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updated 8/29/2012 11:13:20 AM ET 2012-08-29T15:13:20

HARDBALL
August 28, 2012

Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, George Pataki, Susan Page, Michelle Goldberg, Marsha Blackburn, Charlie Crist

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: It`s Republican time in Tampa.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews down in Tampa.

"Let Me Start`` with tonight`s opening of the Republican national
convention. This is the second GOP convention in a row that`s been delayed
by threatening skies. And if this were the Democrats facing the wrath of
bad weather, I imagine some character like Pat Robertson would be standing
out there in ancient garments lamenting God`s judgment on the fallen.

Well, here in Tampa, it`s just late August weather, a rare acceptance in
these political quarters of science. Well, tonight the R`s have a triple-
header scheduled. We`ve got the unforgettable Rick Santorum coming up to
push the dishonest Romney welfare pitch, the same old ploy used for decades
by George Wallace, David Duke, and yes, Ronald Reagan, to stir up racial
resentment.

Then we have the candidate`s wife, Ann Romney, coming on to sell the man
she loves. Then to cap off the evening, to rip the bark off Obama, the
convention keynoter, Chris Christie of New Jersey, to lay on some real
Jersey "atty-tude.``

I`m joined by Nia-Malika Henderson with "The Washington Post`` and Joan
Walsh with Salon.

There`s a long history we all know in American politics of using welfare to
divide voters along racial lines. Ronald Reagan, starting in his campaign
in 1976 and onward, often referred to a "welfare queen`` who collected
checks under multiple aliases. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Chicago a couple
years back, they found a woman who was getting checks under 127 different
names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, on the campaign trail in 1976, Reagan vilified, quote,
"the strapping young buck" on food stamps. Well, "The New York Times"
reported it this way. "At an overflow rally in Ft. Lauderdale, he said
working people were outraged when they waited on lines in grocery store
checkout counters while a,`` quote, "`strapping young buck` ahead of them
purchased T-bone steaks with food stamps.``

Well, the reporter pointed out this specific language was tailored to the
Southern audience, writing, "The ex-governor was using the grocery line
illustration before, but in states like New Hampshire, where there is scant
black population, he has never used the expression `young buck` before,
which to whites in the South generally denotes a large black man.``

When David Duke ran for governor of Louisiana, he, too, hit on welfare
recipients in his campaign ad. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID DUKE (R-LA), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: I`ll make welfare recipients
work for their checks, get the drugs out of their neighborhoods and reduce
the illegitimate welfare birth rate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Bring it down. Thank you.

In a campaign brochure for George Wallace`s 1976 presidential run, he says
he would work for, quote, "a curtailing of welfare programs that are
designed to pay able-bodied individuals not to work."

Well, there you have it. Nia-Malika Henderson, you are younger than me.
Maybe you didn`t have to witness this garbage, but it went on and on and
on-- welfare queens, young bucks, food stamp cheats. It was always with a
racial implication. Everybody thought so. It still seems to do so.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST``: Well, you know, think Mitt
Romney finds himself in a position where his challenge is really swelling
(ph) the white vote. I just talked to a top Republican who said that`s
essentially what he needs to do.

They aren`t necessarily, you know, obviously going after African-Americans.
They haven`t done well with Hispanics. So in some ways, this is the last
stand that they can make in terms of getting this--

MATTHEWS: You make it sound justified, that someone, this is the only way
they win is to scare the white vote.

HENDERSON: Well, I mean, it certainly works that way. I mean, when you
have those ads, they certainly invoke in people a certain feeling, and that
feeling is anger, it`s resentment. And those are the people that get out
and vote and those are the people that, you know, knock on doors. So I
mean, it`s a strategy that has worked.

And I think we are naive to suggest that somehow, race and politics haven`t
in many ways existed in a bad marriage in terms of presidential politics
through a long time--

MATTHEWS: You think most African-Americans that you report on and cover
know what the signal is?

HENDERSON: You know, I think they do. And I think-- I mean, if you look
at the recent poll that you all had out, I think it was zero percent
African-Americans who are supporting Mitt Romney. And there isn`t a sense
that Mitt Romney is actually going after African-Americans. But there is a
sense that he has to do well among white working class voters, much better
than John McCain did. And so far, he hasn`t been able to do that. So I
think they go to identity politics.

MATTHEWS: Well, you are brutally honest an analyst of what`s going on.
Without any passion, you simply state, This is the way it works.

Go ahead, Joan. Your thoughts and feelings.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she`s telling the
truth. And you know, the real problem for the Republican Party, Chris, is
that it is the white party-- 89 percent of self-identified Republicans,
according to Gallup last year, were white, in a country that`s 63 percent
white. This is a strategy--

MATTHEWS: There`s nothing wrong with being white.

WALSH: Oh, I love being white.

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH: No problem. (INAUDIBLE) say anything-- nothing bad about white
people. But in a country this diverse, it`s not a formula for long-term
success. But this is the last time they`re going to-- or one of the last
times they`ll be able to do this. They also have a problem with the white
working class because they don`t trust Romney.

MATTHEWS: We`re getting ready right now for history, the roll call, where
people are going to actually going to vote at this convention to nominate--
we all expect, certainly, to nominate Mitt Romney for president of the
United States. It`s going to happen. We`re looking at John Boehner, the
speaker of the House. He`s on the floor of the convention-- at the podium.
They`re about to begin this procedure.

It`s obviously cooked in the numbers. He`s got-- he`s won most of the
primaries. He`s won overwhelmingly the majority of the delegates, and
we`re going to see the formality take place, I believe, right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The call of the roll of the states. Alabama, 50
votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam secretary, I`m proud to lead the Alabama
delegation. Alabama is on the move! Three national football championships
in the last three years. In transportation technology (INAUDIBLE)

But madam secretary, we need a job-builder who will slash the $16 trillion
debt holding us back. Alabama`s 50 delegates unanimously cast our votes
for the only person who can do that, the next president of the United
States, Mitt Romney!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alabama, 50, Romney.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s, of course, the beginning of the roll call. It`s
going to take 1,144 votes to win the nomination, to lock it up. We`re
going to get back-- as we get near the conclusion, you`re going to see it
right here on MSNBC.

Let`s talk about this dishonest ad because you`re the reporter with "The
Washington Post,`` of course, Nia, and we`ve worked so long together. Your
paper has done a fact-check on this, where it claims, of course, that this
welfare work requirement, which was put into law under President Clinton,
is not being exercised or enforced by President Obama, that he created a
loophole so people could skip work.

According to your paper, that`s a dishonest statement.

HENDERSON: Right. It is dishonest. If you look at the memo-- and this
was released in July-- it`s absolutely not true. And even Newt Gingrich
has come out to say, Well, we`re not really sure if it`s really true,
either, this ad that they have out.

But again, we know what`s going on. I mean, they`re playing, in some ways,
identity politics. Paul Ryan is playing into this, too, when he says that
he`s a Catholic deer hunter. It`s of a same piece, I think.

But I think the thing about political ads is they don`t always have to be
true to be effective, but they do have to exist as propaganda in some ways.
And I think in that way, it is probably very effective in terms of
invoking--

MATTHEWS: But what`s the limit here? How far can you go in simply saying,
We know this will appeal to the white working class, so why don`t we rip
the bark off, scare them enough and say-- rip the scab off, in this case--
remember your racist attitudes? Here`s some reason for more. These--
these black people are getting free checks without even showing up to the
unemployment lines. They don`t have to do anything because of this
African-American president.

WALSH: Well, and the worst thing about it--

MATTHEWS: I mean, that`s what it`s saying.

WALSH: One of the worst things. The worst thing about it is that it`s
false. And then it`s also racist. But it`s also-- TANF, the program that
we`re talking about, is .07 percent of the federal budget. It`s a tiny
program. Its rolls have shrunk by 58 percent since President Clinton
signed the welfare reform law into law.

It is not helping very many people. In fact, we have the opposite problem.
And they`re acting like it`s this growing program that`s giving away your
hard-earned tax dollars.

HENDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) it`s largely children and white women who benefit
from these programs.

WALSH: Right. Right.

HENDERSON: I was down in Florida, and I met with a white woman who had
been laid off as a teacher, and she was actually having to get welfare and
food stamps to take care of her family.

WALSH: Right.

HENDERSON: So-- but I do think, in the popular imagination, that a welfare
recipient does exist as an African-American woman. And that`s--

MATTHEWS: Well, the Romney welfare ad we`re talking about, which has been
overwhelmingly debunked by every newspaper, every honest group out there,
has been airing in key primary states, obviously-- I`m sorry, key swing
states now since early August.

Let`s watch this ad, which has been basically been discredited.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Mitt Romney and
I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s Mitt Romney approving-- you know, there`s an old
argument that-- a sociological argument about the middle class that Robert
Reich, the former secretary of labor, told me about. He basically said if
you want to get to the middle class, the working class in this country,
they fear two things, the mob at the gate-- now, they could be illegal
immigrants, they could be poor people, it could be crime, it could be
anything that they fear from the bottom.

And then the rot at the top that says they`re being screwed by the people
with power in this country. It seems to me, in all fairness, that the
Republicans are working the mob at the gate.

HENDERSON: That`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And the Democrats are thinking it`s the bastards up on Wall
Street that are taking all your money. Right?

HENDERSON: That`s right. I think you`re exactly right. I mean, and
that`s why you see all these ads casting Mitt Romney as someone who doesn`t
care about the poor people. And the polls reflect that people generally
seem to believe that Mitt Romney is more out for rich people than he is for
the middle class.

MATTHEWS: So what do you think as a reporter? I asked you a tough
question. What are people most resentful of, poor people that they think
are grabbing welfare checks without work, or the people up on Wall Street
who are basically setting the system up where they`re holding back their
investments until this guy`s out of office, they`re planning what they can
to get tax cuts for cap gains to practically zero, in effect. They want
low-- they want the Bush rates, the corporate rates lower, nothing but-- no
more EPA regulation, just huge amounts of wealth to increase their own
wealth.

HENDERSON: Yeah, I mean, I think it depends on who you are. It depends on
where you stand. How close are you to poor people? How close-- you know,
where do you live?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What works better?

HENDERSON: Works better? I think-- I mean, that`s going to be the big
test of this campaign. I think for now--

MATTHEWS: The Republicans think--

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: --appealing to poor people works better. Historically, that`s
true. But it`s possible that this time around, Mitt Romney is the perfect
candidate to be--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: --the 1 percent look-alike.

WALSH: Exactly. And the empathy gap is so huge. That is a real problem
for him. So his strategists are openly admitting that they`ve got to go
hard on these cultural issues to grab that white working class voter. And
fear works and it`s always worked.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the big pitch tonight. Santorum, I`m told, has
been tasked-- that`s a nice word-- with smashing into this welfare
argument. That`s his job. That`s his key to admission. He gets to speak
tonight because he`s agreed to push this lie on welfare.

HENDERSON: You know, I don`t know how-- that`s probably not the best
choice in terms of appealing to the broad middle, and that`s what this
party needs to do. It needs to appeal to women. It needs to appeal to
Latinos. It needs to appeal to African-Americans.

He`s obviously a Catholic. He`s not going to appeal to this sort of social
justice strain that exists among Catholics. So it`s a tough thing, I
think, for Rick Santorum and this party to pull off this argument. But
they`re certainly going to try.

MATTHEWS: He will do the father with the big hands and all that stuff?

HENDERSON: That`s right. That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And that`s the nice part of his background. But if he goes in
and plays this job, then he`s a hired hand, I think.

WALSH: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: Don`t you think so?

WALSH: And he is (ph) happy to do that during the primary (ph).

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. It`s going to be an interesting night because we have
the nice from Mrs. Romney. We`re going to have the Jersey "atty-tude,``
which is going to be great to watch because this guy`s going to talk like
he`s yelling at a cab driver just cut him off--

HENDERSON: And there`s some-- there`s some minorities that are going to
be--

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: --Mia Love, Nikki Haley--

MATTHEWS: He`s got the sleaze biz tonight to do. Anyway, thank you, Nia-
Malika Henderson, for a very-- I would say almost perfect description of
the situation. And Joan Walsh, of course, with the passionario (ph) I
love.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Coming up from the Republican national convention here in Tampa,
it`s sweltering (ph) now. It`s shvitzing, if you`re from New York. It`s
hot and it`s humid.

Chris Christie, by the way, needs to fire up the conservatives tonight. We
know how he`s going to do it. He`s going to take on Obama. But Ann
Romney, as I said, needs to do something five years of campaigning hasn`t
accomplished, to show her husband as sort of a regular nice person, I
guess. We`re going to see how she tries and whether she succeeds.

Also, the Republican platform supports extreme anti-abortion language,
giving 14th Amendment rights to life, liberty and property to the unborn.
Well, there`s a new one. Also exempting nothing, including rape and incest
from its law. Also, the vast majority of Republicans don`t even support
the kind of narrow definition that they`re talking about in the platform.

So the secret tonight, don`t get people anywhere near that platform. But
we`re going so show to it you, what the party says it stands for. We`re
going to ask the chairwoman of the platform committee to talk to us.

Also, the former Florida governor, Charlie Crist, says the Republican Party
has moved so far right, there`s no room in it for him. He`s here to
explain why he`s endorsing President Obama.

So-- plus, we`ll be monitoring the roll call throughout the hour to get you
up to date on the inside action in the convention hall as Mitt Romney gets
closer to clinching the Republican nomination. He needs 1,144 votes. He`s
getting them.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE``: Are you going to entertain or
inform or both?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You know, probably more inform than
entertain. I mean, I think, you know, my style can be entertaining at
times, even unintentionally.

BRZEZINSKI: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Yeah. So you know, I think it`s my job to set out the vision
for the party for the next 10 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, New Jersey
governor Chris Christie previewing the keynote speech he`s going to give
tonight. He`s a man many wanted to run for president, but tonight,
Christie will be making the argument for Republican policies and
principles, you could say, in the Romney administration.

Meanwhile, the candidate`s wife-- that`s Ann Romney-- is going to show the
more personal side of her husband. Chuck Todd`s calling it the hard sell
and the soft sell tonight. I`m calling it the affection and the "atty-
tude.`` Both hope to be successful in helping Romney make his case and win
independent voters this November.

With me now is former governor, Republican governor of New York, three-time
governor of New York, George Pataki, and of course, "USA Today`s"
Washington bureau chief, Susan Page.

(INAUDIBLE) Republican nominating roll call, as we`ve been covering it, has
begun here in Tampa, as we showed you. We expect Mitt Romney to go over
the top within the hour. We`ll keep you up to date on the roll call count.
There it is right now.

Anyway, let me ask you, Governor-- this-- you were a pro-choice Republican
in New York and Romney was one in Massachusetts. And now we have a
platform that`s just been released tonight which basically accords 14th
Amendment rights of life, liberty and property to the unborn, and goes all
the way towards actually--

GEORGE PATAKI (R), FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, two
things--

MATTHEWS: What, I don`t get to ask the question? Where do you stand on
the platform? Are you on this platform?

PATAKI: I support the position enunciated by Governor Romney. He`s going
to lay out his agenda for what he will do as president. He has already
said what his position is. But you know what`s fascinating--

MATTHEWS: Well, does he--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why is there a platform--

WALSH: --talk about what`s happened over the last four years.

MATTHEWS: No, let`s talk--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, let`s talk about what happened the last hour.

PATAKI: --the last four years.

MATTHEWS: OK, I`m trying to go with the news story. You have a platform
to stand on. Can you stand on it?

PATAKI: I can stand behind Mitt Romney and work hard to make him president
of the United States.

MATTHEWS: But not the platform.

PATAKI: He doesn`t stand entirely with the platform, but that`s not
the point.

The point is that he is has the right experience and ideas to lead
this country. And we are looking at a country where the overwhelming
majority of Americans know we`re headed in the wrong direction. And it`s
not because of a failure of the American people. It`s this administration
that had so much promise four years ago that has let the American people
down.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about one more element in the platform,
and then we will move on to what you want to talk about.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Are you comfortable as an Eastern governor who has been an
Eastern governor and has had to deal with crime, gun violence --

PATAKI: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- that the platform tonight basically calls for
unlimited magazines, unlimited ammo drums on these semiautomatic weapons,
like we saw in killings where people kill people by the score?

PATAKI: You know --

MATTHEWS: Do you have any problem with that?

PATAKI: -- Governor Romney has already said he doesn`t agree with
every element of the platform.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: All right. OK. I guess these platforms --

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: Talk about what matters to the people.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question. Why do you have a platform if
you refuse to --

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: It reflects the views of the delegates here.

MATTHEWS: OK.

PATAKI: But the party position will be enunciated by the candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In other words, the people who nominate him don`t matter?

PATAKI: Sure they matter.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Their platform doesn`t matter.

PATAKI: They`re casting their votes right now.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. I get the message. I get the message. You`re not
comfortable with the platform, you don`t want to talk about it. Fair
enough.

Let`s take a look at Governor Christie tonight, somebody closer to you
politically, I believe.

PATAKI: Right.

MATTHEWS: He weighed in on Romney`s tax returns this morning on
"JOE." Actually, it was an interview with Matt Lauer on "Today." Let`s
listen to Governor Christie, who is really good at this talk. He knows how
to talk.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think you could always look
back in retrospect and say maybe I would have done this or that
differently.

But in the end, do I think any American voter is going to say I`m not
voting for him because of this? No. I think they`re much more concerned
about mounting debt and deficit and the other issues we`re talking about,
joblessness. And those are the things that are going to decide this
election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Susan Page, thanks for joining from us from "USA Today."

You know, it`s interesting that Christie`s very good at sort of
conceding the point. OK, I would have released my tax returns. OK, I
wouldn`t have told the lame joke about not having a birth certificate
problem. He lays back, just like the governor here lays back on the
platform. Everybody concedes, OK, the platform doesn`t mean anything, and
this guy`s made a lot of mistakes, but -- they`re very -- well, they`re
very good at it. They don`t fight over what they can`t defend. Your
thoughts?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": Well, I think
that`s right.

I think the platform has the potential to be a problem for Governor
Romney. The failure to release more than two years of his tax returns can
be an issue. But I do think that Governor Christie is right that it`s not
the core issue of his campaign. The core issue of this campaign is the
economy, in terms of that`s what they want to talk about.

And, boy, once this platform`s been passed, once they get on the stage
tonight for the big speeches, that is what they`re going to focus on.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s the core issue for the Republicans, right?

PATAKI: No.

(LAUGHTER)

PATAKI: What -- the core issue, it`s exactly what you just said.

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: They don`t talk about what the people want to hear them talk
about. And that`s the Obama administration. They don`t talk about jobs,
they don`t talk about deficit, they don`t talk about what they have done
with Obamacare that is not liked by the American people.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PATAKI: But let`s talk about a 2003 tax return, or let`s talk about a
provision in a platform that Governor Romney has said he doesn`t agree
with. Let`s talk about the future of America.

And that is what matters to people.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And that`s very profound. But the fact is I didn`t come
out with his position on tax returns, I didn`t write your party`s platform.
I`m asking you --

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: And I didn`t come out -- come out with your position on
Obama`s records in school or law school. I don`t care about that.

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: I care about what this president has not done.

MATTHEWS: Are you listening to Donald Trump? Are you at Trump`s
media market? You`re talking about his school records? Are you infected
by that, the school records? You are Trumped. You have been Trumped.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s go --

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: Chris, Chris, how much promise did this president hold out
four years ago, and has he let us down? Let me ask you a question. Has he
let us down?

MATTHEWS: No, because I think that if you look at things like your
crowd, the rich people, doubling, doubling the Dow Jones industrial
average, if any Republican has doubled the Dow Jones average from 6500 to
13000, you would be dancing on the roof.

If your guy had caught bin Laden -- if your guy had caught bin Laden,
you would give him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Are you kidding me?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go. Let`s go to Romney.

Let`s go. Anyway, Susan --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Susan, why don`t you delineate the truth here? Let`s talk
about it as a journalist.

It seems to me the Republicans want to talk about one issue, how lousy
the economy is and blame Obama for it. Any other discussion is called
digression. Your thoughts?

PAGE: Well, that is the core of the Republican message.

And it is true that there are other issues that matter to people. But
Republicans think that this issue, the issue of the economy and President
Obama`s stewardship of it is the core issue, the issue that`s going to
determine the outcome of the election, if they can keep the focus on it.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is the guy I was pushing for president a few
years ago, but he`s mad at me now.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, George Pataki, three-time governor of New York, a
man very much like Chris Christie, you`re going to hear from tonight, but a
little more restrained.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Susan Page, thank you for joining us from "USA
Today."

Up next -- by the way, I read "USA Today" every time I go on the road,
every time.

We`re going to have more from Tampa and our coverage of the Republican
National Committee and the roll call, the real suspense coming around 6:00.
We`re going to see who won the nomination officially. That is coming up
later, so don`t turn it off, a historic moment coming up. They`re up to
Indiana in the roll call. That`s I.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- join us in Congress in our already strong
congressional delegation. Expand our statehouse legislative majorities,
and keep all of our statewide elected offices, proudly cast all of our 46
delegate votes to America`s next great president, Mitt Romney.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indiana --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Republican?

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Hi. We`re back.

I want to ask some of these people about Ann Romney because we have
never seen Ann Romney in action.

Can she humanize her husband, make him a more of a cuddly kind of guy
tonight, or what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, I think she absolutely can. My name is
Jeff (ph). I`m from New Jersey. I go to University of Tampa, and I`m --
in November, I will definitely be voting for Mitt Romney.

(BOOING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very excited for Ann`s speech tonight.

MATTHEWS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I`m really excited for Chris Christie.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you know how to say attitude?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: South Jersey, South Jersey, come on. Where you from in
Jersey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morristown. I went to Seton Hall Prep High
School.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s pretty far north, isn`t it? I`m talking about South
Jersey.

Who is going to -- what do you think about Ann Romney tonight? It`s
her first big chance. She`s got 20 minutes on the stage to sell her hubby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think 20 minutes might be long enough.
If anybody can do it, Ann Romney can do it.

MATTHEWS: Why do you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I feel like she`s been less likely than
previous first ladies to just be a pretty face. She`s stood up for him on
issues that have been unpopular like his tax returns. So, if she`s able to
talk about it --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You think she`s allowed to say tax returns?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I hope so.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about Ann Romney tonight or Chris
Christie? Because Christie`s got real voice. He`s a real -- he`s the kind
of guy giving the sign to the cab driver, just cut him off, it seems to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I like Chris Christie. I Ann --

MATTHEWS: Oh, I like that, too. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ann Romney, though, is going to be the next first
lady of the United States.

MATTHEWS: Aren`t you -- aren`t you --

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Linda Johnson (ph) --

MATTHEWS: It`s time for a Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Tampa, Florida. And I`m an independent and
I`m disgusted with both parties.

MATTHEWS: Why?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of all the lying and -- and fighting.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who`s told the biggest lie you have heard?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, gosh.

MATTHEWS: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably Romney.

MATTHEWS: What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the work -- well, work for welfare is one.

MATTHEWS: Thank you!

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporations aren`t people. Corporations aren`t
people.

MATTHEWS: What are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Ron Paul supporter. Ron Paul --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know what? You know how many votes we`re getting Ron
Paul?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Come down here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Paul --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I thought you were somebody from the Christian era.

Anyway, come here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Who are you for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m from Tampa. I`m definitely for Obama.

And I`m also thinking that we have got to get a lot of people in
Florida out there volunteering.

MATTHEWS: That`s right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a little bit of time.

MATTHEWS: OK.

OK. I think we have got a good mix here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think Ann Romney -- a lot of people are going to watch
Ann Romney tonight and get an idea about her husband, who`s been a bit
opaque, a bit remote, when he talks about I just left the aircraft.

You wonder what kind of language that is.

Anyway, we will be right back with more serious HARDBALL.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maryland, 37, Romney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back, watching the very closing moments now of the
Republican roll call for the president of the United States.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Minnesota now is being heard from. Of course, they`re
going through it alphabetically. It`s going to take awhile.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One vote -- one vote for Senator Rick Santorum
and six votes for Governor Romney.

MATTHEWS: That`s of course Congresswoman Michele Bachmann there on
the right.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, six, Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mississippi, 40 votes.

MATTHEWS: OK.

We`re joined right now as we get -- we`re going to follow this as the
numbers go through and you will be able to see what`s happening here. Oh,
here`s Thad Cochran now from Mississippi.

We`re -- we have got Marsha Blackburn here and Michelle Goldberg.

Congresswoman Blackburn, are you comfortable with this platform that`s
just going to be approved tonight on -- let`s talk -- we will start with
reproductive rights, abortion rights, giving the unborn the rights of the
14th Amendment to life, liberty and property. Are you confident that
that`s something the American people will be happy with?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Chris, I am.

We have the Hyde language. Our provisions are what they have been.
We are the party of life. And we send the issue back to the states. It`s
federalism. And in my remarks I made, when we approved our platform, I
talked about our renewed commitment to federalism.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but about the -- just quickly, the 14th Amendment, the
rights to life, I mean, how can you have any abortions without risking
criminal action if you -- if you say that an unborn child is an actual
person under the 14th Amendment?

BLACKBURN: Well, what we have done is to use the language that we
have had in our platform over many years.

And then we send the issue back to the states. And when there are
exceptions, the states make -- you know, that`s a state issue.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not in your platform.

Let me go to Michelle Goldberg.

It seems like the language is really radical here, more than just pro-
life no.

BLACKBURN: No, it isn`t. It`s not.

MATTHEWS: In principle --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: It is -- they are on --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m reading it. Do you want me to read to it you?

BLACKBURN: Sure. No, I --

MATTHEWS: "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and
endorse and endorse -- "

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: I`m capable of reading --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: What we did was to remain silent on any exceptions.

MATTHEWS: But you say also in the language, in addition to a life
amendment to the Constitution, you say, "We endorse legislation to make
clear that the 14th Amendment`s protections of life, liberty and property
apply to unborn children."

You go beyond a life amendment. Congresswoman, why did you go beyond?

BLACKBURN: I`m sorry, I can`t -- oh, I`m sorry. I`m sorry, Chris.
I`m not able to hear you.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Michelle.

Well, let`s go back to Michelle on this. What do you make of this?
Because this situation is created where a woman, if she has an abortion,
could under common law be guilty of murder if a person has the right to
life under the 14th Amendment.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Right.

MATTHEWS: How do they reconcile that with these exceptions they talk
about for rape and incest?

GOLDBERG: Well, they don`t talk about the exceptions. Romney talks
about the exceptions.

But the party has been very clear That those exceptions --

BLACKBURN: I can hear you.

GOLDBERG: -- do not appear in a platform.

And I think some people who have defended have said, well, this is the
RNC`s platform, and not Romney`s platform. And so there`s a big disconnect
between what Romney espouses and what his party espouses. But again the
platform -- and they do this every -- this platform has been actually
consistent over several cycles. They often call for these human life
amendments.

It`s only because of Todd Akin that people are now paying attention to
the extremism of the GOP on abortion.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congresswoman. We have got a new poll from
Gallup. It maybe conforms to your thinking that there should be exceptions
for rape and incest even; 67 percent of your party in the Gallup poll,
which is a respected poll, say they`d like to see an exception for those
two situations.

And the platform does not make an exception.

BLACKBURN: The platform is silent on exceptions.

And I`m one of those members of Congress that supports having those
and allowing those exceptions. We send it pack to the states, Chris. And
bear in mind that the platform is a visionary document. It is not a
reactionary document.

MATTHEWS: How do you, by the way, decide on whether a woman was a
victim of rape in the time that you have to decide whether she can have an
abortion?

Most criminal trials for something as serious as -- as rape would take
a lot more than nine months, or certainly more than five or six months.
Why would -- how would you know to allow a woman to have an abortion based
on the law?

BLACKBURN: Chris, what we do, there -- again, there are many of us
that are for exceptions that are in the pro-life community.

Our language has been consistent. We send the issue back to the
states. And I think that what we`re seeing is that the Democrats keep
trying --

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

BLACKBURN: -- to divert the issue.

MATTHEWS: OK. I thank you so much. And it`s always great to have
you on, Congresswoman Blackburn and Michelle.

Let me get back to the roll call. It is getting pretty historic here.
Let`s watch the count now it goes on to 1,140, the requisite number of
delegates.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Hampshire, home of Wolfeboro, the next summer
White House for the United States of America --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- New Hampshire casts nine votes for our
adopted favorite son, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and three for
Representative Ron Paul.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Sununu has been something of an attack dog
lately on the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Hampshire, nine, Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Jersey, 50 votes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, the Garden State, the proud home
of tonight`s keynote address given by Governor Chris Christie --

(CHEERS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- proudly casts all 50 of its votes for the next
president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney.

(CHEERS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Jersey, 50, Romney.

(CHEERS)

MATTHEWS: Over the top, you see that there on the podium, he`s got
the 1,144 he needs, he is the nominee. Certainly no suspense but now it`s
official. There`s going to be a big demonstration like the old days. Said
placards wave now. They`re going to let us know how excited they are about
this nominee.

I think that`s a big part of this convention, to create excitement
about the man himself. As they said, Ann Romney, the wife of the
candidate`s, going to come on and create some warmth, I believe, if not
perhaps some cuddliness toward this candidate who seems remote and
businesslike I might say.

Look at the signs, Mitt seems to be the sign. I never saw that
before. It`s not Romney. it`s Mitt. It`s more personal, almost like
Hillary in the last election. Mitt.

These are not handmade signs, this is the Republican convention.
These are organized people here. These signs were distributed, not brought
in from home. Nothing wrong with that.

Let`s see what`s coming up now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Mexico, 23 votes.

MATTHEWS: OK, we`re going to go through the procedure here now of
people that all the states get to speak. We`re going to come back now in a
moment. We`re going to talk about -- we`re going to have another governor
come in, the former Florida governor. And he`s going to -- Governor
Charlie Chris is coming in here. He`s endorsed Romney. The Republican
governor of this state has endorsed the Democratic president -- actually,
Barack Obama.

This is going to be to get, to get him up on the stage. If he`s here
now, Governor Christie, can you get up on the stage? Let`s get him up
here. We`re going to watch him come up here. Where do I see Governor
Christie?

Governor Charlie Crist is going to come up on the stage. If he can
move fast, he`ll be here fast.

There he is. Charlie Crist. Come on, Governor.

(INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: We`ve got a little surprise here for us. It`s Charlie
Crist who is governor here, a very popular governor, got involved in a very
difficult race for the Senate. Here he is. I see you brought a good book
along with you, my Jack Kennedy book.

Let me ask about your position on the presidential race. You`re an
independent, I believe, still.

You wrote this in an op-ed piece the other day, "An element of their
party, the Republican Party, has pitched so far to the extreme right on
issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they prove
incapable of governing for the people."

CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: It`s a great concern. You
know, I`ve seen the party drift to the right so significantly that it`s at
a point now sort of the inverse of Ronald Reagan where I didn`t leave the
Republican Party, the party left me. I think that`s true for a lot of
people.

And why I`ve decided to support the president is because how helpful
he`s been to all people. When I was a Republican governor, for example, he
obviously, a Democratic president, but on issue after issue after issue,
President Obama was very helpful to us in education, in the environment,
with the handling of the BP oil spill. So many other issues.

He tried to give us a bullet train, unfortunately that didn`t work
out. But he`s just been a great president and worked hard for the people.

MATTHEWS: You want a fast-moving trait down here.

CRIST: That`s correct.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you for Jeb Bush. I know you can`t speak for
Jeb, but a lot of us like Jeb because he`s very good on issues like
education, he`s focused on where he is, he`s not a big talker. He seems to
be somewhat in the direction you`re in, a discomfort with the way the
party`s going.

CRIST: To a degree I would agree with you are. I think he said
Ronald Reagan couldn`t get the nomination in today`s Republican Party and
that we have to have a more sensitive ear, a better tone about the message
that Republicans are trying to put across. And I think Governor Bush is
right.

MATTHEWS: Why are they giving -- you`re an attorney. Why are they
giving Fourteenth Amendment rights of basic personhood to the unborn? Why
don`t they give it to women?

CRIST: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: What is going on with this party? I understand pro-life
principles, of course. I share them.

CRIST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What about this idea? Just reacting, rejecting the right
of the woman right across the board to make a decision? This gun craziness
of theirs, unlimited ammo belts, unlimited magazines and drums of bullets
you can carry around for massive shooting sprees. Why is that important to
any reasonable hunter or sportsman?

CRIST: I don`t know why. I don`t think that it probably is. I
mean, a lot of us support the second amendment, I do too. But you have to
be reasonable about these things. And apply common sense to make sure when
you carry out legislation that is like that, that it`s not applied in a way
that can be dangerous to people or invasive of others` rights in the
process of carrying them out.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know why anybody needs a concealed weapon --
concealed carry right, go from state to state across the Union. That`s
like a federal law they want. They want good faith in credit like
marriage. You can carry it wherever you go.

Why have state permits and use them anywhere? They`ll get one in
Nevada, move around the country.

CRIST: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: What happened to your party? When did it start to split
right?

CRIST: I started to see a couple of years ago. That`s when I left
the party was in 2010. And when I started to see it, I wasn`t a place I
was comfortable anymore. There was a great line I heard yesterday. It
said, obviously today formally Mitt Romney will receive the nomination of
the party. Will Mitt Romney lead the party or will the party lead him?

MATTHEWS: Do you think he can make these deals with Grover Norquist
about no revenue increases, can make deals with the hawks on foreign
policy, make deals with the religious right, make deal with the Tea Party,
and then walk away from those deals come January 20th? Once he`s in
office, can he be his own man and forget all those deals?

CRIST: I don`t know, I can`t speak for the man. What I do hope is
President Obama`s the guy that`s there and then that won`t be an issue.

MATTHEWS: Give me some hope about Obama in the second term. How do
you see him progressing -- I know it`s the Republican week but give me a
moment on him. Where do you see him progressing from here to the end of
his second term?

CRIST: Well, what I`ve seen firsthand, up close and personal, how
he`s treated issue after issue in Florida. I mentioned a few of them
earlier. Race to the top through the Department of Education, we were very
successful. I was a Republican governor, he obviously a Democratic
president, but reached across the aisle and truly tried to help people
instead of being concerned about partisanship.

I think he will continue to comport himself that way. That`s why I`m
proud to stand with him.

MATTHEWS: Why do you live in a state where everybody sweats all the
time?

CRIST: I don`t know, it`s hot here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about weather down here. You`ve dealt
through these hurricane seasons before. And some governors have made their
names. Perhaps you. Certainly Jeb made his name during a hurricane, and
Haley Barbour in Mississippi. Some guys do well in these things. People
like Ray Nagin in New Orleans didn`t do well.

What`s the trick as an executive to handle a hurricane? What do you
have to do, right?

CRIST: Work with people, be on the ground, be on-site, make sure
you`re plugged in with local leaders in counties and cities throughout your
state wherever this might happen. I think that`s probably what Governor
Jindal was doing right now and that`s very important for him to be doing
so.

We would stay in touch with local representatives, also our federal
partners. You know, whenever one of these storms came in, it`s important
to have all hands on deck, have a real cooperative attitude, do what`s
right to protect your people.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask about the Florida race for presidency right
now. This state is in play. This state has a lot of seniors, they`re
nervous about Medicare, they don`t like it being changed, many of them.

Where`s your feeling on that? We have a lot of minorities, not just
Cuban-Americans but other Hispanics. How is that going to work come
November?

CRIST: I think it`s going to work well. Probably one of the most
diverse states in the country. I think being open to diversity is very
important. I think that`s probably why you see so many Hispanics speaking
tonight at the Republican convention.

It`s continuing to grow demographic, that we`re going to see in
Florida and across the country.

MATTHEWS: Let`s ask about that -- is this -- you know, the Florida
thing is interesting. Because is it an old state or a young state?

CRIST: It`s both. I mean, it`s very diverse. It really is both. I
mean, we have probably one of the most significant senior population in
this the country. That`s why I think the Medicare issue is going to be so
important.

MATTHEWS: Let me add something more important -- there`s a lot of
screwing around by the Republican Party, your former party. In
Pennsylvania, where I grew up, they`re playing games you have to have a
photo ID card issued by the government. People never had one in their
lives, they`ve got to get down to South Carolina, where some of them came
from, African Americans. Up here, you`ve got to extend voting hours in
days when you were governor.

What`s going on here -- they`re purging the voting rolls, they`re
looking for people with problems. And sometimes killing the voting rights
of people with no problems.

CRIST: It`s true. It`s going in the opposite direction. I really
don`t understand why.

I mean, this is such a precious, sacred right -- the right to vote,
the right to determine our leaders in a free and open society. You`re
right. When I was governor we expanded the early voting days and the early
voting hours so that people could exercise that right and do so in a way
that was convenient for them to be able to cast their ballot. It should be
that way.

MATTHEWS: Hold on, Governor Charlie Crist in Florida, is going to
stick with us here in Tampa, Florida. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back to HARDBALL with former Governor Charlie
Crist, who`s now no longer Republican.

He thinks the party and has said so that Republican Party is going
too far in the right wing direction. He thinks the platform of the party
approved tonight or about to be approved is an example of that. You`re
going to speak next week in Charlotte at the Democratic convention. Give
as you tease.

CRIST: Well, I`m going to talk about the president. And I`m going
talk about the fact that I think he`s been a great leader, that he has
really led us in a very difficult time, obviously. He inherited a real
mess. And the fact that he`s worked across the aisle -- I mean, I talked
about it earlier, that he helped news Florida when I was a Republican. And
didn`t really care about, you know, the partisanship of it at all, and was
very nonpartisan and was a gentleman.

One of the things that I really appreciate about him is the demeanor
and the way in which he leads. He leads with --

MATTHEWS: But this governor you have here now is not at all like
that.

CRIST: No, he`s very different from President Obama.

MATTHEWS: This guy, Rick Scott, is -- kind of an unpleasant sort of
person, don`t you think?

CRIST: Everybody has their own style. Everybody has their own
style.

MATTHEWS: Do you think you might rung against him next time?

CRIST: I don`t. I don`t think so. I`m --

MATTHEWS: Do you want him to run? Do you want Charlie to run?

CRIST: I`m enjoying the private sector very much.

MATTHEWS: I see you`re keeping your powder dry.

Let me ask you about this whole staff situation of yours. For some
reason, a lot of Charlie Crist people are going to work for Mitt Romney.
What was that parting of the ways about? People like Andrea Saul and Stu
Stevens and all?

CRIST: They are talented people. There`s no question about it.

MATTHEWS: You are a diplomat.

CRIST: I am. Well, I`m honest. They are talented. And Governor
Romney is fortunate to have them with him. They were very hardworking for
me. And when I went independent, they decided to make a move.

MATTHEWS: We wish you well from HARDBALL.

CRIST: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, we`ll see you in Charlotte. Anyway, Charlie
Crist, who has a future in politics.

When we return, let me finish to what to watch for at the convention.
I`m going to use some (INAUDIBLE) what to listen for and what you probably
not going to hear no matter hard you listen, how hard you listen.

You`re watching HARDBALL, place for politics, live form Tampa, Tampa,
and Tampa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight and what we`ll watch for tonight at
the Republican convention opener.

One, be on the alert for the tribal messages, the war drums of racial
division. Listen to the word welfare. That`s a good one.

Listen to the charge that you are working hard but someone else is
getting a free ride, courtesy of President Obama.

If that doesn`t get you going, wait for warnings that your Medicare
benefits are being siphoned off to pay for Obama`s health care recipients.
Another case where the good middle class family is getting shorted so that
the poor minorities get something for nothing.

Then try and hear one person tonight from the platform even mention
the radical stuff that tucked into the Republican Party platform important
2012. Listen for the Fourteenth Amendment rights being pushed for the
unborn, the absolute hard line against marriage equality, the wild demand
for big ammo magazines, and also for the right to carry concealed weapons
across state borders and all sorts of concessions to the NRA.

You`ll hear none of this because, ladies and gentlemen, that stuff
isn`t for you. It is for the hard-nosed demanding interest groups that now
control the Republican Party. But pay no attention to those men behind the
curtain. They are only the ruling people, the people pulling the strings
of the Republican Party. Pay attention instead to the relentless dog
whistle to the white voters, a whistle that treats black people with
historic disdain and treats white people like well-trained canines.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. I`ll be back
in one hour with Rachel Maddow and the rest of my MSNBC colleagues for full
coverage of the Republican convention.

"POLITICS NATION" with Reverend 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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