Guests: Amy Walter, Charlie Cook, Joe Sestak, David Corn, Karen Finney,
Ernest Istook, Errol Louis, Kweisi Mfume
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Friday night politics.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Let‘s talk politics. Tonight, we‘re going to bring you a special all-politics show. We‘ll start with the big picture, who‘s up, who‘s down. Can the Democrats hold onto the House this year? Do Republicans have a shot at the Senate? And what will make the difference between a good night for the GOP this November and a “We‘ll take it” night for the Democrats? We‘ve got the big political experts looking into their crystal balls tonight.
Also, Joe Sestak. He‘s one of the keys to the Democrats holding the Senate, but Democrats are worried that the man who slayed—slayed Arlen Specter may not be ready for the primetime fight against Pat Toomey. Joe Sestak joins us tonight.
Next, could the tea party hijack the Republican Party? The extremists could cost them Senate seats, perhaps, they ought to win. Then what happens when the extreme right-wingers like Michelle Bachmann insist on primetime showings at the 2012 convention? Do Republicans really want that to be the face of their party?
Plus, African-American candidates in trouble—Deval Patrick up in Massachusetts, Kendrick Meek down in Florida. Have black candidates hit a wall?
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the big winners this fall, whoever they may be.
Let‘s begin with what things look like right now, less than five months before mid-term elections. Amy Walter is the editor of “Hotline” and Charlie Cook is the editor of “The Cook Political Report.”
Let‘s look at—Charlie, at what you say are the three biggest issues
that Democrats need to worry about—need to happen, actually, this year -
better jobs numbers, two, a warm reception to health care, and three, a take-charge agenda. So what‘s going on? How would you rate all three of them? Start with jobs.
CHARLIE COOK, “COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, the thing is, for the last eight, nine months, this election‘s been heading to a bad place for Democrats, and they needed these three things to happen to change that trajectory. And in the jobs front, they really desperately needed it to get down towards 9 percent, and instead, we‘ve had 9.7, 9.7, 9.9, 9.7. And we even had bad unemployment claims hop up—hop up yesterday. So we‘re just—unemployment is simply not getting significantly better right now.
MATTHEWS: And is that because people who are getting back to work are people that were half-time, part-time, are now working full-time, but they‘re not getting credited as new job fills?
COOK: Exactly. That‘s a lot of—it‘s depressing it because as these people come—discouraged workers come back in and start looking for jobs, it pulls the numbers down.
MATTHEWS: Increase the size of the workforce. Amy, you agree with that. We do not have a good jobs picture right now for the Ds this November.
AMY WALTER, “THE HOTLINE”: No, there‘s—there‘s nothing that we can see right now that‘s going to change the picture between now and November. And it‘s also a perception issue. You know, voters‘ feelings about the economy are based, yes, partly on their own economic situation, but also what they‘re hearing in the news, what they‘re hearing from friends. I don‘t think that‘s going to change at all.
MATTHEWS: So no jobs bill could conceivably reduce the unemployment rate between now and November.
MATTHEWS: You can‘t get down by a half million or so.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at the health care thing. It‘s been quiet because of the hell in the Gulf of Mexico, your home area down there. Is that noise level driving out the noise about health care, or what?
COOK: Well, I think Democrats needed the perception of the health care bill to just fundamentally change, or to—not fundamentally, but to change significantly. And we just haven‘t seen significant movement. Now, Republicans, when Republicans try to push—talk about repeal, I think they‘re on thin ice because most people, they don‘t want to see it repealed, but they‘re not happy about it. And...
MATTHEWS: Is it fear of taxes, fear of being forced to take a policy?
What is it that people don‘t like?
COOK: I‘m wondering whether people are sick of it. They‘re just sick of the issue. They don‘t think it should have dominated things as long as it did. And they don‘t really want to revisit it and don‘t want to see Washington completely obsessed by it for another year or two.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that?
WALTER: I do. And I think you hear a lot about Democrats saying, Well, we lost the messaging war, and I think that‘s really missing the big picture, which is they lost the priority war, which was voters came into the election saying—in 2008, saying, Jobs are the number one issue for us. The economy is the number one issue. They saw Congress focus on something that they didn‘t see as their number one issue for over a year, fight about it, get in a polarized environment about it. They don‘t see that there‘s an immediate benefit for them. And I think when we talk about sort of creating the environment, it bakes the cake, in many ways, for how voters...
MATTHEWS: OK, that‘s...
WALTER: ... felt about...
MATTHEWS: National Public Radio has a new poll of the most competitive districts in the country. This is a really good poll. In those districts, the Republicans are beating the Democrats 49 to 41. That‘s in 70 races there. And then Democratic competitive races, Republicans are way more enthusiastic about November‘s elections, 62 to 37. So these are in the key districts. These are the 60 or 70 that are really going to decide the election, whether the House goes Republican or not, which takes what, 41 seats?
COOK: Yes, 39.
MATTHEWS: Thirty-nine now. So these will tell you, and they tell you two things, Republicans are ahead and more enthusiastic.
COOK: Right. And the thing is, three quarters of the districts are foregone conclusion. It‘s only, you know, a fairly finite number that are going to decide who‘s going to control the House. And this survey...
MATTHEWS: So when you—excuse me. When you look at the polls this November, when you look at election night (INAUDIBLE) you only expect to see real results of any interest in about 70 races.
MATTHEWS: The rest of it‘s already locked in.
COOK: Yes. And the thing is, that‘s the way it always is.
COOK: I mean, sometimes the number‘s a little bigger, sometimes a little smaller...
MATTHEWS: And that‘s because of all the gerrymandering and the fact that...
COOK: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: ... out in the West, you‘ve got Western states are all Republican, in our big cities, they‘re all Democrat. You can predict.
COOK: Yes. I mean, so many of these are just locked in that unless there‘s some horrific scandal or some (INAUDIBLE) But the other thing is, this is a poll of likely voters, not registered voters. This is—this is where you really bear down, and this is one of the first national surveys we‘ve seen just in the core districts, just among likely voters.
MATTHEWS: Well, likely voters is probably the only people that are going to show up in this kind of environment, right?
MATTHEWS: The real hard, true—the rain—the ones that come in the rain, the ones that vote because of it‘s duty and patriotism. They don‘t vote on whim. They always vote, like my parents did. Never missed.
WALTER: Right. And what gets people to the vote—to the polls better than anything is anger and frustration, and Republicans have it and Democrats don‘t. And even—even being—it‘s not so much that they‘re not even enthusiastic, which we—we saw in those numbers. Democratic voters are not enthusiastic. But there‘s just nothing really driving them in the same way it was driving them...
MATTHEWS: Will the young...
WALTER: ... in 2006 and 2008.
MATTHEWS: ... kid vote?
MATTHEWS: Will they?
MATTHEWS: And how about the netroots generally? That‘s a smaller group, but they are generally young people and activists. Will they vote?
COOK: Oh, I think people like the netroots people...
MATTHEWS: Who follow the netroots, I should say.
COOK: Yes. I mean, netroots, tea party—people on the far extremes, they are motivated. But that‘s not 90 percent of the American people.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at your projections, your “Cook Reports” current projections have Republicans gaining 32 in the House and 46 in the Senate. That‘s short of the 39 they need, but it‘s pretty close.
COOK: The 32 is what we can just look at on an “all politics is local” micro count. But the thing is, when you start taking these bigger numbers, this—the intensity numbers, all these other...
MATTHEWS: There‘s a tsunami.
COOK: Yes. Frankly, I think 32 is the floor. It‘s not the midpoint and it‘s not the ceiling. I think this thing‘s going to go north of 32, but 32 is like the defensible number, but my gut is that this thing‘s going higher.
WALTER: And that‘s when you saw where that poll was taken in the 60, 70 districts—look at Charlie‘s list of the most competitive districts. It wasn‘t just polling in those ones that they say, Oh, these are the absolute most competitive toss-up ones. A lot of those were the ones that right now are ranked as leaning Democrat. If those go, then, yes, we‘re up to 45, 50 seats.
MATTHEWS: Amy, let‘s look at this other (INAUDIBLE) I trust you as the best in the country. So 32 could go up to 39.
COOK: It could.
MATTHEWS: Now the other question. And the Senate could go as high as what?
COOK: I think it‘s four to six. Most of the other people that do what we do for a living are—are not...
MATTHEWS: I think there‘s going to be some offsets, though. Aren‘t there a couple cases, two or three, where the Republicans will lose Senate seats, like in Florida?
COOK: Well, Florida...
WALTER: ... who‘s going to win in Florida.
COOK: You know how they flag...
MATTHEWS: No, Charlie...
COOK: You know how, you know, some ships have Liberian flags and sometimes they reflag ships? And the question is, are Democrats going to reflag Charlie Crist? Are they going to basically say, Charlie, you want committee assignments? Hey, we could do that.
WALTER: Well, and of course...
MATTHEWS: Charlie, you‘re acting suspicious.
WALTER: ... he would do it in a minute.
MATTHEWS: You know it‘s going to happen.
WALTER: He would do it in a minute.
WALTER: He would do it in a minute.
COOK: They would offer it to him in a second.
COOK: He‘d take it in a second.
WALTER: Absolutely. And then he‘d jump...
MATTHEWS: ... we‘re heading that—are there any other places where somebody can be—I‘m talking about it tonight in my final comments tonight. I think in every election, whether it‘s Jack Kennedy winning in ‘52 against a Republican landslide, Joe Biden winning in ‘72 against a Democratic—a Republican landslide—every election, there‘s three or four people that come out of nowhere and beat the wind.
COOK: What I‘m watching for is, are there places—and you know, Kentucky might be an example, Kentucky Senate race or—where a placebo might win as a Republican, but that doesn‘t mean any Republican can win.
MATTHEWS: Rand Paul can‘t beat...
COOK: Yes, well, I mean, I‘m not saying he can‘t. But the thing is, he‘s going to test how big is this wave?
COOK: Is it really big enough?
MATTHEWS: OK, I‘m looking at everything you say and adding to it this anti-incumbency thing we‘re seeing in every poll. It looks very tough for the Democrats. They‘re incumbent and they‘re Democrats and they‘re unpopular and the economy is bad.
Amy Walter, thank you. It‘s great to have you here. And Charlie Cook. Have a nice weekend.
Coming up: Some Democrats in Pennsylvania are worried—some are—that their candidate for the Senate, Joe Sestak, may not be ready for primetime. He‘s got to fit in with the people that ran against him in the primaries so he can win the general against Pat Toomey, the Club for Growth guy. Congressman Sestak joins us next here on HARDBALL.
You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Americans may be of mixed mind over President Obama‘s handling of the global economic crisis, but around the world, he‘s a big winner. Look at these numbers from a new Pew global poll. Two thirds of Britons approve Obama‘s handling of the economic crisis. Same number among the French, while 7 in 10 Germans give the president high marks. Elsewhere, President Obama‘s running 2-to-1 favorable in China and Brazil, 3-to-1 favorable in Japan. President Obama‘s economic policies—more popular around the world than here at home.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: This is what democracy looks like, a win for the people over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. One month ago, U.S. congressman Joe Sestak beat Arlen Specter, the longest-serving Senate in Pennsylvania history, in the Democratic primary.
Congressman Sestak, thank you, sir. Looking forward to the general election, a couple of questions. One is, can you prove that Pat Toomey, the Republican candidate who‘s a member of the Club for Growth, is too far out, too much of a winger, if you will, for Pennsylvania? Let‘s start with that question. And how do you prove it?
SESTAK: Well, first off, I‘ve sat down with Pat Toomey and even had a beer with him. Not a bad guy whatsoever. But is he extreme in his views? He wants to drill in Lake Erie. He actually sees this catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and says, Just continue on drilling. And you know, he did head the Club for Growth. And as John McCain called it, it‘s a bag man for the ultra-rich.
The issue here, really, for us Pennsylvanians is, Pat Toomey, someone I like, will always side with Wall Street and big oil. But as you saw in this last primary, I‘ll stand up and fight for the working family and what they need, and that‘s the difference. That‘s the choice Pennsylvanians will have.
MATTHEWS: How can you gig him into making statements, like Sharron Angle has made out in Nevada, about you need your 2nd Amendment remedies to fight government power, or the Rand Paul comments that said he didn‘t really like the Civil Rights bill? How do you get Pat Toomey to make those kinds of far-out statements that can expose him as a right-winger? How do you do it, as a politician?
SESTAK: Pat likes to speak for himself. So when he said that regulation of oil companies is almost criminal, I think people in Pennsylvania, where we have the Marcella (ph) shale, for example, that‘s going to be a wonderful boom for us in terms of jobs, but they want to do it right—understand that Pat is going to be siding, as he argues, for a flat tax, for example. Corporations no longer will have to pay more than 20 percent and millionaires won‘t have to.
He‘ll speak for himself and he‘ll lay out why his ideology is to the right of Rick Santorum. In fact, the American Conservative Union ranks him 10 points to the right of Rick Santorum. Look, Pennsylvania needs someone who actually says we got to start growing jobs down there. It‘s why I‘m chairman of Small Business Committee and want to have a 15 percent tax credit for small businesses, not for the oil companies or Wall Street, like my...
SESTAK: ... like Pat Toomey wants to.
MATTHEWS: OK, you want a free-fire zone, then, right, against Toomey. Now let me hit you with the tough questions. How do you mollify the Philadelphia Democratic establishment? Why should an establishment Democrat back Joe Sestak to be a senator?
SESTAK: Because I think they understand that the status quo is not acceptable. I got on the Acela here, on Amtrak, at 5:00 AM this morning, left Washington, got into Philadelphia—you know 30th Street as well as I do—went over and had a breakfast at 7:30 AM with the black clergy, who did endorse Arlen Specter, got on the 9:12 and came back to Washington.
I want them to know that I‘m going to go out of my way to make sure they understand and get a cut of my jib. But as we talked, I talked about the poverty increase in Philadelphia, 22 percent, 43 percent are African-Americans, are 18 or below are living in poverty. Can‘t have that any longer.
I just want them to understand that it‘s not going to be about politics for me. I came back down here to Washington to work on the issues that they need, like COBRA. We‘ve got to get that through for those who have lost their health care from businesses. I think at the end of the day, it‘s going do be making sure they understand I‘m there for the constituencies they care about, and politics—set it aside. I don‘t have time for it.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about patronage? What about judgeships? What about the stuff that‘s the bread and butter of Philadelphia politics? You‘re not going to deal with city committee? You‘re not going to deal with the governors? I mean, you‘re not going to deal with the party big shots on dividing up the judgeships, that kind of stuff? That‘s bread and butter and Philly. That‘s all they talk about.
SESTAK: Well, just before I came down here on Monday, I went in and sat down with the city council, the president, who has been there quite a long time, as you know. But what we talked about was education. Look, at the end of the day, when I have to make a decision for some district attorney or something, I‘m going to set up, just like a did in my district, an advisory board and get those individuals that are best qualified. I believe in this. It‘s what I saw in the Navy.
SESTAK: Hey, merit does matter, and it‘s the way I‘m going to approach it. And I think people want it.
MATTHEWS: You mean when ward leaders come to you and they say they got a favor that they want for a job or to get into West Point or get in the Naval Academy or a judgeship, you‘re going to say, I‘m doing this based on merit, all your work for the party for the last 20 or 30 years doesn‘t matter?
MATTHEWS: You‘re going to say that to regular pols in the big city, like Philly, that all their work for the Democratic Party doesn‘t mean—doesn‘t mean nothing because you‘re going to have a merit-based system for these patronage appointments?
SESTAK: Let me take the example you gave me—Naval Academy, military academy, Air Force Academy selections. The way we do it now, I have a three-step review process. At the end of the day—and I have on there business leaders, previous superintendents. At the end of the day, I sign off on it. And you know what the result is? We get in about 22 people a year, when you‘re only supposed to get about five or six in a year, because we work hard at it. But at the end of the day, it‘s non-political. You‘re right. It‘s going to matter on merit, and I mean that. Hey, we can have principled compromise...
SESTAK: ... and they can recommend somebody, but it‘s not going to be because, all of a sudden, somebody has a certain position.
MATTHEWS: So why should...
SESTAK: And that‘s not how we do it in my district.
MATTHEWS: Well, in Philadelphia, for example, why should a ward leader bust his butt or her butt for you, get you elected as senator, bring a good turn-out for you this November if you‘re never going to do them any favors?
SESTAK: At the end of the day, I think there are many good ward leaders who are going to care about what I do. Hey, they represent somebody. And that‘s what happened...
MATTHEWS: If you‘re not going to do them any favors...
SESTAK: ... in this last election. But—but...
MATTHEWS: You‘re not going to help them. When you get in, they call you up and say, I need some help with this job, this guy needs a job, are you going to help them?
SESTAK: If it‘s the right thing to do and it‘s a merit-based approach
look, at the end of the day, Chris, you saw what happened in this last race. People came out on the streets who really wanted to believe in somebody and that maybe politics isn‘t going to triumph over principle.
SESTAK: I do believe in principled compromise, but at the end of the day, I want to be respected for trying to do the right thing. And let the chips fall as they might.
SESTAK: I did meet with 50 ward leaders of Philadelphia, had a nice talk, told them I would like to work with them. But, at the end of the day, it‘s going to matter of whether it moves the city forward that lost 100,000 jobs the last 30 -- last 30 years. Status quo has got to change.
MATTHEWS: Just last question, quickly, yes or no, have—you have any bad feeling in your heart for the following people, the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, the mayor of Philadelphia, Mike Nutter, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden? Do you have any feeling in your heart that those guys you short, they backed Arlen too hard, too long, and didn‘t give you a shake? You have got no problem with those guys individually now, right?
SESTAK: None at all.
MATTHEWS: Or do you? None at all?
SESTAK: I just talked to Ed last night for about 20 minutes, Ed Rendell. None at all.
And I would be honored to have the president come in any day, although I really want Michelle Obama to come in first. What a winner to have...
SESTAK: ... come in to Philadelphia.
Last question. Bill Clinton going to help you?
SESTAK: Yes, he already said so. As a matter of fact, they have called us twice.
MATTHEWS: You can‘t do better than that.
Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak, clean as a whistle.
Up next: We have already seen the Tea Party vastly influence Republican politics. Could some Tea Party candidates cost Republicans seats they ought to win this November?
And looking ahead to 2012, what happens when Tea Party wing nuts demand big roles at the Republican Convention? What happens when the crazies want prime time?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AUGUST 17, 1992)
PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. But this war is for the soul of America. And, in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton and Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a team player.
Back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: There he was, our guy, pat Buchanan giving his barn burner of a speech at the ‘92 Republican Convention.
In recent years, Republicans have made a place for moderates in their prime-time convention slots. Back in 2000, you had two guys known for reaching across the aisle, General Colin Powell and John McCain back then. In 2004, it was Mr. 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and my good friend Zell Miller.
In—I was kidding, Zell.
MATTHEWS: In 2008, you had party hopper John (sic) Lieberman. He was over there helping the Republicans, although the real star that year was of course Sarah Palin.
So, what about 2012? Will Republicans cave to the Tea Party and move right?
We have put together our own Tea Party dream team lineup. What happens if Sharron Angle wants to talk? She kicks off the convention the first night, followed by libertarian Rand Paul. Then you hear from Michele Bachmann, who made her name on this program, and, of course, the Tea Party‘s queen bee—well, queen, at least—Sarah Palin.
That‘s food for thought.
Joining us to tonight discuss this Tea Party power is MSNBC‘s political analyst Pat Buchanan and David Corn of “Mother Jones” magazine.
You‘re sort of the leader of the cloth coat Republicans, you and Dick Nixon. You started it.
MATTHEWS: And I mean this with all respect, because that‘s a lot of people that I come from, regular people.
MATTHEWS: They‘re not rich. A lot of them voted Republicans all their lives because of belief in our country and their own sort of beliefs about self-help, you know, the whole Republican philosophy.
Can—and that doesn‘t offend many people, what I have just described.
MATTHEWS: Most people sort of say, those people are American.
But when people start talking about Second Amendment as part of their protection from their own government, when people start making some of these far-out comments, like Joe Barton the other day talking about how he‘s a BP kind of guy...
MATTHEWS: ... are you worried about them speaking at the Republican Convention in prime time?
BUCHANAN: Well, I don‘t know—think Joe Barton will. But I don‘t -
but I think Michele Bachmann could very well be invited to speak. Sarah Palin would certainly speak. The nominee would speak. My guess would be, Romney will speak.
But, Chris, if you‘re going to have a majority party, like FDR put together that gigantic majority in 1936, you had socialists and segregationists at the convention, both. You had the Communist Party moved over to FDR and you had all these right-wingers.
If you get a huge coalition, you‘re going to have people that make other people uncomfortable.
MATTHEWS: David Corn, from a—from a—from a—from an opponent point of view here, an opposition point of view, “Mother Jones,” would you be happy to be able to have up there on a Monday night at a Republican Convention a real full-mooner, for example? Name your pick.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: A full-mooner.
MATTHEWS: Name your pick.
CORN: Who is doing the “Full Monty.”
CORN: You know, calling for abolishing the EPA, the energy...
MATTHEWS: A Pat Buchanan, if you will.
CORN: Exactly. As Molly Ivins says, that speech was better in the original German.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was cute.
MATTHEWS: But let‘s talk about today and who is out there. Pat Buchanan was definitely the barn burner speech.
MATTHEWS: Best speech at the convention.
It used to be I always said about the Democrats why didn‘t the guy who gave the best speech get to be the nominee? Because most of the time, it was Mario Cuomo, it was Jesse Jackson, it was Teddy Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: They all gave the best speeches, never won.
MATTHEWS: The Republican Party has had Pat, who gave a better speech than George Sr., right?
CORN: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: But he may have hurt the party in the middle.
CORN: But the question with the Tea Party, which will I think maybe decided in 2010, before 2012, is whether the Tea Party is bussing in voters for the Republican Party, or whether it‘s driving the bus of the cliff.
CORN: I mean, if Rand Paul and Sharron Angle don‘t win their elections—and who knows what is going to happen with Rubio down in Florida—I think Crist is looking a little bit better today. But that can change very quickly—then the Tea Party will really be left in the cold, except for Sarah Palin.
And the big question—Pat and I have been talking about this for days now—is whether she‘s going to be running or not. If she runs, it‘s a Tea Party—and she—it‘s a Tea Party convention, whether she gets the nomination or not. If she doesn‘t...
MATTHEWS: Because her delegates will all be...
MATTHEWS: ... through the room.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s start with this way, real simple. First question, can you run a Republican ticket in 2012 that does not have a real Tea Party person on it, one or two?
BUCHANAN: You have got to have a conservative on the ticket.
MATTHEWS: A real conservative, a movement person?
BUCHANAN: It‘s always a conservative and a—it‘s always a Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
MATTHEWS: So, there has to be a movement conservative on that ticket?
BUCHANAN: A movement conservative. If Romney wins, he picks a movement conservative.
But, Chris, let‘s take the hottest Tea Party person, Sarah Palin. McCain was down eight points when he picked her. He was up five after her speech. It was the most dramatic...
CORN: And he lost the election, Pat.
BUCHANAN: I know, but it was...
CORN: She drove away more people than she...
BUCHANAN: Look, it was the most dramatic, successful pick at that time. There‘s no doubt she was hurt later. But McCain killed himself with, the economy is in good shape.
And do you think a Sarah Palin could win the nomination and win the election?
BUCHANAN: I think Sarah Palin could win Iowa and she could win South Carolina. And, if she did, she would win the nomination.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I have been saying.
MATTHEWS: But then she would have to knock off Mitt Romney in Michigan, though. She would have to do that.
BUCHANAN: Not—you don‘t need Michigan. If you start with Iowa and you through South Carolina, that would win him off, in my judgment.
But if Romney wins Iowa or New Hampshire, I think, he goes down to the finish line. I think she can win the nomination. I do agree right now she can‘t win the election.
CORN: Well, I agree. I...
MATTHEWS: Would you want her at the convention, though, speaking out?
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes. Not to have her, you tick off the momma grizzly, and you can‘t win.
CORN: She will be—absent any major scandal involving business, sex or something else, she will be a presence at the convention one way or the other.
BUCHANAN: Sure. They will blow the roof off the place for her.
CORN: But, listen, I still think she is more a deficit, a debit for the party, than an asset.
MATTHEWS: Then is there any Tea Party person you can see actually going beyond a speaking—very attractive people physically. I mean, they‘re beautiful people. Like, Nikki Haley is gorgeous.
MATTHEWS: These people are all attractive candidates. There‘s no about it.
But can you put them on a ticket, Nikki Haley, for example? She‘s going to—I think she‘s going to come out of this a superstar.
BUCHANAN: No, no, you don‘t pick somebody to win South Carolina, Chris. That‘s the reason. Let me say it.
BUCHANAN: If she was from California...
MATTHEWS: What Tea Party person has the sort of—is the genuine article you put on the ticket? Who has got the superstar quality, the charisma, if you will, of a Haley?
CORN: Scott Brown.
BUCHANAN: ... thinking Massachusetts. You‘re not going to win Massachusetts.
MATTHEWS: OK. So, where—what—who is the Tea Party person who has got the charisma? Haley? Bachmann?
BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin is the only one that‘s got it right now...
MATTHEWS: You would put her on the ticket?
BUCHANAN: ... on national ticket. No, she was on a ticket. I wouldn‘t put her on again.
BUCHANAN: But there‘s no doubt, look, you can‘t tick her—whoever is running in the primaries, last thing you want to do, if she‘s running, is tick her off.
BUCHANAN: You would hope she loses, but you‘re not responsible.
CORN: Well, I still have—don‘t know whether she has any idea whether she‘s running or not. And she may have more of a presence at the convention if she doesn‘t run, if she stays out of it.
BUCHANAN: It‘s possible.
CORN: She get defeated, how she looks in defeat might not be so pretty.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m looking at these candidates right now. They are dynamite. They‘re fantastically charismatic. They‘re attractive on the stage. They get audiences like we have never seen. Will they accept—go sit in the corner after the convention is over?
BUCHANAN: But they shouldn‘t. You should have...
MATTHEWS: But they‘re not on the ticket at all?
CORN: Chris, we had Colin Powell on the ticket. You‘ve about this.
MATTHEWS: So, these people are going to dazzle the convention and step off the stage and let Pawlenty and Mitt Romney...
MATTHEWS: ... out there?
BUCHANAN: Chris, you‘re talking about a big—what‘s the matter with you Republicans? Why aren‘t you inclusive? Why can‘t—we‘re saying, come on in, folks.
MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking you, are they all generous enough, these incredible superstars of the Tea Party movement? And I will go through the names, Bachmann, Nikki Haley, Sarah Palin. Will they all accept not being on the ticket?
CORN: Well, they may not want to be on the ticket.
BUCHANAN: Well, yes, not being on the ticket, but they all should get
I would say, as of now, they should all get speaking slots in prime time, if you could do it for all three.
CORN: There are going to be two types of Tea Party candidates or Tea Party leaders. There will be the—if Nikki Haley wins, she will be seen as a fresh face. And then people can see what type of job she does as governor.
But I don‘t think—I could be wrong about this—that Sharron Angle and Rand Paul are both going to win. Maybe neither would win. And so part of the Tea Party could end up being discredited. The more wacky, let‘s give rid of big government, you know, every aspect of not just big government—just get rid of government—wacky part of the Tea Party may be discredited, that more libertarian wing.
And so there may even be a war within the Tea Party about who is really in the Tea Party now.
BUCHANAN: But, Chris, the Tea Party is—there‘s no doubt, it—every movement brings negatives. Conservatives do. Labor do, civil rights. But it brings energy and fire into this Republican Party, which was at 20 percent.
MATTHEWS: Last night. I have noticed a pattern. We all know the pattern here. Every time a Tea Party candidate has been in a situation, they have won. They have done well in the primary. You‘ve got Rand Paul won and you‘ve got...
BUCHANAN: Twenty-five points, yes.
MATTHEWS: Sharron Angle won out in Nevada, right across the board.
Is your party going to be taken over by the Tea Party people in most of the races?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t think—Look, who—Sharron Angle is not going to take over the national party. Rand Paul will be a libertarian, the only true libertarian, I think, maybe one or two other guys in the United States Senate.
No, it‘s a conservative party, by and large. It‘s got a liberal wing.
It‘s going to have a Tea Party wing.
MATTHEWS: So, bottom line, you can see a Democratic—a Republican Convention in 2012, wherever it is—It‘s going to be in Tampa, right? -- with a lot of cavalcade of Tea Party people....
MATTHEWS: ... with all their charisma walking up on the stage and then stepping back into the shadows and letting two dorky, middle-of-the-road Republicans be the nominees?
BUCHANAN: No, you have got to have a conservative on there that makes the Tea Party—excites people on the top or the bottom of the ticket.
MATTHEWS: I love this stuff.
Pat Buchanan, congratulations on starting this whole thing.
MATTHEWS: ... star of our special the other night.
MATTHEWS: A million-and-a-half people watched that thing because of you.
CORN: Whatever happened to that cultural war?
MATTHEWS: Pat Buchanan. David Corn.
Up next, our strategists tackle the big Florida Senate race, where Charlie Crist is still on top and Marco Rubio may be fading, or at least hitting a wall.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks wrapping up the weekend on a nervous note, the Dow Jones industrials adding 16 points, the S&P 500 up 1 ½, and the Nasdaq tacking on 2 ½ points.
Investors looking for a pot of gold at the end of a volatile week on Wall Street, gold prices soaring to a record high, now up nearly 15 percent since the end of 2009. Oil prices up as well on concerns about the future of deepwater drilling. CVS and Walgreens shares both moving higher after settling a spat over prescription drug plans.
And Toyota shares are skidding a bit after the company said it hopes to slash car prices by 30 percent in the next three years.
And CNBC has learned that BP‘s $20 billion Gulf relief fund could be financed in part to an unsecured bond offering with a yield of between 8 percent and 10 percent.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For a look at how Republicans and Democrats will strategize going into the 2010 midterms, we go to the strategist.
Karen Finney is the former communications director for the Democratic National Committee. And Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.
Thank you, Congressman.
And, thank you, Karen.
ERNEST ISTOOK ®, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to look now at the Pollster.com number for Florida. We think Florida—I do—is the most fascinating state to watch this year. Charlie Crist, running, as an independent, look at him there. He‘s running hard. He‘s up to 36 percent.
Marco Rubio, who had all the early momentum, is at 35. I don‘t know if he‘s stalled or not. Maybe he‘s reached his wall. And, of course, the Democrat has had a hard time. Kendrick Meek is down at 16 and not doing well.
Karen, I think Charlie Crist wants to be a Democrat. I think he‘s working with the teachers union. He‘s hoping he can win this the same people do as an independent and then caucus with the D‘s.
KAREN FINNEY, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL
COMMITTEE: Well, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: You think that‘s what‘s up?
FINNEY: I think he‘s certainly trying to do that. It did not hurt him that he was seen earlier in the week with President Obama.
MATTHEWS: That hug may help.
FINNEY: That end—that may help.
And, also, I mean, look, in a time of crisis, if people think you‘re doing a good job, like what is going on with the BP oil spill, they‘re going to like you. They‘re going to say, you know what? Maybe we should hold onto this guy.
MATTHEWS: Is there a state out there that you can see, Congressman, that really isn‘t a natural Tea Party state or a natural Democrat state, that does look for something purple in the middle? I think Florida might be that state. I don‘t know. There‘s a lot—Pennsylvania is like that. There are states that look towards the true north, a little right, a little left. They don‘t want to go too far from that midfield.
ISTOOK: Well, Florida certainly has been a swing state. And nobody wants to see more hanging chads in what looks like a pretty close election right now between Rubio and Crist.
ISTOOK: I agree with you, Crist is certainly trying to capture the Democratic nomination so to speak, without having to run to the primary because of a weakness being demonstrated by the Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek.
But I‘ll tell you, one thing that may make a difference is, there are very different positions being taken out on offshore drilling by Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.
Rubio is taking some chances. Rather than opposing the drilling, as Crist is doing, he‘s saying, look, offshore drilling is happening anyway. Other nations are coming into the basin. Cuba has been authorizing drilling by other people. If you put a platform midway between Havana and Key West, you‘re going to have the same threats, if you will, to the Florida coastline --
ISTOOK: -- but without any benefits of the revenue. That‘s the point that Rubio is trying to make.
MATTHEWS: Do people see that, though? Do you think, Karen, that people see that kind of sophistication there? Because I think Florida sees itself as a seashore, it‘s the Sunshine State. It wants the beaches clean more than anything.
KAREN FINNEY, FMR. DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Absolutely. And I actually think that‘s going to hurt Rubio. The other thing he said was that he opposes the idea that BP should be prevented from paying out shareholders. That‘s not going to sit well with people who can sympathize with the idea—
MATTHEWS: Why not take that position? Ideologically, he‘s a free marketer.
FINNEY: OK. Because he said we shouldn‘t be bussing businesses around. Now, that‘s a risky position to take. I don‘t think it‘s going to sit well with Floridians.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, what do you think about ideology this year? I think the Republicans are going to win a lot of seats just because the out party is going to look pretty good to voters right now.
MATTHEWS: They‘re going to win, a lot of people like mister, what‘s his name, Chris Christie up in New Jersey, the guy in Virginia, governor‘s race. People win in the year when the other party is doing so badly in terms of the economy. Does the Republican Party risk losing some of these easy ones with ideology getting in the way?
ISTOOK: Well, I don‘t think it‘s just about ideology. It‘s about the economy as well. We‘re past the point where anybody with credibility can claim that this is George Bush‘s economy. Whatever were the demerits of the economy then, they‘ve been worsened—
ISTOOK: -- by the level of spending, the deficit spending. We‘ve got $1.8 trillion that businesses are sitting on—money that‘s sidelines because they don‘t want a chance of expanding with the level of taxes and regulations that they know are coming at them.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s look at the president‘s approval/disapproval on this very hot local issue, on this—it‘s national but it‘s particularly local to the Gulf—on his handling of the oil spill. If you look at how it‘s doing now and how it‘s doing in May, right now in June, it‘s getting worse for him. The approval level is going down. The disapproval is going up.
Karen Finney, this is tough.
FINNEY: It is tough. It‘s a very tough environment.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think it‘s getter tougher? Just because of time?
FINNEY: I think people—and people are frustrated. I mean, look, the reality unfortunately of this oil spill is, it is hard to stay ahead of the curve. I do think we need to kind of get a look what the polls look like next week because having the president be on offense this week with the announcement of the $20 billion fund, that‘s the kind of action that people want to see. And I think it‘s going to bode well for the president.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman, do you think the president can win on this until the spill is capped?
ISTOOK: Well, everybody gets popularity by kicking around the dog of BP. But there‘s a sleepy here. There was hearing this week, Elijah Cummings, congressman from Maryland, who chaired it, Corrine Brown from Florida was one of the people with concerns over this, Laura Richardson from California—all of these Democrats, members of the Congressional Black Caucus saying, why in the world are we not getting the ships from foreign countries that really have the capability of cleaning this up?
President Obama was right when he said, well, we don‘t have the American capability. But they exist in other places of the world. They should have put out all points bulletin saying, we want the—
MATTHEWS: What‘s stopping them?
ISTOOK: -- vessels to clean it up from all over the well, but they‘ve been stopped by the Jones Act.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘ve been saying that, Congressman, every night here. I‘ve been saying that every night because John Hofmeister, who was head of Shell, keeps telling us that, that there are a lot of ships out there in the world, tankers—supertankers—that can begin skimming right now if we get them in the Gulf.
ISTOOK: That‘s right.
FINNEY: I completely agree. And look—
MATTHEWS: Why—is it the Jones Act? This is—what is the issue that‘s keeping people out?
FINNEY: I think part of the problem that the White House has had is, you know, again, they keep going through the lists of things that they‘ve been doing. Those are probably all good things to do. But people want to see action, and not just hear about it. We want to see it. We want to see the president give an all call. All engineers, scientists, let‘s get around the table and try to solve the problem.
ISTOOK: The big ships.
FINNEY: The big ships, whatever it takes.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Karen Finney. Thank you, Ernest Istook.
Thank you, Congressman.
ISTOOK: You bet. Thanks.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Why is it that African-American candidates like Florida‘s Kendrick Meek and Deval Patrick up in Massachusetts are struggling in their campaigns? Patrick is doing a little better but Kendrick Meek is not. What‘s going on this year? What‘s—do they hit the wall?
This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has some kind words for Sarah Palin. Santorum says Palin‘s endorsement, quote, “is the only endorsement anyone wants. If you ask anyone who the most influential endorsers are, Palin is numbers one, two, and three.” Wow!
Santorum also said Mitt Romney‘s poll as an endorser is insignificant. This day, Santorum is traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire keeping out the spotlight as he lays the ground work for a potential presidential run in 2012.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back.
After Barack Obama was elected the first African-American president in history, some people thought you might see a lot more African-American candidates running statewide for governor and senator. But it hasn‘t really happened, and why not?
Errol Louis is radio talk show host for WWRL up in New York City and a columnist for “The Daily News.” And Kweisi Mfume is a former Democratic congressman from Maryland, former president of the NAACP and he also ran for the Senate in 2006.
I remember that well. I did vote for you, sir.
KWEISI MFUME (D), FMR. U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: So, let‘s go to that. Not that it matters. Let‘s go to this big question.
I want to go to Errol Louis up there.
You write about politics. Now, I want to know what you think it is.
This number hasn‘t going up much.
Right now, we have one U.S. senator who‘s African-American. He was appointed. That‘s Burris, rather that‘s Roland Burris out in Illinois who replaced the president out there.
We got David Paterson who moved up from lieutenant governor. He‘s governor of New York. But he‘s getting sort of pushed out.
And Deval Patrick is making something of a comeback.
It‘s not a strong percentage of power for people that represent, last time I looked, 13 percent of the American electorate.
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes. Well, it depends though. I got to be honest with you, Chris. I mean, if you look at some of the other positions. If you look at some of the candidates who are running for positions like attorney general out in California, if you look at some of the black leaders that are running some of the state legislatures around the country, and that‘s at record highs in a lot of the cases.
We‘ve got a guy here—John Sampson—here in New York who‘s the head of the Senate, by far, the second most powerful in New York State politics. They‘re doing OK. They‘re just kind of bubbling up I think as they go through their political careers.
MATTHEWS: Does that bug you up there, just to stay in New York, there‘s a historic notion of a balanced ticket in New York. It‘s an ethnically balanced ticket. It isn‘t this year. Does that bother you? No African-American running for a big office up there.
LOUIS: Well, you know, I mean, here again. You know, if you had to choose between having a—let‘s say you‘re into tribal politics, if you want a member of your tribe—
MATTHEWS: Well, isn‘t New York historically into tribal politics?
MATTHEWS: I mean, tell me something. Yes?
LOUIS: But if you—if you have to choose between the lieutenant governor and the leader of the Senate, it‘s not even close. And so, the fact you‘ve got a black guy who‘s running the state Senate ought to satisfy people who are in the know. The fact that you don‘t have somebody in the relatively meaningless and powerless position of lieutenant governor—OK, I can live with that. I‘m not sure how other people feel about it.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about the country outside of New York. New York is a big state. But let me ask you about, Congressman, what do you think? How is the community doing in terms of pushing that ceiling?
MFUME: I think a lot of people had erroneous, mislaid perceptions that after 2008, immediately we‘re going to see a huge influx of candidates and a huge influx of successful elections. It just doesn‘t work that way. I mean, I don‘t think the president‘s coattails are that long. Arthur Davis in South Carolina—excuse me—in Alabama is an exception or at least an example of that.
And I think, more than anything else, Chris, what we‘re seeing is actually a fallback. I don‘t think there‘s a deep bench for candidates to pop up for statewide election. And since Reconstruction which has been 130 years, there‘d only been three African-Americans elected to the Senate and two to a governorship. That‘s five in 130 years.
MATTHEWS: How much of it is the problem? If you represent an inner city district for, say, five, 10 years, you‘re working your way up to go statewide. And if you‘re a white candidate and you represent a suburban district, you can easily make the transition to represent statewide. But if you‘re representing a liberal district in a big city, with all kinds of economic need and you vote straight, ADA liberal, and then say, oh, I‘d like to be senator from the state, or governor, is that a harder transition?
MFUME: It‘s hard enough as it is.
MFUME: If the state is not liberal, it‘s even harder. I mean, people are going to base you on your previous votes and your record. And so, if you‘re trying to expand that, you‘ve got to graduate.
MATTHEWS: You were trying to do it.
MFUME: I did do it. I mean, I fell 18,000 votes statewide in 2006 coming from a very urban district in Baltimore and running throughout the entire state. It‘s hard but it can be done. The difficulty, I think, more than anything else is that we don‘t have enough candidates ready to step in and make that next step.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me look at a couple of guys now, congresspeople, I shouldn‘t be so familiar with them, but U.S. congresspeople who making risky moves this year. They don‘t look too good right now. Arthur Davis was running, as you mentioned, in Alabama, from—
I assume—a safe congressional seat, going statewide for governor. He made an amazing concession speech. He said just recently, I‘m getting out of the business. I‘m not too good at this.
And now, we‘ve got Kendrick Meek who‘s not doing well. Errol, let‘s talk about him in Florida. One of the really important states now:
Florida. He‘s fading down there. You got a wealthy self-financed, we had him on last night, who‘s challenging him and he got Charlie Crist really moving off to the left, getting labor support, teacher union support. Clearly, it seems to me—I‘ll just say clearly, I think that‘s what he‘s up to—going to organize with the Democrats if he wins.
That‘s a squeeze that these people are giving up. They‘re risking safe seats in the U.S. Congress, life seats, to run statewide and then getting whacked.
LOUIS: Well, it‘s a plausible thing to do with your career. You know, you may not want to sit around in the House for your whole life and be one of 435. He‘s going for it.
I‘ll tell you one thing, every state senator in this country, every lower level official, thinks that they can do what Obama did, or at least they‘re inspired by him, so he‘s taking a shot at it.
Now, you know, in the particulars in Florida politics, we know it‘s a divided state, sort of a hard nut to crack. Governor Crist, the sitting governor, is having problems over on the right; Kendrick Meek having some problems over on the left. It‘s a very independent state. It can go any which way.
LOUIS: And so, Meek who‘s got some other problems, you know, he‘s got a little mini-scandal that he‘s been tarred by, it‘s not clear how all of that is going to work. He‘s somebody I don‘t know if I would read all that much into it, to tell you the truth. I mean, you‘ve got a number of other candidates running and—
LOUIS: -- all around the country, and I think they‘re going to do considerably better than Kendrick Meek.
MATTHEWS: Errol, you‘ve raised my level of sophistication on this issue dramatically. Thank you for coming on. I never heard it put so positively at all these levels, like state senate leadership.
MFUME: Now, you know, Arthur Davis, that‘s a case study for political science for years to come because you don‘t run away from your base.
MATTHEWS: And his base virtually gave up on him.
MFUME: Absolutely. Tip O‘Neill used to always say politics is local. Translated means you take care of your base first. That‘s where your strength is.
MATTHEWS: -- went to the white candidate. And so, it happened down there (ph). It‘s been so sophisticated.
Thank you, Errol Louis.
LOUIS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Mfume.
MFUME: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with some thought about who the true winners will be in these 2010 midterms. I‘m going to make some predictions.
You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the news that this fall, no
matter what conditions prevail overall, there will be candidates who make
it through. I‘m speaking about the true winners in every campaign season -
those who not only run ahead of their parties but manage to win elections their party doesn‘t hope to win even in the best of seasons.
I think of Jack Kennedy coming to the Senate in 1952, a year that Republican Dwight Eisenhower was winning right across the country, including in Massachusetts. I think of Joe Biden coming to the Senate in 1972, a year that Democrat George McGovern was being crushed right across the country, including in Delaware.
Both Kennedy and Biden beat the Republican incumbent senators, both respected veterans who nobody had been able to beat before. They not only won in bad years, they beat opponents people had a hard time imagining losing.
There are five states this year where Republican Senate seats are up for grabs this November: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio. The Democrat who wins in those races will come into the Senate as a superstar. Watch those states because those are the place where we‘re going to see the real winners arise in 2010.
Why? Because if you can win in the worst possible year, if you can win in states where the other side has won before, you are somebody to watch for higher things.
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.
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