October 21, 2013
Guest: Matt Kibbe, Michael Tomasky, Aneesh Chopra
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Cruz out of control.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in children.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. It`s a little weird, but is Chicago part
of America? Is Philadelphia, my hometown, where I`m going to address the
National Constitution Center tomorrow -- is Philly part of America? Is LA?
Is San Francisco? Is Austin, Texas?
The reason I`m asking this stupid question is because this partisan
gunslinger, Ted Cruz, is out there today defining who is and who isn`t an
American. Remember Michele Bachmann asking the press on this show to
conduct a person-to-person investigation of who in the U.S. Congress is
anti-American? Well, Cruz is worse.
The same senator who suggested the nominee for defense secretary was taking
money from the communists in North Korea now decrees what part of this
country are in and which parts are out, which parts are American and which
parts aren`t. This is McCarthyism writ large. Disagree with this guy, and
be prepared for the accusations.
We are witnessing, I think, the greatest challenge to progressives, to
moderates and reasonable conservatives in modern memory. It`s an
indictment against the great majority of Americans. To compromise, he
says, is bad. To support the law, he says, is wrong. To oppose his brand
of right-wing politics is to stand accused by him of being un-American.
Cruz returned to his supporters this weekend, where he got shouts of
approval Saturday night from his most fervent backers. Here he is, drawing
the line between them and his following senators, and by the way, all the
people represented in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Having spent the past month up in D.C., it is
really great to be back in America!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman`s editorial director of the HuffingtonPost and
David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Both are, of
course, MSNBC political analysts.
Howard, this isn`t a casual reference. This, We`re Americans, we white
people out here in Texas, as opposed to people who live in the big cities,
the ethnics, the blacks, the browns. Those people in Washington, those
liberals, they`re not Americans.
This guy either has a total lack of understanding of American history and
the hell we went through in the McCarthy period or he knows it damn well
and is playing that card. What do you think it is, knowledge or ignorance?
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No,
no. I think -- I think he knows what -- I think he knows exactly what he`s
doing. I think he knows what landmines he`s stepping on, and I think he
wants to step on them because his basic appeal is emotional. It`s
basically "us against them."
And of course, it`s highly ironic that he was speaking in the only state in
the union, I think, that has an active secessionist movement going on --
FINEMAN: -- namely Texas. You know, a lot of people in Texas don`t
think they`re part of America and don`t want to be part of America. So
there`s a sort of emotional rejection going on of the rest of the country.
It`s part of Texas tradition, in a way, only he takes it to an extreme. In
the old days, Texans said, We`re America, only moreso. He`s saying, you
know, Washington is not American, only we are.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m scared, David, by the -- David Corn, by the cheers he
got. So he obviously speaks for a faction of Americans. But my same
question to you. Remember how Agnew -- he wasn`t the smartest guy in the
world, and he would use words like -- phrases like, He`s squishy soft on
communism. Then had to be told that was McCarthyism, You shouldn`t talk
Does this guy know what he`s talking like?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he knows
exactly what crowd he`s playing to, and more importantly, why he`s playing
to this crowd.
We`ve talked about this before, Chris. I think there`s been a political
cultural war going on in this country. I think the election of Barack
Obama exacerbated those tensions and made the people on the other side more
paranoid, more upset about what they saw, losing American. You can say
there`s a racial element or not. There`s certainly a strong cultural
And he`s not just trying to lead the Tea Party effort, he`s trying to lead
this sort of cultural crusade against the rest of America. The last time
we saw someone try to do this, at a much smaller level, was our pal, Pat
Buchanan, in the 1996 GOP primary.
MATTHEWS: He had the speech in Houston, yes.
CORN: I mean, Ted Cruz has a much bigger platform. In fact --
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s his goal?
CORN: Sorry for Pat, but he`s better at doing this.
MATTHEWS: Well, Pat was a loud speaker about his -- you know, his support
for old values and all that, and tribalism, I think. But let me ask you
this about -- somebody lightly says the guy`s running for president. I`m
not sure it`s as simple as that. I think he`s calling for a kind of an
insurrection here, a political insurrection, within the law, of course, but
some kind of loud, you know, Father Coughlan, Huey Long kind of right-wing
FINEMAN: Well, no, Chris -- Chris --
MATTHEWS: -- thing. What is it?
FINEMAN: Chris, you have to understand where he`s coming from. He`s
coming from a deeply cultural and religious place, where his people believe
that the federal government is an imposition, that it should have no
control over family life, over commerce, and so forth.
FINEMAN: And also, he operates on the basis of division. He believes that
the more division there is, the greater tumult there is and the greater
chance there is for a charismatic figure such as Ted Cruz to sort of be the
magic figure that comes in --
MATTHEWS: I agree, the man on the white horse.
FINEMAN: The man on the white horse who comes in. So it`s his plan to sow
FINEMAN: He`s not interested in accommodation. That`s not part of his
MATTHEWS: And I`m not sure he`s interested in the White House because I
can`t believe he believes he`ll ever get 270 electoral votes for his brand
of right-wingism. Anyway --
FINEMAN: I disagree.
CORN: I disagree.
MATTHEWS: OK, I thought you would. I`m always the odd man out.
CORN: You know, his dad is an evangelical preacher who has said repeatedly
that, My son is destined, destined for greatness. I think, you know, in
the last couple weeks, we have seen Ted Cruz leapfrog over Rand Paul in
terms of who has the -- you know, the best, you know, sale now for the far
right of the Republican Party, which is where all the action is, and it`s
where a lot of the votes are going to be in 2016. So I think he really is
looking to be a national leader.
I don`t know why you want to be a national leader if you`re in elected
office unless you also are eying the White House.
FINEMAN: He has no doubts. I can say this --
MATTHEWS: Well, if he ever did --
FINEMAN: -- Chris, having watched him, he has no --
FINEMAN: -- doubts about wanting to be a national leader.
MATTHEWS: That`s strange because even if he got elected president, he`s
never going to be elected. (sic) There`s still a two-party system. We`re
never going to be a one-party state. So you still need compromise. I keep
teaching that --
MATTHEWS: -- wherever I go in this country. Compromise is American.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let`s take a look at this. If you`ve listened to Cruz over
the last few weeks, you`ve noticed his rhetoric has remained the same.
He`s defending the American people against the train wreck which is "Obama
care." Let`s watch the guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: I would do anything and I will continue to do anything I can to stop
the train wreck that is "Obama care."
We`re going to stand against the train wreck that is "Obama care"!
Stop this train wreck of a law!
There is so much widespread agreement that this thing is a train wreck.
I think our focus should not be on D.C. politics. It should be on the
people who are getting hurt.
My ire is focused on "Obama care" because it`s not working and it`s hurting
the American people.
This fight was always about the American people, who are hurting because of
The deal that was reached last week was a lousy deal. It was a classic
example of the Washington establishment selling the American people down
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Cruz says he`s looking out for the American people. You
heard him there. But take a look at his record in office. It points to
other motivations. Look at his record. Cruz is trying to be the leader of
the anti-Obama movement, not just "Obama care."
In his short tenure, he voted no on the continuing resolution to fund the
government. He was one of only 18 senators to do so. He voted no on the
bipartisan immigration bill that was supported by people like John McCain
and Marco Rubio. And that bill passed the Senate with 68 votes, pretty --
pretty dominating there.
He voted no on the farm bill that included funding for food stamps. He
opposed the confirmation of the president`s nominee to head the CIA, John
Brennan. He did the same for Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to head the
Pentagon. He opposed Jack Lew with the Treasury. And he was one of only
three senators to vote against John Kerry to head the State Department.
Howard, I am convinced -- well, this is a hard one to say. If Caroline
Kennedy -- if her nomination was confirmed by the Senate for going to
Japan, I wonder if they`d had an actual roll call, where he would have
voted, this guy. He just wants to be on the record as being anti-Barack
FINEMAN: Yes. I would --
MATTHEWS: I think he`s got a body suit on. He`s pretending it`s all about
protecting the harm caused by "Obama care," all those crocodile tears.
He`s in there on an assault mission to put the dynamite under the tracks,
causing the train wreck. He`s not there to cry about its failures, he`s
there to destroy Obama.
That seems to be -- look at his eyes. Are those the eyes of a guy looking
out for regular people or the eyes of a guy going into a dite (ph), to
hurt? That`s what he`s up to.
FINEMAN: Well, look, Chris, I`ll take a flier and suggest that if there
were a roll call vote, he would have voted against Caroline Kennedy.
But he`s pursuing two tracks here. One is, he`s appealing to the emotional
heart of the base of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, for
whom the very name Obama is anathema. These are people who have a deep-
seated fear and loathing of the president.
So you combine the word Obama with "Obama care," which is unpopular with
that part of the party, and he`s going to continue to push this. And even
though he`s running hot, even though it doesn`t seem like he could run at
this pace for two or three years, he`s making a bet that "Obama care"
itself will continue to be enough of a problem that somehow, he will emerge
If he has a logic to his politics, as opposed to his emotion, that`s it.
CORN: Chris, as we`ve seen already in just the last week or two, a lot of
folks who even benefit from "Obama care" on the right still hate it because
they hate the idea of it, not even -- they don`t even have to come to a
conclusion about the realities.
I mean, if you look at Texas, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured
Americans in the country, 3.5 million Texans don`t get insurance. Already,
270,000 Texans under the age of 26 have benefited. We have 206,000 elderly
Texans who have saved $680 a year because of Medicare.
This is obviously not about the details. It`s not a train wreck for
millions of Texans.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
CORN: And yet he keeps saying that over and over again because even people
who -- who are benefiting -- I`m sure there are a lot of Medicare
recipients down there who`ve saved hundreds of dollars who still think
Obama is a socialist Muslim, and they hate him.
MATTHEWS: I know. I got you.
CORN: And "Obama care."
MATTHEWS: I got you. Cruz, by the way, presents himself as ultimate
outsider. He frequently attacks the leaders of his own party, of course.
Here`s what he said on CNN. Here`s what he said on CNN. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: The people I work for are the men and women you just saw. I work
for 26 million Texans. That`s my job, to fight for them. I don`t work for
the party bosses in Washington. I work for the people of Texas, and I
fight for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINEMAN: That`s --
MATTHEWS: Well, Howard, again, he just keeps going on about this fighting.
The word "fight" seems to be his favorite word.
FINEMAN: OK --
MATTHEWS: I have heard the word "fight" so many times from this right-wing
MATTHEWS: They don`t seem to have a goal.
FINEMAN: No, they --
MATTHEWS: They don`t have an alternative health care plan. They have no
policy plans for any of the problems facing America. What they like is the
fight. Maybe this is back to what David said, just be seen as angry as the
average right-winger is against Obama, and you score.
FINEMAN: Yes. By the way -- by the way, Chris, I think he has a
fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be a United States senator.
Yes, you represent your state, but you`re a member of a body that helps to
lead the entire nation. So it just is an example of the kind of angry,
divisive politics you`re talking about.
CORN: And it`s -- I think he has a warped view of reality, too. I think a
lot of the Tea Partiers do. There are 10 million Texans alone who have
some degree of a pre-existing condition. So when he gets out there and
says, I`m fighting for 26 million Texans, a lot of Texans he`s actually
fighting against, people who are benefiting or will benefit from "Obama
But yet he goes on -- as he said last week, premiums across the country are
going up for everybody. It`s just not true. You know, you can make policy
arguments, libertarian arguments, Ayn Rand-type arguments against "Obama
care" on ideological grounds, and we`ll see how well things work a year
from now, six months from now. But he`s out there with rhetoric that is
just -- has no basis in reality. And for his side, it doesn`t matter.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think you`re all right. I think the evangelical piece
of this -- I have no idea of his religious beliefs, but his political
beliefs are clear. He`s basically an evangelical figure in a secular
sense, challenging everything that`s going on in America, and saying, I`m
railing against it on behalf of the people back in Texas.
It was very interesting you point out the fact that he doesn`t see himself
as a U.S. Senator but a Texas senator.
FINEMAN: Yes. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. And by the way, the right wing of Texas. Anyway,
thank you, Howard Fineman and David Corn.
Coming up: Is the Tea Party a Roman candle about to burn itself out, or is
it more like the flesh-eating virus that`s about to take over the GOP?
There`s a mixed metaphor. It looks as if it`s going to take a civil war in
the Republican Party to get to the answer, and I think that`s already
Also, President Obama acknowledges what everyone knows, that the health
care rollout has been a failure so far, but he says the Affordable Care Act
is more than a Web site and accuses some of rooting for its failure.
Plus, Chris Christie drops his legal challenge to same-sex marriages.
That`s going to be interesting. That will be popular in New Jersey, but
how might it play in those conservative primary voter states like out in
And we`ll get a never before heard Nixon White House recording of Henry
Kissinger telling Nixon about his latest offers in (ph) the Soviet Union.
They were not about nuclear arms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD M. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where the hell do you
think Kissinger was this weekend, when I was trying to call him?
ROSEMARY WOODS, NIXON`S SECRETARY: Probably out with some babe.
NIXON: Well, I`d hope so. I hope so.
WOODS: He probably was.
HENRY KISSINGER, SECRETARY OF STATE: I`ll tell you one thing, Mr.
President, it wasn`t through lack of offers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Just wait until you hear where those offers came from.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Here`s more evidence the government shutdown was bad for
Republicans. A new poll shows a majority of Americans want Democrats
running the U.S. Congress. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 54 percent now
say it`s bad for the country that Republicans control the House -- that`s
up 11 points since December -- 38 percent say it`s a good thing the
Republicans are in charge.
Well, that`s the first time since Republicans took control of the House
that the poll found a majority who say they`re bad for the country. What`s
more, three quarters of those polled say most Republican members of
Congress -- catch this -- don`t deserve to be reelected.
And we`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BROOKS, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: The question now is, Will the
Republican Party have a civil war over the nature of the party? And I
think we`re beginning to see rumblings of that. The problem is, to have a
civil war, you actually have to have two sides.
The Tea Party has a side. They have a political movement. They have a
think tank. They have a donor base. The other side, the Republicans who
want to be able to compete in California, in New York, along the East Coast
and in Illinois, they don`t have a side. They have American Crossroads, a
PAC. They have a cocktail party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was "New York Times" columnist
David Brooks yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS."
We`re seeing actually a civil war emerge in the Republican Party these
days, and the Tea Party wing is gaining the upper hand, as he put it.
Well, this morning, President Obama`s former speech writer John Favreau
wrote in the DailyBeast, that the Tea Party is the most destructive force
in American politics today.
Quote, "What makes the Tea Party dangerous is its members` willful
disregard the most basic tenets of American democracy. They do not believe
in the legitimacy of our president. They do not believe in the legitimacy
of decisions handed down by our Supreme Court. They have never, not once,
shown a willingness to compromise on anything. Merely uttering the word is
enough to draw a primary challenge."
The Favreau -- he argues that in the best interests of Republicans,
Democrats and independents alike, the Tea Party needs to be defeated.
Well, joining me right now is Matt Kibbe, CEO of the Tea Party groups
FreedomWorks, and the DailyBeast`s Michael Tomasky.
Matt Kibbe, your party has certainly gained the attention of the American
people. I would argue it`s not all good attention. I would argue that for
the first time in American politics that I can remember, the alternative to
the government in power has been on display.
We have seen the tactics of the Tea Party movement. We`ve seen the threat
of a government shutdown and the reality of it for more than two weeks. We
have watched the threat of a default on the national debt. We have watched
it all. We have watched the angry faces of people supporting that tactic.
I don`t think it`s been a good sales pitch. Do you?
MATT KIBBE, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, I think it`s difficult to be the guys that
come to Washington, D.C., and try to stop the bipartisan insanity of
borrowing so much money we don`t have, of moving ahead with a program that
nobody seems to think will work, and yet we`re going to fund it.
That`s where the Tea Party is. It`s not a political party, by the way.
This is a social movement based on a set of crazy ideas, like we shouldn`t
spend money we don`t have.
MATTHEWS: Why has it gotten such a bad blasting in the polls? Why -- you
read the polls. I guess you can deny them all, but everything I`ve read
said you guys don`t look that good. We don`t like what we see.
KIBBE: Yes, we`ve definitely been trashed in the polls. And I think -- I
think you`ve helped do that. I think a lot of --
MATTHEWS: But I don`t control the polls, Matt. You know that.
KIBBE: Oh, come on.
MATTHEWS: I can`t --
KIBBE: Come on.
MATTHEWS: No, no. I disagree. I disagree. Our influence here is -- is
probably marginal. We affect some people, perhaps, in their thinking,
But the idea that the main body of the American people is affected in its
thinking by one or two TV stations I think is wrong. I don`t think the
American people are moved that dramatically by an opinion I express. They
generally have their own thinking and they are independent in their
thinking, I think, don`t you? Don`t you think the American people are
independent in their thinking?
KIBBE: I agree with that, too. And there`s plenty of --
MATTHEWS: Well, then why do you accuse me of controlling the national
KIBBE: No, no. I say you`re one of many voices that don`t quite
understand why we have to do things differently in Washington, D.C. You
remember -- you should remember this --
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Let me ask you this.
What`s wrong with having a regular system of voting on spending bills,
where you vote for appropriations, or vote against them, you have the
president veto them, or not -- or sign them, you have a budget resolution
which guides spending and priorities and fiscal policies, you agree to it
This past year has been a disaster. There`s been no budget resolution
agreed to -- Cruz had something to do with the two budget committees not
even meeting -- the failure to pass appropriations on time, the failure to
have anything passed by October 1, and then the disastrous two or three
weeks of a government shutdown.
Do you think that`s good government?
KIBBE: No, I think it`s bad government.
MATTHEWS: Whose fault was it?
KIBBE: But I`m reminded that Tip O`Neill shut down the government 12
MATTHEWS: No, let`s not go into that. I know all that history. Please,
Matt, don`t go into it.
KIBBE: I know you know the history.
MATTHEWS: These are one or two times that didn`t even hardly made the
newspapers. They were not significant. They were not about the
fundamental question of -- nothing happened back in those -- I was there
the whole time, Matt. There was nothing like a government shutdown based
upon getting rid of a president`s primary accomplishment in office, which
was a direct shot at the person.
It was nothing as fundamental as this. Believe me on this. It was not
fundamental like this.
KIBBE: I thought Tip O`Neill used it to go after Star Wars? Wasn`t that
Reagan`s crowning achievement?
MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you. Matt, I`m going to be tell you something.
The average length of those shutdowns, if you want to call them that --
first of all, we passed appropriations in those days.
Let me give you some history, you want to get into this. We passed most of
the appropriations by October 1. A C.R., a continuing resolution, only
affected that part of government that had not been appropriated. That`s
nothing like today. Today, we don`t do any appropriations. We shut down
the entire -- it is a government shutdown, not several agencies, the U.S.
So it`s a totally different environment. You have to go back to 1994 to
`95 where you have a government shutdown with very few appropriations
passed, but nothing even like today, where everything gets shut down. It`s
different in content and it`s different in duration, certainly in duration.
It wasn`t until Newt came along that we shut down for 26 days.
And it`s certainly different in the fundamental quality of it, one party
against another fighting to the death like this. And you know that.
You`re probably very proud of the fact this is the most dramatic shutdown.
KIBBE: No. I agree with everything you just said about the dysfunction of
the budget process.
And I do think we need to start choosing priorities in Washington, D.C.
The question is, who`s willing to do it? And from my perspective --
MATTHEWS: Well, the Congress that`s been elected supposed to do it. And
they get elected to do it --
KIBBE: From my perspective -- from my perspective, the Tea Party has
actually brought a rational conversation. The only savings achieved
through the sequester came not because the Democrats wanted to do it, not
because the Republicans wanted to do it, but because the American people
insisted on it.
KIBBE: Thank God that somebody showed up in that fight, and it wasn`t
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Michael Tomasky.
I have a different point of view, because I think things could be solved by
negotiation. I saw it done with Social Security. I saw it done with tax
reform. It can be done. You don`t have to go to total war like this. But
I think Matt believes in total war. And I -- I get his message. He`s a
Your thoughts, Matt -- Michael.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, they all believe in total war.
And that`s why the graphic you showed with Corn and Fineman were on of Cruz
voting against everything, even only one of three to vote against John
Kerry, because you have to take an absolutist line on every possible issue.
And Matt Kibbe talks about spending. And I know that`s a Tea Party
priority, but he makes it sound so nice and anodyne and like we`re the only
sensible people here. and there are other aspects to the Tea Party, too,
Chris, as you know. And the Tea Party is fueled by a lot of antagonism, a
lot of cultural rage, a lot of inflexibility on a whole lot of issues.
And -- and people sense that. People see that.
TOMASKY: People know how they talk and feel about Obama. And that`s why
they`re at 21 percent in the polls.
MATTHEWS: This is really a fight on the right and center-right. Do you
think we should dump, as a country, Mitch McConnell, Thad Cochran, Lindsey
Graham, Lamar Alexander, and Pat Roberts as senators?
KIBBE: Oh, I do think we should upgrade from a lot of these Republicans
that haven`t done what it takes to get this done.
MATTHEWS: So, in other words, that`s nice language for let`s dump these
guys. You say upgrade. I don`t know what that means.
MATTHEWS: Does that mean get rid of them?
KIBBE: Well, we`re in the process of repopulating the Republican Party
with people that stand for something.
This same fight happened in `76.
MATTHEWS: Upgrading and repopulating, how`s that different than dumping?
KIBBE: The same thing happened when Ronald Reagan stepped onto the
national scene in 1976. The GOP establishment hated it.
KIBBE: Ronald Reagan became the new standard for what a Republican was.
MATTHEWS: And what`s the new standard now?
KIBBE: The new standard is the same values that elected the House in 2010.
Stop spending money we don`t have. Stop forcing people into a health care
system they don`t want. And start getting Washington out of our lives.
That`s our message. That`s what`s going to win in 2014.
MATTHEWS: And do you think that your party`s going to be taking -- the
movement of the Tea Party is going to take over the Republican Party? Is
that your goal?
KIBBE: That`s absolutely our goal.
MATTHEWS: And when do you think you will achieve that goal of takeover,
when it will be the Tea Party-controlled Republican Party, rather than the
old Republican Party of the establishment? When will that happen?
KIBBE: Oh, I think it`s a process. I think it probably happens by 2014,
because we`re trying to shift the center of gravity.
And I`m all for more moderate Republicans in blue states and purple states.
But, in South Carolina, we should have a hard-core constitutional
conservative that doesn`t want to spend money we don`t have.
MATTHEWS: OK. You want to dump Lindsey Graham.
Let me go back to Michael Tomasky, who covers this.
Michael, this is a direct statement -- I haven`t heard this put so clearly
-- of a direct attempt to dump all moderate Republicans from red states,
get rid of anybody sort of a mainstream conservative like Lindsey Graham
and replace them all with Tea Parties, only allowing moderates, as Matt
said so beautifully, in states like New Jersey.
They will allow a Chris Christie to be governor of New Jersey. But he
better not show his face anywhere in the South or in the conservative Rocky
TOMASKY: Yes, but it`s delusional also.
I mean, they`re not going to elect any -- any Republicans in states like
New York and California. You remember, Chris, it was only 15, 20 years ago
that the Republican Party was competitive to dominant in California.
But it`s dead. It`s dead because it`s gone so far right. And it`s going
to stay dead in states like California and New York. So all they`re going
to do is play in these deep red states.
TOMASKY: And they`re going to erect more and more radical and extreme
people. And that`s all they are going to have.
KIBBE: Fine with me.
MATTHEWS: Matt, last question to you. What`s more important to you
personally, the takeover of the Republican Party by the Tea Party or
Republican victory in the presidential election of 2016? What`s more
important to you?
KIBBE: I think they`re the same. I think establishment Republicans have
been losing presidential contests for most of my life.
MATTHEWS: But, if you had to choose between taking over the party and
winning the general election, would you rather take over the party and lose
now and win later?
KIBBE: It`s a false choice. I don`t think -- I don`t think another
version of Bob Dole is going to win in 2016.
MATTHEWS: Who`s the last great candidate you have had in your party you
KIBBE: The last great candidate? It`s going to be someone like Ted Cruz
or Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: No, who was the last one you accept as a leader of the Tea Party
movement in the United States government?
KIBBE: Oh. Ronald Reagan.
MATTHEWS: Who is the last president?
KIBBE: Ronald Reagan.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Thank you very much.
TOMASKY: Big spender.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Matt Kibbe.
And thank you, Michael Tomasky, both of you.
Up next: a never-before-heard recording from Nixon -- from the Nixon White
House tapes and an offer for the Soviet Union Henry Kissinger could refuse.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, ACTRESS: But enough politics. We are here tonight to celebrate
the first lady of American comedy, Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, time now for the "Sideshow."
That was of course Tina Fey taking a shot at Senator Ted Cruz last night at
an event honoring Carol Burnett at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Next up, it was 40 years ago this week that embattled former President
Richard Nixon agreed to turn over audio recordings of his White House
conversations to Watergate investigators. But while the Nixon tapes are in
the public record, no historian has listened to and transcribed more of the
almost 4,000 total hours than Texas A&M professor and author Luke Nichter.
Now he and bestselling author Douglas Brinkley have teamed up to write the
definitive book on the Nixon tapes. In his research, Luke has found some
gems that have been hiding in plain sight for years. And he shared one of
Nixon`s lightheaded conversations exclusively with HARDBALL.
Here now is Richard Nixon with his secretary, Rose Mary Woods, speaking
about Henry Kissinger`s recent trip to the Soviet Union. Let`s just say
the conversation was about Russian hospitality. Take a look.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where the hell do you think
Kissinger was over the weekend when I was trying to call him?
ROSE MARY WOODS, PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARY: Probably out with some --
NIXON: Well, I hope so. I hope so.
WOODS: He probably was.
HENRY KISSINGER, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I will tell you one thing, Mr.
President. It wasn`t through lack of offers.
WOODS: Oh, my word. Are you modest, Henry.
KISSINGER: No. No. It`s nothing to do with modesty. The head of their
state security, General Antonov, greeted me at the airport and said he had
a whole batch of girls, all 25 years and younger.
Then I said I wanted to take a swim. So, again, they said -- they asked,
do I want masseuses?
NIXON: Masseuses? They use those for that purpose?
KISSINGER: Yes. Oh, God. And they said any hair color I wanted, and they
did it --
NIXON: Jesus Christ. Oh!
KISSINGER: It was so revolting.
NIXON: It takes all the fun out of it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to say, except too much information about
Nixon and Kissinger.
Up next: President Obama admits the online rollout of the Affordable Care
Act has been rocky. So what`s it going to take to fix it? That`s the big
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I`m Milissa Rehberger.
A teacher shot and killed by a student at a Nevada middle school is
identified at Michael Landsberry. Two other students were shot and are in
the hospital. The suspected gunman died at the school.
Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Paris the U.S. is reviewing
how it gathers intelligence. He was responding to a report that the NSA
collected millions of French telephone records.
And an Ohio panel approved more than $2 billion to expand its Medicaid
program under the health care law -- back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The problem has been that
the Web site that`s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the
insurance is not working the way it should for everybody.
There`s no sugarcoating it. The Web site has been too slow. People have
been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it`s fair
to say that nobody`s more frustrated by that than I am. Nobody`s madder
than me about the fact that the Web site isn`t working as well as it
should, which means it`s going to get fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was of course President Obama earlier today acknowledging in no
uncertain terms that the rollout of his signature policy achievement,
Obamacare, has not lived up to expectations. As you heard him there, the
president has vowed to fix the problems, which are daunting.
"The New York Times" reports that the issues plaguing the law`s rollout --
or actually enrollment Web site are more than just a few bugs. Here`s why.
The error messages and registration issues may be masking deeper systems
problems. Some insurers have been receiving incorrect enrollment
Contractors are worried that the system may be weeks away from operating
smoothly. And get this. An astonishing five million lines of code may
need to be rewritten.
A recent report from "USA Today" summed it up like this -- quote -- "The
federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that
may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the
eventual overhaul of the entire system, according to technology experts."
My question tonight, what can be done to fix this situation?
Aneesh Chopra was the White House chief technology officer from 2009
through 2012. He served as a key policy adviser to the president when the
Affordable Care Act systems were designed. And The Washington Post`s Ezra
Klein is a smart fellow on most things economic. He`s an MSNBC policy
I want you both, gentlemen, to be positive. We have only got a few minutes
here. Help the viewer and help consumer at the same time.
Aneesh, what can be done to improve what`s wrong?
ANEESH CHOPRA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER: Well, first
and foremost, it`s important to understand that there are plenty of ways to
access the affordable plans besides the Web site.
And you saw the president outline a number of those options, including
talking to people in person, as well as over the phone. The good news is
that I believe the steps that are in challenge right now, that is, in
setting up the account and carrying you through the online marketplace,
there is a team of people that are diagnosing and creating a punch list of
They`re going to work through them in the coming days and weeks and they
will get them resolved. So, long before January 1, when those plans kick
in, hopefully, this will be a footnote in the experience for our consumers.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Ezra.
The idea, the concept of providing a market-based solution to our health
care challenge, which is all these people who work for a living but don`t
have health care, is there something faulty in that concept?
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No.
That`s what`s so deeply frustrating about the -- so far the failure of the
Web site. This is a concept that could work. Number one, the Medicaid
expansion, by the way, in the plan is going fine. In the states that have
chosen to expand Medicaid, they`re having no problems --
MATTHEWS: Which means increasing -- and lowering the standard for getting
KLEIN: Right. It goes up to 133 percent of poverty.
MATTHEWS: You can get it if you make a bit more money than you did before.
KLEIN: Yes, exactly.
CHOPRA: Right. Right.
KLEIN: And so that`s an existing sort of government-run single-payer
insurer. And they`re having no problem expanding that.
The broader concept about how you have a sort of competitive marketplace in
insurers competing against each other and the government helping folks who
can`t afford it buy private insurance, this thing that was in Romneycare
and in old Senate Republican plans and later adopted by Obama and the
Democrats, that has also worked.
You see it working in Massachusetts. But you also see exchanges that were
run by the states working in California, in Washington, in Kentucky. So
this can work. And, eventually, the federal exchange will work. So the --
the model can be done. The question is simply how quickly they get it fixed
and if they get it fixed in time to get those kind of young healthy people
in order to keep premiums low in year two?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, that`s let me go to Aneesh.
Suppose you`re 25 years old right now, you`re skeptical and not really
happy about being told you need health care because you feel fit as a
fiddle. And you may drive a car, but you`re basically living a safe life
and you wonder why you have to do more than buy liability on your car
insurance. That person is at risk here.
If that person tries a couple of times to hook into the Web site and
doesn`t get to, they might walk away saying I did my bit. It`s their
ANEESH CHOPRA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF TECH OFFICER: Chris, I actually
disagree with the premise.
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.
CHOPRA: I think what they`re going to find -- when they get to the site,
what they`re going to see is the prices that they`ll ultimately pay for
this very important service are actually affordable and accessible to them.
They`ll deal with the short-term set of glitches to make it through to take
advantage of these.
MATTHEWS: So, what`s the beef?
CHOPRA: I think it`s a pretty good deal.
MATTHEWS: Well, the beef is obviously the systems aren`t working t take
you all the way to the end. But listen, if I`m told that I can save 15
percent, 20 percent on what otherwise would be available to me in the
market, to get me something that I haven`t had before but I know will keep
me protected as I make decisions for my life in terms of jobs, that is a
huge burden to lift on their shoulders. I`ll take a few bumps in the road
to get there.
Remember glitches like this happen even in the private sector. I`m a
United Airlines customer. And when United and Continental merged, it took
them months to get the --
MATTHEWS: Let`s imagine you`re president of the United States right now,
you know him personally. You`ve worked with the president. What`s he
doing right now to get this thing online faster? Because he knows the
deadline is you want to make sure these -- as many young and healthy people
get aboard as possible. What`s he yelling into the phone?
I know he`s no drama, Obama. But what is he concerned about that if he
were the yelling kind of guy, he`d be yelling about?
CHOPRA: Well, number one, he wants an accurate diagnosis of the problem
without any spin. He wants the best people inside and outside of
government to come in and help address those problems. And he wants to
make sure that every creative alternative is available so that we can solve
these issues moving forward.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Ezra, who has no contacts at all with the White
House, present, past, or future.
Is the president like of a baseball team, just to make a very simple
comparison, is losing, they have to get rid of the manager because that`s
what they do. You`re looking outside, the owner is looking around. The
general manager is looking around.
Are they looking around for some person from Silicon Valley or some genius
Steve Jobs type person who in applications kind of person who they know can
fix the problem within days if not hours? Are they looking around for
someone like that?
KLEIN: So they`ve got a huge group of these people. They won`t tell me
who they are. They say maybe later.
But they call them the tech surge. They brought in a bunch of people.
Some from inside government led by the White House CTO, which is Aneesh`s
old job, guy named Todd Park, very, very bright guy. Has his group of
presidential innovation fellows. And they`re very effective. They`re on
But they also have a lot of people from outside. Folks from Silicon
Valley, folks from insurers who are very, very strong tech people. But it
should be said, this isn`t a thing where somebody can just come in in a day
or a couple of days just because they`re real smart and redo it. It is
such an incredible massive code.
According to "The New York Times", you`re dealing with 500 million lines of
code, at least 5 million of which are compromised, that you really do need
to some of the people who have experience in these areas and get up to
speed on it quickly. So, they are bringing outside folks, but it isn`t
just really smart people they need. They need people who have experience
on these kinds of interoperating systems. And that is who they`re looking
MATTHEWS: Aneesh, last question to you. What are you -- I know, you`re an
advocate and so am I. I don`t know the details, as you do. What do you
worry about? Give me an honest answer. What do you worry about that`s
really existential here to worry about in terms of us getting health care
for the country?
CHOPRA: Well, the absolute concern is too many young people don`t sign up.
And we see an adjustment to the risk pools for next year which take us in
the wrong direction on prices. I think we`ve got to do all hands on deck
to get the enrollment to where they need to be so that we actually can
deliver on the long-term savings that the Affordable Care Act has already
demonstrated in its first year, and I hope will carry forward in the next
MATTHEWS: And everybody understands that. It`s called shared risk. It`s
called shared pooling of your resources and your health problems so that
the people that are less healthy and older are sharing their risk --
CHOPRA: We win together. We win together.
MATTHEWS: Otherwise we lose together. You can`t just insure the people
with bad health challenges. That`s not insurance, that`s maintenance.
CHOPRA: Yes, sir.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Aneesh Chopra. Thank you.
And, thank you, Ezra, as always. I mean it about your brains.
Anyway, up next, same-sex marriage is now legal in New Jersey. But that
puts Chris Christie kind of in the middle of this issue between wanting to
be president and wanting to be the governor of New Jersey. Fascinating
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Chris Christie may be caught in the middle between the politics
of his state and the politics of his party.
HARDBALL coming back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie standing down in his fight against same-
sex marriage after the state Supreme Court voted unanimously this Friday to
uphold a lower court`s ruling in favor of marriage equality. Christie who
had attempted to stay and appeal that earlier ruling says he will cooperate
with the order and dropped his appeal today.
Well, the turn events came just days after Christie defended his
conservative position in a debate against Democratic challenger for
governor, Barbara Buono.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. BARBARA BUONO (D), NEW JERSEY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The
governor is consistent. He`s consistently aligned his views with, oh, I
don`t know -- his social views in line with Sarah Palin, the Iowa
Republican caucus, but certainly not in line with New Jerseyians.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: If my children came to me and said
that they were gay, I would grab them and hug them and tell them I loved
them. But what I would so tell them is that dad believes that marriage is
between one man and one woman. And that`s my position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the marriage debate is proving to be a difficult balancing
act for a Republican governor from a blue state, especially if he`s angling
to run for president in 2016. Just look at how these numbers break down.
Our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll found that 53 percent of Americans
altogether say they support same-sex marriage, but among Republicans, the
folks who actually will be choosing the party`s nominee, just 27 percent
say they`re in favor, big differential there. While Christie can say he
took a stand against gay marriage, that might not be enough for some social
conservatives who see the governor as capitulating.
Just look at how Matt Drudge portrait, quote, today, "Christie`s embraced
gay marriage in New Jersey."
Now, here now to discuss the politics of this moving forward is Steve
Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" and Joy Reid, managing
editor of "The Grio."
This is very hard in a country that`s balkanized so much culturally, you
could be in New York City on the west side, you could be out in Utah in the
rural areas and have very different notions of what America is culturally
on the issue of same-sex marriage or equality, as lots of people like to
say it now.
Steve, can you -- let me just put it this way, I think guns are a voting
issue in a big part of the country. I think abortion`s a big voting issue,
and it is, and it`s going to stay that way in a big part of the country,
conservative parts of Pennsylvania, for example. Abortion rights are
critical as a political issue.
I don`t know whether even three years from now, marriage equality`s going
to be a voting issue. What we mean by that is an issue on which people
vote. Plain and simple, that`s how I decide how to vote.
Do you think it`s going to remain an issue that could stop a Christie
STEVE KORNACKI, UP: I think it could still be an issue, but I think it`s
an issue that three years from now could cut both ways. I think it`s the
kind of issue where if you`re the Republican nominee in the general
election in 2016 --
MATTHEWS: No, let`s talk about the nomination.
KORNACKI: Well, OK, but I think that`s part of the calculus here, but if
you`re looking --
MATTHEWS: Oh, you think they`re thinking who`s electable? The party of
the Republicans is totally beyond that, Steve.
Let me talk to you about this. They are so angry as a party now, they
don`t think about who`s going to be the best candidate. They tried that
with Mitt Romney, tried that with John McCain.
Don`t you see them now going for a candidate that they like?
KORNACKI: Well, I think we`ve been saying the same thing in the run-up to
every Republican nomination since 1994, since the angry white male election
of 1994, when they went with Bob Dole in `96 and Bush in 2000, McCain in
`08 and Romney in 2012. The bet the Christie people are making is that
ultimately that`s going to prevail again in 2016.
MATTHEWS: I see.
KORNACKI: I think when I say general election, what I`m talking about here
is I think part of the 2016 pitch to Republicans that Chris Christie`s
going to be making is, I am the most -- of all of the Republican governors
in the country, none of them is in a state that was more Obama-friendly
than me, a 17-point Obama state in 2012, and I managed to get re-elected in
2013 by a huge margin there.
I think today, the move he`s making today is about shoring up and
protecting the big margin, you know, in two weeks in New Jersey so he can
go around carry that message to Republicans. I think this is the kind of
issue, wasn`t going to cost him the election in 2013, but this was the kind
of thing that could have shaved five points off for him and I think he`s
trying to protect those five points with this move today.
MATTHEWS: You know, there`s nothing more I like to see, Joy, my friend, is
a debate between Chris Christie who I like in many ways, because he reminds
me of the guys I grew up with -- big city, ethnic kind of guy, I went to
school with, Catholic guy. I get him. I get this guy. And none of your
business sounds like one of those guys, none of your business.
Him debating Ted Cruz would be heaven for me. I`d watch a three-hour
debate between those guys. And I`m telling you I`m not sure who would win
the nomination fight if they were done, if they could tag him with, oh,
you`re a cultural liberal, you`re part of the new breed of -- you think
like modern people. We don`t think like you.
JOY REID, THE GRIO: No, Chris, I totally agree with you, I think, more
than Steve on this. Because I think had there not been a John McCain, not
been a Mitt Romney and not been a George W. Bush, because remember, what
Bush`s genius was, if you want to use genius and George Bush in the same
sentence, I might get walked out of the building.
REID: But the genius of George W. Bush was he was able to have enough
credibility with the rock-ribbed conservative base to be able to move and
be sort of palatable to the business conservative. But right now, the
business wing of the party has three strikes. They elected George W. Bush,
who came in as a rock-ribbed conservative and in their opinion gave away
the store on spending. Then you had two losses with McCain and Romney,
both of whom the base ultimately said, OK, we`ll embrace him, give you guys
I think this time the base of the party is through with the establishment,
and Christie being the favorite of, let`s just face it, our business, of
the Northeastern media elite, hurts him. The National Organization for
Marriage came out and slammed him as having no courage, no convictions.
That part of the party is ascendant right now. The rock-ribbed base wants
somebody like them, and there are going to be other governors, there`s
going to be Perry out there, Scott Walker out there, people more
conservative than Christie. He`s going to have a tough time getting the
MATTHEWS: The one thing going for him, Steve, and I don`t know what`s
going to happen in three years, but one thing going for him, there`s only
one of him. Joy just went through the list.
I remember Jimmy Carter won because he was the only non-liberal running in
`76 and he stood out as a moderate and the country was dying for a
pragmatic moderate, didn`t want another Birch Bayh, another Mondale,
another guy like that.
KORNACKI: No, exactly. I mean, I`d say a couple things. One, first of
all, if you have a splintered right and then you have Chris Christie as
sort of, you say the word moderate, you used the term moderate, I don`t
know that that even applies to Chris Christie. That`s sort of his image in
the Republican world, that he`s a moderate, when you actually --
MATTHEWS: It means he`s not a horse`s ass is what it means.
KORNACKI: When you get down it, I think he`ll pass most of the litmus
MATTHEWS: But you know what? Being close to Obama and walking the beach
with him, they`re going to do to him what they did to Charlie Crist. You
Steve Kornacki, but I`m out of time. Thanks. We`ll have you back, Steve.
You`re great and you`re a smart guy.
Thank you, Joy, my pal.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my latest travels and what I`m
hearing out there.
I spent yesterday and today in Chicago, including a stop nearby North
Central College, hearing and answering questions from a range of folks,
suburban, city, moderate, liberal and, yes, even conservatives. Every one
of those people are Americans, as are the people I hope I`ll meet tomorrow
in Philadelphia when I discuss my book "Tip and the Gipper: When Politics
Worked", at the National Constitution Center, as are the people I worked
with in Washington, have worked with during my days with the San Francisco
newspapers, I have a message for them and everyone else worried about the
country getting so divided that Ted Cruz can define where America is in
this country and where it is not, and by stark implication, where the
people living there are not American.
As Willie Nelson says in his great song, "It`s not supposed to be that
way". You`re not supposed to point at someone or a part of the country and
say you`re not an American. If you want politics to work in this country
again, we need to have people stop the shouting about who`s in and who`s
out. That was tried in the early `50s, by the way, and it hurt the
American cause very badly, especially the anti-communist cause.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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