1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 8/1/2012 9:37:29 AM ET 2012-08-01T13:37:29

Guests: Jonathan Martin, Glen Johnson, Simon Marks, Barney Frank, Will
Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Road rage.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with Mitt Romney`s bumpy adventure. Before
this week, his most infamous trip out of the country was when he roped the
family dog to the roof. No more. And after trashing the Brits` Olympics,
then degrading the Arabs, we figured there`d be worse trouble coming in
Poland. And boy, we were right.

Here`s the word from Romney`s spokesman on that leg of the trip. Hold
your ears. This is official. "Kiss my -- " he yelled to the reporters
asking for a word from the candidate. He yelled at the other one, "Shove
it." These are his people speaking for Mitt Romney.

Anyway, is this the message for Mr. and Mrs. North America and all the
ships at sea, "Kiss my -- " and "Shove it"?

Well, talk about a bad audition. His people wanted to show how well
he`d behave overseas. So who is the character we`ve seen the last week,
the one we`ve discovered out there in the country or the world, Mitt Romney
or Don Rickles?

Tonight, before I welcome Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to the
show, let`s talk about the latest crazy road trip of Mitt Romney`s.
Jonathan Martin is with Politico. He was part of the traveling press corps
covering Mitt Romney on that foreign trip. He joins from us Poland. Glen
Johnson is "The Boston Globe`s" politics reporter. And with me here in the
studio is Simon Marks, the chief correspondent for Feature Story News.

Jonathan Martin -- J-Mar -- I know you don`t like to get into this,
but let`s talk about the fact you`re on the spot, you`ve got dateline
integrity, you`re looking good. Here`s the now infamous dust-up in Warsaw.

Early this morning, reporters covering Romney tried to shout questions
to the governor as he got into his motorcade. Romney had only answered
three questions from the press corps during the entire three-country trip.
His spokesman made it clear he wasn`t answer any more than those three.

Let`s watch what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Governor Romney!

QUESTION: ... some of the mishaps on your trip?

QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you have a statement for the
Palestinians?

QUESTION: What about your gaffes?

QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have
overshadowed your foreign trip?

RICK GORKA, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PRESS AIDE: ... holy site for the Polish
people. Show some respect.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, just a few questions...

GORKA: Show some respect here.

QUESTION: We haven`t had another chance to ask him questions.

GORKA: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) This is a holy site for the Polish
people. Show some respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that going to go down in history in the Bartlett`s
quotations, "Kiss my" -- you know the rest of it -- and "This is a holy
site." Putting those two thoughts together is pretty hard for most people.

Jonathan, what did you fellows and women think when you heard in the
press corps that conjunction of words, "Kiss my" followed by "This is a
holy site"?

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO: Well, I think it reflects the frustration
on Governor Romney`s staff because, you know, they`re trying to do their
job and sort of corral us.

But look, we have a job to do, too, in the press corps. And that is
to, for our readers, get answers for a candidate for president of the
United States. And the fact is that he had not given any real time to the
traveling press corps in a question-and-answer session, a traditional press
conference like many candidates do and like President Obama did four years
ago when he was then Senator Obama.

And so we have no choice but to yell questions, when we have an
opportunity, to the candidate when he`s walking to his motorcade after he
finishes a public event. It`s unfortunate that it got to that. But look,
this is what happens when we`re trying to get answers and there`s no
opportunity to ask Governor Romney questions in a traditional question-and-
answer press conference.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know what it looks like when you watch him here -
- I`m sitting here with Simon Marks of Feature Story News -- when you`re
with -- when you`re watching Romney on the road, he looks like one of those
robots in the Hall of the Presidents down at Disney World. They stand up,
they walk very robotically. They don`t -- they only talk the thing they
always say over and over again to the tourists coming by.

He doesn`t look like he wants to engage with any human being on this -
- why`d he go overseas if he doesn`t want to meet anybody?

SIMON MARKS, FEATURE STORY NEWS: Well, he went overseas in part, of
course, particularly with -- with the Middle Eastern trip in mind, to try
and shore up his support back home with American Jewish folks.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And evangelicals, yes.

MARKS: But there are real issues for him to address and be questioned
about. The speech that he made, with the historic Old City of Jerusalem
behind him, suggesting that he supports the move of the capital to
Jerusalem, then has questions that result from it about, Does that mean you
want to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?

There are real issues that arise out of that, that he`s not giving
members of the traveling press corps an opportunity to ask him about.

MARTIN: There`s no political down side, though. Yes, there`s no
political down side there, though, Chris, for a Republican candidate for
president who`s trying to cut into the Jewish vote to, you know, come off
as pandering to American Jews. That`s all up side for him.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MARTIN: Look, I understand the view may be different overseas. But
politically, for Romney, Jerusalem was the best stop, I think, because he
wants to get 35 percent, perhaps even higher, of the Jewish vote in
America. You can`t be too pro-Israel if that`s what your goal is. So that
was the least of his problems, I think, overseas.

His larger challenge was the fact that, look, he has a problem with
context in and with setting and doesn`t understand the impact of his words
sometimes, most vividly displayed when he was talking about the Olympics
and the U.K.`s preparation for the Olympics and hurt himself for the first
two, three days of this trip.

MATTHEWS: Well, going over -- I want to get to Glen Johnson. I do
not want to get into the politics in the Middle East. It`s too tricky
right now. But going over there and pandering the way he did, anybody, a
3-year-old could do that. It`s not whether he can pander, it`s whether
he`s got the acuity, as you said, Jonathan, to know what he`s talking
about, the nuances of these very tricky situations which are going to be
going on when we`re all 100 years old. We`re still going to fighting about
the Middle East. And you don`t start wars and you don`t start trouble.

Anybody can pander. Can he think? And can he answer questions on the
spot? That`s my question.

GLEN JOHNSON, "BOSTON GLOBE": Well, the issue, too, also, is that he
had a good story to tell going over to London. He was the guy that
resurrected the 2002 Olympic winter games in Salt Lake City, and he talked
about none of that in London. He ended up talking about -- you know,
defending himself in these questions about the -- London`s preparations and
not about the positive lessons that he drew out of his Olympic experience
himself. And so there was a huge missed opportunity.

As Jonathan said, the opportunity going into Jerusalem was to lay out
a foreign policy vision, and yet there, he detracted completely from that
speech with a conversation and comment that he made in a private fund-
raiser.

So the big touchstone moments, including today in Warsaw, where he
wanted to do another foreign policy speech looking to the east, he also was
-- that was overshadowed with Rick Gorka`s comments. So at each point
where he tried to lay substance or had substantive to talk about, it got
overshadowed by his own deed or word.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s take a look -- not surprisingly, Democrats having
a lot of fun with the Romney trip.

MARTIN: Hey, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Former Obama -- let me just do this -- chief of staff Rahm
Emanuel said this of Romney to "The LA Times" yesterday. Quote, "At every
level, this trip has shown more of how Mitt Romney is not ready for the
Oval Office. I don`t know how he`ll handle the head of state job. He`s
made a mess of being a tourist."

Well, that`s their Democratic shot at him for his conduct this trip.
Jonathan?

MARTIN: Yes, Chris, I think Glen`s got it right. The biggest
surprise to me was why in the heck the Romney folks did not try to take
more advantage of his good news story about saving the Salt Lake games in
`02?

I thought that was the chief reason, besides going to Israel for day
and getting a picture with Bibi, that he was going on this trip, was to
remind Americans, Look, I`m not just some rich corporate tycoon. I also
saved the `02 Olympics in America.

He didn`t air any ads about that. There was no effort (ph) with the
press corps in London to remind us about that. It was baffling that he did
not seize that opportunity more. And I think, to me, that is perhaps the
biggest missed opportunity of this trip.

MATTHEWS: I think, in sports terms, you have a big 10 schedule. You
got 11 or 12 games, right? And you think you got the easy one. This was
the easy one and he wasn`t up for it, ironically.

Let`s take a look at the interview that Carl Cameron had with Romney -
- of Fox News, of course. Romney took on the press on this and coverage of
his trip. And that`s to be expected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I realize that
-- that there will be some in the fourth estate or whichever estate who are
far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated
to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of
conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They`ll
instead trying to find -- try and find anything else to divert from the
fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Maybe if he`d said something about geopolitics and
something deep, people would have reported it.

MARKS: I think he had an opportunity to change the subject and get
people to ask him substantive questions. If you look at what he said in
Poland a few hours ago, he slammed Vladimir`s Putin`s stewardship of
Russia, he slammed the repressive brutality of Alexander Lukashenko, who
runs Belarus. No one`s talking about that tonight.

MATTHEWS: Why does he act...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why does he do this macho man thing? He`s never been in
the military. He`s never been in a schoolyard fight. He`s not some tough
-- this metaphorical foreign policy drives me crazy. He always wants to
fight, and yet he doesn`t have any knowledge of fighting. He wants
somebody else to fight. He wants another war front.

MARKS: Well, he`s using the backdrop of Poland, where battles have
been waged in the past against repressive regimes, to try and raise the
issue that there are still repressive regimes at work in parts of Europe.
But he`s got no opportunity to get that message across because of now the
fundamentally...

MATTHEWS: OK...

MARKS: ... corrosive nature of his relationship...

MATTHEWS: OK...

MARKS: ... with his own press corps.

MATTHEWS: I think the easiest position for him to take on every front
is to be more aggressive, more tough on foreign policy, at least in words,
than the president, Glenn. It doesn`t show intelligence. It doesn`t show
guts. He hasn`t once said, Obama`s right on this one. He never once says,
I would be more moderate than him on this one. He`s always to the right.
It`s the same old Tea Party crap. Go to the right, go to the right, go to
the right. It`s safe over there. Your thoughts, Glen?

JOHNSON: Well, it reminds me of where we were four years ago. I
actually flew on a trip with then Senator Obama from Chicago to Andrews Air
Force Base, where he got on his plane to fly over to Afghanistan for his
first trip there.

And at the time, there was a real question about his preparation to
handle foreign policy. And I think, you know, White House is emphasizing
his anti-terrorism moves since then, getting Osama bin Laden and all that.
And you see now with Mitt Romney, that same unfamiliarity with foreign
affairs.

And when you`re fed a script like he is, where he goes to Jerusalem
and says things that he hasn`t really internalized yet, or he goes to
Poland and says things that he hasn`t really internalized yet, you know,
you see some level of timidness there or uncertainty.

And it comes off in just the body English that you talked about
earlier in the show. You know, he`s brought out there, he says these
things, and then he walks to the car. And when questions are thrown at
him, he doesn`t want to deviate from that because he`s leaving his comfort
zone there of the script that had been put in front of him.

And so I think this whole trip just underlines for him that domestic
policy and jobs, as you heard him just talk about, are where he wants to
fight this campaign. Foreign affairs is still a new territory for him.

MATTHEWS: OK, a lot of Republicans are saying he shouldn`t have gone
on the trip, he would have been better staying home.

Anyway, Jonathan Martin, thank you for coming back, coming to us from
Poland. Glen Johnson, thank you, and Simon Marks.

Coming up, gay marriage. Democrats look like they are ready to
endorse same-sex marriage nationally in their party platform. And guess
what? Republicans can`t wait for this. In fact, one of them said, or
actually asked, It`s politically correct, but is it politically smart?

Also, in the last few days, a couple Republicans, as I said, have come
forward to say their party has lurched so far to the right these days, it`s
out of control.

And speaking out of control, get ready for this. Rush Limbaugh has
concluded, in his depth of knowledge, that the Olympics opening ceremony
was a socialist tribute to President Obama. Only in the land of ditto-
heads and only in the "Sideshow." Coming up.

Finally, a special treat tonight. Will Ferrell, as I said, and Zach
Galifianakis join us to talk politics and about their new movie, "The
Campaign." You don`t want to miss that, coming up soon here.

This is HARDBALL, place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New poll numbers from two key states. Let`s check the
HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

Starring in Pennsylvania, where President Obama`s lead is down to 3
points in a new Susquehanna poll, 46 to 43. But keep in mind the Obama
campaign must be looking at other polling because they`re feeling good
enough to have pulled their TV ads in the Keystone State, at least for now.

In Florida, a new PPP poll puts the race at 1 point now, Obama up by
1, 48-47. And a third poll now from Missouri, a state that has been
trending Republican in recent elections. A new Mason/Dixon poll shows Mitt
Romney leading President Obama 51-42.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Will the 2012 Democratic
platform endorse same-sex marriage? Well, the party`s platform drafting
committee took the first step this weekend, recommending that it be
included. Next comes the tricky part, the wording. Will the plank call
for a federal law covering all Americans, or endorse a state-by-state
approach?

Trickier still is how this will play with voters. Some Democrats
worry that they may just have created a wedge issue here, dividing their
own supporters, uniting Republicans against them.

U.S. Congressman Barney Frank is on the platform drafting committee
doing the work on this. "Time" magazine`s Mark Halperin is a senior MSNBC
political analyst.

Gentlemen, I want you to watch a conversation I had a while back in
the summer, by the way, with Antonio Villaraigosa, who`s the mayor of Los
Angeles, also, of course, the chair of the Democratic national convention
this summer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Let`s watch what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: When the Democrats write their platform this summer, when
you write your platform on same-sex, will you endorse a state-by-state
approach to this or a federal law that basically guarantees the right of
people to marry someone of the same sex? Will it be federal or state-by-
state the party will support?

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: Well, I think I`ve made it
fairly clear. I think that marriage equality is a fundamental liberty that
the federal government and our Constitution ought to protect. I`ve made
that very clear. You`re not nailing me to anything, my friend.

I believe in that. I think it`s about family values. I think we
ought to...

MATTHEWS: OK...

VILLARAIGOSA: -- -keep families together on the immigration side, but
also when someone wants to marry, they want to have a loving relationship,
the federal government should not be interfering with that right.

MATTHEWS: Should the federal government support the right to a same-
sex marriage in the law?

VILLARAIGOSA: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: OK, Congressman Frank, is that how far your drafting is
taking us to...

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No, Chris, I literally don`t
understand what that means. There is a fundamental confusion here. There
has never been a federal law saying what marriage is. Marriage has been
left to the states.

Now, first I would say, as far as this being a wedge issue, the
Democrats already in the U.S. House of Representatives and through the
president have made clear that we are opposed to bans on same-sex marriage.
The House voted.

I`m just -- I`m puzzled. People get it backwards. A platform is
supposed to tell the elected officials how they should vote. We`ve already
voted. In the House, 10 days ago, on an amendment to reaffirm the Defense
of Marriage Act, which denies recognition to those state marriages which
have been allowed, the Republicans voted 230-5 to reaffirm this
cancellation of our marriages and the Democrats voted 161-17 against DOMA.
So the two parties are already split there.

But the point is, there is no federal law to be passed. Look at the
situation with race. When there were states that would not allow
interracial marriage, even after the Civil Rights Acts had passed in `64
and `65, there was no federal law saying that interracial marriage had to
be allowed. It was done by the Supreme Court.

The constitutional framework has always been states decide who gets
married. Our objection to DOMA is that it for the first time has the
federal government picking and choosing who can get married.

But there`s never been a federal law defining marriage. I don`t know
how you would do one. It goes beyond the role of the federal government.
The role of the federal government is, as I said, to recognize what the --
the states have done.

Now, it is true that the Supreme Court stepped in, in the Loving case,
to say you can`t use race, but that was a court decision. It wasn`t a
congressional enactment and it wasn`t (INAUDIBLE) phony issue.

MATTHEWS: OK, well, Congressman, you know there are other precedents.
We had the Civil Rights Act in `64. It said...

FRANK: It did nothing about marriage, Christopher!

MATTHEWS: ... you couldn`t deny somebody access to public
accommodation.

FRANK: No, Christopher, you`re wrong!

MATTHEWS: That`s a federal law. So just tell me this...

FRANK: You`re wrong. You`re wrong, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I`m wrong about what?

FRANK: In 1964, there were federal -- state laws against interracial
marriage. And the law you`re talking...

MATTHEWS: I`m not talking about interracial marriage. I`m talking
about public accommodations. You say there is no precedent for the federal
government declaring something a right.

FRANK: Defining marriage.

No, Chris, please, don`t distort what I said. I said there is no
precedent for a federal law defining marriage.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FRANK: Of course federal laws declare things all the time.

But you have made my point. In `64, in that far-reaching Civil Rights
Act and then later in the Voting Rights Act, the federal government didn`t
try to strike down the state ban on interracial marriages. That had to be
done through the courts.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FRANK: It was not something that could be reached by statute.

MATTHEWS: OK. So what did Mayor Villaraigosa mean when he said
federal law?

FRANK: What do you think I would answer you that? That you should
ask Mayor Villaraigosa.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: I think what happened is people who haven`t followed the law
understand, yes, we would like it to be national, but literally that has
never happened.

And the issue -- and what`s happening I think is people are trying to
-- I don`t know -- unintentionally cloud the issue. It has always been up
to the states. The Defense of Marriage Act interfered with the states.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FRANK: The only federal rule on the subject was the Defense of
Marriage Act, which the Democrats are trying to overthrow. I would hope if
President Obama is reelected he would appoint justices who would then
follow the Constitution.

MATTHEWS: Right.

FRANK: But that`s the level at which it would be dealt with, as it
was in race.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the politics, Mark Halperin. If the
Democrats were to ask for a far-reaching platform plank the said in the
plank the policy of the United States should be marriage equality, would
that be a big problem for them politically in North Carolina, Ohio, places
like that?

MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It would be a huge
problem. But Congressman Frank is right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s going to be state by state.

HALPERIN: There`s no way it can end up that way.

The only way I can think of that you could craft a federal statute
that would have the effect you are talking about is if you linked it to
something, if you said states can`t get certain kinds of aid, but given the
recent Supreme Court decision and general precedents, I don`t think there
is a chance that will happen.

State by state and overturned DOMA is I suspect where they are headed.
And the politics of that are already I think divided.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about it. If it comes out as a state-by-
state proposal, it`s up to the states and the Democratic Party recognizes
that situation...

HALPERIN: And urges states to make it legal.

MATTHEWS: How is that going to affect Ohio?

HALPERIN: I think Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina are all
states where Democrats can look at it and say if the targeted messages go
out right, this could on balance hurt them. And those are four really
important states.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts, Mr. Frank, about how this will affect the
election?

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: Chris, this is -- I`m puzzled by this.

The president has already said that is his position. He said DOMA is
unconstitutional and he believes people should have a right to get married
to people of the same sex and he`s actually taken concrete action to oppose
it. I believe all the Ohio Democrats voted against the Defense of Marriage
Act.

So, on this issue, the Democratic position is already there. Frankly,
people are giving the platform a lot more prominence than it has ever
really earned.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me make a prediction, Mr. Frank, Congressman. I
predict that at the beginning of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte,
when nothing else is happening Monday and Tuesday, when the word is out
about the platform, we will be talking a lot about that on the front pages
of newspapers across the country. This is a big issue politically.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: Except that -- I understand it is an issue. But I`m baffled
by the media.

Why wasn`t it a big issue when the president of the United States
repudiated DOMA and said it was unconstitutional and refused to defend it?
Why wasn`t it a big issue when the House of Representatives voted on it and
the Democrats voted 90 percent in favor of it? It is a position. There`s
nothing new about it. This notion the platform is the key, the president
has already taken action.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: First time in history, because -- you know where I stand.

FRANK: The first time in history.

MATTHEWS: But the first time in history, Congressman Frank, first
time in history a major political party in this country -- we only have two
of them -- comes out for marriage equality, that`s big news. It`s going to
be huge.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: You are wrong here in this sense. It is not the first time.

The president of the United States and 90 percent of the House
Democrats have already done it. This worship of a party platform, I can`t
even remember what was ever in any party platform.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, you are on it now. You are writing it.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: No, what has happened is the Democratic position has already
been very clear from the president and from the votes in the House.

MATTHEWS: OK.

HALPERIN: I think he`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congressman Frank, as always.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Mark, quickly, will it have an impact at the convention?

HALPERIN: Taking cabs in every city in America -- no cab driver will
mention it to you.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think it`s going to be an issue at the convention.

Up next: Jon Stewart on Mitt Romney`s international insult tour.

And coming up later in the hour, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis,
star of the new political comedy "The Campaign," they are coming here.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Mitt Romney`s campaign still trying to
do damage control after remarks that Romney made while in the U.K.

Probably Romney`s worst gaffe was when he visited Buckingham Palace
and said to Queen Elizabeth, you call this a house?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and the "Sideshow."

It all started with that comment Romney made about London`s
preparations for the Olympics. Disconcerting was the word he used.

Well, here`s Jon Stewart on the question of, how could he botch that
one?

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

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Before the
Games officially opened, our own Mitt Romney headed to London. Romney`s
Mr. Olympics, having saved the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. And England
is our closest ally. What could possibly go wrong?

(LAUGHTER)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": In the short time you
have been here in London, do they like ready to your experienced eye?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it is hard to know
just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were
disconcerting.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: What are you doing? This is no time to display your
sophisticated knowledge of the inner workings of Olympic preparation.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: You are a guest at a dinner party that already started.
Just nod your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head and say the rumaki is delicious.
That`s all you got to do.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Loop another one up there for me.

WILLIAMS: In the short time you have been here in London, do they
like ready to your experienced eye?

STEWART: Oh, yes.

OK. That`s it. Done.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s something you probably haven`t considered
about the Olympics opening ceremony. Which performance was more socialist,
the one we saw on Friday or the ceremony in Beijing four years ago?

Well, you got it. El Rushbo taking note of this year`s ceremony and
its nod to the U.K.`s national health service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I mean, the people of Great
Britain don`t even like the national health service. And then it hit me.
And then it hit me. It was actually done on behalf of President
Kardashian. They did it for Obama.

I -- nobody will convince me otherwise. I remember the ChiCom opening
ceremony. You know what stands out? You had tens of thousands of people
all doing the same thing. It was like watching zombies. So, now then we
move to the U.K. and we have got that opening ceremony, where we had -- I
think it is even worse.

Theoretically, the U.K. is made up of free people. And what did they
choose to highlight about themselves but a bunch of collectivism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you heard it there. We have the Brits to thank for
what can only be called a meticulously planned homage to President Obama
and socialized medicine, also known as the Olympics opening ceremony, only
in Rushbo`s mind.

Finally, how do we know that campaign ads are officially dominating
the presidential race? At a "no cameras allowed" fund-raiser last night,
the president told a -- told the story of a couple who attended one of his
events with their 4-year-old son, Sammy. "There was a picture of me
somewhere, they said, and, Sammy, who is that? And he said, and that`s
Barack Obama. And what does Barack Obama do? And the boy thinks for a
second and he says, he approves this message," well, the tag line to every
ad the campaign puts out.

Anyway, up next, in the past few days, three Republicans have come
forward to say their party has gone too far to the right.

And, remember, we have got Will Ferrell coming up here right in these
chairs and Zach Galifianakis, stars of the new movie "The Campaign," coming
up a little later.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what happening.

Opening statements took place earlier in the murder trial of Drew
Peterson. Prosecutors say he killed his third wife and staged it to look
like an accident. Peterson`s fourth wife disappeared in 2007 and is
presumed dead.

Experts say it was probably a great white shark that attacked a
swimmer off of Cape Cod today. The man suffered severe bites on his legs.

And stocks lost ground ahead of tomorrow`s decision from the Fed. The
Dow fell 64. The S&P was off six and the Nasdaq slipped six -- back to
HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVEN LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: The expectation is, if you want to
go up in the ranks of either party, you have got to give them your wallet
and your voting card.

And the overwhelming criticism of me over the years is that sometimes
I vote funny according to my party, and I`m not interested in giving them
my wallet or my voter card.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That`s Ohio Congressman Steven LaTourette announcing his retirement
from Congress and his frustration with the Republican Party, after serving
nearly 20 years. He`s not the only one. Republican Congressman Richard
Hanna of New York told a Syracuse newspaper -- quote -- "I have to say that
I`m frustrated by much we, I mean the Republican Party, are willing to give
deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment of history."

Combine this with the Republicans who denounced Tea Party favorite
Michele Bachmann in the last several days, and fissures in the party appear
to be growing.

Michael Smerconish is a radio talk show host and Michael Steele is
former chair of the Republican National Committee. Both are MSNBC
political analysts.

Now, it`s important to note that LaTourette in his retirement took a
couple -- a shot at both parties, but he was clearly retiring from one.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And his problem was at home. As it often is in politics,
you`re tougher on your brothers and sisters than you are on the other side.

Michael Smerconish, for years now, I have noticed that you have tried
to carve something of a moderate position near the center coming from the
Republican side that the suburban voters tend to adhere to. They are not
wingers. They are not Tea Partiers. They tend to want less government,
but they are not crazy. They don`t want to get rid of government.

And they want fair taxes. Where are the voice -- are we going to see
less and less voice from people like that in years ahead?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I sure hope so, because
the largest growing group of voters in this country are not R`s or D`s.
They are I`s. They are independents.

And the sort of behavior that you`re talking about is what has driven
many of us straight out of the Republican Party. The Republican Party has
got to stop taking marching orders from talk radio hosts and, frankly,
start taking more marching orders from guys like Michael Steele.

That`s the future of the party. The demographics are not on the side
of the GOP. So, if they don`t get with the new program soon, they are
going to be out of existence.

MATTHEWS: Michael, you were the boss of the Republican -- I think
boss is probably too strong a term. You`re such a mild-mannered guy.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes, in this town.

MATTHEWS: But you were head of the Republican Party, but what is it
about your party? Let`s start with yours. You can take a shot at the
other side, obviously -- about the parties that get pulled so far to the
right that someone like Bachmann is taken seriously by people, not by
everybody, not by McCain, not by Steve Schmidt, not by Ed Rollins, not by
Lindsey Graham or people like that, but taken seriously by people like Newt
Gingrich, by Limbaugh and those people.

They get the big noise out there.

STEELE: Well, there is this idea that you get a lot of noise from
people who are out there pushing a particular agenda or particular idea.

And what I argued as chairman of the RNC is that`s great. That`s part
of the who we are and how we have grown as a party, how we have managed to
be successful, following the Reagan legacy of embracing the diversity of
the country and inviting people to be in...

MATTHEWS: You are talking about embracing crazy talk, though.

STEELE: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When you go out and target somebody like -- no -- like Huma
Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton, and say let`s make her a Muslim
Brotherhood suspect, is that part of what you want to have in your rich
family and diversity?

STEELE: No, that`s not -- no, this is the point you are making, and
I`m agreeing with it.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: And that is those extreme conversations where you sound
ridiculous, look ridiculous and in fact are ridiculous delegitimize the
efforts of, you know, everyday Republicans who are trying to stick to some
core principles about government and taxes and freedom, and want that
expressed in their leadership.

Instead, what`s happened is, there is a hijacking and a hostage-taking
mind-set in some cases, if you don`t, therefore, I will, instead of just
saying, how does this fit into the overall narrative of what we are and
what we believe? How do we look at an 18-year-old African-American male
and say this is a place where you belong politically, there is an
opportunity for you here?

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: We don`t do that -- Michael Smerconish is absolutely right --
we go the way of the Whigs.

MATTHEWS: Yes, let me talk...

STEELE: And that was something I was very sensitive of as chairman.

MATTHEWS: This isn`t long-ago history. Right now -- Michael, you
know this as well.

You look over the whole Northeast, all of New England, there used to
be a Republican senator or two in every one of those states when we were
growing up. They are all gone.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The Northeast has been evacuated by the Republican Party.
It has gone down to the Southwest, to the Sunbelt, to where people are
willing to listen to some of this really wild right-wing talk.

SMERCONISH: Well, you are right.

And, you know, "The National Journal," I think, has done an
extraordinary job of actually documenting the dearth of candidates and
officeholders in the center, both from the left and the right. If you go
to Ronald Reagan`s watch in the early `80s, "The National Journal"
documents that 60 percent of the Senate was somewhere in the middle --
today, every Republican more conservative than every Democrat, every
Democrat more liberal than every Republican in the Senate. There`s a total
absence of moderates. It`s just not a good thing for the country.

And the country, I think, has gone in a different direction.

So they are totally out of sync with the rest of the nation or at
least I would argue.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I love that statistic. Can you get it to me?
That 60 percent of the United States Senate in 1980s is somewhere in the
middle. I love that statistic, because it`s so untrue today.

Michael, is there any chance Republican Party can go back to the
center right instead of hard right?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I believe so. I look at the
next team, the farm, the bench coming up -- yes.

You look at the Paul Ryans, you look at these guys, the Bob
McDonnells, the Chris Christies -- these guys, particularly those like
Chris Christie, who are governing in blue states, North eastern states,
bring a very different message and very different style of Republicanism to
the table which is long overdue. I think it is important -- important
focus for the next few years.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Michael Steele. And thank you, Michael
Smerconish, two voices of reason.

Up next -- tonight, at least -- Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis,
stars of the very funny new political movie, "The Campaign," they are
coming here right now, when we get back.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Michele Bachmann may be looking to put her Muslim
Brotherhood controversy in the rear view mirror. And guess who she is
looking to team up with on Medicaid reform? U.S. Congressman Keith
Ellison, one of the Muslim Americans she suggested -- she suggested -- may
have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Early this month, Bachmann did say that government investigators
should look into Ellison and top State Department aide Huma Abedin and
others to find out whether the Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S.
government.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back.

Two of the funniest men in Hollywood, Will Ferrell -- there he is --
and Zach Galifianakis teamed up for their latest film, "The Campaign."
It`s a biting satire of our modern age of politics. Take a look.

(MOVIE CLIP PLAYS)

MATTHEWS: I love the pacifier going to the ground there. It`s not
exactly "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," is it? Will Ferrell and Zach
Galifianakis here to play some real HARDBALL.

You know, this movie, this movie, is really funny. It is up there
with your best stuff, guys. I love "Anchorman."

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Ron Burgundy.

FERRELL: Ron Burgundy.

MATTHEWS: You did us credit.

FERRELL: It`s classic. It`s pretty accurate, right?

MATTHEWS: Nailed me.

Anyway, Zach, "Hangover," best movie ever -- deepest movie ever.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, ACTOR: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Most important movie ever.

GALIFIANAKIS: I only do political movies.

MATTHEWS: You know what, when I -- I watched this movie last night.
I`m a political nut, as well as a movie nut. And everybody watching ought
to pay attention to this little thought because you guys are funny. But it
ain`t funny when you are telling -- it`s hours, hour and a half of really
funny slapstick and wit and satire.

But you are talking about two awful people, these two guys. John
Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, and they go around like rich guys, like guys of
"Trading Places." pick winners and losers in campaigns with their billion.

FERRELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: How do you feel about that?

FERRELL: You know, I mean, we -- we really -- just wanted the movie
to be nonpartisan in politics.

MATTHEWS: It ain`t. It`s totally against Citizens United.

FERRELL: Yes, well, we wanted -- you know, we wanted to put a mirror
up to the fact that there is all this money flowing into --

MATTHEWS: What do you think? As American.

FERRELL: I love it. I love it. I think it is great.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FERRELL: I don`t think it is hindering the, you know, from people
from governing at all.

MATTHEWS: Zach, your uncle was the congressman from North Carolina,
from Chapel Hill, when I was in grad school. Is he still there? This
stuff is real. North Carolina race you are talking about for Congress.

GALIFIANAKIS: He ran against Jessie Helms in 1972 for Senate after
when he was a congressman.

MATTHEWS: HE beat him, right?

GALIFIANAKIS: No.

MATTHEWS: He finished that guy, didn`t he?

GALIFIANAKIS: No, no. No, he didn`t. But, yeah, just kind of a
throwback to the dirty politics that have been -- North Carolina seen.
South sees it a lot. What`s interesting about the movie is it is set in
the polite South but there`s all these terrible mudslinging that are going
on.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this, let`s take a look at this. You
played a guy who I swear is John Edwards.

FERRELL: There`s a little bit of John Edwards and a little bit of
Donna Shalala.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the scene from the movie Donna
Shalala.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know here. She is great. Here is the movie in which
the adviser is giving the candidate character advice. Here`s Zach with
some tough political reality lessons being given to him. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDSEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, your likability is 26 percent. The
focus group words that come up about you are odd, clammy, probably Serbian.
He looks like the Travelocity gnome.

GALIFIANAKIS: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to help this district the first thing
you have to do, Marty, is win.

GALIFIANAKIS: I do want to help the district. I love my home. It
is just -- it all happened so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Cam Brady can be beaten. But I don`t
believe you believe that.

You know what, I`m going to call your dad and tell them you don`t
have the rocks for this.

GALIFIANAKIS: You put your phone away. This might be hard for you
to believe but this dog has a ton of fight in him, a ton of fight. When I
get a scent, I hunt, brother. I hunt all day long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: See, how this guy, sort of effeminate, soft spoken, and
this political consultant turns him into some wild man, macho man from the
right wing.

GALIFIANAKIS: His ego gets the best of him. I think that`s what
happens sometimes in politics. People get pulled from obscurity and they
are like, hey, you want to be vice president? OK. Yes, I can do that.
But they`re not qualified.

MATTHEWS: What would George W. think about this movie?

FERRELL: He`s probably --- he`d probably think it`s a funny movie.
A lot of laughs, yes. I`m glad I`m done with the circus. It`s a real
circus out there. Forget about it, you know?

MATTHEWS: Did he ever call you up and say you got me, George W., the
president? Because everyone thinks of you as him.

FERRELL: I have heard from various sources he thought I was pretty
funny. Yes, but no, I never had direct contact.

MATTHEWS: That sort of act of his is like an act, he doesn`t really
act like that in life? If he normally behaved like that, buzz he does in
public. He`s always trying to be tough.

FERRELL: Right. Trying to be tough and my way or the highway.

MATTHEWS: I want you to take a look at new talent. Somebody did
kind of -- showed up in this movie four, five times.

FERRELL: Oh, a young hot actor. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at his role. I wonder if this guy has a
future. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Breaking news out of North Carolina. Democratic incumbent
Cam Brady getting a run for his money by newcomer Marty Huggins. This is
likely to hurt him with the Christian right, social conservatives, really
any group that opposes baby punching.

Remember the politician that punched a baby? He`s at it again. He
just punched Uggie, the dog from the Academy Award winning film "The
Artist."

Election day winding down, North Carolina`s 14th district, one of the
last to call it. Today, opponent Marty Huggins did the craziest stunt to
date.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know what is scary --

FERRELL: You`re in it way too much.

MATTHEWS: I can do that like I believe it.

(LAUGHTER)

FERRELL: Excellent.

MATTHEWS: Jay Roach, your director, who did "Game Change" and did
"Recount", he`s great. He knows his political theater really well.

FERRELL: He does, and he`s also -- you know, he`s responsible for
the Austin Powers movies and "Meet the Parents". He`s kind of unique in
that he knees how to do the broad band comedies and he`s also is well-
versed in politics. So, there`s a perfect combination.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a serious questions. When I watched with
my two boys, and I was thinking, they were in their 20s, and I keep
thinking, one just turned 30, and I`m thinking, is this helping young
people vote? Yes, Will Ferrell, is this --

FERRELL: What did they say?

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re going to vote because I`m going to talk to
them and I`m going to encourage it, although one of my kids is to the left
of Obama, which I have to work on a little bit. I don`t know where he`s
going sometimes. He`s such a perfectionist. He`s mad about Gitmo and
things like that. A lot of people are.

FERRELL: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about this --- are you worried when you
see a movie that is slapstick and shows the evils of the Koch brothers and
all that stuff and big money and how`s it manipulating campaigns -- does
that worry you that kids are going to say, why vote?

FERRELL: I think we`re both optimistic that it`s -- first of all, to
get people in the door, it`s just funny. It`s just funny characters, and
we`re kind of going at each other. And then underneath that, there`s that
message of, you know, we need to keep an eye on this, otherwise this system
is not going to work for us anymore.

MATTHEWS: By the way, I have to say as a political expert -- well, I
am, that`s what I am an expert.

GALIFIANAKIS: You are.

MATTHEWS: it`s real. The way you guys portray, it will pass any
test of accuracy. And it`s frightening how real it is. Two guys, these
rich guys, can walk around and just gain results with their huge money.

GALIFIANAKIS: On your point earlier, we were discussing that. A
couple 17-year-olds see the movie and they`re not politically aware and
discuss it after the movie, all the money in Citizens United. That`s a
good discussion for teenagers to start having, I think.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s a great thing. I think people ought to
see the movie. I mean it. It`s great movie for the summer. A lot of fun
and truth in it.

"The Campaign" is going to be in theaters next Friday, August 10th,
around the country. Lots of theaters, especially one near you.

Thank you, Will Ferrell. And thank you, Zach Galifianakis. We`ll be
right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALIFIANAKIS: Well, as a Christian, I guess it would be easy for you
to recite the Lord`s Prayer.

FERRELL: Is that what we`re resorting to, guess this Toppo tactics.

GALIFIANAKIS: I would like to hear it.

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERS)

FERRELL: Fine, I`m happy to.

Our father art who is up in heaven, Aloe Vera be thy name. The
thigh, thy kingdom, the magic kingdom as it is on earth in helicopter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I just saw the movie
"The Campaign". The producers gave me a DVD to watch at home for tonight`s
show.

And this is a very funny movie. If you love these guys, Will Ferrell
and Zach Galifianakis, and most people do, it`s impossible not to see the
craziness in the story of a Democrat running against a challenger who comes
out of nowhere to try to beat him -- beat him with the huge money of a
couple brothers who bear a striking resemblance to the Koch brothers.

But beneath the jokes and slap sticks, there`s a hard reality. This
is what politics is on the verge of becoming in this country. A couple
guys of rich guys with huge money made money in gas and oil who use the
latest statistics and political intel to go and pick off a person who
doesn`t vote their interests, putting in someone who will right down the
line. Now that isn`t funny.

The communists used to attack our democracy as nothing more than a
show put on and paid for by the Rockefellers. It was a sham, they said,
during the Cold War, to believe that the American people honestly and
freely choose their leaders. But isn`t it funny to see even in a comedy
movie that that old charge is becoming true.

We have seen elections here and there exactly what the communists
used to say about us, that we`re kidding ourselves. That elections were
really run by people with big money for people with big money.

I don`t like the Citizens United decision. I don`t like people who
think they have a right to as many votes as they have dollars. I don`t
like it for the simple reason that it`s not what we Americans believe in.
Not what Americans fight for, not what unites as a country.

I want the real thing, democracy, and this stuff going on now will go
on this fall, is not it. If you disagree with me, raise your hand right
now at home. And if you don`t, you know what I know, and it`s bad.

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

"THE ED SHOW" starts right now.

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

Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


More on TODAY.com

  1. Meadowhall, Yorkshire

    Mall adds 'fast lane' after girl, 10, complains about slow shoppers

    4/23/2014 2:48:06 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T14:48:06
  1. Nbc Nbc Nbc / Trae Patton/NBC

    Ousted 'Voice' singer: I'm '500 steps ahead of where I would have been'

    4/23/2014 2:22:38 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T14:22:38
  1. Reuters; AP

    Lupita Nyong’o is People’s Most Beautiful person

    4/23/2014 11:54:41 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T11:54:41
  1. Annie Leibovitz

    Top fashion moms design collection to fight infant AIDS

    4/23/2014 2:01:51 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T14:01:51
  1. Courtesy of Savannah Guthrie

    Savannah’s honeymoon dispatch: Letting it hang out on the best vacation ever

    4/23/2014 10:56:55 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T10:56:55