Guests: Judd Gregg, Jonathan Martin, Larry Pratt, Skip Coryell, Bob Corker,
David Corn, Susan Page.
HOST: Guns along the Potomac.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in New York. Leading off tonight:
Packing heat. First it was those tea partiers, now it‘s the pro-gun crowd.
They rallied on both sides of the Potomac River for—well, what exactly?
Freedom? Freedom to do what? And while we‘re at it, why today? Are they
commemorating the first shots of the Revolutionary War or maybe are they
winking at the anti-government hatred that resulted in Oklahoma City, which
as every militiaman knows, was exactly 15 years ago today.
Their friends in the tea party crowd seems to be, as the old song
goes, torn between two lovers, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul. They‘re about
evenly divided in the party between the social conservative Palin and the
Libertarian Ron Paul. Today, the new “Politico” poll that actually answers
the question, who are the tea partiers?
Plus: Do the fraud charges against Goldman Sachs increase the
Democrats‘ chances of passing Wall Street reform? President Obama put a
name and a face to the Republican opposition to that effort, Mitch
McConnell. This may be a battle the Democrats can actually win.
In Florida, signs that Charlie Crist may have decided he can‘t win the
Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. If he runs as an independent, it
may give the Democrats the best chance they have of taking that seat.
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with what I think about Americans who
think they need guns to protect themselves from their own government.
We start with today‘s pro-gun rallies in Washington and Virginia.
Larry Pratt is executive director of Gun Owners of America and Skip Coryell
is the founder of the 2nd Amendment March. Gentlemen, thank you for
Larry, what do you make of the U.S. government? Is it bad?
LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: The U.S. government is too big.
It has powers that it‘s exercising that unconstitutional, socialistic. And
I think that is the mood that more and more Americans are coming to realize
is shared with a lot of their friends and neighbors, and I think we‘re
aiming to take it down a peg or two during the primaries—when did it
PRATT: ... and elections.
MATTHEWS: ... socialistic? When did it get socialistic?
PRATT: Well, it‘s been something that‘s been on the way for a long
time, but I think the incumbent president has probably in a sort of an
unintended way done us a favor by making so many people so much more aware
this is what they‘re doing in Washington. And that‘s why I think we‘re
seeing the growth of the opposition to what has been done in Washington
because now people realize and they don‘t like it.
MATTHEWS: I want to ask you about health care before we move to the
other guest, and that question deals with this. Teddy Roosevelt was for
national health. Dick Nixon was for it. Jack Kennedy, I was reading the
other night, the first time he ran in ‘46 for the House, he was for it.
Certainly Harry Truman was for it. Johnson was for it. Are they all
PRATT: Yes, actually, they were. They were advocating...
MATTHEWS: They‘re all socialists.
PRATT: They were advocating—and they called themselves, in many
cases, progressives, which is just another word for socialist. And the
idea that somehow the government can do better making decisions about my
health than I can is obnoxious.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Skip Coryell on that. Skip, do you share the
same views about the federal government, that it‘s socialistic?
SKIP CORYELL, 2ND AMENDMENT MARCH: I think the federal government is
way too big. Whether or not they‘re socialists—you know, I‘m not a
political science major. I don‘t know. I just know that I don‘t want the
federal government running every aspect of my life. They are too big.
They do need to be shrunk down a little bit, yes.
MATTHEWS: What freedom have you been denied in your lifetime? I
mean, do you have rights or don‘t you have rights? I‘m curious. I feel
pretty free. I guess you don‘t because you wouldn‘t be out there rallying
if you did feel free. How do you feel that they‘ve gotten in the way of
your free speech, your free religion, your free association, the free
employment, where you go, where you live, where you travel? Where have
they gotten in the way of that, of these basic human freedoms?
CORYELL: Well, they have gotten in the way right now as I speak. I‘m
standing in Washington, D.C., next to the national monument, Washington
Monument. I‘m unarmed. Normally, I would carry a pistol for self-defense.
Right now, I am defenseless, except for your cameraman, but I don‘t think
he‘s going to do a whole lot of good if I try and—if someone mugs me
right now. So the right to keep and bear arms—I am being infringed upon
right now as we speak, sir.
MATTHEWS: Because you should be allowed to carry any armament you can
carry, by “bearing arms.” In other words, if you can carry it, you should
be allowed to, if you can lift it up.
CORYELL: Well, I—I suppose so, yes, but...
MATTHEWS: I mean, what are the limits to gun—what are your limits
to gun ownership?
CORYELL: Why would you...
MATTHEWS: What are your limits?
CORYELL: I want a pistol!
MATTHEWS: What should be your right?
CORYELL: I want a pistol on my side. I want to be able to protect my
family. I got four little kids.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORYELL: I got a 4-year-old little boy. I‘ve got a 5-month-old baby.
MATTHEWS: How much...
CORYELL: I want to be able to protect them and my wife.
MATTHEWS: Should there be any limits—should there be any limits on
your ability to carry firepower, your personal ability to carry fire—
should it be what you can bear, literally?
CORYELL: Chris, what are you talking about...
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking you.
CORYELL: ... a nuclear weapon or a...
MATTHEWS: You said you were...
CORYELL: ... a bazooka?
MATTHEWS: I asked to you name all the rights in the world, and you
limited it yourself to your concern about guns on the Washington Mall. I‘m
asking you, what kind of gun would you like to carry? How big should it be
on the Washington Mall? Can you carry a bazooka?
CORYELL: OK, I‘ll answer that...
MATTHEWS: Does the 2nd Amendment protect that right?
CORYELL: I don‘t feel the need for a bazooka right now, but I would
like to have maybe a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson, maybe 9 millimeter, as
long as I...
MATTHEWS: ... what are your rights?
CORYELL: Yes. I‘m fine. My rights are...
MATTHEWS: What are your rights?
CORYELL: ... are I have the right to protect my family...
MATTHEWS: No, no. You‘re just using rhetoric.
CORYELL: ... my kids...
MATTHEWS: You said your rhetoric—you said that your rights were
being denied right now on the Washington Mall because you can‘t carry.
CORYELL: Yes, they are!
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me what your rights are.
CORYELL: Because I am not...
CORYELL: I can‘t protect myself right now. I have...
MATTHEWS: Can you carry a bazooka?
CORYELL: ... the God-given right...
MATTHEWS: An automatic weapon?
CORYELL: ... to protect myself. And you and your friends are not
allowing me to protect myself!
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking you a question.
CORYELL: I don‘t like big government!
MATTHEWS: I‘m not on the Supreme Court.
CORYELL: And I am telling you...
MATTHEWS: I‘m not in Congress.
CORYELL: ... exactly—I‘m answering your question, kind sir!
CORYELL: I am not being allowed to protect myself!
CORYELL: God gave me life. He gave me the right to protect my life.
And it is being taken away by the government as we speak, sir!
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that everyone in Washington, D.C., right now
would be better off carrying a firearm, everyone in the city of Washington
right now would be better off carrying a gun?
CORYELL: They would be better off with the choice.
MATTHEWS: And well, if they exercised the choice, would that be OK
with you? If you were surrounded right now by a million people in
Washington all armed like yourself, would that bother you?
CORYELL: No, not really. I‘m from Michigan. I do it quite often. I
live with that.
MATTHEWS: OK. But you won‘t tell me...
MATTHEWS: You‘re an expert on 2nd Amendment, but you won‘t tell me in
any degree what it protects. Does it protect your right to arm yourself to
what degree? Just tell me.
PRATT: Chris, let me relieve your curiosity, if I might...
MATTHEWS: No, I want Skip to answer the question. He raised the...
PRATT: Well, he‘s giving you an answer...
MATTHEWS: He can handle the answer. He doesn‘t need your help,
Larry. He doesn‘t need your help.
MATTHEWS: Larry, he doesn‘t need your help.
PRATT: ... another take on it. You can look at the Militia Act of
1792. They made it very clear that it‘s the standard issue rifle of the
day that you‘re going to be carrying. That‘s what‘s protected by the 2nd
MATTHEWS: OK, so you would say that would be what today? What kind
of armament would that be?
PRATT: Machine gun. The battle weapon that our soldiers are using.
MATTHEWS: You mean an automatic weapon.
PRATT: Of course.
MATTHEWS: But they‘ve been outlawed since the ‘30s.
PRATT: In some ways, they‘re greatly restricted. They shouldn‘t be
outlawed. That‘s another unconstitutional invasion by our federal
MATTHEWS: Was J. Edgar Hoover a socialist, as well?
PRATT: Oh, yes. Very much a big government advocate. He‘s the guy
that really brought on the Depression with his big tariff.
MATTHEWS: No, J. Edgar Hoover.
PRATT: J. Edgar Hoover? I don‘t know what his politics were.
MATTHEWS: Well, I thought they got rid of the machine guns back in
the days of Elliot (ph) Ness, and you want to bring them back.
PRATT: That was a good deal before J. Edgar, really. Yes, I would.
I would like to bring them back.
PRATT: That‘s absolutely what the...
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re for machine guns...
MATTHEWS: Do you think you should be allowed to carry a tommy gun
onto the Washington Mall if you feel like it?
PRATT: Just like Switzerland. Absolutely.
CORYELL: I would like to have a machine gun. I mean, not to carry...
MATTHEWS: Would you like to have the right—do you have the right
to walk down that mall you‘re on right now carrying a machine gun?
CORYELL: Yes, I do. What I don‘t have the right to do is murder
CORYELL: We don‘t need 20,000 gun laws. We need one gun law that
says, Thou shall not murder. That‘s it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you need your gun to protect you from the federal
government while you‘re in Washington, Skip?
CORYELL: Not right now, no.
MATTHEWS: Not right now, but...
CORYELL: Not right now.
MATTHEWS: OK, would you? Larry, would you like to have a machine gun
to protect you from the federal government?
PRATT: When they start shooting the way King George shot at our
forefathers, they get the first shot. We get the last.
MATTHEWS: Do you expect that?
PRATT: I don‘t know what to expect. These people are out of control,
MATTHEWS: Is it plausible that this government of ours which was
elected by us, that wasn‘t foisted on us by a royal crown in Britain—do
you think it‘s plausible that it could come to attack you personally with
PRATT: It‘s not plausible until the moment it happens. It‘s just
something that—for instance, the Jews weren‘t expecting...
MATTHEWS: OK, so...
PRATT: ... in Nazi Germany.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask about President Obama. Do you believe he‘s
an American? You first, Larry.
PRATT: I don‘t care whether...
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking you...
PRATT: ... he‘s an American or a foreigner.
MATTHEWS: ... a question.
PRATT: The man is an un-American...
MATTHEWS: Sir, if you can‘t answer this question, it‘s the last one
I‘m putting to you.
PRATT: Listen, you take the answer I‘m giving you...
MATTHEWS: Do you think he‘s an American?
PRATT: ... because that‘s the way it‘s going to have to work. He is
un-American in the way he thinks.
PRATT: He hates this country. He hates the Constitution. He‘s a
socialist and he‘s trying to grab every bit of power he can!
MATTHEWS: What was he teaching...
PRATT: That‘s the answer.
MATTHEWS: What was his specialty at University of Chicago law school?
Wasn‘t he teaching constitutional law?
PRATT: He was teaching Saul Alinsky combat—street combat methods,
that‘s what he was doing.
MATTHEWS: At the University of Chicago law school?
PRATT: That‘s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Where do you get this from?
PRATT: From the blackboard that he was photographed in front of.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about Obama—you won‘t tell me whether
he‘s a citizen or not. You have a problem with that question, I guess.
PRATT: I don‘t care whether he is or not!
MATTHEWS: Well, what‘s your answer?
PRATT: I don‘t know! I don‘t care!
MATTHEWS: So you‘re not willing to vouch for him as an American.
PRATT: All I know is I want to get him out of office as soon as I
MATTHEWS: OK, you won‘t answer the question. How about Skip? Will
you answer the question? Is Obama president of the United States? Is he
legitimately elected? Is he a citizen of our country?
CORYELL: As far as I know, he was legitimately elected to the office
of president. He is my president until someone proves differently. He is
my president, yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. But you won‘t back that up. You‘re not with him on
that, Larry, right, so we have a disagreement here.
PRATT: Hey, you can make anybody disagreeable, Chris. Way to go!
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? It‘s the pursuit of the truth, sir,
and you‘ve given us a lot. You don‘t think this president is one of us
because you won‘t even say so.
PRATT: What‘s important is what he believes and what he‘s doing.
MATTHEWS: No, what‘s important...
PRATT: That‘s what we have to deal with.
MATTHEWS: ... is you won‘t answer a simple question. Is he an
PRATT: He‘s in the office, and I want to defeat him.
MATTHEWS: OK. Right. Well, that‘s fair enough. That is totally
fair. This is how we do it in this country, debating—what I don‘t
understand is your lack of faith in our government. It‘s a democratic
government. It‘s decided every four years who our president is.
PRATT: You love the government...
MATTHEWS: And yet you don‘t have any faith...
PRATT: ... because you‘re a socialist...
MATTHEWS: ... in our democratic ability to pick our president.
PRATT: ... and they‘re socialists! And they‘re doing what you like.
Naturally, we‘re going to be a little bit disturbed because they‘re coming
for our freedom.
PRATT: They‘re coming—you can‘t open a business without a permit.
You can‘t do anything in this country without a permit. That‘s not
MATTHEWS: So I‘m a socialist, too.
PRATT: Of course!
MATTHEWS: How did I get this label? Where‘d this come from?
PRATT: Chris, look at what you believe in. I watch your show. I
know what you talk—I know what you think.
MATTHEWS: Where are my errors (ph)? Do I believe the federal
government should control our economy?
PRATT: Of course. You‘re supporting all this stuff.
MATTHEWS: The president of the United States named George W. Bush
supported the bailing out of the auto industry. He supported the bailing
out of our financial institutions.
PRATT: And shame on George...
MATTHEWS: Is he a socialist, too?
PRATT: And shame—yes, he is. And he said he had to use a little
socialism to try to save capitalism. Well, you know what? That was really
a stupid thing to say!
MATTHEWS: OK, Larry. We know where you stand, bro. Thank you for
coming on. I‘m not a socialist, by the way, but I can only defend myself
against your otherwise general charges.
MATTHEWS: Pardon me?
PRATT: You got plenty of good company. You ought to ‘fess up to it
and just enjoy it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Skip Coryell. It‘s a great country, isn‘t
it, Larry? And we do have our freedoms. We just proved it. You guys with
all this paranoia are crazy. There‘s plenty of freedom in this country.
MATTHEWS: I prove every night, sir...
CORYELL: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Every night, I prove we have freedom. Thank you very much
for coming on. And you helped prove it with me.
President Obama‘s coming to New York to fight for Wall Street reform.
Will Republicans help him? During this commercial break a new poll shows
America‘s influence in the world is now going up. The reason? You‘ll get
it. I think it has something to do with Larry doesn‘t like. The world
likes this guy. He doesn‘t.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Call it the “Barack effect.” Views of the United States
around the world have improved sharply over the past year. A BBC World
News Service poll suggests for the first time since 2005, America‘s
influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative. The
U.S. fell to a low of 28 percent on average back in 2007, but recovered to
35 percent in 2009 and is now up to 40 percent in this year‘s poll. We‘ll
be right back. We‘re getting popular.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Senate Democrats plan to bring
their Wall Street reform bill to the floor this Thursday, the same day
President Obama campaigns here in New York for financial regulation. But
Republicans still say they have the votes to block the legislation. Here‘s
what Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Banking Committee, said today
about Republican opposition to his bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT), BANKING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Now, as I read
the letter from the Republican leaders, the words about filibusters were
not in that letter. They expressed opposition to the legislation. And
look, in light of events over the last week or so, again, where the SEC is
now moving on actions here, the Lehman Brothers problems, I don‘t really
believe Republican members want to be in a position where they‘re talking
about filibustering a bill that would allow us to address those issues as
we do in our legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Will Republicans actually filibuster Wall Street reform,
especially in light of the fraud charges this weekend against Goldman
Sachs? Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is a member of the
Mr. Corker, you‘ve have been mentioned from—God, for weeks now as
someone who might be able to help put together a bipartisan attack, if you
will, on the abuses of Wall Street. Are you in it?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), BANKING COMMITTEE: Oh, no question, Chris.
I‘ve been working for the last year with Mark Warner. I spent tremendous
amounts of time on this issue, and I absolutely want to see a great
financial regulation bill passed. I‘m taking Senator Dodd at his word, and
that was if we pass the bill out of committee on a party line vote, which
we did, a 1,336-page bill—in 21 minutes, I might add, with no amendments
that we would work to get a bipartisan template before it came to the
floor, and I‘m still hopeful that‘s going to happen.
I continue to have multiple conversations with people on the other
side of the aisle and hope we get there. I think it‘s something important
for our country, and that‘s what I came here to do.
MATTHEWS: Well, one thing I know about Chris Dodd, the senator, is
he‘s a real institutionalist. He believes in the Senate deeply. His dad
served. He served all these years. He will want to have a bipartisan
bill. So what‘s the snag? If he wants to do it and you want to do it and
everybody‘s mad about Goldman Sachs and this horrendous case up there of,
apparently, a deliberate effort to bilk people out a billion dollars so
that somebody could make a billion dollars, it seems the good guy case here
is to find a bipartisan solution.
CORKER: I couldn‘t agree more. And we‘re really not that far from
it, Chris. You know, there are some things on orderly liquidation that
I‘ve said on the floor and said multiple times we could fix in about five
minutes. The consumer protection piece needs to be put back where it was
when Chris and I were negotiating on March the 10th.
But I do believe that both sides, in fairness, have begun to use this
as a political football. Again, that‘s not what I came here to do.
CORKER: I hope that—I think we will—by the way, at the end of
the day, in spite of all of the rhetoric...
MATTHEWS: Yes, well...
CORKER: ... I think we‘re going to end up—I think we‘re going to
end up with a 70-vote bill. I believe that with all my heart, and I think
we‘ll do it (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be great. I really think it‘s good for
the country to work together. Here‘s President Obama when he went squarely
against Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, in his weekly radio
address. He‘s talking about the opposition to Wall Street reform. Let‘s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just the other day, in
fact, the leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican
Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to
talk about how to block progress on this issue. Lo and behold, when he
returned to Washington, the Senate Republican leader came out against
common sense reforms that we‘ve proposed. In doing so, he made the cynical
and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bail-outs,
when he knows that it would do exactly the opposite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t know about the simple causality is that
statement. I‘m not a big believer in sort of simple causality. But I am
concerned, Mr. Corker, Senator, about this Frank Luntz story, the fact that
you folks in the Republican side hired some consultant to come up with
talking points which said that this is just permanent bail-out bill. It
just bugs me that that was done a priori, that before you even saw the
Chris Dodd bill, your side‘s getting advice from a PR guy on this thing.
Your thoughts on this? Is that true, first of all? If it‘s not true, I‘m
CORKER: Well, look...
MATTHEWS: We hear it‘s true.
CORKER: I mean, I don‘t know—I don‘t know who Mr. Luntz was
working for. I‘m aware that there certainly was language to that effect.
I can tell you, Chris, I‘ve never used any of it. I think the rhetoric on
our side has been over the top. And look, I‘ve worked with Mark Warner on
the specific title that they‘re referring to and some changes no doubt were
made by—by the Fed and by the Treasury and by the FDIC that created some
But—but the goal is to absolutely put these companies out of
business. And that‘s what Senator Warner and I have worked on. I hope we
can finish up our work and get this bill in the middle of the road. And,
regardless of who Mr. Luntz may or may not have been working for, I can
tell this. I have never used those words, ever...
CORKER: ... and, as a matter of fact, was on the Senate floor
countering that today.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. It‘s great to have you, Senator Corker.
CORKER: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I hope you get a deal together so much.
CORKER: Thank you. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think the country needs some action.
Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire joins us right now. He sits on
the Banking Committee as well.
Senator Gregg, let me ask you about this.
I—I watched Geithner this weekend on “Meet the Press,” I—what I
lack—what I see there is a lack of passion. I don‘t sense a guy who is
willing to really go at the bad guys. I mean, I would be angry—well, I
am—that there‘s so much genius. These guys should be physicists. They
should be Nobel Prize winners. And they take their 190 I.Q.s up to Wall
Street, and they figure out clever instruments they can use to make a
billion dollars for doing nothing, except steal it.
Does that bother you, like it does normal people?
SEN. JUDD GREGG ®, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Of course. Nobody wants anybody
to be stealing stuff.
But I think the core question here is, can we reach a bipartisan
package? And I think Senator Corker has outlined it pretty effectively.
Yes, we can. We—we actually—Senator Corker is working on one
section, resolution. I was working on another section, derivatives, with
Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
We were basically there on an agreement and then this all got very
political very quickly, unfortunately. You heard the president‘s comments
and response on our side. That‘s not constructive.
My suggestion is this. Let‘s step back, take a mature and thoughtful
approach to this. I think you‘re right that Chris Dodd would like a bill,
and he would like a constructive, bipartisan bill. And let‘s take the
second—sections which have pretty much been worked out, the four major
sections, consumers, how you reorganize the regulatory agencies, resolution
authority, and derivatives, and work off those sections and get it done and
get—get something the American people can say, hey, these guys worked
together and they produced something that‘s going to hopefully reduce the
chance of a systemic-risk event occurring again.
MATTHEWS: Can you ever get as smart as the guys on Wall Street to
stop them from doing these abuses? Is it possible to write regs that work?
GREGG: Well, it would be foolish to try to do that, because you would
get much too into the detail and get too literal, and you end up inevitably
creating unintended consequences.
What you want to do is, make sure you create a structure where, first,
the regulatory agencies have the authority and the flexibility to step
forward when they see something that‘s amiss...
GREGG: ... and, secondly, have a market that has the information—
in other words, transparency—and also has adequate liquidity and
capital, so that it disciplines itself to some degree. Those are the two
keys to getting that done.
I don‘t—I don‘t think specific, targeted regulation would ever
accomplish it, because, as you say, there are a lot of smart people out
there who can figure out how to get around that stuff.
Is there any more Teddy Roosevelt in the Republican Party, trust-
busting reform on Wall Street, that kind of thing We all grew up loving?
We all love Teddy Roosevelt because he was tough on these guys. Is there
still that spirit in the Republican Party? Or has it gotten too bourgeois?
GREGG: Gosh, I didn‘t know you were that old, Chris, that you grew up
with Teddy Roosevelt.
MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. You mock me.
GREGG: I heard earlier that you were a socialist.
MATTHEWS: I know.
GREGG: And now I have learned two new things about you.
MATTHEWS: Yes, along with J. Edgar Hoover. I‘m in really tough
GREGG: The actual—the initiative here from our side of the aisle
is to end too big to fail. I mean, that‘s—we—our basic concerns with
the Dodd language, although they have been, to some degree, hyperbolized,
is that it does not clearly end too big to fail.
The markets cannot work effectively if there‘s a concern—or if
there‘s belief or concern that the taxpayer will come in and support some
company that‘s in serious trouble. That just shouldn‘t happen. There
should be absolutely—it should be absolutely clear that, if a company
gets into trouble, it‘s going down, its stockholders are going to get wiped
off, its unsecured bondholders are going to get wiped out, and it‘s going
to go through some sort of resolution, probably a bankruptcy situation,
where it doesn‘t come back. It just gets broken up.
And that‘s basically our position. It‘s basically the Corker-Warner
proposal. Unfortunately, the Dodd bill did not—did not incorporate the
Corker-Warner proposal in totality. And it should have if it wanted to get
to this issue correctly, in my opinion.
MATTHEWS: How does somebody make a billion dollars because he plans
for another—other people to lose a billion dollars?
I‘m looking at this scandal where this company, Goldman Sachs, came up
with a plan to get people to invest in a billion dollars in—in the big
instruments they were betting on. How do you get somebody else to pick up
that billion dollars? Have you guys figured that out in the Senate?
GREGG: Well, let‘s look at this. This is an anecdotal event. And I
don‘t think we should actually legislate around anecdotal events.
But you‘ve got to remember, it‘s like when you go in the market and
you buy a stock. Let‘s say you buy X, Y, Z stock. Somebody else is
selling you that stock. So, somebody thinks it‘s going to go up and
somebody thinks it‘s going to go down.
In this case, both sides of the ledger were extraordinarily
sophisticated people. So there‘s a very significant question as to whether
or not it was properly disclosed. If it was improperly disclosed, you have
a fraud issue. But, if it was properly disclosed, basically, you‘ve got
two sides to this deal.
One group thought it was going up. One group thought it was going
down. That‘s the way the markets work. There always has to be a buyer.
There has to be a seller. And somebody is going to win and somebody is
going to lose.
In this case, they were doing—these were huge companies and they
were dealing in huge dollars. And it‘s for those of us who are—to
understand those types of dollars, but the fact is, it‘s just like buying a
car down at the local car lot.
GREGG: If you make a good deal, you do well. If you make a bad deal,
you do poorly.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I think you‘re too sophisticated.
GREGG: Assuming there‘s no fraud.
MATTHEWS: I have sort of a moralistic objection to people making a
billion dollars because someone else made a wrong bet, and they knew the
guy that got them to make that bet.
GREGG: Well, if that‘s the case, then you‘ve got an issue, and that‘s
why the SEC is there.
OK. Thank you so much, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
Up next: former Bill Clinton on the question of his wife perhaps—
well, not really, but talking about, with Luke Russert, possibly having her
serve on the United States Supreme Court. That‘s an interesting question,
and Luke got him to answer it.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow” up here in New
NBC‘s Luke Russert got Bill Clinton to say what he thought of Hillary,
his wife, going on to the Supreme Court. Luke threw out the hook, and the
former president bit. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He‘s going to
make a good appointment.
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: None as good as Hillary Rodham
CLINTON: I think she‘s doing a good job where she is.
And I think she believes as I do. I think she would be a great
Supreme Court judge, but I think she probably thinks that it would be
better if he appointed somebody younger, although, if you look at—I
mean, my mother-in-law who is 91. I mean, Hillary is going to live to be
CLINTON: I joke with her all the time she might have three husbands
after me. She‘s going to live forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Three husbands? I think old Bill is out there fishing for
compliments. I can hear Hillary now. “What‘s all this talk about three
more husbands. You‘re my alpha, Bill, and my omega.”
Next: Has the White House made peace with FOX? Not so much.
Here‘s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on CNN with the word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Has the White House moved on from its
criticism of FOX?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, look, I will say
this, that we are—as you said, we—we live in a town in which you have
to play the game. And—and we‘re happy to put guests on. We‘re happy to
Obviously, I take questions from their correspondent each and every
day in the briefing. I don‘t think many people have to watch FOX to
understand the—the political slant that they have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Gibbs knows his stuff.
Finally, I got a pretty nice, pretty unexpected mention in this
Sunday‘s “New York Times.” It came during Deborah Solomon‘s interview with
the great Jane Fonda.
Here‘s Deborah, the interviewer, talking about exercising—quote—
“I ride my exercise bike for 20 minutes wile watching HARDBALL.”
And Jane Fonda responded with—quote—“I love Chris Matthews.”
I won‘t read you the rest.
Now for the “Number.”
Back in 1789, then President George Washington checked out two books
from the New York Society Library, “Law of Nations” and a volume of
transcripts from the recent British House of Commons. He never got to
return them, which means, 221 years later, President Washington owes
$300,000 in library fines. The library says it will not pursue the fees,
but it would like those two books back.
Three hundred thousand dollars and counting on overdue book fines for
the man hiding up there on Mount Rushmore—tonight‘s big, bad number.
Up next: Sarah Palin or Ron Paul? A new poll sheds light on a big
split in the Tea Party movement.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
Stocks bouncing back after posting their biggest loss since February
on Friday—the Dow Jones industrials climbing 73 points, the S&P 500
adding five points, and the Nasdaq finishing a little bit more than one
Goldman Sachs turning it around in the final hour of trading, as
investors digested reports that the SEC‘s case against Goldman is weaker
than expected. Pair that with Citigroup blowing past expectations on first
quarter earnings and revenue, and the financial sector is already
recuperating from Friday‘s losses.
IBM also reporting earnings today and beating expectations as well.
The technology giant also raised its earnings forecast on an increase in
new consulting deals.
But airplane stocks taking a pounding, as investors worry about that
cloud of volcanic grit making its way towards America‘s East Coast.
United, Continental and U.S. Airways all finishing between 3 percent and 5
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
On Thursday, thousands of anti-tax Tea Party people came to
Washington, but just who were they exactly? Well, thanks to Politico, we
Jonathan Martin is the senior political reporter for Politico. And
MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe is the author of “Renegade.”
Gentlemen, I guess these new numbers are interesting. Here‘s the Tea
Party demographic. I don‘t think it‘s going to shock anybody. If I told
you most Tea Party people were African-American and under 25, you would
think I was crazy. But here are the more expected numbers.
MATTHEWS: Here there are, mostly white, about 84 percent, mostly
male, about two-thirds, 64 percent. Forty-five and older, I think much
older in some cases, 59 percent. They voted for McCain, seven out of 10
did, they say. And 74 percent, even more, voted for George W. back the
last time he ran.
Jonathan, there were no surprises here. I think the—this is one
time where the stereotype is probably accurate.
JONATHAN MARTIN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, POLITICO.COM: Yes.
As far as the demographic, absolutely. These are white, middle-class,
often college-educated voters that are deeply unhappy towards Washington.
What is interesting, though, I think, Chris, deeper in those numbers is,
there is something of a split.
A lot of these Tea Party activists are driven purely by fiscal issues.
They think Washington is spending too much of their money. But there‘s
also an element that cares about the cultural issues, too. And you see
that rift in between...
MARTIN: ... how folks think of Sarah Palin and how they view Ron
Paul. There‘s the Palin wing and the Paul wing, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s look at it right now. We have got that thought
up on the chart here. Your work here is going to be on the graph. Here‘s
the big divide, as you mentioned it, Jonathan, within the Tea Party crowd.
Among the 88 percent who say government is trying to do too much,
there‘s an even split over whether government should promote traditional
family values, like opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to
It‘s about even. And what I find fascinating—and I want to bring
in Richard Wolffe on this—those who want to see more of a, you know,
supervision of our social values, opposition to abortion, of course, and
opposition to same-sex marriage, tend to be Palinites.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: And those that want a freer life, sort of a Barry Goldwater
democracy, are for Ron Paul. That doesn‘t surprise me, that Ron Paul is a
libertarian and appeals to libertarians, meaning people who just want less
government period. They‘re very consistent about it.
They don‘t want wars. They don‘t believe in wars like Iraq. They
don‘t believe in all this big brother/big sister kind of government.
WOLFFE: Right. And they run pretty close to each other.
Interesting in those Politico—Politico numbers is that Ron Paul,
you know, a guy who, let‘s face it, doesn‘t have nearly the same profile as
Sarah Palin, is—is running very strongly in there.
But there—look, there are some confused people here. Twelve
percent of these people voted for Barack Obama.
WOLFFE: And it turns out the same number, 12 percent, actually think
they want more government, more government to solve the problems the
country is facing. And it does make you wonder which party they think they
are going to. Maybe they are there for the tea.
MATTHEWS: You mean they are confused? That‘s kind of elitist. I
MATTHEWS: ... maybe they voted for Barack Obama because they just
thought Bush was an idiot. Maybe they had had enough of that war stuff. I
mean, I can imagine looking for something new.
WOLFFE: And now nine out of 10 of them—nine out of 10 of them
disapprove of the job he‘s doing, according to the “New York Times” poll.
I think this is a third-party movement. I mean, look at the numbers
Politico came up with. Seventy percent of them are sending a message to
both parties. Fifty percent of them say neither party has the solution
WOLFFE: This isn‘t actually about the establishment...
MATTHEWS: But you know most—OK.
Let‘s go back to Jonathan.
MATTHEWS: ... you go in the voting booth, you generally consist of—
you see two options...
MATTHEWS: ... Republican and Democrat. I‘m betting you big money
that the—that the Tea Party folk are voting Republican.
MARTIN: Chris, I totally agree.
And Dan Balz, very smart reporter, made this point yesterday in “The
Washington Post,” and that is, for a lot of the Tea Party folks, it‘s
basically a wing of the Republican Party. Look, there may be a few Tea
Party candidates on the ballot that—that draw decent numbers this fall,
but I think, overwhelmingly, these folks are going to vote for whoever the
R. is for the House, for the Senate, for governor, what have you.
That‘s the demographic that we‘re talking about. It‘s mostly an anti-
Obama sort of element. And they are going to pull the lever for whoever
they see as the Republican, even though, I agree, they‘re not terribly fond
of the Republican Party right now. But I think, ultimately, that black-
and-white choice, they are going to pull the lever for the GOP.
MATTHEWS: You know what is interesting to me, watching politics all
these years, Richard, is the three elements that seem to unite these
One, they really hate the federal government. They think it‘s big
brother/big sister, whatever they think, coming at them with socialism.
Number two, they really don‘t like Barack Obama as a person. They just
don‘t like him. Without getting into ethnicity, they don‘t like this guy.
Deep down, they don‘t like what they see.
Third, they seem to think that guns are a big part of their political
apparatus, that having a gun, having a firepower in your basement, is
somehow necessary to protect you from the federal government. It seems to
me, the government‘s coming, I don‘t care how much pistols you have, you
won‘t fight them off. They think it‘s an important psychological and
I think those three things uniting are new. They hate the government.
They hate Barack Obama. And they want firepower to resist both. That‘s to
me a dangerous element.
WOLFFE: I haven‘t seen the number of guns out of this survey. But I
do think their opposition to government is based on more than gun rights
here. This is a very broad approach to whether government can solve
problems or not. And interestingly enough, we‘re at a time when people
have a little confidence in business either.
Normally, you see the numbers on government support going down and
business going up. This is not a particularly fond of the bailouts either
this group. There‘s a lack of confidence in all institutions and all
parties among not just these folks, but more broadly, too.
When it comes down to the gun side of things, obviously, that‘s where
you get into a dangerous element. I kind of think it‘s dangerous just to
dismiss all of these people as the NRA crowd.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t mean for guns to use. Jonathan, do you agree, I
think it‘s an ideological statement. They believe they need resistance
power to federal power. Even if they don‘t use, they like to have it, not
to go hunting, not to protect their children, like fellow did on the mall a
few minutes ago, which I can understand in certain circumstance, not broad
daylight in Washington. But I think in this case it‘s ideological. They
love that Second Amendment for political reasons.
MARTIN: Chris, there are two things at work. There are folks who are
showing up on the National Mall that are carrying muskets and wearing tri-
colored hats and talking about the Second Amendment and talking about the
right to defend themselves. It think those are the kind of folks that
you‘re alluding to. Waving those yellow flags you guys are showing on the
But I also think there are a lot of folks that are average middle
class people that are angry about the size of the federal government,
concerned about spending, that are not out there wearing colonial garb,
that are just sort of concerned about what they see happening in
Washington, D.C. And I think it‘s important to make that distinction.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s a question for you, Richard. We all studied in
economics that when the government sees that the consumer is down, when
investment is down, the government has to compensate for it. We know
there‘s a lot of fear, a bipartisan rear, last year—two years ago now,
about the failure of our financial institutions. These are sort of middle
of the road solutions to these things. Why is everybody calling it
WOLFFE: It‘s got not nothing to do with socialism. Any basic study
of socialism will tell you this is way far away from that. This idea that
the government is taking over everything is kind of a mush ball of the auto
situation, the banks and Recovery Act. And as the president said, a third
of that money went into tax cuts which these people ought to be supporting.
You know, this is a very effective caricature. It‘s been spread, as
you know, through the right wing echo chamber. I don‘t know that this has
anything to do with what this administration is doing, because these folks,
in particular—and according to “the New York Times,” it‘s 18 percent of
the population. So let‘s not exaggerate how many people. These people are
hardcore. They‘re not listening to what‘s really coming out of the
responsible news media.
MATTHEWS: I think they‘re going to be eating the tank when the
Republicans bring out the vote in November. I think they will be a lot to
do with the get out the vote effort, this Tea Party crowd. My thoughts.
Your last thought, quickly.
MARTIN: It‘s going to be key to the GOP. Don‘t forget, though, a lot
of Americans in this country are not following this at all. New numbers
from Pew today, 30 percent of those surveyed hadn‘t even heard of Tea
Parties. So let‘s not make it more than what it actually is.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what, they are probably the people that
aren‘t going to matter this November. But the people that do vote this
November are going to know about it, because they‘ll know about it because
of “Politico,” which I get at home. I love that paper. Thank you, Richard
Wolffe. Thank you, Jonathan Martin.
Up next, Florida Governor Charlie Crist told the Associate Press he‘s
thinking about getting out of the Republican race and running as an
independent where he has a better chance.
During this commercial break, the jockeying is already under way by
Senate Democrats now to replace Harry Reid as majority leader should he
lose this November. We have that for you in a couple seconds. This is
HARDBALL. We‘re going to it to you during the break. Here it is on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. The Associated Press reports tonight that
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he is considering running for Senate
down in Florida as an independent candidate. The AP says that Crist said
he wanted to listen to Florida residents so he makes this very careful and
thoughtful decision. Pollster.com now paints a really bad picture painted
for Crist‘s chances if he stays as a Republican in this primary against
Marco Rubio. Look, at that, he‘s going to lose there.
The Washington bureau chief for “USA TODAY” is Susan Page. She joins
us, as does David Corn, who is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones,”
and a columnist for PoliticsDailyi.com.
Let me go to Susan. It seems if you look at this poll out here, the
guy has to make the move. What do you think?
SUSAN PAGE, “THE USA TODAY”: He can‘t win as a Republican. He can be
a Republican or he can try to be a senator, but he‘s going to have to
choose between those two things. It certainly sounds from an interview he
had with the AP, also with a Tampa TV station this afternoon, that he‘s
going down that path of listening to voters who, he says, are telling him
he ought to run as an independent, which changes the shape of this race in
MATTHEWS: If you look at the Quinnipiac, latest poll, which we look
at all of the time—it‘s a great poll—it shows him barely winning the
race if he runs as an independent. You can see he‘s at 32, Marco Rubio at
30, the Democrat, Kendrick Meek, at just 24.
I‘m going rain on his parade a bit, even though I have nothing against
Charlie. David Corn, I‘m going to ask you, once the Democratic voters in
Florida, who may not be in love with Meek, see that he‘s going to unite
with the Republicans and caucus with them—because you have to caucus
with one party or the other and you don‘t get a committee assignment—he
will lose. The Democrats will stick with the Democrats and most
Republicans will go with Rubio. How does he win in that situation, once
they know he‘s going to be a Republican when he gets there?
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”: I spoke to some Democrats today. They‘re
pretty happy about this news. Up until now, they didn‘t think Kendrick
Meek had much of a chance against Crist and not much even against Marco
Rubio, maybe more of one. If it‘s a three-way race, you‘re right, it
becomes like New York 23. Remember how we obsessed about that race last
fall, in which you had a Tea Party candidate, conservative Republican,
mainline moderate Republican and the Democrat won what was a Republican
So, you‘re right, Charlie Crist does not only have to run as an
independent but he will have to declare who he‘s going to caucus with.
Maybe he‘ll try to thread that needle. Maybe he‘ll want to caucus with the
Democrats, which will really turn things upside down. That‘s the second
decision he has to make after the first decision that Susan outlined
MATTHEWS: What is this you guys today? Jonathan Martin comes on and
says only 30 percent of the people are paying attention. And you‘re
talking about how we obsess. This is the place for obsession. This is the
ESPN of politics here. If you don‘t get obsessed, Corn, I‘m going to find
somebody else to come in here. I‘m obsessed. I want to know whether the
Democrats can win in Florida or not.
Susan, you‘re obsessed. Let‘s figure this out. Is it possible this
could just upset everything? Everybody says a Democrat can‘t win in a
conservative state like Florida. If the Republicans split 50/50, their
vote, because Charlie Crist appeals to the more independent-minded
Republican, and doesn‘t appeal to the right wing, and maybe the Cuban-
Americans turn off some people, turn some on -- Who knows what the
politics are of the panhandle, for example. It could get very complicated
CORN: It could. I would disagree with my good friend David Corn. I
think Kendrick Meek is a pretty weak statewide candidate. He represents a
district in Miami. He‘s not well known in some other parts of the state.
He‘s an African-American. We know it‘s hard, although not impossible, for
African-Americans to win statewide.
We know that Charlie Crist has some appeal to Democrats. He issued a
veto of an education bill that was—that really endeared him to the
teachers union. I think that was the first big signal that he was not
going to continue to run as a Republican, when we saw that veto. I do not
think this is a ticket for Kendrick Meek. I think we‘re liking looking
MATTHEWS: This is so interesting. Do you think he got in bed with
the Florida Education Association? David, do you agree with Susan, that
that move toward the unions after being sort of a Republican, the classic
mainstream Republican, and not being especially pro union when it comes to
things like merit pay and things like that—do you think the fact that he
got in bed with the unions and opposed merit pay and supported tenure and
did all the things Democrat labor people like, he‘s shown his stripes
really for the general?
CORN: Well, he wasn‘t playing to the Tea Party Republican hardcore.
That‘s for sure. Susan, I just meant that Kendrick Meek had more of a
chance, didn‘t say he was a likely winner, with Crist in the race. It
gives the Democrats at least a ray of hope, which they didn‘t have
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Susan—you write nationally. I want to
hear your thoughts on this. Has the purge—is the purge in the
Republican party, not just of RINOs like Arlen Specter—or if there still
was a John Lindsay or a Jack Javis, they would get rid of them in three
seconds. But the fact that it‘s going all the way over to Charlie Crist in
the middle, then all the way over to the right to get John McCain and Bob
Bennett; is this surge going to continue from now through the end of the
year, wiping out Republicans who aren‘t movement conservatives?
PAGE: It‘s certainly imperiling them. Is the Republican party going
to refuse to renominate the man who was nominated as presidential candidate
in 2008? That is entirely possible in Arizona. We‘re seeing the energy in
that party really being on the right side, with the Tea Party activists and
people like that. That is bad news for people who have been in office for
a long time. It‘s not just whether they‘re moderates, because John McCain
is not really a moderate. He‘s a conservative. There‘s a real reaction
again people who have been in office for a long time. That‘s one of
Charlie Crist‘s problems in Florida, and John McCain‘s in Arizona.
CORN: It‘s not just Tea Parties. There really are Mad Hatters out
there who are going full force against Republican, establishment
Republicans, who are running like rabbits. They‘re running scared now.
MATTHEWS: A Mad Hatter Tea Party with Rabbits invited. Thank you,
Susan Page. Thank you, David Corn. I love arguing with you about things
like, are you obsessed enough?
When we return, after those gun rally people—are they really afraid
of losing their freedom? Or is this just something they say, like in the
Middle East when they talk over the top?
A programming note. “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American
Terrorist” with Rachel Maddow premieres tonight at 9:00. What a show
that‘s going to be. Tonight here at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Lets me finish tonight with a CNN poll that has to make you
wonder. It has to do with those people in Virginia today showing off their
guns. The poll finds that 70 percent of Republicans in this country
believe their rights and freedoms are under imminent threat.
OK, let‘s put that to the test. If a month from now, or a year from
now, or a decade from now, you folks who worry that your basic rights are
in jeopardy of being taken away and they‘re are not taken away, will you
stop thinking they‘re in danger of being taken away?
In other words, do you really believe your freedom as an American, to
work with you can work and find it, to live where you want to live, to
practice your religion, to speak your mind, to get together with people you
want to, to travel in the world when and where you want to and afford to—
if those rights are not taken away in some reasonable time period, will you
stay say your rights are in jeopardy of being taken away?
In other words, this whole statement of yours, that your basic
American rights are about to vanish under the boot of a tyrannical
government, really just posture on your part? In other words, is it
something you say because you really want to say, OK, I don‘t like Obama?
I don‘t like Democrats? I don‘t like the way the last election went, even
if I thought Bush wasn‘t worth much?
In other words, is all this talk about the need to carry a gun in
order to fight the oncoming federal troops just that, words? Just the
posturing of a frustrated, angry citizen.
I got an idea, before people blast the media for not telling the
truth, think about doing it yourself. Your rights are not in imminent
danger of being taken away. Oh, yeah, too many of us have started talking
like those over the top people in the Middle East who make outlandish
statements, share in outlandish rumors, and use their minds and mouths, not
to think or explain, but just to take one more whack at people they don‘t
Anyway, that‘s HARDBALL for now. Thank thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for THE ED SHOW with ed Schultz.
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