1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 9/5/2012 11:04:09 AM ET 2012-09-05T15:04:09

HARDBALL
September 4, 2012

Guests: Bill Richardson, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, John Larson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Democrats get a booster shot.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Charlotte.

"Let Me Start" with the promise of this Democratic convention opening
here. I am overwhelmed personally by the huge welcome at MSNBC that we`ve
received here. All of us, this team of ours has gotten the warmest embrace
ever. It`s like a family reunion down here.

This audience around me is a family portrait of America. There`s
nothing segregated here, nothing cut off. There`s unity in the air here,
and that`s the big question. Can we, can President Obama, reignite the
sense of national unity, that "we can do it" spirit? Can he open this fall
campaign with a gusto capable of roaring right through the first Tuesday
after the first Monday in November? If he can, it will be the spirit of
Charlotte that the country will give the credit.

With me are Montana governor Brian Schweitzer and former New Mexico
governor and U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson. Gentlemen, thank you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Back in 2004, Barack Obama`s inspirational speech inspired
a country as he spoke about unifying the red states and the blue states.
Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is not a liberal
America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino
America, an Asian America, there`s the United States of America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The pundits -- the pundits like to slice and dice our country
into red states and blue states, red states for Republicans, blue states
for Democrats. But I`ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God
in the blue states and we don`t like federal agents poking around in our
libraries in the red states!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We coach Little League in the blue states, and yes, we`ve got
some gay friends in the red states!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: There are patriots who oppose the war in Iraq and there are
patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us
pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the
United States of America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow! You know, Governor -- I`ll call you Bill, I`ve known
you forever -- but Governor, let me ask you this. I was with a crowd, an
African-American crowd in a tough neighborhood in north Philly right before
the election in 2008. It`s a tough crowd, a tough neighborhood. They
needed a lot of things they aren`t getting there, all right, a lot of
poverty.

And the biggest applause line from candidate Obama -- I`m going to
bring this country together. That`s what people got teary-eyed over. I
hear it here. I feel it here. It`s still what the country wants. They
don`t want to be minorities against majorities, straight against black, and
all that stuff going on. They want a united country. Can this president
still do it?

BILL RICHARDSON (D), FMR. NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: He can still do it.
He`s going to do it. I think what you`re seeing now again is that
coalition coming together.

Brian and I are from the West. The president virtually won most of
the Western states. He won New Mexico, he won Colorado, he won Nevada. To
win the reelection, he has to do that again.

But I think most importantly what, he`s going to be conveying in the
next day, and the first lady, is that we are one people, that we are a
party of the middle class, of the worker, that we want to bring people
together, that let`s end this partisanship in Washington and let`s find a
way that we all bring together the unity that this country deserves.

MATTHEWS: We`re watching the formal proceedings begin. There is
Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The chair of the party. We`re watching the
formalities in the background there.

The same question to you, Governor Schweitzer. You win (ph) in a
state that is called by the pundits a red state, and yet you`re a blue guy.
You`re a Democrat, at least your party affiliation. What`s the trick? How
do you unite?

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Well, I don`t think that there`s
necessarily a trick, but I can tell you this. In Montana, we say, Well,
you can lead a horse to water, but you can`t make him drink. And old Mitch
McConnell -- you can haul (ph) for him and take him to the trough, you can
offer him any kind of water you want, and he`s going to say no.

And that`s what President Obama`s been faced with. On the very first
day in office, the Republicans said, The way we beat this guy in reelection
is we say to America we`re not going to work with him, we`re not going to
do anything, we want to shut this country down. And they have. They have.

And it`s -- look, it`s time -- it`s time that we hold these leaders in
Congress accountable. They are the ones who have said no.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SCHWEITZER: We don`t want to move this country forward, we just want
to stop Barack Obama. And that`s wrong.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this whole question of division.
Now, there are on the other side, I think, ads which appeal to division. I
think all this talk about welfare and getting your checks without work,
which is a totally dishonest ad, is also code. Now, I don`t want to push
that any further. I think everybody here knows what I`m talking about and
agrees with me.

So the question is, how do you respond to that without making it
worse? How does a president who`s African-American say, OK, I`m African-
American. I have an interesting background, but I`m not going to fight
this fight on the racial basis I`m not going to play that game. You`re
not going to trick me into that. That`s your game.

How do you do it, once it starts from one side?

RICHARDSON: I think what the president is doing, Chris, is moving
forward, saying that we`re all in this together. I`m going to take my
community, the Hispanic community -- and all Hispanics want is we want the
American dream. We don`t want extra treatment. What we want is a fair
immigration bill. What we want is a remax (ph), so that Hispanic kids can
go to college and move towards legalization (INAUDIBLE) soldier (ph).

What we want is just what every American wants. We want jobs. We
want education. And I think what this president is saying is everybody in
America will have this opportunity.

SCHWEITZER: We`ve overcome racism in this country before. We have
continued to move forward. The Irish people came here, they said, Help
wanted, Jews and Irish need not apply." You know that. And we moved
forward and elected an Irish Catholic president. That was a big deal in
1960. You know about this. It was a big deal.

And this was a big deal when we elected a black person as president of
the United States not just for the United States, but for the entire world
because it is a symbol that we`re moving forward. And we`re not going
back. We are not going back!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SCHWEITZER: We are a united country. We are a -- we are a rich quilt
of colors in this country. That`s what`s made us the most innovative, the
most future-loving people in the history of the world. And we`re not going
back with all of this race baiting.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at -- here`s an interview with the
Colorado CBS affiliate. President Obama gave himself a grade of
"incomplete." I thought it was a pretty good answer, actually, in these
times which are very difficult.

Let`s listen to the president give himself a grade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your party says you inherited a bad situation.
You`ve had three-and-a-half years to fix it. What grade would you give
yourself so far for doing that?

OBAMA: You know, I would say incomplete. But what I would say is the
steps that we`ve taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that
college is more affordable, in investing in clean energy and science and
technology and research -- those are all the things that we`re going to
need to grow over the long term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, gentlemen? My reaction was I
thought the White House people were a little bit tongue-tied because my
answer is simple. Would you rather be in 2012 or 2009? In 2009, the stock
market was going through the floor. Unemployment was going through the
roof. We were at the edge of a cliff.

We`re back from that cliff. Unemployment`s been coming down. The
stock market has doubled. (INAUDIBLE) GM (INAUDIBLE) back alive. We
thought the auto industry was dead. It`s back alive like gangbusters. We
caught the bad guy, killed him.

If Bush had done it, he`d be still in the end zone doing hot dogs, you
know?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean, right? These guys don`t know how to brag. Your
thought, Governor Schweitzer?

SCHWEITZER: Well, look -- look, what he said was incomplete because
we`re going to need four more years to finish this job.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

SCHWEITZER: And we have come a long ways. Do you remember what it
felt like in September 15th of 2008, when we opened the newspapers and saw
that Lehman Brothers had just gone upside down? And banks all over
America, all over the world, didn`t know what was coming next. We were an
American people that didn`t know whether we were in 1929 or 2008.

And it was this president who led us out of the great recession. So I
would say it`s incomplete because we`ve got more to do.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: I think Mr. Axelrod and Plouffe should spend some evenings
with you, sir, and listen to that. Anyway, just a thought. Mr.
Richardson?

RICHARDSON: Well, internationally, if the election were held around
the world, the international community would want President Obama back. He
ended the war in Iraq. He`s ending the war in Afghanistan. We`ve got free
trade agreements all over the hemisphere. We`ve got a nuclear agreement
with the Russians. We`ve got al Qaeda down. We`ve got bin Laden.

This president internationally has restored America`s prestige abroad
-- human rights, democracy. This president deserves reelection for being a
superior foreign policy president.

MATTHEWS: And you`re the expert.

RICHARDSON: Well --

MATTHEWS: You are the expert. I`ve never heard it put so well. By
the way, we had McCain on the other night, watching him down in Tampa -- I
counted. He wants us on six war fronts. Six wars! He wants us fighting
in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan. He wants us going to war with the
Russians again. He`s unbelievable! China.

SCHWEITZER: Chris, these Republicans are amazing because they said
that during the Recovery Act, to help states pay teachers, pay
firefighters, pay Medicaid workers, government jobs don`t matter. And now
you`ve got McCain and Lindsey Graham traveling the country saying
government jobs in the military-industrial complex matter.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHWEITZER: Well, where is the equal discussion about what matters in
government? If we`re taking care of people and educating children and
moving forward, those don`t count? Building bombs are the ones that count?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know what to say. I think you`re a very
powerful guest, sir, Governor Schweitzer. Have you got your boots on?
Just look at the -- look at the cowboy boots on this guy.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

SCHWEITZER: These boots are by Eddie Rendell! He saw me in the
airport and he said, You got to get them shined up. He paid for these
boots to get shined!

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) he`s good at giving orders. Anyway, thank you,
Governor Brian Schweitzer and Governor Bill Richardson. Sirs, thank you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Coming up live from Charlotte: The press gushed (INAUDIBLE)
Paul Ryan was a serious politician, even a truth-teller. Well, things have
changed in the last few weeks, last week especially. Since that
convention, he`s been trying to defend himself. But can his reputation
survive? I think this Eagle Scout keeps losing merit badges.

Plus, Democrats are hoping Michelle Obama can help fire up the base
with her big speech tonight. She`ll be joined by San Antonio mayor Julian
Castro, who`s the first Hispanic American to give a keynote speech at a
Democratic national convention.

Can he and they energize key groups, African-Americans, Latinos, women
and young people? Congressman Elijah Cummings is coming here from
Maryland, and Senator Amy Klobuchar -- are both coming here to weigh in, to
sit right here in the rain.

Also, Virginia looms as one of the most important states this fall
both for President Obama`s reelection and for the Senate, who`s going to
control it. Big questions. We`re going to have former governor Tim Kaine
coming right here. He`s the great hope of the Democrats in that state.
He`ll be here later.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with Michelle Obama and the effect her words
could have at this convention.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Whatever I say here today, it`s going to be, at best, a
distant second to the speech you will hear tonight from the star of the
Obama family, Michelle Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That`s President Barack Obama
today teeing up the premier speaker tonight, Michelle Obama, at the
convention here in Charlotte. The first lady previewed her speech on the
Joe Madison (ph) show on radio earlier today. Let`s listen to what she
said to Joe.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I`m going to remind people about the
values that drive my husband to do what he has done and what he`s going to
do for the next four years. You know, I`m going to take folks back to the
man that he was before he was president because the truth is that he has
grown so much, but in terms of his core values and character, that has not
been changed at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, tonight`s lineup with Michelle Obama as headliner and
Julian Castro, the 37-year-old Hispanic mayor of San Antonio, Texas -- he`s
the keynoter tonight -- will spotlight the Democratic coalition, the one
that he needs, obviously, engaged if he`s going to win this reelection.

Latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows Obama leading Mitt Romney
among Latino voters well over 2 to 1.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Among African-Americans, there`s no contest, 94 to zip. I
don`t know where that six percent went. Among women, the president leads
Mitt Romney by 10 points. Among voters under 35, Obama leads by 11. This
week, Obama needs to make sure they`re fired up and ready to vote.

Anyway, joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings,
who`s on our show a lot. He`s from Maryland, a great guy and a great
representative. Now we have United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, who`s a
lot harder to get on this show, but we`re so glad she`s here.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. You know, I feel like the odd man out
here. Older white guys are the only people that aren`t voting for Obama.
Now, what`s going on here? Congressman, you represent all kinds of people
in Maryland.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: What`s going on in this division? And what can the
president do to keep his part of the American electorate and gain some more
from the other side?

CUMMINGS: I think the president just -- first of all, he needs to
talk about what he`s already done and tell us about -- you know, remind us
of the journey that we`ve been on. You talk about it all the time, Chris,
what a difficult situation he started with.

And then I think he needs to just give us a bridge to the future. He
needs to talk about the fact that he -- and I know this for a fact -- he
works every day and he thinks every day about how he can improve the lives
of Americans. And he`s in touch, trying to protect the middle class,
trying to expand the middle class, and address those issues that affect
people every day.

And as far as women are concerned, I think, you know, he has a
phenomenal record, and I know Senator Klobuchar feels the same way.

MATTHEWS: You know what`s going on on the Republican side? You`re
the politician. I`m watching it. It`s clear what they`re trying to do.
They`re first of all going after married women, who have husbands who make
a lot of money. And they basically are saying, Defend your husband`s tax
bracket. I mean, the candidate`s wife`s saying it, and it`s all fair game,
but their game is basically saying, Protect your interests. If you got
money, you don`t want to pay any taxes. That seems to be what they`re
doing on the other side.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, Chris, I just spent the last 10 days at the
Minnesota State Fair, standing in front of Bob`s Snake Zoo, where my booth
is located, with lines of people, talking to them.

And I will tell you that the American women are attuned to what`s
going on. They look at those pocketbook issues, not just the macro issues,
but the macaroni and cheese issues. And they were saying things to me
like, You know what? If you are going to actually add tax cuts to people
making over a million dollars a year, that they`re going to get an average
of $250,000 more in tax cuts -- they said, I want to bring the debt down.
I know we have to do it in a reasonable way, but that doesn`t make any
sense.

So I think American women are going to be making their own decisions
in this election. And you can see how strong they are, when I`ve been
standing in that booth, to be sensible, pragmatic and looking out for their
families. And that means reelecting Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Just to stay on women for a minute, have you read the
Republican platform, how zany it is?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s one thing to be pro-life. A lot of Americans
are pro-life. It`s a perfectly decent position to take. I can disagree
with how the law should be used, but I understand the concern about human
life.

But when you try to give 14th Amendment rights of personhood to the
fertilized human egg, rights of liberty and property, you get into crazy-
land, it seems to me. What is that all about? Are you attorneys, both of
you?

CUMMINGS: I am.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Cummings, what does that mean legally?

CUMMINGS: Basically, what it means is an embryo -- if you do anything
-- any harm to an embryo, that`s murder. That`s basically what it`s
boiling down to. I think that they are -- I think we are dealing with the
far, far, far right, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, they wrote the platform, sir.

CUMMINGS: Oh, yes. And Ryan is a big part of that, as you well know.

MATTHEWS: I know.

CUMMINGS: I just think that they have gone to a point -- you know,
keep in mind, we had Sandra Fluke before our committee. And when we had
her --

MATTHEWS: This is the Georgetown undergraduate (SIC) who --

CUMMINGS: That`s correct, who wanted to testify about contraception.
Chairman Issa of our committee, Republican, refused to let her testify,
saying that she was not qualified to testify with regard to contraception.

Give me a break.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CUMMINGS: And, if you will recall, Rush Limbaugh beat her up.

And, again Romney, said nothing about that, basically, and while at
the same time the president gave her a call. My point is, is that this
president has been very sensitive to these issues. And I know women knows
that he stands on the side of the pocketbook issues.

A lot of people don`t realize that pocketbook is very significant.
The tax cut issue, giving tax cuts to the rich and taking away from the
middle class, that affects a lot of women in my district who are single
women head of households trying to make it.

MATTHEWS: How do you get -- you have to raise money. You have to
raise money, sir. And let`s be practical.

As Democrats, it seems to me -- and this isn`t a partisan assessment,
it happens to be a fact -- a lot of people with a lot of money, and there
are some who are Democrats, give to the Democratic Party out of values, not
enough self-interests. They`re paying for a political party that`s going
to raise their taxes, right?

KLOBUCHAR: Right. A lot --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do you do -- should you avoid the rhetoric of populism
when it says screw Wall Street, these guys are all a bunch of pigs? How do
you avoid that lingo and still win over the voters who really care about
inequality?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I have a very strong business community in my state,
just like they have here in North Carolina. And it`s incredibly important
for our state. It`s one of the reasons that our state`s unemployment rate
is about more than two points better than the national average.

But what I do is, when I talk to businesspeople, they want to see
consistency and they want to see move forward on bringing the debt down in
a balanced way, not do something that`s going to put us over the cliff.
They would like to see the corporate tax rate go down. The president said
he wants to see that corporate tax rate go down.

But the way we do it is by closing loopholes, by adding things like
oil subsidies, by doing things that will really bring us there in a
balanced way, not on the backs of the middle class and senior citizens.

It`s interesting, Congressman, that the Republican advertisers, when
they point to good times, they don`t point to W. They don`t point to
senior Bush. They don`t even point to Reagan. They point to Clinton.

CUMMINGS: Yes. That`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that interesting?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CUMMINGS: And that`s because Clinton did it right.

And I think Clinton was another one who was very sensitive to what was
going on with regard to women. Again, he created some 21 million jobs
doing his eight-year tenure. So, he was doing it right. It will be
interesting to see when he comes before our convention, when he begins to
talk about some of those issues and support the president.

I want to see what they have to say. Again, they put him in their
commercials saying what a great president he is, and now he`s going to come
along and say this is the guy for us.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And he`s going to be detailed apparently about
economic policy, not just general B.S. He`s going to tell --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Ann Romney. A lot of people had some
problem with this. She made the case for her husband by talking about what
he hears on the trail. Let`s listen to Mrs. Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I`m hearing from so many women that
may not have considered voting for a Republican before that said it`s time
for the grownup to come, the man that`s going to have -- that`s going to
take this very seriously and take the future of our children very, very
seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOING)

MATTHEWS: The grownup.

CUMMINGS: I can tell you one thing.

MATTHEWS: What did you think of that when you heard that?

CUMMINGS: I can`t -- I`m not going to comment on that.

But I will comment on this. Barack Obama`s the one who has been for
Planned Parenthood. A lot of the women in my district --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CUMMINGS: -- the only way they get health care is through Planned
Parenthood. Romney is against it and Ryan, against it. They want to
abolish it. And so that`s just one thing.

KLOBUCHAR: And I think you have got to remember Planned Parenthood --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A grownup. What -- so the president is a boy? What`s the
point here? What`s the point of this grownup thing?

(CROSSTALK)

KLOBUCHAR: The president has shown a steady hand.

The president is the one that gave the order to go after Osama bin
Laden, right? That`s a grownup thing to do. The president inherited an
economy where the first month that he got in, we were shedding more jobs
than there were people in the state of Vermont. And now we`re adding
private sector jobs. He has had a very difficult, as he once said,
portfolio that he had to inherit, and he`s taken it on.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. It`s just an odd shot. It`s an odd shot.

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: I don`t know what it is , but I can tell you one thing,
keep in mind the first thing this president did, the first bill he signed
was Lilly Ledbetter, which is equal pay for women.

When they asked Romney how he felt about it, they didn`t even know.
So, I mean, I think that -- I know the president is the grownup -- the
grownup. And I don`t know what she`s talking about.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know. I think it`s awful because I think when you
watch the president -- you have been with him close range.

CUMMINGS: Oh, yes, many times.

MATTHEWS: There`s a man taking the burdens on his shoulders and
carrying it right. It`s not like he`s walking away from anything.

Anyway, thank you, Senator Amy Klobuchar. It`s great to great to have
you on, as usually.

Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Up next: more from Charlotte and our coverage of the DNC.

This is HARDBALL, the place for Charlotte, North Carolina.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: OK. We`re back with the people here in Charlotte, North
Carolina.

And this lady has been dying to speak.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Who you voting for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama. There`s no doubt.

MATTHEWS: OK. What`s the issue of this campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joey.

MATTHEWS: Joey, the husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What isn`t the issue? I don`t know how anybody
could vote for president -- presidential candidate Romney. I mean, Obama,
as you have pointed out so well, has done everything. I mean, last I knew,
Osama bin Laden is still dead, isn`t he?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Talk to the camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The issue is, we need to give him a chance to
finish what he`s started. Give him four more years.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, he said he was given -- he gave himself a grade
today, he said an incomplete. Is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he`s done wonderfully. Give him four
more years.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Did you have incomplete in school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m 53. And if Ryan/Romney or Romney/Ryan,
whichever way we want to say it, get elected, I get the shaft.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You want to be particular? What`s he going to do to you?
You got a thought?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I got a thought is, I`m going to be out in
the private sector trying to get insurance that will not insure an
individual that is say 65 years old or older with an issue, with a health
issue.

MATTHEWS: Gotcha, a preexisting condition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preexisting.

MATTHEWS: That`s what it`s all about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s what it`s about.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for getting to the issues today.

Ma`am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health care, Medicare, that`s what we need right
now, because the children who don`t have insurance, what happens when they
go to the health -- to the --

MATTHEWS: E.R.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: E.R. Thank you. There`s babies standing in
there who are -- late at night who can`t get health care because there`s
nobody to help them.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I have been to E.R.s. They`re not like in the
movies. You have to sit there.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sit there all night.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I just don`t want them to make this a racial
--

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Who`s this with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is Judy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your favorite fan. Your favorite fan.

MATTHEWS: You look like you`re in love.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hands off the middle class and the elders.

MATTHEWS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re in love. Look at this, close-up on these
hands. That is a good marriage there, I will tell you.

What do you think of all this excitement in Charlotte?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four more years.

MATTHEWS: Four more years.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, young lady?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama`s just a good man. He`s a good man.

MATTHEWS: OK.

How about you, bright eyes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love Charlotte. I think I want to leave
Michigan.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this. Obama needs four more years, and he
will finish what he started.

MATTHEWS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, Charlotte.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love Obamacare, we love Social Security the
way that it is. We want to keep Medicare and Medicaid.

MATTHEWS: I think you got to all the issues there.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

The Dow closes well off its lows, but down 55 points. The S&P 500
falls 1.5. The Nasdaq gains eight points.

Facebook shares hit a new all-time low of $17.58 earlier today.
That`s off more than 50 percent since its may IPO at $38 a share. Apple
shares got a boost today. The company issued a press invite for an event
on September 12, where it`s widely expected that the new iPhone 5 will be
unveiled.

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

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, to many watching Paul Ryan`s often truth-challenged convention
speech last week in Tampa, the highlight or perhaps lowlight of his many
factual inconsistencies was the implication that President Obama was to
blame for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan`s hometown of Janesville.

Well, the idea was absurd given the plant essentially closed in
December of 2008, a month before Obama even took the oath of office.

Well, since Ryan`s speech, the press has hammered Ryan over the sheer
volume of his factually unsound statements. But it`s that GM plant that`s
gotten the most attention.

Ryan fired back, I guess you could say that, on "The Today Show" this
morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What they`re
trying to suggest is that I said that Barack Obama was responsible for our
plant shutdown in Janesville. That`s not what I was saying.

Read the speech. What I was saying is that the president ought to be
held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down, he
said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville
plant to get people back to work. It`s still idle.

My point was not to lay blame on the plant shutdown. It was, this is
yet another example of the president`s broken promises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BOOING)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. Look, we all watched that speech of Ryan`s and we all
heard what Ryan said.

Is it credible what he`s saying now, Congressman, that he never said
what it seemed like he said?

REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, Paul is a good Catholic.
And you have to remember what the sisters of Notre Dame would teach us.
Oh, the evil web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LARSON: And --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: -- a Bible? I don`t think
so. But, OK, that`s all right.

LARSON: I don`t know if it`s in the Bible, but the sisters recited it
pretty well, John.

And I think that that`s it. And you -- and then when you make a
statement from your political party that fact-checking doesn`t matter --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LARSON: -- well, that`s created a whole lot of new jobs for people
who are -- want to hear the facts and want to be the proof.

And the other thing, I think, Chris, this becomes personal. People
are now taking a look at the guy who proposed to privatize Social Security
and they`re taking a look at the guy who wanted to privatize Medicare.
They`re looking at, you know, getting rid of the guarantee and what it
means to them and the Medicaid cuts and what that means to the very least
amongst us, mostly the frail, elderly and disabled, speaking the truth.

MATTHEWS: OK.

So does it spill over into more serious topics? Does it really spill
over to the big issues that affect people here when a guy gives something
that doesn`t seem to be the truth?

HEILEMANN: Well, look, I think one of the paramount strategic
imperatives for any politician is to control their public image. Paul Ryan
came into this race with a reputation for policy wonkiness, candor,
honesty.

MATTHEWS: Candor.

HEILEMANN: Earnesty.

And those were things he wore proudly as his image. In the space of
just 24 hours last week, he went -- now he`s like the poster boy for
hypocrisy and hyperbole and lying. And whether all the charges are fair or
not, when you lose control of your public image in that way, you suddenly
become carrion.

The vultures start to circle and they start to look, as the
congressman said, in a really careful way at everything you have said or
done in the past and whether -- and you find there`s small things that get
blown up to be too big, there`s big things that get blown up to be even
bigger.

You suddenly are saying -- it`s a snowball rolling downhill and you
suddenly start to realize why being vice president isn`t necessarily the
best job in the world or running mate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And for the rest of the campaign, there`s the old Warner
Wolf threat, let`s go to the tapes.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Because you go to the tapes, you hear what he said before.

Here`s a brand-new CNN poll just out today, right now in fact, and it
shows virtually no bounce for Mitt Romney after the Republican Convention.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Look at that after. Not much happening there, Congressman.
Not much happening at all.

LARSON: No. There`s not.

And I think it`s in part not only because of their convention last
week that was flat, I think, by everyone`s estimation.

MATTHEWS: That`s what Chris Christie said.

LARSON: Well, you`re right. And that`s a good source in this case.

But also because of what they didn`t say -- and what they didn`t say,
was, what`s their -- what is the -- they have become the party of change
and hope. They change their positions every day and they hope you don`t
notice it. And so we`re --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: OK.

LARSON: And so we have to make sure that we remind them of the truth,
and we have got people who are fired up and ready to go.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here`s Joe Biden. Here`s Joe Biden. He`s taken Ryan to
task over a number of those facts and discrepancies in that speech last
week.

Here was the vice president yesterday speaking at an AFL-CIO rally in
Detroit. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Much of what they
told you at their convention is simply, as they say in my old neighborhood,
not on the level.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: You heard Congressman Ryan on Wednesday night blame the GM
plant closing in Janesville, his hometown, on President Obama.

Well, folks, let`s take a look at the facts. What he didn`t tell you
was the plant in Janesville actually closed on President Bush`s watch,
while he was president.

Before the sacrifices you made, UAW members made, before those
sacrifices and the courage of the president, but, for that, all the GM
plants would have been closed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So how do you think this debate is going to be? Coming up
next month, we got a debate between that guy and Ryan, the guy he`s taking
shots at.

John Heilemann, how do you see that?

HEILEMANN: Well, you know, I have a cover story in the "New York"
magazine this week about Biden.

MATTHEWS: That`s right.

HEILEMANN: I spent a lot of time with him in the last month. He is
fired up and ready to go for this debate. And I think, you know, people
forget that Joe Biden, you know, no one is going to nominate Joe Biden to
be the chairman of Mensa. He`s not Albert Einstein. But what he`s always
been a master of is applied intelligence.

He goes to school, back in 1988 when he had to take on Robert Bork,
when Bork was nominated to be chairman of the Supreme Court, supposedly one
of the smartest guys in all of history of conservatism, conservative legal
theory, Bork went off, he went off with all the legal liberal scholars, he
learned his brief and he came in and took Bob Bork down.

And so you can`t -- he knows how to do these things that combine
factual accuracy with human empathy, with performance skills. There`s not
very many debates Joe Biden has lost in his career. In the Senate or
against Sarah Palin last time which was a high stakes endeavor.

MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, you know what, politics are risky. This
guy got elected to city council in his 20s, mid-20s, United States Senate
29 before it`s legal to take the office, he`s been re-elected from 29 to
his late 60s, 40 some years of undefeated politics. He`s never lost an
election and people like you keep talking about how slight he is
intellectually.

And I would just wonder whether the guy who says he`s not so smart,
is the smart as the guy who never loses an election. Just a thought. But
maybe you`re right. Maybe you`re right.

HEILEMANN: I`m just -- I didn`t say slight. I didn`t say slight. I
just said he`s not Albert Einstein. That`s all I said. Albert Einstein is
a high bar.

MATTHEWS: None of us are.

LARSON: The greatest things in politics I think is to be underestimated.

MATTHEWS: Ronald Reagan was always underestimated.

LARSON: That`s true. And Ronald Reagan also said facts are a
stubborn thing and Joe Biden is going to take Mr. Ryan to task on the
facts. And he can connect with people as good as anybody that there is.
And I thank him from his line the other day, you know.

MATTHEWS: OK. Over the weekend, the press called Ryan out on
another factually inaccurate mistake he made, this having to do with his
skills as a runner. Now, we`ll see how important this is. I`m not sure.

Mr. Ryan claimed to have finished a marathon under three hours,
extraordinary feat, which turns out to be far from the truth. Here`s what
the candidate told Hugh Hewitt, an ally, by the way, last month. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HUGH HEWITT: You did run marathons at some point?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I can`t do
it anymore because of my back is just not that great.

HEWITT: All right. Just got to ask, what`s your personal best?

RYAN: Under three, I think high twos, two hours and 50 something.

HEWITT: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University
--

RYAN: When I was younger, yes.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, people tell me that is one hell of a time and
apparently one hell of a time and apparently not accurate. John?

HEILEMANN: I will say that I am about as -- I`m about as likely to
run a marathon as I am to go to the moon. Drop dead if I got halfway
through.

But there`s no one I know who`s run a marathon from my wife to -- all
my friends, I have a lot of friends, the ones who have, they will remember
their marathon time until the day they die down to the second. And they
look at this and they -- lot of people think this is not a big deal. Lot
of people think it`s not a big deal.

No one who has run a marathon who doesn`t think this is a big deal.
It`s like your SAT scores. You remember them until the day you die. No
one misstates it, and misstates it in a way that like goes from being like
1,200 to 1,600. Nobody gets that wrong.

So, it raises -- it`s one of those little tiny things that might
illuminate something about character.

MATTHEWS: Can you beat down the assessment there?

LARSON: No. That`s -- someone who would take a calendar to time my
marathon, you got to be very --

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the politics.

LARSON: Be very careful --

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the politics.

LARSON: Credibility like you said that John mentioned off the bat.

MATTHEWS: How many times can you be dishonest, obviously dishonest
and people say you might be right this time?

LARSON: Well, you know, I think it is credibility and as John says,
Paul, who I came into Congress with, who his reputation, his stock in trade
was taking that bold position and always being very clear on it and always
being willing to take the tough stance. Now he`s got to run from those
positions and to say, to say at the convention and look straight into the
camera and talk about how they are going to preserve Social Security and
Medicare and care about the least amongst us -- please?

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, U.S. Congressman John Larson of
Connecticut, and John -- the great John Heilemann, the "Game Changer" John
Heilemann.

Up next is one of the hottest races in the country this year. Former
Virginia governor, former DNC chairman Tim Kaine is going to be here, right
here -- talking about the hottest Senate race around and how important that
state is. President Obama, I think he needs Virginia and that`s next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with some really smart guys. David Corn
sitting to my immediate right. To my far right, Howard Fineman.

I want them both to look at this brand new number we just got a
minute ago. It`s the latest bounce number for what it is. CNN, we`re
looking at the number, reliable number, it`s 48 all right now for the
presidential candidates, 48, dead-even. It had been Obama 49/47 before the
Republican convention.

Howard, score the bounce.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Minimal. Not surprising in
a divided electorate. I said there wouldn`t be a big bounce out of this.
The Republicans didn`t do anything out of the convention to change
anybody`s expectations.

This is a tied popularity contest still with the president ahead in
the Electoral College. That`s where it was before --

MATTHEWS: With 4 percent of the country saying they`re undecided.
I`ve never seen anything like this ever.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Four percent, how can you get a bounce when there`s only
four points to play with?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: There`s little play here when you`re
playing between the 48 yard lines and particularly you`re talking about 4
percent, not across the country now, but in what? Four or five, six
states. Four percent in Ohio --

MATTHEWS: No, but in national poll, where is that percentage?

CORN: Where is that percentage? I mean, who knows? But right now,
you`re talking, each campaign has to target about 4 percent and a small
number of states. So we`re really going microscopically picking up voters
dozen here or dozen there.

FINEMAN: It`s not just states, Chris. This is a different election.
This is tiny little slivers of demographics in those states. It`s not just
the states. It`s not just the -- it`s classic white, suburban --
housewife, middle class from Ohio. Bits of the Hispanic community
undecided, you know, there are bits and pieces of demographics all over.

And in era of micro-targeting which is what the campaigns do now,
through social media and Internet they pick out voters almost one by one.
There`s no mass targeting anymore. That`s the kind of election this is
going to be.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about --

FINEMAN: Piece by piece. Vote by vote.

MATTHWE: The fine-tuning of a reasonable person. To all elections
to me are questioned yes or no. You like the way this is going pretty
much?

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Would you prefer to get rid of and try something totally
different? Yes or no?

I think there is a yes and there`s a -- but it`s not a cheerful --
this is going to be -- not in a lock. Then there are people had a say no.

But who are the people that say yes but not quite enough to say yes?
Who are those people?

CORN: I don`t think this is a binary election, conventional sense.
You know, Obama, you asked the question -- are you better off now than four
years ago?

MATTHEWS: Better off than three years ago.

CORN: The answer is "yes, but". And with Romney, he`s currently a
"yes, but" candidate on almost every front. People like the idea of a
businessman, they like the idea of Romney, but they don`t like Romney much.

So, whatever the vote is, for this 4 percent, microscopic, targeted
undecideds, they`re not going to have a clearance. They are not going to
be happy I think about their vote going in. That makes it very hard.

MATTHEWS: Somebody said the other night bottom between the guy that
understands your problems but hasn`t been able to fix them yet. And a guy
who doesn`t understand your problems and -- but might able to fix them.

CORN: Might be able to.

FINEMAN: I think most of those undecided voters, not all of them,
most of them, at least the other ones I talked to, voted for the president
in 2008. Not all of them, but most of them.

MATTHEWS: I bet that`s right.

FINEMAN: They voted for the president. They are hanging back.
There are people in minority communities who are hanging back.

I talked to Jesse Jackson yesterday. You had him on the show. He
said the percentage will be the same among the African-American community
but the turnout might not be the same -- same in the Hispanic community,
same in the lot of other places. If the president could get anywhere near
the shape of the electorate he had four years ago, he`ll eke out the
victory.

But that`s who the people are. There`s no one description of that.
There`s no one description of them. Just as the Democratic Party today is
a very diverse party.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I wanted to talk about -- we couldn`t get Governor Tim
Kaine. We`ll get him on later.

Virginia, Tim Russert, the great Tim Russert used to talk about
Florida, Florida, Florida. He was right. He nailed that. Then it was
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. He nailed again in 2004. He wasn`t around sadly in
2008.

Right now, is it Virginia, Virginia, Virginia?

CORN: I think Virginia is one of the key states most in play. North
Carolina seems sorry, guys, to be slipping away. Virginia is still --
Virginia still is neck and neck. You have Tim Kaine who is running for
Senate, which is a very high-profile Senate race that`s going to have an
impact, I think, on the top of the ticket against George Allen who used to
be the senator there.

MATTHEWS: Virginia is an interesting state because it`s the real
south Virginia -- like the rest of the south. Then you get the northern
Virginia which is almost the northern part of the country. It is all
commuters and suburbanites and a lot of single women, a lot of single women
who are pro-choice. A lot of that going on.

FINEMAN: OK, now in 2008, the Obama campaign boldly went into
Virginia. Partly because Tim Kaine was the first Democratic governor,
first governor, to endorse the president, to endorse Senator Barack Obama.
The Obama campaign did a massive organizational effort in Virginia,
including putting organizing offices in parts of rural Virginia, or near
rural Virginia, where no modern Democrat had ever tried on get votes
before. It forced the Republicans on the defensive in Virginia.

Now, the Obama campaign has that same kind of organizing effort
going. I don`t think that they are going to get all those white voters in
rural Virginia, which means that if they are going to win, they got to win
even bigger in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. That`s what the speakers
tonight are aimed at, the women and the Hispanics.

FINEMAN: I`m with them on that. That`s what they had to get out.
Single women who may not vote all the time and have to vote this time.

Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. And I think Jim Moran can help
and his brother, and David Corn.

When we return, let me finish with the first lady and the rousing
words we expect for her to deliver in just a few hours tonight.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Michelle Obama speaks here tonight. And what a big moment it will
be. There are people who root for this first lady, about two out of three
of us. They want her to make it. They want her -- all to work out
important her.

Why? Because for most of us, the former Michelle Robinson has done
everything right. Look at the kids she`s raised, those two girls, Sasha,
Malia. They seem like perfections. They are what we want in any first
family, getting good education, being role models and seeming to deeply
appreciate the honor they enjoyed living in the White House.

I`ve said this before: the American presidency is not just a job. If
it were, we wouldn`t give the president`s family a house to live in. We
wouldn`t hold them up the way we do.

But the fact is, the way the Founding Fathers wanted it, being
president is also being head of state, the personal symbol of the country.
It is in this role I would argue that this family has been close enough to
perfect. They have conducted themselves in a superlative manner. They had
built in time for our parents` first role, child rearing.

There`s no such thing as quality time. All the time you spend with
your kids is good time. And the more, the better. If the president spent
too little time hanging out with other politicians, criticism, I offered, I
know that the pressure has come from his spouse. She`s demanded he`d be
there with her, when the two daughters have been there being daughters,
teenage girls, who need their daddy to watch him, to learn from him, to
feel his presence and love.

Well, tonight, we get to hear from Michelle Obama herself, get to
hear from the first lady herself, the values that lead them and I believe
enhanced the history of the White House with their exceptional presence.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. I`ll be back
with one hour with Rachel Maddow and my MSNBC colleagues for complete
coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

(CHEERS)

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

Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

More on TODAY.com

  1. Lupita Nyong’o is People magazine’s Most Beautiful person

    The Oscar winner with the perfect smile and the style to match beams from a cover that promises "her inspiring story.

    4/23/2014 11:54:41 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T11:54:41
  2. video Actress tells Savannah: Oscar win has opened doors

    video After a tremendous year for the actress, including winning an Oscar for her breakout role in “12 years a Slave,” and now being selected as People magazine’s Most Beautiful person, Lupita Nyong’o reflects on her rising fame in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

    4/23/2014 12:35:32 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T12:35:32
  3. slideshow Her flawless looks: See Lupita’s colorful wardrobe

    slideshow Bright yellow, sky blue, rich red, shimmering gold — there's not a color that the fashionably adventurous Oscar-winning actress hasn't conquered.

    4/23/2014 1:40:41 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T13:40:41
  4. Reuters; AP
  1. Pool / Getty Images

    Prince William, Duchess Kate try their hand at the DJ decks

    4/23/2014 4:30:48 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T16:30:48
  1. Courtesy of Savannah Guthrie

    Savannah’s honeymoon dispatch: Letting it hang out on the best vacation ever

    4/23/2014 10:56:55 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T10:56:55