Guests: Joy-Ann Reid, Alex Wagner, Steve McMahon, Rex Elsass, Paul Farhi
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: GOTV, get out the vote.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Keeping hope alive. If the Democrats are to avoid a Republican landslide, they‘re going to have to inspire some of the people who put President Obama into office to now get out and vote again this year. They‘ve got to keep alive that political network that drove millions of people to the polls in ‘08.
That means first-time voters, African-Americans, women, progressives, who‘ve been less enthusiastic than their angrier, older, whiter, more Republican counterparts. This afternoon, the president held a town meeting on MTV, BET and Country Music Television, making the case that voting is not something you do just in leap years. Is it going to move people?
Also, can Christine O‘Donnell‘s smile and upbeat personality and blithe enthusiasm close the gap with Chris Coons? Let‘s check out that debate that happened just last night, also get a bead on the Harry Reid head-to-head with Sharron Angle that‘s coming tonight, and while we‘re at it, scan the Senate map coast to coast two-and-a-half weeks before election day.
And it‘s come to this. One candidate is actually accusing his opponent of wanting to kill puppies and kittens, gas them by the dozens. It‘s raining cats and dogs in the nasty campaign ad wars.
Plus, the good friend that Dick Cheney accidentally shot in the face is speaking out now, and now we learn that he and Cheney weren‘t such good friends at all, he was in much worse shape than we know, and that Cheney, for whatever reason, has yet to apologize to the gentleman.
And finally, what a “View.” It‘s not often you see this, two hosts of “The View” getting up and—there they are—walking off the set in the middle of a debate. What did Bill O‘Reilly say that got them blasted out of their seats? That‘s Bill in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.” That‘s where we got him tonight.
All that‘s ahead. First, the latest polls in hot races around the country. Let‘s go the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.” We‘ll start with Nevada. Two new polls show a very close race now. A new “Las Vegas Review Journal” Mason-Dixon poll has Republican Sharron Angle now up 2 over Senate majority leader Harry Reid. That‘s 47 to 45, still some undecideds there. And a new Suffolk poll has Reid up 3 over Angle—wow, that‘s different -- 46-43. Reid and Angle debate is tonight. Boy, is that close.
Now to Connecticut, where Quinnipiac‘s new poll shows Democrat Dick Blumenthal, the attorney general, leading wrestling maven Linda McMahon by 11. Blumenthal‘s lead was 3 in the same poll last month. He is gaining, for whatever reason.
We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to election day.
Now to President Obama‘s MTV town hall event. Joy-Ann Reid is a political columnist for “The Miami Herald” and a contributor to TheGrio Web site. And Alex Wagner‘s the White House correspondent for Politicsdaily.com.
I‘m going to start with you, Alex. Was there something new or fascinating in what the president had to said to the young folk today?
ALEX WAGNER, POLITICSDAILY.COM: No, is the short answer on that, Chris.
WAGNER: You know, I was looking back through some of the old 2008 presidential campaign messages that he had out there, and it was really poetry in motion, you know, I mean, just the language, the rhetoric, the sense of soaring possibility. And you know, he‘s trying to gin up the youth base at this point, and there‘s a dearth of that, to say the least. The MTV town hall today was very long on legislative accomplishments that the president has succeeded in winning in the last 20 months, but it was short on enthusiasm and definitely short on that sort of—that—that momentum and that enthusiasm that he had as a candidate in ‘08.
MATTHEWS: What were the crowds like? I‘m not sure you answered that question fully. Were the crowds enthusiastic or just supportive in a kind of a polite way? How would you describe their reaction to him?
WAGNER: Well, you know, MTV apparently did a casting call to get the folks that they had in the audience today. And it was subdued. You sensed that these were very well rehearsed questions. They sort of went to, you know, questions on health care, immigration, the economy, and they had very rehearsed answers from the president. So in terms of excitement in the room and a sense of buzz --
WAGNER: -- I didn‘t—I didn‘t sense that.
MATTHEWS: No buzz. Well, let‘s go. Here‘s President Obama when asked whether he thinks—well, here‘s an interesting question—whether he thinks people are born gay or whether they choose to be gay. I thought we were past that one now. But let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear President Obama, do you think being gay or trans is a choice?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t profess to be an expert. This is a layperson‘s opinion. But I don‘t think it‘s a choice. I think that people are born with, you know, a certain make-up. And we‘re all children of God. We don‘t make determinations about who we love. And that‘s why I think that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s my view. Let me go to Alex Wagner on that. That kind of answer, I think, will work with a younger audience. I think older, more traditional people who have been talked to by people like Trent Lott, the former Republican leader, who keep talking about it like it‘s Coke or Pepsi, you know, like we made our choice in the Lionel Richie song, have a certain different view completely about something that seems to me common sense. But that answer, how‘s it going to work?
WAGNER: Did you want to go to me or Joy-Ann?
JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM, “MIAMI HERALD”: Oh, I‘m sorry. OK. Yes, I think, you know—yes, I think that young people definitely have a lot more liberal attitude toward things like, you know, gay marriage or “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” or gays in the—you know, gays in the military, et cetera. So I think that Barack Obama is speaking to that sort of real cultural difference. And I think that is the way he is different.
You know, a lot of people compare Barack Obama, let‘s say, to a John F. Kennedy, but if you look at a Kennedy, you know, he didn‘t represent a huge cultural change from, let‘s say, the World War II generation because he fought in World War II. He had some of the same --
REID: -- cultural values, whereas Obama or really Bill Clinton, they kind of represent that total sea change culturally and even racially and ethnically that we‘re seeing at play in these elections this year, where you have an older, sort of whiter electorate that is more traditional, and where Obama kind of speaks to the younger generation. They have a completely different cultural background to their parents and grandparents.
MATTHEWS: You are so right!
MATTHEWS: I really—I mean, it‘s not my job to say you‘re right or wrong, but it certainly synchs with everything I believe. I think Bill Clinton was the first of this new breed of presidents --
MATTHEWS: -- and I think that Obama‘s another one, basically, post-World War II --
MATTHEWS: They didn‘t fight in World War II, unlike all their predecessors. They didn‘t have that sort of—you know, the big band sound, the sort of white America mentality, the straight America, at least on the surface, imagery of the country, self-imagery.
MATTHEWS: Alex—and I think the question is—to you again. Here he is, the president. Let‘s ask—he was asked here about ending the military‘s—again, a sexual question, orientation question—ending “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell.” Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The difference between my position right now and Harry Truman‘s was that Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally. So this is not a situation in which, with a stroke of a pen, I can simply end the policy.
I agree with the basic principle that anybody who wants to serve in our armed forces and make sacrifices on our behalf, on behalf of our national security—anybody should be able to serve, and they shouldn‘t have to lie about who they are in order to serve.
And so we are moving in the direction of ending this policy. It has to be done in a way that is orderly because we are involved in a war right now. But this is not a question of whether the policy will end. This policy will end and it will end on my watch, but I do have an obligation to make sure that I‘m following some of the rules. I can‘t simply ignore laws that are out there. I‘ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Alex, I guess back to you on the question—I want to get to this question of racial—the racial climate in the country. It seems to be deteriorating among the communities in this country. But Alex, it seems to me the question is right there. You saw those people. They‘re very attentive, very respectful. That wasn‘t an army ready to march, though, was it.
WAGNER: Not at all. And I think—you know, he got another question later on about race relations in the country in the wake of the Arizona immigration law and the Ground Zero Islamic center controversy, and he sort of—he had, I mean, for lack of a better term, sort of a mealy-mouthed answer to that, which was, effectively, the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice, and you know, we‘re making progress slowly, slowly.
I think for—for a group of voters who wants—who wants to see social change and has enthusiasm for social issues, that‘s not—I mean, that‘s not—that‘s not going to put the spring in their step on (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Let‘s get to the answer he gave. Here‘s the question about the racial climate and the president‘s response. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: -- make progress on race relations in fits and starts, and we make some progress and then there‘s maybe some slippage. Oftentimes, misunderstandings and antagonisms surfaces most strongly when economic times are tough. And that‘s not surprising. You know, if everybody‘s working and feeling good and making money and buying a new house and a big-screen TV, you‘re less worried about what other folks are doing. And when you‘re out of work and you can‘t buy a home or you‘ve lost your home and you‘re worried about paying your bills, then you become more worried about what folks are doing.
And sometimes that organizes itself around kind of a tribal attitude and issues of race become more prominent. Having said that, I think we‘ve got keep things in perspective. You look at this audience—this audience just didn‘t exist 20 years ago. You know, the amount of interaction, the amount of understanding that exists in your generation among people of different races and different creeds and different colors is unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s all true, but let me go to you, Joanne—Joy-Ann. It seems to me the question here is animation --
MATTHEWS: -- and interaction. He used the word “interaction” in a different way, but you know, back in the campaign I covered—I was probably as thrilled and as inspired as—I‘ve been made fun of for saying it—physically thrilled by some of the speeches he gave because it was about America. He‘s not talking about America anymore. He‘s not talking about this country we love and the way it moves things and makes things happen different than anywhere—the American exceptionalism, if you will.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not in—it‘s not in his vocabulary anymore. He‘s
talking about programs. He‘s talking about “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” issues
he‘s talking about issues instead of America. He was much more interactive. I look at that audience, they look like a tableau, like we‘re at Madam Toussaud‘s or something. Everybody‘s sitting there neatly, like young Julie and David Eisenhower used to sit somewhere. I mean, everybody‘s well turned out. Well, there they get active. Well, they would do that to me now.
The fact of the matter is, you look at a heated-up Tea Party meeting, they‘re jumping out of their seats, these old folks. They‘re middle-aged and they‘re older and they‘re jumping around, they‘re animated. They‘re yelling back and forth. Your thoughts. It‘s a different crowd. It‘s a different crowd.
REID: Yes, no, it‘s a different crowd. I was—I was smiling when it was going on when I was listening to it because it kind of sounded like a college class. Like, I could see myself back in college, taking a class from this guy. He really comes across very much like your—you know, your favorite college professor.
And you‘re right. I think this just really shows you the gulf between campaigning and governing and how it‘s a lot easier to sell that message of “Yes, we can.” I mean, that speech that he gave really—the New Hampshire speech was so brilliant, you know, that it was hard not to be thrilled by it for people who—whether they were for Obama or not.
REID: But when you‘re actually governing, you can‘t sell that same message of absolute possibility the second time around. This is two years later, when people have seen two years of sausage making, two years of what the process is really like. And I think a lot of people figure, Wow, if we sent this guy to Washington and he can‘t change it—that‘s the reason why a lot of people feel demoralized and a lot of young people do. They still like him. He is still doing very well in the polls with younger people --
REID: -- but it‘s hard to inspire the same kind of hope and possibility --
REID: -- because they‘ve seen the reality, and that‘s where he is.
MATTHEWS: Well, check out Franklin Roosevelt‘s speech in ‘36, the second time he ran. I think he still had it. Anyway, thank you, Joy-Ann Reid and thank you, Alex Wagner, for joining us.
WAGNER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Democrats seem to be getting some momentum in some key Senate races around the country. We‘re going look at them. We‘re going to check into where things stand in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate, which is really where the battle lines are drawn right now. And we‘ll have the highlights from last night‘s Delaware debate between Democrat Chris Coons, and of course, the inimitable Christine O‘Donnell.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The polls showing that Nevada‘s Senate race is still a toss-up. The Associated Press reports Democrats are sinking big money in to that race out in Nevada to try to save the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid. The committee responsible for electing Democrats to the Senate will spend another 2 million bucks on Reid‘s campaign in Nevada, shifting resources away from that Missouri race, where Robin Carnahan is struggling against Republican Roy Blunt. Well, that‘s an interesting shift of 2 million bucks. Reid and his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, meet tonight in their first and—this is interesting—only debate. Why is that?
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. This is going to be wild. We‘re going to look right now at that big debate last night between Christine O‘Donnell and her Republican (SIC) opponent, Chris Coons. They battled last night. Here‘s some of the action. Let‘s listen. This is Christine O‘Donnell in life. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS COONS (D-DE), SENATE CANDIDATE: There‘s been lots of discussion in the national media about things my opponent has said or done that I frankly think are a distraction from the core issues that Delawareans ask about, ask both of us about, What would you do --
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL (R-DE), SENATE CANDIDATE: You‘re just jealous --
COONS: -- in Washington --
O‘DONNELL: -- that you weren‘t on “Saturday Night Live.”
COON: I‘m dying to see who‘s going to play me, Christine.
O‘DONNELL: If you‘re saying what I said on a comedy show is relevant to this election, then absolutely, you writing an article—forget the “bearded Marxist” comment—you writing an article saying that you learned your beliefs --
COONS: Here‘s the point --
O‘DONNELL: -- from an articulate, intelligent Marxist professor and that‘s what made you become a Democrat—that should send chills up the spine of every Delaware voter!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Oh, God! Throwing names around. And for that (ph) and the race (ph) and the ones that will determine who controls the Senate, and that one will not determine who controls it.
Let‘s turn to NBC News chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd and “The Washington Post‘s” Chris Cillizza, who‘s an MSNBC political analyst.
Chuck, it looks like that race is stuck around close to 20 points for Chris Coons.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
MATTHEWS: This is one of the luckiest people on planet earth this election cycle. It‘s a terrible year for Democrats, with the exception of Chris Coons.
TODD: It‘s a reminder every nomination is worth having. You know, anytime you see candidates think about, Oh, I don‘t know if I‘m going to run this year—well, that‘s what Mario Cuomo, Bill Bradley, Dick Gephardt said in 1991. They‘ll let that guy from Arkansas have the nomination. Sure, let Bill Clinton have it. He‘ll never—he‘ll never beat Bush for a second term. Every nomination is worth having. Chris Coons is proving it. And Scott McAdams in Alaska may prove it. You know, you never know. If you think it‘s your time to run, run.
MATTHEWS: -- three-way race in Alaska and anything can happen. A Democrat can even win up there.
TODD: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Chris Cillizza?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I was just going to add to Chuck‘s point. You know, in real estate, it‘s location, location, location. In politics, let‘s be honest, it‘s timing, timing, timing. Everybody said a senator named Barack Obama? He just got elected? He‘s going to run in 2008 against Hillary Clinton? That makes no sense! Well, Barack Obama knew timing.
And I think, you know, if you‘re Beau Biden, son of the vice president, the guy who we all thought was going to be the nominee in Delaware on the Democratic side, you‘ve got to be kicking yourself a little bit because, look, as you said, Chris, there are a lot of races that may decide the Senate majority. This isn‘t one of them. Chris Coons plus-20 points in this race. He went from a guy who was a decided underdog on September 13th, when we thought Mike Castle was going to be the Republican nominee, to a guy who‘s an overwhelming favorite 24 hours later. You know, it‘s --
MATTHEWS: OK, OK. Can I just --
MATTHEWS: To use a David Gregory phrase, can I unpack that a little bit? Any candidate who thinks back and thinks what woulda-coulda-shoulda happened is crazy.
TODD: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Beau Biden has no idea which events would have taken place had he gone in that race. There may have been a totally different reality back then. It‘s like those movies where you go back in time and screw up everything because something different happened.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t know what‘s --
MATTHEWS: -- woulda-coulda-shoulda stuff --
CILLIZZA: Yes, but Chris, can I—Chris, I --
MATTHEWS: You‘re too young --
CILLIZZA: -- totally agree --
MATTHEWS: -- to start thinking like that.
TODD: Well, you know --
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now --
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. Chuck?
TODD: Well, you know, if—if my aunt was—never mind. If my aunt had something, she‘d be my uncle, right? I mean, isn‘t that the way the saying goes?
MATTHEWS: Right. I know.
MATTHEWS: -- woulda-coulda-shoulda world, and I hate that world!
CILLIZZA: It‘s missed—it‘s missed opportunities are the story of politics. I don‘t disagree with --
MATTHEWS: You know what we say here?
CILLIZZA: -- you. You never know how --
MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza --
CILLIZZA: -- things play out.
MATTHEWS: -- you know what our slogan is here right now? Lean
TODD: There it is.
CILLIZZA: Lean forward. I‘m leaning forward.
MATTHEWS: Lean forward. Don‘t look back.
CILLIZZA: Look, I‘m leaning forward.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s more from that—here‘s more from that hot Delaware debate. And it was interesting.
She is very likable, clearly, Christine O‘Donnell. Everybody would like to have a cup of tea with her, I think, at least meet her somewhere. She seems like fun. Is she prepared? Let‘s check out the closing arguments. Are either of these candidates ready to be U.S. senators? Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: He is in lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid. And that‘s why Harry Reid has called him his “pet.” I‘m not a Democrat, but I know that what is happening in this country right now is not what my Democratic friends voted for when they voted for change in 2008.
COONS: Ms. O‘Donnell has experience at running for office, but not at really running anything, at delivering catchy slogans, but at not delivering on any real solution, and, frankly, at sharpening the partisan divide, not at bridging it.
She is focused too little on the issues that really matter to Delawareans and too much on the issues that make for good sound bites.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Get off the talking points.
You see those guys? Both of them are doing that, looking down.
CILLIZZA: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza, the one charming thing—I hope this isn‘t
the charming thing about Christine O‘Donnell is that she was who she is.
MATTHEWS: Witch or whatever, it was her.
MATTHEWS: Now she‘s reading the talking points from Randy Scheunemann, this intellectual that is supposedly making Sarah Palin into something of an intellectual, complete talking points. Anybody could be read this crap.
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, Chris, I—in a way, I understand what she‘s doing. She‘s trying to moderate herself. She‘s trying to say, look, all this stuff you have heard about me, it‘s not true. We saw this in her much-publicized ad in which she said, “I‘m not a witch.”
MATTHEWS: But why is she reading talking points from the ghostwriter for Sarah Palin?
CILLIZZA: Because I think her campaign thinks, Chris, that the only chance she has to win is essentially say, even in Delaware, I am someone who is an outsider. I am someone who come in and shake things up.
MATTHEWS: Look at her there.
CILLIZZA: This race being a referendum on Christine O‘Donnell is not a winner. That‘s frankly what I think it‘s going to be no matter what she does in the debate or in her TV ads, but that‘s not a winning strategy in the state that Barack Obama won 62 percent of the vote.
MATTHEWS: She should not be a ditto head.
Let‘s go the pollsters‘ trend line out in Nevada. Boy, this is a race to watch. It is so fascinating. Look at that. This would drive a person crazy. Imagine being either one of those candidates, Sharron Angle or Harry Reid. Look at those numbers. They‘re just entangled there, like a dance of death.
And none of them seem to be able to break much—Chuck, you here.
Neither one of these candidates are popular. I think I can say that.
MATTHEWS: The people of Nevada would prefer anything to these two people. They can‘t seem to buck 45 percent-ish. Somebody‘s going to win this race, it looks to me, with 47 percent, with none of the above grabbing 7 or 6, and this other candidate, the third—the other Tea Party guy getting 7. Isn‘t that how it‘s going turn out? Nobody gets 50.
TODD: Well, look, the fact that Harry Reid has a chance is a reflection on Sharron Angle, right?
TODD: Every—the laws of politics say Harry Reid should be done. He‘s unpopular. There‘s all this money being thrown at him. Just the laws of political gravity say he should be a done candidate, but, look, he‘s not.
And that‘s because Sharron Angle hasn‘t closed the sale. I think this debate tonight does mean a lot for Sharron Angle.
TODD: Chris wrote about this earlier this afternoon. I completely agree. I think it‘s her chance to sort of close this deal.
She could end this race tonight if she comes across as—and I think she only has to meet a minimum bar.
MATTHEWS: Right. I agree. It‘s like Reagan. I agree.
TODD: Voters are ready—yes, they are ready to get rid of Reid.
MATTHEWS: OK. Meet a standard. If she can meet a standard of senatorial behavior, that‘s all she has to do. She doesn‘t have to win. She just has to be a senator.
Your thoughts, Chris?
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, look, I think Chuck the right.
People—you look at Harry Reid‘s numbers, people want to fire the guy. That‘s always the first hurdle you have to get over as a challenger. Do you want to fire this person of keep this person? It‘s a big hurdle.
It‘s not that big a hurdle with Harry Reid.
You‘re talking about approval ratings in the 30s, low 40s. He never
really gets above 45 or 46 percent on the ballot test. But Sharron Angle -
Chuck mentioned this—amazingly has not cleared what is one of the lowest bars in senatorial politics, just simply saying I can stand on a stage with the guy.
Well, she‘s going to be on a stage with him tonight. And I think it‘s probably the most important moment of the campaign to date.
MATTHEWS: If she‘s adequate, she wins.
Let‘s take a look, Chuck, across the country at the trend lines you‘re developing here. I love this stuff. You say Connecticut and California are stronger for Democrats right now. It looks like Blumenthal and Boxer out there. The Democrats have momentum going for them with Sestak and Giannoulias in Illinois and Pennsylvania. They‘re interesting.
So, that‘s good news for Democrats so far. You say Republicans have momentum out there with Buck out there, Ken Buck out there in Colorado against Michael Bennet and against McCain—
MATTHEWS: Feingold out in Wisconsin. He‘s—I‘m always forgetting his name, he‘s in so much trouble, that one.
MATTHEWS: Nevada, West Virginia, Washington are too hard to figure out right now.
By the way, I think Manchin is coming back, but that‘s a real tough one for him out there. And Patty Murray, I‘m surprised you call that so close. Alaska—go to Alaska. You brought that up a minute ago. Could a Democrat be elected senator from Alaska against two Republicans?
TODD: Well, here is what is going on there.
It‘s anecdotal evidence, but in Anchorage, in the business community out in Anchorage, OK, that were—think of them as sort of the Ted Stevens coalition, OK, the late Ted Stevens, the people that want to do business in Alaska, and they sit there and they say, we don‘t think Joe Miller is a guy that understands how to get federal money back to Alaska, how everything works. They‘re very nervous about him.
They prefer Murkowski, but they‘re not convinced that this write-in campaign can work. And so you see McAdams benefiting from a pretty amazing fund-raising quarter for Alaska. He‘s getting real money now. And there is a bet hedge. And you have conversations going on in Alaska circles talking about this idea of what to do.
The preference is Murkowski, but, if she can‘t win, then their second choice is McAdams.
MATTHEWS: Chris, go ahead.
CILLIZZA: Just very quickly on that race, I agree, as I always do, with everything Chuck said.
One thing to add. Polling in that race is incredible difficult because—
CILLIZZA: -- you have Miller, who is the Republican nominee. You have McAdams, who is the Democratic nominee. Both of them are going to be on the ballot, right?
Murkowski, you are going to have to write her name in. Polling usually says would you vote for Miller, McAdams or Murkowski? That doesn‘t exactly equate to what the poll—what the experience will be in the ballot box.
CILLIZZA: So it‘s really hard to know is she really at 32 or 33 and right in this race, or is that only when people are prompted with her name, is she at that, and, in point of fact, on the day of the election, she drops way down because people don‘t remember to write people in?
There‘s a reason that no senator has been elected as a write-in candidate since Strom Thurmond in 1954. Not saying she doesn‘t have a chance. It‘s just hard to know.
TODD: The bigger issue is, Joe Miller is running a terrible campaign.
He had this weird presser earlier this week. He said, I‘m not going to answer any more questions about my background. And I‘ll tell you this. It may be popular among conservatives to bash the media. It is an easy thing to do, but you know what? That does turn off a lot of voters, because it looks like, what are you hiding? What‘s the big deal? Stand up. Look a little stronger.
MATTHEWS: He seems about as likable as that guy in “The Social Network.” I just saw the movie last night.
Joe Miller seems like that kind of guy. He seems like a misanthrope.
CILLIZZA: The Zuckerberg comparison.
MATTHEWS: He seems a little misanthropic to me.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think people are going to like this guy. He‘s been described as an unlikable—well, we will see. I will leave it to the voters, obviously. I think that race is wide open.
Thank you, Chuck.
Thank you, Chris Cillizza.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next: All week, the HARDBALL campaign—well, all week
next week is the campaign for us. We‘re out on the campaign trail for the HARDBALL Senate tour.
Monday, Kentucky, I will interview Senate candidate Jack Conway. Tuesday, we will be in New York covering the races up there. And there are a lot of races in New York. Then Wednesday to Chicago, where I will interview Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. And Thursday, we will be in Philly for Senate candidate Joe Sestak. And everywhere we go, we‘re going to interview all the other candidates as well, anybody that shows up.
Up next: What did Bill O‘Reilly say that got “The View”‘s Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar—well, they walked off the set?. Whatever their mood, they took the cue. They didn‘t like being on the same set with him. What is that demonstration about?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the “Sideshow.”
First up: Bill O‘Reilly himself causing trouble on “The View.” He got into a debate about that mosque near Ground Zero. Things got agitated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: Let me break this to you. Seventy percent of Americans don‘t want that mosque down there, so don‘t give me the we business.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”: Where is that poll? I want to see that poll.
O‘REILLY: You want to bet on that? You want to bet? I will show you that poll in a minute.
O‘REILLY: Seventy percent don‘t want it down there.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”: Well, why is that? Then why aren‘t we saying—
O‘REILLY: Because it‘s inappropriate.
GOLDBERG: Why is it inappropriate, when 70 families died?
O‘REILLY: Muslims killed us on 9/11. That‘s why!
GOLDBERG: No! Oh, my God! That is such (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
O‘REILLY: Muslims didn‘t kill—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: O‘Reilly quickly apologized, and Joy and Whoopi did return to the set after walking off.
Anyway, he‘s the kind of guy that women really like these days.
Next: Recession? What recession?
Steve Colbert last night hosted the president‘s top economist, Austan Goolsbee, who tried to explain why extending the Bush tax cuts for the highest brackets is a bad idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: To give that big, red circle—
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”: Yes?
GOOLSBEE: -- will cost $700 billion. And we already know it doesn‘t work.
COLBERT: And rich people, we will put that right back into the market. We will put it right back into the market by investing in Chinese paper mills and Indian tech companies.
GOOLSBEE: Look, we did that in 2001.
GOOLSBEE: It didn‘t work. Why do that again?
COLBERT: We had eight years of prosperity after that, didn‘t we?
COLBERT: A lot of people got rich—a lot of people got rich in the last 10 years. Don‘t rewrite history, my friend.
GOOLSBEE: And it was followed by the worst recession since 1929.
COLBERT: But some people—I got—I got—I did fine. I did fine.
COLBERT: And I‘m middle class. I‘m middle class. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with that? Maybe those people just didn‘t work hard enough, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: you know, it sounds like a Republican argument. Colbert‘s shtick isn‘t at all different from a lot of Tea Party candidates in particular, what they‘re saying, not just about Bush tax cuts, but also about unemployment benefits, which they think are unnecessary, and the minimum wage, which they would like to get rid of.
Now for the “Big Number.”
Sharron Angle‘s campaign pulled in $14 million in just three—this is little Nevada -- $14 million in three months, far outraising incumbent Senator Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate. But how much of the money pouring into that race for both candidates is from out of Nevada, outside? Four out of five bucks, 80 percent of the money, a case where politics is not local—four out of five dollars in that Senate Nevada race out there not coming from Nevada.
And so is this government of and by the people?
Anyway, up next, we have got the latest and the greatest political ads from the midterm campaign, including one where a candidate—this is the best ever—accuses his opponent of wanting to kill dogs and cats, puppies and kittens. What an awful person.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks staging a late-day comeback to finish only slightly lower, the Dow slipping a point-and-a-half, the S&P down four, the Nasdaq finishing five points lower.
Bank shares under pressure today, as investors reacted to that growing foreclosure crisis. In earnings news, Google reporting after the closing bell, blowing past forecasts on the top and bottom lines. Shares are soaring in after-hours trading.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Well, the political ads are always fun, and they‘re coming out fast and furious in the final weeks of the election. We‘re going to rate some of the latest ones with Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican strategist Rex Elsass.
Thank you, gentlemen, especially Rex, for joining us.
Now, you‘ve got to have an attitude about this one.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Illinois incumbent Governor, the appointed governor, Pat—lieutenant governor—he became governor when what‘s his name, B-Rod, had to go do some other business, like face the jury—Pat Quinn, nice guy.
MATTHEWS: Here he is. He put out this ad against his Republican challenger, Bill Brady.
Now, PolitiFact, which checks facts about these ads for accuracy, rates this one—I love this—half-true. But is it effective? Let‘s listen. This is the most unusual ad of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PAT QUINN CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on Bill Brady. I am a Republican, but I don‘t support him for the mass euthanization of animals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, this bill, Alex, that Brady put in the hopper in the state senate out there allows you to kill animals that you have in shelters by the dozens, rather than one at a time.
I don‘t know what constituent service he was rendering there, but I would say he‘s got a problem.
Alex? Rex, rather.
REX ELSASS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, yes.
Well, and I think the ad is just kind of not believable. You know, there has to be something that you actually watch that actually you think maybe there might be a shred of truth here. And I think this one doesn‘t work at all.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think that little gas chamber worked there or that woman on the beach in her bathing suit?
MATTHEWS: By the way, I wonder what season they filmed this ad in. It doesn‘t seem like that would be an Illinois seasonal ad right now, wearing a bathing suit out at the—Lake Michigan.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That‘s one of those ads that is designed to get attention. I don‘t think it‘s designed to move voters.
And obviously it worked for that purpose, but I think Rex raises a good point when he says that it‘s not credible and it‘s not probably relevant to the lives of very many people. So, I‘m not sure it‘s a very effective ad in the long run.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s—let‘s look at this other ad. Let‘s take a look at this one.
Here‘s a movie trailer spoof for Coons called “Tax Man.” This is put out by Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign in Delaware.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: One man who as a county executive left New Castle County on the brink of bankruptcy. Hide your will, hide your lights, because he‘s taxing everything out here.
Chris Coons is the tax man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Again, are we at the edge of absurdity here? Will that work?
MCMAHON: Yes. You know, her whole candidacy is pretty much at the edge of absurdity, so why wouldn‘t her advertising be just like that? I mean, you know—look, again, this is an ad that‘s designed to get attention. I don‘t think it‘s particularly credible. I don‘t think it‘s particularly well-documented and she‘s 20 points behind. So, she‘s throwing long. It‘s not going work.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Rex.
ELSASS: I might disagree with you on this one. I actually think it‘s a very compelling ad. Obviously, people are very concerned about people‘s attitude on taxes and spending, and there‘s a real solid theatrical quality. And I think this is the kind of ad that will capture people‘s attention. It doesn‘t immediately seem that it‘s political. There‘s something interesting in terms of production value that draws you in. And I think it just might persuade a few people.
MATTHEWS: Why wouldn‘t you, if you‘re a Republican in Delaware, go to the Republican math, which is the basis of why most people are Republicans? They want less government, less taxes. It‘s a thing that saves them from going out of business in the worst of times.
If you have a candidate who‘s not that strong, like Christine O‘Donnell, because of her background and her crazy sort of lifestyle, stuff like witchcraft, you wouldn‘t try to sell her. You‘d say, wait a minute, when it doubt, vote against the tax and spend Democrats and just give an intellectual argument.
What‘s with this freak show of this dark guy in a shoes coming in the dark? Why not just make a logical case? Vote for her because it‘s one less vote for taxes.
ELSASS: Well, I don‘t think it‘s a freak show. What it is, is a powerful theatrical ad that will capture people‘s attention and pull you in.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, maybe you‘re right.
MCMAHON: It‘s a freak show.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to the Democratic community, the DCCC. DCCC put this one out. It‘s an ad attacking Connecticut Republican candidate Linda McMahon and her company, the World Wrestling Association, or whatever it‘s called, WWE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Linda McMahon brags about her business experience. The real story: her company violated safety standards, was criticized for tolerating steroid and drug use, inserted death clauses in contracts in order to avoid responsibility for their deaths. The record: 17 of her former workers under 50 have died.
Linda McMahon, a bad CEO, a worse senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I think that works.
MCMAHON: I think it works. The information is presented. It‘s backed up. It‘s relevant. It‘s credible. It‘s sort of does everything that a political ad is supposed to do. It‘s not perhaps as interesting as some of the other ads we just looked at, but, you know, one of the things that happens with political advertising is, sometimes, the more memorable it is, the less effective it is. This is a very effective ad.
ELSASS: You know, an ad, of course—you know, any ad will work in a vacuum, it also has to be—what took place before this ad. How are you going to respond to this ad? So, you really just can‘t look at it on the face and say, this is going to be effective. Well, it would be effective if it was the only thing we‘re going to run and weren‘t be—
MATTHEWS: What does she say when you get followed up by the question, did you really have 17 people die in your business? Did you have a death clause and they have to sign a release saying you might die on the job?
I‘m serious. You‘re laughing. It‘s a business that‘s pretty—I mean, I‘m not saying it‘s the worst thing that ever lived. I think it‘s theater. Wrestling is basically just gross. People get hurt in it.
But once you realized it‘s not just theatre, it‘s not just bad form, that people getting hurt in it, and having to sign releases they‘re going to get killed it is like the movie, “The Wrestler,” you know? And you go, wait a minute, this is beyond acceptability.
ELSASS: Well, I don‘t know the specific facts of this case. I‘m somewhat immediately left with the assumption that I‘m not going to take full face of a political ad which making these claims.
MCMAHON: As somebody who makes political ads, he‘s not going to --
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go. Let‘s take a look at some we don‘t know about. Here‘s a couple of House Democrats campaigning and they‘re using Speaker Pelosi as the bad guy. First up, Congressman Jim Marshall of Georgia. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Georgia is a long way from San Francisco and Jim Marshall is a long way from Nancy Pelosi. Jim Marshall doesn‘t support Nancy Pelosi. He voted the same as Republican leaders 65 percent of the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There‘s a guy who says he‘s an echo, not a choice.
And here‘s Alabama Congressman Bobby Bright, another Southern Democrat, the first Democrat to actually campaign against his own speaker. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOBBY BRIGHT (D), ALABAMA: I‘ve heard my constituents and they don‘t want a liberal running the House. They want a conservative. I‘m going to vote for the person that would allow me to best represent my constituents.
I‘ve already voted to repeal a portion of it and I won‘t stop there. And anyone who tells you otherwise is just downright lying to you. I‘m the most independent member of Congress and what I try to do is bring people together to make good things happen for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Rex, it looks like those Democrats fighting for their lives in districts that don‘t want to vote for Pelosi, don‘t want to vote for Obama. They‘re lucky if they vote for them.
ELSASS: Well, Chris, you‘re absolutely right. There‘s nothing more fun for us than watching Democrats masquerade as Republicans. And this year, I‘m looking for Democrats across the country that are actually running on Obamacare and their support of the stimulus package.
MATTHEWS: Well, they did—well, his record is he didn‘t vote for Obamacare, so how can he run against Obamacare?
ELSASS: Well, I‘m talking in general. I mean, in terms of Democrats in general, in terms of the races being run across the country. My point is, these are Democrats who are really, you know, running against Nancy Pelosi, running against Washington when, in fact, that‘s really who they are a part of. That‘s the majority they‘ve been a part of. And they‘re running obviously because they think they can read the election and they can read the electorates and they know that they‘re on the wrong side.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you know, I watched Ronald Reagan run against federal deficits after eight years of sending deficits to the Congress. He got away with it. Every year, he sent a deficit to Congress, every year, he approved one. And every year, he ran against one. So, it does work.
Steve McMahon, thank you. As total cynicism works.
Thanks for joining us, Rex Elsass for joining us.
Up next: the man Dick Cheney accidentally shot in the face four years ago is talking. Why is he talking now? We‘re going to find out. He apparently hasn‘t gotten an apology from Cheney yet. That‘s sort of interesting.
And this is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, is polling behind Republican Marco Rubio in that Senate race down there. But some new polls show Crist would be even with Rubio if Democrat Kendrick were to pull out of that race. It‘s three-way right now.
Crist has been campaigning as the de facto Democrat in the race and he picked up the endorsement of one of the country‘s biggest liberals, Bobby Kennedy, Jr., the environmental lawyer and nephew of the former president - - of course, called Crist a champion for environmental causes. And Bobby‘s got creed to say that. Chris was also endorsed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, the in-laws are getting together.
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tonight, who‘s the boss? The vice president shot a man in a hunting incident on Saturday. Cheney shotgun pellet remains lodged in the man‘s heart. Three days later, does the vice president owe a word of explanation to the American people?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Yes, when you‘re young, you always look better. Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was one of the more bizarre cold opens we‘ve ever had on HARDBALL. Today, and that‘s why we open up the show with the fact the vice president of the United States had shot somebody. Today in the “Washington Post,” Paul Farhi brought us back do that wild incident where the vice president of the United States shot a man in the face he was hunting with. He interviewed Cheney‘s victim, Harry Whittington.
Paul, welcome. I don‘t know—why did you, as you phrase my inglorious phrase around here, rip the scab off of that baby?
PAUL FARHI, WASHINGTON POST: You know, because I thought it would be interesting. It was sort of like the motivation for all newspaper articles is maybe somebody wants to read about this and that‘s—
MATTHEWS: Where are they now?
FARHI: Yes. Where are they now? Whatever happened to them?
MATTHEWS: OK. You broke a couple of piece of this that we didn‘t know. But it wasn‘t as they used to say in westerns, he didn‘t just wing the guy.
FARHI: No, he shot him quite substantially about three quarters on the right side. Hit him in the face and the neck.
MATTHEWS: It was buckshot.
FARHI: No, not buckshot, bird shot—a little bit different, smaller pellets. Lead. Mr. Whittington—
MATTHEWS: How far did they go in?
FARHI: Well, all over his body. He‘s got one by his heart. He‘s got it in his larynx. He‘s got at his face.
MATTHEWS: Is he still carrying some of that?
FARHI: He‘s got about 30 pieces of bird shot still in him.
MATTHEWS: So, when he goes through an airport?
FARHI: He can make it through but he‘s always worried about it.
MATTHEWS: They‘re going to have an interesting facial expression when he goes through that thing.
FARHI: For sure.
MATTHEWS: So, let me ask you about his relationship, did he know—did he know Dick Cheney?
FARHI: He knew—he had met him three times over about a 30-year period. Just as an acquaintance. They were not friends. They were not buddies. They had never been hunting before.
This was just a very, very casual. He knew somebody who knew somebody, and got together.
MATTHEWS: How do you shoot somebody when you are—I mean, I know I‘m not anti-gun, I‘m not anti-hunter, certainly.
Hunters take it very seriously. They swing their rifles the right way. They don‘t carry them around loaded. They don‘t—they were always -- they are very aware of the angle and where people are and they wear the red clothes. They do a lot of things to make sure they‘re not going to get hit.
How do you hit somebody?
FARHI: Well, in this case—
MATTHEWS: What are you doing in the line of fire?
FARHI: In this case, Mr. Whittington was looking for a down bird in the tall grass. They were in a line. Cheney followed a quail, because that‘s what they were hunting. Quail is flying across. He swings to the right. And there‘s Mr. Wittington in his line-of-sight. Now, that‘s a violation—
MATTHEWS: Did he see him when he hit him?
FARHI: Well, he didn‘t see him when he hit him. He wouldn‘t have pulled the trigger. But, the point is—
MATTHEWS: I shouldn‘t phrase like that. I meant to say subliminally, it was so fast that he didn‘t realize he was—
FARHI: I think that‘s probably the case.
FARHI: But basic hunting safety is you don‘t fire if there‘s someone in your way.
FARHI: You clear the line-of-sight.
MATTHEWS: Paul Farhi, do you remember the tag line of “Love Story.”
Love means never having to say you‘re sorry. Did he ever say he was sorry?
FARHI: He never said it in public and I asked Mr. Whittington several times, several different ways, whether he said it to him personally. And Mr. Whittington would not say it out loud, but it was clear the implication was—no, he never did.
MATTHEWS: Well my, problem with Cheney is the 64,000 people that were killed, according to iCasualties in the Iraq war, which we shouldn‘t have fought. This was an accident. That wasn‘t.
Thank you. That wasn‘t our choice (ph).
Paul Farhi, thanks for joining. Great reporting.
When we finish, let me finish something about those 33 miners and how they were trapped in the ground in Chile and what we taught us underground and what we taught ourselves watching them come out and helping them come out. What a season, what a statement.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a deep observation about mankind.
Down 2,000 feet in the ground, a group of 33 men not only survived for 69 days but prevailed. What a story of human faith, hope, charity and yes, community. I know that last word drives people on the right crazy, community.
Theirs is the popular notion that it‘s every man for himself. Grab what you can, screw the masses, cash out of the government, go it alone—the whole cowboy catechism.
But how would those miners have survived, the 33 of them, and their loved ones living above if they‘d behave like that with the attitude of every man for himself. This is above all, and deep down they‘re in the mine about being in all there together. It‘s about mutual reliance and relying on others. Not just to do their jobs, but to come through in the clutch.
Somebody had to get food and medicine down to those guys and somebody did. Somebody had to drill that hole down to get them and somebody did. And all time, the guys down there, there‘s 33 human souls, kept the faith.
“I was with God and I was with the devil,” one of the first guys out said, “they both fought for me, God won.” So, in his way did mankind. The group of miners stuck down a half mile down into the earth organized themselves. That one guy in charge, another the spiritual leader, still another working on health, still another director of entertainment—it reminded me, as I said the other night, of how John McCain and the American survived those years in that Hanoi prisoner war camp.
This coming election now looks to be a process very different. What it promises to be is a huge number of Americans withdrawing their confidence in the ability of us to work together, to have faith in each other, to build a common community. It‘s headed towards something—well something quite un-American, a statement that we‘re not all in this together.
For that, I blame the people even now seek to meet—their need for notoriety by nightly yelling “fire” in the movie theater, by convincing those who still have jobs that their worst enemies are those who don‘t, whether it‘s Newt Gingrich dumping on people who rely on food stamps or some Senate candidate knocking unemployment comp or even stranger, the one who says, we don‘t—if you don‘t like a politician, go get yourself a gun.
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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