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updated 8/15/2012 1:25:33 PM ET 2012-08-15T17:25:33

Guests: Michael Steele, Jon Fortt, Ezra Klein, Bob Shrum, John Nichols, Michael Crowley, David Leonhardt, Jose Diaz Balart, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Robbing seniors to pay Paul.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

Let me start with the Republican cold feet over Paul Ryan. Their one-
day wonder has become, dare I say it, a bit of a morning glory. He bloomed
through Saturday, kept the blush through Sunday, by yesterday, the troops
were restless.

Why on God`s earth had Mr. Romney, Mr. Cautious, gone out and found
the one candidate who could nail them in the coffin with the Ryan budget,
that budget which shrunk Medicare and gave the money from throwing mama off
the cliff to finance big tax cuts for the top 1 percent?

Well, now we know what`s worse than being tagged for the Republicans
voting for the Ryan budget, it`s having the mastermind behind it right up
there on the ticket for all to see. "I give you the next president of the
United States," Romney said on Saturday. Getting the job wrong in his
introduction of Ryan wasn`t the gaffe, however, Romney made on Saturday.
It was, some Republicans now fear, naming Ryan himself.

This guy could be worse than Quayle, more trouble than Tom Eagleton,
because this time, the presidential candidate and his team knew the
weakness, saw the trouble they were walking into before they walked into
it. And that`s not the best argument for Mr. Romney`s business acumen.
This may be the worst merger since AOL bought Time Warner.

With me are two veterans of campaign politics, Democratic strategist
Bob Shrum and former Republican national chairman Michael Steele, who`s
also an MSNBC analyst.

I want to start with you, Michael, because you`re always a straight
shooter around here. Is "cold feet" too cold a term, too tough a term for
the feeling some are having about the Ryan -- with his very difficult
budget to sell?

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t
think it`s so much cold, Chris, as it is nervous. I think that as the dust
has settled on this, and particularly those down-ballot congressional races
-- we`re only talking about a 25-seat change in the House. And when half
of those, or close to half of these seats, may be in districts that are
close -- too close to call for some Republicans, because they lean
Democrat, it becomes a major concern.

Now that, as you`ve already noted, the conversation had shifted away
from even, you know, taxes and tax returns and the like to, OK, let`s talk
about the specifics of your budget --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: -- let`s talk about the specifics of Medicare. And a lot
of those candidates -- and I`ve begun to hear a little bit of that rumbling
among some Republicans -- are a little nervous about it.

MATTHEWS: Little bit nervous. Anyway, Politico`s story today, which
tapped our interested, was headlined, "GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan" --
reports. That was today. Quote, "Away from the cameras and with all the
usual assurances that people aren`t being quoted by name, there`s an
unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington Romney has
taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right and a
huge chance of going horribly wrong. The most common reactions to Ryan
range from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has
practically ceded the election."

Bob Shrum, your thoughts.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well --

MATTHEWS: You`ve dealt with this guy Romney before. This wouldn`t be
the best argument, as I said at the outset,for his business acumen. With
the first big decision he had to make, he picks a guy that`s got nails
coming out of his head politically.

SHRUM: Yes, I think he --

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.

SHRUM: I think he waited too long and then I think he got pushed by
the right toward this choice. But I`ve talked to some of these Republican
pros. Some of them are friends of mine. They read the polls. They know
what`s going to happen here.

One of them -- one -- one pro who doesn`t like Obama at all said to me
on Sunday, short of economic Armageddon, it`s going to be very hard for
Obama to lose.

Romney had a plan. It was that this was going to be a referendum.
House GOP was going to gum up the economy. People were going to blame
Obama. They were going to give Romney a try.

What has happened with Paul Ryan is that this has now shifted. The
president was trying to shift it all along to the question of who stands up
for the middle class --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SHRUM: -- that who favors the few. This now confirms that. The
shift in the dimension to debating privatizing Social Security,
voucherizing Medicare, slashing education -- these Republican pros are very
worried not only about what`s going to happen to the ticket, but as Michael
said -- and I agree with him in this respect -- about what`s going to
happen to Republican control of the House, which they thought was pretty
much assured up until last week.

MATTHEWS: Michael, do they want this focus -- I thought they wanted
all the focus on Obama as a referendum. Like, how`s the guy doing out
there on the mound? Has he still got his fastball? Maybe he`s lost a
little of his edge. (INAUDIBLE) was better four years ago. He`s out of
step. You know the old metaphors. I use them all the time.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: Now the focus is on, what about this new kid with his
really strong ideas? Is that what you want the focus, if you`re a
Republican operative right now?

STEELE: Well, no, I think -- I think, you know, Bob, you know, has it
right. I have to agree with him on this point, that you know, the focus
originally, as you just set up, was about this referendum.

We want this to be a referendum on the last four years.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: We want this to be on the -- the -- you know, the spending,
the debt, the -- the -- the Solyndras of the world. Let`s talk about what
this administration has failed to do, which was the number one priority,
create jobs. Now -- and it is bold. The boldness of this choice is it
shifts the debate from a referendum to a choice election --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: -- where you get to have a philosophical discussion and
choice about --

MATTHEWS: Who wanted that, Michael?

STEELE: -- which direction you -- the country wants to go. Chris,
that`s a good question right now. It`s really hard to --

MATTHEWS: Well, I know the Democrats wanted it. I can speak from
having observed and (INAUDIBLE) Bob Shrum wanted that.

STEELE: Republicans -- I don`t -- I don`t -- I didn`t hear anyone
talking about making this a choice election up until this past weekend. I
think up until now, everyone had bought into the argument and the fact that
this should be a referendum on the last four years, not a choice between
conservatives and -- and -- and --

MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- let me -- let me --

STEELE: -- liberals.

MATTHEWS: Let me even the table here a bit, Bob. You know, back when
we saw Bill Clinton run against George, Sr., we knew there were some
problems in Bill Clinton`s personal life. They knew about it. People
said, yes, we`ll give him a break anyway. We need a -- we need a new kid
in there. We need to try something new.

We knew the fact that Ronald Reagan was sort of an erratic far right-
winger in the early days. He was a much more moderate president, of
course. But they still said we needed a change in `92 and also in that
other race. People wanted a change in `80.

So even if you have questions about Romney, big questions and concerns
about Ryan, how does that shift away from the main concern of the country
right now, the shape of the economy come November, when people actually
vote? Will they still be thinking about Ryan the first week of November or
will they still be -- will be thinking about the most recent unemployment
rate? Where`s their heads going to be?

STEELE: Well, they`re going to think about both. But introducing
Ryan and this dimension into this has, I think, put Romney in a tough spot.
He was already hurting. The president was making real progress in terms of
making this a choice election, in terms of Bain, in terms of the offshore
accounts, in terms of his tax plan and his own taxes.

But this, as I said earlier, seals the deal. And you`re now in a
situation where, basically, Mitt Romney -- and I call this now the Ryan-
Romney ticket, not the other way around --

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you sweet!

SHRUM: -- because the substance -- the substance here is coming
from Ryan, where he`s going to have to defend a whole series of positions
that are profoundly unpopular. It`s pretty amazing, Chris -- you`ve been
around this a long time -- to see GOP pros out there even anonymously
criticizing their nominee.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, here`s one --

SHRUM: They don`t do that. We do that.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Here`s, Bob, Bush and McCain campaign veteran Mark
McKinnon. I`m sure they don`t want to hear from this guy. He told
Politico this morning, quote, "I think it`s a very bold choice, Ryan, and
an exciting and interesting pick. It`s going to elevate the campaign into
a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and
provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party, and
probably lose, maybe big."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: How`s that for an endorsement? And some of those anonymous
Republicans out there Politico spoke to are concerned about their prospects
in down-ballot, meaning House and Senate races, candidates for House and
Senate seats.

Well, quote, "Very not helpful down ballot, very, said one top
Republican consultant. This is the day the music died, one Republican
operative involved in 2012 races said after the rollout. The operative
said that every House candidate now is racing to get ahead of this issue."

Michael, it seems to me, in our experience, candidates don`t tend at
the presidential level to lose over particular issues like Medicare and
Social Security.

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: They tend to be able to make it a much bigger question,
whether (ph) they go in or not or get -- or dumped or not. But House and
Senate -- I keep thinking of all those people we know, Jeremiah Denton (ph)
from Alabama and Hawkins (ph) from Florida --

STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: You can go through the list of people that have lost over -
- over just Medicare position, or Social Security position. You`re (ph)
just gone after the election.

STEELE: Well, yes, and I -- and I think that`s kind of what has folks
nervous. They look back on 2010, they look back at the primaries, where,
you know, folks got into a lot of trouble based on their vote for the Ryan
budget.

So the reality now shifts to this full-frontal assault by the Romney-
Ryan team to kind of push and redirect the conversation. Now, I still
think, you know, that they can get this done. You know, I understand what
--

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: -- Mr. McKinnon is saying, and I think they can make this
about big things. But how they frame that argument and how they address, I
think, to both your points, the questions about --

MATTHEWS: OK --

STEELE: -- the impact of the Ryan budget and whether or not -- and
you saw it on "60 Minutes," Chris, you know, Romney already kind of backing
away from it, saying, Well, no, no, I got my own --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We pointed that out yesterday, Michael, and I`ll keep doing
that.

Let`s talk about -- let`s talk about psychobabble now, my favorite
topic in politics. You know, you guys are both old enough to remember when
Cher broke up with Sonny and certainly way back when Martin and Lewis broke
up. You never knew what was going to happen to the team.

Well, for some reason, starting Monday, Ryan and Romney stopped
campaigning together, and Romney went back to the old Romney. Here`s a
quote about this. "Ever since splitting up the campaign duties with Ryan
this weekend, Mitt Romney seems to have lost the energy he had on the trail
with his VP pick."

Take a look at his entrance at the Ohio event this afternoon with coal
miners. Here`s not exactly Mr. Excitement. This -- something about --
keep this team together, I would argue, but they aren`t, and you saw what
happened this morning. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that`s
an impressive scene, you know that, right here and right behind me. I`m
impressed with men and women who come here, who work hard for themselves
and for their families. Your success and your hard work helps you and your
families, but also helps America. I salute you. I appreciate the work
you`re doing. And if I`m president of the United States, I will do
everything in my power to make sure you keep good jobs and good wages.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You mean -- Shrum, this is an opportunity for sheer
sarcasm, and I`m going to exploit it. He`s thanking the coal miners, which
has got to be the most dangerous, terrifying job in the world for most
people, to have to go down in those deep mines, a couple miles deep, then
you go another couple miles horizontally, and then you go to work all day
in the dark.

Well, he`s thanking them for doing that. I mean, is this, Thank you
for your service? I mean, is this -- are they working for him? Is he the
owner? Is he a friend of the owner`s? Thank you for working for me. It
is so weird, I`m sorry, to be thanking people for being coal miners.

Anyway, what is this weirdness of -- his inability to connect to these
people is so obvious.

SHRUM: Well, it`s -- he naturally doesn`t connect. And when he`s
with Ryan, he gets energy from Ryan. The crowds respond. The same thing,
by the way, happened with John McCain and Sarah Palin, and when Palin
wasn`t campaigning with him, McCain went back to being pretty flat on the
campaign trail.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but McCain`s a recognizable human being, Bob! You
know that. There`s a difference between John McCain --

SHRUM: Yes, well, OK --

MATTHEWS: He has a temper. He has a sense of humor.

SHRUM: Yes, OK --

MATTHEWS: He`s a human being. He`s not an android.

SHRUM: Right. If you`re telling me that --

MATTHEWS: OK.

SHRUM: If you`re telling me that Mitt is animatronic, I`ve been
saying that for a long time.

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Explain the term animatronic.

SHRUM: -- maybe he`s worried about the Ryan plan.

MATTHEWS: That means in the movies these big animals move around,
right? That`s what it is, right?

SHRUM: No, it`s the Lincoln -- it`s the Lincoln at Disneyland that
used to stand up and deliver the Gettysburg address.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you mean -- oh, yes, the Hall of the Presidents, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Last word, Michael, quickly. Do you think there`s a
problem with this "bromance" being broken up? It doesn`t seem to be
working singly.

STEELE: It is very clear that Romney gets a lot of energy off of
Ryan, and you saw that on the rollout. And without that kind of push and
that kind of energy, yes, he reverts back to what he`s comfortable with
doing.

You know, Ryan really elevates the game a little bit, and so I think
you`ll probably, hopefully, will see the two of them more together than we
may have seen presidential and vice presidential candidates --

MATTHEWS: Can he bring --

STEELE: -- in the past.

MATTHEWS: Can he go to a presidential debate and bring Ryan with him
when he has to debate Obama?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: I think he`s going to want to ditch Ryan before the
presidential debate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it`s about the conservative movement saying after
this election, if things work out in Obama`s favor, We ran the wrong guy at
the top. We`ll get it right next time. In a way -- in a way -- the weird
thing in this election so far is that Romney may have touted the other guy
as the next president of the United States, and it`s going to turn out he
will be the guy to run in a couple of years.

Anyway, thank you, Michael Steele.

STEELE: All right. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Bob Shrum.

SHRUM: See you, guys.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: Hey, big spender. Paul Ryan voted, by the way -
- big deficit hawk here -- for expending Medicare, for both wars we fought,
in Afghanistan and Iraq, for the auto bail-out, for TARP without paying for
any of it -- for the prescription drug benefit. Never paid for any of it,
nothing. And his budget`s not going to bounce (ph) for 1,000 years,
apparently. So how do you call him a deficit hawk?

Plus, I`ve got a question for Mr. Romney and Paul Ryan. If their plan
for Medicare is such a good deal, why wait 10 years to put it into effect?
Could they be playing politics, trying to sneak it in past the older voters
today so that later voters (ph) (INAUDIBLE) stuck with it? Why do we have
elections anyway? We should have it about real people getting affected by
real programs.

Also, remember President Obama`s executive order providing a two-year
amnesty for people brought up (ph) in the United States illegally -- they
came here from another country, but they`ve grown up as Americans? Well,
it goes into effect tomorrow. It`s going to have a big impact, I think,
among Latino voters when they realize what a godsend it is for a lot of
their young kids, teenage kids.

And President Obama gets in the "dog on roof" act. The president
chided -- there`s a great word -- Romney today on his infamous decision to
drive up to Canada with dog Seamus tied to the roof. Watch for Seamus,
who`s coming up in the "Sideshow."

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Republicans have voted in voter ID laws in many states,
they say to prevent voter fraud. Democrats have argued the voter fraud
argument is just a cover for suppressing the Democratic vote.

Now a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project has looked at
more than 2,000 cases of alleged voter fraud over the past 10 years. How
many of those cases of voter impersonation did they find? Ten altogether
in the country. That`s 10 in the country. With 145 million registered
voters, do the math. It comes down to one case for every 15 million
voters.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, Ryan`s pick frightens some
Republican Party leaders already and insiders, as well, and has invigorated
many Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives who see him, Mr. Ryan, as a
deficit -- fighting comrade. Well, there`s only one problem with that
theory and that branding. It`s not true.

A look at his 14-year congressional record, by the way -- and he`s not
an outsider. He`s been in the Congress. He was often willing to vote for
expensive government programs without worrying about paying for a nickel of
it, as Politico reported.

Ryan voted for the $700 billion bank bail-out and for the auto bail-
out, or rescue, if you will, under Bush. He voted for the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan and for Bush`s Medicare prescription drug benefit. He backed
the 2005 transportation legislation, the highway bill that included the
infamous "bridge to nowhere." He also voted for No Child Left Behind. And
none of that was paid for. No effort to raise revenues to pay for any of
that spending. He voted for everything under W. And that doesn`t sound
like the record of a cautious fiscal conservative or deficit hawk or an Ayn
Rand individualist. So what is Paul Ryan`s real governing philosophy day
to day? Michael Crowley is deputy Washington bureau chief for "Time" and
John Nichols is Washington correspondent for "The Nation."

John, I want you to start on this thing. What can you expect from
Paul Ryan, to the extent he has influence -- and I expect he`ll have a lot
with Romney. What would he do when he actually gets power based upon what
he`s done with power before?

JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": Well, he`s actually got a governing
philosophy, and it`s pretty clear. It`s the 1920s "big house on the hill"
Republican. He believes that the role of government is to intervene when
rich guys have a problem or when there`s a war that needs to be fought.

And the funny thing about him is that Paul Ryan has a reputation --
and he`s built it up very carefully over a long period of time -- as a
Republican who really is deep into the numbers, deep into the reality of
budgets. But his default position whenever a big issue comes into play is,
basically, What does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say? What does the
business community say as regards to what it needs?

And frankly, if it says that it needs an auto bail-out or a bank bail-
out or if the pharmaceutical companies want a structuring of Medicare that
gives them a lot more money, he votes for it.

MATTHEWS: So this is more -- let me go over to you, Michael Crowley.
It sounds more like the Petroleum Club down in Tulsa or the Alta (ph) Club
Salt Lake, one of the establishments where 15 or so men, middle-aged men,
get together and call the shots, all rich business guys.

Is this what he is, just a Chamber guy? He doesn`t sound like a -- he
doesn`t sound like a Tea Party guy, especially, to me, either.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, I think another
way to look at it, Chris, is his background.

He was sort of tutored by Jack Kemp. I think it`s the supply-side
economics wing of the Republican Party. These guys would call it pro-
growth.

MATTHEWS: But Jack Kemp never cut the poor people.

CROWLEY: Well, right.

But I think that part of what is fundamental to Ryan`s vision, I don`t
know so much object how Kemp would have done it, but it`s -- supply-side
economics are you cut taxes at the top, I guess, you know, theoretically,
cut them across the board, but really there seems to be an emphasis on tax
rates at the top, to promote economic growth.

And according to this theory, that increases tax revenue. I don`t
think there`s a ton of evidence for that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you to help me with this. This is really
important to our viewers, and it`s important to me.

How can you justify making a guy who works in the mines, like we just
saw Romney cheering these guys, dirty-faced guys because they have got real
jobs coming out of the mines, which is scary enough to go into the mines.
They`re real workers. Every buck they make I`m sure is well earned -- and
charge them a higher tax rate, in fact, don`t tax at all the people who
live off money, who just sit on a pile of money they may have inherited or
made in a windfall or whatever, earned, but don`t have to pay taxes on the
dividends or the profits they make off that money or the capital gains
because this guy, Paul Ryan, thinks rich people shouldn`t have to pay taxes
on money they make off their riches.

Now, how do you justify that to any voter, except the richest people
in the country? How do you sell it?

CROWLEY: It`s a really tough sell. I think you have to make the
argument -- and I think it`s not -- it`s hard to make, which is that you
have to unleash economic growth and, you know, remove the burden of
government from the job creators. But I`m not trying to make that point
myself.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why is someone sitting on a bunch of money a job creator
who is not even working? Why is capital gains a job -- let me go back to
John on this.

How does that capital gains relief, meaning no taxes for making money
off money, how does that help stimulate the economy more than that guy
working in the mines who is digging up coal or whatever?

NICHOLS: Well, of course it doesn`t.

And so many of these theories that Paul Ryan buys into -- and he`s a
big, big fan of Austrian economists from 30 years ago, 40 years ago. Many
of the theories that he buys into have been proven not to work. And one
of the problems that he`s got -- and I have known Paul for a long time --
is that he`s fascinated by economic theories, some of which are 100 years
old.

And many of these theories were developed when countries didn`t trade
a lot, when you didn`t have globalization and you really could make the
rich guy rich and eventually he might throw a little of the money around.
Today, when you make the rich guy rich, he puts his money in a tax haven
overseas and if he has got any extra, he opens a factory in China.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to the point we started with here, guys,
which is this guy a fiscal hawk or does he simply spend money at liberty
whenever he likes the project, whether it`s prescription drug, or it`s any
kind of TARP or bailout of rich people, bailout of corporations or banks?

It seems like Ryan only started worrying, by the way, about paying for
things since Obama`s been elected president. Under W., he didn`t ever
worry about the price tag. What do we make of that, Michael, just the
simple hypocrisy of a guy who will spend any nickel he can get his hands on
as long as it`s designated as good spending by W., of all people, but the
minute Obama shows up, no deal?

CROWLEY: Well, I think the second piece of this, there`s a supply-
side philosophy, and then there`s a conservative reform.

And I think he`s really interested in cutting back what he sees as not
the core government functions of safety and security, so anything that`s
welfare state, that might be seen as a handout or creating dependency, you
know, he puts a higher priority on slashing those things. And so he`s a
reformer.

But, you know, there are plenty of cases, you`re absolutely right,
where when he was given a choice, the deficit was not his first choice. I
don`t think the deficit is his overriding priority. He`s a conservative
reformer, a supply-sider, and then he`s cast a bunch of votes that I think
kind of made sense for a congressional Republican who was making his way
through the system, but it`s not the case that the deficit has been his
first priority throughout his career.

MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like he only started worrying about paying
for things under Obama, as I said.

Let me ask you about this thing, Michael, with this way he -- I think
he represents the conflict in American government between what we saw we
are and what we really are. People hate the word socialism. They hate the
word government dependence. But here he is running for things like the
bailout, the bank bailout, the auto bailout, all these wars we spend money
on, creating the Medicare prescription bill.

They do all this because it`s what people want. They want to fight
these wars, they want to fight what they see as our enemies, and
appropriately so. They want to have prescription drugs because that`s the
main cost of getting older in many ways and that people want that help as
part of their health care. But yet they give lip service to Ayn Rand and
we don`t need any help from the government.

Isn`t he the walking, talking conflict person? Who wants to take that
one?

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: Well, I will take a shot at it.

CROWLEY: Go ahead, John.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, John.

NICHOLS: I was just going to throw in that Paul Ryan came out of the
mainstream of Republican politics.

This is a guy whose dad former law partner got him a job in the Senate
in 1992 with Bob Kasten, who was on the Banking Committee. He went out
there to Washington and he learned his way around the city. He is a
political operative. He is not a conservative in any kind of classic
sense.

He didn`t come up through conservative activism. He came up through
sort of the core of the business Republican Party. And I think that`s the
best way to understand him. He is a smart guy. He likes to read economics
books, but he`s not an economist.

And he also isn`t somebody who`s really going to steer this country in
some sort of new or different direction, except that when he has to make
choices -- and this is the place people ought to be troubled on -- when he
needs to make choices, if it is about giving a rich guy a tax break vs.
giving a working woman a tax break or a little bit of food stamps or
something like that, he will err on the side of the rich guy. And that is
a pattern that comes again and again.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think he`s established it.

CROWLEY: I don`t even know that it`s erring. He likes to do them
both at once. It`s supply-side economics, plus government reform to reduce
dependency and handouts. And for him, that`s a perfect double whammy right
there, actually.

MATTHEWS: It`s really an act of courage to make everybody happy,
isn`t it?

Anyway, thank you, John Nichols. Thank you, Michael Crowley. I love
that Irish name.

Up next, President Obama jumps on the dog on the roof bandwagon. Here
we go again. Remember that station wagon ride for poor Seamus up to
Canada? The president takes on poor Seamus one more time in the "Sideshow"
tonight.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": In college,
Paul Ryan, one of his jobs was he drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: You know what I`m talking about with the Wienermobile?

He and Romney have something in common. Both have the experience of
driving a car with a dog on the roof.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, back to HARDBALL.

Letterman`s not the only one still needling Mitt Romney over the
Seamus on the roof incident. Here`s President Obama talking about Mitt
Romney`s opposition to innovations in wind energy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said that new
sources of energy like wind are imaginary. Governor Romney even explained
his energy policy this way. I`m quoting here: "You can`t drive a car with
a windmill on it."

That`s what he said about wind power. "You can`t drive a car with a
windmill on it."

Now, I don`t know if he`s actually tried that. I know he`s had other
things on his car.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You like the giggle he gets before he knows the joke`s
coming?

Anyway, that zinger came earlier today as part of the president`s
campaign spin through Iowa. Anyway, ever since Mitt Romney announce Paul
Ryan as his running mate, doesn`t it seem like one word`s dominating the
back and forth over the pick on both sides the race? Bold, perhaps.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Governor Romney`s
selection of Paul Ryan is a terrific solution. Paul Ryan is a bold leader.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m still proud of my running mate. I
think that, in this case, it is also a bold choice.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": There`s a boldness to this decision.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: This was a big,
bold, courageous choice.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American
people have already had a glimpse of the Ryan Republican congressional
budget. It`s bold. It`s bold, but I don`t get -- I mean this sincerely
now -- I don`t get what`s gutsy about giving millionaires another tax
break.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He`s a big,
bold choice because it really does say something about Mitt Romney. He`s
picking someone who has a budget plan under which Mitt Romney would pay
less than 1 percent in taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Bold. So it works both ways, but what really makes the
pick such a bold move?

Well, ask Stephen Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Romney-Ryan 2012. Very
excited. Yes. Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

And, folks, this was no safe choice. Bold. Bold. I mean, so daring.
I mean, white, Christian and male?

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: That`s a triple not threatening to me. And, of course, like
all Republican V.P. picks, he looks exactly like Tina Fey.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, "Bold," isn`t that the name of a laundry detergent?
Actually, it is.

Anyway, finally now, President Obama is the subject of an optical
illusion tonight. Take a look at this snapshot from a speech in Iowa
yesterday. Is he looking into the future with some kind of glowing orb?

Well, finally, I say, some evidence Donald Trump has been looking for.
Obama is not just an alien. He`s an alien!

Up next: Guess who needs to be convinced about the Paul Ryan budget?
Mitt Romney. How is that for a strange development?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JON FORTT, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jon Fortt with CNBC.

Let`s take a look at where stocks closed out the day and where they
stand heading into tomorrow -- the Dow up three points to 13172, the Nasdaq
down six to 3017 and the S&P 500 marginally lower. That means everything
ended the day basically flat -- now back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: You said during a debate earlier this year that Paul Ryan`s
latest Medicare proposal, that it`s absolutely right on.

So, I`m curious, is there anything about it you disagree with?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the items that we
agree on I think outweigh any differences there may be. We haven`t gone
through piece by piece and said, oh, here`s a place where there`s a
difference. I can`t imagine any two people even in the same party who have
exactly the same positions on all issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. That`s not very effective.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.

The biggest risk a vague candidate like Mitt Romney faces in picking a
firebrand with specifics like Paul Ryan is that all the gaps in Romney`s
plans will be filled in with Ryan`s details. But apparently Romney is not
so sure he wants to be wedded to Ryan`s budget, not at all, and let alone
his Medicare plan, but will Romney align himself with the Ryan brand, but
not his specifics? Can he get away with it?

"Washington Post" columnist Ezra Klein is an MSNBC political analyst.
And David Leonhardt is the Washington bureau chief of "The New York Times."

David, I want you to do something nobody`s been able to do so far in
the last couple of days. Clearly delineate, what would President Obama do,
what has he done under his health care act to Medicare in terms of cuts in
Medicare spending? What would Ryan do and what would Romney do? Can you
delineate among the three, so that people who are now on Medicare or are
facing it in the next couple years will see what their choice is?

DAVID LEONHARDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": How much time do we have,
Chris?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know how to do it on television.

(CROSSTALK)

LEONHARDT: Yes, I will do it quickly. No, you actually can do it
quickly.

So, what Obama does is he keeps Medicare broadly as it has been, but
makes some important changes to it. It remains a single-payer system. If
you`re over 65, the government pays for your health insurance. But he
makes some cuts to it. Those cuts are focused on some of these payments
that go to private insurers.

And in coming years, they also include some changes so that Medicare
tried to do a little bit less of paying for quantity of health care and a
little bit more of paying for quality of health care. There are health
experts who wish the plan did more. There are Republicans who see that as
on the way to death panels.

But that is basically what Obama would do.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s just go through the Ryan -- the Obama plan.
The White House, Stephanie Cutter, she is putting out the word that they
basically are saying that no commitment to any recipient, in other words,
someone over 65, anything they were going to get before, they`re going to
get now. Nobody is going to get hurt.

Is that fair?

LEONHARDT: Well, I don`t know whether that`s fair. Look, any time
you change a program, it has to be potential to be both better and/or
worse. Right?

And so there may be some things in the future that Medicare doesn`t
pay for now that it shouldn`t pay for, that are a drain on taxpayers. On
the other hand, there may be some things it now pays for that people like
and may not be quite as generous in the future.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What would Ryan do?

LEONHARDT: So, I think we can put Ryan and Romney broadly in the same
place and we can say what they would do is they would move this to a
different kind of system, whether you call it voucher of premium support.

Essentially what they would do, instead of the government covering the
bill, whatever it is, they would send money to individuals. And
individuals could then go buy a health insurance plan, whether it`s on the
private market or whether it`s actually still from the government, still
Medicare, and they could do that.

The big uncertain questions about that are: one, will over the long-
term, introduce more competition to the system and reduce costs -- as
Romney and Ryan claim it will -- or will it fail to do that and as a
result, will people essentially be left with a health insurance benefit
that is significantly less generous than Medicare now is.

I think most experts who`ve looked at it think the more likely case
is the latter, that while there could be some savings there, it will result
in the benefit that is less generous.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Ezra now.

We assume it`s going to be tougher on the seniors if you go with the
Ryan-Romney plan. But here`s my question, look who`s nicer too. if
Obama`s cutting some of the money going to insurance companies, it looks to
me that Ryan and Romney both are offering up a big piece of the pie, big
slice of the pie now to the insurance companies that they never got before.
Instead of people paying into Medicare, which goes to the government, gets
in the revolving fund, they`re going to be giving money, a portion of their
money, to the insurance company. This is great for them.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: If you`re a private insurance
company, you would really like to move to a premium support system.

Look, what Obama does, as David mentioned, one of his major cuts to
Medicare is he takes money away from this Medicare advantage program.
These are these private insurers -- they are brought into the system to
offer cheaper options, usually managed cover options. It ended up costing
20 percent more. They`re ratcheting that 20 percent back.

What`s interesting and something that`s going to be a problem for the
Romney campaign is Ryan kept those cut, for every dollar of cuts over the
next 10 years that Obama made in the health care bill, Ryan kept them in
the budget and every Republican in the House voted for them and every
Republican in the Senate voted for them.

Romney says he would not sign that part of the budget, he wouldn`t
allow that. So, he is simultaneously saying, on the one hand, he wants
credit for being the guy who will make the tough decisions on Medicare. On
the other hand, unlike every Republican in the House and Senate and Barack
Obama and the Democrats, he wouldn`t allow for even a dollar in cuts to
Medicare over the next decade.

MATTHEWS: But in terms of --

(CROSSTALK)

KLEIN: Doesn`t make you think he can make tough decisions on
budgets.

MATTHEWS: But here`s the budget, for the viewer out there who cares
about this personally, he basically says, I`ll see the cuts Obama talked
about and add to them by shrinking this into a voucher program.

KLEIN: So, Romney over the next 10 years, says he will not allow any
of the cuts agreed on, and that this his reforms will begin 10 years from
the date that he passes the budget. So, he`s essentially trying to play a
little game here, right? No current seniors need to worry. It will just
be those folks coming after you who will get hit by these cuts.

Now, whether or not that makes this likely to go into effect or not
is a more open question.

MATTHEWS: So, yes, I`ve asked you questions like this before and
you`ve held back. But let me try again, if you`re 60 years old right now,
what`s the smart move? Go with Ryan-Romney or go with Obama?

KLEIN: I don`t tell people how to vote, Chris. I`m sorry.

MATTHEWS: Now, how would you vote in terms of policy?

KLEIN: I just -- people have to make judgment calls on where they
think federal dollars should go. Medicare is likely to be -- it`s on the
same path spending wise in the long term under Obama and Ryan. They both
have said it will grow GDP plus 0.5 percent. Obama tries to make that work
by changing things on the provider and payment side, trying to make
Medicare pay for quality. Ryan does it by moving to a voucher program.

MATTHEWS: OK.

KLEIN: You should vote the way -- if you`re voting on Medicare, in
the direction you think will be more effective.

MATTHEWS: And let`s take a look at this Romney campaign ad. It`s
the new TV ad. It`s attacking the president on Medicare coming from
Romney`s side. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

AD NARRATOR: You paid into Medicare for years, every paycheck. Now
when you need it, Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. Why? To pay
for Obamacare.

So now the money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to
a massive new government program that`s not for you.

The Romney-Ryan plan protects Medicare benefits for today`s seniors
and strengthens the plan for the next generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Again, the Obama campaign had a response to that. Here it
is in part, "The saving his ad attacks do not cut a single guaranteed
Medicare benefit and Mitt Romney embraced the same savings when he promised
he would sign Paul Ryan`s budget."

So, there we go back again. Let me go to David here. There we go
back to the shell game that goes on here, where by Paul Ryan assumes the
cuts that Obama recommended in his Affordable Act bill, in fact, carried
and signed. And yet, he says I wouldn`t go that route.

And back to the question of: is it really going to work -- the Obama
plan -- to basically force the savings to the providers and not affect the
recipients?

LEONHARDT: Well, I don`t know that we know. I mean, I think -- I
think if we were to try to boil, right, because there are now so many
different charges about who`s` cutting Medicare more, I think what we would
say is that Obama for better or worse, has more modest changes or cuts to
Medicare. He has some. The Republican plan has much more.

And so, the question is: how much change to Medicare do you want?
Modest changes, that`s Obama`s plan. Or do you want more radical changes,
because you`re more worried about the fiscal sustainability of Medicare?
That`s the Ryan-Romney approach.

And I think we`re not hearing that debate because basically, neither
side wants to. They want credit for being bold on the deficit. But they
don`t want credit for actually doing the things you need to do to cut the
deficit, which is cut spending.

MATTHEWS: Last word from you, Ezra.

KLEIN: Yes, I think David put it right and the way to think about
this in the long-term, I what happens if their first plan doesn`t work. In
the Ryan Romney world, if it doesn`t work, the competition they want to
inject in, the private plans, the cost gets shifted on to the patient. You
pay the difference between what you need for a reasonable plan and cheapest
plan.

In the Obama world, it gets shifted on to providers who pay hospitals
and drug companies, insurers, et cetera, et cetera, less money. That is a
fundamental difference between the two plans.

MATTHEWS: I think we got it. Thank you guys, for clearing this up.

LEONHARDT: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Providers that get cut under Obama. It`s the recipients,
they get cut under Ryan-Romney.

Anyway, thank you, David Leonhardt of "The New York Times" and Ezra
Klein of "The Washington Post" and of us.

Up next, why tomorrow may be the day President Obama wraps up the
Latino vote. We`ve got a big story that has not been covered well. We`re
going to cover it pretty well right now.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(MUSIC)

MATTHEWS: Well, First Lady Michelle Obama has been waging a war
against obesity. And a new study suggests she`s got a work cut out of her,
and where to start?

Number five on the list of obese states, Michigan, with obesity rate
of more than 33 percent of people are obese. After that comes Alabama,
number four. West Virginia weighs in at the state with the third highest
obesity rate. The first runner up in the competition is Louisiana.

And the state that tops the list is Mississippi with an obesity rate
of about 35 percent.

Well, four of those five states, by the way, voted Republican in
2008. Whatever that means? And about 80 percent of the top 15 states are
red states, so red states are somewhat larger in personal; terms than blue
states.

We`ll be right back. Whatever that means.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back.

When Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, President Obama issued
his own executive order to temporarily allow young illegal immigrants to
live openly in the United States. Well, tomorrow his plan dubbed Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals takes effect. Over 1.5 million people can
apply for two-year reprieve from deportation and for work permits
positively. And those eligible include undocumented immigrants between the
ages of 15 and 30 who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday. They
must have lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years, including June 15t
of this year, and the program was announced.

Applicants must be students and high school graduates or honorably
discharge members of the military.

Well, joining me now is Telemundo anchor, Jose Diaz Balart. And
Victoria de Franscisco-Soto, an NBC Latino or Latina, a contributor, and a
fellow that University of Texas.

Thank you both.

We only have a little time, but this is a big story in the Latino
community.

We are chatting today, John, what`s this mean to people who may know
Hispanic people, who may know teenage people? Living in -- may suspect
them out here legally? What does this mean for them?

JOSE DIAZ BALART, TELEMUNDO: This is huge, Chris. This is huge.

As of tomorrow, people got to this country through no fault of their
own, before they were 16 years of age, they are less than 30 years of age
right now, and have been here for more than four, five years, can actually
apply even though they don`t appear on ICE or government`s radar screen of
them being undocumented, they can come out and say yes, I fall within these
guidelines. And they will get a would-year reprieve from any kind of
government harassment.

MATTHEWS: And this is done by pure executive order?

BALART: Yes, it took two years between the fall of the DREAM Act --

MATTHEWS: How can the president do something like this?

BALART: He said, for a year, he couldn`t.

MATTHEWS: But legally now -- attorney general says he can.

BALART: Some in the -- House Republicans say he can`t. But, right
now, as of tomorrow, there may be 1.8 million young kids who will have an
opportunity they hadn`t had one before.

MATTHEWS: Victoria, political impact statement, what is it? What
does this do to the Latino vote?

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTTO, NBC LATINO: Well, this is about
mobilization here. We are really pumping up the enthusiasm in the Latino
electorate. Earlier this year over half of Latinos said they weren`t
feeling that enthusiastic about the election, especially in comparison to
2008. And just days after this decree was put into effect, we saw that
Latinos jumped, over 50 percent now say that they are more enthused about
voting for the president.

So, the president needs Latinos to turn out. He doesn`t have a
problem with their favorability. Latino has consistently approved of the
president, but what he needs them to come out of the polls in November.

MATTHEWS: You are Cuban American, your family?

RUBIO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So, let me ask you about not picking Rubio or picking him
to give -- he has this -- he`s going to put Romney in the nomination,
there`s interest in that night, the big Thursday night? Is that enough of
(INAUDIBLE), does that show respect?

BALART: You know, it depends. That`s a good question. I think for
the South Florida folks, Cuban American votes in south Florida, it is
because they see it as a very young Rubio, a very young man, just starting
out his political career on national level and he`s getting a pretty big
spotlight.

MATTHEWS: That`s what Kennedy got in `56.

BALART: There you go.

But, you know, there`s the I-4 corridor. There are a lot of voters
throughout the state that are Latino, that maybe aren`t Cuban American.
They`re see thing and saying, you know what, you just don know how much
Marco Rubio brought to Florida on the national level.

MATTHEWS: What happen it is he speaks a little -- I mean, really
fluent Spanish? Not George W. Spanish, or an Anglo trying to learn
Spanish, but a guy that speaks it as mother tongue, will that grab people
across the country who are Latino?

SOTO: Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: No, absolutely not?

SOTO: No. We need substance. We don`t need pop and style. We need
substance.

MATTHEWS: You are tough.

SOTO: I`m just saying --

MATTHEWS: You know, somebody spoke my language and I grew newspaper
this country and didn`t speak English or spoke it as a second language, I`m
hearing my heart talk, it would affect me.

SOTO: OK. But, Chris, if you can speak Spanish and at the same time
not put forward draconian immigration policies, that`s the winning
combination. You can`t have just a style by itself. If he brings on the
policy, then so be it.

What I want to say is keep your eye on Iowa, Virginia, and North
Carolina. These are states you don`t think of as having a Latino impact.
But they can. They have two 2 percent to 3 percent Latinos in there and
it`s a statistical dead heat. And Latinos can make the difference in the
states.

MATTHEWS: If they vote. Thank you very much. If they vote -- thank
you very much.

Thank you very much, Victoria.

When we return let me fin wish this: Does Mitt Romney want this job?
Does he want go for it? Does he really like what he is doing? He doesn`t
seem to like it, except when he was with Ryan, because Ryan seems to like
it. I don`t get it.

This is a strange character. We`ve said that before. Maybe not evil
or anything but odd. There`s something odd about the guy. I don`t know
what it is.

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this. I don`t know about this
guy, Romney. I`m not sure he likes this new business of his. He likes
working at Bain. People say they liked him there. He was happy, making
big money, making it fast. He liked that.

He doesn`t seem to like this new business -- this wanting to be
president business. He wants to be president, for sure. It`s the getting
part he doesn`t like and the politics that sure to come should he win. We
know one thing and didn`t learn it recently, is that politics doesn`t end
when someone reaches the White House. Barack Obama could use more
political ability than he has shown dealing with the Congress, getting them
to do what he wants.

So, what`s this with Romney? The minute he got separated from Paul
Ryan this weekend, he went dead again, deadly, dull. Is this really what
he wants to be doing? Is he doing this for love? Is he politician because
he loves what he`s fighting for, what he believes this country needs? Is
he really devoted to the solutions he is offering? Is he?

Or does he just want the title of president? Just wants the
position? The historic status?

One thing we`ve learned, presidents should really like the job of
getting to the White House tend to be the ones who enjoyed being there.
And those who enjoy the work of president tend to be the best at it.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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BE UPDATED.
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