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updated 11/2/2012 11:55:06 AM ET 2012-11-02T15:55:06

HARDBALL
November 1, 2012

Guests: Shannon O`Brien, Tammy Duckworth, Jeff Zeleny

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Under the boardwalk. Hurricane Obama buries
Romney.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with this hurricane and this president. Hemingway
called it grace under pressure, the highly educated call it good
government. The American people, who count the most, call President
Obama`s handling of Tropical Storm Sandy positive. Four out of five give
him good marks as first responder in the crisis.

The question now, the Thursday before the election, is whether this
huge story about disaster and executive response is the last big one before
we vote. Is it the October surprise, the black swan that swoops out of
nowhere and changes everything? Well, as Scarlet O`Hara once said, There`s
always tomorrow.

Chuck Todd is NBC`s political director and chief White House
correspondent and John Heilemann is "New York" magazine`s national affairs
editor, as well as an MSNBC political analyst.

Gentlemen, I guess that`s my question to start with tonight, but let
me give you this first. The president this afternoon bagged a pretty big
endorsement, New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who`s always interesting to
watch. He cited the president`s stance on climate change as the major
reason, comparing Obama and Romney.

Bloomberg writes, quote, "One believes a woman`s right to choose
should be protected for future generations, one does not. That difference,
given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my
decision. One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America`s
march of freedom, one does not. I want our president to be on the right
side of history. One sees climate change as an urgent problem that
threatens our planet, one does not. I want our president to place
scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics."

Well said, very well said by a very smart, very savvy mayor of New
York. You`re chuckling, but you know it`s true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!

MATTHEWS: He is so smart.

CHUCK TODD, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/POLITICAL DIR.: The guy is
very savvy.

MATTHEWS: He is so smart.

TODD: And I wonder...

MATTHEWS: He waited until now.

TODD: Correct. I had somebody use the following phrase with me, he
may be the ultimate lagging indicator...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: ... in that Mayor Bloomberg`s a cautious guy politically. He`s
always looking out for Mayor Bloomberg, and there`s nothing wrong with
that. Politicians -- guess what? They always look out for their own best
interests first. That`s the nature of being an ambitious pol.

But would he have done this if he thought Obama was going to lose?

MATTHEWS: So that`s a indicator of the public. By the way, the
public thinks Obama...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: That`s my question. I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: The late brilliant -- by the way...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The late brilliant Jack Javits, the senator from New York
for so many years -- somebody once said in "Esquire" magazine, John -- you
know New York pretty well, you write for "New York" -- that when that ball
comes down on New Year`s Eve, or just at midnight when it starts to come
down, that`s how Javits would come down on an issue. You knew it was
already the new year. You know the decision had been made.

But here I give him more credit, Mike Bloomberg, who I happen to like
personally. I think he does follow very constructive, middle-of-the-road
instincts on this things. My thought.

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
look, he`s trying to put himself and he`s been trying to position himself
for a long time as kind of a centrist arbiter. You know, he set up a
super-PAC not that long ago to promote centrist politicians and moderate
politicians. He cares a lot about this issue in particular, climate
change, and the other issues where he is basically a social liberal, on
questions like abortion and gay marriage.

He got a phone call this morning from Vice President Biden, who he
likes personally a great deal. Personally, he likes Vice President Biden a
great deal more than he actually likes President Obama. But he had a
conversation with Vice President Biden, who asked him for the endorsement.

And Mayor Bloomberg had decided previously, I`m told, that he was
going to vote for President Obama. This was not an endorsement long in the
making. People had been asking questions about whether -- the fact that he
trashed President Obama pretty harshly in both "The New York Times" and in
"The Atlantic" recently...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very recently.

HEILEMANN: ... whether he was doing something savvy trying to set
this up in some way. I`m told that that`s not the case, he hadn`t actually
planned to endorse, literally, until today.

So how many votes it`s going to move in the Midwest among undecided
voters, I think that`s a dubious question. But certainly, it helps elevate
the issue of climate change a lot and helps President Obama refute the
notion that Republicans are making that he can`t work across the aisle.

MATTHEWS: And do the thing we all do, all three of us think about --
if it had gone the other way, what would it have meant?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: That`s right. It was the same with the Colin Powell
endorsement. And...

MATTHEWS: By the way, let`s look at that here...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Excuse me!

TODD: Sorry.

MATTHEWS: The president`s campaign today released an ad touting Colin
Powell`s endorsement. We`ll be right back -- we`ll be right back to Chuck
after his cue (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at what he`s talking about, the
endorsement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you endorse President Obama?

COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. When he took over, we
were in one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a
depression. And I saw over the next several years stabilization come back
in the financial community. Housing is starting to pick up.

The president saved the auto industry. And the actions he has taken
with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid.
And so I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he hasn`t got Mother Teresa yet. She`s lost to us.
But you know, he`s gotten the most trusted man in America. His name is
Bill Clinton right now, according to recent polling. He`s got General
Colin Powell, who`s long been one of the most trusted people in the
country, and he`s got probably the savviest pol, which is the mayor of New
York.

TODD: The most important point you were in the middle of making, and
I think both of us were in the middle of -- and I was in the middle of
agreeing on, which is the endorsements would have -- the non-endorsements
would have actually been a bigger deal in some ways.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: And this doesn`t take away from anything, and the president is
being able to use Powell.

But Bloomberg staying on the sidelines, it would almost have been his
way of saying -- I don`t think Bloomberg ever would have endorsed Romney,
but his way of giving the nod to Romney would have been non-endorsing.
Ditto with a Colin Powell.

So the -- getting the endorsement is, I think, a sign that these guys
think, number one, they want to be with winners. Both of them are very, I
think, careful guys when they throw their endorsement out there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: And so I think it says something about...

MATTHEWS: OK, you`re...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What would you rather have, "The Des Moines Register"
endorsement or Mayor Bloomberg`s?

TODD: It`s not even close. You`d want Bloomberg.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: The timing of Bloomberg, too. Boy, couldn`t have come at a
better time.

MATTHEWS: Same question to you, John...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`d rather have Bloomberg or have the Iowa -- "The Des
Moines Register"?

HEILEMANN: I`d rather have Bloomberg. And I`ll say, if you add it
all up, you`re talking about Bloomberg, Powell, and then in some senses,
the tacit at least visual kind of endorsement of Chris Christie. All of
those things -- I mean, Chris Christie has obviously not endorsed Barack
Obama in any explicit way. I want to be clear about that. But he looked -
- he said a lot of kind things about the president in the last 48 hours.

So you`ve got a bunch of centrist kind of...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: ... pseudo-Republican, pseudo -- who knows where they are
politically, but they`re in the middle of the road. And to have all those
endorsements piling up in this last week, the cumulative effect of all of
that I think is powerful.

MATTHEWS: Well, is there Obama momentum right now, Chuck? You score
these things pretty straight right down the middle. What do you think?

TODD: You know, it`s funny. I call it -- there`s sort of the
campaign insider`s zeitgeist, if you will, and there is this assumption,
whether you heard Haley Barbour say it publicly -- I`ve talked to
strategists on both sides, on the Republican side, worry about it
privately, and the Democratic side almost hopeful for it. They all think
there is some sort of bounce here for the president on Sandy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: Nobody can point to any metric yet to prove this...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: ... but when you think about where things were a week ago -- a
week ago, there was this assumption that, Boy, all the intangibles here at
the end were going to favor...

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you a political question...

TODD: ... favor Romney. And now it feels there`s these
intangibles...

MATTHEWS: OK...

TODD: ... you can`t necessarily measure them, that may favor the
president.

MATTHEWS: Well, you first, quickly. There`s -- I get the sense that
the love of Romney by the right and the other political players is based on
sand in this case, literally, and that the guys like the mayor of -- the
governor of New Jersey and all the voices out there that haven`t come to
Romney`s help this week -- they don`t love him enough to say, Wait a
minute, forget the storm, this guy`s great.

TODD: I don`t know. You know, I...

MATTHEWS: I don`t hear a lot of that.

TODD: It`s like Mark Ripen (ph) as the Redskins quarterback. They
loved him when he won a Super Bowl.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TODD: But then when he -- and unable to win a Super Bowl, they
weren`t going to be loyal to him at the end of the day.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but this is the...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: I think they decided that Romney`s good enough to win the Super
Bowl for them, and so they`re with him. I think they`ve been there for
him...

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Do you think this is a question of not
having a lot of strong personal support and love for the guy on the Romney
side? I`m just guessing. I don`t know. I don`t hear a lot of people
yelling, Hey, he`s still our guy, we love this guy (INAUDIBLE)

HEILEMANN: The only moment -- I think Chuck`s entirely right. The
moment when conservative and hard-core Republicans rallied around Romney
for the only time was right after the debate in Denver, when all of a
sudden, it looked like he actually had a chance to win the election.
They`d prefer Romney to win, for sure, but there`s not a lot of depth to
the emotion there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: And you know, look, in terms of this week, Chris, I think
just it`s the most obvious thing in the world, a challenger in a
presidential election who`s basically suffered a news blackout for the last
week of campaigning. Mitt Romney`s got no air time. He`s -- he`s --
whatever -- and the irony...

MATTHEWS: Because he has no job.

HEILEMANN: Whether he had momentum or...

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t have a job, and I think people noticed...

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN: Correct, and he has no role to play in this. That`s not
his fault, but it`s just the case.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: He`s not relevant to what`s going on, which means no one`s
covering him, which means for really for five solid days leading up to the
election, it`s been all Obama on the air and all storm...

MATTHEWS: Yes. I know.

HEILEMANN: ... and no Romney whatsoever. It`s sucked the oxygen
right out of his room.

MATTHEWS: It`s the first time, when he said, I`m unemployed like you
guys, to real unemployed people, that it was true.

Anyway, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this morning, the
president spoke movingly about the aftermath of Sandy and its destruction
on the East Coast. Let`s take a look at the president today in Wisconsin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve also been
inspired these past few days because when disaster strikes, we see America
at its best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One country!

OBAMA: All the petty differences that consume us in normal times all
seem to melt away. There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm.
There are just fellow Americans...

(CHEERS)

OBAMA: ... leaders of different parties working to fix what`s broken,
neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to
rebuild, a spirit that says, in the end, we`re all in this together, that
we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It`s interesting how gray the president`s hair has gotten.
It`s the same color as that jacket.

Anyway, one of the enduring images this week may turn out to be this
image of the president of the United States comforting a woman who had lost
everything. It happened yesterday afternoon in New Jersey. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: How are you? Are you OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

OBAMA: Oh, no. We`re going to help you get it all together, all
right? I promise. I promise. You`re going to be OK. Everybody`s safe,
right? That`s the most important thing, and then we`re going to get this
whole thing -- we`re going to get this whole thing set up. So the -- I got
my guy, Craig Fugate -- Craig...

CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes, sir?

OBAMA: This is the owner of the marina right here. And I want to
make sure that she knows that we`re going to immediately make sure that she
gets the help she needs to get this all back together, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there we go. And I think that`s real. It`s not
politics. It`s just human.

Anyway, let`s go to John Heilemann here. Look at the maps. We got
some maps here of where these presidential candidates -- and both of them
are running now like mad -- where they`re heading.

First of all, Romney. Look at this. You can tell a lot about the
contest, as I said -- well, I implied, look where they`re going. Take a
look at where Romney`s headed. According to NBC`s "First Read" this
morning, Romney was in Florida yesterday and Virginia today. He`ll also
hit Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado before the election.

The president -- this is an interesting map for him, the way they see
it -- will be in Wisconsin, where he is right now, with Nevada, Colorado,
Ohio, Iowa, Virginia and Florida. And of course, they`re sending their
number one surrogates, their VP nominees, out where they`re not going.

How do you see the map, John Heilemann? I haven`t talked to you in a
while. Is this the map the one you guys, the experts, have been studying
for months now, centered in Ohio, Virginia and Florida? Is it still where
the action is?

HEILEMANN: Well, it is for Governor Romney, for sure. Look, it`s
always been the case that Governor Romney needs to win Florida, needs to
win Virginia, and pretty much needs to win Ohio. Even then, he still needs
to pick up another state somewhere along the way.

You can see in his map that he`s spending most of his time in Florida,
Virginia and Ohio, and a little bit of time in one of those other states
that he thinks where he might be able to get a pickup, whether that`s
Florida -- I`m sorry, whether that`s Wisconsin, whether that`s Colorado.
Those are the states where he thinks he has the best chance. It`s clear
he`s not spending time in Iowa.

You know, he`s spending time in those places, and he`s going to spend
two different trips -- he`s ending his campaign in New Hampshire. He`s got
an event in New Hampshire also over the weekend. So he thinks he might be
able to pick up there. That tells you a lot.

I know a lot of Republicans had hoped that Governor Romney wouldn`t
have to be spending time in Florida or Virginia at this point...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: ... and he could be focusing more on Ohio and the pickup
states.

President Obama -- that map is a little bit misleading. Where he`s
really spending all of his time in the last three days is in Wisconsin, in
Iowa and in Ohio. Those are the three places...

MATTHEWS: Can he win with Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia and Florida?

HEILEMANN: Those -- oh, yes. Well, clearly, he`ll win with all those
things for sure. He could win even without some of those things. As long
as he holds onto Wisconsin and Iowa, he could lose a bunch of those other
big states. And so that`s his firewall.

He`s spending a bunch of time in those firewall states like Nevada and
Wisconsin and Iowa because he knows that he could -- that`s the way that he
holds on. Even if Romney somehow runs the table in Florida, Virginia and
Ohio, if he can hold those other states, he can still win.

MATTHEWS: Chuck, you go along with that, roughly?

TODD: I do, but...

MATTHEWS: He needs -- he needs Virginia and Florida.

TODD: Can I just say I`ve been -- I`ve been -- I`ve been trying --
the Sunday Romney schedule had been in the dark. They had set it up.
Here`s the Sunday schedule. We just got it -- Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and
Virginia. Now...

MATTHEWS: What`s Pennsylvania say to you, they got a chance there?
Yes. But is it likely? Is it a likely (INAUDIBLE)

TODD: Feels like they`re looking for more paths.

MATTHEWS: More opportunities.

TODD: And more opportunities. They basically failed to expand the
map early. They`re hoping maybe, hope upon hope, that they steal a state
late, that somehow, they could scramble the whole thing up with
Pennsylvania. The fact is, they`re close in Pennsylvania, but it`s "Lucy
and the football" close. It doesn`t feel like it`s...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, there`s a lot of work to be done by the
Democrats in southeastern Pennsylvania, get that vote out there.

TODD: They do have work to do in western Pennsylvania. There`s a
whole bunch of Democratic House -- your friend Mark Critz (ph) is in big
trouble.

MATTHEWS: Yes, we can talk about that Appalachian part of the state
at some point. I don`t want to start a fight right now.

TODD: No.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chuck Todd, and thank you, John Heilemann.

Coming up: Storm politics. The president gets a bear hug from Mitt
Romney`s keynote speaker. And he`s quite a bear, Chris Christie. He looks
like a man in charge. Everyone is reminded, by the way, that Romney wanted
to outsource FEMA to the states -- in other words, get rid of it as a
federal operation. What a dumb move to have taken, given what`s happened
here.

Also, Mitt Romney`s Halloween mask, Mr. Bipartisan. Do you believe
it? Trick-or-treat. Sure it`ll work with -- well, I don`t think it`s
going to work with anybody, anyway -- or this is just another Etch-a-Sketch
moment, putting on that mask of being bipartisan.

And Joe Walsh of Illinois -- remember that guy? He may be the one
Republican member of Congress most Democrats want to see defeated.
Remember, he wanted to -- he wanted there to have a -- a downsizing of the
United States credit rating. Anyway, she`s taken on the job. She joins us
late.

And "Let Me Finish" with the metamorphosis of Mitt Romney from, well,
caterpillar to butterfly?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We showed you the averages of the polls from battleground
states. Now let`s take a look at some individual numbers in the HARDBALL
"Scoreboard."

In Wisconsin, our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" Marist poll shows
President Obama with a 3-point lead. It`s Obama 49, Romney 46. In New
Hampshire, our poll has the president 2 points ahead, 49-47. In Iowa, our
poll has President Obama up by 6, 50-44.

In Colorado, a new CNN Opinion Research poll shows President Obama
leading there by just 2, 50 to 48. That`s a good lead. Finally, to
Michigan, where a new Epic MRA poll shows the president`s ahead by 6, 48 to
42.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Now, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on one
of the worst storms in our lifetimes, and we`re awed and we`re humbled by
nature`s destructive power. I was out in New Jersey yesterday and saw the
devastation, and you really get a sense of, you know, how difficult this is
going to be for a lot, a lot of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, President
Obama earlier today, discussing Tropical Storm Sandy`s destruction along
the East Coast. Well, voters are overwhelmingly supportive of his handling
of the storm. Catch this. A "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows 78 percent
give him a positive rating for his efforts these past few days.

Well, during his reelection pause, if you call it that, Mr. Obama
reminded Americans he has presidential duties and also found a couple of
unlikely friends along the way, one being New Jersey governor Chris
Christie, and now tonight a big one, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. But
with both sides now back to regular business on the campaign trail, what
will Sandy`s lasting effects be, meaning through Tuesday? That`s what
"lasting" is for the president and his challenger, Romney.

Jeff Zeleny is the national political correspondent for "The New York
Times" and Howard Fineman is the editorial director for the HuffingtonPost
and an MSNBC political analyst.

Let`s take a look at New Jersey governor Chris Christie just last
night in a press conference, where he continued to lavish praise on the
president. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The president of the United
States and I have now had six conversations since Sunday. That shows to me
a level of caring and concern and interest that I think a leader should be
giving to this type of situation. This was as comfortable and relaxed an
interaction as I`ve had with the president since I`ve known him. And I
think it`s because we`re both doing what we wanted to do, which was to get
things done.

There will be some folks who will criticize me for complimenting him.
Well, you know what? I speak the truth. That`s what I always do.
Sometimes, you guys like it. Sometimes, you don`t. Sometimes, politicians
like it. Sometimes, they don`t.

But I say what I feel and what I believe. And I`m just doing the same
thing with the president of the United States. So, I do pinch myself every
day. You know, like when I got on Marine One, I`m pinching myself, believe
me. Sandy (ph) and Bill Christie`s son on Marine One was not exactly what
I thought was going to be happening with my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: How can`t you like that guy?

Anyway, on another side of the planet, and on the side of the
Manichaean division between good and evil, here is Rush Limbaugh going
after Chris Christie`s kind words for the president. Let`s listen to the
walrus underwater. Listen to him right now. Here is Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie has decided to play the role of a Greek column today for President
Obama.

Obama and Chris Christie will tour the Jersey Shore. Chris Christie
is the only Republican -- I mean, not just praising Obama. I mean, it`s --
it`s -- let`s just put it this way. Is it wrong for one man to love
another man?

But that man love out there, it`s isolated to the state of New Jersey.
Well, just tell you what I have observed casually with my busy broadcast
eyes and my cochlear implant-aided ears.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He reminds me more of the guy from "Deliverance," squeal
like a pig, than anybody.

Anyway, this whole thought here we have, without getting too much of
the movie references here, Jeff and Howard, it just seems like squealing --
he`s squealing like a guy, like a pig essentially here. He knows he lost
the day and he just wants to complain about it, this bromance, suggestions
of gay behavior and all. It`s absurdity. It`s high school.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rush is the
kind of air raid siren for the Republicans.

And when he`s creaming like that, you know that something has
happened. Something significant has happened.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.

FINEMAN: And I think, if you add up all the factors, if you add up
the fact that the president gets to be president, if you add up the fact
that he gets to talk about bipartisanship and communal activity and it`s
all for...

MATTHEWS: Government being good.

FINEMAN: ... government being government, government being good, not
to mention the fact that it -- it also -- a lot of states have had to
rearrange events for the campaign.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: It stresses who has the more nimble campaign.

And my sense is, being out in Virginia, where they have rescheduled a
big event for Obama for Saturday in Virginia, that they have got -- Obama
has the more nimble campaign and have been able to adapt to the situation
in these states.

MATTHEWS: You know, Jeff, it`s great to have you on, by the way,
Jeff. And I read you all the time doing the straight coverage on the front
page of "The Times."

You know, in politics, like in life, there`s rain and there`s
sunshine. And, you know, these guys act like there shouldn`t be rain. I
just like the sunshine. We don`t live on that planet. We live on a planet
in politics where you get breaks and you don`t get breaks.

But there`s Limbaugh out there. Forget Limbaugh. Let`s talk about
reality here. You get the breaks. Something happens where you can use
your best stuff. And I think the president has had that opportunity now.

JEFF ZELENY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": And I think -- I think Howard is
right, he has been able to, you know, become more -- he looks more like a
president now.

For -- gosh, for several weeks, maybe for several months, he`s looked
like a Democratic candidate for president, rather than a sitting president.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ZELENY: So I think we`re sort of seeing him in a presidential moment.
He`s finally sort of filling out this -- the Air Force One jacket that he
had on, and kind of like he did in the early days of his term.

But I think the real question is, is this all going to matter? A lot
of those people who have made up their mind, the voters I talk to in Ohio
and Wisconsin and Iowa and elsewhere, are not going to suddenly go from
Romney to Obama.

But I think among the sliver of people who, you know, probably voted
for Obama four years ago and are not quite sure now, I think this could
help.

MATTHEWS: How many do you think there are, Jeff?

ZELENY: But standing next -- standing next to Chris Christie helps.

I`m not sure the Mayor Bloomberg thing is going to help at all in
Cincinnati or in Waukesha, Wisconsin. But Governor Christie helps.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It helps with the media though. It helps with our point of
view...

ZELENY: Sure. That`s true.

MATTHEWS: ... because we have watched this guy. We know him.

Let me ask you, everybody goes by the polls and they tend to be always
47/47, which means six people haven`t made up their mind. And we keep
looking for those six people. But I`m asking you as a pro. And I`m going
to ask Howard the same question. Aren`t there a lot of people who are more
like that group you described, voted for Obama one, worried about him this
time, may go with the other guy if he has a good night, like they were
right after that first debate?

Can they come back from that first debate and say, you know what,
looking at the later debates and looking at this, yes, I`m back where I
was? How many of them are there, potentially?

ZELENY: I think there are some out there. But the question is how
many of them have already early-voted?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ZELENY: The proliferation of early voting, there were some people who
were voting after the first debate, between the second and third debate.

I still think there are some of those who are still not quite sure and
probably have been looking for a sign here at the end of the race. If you
haven`t voted sort of right away, I think there are some people who are
holding off until this final week here, but people are locked in. People
are dug in and it`s about enthusiasm.

And I think this probably helps people`s enthusiasm for President
Obama.

FINEMAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Nobody is watching this show or any other show on this kind
of a program, MS or the other programs, political shows, that isn`t voting.
I can`t imagine watching us every night and not voting.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Chris, I can tell you from being out in Virginia today out
beyond the Washington -- limits of the Washington metropolitan area, right
on the periphery, that I think the president is making a bet that there are
still such people in Virginia.

First of all, they`re extending the hours.

MATTHEWS: And how would you describe them?

FINEMAN: I would describe them as the weakest possible of Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: They aren`t really Democrats. And they`re out there...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Harry Byrd Democrats.

FINEMAN: Yes. They`re out there. They`re out there, weakest
possible of Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: They have extended the hours of early voting in Virginia
because of the storm having come through.

MATTHEWS: And you also have some news for us.

FINEMAN: Well, the news is that the president is going to have a big
rally in Virginia, in Bristow, Virginia, which is on the edge of the
metropolitan area, near Manassas, on Saturday with Bill Clinton and with
Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews band.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Of course, they call it Manassas. We call it Bull Run.

FINEMAN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: But the idea is to excite the troops, to reward the people
who knock on doors with free tickets, close-in passes to the event and so
on.

They see a possibility of going beyond the firewall and winning
Virginia again.

MATTHEWS: A state they don`t necessarily...

FINEMAN: A state they don`t necessarily need, but if they can get,
they can have an easier election night for sure.

MATTHEWS: One of the honors of this job is having you guys on with
me. Thank you so much. I love having you guys on. I learn something
every -- Jeff, I don`t know how you guys do it on the front page of "The
Times."

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I have sat on buses with you people and I don`t know how
you do it. These stories are fantastic.

ZELENY: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much, Jeff Zeleny and Howard Fineman.

Up next: Iowa Congressman Steve King is at it again. What`s his
biggest fear when it comes to disaster relief money? You won`t believe
these guys. He`s one of the wackos.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

When Hurricane Sandy hit earlier this week, Mitt Romney`s campaign
shifted the focus of one of his Ohio events from -- quote -- "a victory
rally" to a -- quote -- "storm relief event."

Well, Steve Colbert weighed in on the change in the theme, of course,
as well as Romney`s stance on FEMA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Out of sensitivity, less
than one week from Election Day, Mitt Romney has been forced to suspend his
campaign.

That`s why he scrapped his victory rally in Kettering, Ohio, and
instead appeared at a completely different the same spot...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ... with the same people and called it a storm relief
rally...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ... which is so comforting for all those living on Ohio`s
hard-hit Atlantic coast.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Mitt Romney understands that disaster relief belongs only on
the state level.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every time you have an
occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to
the states, that`s the right direction.

COLBERT: Who better to respond to what`s going on inside its own
borders than the state whose infrastructure has just been swept out to sea?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: As we talked about earlier, it`s the Romney Etch A Sketch,
FEMA edition.

Next, Iowa Congressman Steve King -- there`s a piece of work -- seems
to be on a never-ending campaign to outdo his own history of crazy
comments. From the Republican congressman who thinks President Obama`s
birth certificate may have been telegrammed to him from Kenya, we now have
some comments on federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Here is what King said at a debate on Tuesday -- quote -- "I want to
get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this, but not
one big shot to just open up the checkbook, because following Hurricane
Katrina, they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you
can think of, in addition to what was necessary."

Well, so shopping is the key concern for the literally millions of
people affected by the storm? Also, what could be worse for hard-hit
states like New Jersey than a congressional vote on how FEMA should spend
its money? Does anyone really think that would be a speedy process? King
was one of 11 members of Congress, by the way, to vote against providing
additional disaster relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina back in
2005. What a record he`s got.

On a more positive note, Chris Christie`s wish comes through. It`s no
secret that the New Jersey governor is a big fan of rock `n` legend Bruce
Springsteen. Over the years, Springsteen, an Obama supporter, has not
returned the love, until last night.

At a concert last night, Springsteen reached out to the victims of
Hurricane Sandy and then some. Well, listen to this: "We`re a band that
can`t separate from the Jersey Shore. We will send this out to all the
people working down there, the police officers, the firemen, and also to
the governor, who has done such a hard job this past week."

Well, there you have it. The romance, the bromance isn`t quite as
one-sided anymore.

Also, what part of the presidential election got this 4-year-old
Colorado resident all choked up? Spoiler alert here: all of it.

Abigail -- that`s her name -- was riding along with her mom on a trip
to buy groceries with NPR playing on the radio. That`s National Public
Radio. She was listening to it. Here is her answer for why the tears are
flowing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABIGAIL EVANS, 4 YEARS OLD: Just because I`m tired -- I`m tired of
Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s why you`re crying? Ooh. It will be over
soon, Abby. OK? The election will be over soon, OK?

EVANS: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, NPR caught wind of Abigail`s semi-breakdown
over Mitt Romney and Bronco Bama, she called him, Barack Obama, and issued
a statement reassuring her that she only had to tough it out a few more
days.

Another sign that the final days of the election are upon us, check
out this snapshot of dueling lawn signs tweeted by "The Guardian"`s Suzanne
Moore. The one on the left is a clear sign of support for the Romney-Ryan,
the Republican ticket. The one on the right reads, "Husband`s Sign, Not
Wife and Son`s."

I love that.

Up next: Mitt Romney says he will work with across the aisle with
Democrats if he`s elected as president, but his track record says something
quite different. We`re going to have the record on him from the people
that know him best.

You`re watching HARDBALL. By the way, the state is going to vote
against him about 30 points up in Massachusetts. They know him, and they
don`t love him.

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 gains 136 points, the S&P up 15, the Nasdaq adds 43 points.
The Conference Board`s measure of consumer confidence rose to its highest
level in more than four years. Meanwhile, filings for first-time jobless
claims came in below estimates and payroll firm ADP says a stronger-than-
expected 158,000 jobs were created last month in the private sector.

Finally, the employment report is out tomorrow. Economists expect
payrolls to grow by 125,000.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but I was a
severely conservative Republican governor.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Strange wording, "severely conservative." He`s the only
one ever to use that phrase. But it was him. And that was Mitt back in
February trying to convince the hard-right audience that doubted his
conservative credentials that, even though he had been governor of a state,
Massachusetts, make no mistake, he was severely conservative.

Well, fast-forward about seven months, and now Mitt Romney is out
there using his experience as Massachusetts governor to convince voters
he`s actually bipartisan, he`s a man of the middle. Let`s take a look at
this ad, brand-new Mitt here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

ROMNEY: Republicans and Democrats both love America, but we need to
have leadership, leadership in Washington that will actually bring people
together and get the job done and could not care less if it`s a Republican
or a Democrat. I have done it before. I will do it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the problem is the bipartisanship he touts didn`t
exactly happen in New York, according to a "New York Times" report, when he
was governor up there.

It describes it, by the way, "The Times," did this way.
`Bipartisanship was in short supply up there. Statehouse Democrats
complained that Romney variously ignored, insulted or simply opposed them
with intermittent charm offensives. He vetoed scores of legislative
initiatives and excised budget lines a remarkable 844 times. He changed
budget decisions, according to the nonpartisan research group up there,
FactCheck.org" -- actually, FactCheck.org. "Lawmakers reciprocated --
lawmakers reciprocated by overriding the vast bulk of them."

Anyway, not exactly bipartisan up there -- my problem with reading the
teleprompter when the words get screwed up.

Anyway, Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning "Washington Post"
columnist and an MSNBC political analyst. And Shannon O`Brien, the great
Shannon O`Brien, is former Massachusetts state treasurer who ran against
Romney for governor in 2002.

So, Shannon, thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. I never
met you but I do call you Shannon. I think I met you once.

But here`s the story. Tell us what you know honestly coming into
this campaign about Mitt as he got along with Democrats in your state.

SHANNON O`BRIEN, RAN AGAINST ROMNEY IN 2002: He really didn`t get
along with Democrats in the state. He certainly wasn`t bipartisan. I
think that the Republican minority leader described it best. When Mitt
Romney came in as governor, he was actually a CEO. He was used to just
kind of telling people what to do and expecting them to listen to him.

That didn`t sit well with the Democratically-controlled legislature.
They thought they were an equal branch of government. And as a result, he
had something like 800 budgetary or line-item vetoes or legislative vetoes,
most of which were overridden by the legislature, sometimes unanimously.

MATTHEWS: What about this elevator of his? I think it`s a great
metaphor for what you`re detailing me. Why did he have his own self-
created, self-restricted elevator in the statehouse that no one else could
use? Tell me about that.

O`BRIEN: There`s an elevator that sits right next to the door to the
governor`s office and it`s always been open to the public, except for when
Mitt Romney was governor. He basically put up a rope, said you can`t come
into this elevator and he was the only one and his immediate staff that
could go up and down. The legislators believed that he was afraid that he
might get stuck on an elevator with an aggressive legislator who might try
to ask him to work with him on a particular piece of legislation. He
didn`t want to have those kinds of conversation.

MATTHEWS: I heard he didn`t even know the names of the lawmakers in
Massachusetts who were Democrats. When he saw them and he didn`t know who
they were.

O`BRIEN: He didn`t make much of an effort to know them, didn`t know
their names. As a matter of fact, he once or twice even got the name of
his own lieutenant governor`s name wrong. He called Kerry Healey, Shari
Healey.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good start.

Gene Robinson has watched politicians over the years.

He seems like pretty much of a stiff, myself.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes --

MATTHEWS: A guy who doesn`t hang out with the boys.

ROBINSON: No, he`s not a hangout kind of guy.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: I mean, he`s just not. You know, there`s an interesting
question of bipartisan. The example people always point to is Tip O`Neill
and Ronald Reagan.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: But one thing that you need, one prerequisite is that each
has to know where the other stands. You know, Tip knew what Reagan
believed. Reagan knew what Tip believed and then they could wheel and
deal.

I don`t think that could be present with Mitt Romney. You don`t know
exactly what his core beliefs are. They seem to be so fungible and so
malleable.

MATTHEWS: Are you really negotiating with a guy who has to negotiate
with his people all the time? Does he have to go back to his constituents,
Grover Norquist, can`t touch revenues, the neocons, got to be war like.
Does he got to go -- the religious right on abortion or any kind of same
sex issues. Does he have to check back because he doesn`t have a personal
core?

ROBINSON: Right. And so, you know, if they won`t buy it in brown,
let`s make it in blue, you know? That sort of business mindset I think he
brings to everything he does.

And so, you know, they wanted severely conservative rhetoric during
the primary so he gave it to them. And now, he thinks they want different
rhetoric.

MATTHEWS: Well, anyway, campaigning in Ohio, Vice President Biden
pointed out that as Romney plays up his bipartisanship, his credentials in
that department in the closing days of the campaign, he may find his
biggest headaches come from his own party, as I was suggesting. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask him the
question, the rhetorical question -- when have you ever seen Governor
Romney take on the establishment of his party? What do you think prospects
are that Governor Romney would attempt to do any of the things he now says
he supports? What do you think the chances of him doing that with the
Republican-controlled Congress if they keep the Congress? What do you
think the chances are he`s going to tell the Tea Party guys, you know,
you`re dead wrong? That`s basically what he`s saying now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Grover Norquist, as I just mentioned, is the no tax
guy, made clear that the right wing of the party expects to call the shots.
This is brazen.

But let`s listen to what was said and Romney never opposed what he
heard here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GROVER NORQUIST, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: Focus on electing the most
conservative Republican who can win in each House seat, and the most
conservative Republican who can win in each Senate seat, and then pick a
Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president
of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Now, he`s backing Romney. Romney signed the pledge for
this guy. Doesn`t he ever call him out and say, you just made a fool out
of me, you said I`m just going to be a robot?

ROBINSON: No.

MATTHEWS: He never complains.

ROBINSON: I mean, he hasn`t complained about that.

MATTHEWS: He wanted Norquist to believe he was going to be the guy
with the pen.

ROBINSON: Exactly. So you guys just pass it and I will sign it.

Now, would there come a point when Mitt Romney would actually
challenge the right wing -- the far right wing of the party? There has not
been a moment like that, not even remotely in this campaign. If you can
remember one --

MATTHEWS: I know. Shannon, let`s be open-minded. Could it be Mitt
Romney has become a real conservative? I mean, all these months now of
trying to go with the right on every -- by the way, he went to the right on
immigration, on taxes, on every issue I think, even the hawkish issues.

It seems like he decided to go into this campaign and never be
outhawked again or outrighted again. Is he that guy he painted himself as
being this last year or so -- this last year or so? Could he be?

O`BRIEN: Chris, it`s a question -- it`s a question that just can`t
be answered. The fact is this guy has no core. This guy will say whatever
he needs to say to meet whatever is --

MATTHEWS: Did you say that to his face? Did you go, Mitt, I got to
tell you, you`ve got no core, buddy?

O`BRIEN: I would say that -- never mind what I would say to his
face. The fact is 32 points, Mitt Romney right now according to a Suffolk
University poll is losing the state where he made lots of promises but
governed in a very erratic fashion. He didn`t keep his promises to the
people of Massachusetts. The people of Massachusetts at this point in time
it looks like he is losing by 32 points to Barack Obama.

That is incredible. This is a guy who ran, who made promises, and
did not keep promises in office. So, you know, I can`t answer that
question, and I think that the people of Massachusetts can answer the
question. This is a guy who has no core that they won`t support for
president, and they wish they probably had their vote back for governor
perhaps, too.

MATTHEWS: By the way, a real dealmaker which is Scott Brown is close
in the race to Elizabeth Warren. They think he is a dealmaker. That`s the
difference. By the way, they do know the difference even on the center
right. Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson. Thank you, Shannon O`Brien.

Up next, Democrats would love to see Republican Congressman Joe Walsh
-- he`s one of the worst -- of Illinois go down to defeat. And when we
return, we`re going to talk to the candidate who is trying to make that
happen, Tammy Duckworth.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: New numbers on some key Senate race. Let`s check the
HARDBALL scoreboard.

In Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin has a one-point lead over
Republican Tommy Thompson in our new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist
poll. It`s Baldwin, 48, Thompson, 47. Baldwin`s lead is four points in
new Marquette poll, 47-43, in that one.

In Pennsylvania, Senator Bob Casey has a nine-point lead over
Republican Tom Smith in a new Franklin & Marshall poll. It`s Casey, 48,
Smith down at 39.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back.

The dirty, angry money pouring into Republican Congressman Joe
Walsh`s race against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth is souring in
the campaign`s final week. Walsh famously accused President Obama of lying
about the effects of not raising the debt ceiling back in 2011. Let`s
watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: President Obama, quit lying. You know
government well that if August 2nd comes and goes, there is plenty of money
to pay off our debt and cover all of our Social Security obligations.

Have you no shame, sir? In three short years, you have bankrupted
this country and destroyed job creation. You`re either in over your head,
you don`t understand what makes this country great, or you`re hell-bent in
turning us into some European big government waste land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, whatever you think of that. "Chicago Tribune"/WGN
poll conducted last week shows Walsh`s challenger Tammy Duckworth leading
that person by 10 points now and a PPP poll the same week showed a 14-point
lead for Duckworth, his challenger. And yet, the concerted super PAC
FreedomWorks is pouring another $1.7 million into the race, and the pro-Tea
Party Now or Never super PAC is spending another million.

With me now is the Democratic candidate for the Illinois eight
district, Tammy Duckworth.

Colonel Duckworth, thank you for joining us. It`s an honor to have
you on and thank you for your service to our country.

And my question is this: why are they pounding your race with all of
this dirty, angry money?

TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), IL CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, Chris, I
think it`s because they know they can buy him. They have a history of him
voting exactly the way they want. We wondered why he was the only member
of the entire bipartisan Illinois delegation to vote against a
transportation bill, a bill that brings thousands of jobs into the district
and about $300 million specifically to our district until we -- until we
realized that Now or Never is funded by a group that is anti-transportation
bill.

So that`s why they are coming in.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DUCKWORTH: They want to buy this election.

MATTHEWS: Are they working with your opponent?

DUCKWORTH: Well, you know, it`s one much these things where it`s --
you know how super PACs are, Chris.

MATTHEWS: It`s supposed to be illegal. I just want to know what you
think is going on. Is it -- I know you`re not supposed to do it. But all
of this money coming in, is it being coordinated with what seems to be --
you tell me, is it part of the campaign by the incumbent?

DUCKWORTH: Well, boy, it sure seems that way. Look at what Mr.
Walsh has on his bio, on his web page. He says that he founded Americans
for Limited Government, who wrote two checks, each of a million dollars, to
Now or Never, and that`s who is funding these negative ads against me.

So, you just have to connect the dots. You know, on our side, we`re
funded by an average contribution of $50. So, it`s $20, $30, $50, fighting
against these big million dollar checks.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about -- we talk a lot about women issues
because at least half of our viewers are women. Let`s look at a tape of
Joe Walsh, your opponent, the incumbent, among the strange things that he
said. Let`s hear what he said back in October 19th actually about
abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: This is an issue that opponents of life throw out there to
make us look unreasonable. There`s no such exception as life of the mother
and as far as health of the mother, same thing with advances in science and
technology, there`s -- health of the mother has been -- has become a tool
for abortions for any time under any reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So there`s a pretty strong argument that there`s no one
that has ever died in child birth. I don`t know what the science is,
exactly. What do you make of it, what these claims now that there
shouldn`t be an exception or health for the matter, which we know most
people honor those exceptions? Most people.

DUCKWORTH: Right. They`re simply not true. I think he`s been going
to the Todd Akin school of biology, to be honest.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DUCKWORTH: In fact, one in 40 pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies
where the fertilize eggs implant in the fallopian tubes. Women have
(INAUDIBLE), high blood pressure that my result in the loss of the fetus if
you don`t -- you know, to save the life of the mother. Women who have
cancer and need chemotherapy, there`s a number of reasons.

But the point is, this is not where this district is. This is a
moderate district of hardworking people.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DUCKWORTH: And they believe that women, you know, should be trusted
to make decisions about their own bodies and Congressman Walsh simply
doesn`t.

MATTHEWS: Tammy Duckworth, thank you so much for coming on HARDBALL.
Good luck next week.

When we return, let me finish with a word of warming about Mitt
Romney`s amazing transformation over the last couple of days, you know, to
moderate.

You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: it`s called dressing for
success. There are people who do this for a living, tell you how to show
up when it`s important, how you show up. Well, remember that old line
clothes make the man. Well, it`s under that rule that Mitt Romney, the
severely conservative candidate has transformed himself from right wing
foot soldier to moderate independent. In a metamorphosis worthy of a
caterpillar flying out as a butterfly, Mitt Romney has fixed his wings for
the final days of the campaign.

Forget all the limboing he did to win the nomination of the right-
leaning party, forget the humiliating flexing to the birthers, the neocons
and the Norquists. Meet the pliable, flyable Mitt, the Walter Mitty (ph)
of I can do anything I want and pretend to be anyone I want.

This guy is a piece of work and the question to voters is this: did
you ever hear the phrase caveat emptor, buyer beware?

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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