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updated 8/8/2012 9:25:26 AM ET 2012-08-08T13:25:26

Guests: Joe Klein, Nia-Malika Henderson, Sam Stein, Pete Simi, Frank
Meeink, Michael Steele, Ed Rendell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trouble in Sherwood Forest.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this -- "Romney Hood." According to
Obama, he`s the guy who raises the taxes of the middle class, cuts the
taxes of the rich. And this is how Obama wants to you see this coming
election. It isn`t about how are things going for you, it`s about who are
you going to trust? Who`s going to look out for you? And this guy he
calls "Romney Hood" is going to take from you and give to the rich.

Looking at the Romney tax plan, by the way, it`s a fair look at
things. Those in the top brackets do get a bigger percentage tax cut off
their bigger income and their higher rates. Those at the bottom get a 2
percent cut off of their lower rates and against their relatively skimpy
incomes. His plan, Romney`s, would take from the regular people, in other
words, use that money to reward Romney`s rich supporters. It`s all true.
He is "Romney Hood." And the only question is why it took so long for
someone to call him that.

Joining me tonight is Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post, who`s
also an MSNBC analyst, and Joe Klein of "Time" magazine. Gentlemen, two
smart guys here.

Romney Hood. Is this thing going to stick, Howard?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
I think it`s a very sharp attack. And I think it will because, as you say,
it`s not so much about the numbers, Chris, as it is about the idea of
character and values in your leader.

You`re not on an ocean liner here. We`re in a rowboat in the economy.
Who are you going to trust to take command in the rowboat to protect you?
Who`s going to protect you? Who`s going to look out for you in these tough
times?

In an odd way, the tough times that we`re experiencing now
economically play into this Obama theme. He`s not bragging about the
economy or bragging about the future, he`s sort of saying, Times are tough.
Who is going to protect you? Who`s going to protect your taxes? Who`s
going to protect your government benefits?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Who`s is going to be the person who understands your life
and protects it now? That`s his message and that`s his contrast with Mitt
Romney. It`s really, in a way, an old-fashioned Democratic theme, but it`s
one he`s using now.

MATTHEWS: Joe Klein, your thoughts about life in Sherwood Forest
because implicit in this attack is that we`re all the little people.
We`re, in fact, the serfs, if you will, worried about the powers that be.
We`re all in this together, except those people at the very top are hanging
around with the sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John and all the bad guys.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I remember all these characters.

JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I got to say, you know, the Romney
campaign goes from bad to worse. In the spring and through most of the
primaries, his positions on taxing and spending were pretty responsible.
But then he comes up with this utterly ridiculous tax plan that the Tax
Policy Center accurately represents.

What we`re talking about here is how to pay for it. And if we pay for
it the way Romney claims he`s going to pay for it, by eliminating
loopholes, then obviously, if everything is paid for, the middle class is
going to have to pay more.

It is an absolute lie, what the Romney campaign has been putting out
about this program. There are no details other than the cuts. It is a
completely irresponsible program. And the amazing thing to me about the
Romney campaign at this point is that every single day, they seem to step
in something else. Today it was welfare reform.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let`s take a look at this. Here`s how the
president pinned that "Romney Hood" tag on Romney last night. It`s funny,
biting and may just stick. It says in one word that Romney would help the
rich and hurt everyone else. And let`s listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`d ask the middle
class to pay more in taxes so that he could give another $250,000 tax cut
to people making more than $3 million a year.

(BOOS)

OBAMA: It`s like Robin Hood in reverse.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It`s Romney Hood.

(LAUGHTER, CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, I think Romney woke up this morning with that arrow
pointed right into his forehead because he came back with this. Today, his
staff obviously came up with a comeback line for him because he`s not that
original. He saved it, of course, for his favorite resting hole, Fox News.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve been
watching the president say a lot of things about me and about my policies.
And they`re just not right. And if I were to coin a term, it would be
"Obama-loney." It`s -- he`s serving up a dish which is simply in
contradiction of the truth. And it relates to everything from how I`m
going to help the middle class to tax policy. He`s just simply saying
things that are not accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Robin Hood theme that the president introduced
last night has gone out there on the Web, and lots of people are talking
about it. Look at this. A site called MemGenerator (ph) has a Romney Hood
page. Here it is, Romney Hood, takes from the poor and gives to the rich,
tax breaks for me but not for thee. And Sherwood Forest, where are all the
trees -- where all the trees, I should say, are all the right height,
playing off another number there.

But when you look at the numbers here, guys, it is true. If you`re
going to cut everybody 20 percent, look at what happens. Say you`re in the
35 percent bracket, right at the top. Well, that means you save $70,000
off a million bucks.

If you`re in a lower bracket, you don`t get a 7 percent tax cut, you
get, like, a 2 percent tax break because 20 percent off of 10 percent, if
you`re in the lower rate, is a 2 percent cut, 20 percent off of 35 percent
gets you down to 28 (INAUDIBLE) cut.

The math is clear. There`s nothing fair about it. It shifts the tax
breaks -- the tax breaks to the top and shifts the burden to the bottom,
Howard.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: It`s so obvious. And by the way, you can`t deny what he
said himself.

FINEMAN: No, I don`t think you can. And as Joe was pointing out,
part of the problem that Romney has and one reason he leaves himself so
vulnerable in this and other cases is that he doesn`t give any details of
what he`s supposedly talking about.

MATTHEWS: About the -- about the bracket elimination...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... he does says the tax cuts are going to be this 20
percent thing.

FINEMAN: Yes, I know. That`s clear, too. But as Joe said, you`ve
got to pay for it somehow. And if you don`t explain it, then people are
going to assume, rightly, the worst. They`re going to assume that you`re
going to take away tax benefits or tax breaks that benefit the middle
class.

So time and time again, Romney`s lack of specificity, his willingness
to -- his unwillingness to talk about his taxes, about his life, about his
tax plan leaves him open to this kind of attack, justifiably, I think. And
I know the Romney people that I talked to just earlier today, they`re in a
sort of apoplectic mood right now. They`re furious...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FINEMAN: They`re furious about the other attacks...

MATTHEWS: OK...

FINEMAN: ... but they don`t seem to...

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... but why didn`t he answer what was in his bag when he
went to the hardware store today? Why did he say, Hardware stuff? Why`d
he say...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s the big secret?

FINEMAN: That`s typical. That`s typical, Joe.

MATTHEWS: Joe?

KLEIN: It`s no surprise that the guy is awkward. But I think the
point that Howard`s making is important here. Romney said that he wasn`t
just giving these cuts but that they would be revenue-neutral...

MATTHEWS: Right.

KLEIN: ... that he would pay for them. However, what the Tax Policy
Center, which, incidentally, is an organization that the Romney campaign
was praising during the primaries -- what the Tax Policy Center proved was
that there aren`t enough tax loopholes to pay for this unless you start
going into things like the mortgage interest deduction, the charitable tax
deduction and a lot of other things that really, really affect the middle
class in important ways.

FINEMAN: But I think more than that, Chris, I think -- I think that
in this and other things, Mitt Romney doesn`t seem to quite get the idea
that he needs to be forthcoming about what he`s proposing to do.

MATTHEWS: But let`s face it, he admits in his program here and his
plan that the biggest beneficiaries of his whole economic program, as he`s
released it, are people at the very top. They get the biggest break on
their taxes. And there aren`t enough loopholes in the world...

FINEMAN: Right. Well, that`s...

MATTHEWS: ... at the top, especially, to pay for these. So in other
words, the rich are going to get richer...

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... and the people at the bottom are going to pay for it.
And that`s pretty obvious.

FINEMAN: Yes, I think...

MATTHEWS: And I wonder what his plan is to explain that.

FINEMAN: Well, I don`t think he has one...

MATTHEWS: Or deny it.

FINEMAN: I asked -- I asked...

KLEIN: He hasn`t explained anything!

FINEMAN: I asked one of his people earlier today -- I asked one of
his people earlier today about it, Chris, and they said, Why do you want to
talk about this tax plan? We want to talk about Harry Reid being like
Joe...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: ... Harry Reid being like Joe McCarthy.

MATTHEWS: That`s so weak!

FINEMAN: Don`t talk about the tax plan. Talk about what a horrible
guy Barack Obama is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Joe, let`s run through the inventory of what the guy won`t
talk. He`s not going to talk about his religion. That`s his call. I
think he could do a little better explanation, but that`s his call. That`s
fair. That`s a totally political question.

KLEIN: Fair enough.

MATTHEWS: He`s decided not to explain it. He doesn`t want to talk
about his job as governor of Massachusetts, his only public office ever,
because he doesn`t want to admit that he was a moderate up there, I guess,
is what he was. He doesn`t want to talk about his business because he
can`t explain it or whatever.

What does he -- he won`t talk about what`s in his grocery bag.

FINEMAN: And taxes.

MATTHEWS: He won`t talk about what he bought at the hardware store.
He won`t explain his tax plan. What will he talk about? He`s willing to
say one thing, The economy sucks, let`s get rid of Obama. That`s all he
ever basically says, isn`t it?

KLEIN: Yes. This has to be the -- you know, one of the least -- if
not the least substantive campaign...

MATTHEWS: How about Nixon in `68?

KLEIN: ... that I`ve ever seen.

MATTHEWS: What do you think?

KLEIN: He won`t -- he won`t talk about -- well, Nixon and -- Nixon
had a secret plan to end the war.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KLEIN: But in this case, he won`t talk about what he`s going to do to
replace "Obama care," if he repeals it, which he can`t do. He has never
said what he would do about financial reform, about breaking up the big
banks on Wall Street. His tax plan is now a mirage.

You know, the guy -- and -- and, you know, in foreign policy, over and
over again, he makes a fool of himself by saying very aggressive things
that have no basis in fact or reality or detail.

FINEMAN: I think the next thing that they`re going to talk about,
Chris, on the -- from the Romney side, they`re going to try to make an
issue of the way they`re saying Barack Obama and the Democrats are running
their campaign. In other words, they`re going to -- they`re going to talk
about the Harry Reid attack on...

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes.

FINEMAN: ... on taxes and so on. And they are going to -- they`re
going to run a, Have you no decency, Mr. President...

MATTHEWS: Oh, the mean campaign. The mean campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the -- let`s...

FINEMAN: That`s equally lacking in...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: ... you are going to do.

MATTHEWS: Running a tough, aggressive campaign is exactly how Romney
got this far. I wouldn`t talk about it.

Here`s a new Obama ad that goes directly at how little Romney pays in
taxes. It isn`t just effective, it`s true. "The Washington Post"
political fact-checking site, which gives out Pinocchios for untruths,
gives this ad the rarely seen Geppetto, meaning completely accurate.
Here`s part of the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You work hard, stretch every penny. But chances
are, you pay a higher tax rate than him. Mitt Romney made $20 million in
2010, but paid only 14 percent in taxes, probably less than you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So now they have the one tax return he`s given us and
they`re -- and they`re hitting him on that one, Howard.

FINEMAN: Yes. Well, I think it`s a -- I think it`s a fair -- it`s a
fair...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts? A Geppetto, according to "The Post," it`s
accurate. Joe, last word.

KLEIN: Well, you know, this hasn`t been a really high-minded campaign
on Obama`s part, either. But you know, when you look at the stuff that
Romney rolls out day after day and you see how the Democrats are countering
it with their oppo research, as they did today on welfare reform, you got -
- you just have to say that the Democrats are maybe one or two steps ahead
of the Romney camp so far in the parry and thrust of this campaign.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, I think there`s something stiff and vacuous
about the guy as a candidate. He`s not offering us who he is. Whoever he
is, he ain`t showing. Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Howard. Thank you,
Joe. Thanks for coming.

Coming up: "Categorically false" and "blatantly dishonest." That`s
what the White House today called Romney`s attack on some new welfare
requirements. More on that coming up next. Welfare mother -- we`re back
again, "welfare queens."

Also, hate music, the racist and violent that was relished by the man
behind Sunday`s mass killing at a Sikh temple, what we`re learning about
this underground source of hate, this hate rock. Never heard of it before.

And Sarah Palin`s ready for her close-up, but does the Romney campaign
want the camera on her? The debate over whether Palin should have a
primetime role at the Republican convention. Nothing goes away, ladies and
gentlemen, especially not Sarah Palin.

Finally, dinosaurs living side-by-side with human, environmentalists
desperate to -- environmentalists desperate to destroy the world`s wealth.
That`s in the curriculum for Louisiana`s schools at taxpayer expense,
courtesy of Governor Bobby Jindal. Wait`ll you catch some of these
textbooks they`re using down in Louisiana.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, voters are actually heading to the polls today in
four states, Missouri, Washington state, Kansas and Michigan. The most
interesting race out there tonight is the Republican primary for Senate in
Missouri among Congressman Todd Akin, former state treasurer Sarah Steelman
and businessman John Brunner. Well, the winner takes on Democratic senator
Claire McCaskill, and she`s vulnerable. But she`s also a good friend of
this show.

Polls close within the hour, at 8:00 Eastern. Republicans are
counting on a November win in Missouri to help them win control of the
Senate. They need to net four seats to win, provided President Obama wins
reelection.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Welfare politics seems to
conjure up memories of Bill Clinton`s mid-`90s reform of (ph) Reagan`s
tales of "welfare queens." Remember how he talked about then (ph)? But
it`s back, thanks to a new misleading Romney campaign ad. Take a look at
this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan
Congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare.
But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare
reform by dropping work requirements.

Under Obama`s plan, you wouldn`t have to work and wouldn`t have to
train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and welfare to
work goes to back being plain old welfare. Mitt Romney will restore the
work requirement because it works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a devastating ad of that gets through as
truth. Actually, last month, the Department of Health and Human Services
said it`d allow states to receive waivers to implement their own programs
for welfare recipients. And not only did two Republican states recently
ask for them, but Mitt Romney himself supported a similar plan for states
when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Sam Stein writes for the HuffingtonPost and Nia-Malika Henderson`s a
reporter for "The Washington Post."

Nia, let me ask you about this. Is there any truth to the charge that
we are getting rid of work as a requirement for welfare payments?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": No. There`s absolutely no
truth to it. I mean, if you look back at this memo that came out in July,
it basically says that the HHS won`t consider any waivers that
significantly reduce work. In fact, the only way you can get approved for
a waiver is if it increases work by 20 percent. As far as I can tell,
there`s no difference between Romney`s stance and Obama`s stance. I
mean...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, it sounds terrific, the way they sell it.

HENDERSON: It sounds terrific. These ads are running. I was
watching the Olympics today and they`re running during the Olympics. So
this is their new...

MATTHEWS: No, this is Willie Horton stuff. Look at (ph) it (ph).
Not surprisingly, White House press secretary Jay Carney took to the podium
today to correct the Romney ads as falsehoods. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: From a policy standpoint,
let me say that this advertisement is categorically false and it is
blatantly dishonest.

This administration`s policy will strengthen the program by giving
states the opportunity to employ more effective ways to help people get off
welfare and into a job. Under this policy, governors must commit that
their proposals will move at least 20 percent more people -- more people --
from welfare to work.

And as we have made very clear under our policy, any request from any
state that undercuts the work requirement in welfare reform will be
rejected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the interesting thing, Sam and Nia -- I`m going to
get into this thing rather heartily here. The pictures of the wholesome
family there concerned about welfare cheating are white people. And the
implication here is pretty clear that the people that are getting these
welfare checks without working are not white people.

This is the old stuff that Romney is resorting to here. It`s familiar
territory. It`s Willie Horton stuff. It`s the same old stuff Reagan used
to engage in, talk about "welfare queens" and "young bucks" waiting in line
with their food stamps to get vodka. I lived through all that stuff. I
know all the code. This is code.

Your thoughts, Sam?

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTONPOST: I mean, The history is pretty clear on
this, and I think you illuminated it just there. I would add two other
components to the ad. One is that, you know, there`s been a concerted
effort to make it seem that Bill Clinton is the good centrist Democrat to
Barack Obama`s radical liberal Democrat. I think it`s been a recurring
theme for the Romney campaign. I think this ad gets at it, as well.

Secondly is whole notion of government dependency from cradle to the
grave. It`s another theme the Romney campaign is hitting. It goes along
with this ad, as well.

My only -- the one other thing I would like to stress is that I wonder
if there is a price to pay for campaigns to run ads like this in terms of
how their facts are so distorted and wrong. It seems like -- and it works
on both sides of the aisle -- campaigns have increasingly decided that
there is a limited price to pay in terms of public opinion...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEIN: ... for just throwing out distortions, and that they might as
well do it because it can filter through to the media. And who knows how
many people in swing states will see and it how many people in swing states
will actually watch shows like this.

MATTHEWS: Well, you and Nia are younger than -- to remember this.
Fortunately, you didn`t grow up in this particular generation that still
engaged in this crap.

Here is Ronald Reagan, who was a good man in some ways, some ways,
starting his campaign in 1976 and onward, often referring to welfare queens
who collected checks under multiple aliases. Let`s watch him in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Chicago a couple years
back, a young woman was getting checks under 127 different names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, that`s something from "Human Events." I don`t
know where he got it from. But this is stuff you can pick up in the
malarkey, want to pick it up in -- and to everybody watching, I say come to
Washington, D.C., by the way, and get up early around 6:00, and go around
the neighborhoods like North Capitol and Florida Avenue and watch all the
people going to work in the morning when you made judgments about people.

It is the old: Blacks are on welfare, the whites are working hard and
getting screwed. It works brilliantly if your target audience is working
whites.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And we saw Santorum. We don`t really need
to go back to Ronald Reagan. Rick Santorum basically said when he was
campaigning in Iowa that he would be of the kind of president that wouldn`t
give black people other people`s money, that he would give them actual
jobs. Of course, he later rescinded that and said he was referring to blah
people. I don`t know who those people are.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it interesting? Sometimes you want to be a little
bit unclear maybe.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.

And Newt Gingrich, this whole idea of Barack Obama being a food stamp
president, we know where this comes from. And we do conjure up in this
society a certain image when you invoke welfare. This is the throwback to
1996. I think this has long been settled, this idea that work should be a
component of welfare.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re a reporter.

Sam, are you some kind of -- I think you are some kind of a wonk, so
you appreciate this. Isn`t it true -- I`m not a wonk, obvious after all
these years.

STEIN: Sure. I will take it.

MATTHEWS: Isn`t it true that most welfare checks and most food stamps
go to working -- I mean, poor, working poor white people, statistically?

STEIN: Yes. That`s true.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Yes. The game they play is, no, that`s not the picture you
are supposed to get.

I think we should show again -- we will show it later tonight -- so
won`t keep doing it tonight. But that ad basically is about wholesome
white people around the hearth at night concerned about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, Sam?

STEIN: I just want to also make the point that we have now gotten
into a point in the campaign where candidates are basically competing on
who can make it tougher for welfare recipients to get their checks.

The frame of the debate is very odd because, by and large, the vast
majority of welfare recipients desperately want to work. They would love
nothing more than to be off of welfare. They want to get a job. And now
we are at the point in the campaign where each campaign has to say we are
going to be tougher on welfare recipients, as if they don`t have it tough
already. I think the whole frame is off a little bit.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HENDERSON: And they are in there -- it is also this idea that somehow
this is a huge part of the federal budget. I think it is something like 5
percent.

MATTHEWS: It`s like foreign aid.

HENDERSON: That`s right. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I`m quitting. I`m going on welfare. That`s my
career plan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA...

STEIN: Smart move, Chris.

MATTHEWS: No, I`m first -- released this ad today. This is pro-Obama
hoping to bring the conversation back to Bain, of his existence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PRIORITIES USA AD)

JOE SOPTIC, WIFE DIED OF CANCER: When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the
plant, I lost my health care. And my family lost their health care.

And a short time after that, my wife became ill. I don`t know how
long she was sick. And I think maybe she didn`t say anything because she
knew that we couldn`t afford the insurance.

And then one day, she became ill, and then I took her up to the
Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia, and that`s when
they found the cancer. And by then, it was stage four. There was nothing
they could do for her. And she passed away in 22 days.

I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he has done to anyone. And,
furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty rough.

HENDERSON: It is pretty rough. This guy Joe Soptic, he is becoming
like Joe the plumber of this cycle. I actually talked to him today.

He feels this stuff. He remembers it very well. Of course, he has
moved on with his life.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He knew about Bain when they did their takeover.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: He knew about Bain. He was there in 2001 when he got laid
off. He was making $46,000. He had to become a janitor, where he was
making $15,000. He didn`t have any health...

MATTHEWS: He lost his health.

HENDERSON: He lost his health insurance. He almost lost his house.
And so, I mean, he has been a pretty good surrogate. You have seen him in
several of these ads.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s tough.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Last word, Sam.

STEIN: I mean, I just want to say this ad has been actually fact-
checked in the interim. It looks like there are distortions with this one,
too.

The wife unfortunately died six years after Bain closed the plant.
She also had access to other insurance in the interim. And it`s very tough
to charge Mitt Romney with being tied to her death. So, if we are going to
be equal opportunity fact-checkers...

HENDERSON: And he doesn`t do that. He actually doesn`t want to have
that.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: Well, the suggestion -- hold on, hold on. The suggestion is
obviously made. Otherwise, they wouldn`t have put out the ad. So, I think
we have to call a spade a spade and say this one probably pushed it.

MATTHEWS: What do you think the guy is saying there? What do you
think that guy is saying, though? What do you think he thinks?

STEIN: What he thinks is that his wife ended up getting thrown off
insurance and then they had to scramble for her coverage. Listen, that`s a
legitimate statement -- thing to be concerned about.

And it is fair to say, yes, Mitt Romney was more concerned about
profit than his workers` health care. But then to throw Romney into a
conversation where you are talking about this woman`s death six years
later, I think is a bridge probably too far.

HENDERSON: I asked him about that. And he said he didn`t necessarily
make that link either, but that his main point was that he felt like Romney
cared more about profits, didn`t make good on some of the promises that
Bain made to secure their pensions and health insurance. And that was the
main point of that ad.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s see more of these cases. If there is a pattern
here, it is going to hurt him a lot.

Anyway, thank you.

Because the old idea of breaking some eggs to make your omelet, well,
it isn`t this guy`s omelet. It`s Mitt Romney`s omelet. He is just a
broken egg. He is the broken egg, as his wife is part of that.

Anyway, thank you so much.

And, by the way, it`s not so hard to grab another job these days when
you lose yours.

Thank you, Sam Stein.

And thank you, Nia-Malika Henderson.

STEIN: OK, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: more examples of Republicans who want to use tax
dollars to ignore science and even history. Human living alongside
dinosaurs, it may square with the Bible, but not with history,
unfortunately. There are not recent histories of dinosaurs living with us.
There`s no footprints in the Bible.

Anyway, that`s coming up next in the "Sideshow."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Mitt Romney is claiming he`s going to
create 12 million jobs in his first term.

(LAUGHTER)

O`BRIEN: However, Romney hasn`t said yet whether he will create those
jobs in China or India. He`s not sure. He`s still thinking.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back to HARDBALL and the "Sideshow."

Yesterday, I told you about the successful landing of the space rover
Curiosity up on Mars. Well, the rover was using so much new technology,
untested technology, that the moments before touchdown became known as the
seven minutes of terror.

Stewart and Colbert highlighted the occasion last night.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This big huge parachute that we have got, it will
only slow us down to about 200 miles an hour. So, we have got to cut it
off and come down on rockets.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": We are never
going to make it.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: What happens next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must cut the bridal immediately and fly the
descent stage to a safe distance from the rover.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The rover is now ready to collect rocks.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": We now have two rovers
on the surface of Mars and three satellites orbiting it. Basically, if the
planets are a tray of doughnuts, we have now licked Mars.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: It is ours.

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: We already had the moon. We just need Venus for the
monopoly and we can start building hotels on them.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, we got the first color photograph from the
rover, kind of a postcard format -- there it is -- provided by NASA. It`s
still pretty tough, as you can see, to make out much of what`s happening on
the Red Planet.

Finally, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal`s new education voucher
program for his state provides government funding for students to attend
private schools. Well, this is certainly one solution to failing public
schools. But a lot of people are flagging a problem with over 100
Louisiana schools participating.

At least 19 of them go the creationist route for science classes. And
according to "Mother Jones" magazine, the textbooks used by some of the
schools in the program contain some questionable arguments.

For example, from one science textbook -- quote -- "Bible-believing
Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and
humans were definitely on the Earth at the same time and may have even
lived side by side within the past few thousand years."

Well, from an economics textbook -- quote -- "Global environmentalists
have said and written enough to leave no doubt that their goal is to
destroy the prosperous economies of the world`s richest nations."

Well, and a history textbook -- quote -- "Perhaps the best-known work
of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck`s `The Grapes
of Wrath.` Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage
foreclosures, mass evictions and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics
representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America."

Well, we al thought that was history. Anyway, the purpose of the
vouchers slated to begin this fall is to give parents an alternative to
failing public schools. And students will still take part in state
testing, but some are calling for much stricter regulation on what`s being
taught in these private schools that are getting the voucher money.

And I agree.

Coming up next, we will go inside the hate rock movement, the music
scene that was relished by the suspected gunman in Sunday`s shooting
massacre in Wisconsin. We will meet a former neo-Nazi who was once a fan
of that hate music next.

You`re watching HARDBALL. Don`t leave your seats. This is the place
for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
happening.

Texas is set to execute an inmate who was diagnosed mentally impaired.
Marvin Wilson was convicted of killing a police informant decades ago. His
lawyers argued his I.Q. of 61 puts him below the competency standard, but
the Supreme Court refused to stop Wilson`s execution.

In the meantime, the man behind the gun at an event for Gabrielle
Giffords last year will be spared the death penalty. Jared Loughner pled
guilty to the Arizona shooting in a deal that puts him behind bars for
life.

And now let`s take you back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

More details are emerging now about Wade Michael Page, the gunman who
police say killed six and injured three at a Sikh temple this Sunday,
including the powerful role that music had in his life and the white
supremacy culture, a genre referred to as hate rock that spouts racist
lyrics and is used in recruitment efforts.

For more insight, let me bring in Frank Meeink. He`s author of an
autobiography of a former skinhead. And also back with us from yesterday
is Pete Simi, a professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska who
met Page, the suspect, during the course of his research 10 years ago.

Gentlemen, thank you so much.

Frank, let me ask you about it. Just tell your own story. I`m not
going to push in any direction. How did you get involved with skinheads,
with hate rock, the whole thing? And what did you learn? What made do you
it? What made you change?

FRANK MEEINK, FORMER NEO-NAZI: OK.

Well, you know, I got into it when I was about 14. I had a pretty
rough home life. And I was a pretty fearful kid. When this kind of came
into my life, here were people that gave me attention. They talked to me
about my home life. And the music part came in real quickly, because, you
know, I can go to so many Bible studies to preach hate. I can go to a
couple of meetings here and there. But what I need with me at all times
was something to keep backing up my beliefs. And the music was definitely
that part for me.

MATTHEWS: How did -- what role did race play in the whole thing, the
race part?

(CROSSTALK)

MEEINK: The race -- I mean, race became my religion.

What I thought of everyone else was that they were inferior to the
white race, and that the white race is now being duped into believing
anything by the Jewish media, and that the black races and what they call
in the movement the mud races are taking everything from us.

So -- and it gave me an outlet. When I feared something, now I got to
be the person putting the fear on the world. That`s how I felt, being part
of this movement committing hate crimes, gay bashing, you name it.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re out there -- and give me -- give me a scene
where people are playing hate rock and people are enjoying it. What`s that
like? What`s the feeling and the sentiment of that room?

MEEINK: You know, driving in a car with a bunch of skinheads,
listening to music about kicking people`s heads in, you know, finding
people of other races to destroy.

And you are sitting in a car with a bunch of you`re friends looking
for victims, it really keeps the drum beating, it is time for action.

MATTHEWS: So you think the music drives bad behavior, racist
behavior, physically?

MEEINK: It physically helped us and also the racist music is what
keeps the movement young. If it was than for the music that keeps getting
people into this, you know, you would have that old image of the Klan
sitting on the front porch with the shotgun.

Music keeps the newcomers involved. It keeps them wanting to be part
of this. It keeps them, again, wanting to be -- portray what`s going on in
the music. The music is -- I mean, I can`t -- stress how much the music is
to them.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go back to Pete. It give as you bigger sense,
this great individual story which we relish having on. So, it brings
reality to it. Frank is giving us that.

Pete, tell us what the role you see across the country that this hate
rock plays in causing bad behavior and tragedy like we just saw on Sunday
in Wisconsin.

SIMI: Well, Frank mentions it is music is central to the movement.
The music in some ways to a large extent is the movement or is a very big
part of the movement. It provides opportunities for recruitment. It
provides opportunities to generate revenue.

And probably most importantly, it provides a variety of different
occasions for individuals of like mind to come together and who share a
common cause. It helps them sustain their beliefs and provides them in a
sense of reinforcement. The lyrics are laced with ideas of violence and
aggression. The dances are aggressive. The tattoos are shown off and
reinforced, you know, prominent symbols like swastikas and others.

And so, everything about the music is -- it provides a great
opportunity for these folks to reinforce their mindset.

MATTHEWS: You know, Frank, when I heard you talking about the appeal
of hate rock and joining the skinhead groups, reminded me of all I heard
about African-American kids in tough neighborhoods, terrible home
situations being drawn by their -- the gang members. They say you can be
part of something now. You can feel at home in a way you don`t want to be
at home. And it just sounds like that.

You know what I mean?

MEEINK: No. Absolutely. My crew, of guys, my gang, that`s what we
were, too, they gave me accolades for my violence. Frankie did this or --
those guys in Philadelphia did that. We got pats on the back. You know.

And not to slam my parents and my parents weren`t the best parents to
me and -- they didn`t give me those things when I came home. I didn`t get
home and have my parents, how is school today, son? How are things going
in life? It just didn`t happen. It`s not a sob story, just the truth.

And these guys --

MATTHEWS: You didn`t get a peanut butter sandwich and apple when you
came home? You didn`t get treated --

MEEINK: Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: No. Let me ask you, how are you doing now? I need to
know. You are a Philly guy from south Philly and moved up there. Where
was the second neighborhood you moved to? You said you moved to a black
neighborhood from a white neighborhood, Irish neighborhood.

MEEINK: Yes, I moved from -- yes, second street in south Philly to
southwest Philadelphia, around 70th and Woodland Avenue, which is pretty
much at that time all black and I went to an all black school.

You know, how am I doing now? I have to tell you what changed me was
people showing me compassion, you know, at every turn. And even with my
hateful things, I had a Jewish antique dealer, I had swastika tattooed on
my neck, who gave me a chance and took, you know, a chance on letting me
work with him and used to give me accolades when I did smart things.

And when I would be -- times in my head or where I would say out loud,
"I`m so stupid" which -- see, I was an egomaniac, low self-esteem. I`m
mentally ill in a way, and he would say, man, you are one of the smartest
guys I know.

And I would have these things continuously happening in my life, and
it was compassion. That`s what I have to do today. I have to wake up -- I
had to wake up this morning and know I`m going to show compassion to
someone. Not am I going to get up and fight with the right wing guy or
left wing guy or argue with somebody, or you know, worry about issues of --
I`m going to show compassion to the next person I come in contact with.
That`s always helping my life change for the better.

MATTHEWS: Frank, I think everybody watching doesn`t hardly know you -
- knows you a little bit and they`re rooting for you. I wish everybody was
so honest. Thank you so much for coming on our show at this particular
time after this horrific violence so we can get to understand individuals
like you.

Anyway, Pete Simi, you`ve come a long way, you helped us so much and
helping us get to something. Maybe we will be better off for knowing this.
Certainly, Frank is on the right trail and I wish him well, especially
because he`s a Philly guy.

Up next, Sarah Palin would love a primetime speaking slot at the
Republican convention. We are going from the serious to the insane right
now. This conversation about her is getting primetime is great to watch
because it`s -- the whole thing is idiotic.

If she really deserved a place on the platform, she`d have one. But
this is a dickering back and forth between her and Romney. It is fun to
watch.

Wait until you see the other people that might be speaking. I hope
they do, so we know what they all stand for.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: If you are looking for clues still as to whom Mitt Romney
may choose as his vice presidential running mate, you might want to watch
Wikipedia. Four years ago, Sarah Palin`s Wikipedia page was updated at
least 68 times the day before McCain picked her. Boy, that was a looming
indicator, far more than any other potential running mates. McCain was
thought to be considering.

And today, Rob Portman has got all the action. His Wikipedia pages
have been updated at least 86 times today. And that`s more than four times
as many updates as the next leading contender, Marco Rubio. Ted Pawlenty
and Paul Ryan are all in the single digits as for changes on their
Wikipedia page.

So, could Portman be the pick?

Well, stay tuned, we always say. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back.

A few more names were added to the list of speakers at the Republican
convention coming up in Tampa later this month, including Jeb Bush, Rand
Paul, he`s a senator from Kentucky, and Rick Santorum.

But one name remains conspicuously absent so far. Where`s Sarah
Palin? Would Mitt Romney actually keep her from speaking in prime time?
And if he does, could Palin go rogue and just go outside?

Last night, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince
Priebus, weighed in. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Let me ask you about the conventions
coming up. Not on your speaker list so far, Governor Palin. Is she going
to speak?

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I can`t make that announcement tonight,
but certainly she`s great. And we -- I think a lot of her, and hope that
she does speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So will Palin get an invitation? What are the potential
risks and rewards of a Palin speech?

Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National
Committee. Ed Rendell is, of course, the former chairman of the Republican
National Committee and perhaps more important, governor of Pennsylvania.
Anyway, both are MSNBC political analysts.

I want to start with Michael.

Reince Priebus beat you, right?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s kind of interesting.

STEELE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Losing to that guy, that must be a hard life. That`s a
hard life.

STEELE: That`s another show.

MATTHEWS: See, here`s the question.

STEELE: Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: Palin, she has apparently rented some real estate right
near where we`re operating in Tampa --

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Right outside where some kind of shopping mall there, where
she`ll be able to give her speech without permission. She can start
speaking at 9:15, 10:15, anytime she wants. She can wait for the V.P.
nominee to stand up and she`d give her speech and challenge him. What`s
going to stop her?

STEELE: That`s not going to happen? That`s -- I mean, look --

MATTHEWS: So, what`s going to happen?

STEELE: I don`t know what`s going to happen. I think at the end of
the day, the Romney campaign will inform the RNC as to whether or not
she`ll speak and then, Reince Priebus will announce it, and that`s how that
will work. And until such time Palin will go about her business doing her
thing. I think it would make a lot of sense to have her speak quite
frankly.

MATTHEWS: When all the networks on?

STEELE: Yes, absolutely. I think --

MATTHEWS: Governor Rendell, do you think it`s smart to have her?
Would you try to regulate her, make sure you saw her speech ahead of time?
What would you do if you`re Romney, who`s a very careful guy?

ED RENDELL, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, first of all, it`s my
understanding, and correct me if I`m wrong, Chris, that the networks are
only going to devote an hour a night?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: Is that correct?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: Well, you can`t, when you think of the list of speakers, you
have to have the keynote, you have to have John McCain, you have to Romney,
you have to have the vice presidential nominee. There really isn`t a whole
lot of time to put her in that one-hour slot.

I would give her a slot when CNN, MSNBC, FOX are covering before the
10:00 slot and I would ask her to submit written remarks so we could screen
them -- if I were the Romney team and the RNC. But --

MATTHEWS: But why would she take a deal like that? Why would she
walk off the primetime stage when she can reach four times as many people
by saying, damn it, guys, I deserve, I was on the ticket last time. I
deserve to speak between 10:00 and 11:00 Eastern Time. You got to put me
there or I`m going to speak outside at the same time in the mall the same
time you guys are trying to sell some loser on primetime? What`s to stop
her?

RENDELL: Well, I think at that point, it`s a question of are you a
wuss or not? You have to stand up to Sarah Palin if you`re the Romney
campaign.

MATTHEWS: Your favorite word. You have a book with that in it.

RENDELL: No, it`s absolutely true. Chris, it`s absolutely true.
They can`t let her call the shots. They have to call the shots. And she
should be on the convention.

She should be on MS. She should be on CNN. She should be on FOX.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: But you`ve only got four hours and you got a boatload of
people you have to cram in there. It`s only three hours, excuse me. Three
hours. That`s right. So you really don`t have the time.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: I think -- I think, look, you have to look beyond the
convention and what Sarah Palin can and will do for the party and the
nominee post convention. Organizing, grassroots, getting the base fired
up. Give her -- look, you`re not talking -- she`s not going to talk for an
hour. You give her 10 minutes, 15 minutes tops, and primetime, to speak to
the country, to speak to the base, to speak about the direction we need to
go in.

Her support for Mitt Romney and this team, whoever his vice
presidential nominee is, I think that`s a good thing. It can help. It
can`t hurt.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: And certainly, it can help him galvanize the base out of the
box.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Governor, will they start the party, among the people in
the burbs who are somewhat undecided, quickly, yes or no -- will she hurt
if she`s on primetime?

RENDELL: No, no, not if she speaks and not if she speaks and doesn`t
say anything out of school.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Michael Steele and Ed Rendell.
We`re having fun with this baby.

When we return, let me finish with who I think should speak at the
convention. Wait until you hear the list of -- well, they`re pretty much
insane people.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I see a little friction
developing over whether former Governor Sarah Palin should speak at the
Republican national convention.

I say, let her speak. Let her bring down the house with that history
lesson of hers, about how Paul Revere did that midnight ride of his to keep
the Brits from taking away our guns.

I say, let them all speak.

Let`s have U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, let`s get her up there
to launch her latest crusade against anti-American Democrats in the House
of Representatives and those Muslim Brotherhood agents she says are working
in the office of the secretary of state.

And let`s not limit this. Newt Gingrich deserves a turn. He can
remind us of how women shouldn`t serve in combat unlike men who he says are
natural fighters because we have a God-made urge to go out and hunt
giraffes.

And how about having Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Iowa Congressman
Steve King and, of course, Donald Trump, all give another course of the
latest birther theories. And Allen West who says there are 78 to 81
communists among the Democrats in Congress, and Sharron Angle to explain
how we can use our Second Amendment remedies if we don`t like the other
speakers, and what t they have to say. And Christine O`Donnell to deny the
witch charge again.

And what about those other folks on the right? Let`s hear from Frank
Gaffney. Have him explain why the government is infiltrated by the Muslim
Brotherhood, starting with a sequence of the people around George W. Bush.
And Glenn Beck to call the president a racist once more, and Rick Santorum
to say again that Mitt Romney is the worst Republican in the country to run
against Obama, and Rush, the underwater walrus, to do that dance of his.

And when all those voices are serenading us from every corner of
Tampa, when the country can hear all of the crazy cacophony of the right,
when they can hear the loud large screeching of bedlam on primetime, they
will know what awaits them should this election take their turn.

And what can we call this symphony of the absurd? How about caveat
emptor? Let the buyer beware. Because this is the bedlam they could, just
five months from now, have ruling our republic.

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

"THE ED SHOW" with Ed Schultz 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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