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updated 7/20/2012 11:19:33 AM ET 2012-07-20T15:19:33

Guests: John Feehery, Dee Dee Myers, Jeff Daniels, Shannon O`Brien


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Enough`s enough!

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in San Francisco.

Leading off tonight: Dirtball. I suppose if you really want to get
down in the mud, if you really want to show how much dirt you`ll get your
hands into, you start calling people spies and traitors. That`s if you`re
desperate and sleazy enough to go after a quiet deputy to Hillary Clinton,
someone who can`t defend herself.

Better yet, you sing out a whole chorus of sleaze with people like
John Sununu saying the president himself ought to learn how to be an
American, with the Republican candidate himself saying how foreign the
president is.

Then to put the cherry on the top of this sundae from hell, you have
Michele Bachmann, with some alleyoop help from Glenn Beck, do her damndest
and charge that the whole U.S. government, including, according to Beck,
John McCain himself, are all part of some crowd taking orders from the
Muslim Brotherhood. Do you believe this stuff?

Well, tonight, we hear the first whistles being blown. Republicans
like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, guys who have served this country in
uniform, people like Ed Rollins, who worked for Ronald Reagan, are standing
up to this crazy, un-American talk. God save McCain and say -- I say and
all those left right and center who say enough`s enough.

I`m joined by MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large of Salon,
Joan Walsh. Republican strategist John Feehery also joins us tonight.

Let me go to Joan -- or we have John? Who do we got? We got Joan --
we don`t have -- John, how do you explain this cacophony right now that`s
going on, all this talk about people learning how to be an American, the
charges -- Sununu`s up to this. You`ve got the candidate himself on your
side talking about the president being foreign in his thinking.

What`s that angle that we`re getting? Because Bachmann`s sort of the
coup de grace. She`s the ultimate case of this.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let me first, Chris,
disassociate -- mix these two things up or take them apart. Michele
Bachmann`s thing -- absolutely outrageous. I don`t know what she`s up to.
I think McCain was absolutely right.

I mean, you can quibble -- you can have some serious disagreements
with Obama`s foreign policy, but you know, throwing her under the bus I
think is ridiculous. I think it`s dangerous, as John Boehner said. And
the worst thing is it`s a distraction from what the campaign should be all
about, which should be about the economy.

Now, you know, if you`re talking about some of the rhetoric coming
from Mitt Romney and others -- listen, all is fair in love and war when it
comes to politics. They`re saying the same thing about Mitt Romney.
They`re calling him un-American! They calling -- Stephanie Cutter was
calling him a felon! So you know, the...

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: Some of these things...

MATTHEWS: Has anybody questioned his citizenship?

FEEHERY: Well, they`ve questioned, you know, where he`s putting all
his money. They`ve questioned...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So there`s no difference between questioning a guy`s tax
returns and question whether he`s an American or not? There`s no
difference.

FEEHERY: There`s -- there`s -- no, there`s -- there`s just -- a
difference between the rhetoric of Michele Bachmann, which is horrible...

MATTHEWS: OK, well...

FEEHERY: ... and then rhetoric of -- of...

MATTHEWS: Let`s go on here...

FEEHERY: And then John -- John Sununu said that he -- he apologized
for those comments, and he should apologize because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did John Sununu say? You`re saying it`s so much
different than what Michele`s been saying. He said he ought to learn how
to be an American. Now, where does that talk come from?

FEEHERY: Well, see, which -- which he apologized for. He said he
shouldn`t have said that, and I agree with...

MATTHEWS: Why did he say it? Why`d he say it?

FEEHERY: I don`t know why he said it. I don`t know why -- but
there`s a lot of...

MATTHEWS: Why does the president...

FEEHERY: ... these people saying...

MATTHEWS: ... the candidate of the Republican Party say the
president`s foreign?

FEEHERY: Well -- well, I think he`s talking about the fact that the
president is trying to import European-style democracy or socialism...

MATTHEWS: Oh.

FEEHERY: ... into America.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FEEHERY: And that`s a policy disagreement.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: ... altogether appropriate to have that discussion.

MATTHEWS: All right. OK. Well, I think it all fits together,
unfortunately.

Here`s Ed Rollins, by the way, talking about Michele Bachmann. He
actually ran her campaign for president, most of us remember. Here he is
in an op-ed yesterday. He tore into the congresswoman, calling her charges
against Huma Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton, outrageous.

Here`s what he wrote. "Having worked for Congresswoman Bachmann`s
campaign for president, I`m fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty
with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator
Joe McCarthy level. As a member of Congress with a seat on the House
Intelligence Committee, Mrs. Bachmann, you know better." This is Rollins
speaking. "Shame on you, Michele." That`s what he`s saying. "You should
stand on the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to
Secretary Clinton and to the millions of hard-working, loyal Muslim-
Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charge."

Other Republicans, by the way, also called for Bachmann`s charges to
be withdrawn. They called them outrageous, including Senator Lindsey
Graham and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Today, by the way, the speaker of the House, John Boehner, was asked
about it. Here`s what the speaker said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don`t know Huma,
but from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character.
And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you might get the idea, Joan, if you`re someone like
Michele Bachmann with her intellect -- you might get the idea this is OK
because you hear the other guys throwing this stuff around, so you go a
little further but in kind.

I disagree with John. I think it`s in kind with what we`re getting
from these other characters. Your thoughts.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me just
start by saying Michele Bachmann is Joe McCarthy in lipstick, and she`s a
dangerous American.

And I want to start by welcoming John to a zone of decency, where
Senator John McCain took us and Ed Rollins is taking us. And Chris, the
rhetoric in this country right now is so dangerous that I think it`s
important to acknowledge that they have now staked out a lunatic fringe.
They`ve now said certain kinds of comments are beyond the pale.

That`s a good thing and we should applaud that today. And you know
that a however is coming. However...

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s something -- here`s something -- by the way,
Feehery -- I like Feehery a lot. I know what he has to do sometimes,
defend the indefensible. But in this case, he`s saying the right thing.
Michele Bachmann is off the rails.

By the way, here she is finding someone who agreed with her. She was
on today with Glenn Beck.

WALSH: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: Beck defended the congresswoman and attacked John McCain,
who he said is marching to the orders of the Muslim Brotherhood. That`s
John McCain being accused of that this time, John.

WALSH: War hero.

MATTHEWS: You got to keep up with your crowd. They`re a little
frisky out there. You got to keep up with them. Let`s listen to Glenn and
Michele.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: John McCain and all of the elephant
media are falling right in line with the Muslim Brotherhood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Michele Bachmann continued her dangerous and totally
unsubstantiated accusations against Hillary Clinton`s aide. Listen to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: She is the chief
aide for the -- for -- to the secretary of state. And we quoted from a
document -- and this has been well reported all across Arab media -- that
her father -- her late father, who is now deceased, was a part of the
Muslim Brotherhood. Her brother was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. And
her mother was a part of what`s called the Muslim sisterhood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think that document`s something from -- well, let`s just
say the irascible Frank Gaffney.

Anyway, there is absolutely no evidence that her relatives were ever
members of the Muslim Brotherhood. But why let facts get in the way of
your story? She also makes this ridiculous claim about the infiltration of
the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S. government. Let`s listen to that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: The influence today of the Muslim Brotherhood at the
highest levels, from the White House to the Pentagon to the FBI, even to
our United States military, truly is breathless (ph), and people have to
know about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I could call this a parallel universe, John Feehery,
but it`s, of course, part of the far right, not your right, but it`s out
there. How do you separate this kind of stuff from the mainstream
Republican conservativism?

FEEHERY: Well, Michele -- I was talking to several members of
Congress about this today. And you know, members of Congress look at
Michele Bachmann and they think...

MATTHEWS: There`s four other guys in this besides her.

FEEHERY: She`s -- yes, but we`re just talking about Michele Bachmann.
She`s really pushing the story because there are some other good guys in
part of that letter. But they`re wrong on this.

WALSH: Really?

FEEHERY: I think that you have to be really, really careful on these
types of attacks. And that language she`s using is so eerily parallel to
what Joe McCarthy said. And you`ve just got to be -- you know, you got to
know your history. And you cannot make these accusations without some real
hard proof. And you know, to demonize someone like Huma I think is a huge
mistake.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Joan and I were talking at dinner the other
night -- I mean, I think I brought this up. You know, you can`t turn on an
American television show, a sitcom, if you will, without at least one of
the characters, young characters, being from background from South Asia or
the Middle East. They`re sort of part of our culture now.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: But now to single out people, not in a happy way, welcoming
them to our culture, but to single them out as dangerous, the way this
character has done, this congresswoman -- and I think Ed Rollins has a
point. This is something that has to be addressed on the floor of the
House. She has to come out and say, I take this back.

Anyway, the Romney campaign (INAUDIBLE) you have any thoughts on that,
Joan, since I brought it up with you? I got another point to bring up
here.

WALSH: Well, yes, I do think they need to denounce it on the floor of
the House. And I don`t -- I don`t agree with the John. You know, I don`t
know who he`s referring to, but you know, Trent Franks, who signed the
letter -- he`s a birther. Louie Gohmert is crazy. I mean, there are some
crazy people -- Lynn Westmoreland -- who are joining her.

So it`s not -- you know, it`s easy because she is a little bit kind of
a crackpot -- I said it -- to demonize her, but she`s got some company.

And I also think that this works because the president has Muslim
family members, stepfamily members, and that they -- that this is a part of
a code about this president, about Huma Abedin, who`s a wonderful, loyal,
civil...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: ... American servant, that really needs to be denounced. But
it is only possible -- I agree with you, Chris. It`s really only possible
because the mainstream of the party thinks it`s fine to demonize our
president as un-American.

MATTHEWS: I still think Michele is a special case. I agree with
(INAUDIBLE)

WALSH: She is.

MATTHEWS: We had Michele on this show, Congresswoman Bachmann -- it`s
probably where she really made her bones politically. She came on this
show and said we have to have an investigation by the U.S. government into
the members of Congress who are un-American. And it`s an incredible -- she
runs in a strange part of the world.

Anyway, the Romney campaign committed a major distortion, by the way -
- we`ll get back to the candidate here -- to make the president sound anti-
business. Take a look at this ad. I think it`s misleading. Everybody
watch, and then we`ll watch the real thing it was taken from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you`ve been
successful, you didn`t get that on your own. You didn`t get there on your
own. I`m always struck by people who think, Well, it must be because I was
just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be
because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something.
If you got a business, that`s -- you didn`t build that. Somebody else made
that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s look at this. Let`s take a look at the actual
president`s statement here. Here, let`s take a look at this, the
president`s statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some
help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped
to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you
to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business,
that -- you didn`t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: John Feehery, the way I heard that, he`s talking about the
bridges and the roads -- "You didn`t build that." He didn`t say, You
didn`t build your own business. He said "that." And then the next
sentence (INAUDIBLE) someone else made that happen -- "that," not "your
business."

The reference is clear, and that commercial makes it look like he`s
saying, Oh, you didn`t build your business. Somebody else did. He`s
talking about the roads and the infrastructure without which you can`t make
a business work. That`s all he`s saying. Your thoughts.

FEEHERY: Well, my thoughts are that the president made a lot of those
comments -- all those comments that were quoted in the ad. But the big
thing is, it`s not about the ads, Chris. It`s about...

MATTHEWS: Well, is the ad accurate?

FEEHERY: It`s about -- yes, the ad is accurate enough, far more
accurate than most...

MATTHEWS: Accurate enough?

FEEHERY: ... far more accurate than most of the Obama ads!

MATTHEWS: Oh, come on! You`re...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is pathetic!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is flackery!

FEEHERY: Let me -- let me...

MATTHEWS: John, this is flackery!

FEEHERY: ... make this one point...

MATTHEWS: This isn`t truth!

FEEHERY: Let me -- let me...

MATTHEWS: You couldn`t take a lie detector test on what you just
said!

FEEHERY: Could I -- could -- could I make -- could I make this one
point?

MATTHEWS: No, not if you`re going to make that point again.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This is a distortion!

FEEHERY: Let me -- let me make this point...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: The point is this, Chris. The ads don`t matter. The
economy is what matters...

MATTHEWS: OK, good.

FEEHERY: ... and the president has done nothing for the economy, and
you know that!

MATTHEWS: OK. That`s a pretty good argument...

FEEHERY: You know that!

MATTHEWS: Joan, John says it`s not about the dishonesty of the Romney
campaign. Go ahead. Your thoughts.

FEEHERY: Well, and...

WALSH: It`s about -- it`s about the economy, which the stimulus did
bring back from the brink. You cannot say that this president has done
nothing for the economy, John. That`s just not true.

And there is a fundamental point in the ad and in the president`s
speech that we need to debate going up to November, and that is the
Democratic vision that we had help getting into the middle class. My
family did. Chris`s family did. Your family did, John. We had -- we had
-- we built roads. We educated people.

MATTHEWS: OK...

WALSH: We had a commitment to public universities. We had the GI
Bill. Government created the middle class, and now, Republicans are acting
like if you got there, you did it all by yourself. That`s just not true.

FEEHERY: Joan, I`m from Chicago. Listen, the government did just as
much to take away from hard-working-class families as they did -- than they
did to help build roads. There`s a lot of corruption in a lot of
government that people are rebelling...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FEEHERY: ... about and they`re sick and tired of it!

MATTHEWS: OK, well, all I can tell you is I wouldn`t have gone to
college when I went if I didn`t get government loans from the National
Defense Education Act. I got a full fellowship from the National Defense
Education Act, as well. If these acts didn`t go through, I wouldn`t be
educated. I wouldn`t be here.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So I know that part. But I did work, too. I agree with
that part.

WALSH: Right. And we`re all -- we all worked.

MATTHEWS: I think we all worked. OK, thank you, Joan.

WALSH: People all -- people work, too.

MATTHEWS: John, I know you know when you`re wrong, your voice gets
real high.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, have a nice weekend.

Coming up: Throw Momma from the train! President Obama says that`s
just what Mitt Romney plans to do with Medicare. The president today took
the Medicare issue to where it matters most politically. That`s the state
of Florida.

Also, running against Romney. We`re going to talk to the woman who
ran against him for governor of Massachusetts, Shannon O`Brien. What`s it
like, and what did she learn? We want to know that.

Plus, Jeff Daniels, star of HBO`s great new series "The Newsroom,"
joins us live tonight in our newsroom, the real thing this time.

And the oddest of odd couples, Newt and Snooki. I never heard of
Snooki, but they`re face to face the other day. We got to watch that one
in action. He wanted to talk about animals again. More -- here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Newt, Snooki, Snooki, Newt.

SNOOKI: I know!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a deal.

SNOOKI: What up?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: More to that in the "Sideshow."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s hear it for "Game Change." The HBO movie about
the 2008 election has been nominated for -- get this -- 12 Emmy Awards.
Among the nominees, Julianne Moore, of course, for her portrayal of Sarah
Palin, the great Woody Harrelson, who played Republican strategist Steve
Schmidt, Ed Harris for his portrayal of the candidate himself, Senator John
McCain. They all deserve it.

The movie, of course, was based on the best-selling book by two
HARDBALL regulars, I`m glad to say, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Congratulations to all, especially the creators of that great story.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing to my momma?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making a wish! What the hell do you think I`m
doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Whoa! Throwing momma from the train. Welcome to HARDBALL.
That famous scene from the 1987 movie "Throw Momma From the Train" may well
be the movie equivalent of what life as a senior would be like in a Romney
presidency. The Ryan budget plan, which Romney supports, would decimate
Medicare, a point driven home with some exaggeration by this famous, well,
ad. Let`s listen to this ad.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Strong images there, wouldn`t you say? Well, today in
Florida, President Obama opened a new front in his fight against Romney,
making sure voters know Romney would end Medicare as we know it --
basically, that he`d throw momma from the train.

But let`s listen. This is serious business. This is not just comedy
here. Romney`s plan is the Ryan plan. The Ryan plan gets rid of Medicare
and replaces it with some kind of a voucher program, which could put you in
a precarious position if you have health needs. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: He plans to roll back health care reform, forcing more than
200,000 Floridians to pay more for their prescription drugs. He plans to
turn Medicare into a voucher program. So if that voucher isn`t worth
enough to buy the health insurance that`s on the market, you`re out of
luck. You`re on your own.

One independent nonpartisan study found that seniors would have to pay
nearly $6,400 more for Medicare than they do today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Dee Dee was former White House press secretary to
Bill Clinton and a contributing editor to "Vanity Fair." Eugene Robinson
is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" and an
MSNBC political analyst.

By the way, Eugene, if I got a Pulitzer Prize, I would never stop
saying it forever.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you for coming. And I don`t think I`m going
to get one obviously.

But let`s talk about this. Gene, let`s get through the analysis here.
It seems like it`s fair. It`s tough. The advertising, over the top, you
might argue, but it`s fair in this sense. Romney has bought into the Ryan
plan. Ryan gets lots of kudos for guts, but his plan does do what the
president says it would do, right?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, it does. It
would turn Medicare into a voucher program.

It is fair to say, in my view, that it would end Medicare as we know
it. It would create something else that would be called Medicare, but it
wouldn`t be the program we know. This is pretty much a fundamental
question, I think, whether you make Medicare into a voucher program, or you
keep it as an entitlement.

And I believe the polls show that most people want to keep it the way
it is. They don`t want it to be a voucher program.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, they love it.

ROBINSON: And it`s perfectly fair game.

MATTHEWS: Gene, you and I know people on Medicare, our parents, aunts
and uncles and some of our older brothers. They love it, because for the
first time in their life, they get something for the all the work they did.

Dee Dee, let me ask you about this. Everybody says cut the budget,
cut spending. And it`s a good idea. We have a big deficit. Or how about
just cutting the deficit through different taxation policies? But the
minute you get to the reality of these cuts, and here we are. You like the
Ryan cuts, you like him cutting things?

Well, here`s what he`s cutting. Medicare. Go ahead and explain it.
Defend it. I think that`s the problem that Romney`s going to have between
now and November.

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right.

And the broader question that you just raised is, we have a deficit,
we have a debt. These have become problematic and everybody agrees with
that. And then you get into the details of who`s ox are you going to gore
and whose are you going to protect in order to do something about that?

Are you going to go after the most vulnerable, as the Ryan budget
does? It cuts not only Medicare, but also things like education and other
important spending that helps the most vulnerable, or are you going to
provide tax cuts for the rich or will you preserve some of those programs
in order to try to move towards a society where everybody has an equal shot
and everybody has a chance?

These are -- they`re going to say that, oh, the president`s trying to
scare people, but this isn`t just an important issue. It`s central to the
philosophical differences, the philosophical divide that separates Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney. So you`re going to hear a lot about it, and on top
of that, of course the research shows that it is pretty effective with
seniors.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the realities here, as again,
Gene, it`s good to talk the fact you`re going to be a different kind of
president than Obama, and then you have to explain what that means. You`re
not just a relief pitcher coming in, in a difficult part of the game.

You`re coming in with a totally different approach. It seems to me if
he`s going to cut taxes further for corporations, he`s going to keep the
Bush tax cuts for the wealthy all the way through and make them permanent,
he has to come up with some cuts on the other side or he`s going to
increase the deficits.

And it looks like these are the cuts. This is what`s going to pay for
the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the corporate tax cuts.

ROBINSON: Absolutely.

And Mitt Romney has not spelled out precisely what he would cut. When
he talks about reforming the tax code, he hasn`t spelled out what loopholes
he would close, for example. You want to close -- you want to start taxing
health benefits? Do you want to end the mortgage interest deduction?

Those are the big things that you could do with the tax code that
would bring in more money. So you got to be specific. And I agree that
you can`t run all the way to the White House by just saying I`m going to do
it right, without spelling out how you`re going to do it.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at these.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Dee Dee.

MYERS: I was going to add that it`s also important to note that the
Ryan budget doesn`t balance the budget any time in the foreseeable future.
In fact, it adds hundreds of billions of dollars of additional debt.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Well, let`s take a look at these new polls. Now, these are really
tricky and it is why I keep saying to myself you can`t predict this
election. Here we go.

The "New York Times" and CBS News poll, and we get the FOX News and
National Public Radio poll even, and they show Romney actually with a
margin of error ratio here 47-46 for Romney, according to "Times"/CBS 45-41
Romney -- actually Obama -- according to the FOX poll, 47-45 Obama.

What do you make of these, Gene, when you put them all together? I
see nothing but within the margin of error here on all of them.

ROBINSON: That`s certainly what these polls show.

And, look, if you take the run of the last few months worth of polls,
it`s either a margin of error race or Obama is slightly ahead. That`s what
the polls tend to say. And I think that`s probably right. And it could be
that way all the way to Election Day. Or something -- events might cause
it to break one way or the other.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: But, right now, you would have to say it`s a close race.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So what happens if we don`t have a war with Iran or Israel
doesn`t have a war we get involved with, with Iran, Europe doesn`t come
apart, and the unemployment rate stays about where it is and the growth
rate stays about where it is?

Are we looking at election night like this, which is basically within
the margin of error, in other words, another hell to pay 2000, where we
wait all night and still have a disputed election?

Pick it up, Dee Dee. That`s what I`m looking at. I`m looking at
election where either guy wins so narrowly, we will be screeching for the
rest of our lives about the Pennsylvania voter I.D. requirement, where all
these old people had to go have -- suppose the election turns on one state
like it did last time in Ohio in 2004, and it`s because of some new voter
I.D. law that made it impossible for older people to get to the polls?

What are we at then?

MYERS: That`s entirely possible and it`s also impossible that there
will be some intervening event less than say a war with Iran or something
that will begin to define these things.

And sometimes, there`s a cumulative drip, drip, drip. One of the
things people were saying about the polls today was it showed that the
Obama attacks on Bain weren`t really landing. They weren`t really changing
the dynamic of the race.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MYERS: And truth is it`s really too soon to say what the cumulative
effect of the arguments, not just the specifics of the Bain, but the
arguments more broadly about what does it say about Romney`s priorities and
his character?

In 2004, the Bush people or their agents who weren`t working for the
Bush people started the attacks, the swift boat attacks in May. and John
Kerry led during the entire run of those ads, which was May through the end
of August. You didn`t start to see his favorables kind of shrink until
after that, but the cumulative damage from these ads was very clear.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MYERS: You don`t know what the cumulative effect of the attacks on
Romney or, vice versa, the attacks -- if the economy remains bad, and
people just decide they have had it -- I don`t think that`s going to
happen.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I do believe -- excuse me, we got to go.

Dee Dee, do you believe they`re now accusing the Democrats of swift
boating? They`re using the word or being Nixonian with their enemies list.

MYERS: How dare you use our tactics against us?

MATTHEWS: They have no irony, these people.

Anyway, thank you, Dee Dee. Have a nice weekend. Thank you, Eugene
Robinson.

MYERS: Thanks. You, too. Bye.

MATTHEWS: Up next: in this corner, the former Speaker of the House
Newt Gingrich, in this corner, Snooki. That can only mean one thing. The
"Sideshow" about to come.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Bush made some news yesterday in his
interview when he praised Mitt Romney. And I was shocked by how quickly
they made his Romney endorsement into a campaign ad.

This was fast. Take a look.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I`m
interested in politics. I`m -- you know, I`m a supporter of Mitt Romney.
I hope he does well.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m Barack Obama, and I
approve this message.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, former President Bush`s first Romney endorsement of
course came back in May. As a set of elevator doors were closing on him,
the former president, he said to a reporter, "I`m for Mitt Romney." That`s
how grand that was.

Anyway, moving on with the "Sideshow," Newt, meet Snooki. No joke.
That`s exactly what happened in last night`s "Tonight Show." The former
speaker of the House wound up on the couch next to the star of "Jersey
Shore."

What could they have possibly bantered about? Well, between books,
parties, strippers and alcohol, let`s just say a lot of ground was covered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Newt, Snooki.

Snooki, Newt.

NICOLE ELIZABETH "SNOOKI" POLIZZI, "JERSEY SHORE": I know.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What a deal.

POLIZZI: What up?

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Congratulations on having two "New York Times" bestsellers.

POLIZZI: Thank you. I`m trying to be like you.

GINGRICH: No.

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: So how about Jionni? Will he have a big bachelor party? Will
there be wheeled-out strippers and things like that?

POLIZZI: Oh, yes, Jionni -- yes.

LENO: Yes. Yes.

POLIZZI: I feel like the guy should have strippers. You`re going to
be married to the same girl your whole life, so enjoy it.

LENO: Yes.

POLIZZI: Did you have strippers?

LENO: Did you have strippers at your...

GINGRICH: No.

LENO: No?

POLIZZI: No?

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: Do you drink, Newt, by the way?

GINGRICH: Sometimes.

LENO: Yes. Yes.

POLIZZI: Good for you.

LENO: When was the last time you just got wasted? Was there a time
you just...

GINGRICH: Thinking about coming on this show.

LENO: Thinking about coming on this show.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Newt tweeted before the interview that he hoped
Snooki lived -- or actually liked zoos and animals. We know that story.
They didn`t quite get to that one, however.

They got to it here, though. He loves that stuff.

And we have heard this question more than a few times about some of
Mitt Romney`s potential running mates. Are they just too dull? Well, Tim
Pawlenty went on a new level -- went to a new level to show some flash in a
FOX interview just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: You are considered at least by the Romneys, we
are told -- sir, this could be wrong -- safe, reliable, steady as she goes,
nothing too flashy, dare I say dull.

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Now, if you goad me into
it, I will shows my tats.

(LAUGHTER)

PAWLENTY: I am not as flashy as some, but compared to some others, I
think I am right in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s going to show us his tats?

Is it this bad you have to talk like this? Anyway, I think it`s going
to be Pawlenty, by the way. That`s my pick. He`s going to be the running
mate.

Finally, Will Ferrell -- Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are
promoting their soon-to-be-released movie "The Campaign." And they will be
joining us here on HARDBALL to talk about the importance of my role in that
movie. Just kidding.

Last night, they announced the Cubs lineup at Wrigley Field. Here
they go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Batting third and playing first base,
ironically, he`s not Italian, number 44, Anthony Rizzo.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, ACTOR: Batting sixth and playing catcher, in his
spare time, he`s an accountant at a styrofoam cooler company, number 18,
Geovany Soto.

FERRELL: And pitching today`s game with a record of 6-8, he leads the
league with 450 strikeouts, number 29, Jeff Samard-zi-zi-jabada.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis playing HARDBALL
coming up here soon. They were in the Second City right then.

Up next, you have seen him on HBO`s "The Newsroom" as Will McAvoy,
cable news anchor. In a moment, he will be here, a real cable news show,
to talk about his show. Jeff Daniels joins us live here in a minute.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Well, the Dow gains 34 points, the S&P up by three and the Nasdaq
adding 23 points. After the closing bell, Internet giant Google reported
earnings that beat estimates, but revenue was light.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is out with its first quarterly loss as a public
company. On the economic front, weekly jobless claims rose by 34,000 last
week. And existing home sales were weak in June, falling 5.4 percent, but
sale prices were still up over a year ago.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Jeff Daniels is the star of Aaron Sorkin`s great new HBO show "The
Newsroom." He plays a cable news anchor who suddenly goes from a
dispassionate, disengaged news reader to someone who inserts himself
forcefully into the middle of the political debate.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NEWSROOM")

JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR: The health care law hasn`t taken effect yet.
TARP was signed into law by George W. Bush. Name me the freedoms that you
had the day before President Obama was sworn in that you don`t have today.

What is someone supposed to do with a bleeding Mexican? What state,
what city, what county in this country is in danger of falling under Sharia
law? Tea Party candidate Allen West. Tea Party candidate Michele
Bachmann. Tea Party candidate Tom Graves, Tim Griffin, Sean Duffy, Jeff
Duncan. No, ma`am, pregnancy rose over that period.

The largest demographic of Americans living in poverty are children.
Abolishing the minimum wage would create jobs. You know what else would?
Slavery. The public school system has failed you, as did three of your
college professors. It`s going to come down, as it always does, to who
shows up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Jeff Daniels, thank you for joining us.

I just have to ask, why do I like this guy so much? This guy...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Why do I love him?

DANIELS: I don`t know. He`s just -- you know what, Chris? He`s sick
and tired of the same old same old. He`s sick and tired of being marketed
and spun to.

And he`s just going, you know what, we`re going to cut through it all
and bore in on the truth. And regardless of what he finds, that`s what
he`s going for. And so...

MATTHEWS: You start off like -- almost like a Jerry Springer, not
that -- I like Jerry Springer personally, but he`s a guy that puts on the
left and the right. They engage in a dogfight. He enjoys it. He`s not
really that interested in the truth or in news or anything, except making a
buck.

DANIELS: Exactly. He loves the money. He loves the ratings. He
loves -- he loves being loved. His friends are people on the other side of
that lens. And he`s very comfortable there. He`s got a great living.
He`s got a great salary, and -- but he`s not being the journalist that he
could be and at a time when he could be doing something to serve the
country, to serve his own newscast and career, he gets pushed by Mackenzie
McHale, his executive producer, into doing just that.

MATTHEWS: You know, what`s really real about it, and I`ve been
talking to all my producers about we all work together all day, is that
it`s like that. You get a sense that what gets on the air is only the tip
of the iceberg, that what`s gone on all day among you and your EP, you have
to work together, there`s a little conflict there sometimes. It`s working
together with another ego, you and the EP, putting the show together. And
then with all the other producers doing their thing, the conflicts, the
arguments, the great synergism or lack of it is going all day.

I understand that would be a great show and you`re putting it on.

DANIELS: Yes. It`s interesting for me having done the whole first
season now to -- you know, you guys know -- whether it`s you guys or over
on FOX or CNN, it doesn`t matter.

MATTHEWS: It does matter.

DANIELS: It does matter, but you guys know that if you cover a
certain subject in a certain way, your ratings are going to spike up. If
you back off it, if you don`t cover that subject, your ratings are going to
go down. And that discussion has had.

When we did a screening in New York recently that you attended, there
were a lot of journalist, a lot of producers, guys who have been in the
field for decades and they said, I hope to God that you guys are dealing
with those of us who fight the fight every day, to try to hang on to the
ideals of journalism -- and you see it.

I mean, it`s not like we`re out trying to whitewash all of cable
news. We`re trying to shine a light on the people that are really trying
to tell the truth and get out the truth every day.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s our fight every day to get the facts straight
because you don`t have a corrections page in these kinds of programs, you
got to get it right live. Here`s an example, by the way, of Aaron
Sorkin`s, I think, brilliant dialogue. It`s a scene from next week`s
episode.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELS: Make you cry, they don`t themselves experience emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way you experience emotion when you watch
"Rudy".

DANIELS: One scene, one line, once in a while (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Jersey scene?

DANIELS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody cries at the Jersey scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never saw it.

DANIELS: You haven`t seen "Rudy"? What were you doing when everyone
else was living their lives?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My homework.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My homework.

I didn`t believe I`d be the only one to say that. I thought I have
the safety of the mob.

DANIELS: Listen up, because it`s Rudy`s last chance to dress for a
game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I shouldn`t have started this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NCAA rules only allow a certain amount of players
to be in uniform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the list goes up, Rudy`s name was left off
it. And the list for the last game goes up, Rudy`s name was left off of it
again.

DANIELS: Four years of futility. First, he`s got to make the grade
to get in to the school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s going to make the practice squad.

DANIELS: He`s getting creamed by guys twice his size, but doesn`t
care, because it`s all about the team. And all he wants is he just wants
to be on the list to dress for a game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Who`s that really good looking young guy playing Martin on
that scene? I keep coming across him, Jeff.

DANIELS: Some kid we hired off the street.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, it`s my son. Here he is, I love that picture.
He`s doing great.

Look, I`m going to ask you about how you think, you must have --
besides doing a good acting job, but I love Emily Mortimer and the rest of
your crew -- what do you think you can get done if you run four or five
years like "West Wing"? What do you think will change in my business, our
business here in MSNBC? What will change?

DANIELS: Maybe a more engaged -- I don`t know about your business,
but I do know that maybe the people watching you and others will get more
engaged. I mean, you use the word disengaged for Will McAvoy.

I think the country`s disengaged. I think for a lot of reasons. We
have the attention span of a gnat and we`re instantly gratified and can`t
seem to focus.

And this country is too important. This is an election year. There
are too many things going on that matter, and programs like this and others
are dealing with that and yet, you talk to people and you feel like
sometimes they`re not paying attention.

If "The Newsroom" drives people from 20-somethings on up to paying
attention more, to being engaged more, to getting more informed, then I
think we`ve done a good thing.

MATTHEWS: You know what I love about this show, people argued about
it, some don`t like it, those who do like it, that`s more of the people --
they all say I can`t wait until next week.

DANIELS: Yes, we love the haters, we love the lovers, as long as
they have a Nielsen box in our TV, we don`t care.

MATTHEWS: The buzz is big. Thank you very much, Jeff Daniels.
Remember, by the way, "The Newsroom" is on Sunday nights on HBO.

Up next, running against Romney, Shannon O`Brien ran and lost to Mitt
Romney 10 years ago. But she learned a lot and she`s going to share with
us in a minute the stuff that might help President Obama right now.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Yet another indication of just how close this presidential
election night might be. Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.

A Quinnipiac poll shows that Mitt Romney has caught President Obama
in Virginia. The two are tied 44-all in that incredibly close state. Back
in March, the president led Romney by eight in the state of Virginia, 50-
42. Now, it`s even.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Running for recollection against Mitt Romney is no easy feat and the
techniques he`s employing right now against President Obama are one he`s
honed in past elections. One former Massachusetts candidate knows exactly
what it`s like to face against Romney, Shannon O`Brien, a former state
treasurer of that state was Romney`s Democratic opponent in 2002 race for
governor. She lost by five points after winning a four-way Democratic
primary. She knows Romney`s playbook. She joins us right now.

Shannon, thank you so much for joining us. I just want to put this
to you. Take a couple of minutes.

You`re sitting at dinner with President Obama. He invites you
upstairs to the White House. He says, I need some time with you. Tell me
what I need to know when I face this guy in a debate.

What do you say?

SHANNON O`BRIEN, RAN AGAINST ROMNEY IN 2002: I think the most
important thing is to really focus on his values because I think that for -
- you know, it`s almost 20-some-odd years now that Romney has been running
for higher office and I think it`s really the values that are lacking there
and I think that`s what they`re trying to do. I think that`s what this
whole thing about Bain is and his record at Bain. It`s what I tried to do
in 2002 -- is really talk about values.

There`s a difference between someone who cares about middle class
people, who cares about investing in the infrastructure and the educational
system so that all people have a chance to do well. That`s what I`d tell
him.

MATTHEWS: What would you say to make it relevant to people? How
does the president make it relevant to people that he was a swashbuckling,
even ruthless business guy who made a huge amount of money quickly because
he was willing to push the edges, pushed the envelope, maybe cost people
their jobs, lots of them.

How does that affect the average person right now? I`m asking you
how to tell the president what to do in this kind of a debate. How is it
relevant he may have been an SOB as a business guy? Relate it.

O`BRIEN: Well, I guess that`s your characterization. The point I
tried to make 10 years ago is when you have someone focused on personal
profits rather than looking at the real stories of people. You have to
have empathy. I think that was one of the things we`ve seen in the
beginning of the campaign, is I really think that there is a lack of
empathy on Mitt Romney`s part.

I mean, the whole story about the race cars and some of these other
things, that -- you know, he kind of knows these people when he`s trying to
seem like a regular guy, I think that he does lack empathy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

O`BRIEN: And that lack of empathy leads not only into his business
practices but more importantly for the people of this country, the lack of
empathy will lead into how he invests in the future for the majority of the
people in this country.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s now, one of the biggest issues in the campaign,
at least right now, which is what role he played in outsourcing all those
jobs overseas, basically costing Americans their jobs by sending those jobs
overseas? The discussion we`re having now is about Bain, and what he did
at Bain Capital, and whether he oversaw the company`s migration towards
outsourcing. This is critical on the campaign right now.

You hit him with that line of attack in 2002, 10 years ago, in the
Massachusetts governor`s debate. Let`s watch you in action against Mitt on
the very issue of Bain Capital and outsourcing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`BRIEN: The fact is you were still signing documents as CEO of the
company while you were away. And as a matter of fact, in the summer of
2001, when you were leaving the Olympics, you actually made a statement in
the paper that in the summer of 2001, you were relinquishing control of
your position within Bain.

And so, apparently, you hadn`t relinquished beforehand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Did that help you in the campaign? Did it mean much to
voters? Did you nail him for having been responsible at least technically
for costing all those jobs?

O`BRIEN: I didn`t nail him because he basically said I was not
telling the truth. And ultimately, at that point in time, it was -- you
know, we were getting outspent close to 3-1 in those final weeks and months
of the campaign. So, trying to make that point wasn`t as easy.

And I also think it was more difficult for us because people had
heard some of this before. I think they kind of understood it, because Ted
Kennedy had raised some of the same issues in the 1994 election. It worked
for Ted Kennedy, but I think people were maybe giving him a pass or, you
know, or what -- I don`t really know.

But I don`t think it was at effective. But I think now it`s more
effective for an audience, a national audience of people who really haven`t
seen that sort of set of values or that hypocrisy, if you will.

MATTHEWS: He seems to enjoy the formality of a debate, Mitt. He`s a
formal guy. It seems to be my advice -- what do you think of telling the
president you`ve got to loosen this up a bit? You got to be a little fast
and loosen your debate style.

If you get formal like him, very stiff like he does, he wins on that
platform. Obama.

O`BRIEN: The thing I`ve noticed and I think -- again, during my
campaign and other places, I think he has a very tough time when he`s
unscripted.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

O`BRIEN: The times where he`s made most of his mace takes is going
off message. I think the more President Obama can actually have a
conversation and get him to go off script and to engage him on a personal
level, I think that will perhaps benefit the president.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you completely, Shannon O`Brien, so much. I
completely agree, because if this is just a battle of rehearsed lines,
Romney could win this thing. He`s pretty good. He could memorize as well
as anybody can.

O`BRIEN: I think Obama is going to have to show his heart versus
Romney`s heart. And ultimately, that core -- that set of values and that
empathy, and I think that that`s going to be ultimately this comes down to.
And Bain is just setting the table for that.

MATTHEWS: Well, call up David Axelrod and get an appointment. It
sounds like you know what you`re doing.

Thank you very much, Shannon O`Brien of Massachusetts.

When we return, let me finish what we just talked about the show this
segment before about his new show, "Newsroom" and how it really connected
with me who`s here every night.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. "The Newsroom", the hot,
new HBO show that`s gotten all the buzz these days started with a talk show
host like me denying this is the greatest country in the world. He quotes
all kinds of statistics about math scores and the health facts and I get
the point.

Here`s what I think -- I think if you watch the kind of movies and TV
shows Aaron Sorkin has created, from "A Few Good Men", to "An American
President", to "West Wing", and "The Social Network", and "Moneyball," you
find a common string. It`s people trying to improve on what they`ve
inherited. They`re never trying to match up to what came before. They`re
trying to break through to something better, smarter, truer -- something
that`s not just state of the art but powerful deserves to be.

Well, every day on this show, HARDBALL, we, the producers, and try to
come up with not just what happened today but what it says, not just the
news and the analysis, but a new way of presenting it. We`re determined
never to do this week what we could have done last week, never to look like
any other show. And that includes the shows you`re loyal to right here on
this New York.

This is why people are watching "The Newsroom" on HBO because they
don`t know where it`s going. What they`re captivated with is the
determination to take us somewhere new and better. It`s what happens here
every day -- the give-and-take between executive producer and host, the
effort of all the producers to do something really good. All this day-long
struggle and, yes, clash of views to get something on that informs,
exposes, and ignites.

And in the words of the guy who started this kind of show, the great
Martin Nagransky (ph), sharpens the issue. Let`s walk away and tell others
as exactly as possible what the arguments are all about, what this country
of ours -- as least the interested, attentive people -- have on their minds
about where we`re headed.

So, I salute Aaron Sorkin for humbly suggesting this country can work
harder at being what they it claims to be while at the same time being in
his creative efforts exactly the sort of person that makes us so
wonderfully close to being as good as we say we are.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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