1. Headline
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updated 11/15/2011 10:54:11 AM ET 2011-11-15T15:54:11

Guests: Sue Herera, David Corn, E. Steven Collins, Kathleen Kane, Todd Harris, Steve McMahon, P.J.
O`Rourke, John Harris


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Eye on Newt.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Washington. Leading off
tonight: Newt-ron bomb. You`ve been hearing it here for a while here on
HARDBALL, and now it`s showing up in almost every poll. Newt Gingrich is
surging in the polls -- Newt Gingrich, to sit in Lincoln`s chair and
perhaps sleep in Lincoln`s bed.

Well, fact is, with Cain feinting and Perry parrying, it`s Newt who`s
positioned to become the new anti-Romney, also the Gingrich who could steal
Christmas. Will Newt become the next Republican to self-destruct or the
first one to put a real scare into Mitt? He scares me!

Also, the spooky 1978 television interview with Penn State`s Jerry
Sandusky talking about how much he loves children. We`ve got the ghastly
video and the latest on this story.

And how about the law on reporting crimes against children? Does it
need to be strengthened?

Plus, a new wrinkle in the Herman Cain alleged sexual predator story.
Sharon Bialek`s then-boyfriend backs her story that the two met Cain -- met
Cain -- in the late `90s and that she told him Cain grabbed her during an
evening together. We`ll ask the HARDBALL "Strategists" whether Cain can
survive in the "anybody but Mitt" contest which it`s now become. I bet he
does.

And we`re going to ask the great P.J. O`Rourke tonight what he really
thinks of the Republicans who are running president right now and those he
wishes were running.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with this strange Republican Scrooge-like
love of other people`s misery.

We start with the search for Newt Gingrich. John Harris is editor-in-
chief of Politico and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" magazine and an MSNBC political analyst -- two greats on the show.
Thank you, David. Thank you, John.

A big day for polls today, and none more stunning than this new CNN
Opinion Research poll that shows that Newt Gingrich has jumped from 8
percent to 22 percent in less than a month. He`s now neck and neck at the
top with Mitt Romney, while Herman Cain has dropped more than 10 points.

So basically, a switcheroo, John Harris. Cain has lost his place to
Newt. What`s happening?

JOHN HARRIS, POLITICO.COM: Well, it shows that there is a group of
shoppers in the Republican Party who are shopping for anybody but Mitt
Romney. That`s been the case for the past six months. We`ve seen it,
various people go up and down, as Cain is now facing some trouble in polls.
A Politico/George Washington University poll found his support eroding,
especially as people learn more about the sexual harassment allegations.
We`ve seen them shopping for somebody else. Newt is clearly the
beneficiary of that.

MATTHEWS: David Corn, your thoughts on this? Because newt is
generally considered to be persona non grata as far as something like the
American presidency is concerned, if you talk to people in Washington.
It`s just unimaginable that he could be president of the United States, for
those who know him. But they all know he`s smart, but not presidential.

But here`s my question. Is this what John`s saying? It`s not a
question of picking a president, it`s basically finding another way to say
no to Mitt Romney?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I`m still
reeling from your image of Newt in Lincoln`s bed.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: But we`ll put that aside.

MATTHEWS: Well, he gets to sleep there if he gets the White House.

CORN: I know. But it`s, like, I feel like we`re in Wal-Mart, where
they go, Special -- you know, the announcements, you know, Shoppers, we
have a special on aisle 7. It`s another non-Mitt Romney candidate. Check
it out.

I mean, listen, you know to win in politics, you still need money,
organization, seriousness, and finally, to be able to survive scrutiny.
Newt Gingrich cannot. He`s as much of a flip-flopper as Mitt Romney is on
-- you know, on cap-and-trade, climate change, on mandates, on the Paul
Ryan budget plan. A lot of evangelicals say that he has one ex-wife too
many.

I mean, he is getting the -- he`s the beneficiary of this anti-Romney
sentiment that has been conveyed on one candidate after another. But as
soon as those candidates come into the spotlight and under the glare of
scrutiny, they all wither. So he seems to be next in line for this.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, John Harris -- and I don`t like to get too
personal here, but as far as public officials go, basically, people look at
Newt Gingrich and they wonder, I think -- like you wonder, like I wonder --
is there a statute of limitations on being Newt Gingrich?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean -- I mean, basically, he gets rid of the earlier
marriages. He gets rid of the early religions. He makes all these
changes, which are fair game. But at some point, your identity -- is that
changeable? Can you stop being Newt Gingrich, the guy who was basically a
troll in this town for years, basically, an attack agent against Jim Wright
so he could get the speakership. He called everybody corrupt but him.

Turns out now he`s a lobbyist, a serial married guy. Doesn`t the
religious right count anymore? Doesn`t the anti-Washington fever count
anymore? He`s the ultimate Washington insider, and now he`s moving up in
the polls, John.

HARRIS: Chris, a couple things I`d say about that. One, what David
says might be true, and I happen to agree with it, that there tends to be
the candidates looking for flavor of the month, or what have you. But you
have to say Newt Gingrich is clearly a much more substantial, accomplished
figure over a long period of time than these other people who have been the
candidate of the month.

Now, that long history he has, as you point out, Chris, has got pluses
and a lot of minuses. I think what Gingrich would need to do is to put
that long history in some kind of narrative of personal growth.

MATTHEWS: Yes!

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: You know, that`s what Nixon did in `68. There was a new
Nixon. Of course, it turned out the new Nixon was a lot like the old
Nixon. I mean, maybe more extravagant comparison, but would be Winston
Churchill, who had been on the scene for 40 years, seen as an erratic,
unreliable figure, but then somebody who -- the man met the moment.

I think Gingrich would need to say, Hey, you know me. You know my
pluses. You know my minuses. But you`ve seen growth, and I`m somebody
that`s ready for this moment.

MATTHEWS: Can you see it, John?

HARRIS: Well, that would be a stretch...

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: ... because I see in Gingrich`s career more continuity than
growth. The Gingrich that you see now doesn`t look -- to my eye, look much
different than the Gingrich who sprang upon the scene in the 1980s...

CORN: And Chris...

HARRIS: ... very attack-driven, prone to disorganization, always
interesting, but more surprises than most people want in a presidential
nominee.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: I think -- I think...

HARRIS: But that`s the case he would need to make...

CORN: I think the key word...

HARRIS: If he wants to bottle this polling, he`d need to say, Look,
this isn`t just something effervescent, this is real, and I`m here to make
a serious case that I should be president of the United States.

CORN: But you know, John, you`ve watched -- you`ve watched Newt
Gingrich as long as I have and you`ve talked to people who have worked for
Newt Gingrich over the last few decades. And they all say that he is
really not prone to changing his basic ways. He may change his family, he
may change his religion, but they always talk about how hard he is to
handle, about his erratic streaks. He decides atone point in his career,
he`s going to be statesmanlike, and then the next point, he decides to be a
mean, mad-dog attack machine.

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: He just can`t really get into a consistent, steady place. And
Chris, you and I talked about this not too long ago. He is really -- he
has a very sharp, mean streak that comes out again and again...

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: ... in politics and...

MATTHEWS: OK, but people aren`t stupid, though.

CORN: And do Americans want that in a president?

MATTHEWS: People aren`t stupid. I think they do try to find a reason
-- a safe way through this difficult time we`re in, and that includes
conservative Republicans. They`re trying to find a rational way away from
Obama.

Back to you, John. You said something really smart about growth, and
I do think that`s what people look for. They look for it in President
Obama. Most people who like Obama, and I like him, are hoping that he will
be able to demonstrate by next year growth, that there are things he may
have done differently if he`d done them again, if he had a chance to do
them again. The second term will be better than the first because of his
maturity, that politics is, as Arthur Schlesinger once said, a learning
profession. You have to keep learning it and getting better at it.

I want to go back to that. The two candidates who are doing the best
right now in the polling are experienced. That`s Mitt Romney and Newt
Gingrich. I think you`re onto something.

Let`s take a look at the new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. It went
back and contacted over 100 Republicans who were polled earlier this month
to see how their views have changed. In that re-survey, as we`re calling
it, we found Romney was up 5 among his group, Cain was down just 1 point,
but Gingrich climbed 5 and Perry dropped 4.

So John, people are trying to gain experience on these candidates,
too, as well as looking for growth and experience. So this is a learning
process. What are the voters learning now that they`re looking for? What
do they want besides an alternative to Mitt Romney, at least?

HARRIS: I think they`re looking for somebody that can unite the
conservative wing of the party and yet also be credible. Michele Bachmann
was interesting because of her conservative rhetoric that caused a lot of
conservative hearts to go aflutter, but ultimately, she didn`t pass the
credibility test, the plausibility test.

So they`re looking for somebody whose ideology resonates but who seems
ready to carry the party`s banner a year from now, who passes that
credibility threshold.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s a rational statement by Herman Cain, David,
and I want you to react to this because I know you will have a strong
reaction. I`m not that impressed, except that it does have a certain inner
consistency. He`s learned to talk like a typical Republican conservative,
not in that sort of both-way -- "Wrong-way Corrigan" way he likes to talk.

Here`s Herman Cain saying in the GOP debate this Saturday night that
he didn`t believe in torture, but that Watergate -- Watergate, there`s a
slip! -- waterboarding was OK with him. Bachmann agreed that waterboarding
should be used, while Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman called it torture.

Here`s Cain`s explanation. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that (ph)
following the procedures that have been established by our military. I do
not agree with torture, period. However, I will trust the judgment of our
military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture.
That is the critical consideration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cain, of course you`re familiar with the long-
running debate we`ve had about whether waterboarding constitutes torture,
or is it enhanced interrogation technique?

CAIN: I agree that it was an enhanced interrogation technique.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then you would support it as president? You
would return to that policy?

CAIN: Yes. I would return to that policy. I don`t see it as
torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And taxes are enhanced revenue. Anyway, President Obama,
not surprisingly, disagreed with Cain. Here he was, responding to those
waterboarding comments himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Waterboarding is
torture. It`s contrary to America`s traditions. It`s contrary to our
ideals. That`s not who we are. That`s not how we operate. We don`t need
it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing
by ending that practice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There we go, David. And I have to tell you that people
like Colin Powell have different views than people like Dick Cheney. I`m
telling you, this turning it over to the generals doesn`t solve your
problem. You can get a general -- you can get a psychiatrist to say
anything. You can get a general to say anything. What a stupid comment!

CORN: Well, Cain got it exactly wrong when he said he would go with
what the military says. Actually, the military handbook doesn`t include
waterboarding. It was the CIA and other intelligence services that used
these so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: David Petraeus and others in the military have never used it.
So it just really shows that he`s not...

MATTHEWS: Good for you.

CORN: ... ready for primetime, but then he throws the red meat out
because -- I`ll take issue with what you said a moment ago, Chris. I don`t
think every Republican voter is proceeding in what you would call a
rational "Let`s find the guy who can win" procedure. I think a lot of them
want to feel rage and they want to feel...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: ... their candidates express their rage. I don`t think that`s
all of them, but that`s why they turned to Herman Cain, who clearly doesn`t
understand this issue, but they like, you know, what he says at the end of
his little meandering speech.

MATTHEWS: See what happens when I try to be generous?

CORN: I`m sorry. I can`t help you on that one!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You just crush me. Anyway, thank you. I think we`re
getting onto something. I think this guy doesn`t know what he`s talking
about, generally, especially about his past behavior. Thank you very much,
John Harris. What a pro. And thank you, David Corn. You warm my heart
when you tell me I`m too right-wing for you.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, coming up, Penn State plays its first football game
without Joe Paterno on the sidelines -- he was in the stands, actually --
in over 60 years. And now we`ve got a creepy video from way back from 1987
in which Jerry Sandusky -- him -- talks about how much he likes children.
The big question in State College and around the country, should the laws
on reporting crimes, felonies against kids, be straightened out and
strengthened?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: That was Jay Paterno, it turns out, who was at the game on
Saturday against Nebraska, not his father. Joe Paterno was at home.

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the legal
challenges to President Obama`s health care reform law. They`re giving it
cert. At issue, the so-called individual mandate, the government`s
requirement that everyone in America have health insurance. Oral arguments
will likely take place in February or March, leaving plenty of time for a
decision in late June, just four months before election day. What a
powerful decision`s coming.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Newly uncovered video of a 1987
interview NBC News conducted with Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky
takes a different tone now that we know Sandusky has been charged with 40
counts of child sex abuse. And that`s using the term lightly.

Here`s a portion of that interview where he describes how he started
his charity, Second Mile, the organization where he would later meet his
alleged victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY SANDUSKY, CHARGED WITH CHILD SEX ABUSE: How did it all start?
Basically, because I`m a frustrated playground director, I guess. I enjoy
being around children. I enjoy their enthusiasm. I just have a good time
with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Oh! Anyway, one of the many controversial aspects of this
case, of course, is the law protecting minors. When Joe Paterno heard that
Sandusky allegedly had anal sex with a boy -- think about that -- he told
his bosses, but he never called the police. And apparently, that satisfied
his obligations under Pennsylvania law, which begs the question -- are laws
like Pennsylvania`s simply too lax when it comes to issues like this and
reporting them to the police?

Now here is Kathleen Kane, a Democratic candidate for attorney general
in Pennsylvania. The election is next year. She`s prosecuted child sex
abuse cases. And E. Steven Collins, an old friend of ours. He`s a radio
host based in Philadelphia.

Let`s start with Kathleen. I want to get the law down here. If
you`re witnessing what looks like, by any broad definition, statutory rape,
rape, or sex involved by an adult with someone underage, isn`t that in
itself a felony and reportable, or required to be reported? Why do child
cases in this category get exempted from a requirement under Pennsylvania
law?

KATHLEEN KANE (D), PENN. ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: Actually, is it
is not. I mean, you can make the argument that it`s obstruction of justice
because that`s exactly what it is. But under Pennsylvania law, the
reporting requirement is, is that you need to have the care of the child in
your -- basically, in your hands.

So what we`re doing now is, with the law, we`re saying that now
employee (ph), you get to make the decisions, number one, whether this
constitutes a child sexual abuse case. And number two, you get to just
pass it off, as they, you know, do in a -- as a football term, pass it off
to your superior. We do need to change the laws in Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS: OK, this is HARDBALL, Kathleen, and I`m going to be a
little tough here. You mean to tell people in Pennsylvania watching right
now that if they see a guy having anal sex with a 8-year-old -- an 8-year-
old! -- in some gym, they aren`t required by the law to report that right
now? They`re not required by law to report that in Pennsylvania?

KANE: Chris, as disgusting as it is, and as heinous as it is, you do
not have an affirmative duty...

MATTHEWS: Wow.

KANE: Unless you operate under the mandated child reporting laws, you
do not have a legal obligation to report that crime. Now, obviously,
almost every crime arises out of a moral obligation. I can`t imagine any
adult, any man, who would walk away from a child, witnessing an involuntary
deviate sexual intercourse act...

MATTHEWS: Well, of course it`s involuntary. The kid`s 8 years old
having sex...

KANE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I mean -- E. Steven Collins, let`s talk about this in terms
of behavior. I said on Friday night that when you join an organization,
you better join it with your own moral compass established because
otherwise, you`re going to get your values from the damned (ph)
organization, whose all values -- all their values are aimed at protecting
that organization, whether it`s the U.S. Congress or Penn State football.

E. STEVEN COLLINS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And here`s a great case. All these people, including that
young guy, McQueary, should have known day one, second one, I just saw
something deeply wrong. I`m going to report it to the cops. I don`t want
to know what the coach thinks or what Paterno might think if I report it or
what my dad thinks Paterno might thing.

COLLINS: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead here. Go ahead.

COLLINS: That`s -- you hit that on the head.

I mean, Chris, these guys were not adults that are consenting that
were making out in the park. As you put it, it was a 10-year-old or an 8-
year-old, whatever. It was a child who was being plummeted by a monster.

How -- why do we need a law? McQueary couldn`t just say this was
wrong and try to break that up and then go get law enforcement? First of
all, that`s a basic problem, but, secondarily, where was the attorney
general? The attorney general`s office, the now governor of the state of
Pennsylvania, investigated this in 2008, and didn`t do anything.

I don`t understand that. I don`t understand that. I, like most
people in this country, respect Penn State, think highly of their football
program, the coach and all that. But we`re not talking about that. We`re
talking about raping a child, and how they can kind of look the other way,
all these years -- 8, 10, 11 years has gone by, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`re well-spoken. I love what you`re saying,
because I completely agree with you.

Kathleen, you`re up for attorney general. This is a moral issue as
well. And you have a leadership position you`re going for. Let me ask you
this. All those kids in Pennsylvania -- I was up there last year seeing
the Michigan game. I have to tell you, they`re all working-class kids.
They`re not rich kids. They`re not snot-nosed Ivy Leaguers who had the
world handed to them. They`re regular kids who probably had parents who
had to borrow, or they had to borrow money to go there.

The chance to go up there to Happy Valley and to be a Penn State
student is such a great thing. And now it`s been tainted by people who
somehow thought they were helping Penn State by covering up.

KATHLEEN KANE (R), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: Agreed.
And I agree with you.

And what bothers me is that we have put the choice whether to report
in the hands of a bureaucracy or an institution, rather than with the
trained law enforcement professionals that are out there.

We need to change the law to make the reporting concurrent. The
eyewitness, meaning McQueary, as well as the administration, needs to both
report the law. That way, they have accountability with each other and
they have accountability with the public too. We demand that of them.

It needs to be changed just from a reasonable amount of time to as
soon as you can get to a phone, because what`s reasonable to a layperson
may be a week. What`s reasonable to a child abuse prosecutor is immediate,
because you know that that abuse, it wasn`t the first time, and it
certainly isn`t going to be the last time.

And the thoughts that were running through that child`s head when
McQueary stepped in and that child felt that he was going to be saved and
wasn`t just sickens me. It is time to change the law. And it`s time to
take it out of the hands of the institution, and back into law enforcement.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want to get back to Kathleen about this Catholic Church
thing that just resonates through this case, in the sense of treating Penn
State football like it`s your religion, which is not a reach, by the way,
if we understand Penn State and what it means up there, football.

Your thoughts, E. Steven, about what this teaches us about adult
behavior and why we -- why people think protecting each other is somehow
good for society, you know?

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: I mean, this goes to the code in the police department that
says, we will look the other way, we`re going to protect this institution.

But Joe Paterno? I mean, he`s the guy who comes to the house of the
football player and says to the mom, hey, your son is going to be safe with
me here on campus. I`m going to make sure he graduates, he studies, and
he`s protected.

So what about the other kids, the at-risk kids? For the president of
the university, for the athletic director, and yes, even for coach Paterno,
this was a colossal, colossal blunder. And, I mean, I think our faith in
this particular institution is shaken.

I hope it will pass, but they need to learn this important lesson.
When you put the institution ahead of the children -- it`s what President
Obama said last night.

MATTHEWS: OK.

COLLINS: If good people do nothing, evil will thrive. And that`s
what we see here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A tough question for Kathleen -- and, by the way, I love
for you to be on this show as often as you like to have on, although we
have Murphy on, my buddy, as much as possible too.

KANE: Thanks, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

KANE: Thanks for your honesty.

MATTHEWS: Should we get rid of -- now I`m really going to ask you the
toughest question I have asked you, since I have just met you. Should the
statue of limitations be removed on such cases, the way that the cardinal
in -- the archbishop in Philadelphia wants it removed? Don`t we need to
get rid of the statue of limitations for matters like this?

KANE: What they have done now is the law has increased to the statue
of limitations is now up to age 50.

As a prosecutor, I would absolutely say that, you know, I know how
children feel. I know that it takes them many, many years to get the
courage, to get the inner strength to grow larger, to make sure that they
can take -- physically protect themselves. And I think 50 is fair at that
point.

You also have to look at the constitutionality of someone being able
to defend themselves.

MATTHEWS: So what is it now? How long can -- what`s the statute
now?

(CROSSTALK)

KANE: If a child is under the age of 18 right now, the statute allows
them to bring criminal charges up until their age of 50.

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think it should be?

KANE: I would like to see it taken away completely, like a murder
statute. This is no statute of limitations on murder, because they have
killed that child inside.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Good luck with that one.

KANE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, E. Steven Collins, as always.

Kathleen Kane, welcome to HARDBALL.

KANE: Thank you, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Up next, when Rick Perry had his brain freeze on last
night`s debate -- last week`s debate, the "Saturday Night Live" cast
couldn`t have been happier, of course. Let`s see what they did with it
next in the -- there they are -- next in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up, what was your first thought when last week`s CNBC debate
came to a close? Well, after Rick Perry`s brain freeze, perhaps it was
something along the lines of, how many days until "Saturday Night Live"
does this?

Well, let`s take a look at their newest spoof of that GOP face-off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Before I start, I want to say, I know I have had
some trouble in past debates. But tonight I`m feeling good. I think I`m
really going to nail it.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: There are three, three agencies I would cut
immediately, Commerce, Education, and...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It got away from me. Oops.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What is the third department you would cut?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Come on, man. I said oops.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Look, Maria, can we just move on? I want to be
president, but not like this.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Governor Perry, we`re still waiting for a third
department.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey. Leave him alone!

Look, I will tell you about the women. I will tell you all the vivid
details, and there are a lot. Just leave this poor man alone. Look at
him.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

As I said up front tonight, Perry just keeps on Perrying.

If you can`t beat them, join them. It may be the most poorly timed
brain freeze ever, but the Texas governor is certainly going all-out to
make light of it, even in the company of his opponents. Let`s take a look
at a candid moment before the candidates hit the stage for that CBS debate
on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. So, tonight, if
I need a lifeline, I`m just going to look to you, OK?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will fill in the blanks.

PERRY: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: So, the doctor -- after that episode -- the doc leaned over...

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: Well, but the doc leaned over, he said, you know, that`s
happened to everybody. He said, most of us just haven`t done it in front
of four million people.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I always say, I always
tell people, I say, I was just trying to make him feel better.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God, reminds him of Bert Parks, the old Miss America
moderator.

Anyway, it`s like they were prepping for a TV game show, those guys.
What`s next, phone a friend?

And finally he`s not all about pizza. Remember when Herman Cain,
dubbed the flavor of the month, he didn`t miss a beat before touting
exactly what flavor we`re talking about when it comes to Herman Cain, as he
says?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a big difference
between a flavor of the week that might melt and you get sick of it,
because there`s no substance, and Haagen-Dazs black walnut ice cream that
takes good every day.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And taking the ice cream talk a step further, in a recent
interview with "GQ" magazine, Cain readily complied when asked to assign
ice cream flavors to his 2012 opponents. Ready for the results?

Well, according to him, Mitt Romney, vanilla. I think we all saw that
one coming. Rick Perry, rocky road. No mistaking that his debate
performance played a role there. And how about Michele Bachmann? Get
this. Cain calls her tootie fruity. Well, it took him a while to get that
last one out, because he knew that he was -- quote -- "going to get in
trouble."

Anyway, up next, Herman Cain`s wife makes her campaign debut,
defending her husband against allegations of sexual behavior or predator
behavior. Which Gloria are you betting on, Cain or Allred?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
Wrap."

Stocks coming off smartly off the lows of the day, but still finishing
in the red. The Dow Jones industrial average giving up 74 points. The S&P
500 shedding 12, and the Nasdaq losing 21 points.

Investors pretty much treading water today, resulting in downright
anemic volume levels for a non-holiday session. Boeing, though, was one of
the few movers after signing the biggest deal in the history of that
company, an $18 billion order from Emirates Airways for 50 jets over a
dozen years -- a half-dozen years.

IBM finished flat despite Warren Buffett telling CNBC today that
Berkshire Hathaway has bought more than $10.5 billion worth of its stock
this year. Internet companies had a pretty good day after Citigroup
updated Salesforce.com, citing increased confidence in its long-term
earnings potential.

And many of the retailers edged higher after Lowe`s delivered better-
than-expected earnings and an improved full-year profit outlook.

And that`s it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide -- and
now back to Chris and HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. VICTOR ZUCKERMAN, FORMER BOYFRIEND OF SHARON BIALEK: I can
confirm that when she returned, she was upset. She said that something had
happened and that Mr. Cain had touched her in an inappropriate manner. She
said she handled it and didn`t want to talk about it any further.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was the ex-boyfriend,
years ago, of Herman Cain`s accuser, Sharon Bialek, who`s represented by --
she`s represented by Gloria Allred.

In an interview airing today on FOX, Herman Cain`s wife, who has until
now has not been part of the campaign, will defend him.

Will this strategy help keep Cain in the running?

Also, at the Republican debate this weekend, the GOP candidates were
fierce on foreign policy, all hawks, and on Iran, Mitt Romney made a clear
contrast between himself and President Obama. He said if the president is
reelected, Iran will get a nuclear weapon. If he, Mitt Romney, is elected,
they won`t.

Is this the way to win the presidency? These are the questions
tonight for the strategists. Will Cain`s strategy of putting out his
family work? And will Romney`s tough talk on Iran help him win the
nomination and the White House?

Steve McMahon is the Democratic strategist and Todd Harris is the
Republican strategist.

Gentlemen, I want to ask you.

I want to start with you, Todd, because you`re so fascinating on these
subjects.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Because this is all being played in your playpen,
basically, the Republican Party.

Do you think that Herman Cain at this point is a plausible nominee of
the Republican Party if he doesn`t come out and clearly designate what he
did wrong, contain it to some reasonable inappropriate misbehavior, if it
occurred, and make clear he didn`t do anything that really gets to
character, if you will? If he doesn`t do that, where`s he stand?

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don`t see a path for Herman
Cain to win the nomination, if there ever was one, which I think is an open
question.

The fact that he and his campaign have bungled this whole thing so
thoroughly..

MATTHEWS: Unless it`s all true.

HARRIS: Well, look, either way -- if all of it is true, then there
are serious problems...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Would you have been able to handle it? Suppose he did what
he`s accused of doing, which is basically being a predator, saying, if you
want the job, lady, you have got to give me oral sex. If that`s true, is
there any way to get around that?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: No. And you shouldn`t -- no campaign should try to spin your
way out of that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. So you`re saying, basically, cover-up had to be part
of the strategy?

HARRIS: I`m saying that they should have gotten in front of this
story, if...

MATTHEWS: How do you get in front of that?

HARRIS: Because if it`s not true...

MATTHEWS: If it is true, what do you do?

HARRIS: Well, if it is true, then what sinking you is the fact that
you did it, not the story itself.

MATTHEWS: So fold the flags. Fold the flag.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There are some things that can`t be defended, even by a
superb adviser like yourself.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m not kidding. It`s serious business, obviously.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He sounded a little bit tongue-
tied.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, no, he handled that incredibly well, because he told
the truth, which is good to have on this show. He said there are some
things that aren`t indefensible.

MCMAHON: That`s exactly right. And the way you defend against it is
you don`t run for president.

(LAUGHTER)

MCMAHON: If you`re the person -- if you`re the person who is being
described by these women -- and there isn`t just one woman. There are
four.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s one that`s been crystal-clear. The other,
her attorney -- I have been following this case, as we all have -- her
attorney suggests that the pattern of behavior is similar to the one that
was clear on her...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... narration.

HARRIS: This is what you`re going to see, I think, in the polls in
the coming days.

There are two groups of Cain supporters. There are those who support
him because they love him, want him to be president. And there are those
who are with...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who hate Mitt Romney.

HARRIS: Yes, because they`re kind of parked there, trying to figure
out, you know, where -- where the hell they want to go. The hard-core
supporters who are with him because they love him, the fact that Gloria
Allred is attacking Cain is only going to embolden them --

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you lace that word "Gloria Allred" without
sarcasm? Has she ever done anything that was dishonest?

HARRIS: I don`t know if she has or --

MATTHEWS: OK. Why`d you do that to her?

HARRIS: Because --

MATTHEWS: Because she`s aggressive --

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: -- Allred.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Listen, they`re sitting there
-- Todd`s right -- half of them are because they don`t like Mitt Romney.
Half of them are there because --

MATTHEWS: They don`t like Newt Gingrich.

MCMAHON: They don`t like Newt Gingrich.

And the odd thing is, they chose Herman Cain because they were
rejecting the rules that exist, and we all know them. Herman Cain is being
held to the same standards as other candidates and he hasn`t fallen
completely off the field yet. That`s an amazing thing in and of itself.

MATTHEWS: One of the polls has him still -- here`s a part of Cain`s
-- Gloria Cain`s interview with Gloria van Susteren. Let`s listen to the
wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA CAIN, WIFE OF HERMAN CAIN: To hear such graphic allegations
and know that that would have been something that was totally disrespectful
of her as a woman, and I know that`s not the person he is. He totally
respects women.

I looked at -- especially this last lady and the things that she
said, and I`m thinking, he would have to have a split personality to do the
things that she said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you never know. I mean, she`s very good at
defending her husband.

HARRIS: It`s very compelling. And that`s why every single time when
there`s some kind of sex scandal in politics, everyone always rushes to
bring the wife out and to --

MATTHEWS: But that`s not always true. I mean, some of these wives
have not been as persuasive. I`m not sure that`s true, is it? The
governor of New Jersey?

HARRIS: It doesn`t mean that they`re always persuasive. Everyone
always rushes to bring them out.

MCMAHON: When you get to the point as a candidate that you`re
bringing your wife out to defend you against womanizing, the thing is
coming apart and the wheels are coming off very, very quickly. The Cain
campaign obviously understands that. And, you know, this is, I`m sure, the
first wife who`s ever been shocked, shocked, to learn that her husband is
out, perhaps, hitting on women. That her husband perhaps doesn`t respect -
-

MATTHEWS: What do you mean first woman?

MCMAHON: I mean, you know, many --

MATTHEWS: Are you that cynical?

MCMAHON: I`m pretty cynical --

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this -- it`s not "hitting on," I hate that
phrase. It`s aggressively, physically, basically assaulting the women he`s
accused of doing.

MCMAHON: There have been accusations that he`s done that. There
have also been accusations of a little softer touch. But either way, he`s
-- it`s a pattern, there was enough evidence --

MATTHEWS: It`s using your authority to get sex.

Here`s Mitt Romney on a rant at this week -- let`s switch to
something else. Look at this Iran thing. This is serious business. Let`s
listen to what Mitt Romney had to say about Iran and U.S. policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, one thing you can do,
and that is if we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.
And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they
will not have a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What does that mean, exactly? Israel is the one talking
about taking action, in their own self-defense -- understandably so. And
I`m not even sure I have a position on that one, rare enough. I don`t
always have a position.

But there they are looking -- it`s in their territory, it`s a threat
to them, not so much to us right now.

How do they say something like that? That he`s just going to, what,
go to war with Iran? Is he talking about going to war? Because I think
that`s what it might take?

HARRIS: I think, look, there`s the rhetoric you use in the campaign
and the reality of governing.

MCMAHON: Another flip-flop coming, right? Another flip-flop coming?

HARRIS: I think he`s absolutely committed to what he just said.

MCMAHON: For the time being, right, Todd?

HARRIS: And a lot of people who are very hawkish on Iran have a lot
to take issue with in terms of the president`s record. But the fact is --
here, I hope that Iran never has a nuclear weapon. I hope that -- I hope
that if we are involved somehow in making sure that that doesn`t happen,
that none of us ever have any idea of what actually happened --

MATTHEWS: OK, I understand that, but sitting around and saying --
one of the guys said, I`m going to tell Israel they can go ahead -- and
Newt said this -- they can go ahead and do it, but they say -- he only just
did it on television!

Let me ask you something -- Marco Rubio, you had a complaint about
our coverage of Marco Rubio, and as a member of our team, you have a full
right to respond?

HARRIS: I appreciate that. You guys had a good old time beating up
Marco. There`s a lot of talk about, you know, what he did or didn`t do.
What was never mentioned and was troubling for me, "The Miami Herald" said
that "The Post" -- "Washington Post" story that you had talked about,
itself had been, their words, embellished. "Time" magazine said that "The
Post" story, these are "Time`s" words, was exaggerated.

There was professor after professor who came out and said, these
people don`t have any understanding of what the exile experience actually
means. None of that was reflected on this show when you were talking about
it.

And I`m very accustomed to coming on here and --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I respect your loyalty to your client and your friend.

Let me tell you my view about this show. Whether it`s a Democrat or
Republican, when they engage in what I call resume inflation, whether it`s
Blumenthal, who`s probably a good man otherwise, he said he had fought in
Vietnam, or your guy who said he came to America, his family came here
after Castro, I like to straighten the record out. And I do exact a
certain penalty for people who change facts to make it nicer for them.

Your thoughts now?

HARRIS: A month before "The Post" story came out, Marco was asked
point-blank, when did your family come here? And he said, they came before
Castro. If he`s trying to embellish his record, he wasn`t doing a very
good job of it.

He got the dates wrong, but there was no political calculation to
make himself sound better.

MATTHEWS: Even though his Web site said he came here after Castro
took over.

HARRIS: We changed that, but the fact --

MATTHEWS: Ha! You changed it when you got caught.

HARRIS: No, no, if you are a Cuban exile, the way that it was
written was accurate. It was always written with that in mind when he
became a national figure, we realized a lot of people don`t understand this
kind of language. We`ve got to change it.

MATTHEWS: I do it -- I speak English and understand it.

Thank you very much.

MCMAHON: Todd`s back.

MATTHEWS: By the way, we`re not going to get any better on this.
But you have your position and I have mine.

HARRIS: Next time on the show --

MATTHEWS: You were defending your client and I`m speaking the truth.

Thank you, Steve McMahon.

HARRIS: The Obama/Kennedy airlift that never happened from Africa,
I`d like to talk about that the next time we`re on the show.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think we ever talked about that.

HARRIS: Yes. We ought to.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, fine. I never talked about it. Up next -- I never
talked about it, did it?

HARRIS: You should do three shows on it.

MATTHEWS: We`ve got a conservative author P.J. O`Rourke to lighten
things up here a bit right now. I think we can use that. He`s coming here
next. The hilarious conservative, P.J. O`Rourke.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: I`m speaking tonight at Gettysburg College up in
Pennsylvania. And speaking of Pennsylvania, John F. Kennedy and Richard
Nixon had their first debate, when? In 1960? No, actually, it was in 1947
when they were both invited to McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to face off as the
two hottest prospects in that year`s freshmen members of Congress.

They took a sleeper car back to Washington together that midnight.
Kennedy in the top bunk, Nixon in the bottom bunk, and it`s all in my new
book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero." Just like "North by Northwest" with a
different ending. It`s in the bookstores.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

We`re now just 50 days until the Iowa caucuses.

The big question now is whether Republicans will settle and ask Mitt
Romney to the dance, if you will, or whether they`re going to keep looking
for Mr. Perfect, Mr. Anti-Romney.

The great P.J. O`Rourke ends our show tonight. He`s a political
satirist whose latest book is "Holidays in Heck." A former war
correspondent experiences frightening vacation fun. It`s out in bookstores
right now. There`s the book right now.

And now that we have you, Gingrich, can you imagine him sleeping in
Lincoln`s bed? Can you imagine him in Lincoln`s chair? Newt Gingrich?

P.J. O`ROURKE, POLITICAL SATIRIST: It`s -- but, you know, on the
debate, he was the smartest man in the room. I mean, he was stellar --
head and shoulders above the rest of the candidacy. But a Gingrich
candidacy comes with a curse, Gingrich.

MATTHEWS: Ha! You have to take the man with the talk.

Herman Cain -- Herman Cain is a guilt-free man. I like him. He`s
not Catholic or Jewish. He has no guilt, like we grew up with.

O`ROURKE: Yes, I know.

MATTHEWS: He said the other day, I`ve never done anything
inappropriate. Anything. Ever.

O`ROURKE: Oh, bless his heart.

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t you like to be like that guy?

O`ROURKE: Yes, I would. But isn`t he the guy that you`re next to on
the bar stool? Isn`t he the guy on the bar stool --

MATTHEWS: Am I right or am I wrong?

O`ROURKE: Yes, lots of good ideas -- or at least so they seem after
you`ve had three drinks.

(LAUGHTER)

O`ROURKE: And so is he. He`s --

MATTHEWS: Nine-nine-nine.

O`ROURKE: Nine-nine-nine, you add that up, it equals about what I`m
paying in taxes now if I cheat a little, you know?

MATTHEWS: My theory about Romney is he`s too happy to be the
nominee. They don`t want happy. They never had a zit, never had a
hangover, never had a bad day. Beautiful wife, beautiful kids, lots of
money. Never had a bad day.

O`ROURKE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And the Tea Partiers don`t know guys like that.

O`ROURKE: No, because there aren`t any.

(LAUGHTER)

O`ROURKE: We don`t know guys like that either.

MATTHEWS: Let`s look at Perry. He looked great before he hit the
stage. He looked great, didn`t he?

O`ROURKE: You looked great, a little loud on the necktie.

But I`ll tell you, with Texans -- you know, Texas politics is such a
special thing. And they really are tough politicians. But you have to
soak them in Washington for a long time before they`re presentable to the
general public outside Texas.

MATTHEWS: You have to marinate them.

O`ROURKE: You have to marinate them.

I saw this piece of Texas campaign letter one time, it`s a match
book. Imagine this. It`s a match book. And all it said about the
candidate on it was Democrat, veteran, rancher.

MATTHEWS: OK. Now, you can dream with us. There`s a few candidates
out there that many in the Republican Party thought should have ran. They
should have recruited them.

That list includes the great Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie
and Mitch Daniels. Which one of them do you think would have been the
happy leader of this gang? The guy in the red shirt himself who should be
on the gang.

O`ROURKE: Give me any one of them. Give me any one of them.

I told Haley, I know Haley for a long time. I told Haley, I said,
Haley, for a small ambassadorship, someplace warm and pleasant, I will go
around, I will translate for you. When you speak, I`ll tell people what
you say.

MATTHEWS: OK. What was your worst vacationing experience?

O`ROURKE: My worst vacationing experience, skiing in Ohio.

MATTHEWS: You couldn`t find a mound.

O`ROURKE: You know, the top elevation in Ohio is like 500 feet. I
was talking to the "Ski Magazine" editor. And I said, you know, you`re
always doing these beautiful places that nobody can afford to go. Come on,
why would you do a thing about skiing in Ohio. He said, OK. I had to go
do it.

MATTHEWS: My wife went skiing in Kuwait. You ever hear about that?
An indoor ski resort?

O`ROURKE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, you know, I once sat with the late Tony Snow.

O`ROURKE: Oh, I hear --

MATTHEWS: Back in the drinking days. And we listened to you, I have
to tell you, we listened to you together for about two or three hours one
night. And you did "Parliament of Whores." And I got to tell you, I have
never had more fun than listens to you, Mr. O`Rourke.

So, what is it -- how can you keep your mood about politics today,
when you have a stinky list of candidates in the Republican side? Maybe
not Romney, but the others.

O`ROURKE: Scotch works for me. I don`t know

MATTHEWS: You just drink your way through it still?

O`ROURKE: Drink your way through it -- yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Who wins the election next November -- general election?

O`ROURKE: Romney if the economy is lousy, Obama if it`s coming back.
It`s that simple.

MATTHEWS: And what`s it going to be? Come on, what it`s going to
be?

O`ROURKE: What it`s going to be -- it`s going to be Romney because
the economy is not coming back. Don`t go long on the euro.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. P.J. O`Rourke, I may disagree
with you. Bu I`ll tell you by next November. Thanks. A great guy, great
book.

When we return, "Let Me Finish" with how the Republican presidential
candidates seem to take great joy in pain, suffering and the misery of
others. They are scrooges, these people, and Bachmann has proved it again
the other night.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this. It`s almost Christmas
time, and all the Republican candidates are in the mood, if you will.

Here`s Michele Bachmann. Quote, "Our nation needs to stop doing for
people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means if
anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." Neither shall he eat.

Well, for a chorus to this Scrooge-like sentiment, consider as the
chorus the booing at that GOP debate when a soldier fighting in Iraq
identified himself as being gay. Or the cheering when Congressman Ron Paul
said that if some 30-year-old in a coma didn`t buy life insurance, he
should die. Or when Rick Perry talked about all the executions he`s
approved and that audience cheered like hell.

Or when Herman Cain kissed off waterboarding OK with him -- he being
the man who said that electrocuting people across the Rio Grande is equally
OK with him. That putting alligators in a moat on our side of that wall
would be just what the doctor ordered.

All these calls for action have a certain ring to them. Don`t you
think? Pain, punishment, misery, sometimes death -- often the same
approach to people Republicans don`t like. Not just the condemned but
border crossers coming here to find work, shirkers of all kinds --
terrorist suspects, gay people. All proposed the very worst on those they
don`t like, accompanied by a sheer totality of glee, joy at the misery of
others.

Indeed, joy as triumphalism of the spirit. They suffer and die. We
survive and get on, fa la la la la, la la la la.

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

"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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