Guests: Mark Halperin, Rep. Joe Sestak, Abrahm Lustgarten, Kate Sheppard, Eric Burns, Steve Kornacki
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Taking on the establishment.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Countdown to super Tuesday. A big day for
politics, tomorrow is a great day to watch the rebellion left and right.
Voters in four states go to the polls tomorrow, and by tomorrow night,
we may know a lot more about how anti-incumbent voters really are.
HARDBALL will be in Philadelphia tomorrow night for live broadcasts at
5:00, 7:00, and at midnight Eastern, where we will have a ringside seat
for the best race of all, the Democratic Senate primary between Arlen
Specter, the incumbent, and Joe Sestak, the challenger. That
Pennsylvania race is neck and neck. The polls are dead even. And Joe
Sestak joins us tonight from the campaign trail, where he‘s making an
eleventh-hour pitch to voters.
Also, the gulf oil spill. BP, Transocean and Halliburton are all
pointing fingers at each other now, but where was the government? Are
we seeing the results of a cozy relationship between energy companies
and the energy agencies that are supposed to be watching over them?
And on this fifth anniversary of YouTube, we‘ll show you some of
the great political YouTube moments that helped end some political
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with a question. You say you want a
revolution? Well, we don‘t know if it‘s going to be all right, at least
not for some big-name incumbents.
We start with tomorrow‘s big political day. NBC‘s political
director, Chuck Todd—he‘s also our chief White House correspondent,
and there he is at the White House—and Mark Halperin, a senior
political analyst for “Time.”
Gentlemen, I want you to look at the latest polls out of
Pennsylvania. Let‘s start with that. Five-term Republican incumbent
turned Democrat Arlen Specter faces two-term House member Joe Sestak.
There the are in the pictures. Pollsters trendline gives Sestak the
edge. Muhlenberg‘s tracking poll has them tied. Quinnipiac‘s latest
poll out today gives Sestak a 1-point edge.
What do you make of that? It seems to me—let me give you my
thoughts. It looks like an air game versus a ground game. In the air,
you got Sestak with a dynamite ad trouncing Specter, saying he looks
like just a complete political sleazebag, and then you‘ve got a
fantastic—potentially fantastic ground game with lots of street money
in big cities like Philly. Who wins this thing, Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Well,
I‘ll tell you this. I‘m focused on this double-digit undecided number
in multiple polls that I know about going into this final 24-hour period
before we go because that tells you I think you have an electorate
that‘s not going to turn out. It‘s going to be a low turnout. So what
does that mean?
You have Specter, needs a high turnout among African-American
voters in Philadelphia. He‘s doing well with African-American voters,
but there‘s not a lot of evidence that the turnout‘s going to be very
high. Can he win a low-turnout primary, where hard-core Pennsylvania
Democrats, who probably have never polled the lever for Arlen Specter,
are going to be the ones dominating the polls? He needs a bigger
turnout, and when you see double-digit undecided this late, it has you
wondering whether the turnout model is really going to be there.
That said, I tell you, a lot of the Specter folks feel better today
than they did 48 hours ago.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go to—let‘s go to Mark Halperin. Your
thoughts on that. It sounds like a slight edge coming out of that
analysis for Sestak. What do you see?
MARK HALPERIN, “TIME”: Well, Specter‘s also got labor unions,
which are obviously big in Pennsylvania. I think the question is, will
the rank-and-file members of the labor unions, like Chuck said,
Democrats who‘ve never pulled the lever for Specter, follow the union
endorsement, the president‘s endorsement?
The other thing Specter has is, as you both know, a history of
winning elections when he‘s been written off. This is not an election
that he should win. Sestak has momentum. He‘s got that dynamite ad on.
And he is by biography and by attitude probably the worst candidate of
the cycle, most out of step with the mood of the electorate. I would
say right now...
MATTHEWS: OK, you...
HALPERIN: ... Sestak will probably win, but I would bet no money
on it because I never bet against a guy like Arlen Specter.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at the Sestak ad you said is one
hell of an ad, and I agree, one of the great ads ever made, maybe. Here
it is, tearing into Arlen Specter‘s two-faced (INAUDIBLE), it looks
like. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: I‘m Joe Sestak, the
Democrat. I authorized this message.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My change in party will
enable me to be reelected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 45 years, Arlen Specter has been a
GEORGE W. BUSH, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s pretty darn tough. By the way, I didn‘t
play the whole ad there. It played that sort of snarky picture of Arlen
there twice, where he says, basically, he‘s a political opportunist and
admitted being a political opportunist, which politicians all are. He
Let‘s take a look at what Specter said this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPECTER: I beat Toomey before. It‘s going to take a rough, tough
campaign, like I stood up to the tea party gang in the town meeting.
The guy rushed at me with his fists clenched, and the security wanted to
throw him out and I wouldn‘t let them. I didn‘t want the headline to
be, Citizen evicted. I wanted the headline to be, Senator keeps his
cool. He had his fists clenched, and I fought him—verbally, that is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He‘s unbelievable! That guy is bionic. He‘s 80 years
old. He‘ll be 86 in this term. And he ain‘t quitting. Here‘s, by the
way, the other big fight in Pennsylvania, the Jack Murtha seat, the late
Jack Murtha. The seat‘s open. Here‘s Bill Clinton campaigning for the
Murtha former aide, Mark Critz, the Democrat, last night. Let‘s watch
Big Bill in Pennsylvania. By the way, they love him in Pennsylvania.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You just
think of every person you will pass between now and when the polls close
Tuesday night. You‘re going to pass a lot of people. Don‘t pass them.
He understands how to connect votes people cast in Washington with
lives people live in Johnstown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mark Halperin, that guy, Clinton, is the greatest pol of
our times. There he is, the troubadour for Mark Critz. Can he pull it
out for Jack Murtha‘s former aide in Murtha district?
HALPERIN: Well, this is a district where they do like incumbency.
Murtha served the district well in typical Pennsylvania style, bringing
home pork from Washington. Critz was the guy who did that on behalf of
Murtha, and I think he‘s run a decent campaign. He‘s kept his eyes on
what the district cares about.
It is still a Democratic district, trending Republican, didn‘t vote
for Obama, the only district in the country that voted for John Kerry
and then voted for McCain. But I think—I think Clinton drew a big
crowd yesterday. The demographics of the district, I think, are good
enough for Critz that he will pull it out.
MATTHEWS: What do you think? You agree with that?
TODD: Well, I...
TODD: It looks like that‘s the case. This is a big—if
Republicans don‘t win, it‘s a big missed opportunity. You know, on
message-wise, I‘ve talked to some Republican strategists, and they‘ve
admitted that they‘ve just not had a good message in going after Critz.
Critz was not the ideal candidate in here. I know a lot of Democrats
here in Washington, at the White House, were nervous about putting a
Murtha aide there, figuring that it was going to make it too much of a
Washington nominee for them, make it harder for them to hold. But the
Republicans have not run the best campaign.
And I‘ll tell you, you‘d compare to where we were in ‘94 at this
time—it was May of ‘94, where the first big Republican victory in a
special election on a Democratic-held seat happened in Kentucky. And
this time, you wonder if Democrats can hold a seat like this in this
environment now, you do have to call into question the Republicans‘
ability strategically to win the 40 seats they need in the House when
there‘s a heck of a lot more seats that they have to worry about, rather
than just this one in southwest Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: OK. What an interesting race for Murtha‘s old seat.
Joyce (ph) Murtha, by the way, is out campaigning, the widow of the
former congressman, for Critz.
Let‘s take a look at the Arkansas race now, fascinating race.
Here‘s where you have a man, a very ambitious lieutenant governor who
looks like he wants to be president some day, Bill Halter, taking on
Blanche Lincoln, who‘s a centrist Democrat who voted against health
care. Lincoln‘s leading the Pollster.com, but she‘s only—not even
over 50 percent.
Is this just a question of time before she has to face the music
from him, Chuck? It looks—well, let‘s take a look at the thought
here. Here‘s—let‘s listen to her.
MATTHEWS: Last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: I think there‘s certainly an
opportunity to be able to come out without a runoff, but I‘m certainly
not making any expectations, nor am I taking anything for granted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, this country still has some regional accents and
has a regional style.
MATTHEWS: You wouldn‘t wear that hat...
TODD: I love the hat!
MATTHEWS: ... in Philly. Chuck, this thought. Seriously, it
looks to me like they have a weird runoff situation down there. Even if
she—can she get 50 tomorrow and end this thing and beat Halter out of
TODD: Well, nobody you talk to close to the race, close to
Lincoln, close to Halter, close to the White House, close to the
Democratic Party, DSCC, believes she can get to 50. Everybody seems to
agree she‘s going to be the leading vote-getter, but she seems to be
stuck in the mid, low, high 40s...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so.
TODD: ... 46, 47. That said, notice Bill Clinton didn‘t come in
now. The Lincoln folks want to save him...
MATTHEWS: I think so.
TODD: ... to basically bail her out in the runoff, if she needs to
MATTHEWS: That‘s my hunch.
TODD: You know, he‘s plateaued, and there‘s—I don‘t know if
there‘s enough liberal Democrats in the Arkansas Democratic Party to put
him over the top, even in a runoff. But we‘ll see.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I completely agree with you. I think the
president‘s waiting, the former president. Bill‘s going to come in
there like a sledgehammer.
I‘m holding here now—Mark, let‘s go to the Kentucky race. We
don‘t have much time here. This is a fascinating race. It‘s the
(INAUDIBLE) the other side—this is a bookend to the Democrat. This
is an anti-establishment candidate, Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, the
Libertarian who ran for president, taking on the establishment
candidate, Trey Grayson, who‘s the love child, basically, of Mitch
McConnell. And it looks like he‘s going to kill him. Your thoughts?
HALPERIN: I think Paul—just as Specter is the worst candidate
for this cycle, Paul is the perfect candidate for Republicans this cycle
in a state like Kentucky. He‘s run a very good campaign. I think if he
does win, and I suspect he will, you‘ll see Mitch McConnell and other
establishment Republicans in Kentucky and around the country rally
around him. He‘s fine for them as a candidate. I think he‘ll be a
pretty decent general election candidate.
The worry for them, and I think for the whole Senate and he White
House, is if he becomes a senator, he will be a very independent force.
HALPERIN: He will make Tom Coburn look...
MATTHEWS: Well, he‘ll be fun to watch.
HALPERIN: ... like a go-along kind of guy.
MATTHEWS: He‘ll be fun to watch. Chuck, let‘s take a look at him,
then you comment. Here he is, Grayson, the establishment candidate—
Mitch McConnell, rather, here, making the case for his candidate, Trey
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We‘ll find out maybe
something about incumbency Tuesday in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, where
we have two Democratic incumbents in serious races. We don‘t have
incumbency on the line in Kentucky. We have two non-incumbents running
for an open seat. One of our senators is supporting one candidate, one
is supporting the other candidate. Whichever one ends up running the
best race, I guess, will be the nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a hedge that is! I got to tell you—Chuck,
here‘s a guy who was Mr. Republican, picking his favorite candidate and
being Mr. Establishment. All of a sudden now, he‘s just one of the two
senators out there. Jim Bunning, the guy he kicked out the door, is now
on equal basis with him. What spin that is! It‘s not even true spin—
TODD: Well, it is. It‘s also accepting reality. I mean, they‘re
clinging to this hope that, somehow, Rand Paul supporters won‘t be
registered Republicans and won‘t...
TODD: ... be able to get a Republican ballot. But we‘ll see. You
know, it does seem as if that the writing‘s on the wall. McConnell sees
the writing on the wall. Democrats and some Republicans believe Rand
Paul has some stances that he‘s taken in the past that‘s going to make
him a troublesome general election candidate.
But I have to say, I agree with Mark on this one. There‘s
something about this cycle, this environment, that Rand Paul—and
maybe the fact that he doesn‘t have a—you know, doesn‘t sit and have,
like, one—have one set of principles that he sticks to, or whatever
you want to call it, one ideology, that it‘s going to make him
potentially a better...
TODD: ... fall candidate for them than having just somebody who‘s
a rank-and-file Mitch McConnell Republican.
MATTHEWS: I think he‘s the big star tomorrow night nationally on
television across the country, and Wednesday when you‘re back home with
rundown (ph). I think everybody‘s going to be talking about Rand Paul.
Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd, Mark Halperin.
Up next, we‘re going to talk to the hot challenger in that
Pennsylvania Senate race, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak, who‘s taking on
city hall in so many ways in Pennsylvania. You got hand the guy guts—
or give him credit for guts. He has taken on the governor, the
president, the vice president, the mayor, everybody, the unions, the
committee people, the machine.
In one minute, by the way, a bit of good news for Democrats across
the country about the mid-terms, a surprising uptick in Democratic
hopes. Wait‘ll you hear it. Back in a minute with HARDBALL and good
news for the Dems.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a glimmer of hope for Democrats in a new
Associated Press poll just out. Voters now say they prefer Democrats to
control the U.S. Congress by a margin of 45 percent to 40 percent, a 5
percent spread there. That‘s a turnaround, a big one, from last month‘s
AP poll, when Republicans had the edge. So things are moving around.
The Democrats have to hope the economy keeps showing some signs of
improvement in order to minimize their losses come November.
We‘ll be right back with Joe Sestak.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The marquee event of tomorrow
night‘s primaries is the Democratic fight between Senator Arlen Specter
and his challenger, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak. Late today, I spoke
with Congressman Sestak about the race and also about his opponent.
Congressman Sestak, you‘re running against an incumbent who is 80
years old. He‘ll be 86 during this term, if he gets reelected. He told
me the other night he may run for reelection at the end of that term.
Is age and seniority an issue of this campaign?
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: Age is definitely not an
issue. And Arlen Specter lost his seniority down in Congress when he
switched parties. The issue is this. He‘s been there for 30 years,
advancing a Republican agenda. I respect the man, but I disagree with
his political approach where he‘s willing to switch a party in order to
keep his job.
Look, I‘m sitting in Philadelphia. You know it pretty well, Chris.
We lost 100,000 jobs here the last 30 years. Fourteen percent of its
population walked away. It‘s time for a real change down there in
Washington, where you‘re willing to do what‘s right and not worry about
your electoral prospects. That‘s what this election‘s about.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Arlen Specter, your opponent, again
because he is the issue in this campaign, many say. Do you believe that
he would vote the Democratic line if he were reelected, or would he
switch and go back to voting somewhere off to the right?
SESTAK: I think Arlen Specter is a literally flight risk if he
were ever to win this primary. And worse, he will lose to Congressman
Toomey. There‘s no poll where he‘s gotten 33 percent of the general
electorate in order to support him for reelection—in fact, I‘m tied
with Congressman Toomey—where he loses by about 12 points.
And even more importantly, I really believe in Democratic
principles out of conviction. And yet, like when John F. Kennedy once
said, sometimes the party asks too much, I was willing to stand up for
what‘s needed for working families and those who want to work, when the
party establishment in Washington, D.C., was wrong. And that‘s what‘s
going prevail in the end.
MATTHEWS: He told me the other night that he has a promise of
seniority, that he‘ll have his full seniority restored, so that it would
be as if he had always been a Democrat for these 30 years. Is that
SESTAK: Well, he may say that, but you saw the Democratic
senatorial caucus. After Majority Leader Reid promised it to him, they
all voted it away from him. Look, there‘s only two or three senators
that are more junior than he is. My first year, I‘ll be more senior
than he is.
And at the end of the day, Chris, I don‘t even believe it‘s about
seniority. I think it‘s about being a public servant. I think you can
do what you have to do down there if you‘re willing to work in a
principled way, principled compromise, and not a compromise of
principle. No. Those senators down there aren‘t about to give up their
seniority to Arlen Specter after this is all over.
And I think Majority Leader Reid probably said it best, from what I
understand, in his biography: Arlen Specter is always there with us when
we don‘t need him. These people right here in Philadelphia need someone
who‘s a warrior ready to fight for them, not just vote for change but
actually ready to fight for it down in Washington.
MATTHEWS: You‘re up against city hall—the mayor, the president,
the vice president, the governor. How do you beat them?
SESTAK: I went out and I spoke with the people. They‘ve lost all
trust, all faith in Washington, D.C. There‘s absolutely no way that I
believe—and I don‘t ever hear them saying that they‘re going to vote
the way someone else tells them, certainly not Washington, D.C., that
slammed them into this savage recession.
You know Pennsylvanians. We‘re pretty independent-minded. When I
go in a church, a VFW post or into a diner, no one ever asks me, Who
endorsed you? They always say, What are you going to do for us?
Look, I‘m willing to lose my job over what‘s right for them. And
Chris, I‘m not running simultaneously for my congressional seat. I want
to demonstrate it really is about public service again, about helping
them. That‘s what‘s happening up here, is Arlen Specter, your time—
we appreciate it, but your time has come and it‘s gone. We really do
need a new generation of leadership, you know, with this president, who
actually believes principle matters and politics will follow principle.
MATTHEWS: So, it is about age. You keep saying a new generation
of leadership. And you‘re running against a guy who is going to be 86
during this term. And you keep saying it‘s not about age.
Well, what‘s it mean to say a new generation, then?
SESTAK: It‘s a group of men and women down there in Washington,
D.C., that Massachusetts said it very well by when they voted. Pox on
both your houses down there, you politicians who have been there and
believe it‘s about deal-making where my Democratic establishment started
to get off track when they thought that, with political calculation, we
could pass a health care bill with that deal for Arlen Specter.
No. If we had had real leadership in the Senate, I believe,
alongside this president, shaping the bill, we would have done so much
better to have kept the trust of the public. No, it is about people who
have been there far too long and have learned the ways of Washington.
Well, come on up here. This is a state that‘s the second oldest
state in the nation, half the job creation in the last 30 years of the
national average. There‘s a better way, and they know it. And I intend
to bring that new generation of leadership, energy, new ideas, and
willing to lose my job over what‘s needed for them, Chris. That‘s the
MATTHEWS: We have primary challenges all across the country
tomorrow. We have got one in Arkansas. We have got one down in
Kentucky, both in the Democrat and the Republican primaries. Why do you
think the primary challengers are looking so strong? What is it that
makes incumbents look weak in both parties?
SESTAK: Chris, people have been hurt.
I went into one of the counties during the summer, when I went to
those 67 counties. And I spoke to you as I was in the midst of them.
And I was talking to them to see whether to get in when the
establishment told me to sit down.
And I remember a farmer who said to me when I asked him how the
recession was, says: “Not too bad. I was hurting so much already.”
Do you think anybody really believes that, the way Washington has
operated, particularly over the last decade, that they are going to
trust someone from down there who has been there and has been bred in
Washington politics? No way.
Look, Chris, I have got to earn their trust. And I know it‘s going
to take time to regain it, much like when I joined up there in the
Vietnam era. We had to regain the trust. Wrongly, the military had
lost trust then during the Vietnam era. Rightly, I went to Congress,
and it had lost trust. I want to bring that back, because that‘s the
gravest ill of all, I think.
If you have got the trust of your sailors in the military, you have
got the trust of the working families, those who want to work, you can
do things for this nation by doing things for them. That‘s what I want
MATTHEWS: You know, you‘re running against the organization in
Philadelphia, the party organization. There‘s going to be a lot of
street money out there tomorrow. A lot of people, committeemen and
committeewomen are going to have money. They‘re going to be out there
working all day long for the party with an official ballot with the name
Specter right on it.
How do you beat them, when you have got labor guys and labor women
and committee people, local pols, almost all of them backing Specter?
How do you expect a voter to go out there and walk through that
committeeman‘s face, walk through those signs, walk through those
official ballots, ignore them all, and vote for Joe Sestak?
How does that happen in a big city environment?
SESTAK: That machine you talked about, let‘s take right here in
Philadelphia. People are wondering, what the heck did the machine do
for them to protect them from what happened? What did it do?
You know, I think there‘s a lot of good men and women there. But,
at the end of the day, when I talk to labor, I‘m talking to the working
families. I understand what the establishment did in Washington, D.C.,
from the top of the labor and—and those who are—Vice President
Biden. They made a deal and they‘re trying to keep their end of it.
But, you know, I have gone to over 650 events since 1 January. I
was in this church behind me just a couple weeks ago. We have gotten
out and about. And, you know, there‘s something different on this
election, Chris. It‘s different.
They‘re going to be making up their independent minds. Look, I
still know I have got to earn that trust that‘ been lost down there, but
I‘m going to do it. And I‘m going to do it by being a public servant,
not a politician. I‘m going to work hard with this president. I am.
But, at the end of the day, I‘m certainly not a yes man. And I am
going to earn their trust by coming back and making sure they know what
I‘m going to do. But, tomorrow, you‘re going to see that we‘re going to
And the we, it‘s the people here in Philadelphia and across this
great state of Pennsylvania, who lost their jobs are holding onto them
and want to be the focus of Washington, D.C.‘s policies again.
Congressman Joe Sestak, you‘re a tough man. You have got a lot of
guts. Good luck tomorrow in the primary. It‘s going to be one
humdinger tomorrow in Pennsylvania. Thank you for joining us on
SESTAK: Thanks for having me on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And tomorrow night, HARDBALL will be live all night at
the Loews Hotels on Market Street in Philadelphia. If you‘re in Philly,
come on down and join us as we want to await the winner of the big
Specter/Sestak fight and the other races in Kentucky and Arkansas across
Up next: Dick Cheney is no King Midas. Everyone he endorses seems
Stick around for the “Sideshow.” It will be fun.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First, what may be the most all-out, all-American, hot dog, apple
pie and I love my gun U.S. of A. political ad ever made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
DALE PETERSON ®, ALABAMA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE: I‘m
Dale Peterson. And I‘m after the Republican nomination for Alabama
I have been a farmer, a businessman, a cop, a Marine during
Vietnam. So, listen up. Dorman Grace brags on his Facebook page about
receiving contributions from industries he would regulate, bragging
about receiving illegal money on Facebook. Who on earth would support
such a dummy? And why?
We‘re Republicans. We should be better than that.
I‘m Dale Peterson. I‘ll name names and take no prisoners. Give me
the Republican for ag commish, and let‘s show Alabama we mean business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that ad will make, at the very least, make Mr.
Peterson, the guy with the gun, the most well-known candidate for
Anyway, next: with a wink and a smile. Florida independent
candidate Charlie Crist just announced that he will be keeping donations
given to his campaign when he was a Republican.
Well, Crist took a shot for that during the opening of his new
campaign headquarters this weekend. The key here, Crist‘s wink right
after he responds to that heckler. Check out that wink.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (I), FLORIDA: This is the people‘s campaign.
And the purpose of this campaign is to give the people the voice that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about their money back?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about that?
CRIST: What about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, what about the guys who gave you money
when you were a Republican?
CRIST: I‘m going to keep it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Did you like that little wink to the camera? Watch
MATTHEWS: Anyway, talk about enjoying the moment. Maybe he‘s got
something, you know, the independent rascal?
Now for the “Big Number.”
Dick Cheney has just endorsed Meg Whitman for governor out in
California. So, is this a boost for her campaign or an albatross?
Let‘s take a look at Cheney‘s record so far in these midterms.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, loser. Senator Bob Bennett, loser. Trey
Grayson in Kentucky, likely loser tomorrow, which means, as far as
endorsements are concerned, if things go as expected tomorrow, Dick
Cheney will be zero for three, provided Trey Grayson loses his primary
race tomorrow. Dick Cheney will be zero for three in endorsements so
far—tonight‘s kiss-off to the Republican Party establishment, our
“Big Number” tonight.
Up next: Nearly a month after the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up,
spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, why do we still not know what
caused this disaster or how to stop it?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
We are going to get tough in a minute. I have never focused on an
issue like this one.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your
CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks clawing—clawing their way back from a steep slide to
finish slightly higher, the Dow Jones industrials adding more than 5.5
points, the S&P 500 tacking on a point, and the Nasdaq climbing seven
Lowe‘s Home Improvement setting a dreary tone early in the day,
beating earnings expectations, but issuing a disappointing outlook.
Concerns about the U.S. consumer dragged the Dow about 180 points lower,
but then the euro started gaining against the dollar, taking stocks
along for the ride.
Consumer staples led the turnaround, with Kraft and Procter &
Gamble topping the Dow.
American Superconductor shares soaring almost 8 percent after
signing a multiyear contract with the world‘s third largest wind turbine
General Motors posting a first-quarter profit and reportedly
shopping around for an adviser for a possible IPO.
And Chrysler paying back $1.9 billion to settle a $4 billion loan
currently in default to the government.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We continue to see more fallout over that disastrous rig explosion
and oil leak down in the Gulf of Mexico. The chief electronics
technician of the Deepwater Horizon rig told “60 Minutes” that there
were known problems with the blowout preventer in the weeks leading up
to the accident.
An Associated Press investigation shows that the Minerals
Management Service didn‘t live up to its own inspection policy. And,
today, the top government official who oversees offshore oil drilling
for the Minerals Management Service announced his retirement.
So, how much fault lies with the BP and the other companies
associated with the rig, and how much blame lies with the Minerals
Management Service of the government for lax oversight?
Kate Sheppard sits with me now. She‘s an environmental reporter us
“Mother Jones.” And Abrahm Lustgarten is with ProPublica.
Abrahm, let me ask you this question, first of all. I have a hunch
that the reason they don‘t want to fix this mess down there is because
they would admit who did it if they fix it. Nobody is down—if this
was a nuclear bomb ready to go off, we would be down there. I‘m so—I
don‘t even want to talk about it. I get so mad at this oil company.
Why aren‘t they fixing it, first of all?
ABRAHM LUSTGARTEN, PROPUBLICA: Well, I think they‘re doing the
best they can, honestly.
I mean, drilling at the bottom and operating at the bottom of the
ocean or 5,000 feet down maximizes the—the technological capabilities
of the oil industry. It‘s been likened to space exploration. And I
think it‘s quite similar.
So, at this point, they—they may want to hide blame, but at this
point I don‘t think there‘s much motivation not to fix the problem, if
they know how to do that.
You know, I have a suspicion—I will go back to it again—I
don‘t think they‘re doing their best. I don‘t think there‘s—the
government is doing its best. Why doesn‘t the president go in there and
nationalize that industry and get the job done for the people?
KATE SHEPPARD, “MOTHER JONES”: Well...
MATTHEWS: There‘s a national interest in this, not just a BP
interest. We‘re letting BP fix a national problem.
SHEPPARD: Well, I think the national problem really began years
ago, months ago, when we—when we didn‘t actually properly oversee
these industries, when BP said that they could drill safely at a mile
below the Gulf, and we took them at their...
MATTHEWS: But I just heard it right there. If it‘s so dangerous
to go down there, if it maximizes their capability, why didn‘t they tell
us that when they went down there?
SHEPPARD: Well, they clearly didn‘t tell us that. And MMS and the
government let them.
MATTHEWS: Oh, it‘s totally safe to do it, until it isn‘t safe, and
then it‘s our problem. Look at that.
LUSTGARTEN: Well, BP definitely has a track record for
underplaying the potential disasters that they could face. And they
definitely downplay the risks in all of their operations, whether that‘s
in Alaska or here in the Gulf. And that—you know, that‘s part of
what‘s happening here now.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you. I want to test you, Abrahm. What
went wrong here? Let‘s just start with that. Do you have a clear idea
of where the blame lies, not who did it, but what was not done that
should have been done to prevent this blowout?
LUSTGARTEN: The picture that seems to be emerging is—sounds
familiar. It‘s one of rushing to cut costs and—and skipping steps
I think what we heard last night about rushing to replace the
drilling mud in the drill tube and replace it with seawater, which
allows the gas to flow out, is definitely one significant factor.
We have also heard a whole lot about the cementing process, which
has been problematic across oil and gas drilling areas on land and
offshore. If the cement doesn‘t cure properly or if it‘s too thin or if
it—if it has cracks in it, then that, too, allows grass to seep up
through it and that pressure to build up lead to a blowout.
MATTHEWS: My brother, who has been in the oil pipe industry for 30
years, told me that the day it happened. He said, the problem is, they
didn‘t put mud in, drill mud in, drilling mud in, to jam it into the
hole there. They put seawater in by—they did it just for cost
saving, is that right, or speed, or why would they make a shortcut like
LUSTGARTEN: That‘s what we are hearing—that‘s what we are
hearing now, as of—as of last night. And I—and I talked to some
experts very close to BP today who were saying that those kind of—
that that kind of shortcutting, the replacing the drilling mud with
water, could lead to somewhere between $5 and $10 million in savings
MATTHEWS: Well, is that a criminal act, do you think?
LUSTGARTEN: It‘s hard to say. I think it‘s something the
Department of Justice will be looking at, and if you look at some of
BP‘s other disasters as an example, and that they have gotten felony
convictions—felony convictions in several of their past incidents.
MATTHEWS: Yes. In China, it‘s a more brutal society—a more
brutal society, Kate, but they execute people for this, major industrial
leaders that commit crimes like this, failure like this.
MATTHEWS: This is a serious, serious problem.
MATTHEWS: It is not over. It continues to destroy a part of our
planet, basically, part of our habitat, our American habitat. And
everybody just sits and watches television every night, and say, oh,
well, that‘s interesting.
And these guys are still drawing their paychecks, still making
their profits. The oil industry has been ballooning in profits this
year, and nobody is doing anything about it, except—what are we, the
Vatican observers now? We just watch?
MATTHEWS: It is maddening that our government is—everybody
says, capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great. Look at
SHEPPARD: You‘re absolutely right.
MATTHEWS: This is great, isn‘t it?
SHEPPARD: We have let BP get away with self-regulation. At the
same time, we have MMS officials who said, you know, you‘re right; we
weren‘t testing the blowout preventers. We‘re weren‘t going through and
doing these environmental analysis that you‘re supposed to do in case
something like this happens. So there‘s a failure of the government.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s draw on the government. You start, Kate. Back in
1973, investigated the oil pipeline industry on land, 220,000 miles of
pipeline. One inspector for the federal government, because the federal
government believed in self-regulation, industry self-regulation. It
looks to me the way we are looking at this, you guys, is that we still
count on the industry to prevent the problem and to fix it. Is that the
way we look at it as a country?
SHEPPARD: That‘s absolutely clear. Not only to prevent it, to
self-regulate on that end, but now we are leaving it up to them to fix
this. And we‘re basically still letting BP run the show down there.
MATTHEWS: When is it going to stop? When is the president going
to blow the whistle? When they fill up the Gulf of Mexico with oil?
When is the president going say we no longer are watching and waiting
and seeing how BP is doing? They put straw down there the other day.
SHEPPARD: I think BP is trying everything. It‘s not like the
government has people out there who know how to fix this problem either.
Basically, this is a problem we have never confronted before, a spill
this size at this far down in the ocean. No one really knows how to
address it. That‘s the biggest problem.
MATTHEWS: I guess I‘m confused. Let me ask you, Abrahm, we go
down, we dig a hole, we put a pipeline in, but we can‘t stop up the
pipe. Is it as simple as that?
LUSTGARTEN: It‘s as simple as that except that it‘s a mile under
water, with immense pressures, in a very remote location. There‘s
problems with these kinds of wells on land, in places where they are
practiced by the thousands every year. And so here, in this particular
location, it‘s just exceedingly difficult. And the problem is similar
to one you would see on land, but accessing the well and dealing with
it, and whether you use the jump shot method or any other technology has
MATTHEWS: Maybe we should take the BP executives and the board
down there a mile and have them sit down there until they fix it. Maybe
they‘d come up with something. The idleness of the mind here—they
have all of the money in the world, and all the brains in the world to
make the money on the oil, ballooning profits for quarter after quarter,
ballooning profits—we‘re just sitting and watching it—and now
we‘re watching them take their time solving this.
You‘re very compliant here for environmental watch dogs, Kate. I
don‘t understand you guys. You seem to understand their predicament.
It‘s a mile down. Well, they went down a mile to get the oil.
SHEPPARD: The problem was we shouldn‘t have allowed them to do
this in the first place. We should have said you can‘t drill safely a
mile down; you shouldn‘t be able to drill at all. That‘s where the
problem starts. At this point, no one really knows how to address it.
That‘s the problem.
MATTHEWS: Yes. It‘s that you‘re though?
LUSTGARTEN: More or less. I think accountability is a big factor.
I think if you force the companies, before they go and drill in deep
water, like in the Gulf, to have proven solutions for this kind of
situation before they go and drill, you would be in a lot better
situation now. I think if the fines when there were violations were
significant enough to actually serve as a deterrent, companies like BP
would be much more motivated to be confident in their solutions and be
confident in their technology before they go in.
They invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology to
make sure they get the oil out. They aren‘t going to make a whole lot
of mistakes around that. But they tend to cut short the solutions for
an emergency situation like this.
MATTHEWS: Millions of people in the American right who sit around
and say there‘s no such thing as mankind destroying his environment
through climate change or whatever, there‘s an example of what we‘re
doing right now. We can destroy our habitat on this planet, and it‘s
the only one we got.
Anyway, thank you, Kate Sheppard. Thank you, Abrahm Lustgarten.
Up next, it‘s the fifth anniversary of the website Youtube. And we
have the top five political game changing Youtube videos, a light
heartedness. I‘m not in the mood for it, but it should be wild.
In one minute, by the way, a shake-up in the McCain campaign out in
Arizona. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Senator John McCain is shaking up his campaign. Senator
McCain‘s campaign manager and deputy campaign manager are both out, as
he fights off a primary challenge from former U.S. Congressman J.D.
Hayworth. The Arizona primary will be held August 29th. Something is
going wrong out there for John McCain. HARDBALL will be back in a
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Youtube celebrates its fifth
anniversary today. It might seem hard to believe that the video sharing
site has only been around for five years, especially considering the
impact it‘s had on politics. To mark this anniversary, we picked some
of favorite Youtube political clips.
Alex Burns is deputy political editor at “Politico.” And Steve
Kornacki is at Salon.com.
Gentlemen, let‘s watch now one of the more interesting ones. This
Youtube clip, which we‘ll show a portion of, played into some
perceptions of candidate John Edwards. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Is that fair to have “the West Side Story” music playing
for this guy, Steve?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Everything‘s fair right now with John
Edwards, in hindsight. I remember when that video first came out. I
think it was probably about 2006, 2007, if I remember right, when he was
gearing up for his second presidential run. It was around the same time
he bought that gigantic house and all the gates, and the 37 rooms and
whatever it was.
I remember sort of defending the guy and saying, well, you know,
sure, this kind of makes him look like a narcissist, and kind of makes
him look like vanity and all that. I‘ll take it all back now.
MATTHEWS: Steve, you use that word narcissist. Alex, hold on your
guns. Look take a look at this one that captured another candidate for
president, Barack Obama. This clip was recorded by a blogger at what
the presidential candidate at that time, Barack Obama, thought was a
private fund-raiser. Well, it went viral on Youtube. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You have small towns in Pennsylvania, like a lot of small
towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years, and
nothing‘s replaced them. They‘ve gone through the Clinton
administration and the Bush administration and each successive
administration has said that somehow these communities are going to
regenerate, and they have not. So it‘s not surprising, then, that they
get bitter and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people
who aren‘t like them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There you have it, Alex. There was the president—he
wasn‘t president then. He almost wasn‘t president because of that
comment—seeming rather snooty towards regular people, saying they
cling to their guns and their religion because they don‘t get what they
want from D.C.
ALEX BURNS, “POLITICO”: Chris, you heard candidate Obama in that
clip sort of playing the role of sociologist in chief, talking about
voters in a very important primary state in a way that you can imagine
plenty of folks saying behind closed doors, as the president did at that
time, not expecting it to get out. You can draw a straight line between
that clip and the reason why Barack Obama is not campaigning in western
Pennsylvania in the special election for John Murtha‘s seat. He is just
not welcomed by many, many voters as a result of sentiments like that
MATTHEWS: Yes, a lot of people remember that they got their
religion long before Barack Obama came along. And they loved the Second
Amendment well back then, too. Let‘s take a look at one we had a role
in. Here‘s Texas State Senator Kirk Watson. He was mayor of Austin.
He was a big surrogate for President Obama in his campaign. We went
after him a bit. I asked him if he could name what Barack Obama had
accomplished as a senator. Here‘s his answer as it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You‘re a big Barack supporter, right, senator?
KIRK WATSON, TEXAS STATE SENATOR: I am. Yes, I am.
MATTHEWS: Name some of his legislative accomplishments. No,
senator, I want you to name some of Barack Obama‘s legislative
accomplishments tonight, if you can.
WATSON: Well, you know, what I will talk about is more about what
he‘s offering the American—
MATTHEWS: No, no, what has he accomplished, sir? You say you
support him. Sir, you have to give me his accomplishments. You have
supported him for president. You‘re on national television. Name his
legislative accomplishments, Barack Obama‘s, sir.
WATSON: I‘m not going to be able to name you specific—
MATTHEWS: Can you name any? Can you name anything he‘s
accomplished as a congressman.
WATSON: I‘m not going to be able to do that tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What did you make of that, Steve? He‘s the surrogate
they put on for us that night. They recommended we put him on our
program that night to speak for the presidential candidate. I said,
what‘s he done? It was a show stopper.
KORNACKI: I‘m guessing that‘s the last time they offered him up as
a surrogate anywhere. That was—I don‘t know if the failure was on
the campaign‘s end, not equipping him with talking points, because it
had only been basically the entire message of the Clinton campaign that
Barack Obama didn‘t have any experience, didn‘t have any
accomplishments, or if it was a failure on his part—this is what I‘m
guessing—to read the talking points that he was given, and to
anticipate that that question might be asked. I can‘t have sympathy for
MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s another one where a guy was tongue-tied on
our program, before we get to the biggest one of the year, the last five
years. We want to hold that one. Here‘s one where a talk show host, a
good guy, I think, Kevin James—I asked him—he had been using the
word appeasement, saying that President Obama was going to be an
appeaser, blah, blah, blah. I asked him to just name what was
appeasement historically? What‘s he talking about? Here he is. Let‘s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong. What did he do?
KEVIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Neville Chamberlain was an
MATTHEWS: What did he do?
JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right?
MATTHEWS: What did he do?
JAMES: His policies—the things that Neville Chamberlain
supported energized, legitimized—energized, legitimized and made it
easier for Hitler to advance in he ways he advanced.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve been sitting here for five minutes asking you to
say what the president was referring to in 1938 in Munich—
JAMES: I can‘t know.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t know, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He just didn‘t know. Anyway, here‘s the biggest Youtube
in five years. Here it is, George Allen. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ALLEN, FMR. SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA: This fellow over here
with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. Welcome. Let‘s
give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alex and Steve, your five second comments on that each?
BURNS: That election just completely turned on a dime after that
clip. Senator Allen, after that hit the Internet, resonated around the
blogs on shows like this one as well, he just could not shake questions
about his relationship to the black community, to I think minorities in
general. It defined the race.
MATTHEWS: Steve, if it hadn‘t been for viral, if it hadn‘t been
for Youtube, would he be a senator now?
KORNACKI: Senator. Remember, he was the early front-runner for
the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. He lost his career because
MATTHEWS: Technology brought him down, besides the comment. If he
just said to a friend reporter, I‘m sorry, it would have been a bad
week. Thank you, Alex Burns. Thank you, Steve Kornacki.
When we return, I‘m going to have some thoughts about tomorrow
night‘s big primaries across the country. You‘re watching HARDBALL,
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a tat on tomorrow‘s election.
We‘ve got three big ones, all of which will gauge the level of anger out
there, the amount of tough, edgy abuse people are ready to lay on the
political establishment. Ground zero is Pennsylvania, where Joe Sestak
is commanding a PT vote against Senator Arlen Specter‘s fleet of
destroyers. Those destroyers are manned by all who have an interest in
Specter‘s six three election, his pal, the governor, the vice president,
the president, the mayor, the unions he‘s been backing for decades, the
center city lawyers, the judges, the people who want to judges, and,
most importantly, the Democratic city committee that Specter used to
work around and now is working with.
Down in Arkansas, we‘ve got a hot race between an incumbent
centrist Democrat, Blanche Lincoln, and a very ambitious lieutenant
governor, Bill Halter. Lincoln was already dicey this year, which is a
tough year for most Democrats, but especially southern Democrats. This
Lincoln/Halter tussle is a contest that only makes sense if you know how
angry the grassroots are. They‘re angry because they‘re not getting
what they want on health care and labor issues from Democrats like
Lincoln. What they want is obedience to the progressive labor agenda.
In Kentucky, you‘ve got to love it, Rand Paul, son of the
libertarian Ron Paul, is dominating in a race against the state‘s
Republican establishment of Mitch McConnell. If Paul wins, it is going
to really stick it to McConnell and the regular Republicans. It will be
a big win for Jim Bunning, who had to skip a reelection effort because
McConnell put the screws to him.
So there you have it, a real trifecta for those wanting to kick
but. If Sestak wins in Pennsylvania, it means Democrats are as angry at
the establishment as Republicans are. If Paul in Kentucky and Sestak
win, it means both sides are going for change. If Halter in Arkansas
and Paul and Sestak win, bet on an outright revolution.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. 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 BE UPDATED.
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