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updated 8/16/2012 10:23:46 AM ET 2012-08-16T14:23:46

HARDBALL
August 15, 2012

Guests: Cynthia Tucker, Neera Tanden, Robert Costa, Penda Hair, Chaka Fattah, Lizz Winstead, David Catanese

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Romney`s complaint.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in Nantucket, where Kathleen and
I started coming on our honeymoon.

Well, "Let Me Start" with Mitt Romney`s daring to call out someone
else for negative campaigning. I was in Iowa when he carpet-bombed former
speaker Newt Gingrich. He then did the same to former senator Santorum.
Now hoping everyone`s forgotten how he got this far, the Curtis Lemay of
massive TV bombing is sniping at a metaphor Joe Biden used against his
economic plans for cutting Medicare and giving back the savings in new and
more generous tax cuts to those at the top.

When`s Mitt Romney going to look around at his own crowd? Here he is
leading the party that drips with birther talk, where slurs of anti- or un-
Americanism are a familiar chorus, with rich and ready references to food
stamps and welfare that are the practiced code of bigots.

Perhaps Mr. Romney should unchain himself from this cotillion of
nastiness before he tries to play umpire against Mr. Biden.

I begin tonight with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker
and the Huffington Post`s editorial director Howard Fineman, who`s also an
MSNBC analyst.

Let`s listen now to Romney. When you listened to him today, you could
hear him complaining about the president`s negative campaigning. You have
to ask yourself, Isn`t this the same Mitt Romney who eviscerated his
primary opponents with the help of his super-PAC?

They ran ads like this, the Romney people, against Gingrich. Let`s
watch how Romney got this far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is this man smiling? Because his plan is
working -- brutally attack Mitt Romney and hope Newt Gingrich is his
opponent. Why? Newt has a ton of baggage, like the fact that Gingrich was
fined $300,000 for ethics violations or that he took at least $1.6 million
from Freddie Mac just before it helped cause the economic meltdown. Then
there`s the $37 million Gingrich took from health care and industry groups.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Cynthia, you know, I don`t know where this guy claimed that
he`s the umpire in this race, where he`s going to decide who`s in and who`s
out in terms of ethics. But this guy got this far with an overwhelming
expenditure of outside money to destroy first Newt, then Santorum and
anyone else who got in his way with absolute blanketing of negative
advertising.

Now he`s saying Biden`s the bad guy because he used the word "chains"
in some metaphor he was putting together.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: Oh, this is manufactured outrage,
Chris. You know, I would bet that Mitt Romney`s staff had this "hatred"
and angry -- "Obama is hateful and angry" speech written days back, and
they were just waiting for an excuse to put it forward.

This is -- Mitt Romney knows that his unfavorable ratings are high and
that Obama is perceived as much more likable than he is. This is an effort
to tar Obama`s image some, increase his unfavorability ratings in the hope
that that will help Mitt Romney some.

But this -- this outrage is absolutely feigned, after all of the
vicious things that not only has Romney said about his Republican rivals,
but he`s spent the last four years saying vicious, untrue things about
Obama, too -- he`s not sufficiently American, he apologizes for America.
He even claimed that Obama apologizes for Americans` athletic greatness in
the Olympics.

This is all not true. And so for Mitt Romney to complain that Obama
is playing dirty is just the height of gall.

MATTHEWS: Howard, your thoughts about this as a campaign tactic. Is
he hoping the media will join in and agree with him that we need to have a
more regulated campaign at the expense of Obama? Is that what he`s up to
here?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, yes, I think part of it is complaining to the refs, Chris, for sure.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: But it`s usually people who...

MATTHEWS: Riding the refs.

FINEMAN: It`s usually the people who commit the foul -- the fouls
that complain the most to the refs. And I think that`s the situation here.

More generally, I think the Romney strategy over the last week or two
especially has been "the best defense is a good offense." They went -- as
soon as Paul Ryan was named, they went after the Medicare issue, trying to
muddy the waters there as much as possible, trying to take the offense on
that.

And on this, they`re doing the same. As Cynthia says rightly, one of
President Obama`s treasured advantages in this campaign, even at a time of
high unemployment, and so forth, is that he`s liked by the American people.
They think he`s a decent guy with decent motives.

And the Romney campaign and its allies will do anything they can to
try to bring him down. They have no expectation that they`re going to
raise the likability of Mitt Romney. They`re utterly realistic about that.
And Mitt Romney doesn`t seem to care that much how liked he is.

He just wants to win and -- and the only way he can do it in this part
of the campaign is by dragging the president down, trying to bait the
president, trying to call him names, trying to drag him down in terms of
likability to Mitt Romney`s own level. And that`s what they`re, frankly,
trying to do here.

MATTHEWS: Well, late yesterday, Mitt Romney reacted with some heated
rhetoric to comments Joe Biden made earlier in the day. The vice president
said Romney wants to unchain Wall Street and put "y`all back in chains."
He`s talking to a mixed audience of white and black people there.

Well, here`s how Romney responded. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His campaign
and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace
the office of the presidency! Another outrageous charge just came a few
hours ago in Virginia, and the White House sinks a little bit lower.

This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like. President
Obama knows better, promised better, and America deserves better.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then try
to cobble together 51 percent of the pieces!

Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back
to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Obama`s spokesman, Ben Labolt, quickly responded
with a very strong statement. Quote, "Governor Romney`s comments tonight
seemed unhinged and particularly strange coming at a time when he`s pouring
tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false."

Well, on CBS this morning, Romney in turn responded to the "unhinged"
charge. Let`s watch the counterpunch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I think "unhinged" would have to characterize what we`ve seen
from the president`s campaign. The president`s campaign is all about
division and attack and hatred. My campaign is about getting America back
to work. If you look at the -- at the ads that have been described and the
divisiveness based upon income, age, ethnicity, and so forth, it`s -- it`s
designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Cynthia, you`re a student of this, as well as
Howard and I. And we talk about the language used in politics all the
time. But you know, we have a rich history in this regard, from Andrew
Jackson all the way up to Harry Truman, certainly, more recently, of
populist language. The most famous speech we -- all of us in high school
reciting was the "cross of gold" speech -- "You shall not crucify mankind
on a cross of gold."

Now, that was over the issue of tight money and loose money and the
silver standard and the gold standard and using even a references like that
were considered fair play. Now, (INAUDIBLE) the word by Biden the other
day, and he can get a little over the top in his language -- was chains.
Now, obviously, it was reference to slavery, historically.

But I think of all the code that`s used on the other side about food
stamps and welfare and welfare queens and all, it seems to me that`s a
negative reference to slavery and to black folk, whereas Biden is -- maybe
he`s trying too hard to get the support of black people and he`s not using
negative slurs in doing it. He`s making an historic reference he may not
have been right to do. But it certainly wasn`t malignant like this other
stuff we get.

That`s my view. What`s yours?

TUCKER: Well, not only was it not malignant, Chris, I`m not even sure
it had anything to do with race. If you didn`t know that there were
significant numbers of black people in the audience and you read what he
said, it seemed to me that he was talking about the difference between the
banks being shackled and being let loose on the average working American.

But be that as it may, it is absolutely true that Republicans have
owned the Southern strategy of just thinly veiled racial references and
race baiting for the last 50 years. They`re well known for that.

And at first, I thought Mitt Romney wouldn`t sink to that. But when
he got desperate enough, he dipped into that rhetoric, too, claiming that
Obama wants to put more people on welfare, they`re not going to have to
work. Well, not only is it a lie...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TUCKER: ... you know that`s all racially coded rhetoric. So for Mitt
Romney to then turn around and claim that Obama is trying to divide us is
laughable.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Joe Biden, vice president`s, comment
yesterday that they`re using on the other side to stir up a hornets` nest.
Here he is -- and also the sharp response. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Romney wants to
let the -- he said in the first 100 days, he`s going to let the big banks
once again write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boo!

BIDEN: They`re going to put y`all back in chains.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. He was following up on a reference from the other
side. Later in the day, the vice president clarified the statement a bit.
Let`s listen to the vice president here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: And I`m told when I made that comment earlier today in
Danville, Virginia, the Romney campaign put out a tweet -- you know tweets?
He put out a tweet, went on the air, went on the airwaves saying Biden --
what`s out (ph) -- he`s outrageous in saying that. I think I said instead
of unshackled, unchained. And it`s outrageous to say that! That`s what
we`ve (ph) had (ph). I`m using their own words!

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: I got a message for him. If you want to know what`s
outrageous, it`s their policies and the effects of their policies on middle
class Americans.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: That`s what`s outrageous!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard, my friend, here we go. The argument here -- and I
don`t know want to get down in the ditch on the exact wordage here, but --
is shackles any different than chains? The Republicans, especially Mr.
Ryan, have been using the word "shackled." They don`t like business being
shackled, corporate greatness to be shackled. Now he threw it back on them
using the word "chains" rather than "shackled."

Can you build a war -- civil war over that distinction?

FINEMAN: No, you really can`t. And I think Joe Biden was trying to
be charming Joe Biden and he made a mistake there, clearly. But the Romney
campaign`s motive in putting attention on it is not to cleanse the campaign
of any racial reference, it`s probably just the opposite. If they can stir
up arguments about race in the campaign, they`re only too happy to do so.

And as a matter of fact, earlier, when Mitt Romney in that earlier
sound bite of yours said that the Obama campaign had been using divisions
of age, income and ethnicity, I don`t -- I`d like to know exactly where.
Maybe I missed it. I don`t think the Obama campaign has harped on
ethnicity as a way of attacking Mitt Romney. I really don`t think that
they have. At least, I haven`t seen it.

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t have any ethnicity.

FINEMAN: Right. I don`t think...

MATTHEWS: Howard, I don`t think of him as an ethnic!

FINEMAN: Right. So I don`t know what they`re talking about there.
But it`s -- it`s -- look, this is rough stuff when you complain about a --
a -- what I would view as a sort of semi-accidental or Joe Bidenish -- and
they`re almost the same thing -- reference there, you`re shining light on
the race issue.

You want to bring up race. You want to talk about it. If you didn`t,
you would have let it go. Come on! That wasn`t a serious attack. And
it`s not like -- you know, that -- that`s my view of it. You talk about
it, you`re bringing it up, you want to have a big argument about it, you
want to talk about race in the campaign. And we`re just getting -- it`s
only August, Chris. October is going to be...

MATTHEWS: Yes, OK, Howard...

FINEMAN: ... hate to say it -- going to be about race and religion.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, racial division may be their -- their winning
ground. Who knows in the end. But I`ll tell you, I`ve got a lot more to
say about this later in the show when I`m going to talk about the stuff
that the Romney side of the political world (ph) have been using --
ethnicity, charges of Obama not really being an American. I`ve never heard
stuff like this in my lifetime of watching politics. And for them to call
around and pretend they`re a referee or an umpire is a joke.

Howard Fineman, thank you. Cynthia Tucker, it`s good to have you on,
always.

FINEMAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: One reason Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on the
ticket is because Ryan supposedly stands for something. Only he didn`t
yesterday. In his first big TV interview with the hometown crowd on Fox --
they`re certainly the home turf -- instead Ryan ducked and dodged a
question about tax reform.

Also, we`ve talked a lot about that tough photo ID law in Pennsylvania
Republicans put in place to help Romney win up there. Well, today a judge
allowed the law to stand. But the legal fight`s far from over. And by the
way, the consequences could be horrific.

And what about all these crazy Joes out there? We got "Joe the
plumber" -- he says we need to put a fence up on the Mexican border and
then start shooting. We got Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he`s not done with his
investigation into the president`s birth certificate, which he calls
forged. U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh is one of the worst of them, says
Muslims are trying to kill Americans here at home. Did you notice? The
three Joes, what a crowd, the "Three Stooges" perhaps.

Let me finish tonight, like I said, with the vicious personal attacks
Republicans have consistently made against President Obama.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: As many as 90 million Americans who are eligible to vote
won`t vote this year. And among those likely non-voters, President Obama
has a 2-to-1 lead over Mitt Romney. That`s according to a new "USA
Today"/Suffolk University poll.

Take a look. These are people that are actually registered to vote,
but for whatever reason -- lack of interest, lack of time -- say they won`t
vote this year. And Obama would get 43 percent of their support versus
just 20 percent for Romney.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Congressman Ryan has joined my campaign, and his campaign is
my campaign now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you running on his budget or your budget?

ROMNEY: Well, my budget, of course. I`m the one running for
president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Mitt Romney cannot escape
questions about Paul Ryan`s budget, and the more he`s asked about it, the
faster he runs away. In fact, the only person running away faster from
Paul Ryan is Ryan himself.

On Fox last evening, Ryan tried his best to distance himself from his
own plan and got on board the amorphous Romney bandwagon, whatever that is
clear (ph). We don`t know what it is. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only President
Obama raids $716 billion from the Medicare program. He cut $716 billion
from the Medicare program to pay for "Obama care."

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Right.

RYAN: We don`t do that.

HUME: Well, what do you -- what -- you (INAUDIBLE) how much?

RYAN: More -- the point -- we -- I joined the Romney ticket. And
what Mitt Romney is proposing to do is repeal all of "Obama care."

HUME: But it is the case that in the budget that you have passed
through the House of Representatives, significant savings of upwards of
$500 billion in Medicare...

RYAN: We don`t -- we don`t...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We do not add cuts to the Medicare program in the House budget.
We don`t take more cuts to Medicare.

I am on the Romney ticket. And what Mitt Romney is proposing is to
repeal all of "Obama care."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Romney campaign has decided to take Medicare,
arguably Ryan`s biggest vulnerability since his budget dismantles it, and
go on offense by saying it`s Obama who will hurt Medicare. Can this double
bank shot work?

Neera Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress and
Robert Costa is a political reporter for the "National Review" and a CNBC
contributor.

I want to go to Neera on this thing. You know, the best we can figure
out is both sides are going to change Medicare to some extent. The Romney
people are going to do the serious business of, it looks like, shifting it
into a voucher program, which is going to get less money to give to the
insurance companies to replace Medicare with less money and by giving a
slice of that money to the insurance companies.

So, I think it does reduce the amount of benefits going to recipients.
On the other hand, the Obama approach has been to basically put a squeeze
on providers, what they call unnecessary services, and hope they can still
provide the full services to the recipients.

Now, those differences add up to basically the same kind of cut in
costs, they claim. That`s my understanding. But here it is. Has Romney
got a case that Obama is hurting Medicare?

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think the,
actually, biggest difference between these two candidates and these two
teams is that President Obama has a plan to have savings in Medicare that
actually goes back to seniors.

There are no savings in Medicare that touch beneficiaries. And that
is the biggest distinction between his plan and the Romney/Ryan support of
premium support. There`s been a lot of debate around the $700 billion, but
both Romney and Ryan have supported turning Medicare into a voucher, which
will shift cost to seniors by $6,000.

MATTHEWS: Right.

TANDEN: Basically, the Romney/Ryan vision of health care is that, can
-- seniors pay too little for health care costs. They need to pay more.
And they need to -- that`s what their premium support plan is all about,
which they -- neither one of them has distanced themselves from.

You know, we might give them a few days, because they might change
their minds on this as well, but so far, they have both endorsed premium
support.

MATTHEWS: Well, the hardest thing right now is to find out what is
exactly their policy. By the way, to try to figure it out and help them
with the politics, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer says Ryan
risks getting caught in the weeds trying to defend his plan and his advice
to him is don`t even try.

Here`s Krauthammer, a smart guy, trying to help the Republican ticket
get its act together. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He`s got one problem. And
I think they knew this was a problem going in. The details of the Ryan
plan have some things which don`t mesh with what Romney is running on and
which are a little harder to defend.

And I think what Ryan has to say is, look, I proposed the plan in
Congress. It was a congressional plan and it was rejected by the
Democratic Senate and by the president. It is now history. I can defend
it if you want. But it is complicated. The active plan right now, what we
are running on, what country is going to see, is the Romney plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Robert Costa of "The National Review," the much respected
"National Review," how do you say, the way Krauthammer just said it, that
your Paul Ryan, the superstar on the budget issue, on all entitlement
programs in the Republican Party, selected as running mate for the very
reason of your expertise and your ability to really figure these things
out, to now say forget everything I have ever said on this issue because
I`m now on the Romney team?

Can you do that? Is this Etch A Sketch now applied to Ryan? Will it
work?

ROBERT COSTA, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Chris, I wouldn`t use the words Etch
A Sketch.

I would just look at history. When JFK tapped LBJ to be his V.P. in
1960, LBJ brought a large legislative agenda, legislative history. But
they shared a common vision. And they had that vision as a ticket and
that`s what you see with Romney and Ryan. Same with Obama and Biden when
four years ago -- when Senator Biden was picked he and Obama were not
identical on every issue, but they shared a common vision.

And especially even on Medicare, they shared the same principles of
the Ryan budget. So, what Ryan is doing in that FOX News interview is
saying that he`s running as a ticket. He will answer the questions, as
Krauthammer said, but he is running on the Romney ticket.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But his philosophy is -- just a minute here. These are
serious beliefs this guy has. Everyone says on your side here`s a man of
conviction, so pay attention to his convictions. He wants to get rid of
any taxation on capital gains.

So, all the rich who make their money off cap gains don`t have to pay
any taxes. He believes that and he believes we have to get rid of Medicare
as we have it and turn into a little voucher program. He believes that.
Is that not relevant? Bob, isn`t that relevant?

(CROSSTALK)

COSTA: It is relevant, but it`s not relevant to the actual platform
of the Romney/Ryan ticket. All of these issues are very relevant to the
debate. But if you want to ask what would Romney and Ryan do once in
office, you have to look at what Mitt Romney`s proposal is, because that`s
what Paul Ryan is endorsing at the moment.

MATTHEWS: Well, we will see.

What`s your thought on that, Neera? Who do we trust here? Do we
trust Ryan or do we trust Romney or what -- it seems to me they are
radical. It was Newt Gingrich who said this is radical right-wing social
engineering and it still looks like it.

TANDEN: Well, look, I think the problem for Mitt Romney on this is
that Paul Ryan has strong views.

They are unpopular, people won`t like them. So, he`s trying to shift.
And in shifting over the last few days, I think he really has helped harden
this view that he does not have -- that there is not a lot of conviction
there. Conservatives pushed him to make this selection of Paul Ryan and it
is a risky selection.

Many of them believe it is a risky selection. He made this risky
selection precisely because conservatives didn`t trust him to be
conservative enough. So now he`s in this weird position.

MATTHEWS: Let me come back -- are you concerned, Neera, that this guy
Ryan believes in the personhood cause, that he believes can`t have abortion
in any circumstances because you have to believe in the personhood of some
-- of any unborn child after conception?

This guy -- it is a pretty radical belief, even for a pro-lifer. And
that`s where he is. Do you think that`s not relevant to this presidential
election, that that`s where he stands, and Romney has got him on the ticket
with him now?

TANDEN: I think the fact that Mitt Romney -- that Mitt Romney chose a
vice presidential candidate who believes that even in the case of rape and
incest, a woman should not have access to abortion, you know, which I think
is a relatively extreme position, far more extreme than even George Bush`s
positions on abortion, is disconcerting.

And the fact that it seemed to me he was cowed into this selection by
conservatives, this is not a pick that will reach out to moderate voters,
he was really cowed into this by conservatives, I think says a lot more
about Mitt Romney than it does say about Paul Ryan.

MATTHEWS: OK. I there is a lot more to this guy Ryan people will be
learning like that personhood belief he has.

Anyway, thank you, Neera Tanden. Thank you, Robert Costa.

COSTA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: the always funny Bill Maher on the difference
between Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin. That`s next in the "Sideshow." And you
know that`s going to be great, with Maher talking.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now to the "Sideshow."

Just how revved is Mitt Romney now that he has got Paul Ryan as his
running mate?

Well, here`s one take.

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

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Now that
they added Paul Ryan to the ticket, he seems energized and he`s just gone -
- here, take a look at how exciting -- this is Mitt right here.

(MUSIC)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Mitt Romney, and I
approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: As I said yesterday, the boost of energy Romney did get on
the day he made Paul Ryan the vice president nominee was lost the second
they split up the next day.

Anyway, next, Bill Maher also unloaded on Romney`s V.P. pick, asking
the question that Republicans don`t like to be asked. Think Sarah Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I heard Joe Biden the
other day say, what`s gutsy about his plan, which is what I have been
saying way back when Paul Ryan first presented his plan. He has, from what
I can see, two ideas, one, let`s stop having rich people pay taxes at all,
and poor people should look for food in the woods.

He is a step up from Sarah Palin? Actually, you know, he`s more
articulate than Sarah Palin. Tell me one area where he and Sarah Palin
would disagree. I cannot find one area. So, somehow, he`s the smartest
guy in the party and she is the stupidest woman on Earth, but they agree on
everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think Maher is one of the smartest people around.

Anyway, here is one difference, books with hard covers. Palin
wouldn`t name -- he reads books. I don`t think she`s looked at a paper in
a while.

Anyway, after Vice President Joe Biden stirred up a right-wing
hornet`s nest yesterday by saying Republican would put Americans -- quote -
- "back in chains," Palin jumped in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The strategists there the
Obama campaign have got to look at a diplomatic way of replacing Joe Biden
on the ticket with Hillary. And I don`t want to throw out that suggestion
and have them actually accept the suggestion because then an Obama/Hillary
Clinton ticket would have a darn good chance of winning. But, really, Joe
Biden really drags down that ticket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think she`s putting us on. Anyway, she needs to stir up
her own audience, obviously, now that the Republican leaders have avoided
giving her a serious role at the coming convention in Tampa.

Anyway, up next: A Pennsylvania judge is allowing that tough new
voter -- photo voter I.D. law to stand, despite a top Republican`s
admission that it was put in place to allow Mitt Romney to win the election
in Pennsylvania.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I`m
Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

A kind of lackluster day today, the Dow off seven. The S&P was up one
and change and the Nasdaq was higher by 14. After the closing bell,
though, some fireworks, Cisco Systems reporting revenue and earnings that
beat estimates very soundly. The company also raising its dividend by 75
percent. Target shares rallying after it boosted its full-year forecast.
Its second-quarter net came in basically flat, though.

Homebuilder sentiment jumped to its highest level in more than five
years, hopes for housing.

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

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

A Pennsylvania judge today refused to block that strict new voter
photo I.D. law that requires voters to show photo I.D., official voter I.D.
cards at the polls before voting this November. Opponents of the
Republican-sponsored law charge that it disenfranchises voters who don`t
have the means to obtain valid photo I.D.cards, the poor, minorities,
students, elderly, and that`s typically Democratic constituencies.

With me right now -- Pennsylvania, by the way, is a crucial swing
state in this election. It could be a move that will have big impacts on
this Election Day. And I`m worried it will turn the election.

U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah is a Democrat from Philadelphia, and
Penda Hair is co-director of the Advancement Project, a plaintiff in the
suit that lost today. The group plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court
tomorrow.

Congressman Fattah, the case is dead right now. It looks like your
voters and your constituency are going to have to go find God-knows what
evidence to prove they have a right to get either a birth certificate and
then use the birth certificate to get a photo I.D. card from the
government.

What are you telling the average person who comes up to you and says I
live in your district, Congressman, I don`t have a driver`s license, how am
I going to get to vote?

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We are going to win this
election because we are going to make sure they can vote.

We are going to have a bifurcated strategy. Obviously the appeal will
go forward. And I want to thank the Advancement Project and the ACLU for
their hard work on this. And I believe that they will be successful in a
court of law.

However, we have been putting together over the last four months the
most significant effort. We have the list of people that the state says
that are on the registration rolls, but who don`t have a driver`s license
and there`s going to be a concerted effort.

Now, if they don`t have a birth certificate and they were born in
Pennsylvania, then they need to meet all of the other requirements. They
don`t have to worry about the birth certificate. If they were born out of
state, we are putting together linkages with elected officials in other
states that can help facilitate us getting those birth certificates.

Many of my constituents migrated from South Carolina, from other
Southern states. Those who are older may even be at a point at which there
weren`t recorded birth certificates for them and we have to find other ways
to meet the hurdle.

But we are going to make sure that people have a right to vote. We
want everyone who is registered to come cast a vote. And if there`s any
problem with their identification, they will be able to be allowed to file
a provisional ballot. But there is no reason for this law.

This is an attempt to -- it`s really a conspiracy to put aside the
Republican Party`s principles, in lieu of trying to win this election. It
is an embarrassment and it should be to the Republican Party. But we are
not going to let it stand in the way of people exercising their franchise.

And we are going to make sure that whatever the rules are, they are
going to apply across the state. So we want to make sure that we can fight
this in court. But we are going to meet the hurdles whatever they may be.
And, you know, people have given their lives and went through a lot of
effort and struggle -- and, Chris, you know some of them firsthand -- so
that people can have the right to vote.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FATTAH: And we are not going to sit back and let these -- let these
rights be set aside by some procedural hurdles.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let me go to Penda on this, because what strikes me, this is worse
than anybody watching can understand. You have to have a birth
certificate. To get a birth certificate, you need a photo I.D. How are
you going to get a government photo I.D. card if you need a birth
certificate to get one? This is almost like the old literacy laws.

Now, there are other ways perhaps to get there. But to the average
person who doesn`t have a driver`s license, and big city people who live in
rowhouses and rely on public transportation don`t have driver`s licenses --
how do you get -- just tell me how difficult it is for an average person to
get to vote in Pennsylvania, where they grew up.

How hard is it? Well, tell me how they have to do it, Penda.

PENDA HAIR, CO-DIRECTOR, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Yes, Chris.

This is a very disappointing decision. The evidence was overwhelming.

MATTHEWS: No, no. Answer my question. What does it take? Tell us how
bad this law is. What does it make a person do?

HAIR: You have to have a photo ID that is not expired, that is
issued by the state government or the United States military or United
States passport. And to get that ID, if you don`t have a birth
certificate, you have to go to the state where you were born, and that
state has to give you a birth certificate and pay whatever fee which is,
you know, $14 to $25 to get a copy of your birth certificate, bring that
back to Pennsylvania. We have many plaintiffs at trial who went to their
state and they didn`t have any record that they had been born there,
because they were born with a midwife, their birth was than registered.

And so, those folks are going to have an extremely hard time meeting
the requirements of they are law. And there`s just not very much time
left. So this is a real blow to the democracy.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D). PENNSYLVANIA: Chris, let me say this. You
know, the public says while voter ID, that`s -- if this was just a matter
of people producing some identification that will be one thing. This is a
very prescriptive requirement that requires if you work for the school
district in Lower Merion County Township in my new district, you won`t be
able to use that ID even though it is a government issued ID if you work
for -- you have to get one from the state of Pennsylvania and if you are a
military person that has -- like Joe Sestak, a military card but no
expiration date, you point be able to use it because it must have an
expiration date.

It`s a very prescriptive law a lot of people when they show up at the
polls are never going to know these details. So we have to work very, very
hard and we put together an effort to be able to knock on every one of
these doors and to work to make sure that people can be educated while our
great lawyers continue to fight this in a Supreme Court and if necessary,
in other courts.

MATTHEWS: OK. You know, you think King Herd once did this about
2,000 years ago. Go back to the town of your birth. Remember that one?
That`s how the Christmas story occurred. This is really biblical stuff
going on here, really bad news.

Anyway, thank you, Congressman Chaka Fattah, good luck with this
effort. Everybody should vote.

And, Penda Hair, good luck on your case to the Supreme Court in
Harrisburg.

Up next, three Joes and they are all nuts. By the way, certifiable.

Joe the plumber wants to build a fence on Mexican boarder and then
start shooting. That`s what he says.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is from Arizona, pressing on with his birther
investigation of the president

And good old U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh, the deadbeat dad, he says
Muslims are trying to kill Americans right here at home.

You notice, the crazy Joes, next. And I`m not kidding. These guys
are zany.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Take a look at -- actually House Speaker John Boehner said
Monday, that`s two days ago, about Paul Ryan`s conservative credentials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that he`s a
practical conservative. He`s -- got a very conservative voting record.
But he`s not a knuckle dragger. He understood the TARP, while none of us
wanted to do it, if we were going to save our economy, save the world
economy, would happen. I wish we didn`t have to do it either, but he
understood it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s referring to members of his caucus, among them, he`s
not a knuckle dragger like some of the other ones. It is amazing how he
talks about these guys. So, now we really know what Boehner thinks of the
Tea Party wing of his party, don`t you think?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back.

Here is a group of less than average Joes. Joe the plumber, Sheriff
Joe Arpaio of Arizona, and Joe Walsh all spew insanity. But rarely do they
go back to back to back.

Well, first up, you have Joe the plumber telling an Arizona
Republican fund-raiser that he wasn`t worried about being politically
correct. He was going to tell it like it is. The way to protect the
border, he says is to build a fence and then start shooting.

At that same fund-raiser, Sheriff Joe Arpaio down there said his
investigation he called night the president`s birth certificate is
proceeding and is convinced the document from Honolulu is a fraud.

And a few days earlier, Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh told a town hall
audience in Illinois there were radical Islamists in the Chicago suburbs
trying to kill Americans every week.

What do these Joes have in common? They all trying to be as
incendiary as possible and they all succeeded.

Lizz Winstead is the comedian and co-creator of "The Daily Show."
Thanks for joining us. She`s the author of "Lizz Free or Die."

And David Catanese is a reporter for "Politico."

You know, I`m hanging these people. I want -- let`s watch Joe the
plumber, first of all. He`ll warm this up. He said at a fund-raiser
Friday that Arizona State Lori Klein, it`s a fund-raiser for her. Here`s
what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMUEL WURZELBACHER, JOE THE PLUMBER: You know, for years, I`ve
said, you know, put a damn fence on the border going to Mexico and start
shooting. I`m not going the hide it because I`m running for office. I
want the borders protected, and I`m very, very adamant about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go with Lizz. These people -- we are going to
go through this trio of Joes. They happen to have the same name and same
M.O. They are crazy.

But, politically, they have a crowd on the right and niche of people
who applaud terrible things like we are going to shoot Mexican Americans on
site. Just kill them.

Is that funny? Is that overstatement? Do they actually mean it?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, THE DAILY SHOW: Well, you know, as you hear this
rhetoric, it feels like every five years, we are -- what seemed absurd is
now normal.

And it seems like there`s all this extra money in the world. If have
you money to give to Joe the plumber and the messaging he`s got for you is
hey let`s go down to the border and shoot up the border, at the fund raiser
for a woman who pulled a pink gun on the press and said my finger wasn`t on
the trigger, I don`t know. I feel like slightly I may be put out of
business, because reality is just trumping what I do.

MATTHEWS: You know, David, these are not people -- these screw
balls, they`re not people we discovered. These are heroes in the
Republican culture. These are people like Donald Trump, he knows how to
make money as least. They love these people, David. They`re the heroes.

DAVID CATANESE, POLITICO: I would actually put Joe Walsh in a bit of
a different category. I`ve interviewed him.

I think he`s a true believer. This is a guy who says things on the
record that most politicians would never do off the record. And again, he
is an elected congressman in a very tough race. And I think he holds these
-- when he says something, I think he believes it.

I think with the plumber and the sheriff, are more showmen. They`ve
got books to hawk. Joe the plumber was revealed that he gets paid
sometimes to go into these congressional districts. Remember, Joe the
plumber is a congressional candidate running in Ohio, what is he doing in
Arizona if he really wants to win that race? You know, it was revealed
after her endorsed Herman Cain last year, Herman Cain campaign paid him
$10,000.

So these guys also know where their bread is butter.

WINSTEAD: But I would say, Joe --

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this guy. I`m sorry. Let`s go to
look at Joe Walsh. We`ll skip ahead to Joe Walsh and what he`s been
saying. Let`s look at Walsh, because you`re right. He`s an elected an
official, a United States congressman.

Let`s hear what he has to say about the near threat of radical Islam
in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: In this country, it`s not just over
there, trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat. And it
is a threat that is much more at home now than it was right after 9/11.
It`s here. It`s in Elk Grove, it`s in Addison, it`s in Elgin. It`s here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The specificity of this insanity, I guess it`s the old Joe
McCarthy trick. The more specific you sound, the more credible you are.
If you give a lot of details about the near threat of Islamic terrorism in
this country plotting against us as a real threat -- I guess it rings true
to those people watching his pointer there as if he was the mad professor.

WINSTEAD: Well, and he goes on to say there`s a string of Muslim as
though Muslim is some kind of pandemic, some kind of a bad thing we need a
vaccine for.

I mean , it`s so funny -- I grew up in Keith Ellison`s district in
Minnesota, I now live in a very extremely Muslim neighborhood in Brooklyn,
New York. I don`t see what he sees. And I`m curious as to how many
Muslims are actually plotting in his particular neighborhood, because it
doesn`t seem like with the tragedies we`ve seen, that it has anything to do
with Muslims whatsoever. And he opens his big mouth and there`s a threat
against an Islamic schoolyard.

It`s troubling and crazy but also people hear them like you said,
Chris. The people find them as heroes. They`re their spokespeople. They
feel like it`s a calling.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s one common thing here. There`s a common
thread in this insanity and it`s racial and ethnic. I mean, they go after
people, Mexican-American, and other people who have come here to this
country from Latin America, South America, they attack them. That`s Joe
the plumber.

Arpaio does the same thing. He`s going after the president because
he`s African-American, go after his birth certificate. Let`s face it, he
wouldn`t do it to a white guy.

There`s nothing more inspiring to me as an American to walk down 6th
Avenue in New York and see a guy run really a humble food stand on the
corner with his prayer mat out praying to Mecca. I want that country where
people are free to do that at night on the job.

WINSTEAD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s not terrorism. It`s wonderful. It`s American
freedom of religion. We should be proud we`re the country that can do that
and make a living when you come here.

Anyway, thank you, Lizz Winstead and David Catanese. We`ve got to
stop being afraid of what this country is.

When we return, let me finish with the personal attacks in this
campaign, the ones we`ve been hearing now for years made by Republicans
against President Obama. Let`s drop this chains talk about Biden.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: "We will answer their
demand for a gold standard by saying to them: you shall not press down upon
the brow of labor, the crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon
a cross of gold."

Well, this was the future Democratic candidate for president back in
1896, William Jennings Bryan at the Chicago convention of that year.

What would Mitt Romney say of this? Would he say that the great
comment was out of bounds? That he was running a great campaign?

Well, the great irony, the great fact behind this latest Romney tact
is that all he says about the vice president, Mr. Biden, and his metaphor
about chains and economic profession pale before the language of past
campaigns. The phrase, Mr. Romney, is populism. The same populism we got
from Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman and Democrats since anyone can
remember. So, I say, Mr. Romney, get used to it.

Now, for your crowd. A word is in order about the words your fond
cotillion has been employing out there in voter land. Let`s just say it
wasn`t the Democrats who brought up the church the Republican candidate
attends. It was the Republicans who attacked the church the Democratic
candidate did. It wasn`t the Democrats who attacked the background of the
Republican candidate Mr. Romney. It was the cackling mod on the right --
the mob that continues even b now to question the American birth, without a
demurral from the Republican candidate. Not a word does he say when his
allies bark and bay in the moonlight that the president is an illegal
immigrant who snuck in after his birth to grab the White House.

And it hasn`t been the Democrats attacking the other candidate`s
loyalty to the country, not a word. You never hear a Democrat question or
mention the fact of Romney`s Americanism, never a peep.

But, boy, do Romney and his verbal henchmen love bringing it up in
their constant round of slurs against this president, about how foreign he
sounds and thinks. How he doesn`t know what it means to be an American.
His claim of birth right citizenship is some kind of street corner con.
That`s what they call it. We`ve heard it all, the ugly rant from high and
low that never seems to end.

And so, my fellow Americans on the right, get this: before you play
umpire, consider your own performance in this contest. Can you honestly
say you`re proud of the words your crowd has been using? Can you honestly
say this is good for the country to bark over and over that the other guy
who doesn`t share your politics is also deserving of having everything fair
game from his birth, to his church attendance, to his basic American
loyalty. Do you really feel proud?

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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