September 19, 2012
Guests: Cynthia Tucker, John Feehery, Chuck Schumer, Dana Milbank, Shira Toeplitz
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: The Tin Man.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in sunny Philadelphia.
"Let Me Start" with this rare moment when you get to look behind the
curtain. Remember in "The Wizard of Oz," when we saw the man actually
doing the talking? Well, this is the week when we heard from the real
Willard of Oz, Mitt Romney. Pay no attention to the man behind the
curtain, we`re told, but how can we ignore the real Willard who says half
the country, the country he wants to run, is filled with beggars --
beggars, moochers, loafers, looters, people who don`t work, don`t want to
work, want the better-off half to give them breakfast in bed.
That Willard of Oz is the man we want to talk about tonight because
he`s one, the real Willard, who wants the people to give him control of the
country. And that`s our topic tonight, the man behind the curtain who
thinks "compassionate conservativism" is yesterday`s magic act and wants to
crack down on the little people big-time -- or at least that`s the way he
talks when he`s fobbing (ph) for money down in tony Boca Raton.
Howard Fineman is the editorial director for the Huffing Post and an
MSNBC political analyst and Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning
But first, we got brand-new poll numbers nationally. Let`s check the
Here it is. According to a new Pew poll, President Obama has an 8-
point lead national over Mitt Romney among likely voters, 51 to 43.
I want to start with Howard on that very point. Howard, is this real,
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, it could be. And I think it`s significant that it`s likely voters.
What`s happening now, Chris, is that some of the news organizations and
polling organizations are starting to go from registered voters to likely
voters, to people who are motivated.
And I think while there were concerns earlier this year about whether
the President Obama`s supporters were motivated, whether they were
encouraged, whether they were excited, either by positive news or fear, I
think they`re motivated. If they weren`t motivated before, watching that
Mitt Romney video will sure motivate President Obama`s supporters.
So if it`s likely voters, maybe it`s accurate.
MATTHEWS: Yes. People don`t do their best work when they`re being
dumped on. What do you think, Cynthia? First, we got to get to that poll
number, which is to me staggering, 8-point lead now bouncing out of the
convention, but not showing yet in this particular poll the effects of that
terrible recording we all got of Mitt Romney behind the door.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Indeed. And that`s what`s so
remarkable about it. You know, I`m not sure I believe that the president
has an 8-point lead nationwide. But what this poll does is track other
polls that show Obama has been building a lead over Mitt Romney ever since
the conventions and even a little bit before.
You know, the fall is when the campaign gets real, and this was the
time that Mitt Romney fully expected he would engage, he would start using
all that money to run all those nasty ads, and this would be the moment
when he would -- the race would certainly show him in a more favorable
Instead, he`s had one disastrous gaffe after another. His convention
wasn`t that great to start with. The Democrats had a much better
convention. And I think the poll numbers are showing all of that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, well, let`s take a look. By the way, this poll that
shows Romney down to 43 -- and the Pew poll is a good poll -- was taken
before they got a look at the terrible tape of what Romney really thinks
about that 47 percent that might be voting for Obama.
Anyway, let`s take a look at that famous scene in "The Wizard of Oz"
when the curtain is pulled back and we see who`s calling the shots. Let`s
take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you were really great and powerful, you`d
keep your promises!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you presume to criticize the great Oz? You
ungrateful creatures! Think yourselves lucky that I`m giving you audience
tomorrow instead of 20 years from now!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great Oz has spoken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!
The great Oz has spoken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I -- I am the great and powerful wizard of Oz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, that is the way this thing strikes me for the first
time. We`ve all known that politicians have a secret life behind the
scenes where they talk frankly and oftentimes too candidly about what they
think of the voters who may be against them, the people on the other side
I think this is maybe the first time we`ve really gotten, you know, an
unscrubbed, uncleaned-up, uncosmetized look at Romney.
FINEMAN: Well, first let me say that that`s every reporter-to-be`s
favorite scene, when the curtain is pulled back. Cynthia would probably
agree with me. We love to see the curtains pulled back.
And it`s a product of the modern age, Chris. It was a -- you know,
every phone is a -- every phone is a -- is a video camera. Every
videocamera is high-def. This was supposedly off the record. This is
probably as close to a real Romney as we`re going to get, although I have
to say, I question -- you can even question his sincerity there. But if he
isn`t being who he is among people who are like him, at what he thought was
a closed, private event, then what else can we think is the real Romney?
And I think people can -- and in this viral age -- this was a viral
video all across the Web and social media. People can look for themselves.
They can decide for themselves. They can look at this thing and look at
Mitt Romney in the raw, so to speak, politically. And what they saw --
whatever the commentator said -- is more powerful, what the people
themselves have seen. And what they see, I`m guessing, they don`t like.
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, take a look at this new ad that Democrats have
already got out there. They`re using that 47 percent line from Romney
against him in a new Priorities USA ad set to run in swing states. Watch
it and tell me what you think of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind these doors, Mitt Romney calls half the
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: -- dependent up
government, who believe that they`re victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Victims? Behind these doors, middle class
families struggle, and Romney will make things even tougher, raising taxes
by up to $2,000 to give multi-millionaires a $250,000 tax break.
ROMNEY: I`ll never convince them that they should take personal
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mitt Romney will never convince us he`s on our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, your thoughts on that.
TUCKER: Well, this was a huge gift to the Obama campaign, obviously.
You know, Romney was already struggling with the perception that he did not
relate to ordinary working Americans.
This is a guy who is fantastically wealthy, and he grew up wealthy.
You know, he`s not somebody who struggled from a poor or even working-class
childhood. He grew up in an affluent bubble. And he has struggled to
persuade ordinary Americans that he relates to people like them, that he
understands their struggles.
And this -- his comments, his condescending, dismissive attitude
toward half the country plays right into that narrative. So it is very
hard for him to now say -- to go out on the campaign trail and say, No, no,
I do care about ordinary folks who`ve fallen on hard times through no fault
of their own.
He sent his poor wife out on the campaign trail to claim these
comments were taken out of context. No, they weren`t. As Howard said,
people are able to listen for themselves at a very rich man, a man, again,
who grew up wealthy, being very dismissive of half the country. And it...
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at...
TUCKER: -- right into that narrative.
MATTHEWS: -- because that same Pew poll -- Cynthia, that same Pew
poll makes the very point you`re just making. It shows that two thirds of
registered voters choosing Barack Obama as the candidate who connects
better with ordinary people. Look at that, 23 percent chose Mitt Romney as
the candidate best connects. That`s less than a quarter. Howard, that is
I want Howard -- and you, Cynthia -- now to look at something, light-
hearted, you might say, disrespectful, but a light-hearted comment by
George W. Bush, the last Republican president, about the super-rich. Here
he is sort of -- in a way, sort of parodying the way that Romney actually
talks. This was back in October of 2000, when then-governor George W. Bush
joked about the haves and the have-mores at the Al Smith dinner. Let`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is an impressive
crowd, the haves and the have-mores.
BUSH: Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, two points. One, he was making fun of that kind of
elitist attitude. He wasn`t absorbing it or accepting it. Second thing,
at least George W. Bush -- not to praise him too highly -- did believe in
compassionate conservativism. He did get prescription drugs for people
that needed them who are retired, a very group, by the way, that Romney
seems to be mocking as part of his 47 percent. And he did do that great
work against AIDS in Africa.
Is compassionate conservativism, even as a phrase, dead on the right?
FINEMAN: Well, it certainly seemed to be at that fund-raiser in
Florida. And the interesting thing to me is that early on -- and I`ve
covered supply-siders and their theories from the beginning, Chris -- they
argued back in the day, back in Ronald Reagan`s day, that supply-side
economics would lift people out of poverty, that it was good for all of
And I`m willing to grant that they believed it when they said it. It
wasn`t a dodge to them, or at least to all of them, or even most of them.
What was so interesting about and compelling about the Romney video is
that he makes no pretense to claim that tax cuts can help poor people. He
basically says, It`s not -- we can`t -- he says, We can`t sell it to them,
and beyond that, he seems to think that it`s irrelevant to the lives of the
very people that the supply-siders back in the day claimed that they most
wanted to help.
That`s what gave power to Ronald Reagan`s version of supply-side
economics. He was able to argue, at least, and I think sincerely, that it
would help all of America. Mitt Romney behind closed doors made no such
attempt to sugar-coat it in any way. He said, Look, we want tax cuts...
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the...
MATTHEWS: -- here he is again trying to clean up for it, Howard and
Cynthia. Today in Atlanta, Mitt Romney argued he would help the poor and
the middle class. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: This is how America works! It does not work by a government
saying, Become dependent on government, become dependent upon
redistribution. That will kill the American entrepreneurship that`s lifted
our economy over the years! The question of this campaign is not who cares
about the poor and the middle class. I do. He does. The question is, who
can help the poor and the middle class? I can. He can`t! He`s proven it
in four years!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Spoken like a man born on third base. You know, given his
name, his prominence, his wealth, given his education, prep school, and on
to the Ivy League, a man who doesn`t like redistribution unless it comes
from within the family, apparently.
Your thoughts, Cynthia?
TUCKER: Well, that`s part of Mitt Romney`s problem, Chris. You
nailed it. He grew up in an affluent bubble. It`s not a question of
whether he cares about the poor or the middle class. I`m not sure Mitt
Romney ever gave the middle class or the poor a second thought.
He hasn`t known any average Americans. He grew up, went to a toney
private school, went to Brigham Young and then off to Harvard, and then to
Bain and Company, the management consulting firm. Not many average working
So he simply hasn`t known ordinary Americans who fail through no fault
of their own because the plant closed, who go bankrupt because they got
sick and couldn`t pay their health care bills. He doesn`t know people like
And he has a very hard time, I think, imagining that there are people
out there like that, and it shows. If you`re not rich, by golly, it must
be your own fault.
FINEMAN: Chris, I...
TUCKER: That is what has replaced compassionate conservativism.
MATTHEWS: I got to go now. I`m sorry, both of you, I`ve got to go.
But let me tell you something. I thought when Paul Ryan, his chosen
running mate, had to come out today and say he`s inarticulate as a defense
-- boy, that guy`s jumping ship, isn`t he?
Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman and thank you, Cynthia Tucker.
FINEMAN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Great to have you on.
Coming up: What do Mark McKinnon, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum and
Peggy Noonan all have in common? They`re Republican partisans who think
Mitt Romney is blowing it, and they`re saying so in public. The Republican
crack-up -- boy, they are jumping ship.
Also, remember that great "SNL" segment in which the Michael Dukakis
character says of George Herbert Walker Bush, I can`t believe I`m losing to
this guy? Well, that`s how Republicans feel about President Obama, but
they`re wrong. And that may be because -- well, we`ll talk about it. They
think he`s a foreign-born socialist Muslim, America-hating whatever.
That`s the way they look at him in the fever swamps of their GOP minds.
Anyway, they`re not losing, thank God, because that guy doesn`t exist.
Anyway, Clint Eastwood, by the way, answered the question everyone`s
been asking since his convention performance. What was he thinking? He
blames it all on Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: If somebody`s dumb enough to ask me
to go to a political convention and say something, you know, they`re going
to have to take what they get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And that somebody dumb enough was the candidate, Mitt
Romney, believe it or not. He`s putting him down, too. Anyway, that`s
going to be in the "Sideshow."
"Let Me Finish" tonight with Mitt Romney`s redefining of the word
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, we`ve got a slew of new polls from battleground
states across the country. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
First to Virginia, where a "New York Times"/CBS/Quinnipiac poll finds
President Obama with a 4-point lead now over Mitt Romney, about the same
In Wisconsin, the same poll shows the president leading by 6, 51-45.
That`s important, given Paul Ryan`s on the ticket. And in Colorado, the
poll has Obama with a smaller lead -- always tricky now, that state, why is
Colorado tricky? -- 48-47, that close.
Finally, to Pennsylvania with new Muhlenberg College/"Morning Call"
poll has President Obama up by 9, 50-41.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the flood gates have
opened. Criticism of the Romney campaign by his fellow Republicans is
growing louder and fiercer since Romney`s "caught on tape" comments on that
47 percent came to light Monday.
Well, here was Republican strategist Mark McKinnon this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: What we`re seeing is an
increasing problem of him being able to connect with voters in a sense that
he understands and shares their values and concerns. And that gap`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Uber-conservative Charles Krauthammer, who has defended
Romney in the past, ripped into his comments last night on Fox. Let`s take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: He said
these are people who consider themselves victims. Now, that`s not a very
smart thing to say. It`s not even accurate. And you don`t win an election
by disparaging just about half of the electorate. So simply as a matter of
appealing to the electorate, the way he put it was about the worst possible
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, former George W. Bush speech writer David Frum wrote
this in the DailyBeast today. Quote, "Mitt Romney has just committed the
worst presidential candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that
there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe." Well, that`s a standard
And Peggy Noonan had this to say. Quote, "It`s time to admit the
Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It`s not big. It`s not brave.
It`s not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It`s always been too small
for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should
be pushing for change. People want to focus on who is at the top -- who at
the top is least constructive or most responsible. Fine. But Mitt
Romney`s no puppet. He chooses who to listen to. An intervention is in
order. Mitt, this isn`t working."
There`s plenty more where those thoughts come from. Ed Rendell`s the
former governor of Pennsylvania and an MSNBC political analyst and John
Feehery`s a Republican strategist. First, gentlemen, thank you.
Governor first, and then John. Are the criticisms accurate from a
political partisan point of view? Are they hitting the truth about what
Romney`s been caught doing here?
ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOVERNOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
absolutely. First of all, they weren`t accurate. Of those 70 million
Americans that don`t pay federal income tax, 42 million work, and many of
them work in two or three jobs and make less than $19,000.
Can you say, Chris, that those people don`t accept personal
responsibility, working two or three jobs just to feed their families? So
they`re inaccurate, they`re insensitive, they`re almost callous in the
disregard for the American people.
It is just a stunning statement. And those commentators among the
Republican Party got it right. I mean, I`m not sure it`s retrievable at
MATTHEWS: Let me go to John on that.
John, as a political partisan, do you think that what is being said by
the smart people in the party is accurate, not whether they should say it
or not, but is it accurate about Romney?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Let me say this. We got them
right where we want them now.
FEEHERY: The fact of the matter is that...
FEEHERY: The fact is that the question -- the point on the 47 percent
I think was the wrong point to make. If you`re running for president, you
have to get as many votes as you can.
A lot of those in 47 percent are people who want to vote for Mitt
Romney. What they need from Mitt Romney is a practical plan. How are you
going to fix this economy? I like the campaign. I like the people in the
campaign. But I think they`re way too ideological.
I think what people are practical solutions. They don`t want an
ideological debate. They need some plans.
MATTHEWS: Let me give you a practical bit of advice, Governor Romney.
You haven`t asked for it, but here`s the thought.
I looked at a recent poll and found that if it weren`t for people 65
and older, you would be losing. So your bulk of your support, and the only
real margin of your support is older people. Now you come out in public
now because this tape has gotten out saying you trashed people who are
retired, people on Social Security, on Medicare. You`re trashing them.
The very people who are your margin of success, you`re dumping on now.
Why did you do it?
Anyway, many Republicans seem to be growing tired of defending their
candidate. When asked what politician would write off so many potential
voters, as Romney has done here, former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis, a
smart guy, who`s a Romney supporter, told Politico -- quote -- "No one with
any political instincts. He need to be scripted the rest of the campaign.
He`s a CEO, not a political animal."
And Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina, had some advice
for Romney, who spent yesterday fund-raising in Utah. Senator Graham said
-- quote -- "He needs to be talking about the economy, and not in Utah.
He`s not going to get beat because of money. He ought to be running in
Ohio and Florida, like he`s running for governor and running in Virginia
like he`s running for sheriff."
Governor -- Governor Rendell, it seems like Romney is back doing what
he did in the primaries, going out to bankroll himself so he can do one of
those Dresden-style bombing campaigns he did on his opponents to win back
then. In other words, don`t sell yourself. Spend money destroying your
RENDELL: But it won`t work, Chris, because President Obama is a known
commodity. And the American people either like him, think he`s done a good
job, or don`t like him.
I don`t think that a television bombing campaign is going to work.
And I think John`s advice is right. Is this retrievable? It`s almost to
the point where it isn`t, in my judgment. It`s almost to the point where
Republicans like Scott Brown and Linda McMahon Congressman Heller in Nevada
are going to just say forget about the top of the ticket, vote for me.
They will cut him loose.
But if it`s retrievable at all, it has to be -- they have to do what
John says. They have to talk about concrete examples. This is now -- I
think if the Pew poll is anywhere close to right and he`s eight points down
nationally, it`s time to throw caution to the wind, get out there and
specify what you`re going to do.
Give the American people concrete plans. See if it works.
RENDELL: You have got nothing to lose. If it doesn`t work, you will
lose -- at this point, looks like you`re going to lose anyway. So, go out
there and do what you believe in and spell it out.
FEEHERY: You know...
MATTHEWS: Remember the old cartoon -- you know the old cartoon where
the Lone Ranger is surrounded by Indians and he says to Tonto, we`re
surrounded by Indians. And Tonto`s character says, what you mean, pale
face? You`re surrounded.
MATTHEWS: Here, just like that, you know you`re in trouble when your
best defense your running mate can offer is this. He says, you`re
Listen to what Paul Ryan said in an interview with a local Nevada
station about Romney`s 47 percent rant. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was obviously
inarticulate in making this point. And the point we`re trying to make here
is under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic
stagnation is up.
QUESTION: Do you think Governor Romney regrets saying what he did?
RYAN: Oh, I think he would have said it differently, that`s for sure.
But the point still stands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there you go. John, what do you say when your vice
presidential running mate, the Sir Galahad you brought into the campaign
with you, starts saying that you`re inarticulate.
Just a thought. What do you think?
FEEHERY: Well, I think that Paul Ryan is a smart guy, and I think he
said what he had to say, which was the candidate has to straighten up. He
has got to get his words better. He has got to connect better with voters.
He`s got to get the CEO hat off and he`s got to run like a politician.
He`s not really run like a politician.
Sometimes, he speaks the truth too close to the bone. He`s got to be
more political in his language. And as the governor said, he has got to
connect better with voters, especially in Ohio. I don`t think this is
irretrievable. I think he can still win. And I think we got three debates
where he can lay out his vision, but he`s got to get on it, and he`s got to
be much more practical and much less ideological if he wants to win this
RENDELL: But, Chris, I would quarrel with John about...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
RENDELL: -- just about one thing.
And that is, the Republicans are trying to spin this that Governor
Romney misspoke or he did a bad choice of words. I think we got a very
unusual view at the very soul of what he believes as a political person.
And that is that 47 percent of the country are users, are takers.
And, of course, he`s wrong on the facts. But I think he believes that to
be the case. And he believes maybe they think they`re victims and they
suck the blood out of the government.
That`s not the case. There are so many people in that 47 percent who,
given the least bit of opportunity, are going to go out there and do great
things for this country. I think we saw a very -- look into his political
soul, and it wasn`t a very good look.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I remember -- remember, Governor, John Kennedy saying,
life is unfair and everybody knows that. Everybody knows life is unfair,
that some are born with assets others are never going to see in their life.
And to make an assumption everybody got an equal chance at the
starting gate and those who fumbled it didn`t make a lot of money like he
did are bad people is not going to be a popular presidential candidate.
Thank you very much, Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania for all
those wonderful years.
And, John Feehery, good start tonight. You`re learning.
MATTHEWS: Up next: You knew it was coming. Mitt Romney`s secretly
recorded videotape gets on "Jon Stewart" and "Colbert." They`re going
after him with their treatment.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Hey, did you see
Mitt Romney on "Live With Kelly and Michael" today? They asked Mitt who he
would like to play him in a movie.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My favorite actor is Gene
Hackman. So I would like Gene Hackman.
Well, after seeing that, Gene Hackman did a screen test. He`s a
perfect Mitt Romney. Here, take a look.
GENE HACKMAN, ACTOR: As it turns out, I have this affinity for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Of course, that was Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in "Superman."
Now the late-night reaction to Mitt Romney in that secret video. Roll
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The big rollout
of Romney 9.0 started yesterday.
STEWART: How did the reboot go? Yes, the Romney campaign`s reboot
was spoiled by footage from last May of Governor Romney at a $50,000-a-
plate fund-raiser talking to rich people about poorer people in a manner
you would imagine cartoon rich people talk about cartoon poorer people.
ROMNEY: There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon
government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government
has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they`re entitled
to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Release the hounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Mitt nailed it. Obama
supporters are nothing but lazy parasites. Get a job!
COLBERT: Get this. The 47 percent who don`t pay federal income tax
are mostly elderly, children and the working poor, and U.S. military
personnel deployed in war zones who are exempt from paying federal taxes on
See, Romney mentioned the troops in a speech.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I bet there will be more of that -- more where that came
from once "Saturday Night Live" gets into it.
Now for a questionable casting job. I`m talking about an ad from Andy
Barr. He`s a Kentucky Republican running for Congress against incumbent
Democrat Ben Chandler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama, Ben Chandler and the EPA are destroying us.
They`re putting the coal industry out of business. And it`s just
This is our way of life. It means jobs for people around here, good-
paying jobs. And Ben Chandler, he doesn`t even care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So why is that ad facing a backlash?
Well, the man doing all the talking in that ad happens to be a coal
company executive who`s donated thousands of dollars to Republican
candidates, not a coal miner, as the overalls and hardhat would suggest.
Barr`s campaign points out that the executive, Heath Lovell, worked in
the mines as a teenager. But that didn`t pass muster with the regional
V.P. of the Mine Workers union, who said -- quote -- "I have never seen
anything so appalling and deceitful from the coal industry and in a
campaign. You have a pencil-pusher acting like a coal miner."
Well, the title of the ad, "Devastating."
Finally, Clint Eastwood is on a publicity stint for his new movie,
"Trouble With the Curve," but the question that keeps coming up to him is
about his convention performance in Tampa, of course, the one with the
Here he is in an interview with "Extra."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EXTRA")
CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: People loved it or hated it. And
that`s fine. That`s what it was supposed to be.
I just was having fun. You figure if someone`s asked you to go to --
if somebody is dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and
say something, you know, they`re going to have to take what they get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And the person who was -- quote -- "dumb enough" -- close
quote -- to give him a speaking slot? Well, that would be Mitt Romney.
That`s not exactly a ringing endorsement of his candidate.
Up next: Republicans can`t believe they`re losing to Barack Obama.
And maybe that`s because the Barack Obama they think they`re running
against doesn`t exist. And that`s ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
TYLER MATHISEN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Tyler Mathisen with your CNBC
Slight gains, really slight, for stocks, the Dow up about 13, the S&P
higher by two. The Nasdaq added about five.
On the economic front, existing home sales up a big 7.8 percent last
month. That`s the fastest pace in more than two years. Ground-breakings
on new homes also higher.
Meanwhile, oil prices slid more than 3 percent after crude stockpiles
rose more than expected.
And Facebook continues to climb, lookie here, rising more than 6
percent today, trading above $23 a share.
That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide -- now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Though I often
disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way
the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president and
a lot of other Democrats.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s so sharp these days.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was the game-changer, Bill Clinton. He got right to the heart of
it at the Democratic National Convention. Republicans have created a
mythical Obama out there so that they can delegitimize, vilify and hate
Among other untruths they circulate about the president, they say he`s
a socialist, that he wasn`t born in America, that he`s a Muslim. And,
unfortunately, some of those lies seep into the American consciousness. A
Pew poll this summer showed that less than half of Americans say Obama is
Christian, 17 percent say incorrectly he`s Muslim, 31 percent say they
And according to a PPP poll in the crucial swing state of Ohio -- I
have said this before -- 37 percent of the Republican voters don`t believe
the president was born here.
Republicans have had to stitch together a false Obama so they can hate
Joining me right now is New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
They have turned him into a pinata, Senator, something they can bang
away at. And now they`re going after this redistribution phrase. They
have dug it up from 14 years ago.
What is wrong, by the way, with redistribution? I think that`s what
we do every time we help anybody out.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, first, it shows how
desperate they are to come up with the tape. They have probably had it in
their back pocket. It didn`t just pop up.
But they`re trying to change the subject. It`s not working. We
should ask them, is it redistributionist to support the EITC originated by
President Ford and expanded by President Reagan? How about giving a
veteran who`s wounded disability benefits? Is that redistribution?
How about Social Security? Is that redistributionist? I mean, they
just have to come up with slogans because they can`t argue on the merits.
And the problem is, when you can`t argue what you really believe on the
merits, you slip up. And that`s what we saw Romney do the other day.
MATTHEWS: It reminded me of Jimmy Carter, who I worked for, going
back after Reagan about something he said about Medicare back in the early
`60s. And Reagan said, "There you go again."
Anyway, the Romney campaign did dig dug up a 14-year-old audio clip of
then state Senator Barack Obama speaking publicly, nothing secret here --
it wasn`t like that Boca Raton thing -- at a conference on Chicago research
and public policy about the role of government.
Let`s listen to 14 years ago.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), THEN-ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: I think that what
we`re going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government
action can be effective at all.
There has been a systematic, I don`t think it`s too strong to call it
a propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its
efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. Chicago Housing
Authority has not been a model of good policy-making, and neither,
necessarily, have been the Chicago public schools.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there he is, the state senator, a liberal state
senator, pointing out deficiencies of government when it doesn`t work.
Good critique here.
SCHUMER: You bet.
MATTHEWS: And here`s the part that Romney -- they love in this.
They jumped on it, ignoring all the other, with that government reform and
the need for it, acknowledging the shortcomings of government and how
agencies are run that way. Romney -- here in the case Obama uses the word
redistribution to advocate for fairness.
Let`s listen to the part Republicans love.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: My suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick -- and this
is one of the few areas where I think there are technical issues that have
to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues. I think the trick is
figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources
and, hence, facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in
redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody`s
got a shot.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The Romney campaign, of course, thinks they struck gold
with that, Senator. We have a 14-year-old comment, and a press conference
called this afternoon, RNC chair Reince Priebus called it, quote,
"outrageous". Of course, he`s the Obama -- the Romney campaign`s mini me
on these subjects.
Your thoughts, Senator?
SCHUMER: It`s not going to resonate with the American people. We
should ask them, a Social Security redistributionist? How about graduated
income tax? Some of the hard right people in New Yorkers are against
graduated income tax. They want to go back to the 1800s where the wealthy
paid the same rate as the poor.
It`s just not going to work. I`ll tell you what`s happening. Romney
is bringing the entire Republican ticket down. One of the reasons that our
Senate numbers have gone up in the last few weeks is distaste for Romney
and this kind of attack politics without being able to say what he`s really
Today, you had Scott Brown, not even admitting that he would endorse
Romney. Mitch McConnell at a press conference said -- and weekly press
conference didn`t even take questions because he would have been asked
about the 47 percent.
SCHUMER: Three Republican candidates denounced what Romney said.
So, he`s taking the whole ticket down. And until -- their problem is
-- everyone`s saying, be specific. If they were specific, they would have
to show what they really believe. And what they really believe, being hard
right, is so far away from the American people that they know they`d lose,
so they`re trying to speak about things they don`t believe or coming up
with these red herrings. But it just doesn`t work, because as Bill
Clinton, who you showed before, said, what`s going to determine this
election is who can do better for your future.
And Barack Obama is laying that out. They`re calling him names that
don`t stick because they have no basis in fact.
MATTHEWS: There they go again. Anyway, thank you, Senator Chuck
Schumer of New York.
Joining me right now is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson.
Gene, thanks so much for joining us.
All right. Put this in perspective -- why are we all of a sudden
hearing about a 14-year-old audiotape of an event held in public out in
Chicago? Nothing secret about it, nothing Boca Raton about this.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: I`m sure that the campaign
probably had this under glass. You know, when in danger, when in trouble,
break glass and pull the lever. So, they brought it out now because
Romney`s in trouble.
It`s very clear, just from the polling, from the reaction to the 47
percent speech that -- so whatever they got, I think they`re going to pull
out and use.
MATTHEWS: This idea that Obama`s in trouble because he does believe
in some redistribution. Well, the Medicare, with drugs, prescription
drugs, that`s redistribution. Head Start is some redistribution. Paying
policeman in a tough neighborhood to deal with bad guys, that`s some
Every time a dollar is passed from one person to another, that`s
redistribution. What is he -- why is he consider this like I am a
communist kind of talk?
ROBINSON: Well, the Republicans have tried to equate redistribution,
that word, with communism, socialism, you know, Lenin, whatever. If you
actually look -- listen to the quote, so that everyone has a shot. That`s
the part that Americans all agree with, that everybody ought to have a
shot. And everyone ought to have a fair shot.
And I think all but the what Senator Schumer called the hard right,
and I would tend to agree, would say that that`s a goal and that`s
something government can facilitate. To the extent that this clip even
resonates at all, because it`s, frankly, 14 years old and if you take it in
context, it says what I think what most people believe.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s some thinking. All right. We don`t have
time to show it. I`ll get to it later to show. I think this judge in
Lubbock, Texas, his commentary on what`s going on in this country is real,
and it`s scary and it`s far right.
Anyway, Gene Robinson, thanks so much.
Up next, Todd Akin staying in that race out in Missouri, believe it
or not. He`s in there to stay despite the Republican Party`s efforts to
get him out, to shoo him away.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Lots of new polls and hot Senate races around the country.
Let`s check the HARDBAL scoreboard.
According to a new poll from WBUR, Elizabeth Warren is leading
incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown by five, 45 to 40 among likely
Massachusetts voters. That`s one of many recent polls we`ve had showing
Warren with the lead.
Down in Virginia, a new "Washington Post" poll shows Democrat Tim
Kaine with an eight-point lead over Republican George Allen. That`s the
strongest he`s looked down there, Tim Kaine, 51-43, in the old dominion.
By the way, same score, "New York Times"/CBS/Quinnipiac poll where
Kaine`s lead is seven.
Finally to Connecticut, where Democrat Chris Murphy leads former pro-
wrestling executive Linda McMahon, 37 to 33. A lot of votes not counted
Anyway, we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
There was a time when Republicans thought they had the inside track
in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. One of their sure things was
beating Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Then, Todd Akin won the
Republican primary. He started talking about legitimate rape and his poll
Now, despite the Republican Party`s best efforts, Todd Akin is
staying in that race. So how is he doing?
This is what Akin`s Web site looked like yesterday morning. It said
"I am a women." That`s how they pronounced and that`s how they spelled it.
I am a women, plural, for Todd Akin. And one woman there is a Democratic
tracker. She has been following the campaign for Claire McCaskill for
Here`s what the Republican replace it with. It says "Missouri women
standing with Todd Akin." Well, there they are standing, but there`s no
Todd Akin in that picture, who is not even pictured.
With me now is the "Washington Post`s" Dana Milbank and "Roll Call`s"
This is really interesting. First to you, Dana. I love your column
in "The Post", because you have an attitude that`s very similar to mine
about some of these people.
Why is this guy still able to walk before a camera and say I want to
be a United States senator?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: First of all, I love the idea he has
Democratic woman in his campaign photo there because, of course, Democrats
are the one most enthusiastic about him remaining in the race, because he
is the one likeliest to hand the seat right back to them.
You know this is maybe the luckiest man alive because he had this
horrible scandal, looked like he was going down, then the conventions came
and now Mitt Romney`s in trouble. You know what? That`s the bigger
distraction for the Republicans than what`s happening in Missouri. All
eyes are off.
And the Democrats are laying low, they don`t want to bring this thing
up again until they hit 25th when he has to stay on the ballot, then all
kinds of hell is going to be unleashed on him.
MATTHEWS: Sure. Just to remind everybody, this is a guy who speaks
in a way so condescending toward women that even he seems to be suggesting
a woman who has to go through the hell of reporting not only going through
a rape, which has been in the past a capital crime, but then has to report
it to the police with all the data involved saying that that woman is
somehow to be suspected on the face of it, because only legitimate rape
should be talked about, not those other kind, those other great oceans of
That guy is still in the race when he thinks like that about people
who make up more than half the electorate, the women?
SHIRA TOEPLITZ, ROLL CALL: Well, he is still in the race because he
won the primary. Republicans had other choices in the primary. It was a
three-way race and he won it. And he can continue to stay on the ballot.
The official date is the 25th. That`s Tuesday as you mentioned, but
actually it might be a few days earlier than that because officials need to
start printing military ballots so the clock is winding down and we have
had no indication. We`ve talked to his aides today. "Roll Call" talked to
his aides today, Todd Akin is staying in the race. He`s not getting out.
MATTHEWS: What role has Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican
Party, play in this? Had there been any effort from the leadership, from
Cornyn down to the head of the Senate Campaign Committee? Had they really
tried to shoo him out of this race or not?
TOEPLITZ: They did everything they could, which was pull the money,
right? National Republicans, John Cornyn, the NRSC, even Crossroads pulled
their ad buys initially after Todd Akin made those comments that you talked
TOEPLITZ: National Republicans, John Cornyn, Senatorial Committee,
says they are going to stay out of the road, Crossroads says they`re going
to stay out of the race. I find it hard to believe national Republicans
would consider going back into the race given how much Todd Akin has now
stirred against him, the bad things he said about them to try to raise
MATTHEWS: Imagine something that smells so bad that Karl Rove gets
away from it.
Anyway, once struggling Senator Claire McCaskill is now ahead in the
Missouri Senate race. She leads Akin by five points.
Dana, that is not exactly a badge of honor, to only be beating that
political skunk by five points. This guy is just unacceptable nationally
and she`s only got five on him. What are these people down in Missouri
MILBANK: What I think is going on here, Chris, is McCaskill has not
about making a big issue of this as I was saying because --
MATTHEWS: I see.
MILBANK: -- of all people, she wants him to remain in this race
until there is no possibility of him being replaced on the ballot. And
thanks to Newt Gingrich getting him money, sending him staffers. It does
look like he is going to stay in the race. After that is when the barrage
takes place, and I think that`s win see those poll numbers diverge again.
You know, we`re not talking about --
MATTHEWS: So, here`s what Todd Akin`s wife Lilly -- here`s what his
wife said in an interview with the "National Journal" this weekend about
pressuring her husband to get out of the race. Quote, "Party bosses
dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the
decision is just like 1776 in that colonists rose up and said, `Not in my
home. You don`t come in and rape my daughters and my wife.` But there
they go again."
I mean, what do you make of this, Shira, that she is using the word
"rape", which got her husband in the trouble he`s in?
TOEPLITZ: I make of it that they are not backing down. I mean, Todd
Akin, at first, he kind of apologized for his comments, but then he said
I`m staying in the race, he stood by them. I think by very virtue of
staying in the race, he is in a way, kind of sticking by them.
Look, this Senate race is still going to be a little bit competitive.
So, Claire McCaskill is ahead by five points, as you mentioned, that`s
because the president is so unpopular in Missouri, right? The presidential
MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks so much, Dana Milbank and, thank you, Shira
Toeplitz, for joining us from "Roll Call".
When we return, let me finish with Mitt Romney redefining that word
"redistribution". It`s a terrible word.
You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with that word "redistribution," you
know the word Mitt Romney has grabbed onto and chewing on like his dog,
Seamus, with a new bone. Bad word, he says, bad, bad, bad.
So, when we get a Social Security check, that`s -- oh, my God,
redistribution. Somebody`s payroll tax money is going to someone like them
who worked all their life to earn it. Terrible.
When a teacher gets paid or a V.A. doctor, or a private in the Army,
or oh my God, more redistribution. Terrible. Or a student who manages to
get into college, who might not have gotten there otherwise because of a
Pell grant. How about a police officer working a night watch in a tough
neighborhood. He gets paid, there it goes again, redistribution. Or when
some poor kid gets to enlist in Head Start, or when -- just give me a break
The only redistribution Romney likes is when he takes over a company,
dumps the workers, widens the profit margins, flips it and walks off with
the proceeds. Now, that`s a redistribution he can get excited about.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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