Guest: Paul Hodes, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, Steve Cohen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The party of Lincoln.
Let’s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off
tonight: Gone with the wind. I’m talking about that proclamation by
Virginia governor Bob McDonnell of Confederate History Month, a
proclamation that failed to even mention the cause of the Civil War. Well,
now it has. He mentioned slavery, that is, but only after sending out the
dog whistle to those Jefferson Davis fans out there. So why would a
governor want to celebrate a war fought to defend not only the denial of
voting rights but rights altogether, a war that had 600,000 Americans
shooting at each other at point blank range across open fields?
Plus, tea and sympathy. Tea partiers have called President Obama a
socialist, a communist, a terrorist. Now Democratic congressman Steve
Cohen of Tennessee says the tea partiers are like the KKK and says, quote,
“They’ve taken over the Republican Party.” Well, he’ll be with us tonight.
And could we be seeing a replay of last summers’s hostile town
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Excuse me. Excuse me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This was a scene from Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent
town hall. She’ll join us tonight, along with a New Hampshire Democrat who
got the same treatment up there.
And when it rains, it pours. How much money did the Republican
National Committee spend at a Vermont winery for—get this—office
supplies? Wait’ll you catch what’s in that list. That’s in tonight’s
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with some thoughts on a political
organization long called “the party of Lincoln” that might now be in need
of some rebranding.
Let’s start with Governor McDonnell’s proclamation and his apology.
MSNBC’s analyst Karen Finney’s a Democratic strategist and a great-great-
great-niece of General Robert E. Lee. And MSNBC political analyst Pat
Buchanan is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and of course, a
very close Scots-Irish fan of Stonewall Jackson.
So here we have it. I don’t think we need to give you your uniforms.
MATTHEWS: I think you know which side you’re on on this one. I’m
talking to you, Karen, although you are a proud heir to the Confederacy,
one could say.
Here’s part of Governor’s—the governor’s apology. Quote, “The
failure to include any reference to slavery”—in that proclamation
declaring Confederate History Month—“and for that I apologize to any
fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The Confederate
History Month proclamation issued was solely intended to promote the study
of our history, encourage tourism and recognize Virginia’s unique role in
the story of America.”
What kind of African-American tourist would want to celebrate
Confederate History Month, Pat? Why would—or is this just for white
tourists? I mean, this push for tourism.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It’s the 150th anniversary
MATTHEWS: Yes, but why would...
MATTHEWS: ... encourage people to come down and celebrate the
Confederacy or black people...
BUCHANAN: No, no.
MATTHEWS: ... as well?
BUCHANAN: Virginia was part of the old South, the Confederacy, Chris.
But there’s—there’s a lot of misinformation on—Virginia did not
secede over slavery. Virginia stayed in the union when Lincoln was
elected. Virginia stayed in the union at the time of Fort Sumter. It was
still in the union. What took them out of the union was when Abraham
Lincoln said, We want 75,000 volunteers, your militia and your soldiers in
Virginia, to attack the deep South and bring them back into the union.
They said, We’re not going to kill our kinsmen. That’s how Virginia left
MATTHEWS: So they—in other words, they refused to take sides with
the union against the rebels.
BUCHANAN: They refused to send their sons to kill their kinfolk.
MATTHEWS: No, to bring back the union.
BUCHANAN: To kill their kinfolk...
MATTHEWS: Well, OK.
BUCHANAN: ... and bring them back.
MATTHEWS: I think that’s a technical point because Virginia had
MATTHEWS: ... believed in slavery and would have kept it had there
not been a Civil War.
BUCHANAN: Chris, wait a minute. There were eight slave states in the
union at the time of Fort Sumter...
BUCHANAN: ... and seven in the Confederacy.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But gentlemen, that’s not the
point, though. The point...
MATTHEWS: No, the point of the Civil War was slavery. Let’s not get
FINNEY: Well, no, but the point today is that Bob McDonnell missed an
important opportunity—I mean, I’m also a proud great-great-granddaughter
of slaves, and we were owned by the Finneys of Virginia, by the way. And
the point is, that is an American story. There is a broader American
story. If we’re going to celebrate our history, then let’s tell the whole
story. Let’s tell the whole history. Let’s celebrate the whole history.
Let’s not pick and choose the facts that we like and that we don’t like.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, this is the facts that I think you like, Pat.
This is from your—your battle flag organization, the Sons of Confederate
MATTHEWS: Quote, “The citizen soldiers who fought for the Confederacy
personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and
freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the
second American revolution.”
“The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in
the South’s decision to fight the second American revolution.” What’s that
MATTHEWS: I don’t get—I don’t understand what it means, slaves—
how can you say you’re for liberty and freedom?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me explain it to you. Look, I have a great-
grandfather that died at Vicksburg.
BUCHANAN: I have another one that was killed in the—not killed,
BUCHANAN: ... the battle of Atlanta by Sherman, who wanted to burn
the city and committed atrocities all the way...
BUCHANAN: ... to the sea. They wanted to be as independent of the
American union as the Founding Fathers, Jefferson and Washington...
MATTHEWS: For what purpose?
BUCHANAN: They wanted to be free of—why did Jefferson...
MATTHEWS: So they could keep slaves.
BUCHANAN: But why did Jefferson—Jefferson wanted to keep slaves
and Washington wanted to keep slaves. Five of...
MATTHEWS: So you applaud the 600,000 Americans who are dead because
you guys wanted to keep slaves (INAUDIBLE)
BUCHANAN: That is complete nonsense, Chris! You know, Founding
Fathers had slaves!
MATTHEWS: I know.
MATTHEWS: That was wrong, and they...
BUCHANAN: Was that why they wanted to be free of non-slave England?
MATTHEWS: Lincoln was elected in 1860. Immediately, South began to
secede over what issue?
BUCHANAN: They began to secede over the fact Lincoln was elected and
the Republican Party was in power. Lincoln didn’t get a single electoral
vote in the South!
BUCHANAN: They wanted out of the union...
BUCHANAN: ... like the Founding Fathers...
MATTHEWS: What was the issue?
BUCHANAN: ... wanted out of...
MATTHEWS: What was the issue?
BUCHANAN: The issue was...
MATTHEWS: Was it voting rights?
MATTHEWS: ... a slow postal service? What was the issue?
MATTHEWS: Was it crops?
BUCHANAN: They didn’t want to kill their own kinfolk!
MATTHEWS: Oh. The issue, Pat...
BUCHANAN: That’s Virginia’s issue!
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s...
FINNEY: It was slavery.
MATTHEWS: The seccesionist movement began...
BUCHANAN: All right.
MATTHEWS: ... over the issue of slavery.
BUCHANAN: All right. No, no. All right...
MATTHEWS: That’s all I’m asking.
BUCHANAN: ... well, let me...
MATTHEWS: Tell me I’m wrong!
BUCHANAN: Here’s where you’re wrong. Lincoln’s first inaugural
offered to make slavery permanent! He offered to help run down fugitive
slaves if the seceding states came back!
MATTHEWS: The issue was the expansion of the slavery into the
territories. Lincoln ran on that...
BUCHANAN: No, no! He held to that!
MATTHEWS: That’s right, and scared the hell out of the Confederacy.
They formed the Confederacy. They seceded from the union. Lincoln said,
You’re not going to escape from the union. The union’s indissoluble.
You’re sticking with us. And your side said, Let’s fight.
BUCHANAN: (INAUDIBLE) for God’s sakes, let’s hear both sides.
FINNEY: Gentleman, I don’t—let’s not readjudicate the Civil War,
shall we not?
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s exactly what’s going on here!
FINNEY: I understand that.
MATTHEWS: The governor of Virginia wants to proclaim the glories of
the Confederacy without mentioning the issue upon which it was founded.
FINNEY: That’s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: I think that’s an oversight, not a mistake.
MATTHEWS: And by the way, many people believe that he did this to
solidify his base and perhaps win himself a place on the ticket next time
around as the conservative counterpoint to Mitt Romney...
MATTHEWS: ... who’s political philosophy is indecipherable.
FINNEY: Any time you are talking about states’ rights, right, I mean,
the—you know, that phrase comes from those who were defenders of
slavery. I mean, there are certain code words. We all know what they
mean, and words do matter. Again, I think Bob McDonnell—you know, we
have—this is a pattern we’ve actually seen before, though...
FINNEY: ... where, you know, they make—they say something stupid,
they try to fix it, and then actually, they end up sort of inflaming
progressives and conservatives. I think, in this instance, you know,
again, McDonnell missed a really important point.
FINNEY: Now, politically speaking, he went back and checked the
FINNEY: ... and made the corrections and made the phone calls, but I
think there’s—you know, there’s more going on here in terms of...
BUCHANAN: Well, let’s talk states’ rights.
FINNEY: ... in terms of this idea of...
FINNEY: ... the sovereignty of a state. And we’ve heard that
politically over the last couple weeks, Pat...
BUCHANAN: I know—I know...
FINNEY: ... and we—and there’s more going on here, though,
BUCHANAN: OK, can we talk about it?
FINNEY: That is a—that is a very specific tactic out of the Rove
playbook, designed to incite peoples’ anger. When you talk about states’
BUCHANAN: All right...
FINNEY: ... and sovereignty...
BUCHANAN: All right, let’s talk about...
FINNEY: ... you know exactly what you’re doing.
BUCHANAN: All right, let’s talk states’ rights and nullification.
You know where they came from? The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions...
FINNEY: Yes, I know that.
BUCHANAN: ... written by Jefferson and Madison, who wanted to nullify
Adams’s law, the Alien and Sedition Acts! They said, You don’t have to
obey those laws. That’s where these ideas came from!
FINNEY: OK. But ultimately, the Supreme Court of United States of
BUCHANAN: I know that!
FINNEY: ... decided that...
BUCHANAN: But don’t deny this history!
FINNEY: ... that’s the prevalency (ph) of the federal government.
BUCHANAN: Don’t deny the truth of this history!
FINNEY: And don’t deny all of it, is my point, Pat.
BUCHANAN: We’re not!
MATTHEWS: Why are Republicans in the South like Rick Perry talking
secession? Why is his opponent in the primary down there, Medina—why
was she talking about nullification and interposition? Why is Bill
McCollum running for governor down there, as attorney general, talking
about preventing (ph) the invasion of the sovereignty of his state? This
is the lingo, as you point out, Karen...
MATTHEWS: ... of the Civil War fight. Why are they bringing back
those—why are they ripping the scab off the Civil War again?
BUCHANAN: I don’t know that...
MATTHEWS: It’s not us! I’m not bringing it up!
BUCHANAN: I’ll tell you why...
MATTHEWS: McDonnell’s doing this! And you’re defending it!
BUCHANAN: It’s become—they dislike and a lot of people are coming
to detest their government, Chris. That’s why.
MATTHEWS: The North.
BUCHANAN: No, not the North! The government of the United States...
MATTHEWS: But they like their...
MATTHEWS: They like their city. They like their...
MATTHEWS: They like their governments.
FINNEY: But wait!
BUCHANAN: They like their state governments, and they don’t like
their national government, that’s right.
FINNEY: But there’s a way to do that...
MATTHEWS: So they want to dissolve the union.
BUCHANAN: No, I don’t know if they want to go that far. But quite
frankly, there’s a real feeling out there of people that they do not like
this government! It’s too big, too oppressive...
MATTHEWS: Who was right in the Civil War?
FINNEY: Wait a sec...
BUCHANAN: Who was right in the Civil War? I think, in a way, both
sides were right. I think Lincoln had a right to save the union. I think
they had a right to go free. People—it was unsettled...
MATTHEWS: So Robert E. Lee was right...
FINNEY: Let’s not defend the right to slavery.
MATTHEWS: ... to join the South?
BUCHANAN: Of course he was!
FINNEY: Let’s not defend the right to slavery.
MATTHEWS: It was right to fight that war?
BUCHANAN: Robert E. Lee was right to defend his fellow...
MATTHEWS: If he had said, I’m not going to fight, maybe there
wouldn’t have been a Civil War. Maybe if the guys like him had stood up
and said, We’re not going to fight this, we’re sticking with the union...
BUCHANAN: What were they going to—you—Chris...
MATTHEWS: ... if you’d listen to Sam Houston, you wouldn’t have had
BUCHANAN: Virginia had to lie down and let them march over Virginia!
MATTHEWS: OK. Your turn.
BUCHANAN: They weren’t going to do it!
MATTHEWS: Karen, I’m sorry. It’s Karen’s (INAUDIBLE)
FINNEY: That’s OK. Now, I want to go back to your other point
because it—you know, there’s something very disturbing happening in this
country when you do have leaders, Republican leaders, using certain phrases
that are code phrases, not even just about the Civil War, but again,
designed to have a very specific impact in inflaming the base and
motivating the base, rather than...
MATTHEWS: But Pat doesn’t need code! Pat’s arguing...
MATTHEWS: ... because he thinks the federal union was maybe equally
right to the South!
FINNEY: But wait a second...
FINNEY: The point I’m making...
BUCHANAN: I think they both had a moral position.
FINNEY: America is in a very difficult time right now. You can’t
count on the church, you can’t count on corporations like Toyota, which are
going to put profits over people, the church is going to protest priests
FINNEY: We’ve got—our government is broken and...
BUCHANAN: You want to get into that, too?
FINNEY: ... inflaming, then lighting a match and setting it on
gasoline is not...
BUCHANAN: What are you talking about?
FINNEY: ... the thing to do, Pat. It’s terribly irresponsible.
BUCHANAN: Cut it out!
FINNEY: We have death threats going on...
MATTHEWS: Governor McDonnell says in his defense, as a booster of his
state, that he was going to boost tourism by having Confederate History
Month. Would any African-Americans go to Virginia to celebrate the
Confederacy? I’m just asking. Or is it just aimed at white people.
FINNEY: You know—but here’s the...
MATTHEWS: I’m asking a question. Will you answer this question?
FINNEY: I will answer the question.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
FINNEY: I think many African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and white
Americans wouldn’t—would you go? As a white American, would you go
celebrate the Confederacy?
MATTHEWS: Well, not the—but...
FINNEY: I think that’s why it does a disservice, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But I do find that history very interesting...
MATTHEWS: ... even fascinating.
FINNEY: But do you celebrate...
FINNEY: ... slavery and the Confederacy?
MATTHEWS: No. I’m not going to celebrate it. Of course not.
FINNEY: Of course not.
BUCHANAN: Would you go to—I mean, these reenactments—they
MATTHEWS: My sons have been in the reenactments. I have nothing
against the reenactments.
BUCHANAN: Well, they’re tremendous things. These people...
MATTHEWS: Look, Karen...
MATTHEWS: Are you angry about Pat’s position here?
FINNEY: Of course I am.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
BUCHANAN: I’m not angry about hers.
MATTHEWS: Because Pat, you’re so...
MATTHEWS: ... the Civil War, you know “mezza, mezza.” They had both
BUCHANAN: You don’t think Robert E. Lee, her ancestor, was honorable?
MATTHEWS: I think Robert E. Lee, Pat, has gotten a good press.
FINNEY: I think he did the wrong—he was on the wrong side!
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis is going to
BUCHANAN: He deserves a better press than Sherman.
MATTHEWS: ... this issue and compares the tea party movement to the
KKK. We got more of this coming here, but without the robes and the hoods.
I think we’re going to have more of this argument. He’s coming here to
explain his statement.
You’re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the tea party crowd has
called President Obama a socialist, a communist and a Nazi. And now
Democratic congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee compared the tea party
movement itself to the KKK in a radio interview. Let’s listen to it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: The tea party people are kind of,
like—without robes and hoods, they have really shown a very hard-core,
angry side of America that is against any type of diversity. And we saw
opposition to African-Americans, hostility toward gays, hostility to
anybody who wasn’t just, you know, a clone of George Wallace’s fan club.
And I’m afraid they’ve taken over the Republican Party.
I think these—it’s cultural, and these people are ready to be led
by the nose and they’re being led, and it’s just to be against Barack
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we have Congressman Cohen joining us right now from
Memphis. Sir, thank you for joining us. Give me your insights right up
front here because I’m a student of it, as well, of the tea party crowd.
Who are these people? How much of it is racial? How much of it is
ideological? How much of it is rooted in organizations like, well, the No-
Nothings, the KKK, et cetera?
COHEN: I think there’s a lot of it, Chris. You know, on the health
care vote, I walked on the Mall among the protesters for at least a half
and hour. I took my congressional badge off, had shades on and walked
around. It was a very homogeneous group. It was almost 99 percent white.
I saw a minimal number of African-Americans, Asians, native Americans. It
was just—they were so alike.
And after the hatred that I saw exposed, calling Congressman John
Lewis, one of my heroes, and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, another friend,
the “N” word—and spitting on Emanuel Cleaver just disgusted me. And
then the names they used for Barney Frank. And it showed a disregard.
Now, not all tea party people, obviously, think that way, but when the
leadership didn’t say anything about it and object, the group become (ph)
surety (ph) for the harmful words and actions that others took, comparing
President Obama to Hitler and to a Nazi, and the party does look very bad
when they don’t stand up and say this was wrong and shameful.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I was in some anti-war demonstrations back
in the Vietnam war era, and I remember the big march on the Pentagon. And
although there were thousands and thousands of regular middle-of-the road
people there just thought the war was a mistake, who weren’t particularly
ideological, college kids especially, there were also some old reds there,
some old liberals—I mean, not some old liberals, some old communists
were in that group. Should the war demonstrators have demonstrated against
them, these old-line lefties that had shown up to be under the umbrella? I
mean, do you always, as members of a rally, have to take odds against—
pick a fight with the oddballs that are in the group?
COHEN: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: I’m just giving you an argument here. You’re saying that
everybody in the group’s responsible for everybody in the group, and I’ve
never seen that standard apply before.
COHEN: Well, you know, I think that not everybody. But you know, one
of the main things the group was against was against health care. And Dr.
King was assassinated in my hometown, Memphis, Tennessee, and we observed
that horrific day with activities and remembrances this past weekend. Dr.
King talked about health care being a right and that one of the great
inhumanities was not providing health care to people.
Then you have this group 40 years later, almost entirely white,
opposing the United States government for giving health care to—making
us the last industrialized country in the world to provide health care for
its people. And it just doesn’t seem like we’ve come that far. And in
reflecting on Dr. King having been a proponent of health care and seeing
the opposition to health care, which affects so many people, white and
black, but a disproportionate amount of people who are black, it was just a
flashback to an era. Jim Clyburn said he hasn’t seen words expressed since
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
COHEN: ... by these groups.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you...
COHEN: And it seemed to be consistent.
MATTHEWS: There are some people out there on the right—I was
listening to, I guess, Fox the other night, and they’re denying—Laura
Ingraham was sitting in for Bill O’Reilly—denying that there was any
evidence—of course, we had some on the other day, the voice recording
left for John Lewis, which we all know about now, where the really racist
language is on the record there.
When you were out moving around on the—on the crowd there,
incognito, if you will, did you actually hear these epithets thrown at the
black members of Congress and at Barney Frank for his orientation? Did you
personally witness that?
COHEN: I personally can’t say I was. To be honest, I was listening
to Steve “Guitar” Miller my iPod.
MATTHEWS: Yes. So, you can’t witness that.
Let me ask you about the issue of—well, let’s take a look at some
e-mails you have been getting. They have been turned over to the FBI.
One reads—quote—“If our tea parties had hoods, we would burn
your ‘expletive’ on a cross on the White House lawn, you total piece of”—
well, we can figure this stuff out.
And another says, “You looking son of a” blah, blah, blah. “It would
be nice to read someone who—had cut your ‘something’ throat.”
Is this something that is new for you? Or have you had to put up with
this before? I mean, people in public life—I have gotten some of this
over the years—I try not to get affected by it. Do you—have you
gotten this kind of real hate mail before, sir?
COHEN: Not regularly. Very—very—and not very often. And this
has been the most vitriolic. And we have gotten some other mail about my
And this doesn’t reflect well at all either. Some lady called me the
other day and she was upset about my vote on health care—and she was a
Tea Party person—and my Tea Party statement. And she told me she was a
61-year-old lady with a disability.
And I asked her if she got her Social Security disability. And she
did. She is living off of something that was provided through a Democratic
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
COHEN: And she doesn’t understand.
And the same words were used against Social Security and against
Medicaid and against civil rights and voting—voting rights, that this
was a takeover, too much government, big government, and socialism and
communism. It’s American as apple pie now, and so will this health care
MATTHEWS: Yes. I had a conservative dad. I lost him. But he was
very much against government, but he sure liked Medicare when he got it.
Let me ask you this. You are a white fellow in a district that is
largely black. Haven’t you taken some heat for that. Isn’t there people
who make prejudicial statements about that from the left, if you will?
COHEN: Well, I guess there are some, but, you know, my district is a
wonderful district. It’s a diverse district. It’s predominantly African-
American. I get a lot of love in this district. I represent the district
with the way they need to be represented.
Our district needs health care. We need public education. We need
social benefits. And we have been able to deliver on those. And our
district has really overcome a lot. And we have come a long way from the
assassination of Dr. King and the days...
COHEN: ... when the South was segregated. Memphis is on the rise.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this sort of rise of the South, not the
negative—not the good stuff either? This governor of Virginia, we were
just talking about and arguing with Pat—I will probably argue for months
with this—when he is talking about a proclamation glorifying the
Confederacy, never mentions slavery.
You’ve got Rick Perry down there in Texas and his opponents talking
about secession and nullification and interposition, all this lingo that
you and I studied in school that we thought was way back before the Civil
War. And it’s all coming out again. Somebody is ripping off the scab off
Why are the Southern conservatives pushing the old fight again?
COHEN: Well, I do think there is race involved in it. And it’s
because the parties are so separate, and people play to their base.
And the Democratic Party has most of the African-American support and
the Republicans don’t. And they are just playing to their base. And it’s
unfortunate. You need leadership.
And I think the Chuck Percys, the Nelson Rockefellers, the Howard
Bakers, the Bob Doles, that type of Republican is not around anymore. And
they need moderates that with—who are within the Republican Party, but
not in leadership. And these people talking about secession, it sounds
like nullification and interposition dripping off their lips.
It’s not the kind of language you need to bring together America.
They talk about bipartisanship, and then they talk about meeting me at the
state line or secession. These are not the type of words you hear. And
you don’t hear them in Congress.
And it’s impossible to have bipartisanship when one party just says
no, no, no, and kill the bill. The whole idea of kill the bill was
difficult. I was out on the balcony at the Capitol, and the verbiage and
the vitriol was on the—it was so strong, you knew if they got that, they
want—they had ill feelings toward anybody that voted for the bill, and
that the tempers got so great.
COHEN: And it just—I had been to Birmingham, to Montgomery in the
Selma with John Lewis on the civil rights pilgrimage three weeks earlier.
We visited the 16th Street Church, when the hate got such that four young
women were bombed and killed.
We saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge and went there, where the government
oppressed people who tried to start a voting rights march.
MATTHEWS: I know.
COHEN: And to see this language again and this attitude—and there
is an undercurrent of race, because Obama, Sotomayor, Rahm Emanuel, Eric
Holder. There is an upset to it.
This did not start with George Bush and Dick Cheney, who had the
biggest budget deficits ever. They did not care.
COHEN: The biggest budget deficit reduction bill ever was the health
care bill, and, yet, they were against it.
This does not make sense, except for the parties.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you. I do like the fact that you represented
Martin Luther King’s words when you said their lips dripping with words
like nullification. You have a good memory for Dr. King’s words.
Thank you so much, Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis.
COHEN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Did Arlen Specter forget he’s now a Democrat? It
does get a little confusing, Senator, occasionally, for you, but we have
got to remind you of what party you are in right now. Check out that.
It’s coming up in the “Sideshow.” It’s very funny.
HARDBALL coming back on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now the “Sideshow.”
First: There you go again, Arlen. Here’s once a Democrat, once a
Republican, and now once again a Democrat Arlen Specter getting caught
Tuesday in the winds of his own change. The Pennsylvania Democrat—or,
actually, the Pennsylvania senator was addressing a crowd of Penn State
College Democrats when he forgot whose team he is on.
Cue the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I’m proud to have been endorsed
by the College Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The College Republicans. They were all Democrats in the
room, those young kids.
Well, what was Billy Joel’s song? Don’t go changing, trying to please
me. I will take you just the way you are, Arlen.
Next: Palin-Bachmann 2012? No, it’s not a joke. It was a very real
question posed by FOX’s Sean Hannity in a Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann
joint rally last night. Let’s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: How many of you would like to see a
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: That sounds—that sounds
kind of cool.
HANNITY: Governor Palin, are you thinking about a run again?
PALIN: As I have said, I’m not going to close any doors that perhaps
could be open.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: I think the world is her
oyster. If she wants to run, I think that she has tremendous support from
the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, anything can happen in the Tea Party and the
Republican Party once they merge for the 2012 election. But I won’t forget
Congresswoman Bachmann’s demand at that convention the other day that the
candidate in 2012 be a real rock-ribbed conservative.
Finally, vegetarians with an agenda, that’s what Republican
Congressman Steve King of Iowa is calling the Humane Society, the group
best known for rescuing stranded animals and placing them in shelters.
King objected to their presence at an agriculture conference, writing in a
press release yesterday—quote—“The Humane Society of the United
States is run by vegetarians with an agenda whose goal is to take meat off
everyone’s table in America.”
Well, the agenda of the Humane Society, as everyone knows, is to make
sure that people aren’t cruel to animals. Is Congressman King on the other
side of that debate? I didn’t know anybody was.
Anyway, for tonight’s “Number”: proof that, at the RNC these days,
when it rains, it pours. The organization is already facing heat for
charges at a lesbian-themed bondage club in Hollywood, which makes the next
item all the more juicy.
According to the “Times Argus” newspaper, the RNC also has some
curious charges in its current FEC filings for what it labels office
supplies. Remember that, office supplies. These charges include hundreds
of dollars at a New York clothing boutique, a D.C. sandwich and liquor
shop, a Florida fly-fishing—fly-fishing store.
But perhaps the most curious bill was at the Boyden Valley Winery in
Vermont, a winery which says it doesn’t sell anything but wine. So, how
much did these office supplies cost up there? -- $982.
MATTHEWS: The hits keep coming at the RNC. They spent $982 on office
supplies at a winery. Talk about creative accounting—tonight’s “Big
Number.” Whoa. Look out, Mr. Steele.
Up next: It’s beginning to look like last summer, angry voters at
town meetings confronting Democratic members of Congress on health care.
We will talk to two Democrats about what they’re facing from their people
at home—coming up next.
You’re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I’m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks snapping a two-day losing streak on a strong report from the
retail sector—the Dow Jones industrials rising nearly 30 points, the S&P
500 adding four, and the Nasdaq tacking on five-and-a-half points.
The nation’s major retailers delivering some of the best sales results
in a decade—same-store sales jumping more than 9 percent in March.
That’s the largest increase on record. Gap stores, Target and Bed Bath &
Beyond were a few of the day’s big winners.
But Pier 1 Imports was the standout, bouncing back with a 19 percent
jump in same-store sales. That sent its shares skyrocketing nearly 17
Airline stocks surging across the board today after Wednesday’s
announcement of merger talks between United and U.S. Airways, but a
disappointing report on jobs clouding the recovery picture. New claims
jumped by 18,000 last week. Analysts had been expecting a decline.
That’s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Members of Congress see and hear a lot of anger back in their
districts these days about health care. It’s as extreme as death threats
for some places, in other places, just anger and incivility.
Last Wednesday, for example, at a senior center up in Manchester, New
Hampshire, Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, who is running for the
Senate, was rebuffed by a constituent. He tried to shake her hand. She
said: “I don’t want to shake your hand. You voted for health care, so just
And this past Monday night, the shouting started again at
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s town hall meeting down in Fort
Lauderdale. Let’s listen and watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Historic health care
summit led by President Obama to review the details of the health care...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.
I am going to ask everybody to continue to be respectful, to continue
to be respectful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you be respectful to us when you lie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman, who gave you the right or the
authority to determine whether or not I have to purchase health care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, what is behind this anger? And can Democrats do
anything to change people’s minds?
Both Congressman Hodes and Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz join us
Congresswoman, let me ask you this question. It seems to be the issue
that’s grabbing people right now, is not the cost of the fiscal issues or
all the complicated issues of medical care, but this libertarian argument
you are beginning to hear: I don’t want to buy health insurance. You
can’t make me.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, at my town hall, I did get that question,
you know, the “What gives you the right to force me to have health care?
And what I explained—and a lot of people appreciated this
explanation—was that we did not require in this legislation Americans to
have health care. What we did was, we established a different treatment
via your tax return, just like the difference between married people and
unmarried people or people who have children and don’t or homeowners and
So, if you choose not to have health care, you can do that, but you
just need to understand that you are going to be treated differently on
your tax return at the end of the year, and you are going to have to—you
will be assessed differently than you would have if you carry health care.
So, it was a pretty simple explanation, and a lot of people
appreciated it. But, unfortunately, the segment that you just—the clip
you just showed from my town hall, you know, all of those clips were taken
by opponents of reform. They don’t really show the fact that the
overwhelming majority of people that showed up to my town hall were
supporters of health care reform, supporters of me and of President Obama,
and were very enthusiastic.
And I got a chance to talk to them, my constituents, about the fact
that we closed the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, and answer—and clear
up a lot of their questions and highlight the fact that we literally
changed the health care system with this signature, with the president’s
signature, from a sick care system to a prevention and wellness system, and
took the insurance companies out of the driver’s seat, and put patients and
doctors there, where they belong.
Let’s bring in Congressman Hodes up in New Hampshire.
We haven’t you on for a while, sir. Thank you for joining us.
This woman gave you sort of the rebuff when you wanted to shake her
hand the other day. Is that new for you to have that kind of anger?
REP. PAUL HODES (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, Chris, this is New
Hampshire. We have a lot of independent thinkers in New Hampshire.
What happened at the Cashin Senior Center was, I had a great time.
There were a table of about a dozen ladies who were eating lunch. Two of
them didn’t—didn’t like the health care bill and did not want to shake
my hand. The other 10 said: “Come on, honey, sit down. Let’s have lunch.
We want to shake your hand.”
HODES: And we had a great time at the senior center.
So, there were a couple who were not happy, and an awful lot of people
who were thanking me and were especially interested to hear that, this
year, we are going to start closing the doughnut hole for seniors.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, you start, Congressman, is this a
squeaky wheel situation where the people that don’t like it are getting all
of the noise and getting all of the reaction from the media? Because
obviously, you know, we don’t say, a great day out on 95 last night, there
were no accidents, we cover the accidents. I mean, that’s just what the
news is. I mean, it’s a sad fact. We are not going to say, God, you know,
everything went great the other day when five people got murdered last
So, I mean, that’s the fact of news coverage, we are going to cover
the anger factor. Are you saying it’s not representative, however? Are
you saying that?
HODES: What I’m saying, Chris, is it’s certainly not representative
of my experience this week. I have been out talking about jobs, and
revitalizing the middle class and health care reform is a jobs bill
especially for small business. And people have been thanking me.
When I tell them that kids for 19 and under are going to not be
denied health insurance for preexisting conditions. That seniors, we’re
starting to close the doughnut hole. And that for small businesses, this
means tax credits now to help pay for health insurance for their employees.
Folks are thanking me.
And what I’ve got is—so I had two ladies who did not want to shake
my hand, and we did a public town hall in Nashua, it was advertised all
over. It was advertised on statewide television and the newspapers. I had
one guy outside with a sign saying it’s my money, and inside I had a crowd
that gave me a standing ovation when I walked in and wanted to know some
details and talk about jobs.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Let me go to Congresswoman Schultz.
I mean, it’s—I just want to know about this thing. A couple things
mystify me. First of all, if we’re closing the doughnut hole, which means
people who rely on drugs, pharmaceuticals, will get a pretty good deal.
They’ll get basically drugs as expensive as they might get, they won’t get
cut off at a certain level.
That’s a very good thing for people as they get older because you rely
more and more on pharmaceuticals, and we all know that, and that’s better
than not taking them. We all know that. Why are they complaining, and why
are people who are already on Medicare, which is a government program that
they’ve kicked into during their working years, why are they against the
government role per se?
That’s what surprises me. They benefit from a government role, per
se. Why do these people say, why can’t the government stay out of health
care? What are they talking about? It’s inconsistent.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, the senior citizens that
I represent, and obviously representing their districts in South Florida, I
represent a large number of them, when we have a chance to explain to them
and cut through the rude bullies that are essentially trying to take over
these meetings, and the noise like—that you just described that is
really getting over-covered in proportion to what is really happening, when
we have a chance to explain to seniors that they get a $250 check this year
when they fall in the doughnut hole, that next year there will be a 50
percent cut on name brand drugs when they fall in the doughnut hole, and
over the next 10 years, it will be completely closed.
That we are adding nine years of solvency to Medicare, that we’re
going to make sure that they can have a annual wellness exam which most
seniors don’t go to—can’t have right now because they cannot afford the
co-pays and the deductibles, when we get to explain that, then seniors
understand and support the bill.
The rude bullies in the tea party, some of whom actually came to my
town hall meeting, Chris, the other night. And by the way, Paul, I also
got a standing ovation at the beginning and at the end. You know, 80
percent of the room was for reform.
But, Chris, I mean, one of the—one guy yelled out to a woman who
was standing up in support of reform, he yelled out “good” when she talked
about how she had been injured on—brain-injured on the job with a lead
ball, and that’s why she had forgotten her question and asked for another
opportunity to ask it.
Another person in the courtyard screamed out that God punished me and
gave me breast cancer because I supported health care reform. So it’s just
I mean, the vitriol and the venom, these people are not interested in
working together and having a civil discussion, and they are interested in
winning, and that’s not what this is all about. We should all come
MATTHEWS: Well, we’ll keep a lookout for that person who took the
pictures of your last meeting. That was the shakiest hand I’ve ever seen
in television. Anyway, thank you, Congressman Paul Hodes and Congresswoman
Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That picture was all over the place.
Up next, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann are considered two of the
brightest lights in the Republican Party. What does that tell you about
where the party stands? These people here—these two women are super
stars right now in the tea party movement. Are they leaders of the
Republican Party yet? That’s the big question. Or will they bring down
the ticket if they get on it? Like you could argue happened last time.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Is Eliot Spitzer getting back into politics? Well, could
be. The former New York governor who quit in 2008 after being caught with
a prostitute told Fortune magazine, quote, “I’ve never said I would never
consider running for office again.”
Well, the magazine reports Spitzer may be eying the office of state
comptroller in New York State. Who says there is no second acts in the
American life? Actually, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald. HARDBALL returns
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Was Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell making a strategic political move when he decided to make April
“Confederate History Month”? That’s a question for the strategists, Steve
McMahon is the Republican strategist and Todd Harris is the Democratic...
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I’m what?
MATTHEWS: ... strategist.
MCMAHON: Yes, we knew what you meant.
MATTHEWS: You know what, I read the prompter.
MATTHEWS: Somebody is a little tired here. Let me go with Steve who
is the Democrat and Todd who is the Republican.
You know, it seems to me, I don’t go with this mistake, you know, we
cover politics here a little more at a sophisticated level here. There are
no mistakes in politics.
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, there are mistakes in
politics. We make them all the time.
MATTHEWS: when a man sits down and writes a proclamation about
Confederate History Month and knows what he is doing...
MCMAHON: In Virginia. In the state of Virginia.
MATTHEWS: And a liberal would not do it, a conservative would,
especially a conservative who can’t run for re-election but wants to liven
up his base, why did he do it? Why did he not mention slavery when it was
about the Civil War?
HARRIS: It was a mistake.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by mistake?
HARRIS: Obviously, they should have mentioned it. And he said...
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by mistake, though? Like, he is writing
it and he forgot to mention it?
HARRIS: It should have been included. And he didn’t say.
MATTHEWS: No, no. What do you mean he forgot to mention it?
HARRIS: I don’t—I wasn’t in...
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by that? Look...
HARRIS: I wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t in his brain.
MATTHEWS: Mistakes meaning he forgot slavery existed? Is that the
mistake? Did he think it wasn’t important?
HARRIS: We can do one of two things here...
MATTHEWS: That he didn’t want to offend anybody who had slaves?
HARRIS: But this—Chris, hold on. This is part of the problem.
When politicians make mistakes, and then they come back and say, you know
what, I made a mistake, and then people on cable news go and beat the hell
out of him again for a week...
MATTHEWS: What does “mistake” mean?
HARRIS: It means he should not have done it. And he has acknowledged
and said, I shouldn’t have done it. He called Governor Wilder and issued
an apology. He has called the head of the Black Caucus in Richmond in the
legislature and issued an apology to him. I mean, for a politician to make
a mistake and say, you know what, I made a mistake and I’m going to own it,
there ought to be more of that, not less.
MCMAHON: Here is the question, when Bob McDonnell says he is sorry,
is he sorry that he did it or is he sorry that he got caught? And my
HARRIS: Well, how could he not get caught? This is a public
MCMAHON: Well, you know what, he apparently didn’t think he was going
to get caught. And he thought it would just slide on by and nobody would
MATTHEWS: Was this a win-win for him? I don’t think it was a
mistake. I think it was win-win. If nobody blew a whistle on it, he would
have been happy with the right wing. They would have loved it. Now that
he had to apologize, the right wing down in the rural parts of the state
say, yes, he had apologized, but we know where his heart is.
HARRIS: I would bet if you were sitting with Governor McDonnell right
now, he would not be saying this is a win-win. And I’ve talked to some of
the people around him. I don’t think that they feel that this is a win-
win. I think they do feel that he made a mistake, he owned up for that
mistake, which too many people don’t do.
MATTHEWS: Explain the thinking about why you would a person—forget
the lingo and the particulars, why would a guy get up one day and talk to
his staff and say, you know, we ought to do something to honor Confederate
month around here. Why would somebody do that?
HARRIS: I don’t know. I mean, this is not a Republican-Democrat
thing, this is a Southern...
MATTHEWS: It’s not?
HARRIS: No, it’s a Southern thing. And, you know, I’m from
HARRIS: I’m hardly qualified to talk about this. But look, all of
us have traveled all through the South and whether you are a Republican or
a Democrat, there is no question that white Southerners have a special
feeling about their history that people from the North don’t understand,
don’t relate to. It’s not a Republican thing, it’s not a Democratic thing.
I’m a Californian, I don’t pretend to understand it. But I also—I’m not
going to condemn it.
MATTHEWS: Why did Mark Warner and Tim Kaine not do it, the two
previous Democratic governors?
HARRIS: I don’t know, ask him.
MATTHEWS: But you’ve said it’s not a Democrat or Republican thing?
HARRIS: I don’t think that it is.
MATTHEWS: But then...
MCMAHON: Why did the Republicans oppose the Civil Rights Act? Why is
there still pre-clearance for 11 states in the South? I mean, there is a
cultural aspect to this, there is no question about it. But a good
politician and the last two Democratic governors of Virginia recognized how
inflammatory and insulting this is to so many people in Virginia and they
didn’t do it for that reason.
MATTHEWS: OK. We’ve done the South, let’s do the West, because a lot
of regionalism in the country right now. This Western thing that’s going
on with Palin and with Bachmann about fishing and hunting, they make very
strong regional appeals. Is your party becoming sort of a party of the
South and the West, and is this going to replace sort of the establishment
of your party, the people like Boehner and McConnell?
Are they like sort of just standing there? They’re being replaced by
the Bachmanns and the Palins?
HARRIS: Well, based on polling that I’ve seen, and based on election
results, whether it’s Scott Brown or Governor Christie in New Jersey, I
think that there is an appeal, an appeal to the Republican Party, a
rightward movement across the country, not just in the South, not just in
the Midwest, but in the Northeast, in the Mountain West, also in the South.
And so you know, we’ll see what happens on Election Day. But...
MATTHEWS: So these people are the new stars of your party, these two
HARRIS: Well, there’s no question that Bachmann and Governor Palin
have quite a bit of grassroots support. But does that make them the
leaders of the party? No, I don’t think that it does. Or right now, that
one of the—I think one of the reasons why the party is kind of having
some of the troubles that it’s having is because we don’t have a leader
right now. And this happens to every party when you don’t control the
White House. That’s what the next couple of years are going to be about.
MATTHEWS: I think we made her here on this show when I asked her and
she said—on the network said, we have to investigate the Democratic
members of Congress for anti-Americanism. And all of a sudden that led to
she went up the flag with that one.
MCMAHON: That’s right. And, you know, it’s things like this that
make people a star in the Republican Party. Bob McDonnell will turn this
and make it something that the national media blew up and the Democrats
blew it up.
MATTHEWS: Let him talk.
MCMAHON: He’s sorry today, but when he runs for president, he’s going
to say, the national media took that out of context and blew it up, the
Democrats took it out of context and blew it up, you know where my heart
is. You know that if there was nothing wrong...
MATTHEWS: Bachmann now defends that charge that the Democrats ought
to be investigated for anti-Americanism.
MCMAHON: She does. And she was...
MATTHEWS: They apologize and then they come back and say, but you
HARRIS: And Congressman Grayson of Florida, when he stood on the
floor and said, the Republican health care plan is to let people die...
MCMAHON: He didn’t apologize for that thing. He didn’t apologize.
HARRIS: He apologized for it, and then issued a direct mail piece to
raise money off of it. So this happens all over the place.
MCMAHON: Now you have got “Bachmann-Palin Overdrive” going around the
country like a little concert tour. Sort of basically the Republican Party
is now returning to its base, the West and the South.
MATTHEWS: I’m waiting for you to do the windmill—what do we call
it? Windshield wiper wave. You have got to learn how to do it in your
party. Now they all do it now. Steve McMahon, thank you, Todd Harris.
When we return, which party would Abraham Lincoln join today? Would
he still be a Republican after all of the talk about states’ rights and
honoring the Confederacy? Would they like him? You’re watching HARDBALL,
it’s choosing up sides time for Abraham Lincoln, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We finish tonight with some thoughts about the Republican
Party. It’s about its brand. “The party of Lincoln,” as it has been
called, was formed to fight the expansion of slavery into the territories.
It was formed by a merge of the old Whig Party and the abolitionist
movement, which was committed to the end of slavery as an American
In 1860, the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was elected
president of the United States. He became a symbol of the Republican Party
for all of the generations to come. Lincoln Day dinners have always been
one of the party’s annual rituals. When the Republicans hold a convention,
a portrait of Lincoln has been right up there.
Do they really want him up there anymore? Ever since the passage of
the 1964 civil rights bill, the segregationist wing of the Democratic Party
has been migrating to the Republicans. Lyndon Johnson, who signed that
bill, said it would happen and it did.
After some Dixiecrats voted later that year for Barry Goldwater, who
opposed the civil rights bill on constitutional grounds, they voted for
George Wallace in 1968 before gradually making themselves at home in the
Now the Dixiecrats are really showing their stuff. No more of this
pretending to be “Grand Old Party” types. They’re talking like real
Confederates. You hear Texas Governor Rick Perry talking about secession.
Virginia Governor McDonald singing the praises of the Confederacy itself,
calling the Civil War a noble fight for independence against the power of
the dreaded Union army.
The other day a Republican congressman from North Carolina said, we
ought to dump General Grant, who led the Union forces, from the $50 bill,
and replace him with someone closer to the Confederate heart: Ronald
Reagan. The guy running for Florida governor is leading the fight against
the new health care bill as, quote, “an invasion of the state’s
Do we really think this crowd wants Abraham Lincoln as its hero?
Let’s be honest, on both sides, this whole party thing has gone topsy-
turvy. Who started his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois,
paying tribute to its favorite son, Abraham Lincoln? Who do you think
represents the spirit of Lincoln in today’s politics and who doesn’t, not a
bit? You call it.
The Democratic Party of Barack Obama or the one that’s talking up
secession, putting down General Grant, singing about states’ rights, and
pining for them good old days? That’s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being
Right now it’s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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