1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 10/4/2011 11:16:58 AM ET 2011-10-04T15:16:58

Guests: Milissa Rehberger, Michael Steele, Wayne Slater, Van Jones, Willie Brown, Tad Devine, John Feehery,
Gary Johnson, Josh Marshall

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Unhappy hunting ground.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight:
What`s in a name? A lot right now, if you`re Rick Perry. When the news
broke this weekend that Perry had hosted guests at a camp known for years
by a racially charged name, his campaign had hoped to dismiss the story as
just another attack by the mainstream media. Well, good strategy until
fellow Republican candidate Herman Cain called name of the hunting camp
just plain insensitive.

It`s just the latest hit for a campaign that has discovered it`s a lot
easier to launch a campaign for president than to sustain one.

And that`s something Chris Christie might want to take note of as he
decides whether to get in the race. Could it be that Republican primary
voters will decide he, Chris Christie, is too liberal for them? Maybe
that`s one reason Christie`s having so much trouble saying yes.

Also, those Wall Street protests beg the question, why isn`t there a
Tea Party on the left? Columnist E.J. Dionne says the dominance of the
right in the political debate has been bad for President Obama and bad for
political moderates, too.

And a lot of people cheered when a U.S. drone took out Anwar al
Awlaki, the American citizen who had joined al Qaeda. But Ron Paul is one
person asking if it`s right to assassinate an America and deny him the
right to a trial. We`ll get to that tricky one.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with this question. Should President
Obama campaign from the left, as his base would like, or should he aim for
the center?

That`s also going to be the subject of a very special live edition of
HARDBALL coming up two hours from now, tonight, 7:00 Eastern, "The Great
Democratic Debate." I`ll be joined by eight guests from both the left and
from the center who will debate the best way for the president to run and
win a second four-year term. It`s going to be quite exciting, and I hope
you`ll join us at 7:00 Eastern tonight. Again, 7:00 o`clock Eastern
tonight, for ";The Great Democratic debate."

We start right now with problems at Rick Perry`s campaign, and they`re
serious. Wayne Slater writes for "The Dallas Morning News" and former
Republican Party chair Michael Steele is an MSNBC political analyst.

Again, we`re back to what I call the San Andreas fault of American
life -- and some live a lot closer to it than I do -- the problem of racial
discrimination, racial attitudes, racism. "The Washington Post" reported
this weekend that a large rock with the "N" word had for years been visible
at a hunting camp leased by Rick Perry and his father.

Here`s what "The Post" reports. "In a written statement, the governor
said, quote, `My father and mother went to the lease and painted the rock
in either 1983 or `84,` Perry wrote. `This occurred after I paid a visit
to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word.
After my visit, I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they
painted over it during their next visit. Well, ever since, any time I ever
saw the rock, it was painted over.`" Well, Perry said that.

"Perry`s version of events differs in many respects from the
recollections of seven people," according to "The Post," interviewed by
`The Post,` who spoke in detail of their memories of seeing the rock with
the -- that name at various points during the years that Perry was
associated with the property through his father, partners, or his signature
on a lease. Of those interviewed, the seven who said they saw the rock
said the block-lettered name was clearly visible at different points in the
1980s and 1990s. One, a former worker on the ranch, believes he saw it as
recently as 2008."

So there we have it. The word is the old unlikable, despised, and
fairly so, "N" word followed by the word "head." It has something to do,
Wayne, with designating a piece of property -- I`m trying to figure out if
it means, like, Bridge Head, Nags Head, only with the "N" at front of it.

Where are you on this, Wayne? You`re down there covering this story
right now.

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Well, first, I mean, this is
unfortunately part of the sort of shameful chapter in Texas and in the
South. There were creeks, geographic signals and places, mountains, slopes
that carried these racially offensive terms from 100 years ago, a post-
Civil War vestige.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SLATER: For Perry, he`s got two problems. One is he`s given a
timeline saying, As soon as we found out about this, we painted it over, we
got rid of it. If someone produces a picture that suggests and challenges
that timeline, not just anonymous sources, then Perry has a problem.

More fundamentally, the question, it seems to me, the fair question,
is, is Rick Perry racist? And Chris, I have to tell you, in being around
Rick Perry for years and years and talking to his close associates, good
lawmakers who knew him back in the day, there is very little or no evidence
that Rick Perry is a racist.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, that`s not really the bar or the standard I
want to ask you to talk about for a second. I mean, people -- Lloyd
Bentsen, when he ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket, had to
quit the gentile country club he was in that didn`t have any Jewish
members. We have a standard that`s somewhat higher than simply not being
an out-and-out, you know, Klansman.

The question here -- would he join a club that had the "N" word as
part of its sort of novel, old-time memories as part of it or whatever?
Would he put up with that? That`s really the question here, isn`t it?

SLATER: It is.

MATTHEWS: Would he put up with the old crap?

SLATER: And my sense is, knowing Rick Perry, he probably would not.
And yet I can see, having grown up here and not knowing what the proper
name for "slingshot" was until I was about 4 or 5 years old, and the sort
of malign neglect of the old South, where a generation and another
generation before that used offensive words and didn`t think a thing about
it -- this is the kind of thing that exists here. We know it.

But is Rick Perry that kind of person? I`ve never seen it in this
case.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Good, fair reporting.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Michael...

SLATER: One last thing, though.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead. I`m sorry.

SLATER: One last thing. The question ultimately becomes, how does
this turn (ph) about the policies, what he has done? What has he done as a
statewide official and lawmaker and a governor that reflects a more
tolerant aspect? In some areas, very good reports. In other areas, not so
good.

MATTHEWS: Michael Steele, you chaired the Republican Party for those
years. You know the sensibilities of your party, the sensitivities. It`s
a party that under Jack Kemp has tried to raise the size of the tent, if
you will.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And you also have a lot of Dixiecrats, former Dixiecrats,
in your party.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You know that. Is this a Dixiecrat reminder?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the old days, or what?

STEELE: I think it -- I think it is reminiscent of the old days. And
you know, I would agree with Wayne that there`s nothing in my experience
with the governor that would lead anyone to believe that he would condone,
appreciate or accept this type of slur on his property.

I think this is a matter of, you know -- and I take him at his word.
He said his parents and he got rid of this, you know, painted over this in
the 1980s. Fine. If you know, these other individuals have something to
say that`s contrary to that, then produce that evidence.

But there is a broader problem, and that is one that the Republican
Party suffers from in many quarters with black folks, and that is the sense
of, this indication that we`re somehow less sensitive to those types of
things, that we tend to dismiss them.

And as you look at some, you know, of the conservative -- more
conservative bloggers and the like, you know, sort of almost defending the
use of the term, or at least excusing it away, it again sends the signal
that the party is not quite ready to address, I think, a systemic issue
with the African-American community. And that, quite frankly, cannot stand
if we want to be successful in elections nationally in the future.

MATTHEWS: That`s right. By the way, the name of that hunting area
was called by that name. It wasn`t just a piece of writing on a -- a
graffiti or something like that. That was the name of the slice of land
there.

Here`s Rick Perry taking the heat on this issue from his own party.
Here`s fellow presidential candidate Herman Cain on "Fox News Sunday" just
yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That isn`t (ph) a more
vile, negative word than the "N" word. And for him to leave it there as
long as he did before, I hear, that they finally painted over it, it`s just
plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, then, of course, Mr. Cain responded to that. He said
-- (INAUDIBLE) here he is today. After meeting Donald Trump, Herman Cain
had this comment on Rick Perry. Let`s listen to this, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: All I said was the mere fact that that word was insensitive.
That`s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Governor Perry. Some
people in the media want to attack him. I`m done with that issue. I
really don`t care about that word. They painted over it. End of story. I
think it (INAUDIBLE) I accept Governor Perry`s response on that, and I`m
ready to talk about what`s really important to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So just to straighten out the disconnect between what Mr.
Cain said a minute before that and then what he just said there -- there
was a change of direction there because between those two statements, he
got this statement written from the Perry campaign. Quote, "Mr. Cain is
wrong about the Perry family`s quick action to eliminate the word on the
rock, but is right the word written by others long ago is insensitive and
offensive. That is why the Perrys took quick action to cover and obscure
it."

I want to go back to a fact question here. Sometimes, we benefit from
an argument over a fact because maybe one side`s right and the other side`s
wrong, and then we know who`s telling the truth. And that also tells us
who the good guy is.

Back to you, Wayne. We like to find out who the good guy is in these
debates. Your contention five minutes ago was the real issue here in terms
of journalism is, was Mr. -- was Governor Perry telling the truth when he
said way back in `83 or `84, he got his daddy to paint over that offensive
word, so he`s really innocent because his first impulse was to clean up the
old bad stuff of racism. If that`s true, I think he`s clean. I think we
all agree that he did what he could do as the son of a father who was
involved in something before.

But if that`s not true -- and by the way, how do we find out? Will
there be people coming forward? We don`t all have cell cameras running
around hunting grounds. I wonder if there are cell phones where people go
hunting. But your thoughts on that one, Wayne?

SLATER: Yes, no, that`s fundamentally the problem, as I say. If
somebody shows up with a picture and it showed in some way, some evidence
that that was there and that Perry passed it for years, not simply for a
year or a few months, but passed it with fellow legislators -- and I`ve
talked to several who say they didn`t see it -- but if they passed it for
years, then that reflects the kind of malaise, a sort of insensitivity that
clearly builds into a larger perception -- and I know what Michael was
talking about -- where when you have now a Southern governor, who says
states` rights, states` right, states` rights, a Southern governor -- who
we play racial politics down here on all sides.

I mean, Rick Perry used pictures of Jim Hightower with Jesse Jackson
in his first campaign for agriculture commissioner. He attacked his
Hispanic Democratic opponent, a Hispanic banker, raising questions of
whether he was implicit in drug money laundering in Mexico. That`s racial
politics. And you get this kind of thing -- if he lied about how much he
accepted this, how long he tolerated it, he has a problem.

STEELE: You know, from my perspective, Chris, you know, I look at
this and I say, you know, as I said before, I`ll give you the benefit of
the doubt in terms of your timeline and what you`re saying. But for me,
fundamentally, it goes to this. If I walk up on a piece of property that I
have an interest in, whether I`m leasing it or own it, and I have something
so vile that`s sitting there in front of me, do I paint over it or do I
just remove the damned thing? Do I just have someone say, Could you take
that rock and throw it into the river? Could we get it off this property?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: And that to me is really what this boils down to. You know,
we cannot be lackadaisical about these issues. We cannot be insensitive in
that regard and say, Well, just paint over it, because it still is a
reminder of what`s beneath the paint.

And I think, again, that`s what irks a lot of African-Americans and a
lot of minorities when it comes to how the Republican Party and sometimes
it`s individual candidates respond to these types of things. And I`m
hoping we can show ourselves, because I know we are, bigger and better than
that, and have a stronger voice, as we once did, on these types of issues
going forward.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and I think -- and I`m going to put an interjection
here. And let`s not forget why a lot of Southerners joined the Republican
Party. Not because they fell in love with Abraham Lincoln, but because
they didn`t like the Civil Rights bill of `64. And that`s not the only
reason. A lot of it is conservatism generally. They don`t like big
government. They don`t like Washington. It`s not all race, obviously.

But there was a terrible signal there that a lot of those guys
switched over the minute Johnson signed that Civil Rights bill in `64, even
though a lot of Republican senators made that bill possible.

STEELE: Oh, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And a lot of the Republican senators deserve credit for
that. But the South moved a little quick on that issue.

Anyway, thank you, Wayne Slater. As always, Michael Steele. Thank
you so much, gentlemen.

Coming up: Those protests on Wall Street beg the obvious question, why
isn`t there a Tea Party on the left? Why aren`t the people on the left,
the passionate left, out there complaining about Wall Street and the
economy in this country and the way it`s going? An organized grass roots
movement to help counter the dominance of the right and the political right
is emerging. Some of there looks a bit comical, but it`s not. It`s for
real.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, a big worry for President Obama heading into 2012 is
that Democrats aren`t as enthusiastic about voting this the time around as
Republicans clearly are. A new Gallup poll finds that just 45 -- excuse me
-- 45 percent of Democrats say they`re more enthusiastic about voting in
2012 elections than they were in `08. For Republicans, that number is
nearly 60 percent. And that`s the largest measured enthusiasm gap since
2000.

We`ll have much more on that and what it means for President Obama as
he campaigns for reelection -- does he go left or play for the center -- in
our "Great Democratic Debate" tonight coming up at 7:00 Eastern. It`s
going to be hot. It`s going to be hot here.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... becoming more and more organized each day, and
we`re building the infrastructure. And then every day, we get bigger and
find out that our infrastructure`s inadequate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That`s one of the protesters at
the Occupy Wall Street rally right now in New York. We`re now into week
three of those protests, and the movement has been growing more intense.
This weekend, crowds blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. There it is.
Police arrested more than 700 protesters for marching there.

And the movement is spreading. Activists staged similar protests in
L.A. and Chicago. Here you see protesters in Chicago`s financial district.
Today a report from our Chicago bureau says about three dozen protesters
held signs, beat drums, and called for action against what they call
"banksters."

Could these protests be the beginning of an equivalent Tea Party
movement on the left? And why hasn`t there been one yet?

Joining me now is Van Jones, president of the progressive group the
American Dream Movement. That sounds harmless. And Willie Brown is a much
more veteran politician from San Francisco and he joins us.

Let`s talk about this right now, about this -- Van, inform me.

VAN JONES, REBUILDTHEDREAM.COM: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What`s going on the streets right now of America? Is it
something like the Arab spring? What`s going on?

JONES: Well, you know, I think it`s an expression of exactly the same
thing. You know, we had the Arab spring. Welcome to the American autumn.
That is what is going on.

We have hit a pain threshold in America. People see nothing coming
from D.C., nothing coming from Wall Street. It looks (ph) like any kind of
hope is going to be on the way, and people are not going to take it
anymore. The American...

MATTHEWS: Well, I`ll tell you one thing. These are happening all
during the day, during the week. So by definition, these young people are
out of work.

JONES: Well, and they`re not alone. We have young people who went to
great schools, they did everything right, Chris. They graduate off a cliff
into no jobs. They`re praying for a two-year unpaid internship. And
that`s supposed to be success in America.

We`ve got young kids coming back from overseas. They get dumped off,
these young veterans, at the airport. No jobs, no hope, nothing. And
you`re seeing a generation standing up. It happened all around the world.
It`s happening in America. And I think that D.C. and Wall Street should
listen to these young people.

MATTHEWS: Mayor Brown, is this the Free Speech movement of the 21st
century?

WILLIE BROWN (D), FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: I think it`s more like
the Free Speech movement. It`s somewhat akin to what occurred at the
University of California many years ago, when we were protesting the war in
Vietnam. It`s within the context, however, of a democratic system.

And it`s clear, it will not be in the way in which other places where
protests have occurred that they`ve challenged the government. This is a
challenge to some individual policies, not the government itself.

JONES: That`s a very good point.

MATTHEWS: Well, why not start -- both of you guys start on this.
Give me some particulars. What are some demands that make sense to people
watching right now?

JONES: Well, first of all, what`s going on, I think, with the young
people -- and I really invite you to have them on the show. They are
incredibly articulate, they can speak well for themselves. I`m happy to
talk about them as well as some of the work I`m doing directly.

But one of the things, they have been criticized because they don`t
have demands. And I actually think we should take that seriously, because
they may not have message clarity, but they have got moral clarity. They
are calling attention, the nation`s attention to the incredible lack of
economic home and opportunity that`s going on.

The kinds of things -- I don`t think we should ask these young people
to figure out derivatives reform or something like that. I think what
they`re saying is, look, we`re sitting on a white-hot stove, we`re starting
to holler. Rather than critiquing the way they`re hollering, I think we
should say as folks who maybe can make a difference here, this is a pain
threshold.

And I`m telling you what. Mayor Brown is right. This is not going to
be about the government. It`s going to be about what I think they`re
calling the plutocracy, the plutocrats, the 1 percent they say who are
sitting up on Wall Street skimming off all the money and the other 99
percent of them left.

MATTHEWS: But they don`t care.

Mayor Brown, do you think they care in New York whether these people
are protesting them, these guys making zillions? They`re not afraid of
this crowd, are they?

BROWN: No, I don`t think the New Yorkers on Wall Street are afraid of
the crowd, but I think people seeking elective office will grow concerned
about the crowd. And if people seeking elective office grow concerned
about the crowd, they may very well institute investigations around the
conduct of people on Wall Street.

After all, you understand subprime mortgages never would have happened
if somebody hadn`t at a rating agency listed them as AAA. That needs to be
investigated and somebody needs to be prosecuted.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, who put these bouquets together and sent them over to
Belgium and said this is great property here?

Let`s take a look. Amid the Occupy Wall Street protests and a
conference of progressive groups coming together here in D.C., E.J. Dionne
of "The Washington Post" asks two important questions in his column today.
One, why hasn`t there been a Tea Party on the left? Two, can President
Obama and the American left develop a functional relationship?

Now, maybe those are contradictory, Van, but, you know, people don`t
like protesting with the help of the government. They like to protest at
it. So what`s he talking -- has he got a good point there?

JONES: He`s got a good point. While this is happening in New York
City, the Wall Street protests, there`s something else happening here in
D.C.

And that is the American Dream Movement is coming together. We have
70 of the most impressive left progressive organizations, the AFL-CIO,
MoveOn.org, et cetera, all meeting now, right now, in the next couple of
days, saying we are going to distend what we call the American dream, the
idea that ordinary people should be able to work hard and get somewhere and
the idea that the people who are working not that hard and the people who
are breaking all the rules on Wall Street, they`re too big to fail, but no
matter how hard we work, we can`t succeed.

I think the American middle class should be declared too big to fail.
I think the dreams of these young people out there on Wall Street should be
declared too big to fail. And what you`re seeing is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s that mean? What`s that mean?

JONES: Well, I will tell you what it means. First of all, we act
like America is broke. America is not broke. We have got more money --
we`re the richest country in the history of the world, but we`re sitting up
here and we`re letting schoolteachers be laid off and firehouses close.

And people are sick of it, Chris. People want to see some actual
motion, where we say, look, let the people who did well in America do well
by America and start paying America back, where they got the tax breaks,
they got the bailouts. They took the money and ran and they left a whole
generation out. They`re leaving small businesses to suffer. Now is the
time. A pain threshold has been hit in this country.

MATTHEWS: Mayor Brown, I want your thoughts about the economy. It
looks to me that a lot of jobs in this business and all kinds of businesses
have lost the need for manpower.

You go to a bank, there`s hardly anybody there. There`s an ATM. You
go to a gas station, there`s one person hiding behind a shield, a
bulletproof shield, who`s dealing you money out through a crack. You have
got television, there`s no more cameraman. I don`t see anyone in front of
me anymore.

And it`s what`s going on. How do you change that structural reality
of the American economy, where these businesses have found ways not to hire
people?

BROWN: Well, you don`t need to change it. What you need to do is
take the picture out of Harry Bridges` book from a long time.

When it was clear on the ports and the waterfront of San Francisco we
would be going to vans, we would be going to lifters, we no longer needed
the manpower, he went to the people in control of that industry and he
said, share in the benefits that are going to come from this technology,
technological achievement, share it with the workers.

And that`s why you have had labor piece on the waterfront. The
benefits were shared with the workers. America needs to begin to think
that way about technology and the advances and the absence of a cameraman,
and we need to know that that camera is not going to buy a refrigerator.
The guy pushing the camera would have. We`d better figure out how to give
him the money to let him buy the refrigerator or there will be no
refrigerators.

MATTHEWS: Willie Brown for president of the AFL-CIO. But I tell you,
that`s what needs to be done. I agree with you completely.

By the way, we got to go. We will continue. This is a conversation
that`s got to go on, because I look around these cities, like Philly, where
I was yesterday. Everything really beautiful, the parks, the bridges,
every public structure, every monument was built in the `30s. How come
nothing`s been built since, nothing really good-looking?

Every -- we had no money back then and we built stuff. How come when
we have all the money now, we`re not building anything? There`s jobs to be
done.

Anyway, thank you, Van Jones.

Thank you, Mayor Brown.

Up next, what`s Herman Cain think of his fellow Republican
presidential candidates? Well, this is a little trivial, but it is
fascinating. Can he play a little word association with Jay Leno? You
bet. And he`s coming up next with the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: taking off on the victory lap or at least a couple of straw
poll wins. GOP candidate Herman Cain enjoyed some time in the spotlight
this past weekend and broadcast his opinions on a number of topics. First
off, let`s hear him shed some light on his opponents during his appearance
on "The Tonight Show" on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Mitt Romney?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt Romney, good hair.

LENO: Good hair?

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Ron Paul?

CAIN: Grumpy old man.

LENO: Grumpy old man.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Rick Santorum?

CAIN: Stressed.

LENO: Stressed.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Jon Huntsman?

CAIN: He wears ties just like Mr. Cain.

LENO: Really?

CAIN: Yes.

LENO: All right. OK.

CAIN: You noticed that in the debate?

LENO: I didn`t notice that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, actually, I do recall those matching ties being
pointed out in the course of a debate.

Anyway, and then there were some more under-the-radar issues that Cain
has already put on his list of priorities, should he make it to the White
House, including a remix of "Hail to the Chief," that traditional piece of
music that accompanies the president at important appearances. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": What`s the problem with "Hail
to the Chief"?

CAIN: Well, it`s traditional. I think "Hail to the Chief" needs a
little bit fresher sound.

WALLACE: So, hip-hop?

CAIN: It won`t be hip-hop. I might put some gospel beats into "Hail
to the Chief," OK?

WALLACE: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Hmm, whimsy comes before the fall. I don`t know about that
guy.

And now for the "Big Number." Time for a history lesson.

A new poll by "60 Minutes" and "Vanity Fair" put the term GOP to the
test, you know, Grand Old Party. While the three-letter term is tossed
around quite a bit frequently in reference to the Republican Party, a
surprisingly low number of people are actually aware of what it stands for,
GOP, even members of the Republican Party.

So what`s the verdict? How many of the Republicans polled correctly
identified the meaning of GOP in a multiple choice setup? Multiple choice,
multiple choice. Just 51 percent, just about half. Other choices included
government of the people and even grumpy old people. Well, 51 percent is
all they got. I think they should change their nickname if nobody knows
what it is. That`s tonight`s "Big Number."

Up next, Chris Christie could decide to get into the Republican race
any day now, maybe Wednesday. But do Republicans realize what they would
be getting from the New Jersey governor? He`s a lot more liberal than a
lot of people think. He`s more Jersey than West Coast or Arizona.

And don`t forget our special hour of HARDBALL coming up at 7:00
tonight Eastern. It`s really going to be a great show, "The Great
Democratic Debate," politicians, activists, journalists and historians all
debating whether President Obama should go left in this campaign and get
reelected or stick to the center like Clinton did and get reelected that
way. What`s the smart move for the president?

You`re watching HARDBALL and we will be back at 7:00 with the big
debate only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Stocks kicking off a new quarter with a big sell-off. The Dow Jones
industrials plunging 258 points. The S&P 500 tumbled 32. And the Nasdaq
taking the biggest hit, down 79 points. Greece is admitting that it will
miss deficit targets, despite harsh new austerity measures, bringing it
closer to default. That news overshadowed a solid uptick in U.S.
manufacturing in September and that led to more production and more hiring.

And construction spending rebounded in August as outlays for state and
local government projects kicked in. In stocks, chipmakers took a beating
on a report showing soaring demand for tablet P.C.s being offset by slowing
demand in other areas. American Airlines` parent company AMR shares were
halted several times in the midst of a 33-point plunge on rumors that it
could be heading for bankruptcy. And an airline trade group said the
entire industry may be heading for a downturn.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the political world is waiting for Chris Christie, the governor
of New Jersey, to decide whether to run for president or not, and according
to NBC News sources, we may have word as early as Wednesday, so it`s
getting close. Christie`s got Republican establishment types rushing for
him to run in a field of competitors which has been described as weak.

Every reason to run, but what are the reasons Chris Christie wouldn`t
run?

John Feehery is a Republican strategy and he joins us.

John, I`m trying to think. I like the guy, so I`m trying to figure
out what`s good for him and good for the country. My sense is, he will
have a very good hour or two once he announces, and then he will be in a
very, very tough situation, because he`s for gun control, he`s for civil
unions, he believes man has contributed to the climate change. All these
will cause him trouble with the base of the Republican Party. He may have
to do some dueling with people right from the start.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Chris, no one`s going to
give this to Chris Christie. And that`s why if he`s going to run, he`s got
to get in. Time`s a wasting, because the Rick Perry forces, the Mitt
Romney forces, they`re going to attack him. Herman Cain`s already attacked
him.

Listen, he`s got a record. He`s got a lot of positions that a lot of
the Republican base doesn`t like. But he`s such a big figure, he`s such an
authentic figure that people like him and they want him to get in, but, you
know, no one gives you this job. You have got to run for it.

MATTHEWS: Do you think -- you know, I use this term very carefully.
He`s a real pisser. He`s really a guy who loves to fight with people and
he enjoys the combat of daily life. I`m sure he enjoys back and forth with
cab drivers, if he still gets around in town. I`m not saying -- being
gross about it, but just enjoying that back and forth.

Do you think his natural love of that sport of just back-and-forthing
it, you know, being mouthy, which is very attractive to certainly my family
back -- and Jersey people I spent some time with yesterday, they like him,
Republicans in Jersey.

Is that going to sell out in the boonies, where people are much more
gun-oriented, much more driven by religion, driven by those values, rather
than just personality? Or will they like his personality?

FEEHERY: Chris, I think people are so frustrated with government at
the local, state, and federal level that they want someone big to take it
on. They want that kind of brassy personality to take on the unions,
especially in the Republican base.

And I do think that it will translate beyond New Jersey, but, you
know, we don`t know what we don`t know about Chris Christie`s record,
especially in the rest of the country. So, you know, we don`t know if it`s
going to translate. It didn`t really particularly translate well for Rudy
Giuliani, who had the same kind of tough outlook on life and tough angle
and tough, you know, talk.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FEEHERY: So we will see. You know, it`s been a long time since
someone from New York kind of translated that well across the country.

MATTHEWS: You know, Todd, I would love to be a politician like this
guy, but I don`t know how long I can get away with it. I can`t imagine
being a Democratic version, for example, of this fellow and getting away
with it.

Tad Devine, you`re joining us now and you`re on the Democratic side.

Could a Democrat get away with being this politically incorrect and
having fun with people, taking on callers and trashing people because you
just want to -- you don`t like the questions they ask?

TAD DEVINE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No, Chris, I don`t think he could.

Listen, I think it`s a thin line between someone who`s authentic and
tough and being a bully, and Christie`s getting close to that line. But I
think he`s smart enough to know that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So why do people like him, then? Wait a minute, 54 percent
in Jersey right now.

DEVINE: Sure. Sure. I think people like the fact that he is being
blunt, that he looks like he`s taking on problems. But I think he has to
realize that, to run for president, the process`s very difficult. It`s
enormously front-loaded. Getting on the ballot in states is very
difficult. Fund-raising at $2,500 a pop is really tough.

I don`t think there`s time for him to do it and I think they`re smart
enough to figure that out.

MATTHEWS: Who`s he hurt if he gets in? Last question and then I will
be back to John.

Who`s he hurt most? Does he hurt the East Coast version -- is he
another Easterner like Romney, or does he take on the tough-talking guy
from Texas, Perry? Who`s he hurt most if he gets in?

DEVINE: He hurts Romney, and he hurts Romney a lot.

MATTHEWS: OK, what do you think? Is that true, John, from your point
of view?

FEEHERY: No, I don`t -- I don`t think so. I think a lot of the folks
who are not sure where they`re going to go, not really with Romney right
now, I think he fills a void --

MATTHEWS: That`s what he said. That`s what he just said. He said
he hurts Romney because he takes votes away from Romney.

FEEHERY: I don`t think he takes vote away from Romney. I disagree
with that. I think he fills a void that Romney -- people who have not gone
to Romney, yet, you know, they could --

MATTHEWS: I hear you saying the same thing.

Anyway, here`s Cain, by the way, going after the governor of New
Jersey, Chris Christie, on this week, saying crazy stuff. This is where
Herman Cain is crazy. He`s talking about Sharia law in Jersey. Here he
is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This Sharia law business is
crap. It`s just crazy. And I`m tired of dealing with the crazies.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, TV HOST: So, he`s saying that those kind of
fears that you espouse and others are crazy. What do you say to that?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people would infuse
Sharia law in our court system if we allow it. I honestly believe that.
So, even if he calls he crazy, I am going to make sure that they don`t
infuse it little by little by little. I`m sticking to it -- American laws
and American courts, period.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: I think the guy`s getting hungry, John. I think there,
Herman Cain has looked at the numbers. He thinks he`s within fighting
distance of getting to the top. He`s willing to work for every nut case
out there.

There is no Sharia law. The United States court system does not
recognize it in Jersey or anywhere else. To keep saying it is like the old
fluoridation nuts from the `50s. They`re going to put crazy stuff in my
water and turn me into a communist.

I mean, this is paranoid talk. John, I know you may not agree, but
that`s my thought.

FEEHERY: Well, I think there are plenty of other issues to be
worried about with the country. Sharia law is not going to take over the
country. I`m with Chris Christie on this one.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think Cain did that? For the reason I believe
he did, because he thinks he`s got a shot at grabbing enough votes now that
he might actually win this derby.

FEEHERY: Well, I think he actually believes it. I mean, I think
he`s wrong.

MATTHEWS: What`s worse? Complete exploitation of the yahoos or
being with one of them?

I have to go back to Tad -- who`s chuckling at the joy you`re getting
out of this thing.

DEVINE: Well, listen, I think Christie`s remark right there is the
reason he`s popular with, you know, people, a lot of people in the country,
he`s making sense, it`s ridiculous, he dismisses it as such.

But, you know, that`s great for him in a Democratic primary. It`s
not great in a Republican primary. It`s a very conservative contest. The
fact is, when his record and his positions on issues get out there, his
appeal`s going to start to drop. And I think they`re smart enough to
realize that.

MATTHEWS: What would he be like against Obama? Man to man? Head to
head?

FEEHERY: I think he`d beat him.

DEVINE: Listen -- well, you know, I -- I think if Chris Christie
gets into this process and can somehow survive the nominating process, you
know, I think the election -- we`re a long way off from this election. We
have no idea how he`s --

MATTHEWS: In other words, he`d beat him.

FEEHERY: I think he`s --

DEVINE: Right now, we don`t know who`s going to win the election. I
think it`s a long way off.

FEEHERY: I think he seizes the middle, Chris, and I think the right
goes with him. I think he wins the election if he gets the nomination.
The big question is: does he get the nomination. My guess is he probably
doesn`t run.

MATTHEWS: Yes, my guess is that. John, do you agree with that?

You know, I think he`s not going to run, because it`s so close. It`s
three months. But then again, if he ever wants to be president, right now.
That`s what I`d say to him. Give it up if you`re not taking it now, right,
John? Give it up if you don`t take it now.

FEEHERY: You`ve got to run if you`re going to do it. He should have
done it three months ago.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

The next best thing to three months ago is tomorrow morning. Anyway,
I`ve said that before.

Anyway, thank you, John Feehery, and thank you, Tad Devine.

DEVINE: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the predator drone strike Friday that killed the
American-born al Qaeda leader was a military vehicle, but was it legal?
Was it right? I think so, but let`s talk about it.

The Obama administration is getting criticism from interesting side,
the far right, the libertarian right and from the ACLU left. Both
legitimate complaints, but I don`t think they`re going to carry the day.
We don`t like people declaring war on our country.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: My old boss and hero Tip O`Neill recently -- actually, not
recently, was famous for saying, all politics is local. And now a new
Gallup poll shows that pretty much all trust in politics right now is
local. Two-thirds of Americans say they have a fair or great deal of trust
in their local government. Another six in 10 say the same thing about
their state government. It`s a fair cry from how voters feel about federal
government. Only three in 10 trust the U.S. Congress. The Congress is
really low right now.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

In a rare moment of bipartisan support on Friday, Republicans and
Democrats alike praised the strike that took out Anwar al-Awlaki, the
American-born radical cleric in Yemen. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein
and Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, the leaders of the Senate
Intelligence Committee, issued a joint statement commending the move.

They said, quote, "Anwar al-Awlaki posed a significant and imminent
threat to the United States as a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula, and an extremist preacher intent on recruiting radicals inside
and outside this country. Awlaki declared war on the United States and
inspired and planned attacks against us," close quote.

Well, some libertarians argued, however, that as an American citizen,
Awlaki should not have been targeted for assassination without any due
process.

Here was Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Awlaki was born here,
he`s an American citizen, he was never tried or charges for any crimes.
Nobody knows if he ever killed anybody. We know that he might have been
associated with the underwear bomber.

But if the American people accept this blindly and casually, that we
now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he
thinks are bad guys, I think it`s sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, was it legal and was it sad? Does it set a
dangerous precedent?

For that, we`re joined right now by Gary Johnson, the former governor
of New Mexico. He`s currently running for the Republican presidential
nomination.

And, Josh Marshall, the founder and editor of "Talking Points Memo."

Gentleman, thank you for joining us. I said earlier tonight, I
thought it was a good act, an important act for America to defend itself.

Governor, do you agree or not that it was a good thing for us to do
for us to knock this guy out, who`s involved with the underwear bomber,
perhaps operational, certainly propaganda-wise, he was a big part of al
Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula.

GARY JOHNSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris, maybe it was a good
thing to do, but as the president of the United States, I`d have been
really transparent as reasons for doing this. Look, it`s unprecedented
that a U.S. president has targeted for assassination a U.S. citizen. This
has never happened before.

And so, we`re denying him due process of guilt, innocence aside, this
is new precedence being denied due process. And isn`t that the -- kind of
the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution?

MATTHEWS: Well, what would you have done?

JOHNSON: Well, maybe I would have done the same thing but I would
have been really transparent. Look, here is the threat this guy poses.
Here`s what he has done. I am ordering an assassination on this
individual.

MATTHEWS: Put out a press release before you make the attack?

JOHNSON: Well, so he was taken to court. Awlaki`s father asked to
stay that order. And in court, the administration invoked executive
privilege. They weren`t going to -- they weren`t going to let that
information out.

Well, with that precedent, doesn`t that carry on to potentially you
and I at some point? I mean, this --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula working to
attack the United States, encouraging people in the United States,
supporting the underwear bomber -- I don`t think I`m going to slip into
that role.

My question to you is -- I want to go back to what you recommend.
You`re running for president of the United States, Governor. Tell me what
you would have done. Using words like this Latinate words like
transparency -- should he have made an announcement? Is that what you`re
saying? Announce to the world I`m going after Awlaki. By the way, go hide
somewhere, go underground for a while, while I plan my attack on you. That
sounds crazy.

Why would you tell a guy you`re coming to get him?

JOHNSON: No. He issued an assassination order, Chris. So, he said
go --

MATTHEWS: Yes, you don`t announce it.

JOHNSON: Yes. No, he did. He put an assassination order out on
Awlaki a couple years ago. That`s been in place.

But why did he do that? As an American citizen I`d like to know why
he ordered an assassination on a fellow U.S. citizen. Guilt/innocence
aside, where is the due process?

MATTHEWS: So, OK. Let`s go to Josh Marshall.

Do you have a view on this, Josh?

JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Yes. You know, I don`t think
it`s a problem. I think that when you -- even if you are an American
citizen, when you are levying war against the United States, a lot of the
protections of American citizenship go by the wayside. I think that`s both
logical and I think there is a lot of judicial precedence for that as well.

This is not a case where -- you know, this is not someone you can
easily go and arrest. I don`t see the argument that you -- the United
States can`t do anything besides actually go in with some sort of SWAT team
and arrest him just because he`s an American citizen.

So, I think both on the merits, legally speaking, again, I think this
is someone who is a key leader in an organization that is levying war
against the United States. I think legally by that measure it`s
permissible. And again, I think logically and practically, I think you
have to have -- you have to explain what the other course of action would
be.

If this -- if he was actually still in New Mexico, and he was doing
this, and it was practical to arrest him, I think that would be preferable.
Do I think it is illegal or constitutionally a problem that they did it
this way? No, I really don`t. And I agree you can come up with these sort
of reductio ad absurdum type arguments that, you know, next they`re going
to decide that, you know, you kind of gave Obama a hard time on TV last
night and they`re going to take you out.

But, you know, I don`t think that is a -- I don`t think that is a
credible analogy. I think, one thing that I do think is very important
here is that what I understand at least is this was an explicit
presidential directive. I do think given the issues tied to taking any
kind of action like this toward an American citizen, it`s important that
the U.S. president signs a document, makes a finding.

MATTHEWS: A finding. Thank you so much. I think that was Gary is
saying.

Governor, thank you. I think you were saying the same thing.
Governor, thank you so much for joining us.

Josh Marshall you want transparency.

When we return let me finish with the subject of our big show coming
up an hour from now. Should President Obama campaign from the left as his
base would certainly like with a lot of passion or should he aim to go for
the center and vote the way Clinton did and got re-elected in `96.

You`re watching HARDBAL, with a big one coming up in an hour only on
MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" with this -- tonight, at 7:00 Eastern, I
want you to stay right here on MSNBC for the great Democratic debate.
Should President Obama run for re-election as a passionate progressive
daring to be called radical by his enemies? Should he shoot the moon like
FDR did back in 1936? Or should he head closer to the center, stake out
common ground with independents, warning against the radicalism of the
right? Should he play it shrewd like Clinton did in `96?

Well, think of the stakes. If he gets it right, he and the Democrats
get four more years to get the economy finally back on track with full
employment again the norm. The country heading forward to greener
pastures, bluer skies, continuing the long, good march for a protected
climate, a more human, more tolerant, fully employed society.

If he blows this election, the Tea Partiers and neocons come roaring
back, emptying out the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise
Institute, erecting statues to Dick Cheney, celebrating the death penalty,
elevating towards it, ending environmental protection as we know it,
breaking unions, punishing gays, starting more wars and enacting one more
giant tax cut for the rich -- or worse.

Can you think of a more important debate? Let`s get on it tonight at
7:00, starting with the great Michael Moore and brilliant Mark Penn. And
second, for the second round of the debate, that`ll be fought by two
serious politicians, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont versus former
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

Sanders is a proud social Democrat, will carry the progressive
banner. Rendell, an unapologetic Clinton ally, will make the case for
moderation in the 2012 race.

In the third round tonight, Joan Walsh of "Slate" will take on
Clarence Page of "The Chicago Tribune." Here, the terrain will be the
Netroots and the newspapers and the networks and how to win the battle
there.

Then we step into history with Doug Brinkley of Rice University
against Sam Tanenhaus of "The New York Times." What does history tell us
about what race President Obama would be smart to run?

That`s the great Democratic debate tonight, one hour from now, right
here on MSNBC.

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

Now, it`s time for "POLITICS NATION" with the Reverend Al Sharpton --
Al.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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