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updated 9/28/2011 9:52:15 AM ET 2011-09-28T13:52:15

Guests: John Heilemann, Steve Schmidt, Stephen Moore, Willie Brown, Ron
Christie, Christina Bellantoni, Maggie Haberman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Birthers and other bad stuff.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Leading off tonight: Obama derangement syndrome. Are you aware that
President Obama`s leading a massive conspiracy to destroy the 2nd
Amendment? Or that long-form birth certificate that he released is a fake?
Or that he`s the anti-Christ? Richard Hofstadter once wrote a story in
"Harper`s" magazine called "The Paranoid Style of American Politics."
Nearly 50 years later, it`s still going strong.

Plus: He insists he`s not interested, but if Chris Christie of New Jersey
really doesn`t want to run for president, why is he giving a speech out in
California tonight at the Reagan library on American exceptionalism? The
latest on the case of "Will he or won`t he" just keeps going.

Also, try to get your head around this one. Some employers are posting
"help wanted" ads that say no unemployed candidates will be considered.
Get that? No unemployed will be considered for employment. By the way,
didn`t Governor Romney say corporations are people?

And the inartful dodger, Mitt Romney meeting with Donald Trump, but having
his aides play scarecrow so the media couldn`t get any pictures of him
meeting with the Trumpster. It`s the classic case again of Romney trying
to have it both ways.

Finally, Republican voters don`t seem to like any of their candidates. Jon
Stewart has a theory. Maybe the problem isn`t the candidates, maybe it`s
the Republican voters.

We start with what we call the "Obama derangement syndrome," for lack of a
better term. Ron Christie is a Republican strategist who is not deranged.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He worked for Vice President Dick Cheney. I`ll let that verdict
not stand. And Willie Brown is the former mayor of San Francisco, the
former speaker of the house of California.

By the way, gentlemen, in a "New York Times" opinion piece entitled "Why
the anti-Christ matters in politics," history professor Matthew Avery
Sutton wrote, quote, "For some evangelicals, President Obama is troubling.
The specious theories about his place of birth, his international
tendencies, his measured support for Israel, and his Nobel Peace Prize fit
their long-held expectations about the anti-Christ. Millions of voters,
like their Depression-era predecessors, fear that the time is short. The
sentiment that Mr. Obama is preparing the United States, as President
Roosevelt did, for the anti-Christ global coalition is likely to grow.
Barring the Rapture, Mrs. Bachmann or Mr. Perry could well ride the
apocalyptic anti-statism of conservative Christians into the Oval Office."

I`ll tell you, it`s hard to make what -- to say this, Ron Christie, but go
ahead. By the way, here`s a heckler last night, just to prove "The Times"
isn`t off base. President Obama was heckled in Los Angeles out on the
strip at that club out there where he was speaking in Los Angeles. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Christian God is the one and only true living God,
the creator of heaven and the universe! Jesus Christ is God! Jesus Christ
is God! Jesus Christ is God! Jesus Christ is God!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s kind of a benign look, Ron Christie, but I don`t
what a guy`s supposed to say when people are screaming that kind of
religious zealotry at you when you`re giving a secular fund-raiser.

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Chris, I just think that`s
entirely disrespectful. Obviously, I have certain policy disagreements
with the president of the United States, and rightfully so. But for people
to heckle the president like that or people to suggest that he`s the anti-
Christ or he was born in a foreign country, I just think that`s nuts. We
need to focus our disagreements on policy.

You know, I had the opportunity -- I`m spending the month -- or the year up
here at Harvard University as a fellow at their Institute of Politics, and
I had a chance to talk to David Axelrod last night, and we agreed. We can
respectfully disagree with individuals based on their politics, but you
should never go after people personally because that`s why people around
the United States hold politicians in such low disregard. And people who
engage in this behavior are equally reprehensible.

MATTHEWS: Mayor Brown, we`re going to go through a long list of these
crazy accusations of the president here at the beginning of the program
tonight because they are unique. It`s not just people calling him the
anti-Christ. There`s people who said he was born in some other country.
We`re going to get to accusations that just go across the board.

What is it about Obama that inspires this kind of weird, zealous hatred?

WILLIE BROWN (D), FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: Well, I think you`d have to
start with the fact that he is unusual in that he is an African-American.
That is an unusual thing for this country. We`ve been looking forward, as
African-Americans, to this for a very long time, but we know that there`s a
residual amount of racism in this country. It`s there. It`s going to be
there for a long time. And it expresses itself in many, many ways.

And this is not playing the race card, to justify what I am saying. Let me
also tell you that there are real disagreements by some people in this
country with Barack Obama on the questions of whether or not he is too
liberal. That`s always a problem for lots of people.

And all of these crazy statements really come from people not listening to
nor being led by individuals who are saying, Be rational, be direct, and be
what we ought to be, and that`s democratic.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I want to be careful about the race card, as you
do, and I do think, playing the devil`s advocate, Mr. Mayor, nobody ever
accused somebody like you, who is really a mainstream Democratic politician
-- the worst thing they`d say about you is you`re a smart pal. You know, I
-- I don`t know. Did you have to face these kinds of strange accusations
when you were speaker in California in the assembly or when you were mayor
of San Francisco?

BROWN: No. Be clear. All of this is new. It has come in the new
century, Chris. In the years in which I served as speaker -- remember, I
was elected with more -- than half of the people who elected me were
Republicans, who voted for me.

MATTHEWS: I remember.

BROWN: Democrats were in the minority, that gave me the job. Secondly,
you had a Republican Party led by really talented Republicans who believed
in the government as we see it. Whether it was Pete Wilson, whether it was
even Richard Nixon, these are people who did have some sense that the
government was for all the people, not just Republicans.

And the Tea Party types literally didn`t exist. They just didn`t surface
anywhere. Nobody gave them any respect.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

BROWN: However, they started their life from the whole business of people
saying too much Affirmative Action, there should be no Affirmative Action,
no set-asides. That crowd began to surface saying, preferential treatment
for unqualified people. Suddenly, you began to get an environment where it
was OK to be racist.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s something -- another strain of the crazy far right.
Here`s the National Rifle Association`s Wayne Lapierre -- and I`ve known
this guy a long time. I`m astounded by this new accusation that the
president is leading some conspiracy. Anyway, here he is, Wayne Lapierre,
head of the NPR -- not National Public Radio, National Rifle Association,
at the conservative conference if Florida last week. Let`s listen to Wayne
Lapierre of the National Rifle Association.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The president will offer the
2nd Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he`s actually
been good for the 2nd Amendment. But it`s a big, fat, stinking lie! It`s
all part -- it`s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters
and hide his true intentions to destroy the 2nd Amendment in our country!

Before the president was even sworn into office, they met and they hatched
a conspiracy of public deception to try to guarantee his reelection in
2012.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I got to tell you, again, Ron, this -- the language,
"lie," "conspiracy" -- it`s almost like, I don`t know, Lincoln talking
about what was going on in the Civil War below the Mason-Dixon line. I
mean, this is Civil War talk about a president of the United States!

CHRISTIE: Oh, come on, Chris. Look --

MATTHEWS: Well, yes! Look at what he just said.

CHRISTIE: Hey, look -- look, I can play -- I can play hardball on this, as
well. I don`t -- I don`t agree with --

MATTHEWS: "Big, fat, stinking lie."

CHRISTIE: -- what Wayne -- I don`t agree with what he had to say, but to
suggest that somehow that Wayne Lapierre is somehow some fringe element --
let us not forget that the president of the United States has said about
his own constituencies, If they bring a knife to a fight, let`s bring a
gun. This is the same president of the United States who said that the
Republicans should ride in the back of the bus.

MATTHEWS: What?

CHRISTIE: This is the same president of the United States who was
introduced on stage by Jimmy Hoffa, who said, Mr. President, we are your
army, let`s take them out.

So I have a big problem with somehow Wayne Lapierre saying something that I
don`t agree with and trying to raise money, but the president of the United
States, out of his own mouth and taking the same podium from Mr. Hoffa
said, Oh, Mr. President, we`re your army, we`re going to take them out, is
reprehensible.

But yet and still, the cry about Mr. Obama allowing Democrats and union
members to say bad things about the Republicans and the Americans he was
elected to serve --

MATTHEWS: OK --

CHRISTIE: -- that`s an entirely different standard, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I can`t help you -- I can`t help you if you don`t see the
difference. Let me go to Mayor Brown. Here he is, the -- they`re calling
the president guilty of a "big, fat, stinking lie" -- that`s pretty direct
-- accusing him of hatching a conspiracy to undermine the constitutional
protection to bear arms.

What is this about? Why do they have to -- are they trying to raise money?
Do they really believe this stuff? What`s going on at the National Rifle
Association here?

BROWN: Let me assure you that Barack Obama, as the president of these
United States, obviously finds what was said quite disgusting. But he also
knows it cannot be translated into a majority that would elect somebody
that would advocate what that man was saying, would agree with what he was
saying and would believe what he was saying.

And so in a real sense, from a Democratic standpoint, let people like that
keep on talking. They`re not discussing whether or not I`m going to have a
job. They`re not discussing whether or not I`m going to be able to get a
loan to build whatever I want to build --

MATTHEWS: Right.

BROWN: -- or to invest in whatever I want to invest. They`re not talking
about real things. They`re not talking about, how do you end that war,
those two wars that are over there? They`re not talking about any of those
things. They`re talking nonsense, and the public is not following that
nonsense.

After all, Barack Obama`s goal is to get all those young people that were
so enthusiastic about his candidacy in 2008 -- he`s got to get them back
in. He`s got to make the African-Americans as proud as they were of him.
And he`s got to recapture the magic of being able to communicate with the
public press in this country and through the public press. He is otherwise
going to be in trouble.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Hold on here for a second, Ron. No, Ron, let`s hold on. I want
you to respond to Michele Bachmann here. Here she is on Simon Conway`s WHO
radio show out in Iowa yesterday, speaking to callers. Here`s one of the
callers criticizing President Obama, and listen for Bachmann`s reaction.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think anyway who`s anyone has to just put the hammer
down, stare at him with razor wire in their eyes, in their voice, and make
a joke out of the guy because he`s blowing up our country! And I`m telling
you, the guy is a walking nightmare! I would vote for Charles Manson
before this guy! But I`m pulling for you big-time, all the way, Michele.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, thank you for
saying that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think of that, Ron Christie, "I`d vote for
Charles Manson rather than that guy." And this is what goes on in the
right now. Somebody attacks a gay soldier. Nobody defends them. Somebody
says we`re going to electrocute 300 people, that`s fine, that`s applauded.
It just seems like there`s a pretty angry voice out there on the far right,
Ron Christie. I don`t know if you share it, but you seem to be defending
it.

CHRISTIE: Chris, you`ve known me for a lot of years. I don`t share any
sort of dissension (ph) when people use that sort of that rhetoric. But
it`s interesting that you point out this is the far right. What Michele
Bachmann should have done is said, I deplore that comment, it`s
reprehensible, Manson`s a murderer --

MATTHEWS: But that`s one of her backers talking.

CHRISTIE: Well, Chris, you know, that`s one isolated individual. That
guy`s a nut. Bachmann should have said that. But what I find very
interesting -- and I challenge you on this, Chris -- the president took the
stage after Hoffman (SIC) said -- Jimmy Hoffa said, Well, Mr. President,
we`re your army, we`re going to take out those guys. Then again, of
course, you have the president of the United States saying, Oh, if they
bring a knife, let`s bring a gun to the fight. This is a president who
said that he was --

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a line from --

CHRISTIE: -- going to inject new --

MATTHEWS: That`s a line from a movie.

CHRISTIE: It`s not a line --

MATTHEWS: That`s a movie line.

CHRISTIE: -- from a movie! That`s President --

MATTHEWS: It`s Jimmy the cop played by Sean Connery.

CHRISTIE: That is Barack Obama! Oh, Chris --

MATTHEWS: He was using a movie line from Chicago.

CHRISTIE: -- give me a break! Give me a break!

MATTHEWS: Well, go to the movies once in a while!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s a line right from a movie character.

CHRISTIE: So it appears if a liberal Democrat --

MATTHEWS: No, it`s not.

CHRISTIE: -- does that, oh, it`s a movie line. Oh, it`s excusable.

MATTHEWS: It was "The Untouchables." But if it`s a Republican individual
who doesn`t deplore it or if it`s one crank caller --

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK.

CHRISTIE: -- then suddenly, they speak for all conservatives. Totally
disagree with that.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I guess -- I think the president of the United States
has been even-tempered. That`s where I disagree with you. And I think
he`s put up with crazy talk.

Let me go back to this birth thing. Do you know, Mayor Brown, that one in
five Americans today still won`t say the president of the United States was
born here?

BROWN: I heard that.

MATTHEWS: There`s still a chunk of people out there. We just checked the
numbers. This is recent numbers. You know, they`re not as bad as they
were before the president had to go out and produce his documents, like
he`s coming in from Mexico, he`s got to show papers now for these people.
But when he did go through the humiliating step of having to show his birth
certificate to these crazies, even after doing that, they remained crazy.
Nineteen percent are not ready to say he`s one of us.

BROWN: Well, I`ve got to tell you, there will be an opportunity for Barack
Obama to jam that concept down the throats of anybody who is opposing him.
Just think about it. If you`ve got to start out -- and you`re Christie of
New Jersey, and you`ve got to start out by saying, I disagree with the
person who`s questioning whether or not Barack Obama is an American,
whether or not he`s one of us, that`s good stuff for Barack Obama.

I hope those nuts continue out there because it`ll make it impossible for
Barack Obama to be defeated --

MATTHEWS: OK --

BROWN: -- even though his numbers are fairly low.

MATTHEWS: OK. Ron Christie --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: -- the fact of the matter is --

MATTHEWS: -- to respond to your number -- 19 percent of this country`s in
the crazy column. Your thoughts, Ron?

CHRISTIE: I can`t -- I can`t speak to that. If these people believe that
he wasn`t born in this country, that`s their issue. He`s our president.
He`s the president of the United States. He`s been an abject failure.

MATTHEWS: OK --

CHRISTIE: He`s failed to reduce the unemployment rate. He`s failed to
deal with black poverty. He`s failed to deal with the unemployment rate.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CHRISTIE: His policies are what is going to doom him for the next
election, not the color of his skin or certain fringe elements that don`t
speak for the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: The problem is that those fringe elements are all rooting
against him, as you are, so they`re in league with you. You got to explain
your --

CHRISTIE: No, they`re not in league with me, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: They are not in league with me.

MATTHEWS: You know what?

CHRISTIE: I do not believe people who say that. But they can oppose their
president because this is the United States and you can respectfully
disagree with people.

MATTHEWS: You know what I think? I think Mayor Brown`s right. I think
they`re going to drive up the vote for President Obama. Thank you, Ron
Christie, for coming on, as always. Thank you, Mayor Brown, wise man.

Coming up: Republicans are angry. So is a tough guy like Chris Christie.
Is he the right candidate to match their anger? He seems to be cranky,
like a lot of people are these days. Maybe he`s the one to run against the
president if you`re on that side.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Vice President Biden was on "The View" today, and he was
asked about the reaction -- his reaction from that crowd at the last
Republican debate, those people who booed a soldier serving in Iraq just
because he`s gay. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did have a visceral
response. And I`m not sure it`s because my son spent a year in Iraq and I
know my son and all the kids with him -- kids -- they`re grown men. I
don`t think they give a damn whether a guy firing a rifle to protect them
is gay or straight. I don`t think they care about that. And look, this
kid risked his life. This kid is there for a year. And I -- quite
frankly, I thought it was reprehensible.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": Right. And no one spoke up. That entire panel,
not one person said anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Vice President Biden is exactly right on that one, of
course.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the speculation continued today
about Chris Christie of New Jersey, whether he`ll reconsider running for
president as he prepares to deliver a speech tonight at the Reagan
presidential library out in Simi Valley.

But this hype about the New Jersey governor says as much about what they
don`t have in their current front-runners, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney,
doesn`t it? They don`t seem to be satisfied, the Republicans, with what
they got, and just what do they not see in them that`s causing them to beg
Christie to reconsider. That`s the key question.

Long-time Republican strategist Steve Schmidt ran John McCain`s
presidential campaign in 2008, and John Heilemann covers politics for "New
York" magazine. He co-authored "Game Change," and he`s writing another
one.

Let`s start with Steve Schmidt.

You`re on the inside of the Republican Party. Yesterday -- here he is,
Governor Tom Kean, the former very popular governor of Jersey -- told
"National Review" that Christie was thinking very seriously about running.
He went on to say -- quote -- "It`s real. He`s giving a lot of thought to
it. I think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks
ago."

Well, then today, Chris Christie`s brother Todd, a Republican fund-raiser,
told New Jersey press -- quote -- "I`m sure that he`s not going to run. If
he`s lying to me, I will be as stunned as I have ever been in my life."

Well, what is it? Is there a chance this big guy is going to get him in
the race? Because everybody seems to want him from, God, Karl Rove to
Barbara Bush is calling him and Kissinger is calling him. Everybody seems
to want him in.

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, we`re a
political party that believes in markets. And there`s clearly a market for
another candidate in the race, particularly when you look at the donor
class in the tri-state area, New York and New Jersey, a lot of interest in
Chris Christie getting into the race.

I don`t believe he`s going to run. I take his brother`s word for it. But
there is a huge opportunity for him if he decides to do it. And he will be
a formidable candidate for the nomination.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you answer a question. It goes up, it comes
down, it actually ends. Some people don`t stop talking.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`m very -- I`m serious. You know how to answer a question.
Some of our recent -- one of our recent guests didn`t know how to do that.

Let`s go -- let`s go to John Heilemann.

John, it looks to me like two weeks ago before Chris Christie -- or before
Rick Perry got the dunce cap put on his head, which sits firmly on it right
now, there was no talk of adding to this field, like Steve just said.
Everyone seemed content and satisfied with who was running. It`s changed
overnight.

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK": Well, Chris, I mean, it`s been the case for
most of the year that there`s been talk about other people getting in,
including Chris Christie, so this is not totally new.

It seemed like, when Perry got in, like that talk quieted down for a little
while, and there`s no question that the weakness of his performance in a
series of debates is what`s reignited this talk now.

When it comes to Christie, my reporting says that he has in fact, as Tom
Kean indicated in that quote, that he has been taking it much more
seriously in the last couple of weeks, that his -- that he is -- his
switch, to some extent -- nine months ago, he was saying things privately
to people like, I don`t think I want to run. I think in the last couple of
weeks, he has become more enlivened to the possibility that maybe he
actually does want to run.

But the explorations he`s been doing is, can I run? Is it now too late?
Could I actually -- there are hurdles, and some of the same hurdles that
faced Rick Perry, so formidable, that even with my skills, it might just be
too late for me now, even though I kind of have changed my mind about the
desirability of trying to get in.

MATTHEWS: Well, as the penguin once said in a Batman movie, things change.
And look at this, a bit of good news for Chris Christie at home in New
Jersey. Despite his tough talk, and he`s been very tough up there, his
approval rating has gone up now. He`s now at 54 percent, very high, 30
percent -- 36 percent disapproval.

Steve, does that give a guy like him or a woman like him, a politician that
sense of, you know, I have got some capital now, maybe I can risk going for
this thing, they like me at home, nobody can dump on me for that?

SCHMIDT: Well, when Chris Christie`s thinking about this, you know, and
you talk to people who are close to Chris Christie, you know, the first
consideration is this, is he`s going to have a very tough reelection. And
even though his approval numbers are strong right now, New Jersey`s a
Democratic state, and it`s not going to be a rose-strewn path for his
reelection.

And, secondly, his moment is now. And it`s not often that moments like
this occur in American politics. And they certainly don`t typically last
for four years. He has a legitimate shot to be the Republican nominee and,
because of the president`s numbers, a legitimate shot to be president of
the United States, if he takes the shot now. It will be fascinating to see
what he does.

MATTHEWS: That`s a good question, John Heilemann. The galloping horse of
history is riding by this guy.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Is he going to get on it? Because I -- can you think of a time
where there`s been a big call for somebody to run one year, and then four
or eight years later, it happens again?

HEILEMANN: No.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me -- I can`t think of one.

HEILEMANN: No. And, in fact, I can think of a counterexample. A lot of
people, Chris, talked about how, to make Steve`s point, that you have a
moment, that it`s your time. And they say, look at how Barack Obama seized
his moment, even though he, by some traditional standards, didn`t have the
resume that was required to run in 2008.

The other example that really drives home the point and that makes the
point about why I think Chris Christie may regret it for the rest of his
life if he doesn`t run is Hillary Clinton in 2004, which we reported about
in "Game Change." She was in the same position, in a lot of ways, as
Christie is now, a very weak field, the Democratic donor class and a lot of
the establishment unhappy with John Kerry, unhappy with Howard Dean,
begging her to get in, and her considering it as late as November of 2003,
and then deciding not to run.

And I think that history has shown that Hillary Clinton missed her time.
2004 was the year she should have run. And when 2008 came around, it
wasn`t her time anymore. And Barack Obama stepped in and took it away from
her. And I think that could easily happen to Christie again in 2016, if he
wants to try to run then.

MATTHEWS: Bottom line, yes or no, you thought she could have won in 2004?

HEILEMANN: I do. I think she could have won the nomination. I think she
could have won the presidency.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Steve, what`s missing right now in the Republican soup right now that
they`re looking so hard for Christie?

SCHMIDT: I think electability is going to be a key issue in the Republican
race.

And I think Mitt Romney has done a tremendous job in these debates, just an
enormous improvement from four years ago.

MATTHEWS: But they don`t like him.

SCHMIDT: I think he`s -- I think he`s actually quite good.

But I think that there`s elements of the Republican Party that haven`t
settled on him yet as the candidate who`s best able to, you know, to take
on the president. And, certainly, Rick Perry`s performances, while not
disastrous, have been near disastrous, counting the last one.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHMIDT: So there`s a lot of unsettlement in terms of looking for a
candidate that`s best able to take the president on and to defeat him.

MATTHEWS: Are you still dying that Sarah`s not in it?

(LAUGHTER)

SCHMIDT: Well, I don`t know what she`s going to do. I don`t think anybody
does. You know, whether she gets in or whether she`s not, you saw new poll
numbers out today that show the majority of Republicans don`t want her to
run. And if she does run, she`s a second- or third-tier candidate in the
race.

And I think that there will be contributions made by some of these other
candidates to the outcome of the race, but, you know, for right now, it
remains a two-person race between Romney and Perry.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

I count your vote is not for Sarah.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Steve Schmidt. "She doesn`t know anything."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Steve Schmidt, you will never forget. That`s going in
Bartlett`s, by the way. "She doesn`t know anything."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, John Heilemann.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next -- who reported it.

Up next: Republican voters don`t like any of their candidates, and Jon
Stewart says, the problem isn`t the candidates. He says it`s the
Republican voters. That`s what he says. Catch the "Sideshow" next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: Bring on the funny. Well, it`s hard to recall another
presidential candidate getting so chewed out for his weak debate
performance as is the case with GOPer Rick Perry these days. But there are
plenty of laughs to go along with the criticism.

Here`s how Nate Beeler, the cartoonist with "The Washington Examiner," took
Perry to task for his downward spiral at last week`s debate. Here he
starts. "Moving on from the Obama bashing, the second part of the debate
will cover other issues, such as illegal immigration, crony capitalism, and
foreign policy. First question goes to Governor Perry. Governor Perry?"

"Wake me in 10 minutes."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And this is just the beginning -- a tad too soon for a front-
running candidate to be petering out, don`t you think?

But Perry`s not the only one who`s tired of the presidential debates.
Guess who`s got a problem with the debates themselves? Michele Bachmann.
Here`s the solution she gave in an Iowa radio show just yesterday.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We get in trouble if
we don`t answer the questions that they ask us, so the other thing that I
think your listeners need to remember is, we don`t control the questions.
The moderators do.

It would be great if we could maybe even have sit-down one-on-one
interviews for 20 minutes or for a half-hour, so that they could get a good
-- so that we could have the same questions, but then we each answer those
questions, and just answer the questions to the moderator.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see, nine candidates. That`s nine times 20 minutes
each. That adds up to 180, which is three hours. Three hours of
repetitious questioning, sounds more like "The Twilight Zone" to me.

Anyway, lastly, stop and reflect. Last night on "The Daily Show," Jon
Stewart urged Republican voters to do just that. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": It`s like your ideal
candidate is a rare, superheavy element that could only exist in a
particular particle accelerator, and even then, only for a fraction of a
second --

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: -- before you all remembered how much you hate science.

You need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and not come away
thinking, you know, there`s something wrong with this mirror. And now you
want Chris Christie`s. Sure you do.

(LAUGHTER)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The folk who criticize my appointment
of Sohail Mohammed are ignorant, absolutely ignorant of that. And they`re
criticizing him because he`s a Muslim-American. This Sharia law business
is crap. It`s just crazy. And I`m tired of dealing with the crazies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: He`s talking about you.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I would love Christie to get in this race. The big east
deserves a shot in this tournament. That`s what I say.

Up next: President Obama`s pushing his jobs plan in Colorado today. And
now he wants to stop a new trend among employers who say in want ads,
believe it or not, that the unemployed need not apply. What a great ad
that is. Predictably, Republicans don`t like it. Should employers be able
to bar the jobless from seeking jobs? That`s our question coming up next,
right ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARY THOMPSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Mary Thompson with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Stocks losing steam in the final hour of trading, but still finishing
firmly in the green, the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 146 points,
the S&P 500 adding 12, and the Nasdaq climbing 30. The Dow was up as much
as 300 points earlier in the session on hopes for an agreement on how to
deal with the E.U. debt crisis, as well as the Greek Parliament`s approval
of an unpopular property tax that is the key component of its austerity
plan.

But the rally faltered on a report that there`s a split among Eurozone
ministers over the terms of Greece`s second $109 billion bailout. Gold
surged more than $50 an ounce, rebounding from its worst three-day decline
in nearly 30 years. And Disney surged after landing a movie streaming deal
in Brazil and introducing new toys that interact with iPads.

Check out MSNBC.com for more on a study out of Switzerland that found
financial traders are more antisocial, dishonest, and reckless than
psychopaths.

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

MATTHEWS: Well, that was our graphic for creating things and building
things, which I`m all for.

The president, by the way, is finishing up right now a three-state tour out
West, with a stop in Colorado. He`s, of course, pushing his jobs plan.
His focus today is on education and helping to renovate troubled schools.
But it`s not just schools that need help. Here`s a fact about Colorado the
president might not want to mention -- or might want to mention. There are
569 structurally deficient bridges in that state that could use work just
to keep them safe, bridges that American workers could be fixing right now
-- I don`t get it -- work that needs being done.

And speaking of the president`s jobs plan, there`s one part that hasn`t
gotten a great deal of attention, according to "The New York Times." The
president is backing a proposal to prohibit employers in this country from
discriminating against job applicants who are unemployed, in other words,
if you`re out of work, you can`t apply for work.

A company can`t discount you based on the fact that you don`t currently
have a job. It would also stop job boards and employment agencies from
advertising for positions that exclude unemployed workers.

I never heard anything like this. Is it a good idea? Well, there are 14
million people out of work today in the United States and 4.5 million of
those have been unemployed for more than a year. So do the math, 4.5
million people sitting out there right now who want to work right now, in
fact, are walking the street looking for jobs.

Dana Milbank is a columnist for "The Washington Post." Steve Moore is a
senior economic writer for "The Wall Street Journal."

I have to ask you, to start off at the bat -- let`s go with Steve -- what
is the case for employers being allowed to say, don`t waste my time if
you`re unemployed looking for a job; you`re not going to even get an
interview here?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC WRITER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I
don`t think it`s -- I don`t think it`s right to say, like, you know, like
Irish need not apply, unemployed need not apply.

But I do think, Chris, that it is important for employers to be able to
look at the worker job history, and if somebody`s been out of work for a
long time, for better or for worse, that`s usually a negative on their
resume. It doesn`t look -- I always tell people, you know, the best way to
find a job is to have a job. And so --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But, Steve, you`re being redundant. If you tell a person they
can`t apply for a job because they have been out of work, then the next
time they apply for a job, they will say, you have been out of work longer;
therefore, you can`t apply for this job.

It seems like it`s a redundant, vicious cycle you`re creating here.

MOORE: Well --

MATTHEWS: Don`t hire the unemployed, so they can be unemployed next week
and not get hired by someone who won`t hire the unemployed.

Isn`t that a problem you have just created right here on this show?

MOORE: Well, this is why I think these --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You have just done it. You have stepped in it.

MOORE: No, I think that --

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: I think the -- I think problem is -- one of the big problems with
the -- half of the people who are unemployed now have been unemployed for
more than six months.

I think one of the reasons for that, and the statistics show this, is we
keep extending unemployment insurance. That`s kept people unemployed
longer than they would otherwise be, and it`s hurt their job market
prospects.

MATTHEWS: So, as they go out there to apply for a job, they`re told they
can`t apply because they have been unemployed. But you say they don`t go
looking for jobs because they have been getting benefits.

Which is it? Are they looking for jobs and being rejected?

MOORE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Why would they put those signs up if they weren`t having people
come in and looking for jobs or unemployed? They wouldn`t need to sign.

MOORE: Look --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s a good question. You don`t know the answer, do you? Why
would you tell a person not to apply for unemployment when they unemployed
aren`t looking for jobs? You wouldn`t need the sign, would you?

MOORE: Look, Chris, you`re taking out of context my words. I don`t think
it`s fair for employers to say, if you don`t have a job, you can`t apply.
But I do think it`s certainly legitimate for businesses to look at the work
history. If somebody`s been out of work for two years, you`re less likely
to want to hire that person than somebody two actually has been working.

MATTHEWS: OK. Dana, let me ask you this about this. I didn`t know this
was going on. And I`ll tell you one thing -- I`m into politics, not hiring
people. I think it sounds like hell.

This is the worst I`ve heard. You don`t help a guy or a woman who`s out of
work, say a plant closed. It`s not their fault, they`re living in some
small town, all there is is the plant. There`s not another plant opening
up. It`s not their fault.

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Right. And Barack Obama, in
proposing this, you know, buried in the legislation, is praying that John
Boehner will say the same sort of thing that Steve Moore just said,
because, you know, leaving aside the economics, it puts the president --

MATTHEWS: So, this is a booby trap?

MILBANK: Well, sure it is. I mean, look, very few things in this jobs
bill are being passed. The only real unemployment we`re talking about here
is preventing Barack Obama from becoming unemployed, so he`s picking
various fights with Republicans. Even if this were implemented, you know,
these things would take months if not years to resolve in lawsuits.

But it`s good politics and it`s illustrated by the fact that there`s one
state that`s doing this sort of thing, blocking employers from having these
ads saying "no unemployed need apply," and that is New Jersey. And this
law was signed by Chris Christie. The man all these Republicans --

MATTHEWS: He`s with the president on this. He signed the bill.

Here`s the -- by the way, Christie`s agrees with the president. I know
that the other day.

Here`s the president last month explaining why this kind of protection for
the unemployed job applicant is necessary. By the way, he`s on the very
popular "Tom Joyner Radio Show." Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have seen instances in
which employers are explicitly saying, we don`t want to take a look at
folks who have been unemployed. Well, that makes absolutely no sense. And
I know there`s legislation that I`m supportive of that says, you know, you
cannot discriminate against folks because they been unemployed,
particularly when you`ve seen so many folks who, through no fault of their
own, ended up being laid off because of the difficulties of this recession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk politics a bit. Steve, I know you`re an
economics guy, but the politics are fairly clear. The president has had a
challenge in restarting and reigniting his base, African-Americans, working
people. It seems like he brought this up because he sees it as an
opportunity.

MOORE: Well, there`s no question. I mean, President Obama has moved
pretty sharply to the left. I mean, I`ve been listening to the speeches
he`s been giving for the last three days. They`ve been kind of big chunks
of red meat to the liberal constituencies.

But I`m not so sure, Chris, that this is the best strategy for this
president to get re-elected. I mean, what really surprises me the most,
Dana, about this president over the last year or so is that he has not
pulled a Bill Clinton, he has not moved to the middle. He`s really
continued to govern from the left, and that`s what the voters voted against
in 2010.

MATTHEWS: Well, you want to answer the new moderator here?

MILBANK: Well, I think what happened is --

(LAUGHTER)

MILBANK: Who shall I address here? Well, I think what happened, Chris and
Steve, is that the president did go to the middle a couple of times, but
basically, what happened is, he started out with what was a moderate
proposal and then got pulled to the right by Republicans. I don`t think
it`s a matter of governing to the right or left, I think this is a tactical
shift here, and he`s just saying, look, I`m going to take a more extreme
position to get it where I want.

MATTHEWS: You know what people remember? Big shots think of the small
stuff, family home leave, Lilly Ledbetter, equal employment payment, things
like that. It`s the little things that seem so little to big shots, but
regular people say, you know, that affects me, and I can connect with that.
I think people connect with the --

MOORE: But, Chris, I -- I don`t buy that, Chris. I mean, look, the
fundamental number is the one that you started this segment with: 14
million people unemployed. The president is the coach. If it`s not
working, you fire the coach.

I mean, no matter how many of these things you pass, like, you know, we`ll
give protection for jobs for people who don`t have -- you know, who are
unemployed. That`s not going to get around the fundamental problem that
there just aren`t enough jobs in this economy. It is because the
president`s jobs programs haven`t worked.

MILBANK: That`s true. There`s 14 million unemployed. What the
president`s trying to do is bring them under the Democratic umbrella.
We`re looking at -- we`re protecting the old folks, the women, gays, and
the unemployed.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s a harder case to make, Steve, I just end on this,
to say that corporations are people, too. This argument by Mitt Romney
that corporations are human and they`re thinking and they care about
people. And then they put up signs: if you`re unemployed, don`t waste your
time here. That doesn`t make Mitt Romney`s case any better.

I agree, 14 million unemployed is a hard obstacle for this president.

Thank you very much, Dana Milbank. And thank you, Steve Moore. Thanks,
gentlemen.

Up next, it`s not exactly a profile in courage for Mitt Romney. Well,
here, talking about trimming -- here he is yesterday met with Mitt Romney,
but Romney didn`t want to see him meeting with Romney. You don`t see the
pictures of the paper today, do you, of a meeting with Romney, because he
wouldn`t let us take them. He`s so proud of that meeting except he doesn`t
want anybody to see it.

It`s a classic case of Romney wanting to have it both ways, we think. No
wonder Republicans are looking for someone else. They want somebody who`s
willing to stand up and be seen with the person he`s been with. Is that
too much, Mitt?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, as bad as things look for President Obama, "The Wall
Street Journal" points out that he can console himself with the electoral
math for 2012 actually.

Consider this: 18 states plus the District of Columbia have voted Democrat
in all five presidential elections since 1992. That`s good for 242
electoral votes, in fact. While Republicans have won just 13 states in
each of the last five elections for 102 electoral votes. That leaves 19
battleground states, including five that Democrats have won in either three
or four of the past five elections: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
Nevada, and the biggie, of course, Ohio.

If Obama can win those five, he`ll have 281 electoral votes, 11 more than
he needs, and that`s without winning Virginia, North Carolina, or Florida.

So we`ll be right back. Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Well, here`s another example, as I mentioned, of Mitt Romney trying to have
it both ways. Romney was in New York City yesterday for a scheduled
meeting with Donald Trump, but he had a member of his communications team
deceive the press for over an hour assuring those reporters that Romney was
on his way to that meeting. Well, the whole time the former governor was
upstairs meeting with Trump, and then he slipped out a side door, avoiding
the media all together. So no evidence they actually met on camera.

So, Romney was willing to meet with Trump, but he was afraid to have his
picture taken with him. What does that tell you?

Christina Bellantoni is an associate politics editor at "Roll Call," the
newspaper that covers Capitol Hill; and Maggie Haberman writes for
"Politico."

Maggie, let me start with you. What is this? I mean, I`m thinking Donald
Trump is watching the show tonight saying, wait a minute, this scalawag.
He comes in to meet with me, wastes my time -- and my time is very valuable
-- hangs out with me, "skips to my Lou." No evidence he ever met with me.

What is he trying to do? Is he two-faced or what?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I think that this is not a banner moment for
Mitt Romney. You know, Donald Trump got a pizza date out of Sarah Palin.
And he got a Jean-Georges date, a nice steak out of Rick Perry

He gets nothing out of this, except for Mitt Romney sneaking out of a side
door and the press being angry. It does not exactly scream wanting to be
around Donald Trump. I think the main reason Mitt Romney did this was so
that Donald Trump didn`t go on TV and essentially say negative things about
him.

But the best ringing endorsement he got was: we got along better than I
thought we would.

MATTHEWS: SO, he treats him like Kublai Khan in a room, but like typhoid
Mary out in the streets. Here is Trump giving his assessment of that
meeting, we`ll get to you with Romney in an interview last night with Greta
van Susteren. It wasn`t exactly a ringing endorsement, by the way.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN (via telephone): I will tell you -- I`m with
Rick Perry. I really like him a lot. I thought he was a terrific guy.

Today, I met with Mitt Romney -- absolutely very impressive. I mean, we
had -- very different people. It`s very interesting, and I don`t want to
get into it, but they are very, very different people, but I was very
impressed today with Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Christine, what do you make of him doing the Betty and Veronica
number? He`s like Archie Andrews from the comics? I`m not sure who I
liked today, Betty or Veronica -- like, man, they are both interesting, you
know, I don`t know.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: Don`t forget how much he likes Sarah
Palin, too. I mean, this says as much about Donald Trump as it does about
Mitt Romney. If he wanted to be photographed with Mitt Romney, he probably
could have made that happen.

And this is probably not a candidate he`s going to endorse. Romney is
somebody that has said some negative things about in the past. This was a
little bit of mitigation.

But as far as not being photographed with somebody, I mean, that happens
all the time. You know, Rick Perry has been up doing fundraisers. He
doesn`t get photographs with everybody he does fundraisers with. Barack
Obama was at a fund-raiser with Lady Gaga this week and there`s no pictures
of the two been together. So, I think --

MATTHEWS: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, Christina. You go to meet
Donald Trump in New York, with all the hoopla about it, you say you`re
going to meet with him, you have your flack outside play dodge ball with
the press, you tell them that he hasn`t arrived yet. He`s been up there
meeting with him for the whole hour. You`re in perfect communication. You
never let him come out the front door with the press standing there. You
know exactly where the press, and you take a side door.

That`s not casual. That`s purposeful avoidance of a picture. I want to go
back to you. Why doesn`t he want his picture taken with -- why doesn`t he
want his picture taken with the Trumpster?

BELLANTONI: Well, it`s all political carnival, right? You choose where
you want those pictures. He certainly wants to have a picture taken when
he`s at the -- you know, whether he goes to the Iowa state fair or if he`s
doing, you know, these small events in New Hampshire. So, he`s trying to
carefully take his image there and present that to the public.

It`s all choices, and every picture that you take as a campaign is
something that you want to have control over. He didn`t want a picture of
Trump -- I think you`re right -- because he knows that Trump is probably
not going to endorse him.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BELLANTONI: What`s the point of having those images out there?

HABERMAN: I think there`s another reason.

MATTHEWS: Maggie, you know -- yes, what`s the other reason?

HABERMAN: I`m sorry. I think he doesn`t want a picture with Trump because
Trump is the person who, for better or worse, was really, you know,
capturing into this message in the Republican field and among voters of,
you know, taking the fight to Obama, and that`s just not on excitement or
that`s just not what Mitt Romney is doing. There`s no way this is going to
be seen as some kind of a favorable, especially when you compare it to Rick
Perry. So, I think that`s a lot of why he didn`t want it.

MATTHEWS: Well, the other thing is that Trump was the big birther of the
country. He put all his bet -- he put all his money down on that one chip
in saying, look this, guy doesn`t have a legal birth certificate. He was
found to be wrong.

Christina, that doesn`t exactly give you credibility.

BELLANTONI: Well, and why meet with him at all? I mean, this says a lot
that Mitt Romney is obviously taking this person seriously enough to have a
private meeting with him. I mean, given all of those things, he wants to
be able to have sort of -- say that he`s reaching out to this person who
still does well in presidential polls, by the way, and who has still said
he could get him himself.

So, he`s definitely trying to appeal to that side of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know. This guy -- the king-maker doesn`t look like a
king-maker tonight. We`ll see. He might have a lot of influence.

Christina Bellantoni, thank you, and, Maggie Haberman.

He obviously thinks he`s worth -- his ring is worth kissing.

And when we return, "Let Me Finish" with a thought about Governor Chris
Christie. Is he too benign for his own party? He`s saying nice things
about people being gay.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" with this: Governor Christie of New Jersey said
something nice about gay people in a recent interview. He said God made
them the way they are, so he personally can`t view them as sinners. Now
that may strike you as a not unusually benign view these days, but I wonder
if it isn`t unusually benign for the governor`s political party.

If you`ve been paying attention the last several weeks, you will have
noticed that the Republican Party is not in a benign mood these days.
Raise the issue of capital punishment, and you unleash a crack of applause.
Just mentioning it seems to trigger something deep in the Republican happy
zone.

Ask a Republican audience what it should do with a 30-year-old in a coma
who failed to buy health insurance, and you hear yelps of enthusiasm to let
him die.

We caught a similar spasm of angry contempt the other night directed at a
gay soldier serving in Iraq. You would have thought the young man was
fighting for the other side instead of being out there in harm`s way for
us.

There`s a lot of hatred in the air right now, and not a whole lot of
compassionate conservatism. Governor Perry learned that the other day when
he dared to scold his fellow Republicans for not having a heart for those
young people raised in America by immigrants here illegally.

So, Governor Christie may be joining the list of Republican candidates at
some point down the line, but if he does, he`ll have something to answer
for. Should he ever find himself on a GOP debate platform, that kind of
statement -- that kind statement of his about gay people being God`s
children -- may cause some real gnashing of teeth.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


END


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