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updated 1/19/2011 12:42:54 PM ET 2011-01-19T17:42:54

Guests: Andrea Mitchell, David Corn, Shushannah Walshe, Brian Levin, Errol Louis, Rob Woodall, Robert Andrews, Ron Reagan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Sticking to her guns.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

Bloodless.  In her first interview since that FaceBook video, Sarah Palin went to the comfy confines of Fox News and offered nothing, no apology for inflammatory rhetoric and no regrets for the use of that term “blood libel.”  Speaking for her posse of Rush, Mark and Sean, she said, “They can‘t make us sit down and shut up”—“they” being that off-stage posse she touts around with her for rebuke.

Also, you heard it here first on HARDBALL.  Long before Tucson, we warned about all the loose talk about guns and hatred directed toward public officials.  We, like Gabby Giffords herself, were being preemptive.  We‘ll show you what we said, what was said here on HARDBALL, and remind all if Jared Loughner didn‘t connect the dots between hateful rhetoric and a politician, who‘s so sure someone else won‘t?

Plus, second chances.  After attacking Democrats for fixating on health care, guess what?  House Republicans are fixated on health care and not jobs.  They‘re devoting (ph) control of the House, which they now have, with a symbolic vote to repeal health care that has no chance of becoming law.  This gives the Democrats a second chance to sell health care reform themselves.  Can they sell it better this time?

And Ron Reagan is debuting tonight the book he‘s written on his father.  Can‘t wait for that.

And we remember tonight—he just died—Sargent Shriver, who died today at the age of 95.  I‘ve got lots to say about this amazing, wonderful man.

Let‘s start with Sarah Palin.  Shushannah Walshe is a political reporter for The DailyBeast and co-author of “Sarah From Alaska.”  Shushannah, thank you for joining us.  And MSNBC political analyst David Corn writes about (SIC) “Mother Jones” and politics today.

Shushannah, you know—you cover—you understand better than I do from this distance, all the way from Alaska—sometimes she‘s hard to fathom.  She can see Alaska.  We can‘t always see her—I‘m sorry—she can see Russia.  We can‘t see her that clearly.  What is this use of a term “blood libel”?  It‘s strange use for—of a language.  She chose to use it, hid for a week, popped up on the comfortable Fox News, where she works, last night, and sort of explained it.  But I don‘t know what to make of her.  Why does she use phrases she‘s not apparently familiar with, and then a week later, say she‘s familiar with them and only talk about it with someone who‘s basically her colleague?

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, DAILYBEAST.COM, CO-AUTHOR, “SARAH FROM ALASKA”: 

Right.  Well, I mean, she did go on Fox News.  It was—Sean is one of her colleagues.  And as you say, it was a safe confine (ph).  But I thought what was interesting and what you just pointed out when talking about blood libel, is in that interview, she said that nobody asked her if she knew what it meant and I...

MATTHEWS:  Well, who would have asked her?  She‘s in an igloo up there somewhere.  She‘s not answering any questions.

WALSHE:  Right...

MATTHEWS:  Who would have asked her?  She‘s done no interviews, and she says, Nobody‘s asked me.  What does it mean to say, Nobody‘s asked me, if you don‘t let anybody near you who could ask you?

WALSHE:  It was really hard to figure it out.  And she said it in a way that she was quite incredulous that nobody had asked her.  But really, I mean, at this point, it‘s—everyone wanted to know what she meant by that and why should would...

MATTHEWS:  Everything from her...

WALSHE:  ... use such an inflammatory term.

MATTHEWS:  ... is a rebuke of someone else.  You ask her a question, she attacks people, these off-stage people she keeps referring to, these “they,” as somebody who didn‘t get around to asking her, as if she was being interviewed at length and the question never came up.

Here she is, David.

WALSHE:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  You respond to this.  Here‘s Sarah Palin—I can‘t call it an interview—in a meeting among colleagues on Fox News.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Here she is on Sean last night, responding to the broad criticism of her for the use of that term.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FOX CONTRIBUTOR:  I don‘t know how the heck they would know whether I did or didn‘t know the term “blood libel.”  Nobody‘s ever asked me.  And “blood libel,” obviously, means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands.  And in this case, that‘s exactly what was going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, they used to say about Barry Goldwater, I don‘t have to wait until—I shouldn‘t have to wait until Friday to know what he meant on Tuesday.  I mean, why didn‘t she tweet—that seems to be her way of talking today...

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t she tweet an explanation of the term when it came into question?

CORN:  Or Sean Hannity last night could have said, OK, Governor, did you know at the time what it meant?  What did you think it meant?  He didn‘t take the opportunity.  It was wide open.

You know, Sarah Palin had a great opportunity yet again to speak beyond her base and say, You know, Sean, I used the term.  I think it fit, but I understand why some people think it‘s over the top.  And as John McCain wrote in that wonderful op-ed piece about dialing back the rhetoric, I‘m happy to do my part.  And I hope the people who attack me are happy to do theirs.

She can never seem to rise above this self-victimization, you know, that she‘s always—pardon the pun—the target of everything.  And even if she‘s right...

MATTHEWS:  Well, grievances are numbered.

CORN:  Exactly.  Even if she is right, I think she‘s trying to mirror the resentment...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CORN:  ... that her base feels.

MATTHEWS:  Shushannah, I want you to get back at this.  You‘re the expert.  Let‘s talk about this.  Here she is last night using the phrase she would be comfortable with, sticking to her guns, in that interview, if you will, with Sean Hannity last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I will continue to speak out.  They‘re not going shut me up.  They‘re not going to shut you up or Rush or Mark Levin or Tea Party patriots or those who, as I say, respectfully and patriotically petition their government for change.  They can‘t make us sit down and shut up, and if they ever were to succeed in doing that, then our republic will be destroyed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there she gets into that weird kind of staccato, “our republic will be destroyed.”  And then she‘s talking about “destroyed.”  In other words, if we don‘t hear from Mark Levin—excuse me—Sean Hannity and her, the republic will be destroyed.

And by the way, nobody‘s told them to, quote, unquote, “shut up.”  People have said, Stop talking about guns and raising the heat level about guns and your hatred of elected officials because somebody‘s going connect those two issues, guns and how much they hate a politician.  We know one guy did.  No evidence he was politically inspired, but we know he shot a politician.  We know he shot a lot of other people at a political event.  And we know what else?  He used a gun.  I‘m sorry, it‘s related.

Does she see the connection between guns, political hatred and targeting politicians, like she did in her TV thing with the crosshairs on it and talking about reloading and bullseyes?  Does she see the connection between that and reality?

WALSHE:  Well, I mean, I think that everything that‘s happened since Tucson and people at first going after her and saying that she was connected to it, she has felt so under attack.  And that‘s why you see these series of really mistakes where, as David said, she had the opportunity to say, Hey, you know, I have nothing to do with this.  The right wing has nothing to do with this.  This is a crazy person that‘s attached (ph) to this.  But it‘s a good time for us as a country to come together and say, Hey, this language doesn‘t work, and I‘m sorry for that crosshairs map.  I‘m sorry for using language that I have in the past.

But that didn‘t happen.  And this is another opportunity where if she had—she could have really appealed to more people...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

WALSHE:  ... and she‘s not done that.  And I‘m somebody who‘s always thought that she‘s going to be—that she wants to run for president, that she‘s planning to run for president.  But more of these moves, I‘m just not sure at this point.  And I‘ve always said that.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s possible that she‘s given up on being a legitimate candidate—legitimate—I mean, obviously, she would be legitimate, but a mainstream possibility, instead decides she‘s going to be something like Buffalo Bill in a Wild West show, she‘s going to be the country lady, the mama grizzly, put on kind of a national show which could be very lucrative for her and very successful and be somewhat entertaining and perhaps on occasion useful, but never really try to get 51 percent of the country?  Do you think she might say, I‘d rather have my slug, my 10 percent that loves me?  If the other 90 doesn‘t like me—do you think she might be going that way (INAUDIBLE) just your thought on that.

WALSHE:  You know, Chris, I‘ve always said, no, I thought that she wanted to run for president, but the moves in the last few days make me question that, made me think she does just want to be a talking head and she just wants to play to her fervent, passionate supporters, where she—no matter what she says, they love her and they‘ll support her.  She has had opportunities to—including this one, to talk to more Americans, to appeal to more Americans, and she has decided against that.  So I...

CORN:  This tragedy was ready made for her to take a step, even if just inches, beyond her base, right, Chris?

WALSHE:  Right.

CORN:  She could have said anything that Shushannah or I suggested, or anything of her own.  I tend to think—you know, we—we—we think, What‘s her strategy?  What‘s her game?  What‘s her aim?

MATTHEWS:  Guns.

CORN:  Maybe she‘s...

MATTHEWS:  She has to keep talking about guns.

CORN:  Maybe she‘s just speaking from the heart.  Maybe the most important thing to Sarah Palin is the fact that she feels under attack and she just has to express herself, which is not necessarily...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CORN:  ... a good way to reach out or win the presidency, but it does...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CORN:  ... you know—it does...

MATTHEWS:  To make both of your points, you notice she didn‘t include herself with elected officials or John McCain or people that ran for president before.  She included in her tong, her group...

WALSHE:  Right.

CORN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... Rush Limbaugh, who‘s is pretty far to the right, Mark Levin, who‘s further to the right, Sean it‘s hard to tell, somewhere in the middle there.  She‘s identifying with the most far right, in some cases—in fact, I think all those cases...

CORN:  These are the...

MATTHEWS:  ... except for Sean, who...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... personality, she‘s identified with the most right-wing people on the air.

CORN:  These are the leaders...

MATTHEWS:  As her people.

CORN:  ... of the Republican or conservative movement.

MATTHEWS:  “We‘re not going shut up.”

CORN:  Well, and she said they‘re not—we‘re not going to—more important, We‘re not going to let them shut us up, which, of course, is...

MATTHEWS:  Well, who‘s this “us” now?  She‘s now the—last thought, Shushannah.  Is she the circled wagon?  Is she the mama grizzly with the wagon train circled now, and in the wagon train circle are Mark Levin, her new friend, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and her, not the Republican Party?

WALSHE:  Well, that‘s what you‘re seeing in that interview yesterday.  Before that, I would have—would have said that she‘s running for president.  I still believe that.  But she is ignoring ways for her to appeal to the rest of the country.  I thought her TV show made her more appealing to the rest of the country.  But in these moves and these decisions that she‘s behind—I mean, it‘s not like people are pulling the wires.  She‘s making the decisions here.  She‘s just not appealing to a broader part of the country, a broader part of the electorate.

Her supporters will say she should defend herself, that she was being linked to this crime where she has absolutely no link.  She has to defend herself.  But she could have gone about it in a different way that would have made her more appealing to the rest of the country.

CORN:  It seems all she cares about is planet Palin...

MATTHEWS:  Well, patriots.

CORN:  ... which is a large, you know, sized asteroid body.

MATTHEWS:  I hate the word “patriot” used exclusively.

CORN:  But—but...

MATTHEWS:  It means that other people aren‘t—well -- (INAUDIBLE)

CORN:  No, I was just saying she is not thinking beyond her own horizons, which is not good for any politician.

MATTHEWS:  Well...

CORN:  But it works well if you‘re trying to raise a lot of money...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CORN:  ... from a small group.

MATTHEWS:  ... this strategy of going on Sean Hannity and talking to her colleague under obviously comfortable conditions and taking a whole week to respond to a firestorm she started, is not the usual kind of campaigning we‘re used to.  I‘m with you, Shushannah.  I don‘t think she‘s running for president.  I think she‘s running for mama grizzly, and she‘s getting there.

Thank you, David...

WALSHE:  And that‘s hard for me to say that.  I didn‘t believe that before.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think she wants to be mama grizzly.  She wants to be Buffalo Bill with a Wild West show, 21st century version.

Thank you, David Corn.  Nothing wrong with that, by the way...

CORN:  Oh, no.  It‘s fine.

MATTHEWS:  ... except for the gun talk.  Thank you, Shushannah, again, Shushannah Walshe...

WALSHE:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... for joining us from DailyBeast.

Coming up: Just because there‘s no evidence that the gunman in the Tucson shooting was motivated by violent anti-government rhetoric—although who knows—it‘s hardly a go-ahead to keep talking that way for some people because there is a very real fear that someone will act on the words he or she hears.  We‘re going to go back before last weekend‘s massacre with you folks watching to a lot of the people who said way before the Tucson horror that it was coming, that this extreme talk was dangerous, and sooner or later would ignite a problem.  We don‘t know any connections here.  But by the way, we haven‘t stopped talking like this, a lot of people, this dangerous talk, and we haven‘t stopped talking about guns, and there are a lot of them out there.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Former vice president Dick Cheney says that Barack Obama will be one-term president.  He‘s sticking to that belief.  Here he is with NBC‘s Jamie Gangel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  His overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit, giving more and more authority and power to the government over the private sector, his lack of sort of a feel for the role of the private sector in creating jobs and creating wealth and getting our economy back on track—those are all weaknesses, as I look at Barack Obama.  And I think he‘ll be a one-term president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Cheney‘s also saying that President Obama is, quote, “learning from experience” that the Bush policies on terrorism were good.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHENEY:  I think he‘s found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did.  They‘ve gotten active, for example, with the drone program, using the Predator and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets in various places in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, “getting active” may not be the right phrase.  The Obama administration‘s been using those drones to knock out terror targets ever since his first very few weeks in office.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  ... language and gun talk dominated the last couple years in politics.  And well before that rampage in Tucson, we‘d been warning here about the consequences of such incendiary rhetoric.  Here‘s just a sampling of how we sounded the alarm bells on HARDBALL way before Tucson.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  And they‘re using violence-tinged language.  They are speaking to the lowest common denominator.

DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  We don‘t want the rhetoric to get out of control.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I think it‘s very—very dangerous, very sobering, and people should be denouncing this.

MATTHEWS:  They are justifying violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What disturbs me a little bit about watching Sharron Angle is what I would describe, her careless rhetoric.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS (D), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE:  People like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, their rhetoric I think is dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is very incendiary kind of language.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They just say whatever‘s on their mind, a careless use of language, very dangerous language.

REAGAN:  They‘re not speaking to the, you know, reasonable Tea Partier.

BRINKLEY:  We‘re on a bit of a red alert.

WALSH:  ... discrediting our great American system and threatening, if they don‘t get their way, that we might need “2nd Amendment remedies” and we might need a revolution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  So this isn‘t new, nor are the warnings new.  As NBC‘s own Joe Scarborough wrote in Politico, quote, “Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don‘t connect in the Tucson case doesn‘t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility, or as many fear, the inevitability that someone else will soon draw the line between the rhetoric and the action.”

Why won‘t Republican leaders call out this inflammatory gun and hate talk?  Brian Levin is with—is director, in fact, of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, and Errol Louis is host, of course, at New York 1.

Gentlemen, this violent language from the right, this constant

reference to guns, this hatred of elected officials—now, Michael

Kinsley, the brilliant writer said the other day, No—well, he just challenged those who say there is no connection to Tucson.  He‘s pretty tough.  He says constantly saying “gold standard,” constantly attacking government officials, constantly saying they‘re the other, the enemy, constantly talking about guns—OK, this guy may certainly have mental problems—you can tell that, I suppose—but in this environment, are we safe to not see a possible connection in someone else‘s mind between the words and the possible violent action, Brian?

BRIAN LEVIN, CTR. FOR STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM, CSU:  Look, I think that we shouldn‘t hang our argument on whether one particular deranged person responded to this plethora of violent calls.  We had this guy Poplawski in Pittsburgh who murdered three police officers.  We had numerous plots revolving around President Obama.  We know that this kind of rhetoric, whether it affected Loughner, is not healthy.

There are three things that are going on here.  One, we have a real demonization now of political rivals, democratic institutions and processes.  We have exhortations, subtle and not so subtle, to violence, and we have the embrace of bizarre conspiracy theories.

And what I‘m saying to you is while the odds of it affecting this particular guy are pretty low—probably naught because he had contact with the congresswoman in 2007 and found her to be a phony, kind of like a Mark David Chapman thing—that doesn‘t mean that we should necessarily say that this is just, you know, a green light because there are a multitude of unstable people who are fanatic, who this will set a validating foundation for.

And one of the things we know about hatred and prejudice and aggression is that they are printed circuits of stereotypes in the ether, in the atmospheric society.  And this kind of language defines who is an appropriate target for aggression.  It might not have done it in this case, but it certainly has done it in others. 

MATTHEWS:  Errol, why do you think that all the talk that we have done on this program, and not that we‘re that powerful, empowered, but certainly we showed an example in that montage of—of all times that people on this program, regular guests, have pointed out the danger of violent talk, connecting guns to action, of connecting guns to politics, perhaps, the hatred level, the whole thing we‘re all used to now as part of this sort of bandwagon of the new kind of politics? 

Why does the right defend it?  Every day, every hour since the horror in Tucson, they have defended rhetoric.  Why don‘t they just say, yes, both sides are guilty and we should stop talking like this?

ERROL LOUIS, COLUMNIST, “THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  Well, apparently, it works for them.  The talk show hosts that you referred to earlier in this—this show, I mean, these are people who have multimillion-dollar contracts.  They have enormous audiences. 

They—they—they profit by giving speeches, you know?  They—they build power this way.  I mean, if you could—if you had your choice, the average listener, not somebody who is crazy, but really just an average listener who is sort of committed to a particular point of view, somebody who says, well, the other side is not so good, the other side needs beaten at the election, well, that‘s pretty good. 

Somebody who says they need to be destroyed, they need to be defeated and finds all of these flowery ways of—of saying how evil the other side is, it‘s much better, it‘s much more compelling radio, it‘s much more compelling television, and it—and it works. 

(CROSSTALK)

LOUIS:  And that‘s the real irresponsibility, because the folks who take the paychecks and cash them and walk away and then say, oh, I had no idea anything like this could possibly happen, don‘t blame me for it...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LOUIS:  ... they‘re—they are really being disingenuous, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I don‘t want to say down-and-outer, but sometimes it‘s appropriate, Brian.  And you‘re the expert on this. 

It seems to me, I listened to Savage for a while.  I used to go home at that hour he was on.  And he was so angry, I became sort of enthralled by him.  How can anybody be this angry every night?  His hatred level of people who—who are—who—anybody who is guilty of disagreeing with him or anybody who is a victim of something like AIDS, he would just trash them as victims.  The people with the wrong ethnic background, he would trash them.  Even if his own ethnic background, he would trash them.

The self-hatred, everything else involved, I was so enthralled by it.  But after a while, I said, I feel miserable.  I would rather listen to ‘60s music.  Turn on some kind of my favorite station on, you know, Sirius, listen to the ‘60s, because I‘m tired of feeling miserable. 

Is it true that people who are really down and out, who are really miserable and really angry do want to hear somebody who is miserable, that misery does love company, and that‘s why they listen to Mark Levin and Savage and those guys, because they are really down and out and they love a really miserable character to share their time with?  Is that what‘s going on here? 

(CROSSTALK)

LEVIN:  Savage is a miserable character.  And what‘s irresponsible about what he does is he points out particular ethnic groups and immigrants and he frames everything as if it‘s a war. 

Look at your show.  You don‘t call it a war.  You call it HARDBALL. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I see it as a sport sometimes, because it is. 

LEVIN:  It‘s a sport.  That‘s right.  It‘s a sport.

And one of the things that from your experience—and I think this is important—and the people who read your book, like I did, you served as a cop at the Capitol.  And you knew about respect for the institution and processes of democracy.

And one of the things that I think is so loathsome about what‘s going on here is it‘s not that there‘s a substantive side or a position.  What we‘re talking about here are characters who are the merchants of hate who make their living not on looking for solutions, but who make it on destruction and demonizing folks. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LEVIN:  And, by the way, we see this on the left. 

There were horrible pictures of John McCain and there was Sarah Palin hung in effigy in West Hollywood.  So we‘re not going to excuse that.  But I think when it becomes an industry, a divisive industry that focuses on demonization, violence, and the exploitation of bizarre conspiracy theories, what do you expect with certain unstable people that are out there and already angry?

(CROSSTALK)

LEVIN:  This validates how they feel and directs where their aggression should go.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks for the opportunity to say the Capitol Police are wonderful.  A lot of those men and women up there are second—they have already served their country in the military as M.P.s, many of them military veterans.  They come back and they work for the Capitol.  They will die for that building.  They totally are patriotic people.  They are the real patriots who want to defend our institutions, not attack them. 

Thank you, Brian Levin.

And thank you, Errol Louis, as always.

Up next:  Republicans blasted Democrats for focusing on health care and not jobs.  Guess what?  They are focusing on health care and how to destroy the bill.  They will never get rid of it, but I guess it‘s apparently fun pushing a phony repeal of health care that‘s not going anywhere, but they‘re going to pass time doing it.  A little bit of the French Revolution going on up on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

That‘s giving Democrats a chance, by the way, a good opportunity to make a better sale than they did when they pushed the thing through. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you like the efficiency of the post office, the confidence of FEMA, and the compassion of the IRS, we will love the nationalized health care bill. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On January 2 of this year, because we passed the affordable health care act, Tucker‘s (ph) father, Brett (ph), was able to change jobs because he no longer had to worry about the stigma of preexisting conditions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Today, the House members you are just watching there began debate on the repeal of the health care bill that was passed this year.  Democrats get a second chance to sell the virtues of the bill, if you will.  And the Republicans get to try to, at least emotionally, to kill it.  The question is, what are they gaining from all this effort to repeal?

Freshman Georgia Congressman Bob Woodall wants health care repealed.  And Congressman Robert Edwards—Andrews, rather, of New Jersey supports the bill. 

I‘m going to give Mr. Woodall the first chance, since he came to the studio.  And I always like people to come to the studio. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Woodall, what will you gain if you kill this bill in the House, knowing it‘s going to stay on the law books? 

REP. ROB WOODALL ®, GEORGIA:  For me, it‘s about promises made and promises kept, Chris. 

The big surprise to me is that we‘re actually keeping this promise.  This was something I talked about this for nine months on the campaign trail.

MATTHEWS:  To vote on it.  But you can‘t get rid of it.

WOODALL:  We will bring it to a vote.  We can‘t get rid of it because we don‘t have enough votes in the Senate and we don‘t have the White House.  But you need to keep your promises.  And we made this...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How is America going to be better for this debate? 

WOODALL:  They‘re actually because we‘re actually having the debate. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is that better for America? 

WOODALL:  I sat through 12 hours of Rules Committee hearings on this last week.

Time after time, folks came before the committee and said, we will repeal it all, except for this one stand-alone provision or this one stand-alone provision. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WOODALL:  We should have brought this entire bill to the floor last year one stand-alone provision at the time.  And if they had done that, Chris, if we had been able have a real debate on each provision, we wouldn‘t be able to repeal it today.

MATTHEWS:  Is it possible, Mr. Andrews, to improve this bill? 

In other words, Republicans say they can get—they can deal with the preexisting conditions issue, they can allow people to be carried on their parents‘ insurance policies through their early 20s, they can achieve many of the goals of the Democratic bill that was passed and signed by the president without all the bureaucracy and all the costs. 

Is that possible, or do you lose it all if you kill parts of it?

REP. ROBERT ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY:  You know, they say they want to do all those things.  They‘re going to repeal them tomorrow.

I would ask my new friend from Georgia, how do you avoid a massive premium increase on insured people if you cover preexisting conditions and don‘t add a lot of new people to the insurance pool?  How do you do that? 

WOODALL:  Well, you‘re exactly right, Rob.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  Well, how do you do it? 

ANDREWS:  How do you do it? 

WOODALL:  You‘re exactly right that it requires the unconstitutional mandate for this whole house of cards... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, how do you do what you want to do?  Answer the question.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  Yes, I know the speech.  How do you do it?  How do you do it? 

WOODALL:  No.  It‘s not the speech, though, Rob.  Let‘s be honest. 

Republicans get a bad rap for not doing this on Republicans‘ watch. 

But, Chris, you know, Republicans did exactly this in 1996.  With the HIPAA bill, we tackled preexisting conditions.  Now, we were principled enough to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How do you get insurance companies to cover people who are bad risks, without getting a lot of good risks, young, healthy people, to join insurance programs?

WOODALL:  We did exactly that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How do you do it? 

ANDREWS:  How do you do it? 

WOODALL:  We did it.

MATTHEWS:  Tell me how.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  At the federal level, what we said is, you will need to go through a waiting period and you will need have skin in the game.  But if you sign up in any ERISA-covered plan and you never let that plan drop, you will never be excluded based on preexisting conditions. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  And, Rob, Republicans did this.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  Did it work?  Do people in Georgia tell you that when they have cancer or diabetes, it works just fine and they don‘t get discriminated against because they have a preexisting condition?  Did it work?

WOODALL:  Rob, that‘s exactly right. 

What you‘re talking about—and I understand what you‘re...

ANDREWS:  Did it work?

WOODALL:  It worked perfectly for those ERISA plans. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  Absolutely it did. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  It was great. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  Rob, you got to give us credit for that... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just to follow up here, can a Georgian watching television right now get insured if they have cancer?  Can they get insured if they got have diabetes?  Can they get a decent policy at a decent price if they have those problems?

WOODALL:  Not just... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can they in Georgia?

WOODALL:  But any American on an ERISA plan is completely eliminated from any preexisting conditions statutes, as long as they have been covered in the past, as long as they didn‘t let their coverage lapse, because, as Rob said, you have to have skin in the game.  You have to have that coverage.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s what a preexisting condition is, by definition.  You don‘t have a policy and you have to go buy one. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, your turn.  Go ahead.

ANDREWS:  Well, can I ask my friend this?

If this all worked so well in 1996, this is news to most Americans.  But if did it, why did your side bring a substitute to the floor in 2009 that tried to do more then?  Why did they have to do that? 

WOODALL:  Rob, I asked that question too. 

In 1996, we did just those things that were federal responsibilities. 

ANDREWS:  Did they work? 

WOODALL:  What the Obama package does is it completely preempts state law and takes away all of those opportunities. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  Did they work? 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  If somebody has asthma or diabetes or breast cancer, can they get insurance today in this country at the same price someone without it can?  Can they do that?  

WOODALL:  Rob, in any ERISA plan in the country.  Hear me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Forget the ERISA.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can you walk into a company, insurance company, and buy it?

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  But you can‘t forget it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying if they‘re already insured, they can be insured.

WOODALL:  No, I‘m saying that we have two kind of regulators in this country.  We have state regulators and we have federal regulators.

Now, I want to leave the state regulatory questions to the state regulators.  But if you‘re in a federally regulated plan...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask a HARDBALL question. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  I think the answer is a no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mitt Romney is running for president.  Mitt Romney believes in an individual mandate at the state level.  Do you believe in an individual mandate at the state level?

WOODALL:  I believe...

MATTHEWS:  No.  Do you believe in an individual mandate?  Do you believe they were right in Massachusetts to require young people who are healthy to buy insurance to help cover the costs of older, unhealthy people?

WOODALL:  I don‘t believe in any mandate at all, but I respect the rights of the states to make those decisions one by one. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Congressman Andrews?  Yes, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  I just want to ask my friend from Georgia, are there death panels in this bill? 

WOODALL:  Rob, if what you‘re asking is, does this bill lead to rationed care, somebody has to make these tough decisions. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  Rob, why don‘t you even want to go down that...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  ... past?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, why don‘t you just say no?

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  Why don‘t you just say no?

MATTHEWS:  Mama grizzly says death panels.  Is she right? 

WOODALL:  She‘s right that care will be rationed.  And if she wants to put a death panel label on it...

MATTHEWS:  Will there be people coming around and telling you you‘re going to die?

WOODALL:  Is there a federal agency, Mr. Woodall, that...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  This is a real easy one. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, there‘s a larger question here. 

ANDREWS:  This is a real easy one.  It‘s yes or no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t ask a member of the Republican Party to question the wisdom of Sarah Palin. 

WOODALL:  It‘s not—it‘s that, why can‘t we talk about policies, instead of all the silly labels?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because she is a front-runner for president. 

WOODALL:  How much time have we spent debating the name of this bill?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You guys called it—you called it the job-killing bill. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  What about the substance of the bill? 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  I didn‘t get an answer to my policy question. 

Is there a federal agency in this law that has the power to deny someone care who is ill?  Is there such an agency? 

WOODALL:  Rob, my reading of the bill is, you actually expand the entitlements...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  That‘s nice. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  Is there such an agency?

(CROSSTALK)

WOODALL:  ... so large, that it‘s a completely unlimited entitlement. 

And you will spend dollars that we don‘t have. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  For the further debate, go watch C-SPAN.  There‘s more of this going on, on the floor right now.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  I think it was no.  I think that was a long way of saying no. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Congressman Andrews.

Thank you, Congressman Woodall.

ANDREWS:  Take care.

MATTHEWS:  A lively debate. 

Up next:  Ron Reagan has written a new book about his father, President Reagan, who would be 100 years old this year.  It‘s making a lot of noise.  We‘re going to have him here right now to view the book.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks pushing modestly higher on some mixed earnings this day, the Dow climbing 50 points.  The S&P 500 was up nearly two and the Nasdaq added 10. 

Let‘s talk about tech titans.  Apple and IBM releasing earnings just after the closing bell, Apple of course announcing another medical leave for the CEO, Steve Jobs, but as we have seen in the past, his health issues not having a major impact on the share price.  Meanwhile, his company blowing earnings estimates right out of the water, blockbuster holiday sales of anything with an I. in the name, pads, phones, pods.

And IBM trouncing estimates with record earnings boosted by strong growth in service contracts.  Boeing surging more than 3 percent after it announced a first-quarter delivery date for its new 797 Dreamliner.  Delta Air Lines shares under pressure.  It missed profit expectations—higher fuel prices and repair costs the culprit there. 

And Citigroup also delivering disappointing net on slumping revenues from its trading units. 

And that is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back. 

The year 2011 marks the 100th anniversary, the 100th birthday, if you will, of Ronald Reagan. 

His son Ron has a new book out causing a lot of stir, “My Father at 100: A Memoir.”

Ron, our friend, joins us right now from New York.

Ron, it‘s great to have you on.

RON REAGAN, AUTHOR, “MY FATHER AT 100”:  Great to be here, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  I really think you‘re a great guy.

I‘m not going to ask you the 50 different questions we‘ve been talking about asking you all the day because I‘m going to give you a couple of minutes here.

REAGAN:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t know Ronald Reagan.  I met him a few times.  The American people were, like millions of other people, I saw him on TV.  I watched him to be president.  I want him on “G.E. Theater.”

REAGAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  What don‘t we know about him that we should have known?

REAGAN:  Well, you probably don‘t know what a solitary character he actually was.  The paradox, or one of the paradoxes of his character was that this consonant public man was actually a very private, solitary kind of guy and that solitude he cultivated from his earliest childhood, I think, as an undersized little boy, picked on by bullies, picked last for games and spend a lot of time by himself building internally his own story, his own narrative.  He was a storyteller and his opus was himself.

MATTHEWS:  How did he get through those years of hell in Hollywood, rejection after rejection like all movie stars do?  I heard stories he had a very tough career getting—you know, in the early ‘50s almost at the top of the business, didn‘t quite make the top, got very close and then made it in television.  But in that period, he had to survive a bad first marriage.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  How did he get—what made Ronald Reagan keep steaming ahead when times really were lousy?

REAGAN:  Well, that solitary man, that 10 percent that I call him metaphorically in the book was where his ambition lay.  He was not a guy who thought that public ambition was something that was worthwhile.  He didn‘t want to come off as somebody who was ambitious for yourself.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

REAGAN:  But, of course, he had ambition.  He couldn‘t have been a movie star.  He couldn‘t have been president of the United States if it wasn‘t there.  But he kept it very closely held.  And, you know—but it burned.  It burned in him.  It was able to see him through.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Is that how he got back after he got knocked down by Jerry Ford in ‘76, when everybody thought, here‘s 70, a guy pushing 70, he‘s finished.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s got all his hair, but he‘s old.  He can‘t possibly come back.  And he came back and beat Jimmy Carter.  I know, I was working for Carter.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  He‘d beat our brains in.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Is that what you‘re talking about, that—what do you call that?

REAGAN:  Well, it‘s confidence.  He was always very confident in himself.  I never saw my father walk into a room and kowtow to anybody.  By the same token, I never saw him walk into a room and talk down to anybody.  He treated everybody like he wanted to be treated.  And—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- kicked down like some people in our business, too.

REAGAN:  No, never.

MATTHEWS:  Good for him.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Now, to the down side.  You write in the book how he was like an inverse iceberg.  You saw most of him.  What do you mean by that?

REAGAN:  Well, the 90 percent of him, the public man, was above water, if you will.  And the 10 percent of him, the solitary man, where he harbored his ambition and his private feelings, that was below the water.  And it was tough to see that even when you knew him very well and spent a lot of time with him.  Even his wife, even my mother, you know, would admit that she didn‘t always get to that last 10 percent, you know?

MATTHEWS:  Was there anybody at night that he could call-up when he was feeling bad?

REAGAN:  No, really, my mother, his wife, Nancy, was the one.

MATTHEWS:  Only person he tries to go at night.

REAGAN:  Ultimately, by the end, yes.  I think in his earlier life, of course, he had—you know, he had friends, you know, actors and things that he associated with.  But, by the end of his life, certainly by the presidency, she was really his best friend always and she was the one whose advice he counted on.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You wrote in the book, I think it‘s beautifully

written by the way.  You write, and I see where your mom likes it and

probably disconcerted by some of it.  But let me ask you about—I guess -

let me ask you about this: is it a different kind of strange, a whole new kind of strange.  Look, that is something people who are right-wingers, people far to the right which isn‘t hard to be, are wondering what do you mean by that, a new kind of strange?

      

REAGAN:  It wasn‘t—you know, when you say the word ‘strange,” people naturally go to the kind of dark creepy side.  But that—it was the opposite of that.  It was like—as I said, he was too good in a way.  It was like he was from another planet.

I never heard him—you rarely would hear him swear, usually telling a joke.  That was—I never heard him gossip about anybody, for instance.  I mean, who doesn‘t gossip about, you know, people at work or whatever.  Not him.  He just wouldn‘t do it.  I never heard him gossip.

MATTHEWS:  But what was going on when he‘s in the room alone?  What was Ronald Reagan like in the room alone?  Who was this solitary guy?  Who was he?

REAGAN:  He was guy who, I think, who was creating his narrative constantly, his own personal narrative.  He was creating, particularly in his younger life, of course, the template for who he would become I think from a very early age and I think his mother had a lot to do with this because she was his biggest fan and his earliest fan.  He was cut out for big things.  That he could be a hero.  And he wanted to be a hero.  Not just to be seen as a hero, but to actually be a hero.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  When did you personally recognize—we all saw a problem in that first debate with Mondale in ‘84, that in your book—and I remember “The Wall Street Journal” front page talked about it.  What is to me—did you see something besides what we all saw in terms of failure?

REAGAN:  Not in that debate.  I saw whatever—

MATTHEWS:  No, at home.

REAGAN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  Did you see something at home that we didn‘t see on television or in public life?

REAGAN:  Oh, well, I must have because I know him much better than everybody else.  When I say while he was president, I occasionally would get a little shivers of concern that something maybe not quite right.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

REAGAN:  He might be slightly under the weather.  I didn‘t know what this was.  I mean, by that time, he was, you know, approaching his mid-70s.  He‘s getting a little older.  And he‘d been shot and nearly killed at that point.  I don‘t think—

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he was incapacitated?  Bottom line, as a guy

--

      

REAGAN:  Oh, no.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he was capable of being a solid president?

REAGAN:  Oh, sure.  Sure.  And I say that in the book, but I never saw anything that amounted to, you know, dementia or anything.  There were just these little things that only somebody who knew him very well.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Last word.  Last word—aren‘t you proud of the fact he helped end the Cold War?

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you proud of the fact that he recognized Mikhail Gorbachev as a different kind of communist?

REAGAN:  Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  That he could cut a deal with an end of that hell that we all grew up with?

REAGAN:  Absolutely.  Yes, very proud.  And that was motivating pulse behind his later years, was to approach (ph) the Soviet Union, get rid of nuclear weapons.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  That ain‘t a bad legacy.

REAGAN:  Not bad at all.  No, no.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Ron, I think everybody should read this book because

it‘s so well-written and you know more than anybody, any Reagan nut out

there who is pro-Reagan ought to read this book.  And I‘m telling you

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- if you don‘t like Reagan, you still should read.

Anyway, thank you and good luck to you.  Say hello to your mom.

REAGAN:  Thank you, Chris.  Appreciate it.

MATTHEWS:  “My Father at 100.”  By the way, it‘s not some book, once you pick it up, you can‘t put it down.  So, once you put it down, you can‘t pick it up, you can actually finish this baby.

Ron, thank you.  Thank you, Ron Reagan.

REAGAN:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, let‘s pay tribute to a great man, Sargent Shriver, died of Alzheimer‘s today.  We‘re just talking about Alzheimer‘s.  He died—there‘s his handsome age there, died at 95.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Republicans hoping to pick up Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate just got handed a golden opportunity.  Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota says he won‘t run for his sixth term next year.  One year ago, fellow North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan decided not to seek reelection.  And that seat easily went Republican.  So, maybe the other one will, too.

Senator Conrad‘s decision today makes tough sledding for the Democrats even tougher.  They‘ll be defending 23 of 33 U.S. Senate seats on the ballot in 2012.

HARDBALL back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Sargent Shriver, we told you, died late this afternoon.  He was the brother-in-law, of course, of John F. Kennedy.  He‘s as the first director of the U.S. Peace Corps.  He died at 95 of Alzheimer‘s disease.  It was a long, slow decline.

And we have Andrea Mitchell who‘s reporting on it tonight for NBC News.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  The sadness of this is also the glorious legacy for Sarge Shiver.  I covered him, would you believe, back when he ran in 1972.  He was the second choice, of course, of George McGovern, the second choice for vice president, then four years later, tried himself briefly to try to run.

But the real legacy is the Peace Corps and the war on poverty.  And when you think about the Peace Corps and he was a founding director, this is still a thriving.

Well, you were a Peace Corps volunteer.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Well, you don‘t have to tell me anything.

MITCHELL:  So, I don‘t have to tell you anything.

MATTHEWS:  It changed my life.

MITCHELL:  And you and Kathleen about the Peace Corps.

But when you think about the war on poverty, about the Job Corps, Head Start—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m looking at these pictures, Andrea.  This guy was a young, good-looking guy for a long time -- 95 was not a bad life to live.  And number two, I was thinking that he personified the best part of the early ‘60s, not the druggy ‘60s, not the long hair and the problems and the gurus and all that, but the positive, optimistic volunteerism of the early ‘60s.

MITCHELL:  The level of service that he embodied and still embodies, and lives on in his children.  His five children, what family has done more for public service than Special Olympics, Best Buddies, Save the Children, everything that Maria Shriver has done for the Alzheimer‘s association/Alzheimer‘s research.  Her testimony back in 2006, ‘07, ‘08 and ‘09 after her father was finally diagnosed—her testimony about the long goodbye.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

MITCHELL:  And he still remembered his Hail Marys.  He went to mass every day, but couldn‘t recognize her, and the pain that that caused her.  I watched him coming out of the church.  I was standing right across the street, we were broadcasting live after Eunice Shriver‘s funeral service in the summer of 2009, and watched as he was leaning on his children, he came out of that church, obviously frail, and then he stood up and waved goodbye at the hearse, his wife of 56 years—could there have been any more poignant.

And then I think the last time we saw him in public was at the funeral of Teddy Kennedy.

MATTHEWS:  You know, he once said to me.  By the way, he‘s the greatest guy in the world to have lunch with before he got sick.

MITCHELL:  Lunch, dinner, or anytime.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the greatest guy in the world.  He said to me, you want to know what Jack Kennedy was like?  Meet my wife, Eunice, they‘re the same person.  They‘re just this gung-ho, just as political, just as positive, upbeat.

MITCHELL:  Ambassador of France.  I mean, the life and legend of Sarge Shriver, and the legacy lives on in those five extraordinary children and grandchildren.  He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re known by your children, and I think Maria Shriver and the rest of them, and Tim and Mark—what a great family.

Anyway, thank you, Andrea, for that.

I miss him.  I‘m going to say something about him in a moment.  I‘ll tell you, nobody said changed my life and public life more than this guy.  I‘ll be back right back with a comment about someone who was a positive, great American, with no problems.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Sargent Shriver died this afternoon.  He died of Alzheimer‘s disease, the same thing that killed my mother.

In a way, Sarge Shriver was also a parent, so powerfully that he‘d direct my life.

Sarge Shriver started the Peace Corps.  Yes, Jack Kennedy imagined it, declared it as a chance for well-rounded, young men and women to go overseas, do some economic good, let people know about America, come back and let us know about them.

But I spent two years in Swaziland in Africa and I‘d like to think I did a decent job working with those small business guys over there, but I know this—they could not have been nicer than me, those African guys, in their 50s, working with me, a young Americans trying to speak the language, Zulu, and get around in a different, remote land.

There are 200,000 of us who had this added to our lives by this great man, this great American, Sarge Shriver.

He had two great ideas: that the Peace Corps be volunteer-driven—yes, staff are great back in Washington, but it‘s the person out there all alone in that developing world, way away from their friends and family here, who cuts the job, who either does it or doesn‘t do it.

Second, he said that no one could be in the Peace Corps for more than five years.  He wanted to keep it fresh, and new and excited, and not get old and bureaucratic and insider.  He had the Kennedy family working for him, of course, the magic, the new frontier and all the ‘60s going for him, the optimism of that period, the dreams, the fun, I owe much to Sarge Shriver, so do hundreds of thousands of others—and so does America and so do millions of people who you‘ll never get to, who got to know to us through the Peace Corps, got to learn from us, and got to teach us.

The Peace Corps is one of those magical wondrous inventions that we Americans do best, because it relies on being creative and getting out there with very little instruction, hardly any rules, and figure out what to do.  What a great man we lost today.  God take him, for all of us who loved him.

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