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updated 9/10/2012 11:44:24 AM ET 2012-09-10T15:44:24

HARDBALL
September 7, 2012

Guests: Stephen Moore, Steve McMahon, Joe Conason, Ron Christie, Roger Simon, P.J. Crowley, Roger Simon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Thank you, Charlotte.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this impressive week in Charlotte. There
may be no one explanation for it, but I`ve never seen such excitement at a
political convention. It was in the faces of the people who stood at the
edge of our MSNBC stage, their loud roars when one of us said something
about President Obama, their deep concentration watching him on our big
screen as he spoke last night.

I don`t know what all this means for November. We`re going to get
serious economic reports between now and then, and we`ll know when we vote
whether the economy`s either slowing down or beginning to perk. The news
we got this morning wasn`t satisfactory by anyone`s standards, but the real
question is how the voters look at this election.

Will they view it as a choice between two candidates, or simply as an
up-or-down referendum on President Obama? A brutally tough standard, by
the way, so soon after the financial crash of 2008 and 2009.

Steve Moore`s a member of "The Wall Street Journal`s" editorial board
and Steve McMahon`s a Democratic strategist.

President Obama last night kept pushing the idea that this election is
a choice among voters, rather than a referendum. And we counted 20 times
he uttered a variation of "choose" or "choice," the very words themselves.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When all is said and
done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest
choice of any time in a generation. It will be a choice between two
different paths for America.

And I`m asking you to choose that future.

And now you have a choice.

If you choose this path --

The choice you face --

You can choose a future --

-- choose --

-- choice --

-- choice --

-- choice --

-- choice --

-- choose --

-- choices --

-- choose --

-- a choice --

-- choose --

-- choose --

-- choose --

You can choose that future for America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty tough stuff. Steve Moore, for the -- I
guess you have a point of view on this. I want to ask you this fundamental
question. Is this going to be like a baseball team, where you -- the
manager says, Well, that pitcher started the game, but he`s got to get out
of there, we`re going to try somebody else, or you have two people sort of
facing off, saying, Well, pick me, and the other one says, Pick me, and you
got to choose between them?

STEPHEN MOORE, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think it`s a smart
strategy by Barack Obama, especially given the employment report that came
out today that really was disappointing.

But I have a kind of iron rule of politics. And I`ve been in politics
for a long time, as you have, Chris. And that iron rule of politics is
that elections are almost always -- almost always a referendum on the
performance of the incumbent. And that`s the problem that Barack Obama
has, is that a lot of Americans have concluded this economy isn`t growing.

And when he says, you know, that -- the line of this week among many
Democrats, including Bill Clinton, was this was the best any president
could have done -- well, wait a minute. It was Barack Obama himself who
said we were going to have the unemployment rate down below 6 percent now
and that within three or four years, if I haven`t fixed the economy, I
won`t have a second term. So I`m judging him by his own standards here.

MATTHEWS: Well, today, the unemployment rate did tick down to 8.1
from 8.3. That`s good news, at least superficially. But that was because
only 96,000 --

MOORE: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- jobs were added and many unemployed Americans have
stopped looking for work. I got to (INAUDIBLE) this is a tough situation.
I read the paper today, or the wires, Steve McMahon, and this is the short
-- the smallest labor force -- that means people working or looking for a
job -- in 30 years. We have shrunk the working portion of our country
because of, well, disappointment in the job market, what`s out there.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I mean, there`s no
question that the job report today was not what the president and the White
House wanted.

But there are three numbers that people focus on. The first is the
raw number, which, of course, was lower than folks expected and lower than
the White House wanted. There`s the unemployment rate, which actually did
tick down a little bit.

And then there`s another measure that people look at, which is their
401(k)s. And you know, the Republicans want to talk about whether or not
you`re better off today than you were four years ago, and by the measure of
a 401(k), somebody who`s about to retire is looking at that, saying, You
know what? The president inherited a terrible situation. My 401(k) has
nearly doubled in the last four years.

He said in his convention speech that things had gone more slowly and
been more difficult than he imagined. He showed humility. And I thought he
did a wonderful job of contextualizing it last night and saying this isn`t
really a choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. It`s a choice what
kind of future we want to have as a country, what kind of an economy we
want to have, whether it`s an economy that works for everybody or works
just the few and the privileged and the wealthy like Mitt Romney. And I
think it was very effective.

MOORE: But you know --

MATTHEWS: What about that, Stephen Moore, the idea that, you know --
and let`s look at this objectively, like you`re not just playing this back
and forth.

MOORE: Sure.

MATTHEWS: If you have a president comes in and the Dow Jones average
is down about 6,500, it`s dropped dramatically, down to lower than it was
for a decade, and all of a sudden, it doubles, doubles up to 13,000. That
means people have 401(k) money. If they have any kind of savings in the
equity markets, they`re better off dramatically. In fact, they`re twice as
well off as they were. And this is somebody 65 years old, ready to retire,
72 years old, checking the market every day to see how they`re doing.

I have to tell you, this sounds like sarcasm, but if George W. had
this kind of situation, he`d be doing those hot dog, jumping up and down in
the end zone, and he wouldn`t quit.

MOORE: Well, I agree with both you and Steve. I think this is the
best statistic that Barack Obama has. The stock market actually has done
pretty well under Barack Obama, so you`re both right about that. The
problem that I think --

MATTHEWS: How does wealth affect retirement? Is wealth more
important to retirement, or unemployment number? If you`re a retiree --
for example, those people --

MOORE: Oh, clearly -- clearly, it`s the wealth, in fact. And in
fact, if you look at the income statistics that came out last week that
were pretty lousy, the only age group that saw an increase in their income
were senior citizens because they`re not in the workforce, but they do make
their income --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: -- mostly from just benefits of government and also from --
but here`s the problem with your guy`s analysis, though. It is true that
there`s a wealth effect in terms of higher stock market values. The
housing market hasn`t done much at all.

But the bigger problem is when you look at the wage issue, Steve. And
that`s where I think Obama has a steep climb because --

MATTHEWS: I know they are.

MOORE: -- wages -- wages are down $4,000 for the average family and
--

MATTHEWS: Well, don`t pile on.

MOORE: -- you know, those are those people who are going to decide
the election.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Moore, you`re piling on. Let`s go -- here`s President
Obama speaking about the jobs numbers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He
argued there`s more work to be done, of course. Let`s listen to his
reaction, then we`ll get back to you, Steve.

MOORE: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Today, we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a
month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month
in a row, a total of more than 4.6 million jobs.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But that`s not -- that`s not good enough. We know it`s not
good enough. We need to create more jobs faster. We need to fill the hole
left by this recession faster. We need to come out of this crisis stronger
than when we went in. And there`s a lot more that we can do!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Listening to you, Steve, I think you say the worst sin of
the president is not that he hasn`t got the economy coming back like
gangbusters, but that he promised too much. The numbers he was using --
I`ll get it down to 6 percent eventually, three years, I`ll get it down to
8 percent the first year -- Is it what any other president have (ph) been
able to do? Bill Clinton doesn`t think so -- been able to take this out of
where it was on the edge of a precipice, bring it back from the precipice,
prevent a second Depression, and get people back working again after this
kind of financial crash we had in `08 and `09?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Was anybody else able to do something better in three
years?

MOORE: Yes, look, Reagan did, and you know, Chris, Reagan --

MATTHEWS: No, he didn`t have a financial crisis.

MOORE: Sure, he did. I mean --

MATTHEWS: You know more -- you --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Oh, come on, now! Wait!

MATTHEWS: -- are playing games now.

MOORE: Hold on!

MATTHEWS: That was a monetary recession caused by Volcker.

MOORE: No.

MATTHEWS: It was a systematic tightening of money that could easily
be overturned. That was a vertical --

MOORE: No.

MATTHEWS: -- that went down and quickly back up again.

MOORE: I disagree with you on that. I mean, the 1970s was the worst
decade that we had since the Great Depression in terms of incomes and
wealth. The stock market --

MCMAHON: I think it was --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: -- its value. But here`s the point. You know, Reagan came
in during a great economic crisis. I mean, read what people were saying in
1980! We were -- everyone thought we were an empire in decline, we would
never recover, that the Soviet Union was going to overtake us.

MATTHEWS: OK. All right.

MOORE: And the thing is that three years later, after Reagan put his
program in place, the economy was booming -- 6, 7, 8 percent growth! We
had one month, Chris, where --

MATTHEWS: OK --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: -- economy created 1.1 million jobs! So yes, you can do
this! You can get out of these things with the right policies!

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

MCMAHON: OK, OK. So here`s -- here`s -- Steve, you`ve been around
politics for a long time. You know how people make these decisions. And
in presidential campaigns, they make a decision based on whether they think
things are getting better --

MOORE: That`s true.

MCMAHON: -- or getting worse.

MOORE: I agree.

MCMAHON: Right now, if you look at the 401(k), if you look at the
housing market coming off the bottom, if you look at 30 straights months of
jobs being created after 800,000 job losses at a time when Obama came into
office, and you listen to his speech last night, when he said, I`m asking
you to choose the harder path -- tax cuts for everybody and tax cuts for
wealthy people sound really good, but they`re cotton candy and they lead
worse deficits and bigger problems down the road. I`m asking you to take
the harder path.

This is a president who`s asking people to actually engage in shared
sacrifice, which hasn`t happened for a long time. The Republicans aren`t
asking anybody to do that. They`re saying the last free lunch in America
is sitting right here. It`s more tax cuts. And people who are thoughtful
understand that more tax cuts just means --

MOORE: OK, Steve --

MCMAHON: -- more debt and more problems for our kids.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Let me ask both of you this question --

MATTHEWS: No --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Tell me -- tell me what Barack Obama`s --

MATTHEWS: When you have a show, you can ask the questions.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Tell me what Barack Obama`s program is then!

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

MOORE: I mean, you guys keep saying he`s got a program for the
future!

MATTHEWS: -- get back to what I --

MOORE: I don`t know what that program is!

MATTHEWS: OK --

MOORE: He didn`t talk about what he wants to do, except more stimulus
spending!

MCMAHON: No, no. He talked about -- he talked about continuing to
increase exports. He talked about a million new manufacturing jobs.

MOORE: How?

MCMAHON: He talked about slowing the growth -- he talked about a
society where people -- where we invest in education and we produce a
workforce that`s more competitive globally than the workforce we currently
have.

He didn`t talk about carving out Medicare and turning it into a
voucher program. He didn`t talk about leaving people out there on their
own, unable to make ends meet, and eviscerating the social -- the social
net. He didn`t talk about the things that the Republicans, frankly, want
to do to create a society where everybody`s on their own.

He actually talked about a shared sacrifice society, which used to be
a noble thing in this country, and it`s something that, frankly,
Republicans used to do but they don`t do much --

MOORE: I`m not in favor of --

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: I am not in favor of sacrifice. I`m in favor of growth. We
don`t need -- the only people who need to start sacrificing in this economy
--

MATTHEWS: OK --

MOORE: -- are the people in the government --

MATTHEWS: OK --

MOORE: -- who`ve done so well!

MATTHEWS: Steve Moore, you`ve done a good job here. I just want to
remind voters that there was a reality that this president inherited up
until 2009. In 2009, we had an employment rate spiking past -- well past
10 percent. We had a stock market sinking with no floor below it, well
below a 10-year low.

We didn`t know where we were headed then. We were headed the wrong
way. We were "Wrong way Corrigan" back in 2009, when your crowd -- not
that you`re your part of the party, but (INAUDIBLE) the conservatives left
us in this mess. And so Barack Obama, as somebody said beautifully this
week, was left with a mess and told he didn`t clean up fast enough by the
people who left the mess.

Now, a lot of people can criticize this economy, the way it is, but
the people who are least able to criticize it are the ones who left the
mess with President Obama. That`s my view. It`s a political assessment.
We will see how the voters look at this. I think all the polling shows
that voters know the president inherited -- I`ve seen the number, 60
percent know that -- blame it on Bush, what we`re in right now.

Anyway, thank you, Steve. Please come back, Mr. Moore. You`re a good
salesman.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And you got a good hand today. You picked up the -- you
got three aces --

MOORE: I`ve got a great hand!

MATTHEWS: -- in your hand this morning.

Anyway, coming up: Conventional wisdom. Which party had the better
convention? Well, the voting on this question`s in, and it`s not a toss-
up. It`s the Democrats. And this is a fact because I was with both of
them.

Also, how the GOP managed to fumble away their biggest advantage, the
military, the troops. Republicans didn`t mention the people -- well, they
didn`t mention the war in Afghanistan, and Democrats ran right out into
that gaping hole and reminded people Democrats are interested in the people
fighting these wars, not just the wars.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama and the Democrats are masters of the
Twitter domain. The president`s speech last night set a record for the
most tweets in a single minute for a political event, 52,756 tweets. The
Twitterverse is never Democratic- occupied territory, apparently. Last
night generated about four million tweets altogether, roughly equal to all
three days of the Republican convention.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There were so many differences
between the two conventions we just saw. One of the starkest was in the
levels of enthusiasm, loud and boisterous down in Charlotte, grim and
rather businesslike in Tampa. I could feel (ph) wherever I went. Well,
the first hint of trouble in Tampa came when New Jersey governor Chris
Christie, who delivered the RNC keynote, told delegates they weren`t being
loud enough.

Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I want to tell you something.
I`ve been a little bit disappointed at the volume of noise on the floor of
that convention the last two nights. I`m going to be honest with you.
I`ve been a little disappointed in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow! The enthusiasm level was one of the many contrasts
between the conventions. We`ll take you through the others.

Joe Conason`s editor-in-chief of NationalMemo.com. Ron Christie`s a
Republican strategist and author of "Blackwards. (ph)"

Another convention contrast was the role each party gave to past
presidents. Bill Clinton, of course, owned Wednesday night up in Charlotte
and made the strongest case yet for an Obama second term.

Let`s listen to big Bill, the "Big Dog."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want a
winner-take-all, you`re-on-your-own society, you should support the
Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and
shared responsibility, a we`re-all-in-this-together society, you should
vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He was fantastic. Anyway, President George W. Bush was
not present at the Republican convention and was barely mentioned by
anyone, except very briefly by his brother, Jeb, who said it`s time to cut
him a break.

Let`s listen to Jeb on W.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: And my brother -- well, I love
my brother.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during
incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: So Mr. President -- Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming
your predecessor for your failed economic policies!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I always like to remind people that he didn`t keep us
safe September 11, 2001.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was that one time.

MATTHEWS: It`s always after that that they -- if a Democrat had been
president when we were hit on 9/11, the Republican Party would have
participated in such villainizing of the Democrats, it would never have
ended.

Let me go to Joe -- let`s move on to the broader question here of how
they treated their most recent chief executive, Joe Conason. Not much
action there for W. Pure love for Bill.

JOE CONASON, NATIONALMEMO.COM: Well, Chris, I think they decided down
in Tampa that for every minute that George Bush was mentioned, let alone
see, they were going to drop, you know, that percentage in the polls.

I mean, as you mentioned earlier, Americans understand, by and large,
60 to 70 percent of them, that Barack Obama inherited a serious set of
problems from George W. Bush -- two wars that have cost us, you know,
upwards of $2 trillion, $3 trillion, an economy that was crashed, and a
gigantic debt that he had actually doubled while in office.

So this is what the president had to cope with at a time of terrible
stress for the country, and I think people know that. They remember that.
And the Republicans don`t want to remind them.

MATTHEWS: Ron Christie, it seems that both parties want to remind us
of Bill Clinton, but neither party wants us to remind us of W. The
Democrats are actually giving W. a break, at least as a person. They only
go after his record. Your thoughts.

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, my former boss, President
George W. Bush, has exited the political stage. He made a very concerted
effort. He said, Once I`m out of politics, that`s it. So you know, the
Democrats can run around and say, Oh, they`re trying to hide Bush and he`s
trying stay off the scene because he`s so unpopular, but that was the
president`s decision.

The fact of the matter, Chris, is that poor Barack Obama -- Oh, Obama
inherited a mess! Oh, Obama! Oh, all the troubles he`s had!

This man has been in office for three-and-a-half years! I`m tired of
listening to the whining on the left and saying, Poor Obama, as opposed to
-- he`s had a stimulus bill, he`s had a jobs bill. They haven`t set the
country back on course. So let`s put the blame where it needs to be, at
the president`s feet for his failed policies, as opposed to looking back
and blaming George Bush.

MATTHEWS: Most people don`t agree with that. But let`s look at this.
Republicans and Democrats had limited and precious primetime, of course.
Network TV (INAUDIBLE) broadcast networks. On the final night of both
conventions, however, just as the networks began their coverage, here`s
what the parties presented.

At 10:02 last night, Vice President Joe Biden was in a full lather.
He often is. Let`s listen.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is not in
decline. I have got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan.

Gentlemen, never, ever, it never makes sense, it`s never been a good
bet to bet against the American people.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, meanwhile, the week before, here`s what Republicans
were presenting to network audiences at 10:04 on their big night. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: I have got Mr. Obama sitting here.

(LAUGHTER)

EASTWOOD: What? What do you want me to tell Romney? I can`t tell
him to do that. He can`t do that to himself. You`re crazy. You are
absolutely crazy.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You know, Ron, I have always given credit to your party,
the Republican Party, for competence in putting these shows on.

You always have the balloon drop where the balloons actually do drop
on time.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re really good at this stuff, but this year, when you
only had an hour of prime-time TV on the networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, you
put on Clint Eastwood. The other guy put on the up-up man for the
president, Joe Biden.

Who`s organizing your conventions these days? I think you lost some
of your luster in this business.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Well, Chris, I know it`s going make a lot of my Republican
friends a little unhappy with me, but I thought it was a little strange
seeing Clint Eastwood, a guy who I love, talking to an empty chair.

I get the point, but for goodness` sakes, the one hour that you have
the American people tuning in that aren`t on the cable networks and you`re
looking at empty chair, I just didn`t see the humor in it. A lot of people
did. I just wouldn`t have chosen that line of, frankly, attack against the
president.

MATTHEWS: You know, Joe, he apparently thought up this gig, this
shtick or whatever you want to call it, when he was in the green room. He
just thought of it. That`s a lot of power to say, can I have that chair,
please?

CONASON: Well, I think, even though Obama seems to have gotten a big
bounce today in the Gallup approval, you can bet that Romney is way up with
people who yell at empty chairs.

(LAUGHTER)

CONASON: I would say that`s a demographic that they captured.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You are cruel to our hero. I`m going to forgive him. I`m
saying something in the show. I think, you know, this probably is the way
he`s made his whole career, going on hunches. This hunch didn`t work.

CONASON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the crowd out there. This is always a
ticklish point. But I was down in Charlotte and there was a tremendous
good feeling -- you know that phrase, Ron, you always hear, new South?

CHRISTIE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s better than it was. The race relations are much more
mellow.

In fact, I know it`s tough to talk about it, but I was so impressed by
the way people all got along where I was down there in an open space with
people, the excitement, the shoulder-to-shoulder feeling. It was so --
here we have the convention. These of course were the more important
people. These are the delegates, not just the regular people.

We had regular citizens, of course, but these delegates, they`s just a
lot of positive feeling here and diversity in the best sense. It was
wonderful because they wanted to be diverse. Your thoughts, Ron? Is that
something the Republican Party just isn`t over yet and has to get over at
some point or what?

CHRISTIE: I think one thing it`s a matter of ideology.

If you look at the fact that 96 percent of registered African-American
voters who voted for President Obama last time around, that`s a pretty high
percentage. I didn`t see the kind of diversity I wanted to see in Tampa.
Obviously, there were a number of folks of color that I saw when I was at
the convention, but we need to do better as a party.

We need to go out not just at election time, but we need to recruit
folks to run for office. We need to ask for the vote before election time,
so, hopefully, four years from now, we will have a more robust and a more
diverse Republican Party.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How many delegates of color were there at the Republican
Convention down in Tampa, Ron? Do have an estimate, having been there?

CHRISTIE: I don`t. It`s hard for me to say, Chris. I saw quite a
few on the floor. The estimate I have heard is about 2.1 percent.

That`s again something I have heard. I can`t confirm that as a hard
number.

MATTHEWS: And in real numbers, that is what?

CONASON: Forty.

CHRISTIE: About 40 or 50.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s about 21, actually.

Anyway, look, I`m not holding it against Ron, because Ron has the
nerve to join whatever political party he wants to join, which is the
American way. But it certainly looked -- I have to tell you, a positive
feeling about America down there, gung-ho people.

I know most African-Americans, because of history and civil rights and
all, and Roosevelt, of course, all moved into that one political party and
the way they were treated in the South. The South was Democrat when they
were being treated the worst. It is an interesting part of American
history and Ron knows it better than I do.

Thank you, sir.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Ron, thanks for coming on. You were a good guy tonight, as
always.

Thank you, Joe Conason, sir, for being tough, but fair.

CONASON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, there was one word Joe Biden literally loved
saying last night. What was it? Well, literally, I think. It was the
word. He loved saying the word literally.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Bill Clinton
threw out more specific numbers in one speech last night than the
Republican leadership did in an entire week in Tampa.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A reasonable
plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade.

For every $2.5 trillion of spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new
revenues.

STEWART: Not that the Republicans did not have a plan to solve the
nation`s economic problems.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to
solve this nation`s economic problems. We need to stop spending money we
don`t have. We will not duck the tough issues. We will lead.

STEWART: And, as a last resort, we will use magic.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

Speaking of President Clinton`s convention speech, you may have caught
this snapshot of Hillary Clinton watching her husband make his address.
She was on a diplomatic trip in Southeast Asia.

Before watching though, the secretary of state had this to say about
her husband`s remarks -- quote -- "I received the as-prepared version,
which I`m anxious, when I can, to prepare with the as-delivered version."

Well, she suspected that some on-the-spot additions to the speech,
like this zinger for Paul Ryan, who blasted President Obama`s spending
cuts, even though Ryan`s own plan called for the same amount in savings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And that was impromptu.

So let`s get down to the numbers. Bill Clinton`s prepared remarks,
just over 3,000 words. The as-delivered version, close to 6,000. Just a
bit more ad libbing and he would have doubled the original word count.
That guy is smart.

Moving on to one of the last night`s big speech events, did you happen
to notice Joe Biden getting a bit literal with the use of one word in
particular?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Romney
believes it`s OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000 in order to pay
for another -- literally another trillion dollar tax cut for the very
wealthy.

And it literally amazes me they don`t understand. General Motors and
Chrysler were literally on the verge of liquidation. In the first days,
literally the first day, literally stood on the brink.

I mean, literally hung in the balance.

Literally.

Literally.

Literally.

Direction we turn is not figuratively, it`s literally in your hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the direction of history is literally in our hands?
Hmm.

Biden dropped that L-word 10 times. Anyway, the Obama campaign
pounced on that one when Twitter uses searched the word literally and took
a look at what popped up, a promotional message from the Obama campaign.
"Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive," one of Biden`s
signature line in the campaign. So, they`re moving fast.

And even this past week in Charlotte has been chockful of memorable
moments, I doubt anyone has forgotten about possibly the most bizarre
incident from last week`s convention down in Tampa. Of course, it`s Clint
Eastwood talking to an empty chair.

And before singing some of his recognizable songs at this Democratic,
yesterday, singer/songwriter James Taylor addressed any concerns about his
own four-legged prop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES TAYLOR, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I know it`s an empty chair. It
makes you nervous, doesn`t it?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

TAYLOR: That`s all right. I`m going to sit on it.

(LAUGHTER)

TAYLOR: I`m not going to talk to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What a voice, anyway, what a song.

Anyway, people unfortunately are known by their best work, and with
any work, Clint`s date with that chair will be forgotten, I`m hoping. His
movies, of course, classic as they are, will be around forever.

Up next, after Mitt Romney failed to thank the troops in his
convention speech last week, the Democrats were sure to pay tribute to them
in Charlotte.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Hampton Pearson with your
CNBC "Market Wrap."

Stocks built on Thursday`s gains, despite disappointing economic data.
The Dow rose 14 points, the S&P gained six, and the Nasdaq rose a fraction.
As you heard earlier, just 96,000 jobs were created last month. The
unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, mostly due to people giving up
looking for work. Google closed above $700 a share today, a four-year
high. And Apple touched an all-time high earlier before falling back
slightly.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

For years, the conventional wisdom was that the Republicans owned the
issues of the military and national security. The Democrats played defense
on those issues, but if you watched the two conventions this year, that has
conventional wisdom has been turned on it face. For the first time since
1952, a Republican acceptance speech failed to mention war, while the
Democrats put up speaker after speaker to highlight the president`s
national security accomplishments and also to pay tribute to our troops and
veterans.

The president looked like a forceful commander in chief at a time of
war, while his opponents looked like the foreign policy novices that they
are. Here`s what the president said last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent and his
running mate are new to foreign policy.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But from all that we have seen and heard, they want to take us
back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.
After all you don`t call Russia our number one enemy, not al Qaeda, Russia,
unless you`re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can`t
visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, who would have ever thought it would be the
Republicans playing defense now on the issue of national security?

Roger Simon is chief political columnist for Politico and P.J. Crowley
is a former secretary of state for public affairs and a retired Air Force
colonel.

Years ago, when it was OK to talk about this, I wrote a piece for "The
New Republic" about the mommy and daddy party, how the Democratic Party is
so good on health issues and education and child development and taking
care of your older parents, and the Republicans are all about law and order
and defense and keeping a gun under the bed. Tough daddy and regular good
mommy.

But, today, the Democrats have done a little border crossing here.
They are the guys that got bin Laden and bragging about it.

ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, POLITICO: Exactly.

I thought they did a very effective and a very clever job especially
on the third, last day of their convention in re-branding the Democratic
Party as the party of patriotism and the party of strength. And as we just
saw, the Republican Party is a party of naivete, one that doesn`t know how
to deal with foreign policy.

But what`s more, as Biden said, they`re doom-criers. They don`t trust
America. They sell America short.

MATTHEWS: Well, why are they running two guys not only with no
military background, which is fairly common today for their generation, but
also with no real interest in foreign policy? Neither of those candidates
has any interest or curiosity about the world, from what I can tell.

SIMON: Because this campaign was supposed to be about jobs, jobs,
jobs. But it didn`t turn out that way, did it?

MATTHEWS: P.J. Crowley, one thing the neocons, who I dearly despise -
-

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I will put my cards on the table. They love wars. They
don`t being in them too much, but they love wars.

But they don`t seem to realize that there are troops, people that come
home. I thought it was nicely put -- not nicely, but honestly put, that
some people come home and are never healed. And it doesn`t -- it`s not a
couple weeks in the military hospital. It`s a life in and out of the
military hospital or stuck there.

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC
AFFAIRS: Right.

Going back decades, you had the Weinberger doctrine and Powell
doctrine, but, for the first time, we are focused and understanding the
cost of war.

Bush was great at going to war.

MATTHEWS: The human, long-term cost.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t go away.

CROWLEY: Right, cost in blood, cost in treasure.

And what Obama has done, he`s made a real connection, you know, with
the military and with veterans. His line about Romney being new to
national security, but what hammered that home was the fact that he
finished his speech talking about a veteran who literally was able to
recover, stand on his own, and walk into the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Senator John Kerry led the attack against
Mitt Romney on foreign policy.

He chided the candidate -- I love that word -- for failing to mention
the troops or Afghanistan in his acceptance speech. He didn`t -- neither
Afghanistan, our biggest war right now, never mentioned it, and never
mentioned that people have to fight these wars and survive them.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No nominee for president should
ever fail in the midst of a war to pay tribute to our troops overseas in
his acceptance speech.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KERRY: Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney was talking about America. They
are on the front lines every day defending America and they deserve our
thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, on FOX News today, Romney was asked to respond to the
Democratic attack, that he failed to even mention Afghanistan or pay
tribute to the people who fight these wars.

The troops, let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Do you regret opening up this line of attack
now, a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I regret you repeating it day
in and day out.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: When you gave a speech, you don`t go through a laundry list.
You talk about the things that you think are important and I described in
my speech my commitment to a strong military, unlike the president`s
decision to cut our military and I didn`t use the word troops. I use the
word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I just love the way he corrects the reporter for asking
the wrong question. There`s a big difference between talking about the
troops and veterans as people and talking about military budget as a
military as forced levels and things like that as institutions which is
what Romney did there.

Well, here`s what he said about the military in convention speech
itself. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: His trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate
hundreds of thousands of jobs and also put our security at greater risk.

(BOOS)

ROMNEY: That America, that united America will preserve a military
that`s so strong no nation would ever test it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I tell you, I don`t get it sometimes, I think there`s a
real problem where that guy being president of the United States. I mean,
just in terms of the persona he presented. He`s not really human.

P.J. CROWLEY, RET. AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, he`s pulled out the
Reagan playbook, but it`s just not working 30 years later the way it did 30
years ago. He wants to add things back in without explaining, you know, he
wants hundred thousand more troops without explaining what they`ll do.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but Reagan, I give him credit here, which I often do,
he understood the importance of getting that salute right. He knew it was
important to recognize he was commander in chief, but connecting with the
people fighting the wars.

CROWLEY: That`s exactly right. But the difference is that Romney
has talking points on a briefing book. But you saw last night, the
president has really connected with the military as people, and in talking
about veterans in jobs, the work of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, you
know, he`s bridged this international and domestic divide in ways that --

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Because the idea of your first lady, the first lady, Dr.
Biden, the second lady, if you will, making a point of almost in a civil
war setting, you know, the women go out to clean barge, taking an interest
in mostly guys are getting injured badly, they`re killed and being out
there and addressing them as individuals that are important, years after
the battle.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: And that is what`s so unpleasant if you will
about Romney`s reply on FOX. Imagine here a troop in Afghanistan, you
know, it`s 110 degrees, walking around with a pack and weapon or imagine
you have a loved one who is and you hear him or hear referred to as a
laundry list. That`s a dehumanizing of what these people are doing. But
to Romney, it`s just another issue. I don`t need to deal with that issue
in this speech.

It`s not a laundry list. It`s human beings.

MATTHEWS: I remember the story, Super Bowl game and I`m watching the
pilots come over and they see the guy in the cockpit and it strikes you
that we all should remember that at any moment right now, no matter what
time of the day, in the East Coast here, across the country, there are
people on post in places like Afghanistan who are scared to death. They`re
out there in the dark. They don`t know what that sound was they just
heard. They`re trying to do their job and not get killed. They`re doing
it all for us.

CROWLEY: And the difference is Obama and Biden have been there with
the troops. Romney and Ryan have not.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Roger. It`s great to have you back
here. Stick around. P.J. Crowley, we like you here.

Up next, our HARDBALL picks for the best Charlotte convention
moments. You don`t want to miss this one. This is going to be easy. Yes,
it was fun down there.

Here were are in HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re getting the first indications of a poll bounce for
President Obama coming out of Charlotte. The Gallup daily tracking poll,
which is a week long average of voter opinions had been holding steady for
about a week with Obama up just one point. Today, that adds up to a three-
point lead. It`s now 48-45 Obama.

Well, the president`s approval rating has also gone up. That`s job
approval. He`s at 52 now, above the 50 percent mark, which is so key, 43
percent still disapprove of him.

And "Reuters"/Ipsos poll just came out with President Obama ahead by
two, 46-44. Romney had been up by a point or two in that one all week.

We`ll be right back. Things are looking up for Obama.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Democrats are flying high after one of the greatest conventions I`ve
seen. We`re taking a close look now at some of the best moments.
Actually, we`re going to take a look with our own Ron Reagan.

Ron, there you are. You watched this convention. Let`s watch some
of the best points together.

President Obama had the crowd going wild when he reminded America who
does sit in the oval office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I recognize that times
have changed since I first spoke to this convention. Times have changed
and so have I. I`m no longer just a candidate. I`m the president.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That moment, surrounded by a lot of people including a lot
of African-Americans, I got to tell you, there was so much pride and
defiance when he said that, when people said enough for this de-
legitimatization of this guy and all the birther crap. And he just said
it. Live with it. I`m president of the United States.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. There was a sort
of put up or shut up moment there, too, that was right around that time
when he started talking about foreign policy, and Mitt Romney going over to
England for instance. The mention of Beijing and how are you going to
negotiate with Beijing when you can`t visit an Olympics without insulting
our greatest ally, the United Kingdom there.

MATTHEWS: They also reestablished the special relationship. You
notice that? He reestablished England as our best ally.

Anyway, former President Bill Clinton was filled with great moments.
He pounded Republicans with a pointed substantive speech. Let`s watch a
bit of big Bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They want to go back to the
same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place. They want to
cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did.
They want to get rid of those pesky financial regulations design to prevent
another crash and prohibit future bailouts.

As another president once said, there they go again.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Did you like that, Mr. Reagan?

REAGAN: Yes, I liked that a lot. Bill Clinton does so many things
for the Obama/Biden ticket there. He`s a reminder of what happened the
last time a Democrat was in the White House financially, in terms of the
health of the country we did pretty well. He`s also a reminder of contrast
of the last time we had a Republican in the White House where we went off a
cliff.

He melds this substance with the sort of folksiness in a way that few
other politicians can do. There were more facts and figures in his speech
than perhaps any other speech at either convention. And he ad-libbed half
of it.

MATTHEWS: You know, he walks on to that stage with the confidence of
a guy going down in a refrigerator to make himself a late-night sandwich.

He`s so confident out there. The first lady stole the show on
Tuesday night with some heart felt stories about her husband. I like this
one. She talked about the president`s reaction late at night sometimes
near midnight he would read the letters from people with ordinary, very
real problems.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: I see the concern in his eyes, and
I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, you won`t believe
what these folks are going through, Michelle. It`s not right. We`ve got
to keep working to fix this. We`ve got so much more to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I believe her.

REAGAN: Yes. Best speech by a first lady I have ever seen. And,
you know, all due respect to my own mother and I haven`t reviewed all of
Eleanor Roosevelt`s remarks that she ever gave, but best speech by a first
lady I think I have ever seen. She humanizes and warms up President Obama.
You can see her as she just describes it, you can see him sitting at the
desk worrying about ordinary people.

Ann Romney gave a nice talk about her own husband as well. But I got
the feeling -- and I don`t want to knock Ann Romney. That was all fine.
But you get the feeling with Barack and Michelle Obama, when they`re
talking about their lives together, they actually did live the American
dream. Ann and Mitt Romney don`t seem to appreciate the fact they had the
American dream handed to them.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Either way, neither of these first lady nor the
candidate for first lady can sing like your mom can. They can`t sing
"Second Hand Rose" like she did.

REAGAN: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who survived an
assassination attempt just a year and a half ago took the stage to recite
the Pledge of Allegiance. It was -- well, what a moment. Let`s watch.

REAGAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: There it is. We`re just showing a picture of it. That
captures it pretty well.

Let`s go on to other things. I want to look at the whole -- we`ll
look at that for just a minute -- what a moment.

Let`s look at some powerful rallying cries we heard the other night.
A Democratic leader`s got off the bench for once, get out in the playing
fields, the president`s allies. And they showed they can be team members
and fight for him and help him win this November.

I was so taken with some of these speeches, they were so good out
there in Charlotte. Let`s watch some of them.

REAGAN: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is the president who
ended don`t ask don`t tell so that love of country, not love of another,
determines fitness for service.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), IL CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama has
also lived up to his responsibilities as commander in chief. Ending the
war in Iraq, refocusing on Afghanistan, and eradicating terrorist leaders
including bin Laden.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO, IL: Where Mitt Romney was willing
to turn his back on Akron, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio, the president said
I`ve got your back.

MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO, TX: Seven presidents before
him Republicans and Democrats tried to expand health care to all Americans.
President Obama got it done.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: Ron, this is what I`ve wanted to see for months now, real
confederates in the field, great speakers, strong cases for the president.

REAGAN: You know, you and I have been having these conversations
since the 2000 election cycle. I`ve always been saying the same thing.
The Democrats have to take the gloves off and put the wood to the
Republicans. Really go after them. And they did it this time, finally.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great to have you on, Ron Reagan. Have a nice
weekend.

REAGAN: You bet.

MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with a trio of good things I
noticed in Charlotte.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Obviously my main interest in the convention just held in Charlotte
is political. I noticed a trio of very good things down there.

First and foremost, I saw a good number of politicians speaking out
for the president. My favorite examples were Governor Deval Patrick and
Senator John Kerry, both of Massachusetts. Both were excellent. They
delivered barnburners for the president. He should have them burning for
the president from here to November. They should be swarming the country
with the good word on Obama.

Second, I heard the president make clear that he and not the other
guy is president. Mitt Romney has been counting on the president to be
vulnerable. He`s been counting on the American presidency to be
vulnerable, and for him the challenger to be in the catbird seat.

It doesn`t look that way last night. In fact, last night, President
Obama made clear that being president is not only a big deal but a much
bigger deal than being a challenger who would like to be a president. I am
the president -- I consider it the best line of the night.

Third, President Obama asked people to vote for him. Now, this is
something you need to hear directly. A person wants your vote, he should
ask for it. It`s something I learned for working for Tip O`Neill all those
many years.

Well, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.


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