Guests: Lenny Curry, Judith Browne-Dianis, Gwen Moore, Mike Tate
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Time for drama, Mr. Obama.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Let me start tonight
with the Obama team. You need something to sell. You need something
people want, they want and they know only you can give them. What they
want, Mr. President, right now are jobs, jobs, jobs. That`s what they want
right now. They want to see unemployment headed downward like gangbusters,
in fact. Only if you get people working right now, Mr. President, will you
see confidence starting to build out there.
And the best way to get confidence even higher is to pare that
gigantic jobs program you need to present built along with -- built for the
short run with a solid, bipartisan debt reduction program for the long run.
Need to do both. I can`t think of a better reaction to the bad economic
news of last Friday than rolling out a positive campaign that meets the
country`s two great concerns.
We start tonight with two of our MSNBC political analysts, the best in
the business, the Huffington Post`s Howard Fineman and "Mother Jones`s"
David Corn, who`s also author of a great new book, "Showdown," which is
very much on these topics right now. There it is. And you can actually
buy that book at a book store.
MATTHEWS: It`s quite available, by the way. It`s not just a theory.
It`s not one of these e-books.
Anyway, guys, look, I think everybody knows that Friday was like "Bad
Day at Black Rock" for this administration, just a bad day. And it`s a bad
day because we`ve all thought it might be coming, that that turnaround,
where that unemployment rate was creeping downward to 8.1 would start to go
up again, symbolizing a turnaround for the bad.
And you got the -- the market went down almost 300 points on Friday, a
lot of bad -- the worst news I saw, gentlemen, was that the growth rate of
this economy this whole year has only been about 1.9 percent. We`re not
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, what that means is it puts the focus squarely on what the president
has done so far and what he plans to do minute by minute from here on.
You`re harping on the big jobs program, but the fact is...
MATTHEWS: Is that an ethnic reference to me?
FINEMAN: Harping? No, this is not.
FINEMAN: Focusing on.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
FINEMAN: And the Romney campaign -- the Obama campaign will say,
Look, we`ve got to explain that Mitt Romney`s not capable of getting us out
of this situation.
And that may be true, but before voters get to that, they need to know
what the president -- be reminded of what the president has done and what,
in this dire situation -- and it`s still rather dire...
FINEMAN: ... even though the overall signs have been somewhat
positive -- what`s he going to do? They did it the other way. They
deliberately -- the Obama people deliberately said...
FINEMAN: ... We`re going to start by trying to strangle the Romney
campaign at birth.
FINEMAN: And for a whole host of reasons...
FINEMAN: ... that really didn`t work.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Obama campaign has released a new ad right now,
set to air in 10 battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney`s record as
governor of Massachusetts. Is this already out of date? Let`s decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of hiring workers from his own state,
Romney outsourced call center jobs to India. He cut taxes for millionaires
like himself while raising them on the middle class and left the state $2.6
billion deeper in debt. So now when Mitt Romney talks about what he`d do
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what it
takes to create jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... remember we`ve heard it all before.
ROMNEY: I know how jobs are created.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney economics. It didn`t work then and it
won`t work now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: This was a great ad. I think it`s so much on the mark up
until Friday. And I just wonder if it`s still on the mark, if you have to
do a little more defense, a little more projection of what you would do,
Mr. President, not just whack the other guy.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think
the theory from the campaign in Chicago has been that in this period before
the summer, when people start tuning out, they want to do everything they
can to prevent Romney from creating positive impressions with voters who --
which are most voters -- didn`t pay attention to the GOP primaries when he
was attacked relentlessly.
So first they went after Bain. I`ve talked to people connected to the
campaign who told me that focus groups showed them that the Massachusetts
argument, that he wasn`t a good governor, has more resonance within
independent undecided voters than the Bain attack. I don`t know why that
would be, but nevertheless, that`s the conclusion they came up with. So
that`s their strategic plan.
One thing we know about Obama and his crew is that they really stick
to the strategy, even when people on TV start saying, No, do this, do
MATTHEWS: I`m all for that. I like guts.
CORN: So they said they`re sticking to this before summer hits in,
throw whatever they can. But the real issue they`re going to keep having -
- this goes to the jobs report on Friday. They want to do everything
possible to make sure this -- this election is not a referendum on Obama
and the economy.
CORN: But -- because he loses, if that`s the case. They want to make
it a choice between him...
CORN: ... and Romney. But when you have those job reports, they come
out again month after month after month, it makes it really hard to say...
CORN: ... This is about me and the other guy, not about me and the
MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back -- I want to be positive, not just --
I`m not into despair here...
MATTHEWS: ... with one bad month. But let me tell you in terms of
his position -- but it seems to me that he has to have something out there
that he`s fighting for, like Harry Truman -- I want this, they won`t let
me. I want to create five million new jobs. Wherever it is, Mr. President
-- debt reduction, job creation, something where you can really point out
that Boehner, who`s not a despicable guy, he just isn`t helping...
MATTHEWS: ... and Eric Cantor and a bunch of them, that they`re
basically just -- and Mitch McConnell -- just sitting there on their
CORN: They did this already last fall...
MATTHEWS: ... seen sitting on their hands.
CORN: Yes, and...
MATTHEWS: That`s what I`m saying.
CORN: The poll -- the poll numbers -- one second, Howard. The poll
numbers got much better for him September, October, November after he did
that with the jobs bill following the debt ceiling...
MATTHEWS: ... why doesn`t he have something really big, where they
say, My God, the Republicans say, That`s too expensive, we can`t afford it.
MATTHEWS: That`s too big.
FINEMAN: They have -- they have a five-point plan out there, but even
reporters who are covering the campaign...
MATTHEWS: What is it?
FINEMAN: ... regularly have a hard time...
MATTHEWS: It`s something to do with state and local employees and
fixing up schools and...
MATTHEWS: Fine. It`s all fine. But just like stimulus, it has no
FINEMAN: It has the feel of scraps on the table...
FINEMAN: ... and it doesn`t -- it`s not a big idea.
FINEMAN: Don`t forget, Barack Obama got elected on big ideas about
FINEMAN: ... about himself and his story, about health care, about
turning the economy around, really big things. And I think he`s gifted in
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
FINEMAN: ... so he needs to find something...
FINEMAN: ... as large as his imagination...
FINEMAN: ... to focus on and...
MATTHEWS: I think we all agree that the reason he`s president of the
United States is he beat Senator Clinton, who was an unbelievably difficult
candidate to beat, because he had come out against the war in Iraq and
stuck his neck out back in 2002, a big idea, a big decision. He may have
been wrong! (INAUDIBLE) turned out, you know, fabulous for him...
CORN: But he also...
MATTHEWS: But he said, No, this is a bad policy, a bad decision.
CORN: He also...
MATTHEWS: OK, just a minute...
CORN: He also had...
MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he do it again?
CORN: He had a sense of vision, which Howard was speaking to. He had
a sense of vision, even throughout...
MATTHEWS: Did it with health care.
CORN: ... even through the debt ceiling, when he talked about shared
sacrifice, investments. He`s done this time and time again. It seems that
he sort of has lost track of that a little bit. But again, that might be
strategic at this point...
MATTHEWS: Why is he playing it safe?
CORN: I`m not sure he`s playing it safe.
CORN: I think right now, it`s tear apart Romney. That doesn`t mean
he won`t get to this.
CORN: Doesn`t mean he won`t do this...
MATTHEWS: ... "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman, who you might
agree with or not -- a lot of people do -- writes today, quote, "What
should be done about the economy? Republicans claim to have the answer,
slash spending and cut taxes. What they hope voters won`t notice is that
that`s precisely the policy we`ve been following the last couple of years.
Never mind the Democrat in the White House. For all practical purposes,
this is already the economic policy of Republican dreams. So the
Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game. It
depends on convincing voters that the bad economy`s the result of big
spending policies that President Obama hasn`t followed, in large part
because the GOP wouldn`t let him, and that our woes can be cured by
pursuing more of the same policies that already failed."
Now, here`s the thing. We`re still suffering under the Bush tax
program that he left us that nobody`s been able to change it. We`re still
suffering, basically, under no growth in government spending. In fact, all
the jobs that have been disappearing over the last several, what, years
have been public sector jobs.
FINEMAN: Right. Well, the thing is, if you`re going -- if you`re
going to argue for the kind of program you`re talking about, you`d -- and
you`re also going to talk about taxes, you need to do the two of them
together. What -- the president got maneuvered into a position here a few
FINEMAN: ... when it looked like the argument was only about taxes.
FINEMAN: It wasn`t about what you want to do with the money.
MATTHEWS: I know.
FINEMAN: It wasn`t about what you want to do with the money. And
health care might be great or it might not be, but it`s not as tangible.
And as you said, the famous consultant David Garth (ph) used to say, you
MATTHEWS: Replace the smell of decay with the smell of construction!
MATTHEWS: People like construction!
FINEMAN: The president tried, but he also said -- he also said the
biggest lie in government is shovel-ready.
CORN: Right, right, but...
MATTHEWS: Because they`re not ready.
FINEMAN: Well, I think it was his fault that he didn`t know they
CORN: Yes. You have to have a vision that`s large and sweeping, that
has some concrete -- to make a pun here -- aspects to it.
MATTHEWS: I agree...
CORN: But listen, in the next...
MATTHEWS: By the way, don`t be embarrassed by that word. It`s not a
pun, it`s reality.
CORN: Oh, no. It`s a good word. But also, in the next few months,
don`t forget what happens in Europe could have more impact on this
MATTHEWS: ... we can`t change what happens in Europe!
CORN: I know, which is why he`s going to get this in place before
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to...
MATTHEWS: ... theory that everybody studied who went to grad school
in economics, and I happen to have done it. I wasn`t great, but I
memorized my way through it. And one of the things I memorized -- because
I couldn`t understand 90 percent of it. I memorized my way through it at
Chapel Hill -- is this follows. If the consumer`s not spending -- and the
consumer`s not spending right now -- the individuals are basically scared.
They`re worried about their 401s, worried about their income, wealth, and
they`re hoarding a little bit. They`re trying to put money in the bank to
pay off debts.
Business, as we all know -- $2 trillion -- we`re going to talk about
it in the next segment after the break -- $2 trillion they`re sitting on
right now, they`re not spending.
CORN: In cash.
MATTHEWS: Maybe some of that, they don`t really want to help Obama,
but it`s very probably all business decisions they`re playing (ph).
So if the three forces of demand are the consumer, who`s not spending,
business is not spending -- you know what the third force is?
MATTHEWS: Government. If the government pulls back like it`s doing,
cutting back on public service employment, reducing the job rates -- the
job payrolls, geez, they`re not doing anything! Why is it -- why is it
smart for government...
CORN: Mitt Romney...
MATTHEWS: ... to do nothing if nobody else is doing anything?
CORN: Mitt Romney -- - Mitt Romney even admitted that in an interview
a couple weeks ago, in which he said, If you cut back on government, that`s
-- you know, and too much austerity will lead to more recessionary forces.
I mean, that`s just basic economics, something that the Tea Party types
keep denying over and over again as part of the con game.
FINEMAN: The other point is that there have been cuts in corporate
tax rates. There have been cuts at the top. We`ve kept the Bush tax cuts
in effect, and it hasn`t seemed to loosen the wallets of those
CORN: The job creators.
FINEMAN: The job creators haven`t really been creating the jobs. But
I think the other thing here, Chris, is a matter of spirit. Barack Obama
was a really optimistic candidate in 2008.
MATTHEWS: Sure was.
FINEMAN: One could argue maybe too much so, but he was, and that`s
who he seemed to be.
In this ad that they put out today, I noticed at the very beginning,
when they -- when it says, President -- I`m President Obama and I approved
this message, they have a black-and-white picture of the president looking
like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, walking with his
hands in his pockets...
MATTHEWS: There it is. You`re right.
FINEMAN: There`s the picture.
MATTHEWS: That doesn`t sell (INAUDIBLE)
FINEMAN: That -- to me, that...
MATTHEWS: Looks good, but he doesn`t look upbeat.
FINEMAN: Now, look, I agree that he shouldn`t be on there with that
wonderful, charming grin from ear to ear that he also has, because that
wouldn`t fit with the message...
MATTHEWS: By the way, it`s not black-and-white. It`s green...
FINEMAN: OK, but...
MATTHEWS: But what that shows me is the message they`re communicating
there is that that`s a guy with the weight of the worry of the world on his
shoulders, who isn`t necessarily -- who deserves credit for his
FINEMAN: ... and how grave he is, but it kind of fits in with this
kind of grim tone that this campaign has had so far...
CORN: This is the part -- one of the hardest...
FINEMAN: You know, you got to do it. It`s hard for -- it`s hard for
an incumbent to attack the challenger. That`s always hard. They`ve
decided to do it...
CORN: It`s also -- it`s also hard to balance...
MATTHEWS: By the way...
CORN: It`s hard to balance an optimistic sense for the future with
the grim economic reality of the present because...
MATTHEWS: In 1948...
CORN: ... he can look detached, as well.
MATTHEWS: In 1948, after World War II, everybody figured the
country`d had it with the Democrats. They had the new -- the New Deal and
they -- and they had enough of Truman. They figured, Let`s make a change.
So everybody said Dewey`s going to win.
So along comes Harry Truman, a failure at business, by the way --
maybe this guy should say, I was a failure at business, it`s a better sales
pitch, failed haberdasher -- he comes along, Harry Truman, without a lot of
formal education, and goes across the country saying, We`re going to do
this. I`m going to...
And then he goes to -- one of the -- at 1:00 o`clock in the morning,
with the -- with his Democratic convention in Philadelphia that year-- no
air-conditioning and all the steaming heat, and he`s wearing some sort of
linen suit in the heat, and he says, All right, Congress, I`m calling you
back into session and you`re going to pass this bill. You`re going to --
you`re going to do what you keep talking about, creating jobs.
It wouldn`t be a bad idea for Obama to just say, Come on back in and
do what you say you`re going to do.
FINEMAN: Well, I think he should do -- I think I agree with you. I
MATTHEWS: Stick it to them!
FINEMAN: I think he should have the big plan. I think he should do
that, and he should also get business leaders to come out and say that
Barack Obama`s better for the economy. There are such people...
FINEMAN: Well, Romney`s running around -- Romney`s having an event
today, where they have surrogates in I think 10 or 15 states. All the
surrogates were small business people because the last person you want to
have speaking on your behalf is an elected official --
MATTHEWS: I could think of the most successful businessman in the
country would do it...
MATTHEWS: We all agree.
FINEMAN: Where are they?
MATTHEWS: Action, right?
CORN: Construction, R&D, science, all that...
MATTHEWS: Construction -- replace the smell of decay with the smell
of construction -- the smell of construction.
CORN: Can`t argue with that.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, David Corn.
Coming up Is American business sitting on piles of cash that could
help the economy, helping to bring down President Obama? That`s a great
question we`re going to get to with Cramer from Philly.
Also, the Republican effort to keep traditionally Democratic voting
groups from the polls his some snags. Good for that. Finally, a few wins
for the voting rights advocates out there.
And that big Wisconsin recall vote tomorrow. What effects is it going
to have on November? And how many Miss USA contestants does it take to
name the vice president of the United States? This is like jaywalking.
Anyway, that`s in the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Once again, a high-profile Democrat is talking up Hillary
Clinton for president. This time, it`s House Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi. Pelosi told "The San Francisco Chronicle" that Hillary represents
the best chance for female president in her lifetime. And it looks at (ph)
about 2016. Pelosi said, "Why -- why wouldn`t she run? She`s a
magnificent secretary of state. She`s our shot."
Well, that`s a pretty clear endorsement from the former speaker, Nancy
Pelosi, for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today American
companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I
know that many of you have told me that you`re waiting for demand to rise
before you get off the sidelines and expand. So I just want to encourage
you to get in the game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama
in February of last year, speaking to business leaders at the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce headquarters here in Washington, imploring them, as you just
heard, to stop hoarding cash and start investing in the American economy.
Well, as the chart shows -- you`re looking at it right now -- they
didn`t take his advice at all. The amount of cash that American companies
-- see on that rising red line there? -- have been sitting on the sidelines
hit over $2.2 trillion at the end of 2011. That`s over $2 trillion. The
amount of cash companies are hoarding has risen, as you can see,
dramatically over the past four decades, spiking sharply in the last few
Of course, consumer demand is also low, but my question about business
is, Are they sitting on that cash through omission or whatever to hurt the
president, get him out of office so they can have what they`d like, a
regulatory environment which is easy on them and a low corporate tax
John Heilemann is national affairs editor for "New York" magazine and
an MSNBC analyst, as well. And in a moment, we`re going to be joined by
CNBC`s Jim Cramer.
You know, I`m talking about this and trying to think about this
honestly. If you`re a big business guy, you always have prejudices, but
your job is to make money for your stockholders.
When they go in that corporate boardroom with mostly Republican men
and women around there -- mostly men, obviously -- they`re sitting around,
thinking, Why don`t we wait around about six months or a year until we have
the right regulatory environment -- meaning less regulation, a freeze on
regulations -- and a lower corporate tax rate? Because that`s what Romney
is promising them.
Would this be some perverted way of saying, We can screw Obama by
saying we`re waiting for the Republicans to come in, John Heilemann?
JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
Chris, there`s just so much going on here. Now, look, there is no doubt
that there are some Republican businessmen and some Republicans on Wall
Street in private equity and other places -- and you hear it up here in New
York all the time -- who are hanging back because they think that they
would prefer to have a Republican president who has policies -- who
implements policies that are more favorable to business.
There`s no doubt about that. And there`s discussion of it all the
time, as I said, here in New York. There`s a whole bunch of other business
people who are not that ideologically inclined, who have the reality of the
macroeconomy over the course -- the totality of President Obama`s time in
office and especially over these last six or nine months. They`re looking
at a very soft economy.
And the question of how much exactly to invest, when consumer demand
is shaky, when Europe is on the brink, when at least a few months ago,
there were a lot of concerns about energy prices because there might have
been hostilities in Iran, between Israel and Iran -- those are all
legitimate macroeconomic concerns that a lot of business people have about,
Let`s just wait and see what goes on, wait for -- for the economy to pick
up. If the economy picks up, we`re going to invest more. So there`s a lot
of complicated motivations. I don`t think it`s a straightforward story of
one or the other.
MATTHEWS: No, I just -- I`m thinking about a self-fulfilling
If you have the decision, you`re a business right-winger -- not a
right-winger, just a very conservative person. And you basically believe
that the government spends too much, it ought to spend less. You notice
that the consumer is spending less, so you spend less.
That is a vicious cycle.
HEILEMANN: It is.
MATTHEWS: Because they are basically following -- they`re marching in
step without a declining demand. They are reducing demand themselves.
They`re calling for the president to reduce demand, to cut government
They`re not doing anything to goose the consumer into buying any more
because they`re not willing to put the money into advertisements and a new
inventory to put it out there for them to buy. So it just seems like it`s
just they`re all going to sit around and they`re going to explode with
enthusiasm if Obama loses this race in November.
MATTHEWS: Happy days are here again for them.
HEILEMANN: But, like I sad, Chris, there is really like -- I started
by saying there are ideologically driven businessmen in finance,
manufacturing, services, et cetera, who are committed to defeating the
And I think there is some degree of truth to that being a motivating
factor here. But there is also, and as President Obama could tell you
having raised a lot of money on Wall Street in 2008, having raised a lot of
money among corporate America 2008, there are a lot of businessmen who are
not Republican and who are acting -- who are either neutral in this or are
even for President Obama.
MATTHEWS: How much of that is bent because of the 1 percent campaign
of the president, going after the 1 percent and their philosophy, going
after them for grabbing most of the wealth in this country through tax
policy and everything else? Are they resentful enough of that...
MATTHEWS: Your answer is they are resentful.
HEILEMANN: Yes. Yes. My answer is that the president`s rhetoric has
been -- this is just -- I`m not saying they`re justified in feeling this
way, but if you talk to people in business and finance, you talk to them
about the actual substance of the president`s policies, the substance does
not bother them as much as the rhetoric.
And they think the rhetoric is divisive, they think they have been
targeted. I think that the substance of the policy is what they should be
focused on, rather than the rhetoric. But I`m just as a reporter telling
you if you talk to people in business and finance, they all think -- even
ones who support the president, even the ones who are still raising money
for the president say they wish the president wasn`t campaigning in the way
he is. They wish his rhetoric was not in their view as populist and
divisive as it is, again in their view.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s to Jim Cramer right now. He`s with us. He`s
host of "Mad Money" of course weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 on CNBC.
Jim, thanks so much for joining us. I have no idea what you`re going
Here`s my argument. If the business community keeps saying to itself
we want a better regulatory environment, we want a lower tax structure for
corporate taxes, corporate income, and we`re willing to wait for it, is
that more of an incentive for them to sit on their money and basically
screw Obama or isn`t it?
JIM CRAMER, HOST, "MAD MONEY": Well, I got to tell you, I think
they`re just waiting for the rest of the world to get better.
I feel -- I like Heilemann. This is some fabulous analysis he`s
doing. But I got to tell you, most of these CEOs are just saying, wow,
Europe is real bad, Asia is real bad. We were selling a lot of product in
there. We better not put up any more plants or equipment because we can`t
move this stuff. Latin America is collapsing. The United States is a bit
of an afterthought.
MATTHEWS: But what about all this advertising I watched yesterday
morning? Tell me it`s the high-end. I got to go with what I watch
anecdotally. High-end cars, Lexuses, all kind of cars out there, Audis,
are they the high-end car sales? Is that what`s going on? You got John
Slattery out there from "Mad Men."
Everybody is selling cars now. What is that about?
CRAMER: I do like Roger.
Here`s the thing. It`s 14 million cars that are going to be sold this
year probably. That`s up from 11 million. The auto industry is booming.
The housing industry is coming back big. The retail industry is just on
fire, especially with the tailwind that is coming from lower gasoline
prices. Our country is stronger than people think, but I feel like I`m the
only one who is saying it.
MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t it true?
CRAMER: Yes. Yes.
We got one bad employment number, OK? We had numbers last week that
were extraordinarily good. Do you know how many people get to work in the
car business? It`s the most important driver of an economy.
CRAMER: And they`re buying high-end cars and low-end cars.
MATTHEWS: Now I want to ask both of you.
I want to go back to Heilemann on this first, then back to you, Jim.
Number one, I have a theory that when Donald Trump goes out there and
does this stupid birther thing, it`s not that he thinks the president
wasn`t born here. He just knows it`s a way of rubbing this president`s
nose in something, it`s a way of expressing his hatred of the president,
and it`s selling with his fellow right-wing developer buddies, because they
don`t like him for all kinds of reasons.
And this is his -- it`s not just for that yahoos out there. Trump is
playing to his fellow money deal makers. That`s my thought.
MATTHEWS: Your thinking. Why is he doing this? Because he`s a
business guy. If he`s a business guy, why is he talking birther talk,
which just sounds intellectually crazy? But it must have an attitude that
the business guys like. My thought.
CRAMER: Heilemann has got it right when he says there are so many
issues involving Washington. But they`re not about Obama.
They`re about Congress. I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Don`t shrink from my question. Why is Trump out there
selling birtherism if he`s got to deal with other smart business guys who
makes deals with him?
CRAMER: Well, look, I think he`s off the reservation with that.
He makes a lot of sense when he comes on our network on Tuesday
mornings. But the executives I talk about -- I talk to, they`re far more
concerned with the fact that oil has come down now, that they don`t have
CRAMER: They`re worried about drilling.
MATTHEWS: And you`re far more concerned with not mentioning this
guy`s name, aren`t you? But that`s all right. I`m going to give you a
ride on this. I`m going to give you a freebie on this.
We`re not talking about Trump for a minute.
Let me go to Heilemann, who is a lot gutsier. Let me to Heilemann on
Why is Trump out there -- it was the biggest story last week until the
unemployment came in, was Trump`s going nuts on the president`s birthright
HEILEMANN: How else is Donald Trump going to get attention for
himself at this point?
Like, look, I know a lot of businessmen who I report on, right? And I
know Republicans. I know Democrats. I know liberals. I know
conservatives. I don`t know any of them who buy the birther thing. I
don`t Donald Trump...
MATTHEWS: Well, why is he selling it?
HEILEMANN: He`s selling it because it gets him airtime. How else is
Donald Trump going to be part of the conversation? No one takes Donald
Trump seriously on any other thing. They don`t take him seriously for
this, but he made headlines. You said it was the biggest story last week.
We`re all talking about Donald Trump. I think in the end Donald Trump
likes attention. This gets him attention.
MATTHEWS: I think it doesn`t hurt at all with the right-wing business
community. And I think that is why he does it. He`s smart.
And Cramer knows more than he says.
Anyway, Cramer, you`re so smart, but you`re holding back on me.
Anyway, thank you, John Heilemann.
Thank you, my fellow Philly guy Jim Cramer. The Phillies, by the way,
winning record again.
Up next, a possible Romney running mate may have just taken himself
out of the running by talking up -- I love it, I guess -- President Obama.
That`s next in the "Sideshow."
And this is HARDBALL, the place for it, politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: You know, people ask me, what was it like
to run for the presidency of the United States? And I tell them, I say,
let me tell you, I was the front-runner for a while, and it was the three
most exhilarating hours of my life.
PERRY: It was awesome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Three hours. Welcome back to HARDBALL and the "Sideshow,"
That was Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, at North Carolina`s GOP
convention this weekend reminiscing about his moment in the spotlight. Of
course, as Bobby Kennedy advised, and he took the advice there, if you have
got a problem, hang a lantern on it. Point to it yourself.
Next, in the lead-up to the Miss USA Pageant, which aired last night
on ABC, some of the contestant participated in a little USA trivia contest.
They didn`t fare too well when the subject was politics, specifically the
question of, who is the current vice president of the United States?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, God. Oh, shoot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so bad. I just read an article.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know anything about politics, so I don`t
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m blanking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: World peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: World peace? Anyway, one of the contestants was confronted
-- I think that was a catch-all question -- anyway, about the mixed results
during the competition last night, thanks to Arsenio Hall. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARSENIO HALL, ACTOR: How do you explain so many of them not knowing
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I have to say I went through that process.
We were all -- about 4:00 in the morning. And we were very tired, and I
think a lot of the girls answered the question. They weren`t very
positive, but they really do know who the vice president is. It was just a
really long day. It was like midnight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is it, they want to know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. She got it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were up late.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that earned her a lot of applause. Anyway, it
reminds me of "Jay-walking." I guess ignorance is bliss.
Next up, how is this for pulling teeth? Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell has been floated as a potential V.P. for Mitt Romney, but in an
interview on CNN just yesterday, McDonnell found himself trying to dance
around the fact that President Obama`s stimulus did provide a much-needed
lifeline to his own state of Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: He had a nearly a trillion dollars
in stimulus, and that was one-time spending. Did it help us in the short
run with health care and education spending to balance the budget? Sure.
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Did it help?
MCDONNELL: Does it help us in the long term to really cut the
unemployment rate? I would say no.
CROWLEY: So just a tiny bit of credit to the president?
MCDONNELL: Well, sure. I think there`s national policies that have
had some impact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, what do you think, the juice was worth the squeeze there? She
did get him to admit it, but just to get him to say sure.
Up next: not so fast. The Republican public effort to keep
traditionally Democratic voters from voting hits some snags, and that`s
good. And the voting rights advocates finally got some good news here, and
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."
The Dow reverses earlier losses to end down just 17 points. The S&P
is up a fraction. The Nasdaq rose 12 points. Factory orders dropped 0.6
percent in April, falling for the third time in four months. Economists
expected a gain.
It was another rough session for Facebook shares, which slipped nearly
3 percent to close below $27 a share. And Groupon lost more than 7 percent
to end under $9 a share, a new low.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Voting rights advocates in Florida recently won two big victories.
First, a federal district court judge blocked parts of a state`s new law
that placed restrictions on voter registration groups. The judge called
some of the new requirements on groups like the League of Women Voters --
quote -- "harsh and impractical."
Separately, the Justice Department sent a letter to the state warning
them to stop efforts to purge names of potentially ineligible voters from
the rolls. Governor Rick Scott had announced plans to find non-citizens
who might be illegally registered to vote in the state.
Well, "The Miami Herald" reported that Hispanic and Democratic voters
are the likeliest to be targeted in such a purge. What will be the effect
of all this for the 2012 election?
Lenny Curry is the chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
Thank you for joining us, Lenny.
And Judith Browne-Dianis is the co-director of the Advancement
Project, a civil rights group.
I want to congratulate you, Judith, because it seems like you have got
a victory here. Basically, the federal court judge said you can`t go to
groups like the League of Women Voters, and people that go around with
clipboards and register people, and tell them to have the petitions in
within 48 hours, because you may be getting a petition signed on a Friday
or a Saturday. There`s already 48 hours that are gone.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: That`s right.
This is a big win for democracy. In fact, what we`re seeing is that
now groups like the League of Women Voters and the other organizations that
register people can be back in business. And we know that this goes
against what the Republican Party really wants to see, which is voter
suppression, which is making it harder to register and making it harder to
And so Florida has a little bit of a black eye this time.
Well, the groups like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote,
which is a great group, said the new Florida law made it impossible to
register new voters, because there were such onerous rules placed on them,
like the 48-hour rule.
Well, anyway, last week, as I said, Judge Robert Hinkle agreed with
them. He ordered Florida to stop enforcing the rule that required third-
party groups to turn in completed registration forms within 48 hours or
face a fine. He said -- quote -- "If the goal is to discourage voter
registration drives, and thus also to make it harder for new voters to
register, this may work. Otherwise, there is little reason for such a
Lenny Curry, you`re the chair of the Republican Party down there. Was
the intention to suppress the vote down there, as Judith says, or it had
some other purpose? Why would you set a requirement you got to get your
petitions in, in 48 hours? Why did you set such a requirement and a law?
LEONARD CURRY, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: No, there was no intention to
suppress the vote.
MATTHEWS: Well, why would you make such a deadline, a two-day
deadline to get the petitions in?
CURRY: In my view, the deadline seemed reasonable. The judge struck
that part of the law down. A majority of the law stands, which will
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. I`m going to call you there because
everybody watching can figure this one out.
If I`m working in front of a Safeway somewhere and I`m collecting
registration, I`m registering people who aren`t registered, and it`s Friday
afternoon at 5:00, I can`t even technically turn those in until Monday.
That means it`s already elapsed, the 48 hours.
So, under the law, nothing I get done late Friday afternoon is of any
value and probably some of the stuff early Saturday morning. The 48-hour
rule basically makes it impossible to meet the deadline if you`re working
right to the end of the week, right, Lenny?
CURRY: The law was written to ensure that we have controls and
processes in place to ensure the integrity of the vote.
Most of the law stood. I`m no lawyer. The judge ruled on the 48-hour
piece of the law. And it`s gone. And it is what it is.
But to suggest that Republicans want to suppress the vote --
MATTHEWS: You don`t have to be a lawyer to own a calendar or know
what a weekend is. A weekend is 48 hours.
CURRY: I do own a calendar.
MATTHEWS: Forty-eight hours, how do you meet the standard? Just
tell me, it`s Friday afternoon, you just got a bunch of signatures, what do
you with them?
CURRY: You work on a tight line. You them in Monday morning.
MATTHEWS: But you already missed the deadline. Forty-eight hours is
up, buddy. You`re finished, useless. Those things just don`t count
according to the law you approved.
BROWNE-DIANIS: That`s right.
MATTHEW: Let me do the talk --
BROWNE-DIANIS: This is just ridiculous. Making it harder to
register to vote. We know who that impacts. It impacts black and Latinos
who are more likely to register through these voter registrations drives.
And that`s what they`re counting on. We can`t divorce from what`s happened
across the county, which is passing voters suppression laws that actually
impacts those who turned out in record numbers and it all for partisan
MATTHEWS: What about the purging of your rolls? I know you were
doing some of this back in 2000 we`re all focused on.
Anyway, the Justice Department warned Florida that its attempt to
purge ineligible voters might be violation of the `65 Voting Rights Act.
To the letter to your secretary of state down there, the Justice Department
said any changes affecting voting had to be submitted for approval.
Quote, "It is necessary that they either be brought for that court
and or submitted to the attorney general for a determination that they
neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of discriminating on
account of race, color or membership in a language minority group."
Your thoughts on that, Lenny? Why are you purging your voting rolls
right before an election?
CURRY: Here`s what your viewers believe -- every person that has the
right to vote, and here`s what your viewers believe, every person that has
the right to vote ought to be able to cast a ballot. Anything less than
that -- anything other than that is negligent at best, and fraud at worst.
Now, specifically the voter rolls. We know that there are non-
citizens on our roles, and we`ve been talking about this for months now.
The state of Florida requested the Department Homeland Security, they have
a database. It`s called the save database, to allow us to interface with
their data. If they would give us access to that information, we could
quickly cross-reference and tell you, tell the Floridians and U.S.
citizens, who on our rolls are non-citizens. It would be that simple.
But they won`t participate. They won`t cooperate. And this request
has been out since last fall.
MATTHEWS: Judith, react to it.
BROWNE-DIANIS: I mean, this is ridiculous.
MATTHEWS: Is that true, somebody won`t cooperate, the government?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Here we go again Florida, 2000.
MATTHEWS: Well, is he right on the fact?
BROWNE-DIANIS: He`s wrong on this fact. I mean, you know, so the
Department of Homeland Security also has a problem with their database.
The bottom line is they`re not going after non-citizens, they`re going
after voters. A 91-year-od --
MATTHEWS: Is that the argument Janet Napolitano is using in denying
them access to these lists?
BROWNE-DIANIS: She`s actually saying it`s because of privacy issues.
They have problems allowing people and states to get access to this
database. But the bottom line is that that`s not what this is about. This
is about trying to make it harder for people to vote so that they undermine
democracy and they win.
If we looked at where these laws are passed over the past year, about
70 percent of electoral votes to win the presidency are impacted by where
they have made it harder to vote. And it`s a page out of the playbook of
the Republican voter suppression --
MATTHEWS: Do you ever have any meetings in your party, Mr. Chairman,
where you actually talk about ways of making it harder to vote? Do you
ever talk about that so you can win these elections where they`re close?
CURRY: There`s no cabal that exist to express the vote. It goes
completely against my value system in the way that I was raised. And let`s
be clear about this. There are zero cases of U.S. citizens being removed
from our voting rolls.
The 91-year-old World War II veteran which was reference was not
removed from the voting rolls. There was a discrepancy, it was handled, he
was contacted and he`s eligible to vote.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to ask you a question, maybe this is fair. You
tell me if it`s not. Up in Pennsylvania where I grew up, they have a role
up there, you have to have a government-issued photo ID to vote. Now,
people that are 75 years old and aren`t driving cars, people in row houses
haven`t driven a car much of their life, especially older people, white and
black, whatever, Hispanic. People just don`t drive into their 90s, thank
God. They don`t drive into their late 80s, thank God. So, they don`t have
a government issued photo ID card.
How are they supposed to get one of those things in a reasonable way
at their age? They don`t go out and head downtown on a subway. They don`t
go bumping around. How do they do it?
CURRY: Most people would agree, your viewers would agree that a
voter ID is a reasonable requirement to cast a ballot. If you want to buy
beer, you have.
MATTHEWS: Not when you`re 90, you`re not.
CURRY: There`s plenty of time to get an idea prior to an election.
There are plenty, community centers that would help, I`d be willing to help
somebody to get an ID if they needed it.
MATTHEWS: OK. I hope they take you up on that in Philly. They`d
take you to some interesting neighborhoods, buddy.
Anyway, thank you. We`ll do it up there. We`d go door-to-door. It
would be great to have a guy from Florida to get up there and help with the
door to door. Congressman Bob Brady, he`s up from west Philly, you should
get in touch. He`s the chair of the party up there. I`m sure he can use
an extra hand. I`m serious. I might go up into it.
Thank you, Judith Brown Dianis and Lenny Curry.
Up next, tomorrow is the big recall election in Wisconsin. What will
be the effect of the vote up there? A lot of people were saying this is
the second most important lection of the year after the presidential
election. There`s so much hype about what`s going in Wisconsin.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New poll numbers from that hot Senate race up in
Massachusetts, let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new "Boston Globe" poll, Republican Senator Scott
Brown has a slim two-point lead over Democratic challenger Elizabeth
Warren, 39 to 37, with lots of undecided out there, as you can see. And a
new poll from Western New England University has Warren in the lead, again
by two, in her favorite 45 to 43.
This is going to be a nail biter. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Tomorrow in Wisconsin, of course, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett faces
off against Scott Walker in the big recall election out there. A new PPP
poll released yesterday showed the race tightening with Walker, the
Republican, leading Barrett by three, 50 to 47. But look at the "Real
Clear Politics" average. That`s got Walker up by six. That`s an
accumulation by polling.
The recall is a high risk/high reward proposition. Of course,
Democrats are cautiously optimistic, we`re told. But whatever tomorrow`s
outcome, Republicans now have a spectacular get out the vote effort in
Wisconsin five months ahead of the presidential election.
With me now is U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Mike Tate, who is
the states Democratic Party chair.
Congresswoman, tell me about the importance of this to the country
and Wisconsin, this recall vote tomorrow.
REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: Well, thanks for having me, Chris.
This is tremendously important to us. But, you know, this is family
business. This is not so much about President Obama who has his own
constituency, his own popularity in the state. It`s about Scott Walker and
what he has done really to decimate the progress of our state.
We`ve just learned today that Tim Russell, who is one of the indicted
folk of the Walker team from his tenure as county executive, has said he`s
told investigators that Walker has indeed stone-walled their investigation.
So he probably is in fact the target of a criminal investigation in this
MATTHEWS: That doesn`t mean he is guilty. All right. Just slow down
there, the target of investigation.
MOORE: No, it doesn`t mean -- that`s exactly right. And, but you
know this is about trust. And he has shown throughout his actions just
taking away the table for collective bargaining, really raising taxes on
the elderly, on the poor, women -- taking away health care for women.
And so what that is really translated and meant is that we have a
tremendous ground game. We have seen record turnout, our early turnout
rivals what happened in 2008.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the party -- great work.
Let me go to the party chair about some of the logistics and all.
You know, there`s only been two governors in history I`m told, American
history, that`s been recalled. One of them is Gray Davis in California
about a decade ago. But isn`t the standard malfeasance? Corruption?
Isn`t fairness to say that Scott Walker is guilty of either? Or is
it just bad politics?
MIKE TATE, CHMN., WISCONSIN DEM. PARTY: No, I think that in
Wisconsin, Chris, the recall statute clearly gives the citizens here an
opportunity if an elected official behaves in such a manner they find so
egregious that they simply can`t wait to the end of the term. You know,
whether Scott Walker is corrupt or not, I think he is at best, guilty of
nefarious behavior. We will see whether or not he ends up being charged in
this ongoing John Doe investigations as well as a federal investigation.
MATTHEWS: What do you think is going to be the outlook in terms of
the turnout? Because I know the labor unions, the public employee unions,
the AFSCME, will be out there, I assume. All of the teachers unions, AFT,
who do you have up there, in Wisconsin, both?
TATE: We have a small AFT and a fairly large NEA contingent --
MATTHEWS: Are they going to be part of this?
TATE: They are 110 percent on board and I know the congresswoman has
been traveling all over the city of Milwaukee and I have going all over.
We have a fantastic turnout operation. I am very confident.
Look, this is what we do, Chris. As Democrats, we organize. We get
our people the polls. We may not have as much money as the other side, to
run ads on TV, we get our voters out and that`s what we`re going to do
tomorrow and I am very confident that we`re going to bring people out, that
we`re going to beat Scott Walker and we`re going to make some serious
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that, Congresswoman?
MOORE: You want to know something, Chris? You know, I`ll tell you,
it may be a blessing in disguise that we have been outspent 15 or 16 to
one, because this has forced us to revive the vote. For us to put people
and troops on the street, meet with voters face to face.
Our 18-year-old seniors in high school are going to vote, and we`re
having a sunrise church service tomorrow with Reverend Jesse Jackson. You
can feel the beat.
MATTHEWS: You`re an inspiring leader and I appreciate -- I love
hopefulness and I love ground games. I love people meeting people as part
Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore, good luck. I guess I can
say good luck in the race tomorrow.
And, Mike Tate, as well, chair of the Democratic Party.
When we return, let me finish with President Obama`s big moment to
build, baby, build, I`m talking about creating things in this country
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a need for President Obama to
do something, something big. I watched the Republicans in Congress put up
their wall to action and said they don`t want him to succeed. So, they`re
giving him nothing that he could call success.
I`ve watched American business hold back its trillions of dollars.
Is this for fear for a heavy stream of investment that it might improve the
And why is there no debt deal between the president and the Congress?
Don`t both sides see the same problem down the road, the kind of
catastrophe now facing Greece and other European countries at the
I think the president has two options right now. He can wait this
out, heads into November hoping something will pop up in the economy, that
there will be is a sudden spurt of investment out there. He can do that,
which is to do nothing, or he can put a big proposal out there for all to
see and him to campaign on, and dare the Republicans -- dare them in
Congress to say no.
I think the president would be in the strongest possible position
heading into November with a clearly understood big plan to move the
country from where we are to where we want to be.
I can offer one big suggestion. Do what President Eisenhower, a
Republican, did in the `50s. He built the interstate highway system in
this country, the Route 95s, Route 70s, the Route 80s, and all the rest.
Now it`s time for another president, this one, a Democrat, to follow up.
Obama had saved the American auto industry. We know that, why not
build and rebuild good highways and bridges for those new cars to drive on.
This could put 5 million people to work. As Governor Rendell said here on
Friday, it could create the kind of economic demand that`s lacking from
business today. His slogan could be: my way is the highway.
Let`s get America moving again. It sure beats sitting around waiting
for Boehner or Cantor or McConnell to do something. They don`t want to do
something, not unless and until they get their hands on this government
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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