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updated 11/4/2011 3:15:21 PM ET 2011-11-04T19:15:21

Guests: Jackie DeAngelis, Chris Cillizza, Alex Burns, Dana Milbank, Bob Shrum, Ron Reagan, Joan Walsh, Clarence Page, James Grimaldi


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Saving Cain.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

Leading off tonight: damage control. Let`s see how far Herman Cain`s
responses to that sexual harassment story have evolved in just one day.
First from, The story is false, to, There were allegations but they were
false, to, I don`t know if any money was paid, to, I don`t know anything
about an investigation, to, Here`s the gesture I made that led to the
allegation, to, Why, yes, I remember a discussion of a settlement.

If you want a lesson on how to keep a story alive, Herman Cain just
gave it to us.

The abrupt turns in the Cain story are just the latest embarrassment,
however, to Republicans thrown on the defensive. They`ve got Rick Perry`s
flops, they`ve got Mitt Romney`s flip-flops, they`ve got Michele Bachmann`s
collapse, and Republicans are now openly worried that they may ultimately
blow this thing. Is it possible that this clown show -- and I use it
advisedly -- may hand the election to Barack Obama?

And look who`s become President Obama`s most important political
partner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She`s doing what no one else
on the Democratic side is doing openly and forcefully, defending the
president.

And if you don`t have anything nice to say, former Bachmann campaign
manager Ed Rollins has more harsh words for his one-time candidate. That`s
in the "Sideshow" tonight.

And my new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," which I`m enormously
proud of, comes out today to book stores and to Amazon. "Let Me Finish"
with a key lesson for President Obama that he could learn from President
Kennedy.

We begin with Herman Cain`s spin cycle, if you will. Alex Burns
writes for Politico, which is the organization that broke this story, and
Dana Milbank is a columnist for "The Washington Post."

Let me go to you, of course, Alex. First of all, this whole thing --
I want you to look now -- Americans for Herman Cain, the Cain super-PAC,
just sent out a fund-raising e-mail -- there it is. The subject line,
quote, "Don`t let the media lynch another black conservative."

Now we`re getting that particular spin, if you will. We`re getting a
little less information as time goes on today about what were the charges.
We may never get the information there. How does this evolve politically,
say, if you`re looking at it from the outside, as you are? Right now,
looking at the story, does this die of atrophy? Does it not affect the
conservative voters who are voting in these primaries and caucuses? What?
What`s your take?

ALEX BURNS, POLITICO.COM: Well, Chris, Herman Cain has now had two
full days to try to clear up the questions surrounding this story. And I
think, as you detailed just now, he has left, in a lot of ways, more
questions than answers. So I think until we get some more clarity on
exactly what kind of settlement he may have been aware of, or why he first
said he wasn`t aware of one, then later sort of miraculously remembered
that he was aware of some financial details of an agreement with one of the
women--

MATTHEWS: Yes, but let me get to a tougher point. Let me ask you a
tougher point as a journalist. I know that`s the story that we`d like to
get information -- we`re curious. But let me ask you the toughest question
in the business. So what? Does this affect his voting base? Does this
affect the people on the right side of the Republican Party who have to
pick a nominee to beat Mitt Romney? Does this affect them, that you can
tell?

BURNS: Well, I think that Herman Cain, more than any other candidate
in this race, has staked his campaign on his personality and his character.
And I think we`re going to see in the next round of polls and his next trip
to Iowa at the end of this week whether voters are still having the same
response to him that they did a week ago.

MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a character issue here, meaning, like,
does it say he`s a good guy or a bad guy, as opposed to -- he certainly did
something that caused people to bring these allegations. Would you say
you`re sure? Is there an undercurrent of a story that reporters haven`t
reported yet that suggests a real character problem?

BURNS: Well, a number of Republicans I`ve spoken to in the last day
have said that whatever may have happened back in the 1990s that resulted
in those settlements at the National Restaurant Association, what raises
questions for them now is the fact that Cain can`t seem to get his facts
straight on what happened, which raises questions, certainly, about
honesty.

MATTHEWS: Yes, about the ability to speak in public, too. He`s
always been -- Dana, my friend, he`s always been really smart about how to
use his brains. I mean, the guy`s a smart guy. He knows how to get a
point across. He hasn`t seem to have decided on whether he knows something
that makes him look better than this story, or the story right now is
probably better than reality. That`s what we don`t know.

DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": Right, Chris. I mean, I think if
you look through the -- sort of the usual prism, this has been a PR
disaster. I mean, this is textbook in how you don`t deal with one of these
things.

But I don`t think that we can look at Herman Cain through this typical
prism, and that is the people supporting him are supporting him precisely
because he`s not like everybody else in this race--

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MILBANK: -- particularly Mitt Romney, particularly Barack Obama.
That`s why he`s using this for fund-raising. That`s why his campaign says,
and I think it`s plausible, he raised a quarter million dollars off of this
last night. People are going to rally -- his supporters are going to rally
to his defense simply because it`s perceived as the media, as the elites
going after him.

MATTHEWS: So they don`t -- you`re saying that his people give him the
benefit of the doubt. They don`t think--

MILBANK: More than that--

MATTHEWS: -- he did something really -- that really brings down his
character or not, that he`s not a sexual bully or something like that. You
don`t think they believe that.

MILBANK: No. I mean, if he were to admit that he`d been sexually
harassing women and men, perhaps that might change things. But in this
sort of story, people are just going to--

MATTHEWS: What did you just say?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re being flippant, right?

MILBANK: No, I`m not, Chris. If somebody were to bring out something
that would question his conservative -- social conservative bona fides,
that`s one thing.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MILBANK: But if it`s this sort of thing -- the people -- the 25
percent of Iowans who are supporting Herman Cain do not care about these
sexual harassment allegations.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take--

MILBANK: I think we can say that with confidence.

MATTHEWS: Well, that -- well, we`ll see. I think Alex has got a good
point, too. Let`s look at the polling. I`m not sure it`s going to move
down or up. Here`s Cain`s story on whether or not there was a settlement,
meaning money paid to his accusers, and that story seems to have evolved.
Well, make your own judgment. Let`s listen to what he`s been saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the restaurant
association did a settlement, I am not even -- I wasn`t even aware of it.

I am unaware of any sort of settlement. I hope it wasn`t for much
because I didn`t do anything.

I was aware that an agreement was reached. The word "settlement"
versus the word "agreement" -- you know, I`m not sure what they called it.

Yes, there was some sort of settlement or termination, and I don`t
even know what the contents of that was.

We ended up settling for what would have been a termination
settlement, three months` salary or something like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Alex. It seems to me that he`s a businessman.
He`s like Mitt Romney, used to dealing with the business press, Alex, not
with us, OK? It`s a different kettle of fish.

I was just talking to Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant, who said
that the business press can simply issue a statement and move on. With the
political press, we`re not satisfied with that. Isn`t that a fair estimate
of this guy`s inability to deal with something which has become a ball of
wax for this guy, if that`s the right word?

BURNS: Well, sure, Chris. And I would point out that for most of
this year, Cain has learned from the political press in his experience as a
lower-tier presidential candidate, that if you mess up verbally but keep
talking, you can usually talk your way out of it.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BURNS: That`s what he -- that`s how he handled it when he said at
first that he wouldn`t want Muslims in his cabinet, then backtracked on
that. That`s how he tried to handle just last month some muddled
statements that he made about his position on abortion.

This is a much more serious issue because it involves legal questions,
it involves character questions. It`s not just a matter of how did you
answer a question about Muslims in your cabinet--

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`re smart.

BURNS: -- in a hallway interview.

MATTHEWS: It`s like, he can`t keep erasing the blackboard and
starting over. Dana Milbank, you`re a funny guy. I read your column ever
day. I`m not sure this is a funny story, but I`ll tell you, the Republican
Party has had -- we`re going to get to it in the next segment. This is a
revolting development for them. He`s their front-runner right now.
Whatever else we say about the other candidates, they`re not doing as well
as this guy`s done. He`s probably the most successful Republican candidate
this year. And here he is in a mess that he can`t seem to get out of.

Does he not have access to the brains in the Republican Party? Are
they watching him go downhill? Are people like Karl Rove, enjoying this,
Bill Kristol enjoying this because they want a finer, more sophisticated
candidate? Is that what we`re watching here?

MILBANK: Sure. I mean, I think a lot of people will be relieved.
And I doubt very many people Republicans in this town think that with this
scandal or without this scandal that Herman Cain is going to be the
Republican nominee. There`s just too many reasons they don`t want to give
that gift to President Obama.

But this man has shown an ability to weather things, the dramatic
change on abortion, the GITMO, the swapping of terrorists, the electrified
border fence. These sorts of things could have killed any normal
politician, and this man shows an extraordinary ability to hold on, not to
the majority of the electorate but a very substantial portion of it.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s the old question. Who do you want to sit
next to on a long airplane flight? I would still like to meet this guy. I
think Mitt Romney would be somewhat unsurprising. I think the same would
be true of Newt Gingrich or Bachmann. I think this guy would be an
interesting person.

Let me get back to you, Alex, on covering this guy, and his
popularity. You mentioned the polls are going to tell us a lot. Do you
have any kind of horse sense or gut sense, seat of the pants estimate --
are we sure he`s going to go down in the polls? Now, look at what happened
today in fund-raising. This guy had his best fund-raising day ever in the
last 24 hours.

BURNS: Well, Chris, what I would say to that is, I think we`ve
clearly seen, since this story broke Sunday night, that there is a core of
Herman Cain supporters that is totally undeterred by whatever new
information comes out. But I`m not sure that group of people is the full
20 to 25 percent that he`s polling in places like Iowa and South Carolina.
There`s a good number of those people who probably know about as much about
Herman Cain as they did nine months ago, when he was a very, very obscure
political figure. And it`s those folks who are probably going to dictate
exactly how much damage he takes going forward.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well said. Let`s take a look at the -- here Cain
said his campaign was being sabotaged. Now, this is where it plays into
this fund-raising letter. If he`s going to be, or portray himself -- let`s
get that straight -- as another Clarence Thomas, as an African-American
conservative being pilloried by the politically correct press -- I`m sure
that`s how they`re going to portray the people on this side of the world.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Obviously, someone is encouraging them to bring it up now
because I`m doing so well in this Republican nomination. That`s all I
would say. Why are you bringing it up now?

Secondly, are you being used to try and help paint a cloud and help
sabotage my candidacy?

You and I both know why they`re doing it. Because someone does not
like the fact that we are doing so well in this campaign and that I`m at or
near the top of the polls consistently. I absolutely believe that this is
an intended smear campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, Alex. If you found out, without
getting -- as a source for your own organization -- if it was another case
and you found out that one of the campaigns had leaked this against him,
would that become a political story in itself, like it was in the old days
of the attack video in the 1998 campaign?

BURNS: Well, I think that, certainly, if another campaign were to
step forward at this point and attack Herman Cain over this issue, that
would instantly reshape the narrative that we`re dealing with.

MATTHEWS: But what about if they leaked this story? Now, you can`t
say because it`s one of your colleagues. You probably don`t even know
where this story came from. It was broken by J-Mar, by Jonathan Martin.
But let me ask you, do you think it`s a story as to where this story came
from? Is that a legitimate political question to ask, who is putting out
the dirt on somebody else in the Republican Party?

BURNS: I think people are welcome to look into whatever kind of
opposition research the campaigns may or may not be doing. I think it`s
important, Chris, though -- I want to address one thing that Mr. Cain said.
He said this is a smear campaign orchestrated against him. One of the
defining features of a smear campaign is usually that the allegations are
not true.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BURNS: And Mr. Cain, in this situation, has confirmed a good deal of
the essential part of the report.

MATTHEWS: OK, big confirmation. And I`m sorry, it looks like "The
Post" has grabbed this story again. This story just broke on "The
Washington Post" Web site. "The Post" is reporting as of this moment that
one of the woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment in the late
1990s wants to tell her side of the story and has called on the National
Restaurant Association to lift its confidentiality ban, according to her
attorney.

Dana Milbank, it`s your paper. It`s your story now.

MILBANK: Well, I`m pleased on behalf of my paper. Herman Cain said
when he was at the Press Club yesterday that he would not call on the
restaurant association to release those. This will obviously increase the
pressure to do so. We have now -- hearing that Herman Cain`s wife is going
to be out there, giving an interview of her own. So clearly, this will not
be the last time this probably shows up on your show, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think it`s relevant that his wife has something
to say, if it`s a workplace issue? Why is that relevant, Dana?

MILBANK: I mean, it just -- that`s going to be part of the defense
here. I mean, he`s had six or seven different lines of defense here, and
he`s going to keep using them until one of them works. I think the most
powerful one is going to be, They are out to get me, they, the elite, they,
the mainstream media.

MATTHEWS: Wow.

MILBANK: And you, my Iowa supporters, need to stand up to that.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re going to have an interesting witness on the
table. If this woman comes forward and makes a statement based on personal
experience, it`s going to have a lot of power.

Thank you very much, Alex Burns, for that reporting, and thank you,
Dana Milbank.

Coming up -- looks like a battle between Politico and "The Washington
Post" has emerged as a side story here.

Anyway, we got a bigger one for you, the Republican clown show. How
would you like to be a major Republican brain right now thinking, My God,
what`s happening to our list of candidates? We got the flip-flopper, the
flop, we`ve got Bachmann, who`s gone, and now we`ve got our front-runner,
Cain, who is just completely caught up in this mess.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The White House is going local. TV anchors now from nine
local affiliates around the country spent the day at the White House today.
Each one got an interview with President Obama, and they all got a chance
to interview another member of the cabinet or one member of the cabinet
about the administration`s push to create jobs.

The nine affiliates chosen shed some light on the Obama reelection
strategy, as everything does these days. There`s an emphasis on the
Southwest, with Phoenix, Denver and Houston, crucial swing states like
Florida and Virginia, and even Omaha where the president picked up
Electoral College votes in 2008. Look at Arizona. Are they really going
for Arizona? Now, there`s the pick-up state.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Wasn`t 2012 supposed to be the Republicans` big year, their big
opportunity with involvement (ph) -- actually, President Obama`s own poll
numbers remain low and an economy that hasn`t really recovered. Let`s face
it, wasn`t it supposed to be a GOP cakewalk down to 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue?

A while ago, it looked like it. Well, not so fast, and not lately.
Apparently, there`s just one big, fat problem out there, the people running
for president on the Republican side.

As we just talked about, Herman Cain has had a rough 48 hours, and
he`s giving evolving responses to the Politico story on previous sexual
harassment allegations. But he`s not the only one who`s had a bad few
days. Look at Mitt Romney`s flip-flopping around climate change. That
won`t go away. That flip-flopping label`s not going away. And last week,
Romney got caught making contradictory statements about two separate
issues, the upcoming Ohio union vote and climate change.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry has plummeted in the polls, and he gave a
bizarre performance, to put it lightly, at that speech in New Hampshire
last Friday that has gone viral now and has been parodied by late-night
comedians. Well, no one questions that Barack Obama is going to have a
tough fight ahead of him next year. But the best thing he has going for
him seems to be the field of contenders trying to beat him.

Bob Shrum`s a veteran Democratic strategist who served as senior
adviser to Kerry, John Kerry, in 2004. And Ron Reagan is author of "My
Father at 100."

Bob, thanks for joining us tonight. And I just wondered and wonder
right now at how such an array of -- well, it`s a three-ring circus now,
with Romney flipping like some act in a circus, with Perry flopping, and
now the other guy flipping around like he doesn`t know what`s hit him.
This is a three-ring circus from hell for the Republicans, and these are
their top three contenders.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it`s a weak field that ranges
from the inauthentic to the absolutely incredible. Look, Romney in the
last debate, in addition to being a flip-flopper, sounded like the hall
monitor who was trying to correct everybody. He`s a guy who wants to run
on jobs, but he made his money dismembering companies and destroying jobs.

Herman Cain -- listen, I could endorse him. I mean, you`re right,
President Obama would win by a bigger margin than he won last time if
Herman Cain were the Republican nominee.

Rick Perry -- I think conservatives might take another look at because
of the -- of what`s happened with Cain. But the problem he`s got is He may
have left an indelible impression of incompetence in those early debates
and an unacceptability on Social Security.

And as you just pointed out, he gave that bizarre speech. He`d have
to become a candidate, not a comedian, if he`s going to get a real serious
look.

MATTHEWS: Yes. This reminded me of a speech somebody might give
after too many drinks at a company--

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: No, seriously -- at a company Christmas party or at a
wedding.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`m not knocking him. I don`t know if he had anything to
drink or anything like it, but it seems crazy.

Now, here he is. Here`s just some highlights from that speech, which
isn`t going to go away because of the nature of the Internet now. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re kind of into
those slogans, man. It`s like live free or death, victory or death, bring
it.

If they print any more money over there in Washington, that gold`s
going to be good.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: Or that, 20 percent flat tax. Put it on there, take your
deductions off, send it in.

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: I don`t know, giddy times 10. That was exponential
giddiness there, Ron Reagan.

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what he was imitating or what he was showing
us about himself that was previously hooded. Let`s put it that way.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: This was the real -- this was the butterfly Rick Perry, not
the caterpillar. I will tell you, I`m not sure he wanted to put this dance
on.

REAGAN: It`s true. This was a critical period for Rick Perry. He
was trying to kind of reintroduce himself and retool his campaign, and he
chose this week to go off his meds?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Or on to new ones, I tell you. I thought he was on--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: Or maybe. Yes. It`s extraordinary. But as you were saying
before, given the opportunity the Republicans have this election cycle,
given where the economy is, et cetera, et cetera, it`s extraordinary to me
that they haven`t been able to field a stronger field of candidates.

And I don`t know why that is. Why haven`t, you know, senior members
of the Senate decided to run for, you know, for president this time around?
Why are we left with this group of people who, as you pointed out, are
woefully inadequate?

MATTHEWS: It all comes together, Bob, Bobby. It looks to me like if
you put a three-ring thing up there, like an old "Thomas Crown Affair"
screen with different pictures, all of them, you would have this incredible
performance in front of you all at the same time.

All of a sudden, Romney picks this week to flip all over the place
about one of the things he`s been constant on. There he is, by the way.
Here`s the latest example of Romney`s penchant -- or penchant -- penchant
for flip-flopping. Listen to what he said back in June followed by what he
said on Thursday about global warming. Let`s watch the moves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe based on what I
read that the world is getting warmer. And, number two, I believe that
humans contribute to that. So I think it`s important for us to reduce our
emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant
contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you`re
seeing.

My view is that we don`t know what`s causing climate change on this
planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try
and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Oh, 180. And then last week, Romney`s opponent Jon
Huntsman put out an ad that went after Romney for some of his high-profile
political reversals. Let`s watch Huntsman doing what he does best, chop
the heck out of Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HUNTSMAN CAMPAIGN AD)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country.

That I have consistently been pro-life.

When he took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it
worse.

I didn`t say that things are worse.

Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush. I`m not
trying to return to Reagan/Bush.

-- is to pursue the strategy which Ronald Reagan pursued.

We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them.

And I would protect our Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ron, it`s impossible to miss the fact that this guy`s made
of political rubber.

REAGAN: Yes, it`s true. He`s been on all sides of all issues, being
all things to all people, I suppose.

And it is going to come back and hurt him in the campaign. Yet, he
remains, I think, the inevitable nominee of the Republican Party. This
guy, who is a very weak candidate for a lot of these reasons--

MATTHEWS: Why? Why is he inevitable?

REAGAN: -- is the inevitable nominee, because everybody else is even
weaker. Everybody else is, frankly, just totally unacceptable.

I mean, can you really think of President Michele Bachmann, or really,
for that matter, President Herman Cain? No. You really can`t imagine
that. Romney, I don`t know, like I said, if you squint real hard, maybe
you can see the haircut in the Oval Office or something. But that`s about
it.

MATTHEWS: Bob, I don`t get it. I mean, I don`t -- usually
presidents, former President Reagan, late President Reagan used to -- he
explained a long sort of transition from being a man who signed a pro-
choice bill out in California to being pro-life.

There`s some kind of explanation of some kind of epiphany, something
that leads you to change. But here`s Romney flipping on climate change
without any pretense of a transformation, just, hey, things have changed
politically in the last couple of weeks. I just checked the polls, so I`m
changing my mind.

SHRUM: Yes, look, I think this whole thing to him is a business
proposition. He wants to pursue the presidency that way, so he`s finding
out what the customers want and he`s giving the customers whatever they`re
asking for.

But the customers are resisting him.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is he--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- from the movie "James Bond," and what kind of a party do
you want?

SHRUM: That`s exactly what`s going on.

But the problem is that you have got a lot of Republicans who are
looking for anybody who isn`t Romney. And I think Ron`s right. In the
end, they`re going to have to go with Romney, because the other people are
so totally unacceptable. He will mostly win because of his opponents, not
because of what he does.

But the problem with that is he`s going to go into a general election
where he`s going to be held accountable on the flip-flops, he`s going to be
held accountable on his jobs record. And as I found out in 1994 when I was
involved in Senator Kennedy`s campaign for reelection, where Romney was
briefly ahead of him by one point, he`s brittle. And when you begin to
push him and he gets into the kind of thick of this, he`s going to be like
he was in that last debate.

He`s going to bristle. And I think people are going to get
increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of him being president.

MATTHEWS: Well, OK. I can`t wait for Tampa to be 110 degrees, 110
humidity, and they are going to have to nominate somebody they don`t want.

Thank you, Bob Shrum.

What a sultry occasion that`s going to be. Thank you, Ron Reagan.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next, Ed Rollins strikes again. He`s got even worse
things to say about his candidate, the one he used to work for now, Michele
Bachmann. Stick around for Ed to do what he does.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up, fair game. It`s not just the Cain campaign that`s taken a
bizarre spin this week. Who will forget the speech given by Rick Perry in
New Hampshire over the weekend, where the candidate came across as, well,
not some guy running for president.

Let`s see how that incident was pummeled last night on "The Daily
Show." And let`s also who really stands to gain from these recent
developments.

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

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Could Rick
Perry, hurt by stiffness in his debate performances, seize the moment in
New Hampshire this weekend?

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is such a cool
state. I mean, come on, live free or die?

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: I mean, it`s like, live free or die, victory or death, bring
it.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: You`re overcorrecting. It gets worse.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: Texas Rangers after 50 years are going to win a World Series
Oops.

STEWART: Best-case scenario, that dude`s hammered.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Worst-case scenario, that is Perry sober and every time we
have seen him previously, he`s been hammered.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: After the events of this weekend, between Herman Cain and
Rick Perry, I am ready for "The Daily Show" to unveil a brand-new segment.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mitt Romney, the luckiest mother-fudger on Earth.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in this group, Romney comes across as the older
brother, better yet for him, the baby-sitter.

Next up, talk about a parting of the ways. Here comes another string
of harsh words for GOP candidate Michele Bachmann. From whom? Her former
campaign manager, Ed Rollins.

What started as beating around the bush when he first left his post
with the Bachmann campaign has now evolved into brutal honesty by Ed.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why`d you leave her?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I`m an old man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just a mess, wasn`t it?

ROLLINS: It was a mess. I`m an old man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a mess, wasn`t it?

ROLLINS: It was a mess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn`t going to work, was it?

ROLLINS: I didn`t think it was going to work and I didn`t want to
spend the six months in Iowa, basically, at my age.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Taking a step further in a separate interview,
Rollins said -- quote -- "She`s still saying the same things she said in
the first debate. There`s no substance. She says, I`m going to repeal
Obamacare, but she`s been saying that from day one. I told her, that`s
your Tea Party speech. Now you have to say what you`re going to do next."

Well, there you have it, Ed Rollins` verdict on his former candidate.

Up next: Hillary Clinton is doing what no other Democrat is doing
these days. She`s openly defending, politically, President Obama.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JACKIE DEANGELIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jackie DeAngelis with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the market, a 297-
point plunge for the Dow Jones industrials, a 35-point drop for the S&P
500, and the Nasdaq sinking 77 points. Now, the U.S. markets at the mercy
of European headlines again today. Investors were blindsided by a surprise
call for a Greek referendum on the E.U. bailout plan.

Banks took the biggest hit, especially those with high exposure in
Europe. And Credit Suisse piled on with disappointing earnings and plans
to cut another 1,500 jobs. Now, GM and Ford slumped despite modest sales
in growth in terms of October, but Toyota still struggling with part
shortages after the quake and tsunami. reported a nearly 8 percent drop in
sales. Drug giant Pfizer was able to buck the trend, edging higher on
better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

And Bank Atlantic shares soared more than 110 percent on word that it
will be acquired by holding company BB&T for about $301 million.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

I have been saying for a while and will say again that President Obama
really needs -- what he needs for his reelection is a strong core of allies
in this country, a loyal core of defenders who will go to the mat for him
when he`s right and occasionally when he`s wrong.

Someone who seems to be standing up to that challenge is the one-time
rival Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Though she says she is out of
politics, she sure does sound like a supporter these days. Here she was on
"Meet the Press" last month responding to David Gregory`s question about
her famous 3:00 a.m. phone call ad from 2008 and whether the Republican ads
-- rather, the Republican candidates need to show foreign policy competence
as they run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m out of politics,
as you know, David. I don`t comment on it, but I think Americans are going
to want to know that they have a steady, experienced, smart hand on the
tiller of the ship of state, and there`s no doubt that that`s Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, is Hillary Clinton the political ally Obama can
really rely on right now?

Joan Walsh is editor at large for Salon.com, and Chris Cillizza is
managing editor of PostPolitics.com, as well as an MSNBC contributor.

Before we begin, though, of course, we want to offer our condolences
to Secretary of State Clinton. The Clinton family earlier today announced
the death of her mother, Dorothy Rodham, at the age of 92. What a life
she`s had.

Joan, I want you on now because I have had a mixed history about my
political views of Hillary Clinton and the role she played in the last
campaign. And I`m being positive because I like her personally, but I
didn`t like her position on the war in Iraq and I let it be known that I
preferred Barack Obama on that key issue to me.

But I am overwhelmed, as I have been before, by her behavior.
Occasionally, she just floors me with her statements, like she did during
the campaign at the end when she endorsed him so magnanimously.

Again, on David Gregory`s program, "Meet the Press" -- we will show
you another clip in a minute. But your view? She seems to be becoming not
just an appointee of the president, but a true ally.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM: Oh, I think she very much is
a true ally, Chris, and I think she`s probably enraged that this president
can`t get a bit of credit from these Republican opponents when it comes to
the realm of foreign policy.

I mean, that is where he has truly shined, with her help, but on his
own. They have disagreed about some things, and he`s gone ahead and he has
done what he needed to do. I expect to see her -- though she says she`s
not speaking politics, she speaks from a realm of experience and a realm of
integrity.

And to watch these people criticize this man on Iran, on Libya, not
give him credit for Osama bin Laden, she will be there for him and she will
be making the case that he has kept us safer. And that is a very crucial
case to make as the election approaches.

MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Joan is
largely right that this is the place that Barack Obama has been strongest.

Coming into this presidency, Chris, the biggest question was, is this
a guy who can stand up on the world stage and lead? Remember, that was --
John McCain`s entire campaign was premised around the idea that the guy
didn`t -- that Barack Obama didn`t have the experience to govern in a
difficult world.

Now, he`s had lots of struggles domestic policy-wise, but foreign
policy-wise, he`s had lots of successes.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CILLIZZA: And I think Hillary Clinton`s -- Hillary Clinton`s
involvement in those successes doesn`t go unnoticed.

She`s a huge figure, both domestically and internationally, Chris. I
mean, anywhere she goes, she`s probably the second most famous politician
in the world behind the guy she works for. So, she draws attention, and
she`s credible. And people take her seriously when she speaks and when she
advocates.

MATTHEWS: She`s always well-prepared.

Here`s more from Secretary of State Clinton in an interview with David
Gregory on "Meet the Press" where she talked about Obama being up to the
challenge in terms of leadership. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: President Obama has passed with flying colors every
leadership challenge. I think this president has demonstrated that in a
still very dangerous world, it`s important to have someone at the helm of
our country who understands how to manage what is an incredibly complex
world now. Yes, we have a lot of threats, but we also have opportunities.
And I think President Obama has grasped that and has performed
extraordinarily well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Joan, this is not a partisan assessment.
Republicans are better at bragging. They are really good at it. They`d be
-- I mean, George W. would still be dancing and hot dogging and spiking the
ball in the end zone if he had caught bin Laden. He`d be doing it around
the clock.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: The Democrats seem to take -- they seem to have a -- what
is it called? They`re almost British with their understatement.

WALSH: We`re very reserved and humble, Chris.

You know, I think there`s some of that. I also think that it`s very
hard getting a message through in this economic situation. And I think
that will be a challenge for the president as the election approaches.

These are crucial issues. It`s also unbelievable, now that, you know,
as we`ve talked about before, the Democrats have had such an unfair and bad
rap on the issue of national security. Now they really are the ones who
can argue, we`ve turned the corner, we`ve kept you safe, we`ve been
belligerent. There are some things that I haven`t been crazy about, to be
honest with you.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

WALSH: But they really have the upper hand on this. And yet,
somehow, it`s not going to be an issue? So, I think it`s going to require
a lot of adept handling to make sure that this president does get the
credit that he deserves and that this stands out as an issue in the next
go-around. Because if the economy`s terrible, it`s going to be a little
bit of a tough sell.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. Chris, you studied politics every week
and you have a nonpartisan assessment, I read it every Sunday especially.

Let me ask you about this. It seems what`s happened in the last three
weeks, we`ve had two options, one is the president squeaks by and gets re-
elected, like winning perhaps North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, or Ohio,
or some combination that gets him by to 270, but real tight. And I thought
there was another option, which is the Republicans will pull a blowout.
They would just have a really bad economy to run with, they would blame it
all on him, and he`d take the hit like Jimmy Carter did.

Now, I think we`re facing two options: one, the president squeaks,
which remains the same. Joan, I want you in on this. And now, the
Republicans squeak. I think the options of a big blowout has been
diminished dramatically if not completely by the lousy list of candidates
in this three-act clown show they`re putting on right now.

I know the economy is (INAUDIBLE), everybody knows that. We can blame
it forever. I know you like the Yiddish. But the fact is it is and we
all know it.

And then the question is, haven`t they just lost their chance for a
blowout in the last couple of weeks because of their incompetence?

CILLIZZA: I would say I still think the most likely outcome, Chris,
given what we know about the partisanship in this country in the kind of
vast chasm that exists between the two party basis is a close election
along the lines of 2004, 2000 -- not a blowout election along the lines of
2008.

If you told me there is a blowout in 2012, it`s much more likely to be
a Republican blowout, I would say, simply because of what you pointed out.
If people are focused on the economy in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Florida, Michigan, Nevada. Those would go in the Republican column and we
would see a blowout. I don`t see any way Obama comes close, and I don`t
think anybody, including the Obama team, thinks --

MATTHEWS: Herman Cain ain`t going to win in no blowout.

Joan, your thoughts? I don`t know which of these Republicans. It
still comes down to the name of the guy and they`re all right now to have a
chance. I can`t think of one right now that`s going to win in a blowout.
Your thoughts?

WALSH: I can`t either. I really don`t think there`ll be a blowout,
no matter how bad the economy is. I think people -- this White House is
skilled. We haven`t seen enough skill, but as a campaign, they were
skilled at focusing on the questions that they want to focus on and I
really think that even -- if Romney gets out of this, he is so diminished
by his flip-flopping. You know, those Jon Huntsman ads, man, you put
Barack Obama in, and, you know, they work in 2012. So I don`t see a
blowout.

MATTHEWS: And if the Clintons are gung-ho for Obama, that`s a big
plus. That`s what I wanted to get to. We`ll get to it in latter shows as
we go on. But I think Clinton`s role, including Secretary Clinton, if she
leaves office -- I`m telling you, the Clintons are going be powerful in
Pennsylvania and Ohio.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: -- a huge constituency, Chris.

MATTHEWS: There`ll still have a Clinton party out there.

Thank you, Chris Cillizza.

Thank you, Joan Walsh.

Up next -- well, "The Washington Post" broke the story that one of
Herman Cain`s accusers wants to bring her -- end her confidentiality
agreement and speak publicly about what happened she said, of course, back
in the 1990s. We`re going to talk to "The Post" reporter who broke that
story, next.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The always quotable Alan Simpson zinged anti-tax guru
Grover Norquist, the guy who gets Republicans to pledge against tax
increases. Here`s what the former Republican senator said today in a
hearing of the super committee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in budget
savings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I asked him, he said, "My hero
is Ronald Reagan." I said, well, he raised taxes 11 times in his eight
years. And he said, "I don`t know, I don`t like that at all."

And I said, "Well, he did it. Why do you suppose?" He said, "I don`t
know. It`s very disappointing." I said, "He probably did it to make the
country run, another sick idea."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. They always forget about that, about Ronald Reagan.
Expect to hear that line, by the way, repeated by Democrats in the days and
weeks to come.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Herman Cain`s in damage control mode after the story broke about
alleged sexual discrimination or harassment back in the 1990s. But Cain
has received overwhelming support, has hardly been defended by
conservatives. We`ve heard all that tonight.

Now comes word from "The Washington Post" this evening that one of the
women who accused Cain of sexual harassment wants to tell her side of the
story. Both women are barred, by the way, from talking about the incident
because of a confidentiality agreement which was signed when the case was
settled.

James Grimaldi is "The Washington Post" reporter who`s broken the
latest story about the accuser wanting to speak. Clarence Page is a
syndicated columnist for the "Chicago Tribune."

Thank you, James, for joining us.

Can you tell us anything beyond the fact that the woman in question
here, who has made the complaint back 12 years ago, is ready to talk about
what the nature of the charges she made were? Do we know anything more?

JAMES GRIMALDI, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I think we can infer
from that that if she wants her side of the story out there, it`s different
than what Herman Cain is saying. But they feel so constrained by this
confidentiality agreement that they are not really saying what they would
say if they could talk about it. They are just saying they think the
National Restaurant Association should relieve them of their obligation of
non-disparagement and confidentiality so that they could come forward.
They mentioned both of those points.

So, that leads us to believe, and I think logically conclude, that if
you want to talk about it and tell another side of the story, it`s probably
going to be different than what Mr. Cain is saying.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s what Cain had to say about one of the accusers
on FOX last night. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I do recall that her performance, it had been told to me by her
boss, was not up to par. And I normally didn`t get into whether someone is
let go or fired unless I had to because I allowed my department head to
make that decision. Her boss, if he didn`t think she was doing the job, I
said, "Well, you, along with the human resources department, figure out
what you want to do."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Clarence, let`s look at this politically. This story is
going to have some legs now obviously. This is going to go on because
everyone now wants to know the Perry Mason -- you know, ending, what`s
going to be said as this comes to the public sort of witness, sort of a day
in court here we`re going to see here.

How does this go as the story in terms of this campaign and the life
or death politically of Mr. Cain?

CLARENCE PAGE, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Well, this has already become a
problem for Mr. Cain because it`s gotten him off message. He wanted to
come to Washington to talk about his jobs plan and his economic ideas, and
he wound up talking about sex, and that has taken the spotlight now. And
the problem is he`s handling this as though he were still a corporate CEO,
business executive trying to keep things very tight, close to the chest.

But he`s in the world of politics now. The public is going to want to
know some answers, and his fellow Republicans are going to want to know how
stable of a candidate is he, how stable is his future, or are they going to
have more secrets blow up on this campaign. So, he really needs to get as
much information out as quickly as possible and clear the air.

MATTHEWS: A couple of facts that you might have at hand, James. One
is was there more to this agreement on the departure of that employee that
made the accusation then a couple months, what do you call it -- what`s
that term?

GRIMALDI: Severance.

MATTHEWS: Severance. Or was it something else in terms of cash?

GRIMALDI: Yes. I asked the lawyer about that.

First, I want to go to what you said about putting the clip up there.
The lawyer says that by the statements that he has made, including the one
that you just aired.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GRIMALDI: That he believes that Cain has waived that confidentiality.
They believe they are getting whacked, and they can`t respond.

MATTHEWS: Gotcha.

GRIMALDI: But I asked the lawyer. Cain is out there saying it`s just
a severance, which says there were no facts to substantiate the allegation
of sexual harassment. The lawyer said, well, look, there were claims.
There were claims of sexual harassment and there was a settlement. And
that`s as far as he would go. But the implication is there`s more to it
than we`ve heard so far.

MATTHEWS: And let me think -- I guess I`m going to stretch you now
for your reporting. Do you know if her accusations reached the level of
what most people would say was really bad behavior or inappropriate
behavior? In other words, was she propositioned? Did she use his
authority over her to get sex? The kinds of things people, in a very
narrow old-time definition, would say yes, that`s awful, rather by the
modern stances of improper language in the workplace, that sort of thing.

GRIMALDI: Yes. You know, those are the very questions I`ve had since
the story broke. I mean, I have to say I don`t know if I would have gone
with this story until I knew the answer to that question. The question
sort of just hangs out there, and it could be anything from, you know, a
series of inappropriate comments to, you know, Strauss-Kahn or something.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GRIMALDI: We have no idea --

MATTHEWS: And I think, therein -- Clarence, get to the politics of
this quickly -- therein lies the question of the political mega tonnage
here, right? What is the story in itself?

PAGE: What is the story -- and Cain is in a position where questions
have been raised. He has not been consistent or forthcoming with his
answers, and he`s creating more problems for himself unless -- he himself
should be getting out there asking the restaurant association to release
this woman so he can talk.

MATTHEWS: At last glance, my friend, it`s worse than it looks
already.

PAGE: It doesn`t help for him to be accused of being part of a cover-
up.

MATTHEWS: That`s true, too. Thank you so much, James.
Congratulations. "The Post" has regained the control of the story from the
renegade "Politico." Side story we`re all watching.

When we return -- thanks, Clarence Page. Thank you. When we return,
my book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," the big book I`ve been working on
for years, came out today. I`ve got some thoughts about -- well, lessons
that President Obama can learn from President Kennedy. They are big ones
and he can still learn it.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with what President Obama needs
most politically.

He needs allies, potential confederates who will get out there, who
will sing his praises, take punches for him and deliver some punches
themselves. And not only that, he needs political loyalists who have
strong gut ties to the people who are going to decide this election next
year, not just the college crowd that got him nominated and elected in
2008, but the scared, angry people who didn`t go to college. I didn`t see
a lot of them out there working and speaking for him lately.

Word is out that Obama`s a transitional, or rather a transactional
politician. He cuts deals with people, but he doesn`t forge bonds. When
is he going to bolster his political forces, and what`s the story with the
people in his cabinet? Where are they? Do they campaign for him? Do they
stand up on the Sunday shows with passion and stick it to their critics?

I`ve never seen such a band of political neutrals as his cabinet.
Come to think of it, who does speak up for Obama with any real passion
these days?

Democrats in Congress act as if they are in a different political
party, not just a different branch of government.

Obama needs battle-ready surrogates and doesn`t have them. He needs
allies who will go out there and get their brains knocked in.

He needs troops, and the reason he doesn`t have them, I suspect, is
brutal. He hasn`t recruited them. He hasn`t spent time enough with them,
hasn`t made them feel as though he needs an army.

There`s still time for Obama to build an Obama party between now and
next fall`s general election, but not much time.

"Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero" comes out today. Find out more at
Facebook.com/Hardball.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

END
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