October 31, 2013
Guest: Jonathan Gruber, Gwen Moore, Bill Hughes, Jr., Vince Power
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: All in the family.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this, where the wild things are. If you`re
wondering where the wild things are, where the real right wing of the
country finds its home these days, look no further than the home of Rafael
What do we make of Cruz, Sr.`s, charge that the president should go back to
Kenya? Should we kiss it off as another crazy Texas birther comment, of
whom there are so many and we hear so much? Should we ignore the words of
Cruz, Sr., that the president of this country is a Marxist, that he`s a
second Fidel Castro?
Again, what are we to make of these charges by the man who serves as
surrogate for his Texas senator son? Is the father the end of this
thinking? Does it all stop with him, or is the surrogate closer to the
senator -- the father closer to the son than either will let us know? Does
it matter, or should we ignore the words of this man who is so close to the
country`s loudest, angriest voice of the far right?
MSNBC political analyst David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" magazine, and he broke today`s story today on Rafael Cruz, Sr. And
Wayne Slater is with "The Dallas Morning News."
Back in September, by the way, of last year, Rafael Cruz spoke to a Tea
Party group on behalf of his son, who was running for the Senate at the
time. He made the statement, the claim, if you will, about the president
of the United States, this one. Let`s Watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL CRUZ, TED CRUZ`S FATHER: We have our work cut out for us. We need
to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I`d like to send him back to Kenya,
back to Indonesia!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "Back to Kenya, back to Indonesia." According to the senior
Cruz, President Obama`s an outright Marxist. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL CRUZ: We have to unmask this man. This is a man that seeks to
despoil (ph), destroy all concept of God. And I`ll tell you what. This is
classical Marxist philosophy. Karl Marx very clearly said it. Marxism
requires that we destroy God because government must become God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Cruz`s office told "Mother Jones," quote, "Pastor
Cruz does not speak for the senator." But in fact, he often does as a
surrogate put out by his son. Rafael Cruz is more than just a senator`s
father. As the conservative "National Review" put it, Ted Cruz has used
him as a confidant, a stand-in, as I said, and a special envoy. He has,
quote, "sway in" his son`s inner circle that makes him a power broker. His
son trusts his father`s political instinct. He uses his father for the
kind of guidance you`d expect from a consultant.
As Ted Cruz himself boasted to the magazine, quote, "My dad poured himself
into my Senate race last year. In the early months, we didn`t have much of
a campaign. One day, I couldn`t make an event, so he drove out to west
Texas alone, no staffers, nothing, and he spoke on my behalf. A few hours
later, I called him and asked how it went. He said even surrogates for the
other candidates were asking for Cruz yard signs."
Well, that`s great father/son stuff. I`m all for that. I was lucky to
have a father somewhat like that in terms of faithfulness to me and me to
But let`s go to David Corn. Sir, this is about a political partnership.
This is about Bobby and Jack Kennedy, rather than Bobby -- rather than Jack
and Joseph Kennedy. This is about two guys out there selling it.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Rafael Cruz
represents in a lot of ways the far right of the Tea Party libertarian
economics and also the far right of Christian fundamentalism. And
throughout the piece that we put up on the site of "Mother Jones" today, we
quote him, videos, of saying some very, very extreme things both, you know,
religiously and just in terms of politics.
When he gets out there and says President Barack Obama wants to destroy all
concept of God, that he believes also that God -- that government is God,
these are very harsh things to say. Now, he`s saying this while
campaigning for his son, as a representative of his son.
So I think it`s a fair question to put to Senator Ted Cruz. Do you buy
this? Is this man really speaking for you? Does this somehow shape,
animate, influence your views as you become the leader of the Tea Party and
the far right here? And you know, that`s a question that he hasn`t
And today -- or yesterday, he told me all those remarks were -- his office
told me these remarks were taken out of context.
MATTHEWS: Like go back to Kenya.
CORN: I mean, I don`t know how you take those remarks out of context
because we put up the whole videos, as you just saw.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think context is the right question to use here. Wayne
Slater, this question. If this guy gets any further in terms of power on
the right wing -- we`re talking about Senator Cruz -- if he gets any higher
-- and he`s getting pretty high right now. He may be one of the two top
right-wingers in the country, along with Rand Paul. People will say, How
come we didn`t know this about his father?
So I think people ought to know about it. They`ll say, Well, it`s not fair
to talk about a family member. I think he`s more than a family member,
based upon what I`ve been seeing here. He`s out in the political arena
himself. He wasn`t dragged into the arena, like some family members are.
He wasn`t simply an embarrassing relative like Donald Nixon or Sam Houston
Johnson or Billy Carter. He went into the political arena. He chose to
have us listen to him, and now we are.
Your thoughts, Wayne. Who is he, and what role does he play?
WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Well, David`s got it exactly right.
Look, I`ve spent some time with Rafael Cruz, on the road with Ted Cruz. He
is very, very, very close to his son in every way that you can think, both
ideologically and obviously as a strong father supporting his son.
The father, when Ted was in high school in Houston, was instrumental in
making sure that Ted went to after-school classes that taught, basically,
Bircher philosophy, sort of Australian (sic) economics, Bircher philosophy
by a guy named Clausen (ph) and a number of other people.
And so Cruz, Rafael Cruz, has always held these views. He is very
influential with respect to the son. Now, look, you ask the son the
question, Do you buy this stuff? And the son easily, as politicians so
often say about a spouse or a relative, Look, he doesn`t speak directly for
me on these issues.
What`s most important about Rafael Cruz is that he speaks directly,
directly in a way that resonates to the constituencies that Ted Cruz wants
SLATER: Rafael Cruz has said these kinds of things in Tea Party groups
here. I`ve heard him in Iowa and elsewhere.
And let me tell you, you go away and talk to some of these pastors,
religious pastors and populist Tea Party folks on the right, and they`ll
say, What`s to disagree with?
MATTHEWS: This is exactly what Boehner does in the House. It`s exactly
what all people on the right now do. They have this rightist, far right of
right cotillion out there, this auxiliary out there. They use to it get
right, right, right. So they get the entire right wing. And if they get
into power, that`ll be part of their coalition, right?
CORN: Yes. Sure.
MATTHEWS: And they do it by always saying, Well, I`m not that far right,
but that guy`s an ally of mine.
CORN: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: I`m not going to mess with him. Boehner says it. All these
politicians say it now. They won`t disown the craziest of them because the
craziest of them is their engine.
CORN: Well, yes. It`s the tiger they want to ride into power. It`s the
tiger that John Boehner rode into power as speaker. It`s the tiger that I
think Ted Cruz wants to ride into power, at least in the Iowa primaries --
MATTHEWS: And those people jumping up and down and kicking their heels or
clicking their heels for Ted Cruz, the junior, are thinking, many of them,
like the father.
MATTHEWS: But they know you can`t say that in public.
CORN: Right, and you know --
MATTHEWS: Like Kenya.
CORN: And Wayne talked about Rafael Cruz`s standing with the Tea Party,
which is very strong. He`s also been featured by the Heritage Action group
and FreedomWorks. He`s becoming a right-wing star of his own.
But also, his sway is increasingly very strong within the evangelical
community, Christian reconstructionists, the Dominionists. We probably
don`t have time to go into all the theology here, but it`s very
interesting. You know, he --
MATTHEWS: How do these -- how do these --
CORN: Yes, can get into that.
MATTHEWS: What does it mean, Dominionist? What`s it mean to be a --
CORN: A Dominionist basically has a view of the world which is very, very
rigid and fundamental, that people can be kings and priests. A king is
someone who works in the secular world, a priest is someone who works in
the spiritual world, anointed by the church. And they take dominion over
every aspect of society -- economics, politics, education, so on. And so
they anoint people. Ted Cruz himself has been anointed by Dominionist
pastors. And it`s them basically saying --
MATTHEWS: So this is a Christian version of Sharia.
CORN: Well, it`s not a set of laws, but it`s basically saying these are
the people who are going to bring into power the kingdom of Christ. And
they basically talk about a theocracy without calling it such.
MATTHEWS: OK. Wayne, watch this and tell us what it means. At another
Tea Party rally this spring, Rafael Cruz -- that`s the senior Cruz --
called the United States a Christian nation. Let`s watch and see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL CRUZ: I submit to you that these two documents were signed on the
knees of the framers. These two documents are divine revelation from God.
And yet our president has the gall to tell us that this is not a Christian
nation. This was formed -- the United States of America was formed to
honor the word of God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And he had this to say about the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL CRUZ: If you have heard him recite the pledge, he skips "under
God." He never says those two words, "under God."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So the president, according to Cruz, Sr., never says the word
"under God" in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, in his alternative
universe that might be true, but in the fact-based world we all live in,
where there is such a things as videotape, for example, we know it`s not
Now, listen here to a 180 difference between nonsense and reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We pledge allegiance to the
flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it
stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for
-- and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God --
-- one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
We have been and always will be one nation under God, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So that recalls Grouch Marx. You going to believe me or your
lying eyes, Wayne. I`m believing my lying eyes here because I just heard
the president say "under God" three times. I`m sure it`s habitual with
I don`t know what the -- why does the other guy say stuff that`s so
demonstrably untrue? Are there people out there that don`t care about
truth and they just want to hear the gospel of the Cruz family? Why do
they want to be lied to? Because this is one of the rare cases I`ll use
the word "lie," when it just isn`t true and objectively isn`t true. It`s
not about opinion on analysis or point of view context. It`s not true.
He says "under God."
SLATER: Yes. Well, as the Romans said to Christ, what is truth? Truth is
in this case a much larger thing. Rafael Cruz, despite the obvious errors
here, the obvious lie or fact that it`s not true that Obama doesn`t use the
term "under God" -- Rafael Cruz is speaking to -- and Ted Cruz is speaking
to a larger area, a larger message, a larger narrative.
It is he`s speaking to grievance and anxiety. He`s speaking to people who
not only think they have lost or that the world is not -- that the country
is not holding its center, but who feel that they`ve been betrayed,
betrayed by their government, betrayed by a lot of other people.
MATTHEWS: I hear you.
SLATER: And so when he speaks in these ways, these are ways that resonate.
Chris, if I went today -- and I know David has done this -- back to Iowa,
northern Florida, and parts of South Carolina and asked Christians, even if
they just saw that clip, whether Obama has never used the words "under God"
when he recites the pledge, they will say absolutely.
They will believe it because it`s part of a larger sense, a fear to which
the person who presents absolutes, and that`s Ted Cruz, the person who
brings this in a theological and frankly Tea Party populist sense, and
that`s Rafael Cruz, is telling the truth.
MATTHEWS: I just want to say that this reminds me of what we always
believed about the Marxists, I mean, the real Moscow-based communists who
did it for a living, that they would say anything that they believed would
advance their cause. Truth to them was whatever advances the cause. It
sounds so much like the parallel to that, Wayne.
CORN: You know, what`s interesting, too, and Wayne sort of got at this, is
that Rafael Cruz really represents the full synthesis of the religious
right, which we talked about a lot during the `80s, and the Tea Party
right, which we`ve talked about the last few years. There`s a tremendous
And they both are factions based on grievance, feeling they`re not in the
mainstream. And these people are -- you know, he gives these speeches, he
goes to these mega-churches and talks about this stuff, and they say, Yes,
your son will deliver us. They mean it politically and spiritually.
MATTHEWS: Any by the way, connection between Benjamin Franklin, George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, oh, John Adams, James Madison and this crowd
is purely coincidental.
Anyway, thank you, David Corn, and thank you, Wayne Slater down in Texas.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, if you listen to the Republicans, you`ll surely
horror stories about people losing insurance because of the president`s
health care plan. Well, the only problem with most of those stories is
they aren`t true. Tonight, a reality check on all the willful
misinformation out there.
Plus Rand Paul digs himself even deeper. Rachel Maddow caught him
plagiarizing from Wikipedia, and his defense is to attack her and deny
something she never accused him of doing. Senator Paul, here`s some
advice. Shine a little light on your real problem, and then move on.
Also, want to know how angry voters are at Republicans for the shutdown?
Angry enough so that Democrats who weren`t going to challenge House
Republicans are now jumping into the races.
And there are few things more horrifying these days than Washington
dysfunction. So it should come as no surprise that Washington-themed
Halloween masks are a hot item tonight.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: More Republican obstructionism on display today. Senate
Republicans successfully blocked two Obama administration appointees.
U.S. Congressman Mel Watt of North Carolina was blocked from becoming the
next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt is the first sitting
member of Congress whose nomination has been defeated by a filibuster
since, get this, 1843. And the other appointee to be blocked by Patricia
Millett to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, unfortunately, there
are others that are so locked into the politics of this thing that they
won`t lift a finger to help their own people. And that`s leaving millions
of Americans uninsured unnecessarily.
That`s a shame because if they put as much energy into making this law work
as they do in attacking the law, Americans would be better off. Americans
would be better off!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now, I think that was the heart of
it. That was President Obama speaking yesterday at a health care rally up
in Massachusetts, the state, of course, made famous for its so-called
"Romney care," which was used as a blueprint for the Affordable Care Act of
As you heard there, the president is at war with Republicans who have made
it their sole mission these days and years to destroy the health care law.
While the ACA has certainly seen its share of glitches or problems, the GOP
has gone to great lengths to magnify and in many cases distort the real
Just look at the latest headline in today`s "Los Angeles Times." Quote,
"Another `Obama care` horror story debunked."
Well, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore`s a Democrat from Wisconsin, and
Jonathan Gruber is an MIT professor in economics. He was a key architect
of the Massachusetts health care overhaul. He also served as an adviser to
the White House and to Congress on the president`s health care plan.
Congresswoman, I want to start with you. I think somebody from Mars would
watch the Congress these days and say, What are those people so angry
about? Fighting like mad from the Republican side with all this anguish
and almost frightening anger.
And I get the feeling it`s not about whether the program is working or not.
What they are angry about, the Democrats and angry about the president and
angry about this health care program, is they don`t like the effort.
They`re angry that anybody tried to make sure that the four or five -- or
40 or 50 million people sitting, as working people, in the emergency room
looking for some health care are being taken care of or being thought (ph)
after. They don`t like that effort.
And that`s why they`re really angry, not that there are glitches. They
don`t like trying to do something for these people because they don`t want
to lift themselves up off their butts to do it. Your thoughts.
REP. GWEN MOORE, (D), WISCONSIN: Oh, Chris, absolutely. When you stop and
think about the Ryan budget, for example, we would have seen 14, 15 million
people thrown off Medicaid. There`s no secret that Republicans do not like
the notion of universal health care. And the Affordable Care Act is just
another iteration of that. We saw this happen with the rollout of Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Any of these so-called entitlements
Republicans have not liked. They want government to be the handmaiden of
business. They just don`t believe in the American people taking care of
MATTHEWS: When I listen to people like especially Ted Cruz, I hear every
word he speaks could just as well have been written in attacking Social
Security back in the mid-`30s, or early `30s, attacking Medicare in the
early `60s and Medicaid, the same lingo. This is government socialism.
This is Fidel Castro with an American accent.
Let me go -- let me go to Jonathan Gruber.
I have got -- I have heard great word about you, sir, and what you know.
And I want to go to that question to you. I know you`re an analyst and an
expert, but what is the anger about when you see these Republicans gnarling
away and snarling away at the secretary of health and education and welfare
the other day? What are they angry about?
JONATHAN GRUBER, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Chris, I can`t
pretend to read their minds.
But let`s look at the simple facts. The simple facts are that Obamacare is
built on Romneycare. And Romneycare is built on conservative notions
proposed by the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s to oppose the
Clinton health care reform.
Massachusetts Governor Romney adopted those ideas and made them the
centerpiece of his law. President Obama, despite the fact in the election
he was opposed to the mandate, recognized it was a system that had worked
well in Massachusetts, with us covering two-thirds of our uninsured
citizens. And it was broadly popular.
He, to his credit, changed his views, adopted the mandate. And once he put
his name to it, suddenly the right-wing disliked it. One key fact to keep
in mind, Chris, when Governor Romney signed this law in 2006, on the stage
with him was a speaker from the Heritage Foundation talking what a victory
-- about what a victory this was for conservative principles.
Suddenly it`s the devil`s work. I don`t see any argument, other than it`s
just ugly partisan politics.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me -- you start with this question. Among the
president`s problems are that he again and again said that if you have an
insurance policy -- and that meant most people thought they had a good
insurance policy or they wouldn`t have it -- felt they could be left alone,
those people who bought their insurance on their own, not through their
Now they`re being told by their insurance companies that those programs,
those policies aren`t going to exist anymore. What do you think was wrong,
if you did think anything was wrong, in the way the president said the idea
that you would be held harmless, you would be left alone with no paperwork
or whatever if you had a good policy?
GRUBER: I mean, Chris, the president probably should have made a somewhat
vaguer statement about in general you will be left alone, because, look,
the bottom line is 80 percent of Americans get insurance from their
employer or the government, and they`re not affected.
We`re talking about the small slice, maybe 5 to 6 percent of Americans, who
buy insurance on their own. And even within that small slice, most --
about half of those people will be able to simply replicate what they have
today. Maybe the name of the plan will be different, the deductible will
change a little bit, but they can just go out and buy pretty much what they
It`s a very small slice of Americans who will literally have to change
their insurance plan. And that`s largely because they`re in crappy
insurance that doesn`t really protect them against real financial risk, so
we`re asking them to buy real insurance.
MATTHEWS: So you can say it`s junk insurance they have, most of them, that
are having a problem today? They didn`t really have a good policy.
GRUBER: I don`t know if it`s most of them, but it`s -- yes, a large share
of them don`t have a good policy. Either it`s a policy that doesn`t cover
hospital care, a policy that doesn`t cover mental health, or a policy that
has a $15,000 deductible, which doesn`t protect them from bankruptcy.
MATTHEWS: Well, if that`s the case, it`s solid.
Let me go back to Congresswoman Moore.
You know, I noticed something in the paper today. I don`t like to get
ethnic all the time, but sometimes it seems relevant. Did you notice that
there`s a racial divide in the attitudes of people towards Obamacare? I
wouldn`t be surprised if part of that racial divide, without jumping to too
many conclusions, was based on it was called Obamacare. Your thoughts.
MOORE: Oh, absolutely.
I think that the first African-American president certainly has had a rough
time overcoming some of the racial stereotypes and prejudices that many
people have. But the reality is, Chris, that a great disproportionate
number of people who are going to benefit from the Affordable Care Act are,
in fact, African-Americans, because they are in the lower-income echelons
of our society.
So they`re going to benefit by the expansion of Medicaid and/or they`re
going to benefit by going into the exchange and the individual market
because they`re unemployed, they`re disproportionately unemployed, and
don`t have employer-based insurance, or they`re working for small
struggling businesses that can`t or haven`t insured them to this point.
And so there`s no question that African-Americans are going to enjoy a
great benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
MATTHEWS: I love it. I love these polls because they put the big lie to
the fact that the right wing always says, you know, African-Americans are
on welfare, they`re on the dole, they don`t want to work.
In fact, people who are on welfare are covered by Medicaid and have been
covered by Medicaid, the people at the bottom. It`s the working person
that gets up and catches the bus and goes to work 40, 50 hours a week that
will benefit from this. And they know it and the other side knows it and
doesn`t give a damn.
Let me go back to expert here, Jonathan Gruber.
Is -- when will we get to a point -- if you`re an optimist. And I hear you
are. What will be the month, hopefully the month when the victories scored
by the health care bill, the Affordable Care Act, outweigh the criticisms,
where people say, you know what, I think most Americans are happy with this
GRUBER: Chris, to be honest, I think that`s going to be well into 2014.
MATTHEWS: Next year.
GRUBER: We have to recognize the slow pace -- yes, well, into next year.
We have to recognize the slow pace of enrollment. In Massachusetts, it
took about a year for us to ramp up from when people could first pay for
premiums and sign up. That first month, 123 people signed up. By the end
of the year, it was 36,000. It`s going to take a while to ramp it up.
The key date to keep an eye on, Chris, is that date of March 31. That`s
the date by which people have to have insurance to avoid the individual
mandate penalty. I think once we get past that date and we have a lot of
people insured, people will start to recognize that the winners really
outweigh the losers.
But that`s only if we`re willing as a society to recognize the importance
of aggregates and not anecdotes.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
GRUBER: There`s always going to be anecdotes about people complaining
about this or losing in this dimension.
We have to recognize the winners are going to vastly outnumber the losers.
We can`t let the noise over the few losers swamp the gains by the enormous
number of winners.
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a reason why "Reader`s Digest" is popular, by the
way. Anecdotes do carry the day an awful lot. People are used to
Let me ask you a political question. The second Tuesday -- the first
Tuesday after the first Monday of November next year, which is Election
Day, will this thing be settled by then?
GRUBER: It depends what you define as settled.
GRUBER: Oh, I`m sorry.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congresswoman. You first, because you`re in the
MOORE: I think Democrats and Republicans are both at risk in November of
But right now, the public is more angry at Republicans for shutting the
government down. And to the extent that they have done it to prevent
people from getting health care is not inuring to their benefit. I mean,
as a Democrat, I`m hoping to really exploit the foolishness of Republicans,
and to demonstrate to the American people that they don`t deserve -- they
need to be de-selected for their lack of leadership and for their
unwillingness to bring a common commodity such as good health care to
MATTHEWS: It`s great having you on, Congresswoman.
MOORE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin and
Jonathan Gruber, who is a guy we`re going to have back on many times, I
Up next: What`s more frightening than a government shutdown? Well, how
about the scary political costumes that are hot this Halloween?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And time for the "Sideshow."
Well, tonight`s Halloween, of course. And some stores out there are seeing
a bump in certain costume sales driven, they say, by the political
wackiness and dysfunction down here in Washington.
Popular costumes on the Web site BuyCostumes.com have included this Anthony
Weiner-inspired outfit. I guess you could call it a literal
interpretation, as well as an unemployed Smokey the Bear suit, which they
sold out after the government shutdown. Other big sellers include this
"Saturday Night Live"-inspired John Boehner and Michele Bachmann shutdown
ensemble from the famous sketch with Miley Cyrus.
Politics runs deeper than you might think on Halloween. The $7 billion
Halloween industry has correctly predicted presidential results every four
years. Well, since the Clinton/Dole election of 1996, the candidate mask
with the most sales tells you who wins.
And if you go back further, though, the all-time iconic item must be the
ever-famous Richard Nixon mask, which was frequently used to protest the
president`s Vietnam War policies and later Watergate in the early 1970s.
It was so popular that it outsold the masks of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford
two years after Nixon was out of office.
Well, during the 1984 presidential campaign, former Vice President Walter
Mondale made a self-deprecating attempt to get in on the fun. He came off
his campaign plane was wearing a Walter Mondale mask, only to be outdone by
the awaiting press corps, who were all wearing Walter Mondale masks as
well. Of course, he lost that year to Ronald Reagan.
Anyway, the years that followed saw a boom of presidential masks, from
George Bush and Michael Dukakis on to Bill Clinton, to highlight just a
few. And, in 2004, the George W. Bush campaign staff used Halloween to
mock their opponent, John Kerry, who had famously gone duck hunting just a
Of course, that means that Ted Cruz, who went pheasant hunting last
weekend, should also be fair game. After all, he`s the face scaring a lot
of trick-or-treaters this year.
Up next, Rand Paul was caught plagiarizing Wikipedia by my colleague Rachel
Maddow. And now he`s attacking her for catching him.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Craig Melvin.
A federal appeals court has blocked the decision of a judge that ruled New
York City`s police program stop and frisk unconstitutional. The ruling
bars any changes to the policy pending the outcome of an appeal by the
A massive storm system moving from Texas to the Northeast this Halloween,
it`s dumped up to 14 inches of rain in Austin and also triggered flash
And President Obama and the first lady celebrating Halloween at 1600
Pennsylvania tonight. They welcomed little trick-or-treaters and gave out
lots of candy -- back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: We`re back now with a follow-up to that story we brought you
yesterday about my colleague Rachel Maddow catching Senator Rand Paul
plagiarizing from Wikipedia.
Now Senator Paul has responded, sort of. Let`s recap Monday night. Rachel
Maddow broke the news that in a speech earlier that day at Liberty
University, Senator Rand Paul quoted verbatim from a Wikipedia entry on the
movie "Gattaca." He referenced the science fiction movie to warn that
abortion access could lead to eugenics.
Well, here`s just one example of the many Rachel pointed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW")
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": From Wikipedia, Ethan
Hawke`s character -- quote -- "assumes the character of Jerome Morrow, a
former swimming star with a genetic profile second to none, who had been
injured in a car accident leaving him paralyzed."
Hit it, Senator.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: He assumes the identity of a Jerome Morrow,
a world-class swimming star whose genetic profile was secondary to none.
He`s been paralyzed in a car accident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is weird, right? He is just up there reading Wikipedia off
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Then on Tuesday, more embarrassing news for Senator Paul.
Turns out that in other speeches, he use passages also lifted verbatim from
the Wikipedia page, in this case for the movie "Stand and Deliver."
Well, the senator declined repeated requests to comment on these
discoveries. But then he appeared on the newly launched Fusion network and
was forced to face the music.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE RAMOS, FUSION ANCHOR: As a journalist, I have to ask you this
question. MSNBC accused you of plagiarism on Monday.
They -- they accused you of stealing four lines from Wikipedia from -- for
your speech at Liberty University.
So, is this true? Well, they`re saying that you borrowed lines from a
Wikipedia entry about the movie "Gattaca."
So what happened?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Yes. We did.
RAMOS: You did?
PAUL: And I let people know that the -- well, we borrowed the plot lines
from "Gattaca." It`s a movie. And I gave credit to the people who wrote
I think they`re arguing about whether or not things are properly footnoted,
and there are technicalities to this. But nothing I said wasn`t given
attribution to where it came from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Totally not true.
Senator Paul began blaming there what he called political enemies for the
Jorge Ramos was ready with the follow-up. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The rest of it`s making a mountain out of a molehill from people I
think basically who are political enemies and have an axe to grind.
RAMOS: Well, because it seems it`s not the first time. The Web site
BuzzFeed, they said that you borrow several lines from the -- from
Wikipedia again for a speech in June to a Latino --
PAUL: Once again, I think -- I think once again --
RAMOS: -- in this case the movie "Stand and Deliver."
PAUL: And, once again, it`s a disagreement on how you footnote things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: No, it`s not. It`s about plagiarism of Wikipedia, of all
So, here was Senator Rand Paul taking questions about plagiarizing and
turning them into a question about the character of the person who caught
Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for "The Washington Post", and Joan
Walsh is editor at large of "Salon". Both are MSNBC contributors.
What I think we`re looking at here is not a question, of course, of
plagiarizing, of all things, from Wikipedia, with all its own problems and
credibility problems which we`ve all come across, but plagiarizing and
being caught doing it instead of saying got me, Jonathan, which he should
have said you got me. A staff member was rushing through a preparation for
something I said. Put it in the speech verbatim without putting it in
words for me simply using their words.
Instead of simply admitting that, he jumbles the story, talks about
something to do with the plot line of movies, moves the conversation around
just like they conflate -- that`s the latest trick of the right -- conflate
one subject with another subject and hope the people don`t have a memory.
But we do.
Your thoughts, Jon?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, exactly. All he had to do
was say, you know what, we messed up. She got me. I apologize. My staff
will do better. And let`s move on to more substantive issues that the
American people care about.
And that would have been the end of it. The American people are a very
forgiving people. People on the left and Rachel Maddow, very forgiving
people. But he didn`t do that.
And instead of falling on his own sword and admitting failure in this case,
he attacked -- he attacked the messenger. And so as you aptly said, this
is what he did by conflating the plot and the Wikipedia entry, he`s
confusing people who are his supporters into thinking that the left, as
represented by Rachel Maddow, is out to get their guy Senator Paul.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, just so we all remember school. Not everybody
went to school recently, Joan and Jonathan. But plagiarism is a simple
notion. You`re taught to do it in school.
Don`t repeat the words you find in the encyclopedia, in my day, or an
online product today. Don`t use other people`s creative use of language
and say it`s your own.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right.
MATTHEWS: This is what Joe Biden got in trouble with years ago.
Don`t say somebody else`s creative language is yours. It`s something we
accept as not acceptable. If you`re going to quote a quotation, you quote
But you don`t say, hey, I thought of this. This is what I think about
things. It`s just the words taken completely from Wikipedia.
Your thoughts. And, by the character problem is here is evident not
accepting blame. That`s my problem, and going after the character of
Rachel Maddow which is absurd.
WALSH: Which is absurd.
MATTHEWS: Of course.
WALSH: No, you know, Chris, every sixth grader knows you don`t take stuff,
you don`t lift stuff from Wikipedia. People know the definition of
plagiarism I`m not sure if he`s brazen or if he`s dumb and he doesn`t know
the meaning of the word.
MATTHEWS: He hopes his people are.
WALSH: I think he`s just brazen.
And I think to turn around and put it on Rachel, you know, he`s still mad
at her because she made him look like a fool opposing parts of the Civil
Rights Act when he first won his primary in May of 2010. So, there`s no
animus from her to him. But there is from him to her.
So I just think the inability to say, you know what, somebody screwed up,
won`t happen again, is kind of typical of folks on the right nowadays but
particularly typical of him.
MATTHEWS: I think he and Cruz -- I think he`s afraid of weakness, that`s
the new word they`re afraid of. This is weakness, telling the truth or
compromise. In any word for weakness.
Anyway, Rachel Maddow played Rand Paul`s response on Fusion to the
plagiarism charge in full on her show last night and then responded to it
Here`s the end of Paul`s interview, by the way, followed by part of
Rachel`s reaction to it. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: So really this is really about information
and attacks coming from haters. The person who`s leading this attack,
she`s been spreading hate on me for about three years now, but I don`t
intend for it to go away. But also I don`t see her as an objective news
RACHEL MADDOW, MSBNC HOST: Senator, you can call me whatever names you
want to. Trust me, I have been called worse.
But this is not a personal thing for me at all. I feel no emotion about
this. And I do not hate you, nor have I ever tried to spread hate on you.
And I`m sorry you feel that way.
But also you didn`t borrow plot lines from these movies. You read the
Wikipedia page out loud. The point is that you seem to have a frequent
habit of plagiarizing parts of your speeches.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: So succinct.
Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Jonathan, and thank you, Joan. It`s a
fun time when the mouse trap catches the mouse. Anyway, thank you.
Up next, voter anger at Ted Cruz and House Republicans is pushing Democrats
into running for Congress.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Cory Booker is now a U.S. senator. He was sworn in today by
Vice President Joe Biden to fill out the remainder of the late Frank
Lautenberg`s term from New Jersey. He`ll need to run for re-election next
By the way, Booker`s arrival pushes the Democratic majority in the U.S.
Senate back up to 55-45.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Voters are so angry at Republicans for shutting down the government that
once reluctant Democratic candidates are now stepping up to take on the GOP
incumbents. Well, the state Democratic Party chair in deep red Nebraska
told "The New York Times," quote, "If I ever see Ted Cruz, all I`m going to
say is thank you, thank you. I would`ve been in witness protection. I
didn`t have anybody to run." That was before he came along Cruz.
Democrats still have a long shot to take back the House in 2014, but their
path to victory is now more realistic than it was prior to the political
showdowns and shutdowns we saw this month. Thanks to the GOP`s plummeting
poll numbers out there and the dislike for standard bearer Ted Cruz, and
Cruz is the reason for the Democrats` come back.
Political analyst Charlie Cook says Democrats need four things to happen if
they want a serious shot to take back the House. Anyway, continued GOP
self-destructive behavior, more GOP retirements, a fractured GOP, and
quality Democratic recruits. Well, the recruits are coming out of the
woods. One of the Democrats` top recruits, Bill Hughes, Jr., is
challenging a 10-term incumbent in southern New Jersey, the seat once held
by his father, Bill, a namesake. He joins me now, Bill Hughes, Jr.
And Vince Powers is the Democratic Party chair out in Nebraska. He joins
us from Omaha.
I want to start with you, Mr. Powers out there in Nebraska.
Nebraska has this reputation of being the ultimate Republican state, I
remember that going back to the `60s with Nixon beating Kennedy out there.
What`s changed in the last two or three weeks?
VINCE POWERS, NEBRASKA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, thank you very much for
having me. Actually, Nebraska has elected numerous Democrats to the United
States Senate, but as you know, last year, Bob Kerrey lost, so we don`t
have any federal officers, officeholders. And we`re having a very
difficult time, unfortunately, recruiting, especially for the second CD,
where we had a great candidate, John Ewing. He only lost by 4,100 votes.
But the city council chair, president of the Omaha City Council, Pete
Festerson (ph), this outstanding leader here in Omaha, let me right around
Labor Day that he had decided against running. And it was a tough, tough
time for us.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Bill Hughes in Jersey.
I know Ocean City very well, I grew up there, as you know, Bill, and I want
to talk about -- your dad held that seat very well, he was mayor there,
everybody liked him, a great reputation. But yet for all these years now,
you`ve got LoBiondo representing the district. What makes you think now`s
the time to take him on and bring it back to the Democrats?
BILL HUGHES, JR. (D), NJ CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well; Chris, thank you
very much for having me tonight.
You know, we have record-high unemployment in southern New Jersey, the
economy is in shambles. We supposedly have a ten-term congressman, who`s
essentially not doing the job. What makes matters worse is that he`s
talking bipartisanship, but he`s not acting like it.
And behind the scenes, he`s following the Tea Partiers. He`s acting
irresponsibly. And that`s the reason that I decided to run, simply
because, we`re hurting in South Jersey, because of his decisions in
Washington. And people are sick and tired of the political games, and, you
know, it`s time for a change.
MATTHEWS: Was he part of the Tea Party movement, or is he simply a fellow
traveler? What would you call him?
He seems like one of those people around Philadelphia that I know, that
they say they`re not part of the Tea Party. Every once in a while they
vote in a different way, but it seems lake they`re still with them on who
the leaders are, how the party goes. If the party goes with the Tea Party
people, they always go with it.
HUGHES: Well, you know what, you know, he -- Frank LoBiondo exercises a
convenient bipartisanship. And by that, he votes his district when it
won`t hurt the Republican Party. He says he`s not part of the Tea Party,
he says he`s not part of the irresponsible actions of the Republican Party.
But the fact of the matter is, he only votes his district and has only
voted his district when the Republican leadership allows him to and when it
won`t impact the outcome of the vote.
MATTHEWS: What do your people think of the Tea Party?
HUGHES: You know, our people, as in South Jersey, they are sick and tired
of the games in Washington. And, you know, the encouragement that I`m
getting, interestingly, Chris, is that not just from Democrats. It`s from
Republicans and independents.
And my decision to run has as much to do by the very conservative voters,
very conservative businesspeople, and independent and Republicans, who have
contacted me, who`ve said, you know what, we need a change. We need to do
something different. We`ve had the same old actions, the same old rhetoric
for the past 20 years. And we haven`t had much action.
MATTHEWS: We`re out of time here. What would you do if your opponent,
incumbent Republican, LoBiondo, brought Ted Cruz in to campaign for him?
What would you say? What would happen?
HUGHES: I would say, thank you. Thank you.
And I would welcome Ted Cruz coming to the district and I think it would
show the people of my district and my constituents exactly, you know, who
Frank LoBiondo really is. At least for once, he would be acting consistent
with -- you know, he would be outwardly acting consistent with his actions
behind the scenes.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Vince Powers of Nebraska and Bill Hughes of New
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Tonight`s Halloween and it`s all about kids, of course, but I want you to
look now at a small group of American kids, they`re children of U.S.
Marines, playing on a swing like any other kids, except when they hear the
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MATTHEWS: Well, those kids know the stakes, they know the dangers of their
parents` profession, they love their parents who fight for us and face
what`s coming. It`s got nothing to do with partisan politics and
everything to do with this country and those who service this country we
Anyway, have fun with your kids tonight, a night very much for them.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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