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updated 10/4/2010 11:36:05 AM ET 2010-10-04T15:36:05

Guests: Chris Cilizza, Brian Shactman, Robert Bazell, Tony Blair, David Corn, Clarence Page, Alex Wagner

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  I‘m Chris Matthews, and this is London.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I am Chris Matthews, of course, and I‘m glad to be coming to you from London, always wanted to say that, in the words of Edward R. Murrow.  I‘ve been traveling this week with Bill Clinton, trying to catch up what he‘s been doing as an ex-president.  It has been a phenomenal experience and we‘ll be giving it to you in an hour-long documentary.

Leading off tonight: Prime minister‘s question time.  Tony Blair formed half of that famous “special relationship” with Bill Clinton, and I asked the former British prime minister how Clinton was able to unite progressives in our country and also political centrists behind him, and why the Clinton brand has remained an enduring force in our politics and around the world.  My one-on-one interview with Tony Blair at the top of the show.

Plus, big trouble for Meg Whitman.  Now we find out that her husband knew that their housekeeper had immigration issues.  Whitman, Paladino and O‘Donnell—are some Republicans candidates this year just not ready for primetime?

And President Obama‘s at it again, urging young voters not to quit on him, this after taking a whack at his liberal supporters earlier in the week.  Is this like the coach blasting the team at halftime?  And will it win the game?

Also, a sad story about America came to light today when the U.S.  government apologized for intentionally infecting people down in Guatemala in the late 1940s with venereal disease.  A Wellesley professor researching the infamous Tuskegee experiments on African-American men made this discovery, and we‘ll talk to her about it tonight.

“Let Me Finish” tonight about what Bill Clinton told me about the upcoming election.

All that‘s ahead, but first the latest poll numbers in the hot races around the country.  Let‘s go to the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”  We‘ll start with that New York governor‘s race.  Democrat Andrew Cuomo now leads Republican Carl Paladino by 16 points in the latest Marist poll.  Paladino threatened the life of a New York reporter Wednesday night, raising a pretty basic question about that guy‘s fitness for office.

In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte is solidifying her lead over Democrat Paul Hodes.  Finally, to Alaska, in what may be a truer test for Senator Lisa Murkowski.  Republican Joe Miller leads with 43 percent right now.  Democrat Scott McAdams is at 28 percent.  Just 18 percent of respondents volunteered Murkowski‘s name.  Remember, she‘s running as a write-in candidate.  But when pollsters offered up Murkowski‘s name, her total jumped to 43 percent, Miller dropped down to 36 percent and McAdams was way behind at 14.  Well, the problem for Murkowski is that there will be no one in the booth yelling out the name Murkowski.

We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to election day.

Now my interview—this is going to be great, you‘re going to like this—my interview with former minister—prime minister of Great Britain, United Kingdom, Tony Blair, who‘s now the envoy in the Middle East talks on behalf of the U.N., the E.U., Russia, and us.  We spent a lot of time talking about Bill Clinton, and I began by asking him what makes the former president, Bill Clinton, such a dominant politician even today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I think he is the master of the trade, really.  I mean, I think he‘s the single most extraordinarily ept (ph) and confident politician I‘ve ever met.  And that‘s not because he‘s simply good at communicating, good at the art of politics.  It‘s because he‘s actually—and this is the thing I think people don‘t understand about him sufficiently—it‘s all anchored in what are, in fact, very strong and very well worked out convictions.

You know, people sometimes see him as, you know, the great communicator, but that‘s—you know, he was just a good politician, as it were.  He‘s not—he‘s got a core of beliefs that are very, very strong and that completely define where modern progressive politics has got to be if it‘s going to be successful.

MATTHEWS:  How did he tie together, and how does he tie together, this centrist-leaning liberalism, if you will?  Somehow, he‘s positioned himself close to the center but yet on the progressive side in the way that grabs the loyalty of working people, as we say in our country, working middle-class people?

BLAIR:  Because he—he understands people.  He‘s fascinated by people.  He‘s curious about people.  You know, I remember when he came to speak for me at the Labour Party Conference some years back in Blackpool, right, which is a very sort of strange, in a way, old seaside town in the U.K.  And we were supposed to meet him after he‘d spoken.

And we found him eventually down in the local McDonald‘s, you know, holding court with all the people of Blackpool who happened to be in there, a bit surprised to see Bill Clinton suddenly amongst them.  But talked—I mean, I wasn‘t there, but my people who went in to find him found him sitting there, talking with these people, literally as if he was their local councilor and had been for many, many years.  It was just an extraordinary thing!  So you see, he has got this ability, therefore, to feel where people are.

But here is the thing that‘s very interesting about him.  He‘s—he‘s got modern progressive politics.  He‘s got a framework that I sometimes describe in shorthand, in social terms, for what I will call the “tough on law and order pro-gay rights position.”

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BLAIR:  Right?  In other words, he understands that our generation and younger, they don‘t have these old prejudices that, frankly, my dad used to have and probably yours, too, and all the rest of it.  But they don‘t like people who beat up other people or misbehave or any of the rest of it.  In other words, they want rules but not prejudices.  And his ability to define that—and that‘s just an example—meant that he pitched the Democrats exactly where they needed to be.  So it‘s—

MATTHEWS:  People that work hard and play by the rules.

BLAIR:  Yes.  And it‘s a—it‘s born out of a complete understanding of the generation you lead.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that‘s because he comes from that background, sort of middle class, middle-middle-middle, not upper middle, sort of regular—regular person?

BLAIR:  Yes, but also because I think he‘s genuinely interested in people, you know, and that‘s what—a great politician is a politician and is always somebody who‘s genuinely interested in what makes people tick.  And sometimes—it‘s a funny thing in politics.  You meet politicians who are, you know, pretty successful and so on, but it‘s very much a game of calculation for them.  And you sometimes—and this is particularly so in progressive politics.  You come across politicians who love humanity in general, just don‘t like them in particular.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR:  You know?  Whereas the thing with—

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what we said about Woodrow Wilson, I think, didn‘t like anybody in particular.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR:  But the thing with Bill Clinton is he actually likes them in particular, too.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about his success among independents, on the last political point.  We have a new NBC poll that just came out the other night that showed that among Democrats, he‘s obviously very popular, but that‘s no surprise.  But among independents, who are the hardest people to reach in America because they don‘t really trust politicians, he‘s up something like 4 to 1.  He only has 1 in 6 independents who doesn‘t approve of him, which in today‘s environment, as you know, in the tough economy, is so rare.

BLAIR:  Yes, but you see, that‘s because his political position is dead center.  And it is a very modern political position.  So the old left would have said the answer to our problems is big state—

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BLAIR:  -- big government.  He doesn‘t.  He says, actually, we need to reinvent government, make it strategic, make it empowering.  The old left would have said, Look, we‘re with the unions, and business, they‘re kind of the people we have to deal with, but you know, we deal with them at arm‘s length.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BLAIR:  He understands completely that for a modern progressive to win, you‘ve got to have at least some part of business on your side.  So he just—he‘s got a set of positions that make people in the center ground very comfortable with him—

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BLAIR:  -- and they actually understand that he believes those positions.  I mean, they‘re not tactical maneuvers.

MATTHEWS:  By today‘s standards, it‘s almost uncanny how good he is.  Let me ask you about his position today.  It‘s hard to believe, but he‘s been out of office, not president, for 10 years now.  He‘s now into his second successive president after him.  And yet the other day up in Northern Ireland, we watched the people react to him.  I mean, not to put them down, but Robinson and McGinnis were ignored, the local political leaders of that country, of that part of the world, ignored while they all cheered Bill Clinton.  What is that endurance about, do you think, after all these years, 10 years?

BLAIR:  I think people like him.  I actually think they like him.  They feel comfortable with his personality, and they actually think he‘s—he‘s human—

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BLAIR:  -- and they think he‘s approachable and they think he‘s smart.  And that‘s a pretty rare combination, never mind in politics, in any walk of life.

MATTHEWS:  You called him a “brick” in your book.  By the way, I really like this book because it‘s the only politician—you are, sir—who actually talks about being a politician—

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  -- which is like you‘re not embarrassed by it.  But you talked about when you fought for Northern Ireland peace—and you really deserve, obviously, the major credit for bringing together two communities up there, the nationalists and the loyalist communities, the Protestant and the Catholic.  You brought them—you said during all that, you would call on President Clinton across the Atlantic and say, Can you help me on this, Can help me on that, Make this call?  And you called him a brick.  Now, I‘m told that‘s an old public school expression, private school expression over here.  What is a brick?

BLAIR:  It means a real solid help, support.

MATTHEWS:  Do people still talk like that here?

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR:  I don‘t—I think I must have lapsed into early 20th century!

MATTHEWS:  But (INAUDIBLE) said he was helpful to you?

BLAIR:  Yes.  He was—the thing about him in the Northern Ireland context was that, you know, obviously, although he was very interested in Northern Ireland, it‘s not his political back yard.  It was mine.  But the great thing about him was that—I used to call him and talk to him.  You never had to explain the politics beyond about one sentence.  The moment you gave him just the most general of contexts, he could go right to the nub of what the whole thing was about, work out why Gerry Adams might want to do this and David Trimble might want to do that.

And it was almost uncanny, this ability just to understand the politics of the situation almost instantaneously, and based on—you know, I mean, there he was, sat thousands of miles away.

MATTHEWS:  So let‘s talk about the toughest question, and that‘s the problem you‘re facing now, is representing the Quartet as part of these very difficult talks.  Sometimes I get very optimistic because I look at Bibi Netanyahu, who grew up near where I grew up in Philadelphia, who seems to be a really good politician who has to keep a very tough coalition together with the Shas party, the religious parties.  And yet he may want to be an historic figure.  And how do you nuance that?  How do you find your way with Mahmoud Abbas, obviously impatient with the Israeli decision to continue with the building of settlements?  How do you keep this going now?

BLAIR:  It‘s very frustrating right now because I believe, on the basis of, you know, many conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and of course, with President Abbas, both leaders, both sides genuinely want to make this work.  So if we can only get this negotiation moving along, I think it is a more real negotiation than any I can remember.  In other words, I think that if they come to an agreement, both of them are capable of selling it to each side of this conflict.

And you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu particularly, he‘s come back to office and after a long time period of time out of office, when I sit with him, as I often do, one thing is absolutely clear.  He didn‘t come back just to sit there at the prime minister‘s desk.  He‘s done that before.  He‘s come back to make a difference historically for his country.

Likewise, Mahmoud Abbas is a man who—actually pretty rarely in politics, he genuinely is prepared to walk away.  Genuinely.  In fact, sometime the worry is he will just walk away.  He‘s there because he wants to do this deal.  So if we could only get over this—this difficult impasse at the moment over the settlement question, I think and genuinely believe we‘ve got the best chance and hope in a generation for peace.

MATTHEWS:  Last question.  The Clinton brand, once again, it‘s at work here.  You have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the table representing the United States, really putting her head into this.  You know, this is a frontline issue where she is really, having been former senator from New York, a member of a big political family in the United States—she has a lot at stake here in the United States with the Jewish community, with people who care about Israel, and also people who really just want peace over there.  How do you see her role and how do you see the Clinton brand once again playing a role here?

BLAIR:  Well, I think there‘s enormous respect for the brand.  But I think there is actual respect for her personally, you know, quite apart from President Clinton.  And that‘s because people think—you see, she went and she paid her dues as a senator.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BLAIR:  Actually, people respected the campaign that she ran for the presidency.  They respect enormously the fact that having lost it, she didn‘t gripe about it.  She got behind President Obama and took on the role of being secretary of state.  And she is somebody who understands this issue.  You know, she‘s been in and around it and—

MATTHEWS:  Well, she knows the politics in America, too.

BLAIR:  Totally.  And she knows how, I think, she can make the politics between the Israeli and the Palestinian side work together and do it in a way that carries—which is important—carries American opinion with her.

MATTHEWS:  Are you still optimistic?

BLAIR:  I am still optimistic, but then I think I‘m a born optimist.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very, Mr. Blair.

BLAIR:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks for your time.

BLAIR:  Thanks, Chris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that interview with Prime Minister Tony Blair is part of a documentary we‘re working on about former Bill Clinton in his role as an ex-president.

Coming up: Meg Whitman looks to be in big trouble over an illegal housekeeper of hers.  Carl Paladino threatened the life of a reporter the other day and admits he doesn‘t have any evidence about his opponent‘s love affairs or whatever, even if they ever (INAUDIBLE) exist.  He‘s just talking, apparently.  And Christine O‘Donnell—boy, has she got an inflated resume.  She said she went to Oxford.  She didn‘t.  Are some of these people just not ready for primetime?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Remember the great Watergate reporter, Bob Woodward, said, “Follow the money”?  Well, the parent company of Fox News has made a second million-dollar campaign contribution to a Republican-leaning group.  News Corporation contributed the cash to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which aggressively backs Republican candidates.  Earlier this year, News Corp.  dished out another million dollars to the Republican Governors Association.

Most media companies make political donations, but they generally make them in smaller chunks and they tend to split them between both political parties.  Apparently, Fox does not.

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  California‘s Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, is in hot water now.  It looks like her husband was alerted to the possibility that their housekeeper was an illegal immigrant.  Yesterday, Whitman said that if the Social Security administration ever sent her a letter requesting information on her housekeeper, the housekeeper must have intercepted it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEG WHITMAN ®, CALIFORNIA SENATE CANDIDATE:  Neither my husband nor I received any letter from the Social Security Administration.  And if there is a letter out there, I don‘t know how they got it.  We never saw the letter.  Nicky did bring in our mail and sort the mail.  If she had gotten a letter two weeks before alerting her to a problem and saying, We‘re going to alert your employer, she might have been on a lookout for that letter.  I mean, it pains me to say that because, gosh, that‘s not the Nicky I knew.  So gosh, it would pain me to believe that that‘s what she had done, but I have no other explanation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know.  The housekeeper‘s attorney, Gloria Allred, unveiled a letter yesterday which showed a scribbled note that she says was written—handwritten by Whitman‘s husband.  There‘s the handwriting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA ALLRED, NICKY SANTILLAN‘S ATTORNEY:  Meg Whitman and her husband deny receiving the letter, but please look at the bottom of the letter. 

On it, Dr. Harsh has written, quote, “Nicky, please check this. 

Thanks,” end quote.

Nicky recognizes this as Dr. Harsh‘s writing, since he wrote her many notes.  He wrote this on the letter, and then gave it to Nicky. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the revelation prompted Whitman‘s husband, then, Dr.  Griff Harsh, to release a statement that reads in part—quote—“While I honestly do not recall receiving this letter, as it was sent to me seven years ago, I can say it a possible that I would have scratched a follow-up note on a letter like this.”

Well, did Meg Whitman knowingly employ an illegal immigrant?  It looks like the family knew something was a problem.

Chris Cillizza is with “The Washington Post,” and he‘s an MSNBC political analyst.  And David Corn is a Washington—is the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”  He‘s also a contributing—a contributor to PoliticsDaily.com. 

I want to start with you, David Corn.  I don‘t see any way this doesn‘t hurt Whitman, because she‘s running as this knowledgeable businesswoman who‘s competent, got her affairs together, well-organized. 

And here she is covering up for what looks to be a way to save money by hiring somebody in the country illegally, the usual game that so many people play in this country, and trying to deny the obvious fact that she was hiring this person illegally.  Her husband made the marks on it.  He‘s not denying it.  That letter was from his—that statement was cleverly written. 

He‘s admitting he signed off on that letter.  What do you make of this? 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”:  It‘s hard to believe that if a couple had a housekeeper they liked and there was a problem, one spouse wouldn‘t tell the other at some point. 

They would say, I‘m taking care of it, don‘t worry about it, but there would be some knowledge passed.  I mean, Meg Whitman has spent about $150 million so far and she still hasn‘t really sold her story to the voters of California.  So, this, you know, can‘t help, and maybe will distract from the next $150 million she‘s going to be spending on campaign ads. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You have to ask, Chris, why, if she‘s a good Democrat, why

a good person, I should say, a compassionate person, why years ago, when she realized the person working for her who she said she is affectionate toward, didn‘t peel off a few of those 150 million bucks she has to spend to get her an immigration lawyer and help her out. 

Why was she so callous as to have her husband just sign a note saying, take care of this, Nicky? 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I still think, Chris, that -

well, let‘s say this.  Meg Whitman is trying to turn it into a she said vs. she said.  I think you can argue—I think the note doesn‘t help.  The husband coming out and saying, well, I may have written that, is not helpful. 

But one thing you didn‘t mention in the context of California politics, Meg Whitman moved very hard to the right on illegal immigration during the primary to win the primary.  She was supposed to win by a lot.  It narrowed because she was being attacked on immigration.  She moved to the right, which I do not think she wanted to do. 

This brings that up again.  Remember, the Hispanic vote, a very powerful bloc of voters in California.  She doesn‘t want to be re-litigating this out a month essentially before the election.  So, whether she‘s right or wrong morally, she‘s clearly wrong politically right now. 

She wants to be talking about anything other than this.  And this has already been basically a weeklong story. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

CILLIZZA:  And I think it‘s probably going to go into next week. 

There‘s no reason to think it‘s going to stop now. 

CORN:  This isn‘t going away.  You‘re right, Chris.   

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  No, I was just saying, Chris is right.

MATTHEWS:  People love to find out what the person is really like.  They want to know what‘s happening, the real story about a person, not the stuff that they pay speechwriters to write for them and ad men to write for them.

This—they want the real story on a person.  This is how she does business.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA:  Chris, can I just say—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, go ahead.  Last word.  Last word. 

CILLIZZA:  Can I say very, very quickly, it‘s more dangerous for Whitman even than some other candidate because of her wealth. 

Wealthy candidates struggle to say, OK, I may be a billionaire, but I understand the concerns of the average working person.  Because she‘s so wealthy, it‘s even a bigger hurdle that she has to clear, to your point.  Sorry to interrupt.

CORN:  She could have taken care of this.  That‘s the thing.  You get a note from immigration, you have the ability to deal with it in one way or the other.  But they didn‘t seem to do that.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Here‘s part of a confrontation the other day between Carl Paladino, who is running for governor of New York, and Fred Dicker of “The New York Post,” who is on the show all the time.

It happened Wednesday night, where Dicker is asking him about, hey, show me the evidence you got about Andrew Cuomo and his personal life.  Show me what you‘re talking about.  Here it is.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have any evidence or do you not?  

(CROSSTALK)

CARL PALADINO ®, NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  I will appropriate—at the appropriate time, you are going to hear it.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s got three daughters.  How can you say that about him?

(CROSSTALK)

PALADINO:  Oh, I have a daughter, too, Fred.  I have a daughter. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You brought it out, Fred.  That‘s it.  That‘s it.

PALADINO:  Stay away from me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The heck with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What evidence do you have? 

PALADINO:  Listen—

(CROSSTALK)

PALADINO:  Did you send one of your goons after my daughter?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, guys, easy, come on. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t touch me.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who are you?  Who the hell are you?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have any evidence for the charge you made? 

PALADINO:  At the appropriate time, you will get it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Do you like the body guys defending him there, the bruiser that came in?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Where do these guys come from? 

Anyway, Paladino told today‘s “Buffalo News” that he‘s not accusing Cuomo of having extramarital affairs.  He said: “I‘m sick and tired of people asking me about if I have had affairs.  I was talking to a reporter and said, ‘Why don‘t you ask Andrew Cuomo about this stuff‘?”

Anyway, he‘s denying That he‘s charging her—with it, but this continues.  He‘s still pushing the story.  What do you make of this, that he‘s saying, I‘m going to bring it out at an appropriate time?  What is this appropriate time? 

Here‘s what Paladino said on FOX just a few hours ago when asked whether he had any proof of any misbehavior by Cuomo.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALADINO:  We will at the appropriate time, OK, say whatever we have in our—in our box at the appropriate time, yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, you‘re not backing off that allegation?  It is—you do believe that Andrew Cuomo has had or did have extramarital affairs when he was married? 

(CROSSTALK)

PALADINO:  What I believe and what is factual out there, we will at the appropriate time put out, yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I don‘t think Roger Ailes is behind Paladino. 

Just guessing, Chris Cillizza.  I don‘t think he‘s a favorite or FOX or anybody.  What‘s he got in his box?  He‘s talking about he has got some box somewhere with dirt on his opponents.  What‘s this box he has? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is this one of these lockboxes?

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA:  Is this a Pandora‘s box? 

(LAUGHTER)

CILLIZZA:  I mean, you know, look, Chris, this is what—to be honest, this is what the Republican establishment, much-maligned Republican establishment—in this election, the Tea Party‘s beaten them in a lot of places.  This is exactly what they were worried about in New York. 

This is why they tried to recruit a Democrat to run in the gubernatorial race, a guy named Steve Levy.  This is why they were, at least ostensibly, behind Rick Lazio, because they knew Paladino was going to do this. 

(CROSSTALK)

CORN:  Yes.  He‘s becoming the Joe Pesci candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  This is a strange crowd.

(LAUGHTER)

CILLIZZA:  The Joe Pesci candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We will pull back on that.  That‘s your comment, Dave, not mine. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me just say this.  This guy is making charges and saying things like, I have got some dirt in my box here.  I‘m going to release it at the appropriate time. 

What kind of talk is this, I‘m going to take you out, I have got some dirt on you in my box?  This guy is running for—for Franklin Roosevelt‘s old job.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA:  You got to love New York politics, rough and tumble. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not accusing any state of being this bad.

Anyway, thanks, Chris Cillizza.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Corn. 

(LAUGHTER)

CORN:  Thanks, Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  Forget the Pesci references, will you?  They‘re dangerous.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next: more right-wing hysteria.  A Republican congressman says a campaign by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, to get Americans to eat healthy is somehow—you will love it—socialism, that word again.  There you have it.  It‘s socialism.  They‘re trying to make us a little healthy by our own food decisions.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  And now to the “Sideshow.” 

First up:  The food police are coming.  That was the rallying cry of Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia at a town hall last month.  Here‘s Broun describing what he calls the big problems going on in Washington today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA:  They will get all power of the federal government to force you to eat more fruits and vegetables.  That is what the federal CDC—they‘re going to be calling people to find out how many fruits and vegetables you eat a day.  This is socialism of the highest order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we got trouble in River City, socialism of the highest order. 

Well, the fact is, the Centers for Disease Control does do nutritional surveys via the telephone.  But this hardly constitutes socialism of the highest order.  They‘re just asking what people are eating, so they‘re trying to get people to start maybe eating better food. 

Next: another round of science vs. the GOP.  Senator Russ Feingold‘s Republican challenger, millionaire—billionaire businessman Ron Johnson, just told the Associated Press he believes global warming is unproven. 

Well, the quote is—or, rather, his quote is: “The point is, because we‘re not certain, because it‘s not proven, the last thing we should do is penalize our economy.  The science of global warming is unproven.  It just is.”

Well, there‘s tremendous evidence that human behavior, CO2 emissions are driving up greenhouse gases and thereby creating wild changes in the climate globally.  People who oppose it refuse to deal with the science and the evidence because they don‘t want to face the consequences. 

Ron Johnson is selling the happy days position because it sells to people who don‘t deep down care about what they‘re doing to the future of the planet.  In the 1960s, we called these folks pigs. 

Up next:  President Obama is turning up the heat on his base, urging young voters not to quit on him.  Will the president get his core supporters to the polls for next month‘s midterms?  And is criticizing the base the best way to get them excited positively?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks hanging on to modest gains to close out the week, the Dow Jones industrial climbing 41 points, the S&P 500 adding five, and the Nasdaq tacking on two points. 

Investors reacting to some encouraging economic reports at home and overseas.  First, here at home, personal spending rose more than expected in August, while incomes jumped by the largest amount in eight months. 

Consumer sentiment also on the rise, but still at its weakest levels in more than a year.

Construction spending getting a boost as well, thanks to an increase in public building. 

All the major automakers delivering better-than-expected September sales reports, Ford sales, specifically, climbing an impressive 46 percent compared to last year. 

Now, overseas, China‘s manufacturing sector gained momentum last month, anticipating increasing demand. 

And in stocks, H.P., Hewlett-Packard, their shares sagged after its new CEO failed to win investor confidence during its analyst call. 

But children‘s clothing retailer Gymboree skyrocketed in the markets today on a report that it may be up for sale. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The biggest mistake we could make is to let impatience or frustration lead to apathy and indifference, because that guarantees the other side wins. 

And, if they do win, they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led us into this recession in the first place, the same policies that left middle-class families behind for more than a decade, the same policies you fought hard to change in 2008. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  That was President Obama last night at a fund-raiser in Washington.  He‘s out there trying to rally the base. 

Is he hitting the right notes? 

Well, Clarence Page is a syndicated columnist for “The Chicago Tribune,” and Alex Wagner covers the White House for PoliticsDaily.com. 

Both of you, why don‘t you watch the president?  Here‘s a couple more of those SOTs, as we call them.  First of all, here‘s a—something he said last night at a political fund-raiser last night.  Let‘s listen to the president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Now is not the time to quit.  Now‘s not the time to give up. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  We have been through worse as a nation.  We have come out stronger from war, to depression, to the great struggles for equal rights and civil rights. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  It took time to free the slaves.  It took time for women to get the vote.  It took time for workers to get the right to organize.

But, if we stay on focus, if we stay on course, then, ultimately, we will make progress.  It takes time.  Progress takes sacrifice.  Progress takes faith.  But progress comes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And here‘s the president on Tuesday in Wisconsin at Madison, that great university out there.  Let‘s listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  You know, the slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs, they weren‘t sure of when slavery would end, but they understood it was going to end. 

When women were out there marching for the right to vote, they weren‘t sure when it was going to happen, but they kept on going. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  When workers were organizing for the right to organize, and were being intimidated, they weren‘t sure when change was going to come, but they knew it was going to come. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  And I am telling you, Wisconsin, we are bringing about change, and progress is going to come, but you have got to stick with me.  You can‘t lose heart. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Clarence, that seems like the black church version of stay the course that Reagan used to say all the time, very, very emotional, very much from the pulpit, almost religious. 

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  True.  True.

And I think, you know, Reagan was very effective at pushing that message.  I think President Obama would be more effective if he hadn‘t waited so late, so close to election time, to preaching the message. 

And also, what he‘s trying to do here is to take this current moment and put it in the context of other great historic moments.  That‘s not something that he‘s really done before in the same kind of way.  I mean, he‘s not really talking about health care and financial reform.  Those aren‘t as sexy of a type of topic as the civil rights revolution, the women‘s rights revolution, the women‘s right to vote, et cetera.  He‘s trying to put those together now.  I don‘t know that it‘s altogether working, though.

           

MATTHEWS:  But, you know, it‘s almost like King, you know, Dr. King.  I‘ve seen the Promised Land.  We‘re, you know, we‘re not going to quite make it there yet, but do you think it—what is the story on this president, if you watch him?  Is he that emotional of jeremiad figure there or is he a cool Ivy Leaguer?  Which—is he both or is he really the Ivy Leaguer now acting like the passionairio?

PAGE:  Well, he‘s a thoughtful man.  You know, he—he‘s one who thinks about issues, thinks about what is going on.  But he also knows how to get to the podium and really be inspirational when the moment comes.  When he used his civil rights references during the campaign, I think it worked more effectively than it‘s working right now, and part of it is because of the timing.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Alex on this question this week has come up, and I‘m not sure it‘s a real question.  Sometimes I think critics on the right gin up these fights on the left.  Maybe it is a fight.

Is there a sense he‘s yelling at the choir?  People that are already looking out for him, already are going to vote, are going to show up, and he‘s taking whacks at the left?  Is this a real problem of intramurals within the center-left coalition or not?

           

ALEX WAGNER, POLITICSDAILY.COM:  Well, you know, Chris, I think there are two strategies here.  The comments that he made about civil rights and the suffragist movement, those are really targeted to younger voters, millennial voters as they‘re called, who turned out in huge numbers for him for 2008.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

WAGNER:  I mean, they voted -- 66 percent of them voted for him.  His metrics with him are still very high.  As of June, he had a 55 percent approval rating with them.

I think the stuff with the “Professional Left” has to be separated.  And, you know, certainly, Robert Gibbs with—you know, on record with “The Hill” newspaper saying that he thought the “Professional Left” had turned into a bunch of peace neck hippies who needed a drug test and wouldn‘t be happy until the Pentagon was dismantled.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

WAGNER:  But, you know, Bill Burton this week said folks like, you know, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow were providing an invaluable service in keeping the country honest.  So, I think, you know, every time they make a miss at this, they sort of try to double back.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, interesting.

Let‘s look at something Bill Clinton said to me because he‘s the master at this center-left coalition maintenance, if you will.  He kept it together.

Clarence, you‘re laughing.  Let‘s take a look at this.  I want to know why you‘re laughing.

Go ahead.  Let‘s go.  Here‘s Bill Clinton the other day with me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  It‘s worth reminding Americans that every election is a choice.  If you have to run against the ideal, if it‘s a referendum, every one of us will get beat.  Nobody would get elected.  We‘d have nobody in office because there‘s no such thing as the perfect public servant.  Every—the choices you make in politics are like the choices you make in life.  You look at the facts as best you can, and you make the best available choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Clarence, I‘ve had some amazing conversations with the former president the last couple days over here in Ireland, especially last night.  And I have to tell you, he‘s thinking a lot about this election.  And I think he‘s rooting for the president.

The question is, how do you put that sort of moxie to work?  How do you get the middle, not to think you‘re a socialist, and yet to get the people who are pretty far-left who do like the public option and things like that—how do you keep them on the same team?

PAGE:  Well, Bill Clinton has been through this before, of course.  He had a big midterm loss there in ‘94 where Democrats lost both the House and the Senate.  But they benefited in the long run because of those contrasts that were being drawn.  After Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Republican leadership took over Congress, he drew those contrasts.

They had their clashes, even had two government shutdowns.  And in both cases, polls showed that Bill Clinton won as far as when the public was given a choice between which leadership they preferred on those issues.  And then in ‘96, Bill Clinton had a landslide re-election.

So, I wonder sometimes if the Obama White House isn‘t thinking past these midterms already.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the big question about today‘s transition in chief of staff.

Alex, I don‘t know you very well.  I‘m just getting to meet you on this program really.  But I want to ask you about your political moxie on this thing.  Not bringing in a heavyweight from outside, not expanding a circle which has been accused of being very insular around the president, basically the old Chicago crowd, losing the Chicago chief of staff to the mayor‘s race, Rahm Emanuel, bringing up a guy he‘s had on inside, Pete Rouse, who‘s, you know, a Hill guy.

Is this growing?  Is there just atrophying?  Is there a sign of life in this administration, in this transition or a failure to grow?  Let‘s be tough here.

WAGNER:  Well, you know, yes, if we‘re talking about atrophying, Rahm is the muscle of all muscles, right?  I mean, this is the guy that sort of went into every meet with fist to cuffs.  Pete Rouse owns two cats and, you know, lives a presumably quiet life.

That said, the future for the Dems may be somewhat dicey and they may need someone that‘s more of a mediator.  You know, as President Obama himself, said, this guy is, quote, “egoless.”  I mean—and, in fact, that may be what the White House needs going into 2010, 2011 and 2012.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  They need a dog owner.

Last thought, Clarence, do you like that distinction?  Cat owners are not the strongest leaders you want here?  I don‘t know of that.  Maybe things a woman to say that kind of stuff.

What do you think, Clarence?  I don‘t about that theory.  Go ahead.

PAGE:  I remember a poll a long time ago that showed some liberals were—had more cat owners and conservatives had more dog owners.  I don‘t know if it‘s the same political significance to that or not.  But the main thing is that the new chief of staff, whether he‘s interim or permanent, he is a guy who gets things done, avoids press interviews.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I want to talk to you more about this.

PAGE:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s talk -- (INAUDIBLE), thank you, well said. 

Thank you—I think it was.  It sounded nasty to me, though.

Clarence Page, thank you, Mr. Chicago.

And thank you, Alex Wagner.  Welcome to the program.  We‘ll have you back many times.

Up next:  the U.S. government apologized today for a medical study—they ought to apologize for this.  This makes me feel bad as an American.  I think all of us feel bad about this.

Sixty years ago, the American medical researchers intentionally infected prisoners in Guatemala and people in insane asylums with syphilis and gonorrhea.  They did it on purpose so they could test penicillin as a preventative.

We‘re going to get to that in a moment, about the apology and about this bad thing we did.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  Really bad thing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s an update on that terrible story we reported about the anti-gay insult posted on a blog that was traced back to the office of Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.  Well, the Senate sergeant-at-arms has finished his investigation and an aide to Senator Chambliss has been fired.  The aide‘s name was not released.  I‘m sure we‘ll find who it is.  No criminal charges will be filed.

Senator Chambliss apologized to the author of the blog site which discusses the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”

HARDBALL back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  It‘s tragic, and the

United States by all means apologizes to all of those that were impacted by

by this.

           

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the news about that in 1940s, it was actually 1946 to 1948, the United States government researchers deliberately injected Guatemalans down in that country with sexually transmitted disease from medical study.

President Clinton called the president of Guatemalan today.  Actually, it wasn‘t him, it was the Secretary Clinton who called and apologized.  President Obama did the apologies to all those affected.

Robert Bazell is NBC News chief health and science correspondent.

Robert, thank you for this.  You know it despirits me.  I love this country.  And when I hear done these things like to Tuskegee, you got to—

I guess you have to wonder about the mindset of people thinking that these third world people in a poor country are not worthy looking out for, going to check them for syphilis or gonorrhea, see what happens, maybe this penicillin will work as prophylactic or whatever.

What‘s your—how does this fit in the context of medical research?

ROBERT BAZELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF HEALTH CORRESPONDENT:  It fits into the context of human behavior in this society.  We—you mentioned Tuskegee.  Tuskegee went on for four decades until the press revealed it 1972.  It was on African-American men who had been infected naturally, but they were told they were being treated for syphilis and they weren‘t.  This was on Guatemalans for two years until they just ran out of money and stopped the project.

But in both cases, it‘s racism.  It‘s thinking that other people can be research subjects because they‘re lesser of human beings than we are, and was racism in Alabama in Tuskegee.  And this was kind of medical imperialism in Guatemala.  And because the surgeon general of the United States at the time is quoted in one of the papers of this historian found revealing, the surgeon general said we sure couldn‘t be doing this study in this country.

So, they knew that they were doing something wrong.  They knew they were violating their Hippocratic Oath.  But they thought that it was all in justified in the name of protecting people from sexually transmitted diseases who are more worthy than these poor Guatemalans.

MATTHEWS:  You know, they were spreading—you know, when you get the anecdotal information about it, that they were spreading this disease.  They had these sex workers, prostitutes who are actually spreading gonorrhea and syphilis around, it seemed like they weren‘t even concerned it was viral by its nature, it just was going to keep spreading.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It wasn‘t even a controlled experiment.

BAZELL:  It wasn‘t a controlled experiment.  They wanted to find out if penicillin could stop it from being—not only treat it but been given prophylactically to these people to stop the spread.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BAZELL:  And they were trying to find out a bunch of other things.

But the point is, yes, when you read the details of this, it‘s utterly gruesome.  They grew the syphilis spirochete bacteria in a laboratory down in Staten Island, flew it down to Guatemala City and put it in people in their skin, in their genitals and even into their spines to see what would happen when they—and then went on and either infected other people or just watched the natural course of the disease and these people.

It really couldn‘t be much worse, and that‘s why it‘s such big news even though it happened more than 60 years ago.  And that‘s why the administration today called on the Institute of Medicine—

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BAZELL:  -- which is a prestigious group, to really thoroughly study this and find out if there is anything else going to in the world right now that might be just as bad that we have to think about.

MATTHEWS:  Think about it, this is after Mengele, this after the Nazi experiments like this, the horrors to that.

BAZELL:  Absolutely.  Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And good guys, after winning that war and shutting that down, I don‘t know how these people were thinking or they weren‘t caring.

Anyway, thank you Robert Bazell.  It‘s great to have you, to help us on this.

When we return, let me finish with something former President Bill Clinton said the other day to me and we showed it last night.  I want to get in to some of the things he said about how you reach voters in a very difficult time to get them to think, not just react.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a thought I got over here from former President Bill Clinton.  It‘s about the election coming up at home.  It‘s about the effort by the Republicans to turn this election into the complaint desk.  It‘s simple, they say, if you don‘t like the current state of the economy, vote against the Democrats.

Bill Clinton says people should look at the November balloting with better street smarts.  The voters should figure out which party, which candidates, has the best ideas right now and the best track record in the past to eventually get the economy improved.

Look at what the Democrats are trying to do, what they did under Clinton back in the ‘90s in creating jobs and improving incomes of those at lower end especially.  Look at the weak job the Republicans did under George W. Bush on both job creation and income levels.

In other words, make a choice.  That‘s the question on the ballot every two years for Congress, every four years for president.  Who do you trust to do the job for you?  Which party has the record, the people, the brains and the heart to look out for people like you?

Well, if you vote for the Democrats this time, you‘re saying, I think they were faced with a tough, even scary situation when they came into office last year.  I think they did what smart economics says to do when they got there.

If you vote Tea Party Republican this time, you must believe that it really would have been better, shrewder, to simply ride out the horror we saw coming in late 2009.

Well, this is the choice that Bill Clinton, the former president, thinks that the thinking person should honestly confront this November and then walk into the voting booth and courageously act on it.  Well, it may lack the emotional kick you get from punching the whole political system in the chin, but it has the clear advantage of making a smart investment in your country in a time when this country needs, most of all, smart thinking and courageous action following it up.

Bill Clinton admits that he‘s making the case that‘s good for his party.  It‘s nonetheless a reasonable argument to make.

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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