'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Friday, February 28th, 2014

February 28, 2014

Guests: Amanda Terkel, Clarence Page, Jay Newton-Small, James Lipton, Ann

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Coming out fighting.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Tomorrow`s March. The months of
2014 are being torn from the calendar as we move inexorably to November and
that dawning election for Congress, especially the U.S. Senate, where the
Democrats, the president`s party, lie perilously close to defeat, and with
it the loss of all legislative control by the president.

Well, tonight, the president himself blew the bugle. He`s jumping
into the fight to save the power he, as president, needs to have for him to
complete his agenda between now and 2016, and well before that, really,
with the compelling campaign news crowding in before that.

Well, the message from the president focused all the fire he has on
rousing the people who voted for him twice for president. Actually, he`s
the only candidate since Eisenhower in the 1950s to win a sound majority of
51 percent of the vote on two occasions.

He`s doing this on the basis of two great facts, that on so many
issues, the Democratic Party does hold the popular position, that and the
hard fact that the Republican Party continues to be vulnerable on the
charge that it cares hardly at all for that infamous, or famous, 47 percent
that Mitt Romney banished so cleanly from his and his party`s scope of


offering a theory of the economy that time and again has failed America.
They think we should drastically reduce or eliminate the safety net for
more people. We`re seeing that right now played out in the debate about
unemployment insurance.

They`ll even shut down the government or threaten the full faith and
credit of our country when they don`t get their way. And if we do all
these things, they are convinced that the economy will thrive and jobs and
prosperity will trickle down to everybody. That`s what they believe. And
they have a right to hold those beliefs, but the American people know
better because what they`re offering is not a new theory.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me right now to discuss the president`s words
you just heard delivered late this afternoon are David Corn of "Mother
Jones" and Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The
Washington Post." Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Gene, I want to talk to you first about this. This is really basic
Democratic talk. The only thing that makes it really different is the sort
of positive morale officer role he`s playing, which is to say, We`re on the
popular side of these issues.

He`s saying, We`re on the popular side. More people agree with us than
agree with the Republicans. So let`s get out there. Let`s fight.

And the rallying cry for the people assembled in that hall, the
Democratic National Committee, who are going to go out and go back to their
states and work, is to get the voters out, to get the Democratic voters
out, young people, African-Americans...

MATTHEWS: The people that normally -- and what -- what...

ROBINSON: ... Latinos, who normally don`t vote...

MATTHEWS: In -- in...

ROBINSON: ... in large numbers in off-year elections.

MATTHEWS: He`s got a party. The Democratic Party of Barack Obama is
a fabulous party. I saw the statistics the other day. It never occurred
to me. He`s the only guy since Eisenhower, who was a war hero, won the
Second World War, to get two 51 percents. He didn`t just get it once. He
got it twice. So he`s delivered an electorate.


MATTHEWS: Can he do it again the third time?

CORN: It`s a coalition between all these type of voters we`ve been
talking about. What Barack Obama has been trying to do since the Tea Party
election of 2010 is to make the fight between Democrats and Republicans a
national battle about values, in which everybody has some skin in the game
because of some interests, and put together this coalition.

He did it wonderfully for 2012, and Mitt Romney was the ideal
candidate because he could come up with this value distinction. Whether he
can nationalize a -- you know, a midterm election on the second part of his
presidency is really a high...

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what he needs...

CORN: ... a high challenge here.

MATTHEWS: Does he need Mitt Romney to come back and say 47 percent


MATTHEWS: ... have some bartender catching him doing it?


ROBINSON: Or if Mitt doesn`t come back, somebody else can step in.

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s got to find somebody to make that point.

ROBINSON: But the other thing they can do is exploit the edge that
the Democratic Party has in the mechanics of getting out the vote, in
targeting and identifying...

MATTHEWS: It`s the best there ever was.

ROBINSON: ... tracking voters. And...

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll get to the issues, too. They have another
advantage. A lot of these issues, like minimum wage, are right there for

Here`s more from the president tonight speaking to the DNC, just a few
minutes ago, talking about women. Let`s watch.


OBAMA: At a time when women make up half of our workforce, it`s an
outrage that women can still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

This isn`t 1954, it`s 2014! A woman deserves equal pay for equal

I saw some Republicans in Congress brought in outside aides to teach
them how to talk to women.


OBAMA: It is unclear how they`ve gotten this far without that
particular skill. The problem isn`t how they talk about their policies,
the problem is their policies!



MATTHEWS: God, it`s like Richard Burton, "How to Handle a Woman," you
know? But it`s pretty funny. So he`s still got his game, right?

CORN: Oh, he sounded like Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon...


CORN: ... doing that. It was -- I mean, he`s -- you know, you go
through that speech, and he`s -- he`s trying to appeal to all these
components of this coalition, women probably the biggest component, but

MATTHEWS: Who are the most voters?

CORN: ... Latinos and -- women vote more than anybody else. And you
know, we had the whole war on women and all those silly Republican rape

MATTHEWS: Do you think that one of these days...

CORN: ... last time around.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the Ted Cruzes...

CORN: He wanted people to remember that.

MATTHEWS: ... the real ferocious right-wing people out there, who are
pretty nasty -- do you think they particularly turn off and maybe turn on
women voters to go vote against them? They particularly don`t like these
guys on issues, not just abortion, but all the range of issues. They come
off as very nasty.

CORN: Well, women tend to be more liberal voters, as well. So if
you`re talking about minimum wage, you`re talking about, you know,
preserving, you know, health care options for people, women respond to that
more than men do. They care more about climate change. So the more that
Ted Cruz is out there, you know...


CORN: ... slamming the issues...

MATTHEWS: OK, Gene, let`s talk...

CORN: ... the worse for the party.

MATTHEWS: ... tough demographics, the old (INAUDIBLE) problem.
South, white men in the South, where you come from -- the white guys are
like, what, 4 or 5 to 1 Republican now?

ROBINSON: Oh, yes, they...

MATTHEWS: They don`t even have to have registration cards! They walk
around, you know they`re Republicans! So...

ROBINSON: Right. So...

MATTHEWS: How does he get them?

ROBINSON: ... that demographic is not Democratic. The votes are not
there. But the votes -- look at a state like North Carolina with, you
know, a huge African-American population, a growing Latino population...

MATTHEWS: Yes, it is.

ROBINSON: ... a state that has gone for Barack Obama. You know, Kay
Hagan is imperiled in the -- senator in North Carolina. If you get the
right voters out, you can save that state.

MATTHEWS: Also, if you can get out Chapel Hill to vote, too.

ROBINSON: Yes. But you`re not going to find -- yes, but -- yes...

CORN: You got to get -- but you got to get...

ROBINSON: You got to get about 100 percent turnout in Chapel Hill!

CORN: You got to get -- you got to get every vote you can. Now, they
have Jim Messina and other people out there who know how to do this. And
we saw last time around, the Republicans in 2012 were completely hapless
when it came to...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s look at the good news for the Democrats. Let`s
look at the issues that the president thinks -- these are interesting. The
latest (INAUDIBLE) facing a challenge in landscape, of course, in November.
But when it comes to almost every major issue, the majority of Americans
actually do -- this is so ironic, given the sort of the bad morale out
there for the Dems -- nearly two thirds want the minimum wage raised to
$10.10 -- two thirds of the country!

On the Affordable Care Act, the majority of Americans do say they
don`t want to get rid of it. They don`t want to repeal it. They`d rather
fix it. This is not Republican orthodoxy here.

A large majority say the government has a role to play in reducing
income inequality. That`s not a Republican bugle call. More Republicans
blame -- more Americans blame Republicans, rather than Democrats, for the
economic situation in the country. A majority of Americans support same-
sex marriage. Yes, they do. That`s changed. And a majority also supports
allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country and apply for
citizenship as part of a comprehensive deal.

And when it comes to gun laws in the country, more than half want
stricter regulations. Only 9 percent say the laws should be less strict.
Anyway, 36 percent say they should be kept as they are.

And yet despite all that, the mood in the country might be that voters
want to say no this November. And that`s my question. The latest "New
York Times"/CBS poll, only 32 percent say they think the country`s headed
in the right direction. And that`s key.

In other words, on all the separate issues, if you break them out,
Gene, Democrat. But if you say, What`s the mood?

ROBINSON: What`s the mood and...

MATTHEWS: That`s -- that`s the -- how does he -- how does he trump
the mood with the facts?

ROBINSON: Right. And is it easier to get people to actually come out
to the polls to vote, you know, for something they`re against or something
that they fear...

MATTHEWS: It`s easy.

ROBINSON: ... rather than, you know, yes, I think this is a good
idea, I think that`s a good idea...



MATTHEWS: ... isn`t most election a binary election, yes or no. And
he`s got to fight that.

CORN: What he`s trying to do here is say, again, this is a choice
election between Democrats and Republicans. The Republicans want it to be
a referendum on people`s...


CORN: ... bad feelings. But a lot of this is just based on where the
elections are. A lot of these Senate seats are in the South...

MATTHEWS: Red states.

CORN: ... in these areas that are very hard...

MATTHEWS: That voted against Obama. Well, anyway, listen to the
president here. I think he`s doing something clever, poaching the
Republicans` favorite buzzword, "opportunity." He`d better grab it, and
he`s doing it. Let`s watch.


OBAMA: The choice could not be clearer, opportunity for a few or
opportunity for all. That`s what this election`s about. As Democrats, we
have a different idea of what the future looks like, an idea rooted in our
conviction that our economy grows best not from the top down, but from the
middle up. That`s what an opportunity agenda offers.


MATTHEWS: So it`s not opportunity versus welfare. It`s opportunity
for everybody compared to everybody just for the top.

ROBINSON: Just for a few, right.

MATTHEWS: So can you grab that word from Frank Luntz, whoever grabbed
it before?

ROBINSON: You know, words belong to everybody. So he took that one
back. He also took back the word "freedom." He said, We`ve let the other
side decide define what "freedom" means for too long, and he went to give -
- you know, the Democratic Party`s definition of "freedom." You know, I
hope he continues this. These are good words.


ROBINSON: They ought to belong to everybody.

MATTHEWS: ... does he go in the ring or is he the guy with the towel
over his shoulder in the corner?


MATTHEWS: Is he that guy? Is he Mickey (ph) or is he Rocky?


CORN: The Democrats need someone to make this overarching argument,
him, Bill Clinton and a few others...


CORN: ... and then see if it can take root in some of these
individual races. This is all...

MATTHEWS: Can he be the Democrats` chief cheerleader to save the

CORN: Well, it`s going to be hard in North Carolina and some Southern



ROBINSON: You need a line of cheerleaders, right? So you need the
president. You need Bill Clinton...


MATTHEWS: ... as I said, he`s coming out fighting, which is big news
for the progressives in this country, and there are lot of them out there
who need to vote. David Corn, thank you, and thank you, Eugene Robinson.

Coming up, the "bridge-gate" tapes. Wait`ll you hear these, the 911
calls from people stuck in that epic George Washington Bridge traffic.
What a jam they`re in. Ambulances couldn`t get through. They wouldn`t
show (ph) up (ph) -- the fender-benders. Well, tonight, the picture of
chaos and confusion created in the name of political revenge.

Also, don`t look now, but the Hillary Clinton campaign`s already
revving up out there. Here`s the deal. Hillary does the policy, Bill does
the politics, and anyone who wants to can get into that rapid response.

Anyway, plus, bathroom humor from the Speaker of the House. Actually,
boys` room. Hard to believe, but John Boehner actually made fun of his own
name. I`m sure he heard these jokes in high school. Its the way -- well,
it`s the way 13-year-old boys would enjoy it.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with how President Obama is better on
fiscal responsibility than the cheap shot folks who attack him. Wait`ll
you hear this stuff. It`s factual.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, now that Debbie Dingell has announced she`ll run for
the House seat that her husband, John Dingell, held for 30 terms, she has
one overwhelming advantage, that last name.

Consider this. Congressman John Dingell, the current congressman, who
announced his retirement earlier this week, first won election to the House
of Representatives back in 1955. He won a special election that year to
fill the seat which was held by his father, John Dingell, Sr., who had
died. The elder Dingell was in Congress since 1933. So that`s more than
80 years with a Dingell in Congress from that district. And Debbie`s
stepping to the plate. That name means a lot in those Detroit suburbs.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. "The traffic is a nightmare." Well,
those are the words of one New Jersey paramedics dispatcher on September
9th of last year, day one of the George Washington Bridge lane closure
scandal that we now know as "bridge-gate."

New police and emergency responder radio transmissions were released
this day -- today by the municipal clerk of the city of Fort Lee. And they
paint such a crippling picture of chaos that they make Bridget Kelly`s now
famous description of "traffic problems" sound like an understatement. The
burden, of course, fell on the shoulders of Fort Lee`s municipal employees,
who struggled to navigate ambulances and emergency vehicles through the
gridlock. It`s firsthand evidence of how the politically motivated lane
closures ordered by Governor Christie`s deputy chief of staff affected real
people in need.

Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2-11, Fawley (ph) traffic is a nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The GW bridge is totally gridlocked, if you can
come up maybe Fawley (ph) Road or something to that effect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 10-4. We`re getting calls from irate motorists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re aware the town is a total gridlock, right?


MATTHEWS: There`s a lot of these tapes, and here now to talk about
them and the ongoing investigation is NBC`s chief investigative
correspondent, Michael Isikoff, and Amanda Terkel, who`s senior political
reporter with the HuffingtonPost. Thank you...

Michael, you`ve been on this case. And how`s this going to be used?
What`s the significance of actually hearing the voices of the -- we`re
going to show...


MATTHEWS: ... play some more of this in a few minutes.

ISIKOFF: Well, look, Chris, if there`s ever a criminal case that
comes out of all this, they`ll be playing these tapes in the opening

MATTHEWS: For the jury?

ISIKOFF: Yes, for the jury. It`s how you make it real, show -- you
know, you hear people talking about gridlock.

But now, to be fair and in perspective, you know, what the defense
will do at that very point is then get out the tapes, 100 other tapes, from
911 tapes over the period of the last few years, and you`ll see that this
is not all that unusual.

MATTHEWS: Right. Sure. But let`s go to this call that grabbed me,
or a juror, I think. Here`s a call from a frustrated woman who had called
-- already called 911 once, and was still waiting for the ambulance to
arrive. Let`s listen to this call.


911 OPERATOR: 911. Where is your emergency?


911 OPERATOR: I know. Is this for 1345 South...


911 OPERATOR: All right, they`re on your way. You only called a
couple of minutes ago. They`re on their way, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you know, it`s an emergency, and they are
not still here.

911 OPERATOR: I know. I know.


911 OPERATOR: They`re on their way.


911 OPERATOR: All right. `Bye.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a person rather pathetically, in real life,
Amanda, trying to get the ambulance to show up that normally would have
gotten there, presumably. And there you have this traffic gridlock. It
doesn`t get through.

AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST: And it was causing problems for the
dispatchers, too. Not only were they having to deal with the normal calls
coming in -- and there are a lot of them -- but now there are also all
these calls coming in about traffic from angry motorists.

And remember, a 91-year-old woman died while she was waiting for first
responders. Her family said they don`t blame Chris Christie. But this was
just causing all sorts of problems. There are accidents. There are people
angry, traffic, and certainly, closing down these lanes without telling
anyone why made it a lot harder.

MATTHEWS: I wonder if there`s other case -- Well, let`s take another
one we have on the tape here, which was made available today. The traffic
jam -- it didn`t just cause delays, as you suggest, but accidents began to
pile up, fender-benders. Here`s a 911 call from one of those accidents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put on your hazards!

911 OPERATOR: 911. Where`s your emergency?


911 OPERATOR: 911. Where`s your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m on the George Washington Bridge. I was just
in a car accident. We were rear-ended.

911 OPERATOR: Upper level or the lower level?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The upper level. We`re in the right lane.

911 OPERATOR: Upper level. What direction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re heading into the city.


MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the politics and the legal concerns. I`m
sitting there -- I often try to think about what it`s like to be somebody
in one of these horrible cases. Now you`re Bridget Kelly, right?


MATTHEWS: For all I know, she`s a political operative and regular
person of the usual moral bent of any political operative, who does what
they like to do in the interests of the boss, generally, and their party.
She`s watching this with us maybe tonight.


MATTHEWS: She`s watching her as the bad guy. She`s the one who wrote
the e-mail that said "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."


MATTHEWS: She`s got her fingerprints right on this with that e-mail.


MATTHEWS: She -- is she facing criminal charges here? Is there a
body of a crime here? If you say -- if it come downs to the evidence that
someone purposely screwed up traffic on the major artery between New Jersey
and New York, a big interstate, and did it on purpose for four straight
days deliberately, is that a crime? Do we know that yet?

ISIKOFF: Look, it...

MATTHEWS: And if so, she`s got to blow the whistle the other


MATTHEWS: She`s going to blame it on somebody above her.

ISIKOFF: Look, I`ve talked to a lot of lawyers about this, and the
consensus is it`s going to be tough to make a federal case about this.



ISIKOFF: But there is a New Jersey state statue...

MATTHEWS: That`s Bridge Kelly you`re looking at there.

ISIKOFF: Yes, a New Jersey -- that is an official corruption statute
that has been used multiple times against -- and it`s a broadly worded
statute about misusing government power, and that that`s probably the
statute that most directly applies here.

The question is, who is going to prosecute the case? If the U.S.
attorney, Paul Fishman, doesn`t bring criminal charges because he has a
hard time finding a federal statute, what he would likely do is refer to it
to New Jersey attorney general`s office. As it happens, the New Jersey
attorney general...

MATTHEWS: Doesn`t the federal government regulate interstate

ISIKOFF: Yes, it can. That`s what Patrick Foye originally suggested,
the Bridge Act. But people who have looked at the statute...


ISIKOFF: ... says it talks about extortion and other things that may
not apply in this case, because, remember, we don`t know all the facts. We
don`t know what was really motivating...


MATTHEWS: OK. Go back to the state law.

ISIKOFF: All right.

MATTHEWS: What`s going to happen in Trenton?

ISIKOFF: So, get to -- so, you get to the state law.

The attorney general is -- in New Jersey is appointed by the governor.
He reports directly to the governor. It`s not an elected position, like it
is in most other states. Right now, there isn`t even a -- there is only an
acting attorney general.

The guy who Christie had nominated to be attorney general was Kevin
O`Dowd, his chief of staff...

MATTHEWS: Chief of staff.

ISIKOFF: ... the guy -- very guy who he appointed who was designated
to find out what was going on here and told him there was no issue.

They had to pull the O`Dowd nomination. There isn`t even a nominee
now to become New Jersey attorney general.


MATTHEWS: But, usually, the civil servant who is waiting there...

ISIKOFF: There`s an acting. There`s an acting.

MATTHEWS: ... they tend to be pretty nonpartisan.

ISIKOFF: Yes, yes. No indication yet.


ISIKOFF: We don`t know how this is going to play out.

MATTHEWS: I think the world is watching. They better be careful.

Last thought, Amanda. This -- these tapes, it certainly gives you
reality here, doesn`t it?


And remember that there`s just more than just these tapes. People
were calling in to the Port Authority too and complaining. One woman said
that her husband was 40 minutes late for his new job after being out of
work for a year.

And these tapes -- if Chris Christie decides to run for higher office,
I`m sure you will hear these tapes played over and over again. And who
knows how many angry motorists are going to be lined up ready to talk about
what a nightmare it was and why you shouldn`t trust Chris Christie in a
management job.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you think.


MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Amanda Terkel.

And thank you, Michael Isikoff, a great reporter.

Up next: Speaker of the House John Boehner doesn`t have the easiest
last name to pronounce. It`s German, I guess. And when one reporter
called him by the wrong name, Boehner actually went there, to that other
pronunciation. That`s next in the "Sideshow." It`s kind of fun.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And time for the "Sideshow."

It`s the fourth anniversary of first lady Michelle Obama`s Let`s Move
campaign. And to celebrate, you could say President Obama and Vice
President Biden both took a victory lap, literally.


ready to move?

this thing. Let`s move.


BIDEN: Man, you`re hard to keep up with.

B. OBAMA: You did great out there. After a good workout, you got to
drink up.

BIDEN: All right.

B. OBAMA: Otherwise, we`re going to be in trouble with Jill and

BIDEN: Just let Michelle know I did drink this, all right?

B. OBAMA: Same time next week?

BIDEN: Same time next week.


MATTHEWS: It looks like a beer commercial.

Anyway, actually, it`s the second Let`s Move video released this week.
The first lady also joined comedian Will Ferrell to lead a focus group with
children about healthy eating and exercise. And while kids do say the
darndest things, so does Will Ferrell. And, as you will see, the kids
ended up schooling him.


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Also, is diet cola, is that a vegetable?



FERRELL: What`s to funny?



FERRELL: No, you`re funny.

If I eat a great diet six days a week, but on Sunday, I eat nothing
but candy, is that OK?





UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It could get you a little bit sick.


FERRELL: So I`m going to stop doing it.

M. OBAMA: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: You -- you did it?

FERRELL: Yes. Oh, yes.


FERRELL: For about two years now.

M. OBAMA: Tell us, who is your favorite comedian?



UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: That`s mine too, because I watch (INAUDIBLE)
show. He`s funny.

M. OBAMA: Anybody else?

FERRELL: Yes, anybody else?

You`re lucky I didn`t ask them who their favorite first lady is.


MATTHEWS: Finally, some boys room humor made its way into a
congressional briefing yesterday. John Boehner is certainly used to people
mispronouncing his name.

But take a look at how the speaker corrected a reporter after the
reporter accidentally addressed him as Congressman Dave Camp.



QUESTION: Mr. Camp -- I mean, sorry. Mr. Speaker.

BOEHNER: "Boner. Boner."


QUESTION: You can tell what`s been on my mind.

Mr. Speaker, I apologize.


MATTHEWS: I`m sure he heard that in high school more than once.

Up next: The Clinton campaign machine is revving up, with Hillary on
the policy, Bill doing politics, and a rapid response team already in high
gear. That`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Richard Lui. Here`s what`s

Here is what is happening.

President Obama warning Russia today against military intervention in
the Ukraine, saying there will be costs, this after Russian forces took
over two airports in Crimea.

Kerry Kennedy expressing gratitude in New York after she was found not
guilty of driving while drugged. Kennedy says she accidentally took a
sleeping pill.

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has been ruled accidental,
officials saying the actor died of an acute mix of heroin and other drugs -
- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, there`s still 884 days left until Election Day 2016, but the
Clinton machine is already revving up. Everyone`s got their part. As
NBC`s First Read puts it, Hillary will talk policy and be the statesman.
Bill will be the campaigner. And the PAC, the political action committee,
will handle rapid response.

Well, this week, we saw it all take shape. Today, the rapid response
team went into action when the Clinton-leaning interest group American
Bridge, a PAC founded by David Brock of Media Matters, took aim at Rand
Paul for dredging up the 1990s with this new Web -- here is part of it,
this Web ad.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Trust me. I was there the first time
we litigated this, and Americans didn`t want to hear it then. This is just
sheer insanity.

going to work because it`s ancient and it`s old news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole thing is ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Senator Rand Paul to try to relitigate the
`90s, short-term fun perhaps for Republicans, but it`s not a long-term
winning strategy for Republicans. I mean, let`s all go back and dance the
Macarena and talk about 1998.


MATTHEWS: Well, we will see if that works.

On Tuesday, Bill, the campaigner -- that`s the former president -- hit
the trail in Kentucky for Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.


Kentucky. You have been good to me. You have voted for me twice. You
have been great to Hillary. I love Kentucky.



MATTHEWS: I love Kentucky.

Anyway, finally, on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton gave a rousing
speech at the University of Miami, hitting on themes of leadership.


the governor of Arizona has vetoed the discriminatory legislation that was


H. CLINTON: Recognizing that inclusive leadership is really what the
21st century is all about.


MATTHEWS: Well, Clarence Page is a columnist for "The Chicago
Tribune," and Jay Newton-Small covers politics for "TIME" magazine.

In fact, I hear you will be covering this campaign already.

lot to cover already two years out.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the coordination of this whole


MATTHEWS: ... because there is still the question out there, which I
will put to you. Is there anybody out there in this operation, whether
it`s David Brock, who runs this sort of rapid response team or opposition
research to some extent, all that tough guy stuff that is real politics, do
any of them doubt that Hillary Clinton is running for president?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, if she is not running for president, then there`s
going to be a lot of very angry donors who are already giving hundreds of
thousands, if not millions of dollars to support all of these groups that
are especially her shadow campaign.

So, at some point, she either has to say stop spending all this money
on my behalf, or she is going to have to say, OK, I`m running.

MATTHEWS: And Bill Clinton is out there. Is he acting like his wife,
the former first lady, the former senator, former secretary of state is
running? Is he acting like it?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, he is out there rebuilding all of those political
favors, that political machine that they had when he was in office and when
she was a senator, and all those chits that they called in for her last
presidential campaign, which then they sort of used up, and then she
couldn`t actually rebuild because she was secretary of state and she
couldn`t do politics.

Now they`re rebuilding that political structure, where they`re going
to have all of these politicians across America owing them favors. And
what is that useful for? That`s useful for running for president.

MATTHEWS: Clarence, I`m always a skeptic. It`s what I enjoy being, I
have to tell you. You know that. You know me.


MATTHEWS: And I`m questioning this.

When people like Lanny Davis, the best friend Bill Clinton ever had,
and David Brock, the best friend Hillary Clinton ever had, and Sid
Blumenthal, the best friend either one of them ever had, and all these
outriders that you hear about reading the paper, quoted all the time, are
they working with the Clintons, or are they just loyal to them without any
requirement of any kind of leadership?

They just instinctively work for the Clintons. They instinctively
espouse their views, sell them when they can on television or in print. Is
there an organization here that is led by the Clintons?

say, everybody does know their role, everybody knows their place. There is
lots of networking. There`s lots of shared thinking.

So it`s not necessary to have day-to-day orders going around. There
are various ways that it can be conveyed that you`re doing the right thing
out there or that you`re helping the general cause.

Remember, Bill Clinton was the ultimate coalition-builder on the left.


PAGE: There is nobody else around who is -- who comes as close.

And so, naturally, people know where their interests are. They
gravitate toward the Clintons.

MATTHEWS: You mean they`re self-Clintonized.

PAGE: Well, yes.

MATTHEWS: There is no phone call coming from Bill or Hillary, the
former president and first lady?

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: There is nobody -- you covered -- I want to go back to Jay.

Do they ever come up and say, Lanny, stop it, or, Lanny, do it, or,
David, a little lighter here, a little less tough or more tough? There is
no communication? They self-recruit themselves and they play these roles?
This is what I`m trying to find out here.

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, you know, I was told...

MATTHEWS: Is there a Clinton campaign?

NEWTON-SMALL: There is a shadow Clinton campaign, for sure. But it`s
so detached from the actual inner circle of the Clinton world, that they`re
so distanced from it. It`s -- you can`t say there is an official campaign.



One thing we know, every time somebody takes a shot at Bill Clinton or
Hillary Clinton, the operation run by David Brock is right on the job, and
ferociously so.

For example, Senator Rand Paul, the first target of a Web ad from the
Clinton-leaning PAC American Bridge, has done more to revive memories of
the Clinton impeachment era than any other potential 2016 Republican
candidate. But he has also called for more inclusive -- inclusive GOP.

At yesterday`s Tea Party anniversary event, Rand Paul even took on Ted
Nugent without saying his name. Let`s listen.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We have to reach out to more people,
not just those of us here. It has to be a bigger party. It has to be a
bigger movement.

There are times -- and I don`t think it is our movement, but there are
times when people are using language that shouldn`t be used. And I
recently criticized someone for using some of that language, and I`m not
going to bring it up. But I will say that we can disagree with the
president without calling him names.


MATTHEWS: But you can go back to that president, Bill Clinton,
according to Rand Paul, and talk about Monica and impeachment and all the
mess, all the mess and rest, and also talk about it being an example of him
being a predator.

I mean, it`s interesting how he defines terms. We`re not going to be
derogatory. We`re not going to call people names. But we are going to
regularly remind people of Bill Clinton having been impeached and why.

That seems to be the new shape of the battlefield, according to Rand
Paul. And I do think he will be the nominee.

Your thoughts, Clarence.

PAGE: Well, no matter how he phrases it, it`s obviously what is going
on. He is still building up the base. He is really battling Ted Cruz
right now for -- for...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so.

PAGE: ... dominance in the right-wing base, and, later, for the
moderate voters, because moderate swing voters aren`t impressed by all this
nostalgia for the `90s or his apparently -- apparent wrist slaps to Ted
Nugent, who has already apologized for his own remarks.


PAGE: Well, it`s -- this is a case where Rand Paul is still building
up his own image out there with the Republican base.

MATTHEWS: Well, the terrible things that Ted Nugent says are only
there for one reason, to prove he is still alive.


MATTHEWS: He`s still around.

PAGE: Of course.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.

I want to go, Jay -- I want to go quickly to you. We only have a
little time here. My question is this. This week, Joe Biden, cover of
Politico, a great piece, by the way.

NEWTON-SMALL: Wonderful.

MATTHEWS: Everybody likes it. Everybody is talking about it. He is
talking about it. I have been smelling this thing for a couple of days.
He is up to it.

He wants to be taken seriously as a challenger to Hillary. Tough
question. Do you think you can answer this? This is a really tough one?


MATTHEWS: Does Hillary want him -- to run against him as a sparring
partner to get her in shape for the general, or would she prefer she had a
clear field? This is a tough question. I don`t know the answer. What do
you think?


MATTHEWS: What do you know?

NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, I`m not inside Hillary`s mind, but I would
imagine you don`t want to be the anointed person. You don`t want to run

MATTHEWS: So, she would like a sparring fight?

NEWTON-SMALL: It`s good to have a fight. It`s good for the
Democratic Party, it`s good for the Republican Party, it`s good for
everybody to have some sort of debate about the issues.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. I think Jimmy Carter might have
beaten Ronald Reagan had he gone into the fight with Ted Kennedy instead of
using the Rose Garden to stay out of that fight. I think people want to
see a fight, even if it`s fighting with Dan Rather like Bush Sr. did.

Clarence, I`m a big believer, you got a warm-up for the fight, you
can`t take on the general election without a really good pre-spring fight.
But I don`t know what Hillary thinks. What do you know? Does she want to
take on Joe Biden on his turf and her turf which is the same turf?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, if they`re going to have that
elevated debate that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had in 2008, rather
than going for the jugular, you remember how Al Gore really undercut
Michael Dukakis with the -- bring up Willie Horton in the primary. That`s
kind of going to the jugular that you want to watch out for.

MATTHEWS: That`s good memory there. It was Al Gore that brought up
Willie Horton. Not the Republicans.

PAGE: Even in my old age, I remember.

MATTHEWS: Ha, ha! That`s a nugget, sir.

Thank you, Clarence Page, and thank you, Jay Newton-Small. Have a
good weekend both of you.

Up next, HARDBALL goes Hollywood. The year`s Academy Awards are
dominated by movies that are based on real events, and in many cases
political events. We`re going to be joined by the great James Lipton from
"Inside the Actors Studio" in just a few minutes.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Five years after the birth of the Tea Party, just under a
quarter of Americans say they`re Tea Party supporters. Let`s check that
HARDBALL scoreboard.

According to our latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 24
percent of Americans says they consider themselves Tea Party supporters.
That`s down from an all-time high of 30 percent.

But it`s up four points from our October poll when only 20 percent
said they supported the Tea Party movement. Of course, that poll was taken
during the government shutdown, caused by the Tea Party. Hmm.

We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know where I was recently? I was in
(INAUDIBLE) car. I saw your nail polish.

He put a bag over my head. Are you happy now? Because he is trying
to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you talking about?


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was a scene from the great film "American Hustle", one of the
nominees in contention for best picture at the Academy Awards coming up
Sunday night.

Well, six out of nine contenders for best picture are based on real
events. In addition to "American Hustle", "Captain Phillips", of course,
"Dallas Buyers Club", Philomena", "12 Years a Slave" and "The Wolf of Wall
Street" are all based on reality.

We`re joined right now by two experts in the film business to talk
about why real life events are driving so many feature films these days,
the great James Lipton. He`s host of "Inside the Actors Studio". And Ann
Hornaday, who I read religiously. She`s with "The Washington Post", as the
film critic here.

James, thank you for joining us.

I dig this. The interesting movies seem to be -- I mean, six of the
nine are based on reality. Two of the top contenders are definitely based
on reality, including my favorite, which is "American Hustle." why? What
is it about? Movies about today, no matter when the movie is about, it`s
always about today. Why are we going back into history to find out
something about today in these movies and not to fiction?

JAMES LIPTON, INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: Well, motion pictures have
always dealt with history. Motion pictures are our history. A hundred
years from now, they`ll be looking at the motion pictures to find out what
you and I were saying tonight. That`s what -- one of the things that
movies do. The drama has always been, so has comedy, of course, they have
always been a history of our times. And films record it forever.

And so, it`s inevitable, I think, that there would be a great deal of
reality in the films that we`re make today. And there were.

Look at the 1930s, for heaven`s sake. Even the comedies helped us get
through the `30s by helping us forget them. Astaire and Rogers danced us
through the `30s, at the same time they`re making great films about the
political issues that we`re facing us at that difficult time. Film, drama,
comedy, they`re all about today, all about us, all about now.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s a classic, this "American Hustle."

But I want to talk about corruption. I guess right now if you look,
you work in Washington with me. You know what people think of politicians
right now, nothing. They`re ants. They`re the lowest form. Even the guys
that are clean are considered zeros.

And my question is, is that why "American Hustle" is about Abscam
where over 10 officials were all caught taking bribes. And people see it
on television, the movie rather, they go -- these politicians, senators,
congressmen, city councilmen, mayor of Camden, are all taking the money.
These guys are all crooks.

ANN HORNADAY, THE WASHINGTON POST: True. But I don`t think it`s
about cynicism. I think it`s about idealism. I mean, it`s such a
humanistic portrait of these guys.

I mean, you look at Jeremy Renner`s character.

MATTHEWS: He`s one guy that looks --

HORNADAY: He is an idealistic good guy. And I think James is
absolutely right. Cinema has always been a vector for real stories. What
has changed recently is number one, the turnaround time is quicker than
ever. I mean, people are processing stories so quickly from the news, like
"The Fifth Estate" this year, and like "Zero Dark Thirty."

So, I think it`s a way for us to process reality in this glut of
information that we`re living in right now in this media-saturated world.
I think these movies are actually helping us process the data.

MATTHEWS: All right. Let`s talk about the oldest American story,
race. The African Americans were here before you or anybody at this table
was in the country. Back in the 1600s, 1700s.

My question to you, James, we all knew slavery was horrible. It was
based on the whip. It was based on chains. It was based on murder. And
yet in the movies, I right up to "Gone with the Wind," not just birth of a
nation, all those movies portrayed the South as idyllic. Everybody is a
gentleman. Nobody would ever whip anybody.

And now, we`re getting "Django." we`re getting this movie. What`s
going on?

LIPTON: What`s going on is that we`re facing reality at last. By the
way, you left out rape, that was a very important part of slavery. The
fact is that we are today able to face things we weren`t able to face
before. Remember that one of the most important movies ever made in the
United States of America or anywhere was "The Birth of A Nation." Take a
look at it. It`s horrifying.

We`ve grown up. We are now prepared perhaps at last to face the
reality of slavery. We are still, still facing all of the realities of the
racial problem that has haunted this country since slavery began here
centuries ago.

We`re still overcoming it in so many ways. So are films. At last
we`re able to look at them realistically and honestly.

MATTHEWS: Why do people go to a movie like that, "12 Years of
Slavery"? Just to feel the reality of American life, to suffer a bit?
What are the motives? We don`t go for any kind of joy.

HORNADAY: No, but I think well, in the case of --

MATTHEWS: Whereas "Django" had a comic element.

HORNADAY: That was sort of subversive in that way. I think in this
case, I think they go to see great art. I think this is a great work of
art. Steve McQueen has married sound and image and narrative to create
something that`s truly a masterpiece, but also to process.

And I think again, that`s what -- that`s tie this reality based on
(INAUDIBLE) is to sort of process our feelings or process what we think.

MATTHEWS: One more question on the slavery. Why? Give me a reason.
Why in the 1930s were we so pro-South in the movies? Why was there never a
movie that was pro-North when the Northern guys were the good guys, by the
way? Six hundred thousand people, white people, were killed in that war to
end slavery, mainly to end slavery. That`s why they were fighting, than
all the other arguments. And yet the movies as you idolize the damn other
size. Excuse me. Why?

LIPTON: Which one are you addressing?

MATTHEWS: You, James.

LIPTON: Because we hadn`t grown up yet, because we weren`t ready to
face it yet, because we didn`t understand it yet, because the world has
come a thousand -- a hundred thousand, a million miles from that point.
And today, we are actually able to -- we have a black president. Not that
he influences the motion pictures, but he is a part of the entire zeitgeist
that includes the presidency of the United States and motion pictures made
in Hollywood.

MATTHEWS: You know what I like about movies this year? There are so
many great ones. But I want you to respond to the reality "Wolf of Wall
Street." It`s not exactly a tragedy. The guy does get caught, but he had
so much fun you can`t call it a tragedy.

LIPTON: And so do we.

MATTHEWS: It`s outrageous, the use of wealth. And we talk about the
income gap between people who make $40,000 a year, and this guy who had so
much money, he was buying yachts, he`s buying houses on Long Island,
unlimited wealth.

Is that about this equity problem we have in this country now, Ann?

HORNADAY: Frankly, I don`t think that movie addressed that at all. I
think it was about a very specific guy and very specific story. I don`t
think it transcended to be about that larger issue. I wish it had.
Frankly, I think "Blue Jasmine" was more about the current financial state
than "Wolf of Wall Street."

MATTHEWS: Best acting performance of the year, James. You first.

LIPTON: Best acting?


LIPTON: Well, look, full disclosure, seven of the nominees have been
on "Inside the Actors Studio". Most recently, Amy Adams and Matthew
McConaughey were on my show on consecutive nights just last week. So, I am
not an unbiased --

MATTHEWS: Well, give me your biased. I like biased. It`s good.

LIPTON: OK, here comes my bias. Best actor, Matthew McConaughey.
This is one case where I think my bias will correspond to the voter bias.
I think that Matthew McConaughey will win in a walk.

MATTHEWS: As an HIV victim, an unbelievable movie.

Your thought, he`ll win?

HORNADAY: There`s no question.

MATTHEWS: OK, who is going too get screwed this year, James? Who`s
the best? Besides Robert Redford and Oprah Winfrey, you know, they`re not
even in the running now. Who`s going to get hurt and should get hurt here?

LIPTON: What do you mean going to get hurt? I don`t understand your

MATTHEWS: Somebody that would normally win this thing in a reasonable
year but won`t win this year because the talent is too darn good. That`s
what I think is going on.

LIPTON: Well, that`s always the case. They have to eliminate all but
five. And then when they do, they`d probably a dozen people out there. I
think -- I would rather answer your question this way. I think there`s
somebody in that best actor category who -- in another might very will win,
and his name is Bruce Dern.

MATTHEWS: I was going too say that.


MATTHEWS: I was going to say that, James. Exactly what I was
thinking. The guy who we`ve been rooting for. The guy should have been
great Gatsby in stead of the other guy.

I thought Bruce Dern would have been a great guy.

HORNADAY: It`s so true. He`s my personal favorite, even though
McConaughey will win and I think deserves it.

MATTHEWS: He was on all the druggie movies in the `60s. He was in
every great movie. I love Bruce Dern. "The King of Marvin Gardens", what
a man.

LIPTON: He`s a glorious actor. And a member the actor studio, if I
may be parochial for a moment.


MATTHEWS: OK. And you also have Bradley Cooper to root for. Who I`m
rooting for as well. Thank you.

LIPTON: Who graduated from the Actors Studio school, of which I was a
founding dean. So, you see how prejudice I am on this. You really should
have somebody else on your show.

MATTHEWS: You know what you are, James?


MATTHEWS: You are a sandwich man, the guys who walk up and down
Broadway with the board on the side of themselves, "Actors Studio." Thank
you, James Lipton.

And thank you, Ann Hornaday.

And we`ll be watching Sunday night. We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish with a small overlooked fact in this debate
over which party`s serious about fiscal responsibility and which is playing

The Republicans hit the president again and again for not reforming
Social Security, specifically not refining the way benefits are adjusted
for inflation. The knock is that the president is buckling to his
Democratic base.

You hear this everywhere. Democrats don`t want to touch entitlements.
Republicans are dying to do it.

Well, the fact is President Obama did make a proposal in the last
budget to refine this Social Security cost of living adjustment. He did it
in his budget, only to have the Republicans pull the rug out from under
him, refusing to back him. And then adding insult to injury, jump on him
for even trying.

That`s right. No sooner had the president proposed the changed in the
cost of living adjustment last year then he was hit with a one-two
Republican punch, all based on sheer partisan advantage.

First, Paul Ryan refused to put the reform in his House budget
amendment resolution. Second, Congressman Greg Walden, who runs the
Republican Campaign Committee blasted the president for, quote, "trying to
balance the budget on the back of seniors". He called it a shocking attack
on the country`s older voters.

It was a shot across the bow to President Obama, that he and his party
were going to savage the Democrats for any reform efforts in the 2014
elections. So, the next time you hear Republicans or editorial writers
nailing the president for not pushing entitlement reform, remind yourself
this, the president stuck his neck out to do the right thing only to have
the R`s go shopping for a guillotine.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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