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updated 11/29/2011 10:04:22 AM ET 2011-11-29T15:04:22

Guests: Ron Christie, Sam Stein, Jennifer Donahue

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mitt versus Newt.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Chicago. Leading off
tonight: Is Newt the guy the White House really wants? The big political
story of the weekend was the New Hampshire "Union Leader`s" endorsement of
Newt Gingrich for president. Endorsements don`t mean as much as they once
did, of course, but this one may be as big as it gets.

Still, the people who may be happiest about this endorsement are
sitting in the White House. If Newt actually won the nomination, you`d
have to think he`d be a much fatter target for President Obama than Mitt
Romney. What the endorsement really means -- that`s our top story tonight.

Plus, Mitt versus Mitt. Even if the Obama campaign is happy about
Newt, they`re preparing for Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I was an
independent during the time of Reagan/Bush. I`m not trying to return to
Reagan/Bush.

The principles that Ronald Reagan espoused are as true today as they
were when he spoke them.

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There you go again.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And that`s just part of a -- a small part of a new DNC
video that skewers Mitt Romney with his own words, and to devastating
effect.

Also, the big political fight this week. Republicans are fighting
President Obama on extending the payroll tax holiday. So let`s get this
straight. Tax cuts are always good for the economy, except when Democrats
propose them.

And is the Occupy Wall Street movement to the 1912 -- the 2012
election what the anti-war movement was to 1968? In other words, could it
unintentionally turn the middle against the Democratic candidate, President
Obama, and help throw the election to a Republican who opposes everything
the Occupy movement stands for?

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a tribute to Chicago`s first lady,
Maggie Daley.

We start with Newt Gingrich. Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political
analyst and the HuffingtonPost Media Group editorial director. And
Jennifer Donahue is a political analyst, now a fellow with the Eisenhower
Institute.

Let`s look at this. The New Hampshire `Union Leader" endorsement of
Mitt -- of Newt Gingrich had a subtle slap at Romney in it. An excerpt
reads, quote, "Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. We would
rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells
us what he thinks we want to hear."

Boy, that is a shot. Howard, tell me about this. This is an
endorsement that doesn`t mean you win, but it means what?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, you don`t want to get in the gunsights of "The Union Leader." And
it`s clear that Mitt Romney is right there. Sure, Joe McQuaid, the
publisher and president, who I spoke to just a couple of hours ago to ask
him about the endorsement, his thinking behind the endorsement -- and the
first thing Joe McQuaid said to me was, Did you see "Saturday night live"
last week in the skit that they did about Mitt Romney?"

That`s the one where the comedian plays Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney
says he`s been told by his advisers to be 15 to 17 percent more edgy in the
future of the campaign -- in other words, making fun of the phoniness of
Mitt Romney as a candidate. Joe McQuaid was very focused on that. And
clearly, he wasn`t going to put up with a Mitt Romney. He didn`t endorse
him last time, not endorsing him this time, picked Newt Gingrich because
Newt Gingrich, he believes, McQuaid believes is the strongest, most potent
conservative to go after Barack Obama.

I think what the Republican base is looking for, the conservative base
is looking for is not only somebody who`s qualified, but somebody who can
really take the case and the argument for conservative values to Barack
Obama. And Newt Gingrich, whatever you think about his record, is a
terrific attack guy and a terrific debater, and I think that`s what Joe
McQuaid wants to see out of the New Hampshire primary.

MATTHEWS: Jennifer, remind me because I`m always listening to what
you`re predicting -- weren`t you predicting many weeks back that Romney had
a problem up there?

JENNIFER DONAHUE, THE EISENHOWER INSTITUTE: I think that Romney
really still does have a problem up there. And you`re right, I`ve been
saying it for a long time. I think it`s his lack of leadership and what is
a perceived inauthentic character flaw, a real trait, that he says one
thing to one group, says another thing to another group at a different
time. I think McQuaid saw right through that, as many of the voters do.

I don`t think that Romney is reflected in the polls as where he really
is. I think he`s actually capped. I think Gingrich is in a competitive
situation, where he might actually be able to turn this into something.
Some years, "The Union Leader" endorsement really means something. Some
years, it doesn`t mean that much. This year, I think it has legs.

It helped McCain in 2008, when McCain was trying to come back from the
dead, and that endorsement helped a lot. We saw today Newt Gingrich get
eight endorsements from House members in New Hampshire. And I think voters
are going to take a hard look at him.

FINEMAN: Yes. Chris...

DONAHUE: They want a real conservative leader.

FINEMAN: Chris, there`s also...

MATTHEWS: This is where I -- let me look at -- let me just try
something by both of you because I think Newt Gingrich could win the Iowa
caucuses and go ahead and win in New Hampshire. Here`s why. "The Union
Leader" has only endorsed three Republicans who`ve gone on to win the
actual New Hampshire primary. That`s, of course, Reagan in `80, Pat
Buchanan in `96 and McCain in 2008.

But if its goal is, as Jennifer says, this time to chop the legs off
of Romney, get him down from 40 down to about 20, as the neighboring
governor from New Hampshire, and just limit him to about 20 points.
Anybody, especially Gingrich, can then knock him off.

If the goal is to reduce his number, his percentage, can they do it,
Howard? And then Jennifer.

FINEMAN: Well, as I said, I think, having covered the state for a
long time and knowing Joe McQuaid and "The Union Leader" and its moves very
well, they`re more potent when they`re going after somebody than when they
are endorsing somebody. You don`t want to get in their sights, and I think
that`s precisely where Mitt Romney is going to be.

Another point I`d make, Chris, is -- and Joe McQuaid was telling me
this -- he was astonished at the amount of coverage that his endorsement
got. It`s not only because of 24/7 cable, but because of social media and
the Internet. This endorsement has reverberated all around the country.
And it`s important in New Hampshire, as Jennifer was saying, in terms of
the state officials endorsing Gingrich, but it`s also very important around
the country.

This bought Newt Gingrich a tremendous amount of credibility among
knowledgeable political people all across the Republican landscape.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this -- Bill Clinton. Let`s take a
look at Bill Clinton here. He`s up to something, and I`m wondering about
it. Here`s Bill Clinton talking to Newsmax, a part of his book promotion,
I guess. He was asked why he thinks Gingrich is surging in the polls.

He says stuff here that sounds pretty generous towards Newt Gingrich,
and I wonder how this is going to play in the White House, how it`s going
to play with the country. Here`s Bill Clinton saying pretty nice stuff
about a Republican who may well be the nominee against President Obama.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he --
because of his performance in the debates -- and it`s not necessarily --
it`s not any traditional sort of charisma, it`s that he is -- he thinks
about this stuff all the time. He`s articulate, and he tries to think of a
conservative version of an idea that will solve a legitimate problem.

For example, last night -- I watched the national security debate last
night, and Newt said two things that would make an independent voter say,
Well, I`ve got to consider that. I think he`s doing well just because he`s
thinking and people are hungry for ideas that make some sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard, what`s that about?

FINEMAN: What`s it about in Bill Clinton`s mind or what`s Bill
Clinton up to?

MATTHEWS: Yes, what`s Bill Clinton -- what is he up to? Yes, what do
you think? He`s certainly favoring Newt there, so is that -- is he playing
the White House game of helping Newt so he can be the nominee, and
therefore be easier to beat? Or is he just hurting -- having a little fun
and hurting the president to sell a book? I mean, I`m not knocking it.

FINEMAN: No, I...

MATTHEWS: He`s making news. We`re talking about him.

FINEMAN: From all -- and I talked to lots of White House and DNC
people today, trying to suss out not the Clinton story but the general
attitude toward Newt Gingrich. The White House is -- I mean, the
campaign`s pretty blase about Gingrich. The DNC, interesting, I think,
which -- which -- which is more interesting, which has a lot of people
who`ve been around Washington for a long time, take Newt very seriously.

I think the DNC, the party apparatus takes Newt more seriously than
the Obama campaign in Chicago does because they weren`t really around here
for the most part when Newt was a big deal in the old days.

I think Bill Clinton -- partly with Clinton, it`s -- he`s -- it`s, you
know, remembrance of things past. He did all those deals with Newt back in
the `90s. They had their fights, like Ali-Frazier, et cetera. You know,
they`re old veterans.

I also think there`s no love lost between this White House and Bill
Clinton. There just simply is not. And I don`t think it`s part of some
Machiavellian strategy engineered by David Axelrod to lift up Newt
Gingrich. I think that would be giving both the White House and Clinton
far too much credit.

MATTHEWS: It would give their love affair too much credit, too.

FINEMAN: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Jennifer, is going on here? The
president`s...

DONAHUE: I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We all know Newt is smart. He reminds me of a basketball
player...

DONAHUE: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... from the old -- I think it was the Sixers years ago.
York Derisi (ph) was like a sixth man or a 10th man. He`d come in the game
and get 10 shots in a row, then he`d lose the ball.

(LAUGHTER)

DONAHUE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I mean, he was a streak shooter that would throw away the
ball.

DONAHUE: Right.

MATTHEWS: And Howard knows what -- go ahead. Your thoughts?

DONAHUE: It`s funny because I think -- I think Bill Clinton is partly
putting the White House on notice because I think there is a tendency to
underestimate Newt Gingrich. In 1994, when he brought in the "Contract
with America" and the first Republican House in 40 years, he basically did
that under the radar. People were surprised on election day in `94 when
Republicans took the House.

And he did it and he organized it and he led and he created the
conservative movement that followed Reagan`s years, that we now live in.
So I think there are a lot of people who are nostalgic for Newt Gingrich
and that style of leadership.

I also think Gingrich has the capacity to bring out the base in a
general election in a way that Romney can`t do because they`re not
ambivalent about Gingrich. They feel he`s the true conservative.

MATTHEWS: Well, I could tell you who would like to see -- Howard, I
can tell you who would like to see a Gingrich versus Obama campaign all
next year. That`s anybody who works in the media. Wouldn`t you agree?

FINEMAN: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. You know, and a month ago...

DONAHUE: The debates would be amazing.

FINEMAN: Yes, a month ago, Newt Gingrich, when he was still at 3
percent, was saying, I propose seven Lincoln/Douglas-style debates with
President Obama. And everybody laughed at Newt. But we would love it.
Are you kidding?

And I think a lot of conservatives at the grass roots would love it,
as Jennifer was saying. They want -- my reading on them is that they want
somebody who can really take it to the president intellectually and in
terms of ideas and in terms of verbal combat, which the president, at least
in the campaign, was good at. So that`s another reason why he`s
attractive.

DONAHUE: And someone who won`t equivocate.

FINEMAN: Yes, and...

DONAHUE: I think also someone who won`t equivocate, who will say what
they think and be a straight talker. And that`s what Newt can deliver on.

FINEMAN: Right, although he can -- he can change his position from
time to time. But to quote the DNC...

DONAHUE: He can put his foot in his mouth from time to time, too.

FINEMAN: Yes. To quote the DNC guy to the point that Jennifer made,
that I spoke to a little while ago, he said, Anyone who underestimates him
does so at their own peril. And that`s the DNC talking. But I`m not sure
the people out in Chicago quite get the same message.

MATTHEWS: You got to wonder what the president thinks. By the way,
who would the Obama campaign prefer to run against, Romney or Gingrich?
Well, the latest polling out of New Hampshire from WMUR and the University
of New Hampshire shows that in a general election matchup, Mitt Romney
leads President Obama, but not beyond the margin of error, just 47-44.
That`s basically even.

But look at the matchup with Gingrich. At least as of now, it`s got
the president ahead 52-40. But you know -- Jennifer, this time you start.
It seems to me that in terms of just a pleasant outlook for the year, this
president, Barack Obama, would want to prefer, it seems to me, looking
forward to series of genteel debates with Governor Romney, where he`s sort
of predictable...

DONAHUE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... and he`ll throw his Sunday punch, but you know what
it`s going to be.

DONAHUE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Whereas Newt will have 40 or 50 follow-up punches. You
won`t know where they`re coming from.

DONAHUE: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And they may be thought up on the spot. Go ahead, your
thoughts.

DONAHUE: I totally agree. I think that Newt Gingrich turns on a
dime. He`s a great debater. He`s not afraid to really go for the jugular,
but he doesn`t do it in a very negative way, either. So I think he
actually could do it and dismantle Obama and make it very difficult for
Obama to be -- defend his record.

And I also think that Gingrich has the capacity to lead on television,
which Romney doesn`t. And Romney also doesn`t connect in person. Gingrich
has more charisma than Romney does.

MATTHEWS: Boy, you are killing Romney right now, you know that, don`t
you?

DONAHUE: Well, you know, I really don`t believe...

MATTHEWS: You`re assassinating this guy as...

DONAHUE: ... that he`s a strong candidate against Obama.

MATTHEWS: How can you -- how can Newt Gingrich -- you`re saying Newt
Gingrich is a warmer presence than someone else.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: Yes. I don`t...

MATTHEWS: Howard, can you get in here?

DONAHUE: I do believe that.

FINEMAN: I don`t agree.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s where I disagree with Jennifer...

(CROSSTALK)

DONAHUE: You`ve been with both of them.

FINEMAN: I don`t agree with that. I don`t agree with that at all.

MATTHEWS: Yes, what are you saying, Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, I agree that -- I agree that Romney is -- as Andrew
Sullivan said, makes plastic look genuine, but -- that`s Andrew Sullivan
talking, not me. But...

MATTHEWS: Of course.

FINEMAN: ... Newt Gingrich can be a very, very coldly dismissive guy.
He can -- he`s -- he has a -- he has a -- there`s something slightly off in
his radar about his conception of himself. To say that he has a
Churchillian view of himself is an understatement. And Newt Gingrich`s ego
is something that could get him in trouble.

His big challenge over the next days and weeks and months, if he ever
gets that far, is to keep that sort of sweeping, gigantic ego in check and
to somehow be a friendlier guy. When Newt Gingrich tries to be a warm and
fuzzy guy, it`s just as scary as when Mitt Romney tries to do it.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I...

DONAHUE: Well, he`s changed a lot over the years, though. I mean,
Newt Gingrich has changed completely in the past 10, 15 years. I think --
I mean, if you see him on the stump, he`s much more relaxed. He`s much
more comfortable in his own skin. Now he`s converted to Catholicism, he
seems like he`s very, very into the religion. He`s totally into his wife.

MATTHEWS: Well, Jennifer, as I ask everybody...

DONAHUE: I think he`s changed a lot.

MATTHEWS: Jennifer, as I ask everybody who`s married, and I ask you
all right now, those watching right now, do you ever meet anybody who
changes, like your spouse? I`ve never met anybody who changes. People are
the same guys -- when you meet the people you went to high school with at
the reunions, the 50th reunion, they seem like the same person.

FINEMAN: Well, but the point is -- the point is, Chris, though...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) go.

FINEMAN: The point is, though, Chris...

MATTHEWS: We`ve got to go. Howard...

FINEMAN: ... if the "Union Leader" can make it Romney versus
Gingrich, which the "Union Leader`s" going to try to do, Gingrich is going
to have a really good shot in New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. Thank you, Howard. And it`s good to
have a little kerfuffle here. Howard Fineman, Jennifer Donahue, who thinks
Gingrich is charming.

(LAUGHTER)

Coming up: Republicans are always for lower taxes, right? Well, not
this time. They`re fighting against extending the payroll tax credit.
Guess why? Because President Obama wants to cut taxes here.

And later, that devastating new DNC video we promised you about Mitt
Romney against Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT" SHOW: You remember Mitt Romney. He
invented "Obama care" before he was against it. Do you remember that?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Well, that`s what we did in Massachusetts. And that is, we
put together an exchange, and the president`s copying that idea. I`m glad
to hear that.

"Obama care" is bad news. And if I`m president of the United States,
I will repeal it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, could the Democrats make that flip-flopping of Romney
hurt?

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says another
woman will soon come forward saying she had an extended extramarital affair
with him. Well, Cain says the woman was a friend he helped when she didn`t
have a job, but says the accusations of an affair are baseless. He never
had a sexual relationship with her, he says. An Atlanta TV station has a
report that the two had an affair, I guess according to her, that lasted 13
years.

In the past month, two other women came forward alleging Cain had
sexually harassed them, and two others have made similar allegations
without being identified publicly. Those accusations helped drive Cain
lower in the polls after he enjoyed a stint at the front of the Republican
pack.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This payroll tax is set
to expire at the end of next month. End of next month, end of the year,
this tax cut ends. And if we allow that to happen, if Congress refuses to
act, then middle class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at
the worst possible time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Boy, that was the president speaking in New Hampshire last week on the
importance of extending the payroll tax holiday. That`s a tax cut.

When was the last time you saw a Republican oppose a tax cut? Well,
apparently, it`s the wrong kind of tax cut.

Here`s how the debate played out on the Sunday shows. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), MINORITY WHIP: The payroll tax holiday has not
stimulated job creation. We don`t think that is a good way to do it.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: The Republican position
is, they will raise the payroll tax on working families? I think that that
just defies logic. What we should do is to help these working families
struggle through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it appears Republicans favor a tax cut unless it will
help lower- and middle-class Americans, and, most importantly, unless it`s
proposed by President Obama.

They are also opposed to Democrats` plan to pay for it by taxing the
wealthiest Americans.

Well, David Corn is an MSNBC political analyst and Washington bureau
chief for "Mother Jones" magazine, and Ron Christie is a Republican
strategist and a fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at
Harvard.

Ron, I want to start with you on this for once, and I want to give you
the honor of explaining this.

Republicans believe that we should not do anything that`s onerous on
hiring people, because that makes it harder to hire people and reduces
unemployment. Is that correct?

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Generally speaking? Generally speaking. For example,
Republicans usually oppose any kind of -- or support a differential for
youth getting jobs in the summer, a lower minimum wage, for example,
because it makes them cheaper, and therefore gets more young people hired
in the summer, right?

So the general Republican working principle is, make it cheaper to
hire people per hour, whether it`s through minimum wage being lower or
lower taxes on hiring them, so that more people will get hired. Isn`t that
right?

CHRISTIE: rMDNM_Yes. So far, so good.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, what about this -- what about this time? Why
are they opposed to continuing the holiday or the tax cut on the payroll
tax?

CHRISTIE: Well, Chris, I think there are two things here at play.

First of all, politically speaking, at the end of December or before
everyone goes home for the holidays, I think you are going to have an
extension of the payroll tax holiday. What we`re talking about, really, is
a matter of politics, rather than a matter of substance.

The substance of the matter is, Republicans are very much against
raising taxes, particularly in a weak economy, for all the reasons that you
just outlined. You don`t want to hurt those who are helping to create jobs
in the United States.

What we have here, though, is an entirely different issue. You have a
payroll tax holiday. Last year, the Congress and the president came out
with an agreement that said, we are going to divert 2 percent of the money
that you would otherwise be putting away for Social Security back into your
pockets.

That amounted to about $19.24 in everybody`s pocketbook per week. Now
what we have is a Democratic proposal that says, we`re going to take 3
percent out, and not only are we going to take 3 percent out of Social
Security, but we`re also going to tax millionaires. We`re going to tax the
wealthy people, we`re going to tax the people who are creating the small
businesses in this country to pay for it.

So, if raising taxes is a bad idea in a weak economy...

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: ... then how is it you could also say you should raise
them?

MATTHEWS: Here`s what I don`t understand.

David, you take over. He`s your witness, David, because I only heard
the president say, let`s continue the payroll tax cut. There`s no quid pro
quo in the way it would be legislated. But Ron`s complicating the thing
here.

Basically, what you admitted...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Of course. The facts get in the way of a good narrative.

MATTHEWS: No, no.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, no, no.

MATTHEWS: No.

Go ahead, you, David.

CORN: Listen, the Republicans are kind of experts at having it both
ways on almost any issue.

You know, they passed the Bush tax cuts without paying for them, and
then they extended them without paying for them. They apparently want to
extend them again, ad infinitum, until the end of the universe without ever
paying for them.

So, when the president comes along and says he wants to extend the
payroll tax holiday, and he included, in his bill, a way to pay for it, and
then the Democrats in Congress came up with a different way to do that, the
Republicans all of a sudden are crying foul and saying, we can`t extend
these tax cuts. Oh, my God, we may even have to pay for these tax cuts.

These are the guys who have been calling for deficit reduction,
trillions of dollars in deficit reduction for a year now, the Ryan plan and
everything, and they don`t want to pay for tax cuts, but what are they
going to do, tell the middle class that, hey, when it comes to your tax
cuts, we don`t want to pay for them, they can go up, but when it comes to
the tax cuts for the rich, hey, we don`t have to pay for those, let them
just go on and on and on?

I don`t think this is a very good political argument or a good policy
position for them to stake out.

CHRISTIE: And, Chris, let me just jump in here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Ron, if Mitch McConnell -- no, I want to ask you if Mitch -
- I ask the questions.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: If Mitch McConnell were to ask you -- were to tell you
right now, if you just got a wire story right now that Mitch McConnell has
endorsed continuing the payroll tax cut, would you go along with it?

CHRISTIE: It depends on how it`s written, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, if the Republican leader in the Senate said it`s time
to continue the tax cuts, would you support that?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Would you support that?

CHRISTIE: It`s never as simple as that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m asking you.

CHRISTIE: This is -- and I`m telling you I think, as I said at the
outset, at the end of the deal -- day, we will have a deal with Republicans
and Democrats and President Obama and you will have that extension. As I
said, this is more politics than it is substance.

David talks about the Republicans put tax cuts that they don`t want to
pay for. That`s the craziest notion I have heard in my life. You earn
money. How much does the government deserve to have their hand in your
back pocket is the question. And the Democrats don`t want to touch
entitlement reform.

For this payroll tax holiday that we`re talking about, it`s $118
billion a year that`s being diverted from Social Security. I think what
this really addresses here...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: David, hang on a second.

What this really addresses here is the need for the fact that we need
to have overhauling the tax code as one of our key priorities, Republicans
and the Democrats alike.

MATTHEWS: OK. You changed the subject three times now, to
entitlements, to tax reform, to the issue of raising taxes on the wealthy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to this principle. I want David to follow
up here.

CORN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: The principle here seems to be that tax cuts are good if
Ronald Reagan proposes them or if Mitch McConnell jumps in or some
Republican puts the imprimatur on them.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Back -- even back in the `60s, when Kennedy tried to cut
taxes, the Republicans opposed them.

It just seems that unless it`s their idea, they`re fiscally
responsible enough to oppose them, just -- just as a general blanket rule.

Your thoughts, David?

CORN: True, but also when Ronald Reagan proposed tax hikes, which he
did five times, nowadays you can`t get Republicans to go along with that.

It really seems that only -- the only tax cuts they like now are the
ones that really benefit the high end. And, listen, of course, you have to
pay for tax cuts. There`s a revenue stream. It`s like if you`re going to
cut back on your revenue stream for the government, you have to do one of
two things. You can say, OK, we`re not going to have good food safety
programs. We`re going to cut back on defense or whatever.

Or you have to sort of say, we`re going to make up for that some other
way. The Republicans did not do that with the Bush tax cuts, and now
they`re getting into a whole huff about how to pay for the payroll tax
cuts. They`re not really paying for it. It`s making up the revenue.

And, Ron, the pay-for-it-ness, the way that you`re going to pay for
this, does keep the Social Security fund whole. That money goes into the
Social Security fund. So, it`s not -- you`re not robbing the Social
Security fund to finance these tax cuts.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Oh, David, David, please.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Let me finish. Let me finish.

Unless, of course, the Republicans want to do what they have done very
well in the last decade, put it on the credit card.

CHRISTIE: Oh, please.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s my prediction.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We have got to go. We have to go. I`m sorry. Quickly...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Oh, OK. Of course, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I would predict that Scott Brown up in Massachusetts will
vote to continue the payroll tax cuts if he wants to get reelected.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: You bet. It`s going to happen. It`s going to happen
anyway.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. I know. And if you were in the Senate, you
would vote for it, too, so I don`t know what you`re fighting this in some
weird kind of principle here. I don`t know what it is.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: It`s about substance over actually politics, substance over
politics, my friend.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: David Corn, and Ron Christie up at John F. Kennedy
Institute of Politics up at Harvard.

Up next: One of the baddest mouths on the left, or at least the
progressive left, is looking to get back into the Congress. Stick around
for that in the "Sideshow."

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up, Grayson for the prosecution. Well, after losing his House
seat last year with only one term under his belt, Florida Democrat Alan
Grayson is giving it another go, campaigning again to represent Orlando.
Think you don`t remember him? Well, maybe this will help jog your memory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: If you get sick in America, this is
what the Republicans want you to do. If you get sick, America, the
Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. That was Grayson in his element back during the
health care debate. Think he will be welcomed back with open arms if the
election works out in his favor? Well, maybe not, once his former
colleagues catch wind of his recent interview with "Newsweek."

When asked why he`s eager to make a Capitol Hill comeback, Grayson
said -- quote -- "I will be down on the floor every day calling them out
for the crazy stuff they do that nobody ever finds out about because
they`re not witnesses to it," and later, "The real two-party system in
America is the meanies and the weenies." This is Grayson talking. "The
meanies want to take away your benefits, and the weenies want to compromise
with them."

Well, if you think compromise is bad, vote for Alan Grayson.

Next up, break out the popcorn. It`s 999 the movie. Sounds like a
lot to handle, right? Well, luckily, it`s more of a short than a full-
length feature. But the Herman Cain campaign really did go with it,
releasing a six-minute animated sequence explaining the candidate`s tax
plan. And it wouldn`t be a real movie without one thing, a trailer.

Let`s take a look at the tease for 999, the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: The federal tax code is an overgrown monster, but it`s not
even a cool monster. It`s a dorky mechanical monster. The more
transparent the tax system is, the more accountable government has to be.
The 999 plan is simple enough to vanquish squirrelly bureaucrats,
transparent enough to deter cronyism. And that`s what 999 is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, perhaps not enticing enough to ramp up excitement for
the full six-minute version. I think we hear enough of it from Cain
himself.

Anyway, up next: Mitt vs. Mitt. The DNC has a new ad, as I said,
skewering Mitt Romney for his changing positions on the issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will preserve and protect
a woman`s right to choose.

The right next step in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is
to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s much more than -- where that came from when
we return.

You`re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Stocks snapping a seven-day losing streak, the Dow Jones industrials
soaring 291 points, the S&P 500 jumping 33, and the Nasdaq surging 85
points. Eurozone optimism and strong Black Friday sales putting investors
back in a buying mood after some big sell-offs last week. France and
Germany are exploring making radical changes to the original Eurozone
treaty, aimed at creating deeper but more flexible fiscal ties between the
members.

Meanwhile, American retailers racked up a record $52.5 billion over
Thanksgiving weekend. That`s up more than 16 percent over last year.

Amazon surged in anticipation of Cyber Monday, already announcing that
its Kindles have been selling like hotcakes.

Materials advanced as Carl Icahn offered to buy Commercial Metals for
about $1.7 billion. Anadarko Petroleum announced that a recent natural gas
find off of Mozambique is about twice as large as originally thought.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is this guy? Can you trust him?

ROMNEY: I have never supported the president`s Recovery Act, all
right, the stimulus, no time, nowhere, no how.

I think there is need for economic stimulus.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: You`re only allowed a certain number of flips
before people begin to doubt your character.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was a portion, of course, of an online Web video that the
Democratic National Committee has created to remind voters that Mitt Romney
has turned flip-flopping into an art form.

It`s called "Mitt vs. Mitt," and the DNC`s having some fun using humor
to skewer Mr. Romney. They have even created a movie-like trailer which
will air in six swing state markets this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: From the creator of "I`m Running For Office, For Pete`s
Sake" comes the story of two men trapped in one body, "Mitt vs. Mitt."

ROMNEY: I will protect and preserve a woman`s right to choose.

The right next step in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is
to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

NARRATOR: Two Mitts willing to say anything.

ROMNEY: We have put together an exchange and the president`s copying
that. I`m glad to hear that.

Obamacare is bad news.

NARRATOR: See it all at MittvMitt.com.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Well, the DNC is reportedly spending just $22,000, which
amounts to the trailer running just a few times in each market, but
obviously we`re showing it. The idea really is to get people like us
talking about it.

Alex Wagner is the host of MSNBC`s "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER." And Sam
Stein is The Huffington Post White House correspondent.

Thank you so much, Alex and Sam.

It seems to me you have got to be Newt -- I`m sorry -- Mitt Romney
thinking through how you find your way through the flip-flop issue. Is
this something, A., he can fix, or, B., that the independent voter`s just
going to say, hey, male or female, you know, I flip a lot on issues, I
can`t -- sure where I stand?

Is there any way this doesn`t hurt him?

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, of course, I think...

MATTHEWS: Alex.

STEIN: Oh, Alex first?

MATTHEWS: Oh, I`m sorry. Go ahead, Sam. Go ahead, Sam.

STEIN: Well, I mean, I think this is something that`s dogged Mitt
Romney for a while now. And it`s sort of ingrained in the voters` mind
that he has a problem with consistency.

My surprise is that it took the DNC to do this. Usually, you would
suspect that Mitt Romney`s opponents for the primaries would be the ones
who did it, like they did in 2008.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEIN: But, yes, of course it creates problems for him. As we saw
with John Kerry in 2004, if you hammer away enough at someone`s core
consistency, and you accuse them of being a flip-flopper, voters recoil.

MATTHEWS: Well, Sam, get through -- go to the next -- but go to the
next step.

STEIN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: How could you as a citizen voter support a candidate who
you knew who flip-flopped? Tell me the mental process of saying, yes, but
I would vote for him. How would go about doing that?

STEIN: You sort of hinted at it earlier on, which is someone could
reasonably say, listen, no one should be totally dogmatic if they can`t
change positions over the course of time. I want someone who`s actually
presenting new data, new evidence, and alters their position as such. The
problem is that`s not how elections are usually waged.

And so, what you see and what you should theoretically see in a
primary battle is Mitt Romney`s Republican opponents saying, listen, he`s
hiding his real views. He`s actually a centrist. Look at all these old
clips. They prove he`s a centrist.

Except the Republican field`s not doing this. It`s the DNC.

MATTHEWS: You know, Alex, Sam got to a point there that -- we`re
showing this ad. The DNC`s paying for this ad on a limited basis.
Republican conservatives are watching it. This is helping to bring down
Mitt Romney in conservative eyes.

ALEX WAGNER, HOST, MSNBC`S "NOW": Yes. It`s not only bad for
potential independent voters. But, yes, I think you`re absolutely right,
Chris, if you`re a conservative and you`re doubtful about Mitt Romney`s
position and you look in this add, it`s not just one issue, it`s
everything. It`s TARP. It`s the auto bailouts. It`s a woman`s right to
choose. It`s the stimulus.

I mean, and literally, the ads sort of pokes fun and takes -- there`s
a lot of levity in it, but it`s very serious. I mean, I think it`s just a
litany of issues. And look, there`s a K-2 of opposition research on Mitt
Romney that I think the White House must be just frothing over at this
point.

MATTHEWS: I just wonder about -- I wonder how the hard right, the
FOX viewer, for example, generally speaking, can support a guy who they
know doesn`t share their rock-solid right-wing attitudes. They just can`t
believe this guy is a fellow traveler.

By the way, we`ve got a new story to report here. It`s not exactly a
happy story. As I told you earlier, an Atlanta TV station has aired a
portion of an interview with a woman who says she had an extended 13-year
affair with Herman Cain, who`s still a candidate on the Republican side.

Here`s a clip of that interview with her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was pretty simple. It wasn`t complicated.
And I was aware that he was married and I was also aware that I was
involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Sam, what do you make of this? Is this guy already toast
in terms of actually winning the presidential nomination of the Republican
Party and this will be just perhaps a coup de grace? What do you think?
How do you calculate here?

STEIN: Obviously, we should withhold judgment until we see more
evidence. But is this not like the book tour that went terribly awry.

I mean, poor Herman Cain, we wants to sell book. He doesn`t want to
be president and all this stuff is coming out. Obviously he`s not going to
be president. This is just another nail in the coffin. If you looked at
his lawyer`s statement, the lawyer actually didn`t really deny it in his
statement about this specific allegation.

Cain went on CNN and did deny it. So, someone`s got the story mixed
up. But it`s all destruction.

And at some point, I would suspect that the elders in the GOP would
say, listen, enough`s enough. This is starting to tarnish the entire
party. We look kind of childish and immature here. Let`s get this guy off
to the sidelines, enough already.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Alex, your thoughts on this? Maybe he`ll stay in
now just to sort of keep his dignity. But, you know, this is the kind of
thing he ought to have given some thought to before he announced, I would
think.

WAGNER: He should have probably given some thought to a lot of
things, I think, Chris, you know? Whenever I see stuff like this -- you
know, with Herman Cain, it brings to mind that phrase, denial ain`t just a
river in Egypt, which is obviously quite cliche.

But the guy has never given us any kind of definitive answer on some
of his sort of untoward behavior in the last few years. I think that this
is, if not a nail in the coffin, this is just kind of the final nod, exit
left, please, Herman Cain. You know, I think for a while now, people have
been waiting for this thing to finally be over. I`m not sure this will be
it insofar as Herman Cain seems very reluctant to leave the national stage.

MATTHEWS: OK.

WAGNER: But in terms of being taken seriously, I think it`s over.

MATTHEWS: Let`s do better what we do better than anyone else. Does
this help to clear the field on the right?

You first again, Sam. Does this help clear the field for Newt to the
right of Romney? You got to get a clean shot that way. This could give
him a clean shot. Less interference with the Cain vote, less interference,
probably, from Perry already.

STEIN: Yes, I think you`re right on this. I think if Newt`s looking
at this, he would welcome any of those non-Romney candidates to get out of
the race so that he can have center stage. I`ve got to think that like Jon
Huntsman is sitting there, just sort of holding his head in his hands,
wondering how he can be trailing Herman Cain in the polls after all of
this.

At some point, Huntsman has got to move up at some point, right?

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think in New Hampshire, he`s going to help bring
down Mitt Romney, because if he can bring 10 or 15 points up there, it
might be just enough to bring with the help of the "Union Leader," as we
saw the endorsement this week, and put those two factors together, they can
bring Romney down below 25 and open the door for Newt. He could win two in
a row.

This is very strange, very strange. And maybe the White House is
cheering.

Thank you so much, guys. And, Alex, great going with that show of
yours. Have me on when you want.

WAGNER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Great show. I love it.

Anyway, Alex Wagner and Sam Stein.

WAGNER: Thanks, Chris.

STEIN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, could the Occupy Wall Street movement be to 2012
what the anti-Vietnam War movement was to 1968? This is not complicated.

Could the left, the far left, turn the mainstream America people, the
voters in the middle, against the Democratic president and throw the
election to a Republican? You know, a Nixon-like candidate, a Newt
Gingrich?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Barney Frank, the congressman from Massachusetts, has
announced he won`t run for re-election in 2012. The 16-term congressman
from Massachusetts has been in office since 1981 and has been a major
player in housing and banking policy. He`s also been a lightning rod for
Republicans who opposed his consistently liberal positions and fear his
wit.

At a news conference today, Congressman Frank said he originally
intended to run for one more term, but changed his mind in part because of
the state`s new redistricting map will move in more than 300,000 new
constituents into his district.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

What`s next for the Occupy Wall Street movement? We all wonder.

More than two months after protesters first set up camp at Zuccotti
Park in downtown New York, the movement has spread to cities across the
country, and around the world, really. But questions remain about its
staying power and support among the broader American population.

Take a look at these latest Gallup poll numbers from last week.
While more people consider themselves supporters of the movement than
opponents, the majority of people expressed indifference towards them.
Isn`t that a surprise?

And perhaps more troubling for supporters, more Americans don`t like
the way the protests are being conducted by the protesters. Thirty-one
percent say they disapprove, up from 20 percent last month. It`s that
disapproval that Republicans might hope to tap into this election in an
atmosphere which is somewhat reminiscent of `68.

This week`s "New York" magazine explores some of the parallels when
the anti-Vietnam War protests swept the nation and lay at the doorstep of
the Democratic Convention in Chicago in `68, Richard Nixon was able to gain
support by appealing to the so-called silent majority. He exploited the
frustration among mainly white middle class voters with the counterculture
movement.

Is there a danger in 2012 that the Republican nominee could do the
same?

John Heilemann, an MSNBC contributor, wrote that cover story after
spending a month reporting on the movement and talking to their leaders.

John Heilemann, I`m so impress by you seeing the parallel here.
Isn`t it interesting, at the same point that you see this parallel that
this may be, if you will, hurting the left, the center left in the form of
President Obama, that we`re seeing Newt Gingrich, a real Nixon-type
candidate, emerging on the right?

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And you saw, Chris, you
know, the notion of the silent majority and the appeals to the resentment
of some potentially of this kind of a movement. You saw Newt Gingrich
market-testing that just a week ago, when he said, you know, I would say to
the protesters, they should get a job and get a bath. You know, we`ve seen
Eric Cantor do similar things, calling them mobs and Herman Cain say that
they`re kind of designed to distract people from Obama`s failed policies.

It is, you know, there`s a real concern. President Obama is
naturally trying to tap into some of the populist frustrations that the
movement has kind of brought to the surface in the broader population. And
those polls you cited are interesting. I`m more impressed with the fact
that like 75 percent or 80 percent of the country essentially agrees with
the critique of the Occupy Wall Street people, that the very rich have the
deck stack in their favor, and that the power of big banks and corporations
should be reined in. That`s a big popular support for their basic
underlying critique.

But you see the right trying to do -- already trying to make a kind
of Nixon move. You see Obama trying to tap into that energy.

And what I found talking to the people down on Occupy Wall Street is
that they very much, like the new left in 1968, their attitude towards
Barack Obama is, he`s as bad as the Republicans. We`re not interested on
being tapped into by Barack Obama. He`s our Hubert Humphrey.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, as you point out, John, some Republicans seem
to be channeling a Richard Nixon in response to the protest. Here was Newt
Gingrich earlier this month bashing the movement. Let`s watch and listen
to Newt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They take over a public
park they didn`t pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn`t pay
for, to beg for food from places they don`t want to pay for, to obstruct
those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and
to sustain the park so they can self-righteously explain that they are the
paragons of virtue to which we owe everything. Now, that is a pretty good
symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this
country and why you need to reassert something as simple as saying to them:
go get a job right after you take a bath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Newt`s attack was also reminiscent of late `60s
conservative fire brand George Wallace who in 1968 had this memorable line
to sum up the counterculture movement. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALLACE: There are two four-letter words they don`t know: W-
O-R-K and S-O-A-P.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Heilemann, it just seems to me that -- let me ask
you this -- not that I`m not supportive of their movement because I think
86 percent of the American people are supportive of their point, which is
Wall Street has too much clout in Congress, which you cannot deny on both
sides of the aisle. You see Democratic fund-raisers are just as busy as
Republican fund-raisers are up there on Wall Street.

But this way that people present themselves at these events, nobody,
you know, this thing about facial hair, which is normal for people sitting
in tents I guess three or four weeks at a time. But there seems to be an
almost dress for the occasion aspect to this, a theater, a street theater
which is sometime very fun.

But that street theater does play into the hands of the right. They
love the fact that the left sees street theater as counterculture behavior.

HEILEMANN: Yes. And look, Chris, I mean, you`ve got also a large
right wing conservative media apparatus now in America that chooses to take
isolated incidents at these protests and blow them up and make them sound
as if they`re characteristic of the whole movement. So, anytime anybody
gets sick or anytime there`s any incident of crime, they portray it as
though that is rampant throughout the movement. And it does create an
opportunity for a kind of backlash that I think the right will try to
exploit.

As I say, I think there`s just as much danger on the left in a lot of
ways. I mean, you remember in 1968, a lot of the Occupy Wall Street people
I talk to, they`re young enough that they were surprised when I say, well,
you know, the Democratic Convention -- the big protests that blew up the
convention in 1968 was at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, not the
Republican one. You know, that was something that also shattered Hubert
Humphrey`s base on the left side.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you know, John, I`m a little older than you, but I
got to tell you something that I do remember something about the grant Park
incident out here in Chicago at the `68 convention.

HEILEMANN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And although it was declared a police riot, and fair
enough, that was the judgment of the courts. But -- there`s a big but
there -- some of the people on the left in those crowds were there
specifically to egg those cops on and they knew what they were doing, with
razor blades. They knew what they were doing it.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And it was unbelievable. And they wanted that to happen
to create a more revolutionary spirit and effect. They end up electing
Nixon, your very point, sir, as often is the case.

Thank you, John Heilemann of "New York" magazine and us.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And when we return, "Let Me Finish" with a tribute to
Maggie Daley, speaking of Chicago, the gracious first lady of Chicago.

We`re all watching HARDBALL out here in Chicago right now, only on
MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with a very good person.

Maggie Daley, the first lady of Chicago for 22 years, was a beloved
figure in this city. I attended her funeral earlier today at Old St.
Patrick`s, a warm church as beautiful in its human feel as in the fine
splendor of its architecture.

The spirit in the church was human love, the love of a woman for
those around her in this, a circle wide and beyond her grateful family to a
grateful city. Maggie Daley has been the heart of Chicago, I kept hearing
today, and knew it was coming. Why? Because every once in a while, you
may be fortunate enough to meet a person who radiates the humor, good sense
and positive feelings that light up the world around her.

I`m not talking Maria in "The Sound of Music" or Mary Richardson of
the old TV show which we all love. I`m talking about the real thing. I`m
glad I was able to come out here this morning, not just because the wife of
Mayor Daley was like him, big on education, a leader in after-school
programs and keeping a downtown parish alive. It made me feel very good
about Chicago, my church, and mankind -- in this case, womankind.

Maggie Daley remains with us, as a last thing enduring, lively proof
that humans, at least this one, are capable of being truly gracious to one
another.

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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