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updated 1/14/2010 1:27:57 PM ET 2010-01-14T18:27:57

Guests: Kristen Dahlgren, Scott Cohn, Chuck Todd, Bob Poff, Kendrick Meek, Peter Canellos, Susan Milligan, Barbara Lee, Louis Belanger

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Earthquake in Haiti.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Here‘s what we know at this hour.  Bodies are piling up in the streets of the devastated capital city of Port-au-Prince.  Haiti‘s prime minister says hundreds of thousands of people may be dead.  The Haitian president says he‘s heard 30,000 to 50,000 people may be dead.  So there‘s no true casualty figure available yet.

Haiti‘s the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, as well all know, and the damage from yesterday‘s earthquake has been widespread.  The quake flattened the president‘s palace, Haiti‘s main Roman Catholic cathedral, the country‘s main prison, along with hospitals and schools in the capital.

Here in Washington, President Obama pledged an all-out rescue and humanitarian relief effort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief—the food, water and medicine—that Haitians will need in the coming days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll get more on the White House response with NBC‘s Chuck Todd in just a minute, but let‘s begin in Haiti and Bob Poff, who‘s director of disaster services for the Salvation Army.  He joins us by Skype from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Bob, thank you for joining us.  You‘ve been on the air for a while now.  What is going on right now on in the capital?

BOB POFF, SALVATION ARMY, HAITI:  Well, we just suffered another fairly major rocker, so we are all a little pretty nervous.  And in fact, if it gets too bad, I may have to get out of here before we‘re done.  It‘s another unstable evening in Port-au-Prince.

MATTHEWS:  How many minutes ago was that, the shudder?

POFF:  I would say five.

MATTHEWS:  Five minutes ago.  It‘s not an earthquake again, though?  It‘s not on that scale?  It‘s not up there around a seven on the Richter, is it?

POFF:  No, no.  Not that severe.  But it shook all the buildings.  And I‘m inside a building—unadvisedly, but I am.  And so we scampered out of here pretty quickly.

MATTHEWS:  What are we to make of these casualty estimates being offered by the president of the country, and also by Bellerive, his prime minister?  They‘re so at odds, one in the hundreds of thousands, one down around 30,000.  They‘re all horrible, obviously, but who do we trust here, anyone, or is it just going to take a couple days to get a fix on how bad things are?

POFF:  I think that really is the truth, Chris.  I think nobody knows.  Everybody is guessing, and those who are pessimistic guess one way, an optimistic guess another.  The truth is, we‘re still digging, digging, digging out.  Today, they brought dozens of bodies to our compound who have been dug out just the neighborhood around where we live.  It‘s a horrible scene.  And it‘s not just in one or two neighborhoods.  It‘s most of Port-au-Prince, the entire city.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Bob, I‘ve never been—I‘ve been in countries like Mozambique in the Peace Corps, which have lots of poverty around the cities‘ edges, but I‘ve never been in a country as poor as Haiti, when I was there many years ago, where I saw a kid drinking out of a pothole.  I thought that was a pretty state of how lousy the governments down there have been for centuries.  This is amazing, the hell on top of hell.

POFF:  Yes, that‘s exactly right.  I didn‘t think it could get worse.  I‘ve been here just nine months and I‘ve been—I‘ve been working (INAUDIBLE) to do the work here of the Salvation Army and the mission of the Salvation Army here, and I didn‘t think it could be worse.  But I learned yesterday that it is much, much, much worse.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what‘s being done.  What are people—are people—is there enough hospital space for the people—we‘re watching people here, on the footage here, of people coming in on gurneys, being carried around by the people there, the regular people from the streets, and I wonder—being taken to hospital.  Are there enough beds for all these multiple, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, of casualties here?  Is there any hope that this can be dealt with with what‘s there in that poor country?

POFF:  Not in the least, Chris.  Many hospitals were very badly damaged.  Some, I understand, have been abandoned by staff because they were so afraid.  And so there‘s very little hospital space available.  On the best day here in Port-au-Prince, nowhere near 1,000 beds.  I don‘t think there would be 1,000 beds in the whole area, from what I have seen.  So no, nowhere near enough space to take (INAUDIBLE) to take people who need—I saw many people today with badly maimed limbs and damaged bodies.  There‘s no hospital around here they could get to, and they come to us for the best thing we can do for them.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me what it was like when it struck, when you experienced it yourself, being there.  What was—it‘s in the dark.  It happened.  The people were in their homes because it was late in—it was in the evening.  Tell me what the situation was as it struck and your memory of it while it‘s still fresh.

POFF:  Yes, it‘s very fresh.  I was driving a pick-up truck, coming down the mountain from Petionville to Port-au-Prince, and the truck began to shake violently from left to right.  And I couldn‘t figure out what it was.  And I thought we‘d been hit by another vehicle.  I thought there were people shaking it.

And as I looked out my window, my—to my left, I saw the buildings pancaking down, one on top of the other, on top of the other.  And I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw more buildings pancaking down and the great clouds of dust and debris rising up.

And within seconds, I saw hundreds of people who were streaming out of those buildings into the streets, crying, screaming, carrying bloody children, carrying bloody parents, everybody in the state of shock.  We loaded as many people as we could in the back of our pick-up truck and brought them down the mountain to try to get them some relief.  There was no relief.  But we did the best that we could.  And I had to leave the truck eventually and walk another two miles because I couldn‘t get home because the roads were blocked.

MATTHEWS:  So the Petionville area is still the better-off area, I understand, right?

POFF:  I haven‘t seen it with my own eyes.  It is, I understand, better off, but I can‘t say that 100 percent.

MATTHEWS:  I mean by that it‘s economically better off.  The middle class people, from what I remember years ago, lived in that area.  It‘s lots of pensions, little tourist spots for people to stay in, you know, small accommodations for people to stay at modest rates.  That area—was that hit, as well as the downtown area?

POFF:  Very, very, very badly.  Parts of it, at least, I know, were absolutely destroyed.  And it is the Haitian suburb, the more affluent suburb of Port-au-Prince, Petionville.  And many families there, I know, have had a loss of life and are devastated because they would have lost homes, businesses, so many things that have been just taken.

MATTHEWS:  Right now, is the government able to dig people out?  Are there actual efforts by any community—there are any community services, or is it up to each family to survive through this, to get out of the rubble themselves and look for food and try to survive just for the next few days until the relief supplies get there?  Is there any effort—a collective effort in this country to get through this?

POFF:  I haven‘t witnessed it to this point.  I do admit that I have not been in all parts of the community, to be sure.  But where I live is one of the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince, and I haven‘t seen anything here except neighbors and family members digging through the debris, trying to find their family members and get them out and bring them to the Salvation Army so they can perhaps get some food and water, medical attention and a little hope.

MATTHEWS:  Describe, Bob, what it‘s like for an impoverished country, where you have no good government, where you have no community services, no public utilities, nothing, where it‘s everyone for themselves, in this kind of a situation—on top of that, this natural disaster comes.

POFF:  Yes.  Yes.  I have been struck by the lack of infrastructure in Haiti and the things I‘ve taken for granted—having electricity, having running water, having hot water, just as an American I would consider the norm.  And those things are just not readily available here, nor is there a concerted effort to clean streets or take care of garbage or any of those things.  And so now (INAUDIBLE) when many streets are blocked, when most homes, most buildings in Port-au-Prince are affected by this, at least minimally, but many very heavily damaged, it‘s going to be...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the latest word, Bob?  I‘m pushing in here, Bob. 

You‘re on Skype.  But what‘s the latest word on relief supplies getting to

your capital area, Port-au-Prince?  Is it a day or two or is it coming

faster?  Do you expect actual bundles of food and other supplies, and water

I‘ve always thought water was a challenge for that country—to arrive how soon?

POFF:  We‘re hearing the first to arrive tomorrow.  I don‘t know if the massive amounts will arrive tomorrow.  And I‘m pleased that the Salvation Army has put together an international team that will be arriving tomorrow.  They‘ll be bringing some supplies.  Of course, they can‘t bring it all.  But they tell us that we will begin to see supplies arriving tomorrow.

Overhead today, I‘ve seen U.S. Coast Guard planes, gratefully so.  I‘ve seen U.S. military helicopters, gratefully so.  So I know the presence is here.  I know it‘s happening.

And I just want to say, by the way, thank you to the American people and to President Obama for being willing to make these things available to the Haitian people.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you Bob Poff, who‘s  with the Salvation Army.  And of course, I wasn‘t asked to say this, but certainly, if you want to help, you should help through the Salvation Army, among other charitable organizations.  The State Department set up a special information hotline for Americans seeking information about family members down on the island of Haiti, and here‘s the number of those who want to reach family members in Haiti, 888 -- 1-888-407-4747 -- 888-407-4747.  And of course, if you want to give aid, you‘ve got to go to organizations like the Salvation Army.  Of course, that‘s an organization—and the Red Cross, of course.  They‘re always great organizations in these situations.

You‘re here—by the way, we‘re going to go—we‘ll be right back with more.  You can text the word Haiti to 90999.  That automatically donates $10 to the relief effort.  The charge will show up on your monthly phone bill.

Our special coverage of the earthquake in Haiti continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We must be prepared for difficult hours and days ahead as we learn about the scope of the tragedy.  We will keep the victims and their families in our prayers.  We will be resolute in our response, and I pledge to the people of Haiti you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America today and going forward.  May God bless the people of Haiti and those working on their behalf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the earthquake tragedy down in Haiti.  For more on the response from the Obama administration, let‘s go to NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.  He‘s also our political director.  This isn‘t about politics, but it is action and what the government can do.  Is this basically a trial run for this administration?  We‘ve got a guy, Rajiv Shah, who‘s head of AID.

CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICAL DIR.:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s almost in the same position that the Bush administration, the predecessor administration was in with regard to Katrina, with here a much—perhaps more horrific disaster to handle.

TODD:  Well, it is.  And as the president made clear—and it was going to be clear before he said it, but then he said it to the American people—this is—this is going to be an American clean-up.  This is going to be American-led disaster relief.  There‘s nobody else to do it.  Haiti‘s in our back yard.  It‘s always been almost—we‘ve been—

“protector” is not the right word because if we‘d been a protector, this country wouldn‘t be in as bad a shape as it‘s been.  But we have been sort of always seen as the lone place for—to deal with Haiti.

And this guy, Raj Shah, is dealing—he‘s at AID.  He‘s putting all the efforts—he‘s the conduit here, and he‘s going to lead this charge.  And I think that‘s fair to say, that it is a trial run.  We heard from the guy on Skype from the Salvation Army talking about how he‘s already seen military presence there.  And that tells you a lot, the fact that we can so quickly get some—get some military presence there, get those Coast Guard helicopters there.

You‘re almost going to have to—you can almost picture that—you were talking about the water situation—where you‘re just going to have to see, you know, U.S. military ship after military ship out there bringing the supplies in that way.  It‘s probably going to easier than trying to come over the mountains...

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a 200-year political disaster, that country.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It was a disaster, probably, before that, in colonial times.  It‘s never worked out under Papa Doc and Baby Doc and Aristide.  It‘s never worked.  The country doesn‘t function.  It doesn‘t have any economic development.  It has nothing but poverty and a few rich people, a very few rich people you can find there.  It was a vacation resort for this country, a place to go in the ‘50s, when people like Nixon and Adlai Stevenson would go there for a couple—couple days.

And now we look at a country that was totally impoverished and—very much like Bangladesh in another part of our planet, a country that has nothing but bad news, and then on top of that, comes this horror we‘re looking at.  It‘s so unfair, obviously...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But look, we‘re going to take a look at the president and the way he responds because he is the chief executive of this country, not just the head of the government.  He has to respond now and he has to prove his executive skill, this president, our president now, with how he handles this.

TODD:  Well, not only that, but there is a domestic reason to do it,

OK?  I mean, the—if you don‘t—if you don‘t help Haiti rebuild, guess

the Haitians are going to come—they‘re going to come to Florida. 

They‘re going to stress out those resources.  And that is always a potential consequence of what happens here.

So I think one of the ways that the Obama administration is going to have to sort of galvanize support, continuing support—it‘s easy to get support to help now.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Will this...

TODD:  It‘s going to be harder...

MATTHEWS:  ... be politically important...

TODD:  ... in three months.

MATTHEWS:  Is this not going to be a fight here about—this is one of the times...

TODD:  No, this won‘t be a fight.

MATTHEWS:  ... when you act and argue about it later, except for some wackjobs like Pat Robertson, who say they were an accursed island or whatever...

TODD:  No, but this is going to be...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, there‘s nobody else...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  ... like the tsunami...

MATTHEWS:  No political person‘s going to talk like that.

TODD:  No.  Remember during the tsunami, Bush was able to get Clinton and his father together.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

TODD:  I bet you you‘ll see Obama do something like that, get Clinton

who, by the way—Bill Clinton...

MATTHEWS:  Former president Clinton and former president Bush, senior.

TODD:  Former president Bush, probably maybe do junior this time, 43, getting them together quickly, you know, Governor Jeb Bush down there, former Florida governor.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

TODD:  I mean, you‘ll see a bipartisan action team on this pretty quickly.

MATTHEWS:  And this—as we were talking about during the break, this is a free country of ours and we have organizations.  You know, de Tocqueville was right, the best thing about America is that it organizes naturally.  People get their act together, Catholic Charities, organizations like the Salvation Army, our wonderful organizations...

TODD:  But it‘s going to be three months from now that it‘s going to be—that hard work in trying to galvanize the government (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, here‘s the president doing stuff that‘s going to only be done by our federal government and can be done quickly only by a government that has the largest military apparatus in the world that can deliver the goods within hours.  Here‘s the president of the United States talking about what the United States is doing in the next 24 hours.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief—the food, water and medicine—that Haitians will need in the coming days.  In that effort, our government, especially USAID and Departments of State and Defense, are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region and around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about this as an Obama mission.  We talked about Raj Shah, who‘s a University of Pennsylvania medical graduate.  He‘s obviously a highly educated fellow who‘s obviously highly credentialed to do this job.  But this kind of responsibility is highly executive.  It‘s getting something done now.

He is going be in the spotlight, this guy Raj Shah...

TODD:  He is. 

MATTHEWS:  ... head of AID.

TODD:  And able to cut through the bureaucracies of Defense and State and able to mobilize these things quickly, not the easiest task to do, in particular somebody who is so new to this job.  And he is very new to AID.

That said, AID is, of all the organizations we have internationally that deals with some of these things internationally, it is the one that is designed to suppose to be able to mobilize.  The question is, are they going to be able to mobilize quickly?  AID is not always the quickest organization. 

They—you know, their mission is to go in these things and help over time.  Doing this quickly is going to be a different kind of challenge for them. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, the United States gets blamed for intervening in these countries normally.  And if you—if you don‘t intervene during crisis, you are the bad guy.  If you intervene at any other time and try to fix up terrible governments, like you have there, then you are the bad guy. 

And that‘s the great irony we live with as a great power, which we will be blamed for doing things and blamed for not doing them. 

TODD:  It is.  And that is why I think, this one, why he—look, he had to—this is a—is one of those things, it is an American responsibility.  The Haitian situation, it is a moral—an American moral responsibility.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think everybody agrees. 

We have talked around the office.  By the way, that is the spirit of this office today, too.  Everybody feels this is something we have to cover and we have to get to as Americans. 

TODD:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Chuck Todd, always on top of the issue. 

And you can send donations, as I said, to many organizations.  Two of them are UNICEF, of course, and the American Red Cross.  You can contact UNICEF 1-800-4UNICEF, 800-4UNICEF, and the Red Cross at 800 the words Red Cross, 800-RED-CROSS. 

You can also text the word Haiti to 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation to the Red Cross.  And, of course, Catholic Charities and other religious organizations are very respected in this terrain of emergency aid to people. 

We will have much more on the earthquake and Haiti coming up in just a minute.

When we return, reaction from Haitians here in this country on this special edition of HARDBALL.  It‘s not really HARDBALL tonight.  It is about humanitarian activity.  It‘s now on the earthquake in Haiti.  It continues just after this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The families that are dealing with loss, I tell them God has given, God has taken away.  May his will be done.  And let‘s work with the living right now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the earthquake tragedy down in Haiti. 

NBC News correspondent Kristen Dahlgren is live in Miami‘s area known as Little Haiti.  That‘s a district where a lot of Haitians live, of course, a lot of immigrants there. 

Kristen, I have been watching you through the day.  What is the latest on the—obviously, the concern, the human concern about family members living here in the States?

KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, unfortunately, not much is changing for the people here. 

As we have been saying throughout the day, it is estimated that about 99 percent of this community has still been unable to reach their loved ones in Haiti.  And imagine that as you‘re hearing that the death toll may be into the tens of thousands, possibly over 100,000 dead. 

So, this is a community that is very worried, very concerned.  Senator George Lemieux was out here earlier trying to give us and the people here an update about the U.S. assets that are moving into the area, also once again to pledge U.S. aid. 

But these are people who are very anxious.  And they are, in large part, also turning to prayer as they have gone through this day.  There was a huge mass here earlier today, adults joined by some 400 schoolkids. 

And this has been terribly difficult for those kids as well.  They know that their families may be there.  They know that their parents have been trying to reach loved ones there.  So, this is what one teacher told us about what those kids have been going through. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLORENCE CLERVAL, MIAMI SCHOOLTEACHER:  Actually, some of them were very sad this morning because they do have relatives in Haiti.  One of my students was crying all through since he came in this morning, because his father is over there, working there, while his mother is with him here in Miami.  So, he has no idea whatsoever what is happening with his father, because he hasn‘t been in touch with him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the cell phones.  I mean, we live in an age of...

DAHLGREN:  And talk about aid efforts, this area....

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.  We live in an age of cell phones, not landlines, it seems, more and more in the Third World countries, like Haiti, which is actually a Fourth World country economically.

Don‘t the people rely on cell phones?  And do they reach there from the American mainland? 

DAHLGREN:  Well, normally, they do rely on cell phones and they are able to communicate. 

But you have seen the devastation.  And, so, a lot of the

infrastructure, a lot of the telecommunications simply knocked out.  And we

have been hearing that, really, it is only satellite phones in large part

that are getting through.  And, so, people here just have not been able to

to reach out. 

And I was going to tell you, you know, speaking of those kids and relief efforts here, those kids raised $500 this morning to send along, and this community really coming together, trying to organize those relief efforts, so that, finally, when they are able to get help in, you know, that will go along with it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Kristen Dahlgren down there in the area, in the neighborhood known as Little Haiti. 

Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek‘s district includes of course Little Haiti.  He joins us from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, this issue of—has raised some strange commentary from the far right and from the right. 

Pat Robertson, let‘s hear what he had to say.  It know it is terrible, but it‘s part of our American conversation, broadly defined.  Here is Pat Robertson on the hell that just broke loose in Haiti. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, HOST, “THE 700 CLUB”:  You know, Christy (ph), something happened a long time ago in Haiti.  And people might not want to talk about it.  They were under the heel of the French, Napoleon III and whatever. 

And they got together and swore a pact to the devil.  They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French.  A true story. 

And, so, the devil said, OK, it‘s a deal.  And they kicked the French out.  You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.  But, ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that is former Republican candidate for president Pat Robertson. 

What is that about, that weird hostility from a churchman? 

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA:  I don‘t know what it‘s about.  And I think it has nowhere in this dialogue. 

I mean, as I stand here now, I just got off the phone with a pastor that has 38 young kids from Orlando that‘s associated with the Southern Baptists that‘s down there doing mission work.  The AME Church of Florida is involved in mission work there.  There are synagogues that have called in concern about the work that some of their parishioners are doing down in Haiti in the middle of all of this tragedy. 

So, I think it is very, very important, Chris.  And I believe that Chuck was 110 percent right.  It is our responsibility as a country, especially the Western—the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere—you are very familiar with what—what has happened in the past as it relates to Haitians taking to sea because of these kind of situations, need it be political strife, or natural disasters, or lack of clean drinking water or food. 

This time, we do have an opportunity for the international community to respond.  I‘m pleased to see that a number of things are in place.  The president has taken ownership and has said that we have to be the leader here, President Clinton already appointed as special envoy to Haiti.  That‘s going to be very helpful, not only in the response and search, but also in the recovery effort that is going to be long haul. 

So, to have individuals coming up with their depiction of what history is all about, I think that people have to remember that Haiti, when it got its independence, it helped the United States in being able to take out the fight in Savannah, and there‘s many monuments against the British, and helping us with our own independence.

But we don‘t need a history lesson right now, need it be accurate or inaccurate.  We need response.  We need search.  We need recovery. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we going to get cooperation from the government of Bellerive, Prime Minister Bellerive, in—in Port-au-Prince?  Or are they going to help us help them?

MEEK:  Well, I hope so.  I know that we will.  And we are coordinating those efforts internationally right now.  There are a number of ambassadors that have been a part of discussions, along with the Haitian ambassador to the U.S.

The administration and Secretary Clinton has been on the phone with a number of individuals.  It‘s going to take an international response.  Just like we responded internationally to Thailand during the tsunami, Haiti is going to need that same response.  And I think that that response is very, very important, because we have a number of individuals, that it brings you to tears to see constituents that are calling me on my cell phone and calling my district office and have their loved ones in Haiti on cell phone three-way crying out for help, saying that they have pulled individuals out from under brick and mortar, but they‘re—they can‘t find any medical assistance for them. 

Hopefully, that will not be the case within hours to come.  But we have resources on the ground.  I have talked with General Fraser, who over the Southern Command that will be coordinating a lot of the assets towards Haiti.  I hope that he continues to get the support, which I believe that he will get, from this—this administration. 

It‘s really executive action right now that‘s going to bring about the difference between saving lives and losing lives at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida. 

We will having—we will be having more on the devastation in Haiti ahead in the show.

And, up next, a preview of—we‘re going to take a break from the horror down there to talk about Massachusetts, the hottest political race in the country, that‘s coming up next Tuesday with a real chance, a certain real chance that a Republican could win Ted Kennedy‘s Senate seat.  It is a real possibility now, based on the polling trends. 

We are going to get on top of that when we come back, take a little break for politics before we get back to the horror in Haiti. 

HARDBALL returns after this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCOTT COHN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Scott Cohn with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks end the day higher in a late rally after starting the day in kind of a seesaw session.  Dow Jones industrials end 53 points higher.  The S&P 500 gained 9 ½.  The Nasdaq added more than 25 points. 

You can see from those numbers some broad-based buying going on, gains in the financial, health care and technology sectors.  Banking stocks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America really turned things around after some wild fluctuations early in the day.  The head of several big banks testifying before Congress today about their actions during the financial crisis. 

Health care stocks in particular helped lift the Dow, Merck and AstraZeneca getting a big boost from a key analyst upgrade. 

BlackBerry, the maker of—or Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry, and Sony the big winners on the Nasdaq, while Google shares fell on word it may pull out of China because of cyber-attacks.  Shares on Chinese search engine Baidu surging more than 13 percent.

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We are going to have much more on the devastation down in Haiti in just a minute or a few minutes. 

But let‘s talk now about Tuesday‘s special election coming up in Massachusetts.  It‘s for the United States Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy.  Do the Republicans have a fighting chance to win that seat?  And I think that‘s a question we‘re going to be talking about for the next couple days.

“Boston Globe” reporters Susan Milligan and Peter Canellos are part of the team that wrote “The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy.”

Peter, do you have an announcement?  Is your paper endorsing the Democratic nominee? 

PETER CANELLOS, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”:  Yes.  Yes. 

We‘re endorsing the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley.  We are kind of telling people in Massachusetts we understand that they are frustrated.  And, you know, one way to send a message that you want to get something done on health care is to send Coakley. 

She is not a Ted Kennedy-style full-throated liberal.  She is somebody who goes for kind of measured results.  And that seems to be where the mood of the people is right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you speaking for your editorial board right now or as a reporter? 

CANELLOS:  I‘m speaking for—no, I‘m speaking for the editorial board.  I‘m the editorial page editor now.  I‘m speaking for the editorial board. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I thought you sounded like a big guy.

(CROSSTALK)

CANELLOS:  You can tell there‘s been a change.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a change in sort of attitude.

But let me tell you this.  The day that “The Globe” endorses a Republican for the Senate would be what day, would you estimate that?  When would you estimate your newspaper would endorse a Republican for the United States Senate? 

(LAUGHTER)

CANELLOS:  Well, when the Republicans come around to our point of view. 

But, you know, we actually—we consider ourselves to be in line with sort of independent thinkers in Massachusetts, who tend to be a little bit left-of-center.  And Coakley is right in line with them. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go.  Let‘s talk about Scott Brown. 

Here‘s Scott Brown with moderator David—we have got to show the “Cosmo” picture.  Have we got the “Cosmo” picture yet?  Well, we will get to that in a minute.  Wait until you see this guy, full-body pose. 

There he is.  There he is.  That was back in the ‘80s.

SUSAN MILLIGAN, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”:  Too much information. 

MATTHEWS:  There he is.  Too much information.  That was the candidate for the Republican—well, the Republican candidate for senator for Massachusetts. 

Now we have David Gergen moderating the debate this Monday night, just a couple nights ago.  It was an interesting debate.  A lot of people think that Scott Brown, the Republican, did very well in that debate.  Let‘s watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GERGEN, DEBATE MODERATOR:  Are you willing, under those circumstances, to say, I‘m going to be the person?  I‘m going to sit in Teddy Kennedy‘s seat, and I‘m going to be the person who is going to block it for another 15 years?

SCOTT BROWN ®, MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, with all due respect, it is not the Kennedy seat, and it‘s not the Democrats‘ seat.  It‘s the people‘s seat. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  The populist answer. 

MILLIGAN:  I guess so.  But I don‘t know how that is going to play.

But I agree that he‘s got a shot at this.  If you had told me even a month ago that Scott Brown had a chance of taking the seat held by Ted Kennedy for 47 years, I would have told you, you were crazy.  But it‘s a very real possibility.

Now, that being said, I think that that scare has really lit a fire under some of the disaffected Democrats in Massachusetts, and I think it‘s actually helped Martha Coakley.  People who otherwise would have stayed home, who are disillusioned and tired of what is going on in Washington, I think they may get to the polls. 

MATTHEWS:  The latest poll, the “Boston Globe” poll, Martha Coakley leads 50 to 39.  But a lot of the Pollster.com—that‘s the average of the polls—shows it a lot closer than that.  I have looked at the polls showing them converging, the two numbers.  Do you see that, Peter?  Do you see these numbers converging by next Tuesday night? 

CANELLOS:  I think the race is very, very close.  We don‘t know what will happen in the next few days.  Obviously, leading Democrats are trying to get the vote out.  The voters are frustrated.  Right now, Scott Brown has tapped into that frustration.  There are good arguments for why Coakley could be the candidate who does, but there‘s no question that Brown could win. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, what is the worst issue for the democrats, the elitism of Harvard, the bullying of the federal government, or the grubbiness of Wall Street?  There are three big targets on the right these days.  Which is the fattest target for the Republican candidate?  Is he going after Wall Street and the bonuses and the bailouts and the profits?  Is he going after Washington on taxes and debt?  Is he going after Harvard on cultural elitism? 

MILLIGAN:  I think taxes and also the health care thing.  And some people are very concerned about where the health care plan is going. 

MATTHEWS:  He is running to beat the health care bill. 

MILLIGAN:  Oh, definitely. 

MATTHEWS:  If he gets in there, there ain‘t 60 Democrats. 

MILLIGAN:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  So he‘s voting against it.  Peter, that seems to me one of the rare cases in American history where your vote has an immediate consequence in the Congress and in your life.  He says he will vote against health care bill.  The Democrat, Coakley, the attorney general, says she will vote for it. 

CANELLOS:  Yes, I think that is absolutely true.  I think what‘s a little surprising in this is that people are frustrated that we have a system in the Senate where one senator can hold things up.  They have watched Joe Lieberman.  They‘ve watched Ben Nelson.  They‘ve watched Olympia Snowe.  They are sick and tired of it.  The logical response to that isn‘t necessarily to vote for Scott Brown, who says he is going to be the one senator now who is going to go in and hold everything up.  So we‘ll have to see how that plays out.  There‘s no question—

MATTHEWS:  You are such an editorial writer.  Let me go back to a straight reporter.  Susan Milligan, let‘s talk ethnic politics.  Every time the elite Democrats get in trouble in Massachusetts, they go to the Irish guys.  Michael Hooley (ph) has probably been called into action, Skinner Donahue.  It seems to me they are out there putting a pulling operation together right now.  You know they are. 

MILLIGAN:  Yeah.  I think Michael Mann may have been up there as well, helping out Martha Coakley. 

MATTHEWS:  So the elite doesn‘t pay much attention to the scrubs until it is time to win an election.  Then they go to the street corner guys.  Your thoughts, Peter? 

CANELLOS:  Point to Coakley‘s last name.  She has a good following here. 

MILLIGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Maybe I‘m wrong?  Am I wrong?  Do they go to the street corner guys when they are in trouble? 

CANELLOS:  No, you are absolutely right.  She has been going to the street corner guys for a while.  That has had them.  That is how she won the Democratic primary by a large margin. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the role of the president of the vice president.  There is buzz that possibly Sunday night or some time—although it may be offset by the hell down in Haiti—that one of the two leaders of our country may go up there.  Do you think that will help, your editorial position, or would it hurt it, Peter Canellos, your favorite candidate? 

CANELLOS:  It is an open question.  I think that some people feel like having her surrounded by prominent Democrat makes her look weak.  Other people feel like if you bring in the prominent Democrats, it reminds people of what is at stake, which is the health care bill, not just whether you want to send a message. 

MATTHEWS:  Will you editorialize on Friday whether the president should come or not. 

CANELLOS:  Interesting question.  We will certainly consider it, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Come on, tell me.  Are you going to editorialize that the president should come up there, or the vice president, or not? 

CANELLOS:  Are we going to editorialize that they should or shouldn‘t?  Since it hasn‘t really been presented as a real possibility, we will probably wait for something more concrete. 

MATTHEWS:  Put it on your budget.  Anyway, thank you, Susan Milligan, who knows the people of Massachusetts.  Thank you.  I have known you forever, not forever.  You are a young lady.  Thank you Peter Canellos.  Congratulations, both of you, on that great book on Ted Kennedy “The Last Lion.”  I read it all.  Thank you very much.  It‘s going to be one of the hot races. 

I think we‘re going to be up there on Tuesday night, if we can work it, because Tuesday night is the epicenter—it‘s not the epicenter—it‘s the center of American politics next Tuesday night. 

When we return, much more on the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  If you want to help the rescue effort—and this is serious business—you can find a list of charitable organizations active in Haiti on our website.  Go to it, please, HaitiQuake.MSNBC.com.  There are a lot of great organizations like—well, Salvation Army, the Catholic Charities, Unicef.  There‘s a lot of groups, great groups, getting involved already.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our special coverage of the earthquake tragedy down in Haiti.  The Department of Homeland Security has already suspended the deportation of more than 30,000 Haitians in detention in this country, awaiting deportation.  Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida, Congressman Diaz-Balart—we know him pretty well—and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are pressing President to grant, quote, temporary protected status, which is a category you get to Haitians already in the US. 

Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.  Are you still chair of the caucus, Congresswoman? 

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA:  Yes, Chris.  Good evening.  I still chair the Congressional Black Caucus. 

MATTHEWS:  Right, I thought you did.  Let me ask you, is this a caucus issue, Haiti?

LEE:  Haiti has been a caucus issue, Chris, for many, many years.  As you know, Haiti has been our ally historically, but yet it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  People live off of less than two dollars a day.  Haiti is a country that, unfortunately, has had many, many challenges, from food insecurity to high gas prices to unemployment to poverty to HIV and AIDS. 

And we have worked in the Congressional Black Caucus, all of us—we have a Haiti task force.  We have worked for years to try to help change US foreign policy toward Haiti, and also change our funding priorities, so that we could fund development efforts and help, through our international aid efforts, to make sure that Haiti received the type of assistance that it needs and deserves. 

Now, Chris, here we are with this emergency.  And this is a catastrophic emergency.  I come from the Bay Area, earthquake-prone area.  It‘s hard to imagine what a 7.0, 7.1 earthquake would entail.  People are suffering.  They are dying.  And I want to commend President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, because they responded quickly and in a robust fashion.  And now we‘re very focused, the Congressional Black Caucus and others, on the emergency relief effort. 

And now we are in, quite frankly, a search mode, search and assist.  We are looking for people.  People are under the rubble.  We‘re trying to save lives.  This is really about saving lives at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at a commentary that wasn‘t exactly favorable to the situation.  This is Rush Limbaugh, on the radio today, talking about the Haiti earthquake. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  This will play right into Obama‘s hands, humanitarian, compassionate.  They will use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, in the both light skinned and dark skinned black community in this country.  It‘s made to order for him.  That‘s why he couldn‘t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that?  I‘ve compared him—he talks like he‘s a walrus under water.  But yet the words are worst than the sound.  What do you make about of that kind of commentary, stirring the pot on race in this country, on complexion within the black community, the whole thing, using this tragedy to do that? 

LEE:  Chris, I‘m not even going to respond to that.  That is outrageous.  I think the country, the American people, understand what is taking place.  We are providing information for people.  People are responding.  As you mentioned earlier, there are phenomenal organizations that are trying to contribute humanitarian assistance.  USAID.gov, people can go to that website and donate money. 

We have to respond.  This country is responding.  For those trying to make this into an issue, that doesn‘t make any sense, quite frankly to me.  This is an issue, a humanitarian crisis.  This was an earthquake that has killed thousands of people.  Americans, Haitians, people from around the world have been impacted by this.  The Haitian-American community here are mobilizing.  So we have to move forward and try to help in any way that we can. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, US Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who is chair of the Black Caucus in Congress, Congressional Black Caucus.  Thank you so much for coming on this tragic night.  But it‘s good to hear your voice. 

LEE:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll get the latest from the relief effort in Haiti when we return.  This is a special edition of HARDBALL on the Earthquake down in Haiti.  It continues just after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Indeed, for a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to our live coverage of the earthquake tragedy down in Haiti.  One of the big challenges in th days ahead will be to get relief aid to those who need it most.  Obviously, just about everybody in that country.

We‘re joined right now by Louis Belanger, who is Oxfam humanitarian director for Haiti, who is on the border right now between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, on the island of Espanola.  Let me bring you in, sir.  What is happening right now?  Are you able to deal with the government there in Haiti?  Are they helping the aid donors? 

LOUIS BELANGER, OXFAM HUMANITARIAN DIRECTOR FOR HAITI:  Yes, they are.  They are doing as much as they can.  In terms of aid, the aid community itself—I think one of the big challenge right now is communication, being able to communicate with our colleagues. 

I don‘t know if you‘ve heard, Chris, but Oxfam‘s building has collapsed in Port-Au-Prince.  Doctors Without Borders‘ building has collapsed in Port-Au-Prince, as well as some of the UN buildings.  So, obviously, the operation is running into some serious obstacles. 

But what we‘re trying to do now is assess the situation as best as we can, bring our best people together to make sure that the assessment needs right away, so that we can move as quickly as possible.  But, to be honest with you, in terms of the delivery of aid, I think it‘s going to have to wait at least 36 hours. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell our audience that‘s not familiar, what it‘s like in Haiti when things are not as horrendous as this.  I mean, it seems to me, they start from a very low baseline of human life.  It‘s an impoverished country.  If they make two dollars a day, on average, that‘s a good day, from what I understand. 

BELANGER:  Exactly.  It‘s the poorest country on the Western Hemisphere.  And the regions, especially some of the slums that have been hit around Port-Au-Prince, are extremely poor.  You‘re talking about people are living on a dollar day, and colleagues have told me that everything has collapsed.  And it‘s a very, very difficult situation, not only of human suffering, but of, you know, the level of—just a level of chaos that is happening right now in some of the parts of the cities. 

And last night, he was telling me that people were just standing around with no shelter and nowhere to go, just looking for some fresh water, looking for someone to take care of them, whether they had injuries or what not.  So it‘s a very desperate situation. 

But aid agency like Oxfam, you know, we have a strong team of about 200 in the country.  We‘re ready to go.  We just hope for slightly better communication, for the airport to open again, and then we‘ll be doing our utmost to bring relief to these people. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Oxfam‘s a great organization.  I used to work with you guys over in Africa in the Peace Corps.  I got to tell you, you‘re a great organization, as if Unicef and all the others, Salvation Army, and Catholic Relief Service, are all doing a great job.  Is the government over there, the government of Bellerive, the  prime minister, going to be helpful?  Does he have a good reputation for working with donor counties and donor NGOs?

BELANGER:  I think, you know, over a year ago, there was some serious

flooding—I‘m sure you remember—in the north of the country.  And in

terms of coordination and, you know, just giving us as much space as we

can, being as helpful as they can, I think that‘s the case.  So, you know -

-

MATTHEWS:  Louis Belanger, I have to let you off.  Louis Belanger of Oxfam and all the organizations that are working like hell over there.  We‘ll be back in an hour for a special edition of “HARDBALL.”  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

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