Guests: Bill Richardson, Jon Meacham, Tom DeFrank, Nancy Reagan
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, violence in Argentina, as more than 1,000 anti-American protesters clash with police. Plus, Karl Rove, Bush‘s brain, remains under investigation. Can the president keep him at his side after all this?
And Ronald Reagan was elected president 25 years ago today. We will talk to former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
More bad news from the president today, as anti-American protesters burn American flags and chant “Get out, Bush” at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina. We will have a live report from Mar Del Plata in a moment.
And, on the 25th anniversary of her husband‘s first presidential victory, Nancy Reagan is coming on HARDBALL.
We begin tonight with NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and NBC‘s Laura Saravia in Argentina itself.
Put this in perspective, the pictures we have been watching tonight, Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is exactly what you have come to expect, anti-globalization protests. We saw it most violently initially in Seattle in 1999, then again in Genoa in 2001.
So, these have been protests first against the Clinton administration, now against George Bush. But there is an extra added element, in that this president has not been able to travel around the world, even in what used to be friendly countries in Europe, because of the war, and anti-American sentiment there and certainly in the Middle East. This today came to a head. It was not unexpected. And, in fact, the leaders went on with their summitry without any deference to the protests.
They were still blocks away and behind several layers of security, as Laura will be able to tell you. But it is certainly true that this is an expression of Latin American sentiment against the United States. These are generations of people who, in the ‘90s, started to organize in Argentina, the Piqueteros, who were underemployed and unemployed Argentinians from the suburban slums who had been squeezed out by the economic effects of changes that the government was forced to make, according to IMF agreements with Washington, and corruption in the Argentinian government and bureaucracies that, of course, led to a failed economy.
So, they have—they have wasted their resources. They have not reform their government. And this is partly the result. But there‘s also, I think, in this, Chris, organized protesters who travel and feed into the sentiment. And, of course, also, it was incited partly by Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela, the leftist leader, who has been a very sharp critic of U.S. policy.
MATTHEWS: Is Hugo Chavez...
MATTHEWS: Closer to home, Hugo Chavez, from Caracas, which is only about four hours from here in Washington by plane—is Hugo Chavez going to be the successor to Fidel Castro as our number one bete noire in the—in the hemisphere?
MITCHELL: Certainly, he would like to be. He doesn‘t carry the
history of a Fidel Castro, the history of antagonism toward the United
States, and the history, frankly, of—of rivalry with the U.S. and, of
course, all of the background of U.S. hostility towards Cuba, towards the -
I should say, at least toward the Castro regime in Cuba.
But Chavez has something that Fidel Castro doesn‘t have, natural resources. Venezuela is rich in oil. And that is, of course, what props up his government.
MATTHEWS: Why do the people of Argentina, even the most desperate, blame us—they‘re so far away from here—for their problems?
MITCHELL: It is a classic contrast of rich and poor. Even though the United States certainly has a lot of poverty itself here at home, we are perceived in these countries as being the cause of all of their problems.
And even though an enormous amount of American help and resources has
been poured into Argentina and other of these countries to try to help fix
their economy, they believe that our prescriptions are only making things
worse. So, there is a tremendous amount of resentment. A lot of that is -
is traditional. You see it all—going all the way back to the—the rioting in Caracas, Venezuela, against Richard Nixon...
MATTHEWS: Right. Back in the ‘50s.
MITCHELL: Back in the ‘70s, late ‘60s and—and—rather—excuse me—in the ‘50s and ‘60s, in fact.
But this is not—this goes beyond that, because there certainly is an anti-American sentiment that has been fueled by policies on global warming, policies on the war that have come with this administration.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Andrea Mitchell, NBC‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent.
Let‘s go on to the scene right now with Laura Saravia. We‘re joined by phone by her. And she‘s down there right now—and also by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.
First to Laura.
The situation of the president right now—is he secure?
LAURA SARAVIA, NBC MEXICO CITY BUREAU CHIEF: The police have secured area, Chris. It‘s much quieter now.
It was a long day of growing tensions. And everybody thought that it was going to happen at some point. Morning meetings, you know, the Chavez speech and everything was kind of warming up demonstrators, you know, against free trade and against Bush‘s efforts and Bush‘s presence in Mar Del Plata.
So, finally, violence broke right as the protesters had tried to break through security perimeters set up to protect leaders and in the summit, set up fires. They had also Molotov bombs, homemade bombs, Molotov bombs. They set fire to local branches, shops. They threw, like I said, homemade Molotov cocktails to police officers, as well as a lot of stones and rocks.
Finally, police control—police arrived in big numbers. They controlled the crowd. What they did is, they went through the main street where the violent demonstrations were protesting. And they just moved everybody out of that area to make sure that the security perimeter was not being affected and the leaders will not be affected by these violent demonstrators.
MATTHEWS: Laura, thank you very much for joining us.
Right now, we are going to be joined on the phone, as I—with former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.
Mr. Secretary, we‘re looking at a lot of idiotic violence here. All they‘re doing is destroying property. They don‘t even seem to be looting here. They‘re just destroying windows in a kind of—I don‘t know what—kind of opera of—of absurdity here to make a point.
What is the point they are making down there?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Chris, the first thing I have noticed, watching—I‘m watching right now.
You will notice, there are almost as many people taking photographs as there are people breaking windows. What are they—the point they‘re trying to make? Look, first of all, I think this has very clearly been orchestrated and planned by anti-American elements, but not just anti-American elements. I think you have to put into this—and some of your people already have—Andrea has.
This—this is also against the globalization of trade and the strong feelings on the part of some of these people that it is disadvantageous to Argentina. I think that‘s baloney, but that‘s not the point. The point is, they believe it. And the point is that the Hugo Chavezes of this world, and the far left in Latin America, have been able to play on this for some time.
And I think what you see here is—first of all, it is not a very large demonstration, as far as I can tell. It‘s less than 2,000 people, I gather.
MATTHEWS: And, luckily, no—no real tragic violence level.
EAGLEBURGER: You know, I think...
MATTHEWS: Only a couple of—of police officers injured—no one killed—about 60 arrests. But, as you say, it is a—it is somewhat theatrical, even though we are seeing some property being destroyed here.
EAGLEBURGER: Chris, what it also is, is, they‘re getting what they want, which is the photographs and the—the police showing up and so forth.
And I have to admit it. And that is, there is an extra element, which is that our president is not terribly popular abroad. I happen to be a firm supporter of his. But I think, at the same time, you have to admit that his—U.S., I would guess I would say, interventionism or unilateralism, whichever you want to call it, has caused some fairly substantial reactions around the world.
I‘m inclined to believe that the president did what he felt he had to do for the security of the country.
EAGLEBURGER: But there‘s no question, he is less popular than a lot of American presidents who have been on trips.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Lawrence—Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state.
Coming up, the CIA leak investigation—Karl Rove remains under investigation. Should he resign his post at the White House?
And, later, it‘s been 25 years since Ronald Reagan was elected president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I aim to try and tap that great American spirit that opened up this completely undeveloped continent from coast to coast and made it a great nation, survived several wars, survived a Great Depression, and will survive the problems that we face right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I will be talking to former first lady Nancy Reagan here, the mother of our colleague, our colleague Ron Reagan, who is on all day here at MSNBC.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, should Karl Rove resign from the White House?
He‘s under investigation still. And the president won‘t comment about it.
And, later, Nancy Reagan is going to join us here.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Now to the latest in the CIA leak case.
“The New York Times” reported this morning that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has narrowed his investigation into White House adviser Karl Rove to the role of playing—what role he played in possibly concealing a conversation he had with “TIME” magazine‘s Matt Cooper from the grand jury.
What role did Rove play in the CIA leak? That‘s our question tonight.
HARDBALL‘s David Shuster is with us now.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, lawyers in the case say that Karl Rove remains under investigation and could still be indicted. And a legal source tells MSNBC that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spoke in recent days with the lawyer for “TIME” magazine reporter Matt Cooper and reviewed Cooper‘s conversations two years ago with Rove.
And “The New York Times” is reporting that Fitzgerald is evaluating whether Rove tried to keep these conversations from the grand jury and should therefore be charged with perjury. The Cooper-Rove conversation on July 11 was the first time Matt Cooper said that he had ever heard that the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson worked at the CIA. Rove‘s lawyer has acknowledged that, in early appearances before the grand jury, the presidential adviser recalled talking about Wilson with columnist Bob Novak, but did not recall talking about Wilson or the trip to Niger with “TIME” magazine‘s Matt cooper.
But prosecutors have an e-mail from Rove to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley in which Rove wrote about his conversation with Cooper—quote—“He, Cooper, immediately launched into Niger. I said, if I were him, I wouldn‘t get ‘TIME‘ far out on this.”
Three weeks ago, during his final appearance at the grand jury, Rove corrected his testimony, according to his lawyer, and blamed his earlier statements on faulty memory.
But, regardless of Rove‘s legal status, his disclosures to Matt Cooper and Bob Novak have put President Bush in something of a bind because of this pledge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I would like to know it. And we will take the appropriate action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Today, in Argentina, President Bush was asked if Karl Rove should leave the administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I have told you before that I‘m not going to discuss the investigation until it is completed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: But the question was not about the investigation. It was simply about whether Karl Rove should stay or go.
And Republicans, citing the president‘s 39 percent approval rating, are eager to get the cloud of the CIA leak scandal away from the White House. And, Chris, that has put tremendous pressure both on the White House, and, of course, on Karl Rove—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster.
Joining us right now is the managing editor of “Newsweek” magazine, Jon Meacham, and Tom DeFrank of “The New York Daily News.”
I want to ask Tom a news note right now, just for a minute. Is there some bomb threat at work right now that has been uncovered in London?
JON MEACHAM, MANAGING EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”: Chris, are you talking to me?
MATTHEWS: Yes, Jon.
MATTHEWS: What has “Newsweek” got on this?
MEACHAM: It is on Newsweek.com right now. Mark Hosenball broke a story that there have been three men arrested in London in possible connection with a possible plot for car bombs that could have been targeted at the White House and the Capitol. So, Mark broke that this afternoon. It has just gone up on Newsweek.com. And we will have it in the magazine, obviously, on Sunday and Monday.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the timing of the possible attack?
MEACHAM: Unclear at this point, and unclear whether—as—as
always, with these plots, or these arrests, it is hard to know, obviously,
how far along the planning was. But there have been the arrests. And the
the potential targets, apparently, were, in fact, the White House and the Capitol.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Jon.
Let me ask you, Tom DeFrank, you first.
The developments in this—we have been watching all week now, since the last time—since the indictment was handed up on Friday of Scooter Libby for five counts, up to 30 years imprisonment, potential. Now we thought, at least, last Friday that Karl Rove might be out of the woods on this. All week long, the newspapers have been competing with the latest news on Karl Rove‘s investigation.
Is he still a target here?
TOM DEFRANK, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: Well, I don‘t know whether he is a target in the legal sense, Chris, but he is not out of the woods.
His—his side, his advocates, his defenders last weekend were furiously spinning that his lawyers were very comfortable. They thought he was well on the way to being cleared as recently as this afternoon. Somebody at a pretty high level told me that they thought there was still a 90 percent chance Karl Rove had no legal problem.
But something is going on here. And I don‘t believe that—the body language all week long suggests that this is not just mop-up on the part of Patrick Fitzgerald.
MATTHEWS: So, he is busy.
DEFRANK: He is busy. He‘s active.
MATTHEWS: Calling up editors of magazines.
DEFRANK: Something—something is going—something is going on.
But—and it sounds like it is more substantial, as opposed to less substantial. But only Mr. Fitzgerald and his team really knows.
MATTHEWS: What have you got at “Newsweek,” Jon, about this continued investigation here, tight investigation, of Karl Rove?
MEACHAM: Well, we know that there is still an enormous amount of pressure.
I think that the sense last week of relief, the sigh of relief that swept the East Coast coming out of Washington, I think, has been sucked back in a bit. And it is unclear exactly, as Tom says, what Fitzgerald has exactly got. But there‘s a good story in “The New York Times” this morning about whether or not Karl was fully forthcoming on that first grand jury appearance in the—early in the investigation, about the conversation with Matt Cooper.
The e-mail pops up. He goes back to the grand jury and acknowledges it. But, apparently, what Fitzgerald wants to know is, was Rove doing something like what Libby has been charged with, in not revealing—Karl says he doesn‘t remember it—the conversation with Matt, in the summer of ‘03?
MATTHEWS: One of the worst aspects of the political life is the—is the phenomena of rolling disclosure, Tom Frank—you know that—Tom DeFrank—you know it and Jon—Jon knows it—where you just distribute information when it is convenient to you or necessary for to you put it out, but you have been hiding it all the time.
Politicians are sneaky beasts. And their staffers are sneaky beasts. And they keep things to themselves. What good does it do for a special prosecutor to say, oh, thank you, Karl, for telling me about a conversation you had with a “TIME” magazine reporter in which you leaked the identity of this woman, and I only know about it not because you told me, because I found an e-mail from you to Stephen Hadley, telling him all about your conversation that you could not remember?
DEFRANK: It‘s not a good development, Chris.
And, you know, I have said this for years. And I don‘t—I don‘t make any presumptions of—of guilt or innocence...
DEFRANK: ... here on Scooter Libby or anybody else who has not been indicted. Presumption of innocence is awfully important here.
I will say, as a political observation—it is amazing to me—and I have been in this town for 37 years—it is amazing to me how some of the best and the brightest, time after time after time, when they get into a bind, these brilliant people suddenly develop troubling amnesia.
DEFRANK: They can‘t remember anything.
MATTHEWS: Complete amnesia.
DEFRANK: I mean, it‘s amazing.
MATTHEWS: And then they remember, in the case of Scooter Libby, conversations that didn‘t occur.
MATTHEWS: And they blame their memory on—it‘s not a question of a bad memory. It‘s a bad, willful, imaginative memory, isn‘t it, Jon?
MEACHAM: It is, absolutely.
And I think one thing we this Friday, because of what happened last Friday, is that Fitzgerald really doesn‘t like learning about things from other sources, as you were just saying. He—remember, the most passionate part of his press conference, I thought, last week was the idea in that rather long metaphor—it was really a metaphysical conceit by the time it was over—of the baseball player.
But the idea that Libby was not telling—wasn‘t enabling him to get at the truth.
DEFRANK: And the allegation about Rove, if he deliberately didn‘t remember the conversation with Matt in which he discussed—the identity of—or at least the—the CIA agent angle of this, falls exactly into that zone—zone, where Fitzgerald was being slowed down by a nondisclosure. And I think we saw a kind of passion in—with Fitzgerald last week, that that really, really doesn‘t sit well with him.
MATTHEWS: And, also, when he reads that some of these people who can‘t remember things, and don‘t remember that they‘re under—they‘re talking about classified information, are heard telling their colleagues, I better not tell you this on an insecure phone, and—and all this careful handling of information they claim they didn‘t know was top-secret.
More with Jon Meacham and Tom DeFrank when we return.
And, coming up, former first lady Nancy Reagan is going to be here to talk about the 25th anniversary of her husband‘s election to the presidency.
On Sunday, NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” Senators Ted Kennedy and Tom Coburn join Tim Russert to talk about Iraq and the Supreme Court nomination.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We are back with “Newsweek”‘s managing editor, Jon Meacham, and Tom DeFrank of “The New York Daily News.”
Tom, you have been very hot on this story for a one-man band. You‘re getting a lot of stories broken here. I want to ask you to break another one. Who in the White House is trying to get rid of Karl Rove?
DEFRANK: I don‘t know. I wish I could tell you, Chris. But I will tell you, it is...
MATTHEWS: Someone that is pretty high up, right?
DEFRANK: ... somebody way up the food chain, because that “Washington Post” story on Wednesday that you‘re referring to, front-page story, had to be really well-sourced.
Given this climate, “The Washington Post...”
MATTHEWS: Was it backed up by the president? Is he trying to send a signal to his old partner that he would like to see him step out?
DEFRANK: Somebody is trying to send signals to Karl Rove. And I—and I—I believe these were authorized leaks at some level. I don‘t know whether it was the president, but they were authorized.
MATTHEWS: Jon, only a couple seconds—a couple—one minute left here.
MATTHEWS: Is the president better off if Karl Rove gets tagged with a
a one count for misstatement of fact? At least that gives him an excuse to boot him?
MEACHAM: I don‘t think—no. I don‘t think any criminal charge or indictment is good news for the president.
But new blood is good for the president. It is funny. The—the great example of a second term that got turned around, which Mrs. Reagan, whom you‘re about to talk to...
MEACHAM: ... was a big part of, was moving Don Regan out and moving Howard Baker and Tommy Griscom in.
MATTHEWS: Can Laura do the same thing to this president and say, George, you know, you have got to move—move some new people in and get rid of some of the problem?
MEACHAM: I think that is—I think that is almost essential, if history...
MEACHAM: ... is any guide.
MATTHEWS: Happy weekend, everybody. More coming next week on this one. It keeps—it keeps giving, this story. Anyway, Jon Meacham of “Newsweek,” managing editor; Tom DeFrank, bureau chief of “The New York Daily News,” which I said before is still hot on this story.
Up next, it‘s been 25 years since Ronald Reagan won the White House. And he remains one of America‘s—and this is a bipartisan statement—most beloved presidents. I want to talk to former first lady Nancy Reagan next.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Twenty years ago—it is hard to believe—Ronald Reagan won the White House in a landslide. It was a stunning victory and charted a new course for America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. REAGAN: Thanks very much. Thank you.
Let me just say, first of all, this has been—well, there‘s never been a more humbling moment in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS (voice-over): After losing in 1976, many considered Ronald Reagan a presidential long shot in 1980. He was a former actor, TV host, union leader, governor of California. And even though handsome and youthful at age 69, he was considered, by some, too old to be president.
But, 25 years ago, Ronald Reagan surprised the nation and the world. The election was a landslide, with 489 electoral votes to Jimmy Carter‘s 49. He became the 40th president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. REAGAN: ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: When he took the oath of office on January 20, 1981, the country was troubled. We were financially burdened with 21 percent interest rates. The misery index had reached the level of extreme cruelty. And the Cold War was still a fact of global life. And, most important, 50 American hostages were being held by radical students in Tehran.
When Reagan came into office, he brought with him a dramatic uptick in national morale. The hostages were released even before his inaugural. He cut taxes, increased spending on national defense, took heat for some tough cuts on social programs, and managed to lead the country through the deepest recession since the 1930s. He also took some historic steps.
In a bold move, Reagan, known as the great communicator, stood before the Berlin Wall with all the world watching and asked:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Call it good timing, but, two-and-a-half years later, the wall was gone. And, ultimately, so, too, was the Soviet Union and the Cold War. His two terms in office are now in the history books as the Reagan revolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. REAGAN: As I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who, for eight years, did the work that brought America back.
My friends, we did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Through all the highs and lows of Reagan‘s life and his presidency, his wife, Nancy, was at his side. He called her his rock, his inspiration, the love of his life.
And when the president left us on June 5, 2004, the last face he saw was that of his dear wife, Nancy. Their daughter Patti later recounted that, when her father looked at her mother for the last time, he showed us that neither disease nor death can conquer love.
MATTHEWS: Joining us right now is the former first lady, Nancy Reagan.
It‘s great to have you, Mrs. Reagan.
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great.
Do you realize it‘s 25 years ago today that President Reagan was inaugurated?
N. REAGAN: No, I didn‘t realize it until you said it. My lord, 25 years.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was...
N. REAGAN: That‘s a long time.
MATTHEWS: It was his Election Day.
I want to ask you about, were you surprised at the fact that he won almost every state that day?
N. REAGAN: Yes, I was.
N. REAGAN: Yes, I was. I...
MATTHEWS: Did you think it would be a closer contest?
N. REAGAN: Yes. Yes. Uh-huh. I always thought that they would be close.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the inaugural. You must remember that that—day in Washington when you were up there on the west front of the Capitol with the president. And what was it like to be up there?
N. REAGAN: You know, it‘s terrible. Moments that you really hope you will remember clearly, you don‘t remember clearly.
For instance, when we got married, I don‘t remember all that clearly. I remember that day that you‘re talking about, the wonderful view. I think that was the first time, wasn‘t it, that...
MATTHEWS: Yes, it was.
N. REAGAN: ... it had been held there—the wonderful view and all the people. That‘s, you know...
MATTHEWS: Did you like the speech?
N. REAGAN: Pardon me?
MATTHEWS: Did you like the speech?
N. REAGAN: Of course I liked the speech.
MATTHEWS: Did you get to read it before he delivered it?
N. REAGAN: No, I don‘t think so.
Well, let me ask you about—about the experience of moving into the White House. And everybody wonders what it‘s like. And only a few people in our history have had the experience of actually living in the White House. When you go there at night, and everybody has left, and you may have had a party that night, and it‘s just you and the president there, maybe some guests, do you feel the old history in that building, or how—what‘s it like at night?
N. REAGAN: Well, it‘s lovely.
N. REAGAN: We loved living there. And, as far as history goes, yes, of course you—you feel the history.
We had a little dog, Rex, and there was all that talk about that ghosts, you remember...
N. REAGAN: ... in Lincoln‘s Bedroom?
N. REAGAN: And Maureen, Ronnie‘s daughter, who‘s now deceased, she and her husband used to spend a lot of nights in Lincoln‘s Bedroom.
And they told us that they had seen Lincoln‘s ghost, both of them on separate occasions. And then we thought, well, you know, they‘re just kind of making believe here...
N. REAGAN: But we walked down. And we had Rex with us, and Rex would get to the edge of Lincoln‘s Bedroom, would not go in the room.
N. REAGAN: Strange.
MATTHEWS: Poltergeist in the White House.
MATTHEWS: Did you ever sense during—did you ever sense the—the presence of the past? I mean, I—you know, you—you hear stories about Richard Nixon walking along and talking to the pictures, and I guess he had a more difficult time than President Reagan and you did.
But did you ever feel during times of crisis that you were in Lincoln‘s house?
N. REAGAN: No. No. I can‘t say I did. No.
You were—you were conscious of—you know, you would look at the walls in the different rooms and think, my gosh. The people who have sat here, and what were they saying and what were they thinking? You know?
MATTHEWS: What was it like to be the hostess, because you had to really oversee all those great state occasions, with Margaret Thatcher and other people coming over, and Gorbachev, of course? And what was it like to be responsible for these grand—these grand occasions, where everything had to click?
N. REAGAN: It was wonderful.
N. REAGAN: It was really wonderful. I loved giving state dinners. I had more fun.
And, you know, if you want to have a dinner, the White House is the best place to do it. You can just say, tonight, I want 75 people for dinner.
N. REAGAN: And you don‘t have to worry about it. It happens.
N. REAGAN: No, I—I loved it.
MATTHEWS: What was it like coming back for the prince of Wales and the princess of Cornwall?
N. REAGAN: Well, it was—it was nice, a little—a little nostalgic, of course. But it was very nice. And I saw a lot of the staff who had been there when we were there, and it was nice.
MATTHEWS: They really liked you, didn‘t they, the staff? They liked the Reagans.
N. REAGAN: Well, I hope so, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, I mean, they don‘t like everybody that stays there.
I can tell you that. You‘re the—there‘s a mixed bag of—of...
MATTHEWS: ... occupants of the White House over the last 50 years, and I hear that they really liked you and the president, President Reagan, as bosses, basically.
N. REAGAN: Well, I hope so. I think so. I hope so. We liked them, certainly.
MATTHEWS: Do you ever watch any of the programs that are—I want to ask you this. Are you amazed at the popularity of some of these programs about the presidency, like “Commander In Chief” with Geena Davis and “West Wing” all these years?
N. REAGAN: Yes, in a way. In a way, uh-huh.
MATTHEWS: Because I‘m amazed, because it‘s so unlike the reality. I mean, the West Wing is one of the quietest places in the world. It‘s so respectful.
MATTHEWS: And you can smell the new paint, usually, and the rhododendrons. And nobody speaks above a hush. And yet, when you‘re watching “West Wing,” it‘s like an emergency room in a hospital.
MATTHEWS: Everybody is rushing around and...
N. REAGAN: I know.
MATTHEWS: ... strangers who are unexplained and unnamed passing in the hallway.
N. REAGAN: I know.
N. REAGAN: That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not like that, is it?
N. REAGAN: No, of course not. Uh-uh, no.
But it‘s like—on another subject, but “ER.” As a doctor‘s daughter...
N. REAGAN: ... I would watch “ER,” and they were shouting and yelling and going back—it was never like that, ever.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the—about the whole time that has passed.
Are you surprised that your husband—and I‘ll speak familially here
your husband, who you spent all your—all your life with, became one of the great 10 presidents in history?
N. REAGAN: Well, I can‘t say that I was surprised. I—because, of course, I thought so, too.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but, you know, like...
N. REAGAN: I knew it all along, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just—I know you. I know you are romantic and you‘re optimistic. And you believe the best will happen.
MATTHEWS: But I was just thinking. I was going through the numbers today. President Reagan was 69 when he ran for president.
N. REAGAN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He had lost a very close race to Jerry Ford, the incumbent, the appointed incumbent, back in ‘76. Most people would have said, you know, he might as well give up; he doesn‘t have a prayer at this point.
And, yet, he came back and he won. He had a tough—he won the primaries.
N. REAGAN: I know.
MATTHEWS: He did the job. He lost, what, Iowa and he came back and won in New Hampshire. And he just kept going.
N. REAGAN: Well, Ronnie—Ronnie was very competitive. Once he made up his mind that he was going to do something, then he was very competitive, and that didn‘t surprise me.
MATTHEWS: Was President Reagan more Jimmy Stewart or more Jimmy Cagney?
N. REAGAN: Oh.
N. REAGAN: More Jimmy Stewart, I think.
MATTHEWS: Oh, really? So, he was really nice—a nice guy.
N. REAGAN: He was really a nice guy.
MATTHEWS: You know, the thing that was—one of the great things about your husband, President Reagan, I always thought, was his complete unassuming honesty and joy, in the fact that he had come from the background that he had come from, as a sports reporter on the radio back in the tough times, to being a part of the Hollywood community, to being a union leader, to being one of the real people in the Hollywood community, and had gone from there to TV and then gone on to politics.
And he never closed any of the doors behind him.
N. REAGAN: No. that‘s right. That‘s right, never, never—kept in touch with everybody and never—never apologized, certainly, for his background or what he had done, ever.
No, he—he was remarkable.
MATTHEWS: I think it was great, because he was so transparent that way. I thought that was great.
We‘re going to come back in just a moment, everybody watching right now, with Nancy Reagan. She‘s on the phone from California. And we‘re just going to talk for a few more minutes about her memories on this day, which—I have to correct myself. It was 25 years ago today, obviously, that he was elected president in November.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, much more with former first lady Nancy Reagan, 25 years after Ronald Reagan was elected president.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
We‘re on the phone with Mrs. Nancy Reagan, the former first lady. And she was here in Washington this week to help welcome the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall.
What is he like? What‘s—what is the prince of Wales like, Mrs.
N. REAGAN: Oh, he‘s—he‘s a very, very nice man, and I‘ve known him a long, long time, long before—gosh, long before Ronnie went into politics, and when—when he was very young.
Oh, he‘s a very nice man. And I think—I think he‘s—he‘s made a lot out of that particular job that he was handed. I mean, you know, it‘s a difficult position to be in, to make a life for yourself. I think he‘s done a very good job.
MATTHEWS: It‘s difficult being the child of a movie star, but what is it like to be the child of a queen...
MATTHEWS: ... and to be expected to be a king because of your birth?
N. REAGAN: Yes. Yes. It‘s very hard. And it‘s very hard to make it
that period before supposedly you become a king of a queen, to make your life meaningful. And he‘s done that very well, I think.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve—you and your husband both, President Reagan, both were well known for spending time with the queen of England, with Elizabeth.
MATTHEWS: President Reagan, I‘ve seen some famous pictures of him, I think, riding with her. Is that true?
N. REAGAN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: And you‘re all horse people. What‘s she like? What is the queen of England like?
N. REAGAN: She‘s great. And, you know, most people think that she has no sense of humor and she‘s very serious.
And that‘s just not true. She has a wonderful sense of humor. And we had a great time with—with them both when we went to Windsor and spent the weekend with them. And she and Ronnie went riding. And that was when the whole idea of their coming over here and spending some time here, so that they could go riding at the ranch.
Well, this is a long story. And, of course, I‘m sure you know it, but they came. And the rains came, too.
N. REAGAN: And I think we threw in a little earthquake to make it really complete.
MATTHEWS: To welcome them, yes.
N. REAGAN: It was a terrible, terrible time. And Ronnie was so apologetic. And she would say, no, no, don‘t apologize. This is an adventure.
MATTHEWS: Is it somewhat unequal or unsymmetric—asymmetric—to have yourself elected by the American people, this huge country, and elected in a difficult political process and become president and first lady, and then find yourselves in close company with people who inherited it just because of blood? Is—is it odd, or is it something that‘s comfortable?
N. REAGAN: Never think about it, Chris.
N. REAGAN: It just never occurs to me.
MATTHEWS: Well, you‘re being very charitable.
MATTHEWS: Because the American people would say, it‘s a hell of a lot bigger deal to be elected president of the United States than to happen to find yourself with the right genes and to just be prince, you know?
MATTHEWS: But you like all these people.
Well, you have—you have obviously been doing well. And it‘s great to see you laughing...
N. REAGAN: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... and hear you laughing. And I‘m going to see you the minute I get out there next time, if you will see me.
N. REAGAN: I hop—well, I hope you come. I‘m waiting for you.
MATTHEWS: It‘s—it‘s—thank you, Mrs. Reagan, for coming on to talk about the 25th anniversary of the presidential election of Ronald Reagan.
N. REAGAN: Thank you, Chris. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
See you soon.
MATTHEWS: I didn‘t get a chance to tell Nancy—I‘m telling her now
that it‘s great working with Ron. He‘s a pal of ours, everybody‘s, here.
Anyway, when we return, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is going to be with us.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: From congressman, to ambassador, to the U.N., to energy secretary, Bill Richardson has made a name for himself as a global troubleshooter and skilled negotiator with some of the most feared dictators of our time. He is now the Democratic governor of New Mexico and has written a book about his life called “Between Worlds: The Making of An American Life.”
Governor Richardson, thank you for joining us.
You come from an interesting background. Didn‘t you once say something? You look like an Indian, you‘re from a Latin family, a Latino family, and you have a—a Anglo name?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: That‘s right.
And I said that, in New Mexico, where you have a Hispanic, Native American and Anglo population, it has helped me get elected. But it shows the diversity of New Mexico. And this book, Chris, the basic message is, this is a great country that gives opportunities to minorities, to Hispanics. It just goes through my career and the ups and downs, and, at the same time, shows that negotiating, talking to people, differences and having a cultural background of diversity, like Irish-American, Italian-American...
RICHARDSON: ... Hispanic, is really an asset. And we should use that more.
MATTHEWS: When you think of your background and you think back to your roots, like some of us do once in a while. Americans don‘t tend—tend to do much of that. Do you think of yourself as like hemispheric, Pan-American, whereas most Americans, a lot of Americans, think of themselves as sort of coming from Europe somewhere? Do you feel like you have sort of come up through the Americas? Or how do you feel about yourself that way?
RICHARDSON: I feel that I‘m part of a Hispanic America.
My mother is Mexican. She is 92 years old. I have lived in Mexico. I have had those immigrant roots. I‘m a governor of a Hispanic state, close to 42 percent, 11 percent Native American. I feel like I‘m part of a community that is going to be the future of America.
RICHARDSON: Not taking it over, but it is going to grow enormously.
I see myself as sort of a hemispheric person...
RICHARDSON: ... but with deep Hispanic roots, whose main loyalty is to America. It is complicated, but, you know, if you read the book, some of that will come out.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s what I‘m looking for.
But how do we—I mean, you—you must feel about it. How do we find—are we ever going to have a liberal immigration policy with the southern border that‘s enforced?
RICHARDSON: That‘s the key.
And the Congress has failed to deal with it. If we have a policy that does the following, we will have a good policy—one, enhance border security, more Border Patrol, more equipment, seal the border in a way that makes it enforceable.
Number two, knowingly hiring illegal aliens by employers should be punished, should be fined. And that should be enforced.
And then, lastly, Chris, you have got 12 million undocumented workers in America. You can‘t export them out. You can‘t throw them out. So, find a way to establish a guest-worker program, where you give them some kind of legal status—not citizenship, not amnesty, but a way that they come out of the shadows. If they have been behaving, if they have paid their taxes, if they‘re part of a civic responsibility, you bring them in.
But you don‘t give them preferred status over those that have been trying to get in on a legal basis. It is complicated. But the Congress has some bills, McCain, Kennedy, that actually do this. And you combine that with strong border security, so that New Mexico and Arizona and California and Texas, that we have protection from not just illegal workers, but that breeds illegal drugs, kidnappings, these guys that are called the polleros that illegally bring in people and drugs on both sides of the border...
RICHARDSON: .... a cycle of violence that is breeded by illegal activity of mainly drugs and export of people.
MATTHEWS: Governor, now that you have mentioned the word violence, you know, back—I guess you and I are about the same age. We thought the Cold War would end all this, when the Cold War ended back in ‘91.
But here we are with violence in Argentina today addressed against our country, against our president. Is this connected to just poverty or is this connected to Iraq? Why are those people hating us, at least the people on the streets, hating us enough to go out and commit all this violence and break into all these stores and throw rocks and all this? What is this about?
RICHARDSON: Well, this really troubles me, because I don‘t want to see our president demonstrated against.
It shows that America has probably neglected—neglected Latin America. But, at the same time, what has happened, Chris, in Latin America was the emergence of leftist governments. We had in the Clinton years, in the early Bush years, Bush I years, basically, governments that were free-trade oriented, that were more in the center.
Now the drift has been to the left. And a lot of it has stimulated—and I believe that President Chavez of Venezuela has a little bit to do with not the violence, but with the polarization in Latin America. Venezuela has emerged as a major power there because of their huge oil reserves. And they‘re able to get Caribbean countries and others on their side. And, because they are very negative, the Venezuelans, towards President Bush—and we are, too—they have become major players.
And it is unfortunate, because Chavez is into being another Fidel Castro. And my concern is that we‘re not responding the right way. And one way to respond is to pay more attention to Latin America, more trade. I‘m glad the president went. He could have avoided this summit. He knew it was going to be a bad summit. But he showed up. And that‘s good, part of the effort to show the Latins that we care about the hemisphere. But it is unfortunate all of this is happening now.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great to have you on, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. The name of your book—it‘s just out today—“Between Worlds:
The Making of An American Life.”
What an interesting background you have. Thank you very much for coming on and sharing your instinctive thoughts about what is going on with the situation today down in Argentina. Thank you, Governor.
RICHARDSON: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
Next on HARDBALL, a series of special reports on the CIA leak investigation, how White House aides manipulated the media to build the WMD case for war in Iraq. That‘s all next week on HARDBALL at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern.
And this weekend on MSNBC, “In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina,” a special program on MSNBC. The hour-long special will air Saturday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Sunday at midnight Eastern.
“COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now with his candidates for tonight‘s top story.
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