November 5, 2013
Guest: Tom Davis, Margie Omero, John Feehery, Steve McMahon
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in
It`s election day in many states across the country, and some key
races may provide a clue to where the country is headed in 2014 and 2016.
The most consequential race is in Virginia. It`s 7:00 o`clock on the
East Coast now, and polls are now closed in Virginia. And NBC News is
characterizing the Virginia governor`s race as too early to call, but we
can say that Democrat Terry McAuliffe is leading now over Republican Ken
Virginians are also voting to choose a lieutenant governor and
attorney general, and Democrats hope that after tonight, they will hold all
three offices plus both U.S. Senate seats.
In New Jersey, polls close in one hour, where Governor Chris Christie
has held a substantial lead in his reelection effort. Christie`s already
considered to be a major contender for the 2016 Republican presidential
nomination, and of course, a win in this blue Northeastern state will make
his argument that the GOP wins when it runs mainstream conservative
candidates, not Tea Partiers on the fringes.
And in New York City, Democrat Bill de Blasio has an enormous lead in
pre-election polls. He`s poised to become the first Democratic mayor of
America`s largest city since David Dinkins won 24 years ago.
Howard Fineman is editorial director of the Huffington Post Media
Group, and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones"
magazine. Both are, of course, MSNBC political analysts.
Howard, tonight what you know, share.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
What I know is that the new Virginia, the Virginia that elected Barack
Obama twice, looks like it`s coming out in substantial numbers for Terry
And there`s a new South in Virginia. Virginia is now a swing state.
Virginia, especially its northern suburbs around the Washington area, where
I understand the turnout is pretty strong, that`s Terry McAuliffe, the
I think the government shutdown clearly hurt Ken Cuccinelli, the
Republican, who is identified with the Tea Party and identified with
antagonism to government. Antagonism to the federal government used to be
a watchword of Virginia, as well as the rest of the South. Virginia is now
a mixed state up for grabs. And hard-line Tea Party candidates are going
to have a hard time winning in a state like Virginia.
MATTHEWS: And David, the exit polling taken by voters as they left
the polling places today showed no big love for the Tea Party.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, 43 percent
of the people who were polled who voted today say they oppose the Tea
If you look at all the big issues that animated our political debates
over the past couple of months, whether it`s, you know, cultural war like
abortion, or the government shutdown, we see a very strong reaction of this
electorate against the conservative side on those issues.
One out of five voters -- I think this was a high number -- said that
they thought abortion was their top issue in this election. And of those
MATTHEWS: And the evidence is that they`re pro-choice...
CORN: ... 61-40 percent break in favor of...
MATTHEWS: I think we have to keep reminding ourselves throughout the
hour that Virginia is so important because it is almost exactly the
bellwether state for the union. Its numbers in the last election are just
about exactly what...
FINEMAN: Chris, I would say Virginia has become the new Ohio in many
ways. Richard Nixon used to say it`s all about Ohio. Well, it`s all about
MATTHEWS: If you know what`s going on there, you know a lot.
FINEMAN: And the fact that women turned out in overwhelming numbers,
apparently, in support of Terry McAuliffe is a big part of...
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s look at that number. The NBC News exit poll I
mentioned shows women in Virginia breaking for Terry McAuliffe in a big
way, while men are basically evenly split. Women give McAuliffe is 16-
point edge, 54 to 38. That is something. David Corn?
CORN: Well, it goes back to what I was just saying. I think, you
know, the issue of abortion, which often doesn`t motivate voters, doesn`t
turn elections -- we know that, we`ve been studying this for decades now --
seems to be a key fight. And that`s, of course, Cuccinelli.
He was the religious right, the social conservative poster boy on all
sorts -- all these cultural issues, abortion being top amongst them. And
so here, you know, we`ve had this argument in Washington, Ted Cruz and
others saying that the Republican Party to win has to go to the right, has
to get out these traditionalist voters. Well, that`s not working for
Cuccinelli, who otherwise was an attractive candidate.
FINEMAN: In many ways, he was ideally unsuited to go after the career
women, the professional women, the working women of northern Virginia, who
are part of the orbit of metropolitan Washington and aren`t going to stand
for what Joe Biden in the last day of the campaign called "thinking from
MATTHEWS: Just think about that for a second because we`re all three
white guys here -- by coincidence, but it`s a fact. And I`m looking at
these numbers. It tells you that the white men of this country are not
calling the shots.
Look at these numbers. Cuccinelli in the exit poll, 59 to 33-- or
(ph) McAuliffe -- he sweeps him by 26 points. And yet it looks like
tonight like McAuliffe`s going to win comfortably. Comfortably. And yet
the white men, 59-33, say, We`re going for Cuccinelli, who`s gotten some of
the worst press, the worst reading (ph) about -- he`s made one bad day
Now, look at this, white women. We`ve been saying around this table
that the white women -- all women, I should say, we (INAUDIBLE) about a
racial (ph) -- across the state of Virginia are very pro-choice and
inclined to give a big number to McAuliffe. Here 48 to 43 white women went
for Cuccinelli, according to our exit polling.
CORN: Yes, well...
MATTHEWS: Is that just an extraordinarily -- it`s only significant,
but it`s so different than the way white men vote in their own households.
FINEMAN: Well, I would divide it, Chris, between northern Virginia,
which, as I said, is part of metropolitan Washington at this point -- from
Richmond north, it`s a mixed swing state. And rural southern Virginia,
which is where I think it`s fair to say that the split by gender is -- is
still much more even.
CORN: But if you look at the numbers for, say, black men and black
women, black women, 95 to 5 for McAuliffe over Cuccinelli. This goes
MATTHEWS: ... obviously, if you`re a minority in this country, we all
know that you have other issues besides gender driving your vote.
MATTHEWS: Gender issues.
CORN: But after the last election, the GOP did an internal autopsy
and said, Listen, we can`t win national elections -- and this kind of looks
like a national election...
CORN: ... if we keep losing all Latinos, you know, all African-
MATTHEWS: That`s the point I made a minute ago.
CORN: ... and we can`t close the gap.
MATTHEWS: The point I`m making here...
MATTHEWS: ... white men are not a leading indicator of anything. In
fact, they`re probably a lagging indicator...
CORN: The gap is getting bigger, but...
FINEMAN: The other thing is -- the other dividing point, Chris, is
often between married with children, church going...
MATTHEWS: Of course.
FINEMAN: Married with children church-going whites...
MATTHEWS: Tend to be conservative.
FINEMAN: Conservative, and there`s a lot of them in Virginia.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s look at the latest that we have. This is a lot
of exit poll information we got to give you right now because the polls
have closed in Virginia at 7:00 o`clock.
Cuccinelli`s positions on social issues were another factor that
worked against him. In all -- well, in all, 6 in 10 Virginia voters
support legal abortion in all or most cases. I think that`s a particularly
high percentage. It`s usually in the low 50s -- to say in almost all
CORN: Yes, well, you look at -- if you look at the turnout, you`ll
see that, you know, Democrats 39 percent, Republicans 30 percent, a big gap
there. So I think when it comes to women who care about abortion...
CORN: ... which happen to be Democrats...
MATTHEWS: OK. That`s what...
CORN: ... they were motivated to go to the polls. But the turnout
was from Ken Cuccinelli. He drove them to the polls.
FINEMAN: That was Terry McAuliffe`s strategy from the beginning, to
hammer on women`s issues, especially on abortion and health...
MATTHEWS: And even on divorce.
FINEMAN: ... especially in northern Virginia, in the northern
Virginia -- in the Washington media market, he hammered Cuccinelli, who, as
David said, was ideally ill suited to defend himself (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Because of his record, apparently.
FINEMAN: Because of his record.
MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me point out something that`s fascinating.
We all know that people -- well, I don`t want to generalize. This is the
kind of thing my dad used to say. If you went to college, you got more
But look at these -- look at this percentage of voters turning out
today -- 63 percent of the voters today finished college, not just started,
or junior year -- junior college for two years, full four-year college.
That`s a very educated electorate.
FINEMAN: And the other part of it is...
FINEMAN: The other part is if you look who supported whom, the
poorest people and the least educated supported Terry McAuliffe, but also
the wealthiest and most educated...
FINEMAN: ... supported Terry McAuliffe.
MATTHEWS: That`s usual.
FINEMAN: And that -- I know, but that fed into Terry McAuliffe`s
argument that Ken Cuccinelli was anti-science, that Ken Cuccinelli sued the
University of Virginia`s attorney general for its research on climate
change. Now, that may sound like an abstruse issue, but in a state like
Virginia, which -- where the job growth is now based on high-income, high-
education workers, that was an appeal that really stuck.
MATTHEWS: And I also think we`re looking right now at the visual
we`re going to see. I don`t know whether President Clinton or the former
secretary state, Hillary Clinton, will show up tonight, but clearly, they
are identified very much with this victory if McAuliffe goes on to win.
Anyway, the NBC News exit poll also asked voters of Virginia how they
feel about the Tea Party. Now, this is fascinating, the Tea Party movement
itself -- 30 percent of voters in Virginia say they support the Tea Party,
43 percent say they are opposed.
David, this is interesting. Let`s take another point here. The NBC
exit poll also asked voters who they think is more to blame for the recent
federal government shutdown -- 43 percent blamed Obama, the president, 49
percent blamed Republicans in Congress. That`s fairly close.
Joining me right now from inside Terry McAuliffe`s campaign
headquarters in Tyson`s Corner -- that`s right across from here, across the
Potomac -- is NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
Chuck, we were looking at movies of the Clintons joining Terry
McAuliffe in what looked like a victory performance. That hasn`t happened
yet, obviously. We`re getting good news for McAuliffe, at least in very
primitive form, from our NBC experts. Your thoughts.
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Well, I
mean, here`s the best way to look at who voted today. This looks a lot
more like 2012 than 2009 here in Virginia. Remember, 2009, it was a more
conservative electorate. It was an electorate that did not look very
Democratic, and we had the Republican Bob McDonnell landslide.
This 2013 electorate -- you put up those numbers on abortion at 61
percent essentially the pro-choice position. In 2012, in Virginia, it was
63, so essentially, within margin of error. So you`re seeing that the
national -- the type of voter that came out in 2013 looks a lot more like
2012, which is -- would be good news for Terry McAuliffe, which is why
we`re comfortable characterizing it as a McAuliffe lead right now.
The other thing that strikes me, though, is, boy, given that the
president of -- we have exit-polled Virginia now, `09, `12, and `13, every
time we ask about the president`s job approval rating -- this is Virginia -
- as Virginia goes, so goes the nation -- this is the lowest approval
rating we`ve recorded on an election day in Virginia that he`s been in
He actually had a 48 percent approval in office in 2009. It was up
over -- closer to 50, obviously, when he won reelection, down to 46 percent
tonight. When the health care law has a higher approval rating in Virginia
than the president himself, the folks in the White House got to realize,
here in Virginia, if they got a problem here, they got a problem
MATTHEWS: But isn`t it interesting -- and I`ve watched it on this
program every night and watched the people who watch this program.
Although the president is down -- there`s no doubt the morale of his people
is down right now because of this, well, relentless assault on his program,
health care, and the other issues that have bugged him, like before that,
Syria, and the rest of it. There hasn`t been a happy cloud (ph) scene (ph)
in months now.
His enemies are much less popular than him. In fact, they`re growing
MATTHEWS: That`s what`s so fascinating. What I find is what people
are reacting to on the progressive and moderate side today is not so much
their enthusiasm for the president right now as much as their antipathy
towards his attackers.
TODD: And not only that, Chris, this is a huge -- if you`re the
Republicans, national Republicans, and you`re looking at this exit poll,
you could potentially be in full panic mode if it turns out that this is
what the electorate looks like and McAuliffe does win because the
president`s at a 46 percent approval rating. Normally, you would say
that`s bad news for the Democrats, but McAuliffe still was able to win.
It shows you that what you just said is absolutely right. It`s where
the Republicans position themselves here, outside of where Virginia
believes the Republican Party should be. So this is -- this is -- if
you`re a Republican Party strategist, this is a very scary moment for you
because the president`s not -- is not -- does not have a good approval
rating here in Virginia tonight. And guess what? It`s still been -- it
looks like it`s still potentially good news for Democrats. That is a
nightmare scenario in 2014.
FINEMAN: Here`s another factor, Chris. Even though the public in
Virginia was split on whom to blame for the shutdown...
FINEMAN: ... if you were affected by the shutdown -- and according to
this exit poll, one out of three families was affected in Virginia by the
federal government shutdown -- you voted almost two to one for Terry
McAuliffe. You rejected the strategy of shutdown that the Republicans put
forth. So even though you were divided in terms of theoretically whom you
blamed, if it affected you, you voted for McAuliffe.
MATTHEWS: That becomes a voting issue...
MATTHEWS: ... that becomes a voting issue for the people who are
working for the government and got screwed around and played with and
mocked a lot of that time.
CORN: All this goes to the larger point that this election is not
about Barack Obama. It`s not even about health care.
MATTHEWS: He`s lucky it`s not!
CORN: If you look at the exit poll -- that`s right, he`s lucky it`s
not, but he`s not running for anything.
MATTHEWS: His enemies are on trial.
CORN: The Republicans are unlucky because it`s about issues that
they`ve been pressing that the public has turned on.
MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s right.
CORN: And so it`s about the shape of the electorate, and...
MATTHEWS: Later tonight, we`re going to get (INAUDIBLE) into that
other look at this country, from the Northeastern look, where a relatively
moderate Republican, meaning a non-Tea Party conservative, is up for
reelection and looks -- probably looks like he might win it, well win it.
And yet here, the look we`re getting early in the evening is bad news.
Yes, Chuck, last word? Chuck?
TODD: Yes, go ahead, Chris. I`m sorry. Well...
MATTHEWS: I just wanted you to throw a little thought here about New
Jersey, so we don`t get unbalanced here. We`re getting a bad (ph) look at
the voter reaction to the hard right here in Virginia here. But what will
we get to maybe back that up in New Jersey, where they say, You know what?
We like this more moderate Republican.
TODD: Well, and that`s going to be the contrast tonight, right? It`s
-- you know, to me, this election day has been about not Cuccinelli versus
McAuliffe or "Obama care" and all this or that. It`s to me been about the
Republican Party and Cuccinelli versus Christie.
Christie went one way with his campaign. I saw it -- I was on the
trail with him yesterday, and everything was about -- talking about the
bipartisan way that he governs. Yes, he calls himself a conservative. In
fact, he says it a lot. And I`ve noticed, by the way, the more someone
calls themselves a progressive or a conservative, whatever side of the
aisle they`re on, it means they know people question whether they`re really
a progressive or a conservative. But let`s set that aside a minute.
He would say that. He would talk about governing in a bipartisan way.
The messaging here among Republicans was about -- look at the last days of
Cuccinelli, Send a message to the president. This is about health care.
He`s with Ron Paul. He`s with Marco Rubio. He`s with Rand Paul. He is
with the more conservative element of the party.
So it`s just two different campaigns. And I tell you, one looks like
it`s headed to a landslide in favor of the Republican, and one could be
responsible for what in Virginia could be an historic defeat.
Remember, this will -- if McAuliffe does win, first time in 40 years
that Virginia will vote the same way -- will not vote -- will not elect a
governor opposite of the party in the White House...
TODD: ... but elect a governor of the same party in the White House.
MATTHEWS: Chuck, great reporting. We`ll be back to you again and
again tonight. Thank you, Howard Fineman, expertise here at the table, and
David Corn. I couldn`t think of better guys to have here -- better people.
Coming up: Terry McAuliffe keyed in on women`s issues in an attempt to
win their votes. It`s a strategy Democrats will try to use, obviously,
against Republicans -- the gender gap, a big, big plus for the Democrats.
We`ll see if it pays off tonight. Looks like it is. The Virginia
governor`s race, too early to call by the experts, but it`s McAuliffe with
the lead, and that`s what NBC has been reporting.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We continue to watch the numbers come in down in Virginia,
where NBC News is characterizing the governor`s race there as too early to
call. But Democrat Terry McAuliffe is leading.
Back with more results in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Polls close in the state of New
Jersey at 8:00 PM Eastern tonight, and in the state of New York at 9:00 PM
We continue to watch the results in the Virginia`s governor`s race,
where it closed at 7:00. Of course, we`re saying right now at NBC it`s too
early to call, but NBC`s also saying that Democrat Terry McAuliffe is
leading, despite the early numbers we`re seeing with just 1 percent of the
Look at this. McAuliffe outspent his Republican opponent in the late
parts of the campaign two to one in the final weeks. That had a big
impact, I believe. McAuliffe`s ads aggressively attacked Cuccinelli on
women`s issues especially, in an effort to target female voters.
Cuccinelli`s previously stated positions taken before this campaign began
were trumpeted in a long and expensive ad blitz from McAuliffe, which could
very well be responsible for the results we`ve seen tonight already in the
According to Cantor (ph) Media, this McAuliffe ad against Cuccinelli`s
views on divorce aired the most, more than 2,100 times. And here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Cuccinelli had it his way, a mom trying to
get out of a bad marriage over her husband`s objections could only get
divorced if she could prove adultery or physical abuse or her spouse had
abandoned her or was sentenced to jail.
Why is Ken Cuccinelli interfering in our private lives? He`s focused
on his own agenda, not us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Terry McAuliffe has consistently, as seen there in
that ad, used his views on women`s health issues, on abortion, of course,
birth control, even transvaginal probes -- we talked a lot of about that --
and violence against women to attack Cuccinelli.
It`s a strategy that Democrats across the country may use in 2014.
Tom Davis was a Republican member of Congress from veteran. And
Margie Omero is a Democratic pollster. And still with us from inside Terry
McAuliffe`s campaign headquarters out in Tysons Corner across the Potomac
is NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
I should tell everybody who doesn`t get back here a lot to Washington
we are right on the edge of Virginia. Virginia is a commuting distance
from Washington. And many people we call Northern Virginians really work
eight hours a day, 47, 50 hours a week in Washington, D.C., or the area
right around it.
Let me ask you, Margie, first woman on the show tonight, a little late
getting here, but it`s about time we got somebody to talk.
This -- this voting thing, we all think who grew up in Washington, who
have spent our lives here, that women who come to Washington to get jobs,
they may not be married. They may be married. But when they first get
here, a lot of them are not married. They go live in those high-rises
right across the river in Virginia. You know what I mean?
They join the social scene. They get the jobs, they move up the chain
hopefully in their profession. And they are very pro-choice as a group.
That may be iconic. Do you think it is true and does that explain these
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, in the exit polls, you show
almost two to one that voters overall, not just women, are pro-choice.
And one thing that I never heard -- I have been talking to voters for
about 20 years -- I have never heard a woman say, you know what the
government should do? They should make it difficult for me to get a
divorce. If my husband doesn`t want to get divorced and I want to get a
divorce, I want the government to get involved and stop me.
MATTHEWS: What would be -- OK. I know you sound like you`re against
it, which makes perfect sense.
MATTHEWS: Why would anybody in politics want to make it more
difficult for a person to dissolve what is potentially even a dangerous
OMERO: I could not tell you why someone would think that that was a
smart policy idea or a smart political idea. It`s not just divorce.
MATTHEWS: It must have some motive. Somebody must dig it.
OMERO: I mean, some of the things that Cuccinelli supports, he`s
against contraception. And 99 percent of women have used contraception,
MATTHEWS: Is he against the birth control pill?
OMERO: He`s been against birth control, a variety of methods of birth
control. He`s against...
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to a reasonable Republican here.
Tom Davis, you represented Northern Virginia for all these years.
What does it mean to you that your party is now running a guy that looks
like he`s in big trouble tonight because of these, well, what most people
would call either old-time or extreme positions on women`s rights?
TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, in Northern Virginia,
this hasn`t played.
Virginia`s played this before in the Doug Wilder election campaign
right after the Webster decision at the Supreme Court. So we have had
referendums on this before. What you have got to remember is that the
president`s at an all-time low in Virginia in terms of his favorable
ratings at this point.
McAuliffe was viewed at the time as somebody with little connection to
the state, a target-rich environment. And they`re losing to him while
Christie is running ahead in New Jersey.
So, the question you have to ask is, what is wrong with this? And for
the midterms, which Republican team are you going to put in the field? A
Cuccinelli-type Tea Party team or somebody like Christie?
MATTHEWS: Had this race been run on the Republican side by a pro-
choice -- well, could there be a pro-choice Virginia Republican candidate
DAVIS: Well, look, you can be pro-life and win. That`s happened
before. Bob McDonnell was pro-life.
DAVIS: George Allen was pro-life. John Warner was pro-life. He
wasn`t -- he didn`t wear it on his sleeve. I don`t think that`s a
But when you get into these peripheral issues like birth control and
getting into marriage and those kinds of issues...
MATTHEWS: Divorce, yes.
DAVIS: ... then it`s really...
MATTHEWS: He really stomped on it.
What do you think this is going to say to the country, do you think?
Because we`re going to be talking about it, because more voters are women
than men. They don`t get the attention necessarily, but they`re going to
get it out of this race, because Cuccinelli made an issue of going on these
women`s issues, even though he`s a guy on the right side of things -- the
right-wing side of things.
OMERO: Well, if you want to win, and be popular, you need to take
And it`s not just having popular positions. It`s also the priority
and the tone. And for a lot of voters, women in particular, they`re
thinking, why are these issues a top priority? And then there`s also the
tone. Cuccinelli, I mean, he`s been a little bit all over the place in his
campaign, but before that, he was a real crusader, a firebrand.
And that kind of tone really turns a lot of women off. So, candidates
of both parties who want to be successful need to think about...
OMERO: ... are they really demonstrating that they are speaking to
women and understanding women?
MATTHEWS: OK. Time for a dumb question.
A voting issue in the parlance we use in politics is an issue that you
-- that changes how you vote. For example, my -- one of my brothers is a
gun guy. OK? Gun issues are what matter to him. He will vote for or
against a candidate based on gun issues. He`s a run rights person, a
Second Amendment guy.
On issues affecting women, do women go to the polling place and vote
one way or the other in the main on the choice question, on abortion
rights? Would that be an issue that would drive you one way or the other?
Tom Davis here says you might get elected as a pro-life Republican. Would
a woman in Northern Virginia vote for a pro-life Republican?
OMERO: Yes, I think so. There are -- there are women...
MATTHEWS: Even though it`s against their views?
OMERO: There are women on both sides who that`s they`re number one
issue. There are a lot of women that`s not their number one issue.
There`s so much more to what constitutes a woman`s issue other than
And that`s when Ken Cuccinelli is clearly -- he`s...
MATTHEWS: All right, let me lower the bar. When you have a guy
running who says I don`t believe in birth control, I don`t believe in any
abortion under any circumstance, including rape and incest, I don`t believe
in -- but I don`t believe...
OMERO: Maternity care coverage, breast cancer coverage. If he`s
against ACA, then he`s against mandatory maternity care coverage.
MATTHEWS: In that case, it would be a voting issue?
OMERO: Then you`re talking about a guy who has prioritized a series
of issues that make women`s lives harder, and without any kind of tone
demonstrating that he is understanding women...
OMERO: ... or listening to women or fighting for them.
MATTHEWS: If Cuccinelli gets killed tonight, destroyed politically,
loses by 10 points, I don`t know what the numbers are going to end up, will
this change the view of Republican Party in Virginia, your party, your
commonwealth as to where their future lies?
DAVIS: Well, if the ticket goes down, if the whole ticket goes down,
the attorney general`s race very much in contention...
MATTHEWS: And you lose some legislative seats too.
DAVIS: But if we lose all three of the top statewide, this would be
the first time in 44 years we haven`t had a Republican elected statewide.
We`re back to the pre-two-party system. And that will get a lot of people
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you. A lot of people talking.
Thanks, Tom Davis, as always. Thank you, Margie Omero.
OMERO: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Chuck Todd, over the river there in Tysons
Up next, an early look at what tonight`s early results may tell us
about the 2016 presidential race. We`re going to the question of Christie
vs. Hillary Clinton. This is going to be interesting.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We continue to watch, of course, the governor`s race in Virginia,
where it`s too early to call between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and
Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
But McAuliffe has the lead, despite the early numbers we`re seeing
right now. Anyway, polls close in the other big governor`s race tonight in
New Jersey. It`s 8:00 p.m. Eastern is the closing time. And the incumbent
there, Chris Christie, is looking to rack up a big win as a springboard to
a now probable presidential run.
The reason we`re all interested in Chris Christie is that he`s
considered to be a likely mainstream Republican candidate for president.
In our exit poll, we asked voters in New Jersey who they would vote for if
Christie ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Here are the numbers. They don`t surprise me; 49 percent favored
Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Democratic state; 43 percent were for the
incumbent governor there, Christie.
With us now is the Republican strategist John Feehery and Democratic
strategist Steve McMahon.
It`s so fascinating because you think of the favorite son idea of
years ago. The favorite son would always win. But Hillary Clinton is a
media star. She`s a worldwide celebrity who`s got no blemish on her, and
she comes into this thing still as the iconic figure to beat.
Around here, the executive producer and I were trying to figure out
numbers. We all were within one or two. We all thought that Christie
would lose to her about five or six. And she did -- and he did. Hillary`s
beating him in his own state right now.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I remember when everyone thought
it was going to be Hillary vs. Rudy Giuliani. Remember that? I think
we`re awfully early. She`s got to get through a lot.
I think that this victory, if it`s as big as everyone thinks it is, is
going to be a huge boost for Chris Christie, because he`s proven that he
can win, and win big.
MATTHEWS: Just being close to Hillary, within the running with her
make him look good in these exit polls?
FEEHERY: I think it makes him -- I think it makes him look very, very
good. This is a very Democratic state, a very blue state. And you know
what? If he`s going to be the favored son, I predict, if he runs against
Hillary, he will win New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: By the way, you said it`s too early. Let me tell you about
early in this show in HARDBALL. Let me just tell you something.
MATTHEWS: We`re the kids that snuck down around midnight to see what
was coming up under the Christmas tree.
MATTHEWS: We are the ones that look early, OK?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, here`s what`s
MATTHEWS: Just kidding.
MCMAHON: I mean, he`s a favorite son in New Jersey, obviously. She`s
a favorite daughter. She was a senator from New York.
Chris Christie, though, should be stronger than he is against Hillary
Clinton right now. This is his high watermark. He hasn`t -- no one`s laid
a glove on him yet. And if he`s the nominee...
MATTHEWS: Don`t you not accept the -- and you know the politics.
Don`t you think Hillary remains sort of beyond politics at this point?
She`s still coming off of the secretary of state job.
MCMAHON: She`s a little beyond politics.
MATTHEWS: She`s not a police.
MCMAHON: She`s a little beyond politics.
MCMAHON: But she -- but her numbers have actually come down in the
six or eight weeks she`s kind of gone off the radar screen.
MATTHEWS: I saw that.
MCMAHON: And what`s interesting about New Jersey, if you -- if you
think about the Democrats` advantage nationally in a presidential campaign,
Democrats start with about 242 electoral votes. So, it`s not very hard to
get to 270.
One of the last states to move from the red column to the blue column
was New Jersey. It used to be a purple state. It`s a red state now.
Republicans need to move some red states to the -- I`m sorry -- some blue
states to the red column in order to be able to win a presidential race.
Chris Christie, he can`t do it in New Jersey, I don`t see where...
MATTHEWS: No, I think -- I think it`s -- I have always thought
Christie would -- that`s your opinion -- and it`s a good one.
My opinion has always been Christie does better in states like Ohio
than most Republicans...
MATTHEWS: ... and Pennsylvania better than most Republicans.
MCMAHON: Well, he does.
MATTHEWS: But against Hillary, if Hillary runs -- let`s face it --
she`s the formidable -- the formidable front-runner.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this poll number. We have another
poll number here. This is in New Jersey, asking people today who voted in
New Jersey. Do you think Chris Christie would make a good president?
I don`t think the ads run by Senator Buono -- Buono.
MATTHEWS: Buono, who ran against him Buono -- sorry -- Buono, who ran
against him, saying he was going to run for president, she was going to run
for governor, somebody told me that was Bill Clinton`s idea. I don`t think
that hurt Christie in New Jersey.
I think they`d be proud to have a presidential candidate come out of
FEEHERY: I agree.
Those numbers aren`t that terrific. Things are not that great in New
Jersey. He was a spectacular candidate. He won a -- ran a great campaign.
This is a big question that should be a little bit better, I think.
MATTHEWS: He should be better than 51-45?
FEEHERY: I think so. People in New Jersey tend to be pretty negative
to begin with.
MATTHEWS: You mean like Christie.
MATTHEWS: They`re like him.
FEEHERY: I agree with your point, though. I think he will do well in
places like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back -- yes, but come back to that point. Do you
think that -- I mean, he -- we don`t know what`s going to happen, because
the polls aren`t going to close until 8:00 Eastern. We`re not going to
even talk about what happened because we don`t know.
But do you think that campaign against him saying he just wants to run
for president, I`m running for governor, do you think that worked?
MCMAHON: It was stupid. It was stupid. There`s just no other way to
Here`s -- but John said something that`s very insightful...
FEEHERY: Well, thank you.
MCMAHON: ... among other things.
MCMAHON: Fifty-one percent in a state where he`s going to win this
thing by -- he`s going to get close to 60 percent, maybe more, 62 percent,
63 percent of the vote. And 51 percent think he`d be a good president.
He -- he might be a good candidate in Ohio, but we`re never going to
know because we can`t get through what you`re looking at in states like
Alabama tonight, where there`s a big Tea Party mainstream fight.
MATTHEWS: There`s a Tea Party guy running who might win, yes.
MCMAHON: Who is going to probably win because it`s going to be a
MATTHEWS: And he`s a birther.
MCMAHON: Chris Christie can`t get through a Republican primary now,
nor could Ronald Reagan.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re going to see this about what a -- I think this
is one of the most fascinating things we`re going to watch.
You have what is called a civil war in the Republican Party right now,
where these red states really are red and they want more red.
MCMAHON: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: And then you have people, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey,
all the way to New England, and who are looking for something that might
win the general election.
And they also think -- they`re not as right-wing. Look at the numbers
out of Virginia tonight. Only 30 percent are big on the Tea Party, 47
percent against it.
FEEHERY: Let me -- let me -- I disagree with Steve. Follow the
money. The fact of the matter is Chris Christie had an overwhelming fund-
raising advantage. Ken Cuccinelli got killed in the fund-raising.
FEEHERY: And in a Republican primary...
MATTHEWS: ... Christie is going to get a lot of money.
MCMAHON: Look in Alabama, where there was a primary tonight. All the
money was with the mainstream candidate. He`s probably going to lose to
the Tea Party guy with no money.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know what? I think there`s a lot of evidence
tonight in Virginia that the Tea Party is not the -- the king caucus that
we thought it was.
Anyway, thank you, John Feehery. Thank you, Steve McMahon. This
debate will go on for three years.
Up next, Reince Priebus -- there`s a genius -- wants you to think that
President Obama has created a culture of hatred.
Hey, buddy? Hey, Reince, didn`t you start a 36-state effort to
suppress the black vote? I wouldn`t call anybody the culture of hatred.
By the way, that`s too sophisticated a term for you.
And when we come -- we are going to return back with more returns of
the Virginia`s governor`s race. Still too early to call, but McAuliffe has
the lead in our exit polling in Virginia.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The governor`s race in Virginia is still too early to call, but
according to our exit polling, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has the lead.
There it is.
Now to the Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus. Last night on
FOX, Priebus levied from serious accusations against President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It`s the
culture that the president`s cultivated here, I mean, a culture of
dishonesty, a culture of hatred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, a culture of hatred, choice words from the leader of
the Republican Party, which has been blinded by an obsession to destroy
President Obama`s legitimacy.
But it does -- well, it goes further than that under Priebus. Take a
look at this map. Just this year, under Priebus` sterling leadership,
Republicans in more than 35 states have advanced countless pieces of
legislation designed to restrict voting rights.
According to the Advancement Project, the civil rights group which
tracks voting rights issues. These are voter suppression bills which
disproportionately impact African-Americans and other minorities. Also, I
should say, old people and very young people.
This has been Priebus` calling card, exclusion and division. His
party has alienated minorities with those bills, his party shut down the
government on a pipe dream to kill the Affordable Care Act. And his party
threatened to blow up the economy as a way to destroy the president`s
legacy. That would be the debt ceiling.
Yet in Reince Priebus` world, it`s President Obama who has, according
to him, the culture problem.
Michael Steele was the RNC chairman before Priebus, back when they won
all the time. Jonathan Capehart is opinion writer with "The Washington
Post." Both are MSNBC contributors.
So, let me just go to this, Mr. Chairman.
This -- why would you choose to hit the other party with the exact
same thing you could be easily accused of, which is a culture of -- I`m not
sure you can get a motive here, but certainly an effort to suppress the
vote you know is probably going against you, the black vote. So you can
see they`re just against them because they vote Democrat, nothing to do
with the usual old time prejudices.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, when you start pointing
your fingers like that, you really have to make sure they`re not pointed
back at yourself. In this case, I think the language was incendiary. I
don`t see the basis for it.
I cannot make the case legitimately that this administration has
cultivated hate. Not when as Jonathan will talk about in a moment, you
have, you know, folks with the flags on the front lawn of the White House
that remind us of the old South. So -- and the party was silent on that.
So, I think that kind of rhetoric just belies any effort to really
expand the party because people look at you delegitimize any efforts off of
that, because no one`s buying it, no one`s believe it.
MATTHEWS: You know, I`m not African-American, but I have to tell you.
I think everybody saw "42", the movie about Jackie Robinson, walked away --
did you see it?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: I did not see that.
MATTHEWS: You should, because it`s a great movie. And it`s about a
guy who`s incredibly gifted as an athlete, UCLA graduate, great sportsman
in every field, great athlete, also great baseball player. He gets in the
Major Leagues as the first African-American player, but his biggest
challenge, according to Branch Rickey, his manager, is not to fight back.
I don`t know -- I imagine what it must have been like for the
president of the United States to watch that in the family movie theater --
CAPEHART: The movie theater.
MATTHEWS: -- and I`m sure he did, and watch the guy and said to
himself a thousand times in an hour and a half, that`s what I do every day.
CAPEHART: Right, especially if the first term when he was the first
one, the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office. All eyes are
on him. As I`ve written before and as chairman Steele knows as an African-
American, and especially as an African-American man, the idea of showing
anger, rage, anything -- whether you are garbage collector or you`re
president of the United States is a no-no if you`re an African-American
Now, you know, freed by not having to have to run for re-election, the
president can be more fully himself in staring down the bullies in the
other party who are beating the hell out of him every day as you said
trying to delegitimize him. He can push back. But he`ll push back in his
own sort of understated way.
But the idea that Chairman Priebus would say that the president of the
United States is cultivating a culture of hatred is laughable. And a
little bit precious. When you look at the fact that we are still dealing
with members of Congress, sitting members of Congress, who are saying that
the president -- they entertain the idea of impeaching the president of the
United States because they`re still not quite sure whether he was born
MATTHEWS: I know. And, by the way, there`s another guy running down
in Alabama tonight on the Republican ticket, trying to get a nomination for
Congress down there for the House who basically has terrible things to say
about the president. And basically says he`s from Kenya. With all the
evidence we have, all the paperwork.
Anyway, you could make the argument that a culture of hatred has been
on display at nearly every level of the GOP since Reince Priebus became
chairman two years ago. It`s permeated the grassroots, town halls, state
legislators and the halls of Congress.
Here`s just a recent sampling of what I`m talking about starting with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: As far as Harry Reid is concerned,
listen -- I know you might want to go down that road. I`m not going to
respond to a dirty liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican Brenda Barton, remember this, of
Payson, compared President Obama to Hitler on Facebook. She said, quote,
"Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their
efforts to carry out the effort of "De Fuhrer".
REP. KERRY BENTIVOLO (R), MICHIGAN: I stood 12 feet away from the guy
and listened to him, and I couldn`t stand being there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call upon all of you to wage the second non-
violent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this
president leave town, to get out, to put the Koran -- to put the Koran
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you can do to stop these communist,
tyrannical executive orders laid down by this foreign-born, American-hating
communist. What can you do for me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Yes. There`s always applause for that. You know, that`s
the problem. There`s always applause in those rooms.
STEELE: It is. And that`s sad because when I was chairman, we never
made any of what we did about Barack Obama. It was always about the ideas
and the policies that he was trying to get implemented. So, the fight over
health care, the fight over cap and trade.
And now, we`ve digressed into this personal vehement attack on the
man, on his person. You know, from having the flags to silliness like
MATTHEWS: The Nazi faces. The whole thing.
Anyway, thank you, Michael. In 2010, you won.
Anyway, Jonathan Capehart, thank you, sir.
MATTHEWS: And, of course, Michael Steele.
We continue to follow the returns from Virginia tonight with the race
too early to call. Despite the early raw numbers, we`re seeing it`s
Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the lead. Those are raw numbers. Our polls
show McAuliffe leading.
And coming up at the top of the hour, polls will be closed in New
Jersey where Chris Christie is looking for a big re-elect victory.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Coming up at the top of the hour, polls will be closed in
the state of New Jersey, Alabama, and Massachusetts.
Back with more election results when we return.
MATTHEWS: We`re back and we continue to follow that governor`s race
in Virginia, nearly 50 minutes after polls closed. So far, it`s too early
And based upon our exit poll, we can report that Terry McAuliffe, the
Democrat, has the lead. And despite the early raw numbers we`re seeing
there, he is definitely ahead in our polling.
Howard Fineman is the editorial director for "The Huffington Post"
Media Group and an MSNBC analyst. And E.J. Dionne is a "Washington Post"
columnist and MSNBC contributor.
We`re working the early edition tonight, gentlemen, and that means
we`re going to have to look at where this thing early or where it`s going.
I will suggest that come tomorrow morning`s newspapers, all the big papers
across the country, and every county chairman of the Republican Party
chairman and the Democratic Party chairman will be looking at those
One will be the victory of Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey.
That`s going to happen. And the other victory is going to be of Terry
Those pictures are going to say something, the absolute humiliating
defeat by Cuccinelli is going to say something. I think it`s going to say,
watch out, Americans don`t like zealots, they don`t like extremists, left
or right. But especially right now, they`re afraid of the right.
You`re views, E.J. Dionne. That will be the headlines.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, the right wing of
the party said, you know, Romney didn`t win because he was too moderate.
Well, they got their conservative in Virginia and he`s going to run, it
looks like, worse than Mitt Romney.
And if you look at the exit polling, this is an overwhelming rejection
of the Tea Party. The voters opposed to the Tea Party, just flocked to
Terry McAuliffe. Moderate voters voted overwhelmingly for Terry McAuliffe.
I think one exception is going to be New York City, where you`re going
to have a very progressive guy, Bill de Blasio, wins tonight. And so, in
some sense, I think the whole spectrum of the country moves a little bit to
the left to where people thought it was the day before.
MATTHEWS: Because of all the noisemakers.
DIONNE: Yes, because the Republican Party is going to have to move to
the center, and the Democrats are moving a little bit.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I think that Boehner has been so afraid of the
right because he needs 218, 217 to get anything done. So he`s also been
leaning over and look at the craziest right and they have somewhat, the
tail has been wagging the dog.
Now, we`re getting more of a picture of the dog. And it includes a
big portion of the Republican -- well, it`s an elephant. Let`s call it is
what it is, centrist conservative.
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. And if John Boehner is
looking at these exit polls from both Virginia and New Jersey, he`ll see
And as E.J. said, the dog is the moderate voter -- self-described
moderates who make up the biggest plurality of voters in both states, in
both Virginia and New Jersey. Voted by about a two to one margins in both
states for Terry McAuliffe and Christie.
So, there`s the dog. There`s the elephant and the donkey right there,
Number two, I find it fascinating in both states. If you look at the
numbers on the health care law, on Obamacare, which Rush Limbaugh and Ted
Cruz think is this political stick of dynamite that`s going to blow up
America, the fact that both states, it`s a push and it`s not the political
disaster that Ted Cruz and the Tea Party think it is.
MATTHEWS: Look at that number, 47 percent support.
Anyway, we`ll be welcome back with more with Howard and E.J. in just a
MATTHEWS: We`re back with NBC`s Chuck Todd, "Huffington Post`s"
Howard Fineman, and E.J. Dionne of "The Washington Post."
Let`s go to Chuck Todd over in Virginia, across the river. Chuck, do
you see the beginnings of a headline for tomorrow as we try to analyze the
total picture we`re getting right now?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Look, I think the total picture is going to be
Cuccinelli versus Christie, right, and the two paths that they took to
their campaigns. You know, nothing is over here in Virginia. You never
know, you got to wait until all the votes are counted.
But if the exit poll is headed in that direction, and you see where
Christie did, I think you`re going to have the establishment wing of the
Republican Party, because this happened in their backyard in Virginia and
see the results, particularly in northern Virginia, and they`re going to
say it`s time to push back on the Tea Party wing of the party that`s doing
damage, because when you look at -- you know, President Obama is not in a
great position right now. He is not the Democratic Party is not in a great
So, they should have been in a place to win and if they don`t, then
they`ve got internal strife that they got to deal with.
MATTHEWS: Last 20 seconds for you, E.J., 20 seconds.
DIONNE: The Tea Party is over, the Republican Party has a hangover
and the people who didn`t drink the tea like Chris Christie are OK tonight.
MATTHEWS: Howard, 20 seconds.
DIONNE: I think Virginia is, as I say, the new Ohio. It`s the
indication of where American politics is headed. If it rejects the Tea
Party, as it looks like they`re going to do, that`s something that John
Boehner and Mitch McConnell need to pay close attention to.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. It`s been quite a night. It looks like a
very interesting night.
I agree with both my colleagues here. It looks like a message is
being sent strongly to the mainstream of the Republican Party. If you want
to win elections, if you want to win elections, pay close attention.
Thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Chuck Todd. Thank you, E.J.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Polls will be closed in New Jersey in just a moment, a few seconds.
So, we`re about to get our first look at the New Jersey governor`s race.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" start right now.
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