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updated 9/21/2012 1:05:08 PM ET 2012-09-21T17:05:08

HARDBALL
September 20, 2012

Guests: Sam Stein, Jon Tester, Jim Burn, Neera Tanden, Nicholas Confessore

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Romney wobbles.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this -- Mitt Romney, wobbler. Day after
day, we`ve watched him go wobbly. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown,
Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle,
Virginia Senate candidate George Allen, and now Nevada senator Dean Heller
have all gone wobbly. They`ve refused to stand with, stand for the outed
Mitt Romney, the one who tells rich people that the rest of the country is
a bunch of loafers, freeloaders, bums.

Well, last night, a new wobbler showed up, Mitt Romney himself.
Racing like a desperate crazy man, he suddenly declared he`s changed his
mind on the whole 47 percent business, that he`s now proud of being the
grandfather of "Obama care," proud to say he`s for same-sex couples having
partner rights, and no way he wants to run those 12 million immigrants out
of the country.

So how scared is this candidate that he`s now turning tail on so much
of what he`s been standing for? Is the man we caught behind the curtain
now suddenly afraid of the script he`s been reading? Is this the moment,
the Etch-a-Sketch moment, we were warned was coming, the moment of all-out
moral meltdown?

I`m joined by John Heilemann of "New York" magazine and MSNBC`s Alex
Wagner.

This afternoon, guys -- this afternoon at the Univision candidates
forum, President Obama responded to Romney`s "caught on tape" comments
where he wrote off 47 percent of the country. Let`s take a listen to the
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you express an
attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they
want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven`t gotten
around a lot because I travel around the country all the time, and the
American people are the hardest-working people there are. Are there people
who abuse the system? Yes. Both at the bottom and at the top because
there are a whole bunch of millionaires who aren`t paying taxes at all,
either.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wonder who he`s talking about there. Also today, there
were two more Republican Senate candidates who joined the bandwagon of
wobblers today, rejecting Romney`s language of the 47 percent. As I said,
Hawaii former governor -- or actually, governor, running for Senate, Linda
Lingle, and in Virginia, George Allen. They`ve joined Senator Scott Brown
and Dean Heller and Senate candidate Linda McMahon all leaving the ship.

But perhaps the big news is that last night at the Univision
candidates forum, Mitt Romney himself seemed to join the wobblers when he
distanced him from his previous comments. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, first of
all, this is a campaign about the 100 percent. And over the last several
years, you`ve seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. So my
campaign is about the 100 percent of America, and I`m concerned about them.
I know that I`m not going to get 100 percent of the vote and my campaign
will focus on those people we think we can bring in to support me. But
this is a campaign about helping people who need help. I have a record.
I`ve demonstrated my capacity to help the 100 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Who is this guy? You know, we saw the man behind the
curtain down at Boca Raton. Now at the Univision, with a more diverse,
obviously, crowd of people, mainly minorities, he`s acting like a different
guy.

Why is Mitt turning tail on everything he`s been scripted to say for a
couple years now, John Heilemann?

JOHN HEILEMANN, ``NEW YORK`` MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
Chris, there`s a question about whether he`s actually turning tail on those
things or not. You know, there was a conference call the campaign did this
afternoon in which they said, no, in fact, he still wants to dismantle
"Obama care," still wants to repeal it, is still totally against it, and he
was just being -- trying to be funny last night, that he was making a joke.
That was his sense of humor on display.

We`ve heard that from the campaign on some other occasions...

MATTHEWS: BS.

HEILEMANN: ... in the past, like when he made a birther joke about
President Obama`s birth certificate not that long ago. That was also said
to have been an example of his sense of humor. I think he probably would
do well -- if those are examples of him being funny, he should probably
should stick -- keep comedy out of his routine. It`s kind of confusing.

I think a lot of people assumed for a long time that Governor Romney
would try to pivot to the middle. He is obviously proud of the
Massachusetts health care law that he passed, and a lot of people thought
this was the Mitt Romney we would see this fall.

But it`s not clear to me today right now, sitting here at 5:00 o`clock
Eastern, what his stance is going to be on this question for real
(INAUDIBLE) the campaign is more or less disowning his comments from
yesterday...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: ... which were comments in which he was kind of disowning
his own comments from the past. So I don`t know what Mitt Romney we`re
going to see two hours from now or 24 hours from now. It`s just really
hard to judge. But they`re going to have to figure out a consistent
message if they`re going to have any chance of winning this election, and
right now, they don`t have one.

MATTHEWS: Alex, before he got caught chucking out the red meat the
other day to the rich folks down in Boca Raton, red meat he`s been throwing
out for months and years now about we`re going to throw the 12 million out,
no same-sex anything, I had nothing to do with "Obama care" -- now he`s
taking parenthood, grandparenthood of "Obama care." He`s saying, yes, we
can let people be together. Maybe we can`t formalize it, but we like the
idea of gay people getting together and living together, no problem with
that. And of course I wouldn`t throw the 12 million people out.

If he`s talking like that, the way he`s talking now, when he`s out
there throwing out the red meat to the yahoos in the campaign, he wouldn`t
have gotten the nomination.

ALEX WALKER, MSNBC: No. And...

MATTHEWS: He knows that.

WALKER: Chris, you and I talked about this. This is the guy that
stood on stage and didn`t apologize for the fact that he was calling -- he
was referring to undocumented workers here as illegals and turning off
magnets. It was some of the most divisive language we`ve heard in the
campaign, especially with a Republican Party that once used to be the party
of Jeb Bush, who has a much more progressive stance on -- on immigration
and understands that the arc of history is bending towards a browner
America.

Mitt Romney has forfeited that. What you are seeing right now is a
magnetic moral compass that has no true north. He is like a conch shell.
You pick it up and you just hear the sea. There is nothing there. I have
no idea what Mitt Romney...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... do that as kids in Ocean City, New Jersey. Anyway...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... it wasn`t just backing away from those 47 percent
comments last night at the Univision forum. Romney also seemed to go
wobbly on issues ranging from health care, as John Heilemann just pointed
out, to gay marriage and immigration. Here`s what Romney said about health
care. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I have experience in health care reform. Now and then, the
president says I`m the grandfather of "Obama care." I don`t think he meant
that as a compliment, but I`ll take it. This was during my primary. We
thought it might not be helpful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get back to the whole question here of the way
he did that 47 percent because it reminded me today, and I saw a piece of
this before -- back in the `64 campaign, John and Alex, there was an ad by
the Democrats pointing out what Senator Barry Goldwater was saying at the
time -- I`d like to cut off the eastern end of the United States -- not 47
percent, but a big chunk of it.

Here`s what Barry Goldwater said, which is very similar to what Romney
got caught saying in Boca Raton -- let`s get rid of the part of the country
we don`t like. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a "Saturday Evening Post" article dated August
31st, 1963, Barry Goldwater said, "Sometimes I think this country would be
better off if we could just saw off the eastern seaboard and let it float
out to sea."

Can a man who makes statements like this be expected to serve all the
people justly and fairly?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it looks like Governor Romney would like to saw off
47 percent of the country there. John Heilemann, don`t you like the voice
of that old TV commercial? That is what I call authoritative, that voice.

HEILEMANN: Totally awesome. I mean, look, I think that, you know, we
-- it`s -- we -- it`s hard for us to criticize Governor Romney. Last week,
we were saying, you know, it`s terrible this thing he said. Earlier this
week, we were saying, It`s terrible the thing he said. You need to want to
be the president of all Americans.

You know, for him to try to right that ship, and in effect, kind of
apologize, although he didn`t come out and really own it in quite the way
that I think would be the most forthright way to do it -- for him to kind
of say, by tacitly, at least, admitting that this isn`t the right thing to
be saying and that you have to want to be the president of all Americans, I
think, you know, you got to let him have that.

On the other hand, you look back at that fund-raiser -- you know, one
of two things was true. Either he was expressing kind of a repugnant view,
or he had the view he claims to have now, which is that he wants to help
the 100 percent, and all he was doing was toadying up to...

MATTHEWS: Well, how are you going to know? You`re writing the book!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: John, buddy, you`re writing a book. You need to figure out
which is which by the time you file the book.

HEILEMANN: I promise you, by fall of 2013...

MATTHEWS: Where are you leaning?

HEILEMANN: I promise you, by fall of 2013, Chris, we`ll have that
nailed down.

WALKER: Oh, man!

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But the voter has to decide, Alex, between now and November
who`s the real Mitt Romney. Is he the gasbag down there with a bunch of
right-wingers, selling them what they wanted to hear, or is this the more
penitent guy before the Latino audience, saying, You know, of course I`m
not going to throw anybody out. Of course it`s going to be up to you.

WALKER: Chris...

MATTHEWS: And of course, I`m not against gay people.

WALKER: You cannot talk about how the president has carved up the
country and the pie is sliced every which way when you`re the one that`s
been holding the knife! This is a guy that has been taking a message and
tailoring it to every part of the Republican base where he can score
points.

And guess what? There are less than 50 days left. This is
fundamentally Mitt Romney`s problem, as far as I`m concerned. Early voting
has started. I mean, everyone talking about October 3rd and this big
presidential debate -- the clock has already started running. I mean, he
has very little time...

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

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the timeclock here. John, have you noticed all these
senators -- we started the show with this -- all these Senate candidates --
McMahon, who has a very good chance up in Connecticut, certainly Dean
Heller in Nevada. These are going to be really close elections. These
people are jumping ship. They`re saying, I`m one of the wobblers. Count
me as one of those who you don`t agree with the man behind the curtain.

What does that do to Romney? Does he realize they`re jumping on him
and he better change with them and be one of the wobblers? It seems like
that`s what happened today.

HEILEMANN: Well, I think you have -- you know, we`ve talked about
this all week, Chris, and actually starting last week. You know, one of
the great fears and one of the concerns the Romney campaign has is the
notion that -- a sense that Romney is headed towards defeat will sink in
broadly within the Republican political class and it will become an every
man for himself moment. And a lot of Republicans who are up for
reelection, especially in tough states, will start to do exactly what some
of these candidates you`re pointing to are doing.

That is a -- you know, that is shades of Bob Dole in 1996. We`re not
there yet, but you`re starting to see some signs of it in Scott Brown and
in Linda McMahon and some of these other examples. It`s a very -- it can
be a very ugly scene for a Republican or a Democratic presidential
candidate when his party abandons him.

(INAUDIBLE) something this fundamental. This just points to exactly
how toxic this political language is. Independent of its substantive
toxicity, it`s politically just horrible. And there`s going to be very few
Republicans anywhere who are going to want to stand up and say, yes, I`m
with Mitt Romney on this 47 percent.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a great -- is that the next question to look
for, John? Will they stand up on the platform when he shows up in the
state?

HEILEMANN: Well...

MATTHEWS: That`s the next question, I guess.

HEILEMANN: That is the question. And I think a lot of Republicans
are watching those polls very closely today and will be through the first
debate.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at some of these states now right
now. We`ve got them here. The Fox News polls that have come out now --
and these are great states, a slew of


down in these key battleground states. Last night, three new polls from
Fox News reiterated the Romney deficits in Florida. Romney is down 5
points, 49-44. That`s a key state for him. In Ohio, Obama has a 7-point
average -- advantage. In Virginia, Obama also has a 7-point advantage.

Alex, I`m -- I don`t think these are going to hold. I think this
election`s going to wobble -- itself is going to wobble between now and
November. But you got to wonder what Romney`s thinking. There`s a lot of
pressure from the right on him to fire Stu Stevens. I read in "The Wall
Street Journal" today, which is always their -- their -- it`s almost
"Osservatore Romano`` to these people, right?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And the question is will he buckle and basically eat it,
fire his best guy under the pressure from the right? Will he do something
like that?

WALKER: Well, I mean, anecdotally we know that Mitt`s a sticker,
right, according to Politico. He`s not someone that lets his guys go. He
stays with them. So I don`t know that you`re going to see Stu Stevens out
before November.

But as John says, it`s like an iceberg melting, right? I mean, it`s
sort of -- it cannibalizes on itself. If down-ballot, you know, House and
Senate candidates are abandoning Romney, that leads to a further shift in
terms of getting away from Mitt, putting distance between them.

We know that he had a fund-raiser today where he`s trying to reassure
donors, Hey, look, I can still get this. I can still pull this one out.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALKER: If he starts losing support from his own party and from the
money donating base, he has a serious, serious problem in the next two
weeks.

MATTHEWS: What about any shake-up coming, John? You`re the expert,
just before we quit this segment, because I wonder whether he`s going to
melt down physically by getting rid of his top guy because everybody seems
to blame the staff and not the candidate.

HEILEMANN: Yes, well, I think that`s the biggest mistake in all this
punditry. I mean, in the end, Mitt Romney is, you know, everything in
candidates (INAUDIBLE) campaigns. Chris, you know this.

MATTHEWS: I know.

HEILEMANN: It`s not a partisan statement. Campaigns reflect the
candidate. Ultimately, the candidate, win or lose, has to bear the
responsibility for their campaign and the quality of it. I don`t think
Mitt Romney`s going to dump Stuart Stevens at all, and I don`t think Stuart
Stevens is to blame here. To the extent there`s blame to be apportioned,
it rests on Mitt Romney`s shoulders.

MATTHEWS: You know what I`ve noticed about politicians? Their staff
begin to dress like them, to eat like them, to drink like them...

WALKER: It`s like owning (ph) dogs.

MATTHEWS: It happens. You can almost -- like dogs, yes, exactly
right. But I was a staffer. Don`t say that.

Anyway, thank you, John Heilemann. You learn a lot...

HEILEMANN: Lots of peanuts from you in the late `70s, Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I`ll think about that one. You`re too fast for me.
Anyway, Alex, thank you, Alex Wagner. Thank you, John Heilemann. Have a
nice weekend when you get to it, Friday night.

Anyway, coming up: Are Mitt Romney`s troubles contagious? Remember
how the GOP once thought winning the Senate was a given? Well, as we`ve
been saying, think again. A rash of new polls show Democrats could very
well hold onto the Senate. What an upset. And one of the best guys
running for reelection is John Tester of Montana. He`ll be here.

Also, block the vote. In just one sentence, the Republican sponsor of
that restrictive Pennsylvania ID law, the voter photo ID law, managed to
defend the indefensible and offend half the voters. Pennsylvania state
representative Daryl Metcalf (ph) said 47 percent of people are living off
their neighbors` hard work, and many of them are simply too lazy to go out
and get the new ID card, and it`s too bad if they don`t vote. Do you
believe it? He`s saying to Romney, You were right when you were in the
back room. That 47 percent is exactly true, and they`re too lazy to work,
too lazy to got get their ID cards. This guy`s Mitt Romney`s worst friend.

Anyway, the "Dirty Angry Money" is out. It turns out the Romney
campaign doesn`t have as much as we thought. And it may well be because
they`ve got too many big donors and not enough small donors, and they`re
relying too much on those outside groups to get this election and to get on
the air even.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the link-up between the move to
kill black votes and ignite white anger. It just happened in Pennsylvania.
I just mentioned it.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Acknowledging that the campaign`s in a bit of a ditch,
Romney advisers tell Politico they have a new strategy to dig out. What is
it? Can you believe it or not? More Mitt, they say, more of this guy.

According to Politico, after taking a beating for comments he
privately wishes he never made and from conservative critics he wishes he
could muzzle, Mitt Romney and his campaign are settling on a rescue plan to
show more of him in ads and speeches, campaign appearances and rallies. A
big focus, according to campaign officials, will be on Romney talking a lot
more about how his ideas will help regular Americans, who remain deeply
suspicious of him. Well, that`s a quote. And there it is, more Mitt.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Could Mitt Romney`s recent
struggles be affecting Republicans chances of taking the Senate this
November? Well, for two years now, the Republicans looked to this November
as the moment they could take back the Senate. But Romney`s slipping
candidacy has been followed by a slew of recent polls giving the Democrats
hope of holding onto a majority. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

In Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin is up over Tommy Thompson, the
former governor, in a Marquette University poll, 50 to 41. In Virginia, a
"Washington Post" poll today showed former governor Tim Kaine over another
previous governor, George Allen, 51-43. Kaine has been leading in five
recent polls now. And up in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is coming on
strong, leading in four of five recent polls. She`s up by 5 in the recent
WBUR/Mass Inc. poll, 47-42.

Well, Sam Stein covers politics for the HuffingtonPost. He`s here to
talk about this. Sam, what do you make of these numbers we`re getting that
show definite strength, greater strength than we`ve seen, in races that
were neck to neck? It looks like the Democrats are pulling a neck or two
ahead.

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTONPOST: Well, you know, the trend is pretty
obvious. I think the Democratic brand has consistently polled better than
the Republican brand, and you`re starting to see a reflection of that in
the polls.

You know, one thing that`s come clear after the convention is that the
country by and large is buying into the idea that the economy maybe wasn`t
all that bad as Republicans said it was. You look at all the national
polls, Obama is doing as good as, if not better than, Mitt Romney on the
issue of the economy.

And I think, in that case, a rising tide has lifted all the boats. I
think that the country is looking at the Democratic Party and saying, OK,
their platform is where we want to move this economy forward. The
Republicans had two years` control of the Senate -- I`m sorry -- of the
House. We don`t like what they did. Maybe we should try something new.

MATTHEWS: I wonder whether it`s Bill Clinton`s wonderful -- it wasn`t
just a rousing speech with a lot of, you know, applause lines in it.
Anybody can write those kind of speeches. He can do it the best, perhaps.
But it was the educational factor, where he talked about what the president
was stuck with back in `09, what he`s been trying to do and how it`s
working -- if slowly, how it`s working.

He was the first one, I thought, to give people reason for even
ebullience. People have been very happy, that I`m around, ever since they
heard Bill Clinton talk.

STEIN: Yes, well, you know, I`m hesitant to use the great man theory
in politics. But in this case, I think you`re onto something.

Bill Clinton, more than any other Democrat, actually laid a succinct,
understandable argument for why the stimulus was a success. And you have
seen it sort of after the convention in these ads that Obama is running, in
which he said, you know, Mitt Romney keeps talking down the economy. Let`s
look at the statistics about where we were four years ago and compared to
where we are now.

And they have laid a cohesive argument that the country is moving
generally in the right direction, not fast enough, not there yet, but they
have made concrete steps to move it in that direction. And I think the
country by and large is starting to buy it.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at the states that have become
contests that we thought -- many people thought were basically going to be
-- not going to be very -- look -- look very good for the Democrats.

STEIN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: They weren`t expected to be in the play right now.

But, for instance, Republican Linda McMahon is proving herself to be a
formidable opponent to U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy, the Democrat, up in
Connecticut. That`s for Joe Lieberman`s old seat.

In Indiana, this one I have been watching, Democratic Congressman Joe
Donnelly is keeping up with Tea Party favorite state Treasurer Richard
Mourdock, who seems to have all the money. That`s for Lugar`s seat.

And up in Maine, an interesting three-way. Former independent
Governor Angus King, an independent, jumped in the race when Senator
Olympia Snowe unexpectedly announced she is going to retire. But King is
now facing a challenge from Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers.
Democrat Cynthia Dill trails well behind.

I still am betting on Angus King up there.

STEIN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this fascinating race in Indiana, where
the Notre Dame guy -- I just happened to notice that -- Joe Donnelly is
running, because normally Indiana is a killer state for Democrats, except
for a Bayh, a Birch Bayh or an Evan Bayh.

STEIN: Sure.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about race, Indiana against the big money
guy, Mourdock?

STEIN: Well, it gets to another point which we haven`t discussed,
which is that in some of these key states, Republicans didn`t get the
candidate they wanted.

Indiana is one of them. Obviously, Todd Akin in Missouri is another.
Olympia Snowe retiring in Maine is a third case in which Republicans wanted
a candidate and didn`t get him or her. And in each of those cases, you`re
seeing Republicans pay a price for it. The betting money is that Mourdock
will prevail, but it`s much closer than they thought it would -- there`s
going to be resources invested in the state that will draw away from other
races.

In Maine, Angus King is suffering because he has promised not to
caucus with either party. And I think a lot of Democrats are hesitant to
vote for him because they`re worried that he won`t be a Democrat.

I think if he were simply to say, listen, I will caucus with the
Democrats, he would get a lot of votes and that wouldn`t be a race.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He won`t get any assignments, will you, if you don`t
caucus? If you don`t caucus, you don`t get any assignments.

STEIN: No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You sit there and do nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: He`s saying, I`m going to go up there and be powerless. Vote
for me.

I don`t see how that is a winning argument.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He`s got to change that.

STEIN: And in Connecticut, one last thing, Linda McMahon ran two
years ago. She has statewide I.D. She obviously has a lot of money.
Chris Murphy remains relatively unknown in the state, but you have to look
at the demographics of my home state of Connecticut and place money on
Chris Murphy prevailing just because there`s so many more Democrats in the
state.

MATTHEWS: Well, I hate to say it, but I hope you`re wrong in a couple
of these cases.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Sam.

I think Murphy might well win. I think that McMahon might well win.
But I`m hoping of course that Donnelly wins.

Anyway, let me bring in now -- thanks for being with us, Sam Stein.

STEIN: No problem.

MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the Democrat from the pure tossup state of
Montana. Montana Senator Jon Tester is fighting for reelection in a red
state against Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg. And the AP reported
last month -- quote -- "The razor-tight race may come down to who is more
Montana."

Senator Tester, welcome.

You always struck me as the most Montana guy on the planet. I don`t
know why this is an issue, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: Well, I don`t know either, but I can
tell you that we have got a close race going. It`s going to be close at
the end.

We knew that since the very beginning, but it`s all about what kind of
person I am vs. my opponent, and what kind of records we have, and what our
vision is for the future, not only the great state of Montana, but the
country.

But it`s going to be an interesting -- it`s been an interesting race.
It`s going to continue to be an interesting race. I feel good about my
chances.

MATTHEWS: OK.

We have a new poll from Montana in the HARDBALL scoreboard right now.
It`s from PPP. And you`re leading Denny Rehberg 43 to 45, with Libertarian
Dan Cox coming in at eight. I guess that adds up to 48, 48, 98, 48 --
what, there`s four left.

Not a lot of undecideds up, are there, in Montana?

TESTER: Not really.

This race has been -- it`s been going on for 18 months. We have seen
incredible amounts of secret out-of-state money coming in trying to buy
Montanans. And as we have talked before, Chris, the whole Citizens United
thing is really I think a threat to our democracy, and we have got the
secret money coming in trying to buy votes.

They`re spending about right now about $1 million a week in Montana on
TV ads. I can tell you that Montana was here. It was here back in 1912.
Montanans can`t be bought and they won`t be bought in this election either,
and so hopefully it comes down to who we are as people and what we have
done and our records as we have served in Congress, me for the last six
years, the congressman for his record for the last 12.

MATTHEWS: Why is Karl Rove gunning for you?

TESTER: You know, I don`t know. I really don`t have any idea.

I have never visited with the man, but obviously they`re pumping more
money into this state than has ever been pumped before into Montana. And
they`re trying to make me into something that I`m not, Chris, quite
frankly.

They know they cannot beat the Jon Tester who is the farmer from Big
Sandy, Montana, and the record that I have.

MATTHEWS: I know.

TESTER: But if they make me into something that I`m not, which is
what they have tried to do with their negative ads for the last 19 months,
then they have got a chance.

MATTHEWS: But you`re back on your tractor every weekend. You`re out
there with the people doing the job that you had before you got this one.

And how does a guy from out of state without a hunting license -- by
the way, why don`t you check on Karl and see if he has got a hunting
license? I actually had one last year with my daughter fishing in the
Madison River out there.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But do people buy that? Do they know that he`s out there
gunning for you?

TESTER: Well, I...

MATTHEWS: Do they know that Karl Rove the guy -- he`s not exactly a
popular guy. Do they know a guy, that sort of a villainous guy like him is
involved in your state`s politics? Do they know that?

TESTER: Well, I don`t know that they do, but it absolutely is true.
Karl Rove is the guy that is pumping the money into the state.

And, quite frankly, I don`t think he cares about Montana. I think
he`s got a whole different agenda, doesn`t care about the middle class,
doesn`t care about working families, small businesses, kids getting a good
education. He`s got his own agenda, and I think it`s unfortunate.

And it`s why Citizens United is such a threat to our democracy. I
don`t think it`s good for Democrats, it`s not good for Republicans, it`s
not good for our democracy.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think the architect, as he called himself, is good
for anything.

Anyway, thank you, Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Good luck.

TESTER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Republicans talk a lot about freedom, of course.
They talk a lot about that great word we all enjoy. But why were coal
miners in Ohio forced to attend, forced to attend a Mitt Romney rally and
not even paid for showing up?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. And now to the "Sideshow."

Well, the Romney campaign released a new ad trying to ramp up support
among Ohio voters, specifically coal miners. The ad is grabbing attention,
but not the good kind. Here is a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama is ruining the coal industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Policies that the current administration has got
is attacking my livelihood.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have 250 years of coal.
Why wouldn`t we use it? Utility bills are up. People wonder how they`re
going to have a brighter future if they can`t see how they can make it to
the end of the next month.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as it turns out, that crowd of coal miners standing
behind the candidate in that ad did not attend that Ohio rally by choice.

Some of those employees contacted a West Virginia radio station to say
that not only were they required to attend last month`s rally, but they
were also not paid during the time that they were there. A top official
with the company offered this explanation for what had happened -- quote --
"Attendance was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event."

Mandatory, but no one was forced. Well, the owner of the mine where
the rally took place happens to be, big surprise, a Romney supporter and
has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates.

Next: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns takes on Teddy Roosevelt, kind
of. You may have heard of the presidential race that takes place at
Washington Nationals home baseball games here in town where larger-than-
life team mascots, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, all from
Mount Rushmore, hold a race during every game.

Somehow, the hero of San Juan Hill, the nation`s top trust buster, the
winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Teddy Roosevelt, has yet to finish first
in any of the races.

Well, here is Ken Burns and Teddy`s high-profile supporter in the
Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appropriately, George Washington won the first
president`s race on July 21, 2006. By the end of that series, Tom and Abe
had also tasted victory.

Teddy, meanwhile, had already suffered a pulled hamstring and been
disqualified for illegal use of a golf cart. There were hopes the streak
might die on Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead night. It did not.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m often consoled in times after I
see my beloved T.R. finish last. I`m reminded of his immortal words.
Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is
marred by dust and sweat and blood. His place shall never be with those
cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Go, Teddy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And good for John McCain. He`s a real Teddy guy. I can
tell.

Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a ceremony in
Washington yesterday honoring Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Clinton recalled a conversation with a Burmese official about where newly
elected individuals in his country turned to learn about democratic
government, how they have learned how it worked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The speaker of the
lower House where Suu Kyi now serves said to me, help us learn how to be a
democratic Congress, a parliament.

He went on to tell me that they were trying to teach themselves by
watching old -- old segments of "The West Wing."

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: I said, I think we can do better than that, Mr. Speaker.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that will be the day when the real thing is better
than "West Wing."

Anyway, that`s the way it is tonight.

Up next: The sponsor of Pennsylvania`s voter I.D. law just outdid
Mitt Romney. Daryl Metcalfe, the lawmaker in Pennsylvania, says 47 percent
of Pennsylvanians are just living off the other half`s hard work and
they`re too lazy, not only to work, but to go out and get that new I.D.
card they need to vote. Well, my guess is he`s talking about Republicans.

Just kidding.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Dow closes up 19 after a 75-point slide. The S&P ends down a
fraction. The Nasdaq is off six points.

On the economic front, jobless claims fell by just 3,000 in the latest
week. The four-week moving average rose for a fifth straight week. Shares
of Bed, Bath, and Beyond slid nearly 10 percent after its profits missed
expectations.

And after the bell, Oracle`s earnings came in line with estimates.
Shares have been mostly lower in after-hours trading.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

And you`re not going to believe this. The Pennsylvania state senator
who was the author of the state`s restrictive voter photo I.D. act has
managed to extend Mitt Romney`s disparaging comments that 47 percent of
Americans are freeloaders into a whole new realm, the voter I.D. fight.

According to Daryl Metcalfe -- he`s the lawmaker -- the people who
don`t have photo I.D.s and therefore can`t vote are just like those 47
percent of moochers. They`re -- quote -- in his words -- "too lazy to
follow the newly imposed I.D. requirements."

Listen to him in action.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DARYL METCALFE (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I don`t
believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and
takes on the according responsibility that goes with that right to secure
their photo I.D. will be disenfranchised.

We have -- as Mitt Romney said, what, we have 40-some percent of the
people that are living off the public dole, living off of their neighbors`
hard work. And we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get
off and what they -- to get up and get out there and get the I.D. they
need.

So, I mean, if individuals are too lazy, the state can`t fix that, but
the process is put in place to get an I.D. card. There`s a free I.D.
available if somebody needs one. And there`s a process they have to go
through. They have to present certain documents. That`s the way it should
be.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Is somebody passing around the truth serum? This is the
way Romney is talking, the way this guy -- they`re talking like they think.

Anyway, we invited that man, Representative Daryl Metcalfe, to appear
on HARDBALL tonight, but he declined. Big surprise.

Joining me however now is Jim Burn. He`s chair of the Democratic --
Pennsylvania Democratic Party. And MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan,
author of "My Father at 100."

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us, Jim. It`s great to have you on
again.

JIM BURN, CHAIRMAN, PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: You`re welcome.

MATTHEWS: Are you used to guys talking this openly about people being
lazy? What a generalization. The people who are retired, the people who
are on disability, the people who are whatever, they`re still paying
payroll tax. They are guys serving and women serving in the military.

How does he come up with this 47 percent and read it like it`s
scripture, and they`re all a bunch of bums and they can`t get their I.D.
cards?

BURN: It shows how far, Chris, the Republican Party has fallen, not
just in Pennsylvania, but nationally, first Governor Romney and now Mr.
Metcalfe, who authored the legislation, which, in the legislation, says the
government has an obligation through liberal construction of this statute,
to get I.D. to Pennsylvanians who don`t have them.

Now here is the author saying that these folks are lazy and the
government has to do nothing. And now we have matching bookends up here.
We had Mike Turzai at the beginning of this debacle saying this was all
about tilting the playing field for Mitt Romney, and now we have the author
of the legislation calling 47 percent of Pennsylvanians lazy.

They have helped us more in this state -- they have helped us as much
in this state to raise awareness as we have done ourselves.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at Turzai and how he admitted that the
whole idea here was to win the state for Romney, this whole I.D. card deal
of theirs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We are
focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we`ve talked about
for years, pro-Second Amendment, the Castle Doctrine is done. First pro-
life legislation, abortion facility regulations in 22 years, done. Voter
ID -- which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of
Pennsylvania -- done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan, sir, I grew up in Pennsylvania with people
like, you know, Tom Ridge and Bill Scranton and Hugh Scott. They wouldn`t
be talking like this. The Republican Party has been replaced by the Tea
Party and they talk Tea Party like this.

These bums, you know? They`re all bums and too stupid to get an ID
card, too lazy. This is the way guys talk at bars around 11:30, after 5:00
or 6:00 (INAUDIBLE). And they`re the guys who shouldn`t be running the
country.

Your thoughts?

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. Well, but in
their view, these people are too lazy to vote, too lazy to govern. They
have no place in our Democratic system.

And I want to remind you that this is not an entirely new Republican
idea. They`ve ratcheted up their vote suppression efforts for this
election cycle. Way back in the 1980s, I believe it was, Paul Weyrich, one
of the architects of modern conservatism, speaking before an audience much
like Mitt Romney`s audience back in May, rich, white Republicans, said very
succinctly that an expanded voter base is not in Republicans` best
interests. They need fewer people going to the polls, and that`s what
they`ve been trying to do here.

This is the one wildcard left really in the election, the known
wildcard at least left in the election. How effective are the vote
suppression efforts going to be in places like Ohio, for instance?

MATTHEWS: Well, we`ll see. The ordeal for a voter actually going
without an ID card, trying to get one to be able to vote. They have been
called lazy.

Well, "The Washington Post" reporter Ann Gerhart did a great job.
She was here on HARDBALL and she described what it took for a 54-year-old
woman who`s been voting since she was 19 to go get newly required ID card.
Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN GERHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: First she had to fill out a form
that is a request for a no non-driver`s license. Then you take it to a
clerk who then looks at it and says, you have your birth certificate, you
have your Social Security card, you have two forms of address. You say no.
They say, well, then you have to actually fill out this other form.

Then they call the board of elections. They call the board of
elections. They can`t check it in the database online, even though you can
check your registration online. So, they call on the telephone, they wait.

Then she gets to affirm she has no other way of getting the ID, that
she doesn`t have these other documents, and they finally let her sign,
check her pay stub to see she`s got an address, has her picture taken. She
emerges finally four hours later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Cheryl Ann Moore, she`s a custodian at Philadelphia
hospital. She works the 4:00 a.m. to noon shift and had to use a vacation
day to even get the ID card.

Jim, it`s great to be from Pennsylvania which we never had Jim Crow
actually. We never had this stuff but you and I grew up reading about how
if you were black, you can go to a voting station somewhere in the South,
and you`d be told this is a book you had to read in Greek or Latin, or
whatever you had to do that day, all the tricks in the world to keep you
from voting.

And here we have our state, it was on the northern side of the civil
war, engaging in this Jim Crow crap. What do you feel about it?

BURN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, this is stuff you and I read
growing up in Pennsylvania, you know, with horrific results and the
consequences. There have never once expecting that at this time in our
nation`s history, we would be seeing that in any state, yet alone in a
Northern state.

But, my gosh, here we are with this unreal piece of legislation.
Chris, the Supreme Court this week sent that law, which was challenged,
back down to the commonwealth court with specific instructions. The
government could not articulate in front of the Supreme Court, how they
with any specificity would be able to comply with the requirement that
those without ID could get it. The story you just shared with your viewers
is the type of story we`re looking for to take to the commonwealth court
next week.

The government could not articulate to the Supreme Court this week
how they were able to do it. I don`t see how next week with that type of
evidence coming in that they`re going to be able to be effective in front
of the commonwealth.

But we still have it work hard here, which we`re doing, to make sure
every voter who needs identification will have it by November the 6th.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`d just like to try to get my birth certificate from
South Carolina, if I came up to get away from Jim Crow in the `50s. I`m
living in Philadelphia and they say go back to South Carolina and get your
birth certificate.

Last word, Ron.

REAGAN: Chris, I think there`s an opportunity here for Democrats.
They can say to the Republicans -- look, I will see your bogus voter fraud
issue and your voter ID but I will raise you this. By the next
presidential election, every eligible voter in America is registered to
vote and has a voter ID. We will make it impossible not to register to
vote. Everywhere you go, schools, hospitals, DMVs, you will be given an
opportunity to register to vote and you will get a voter ID right there and
then.

What do you think the Republicans would think about that?

MATTHEWS: I don`t think they`re going to like that idea of universal
suffrage. I don`t think so either. They don`t like that. They like a
little elitism there occasionally.

Anyway, thank you, Jim Burn. Good luck with your cause. It`s a good
one for this country`s democracy.

BURN: Thank you. Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And Ron Reagan, as always, have a nice weekend.

Up next, dirty angry money. It turns out the Romney campaign doesn`t
have as much of it as they led us to believe. Apparently living you a just
the fat cats isn`t a lucrative way to get ready for the fall believe it or
not. You have to have small donors. We`re going to talk about that when
we come back.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, the man who wouldn`t throw a punch at Mitt Romney
will no longer be throwing punches for him. Former Minnesota Governor Tim
Pawlenty has resigned as co-chair of the Romney campaign. Instead, he`s
headed to Washington to be a top lobbyist for Wall Street for the financial
services roundtable. Pawlenty famously wouldn`t go on the attack in the
debate last summer against Mitt Romney and his struggling campaign never
really took off.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: They`re back and we`re back with a dirty, angry money
report.

For months, we`ve heard chest-thumping reports from the Romney
campaign about how much money they`ve raised.

Take a look. For each of the last three months, the Romney campaign
reported over $100 million, outraised the Obama campaign for most of the
summer. And these numbers don`t include the powerhouse fund-raising from
outside groups like those super PACs.

But Romney`s alleged fundraising success had been followed by a
mystery. If his campaign is flush with cash, why is he being outspent in
ad buys in crucial swing states, especially at a time when he could use
some good publicity?

It turns out a lot of the money team Romney reported to having been
ticketed for Republican National Committee and state and local elections.
In other words, it`s not his. It`s theirs.

And with me now is "New York Times" reporter Nick Confessore, who
wrote about this today. And Neera Tanden, president of the Center for
American Progress, and former policy director for Hillary Clinton`s
national campaign.

Thank you.

Let me go to Nicholas.

Thanks for joining us tonight. You`re new to the show.

Tell us why Mitt Romney who I always identified as having unlimited
LDS money, unlimited equity money, friends over the business community,
wealthy people across the country, why he`s having cash problems and had to
borrow some money, $20 million?

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Because even the richest
guy in America can only give $2,500 per election to a candidate. Now, Mitt
Romney has many, many of those people. He has lots of rich supporters,
people who can max that amount. And he got most of them in the primary,
but then he spent a lot of it to win the primary. And once that was done,
he had the last up until September after his convention to tap into the
general election money he had raised on top of those checks.

So really, he was sort of cash-rich but cash-flow poor for a lot of
August. And that helps explain why there were so few Romney ads on the
airways. There was money, it just wasn`t in his account where he could use
it the way he wanted to.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about small donors. Somebody put me on all of
these lists. I don`t give a nick, I`m not allowed to because of my
profession and working here at NBC. I get that. You want to have dinner
with Jim Messina. You want to have dinner with Valerie Jarrett. You want
to meet with this guy, you want to meet that guy, you want to meet the
president, take a chance, endless fund raising from small donors. Ask them
for 50 bucks, 5 bucks.

Is Obama in better shape going through the small donors like that
through social media than this guy is with the big shots?

NEERA TANDEN, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think what`s great
about small donors, you can go back at them. As Nick was saying, there`s a
limit with the large donors. And the small donors, the president has a
large reservoir --

MATTEHWS: A lot of people never get near max dollar.

TANDEN: Yes, and they can keep giving. The difference is you can
also -- we expect them to increase their giving as the election gets
closer, as they see -- get more excited, et cetera. So the president is
likely to have more money come in the last couple of months, and that`s a
big problem for Romney, which he seems to be having a squeeze, and now that
he has a bump in the road or a few bumps in the road or many bumps in the
road, that fund-raising could be a big problem.

MATTHEWS: What about a danger if you`re an Obama guy or Obama woman
worrying about the cavalry attacking the last weekend? For example, with
all of that super PAC money out there, the Koch brothers and the rest of
them, can they attack on the last Friday weekend, get the bad economic
number perhaps, and they spend three days over the last weekend pouring
money into ads they have already bought with new messages? What`s to stop
that onslaught from outside the Romney campaign?

CONFESSORE: Well, it can certainly happen and it will happen. There
is going to be a lot of advertising on the airwaves this year and this
fall, probably more than ever before. But we`re about to find out how much
is enough, how much is too much and how much doesn`t matter. We`re going
to see a glut of this stuff.

And a real question is, and it will be an obstacle to whichever side
is outgunned. The real question is going to be, how much can people really
absorb when you have unlimited money effectively, and how much ad time
actually fits on to the airwaves, price will keep going up as the super
PACs and campaigns bid it up.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CONFESSORE: But there is kind of a limit here. So, we`ll see in
this election.

MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama is buying significant air time in
Ohio, Colorado and New Hampshire. He`s outspending Romney in each of these
states right now. That`s the question.

How can -- that`s where we started, let`s finish with that. Neera,
Obama, the poor guy in this race. We`ve all heard that. He`s spending
more money on ads in the states that matter, therefore getting his numbers
up.

TANDEN: Well, I do think -- I mean, what Nick story points out is
that they just don`t -- Romney has taken a gamble. He put out these large
numbers, and he doesn`t have the money right now to really match. And so,
the challenge for them, I think, is to match one-to-one.

MATTHEWS: Poor little rich kid.

Anyway, thank you, Nicholas Confessore, good story. And Neera
Tanden, as always.

When we return, let me finish with a link we just saw between the
move by Republicans to keep minorities from voting while at the same time
igniting white anger against them. The sick combination of stopping blacks
from voting and getting whites to vote out of racial anger. We`ll talk
about it in the place for politics right now.

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

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