Date: October 16, 2014
Guest: Rep. Peter Welch, John Feehery, Charlie Crist, Ryan Grim
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Ebola steals the election. It`s not only topic
A, it`s topic A to Z.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, which is now ground
zero for the Ebola fear.
Well, it`s now official, in fact. Ebola and all the fears and real
dangers it ignites is now the number one focus in the nation`s capital, as
well as the rest of the country, where now it`s emerged already the most
watched news event, believe this or not, since the entire Obama presidency
began -- the most watched news event, Ebola.
The politicians are at their battle stations, as you might expect,
with many on the right calling for an all-out travel ban of anyone coming
from infected West Africa. The call we`re hearing is to stop all human
traffic, period. And government experts are saying, in fact, they`re open
to any step that will protect Americans.
Joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont, who
sits on the committee that held today`s Ebola hearing, and Michael Steele,
who`s the former chair of the RNC and an MSNBC political analyst.
Anyway, at today`s Ebola hearing, again and again, lawmakers said that
their jittery constituents back home want to know about the feasibility of
an all-out travel ban to control -- actually, contain the spread of Ebola.
Congressman Welch, who`s with us now, tried to get an answer. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: ... why from a medical standpoint you
have concluded that a total travel ban is inappropriate and not effective?
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: First off, many of the people coming
to the U.S. from West Africa are American citizens, American passport
holders. People travel, and people will be coming in.
WELCH: As I understand it, you say there`s basically a trade-off. If
you have a full-out ban, there`s going to be ways around it, and then
you`re going to lose the benefit of being able to track folks who may be
infected, and then that could lead to a greater incidence of outbreak. So
it`s a trade-off? Is that essentially what`s going on?
FRIEDEN: We`re open to any possibility that will increase the safety
WELCH: Right. So are there some midpoints, like -- that -- in terms
of travel restrictions, as opposed to a travel ban, that may make sense?
FRIEDEN: We would look at any proposal that would improve the safety
of the Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman Welch, you know, a witness -- when a witness
freezes like that and gives the same answer a second time -- you heard
something then. What did you hear that witness saying, Mr. Frieden -- Dr.
Frieden? Is he saying, Two weeks from now, if this thing grows
exponentially, for example, we will shut down the traffic from West Africa?
WELCH: Well, he was trying to thread a needle. He didn`t want to
state explicitly that he opposed the possibility of a ban, but he was
embracing the approach that whatever is ultimately required, in his
judgment and the administration`s judgment, to protect the American people,
they`re open to it.
But the committee hearing really did start coming down to travel ban
or not, and that has, obviously, for a lot of politicians, enormous
political appeal because it says, We`re, quote, "doing something." But the
gold standard on this, who for me are the Doctors Without Borders, they
actually say, medically speaking, that wouldn`t be good. It might do more
harm than good. But now we`ve got 435 members of Congress who put on their
white coats, and we`re all acting like we`re doctors.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but why does it strike me that this is ideological?
It strikes me that when Donald Trump comes out for a travel ban right off
the bat, it`s a right-wing position, an anti-Obama position, maybe even an
anti-African position. I don`t know. And the liberals just as
instinctively, the progressives, say, Oh, we can`t have a travel ban
Is this an emotional, go to your battle stations left and right thing?
Let me ask Michael Steele about that because it seems like it`s what you`d
expect. Republicans say, Shut it down, no -- we don`t want anybody in
Africa. We don`t want to meet anybody from there anyway.
MATTHEWS: So why shouldn`t we shut it down? I don`t have any
relatives coming over.
MATTHEWS: No, I`m serious.
MATTHEWS: ... Democrats say, Let`s not be so nasty.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, this...
MATTHEWS: Why are people on the right pushing for a travel ban?
STEELE: Well, because it makes sense. It`s because the...
MATTHEWS: ... don`t make sense?
STEELE: The American people are pushing for that. Their constituents
are pushing for that. That`s...
MATTHEWS: Well, why aren`t the libs pushing for it?
STEELE: Well, you got to ask the libs that because...
MATTHEWS: See, there`s your political...
STEELE: No, no. But I`m just saying I`m sure their constituents are.
And the fact that, you know, this question was skirted around and was not
answered directly I thought was...
MATTHEWS: Do you want a ban?
STEELE: Yes! Why not?
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to the congressman.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about the thinking of the committee, the Democratic
side, especially, about why you don`t want to rush to a ban right now and
just shut down the traffic.
WELCH: Well, the question is whether a ban would be effective. You
know, the Doctors Without Borders basically say it would hurt. You would
have a lot of issues about getting your own medical personnel in and out.
You`d have problems getting some of the medical equipment back and forth.
And then when you have a ban, what it`s going to -- the experience has
been that people will find a way around it. If they find a way around it,
you have an infected person get here legally but without having any
monitoring and any review of their health status situation, it means that
we`re not going to be able to get them the treatment right away that they
need. And this is the most important. We won`t be able to know who they
had contact with, and that`s really essential for public safety.
STEELE: May I ask the congressman question, then? Has that been the
experience of those African nations that surround Sierra Leone and the
other infected areas? They don`t seem to have that problem, and yet they
have a full-bore ban in human traffic across their borders, as do now
several other countries.
So I don`t understand this U.S. position that suddenly, we`re so
concerned about commerce and how people feel, when you`ve got this issue of
a potential outbreak that the American people are concerned about.
WELCH: Well, two things, Michael. Number one, Dr. Frieden was asked
that specifically and he said those countries didn`t have that blanket ban
that you`re talking about.
Number two, my view on this is that I`m open to anything. But the
bottom line is, what is the medical step that we should take, or what steps
should we take with respect to travel restrictions that would be most
effective? That`s really the question. It`s not a political judgment.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think it`s ideological, but I do see the pattern
here. Anyway, Dr. Daniel Varga -- he`s the chief clinical officer down in
Texas with Health Resources down there, the group that overseas Texas
Presbyterian Hospital. He took a grilling from the ranking committee
member, Diana DeGette of Colorado. She`s a Democrat. Dr. Varga, who
appeared via videoconference, first apologized for the incorrect initial
diagnosis of the first Ebola patient in the U.S. Then he faced questions
on the hospital`s lack of preparedness.
Let`s watch. This is where it gets very American, very local. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Your hospital received the first
CDC health advisory about Ebola on July 28th. And this advisory was given
to the directors of your emergency departments, and signage was posted in
your emergency room, is that right?
DR. DANIEL VARGA, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, TEXAS HEALTH RESOURCES:
DEGETTE: Now, was this information given to your emergency room
personnel? And was there any actual person-to-person training at Texas
Presbyterian for the staff at that time? Yes or no.
VARGA: It was given to the emergency department.
DEGETTE: Was there actual training?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Congressman, this is where we get to that old political
problem of "mistakes were made" in the passive voice, but nobody made any
mistakes. You and I have lived through this. Mistakes were made by what
human being? And now we`re finding this guy you put in the box or in the
barrel today, he`s the guy that`s getting hit with this.
Who`s the responsible officers that make sure that hospitals handle
the first case properly? Who`s the officer that didn`t do it right?
WELCH: Well, ultimately, the head of the hospital. But obviously,
they blew it at the ER room. I mean, this man when she showed up was
incredibly sick, and he was sent home with antibiotics. And then he came
back, of course, with full-blown Ebola. So they blew it there.
But you know, let`s have a little bit of context. We`ve had one
person, one person from Liberia come to this entire country. That`s
dangerous because people fear Ebola and it`s a really bad disease. But
it`s been one person. We`ve had two health workers infected, and they`re
in stable condition.
So you know, our hospitals haven`t had a whole lot of experience. And
how many hospitals, even well-run hospitals, would have it on the radar
that somebody is going to show up tomorrow with a disease from Africa? So
some of this, to some extent, I think is going to happen no matter how well
run an operation is.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But you know, if you look at the progression of this
-- you know the phrase "rolling disclosure." It always gets politicians in
trouble. I`ll tell you when I want to tell you, not when I know. And here
we have the president, who I generally support, as everybody knows, saying
it was unlikely it would ever get here.
And then we`re told when it got down there that there`d be nobody
would catch it from anybody. It`s very hard to catch. Two people caught
it. Then we`re told nobody would be allowed to travel. Then we found this
woman`s bopping up and down across the country from Dallas to Cleveland and
back again after she told the CDC she had the symptoms.
And it just -- the wall keeps falling. The walls keep falling. And
how can we keep confidence if they do, Congressman?
WELCH: Well, that`s a good point. I mean, you just laid out the
rolling train wreck that the handling of this has been, everywhere from the
hospital and to some extent, the administration. And when you have that
applied to this disease, it is just horrid, where it`s incredibly painful
and incredibly infectious. Then it creates a lot of -- it stokes a lot of
public fears and undercuts the confidence we need in institutions. But --
and we`re in a political season, and believe me, that`s part of this...
MATTHEWS: What are you hearing up in Vermont? Vermont`s a
progressive state, especially the flatlanders that move up there because it
is a progressive state. And how are they reacting to this? They`re very
sophisticated people in Vermont. What are they saying about this?
WELCH: Well, they`re concerned about it. They`re concerned about it.
There`s two things. Number one, there`s just this enormous concern about -
- and all the publicity about Ebola and could it happen. Well, when you
saw that it did happen in Texas, which then it could happen anywhere,
including in Vermont.
And then secondly, people are concerned that we`re going to handle it
well. And they want an answer. That`s stoked to some extent by all the
public discussion and the politicians` debate. And the easiest thing to
call for is, quote, "a ban," but that`s not necessarily what`s going to
provide the greatest protection to the public. So there`s concern there,
as there is any time there`s much publicity about something.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s hear the president, by the way. Today, he
signed an executive order that authorizes military reservists to support
humanitarian efforts to combat Ebola over in West Africa. Our Pentagon
team says this initial deployment would include eight Guard and Reserve
engineers, just eight people, and logistics specialists. Their task, to
assist in building 17 treatment centers that could house 100 Ebola patients
apiece. That`s 1,700 people could be treated.
While the initial deployment of eight is a small number, it`s all --
it`s an open-ended permit that apparently allows the president to keep
sending additional Guard and Reserve forces over there as needed.
Michael, the president`s sort of taking what we used to call, or I
used to call, a neocon position -- you got to stop them there or they`ll
come here. We can fight them there or fight them here. He`s basically
saying unless we contain this over in Africa with our troops, we`re going
to have it here.
STEELE: I think the president`s exactly right, if that`s the
assumption he`s putting on the table here. You`ve got to go there where
the problem is.
MATTHEWS: What happens if the guys we send over there get it?
STEELE: Well, and that -- there -- hopefully, we have the protocols
in place to deal with that, and that part of the concern that the American
people have. You laid it out, Chris. That little (ph) timetable from the
president saying, you know, the likelihood of it coming here to where we
are today is why people are asking, So why don`t we just, like, cut down
the border traffic so that we can control it that way? And what are the
protocols going to be put in place for the U.S. personnel who are going
STEELE: We`ve got 3,000 U.S. military who are on the continent.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, you`re a political guy and I`m watching
politics all my life. My sense is the least effective thing to say today
is "Keep calm" because people don`t want to hear that. They want to hear
what the news is, what`s going on.
WELCH: Well, you`re right about that.
MATTHEWS: And that`s what they go by.
WELCH: That`s exactly right. They want very specific things. I
mean, the one thing that Dr. Frieden said that made some sense is that if a
hospital has an Ebola -- a patient with Ebola symptoms show up, number one,
put that person in isolation. Number two, call CDC, walk through it with
them. And number three, CDC will come. So that was in response to a
question from Cory Gardner, What would I tell my hospital in the event
somebody appeared with these types of symptoms?
So I think getting specific and concrete with the plan makes a lot of
sense. I also agree with Michael. I think our military is particularly
suited to these incredible logistical challenges, and you do have to stop
it at its source. It`s not humanitarian, it`s really self-defense.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the people are watching this for history are --
Winston Churchill first, who always told the British people the bad news
first. And he really laid it out to them. When they lost Tobruk and they
lost Singapore, he laid it out to the people. That`s why they trusted him.
And even Rudy Giuliani during 9/11 and the anthrax scare, he gave the
information as he was getting it. And boy, was that powerful stuff.
That`s why he still has a good rep.
Thank you, U.S. Congressman Peter Welch, for asking the right
questions today in the hearing. Thank you, Michael Steele, great
Coming up: Fear and loathing on the campaign trail. Republicans are
playing up the Ebola scare in debates and campaigns. It`s topic A
everywhere. With less than three weeks to go before the election, it may
be working politically, we`re not sure in which direction, but it`s not
going to help the incumbents.
And later, the most bizarre beginning to a political debate perhaps
ever. Charlie Crist joins us to talk about his kerfuffle with Governor
Rick Scott last night. The issue, a fan -- not a human fan, an electronic
(sic) fan, the thing that blows the wind.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, you won`t want to miss the fantastic debate we`re
going to show you tonight between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott down in
Florida. Scott, the incumbent governor, refused to come out on the start
of the stage in the beginning of the debate because he said he was upset
that Crist was having a fan there below him to cool him off. Anyway, the
governor finally came out, but his supporters tonight are worried the
damage has already been done. This is weird. Charlie Crist is going to
join us here tonight in just a few minutes right here on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now more on the tonight`s big
story, the pandemic of fear in this country over Ebola. Right now, the
mantra on the campaign trail and on the debate stage is "Think Ebola."
Last night, that fear drove the conversation and the debates in Kansas and
in Colorado. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN (I), KANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Roberts has come
back and has made some very strong statements about Ebola when he`s back in
Kansas. But it just came out the other day that when he was in Washington
last month, he skipped a hearing on the Ebola virus.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: This is a difference between
Congressman Gardner and me. He`s voted to cut CDC spending of almost $770
million. We`re not going to beat Ebola by cutting back the CDC and our
public health systems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this is the most followed news stories of the Obama
presidency, we just found out today, and we`re just 19 days from the
Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large with Salon and John Feehery`s a
I want to go to Joan first on this. You never know what`s going to
happen in October.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: And this is a national event which normally we would
consider in a real country that didn`t fight about everything, we`d all be
in this together. We`d all be looking for the right program, the right
protocols -- a word I`ve come to hate -- and hate (INAUDIBLE) protocols
breach, which is even worse. We`d all agree let`s try to figure out this
thing, which is brand-new, and it is isolated. It`s not a pandemic here.
MATTHEWS: How do we deal with it?
MATTHEWS: Yet, you see the usual battle stations former already.
Donald Trump, who speaks for a certain point of view in this country, which
is not necessarily nice, but hard-nosed -- definitely hard-nosed -- Keep
them out. Keep them all out from West Africa. That`s the safe move. You
may have thought that extreme until I`ve noticed one Republican after
another is joining it. And now two thirds of the American people say, Slam
the door on West Africa and we`ll be safer.
Your thoughts about the politics because the Democrats are not going
along with that, not as a group.
WALSH: No, and it`s great they`re not going along with it because
it`s absolutely the wrong thing to do, and we know that, Chris. I mean,
look, this is a scary disease, and there are questions to be asked on both
sides. We can really have a conversation about that. We can even have a
debate about it. I`m not going to argue that politics should be kept out
of this. That`s really unrealistic.
However, the level at which people are fear mongering on this is
really all about getting out the Republican base. I mean, the American
people are nervous for sure, but you know, the latest NBC poll showed that
most people trust that the government knows how to handle this. There was
one -- there were actually two exceptions. One, the Tea Party. The Tea
Party voters say they don`t trust the government, and rural voters. So it
really is the Republican base that is ready for this volatile mix of
politics and Obama hatred. And you know, the usual suspects are out there
putting it out.
MATTHEWS: You know, right behind you is this beautiful picture of a
man-made wonder, which is the Golden Gate Bridge. And I`ve always said
it`s the one time man`s improved on nature. It is really beautiful. But
if you knew that there was a lot of disease at the other side of that
bridge, and somebody said, We`ll keep the bridge open, wouldn`t you think
I`m just going back to gut thinking here, the way people act when
they`re afraid. You don`t think it`s a gut reaction by the people to slam
down that door and say, No more people from West Africa because they
brought it here in the first place?
WALSH: I thought you were going to say something really different
about the Golden Gate Bridge, which is something that we did back when we
used to do big things. And this is...
WALSH: And this is another big thing -- this is another big thing
that we need to do.
You`re a Peace Corps person. We really -- we shouldn`t be nation-
building in Iraq and Syria, but we should be public health-building in
Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea. This is something that we can do. We
cannot go over there -- a travel ban is so silly. We cannot seal their
So then you`re having people lying about their health, leaving those
countries and getting in here somehow anyway. So, the point is to be calm.
I know it`s hard to tell people to be calm. The point is for the people in
control to be calm and do what they need to do and not to fear-monger.
I know that people feel, would I go over to the Marin if I thought on
the other side there was Ebola? I hope I would want sick people if they
needed treatment in San Francisco to come here. But it`s a natural human
response to fear. I know that. But I still think...
MATTHEWS: It`s called a leper colony mentality. I know. It`s a
leper colony mentality.
WALSH: We do better, we do better when we get rid of that mentality.
MATTHEWS: John Feehery, what is the ideological thing? Why are
Republicans, so many of them, speaking like Donald Trump on this thing?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think it`s
not only good politics, but it will restore from some calm with people.
I think that John Boehner has got it exactly right. Have a temporary
travel ban, so we can sort this out. The administration hasn`t exactly
appeared very competent -- competent in this whole thing. All the kind of
explanations that proved not to be true. This is a real problem for this
administration. I think the best thing they could do is have a temporary
travel ban, let them sort it out, come up with some procedures that
everyone can understand, and then get the CDC working in a way that
There`s no confidence in this country, and that`s why people are
worried and they`re right to be worried.
MATTHEWS: How do you do a -- how do you do a travel ban? You say,
you can`t come out of those countries to come to our country. You can`t go
through Belgium. You can`t go through London or Paris. You can`t get here
any way. You just can`t come here. So you got to shut off all the traffic
anywhere there is evidence they came from those countries.
FEEHERY: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: But can you really stop them if they do a two -- most
people go through Europe to get here from Africa. How do you stop it?
FEEHERY: Obviously, you can stop it. They have passports, right?
There might be some people trying to sneak through that don`t have
WALSH: What about the aid workers? What about our doctors?
FEEHERY: And sort out the procedures. I think it`s reasonable to do
this. And I think that most Americans think it`s reasonable to do it.
And of course the 30 countries in Africa think it`s reasonable to do
it. There`s a lot of countries that are saying, wait a minute, let`s not
have folks come over here with this disease, this virus. Let`s find a way
to handle this. And I think that that`s where the American people are, and
I think that`s why Republicans are saying, let`s do this. It`s a much
MATTHEWS: Here`s a question for both of you. Republicans have been
also latched onto the issue the government competence here. This is Mitt
Romney up in New Hampshire. And he -- by the way, he`s running for
something. Here he`s supposedly campaigning for Scott Brown, but I think
he`s back in the old game of running for president. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, this
administration couldn`t run the IRS right and it apparently is not running
the CDC right.
And you ask yourself, what is it going to take to have a president who
really focuses on the interests of the American people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When we have elections. That`s one way we pick them,
But, anyway, this is what Rand Paul said just a few weeks ago about
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It is absolutely a mistake to take
political correctness and say that they know with certainty it`s not going
to spread and, as a consequence, so play down fears that we don`t take
So, yes, I think it`s a huge mistake. And this is a guy that fed us
Obamacare, so he`s not high on my list of people to listen to.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So they`re stacking up the tuna cans again. They missed
Benghazi this time.
MATTHEWS: But they put IRS in there and everything else. This is
just another can in the stack, Ebola.
WALSH: And for Rand Paul to say that it`s political correctness,
again, you can have a debate about whether the president has done enough,
or the CDC has done enough.
You can even have a debate about competence. But to insist, to get --
to just get that point in there, and other people are doing it more
blatantly, that it`s political correctness that is keeping him from doing
more, that -- and other people are coming out and saying, it`s his African
sympathies, it`s his African heritage.
MATTHEWS: Are they?
WALSH: It`s just...
FEEHERY: I don`t think -- I don`t think they`re saying that. I think
I think the fact of the matter is that this Obama -- the Obama
administration doesn`t have a lot of credibility. People don`t trust it.
If you think about the rollout of Obamacare, which was a complete disaster,
from issue after issue...
WALSH: Obamacare is now doing very well.
FEEHERY: The rollout was a complete disaster. And you have to admit
FEEHERY: And it`s raising premiums 20, 30 percent.
WALSH: That turned out not to be true.
WALSH: Let`s stick to this issue, John.
MATTHEWS: I want Joan to -- I want Joan to back up one thing you
said. You challenged John, so back it up, Joan. Who is out there saying
that it`s his African roots showing?
WALSH: Some talk -- I was just listening to Alex Wagner -- some talk
show host. I`m sorry. I don`t have the name right now.
FEEHERY: So, Alex Wagner is saying that?
Well, listen, listen, I think to have that insinuation is wrong. This
president doesn`t have the credibility. And that`s a problem. And I think
that`s why people are going to come out to the polls and vote against it.
And this incompetence is really -- it`s -- it`s -- it`s...
FEEHERY: ... the whole culture.
MATTHEWS: So, they`re not going back to where Newt Gingrich was?
By the way, just to clarify this, I will be arbiter here. The right,
Dinesh D`Souza, Newt Gingrich, have pushed the argument that Obama is
driven by some sort of Kenyan experience, which he never had because he
never grew up there.
MATTHEWS: Some Kenyan anti-colonial experience that he`s driven by.
So, it`s not illusory for somebody to dream it up and use it again
here, John. That`s what`s used against Obama in a crunch, that he`s
somehow an African.
FEEHERY: No responsible Republican is saying that right now.
WALSH: If not -- if not a Muslim.
MATTHEWS: Well, there are a lot of irresponsible Republicans then.
Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh.
And, by the way, count on, what`s his name, Donald Trump to lead the
band on this baby again.
Anyway, thank you, John Feehery.
WALSH: Birther in chief.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the incredible scene from last night`s governor`s
debate in Florida. This is a -- I guess this a comic relief, where
Republican incumbent Rick Scott refused to even come out on the debate
floor or show up because Charlie Crist had a fan, an electric fan under his
Charlie Crist is going to join us right after this break to talk about
the fan, the man, and the plan. We will see.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: back to HARDBALL.
Well, the governor`s debate down in Florida got off to a late start
last night, after incumbent governor -- Republican Governor Rick Scott
refused to even appear on the stage. He wouldn`t even walk out, all
because his opponent, former Democratic Governor Charlie Crist, had a small
fan behind his lectern.
Crist was on the stage alone for seven minutes before Scott finally
relented and came out and began the debate.
Here`s how that bizarre scene played out last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely
peculiar situation right now.
We have Governor Charlie Crist.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been told that Governor Scott will not be
participating in this debate.
Governor Crist has asked to have a fan, a small fan placed underneath
his podium. The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign
say that there should be no fan. Somehow, there is a fan there, and for
that reason, ladies and gentlemen, I am being told that Governor Scott will
not join us for this debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frank, have you ever seen anything like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven`t. This is remarkable over sort of a
trivial issue, no matter which side you believe you`re on.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That has to be the most unique beginning to any
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think we will forget it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only in Florida, but I think anywhere in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Now from Florida, the man with the tan, a fan, and a plan,
Florida`s Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist.
Were you aware that he was going to pull that stunt? Because you`re
known for having that fan. I have known about it. I think everybody in
the business in television knew about it. I guess it`s to avoid sweating
on camera or whatever.
CHARLIE CRIST (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: They knew about it. Why do you think he pulled this stunt
right before an election?
CRIST: I don`t know.
In my wildest imagination, Chris, I can`t tell you why. It defies
logic to me. And whenever there`s something that I`m asked about that is
illogical in my mind, it`s really hard for me to explain it. I can`t
MATTHEWS: Well, the latest polling down there -- and I`m sure you
must go to bed at night with this -- has you actually tied 44-44, according
to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll.
MATTHEWS: And now your campaign is using this incident last night to
make a fund-raising push. This is pretty funny.
And your fan has become famous on the web. Take a look at this. I`m
sure you have seen this image. With your supporters, they have retweeted
today, "I`m a fan of Charlie Crist."
MATTHEWS: Is this making lemonade out of lemons? Or what -- it seems
like you have made a campaign issue out of this guy`s weirdo number on you.
CRIST: Yes, it`s pretty strange.
And I think what people really care about -- I mean, this is really
kind of a trivial issue. I mean, let`s be honest about it. What`s really
important are issues like education, ethics, the environment, the economy -
- you know, the kind of things that Floridians are concerned about, that
I`m concerned about going forward, you know, to make sure that our teachers
are appropriately paid, that we care for our environment, that we have an
economy that`s good for the middle class.
Those are issues that are meaningful to all of us.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question that`s been in the air right now,
and you wouldn`t be surprised I ask you this. Who did you vote for for
president in `08 and 2012? Who did you vote for?
CRIST: In `08, I voted for John McCain. As you know, I was almost
his running mate.
CRIST: And in `12, I voted for Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: What made you change your mind?
CRIST: Campaigned hard for him, as a matter of fact.
MATTHEWS: Why did you change your mind?
CRIST: Just the direction of my former party. I mean, Jeb Bush said
it better than anybody.
Today`s leadership in the Republican Party is -- appears to be anti-
women, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-education, anti-
I mean, you know, the Republican Party --
CRIST: I mean, it`s pretty clear.
MATTHEWS: You know that party. You were with it for most of your
life. Is the party not just looked at that way, is it that way? Is it
You know, I looked at your party`s reaction to this Ebola scandal
tonight. And so many people just say, slam the door on Africa. You know,
just slam it shut -- led by Donald Trump of all people, slam the door.
Instinctively, what the Democrats are thinking, is that really going
to work? Or is that really something we should be doing? A little more
thoughtful on the Dems` side, I think.
CRIST: Yes, I think so, too.
You know, it`s a shame to see it and what it has become.
I want to be careful here, though, because my mom and dad are still
Republicans. There`s a lot of good Republicans across the country. But
the leadership of the party -- I mean, just look at the House of
Representatives in Washington. They can`t get anything done. They won`t
agree to do anything.
MATTHEWS: Well --
CRIST: They can`t reach across the aisle. It`s sad to see.
MATTHEWS: They can`t even agree on a fan.
Here`s what you and the governor had to say --
CRIST: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: -- when the moderator asked you both about that fan. This
is how trivial -- I agree with you, Governor. This is how trial it`s got.
Let`s watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you insist on bringing a fan here when
your campaign knew this would be a contentious issue?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CRIST: Why not? You know? Is there anything wrong with being
comfortable? I don`t think there is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, Governor Scott, why the delay in coming out
over a fan?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I waited until we figured out if he was
going to show up. He said he wasn`t going to come to the -- he said he
wasn`t going to come to the debate. So, why come out until he`s ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What an articulate man that guy. Anyway, you got to beat
Charlie Crist, thanks for joining. That was a clown act by him.
MATTHEWS: Much more on Governor Crist`s fan, by the way, and what it
means for the governor`s race in Florida ahead and how trivial politics has
gotten. That`s going to be with our roundtable.
Plus, Hillary Clinton hits the campaign trail in Kentucky with a
preview of coming attractions, I think for 2016. There she is, the
candidate of the future. And Alison Grimes still won`t say whether she
voted for President Obama.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
Well, after meeting with his team on dealing with Ebola now, the
president has made this statement in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Duncan, when he was
in Dallas, it is typical of what nurses do each and every day, caring for
And one has now been transferred to NIH, National Institutes of
Health, facilities. The other has now been transferred to Emory
University. They are getting the best possible care.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. And we`re
continuing to monitor their conditions.
Number two, the second nurse to be diagnosed, as all of you are aware,
traveled from Dallas to Cleveland and back. As a consequence, it`s very
important for us to make sure that we are monitoring and tracking anyone
who was in close proximity to this second nurse, to make sure that their
temperatures are being taken, and we know that they are receiving the kind
of attention that they need to ensure there`s not additional spread of the
I spoke to Governor Kasich in Ohio today, who is on top of it. We
have deployed CDC personnel there to make sure that they`re getting all the
support that they need. And we will continue to work, both with them, as
well as the airlines, getting the manifests and assuring that we are
keeping track of anybody who was in close proximity to the second nurse.
Number three, we remain focused on the situation at Texas Presbyterian
in Dallas. As I have said before, when we have tight protocols with
respect to the treatment of patients, then our health care workers are
safe. But, because of these two incidents, we know now that there may have
been problems in terms of how protective gear was worn or removed, or some
of the additional treatment procedures may have impacted potential
We don`t know yet exactly what happened. But, in the meantime, we
have a number of health care workers at Texas Presbyterian who did provide
care to Mr. Duncan. And we are instituting a constant monitoring process
with them, giving them the information that they need, in order to keep
themselves and their families as safe as possible, as the period in which
they potentially could get the disease, you know, remains in place.
And I also spoke to Governor Perry today about making sure that Dallas
and the state of Texas had the resources that it needed in order to respond
effectively if addition workers at Texas Presbyterian are determined, in
fact, to have been exposed and have contracted Ebola.
And Governor Perry, as well as Mayor Rawlings in Dallas obviously have
been extraordinarily cooperative, working with the CDC, working with Health
and Human Services. They have legitimate concerns in terms of making sure
that the federal government is surging the kinds of resources that they
need in order to handle any eventuality there, to make sure that folks not
just at Texas Presbyterian, but potentially at other health care
facilities, have the training and the equipment that they need.
And so we`re going to be working very closely with them over the
course of the next several days and weeks in order to assure that they have
exactly what they need to get the job done.
Throughout this process, I have been focused on making sure that we
are dealing with this problem at the source. The most important thing, in
addition to treating and monitoring anybody who even has a hint of
potential exposure here in this country, the most important thing that I
can do for keeping the American people safe is for us to be able to deal
with Ebola at the source, where you have got a huge outbreak in West
And the United States is obviously leading the way in terms of
providing resources, equipment, and mobilizing the world`s community. So
over the last several days, I continue to call other world leaders to get
them to up their pledges of equipment, of personnel, logistics --
logistical capabilities, to make sure that we`re getting all workers on the
We have seen some progress in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, but
we haven`t seen enough. We have got more work to do.
And the good news is, is that increasingly when I talk to these world
leaders, what you`re seeing is a recognition that the sooner we control
this outbreak at the source in West Africa, the less our people are going
to be at risk. And I think more and more of them are stepping up, although
it`s, I think, taking a little longer than it should. And that`s something
that all of us should recognize.
One issue that I want to address, because I know it`s been a topic
consistently in the news, is the issue of a travel ban. I know that you`ve
heard from some public health experts about this, but I want to make sure
that everybody`s clear about the issue. I don`t have a philosophical
objection necessarily to a travel ban, if that is the thing that is going
to keep the American people safe.
The problem is, in all the discussions I`ve had thus far, with experts
in the field, experts in infectious disease, is that a travel ban is less
effective than the measures that we are currently instituting, that involve
screening passengers who are coming from West Africa.
First of all, screening them before they get on the plane there, to
see whether they`re showing signs of the disease, and screening them again
when they get here, taking their temperature, and now what the CDC is doing
is gathering all their information, assuming that they`re not showing any
signs of illness, because if they are showing signs of illness, obviously
we want to make sure they`re directed to a well-equipped and well-prepared
facility. But if they`re not showing any signs, we still want to have
their information -- where they live, where they`re staying, multiple
contact information -- that not only the federal government keeps, but that
will also be forwarded to the state where they reside.
If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we`ve put
in place now, history shows that there`s a likelihood of increased
avoidance. People do not readily disclose their information. They may
engage in something called `broken travel", essentially breaking up their
trips so they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these
countries where there`s a disease in place. And as a result, we may end up
getting less information about who has the disease. They`re less likely to
get treated properly, screened properly, quarantined properly, and as a
consequence, we could end up having more cases rather than less.
Now, I continue to push and ask our experts whether, in fact, we are
doing what`s adequate in order to protect the American people. If they
come back to me and they say that there`s some additional things we need to
do, I assure you, we will do it. But it`s important in these
circumstances, for us to look at the history of how these infectious
diseases are best dealt with. And it is currently the judgment of all
those who have been involved that a flat-out travel ban is not the best way
But we will continue to monitor this. I`m asking these questions, and
if in fact, it turns out that I`m getting different answers, then I will
share that with the American people and we will not hesitate to do what`s
necessary, in order to maximize the chances that we avoid an outbreak here
in the United States.
Which brings me to my last point -- I understand that people are
worried. This is a disease that is new to our shores, although it is
something that has cropped up periodically in other countries. Because of
the virulence of the disease and the way it`s transmitted and the symptoms
that occur, I understand that people are scared.
But what I want to emphasize once again, right now, we have one
individual who came in with the disease. We have two nurses who have been
diagnosed with the disease as a consequence of, in some fashion, being
exposed during treatment.
And what remains true is that that is not an airborne disease. It is
not easy to catch. You can only catch it by being in contact with the
bodily fluids of an individual who not only has the disease, but also is
showing symptoms of the disease. And so, it`s important for all of us to
keep perspective in terms of how we handle this.
We are taking this very seriously, at the highest levels, starting
with me, and my entire team has been essentially deputized to work with
Health and Human Services and CDC. And that includes, by the way, the
Department of Defense, and our national security teams.
We understand why it`s important for us to provide assurances to the
public, that folks are taking this very seriously, and they are. And
obviously, because of the two nurses getting sick, that has made people
that much more concerned. So, all that`s understood, but I do want
everybody to understand, it remains a very difficult disease to catch, and
if we continue to take the steps that we need to, then this will be
And the main thing that everybody needs to focus on is that the risks
involved remain relatively low, extremely low for ordinary folks. The
biggest thing we need to do is make sure that health workers have more
confidence, because they are on the front lines and we`re entering into flu
season, which means there are a lot of people who may be coming in with
symptoms, and there may be false alarms and concerns. And so, we`re going
to spend a lot of time working with our public health workers to make sure
that they feel safe and adequately protected.
But I want to assure the American people, we`re taking this seriously.
But this is something that`s really hard to catch. And if we do what we
needed to do, and we stay focused, then this is going to be something that
is contained here.
The work that we have to do overseas is going to be a lot tougher
because frankly they don`t have a public health infrastructure. They`re
not well-organized. They`re poor countries, and the epidemic is already
raging there. So, that`s going to take several months for us to be able to
start seeing the kinds of progress that we need to see.
But in the meantime, I want everybody to know that everybody here`s on
the case. All right? Thank you very much, everybody.
You know, I will answer this one question about an Ebola czar. The
truth is, is that up until this point, the individuals here have been
running point and doing an outstanding job in dealing with what is a very
complicated and fluid situation.
Those of you who don`t know, Lisa Monaco who does a lot of my
counterterrorism work, as well as national security work, has been working
with our secretary of Health and Human Services and Tom Frieden at the CDC.
It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person, not because
the three of these folks have not been doing an outstanding job -- I should
mention, Susan Rice, my national security adviser. It`s not that they
haven`t been doing an outstanding job, working hard on this issue, but they
also are responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff. So, Lisa is also
dealing, as Susan is, with ISIL.
And we`re going into flu season, which means, by the way, people
should be looking to get their flu shots. We know that every year, tens of
thousands of people potentially die of the flu and 100,000 or more go into
the emergency room, hospitalized, because of the flu. So, that`s something
that Tom also is responsible for.
So, it may make sense for us to have one person, in part just so that
after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process,
just to make sure that we`re crossing all the T`s and dotting all the I`s
going forward. OK?
If I appoint somebody, I`ll let you know. All right?
Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you, guys. Appreciate you.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That was President Obama just moments ago
from the Oval Office after meeting with his Ebola response team.
NBC`s Kristen Welker, who asked that last question is with us from the
White House right now, also with us now is Ryan Grim of "The Huffington
Kristen, great question. What was the answer? Do you sense he is
going to pick a czar?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: That was my sense, Chris, and that really
was the headline that came out of the meeting tonight, President Obama
saying it may be appropriate for him to pick one person who can be in
charge of all of this. I thought it was striking, because this is, of
course, the first time that we have heard that message coming out of the
White House. We have been asking Press Secretary Josh Earnest every day if
there needs to be a point person specifically in charge. He`s continued to
say that Lisa Monaco is the point person on this.
But a very different message from President Obama tonight. He said it
may be appropriate to pick one person to make sure that all of the I`s are
being dotted and that the T`s are being crossed.
The other point that I thought was interesting, Chris, you heard him
say all of these people who are here do have other, major things that
they`re working on, like combating ISIS. We are also heading into the flu
season. That is something that CDC Director Tom Frieden will certainly be
very busy working on.
So, tonight, President Obama certainly indicating that he is seriously
considering appointing an Ebola czar, if you want to use that term. I
anticipate he`ll probably use a different term if and when he does make the
Chris, I asked him who he was thinking about appointing and you heard
him at the very end saying, "When I decide to make that appointment, I`ll
let you know" -- Chris.
MATTHEWS: It looks like he`s heading in that direction. I want to go
MATTHEWS: Stay with us, Kristen.
I mean, Ryan, what do you think the purpose of that briefing was?
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I think he wants to kind of turn the
temperature down on this debate. He wants to depoliticize it.
The last thing that you -- that you want is for our broken political
system to get in the way of an actual unified and effective responses. I
think he wanted to say, look, I`m on top of this.
And he made two concessions. The Ebola czar was the one. He also
said, look, I`m not philosophically opposed to a travel ban. He`s always
trying to not make that a political issue. He`s saying, look, if the CDC
comes back to me and they`ve re-evaluated the situation, and they say that
we need a travel ban, then he said he was willing to implement one.
So, I think he`s trying to take it out of the political round here.
MATTHEWS: Kristen, what do you make of that growing of a -- it
certainly wasn`t a hard wall against the travel ban.
WELKER: No, that stood out for me as well, the fact that he said, I
don`t have a philosophical objection to it.
And he basically indicated that he is in the process of re-evaluating
how they are handling this. He knows that mistakes have been made and he
acknowledged that the mistakes that had been made cannot be made again, and
that essentially, this needs to be stopped here.
So, certainly, he made the point that if his experts, he says he`s
been coordinating with them, if they recommend that a travel ban is the
right path forward, he would be open to that. But he said that all of the
evidence that he`s been getting so far, all of the input that he`s been
getting from experts has indicated that that`s not the right path forward.
That, in fact, it could make things worse. And his argument tonight was
because that you would have people withholding information -- withholding
information about where they have been which could actually slow down the
efforts to try to fight Ebola.
But I do think that was another headline here tonight. He`s trying to
depoliticize this and trying to reassure Americans. Because you and I have
been talking about the significance of the fact that he has cancelled now a
second day of campaign events -- highly unusual for that president to do,
that to cancel his planned travel -- Chris.
MATTHEWS: I want to start with you on this, Ryan, and then go to
I think he was trying to do even more tonight. I think -- I
understand the American people are scared. One of the knocks on this
president has been that he`s aloof. He`s away from people. He`s
disappointed the American people, if you will.
Here he was showing true -- it seems to me, I`m not a cynic -- true
sympathy for the American people`s worries. That this is something that
normal families would worry about, that if he weren`t in public life, he`d
be worried about it. It was almost nice the way he did this thing tonight.
GRIM: Right. It wasn`t a staged event where he walked out to a
lectern, delivered some remarks and then walked back. It was more like
this is what I just heard from the experts and I`m going to tell you
immediately after having been briefed so that you all have as much
information as I do.
MATTHEWS: That`s what Rudy Giuliani did during 9/11. I know Rudy is
controversial, Kristen, but I do think the president made it very clear
that I`d just been briefed, let me briefed. And I really thought it was
like a fireside chat almost from the FDR days. I mean, I`m talking -- this
isn`t a prepared speech, I`ve got some points I want to share with you.
Here they are right away. I`m not hiding anything.
WELKER: I think that`s absolutely right, Chris. I think it`s a shift
that we`ve been starting to see over the past couple months from this
president and from this administration. They have been making a real
attempt to make him more accessible not only to the press but also to the
American people. And, certainly, when you have a situation like this, when
there is a fair amount of concern, it is the perfect opening and
opportunity for him as you point out to be candid. Talk about and
acknowledge the fact that people are concerned and to make the point that
he`s holding on going meetings to try to address the issue.
I`ll make one more point, Chris, there have been a lot of discussions.
How would he address the American people, and he chose to do it in that
format. I do think it`s significant, it was more intimate to your point --
MATTHEWS: So much of a point of connecting to the people. Here`s the
story. Here`s the scoop. Here`s the skinny. I`m telling you what I know.
I don`t know all the things, bud I know this and I`m telling you that.
People have been dying for that in the whole politics of this country.
They want truth as they get it.
Anyway, thank you, Kristen Welker, as always, great reporting and
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Ryan Grim, for coming in here from "The
Just a few minutes ago, we also saw the Texas nurse Dana Pham who was
infected with Ebola boarding a plane in Dallas. You saw that picture.
Here she is again. She`s on the way to the National Institutes of Health
here in Bethesda, Maryland. That`s a big place for this kind of thing for
her further treatment.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this wild stuff that happens in
campaigns at the 11th hour. Things happen. The calendar doesn`t stop
flipping just because a certain percentage of the people haven`t decided
who to vote for. Events don`t cease to occur because the deadline for
deciding is coming on strong.
But here we are with some election campaigns so close in their appeal
or lack of appeal, that the littlest episode is able to throw the whole
thing in one direction. This says less about the importance of the episode
than it does about the razor sharp closeness of the polls right now heading
into election day.
So, it shouldn`t have surprised us that a candidate in Kentucky,
refusing to say who she voted for for president would at least carry some
sway. Or a candidate down in Florida who likes to have a fan cooling him
during televised appearances that that, too, could turn into a topic of
What`s really going to be turning to minds of voters I think now is
this emerging effect of Ebola. It`s real. It`s lethal and it`s here.
Remember that old political slogan, "All politics is local"? Well,
first, we were told that Ebola is unlikely to come here to the United
States and then it came. And then we were told it`s hard to contract it.
Now, we have a couple of people who`ve contracted.
And then we were told that the people exposed to Ebola would be kept
out of circulation. And now, we`ve been told that even after a
conversation with the CDC, a victim has been flying up and down the
Well, someone called this the October surprise. Well at the rate
Ebola surprises are coming, it`s going to be a November game-changer.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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