think that they can do this.
MATTHEWS: Amy, you`re great.
MATTHEWS: "The Hill" newspaper. You know this stuff.
Thank you, A.B.
And, thank you, Joan Walsh.
MATTHEWS: Up next: The great Aaron Sorkin, he`s the genius behind the
"Newsroom" on HBO, but he has got something to straighten out about
something very much in the media that he didn`t like. And I think he`s
This is HARDBALL, the place for right -- the place for right? The place
for politics. Maybe it is.
MATTHEWS: Let me again remind you that please remember that starting on
Monday, HARDBALL will be on exclusively at 7:00 Eastern Time. I know it
means adjusting your evening rituals and habits, but I`m asking you to make
the move with me. We`re moving to 7:00 Eastern, just one showing of
HARDBALL every night.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Aaron Sorkin made politics romantic in "The West Wing". And now, he`s
doing the same thing for television news. HBO`s "The Newsroom" takes you
behind the scenes of a nightly cable news show. It`s perhaps a tad more
dramatic than the reality of what goes on, but not much.
And as it did in the first season, the show covers real-life stories like
the 2012 presidential election, the George Zimmerman case and Benghazi.
But season 2 also includes a story about the investigation into a military
black-op known as Genoa, in which the network accuses American troops for
using sarin gas on civilians in Pakistan. But the story turns out not to
be true. And on this week`s episode, that reality comes crashing down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t think the protest in Benghazi has anything to
do with the movie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t think it`s a protest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think it is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A planned coordinated attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrorist attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a source at State.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve used them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He saw an e-mail at the operations center to White
House, Pentagon and FBI saying Ansar al-Sharia is claiming credit for the
attack in Benghazi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the movie might just be a coincidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not a movie. "Avatar" is a movie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How bad is this thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it`s bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really bad at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have nothing but bad news since you raised your
hand at Northwestern.
Don and Jim have a source at State that says he saw an email Ansar al-
Sharia is saying they did Benghazi. It may have nothing to do with Cairo
and it`s 9/11 anniversary attack. What? Mac?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to retract Genoa tonight. All of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Dramatic stuff, and it`s coming on Sunday night.
I spoke with Aaron Sorkin, the writer, earlier today. And while discussing
his fictional show about the news media, he clear the air on a bogus real-
MATTHEWS: Aaron Sorkin, "The Newsroom" grabs people in the strangest.
It`s on Sunday night at 10:00. You think all weekend, it`s coming up.
And what grabs people is it`s organic. You`re watching these characters,
and you have no idea where they`re going to go. People really find it like
it`s a live animal, that show, like it`s going to do something next.
AARON SORKIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE NEWSROOM": Well, I can tell you
that I feel like when I`m making it, I`m being attacked by wild animals.
But the show is a lot of fun to make. I work with a great group of people.
I want for one second hijack this interview. There`s something I need to
do. I`m here in D.C., I did an event last night for "The New Republic", at
the Motion Pictures Association. We screened this Sunday`s episode, and
there was a Q&A after.
And "Mother Jones", terrific outlet, posted a story this morning saying
that I said "The Huffington Post" sucks. I certainly did not say that.
The headline writer didn`t take me out of context. The headline writer
The headline writer lied, and I just want to make sure that David Corn,
everyone at -- I`m sorry, Arianna and everybody at "Te Huffington Post"
knows that I did never and would never say that.
MATTHEWS: Great. You`ve made news tonight. Good.
Now, let`s go to this thing about truth because I think in that episode, I
did see a screener that you showed last night and it`s coming up. And
there`s a real bad guy in it. You have a bad guy who`s a news producer,
who cheats, who edits a film, makes him look like he`s saying something
about the use of sarin gas, poisonous gas, that he didn`t say, deliberate
lying by the media.
SORKIN: He is -- you`re talking about Jerry Dantana. He`s played by great
actor Hamish Linklater. And the thing is -- he is a true believer. He`s
not doing this for the money. He`s not doing it for the glory. He
honestly believes that this happened, the story happened, the story has got
to get out, that the general that he`s interviewing said it off-camera and
just got cold feet when he went on camera --
MATTHEWS: But did he say off-camera?
SORKIN: We`re going to find out. I don`t want to give too much away. But
what he said off-camera was "it happened." But the it that he`s talking
about is not the "it" that Jerry thought --
MATTEHWS: OK, there`s a great line -- OK, this is important to me in my
business, because I deal about it all the time with producers, we fight
about this, truth -- finding truth. You can have an attitude on top of
truth, but facts are facts. They edited the tape, he cheated.
SORKIN: Yes. There is -- listen, I`m not a journalism expert and
certainly not an expert on ethics in journalism. What he did is lying,
it`s straight-up wrong, what he did is exactly what "Mother Jones" did when
they said --
MATTHEWS: Getting back to that point.
SORKIN: I`m going to try to hammer it home in this interview, because its
mind-blowing to me that they simply invented out of whole cloth, this thing
that I said. And then, by the way -- I promise we`ll get back to the
subject, and then in the body of the article, he contacts several people at
"The Huffington Post" to say, hey, Sorkin said the "The Huffington Post"
sucks. What do you guys think?
This is playground coat holding. I never said that. This is a kid sitting
there going, fight, fight, fight.
MATTHEWS: So they constructed a story on top of a lie? OK, that`s what
SORKIN: They`re constructing an argument on top of a lie.
But in Jerry Dantana`s case, there`s no question that in that interview is
lying. He -- not I -- he believes that it`s for a righteous cause.
MATTHEWS: Why did I dislike the character? The second I saw him and began
to dislike him consistently. Is that in the writing? Where did that come
SORKIN: It`s a little bit in the writing. But, first of all, we cast and
Hamish Linklater, who is a -- he`s a great actor. We cast one of the most
likable, one of most inoffensive actors possible, because we didn`t want to
ride wearing a black hat and showing (ph) his mustache.
You didn`t like him for two reasons. One, he`s an outsider, and this is --
you know, it`s a workplace family. So, anyone from the outside, he was --
the audience is going to be suspicious of.
Second, in his introductory scene, will Warns Sloan, Olivia Munn, watch out
for this guy, I think he`s trying to win a Peabody. As soon as one of our
guys says watch out, that`s telling the audience, watch out of this guy.
MATTHEWS: That`s why I like the show. It`s organic. It`s an animal.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you about romance of truth, you have great
characters in the movies like Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men", up against a
guy like Jack Nicholson, with "code red" and all that.
MATTHEWS: How do you -- are they black hat/white hat guys?
SORKIN: No, I hope not. Nicholson is a good example of that character,
Colonel Jessup. He`s the antagonist, the one that the hero gets to send
away, but, you know, he has a big speech, people remember "you can`t handle
MATTHEWS: "Men on walls".
SORKIN: Yes. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. At the
end of that speech, hopefully, if I`ve done my job well, if the actor
playing the part has done it well, you in the audience are going to say
he`s got a point.
We know this guy, at least through negligence killed Santiago, but gee,
he`s got a good point. That`s when you win. When the black hats aren`t
all black, and the white hats aren`t all while.
MATTHEWS: Very Norman Mayer (ph), by the way. Because in very different
circumstances, the cosmos shifts. He`s a good guy.
MATTHEWS: You have romanticized politics to the point where a lot of young
people who grew up during "The West Wing" heyday, and got interested in
politics, perhaps staff politics like I was in. Do you know that?
SORKIN: You know, I --
MATTHEWS: You romanced it to the point where people said I want to be one
of the truth tellers in journalism now I think because of "The Newsroom"
and producers and the fights we have here about trying to get to the truth,
with some attitude, obviously, but the truth.
SORKIN: Yes, I`ve heard that, but it makes me so happy when hear it,
because people are into public service.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and how does journalism fit into public service?
SORKIN: I think journalism is a public service, and I think that it`s a
Listen, I want to be clear, when -- I`m no more an expert on journalism
than I am -- you know, I wrote the movie "Moneyball." I`m not an expert on
how a small-market team can make it to a World Series, either.
Writing a show that takes place -- the difference between writing a show
that takes place in a newsroom and working in it is the same as the
difference between drawing a building and building a building, which is to
say they`re almost unrelated. My -- all of my training, education and
background has been in playwriting, and not in journalism, not in politics,
not in baseball, not in military law, and I -- I -- I`ll have a number of
consultants who kind of feed me phonetically sometimes the things that I
need to know.
MATTHEWS: I think you get pretty close to what we do. But let`s look at a
clip. Two weeks ago, it involves one of your actors, Thomas Matthews.
SORKIN: One of our finest actors, certainly one of our most handsome
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look. This was from an episode earlier the
season. The news night staff almost gets bamboozled by prank callers
trying to get on the air, claiming one of them is under the rubble of a
bombed-out hotel in Syria. Take a look at what happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re all set. We wanted to wait for a commercial
break. But --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aliman Samir Kuri (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Kuri?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is me. I am here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Kuri, are you there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here. This is coming from my husband, will you
put this call on television?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here`s the thing, guys. Syrians don`t commonly say
thank God, nobody named Kuri is registered at the W. And when that
building came down, it took the cell tower with it.
Are you still with me?
Stewart? We have software that unblocks phone number and that`s why your
super is knocking on the door with a police officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Block, open the door, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baba Bowie (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, we take care of old family business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, you got prank and you got even.
SORKIN: Yes, but I also want to say that actor, Thomas Matthews, it took
us quite a while to get the information out of him that his father was a
very well-known political pundit.
MATTHEWS: Well, he owes his looks to his mama.
SORKIN: Don`t we all?
But he got that part on his own, he came in and auditioned, and he`s great,
and he`s a great team player, you know, football players talk about being
great in the huddle. He`s great in the huddle.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. And good luck with the show. Everybody
SORKIN: I appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: "Newsroom" on Sunday nights on HBO. And thanks for coming in
SORKIN: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Aaron Sorkin.
MATTHEWS: By the way, "Mother Jones" did withdraw that "sucks" headline.
Anyway, when we return, let me finish with 50th anniversary of one of the
two greatest speeches in American history.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me end tonight with these words about the King speech.
Of all the words spoken by millions of Americans over the years only a
small number are remembered.
"Give me liberty or give me death." "I only regret I have but one life to
give for my country." "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
And high among them are the words spoken 50 years ago next week: the King
What`s always gotten to me is the finale: What came at the end, that
powerful bringing-together of the cause of civil rights with the very land
on which this country sits -- this grounding of the God-given rights for
the sons and daughters of former slaves to the earth on which this country
stands and lives.
"So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let
freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from
the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the
curvaceous slopes of California."
But not only that, how I love that line. But not only that: "Let freedom
ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout
Mountain in Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of
Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring."
There is, in the scope and grandeur and fragrance of those words -- the
very picture of this land -- and in these indelible words this remarkable
man managed to raise up civil rights as American rights, as American as the
land God gave us.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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