Guest: George Pataki, Chuck Devore, Gov. Ed Rendell, Rep. Joe Sestak, Joan Walsh, Chuck Devore, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Flirting with disaster.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off
tonight: The blame Obama game. Do Republicans actually root for bad news
these days? Are they hoping for oil spills and bombing attempts so they
can blame President Obama? Former New York governor George Pataki joins me
tonight. I‘ll ask him if he‘ll separate himself from the dittoheads.
Also, watching the elephants. The Republican purge is surging—
Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and even Sarah Palin‘s
taking some heat. Tomorrow Utah‘s Bob Bennett could hit the dirt. Does
the GOP want to hurt the party to save itself?
The biggest primary in the country right now is in Pennsylvania, where
the Democratic establishment fears a surging upstart, Joe Sestak, will take
down career Republican Arlen Specter. Sestak is with us tonight, along
with Specter supporter Governor Ed Rendell.
Plus, the Dick Cheney secret energy task force loosened safety
regulations as a favor to the oil ministry? We‘ll ask Robert F. Kennedy,
Jr., who‘s looking into the gulf oil spill.
And “Let Me Finish” by saying good-bye to one of my Philly heroes,
We start with the “blame Obama first” crowd. George Pataki is the
former New York governor. Governor Pataki, thank you for joining us. Let
me play for you your remarks about the president and the apprehension of
that suspected bomber in New York and what you thought of how it was done
or wasn‘t done right. Here you are earlier this week. Let‘s listen and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE PATAKI ®, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: This is another case
where this administration—we are responding after something is
attempted. We saw it with the Christmas Day airplane bomber. We saw it in
Times Square. We were lucky in both cases. And then we saw it in Ft.
Hood, where we were not so lucky and 13 of our great young heroes who put
their lives on the line to defend us were murdered. And I think this
administration just has got to change its approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So governor, the Obama administration, the New York Police
Department, nobody deserves any credit for catching the bad guy...
PATAKI: Oh, sure.
MATTHEWS: ... within 53 hours of the crime.
PATAKI: Chris, absolutely. They deserve a lot of credit—the
citizens, the street vendors, the NYPD, the NY Fire Department and the
Obama administration—for catching them so quickly. I give them kudos
But the point is that we‘re talking about the response, and what
government needs to do more of is prevent these terrorists from getting so
close in the first place. And we‘ve just seen time and again, as we did,
as I mentioned in that clip, with the Christmas Day bomber—he was on the
no-fly list. For some reason, it wasn‘t appropriately enforced. He got on
And by the way, when finally because a citizen stopped him, we gave
him Miranda warnings, and told him he has the right to remain silent, when
this is not a citizen, it‘s clearly a terrorist trying to kill innocent
American civilians. And we don‘t know what intelligence we may have been
able to garner from him but because of this administration‘s policy, in
that instance, we did not get.
MATTHEWS: I mean, you‘re going after this guy on every point. You‘re
playing a full-court press here. You‘re nailing him for not nailing that
guy from Nigeria? Who on God‘s earth knew that the guy coming from Nigeria
was the president‘s fault?
MATTHEWS: And here you want to get the guy...
PATAKI: ... one second, Chris. Do you think that non-citizen
terrorists like the Christmas Day bomber, should be read their Miranda
warnings and told they have the right to remain silent? Is that an unfair
criticism? Because I don‘t think they should.
MATTHEWS: No, I know it‘s a fair criticism.
MATTHEWS: ... this is America, after all.
PATAKI: But Chris, let me ask you another one. To this day, the
administration is stonewalling Senator Lieberman in his desire to find out
what we knew about the Ft. Hood shooter before that tragedy occurred.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. OK.
PATAKI: And they won‘t give him the information. Is that correct?
MATTHEWS: OK, I get the message here. Let‘s look at Rush Limbaugh...
PATAKI: All right.
MATTHEWS: ... because he‘s tougher than you are. This is just in the
last 10 days we‘re hearing this heat from the right. Your crowd won‘t give
President Obama a break. Let‘s listen. He catches the bad guys. No good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Of course, who is dividing
America? It‘s Obama. He looks at people of color as the genuine owners of
the world‘s wealth who have been shut out of it. Guess what? Faisal
Shahzad is a registered Democrat. I wonder if his SUV had an Obama sticker
This is an administration that is not of this country. Obama knows
who his real enemies are, and there are many more of them in Arizona than
there are, apparently, in Iran.
My friends, this regime in its day-to-day actions is far more Nazi-
like than any identification law...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, Governor, I‘ve always respected you as a sort of
a common-sense guy, somewhere in the middle, somewhere toward the right,
depending on what‘s going on. And yet I can‘t find any Republican—
center, center right or right—who will take on this guy, Limbaugh, this
tub of whatever. He says this guy‘s dividing America. He says that blacks
are out there to take back what they rightfully own in this country and
he‘s on their side. He says this bomber that we‘ve been talking about the
last five minutes is a registered Democrat. He says that the president is
not of this country. He says he‘s got enemies all over the country and
Will you distinguish yourself on at least one of these points from
PATAKI: Of course.
MATTHEWS: Where? Just name one time you...
PATAKI: Of course, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Because you‘ll be the first Republican on this show...
PATAKI: Sure. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: ... to say you don‘t agree with—where are you not a
PATAKI: I‘ll start at the end, with the last one. I do not think
this regime in any way resembles Nazism. I disagree with him on...
MATTHEWS: It‘s a regime?
PATAKI: This government.
MATTHEWS: OK. Sorry...
MATTHEWS: You‘re falling into the trap of these whackjobs.
PATAKI: ... but this government...
MATTHEWS: No, I know, but that‘s what...
PATAKI: OK, this administration, does not, in my mind, resemble in
any way a Nazi government. This administration has put in policies I
fundamentally disagree with, but that‘s part of the democratic system.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that Faisal Shahzad is a registered
PATAKI: Well, that‘s—that‘s...
MATTHEWS: Where does your side get this nonsense?
PATAKI: You know...
PATAKI: Chris, Chris, Chris, that...
MATTHEWS: He‘s not!
PATAKI: Chris, I don‘t know. He‘s a citizen. And whether or not he
is, is a matter of public record.
MATTHEWS: He‘s not!
PATAKI: To me, it doesn‘t matter. He‘s clearly a captured terrorist
and should be treated as such.
MATTHEWS: Right. Does it matter that you‘ve got someone on your side
of the political world that is out there accusing the bomber of being a
Democrat, like he‘s on assignment from the Democratic Central Committee?
PATAKI: You know—you know, Chris...
MATTHEWS: I mean, this kind of talk is so alien to America!
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
PATAKI: Well, it‘s not really. All you have to do is watch some of
your colleagues on MSNBC and you see the same type of talk from the other
side. It is political rhetoric by people in the media. When it comes from
people in public office, I think it is reprehensible. And you should try
to have an intelligent dialogue, and I do.
PATAKI: I fundamentally disagree with this president‘s policies on
terrorism, from telling terrorists they can remain silent after they‘ve
almost committed an act to trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower
PATAKI: ... in a civilian court. I think that is a really dumb
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take your—let‘s go to leaders of your party.
You‘re still a Republican. You‘re a registered Republican, sir. You may
still have a political future with your party if it gets power back. Let‘s
watch what your party, by your rules, not media people—here‘s elected
Republican leaders of your party, Mike Pence, John Boehner, Michael Steele.
Here they go. Let‘s watch them in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: The American people deserve to know why
the administration was slow to respond and why the necessary equipment was
not immediately available in the region.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Yes, we‘ve been lucky, but
luck is not an effective strategy for fighting the terrorist threat.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Jobs are not being created in this
economy the way they should. There are a lot of people have given up on
the one thing that this administration has been selling from the very
beginning, and that‘s hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, your crowd won‘t give him a break. He created almost
300,000 -- the American economy did—let‘s get that straight—created
almost 300,000 new jobs, the highest production of jobs in four years...
MATTHEWS: ... in addition to the Census jobs.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: No credit.
PATAKI: Unemployment today went up to 9.9 percent.
PATAKI: When the stimulus was under consideration, the president
said, Pass it and unemployment will not go above 8 percent. He has
borrowed trillions of dollars at a time—and raised taxes on the private
sector, particularly small businesses. And where does job growth come
from? It comes from small businesses.
And yes, we had job creation, but we also had higher unemployment.
The job—we are in the midst of what I hope is a solid economic recovery,
but we‘re not seeing jobs.
MATTHEWS: You know...
PATAKI: And it‘s because jobs don‘t come from government spending and
raising taxes. They come from small businesses and private-sector
investment and risk-taking.
MATTHEWS: Right. You know, this president came in inheriting an
economic pooh (ph) storm. He elected—he basically came in facing what
could have been a second Depression.
PATAKI: Yes, he did.
MATTHEWS: He used Keynesian economics to address it. He did strong
steps to address it. You disagree with those strong steps, is that right?
PATAKI: Yes, I do. I certainly don‘t think...
MATTHEWS: Which one do you—which one was bad?
PATAKI: All right, the stimulus, the $787 billion of government
spending, many on programs which simply increased government costs...
PATAKI: ... instead of incentivizing the private sector, focusing on
a health care bill that the American people didn‘t want, including almost a
trillion dollars in higher taxes as part of that health care bill and
penalties on employers, instead of focusing on jobs, having a budget this
year with a $1.6 trillion projected deficit not counting health care, not
counting things like Freddie Mae (SIC) and Fannie Mac (SIC) at a time when
we‘re looking at a global economic risk because of the massive amount of
debt that government has put in place.
Yes, he had a mess when he took office. But I don‘t think the focus
on jobs, the focus on...
PATAKI: ... incentivizing small businesses has been there at all. In
fact, it‘s been the opposite.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know, he came in in February, basically, of last
year. He came in—the 20th of January, he got into office. He probably
didn‘t even move into the office hardly until late January. It‘s now we‘re
getting the April job reports of a year or so later.
You‘re giving him a whole lot of time here, aren‘t you, about a year,
to turn around what is the worst case of any politician who‘s ever come
into office. He came in facing TARP, which was already there, bail-outs of
the banks, which was already there, efforts by Paulson and all those guys -
Paulson—it was already—all the worst stuff you guys hate was
basically all going on.
And then you say he hasn‘t been fast enough of cleaning up the crap
pile that he inherited. I think you‘re being pretty tough on this guy.
PATAKI: Well, Chris, I...
MATTHEWS: I think your whole party blaming him from right to left—
I mean, Boehner says it was his fault that there‘s some kind of an oil
spill, even though—we‘re going to get into it in the show tonight—the
failure to regulate the pipeline industry, the failure to regulate offshore
drilling with any kind of adequacy was not his fault.
PATAKI: Chris, what...
MATTHEWS: Was it?
PATAKI: Chris, what you‘re basically saying is that when you have a
fundamental disagreement with the policies of this administration and feel
that they have not helped to create jobs and get the economy growing, that
somehow, it‘s unfair political criticism. I don‘t think so.
I don‘t think there are a whole lot of people who think that imposing
a trillion dollars of new taxes for a health care bill at a time when we
desperately need job creation is the right thing to do. I don‘t think
there are a whole lot of people who—who in retrospect—and I at the
time—think that $787 billion in so-called stimulus...
PATAKI: ... spending is the right way to create jobs. It hasn‘t.
Yes, the president inherited a mess. I do believe—and I‘m trying to be
sincere and not political here—that his policies have compounded the
problem and not been in any way helpful towards solving the problem.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, the other point of view, of course, Governor,
is that for, well, a century we‘ve waited for health care, ever since the
days of Teddy Roosevelt, when he first promised it. And nobody did
anything about the 30 million to 40 million people that kept growing who
didn‘t get any health care in this country. And this president has tried
to deliver it. Nobody else was trying to deliver it.
Whatever you say about this president, he inherited all the trouble
and the failure to act on that American agenda, which was health care.
Now, how he did it is a subject of political debate. But it just seems to
me I‘m getting from the right here day after day after day, from Boehner,
from the rest of them, from Eric Cantor, from all of them, Mike Pence,
negative, negative, negative. It‘s like your side is rooting for him to
PATAKI: No, Chris, you know, we‘re Americans, and we want our country
to succeed. And the president, whether we agree with his policies or not,
is our president...
PATAKI: ... all of us, and we want him to succeed.
PATAKI: But we think we can help him to succeed by criticizing his
PATAKI: ... when they are wrong and supporting them when we believe
they are right.
MATTHEWS: OK, just to get a couple things straight. I think you‘ve
made history tonight, to your favor. It‘s a good Friday night for your own
sake, here, Governor. And I‘ve always liked you. You‘ve said some things
tonight that (INAUDIBLE) You‘ve said that Rush Limbaugh is wrong, that
Barack Obama is not a Nazi, right? He‘s not a Nazi, we agree?
PATAKI: He is not. Yes.
MATTHEWS: And this administration was duly elected, it‘s not a
MATTHEWS: OK, so...
PATAKI: Of course.
MATTHEWS: ... you disagree with him...
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s amazing because you‘re not a dittohead. You know
how hard it is to find a Republican who‘s not a dittohead? I can‘t find a
Republican member of the Congress—and by the way, if there are any out
there, please call HARDBALL on MSNBC and let us know you‘re a Republican
elected official now in office and are willing to take on that large man on
Anyway, Governor, you did it tonight. I award you the HARDBALL award
tonight. You‘re not a dittohead.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir.
PATAKI: ... thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: George Pataki. And that‘s an honor on this show, at least.
You‘re going to take some heat from Rushbo on this on Monday.
PATAKI: I don‘t think that...
MATTHEWS: Coming up: The Republican purge is surging. First it was
Arlen Specter, then Charlie Crist, then Utah senator Robert Bennett could
go down tomorrow, and now even Sarah Palin is taking some heat.
And in one minute, during the break, some real facts about how the
economy has created jobs under Obama.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, on only MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The news today that the economy added 290,000 new jobs last
month was good news for the Obama administration and for the country. And
so is this, a chart of job losses and job gains for every month since
December 2007. Look how the losses got worse during the final months of
the Bush administration, peaked, those losses did, in January of 2009, when
President Obama took office, and have steadily improved ever since.
This economy is getting better under this administration—real
numbers, real facts to counter the spin coming from some on the right who
say the president‘s plans aren‘t working.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Sarah Palin is taking some heat
for throwing her weight behind Carly Fiorina and passing over tea party
favorite Chuck Devore in California‘s big Republican fight for the Senate
Here‘s what Palin wrote on her FaceBook page to clarify her choice.
Quote, “Carly has been endorsed by the National Right to Life, the
California Pro-Life Council and by the Susan B. Anthony List. She‘s pro-
life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-military and pro-strict border security
and against amnesty. She‘s against Obama-care and will vote to repeal it.
And most importantly, Carly is the only conservative in the race who can
beat Barbara Boxer. That‘s no RINO, that‘s a winner.”
Well, Chuck Devore, as I just mentioned, is one of the Senate
candidates running against Carly Fiorina in the California Republican
primary. What a great honor to have you on, sir. You were passed over...
CHUCK DEVORE ®, CALIFORNIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes, I was.
MATTHEWS: ... by the governor of Alaska. Now, wouldn‘t you want—
why is there this tempest in this tea party? What‘s going on here? Why is
she dividing the troops, all of a sudden? She was the leader for a while.
DEVORE: Well, one thing we learned yesterday when we saw Governor
Palin endorse Ms. Fiorina is that I have the heart and soul of the
conservative movement and Carly Fiorina has Governor Palin.
MATTHEWS: Well (INAUDIBLE) if you have the heart and soul, why don‘t
you have the leader?
DEVORE: Well, you know, it‘s—I think it‘s very difficult to
characterize who is the leader of what is essentially a decentralized
movement that cares very deeply about our Constitution and about all this
debt we‘re heaping on our children. There is no self-appointed leaders of
the tea party movement. It‘s broad. It‘s varied. It‘s vast. And it‘s
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this. One of the issues I‘ve
been watching, as anybody who watches politics is concerned about, is—
I‘m kind of stunned. This is not the only issue out there. Are you pro-
DEVORE: Yes, sir.
MATTHEWS: Is Carly Fiorina pro-life, like you are?
DEVORE: Well, she says she is. She‘s a fairly recent convert to the
MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no. No, I don‘t know—I don‘t care what you
what you say she says. I‘m asking you. Is she like you?
DEVORE: The difference is the track record. I have a track record
and she doesn‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK. Again, I‘ll try the question by you. This is sort of
an interesting show, where we ask a question...
DEVORE: Yes. No. Of course.
MATTHEWS: ... and somebody has to answer it. Is Carly Fiorina pro-
life or not?
DEVORE: Again, she says she is.
MATTHEWS: No, you‘re not answering—no, why...
DEVORE: I have the book (ph) to prove it. There‘s a difference.
MATTHEWS: Well, why don‘t you give me the difference between the BS
we get on this show sometimes...
DEVORE: No, no!
MATTHEWS: ... and a truth-teller? Is your opponent—because this
is a big fight out there. I want you to explain your position.
DEVORE: Chris—Chris, we don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: You‘re pro-life. Is your opponent? You don‘t know?
DEVORE: We don‘t know. She‘s never had to vote on any of the issues.
I‘m a proven leader. She‘s an unknown quantity. It‘s as simple as that.
MATTHEWS: Is her lack of stature as a pro-lifer going to be an issue
in your primary fight? Your skepticism, which you‘ve just voiced about her
position—will you make it an issue?
DEVORE: Well, she herself made it an issue last week. She told “The
San Francisco Chronicle” editorial board that Roe v. Wade was settled law
and that we shouldn‘t be talking about this issue. So you know, to a
certain degree, she has made it an issue on her own. And we have...
MATTHEWS: What are you, a press secretary? I thought you were
running against her. What is her position, sir, on life, which I know is
important to you? Do you trust—let me phrase it this way. Do you trust
her as pro-life? Will she fight Roe v. Wade...
DEVORE: I believe that she‘s had...
MATTHEWS: ... if she gets into the Senate?
DEVORE: I believe she‘s had a battlefield conversion because she
wants to win a primary.
MATTHEWS: OK, so you think it‘s cynical and not to be trusted.
DEVORE: I think it‘s political. It‘s a political calculation.
DEVORE: That‘s how you win primaries in California.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about the tea party. What is the most
important issue to tea party people these days? Why should you be the
candidate to run against Barbara Boxer out there. It‘s going to be a tough
race. Boxer‘s won a whole bunch of races out there.
DEVORE: Oh, yes, she has. She‘s tough.
MATTHEWS: How are you going to—how are you going to beat her as a
tea partyist who‘s pro-life in a state that‘s only elected pro-choice
MATTHEWS: ... for years now?
DEVORE: Well, last...
MATTHEWS: I mean, years going back—going—I can‘t remember the
last pro-lifer to win in that state, can you?
DEVORE: It‘s been a while. That‘s for sure.
MATTHEWS: Can you remember the last one?
DEVORE: Oh, it‘d probably be S.I. Hayakawa, I‘d imagine.
MATTHEWS: OK. Great. OK.
DEVORE: Quite a while ago.
MATTHEWS: The man—the man in the Tam O‘Shanter. I remember him
well. He beat John Tunney. Go ahead. That was a long time ago. That was
DEVORE: The two...
MATTHEWS: Long time ago.
DEVORE: The two things I consistently hear from the folks...
MATTHEWS: That‘s 36 years ago, sir.
DEVORE: Well, there are a number of other issues, as well. And of
course, what you‘re saying now counts both ways. In other words, if Carly
Fiorina is, in fact, pro-life, then this would presumably be a hindrance to
her as much as it is to me. But when you...
MATTHEWS: But maybe—maybe she‘ll be lucky and people don‘t believe
her any more than you do.
MATTHEWS: Maybe she‘ll win both ways. The pro-choicers will think
she‘s on their side because she‘s just doing lip service and she‘s really a
MATTHEWS: ... with her foreign (ph) -- she‘s a woman, perhaps. That
might be the issue. And you‘re out there saying you‘re a pro-lifer and
they really believe you, so they won‘t vote for you.
DEVORE: Yes. Well...
MATTHEWS: You could get hurt both ways here.
DEVORE: Going back to your question, What is it that the tea party
folks are really focused on?
MATTHEWS: Right. Good question.
DEVORE: Again, I hear...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
DEVORE: I hear the debt above all else. And one of the reasons why I
hear them as being more favorable toward me than toward Carly Fiorina is,
again, I have a record of fighting against higher taxes and for smaller
government, and that I‘ve actually put my reputation on the line. For
example, last year, California enacted the largest tax increase in U.S.
history at the state level.
DEVORE: I fought against that, and I resigned as chief Republican
whip in protest of that tax increase vote, and then I fought against the
ballot measure that would have extended that for two years on May 19th.
And we won almost 2-to-1. Now, of course, Carly Fiorina...
MATTHEWS: OK, you know what I...
DEVORE: ... was AWOL.
MATTHEWS: You know what I don‘t believe about tea party people? What
you believe. Ronald Reagan doubled the debt, the national debt. George W.
Bush doubled the national debt. And you guys didn‘t give a peep of
complaint. You loved those guys. You loved George W. You loved Ronald
Reagan. And they doubled the national debt, each in their own term and you
never raised hell about it.
Obama comes in, three minutes he‘s in, and you‘re attacking him as a
big spender when you haven‘t raised a sound beforehand. You‘re really not
to be believed on this, are you? What‘s your credibility in going after
Republicans who double the national debt?
DEVORE: I actually criticized President George W. Bush for increasing
government at a more rapid rate than any president since Lyndon Blaines
(SIC) Johnson. I was on the record. I criticized him. I criticized
Governor Schwarzenegger for doing the same in the state of California.
DEVORE: And so I‘ve got a bit of credibility on this issue. I stood
up to my own party leadership.
DEVORE: And I think that‘s what the tea party is focused on and one
of the reasons why this move by Carly Fiorina, this battlefield
DEVORE: ... to conservatism is not so believable because as chief
economic adviser to John McCain in 2008, she backed John McCain‘s cap-and-
trade lite. She only, up until last night at our debate, refused to take a
position on amnesty, and finally last night said she was opposed to
MATTHEWS: OK, got to go.
DEVORE: Good enough.
MATTHEWS: Chuck Devore, please come back. Please come back on the
show. We‘ll have more time next time.
DEVORE: Delighted to.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chuck Devore, running for the Senate in
Joan Walsh, this fight—the tea party‘s in a tempest right now. You
know, it looks to me like they‘re not agreeing—Sarah Palin was the
leader of the party about a minute ago. Now she‘s causing division.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Yes. Well, you know, she‘s done something
that I think is fairly pragmatic. Two things, Chris. Chuck Devore, with
all due respect, is not expected to win, and so she could only back so many
losers. And then, you know, there‘s a little bit of McCain loyalty.
Fiorina was a surrogate for John McCain, although she served him terribly.
The thing I remember about Fiorina was her saying that Sarah Palin
wasn‘t qualified to run a corporation, and then she had to take that back
and say, well, McCain wasn‘t. Anyway, but—so there‘s a little bit of
that. There‘s a little bit of—you know, if Palin wants to run for
president, and I think she does, you know, it‘s good to get in with
California Republicans and California money. Carly Fiorina...
WALSH: ... is much more tied into money. And that‘s what she‘s
about. Sarah Palin is about Sarah Palin, not the tea parties, and you
know, some of her followers are finding that out. She‘s getting shouted
down on her own FaceBook page, which until now has been a big clubhouse
for, you know, Sarah‘s friends.
WALSH: So it‘s a rough time.
MATTHEWS: You know more than I know about this, Joan. Why are they
all going to California? Mitt Romney‘s moved physically to California so
he can win the California delegation in the big fight, the primary out
there next time. She‘s out there basically staking a foothold with
Fiorina, hoping she can beat Boxer and be like Nixon was in ‘66 and say,
Look, I built this person.
MATTHEWS: I made this place. Why is California becoming the ground
zero of the fight between Palin and Mitt Romney for the nomination next
time? What‘s going on?
WALSH: Because there‘s a lot of delegates. It‘s a big—it‘s a big,
big state. And there‘s also—there‘s so much money here. People talk
about Hollywood money like it‘s Democratic money, but there‘s Hollywood
money for Republicans. There‘s development and investment bank money for
Republicans. So you know, people treat us like an ATM.
WALSH: And it‘s not terribly surprising. There‘s also a lot of
media. There are two, actually, exciting races here, with the governor‘s
seat being open, so...
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
WALSH: I think that‘s what it‘s about.
MATTHEWS: Who wins, by the way—one-word answer—Palin or Mitt
Romney, the nomination next time? Bet right now.
WALSH: I can‘t say neither? They‘re my only choices?
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, baby, you just said neither.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joan Walsh. I think it‘s your heart talking.
Anyway, up next, Steve Colbert tries to figure out the British
election. We‘re all trying to figure that one out! Stick around for the
“Sideshow.” I thought it was simple over there. It ain‘t.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.” Yesterday‘s
British elections resulted in a hung parliament, meaning no party has a
majority of seats. Last night, my good friend, “The Atlantic‘s” Andrew
Sullivan, tried to explain to Stephen Colbert how things are done across
the pond. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: The election only lasts about
a month there.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE ATLANTIC ONLINE: The formal.
COLBERT: The formal election only lasts about a month. In America,
it takes that long for someone to form an exploratory committee to find out
if they even want to run.
COLBERT: How do you really get a good leader that way?
SULLIVAN: Well, you also don‘t have any television ads, by the way.
SULLIVAN: You only have...
COLBERT: Then why do you raise hundreds of millions of dollars?
SULLIVAN: They don‘t.
COLBERT: Then how do you know who‘s supposed to win?
SULLIVAN: The queen will have to ask one of these leaders to form a
COLBERT: Wait a second. The queen still has a role in government?
COLBERT: I thought she was just a tourist trap.
SULLIVAN: The leader of the party that has the most seats has to go
to the queen and ask permission to form a government, or the queen invites
him. And that may be—that may be difficult because what if...
COLBERT: Ma‘am, may we form a government, please?
SULLIVAN: It‘s actually...
COLBERT: Please, please, mum!
SULLIVAN: It‘s mom. It‘s mom. Mom.
SULLIVAN: Mom. Mom.
COLBERT: Mom, we‘d really like to govern for a while.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK, it‘s mom, the queen. Up next: Did Dick Cheney‘s secret
energy task force loosen safety regulation to help out big oil? And did
that contribute to this massive spill down in the Gulf of Mexico? We‘re
going to talk to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who‘s trying to get the answers.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. A headline on page one of
today‘s “Wall Street Journal” says, in a nutshell, what may have led to oil
rig explosion down in the gulf. Quote, “Oil regulators ceded oversight to
the drillers.” Well, how did it come to pass? The answer may lie in the
oil industry-friendly Bush and Cheney years.
Michael Papantonio is a lawyer whose firm has filed a class action law
(SIC) in three states on behalf of shrimpers, fisheries, oystermen and
business owners. And Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is president of Waterkeeper
Alliance and a professor at Pace University. Together, they host a
syndicated radio show called “Ring of Fire” that airs Saturdays and
Gentlemen, I‘m looking at this piece that talks about the fact—and
Robert Kennedy first—it seems to me they‘re talking about here a culture
of ethical failures by these regulators, supposedly, at MMS at the Interior
Department having sex, taking gifts from industry representatives. It
sounds like they‘re literally in bed with those characters. Is that the
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., CHAIR, WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE: That was one of
the major problems. The agency during the Bush administration which is
responsible for promulgating regulations and for exercising oversight of
the industry really became just a sock puppet for the oil industry. They
almost completely ceased any kind of oversight, and they relied instead on
what they call the voluntary regimen so that the industry would regulate
And one of the outcomes of that we know was that the—that the Deep
Water Horizon, the drill rig on which this tragedy occurred, was not
equipped with a piece of equipment, which was an acoustical dead man‘s
switch, which BP—which is required in Europe. It‘s required in Brazil
and other nations. It‘s used almost universally by the oil industry all
over the world. But BP was not required to use it. Although BP uses these
on its own oil rigs in the North Sea, it was not required to use it in this
And that‘s—and the reason for that was because this agency, the
Minerals Management agency, really had simply lost—had a seamless
relationship with big oil.
MATTHEWS: You know, Michael, it seems to me—following up on Bob‘s
point there—it seems to me that there was a real sweetheart relationship
there, the gifts, the sexual favors, all kinds of stuff between the so-
called regulators—and you get the idea that Cheney and his company, his
characters around him in the energy task force that had those secret
meetings, basically sent down the cue, You guys just leave these guys
alone. We‘ll make a lot of money (INAUDIBLE) the oil industry. We‘ll have
a nice relationship. Don‘t regulate them too hard. Is that what happened,
MIKE PAPANTONIO, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILIES SUING BP: Yes. Chris, we‘re
going to have—yes. We‘re going to have an answer to this. The history
goes way back. Before Dick Cheney began using his limitless political
influence around the house of Halliburton—you got to understand this.
In 1992, they were very—almost an obscure company. All of a sudden,
they get a $3 billion contract from Cheney. And then Cheney—they‘re—
they‘re pleased, and then Cheney becomes the CEO of that company.
Then the next thing we know, Halliburton KBR, they‘re doing everything
besides what they—what they are is a cement (ph) company. They‘re
delivering mail to our troops. They‘re preparing, serving meals. They‘re
doing laundry and dry cleaning. They‘re having phone service.
This is pattern we‘ve seen with Cheney from the beginning. It‘s—
from the beginning. It‘s the same influence pattern that emerged after
Dick‘s closed-door meetings with the energy industry, where he had every
major driller in the world there, Chris. And what they said, I don‘t know
today, but I got to tell you, Bobby and I are going to find out because
what happened after that is overnight, he—overnight, Halliburton becomes
the darling of the petroleum industry.
PAPANTONIO: They‘re deregulated. The mineral management...
MATTHEWS: So you‘re basically...
MATTHEWS: So you‘re basically—you‘re saying that Dick Cheney, as
secretary of defense, fed these guys a fat contract. They rewarded him by
making him CEO when he left the government. Are you saying there‘s a
PAPANTONIO: I know there‘s a connection, Chris. Go ahead, Bob.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Bob?
KENNEDY: You know, I‘ll just tell you what they—what the
chronology was on the acoustical switch, which is really emblematic of the
entire relationship. In 2001, the Minerals Management Agency was in the
process of a rule-making that would have provided new safeguards for
offshore drilling. The rule-making, which we have copies of, says that an
acoustical switch is a, quote, essential component for all offshore drill
Dick Cheney then had his—he came in January of 2001. For the next
100 days, he met in secret with over 100 executives from the energy
industry, from the carbon industry, from coal and oil. We sued him to try
to get the minutes of those meetings, and Judge Scalia denied us at the
end, wrote an opinion denied, saying that he had executive privilege and
that he didn‘t have to share those.
But immediately after those meetings, the Minerals Management Agency,
which was now headed by—was staffed by Dick Cheney, with his cronies
from Wyoming, led by Johnny Burton, who was one of the—a bureaucrat from
Wyoming, who was a crony of Dick Cheney. Reversed the 2001 rule-making,
and in 2003 published a document saying, we‘re not going to require this
Now this is a component that was designed to shut on—to turn on the
blow-out prevention device. If the men on the rig could not reach the
button and try to throw the—manually activate the device. That‘s the
place where the fire started. And we don‘t know now whether they tried to
manually activate the device. But this switch was designed, if they were
unable to, to activate it automatically.
And that switch was never installed on the pipe. And it may or may
not have resulted in—in the tragedy of Deep-Water Horizon. But in 2005,
the energy bill was passed, which was a product of—
MATTHEWS: Bobby, we have to go—
KENNEDY: It was essentially a grab bag for the industry. The
industry made a wish list and that became our energy bill, and it got rid
of all the safeguards.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Well thank you for that. It looks like Cheney is
involved deep in this. It looks like that secret meeting at the White
House under the Cheney-Bush administration got a lot of bad stuff done.
I‘m watching you, Michael, to see if you take legal action. Michael
Papantonio and Robert Kennedy.
Up next, Pennsylvania‘s top Democrats say a Sestak win over Arlen
Specter would be cataclysmic. The latest polls show it could very well
happen. Joe Sestak joins us up next, as does Governor Ed Rendell, who
supports Arlen Specter.
But in one minute, Charlie Crist has the lead in Florida. Will he
hold it? New poll numbers in 60 seconds. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Good news and bad news for Charlie Cyst and his decision to
leave the Republican party and run for the Senate in Florida as an
independent. Check out the new Mason-Dixon poll. Crist is leading with 38
percent of the vote. Republican Marco Rubio has 32 percent. And
Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek is down at 19.
Here‘s the problem: Crist is drawing strong support among Democrats
and African-Americans, support that will likely erode, or could erode,
should Meek‘s candidacy gain steam. But we‘ll see. I still think Crist
could do it. We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back. Eleven days to go until the hottest primary in
the country is up in Pennsylvania. Will it be Arlen Specter, the senator,
the Democrat now, who was a Republican, against Joe Sestak, who is battling
him? Who is going to run against Toomey in the general? Pennsylvania
Governor Ed Rendell is a former DNC chair nationally. H e‘s backing
Specter all the way for re-election.
We‘re getting a lot of word out of Pennsylvania that your party
believes, governor, that if it is Sestak, he pulls an upset—he‘s running
even right now in the latest polls—that if he pulls an upset, you
believe—do you believe that he will lose the general?
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Do I believe—no, both Joe
Sestak and Arlen Specter have an uphill fight against Congressman Toomey.
I believe Arlen‘s a stronger candidate. But can Joe win? I think can he
win. But clearly Arlen, in all the polls, is a much stronger candidate in
the general election.
MATTHEWS: How do you square that with the fact that Senator Specter
left the Republican party because he couldn‘t beat Toomey in the primary.
And he said so.
RENDELL: Again, no question, he was very honest about it. I think it
was refreshing that he was so honest. I think he still runs very well with
independents, Chris, Senator Specter, and still has some Republican
support. There are some progressive Republicans around the Delaware Valley
who have been used to voting for Arlen, and they are not going to vote for
Pat Toomey, might vote for Pat Toomey against Joe Sestak. But they‘ve been
Arlen voters for a long time. I think not all of them, but a lot of them
are going to stay with him.
That‘s why he runs so much better in the general election polls than
MATTHEWS: You said it was refreshing that Senator Specter admitted
that he basically had to switch parties because the other party got too far
right on him. Let‘s take a listen to what Sestak is saying in this very
tough ad that‘s been put out by the campaign group. Here it is, Sestak‘s
latest TV ad against the senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I‘m Joe Sestak, the Democrat. I
authorized this message.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My change in party will enable
me to be re-elected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 45 years, Arlen Specter has been a Republican
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Arlen Specter is
the right man for the United States Senate. I can count on this man. See,
that‘s important. He‘s a firm ally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now—
SPECTER: My change in party will enable me to be re-elected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arlen specter switched parties to save one job—
his. Not yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That‘s a tough ad, isn‘t it?
RENDELL: It‘s—it‘s a tough ad. It‘s a good ad. It‘s my ad
agency, Chris. It‘s my ad agency.
MATTHEWS: I know, it‘s the Campaign Group. But they finally hit the
bulls eye, which is Arlen Specter spent 45 years running on the Republican
label and, all of a sudden, in his own interests, which he says, in my own
interests, I have to switch parties. How how does a regular bread and
butter Democrat, or even an intellectual suburban Democrat buy him?
RENDELL: Well, there‘s a very easy answer to Joe‘s ad. It‘s Barack
Obama, Joe Biden, Ed Rendell, Mike Nutter. All of us urged Arlen Specter
to switch parties. All of us asked him to become a Democrat, because we
believe he‘d been fighting for Democratic values all along. And, remember,
you haven‘t heard from President Obama yet. You haven‘t heard from Joe
Biden. You haven‘t heard from me. I just did some robo calls. Mike
Nutter has been pretty outspoken in the city.
I think you‘re going to see those people weigh in. Those are the—
again, no offense to Joe or Arlen. But those are the leading Democrats
when it comes to voters throughout the state, and particularly in the vote-
MATTHEWS: What is Arlen Specter? All those years, 45 years, he ran
as a Republican. Inside he was a republican. He wasn‘t just voting
Republican. He was rooting for the Republicans to win. We have lots of
ads and tapes showing him rooting for George Bush, rooting for his father,
rooting for Reagan, rooting for Nixon, always voting for Republican, always
urging Republicans to win, I assume in his soul rooting for them.
What changed in Arlen Specter? Why did he stop rooting for
Republicans inside his heart? Why is he a Democrat at the age of 80?
RENDELL: I don‘t think it‘s so important, Chris, who he was rooting
for. I think it‘s more important what he was voting for. And he was
voting for our values all along. He protected the Community Development
Block Grant Program when Republicans tried to cut it. He protected housing
funds when Republicans tried to cut it.
He did things—he voted for the minimum wage when Republicans were
against it. He‘s been there on the core Democratic values, and that‘s
what‘s important to me, not who he rooted for. By the way, as you know,
Chris, he was a Democrat in 1965. He only became a Republican because the
Democratic party was a pretty closed shop then and all young, new
candidates, if they wanted to go anywhere, had to become a Republican. So
he‘s really returned to his Democratic roots.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know. He went because Billy Meehan offered him
a slot against Crumlish (ph). I know. I think it‘s great. I‘m totally
for opportunism. It‘s fine to be an opportunist. The question is the
voters. I‘m shocked, aren‘t you, that Sestak took this hard hit on the
fact that he was relieved of duty as a three star admiral? And Specter hit
him hard on that and the ad was really tough.
Yet, since that very tough ad, which I think is credible—we‘re
going to have Joe Sestak on in a minute—he‘s done well. He‘s coming up
in the polls. How do you explain it?
RENDELL: Well, first of all, he‘s spending a lot of money, which is
his right to do so. He raised a lot of money. Two, he has a good ad
agency. Three, Joe has a good story to tell. But the “Enquirer” today—
yesterday said Joe should release his records on that, because he responded
by calling Arlen a liar. I think Joe owes it to the public to release
MATTHEWS: You have raised the issue, governor. Thank you. We‘re
going to go right now to Joe Sestak. He‘s on the phone. Congressman, will
you release your records, as the governor has just asked you, Navy records
that talk about the way in which you left the United States Navy?
SESTAK: Absolutely not. Look, I spent 31 years in the United States
Navy. I was proud of every single moment. When I was on the ground in
Afghanistan as head of the anti-terrorism unit—to have a 30-year career
politician in Washington, D.C.—and as much as I love Ed—and we‘re
going to have a Rendell sandwich together—because remember when he upset
Bob Casey and run against the establishment. Everybody told him, sit down.
We‘re going to—look, I think no career politicians tell any vet—
MATTHEWS: If you‘re proud of your record --
SESTAK: Actually say a lie, because it was a lie about what he said.
Look, what I want to talk about is the issues.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a lie that you were relieved of duty? Why don‘t you
release your records and show that it was a lie?
SESTAK: Why? Because Arlen Specter can‘t run on the Republican
agenda, where he voted for the war in Iraq, and I opposed it, for tax
policies that destroyed us. He just wants to divert attention from his
record? No. Then he‘ll say something else.
Enough‘s enough. Barack Obama as well. I‘m running to end Swift
Boating. And we‘re not going to put up with it.
MATTHEWS: You know, John Kerry lost because he didn‘t defend himself
against the Swift Boating, but he didn‘t release his Naval records. Why
don‘t you and beat this charge against you by Arlen Specter? If it‘s a
lie, prove it with your records. Why not?
SESTAK: Because no veteran has to listen to someone in Harrisburg or
someone way down in Washington, D.C. Enough‘s enough. Look, Joe Biden
even said he supported Rick. You know, I‘d love to see the governor and
other people defend us. We don‘t need them to. I think for veterans, we
should say enough‘s enough.
More than that, the other negative attack ads he‘s up there—we went
out with a very positive ad for a couple weeks. We said who we were, what
we believed in. (INAUDIBLE) Yet, the only thing after 30 years Arlen
Specter can talk about is how he nominated—how he actually voted for me
to be a three-star admiral, and then, because as a head—operations said
I was courageous in changing the Navy. Then—
MATTHEWS: Congressman, please come on. Congressman, we want you on
live next time, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, any day. Come on the show. We
want you. Congressman Joe Sestak, running for the Senate. You‘re always
welcome on the show.
When we return, I‘ll have some thoughts about one of my Philadelphia
heroes on that topic, the great Robin Roberts. You‘re watching HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with another Philadelphia story.
Robin Roberts died yesterday. We all have our sports heroes growing up.
He was mine. He was number one with me, the top pitcher for the home team,
the guy who could win 28 games and lose just seven, with a team that had a
record nothing like that.
Six years in a row, Roberts won 20 games a season. He did it the hard
way, winning two to one, losing two to one. I think most of his games were
like that. He was out there all alone getting the other side out, inning
after inning, after a bad first or second inning, only to have his team
never, almost never get out there and deliver for him.
Life can be like that. Maybe that‘s why a tough, gritty blue-collar
city like Philly respected Roberts so much. Robin Roberts, his number 36,
long retired, will hang in the locker room the rest of this season. He
made it to the Hall of Fame, obviously. Before my time, Robin Roberts was
the ace on the famous Wiz Kids who won the National League pennant back in
1950. He had his best stuff and one of his great fast balls of all time
when he was young in the early 20s.
But there was something about him that stayed great, stayed with us
all those decades since, those young kids, those Whiz Kids from nowhere
went to the Series back then. Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn (ph), Dell
Ennis and Willie Pudding Head Jones.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Remember,
Sunday‘s Mother‘s Day. So make sure you send her a card, pick up some
flowers or take the lady to dinner. 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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