1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 11/11/2011 10:10:47 AM ET 2011-11-11T15:10:47

Guests: Bob Shrum, Nia-Malika Henderson, Buzz Bissinger, Carl Bernstein,
Timothy Naftali

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Brain freeze.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. Leading off
tonight, Rick Perry. Easy as one, two, um, um, uh -- 53 seconds. That`s
how long it took Rick Perry to drive what was left of his sputtering
campaign off the cliff. Political guru Larry Sabato called Perry`s brain
freeze the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate. "The
Washington Post`s" Chris Cillizza said the debate`s losers were Rick Perry
and Rick Perry, so bad, we named him twice. And those were some of the
kinder comments.

To his credit, Perry is owning up to his mistake and trying to make
light of it. But is there any way he can overcome it? So could it be time
for Newt? So far, Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Rick
Perry have all auditioned and been rejected for the role of the anti-
Romney. If Herman Cain can`t overcome or otherwise survive these sexual
harassment allegations, is it possible that Newt could be the man? He`s a
mean one, Mr. Gingrich, but he may be the only game left.

The even bigger story that everyone is talking about is the sexual
abuse scandal -- and that`s a very tasteful phrase for what`s alleged here
-- at Penn State University and the ousting of Joe Paterno. Now the
question is, how could so many adults who knew what was happening allow
this to go on? And why do so many students at Penn State still support
Paterno?

And Nixon before the grand jury. Eleven months after he resigned the
American presidency, Richard Nixon testified before a grand jury about the
Watergate scandal. Today his testimony was released, and historians are
digging through it to find out what secrets may have been hidden for nearly
four decades.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with what Rick Perry`s blooper last night
really tells us about the Tea Party.

We start with last night`s debate and Rick Perry. With me now are two
veteran presidential campaign strategists, Democrat Bob Shrum, most
recently of the Kerry 2004 campaign, and Republican Steve Schmidt, who
worked on the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and the 2008 McCain campaign.
Steve`s also an MSNBC political analyst.

Let`s look at now -- here`s Rick Perry losing his train of thought
last night, and that`s also being generous. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I will tell you,
it`s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone,
Commerce, Education, and the -- what`s the third one there? Let`s see...

(LAUGHTER)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You mean five?

PERRY: Oh, five? OK.

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: So Commerce, Education, and the -- um, um, the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: EPA?

PERRY: EPA, there you go!

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC, MODERATOR: Seriously? Is EPA the one you were
talking about or...

PERRY: No, sir. No, sir. We were talking about the agencies of
government -- the EPA needs to be rebuilt. There`s no doubt about that.

HARWOOD: But you can`t -- but you can`t name the third one?

PERRY: The third agency of government -- I would do away with
Education, the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.

PERRY: ... Commerce, and let`s see -- I can`t. The third one, I
can`t. Sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a heck of an "Oops" there, Mr. Shrum. And I
don`t expect you to be generous in your critique, but this is going down in
the rule books. This is going to be one. Remember the main facts. If you
want to get rid of something, remember what you hate, at least.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, the guy just either didn`t
prepare or he`s not capable of preparing. There`s a marvelous description,
Chris -- if I can give some perspective to this -- in your book about JFK
and how he got ready for the 1960 debates, down to learning a week before,
the staging and the stagecraft. And Don Hewitt, who produced those
debates, the guy who later created "60 Minutes," said Kennedy cared a lot
more about them and paid a lot more attention than Nixon did.

I think Rick Perry has been treating these debates as a drop-by. If
he hasn`t been and he`s prepared, then this is a really extraordinary
performance. No Republican rationally could say that somebody who was so
unready in that debate is ready to take on Obama. And no American could
think somebody who did that could be president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Steve. I mean, there`s a standard way of
preparing for these debates, and it`s not exactly grown-up, but they all do
it. Kennedy, as Bob was nice to mention the book, he -- he laid in bed at
the Chicago Ambassador East (ph) Hotel and basically had index cards with
all the questions his staff thought he might get hit with. And he`d flip
them and throw them on the floor when he thought he`d mastered them.

But he`d go over and over and over so he had a mechanical way of
responding. He didn`t have to think. He knew what the question would be,
like, What are the three agencies you want to get rid of? And he knew them
by heart because they were the ones he wanted to get rid of.

But here was a guy who failed to know what he thought up himself.
This isn`t not knowing the capital of Venezuela. This is something where
you gave the name of the capital of Venezuela, its name, and he didn`t know
it.

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s
remarkable. I think that they`ll be playing this on the videotape 30 years
from now. It`s one of the most remarkable moments in the history of
presidential debates. And I think it effectively ended his campaign last
night.

You have a ruinous series of public appearances by Rick Perry, not the
least of which was the very bizarre appearance in New Hampshire last week.
This on top of it, I think, ends it for him.

Now, I think, going forward, what will be interesting is -- he has a
lot of money. Is he going to spend that money trying to tear down the
front-runner, Mitt Romney, or is he going to spend that money trying to
rehabilitate the Rick Perry image, telling the Rick Perry story? He`s
actually got a story to tell. It`ll be interesting to the see what he does
with those resources.

MATTHEWS: You are so smart, Steve, because, you know -- you gave us
the answer, which is, Don`t compete in the Eastern conference until you`ve
won the Western conference championship.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Don`t go for the inter-league play when you haven`t won
your league. And he has to be the top conservative challenger to Mr.
Romney before he gets to run against Mr. Romney in the late spring. You`re
right. His first job, I believe, and you laid it out there, is to justify
himself as the alternative to Romney before he has to take him on.

Here he is, by the way, showing the first sign of trouble. This was
at the Fox News debate in September, a couple months ago. Rick Perry
stumbled when he had an easy chance for a haymaker, a chance to deliver a
blow at Romney for his flip-flopping. Let`s listen to how he blew the
chance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: I think Americans just don`t know sometimes which Mitt Romney
they`re dealing with. It is the Mitt Romney that was on the side of --
against the 2nd Amendment before he was for the 2nd Amendment? Was it was
before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of, he was
for standing up for Roe versus Wade before he was against versus -- Roe
versus Wade? He was for Race to the Top. He`s for "Obama care," and now
he`s against it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: As a debate expert, Bob Shrum, what was happening there, a
man who was unable sort of to put it together, who knew what had to be put
together, but didn`t? Hadn`t rehearsed.

SHRUM: Well, look, they obviously had gave him the line. He was
obviously prepared to do it, except he wasn`t prepared, either couldn`t
memorize it, or under the pressure of those cameras and in that moment, he
couldn`t deliver it.

And by the way, Steve`s right. There was that disastrous speech in
New Hampshire, but after this debate, even before that speech, Perry`s
numbers started to fall drastically in the polls. He came into this race
and he soared into first place, the mid-30s. He was going to be the un-
Romney. He was probably going to be the nominee.

But I think he spent all his time deciding to announce and very little
time preparing to run. He`s just not up to this. He`s not going to be the
nominee. And I do think he could do great damage to Romney along the way.
It`ll be interesting to see what choice he makes.

MATTHEWS: Well, here he is cleaning up after the elephant, the
elephant being him.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Rick Perry tried to do damage control on all three network
morning shows. Here he is today. Lets watch the cleanup crew in action,
led by Rick Perry. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: I will tell you, I don`t mind saying clearly that I stepped in
it last night. But I think I`m kind of like most Americans, and there`s so
many agencies of government out there we`d like to forget that the
Department of Energy was one of those.

The issue wasn`t about whether I can sing off a line of a number of
agencies. It truly gets to the core of the matter of we`ve got so much
government out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Yes?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Steve Schmidt. "Sing off a line of
government agencies" -- he`s applying to run those agencies. He`s applying
to run the federal government, not to be the chief critic of the federal
government, which the Tea Party`s expert at.

This is what I`m going to get to at the end of the show. There`s a
difference being somebody with a spitball shooting at the big shots, which
is what I enjoy doing, too. And I don`t knock that. There`s a big role
for the opposition to do that. But he`s not running to be the leader of
the opposition. He`s running to run the country.

Don`t you have to have some feel for the government you`re about to
take over if you win?

SCHMIDT: Of course you do. And I think he said it right there. He
says, Well, a lot of Americans get confused on this. Well, he`s not like a
lot of Americans. He`s the longest-serving governor in the country and
he`s running for president of the United States.

And he`s demonstrated, literally since the hour he`s gotten into this
race, that he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief. And like I said at
the beginning, I think that, you know, if he had been prepared, who knows
what would have happened. But at the end of the day now, I think the race
is over for him. I mean, there`s just no way...

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re clear on that.

SCHMIDT: ... the Republican primary voters are going to put him into
a debate with Barack Obama. Not going to happen.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at some -- we`re going to stop
this. I think we`re probably making our point overly generously here, but
let`s take a look at some of the awkward moments in past debates by Rick
Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DAN QUAYLE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have as much
experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the
presidency.

SEN. LLOYD BENTSEN (D-TX), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator, I
served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend
of mine. Senator, you`re no Jack Kennedy.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JAMES STOCKDALE (I), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who am I? Why am I
here?

(LAUGHTER)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not only
what`s your philosophy and what`s your position on issues, but can you get
things done? And I believe I can.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: And thank you all for watching us
tonight. I have -- done so much. We have done everything that we could
possibly do. We have...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, life is unfair, and some of those are
unfair. I think -- I think the shot at Dan Quayle was fair, Bob because --
to start with you -- because in that case of a screw-up in a debate, he was
warned by his staff -- this is now legendary. You know that. He was
warned, Don`t do that "I`m as cool as Jack Kennedy because I served as many
years," don`t dare put yourself on that platform as his equal, and he went
and did it.

And the other one -- I do feel sad about James Stockton, who served
our country so nobly as a POW and a serviceman and as a leader. But he
just said thing he thought would carry a certain rhetorical quality, and it
just laid flat there. So it`s not always fair, but some of these do make a
point, I think. Your thought?

SHRUM: Well, the Quayle thing was very fair. And you`re absolutely
right. They told him not to do it. He then went ahead and did it the
fourth time he was asked the question. Tom Brokaw actually said, Pardon
me. I don`t want to beat a dead horse, but can we go back to this issue of
experience? And under pressure, he gave the answer that he`d been giving
on the campaign trail.

You know, the Quayle example is very instructive because that line
devastated his political career. He was never a serious political figure
again, even though he got elected vice president.

I think Rick Perry`s in a similar situation. There is no way to
repair this. You can`t go on the "Today" show, you can`t go on all the
morning shows and make light of it and get out of it because a few million
people watched that debate last night. I suspect 50 million people have
now seen those 50 seconds, and they create an indelible impression.

MATTHEWS: And just to be clear -- and I`ll be tough on you, my
friend, Bob. What exactly does it demonstrate about his ability to be
president of the United States in these times?

SHRUM: Either that he doesn`t prepare or that he can`t function under
pressure or that he`s capable of not leading the country, or all three of
those things.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Shrum. I didn`t expect you to be
generous, but I think you might be right on this baby!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Steve Schmidt, you`re a great guest.
Congratulations on joining us. It`s great having you on this campaign
season.

Coming up: So given Perry`s performance, which was so terrible, and
the allegations against Herman Cain, which continue, although he seems to
have got a 24-hour break today with nothing new, who will be the anti-
Romney -- in other words, the alternative to the more moderate Romney that
the Tea Party and the conservative wing of the Republican Party are damned
and determined to find?

Could they have their eye on Newt, Newt Gingrich? The right wing`s
running out of options. They`ve got one game left in town. Last gas
before entering desert, the sign should say, and you`re looking at him
right now, the last gas station open on the way into the Mojave desert,
Newt Gingrich.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New Quinnipiac polls in three key battleground states.
These are great numbers. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." And
they`re all within the margin of error. Starting in Florida, look at this
one, where Mitt Romney leads the president by 3. But look, only 45-42.
With this economy, amazing he`s that close.

In Ohio, those numbers are reversed. The president leads Romney,
another key state, 45-42 the other direction. And in my home town (SIC) of
Pennsylvania, it`s a statistical tie, dead heat. Of course, it`s even
closer than that. look at that, 44-43. And One more number. The latest
Gallup poll has President Obama leading a generic Republican by 3, 48-45.

Last month, the generic Republican led by 8. So something`s going
well for Obama lately.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, Newt Gingrich, of all
people, has seen a recent uptick in most of the recent polls. In fact,
RealClearPolitics -- they do an average of the latest polls -- that has him
running third among Republicans with a healthy 12.2 percent, which is
moving upward. People are starting to wonder if it`s not -- maybe now it`s
Gingrich`s turn to be the GOP`s new flavor of the month.

Just take a look at the following headlines. "Why Gingrich could win"
from "The Wall Street Journal." By the way, Hat`s Dorothy Rabinowitz,
who`s a very smart woman. "It`s Gingrich`s turn to rise in the polls" from
"The Iowa Independent." And "Perry`s painful performance opens door wider"
for Gingrich from the Fox News Channel.

So is Newt Gingrich the GOP`s last stop for gas before the desert? My
phrase.

John Heilemann`s the national affairs editor for "New York" magazine
and an MSNBC political analyst. And Nia-Malika Henderson is a political
reporter with "The Washington Post," the famed "Washington Post," I must
add.

John Heilemann, sir, do you think we`re going to have to settle in for
a winter of discontent so bleak, so dark, so hopeless that we must buy our
gas before entering the desert from Mr. Newt Gingrich?

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
think, Chris, that, you know, there`s been a quality of a carousel so far
in this Republican nomination fight. And we`ve seen candidates, like the
horses on the carousel, they go up and then they come back down.

Newt Gingrich had the benefit, in a way, of having his fall happen,
you know, six months ago, or five months ago. And he`s now positioned as -
- you know, if you think about the anti-Romney vote looking for a credible
conservative, Mitt Romney -- or Newt Gingrich is certainly a conservative.
How credible he is kind of remains to be seen, but I think a lot of people
are going to look at him. He sounds like he`s doing -- he`s generating a
positive response out on the hustings, especially in Iowa.

So I think he may have another moment in the sun. But the question is
whether he then does the same thing he did last time, shoot himself in the
foot and then decline back into nothingness again quickly.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Gingrich at last night`s debate hitting a GOP
sweet spot, attacking the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
It`s sad that the news media doesn`t report accurately how the economy
works.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC, MODERATOR: I`m sorry, but what is the media
reporting inaccurately about the economy?

GINGRICH: What?

BARTIROMO: What is the media reporting inaccurately...

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: ... about the economy?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Maria, she`s so much better than him in personal every way.

Anyway, this is ridiculous, that she had to take that abuse from him,
or he even was on the same stage with her.

Anyway, let me go to Nia-Malika Henderson.

This question here, the history of this fellow is so full of problems,
the three marriages, the messing around -- or, rather, having an affair
during the time he`s leading the impeachment process against the president
of the United States for something like that, the fact that he was thrown
out of the speakership for all kinds of questions about ethics. And here
he is coming back as a critic of the way things work in Washington.

It`s horrendously stupid to think that he`s a reformer.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON
POST": Yes, and I think most people really that.

Most people are familiar with Newt Gingrich. He`s, in some ways,
trying to run as if he`s an anti-establishment figure, but he is the
establishment. That`s where he spent most of his life, most of his career.

And I was actually out there covering him during those early months,
when he was imploding among the charges that he had, you know, spent so
much on jewelry and when his staff imploded, and people weren`t really
taking to him. They know his history, they see him as an idea man, but
they also see him as very undisciplined.

And over the last few years, let`s face it, this is a man who cut
commercials with Nancy Pelosi, who is, you know, anathema to the Tea Party
folks, and also went on tour with Al Sharpton and Arne Duncan and had said
some pretty positive things about the way Arne Duncan is handling the
Education Department. So, yes I think if they look more closely, not only
at his history in terms of his history in the speakership, but even in
terms of some of his views, I think they will see someone who is
masquerading as this anti-establishment figure, but is really an
establishment figure.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, let`s take a look at a contrast between an integrated
personality, Bob Schieffer, who is exactly who he seems to be, a good guy
from Texas being a journalist all these years, and the somewhat confected
personality of Newt Gingrich being opened up on television.

Here`s a memorable moment from back in the summer when it looked like
Gingrich`s campaign was imploding. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": You owed between $250,000 and
$500,000 to a jewelry company. What was that about, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, it was about obeying the law.

SCHIEFFER: Did you owe a half million dollars to a jewelry company at
one point?

GINGRICH: We had a revolving fund.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what does that mean?

GINGRICH: That means that we had a revolving fund. It was a...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIEFFER: Who buys a half million dollars worth of jewelry on
credit?

GINGRICH: No. It`s a -- go talk to Tiffany`s.

SCHIEFFER: It`s very odd to me that someone would run up a half-
million dollars bill at a jewelry store.

GINGRICH: Go talk to Tiffany`s.

SCHIEFFER: I mean, you`re running for president. You`re going to be
the guy in charge of the Treasury Department. And it just sticks out like
a sore thumb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, John Heilemann, I do think television does reveal
certain things in certain moments, not all the time, but there you see a
regular, normal person who has nothing really to hide, Bob Schieffer, doing
his job, and then you have Newt doing his job as candidate.

He`s totally incompetent at defending his very being. He can`t
explain who he is. Isn`t that going to be a problem with the Tea Partiers,
who claim they want the genuine article to defend them against the evil
establishment?

HEILEMANN: There`s a dismissiveness and a contemptuousness to the way
that he was treating Bob Schieffer there. And it`s been actually present
throughout all the debates.

It`s one of the things I think that Newt has done not particularly
well over the course of these many Republican debates. He`s constantly
attacking the moderators, constantly attacking the press. And although
there are obviously many Republicans who feel contempt for the
establishment press, Gingrich has even attacked the moderators from the FOX
debates.

So that`s a weird -- certainly his media persona is not that strong.
But, Chris, I think you pointed out something that`s much more glaring as a
flaw, which is that he does have this history. And people because they
have not -- the other Republican candidates, because they have not taken
him seriously for the past few months, he`s not been hit with the waves of
opposition research that some of the other candidates have been hit with.

If the Mitt Romney campaign, which is run by an opposition researcher,
if they feel that Newt Gingrich is an actual threat to them, I think there
will be, you know, a 500-pound hammer that`s going to come down on his head
over a lot of the stuff in his past that is not particularly pretty.

MATTHEWS: There`s a lot of things he could use his mind for. He`s a
smart guy, but I think Newt Gingrich should not be running for president.
But we will see. It`s his call so far. He will get hit. You`re right.

John Heilemann, thank you for joining us.

Thank you, Nia-Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post."

Up next, President Obama lays out his strategy to beat the
Republicans. Just play back their debates in full. That`s pretty tough.
He may have been joking, but he`s got a point. That`s next in the
"Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: This week`s award for shadowing goes to President Obama.
By now, we have all seen Rick Perry`s brain freeze, probably more than
once, but just hours before last night`s debate kicked off, the president
sat down for a roundtable discussion with a group of Hispanic journalists.

What strategy did he outline for going after the 2012 GOP candidates?

Quote: "I don`t think it requires us to go negative in the sense of
running a bunch of ads that are false or character assassinations. It will
be based on facts. We may just run clips of the Republican debates
verbatim. We won`t even comment on them. We will just run those in a loop
on Univision or Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds."

Well, after last night, is there any doubt what will show up in that
reel?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would do away with,
the Education, the...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.

PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t.
Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, too bad for Obama Perry is unlikely to end up as the
Republican nominee.

And the gaffe that will go down in history was the best news Herman
Cain could have gotten last night. The big news could have been Cain`s
name-calling when talking about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Here`s
Cain`s faux pas and his walk-back soon afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The legislation has already
been written, H.R. 3000. In the previous Congress, it was H.R. 3400. And
what that does -- it has already been written. We didn`t hear about it in
the previous Congress -- previous Congress because "Princess Nancy" sent to
it committee and it stayed there.

That was a statement that I probably shouldn`t have made, but I was
trying to make a point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, fine, except that the Princess Nancy line, as
he used, was no newbie for Herman Cain. Here`s how Cain went after Pelosi
on his radio show last year.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CAIN: You heard about the $26 billion bailout of teachers. Didn`t
want to layoff teachers. What I want to do this segment, instead, is peel
back the onion on the $26 billion bailout that they rushed back to Congress
in an emergency session called by Princess Nancy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, anybody that knows Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker,
now leader of the Democrats, would never call her princess. She is a tough
cookie and a greater leader.

That explains, by the way, why the Cain campaign was so quick to tweet
the princess line right after he said it. I guess they didn`t know this
would be time to exercise some backpedaling, as you just saw him doing
there.

And now for the "Big Number" tonight. It`s hard to believe Rick Perry
could come out anywhere near a top 10 or on top after his gaffe last night,
except for one area, of course, Twitter mentions. Perry coasted through
the first hour of the debate with under 3,000 references, and then the
bombshell moment happened. By the end of the debate, how many tweets
mentioned Rick Perry? Almost 19,000.

Mitt Romney, who many people are saying landed at the top of the class
last night, had the fewest references with just over 5,000. But there you
have it, 18,900 tweets featuring the Texas governor in his worst night.
That`s tonight`s "Big Number."

Up next, Joe Paterno`s out at Penn State. So is the university`s
president. He`s out as well. How could so many people who knew about the
sexual abuse scandal -- and that`s a tasteful phrase for what`s alleged
here -- allow it to go on?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Thin, choppy trading again today, the Dow Jones industrials adding 112
points, the S&P 500 gaining 10 and the Nasdaq picking up three-and-a-half.
Investors latching on to some upbeat economic reports and corporate
earnings here at home in the absence of any big news out of Europe.

We saw weekly jobless claims falling for the second week in a row to
their lowest levels since early April. At the same time, the U.S. trade
deficit shrank to its narrowest point in almost a year, as import prices
fell more than expected.

Now, in stocks, tech bellwether Cisco surging on strong forecasts,
showing consistent demand, despite the global slowdown. Drugmaker Merck
gaining after boosting its quarterly dividend in the first time in seven
years. And two big names reporting earnings after the closing bell.
Disney topping estimates with help from strong sales at ESPN. And
Nordstrom reporting the -- reported growing sales and profits, but
predicted a sluggish holiday season.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE PATERNO, FORMER PENN STATE HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: I`m out of it
maybe now. I got a phone call that put me out of it. But we will go from
here, OK?

One thing, thanks. And pray a little bit for those victims.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was former Penn State coach
Joe Paterno, of course, last night after getting fired by the university`s
Board of Trustees.

He and Penn State university president Graham Spanier are the two
latest casualties of this sexual abuse scandal in which former assistant
coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with allegedly molesting at least eight
victims, all of them young boys. Again, that word molesting doesn`t
capture what happened here.

Students rioted on campus last night, lashing out following word of
Paterno`s ouster. But the question remains, just how many adults knew
about this abuse, this sexual abuse, and why didn`t they contact police,
police?

In State College, Pennsylvania, where football is religion, how does
this community try and pick up the pieces of this terrible mess?

Michael Smerconish is a nationally syndicated radio host and an MSNBC
political analyst. And the great writer Buzz Bissinger writes about --
writes for The Daily Beast and "Vanity Fair." He`s, of course, the author
of "Friday Night Lights."

I want to start with Michael, but I want to go quickly to Buzz and
stay out of this. You guys are the experts here.

This is just horrible.

Michael Smerconish, your assessment?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Paterno had to go.
Spanier had to go. And I think it`s the tip of the iceberg.

I think there`s still more unknown than known. There are a lot of
questions, not the least of which is, what became of the investigation back
in 1998-1999 by a DA who later disappeared? So this is the beginning,
Chris. We`re not even in the end of the first quarter.

MATTHEWS: Buzz?

BUZZ BISSINGER, AUTHOR, "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS": Yes. I mean, I agree
with Michael.

I mean, there was no question that Paterno had to go. And I think the
way he went and his sort of complaint about the way the trustees treated
him really showed his fundamental arrogance. I think Joe wanted -- still
wanted to dictate the terms of his retirement. "I will retire at the end
of the season." That wasn`t feasible.

But it`s not just Paterno. It`s Paterno, it`s Spanier, it`s the
athletic director Curley, it`s the executive vice president Schultz. It`s
this graduate assistant who everyone says is a kid, who was 28 years old
and is an eyewitness to sodomy, an eyewitness to sodomy of a 10-year-old,
of a 10-year-old, and does nothing except tell his father and Paterno, and
Paterno then does nothing.

And Paterno says, well, he just said that Sandusky was fondling a kid.

That`s not serious? Are you kidding me? And nobody goes to the
police? This is a massive cover-up. And Michael`s right.

MATTHEWS: OK. He basically had this kid naked up against the wall.
He was having sex with him, rear end sex. It was unbelievable, an 8-year-
old kid. I don`t even know how this stuff happens, how anybody wouldn`t
walk out of the room and say, my God, I have seen the worst thing I have
ever seen in my life, I have got to go the police this second.

Michael, and they all treat it like they saw somebody, I don`t know
what, spill their soup at lunch. How do they treat it like this?

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I have tried to give this guy every benefit of the doubt.
Buzz and I both wrote about him today, although Buzz uses a lot more
graphic language than I do to capture this scene.

Chris, this guy is going to be on the sideline on Saturday. That`s
the amazing thing about it. This so-called graduate assistant, so that
we`re clear, he himself was a quarterback for Penn State. The guy`s a
stud. So it`s not like he`s a 98-pound weakling who perhaps would have
been physically intimidated by Sandusky at the time.

And he`s not been reprimanded. So, come Saturday, a hundred thousand
people, Beaver Stadium, look for him with the red hair. I can`t fathom why
he wasn`t fired, hasn`t been fired. And the only conclusion I can come to
is perhaps because this grand jury report regards him as a credible witness
and an eyewitness, that maybe Penn State didn`t want to put itself at odds
with someone whose testimony will be necessary.

It just doesn`t make sense.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Buzz, we`re not HBO. We can`t use the
language you used, but, by the way, I love the way you said it in your
piece today, because we have used words like molesting. I don`t even know
what that means. I want to know.

I know it`s crude language, but at some point, somebody in the
writing journalistic creed has got to say, there ought to be a new standard
of ethics for reporting. You`ve got to say what you`re talking about.
What I liked about your column today, it got me to read the whole
indictment, the grand jury testimony, and you read what actually happened
here.

It took some journalists to stop using these cute, dainty phrases,
that don`t teach you anything about the horror of this thing.

BUZZ BISSINGER, AUTHOR, :"FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS": Well, I mean, and
that`s -- and that`s why I used them. I did not use it gratuitously, and
I`m not going to repeat them here. But, you know, you can say, as you say,
"molesting," it does not get across the image and the sounds of Mike
McQueary, who was the graduate assistant -- and, by the way, he`s not going
to be on the sidelines, he`s going to be in the press box, because they`re
scared for his safety, as they should be.

It doesn`t get across, when you say "molest," what that kid was going
through. This was a 10-year-old kid, as you say, hands up here, against
the wall. He is naked, and this coach, who is about 55 or 56, is naked,
allegedly, behind him, doing sodomy -- doing sodomy.

And McQueary, as Michael says, is 6`4" and a quarterback. How can he
not run in -- and this is why I get upset -- run into that shower and say,
what the hell are you doing?

And I`ll tell you why. It is the code of Omerta. These college
staffs at places like Penn State, it is like the mafia. And I`m not being
-- it`s not a hyperbole. They stick to their own, they protect their own,
they keep to their own.

And I think it was more fearful, oh, my God, it`s Jerry Sandusky,
assistant coach of Penn State for 29 years. My God, it`s coach, what do I
do?

What does he do? Basically, nothing.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s big-time college sports and we know which
direction it`s gone all these years, Michael. Is this just the worst part
of what`s going with sports in college, taking the attitudes of anything to
make money, anything for the school to win, so the alumni can wake up
Sunday morning and read that their alma mater won the game? There is
nothing higher in your value system than the alumni to pick up the paper on
Sunday morning and see that their team won.

And to achieve that goal, anything goes. Is that the --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: My hunch is -- my hunch is that it`s beyond that. That
it permeates the political system as well. And that`s why I raised the
questions as to what became of the investigation in 1998, when there was a
report of an 11-year-old boy, 1998, four years before what we`re talking
about now with the incident that Buzz related.

MATTHEWS: Right.

SMERCONISH: I was reported to the district attorney. It was an 11-
year-old showering with Sandusky.

What happens next, Chris? He retires in 1999 with his head held
high.

And you know something I find curious? This is a guy who had a
stellar reputation as a coach. I`ve got to believe that there were other
universities in pursuit of him as a head coach.

In other words, I think it begs the question, if and when they came
calling, did Penn State say, oh, no, you don`t want this guy and here`s
why, privately?

My hunch is: a lot of people were in on it, including the political
apparatus.

MATTHEWS: Buzz, you`re an expert at the culture of sports, high
school as well as college. Of course, you`re famed for it, as well as
writing the great book, "Prayer for a City."

But let me ask you, what do you think this is the message to the
people out there, the alumni? What should they be getting out of this?
The alumni, the supporters of these big ten and other schools?

BISSINGER: Well, you know, my -- I mean, my hope is that this
becomes the tipping point, the turning point. I have given hundreds of
speeches about this at high schools, private schools, universities,
colleges, all over the country, about the overemphasis of sports -- the
danger of sports at the high school and college level. People nod, they
clap, and nothing happens.

This is an incredible scandal. This is not a sports scandal. This
is one of the worst scandals in modern history. I think it approaches the
Catholic Church, certainly not in dimension, but think about it.

And Michael is right. That 1998 investigation, they have Sandusky
admitting -- admitting that he did something inappropriate with a child!
He admits it! There is a detective hiding in the house who hears it.

And they do not press charges? And then he retires in 1999?

And apparently he was rumored for others jobs. And I know these
clubhouses and locker rooms. They`re cliquish, they gossip, they talk all
the time, and I`m convinced that `98 report, which was done by the Penn
State police, was buried -- was totally buried. And a lot of people read
it. And they said, oh, it`s Sandusky, God forbid.

The only way to get rid of this, license these programs out. The
university takes a fee, they become minor league systems. Get them out of
the academic setting. They do not belong.

MATTHEWS: OK. In the short-term, I think I`ve heard today that Penn
State knows how bad it is. They finally know how bad it is up there.

Thank you, Michael Smerconish. Thank you, Buzz Bissinger. It`s
great to have you both on.

Up next: for the first time, we`re finding out what Nixon told a
grand jury about the Watergate break-in and the cover-up. Nixon`s
testimony taken months after he resigned has been released today. We`ve
got the highlights, coming up.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: I`m out here in Los Angeles, as I said. And tonight, I`m
going to be on the Jay Leno show on "Tonight Show," talking about my new
book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," now ranked, I`m so happy, number three
on "The New York Times" bestseller listen.

I`m also going to be interviewed tonight by the great actor Richard
Dreyfuss, before a group called the Writers Bloc. And we`ll talk about the
intriguing relationship between Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy. That`s
tonight here in L.A.

And for more information on the book, go to our Facebook page,
Facebook.com/Hardball.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

It`s a big day for presidential historians, who are actually combing
through the newly released transcripts from former President Richard
Nixon`s grand jury testimony that he gave back in June of 1975.

For the first time, the National Archives and the Nixon Presidential
Library released the 11 hours of testimony. Of course, it was efforts to
cover up his administration`s involvement in the infamous break-in at the
DNC offices in the Watergate complex that led to his resignation.

But his testimony has never before been made public. After a
lawsuit, a judge ordered the material released, and today it was. It was
the only time President Nixon discussed the discussed the events under
oath.

Timothy Naftali is the director of the Nixon Library. He`s read the
testimony.

And Carl Bernstein, of course, is the legendary journalist who
covered Watergate and broke the case. He`s now a contributor to "The Daily
Beast."

Carl, why don`t you start? Your assessment of what is new here, if
anything?

CARL BERNSTEIN, FMR. WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Not much. It`s more
of Nixonian attitude. He`s cagey. He knows he`s under oath.

The real Nixon is the Nixon of the Watergate tapes, unfettered in his
office, ordering break-ins, fire bombings, covering up. That`s the real
Nixon.

This is a witness who wants to make sure that he is not caught in a
legal trap, who also wants to get some digs in at the prosecutors, at the
press, at his enemies. He thinks -- and you can see these things might be
read some day at some point. He`s very cagey.

In terms of the record of what the Nixon presidency is really about,
I don`t see much there that adds to the picture.

MATTHEWS: Yes. In other words, he had a lot of time to think over
those 11 months about how to cover himself.

BERNSTEIN: It`s the same Nixon as we see on the Frost interviews,
which is rehearsed. It`s not spontaneous, and it`s lawyered. He`s been
prepped by his lawyers.

But again every moment of Richard Nixon is fascinating. This is no
exception, including the digs, including the cageyness.

But really what struck me once again, he calls Watergate this silly
break-in, when in fact this was a huge criminal conspiracy to undermine the
very electoral process of this country. It was a conspiracy presided over
by the president of the United States.

I was struck also today -- I read a lot of testimony. I read the
Penn State testimony. I watched James Murdoch before the British panel
looking at Murdoch empire.

And I`m struck by all these institutions that become corrupted from
the top down because of a culture of willingness to do anything to get
one`s own goals. That`s what we see with Nixon.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Carl, I agree with you about politics, having worked in
it, everybody is led by the guy at the top. One time, Michael Dukakis said
something memorably, he said the fish rots from the stop? It`s an old
Greek expression, and it`s always true, you end up talking like the boss.

Let`s go to Timothy Naftali, who`s had a big part in getting this
out.

Sir, where did you see -- you`re not a defender of the Nixon record,
but you are, in fact, an exemplar of what we ought to know about it. What
is edifying? What do we learn that you found useful in terms of this
debate about this legacy?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, RICHARD NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Well, first of
all, this was our first chance, as Carl mentioned, to see the president
under oath talking about one might call the dark corners, the remaining
mysteries of Watergate. And this was his opportunity to shed light on him.
And as Carl mentioned, he doesn`t.

But something very important here is that the prosecutors, Henry Ruth
and the other Watergate special prosecutors did not know as much about
Watergate as we do now. In the last 30 years, there`s been so much
released that shows now the inconsistency between what the president is
saying about his actions regarding the IRS for example, and what we know to
be true.

In fact, you can go to the wall here in the Nixon a library and see
evidence of him ordering the creation of the enemies list, which as I read
today in the testimony, he denies ever having done or he says he cannot
recall having done.

MATTHEWS: He`ll clearly talking about the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Timothy, he`s talking about the IRS when he said I never
put together a list of people to be audited or to be attacked by the IRS.
He`s clearly talking about the IRS, as you understand it?

NAFTALI: That`s certainly what he was saying. In fact, because they
were pointing to a particular memorandum that they had access to, the
prosecutors had access to.

MATTHEWS: OK.

NAFTALI: But the prosecutors back then did not have access to
Haldeman`s notes of June 23, 1971, when the president ordered the creation
of a list to give to the IRS to harass people.

So, there were things -- there were follow up questions that the
prosecutors just couldn`t ask then. They didn`t know. They just didn`t
know.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Timothy Naftali. And the great
Carl Bernstein -- sir, thanks for joining us.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with a bigger issue behind Rick
Perry`s inability to remember the third government agency he wants to ax.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:

Rick Perry`s inability to remember the third federal agency he wants
to eliminate tells us about the abject failure of the Tea Party folks to
take this thing seriously, this thing being the better running of our
national government. If you really don`t think a government agency is
doing its job, you are unlikely to forget its name -- and that`s unless
you`re simply not being serious.

And this is precisely my criticism of the Tea Party people, the ones
who throw around terms like secession without any sense of the horror that
word unleash on our country the history speaks of. Rick Perry`s
intelligence is not being measured by these debates. His seriousness about
the role of government is being tested, and he is flunking that test, as
are most of the people at this end, his end of the political spectrum.

The trouble with the people who hate government, big government, is
that they have no idea about what government involves, the history of
government`s role in this country`s economic development.

For example, why are we bound together coast to coast economically
for all these years? Because of the transcontinental railroad.

Why are we the country best know for scientific agriculture? Because
of the land grant college system, the Land Grant Act Abraham Lincoln signed
that created all those state universities that have enriched our knowledge
of agriculture, like Texas A&M, for example.

Why did we have this educated middle class in this country that took
this country to the top of the world economically, in generations since
World War II? Because of G.I. bill which in a real way created the modern
American middle class that raised most of us.

Understanding the positive economic role of government is critical to
any debate about regaining our economic momentum today. Those who don`t
know it, those who think they don`t have to know it will continue to be the
clowns at the rodeo.

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

Tomorrow night, catch me on "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO. I`ll
be talking about I my new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero."

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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