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updated 6/13/2012 5:20:44 PM ET 2012-06-13T21:20:44

Guests: Diane Dimond, Barbara Boxer, Ray LaHood, James Lipton

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Bushed.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this assault on the Republican Party.
This time, it`s coming from within, very within. Jeb Bush, the guy touted
most as the party`s number one future prospect, says it`s gone so far right
lately that neither he, nor his father or even Ronald Reagan would fit
anymore. While he places some blame on the Democrats, he said his refusal
-- or this refusal to compromise, this insistence on rigid right-wing
orthodoxy by the Tea Party types creates a real problem for actually
governing this country.

Well, with me now are Michael Steele, the former chair of the
Republican National Committee, and Ron Reagan. Both are MSNBC analysts.
Thank you so much.

Michael, I don`t know how you think on this exactly, but I am
impressed. Jeb Bush is sort of heir to the throne, if you will.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: He sits out there as a guy who was talked up so highly for
all these recent months and years as future prospect for president. And
here he is saying, basically, you have to compromise, you have accept
things like 10-for-1 deals or you`re not getting anywhere.

STEELE: Well, I have to tell you, it was music to my ears, and I was
so grateful to hear the governor put in very raw terms the reality that we
have as a party to face not just now but into the future.

As you look at the demographic shifts in this country, Chris -- you
and I have talked about this before -- the Republican Party, which I headed
for two years, is moving itself out of -- out of, you know, line with the
American people. It`s not the position to be in.

I thought that Jeb put it very well, and he`s absolutely right. And
I`ve said for a number of years -- in fact, we had Michael Reagan speak at
one of our meetings of the members in which he reiterated, as well, that
Ronald Reagan -- you know, the Ronald Reagan we knew of the last eight
years in office...

MATTHEWS: I think that was Ron Reagan, not Michael Reagan, actually.

STEELE: No...

MATTHEWS: I think you`ve got the sons mixed up.

STEELE: No, speaking at the RNC meeting of the members. But he made
that exact same point, that Ronald Reagan would not necessarily pass the
litmus tests that are being arbitrarily created within the party today.

MATTHEWS: And that was Michael who said that?

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That is a -- I thought he was further right than his
father. Ron Reagan, speaking as an expert on this -- your eyes are raising
here! But this is...

RON REAGAN, AUTHOR, "MY FATHER AT 100," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`m
surprised, too.

MATTHEWS: Jeb Bush is a regular Republican, a mainstream conservative
on issues like Affirmative Action and vouchers. He is right in the center
of the party. For him to say that the party has moved so far from the
conservative center is pretty amazing stuff.

REAGAN: Yes, it is. I imagine -- when I hear Jeb speaking, I`m
listening to a guy, I think, who saw his moment kind of pass and wasn`t
able to take advantage of it. So...

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a moving target, isn`t it?

REAGAN: Yes, that`s true.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: That`s true enough. But I think he`s right. You know, it
isn`t so much policies that separate, let`s say, Ronald Reagan from today`s
Republican Party, it`s a willingness to deal with your opponents, to reach
across the aisle.

You were in a privileged position, Chris, with Tip O`Neill, working
for Tip O`Neill during my father`s presidency, and you know that they would
ultimately always find a way to work together on things. This -- this --
today`s Republican Party doesn`t seem capable of doing that anymore, and it
means that nothing gets done in the country.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`m working on a project on that. I got to tell you
something there. This is a fact that I actually lived through. As you
know, I lived through it. Reagan was a conservative and Tip was a liberal,
but they could agree on tax reform. They could agree on fixing Social
Security. They agreed on ending the cold war. Tip was behind him every
moment of the day there.

I think it`s very interesting. If you can find the common ground, you
can make a better country.

REAGAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s Jeb Bush drawing the line between his father
-- that`s George Herbert Walker Bush -- and Ronald Reagan, as well`s
Republican Party, and that party of today. He made it as a breakfast at
the Bloomberg View just yesterday.

Here he is. Quote -- there wasn`t any TV there, so I have to write --
read this to you. "Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of
finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my
dad -- they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party as
having an orthodoxy that doesn`t allow for disagreement, doesn`t allow for
finding some common ground."

And you know, I see that -- it`s very strange, Michael, because you
had to contend with those new forces. But you do have to wonder about what
do the people who come to Washington now elected as members of the House --
and I`m not knocking everybody. They get elected as much anybody else.
They got as much certification from the voters as anybody.

But their attitude seems to be, I`m going to wait out the liberals.
I`m going to wait them out. They`re not going away, by the way. I hate to
break to these guys...

STEELE: No, they`re not going away.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There`s always going to be a lot of liberals in the
Congress, and progressives.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: And quite frankly, Chris, we don`t want them to go away
because we don`t want everybody to have group think. We don`t want
everyone to be of the same mind on every issue out there.

There is value in the synergy and the tension that comes from debating
these ideas, which is what I`m hoping this presidential campaign -- and you
again talked about this -- turns into, ultimately, instead of just picking
fights over the crumbs that fall off the media table, but the substance of
the arguments around the policy.

You`re absolutely right. Both of you are right here. There is not
that -- I mean, in terms of the policy discussions, yes, there are big, big
decisions and big differences, but that`s not what this should be about.

What Jeb Bush is talking about is making this party relevant again in
the context, the policies and debates that matter to the American people
and not putting ourselves outside of those conversations.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the immigration issue, not just taxes.
But here`s a case where Romney, who`s not a right-winger, exactly -- I
think he goes along with some of this stuff -- uses terms like "self-
deportation.` Here is -- by the way, Jeb called today`s political climate
"hostile" -- can we move this? He called it -- he criticized his party`s
hard line on immigration.

Here is what he said, quote. Can we move this? "Don`t just talk
about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders.
You`ve got to change the tone. And that would be the first thing. Second
on immigration, I think we need to have a broader approach."

Well, you know, he has -- his family is part Hispanic. He`s married
to a Mexican-American woman. Their kids are from that background. He`s
very much involved in that community. In fact, he`s engaged in that
community, Ron. And I think he understands that you can`t just say
everyone who came here without documentation, everyone who didn`t come here
legally, whether they came here 80 years ago or not, you got to throw them
across the border some night.

You know, I mean, that`s just not realistic nor is it at all, I would
argue, very nice to talk about people that way.

REAGAN: No, it`s not humane or realistic. My father, of course, when
he was president, in 1986 gave amnesty to three million undocumented
workers in this country.

Beyond that, in 1979, when he was getting ready to run for president,
he proposed a North American accord which would open the borders between
the United States and Canada and Mexico so that people and goods could move
freely, he proposed, you know, between these three countries. That would
not hold him in good stead with the Tea Party, I would think, right now.

MATTHEWS: That`s one of those crazy ideas like getting rid of nuclear
war, nuclear weapons.

REAGAN: Yes, I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... lamebrain ideas.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Michael, immigration -- you pointed to the demographic
changes. I mean, we had Mark Penn on here just a couple weeks ago, who
said that 10 percent of the electorate this time is going to be Hispanic
background people, and that`s a lot of voters.

STEELE: It`s a lot of voters, and you multiply that by factor of, you
know, five or six going down the road, and you quickly see where the
party`s positioning itself outside of that growth.

And I think -- I think Jeb and many others, you know, have spoken on
this issue and can make the argument, I think very cogently, that we are
the party of assimilation and immigration and supporting those. That`s
been a part of our history.

And I think the more we talk about that history and put it in the
right context, Chris, the stronger we`ll become with those growing
populations of people who don`t like look a typical or sound like a typical
Republican.

MATTHEWS: I know. Let me ask you...

REAGAN: It`s got to be more than spin, though.

MATTHEWS: Pardon me?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We can`t just be Welcome Wagon. Let me ask you...

STEELE: Oh, no. You`re absolutely right. It cannot be spin. I`m
not talking spin here. I`m talking about a serious approach to not just
the immigration issue but the broader conversation that we should have
about economic (ph) and poverty (ph) and et cetera, those things that draw
people to America.

MATTHEWS: And that showed how even W., who was for it, who was all --
I think Texas seemed to be right on this, so much more -- you know, at
least he was very smart about it, trying to get a combination of
enforcement and a progressive policy to go with it. You need to put both
teeth in it...

STEELE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... that enforces something. And then you have to have
something that`s genuinely humane.

Let me ask you about what kind of reaction do you think Jeb Bush is
getting. Are you hearing any sort of mumbling out there about him, the way
he`s talking? Is this -- are they just interpreting this to meaning he`s
emeritus, he`s retired, he`s not going to ever run?

STEELE: Well, no. Some are grumbling. You`ve heard people refer to
him as a RINO, which I think is an obnoxiously stupid comment to make about
Jeb Bush. You know, so you do have this reaction because he`s talking
about changing. He`s talking about the party not abandoning its
conservative principles, but embracing those very conservative principles
that Ronald Reagan and George Bush 41 embraced and made them successful
presidents.

And I think that that is something going forward -- and I`m hoping
Mitt Romney will also embrace in this election campaign, and I think if he
does, the stronger he`ll become as a candidate and the stronger party will
be.

MATTHEWS: Well, no surprise -- no surprise...

REAGAN: The Republican Party -- if the Republican Party is to be
saved, Chris, it`s going to have to be saved by people like Jeb Bush
ultimately.

MATTHEWS: From the inside. Well, what about this Grover Norquist
character? He`s never been elected to anything. He`s a lobbyist on the
tax issue. He runs around like a hall monitor.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And here he is, jumping -- jumping on -- jumping on Jeb
Bush, who has been governor for a couple terms, an extremely popular
politician -- I don`t know where Grover could ever get elected.

Your thoughts on this, first Ron and then Michael. Is this Grover
Norquist stronger than Jeb Bush? Is the kind of guy that can be the
enforcer here and say, No movement, no negotiations, no 10-for-1 deals, no
deals ever?

REAGAN: I believe he will be strong enough. Look, he got every
Republican candidate now to pledge, you know, no new taxes whatsoever. My
father would have violated Grover Norquist`s pledge I think 11 times when
he was president.

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: And Grover Norquist would no doubt deem my father
insufficiently Reaganesque at this point.

MATTHEWS: Oh, that would be cool.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Michael, what do you think? Who`s Grover going to win this
-- Grover going to win this thing or guys like Jeb Bush, the fight for the
heart of your party?

STEELE: I think I put my money on Jeb Bush because I think,
ultimately, you hit the right word there. He`s going to speak to the heart
of the party, and I think he reflects in a lot of ways what typical
Republicans out there feel.

I understand where Grover`s coming from in his pledges, and I
understand that very well. But unless you`ve governed and unless you`ve
had to make those tough choices, a pledge is just a piece of paper, my
friend, when you`re dealing with people`s lives, you`re dealing with their
wallets and their pocketbooks and their businesses. And executive
leadership, you know, which Jeb has a lot of, I think trumps any
conversation point in that regard, so...

MATTHEWS: You know, I happen to know something important here, which
is the president of the United States believes and hopes -- maybe it`s
hopefulness, he is a hopeful guy -- that if he can get reelected this time
against the forces of the far right who are aligned against him right now,
that he can find people like Jeb Bush and others in the party, that they
will be ready to negotiate and have a real governing coalition in this
country -- not an official coalition, but both parties actually negotiating
with each other on an honest basis. He`s hoping if he can win, he can find
a new opportunity dispensation (ph), if you will.

Last word, Ron.

STEELE: And Chris, I`m sorry, just real quick on that point. I think
Mitt Romney would want the same thing should he win from Democrats and
like-minded Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, I got to tell you, I`m with that if it would
ever happen. That wouldn`t be the worst thing in the world.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: ... new Republican Party, though.

MATTHEWS: We`ll see. We will see. I think it takes him to buck
those guys first, at some point. He has to show some independence of the
wild men. Anyway, thank you very much, Ron Reagan. Thank you, Michael
Steele. An unusual agreement among three people.

Coming up, emotional testimony from one of the victims in the day two
of that Penn State Jerry Sandusky trial, which is really getting quite
graphic, I got to tell you. This is the real story coming out here in
court.

Plus, build, baby, build. You know what I believe in, get the people
working. If Republicans are so hungry for jobs, why are they blocking the
one big plan out there being pushed by Inhofe of Oklahoma and Barbara Boxer
out there to put hundreds of thousands -- actually, a million people to
work in the next year building bridges, working on the roads? We`ve got a
HARDBALL exclusive coming up with lots of facts on that one.

And the Mitt Romney act. An expert exposes the man behind the
curtain. The great James Lipton, host of Bravo`s "Inside the Actors
Studio," is coming here to play HARDBALL.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with Jeb Bush`s call to arms against
the far right-leaning Republican Party.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New poll numbers from a key battleground state,
Pennsylvania. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

Here it is. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, President Obama has a
-- this isn`t bit -- a 6-point lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, 46 to
40. That`s not great. The president`s not yet over 50 in Pennsylvania, a
state he won by 10 points in 2008 and needs to win fairly comfortably.

And in North Carolina, a new PPP poll has Romney up by 2. That`s not
good, 48 to 46. It`s Romney`s first lead in the PPP Poll in the Tarheel
state since October.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Incredibly emotional testimony
today in Center Country, Pennsylvania, as the now 18-year-old boy known as
"victim 1" broke down in the trial of former Penn State assistant coach
Jerry Sandusky.

Just a reminder to our viewers that much of this story is graphic in
nature. Victim 1 cried openly in court, by the way, as he detailed the
alleged abuse, which began with fondling and led to oral sex.

Later in the day, the jury heard from Penn State assistant coach Mike
McQueary, who said he saw Sandusky in the shower with a boy around the age
of 10 or 12 and heard, quote, "skin on skin, smacking sounds." That was
back in 2001.

Well, Sandusky, the defendant, says he`s innocent of the 52 criminal
charges he faces.

Diane Dimond with "Newsweek" and the DailyBeast is covering this trial
in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and Michael Smerconish is an attorney, and of
course, an MSNBC political analyst.

Diane, thank you so much. Tell us today about the testimony of victim
1.

DIANE DIMOND, DAILYBEAST: Well, this was the second accuser/victim,
alleged victim, that we`ve heard from. And I`ll tell you, you`ve known me
for a long time, Chris. I`m pretty hardened when it comes to covering
trial stuff, but you know what? I have never seen testimony like this.

I`m a mother. I know you`re a father. This kid was -- is 18 years
old. He was 11 years old when he first met Sandusky, and the abuse began
when he was about 12 -- alleged abuse, let`s say.

I got teary. I have to tell you, I got very teary hearing this boy.
And I call him a boy because he`s so small. He`s so frail. He walked in
with stooped shoulders and his chin down, and you just wanted to hug the
kid.

He broke down completely twice. At one point, the jail matron had to
come over and give him a Kleenex. And when she did, he buried his face, he
buried his sobs. And frankly, the whole courtroom just sat there waiting
for him to collect himself on two occasions.

Didn`t take any recesses. He just kept talking about how Jerry
Sandusky, in his words, began to fondle him, then perform oral sex on him
and then expected him to do the same to Jerry Sandusky. It was very
powerful stuff.

MATTHEWS: And it certainly sounded like that kid was completely
surrounded by the situation and couldn`t get out of it at all.

Let me go to Michael Smerconish. This is a political show. This
story out of Penn State has tremendous ramifications, I would bet, down the
road. But let`s start with one, Michael -- Megan`s law.

The kid went to the parent and said, What`s that law about kids and
people that do things to them, and finally got the mother alerted because
he was so scared of his situation. But he was there relying on something
he`d heard about a law that alerts people to sex offenders.

I thought it was interesting that that law is there and that this kid
could point to it, at least to get to first base with his parents in
warning them what was going on with him, or to him.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, Diane is
obviously right that victim number one and the testimony of Mike McQueary
are the big headlines coming out of this today.

But I would submit to you that potentially the big political headline
came from a caseworker, a caseworker who testified today that the state
trooper who initially investigated the complaints of victim number one
believed victim number one and thought there was enough to arrest Jerry
Sandusky.

Instead, there was a three-year investigation that ensued at a time
when Tom Corbett, the current governor of Pennsylvania, was the attorney
general. And only as he was running for governor did that -- did that not
campaign, but investigation, seem to gain speed.

And there are a lot of people in Pennsylvania -- and I`m one of them -
- who are asking questions as to whether the investigation dragged for far
too long.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to Diane, because that whole thing, by
the way, the almost religious nature in Pennsylvania, the sacredness of
Penn State football, the way in which the church...

DIMOND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... the Catholic Church, my church, protects its own -- we
got that huge case going on in Philadelphia now about the monsignor who was
reassigning pastors...

DIMOND: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... reassigning guys who were involved in this stuff
allegedly.

Let me ask you about this McQueary guy. He was a guy that saw --
allegedly saw -- I have to be careful here -- that raping scene, it looked
like, in that shower. And then what`s going on with that testimony,
McQueary?

DIMOND: McQueary was a surprise.

There was one witness who was late because his daughter was having
some surgery, so it surprised everybody that there was McQueary all of a
sudden. He was very strong. He was very forceful. I got the impression
that Jerry McQueary has been waiting for a long -- I`m sorry -- Michael
McQueary has been waiting for a long, long time to get into the courtroom
to have his say on the record in sworn testimony about what he saw.

He never wavered a bit. I don`t want to get too graphic here, but he
said, in effect, I saw Jerry Sandusky and a little boy about 10 or 11 naked
in a shower. Sandusky had him wrapped around the waist.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DIMOND: There was smacking, rhythmic movements of skin on skin. I
couldn`t believe what I saw. I walked over to the shower. I was five feet
away. They saw me. I saw them. I was so disgusted, he said, I left -- I
just left the locker room and went and called my father.

MATTHEWS: Diane, you know what? You know what?

DIMOND: It was very riveting testimony to finally hear him say it in
court.

MATTHEWS: The horror of this when we finally get -- and I never knew
the details of these cases. Like you, we grew up hearing words like molest
or touched or things.

The trouble with the media, it has been so squeamish in describing
these cases -- I know we have to use the word graphic and some people don`t
want to see it -- but, damn it, we would have known a lot more how horrible
these cases were if somebody had said...

DIMOND: I`m with you.

MATTHEWS: ... this is what happened, this is what happened.

DIMOND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Write it down. We can handle it. We`re grownups.

Michael, let me go back to you.

(CROSSTALK)

DIMOND: And you know -- and you know what, Chris?

MATTHEWS: I have to tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Oh, go ahead, Diane. Go ahead, Diane.

DIMOND: I was going to just say and as we heard in court here today,
Jerry Sandusky was an idol here, as was Paterno, as was the entire Penn
State football team.

And a wrestling coach said, I saw something suspicious. They were
laying on a mat together, but I said to myself, it`s Jerry Sandusky --
quote -- "He`s a saint. He would never do anything like that."

Well, that was many years ago and I hate to think what happened
between then and now.

MATTHEWS: Just like the priesthood.

Michael, it`s so much resonant of what`s going on in the Catholic
Church, where the people were so respected, so protected, that they just
all took doubt for each other and they didn`t care about these kids. I`m
going through these ages of the kids here.

I think people have to know this. These aren`t teenagers. These are
pubescent 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 11-year-olds.

DIMOND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Every one of these kids. This isn`t -- this isn`t some
late teen, young adult. These are kids that are being -- well, we know
what they`re doing, alleged to have been doing here.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SMERCONISH: .. to the issue here of not protecting kids, the worst
might still be to come, because former FBI Director Louis Freeh is
conducting an investigation.

And, as you know, Michael Isikoff is reporting that they have e-mails
that go into the hierarchy of Penn State perhaps to the then president of
Penn State saying that in the aftermath of the McQueary incident, they
didn`t report it because they wanted to treat Sandusky humanely.

Look out if those e-mails are correct and they surface.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

The only thing I want to know as we study this evidence is was there
so much "Rashomon" going on here, so many words taken from one person to
another person to another person, each one softening the blow, so when it
finally got to Spanier or somebody at the top, did they say actually this
stuff we`re talking about right here?

And if they didn`t, damn it, they should have. That would have been
good for the country.

We will find out as the court proceedings -- and you`re right. this
investigation has got to go on. I`m glad they`re looking at it.

Anyway, thank you, Diane Dimond.

And thank you, the great Michael Smerconish.

DIMOND: You bet, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next; Times sure are tough for Newt Gingrich. The
former speaker, according to this report, isn`t making the money he used to
make on the speaking tour by any means. He`s still making a bundle, but
wait until you hear the drop in his value.

That`s coming up in the "Sideshow."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and the "Sideshow."

Conan O`Brien took his show to Chicago last night, and that got him a
visit from Rahm Emanuel, the city`s mayor. Conan asked the mayor to give
him a mob name for each of Chicago`s top sports stars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": I`m going to name a famous Chicago
athlete. You have to tell me what their nickname would be if they were a
mobster.

RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

O`BRIEN: First one, Michael Jordan.

EMANUEL: Mikey Six Rings.

(LAUGHTER)

O`BRIEN: Shoeless Joe Jackson.

EMANUEL: Joey No Shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

O`BRIEN: Dick Butkus.

EMANUEL: Richard Heinie Smoocher.

(LAUGHTER)

O`BRIEN: William The Refrigerator Perry.

EMANUEL: William The Refrigerator Perry.

O`BRIEN: Yes, very good!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

O`BRIEN: He did it!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

O`BRIEN: Nice job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Rahm`s one of the smart ones.

And Romney`s been hitting President Obama pretty hard for saying at a
press conference last week that the private sector is doing fine.

Well, here`s the latest report from David Letterman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Mitt Romney
jumped right on this and wasted no time issuing this response to President
Obama saying that the private sector is fine.

Watch what Mitt had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After President Obama made this statement...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The private sector is
doing fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Mitt Romney quickly responded...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said the private sector
is doing fine. Is he really that out of touch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... while speaking from the hot tub of his luxury
yacht on another yacht next to a private island that`s part of his chain of
islands on his own planet.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, in touch with the common man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I got to say, a nitwit could have explained what the
president said last week.

Anyway, finally, remember when Newt Gingrich was leading the pack
during the GOP primary, letting us all know how much money he used to rake
in, in the speaking circuit?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m going to be
really direct, OK? I was charging $60,000 a speech. And the number of
speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they
gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s calling himself a celebrity. I have never heard
anybody do that.

Anyway, well, sadly for Newt, that 60 grand price tag is available at
a hefty discount these days. That`s if you believe BuzzFeed -- quote --
"The Worldwide Speakers Group is offering Gingrich for speaking events in
Washington, D.C., starting at just $25,000 per speech, according to a
source familiar with his arrangement."

Well, more than half off the cost he commanded before launching a
presidential bid. Again, that`s if the source knows what he or she is
talking about. Anyway, the item points out if that your event is in Europe
or in Asia and you want Newt Gingrich on the bill, it will cost you four
times his domestic price.

Up next: Build, baby, build. Why are Republicans blocking a plan
that would create a million jobs rebuilding America, right now, new jobs?
Instead, they`re pushing a plan that would actually kill the number of
jobs. Why would they do something like that?

Well, we have got the results of an exclusive report.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

A rebound for stocks, with the Dow gaining 162 points, the S&P up 15
and the Nasdaq up 33. J.P. Morgan shares gained nearly 3 percent ahead of
the CEO Jamie Dimon`s appearance before lawmakers on Capitol Hill tomorrow.
Some of his prepared testimony has already been released.

Michael Kors posted better-than-expected earnings, sending shares up
more than 7 percent. And Texas Instruments rose 2 percent, despite two
brokerages cutting the price targets on the stocks.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The most important number in this election season, I think, is the
unemployment rate, and right now, it`s 8.2, and right now, there`s a
highway build that is stalled because House Republicans won`t pass it. It
would create one million new jobs. Well, by our math, if 1 percent of the
unemployment rate equals 1.5 million people, then this bill could easily
get the unemployment rate well below 8 percent, so why isn`t it happening?

Is this about election-year politics or getting America back to work?

Good question.

Senator Barbara Boxer is chair of the House-Senate Transportation
Conference Committee trying to figure this thing out, and that`s trying get
this bill passed.

Senator Boxer, I know you`re a great progressive, a liberal, and proud
of it. This is a bill that seems to be of importance to everybody. What
do you make of it? What`s going on here? Why don`t we have that million
new jobs that your bill would create?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Let me give you the good news
first. The good news is we passed a bill out of the Senate with 74 votes.
It`s the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

And people don`t know who Jim Inhofe is, he is my Republican ranking
member on the committee. And he and I don`t agree on anything but this.
We believe that it is critical for a great nation to be able to move our
people and our products. It`s great for commerce. It`s critical for
safety, with 70,000 bridges in our nation being deficient.

So the good news is we teamed up, we passed the bill, we were excited
to send it over to the House. We thought they would pass it. We know
there are the votes to pass it. And, instead, they refused, sent us a very
bare-bones bill, and now we`re in conference.

And, Chris, you remember those days where the conference committees
try to iron out the differences. I am hopeful, I am prayerful that we are
going to reach a conclusion.

But it is an open question. Why this resistance? Since the `50s,
when Dwight Eisenhower came up with the idea of a national highway system,
Republicans and Democrats have set aside politics and passed this bill.
This is a first. It`s difficult.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let me take a look at this.

We have got an exclusive report here. The non-profit organization
Transportation for America has a new study showing -- we got it -- we got
it uniquely here -- that the bipartisan Senate transportation bill would
create and save a total of three million jobs.

BOXER: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: The Republican House didn`t pass the transportation bill
yet. But using the transportation allotment in the budget bill, they did
pass as a guide the Republican approach, but, unfortunately, the Republican
approach in the House would actually kill a half-a-million jobs.

And that is a problem, isn`t it, Congress -- Senator?

BOXER: Yes. It`s a problem.

However, you know, that bill that you talk about that they wrote never
got the votes to pass the House, so I think we have a chance. Now, I want
to tell you about what`s happening tomorrow, because I`m very excited about
it. You know how the Republicans are always talking about the job
creators?

Well, the job creators are having a demonstration right here in the
Capitol at the Reflecting Pool. You remember where that is.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BOXER: They`re going to have four huge cement trucks, a big flatbed
truck, and a sign that says pass a highway bill by June 30. So, I`m
excited that the job creators are getting involved in such a big way.

They have been terrific, labor and business. And they`re going to
come out again. And this is -- this is my ace in the hole. This is where
we think we can get the pressure on the Republicans to do this right thing.

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe a really good photo-op will do it. Thank you
so much, Senator Barbara Boxer.

BOXER: I hope so.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m a believer in that stuff, by the -- I call that clean
tricks. It`s a way to get a message across.

BOXER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for joining us.

Joining us right now is the secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood.

You were a congressman of great note. You worked with the leadership
when you were a staffer. You have got a long history of knowing how bills
-- bills become laws. Where does this stand right now? Are we going to
get a transportation bill that creates jobs and fixes highways and bridges
or not?

RAY LAHOOD, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: If it`s up to Senator
Boxer and Senator Inhofe, yes. I have my fingers crossed that her hard
work, her determination -- Jim Inhofe, one of the most conservative...

MATTHEWS: As there is.

LAHOOD: ... really, really a conservative fellow. he`s on the -- in
the House trying to persuade these conferees to offer up an opportunity to
pass the bill.

MATTHEWS: Well, right now, the speaker of the House, Boehner, is
pushing for a simple six-month extension, no real growth in the program, no
expansion of it. Why is he doing that, do you think, just kicking the can
down the road?

LAHOOD: I`m pulling for Boxer and Inhofe because thousands of people
will go to work.

If they pass the Senate bill, Chris, thousands of people. We still
have an opportunity here in the construction season to get people to work.
We know what we do at DOT with our partners, the governors and the state
DOTs, puts people to work.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LAHOOD: They need to pass the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

If they did that, thousands of people...

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s -- let`s talk about the need, not just the
need for jobs, but the needs to get this stuff done.

These aren`t make-work projects. Barbara Boxer, the senator, just
said 70,000 bridges out. They`re real bridges to nowhere if they fall down
while you`re on them.

LAHOOD: Well, look, there`s 300 bridges on the list now, Chris, that
are unsafe. We`ve got the list. They can start to fix those up
immediately as soon as Congress, the president signed the law.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you do what I did back what I did back when I
was with Tipp and caused all kinds of trouble for your old boss Bob Michel?
Go in the House floor and list those bridges and what district it`s
represented and who the congressperson is and make them defend a bridge
that`s dangerous!

LAHOOD: Well, look, if I`m still a member --

MATTHEWS: We just have the chief engineer call it and put --

LAHOOD: Everybody has it, a bridge in their district that`s not
safe. And people need to know where these are so their member of Congress
can vote for a transportation bill. We need a bill. We need to put
America to work.

MATTHEWS: Watch the show and call their congressperson, whatever
party they`re in and tell them to do this thing.

LAHOOD: Chris, there`s a pent up demand in this country for
infrastructure. America is one big pothole right now. We need a
transportation bill. We need the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

MATTHEWS: And you know what? We`ve got to remind people up --
you`re a Republican. Lincoln was a Republican when he built the
Transcontinental Railroad.

LAHOOD: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And Eisenhower was a Republican when he build that
national defense highway system across this country. The reason we can
ride on 90, like we`re on yesterday, and 80 and 75, and 95, and all those
interstate highways is because of Republican.

LAHOOD: Exactly. Yes, the 16th president, one of the greatest.

MATTHEWS: Eisenhower Republican right here, Ray LaHood.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, secretary of transportation.

LAHOOD: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next, what can Mitt Romney do to appear more human?
And by the way, what kind of an act has he been putting on?

We`re going to talk to an expert. We`ve got the great James Lipton
of "Inside the Actor Studio" and a new school in New York. He`s got some
ideas about what Romney`s been doing, the sort of masquerade he`s been
putting on, this performance art he does.

Well, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. We`re going to prove
it in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Dueling lawsuits over that voter purge in Florida. The
U.S. Department of Justice says it will sue Florida over its ongoing purge
of the voter rolls. Florida defied the DOJ order to stop the purge, which
the federal government says violates federal laws against suppressing
voters.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott is suing the federal
government and specifically, the Department of Homeland Security, accusing
the agency of denying the state access to a federal database about
immigrants.

This fight isn`t going away and could have a big impact on November`s
election down there.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Little history -- I was
born and raised here. I love this state. It seems right here. Trees are
the right height.

I like seeing the lakes. I love the lakes. Just something very
special here, the great lakes, but also the little inland lake that is dot
the parts of Michigan.

I love cars. I don`t know, I mean, I grew up totally in love with
cars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What`s the guy on frisky juice? What`s going on there?
Sometimes, Mitt Romney attempts to relate to an audience and they can be
quite painful -- those kinds of performances, like when he talks about the
trees being the right height in Michigan. He seems to have an authenticity
gap, a lot of people believe.

Well, last month, `New York" magazine asked James Lipton, the great
host of "Inside the Actors Studio" on Bravo, to assess the candidate`s
problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES LIPTON, INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: Since you`ve been criticized
by some for not coming across as authentic to your public. Maybe you can
sort of work on that today. Let`s start with your laugh.

ROMNEY: You know, I live for laughter.

(LAUGHTER)

LIPTON: It isn`t working. It`s inert. It just doesn`t come across
as genuine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a lot about Mitt Romney that doesn`t come
across as genuine, of course.

But here`s James Lipton, he`s going to join us in this interleague
play here from Bravo over to MSNBC as they`re doing in baseball this week.

Let me ask you, James, about the smile. You have some interesting
sort of dissection you can share us with. Share with us.

LIPTON: Well, the point is, if you watch him on television and you
freeze the frame, and then you put your hand over the lower part of his
face and just look at his eyes, you will discover something amazing, which
is that while he expects us to be amused, he isn`t a little bit amused
himself. Those eyes -- there`s no pleasure there. There`s no amusement.

He`s working. He`s too busy working to be amused and the result is
that the laughter comes across as what you heard, a kind of ha, ha, ha.
The kind of thing you see in comic strips and balloons.

MATTHEWS: Right.

LIPTON: That`s what comes across.

It isn`t, he`s not really laughing. People think that crying is the
hardest thing an actor can do. That`s not true. The most difficult thing
for an actor is to laugh and he has not mastered it. And if you haven`t
mastered it, stay away from it.

MATTHEWS: What`s he trying to do? I mean, is he trying to play the
old -- remember the old Nelson Rockefeller, we love him because even though
he was loaded with tons of money, he seemed to have a way to connect with
people. He said, hi you fellow, what`s happening? And he connected
naturally with people like Jack Kennedy could.

This guy seems to be pretending to be some regular, well-meant type
who really likes hanging out with regular people and he clearly would
prefer not to be there, it seems.

LIPTON: He`s very self-conscious and uncomfortable with them. He
won`t even eat their poor little cupcakes.

Well, it`s true. Remember what he said when he was in the debates
and he said I can`t have these illegal immigrants on my lawn. I`m running
for office for Pete`s sake. What is he saying? He`s saying to us that
there are two Mitt Romneys.

One who apparently wouldn`t mind a few illegals on his lawn if he
weren`t running for office, and there`s the other who`s very troubled by it
because he`s presenting himself as a persona, persona as in dramatic
person, you know, he`s acting. He`s performing. He`s showing us somebody
whom he is not.

Unfortunately, I`m not talking about his politics, but he doesn`t
play that part very well.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at his struggle to relate to every
day people can be painful as you noted and I agree, like when he joked
about being unemployed with a group of people who actually were out of
work. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Well, I should also tell my story. I`m also unemployed.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you on LinkedIn?

ROMNEY: Yes, actually. And I`m networking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot better than what we`ve done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, back in 2008, not 100 years ago, he ride to relate
to a group of teenagers. How did he do it? By singing to the lyrics to
what he thought was a very hip song. "Who Let the Dogs Out," which is
apparently quite a build old by then, that song. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I`m struck by the times he seems like one of
those guys in a war movie from the Second World War who is a spy and
occasionally whether the Americans and Germans and Germans playing
Americans, when they let something slip. You know, they let their real way
of talking. When he`ll say things like, oh, I read that in "the New York
Times" piece on the aircraft.

LIPTON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Or, you know, I don`t know anybody that talks like that,
it`s conehead talking. Not earthly.

LIPTON: I`m a pilot. I`m up there in front usually flying -- I fly
as an airplane. Get people who -- who own their planes, it is an aircraft.
I don`t know.

Look, he has said over and over again, there`s nothing wrong with
being rich. Let`s give him that. Let`s stipulate as the lawyers like to
say that there is nothing wrong with being rich.

But there is something wrong with pretending that somehow you are not
or you are a man of the people when manifestly you are not.

I worked for Ronald Reagan for a while. And -- he was -- he wasn`t
any more a common man than Romney is. But he never pretended to be
anything other than what he was. What you saw is what you got. What you
got is what you saw.

And as a result, there was nice word made for him, Reaganesque.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think Reagan knew he was lucky.

LIPTON: Sure.

MATTHEWS: A regular guy that made it. He knew the difference.

LIPTON: Exactly. Look, FDR was called what, a traitor to his class.
He was very rich. But did he relate? He certainly did. He reverberates
to this day.

And some of what he left his legacy still being attacked and rolled
back.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the president now, to be somewhat fair
here. The president, you know, I`ve been with him and you`ve been with
him. I mean, I`m always impressed by his absolute cool, I mean, his --
somewhat detached. I wouldn`t say the warmest person, but very detached,
and very cool and confident that he`s who he is. That`s what I think.

LIPTON: Yes. Look, let`s go back a year to the white heat of the
White House press conference. The -- the press -- what`s it called? The
big gala evening.

MATTHEWS: Sure, the correspondents dinner.

LIPTON: The correspondents dinner. That`s it.

Now -- that`s a tough -- that`s a tough audience, tough venue. A
year ago, he killed, as we say in show business, killed literally. He
killed that audience. He did a great job with them.

At the same time, he was the only person in that room that he was
killing Osama bin Laden. Now that is cool. That is really, really cool.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Cinematic way, like Robert de Niro in that Chicago
movie. I`m not going to go into the details. But it`s the same kind of
thing. "The Untouchables," where he acts, somebody getting killed, Jimmy
the cop played by Sean Connery. At the same time, he`s watching an opera
and crying about the clown, Pagliacci.

LIPTON: Precisely. The thing is that he -- what he`s got to learn
to do somehow is to stop trying to pretend what he is and what he`s not.
He can`t do it. He doesn`t have those skills.

That`s OK. He`s not required to have them. But I think he should go
with what he`s got and hope for the best.

MATTHEWS: You might be telling him to walk the plank by telling him
to be himself.

Anyway, thank you for the good effort. We always like to say let
Romney be Romney. Well, you`ve just said it. Maybe he will. But I don`t
think so.

LIPTON: For better or worse, let Romney be Romney. He hasn`t --
look, it isn`t that it is his best option. As I say in my article in
NewYorkMagazine.com, it`s his only option. He can`t -- he`s not a good
actor. Reagan was a very good actor.

MATTHEWS: James Lipton, the best in the world, thank you so much,
host of "Inside the Actors Studio."

When we return, let me finish with Jeb Bush`s call to arms against a
Republican Party that`s lurched far to the right. Too far for him.

You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a powerful indictment of
today`s Republican Party by Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor is a conviction politician, true
conservative. I followed him over the years and seen his opposition to
affirmative action. His support for school vouchers. He takes education
seriously, doesn`t pretend to have views on every subject under the sun.

He speaks when he knows what he`s talking about, and I respect that
without always agreeing with him.

Jeb said the Republican Party has gotten so rigid that it lost its
bearings. It`s so cranky and orthodox that he won`t make deals, that its
people come to Washington to say no -- that and only that. They don`t want
to negotiate. They don`t want to find common ground.

All they want to do is spend their time looking around, making sure
their own troops stay in line, no deals, no breaking from the pack. Just
sit there and wait out the Democrats, hoping they`ll win, the
conservatives, election after election until the Tea Party types can take
over and rule the country.

Well, good example -- the former Florida governor says he would take
that 10 for one deal that all the Republican presidential candidates turn
down. If he could get the Democrats to cut the programs 10 times the level
of tax increase, he`d agree to the tax increase.

Why would he? Because he has a brain. He knows the only way
Democrats will go along with historic spending cut is if they get a raise
in revenue, especially from the upper income people. He knows that without
a deal, there`s no way there will be a cutting government spending. The
long-term debt would just keep on growing and country will just continue to
worry about it as it should.

It is not just the moderates coming to the belief the Republican
Party is going too far right. It`s the mainstream conservatives. Mitt
Romney would be saying the same thing as Jeb about the far right,
especially the tax paying Grover Norquist if he were not so beholden to
them to win this election.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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