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updated 10/15/2012 12:12:03 PM ET 2012-10-15T16:12:03

HARDBALL
October 12, 2012

Guests: Joe Klein, Shira Toeplitz, Mik Moore, Lizz Winstead

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The Biden offensive.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

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

"Let Me Start" tonight with the strange bedfellows of the abortion
debate. We just got a good look at this pair. Mitt Romney says he`s pro-
life but doesn`t intend to do anything that`s pro-life. Ryan says he`s
pro-life and means it. He wants to dump Roe v. Wade and have the
politicians decide the issue state by state.

He and his cohorts would then proceed to ban it in every sate they
could, closing abortion rights down in to as few states as possible. In
this way, they would make banning of abortion a matter of geography. The
more states they could get to pass a ban, the further a woman would have to
travel to have one.

Presumably, abortion would be safe and legal in coastal states like
New York and California. Live in the middle, however, and you`d have to
leave not just your town, not just the state, but maybe the entire region
to get to a state where your decision would be respected. Well, this is
Ryan`s plan for American women.

But he doesn`t stop there. He`s also a co-sponsor of the "personhood"
bill that would declare a fertilized human egg a person with all the 14th
Amendment rights of life, liberty, and property, as well. If enacted, it
would not just outlaw abortion, it would make it murder.

Joining me right now to absorb those facts and their implications are
Alex Wagner of "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER" at noon on MSNBC and Ron Reagan,
author and radio talk show host from Seattle.

I have to start with a woman. Makes sense, doesn`t it, Alex?

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST "NOW": It does. It does.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go with you. It does make sense. There weren`t any
women arguing this last night, of course. But it does seem to me strange
that here we are in the second debate, at the very end, when Martha
Raddatz, to her credit, brought up these philosophical questions.

And finally, out of nowhere, like a jack-in-the-box, you begin to hear
the real thinking, the real planning, the real philosophy, the future,
perhaps, if he gets elected vice president, of Paul Ryan.

What did you make of the fact we got this at the tail end of an hour-
and-a-half debate?

WAGNER: Well, I will say I thought Martha Raddatz did overall -- she
was a tough, good moderator, but I thought it was a real failure on her
part to not bring up more of the women`s freedoms issues, which is to say -
- I mean, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have very, very extreme positions on
women`s reproductive rights. And to sort of bookend or to just end -- give
it, like, five to ten minutes in what is the only vice presidential debate
I think was really shortchanging the issue.

That said, if Paul Ryan -- or, sorry, if Joe Biden drew blood last
night, I thought it was on this issue in particular. This is not an issue
of contraception coverage. These aren`t nuanced positions on, you know,
the Catholic church and reproduction. This is fundamentally the question
of whether women have the right to choose, and Paul Ryan could not answer
the question.

And to many, many women from both sides of the aisle, this is
something that you vote on. I mean, this is not a subtle sort of tax
policy nuance. This is about having the choice to have an abortion and the
dialogue that goes on between a woman and her doctor. And it was clear
that the Romney-Ryan ticket is in a place that the Obama-Biden ticket is
not.

MATTHEWS: Well, you made a point that I like to make. We can argue
about a lot of issues, as I said last night in our debate coverage at
MSNBC. There were a lot of issues debated last night, like Benghazi and
things like that, which are vitally important but they`re not exactly a
voting issues.

Let me go to you, Ron, Ron Reagan. A voting issue, of course, is the
definition of an issue like gun rights to some people who are hunters or
sportsmen. They`ll vote on that issue alone.

A lot of women -- not just single women, many women -- are watching
very carefully what these male politicians are saying about their rights,
and that`s how they vote sometimes.

RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
indeed, and as well they should. And it`s tempting to say that, well, you
know, Paul Ryan might be the extremist here, but Mitt Romney, he`s the
reasonable guy, and you know, he`s at the head of the ticket. That`s
exactly what Paul Ryan is saying now. Well, it`s Romney`s ticket and so
exceptions for life...

MATTHEWS: Depends which day of the week.

REAGAN: ... life of the mother and -- yes. Exactly. Exactly. But
actually, Mitt Romney is not so moderate himself. If you look back at his
record, which is really one long series of equivocations and calibrations
on the subject of abortion, you realize that he doesn`t really have any
strong personal feelings himself, or doesn`t seem to.

When he was running for the Senate in Massachusetts, for instance, he
was told by his pollster that, basically, you have to be pro-choice or you
can`t win in Massachusetts. So he effectively became pro-choice.

As he gets ready to run for president, when he`s been governor of
Massachusetts, now he needs to be anti-choice, and so that`s what he
becomes. While he`s governor of Massachusetts, though, and preparing to
run for governor, he actually vetoed an emergency contraception bill.

In other words, a woman comes in and says, I`ve been raped or maybe my
contraceptive device didn`t work last night and I`m afraid I might become
pregnant, I need something to prevent a pregnancy -- no, Mitt Romney
doesn`t think women should have that available to them. And Paul Ryan, of
course, doesn`t think that they should be able to have an abortion in the
case of rape or incest, either.

MATTHEWS: I want to show some tape in just a second, but back to you,
Alex, because you`re so good at this. Let me ask you this. We`ve had
people flip-flop, but this guy flips within hours. This week, he said he
was not going to do anything -- I`m going back to Mitt Romney now on this
sort of strange bedfellows ticket.

He`s out there saying, I`m not going to do anything on abortion
rights, and then Andrea Saul, who works for him, immediately corrected it
right after and said, Oh, yes, he is. By the way, she called "The National
Review," a conservative magazine, to make the point.

So what is the policy, what the flack says afterward, the assistant
says afterwards, or what he says when most people are watching? It`s again
one of those 40 percent -- 47 percent things. The bigger the audience, the
less likely he is to tell you the truth.

WAGNER: I mean, we have likened Mitt Romney`s positions to a
carousel. I mean, one day it`s this color horse, the next day it`s another
color horse. It just spins `round and `round.

But what we do know -- I mean, to be honest, Chris, Grover Norquist
has said, We just need someone sitting in the executive office that has
enough functioning digits to sign on the dotted line. And that`s usually
sort of used and bandied about in the context of taxes and the economy.
But really, that goes as far as social policy.

And I don`t think anybody truly knows what Mitt Romney thinks about
whether a woman should have the right to choose. What I do think is that
he is governed by the loudest, strongest voices in his own party. And he
makes fear-based decisions, in that sense.

And given that, and give the extremes to which the Republican Party
has come on every issue concerning women and their bodies, whether that`s
Planned Parenthood funding, whether that`s shutting down the last remaining
abortion clinics in certain parts of the country, or the basic question of
a woman`s right to choose, they have shanghaied this party on the fringes
of the right. And Mitt Romney -- why should we think he would do anything
differently?

MATTHEWS: And he has yet to show any effort or any strength, by the
way, at any point in this campaign of standing up to the right when they
put pressure on him.

Anyway, on the issue of abortion, the differences between the two
tickets could not have been clearer or the stakes more evident. Here`s
Paul Ryan on why he opposes a woman`s right to choose. Let`s listen to the
man himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I believe that life
begins at conception. That`s why -- those are the reasons why I`m pro-
life. Now, I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people
who don`t agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney administration
will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of
the mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Outlaw abortion. Anyway, the vice president himself,
Biden, Joe Biden, laid out his position and how he squares it with his
Catholic faith. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With regard to
abortion, I accept my church`s position on abortion as a what we call a de
fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That`s the church`s judgment.
I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and
Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here,
the congressman.

I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that --
women that they can`t control their body. It`s a decision between them and
their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court. I`m not going to
interfere with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the extreme ideology involved here -- first
Ron. He subscribes to -- in fact, he`s a co-sponsor, Paul Ryan, along with
a great guy, Akin, Todd Akin from Missouri, who`s fighting it out there
with Claire McCaskill, who`s made his notorious statements about so-called
"legitimate," as opposed to other kinds of rape or whatever. Anyway, here
we go...

REAGAN: That great scientist, Todd Akin.

MATTHEWS: With his theories about reproductive reality. Anyway -- or
unreality. Look at this thing. He basically supports and co-sponsors a
bill that would provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with
fertilization. In other words, it`s a, basically, personhood amendment.
You become a person at the split second of fertilization -- after the act
of procreation, of sex, you are a person right there, basically.

And then he goes on in the GOP platform, which if you think it doesn`t
matter (INAUDIBLE) human life amendment to the Constitution -- they`re
supporting it. And they support legislation to, quote, "make clear that
the 14th Amendment`s protections apply to unborn children," 14th Amendment
protection of life, liberty and property under the 14th Amendment.

Well, there you have exactly the opposite of what Mitt Romney said
this week when he was interviewed, when he said there`s not going to be any
legislation coming. Here`s legislation to give 14th Amendment protections
that we all have to unborn children.

This is something they keep sneaking in. They keep putting it in co-
sponsored bills. They put in their platform. And it`s like if they get in
power and they do it, they can always say to people who voted, Well, look,
we told you. You just weren`t looking at the fine print. You were
listening to the speeches when there was a big room there, not when we were
in there writing platforms and co-sponsoring bills. You should have paid
attention, lady, to the whole thing because we were telling you what we`re
going to do, take away your right to choose, and you should have known it.

REAGAN: That`s right...

MATTHEWS: I mean, I`m being blunt. I wish they`d be blunt, but they
don`t want to be blunt.

REAGAN: Well, they`re blunt sometimes. They`re blunt among
themselves. But this is exactly how radical this is. Think about what
that would mean. A fertilized egg is a human being, with all the rights
that human beings have.

In other words, if a woman was pregnant, say a month pregnant, and
decided she wanted to run a marathon, and as a result had a miscarriage,
she could be charged with negligent homicide under this law. Certain kinds
of contraception would be illegal under this law. Women who had abortion
would be murderers under this law.

That is the sort of thinking that animates Paul Ryan.

MATTHEWS: Well, the other reason -- and this is something I know they
never thought of, Alex -- and I`m kidding here because it`s so unreal, the
whole idea of -- if you`re here without papers, if you`re undocumented,
you`re an illegal immigrant, if you want to put it that way, and you`re in
the country and you get pregnant, well, that pregnancy is a person under
the 14th Amendment and certainly can`t be taken out of the country.
They`re a citizen of the United States! So you can`t leave!

So if you don`t want to get thrown out of the country, just have --
get pregnant and you`re -- they can`t even move you without violating the
14th Amendment rights of life, liberty and property of the fertilized egg.

WAGNER: You know...

MATTHEWS: And this is how unthinking I think they are within their
own prejudicial map they try to figure out. Your thoughts.

WAGNER: Massive hypocrisy and short-term thinking, I think, is
characterizing almost all of the Republican thinking around women and their
bodies.

But can I say something, Chris? All of this stuff, whether it`s
defunding Planned Parenthood or the personhood amendment or the mandatory
ultrasounds, this is all part of a calculated effort on the part of the
Republican Party to shame and intimidate women in what is an incredibly
difficult, horrible decision.

No one makes this choice out of joy. No one comes out of the doctor`s
office happy about this. But what they have done is systematically
denigrate women and their ability to know what`s best for them and their
families. It`s an economic decision. It`s a moral decision.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WAGNER: It`s a religious decision. And I think the Republican Party
has been shameful in the way that they have talked about this and
legislated around it.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to a real-life case. NBC`s "Great Debate" focus
group last night had a woman, actually, who hits the Democratic bull`s-eye
in terms of voters concerned about this. The woman is a white female, age
46, mother of teenagers. She`s a retired high school teacher and still
undecided politically about this election.

But here`s how the abortion issue is concerning to her. And let`s
listen to her own words because this is very human here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you go with Ryan, what he believes is, you
know, life begins at conception. And that`s what Roman Catholics are
supposed to believe. But (INAUDIBLE) I`m a woman and I want to have the
right to do what I want with my body. So it`s a little bit of a conflict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a big conflict. You`re still undecided.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But overall, did that discussion help you make up
your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did when I found out how close in the Supreme
Court it is to overturning Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So which way are you leaning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I`m leaning towards Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Ron Reagan, and then Alex, real quickly here --
we have Supreme Court openings perhaps in the next presidency. It`s just a
matter of mortality. There are older members of the court, about four of
them now in their mid-70s, some in bad health. There`s a good chance the
next president will make a couple appointments, maybe even three or four.
And so the issue of Roe v. Wade is not settled here in this country. It is
-- it is a bit fragile at this point.

REAGAN: No, and the Republicans take -- basically, the Republican
ticket takes a states` rights position on this, which allows them, I must
say, to have their cake and eat it, too, because let`s not forget, the
anti-choice people -- they don`t really want this issue to go away
entirely.

Yes, they`d like to repeal Roe v. Wade and declare victory there, but
they`d love it if California and New York still had abortion -- you know,
abortion legal because then they could continue the fight. They could
plant their victory flag and still raise money to overturn abortion in
California and a few other states...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... in Idaho. Anyway, your -- maybe too close to you,
anyway. But Alex Wagner, your thoughts about the court appointments
because that`s something I think when people go to vote in a couple weeks -
- that`s an active thing to think about.

WAGNER: Yes, and it has been, I think, one of the most under-
discussed things in this entire election, the fact that the next president
of the United States is going to be appointing justices to the Supreme
Court in a season when the Supreme Court is handing down landmark
legislation. I mean, that as much as anything else is the reason to choose
who you`re going to -- choose a -- choose a party. The ramifications of
Romney`s choices on the bench versus Obama`s will last for a lifetime to
come.

MATTHEWS: OK, solid thinking again from Alex Wagner and Ron Reagan.
Thank you both for joining us this week.

Coming up: All about Joe. If his goal last night was to fire up the
Democratic base, he sure did it. Also, a bigger question: Did he move the
numbers? Has he started moving them back towards Obama? We`re going to
have to find out.

Also, if you think last night was in your face, check out this debate
-- I guess you can call it that -- out in southern California just last
night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get away from me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re wrong. You`re wrong. You`re a liar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard, you want to get into this? You want to
put your face into my face?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This is the kind of thing that happens usually in South
Korea or one of those countries where they`re a little more rambunctious
(INAUDIBLE) Anyway, can you believe it? And those guys are both Democrats.
It`s getting nasty out there. We`ll go to the videotape on that one in a
couple minutes.

And take a look at this. That`s Tea Party and birther congressman
Steve King with writing on his hands during a recent debate. If you
believe his staff, of course, those weren`t debate crib notes, he just
hadn`t washed his hands. Ah, yes. What, from an earlier cribbing?

And "Let Me Finish" with the rising stakes of this whole thing.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton was back on the campaign trail. That`s good
news for the Democrats. He`s stumping for Indiana Senate candidate Joe
Donnelly, a Notre Dame guy, by the way. And he brought up last night`s
debate and said he felt sorry that Paul Ryan has to defend Mitt Romney`s
charge that President Obama`s $716 billion of Medicare savings is a cut.
Actually, it`s the same savings that Ryan has in his own exact plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, AARP
endorsed it. Do you really think they`d be out in the business of wrecking
Medicare? Do you think all the old geezers like me would still pay their
AARP dues if they thought the AARP was wrecking Medicare? I mean, come on,
give me a break here!

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So -- but he`s got to stand up there with a straight face
and say all that stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Some geezer. Anyway, nobody breaks it down better than Big
Bill.

We`ll be right

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Whether you loved it or not or
hated it, Joe Biden`s performance dominated the stage last night as he went
on offense against Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. Let`s take a look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I`ve never met two guys who were more down on America across
the board. We`re told everything is going badly -- 5.2 million new jobs,
private sector jobs.

Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something.
Show me a policy.

They talk about this great recession as if it fell out of the sky,
like, Oh, my goodness! Where did it come from? It came from this man
voting to put two wars on a credit card.

These guys haven`t been big on Medicare from the beginning.

Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this, a man
who introduced a bill that would raise it $6,400 a year, knowing it and
passing it and Romney saying he`d sign it, or me and the president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Democratic base, if you want to call it that --
it means the left, I suppose -- needed a boost. And the vice president, he
certainly delivered it last night with his passionate performance that
wouldn`t quit for an hour-and-a-half.

But firing up the base was only part of the goal. President Obama
takes the stage against Mitt Romney again next Tuesday. And he`s going to
have to bring more to the debate than just a little bit of excitement.
Certainly, his problem out in Colorado may continue again in the second
debate.

Anyway, Chris Cillizza is managing editor of PostPolitics.com and a
real good student of politics. He`s also an MSNBC contributor. And Joe
Klein is a veteran like me, a columnist for "TIME" magazine.

I want to go to Joe about the other Joe last night.

Joe was active, exciting, overexcited perhaps. He laughed a lot,
perhaps laughed through ridicule, I must say, and maybe the ridicule was
appropriate. Putting it all together, do you agree with me that he won?

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Oh, yes, I think he won.

I think he gave the other side some talking points with all of his
smirking and laughing and so on, although I imagine that if you`re in the
reality-based world, it`s kind of tough to just sit there and pout while
the guy is, you know...

MATTHEWS: Well said.

KLEIN: ... quoting whoppers.

MATTHEWS: What are you supposed to do in this crazy split-screen
world, where everything you`re doing -- you have to play well without the
ball, as Bill Bradley would say. What are you supposed to do with your
face when the guy three feet from you is saying stuff you really, really
think, whether subjectively or objectively, is dead wrong? Are you
supposed to look down, like the president did at his lectern? He was
dumped on for that? Or do you look up with a jolly face like him?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I guess there`s other things to do.

KLEIN: You`re supposed to seriously take notes and shake your head in
a disparaging way, but it should be smaller, whatever it is, than what Joe
was doing...

(LAUGHTER)

KLEIN: ... Joe was doing last night, although, as he would say, God
bless him, I love the guy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

Well, let me ask you, Chris, their view of this. We were talking
before we got on here tonight that if you know Joe Biden, you discount the
sort of overlarge personality responses. It`s very East Coast, it`s very
big. There`s no subtlety to it.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No. He`s all heart if you
like him.

MATTHEWS: If you didn`t ever know him before, wouldn`t you be
thinking what is the guy laughing about?

CILLIZZA: Yes, I think is the answer to your question, which is --
you know, Barack Obama was asked what should Joe Biden do? And he said,
well, Joe just needs to be Joe. Well, Joe was definitely Joe.

MATTHEWS: That`s what his son said on the show last night.

CILLIZZA: He did what Barack Obama said he should do.

I think that, broadly, you`re exactly right, Chris, which is the
Democratic base wanted this. They like that Joe Biden. They don`t care
that, oh, well, he was disparaging. They don`t care about any of that
stuff related to Paul Ryan. In fact, they like the laughing and smiling,
because they think that Paul Ryan is saying is fundamentally wrong and
ludicrous.

The Republican base doesn`t like Joe Biden going in. They`re not
going to like Joe Biden going out.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

CILLIZZA: It doesn`t change the race in any way, shape, or form.

And to be honest -- and I don`t want to sound too cynical about
politics -- but my guess is most people who remain undecided at this point
probably were watching some combination of Orioles/Yankees, NFL, something
else.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We will see that the numbers. It may be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We will see.

Here is what John Dickerson wrote in Slate today about the vice
president`s performance -- quote -- "Biden was defending the middle class
while Ryan was defending Romney. Biden`s greatest asset was his passion,
though he might have been over the top. It was possible for a viewer to
conclude that he was simply passionate about the middle class."

Take a look at Joe Biden early in the debate going after Romney on his
47 percent comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: But it shouldn`t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent
of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own
lives. My friend recently in a speech in Washington said "30 percent of
the American people are takers."

These people are my mom and dad -- the people I grew up with, my
neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his
federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of
Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan
right now who are, quote, "not paying any tax."

I have had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent -- it`s
about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing
pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute
to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to
the middle class we`re going to level the playing field.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joe Klein, that`s a winning riff from my account. The way
he pronounced Grover Norquist is the way I pronounce with a D. in it. It`s
like complete disdain for anybody that would sign a petition.

KLEIN: I think he won the debate at that moment, by the way.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.

KLEIN: And you know what distinguished that from almost everything
else that we see in these debates? It was real. I mean, that wasn`t
political talk. That wasn`t focus group talk. That wasn`t consultant
talk. That was just Joe.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, there are a number of moments in the debate when Paul Ryan
seemed to be playing defense against Biden`s attacks. Here were the two
candidates squaring off on the Romney tax plan, which remains impossible to
defend in terms of mathematics. He wants to cut taxes, somehow make up for
the cuts with these -- big elimination of deductions. He will never tell
us which one he`s going to get rid of. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can -- you
can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important
preferences for middle-class taxpayers...

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It`s been done before. It`s
precisely what we`re proposing.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: It`s been done a couple of times, actually.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald
Reagan...

BIDEN: Oh, now you`re Jack Kennedy?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s what you call synapses. "Now you`re Jack Kennedy."

CILLIZZA: I mean, again, the thing that`s so hard, I feel like, in
analyzing this debate, Chris, is it comes down -- you could not watch the
whole debate. You could start at the first minute of the debate and say,
what do you think about Joe Biden? And if people said, I kind of like him,
then you like the debate and you thought Biden won.

If you said, what do you think about Joe Biden? No, I don`t...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, that`s been said about -- that`s been said
about Joe Biden since 1972. You either like him or you don`t.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: He`s Joe Biden. Like, to Joe`s point, which I think is a
good one, he`s unapologetic about his Joe Biden-ness.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: And I think when he embodies -- when he embodies being
that, that economic populist streak and the stuff at the end that you
played earlier, Chris, with abortion, when he talks from that sort of I`m
an Irish Catholic, I know who these people are, I think that`s when he`s at
his best.

MATTHEWS: We know that.

CILLIZZA: I would say some of the laughing and the derisiveness,
particularly on foreign policy, which was the beginning part of the debate,
I thought was a little bit off-putting and a little over the top.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think that`s right.

I think it was well said by both of you guys.

Joe Klein, great having you on.

Thank you so much, Chris Cillizza.

Up next: Tea Partier and birther -- boy, that`s a duo -- Congressman
Steve King showed up for a recent debate with his hand -- well, some
writing on his hands. Now, his staff, to cover him up, said he wasn`t
actually cheating. He just hadn`t washed his hands.

My question is from a previous cribbing effort, a previous case of
cheating? What`s he got handwriting on his hand for anyway? You`re
supposed to use your hand to write, not to write on.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: Notes? What notes? That`s what GOP Congressman Steve
King`s aides are saying after a debate earlier this week. Why? Keep a
close eye on the Iowa congressman`s hands in this clip from the no-notes-
allowed debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I write bills, I introduce bills, I turn
them into amendments,and I succeed in getting those amendments passed.

In fact, by a measurement of Congressmen Jeff Flake...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, pause. No mistaking it, he`s got writing on his
hands. There it is. His spokesman`s response? Something pretty close to
he didn`t use enough soap -- quote -- "The congressman`s got a habit of
writing things on his hand. He does it when he`s on the House floor. He
does it when he`s campaigning. He does it when he`s with constituents. If
he doesn`t wash his hands good enough, he probably has notes from
yesterday."

Anyway, one look at that and you can`t help but recall this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We have got to start reining
in the spending. We have got to jump-start these energy products that
again we have heard so much about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. The former candidate for vice president there
consulting some notes on her hand.

Next: How concerned are you about voter fraud on Election Day? How
concerned are you? Well, according to Judicial Watch, a conservative group
that favors laws requiring official forms of I.D. at the polls, the fact
that people are worried in itself about voter fraud is reason in itself to
pass them, despite a lack of evidence that widespread voter fraud is
actually occurring.

At a panel discussion yesterday, the president of that group said --
quote -- "Voters who feel their legitimate votes will be outweighed by
fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised. It`s not only important that
the elections be actually free, fair, and clean, but they -- but that they
appear to be free, fair, and clean, because if you don`t have evidence --
confidence in the election system, people are not going to vote."

Well, another panelist added it`s not OK for us to feel that -- not OK
for our -- to feel our elections are insecure. Anyway, translation, we
need voter I.D. laws out there to keep people from not doing what they`re
not doing already, so that nobody thinks they`re doing it. Got that?

Also, present at that meeting was Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl
Metcalfe, who said recently that it`s not his fault the state`s people
don`t have I.D. cards, because they`re too lazy to go out and get them.
Well, luckily, the court has ruled in Pennsylvania you don`t have to have a
photo I.D. card to vote this year, thank God.

Now to last night`s debate by the numbers, taking a look back. One
thing is clear. Biden wanted to show that the facts -- that`s the key word
here -- were on his side of the ticket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The last thing America needs is to get in another ground war
in the Middle East.

That -- they are the facts.

The fact is that we`re in a situation where we inherited a god-awful
circumstance.

The president and I are not going to rest until that playing field is
leveled, they, in fact, have a clear shot.

They are elderly people who, in fact, are living off of Social
Security.

Wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us.

Governor Romney, before he knew the facts.

As they learned more facts.

The fact of the matter is.

The fact is.

Take a look at the facts.

We have in fact -- and in fact -- if, in fact -- facts -- facts --
facts matter. Facts matter. Fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It`s amazing when you put it all together. See what I
mean?

Twenty-eight mentions of the word fact from the vice president.

Another Bidenism got the brunt of the buzz, though. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: With all due respect, that`s a bunch of malarkey.

MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: And why is that so?

BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he only put malarkey to use three times, however, but
it still came in third on the list of Google`s top rising search terms
during the debate. I thought malarkey was an old word.

Anyway, up next, last night`s vice presidential debate had nothing on
this showdown in California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Get away from me.

REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: You`re wrong. You`re wrong.
You`re a liar.

SHERMAN: Howard, you want to get into this?

You want to put your face into my face?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Do you like the police officer coming between them?

Anyway, a lot of races out there getting nasty, and they`re all coming
ahead here in a minute. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Dow ends up two, the S&P falls four points, and the Nasdaq is off
five. Third-quarter earnings and revenue from J.P. Morgan came in better
than expected. Increasing home loans helped with those results. And CEO
Jamie Dimon says he thinks the housing market has turned the event. Apple
rose slightly on reports it is set to unveil an iPad mini at an event on
October 23.

And soaring gas prices helped push producer prices up 1.1. percent
last month.

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

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

We saw a hot debate, of course, last night between Joe Biden and Paul
Ryan, but that was tame compared to some of the fights these days, literal
and verbal, going on in the races around the country.

With just 25 days remaining until Election Day, candidates are digging
up dirt and taking on their opponents in the face and on the airwaves.

Shira Toeplitz covers campaign politics for Roll Call.

Let`s start, Shira, with this one. Let`s start with that
congressional race in California`s 30th District down in L.A., which
because of redistricting and a new California law has two longtime
Democratic congressmen, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, facing off against
each other, literally.

In a debate last night, things got physical. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: When, in reality, he knows exact -- see, he`s either
delusional or he....

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BERMAN: No, no, no, no.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SHERMAN: No, no, Howard. Luis Gutierrez introduced the bill. You
didn`t.

BERMAN: You`re wrong. You`re wrong.

SHERMAN: And the official records of Congress will prove you wrong.
Don`t you dare stand up here in the West San Fernando Valley and get in my
face.

Get away from me.

BERMAN: You`re wrong. You`re wrong. You`re a liar.

SHERMAN: Howard, you want to get into this?

You want to put your face into my face?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Shira, you know how people always say when they`re polled
how they don`t like politics getting down and dirty?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It looks like that crowd thoroughly enjoyed that carnival
atmosphere, because they didn`t actually punch each other. It was all sort
of opera booth going on there.

But what do you make of it? Give us the context. Why are these guys
head-to-head?

SHIRA TOEPLITZ, ROLL CALL: Well, this is a member versus member contest.
As you mentioned, redistricting put these guys into the same L.A. area
district. And to give you a little history, these are two members of
Congress who already didn`t like each other very much, and they`re two
Democrats fighting for the same district, fighting for the same donors and
a lot of the same voters in that area.

It`s one of the nastiest fights we have on our radar this cycle.

MATTHEWS: You know, I know a bit about Vernon Dagastino (ph), it`s
an old campaign consulting firm out there, it`s all done by direct mail,
letters written to real people with addresses on them and first class mail.
Very intellectual, smart people. A lot of Jewish voters out there. They
all read the paper, they know what`s going on, they`re very political.

Ands these guys have been serving together for, what, a generation,
and all of a sudden through the weirdnesses of new law out there which says
every election is now between the top two vote getters, that`s the way it
is, and you have a real serious fight.

Anyway, here`s Jon Allen joining us. He`s senior Washington
correspondent for "Politico".

John, I think we`re going to be looking at this clip for a while.
This is a fun clip. Nobody got hurt. But they got sort of physical of
each other.

JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO: It is a fun clip. Everybody could at
least get in the face of a member of Congress for a minute. These two guys
got to do it to each other.

I actually spoke with Congressman Sherman a little while ago. He
said that this is not something that he`s proud of. It wasn`t a great move
on this part this sort of bear hug move.

You know, the Berman campaign is already using it to say he`s got bad
temperament. That`s something they`ve been making an argument --

MATTHEWS: Anger management? Is that what we`re talking here?

ALLEN: Exactly. They basically said he`s been voted a bad boss in
the past, and they`re arguing he doesn`t have -- actually I spoke to
Brandon Hall one ever his campaign aides, one of Berman`s, and he said Brad
Sherman doesn`t have -- this demonstrates he doesn`t have the temperament
becoming a member of Congress.

So, this is something the Berman guys are going to try to use. This
has been a race that Sherman has been in control of for a long time. We`ve
seen some maybe desperate --

MATTHEWS: I thought Sherman was ahead for a while there.

ALLEN: That`s what I said. Sherman was ahead. The Berman guys will
try to use this against Sherman. They`ve been doing a lot of stuff lately
that is a little unorthodox. They`ll be getting Republican endorsements of
late.

MATTHEWS: McCain, Lindsay Graham. They`re all in there helping the
more hawkish guy.

Let`s go down to Florida, another interesting race, you might call it
that, and the race to the 18th district for U.S. Congress. Tea Party
Congressman Allen West who makes all the noise about, remember, all the
communists supposedly in the government. Anyway, he`s challenged by
Democratic, in this case, Patrick Murphy, R against D here.

And a West campaign ad released just a couple weeks ago attacks
Murphy for a 2003 arrest when the Democrat was 19 years old. Let`s take a
look at the ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

NARRATOR: February 16th, 2003, Ft. Hood, Texas. Lieutenant Colonel
Allen West had just received deployment orders and prepares his men to go
to war. That night, South Beach, Miami, Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a
club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand. Murphy then
confronts and verbally assaults a police officer. Patrick Murphy was
arrested and taken to jail.

Two men, a country in crisis. You decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway the "Palm Beach Post" reports that the charge
of intoxication was dropped and a false identification charge was
dismissed. Obviously he had a phony ID and he got served in South Beach
and drank too much.

Anyway, Murphy is out with an ad of his own, bringing up Allen West`s
record in the military in a 2003 incident when West shot a detail near a
detainee`s head following an alleged assassination plot involving the
Iraqi. Let`s watch this charge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

NARRATOR 1: Lieutenant Colonel Allen West had just --

NARRATOR 2: You need the facts about Allen West in 2003. West was
criminally charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice,
found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault and relieved of his
command. The final Army report, West, quote, "performed illegal acts,
merited court-martial, faced 11 years in prison."

Allen West, he just isn`t who he says he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, West, the congressman now, did not have to go before
a court-martial or go to jail. He was fined $5,000 however and received
full retirement.

Shira, what do we make of these? Are these the kind of wonderful
little sugar plums that are thrown before the public three weeks before an
election and that`s what it is?

TOEPLITZ: Yes,, that`s exactly what it is, Chris. If you`re a
political consultant and you have a bomb like this you can drop three or
four weeks before the election, this is exactly what you do, and that`s why
we`re seeing so many, and these ads that really cut through the clutter
that really permeate.

I think in this particular race, the West ad is really strong because
it reinforces his opponent as kind of a little too young to run for
Congress, which has been the line of attack all along. But it`s a
competitive district. Obama won it by three points. Bush won it by two
points.

Our team at "Roll Call" gives West the slightest edge there, but it`s
a toss up race.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I wonder what you say.

Go ahead, I mean, Jon, real quick, what do you think of these races?
Are these kind of charges -- do they really change people`s minds?

ALLEN: I think they do. If they didn`t, we wouldn`t see these nasty
ads every year in almost every race. You find the worst thing you can say
about your opponent a few weeks before, maybe even a few days before. You
drop that on the voters and say are you sure you want to send these guys to
Washington? We see it every year because it works.

MATTHEWS: Well, if they go after everybody who drank too much in
their teens, I think we might have some interesting political nerds out
there. Anyway, just not defending --

ALLEN: I`ll raise my hand on that.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, sir. Anyway, thank you.

Are you a nerd or one of the guys who lived that life?

Anyway, thank you, Jon, and Shira Toeplitz. Great reporting.

Up next, it`s the year of the super PAC and there`s one group mixing
celebrities and comedy to take on Romney and the Republicans.

That`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Don`t forget, the big second presidential debate coming up
this Tuesday night on MSNBC.

Back with more HARDBALL after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually that`s like every kind of wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s play two truths and a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re turn, Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you`re doing it wrong. You have to tell
the truth at some point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should be free to come out of a closet
as compassionless tycoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice caps melting. Ocean is rising. We`ll deal
with that stuff when it happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Mitt Romney, wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re right back here.

Anyway, these comedians that you just saw are calling it like it is,
when it comes to misstatements in this campaign. It`s part of the new
super PACs efforts to cut through the noise, with this election, with humor
and online videos. Well, it`s a collaboration between American Bridge and
the Jewish Council for Education and Research.

You might remember them for "The Great Schlep" in 2008, a viral video
urging kids to get their grandparents to go out and vote for Barack Obama.

With me now are two collaborators in this new super PAC, Jewish
Council for Education and Research director Mik Moore. There he is. Not
looking very happy.

And media comedian and creator of "The Daily Show", Lizz Winstead.

So, who started -- let`s take a look before we can talk about you
guys. Let`s take a look at your super PAC`s video with actress Rosie Perez
on Mitt Romney and Latinos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My dad, you probably know,
was the governor of Michigan and was the head of the car company. But he
was born in Mexico. Had he been born of Mexican parents, I`d have a better
shot of winning this. But it would be helpful to be Latino.

ROSIE PEREZ, ACTRESS: Actually, Mitt, that is so true. The
advantage is obvious. Think of all of our Hispanic American president.
From George Washington, to George Bush (INAUDIBLE).

Ultimately for you, Mitt, you were cursed with the hard knock life of
growing up as the son of a wealthy governor and auto executive? But the
truth is, the reason why Latinos aren`t voting for you is because your
policies suck. Being Latino wouldn`t win you the election. But saying
jokingly that you wish you were might actually lose it for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Whoa. That`s tough stuff.

Mik, we haven`t had you on before. Lizz has been here before. So I
want you first.

So, that`s kind of a hard-edged shot. That`s a shot at Romney. I
mean, his parents weren`t in Mexico because -- they were there because of
polygamy and the problems of living in the United States. That`s all of
history. There it is.

But the idea of -- well, not getting into all of that weeds. But the
point is, what`s the point of the joke? It wasn`t funny to begin with.

Do you think you guys made it funny?

MIK MOORE, JEWISH COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION AND RESEARCH: That`s our
goal. I think what we did is -- you know, we partnered with American
Bridge, which is really the premier organization, super PAC out there that
finds these clips and you have a Web site like "PolitiFact", which is
really good at fact-checking. But the way they present it isn`t
necessarily most entertaining.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: So, we partnered up a bunch of amazing artists like Rosie and
they picked issues that they really cared about and that we thought were
strategic and they created videos which will start premiering on our site
in the coming days.

You know, Rosie has chosen an issue that she felt was really
important. You know, at the heart, this really gets to the Romney
campaign`s effort to use racial resentment as a tool to move voters. So
this is -- the lie here is that it would be much easier if he were Latino.
This is the same kind of racial resentment when he says that the poor are
taken care of, or when he goes after this lie about welfare reform. It`s
all one of a kind, where he was using these lies --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MOORE: -- or exaggerations to turn up racial resentment in an effort
to get votes.

So we think this is a good way of putting a spotlight on this issue,
using a little bit of humor to help it get more attention but it`s really
in fact a serious issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes, make it good, because I`ve tried to think of ways to
bring it up. But everything you bring it up, what I call the code whistles
and dog whistles and the example is welfare, saying they get rid of work
requirements so as Romney put it Obama can feed his political base. In
other words, poor black people need welfare payments, they don`t want to go
to work. The whole cliche is at work there.

Lizz, your thoughts about this and what it accomplishes, because I
did love "The Great Schlep". Although I was said Sarah Silverman who got
people down in south Florida to vote for Obama. No, it was Sarah Palin,
the mere fear of her as the vice president of the United States was enough
to get the old Jewish voters scared to death to vote Republican.

Your thoughts on how this is working?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, CREATOR, "THE DAILY SHOW": What`s fun about using
humor and where it becomes effective is, you know, this is just -- I`ve
been doing political satire for almost 30 years now. This is such an
elevated time of people who are totally insane.

So I think with comics, you can hit with some raw language that
sometimes is the inner voice that people want to use and they now like to
use, you know when you`re nailing like a nail into the wall and you whack
your thumb really hard, it`s a moment where you don`t say shoot. It`s a
moment where you might use the swear because it feels really intense.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WINSTEAD: So I think the comics -- they can resonate in a way that
other folks can`t or regular ads can`t. So when you say, this is insane at
this point, people, we`re allowed to do that in a way that broadcasters
aren`t and newsmen aren`t and it`s been real effective.

MATTHEWS: OK. Somewhere cosmic, but in the great Lenny Bruce is
saying, good work, guys, keep it up. You can get rid of some of these
prejudice with a good sense of humor sometimes.

Anyway, thank you, Nik Moore, good luck with your project, and Lizz
Winstead.

When we return, let me finish with a preview of Tuesday`s big debate.
It`s coming. This could be the big one.

You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a big debate coming on Tuesday.
A real preview of coming attractions would tell you the power of the issues
at stake, the huge issues that are decided in an hour and a half.

But there`s this other thing, the personal. Will the president come
out Tuesday night to charge up the differences between him and Governor
Romney? Will he paint those differences as vital?

Whether we commence another war in the Middle East, whether we begin
to kill -- not just Obamacare -- but begin killing Medicare? Do we
commence a state by state ban of abortion? Do we deliver huge new
shipments of money in the form of tax cuts to the country`s wealthy?

It`s important that the president do this for the basic reason that
people in this country know what they are voting for and if they decide
against.

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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