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updated 6/11/2012 1:03:43 PM ET 2012-06-11T17:03:43

Guests: Kay Hagan, Chuck Schumer, Martin Beil

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The Blues Brothers are back.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Let me start with
the great news. The gang`s back together. Bill Clinton, big Bill himself,
the one and only Bubba, was out on the town last night, serenading
Manhattan on the reasons Barack Obama absolutely needs to get reelected.

He hit every note, most of them never heard before, about how the
Republicans in Congress are nuts enough to do what old Europe is doing,
cutting spending, killing jobs, running austerity and their economies right
into the ground. And there they were, side by side, Bill and Barack, back
together on the same stage, hitting a trio of Big Apple fund-raisers. And
they`re making the Democratic message sing.

We start with that and also with two MSNBC political analysts. Chris
Cillizza`s managing editor of Postpolitics.com and Ron Reagan is author of
"My Father at 100."

Gentlemen, I want you to look at this amazing scene last night. In
perhaps his best moment of the night, Bill Clinton last night delivered a
clear and I believe concise comparison of what the Republicans are pushing
for with the economy to the financial crisis in Europe. Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why aren`t
things roaring along now? Because Europe is in trouble and because the
Republican Congress has adopted the European economic policy.

Who would have thought after years and years and years, even decades,
in which the Republican right attacked "old Europe" that they would embrace
the economic policies of the euro zone?

(LAUGHTER)

Austerity and unemployment now at all costs. I mean, after all, their
unemployment rate is 11 percent and ours is 8. We can get right up there
if we just adopt their policies.

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

You`re laughing, but you need to tell people this. That`s what
they`re being asked to vote for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: God, this is like Eisenhower joining the campaign in 1960,
Chris Cillizza. I mean, there he is, roaring -- that -- there were so many
thoughts in that -- that little number we heard there. I want you to
analyze them.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, POSTPOLITICS.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

MATTHEWS: What was Clinton saying there?

CILLIZZA: Here -- well, let me say as broadly as humanly possible
first, Chris, this is -- this is what Bill Clinton is tremendous at. He`s
better at this than Barack Obama. He`s better at this than almost anybody,
probably anybody in either party operating right now, which is he takes
things that are very complex, like the economy -- it is not a simple thing
-- and he breaks it down into these digestible chunks that when you hear
it, you think, Oh, yes, that makes some sense.

He ties Republicans to Europe and even if you don`t know exactly
what`s going on there, you know it`s not good economically. And he
essentially says, look, 8 percent unemployment is not great, but if the
Republicans are in charge, it`s going to go up, not down.

So he`s doing a lot of different things there, but what he`s broadly
doing is essentially framing this in a common sense way for people who are
not following every second of this debate...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: ... who can say, yes, this makes sense to me. That`s what
-- that`s his genius. That`s what he`s always been good at...

MATTHEWS: Yes, and comparing...

CILLIZZA: ... and continues to be good at.

MATTHEWS: And compare, Ron, that to the jackasses on the right who
are out there saying that, you know, Obama some kind of socialist from
Europe. He says, No, no, there`s something worse afoot right now in Europe
right now. It`s called that effort over there to squeeze the economy down
to the stone, practically, cut out -- you have 11 percent unemployment over
in Europe, with all this draconian cuts over there, just what the
Republicans are promising to do here, they`ve already blown it out there in
Europe with. He`s nailing the guy on so many fronts.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, and there`s a nice
ironic twist to this, of course. As Chris was saying, it`s the Republicans
who are usually citing Europe as the -- you know, that this socialist
miasma that we -- we don`t want to go anywhere near that, you know?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: And Obama, he`s so European-ish in what he`s doing.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: Well, it is -- I just got back from Europe, as a matter of
fact. I`ve been in Italy for the last couple of weeks. And people are
very upset over in Europe about the way things have been going, needless to
say.

But the irony is that the Republicans, who disdain Europe so much, are
adopting European austerity policies, which do not work. We`ve seen the
experiment of Republican economics over there in Europe for weeks now,
months now, and it isn`t working. It`s failing -- Britain in a double dip
recession already. You know, so that`s the delicious irony of this.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Postcard from Europe, Drop dead. Here`s Clinton in
his defense of Obama, by the way. This is good stuff, a good embrace. He
painted Romney`s economic plan in bleak terms. Let`s watch it right now
from last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: His opponent, who said that he`s got a better idea, was the
governor of the state that was 47th in the country in job growth. He
promised that if elected, he would grow the economy and reduce the debt,
and when he left office, the debt of the state was going up.

And his plan -- his plan, is to go back to the Bush program, except on
steroids. The Romney Republican plan is austerity and more unemployment
now, and blow the lid off later just at the time when we`re worried about
high interest rates.

What`s the difference here? Shared prosperity versus continued
austerity and high unemployment. A politics of cooperation versus constant
conflict and divide and conquer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow! He says it better than certainly I`ve been trying to
say the same thing, Chris, which we need to get a job production program in
the short run and debt reduction program in the long run. He says that
Romney`s doing the opposite. No jobs in the short run so they can get
elected, and then nothing done now or ever about debt reduction. Your
thoughts.

CILLIZZA: First of all, Chris, let me just say as kind of an observer
of politics, how clear is it that Bill Clinton loves this stuff? I mean,
he is in his element...

MATTHEWS: Yes, love what you`re good at, my friend.

CILLIZZA: ... 100 percent. Good point. If you`re good at something,
you enjoy it. And he is good at this.

I think what he did there, which is very smart, which to be frank, I
think the Obama campaign has struggled with, is -- the Obama campaign keeps
saying, This is a choice, not a referendum. It`s a choice between what
Barack Obama has done and will do and what Mitt Romney has done and will
do.

They`ve not sold that all that effectively. I would say what Bill
Clinton is saying there is -- he kept saying, Look at Romney`s plan. Look
at -- he -- what he`ll do. Here`s the difference -- again, stark terms,
simple terms, taking something complex, making it simple and saying, This
is what the world would look like with Barack Obama. We know that. Here`s
what the world would look like with Mitt Romney. Which one of those two do
you want?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CILLIZZA: That has to be the dynamic because, frankly, Chris, if it`s
a referendum on the economy, Barack Obama is not going to be reelected.

MATTHEWS: I know. I know. Let me -- let me tell you something, what
I like, my little perspective, and your -- let me get yours, Ron. You
know, I`ve been around longer than both of you guys, and I got to tell you,
this nesting (ph) here is classic Clinton. And he`s able to do something
here about that birther crap that the president can`t do because the
president, when he talks about birthers is in a way playing defense against
a charge against him.

When a buddy comes along like Clinton, a political ally comes along, a
confederate, if you will, he can knock these crazies, these jackasses on
the far right who are birthers and liars much more effectively. Clinton
praised Obama last night for having achieved what he did with the crazy
sideshow of these birthers going on all the time trying to distract him at
a game.

Anyway, here he is talking about Florida Republican -- I don`t think
he`s a Republican, he`s a radical -- Congressman Allen West`s recent
remarks that there are 78 to 81 -- I like the precision -- communists now
serving as Democrats in the United States Congress. I don`t think there`s
80 communists in the country! Anyway, let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: And he`s had to get all this done while people as recently
as last week were still saying he wasn`t born in America.

(LAUGHTER)

He`s had to get all this done with a House of Representatives that had
one of the Tea Party members claim that 78 to 81 members of the Democratic
caucus were members of the Communist Party, and neither the presidential
nominee nor any of the leaders rebuked him for saying that.

This is not the 1950s! At least Joe McCarthy could skate on the fact
that there were one or two living communists walking around.

(LAUGHTER)

Nobody has seen a communist in over a decade!

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a great show, Ron. It`s a great show...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: I don`t know that there are 80 communists in communist China
anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: Where are communists anywhere?

MATTHEWS: Well, Fidel is still around. I hate to say it, he`s still
around, and Raul.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: He does this great. And he also does something that Barack
Obama is also not that good at, and that is telling people all the good
things that he`s done -- you know, 4.3 million jobs raised in the private
sector. The job losses are really coming in the public sector because the
state and local governments are laying off their employees, as Republicans
would insist, as Europeans, like Angela Merkel, might insist, as well.

And we have to remember, too, that this is really not just about debt
and deficit. You know, if you really look at this, what the Republicans
want is to dismantle the social welfare system that`s been in place since
the Depression. That`s what`s going on in Europe, too.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: On one side, the right wants to dismantle all these
protections in health care and what have you and, of course, the Democrats
here in the United States are trying to hold onto those things, even if
they have to compromise. They want to just preserve the status quo.

MATTHEWS: We were just in the country, by the way, where I never had
an unhappy moment, by the way. I think Italy is the nicest country in the
world to visit.

Anyway, let`s go right -- and here`s more of Clinton because I want to
talk in a minute with you guys about his brilliance at doing all these good
shots last night for President Obama and skipping away from this thing last
week where they were disagreeing about hedge funds and equity and all that
stuff, and Cory Booker stuff (ph).

Here`s Clinton last night again. We`re singing his praises. Didn`t
shy away from championing his own success as president, but he on to talk
about the case for Obama`s reelection. He also pointed to how he`s learned
all this stuff he`s getting good at, even better than ever at. He studies
economics two hours a day. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I do spend two hours a day still studying these economic
trends around the world and studying what is going on in America. And I
care about the long-term debt of the country a lot. Remember me? I`m the
only guy that gave you four surplus budgets out of the eight I sent.

(APPLAUSE)

So I don`t think it`s important to reelect the president, I think it
is essential to reelect the president if we want this country...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

-- to have the kind of future that our children and grandchildren
deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Chris, the 23rd Amendment doesn`t look too good right
now, does it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: The one limiting the number of terms of a president.

CILLIZZA: I think...

MATTHEWS: I mean, he looks like he`s ready to go, he`s been in there
since 1992. Up until now, he looks like he`d be pretty good.

CILLIZZA: Well, first of all, anyone who`s covered Clinton knows that
he would love to serve another term as president. Let`s be honest.

But I think he made an important point, and Ron touched on it, too,
Chris, which is there are definitely things that a high-profile surrogate
like Bill Clinton can and should say that the president of the United
States struggles with, both just temperamentally, who he is and how he
presents himself, but also because there are things that are harder when
you are sitting in the White House every day to talk about.

I think that`s why Clinton is critically important both from what
we`re seeing here -- you know, he`s talking to big Democratic donors in
these clips. He`s good at that. But he`s maybe even better at going to
places that I know, Chris, you and I talk about...

MATTHEWS: Look at that picture!

CILLIZZA: ... a lot -- Scranton, rural Ohio.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I know.

CILLIZZA: These are places where Bill Clinton can really go, be
effective, and sell that, OK, you may not love Barack Obama, but the
alternative is worse, message. And frankly, in those places, he probably
sells that message better than Barack Obama.

He, I think, is critically important both to be on board and on
message to help Barack Obama win over some of those on-the-fence folks in
that rust belt industrial Midwest.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, if he could meet the residence requirements,
he`d be a governor of Pennsylvania tomorrow morning.

Anyway, Chris Cillizza, Ron Reagan, gentlemen, thank you so much.

REAGAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Name the state, in fact -- Ohio, as well.

Coming up, tonight`s big showdown in Wisconsin. Why even if
Republican Scott Walker wins this thing, if he does, the Romney campaign
might decide their man can`t win the state in November. We`re going to go
through the numbers. We`ve got something going here.

Also, equal pay for women -- Republicans vote it down. No surprise
there. Was the vote an effort by the president to remind voters there are
more issues this November than the jobless rate? We know there are.

And the partisan divide. A new Pew survey says it`s largely -- in
fact, it is caused by Republicans lurching to the right. Democrats are
Democrats are Democrats. They haven`t changed. It`s the Republican Party
that has swept over to the far right, and it`s all in the numbers.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with this growing divide between
Democrats and Republicans caused by Republicans.

This is HARDBALL, place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Another major victory in the war on terrorism. Al Qaeda`s
number two leader, Abu Yahya al Libi, was killed by a CIA drone strike in
Pakistan`s Woristan (SIC) province -- Wazistan (SIC) province. Al Libi
took over as al Qaeda`s international leader since the death of Osama bin
Laden, releasing videotapes aimed at rallying al Qaeda forces.
Intelligence analysts say the most serious threat we face is from Al Qaeda
in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. It`s recall day in Wisconsin,
and democratic Mayor Tom Barrett is facing off against republican Governor
Scott Walker for the governorship. Also at stake is the future of union
power, labor, organized labor in the Badger state.

We have some early exit polls from today`s voting already for you.
We`ve interviewed more than 1,500 early voters out in Wisconsin today.
Here are some results.

They`re evenly split about changes in state law that limit collective
bargaining by public employee unions, 50 percent approve, 48 percent
disapprove. But when we asked their opinion overall toward government
workers who work for those unions, more early voting -- early voters today
view public employees favorably, 52 percent, then unfavorably, just 43
percent.

We also asked the Wisconsin voters how they would vote if the
presidential election were held today. Of those who have voted so far
today, 51 percent say they`d vote for Barack Obama, 45 percent for Mitt
Romney.

We should note here a technical point that`s important. There`s
another wave of exit polling coming later in the day that tends to be pro-
labor and pro-Democrat later in the day. We`ve known that for 50 years
now.

With me now is the host of "THE ED SHOW," Ed Schultz. Ed, allowing
the fact that we`ve only got two of these waves in of numbers on exit
polling, and always assuming for the better part of labor and for the
interests of labor and Democrats, they always do better after people get
home at night from work, after 6:00, how does it look to you?

ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SHOW": Well, I think it looks great, Chris.
I think the elbow grease ground game that the Democrats have been able to
put together in this state could lend itself to having a big night tonight.

Now, there`s still a lot of people in this state that have to vote.
The polls are going to be open until 8:00 o`clock. But what we`re hearing
is just a massive turnout in Milwaukee County, and this is a big, big key.

And what they have done, the Democrats have gone to the polls to see
who`s voting, and then they have sent canvassing teams into certain wards
of the state to make sure they get out to vote.

I mean, this isn`t mailing, this isn`t phone calls, this is elbow
grease work on the part of the unions and part of the workers to get out
there and make sure that they get their people to the polls. It really is
amazing.

We`ve heard all kinds of numbers about what kind of percentage versus
2008 and 2010. We know this, it`s pretty big.

MATTHEWS: Well, we got four more hours to vote out there. You make
the case. Why is it important to you personally, my colleague all these
years -- and I know this is one thing you care a lot about. You care about
collective bargaining. You care about the rights of workers, the middle
class, and in this case, public sector employees who`ve been under attack
by this governor.

Why is this election tonight so important to people who haven`t voted
yet? Whatever they decide, how important is this election?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think that you can track over the years union
membership and wages along with the rest of the middle class in this
country. A rising tide lifts all boats, as basic as that is. And if you
deplete union membership, you`re going to be depressing wages.

And philosophically, Chris, I just believe that we got to have a
strong middle class in this country if we`re going to revive this economy.

And apparently, the Obama White House feels the same way --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: ... because they have really staked their entire campaign
about going after the middle class and making sure that they get a fair
shake in this economy.

And I think what Walker has tried to do and the Republicans have tried
to do here in Wisconsin is exactly what they`re going to try to do on a
national level. And that`s deplete the voting bloc of the Democrats
through union membership. And we have seen that happen in Wisconsin.

This is a heavy lift, but it can be won, no doubt about it. And it
means a lot to me...

MATTHEWS: Are you -- are you concerned that you...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: ... because I -- philosophically, I believe in the middle
class.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I know.

And, look, by the way, one point you made that it is so powerful, it`s
not just union members who pay dues. Every time a union holds up a wage
scale, whether it`s the hotel workers or anyone -- I know about this --
other hotels keep up with them. They may not want to be organized, but
they make sure they represent -- or they make sure their workers get the
same salaries. So it lifts all boats in that way that most people don`t
think about.

That`s a good point. Are you worried that you have alerted the
Republican conservatives, the anti-labor people, the people that spend
their lives breaking unions by giving them an advance warning here that
they can now get elected, they can now get energized for November?

SCHULTZ: Well, they can, but they`re doing it with insurmountable
amounts of money.

I mean, think about this. We have a governor who has 27 million more
dollars than his opponent and he`s sitting on the ropes here tonight. That
ought to tell you about the passion of the people and it ought to tell you
about the power of the middle class and how information is power, and when
people take the time to pay attention to the issues, they`re going to
respond to them.

So I think that union membership obviously is important. I believe in
this area of collective bargaining and the mechanism of it, because I think
fairness in the economy is important. It`s not going after the top 2
percent. It`s not going after the wealthiest people in America. It`s
making sure that workers have a fair shot when it comes to days off, when
it comes to vacation, when it comes to health care, when it comes to
pension.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: And we have seen Republicans just raid all of these things.
For what? For the top 1 and 2 percent.

MATTHEWS: You know what?

SCHULTZ: I think it`s -- philosophically, it`s just so wrong.

MATTHEWS: You may not want me saying this, Ed, buddy, but I got to
tell you, if you weren`t doing this -- and you`re doing a fabulous job as
this colleague -- well, you`re doing better than we`re doing here at
HARDBALL. You`re getting great numbers.

I got to tell you something. You could be head of the AFL-CIO and
they would be better off for it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Ed Schultz, out there fighting for the
middle class.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I know I`m right -- or something even bigger, Mr. Schultz.

Anyway, you`re watching our show.

By the way, your show is on at Eastern time, 8:00 Eastern, from
Wisconsin. You`re right there on the spot where the action is, and then
again live at 11:00 tonight, Ed.

Anyway, now with me is Marty Beil, who is the executive director of
AFSCME. That`s the state and county local employees union out in
Wisconsin.

How does it look, sir?

MARTIN BEIL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY
AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, WISCONSIN: It looks wonderful. Thanks, Chris,
for having me on.


As you remember, we were together in the early days of this, and today
it is ground zero here. I mean, all over the state, it`s electrifying,
this turnout. Folks are out canvassing all over the state. As Ed said,
man, it`s just a bunch of elbow grease out there. It`s about talking about
us getting our values back, the middle class retaining our values, ripping
it back from the Republicans, who took it away from us.

And I truly think that Walker and his regime are kind of worried about
what`s going on here, especially as they look at the voter turnout issues.
Sure, they have been doing voter turnout in some of their districts that
they`re popular in, but all over the state, we`re seeing high numbers here,
Chris. And it`s really upbeat here. It`s really upbeat here in Madison
and in Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS: Talk about -- talk about, if you will -- you have been on
the show before, but let`s bring it home to people, their kitchen table.
When people get squeezed in their salaries, nobody gets a raise, and their
salary freezes all over the place, meanwhile, they`re watching Wall Street
and making more money than any percentage of our economy in history.

There`s never been anything -- it`s almost like the old Latin America
back in the horrible days, when United Fruit -- 5 percent of the country
would own all the money. How is it like? What`s it like in Wisconsin
where workers don`t get raises to keep up with things?

BEIL: Well, it`s not only not getting raises, but it`s also taking
away their expendable salaries.

And so for the employees I represent -- I represent state employees,
and, you know, I represent a lot of folks that are earning $11, $12, $13 an
hour. So you take away 13, 14, 15 percent of their disposable income,
they`re fighting to make mortgage payments, they have to make decisions
about health care for their kids or books in school for their kids.

And so people who had always enjoyed kind of that middle-class
existence now are thrown into a whole new world about economic insecurity,
about their kids` futures. And I believe this is all part -- a bigger part
of the Republican agenda here, is that, you know, I often say, they won`t
be happy until everybody works for minimum wage, has no benefits, and then
they`re in control of everything.

And that`s kind of what`s happening here. As they take away
collective bargaining rights, as they deplete the salaries, people are in
significant financial problems here as public employees. That`s wrong.
That`s just wrong.

MATTHEWS: Well, Marty, you have always been a good spokesman. It`s
been great having you on. Good luck tonight. We can say that here.

By the way, we`re just looking at some of the scenes from a Barrett
event, a Barrett rally.

Anyway, up next -- that`s Marty Beil of AFSCME.

Up next: President Obama sings again, kind of. And that`s next in
the "Sideshow."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going back
to a set of policies that say you`re on your own, and that`s essentially
the theory of the other side. You know, George Romney -- wrong guy.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: He was a good governor.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

That was of course President Obama at one of last night`s fund-
raisers. Apparently, Mitt wasn`t the only Romney on the president`s mind.
His father was, too.

Anyway, what does team Romney -- or team Obama have in common with the
Ron Paul crowd? Anything? How about the fact that both of their playbooks
include linking Mitt Romney to George W. Bush? Well, check out the pro-
Paul billboard gracing this roadside in Las Vegas.

Jon Ralston of "The Las Vegas Sun" summed it up: "The message is
unmistakable. Ron Paul is like Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney is like
George W. Bush. The latter is not meant kindly. I swear, folks, the
Republicans here are better than any act on the Strip. It is not even
close."

Next, most people are on board with any excuse that the president has
for singing. Enter Barack`s Dubs, a YouTube sensation that puts together
mash-ups of President Obama`s speeches and the words of popular songs.

This time, it`s a teen hit, "Call Me Baby" -- actually, "Call Me
Maybe."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s perhaps a close second to the president
serenading us for real.

Finally, roll tape. Joe Miklosi, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman`s
Democratic challenger, may have thought he struck gold last month when a
video of Coffman partaking in birther talk with constituents went viral.

Well, now Miklosi is blasting Coffman for video number two. To tee it
up, remember this moment from President Obama`s 2009 health care speech
before a joint session of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who are
here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Where was Mike Coffman during Joe Wilson`s famous outburst?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I was sitting behind my friend from
South Carolina, Joe Wilson. The president said "and my bill," which is
interesting that it was "my bill," because he never put forward a bill. It
was Nancy Pelosi`s bill.

But he said, "And my bill will not allow -- it does not allow illegal
immigrants to get benefits."

And so I saw Joe Wilson lean forward. And I saw him raise his finger
up, and then he goes, "You lie. You lie."

And I`m thinking, "Wow, this is going to be a story tomorrow."

(LAUGHTER)

COFFMAN: And I saw him the next morning, and he looked like he didn`t
get a lick of sleep the whole night. And I put my arm around his shoulder
and I said, "You know, Joe, I think something good is going to come out of
this, and I think the American people are going to understand why you did
what you did."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, now we know there is a level of character further
down even from the guy who disrespects the president. It`s the ditto head
sitting behind him.

Up next: equal pay for women. Democrats push a Senate vote they say
is all about economic fairness, but Republicans vote it down. That`s
ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

The Dow up 26, the S&P 500 higher by seven, and the Nasdaq added 18.
An upbeat report on the health of the service sector in the U.S. helped
boost stocks today. Meanwhile, another report on the housing sector from
CoreLogic showed that home prices were up 1.1 percent in April. Excluding
distressed sale, they were up 2.6 percent. One stock, though not
benefiting from today`s gains, Facebook, down about 4 percent today,
closing at less than $26 a share.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: This is a fight for fairness.
This is a fight for equity. So I ask them to put their lipstick on, square
their shoulders, suit up, for this is a new American revolution. So, I say
to you today, I`m putting my lipstick back on.

(LAUGHTER)

MIKULSKI: And I am combat-ready.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Wow. That was Barbara Mikulski from the -- United States
senator from Maryland, who sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act today that
was stopped from moving forward today in a straight party-line vote.
Democrats voted for it, Republicans against.

And President Obama made clear his frustration in a statement this
afternoon that reads in part: "It is incredibly disappointing that in this
make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan
politics ahead of American women and their families. My administration
will continue to fight for a woman`s right for equal pay for equal work as
we rebuild our economy, so that hard work pays off, responsibility is
rewarded and every American gets a fair shot to succeed."

Well, joining me right now are two senators who voted for the Paycheck
Fairness Act, Senator Charles Schumer of New York and Senator Kay Hagan of
North Carolina.

Senator Schumer, you`re smiling because this is such a rich
description I think of the two parties. You don`t get many absolutely
party-line votes. Explain why the Democrats were for pay fairness for
women and every single Republican voted against it.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, we were for pay fairness
because it`s a simple principle, equal pay for equal work. And some of our
colleagues on the other side of the aisle, very few of them spoke on this
because they didn`t have a good answer.

But those in the galleries are saying, well, women don`t -- you know,
it`s different jobs. It`s not. If you look at the 105 categories of women
employees and men employees, 105 categories of Department of Labor
employees, in just all but four in the same exact category, lawyer,
anesthesiologist, whatever, women get paid considerably less than men.

And that`s wrong. Now, why do our Republican colleagues opposing
this? It`s hard to fathom. It`s hard to fathom.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think -- I mean, you work with businesspeople.
You`re not anti-business. Why do you think employers do this so
systemically? Why -- if you wanted a first-rate anesthesiologist, and you
got a woman candidate and a male candidate, why would you mess around with
their pay scale, so that one would be offered less and wouldn`t get up
through the other level at the same speed the other -- the male would?

Why do they do this? Is that a dumb question?

SCHUMER: No, I think...

MATTHEWS: I don`t know.

SCHUMER: No, it`s not a dumb question. It`s an important question.
I don`t think, first, that everybody does it, and I don`t think everybody
does it in every category.

But there`s lots of discrimination that goes on. There`s just a
feeling that maybe -- or wrong feeling -- that men are more capable than
women, and so they offer higher salaries or whatever.

These days, things have changed. Half the women -- half the members
of medical schools and law schools are women. I heard an anecdote where
one medical school said, we`re going to have to have a quota for men
because so many of the qualified people are women.

So the old stereotypes stand in the way, but those old stereotypes are
gone.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Well, let me go to Senator Hagan here. It is great to have you on,
Senator Hagan.

The same question to you, but it must mean more to you emotionally to
just see this vote on the other side, where every single Republican across
the aisle says, no way, we`re not going to give you equal pay, or at least
we`re not going to vote for a law that requires it.

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: You know, it`s 2012. It doesn`t
make any sense to me.

It`s been close to 50 years that we first addressed this issue, and
yet, in North Carolina, women are still paid 81 cents for every dollar a
man earns. So, over the course of a year, it`s about $8,000 for an average
pay in North Carolina. For a family, for a woman, she could spend $110 a
week on groceries for about 73 weeks with that $8,000.

She could be buying another 2,200 gallons of gas at $3.60 with that
$8,000. And think about, over the lifetime of her career, what a
difference it would make, what her Social Security benefits would be, what
her retirement would be. This has a huge impact for women, and it is high
time that we address this issue.

And I`m very disappointed it didn`t hit the magic 60 in the Senate
today.

MATTHEWS: Well, the Republicans will argue, because we hear Romney
do it. I`ll start with Senator Schumer on this.

Senator, you listen to Romney and he makes the case all boats rise
with the tide; everybody is in this together, men and women shouldn`t be
separated in terms of political appeals. And they`ll say there`s only one
place, where the jobless rate is going to be, or the growth rate is come
October and November. They don`t want to hear about this. They consider
this distraction, Senator. Anything that`s not about the jobless rate is a
distraction to Romney`s people.

What do you make of that? Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Yes. Well, what I make of it, it`s about jobs and it`s
about the economy. And having people get paid their worth makes a great
deal of sense.

You know, I thought about your question. I guess their view and
Romney`s view, and he really hasn`t taken a position on this proposal
fully, and we`re asking him, are you for it or against it and he`s ducking
it, but I guess the position of some, the hard right, I wouldn`t say the
whole business community at all, is don`t put any strictures on employers
for anything.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHUMER: Too many of them want to go back to the 1890s. No worker
safety laws, no laws saying that you have to have minimum hours or, you
know, maximum hours or minimum working conditions, and this is part of the
same thing.

The employer should do whatever he or she wants, and that`s just
fine. That is not what the American people believe, that`s not what our
last 100 years of history has taught us.

Obviously, we believe in the free enterprise system. Obviously, we
want companies to do well. But just total, total, total freedom for an
employer to do anything he or she wants, even if it discriminates, even if
it`s unfair, even if it`s bad for the economy, go right ahead and do it, is
what they seem to say.

MATTHEWS: I want to get one human life experience here. Senator
Hagan, can you talk about -- imagine some of these jobs don`t look the
same, but they`re equally important, say, a construction company. You`ve
got a woman, for example, sitting in the job shack keeping records, making
sure everybody is keeping their time, making the schedule, getting the job
done. Somebody else is working in a forklift.

How do you find the equal -- the need for the salaries to be equal in
some of these cases when the jobs don`t look the same? How do you do that?

HAGAN: Well, what we`re talking about is equal pay for equal jobs.
I think one of the problems is women are worried about a retaliation
against them if they ask a coworker, what do you make versus what I make?

MATTHEWS: I got you.

HAGAN: So I think that`s an issue.

But another issue is that right now, the -- what the employer has to
pay is back wages. So what this bill does, it actually adds punitive and
compensatory damages for a suit against the employer who actually has
discriminated in the wages. And I think that`s going to help address this
issue of women being able to say, look, I am being paid at a lesser rate.

MATTHEWS: OK, Senator Hagan, thank you. Please come on more often,
Senator Hagan.

And, Senator Schumer, you`re one of our favorites here.

HAGAN: Thanks.

SCHUMER: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, the United States Congress is more partisan than
ever. Wait until you hear the numbers. If you think there is a growing
divide between the two parties, the two philosophies, left and right,
you`re right. But if you think there is a movement by left towards the
left, and the right towards the right, you`re wrong.

A new study proves the movement is not from the left to the further
left, it`s from the right to the far further right. And that`s all ahead.
It explains a lot about what`s going on, it explains why this fight is
getting bitter now.

The place for politics, that`s us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Besides that big recall election in Wisconsin, there are
primary elections in other states tonight, including an interesting matchup
between two incumbent House Democrats in New Jersey, Congressman Steve
Rothman and Congressman Bill Pascrell, are fighting over the Democratic
nomination in a redrawn district. President Obama backs Rothman while Bill
Clinton`s campaign for Pascrell. Oh, boy.

And out in California, it`s the first official statewide free for all
primary, with two top finishers, regardless of party, advanced in the
general election in November. That`s going to be wild tonight.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

The big story tonight, the American public is more politically
polarized now than any other time in the past quarter century. That`s a
finding from the latest report from the Pew Research Center, which has been
tracking the public`s divide since 1987.

According to this new study, Republicans have moved sharply right on
a number of key issues, including the environment and the role of
government on taking care of people who can`t care for themselves.

E.J. Dionne is a columnist for the "Washington Post" and author of
"Our Divided Political Heart." And Michael Steele is the former chair of
Republican National Committee. Both are MSNBC contributors.

Gentlemen, let`s get to the big numbers.

The Pew study tracked the attitudes of Democrats and Republicans on a
number of key issues. Look at how positions have changed on the issue of
safety net issues.

In 1987, 25 years ago, when asked if they agreed government should
take care of people who can`t take are of themselves, 75 percent of
Democrats, 62 percent of Republicans agreed they ought to do that.

Twenty-five years later, the number is about the same for Democrats.
But for Republicans, the number has dropped to just 40 percent, about half
of what it was in supporting of taking care of people who need being taken
care off.

On the environment, 20 years ago, Democrats and Republicans
essentially agreed there needed to be stricter laws and regulations to
protect the environment. Both sides were environmental. But now, only 47
percent of Republicans say environmental protections getting tougher.

Michael, your party -- it seems like you would have been more at home
25 years ago than you are right now.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: That`s for sure.

MATTHEWS: You would have fit in more as a centrist person who leans
to the right, rather than a person far right.

But just looking at these numbers, I am shocked. Only 40 percent,
two in five, say take care of -- who can`t take, in other words, leave them
out of the highway.

STEELE: That`s not it.

MATTHEWS: That`s what it says --

STEELE: Taking care of themselves is not the same as leaving them on
the highway.

But I think what changed in that 25, 30-year span has been the role
of government, the expanse of government, the expense of government. And
so, you have Republicans who have come to a conclusion, and it started in
the second term of the Bush years, when they saw big government
Republicanism, especially. That the healthcare bills, the spending that
was undertaken for the wars, et cetera, that this was runaway -- runaway
spending.

And so, you now have this mind-set that says, look, let`s cut back on
these things. I`m sure we can talk about how we get there. But let`s deal
with the spending side.

MATTHEWS: OK. In other words, because W. was so ridiculous as to
take us into war with Iraq, it drove up the cost of government, we have to
cut back on poor people programs. That`s what you just said.

STEELE: No, that`s not what I just said.

MATTHEWS: You said the cost of wars.

STEELE: Among other things, the safety net issues. And look,
Republicans have been consistent over the years arguing about the spending
on the social programs without the benefit of going back and reviewing the
program and making sure that those dollars are being --

MATTHEWS: Just on a general principle, let me get to the general
question. Percent of people who believe the government should take care of
those who can`t take care of themselves, a dramatic decline, you know,
somewhere between 62 down to 40 percent.

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: What`s really important here is this
is asymmetric polarization, because the numbers show that they haven`t
changed on these core economic issues, more or less the same. All of the
shift is on the Republican side. So, if you ask --

MATTHEWS: How do you explain it? He has a reason. He said the cost
of government and big regulations has driven people who are once moderate
to the far right. What`s your explanation why they went to the right?

DIONNE: I think a lot of people who used to be Republicans aren`t
Republican any more. A lot of moderates began leaving the party in the
`90s. Counties like where --

MATTHEWS: Where did they go?

DIONNE: Some became independent, some became Democrats. But they`re
not voting in Republican primaries anymore. They`re not calling themselves
Republicans.

MATTHEWS: OK. To make your point, the ideological makeup of the
parties has also changed, according to this study. Today, moderates make
up a small part of the Republican Party. Just about a quarter, 26 percent.
Sixty-eight percent, seven out of 10 Republicans call themselves actual
conservatives.

Compare that to Democrats and I think people who watch the show will
be surprise bid this, 38 percent even -- 38 percent call themselves
moderate, 38 percent call themselves liberal.

So, I always say to people, don`t be too puristic when you want to
get a Democrat elected because there`s a lot of moderate Democrats who have
to vote for that person.

The Pew study also shows the racial make-up of the party, so, this
doesn`t surprise me. The Democratic Party of the past 12 years has grown
more diverse, of course, with immigrant and people, while the Republican
Party remains overwhelmingly white. Eighty-seven percent of Republicans
are white. That doesn`t surprise me much.

DIONNE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Michael?

STEELE: Well, no, that`s the one area where I do have a great deal
of --

MATTHEWS: How many Jack Kemps or Michael Steeles are there?

STEELE: Not a lot. That is something I genuinely have a concern
about. When I look at the demographic shifts in this country, where the
new politics is going to take place, it is urban centers, it is in
communities that --

MATTHEWS: Are there people going out into the middle class black
neighborhoods, nice neighborhoods in this town, nice neighborhoods
Philadelphia, German town, nice neighborhoods, and asking those people to
consider their party.

STEELE: No. They`re not and that`s the problem. And so, for brief
shining moment, we were able to do that in 2010, where we went and we start
developing coalitions and those relationships.

But that is not part of the --

MATTHEWS: Reince Priebus is not on the job.

STEELE: Not on the -- it is not part of the main stay of the --

MATTHEWS: E.J., what`s the explanation for why the Democratic Party
doesn`t recognize it is basically split between moderates and liberals?
Self-described moderates?

DIONNE: Any smart Democrat who ever won a Democratic nomination
understands that. Bill Clinton understood that.

But Barack Obama understood that. He won moderates. He got elected
because he won middle of the road moderates in 2008.

And to me, the whole key, one of the arguments of my book, the whole
key to America is balance. We believe in individualism but we also believe
in community. I think Obama and Clinton both understood the communitarian
side.

The Republicans have thrown compassionate conservatism overboard.

MATTHEWS: Name of your book.

DIONNE: "Our Divided Political Heart".

MATTHEWS: "Our Divided Political Heart" -- great writer. I read
them twice a week. Thank you, E.J. Dionne.

DIONNE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Steele, quite a man of honesty and
gentile, I think.

When we return, let me finish with this rightward lurch I was just
talking about and what it`s doing to the country -- doing for the country.

You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. That last segment has
powerful news in it, don`t you think? All this talk about the two parties
being so wide apart. Now, we learn that it`s the Republicans are the cause
of the distancing. It`s the right that`s moving further right. The
Democratic side is where it`s been.

A quarter century ago, 62 percent of Republicans believe government
should look out for people who couldn`t take care of themselves. Today,
the figure is down to 40 percent. That`s right. Today, only 40 percent of
Republicans, just two in five, think the government should take care of
people who couldn`t take care of themselves.

What should we do? Leave accident victims laying out there in Route
95. That we shove people out of the E.R., and out on the street. Do we
dump people born with handicaps in the dumpsters?

What do these people when they say we shouldn`t take care of the
helpless? What happened to Lincoln`s belief that government should do for
people only what they cannot do for themselves?

Well, here`s another one -- only 47 percent of Republicans say they
believe in stricter laws to protect the environment. Is this the party of
Teddy Roosevelt? Are these the legatees, who was one of the original
conservationists? Twenty years ago, that number was 86 percent.

Look, overall, the party, once the party of right leaning centrists
is now 68 percent conservative. Only 26 percent of Republicans now call
themselves a moderate. About one in four.

The Democrats in contrast have a balanced membership now -- 38
percent moderate, 38 percent liberal. So, while the Democrats remain as
much as they were a quarter century ago, the Republicans have lurched so
far right that Abe Lincoln or the environmentals I should say wouldn`t even
recognize them.

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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