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updated 11/4/2011 9:57:17 AM ET 2011-11-04T13:57:17

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Cynthia Tucker, Ron Christie, Steve McMahon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The third woman.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

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

Leading off tonight: Third woman. Actually, third shoe drops. A
third former employee is accusing Herman Cain now of sexual harassment.
The Associated Press reported late today that a third woman says she
considered filing a complaint against Cain when she worked for him at the
National Restaurant Association back in the 1990s.

According to the report, she says Cain engaged in aggressive and
unwanted behavior, made sexually suggestive remarks to her and invited her
to his apartment. NBC News has not confirmed this report.

Question. Will this latest allegation force Mr. McCain -- or Mr.
Cain, rather, to explain the situation, at least to the satisfaction of his
loyalists? That`s where we start tonight.

Then, the Obama reelection campaign is trying to right those voting
wrongs. They`ve launched a counteroffensive against those new laws passed
by Republicans that make it harder for people to vote.

And more evidence President Obama may finally have the wind at his
back politically. He`s calling out Congress and invoking Ronald Reagan,
and it`s working. His approval ratings are up, and he tops Romney, Cain
and Perry in a new Quinnipiac poll. There`s still a year to go, but it
looks like the Republicans may be blowing their chance, perhaps, to beat
this president.

And it shouldn`t come as a surprise. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it`s, like, Live
free or die! Victory or death! Bring it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Rick Perry is about the only person in the country
who thinks his bizarre speech Friday went well. That`s in the "Sideshow"
tonight.

"Let Me Finish" with the importance of a young president learning from
his mistakes.

We`ll get to the latest with the allegations against Herman Cain, but
we start with his big foreign policy blunder this week. Howard Fineman is
Huffington Post`s editorial director and David Corn is "The Washington
Post" (SIC) bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Both are MSNBC political
analysts.

We`ve got to get to this new development here tonight, Howard. How do
we weigh the fact there`s a third woman? And now we`re getting to me (ph)
a graphic depiction, at least, of what woman is saying. He offered -- "He
asked me to go to the company apartment." I`ll read it (INAUDIBLE) NBC
News hasn`t independently confirmed these allegations, but let me read what
the Associated Press is reporting late this afternoon.

Quote, "A third former employee says she considered filing a workplace
complaint over what she considered aggressive and unwanted behavior by
Herman Cain when she worked for the presidential campaign -- presidential
candidate in the 1990s. She says the behavior included a private
invitation to his corporate apartment. She worked for the National
Restaurant Association when he was its head. She told the Associated Press
that Cain made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time
that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against him.
The employee described situations in which she said Cain told her he had
confided to colleagues how attractive she was and invited her to his
corporate apartment outside work. She spoke on condition of anonymity,
saying she feared retaliation. Cain`s campaign declined to comment."

Howard, sort of a grab bag of charges there, one that would be the
most graphic to most people, propositioned her, said, Come to my corporate
apartment.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, first, let me
say the story on its own is a little thin, by which I mean she didn`t file
any charges.

MATTHEWS: Back in the `90s.

FINEMAN: In the `90s. And she`s not come forth to say who she is.
So that alone -- that story alone would not merit all of the attention
that`s been paid to this issue and Herman Cain over the last 24, 36 hours.

The problem that he`s got is that he has given so many serial and
conflicting and painfully and slowly revealing explanations of where things
are that as this onion keeps being peeled back, no one knows what more is
there, nor do they know when they can really rely on him to be telling the
full story about behavior which in and of itself might be obnoxious, might
have resulted in a settlement, but would not in and of itself destroy his
candidacy.

MATTHEWS: So you think the mere fact that he`s been myriad -- or
rather, that he`s been -- what`s the right word -- discursive, trying to
move around--

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: He`s been more than myriad.

MATTHEWS: Keeps changing the--

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: It`s been more than myriad. First he didn`t remember
anything. Then he starts remembering things. Then it`s a settlement--

MATTHEWS: Well, who does it hurt him with, though? He`s really
appealing to the people in the Republican Party that don`t like Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Let me stipulate one or two things quickly here. First of
all, anything that the mainstream media, and that would include the AP,
throws at a candidate like Herman Cain, who has the strong conservative
Republican support that he has -- for the most part, it`s going to redound
to his benefit because those people don`t -- not only do they not believe
anything in the mainstream press, if it comes from the mainstream press,
they`re going to take it out against the rest (INAUDIBLE) politics.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look what
happened yesterday and the day before. He doubled his fund-raising take
after Politico broke the story initially. I think that there`s a base of
conservative support which is going to stand by him, but -- and that may
help him in Iowa. But if -- if he manages to make it to January 3rd, which
I think is a 50/50 proposition, he still is going to have to convince
Republican voters that he`s the guy who can go up against Barack Obama.

And if this stuff is still hanging over him, if the -- listen, we
still are waiting to see if one of those accusers -- if he or the NRA, the
National Restaurant Association, is going to let her speak. That`s going
to play out through this week, as well.

This story could drag on for weeks, even if there is not a fourth or
fifth or sixth accuser. And I think for some Republican voters, that would
just be too much baggage. He cannot sustain this campaign over the long
run if this isn`t resolved somewhat quickly.

MATTHEWS: But does he remain -- and this is my question -- the victor
of the Western conference? Does he remain the chief conservative
challenger, the chief Tea Party champion in this race?

CORN: No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who overtakes him?

CORN: Listen, I think, you know, whether it`s going to be Rick Perry
or Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich--

MATTHEWS: Wait a minute! Don`t be so casual.

CORN: No, no!

MATTHEWS: Who can overtake this guy, given all of this?

CORN: They will because they`ll be making the case to the Tea Party
types using their language that he cannot--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Name the person you predict will overtake him--

CORN: Name the person?

MATTHEWS: -- because of all this stuff. Who`ll do it?

CORN: I`ll bet you that come New Hampshire, Rick Perry is in a better
position than Herman Cain.

MATTHEWS: OK. You think that`s -- you see that--

FINEMAN: I`m not willing to take that bet. And one reason why I`m
not is that, as I said, attacks by the mainstream media, as it`s viewed by
conservative Republicans, especially one like this one today from the AP--

MATTHEWS: And rush is sticking with him.

FINEMAN: Yes. Now, I have enormous -- I have no -- there`s no higher
respect I have for any news organization than the AP, and I called them to
try to get a comment on this, but we were on deadline.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FINEMAN: I think when you come out with a story where somebody did
not file charges, did not file a civil suit and will not give their name
and saying they were thinking about it -- that`s just the kind of story
that the conservative Republicans will get their back up about--

MATTHEWS: Sure, but--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s some context. On Monday night of this week, Greta
Van Susteren asked Mr. Cain if there would be more women coming forward.
Let`s listen to this response because it sort of sets up what`s been
developed today in the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, "ON THE RECORD": Is there anything else out
there should we -- that we can lay on the table now?

HERMAN CAIN (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To my knowledge, Greta,
no. Remember, I -- there wasn`t even an inkling of a sexual harassment
charge in all of the other jobs that I had all the way up until the time
that I worked for the National Restaurant Association. To my knowledge,
no.

Is it possible that someone is going to make something up? Yes. But
is it going to be credible in terms of there was an actual sexual
harassment case filed? No, because I would have known about it. Is
someone going to step forward and say that I made some inappropriate
comments or acted inappropriately that they could call sexual harassment,
even though they didn`t file a formal complaint? Not to my knowledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, what was that about?

CORN: Oh, you know, he said initially that he didn`t know of any
harassment charges, then he just said, Well, maybe there are some false
charges against me. I think -- regardless of the third woman, I think we
have a story all week long, maybe going to next week, about what the first
two women actually happened. The details have yet to come out. And they
will come out. One way or another, they will come out. And he is going to
have to face those down, and that`s where some of the other Republican
support--

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s -- let`s get back--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- common sense to the average person who watches this. I`m
not saying particularly up-to-date person in terms of workplace rules, but
a regular voter out there, say a 50-year-old voter who will vote for Cain
otherwise.

Doesn`t it matter whether he may have told a joke at work or he tried
to pick up somebody at work sexually, take somebody to an apartment, a
company-owned apartment? Doesn`t that delineation mean much?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t that turn off some of the conservatives?

FINEMAN: Yes, but this is David`s point, which is that we haven`t
heard directly from the women yet. And the way the physics of this things
works, inevitably, we are going to hear from those women.

CORN: It will come out.

FINEMAN: And when we hear from those women, that`s going to be the
moment of judgment for Herman Cain. I don`t know what they`re going to
say. I don`t know how credible they`re going to be. But that question is
going to have to be answered. And he hasn`t helped himself on the truth-
telling front by the peeling-the-onion way he`s gone about this whole
thing.

MATTHEWS: Oh! So when it comes to the final public viewing of this,
the final public--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: But also, you know, the lawyers will speak. We`ll find out how
these sentiments came to be and how--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s look at how it`s combustible already. Let`s take a
look at -- today, there was a lot of pushing and shoving as reporters today
tried to question Cain, and his security detail tried to push the
journalists out the way. "The New York Times" later reported that one
reporter got hit in the face, and this was even before the latest story
broke. Here`s a bit of that exchange today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Let me say one thing. I`m here with these doctors, and that`s
what I`m going to talk about. So don`t even bother asking me all of these
other questions that you all are curious about, OK? Don`t even bother.

QUESTION: It`s a good question though.

QUESTION: But are you concerned about the fact that these women--

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: What did I say?

QUESTION: Are you concerned about--

CAIN: Excuse me. Excuse me!

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: What part of "no" don`t people understand?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know where that`s headed, but it doesn`t look
like a happy day here.

CORN: He`s going to have to come clean, at least in saying these
women should speak. Karl Rove today, who I`m guessing--

MATTHEWS: Who`s trying to bring down Cain.

CORN: -- would like -- no, I think he`d like him to stay in the race
because Karl Rove wants to keep Rick Perry away from the nomination. If
Cain falls out, it helps Rick Perry. So Karl Rove, I think, has an
interest in Cain staying--

MATTHEWS: OK, what about--

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: He has to let the women speak. He has to say, I`m all for
this.

MATTHEWS: That`s very smart. But I`m trying to figure out now -- it
looks like there`s an intramural fight going on right now. He`s now
blaming a Perry--

FINEMAN: Yes, and--

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: There may be some politics within the National Restaurant
Association--

CORN: Oh, yes.

FINEMAN: -- board and staff. That`s a sort of Republican-oriented
lobbying firm. What the motives are of all the people who are on the
board, who were on the board, who they`re supporting, all that`s going to
be sorted out, as well. But I will tell you this. A scene like that with
-- with Herman Cain surrounded by the good doctors and being assaulted,
almost, by the media -- you play that for likely conservative Republican
caucus-goers in Iowa, and they`re going to vote for Herman Cain.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s (INAUDIBLE) The Cain campaign has just issued a
response to the AP story. Quote, "Mr. Cain has said over the past two days
at public events that we could see other baseless allegations made against
him as this appalling smear campaign continues. He has never acted in the
way alleged by inside-the-Beltway media, and his distinguished record over
40 years spent climbing the corporate ladder speaks for itself. Since his
critics have not been successful in attacking his ideas, they are resorting
to bitter personal attacks. Mr. Cain deserves better." That`s the end of
that statement.

I want to get back to something of real policy value here. The other
night, Mr. Cain showed that he did not know something that I think everyone
watching this program knows, which is really kind of profound. He didn`t
know that the red Chinese, as we used to call them back in those days, the
PRC, the People`s Republic -- didn`t know -- didn`t know that they had
nuclear weapons all these years, that they were thinking of developing one.

Cain seemed to try to clean up his China remarks later today. Here`s
-- well, let me give you the earlier one. Here`s the earlier one first,
and then we`ll have his cleanup attempt about nukes since the 1960s. Here
it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I do view China as a potential military threat to the United
States.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS "NEWSHOUR": And what could you do as president to
head that off?

CAIN: My China strategy is quite simply outgrow China. I plan to get
away from making cutting our defense a priority and make investing in our
military capability a priority, going back to my statement "peace through
strength and clarity." So yes, they`re a military threat. They`ve
indicated that they`re trying to develop nuclear capability, and they want
to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to
consider them a military threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today Cain seemed to -- he tried to clean up his
China remarks (INAUDIBLE) trying to show that he already knew they had
nuclear weapons. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I see China as a national security threat. They long for a
military like ours. They`re already testing -- they already basically (ph)
commissioned a brand-new aircraft carrier. They are testing in order to be
able to improve their nuclear arsenal. So for us to think that if we just
stay static that they are going to stop trying to develop their military
might, I think that is naive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, it is -- you know, if somebody said that -- I
think Joe Scarborough said today that Sarah Palin was Averill Harriman
compared to this guy.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That her -- she maybe--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- a sexist attitude that she didn`t have her facts
straight, didn`t know any facts. But this guy comes along and seems to not
have to know anything and be completely ignorant, and nobody holds it
against him.

FINEMAN: Well, here`s -- here`s--

MATTHEWS: There`s a new lower standard here.

FINEMAN: Here`s the thing. You said, Doesn`t need to know -- doesn`t
-- saying doesn`t need to know. What I find fascinating about his
candidacy, and really the tenor of a lot of what the Republican candidates
are saying, including Rick Perry, is they`re saying, We don`t need to know
all those fancy facts.

CORN: Yes.

FINEMAN: We have it in our heart. We have one or two simple things
that we know. Rick Perry knows how to create jobs, he says. Herman Cain`s
got his 9-9-9 plan. We don`t need to know all the rest of that stuff that
those intellectuals know. If I`ve heard Rick Perry say once, I`ve heard
him say a dozen times, Well, that`s an interesting intellectual question.
And Herman Cain said the other day, Well, I`m not going to know about
Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- ought to know about China, China, China.

FINEMAN: Well, of course he ought to know about it! They`re
advertising their ignorance, is what I`m saying!

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: It would be great if he was running for election in 1956. And
you can tell just any time he`s come close to foreign policy, he`s, like,
trying to process index cards. He can`t do it. He doesn`t--

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: We`re living in two different worlds here. The world of
Herman Cain and Rick Perry is one that doesn`t care about the judgments
that we make about who knows what. They think by appealing with heartfelt
emotion to the conservative Republican voters that they`re going to win,
regardless of what the mainstream media and other judges say about them.

MATTHEWS: Remember that guy, Joe Walsh, the Tea Party guy from the
Midwest--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He said -- I said, How do you -- how do you understand
international finance? He said, I`ve raised a family.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: And he didn`t pay any child support, right?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There you have it. Touche! Thank you, Howard Fineman.
Thank you, David Corn.

Coming up: The Obama campaign is fighting back against those
Republican laws that make it harder for, well, Democrats to vote. That`s
ahead.

You`re washing HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Republican senator Marco Rubio was caught embellishing his
family history, but he may not be out as vice presidential running mate.
According to a new Suffolk University poll, if Rubio were on the ticket, 46
percent of Florida voters say they`d vote Republican versus 41 percent who
say they`d vote for Obama and Biden. The poll also showed that without
Rubio on the ticket, the best Republicans could do is run even in Florida.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

Over the past few months, we have been detailing for you how many
Republican-led statehouses across the country have enacted changes to
voting rights laws that could affect many traditionally Democratic voters
to keep them from voting.

But now the Obama campaign is starting to push back. The fighting is
going on now. "The Wall Street Journal" reports today that the Obama
campaign has paired up with many state Democratic parties and to grassroots
organizations to educate voters and to challenge these new laws.

Ohio is the first state where the Obama camp has had luck pushing
back. The campaign won a temporary suspension of Ohio`s new law which
would have shortened the window for early voting, you see it that there, by
more than half for in-person voting and nearly half for absentee voting by
mail.

So will the Obama campaign`s new counterstrategy work?

We have joining us right now Senator Sherrod Brown. He`s the
Democratic senator from the state of Ohio. Also joining me right now is
Cynthia Tucker, who will be on in a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, Senator.

Tell me what`s going on in Ohio in terms of what the Republicans were
up to and what you have been able to do to stop them.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Sure.

First off, congratulations on your JFK book. That`s exciting.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

BROWN: I heard you on the radio talking yesterday.

Well, last fall, the elections, as you know, were about lost jobs as
they should have been because people in Ohio and every other place almost
in the country are very anxious about the economic situation, but since the
election, it`s all been in state after state, and Ohio especially, they
have gone after bargaining rights, collective bargaining rights. That will
be on the ballot next week in Ohio because you can do what`s called a
referendum to roll back a law passed by the legislature if the voters -- if
you get enough signatures and if the voters vote that way.

We`re doing the same on voting rights, and they went after worker
rights. They went after bargaining rights, they went after voting rights,
they went after women`s rights in Ohio. And so the second petition, an
issue that will be on the ballot a year from now is on voter rights, and
there were lots and lots of volunteers. The state party was involved.

A lot of Obama volunteers were involved in the state and the president
was involved, but mostly it was a grassroots effort and an effort in Ohio
to sound the alarm. And I would just invite people to help us sound the
alarm in Ohio and nationally.

Come to SherrodBrown.com, come to my Web site, sign up to help us
sound the alarm about this rollback in voting rights. We haven`t seen this
in this country I think in 30 or 40 years, where after we have made this
progress -- and Republicans were helpful in these better more progressive
voting rights a decade ago, and now they want to roll them back because
it`s all part of this ideological mission they have.

MATTHEWS: Let`s get it straight in terms of the facts.

Ohio, they were trying to shorten the number of days that you could
vote ahead of time and also shorten the number of votes you could offer by
mail or in person. You have not gotten that on the ballot. They have to
pass affirmatively next November a ballot measure to shorten the number of
days you can vote.

Why would voters ever vote to limit the amount of times they could
vote -- or how often they could show up to vote?

BROWN: Well, because Republicans -- I don`t think they will in the
end. But Republicans will spend a lot of money next year in the November
election when it`s actually on the ballot.

The signatures were gathered this fall. They were gathered too late
to go on the ballot this year because it was -- the bill was passed late.
The new law -- the new rollback of voter rights doesn`t happen until after
November 2012, if the voters vote that way.

But I think you`re right. I think most voters are going to think, why
would we roll back voter rights? And Republicans have created this myth
around the country that there`s been vote fraud committed by individual
voters voting twice, using fake I.D., things like that.

Voters -- the real vote fraud in this country, when it happens, it
hasn`t happened that often, but when it happens, it`s by jimmying a
computer, it`s by transportation of ballots. Voters don`t vote five times
to try to -- to try to turn an election. You`re too likely to get caught,
and you`re not going to change an election by voting multiple numbers of
times or by voting under a different name.

So the real vote fraud is not that. The Republicans want -- they have
had a campaign, you know this, Chris, for years where they try to depress
voter turnout in low income areas, especially minority areas, and that`s
what they are trying to do here and it`s outrageous.

That`s why I`m encouraging people to come on SherrodBrown.com and sign
up and be involved fighting back in every state where they`re trying this.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. It`s great having you on, Senator Sherrod
Brown, Democrat from Ohio.

BROWN: You, too, Thanks, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

Anyway, joining us right now to talk about the Obama campaign`s
efforts in this regard and trying to prevent any changes in voting rights
laws around the country is Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning political
columnist and now a visiting professor at the University of Georgia.

Cynthia, so much it means to have -- I reversed my sentence. It means
so much to have you on.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Getting a little tired these days.

Let me ask you about the -- everybody knows what`s going on, right?
This isn`t complicated. When you shut the window down, you reduce it down
by half of when you can vote ahead of time, I -- because I`m on the road
covering elections, I have to go vote in Rockville.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Right.

MATTHEWS: And they have a little office you go in to, you ask for
your ballot and you vote ahead of time. Some people do it by mail. And if
you can`t do it oftentimes you can`t vote, because you will be out of town.

TUCKER: Well, Chris, it happens that I remember a time when
Republicans liked early voting.

MATTHEWS: Yes, the people who went on vacation trips.

TUCKER: They liked it because they thought it served their middle-
class constituents.

When did they become unhappy with early voting? After 2008. The
Obama campaign, we all remember, was extremely well-organized, and one of
the things they did was to encourage their voters to go to the polls early.
They did. After Obama took advantage of early voting, suddenly Republicans
say, oops, need to cut back that early voting.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know why I think this is getting to be important?
It is not just about good government. I`m beginning to think over the last
two weeks, with my own brain calculating these things, is Obama will still
probably win by a squeaker. He will not win by a landslide. It`s too
tough, the economy.

TUCKER: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: So he is going to win by picking up Ohio, we just talked
about, or holding on to North Carolina.

But the Republicans for a while there this summer looked like they
could pull off a big landslide, things were so bad they were going to win
big. I think that`s probably not going to happen. It`s a squeaker in
either direction next year.

TUCKER: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And that`s why picking up a few points by restricting
voting access, they can squeak it their way.

TUCKER: Absolutely. All you need in the battleground states is to
shave off a few votes, a few votes of college students, for example.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You tell them they can`t vote on campus.

TUCKER: Exactly. Or tell them you can`t use your college I.D. It
has their photo. It`s an official photo I.D.

MATTHEWS: Good enough for booze.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: But they have said you can`t use it to vote.

MATTHEWS: Right. Right.

TUCKER: So you shave off a few votes in battleground states and it
could turn the election their way.

MATTHEWS: It`s great having you here as my colleague. You`re coming
to the book party tonight.

TUCKER: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You are coming.

TUCKER: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Cynthia Tucker.

Up next, so what did Rick Perry think of his bizarre speech, you know,
that crazy speech all over the place this past Friday? Well, that`s coming
up in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We`re all in agreement. When it comes to debates, Rick Perry is not
in his element. Well, today he reminded us of this. Take a look at what
he said last night on the topic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hate debates like I
used to hate spinning in an aircraft, T-37s. Then I finally did it and did
it and did it, and I got pretty good at it. So hold on. Maybe I will get
better at debates to.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Looks like he`s turned that into some kind of talking
point.

But then there`s the speech he gave in New Hampshire this past weekend
that still has people talking, in fact asking, is there some inner Rick
Perry trying desperately to get out?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: The good news is that little plan that I just shared with you
doesn`t force the Granite State to expand your tax footprint, if you know
what I mean, like 9 percent expansion.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as it turns out, Perry found the appearance to be
anything but a campaign misstep. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: It was a great crowd, good response, and -- and, you know, I
guess you can do anything you want with a video and make it look any way
you want, but I felt good, felt great. I think the message got across very
well, so it was a good speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And good for a psychiatrist to study.

Up next: As the Republicans flatline, President Obama is enjoying a
nice bounce in the polls. He`s taking on Congress, invoking Ronald Reagan,
and it seems to be working numerically. We have got more evidence tonight
that the president may finally have found the wind to be at his back.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."

A solid rebound after two days of steep declines. The Dow Jones
industrials adding 178 points, the S&P gaining 18, and the Nasdaq up 33
points. Today`s gains coming despite the Federal Reserve slashing its
growth and employment forecast and ongoing uncertainty about Greece and the
Eurozone bailout. The Fed is predicting a slower recovery and slower job
growth, but says it`s standing by with more help for the housing industry,
if needed.

It looks like European leaders are taking a hard line with Greece over
its decision to hold a bailout referendum. They won`t release the next
round of aid until after the vote and say a no-vote will result in a Greek
bankruptcy.

In stocks, Comcast, the parent company of CNBC and MSNBC, topped
profit expectations, adding 229,000 new customers. And MasterCard hit an
all-time high after beating earnings estimates. Its shares are up about 50
percent this year, a rare feat in the struggling financial sector.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Obama is keeping the pressure on Republicans and calling on
them to pass the pieces of his jobs ball, one by one, in fact. Today, at
the Key Bridge Marriott -- actually, it was the Key Bridge here in
Washington, Obama says the transportation piece of his Americans Job Act is
something even Ronald Reagan would support.

And there`s a rumbling among some conservative leaders that they would
rather lose to Obama in 2012 than have Romney stick around for eight years.

These are the topics for our strategists tonight. Number one, Obama
goes on offense saying even Reagan would support his efforts. Will this
strategy work? Number two, no love for Romney. Would conservatives rather
have four more years of Obama than nominate Mitt Romney and have him around
for eight more years?

Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist. Ron Christie is a
Republican strategist up at Harvard.

It`s good to have you from Harvard.

(LAUGHTER)

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks,
Chris.

MATTHEWS: And we have got Steve McMahon, who is still just down here
with the regular people.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: A new Quinnipiac poll has the president`s approval rating
at, catch these numbers while you`re chuckling there, Ron, 47 percent for
the president and 49 percent for his opponent, whoever -- oh, I`m sorry.
That`s approve/disapprove.

It`s a big improvement from last month , when his approval rating was
just 41 and his disapproval 55.

So, I will give you the chance at the beginning. It seems like he`s
done a lot of closure here, bringing it up to even, basically, within the
margin of error.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know what he`s done? He`s
sort of evolved from being the president of the United States to being a
candidate for president of the United States. The reelection campaign has
begun.

And before, he was sitting there in a situation that was more like a
referendum, where people were saying, ah, the president, how is he doing,
do I like the economy? And now he`s trying to turn that into a choice.
And the people when they are presented with a choice are choosing -- more
and more people are choosing the president.

MATTHEWS: Well, today, speaking at the front of the Key Bridge --
that connects, by the way, Washington with Virginia -- here in Washington,
President Obama said even President Reagan would support his jobs plan.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you don`t want to
take my word for it, take it from one of my predecessors, one of the
previous presidents.

He said that -- and I`m quoting here -- "The bridges and highways we
fail to repair today will have to be rebuilt tomorrow at many times the
cost." He went on to say that rebuilding our infrastructure is common
sense -- that`s a quote and -- quote -- "an investment in tomorrow that we
must make today."

That president was Ronald Reagan. Since when do we have Republicans
voting against Ronald Reagan`s ideas?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it, Ron, the president out there
building bridges, saying that the smart thing for us with so many
unemployed out there in the country is to begin working on our public
sector and working on things that are below safety code and need to be
fixed.

What`s your counterargument?

CHRISTIE: Well, my counterargument is I`m glad that he invoked Ronald
Reagan. I think what Reagan said was exactly right.

The truth of the matter, Chris, is that when President Obama came into
office in 2009, the highway bill needed to be reauthorized. It expired in
2009. That is a six-year, multiyear effort to build our roads, bridges, et
cetera. So while the president is attacking Republicans for refusing to go
along with a part of his jobs bill, there are Democrats and Republicans in
the Congress alike who want a six-year reauthorization bill.

We have had this thing punted, several extensions. The most recent
one is going to expire in March of next year. We need six years so our
governors and our mayors and our elected officials at the local level can
actually put the federal money to use to rebuild the bridges and roads.

So, rather than going out there and campaigning--

MATTHEWS: So you`re with the general principle of -- you`re in the --
you`re with the president on the general principle of creating jobs through
road building and bridge fixing? You`re with him?

CHRISTIE: I am, but only if it`s done -- I`m -- only if it`s done on
a multiyear effort, because mayors and governors will tell you that if you
do this on a piecemeal, month-by-month basis, they can`t plan for it and
they can`t allocate the money.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CHRISTIE: So President Obama needs to step up and push for a
multiyear effort, Chris.

MATTHEWS: So, you want more. You`re loving it to death. You want
more of what Obama is promising.

Let`s listen to what Joe Scarborough said this morning because I`ve
had this hunch for a while. Interesting point. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, "MORNING JOE": I`m hearing something remarkable over
the past week. I`m hearing conservatives, stalwart conservatives, starting
to say, you know what? I would rather lose to Barack Obama, I would rather
give him four more years than elect Mitt Romney and have him spend money
like George Bush and have another Republican who promises to be
conservative go liberal.

Conservative leaders this week, it`s like a light switch has come on,
and they say you know what? Fine. We would rather lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Are you hearing what Joe Scarborough is hearing, a lot of
people on the right would rather bash Obama around for the next years than
have to defend a moderate big spender as they see it in Mitt Romney -- Ron
Christie?

CHRISTIE: What in the heck is he talking about? Look, I love
Scarborough, I do. Maybe he needs to get out of New York and actually
travel around the country and talk to conservatives.

MATTHEWS: Like up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the real people
are up at Harvard?

CHRISTIE: Exactly, where I think I have a caucus of one, Chris.

Look, I`ll tell you what. I look at his comments and I think that the
one thing that does unify the Republican Party is our opposition to this
president, his policies and the direction for the country. So, I
absolutely don`t know who Joe is talking to, but no one who I think is in a
position of influence within the Republican Party for what their vision and
what their ideology is, and that is to remove this president from office.

MATTHEWS: Steve?

MCMAHON: First of all --

MATTHEWS: Do you buy Scarborough`s argument? I think Rush Limbaugh
would rather bash this guy for four years than try to defend some weak
noodle ideologically in the middle?

MCMAHON: Yes, certainly better for his ratings, but the other thing
that you can see in the polling data and you`ve been able to see it
consistently is that Mitt Romney has a problem. And his problem is that 75
percent of the voters in the Republican primary don`t want him as the
nominee.

He`s got -- you`ve talked about this before. He`s got a ceiling of
about 25 percent and we go through this rotating list of characters and the
people who are going to be the alternative to Mitt Romney and then they --

MATTHEWS: I think Herman Cain is the ultimate test. Would you rather
have him with all these problems than Mitt Romney, and they would? That
means they really don`t like Mitt Romney.

You`re great, Ron. Keep up your studies up there. I don`t know what
course you`re taking, but you`re getting all that inside intellectualism.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: I`m teaching.

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry.

CHRISTIE: I`m teaching, dispensing wisdom to the youth of America.

MCMAHON: How is that going?

MATTHEWS: I`m sure they are benefiting. And I mean that.

Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Steve McMahon.

Put me in your class, maybe I`ll learn something.

Up next, Joe Scarborough and I had a great conversation on "Morning
America" -- I`m sorry, on "MORNING JOE" -- about my new book, "Jack
Kennedy: Elusive Hero." I really like the way he went after this book.
I`m so proud of my book and I`m so proud of my colleague and the way he
knew just right to talk about.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a hot issue being taken up by Congress. The
House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to affirm "In God We Trust"
as the official motto of the United States. Never mind that the Congress
won`t pass the president`s jobs bills or that Eric Cantor promised to
prevent votes that weren`t substantive or meaningful. He made good on that
promise earlier in the year when the House never bothered to honor troops
who killed Osama bin Laden like the Senate did.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

My new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," which came out yesterday,
is certainly something I`m immensely proud of writing and I have to answer
the question, or tried to throughout the book, what was Jack Kennedy like
in person? What was it like to be with him, to hang out with him?

Well, this morning on "MORNING JOE," my colleague Joe Scarborough and
I had a great conversation, really the best so far.

Let`s listen to some of that this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH: Guys like you and me grow up reading biographies of
presidents, and I spent so much -- so much time reading about the Kennedys.
I can`t believe though some of the things that you pull out here. And I
wrote a couple of things down really quickly. Jackie saying that Jack`s
mother never loved him.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: Bitterly.

You drawing out that Bobby was the essential cog in the Kennedy
machine, the go-between between his old man and JFK. Ben Bradley, that
moment after West Virginia where Jackie is abandoned by Jack.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you remember that.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it`s just incredible. And some shocking things.
The old man getting it so wrong on Hitler, and yet also being against the
Marshall Plan because he thought communism in Europe would be good for his
business. And then -- and then this remarkable relationship between
Kennedy and Nixon.

MATTHEWS: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: You talked to Haldeman right before he died, and he
said, "I never got how these two guys had this affinity, this closeness
that the world never understood." There`s so much in here.

MATTHEWS: You`re so wonderful laying it out there. I`m glad --
because you`re an expert and the junkie like me about politics, and I
thought I couldn`t penetrate to the real Jack, and I said to myself I want
to find out what he was like. If you or I knew him or spending three or
four hours on an airplane with him, or in a room with him somewhere, middle
of the night drinking together, what would he be like then? And I killed
myself to find out what he was like in school, to be a classmate at Choate,
and what he was like in the Navy, way out in the middle of nowhere. What
was it like to have Jack Kennedy as your buddy out there, and that`s what I
went for.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, Chris, you talk about Choate -- it`s
heartbreaking really, and for a country that grew up loving all the
Kennedys, Rose Kennedy, it really is heartbreaking to read that this is a
mother that never visited him in Choate --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: -- when he had these horrible bouts with one disease
after another, mystery diseases. Really, the man was defined by the fact
that, as Jackie said to Teddy White right after he died, he had a mother
that never loved him.

MATTHEWS: He was a lonely kid, and I guess they had that sort of --
she also had a lot of other kids but, you know, Jackie made that point to
Teddy White in that first interview after Dallas and said his mother never
loved him. She liked being the mayor`s daughter, the ambassador`s wife,
she never loved him.

And then I got this story from his classmate. He said he was
absolutely remarkable at Choate, how the mother never once in four years
came to visit her son even when he thought he had leukemia. I mean, here`s
a mother getting phone calls, what`s your blood count? He`s thinking he`s
dying and nobody comes to see him.

And Jackie had that right. Now, some of that is mother-in-law to
daughter-in-law, but Jackie said he was a lonely kid who all his who all
his life, especially in his youth, was all alone out there, reading books
of heroes. He was always sick. I think he had the record at Choate for
most times in the infirmary. He was always going off to Chelsea Hospital
or Boston Baptist.

He was away for the longest time, sick and alone, reading history, and
becoming a lover of history. First, King Arthur, then Winston Churchill.
He`s 14 years old and he read Churchill`s entire history of World War I.
He read "The New York Times" every day in school. He got it by mail, I
guess, and analyzed article after article. He was a self-made guy.

SCARBOROUGH: And, Chris, what a great quote when Jackie said history
made Jack.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: Because he was so alone. He was lying in a hospital bed
and infirmary so often.

Also fascinating, you explain how he goes up to Choate as the second
son.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: In the shadow of the remarkable Joe Junior, who you
reveal wasn`t so remarkable after all. A great line in there is how
observers said John Kenneth Galbraith said, Joe Junior started every
sentence with "Dad says".

MATTHEWS: Father said, like old world, there was just father says --
what a replicate he was, and yet Jack was this -- anybody`s a second son or
second daughter knows what I`m talking about. You`ve got to be a little
original. You`ve got to be a little rebellious. And he was.

He was very much like the character in "Brideshead Revisited," that
character, Sebastian. This guy Charles Ryder, the guy who comes back and
has older brother`s a straight arrow, does everything right, everything the
parents love, he`s almost one of the parents. And here`s this young Jack
trying to make his name. He`s not a jock.

You know, Jean Kennedy, his last surviving sibling said the same thing
that Jackie said right after he was killed. She said the key to Jack was
he was always so sick, he was always reading history, and becoming sort of
an intellectual that separated him from the rest of the family, who were
largely jocks. You know?

SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it.

So, could you explain -- he gets into Congress in `46, he and Nixon --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: -- are fellow classmates and they immediately had an
affinity towards each other, and Nixon was taken aback, this son from a
powerful East Coast family comes up and is effusive in his praise. He had
a real affinity for this guy.

MATTHEWS: Jack always would be the kind of guy who would want to roam
with the quarterback. He`d always want to hang out with the top jock at
school. In case -- this case, Nixon was the star of that class in `46.
Nixon came having beaten Jerry Voorhis, was a big New Deal star from
California.

And Kennedy didn`t care how he beat him when he beat him. He said
that was like beating John McCormick up in Massachusetts. They had their
first debate in 1947. They went out and took the train out to western
Pennsylvania, in McKeesport, a steel town. It was a booming town then.
They had this great debate, which really showed in the book who they were.
They actually never changed.

And what I really like in his story because you and I know about
politicians, and how they really are behind in the cloakrooms, between the
parties when they`re normal people, and they had hamburgers together at the
Star Diner. They get the midnight train back to Washington together,
Capitol Limited. They flip a coin or whatever for the top bunk. It`s like
"North by Northwest" with a somewhat different ending, of course.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And Kennedy is on the top bunk. Nixon wins the toss, he
gets the bottom bunk. All through the night, these two young guys who had
been in a war together, both in the South Pacific Navy, talked about this
coming struggle with the Soviet Union. And they were both cold warriors,
even though we didn`t know the Cold War, Bernard Baruch hadn`t come up with
it -- for two weeks later, he came out with it.

And they talk about how they`re going to have to fight this new
struggle, having just won the war in the South Pacific. It`s an amazing
story of generations emerging, the young officer corps replacing the old
generals like Eisenhower. And imagine that scene of these two guys on the
bunk in the top. I mean, they ought to make a movie of this, the real
story of Jack Kennedy.

SCARBOROUGH: They really should.

MATTHEWS: I would want that in there. Definitely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: The name of my book, of course, is "Jack Kennedy: Elusive
Hero." It`s available in your book stores or Amazon. I mean, I really
want you to buy this book. It`s about our country. It`s going to make you
feel really good about, well, a progressive leader actually, Jack Kennedy.
Go to Facebook/Hardball.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with something President Kennedy did
and President Obama should do, I think.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:

In the wake of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, when Cuban exiles backed by
the CIA hit the beaches of their own country only to face defeat, Jack
Kennedy took personal responsibility for the disaster. Quote, "I`m the
responsible officer of the government," he said. He then got his highest
approval ratings of his presidency, 83 percent in the Gallup poll.

What`s wrong with President Obama admitting that the stimulus bill he
won from Congress in 2009 didn`t do what it promised? Give the reasons,
but include the nature of the miscalculation. Otherwise, the prediction by
his chief economic adviser of an under 8 percent jobless rate is going to
trail him right through next fall`s debates.

It`s easy to spot the leader in any situation. He or she is the one
who deserves to take the lead, because he or she is the one who takes the
heat. Anyone disagree with that?

I once heard Arthur Schlesinger say that politics is a learning
profession. A young leader like Obama would do well to show he`s learning.
And the only way I know to do that is to learn from what hasn`t worked.
It`s how you build confidence that your leadership is going to be better in
the future.

Kennedy made a lot of mistakes in his handling of the Bay of Pigs in
1961, most particularly in is overreliance on his inherited advisers. A
year later, he was older and wiser, shown aerial photographs of Soviet
nuclear missile sites in Cuba, Kennedy asked for options. When the joint
chiefs called for either an air strike on the missile strikes or a full-
scale invasion, he resisted. He relied instead on a naval quarantine of
any new nuclear equipment then, and he also tied it to eventual secret
negotiations with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

The Soviet chairman would say in his memoirs that this was precisely
his intention, by the way, even if only one or two big ones were left, we
would still hit New York and there wouldn`t be much of a New York left. In
other words, if Kennedy had attack Cuba, Khrushchev would have hit missiles
into New York. By the way, it would have made a lot of force of will, it
took a lot of force of will to top that from being a nuclear catastrophe.

No one is going to believe President Obama is learning unless he seems
to be learning. Nobody is going to believe the second Obama term is going
to be better than the first unless Obama lets it be known that he`s learned
from his mistakes in the first term. And that`s common sense.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


END
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