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updated 8/10/2012 10:42:43 AM ET 2012-08-10T14:42:43

Guests: Newt Gingrich, John Feehery, Joan Walsh, Robert Costa, Ron Christie

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Newt Gingrich.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this Romney search for a running mate.
What`s he really looking for, a partner to run the country with for the
next eight years or four years? Does anybody really believe that he`s out
there looking for someone to share the burden and grandeur of office?

Is it someone to be in the room when great decisions are called for?
Does anybody really believe Romney`s the kind of guy to share the decision-
making power of the presidency? So what does he want? Someone to help win
the election, obviously. Someone to get him a state he`s unlikely to get
otherwise. Then he`d pick Portman, perhaps, of Ohio or Rubio of Florida.
They`ll get him a state each.

Someone to complement his personality -- that`s to use that term
loosely -- someone to offset his rich guy stiffness and remoteness. Then
he`d pick a regular middle-class guy like, say, Pawlenty, to Pawlenty of
Minnesota.

How about someone to show ideological conviction, the kind people
don`t really associate with Romney himself? Then Paul Ryan would make the
case.

I`ve got an idea. How about he makes a running mate decision that
shows who he, Mitt Romney, really is, someone who really has the right
stuff to be president. Now, that would show character, judgment, true
patriotism, all important to any president, no matter what his philosophy.
So let`s see where he`s heading.

Joining me right now is a guy who really knows, former speaker of the
House Newt Gingrich, who ran against Romney for the nomination. Mr.
Speaker, thank you.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good
to be here.

MATTHEWS: So you must be -- you must be thinking and you must have
your ear to this. Is he going to do the obvious, white bread, double down
on boredom and pick Portman or Pawlenty?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Is he going to reach over to the right and say, Damn it,
I`m going to pick a guy of conviction to my right, I`m going to Ryan, Paul
Ryan?

GINGRICH: I don`t know. And I don`t think anybody knows. I think
the only three people who have a pretty good idea about this are Beth
Myers, who`s doing the job...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: ... and Governor Romney and his wife Ann. I think those
are the only three people I believe who really are in the inner circle in
this decision.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about this. First of all, if he had to pick
somebody that had nothing to do with electability, just somebody to be
really smart in the back room with him, sitting there when the tough
decisions are made and he says, What do you think? What do you -- and that
really means something to him, which of these guys should he pick...

GINGRICH: Well, look...

MATTHEWS: ... just for sheer smarts?

GINGRICH: ... the smartest strategic thinker in Republican elected
office today is Paul Ryan. I mean, you look at what he has mastered in the
budget, you look at -- whether you like or dislike the details, this is a
guy who has thought deeply about the reshaping of the American government
to make it affordable at a level that`s really pretty courageous.

And he`s done it in a blue collar district with a large UAW
membership, a lot of auto plants, and he`s gotten reelected by big margins
going home and telling people who he is and what he honestly believes.

MATTHEWS: Across the board, he would be the brain you`d want in that
little room to make a decision.

GINGRICH: He`d be -- no, let me be clear. I mean, Rob Portman is
very, very smart. Marco Rubio was a great speaker of the house in Florida.
I`ve known Marco for years. He has a tremendous future, in my judgment.
Governor McDonnell`s a great governor of Virginia, and Virginia`s going to
be -- could well be the -- Virginia could be for this election what Ohio
was...

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

GINGRICH: ... in 2004.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: So you look at a number of these places where these -- the
thing with the Republican Party today is, compared to when I was young and
you were young, there`s a lot deeper bench than there was 20 years ago.

MATTHEWS: But it`s also to the right of where it was. And I want to
ask you about Ryan, who was your first impulse to go to him. Do you have a
sense -- he does demonstrate courage. He does -- he did have a plan.
Nobody else seems to have a plan.

He did, however, go very tough on Medicare, which you know is a live
wire for seniors and other people.

GINGRICH: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he can translate his guts as a committee chair
to his necessary judgment as a candidate for VP?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, first of all, Ryan came back, learned a lot
from his first effort, produced a bill with Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.
So you now have a bipartisan bill to save Medicare that Ron Wyden speaks
well of and introduced in the Senate.

MATTHEWS: OK.

GINGRICH: So I mean, I think this is...

MATTHEWS: OK...

GINGRICH: And again, I`m not advocating Paul...

MATTHEWS: I know what you`re thinking...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... your impulse here about something most people don`t
think about because that seems to be where Bill Kristol`s pushing him. A
lot of these guys are out there pushing him...

GINGRICH: Sure.

MATTHEWS: ... (INAUDIBLE) influence on your side. Let me ask you
about the old things you think about and some boring adviser comes up with
this. Well, we need geographic balance so you got it there. Romney`s sort
of Massachusetts, so Utah, I guess, in a way.

GINGRICH: And Michigan.

MATTHEWS: That`s true.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Right. He has roots every -- he also has a house in Santa
Barbara. So what about the religion thing -- and you`re a converted
Catholic and I salute you for making these deep decisions in life and --
this thing, though, being an RC, Paul Ryan, and an LDS -- is that still a
question for people in the deep South, in the Bible Belt, to have a
Catholic and a Mormon on the ticket?

GINGRICH: No.

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t that be a problem?

GINGRICH: Not if Obama`s the alternative, no.

MATTHEWS: They`ll be...

GINGRICH: It`s easy.

MATTHEWS: They will just go against Obama.

GINGRICH: And people say to me, How -- how is Romney going to
motivate the conservative movement? I say they`re going to wake up every
morning, turn on the TV, remember who`s president and be totally motivated.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: I mean, the desire among virtually every conservative in
this country to beat Barack Obama transcends any concern about Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: What about picking someone who would be good for my
business, a Christie?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: No, I`m being selfish here! There`s not a guy or woman in
this business I talk to that doesn`t wish like hell he`d -- or like heaven
he would pick Christie because he`s so quotable. He`s so big, not just
physically, he`s just so big a personality. He would really shake this
election up.

GINGRICH: Well, I`ve always -- as a guy who`s always had a weight
problem, I`ve always hoped Christie would become a national figure...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: ... so I could stand...

MATTHEWS: You`d look like...

GINGRICH: ... in his shadow...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: No, I mean, Christie`s had a great run as governor. Again,
I mean, he said he`s very dubious about making the transition from a first
term as governor. But on the other hand, Woodrow Wilson went all the way
to presidency from one term as governor of New Jersey (ph).

MATTHEWS: Yes. He was from Virginia (ph). Let me ask you about the
tough part of this thing. Why is it that people who run against Romney --
now, maybe this is just politics. You`ve been in it so long. They don`t
like him afterwards.

I mean, you`ve said some tough things, you know, but they are -- you
(INAUDIBLE) you`ve said. People like Huckabee, seems like such a pleasant
guy -- he really despises him. He says he has no soul. You see this
everywhere. Rudy Giuliani didn`t like him, really got nasty about -- what
is -- is it his wealth, his looks?

GINGRICH: No, he just...

MATTHEWS: Is there something that really bugs people about his -- his
rivalry?

GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, I think that Mitt and I get
along fine. We get a lot of stuff done together. And I don`t particularly
dislike him as a person...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: No, no. I mean, it`s -- this is a tough business.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: And you know that. You...

MATTHEWS: Well, what is there is something about him...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: He`s a very tough competitor. And he takes no prisoners.

MATTHEWS: The negative advertising he did against you and Rick
Santorum wasn`t to his face -- wasn`t to your face in debates. It was that
Dresden-style bombing in the primaries by his super-PACs. That had to get
to you...

GINGRICH: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: ... because he wasn`t doing it man to man, he was just
paying for it.

GINGRICH: I think the best way to think of our fight was I threw a
kitchen sink at him. He had a bigger kitchen. And he threw a kitchen --
he threw the whole kitchen at me.

But I think that part of what happens in those settings is Romney`s a
very intense, directed guy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: I mean, he has been thinking about this since his dad was
governor, since his mother ran for the Senate. He ran in `94...

MATTHEWS: Why does he want to be president? Because his dad didn`t
make it?

GINGRICH: No, I think he wants to be president because he think`s the
country`s in deep trouble.

MATTHEWS: OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, you just contradicted yourself. You said he`s been
running since his dad was around. And now you`re saying it`s because the
country`s in trouble.

GINGRICH: I`m saying -- I`m saying he understands the business. He`s
been in the business. He`s been very tough. But he and I had several
conversations because we`re both grandparents and we both have this same
feeling that the reelection of Barack Obama is a terrible thing to put on
our grandchildren.

MATTHEWS: OK. You have the problem I have, Joe Biden has. I`m not
in your league, of course, politically, what you`ve done. But I tend to
think and say what I`m thinking. You do it all the time.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You do it. Joe Biden does it and Christie does it. Mitt
Romney`s not that guy. He was in a hardware store up in Wolfboro the other
day. The press says, What did you buy? I bought hardware stuff. He comes
out of a grocery store and he said, What do you buy, he said, Groceries.
He seems to have this instinctive cloaking around himself.

GINGRICH: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Can run for president and win the presidency with that
cloak around you?

GINGRICH: Sure.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Say the words Dwight David Eisenhower.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but he had received the Nazi surrender.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... well, this guy hasn`t done something like that. Let me
ask you this. Why doesn`t he just get the taxes out, show the returns, 5
or 10 years, take the hit, move on?

GINGRICH: Oh, because I think he believes two things will happen.
The first is folks in your business will spend three weeks lovingly going
over every single detail. And the second...

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s in there that he`s hiding? What are these
details he`s afraid of?

GINGRICH: No, it`s not even things that are being hidden, you know?
It`s just -- something`ll show up, and that`ll become a story, and then
this`ll be a story and then...

MATTHEWS: Yes, but they won`t be negative. This is a story. If it`s
just little details -- you must believe that it`s worse than it looks
because why wouldn`t he put it out?

GINGRICH: No, I think the second reason is they think you do this,
and then what`s the next demand? And what`s the demand after that?

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) you did as him to do the returns (INAUDIBLE)

GINGRICH: I did.

MATTHEWS: So now you`re changing. You`re getting -- you want to be
in the loop with this guy!

Anyway, two new polls out today with dramatic results. I want you to
assess these. Take a look at these. In the latest CNN national poll Obama
leads Romney by 7. And last month, Obama led in that same poll 3 points.
Among independent voters, the lead is even strong, 11 points Obama.

A brand-new Fox poll just came out, has Obama up by 9. Last month,
Fox had -- last month, they had him up by 4. There is a trend in the
tactics. His tactics are tougher. Do you think that`ll change the
results?

GINGRICH: I think that the Romney people -- when you see them start
with the welfare ad, the Romney people are going to have to come back and
match Obama. Obama spent a lot of money in about seven weeks trying to
cripple Romney before they got to the general election.

MATTHEWS: I know.

GINGRICH: And they...

MATTHEWS: It works sometimes.

GINGRICH: And they spent a ton of money doing it. I mean, they`re
going to limp into the general election with a lot less resources than
Romney has.

MATTHEWS: Well...

GINGRICH: The Romney...

MATTHEWS: ... they`ll raise a lot more money if they`re 8 points
ahead.

GINGRICH: But the Romney people are now going to have to come back --
and I, frankly, find both those polls -- I mean, I`d like to look at...

MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They keep changing. I know that. But these are the same
polls moving up.

GINGRICH: I know. They just don`t strike me as plausible, given
what`s happening in the country at large. I don`t think you get 8.3
percent unemployment and have, you know, Obama...

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s what...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What they`re finding is that people believe Romney`s very
rich and he`s looking out for his own crowd. He has an interest in his
upper class people economically, and that`s who he wants to root for and
set policy for, not for the middle class. That`s hurting him. These ads
are sticking about Bain.

GINGRICH: Yes. Well, I think -- I think what you`ve had is a
relentless assault by Obama, who spent an enormous amount of money this
summer on what`s a big gamble. And I think what you`re going to find is as
they get deeper into the campaign and Romney counterattacks, which he will
-- and this welfare thing is the first big step...

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

GINGRICH: ... in that direction, I think this will be an even race by
-- by Labor Day or shortly thereafter. And I think that the burden is
going to be on Obama.

MATTHEWS: Well, the big story, Mr. Speaker, is Andrea Saul the other
day basically reminding everybody that Mitt Romney had a health care plan
up in Massachusetts and this guy who was in that ad that who tough on him
and said, My wife died because of him, would have been better off if he had
had "Romney care."

And then all of a sudden, people like Laura Grimm -- Laura Grammer --
or Laura Ingraham are jumping on her and Ann Coulter`s saying she should be
fired. But isn`t she saying what Romney was saying through much of his
career, I`m proud of what I did in Massachusetts, it worked?

GINGRICH: No, he`s not -- he hasn`t backed off, and he`s also said
that was the right thing for one state. That doesn`t mean...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: ... for the country.

MATTHEWS: ... his chief spokesperson said the other that would have
been the right thing for the guy living in Indiana, as well. So it`s not
just Massachusetts.

GINGRICH: Well...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) and she says he`d be better off if he had the
plan from Massachusetts helping them there. She said that.

GINGRICH: Well, I suspect she picked a fight she regrets.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this. Let me ask you about Bill Clinton
because you used to tussle with him.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You were like Tip and you (ph). And you tussled with that
guy, but you got charmed by him until he put you on the wrong end of the
plane that time.

But here`s this guy. Is he really out for Obama? Has he decided in
his calculation that if Obama gets reelected, it creates a better
environment for his wife to be elected president in `16 because the next
four years are economically going to be better, no matter who president --
the president -- that`s what I believe it is. We`re on an upswing in the
cycle. It`s going to come back because of inventories and other things.
Housing`s going to get sold. We`re going to get better off.

So who gets to be president and gets to have a good time for the next
four years? If Romney gets in, you won`t get him out in four years.
That`s my theory.

GINGRICH: Well, I -- look...

MATTHEWS: If you`re Hillary.

GINGRICH: I think it`s very hard -- first of all, I don`t think most
politicians are quite that calculating and I think...

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton?

GINGRICH: No, from the standpoint -- I think Bill Clinton knows you
can`t guess 2016.

MATTHEWS: So what`s your instinct, to go to for the win?

GINGRICH: Well, I think he has -- I think he`s trapped into going for
the win. First of all, his wife works for the guy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GINGRICH: I mean it`s pretty hard for him not to be...

MATTHEWS: But he can trim him, and he`s not trimming him. I don`t
see the trim there.

GINGRICH: No. And I think the fact that he agreed to be -- to give
the nominating speech -- but I wrote my newsletter this week and made the
case, in "Human Events," that I think it`s a very big risk for Obama to
have Clinton...

MATTHEWS: The Big Dog.

MATTHEWS: ... give the nominating speech because it reminds you how
weak the Obama record is...

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK...

GINGRICH: ... compared to Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but they can -- they can outspeak each other. Anyway,
I remember Jerry Ford being on the same platform with Ronald Reagan, too.
That was a mistake. But I think Clinton`s going to play ball. I think
he`s decided this president`s got to get reelected for his wife to have a
shot, and he wants her to run. I don`t think she`s decided. He has.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, thank you for coming on HARDBALL.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: You`re always welcome here because you have an alive mind.

Coming up: The way the right wing pounced on the Romney campaign for
touting Romney`s Massachusetts health care plan, you get the sense they
really don`t trust this guy and actually never have.

So can Romney win back by making Paul Ryan, as the speaker just
suggested impulsively, his running mate? The conservative elite continue
to push for the Wisconsin congressman -- you just heard one of them --
even though his plans to replace Medicare may not sit well with seniors.

And Mitt Romney famously said he likes firing people. But what about
his campaign staffers who keep blowing it on the trail? One touts his now
embarrassing health care plan. Another says the campaign is like an Etch-
A-Sketch. Still another told reporters to kiss his you know what. So what
does it take to get fired from the Romney campaign?

Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the campaigns that refuse to inspire us
with a future we want.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The presidential battleground map is shrinking as we speak.
Mitt Romney hasn`t expanded the playing field into places like
Pennsylvania, for example, and the upper Midwest.

For a look now at where the campaign is being fought, here are the top
five cities with the most TV advertising in this presidential race as of
this week. At number five, it`s Richmond, Virginia. Number four, Des
Moines, Iowa. Number three, it`s back to the Old Dominion, Roanoke,
Virginia -- two there. Number two is Cincinnati, Ohio. And the hottest TV
ad market in the presidential race this week, Colorado Springs.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. If you`re Mitt Romney and you
want the right go apoplectic, just have your spokesperson say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: To that point, you know, if
-- you know, if people had been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney`s
health care plan, they would have had health care. There are a lot of
people losing their jobs and losing their health care in President Obama`s
economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was Andrea Saul just yesterday on Fox News
responding to the new Obama super-PAC ad narrated by a man who blames
Romney for his wife`s death after Bain Capital closed the steel plant he
worked in.

Well, right-wingers, including Rush Limbaugh, were furious.
Conservative blogger Eric Erickson of Redstate wrote, "The Romney campaign
decided to sabotage itself with a mind-numbing bit of spin that may work
the day -- that may mark the day the Romney campaign died."

And Ann Coulter blew up last night on Fox News. Let`s watch her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Anyone who donates to Mitt
Romney -- and I mean the big donors -- ought to call Mitt Romney and say if
Andrea Saul isn`t fired and off the campaign tomorrow, they are not giving
another dime because it is not worth fighting for this man! If this is the
kind of spokesman he has to respond to an ad like this by citing health
care in Massachusetts! There`s no point in us going to convention and
pushing for this man if he`s employing morons like this!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Morons? So did the dam break? Is it the deeper problem
that they never trusted him to begin with, the conservatives?

Joan Walsh is editor-at-large at Salon. She`s also an MSNBC political
analyst. And John Feehery is a Republican strategist.

John, there`s an old rule in politics that you know who your enemies
are because when you make a mistake, they jump on you. The fact that Ann
Coulter and Laura Ingraham and others like Eric Erickson were poised to
jump on this guy -- Rush Limbaugh -- it tells me something about their
instincts towards him.

What`s it tell you? Why`d they jump so ferociously on this? Why
didn`t they just help him out?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Eric Erickson does not
like Mitt Romney. He can`t stand him. He has not been able to stand him
for a long time. And the fact of the matter is that he`s -- he`s -- he`s
been after Mitt Romney since the beginning of the campaign.

And let me say this about Andrea Saul. I think she`s a good
spokesperson. I think she`s a good person and I like her a lot.

And I think that, at the end of the day, this is a small blip in a
long campaign.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Laura Ingraham, by the way, joined Ann Coulter in bashing Andrea Saul
today on her radio show. Let`s listen to Laura.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW")

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There is no room for these
types of errors, no room at all.

The other side will get a pass right up until Election Day for
falsehoods and for screw-ups. That`s what the Obama people have always
gotten. They always get a free pass. But guess what? The rules are
different for Republican candidates. You`re not going to get a pass. And
Andrea Saul just gave the Obama campaign a big, fat, wet kiss.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And here`s what conservative "Washington Examiner"
columnist Philip Klein wrote today, countering what Ann Coulter said, that
Romney needs to fire Andrea Saul. He said the problem isn`t a personnel
issue.

Quote: "The bottom line is that Romney was a moderate to liberal
governor of Massachusetts. Should Romney lose, conservatives shouldn`t
blame his staff. All his problems are attributable to his inherent
weaknesses as a candidate."

Well, let me go to Joan on this, who is a liberal -- I mean, a
progressive.

Joan, this is weird, because the spokesperson to me spoke what the
candidate has been in the past...

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... someone who`s proud of their health care plan, which
did become a model for Obamacare nationwide.

Now, he says he wants it done state by state. But on the fundamental
question of the individual mandate, which is we all should have insurance
and help pay for it, to our extent of our ability to do so, is the
fundamental agreement between Romney and Obama. And the spokesperson in
that case admitted it, in fact bragged about it.

WALSH: Right. Well, she`s stuck, Chris, because Romney himself
doesn`t really know what he thinks about his own plan.

He`s gone from touting it. He`s gone from saying in 2009 that it
should be the model for the country, the model for Obamacare. It turns out
it kind of was a model for Obamacare. But then he doesn`t like it. Then,
just yesterday, he said we`re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and
since I have got a little experience with health care, you know I will be
good at doing that.

But what does that mean? What would he do? He has a crazy
reluctance. I have said it before. It`s like he`s in the Mittness
protection program.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: He was never Massachusetts governor. He didn`t do any of that
stuff.

So, he can`t embrace it, but he can`t entirely run away from it. It`s
not a problem of his staff. Eric Fehrnstrom did the same thing. He spoke
the truth about -- whether you call it a penalty or a tax, you have to pay
something if you refuse to get health insurance. That`s a Republican
principle. They don`t like freeloaders and free-riders.

MATTHEWS: I know.

WALSH: They should be proud of that. That became the national law.
They should be proud of that. But, instead, they don`t like it anymore
because a Democrat did it. They really have a problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, fortunately, Joan and John, we have tape to prove
what you said, that Romney for a long time was fairly happy with what he`d
done out there. He completely ran away from his achievements, but before
he did what he did up in Massachusetts, before he stopped talking about it,
he was actually proud of it.

He even said it should be the model for the nation. Take a listen.

WALSH: That`s right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2009)

QUESTION: How do you ensure the 45 or 50 million Americans who are
not on the books?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Well, that`s what we
did in Massachusetts. And that is, we put together an exchange, and the
president`s copying that idea. I`m glad to hear that.

We have a model that worked. One state in America, my state, was able
to put in place a plan that got everybody health insurance. Therefore, the
right way to proceed is to reform health care. That, we can do as we did
it in Massachusetts, as Wyden-Bennett is proposing doing it at the national
level.

We need health care reform. And, you know, we took that on in
Massachusetts. We decided we wanted to get everybody insured. We have
done that. I understand that the president considers his plan in some
respects following the model of Massachusetts. Let`s learn from our
experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, this makes no sense, John Feehery, because FDR,
before he was elected president, did basically the New Deal in New York.
And then when he got elected president, he carried the New Deal nationwide.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: It`s a fair estimate that a guy or a woman who gets to be
elected president will do what they have done before nationwide.

They may encourage it to be done state by state, but they do want the
individual mandate as a principle. Is Romney for or against the concept of
an individual mandate, us taking responsibility, as Joan said, for our own
health care to the extent we can? Is he for it or against it?

FEEHERY: Well, let me say this. Barack Obama was against the
individual mandate when he campaigned. And then he signed it into law.

MATTHEWS: I know. He changed his mind.

FEEHERY: He completely changed his mind.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton encouraged him, I think.

Go ahead.

FEEHERY: He compromised. He compromised.

MATTHEWS: I think what Mitt Romney believes is that this happens best
at the state level. And he had this Massachusetts, Mitt Romneycare, if you
want to call it that.

And it worked in Massachusetts. But it does not necessarily work
across the country. What happens in Mississippi is different than what
happens in Massachusetts. What happens in Mississippi is different than
what happens in California.

And the problem with Obamacare is, it`s a nationwide program and it`s
a big federal bureaucracy. And it`s a real problem. And I think you can
be consistent and say, I was for Romneycare, but I was against Obamacare.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s pretty weak. Let me tell you why.

Tell me any state governor who has an income tax and tell me they are
against the national income tax, but they like their state income tax. If
you`re for the principle of taxing income, if you`re for the principle of
people having to pay their own share of their health care costs, they can`t
freeload at the E.R., if you`re for in principle, that`s a deeper fact than
which level of government handles it.

By the way, Romney`s spokesman as of the other day said that guy
living in Indiana would be better off if he was living in Massachusetts.
But he should benefit from the same kind of health care, and he wasn`t
getting it because he left the state lines.

This is hard to argue, what Romney`s up to. And that`s why the right
wing of your party is giving him hell for it.

Joan Walsh, John Feehery.

Thanks for a good effort by John. Not tonight.

It ain`t your night.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Up next; the truth about those voter I.D. laws, courtesy of
Jon Stewart.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and the "Sideshow."

We have been talking a lot about those new Republican-backed voter
photo I.D. laws and how they could tilt the election to the Republican
side.

Well, the big question is where`s the evidence to support the need for
these new photo I.D. laws?

Well, last night, Jon Stewart had something to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Even
Pennsylvania, which is now defending its photo I.D. law in court, said
this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state admits that it is -- quote -- "not aware
of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania."

In addition, the state says it has no evidence to prove that -- quote
-- "in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in December (sic) 2012 in the
absence of the photo I.D. law."

STEWART: I rest my case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: If it ain`t broke, don`t fix it.

Finally, last month, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis joined me here
on HARDBALL to talk about their new movie, "The Campaign," which opens in
theaters at midnight tonight.

I saw the movie before, and I loved it. However, I know two brothers
who aren`t going to like this movie, the Koch brothers, who bear a
remarkable resemblance to the movie`s bad guys, the Motch brothers, played
by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow.

Earlier this week, Zach Galifianakis took a personal shot at the Koch
brothers -- quote -- "I think it is pretty often that the Motch brothers
represent the Koch brothers. I disagree with everything they do. They are
creepy and there is no way around that. It`s not freedom, what they`re
doing."

Anyway, the Koch brothers apparently didn`t appreciate being called
creepy. Their spokesman took a stab back at Zach -- quote -- "It`s
laughable to take political guidance or moral instruction from a guy who
makes obscene gestures with a monkey on a bus in Bangkok. We disagree with
his uninformed characterization of Koch and our beliefs."

Well, I`m with Zach against the flacks working for the Koch brothers.

Up next: The drumbeat on the right to make Paul Ryan Mitt Romney`s
running mate is getting louder and louder. Can Romney appease
conservatives by putting their golden boy right there on the ticket with
him? That`s the hottest news in Washington right now.

And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. I`m Veronica De
La Cruz. And here`s what`s happening.

The CDC warned today a new strain of swine flu is spreading, 158 cases
this week alone, mostly in children. The good news, so far cases appear to
have spread through direct contact with pigs, and not person-to-person.

After weeks of speculation, attorneys for James Holmes disclosed in
court the suspect Colorado gunman is mentally ill.

And the Dow broke a four-day winning streak today, shedding 10 points.
The S&P gained less than a point and the Nasdaq up seven.

I`m Veronica De La Cruz -- now back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FATAL ATTRACTION")

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: What am I supposed to do? You won`t answer my
calls. You changed your number. I`m not going to be ignored, Dan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "I`m not going to be ignored."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: What guy can ever forget that movie?

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That scene from "Fatal Attraction" should carry a message to Mitt
Romney about the right wing of his party. They will not be ignored. And
the conservative establishment has made sure Romney knows that they want
Paul Ryan to be his V.P.

Today, two heavyweights joined in the "Wall Street Journal" -- there
they are -- the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page asked, why not Paul
Ryan? And in Politico today, Rich Lowry, the editor of "National Review,"
another conservative organ, counsels, Romney, don`t fear Ryan.

But should Romney fear the right?

Bob Costa writes for "The National Review," a great magazine. And Ron
Christie is a Republican strategist.

Welcome back.

And let me go. I want to start with you and then to you.

But jump in here. You guys are on the right. I`m not. Is this a
move to show they got the muscle, or is this the move to really help them
to get the nomination mean something by winning with it in November?

ROBERT COSTA, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Little bit of both.

For a long time, there`s been this rising discontent on they right
that Romney is running a campaign that is referendum on the economy. Part
of this push for Ryan is making this a choice on fiscal issues that are
facing this country. They`re saying, Romney, you have got to play a little
more aggressive. Ryan`s that play.

MATTHEWS: Instead of just waiting for the bad numbers to get worse...

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... which Romney seems to be doing by trying -- I`m going
to talk about it at the end of the show -- avoid mistakes, let the numbers
do their talking and then you win.

They`re saying, show your ideology.

CHRISTIE: Well, I think that`s right.

And I think Karl Rove also had a piece in "The Wall Street Journal"
that said by Romney being even means he`s ahead.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but we got two new polls today that splatter that
across the wall.

CHRISTIE: Just hang on a second.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, I`m not going to wait a second. It is my show. And
there are two numbers, eight and nine.

Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Hang on. Hang on a second. My point is this.

MATTHEWS: Rove is wrong.

CHRISTIE: No, I think Rove is absolutely right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, he said the polls are even.

CHRISTIE: If I am Mitt Romney right now...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But the polls are not even. Your premise is wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: No, my premise is right.

If you look at the battleground states, if you look at how close the
two of them are between where they were a couple of months ago, the fact
that Barack Obama has spent over $100 million trying to bring him down,
he`s essentially even.

My point that I`m going to try to make here to you is this one. It`s
a very simple one. The Ryan folks, the folks who are pushing Paul Ryan say
Romney has got to sure himself up on the right. They don`t trust him.
They don`t believe he`s their guy.

I don`t buy that. I think you could pick a guy like Rob Portman that
the conservatives would like and still get all the bounce that you need of
getting a credible candidate who could take over on day one.

MATTHEWS: Well, then why are they making all this noise?

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: They`re making the noise. Let me finish the point.
They`re making the noise because they want Romney to hear them. They want
Romney to say, we are the Republican right-wing establishment.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: To what effect?

CHRISTIE: To the effect that they want to try to get a more
conservative candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: But you talk about this noise. I don`t think this is just
noise, Chris. I talked to people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I don`t mean it negatively. I think it`s real. It`s a
roar.

COSTA: No, it`s real. It`s a roar.

But I think Romney recognizes. This guy was ruthless. You talked to
Gingrich earlier in the show about how Romney playing hardball in the
primary. I think Romney wants to win this bad. He knows he needs to
energize in the right in the general election. If you pick a pick that is
just kind of vanilla...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me try the politics. You`re right. They aren`t they
like the guy. They mistrust him in many quarters.

Here`s the question. Does he want to share it? Because if he wins
this thing by picking a Portman, as you say, Portman`s his guy.

COSTA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: If he buckles to this pressure and he picks a guy further
to his right like Ryan, he sort of shares the ticket with this guy.

CHRISTIE: No way.

MATTHEWS: No?

COSTA: No, he`s not. Ryan`s a governing pick. Ryan is House Budget
Committee chairman, close with Boehner, close with McConnell.

Ryan shares the same Portman persona of a governing pick.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But will he have won because he picked Ryan, rather than
picking his own guy?

COSTA: Romney likes Ryan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Then why isn`t he picking him without all this heat?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Answer the question. All these heat, you think he`s headed
towards Ryan with the heat?

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: I think he`s headed towards Ryan without the heat. Just
follow the tea leaves.

Since before Ryan endorsed in the primary, Romney`s been calling Ryan
and asking advice about his fiscal platform.

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: Romney already came out and embraced the Ryan budget. He
already gave it an endorsement of sorts. So, Romney is thinking to himself
if this election is going to be about fiscal issues and about the Ryan
budget, why not just put him on the ticket and make the argument?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: This isn`t fair, but I`m going to do it, because you are
nice to be on as guests.

Who`s going to be his running mate?

CHRISTIE: Rob Portman.

COSTA: I think Paul Ryan. I think the buzz is real.

MATTHEWS: The buzz is real, meaning?

CHRISTIE: No.

COSTA: The buzz is real. I think people in Boston think Ryan`s
sharp. They want someone who`s going to energize the right.

It`s not just a push from the right. It`s partly that. But I think
Romney recognizes he needs to make a decision here that`s more than just
Portman or Pawlenty, who are solid guys, solid conservatives.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me tell you about this guy. I think the guy has
got -- he steps on land mines. Going after Medicare is always tricky,
because older people, as we all know, vote regularly. And they`re there.
And they`re very sensitive, because once you reach 75 or so, health is
everything and somebody`s paying for it. Medicare.

And you don`t want that messed with. So that`s a tricky business.

CHRISTIE: Why...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: ... been making the argument on Medicare all year? That`s
the big problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s my problem. Romney runs kind of an opaque
campaign. He goes to a hardware store and people say, what are you buying,
and he says, I bought some hardware stuff. He tends to be opaque. He
hopes the numbers will win for him. Right?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I think that`s right.

MATTHEWS: But if he goes with this guy, Ryan is going to talk. Ryan
is going to say what a right-winger, what a fiscally conservative person
believes and how it`s going to be different than Obama.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Does Romney want that kind of campaign?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I think he does.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A very clear campaign?

CHRISTIE: A very clear campaign. I think he`s going to have to call
out a very clear contrast between the president`s record, what the
president said, what the president has done.

You get that with a Portman. You get it with a Ryan. I just think
all this chatter on the right that we need Paul Ryan is a little overblown.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s forget ideology for a second. The knock on
Portman, I don`t know the guy. He doesn`t come on this program. But
Pawlenty seems like a nice guy, a regular guy.

But Portman, everybody says he`s boring. Romney`s not exciting. Is
there a danger into why white bread -- if you excuse the expression --
candidates, who are just, well, you`re not going to kill yourself next them
on an airplane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I think Portman brings a lot, though. If
Romney wants to have a governing pick, he doesn`t want someone who`s just
going to excite. There`s a lot from the Palin example four years ago. You
want to pick --

MATTHEWS: I saw a middle ground here between Palin and Portman.
Portman --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say about this about Portman, I saw him on
Colorado yesterday, known as a guy that doesn`t excite. He confused the
conservatives on the trail. He`s not as bad as people say he is on the
trail.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, not a Hail Mary but a pass.

CHRISTIE: For the guy has known Rob Portman for 30 years. He`s my
closest political mentor.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about this. Where is this thing that we`re
missing?

CHRISTIE: The thing you`re missing, he`s not this bland, boring guy.

MATTHEWS: Compared to you, how would you put him on the excitement
level? You or him? You don`t want to talk about that.

CHRISTIE: I`m not going to go there.

MATTHEWS: You may compare yourself.

CHRISTIE: He`s very exciting. He`s very intelligent. People like
spending a lot of time.

MATTHEWS: He`s hiding under a bushel basket.

CHRISTIE: Well, just wait, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I want to see the gag grill on this guy. Anyway, thank
you, Ron. Thank you for coming back. You are really good. You`ve given
us a lot of stuff here. Listen to the right.

Anyway (INAUDIBLE) -- for some reasons anyway. Thank you, Ron
Christie.

Up next, Mitt Romney says he likes being able to fire people. So why
hasn`t he fired any of the people in his campaign that keep getting him in
trouble?

I`m not going to advocate. I used to be a staffer. Don`t fire the
staffer. But we`re going to ask why he doesn`t, he says he likes to fire
people.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: I want to say a word about my friend Marvin Hamlisch who
died the other day. For the first time I met this guy, it was 20 years
ago. He was a musical director for a Barbara Streisand tour. He struck me
as the most humble, most generous guy you could possibly imagine. In fact,
you couldn`t imagine a guy like him being so humble.

Yet his life was sheer accomplishments, writing songs for each show
like "A Chorus Line". The great song in "What I Did for Love," and, oh,
for 40 movies, in all including "The Way We Were" and so many others.

He once told me someone like him practices piano four hours a day so
every year or so he could do something he couldn`t do before.

I`ve never known someone who`s so deserved to be famous and never once
acted like it, never once.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like being able to fire
people who provide service to me. If, you know, if someone doesn`t give me
the service I need, I want to say, you know, I`m going to get someone else
to provide that service to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Mitt Romney left no doubt if someone`s not up to the job whether it be
an insurance provider or an aide, perhaps, he likes being able to fire
people. With that said, what does it take to get fired from the Romney
campaign?

Apparently a lot. Back in March, describing the post-primary pivot
his boss intended to make, Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom basically confirmed
suspicions on the right that Romney would tack to the center with this now
famous line.

(BEGIN VIDEOI CLIP)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: I think you hit a reset button for
the fall campaign. Everything changes. It`s almost like an etch-a-sketch.
You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Fehrnstrom remains one of Romney`s top advisers. Who
could forget Warsaw where Romney traveling press secretary Rick Gorka lost
his cool with reporters and delivered this priceless line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

RICK GORKA, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: This is a holy site for the Polish
people. Show some respect.

REPORTER: Governor Romney --

GORKA: Show some respect, Jim.

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s the line of the year. Kiss my -- this is a holy
site.

Anyway, Gorka is given some time off by the campaign after the Poland
trip. That could have been a nice, low key way to ease him out, but he`s
back.

And now, campaign press secretary, Andrea Saul, she set off a near
revolt on the right when she the other day defended Romney against an ad
that insinuates he killed a woman by playing up his role in Massachusetts
health care reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: To that point, you know if people had
been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney`s health care plan, they would
have had health care. There are a lot of people losing their jobs and
losing their health care in President Obama`s economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So what does a person have to do to get fired by Mitt
Romney in real life when it comes to politics?

Ron Reagan is an author and MSNBC political analyst. And Erin McPike
is covering the campaign for "Real Clear Politics".

I want to start with Erin, because we`re talking beforehand. You know
all these people, all these press people that work for this guy. He must -
- he either likes them, knows what they`re up to, doesn`t mind them being
hit. I mean, he`s got a thick skin for this stuff.

ERIN MCPIKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: He loves his campaign staff. And
his campaign staff loves him. He will never fire any one of them.

MATTHEWS: But he fired that gay guy that was spokesman for the
foreign policy team. He dumped him in a New York minute.

MCPIKE: Before he got to know him. He had just come on the campaign.

But, listen, he`s known Eric Fehrnstrom since 2002, since he was
running for governor. Eric Fehrnstrom is his favorite person inside the
campaign. When Mitt Romney --

MATTHEWS: OK. What about service? He says in that wonderful quote,
if I don`t get the service I need, I dump this person. Well, he`s not
getting the service he needs from some of these people. Kiss my -- this is
a holy site. Although the press should have looked worse, he ended up
looking worse.

And this whole thing the other day, yesterday, about saying, hey, that
Massachusetts plan is great. We should have it in Indiana is what that
woman was saying, Erin Saul. That`s not helpful to Obama. I mean, it`s
helpful to Obama.

MCPIKE: Some of these comments weren`t great, but they weren`t that
big of a deal on conservatives. I mean, people on the right have made a
much bigger deal.

MATTHEWS: What`s that tell you?

MCPIKE: You know --

MATTHEWS: Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, all these people jumping, Rush
Limbaugh. Are these people exploiting an opportunity because they don`t
really like Romney?

MCPIKE: They`ve never really liked Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: That`s what I wanted to know.

Anyway, Ron Reagan, sir, this firing -- nobody likes to fire people,
but this idea that I like to fire people, like that`s tough horse sense,
tough business, you know, I got to do it. Then these guys are getting away
with everything.

He likes a loose team or likes a tight ship, which is it?

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the problem is, really --
at least in Fehrnstrom and Saul`s case, he has to be firing them for
telling the truth. That might be even worse than not firing them for
telling the truth.

Andrea Saul, in particular, I mean, this is one who`s doing her best
to defend her boss, and doing a pretty good job of it, pointing out that,
hey, if these poor people that lost their jobs in insurance and this other
place, if they`d only lived in Massachusetts under Romney care, they`d have
been OK, they`ve been covered and maybe her life had been safe. That`s a
perfectly legitimate defense.

But it cuts right to the heart of the Romney campaign, which is this
is a man who cannot tout his proudest public achievement, he cannot do it
because it will upset the mouth-breathing base. So there he is, he`s
stuck. But I don`t think he`s going to fire them.

MATTHEWS: What did you call the base -- what did you call them?

REAGAN: The mouth-breathing base.

MATTHEWS: I thought you meant the knuckle-dragging base.

REAGAN: Well, the same thing.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you this -- we`re going into the
conventions where every single little tweet and every sound is going to
make a lot of noise, going into the general election where everything said
during debates and right after the debates, everything is going to matter
big time.

Is he going to shake things up or is he going with his team?

MCPIKE: No. Let`s go back to why --

MATTHEWS: You like these people. You don`t want them fired,
obviously, you know them all. But is he going to start saying, wait a
minute, that wasn`t me. That person missed my point.

MCPIKE: I think one of the biggest problems with the Romney campaign
is they are not able to convey to the public what is likable about Mitt
Romney, but the staff loves him. I`ll tell you one thing about this, these
campaign staffers are some of the highest-paid campaign staffers that have
ever worked in the history of campaigns, you know? And they --

MATTHEWS: Maybe that`s why they like him.

MCPIKE: They like their rapport with them. Eric Fehrnstrom was the
first person outside of Mitt Romney`s family that Mitt Romney told he was
conceding after Super Tuesday in 2008. He`s close with these people.

He travels with Andrea Saul all the time. He likes her too and takes
care of her almost like a father figure because they travel together so
much. These people love Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney loves them, and he
won`t fire any of them.

MATTHEWS: Well, Ron, we`re in a dry hole here, because we`re looking
for managerial ability, at the same time, finding Mr. Kindness. Papa Bear.

REAGAN: The real problem -- the real problem, again, for the Romney
campaign is not that he`s loyal to his people or his people are letting him
down, the real problem with the Romney campaign against is that it`s
dishonest, just as the Republican Party today is dishonest. They are not
telling people what they really stand for. Want to save Medicare -- no,
they don`t, they want to privatize it, they also have, they hate it.

You know, they want to private Social Security, they can`t say that
until they get into power. It`s the same thing with Romney. That`s what`s
behind all of this.

MATTHEWS: OK. Why is Obama socialist, they say, because he did
individual health care. He got the idea from Romney.

Romney is a socialist? Oh, he`s a state-level socialist. Then if you
move out of state, his spokesman says, heck, I should have stayed in
Massachusetts because that`s where they have good health care.

By the way, what`s distinctive about Massachusetts, not other state
would benefit from it. Is it so different? I`ve never understood why it`s
only good in Massachusetts. By the way, FDR had the New Deal in New York
state, then took it to the country when he was elected. That`s what people
normally do.

Last word from Erin.

MCPIKE: Conservatives generally don`t like the Romney campaign`s
explanation of what he did in Massachusetts on health care. They don`t
want him talking about it at all. That`s why this comment was a problem.

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t he tell us that? Why didn`t tell her not to do
that?

REAGAN: Which voters don`t like that, though, which voters?

MATTHEWS: I think speaking with four tongues. He wants the moderates
to hear the moderate. They were the conservative but his speakspeople
aren`t they good?

Thank you, Ron Reagan, as always, sir.

And thank you, Erin McPike, for joining us from "Real Clear Politics."

When we return, let me finish with the campaigns that refuse to
inspire us with the future we want. I`m talking about both campaigns right
now, not a lot of inspiration out there on a nice things.

This is the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I don`t know anybody
who`s impressed with this campaign so far, and I`m talking about both
candidates.

Romney seems like a guy trying desperately not to make another
mistake, hoping the economic numbers will win it for him. If they get just
a little bit worse, and he can avoid blowing, after all these years of
running for just a few months more. Can you think of anything less
inspiring than that, a guy trying not to crash, hoping the economy would do
it for him?

Obama, to be fair, hasn`t exactly been all that inspiring either. I
know times are tough and he can`t just play defense and I know that means
hitting his rival in the shins. But like you, I remember that wonderful
poster from 2008 with that picture of him looking upward and that single
word, "hope".

Hope is what this campaign has lacked. Romney is basically calling a
return to normalcy, all this restore our future stuff. That`s what his
party promised in the early 1920s giving us, thanks to Harding and
Coolidge, the Roaring `20s followed before the end of that decade by the
Great Depression.

Romney`s now in search of his Coolidge. He already has his theme,
which is precisely what Harding run on -- a government attuned to the wants
and needs of business, a government that knew its place when it came to
corporate power, which is basically to stay out of the way and let those
big boys make money. That`s what you hear his supporters and donors want
and that`s what you ca be sure Romney is ready to give them.

As for Obama, who I still has brains and conscience to lead, seems to
settle on a single goal this summer: tear down his rival. Incumbents never
look good when they do that, they look good when they ask the voters for a
second endorsement, a second term to do with what they couldn`t get done in
one, what they couldn`t get right in one and won.

I`m waiting for the moment when Obama or Romney offers something
beyond what`ve gotten before. People really wanted. America has been on
the promise of something better, the candidate who gives us that, the
candidate who pays a credible blazing pictures of something bold and true
is going to get the brass ring, and the one who plays it safe -- and here`s
why I`m letting my heart speak -- will not.

I didn`t get interested in politics at the age of 5 to watch two guys
avoid being leaders. Let`s hope the convention shake this thing up and we
start hearing about the sharp difference in direction these two candidates
are going to take this country, because the evidence suggests it`s going to
be huge.

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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