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updated 9/15/2011 10:33:38 AM ET 2011-09-15T14:33:38

Guests: Howard Fineman, David Corn, Amanda Drury, Eugene Robinson, Susan Page, Ed Rollins, Bernard Sanders, Carl Lewis

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The times are tough, the talk is crazier.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
Trouble in River City. What`s worse for President Obama, that nearly two
thirds of the voters say they are angry, that a majority of Americans don`t
think his jobs plan will work, or that his own party is depressed? It`s a
trifecta of bad news for the president right now, and the big question is
whether the White House can fill the cracks before the president`s
reelection chances crumble away. That`s where we start tonight, a bad
night for the president.

And later: What`s Michele Bachmann talking about when she suggests
that vaccines can cause, quote, "mental retardation"? She was trying to
ding Rick Perry for requiring that young girls in Texas be immunized
against a virus that causes cervical cancer, but now Bachmann herself is
under attack for making claims that have no basis in medical fact, and once
again, the Republican Party looks like it`s the anti-science party.

And we learned the number of Americans in poverty shot up to its
highest level since 1993. Nearly one in six Americans now are in poverty.
Republicans now blame the president, but this economy is a direct result of
the Bush tax cuts 10 years ago. The rich are getting richer, the middle
class is shrinking and the GOP has become a party where crowds now cheer
loudly at letting someone without health care -- or health insurance simply
die.

Plus, nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis won the battle to be
on the ballot for the state senate race out in New Jersey. Carl Lewis
joins us here on HARDBALL tonight.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with what I call the battle of "The Planet of
the Apes" in today`s Republican Party.

We begin with the growing concern among Democrats. Howard Fineman`s
an MSNBC political analyst and the Huffington Post Media Group editorial
director, and Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today" and
writes many of their front page stories. I read them often, especially in
hotel rooms because they always seem to appear magically at my door!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s take a look at these numbers. They`re not
good for the president or the Democrats. A majority now, 51 percent of the
Americans, do not believe the Obama jobs bill will lower the unemployment
rate, according to a new Bloomberg number. I believe that number. Let me
ask the group here. Howard, is that number simply a reflection of the fact
that you ask any question about the president`s economics and they say no?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that`s exactly what it
is because elsewhere in that poll and some other polls, voters were asked
about their views of the different pieces of the bill itself, you know, the
ideas within the bill. They`re more favorable toward the ideas in the bill
than they are to the bill when it`s described as Barack Obama`s bill.

MATTHEWS: They don`t like the brand name.

FINEMAN: They don`t like the brand name, which right now is a
reversal of where things were a year ago and very bad news --

MATTHEWS: Boy, that is bad news.

FINEMAN: Very bad news for the president.

MATTHEWS: That means what he`s touching isn`t working.

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": That`s true, and he`s having trouble
breaking through, getting people to believe what he says or even to listen
to what he says. You know, the big speech to the joint session of Congress
did not budge his job approval number or --

MATTHEWS: It`s funny because 30 million people watched it, too.

PAGE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: They did listen.

PAGE: People watched it. He`s been out since then, doing what
political advisers said he needed to do, get outside of Washington, press
the same message over and over again. It`s not having an effect on the
approval that he has.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see. The CNN Opinion Research poll asked
Americans if they were angry about how things are going in America.
Seventy-two percent said, yes, angry is the word. Boy, you hear it and
feel it. Seventy-one percent say they`re scared. Boy, you get scared,
then you get angry about how things are going.

You know, I always feel one of the (INAUDIBLE) really -- reason people
don`t like criminals, they make them scared.

PAGE: Well, and this is, I think, the worst news of all for President
Obama. To be running for reelection in a landscape where Americans
overwhelmingly say we`re going in the wrong direction, I`ve lost hope on
the economy, I`m fearful of what`s going to happen next. That makes it
very hard for an incumbent president to make his case.

FINEMAN: Well, you know, what`s interesting --

MATTHEWS: People don`t like being scared because it -- and it makes
them angry for making them scared.

FINEMAN: Yes. What`s interesting to me about this is just the other
day, I was interviewing a Democrat who`s doing polling and focus groups for
the White House and the Democratic National Committee. This was a focus
group down in Richmond. And this guy was telling me, You know what?
People aren`t angry. They wish the president would perform better, but
they`re not angry. And he kept underlining that they`re not angry. Now,
maybe that was wishful thinking --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: -- because all the poll numbers we`re seeing right now is
that anger is the word, and that -- that is a problem.

The other thing that`s happening, Chris -- you know, the president got
pretty good reviews from the media and the commentariat for that speech the
other night. He had the best possible effort that he could make that was
pretty much given good notices, and the Republicans kept their mouths shut
about it. That was his last best opportunity, it seems, to make the case,
and it didn`t seem to work.

"The New York Times" on Saturday had a piece basically saying the bill
wouldn`t produce any new jobs. Even people like Stephen Colbert and Jon
Stewart, who can be funny but not cutting or dismissive -- I found if you
look at them in the last few days, they`ve been very they were very
dismissive about the jobs speech, which I thought was interesting.

MATTHEWS: Susan, do you think this resonates with the fate that
President Carter suffered in the summer `79, when he tried to talk about
issues he cared about and people stopped listening?

PAGE: It could be. Now, Obama`s numbers (ph) are in a better place
than Carter was. Carter was at a 30 percent approval rating in the Gallup
poll at this point. Obama`s in the low 40s. But this was the point when
the -- this is the point when the presidents who win reelection begin to
really build their numbers. This is when Reagan was coming up, when
Clinton was coming up. Soon they`d be over 50 percent in pretty good
economies.

President Obama faces a situation where he needs to improve his
numbers even though the economy`s numbers are, we know, not going to get
very much better by election day. This is about the economy --

FINEMAN: Yes.

PAGE: -- he is likely to have on election day.

FINEMAN: That`s the thing that`s doing it, Chris. I mean, it`s not
about the poll numbers, it`s about the reality numbers. It`s about the
unemployment number. It`s about the median household income number. It`s
about the poverty rate number that you were just talking about. It`s even
-- you know, even the College Board came out yesterday to say that the
reading scores were lower than they have ever been.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? Is that -- I mean, everybody
here is a parent or student-watching (ph) -- is trying to figure out why
there`s a connection.

FINEMAN: Why there`s a connection --

MATTHEWS: Why would SAT reading scores go down? Why would your oral
scores or your verbal scores --

FINEMAN: No, I`m --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m curious if there is a connection.

FINEMAN: Well, certainly, if people are working harder, families are
working harder, if they don`t have jobs, if the parents are worried and
don`t have time to devote to the education of their children or helping
them with homework, who knows? My point is that all the reality check
numbers --

MATTHEWS: Are you wincing?

PAGE: I am because I`m not sure it`s fair to blame --

FINEMAN: No, I`m not blaming Barack Obama --

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: -- for the reading numbers going down.

FINEMAN: No, no. I`m not. That`s not what I`m doing.

MATTHEWS: I`m wondering --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- because I`m trying to figure it out because you`re onto
something. We`re all parents. We`re empty-nesters now, but I am -- I
think --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: -- semi-empty.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re empty now. And I tell you, my wife, Cathy
(ph), is a queen about some things. She`ll be working until midnight with
the kids, checking over their essays. And every teacher now gives an essay
question every night, it seems, right? And they`re doing it over and over.
And that effort is really a big part of being a parent.

FINEMAN: I`m not -- I`m not -- understand, I`m not blaming Barack
Obama. It was the tide of antagonism and worry about the economy that
brought him into power.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: This is a big generation-long transition that`s happening
here.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: But what I`m saying here is when all the numbers about the
sort of health of our society seem to be going in the wrong direction --

MATTHEWS: I`m with you --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: -- including that --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: -- it`s hard for him to make the sale.

MATTHEWS: Politico reports today on the mood among Democrats. Quote,
"On a high-level campaign conference call Tuesday afternoon" -- that`s
yesterday -- "Democratic donors and strategists commiserated over their
disappointment in the president. A source on the call described the mood
as `awful.` "People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted,
hopeless` " -- they`re all sources.

Susan, you`re chuckling, but it`s not chuckle-worthy in the White
House.

PAGE: Although -- you know, that`s true, and Democrats are
discouraged. But President Obama is not going to face a primary challenge
the way Jimmy Carter did. And that is --

MATTHEWS: Why not?

PAGE: He`s not going to do it because he`s still strong enough with
the base of the party and because there`s not a strong candidate willing to
challenge him.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about those two special elections yesterday
now. First of all, the one in Arizona -- Nevada has never voted Democrat,
apparently, since it was a CD and when the state was created back in 1864.
We`ll drop that one.

When New York City, even -- whatever part of the boroughs goes
Republican, you know you`ve got trouble. A lot of ethnic factors there,
Orthodox Jewish voters, Catholic voters very upset and urban ethnic
Catholic voters very upset about same-sex.

Susan, now much of that was -- and by the way, even the president at
his high level in 2008 in November only got 55 percent there, so it`s not
some lefty district.

PAGE: And Barack Obama`s approval rating there is about 10 points
below where it is nationally. So this -- while this has been a
historically Democratic --

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) it`s in the 30s.

PAGE: Where this has been historically a Democratic district, it`s
been trending more Republican. And as you say a combination of factors --
the vote on same-sex marriage -- the Democrat had voted for it in the state
legislature --

MATTHEWS: Somebody called it a "perfect storm," a bad storm. Yes.

PAGE: Yes. The concern by some Jews --

MATTHEWS: Howard --

PAGE: -- about treatment of Israel --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, a lot of it is about settlements. It`s a very
conservative group of people there within this -- somebody said it`s a
third of a third. Within the Jewish community there, it`s very
conservative, very conservative.

FINEMAN: It`s a third of a third of a third, but it was enough in a
low-turnout election to matter. And what they`re looking at is the vote
coming up in the United Nations for --

MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re right.

FINEMAN: -- the Palestinian state and all that kind of stuff.

MATTHEWS: It`s a great time to push the button. As I like to say,
bang on the pipes if you want hot water.

FINEMAN: Yes. And frankly, the Obama administration is now trying to
turn that around in a very public effort that`s probably just going to
advertise their own weakness.

MATTHEWS: Because they can`t stop the vote in the General Assembly.

FINEMAN: They can`t stop it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much. It`s a bad night for the
Democratic Party and the president.

We`ll be right back with more HARDBALL. Thank you, Howard Fineman.
Thank you, Susan Page.

Coming up: Michele Bachmann -- now a little entertainment`s coming up
here. She`s under attack for suggesting that a vaccine can cause mental
retardation. If you`re feeling blue right now as a Democrat or a
progressive, stay tuned for a few minutes. You`re about to get some comic
relief. This is the latest example of a Republican fighting science. This
is the party of "The Planet of the Apes." They don`t like human history or
science.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Obama continued his campaign for the American
Jobs Act today. He spoke in North Carolina, North Carolina State
University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In North Carolina
alone, there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be
repaired. Four of them are near here, on or around the Beltline (ph). Why
would we wait to act until another bridge falls?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, according to the Department of
Transportation`s numbers, from the group Transportation for America, there
are more than 2,300 structurally deficient bridges in the state of North
Carolina, 2,300. Where President Obama spoke today, by the way, North
Carolina`s second congressional district, which is represented by
Republican Renee Ellmers, there are 139 bridges just in that congressional
district alone that are rated structurally deficient. Those are bridges
that need immediate repair or outright replacement, and Americans can be
put to work fixing them right now -- 139 troubled bridges in that
congressional district alone where President Obama spoke today.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had a mother
last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She
told me her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she
suffered from mental retardation thereafter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on the vaccine for the
virus that causes cervical cancer. Later that day on Sean Hannity`s radio
show, she tried to qualify her expertise. Let`s listen to her then.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I am not a doctor. I`m not a scientist. I`m not a
physician. All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me last night
at the debate.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics quickly corrected
Bachmann, saying her comments have "no scientific validity" -- that`s the
phrase they used. And we called the campaign of Bachmann for comment.

When asked numerous times whether Congressman Bachmann or anyone from
her campaign had reached out to the woman who made that claim about her
daughter having suffered mental retardation as a result of taking the
vaccine, the answer was varying versions of, quote, "Our focus is on
overreach of executive privilege and crony capitalism," two transgressions
they say Governor Rick Perry made when he tried to use an executive order
to push through the vaccination program from a drug-maker represented by a
former staffer.

And later today, Rick Perry weighed in with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that was a
statement that was (SIC) no truth and no basis in fact. And look, I hate
cancer, and that`s what this has always been about for me. Did I handle
this wrong? I`ve readily admitted that I did, that I should have done it
in a different way, we should have had an opt-in instead of an opt-out.
But at the end of the day, I am always going to be erring on the side of
life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Ed Rollins is a political consultant. We all know
him well. Until recently, he was Michele Bachmann`s campaign manager. Ed,
thanks for coming on HARDBALL tonight.

ED ROLLINS, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: Are you still with the campaign? Or what`s your status
with regard to congresswoman Bachmann?

ROLLINS: You know, I`m available. If she needs to call me and ask me
for anything, I`m more than happy. Two weeks ago, I made every decision.
Today I make no decisions.

MATTHEWS: Well, what about this decision to get involved in this
issue of claiming that somehow the vaccine that was given to those girls
down in Texas causes "mental retardation," using the language of the
congresswoman?

ROLLINS: There`s no empirical data other than one individual woman
coming up to her. I think Mrs. Bachmann is an emotional person who
basically has great feeling for people. And I think that`s what she was
trying to project. Obviously, she`d have been better if she had stayed on
the issue, which the issue was the governor`s executive orders and whether
he basically made a mistake, as he said he did.

He made a mistake. She made a mistake. The quicker she admits she
made a mistake and moves on, the better she is.

MATTHEWS: But she hasn`t done that. Here`s Rush Limbaugh on Michele
Bachmann`s comments. Listen to Rushbo today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`ll tell you, Michele Bachmann
-- she might have blown it today -- well, not blown it, but she might have
jumped the shark today. If she`d have just left it alone on this
vaccination thing from last night -- but she`s now out saying that this
Gardasil, the drug, now causes mental retardation, that somebody in the
audience came up to her and told her that. So she`s -- and that`s jumping
the shark on this. There`s no evidence that the vaccine causes mental
retardation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was Limbaugh yesterday, Ed. Do you want to further
comment on his comment about her?

ROLLINS: You know, he`s entitled to his opinion, and obviously, he`s
been (ph) a strong opinion historically. She needs to move on. The bottom
line is she can`t prove the case, and I think it`s just better for her to
get back on the trail and go out and do -- she`s the best retail politics
person in this campaign. She needs to get back to doing that out in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you about her retail skills. In fact, as a
personality, I think she`s very charming in person. My question is about
her attitude towards science. Does she believe this sort of common sense,
horse sense, what you hear and word of mouth has relevance? I mean, when
you hear somebody come up to me -- you know the kind of people that come up
to people in public life, even people in the media like me. I get truthers
coming up to me all the time with cock-and-bull stories. I don`t believe
them. I don`t even quote them. I certainly wouldn`t give them the word of
mouth to somebody else.

Why did she parrot what somebody said to her without any checking out
of whether that person knew what they were talking about?

ROLLINS: Well, you know, it`s easy to second guess when you`re not
there. You know, you`ve been around candidates all your life, as have I.
It`s very important that you never basically say anything that you can`t
back up with empirical data. If she would have said, Listen, a woman came
up to me, I`m going to find out whether it`s valid or not, that would have
been a good statement.

But I think the bottom line here is she has made what was a very
positive debate and made the issue about Perry to where it`s now an issue
about her, and she needs to move on.

MATTHEWS: What do you think happened with her? Because I watched you
work on her campaign and I`ve watched you -- you`re a pro. I got the sense
when you were with her, you were trying to discipline her in this sense --
not in a patronizing way, but to do what Jim Baker and the others and you
guys did with Ronald Reagan over the years, keep them focused on the
winning issues of the economy.

You`ve seen the numbers we just talked about. This country is in such
bad shape. You just ride that pony. You don`t have to go off and find
other mounts to run. But yet she wasn`t doing well focusing on the
economy. Why not?

ROLLINS: Well, she needs to add -- and I think she still will. It`s
-- you know, you can basically be against Obama, which most of the country
is at this point in time. You now have to draw some conclusions as to how
you`re going to govern when you get in there. Being against the debt,
being against "Obama care" are all fine, but then you`ve got to add some
other things. And I think she will over the next several months.

If I would have stayed running the campaign, that was the direction we
were moving in, and I`m sure that people that are around her today, my
team, will do the same thing.

MATTHEWS: Well, why is she jumping all over these shots then?

ROLLINS: You know, I think the bottom line is it comes back to a
discipline. She`s not a veteran candidate. She`s a new candidate. She`s
a great candidate. But at the end of the day, someone needs to be there.
When someone says that to her, basically, say, Let`s move on, let`s keep it
on the issue of executive abuse of power, keep it on Perry, don`t make it
about yourself.

MATTHEWS: You know, except for this crazy stuff about science -- and
I believe in evolution. And I`m Catholic, as you know, like you are -- and
I believe in evolution. I was taught it in school by a Christian brother.

I don`t think it`s anti-religious to believe that we evolved in a
certain way. It`s why we experiment on animals and why there`s oil under
the ground, because it was put there long ago by organic forces. Anyway --
260 million years ago, by the way, not in the Old Testament.

The Republican Party is involved in a classic fight now, like it was
between Taft and Ike back in `52, like between Rockefeller and Goldwater,
between Jerry Ford and Reagan, between Reagan and Herbert Walker Bush.
It`s a great fight.

Tell me, is it really going to be like that center-right or center vs.
right? Is this where it`s headed between what it looks like Romney and
Perry right now?

ROLLINS: Well, you know, it`s somewhat about -- a lot of these things
are about religion.

And obviously the evangelical Christian is a very important part of
our coalition. At the end of the day, my sense, if it does end up being
Romney and it does end up being Governor Perry, who is sort of the median,
and the polls now basically indicate it`s a two-person race, I think it --
I think it still can evolve to where somebody else can get in.

Perry may stumble. I don`t think it`s a foregone conclusion. If it
is, though, then it`s kind of the mainstream establishment candidate that
Romney represents vs. the two-party, conservative, Western, Southern part
of the party which Perry would represent. I think at the end of the day,
historically, the establishment candidate wins. This may be a different
environment.

MATTHEWS: Do you think in a country that`s 70-some percent angry, a
non-angry candidate like Romney can win? That`s why I think it might be a
different year. It looks like your party may act like the Democrats this
year -- next year -- not like the Republicans of old of picking the person
whose turn it is, the establishment candidate, but pick someone who fits
sort of the mood, the Zeitgeist, like the Democrats always do.

ROLLINS: The most overwhelming thing that I have seen in a lot of
polling data that I have seen is Republicans want someone who can basically
beat Obama. That`s first and foremost.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ROLLINS: The sidebar issues don`t matter. At this point in time they
want him out and they want one of our candidates to beat him. Whichever
one has the best chance is the person who is going to be the nominee.

MATTHEWS: Is there a secret unspoken? Because I`m working this
Kennedy story back with this book I have done. Is there a secret
underground anti-Mormon vote that won`t speak its mind that may hurt Romney
in the South when you get down there?

ROLLINS: It may. I think it`s sad if it does, but I think it is. I
think it affects more a nomination process than it does a general election
process.

I think people are now getting used to Romney. He`s been running for
six, seven years, and I don`t think the issue is being raised in the same
way it was two or three years ago, but at the end of the day, there`s
always bias in politics.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROLLINS: And, unfortunately, religious bias is one of those biases.

MATTHEWS: Who do you want to win the nomination?

ROLLINS: I still want Michele Bachmann to win the nomination.

MATTHEWS: You would like to see her president?

ROLLINS: You know, I think she`s a great candidate. I think she`s
evolved and I think she will evolve. She`s got an uphill battle. She`s
got to get back in the game again.

MATTHEWS: Would you like to see her president of the United States,
controlling the bomb?

ROLLINS: I would not be -- well, first of all, the bomb is -- I want
someone to control the economy, and I think she`s right on those issues.

MATTHEWS: But you would make her commander in chief?

ROLLINS: Whoever is president gets to be commander in chief. The one
that is in there today didn`t have much experience.

MATTHEWS: You`re hedging.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Would you like to see her commander in chief of the United
States, Michele Bachmann?

ROLLINS: She`s commander -- if she`s elected president, she will be
commander in chief. And she will do a good job.

MATTHEWS: Would you like her to be commander in chief?

ROLLINS: I have no question that she could be a very tough commander
in chief.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Oh, you are so slippery, Ed. You`re not answering my
question. But I know I`m not getting an answer from you.

ROLLINS: You got as much as you`re going to get.

MATTHEWS: Have you taken the same -- have you gotten as hypnotized as
she seems sometimes?

ROLLINS: Have I gotten as hypnotized? You have known me for 40
years. I don`t get hypnotized.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Ed Rollins.

ROLLINS: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: I heard your answer. We are going to go over the
recordings over and over again to find your meaning.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.

He was not quite ready to say she ought to be in charge of the nuclear
arsenal.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But you asked Ed Rollins, her
former campaign manager --

MATTHEWS: Manager.

CORN: -- if he would like her to be president, and what he said was,
I think she will evolve. That is not --

MATTHEWS: But she doesn`t believe in evolution.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: I know -- maybe politically.

That is not a ringing endorsement from someone who worked close with
her to make -- to get her the nomination.

MATTHEWS: How about being commander in chief and controlling our
nuclear arsenal?

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Well, he wasn`t very --

MATTHEWS: It comes with the job.

CORN: He was not very enthusiastic about that prospect either.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the Republican Party.

I`m a believer in modern science.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I`m also religious and I do think there`s no distinction
between the two. You can believe everything you can about the nature of
our -- you know, nature of our universe and existence --

CORN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: -- but the way it evolved. Why do you think we experiment
on animals? Because there is a relationship historically way back when.

And my question is, why do the Republicans get hung up on science?
Why are there people that just instinctively, like Bachmann, think there`s
a big win on their side if you oppose vaccination?

CORN: Well, I think it`s because of the base they are playing to
where science is often inconvenient. You look at, say, global warming, and
it`s undeniable. Rick Perry gets out there and Michele Bachmann. They
basically says it`s a hoax. Rick Perry can`t name one scientist --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But there`s a reason why.

MATTHEWS: Why?

CORN: It`s not whether -- I`m sure it`s of their own beliefs. They
don`t want to have to deal with the consequence. And they are dealing with
a base of voters who don`t believe in it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s look at their history on it. Let`s look at what
they have said about evolution. Let`s look at this montage, Republicans on
evolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a
controversy amongst scientists about whether evolution is a fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This comes from a Politico.com reader and was
among the top vote-getters in our early rounds. They want a yes or no.

Do you believe in evolution?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m curious. Is there anybody on the stage that
does not agree -- believe in evolution?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MCCAIN: May I just add to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

MCCAIN: I believe in evolution, but I also believe when I hike the
Grand Canyon and see it at sunset that the hand of God is there also.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it`s a
theory that`s out there. It`s got some gaps in it, but, in Texas, we teach
both creationism and evolution in our public schools.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ask him why he doesn`t believe in science?

PERRY: Because I figure you`re smart enough to figure out which one
is right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What kind of talk is that? A kid in school is being asked
to decide on some historic question about science and the evolution of man,
as if he can decide that himself. Why do they keep going back to this
horse sense thing?

CORN: It`s not reality-based, but they are playing to an audience.
It`s not their own personal beliefs that are driving them as much as --

MATTHEWS: How do you know that?

CORN: Well, that`s my guess. Maybe -- Michele Bachmann probably does
--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, they`re mimicking these people. They`re patronizing
them.

CORN: Michele Bachmann clearly does not believe in evolution.

The others -- look at what McCain did. As soon as he saw that he was
on the wrong side of that answer, he starts talking about God`s beauty and
the Grand Canyon, because he saw the hands going up.

By and large, they are playing to a base of people who are -- who
don`t believe in science because of maybe anti --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is "Planet of the Apes." I want to go -- this is
"Planet of the Apes." Any sign of belief in human history or science gets
you in big trouble in this party.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s "Planet of the Apes." I will get to it at the end.

CORN: Look what Jon Huntsman --

MATTHEWS: You can`t show any brains anymore in the Republican Party,
for some reason.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, David Corn.

CORN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Newt Gingrich`s reaction to that weird moment at
the debate the other night when the crowd cheered for the idea of letting
someone die because they didn`t have health insurance. What`s going on?
That`s in the "Sideshow." You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up, talk about creating a sideshow. At a House subcommittee
session just yesterday, a group of Republicans proposed an interesting set
of bills. The contents? Well, measures to strip President Obama of his
ability to designate certain areas as national monuments.

Well, Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg of Montana summed up his
efforts in saying that -- quote -- "We must cope with the constant
knowledge that one day we could wake up to find that, with the stroke of a
pen, the president declared their backyard a national monument."

Well, this guy sounds like a real piece of work. U.S. presidents have
maintained this power since 1906, and it`s led to the establishment of
little-known areas like the Grand Canyon.

And next up, on Monday night, we heard the audience at that CNN/Tea
Party debate, as you heard before, erupt in cheers when candidate Ron Paul
was asked whether an uninsured man in a coma should be left to die.

Well, yesterday, other candidates were asked to respond to this
disturbing crowd reaction. Here`s what the inimitable Newt Gingrich had to
say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Historically, we had
charity. We had places that said, if you`re down on your luck, if you have
failed to be responsible, we will take care of you. But that doesn`t mean
that you`re necessarily going to get a private room. It doesn`t mean
necessarily you`re going to get everything somebody would get who has been
prudent and who took care of themselves.

Yes, we will make sure that they are taken care of, but they ought to
understand that`s charity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, talk about crapola. That was Newt was out there
dancing. The crowd, by the way, cheered for letting that person die, not
get a double room.

This is what "Washington Post" columnist Steve Pearlstein was getting
at earlier this week when he wrote that -- quote -- "If you came up with a
bumper sticker that pulls together the platform of this year`s crop of
Republican presidential candidates, it would have to be: Repeal the 20th
century. Vote GOP."

Well, Pearlstein knows how to make a point. Wow.

Up next -- and this is serious -- the poverty rate is going up in this
country, and today`s Republican Party isn`t helping. They want to roll
back much of the social safety net that helps the poor. They cheer at the
idea we should let people die without health insurance. What is going on?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Amanda Drury with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Well, a solid rally on signs of economic determination in Europe. The
Dow Jones industrials soaring 140 points, the S&P 500 adding 15, and the
Nasdaq climbing by 40. Well, let`s start in Europe again today.

A little stumble out of the gate as Austrian lawmakers voted against
fast-tracking funding for a beefed-up bailout pool. But then French and
German leaders reaffirmed their commitment to helping Greece steer clear of
a default. Also, Italy`s parliament gave final approval for new austerity
measures, including higher taxes, pension reforms and spending cuts.

And back here at home, GE is buying back $3 billion of preferred
shares it sold to Berkshire Hathaway at the height of the financial crisis.
GE is a minority shareholder in CNBC and MSNBC.

Elsewhere, PepsiCo ending higher after announcing a management shakeup
in two key units. And Avis giving up buying Dollar Thrifty after chasing
it for more than a year. That leave rival Hertz in the driver`s seat.

That`s it from CNBC. We`re first in business worldwide -- back over
to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Well, back to HARDBALL.

There was some bleak economic news out there, bleak numbers released
just this week by the Census Bureau that shows that poverty -- there`s a
word we haven`t heard lately -- is increasing here in our country -- 15.1
percent of Americans are now living in poverty. It`s a statistical number.
That`s defined as a family of four making less than about $22,000 a year.
That`s four people and $22,000 a year or an individual making under $11,000
a year. That percentage is up from about 11.3 percent just a decade ago.

So it`s gone up about half, about 50 percent higher than it was when
President Bush went into office. That`s bad news for the average family.
The median household income fell to just under $50,000. That`s down from -
- down about $3,000 since 1999. The numbers weren`t bad news for everyone,
of course. We know that one. The richest 1 percent of Americans saw --
quote -- "significant income gains," according to "The Washington Post"
today.

Well, despite all this, many Republicans argue that the country needs
to cut budget for the safety net. We hear these fights all the time, about
cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. That`s in keeping even for
people out of poverty.

And Republican candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have
said poor people aren`t paying their fair share of taxes. We`re hearing
that a lot, raise taxes, create taxes in fact for people in the lower-
income levels. What exactly is the Republican plan to lower the numbers of
Americans in poverty?

Well, we won`t get it from Senator Bernie Sanders. He chaired the
hearing yesterday at the poverty -- on the poverty rates.

Senator Sanders, I was listening to you this morning. And I am so
impressed by you because, like me, you`re a little further left of me, I
must say, but you`re a `60s guy and you have got a heart about this stuff.
And I really think that we ought to hear from people like you more often in
these times.

Maybe in good times, I don`t want to hear from you.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But I do want to hear from you in bad times, because you do
have something of the understanding of the role of public policy. You
don`t just sit back and be Herbert Hoover again.

We tried doing nothing. We tried balancing the budget. We tried
cutting spending. Even Roosevelt talked that up in `32, as you know. It
didn`t work. It landed up with 25 percent unemployment and a horrific
economic situation if it weren`t for World War II.

So talk. What should we do?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, first thought, you were right
a moment ago when you said we don`t hear very much about poverty in
America. And you know why that is, Chris? It`s because many poor people
don`t vote. You know that. And poor people certainly don`t make a whole
lot in campaign contributions.

So we kind of push them aside, except when we can use them as a
political football for the right wing to blame all of the problems in the
world on poor people.

The reality is -- and we had a hearing on this yesterday -- is that
not only is poverty in America growing because the middle class is
collapsing and more and more people are ending up poor, but poverty is not
just what many people think it is. Oh, people live in bad housing. You
know, people don`t have a good car. They don`t go to the movies on
Saturday night.

You know what poverty is about, Chris? Many people don`t know this.

MATTHEWS: What?

SANDERS: And this is what we heard from physicians yesterday.

If you are in the lower 20 percent of income earners, you are going to
die, D-I-E, six-and-a-half years earlier than somebody in the top 20
percent. What do you think about that?

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s like you hear -- well, that`s what I hear from
countries. I was in the Peace Corps. I hear that from the country I was
in, that when they really have bad times, that`s -- let`s take a look at
something I want you to talk about which to me is graphic and I don`t think
I will soon forget it.

On Monday`s Republican debate down in Tampa, where they are having
their convention next year, there was a moment, an exchange with
Representative Ron Paul about government safety nets. The specific
question was whether someone without insurance who was in a coma should
receive care or just simply be left to die?

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s what freedom is
all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to prepare
and take care of everybody --

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR: But, Congressman, are you saying that
society should just let him die?

PAUL: No.

AUDIENCE: Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Didn`t you hear that hooting and hollering, it was like the
Roman Coliseum, yes, yes, yes, and the woman in the right jacket there,
shaking her head positively, yes, yes, yes. What do you make of this?

SANDERS: Well, I`ll tell you what I make of this. I know Ron Paul
and I have known him for many years. When I was in the House, we`ve worked
together. Ron is a straightforward and honest guy. I respect that.

This is what these guys believe. And what they believe ultimately is
everybody is on your own, and that`s great if you have a whole lot of
money. You know what? If you`re in a coma and when you have a whole lot
of money, you`re going to get good health care. But what they are saying
to working people, to the middle class, to low-income people, we are going
to abolish Social Security.

Government shouldn`t play a role in retirement security. We are going
to abolish Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, you know, that all comes under the rhetoric as we hate the
government. But the reality is for -- and we`re going to give huge tax
breaks to the wealthy. The reality is we, i.e. right wing extremists,
believe that what society is about is allowing the big money interests and
the wealthy to have all kinds of power, all kinds of privileges, but if
you`re in the middle class or if you`re working person, forget about it.
You`re on your own.

And if you get sick and you don`t have any health insurance, guess
what? This is what they are saying. You are going to die. That`s it.

And I have to respect their honesty in saying it. That is their
politics. That is what they believe. Forget about Medicare. Forget about
Medicaid.

MATTHEWS: Who started the new religion that taxes and government are
bad? They now treat taxes, these abolitionists, the way antebellum
Republicans talked about slavery, like it was an essential evil.

SANDERS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: When did that start?

SANDERS: Well, I think what you got -- I think what you got is you
got some well-funded folks which have gone on, you know, they organized
after Barry Goldwater was devastated. They came up with an absurd right
wing philosophy based on Ayn Rand`s philosophy, and what that philosophy
about is essentially you are on your own. And to be on your own means that
we don`t need any tax revenue for Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

And in fact, somehow it is wonderful -- you know, one of the points
you made earlier, we should also dwell on, and that is while the middle
class collapses and poverty increases, what else is going on? The
wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well. Corporations are enjoying
record-breaking profits. The rich are paying --

MATTHEWS: You know why? Here`s my theory. Now, this sounds Marxists
and I don`t want to skip to your left on this.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness.

MATTHEWS: I want to tell you something. When I see automation, when
I got to a CVS, used to employ a lot of people just above the poverty
level, above minimum wage, and you walk in there now, it`s all machines.
Now, it`s very convenient for the customer. It`s all machines.

There`s a checkout machine, by the way, that talks to you and says
don`t forget to put your CVS card in. And, by the way, I used to have
about seven or eight cameramen, I don`t have them anymore, it`s automated,
it`s all robots.

SANDERS: Yes. OK.

MATTHEWS: Everywhere we go, it`s robots.

SANDERS: Chris

MATTHEWS: I used to go to a gas station, have somebody would check
your tires and check your oil, there ain`t anybody there. There`s nobody
working in a gas station.

SANDERS: But here`s another reality, Chris. I think that that`s an
important point, no question about it. Robotics, automation have played a
very important role.

But I`ll tell you what else has played an important role and that is
our disastrous trade policies pushed on us by corporate America. That is
NAFTA, KAFTA, permanent, normal trade relations with China.

Do you know how many factories we`ve lost in the last 10 years? The
answer is 50,000 factories. When you go shopping, you don`t buy products
made in the United States. They are made in China.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SANDERS: We`ve got to work on that issue, rebuild manufacturing,
create decent paying jobs there.

MATTHEWS: You know where the problem is there, because my old
neighborhood which was an Irish neighborhood in north Philly, now, it`s an
African-American neighborhood, the houses are in bad shape now and it
basically looked like the same neighborhood except for one thing. There`s
no factory like there was for my grandfather to go work in two stops on the
subway. Those factories aren`t there anymore.

SANDERS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: There`s no job for the entry level kid who graduates from
high school.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s it.

SANDERS: We`ve got to tell our friends in corporate America to start
reinvesting in the United States of America, rebuild manufacturing here
rather than running to China.

MATTHEWS: OK. I respect your logic because you`re a `60s guy and on
this particular economic situation, you`re the man to listen to. Thank you
very much. I wish we didn`t have to listen to you, but in these times,
you`ve got to listen to Bernie Sanders.

Anyway, thank you, sir, for joining us from Vermont.

SANDERS: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, next, we`re joined by Eugene Robinson, a somewhat
more moderate fellow. He`s an MSNBC political analyst.

You know, I have to tell you, sometimes I think the guy is real stuck
in the `60s, but yet we`re back to worst economic times, not as bad as the
`30s. But we`re back -- look at these numbers tonight we came out with,
Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They are unbelievable. Seventy-some percent of the people
think -- are angry as hell. They`ve given up. They`re scared.

ROBINSON: Yes, of course. Why wouldn`t they be scared? I mean, you
know, the economy is going through a terrible time, and -- and income --
there`s this polarization, this income polarization that`s been happening
in this country. It didn`t start three or four years ago. It didn`t start
with George Bush.

It`s been happening for decades, and -- and this is the result. The
rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, and we have one of
our two big parties increasingly adopting this, you know, every man for
himself. Every woman for herself sort of philosophy which I think is -- I
mean, let`s just call it what it is.

I think it`s immoral. I think this is an immoral philosophy on
religious grounds, on humanistic grounds. I think we are our brother`s
keeper. I think we --

MATTHEWS: What do you make of Mitt Romney, who seems like a moderate
compared to these other guys, but he`s saying corporations are people?
They are not. They are profit-driven machines.

ROBINSON: Corporations are pieces of paper with signatures on them.
You know, that`s the corporation. Yes, people work at corporations, but --
but it`s just -- it`s a weird sort of Ayn Rand philosophy. What did he do
at Bain Capital? I mean, he was a champion of creative -- the creative
destruction --

MATTHEWS: I wish the United States was doing a better job for the --

ROBINSON: The creative destruction of capitalism is a great force,
but it has to be regulated and it has to be channeled.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ROBINSON: It has to be -- it can`t steam roll human beings.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not just the left that`s down. I think the
center is down right now. Anyway, thank you very much, Gene Robinson. I
wish I had more time for you. But I couldn`t stop Bernie Sanders there.

Anyway, up next, off -- I didn`t want to. Up next, off and running,
nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis won his battle. He`s on the
ballot in New Jersey to run for the state Senate there. He`s going to come
here next. We`re going to talk to him.

What is it about these really, really good athletes that makes them
want to run for office? I mean, this guy, nine times gold medal winner.

This is HARDBALL, coming up on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich may not be looking west
after all. He was thinking about going west to Washington state. Well,
Kucinich`s Cleveland district was not dismantled in a Ohio redistricting
plan as he feared. But it was redrawn and now includes Toledo, Cleveland
and Toledo, home of fellow Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. She`s a
great congresswoman. Kucinich would likely have to defeat her in a
Democratic primary if he hopes to hang on to that congressional seat.

What a sad race, two good people. Kucinich, an eight-term congressman
who was considering running in Washington state, as I said, if he lost his
district in Ohio.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

My next guest may be best known for being the world`s fastest man, but
he`s currently involved in the race of his life as a candidate for New
Jersey state Senate. The great Carl Lewis is one of the country`s most
decorated athletes. He won nine -- count `em -- nine Olympic gold medals
for track and field. But now, Lewis is running for political office in New
Jersey. He`s had a few hurdles along the way.

Just yesterday, however, the third court circuit of the United States
Court of Appeals allowed Lewis back on the ballot in his bid to become a
New Jersey state senator, amid questions about his residency.

We`re joined right now by the man himself, Carl Lewis.

Mr. Lewis, congratulations. You`re on the ballot. What was this
fight about, whether you`re actually a New Jerseyite or what? What was the
fight about?

CARL LEWIS (D), NJ STATE SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes, they were saying the
amount of time I had my residency there. But the reality was when we first
gave out information to the law judge, he approved it. When I got down to
it, I`m a New Jersey person. I was raised there, I went to school there,
and I moved away to go to college and start my business and then moved back
to serve. So, they just tried to challenge that time that I came back.

MATTHEWS: Why should you be a state senator from New Jersey? This is
my favorite question. It`s the Ted Kennedy question. Why should you be a
state senator up in Trenton?

LEWIS: Well, the thing is that it`s a number of things, Chris.

You know, this past year, few years, I`ve been going around the world
studies, what I do, I speak to kids, I go to schools and I witnessed the
change in our education because that`s a big issue for me. And I see how
we`re being challenged globally, where I go to China or India and those
kids are educated, they speak English and they are trying to go on the
Internet to find jobs. So, when I bring that back here, that knowledge
back here.

And I`m also working in the schools. I`m a volunteer at my high
school. And a few years ago I challenged the children, the ninth graders,
who were terrible team, that they were going to be state champions by the
time they graduate. Well, they looked at me like I probably had 100 heads.

But you know what, when they were seniors those kids were number two
in the state by two points. But not only that, when you talk about --
their grades went up, their discipline was better and many of those kids
are going to college, some of them on scholarships. So I understood that
what we have to do is get down in the trenches and work with these kids,
and all it cost me was gasoline.

So, when I go to Trenton, not only do I bring a voice and experience,
but also, I`ve spent years and years of public service and I know what the
people like and I`m willing to listen.

MATTHEWS: Well, best of luck. I want to remind everybody we put a
lot of athletes in public office, all these great athletes.

Here`s the list, look at this -- it includes former United States
Senator Bill Bradley, Dollar Bill, from New Jersey, played in the NBA for
New York Knicks. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

Congressman Heath Shuler, he was a quarterback for the Redskins in the
NFL.

Former United States Senator Jim Bunning. Boy, he won no-hitters in
both leagues. He`s a Hall a Famer from the Phillies especially.

Former Congressman Ralph Metcalfe who was one of the heroes of the `36
Berlin Olympics, along with Jesse Owens.

Former Congressman Bob Mathias, he was on the Wheaties Box for years.
He was a gold medal Olympian, as a decathlon, this guy.

And former New York Congressman Jack Kemp, a real close friend of mine
that passed away, was a hero for the Buffalo Bills.

So many athletes -- why do you think athletes want to go for the big
shot of politics after you`ve already been heroes, Carl?

LEWIS: Well, I really think that, first of all, a lot the athletes --
I know Bill Bradley because my brother used to work for him back in the
`70s and `80s. But I think what happens is we retire and we serve. We
serve in the communities.

So many athletes go to schools, they go places. And they interact
with people.

MATTHEWS: OK.

LEWIS: And just like me, I think, we realize, hey, this is a service,
it isn`t a politician. It`s service. So, it`s just an extension of what
we`ve been doing.

MATTHEWS: OK. I got to go. Carl Lewis, I guess I can say good luck.

LEWIS: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: I wish you well. And I won`t say break a leg. Anyway,
thank you. Go for it. Congratulations for getting on the ballot.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with I`m calling it the battle for the
planet of the apes, like in the new movie in today`s Republican Party.
They don`t like human history and they don`t like science.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this, the battle for the
planet of the apes. That`s what the fight for the Republican presidential
nomination is becoming -- a battle among those who hate science, about who
hates it the most.

You know how you get into trouble in this electoral planet of the
apes? You dare show any knowledge or respect for science. The accumulated
knowledge of -- pardon me for mentioning it -- human history. Oh, no, this
is the subject you dare not mention, not if you were in the dreaded media.

Remember the last Republican presidential fight, the one in 2008?
Remember, someone dared e-mail a debate question as to whether the
candidates believed in evolution or not. There were a lot of nots. So,
hush-hush on that one.

Now, the battle is over whether Governor Perry was right to order that
girls get shots at school to protect them from cervical cancer. This got
Congressman Bachman a chance to begin doing the planet of the apes dance.
You know, the primordial calling out ritual clamoring that goes on when
someone dares to show any interest in human science and how it can be
applied to save lives.

You have to ask yourself, what would be worse, that they actually
believe what they say or they are simply mimicking those who have every
right to believe what they do but are not asking us to give them command of
the most awful weapons of the nuclear age with all the scientific awareness
of the Stone Age. Hmm.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

END
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