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updated 9/26/2011 2:12:20 PM ET 2011-09-26T18:12:20

Guests: David Corn, Chris Cillizza, Milissa Rehberger, Sally Bradshaw, Alex Burns, Ali Soufan, Michael Oren

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: No country for Rick Perry.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Leading off tonight: The Texas massacre. With each successive debate,
Rick Perry looks more and more like a AAA ballplayer trying it in the
majors. He was lost last night on foreign policy, stumbled, bumbled and
fumbled his way through what should have been an easy attack on Mitt
Romney`s flip-flopping, and managed to say to Republicans who disagree with
his immigration policy they don`t have a heart. Not a smart move.
Republicans, he called, didn`t have a heart. He even got caught on what we
would generously call a non-fact. How about a fib?

Once again, the Republican audience became the story itself, this time
booing -- you`re not going to believe this, maybe you will -- booing a U.S.
serviceman for being gay. That`s it, they booed him out loud for being
gay.

And this has become a huge negative for the GOP, cheering the death
penalty, for example, yelling, "Let him die" to somebody who didn`t have
health insurance. And it doesn`t help that the candidates never take a
stand against this ugliness. They never say, Excuse me, moment of personal
privilege, I`m not one of them.

Plus, worst suspicions confirmed department. The chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, accuses the Pakistani government of
directly supporting attacks on the United States in Afghanistan by aiding
Pakistani militants. Is the U.S., our country, prepared to go into
Pakistan and take the militants out?

Also, as expected, the Palestinian authority has officially requested
full membership status at the U.N. That`s statehood, nationhood, if you
will. And also, as expected, Israel`s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,
told the U.N., not as far as he`s concerned. Israel`s ambassador to the
United States joins us tonight live on HARDBALL.

Finally, check out Michele Bachmann`s claim that Americans should be
allowed to keep every dollar they earn. No more taxes at all, period. How
exactly does she expect to fund the government she wants to run? By the
way, how`s she paying for that big, long fence with Mexico she wants?
Smaller question, how does she expect to get paid this week?

We start with Rick Perry`s flip-flop -- actually, his flop, simple
flop, at last night`s debate. David Corn`s an MSNBC analyst and the
Washington Post (SIC) bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine. And Sally
Bradshaw joins us. She`s a Republican strategist in Florida.

Let me start with David. By the way, the story headlines coming out,
before you both start here, are pretty dramatic. They`re pretty
unforgiving, if you will, of Rick Perry`s performance last night.

Take a look at a few of these headlines. They are damning. A
Politico story headline, "Texas toast? Perry worries GOP." Michael
Medvedev, who`s an overall critic for everything, he wrote in the
DailyBeast, quote, "Rick Perry, beginning of the end?" Here`s a
TalkingPointsMemo story with the headline, "Running with Rick,
conservatives turn on Perry after debate."

And of course, Bill Kristol on "The Weekly Standard" site wrote a
special editorial on the debate with the headline "Yikes." He went on to
write, "No front-runner in a presidential field has ever, we imagine, had
as weak a showing as Rick Perry. It was close to a disqualifying two hours
for him."

OK, I want to start with Sally Bradshaw. She`s a Republican
consultant, political consultant. She runs campaigns down in Tallahassee,
Florida. Thank you for joining us, Sally, so much.

SALLY BRADSHAW, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me.

MATTHEWS: Give us your point of view, among Republicans -- among
Republicans -- and that`s the target audience from now until -- well, next
spring, through next spring -- how bad did Rick Perry do last night?

BRADSHAW: He had a tough night. I think it would be difficult to say
-- and I think even his own folks would acknowledge it was a difficult
night for Perry. And more than just being a difficult night in the debate,
he created an opening for Governor Romney with about 3,500 Republican
activists who are gathered in Orlando right now for a straw ballot that
will take place tomorrow. This is a straw ballot that Governor Romney had
declined to participate in, but again, there`s been an opening created.

I think what you have to remember, though, Chris, is that we are still
very early. At this point, three, four years ago, Rudy Giuliani was the
darling of the media --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

BRADSHAW: -- and was leading in all the polls. So things can change
very quickly.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but politics gets more advanced, Sally, you know,
every four years. Things move a lot faster. And I agree with you, though,
that -- everybody points it out -- somebody did it last night -- Rudy
Giuliani was the leader at this time.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Fred Thompson.

MATTHEWS: Fred Thompson.

CORN: Don`t forget Fred Thompson.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at one of the weakest moments, many
people believe, on the Fox News debate for Mr. Perry, the governor of
Texas. He stumbled over what should have been -- this is the easiest, this
is a chip, a one -- a six-inch putt here --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`m not a golfer, but a six-inch putt, a well-rehearsed --

CORN: A gimme.

MATTHEWS: -- riff on Romney`s flip-flops, and he couldn`t say it.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Americans
just don`t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they`re dealing with. Is it
the Mitt Romney that was on the side of -- against the 2nd Amendment before
he was for the 2nd Amendment, was it was before -- he was before the social
programs from the standpoint of -- he was far -- standing up for Roe versus
Wade before he was against versus -- Roe versus Wade. He was for Race to
the Top. He`s for "Obama care," and now he`s against it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: David Corn, I`ve never counted so many brain freezes in one
sentence!

CORN: Please make it stop, Chris!

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: Please! We saw it last night. He`s making George W. Bush look
like the most articulate statesman from Texas ever! But as bad as that
response was, you know, he obviously had prepared for that line of attack,
and then couldn`t pull it off.

MATTHEWS: But remember when you can`t remember the capital of Florida
for a couple of seconds, you have to think a little bit. Here`s a guy
trying to remember what he just rehearsed for the show that night.

CORN: An index card. An index card it was on for him. But if you --
if we -- I don`t know if we`re going to get to it --

MATTHEWS: We`ll get to it.

CORN: -- the answer that he gave on Pakistan --

MATTHEWS: Oh, we`re going to (INAUDIBLE)

CORN: That was actually frightening because --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know what? We have the power to go to that right now.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s Fox News debate moderator Bret Baier asking Perry,
the governor of Texas, what he would do -- this is a tough question, I must
admit -- if he received the old 3:00 AM -- the call always comes at 3:00 AM
-- if Pakistan lost its nuclear weapons to the Taliban. Here`s part of
Perry`s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Just yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that
Haqqani has been involved with -- and that`s the terrorist group --
directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship
with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the
United States -- today, we don`t have those allies in that region that can
assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Sally, remember that beauty contestant a couple years ago
that started talking about South Africa, and then she was talking about
Iraq, and just thinking of all those things that were in her head, but
nothing logical. What has India got to do with stopping -- India`s a
nuclear power. Oh, that`s what we`re going to do. We`re going to get a
nuclear power in South Asia --

BRADSHAW: Wait, wait, wait!

MATTHEWS: -- to go over to the nuclear power in South Asia
(INAUDIBLE) worst -- our worst fear in history. Go ahead.

CORN: Here`s the challenge. And this is -- you know, certainly,
Governor Romney had a good night. Nobody can deny that. But Rick Perry
can take some solace in the fact that debates don`t nominate candidates.
They are a piece of the puzzle, and they`re an important piece of the
puzzle.

But I can tell you just speaking from someone who lives in Florida and
is actually a delegate to this straw ballot tomorrow, people in Florida,
unlike in Iowa and New Hampshire and even South Carolina, are much less
focused on this race at this point. It`s a huge --

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this, Sally. I agree they don`t
always decide elections. I think Senator Kerry won a couple bouts with
Bush last time around. But something has to be on the other side. Sure,
one guy could be shaper. Al Gore could be sharper than George W. and all
that. But in the end, you have to like the other guy more.

Was there something likable that offset Perry`s sort of inability to
speak?

CORN: Here`s -- well --

MATTHEWS: Was he likable last night? I didn`t think so.

CORN: I think there are people in Florida who are looking for a
candidate who is very direct and speaks the truth. And that is what
Governor Perry unsuccessfully attempted to exploit about Governor Romney,
were his perceived flip-flops on issues. And there`s still an audience for
that there.

The other thing you have to remember is that this is a very expensive
race. It`s a marathon, not a sprint. There are really three candidates,
the way I see it, who have the resources to compete in the long haul. And
to me, the long haul means through Florida, which is looking at a
relatively early primary now of late February.

MATTHEWS: OK --

BRADSHAW: I think Florida will be the deciding contest --

MATTHEWS: Who`s the third?

MATTHEWS: Perry, Romney, and Huntsman.

MATTHEWS: Really?

BRADSHAW: And Huntsman, interestingly enough, with respect to this
straw ballot, was the only candidate early on who committed to play. He
has a really strong team here. His wife is from Orlando. They have
invested resources. He may overperform. And so not only did Perry create
an opening for Romney with these Florida delegates, but he may have created
an opening for Huntsman and other candidates, as well.

MATTHEWS: Who wins the straw vote tomorrow? Do you think Romney or
somebody else?

BRADSHAW: I don`t know if Romney will win it, but Romney could finish
much stronger than people anticipated he would. He needs to finish second
because Romney has the longest relationship with these delegates. He`s not
new to this. He did campaign here very actively in 2008.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look at this. Speaking today at the CPAC
conference in Florida, Rick Perry tried some damage control from last
night. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: As conservatives, we know that values and vision matter. It`s
not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to
elect.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PERRY: We need to elect the candidate with the best record and the
best vision for this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there he is, reading his notes, of course, but there
he is. Will that point sell with anybody? Can you lose a debate badly and
say it didn`t matter?

CORN: No, you can`t say it didn`t matter. Sally`s right that a lot
of people won`t pay attention, but he`s had several outings now, and he
hasn`t --

MATTHEWS: He`s 0 for 3.

CORN: He`s 0 for 3. He hasn`t been impressive yet, which tells me
he`s not being serious. Debate prep is one of the most serious things a
candidate can do. And he seems to have a problem staying up past the first
hour of any debate. He trails off. Maybe he needs some iron supplements
or something.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. I wonder --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Bush had that problem, too.

CORN: But you notice how he said, It`s not who`s the most slick or
the smoothest, he didn`t use the word "smart." But if you look at his
answers last night, he didn`t come across as a guy with enough intellectual
heft to make hard decisions in the White House.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s a moment last night where Romney really stuck
it to Perry on statements on Social Security in Perry`s book, "Fed Up."
Here`s a portion of that exchange from the Fox News debate last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: It`s not the first time that Mitt`s been wrong on some issues
before. And the bottom line is, is we never said that we were going to
move this back to the states.

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s different
than what the governor put in his book just, what, six months ago. There`s
a Rick Perry out there that`s saying that -- almost a quote, it says that
the federal government shouldn`t be in the pension business, that it`s
unconstitutional -- unconstitutional -- and it should be returned to the
states. So you better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying
that. Now, my own --

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORN: That`s a good line.

MATTHEWS: You know, Sally, I was thinking the other day, as much as
Governor Romney, who served one term in Massachusetts, likes to say he`s a
business person, he has been running for office all the way back to when he
ran against Ted Kennedy, the late Ted Kennedy, back in 1994. He has been
losing or winning debates all that time. He has been a professional TV
debater, in many ways, going back to that governor`s race, the Senate race,
the presidential race last time. He has gotten better.

I don`t know whether he`s gotten more spontaneous or smarter, but he
is more skilled in that setting. Is that going to matter?

BRADSHAW: He`s an excellent debater, there`s no question. I was glad
to see him show some spontaneity. I mean, the truth about both of these
guys is that Rick Perry is smarter than people give him credit for and
Governor Romney is more approachable and human than people give him credit
for.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BRADSHAW: We try to take a two-hour debate and project everything
based on the performance of these candidates. And it`s probably a little
unfair to everybody. They`re both really interesting guys. It`s great to
be in Florida in the midst of this because, again, I think we are going to
be a deciding factor in this nomination.

MATTHEWS: You are. By the way, looking at that straw vote you have
tomorrow -- we looked at it. One of our producers checked it out. Back in
`80, you picked Reagan down there. He won the nomination, won the
election. In `88, you pushed Bush, Sr., Herbert Walker Bush. In `88, he
won the nomination. He won the election. In `96, you picked Robert Dole.
He won the nomination, lost the general in a very tough race, obviously, a
difficult one, against an incumbent president, President Clinton.

But it is a really good thing. I`m going to be watching that --
aren`t you going to be watching that?

CORN: Oh, sure.

MATTHEWS: And I think -- Sally, don`t you think that`s going to be
very important tomorrow, who does actually come out ahead in your straw
vote down there, with 3,500 delegates participating?

BRADSHAW: It is a leading indicator of the candidates` support down
here. And again, these are 3,500 delegates who were elected in 67 county
caucuses. And the number of delegates per county is based on the amount of
Republican registration. And these are the people who make the phone calls
and go the door to door and participate in the tele-town hall meetings. I
mean, they have a say in this.

And that`s, again, why it`s so interesting. We don`t know what`s
going to happen. I think we could have predicted that Perry would be the
front-runner prior to last night`s debate. I think it`s a little more
uncertain now.

CORN: I mean, I think Florida`s going to play a big role in the
nomination process. But it will be interesting who they pick, but it won`t
matter much because the race will roll on, and Rick Perry and Mitt Romney
will have lots of money. You know, they`ll be able to survive the marathon
--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Sally, you get to vote? Are you a delegate tomorrow? Will
you get to vote?

BRADSHAW: I am a delegate. I get to vote tomorrow.

CORN: Who are you voting for?

MATTHEWS: Who are you voting for?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, David has a question for her.

CORN: Who are you voting for?

BRADSHAW: I haven`t decided.

MATTHEWS: Undecided?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I do this for a living here. Where are you leaning right
now, as we go to -- we go -- live TV right now. Where are you leaning
right now on a Friday night?

BRADSHAW: I`m leaning toward Haley Barbour, who was my candidate
before --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But he`s not running.

BRADSHAW: I`m going to write in -- I`m going to write in Haley.

MATTHEWS: You`re hiding. You are hiding with Haley.

BRADSHAW: No, no.

MATTHEWS: I like him, too, but I don`t think he`s running. Anyway,
thank you so much. We`ll have you back, Sally Bradshaw, Republican
consultant.

CORN: She didn`t --

MATTHEWS: Call her undecided.

CORN: She didn`t say Rick Perry, though.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That is -- well, I`m not sure she was ever for Perry.

Anyway, coming up -- see, if you don`t tell us, I can make it up.
Anyway, Coming along, the other headline from last night`s debate wasn`t so
beautiful to watch. It was kind of ugly. It was the crowd reaction. The
audience became the story last night about gay soldier fighting in uniform
-- there he is -- booing somebody fighting for our country and risking his
life over there. Why won`t any of the candidates stand up against this
stuff even now? There`s lots of time. Nobody`s standing up against this
kind of stuff.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: There`s been a lot of talk about whether President Obama`s
losing support among Jewish voters, and a new Gallup poll finds that Jewish
support has declined since the 2008 election, but at a rate not altogether
different from that of Americans as a whole. Fifty-four percent of Jewish
voters right now say they approve the job the president`s doing -- that`s
now -- compared to 41 percent of voters overall. Look at that, 54 to 41.
That`s pretty healthy. But that`s down from a high of 83 percent approval
when President Obama took office. They were up to 83.

So while the numbers are down, Jewish voters continue to be far more
enthusiastic about President Obama than other voters.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, back to HARDBALL.

Rick Perry`s uneven performance may have been the biggest headline to
come out of last night`s debate, but it may not be the most enduring. For
the hard time in a row -- the third time in a row, Republican audiences out
there made news -- the audiences -- and not the kind you want.

Here`s the crowd last night reacting to a question from a gay soldier
over in Iraq. This guy`s on duty, on post. And watch what happens. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie
about who I was because I`m a gay soldier and I didn`t want to lose my job.
My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent
the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?

(BOOS)

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I would
say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.
The military`s job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.
We need to give the military, which is all volunteer, the ability to do so
in a way that is most efficient and protective of our men and women in
uniform.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SANTORUM: And I believe this undermines that ability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s the Republican Party coming out against sex
in the military. Anyway, the debates last night -- some of the audience
cheered executions -- remember that one, the previous debates, the one out
in the Reagan library -- and allowing the uninsured to die. That was in
the Tea Party debate. Well, this can`t help the image of a party looking
to win a national election, I wouldn`t think.

Alex Burns is with Politico and Chris Cillizza is managing editor of
Postpolitics.com and an MSNBC contributor. Thank you, gentleman, both, for
-- Alex, thanks for joining -- Alex, I want to hear what you think about
this.

This sort of raw stuff coming out of Republican audiences, anti-gay,
burn them, and just right off the bat, let`s execute hundreds of people,
really anti attitudes about people who don`t have health insurance, let
them die on the gurney, this instinctive sort of negativity and even hatred
of people who are in trouble and or are vulnerable doesn`t strike me as a
compassionate conservative commentary on the party.

ALEXANDER BURNS, POLITICO: Well, Chris, I think that you just sort of
used -- hit the nail right on the head with that term compassionate
conservative.

There`s an opening here for one of the candidates on the stage to be
the guy at the debate who says, you know what, let`s just take the
temperature down a couple degrees. Let`s enforce criminal laws. Let`s not
cheer for executions. You know, let`s get tough on health insurance.
Let`s not cheer for people who die because they don`t have it.

You know, there`s that space there for someone to sound like the
compassionate guy, the guy with heart. No one has sort of stepped up into
that role just yet.

MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I would add -- and Alex is
right. But I would add, the guy who looks presidential and sounds
presidential, right? You`re the president of the whole country.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: I know it`s a primary. In Democratic primaries, you run to
the left. In Republican primaries, you run to the right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who says all gay people are Democrats? Don`t they feel any
love at all or affection or acception of the people in their own political
ranks?

CILLIZZA: You know what it struck me as, Chris, honestly, when I was
watching it is that there`s no natural in this debate. There`s no natural
in this field.

And let me explain. If that happened with Bill Clinton or even Ronald
Reagan --

MATTHEWS: What would Bill have done?

CILLIZZA: -- they would have said, hey, you know what, this guy is in
there, he`s risking his life for us. They would have paused. Now, he
might have probably gotten to whatever point he wanted to get to, but he
would have paused, because he is naturally gifted at reading it and
understanding it and that matters.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re on to something.

Look, I want to go back to Alex and then you on that.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Here`s what you`re on to. Is there any natural leader who
can stand against the crowd in the Republican Party, or is it mob rule?

In other words, they have these raw emotions, fine, but usually
there`s a leader who stands up. They don`t have to be Edmund Burke -- who
stands up and says, now, let`s think that through again. This guy is
fighting for our country. You may not approve if you have an attitude
about his orientations or his political attitudes, but he`s fighting for
our country. Let`s have a hand of applause for everyone in our military.

That would be a chilling moment. Why doesn`t somebody -- and here`s
my hunch. It doesn`t work. Perry came out for having a heart for the
illegal immigrant`s kid who was brought into this country at the age of 3
and is trying to get into college in his state he`s living in. How about
some heart?

BURNS: He got booed, Chris.

MATTHEWS: They boo him.

BURNS: Got booed.

MATTHEWS: So, is it possible, Alex, that you can`t stand against this
mob rule right now on the right, Tea Party crowd? You can`t do it?

BURNS: Well, I think that that answer that you were mentioning from
Rick Perry actually did the Texas governor an awful lot of damage, and not
necessarily because he tried to be compassionate in a party that`s sort of
hostile to compassion, but because he sort of questioned the motives of
people who disagree with him on immigration.

And so I think that that could have been a moment for him, where he
tries to take kind of the George W. Bush line on immigration, that, you
know, that if you`re going to walk 200 miles through the desert for a job,
I want you in my country.

But he didn`t quite pull it off. And I think that goes to the other
Chris` point that there`s not a natural in this election, there`s not a guy
who in that split second --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, but even McCain, who wasn`t a brilliant politician,
McCain stood up against calling President Obama a Muslim --

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Chris, this is the back and forth. If you look at polling,
Republican voters say, we want someone who can win and who can lead, not
just someone who agrees with us.

But that`s in theory. In practice, all of these guys -- and I would
say Romney is the least like this -- look, Romney -- you have heard Mitt
Romney say Arne Duncan did some good things. Praising anyone in the Obama
administration is not good. So he`s willing to go as close as you can go,
and remember last night, provoked about did he think the Obama
administration was a socialist, he didn`t answer.

MATTHEWS: So he`s not willing to get in the barrel and do what they
want him to. Like, for example, he will not say -- he will not say he`s a
socialist. He will not say, I, Mitt Romney, am a Tea Partier either. He`s
very careful not to ruin himself for the general.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here he is. Let`s listen to Rick Perry, however, given a
chance, receiving a round of boos for defending his position on educational
opportunities in Texas for those children, get this, of illegal immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you say that we
should not educate children who have come into our state for no other
reason than they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don`t
think you have a heart.

This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it
greatly.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Senator Santorum --

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Now, you heard that, Alex. It began as some whoops of
success for him, because there`s obviously his supporters there, but then
you heard that slow, delayed, mean roar of disapproval.

Frank Luntz, who was doing their focus group afterwards, said that was
the least popular thing said in that focus group the entire evening,
talking about heart. He said, the conservatives are offended when you
suggest they don`t have a heart.

BURNS: Well, I think for the first two-thirds of that answer, Rick
Perry was on to something, talking about sort of being compassionate
towards the children of undocumented immigrants.

John McCain`s answer was sort of the textbook answer on this, that,
look, we can disagree around the policy, but we all have to recognize that
these people we`re talking about are all God`s children. But that`s not
where Rick Perry went. He went and said that a position that most people
in the Republican Party hold is heartless.

MATTHEWS: Yes, because, well, they did make a very good point. Now,
I will tell you, I understand completely why he`s compassionate towards the
children of people coming here, look, compassionate toward anybody. Texas
state, in-state tuition saves you $22,000 a year, as we pointed out last
night.

Someone`s from Oklahoma, they don`t get that, but somebody here from
Mexico does get that. But, yet, you look at it another way, they`re living
in the state, they`re a resident of the state, and he`s looking out for
them.

CILLIZZA: Here`s the deal, Chris, to Alex`s point. This goes to that
there`s no natural in this debate. What do you do in a debate where you
know the people you`re talking to disagree with you?

MATTHEWS: You mean a leader?

CILLIZZA: You just start from a point --

MATTHEWS: A natural`s another word for a leader.

CILLIZZA: You start from a point of agreement and then you go to
where you disagree. You can say, we can all agree on fill in the blank.
You don`t start with the, if you disagree with me, you`re wrong. And
that`s -- Perry -- look, Romney`s --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s what Clinton had in the Democratic Party.

CILLIZZA: And Mike Huckabee -- look at Mike -- imagine Mike Huckabee
answering that question.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You ought to write a book on that. It`s called "Natural
Authority." Nobody has a natural authority.

CILLIZZA: It matters.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

It`s great having you on, Alex Burns. Please come back.

BURNS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Cillizza, one of the young geniuses I do read often --
maybe not geniuses, but smart.

CILLIZZA: I will take it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next: Michele Bachmann says Americans should be allowed
to keep every dollar there -- and catch this -- no payment for government.
This is like that old Roosevelt thing, that cartoon, that joke he said, it
won`t cost you anything if you vote for me. Everybody is free. The war in
Iraq is free. The war in Afghanistan is free. That fence I wanted, my
salary`s free.

How far is she going? Who`s going to pay her paycheck if we don`t pay
taxes? Stick around. She belongs there, the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

A great "Sideshow" tonight. First, it wasn`t all tense at last
night`s GOP debate, as candidates sparred back and forth with each other.
New to the debate scene was candidate Gary Johnson of New Mexico. He tried
to inspire some laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY JOHNSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My next-door neighbor`s two
dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he was playing to the right crowd with that one.
Only problem, the joke was vaguely familiar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: My dogs have created more
shovel-ready work than Obama has.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow, almost verbatim.

But don`t jump to conclusions. Rush may have done some borrowing
himself. Check out this photo from a Tea Party way back in 2009. You have
got to give credit where credit`s due. Wow.

And more from the debate front. Here`s a new take on reality. At one
point, candidates were asked about taxes. Now, let`s hear the inimitable
Michele Bachmann`s one-of-a-kind take on tax policy. Now, she`s running
for president. Here she goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you
earned every dollar. You should get to keep every dollar that you earn.
That`s your money. That`s not the government`s money.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BACHMANN: That`s the whole point. Barack Obama seems to think that
when we earn money, it belongs to him and we`re lucky just to keep a little
bit of it. I don`t think that at all. I think when people make money,
it`s their money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s right. We shouldn`t have any taxes. So, one, no
one pays a dime.

Well, to be fair to Bachmann, I mean, very fair, take a few steps
back, saying that she did need -- we do need to make some contributions to
fund the government over time, but not before as a country we have a change
of mind-set. Then we have to pay taxes -- 200-proof pandering on display
here.

Anyway, perhaps it`s these types of comments and blanket statements
that led to tonight`s "Big Number." A survey by the Huffington Post asked
a group of Republican political activists, officeholders and party leaders,
in the early caucus and primary states to give one word for what they think
of Bachmann.

There they are, the results displayed in this word cloud, with the
biggest words being the most common. Look at those words: "crazy, scary,
inexperienced" -- not good news for Bachmann. So what portion of the
responses fell on the negative side? This is among Republicans -- 48
percent against Bachmann, and that`s coming from her own party, trouble in
River City. That`s tonight`s "Big Number."

Up next: Islamabad, we have a problem. The chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff accuses the Pakistani government of supporting militants
who attacked our embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. How do we respond to that
one?

That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with
your CNBC "Market Wrap."

A somewhat positive end to an ugly, ugly week. The Dow added 37
points in relatively thin trading. The S&P was up six. The Nasdaq jumped
27. It was the Dow`s worst week since October of 2008, with relentless
uncertainty in Europe and some pretty grim talk from the Fed here at home.

We`re looking at a commodity meltdown as well. Gold had its worst
week since 1983. And how about silver prices plunging an incredible 26
percent this week? As you might imagine, mining stocks took a beating on
concerns about slowing demand. Banks bounced back a bit from yesterday`s
sell-off, but the sector`s still down almost 30 percent this week.

In better news, McDonald`s gained after bumping its dividends almost
15 percent to 70 cents a share. And it looks like a run by Nike`s got
legs. Strong earnings again last quarter means the athletic apparel-maker
has not posted a quarterly loss since 2002.

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

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

How troubled has our relationship with Pakistan become? Yesterday,
Admiral Mike Mullen, the country`s top military official, told a Senate
Armed Services Committee hearing that Pakistan`s intelligence service, the
ISI, was directly linked to Pakistani militants that target Americans in
neighboring Pakistan -- neighboring Afghanistan.

In particular, he said the Haqqani Network, one of America`s fiercest
enemies in Afghanistan, acted as -- quote -- "a veritable arm of Pakistan`s
intelligence service." Those were his words. He said, Pakistan helped the
grew carry out several attacks, including the intense assault on the U.S.
Embassy in Kabul just last week.

Well, let`s listen to Admiral Mullen`s testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: In choosing to use
violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan,
and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the
prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan`s opportunity to be a
respected nation with legitimate regional influence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, keep in mind, the U.S. gives Pakistan more than $2
billion a year in security assistance. To put it mildly, it`s been an
extremely complicated relationship.

Ali Soufan is a former FBI special agent and the author of "The Black
Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda." We will
also be talking about that, because he`s got an incredible story to tell
about torture, even if it`s one that Dick Cheney won`t like very much.

Ali Soufan, Mr. Soufan, let`s get to this whole question. When we got
attacked by 9/11 -- on 9/11 by al Qaeda, the United States government under
George W. Bush had to make a decision: How can we find an ally in that
region? So we decided we could turn Pakistan under Musharraf to our side.
We got at least their formal support in the war against al Qaeda in
Afghanistan. They were helpful to us in attacking Afghanistan and
overthrowing the Taliban, at least pursuing al Qaeda into -- well, they
escaped. Certainly, bin Laden escaped.

But here`s the problem. They never were loving us. They never did
like us, the Pakistan government, and the ISI was filled with people who
are very Islamist -- or Islamic -- in their political attitudes.

Do we ever have any confidence, will we ever have confidence in the
government of Pakistan?

ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI INTERROGATOR: Well, absolutely.

At the very beginning, we needed Pakistan in order to attack
Afghanistan. This is probably the only -- one of the only ways we had to
get into Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: Right.

SOUFAN: And the ISI, at the time -- we have to remember that the
ISI`s connection with the jihadi types go back to early `80s, when the ISI
was entrusted to funnel the money, to funnel the support and to facilitate
the training for the mujahideen against the Soviets. And that relationship
continues.

And many people in Pakistan and among the ISI believe that the non-
state actor types, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani Network, the Taliban,
can be an important card in establishing a strategic depth for Pakistan in
Central Asia and in Afghanistan. Now, this is one of the biggest --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So they`re allied -- so they`re allied with the -- so
they`re allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan, but they fight the Taliban
in Pakistan?

SOUFAN: Well, they are basically the creators. The ISI created the
Taliban in Afghanistan, and they have a problem in the Taliban -- with the
Taliban -- in the Taliban network in Pakistan. However, they are not going
-- they are not willing to make Afghanistan a more secure place for us, or
for anyone else. They are only willing to make it a secure place for their
national interests and for the ISI`s national interests, in a way.

You know, we have to remember that in countries, we don`t have
friends, we have national interests. And, unfortunately, our national
interests and the Afghani and the Pakistani national interests are not
towards the same target.

MATTHEWS: Who`s in power in Pakistan? Is it the army or Zardari`s
civilian government?

SOUFAN: I mean, I think there`s a lot of fractions in Pakistan today.
You have fractions, even within the ISI. And we can see that firsthand,
with what`s happening in Afghanistan.

First of all, just a few days ago, we had the assassination of
Rabbani, Rabbani is a Tajik leader that was leading the peace process in
Afghanistan. Also, you know, there was the attack on our embassy. It
shows that there`s fractions in the -- in the Pakistani government, and
even fraction in Taliban, that do not see eye-to-eye with the civilian
government in Pakistan.

MATTHEWS: What should we do with an ISI, an intelligence operation in
Islamabad, that seems to be, according to Mike Mullen, our very
distinguished and incredible chairman of the Joint Chiefs. If they`re
aiding the attacks on our soldiers and our allies in Kabul and Afghanistan,
what do we do with that?

SOUFAN: Well, this is something dangerous. And this is something has
been going on for a long period of time. Unfortunately, we didn`t do
anything before, and it seems that the situation came to a point of no
return. Remember that just a few months ago, we had a trial here in
Chicago, and it was of an American citizen who worked with the ISI to do
surveillance prior to the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

We basically proved in a court of law here in the United States that
elements in the ISI were directly connected. I think what Admiral Mullen
is doing is something good at this point. I think we need to call Pakistan
and call the ISI and what they are doing and, you know, tell them that this
is not acceptable.

MATTHEWS: You know, OK, I`ve got to move ahead of you.

The American people are most concerned, like all countries are, with
our self-interest. Our self-interest is at least concerned, to put it
lightly, about the possibility that the Pakistan nuclear arsenal falls into
the hands of people directly aimed at us, for example, the Taliban.

What can we do to best ensure, in a dangerous situation, that those
arms will not fall in the hands of terrorists or friends of terrorists?

SOUFAN: I would like to believe that there are elements in the army,
in the military, and elements in the ISI probably working with us, and I
would like to believe, at least that we have that situation under control,
and we have safeguards in place to prevent this kind of --

MATTHEWS: Do we?

SOUFAN: I would love to believe that. At least, we`ve been told that
we do that, we have that.

MATTHEWS: Well, we hope we do, too. Thank you very much, Ali Soufan,
for coming on HARDBALL, very much.

The name of the book is "The Black Banners." That`s your book. The
book is called "Black Banners" -- and thank you for coming on.

Up next: today in the United Nations, the Palestinians went ahead with
their bid for sovereignty, for full nationhood, over U.S. and Israeli
objections, and submitted their application as a U.N. member state.

We`re going to talk to the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren about what
the United States should be doing here, what Israel`s trying to do.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Former President Bill Clinton and House Speaker John
Boehner making good on their promise to finish that Flight 93 memorial up
in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Clinton, Boehner, and former President
George W. Bush, who were all there that day we honored that 9/11 moment
have released a public service announcement to help raise funds to complete
that memorial. That memorial still needs to raise $10 million to complete
it. If you want to donate, just go to honorflight93.org.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, the news today, that was
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the U.N. today. There he is, before
the general assembly, getting huge applause as he waved the Palestinian`s
formal application for membership as a U.N. member, in other words, a
country in the world.

Joining me right now is Israeli ambassador to the United Nations -- to
the United States, rather, Michael Oren.

Michael, thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for coming on. You`re a well-
known figure and respected figure in this city of Washington. We all know
you.

And I have to tell you, this is a very difficult time for America, for
my country, for our country. This country now, our country looks like it`s
committed. Is that how you see it, to be the lone permanent member of the
U.N. Security Council, rather, that`s going to stand with Israel in
opposing statehood now for the Palestinians -- is that the way it looks?

MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Good evening,
Chris. Good to be here.

Listen, we don`t know right now. There`s a lot of intense diplomacy
going on in the U.N., but the fact of the matter is, yes, the United States
is committed to blocking a process that will lead to the creation of a
Palestinian state that, as President Obama said, will actually not lead to
a real state. It won`t contribute to peace. It will contribute to the
opposite of peace.

The creation of a Palestinian state, which is something that we
support, we want to be the first to greet the Palestinian state in the
United Nations and other international bodies, but that state has to come
about as the product of peace negotiations, not as an impediment to peace
negotiations. As President Obama has said, there`s no shortcut to reaching
peace.

MATTHEWS: Why does nobody agree with you?

(CROSSTALK)

OREN: -- work out our differences.

MATTHEWS: Look, you`ve got some friends in the world who don`t hate
Israel. I don`t think the British government hates Israel. The French
government is pretty pro-Arab over the years, they sent they tend to play
ball with the Arab at the time.

I`m surprised that the British being a dead card here for you. What
happened in Britain? Why aren`t they with us on the Israeli side of this
very tricky and difficult situation?

OREN: Again, we don`t know they`re not with us. We have a close
relationship with Great Britain. We`re in a close communication with
British leaders. And we hope that they`ll see, as President Obama has
seen, as Secretary of State Clinton has seen, that the Palestinian move to
get unilaterally declared, U.N.-recognized statehood will not contribute to
peace.

And we believe that some countries that were disposed to support that
Palestinian initiative have now seen it through and have begun to think
about the long-term ramifications, which could be extremely destabilizing,
not just for the Palestinians and risking, losing what they have achieved
over the years, but for other countries in the region as well.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Mahmoud Abbas. Do you think he`s a
man who wants peace with Israel? Does he want a two-state solution based
on the respect for the sovereignty of Israel?

OREN: We hope so. We hope so. But in an article he published
recently in "New York Times," he said that he was going to create this
Palestinian state, not to advance the peace process, but to attack Israel
more vigorously in various international bodies, to delegitimize us, to
sanction us. He actually wrote that.

So, we got to take him at his word. We hope that he changes his mind.
We hope he comes back to the negotiating table. Prime minister Netanyahu
addressed the General Assembly today and he literally held out his hand to
Mahmoud Abbas and said let`s not wait a week or even a day, let`s meet
today in the U.N. building, because we`re both in the building and let`s
start working out these difficult issues that we have to work out in order
to achieve peace.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re an intellectual and a writer, as well as a
diplomat now. You are obviously the delegate from Bibi Netanyahu`s Likud
bloc government. And I understand your politics.

But let me ask about your vision. Do you have optimism -- as a friend
of the United States I ask this question, too -- do you have optimism that
somewhere in your lifetime, say, 10 years or so, we are going to see two
people living, maybe they`re divorced, but living peacefully next to each
other in an amicable situation, in the Holy Land?

OREN: I`m not just a person who`s written about history, Chris. I`ve
spent about 30 years in the Israeli armed forces. I`ve had now three kids
in the Israeli army. One is still serving in the Israeli army today.

I have to have that hope. I have to have the hope that my children,
my grandchildren won`t have to go through some of the very tough
experiences that I went to, and that someday Palestinian children will not
have to go through difficult experiences as well, and we can look forward
to a better future.

This is what motivates all of us who are involved in the peace
process, the sense that there is a possibility of achieving that historic
peace, and we`re committed to it.

MATTHEWS: What`s the big block, between now and real statehood the
right way for the Palestinians?

OREN: There`s one very silly, simple block -- sometimes it seems
insurmountable. But it means they just simply have to sit down with us.
We`ve been waiting for 2 1/2 years to do that. We`ve made a number of
efforts to facilitate their return to the negotiating table. Netanyahu
froze settlement building for 10 months. It was an unprecedented move.
He`s removed hundreds of checkpoints and road blocks in the West Bank to
build peace from the bottom-up, the economic type of peace.

We hope that they`ll come back. It seems simple enough, but the
Palestinians seem to be having a hard time of making that simple move.

MATTHEWS: Is Netanyahu, your prime minister, isn`t he raising the bar
a bit by saying the Palestinians must not only accept Israel as a state, a
fellow state in the United Nations, but they have to accept its basic
Jewish nature? Is that -- isn`t that new? Isn`t that putting something
new in the debate, in the argument?

OREN: Actually not. It was first raised by previous prime ministers.
The Jewish state is a way that the Palestinians tell us that the peace is
permanent, there`s an end of claims, an end of conflict. There are
Palestinian refugees who would be resettled in the Palestinian state so
that Israel would remain a Jewish state.

MATTHEWS: I understand that argument. I understand that argument.

OREN: It`s actually extremely important. It goes to the heart of the
conflict. In 1947, the U.N. voted to create a two-state solutions, an Arab
state and a Jewish state. The Arabs rejected it because they wouldn`t
accept the Jewish state. It`s opportunity now.

MATTHEWS: You know it better than me, but I do know some of it.

Thank you so much, Ambassador Michael Oren, of the state of Israel,
still fighting, I think, for peace down the road, someday.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with the 50th anniversary of something
really great about this country, the Peace Corps.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Peace Corps.

In the fall of 1951, a young U.S. congressman went on "Meet the Press"
and told about a recent trip he had made overseas. He told with dismay how
disappointed he was with people representing America in the Foreign
Service. He said, he talked to college audiences and found lots of young
people who would love to go out in the world and represent the United
States, especially in third-world countries. He said he wanted well-
rounded young men and women like them out there, a better picture of
America presented in the world.

Well, nine years later, and the last week of the presidential
campaign, that same man, John F. Kennedy, spoke with his war buddy from
World War II, Red Fay, about how things were going. He was worried about
how the campaign was ending. He saw President Eisenhower jumping in on
behalf of Vice President Nixon, drawing enormous crowds and saw the polls
heading Nixon`s way.

Then, he turned to a happier subject. He told his war buddy, Red Fay,
with whom he had shared the dangers of the South Pacific about the speech
he was about to give at the Cow Palace in San Francisco that night, about
something he hoped would prevent more wars. He talked about young people
going off to foreign lands to work for peaceful economic development, not
to fight. He was so happy with that prospect.

Well, this weekend, many who served in the Peace Corps over these 50
years are coming home to Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of
the legislation establishing it. It`s a good time to remember what the
Peace Corps is doing for this country and, of course, for the people of the
countries around the world where the volunteers serve.

Well, during the 2000 election, President Obama campaigned on doubling
the size of the Peace Corps. Well, today, there`s a long list, a long
waiting list of 20 new countries requesting Peace Corps programs. But the
entire annual budget of the Peace Corps right now is less than the budget
of the Army marching bands. We spend more in five hours in Iraq than we do
in supporting the 8,700 Peace Corps volunteers around the world for a year.

Well, this is one of a few agencies, by the way, Democrats and
Republicans both vote in favor of back 30 years ago. In fact, when his
budget people were trying to zero out the Peace Corps, President Reagan
said, don`t cut the Peace Corps, it`s the only thing I get thanked for, and
got thanked for last week -- and he was referring to a prime minister of a
small developing island nation.

Well, at one time, the Peace Corps was JFK`s bold experiment. After
50 years, we can safely say that the experiment worked, leading a global
legacy of goodwill. Its volunteers are America`s best grassroots
ambassadors for a very small price tag.

Well, the Peace Corps needs President Obama right now, needs his
serious attention more than ever. It would be great if President Obama
would get behind the Peace Corps with great enthusiasm, increase its
strength -- 10,000 volunteers would be good -- and become its number one
recruiter out there. He`s just the one to do it.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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