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updated 8/22/2011 11:34:50 AM ET 2011-08-22T15:34:50

Guests: Chuck Todd, Saijal Patel, Todd Harris, Jeff Zeleny, James Moore, Keith Ellison, Robin Wright


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Perry-scope.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington.

Leading off tonight: The real winner of last night`s debate. Well,
yesterday we said the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa, was a tussle between
"those whose turn it is" wing of the party and those -- those being the
traditional Republicans, and the Tea Party crowd. Well, the answer came in
one jarring image from the debate. All eight candidates raised their hands
when asked whether they would reject -- reject -- a budget plan that
offered $10 in cuts for every $1 in tax increases -- all eight.

Three conclusions there. One, the Republican Party today is unwilling
to compromise under any circumstances. Two, they really don`t care about
the deficit. All they care about is taxes. And three -- and this is a big
one -- they`re all scared of not looking as right-wing as possible.

But it`s the elephant not in the room who may have been the big winner
last night. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, stole a lot of the thunder
when he said yesterday he`s running. He may soon steal their votes once he
makes it official tomorrow. Well, the day of the straw poll just happens
to be the same day.

Plus, President Obama could not have been unhappy with what he saw
last night, but he still needs to come up with a jobs program himself. A
Democratic congressman who agrees with me on that joins us tonight.

Also, has war-weariness taken over the right? Coming home soon --
coming home soon from Afghanistan may be one thing both parties now can
agree on.

And "Let Me Finish" with the two women who just climbed the highest
peak in Africa.

We start with the Republican debate, and for that we go to Iowa.
Chuck Todd is NBC`s chief political director and our White House chief
correspondent. He`s at the Iowa state fairgrounds. And we also have "The
New York Times" political reporter Jeff Zeleny. He`s in Des Moines. We`ve
got great coverage tonight.

Last night -- I want you all to look at this. During the poll --
during the FOX News debate last night, moderator Bret Baier asked all the
eight candidates if they`d turn down a deal that cut $10 in spending for
every $1 raised in taxes. Take a look what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Will you raise your hand if you feel so
strongly about not raising taxes, you`d walk away on the 10-to-1 deal.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s frightening.

Chuck, that shows -- I said today, and I mean it, that was like one of
those Reverend Sun Young Moon weddings, where everybody gets married at the
same time. I mean, this is other (ph) direction (ph) like I`ve never --
did anybody quibble? Wait a minute, 10 to 1? Would any member of Congress
or senator have turned down a deal like that? It seems like even Jim
DeMint would look twice at that deal.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I
have this feeling twofold on this issue. Number one is acting -- I`m
betting that a couple of these candidates will end up backtracking on this
at some point. Maybe it`s not for three months. Maybe it`s not for four
months. But that was an odd moment.

You almost -- it was one of those where I`m thinking, Did they not
hear that it was 10 to 1? Did they not hear that that was the ratio?
Clearly, the Democrats -- you heard David Axelrod, President Obama`s chief
campaign strategist -- he just gobbled that moment up, trying to say, See,
this is the -- this is -- proves the point that the president was willing
to move in the middle, and the Republican Party today is not.

But the fact of the matter is, the issue of taxes is what unifies this
party. There`s a lot of disparate coalitions inside this Republican Party
right now, social conservatives, libertarians, isolationists, you name it.
But the one thing that keeps them together is taxes.

And Chris, I`ve told you this before. I`ve had Republican pollsters
tell me it would break the Republican Party apart if they somehow split on
taxes.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jeff Zeleny on that same point because I think
this was the bicentennial (ph) moment yesterday. Jeff, to make a -- follow
on on what Chuck said there. They may backtrack on that in three or four
months, some of them, but the point that none of them asked for a
clarification, they just immediately -- like a knee-jerk response. They
all put up their hands up, afraid not to be with the group.

JEFF ZELENY, "NEW YORK TIMES": No question. I mean, but I think that
really sort of was a metaphor for the whole debate. I mean, they were
really focused on -- at least most of candidates on the stage were focused
on the here and now, which is the Iowa straw poll. They`re worried about,
you know, sort of being not on the same page as Michele Bachmann, perhaps -
-

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ZELENY: -- or even Ron Paul, perhaps. But I think Chuck`s right. In
the long-term view, I`m not sure that they will have the same point of
view. I mean, I could see perhaps Jon Huntsman maybe, once New Hampshire
comes along, give a slightly nuanced answer to that.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ZELENY: But I think that signified the whole thing. I mean, these
candidates are afraid -- they are afraid to alienate the most activated,
energized set of voters in their party. And that is one thing, perhaps one
of the only things, that`s a bright spot for this White House, is that they
think that this field of candidates is veering so far right, they won`t be
able to correct.

But I`m not so sure that`s the case. At the end of the day, I think
someone would perhaps have a window into becoming slightly more pragmatic
here.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at U.S. Congresswoman Michele
Bachmann saying she was right when she voted to let the government default.
Remember, her vote. She wasn`t going to vote for any deal, anything to do
with the debt ceiling. She was going to let the thing happen. Let`s
listen to what she said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just heard
from Standard & Poor`s. When they dropped -- when they dropped our credit
rating, what they said is we don`t have an ability to repay our debt.
That`s what the final word was from them. I was proved right in my
position. We should not have raised the debt ceiling, and instead, we
should have cut government spending, which was not done, and then we needed
to get our spending priorities in order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, a little conflict came (ph) immediately on that. A
Standard & Poor`s senior director told Politico today that the downgrade
which happened last week was because, quote, "People in the political arena
were even talking about a potential default. That the country even has
such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable here. This kind of
rhetoric" -- like Bachmann`s -- "is not common among AAA sovereigns."

That`s interesting, Chuck, again, where there`s an alternative
universe here, where Bachmann can stand up there with confidence and ignore
the fact that her willingness to face a default, to take any step that
would actually lead to one, was, in fact, somehow proven right in her
universe.

TODD: You know, I think this is the most important overlooked part of
this debate last night, which is I think that Tim Pawlenty, while clumsily
sometimes in his attacks on Michele Bachmann, put -- forced her to say some
things and expose some weaknesses with her that I think is going to
eventually make her unnominatable.

And this issue on the debt ceiling -- let`s remember, this morning on
the "TODAY" show, she was asked to clarify on this issue of debt ceiling,
and she wasn`t -- she wasn`t for raising it under any circumstances.

Remember, there is a majority of the House Republicans in the Tea
Party caucus were OK with raising the debt ceiling, if they got their
balanced budget amendment.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: She`s not even there. So she`s in the minority among some of
the most conservative parts of the House Republican conference. And I
think that that puts her in a precarious place, that if she`s trying to
jump to the mainstream inside the Republican Party, she`s trying to prove
to the business community in the Republican Party that she`s nominatable,
that they can trust her, those comments on the debt ceiling, I think, ended
any chance she has to make that leap. I think it`s a very -- put her --
she put herself in a very tough spot.

MATTHEWS: So let`s watch Tim Pawlenty here take on Michele Bachmann
and her record last night in that FOX News debate we were watching. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY (R-MN), FMR. GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s an
undisputable fact that in Congress, her record of accomplishment and
results is non-existent.

BACHMANN: When it came to health care, I brought tens of thousands of
Americans to Washington to fight the unconstitutional individual mandate.
I didn`t praise it. When it came to cap-and-trade, I fought it with
everything that was in me, including I introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of
Choice Act.

PAWLENTY: She`s got a record of misstating and making false
statements. If that`s your view of effective leadership with results,
please stop because you`re killing us.

BACHMANN: You said the era of small government was over. That sounds
a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeff, there you have her, again, arguing, basically,
that her words are what matters, not her effectiveness, and Governor
Pawlenty saying it matters whether you get anything done. And there she is
just saying something as absurd-sounding as, yes, but I came out for the
light bulb freedom of choice. I mean, it sounds like -- she speaks that as
if that`s a -- with confidence that that`s a significant thing to say on
this planet.

ZELENY: And I think one thing that voters here in Iowa, at least,
have really been paying attention to this for quite a whiles -- it wasn`t
just last night that they started hearing these distinctions. Tim
Pawlenty, yes, he`s been sort of struggling. He has small crowds. He
hasn`t, you know, attracted as much pop (ph) as she has.

But the Republican voters here who I talk to I think are beginning --
at least some of them are beginning to sort of understand that she`s the
candidate of the moment. She`s probably a summertime candidate. I
actually asked her this afternoon -- she had a formal media availability in
a town outside of Des Moines. It was almost like a presidential press
conference. Reporters were seated. She called on us by name, which was a
little curious.

And I asked her about these accomplishments, and I said, What are your
real accomplishments? She went back to Minnesota. She talked about her
education efforts there. She talked about getting a marriage amendment on
the ballot. So I think when she is pressed on these, she knows that she
falls up (ph) short.

But the question is, is there enough time for Governor Pawlenty? What
are voters at the straw poll going to do? Perhaps it`s an unfair test for
him, but he walked into this. So tomorrow, like it or not, is important
for him, and if he happens to do better than her, I think then she has a
tough few months ahead.

MATTHEWS: Well, here we have Mitt Romney`s most memorable line
yesterday. It happened hours before the debate. Someone in a crowd at an
event of his had suggested raising taxes on corporations, rather than
raising taxes on people. Let`s listen to Romney`s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Corporations are people, my
friend. We can raise taxes --

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE)

ROMNEY: Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately
goes to people. So --

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Where do you think it goes?

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: OK. Human beings, my friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Chuck, I guess that was made to order. That was
(INAUDIBLE) Some activists on the left side of politics, progressives,
raising the point effectively that they don`t want people taxed, they want
corporations. And corporations right now are pretty cold-hearted right now
in terms of laying people off, not hiring people. Can he win with that
argument that a corporation, which makes its money on profits, not on
giving people jobs, is a positive move, even among Republicans?

TODD: Boy, this is a classic case of winning on style, and I don`t
think we know yet on substance. The performance yesterday of him battling
with the heckler was something that, when you talk to Republicans out here,
even some folks that work for Romney, they were relieved. They were, like,
Wow, he`s showing some life. See?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: We told you he can give as good as he gets. So stylistically,
it was a good moment for them, and the campaign is trying to fund-raise off
of it. The substance of it -- there was -- there was a couple of moments
that you`re sitting there going, OK. Well, you can see how Democrats could
exploit that one line in a 30-second ad.

But then he was questioned earlier by another, quote, unquote,
"heckler," who asked him about this issue of taxes versus fees and
loopholes, and he seemed to struggle here.

I think we`re going to see over the next six months that Rick Perry
and if it`s Michele Bachmann -- she sort of talked about this a little bit
last night. I think we know how they`re going to try to go after Romney,
that they`re going to try to hit him on taxes, on fees, whether it`s what
he did as governor, raising fees or defending the idea of closing some
loopholes, that that`s OK, that, you know, no amount of raising your hand
on a 10-to-1 spending tax increase ratio is going to cover up some of his
record as governor. And I think that Perry and Bachmann and the Romney
people know it, that they`re going to try to exploit that.

MATTHEWS: OK, you first, Chuck. Tomorrow`s vote, the straw vote
tomorrow -- with Perry looming over this and announcing for president,
basically, and getting right in the middle of this, who`s going to have the
most to lose tomorrow and most to win during the actually straw vote
tomorrow night?

TODD: Well, look, I`m going to be crass about this. I think it`s
sort of the Ricky-Bobby rule. If you ain`t first, you`re last. Because of
Perry, you know, we`re going to have this sort of triple boxes (ph), Romney
in New Hampshire, Perry announcing in South Carolina. So the winner in
Iowa, particularly between who wins between Bachmann and Pawlenty, gets a
chance at the spotlight.

I don`t know if, quote, "winning in the top three" or finishing a
close second is helpful. The wild cards here are Ron Paul --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: -- who everybody quietly thinks might be the guy that ends up
winning this thing, and even a Rick Santorum, who`s done all the right
things but is just running out of resources.

MATTHEWS: Who`s -- who can make -- last question to you, Jeff. Who
can make the big headline tomorrow? Is there any potential resounding
headline? Because seems to me, if Paul wins tomorrow, the whole thing
doesn`t mean much because he`s not going to be the nominee of the party.
He`s too libertarian. Who could make news tomorrow by winning and really
be big-time and come out of this with some firepower, up against the guy
who`s not in the race tomorrow, Rick Perry?

ZELENY: I think Tim Pawlenty is hoping for the biggest headline. But
even if he gets it, that headline is going to be a split screen with Rick
Perry. But what about Mitt Romney? What if he does well tomorrow? His
name is going to be on the ballot.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ZELENY: That would almost certainly draw him back to Iowa and make
him compete with Rick Perry, which a lot of his supporters want him to do.
They say if he doesn`t go toe to toe, head to head with him beginning in
Iowa, they`re afraid that this steamroller may start and it might be hard
for him to stop it in New Hampshire.

So watch how many people Mitt Romney gets. There`s been a quiet
campaign to sort of get some of his supporters into the straw poll and vote
for him. I don`t think he`ll win, but he certainly would make a big
headline.

MATTHEWS: Boy, that`s learning from the Kerry campaign. Kerry went
out and met Howard Dean in Iowa, rather than waiting for him in New
Hampshire, beat him there and beat him the rest of the way. Same theory,
right, Jeff?

ZELENY: Exactly. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Got to --

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Absolutely. Look --

ZELENY: -- exact same thing, and Romney people are thinking about
that.

MATTHEWS: Chuck, last word.

TODD: You win them both, Chris -- you win -- if Romney went in and
took Iowa, it would be over.

MATTHEWS: Wow!

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) done. This race is finished. But you know, that -
- that`s the risk-reward of Romney playing here for real and doing what
he`s doing now.

MATTHEWS: I love strategic questions. Thanks so much, Chuck Todd.
You look -- looks like a nice day out there. Thank you, Jeff Zeleny --

TODD: It`s beautiful.

MATTHEWS: -- for joining us tonight.

Coming up: The biggest winner of last night`s debate wasn`t even on
the stage. We`ll talk to (ph) him. He`s the most interesting guy right
now. It`s Rick Perry, governor of Texas. He`s announcing tomorrow. He`s
teased it all over the place. He could be a nightmare for Romney. He
could get in the there and beat him in Iowa and maybe challenge him up in
New Hampshire and then take him in South Carolina and win the whole thing.
He could challenge the president, too. People wonder. He could be it.
That`s next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party emerged
the winner last night. So which major candidates do the Tea Partiers think
would make a good president? A new FOX News poll finds that 59 percent of
Tea Partiers say, there she is, Michele Bachmann would make a good
president. Only 27 percent say she wouldn`t. Bachmann`s 32-point spread
is the highest in the poll.

The next highest spread goes to Rick Perry, who`s getting all the
action right now, 48 percent say he`d be a good president. Only 19 say he
wouldn`t. That`s a 29-point gap. Mitt Romney`s spread is only 14 points,
51 say he`d be a good president, 37 disagree. And look at Sarah Palin,
down to the negative territory for the first time, 45 percent of Tea
Partiers say she`d be a good president, but more, 48 percent, say she
wouldn`t. What`s happened there?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

The gloves came off last night at the Republican presidential debate,
but many are saying the real winner of the debate was not even on that
stage. Texas Governor Rick Perry`s getting all the action right now. He`s
dominated the latest news cycle. And his announcement tomorrow that he`s
getting in the race is threatening to overshadow the Ames straw vote, which
is tomorrow.

Joining me right now is Jim Moore, the co-author of "Bush`s Brain,"
and also Republican strategist Todd Harris.

Speaking of Bush`s brain -- Jim, thanks for joining us.

JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, "BUSH`S BRAIN": Sure.

MATTHEWS: What`s larger, the brain of Karl Rove or the brain of Rick
Perry?

MOORE: I would put my money on Karl Rove, but I think people dismiss
Rick Perry at their peril.

This man is quite possibly the best, most instinctive politician Texas
has had since LBJ. He`s a horrible governor, Chris. Don`t make any
mistake about that.

MATTHEWS: Right.

MOORE: But his instincts are good. And he ran to the Tea Party very
early, when a lot of other politicians were being cautious. And that
embracing of the Tea Party is exactly what helped him defeat Kay Bailey
Hutchison here in Texas, in spite of the fact that we`re pretty much a
train wreck down here economically and otherwise.

MATTHEWS: Well, he looks like a clown when you watch him in these
pictures. I assume they can be totally un -- you know, not very
representative. But he dresses very fancy. There`s something about the
way he puts himself together the looks -- doesn`t look authentic.

He looks like, I don`t know, a wax figure pretending to be a governor
or something. I can`t get quite him. There`s something about him that
doesn`t quite add up to me. Maybe it`s this Texas B.S., this boots and --
boots and tuxedo thing they do down there.

Why does it work? Outside of Texas, it doesn`t -- let me put it this
way. It doesn`t travel very well, but why does it work down there?

MOORE: Well, I think that, you know, he got reelected simply because
the Democrats completely messed up. There were three candidates running
against him, Kinky Friedman, Carole Strayhorn, and then Chris Bell, who was
a pretty darn good candidate.

But the trial lawyers put their money behind someone other than the
more logical candidate.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: And Rick Perry got reelected with only 39 percent. If it
would have been a straight-up one-on-one contest, I actually don`t think he
would have won. So he was fortunate in that regard.

But -- but he plays the Texas thing up. He plays the mythology up,
and it plays, and it has a big appeal in Texas. And this whole business
with secession, it really does resonate with a public that is fed up with
Washington from this state. So he knows how to work that.

MATTHEWS: But is ignorance bliss down there? But he`s just
historically inaccurate.

When Texas came into the Union, from the Republic of Texas into the
Union --

MOORE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- there wasn`t any provision which allowed it to secede.

MOORE: No.

MATTHEWS: The provision was that it could break itself into six
September states --

MOORE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: -- and get 12 senators.

Why would he get something as fundamentally important to Texas history
as that wrong, or do you believe he deliberately crafted this secession
thing to look -- to make him look like a real cowboy, deliberately was
ignorant?

MOORE: I think that -- well, I -- number -- number one, the public,
as you know, doesn`t pay close enough attention to these people as we`re
starting to parse them as they run for public office. Number two is that I
don`t think Rick really understood what the Constitution said about
breaking into five states.

And he knew that the message of secession was going to be wildly
embraced by those Tea Party folks. And guess what happened? He was down
by 25 points to Kay Bailey Hutchison when he went out and spoke to those
people about recession. And a week later, the guy is up by 10 points over
her and he easily defeats her.

MATTHEWS: Right.

What a strange world.

Let`s take a look. Most of the candidates had nothing but praise for
Rick Perry last night when asked about his decision to enter the race.
Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Perry has a great
record of job creation in Texas. And I think he`s a very formidable
person.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think there`s
room in the race for Governor Perry, Sarah Palin.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Welcome to the contest.
From my perspective, it doesn`t bother us or my campaign. That`s just one
more politician, and that makes this business problem-solver stand out that
much more.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope that if he does get
in this race he broadens and expands this dialogue about job creation.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m very pleased that
he`s coming in because he represents the status quo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what to make of that.

Anyway, Todd, let`s get some straight talk from you. This guy, is he
as good as he looks in terms of the fact that he clearly looks good to the
right?

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Here`s the Rick Perry balance
sheet. On the plus side, you have got a definitiveness, an assuredness
that his supporters see as real strength that they think is going to
contrast beautifully with what many Republicans view as the weakness of
President Obama.

MATTHEWS: I get it.

HARRIS: People, the detractors --

MATTHEWS: You mean swagger is better than indecision.

HARRIS: Well, I was going to say the detractors say that it`s
swagger. His supporters say that it`s strength.

On the flip side, you know, as Jim was pointing out, Perry`s record in
Texas, while -- while it certainly will make for an outstanding 30-second
commercial for him, there`s also enough in there to make a pretty good 30-
second commercial against him, whether it`s the Trans-Texas Corridor, where
the state actually went to seize about a half-a-million acres of private
property. There`s issues about whether he raised taxes or not, issues
surrounding the state debt.

Whether you`re Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty or any of these other
candidates in the field, there will be enough in Perry`s record for them to
fire all kinds of bullets. But he should not -- Jim is right. He should
absolutely not be dismissed or underestimated.

MATTHEWS: Jim, what about the good old Texas internecine battle down
there? The hatred of Bushes, for example, for this guy, what`s that based
on?

MOORE: Well, it goes back to the Bushes getting behind Kay Bailey
Hutchison. That`s one of the big reasons, because Karl Rove ran that
campaign.

And, remember, it was Karl who made Rick Perry go from Democratic to
Republican when he was in the statehouse. And then when he ran for
lieutenant governor, Perry was on the verge of a very tight race and Perry
wanted to go negative, but Karl wanted to run the numbers up, so that
George Bush would look very good and presidential, and he held Rick back
from going negative.

So, there`s been some antipathy on political direction. And then it
got very bad in the water very recently with that primary campaign against
Kay Bailey. And the Bushes have always been with Karl and Karl has always
been with the Bushes.

MATTHEWS: Well, the White House apparently -- that`s the Obama White
House -- is already trying to knock down Perry`s appeal right now, his
record on job creation especially.

Here`s David Axelrod on "GMA" this morning. Let`s listen to David.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA")

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: There`s a specific reason
Texas has done so well and that`s because the oil industry has done so well
in the last few years, and the military has grown because of the -- because
of the challenges that we have had overseas.

And so he`s been the beneficiary of things that he had very little to
do with. And when you examine the entire record, what`s happened to
education in that state, what`s happened to health care in that state, it`s
a -- it`s a -- it`s a record of decimation, not of progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s get back to his strengths, because that`s what we do
here on HARDBALL. Let`s ignore everything to do with substance, right or
wrong, left or right. How good a candidate will he be?

It seems like he has timed everything brilliantly so far. He`s
completely distracted from the straw poll tomorrow. He`s a bigger story
already than anybody who wins tomorrow, it looks like. It looks like he`s
going to get Sarah Palin -- I`m just reading the tea leaves here. She
seems to like him, says so.

She could jump in like the cavalry two or three months from now when
it looked close. He`s doing pretty good. She comes in, gives him a
booster rocket. He wins the Iowa caucuses. He goes on and does really
well, wins the whole thing. Looks to me like that`s the timing set up
here.

What`s your thought? Are those collaborating, those two?

HARRIS: Well, I don`t know whether they`re collaborating. They are
certainly -- they certainly have a relationship. When the entire
Republican establishment, or virtually the entire establishment, was
backing Kay Bailey Hutchison in her primary challenge, Sarah Palin came to
Texas --

MATTHEWS: Right.

HARRIS: -- campaigned for him, drew huge crowds, and gave him a lot of
momentum.

MATTHEWS: She can do it again.

HARRIS: She could do it again. There`s no question.

He is probably the most gifted natural politician, my guess, of anyone
in the field. He`s going to have one hell of a message when it comes to
talking about job creation. And the fact is, right now, he`s playing the
media like a Texas fiddle --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HARRIS: -- because he`s getting them to write and cover --

MATTHEWS: He`s getting us to talk about him.

MOORE: -- exactly what he wants.

MATTHEWS: You know, I can see this.

What do you make of this? And maybe you don`t know this much. Well,
tell me if you project it. Can you project, not a ticket of the two of
them, but where he`s the candidate, she`s the kingmaker, she`s sort of
riding shotgun on this guy, and they go all the way? Can you see that
happening, Jim, or is that too much fantasy?

MOORE: I actually predicted it two days ago, Chris.

I think people dismiss Sarah Palin at their peril, because Rick is
going to have to run back to the center and talk about jobs, but the Tea
Party folks can be animated and remain very excited if she were on the
ticket with him.

And let`s face it. There`s a reason she draws huge crowds, she
commands large speaking fees and she sells lots of books and she`s very,
very popular with the animating forces within the primary process right
now. I wouldn`t be the least bit surprised to see her on a ticket with
him.

MATTHEWS: Well, I could see her doing more power for him without
being on the ticket. She can`t be hit that way. She becomes the shotgun
guard of that campaign --

MOORE: Sure.

MATTHEWS: -- Annie Oakley riding along besides the sheriff -- a hell
of a cowboy image.

Anyway, thank you, Todd Harris.

I have sold these people too much tonight.

James Moore, maybe you`re dead right.

Up next: Why were dogs around the country getting riled up last night
by the Republican debate? What a strange event that was. They are hearing
doorbells, these dogs -- next in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now for the "Sideshow."

First up, there may be no clear answer AS to who, if anyone, came out
on top in last night`s GOP debate, But some of the most heated reactions to
the events of the night may have been sparked by an unlikely group of
spectators: dogs.

Each time a candidate`s time to respond had ended, a bell went off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- or General Petraeus
recommended --

(BELL RINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Sounds a lot like a doorbell, doesn`t it?

Well, as it turns out, a shocking number of the nation`s pet dogs
thought so, too. Twitter exploded as viewers radio recounted what went
down each time that bell sounded. One person tweeted -- quote -- "Every
time the bell rings in the Repub debate, our dog barks. No, Lola, Mitt
Romney is not at the front door."

And a "Washington Post" columnist recounted the situation, saying --
quote -- "The debate moderators rang the doorbell to stop a runaway answer.
Andy" -- I guess that`s the dog -- "came bounding out of the kitchen
barking his little schnoodle head off."
Unbelievable. How do you know it was just the bell, by the way,
setting them off? It could have been the Republican talking.

And, as I said yesterday, earlier, candidate Mitt Romney turned some
heads yesterday when he pointed out that, you know, corporations are
people, too. Attempting to come to his defense, Senator Rand Paul of
Kentucky seemed to reverse the comparison entirely. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think we`re all corporations. So to
say we`re going to like punish corporations, like they`re someone else, all
of us are corporations.

You think about, you know, do you have a retirement fund? Do you have
a 401(k)? Everybody that has a 401(k) owns parts of corporations. I think
a lot of times people want to vilify corporations, saying they`re someone
else and these other rich people. They`re us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, it`s bit of a stretch.

When was the last time we or anybody watching right now has heard
someone refer to themselves as, "Oh, I`m a corporation"?

I don`t know what they`re talking about these days.

Up next: President Obama needs to come up with a jobs programs, I
think, now. We are going to ask a Democratic congressman, Keith Ellison,
what he would like to see the president do on this front.

I think jobs is the Democratic answer. I want to see it spelled out.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAIJAL PATEL, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Saijal Patel with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

In a week marked by the edge-of-your-seat drama, a relatively happy
ending on Wall Street. The Dow closed up more than 1 percent, the S&P and
Nasdaq both up about a half-a-percentage point. And for the week, after
all that wild volatility, we have seen the markets made it, well, back to
almost their starting point, all three indexes down less than two
percentage points from where they began.

Good news overseas, too. European shares closed higher in the wake of
a ban on short selling in France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. ExxonMobil
won back its title as most valuable company in America. Apple had bumped
the energy giant off its throne earlier in the week, but a rise in oil
prices boosted Exxon back into the top spot.

And consumer sentiment just dropped to a low not seen since 1980. A
Reuters poll found unemployment and the debt ceiling debate are weighing on
consumers` minds.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

I have been saying it all week, actually, that President Obama needs
to announce a jobs program and get people back to work and sell it. Now
the country`s behind the idea that creating jobs, not cutting the deficit
or cutting the debt even, is what`s important now.

Let`s take at this "New York Times"/CBS poll taken after the debt
ceiling debate. By a better than 2-1 margin, Americans say creating jobs
should take precedence over cutting spending. It couldn`t be clearer than
that.

Joining me right now to talk about it is a man with his own jobs
program, Democrat Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Good evening, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you, Congressman, about the politics of this
before we get to your substantive program.

It seems to me that the president and the progressives and the
Democrats don`t know how to play old-style politics. The way you get
people hired is to say there`s a job that needs to be -- that needs being
done, not that people need a job.

I have never heard anybody getting hired because somebody needs to
give somebody a job. They hire people they need a job done. That`s the
way people think. If you want to sell people getting hired, sell that
something needs to be done and hire them makes sense -- hiring them makes
sense. Show that a bridge is below code. Show that roads have potholes.
Show them that sewer systems are deteriorating, dilapidated, same with the
water system.

Show them that the basic utilities that they depend on are going to
hell, and somebody better fix them soon or you`re going to have trouble.
That`s how you get people hired legitimately. This president uses words
like infrastructure, which drives me crazy, stimulus, which means nothing
to anybody when they ought to be saying, wouldn`t you like your kids when
they go back to school this September to drive over, say, a bridge when the
school bus passes it -- or get on a highway that`s not going to hell, or
whatever.

But talk about need before you talk about jobs need, you talk about
the job that needs to be done. That`s my PR, that`s how politics works --
and the jam to Republican congressman by showing pictures of the bridges in
their districts that these damn members won`t support. Put it on their
shoulders. Don`t beg, don`t -- gee, would you give me job. Say, this is a
job that needs done in your district.

ELLISON: I agree entirely with every word you said. But here`s the
thing -- our country has over $2 trillion worth of needs to fix up
infrastructure. You know, probably not the best, most -- most
communicative word. But, you know, bridges are falling down. We need
fiber optic cables, transit roads. And we need people to do this work.

All right. We`ve got school buildings that are crumbling and are in
bad shape, and we need people to fix them up so we that can have a real
21st century infrastructure. You know, we`re driving on the highways that
are Eisenhower era highways. We need to do these things and put them back
to shape.

So, I got the Putting America Back to Work Act together, which is a
bill that would do just that. I would help provide services that people
really do need. We`ve had massive cuts for public services across the
country. People are suffering because of the loss of them, and I`m talking
about cops, I`m talking about teachers, I`m talking about --

MATTHEWS: So, why isn`t working, Congressman?

ELLISON: Well, I mean, look, we`ve got to be more robust in our
advocacy. We`ve got to speak out and speak what people are saying.
Everybody I talk to when I go around my community in Minneapolis and
surrounding suburbs is , saying we`ve got to get people back to work to
deal with the problem --

MATTHEWS: You`re already got the vote. Hey, Congressman, in all due
respect, you`ve already got your vote. Why don`t you go in the suburban
areas and talk about the schools going in those areas or roads going out
and get those congressmen, you put some heat up their butts? Why don`t you
force them to vote your way? Why don`t you guys go on the attack instead
of playing defense?

ELLISON: Well, you know what? I agree with you again. That`s why we
in the Progressive Caucus had a 12-city jobs tour talking about rebuilding
America, putting America back to work, putting the American dream back in
people`s grasp again.

We went to Pittsburgh. We went to Milwaukee. We went to Detroit. We
went to Minneapolis, talking about how we fulfill the needs that America
has to make sure things are doing right again.

MATTHEWS: I`m interrupting you, because you`re going to circles.
Those are Democratic districts. You already have those votes. Why don`t
you go in districts where you need the votes? You need 218 votes to get a
jobs bill through the House. You need 60 votes into the Senate. Why don`t
you go aggressively into the areas of Republican control and force those
people to play defense? Why don`t you go on the attack?

ELLISON: That`s what we should be doing, Chris. And I can`t tell you
anything other than I agree with what you`re saying. That -- but see,
we`ve got to get an organizational push really going. We went into some of
the districts where we already know people know they need jobs, but you`re
right. We`ve got to be able to talk across party lines, red and blue,
because you know what? People without a job or people in foreclosure don`t
care about this party stuff. They want to get back to work. They want to
make sure they don`t have potholes that are going to break the axles on
their cars.

So -- I mean, you`re absolutely correct and this is the way we`re
taking it. This is the direction we`re going in and we`re talking to
people not about politics but about rebuilding America, putting the
American dream back in their grasp, because people have an anxiety America
is losing its place in the world. So, that`s why we`re pushing things,
like an infrastructure bank bill which I think can really help, really
finance some of these regionally important programs.

MATTHEWS: When are you going into Boehner`s district?

ELLISON: You want me to give you a date, let me tell you --

MATTHEWS: If you`re going to Boehner`s district, I`ll be impressed.
We`ll put you on TV. You go into his district and show his bridges are
going down and we`ll do something on that tonight, that night.

ELLISON: You bet`cha. We`ll impress you, Chris. Wait and see.

MATTHEWS: OK. Go on the attack, sir. Thank you, Keith Ellison.
It`s great to have you on. Have a good weekend. But this is a party that
seems to be moribund right now, your party, that seems to stop playing
defense and play the other guy`s game.

Up next, has even the right grown tired of the war in Afghanistan? It
looks like it.

The hawkish party and the Republican Party are not the same party
anymore. For the first time in a long time, Republicans are running for
president and they`re down on war. Interesting. Ending the war might be
the rarest for both parties right now. Actually they both agree on it,
getting rid of a war.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it could be another change election coming 2012,
depending on which poll you`re looking at. A new Gallup poll finds
Democrats now leading the generic congressional ballot question, which
party`s candidate would you vote for? The Democratic candidate is 51
percent right now. Republican down at 44 percent. Who would believe that?
Seven points spread for the Dems -- the seven-point edge for the Dems.

In the months before the 2010 election, the Gallup found the same
question that a Republican advantage. Wow. It looks like Gallup got
Democrats winning the next election.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Is the Republican presidential field war-weary?

Here were some of the candidates last night in Iowa discussing
Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have helped the people of
Afghanistan establish freedom from the Taliban. But now we`re at a point
where they`re going to have to earn and keep that freedom themselves. This
is not something we`re going to do forever.

TIM PAWLENTY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of where we are
now, 10 years reproved, I was there last summer with Governor Perry, by the
way, and met with General Petraeus. He thought it would take about two
years from last summer to have an orderly and successful wind-down of our
mission in Afghanistan at least in terms of significant troop withdrawal.
President Barack Obama has accelerated that faster than either General
Mullen or General Petraeus recommended. I would have accepted their
recommendation.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say a policy of peace
is free trades, stay out of their internal business, don`t get involved in
these wars and just bring our troops home.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: Big applause for Congressman Ron Paul, getting huge
applause for his anti-war stand. What`s going on with the Republican
Party, which once dominated by the war hawks?

Robin Wright is a longtime foreign correspondent for "The Washington
Post." Her latest book, by the way, is "Rock the Casbah: Rage and
Rebellion Across the Islamic World." I saw that book of somebody`s desk
today.

Let me ask you about this. The Republicans used to be the hawk party.
And long before the neocons got involved with President Bush -- they were,
you know, fight the Cold War and fight, fight, fight the communist, fight,
fight, fight the terrorist. Now, last night, it wasn`t Rudy Giuliani doing
all the talking. It was Ron Paul leading the band.

ROBIN WRIGHT, AUTHOR, "ROCK THE CASBAH": Well, you have an enormous
spectrum among the Republicans. You had Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum
who were pretty hawkish and then Ron Paul who was pretty much a dove. Huge
spectrum, in fact. There is rather disarray among the Republicans.

But it was rather striking that both Pawlenty and Romney were talking
about getting out of Afghanistan, but at a slower pace than President
Obama. And so, this is where you see the Republicans beginning to side
with the generals, take the military point of view. We need two years
rather than one year.

MATTHEWS: Then why did he seem like he was complaining about war
fatigue and at the same time you say, technically, he wants a slower
withdraw. That seems to be dishonest.

WRIGHT: I think it is a little bit. They want to have it both ways.
They seem to be catering to public mood and war-weariness after 10 years in
Afghanistan.

The fact that we may be in Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union
was and maybe with the same outcome -- and yet doing it in a way that sides
with what the generals had recommended rather than what Obama did.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the division you mentioned a moment ago,
which is, when it comes to Afghanistan, most Americans say enough is
enough. But this weird kind of -- the new Christian right, if you will,
which is very much tied in with the Israeli right, far right people in the
Middle East, Israeli politics are pushing for some kind of action against
Iran.

Are they clear about what action they think would work because Israel,
it seems, isn`t clear about it. Even the hawkish government of Netanyahu
isn`t clear what would work, from what I can tell.

WRIGHT: Well, the Israelis are clearly leaving the military option on
the table.

MATTHEWS: But it`s on the table, it`s not news.

WRIGHT: That`s right. And, in fact, there were those who were
predicting that something would happen earlier this year, and it hasn`t.

But last night you saw Rick Santorum saying we need to take every
possible step in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power and Ron Paul
saying, well, who cares if they get a nuclear weapon. The Soviet Union had
thousands of them and we manage to coexist and even have diplomatic
relations in the scheme of history in Iranian nuclear program didn`t really
matter very much. So, he wasn`t even endorsing sanctions.

MATTHEWS: Yes. But there is a lost opinion and policy options
between go to war, mad dog them right now, hit them hard. And que sera
sera. I mean, Ron Paul who says -- nobody I know says it doesn`t matter
that Iran has a nuclear weapon.

It matters. It damn well matters. It effects immigration in Israel.
It affects all the options Israel Has. It affects our options in oil
production over there and oil delivery and everything else.

WRIGHT: And I think this is where he may lose some support. This is
something I think a lost Americans, Democrat or Republican, are concerned
about, just how far is Iran going in its nuclear program.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look. The majority of Americans say we
shouldn`t be fighting in Afghanistan right now.

Here was a Quinnipiac poll from just last month -- 55 percent say the
United States should get out. That`s strong. Even among Republicans,
catch this -- a third say the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea. But it`s
more than a third, 39 percent. It is getting to be almost 50/50.

If you look at those numbers, 39, look at the trend line there. I`d
say within a year, that`s even money.

WRIGHT: And money is actually the issue to some extent. I think we
are spending, I think, something like $10 billion a month on Afghanistan at
a time you have such a rocky stock market and debt crisis. The expense of
Afghanistan becomes increasingly an issue as well. This is something that
I think will pop up more and more over the next year.

MATTHEWS: As an expert on that part of the world and Afghanistan, we
are fighting a much more front-leaning campaign over there. We are
involved very much on front line action with the surge over there in
Afghanistan. We lost incredibly gallant people in that -- a Chinook went
down the other day because of the RPG shot, lucky shot.

Are we exposing our troops more than we should be in front line action
when they should be support?

WRIGHT: I think there`s actually within the administration, some
questioning about whether the surge was a smart move, that a lot of troops
are deployed in areas where they are hard to remove. And it would have
been nice to go in and mop them up and pull them out. But it`s not proving
as easy as we anticipated. Troops are going to be in there for a while or
we basically leave and turn them over to the locals, a wide array --

MATTHEWS: Why are we fighting the Taliban? Why don`t we let the
government of Karzai fight the Taliban? It`s their country.

WRIGHT: Because the Afghan government isn`t capable yet. And this is
a very different situation than it was Iraq where you had fairly capable
troops, or people you could train. In Afghanistan, you have a problem of
just basic literacy. Can they read and write?

MATTHEWS: I heard we aren`t training any, we`re not recruiting any
Pashtun, to fight the Pashtun.

WRIGHT: Well, I think that you get into ethnic issues that are very -
-

MATTHEWS: Yes, like we`re not able to recruit the main body of people
that we need to recruit. That`s something of a problem.

WRIGHT: Well, it`s also who controls which areas of the country.
That`s

MATTHEWS: What a war. Anyway, thank you, Robin Wright.

When we return, let me finish -- name of the book?

WRIGHT: "Rock the Casbah."

MATTHEWS: "Rock the Casbah."

We have two women who just climbed the highest peak in Africa. Two
women, highest peak in Africa. They just climbed it. We`re going to talk
about that when we come back on HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a dazzling story tonight of
spirit and excitement.

My queen Kathleen has just returned from another conquest, this one of
Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. She and our daughter
Caroline, both on the right side of this picture, just climbed Kilimanjaro,
all 19,000 feet of it. They are up there at the Horo (ph) summit, right up
there at 4,000 meters. It took them seven days and six nights of camping
and what plummeted to 20 degree weather to get to the summit and back down.

What can I say? I got a wife and a daughter who do this kind of
thing. Kathleen is the executive V.P. of Marriott International. Caroline
just graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and has
landed a job by her own brains and wits, I might add, with Google, which is
like being a Rhode scholar these days.

Anyway, the two of them made it to the top climbing -- as can you see
in these pictures, some mighty steep slopes. Look at that, they did it
with determination, obviously, and ambition and something else -- women
today. What can I say? Wild.

I`m living with two who climbed the highest peak in Africa. Their
mother and grandmother would be proud. Don`t you think?

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

More politics ahead with Al Sharpton.


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