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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 18

Guest: Terry Jeffrey, Amy Goodman, Dan Burton, David Gibbs, George Felos, Gavin Newsom

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Doctors removed Terri Schiavo‘s feeding tube today, over protests from her parents and despite an extraordinary effort by Republicans here in Washington to use subpoena powers to stop it.  How did this personal battle turn political? 

And, in my exclusive interview, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says many prominent Democrats privately support gay marriage. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.  

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

A Florida judge today ordered the removal of a feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive, despite efforts by Republican in Congress to involve themselves in the long legal case.  We‘ll get reaction from both sides tonight, from Terri Schiavo‘s family‘s attorney and the attorney for her husband, Michael. 

But we begin with the latest on the case from HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster. 


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In Florida, doctors believe Terri Schiavo now has two weeks before she will starve to death.  Her feeding tube was ordered out after a local judge rejected congressional subpoenas for Schiavo, something her parents‘ lawyer first thought would buy more time. 

DAVID GIBBS, ATTORNEY FOR PARENTS OF TERRI SCHIAVO:  It is a crime.  It is contempt of Congress to do anything to deter an individual from appearing before the Congress when they are officially requested. 

SHUSTER:  But Judge George Greer said he would not invalidate years of court rulings because of the congressional last-minute action. 

JUDGE GEORGE GREER, PINELLAS CIRCUIT COURT:  I‘ve heard no cogent reason why the committee should be able to intervene. 

SHUSTER:  Outside Schiavo‘s hospice, her supporters were devastated. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Lord, please forgive us.

SHUSTER:  Governor Jeb Bush weighed in. 

GOV. JEB BUSH ®, FLORIDA:  Here‘s a woman who is alive.  And starvation is not the appropriate thing to do. 

SHUSTER:  And, in Washington, it all ratcheted up the pressure on Congress.  On Thursday, just before adjourning, the U.S. Senate passed a Terri Schiavo protection bill.  But the Senate measure was different from a version that passed the House earlier in the week, prompting the subpoena effort and then a nasty outburst today from the Republican House majority leader. 

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER:  Those senators responsible for blocking our bill yesterday afternoon have put Mrs. Schiavo‘s life at risk to prove a point. 

SHUSTER:  It‘s not unusual for Congress to try and get involved in private cases.  Eight years ago, lawmakers passed a bill that helped Elizabeth Morgan, who had fled United States after being held on contempt charges.  Morgan alleged in a custody dispute that her ex-husband sexually abused their daughter. 

In the Schiavo case, Congress for days has been unable to agree on what steps to take and charges of hypocrisy are flying at Republicans for pushing to get involved in a state matter. 

(on camera):  Still, it now seems certain that Congress is going to act.  And lawmakers are preparing for the unprecedented step of returning from a two-week recess so the federal government can have a basis for joining the Schiavo litigation. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.


MATTHEWS:  George Felos is the attorney for Terri Schiavo‘s husband, Michael, who fought to remove her feeding tube. 

Mr. Felos, let me ask you, are you afraid of the Congress meeting over the weekend?  We‘ve gotten word that the speaker of the House and the Republican leader of the Senate are going to work through the weekend, they say, to prevent any further—to prevent the death of Terri Schiavo. 

GEORGE FELOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL SCHIAVO:  Well, we‘re concerned.  And, as all Americans should be, we‘re absolutely outraged that the United States Congress is stepping in to a matter that‘s been litigated for years and are really trampling over the deathbed of Terri Schiavo.  This woman has a right to die in peace without artificial life support, as she wished. 

MATTHEWS:  To use a common term regarding brain damage, is Terri Schiavo a flatliner in terms of brain waves right now? 


She‘s a flatliner according to her cerebral cortex.  Her thinking brain is gone.  It has atrophied.  It is not there.  Her EEGs of her cerebral cortex are flatlined.  She does have brain stem function.  She has autonomic functioning.  And that‘s why she‘s in a persistent vegetative state. 

MATTHEWS:  When the family on the other side says that they‘re going to rehabilitate her through training, through some sort of rehabilitation so that she can do things, what is she capable of doing, given her brain damage? 

FELOS:  She‘s not capable of doing anything, Chris.  We don‘t know how to create a cerebrum.  We don‘t know how to recreate brain tissue.  And, Terri, unfortunately will never change. 

But the important thing that Americans need to remember is that, if the United States Congress can insert themselves into this case, they could do it in any case regarding refusal of medical treatment.  Those subpoenas today, issuing a subpoena to force Terri‘s health care providers to force-feed her, against her will, was absolutely outrageous.  The Congress has no authority just to issue a subpoena saying we‘re going to take over the medical treatment of a patient. 


MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, sir.

A couple of weeks ago, we had her father on, Terri‘s father on, who offered a radically different assessment or prognosis for her.  He said that all she needs the rehabilitation, some sort of training, and she‘ll be able to speak, that she could eat or—eat for herself if she‘s given this training.  And he also said she‘s been abused by her husband.  What is all that about? 

FELOS:  It‘s about part of the almost unprecedented campaign of smear and intimidation, not only against Mr. Schiavo, but against the judges in this case and the judicial system. 

It is simply a lie.  It—there is no truth to it.  Those charges have been looked at again and again by justices.  Don‘t you think one of the 40 justices and judges that have looked at this case, if they thought that there was anything improper going on, would have said so? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FELOS:  It just hasn‘t happened.  And the sad fact is, this is the third time Ms. Schiavo‘s feeding tube has been removed.  If Congress passes a—if Congress passes a bill, they will literally be extending force-feeding her against her wishes for years as this sorts through the court system.  It is a shameful thing to do. 

And people should write their congressmen and say, stay out of Terri‘s life.  Let her die in peace. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about her father‘s complaint.  We keep watching these pictures.  They‘re from 2001, I want the audience to know.  These are four-year-old pictures.  What looks to be Terri Schiavo‘s face.  It looks like she has got makeup on.  It looks like she is put together as well as you could under the circumstances. 

What is all that we‘re seeing there, with the fluttering of the eyes and what looks to be something of a smile?  What is all that, as far as you understand, medically? 

FELOS:  Sure.  Vegetative patients have a primitive reflex to sounds.  If you clap your hands loudly, Terri will have a startle reflex.  Her eyes may track something for a few moments. 

If you touch an area on her face, it will look like she‘s smiling.  What you‘re seeing is about 30 seconds of six hours of videotape that were done through medical examinations.  And you don‘t see the hundred of times the parents and the mother asks and say, Terri, it‘s mom.  Talk.  Move.  Move your arms.  Smile.  Say something.  And there‘s absolutely—there‘s absolutely nothing. 

We‘ve had the president of the American Society of Neurologists, heads of medical schools come in and examine Terri and give testimony.  The evidence, the court said, is absolutely overwhelming that there is no cognition.  Sure, Terri, she moves her head.  Her eyes open.  Her eyes close.  She might turn her head towards a sound.  If you touch her neck or her face in a certain way, her face kind of opens up. 

But, unfortunately, there‘s nothing there.  We wish—we wish there was something that could help Terri Schiavo.  Unfortunately, there‘s not.  She said, no tubes for me.  I don‘t want to live artificially.  I would want all the tubes taken out. 

Chris, that‘s a constitutional right.  All of us in this country have the right to refuse medical treatment.  And the court adjudicated her wishes and she has a right to have those wishes carried out. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, sir, for coming on the program tonight, George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo. 

When we come back, we‘ll hear from the attorney for the—for Terri Schiavo‘s parents, plus, U.S. Congressman Dan Burton on why Congress has gotten involved in this case. 

And, later, my exclusive interview with the San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who says many prominent Democrats, who he won‘t name, have told him privately that they support his position in support of gay marriage, even if they don‘t say so in public.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, a Florida judge refuses to allow Congress‘ attempt to involve themselves in the Terri Schiavo case.  We‘ll get reaction from Capitol Hill when HARDBALL returns.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The feeding tube keeping Terri Schiavo alive has been removed today after a judge‘s order.  David Gibbs is the attorney for Schiavo‘s parents, who have been fighting to keep Terri Schiavo alive. 

Mr. Gibbs, thank you for joining us tonight.  This is obviously a critical time for all involved here. 

Do you—how do you describe the medical condition of Terri Schiavo as we speak? 

GIBBS:  Chris, Terri is as alive as you and I are.  We had 33 medical professionals, 10 neurologists that came forward and said she can be taught to speak.  She is swallowing.  She is functioning well.  She acts, candidly, like a 6- to 10-month-old child.  She smiles.  She shows emotion.  She recognizes her mother. 

And the sad thing today is, they‘ve begun starving her to death under a court order. 

MATTHEWS:  Does she suffer from permanent brain damage? 

GIBBS:  What we are being told by the neurologist is that there have been phenomenal advancements and that, while she is brain-injured, that she could improve.  There are many technologies.  Terri has never had a functional MRI.  There‘s never been an MRI done on Terri.  All they did was a... 


MATTHEWS:  Well, why do these judges all—all the judges agreed, all five of them apparently, in this case that were involved formally, said that she suffered from brain damage.  The question is whether it is persistent, whether it‘s permanent, and you use terms like she could improve.  What would be an improvement that you think would be possible? 

GIBBS:  I think Terri could speak words.  She tries to say, I love you to her mother.  I think Terri could be taught to communicate.  I believe Terri could be taught to swallow and eat food on her own.  That‘s one of the sad things in this case.  The judge not only ordered that her food and water would be removed artificially.  He instructed the parents not to try to give her yellow pudding, water with thickener. 

In a sense, this is like taken someone off a ventilator and, if they were somehow beginning to breathe, you would have to smother them with a pillow.  That‘s what‘s been ordered in this case. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about her cognition.  Is she like in an old

·         you know, we have seen these mystery stories like Alfred Hitchcock in the old days where somebody is apparently catatonic, but they‘re really aware, like they say about a lot of Alzheimer‘s victims, that they really are aware of much more than they can show. 

Are you contesting, as part of this argument, that Terri Schiavo is not a vegetable, that she may appear as one, but she is really simply incapable of communicating?  Is that what you‘re saying? 

GIBBS:  Absolutely.  And I would even go so far, Chris, to say that if you at HARDBALL or anywhere else, or if the United States Congress could go in and see her, you would look at her and you would say, Terri is not a vegetable. 

I was in just ahead of this interview.  Terri is responsive.  She is communicative.  She is looking good right now.  And so, when you see Terri Schiavo, how alive she is, you see why the mother and father, Bob and Mary Schindler are so desperately fighting for the life of their daughter. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do we continue to only have the pictures taken of her four years ago?  Why haven‘t there been more recent, like contemporary pictures available for the people in the public who are following this case, especially the people you‘re trying to encourage to get involved?  Why can that we see contemporary pictures of Terri? 

GIBBS:  Because the guardian and the judge have decided that people cannot see Terri.  It creates too much controversy.

When people see how alive she is, they demand that she not be killed in this barbaric manner.  And, Chris, I need to mention, the judge who has decide that Terri should die in this way, has never seen Terri, unbelievably.  He has never had her in court.  He has never come out to see her and he‘s made that determination just from hearing what others say, but never actually taking the time to look at her himself. 

MATTHEWS:  The last time we had the parents on, I guess it was several weeks back now, they made the contention, her father did, that this woman who is lying in that bed we see all the time with her eyes fluttering, has been abused by her husband.  Do you contend that there was some criminal abuse of this woman? 

GIBBS:  What we do know is that she had a deprivation of oxygen to her brain in 1990 that caused her current condition.  A number of things could have caused it, but certainly abuse could have. 

But what we do know then is, the husband promised to take care of her for the rest of his life.  They had only been married for five years before the incident.  He told a malpractice jury, I need millions of dollars, so she can have therapy and rehabilitation.  The award comes in and, when the money shows up, at that point, he decided it was time for his wife to die.  He has gone on with his life.  He has another woman.  They‘ve been together 10 years, two children. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me...

GIBBS:  And he‘s telling the mom and dad, I‘m going to kill your daughter. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about why you believe the United States Congress should take the exceptional move of getting involved in what looks to be a standard case where the courts of any state have to decide on these types of matters?  I‘m sure courts do this all the time.  Why should the Congress get involved here? 

GIBBS:  Well, this is a case that has caught the national attention.  And I think it shocks the conscience.  People are looking at this and saying, this is borderline Hitleresque. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, those are terms...

GIBBS:  We are deciding who should live and who should die.

MATTHEWS:  But why should the Congress intervene legally?  Marriages, we‘re told constantly by all kinds of political figures, are state matters.  Marriages are state matters.  Life and death issues in this case, why are they not the purview of the state?

GIBBS:  Well, federal courts have always been entrusted to handle due process.  If you are a convicted capital killer, you can go to a federal court and make sure that your due process rights haven‘t been violated.

What the Congress is saying is, if Ted Bundy gets a lawyer, somebody like Terri Schiavo should have a lawyer.  And so they‘re extending it to protect the disabled and to give them the same benefits under the law that we give to convicted criminals. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, David Gibbs, attorney for Terri Schiavo‘s parents.

Why is Congress getting involved in this case?  I‘ll Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana when we return.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Republican leaders of the House and the Senate say they‘re going to work through the weekend to try to keep Terri Schiavo alive. 

Congressman Dan Burton is a Republican from Indiana, a member of the Government Reform Committee. 

You are one busy committee. 


MATTHEWS:  What right does Congress have to get involved in a local, a state issue of life and death? 

REP. DAN BURTON ®, INDIANA:  Well, as Tom DeLay, our majority leader, said earlier today, the Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And this woman‘s life is being taken from her.  And we believe that it is being taken in an unfair way. 

She can smile.  She can cry.  She understands people.  She listens.  She follows things around the room.  And the only thing that she‘s not doing is eating food by herself.  And they believe, experts, that she can feed herself... 


MATTHEWS:  How many cases do you think there are right now in the United States where they‘re deciding, in hospitals, with the consultation of the parents or the loved one, what to do in these cases, brain-dead people, people that have been in comas for years, Alzheimer‘s patients?

BURTON:  Alzheimer‘s.

MATTHEWS:  Where it‘s just—where it‘s just progressive year after year. 

BURTON:  Well, let‘s talk about Alzheimer‘s, for instance.

Ronald Reagan, one of the greatest presidents we ever had, had Alzheimer‘s.  Should Nancy Reagan have withdrawn food from him as he got worse and worse?  But this girl isn‘t getting worse.  She‘s not getting worse at all.  But the fact of the matter is, they‘re depriving her of food, when that‘s the only thing that she needs to sustain life. 

MATTHEWS:  But has she gotten any better? 

BURTON:  Has she gotten any better? 

MATTHEWS:  In all these years.

BURTON:  Is that how we determine whether people... 

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m just asking.  Do you have any sense that she‘ll ever wake up? 

BURTON:  Well, oh—well, from what the doctors we have talked to and experts, they think that a speech therapist working with her on a long-term basis could even teach her how the speak. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you think it is a communication problem, that she is catatonic to us, but in herself, she is still present there and could communicate if her...


BURTON:  Oh, yes.  If you listen to doctors and her attorney...

MATTHEWS:  Why do they say a permanent vegetative state, the doctors down there.  Why are the doctors that are testifying... 


BURTON:  Well, you have got more than one doctor that says just the opposite of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but the majority in this case said that she‘s vegetative.

BURTON:  What majority?

MATTHEWS:  The ones that testified before the court.

BURTON:  The ones that were brought in by the husband‘s attorney.  The husband‘s attorney got, what, $1.5 million and said he would take care of her for life. 

MATTHEWS:  So you believe—let me just nail this down, why the Congress is getting involved.  You believe that this woman is simply having a speech problem that could be handled by therapy, that she‘s present to us, her brain is alive, she could communicate with us if we had some rehabilitation?

BURTON:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, do you think that relevant, that question?

BURTON:  I think it is relevant, but that is something that we should think about in the Congress of the United States before we deprive her of her life.  And what‘s going on right now is, they‘re withdrawing the ability for her to feed herself or to be fed. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Congressman, thanks for coming out on a Friday afternoon. 

BURTON:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Dan Burton.

Coming up, my exclusive interview with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who says many mainstream Democrats have told him privately that they support gay marriage, despite taking safer positions in public.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

This week, a judge in San Francisco ruled that California‘s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, the first step in a legal process gay rights group hope will overturn the law.  San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom gained national attention for violating that ban and allowing gay couples to marry. 

In an exclusive interview, I talked with the mayor about the fight over gay marriage and I asked him to respond to the judge‘s ruling. 


GAVIN NEWSOM (D), MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  Well, it basically advances a legal question of whether or not Proposition 22, which was passed in 2000 by 61 percent of the voters, that defines marriage between a man and a woman, is constitutional under the California law. 

MATTHEWS:  And it says that it is not. 

NEWSOM:  It says what Judge Kramer, incidentally, a Republican, a Republican appointee and considered one of the moderate voices on the court, he said clearly that the law is unconstitutional, that there‘s nothing in the Constitution that allows for to us discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation in relationship to marriage. 

MATTHEWS:  So that‘s—he has stricken down, he struck down the proposition which passed; 61 percent of the people voted to outlaw gay marriage. 

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the statute that is on the books from ‘78 that says you can‘t have a gay marriage? 

NEWSOM:  Yes, and we‘re advancing that, too.  There‘s a number of questions that are being advanced.  But the most fundamental is the constitutionality of the law.  That question is going to be left. 

The legislature has got some bills that they‘re going to be addressing the ‘78 law.  The bottom line is, this decision is significant.  If it is not appealed, it will ultimately allow us, in many respects, allow to us to move forward with our efforts to allow nondiscrimination as it relates to marriage. 

MATTHEWS:  If this goes to the state Supreme Court.

NEWSOM:  It will.

MATTHEWS:  And the state Supreme Court—you figure it will. 

NEWSOM:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  They rule, they uphold the proposition, what do you do then?  What do you do as mayor?

NEWSOM:  What do I do now?  I obviously celebrate a great victory. 

And it will be a tipping point in this effort. 

MATTHEWS:  No, If they uphold the law? 

NEWSOM:  Well, if they uphold the law, then we go back to the square one and we start fighting the best we can to start changing hearts and minds. 


MATTHEWS:  Would you obey the law? 

NEWSOM:  Absolutely.  The process worked has quite brilliantly.  I obeyed the law.  Every court decision that has come down, we‘ve obeyed the law. 

MATTHEWS:  But back in last year, in March a year ago, you began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, even though the state law and the proposition both said you couldn‘t. 

NEWSOM:  We challenged the law, but we abided by the court‘s decision.  There was a stay.  We abided by the stay.  The California Supreme Court took this up, and a cease and desist.  We did and we abided by their ruling that said I overstepped my bounds. 

We went to the superior court level, the lower court level on the constitutionality of whether the law was just.  On that basis, we just had a big victory. 

MATTHEWS:  You say you obeyed the law.  You never broke the law. 

NEWSOM:  Well, I challenged the law. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, what is the difference between challenging and breaking?  

NEWSOM:  Well, I guess, in hindsight, absolutely, unquestionably, by the definition of the Supreme Court‘s ruling, they said that I overstepped my bounds and I broke the law, correct.

MATTHEWS:  But you took an oath as mayor of San Francisco to obey the law.  How do you justify not obeying it?

NEWSOM:  That‘s not true.  Actually, no mayor does.  You take an oath of fair—true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the state of California and the Constitution of the United States, to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. 

There‘s nothing in the Constitution, state Constitution or U.S.

Constitution, that allows us to discriminate based on sexual orientation. 

That was the oath of office. 

MATTHEWS:  But doesn‘t the executive have to bow to the legislature in terms of what the law is and how that Constitution is explained? 

NEWSOM:  No question about it. 

What we wanted to do—and we did it very strategically—and absolutely criticize me on this basis.  I tried to put a human face on this issue.  I don‘t think you can deal with discrimination in the abstract.  I wanted to put a story, a life, a narrative about two human beings.  And we took a couple that had been together one half-a-century, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.  And we decided to put them up as a test case to advance the constitutional question. 

What happened, none of us ever imagined.  We expected one couple.  But the courts didn‘t do anything about it.  A couple of attempts to stop us were unsuccessful and it allowed us to go forward for one month; 4,036 couples from 46 states and eight countries then were married.  Never imagined that would happen.  One test case, challenge the law, get into court with a human story, a human face. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look at what the governor said last night, Governor Schwarzenegger.  Here‘s his reaction to that decision you made last year to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. 


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  I think the important issue here is that it should not be the power of a mayor, for instance, like Mayor Newsom in San Francisco. 

MATTHEWS:  You think he was wrong?

SCHWARZENEGGER:  I thought he was overstepping the line, because I thought that this is, again, something that the legislators can do, the people can do, or the court can do, but not individual mayors cannot make up the laws that go along, because, eventually, you have some other mayor in some other town start saying, OK, I think we should hand out guns and ammunitions and we should have free this.

I think we should have—abide by the law and we should have certain rules. 


SCHWARZENEGGER:  And I think that‘s what the fight or the argument was all about, was not that, you know, about gay marriage or domestic partnership, but it was more, should a mayor have the right to do that?  And I think that that is in the end what the question is all about. 


NEWSOM:  No, I don‘t think the question is all about that. 

The question is about human dignity and the full promise of the Constitution.  The question of process is what the governor is criticizing.  But the fact is, they weren‘t—the governor has never been trying to advance the issue of nondiscrimination and same-sex couples.  He has taken no action whatsoever.  So, you sit back and you watch a century go by where people are discriminated against and no one has taken any action. 

You have got either an obligation to stand up on principle or you can roll over and make political statements, like the governor just made.  You know, the fact is, in 1967, Chris—you know this—blacks couldn‘t marry whites in this country until people challenged the law, the Loving decision in the state of Virginia.  They challenged the law.

MATTHEWS:  But who decides which laws are just? 

NEWSOM:  Well, you know what?  Human history.  And you know what?  I don‘t know whether or not this law is just or not, except my conscience says that it is wrong to discriminate against people‘s sexual orientation.  The history of social justice movements are riddled with people that challenged the law, i.e., broke the law...


NEWSOM:  In order to advance principles.  The reason women vote...


MATTHEWS:  But John Brown broke the law on abolition and he was hanged. 

NEWSOM:  Yes, well, if you want to hang me, I think some of your colleagues on other networks want to hang me and arrest me.

MATTHEWS:  Which one?  Name one? 

NEWSOM:  Oh, that guy, what is his name, O‘Reilly, some “Factor”? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, he said that?

NEWSOM:  Of course, because he is fair and balanced, undoubtedly fair and balanced.  He said the governor should come out and arrest me.  Apparently, the governor didn‘t take...


MATTHEWS:  What did you make of the governor‘s metaphor there, the parallel, say you had a law-and-order mayor, say a conservative mayor...

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Who said, you know, I think the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.  I‘m going to let people have guns. 

NEWSOM:  Good.  And the court system is set up for just those kinds of actions.  The system worked brilliantly. 

The fact is, we have a great system.  The courts jumped right in.  There was an effort to stop me.  We went through the process.  We abided by the ruling in the court.  The process works brilliantly. 

MATTHEWS:  Part of the process is politics.  Would you deny or accept the fact, Mayor, Feinstein, the senator from the state, Dianne Feinstein said that you were largely responsible for making the Republicans—giving the Republicans a rallying point in the presidential election last year? 

They had 11 states where they brought up this issue of gay marriage.  All 11 states banned it.  All 11 states, I believe, voted Republican for president. 

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you give them a cause celebre? 

NEWSOM:  No.  I mean, perhaps, we had some influence, but I think it would be naive on any objective analysis to say that a mayor from San Francisco was responsible for the president of the United States‘ success. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you deny that? 

NEWSOM:  Because the issue of this election was about security.  You look at any objective analysis of where the votes came in this election.  They were not wildly dissimilar in those 11 states from where Al Gore had.  The fact is, more evangelical people voted, but, as a percentage, it wasn‘t substantially different. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t believe—you don‘t believe the gay marriage issue was a rallying point for evangelicals? 

NEWSOM:  Of course. 

MATTHEWS:  It got them to the polls. 

NEWSOM:  Of course.  I don‘t think—I think they were going to the polls for Bush anyway.  I mean, I think...


MATTHEWS:  It didn‘t enlarge the margin?

NEWSOM:  I doubt it.  I think in no substantive way.  And I think even the Republican pollsters, Bush pollsters, say that‘s not the reason we won this election.  We won it on security.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why were there—why were there so many ballot initiatives engineered in the key states to help bring out the more Republican vote?


NEWSOM:  But, Chris, before I was even elected and sworn in, this train had left the station.  Congresswoman Musgrave May 21, 2003, instituted—instituted a constitutional amendment or introduced a constitutional amendment in Congress. 

And then Colorado, Senator Allard, later in the year, November 25, one week after the Goodrich decision on November 18, 2003, did the same thing. 


NEWSOM:  And that‘s when Karl Rove and the cultural conservatives made a commitment.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

NEWSOM:  Were committed to by the president to advance the constitutional amendment. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me just ask a bottom line.  You‘re a politician.  You‘ve been elected out here, right?  You‘re popular in the city of San Francisco, right? 

NEWSOM:  I hope so. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying that you made a cost—a politically cost-free decision based upon moral grounds?

NEWSOM:  No, I mean cost-free?  Nonsense.  I mean, you heard Senator Feinstein, who said I should—it is too much too soon, too fast. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but I‘m saying it didn‘t cost the Democratic Party nationally, what you did?

NEWSOM:  I don‘t believe that.  I got to sleep at night.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I‘m asking you.  That‘s the bottom line.

NEWSOM:  Well, I got to sleep at night.  And I think most objective

people agree.  There was a wild overreaction—and you know this full well

·         with that moral values nonsense that came out of that exit polling, where we wildly overstated the importance of that in the context of the... 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s fair enough, because I think a lot of people would have said moral values were important to them any year we have an election. 

NEWSOM:  Of course.

MATTHEWS:  Right.   

NEWSOM:  And it was a close-ended poll.  Only 22 percent of people said moral values.  To me, a moral value is not going in under false pretense into a war we can‘t afford. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Mayor Newsom tells me that a lot of Democrats privately support gay marriage, but won‘t say so in public. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, more of my exclusive interview with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who says big-name Democrats have told him privately that they support gay marriage, despite what they say in public, when HARDBALL returns.



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. 

Let‘s get through this politics for a second here.  I will disagree with you.  I think the gay marriage thing did help the Republicans marginally in the presidential election.  We‘re all entitled to our opinions, because I look at states like Ohio, I see the black vote, different pattern than there used to be. 

NEWSOM:  And, by the way...

MATTHEWS:  I see Don King out there rallying the black churches against the issue.  I think it was used very effectively by the Republicans. 

NEWSOM:  Of course it was.

And let me make this clear.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you agree with me?

NEWSOM:  No.  I don‘t disagree with you at all that it marginally helped.  But do I think it was a deciding factor?  Absolutely, unequivocally not.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.  I think the electoral vote was set as the way it was, for a lot of reasons.

NEWSOM:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the country.  If we had a vote right now, a plebiscite, a national vote on whether we should allow gay people to be married, do you think would it pass? 

NEWSOM:  Overwhelmingly defeated.  But guess what?  Interracial marriage would have been overwhelmingly defeated in ‘67; 70 percent of white Americans opposed the decision on the Supreme Court. 

MATTHEWS:  Right, right, but I‘m just asking.

NEWSOM:  Overwhelmingly defeated. 



MATTHEWS:  So, politically, then, you are pushing an issue you know will lose the popular vote. 

NEWSOM:  Of course. 

MATTHEWS:  How does that help your party to do that? 

NEWSOM:  How—why have a party if you can‘t stand on principles? 

What‘s the point of winning if you can‘t even enunciate your core values? 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the point of having a party if you can‘t get elected? 

NEWSOM:  There‘s way of getting elected when you can advance..


MATTHEWS:  Can you get elected beyond San Francisco? 

NEWSOM:  We‘ll determine.  Who knows.

MATTHEWS:  Could you pull this number in any other city besides San Francisco, what you did? 

NEWSOM:  Absolutely, a lot of cities.

MATTHEWS:  What city could you have started issuing gay marriage licenses?

NEWSOM:  If Mayor Bloomberg had the courage of his convictions, a guy who says he supports same-sex marriage, and he has a local court say it is legal to do so and instead, he appeals, I bet that mayor could get away with it.  It‘s about people standing...


NEWSOM:  ... principle.

MATTHEWS:  Speculation on your part. 

NEWSOM:  Of course, but you asked the question. 


MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m asking it, because how...


NEWSOM:  Of course I‘m answering hypothetically.

MATTHEWS:  Is it a profile in courage in San Francisco to start issuing gay marriage licenses? 


MATTHEWS:  It is not a profile in courage, is it?

NEWSOM:  I mean, I‘m not—I‘m not running for the title of—no chapter...


NEWSOM:  ... profile, Chris.   


MATTHEWS:  But you act like it is a moral claim.  You claim the moral high ground here. 

NEWSOM:  It is a moral...


NEWSOM:  I don‘t claim the moral high ground.  I claim my convictions, my beliefs, my values.  And I believe they‘re Democratic values.  I believe...

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe the Constitution of the United States was written by people who support gay marriage? 

NEWSOM:  Of course not, because, at the time, they didn‘t support women‘s rights.  They didn‘t support blacks from ever being American citizens.  And the Dred Scott decision—in 1986, we reinforced—the U.S. Supreme Court and homosexuality...


MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess the difference is, would they have even thought about it? 

NEWSOM:  You know, I doubt it.  They probably should have, but I don‘t know how they could.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  Five years ago from now, will the country be more mellow on the issue of gay marriage?

NEWSOM:  Of course.  There‘s already more mellow than they were a year ago. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think it is changing? 

NEWSOM:  Because it‘s the right thing and people are recognizing these are human beings and they can‘t deal with discrimination in the abstract.  And they recognize that gays and lesbians are among them, family members.


MATTHEWS:  Why is this country, except for probably Northern Europe, why is this country the country arguing this now? 

NEWSOM:  Because—we‘ve been—because the history of this country is one of, you know, false dreams.  We‘ve hardly been a model to the rest of the world. 


NEWSOM:  Look at the fact we were just executing kids until the Supreme Court finally woke up on that point. 

The fact is, this is a country women couldn‘t vote.  Blacks couldn‘t become citizens.  We wouldn‘t allow interracial marriages.  Protestants couldn‘t marry Catholics.  And we look back with disdain and shock that that was the case.  In my lifetime, they‘re going to look back with shock and disdain that we‘re even having this debate.  It‘s the right thing to do.  We‘re talking about human beings.  We‘re talking about their families, uncles, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.  It‘s the right thing to do.


MATTHEWS:  You don‘t see this point of view.  Maybe try to give you another point of view besides the San Francisco, Bay area point of view.  And I‘m not knocking it. 


NEWSOM:  By the way, we‘ve never elected a gay mayor and we hardly have a huge.... 


NEWSOM:  It‘s an interesting thing.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  I worked for the paper out there for 15 years. 

There wasn‘t exactly a gay community as a whole. 

NEWSOM:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that—that this is an issue that we‘ll ever have a majority support? 

NEWSOM:  Yes, unquestionably. 


NEWSOM:  I think in—well, within my lifetime.  The next generation doesn‘t understand what the big deal is.  I think we just have to come to grips with it.  It‘s inevitable.  This door is opening.

MATTHEWS:  How does the Democratic Party weather this storm of 20 years of taking an unpopular position? 


NEWSOM:  Well, the same way we weathered the storm of standing up on principle for civil rights, when Truman recognized in the Democratic platform... 


MATTHEWS:  But that never got anywhere. 

NEWSOM:  Well, it hurt us.  The Dixiecrat movement started.  And we started losing the South.  But you know what?  That‘s probably one of the proudest moments in the history of the Democratic Party.  And I wish we could recapture that vote about what this party is about and what we stand for.  If we‘re going to become the me-too party and the Republican-light party, we‘re finished as a national party. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you disagree with John Kerry. 

NEWSOM:  Of course.

MATTHEWS:  With Hillary Clinton?


MATTHEWS:  With Bill Clinton. 


MATTHEWS:  Just go through the list, Bill Clinton.

NEWSOM:  Yes, keep going.

MATTHEWS:  Name me a major Democratic Party leader...

NEWSOM:  I‘m not running for president. 

MATTHEWS:  No, name me a major Democratic Party leader that agrees with your stand that Democratic Party ought to stand for gay marriage. 

NEWSOM:  Oh, wait a second . You want to...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m listening—I‘m asking for names.

NEWSOM:  Oh, no, this is two different questions.  Publicly state it or privately state it? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, where did they state this privately to, to you? 

Oh.  And let me assure you, there are people that would shock you that I would never divulge in private conversation that say one thing privately and say another thing publicly.  You want to know the biggest problem in this party is just that.  This party, there‘s a perception...

MATTHEWS:  What about John Kerry? 

NEWSOM:  I don‘t know John Kerry... 


MATTHEWS:  Do you think he was for gay marriage, but wouldn‘t admit it?

NEWSOM:  I know his daughter was.

MATTHEWS:  How about Hillary? 

NEWSOM:  I have no idea. You have got to ask her. 

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m going through the big names, because you‘ve just...

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  This is like the baseball players.  Tell me some names. 

NEWSOM:  Exactly.  I‘m not Canseco.  I have a little bit more loyalty. 

MATTHEWS:  Name me some names.  Name me some big names.  You‘re saying there‘s big-name Democratic people who are two-faced on this.  Give me some names.

NEWSOM:  Of course there are. 

MATTHEWS:  Give me some names.

NEWSOM:  Well, there are big-name Republicans that are two-faced on this.

MATTHEWS:  I think you might be right.  I would just to love who they are.

NEWSOM:  Of course, because it‘s good ratings.

MATTHEWS:  Did you swear secrecy to these guys? 


NEWSOM:  No, I don‘t share private conversations, because it would be wrong, inappropriate.

MATTHEWS:  What do you do, have meetings with these guys?  Let‘s have a private conversation where we stand on gay marriage, but we won‘t tell anybody?

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  These are political figures. 

NEWSOM:  No.  Of course they‘re political figures.  But they‘re also people that recognize the sensitivity publicly on this.

MATTHEWS:  Last question, a straight, tough question. 

NEWSOM:  Bring it on.  These have been easy questions.  Give me a hard one.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Does Hillary Clinton really, deep down, oppose gay marriage? 

NEWSOM:  I don‘t believe so, nor do I believe John Kerry. 


MATTHEWS:  What reason do you have to believe that Hillary is not telling the truth on this issue? 

NEWSOM:  Because I respect her and I think she has got remarkable values and she understands the history of the Democratic Party.  It‘s a proud history.  And I think this is part of that.

MATTHEWS:  So you deep down believe something that she doesn‘t—that she says isn‘t the truth?

NEWSOM:  No.  She may have a different point of view.  I‘m just—I‘m responding to your question.  Deep down, do I believe...


MATTHEWS:  You believe she is for gay rights, on marriage?


NEWSOM:  I know she is for gay rights. 

MATTHEWS:  But gay rights on marriage.

NEWSOM:  And the notion that separate is equal in this country has been rebuked. 

MATTHEWS:  This is fascinating.  This is almost like Bush and Putin. 

You‘re telling me that you know—he says he can see into the souls. 

NEWSOM:  I‘m not saying so.  You said deep down in her soul, hypothetically.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking you.  I‘m asking you, Governor Newsom of San Francisco. 


NEWSOM:  And my gut feeling is, she knows it‘s right.  She knows it‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re telling me you know that Hillary knows it‘s right.


NEWSOM:  I don‘t know this.  I made an opinion, a judgment based upon non...


MATTHEWS:  No, I asked you.  You told me they were two-faced.


NEWSOM:  ... on any fact in evidence.  No, I believe...

MATTHEWS:  You told me the leaders of your party are two-faced.

NEWSOM:  No, I didn‘t.  I didn‘t say the leaders.  You used those names. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, the major figures.  Let‘s go through the list.

NEWSOM:  I said members in the party that I have talked to.  That doesn‘t include the ones you talked about.  So, Chris, you can hypothesize all you want.  Don‘t get people... 


NEWSOM:  You‘re trying to create problems with my party.  I understand that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s start a new reality here, new reality.


NEWSOM:  By the way, I respect Hillary Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Does Hillary Clinton support gay rights deep down? 

NEWSOM:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Does she support gay marriage deep down? 

NEWSOM:  I don‘t know, but my gut says, in her core of cores, at the end of the day, I believe she thinks it‘s the right thing to do.

MATTHEWS:  OK, tougher question, Bill Clinton. 

NEWSOM:  More difficult.  How about Chelsea?  I‘ll bet you $100 Chelsea supports it. 

MATTHEWS:  John Kerry came out and said he was just for civil unions.  Do you believe him or was he really for—if it came up as an issue in Massachusetts, would he really be for it?

NEWSOM:  If he were mayor of San Francisco, I don‘t think he would have ever stood for separate, unequal.

MATTHEWS:  But you said it‘s not relevant whether you‘re mayor or not. 

You could have done this in Lexington, Kentucky. 

NEWSOM:  Right.  I wish you could, but I don‘t think you would last very long. 

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re saying guys like that are moved by where they happened to be sitting at the time, whereas you are not. 

NEWSOM:  No.  You know what? 


MATTHEWS:  You say you‘re morally superior to them because you‘re saying, wherever you were mayor,  you would have supported this. 

NEWSOM:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying those guys would have been with you if they had been in San Francisco.

NEWSOM:  No, you are again putting words in my mouth.  Morally superior?  Gobbledygook.

I could be dead wrong on this.  Members of my family think I am dead wrong about this.  But I believe it, at the core of my core, that it is wrong to discriminate against people. 


NEWSOM:  And I have got an obligation as a human being to advance nondiscrimination.  And guess what?  This human being, for a moment in time, guys like me come and go.  You will have someone in this desk three years from now, some new mayor, some new hot shot, whatever.  And you know what?  I have a chance to try to advance a principle.  I hear politicians like Governor Schwarzenegger talk about principles, but they do nothing to manifest it.  I am fed up with politics as usual and that to me is the penultimate of political answer.  God bless the governor.  I respect and admire...

MATTHEWS:  It might even be the ultimate, not the penultimate.

NEWSOM:  This guy has taken politics to a new level. 

MATTHEWS:  You are great.  Thank you for coming.  You speak from your heart. 

NEWSOM:  I appreciate that.

MATTHEWS:  And I appreciate that.

NEWSOM:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Good to have you on.

NEWSOM:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  I respect you immensely.  I don‘t know whether you can read into the soul of Hillary Clinton or not, but we‘ll go on.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to ask her next time we get her on. 


MATTHEWS:  Can this guy read into your soul?



MATTHEWS:  When we return, reaction to my interview with Mayor Newsom of San Francisco and his claim that prominent Democrats privately support gay marriage, despite what they say in public. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

For reaction to the San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom‘s comments that big-name Democrats privately support gay marriage, we turn to Terry Jeffrey, the editor of “Human Events” magazine and a syndicated columnist, and Amy Goodman, the host of “Democracy Now‘ on Pacifica Radio. 

Amy, what do you think of Newsom and the way he broke the law last year or ignored the law, challenged the law?

AMY GOODMAN, HOST, “DEMOCRACY NOW”:  Well, I think what‘s most important is what he said, that he took an oath to uphold the state and the federal Constitution.  And nowhere does it say that gay men and lesbians should be discriminated against.  He is extremely brave in what he has done. 

MATTHEWS:  So it was OK for him to go above the law to his idea of the Constitution?

GOODMAN:  Well, he—yes.  He is expressing allegiance to the Constitution.  And he said times change. 

And he may not be doing the most politically astute thing for the Democratic Party that has existed until now, but maybe for a new party. 


MATTHEWS:  Suppose the mayor of Philadelphia or Boston said they believe in the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  They‘re not going to enforce any more gun laws.  Would you like that? 

GOODMAN:  I think we‘re talking about content here, not just the principle.  I think we‘re talking about something very important, and that is equal rights and protection of gay men and lesbians, like any other person. 


MATTHEWS:  I thought you were talking about the Constitution, which you were just holding sacred.  I just thought, if you hold the Constitution sacred of any state, why wouldn‘t you hold the Second Amendment sacred? 

GOODMAN:  Well, I think he‘s making a decision based on content here.  And he is saying that he is not breaking—he is not violating his allegiance to the Constitution. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he breaking, is he maintaining his allegiance to top Democrats?  He said a whole slew of Democrats, we wouldn‘t believe their names if they came out, are telling him that they believe in gay marriage, even though they won‘t say so publicly.  Do you believe that? 

GOODMAN:  Well, I think what matters is what the Democrats say, not what they think privately.  I don‘t care what they think privately. 

MATTHEWS:  So you don‘t care whether Newsom is lying or not?

GOODMAN:  I think what matters is what they do.  And it‘s a real shame and a sin that there are some people that are considered second-class citizens in this country.  And Gavin Newsom, on this issue, has been extremely brave. 


Same two questions to you, Terry.  Do you think he was right or wrong in ignoring the law of California, as passed by proposition, 61 percent of the people, and also—that was in 2000 -- but also, a law of the state since 1978, no gay marriages? 

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”:  Well, Chris, I think if the mayor of San Francisco can unilaterally on his own authority decide what marriage is and then start marrying people, then Gavin Newsom tomorrow can call in somebody who has 18 18-year-old girls who want to marry him and say, OK, I marry you, and therefore, it‘s a marriage under Amy‘s definition. 

MATTHEWS:  Because? 

JEFFREY:  Because he makes the law.  If he can determine what a marriage is, he can define a marriage as anything that Gavin Newsom says it is. 


MATTHEWS:  How can you call the refusal to give someone multiple marital partners nondiscrimination or discrimination?

JEFFREY:  Well, you‘re discriminating against people who think polygamy is OK.  Now, some people think two men marrying each is OK.  Why not three men?  What if four or five men want to marry each other?  Would it be discrimination for Gavin Newsom to say, I will marry one man to one man and one woman to one woman, but I won‘t marry five men to five women and I won‘t marry five men to each other?  Why not 53?  You know, Chris...


MATTHEWS:  Well, let Amy respond.

Amy, do you want to respond to that notion? 

GOODMAN:  Well, I simply think that it‘s about time...


GOODMAN:  I think it‘s very important.  In this country, it is about time that gay men and lesbians be given full rights. 

It‘s interesting.  Corporations will often give same-sex benefits to partners of gay men and lesbians, because they recognize they can‘t get by without doing that.  And I also think that it is—that discrimination against gay men and lesbians, for example, firing them, gay and lesbian translators who were translating after 9/11 or before, that‘s a threat to national security. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GOODMAN:  It hurts us all around. 


MATTHEWS:  Do you want to respond to the—do you think polygamy is wrong by its nature? 

GOODMAN:  I think marriage between gay men—gay men or lesbians is something that is a—must be recognized in this country. 

JEFFREY:  She can‘t answer your question, because...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what‘s wrong with a heterosexual marriage that involves more than two partners?  There‘s a tradition of that.

GOODMAN:  Excuse me?

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a tradition of that. 

JEFFREY:  It‘s legal in some countries in this world. 

MATTHEWS:  Polygamy, what‘s wrong with it morally or constitutionally? 

GOODMAN:  I think that‘s a completely different issue right now. 


GOODMAN:  We‘re talking about individual rights. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I think it may not be the same at all, but it is another question of individual rights.  Do you believe in it or don‘t you?  In fact, a lot of people religiously used to.

Anyway, thank you very much, Terry Jeffrey and Amy Goodman.

Monday on HARDBALL, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert, will be my guest.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.


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