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updated 6/19/2012 4:39:06 PM ET 2012-06-19T20:39:06

Guests: Diane Dimond, Kasie Hunt

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Going on offense.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

"Let Me Start" tonight with Barack Obama`s forward pass. I`m talking
about his decision to get out front on the immigration issue, to say that
people who are brought to this country under the age of 16 shouldn`t be
punished. They shouldn`t be chased and grabbed by the INS. From now on,
even if they don`t have legal status, they will be left alone to live and
work here.

It`s fascinating to see the reaction from the right, isn`t it? Romney
and those he wants to represent went silent on this. He whined a bit about
"Democrat Congresses" not doing this before. "Democrat," when used as an
adjective, is what Republicans say when they`re frustrated -- "Democrat
Congresses."

But tonight, this Monday after the weekend, the people raring to grab
the White House remain tongue-tied. The president proved again he knows
how to use his office. If being the incumbent forces him to play defense,
it doesn`t stop him from playing offense.

Joining me right now are two of the top political thinkers in the
country, John Heilemann of "New York" magazine and David Corn of "Mother
Jones." Both are distinguished authors, David more recently with his
trenchant musings in "Showdown."

Let me -- let`s take a look at the latest commentary. What I want to
look at here tonight is Mitt Romney and how he started this campaign. He
was even further to the right on immigration than the rest of the far right
wing in this campaign. He tangled with Newt Gingrich, for example, back in
January in a debate. Let`s listen to how he positioned himself on the far
right, the most anti-immigration policy. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN, MODERATOR: Is he still the most anti-immigrant
candidate?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I
think of the four of us, yes.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Governor.

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That -- that`s
simply unexcusable. That`s inexcusable.

GINGRICH: Well, you tell me what language you would use to describe
somebody who thinks that deporting a grandmother or a grandfather from
their family -- just tell me the language. I`m perfectly happy for you to
explain what language you`d use.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, I think I described following the law as it
exists in this country, which to say I`m not going around and rounding
people up and deporting them. What I said was people who come here legally
get a work permit. People who do not come here legally do not get a work
permit. Those who don`t get work will tend, over time, to self-deport.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "Self-deport." Romney pointed his stick (ph) to the right
of Rick Perry, as well. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRES. CANDIDATE: In the state of Texas, if
you`ve been in the state of Texas for three years, if you`re working
towards your college degree and if you are working and pursuing citizenship
in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there.

ROMNEY: If they came for a hand-out, they`d be voting for Democrats.

With regards to illegal immigration, of course we`d build a fence.
And of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who`ve come
here illegally!

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: That only attracts people to continue to come here and take
advantage of America`s great beneficence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, in the January 16th GOP debate, Mitt Romney
laid out his hard line on immigration. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think we have to follow the law and insist those that have
come here illegally ultimately return home, apply, get in line with
everyone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it. I want to start with David Corn
on this. David, it seems to me he`s laid out pretty simply, the law will
be enforced. It will be enforced with a terror (ph), if not -- if it
hasn`t been before. In other words, you go home where you came from, where
your parents brought you here from. You go home and you wait in some line
that`s there waiting for you to join, and you start all over again in life.
And that`s the deal I`m offering you people here who came here without
papers.

That`s the Romney line. How`s it going to stack up against Obama,
who`s now offered to not, basically, go after anybody under 30 who came
here under 16?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What Romney has
done is put himself into a pair of cement shoes. He has taken the most
extreme position you have -- you know, I`m not saying it`s an unprincipled
position, it`s a logical, coherent, very, very severely conservative
position, which is, We`re not going to do anything about the 12 million
people here who are undocumented or their kids or anything like that.
Everyone has to go home, and that`s it, end of story.

You know, it`s a consistent position. It just doesn`t match reality,
doesn`t match policy reality because it can`t work as a policy, and really
doesn`t match political reality, which is why he`s been so tongue-tied ever
since the president took the offensive on this on Friday.

MATTHEWS: How is this any different than the big boat argument of
people when it came to African-Americans after the Civil War, decided, Put
them on a boat and send them back where they came from? You know, he says
it in polite language, but that`s what Romney`s been saying, Get home where
you came from, start all over again.

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
mean, it -- he is right when he says it was -- has been the law of the
land. And -- and you know, it`s -- it`s not...

MATTHEWS: But everybody knows...

HEILEMANN: It`s not...

MATTHEWS: ... that there`ll be an accommodation at some point.

HEILEMANN: Well, everyone thinks and hopes that there will be, and I
-- I think what the president`s done is the right thing to do in terms of
beginning to take a step towards a humane and sensible immigration policy.

But the political realities are much more stark, I think, than the
policy -- the policy thing is going to be either worked out on a bipartisan
basis in Obama`s second term or in a Romney administration, one or the
other, because there`s got to be bipartisan support for whatever kind of a
comprehensive plan gets done.

Romney`s problem is that this puts him on the wrong side of maybe the
most important single demographic group in the electorate right now, a
group where Republicans are in serious long-term trouble, and Romney has
put himself in short-term trouble because he`s made himself terminally
unpopular with Latino voters. And if he doesn`t get at least 36, 37, 38,
really probably more like 40 percent...

MATTHEWS: OK...

HEILEMANN: ... he probably can`t win the election.

MATTHEWS: Let`s bring it up to today. Yesterday on "Face the Nation"
with Bob Schieffer, Bob Schieffer asked him the question. Here`s his
answer. He had no response, apparently, to repeated attempts by Mr.
Schieffer to try to get an answer on what he thought about President
Obama`s executive order of Friday, which did what I said, which allows
people under age 30 who came or under age 16 to basically stay. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Would you repeal this order
if you became president?

ROMNEY: Well, let`s step back and look at the issue. With regards to
these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their
own, there needs to be a long-term solution.

SCHIEFFER: But would you repeal this?

ROMNEY: Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue
of my putting in place a long-term solution.

SCHIEFFER: Would you leave this in place while you worked out a long-
term solution, or would you just repeal it?

ROMNEY: We`ll look at that. We`ll look at that setting (ph) as we --
as we reach that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s almost as good as not doing the Sunday shows.
I mean, we wondered why he wouldn`t do the Sunday shows. He did show up --
like Woody Allen, he showed up, but he didn`t answer the questions. And we
got a whole bunch of them later in the show he didn`t answer the -- why did
he show up on a Sunday television show if he didn`t intend to answer the
most obvious question, What do you think about what happened Friday?

HEILEMANN: That`s a very good...

MATTHEWS: It`s on Sunday. What do you think happened Friday?

HEILEMANN: That`s a very good question, Chris. And look, I think he
made the agreement to go be on the show before he knew that Barack Obama
was going to make this move on Friday.

MATTHEWS: It might be (INAUDIBLE)

HEILEMANN: Well, before he knew that there was going to be -- this is
a pretty dramatic thing that Obama did on Friday, not something that the
Romney campaign anticipated him doing.

I`m not making excuses for Romney here. He should have an answer to
this. But I think, you know, it points to the thing I was talking about
before, which is that he does not -- what he`s trying to somehow Etch-a-
Sketch his way out of the position that he took in the primary, which is he
was against the Dream Act. He`s in this place that`s as far -- as Newt
Gingrich said, further to the right than any other Republican candidate.

But he can`t be there and win the election, so now he`s trying in some
way to get a holding pattern going here so he can eventually start to try
to slide away from his own position...

MATTHEWS: OK, well...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It seems like this is one area where Romney, David Corn,
has stuck himself so far to the right. We`ve often asked, How far can you
Etch-a-Sketch your way after a primary fight?

If you spend the whole primary fight saying, I`m going to be the
toughest person on Hispanic people here who don`t have papers, I`m going to
be to the right of Newt, to the right of Perry, the right of Santorum, the
right of anybody who runs here, Ron Perry -- Ron Paul especially -- I`m so
far right, you can`t get to my right.

And then he says, Oh, by the way, I`m doing an about-face. I`d like
to get some Hispanic votes. Can he get away with it?

CORN: This is the perfect encapsulation of the Romney campaign. He
went far right -- and you played the clip, Chris, when he said there is
only one solution here, people go back to where they came from, no matter
what, and then we deal with it then.

Then when Bob Schieffer asked him the same question three, four times,
not only does he not have an answer to it, he says, Well, I`m going to do a
long-term solution. What do you mean? He already gave us his solution.
His solution was to send them back, self-deport, whatever you call it.

So he has a solution, he just can`t talk about it now. And the fact
that he knew on Friday that his was happening, he did the interview, I
think, on Saturday, and couldn`t answer the question -- it`s his campaign
that is running ads that say, On day one, I`m going to do this, I`m going
to do that, I`m going to do this, I`m going to do this on day one. What`s
he going to do day one about this directive?

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

CORN: Apparently, he doesn`t know and he doesn`t have a clue.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, the people who come from Hispanic background, I
don`t know how many generations have been in this country, a lot of people
-- they`re going to have to think dearly about this guy`s emotional state,
why he was so comfortable taking that anti-immigrant position.

By the way, on the issue -- I usually argue with neoconservatives, but
on one issue, they`re pretty good. That`s on immigration. Here`s Bill
Kristol of the neoconservative "Weekly Standard" praising President Obama`s
executive order of Friday. He said Romney`s got trouble here. Let`s
listen to Bill Kristol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD," FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I think it`s a
sensible policy. I think it would be much better if that were the law of
the land. And I think the president`s pushing the edges of the limits of
prosecutorial discretion in saying, We`re not going to enforce a law, in
order to leave these people in the country. But I think it`s the right
thing to do, actually.

I think this is a big problem for Romney, and he needs to take the
lead on this, in my view, embrace Marco Rubio`s Dream Act (INAUDIBLE) he
wants, say, Let`s pass this in Congress over the next two months. This is
what I`m for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This must scare him, David Corn, to have a guy as far right
as Bill Kristol, who is pretty good, I guess, on immigration issues, to
say, You`re so far out, you`re in trouble here.

CORN: Well, also, I`m waiting for the business community. Remember,
the business community doesn`t take this hard line on immigration that
Romney took to get the Tea Partiers on his side.

MATTHEWS: Right. I know that.

CORN: So there`s a split within the Republican Party here. But I
think Bill is -- is sort of behind the times here because there`s no way at
this point in time that Romney can take the lead on this. You know, he`s
already said that he`s not that interested -- or he`s indicated he`s not
that interested in the Marco Rubio approach. So if he embraces it, we have
yet -- we`ll have yet another flip-flop on Romney.

I think he`s shot himself in the foot and he can kiss a lot of the
Latino vote good-bye. I don`t know what he`s going to do to get it back.

MATTHEWS: You know, John, I also wondered how gay Americans who are
up to date on politics would take a Republican position when it`s so
clearly -- that party`s identified itself as anti-gay rights. And here you
have another pretty direct statement by Romney in the campaign, I`m not on
your side on immigration issues.

HEILEMANN: Well, there are...

MATTHEWS: Get it?

HEILEMANN: You know, to answer your -- the question you asked David I
think is -- (INAUDIBLE) Bill Kristol -- there`s a bright line in the
Republican Party between those people who recognize demographic reality and
those who don`t. He was sitting on that interview set on Fox with Karl
Rove, another guy who recognized that Republicans had to be right with
Hispanics -- George W. Bush.

Those guys -- this is not neocon versus paleocon, this is, We
recognize demographic reality, and those who don`t. As for Latinos, look,
there is -- if you go around, do focus groups in the Southwest, there are
older Hispanics who resent illegal immigrants as much some...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: ... as some white Americans do. So if...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What is the reaction to people that don`t like them,
though? It`s one thing to have a conservative view on the law. What do
you do when you hear there`s people in politics who just don`t like you
because you`re Mexican-American?

HEILEMANN: Well, I think -- look, I think those people -- I mean,
it`s very hard to get someone to vote for you if they...

MATTHEWS: If you hate them.

HEILEMANN: ... if you think that -- if you believe -- as a voter, if
you believe that the politician hates you...

CORN: And this is...

HEILEMANN: ... as an ethnic group. But let`s be clear. There is in
the Hispanic community -- there`s not a uniform view...

MATTHEWS: I understand that.

HEILEMANN: ... about what to do about illegal immigration. And there
are...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, David.

CORN: But on this particular issue, when we`re talking about kids who
have been brought here, you know, through no fault of their own -- we`re
not talking about people who snuck in and been here 20 years who are
adults. I mean, this is about as sympathetic a group as you can get,
immigration reform, and for Romney to be behind on this -- it`s a big gap
that he`s not going to be able to close, even if he takes Bill Kristol`s
advice.

MATTHEWS: You know, I think he made a calculated decision to win the
nomination and then fight from there on, do whatever it took to get the
nomination, go as far right on every single issue -- taxes, foreign policy,
Iran, Mexican-Americans coming here, every issue, if you could get to the
right, you can go as far right as you could, calculated, then you could do
some pirouettes -- what do they call them, Etch-a-Scratches (SIC) or Etch-
a-Sketches later in the campaign. You can make some adjustments, and then
people would forgive you.

I think they`re not going to forgive this character. Anyway, thank
you, John Heilemann. Thank you, David Corn.

Coming up, "Dirty, Angry Money" again. We know who they are, but what
do they want? Let`s go inside the Koch brothers` multi-million-dollar
political machine. They`ve got their own political party now, it seems.

And Jerry Sandusky. The trial continues. The defense has begun its
case, such as it is. Can you imagine what this defense is going to be?
Sandusky himself -- big question. Will he take the stand and confront
these incredibly awful charges?

Plus, blind ambition. Mitt Romney wants to be president, but why
can`t he say what he`d do if he is president? He once again ducked and
dodged with Bob Schieffer this Sunday. He keeps doing it. He shows up,
but he doesn`t answer the questions.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with what makes the idea of a Romney
presidency so dangerous.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Obama has tapped John Kerry to play the role of
Mitt Romney in the mock debate rehearsal. Wow! Like Romney, he carries
(ph) from Massachusetts and he has firsthand knowledge of the Romney record
up there in the Bay State. And of course, Kerry`s no stranger to the
presidential debates, having been the Democratic nominee for president back
in `04.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. If you need a reminder
about the dangers of unlimited money flowing into our political system,
look no further than the billionaire Koch brothers. They`ve set their
sights on helping conservatives in the 2012 election, and they`re doing
that with a warchest that resembles an entire political party. Their plan
calls for spending about $400 million this year, including money from their
own pockets, as well as from other wealthy friends.

Politico reports their operations have become increasingly
sophisticated, including on-the-ground county-by-county efforts in key
states. Well, this weekend, they`re holding what amounts to a political
convention unto themselves in San Diego, where wealthy donors, their
friends, are expected to hand over tens of millions of dollars. Much of
that money will be spent without ever having to disclose who gave it.
That`s key here, and that is not good for any democracy.

Ken Vogel is chief investigative reporter for Politico and Eugene
Robinson`s a columnist for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political
analyst.

I want Ken to go through this. Tell us about the Koch brothers.
Pretend people have never heard of these two brothers. Who are they? How
much loot do they have to spend? What are their interests?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO.COM: Well, the Koch brothers have a vast
conglomerate, manufacturing conglomerate, really. It`s the second biggest
private company in the United States. It`s involved in everything from oil
refining to chemicals to household products. They own Georgia Pacific,
which makes Brawny paper towels.

And for years, they`ve been involved in conservative politics as some
of the preeminent funders of it. However, in recent years, they have both
shifted their ideology, which used to be a very sort of pure form of
libertarianism, to a more pragmatic type of conservative, even Republican
approach to politics.

And they have also become increasingly involved, giving more money,
consolidating more donors around them through this network that they`re
convening in San Diego, and also taking the money that they give and that
these donors give and giving it to a wider range of groups.

So their tentacles truly reach very far into the conservative movement
and the Republican -- the sort of extra-party infrastructure of the
Republican Party, to the point where it`s arguable that they are maybe the
most powerful force on the right in politics today.

MATTHEWS: Well, Gene, you know, you`ve been studying politics a long
time. This seems like a new organism here, something so big, a leviathan,
if you will, in the old days, where they can reach out anywhere in the
country, spending -- well, 400 million bucks is a lot of money. And
apparently, they don`t care about the issues as long as they`re Republican.
They`re pro-NRA, pro-gun rights, pro-right to life. It isn`t just oil and
gas, which they ought to get a tax deduction for, they`re pushing all this
money out there. It`s everything that`s Republican.

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
what`s different -- to my view, at least, Chris, what`s different is that -
- number one, the Koch brothers are billionaires, they`re not just
millionaires. They`ve got virtually unlimited funds.

And second, it`s all in service of this -- of a sort of radical
libertarian ideology, and they`ve kind of added these traditional
Republican causes like the NRA like kind of bells and whistles. But the
central thrust is really quite radical in terms of -- of -- of where the
political center has been in this country for a long time.

MATTHEWS: What, did they read "The Fountainhead," "Atlas Shrugged"?
What moved them?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You go back.

Ken, did they just -- like, a lot of us read those books. We weren`t
exactly moved politically by them.

ROBINSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They were good -- good writing, of course.

But how did these guys get to be so fanatical, they`re dumping a half-
billion dollars in this campaign?

ROBINSON: Well...

VOGEL: Well...

MATTHEWS: A half-billion in one campaign.

VOGEL: I mean, that`s exactly right, Chris. They were influenced by
the classic libertarian philosophers.

And we should say that this makes them -- has in the past made them
sort of difficult to pin down on the traditional partisan spectrum. They
opposed the war in Iraq. They`re sort of agnostic on or perhaps even
slightly in favor, depending on who you talk about, who you talk to, on gay
rights.

They have given money to organizations that support drug
decriminalization, if not legalization. And it`s only in recent years
where they had tacked further to the right and become more of a pragmatic
Republican machine. Even still, though, there is some question among
traditional Republican operatives, folks in the establishment who I talk to
as to -- to what extent they are loyal party soldiers and to what extent
they are going to go and punish Republicans or Democrats, Republicans as
well, from the right for not adhering to their orthodoxy, their sort of
traditional libertarian orthodoxy.

MATTHEWS: So they`re their own political party.

Look here, Republicans used to defend their call for unlimited
campaign donations by balancing it for calls for full disclosure. They
would say, OK, unlimited money, but we will tell you who we are, who`s
given the money. Well, that`s changed.

As "The Washington Post"`s Fred Hiatt reported today -- quote -- "Now
that they have unlimited donations or something pretty close, they don`t
want unlimited disclosure after all. They want unlimited contributions in
secret."

And why is that? Well, Congress to Hiatt in his great column today,
"The playing field has tilted toward Republicans and they`re in no hurry to
tilt it back. Groups can take million dollar donations, or $10 million
donations, use them in political ads and never disclose the donors."

I don`t know what this is like. I was going to say it was like one of
those Latin American countries you hear about like the 15 families that run
the country, but at least you knew who those families were, Eugene.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: These people don`t want any -- the Koch brothers don`t want
anybody to even talk -- they don`t like us talking about them right now. I
know they don`t. They don`t like us talking about them.

ROBINSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

ROBINSON: They want to be able to promise other -- other big donors
that they bring in that, oh, don`t worry, nobody will know and perhaps say
boycott your products, the products that your company makes if you`re
giving to radical causes that they don`t believe in.

But the real impact of this in this election cycle -- we`re talking
about nearly $400 million and on the presidential level, the Obama
campaign`s going to have enough money, right?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: They`re going to have enough money to compete, and -- but
at lower levels, this money, undisclosed, unlimited, can be decisive in
races...

MATTHEWS: You`re right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Talk about that. You could pick say 20 or 30 congressional
races, dump the last weekend money in, where there`s nobody really spending
any money, and what?

ROBINSON: Yes, yes, no, absolutely. You can move the needle in
exactly that manner and you can do it without anybody knowing who you are
and you can do it to the tune of however much you want basically.

It sounds like we`re making this up. This does not sound like our
country.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s frightening.

ROBINSON: But this is the way things work.

MATTHEWS: It`s just amazing. You`re running for Congress for
reelection. And all of a sudden somebody starts dumping this money out of
nowhere, Ken, out of nowhere. All of a sudden, ads are running over all
about what a stinky poo you are.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You don`t even know who is saying it about you. You have
never heard these charges before and people are by the thousands saying I
don`t know if I know this guy anymore. There must be something to it.
When there`s smoke, there`s fire. These ads work, right, Ken?

VOGEL: They do work and it`s also -- it`s kind of shifted the
incentive structure in politics, whereas if you were starting a campaign, a
congressional campaign even five, 10 years ago, you would go out and you
would schmooze the business leaders in the community or you would seek to
build grassroots fund-raising base.

Now, we`re just talking about the tactics for fund-raising.

MATTHEWS: Sure.

VOGEL: And now all you really need is that one big sugar daddy and
that person is sufficient to be able to give money through an outside group
that is technically coordinating not with your campaign, but has its best
interests at heart and could completely tilt the race, shift the dynamic.

And that person, as long as you maintain them as your sort of patron,
can continue to get you elected for years and years without you having to
do the traditional things that we think of as part of retail policies.

MATTHEWS: It`s sure nice to have Daddy Warbucks showing up once in a
way if you`re Little Orphan Annie.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Ken Vogel, for the horror story tonight.

And thank you, Gene Robinson, for the wisdom.

Up next: Which Republican presidential candidate was the inspiration
behind this TV vampire? Wow. Check out the "Sideshow," next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Time for the "Sideshow." The first lady stopped by "Live With Kelly"
today. The conversation quickly turned to parenting in the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: There`s definitely the times where you`re
giving that sort of get over here, you know. You just don`t see it on
camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, I have to ask you this.

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA: You get that mother voice like, come sit down.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t do the one where you...

(CROSSTALK)

M. OBAMA: Or when we do, when -- when...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

M. OBAMA: When -- what -- what I`m trying to teach them is like when
you`re at a performance, you know -- you know how kids don`t have a poker
face? And Malia and Sasha are watching dancers and they`re performing and
here`s Malia and Sasha.

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA: And I`m leaning over like, aren`t you having fun? They`re
like, yes, this is great.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, later in the hour, the first lady surpassed,
actually surprised some team champions of double Dutch jump-roping with a
performance of her own. Let`s watch her go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Campaigning these days takes many forms.

And speaking of the first family, we`re getting new details about that
celebrity-packed New York fund-raiser. It was hosted by "Vogue" editor
Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker, but according to The Daily Beast, it
was HARDBALL`s new friend, Andy Cohen who stole the show. Cohen got the
president to play a version of the bit he does on his show. It`s called
"Plead the Fifth."

In it, Cohen asks his guest three questions, only one of which they`re
able to plead the Fifth on. The question the president refused to answer,
which outfit does Michelle Obama wear that he doesn`t like?

Well, one guest at the fund-raiser wanted the answer straight, and
that was the first lady herself. "I want to know what it is," she said.

Well, the president`s answer: "No way. I`m not crazy."

Smart guy.

Anyway, lastly, how`s this for an artistic homage? When Alan Ball,
the creator of HBO`s show "True Blood" wanted some inspiration for the
powerful leader of the vampires, where did he turn? Apparently to
Republican Rick Santorum. The legendary TV producer told "The Wrap" --
quote -- "For me, the jumping-off point was watching the Republican
primaries, watching Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and asking, what would
it be like to have a theocracy in America, which is way more terrifying
than any fictional monster could ever be?"

Well, take a look at the Rick Santorum-inspired villain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TRUE BLOOD")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I am the authority.

Can we look beyond ourselves and the bloodlust that has historically
defined us to something bigger than all of us and live as equals?

This administration is dedicated now more than ever to the path of
mainstreaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, one thing`s clear. The vampire version of Rick
Santorum is definitely better-dressed. Sure outdoes that sweater vest deal
he always wore.

Anyway, up next, the defense in the Jerry Sandusky trial has begun
making its case, such as it is. But will Sandusky get up there on the
stand and face these charges? We will see.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Mandy Drury with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Well, the Dow today sheds 25 points. The S&P ends up by two and the
Nasdaq gaining 22 points. Well, Facebook shares rose nearly 5 percent to
finish above $31 a share. That stock has been slowly climbing back towards
its $38-a-share offering price. Elsewhere, home builder sentiment rose in
June to its highest level in five years. However, the confidence index is
still far below where it was five years ago. And an analyst upgrade sent
shares of Groupon soaring nearly 11 percent.

And that`s it from CNBC for now. We`re first in business worldwide --
it`s over to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After emotional testimony this morning from a mother of an alleged
victim of Jerry Sandusky, the prosecution rested its case against the
former Penn State coach. And the defense began calling witnesses to speak
to Sandusky`s reputation in the Penn State community.

Before court recessed today, the judge told jurors they could begin
deliberating as early as Thursday on the 51 charges of sexual abuse
Sandusky faces, all of which he denies.

NBC`s Michael Isikoff is covering this case for us up in Bellefonte,
Pennsylvania.

Welcome.

Give us a recap of the case. What`s it stand like right now, Michael?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first -- yes, first, Chris,
the prosecution rested with that very powerful final witness, the mother of
one of the victims, victim number nine.

She was the first mother in this case to testify, only mother to
testify and she breaks down in tears as she described how she continued to
allow her son to go to Sandusky`s home over a several-year period, despite
the time -- despite the fact that he was complaining at times, that he grew
ill, that he grew withdrawn, anxious. She encouraged him to go.

And at one point, prosecutor Joe McGettigan asked her, do you feel
responsible? And she covers her hands, weeps and says, yes, I do, a very
powerful moment in the courtroom. Prosecution rested. The defense then
began calling a string of character witnesses, a couple of former Penn
State assistant coaches, who talked about what a great reputation Jerry
Sandusky had, how great he was with kids, how they too showered with young
boys in locker rooms as coaches and saw nothing wrong with it.

None of the testimony spoke directly to the specific allegations of
abuse.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ISIKOFF: And it`s hard to see how much ground Sandusky`s lawyers
gained today.

MATTHEWS: Well, this morning, Michael on "The Today Show," you
reported that the prosecution asked NBC, our network, on Friday to re-
authenticate the full unedited transcript of Bob Costas` interview with
Jerry Sandusky on "Rock Center," a request NBC agreed to because it had
already been published.

Well, that transcript includes this previously unaired portion which
legal analysts tell NBC could be used by the prosecution during rebuttal or
during cross-examination if Jerry Sandusky takes the stand in his own
defense. Let`s watch this really powerful bit of news-making here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS: So it`s entirely possible that you could have
helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable while horribly
taking advantage of young boy B, C, D and E? Isn`t that possible?

JERRY SANDUSKY, DEFENDANT: Well, you might think that, I don`t know,
in terms of my relationship with so many, many young people.

I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward,
many more young people who would come forward and say that my methods and
what I had done for them made a very positive impact on their life. And I
didn`t go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I
have helped.

There are many that I didn`t have -- I hardly had any contact with who
I have helped in many, many ways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Mike, I have never heard of a guy so self-
indicting as to say, "I didn`t go around seeking out every young person of
sexual needs that I have helped."

In other -- well, we can make our own judgment of what that admission
sounds like.

ISIKOFF: Right. Exactly.

And that exactly is the problem with the defense so far. Bringing out
testimony about what great work Jerry Sandusky did through the Second Mile
doesn`t do anything to disprove the specific allegations of abuse by the
witnesses who did testify in this case.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ISIKOFF: And, you know, that -- that statement pretty much
encapsulates the problem that the Sandusky defense has.

And also, remember, if Sandusky does take the stand -- and we should
know that tomorrow -- they`re going to wrap up their case by Wednesday noon
-- if he`s going to take the stand, it`s got to be tomorrow -- that can be
played. He can be cross-examined on that exchange alone and could have
some real problems answering them.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Well, I think it says a lot about how forthcoming he was trying to be
with -- with Bob Costas. What a strange situation, to be so honest in such
an unaffected way as to admit the guilt so clearly.

Anyway, thank you, Michael Isikoff. Great reporting.

With me now is Diane Dimond, an old friend of mine who is covering
this case for "The Daily Beast" and "Newsweek".

Diane, you`ve been very good at capturing what I think most people,
the darkly fascinated about this case. The horror of it, the complete
nature of the testimony presented so far.

DIANE DIMOND, THE DAILY BEAST: You know, just listening to my friend
here. And it`s so important for people to remember that pedophiles, I`m
not saying Jerry Sandusky is one, but pedophiles are among the charming,
personable, engaging, popular people around. They have to be because they
must get through the wall of parents to get to the children.

So, Michael hit the nail right on the head. The defense can bring in
all the people they want. They had six witnesses here today to say you
know, Jerry`s a great guy. He did a lot for this charity, but that doesn`t
mean he didn`t do what the prosecution is alleging he did. We heard fo9m
eight witnesses, you know, who said, it happened to me. Two other children
were eyewitnessed by a janitor and by Michael McQueary.

So, it is a huge mountain for this defense to try to climb.

MATTHEWS: If they put Jerry Sandusky on the stand facing these
charges, how does he deal with what we just showed in the interview he did
with Bob Costas, where he basically said, no, I didn`t mess with all these
kids.

I mean, I`m paraphrasing it pretty strongly, pretty much what he
said. He said, "I didn`t go around seeking out every young person for
sexual needs that I`ve helped."

DIMOND: Yes, just 10-year-old boys I guess is what he`s saying.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DIMOND: I don`t know what he`s saying.

MATTHEWS: Well, he said it for himself, you don`t have to interpret
it.

DIMOND: Yes.

I`m of the mind that Jerry Sandusky is never, ever, ever going to
take the stand and I`ll bet you Dottie Sandusky doesn`t either. When the
judge announced late today, Chris, that both the prosecution and defense
were going to be all wrapped up by Wednesday, I thought to myself, well,
that means the Sanduskys aren`t going to testify because if they did, if
Jerry Sandusky were to testify here, the testimony would go on for days and
days. No prosecutor in their right mind would agree to end on Wednesday
with Jerry Sandusky possibly coming to the stand.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let`s talk about power. This show on HARDBALL, as
you know, is about politics and power. We`ve had the Catholic Church
involved in some of these horror stories and we`ve had this Penn State,
which is almost like a religious institution, football, up there at Penn
State.

People -- they have dealt with this guy. Was his charm, his
position? What protected him from all the suspicions that came around, all
those people that made accusations over the years? He was always able to
doff them off, to move on to hold his position.

DIMOND: You know, you hit the nail right on the head there. It is
all about power. It is people in authority that get away with the things
that are being alleged here. Again, I`m not trying to indict Jerry
Sandusky yet.

I mean, it`s up to the jury to decide whether he`s guilty, but you
know, there were former coaches from Penn State that testified here today
that he was a great guy. One of them, Mr. Brooks said he has an exemplary
character. He`s topnotch.

We heard a wrestling coach of the one of the accusers come in and
say, you know, I saw something kind of strange there, but he was with Jerry
Sandusky, quote, "He`s a saint".

So, you know, it`s that specter of power and now the lack of power
that Jerry Sandusky has. You know, I went over to the bar today to ask
about one of the witnesses and Jerry Sandusky started talking to me.

I was so stunned. I went to ask the attorney about a one witness in
a wheelchair --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DIMOND: -- an Army veteran and I wanted to know was he wounded in
battle. And the assistant attorney said, I don`t know, Jerry, what`s the
story? Sandusky came over to me and just started talking. Oh, his leg got
blown off, and then he came home and he was in a motorcycle accident, now
he`s paralyzed, it`s terrible.

I thought to myself, this guy does not know when to not talk, or
people not to talk to. And so, if he does take the stand, we`re back to
that question -- I just don`t see any pluses for the defense.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Thank you, great reporting there, Diane
Dimond.

Up next: blind ambition. All Mitt Romney wants to be is president.
He doesn`t seem to want to answer tough questions or any questions. He
doesn`t want to say what he`d do if he got to be president. He just wants
the job.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)`

MATTHEWS: Baseball great Roger Clemens is free and clear. He was
acquitted today on all six charges, including perjury and obstruction of
justice after being accused of lying about steroid use before the U.S.
Congress. After the verdict, he thanked his supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER CLEMENS, FORMER BASEBALL PLAYER: It`s kind of uncomfortable
for me to sit there and hear people talking about you, good or bad. But I
just want to say I appreciate everyone who came in that Rusty and Michael
and the entire team asked to come in to speak on my behalf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Once again, Roger Clemens, not guilty on all counts.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back. We know one thing about Mitt Romney. He
wants to be president of the United States, but what would a Mitt Romney
presidency actually be like or look like?

We`re taking a look at some of the candidates` statements on major
policy issues to try to figure out where this fellow stands and who`s
influencing those stands.

Well, Kasie Hunt is a national political reporter. She`s been
covering the Romney campaign at close distant, out in Iowa right now. And
Ron Reagan is an MSNBC political analyst.

I want you both to look at this. This is yesterday on "Face the
Nation". Mitt Romney took a hawkish stance toward Iran on "Face the
Nation." Let`s watch him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can assure you if I`m
president, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing
to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a
nuclear threat to the world. I don`t believe at this stage therefore if
I`m president, that we need to have a war powers approval or authorization
for military force. The president has that capacity now.

We cannot survive a course of action which would include a nuclear
Iran and we must be willing to take any and all action. They must all --
all those actions must be on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Kasie, who`s writing this stuff for him? And where is
this coming from? He`s absolutely no foreign policy experience. He`s
never been in the military. No one in his entire family history has been
in the military. And yet his solution automatically is an instinct of
let`s go to the military and armed force.

Where`s that history come from? He`s just making this up or is
somebody writing it for him?

KASIE HUNT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, we heard that a lot throughout
the primary campaign, of course. You know, Romney has to deal with the
fact that President Obama has a record on, for example, Osama bin Laden
that makes him hard to assail from the right, the way the Republican Party
has been able to in the past.

So, I will say that, you know, Romney`s campaign team is aware that
this is a public that`s tired of war. You know, people are tired with an
Afghanistan for a decade. People want us to get out. And you see that
reflected in how he`ll talk about that conflict, which is to say he doesn`t
have a problem with the U.S. having a timetable for getting out of there,
but he is critical of the president`s willingness to publicize that tactic.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Ron Reagan on that. First of all, let`s take
a look at this. I want your reaction to this. Here he is talking about --
yesterday with Bob Schieffer. He dodged the question on how he planned to
deal with revenue. Let`s look at this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: We know, Governor, you`ve told us -- you
haven`t been bashful about telling us where you want to cut taxes. When
are you going to tell us where you`re going to get the revenue? Which of
the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate? Which of the tax
credits are you going to -- when are you going to be able to tell us that?

ROMNEY: Well, we`ll go through that process with Congress as to all
the deductions and exemptions --

SCHIEFFER: But do you have any ideas now --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, there it is, you know, he gives (INAUDIBLE) for
the neocon guys, Dan Senor and the rest of them around, and Bolton, of all
the people in the world to be giving advice about peace and war, John
Bolton, who only knows one of those anwers.

And now on the issues of taxes where he`s supposed to be Mr.
Business, Mr. Expert, your favorite accountant, he can`t tell you what he`s
going to deal with -- how he`s going to deal with this thing.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he once said not long ago
if he gave too many details about his economic policies, that would be
problematic because people wouldn`t like the details much and maybe less
likely to vote for him vote.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: But he has signed on -- I guess so. He has signed on to the
Ryan budget plan, of course. We know his general tendency is to privatize
everything. For instance, privatize Medicare.

As far as taxes goes, you know, he`s not going to raise the rate on
the highest earners. We know that. We know he`s not going to do that.
He`s not going to tell you what deductions he`s going to come up with,
because again, it just wouldn`t sound good if he did.

MATTHEWS: OK. Kasie, I got -- last thought with you. He went on
"Face the Nation." He still won`t go on "Meet the Press." That`s his
call, I guess.

But he didn`t say anything. Why`d he go on a Sunday show if he
wasn`t going to say anything?

HUNT: Well, you`ve seen this challenge play out. Romney`s been able
to spend much of the primary campaign sort of, you know, being careful
about what campaigns he does release.

We talked to his strategist, Stuart Stevens, yesterday, and he said
that, you know, what we were hearing three months ago is it going to be the
same as what we`re hearing three months from now. That the candidate that
-- you know, he will evolve over time. So it`s going to be interesting to
see if he does in fact -- if he is for it. He took some heat yesterday.

MATTHEWS: We`ll keep with you, Kasie. We`ll follow you again out
there on the Romney campaign. Ron Reagan, as always, thank you, sir.

When we return, let me finish with the idea of why a Romney
presidency is so dangerous. Let`s think about it.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this Romney character. I don`t
think Romney cares all that much about the presidency except that he wants
it. If he weren`t running, you think he`d be watching this show or any
other show on politics? Forget about it.

Mitt cares about three things: his faith, his family, his business.
Right now, his business is running for president. That`s why he`s
interested in the presidency, it`s his business to be interested.

He doesn`t have an answer to questions. If the interviewer doesn`t
ask the most obvious thing, something that Mitt`s briefers were over and
over with him, he seems stunned. He doesn`t have an answer. Why? Because
he never thought of that one. The fact is, he hasn`t thought about many
things outside his zone of interest which again includes his faith, his
family, his business.

And this is the most dangerous thing about this guy. Since he
doesn`t have a foreign policy, he buys the foreign policies of the powers
that be. So, he sings the song of his neocon so-called advisers. What
they really are, of course, are people who advocate a point of view, the
need for a new war with each new Republican president.

And they need someone in the White House to push it for them. They
need a president who speaks their language, so they write his speeches.
They want war with Iran. They just put that in the next speech.

This as I said is the dangerous part. We`ve had experience with a
president who came to office with an empty head on foreign policy and
bought the entire neocon pitch, hook, line and sinker. The result was the
one war in this country`s history that really deserves a dunce cap.

Mitt won`t say a word about taxes that Grover Norquist might
disapprove. He won`t approve any deal to cut spending that Grover won`t
say OK to. That doesn`t make Mitt a leader. It makes him Grover`s rover.

Grover says pitch. Mitt Pitches. Grover says, beg. Mitt begs.

Same with the religious right. He won`t say a word that Pat
Robinson, Franklin Graham crowd hasn`t approved for his political prayer
book. There he was down at the Liberty University getting an honorary
degree. Now, I didn`t know they give honorary degrees for pandering.

The scariest thing about Mitt Romney is that he really is open for
bids. He`s sold his soul to every faction that`s out there, the neocons on
foreign policy, the religious right on social policy. Grover on the tax
issue.

Why have a brain if you don`t have to think? With this crowd around,
his only job is to do exactly what he`s told. He`s done just that.

Listen closely. Tell me if you`ve ever, ever heard Mitt Romney say
something that`s not perfect right wing talking points. The exact words
the pressure groups are telling him to say. This guy isn`t a candidate,
he`s a speaker system.

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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