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updated 10/3/2012 12:43:14 PM ET 2012-10-03T16:43:14

HARDBALL
October 2, 2012

Guests: Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, Benjamin Jealous, Jim Burn, Susan Milligan, Neera Tanden

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: So does Romney like you?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington, on the way to Denver.

But "Let Me Start" with where we are this night before the first
presidential debate. Our late and much respected colleague Tim Russert
used to say, Numbers, numbers, numbers, and that`s what this election comes
down to, who gets that 270 electoral votes and who doesn`t.

What`s fascinating this year is what numbers seem to matter most in
deciding voters and how they do vote. Two numbers jump out at me this
election year. The first, which got famous months ago, is 1 percent, that
top, the people making the most, getting the best breaks on taxes and other
things. The second number that just broke out recently is 47 percent.
It`s that part of America that Mitt Romney has dismissed as freeloaders,
moochers, takers, in his words.

I`m joined right now by Howard Fineman with the Huffington Post, who`s
joining us right now. Also, we got Romney`s -- let`s take a look at this
Howard. Romney`s 47 percent comments have had a lasting impact on his
standing. "The Washington Post" reported just today, quote, "In the two
weeks since the surreptitious video of the remarks surfaced, they have
pierced the national consciousness in a way that few blunders do. In the
closing stretch of the presidential campaign, the moment has become a
defining element of Romney`s candidacy."

Well, a new poll by Pew shows how deep these comments penetrated -- 67
percent say they knew Romney made those comments. That`s of the whole
country. And of those people, 55 percent said they had a negative reaction
toward hearing them. Well, as Republican strategist Alex Castellanos told
"The Washington Post," quote, "The only thing in politics that is worse
than voters deciding that they don`t like you is when voters decide you
don`t like them."

Howard, what a great turn of phrase by Alex Castellanos, When voters
sense you don`t like them.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Yes, well, here in Colorado, Chris, the Obama campaign is certainly not
letting people forget those comments from that private fund-raiser back in
May.

Talking to people here, they say they`re seeing that ad, they`re
seeing the Obama ad that highlights Romney`s comments over and over and
over again in heavy rotation on television here in Colorado, perhaps the
ultimate swing state. So the Obama campaign knows they`ve got a loaded
weapon there and they`re firing it time after time after time, to much --
to much good effect from their point of view.

MATTHEWS: Chuck, I can`t remember anything that`s really resounded so
well with one side against the other. I guess there was the DUI charge
back in 2000, which was really a self-inflicted wound by one side. And
here again a somewhat self-inflicted wound, although he didn`t intend
anybody to know about it. This 47 percent -- I think it`s a bigger number
than the 1 percent we talked about for the last year or so, the very top
people.

CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: Well,
here`s where I find it made a penetration. So one of the things we`ve done
in our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll -- most of it comes out in a little
bit -- but we asked sort of the remaining undecided or sort of soft
Romney/Obama voters -- we asked them, Tell us what is a hesitation you have
about Romney becoming president, what is a hesitation you have about Obama
becoming president?

Almost universally, the hesitations on Romney, even among voters who
clearly sound like they`re eventually going to support Romney, is the idea
that he`s out of touch, that he seems to not understand what it`s like to
be a middle-class American.

And that`s where -- you know, this 47 percent alone wouldn`t have had
this kind of resonance if it hadn`t been what has been a -- I would argue a
six-month campaign by the Obama folks, starting with tax returns.

Frankly, you had the Republican primary candidates did it to him. You
throw it all together, defining him as the out of touch rich guy -- Rick
Santorum did it during the primaries. The Obama campaign has been doing
it. And then 47 percent comes along and simply amplifies the narrative...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: ... in a third party verification-type way.

And you put the whole soup (ph) together, and that to me is the hurdle
right now for Romney, is this idea -- is he in touch with the average
American? And I think that`s why he`s stuck in the mid-40s.

MATTHEWS: And not everything, Howard, that he`s said has been
malignant. It`s not been evil. But like, his cavalier way of saying,
Let`s bet $10,000 to Governor Perry of Texas, just a cavalier throwing
money around, or referring to everybody who might not have health insurance
and need emergency care in the emergency room as living in an apartment.
It`s just a sort of a view that it`s all urban people or something.

It`s not all evil, but it is a lack of perspective about life in the
main American experience, Howard.

FINEMAN: Well, yes, and the Obama campaign very shrewdly and
systematically from the beginning, as Chuck said, has focused on what they
were convinced was Romney`s big weakness, and it`s turned out to be just
that.

Chuck mentioned taxes. You mentioned the $10,000 bet. Also, Bain
Capital -- it was the Obama campaign that so far has told the story of Bain
Capital, not Mitt Romney. And what the Obama campaign has said about Bain
Capital has reinforced the same notion about a guy playing with big money
who doesn`t understand the average lives of average people.

As I`ve said repeatedly on the show, that ad that they ran, that an
ally of the Obama campaign ran in states like Ohio about a Bain-owned
factory that was shut down by surprise, continues to reverberate in the
Midwest states.

MATTHEWS: OK, we`re going to have new numbers, as Chuck said, from
the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll later today -- in fact, at
our 7:00 o`clock edition East Coast time.

But in other recent national polls, we`ve seen the race getting
closer. Even though Obama`s bounce out of the convention is holding -- and
it is holding -- he remains at near 50 percent in all our polls.

What do you make of the situation right now, Chuck, going into
tomorrow night`s really important debate out in Denver between the two
candidates? How do you see the election standing now five weeks out?

TODD: Well, right now, five weeks out, if you can have a solid small
lead, he has it, OK? He has hit what I think are his ceiling numbers, 49,
50, 51 in the state. It`s hard to imagine in any of these battleground
states, with maybe the exception of Ohio and Iowa, how he gets to, quote,
52 or even 53. So he`s at a ceiling. He`s about topped out.

The question is, how much coalescing happens around Romney? I think
you`re seeing some of it now, and that`s why he`s popping among likely
voters, in particular. But then there`s one other thing that I think that
the Obama folks have to worry about -- we see evidence of it in our own
polling, and it also explains why there`s such a massive difference between
registered voters back and forth between Obama and Romney and the likely
voters.

There is still an enthusiasm gap that favors the Republicans. The
Republicans are fired up to vote against Obama. Whether they`re fired up
for Romney, forget that question right now. They`re fired up to vote out
Obama. You don`t see that among Hispanics. You`re not seeing that among
young voters. That`s still an issue the Obama campaign has to worry about.

MATTHEWS: OK. In swing states, of course, the Obama campaign has
bombarded voters with this powerful ad -- you mentioned it -- going over
Romney for his 47 percent remark. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There are 47
percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, who
are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who
believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe
they`re entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. And
they will vote for this president no matter what.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never convince
them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their
lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Howard, I opened the show tonight with what we call our
cold open. I said, Does Obama like you? And there`s a lot of people who
are going to see that ad and say, yes, I`m in that picture somewhere. I`m
a veteran, I`m this kind of person, I`m that kind of person. They`re going
to say, Wait a minute, am I in that list of 47 percent? The answer, I
guess, is yes.

FINEMAN: Well, the flip side of what Chuck was talking about in terms
of the still existent enthusiasm gap on the Obama side -- on the Romney
side, I think Mitt Romney has kind of maxed out on the people who are going
to vote for him because they`re against Obama.

Mitt Romney`s challenge in this upcoming debate and in the other
debates is to show some sense of humanity and empathy that will get some
people to vote for him on a positive basis. That`s what`s missing now.
That`s the 2 or 3 or 4 percent he`s missing that he`s got to get.

He`s not going to get any more out of the anti-Obama message. He`s
got to get it out of a pro-Romney message, which is exactly why the Obama
campaign is running that ad that you just showed in Colorado and in the
other swing states.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: Hey, and Chris, let me amplify that just -- what`s missing here
for Romney is he hasn`t made -- you know, he can make the case that, Hey,
you know what? Things aren`t going that great. This is a weak recovery.
He hasn`t connected the dots yet and said it`s Obama`s fault it`s a weak
recovery. And oh, by the way, my way is going to give us a strong
recovery.

He hasn`t been able to give this slice of voters in the middle that
believe that it`s worth the risk to fire an incumbent -- it is a high risk
to fire an incumbent...

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but...

TODD: ... and right now when we`re sitting at 50/50 on who better
handles the economy, you know, they`re showing...

MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me fight this fight...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think there`s a real reason why he hasn`t told us. It`s
not he hasn`t thought of it. He knows we in the media want the answer.
Here`s his problem. His number one goal or method for improving the
economy are tax cuts, lots of them, across-the-board tax cuts for the
marginal rates, a big one down from 35 percent for the top rate down to 28
percent.

But he won`t tell us how he`s going to do it. He won`t tell us the
big deductions he`s going to kill. And to me, that`s the heart of what
he`s actually promising. Howard, you start. How can he tell us what he`s
going to do without killing himself politically by nailing these -- these
deductions?

FINEMAN: Well, I don`t think he can -- I don`t think he can play
stall ball for the next five weeks on that, Chris. I think every debate
moderator, starting with Jim Lehrer tomorrow night, is going to demand
specifics in the way Chris Wallace tried to do last weekend on Fox.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And I also think that the numbers are emblematic of values
in this case. People want to know about Mitt Romney. They`re undecided.
I disagree with Chuck a little bit. I think people are prepared to blame
the president enough to dismiss him if, as Chuck says, they are secure
about Romney.

It`s that last piece that Romney hasn`t done. And forcing him to
discuss the details of his tax plan is not a way necessarily to win those
undecided voters at this point because I doubt that many of them like the
idea of a big tax cut for millionaires.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Chuck, of George Will`s column today,
where he says America will advance when it learns how to fire a black
president, an African-American president. We haven`t advanced that far.

What do you make of that comment in his column today? Like the
Orioles fired Frank Robinson.

TODD: Yes. I`ve talked to a lot of Republicans who believe that --
they do believe that there is a higher bar in the minds of voters, and that
there are some voters subconsciously who are saying, Boy, you`ve really --
you`ve really got to make the case. He`s got to commit more fireable
offenses. I know that there is...

MATTHEWS: I agree with that.

TODD: ... a Republican belief in that, that that...

MATTHEWS: That makes sense.

TODD: ... is out there. I just have to say, I don`t -- you know, I
don`t think it`s as simple as somehow, that it is about race with this.
But I can tell you this. There are a lot of Republicans who will believe
if Obama wins reelection, that race helped him not because it got African-
Americans out, but because that there is a slice of white Americans out of
white guilt, if you will, that will reelect him. I can tell you...

MATTHEWS: That`s what George Will said today.

TODD: I`ve heard this line of thinking from a lot of Republicans who
believe this.

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, let`s let that sit out there for a few days and
see what people think of it.

Anyway, thank you Chuck Todd, and thank you, Howard Fineman.

Coming up: Republicans in Pennsylvania thought their new voter photo
ID law would give the election to Mitt Romney, or at least give him
Pennsylvania. As one Republican said, Democrats would be too lazy to get a
new ID card. He`s a neat guy.

Anyway, well, today a state judge delayed implementation of the law
until after the election. What a big victory for honesty, and I think,
justice. I guess Republicans are going to have to try to win Pennsylvania
the hard way, by getting the most votes.

Also, a lot of Democrats think or hope that Scott Brown came on too
strong in his debate last night with Elizabeth Warren. We`ll go to the
videotape. It looked very close to me.

And look who`s had another Etch-A-Sketch moment. Mitt Romney now says
he won`t revoke Obama`s two-year visas for qualified young illegal
immigrants. Well, maybe he`s seen the polling on Latinos lately, which are
devastating to Romney.

And "Let Me Finish" tonight with a behind-the-scenes look at what
really happened at the great Kennedy/Nixon debates. You`re going to love
these stories I`ve dug up.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Ron Brownstein today in "The National Journal" wrote that
the main reason Obama`s doing better in battleground states right now has
to do with his increase in support from white working women, working class
women.

Keep in mind, back in 2008, nationally Obama only got 41 percent of
that group`s vote. Well, today in Michigan, 46 percent say they support
the president. In Florida, it`s 48 percent of that category. Nevada, New
Hampshire, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- the number hovers in those cases
around 50 percent. and in Ohio and Iowa, it`s up to 52 percent.

Looking good for the president with white working class women. What
an interesting category to be moving ahead in.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, today we saw a blow to the
nationwide Republican effort to suppress Democratic turnout. A
Pennsylvania judge blocked a strict voter photo ID requirement from going
into effect before election day.

Judge Robert Simpson wrote, in part, "I am not still -- I am not still
convinced that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the
commonwealth`s implementation of a voter identification requirement for the
upcoming election."

Well, this was a blow for Pennsylvania Republican governor and the
Republican-controlled state legislature that championed it. In fact, the
state`s House majority leader, Mike Turzai, the top Republican, left no
doubt what the aim of the law was.

Let`s listen to him in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter ID, which
is going to you allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,
done!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s pretty authoritative. And state
representative Daryl Metcalfe, who authored the voter ID act, made clear he
had no patience for voters without photo IDs, the new kind.

Let`s listen.

(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 ID will be disenfranchised.

You know, we -- as Mitt Romney said, I mean, what, we have 40-some
percent of the people that are living off the public dole, living off of
their neighbor`s hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are
too lazy to get off -- and -- what they -- you know, to get up and get out
there and get the ID 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 ID card. There`s a free ID available
if somebody needs one. There`s a process they have to go through. They
have to present certain documents. That`s the way it should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You don`t hear it as raw as that more often. You usually
hear the dog whistle, but that was pretty clear from both those gentlemen.

Ben Jealous is president of the NAACP who deals with this stuff. He,
by the way, took on the voter ID law in Pennsylvania. Jim Burn is the
Pennsylvania Democratic Party chair. And also, we have Katherine Culliton-
Gonzalez. She`s director of the Voter Protection Program at the
Advancement Project.

I just want -- I know she doesn`t outrank either of you gentlemen, but
I want her to start because you`re an expert at this. How important is
this for the people who were trying to push this through and how important
was it to defeat it in Pennsylvania for this election?

KATHERINE CULLITON-GONZALEZ, THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: This is huge.
This is a great victory, Chris. We`re really pleased with it. I mean, the
fight is still on. We`ve got to defeat this in the future in other states.
But we`ve been fighting and winning in Pennsylvania, in Texas and Wisconsin
against these restrictive photo ID laws. And it`s a great vindication for
the people of Pennsylvania who would have been disenfranchised by it.

MATTHEWS: And what`s the purpose? Is it ethnic? Is it partisan?
Who are they targeting in these voters laws to keep people from voting?

CULLITON-GONZALEZ: Well, we only need to look at the facts. There`s
a disparate impact on the elderly, on students, on young people, and on
African-Americans and on Latinos. And that`s why we`re winning. We`re
fighting back and winning (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Ben, Bill Clinton, who`s very good at making things simple,
as we know -- he`s done it again this summer -- he said this was the most
blatant thing -- he talked about the Florida example, the most blatant
example of voter suppression, where he said they were shutting down Sunday
before voting because that`s when black people go to church and then go on
the buses because they don`t have cars.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: I mean, this is so targeted.

But you`re the expert. What does this mean to you historically that
this has been stopped, at least in Pennsylvania?

JEALOUS: Look, this is big.

What this means is that all voters in Pennsylvania can go vote. If
you have got an I.D., you can vote. If you don`t got one, you can vote.
And that`s critical right now, because, as you heard Turzai say, they were
trying to basically steal the race in the state, and given what this state
is, steal it for the entire country.

But what this also sort of in line with is that we`re starting to turn
the tied. You know, we have won in Wisconsin. We have won in Texas. We
have got a Republican governor in the Midwest, Snyder, to actually veto one
of these bills. We got Governor McDonnell in Virginia also from the GOP to
say, don`t even bring it to me or I will veto it.

And so folks are starting to come to their senses and see that this
isn`t really a Republican thing. It`s an extremist thing. It`s really as
-- as so many have said, this is going back to a playback that was first
written right after the Civil War.

MATTHEWS: But, OK, let me go to Jim Burn now, the chair of the
Democratic Party in Pennsylvania.

What`s this mean on the ground for people voting? I`m still worried -
- I began to get worried this morning. I was worried about this law. Now
I`m a little bit worried that people still think the law is still in effect
and will be afraid to go vote. It`s called intimidation, not just
suppression now.

JIM BURN, CHAIRMAN, PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, it was a
huge victory today, Chris, like your other guests -- and I think them for
their partnership and I thank everybody for helping us to push this thing
back past November 6.

Our game now has transformed somewhat, because there`s a portion of
this that the judge allowed. That is that the government here in
Pennsylvania can still talk about the law, even though it`s not to be
implemented. So our game, Chris, has shifted.

We`re going to remind voters that you do not need identification to
vote, because I suspect in the next five weeks, Mr. Corbett, Mr. Romney,
Mr. Turzai, Mr. Metcalfe and their friends are going to attempt to create
confusion and chaos now that we beat this back.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BURN: So we`re going to be just as vigorous now as we have been.

And your prior guest on the prior segment talked about anger. Let me
tell you something, Chris. There`s a lot of angry voters in Pennsylvania
at Mitt Romney and Tom Corbett for this chicanery. And they`re going to
have a conversation with them at the polls on November the 6th.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Katherine, Kathy, why did this creep up on
so many people?

I have been making some noise about it, but this is like a multistate
thing, something like 20 or 30 states involved in this, all -- basically
all pushed by the Republicans, all pushed the stamping down on the chance
of minority people and older people to vote, clearly partisan and ethnic in
nature. And here we are -- I may be the only person on national television
yelling about this thing, but it just seems -- as Bill Clinton said
beautifully, it`s blatant, and yet nobody has been raising hell about it.

CULLITON-GONZALEZ: Yes, that`s right. We`re in the nonprofit sector
and we have been doing everything we can to fight back against the biggest
wave of voter suppression we have seen since the enactment of the Voting
Rights Act in 1965.

These types of restrictions are like poll taxes and literacy tests.
They have a disparate impact on people of color. And we need to fight back
and keep on fighting back. We`re very glad for the victory in
Pennsylvania, but we hope that the justices around the country will change
their mind as well.

MATTHEWS: Ben, you`re in a hero`s role in all this. I really
appreciate anything you do for our country in continuing this.

But it seems -- I want to ask you something. This seems to be hand in
glove with the same kind of dog whistle stuff they`re doing to white
working-class voters. Get them all upset about welfare and food stamps, so
you get the blacks so they can`t vote, you get the whites angry, the
working class whites angry at the blacks so they will vote Republican. It
does seem like a two-pronged effort.

JEALOUS: No, that`s right.

And, you know, race has really been injected into this race in ways
that are really insidious. And when you hear somebody talk about folks are
too lazy and knowing who he`s talking about are single moms who are raising
kids who are working, who may be in a county that have no DOT or may be in
a county where the DOT is open one day or frankly may have a boss that if
they have to go back twice -- and part of the game here in Pennsylvania was
when you went in for a free I.D., they ran you through all the hoops to see
if you could get a driver`s license.

And then if that filed, they said, oh, by the way, here is a free I.D.
that`s much easier to get. And, you know, it just -- look, guys, we got to
get back to a place -- and frankly past GOP chairs like Ken Mehlman have
talked about this -- where we try to win on the ideas, where it`s not about
suppression, it`s not about intimidation.

It`s just running an honest race and cutting bait with these old nasty
tactics that they seem to drag out whenever they get nervous.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask Jim Burn, the chair of the party, had the
African-American community been emotionally responsive to this? Did they
know that they were the target in large part of this whole effort?

BURN: Absolutely, Chris.

And we had -- we were worried a year ago about finding something to
motivate and excite our base, African-Americans, seniors, students,
Hispanics, everybody. The president has been effective this year in doing
that, but in a way I have got to thank Mr. Corbett and Mr. Romney and
Turzai and Metcalfe for their candor. They called this thing what it was.

And that helped act as an accelerant. So, yes, we know what they
wanted to do. We know what they were going to try to do. And like I said,
we`re going to come and send them a message on November the 6th.

MATTHEWS: Just remember who was the greatest registrar of minority
voters in the history of Philadelphia, Frank Rizzo, because everybody in
this city knew who their enemy was. He had the nightclub to prove it -- or
the nightstick, I should say.

Anyway, thank you, Ben Jealous.

JEALOUS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Congratulations to you, sir, for the NAACP`s hard work
here.

Thank you, Jim Burn, for add I guess it`s a partisan victory in a
weird way.

Anyway, and most importantly, Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, please
educate -- keep educating us on these cases of voter suppression around the
country.

Anyway, up next, what did the far right think America would look like
in 2012 when President Obama took office four years ago? Wait until you
hear these projections. This is sci-fi. Their wildest predictions
couldn`t be further from the truth, fortunately. That`s next. Actually,
sci-fi tends to be true sometimes.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and to the "Sideshow."

Well, the campaigns for both Mitt Romney and President Obama are
trying to tamp expectations leading into tomorrow`s debate, while playing
up the debating skills, of course, of the other candidate.

One of Romney`s biggest surrogates went a bit rogue this weekend and
"The Daily Show" took note.

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

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Here is the great news for
Republicans. We have a candidate who is going to do extraordinarily well
on Wednesday night.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Oh (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) we got a runner, we got a runner.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Apparently, only New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn`t
get the memo that his party`s nominee sucks at this.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Wednesday night is the restart of this campaign, and I
think you`re going to see those numbers start other move right back in the
other direction.

This whole race is going to be turned upside down come Thursday
morning.

STEWART: What you are you doing, Christie?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: For God`s sakes, if Romney fails to meet those heavy
expectations, he`s going to lose the general election, creating chaos in
the Republican Party. And that`s going to leave open 2016.

Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: The Jersey is strong in this one.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, in political language, the governor there was
sandbagging. Actually, he was sandbagging. He should have been
lowballing. That`s playing up the skills of the other guy, while claiming
you have no chance at all.

Well, finally, we have talked about how some Republicans seem to be
running against a president who doesn`t actually exist, suggesting that
President Obama is some kind of foreigner with hidden plans to outlaw guns
and bring European-style socialism to the U.S. of A.

Well, back in 2008, Focus on the Family, a hard-right Christian group,
sent a memo to supporters about what 2012 would look like if Obama was
elected. Well, first, a prediction about the Boy Scouts of America. Here
they are. "The Boy Scouts no longer exist as an organization. They chose
to disband, rather than be forced to obey the Supreme Court decision that
they would have to hire homosexual Scout masters."

No, actually, the Boy Scouts are still going strong.

Next, the prediction on gun laws -- quote -- "It is illegal for
private citizens to own guns for self-defense in eight states and the
number is growing, with increasing Democratic control of state legislatures
and governorships."

Wrong. Again, the Second Amendment is still intact and the number of
new gun laws enacted by the Obama administration adds up to exactly zero.

Finally, the prediction about how the president would respond to
captured terrorists -- quote -- "Terrorists captured overseas are given
full trials in the U.S. court system, and they have to be allowed access to
a number of government secrets to prepare their defense."

Well, actually, government secrets to prepare a defense, I don`t think
so. And here is a secret for you. The top terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is
dead.

Well, no doubt if the president wins reelection, those and other far-
right scenarios will get a new luster for the second term, because fantasy
leads to more fantasy.

Up next: the big debate last night between Elizabeth Warren and Scott
Brown. Well, who won that one? That was a -- that was a top of the card.
Who lost? And what does it mean for the battle for the Senate? You`re
watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARY THOMPSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Mary Thompson with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

The Dow falls about 33 points. The S&P gains one and the Nasdaq adds
six.

Automakers reported their September sales figures earlier. GM sales
rose 1.5 percent. Ford`s were flat. Holiday sales are expected to rise
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And J. P. Morgan shares ended flat, despite becoming the target of a
lawsuit by the New York attorney general`s office related to mortgage-
backed securities.

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

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

It`s one of the hottest races in the country right now, with more
people watching and more dollars being spent than any other Senate contest
around the country. And last night in Massachusetts, Senator Scott Brown
and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren took to the stage for a fiery
second debate.

You wouldn`t normally think of the home state of Ted Kennedy and Tip
O`Neill holding a tossup race, but Brown is holding his own against Warren.
And for him to be successful, he must convince Obama voters in
Massachusetts, and Obama is expected to win by double digits up there, to
also vote for him, a Republican.

Well, Susan Milligan is a contributing editor to "U.S. News & World
Report." And Michael Steele, our buddy here, is the former chairman of the
Republican National Committee, and he`s also an MSNBC political analyst.

I`m going to try to look at this down the middle. I saw the whole
debate today. I was fascinated. I think David Gregory did a hell of a job
keeping these people -- I thought he was like a referee in a boxing match.
Each candidate had a tough moment or two.

Here is Warren tripped up, I think, when asked to name a Republican
she could work with. Just name a senator or any bunch of them. Here is
what she said. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Can you name some
Republicans in the Senate today that you are able to work with on big
issues, substantive issues, that the country faces?

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I think
probably Richard Lugar would be one that would come to mind.

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, he`s not going to be
there.

GREGORY: He`s not going to be there.

WARREN: He`s not going to be there.

GREGORY: So, who else could you name, Senator?

(LAUGHTER)

WARREN: That is a problem. Let me do this one...

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: Let me just ask the question, though. Are there any
Republicans who are actually going to be in the Senate that you feel that
you could work with substantively and compromise with?

WARREN: Look, it depends on what the subject matter is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What was the problem with naming a few others like -- well,
Corker is pretty good. He has turned out -- I didn`t like the way he ran
that campaign, but -- and you have got other people, Lamar Alexander, a
number of people -- you know, Lindsey Graham. There`s a lot of people who
have dealt with Democrats effectively, Saxby Chambliss, people like that.

SUSAN MILLIGAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Right. See, I think the
mistake in her answer was not that she named...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: She didn`t have an answer.

MILLIGAN: Well, she named Lugar.

MATTHEWS: He`s gone the day she gets there.

MILLIGAN: Yes, I understand.

But I think the mistake was not saying something like there is
literally no member of the Senate I will not work with. Paul Wellstone and
Pete Domenici worked together on mental health issues. Paul Wellstone was
one of the most liberal guys in the Senate. Ted Kennedy worked with Orrin
Hatch and Sam Brownback.

She should have said I`m not walking in -- the whole problem is, that
place like the Sharks and the Jets, and I`m not going to play into that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. She did seem to play into that.

What do you think, Michael? Because we`re going to hit Brown on
something just as dubious here in a minute.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes. No, no, I agree
with Susan on that one.

And I think it speaks to the overall tone in the Senate and in the
House, quite frankly, that you can`t work with anybody. God forbid that
you actually announce ahead of time before an election that you intend to
work with the other side to solve the nation`s problems.

And I think she fell into that trap. I think Susan had the right
answer. The best answer would have been, I`m going to the Senate to work
on the people`s business. That means working with everyone who is a
colleague in the Senate to solve the problems. So I`m not going to pick
one side or the other. I`m there to work to solve the problems.

And I think that would have put her in a better position. If you push
back -- if David pushed back and said, well, specifically, someone, then
she could say, look, you`re trying to divide me, divide my job up before I
even get to do it. That`s not how I`m going in to do and be a U.S.
senator.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: And I think that would have been a stronger answer.

MATTHEWS: By the way, she could have mentioned Susan Collins from
Maine.

STEELE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And she could have mentioned Kelly Ayotte right from the
region, other women, anyway, because women tend to be a little better at
this as a general rule.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: They tend to be a little more communitarian, I would argue,
than men.

MILLIGAN: Lisa Murkowski is another one.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Brown, that`s Scott Brown, he stumbled when asked
to name a Supreme Court justice he admires. And his first response is one
that Elizabeth Warren may remind him of in the next month a lot of times.

She was laughing when she heard his answer. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY: Who is your model Supreme Court justice?

BROWN: Let me see here. That`s a great question.

I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge. Justice Kennedy --
Justice Kennedy is obviously very good. And Justice Roberts, they`re --
Justice Sotomayor, there`s -- I think they`re very qualified people there
who actually do a very...

GREGORY: Scalia and Sotomayor don`t exactly...

BROWN: Well, you know what? That`s the beauty of being an
independent, David.

GREGORY: OK.

BROWN: You can actually -- you can actually...

GREGORY: If you had to pick one, if you had to pick one...

BROWN: Listen, I don`t need to pick one. We have plenty of justices
up there and I`m proud of the ones we have.

GREGORY: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: So do you like that slip and slide in the way there? He
starts with one he knew he had made a big boner there. He had a big
problem, so he goes, well, and then he worked his way over to Sotomayor.

MILLIGAN: I know. It was like he was trying to remember the names
of the seven dwarfs, you know? And he was trying to balance it out. I
said Scalia, now I have to say Kennedy or Sotomayor. He just --

MATTHEWS: He was heading left there, Michael. He was skipping away
as fast as he could from the most conservative guy around, Scalia.

STEELE: He was, and that was a very interesting moment. My takeaway
was I wasn`t sure if that`s someone he genuinely admires and likes his
jurisprudence, in his mind, his intellect, with the respect to the court,
or was it the first person that kind of popped into his head, because he
didn`t expect the question, it kind of threw him off a little bit there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: And then he started scrambling.

So, look, if Scalia is generally a guy that you admire, then state
that and move on. Don`t be swayed by the boos in the crowd, you know?
Again --

MATTHEWS: Well, he was.

STEELE: -- if you`re an independent -- well, he was. And then if
you`re an independent mind --

MATTHEWS: He didn`t seem too independent there for a couple seconds.
Michael, he didn`t look too independent for a few seconds.

Anyway, he should have said, I like Scalia, I just don`t agree with
him.

Anyway, Brown`s tone, it`s interesting -- this is a little question
of gender politesse here perhaps drew some boos when he responded to her
criticism of his record on jobs and the economy. Take a look at this very
interesting moment here that has two sides to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: She`s obviously misstating the facts. These were rejection
by both Democrats and Republicans, Professor. It wasn`t a -- if you`re
going to comment on my record, I would at least have you refer to --

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Can we just --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Excuse me.

WARREN: If this is going to be --

DAVID GREGORY, DEBATE MODERATOR: Go ahead.

BROWN: I`m not a student in your classroom. Please let me respond,
OK? Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Why, Susan, do you think the crowd had that instinctive
reaction? Because I`m not sure to that. They didn`t like it.

MILLIGAN: Yes, there`s been an undercurrent involving gender in this
whole campaign and it`s not just coming from Brown.

MATTHEWS: What was it? Interpret it.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLIGAN: The Professor Warren. She`s a scolding schoolmarm, you
know?

MATTHEWS: So, Michael, I think she just got it. It`s not the
professor. That is non-gender specific, but when you say a student in your
classroom, that does sound like Miss Jean Brodie kind of talk, like he`s
talking about somebody in a high school, a woman teacher.

I heard it. I don`t want to jump on it because I don`t dislike this
guy, Scott Brown, but I do think that`s going to hurt him.

STEELE: I don`t know if it will hurt him so much. You know, I get
the point here about how that may have sounded, but, you know, look,
Elizabeth Warren is a player now. She`s like a lot of other women who have
cut a path in politics. She`s doing that, and she`s done so very
effectively.

So, I think we really kind of need to grow up about how we treat
women in politics. Everybody knows something that is misogynist or
condescending to the point of being offensive. I think that doesn`t even
get close to that.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think the audience roared at that one?

STEELE: I think -- that`s probably more political as opposed to
anything having to do with gender.

MATTHEWS: You guys handled this really well. It`s a tough call. I
think this race is really close and I don`t think that debate made it any
less close.

Anyway, thank you, Susan Milligan. Thank you for coming on, from
Massachusetts.

And, Michael, as always, a fair guy.

Anyway, up next, another etch-a-sketch moment for Mr. Mitt Romney.
He`s flipping. He`s flipped in illegal immigration. Now, he won`t revoke,
he says, Obama`s two year old visas for qualified, young illegal
immigrants. He`s flipped so many times.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: One more Senate race the Democrats now think they have a
chance at is the race out in Arizona between Republican U.S. Congressman
Jeff Flakes and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Well, the
Democrats have dreamed of making this contest competitive. And a recent
League of Conservation Voters poll found Carmona trailing by just a point.
So, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going up with these ads
for Carmona in the state, hoping to flip that red state seat currently held
by Jon Kyl to blue.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Mitt Romney has lived up to his reputation as an etch-a-sketch
candidate, a flip-flopper, and here we have another example. Wait until
you catch this one -- immigration.

Just yesterday, Romney told "The Denver Post," scene of the new
debate tomorrow night, that he wouldn`t revoke the visas, the new ones,
that the two-year visas, President Obama has granted to some young illegal
immigrants. Well, back in June, Romney said, quote, "The people who have
received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a
two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I`m
not going to take something that they`ve purchased. Anyway, before those
visas expired, we will have the full immigration reform plan I have
proposed."

Well, compare that to what we heard in the primary campaign about
young people here illegally. With me now -- let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was governor I took
the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws.
When you were governor, you said I don`t want to build a fence. You put in
place a magnet -- you talk about magnet -- you put in place a magnet to
draw illegals into the state which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to
illegals that come into this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Even the lingo he`s using, the derogatory, illegals, as if
they`re not people first. They`re illegals.

With me now is the president for the Center for American Progress,
Neera Tanden, and MSNBC analyst Ron Reagan.

Ron, I want you to start with this. It seems to me -- you and I we
have been together watching this now for months, the evolutionary nature of
this candidate.

Obviously, when he`s running against people he would like to get to
the right of, he uses terms like illegals. He said you`re a magnet. We`re
not going to have any of that. No sympathy, no empathy, nothing. Just
screw these people, kick them out of the country. Have them self-deport.

Now he`s decided when the president when he`s running 70 percent
among Hispanics, he might like a piece of the action.

RON REAGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s exactly right.
This is the slow motion or maybe not so slow motion pivot that we all knew
that Romney was going to try to make. You can almost hear the graphite
sand or whatever it is in the etch-a-sketch shifting around in there as he
tries this.

As you mentioned, it seems like only yesterday and maybe it was only
yesterday or the day before, that this is a guy who was for his immigration
policy was basically self-deportation. That`s a polite way of saying make
people`s lives so miserable that they will flee the country by jumping back
over the wall. But now he`s a friend of the illegal, as he put it.

MATTHEWS: Friend of voters, actually. A friend of voters of voters.

Anyway, Neera it reminds of me of the old -- you say you say neither,
I say neither, but can sing it to himself.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think the interesting
thing about this whole discussion is, you know, there was a story over the
weekend of some of Romney`s own advisers, of course, off the record, I
mean, blind quotes, saying but when he gets in a situation, he really says
what that group wants to hear.

MATTHEWS: It`s called pandering. There`s a word for it.

TANDEN: Like you said, he`s in Colorado --

MATTHEWS: But for us, there`s a thing called as tape. Anyway, look
at this, an interview with NBC`s Ron Allen last week, Mitt Romney pointed
to his Massachusetts health care plan as evidence of his empathy -- a big
word for him right now. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Throughout this campaign as well, we`ve talked about my
record in Massachusetts. Don`t forget, I got everybody in my state
insured. A hundred percent of the kids in our state have health insurance.
I don`t think there`s anything that shows more empathy and care about the
people of this country than that kind of record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There is he, Dr. Feel Good.

But three days earlier, look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We do provide care for people who don`t have insurance,
people -- if someone has a heart attack, they don`t sit in their apartment
and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and
give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for
that care.

REPORTER: That`s the most expensive way to do it, emergency rooms.

ROMNEY: Again, different states have different ways of doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ron, I don`t know where to start with this guy. First, he
wants empathy for creating a wonderful health care plan which covers
practically everybody out there, 97 percent. And then he says, dump them
in the E.R. I mean, which is it? Which is the Romney that we`re looking
for here?

REAGAN: You don`t know where to start with that. It`s so empathetic
of him to provide health insurance for all people in the Massachusetts, but
apparently it wouldn`t be provided for all people in the United States.

MATTHEWS: Forty-nine states, go to the ERA (ph), E.R., rather.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: And of all the stupid things you can say about health care
in the America, what -- it has to be in the top five stupid things, people
can go to the emergency room to get their care. Yes, let`s give the most
expensive, least practical care possible. That`s a great idea.

MATTHEWS: And sit there for a couple hours.

By the way, I love the fact he assumes that everybody is poor or
doesn`t have health insurance lives in an apartment. I mean, there is a
weird urban view of things. There`s probably people living all across this
country, in every kind of housing, rural, suburban, whatever, sometimes
urban, who don`t have health insurance. Don`t you know that?

TANDEN: Yes, I think you could say many things about Mitt Romney --
but in touch with struggling Americans is not one of them. But I think the
issues on health care --

MATTHEWS: So, what`s --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- he`s a right wing or he`s a flipper?

TANDEN: You know, I think the fact that you have no idea what he`ll
say next week is a big challenge.

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s my big question, too. Maybe we`ll find out
tomorrow night.

Neera Tanden, you`ll be watching. Ron Reagan, you`ll be watching.

And when we return, let me finish with a pair of presidential debates
that changed everything and what happened -- there they are -- behind the
scenes of those debates. I`ve got some scoop for you about Richard Nixon
and Jack Kennedy behind the scenes in those debates.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Jack Kennedy was deadly
serious about his four great debates with Richard Nixon. A week before the
first debate, he arranged a secret meeting with CBS` Don Hewitt, who he
knew would be broadcasting the debates. Kennedy wanted a heads up on the
set up at the network`s WPBM studio in Chicago. Where do I stand, he asks
Hewitt, he`s trying to get straight on his positioning of the big night,
the feel of the whole thing?

When Kennedy and Nixon arrived at Chicago studio the night of the
debate, the Democrat grabbed another edge. He knew that his rival had
spent many days in the hospital nursing an infected leg wound. Now, he
could see how awful Nixon look, and this triggered the historic battle of
the makeup. Kennedy had just been in California and as always had worked
on his tan. When Hewitt asked if he wanted makeup, he turned it down
promptly. Nixon always trying to match the guy who had come to Congress
with, just after World War II, also declined makeup.

Well, Bill Wilson, serving as Jack Kennedy`s media adviser, described
what came next. Ted Rogers, who was Nixon`s guy, said, when`s your guy
going to get some makeup on? And I said, well, after your guy is going to
get it. And Rogers was wary. If the other guy didn`t ask for it, his guy
wasn`t going to. Nixon`s not going to get his makeup on until Jack Kennedy
does. I said, it looks like a Mexican standoff. That`s how it happened.

When he got Kennedy alone in his green room, Wilson put makeup on
him. Nixon`s guy ran down and got a product known as Lazy Shave, otherwise
known as beard stick.

Well, Don Hewitt saw the problem the second he set eyes on the two
candidates. He called Frank Stanton, the head of CBS News, into the
control room to see the stark disappearance of the candidates` appearance.
Stanton called Ted Rogers who said he was satisfied the way Nixon, his guy,
looked. That`s not the way the rest of the country saw it that night,
especially after Nixon begn sweating through that beard stick.

Well, a week and a half later, the evening of the second great debate
had arrived, this time the venue was NBC Studios here in Washington where
we produce HARDBALL, where I am right now.

Bill Wilson arrived with the Kennedy brothers discovered that
something was up. Someone had set the temperature practically to freezing.
It felt like a meat locker. "What the hell was this?" Jack wanted to know.
And Bobby darted to the control room.

Wilson himself remembers racing down to the basement looking for the
air-conditioning unit. There was a guy standing there that Ted Rogers put
there for Nixon and he said, don`t let anybody change this. And I said,
get out of the way, I`m going to call the police. He immediately left and
I changed the air conditioning back to normal.

Well, Wilson understood the game and how it was going to be played.
The candidates had their jobs to do, so did their handlers. He said his
opponent, he said, he wanted to keep his job because of the screw-up that
happened in the first debate. This is what goes on in politics.

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

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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