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updated 10/11/2012 12:32:13 PM ET 2012-10-11T16:32:13

HARDBALL
October 10, 2012

Guests: Steve McMahon, Elijah Cummings, Cynthia Tucker, Cecile Richards,
Dee Dee Myers

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Romney splits (ph) again.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews up in New York.

"Let Me Start" with this. What we have here is a failure to
communicate. That`s what the chain gang boss said in "Cool Hand Luke" when
somebody broke the rules. So when`s Mitt Romney going to tell us what he
really thinks, really believes, really thinks voters have a right to know
about what he does if he gets into the White House?

Is he going to let people languish in the emergency room, all 40
million of the uninsured, which happens to be his official position, or is
he going to do something nice for those people, something he won`t let us
know exactly?

Will he push the right-wing agenda on abortion rights, dumping Planned
Parenthood funding, pushing personhood, picking right-wing judges for the
Supreme Court, or will he do what he said just yesterday, nothing, nothing
at all? You`ve got nothing to fear, nothing at all, he said.

I don`t think Romney wants anyone to know what his plans are. He
wants to keep the middle calmly believing that he doesn`t intend to do any
of that mean stuff he keeps promising to do when he sits down with the
right-wing folks on whom he`s set his heart.

Joining me now is Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood,
who`s now volunteering for the Obama campaign, and David Corn with "Mother
Jones," author of the new e-book "47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video
That Rocked the 2012 Election."

Well, here`s where the race stands right now, by the way, before we
get started here tonight. The latest Gallup tracking poll shows Obama
leading Romney 50-45 among registered voters, but among likely voters,
they`re tied now straight up 48 percent. That`s a net 2-point gain for
Obama since yesterday.

Well, if Mitt Romney and the Republicans are in charge, here are just
a few things for women and men to be aware of. Number one, expect a war on
Planned Parenthood. This is Romney in an interview with a local Missouri
reporter back in March.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My test is
pretty simple. Is the program so critical it`s worth borrowing money from
China to pay for it? And on that basis, of course you get rid of "Obama
care." That`s the easy one. But there are others. Planned Parenthood,
we`re going to get rid of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Planned Parenthood. OK. Well, there he is. Romney chose
a VP, by the way, Paul Ryan, who co-sponsored a, quote, "personhood" bill,
of course, with Congressman Todd Akin aboard. That personhood bill
basically guarantees if not the criminalization of abortion, something
close to it.

Anyway, the Republican platform`s completely out of date. It calls
for, quote, "a human life amendment to the Constitution" and supports
legislation to, quote, "make clear that the 14th Amendment`s protections
apply to unborn children."

So unborn children at the age of a couple seconds have the right to
property and liberty. That`ll be interesting.

Number four, if Romney has the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court
justice, here`s what he wants. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: ... help to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will
follow the law and the Constitution. And it would be my preference that
they reverse Roe v. Wade, and therefore they return to the people and their
elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So Cecile Richards, as an expert and as an advocate, what
do we make of this complete divide between what Romney`s saying these days
about health care, about preexisting conditions, about abortion rights,
something you care very much about, and what he`s been saying for months,
if not years?

CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD PRES.: Well, I think what we`re -
- I think what we`re seeing, Chris -- sorry, I lost the audio. I think
what we`re seeing is that Mitt Romney, one, will say anything to get
elected. He`s really been trying to, I think, muddy the waters on women`s
issues.

But it`s very clear, and you made it clear from what you said, he has
pledged to appoint judges to the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe
versus Wade. This is has been a constitutional protection for nearly 40
years for women. He said he`s going to get rid of Planned Parenthood.
That means the 3 million women who depend on us for preventive care every
year.

And he`s also said he`s going to get rid of "Obama care," or the
Affordable Care Act, which has several protections in it for women,
including women being able to get preventive care, like birth control and
cancer screenings covered by insurance companies.

I think he`s taken positions that are so extreme that when women find
them out, they won`t vote for them.

MATTHEWS: Well, in covering his keister these last couple weeks, here
he is in an interview with the editorial board of "The Des Moines
Register." Here Mitt Romney asked about his plans regarding abortion
rights. Here`s his latest cover story. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you intend to pursue any legislation
specifically regarding abortion?

ROMNEY: I don`t -- there`s no legislation with regarding -- with
regards to abortion that I`m familiar with that -- that -- that would
become part of my agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "There`s no legislation with regard to abortion that would
become part of my agenda." Well, that`s a hell of a statement for a guy
who supports personhood, who supports a human life amendment to the
Constitution that would outlaw any abortions permanently.

Anyway -- and it`s a familiar pattern. A Romney spokesperson had to
clean up his remarks again yesterday. In this case, for the right-leaning
"National Review," spokeswoman Andrea Saul told "The National Review
Online," quote, "Governor Romney would of course support legislation aimed
at providing greater protections for life. "

David Corn, I mean, Dee Dee Myers, I have no -- no, David Corn. There
you are.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Here I am.

MATTHEWS: I have no idea, no idea whatever what this means. He says
one thing, his flack comes out -- dutifully comes out and denies 100
percent within an hour or two. This has become treat the media that`s
watching with a story that sells to the middle. And this is for you,
Cecile, because this is so much a part of this campaign of his. And the
minute that`s over, clean up -- have somebody come clean up after the
elephant, clean up the mess for those few people who actually are focusing
on the details.

CORN: Well, this -- this is reminding me of a Monty Python routine.
Do you tax cuts? No, I don`t. Do you support abortion? No, I --
restrictions? No, I don`t. Do you support, you know, education cuts? No,
I don`t.

And then people come out and say, Well, actually, he does. I mean, he
just keeps contradicting himself over and over again on these very basic,
basic fundamental positions. And you know, the right wing should be up in
arms. And then you have Andrea Saul and others, you know, creeping out and
saying, Well, actually, what he meant to say was -- he`s going with a very
top-line campaign strategy.

He gets out there on foreign policy, says, I`m strong, Obama`s weak.
He gets up at the debate and says, I won`t cut taxes for the rich, when
everything he`s said up to then says that he will. I`ll just, you know,
create a better economy by snapping my fingers now.

It`s -- you know, I don`t know how long he can get away with this,
maybe until election day, but he`s just taking this position that it almost
doesn`t matter what he says as long as it sounds good at the time.

MATTHEWS: Cecile, let me ask you about -- when you get up in the
morning and you worry about the possibility of this election going the
wrong way, from your perspective as a volunteer for Obama -- when you
really think -- and you have to talk to your best friends and people you
care most about -- when you tell pro-choice women what they should fear
from this next administration, should it be a Romney administration, what
do you -- what is your concerns? What are the list of concerns you have?

RICHARDS: Well, I think, first of all, the thought that my daughters
would have fewer rights than I do, or that my granddaughters or that other
folks` children, women would literally lose the right to make their own
personal decisions about health care, about having children, is absolutely
incredible. And that is frightening.

I think the other thing, which is a very immediate concern, is, you
know, Planned Parenthood. We see three million patients every year. Many
of these women, we`re their only doctor. This is the one medical visit
they`ll get to get their breast exam, their pap smear, their family
planning services. And Mitt Romney says he`s going to get rid of all that
and doesn`t even seem to care.

And I think there are millions of women in this country who are
concerned. And for them, access to health care, it`s a basic economic
issue.

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to the larger question of health care
because we`re on this topic, David. You know, I can`t -- I think Romney`s
got some pretty good political instincts out there, some chops I didn`t
know about. He seems to know when you`re in a debate with 70 million
people watching, you can`t get away with some of this stuff when you`re
pitching it to the right wing.

I can`t imagine him saying before 70 million people, when he gets a
couple more debates with the president, You know, my idea about health care
is we won`t let you die in your apartment. We`ll dump you in the emergency
room. That`s his plan. He said has it a couple of days ago.

He wouldn`t say that in front of 70 -- he know there`s an on or off
button with this guy. Don`t tell the truth when the big audience is
watching. When you get together with a few right-wingers down in Florida,
Boca Raton, tell them what you really think. And that`s the way he
operates.

CORN: Well, of course, on the preexisting condition thing, he makes
it sound like he supports "Obama care" on that one, and actually, he
doesn`t. And that was another matter when he said, you know, I support,
you know, getting rid of preexisting conditions, too. And then one of his
aides had to come out afterwards and explain to the media, to a much
smaller audience than those watching at home, that`s not really his
position. He`ll only extend that coverage if you have it preexistingly.

And so again and again, he`s talking this top-line talk, I call it,
that sounds good, that is not tethered to anything that he said during the
primaries -- you know, mass self-deportations -- or anything connected to
what`s even on his own Web site. And he`s hoping that people aren`t going
to make the connection.

And I think that kind of bedeviled Obama. There were a lot of reasons
for his poor performance that night, but that made it hard for him because
every time he said something about a Romney position, Romney essentially
said, This parrot isn`t dead.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: And Obama didn`t know didn`t know how to respond to that. I
think better comebacks...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`ll give him some slack on that. Let me go back to
Cecile, who I respect a lot. Cecile, the people who are pro-life, so-
called, always make a point of pulling back from saying they`re
criminalizing a woman`s decision, if she calls a doctor she trusts and they
talk about it, and she may talk to a clergyman or not, but she basically
makes that decision to have an abortion, to terminate a pregnancy -- no one
really comes out and says, Put that woman in jail. They say put the doctor
in jail, suspend his license. But it`s always the other way.

However, my thinking is, once you get to this personhood amendment
thing, this bill, which basically says that the fertilized egg a couple
seconds after sexual activity, whatever, is a person with the rights of the
14th Amendment, life, liberty and property.

It seems to me you`re getting darn close to criminalizing because if
you say that`s a person, then having an abortion is a murder. And
therefore, it seems to me, unless you change common law out there -- I`m
not a lawyer, but unless you start changing all the laws, you got to be
very darn careful about what`s that considered under the law at that point.
And that seems like you`re on the verge of criminalizing abortion rights
right there.

RICHARDS: Well, look, I mean, the personhood movement is so extreme.
This is something that, you know, Mr. Romney said he supports. It`s so
extreme that not only would it overturn Roe, would mean women couldn`t make
their own decisions about their pregnancies, but it would even potentially
criminalize in vitro fertilization. It criminalizes some forms of birth
control. This is such an extreme movement, again, that Mr. Romney has
supported, so extreme that the Mississippi voters rejected personhood when
it was put on the ballot just in November.

And so again, I think this is -- I think David is exactly right. I
think Mr. Romney has one position when he`s talking to, you know, sort of
the broader -- the broader public, but then really, what he believes are
these positions that he`s taken.

And I think the thing that`s of concern is that this Congress has
passed some of the most extreme legislation against women, against women`s
health, and Mitt Romney would be a rubber stamp for the Tea Party Congress.
And I think all of these issues that we`re talking about are absolutely on
the table.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think he`s too big on Lilly Ledbetter, either.

Let`s go to this. Mitt Romney, by the way, began telling a story on
the trail just yesterday about meeting the former Navy SEAL killed in
Benghazi. Well, today Romney mentioned him by name. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I met some wonderful people. One was a former Navy SEAL and
-- Glenn Doherty (ph) And he -- we chatted for a while. He came from
Massachusetts, where I`d been governor. And you can imagine how shocked I
was to learn that he was one of the two Navy -- former Navy SEALs killed in
Benghazi.

When the report came that our consulate had been attacked, that he and
the other SEAL that was killed with him, that they were in a different
place. They were about a mile away in an annex somewhere else in the city.
And when they heard that the consulate was under attack, they went to the
attack. They didn`t hunker down and hide themselves. No, they went there.

That`s what Americans do. When there`s a challenge, when there`s a
threat, we go there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know, David. That strikes me as boosterism of the
most -- crassest kind. He`s talking like a used car salesman there about a
person`s death. What do you make of that?

CORN: He`s certainly trying to exploit this person, and you know,
without the person being able to say anything about it. You know, he`s not
-- he can`t talk about personal examples, such as when he was a missionary
for the Mormon church during Vietnam, even though he supported the war, and
then, you know, run to the challenge himself, he kind of ran away...

MATTHEWS: That`s true.

CORN: ... in the opposite direction. So I think it`s kind of cheap
politics and theatrics to try to make your point on the basis of someone
else when you don`t have anything to point in your own life, any hard
decisions -- even hard decisions that he`s made in which he can say, This
is where I myself showed some spine and some courage and took on a
challenge.

MATTHEWS: Yes, no examples of that. Anyway, one person who agrees
with you is Glenn Doherty`s mother. In a statement today to NBC`s Boston
affiliate, she said -- she made clear she didn`t -- did not approve of this
use of her son`s legacy. The statement reads in part, "I don`t trust
Romney. He shouldn`t make my son`s death part of his political agenda. I
feel when he brings up my son`s death, he`s politicizing it. It`s wrong to
use these brave young men who wanted freedom for all to degrade Obama."
But this afternoon, a Romney adviser told NBC News that Romney will stop
telling the Glenn Doherty story after learning that his family was upset at
the politicization of his death.

Anyway, thank you, Cecile Edwards (SIC) -- Richards, and David Corn.

Coming up: The polls have moved Mitt Romney a bit away from the
Democrats and the Democrats are jumpy right now. Should they be? Well,
one Democrat said, That`s my party, irrational, overconfident, sometimes
near irrational despair. My -- but I say take -- well, buckle your
seatbelts and start driving this campaign and stop worrying so much.

Here`s one mini-thought -- less Big Bird and more Big Dog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before the
debate, they all got together and said, Hey, man, this ship is sinking
faster than the Titanic! But people are still frustrated about the
economy. They want it fixed yesterday. So just show up with a sunny face
and say, I didn`t say all that stuff I said the last two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s Bill Clinton showing the Democrats how to take on
Romney/Ryan. Let`s hope they get the message starting now.

Also, what really happened in that fatal attack in Benghazi?
Republicans are charging the State Department with lax security. Democrats
say Republicans are just trying to score points off a tragedy.

And a CEO tells his employees if a certain candidate wins the
presidency, he may just have to fire people. See if you can guess which
candidate this guy -- this billionaire actually opposes.

Well, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The campaign ads Republicans in Missouri have been dreading
are here. Senator Claire McCaskill has launched three new ads all
featuring women who have survived rape and all criticizing Todd Akin for
his comments about so-called "legitimate rape." Take a look at part of one
of the new ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a Republican and a pro-life mother and a
rape survivor. In the hospital, I was offered emergency contraception.
Because of my personal beliefs, I declined. Here`s what else I believe.
No woman should be denied that choice. What Todd Akin said is offensive,
but what he believes is worse. He would criminalize emergency
contraception. I`ve never voted for Claire McCaskill, but because of Todd
Akin, I will now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the polls in Missouri are close, with McCaskill
holding onto a slim lead.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. You could start to see or feel,
actually, the nervousness after last week`s debate, but the fears have
grown as some Democrats hope they`re not watching their chances of winning
a second term evaporate alongside President Obama`s lead in the polls.

Time for an intervention, perhaps? Can Democrats right their ship, or
is something really wrong in this campaign? I couldn`t have a bigger
question for everybody here.

Dee Dee Myers served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton and
Steve McMahon is Democratic strategist.

Dee Dee, old friend, you`ve been through some tough ones and some
bumps on the road and you`ve gotten through them with the help of your
boss, President Clinton, and others. You`ve been through a lot of local
politics you know all about out in San Francisco.

And I just wonder, where are we at now? Is this a bump in the road,
or this a real ditch that the campaign`s in, looking at these numbers?

DEE DEE MYERS, CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, it`s a
bump in the road. The fundamentals of this race haven`t changed. The
Electoral College map simply -- it`s simply a fact that it`s a much harder
road to 270 for Mitt Romney than it is for Barack Obama. and as long as
Obama is still leading in places like Ohio, which he is, it`s very hard --
the road to victory of Mitt Romney gets really narrow.

That said, you know, the president had a bad night last week. And we
Democrats, as we sometimes do, made it worse by everyone running around
with their hair on fire for a week and saying how horrible it was. And the
truth is, right in the aftermath of that debate, the Republicans knew they
had a good night, but they weren`t as confident of victory as they were
after they looked at us for a little while.

So, you know, everyone has been saying it for the last couple of days.
We just need to sort of settle back, get back to basics, get back to
blocking and tackling. The president needs to have a better performance in
the next two debates than he did in the first one. But this race is still
fundamentally the president`s to lose.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And the people have different jobs. If I see Biden
blow it tomorrow night, I`m going to say so. And maybe someone like Dee
Dee is going to say...

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS: Well, you certainly made your position clear in the first
debate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know. Well, thanks for rubbing it in.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But the fact is I have a different job than you do.

Anyway, Steve McMahon, fixing this thing, getting it going again, my
attitude is buckle your seat belts and turn on the gas, go do your thing.
Can Biden do his thing? Can President Obama do his thing now, forgetting
what Romney is -- just go for what you`re good at?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Joe Biden is probably the
most experienced and seasoned debater in the Democratic Party right now and
he`s very, very good on his feet.

And people don`t remember this, but after George Bush had a bad debate
after John Kerry in the first debate, Dick Cheney came in and basically
changed the trajectory of the race again.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, he dismembered John Edwards. He killed him.

MCMAHON: He did.

And I think that Joe Biden can get the Joe-mentum, if you will, back
for the Obama campaign by going in there and reminding people what it is
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would do if Mitt Romney is elected president.

Mitt Romney has placed his arms around and embraced the Paul Ryan
budget plan, and there are a lot of things in there that the president
didn`t mention the other night that Joe Biden will focus on, starting with
Medicare.

And then there`s the 47 percent remark. And I think you will be
hearing a lot more about that both tomorrow night and in the next debate.
The president showed up last week for a news conference where he answered
the questions that were asked, but he was being presidential and he didn`t
engage his opponent.

Mitt Romney came for a debate. And he was prepared for a debate and
he debated the president. I think the next time you see President Obama,
he is going to come ready for a debate.

MATTHEWS: Well, here is he. Guys, here he is on the Tom Joyner radio
show, very popular national show today. And he said he was too polite in
last week`s debate. Let`s listen to the president.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, you know, the
debate, I think it`s fair to say, I was just too polite, because, you know,
it`s hard to sometimes just keep on saying, what you`re saying isn`t true.
It gets repetitive. But the good news is, is that`s just the first one.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, is that the number one job of the president, to be
the fact-checker, or is the number one job to go out and sell what you have
done the last four years? Should you go positive or negative? Which way
should you go to win the next debate when he gets in there?

MYERS: Well, you can be positive while being negative, which -- or be
negative while being positive.

The president`s problem wasn`t that he was too polite. The
president`s problem was that he didn`t come with a strong narrative frame,
right, both for defending his own accomplishments and his own record,
giving us some idea of where we`re going in the next term and holding Mitt
Romney accountable for having 87 positions on every issue.

Yes, it gets repetitive, but if you continue to frame the issue, you
know, in a more elegant way, which we know the president`s capable of, you
can remind the audience over and over, because Mitt Romney has flip-flopped
over and over.

So, I hope we see not only a -- and the president can remain polite.
I just hope we see a more aggressive defense and a better frame, a better
narrative around who he is and what he`s done and where we`re going as a
country.

MATTHEWS: How does he do this? Let me just start with the negative.
I think he -- or the negative. That`s more fun right now. Let`s play
defense here.

What about going after this 47 percent, when Romney was being taped,
not when he was on national television, but when he thought he wasn`t on
national television, when he basically dismissed half the country for being
slackers, moochers, and whatever, loafers? When he did that, that wasn`t
something he was saying by accident. That was something that is serious.
Can he still go after that once Romney`s taken it back?

MCMAHON: Yes, absolutely. And he needs to go after it.

And one of the things he need to do, as Dee Dee points out, there are
three chapters to this story. The first chapter is look what I inherited
and look at the situation that confronted me the moment I walked in the
office. The second chapter is, look what we did. And every single thing
that we did, maybe it didn`t work as fast or as well as we would have
liked, but it`s working now.

And every single thing that we did, the Republicans and Mitt Romney
tried to keep us from doing. And then going forward, the question is, what
kind of an economy are we going to have? Are we going to have one that
grows from the middle out or that depends upon the top-down, trickle-down
economics that the Republicans and Mitt Romney favor?

You heard his attitude about the 47 percent, about the people who go
to work every single day. That`s the -- that`s the way Mitt Romney thinks
about America. And it`s not the kind of America that I believe in or our
party believes in and it`s not the kind of America we will have if Barack
Obama is reelected.

He needs to do all three chapters. Part of it`s negative and -- or
comparative is the way we like to think of it, but -- part of it`s real,
what he inherited. Part of it -- but part is also perspective- and future-
oriented because there`s a choice in this election about what kind of an
economy we are going to have when we come out of this recession.

MATTHEWS: You know, let me ask you about that, because it seems to me
they have been talking about Big Bird. Should they sort of drop that mini-
idea?

MYERS: Yes.

MCMAHON: Yes.

MYERS: They should have dropped that.

You know, it`s funny cocktail party chatter, but it isn`t -- the
election is too important. One of the things the president needs to do is
use Mitt Romney`s flip-flopping around as part of the narrative, right? I
mean, you can`t lead if you don`t know where you`re going, right?

And if Romney isn`t going to lead, we know who will lead, the radical,
right-wing, Tea Party Congress. And he will be yoked to them like Ahab to
Moby-Dick, and they`re going to drive the train. And that`s not the
country that we want to have. That`s the kind of economy that is going to
be good for the middle class. It will be about the 47 percent vs.
everybody else.

And the president needs to make that argument. It certainly plays
into what Romney has been saying and what he is vulnerable on, not just in
the last debate, but over his entire career, going back to his first run
for public office against Ted Kennedy, who called him -- who said his
position on abortion was multiple choice because he couldn`t even decide
where he stood on an issue that is pretty clear to most voters.

MCMAHON: Chris, if I could just make one statement in defense of the
Obama campaign, if you think about what they were walking into the other
night, the Romney campaign had had a series of bad months, not just bad
weeks or bad days, but bad months.

And I don`t think they felt like the Romney campaign was much of a
threat. A lot of Republicans were talking about whether Romney was going
to go over the cliff and take the whole party with him. So, even his own
party mates were wondering whether he was going to be an effective
candidate.

A different guy showed up for that debate, the governor of
Massachusetts, somebody who appears moderate, even though perhaps he isn`t
as moderate as he appears, but who sounded really good and really
convincing.

The president chose not to engage him because I think he felt like
that the Mitt Romney that he had been seeing all those weeks wasn`t the
Mitt Romney that was going to turn the campaign around. Unfortunately,
that`s not what they saw. It was a miscalculation. They won`t make that
miscalculation again.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Dee Dee Myers and thank you, Steve
McMahon.

MCMAHON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, Jimmy Fallon takes us on a tour through Mr.
Romney`s neighborhood. Sound familiar?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

Jimmy Fallon takes on Mitt Romney`s plan to cut funding for PBS with a
visit to Mr. Romney`s neighborhood. You must know where this is headed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": It`s fun to use
your imagination.

And, you know, I love to have fun and laugh. Ha, ha, ha.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: With an imagination, why, this simple piece of string here
could be any number of things. It can`t be that. It could be anything.
It could be -- that doesn`t make any sense.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Could be -- it could be a piece of twine.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: You know what, this is stupid, so who even -- oh, hey, look,
it`s the trolley.

It`s on the way to the neighborhood of make-believe. That`s where me
and Paul Ryan get most of our facts from.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So, where was Mr. Feely, know, the neighborhood`s speedy
deliveryman? Voters want to know.

Anyway, we have all flubbed a phone number or two at some point,
right? Well, that simple mistake turned out to be a whopper for Florida
Governor Rick Scott. During a meeting yesterday on a meningitis outbreak
in the state, Scott directed anyone with concerns to a toll-free hot line.

The problem? Well, here`s what callers heard when they dialed the
number Scott had given.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, boys. Thank you for calling me on my
anniversary. Existing callers, press one. New callers, press two.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Doesn`t that sound -- well, it doesn`t sound much
like the Department of Health, does it?

Well, get this. Callers concerned about meningitis were directed in
this case to call an adult phone line. The governor was later notified of
the mistake and it was quickly rectified, but not before a few people fell
victim, or whatever.

Next, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh -- he`s a wonder -- unveils a
gotcha photograph of his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, or so thinks
Joe Walsh. Here`s Walsh at a debate with Duckworth last night. We don`t
get a great look at his snapshot, but leave it to Walsh to explain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Last point.

I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg Sunday, two days before the
Democratic Convention, when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in
Charlotte, if you can look at the picture, picking out a dress for her
speech Tuesday night.

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What`s that supposed to mean? So, Duckworth shouldn`t have
picked something to wear for the Democratic Convention while her opponent
was so nobly marching in a local parade?

Anyway, Duckworth acknowledged the bizarre -- that bizarre attack
later on in the debate, later on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I do
sometimes look at the clothes I wear. But for most of my adult life, I
have worn one color. It`s called camouflage.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She wore camouflage when she was fighting for the country.
Anyway, Duckworth of course is an Iraq war veteran.

Finally, a billionaire CEO tells his employees that come Election Day
if President Obama wins, you just might lose your job. Here`s part of a
memo sent around by David Siegel, the CEO of a major time-share company --
quote -- "If any new taxes are levied on me or my company, as our current
president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this
company. Rather than grow this company, I will be forced to cut back.
This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for
everyone. So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which
candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn`t?
Whose policies will endanger your job?"

Well, Siegel`s fear tactic isn`t entirely new. He says this one is
similar to a form letter that some other CEOs sent around back in 2008 on
John McCain`s behalf. How did that work out?

Up next: What really happened in that deadly attack on our consulate
in Libya? Republicans say the State Department dropped the ball, but
Democrats say Republicans are playing politics with a tragedy.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Worries about global growth sinks stocks. The Dow slid triple digits
again, losing 120 points, the S&P falling nine, the Nasdaq ending lower by
13.

The Fed`s so-called Beige Book on retail economic conditions showed
home prices improved in most areas, but consumer spending was mostly flat
from August to September. And FedEx shares surged after the company said
it plans to cut costs at its express air freight and services division.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, there was some politically charged moments today on Capitol Hill
as Darrell Issa`s Oversight Committee held a hearing looking into that
September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Issa and the other Republicans have accused the administration of
giving false information in the aftermath of the attack. Official, as well
as news accounts of the incident characterized it as a spontaneous protest
that arose over an anti-Muslim film in the United States.

Well, here was Issa today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN: Yesterday, the State Department begain the process of coming
clean about what occurred in Benghazi.

Contrary to early assertions by the administration, let`s understand,
there was no protest and cameras reveal that, and the State Department, the
FBI and others have that video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Democrats charged that the hearing itself was
politically motivated and that Republicans have left them out of the
investigation. Here was ranking member Elijah Cummings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: We need to carefully, very
carefully investigate allegations that have been made over the past week,
and we need to run them to the ground before we jump to conclusions.

We should not be about the business of drawing concludes and then
looking for the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For more on today`s hearing and the politics behind it,
we`re joined by NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O`Donnell.

Kelly, I guess the fundamental question is not just the motive, people
are partisan by nature I guess in politics, but the idea of something
really being covered up here. How did they proceed there today and get
anywhere with that?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Republicans who are
running this committee really wanted to get at why was the government
giving out information that they now acknowledge was incorrect, that the
video that you talked about was somehow the spark that set this off?

There was a lot of friction about that during the committee hearing.
And, as you heard Chairman Issa say, there is apparently videotape that the
government has that shows that it was very calm there about an hour before
the -- sort of the melee began, so a lot of frustration about that, still a
sense that they`re not getting all the answers they want.

Some of that is because there`s an ongoing investigation, in fact, three of
them. The people from the State Department who were there to give
testimony had some concern about stepping on the investigation. So, that`s
part of it.

The other part is a real inquiry about what should the level of
security be because two of the men who were at the witness table had been a
part of security in Libya, claimed that they had made requests for
additional support on the ground, based on things they were seeing there
and that that had been denied.

So, now, it`s a question of, were the right decisions made about the
level of security needed?

And, of course, after something this deadly, that makes the decisions
made earlier look like there were problems. And the State Department
official who made the decision still believes they had the right number of
personnel on the ground the day this happened, but that this was not
something that could have been prevented because of the -- what they called
unprecedented level of attack.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: OK. Thank you, Kelly O`Donnell for the facts.

One of the witnesses today, U.S. regional security officer Eric
Nordstrom, he testified extra security wouldn`t have prevented the tragic
deaths in Benghazi. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC NORDSTROM, U.S. REGIONAL SECURITY OFFICER: Let me say a word
about the evening of September 11th. I had not seen an attack of such
ferocity and intensity previously in Libya, nor in my time with the
diplomatic security service.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: You said, quote, "having an
extra foot -- extra foot of wall or extra half dozen guards or agents would
not have enabled to respond to that kind of assault." Did you write that?

NORDSTROM: Yes, I did and I still believe that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat of Maryland, is a
ranking member. That`s the senior member on the Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform.

Congressman, this question. First of all, do you have evidence or
did you hear testimony today that clearly said that the people at the
embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi had asked for more
security help and that had been rejected? Is that a fact? Do we know?

CUMMINGS: We heard some testimony today to that effect, but on the
other hand one of those witnesses, Eric Nordstrom, made it clear that he
had had good cooperation. As a matter of fact, he complimented the efforts
of the State Department.

So, we had -- this was a hearing, Chris, that was a bit premature.
That`s one of the things I`ve said over and over again. We`ve got -- with
regard to this kind of manner, it needs to be bipartisan and it needs to be
a thorough hearing. And I think basically what the Republicans did here,
and it pains me to say it, but they rushed to have a hearing -- basically,
I think, to give Governor Romney some ammunition against the president.
That`s how I see it.

MATTHEWS: What about this fact that apparently the Republicans in
the House were the ones who wanted -- who cut, effectively, half a billion
in security costs?

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly right. Over the
past two budget cycles, Chris, they`ve -- each -- I mean, total, it`s been
about half of a billion dollars they`ve taken away from -- under from the -
- they`ve taken from the president`s request some half a billion dollars
for security at these embassies. But on the other hand, then they come in
and they say, oh, we should have more security. And they`re all upset.

But the fact is, that this cut, cut, cuts. We`re beginning to see,
Chris, how those cuts do affect people and affect lives, sadly.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about the fact. It seems an embassy can
withstand or should be able to withstand a crowd, a bunch of civilians out
there raising hell and waiving flags and burning flags and all that stuff.
That requires the use of perhaps tear gas, perhaps smoke bombs, whatever,
maybe rubber bullets to keep them at bay and protect the lives of those
inside. But what kind of a force would you need to protect heavily armed,
well-armed terrorists? It would seem that would be a very -- incredibly
fortified situation where you can actually to fight off terrorists.

Does anybody think we should have that kind of armaments available to
diplomats?

CUMMINGS: Even Mr. Issa`s witnesses said that there was no way that
we could have fought off this the way we deal with our embassies. Unless
you were trying to fortify them like we do in Iraq. And their budget is
about -- probably 30 times what we would have in Libya.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CUMMINGS: It would take just a tremendous force. And, basically,
keep in mind, Chris, we have agreements whereby the local folk are
basically pretty much responsible for helping us to defend our embassies.
So, it`s a very difficult situation.

But again, I think we`ve got to go guard forward in a bipartisan way
and get to the bottom of this. It`s hard to put your lives in the hands of
militiamen anyway. But thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Elijah
Cummings, for that insight.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Bill Clinton to the rescue. The Big Dog as he`s
called, Bubba, Elvis, whatever you want to call him, is back on the trail
helping the president get juice in this campaign. We got to watch him in a
minute. Nothing more fun than watching Bill Clinton back in action, coming
up here in a minute.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, if you want to know where the presidential campaigns
are battling this week, check out the top advertising markets where they`re
spending the most money on TV ads around the country.

Number five: Toledo, Ohio. Look at that one up there.

Number four: Denver, site of last week`s debate.

Number three is Cleveland, another Ohio state -- city.

Number two: Norfolk, Virginia.

And for the top market for presidential campaign ads this week:
Orlando, Florida. So, you see where the action is.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I had a different reaction to
that first debate than a lot of people did. I mean, I thought -- I
thought, wow. Here`s old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy? I missed
you all these last two years?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back and that was, of course, Bill Clinton last
night in Las Vegas, giving President Obama a helping hand.

Ever since the Democratic convention last month, the former president
has shown why politicians of all stripes consider him the best President
Obama doesn`t have -- the best President Obama out there. Obama doesn`t
have a better ally out there working the trail for him.

In fact, let`s listen to more with the Big Dog, as we say, had to say
about Romney`s debate performance.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It was like one of these Bain Capital deals, you know,
where he`s the closer. So, he shows up, doesn`t really know much about the
deal and says, tell me what I`m supposed to say to close. Now, the problem
with this deal is, the deal was made by severe conservative Mitt. That was
how he described himself for two whole years, until three or four days
before the debate, they all got together and said, hey, man, this ship is
sinking faster than a Titanic but people are still frustrated about the
economy, they want to fix yesterday.

So just show up with a sunny face and say, I didn`t say all that
stuff I said the last two years. I don`t have that tax plan I have for the
last two years.

You want to believe me or your lying eyes here. Come on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: With final weeks of the campaign, the Obama campaign may
want to use a little more of the Big Dog and less of Big Bird, you might
say.

Anyway, MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson is a columnist for
"The Washington Post", and Cynthia Tucker is a visiting professor of the
University of Georgia.

Cynthia, it always brings our spirits up to see Bill Clinton. He
does manage to enjoy life in all its aspects, even a down night for other
people. He finds the joy, which is this guy is a bit of a con artist and
he`s reinvented the old Massachusetts governor for the purpose of 90
minutes and whenever anybody is really listening and the big crowd, then he
reversed to the old bad stuff the minute that nobody is really looking.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: And, Chris, he explains all that
in terms that people understand. He does it with a smile on his face. He
doesn`t seem in any way mean or harsh or vindictive.

He seems funny, which is -- it`s also clear that Bill Clinton is
having a good time. He enjoys being on the campaign trail. He enjoys
politics in a way that I don`t think President Obama does.

And this gives him a great excuse for the first time in four years to
be out with political crowds which he loves. And he`s having a great time
doing it.

MATTHEWS: I think that the president doesn`t know that there`s music
in politics as well as lyrics.

Bill Clinton fully, Gene, fully appreciates the musical factor.
Listen to that voice. He even lets his voice run out of range so he can
make a point more hilariously, you know.

Anyway, at the rally in Las Vegas last night, Bill Clinton took on
the crazy conspiracy theories that have arisen over Friday`s job number.
The unemployment rate dropped to 7.8. Some Republicans said that the
administration cooked the books or they tried. They didn`t quite say they
did it, they just pulled back.

Here is Clinton taking them on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Did you ever see a lot of squalling (ph) that the
Republicans did after last month`s unemployment rate came out at 7.8
percent? I was kind of embarrassed for them, weren`t you? Oh, they were
whining and moaning as a conspiracy.

Now, keep in mind, you heard them at their convention, they must have
talked about the unemployment rate 65 or 70 times at their convention. As
long as the numbers were above 8 percent, those numbers were just like the
Ten Commandments Moses brought down from Sinai. What`s they got below 8
percent, there was some sick conspiracy to invade the government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Gene, I just love the way he wiggles his fingers like an
old preacher. He`s like, we got trouble in River City. He does that
thing.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: You know, he`s better at that now
than he used actually because he`s free. He`s not president anymore. He
can go on these flights of rhetoric.

You know, it`s interesting what you said about the music of politics.
President Obama understands music but it`s a different kind of music. His
is more like classical music. And Bill Clinton is more like jazz, more
spontaneous, improvisational.

You know, you`ve got -- Obama, you`ve got Beethoven, right? It`s
sort of profound and soaring in terms of the rhetoric but it`s not
improvisational. It`s not quick the way Clinton is.

MATTHEWS: It`s also I think the use of -- weaken sarcasm with a
smile. My hero, Churchill, said, I like a man who grins when he fights.
Bill Clinton has a grin when he fights.

ROBINSON: Yes, he does. And he`s obviously really enjoying himself.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s great fun.

ROBINSON: But he`s also -- he`s being tactically really smart
because he can go there in a way with all that motion and all those
gestures in a way that is difficult for President Obama to do, either
because he`s president or that`s not his kind of music. So, Bill Clinton
knows exactly what he`s doing and he`s being very effective.

MATTHEWS: Last thought, 10 seconds, Cynthia, will Joe Biden have
music, as well as lyrics tomorrow night?

TUCKER: I think he will. I mean, I think -- let`s hope he doesn`t
get too improvisational.

MATTHEWS: Ha!

TUCKER: But I think Joe Biden likes politics, too, and enjoys the
music and enjoys a good political brawl.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let Joe be Joe, I`d say. Bring it on. Talking about
Grandpa Finnegan, it works. Say Scranton 30 times, it doesn`t bother me.
Come on, Joe.

Anyway, thank you, Cynthia Tucker. And thank you, Eugene Robinson.

When we return, let me finish with whether President Obama is better
with a good debate performance or a good unemployment rate, which he
actually got.

You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this -- it`s what you do with
what you`ve got.

Question: would President Obama be better off if he`d won last week`s
debate but then have a jobless rate spiked up to 3/10, a point above where
it was, up to 8.5? Or is he better off for having lost last week`s first
debate but seeing the jobless rate drop down below 8 percent, down to 7.8
percent?

A political prov (ph) will say, go with what you got. You`ve got a
bad break at the debate but a great rate on the jobless rate. Sell it.
Get out there and hit the bricks, buddy. Let the other side talk of last
Wednesday night. You get out there and sell what we`ve got Friday morning.

Reagan got elected with a sun blazing "Morning in America" with 7.2
number. You ought to get re-elected soundly with 7.8 percent. He went 525
electoral votes. All you need is 270, about half of that. So it may not
be time for a got it made attitude like we had before the first debate, but
it`s a very good time for some sound, solid professional confidence, that
by taking the right steps now, going full bored with what you have to sell,
you will win this thing.

And 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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