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updated 10/23/2012 10:29:36 AM ET 2012-10-23T14:29:36

HARDBALL
October 22, 2012

Guests: Stephanie Cutter; Gloria Steinem; Chris Coons; Robert Wexler; Robert Gibbs, Charlie Crist


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews at Lynn University in Boca Raton,
Florida, site of the third and final presidential debate.

Let me start tonight with this. Romney war. When I hear Mitt Romney
speak about foreign policy, it`s always toughness. When I hear we`ve got
to get tough, I hear war. Surrounded as he is by the same people who were
dumpiest advisers, I feel war presence is even stronger, war. Does
American want a war? In recent year, we have had wars going on in Iraq and
Afghanistan, do we now want another war with a far more powerful and a more
modern Islamic country.

The implication for Mitt Romney`s staff talk in Iran is that we can
commit an all out act of war against tax cuts without actually using the
word war. We can attack the nuclear sites, they say uncle and that`s the
end of it. That`s what people like General Curtis Lemay said this time, 50
years ago during the Cuba missile crisis. Just knocked out those silver
missiles in Cuba. They won`t do anything. Well, it turned out this
several weeks had no intention of doing nothing.

(INAUDIBLE) had plans to hit New York and said so in his memoirs
quote, " I knew that the United States could knocked out some of our
missiles if only one or two big ones were left, we could still hit New
York, an awful lot of people would be wiped out."

Consequences, understanding the consequences. That`s what foreign
policy is all about. War is not a policy. It`s often a declaration of
failure. We have no idea what moonlights in Tehran, plan to do if we
attack, they could unleash Hezbollah and its tens of thousands of rockets
on Israel, unleash Hamas on Gaza, forcing others to knockout the rocket
sites in both lands killing any number of civilians. Where would we be
then?

Mr. Romney`s performance in foreign affairs from clumsy trip to Europe
where he managed to insult our hosts to his shoot first and ask questions.
Second, behavior towards the tragedy in Libya suggests not a smart global
diplomat, but a bull who brings the China shop along with him.

I`m joined by Robert Gibbs, senior adviser for the Obama campaign,
White House press secretary. Also with me, our colleagues, Martin Bashir,
host of "the Martin Bashir show" and Alex Wagner, host of "Now, with Alex
Wagner," both on MSNBC,

I want to join you because we have a premier guest. A premier guest.
A man who has a wide range of renaissance thinking going for him. That has
proven by a recent victory on jeopardy.

Now, let me ask you this about tonight in the president . What did he
learn? I mean, it`s a tough one for you. You are an insider. Your
presence always information. What did he learn from the first debate, in
all seriousness, and what did he learn from the second debate that will
help him in preparing for tonight`s, as we say in boxing, rubber match, the
one who decides it?

ROBERT GIBBS, PRESIDENT OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, look. I
think what you saw on the second debate with the president, it was
undeterred by Mitt Romney trying to remake his position and remake his
record. And you know, taking the debates straight to him, I think that`s
what you`ll see the president do tonight. Which is, you know, the
president promised we end this war in Iraq and we did. Mitt Romney wanted
to keep 30,000 of our young men and women sitting in Iraq. That`s not the
right course for America.

Mitt Romney has been modeled and befuddled on Afghanistan, this
president took the fight to al-Qaeda, now wants to bring our kids home and
a little nation building here. I think those are going to be good things
to get into with the debate tonight.

MATTHEWS: What about the sort of bullying matter of Romney in both
debates? Were he has able to push aside in one case, the first moderator,
tried in some cases and did managed to push aside the moderator in the
second. Do you think he will try the same thing against Bob Schieffer?
Push him around?

GIBBS: I think he will. Look, there is certainly no evidence that
he`s going to change the way he behaves and look, I think bullying is a lot
of what you think is foreign policy might be. I don`t think it is going to
work with debate moderators. I certainly don`t think it is going to work
in the hot spots n the dangers in complicated world. And I don`t think
that Romney will be that successful tonight doing.

MATTHEWS: Here`s one thing. I don`t pick be a point but one of the
things that they agreed in the debates was no questioning of each other.
And yet, the minute Romney gets out, he starts brow beating and hold on,
you`ll get your turn, treating him like he has some kind of street corner,
not president of the United States, that lack of deference.

But, this questioning and grilling him until he finally got caught
trying to grill the president on what he said the day after we got hit in
Libya.

GIBBS: Right.

MATTHEWS: Was this the thing that we got to put him tonight? Just
going, chasing after like he show bears or somebody?

GIBBS: Well, you think he would have learned his lesson when the
president came back on his pension. But then, when the president said, go
ahead and proceed on your Libya question, understanding exactly where
Romney was going to go, overstepping what Romney knew.

But look, that`s what we`ve seen from Mitt Romney, whether as you said
it was going to great Britain and affecting the number one ally, the minute
that they are about to host the Olympics, you know, my mother used to use
that term. I was reminded. Don`t be a bull in a China shop.

So look, I think you can expect the bullying, the bluster, but look,
you can`t get away from the blundering foreign policy of Mitt Romney.

MATTHEWS: President Obama was asked about what seemed like confusion
from his administration about the Libyan attack. Let`s watch the president
here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The procession seems to be that the state was on a
different page than you or that you had Susan Rice, five days afterwards
saying on shows well, this video could have been a part of that and then,
other people were --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is that if
information comes in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

OBAMA: Folks put it out throughout the process. People say it`s
still incomplete. What I always clear about, we`re going to do an
investigation and figure out exactly what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I saw Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations on
"Meet the Press" several weeks back in explaining what happened in Libya
with the loss of that great diplomat Chris Stevens, a wonderful person, a
terrible loss, and she seemed heartfelt and honest and clear.

Based upon a most recent report by people like David Ignatius has
tremendous sources in the intelligence community. What she said was what
she was told by the intelligence people. So, what`s this Romney thing
about deception?

GIBBS: Look. It is a very good question. I hope may Schieffer will
get to this today. Look. we know from reporting from Ignatius, we know
from reports in "the Wall Street Journal," "the New York Times" today, it
tells us community was telling everybody involved in this process,
including congress, the very same thing that the administration was telling
the American people at this time, it`s important to understand. The
administration got information and gave it to the American people in real
time. There was no spin. There was no deception. It was what we knew,
when we knew it.

But, obviously, in any intelligent situation, in any terrorist act,
the more you learn, the more you add to that story and we will continue to
be forthright for the American people about what went on and most
importantly to investigate it so it never happens again.

MATTHEWS: I want to turn this over to my colleagues. Let me begin
here by -- my last question before I bring Martin and Alex in is his
question. What the heck is the difference between Romney and the
president?

What I suggest, in my opening was, a kind of a sensibility. The
president knows the number one goal of any leaders to avoid a war. That you
tried to use diplomacy, economic sanctions. Because once you go to war,
they don`t end the treaty. They go on and on and the others site and do
whatever wants once give an act of war against them within the
international rights. You attack them, they`ve got to come back and hit
you. That`s what happens. And it could go on and on.

What is the difference though, and do you think Romney is a hawk?
What is he?

GIBBS: A wing tipped cowboy. I think we have seen this - we saw this
for eight year. We saw ready fire hay. That didn`t really work out so
well. I think we are seeing a return to the cowboy diplomacy that we saw
for eight years that got us into so many messes. But also, didn`t finish
the job in place that we are critical like Afghanistan.

This president ended the war in Iraq, re-doubled our efforts against
al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, killed Osama bin Laden, decimated al-Qaeda and the
Taliban and we moved forth our country is safer because of it.

And look. You need not look any farther than Iran. When this
president walked in the office, there was a unanimous ideas on the
international community about strong international sanctions. We now have
the strong sanctions. Iran`s economy is decimated. Their currency has
collapsed. Their oil revenues have collapsed and we are on the point where
we now have significant strong leverage against Iran that we didn`t have
when the president walked in.

MATTHEWS: Martin. You have a question for Robert Gibbs?

When I look, when I listen to Mitt Romney, he sounds to me as he`s
describing the Middle East of James Bond where you go in, you go out, and
you get the girl and the whole matter is resolved.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST, THE MARTIN BASHIR SHOW: We know I`ve been
to these countries. I`ve reported from them. We know that these nations
are in turmoil. Their governance, their civic institutions are in chaos.
How does the administration and is this the problem, how does the
administration have a relationship with circle of governments that are
collapsing in front of them and acquire the kind of information that the
American public has demanded in relation to the killing of the great
ambassador like ambassador Chris Stevens.

GIBBS: Look, I think Libya is an important example. Look. After the
tragic events of September 11th, you saw thousands -- tens of thousands of
Libyans marching in the street in honor of Ambassador Chris Stevens. They
valued his life and his effort in engaging in the world. And as you said
Martin, we -- democracy, particularly for young democracy in the Middle
East is more than just going to the ballot box. That`s the very first
requirement. We have to set up a civil structure, a court system.

BASHIR: How does the American administration get the kind of
information that Chris and others are asking for in relation to a tragedy
like this when the government we are leasing with is basically not formed.
It`s formulating before our very eyes?

GIBBS: We have to help it. We have to set up structures. We have to
help them set up an intelligence gathering system. There`s a whole
structure of civil society.

BASHIR: And don`t you think, though, if I may be so boldest to
suggest this. That one of the reason why they may have been is confusion
is because we were not literally enough in describing the conditions inside
a place like Benghazi. It`s because we weren`t clear enough in terms of
the problems that occurred in the nation that is uprising, that is
literally reforming itself in front of our very eyes in order to get the
kind of information that people like Mitt Romney think, you know, comes out
like a postal ball again.

GIBBS: Well, you know, it`s a good example in a place like Libya.
Again, it is a country that in many ways is ruled by factions and militias.
We have to set up a justice civil structure so that there could be rule of
law and that people can protest coward, what is happening in the government
peacefully.

MATTHEWS: And Robert, that raise to ahead. That bring to a head
tonight. Before I bring Alex in here, I want to answer the question.
There`s been a of (INAUDIBLE) including the president`s appearance there on
Jon Stewart. What he said, we don`t really know what combination of
spontaneity and opportunism and planning that went into Chris Stevens. Is
that still all true? You can`t put the piece of puzzle together even now.

GIBBS: I think, again, every day we learn more and more. You peal
layers back. And you gather more intelligence.

MATTHEWS: But tonight, this command ignite in this presidential
campaign. Well the press to give us clear picture, or id he yet, ready to
do that.

GIBBS: I think the president will speak very clearly about what
happened in Libya. As much as we know, Chris, obviously, we are learn
stuff, will continue to report and describes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me bring in Alex Wagner for question for Robert
Gibbs - Alex.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER SHOW: Hi, Robert. Of
the many absurdities that are hurled around in this election season is that
the notion that somehow the president is an apologist for America, when in
reality, the president has, as you mentioned got Osama bin Laden, but also
ordered a historic number of drone strikes, has pursued a counter terrorist
strategy that is, as aggressive if not more aggressive, than that of George
W. Bush.

My question to you is why is the president not been more forceful in
flopping down his notion that he`s an appeaser of some sort and to what
degree is he worried about alienating those on the left who actually have
not really discussed that counter terrorist and strategy very much.

GIBBS: I don`t think -- look, I think the reason the president
doesn`t deal with this notion of being an appeaser is because I think other
than Mitt Romney and a handful of Republicans, it`s actually not a
narrative, I think, that most people in this country believe.

This is, Barack Obama has the quintessential American story, OK? And
as you mentioned, we have a policy that has taken the fight to the
terrorists. We didn`t invade the wrong country in Iraq. We`ve gone back
into Afghanistan to make sure that we deal with al-Qaeda and we deal with
the Taliban. That`s why Osama bin Laden is dead tonight, not watching the
debate from a cave or inside the house of Abalaba (ph).

MATTHEWS: Let me go to etch-a-sketch - go ahead.

WAGNER: In terms - will the resident mention Anwar al-Awlaki, I mean,
there is a whole component to his counter terrorist strategy that is never
mentioned, which is hugely aggressive and yet, we hear very little about.

GIBBS: Well look, I think if we get into threats around the world,
obviously Yemen is and was and still is a very dangerous place. We know
what al-Qaeda and the Arabian for this wanted to do over the course of the
last several years. And there is no doubt continuing to try to plot that.
But as you mentioned, Alex, the original commander Anwar Al-Awlaki is no
longer on this planet as our host of al-Qaeda leaders that have been taken
off the battlefield because this president took them off.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the - final. We don`t have much time.
Let me ask you about the key question that most voters tonight wanted to be
answered. Who is Mitt Romney? Because we have watched this sort of
evolution which is the fastest evolution in history from a guy who is right
winger on every issues tax, culture issues, economic issues, foreign
policies. He is a neo con in the primaries, now, what is he? Are we
electing, if he gets elected president, a hawk who is just going to push
the Chinese around quick, attack the Russians and trying to get something
going with them again?

BASHIR: Mr. Gibbs is an adviser to the president, he`s not a
psychiatrist.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, let me ask you. I was going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What is this president`s opponent like? Is he a man who is
going to be a loyal to John Paul and Dan Senor and all the rest of the neo
cons, add Norquist to that, or he is just an opportunist like we are using,
talking in the Middle East who just did all of that stuff to get elected
and when he gets there he`ll be a moderate?

GIBBS: Don`t believe for a minute that what you`ve seen recently in
dressing up a series of severely conservative positions, whether it`s tax
cuts or war with Iran, don`t believe what is being dressed up and put in
front of the American people in these debates. There`s a wolf in sheep`s
clothing. But in his phrase tonight, this is -- Mitt Romney has no doubt
tried to hide those positions but I have no doubt in my mind that what Mitt
Romney wants to do is exactly what he`s campaigned on for the last six
years and the American people shouldn`t fall for it.

BASHIR: Chris, I think the biggest danger is foreign policy when you
have a candidate who is so utterly vacuous about anything. What will be
poured into this man is the kind of ravel rousing aggression that comes
from people from people like Dan Senor.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BASHIR: He doesn`t use Dan Senor like a drunk uses to left pose. He
uses Dan Senor in to light the way forward.

MATTHEWS: When I read that one of the advisers to Romney said, he
wasn`t up to date on the talking points, who was he getting them from? He
wasn`t up to date on what the neo cons were saying. It was extraordinary
position to say.

Good luck. Good luck, buddy.

Thank you, Robert Gibbs, Martin Bashir, my colleague and also Alex
Wagner up in New York.

This is "Hardball," the place for politics live from Boca Raton, for
the final presidential debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball," live from Lynn University of
Boca Raton for the final presidential debate.

We sit here in one of the most important battleground states of all.
Florida has the potential to put one candidate over the top. And here with
me are two Floridians to tell us what issues what drive the most two weeks
of (INAUDIBLE). My God, they like these comments.

Charlie Crist was governor here for a while, he`s now an Obama
supporter and Robert Wexler who is great friend of the show for years. He
is the former Democratic congressman with Dan here as well.

Let me show you where things stand now in the sunshine state. Three
polls all taken last Wednesday and Thursday all have Romney with a slight
edge. Look at these. He`s up by three in the FOX News poll. Up by one.
One point. In both the PPP and the CNN Opinion Research polls.

Governor, are they good polls?

CHARLIE CRIST (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: You see polls go all over
the place. I think what matters is the kind of energy that feel from the
last two weeks. And it is palpable. You know, as under of a cross board
of this weekend, we went from St. Pete to Sarasota to West Palm and then
Delaware. And there`s energy all over the state for the president. I`m
very optimistic. I really am.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, what are you feeling? Are you around here a
lot? Because I know you`re working for peace over there.

ROBERT WEXLER (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I`m involved. And president
has done things that benefit Floridians directly. His prescription drug
plan for seniors has reduced the costs of prescription drugs in a very
dramatic way. He`s closed the so-called donut hole in protecting Social
Security, extending the life of Medicare eight years. These are issues
that ultimately in a close race like your polls show will put them over the
top in Florida.

MATTHEWS: Why wouldn`t somebody, any at the age of near 65 r over,
wouldn`t they just say leave it alone, it`s great. My dad loved Medicare.
I mean, as long as he lived. He loved it. I never heard anybody that
didn`t love it.

CRIST: Why would anybody want to voucher rise Medicare and that`s
what is exactly is being offered by Romney and Ryan. It is the wrong to
do. The president will stay the course to make sure that our seniors are
protected. That`s why Florida should go for the president.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Middle East stuff down there.
South Florida, there`s a lot of Jewish voters down there.

WEXLER: Of course.

MATTHEWS: Jewish voters are tremendously loyal to Democratic Party.
Is there any reason they won`t be this time?

WEXLER: No. They will be and they have every reason to be. As we
talked about tonight Chris, the largest joint American-Israeli military
operation joint operations being conducted in Israel, the largest such
military operations since the creation.

MATTHEWS: What are they doing?

WEXLER: The mission is to send an incredibly strong message to Iran
and any other nation that might think about harming Israel. It is to
prepare American and Israeli troops in joint fashion against the potential
attacks that might come out of Israel under certain circumstances and this
is on top of the historic levels of security assistance that President
Obama has provided to Israel. More than President Bush and more to
President Clinton. And most to president for excellent for Israel.
President Obama has actually done more.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`ve heard that. And actually even BBS said that, the
prime minister has said that on occasion.

WEXLER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Latino vote, either of you
gentlemen are Latino. But, it`s a powerful vote this year. There has talk
about maybe being 11 percent of the general election vote this year. You
have got the latest Telemundo/NBC. You both secure in Telemundo number.
Look at this right now. It is specially done on part as important. Let`s
take a look at the numbers. Obama at 70 percent. Look at that number. I
don`t think any other community is like that.

CRIST: Wow.

MATTHEWS: Twenty five percent for Romney/Ryan. What is that about?
Is that about the attempt by the president to do the dream act that getting
into executive order? Is that - what is it?

CRIST: Let me question about that, Chris. It`s about the dream act,
it`s about being more progressive, about immigration. I`m the grandson of
a Greek immigrant who came to this country and had nothing. This was a
time when America said, you know, bring us your poor, bring us your tire
and you`ll have an opportunity to succeed and do well for you and your
family, if you come to America and work hard and live by the rules. And
all of a sudden we see, you know, from the hard right that, you know, we
don`t want people to come here. We want to put walls all over the place.

MATTHEWS: Self-deportation?

CRIST: Well, you know, who talks about that?

MATTHEWS: He does.

CRIST: Governor Romney.

MATTHEWS: And what about, you know, that gone Arizona went for Bill
Clinton in back in 1996 and John McCain told me that was the issue. The
attack on Hispanics out in California and that proposition out there. That
they just feel the assault from the Republicans.

WEXLER: Well, Arizona could be the surprise in on election night in
terms of the Democratic - surprise Democratic victory. Charlie is right on
immigration. You know, people -- voters are smart and they get a sense of
a candidate and the sense that they got of Governor Romney during the
primaries was that this man was positioning in to the right. Positioning
himself to the right of Newt Gingrich and Governor Perry on immigration at
the expense of Latino voters. They understood that they were being harmed
by his positions and would be harmed by his position and that`s why you see
those overwhelming numbers.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the economy, guys. This isn`t necessary a
pro Democratic question. It`s a tough one. The unemployment rate is going
town do 7.8. A lot of it is because the people have given up. So, it`s
good. The latest jobs figures that I`ve seen, the lower jobless claims,
very good. Good news lately on the real estate front?

CRIST: What is going on there in real estate is getting better in
Florida. I mean, we are starting to see home sales pick up on to a degree.
It is not where it needs to be or where it was before. But at least, it is
moving in the right direction. I can tell you a lot of --

MATTHEWS: Are all of the empty condos getting filled or sold? What
is going on?

CRIST: All of them in Miami are just about sold. I mean, it`s really
been phenomenal down there and it`s starting to spread across the state.
But, if the - if the president hadn`t done the recovery act, I was governor
at the time.

MATTHEWS: Eat your cow for taking the money.

CRIST: Well, that`s OK. It was the right thing to do. And we needed
the money and it`s helped save our teachers, firefighters, law enforcement
officers. I mean, without that help from the president, we would have been
in a dire situation much worse than we would have been and it stabilized
our economy in Florida and now we starting to come up.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thank you for saying so because they take it under the
table like Paul Ryan. Give me some of that project money. He didn`t tell
anybody that.

It`s great to see you. I know you`re doing great over there at Middle
East.

WEXLER: Thank you.

Charlie Crist. Bob Wexler. Thank you for coming up.

Up next, more from Boca Raton, Florida and our coverage at the final
presidential debate. It is coming close.

This is "Hardball," the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We are back with a great crowd out here at Boca Raton,
Florida. And the presidential debate, I have some people of different
cause. I want to hear your cause. Why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here with the (INAUDIBLE) delta
representing autism speaking.

MATTHEWS: Great. I wish I have a chance to for that. Good for you.
Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I just want to know how Romney is going to
pay for this five-point plan.

MATTHEWS: The 5.5 trillion? Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m (INAUDIBLE) and I`m just supporting Obama
because he`s results to change, he is for the 100 percent of us.

MATTHEWS: By the way, this is where he said 47 percent , right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We count. Every single one of us. No matter
what our job is or religion, the color of our skin, our ethnicity, every
single one of us counts. And everybody has to know that we stand together,
we stand strong.

MATTHEWS: What are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know what is going to happen in Israel.

MATTHEWS: Tell me what you think should happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that America should have - we have to have
a very good relationship with Israel.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think we got one.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I just hear from Bob Wexler, you know, when he looks over
there. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just disagreed with my friend over here.

MATTHEWS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I`m Taylor and I`m from Boston,
Massachusetts.

MATTHEWS: Look at this dark. He is alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we think Romney should win.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m TJ, I`m from Boston Massachusetts. Romney is
going to be the winner.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s move around here. We have a Romney person here,
too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Obama`s math just doesn`t add up.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama!

CROWD: Obama! Obama!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney.

MATTHEWS: Thoughts? Just Romney?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama all the way, 100 Percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama understands the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four more years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney.

MATTHEWS: It`s me. I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is doing a phenomenal job. Four more
years!

MATTHEWS: OK. Four more years.

MATTHEWS: Romney. OK. Romney?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney doesn`t cover up scandals in the Middle
East.

MATTHEWS: What was the scandal that was covered up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Benghazi.

MATTHEWS: What was the scandal? Get to it. Nail it. What was the
scandal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said there was a video. It was not about the
video.

MATTHEWS: You better read the newspaper. Thank you. Everybody knows
it was about the video. It is all about the video.

Thank you very much. We`re right back with more "Hardball."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Lynn University live at Boca Raton for the
final presidential debate.

The new NBC/Ostrich journal poll shows that female voters, if the
election were held today, Barack Obama will win by eight points. That is a
slightly small that the president had back in August before both parties`
convention nights, debates. And in the just released ABC News /
"Washington Post" tracking poll, President Obama has a 14-point lead over
Romney among women.

In our earlier edition of "Hardball" tonight, I spoke with women`s
right pioneer, the great Gloria Steinem and also President Obama`s deputy
campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: I never thought I`d have somebody so grand on the show
here. And there you are, Gloria, and I just having heard from the
grapevine what you feel. I don`t feel like to offer you any special cues.
What are the women stakes in this presidential election in two weeks?

GLORIA STEINEM, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, I think the problem is that
when we say women it only applies to women but in fact, it is the whole
country. So, the truth of the matter is that equal pay is the biggest
economic stimulus this country could possibly have.

If women were paid equally for comparable work, there would be $200
billion more in the economy as an economic stimulus, each white woman on
the average would get $147 more a week. Each women of color, about more
than 250. And these women are going to spend this money. They are not
going to invest it in China. They are going to spend it to the Bahamas,
no. They are going to spend it and create jobs. So our mistake, I think
has been too phrase it as it separate from the economy as a whole when in
fact it is the single most important economic stimulus. And Romney has
refused to say that he supports even equal pay. I mean, this is
outrageous. He is not a Republican.

MATTHEWS: I agree on that. What stuns me is the commentary from the
other side referring to women like Claire McCaskill. Go fetch. Dog talk.
About a person who is a senator and a woman. This -- it seems like the
Romney folks do have a strategy though. They believe that he get women
votes, or at least to lose too many, by simply saying we`re going to be
awful on the issues, especially the issues, normally considered women`s
issue, all the way up to health care and everything else. But we will get
them on the economy.

STEINEM: No. But this is the economy. I mean --

MATTHEWS: What they call the economy.

STEINEM: No. But, they are wrong. They are 100 percent wrong. The
biggest indicator of whether a woman can work or not, be educated or not,
be healthy or not, how long reproductive control can cheat aside when that
is an economic issue. They think economic issues only it`s applied to wise
guys. I`m sorry. That`s just not true.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Go ahead Stephanie, pick it up from the campaign`s
point of view.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I agree with
Gloria that the Romney campaign is very dismissive of these issues. They
call them social issues. They are not social issues. They are economic
issues and the president made that point at the debate last week that he
was talking about women as bread winners in their families and it was a
woman issue, it was a family issue, and it was an economic issue. It was
very much about the strength of this country and the strength of our
economy. And Mitt Romney`s response to that was that he had a binder full
of women and after that campaign - I mean, after that debate, the Romney
campaign, you know, spent days talking, you know, pushing aside women as
that`s not the real issue in this race and dismissing them as social
issues.

MATTHEWS: Why is the Republican, you studied this a while, why is the
Republican Party moving from the party we know growing up, to this right
wing party? Why are they doing this like personhood and 14th amendment
right is -- who is this for?

STEINEM: Because beginning with the civil rights act, old Jesse
Holmes kind of Democrats began to despair of the inclusiveness of the
Democratic Party. Leave and take over the Republican Party. All the
religious and economic extremists who used to be Democrats have taken over
the Republican Party.

I apologize to my Republican friends who are real Republicans, I mean,
next in support of the equal rights amendment, gold water was pro-choice.

MATTHEWS: But, what would be the purpose about to putting your
platform, 14 amendment rights, life, liberty, and property, to a fertilized
egg ? Now, I respect all of the decisions - I mean, I understand all abuse
about the philosophy of what life begins. I understand the debate. It`s
on. It is not probably, not going to be going on a lifetime. But, the
idea of giving rights of property, this is almost ridiculous. It justify
criminalization though.

STEINEM: Yes, of course. If a fertilized egg is a person, then
you`ve nationalized women`s bodies through other child-bearing years and
that just - but the point is we don`t quite understand the importance of
controlling reproduction. They are controlling reproduction.

MATTHEWS: There`s a lot more consensus in this country about birth
control.

STEINEM: Right.

MATTHEWS: Contraception. A young woman who works in her 20s or 30s
and is not ready to have a child, that`s her decision. I think we all
agree on that. She wants birth control. Isn`t insanity`s interest for her
to get that as part of her health care.

CUTTER: Absolutely. And that`s why --

MATTHEWS: -- her boss to be able to be -- and the birth control Nazi
to decide who gets it and who doesn`t?

CUTTER: No, it`s not. You know, women take contraception for a lot
of different reasons. It is not just birth control. It also has to do
with preventing cancer and other diseases. It is preventive medication.
That`s why the affordable care act includes it as part of preventive
measures for women. And that`s why insurance companies are now required to
provide contraception for women with no out of pocket costs.

It does not make sense to put employers in charge of that decision.
Women should be able to make that decision. If their insurance plan offers
contraception, which by law now they have to, with no other pocket cost,
then that`s between women and their insurance companies and it should be in
the women`s court to make that decision, not the employers. So, if I work
at any fast food restaurant, they are making the decision if whether I have
access to contraception? Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: Do you hear 1950 in Mitt Romney`s voice? I hear it all the
time.

(CROSSTALK)

STEINEM: Well, there`s - the problem with Romney are several things.
His policies, that he doesn`t tell the truth about his policies and that
his attitudes - his internal attitudes are a problem. I mean, you know,
I`ve been around a long time. I think I`m older than you, OK? So this is
the most destructive to equality candidate that I have ever seen in my
life, ever for the presidency. Much more than --

MATTHEWS: But, women are tougher today than every terms of demanding
their equal --

STEINEM: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Why would they vote for Mitt?

STEINEM: Because this is about - I mean, first of all, it is a
backlash against equality that now these folks who control what used to be
the Republican Party. It is backlash against all the social justice
movements which everyone - the majority. Ant the question is do women have
the information or not. I mean, Republican women say to me, but, he`d
never really do that. You know, he`d never really criminalize it.

MATTHEWS: That`s a convenient - the Romney advantage. Nobody knows
that he believes that anything, therefore he might not do anything.

STEINEM: No.

MATTHEWS: I want Stephanie on this because she is the partisan here.

STEINEM: OK.

MATTHEWS: How do you handle a guy -- I swear, he can cut any deal
with Robert Norquist, and if you are with them, Pat Robertson got to get up
the rope on from Liberty University. He can have neo cons all around then,
bold and is horrible and dangerous people, have them all around him and yet
nobody believes that he believes anything. That seems to be protective.
He`s a complete cynic.

CUTTER: Yes. Well, I think that they should beware of what he
believes and over the course of running for president --

MATTHEWS: Is it Charleston or Is right winger?

CUTTER: He`s a right winger. I mean, you can`t take this positions
over the last six years. Never once stand up for the far right elements of
your party, the fringes of your part over the course of six years and then
say, forget it. I didn`t mean any of that.

He is firmly against Roe V. Wade. That`s clear. He said he would
sign legislation to overturn it.

MATTHEWS: He say it`s terrific.

CUTTER: Right. Terrific, marvelous, wonderful.

STEINEM: (INAUDIBLE)

CUTTER: And funding for Planned Parenthood, he wants to put bosses in
charge of contraception.

MATTHEWS: But, why do we have to defense popular programs like
Planned Parenthood, which you don`t have to be rabidly pro choice to --

CUTTER: It was part of him trying to win over the conservatives.

MATTHEWS: I think so. `

CUTTER: -- in this election.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You said something very smart. I just met you tonight.
It`s an honor to meet you. You said, it`s not the Republican Party. It`s
the new right wing thing.

STEINEM: It`s not. It`s an extremist party that I hope if they are
defeated big time this time, true Republicans, centrist Republicans will
come and take it back. It`s so dangerous to have one of our two great
parties controlled by extremists.

MATTHEWS: It`s vaguely sexist. If you are older than me, you look
fabulous at any age. Fabulous.

STEINEM: You look better.

MATTHEWS: No, no, no. I don`t want that.

Gloria Steinem and Stephanie Cutter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Up next, just answer the question of hot topics each
candidates might cover tonight and we will make sure they do.

This is "Hardball," the place for politics, live from Boca Raton for
the final presidential debate..

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back from Lynn University. In fact, we`re at Lynn
University in Boca Raton for the final presidential debate.

Tonight, we`re going to hear President Obama and Mitt Romney debate
some of the most pressing foreign policy issues. That`s what it`s about
tonight. And now more than ever it`s crucial for the candidates to answer
the questions, my phrase I`m going to use right now.

Our guests to take that too hard, you know "Hardball" debate right
now.

With me, is now Democratic senator for the state of Delaware, Chris
Coons, who will be playing President Obama tonight in taking the hard
questions and MSNBC political analyst and my friend and former RNC chair,
Michael Steele who was beaten brutally by Reince Priebus. He is going to
be playing Governor Romney.

OK, first question. For Mr. Chairman, you`ve said you would prevent
Iran from gaining the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. How do you
justify pre-emptive war?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Justify pre-emptive war?
Chris, what do you mean? No one is talking about going to war with Iran.
What we`re talking about is containing their ability with our partners in
Europe and our partners in the Middle East to make sure that Iran
understands that in order to be a part of the community of nations, they
are going to have to abide by certain are realities. And the reality is,
no one wants them to have a nuclear arm.

And so, we all put economic sanctions that are already in place,
currently, yes, no problem. But also making them understand that there`s a
very bright line when it comes to, you know, the security of Israel, for
example, that we will not tolerate any action by Iran. I mean, it`s very
clear.

MATTHEWS: And if they cross this line that your party has said which
is capacity, not even having a nuclear weapon. But they don`t already have
the capacity?

STEELE: Capacity leads to opportunity which leads to ownership. So
Mr. Matthews, you`re very comfortable with Iran having the capacity -

MATTHEWS: I think they have it now. That`s why we having this issue.

STEELE: Exactly. And that is because the Obama administration has
not kept its eye on the nuclear ball.

MATTHEWS: OK. So we should go to war?

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: I think he`s flat out wrong. I think the
Obama administration has a strong record of mobilizing the international
community, opposing crushing sanctions on Iran, of having the closest
security relationship with Israel of any administration and how being clear
and tough. I don`t hear anything from Governor Romney that explains to me
what he would do different than what President Obama has done except
bluster and blunder and push us closer to unacceptable level -- .

MATTHEWS: I have a question for you, Mr. President. In 2008, you ran
a promised to close Guantanamo Gismo, why is it still open?

COONS: Guantanamo is still open because my number one obligation as
president, if I were President Obama, I would be a foot taller and a lot
smarter than I am. But if I were President Obama, I`d say, that I have ran
into unexpected challenges in meeting that commitment. The commitment that
has taken priority over it is making America safer by taking the fight to
al-Qaeda and its leadership around the world, and that I kept my eyes on
the walls.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: The American people who said no way, no how --

MATTHEWS: What do you mean?

COONS: Procedural obstacles and frankly at the end of the day gauge
me by whether as president. President Obama was able to end the war in
Iraq --

MATTHEWS: So, you expected to somebody to accept that prison in their
backyard?

COONS: No.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

Let me go to Mr. Romney. Can I get the next question?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The name of this segment is called, just answer the
question. OK.

Would you choose to utilize using drone strikes in your
administration? If so, how would you use them? The president has been
very successful work in killing some bad guys with drone strikes.

STEELE: Well, first off, let me say we appreciate the Obama
administration following and augmenting the program established in the Bush
administration with respect to drones and, you know, they have been an
effective means of curtailing some of the activities on the ground there,
in particular hot spots within Afghanistan and elsewhere. So yes, I think
that there`s a consistency there that we should as a country keep that
option on the table at all times. Because it has worked. It`s been
effective. And we appreciate the Obama administration at least
acknowledging that.

MATTHEWS: How come W. lost bin Laden in Tora Bora and President Obama
caught him?

STEELE: He didn`t keep him in Tora Bora. He caught him --

MATTHEWS: One let him get away. We were after him.

STEELE: Chris, your presumptions -

MATTHEWS: Other way, we were after him?

STEELE: Yes. We were after him --

COONS: It`s called a failure of leadership.

STEELE: It is not a failure to lead. It`s creating an opportunity to
take him out. That opportunity didn`t present itself. It presented itself
for the president. So, we are not looking back with that regards.

MATTHEWS: He`s 6`5" or 6`8", riding a pony and, you know, we couldn`t
catch him.

STEELE: Or living right next door.

MATTHEWS: Next question for you.

COONS: And Governor Romney wouldn`t move heaven and earth to hunt
down and kill Osama bin Laden. President Obama refocused us on where the
war started and where the war needed to be.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to a second term for President Obama. How would
you stop the Chinese from manipulating the currency to their advantage and
dishonest, unfair trade war?

COONS: By standing up to them both, in the world trade organization,
in multilateral situations and by calling them --

MATTHEWS: But, you haven`t done --

COONS: Yes. In the case of the dumping, tire dumping, President
Obama stood up for American workers. This is an example where Governor
Romney said that was a risky and dangerous thing to do and was going to
provoke a trade war. What I`m excited to see tonight is which governor
Romney shows up.

MATTHEWS: Same question to you. How would Mitt Romney, Mr.
Businessman, twist the Chinese arm and make them play fair?

STEELE: Well, first off, I think you set the tone in the
international community.

MATTHEWS: What? Are you going to beat up the Chinese?

STEELE: Well, someone -- you have to start.

MATTHEWS: What are you going to do to them?

STEELE: There you go. You got to work for your mind there --

MATTHEWS: No. Because Romney talks like this schoolyard bully and I
think he must have plan of advice.

STEELE: What he`s doing is making it very clear --

MATTHEWS: What your taking - now, hear this.

STEELE: This is exactly right. Look. Who is blocking us in the
U.N.? If it is all that great conversation --

MATTHEWS: Russia. Russia has a lot of power.

STEELE: Russia and the Chinese have a lot of power. And yet, they
are blocking the administration.

MATTHEWS: He`s going to go in there and just going to see him. It
would be so impressed, they are going to start doing what he wants them to
do. Remember, Romney was the guy in the campaign that said there are more
(INAUDIBLE) still.

STEELE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: The cowboy is not over yet.

STEELE: They will know where they stand. What`s your problem with
that?

MATTHEWS: My problem is I think when you start pushing war --

STEELE: He`s not pushing war.

MATTHEWS: Yes, yes, yes. Senator, can you pick up on this? Because
it seems to me I can`t get anywhere in educating this man?

COONS: I`m trying to figure out whether the Governor Romney -- it`s
going to be Governor Romney whose advised by the same neo cons took us to
two wars and led this country down a disastrous path or whether it`s the
Governor Romney who has governor of Massachusetts.

MATTHEWS: Can you imagine a country where John Bolton is secretary of
state. You frighten me.

STEELE: I do remember certain members of your party voting for those
wars not necessarily peeping about it and saying a word.

COONS: Any of them can --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you remember anybody opposing that war from the
beginning?

STEELE: Not - very few.

MATTHEWS: Can I pick your two fingers?

STEELE: You are not elected officials.

MATTHEWS: I know. But, that is probably why not. Thank you very
much.
Senator Coons, thank you for coming from Delaware. The first state.
Michael Steele, who was almost senator from Maryland, the free state. And
I tried to make it happen.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, when we return, let me finish with a giant of the
liberal left.

You`re watching "Hardball," the place for politics, live from Lynn
University for the final presidential debate tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish with this.

We live in a society where winning is everything, no matter how
dishonest, how sleazy, how nastily the victor has conducted himself is
cheered on election night. The verse is true for the loser. He or she can
be principled, honest, courageous, even visionary. Lose the election,
you`re a loser.

George McGovern flew two dozen combat missions over Europe in World
War II. He never bragged about his war heroism. Never even brought it up.
McGovern was not obviously a great politician. A great politician would
have combined his opposition for which this good man will always be known
with a strong statement of pride. And what we, Americans, he included,
accomplished fighting World War II. Again, he never did.

As a politician running to be commander in chief, he should have, but
didn`t. I never saw exactly eye to eye with this good man from South
Dakota. He never showed the kind of gut called warriors in the eye value.
He never personified the just view of most Americans toward the Soviet
Union which truly was said especially at the beginning on the course of
well-domination. He didn`t show his deep contempt and anger toward the
communist ambition and threat to us. Again, I don`t know why, but he
didn`t. And that bothered me.

But he was what he was, a cold war skeptic, a World War II guy who
never bragged, a man of guts we needed when Bobby Kennedy was gone and
Eugene McCarthy left the field. He was there to fight against the
stupidity, George McGovern was, of the American war in Vietnam. A war we
can only win by killing millions in the country, we went there to save.

George McGovern lost his seat in the Senate in 1980 during that
landslide. It would have been better for the country if he had been there
and re-elected several more times, fighting the now relentless series of
wars. We seem intent on fighting n the Islamic world.

That`s what I think. That`s why I think we lost just now, the man who
made a bit of profile encouraged both in war and in fighting for peace.
That`s George McGovern. We have lost him.

And that`s "Hardball" for now. Thanks for being with us.

Right now, MSNBC`s coverage of the presidential debate continues with
my colleague Rachel Maddow.

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

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