Guests: Jeanne Cummings, Jon Ralston, Alex Sink, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, David Eisenhower
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Don‘t mess with Paul.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington.
Leading off tonight: Kentucky head stomping. What‘s with the Luca Brazzi stuff? Last night, after the Rand Paul-Jack Conway Senate debate in Kentucky, a woman from the progressive group Moveon.org was set upon by Rand Paul supporters, including one who stomped on her head. Is this any way to run a campaign?
Meanwhile, we‘ll look at the final four, the four big races tonight that will determine who controls the U.S. Senate next Tuesday night.
Plus, what to look for as the returns come in next Tuesday night so we‘ll know early on, all of you watching, who‘s got the jump on winning the House and then winning the Senate. Our first HARDBALL “Viewer‘s Guide” to election night.
Next, the air wars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RAESE (R-WV), SENATE CANDIDATE: We need one thousand laser systems put in the sky, and we need it right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Raese‘s ideas are crazy!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow! Anyway, the great political ads in the last week of the campaign, including what may be a couple of knockout blows, like that one.
And texting while debating. Did Florida‘s Democratic candidate for governor, Alex Sink, get nailed for a rule infraction in last night‘s debate? She‘ll be here to answer that question and why this race is so critical to the 2012 presidential election.
Also, what do the grandson and daughter of two Republican presidents think of today‘s GOP? David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower are here tonight.
And why Mike Bloomberg thinks term limits are good for other people, not Mike. That‘s in the “Sideshow.”
All that‘s ahead, but first the latest polls. Let‘s check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.” We start with the Senate race in West Virginny (SIC). Joe Manchin is leading Republican John Raese by 6. He is coming back strong, the governor, Joe Manchin. In Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck—I feel so much for these guys. This is always tied, this one. This is a nail biter from hell.
And in Pennsylvania, movement now toward Pat Toomey in that Muehlenberg “Morning Call” tracking poll out of Allentown. The Republican is now leading Democrat Joe Sestak by 8, 48 to 40. Something‘s going on there. But in the Reuters Ipsos poll, nothing going on there. They‘re tied 46 up. We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night now leading up to election day.
For more on the fight for Congress, Chuck Todd is NBC News chief White House correspondent and political director, and “The Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize winner forever!
Here‘s video from outside the debate before it happened, where a Moveon.org supporter out in Kentucky, in Lexington, tried to approach Rand Paul—he‘s the candidate—with a mocking award about corporate influence and Republicans. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, hey!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the cops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the police! Get the police! Get the police!
Get the police!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no, no! Come on!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. I don‘t know what to make of that, but it reminds me of the ‘30s in another country, Chuck Todd.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, it‘s
MATTHEWS: It‘s street brawling.
TODD: It‘s getting out of hand. You can‘t. There‘s no defense of any of this. Look, there‘s clearly—
MATTHEWS: Well, what about—
MATTHEWS: -- put his foot on her head?
TODD: And it seemed so—he did it with such—you know, it wasn‘t
I can‘t even—you know, sometimes you say, Oh, it‘s the spur of the moment. That didn‘t look like spur of the moment.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, she was already under control.
TODD: She was under control—
ROBINSON: -- get the cops. She‘s got a sign.
TODD: And then he said—
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s give the—
MATTHEWS: Here‘s Rand Paul, the candidate whose worker did that Luca Brazzi behavior there. Here he is, Rand Paul, on Fox this morning talking about that event. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL (R-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I will tell you that when we arrived, there was enormous passion on both sides. It really was something where you walk into a daze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up, and there was a bit of a crowd control problem. And I don‘t want anybody, though, to be involved in things that aren‘t civil. I think this should always be about the issues. And it is an unusual situation to have so many people so passionate on both sides jockeying back and forth. And it wasn‘t something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future, it‘s going to be better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He‘s got the lead out there. I‘m looking at the number right now, Chuck. He‘s up 48.5, which is 48-and-a-half, to 42-and-a-half, about 6 points. There‘s that number. I love those numbers. Look at the graph there. If you can keep looking at it and showing that graph. It shows their parallel in their movement, both going up a bit. They‘re not unpopular candidates, these two guys.
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re both going towards 50.
TODD: I think they‘ve both become a little bit—
MATTHEWS: I‘ve seen less popular candidates.
TODD: -- old. That‘s true. I mean, what‘s going on in Illinois is a race to the bottom. It‘s—it‘s—I feel both are polarizing. You know, this race has really attracted passions on both sides. You know, the left sees Rand Paul as this symbol, a terrible symbol of the Tea Party. The Tea Party sees Rand Paul as sort of the first guy that broke through, broke the back of the establishment in Mitch McConnell‘s home state.
TODD: So there‘s some truth to what Rand Paul said about the passion that is there. It is funny. This Senate race, I don‘t think—it‘s not even one of the six most competitive Senate races, yet this one has this passion on the conservative and liberal side of the blogosphere that no other race embodies.
MATTHEWS: Yes, let‘s take a look—let‘s go—let‘s start, Gene, with the ones we think are closest now. We picked four, final four, not arbitrarily. We looked at the ones that are all within one point, and they really are in the polling right now. Here Illinois, pollsters trend line shows it at 41 percent each. That‘s Giannoulias that we had on from—in Chicago last week and also Mark Kirk. And Kirk seems to be hanging up there, too. They‘re both going up a bit. How do you pick these things?
ROBINSON: Well, I don‘t know how you pick this one. I mean, it‘s—
I think it‘s still an uphill climb for Giannoulias just because of the atmosphere.
ROBINSON: President Obama is going there. That‘s one of the places he‘s going to go to—you know, in kind of the last days of the campaign, to try to get Giannoulias over the top—
MATTHEWS: And it‘s his hometown.
ROBINSON: Yes, it‘s his hometown and—
MATTHEWS: And if he loses, it‘s a smack in the face to him.
ROBINSON: In Chicago, you get a big turn-out in Chicago, you can—you can—you can turn (INAUDIBLE)
TODD: This is a big—
MATTHEWS: Could he turn those—does he have tracks (ph) now to the president—
TODD: I don‘t know. We‘re going to find out. I talked to David Axelrod this morning about this, and he started saying, Look, you got to remember—basically, he pinned it all on Blagojevich, that it created this atmosphere where—somebody else in the White House described it to me—Look, there‘s political fatigue in the state—
TODD: -- that Blagojevich really ruined it. But you know what?
Reagan in ‘82 -- remember, he got trounced everywhere—
TODD: -- except California. He pulled out Deukmejian and—
ROBINSON: That‘s true.
TODD: -- pulled out Pete Wilson over Jerry Brown. And it was—Ed Rollins will tell you, You know what? That was at least—it told us something that, you know, what? We hadn‘t lost everything.
MATTHEWS: Of course, I‘m—
MATTHEWS: I don‘t buy that that was Ronald Reagan. I think it was race. I think a lot of white voters didn‘t want to vote for—
TODD: -- Wilson over Brown, too.
MATTHEWS: I know.
TODD: I mean, they won both races. It gave them confidence that they still—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Nevada, the one we‘ve been talking about forever. And this one just drives you crazy because—I don‘t know, the unpopularity of these people. Angle has moved up, I must say, to 48. She‘s moving up. Reid still is at 46.4. Isn‘t that Reid‘s problem? He can‘t get much above 46 percent.
TODD: That‘s right. And he needs—look, that was—I had somebody tell me he‘s not going to get 47. So you know—
TODD: And so the issue is—
MATTHEWS: Has he ever?
TODD: -- how does he make 46 a winning number?
MATTHEWS: So he‘s got to get people to vote third party—
TODD: That‘s right, third party, none of the above, whatever it is.
MATTHEWS: -- either vote for that—he has to vote—he‘s got to hope those people vote for the more Tea Party person than Angle.
ROBINSON: Exactly. He‘s the guy who actually has the Tea Party designation.
TODD: It‘s such a—
ROBINSON: -- neither of the above.
TODD: This stuff is such a (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Well, we heard a great story last—we can‘t confide what it was—
MATTHEWS: -- but it was a great story, where you come out with a weird third party candidate and you get everybody to vote for that person because you know they‘re not going to vote for your guy.
TODD: It does work, but it‘s hard to make it work.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go to Colorado. This is a great race. I have to tell you, I don‘t ever say who I‘m going to vote for here. I can‘t vote in Colorado. I am really impressed by Michael Bennet‘s campaign. Appointed, a guy worked as head of a school board, a good public servant. I don‘t think he‘s an ideologue. He‘s a clean government guy. I think the guy has run a really good race out there in a relatively conservative environment, to say the least, Colorado. There he is. I‘d hate to see that guy lose out there. He‘s got a—you know, he‘s a point—it‘s within a point. It‘s 47-46, basically, Buck‘s—is he going to win? Is Buck taking this away, or can the good guy win?
ROBINSON: My hunch on this one is that Buck wins.
ROBINSON: I mean, I think Colorado is—
TODD: You say environment trumps everything.
ROBINSON: Yes, I think in Colorado—
MATTHEWS: Even a good candidate loses.
ROBINSON: It‘s very susceptible. If there‘s any sort of Republican wavelet, it becomes a wave in Colorado.
TODD: You know, with Michael Bennet—it‘s funny, this sentiment I hear in Washington. I hear it from a lot of people in Democratic circles about this affection that everybody has for Michael Bennet in the Democratic Party. The president is one of those included. You know what it reminds me of? Remember how the one person that lost in 1994 where Democrats were more depressed about than any other was Harris Wofford. The same thing (INAUDIBLE) Well, this guy—you know, he‘s not—
MATTHEWS: He was a great Civil Rights guy.
TODD: He‘s a—you know, there was this sort of—and Michael Bennet is, like, feeling (INAUDIBLE) Look, they lose, too.
MATTHEWS: Just remember who Harris Wofford was. He was the guy that got John F. Kennedy in 1960 to call Coretta King and express his sympathy after Martin Luther King was arrested and may have been dragged off an lynched, for all we know, at that moment. So there is a reason why Harris Wofford is—
TODD: No doubt. I‘m just saying these—you know—
TODD: You can run a good race and all this stuff but—
MATTHEWS: OK, here‘s one we like to watch because this is really sort of a battle, not between liberal and conservative. It‘s a battle between who‘s toughest and strongest in West Virginia. Let‘s take a look—I‘m sorry. Let‘s go to West Virginia. Here‘s a guy, Joe Manchin, who is no liberal. I know I‘m helping him every time I say this, he is no liberal. Neither is West Virginia that liberal. Look at this race. They both came from somewhere and they‘re ending up in the same spot, with him now—that little blue line, it‘s going up a bit.
TODD: For the first time in a while.
MATTHEWS: For the first time. And he‘s starting—and he‘s now saying, I‘m no—I‘m no—I‘m no Barack Obama. I‘m not for cap-and-trade. I‘m not for gun control.
ROBINSON: I want to repeal half of health care reform. He wants to -
MATTHEWS: And he—and he—
ROBINSON: You know, he doesn‘t like mandates. He doesn‘t—
MATTHEWS: And he looks sort of like Joe Theismann, too. Have you noticed?
TODD: Well, he does have that—
MATTHEWS: Joe Theismann—
TODD: -- football player sort of look.
MATTHEWS: -- the football guy. You know, Heisman Trophy winner.
TODD: Not a Heisman Trophy winner. They just—his name was Theesemann (ph) and he changed his name to Theismann—
MATTHEWS: You know—you know what I like—
TODD: -- because—
MATTHEWS: -- about Chuck?
TODD: -- because—
MATTHEWS: Because he knows all the trivia!
TODD: -- because these Notre Dame—
MATTHEWS: Because I know—
TODD: These Notre Dame folks—
TODD: -- all said, Hey, you could win—
MATTHEWS: OK. You know all—
TODD: -- the Heisman—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to Charlie Cook here. Charlie Cook was being interviewed today by Mike Gerson, the former speech writer for President George W. Bush. And there was a chance, he said—this is what Charlie said. “A month ago, there was a chance it could have gone from gigantic to titanic.” That means the Republican win. “But the possibility of Republican House gains in the 60s or 70s has declined in the last month.”
That‘s what Charlie Cook says today. He‘s saying there‘s not going to be a blowout. My belief is he‘s wrong. I think Charlie is always cautious. He never wants to stick his neck out and make a wild prediction. I think it is going to be up around 60 or 70. Your thoughts?
ROBINSON: Yes, I‘m—I‘m—
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s—
ROBINSON: I think Charlie‘s been very aggressive this year. He was among the first to say—
MATTHEWS: Let‘s get to reality.
ROBINSON: -- that the Republicans are going to take—
MATTHEWS: Is Charlie right—
ROBINSON: -- the House.
MATTHEWS: Has it crested? Is he right they‘ve crested?
ROBINSON: I think he—I think he might be. Crested at a high level, meaning that—
MATTHEWS: Well, he says 60 or 70 is not on the board anymore.
ROBINSON: Right. He‘s saying, like, 52, something like that.
TODD: Look, here, let me translate the numbers. If the Republicans win—
MATTHEWS: I think 60‘s still very much possible.
TODD: If the Republicans win 53 percent of the national vote, the way that would translate into the House is a 50-seat gain. So 53/47 in the national vote. So look, if it got up to 54 or 55, then you‘re already—you‘re hitting closer to 60.
But I tell you, there is such—there‘s sort of four groups of House races. The first 30 are the easy ones for the Republicans. They‘re the over-performance districts. The next 15 are these ones that are all right now 45/45, but a lot of people believe—
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at—
TODD: -- will all go one way.
MATTHEWS: We promised—
TODD: The next 15 are tough.
MATTHEWS: OK, we promised the viewer a way to understand next Tuesday night, a week from tonight, how to watch the election. I want you guys to check on this. Again, here‘s where Charlie Cook I think is dead right. He says if the Democrats hold Connecticut and West Virginia in those Senate races, if Manchin wins and Blumenthal wins, that means the rest of the evening, the Republicans have to run the table, as we say in pool. They have to win all the way from Washington across the country. They got to win everything. They got to knock out Boxer—
MATTHEWS: Including Illinois, including Colorado, before we even get to—
MATTHEWS: They‘ve got to take—
MATTHEWS: They‘ve got to take all 10 possibles left because they‘ve lost the first two. Is that the way you read it?
TODD: Absolutely. West Virginia‘s a big linchpin here. I do think -
MATTHEWS: So if you‘re watching early and you‘re a progressive or a Democrat, you‘re rooting for the Democrats, you‘re in a pretty good mood if you win both of those to start the evening.
TODD: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Now you know the Republicans probably aren‘t going to win.
ROBINSON: You‘re pretty sure that—
MATTHEWS: If you‘re a Republican, however, you don‘t know for sure you‘re going to win all 10. You know you got a pretty good shot if you win one of those, right?
TODD: That‘s right. If you win West Virginia, then your margin of error—
MATTHEWS: So will we turn the—
MATTHEWS: Around what time of night do you think we‘ll get West Virginia? Connecticut very early, right?
TODD: Connecticut will be early. Look, West Virginia, we haven‘t had a close race in that state in a long time. But my guess is—is we‘ll have a good idea—look, if we haven‘t called the race by 9:00 o‘clock, there‘s some problems for the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: So around 9:00 o‘clock, we‘ll have a good idea. You might be in a very good mood, if you‘re a Democrat, by 9:00 o‘clock watching MSNBC.
TODD: I think that‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Which I think you‘ll be watching if you‘re a Democrat.
Just a guess.
TODD: Is that right?
MATTHEWS: Just a guess.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd. Thank you—
TODD: I want to know about laser beams on sharks—
MATTHEWS: -- we‘re going to get to some of the crazy stuff coming here tonight. There‘s some wacky candidates out there. Eugene Robinson, sir, thanks for joining us.
Coming up, the newest and sharpest political ads with a week to go. Candidates are going for the knockout. These ads are getting better, and they are in many connecting. They were meant to connect. These are the Sunday punches.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: John McCain is running for reelection, but he‘s also spending much of his time campaigning for other candidates, including Senate candidates in those close races we‘ve been talking about. He stumped for Carly Fiorina in California, Dino Rossi up in the state of Washington. Today he‘s in West Virginia with John Raese. There he is. Here‘s McCain today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: When I heard him say—when I heard John say that he was more conservative than Tea Partiers, that‘s my man!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Contrast McCain‘s busy campaign schedule with that of his former running mate, Sarah Palin. She makes news wherever she goes, but she‘s staying on the sidelines in some of those key states, a possible reminder that it‘s McCain, not Palin, who has more sway with swing voters in November.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now we‘re going to look at the latest TV ads out that have come down to the wire in these mid-term elections. Joining me, “The Las Vegas Sun‘s” Jon Ralston, who also hosts “Face to Face” on KSNV. Jon, thanks for joining us. It‘s great. I want you to join me in looking at some of these great ads. I think they‘ve saved the best wine until last. Here‘s Sharron Angle in your state using the issue of immigration to take on Harry Reid. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), SENATE CANDIDATE: I‘m Sharron Angle, and I approved this message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forces families to live in fear. And what‘s Harry Reid doing about it? Voting to give illegal aliens Social Security benefits, tax breaks and college tuition, voting against declaring English our national language twice, and even siding with Obama and the president of Mexico to block Arizona‘s tough new immigration law. Harry Reid, it‘s clear whose side he‘s on, and it‘s not yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I think that‘s aimed at Anglos, right? Just guessing, Jon! What do you think?
JON RALSTON, “LAS VEGAS SUN”: Well, I mean, Chris, she has been using this kind of stuff for months, calling Harry Reid the “illegal alien‘s best friend.” And they‘ve gotten more and more nasty. And some of the Hispanic community here is calling these ads racist.
RALSTON: You know about the controversy with the last one, where they had to pull it down because of that Getty image. David Vitter used it, too. Listen, there are two groups out here now that are being affected by this, Hispanics, who Harry Reid hopes to drive to the polls now by using these kinds of ads against her, and independents. And listen, Chris, this is probably helping her with independents. There‘s still a lot of people left to vote here. Early voting has started. But this is a wedge issue with independents, and this whole “us versus them” really affects them, I think.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s pretty clear language there, that the people who—when you use terms—at least back East here, if you use terms like “illegal alien”—you can say “illegal worker.” When you match up “illegal” and “alien” and double up in your language, you show which side you‘re on in the whole immigration issue. If you say “undocumented workers,” you show yourself on the liberal side.
The language means everything, as we know.
Let‘s take a look at the West Virginia Senate race. Here is Joe Manchin. He‘s the Democratic governor fighting for the Senate seat. Here is his ad against the wealthy John Raese.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JOE MANCHIN CAMPAIGN AD)
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I‘m Joe Manchin, and I approve this message.
JOHN RAESE ®, WEST VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have already been defeated three times. That‘s a pretty good message from West Virginia, I think.
But I‘m going to tell you this. I don‘t agree with minimum wage. I‘m in the business of not providing jobs. I‘m in the business of making money.
We don‘t need the Department of Education.
We need 1,000 laser systems put in the sky, and we need it right now.
NARRATOR: John Raese‘s ideas are crazy.
RAESE: Why am I running? Do I need this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Of all the things I think the voters want, I can‘t think of strategic defense and putting lasers in the sky right now as one of their primary goals.
And, by the way, aren‘t you at least supposed to give lip service to the idea that capitalism creates jobs? You aren‘t supposed to say, I‘m in the business not of providing jobs, but making money? Aren‘t you supposed to present, at least the way Meg Whitman does, I‘m out there creating thousands of jobs in the Silicon Valley, as if that was my goal, not to make money?
But this guy just says: I‘m not in it to hire anybody. I‘m in it to make money.
It doesn‘t seem like that‘s a campaign plea.
RALSTON: Well, what‘s interesting about that, though, Chris, is the use of the word crazy, which you know is going on in a lot of these races. It‘s certainly happening here, too, where these Democrats, a lot of Democrats at least, don‘t want to run on their records, and a lot of them are running away from the president now.
And so the only way they can win is to call their opponents crazy.
And guess what?
RALSTON: Some of them are. And some of Sharron Angle‘s, for instance, -- if I could just go back real quickly—I mean, some of the things she has said have been called crazy by Harry Reid and others. He has to marginalize her.
So, that‘s—you know that‘s a classic technique that‘s being used, to call somebody crazy.
RALSTON: You may not like me, may not like me, but look out for that other person. They‘re really whacked.
MATTHEWS: Yes. You know what Reagan‘s response to that was? I will admit I‘m irresponsible when they admit they‘re responsible, which I thought that was one of the great comebacks from the right.
I don‘t think it will work with somebody. It might work with her, with though. Here‘s—with your candidate out there on the Republican side.
Let‘s take a look at Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown, people are raving about this ad, because it apparently is one of those brilliant ads that knocks the block off the other side. Let‘s listen to Jerry Brown‘s closer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JERRY BROWN CAMPAIGN AD)
MEG WHITMAN ®, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, 30 years ago, anything was possible in this state.
(On screen): Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.
NARRATOR: As governor, he cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo. Budgets were balanced, $4 billion in tax cuts, world-class schools and universities, clean energy promoted, 1.9 million new jobs created. California was working.
Jerry Brown, the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t know what that last part was, but, “Thirty years ago, anything was possible in this state.”
MATTHEWS: And whoever wrote that ad for poor Meg Whitman—she‘s not poor, but poor in this case—didn‘t remember that Jerry Brown was governor 30 years ago.
MATTHEWS: How do you make the—doesn‘t anybody have a fact-checker with these people?
RALSTON: That would seem to be a basic thing, too. You know, the good old days of Jerry Brown, that is really a huge mistake. And, of course, he‘s been winning there anyhow, Chris, but to make a mistake like that—and this is another thing that‘s happening a lot—I think you have noticed it, too—is being able to pull out someone‘s own words and use them against them in an ad to really make a strong comeback.
RALSTON: And I think that‘s what Jerry Brown has done there.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I like the way he took Meg Whitman‘s lines and showed that they were basically lip-synching what Arnold Schwarzenegger had said for years, I mean, all the same lines.
Let‘s take a look, again using tape. I think videotape does make the point.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to the Illinois governor‘s race.
Now, Pat Quinn is not doing well out there. He‘s the guy who succeeded to the office when Blagojevich left, not exactly a great position to be in. And he‘s looking kind of weak now. And here is one of those ads I think you‘re talking about, those desperation ads, where a Democratic incumbent has to throw the kitchen sink at the other person to have a chance. This is throwing cats and dogs at the opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PAT QUINN CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: To busy watching “Glee” to keep up with the governor‘s race? Here is what you missed.
February, the Republican Party is split. Bill Brady wins by just 193 votes, close. First thing he did, proposed a bill to kill dogs and cats in gas chambers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did do you that?
BILL BRADY ®, ILLINOIS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I have owned a pet all my life. I have—I—excuse me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it.
Let me go to Jeanne Cummings. She‘s joined us late, but Jeanne has been following this campaign and I have been reading her every day in Politico.
Jeanne, thanks for joining us.
We‘re talking about ads. You know, Jon just mentioned that some of these Democrats can‘t defend their records, so they think of something really screwy that the challenger has done, like apparently this thing of how to dispose, if you will, of animals. I hate this whole discussion, because I love animals.
But what is this about? Is this going to have any impact? Are people going to believe that the front-running candidate for governor is an enemy of animals?
JEANNE CUMMINGS, LOBBYING AND MONEY CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO.COM:
Well, you know he might get some PETA votes out of the whole thing.
CUMMINGS: But, you know, when the economy is the major issue for voters, you know, as Jon said, they‘re trying to change the issue and distract voters.
There are some issues that might be or arguments that might be compelling enough to distract voters for a bit, but I don‘t think animal treatment is going to be one of those.
I think, Jon, you‘re right.
Why do you think—do you think that‘s a good leading indicator of somebody who is failing when they go to the weird, rather than the relevant?
RALSTON: Well, listen, let‘s—what‘s going on now, a lot of these Democrats voted or supported Obama back when he was really popular, right?
And they were thrilled to do so, and now they‘re running away from the stimulus and from health care reform, except one place, Chris, here. Harry Reid has not run away from Obama, even though “Saturday Night Live” did that spoof. That spoof was not funny because Harry Reid has not run away from Obama. He‘s about the only Democrat in the country who has not.
RALSTON: But he‘s doing—he is doing the other technique, right? He‘s trying to say, you may not be thrilled. The economy here in Nevada is the worst in the country, but you can‘t turn it all over to this person.
By the way, I don‘t know about that pet thing. People love their pets, as you mentioned, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know.
RALSTON: I think people are going to be very, very upset. I think that‘s a real voting bloc pollsters have to start looking at.
MATTHEWS: Well, guess who is on the board of the International Fund for Animal Welfare? Me. I know exactly what you‘re talking about.
RALSTON: Yes, I figured that.
MATTHEWS: We like to save elephants and other animals.
Anyway, thank you, Jon Ralston. I think you‘re a straight reporter.
And, Jeanne Cummings, of course you are. I love reading you every day in the Politico.
Up next: We have seen a lot of chutzpah from politics over the years, politicians, but New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg takes the cake. Wait until you catch—I like Mike, but what a position he‘s taken on term limits. They‘re good for other people. That‘s his attitude.
MATTHEWS: You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First: Let the blame game begin.
Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln may be headed toward a big loss next Tuesday. So, what went wrong? In a radio interview, Senator Lincoln blamed her primary challenger, the progressive favorite, Bill Halter.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: When somebody spends $21 million of negative advertising against you, you have got to spend an awful lot of time and energy winning back people‘s approval and winning back people‘s trust. And that‘s exactly what I have done.
QUESTION: Do you think you would be even with Boozman now if not for that tough primary?
LINCOLN: Oh, yes.
LINCOLN: Yes, I do. I believe I would.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, primary challenges usually cause problems for incumbents in the general election come November. The challenger can always argue, however, that he or she would have won in November.
Next: Do as I say, not as I do.
Back in 2008, Gotham Mayor Mike Bloomberg pushed the City Council to end that two-term limit, so that he run for a third term. Well, catch this. Bloomberg said yesterday that he will now vote for a ballot initiative to set the term back to—limit back to two terms, to restore the very law that was changed just for him.
Well, Bloomberg staffers said his boss‘ situation two years ago was extraordinary.
Well, could the extraordinary circumstances back then be that Mike Bloomberg simply wanted a third term?
Finally, a spoiler alert out in Colorado: Remember Dan Maes? He‘s the Republican candidate for governor. He‘s the guy who said that a Denver bike share program is actually a United Nations conspiracy, just one of the reasons Maes is polling well below Democrat John Hickenlooper and even third-party candidate Tom Tancredo, who is up about 40.
See there, he‘s down at 8.6, and he‘s the candidate for governor. The significance? If Maes doesn‘t get at least 10 percent of the vote in November, the Republican Party in that state will be relegated to minor-party status. That means Republican candidates out in Colorado won‘t be there at the top of the ballot in either 2012 or the 2014 elections.
One winner in all this, Tancredo‘s American Constitution Party, which is poised to gain major-party status for the next two elections, thanks to Tancredo.
Now for tonight‘s “Big Number”: The 2010 cycle continues to smash fund-raising records. Here‘s yet another one. Catch this. House and Senate candidates this year are on track to spend a total—and this is really bothersome to people -- $2 billion -- $2 billion—B—billion dollars. That‘s about $4 million per congressional race -- $2 billion they‘re spending to get us to vote for them.
That‘s tonight—well, it‘s money-talks “Big Number.”
Up next: Florida‘s Senate race has overshadowed the other big race in the Sunshine State. The governor‘s race might actually be the one to watch next Tuesday. Republicans are accusing Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor, of cheating in last night‘s debate.
Sink joins us next to explain right here what happened and why she hasn‘t been able to put Rick Scott, who has got his huge problems, away.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks finishing pretty much flat, the Dow inching up five points, the S&P totally flat, and the Nasdaq adding six points.
In economic news, a small increase in consumer confidence offsetting a second month of falling home prices.
A blockbuster earnings report from Coach sent its shares soaring, boosting other retailers as well. Ford also delivering solid earnings with a 68 percent jump in third-quarter income.
But steelmakers are lower across the board on slowing demand, falling prices, and rising costs—now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
The governor—the Florida governor‘s debate last night between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott got nasty, but an incident that happened during the commercial break is what is dominating today‘s headlines.
As you can see—let‘s all watch this together—this is a CNN.com video we‘re watching—a makeup artist—there she is in the light hair, the blonde hair—showed an electronic message to Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee. It turned out to be one from her campaign aides, one of her aides.
And Scott was quick to point out—he‘s the Republican guy looking over there—was quick to point out that the opponent, his opponent, had violated the rules when the debate resumed.
Let‘s listen to him now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SCOTT ®, FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: First, Alex, you say you always follow the rules. The rule was no one is supposed to give us messages during the break. And your campaign did with an iPad—or iPod.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Florida‘s Democratic candidate for governor, Alex Sink, joins us now.
Alex Sink, I have heard nothing but good things about you in this campaign. I have heard you‘re a great candidate. You‘re a great—you have a great chance to win down there in a very important state for your party. And my question is, did you know the rules? Did you know you were breaking them?
ALEX SINK (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what happened was, Chris, last night that the makeup artist held up her phone and said:
“I just got this message. I don‘t know who it‘s from.”
I looked at it because, you know, I‘m a mom. My instinct is, my daughter‘s in Europe. I don‘t know who this message is from. I glanced at it. I didn‘t understand even what it was. And I just ignored it.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough.
In fact, I—let‘s look at the message now, because the message is badly written, even by the terms of the kind of messages we get on our phones. It comes from an adviser named Brian May, who you have dumped now, apparently—quote—“The attorney who won the Sykes suit said Alex Sink did nothing wrong. Tell not to let him keep talking about her.”
Well, that‘s a strange bit of advice. And it‘s not exactly like feeding you the unemployment rate in Florida or anything like that.
So, you‘re arguing that you got nothing of any help to you in that debate?
SINK: Oh, absolutely not. And, besides, I didn‘t know it was from Brian May at the time. After the campaign—after the debate, I asked what that was all about.
He said that he had sent it in. And I said, Brian, that was against the rules. And I can‘t have someone who doesn‘t play by the rules in my campaign.
And he has left the campaign.
MATTHEWS: What would you have done if you had looked over and seen Mr. Scott do exactly what you did, in other words, take a call or look at something on a phone? What you have done if that moment was reversed, right?
MATTHEWS: What we‘re watching now is the—so, suppose he was getting advice from somebody, he was getting a phone message, and he was reading it, as you are now, reading it carefully. If he were doing that, what would you do to him?
SINK: Well, actually—
MATTHEWS: Honestly, would you have called him on it?
SINK: Well, actually, that—something like that did happen in the very first Univision debate. He walked into the debate with three or four pages worth of notes, which was clearly against the agreement. And I didn‘t make a big deal out of it.
MATTHEWS: Why is he ahead in the poll? I hear he‘s a winger. I hear he‘s got all kinds of problems with his company and a big Medicare scandal. He doesn‘t seem very likable.
Is this environmental down there? Is Florida going wacky right? What is—your state has always been somewhat in the middle politically. It‘s got so much diversity. What is going on in Florida? Are they just in a testy mood? They will go with somebody like this?
SINK: Well, we haven‘t had a Democratic governor elected in 16 years.
And, actually, what‘s wacky that‘s going on this year is that the two largest law enforcement organizations have endorsed me, the Democrat, the first time in more than 20 years that they have endorsed a Democrat.
SINK: And, in addition, 16 newspapers have endorsed me. He has not gotten a single editorial endorsement, even from the most conservative newspaper there in Jacksonville.
So, that‘s the strange thing that‘s really happening in Florida this year.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he‘s crooked?
SINK: Well, all I know is that he—
MATTHEWS: I mean, based upon this Medicare story? I‘m talking about his company and his personal dealings. They had to pay a big suit, a couple million bucks. What does that tell you?
Let me just go to the particulars. What does the fact that they got hit with this suit and had to pay damages, what does that tell you about his character? And is that an issue, or not? You can let it pass.
SINK: His character is an absolute issue. It may be the issue in this campaign. He led a company that charged—was charged with the largest Medicare fraud fine in the history of this country.
And when, he went to do a deposition, he took the Fifth 75 times. Can you imagine having a governor of any state who took the Fifth 75 times because he was afraid of incriminating himself?
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, it wouldn‘t work for me.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the issues down there to the public.
You know, for months, we were obsessed with the BP oil spill. It turned out not as horribly as I thought it would. You didn‘t like the way, I‘m told, the president handled it. Tell me what you didn‘t like or thought he didn‘t do.
SINK: Well, I absolutely did not.
I went over there within—within days and saw that the federal government had put BP in charge of the claims process. BP is an oil drilling company. They didn‘t know anything about handling claims. And, besides, they‘re the ones who caused the problem.
I thought the administration should have brought in an independent adviser, or FEMA even should have been brought in. And it took them months before they finally named this Ken Feinberg. And he hasn‘t done much of a better job for Florida small businesses.
It‘s—it hasn‘t been a good situation, Chris, very disturbing.
MATTHEWS: What—you know, what do you think of Charlie Crist, the current governor? You like him?
SINK: Oh, I like him very much. I like him very much. He has a good heart.
And he is—really cares about the people of Florida.
MATTHEWS: So, I thought he was sort of centrist Florida. I thought that—and we‘re going to have David Eisenhower on and Julie Nixon on in a minute.
And I‘ll tell you, the Republican Party used to be for things, positive things, and now it‘s gotten into this wing nut era.
MATTHEWS: It used to be for making Social Security work better, not getting rid of it, fairer taxes, not getting rid of the IRS, better defense, not having laser beams all over the place. It used to be somewhat on balance.
And now it‘s gone off to this crazy thing of everybody has got a gun.
Everybody has to have a gun to take down their government if they have to.
Is that the Florida Republican Party, as you see it? Is it that far over?
SINK: Well, it certainly has gotten much more conservative. In fact, people are predicting that the Senate and the House, the legislature, will be the most conservative legislature in the history of our—this state. And that‘s why many moderate Republicans are endorsing me.
I have law enforcement officers, sheriffs, newspapers, of course. And Republican elected officials have just had enough. And that‘s why they are publicly endorsing me, the Democrat, in this race.
MATTHEWS: Alex Sink, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck in your race for governor in Florida.
Up next: there‘s no doubt the Republican Party is moving hard right. So, how much does that sit with them—how does it sit with the son—well, the grandson and the daughter of two Republican presidents?
Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower join us next.
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, the White House is bracing for big losses in next week‘s midterms, of course—but here‘s a poll number they‘ve got to like. President Obama is actually in better shape right now at this point in his presidency than Ronald Reagan was at this point. The “National Journal”/Pew poll finds 47 percent of Americans want Obama to run again in 2012.
Before the midterms in 1982, only 36 percent wanted Ronald Reagan to run again. Republicans, by the way, lost only 26 seats in that year. Two years later, Reagan beat Walter Mondale in one of the biggest landslides in history.
HARDBALL will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Joining me right now is Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower.
Their now book, “Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D.
Welcome to you two. It is so great to have you on this show, David and Julie.
And congratulations on the book. It is heart-warming. It‘s about a nice time in the ‘60s when General Eisenhower, when back to being general again and he moved to Gettysburg. Actually, been leaving there.
And I guess I have to ask you some HARDBALL questions since you‘re on this show, and there‘s nothing you won‘t like to answer, I don‘t think.
One of them is: I grew up with the phrase as a Pennsylvania—I was actually from Philly, which isn‘t exactly Pennsylvania, it seems like it‘s a different state sometimes—of an Eisenhower Republican, meaning somebody who is internationalist, who believed in the Marshall Plan, believed in the U.N., believed in getting along with other countries, believed in all kinds of global realities—wasn‘t tough type, wasn‘t old school, wasn‘t nasty about foreigners.
What happened to Eisenhower Republicans, David Eisenhower? You‘re the historian.
DAVID EISENHOWER, CO-AUTHOR, “GOING HOME TO GLORY”: Chris, good to see you again.
Actually, the label “Eisenhower Republicans” did not last a long time, and the book “Going Home to Glory” is our effort to sort of rekindle appreciation for the kind of figure and kind of leader that Dwight Eisenhower was.
I think what Eisenhower Republicanism meant is Lincolnian, that is people are governed best, who are governed least. That‘s in principle, but moderation and sympathy to all points of view, service, style of government in that era.
And, I think that what we are trying to do in this book is to rekindle appreciation for it.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, he had a very interesting relationship with Lyndon Johnson. He was the Republican president. He had got two terms, got re-elected easily. And especially in that second term, he was able to work with a Democratic Congress—
D. EISENHOWER: Right.
MATTHEWS: -- a really profoundly Democratic Congress. And he sort of shared the government. That‘s something that you don‘t see too much of, where he said, OK, I want foreign policy, I know what I‘m doing. I won the war in Europe, so, leave me—leave me alone over there. I will give you some breaks on budget stuff, things like that.
D. EISENHOWER: Well, that carries over into the period we cover in this book, in fact. Lyndon Johnson as president and Dwight Eisenhower is general, and they are cooperating during the Vietnam era.
But what you begin to see in the 1960s is that this spirit of bipartisanship really begins to fray. And so the—you know, ideological lines are being drawn and the notion of moderation is sort of going out of style.
D. EISENHOWER: I—but what I think the history of those times and so forth in the past shows that we do have periods of—and as a democracy, we can achieve periods in American history where we feel we are on the right track and where we feel that we have come up with the right direction politically and so forth, and Republicans and Democrats can experience any sort of bipartisan era of good feeling. We haven‘t had an era of good feeling recently.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve got to get to Julie.
Julie, I got a big question for you.
I remember a president who pushed for employer mandates. He was going to have every employer in the country give health insurance to his employees or her employees, and that president also believed in environment, created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality. And he ended the dual school system, the segregated school system in the South. He did all these kinds of things and his name was Dick Nixon.
I wonder, do you ever think back that your dad was quite the liberal by today‘s standards?
JULIE NIXON EISENHOWER, CO-AUTHOR, “GOING HOME TO GLORY”: Well, he was a man of his times for them. Because when you said, Chris, that we look back nostalgically at the ‘60s—actually, that was an incredible turbulent time, building the chorus or the crescendo of the election year of ‘68.
And I can‘t imagine that anyone elected in the year ‘ 68, with riots and, you know, over bussing and over the war and race, you had to be with the times. You had to move forward. You had to give people hope.
J. EISENHOWER: And so, you had to be progressive. I think it called for it then.
MATTHEWS: Are you happy with that record of your dad‘s on those progressive issues?
J. EISENHOWER: Well, I‘m really happy that you—
MATTHEWS: I mean, it seems like he was more progressive than—more progressive than Obama.
J. EISENHOWER: I‘m really happy you mentioned ending the dual—you know, the segregation of the Southern schools. That was one of the great achievements that‘s not talked about a lot.
But we had a—it was really interesting going back and doing this
book because so many times when we quote Eisenhower in “Going Home to
Glory,” it‘s like he‘s speaking to America from the grave. It‘s—he is -
it‘s just right on point.
J. EISENHOWER: It‘s what we need to hear today about moderation.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a great book. I‘m reading it and I‘m going to finish it. I promise.
J. EISENHOWER: OK, good.
MATTHEWS: I‘m going to finish this book. I do read books.
The name of the book is “Going Home to Glory.” It‘s a nice, easy read and it brings back a nice, nostalgic time when people got along a lot better.
Thank you, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, it‘s great to see you.
Thank you, David Eisenhower, a great professor at Penn.
The book is “Going Home to Glory.”
When we return, let me finish with something good to say about politician. You can‘t live with them, you can‘t live them without them. Not in this democracy.
You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something about the candidates now sweating out this last week.
There‘s nothing like it I suppose, having your whole person out there for public inspection. If you run for office, especially in these times, you‘re pretty much completely exposed. People get to decide what they think of you in toto, your personality, how you come across what you have done in public office, what you might do.
It‘s like what author Tom Wolfe wrote in “Bonfire of the Vanities,” it‘s like being a human arcade that people can walk through, pointing out different features of yours, seeing and saying whatever they like, commenting out loud on whatever they don‘t like about you, leaving their fingerprints, the harsh memory of rejection, all over you.
What is it that drives men and women to do this, to submit themselves to this manhandling, this being treated like an unwanted pair of gloves, fingered with, tossed back again and again like they were some item on display in the counter at Filene‘s Basement?
Why would anyone want to be treated like this? Yet, every two or four years, men and increasingly women line up to take the abuse—sometimes paying huge bags of their own money for the privilege.
And the simple fact is: we need these people, need them there on the ballot, need some of them as our leaders. Why? Because democracy—at least as we practice it. It‘s not some exercise where people join together and as a community, pick leaders. It‘s all together different, it‘s a process of would-be leaders picking themselves, getting out there where people can attack them, out there with their names and reputations can be spat upon, or worse.
I say all this because I know enough of the world to know that other countries don‘t have such luck. They could use these politicians—these people who trust democracy enough—to take their chances with it. They don‘t have people like Bill Clinton and all those lesser political lights. They don‘t have people who have the stuff to pull themselves together, who know how to sell themselves, to build coalitions, to make themselves into leaders.
Why else do you think this nation-building out there in Afghanistan is so hard? It‘s because it‘s hard to find natural democratic leaders, except in those countries like ours where people can grow up knowing they have a shot at being one.
So, get out there and vote for the best of them, and don‘t begrudge all the other would-be politicians because the worst countries are places where they don‘t have them.
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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