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updated 9/4/2012 12:13:37 PM ET 2012-09-04T16:13:37

HARDBALL
September 3, 2012

Guests: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Anthony Foxx, Antonio Villaraigosa, Barney Frank, Bev Perdue, Barbara Lee

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Romney fails to bounce, Democrats
celebrate.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

(INAUDIBLE) I`m Chris Matthews in Charlotte, site of the Democratic
National Convention.

"Let Me Start" with something you have to experience to believe, the
difference between Republicans and Democrats when they get together.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Last week in Tampa, it had the feel of a business
convention. Today in Charlotte, it was like a Labor Day picnic.

One reason for the upbeat mood, the much ballyhooed spike in the
polls, the so-called bounce that Mitt Romney was supposed to get from last
week`s convention, didn`t happen.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Could it be that a convention based on grim resolution
lacked joy? Was it the lack of good will to humanity that kept the
nomination from soaring? Could it be that wood doesn`t bounce?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: I was in my early teens when I noticed the difference
between these two parties. At the Democrats` convention in 1960, there was
always someone yelling, Will the delegates please clear the aisles? And no
one ever did. At the Republican convention, I heard someone tell the
people to take your seats, and they did.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I guess Republicans are more disciplined, or depending on
your point of view, more docile.

But Democrats are also more exuberant, more excited. And right now --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Who thought the Republican convention would be
recorded as such a clinker? For whatever reason, delegates here in
Charlotte act like they`re at a fair. Republicans acted in Tampa as
determined, tight, excited when someone said something nasty about the
other side.

Even the Republican keynote speaker, Chris Christie, called the
audience at the convention flat. First time I`ve ever heard that. Anyway,
it was Jackie Kennedy, who grew up a Republican, who said it was just more
fun being a Democrat, and I can report --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: -- from glorious Charlotte on this Labor Day, that it`s
still true.

Chuck Todd is NBC`s political director and chief White House
correspondent. And Howard the great Fineman is --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: -- Huffington Post editorial director and an MSNBC
analyst.

Ladies and gentlemen in the crowd, here are the numbers. Gallup
tracking poll daily, out today, shows the president holding steady with a
1-point lead over Mitt Romney, 47to 46 --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: -- a margin unchanged in the past days. (INAUDIBLE)
survey of national adults showed a mixed reaction to the Republican
convention -- 40 percent said they`d heard or read about it --

(BOOS)

MATTHEWS: -- what they heard about it made them more likely to vote
for Romney, versus 38 percent who said it made them less likely. Not
exactly a resounding bounce -- Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: I feel like
we`re at college game day. This is great!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) put on the hat. We`re going to put on the hat.
Will it be the donkey or the elephant? We got to put on the hat --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What did you feel like at the Republican convention, Chuck
Todd?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

TODD: We said before these conventions, there wouldn`t be bounces.
And guess what? So far, no bounces. Why is there no bounces? Five
hundred million dollars was spent before the conventions even started.
This is a locked-in electorate. It was locked in before the conventions.
It`s locked in after.

Mitt Romney was not trying to hold a convention to fire up the base.
He was trying to hold a convention to make suburban women like him.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: That`s not going to be --

MATTHEWS: Did it work?

TODD: You know what? We`re going to find out. I would say the only
way to determine a bounce on Romney is his likability number in two weeks.
That`s the number I`m curious about. That`s when we`ll know whether he got
a bounce (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: OK. Howard Fineman.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, I survived Tampa and am now glad (ph) to be here in Charlotte.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

FINEMAN: Can`t resist. That convention was like dropping a bowling
ball in a sandbox.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: OK. And I --

MATTHEWS: Well, why was it --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I can say that. I can say that. If they were trying to
reach middle America with that convention, I don`t think they did it. I
think the speeches weren`t that good. I think the tone was kind of mean.
And I think, as Chuck says, the country`s locked in. It was more of a
negative message than a positive message overall.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let`s take a look at what the president had to say
about it. Campaigning this weekend, he took some time to make fun of the
Republican convention and Republican policies. Let`s watch the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a rerun. It
could have been on Nick at Night (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: We`ve seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a
black-and-white TV with some rabbit ears. Those ideas don`t work. They
didn`t work then. They won`t work now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, let`s talk about this better off/worse off thing
because I think the Republicans caught the Democrats flat-footed the last
couple days, and the media, too, doing our job. How come the Democrats
can`t make a simple point? In 2009, we had a stock market that was going
through the ground. It was 6,500. People were losing wealth, 401s were
disappearing. People were scared to death we were facing a Great
Depression, a stock crash that would go to the bottom. We had an
unemployment rate spiking past 10 percent.

Today, we`re back from the abyss. We didn`t go over the cliff. We
got an unemployment rate coming down to 8. We`ve got a stock market up to
13,000. Why aren`t the Democrats a little proud of what they`ve done?

TODD: I have no idea why they got caught so flat-footed Sunday. I
mean, I talked to --

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE)

TODD: I talked to a couple -- well, they were better in how they
answered the question. They answered the question the way you just
answered it today. And the irony is when the president announced his
reelection -- remember, he went to -- he went to Columbus, Ohio, and
Richmond. And he himself said, Don`t -- it`s not about -- the question
isn`t, Are you better off? It`s, Are you going to be better off?

So they knew this was an issue. They knew they had to change the
terms of the debate. And they were shocked when they were asked the
question on Sunday --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: They messed up. They then had an emergency meeting Sunday
night.

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) right?

FINEMAN: Yes. Why didn`t they have the meeting beforehand? And my
explanation is, to too great an extent, I think, the Obama campaign has
focused on Romney and not enough on dealing with this inevitable question
that --

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) them!

FINEMAN: -- to focus on them. If you don`t brag about --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: If you don`t brag about whatever good it is you have done,
nobody else is going to do it for you.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) if you don`t toot your own horn, who`s going to
toot it?

Let`s take a look. Yesterday on the Sunday show circuit, Democrats
seemed to have trouble answering the question, as we said, Are voters
better off than they were four years ago? Let`s watch them in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID PLOUFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think everybody
understands we were this close to a Great Depression. Because of the
leadership of this president, we -- we staved that off. We`re beginning to
recover.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Are we where we need to
be? No, but --

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Can you honestly say that
people are better off today than they were four years ago?

GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: No, but that`s not the question
of this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, by this morning, the Obama campaign clearly had
gotten its act together somewhat. Here was Stephanie Cutter and Vice
President Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we better off today than we were four years
ago when President Obama was elected?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Absolutely.

By any measure, the country has moved forward over the last four
years.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, let me make
something clear and say it to the press. America is better off today than
they left us when they left.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: You want to know whether we`re better off? I got a little
bumper sticker for you. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is
alive!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Chuck, let`s talk about this. You know when
you have a World Series in baseball and you win the games -- you win some
games away, and then you`re going home. It does seem almost like the
Democrats have won a couple games away and they`re coming home here, you
know? No wonder they feel better.

TODD: Well, they feel better because what did Romney have to do at
his convention? The fact that he had to spend his convention fixing his
own personal issue meant what? Meant their June and July campaign worked.
It meant that Romney didn`t --

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: That`s right -- that Romney couldn`t run a convention that was
more proactive. He had to do repair work. I remember Mike Murphy three
months ago saying he thought both conventions -- that both guys would be in
such bad shape that both of them would need to use their conventions to
rehabilitate their image. That`s not the case.

FINEMAN: Yes, I don`t think (INAUDIBLE).

TODD: One guy had to do it. I think the president --

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a --

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: I think the president is in a position where he gets to at
least try to make the affirmative case, Hey, don`t lose faith in me yet.

FINEMAN: The Republican convention ended up, as Chuck said, thinking
about who is Mitt Romney. Whether they answered that well enough is an
open question.

This convention is about answering -- answering that, "Are you better
off?" question and having a good answer for it. And Joe Biden, the old pro
that he is, did a very good job of making the key point. Individuals are
suffering, obviously. But the country as a whole, they argue -- Democrats
argue -- is better off and certainly better off than it would have been
otherwise.

TODD: By the way, how about (INAUDIBLE) Hey, I want the press to hear
this? You know, they knew they had a bad press day.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: And I think sometimes, Chris, if you win a couple of away
games -- to pursue your analogy --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: When you`re coming home, you`re on the trip home, you`re not
paying close attention. I mean, they knew they were coming here. I think
they --

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me get a little tough here.

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me that when a candidate has to spend a whole
week of a convention to establish the fact that he`s one of the species
that`s voting, that he`s a human being -- I mean, it`s an amazing low bar
when you say, I`m going to the convention to prove I`m a person with a
ticking heart and that I have some compassion, I have some humanity and
some personality. That`s a low bar.

FINEMAN: That`s all they did.

TODD: But don`t forget, they feel like -- this is what Republicans
believe. They have the opposite problem that Reagan had, that Reagan had
all likability in the world, but he had to prove that he was ready to do
the job.

They think, on the metrics, the country believes Romney`s capable of
the job. But the question is whether he shares middle class values. And
that`s what the whole point of that convention --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is there any way of getting (INAUDIBLE)

TODD: That`s what I`m saying. I don`t -- I want to see his favorable
rating in a week.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think two weeks is necessary to assess that?

TODD: I think you have to let the convention settle in. This is --
but by the way, one thing we haven`t talked about -- the ratings for last
week`s convention were -- the collective ratings were not good.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: -- curious to see -- no, no, no, no, but I`m talking about
the collective audience.

MATTHEWS: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: The Romney camp, whom I talked to just a little while ago,
they defend the lack of bounce by way of saying that Obama actually didn`t
have all that great a bounce out of his convention. And as Chuck said, the
country`s very divided.

I think they`re disappointed. I think they needed more than they got,
and I frankly don`t think they`re going to get any more in the next several
days. I just think --

MATTHEWS: I like your analysis, Chuck, that a lot of this is already
decided. We have a very -- I mean, we keep seeing poll numbers, 47-47.
That means 6 undecided. True or not, it`s the way people talk.

FINEMAN: The only -- the only --

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look --

FINEMAN: -- thing that`s going to change that is the debate.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at this big ad now. Obama campaign`s out
with a brand-new TV ad today in seven swing states going after Romney.
Let`s watch this new ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The middle class is carrying a heavy load in
America, but Mitt Romney doesn`t see it. Under the Romney plan, a middle
class family will pay an average of up to $2,000 more a year in taxes, but
at the same time, giving multi-millionaires like himself a $250,000 tax
cut. So Romney hits the middle class harder and gives millionaires an even
bigger break. Is that the way forward for America?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Oh, God! Look at that picture of Romney, that picture of
him chortling there because the rich are getting a better deal. Will it
work? Very populist ad.

FINEMAN: I think it`s the right way to go because voters in the
middle, that 6 or 7 percent that you`re talking about, want to hear some
specifics. I disagree that it`s all about emotion with him.

TODD: Yes.

FINEMAN: I think they want to hear something specific. OK, Mitt
Romney, you`re a human, fine. Tell me your plan. Tell me what it is. And
I think this ad goes at the lack of specificity that there also was at that
Republican convention.

MATTHEWS: That`s been a big knock on Romney.

FINEMAN: The numbers -- there were no numbers.

TODD: Right.

FINEMAN: This goes after that. I think it`s a smart ad for them to
do on the attack while they remember that they got to talk more about
themselves.

TODD: (INAUDIBLE) simply go to economic values.

FINEMAN: Right.

TODD: OK?

FINEMAN: Exactly.

TODD: This is still a -- all elections are values elections. Romney
wins on the metrics on the economy, loses on economic values.

FINEMAN: You need numbers to express the values.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. My very smart thought is what I didn`t like
about the Romney speech was -- talk about all these wars he wants to fight,
and not one second of thought or emotion about the guys and the women over
there fighting right now. It was all about the concept of war, not the
reality.

TODD: You weren`t alone. Bill Kristol wasn`t happy about (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: I know, he wasn`t. He was right on that one. Anyway,
thank you, Chuck Todd, as always. Thank you, Howard Fineman.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Coming up: (INAUDIBLE) vote. The Reverend Jesse Jackson says
Republicans have a three-pronged strategy for November -- voter
suppression, voter frustration and agitation of the white working class.
The Reverend Jackson joins us now.

Also, marriage equality. The Democrats plan to support gay marriage
in their platform. Count on Republicans to use that as a wedge issue to
peel off more conservative Democrats, especially in a state like North
Carolina.

And the Democrats will not consider the success of the convention if
they don`t come out of it by expanding the gender gap. Win women by
enough, and President Obama can jog across the finish line.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Finally, "Let Me Finish" with this pincer (ph) strategy
being employed by the Republicans -- pincer strategy.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New poll numbers from the two convention states, which also
happen to be key battleground states. Let`s go to the HARDBALL
"Scoreboard."

Starting in Florida, where a new PPP poll has President Obama up a
point. It`s now Obama 48, Romney 47. Keep in mind PPP is an automatic
poll that sometimes leans Democratic.

Here in North Carolina, a new "Charlotte Observer"/Elon University
poll has Romney up by 4, just 47 to 43. That`s lower than he was.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. We saw two big wins for Democrats last week
with those restrictive voter ID laws sweeping the country. In Ohio, a
federal judge overturned the Republican-imposed ban on early in-person
voting the weekend before the election, a method used disproportionately by
minority voters.

And in Texas, a federal court blocked the photo ID law, ruling it
would impose, quote, "strict, unforgiving burdens on poor minority voters."
So it`s no wonder why Republicans are so fired up about voter ID laws.

Check out the reaction South Carolina governor Nikki Haley got when
she brought it up at her convention last week in Tampa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We said in South Carolina that
if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a
picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show picture
ID to protect the one of the most valuable --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HALEY: -- most central (ph) (INAUDIBLE) rights (INAUDIBLE) in
America, the right to vote!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Imagine getting roused up about restricting voting.
Anyway, that`s what you saw there. According to Reuters, voters in South
Carolina, Nikki Haley`s home state, lacking the proper ID are 20 percent
more likely to be black, and just over one third of registered minority
voters do not have a driver`s license, a perfect hunting (ph) ground for
those who want to stop people from voting.

Anyway, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a great man, the president of the
Rainbow/Push Coalition, joins us.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: You and I were -- you were calling me up last week, you
were so angry and concerned as a leader, a Civil Rights leader, about this
new ploy to keep people from voting, sir.

REV, JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: The irony of Nikki Haley
taking the (INAUDIBLE) she got the right to vote because of the Voting
Rights Act herself. We got the right to vote in `65, blacks to vote, and
then 18 years to vote in 1970. And then students could then vote on
campus, and then we were able to get bilingual voting. She is a product of
the Voting Rights Act.

Their plan is negation, purging, voter suppression and confusing
people and inciting their base to vote. It is a very cynical ploy to win
the election.

MATTHEWS: But it seemed like they`re trying to deny or really make it
highly -- for example, if you come from the South, like you did, and move
north and you live in north Philadelphia, where I`m familiar with, that
means you`ve got to go back to somewhere in South Carolina to get your
birth certificate. You`ve got to figure out how to get it with an ID card.
It seems so difficult to do this.

JACKSON: The Jefferson Davis Democrats, who are now Republicans, have
never stopped trying to deny the right to vote. And the tragedy of it is
they feel they can win by a narrow margin.
In the year 2000, the winner lost and the loser won.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

JACKSON: In 2004, you had dry machines and wet people.

So, the idea is talking about you have a million and one voters purged
in Ohio, a million in Pennsylvania and 500,000. They may lose the debate
and win the election based upon this. We must not allow the vote -- the
race to be stolen.

MATTHEWS: As a civil rights leader, when you hear code language --
I`m a white person, I hear it. I think people know what it sounds like.

You talk about welfare queens, like Reagan did. You talk about a food
stamp president, like Newt Gingrich did with the campaign primaries. You
talk about welfare without work. I hear it. Do most people hear it?

JACKSON: Absolutely. We know what it is.

For example, welfare came in when most poor white people were in food
lines and could not get a job. It`s based upon need. Most poor people are
not black or brown. They`re white. They`re female and they`re --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, why do politicians wave that bloody shirt? Why do
they do that?

JACKSON: Well, because it incites fear.

But we`re living in a new South today. North Carolina and South
Carolina, they have an I-85. You have the Carolina Panthers and the
Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Falcons. All this new South comes
because the civil rights movement won. Those door blockers lost and the
dream builders won. We can`t let them steal our dreams.

MATTHEWS: Door blockers lose.

JACKSON: Well, they stood in front of doors and locked doors. They
used ax handles. But, some, the discipline nonviolent marches prevailed.
The martyrs and the marchers are due all the credit.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Reverend Jesse Jackson.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Mayor, Your Honor, Anthony Foxx, Mayor Anthony Foxx, Mayor
Anthony Foxx.

ANTHONY FOXX (D), MAYOR OF CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, sir.
Welcome to Charlotte, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You`re mayor of this city.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: OK. You want to say a word of welcome? And then we will
get back to some of this other stuff.

FOXX: I want to welcome you, Chris, and MSNBC to Charlotte.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FOXX: We`re glad to have you. We`re going to have a great week.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: We have never had a welcome like this ever. This is better
than New York even.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, let me ask you about the voter turnout. Are you
concerned? This state is really one of the closest. We just saw the
numbers there, within the margin of error.

FOXX: Yes. It`s going to be close in North Carolina. And the
efforts that the Republican legislature in North Carolina have taken to try
to take the vote away through voter I.D. laws, through shortening the early
voting periods, they haven`t worked in North Carolina. We`re going to get
the phone calls, the door knocks, and we`re going to get out and vote.
North Carolina is going to go for the president.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me be a little positive and give you a
chance. The Reverend Jackson has been through every hell of the civil
rights fight from day one with Martin Luther King. He`s been there all
through it.

He`s got some trace of optimism now about the new South. Is there
optimism in this part of the country?

FOXX: There`s no question there is optimism in this part of the
country.

I wouldn`t be mayor without the efforts of people like Reverend Jesse
Jackson, who work to get our voting rights and they allow people to get out
and exercise their right to vote. But at this point in the new South, we
are working to build a new economy. We`re trying to diversify our economy,
to involve more people, more diverse people in growing our economy.

This is the first convention that will have a stated diversity goal so
that we`re expanding, not only the vote, but we`re also expanding the
ability of people to participate in the economy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: You know --

JACKSON: The irony is, many of these white workers who work as
automotive workers, that`s because the civil rights movement, we brought
the industry south.

Those who are now able to get health care, the troops are home from
Iraq. Our movement has made the new South possible and prosperous for all.

MATTHEWS: You know that -- remember Harvey Gantt, who was mayor of
this city, African-American. Harvey Gantt ran statewide against Jesse, the
other Jesse.

FOXX: Yes, he did.

MATTHEWS: And they had an ad, a TV ad of people -- a guy with white
hands ripping up a pink slip, saying you needed that job.

FOXX: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Does that crap still go on?

FOXX: Well, here`s the thing.

Harvey Gantt in 1990 paved the way for Barack Obama in 2008 and paved
the way for Anthony Foxx in 2009.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FOXX: Sometimes, we have to have a pioneer who helps people
understand that we are not running these races to represent just one part
of the society. We`re running these races because we want to be judged by
the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FOXX: And that`s what we have been able to do.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON: The interesting thing is that in this -- these new
automotive jobs, Boeing and Airbus, Honda, come become of the success of
the civil rights movement.

These jobs would have gone north. Once the barriers came down and
bridge were built, whites have benefited from the civil rights struggle.
It hurts me to see poor people who are white fight against food stamps,
when they need them, or fight against Medicare and against Medicaid.

And when Carolina plays a big football game, we accept the winner,
Chris, because the playing field is even. All we want is an even playing
field for the rules and clear goals.

MATTHEWS: You know what`s changed in Democratic Convention politics?

FOXX: What is that?

MATTHEWS: It used to be the guy who gave the best speech lost. Teddy
Kennedy in 1980, Mario Cuomo, and Jesse Jackson in 1984 and Jesse Jackson
in 1998.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: This time, starting in 2008, the guy who gives the best
speech gets to be the nominee again this year.

Thank you, sir. Thank you, Reverend Jackson.

FOXX: He has the most content, too, has no empty chairs.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. No empty chairs.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, Your Honor, Anthony Foxx,
the mayor of Charlotte, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: The Democratic Convention kicks off tomorrow. We will be
back from Charlotte in a minute.

But, tonight, 10:00 Eastern time, join me for the premiere of the
MSNBC documentary, "Barack Obama: Making History." A lot of people worked
very hard on this document, and I really think you`re going to love this
10:00 show tonight, 10:00 Eastern, "Barack Obama: Making History."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four
more years! Four more years! Four more years!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: We`re back here in this crazy weather, just like in Tampa,
but it`s nicer here.

You ladies have been waiting in line here. I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not raining.

MATTHEWS: It`s not raining much?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not raining. We support Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thanks.

Sir, what are you doing in the rain here with me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a New Jersey delegate from South Jersey and
I`m here to support President Obama.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, I know what you`re all for.

Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women for Obama.

MATTHEWS: Women for Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going to run for office?

MATTHEWS: Well, I will run for office --

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Are you old enough to vote? Are you old enough to vote?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. But our friends are.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m from California. Glad to be here.

MATTHEWS: OK. This is wild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m from Charlotte.

MATTHEWS: Charlotte.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlotte.

MATTHEWS: Charlotte.

Thanks for the welcome here. Thank you.

What are you going to vote for this election? You`re voting --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I`m voting for Obama.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Do we have any Republicans here?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What do you think? You`re standing in the rain, lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s cold here and it`s -- look at this. We got the camera
getting wet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here volunteering.

MATTHEWS: You`re volunteering. Good. Thank you.

And, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re from North Carolina.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four more years. We`re excited. We`re pumped up.

MATTHEWS: OK. Good.

We`re going to come right back. We have got Mayor Villaraigosa, who`s
head of the whole convention, and we got Barney Frank. This is going to be
hot.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
what`s happening.

President Obama has arrived in Louisiana, where he will view storm
recovery efforts. He`s expected to speak in about two hours there.
Earlier, in a visit to Toledo, Ohio, he responded to Mitt Romney`s
assertion that it was time for America to get a new coach. He equated
Romney`s tax plan to unnecessary roughness and said that that new coach
would lead to a losing season.

As for Mitt Romney, he was off the campaign trail today, spending
Labor Day in New Hampshire, where he was photographed boating -- now back
to HARDBALL.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

Well, the president made history in May when he came out in favor of
gay marriage, marriage equality, if you will. Now his party`s set to
follow suit, becoming the first major political party to officially endorse
gay marriage in its platform tomorrow.

Polls show slightly more Americans support it now than oppose it, but
in places like Virginia, Ohio and here in North Carolina, opposition is
still strong and the question is, will it hurt the president and his party
this November?

Barney Frank is a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: And Antonio Villaraigosa is the mayor of Los Angeles --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: -- and the chairman of the Democratic National
Convention.

Gentlemen, watch this. Conservative groups who are certainly trying
to drive home the point that President Obama`s out -- out of touch on this
issue -- take a look at this new ad produced by the great Gary Bauer, his
super PAC that is running it here in North Carolina. I just caught it this
morning after you, Mayor. Let`s watch this ad they`re running here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, honey. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Fine. I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What`s going on?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Well, Obama is trying to force gay marriage on
this country. That`s not the change I voted for. Marriage is between a
man and a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That`s not the change I voted for either.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: What can we do?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We can vote for someone with values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I don`t think that`s a very realistic
discussion by any heterosexual couple. I have never heard of a
conversation like that.

And I have always wondered what it does to their relationship.
Nothing, probably. But here`s the line that they`re putting out. And it`s
in the ad and it`s going to carry weight with some people. Obama is trying
to force gay marriage on this country.

You know the language that`s coming out in the platform of the
Democratic Party. Does it need this? Is it forcing gay marriage on the
country?

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Not forcing gay
marriage on the country.

What he`s speaking to is the notion that marriage ought to be a
fundamental right, that the government shouldn`t deny someone who loves
someone the right to marry. If we believe in family values, then marriage
ought to be for all families.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And how does a right get promulgated? By the Supreme
Court, by the voters, or how does it happen?

VILLARAIGOSA: It`s the regular campaign of divide and conquer, of
fear.

They will be spending a lot of money instigating and engaging in that
kind of fear, not just on this issue, on a lot of issues.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Frank, there`s a big possible fight going to
the Supreme Court on this with Boies. What do you think?

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I don`t think there`s any
likelihood of this Supreme Court saying that there`s a right to same-sex
marriage in the near future.

And, frankly, that`s not what most of the gay, lesbian and bisexual
and transgender groups are fighting for. We are trying to have the Supreme
Court that, state by state, each state has historically in America defined
marriage, and for the federal government to say, I will recognize these
marriages in Massachusetts and Iowa and New York and not those is a denial
of equal protection.

Two circuit courts, including a lot of Republican appointees and
judges, have said that. The notion that we`re going to force this, no,
nobody could force it if we wanted to. It`s being done on a state-by-state
basis. Ultimately, the Supreme Court might reach it.

But the major case -- in fact, the case that was won in San Francisco
on the California law only said that if California once granted the right
of same-sex couples to marry, they couldn`t take it away only for same-sex
marriage couples. That doesn`t even give people who are going to want to -
- the other thing we ought to say is, obviously, that`s nonsense about
forcing.

But remember where it comes from. Gary Bauer is a very odd, extreme
right-winger who ran for president last time. And I think he has more
fingers than he got votes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about the Republican platform. Let`s
take a look at Republican platform.

Basically, it says we affirm our support for a constitutional
amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We
applaud the citizens of the majority of states which have enshrined in
their Constitution the traditional concept of marriage and we support the
campaigns under way in several other states to do so.

The idea of putting a constitutional amendment out to make sure
there`s never same-sex or marriage equality, what do you make of that?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, they`re enshrining in our Constitution bigotry
and bias, discrimination.

Our Constitution should be reserved to expanding rights to more
people. That`s the America that I know and love. That`s the America that
gave me the Voting Rights Act, that gave me a Civil Rights Act, that opened
up the country to give me the opportunity to be mayor of Los Angeles and
chair of the Democratic National Committee.

MATTHEWS: Congressman?

FRANK: In fact, that constitutional amendment, George Bush put it
forward, Paul Ryan voted for it, it not only says no further same-sex
marriage. It would cancel my marriage. I have been married in
Massachusetts, after the voters and citizens and legislature of
Massachusetts allowed a decision stay in effect.

Mitt Romney tried as governor to undo it. The legislature,
democratically elected, wouldn`t allow him. This amendment would take the
marriages in seven states, marriages that have gone on for five years, and
revoke them.

And here`s the problem. All the predictions they made about the
terrible things that were going to happen from same-sex marriage haven`t
happened. They have to make things up, because all their arguments -- we
have had same-sex marriage in Massachusetts for eight years, in a number of
other states.

Tens of millions of Americans now live in areas where you can have it,
and nothing bad has happened.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I know.

FRANK: So that`s why they have to resort to this silliness.

And, by the way, as you said, in the polls, they`re the ones who are
not only I think in the minority, but in a growing minority. You talk to
people in their 20s and 30s, they understand that, if you love someone of
the opposite sex, the fact that the two women across the street love each
other has a very slim chance of affecting your life.

MATTHEWS: I remember about 20 years ago, at the HRC convention in
Philadelphia, you said to the young people there, mostly gay people, that
things were changing. Certainly are.

Anyway, Mitt Romney in line with his party`s platform when it comes
to same sex marriage. Back in May, he said he rejected both gay marriage
and civil unions.

Let`s watch Governor Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think people have
differing views on marriage and I respect people`s different views. When I
served as governor of my state, this issue arose, same-sex marriage and
civil union. I pointed out that I`m in favor of traditional marriage
between a man and a woman, and I don`t favor civil union or gay marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Some Republicans take issue with the party`s hard line
position on gay marriage. According to "Politico," that includes
billionaire Romney backer David Koch, Koch brothers. He told "Politico,"
quote, "I believe in gay marriage." And when a reporter reminded him his
candidate strongly opposes, Mr. Koch responded, "Well, I disagree with
that."

FRANK: You know, when Mitt Romney ran against Ted Kennedy, he said
he was going to be a better defender of gay rights than Ted Kennedy. Not
on marriage, but others. That`s been untrue. Mitt Romney as a businessman
brings marketing techniques to politics and he`s got a consumer angle here.
When he made policy statement, it comes with an expiration date. We know
any policy he take, it`s not good after a certain time. So, we`ll wait for
the evolution.

MATTHEWS: This is why we`re going to miss you, Mr. Frank. Nobody
else thinks like you.

Anyway, thank you, Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and U.S.
Congressman Barney Frank of the great states of Massachusetts.

Up next, President Obama enjoys a big lead over Mitt Romney among
women. But the Democrats want to run up that story and if they can push
that gender gap this week, they can they can get President Obama over the
top in November. That`s ahead.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: California Governor Jerry Brown took a little offense when
New Jersey`s Chris Christie made fun of him at a Republican breakfast last
week. Christie told the 74-year-old governor a rethread and mocked his
age, saying he, Christie, was only 14 when Brown challenged Jimmy Carter
for the nomination back in 1976.

Governor Brown fired back with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: And I hereby challenge Governor
Christie to a three-mile race, push up contest and chin up contest. And
whatever he wants to bet. I have no doubt of the outcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Neither do I. I`m betting on Jerry.

We`ll be right back. Jerry!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

President Obama has consistently had a power base among women voters
and Democrats hope that last week`s convention platform will only
strengthen that. The party adopted a plank on reproductive rights that
reads incredibly I think. Quote, "We support a human life amendment to the
Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth
Amendment`s protections apply to unborn children." In other words, a
personhood amendment.

On top of that, Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate of Missouri, who
brought the term "legitimate rape" into the national discussion, has
refused all calls to get out of the race and appears to be dug in. Even
before the convention, the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll had President
Obama leading Mitt Romney by 10 points among women.

Joining me right now is North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and
California Congresswoman Barbara Lee for the most interesting part of
California, the Bay Area.

Thank you, Congresswoman.

Let me ask you, Governor, thank you for welcoming us. We have never
had a welcoming, even in the rain, we got a great welcome.

GOV. BEV PERDUE (D), NORTH CAROLINA: All North Carolinians.

(CHEERS)

MATTHEWS: Obama down here has a plus one among women, but it`s very
close. Why is Romney doing so well among women in North Carolina?

PERDUE: Because we`re just starting to get the word out about what
Romney believes. It`s not about percentage polls right now. It`s about
the policies.

Romney`s not said a word about education. He`s against contraceptive
health care coverage. He`s against Planned Parenthood. As women in this
state begin to resonate around the issues, the policies, you`ll see those
numbers change.

MATTHEWS: Let`s back it up. A new poll by the "Charlotte Observer"
and Elon University shows that President Obama and Governor Romney
essentially tied right now among North Carolina women. But among all
likely voter, Romney leads by just four.

I find that very close.

PERDUE: It is close, but it`s early, Chris. People are just now
beginning to folk. You`ve got the country evenly divided. Then you count
all those new people we`re registering.

North Carolina, our Democrats are aggressively registering people. I
believe there`s 150,000 or more we`ve already done. We`re going to go on
those college campuses. Every young woman in America should understand
that women are at risk with this threat from the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at the Republican presidential
candidate`s wife, Ann Romney. She spoke about the issue, a number of
things. Let`s hear what she said. I find it fascinating her perspective.
I`m not knocking it, but I notice the perspective was different than you
hear from Democrats. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: It`s the moms of this nation --
single, married, widowed who really hold this country together. We`re the
mothers, the wives, we`re the grandmothers, we`re the big sisters, we`re
the little sisters and we are the daughters. You know it`s true, don`t
you? I love you women!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know what I noticed, Congresswoman? Two things, the
perspective. Women who work outside the home or which they didn`t, or
which they work less. So, it`s a particular attitude about working outside
the home as if it`s only a necessity then you`re better off not having to
do it.

The other thing, you want to stay home and have more kids. I mean,
these are values which I understand. But they seem to be somewhat
different than the one side I`ve known over the last 30, 40 years. These
women would like to have more complete lives, they would like to work
outside the home, even if they, quote, "didn`t have to" -- whatever that
means.

And they do like to have a number of children. But it`s not always
about the more the better.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Women want choice. They want to
make decisions over their lives. They want to make decisions over their
health care. They want to make decisions over where they work, when they
work.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LEE: They want to make decisions over the education of their
children. And they want to make decisions as it relates to their senior
years in terms of being able to take care of their family members.

MATTHEWS: How do you like the way she talked about you?

LEE: As a single mom and a grandmother, you know, I want my
grandchildren to have access to comprehensive sex education. I want them
to know they have those rights. My granddaughters, as even daughter and
girl in America deserve, they have the right to make health care decisions
over their bodies.

I want my mother, who was 88 years old, I want all senior citizens to
have access to Medicare as we know it. Not a voucher, not privatize
Medicare. I want our mothers to be able to have pay equity.

MATTHEWS: Women are the ones in the family normally, and maybe this
isn`t right, who pay the closest attention to their parents, right?

LEE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Governor, it`s not nice, but it`s true.

PERDUE: I`m trained as a gynecologist -- you know, that`s exactly
where it is. May I make a point? I`ve never seen a bunch like this here
that`s so against regulation, Chris. They want less, less, less.

Then it comes to a woman in the bedroom and they want to control
everything. I don`t get that.

MATTHEWS: Here`s what I ask you about -- I love North Carolina. I
went to grad school here, Chapel Hill. I will always call it the Southern
part of heaven.

(CROSSTALK)

PERDUE: We`ll sell you a second home any time you want to come.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, do you think the people have thought when
they say outlaw abortion, do they know what that means exactly? I know
there are a fewer abortions I guess technically. But it means is so many
young women and girls would be in a predicament they wouldn`t want to be in
and they`re going somewhere to have it dealt with. Don`t they know that?

You`re not going to stop it. You`re going to drive it underground.

PERDUE: They`re going to go somewhere to end the pregnancy if they
can afford it. But for poor women, you`ll get back to the days of coat
hangars in the bathtub and you`ll see women die.

No, choice is a huge issue. You know, I`m old enough to think that
war was fought. I`m really tragically sorry.

MATTHEWS: Are you surprised Romney wants to actually move ahead?
They talk about getting rid of the judges. Get seven or eight on the court
so they can ram through and end Roe v. Wade. They`re serious.

PERDUE: That`s the end game in every step in America. That`s right
out of Karl Rove`s playbook. We know that. And we`ve seen what`s
happening in Texas. We`ll see what`s happening and all over the country.

People have got to stand up. Women understand that it might be their
daughter or their granddaughter who`s raped. There`s no such thing as
legitimate rape. A rape is a rape and that young woman should have a
choice about what to do with her body and her life.

MATTHEWS: I have to ask you, Congresswoman, because you cover more
liberal areas, ands probably, it doesn`t mean anything to you, politically.
Berkeley and Oakland and all that, those are not racist parts of the United
States. They`re highly diverse and people live there because they like
diversity. All right?

This Republican ad campaign about welfare and giving up the work
requirement to me is redolent of all the old language and all the old
lingo? Your reaction?

LEE: They`re very shrewd, Chris. These are code words. When you
talk about the food stamp president, when you talk about welfare and the
way they talk about welfare.

I mean, Chris, I was on public assistance. We have many young women
who need that bridge over troubled waters until they can find a good paying
job to take care of their families. There are so many people, because of
the economy and because of the previous administration`s economic policies
who need a safety net. They need food stamps.

But the way that the Republicans are preventing this -- of course,
it`s cold. And of course they`re trying to play into the worst fears of
the American people. Well, it`s not going to work. People know better
than that.

I think people are going to rise to the occasion. They`re going to
get out. They`re going to vote, and they`re going to vote for President
Obama, because they`re not going to listen to the right wing rhetoric of
this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I remember the campaign against Harvey Gantt when Jesse
Helms was hanging on until the last term or so. He`s got the white guy
ripping up the pink slip, you needed that job. Is that going, that kind of
stuff down here?

PERDUE: Not Jesse Helms, the ad that show the paper (INAUDIBLE).

Yes, I mean, we`re really concerned about. In my state, it`s what
the voter ID is all about. We (INAUDIBLE) because we believe that we
identify voters anyhow and this whole rhetoric --

MATTHEWS: Governor, thank you for the warm welcome. These people
are great. Governor Bev Perdue, thank you.

And U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

When we return, let me finish with the two-prong pincher attack the
Republicans are using to try to win this election.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this pincher strategy being
employed by the Republicans. It`s got two planks, from the left comes this
move to limit voting by minorities. It`s a state by state maneuver to
reduce the number of votes cast out African-Americans by eliminating early
in person voting, by stripping rules of registered voters, and most
viciously by demanding the presentation of government-issued photo ID
cards.

The Republican leader in Pennsylvania was open about the purpose of
this last tactic. Its purpose is to get Romney the electoral votes of
Pennsylvania. It`s as simple as that.

The other pincher is the relentless push against white working class
voters to get them angry at welfare recipients who receive checks without
working, get them furious at Obama for doing it, get them voting Republican
with a vengeance, throw in a slur by the Republican presidential candidate
about not needing to show his birth certificate and regular hugs of number
one birther, Donald Trump, and you`ve showed your colors.

This is a nasty campaign cut back the black vote, anger up the white
vote. It is tribal, it is un-American, it is nothing to be proud of -- a
strategy which will go down into the history books for all the disgustingly
obvious reasons.

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

Don`t forget, our MSNBC documentary, "Barack Obama: Making History,"
tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

"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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