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updated 6/18/2012 4:26:35 PM ET 2012-06-18T20:26:35

Guests: John Feehery, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, James Peterson, Tom Kline, Robert Buehner

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Dream a little dream.

Let`s play some HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Michael Smerconish in Washington for Chris
Matthews.

Leading off tonight: Dream Act lite. For years, Democrats have tried
to pass the Dream Act, and for years, Republicans have stopped them. So
today, President Obama issued an executive order that will stop the
deportations of most illegal immigrants who arrived here as children. Is
this a blatantly political play for the critical Latino vote? You betcha.
And we`ll break down the politics at the top of the program.

Plus, President Obama and Mitt Romney offer starkly different visions
for fixing the economy. Romney says trust the private sector. President
Obama says that`s another way of saying, Let`s try those Bush policies all
over again. My question, can Barack Obama win reelection without offering
some new vision for how to get the economy going again?

Also, could race be a bigger factor in the election than we thought?
Using Google searches, a Harvard researcher says racism cost Barack Obama 3
to 5 points in 2008 and could sink him this time.

And the Sandusky trial. One thing we`re learning is that many people
knew what was going on for a long time. So why did it take so long for
people to speak up?

Finally, Mitt Romney`s bus tour got under way today, and with it,
someone with a sense of humor driving an SUV with a fake dog strapped on
top. It, of course, is in the "Sideshow."

We begin with the president`s announcement today on immigration.
Howard Fineman is the editorial director for the Huffington Post Media
Group Maria Teresa Kumar is the executive director of Voto Latino, and both
are MSNBC political analysts.

Let me get you all caught up by hearing exactly what was said, first
by the president on this matter. The president had the following to say
when he made this announcement in the Rose Garden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Effective immediately,
the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of
deportation from these young people.

Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a
risk to national security or public safety will be able to request
temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work
authorization.

This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources
wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven,
patriotic young people. It is the -- it is the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: And then late this afternoon, Mitt Romney reacted to the
president`s announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the
status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an
important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis
so they know what their future would be in this country.

I think the action that the president took today makes it more
difficult to reach that long-term solution. I`d like to see legislation
that deals with this issue. And I happen to agree with Marco Rubio as he
(INAUDIBLE) this issue. He said that this is an important matter, that we
have to find a long-term solution, but that the president`s action makes
reaching a long-term solution more difficult.

If I`m president, we`ll do our very best to have that kind of long-
term solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Howard Fineman, I think I know how it plays with the
respective bases of the parties, both the R`s and the D`s, but the critical
question is how does it play with the I`s, the independents?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, that`s one reason why Mitt Romney was being as careful as he was
here, I thought. He was saying, yes, it`s -- long-term, not short-term.
He wasn`t denouncing it, and I think that`s important. That`s because it`s
a close question.

If you`re talking about independent -- if you`re talking about swing
voters as independents, then a lot of those swing voters are Latinos, and I
think this is very important for them and a plus for the president.

If you`re talking about white working-class Americans in states such
as Ohio and North Carolina, in Nevada and elsewhere, in Florida, that are
swing states, also, then I think it`s a closer question. It`s --
obviously, it`s a very political thing. Obviously, it`s not about the one
number topic in the country and in the election, which is the economy. And
some of those independent voters don`t like moves that look too political.
So for them, I think it could be a turn-off.

SMERCONISH: You heard Governor Romney`s invoke-tion of Marco Rubio`s
name.

FINEMAN: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Did his stock for vice president go sky-high today?

FINEMAN: Well, I think his stock was already going sky-high, and I
think, in part, that the Obama campaign sees that and they want to get in
there ahead of the possibility of Rubio becoming quite possibly the running
mate.

They don`t want to look like they`re reacting to Rubio. And also,
look, the president needs some forward motion on something. It`s kind of
like the thing, In case of emergency, break glass, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: This was kind of in case of emergency, break glass, let`s do
this Hispanic thing now.

SMERCONISH: And Maria...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: A cynic would say, Let`s look at the states that will be
impacted by this -- Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada. I mean, it`s half
of those that are the swing states.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s swing
states. But I think Howard is right. Had President Obama done this six or
seven months ago, the Latino community would have remembered and he would
be -- he would have fixed his enthusiasm gap that is present now. But now
-- and moderates by now would have forgotten this initial stuff that he
did.

Now moderates are going to say, Wait a second, I don`t have a job.
This is really uncomforting (ph) for me because why aren`t you talking
about jobs and why are you providing special privileges?

However, what Obama -- the Obama campaign has done smartly is
basically saying, You know what? We`re going to go out before Rubio, out
before Romney, and we`re going to own this media campaign and this media
messaging. So whatever Rubio or Romney does now, it`s going to be very
difficult for them to actually own this -- this issue.

SMERCONISH: Speaking of Senator Rubio, he issued a statement himself
on this issue today. And we`ve got it. We can put it up on the screen so
that everybody can take a look at Marco Rubio`s I`d call it lukewarm
statement on Obama`s executive order.

"There is broad support for the idea," he wrote, "that we should
figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of
their own, but there`s also broad consensus that it should be done in a way
that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future. Today`s
announcement will become welcome news for many of these kids desperate for
an answer, but it`s a short-term answer to a long-term problem."

What does this mean politically?

KUMAR: I think he`s right, is that Rubio`s -- Rubio`s -- the
legislation that he wants to propose is actually creating a path to
legalization and residency. President Obama`s does neither, neither
citizenship nor residency. It just basically provides the opportunity for
a kid to get a job or go to the military.

It`s a big difference, though, between Romney and President Obama is
that Romney has only wanted to support Dream Act and that is only for the
military. And that really ruffled some feathers, not just Latino feathers
but also a lot of moderate and progressives who are saying, Wait, these
young people are -- they can sacrifice their life for our country, but they
can`t be doctors or accountants or engineers? That doesn`t make any sense.

SMERCONISH: Howard, I thought of Newt Gingrich. When I heard the
announcement today, it reminded me of what I thought I heard the former
House speaker saying on the campaign trail that incurred the wrath of his
GOP opponents.

FINEMAN: Yes. Well, one thing that the White House is doing here is
trying to keep Mitt Romney in the corner that Mitt Romney put himself in...

SMERCONISH: As a conservative.

FINEMAN: ... during the primary season in order to outflank Rick
Perry and others on the immigration issue. And they`re trying to back him
into the corner by going as far as they have.

I totally agree it`s a halfway measure, and if you read the three-page
letter -- order from Secretary Napolitano, you can see that it really isn`t
a sweeping thing here. And they can slow walk it to the extent they want.

But politically, I think it was a -- overall, it was a pretty shrewd
stroke on the part of the president.

SMERCONISH: Maria, let`s all watch because in a Republican
presidential debate, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney sparred over immigration
policy, with Gingrich portraying Romney, you`ll remember, as heartless.
Romney says he`s enforcing the law.

(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.

ROMNEY: That`s -- that`s simply inexcusable. That`s inexcusable.

GINGRICH: You tell me what language you would use to describe to
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: I -- Mr. Speaker, I think I described following the law as it
exists in this country, which is 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)

SMERCONISH: Maria, what the president put forth today, does it really
change things? Maybe this is a naive question on my behalf, but are the
sort of folks that he`s talking about susceptible really being deported as
things stand right now?

KUMAR: It actually -- it does -- it does give relief to a lot of the,
I guess, biggest advocates within the immigration movement, which have been
young dreamers, young people. They`re the ones that have been basically
staging hunger strikes, walking around the county. I mean, they`re the
ones that have really created this media swell that has been very difficult
for the Obama administration to back away from.

I think, though, what Romney has to -- I really caution Romney with is
that, again, he`s the one that says that he`s for some sort of immigration,
but he has strange bedfellows. Chris Kobach (ph), the architect between
(ph) the Arizona SB-1070 legislation, is one of -- is one of his largest
supporters. The fact that he has Pete Wilson, the one that is basically
chairman of the California Caucus -- that`s actually -- of his campaign in
California -- that`s a dirty word among the Latino community.

So he`s saying one thing, but the folks that he`s (ph) actually moving
his campaign along (ph) is very anti-Latino, anti-immigration.

FINEMAN: And speaking of strange bedfellows, Steve King, the
Republican from Iowa, has already said, I believe, that he wants to sue the
administration over what the president just announced today. Iowa is a
swing state.

Now, everybody in Iowa knows Steve King already, so there`s no news
there. But to the extent that the Obama campaign in Iowa can tie Romney to
Steve King on immigration with this latest play, it`s marginally helpful to
the president in that state.

SMERCONISH: Quick question for you, Howard, if I might. The timing
of this -- why today? It`s the beginning of summer. This is a serious and
big-picture issue. Was, politically speaking, this the time to drop it?

FINEMAN: Well, I think there`s a big political meeting coming up next
week...

SMERCONISH: There is.

FINEMAN: ... involving the Latino community. That`s one. And I
think the president wants to change the subject, quite frankly, after
several weeks of dismal news on the economy and the politics of he economy.

Don`t forget, to some extent, the president is running a cultural
campaign against Romney`s economic campaign. He`s got a big gay rights
event going on at the White House today. He made this announcement on
Latinos. So he`s going cultural to change the subject from the economy.

SMERCONISH: Quick answer...

KUMAR: And the...

SMERCONISH: Was today the time to do this?

KUMAR: Absolutely because the Supreme Court is going to come out on
their decision with...

SMERCONISH: With Arizona?

KUMAR: ... Arizona SB-1070, which basically today, that congressional
members -- Lindsey Graham said that immigration is -- is literally a
congressional issue. So now they`re basically forcing the Supreme Court to
say, Wait a second. The states can`t be deciding. So it`s going to be
interesting how it plays out.

SMERCONISH: The days of waiting until Labor Day for the starting gun
to be fired -- long over.

FINEMAN: True.

SMERCONISH: This maybe is under way. Thank you, Howard Fineman.

KUMAR: (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

SMERCONISH: That`s also true. Thank you, Maria Teresa Kumar.

Coming up: President Obama and Mitt Romney offer two very different
visions of how to fix the economy. Mitt Romney wants to leave it to the
private sector. President Obama says that`s what got us into this mess.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: John McCain is condemning the "Dirty, Angry Money"
flowing into the presidential campaign. The Arizona Republican said
Sheldon Adelson`s multi-million-dollar contribution to Mitt Romney`s allies
means foreign money from Adelson`s casino in Macao is pouring into the
campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Much of Mr. Adelson`s casino profits
that go to him come from his casino in Macao.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which says what?

MCCAIN: Which says that, obviously, maybe in a roundabout way,
foreign money is coming into an American political campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: McCain added that we need to have a limit on the flow of
campaign money, and that corporations are not people.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you want to give the policies of the last decade another
try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney.

ROMNEY: He`s been president for three-and-a-half years. And talk is
cheap. Action speaks very loud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We may have reached an
inflection point in the campaign when President Obama and Mitt Romney faced
off against each other yesterday in dueling speeches in Ohio. Mr. Obama
tried to frame the election as a choice between his economic policies and
the Republicans` failed agenda of the past. Mitt Romney, for his part,
tried to make it a referendum on the president`s last three-and-a-half
years in office.

Joining me now, Joan Walsh, an MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-
large for Salon, and John Feehery is a Republican strategist. Thank you
both for being here.

President Obama held up Governor Romney`s economic policies as a
carbon copy of a failed George W. Bush agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The economic vision of Mr. Romney and his allies in Congress
was tested a just few years ago. We tried this. Their policies did not
grow the economy. They did not grow the middle class. They did not reduce
our debt. Why would we think that they would work better this time?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Joan Walsh, is "blame Bush" still potent?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think
polls show it is. Voters blame Bush, Michael. But I think he did more
than that.

I think an interesting thing that the president did -- he`s making the
case, I`m not just digging out of eight years of Republican leadership,
lack of leadership, I`m digging out of 30 years.

And he really told quite a telling story about how we`ve disinvested
in our middle class over those years. We had wages begin to stagnate and
decline. We had women, moms going into the workforce, families trying to
keep up. We had families then borrowing against their houses, that was
true, because their wages weren`t keeping up.

We -- you know, starting with Ronald Reagan, we disinvested in public
education. We made -- here in California, the UC system was free until
Ronald Reagan. We`ve seen college tuition costs double and even triple.

So it`s a long-term story that kind of culminates in the crash of 2008
when things really fell apart. So I think...

SMERCONISH: But I think -- I guess...

WALSH: ... he`s trying to make people...

SMERCONISH: I guess what I`m asking is...

WALSH: ... understand that this is not something that just started.
Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: I guess, though, what I`m asking is that even if
Americans buy into that portion of the logic, at this stage of the
election, aren`t they looking for more that`s forward-looking?

John Feehery, I guess I`m making your argument for you.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I -- the big problem I
have with this argument -- well, I have a lot of problems with the
argument. First of all, George Bush is not on the ballot. President Obama
is. And this is a -- all elections are about -- especially presidential
reelections, are about how has the president done and what is his vision
for the next four years.

So this is a curious time to blame George Bush. I think it`s -- it`s
long into his administration. He could have made that case in the first
year, but this is, you know, three-and-a-half years into his
administration.

And the job growth has been so stagnant and so remarkably lousy that I
just don`t think it works with most voters. Now, I know what Joan`s
saying. There`s a poll saying that you (ph) still blame Bush. But Bush is
not on the ballot, and I don`t think it`s going to work for President
Obama.

SMERCONISH: Well, here`s...

FEEHERY: If he wants to win this election, he`s got to hope for two
things, that the economy improves and that he gives a vision for the
future.

SMERCONISH: Here`s what he did say looking forward. The president
laid out his ideas for moving, as the campaign slogan says, forward.
Here`s that audio.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OBAMA: I believe we need a plan for better education and training and
for energy independence...

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... and for new research and innovation, for rebuilding our
infrastructure. And if you agree with me, if you believe this economy
grows best when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair
share and everybody plays by the same set of rules, then I ask you to stand
with me for a second term as president!

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Here`s the part that I`m not getting from him, Joan. I`m
not getting the part that says, If the GOP maintains control of the House
and if there`s continued -- I`ll say the word -- intransigence on the part
of the Republicans who provide the leadership in the House, then how is he
going to get any of these things accomplished?

And frankly, I haven`t heard it from Governor Romney, either. Neither
of them, to my way of thinking, has addressed the hyper-partisanship and
how they`re going to get beyond that. Are you hearing something, Joan
Walsh, that I`m not hearing?

WALSH: You know, the one thing I did hear, Michael, was that he said
repeatedly that it`s up to the voters to break the stalemate. He did point
to that intransigence over and over. And he also pointed back even to
Ronald Reagan, who I criticized before, but he really did -- at the end of
the speech did something important which said, look, our post-war America
was strong because we had a bipartisan consensus about the role of the
government in growing the economy.

It wasn`t that government did it alone. It wasn`t that government
controlled everything. It was that we built roads and we funded R&D, and
we funded schools and public universities, because that made smart people
and it made businesses strong. And we are stuck because this Republican
Party has moved so far to the right they won`t even -- they won`t meet me
where Ronald Reagan met Democrats or where Dwight Eisenhower or Richard
Nixon met Democrats.

So he`s saying his goal -- and we can -- the three of us can disagree
about whether this is going to be effective -- is, he`s saying you know the
thing to do, voters? You have to break the stalemate. You have to tell
the Republican Party why have you gone off a cliff and why have you lost
your minds?

(LAUGHTER)

SMERCONISH: But, John Feehery, we don`t have a parliamentary system.

And if the status quo is maintained, I`m not sure that anybody on
either side of the aisle is going to be happy with where we stand come
January.

FEEHERY: The last time the Democrats had control of everything, the
next midterm election was such an overwhelming rejection of President Obama
and the Democratic leadership`s policies that it was historic.

The 2010 elections were absolutely historic. I`m glad that Joan
mentioned Ronald Reagan, because Ronald Reagan used to say the nine most
terrifying words of the English language, I`m from the government and I`m
here to help.

And that is the beautiful thing about these two speeches in Ohio
because they give us a philosophical divide here. If you believe that the
government is going to help you with all of your problems, you`re going to
vote for President Obama. If you believe the private sector is going to
create jobs, you vote for Mitt Romney.

And that is a philosophical divide right there. And I think, you
know, the government is so completely unpopular with most voters right now.
Polls show it at the bottom of all the ratings. This is a good place for
the Romney campaign to be.

WALSH: Oh, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Joan Walsh, does the president need to offer -- does the
president need to offer something new, something more than we received
yesterday? He`s been called the only adult in the room in the past on
these issues. And I think that proposition`s being tested now.

WALSH: Yes, frankly, he does need to offer more than that.

And I have said that to you for a long time, Michael. I think he was
not concrete enough about exactly what his policies would do. And
honestly, what he did today with his, you know, individual DREAM Act
maneuver, I think is going to be way more important than any speeches that
he gives.

He has got to and he should have been really looking for as many
things he can on his own, via executive orders, that can move the needle
for people and do it on jobs as well. I don`t think that he is outlining a
bold enough jobs plan. I don`t think he`s saying this is how we`re going
to put people to work in enough detail.

Even yesterday, he talked about how we kind of began to come out of
the recession. But he even didn`t talk about his own Recovery Act, which
actually did help us get to a certain point.

Now, Mitt Romney...

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I think you make -- I think you -- I think you make a
good observation.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Unfortunately, John, I`m out of time.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Both of them, I think, have left something to be desired
in this regard.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I have got to say thanks to Joan Walsh and John Feehery.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: Thanks.

SMERCONISH: Up next: Mitt Romney`s can`t -- Mitt Romney can`t outrun
that infamous story of how he put the dog on the roof for the family
vacation. Well, find out what happened today on the campaign trail.
That`s next in the "Sideshow."

And if you want to follow me on Twitter, all you need to do is figure
out to smell Smerconish.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."

First up, Jon Stewart took on Senate Banking Committee member Jim
DeMint yesterday for his gentlemen questioning of J.P. Morgan Chase CEO
Jamie Dimon.

Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": They didn`t
just haul Jamie Dimon in to tell him how nice and good he is and huge he
is.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: They also brought him in there to talk about how terrible
they, the Senate, are.

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We can hardly sit in judgment of
your losing $2 billion. We lose twice that every day here in Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Does Senator DeMint think that spending money is the same as
losing money?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: You know, $10 million here yesterday, but now all I see is
this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) highway.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

STEWART: I don`t know understand. I don`t know understand what...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

STEWART: Where`s my money?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

STEWART: We`re going to have to dig this up and find my money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Stewart is right. There`s a big difference between
building something and blowing it.

Next, Mitt Romney just can`t shake the dog on the roof story. Romney
is on a bus tour through New Hampshire and guess who`s right there with
him? That`s right, an SUV called the Romney Mobile with a fake dog
strapped to the roof. You can see it there. Seamus would be proud.

Next up, in Michigan, two Democratic female state legislators were
banned from speaking on the statehouse floor this week, one seemingly for
referring to her vagina in a heated debate over an anti-abortion bill.

Here`s Democrat Lisa Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA BROWN (D), MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I have not asked you
to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to
adopt yours? And, finally, Mr. Speaker, I`m flattered that you`re all so
interested in my vagina, but no means no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Brown later told The Daily Beast -- quote -- "If I said
elbow, would I have gotten in trouble? If you`re regulating vaginas, I
don`t know how we`re supposed to not talk about them."

The second lawmaker, Barb Byrum, was told she was out of order for
arguing for her amendment, which would force men getting vasectomies to
show that their life was at risk or prove that they had a medical
emergency. A spokesman for the speaker said the decision was about the
need to keep the floor debate civil and mature.

And, lastly, Florida Governor Rick Scott tells "The Miami Herald" that
he voted by provisional ballot in 2006. Why, you might ask? -- quote --
"`You can`t vote because you`re dead. You passed away, according to our
voter rolls,` Scott says he was told."

Well, after providing his I.D., they allowed him to vote with a
provisional ballot. It turns out the governor was born the same day as
another Richard Scott who had passed away.

Up next, the race factor. A new study says that Barack Obama would
have won even bigger four years ago were it not for race. What does it
mean for November`s election? That`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Big gains for stocks ahead of the Greek elections on Sunday, the Dow
Jones industrial average up 115 points, the S&P up 14, and the Nasdaq rises
36 points. Facebook shares finishing up more than 6 percent following a
report that the networking site will seek to consolidate shareholder
lawsuits against the economy.

And on the economic front, consumer sentiment slipped in June to a
six-month low. And industrial production fell in May, the second decline
in three months.

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

SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

A new study makes the argument that despite conventional wisdom that
prejudice was not a major factor in Obama`s election, there`s evidence he
would have won by an even larger margin if not for racial animus. Using a
Google tool that tracks the frequency of search words in different parts of
the country, researchers teased out which regions used racist search terms
most frequently, in this case the N-word.

And it turns out the N-word was included in roughly the same number of
Google searches as terms like The Daily Show or migraine or even economist.
But it`s where geographically those Google searches were done that makes
the difference.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz conducted the study. He`s a doctoral
candidate in economics as Harvard. Dr. James Peterson is a professor at
Lehigh University.

Seth, I get the fact that people in the Bible Belt are prone to
Googling God. I get that, in L.A., people Google Lakers. You`re telling
me that we Americans Google porn more than weather?

SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ, HARVARD ECONOMIC DOCTORAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
And Smerconish is Googled in Pennsylvania, you will be happy to know.

SMERCONISH: All right. Why you mentioned that in the same sentence
as those other two, I`m not, but that`s OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SMERCONISH: So let`s talk about the political significance of what
you have learned.

There`s a graph I want to put up on the screen, if we can. And this
documents the research that you have performed. There it is. It shows
that in media markets with the highest frequency of racially charged
searches, Obama underperformed in the `08 election relative to predictions.

Would you expand on this for us?

STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: Yes.

Basically, you can predict how many votes Obama should have received
based on how many other votes other Democratic candidates received, for
example, John Kerry in 2004, also the fact that Democrats were a lot more
popular in 2008 compared to 2004.

SMERCONISH: In what parts of the country? Give me specific examples
where people were more prone than a national average to search the N-word?

STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: I mean, the point of this research is obviously
not to point out and put down any particular part of the country.

The search rate was highest in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania,
Eastern Ohio, Upstate New York, Southern Mississippi. But it turned out to
be relatively common throughout the United States.

SMERCONISH: And the net-net of this is that you say -- you
extrapolate the data and say there was a 3 percent to 5 percent decrease in
the Obama vote in `08?

STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: From racial -- continuing racial prejudice in
the United States, yes.

SMERCONISH: Professor Peterson, does this make sense to you?

I should say the premise is built on the notion that if you`re
searching for the N-word, then there`s something that can be implied. I
frankly have scratched my noggin and tried to figure out why you would
search the N-word in any circumstance. And I can`t come up with anything.

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Well, Seth can probably articulate
this to you better than I can.

Most of these folk who are doing these N-word are looking for sites
that basically depict African-Americans in negative ways, tell sort of
racialized jokes and things -- and things of that nature.

And I have got to tell you, Michael, I`m not surprised by this, but I
think it`s very, very empowering to have the quantitative data to sort of
match up with a lot of the qualitative analyses that we have been doing on
shows like -- like HARDBALL and other shows over the course of the last
couple of years, because when it gets down to brass tacks, we have been
talking about some of these issues.

We know that racism is still out there, and we tend to think of it as
only functioning or only existing amongst a minority of folks in certain
regions, but this Google search data is really, really important in terms
of letting us know not just how widespread it is, but the fact that it has
impact.

And it`s not just on presidential elections. I mean, that`s one way
of thinking about this. But, as Seth points out in his article, one of the
most important reasons to consider here is that racial animus still affects
racial black folk all over this country.

SMERCONISH: Seth, it seems to me that if 3 percent to 5 percent of
folks had gone for Obama who didn`t, we would have been talking a landslide
of Reaganesque proportions.

PETERSON: That`s right.

SMERCONISH: Is that what you`re concluding?

STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: I think you have to recall just how unpopular
Republicans were in the 2008 election cycle.

So, George Bush had one of the lowest approval ratings in history at
the time of the election. Remember, Obama was consistently comparing
McCain to George Bush, trying to tie them together. And, also, McCain made
some big campaign blunders, such as seeming to not be able to understand
the problems of the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Did you take into consideration the president`s -- did
you take into consideration that the president`s race was an asset in
certain quarters, whether there were write liberals voting for or more
inclined to do so because of his race, or a near-monolithic African-
American vote that perhaps boosted turnout in those communities? Was that
something you contemplated?

STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: Yes.

I calculated that he gained about 1 percentage point of the vote total
from increased African-American support and turnout. I don`t think there
was a huge -- and I looked at the data a whole bunch of ways, and I didn`t
see -- seem to find a big effect from increased white support due to his
race.

As you mentioned, we think of that as more a liberal position, and
these individuals were likely to support any Democratic candidate. So...

SMERCONISH: Professor Peterson, do you think that Seth`s research
comes as news in Boston and in Chicago, meaning at the Romney and at the
Obama headquarters? In other words, have they already factored this in and
are they campaigning in a way that takes into account these potential
prejudices?

PETERSON: Yes, I think both campaigns have already sort of factored
in their sense about this data.

In fact, I think if you look back at the Republican presidential
primaries, and people were asking the questions, what I think are
legitimate questions, why is birtherism still around, why do we see these
racial dog whistles being played by Newt Gingrich and by Rick Santorum and
by other folk?

Well, part of the reason why we have seen that stuff is because of
this data that Seth has put on the table for us here, which is there are --
there`s a -- there`s a significant -- statistically significant percentage
of the voting population that will be impacted and sometimes charged up by
that kind of racialized politics.

And so -- so, yes, I think on both sides, they`re aware of this. But
think about a state like Michigan. And if you took -- you know, if you
take three to five points away from -- from Obama in that particular state,
that`s a very, very difficult challenge for the president.

So -- so, it`s interesting information. It`s very, very complex.
But, yes, I do think the campaigns are both already on to it.

SMERCONISH: You know, pundits often talk about the different paths
toward success that the president might entertain and if you apply Seth`s
model, I think what it says because he bears down, he drills on West
Virginia versus Colorado. For those of us conversant about the different
paths, it might mean the western path is the route they should be pursuing
-- they meaning the Obama campaign.

A quick reaction, Professor Peterson.

PETERSON: Yes, I would agree. When you look at some of these
regions and states that Seth has so brilliantly parsed out here, it does
seem like the West Coast and certain areas in the South and those areas are
more populated by the Latino voters are the route to go.

But I assure you that the Obama campaign has multiple calculus and
multiple ways of getting into 270 here.

SMERCONISH: It`s fascinating research. Thank you, gentlemen.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz and James Peterson, we appreciate your time.

Up next, the Jerry Sandusky trial. We`ll meet an attorney
representing one of the victims in the case.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: There`s a big election overseas this weekend and it
could have a huge impact right here at home. The elections in Greece on
Sunday will go a long way to determining whether that country continues
using the euro or drops out of the eurozone. And analysts say if Greece
ditches the euro, it could trigger a global financial crisis on the level
of what happened in the fall of 2008.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The defense team for former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is set to
argue their case next week as he fights the 52 charges of sexual abuse he
currently faces -- charges that Sandusky denies.

With me now is Tom Kline. He`s a trial attorney who`s representing a
23-year-old man known as victim number five who testified on Wednesday. I
should also tell you he`s a named partner at the law firm where I`m
associated.

Tom, big picture view. What did the prosecution establish this past
week?

TOM KLINE, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED SANDUSKY VICTIM: Michael, there was
a compelling case established with eight victims, all young men, all who
came into the courtroom who said that they didn`t want to be there,
buttressed by two independent witnesses, a janitor and the star witness,
Michael McQueary, who is an assistant coach who went to Joe Paterno in 2001
and then to higher ups at Penn State and told them he had witnessed a
horrible incident in the shower room at Penn State.

SMERCONISH: So --

KLINE: It was a dramatic, compelling trial. I was there for every
minute of it.

SMERCONISH: What`s to come next week in your estimation?

KLINE: Well, as of 2:21 this afternoon, the judge entered an order
which allows the defense to call psychological testimony. This is a new
and I think blockbuster event in the trial. It could represent a seismic
shift in the defense of the case.

I saw the defense shaping up to essentially trying to chip away at
the credibility of various witnesses. Now, the defense appears to be ready
to say that Jerry Sandusky had something called histrionic personality
disorder, someone who seeks excessive attention from other individuals.

A really major event occurred this afternoon while we were not in
court. There was no court today and a lot of people were wondering why and
the judge was obviously considering this motion and it appears to be a
shift in strategy by the defense.

SMERCONISH: How has Penn State`s credibility, meaning the
university`s credibility, been impacted by the testimony thus far?

KLINE: Oh, Penn State has suffered tremendously during the course of
this trial. It is now known that literally from 1998 and certainly by
2002, everyone from the janitor to the president of the university knew.
In this trial, it was established that janitors had witnessed events in the
earlier period, and then Mr. McQueary witnessed an event in the shower. It
is terrible for Penn State.

SMERCONISH: How does your -- final question for Attorney Tom Kline -
- how does your client fit into the big picture narrative? I`m not asking
you to summarize his testimony. I think most of us know it. But how does
he fit into the big picture narrative of this case?

KLINE; Sure. He is what I would call a linkage witness. He was a
one-time witness in the shower, but he establishes with so many of these
young men establish, which is that repetitively, there was a pattern which
was systematic which involved grooming, leading to -- getting these boys
either in the shower or alone, and then having some kind of forced,
compulsion on them. That`s really what the story is here. It is a story
that is sordid.

SMERCONISH: Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

KLINE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

SMERCONISH: Robert Buehner was district attorney for Montour County,
Pennsylvania, a neighboring county where all of this allegedly went down.
You said something to me earlier this week on my radio program which I
thought was a great assessment.

You said there had been a lack of professional witnesses. What do
you mean by that?

ROBERT BUEHNER, JR., FMR. MONTOUIR COUNTY, PA DIST. ATTY: There
aren`t any police officers, no CSI investigators, there`s not a coroner,
there`s not a detective. And, really, there aren`t any -- there haven`t
been in experts come on who get paid to testify.

This is all about victims and two eyewitnesses. And it`s unlike the
O.J. case, unlike the Casey Anthony case, it presents a much more difficult
case for a prosecutor, because you don`t have those professional witnesses
there to professional witnesses there to sort of lead the jury along.
You`ve got to do it yourself.

That`s what Joe McGettigan has done. He`s taken this jury in Centre
County as if he were a tour guide for the truth and they`re on the journey
with them. And he`s used the witnesses, the victims if you will, to make
his case.

SMERCONISH: So, Tom just referenced and this is today`s big
headline, even though court wasn`t in session, histrionic personality
disorder.

Is that going to fly in your neck of the woods?

BUEHNER: It`s not going to even come close to flying. I -- when I
heard this news today, Michael, I immediately thought this is great for the
prosecution. Because the jurors are now going to know a name for something
other than pedophilia that Jerry Sandusky did with these boys. It doesn`t
mean he`s incompetent. It doesn`t mean he`s insane. It just now has
another label.

And I think when they cross-examine whatever psychologist they put on
I think would only enhance the prosecution. I see the jurors just looking
at this and just shaking their head.

SMERCONISH: Bob, if Jerry Sandusky couldn`t handle Bob Costas on a
mobile phone, how could he stand up to cross examination that would come if
he took the stand?

BUEHNER: I think -- to use a football term here -- the only thing
that`s going to happen here, they need a Hail Mary. If you look at the
testimony so far in the testimony presented, especially Thursday afternoon,
the final victim coming forward and saying he was in the basement screaming
as if it were soundproof. Then the trial ended for the weekend.

Those jurors are going to be thinking about that all weekend long.
They`re going to hear those screams. I think they have to -- the defense
has to do a Hail Mary. And that may mean putting Sandusky on the stand. I
think the jurors will want to hear that.

SMERCONISH: Doesn`t that also preclude potentially Mrs. Sandusky
being the Hail Mary? That the testimony that was offered, that ghastly
testimony on Thursday that she was present, that she was upstairs.

BUEHNER: And the victim said at that point as if the room in the
basement was soundproof. Well, it wasn`t soundproof to those jurors.

So I think Sandusky was promised in the opening by the defense in
their statement that he would take the witness stand.

SMERCONISH: We have just a minute or so left together. You were a
close personal friend of Ray Gricar, the Centre County D.A. People
following the case know there was the `98 investigation. Your friend
didn`t prosecute the case. Your friend then disappeared. His computer was
found, et cetera, et cetera.

Talk to me about him. Would he have declined for any reason to move
forward against Penn State?

BUEHNER: He feared no one as a prosecutor. No institution. He had
many cases involving personalities at Penn State. We used to kid him about
it as D.A.s tend to do. He would view that as a challenge. And he would
be aggressive in his pursuit of -- he was a champion for victims. If he
felt there was evidence, he would take it wherever he went.

SMERCONISH: Because you know the blogosphere has gone crazy, with
all sort of conspiracy notions as to how this all fits together. What I`m
hearing from Bob Buehner is you don`t think it fits together at all. You
think his disappearance was unrelated to the Sandusky case.

BUEHNER: Completely. Completely unrelated. There`s no known causal
connection between 1998 and 2005 when a guy`s going out of office with
eight months to go.

SMERCONISH: At this clip -- just 30 seconds left -- this is the
antithesis of O.J. and Lance Ito. I mean, four days in the prosecution
case is about to rest. This thing could rap up next week.

BUEHNER: Absolutely. I think it will. I think the jury will get it
sometime in the mid-part of the week. And by this week next time we should
have a verdict.

SMERCONISH: And the way things stand now, he`s presumed innocent but
--

(CROSSTALK)

BUEHNER: I think the testimony -- the way it was laid up by
McGettigan.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Robert Buehner. I appreciate it.

When we return, let me finish with some Father`s Day advice for
President Obama and Governor Romney.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Let me finish tonight with this: Sunday is Father`s Day.
We`ve all received good advice from dear old dad -- sometimes the kind of
council that stays in our headlong after fathers have passed.

It occurs to me some of those timeless nuggets would be good advice
for our politicians, including our presidential aspirants. So today on the
radio, I asked my audience what advice they`ve received from their own
fathers that they`d like to pass on to President Obama and Governor Romney.

I heard some pretty good stuff.

Wendy from Michigan said she hopes whoever is president understands
her father`s advice. You`re not going to like every job you have. But a
job worth having is worth doing well, which she said mean sometimes being
the president is thankless. But you still have to do your best in every
aspect of it.

Phil in Massachusetts said his dad told him your last suit would have
no pockets -- meaning you`re going to leave office as you came in. And be
sure to act in a manner you can hold your head high.

Tony in Indianapolis says nothing good happens after 11. That`s what
his father told him, which he says should mean that politicians not wait
until the 11th hour to take care of the people`s business. Or it might
mean beware of the fundraising schmooze fest or big donor shindigs. They
don`t resonate well when people are worried about their next paycheck.

Via twitter, I received great responses from people like Peg whose
father told her, God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you would
listen twice as much as you speak. I think applies to Republicans and
Democrats.

And Kevin told me, remember what old dads have said. There`s a time
and a place for everything. I think that has a message as to timing and
perhaps knowing when it`s your turn to run for office.

A friend told me that his father said praise in public, criticize in
private. Translated into political speak, that could mean how you treat
your staff, the media, the voters is critical. Every word, every gaffe,
every look will be analyzed in this 24/7 news cycle.

And a producer of mine said his father told him if your friends jump
off a cliff, you don`t have to. Well, what about if your fellow candidates
are all raising their hand against a 10 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to tax
hikes. You don`t have to.

And, finally, from Woks (ph) Smerconish, my father`s parenting advice
-- always be firm, fair, and consistent. That`s a great message to keep in
mind when it comes to every aspect of being president.

Happy Father`s day to all the dads out there.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

END

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