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updated 11/20/2012 10:02:36 AM ET 2012-11-20T15:02:36

HARDBALL
November 19, 2012

Guests: Jay Newton-Small, John Feehery

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mitt Romney, kick him when he`s down.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Philadelphia.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. It used to be that Democrats were
nasty to their losers. Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Al Gore
-- they all had to skip town to avoid the abuse they faced after losing.
Well, the fact is, Democrats don`t forgive candidates who lose, they try to
erase them from history. To use a battlefield term, they shoot their
wounded.

But watch what the Republicans are doing this very minute. They`re
taking Romney apart like vultures on a wounded antelope. Want to make your
bones as a prospect for 2016? Just take a piece out of the guy who went
down in 2012. Get a piece of Romney and wave it in the air until everybody
sees it. Newt Gingrich, George Will, Bobby Jindal -- they`re all doing it.

Howard Fineman`s the editorial director for the HuffingtonPost, and
John Heilemann is national affairs editor for "New York" magazine. Both
are MSNBC political analysts.

Howard, I have to tell you this is something like I`ve never seen
before. Let`s start with these -- I have to start with these clips. On
the Sunday talk show circuit, Republicans ran with Mitt Romney remarks that
the president had won because of giving gifts to minorities and young
voters.

Take a look at after (ph) they go after him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: I just
think it`s nuts. I mean, first of all, it`s insulting. This would be like
Wal-Mart having a bad week and going, The customers have really been
unruly. I mean, the job of a political leader, in part, is to understand
the people. If we can`t offer a better future that is believable to more
people, we`re not going to win.

CARLOS GUTIERREZ (R), FMR. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: The unfortunate
part -- and we were just talking about this -- I don`t know if he
understood that he was saying something that was insulting. The language,
the attitude, the body language -- that`s what Latinos watch.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We`re in a big hole. We`re
not getting out of it by comments like that. When you`re in a hole, stop
digging. He keeps digging.

GEORGE WILL, ABC "THIS WEEK": It`s been well said that you have a
political problem when the voters don`t like you, but you got a real
problem when the voters think you don`t like them. And that is -- Mitt
Romney was picking up the theme he improvidently put before the country,
and inadvertently, with his 47 percent video during the campaign.

Quit despising the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Howard, I always wondered how people became
instant experts. Didn`t the Republicans during the campaign notice the
phrase "1 percent" that they were defending? Didn`t they notice the phrase
"47 percent" that was being dismissed?

All that time, all that information being thrown at them, and they`re
all saying, Romney`s going to win this baby. George Will said he was going
to win it. Peggy Noonan said he was going to win it. Of course, Karl Rove
said he`s going to win it. Every one of them said he`s on a winning
campaign strategy here. Everything`s working.

And now they`re all instant -- I don`t know what. They`re St. Paul on
the road to Damascus, and that road`s really crowded, these converts. Your
thoughts.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, first of all, there`s a personal level to this. The fact is that
none of the other Republicans ever liked Mitt Romney, and he didn`t do
anything during the campaign to endear himself to them.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Don`t forget, he attacked them all in the primaries. This
is kind of the revenge of the clowns here. He knocked -- he knocked them
off one at a time. He sort of knocked them over in Iowa and elsewhere
along the campaign trail, number one.

Number two, his campaign was based on a negative. It was based on the
idea that he would have to win because President Obama was so bad. There
was no philosophy to it. Mitt Romney`s campaign was kind of the end of the
line of the conservative era that began coherently with Ronald Reagan in
1980. Mitt Romney was the ultimate remainder man. That`s why they have an
easier time of dumping on him right now.

MATTHEWS: So the clown car has backed up to run over Mitt Romney.
That`s your image for the night?

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: Yes, it is.

MATTHEWS: Like that woman who didn`t like her husband. Remember?
She drove over the guy in the parking lot a few years back and then rode
back over him again!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Let me go -- I don`t want to get involved in that legal
case, but I do remember the pictures.

FINEMAN: OK.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to John Heilemann here. John, is this the clown
car, as Howard beautifully put it, backing up over the guy that out-dorked
them, actually won the election, even though he was no more or less dorky
than they were? Your thoughts.

JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well,
you know, look, some of these people are -- are -- are -- some of these
people are not certifiable clowns who are saying these things about Romney,
and I -- though I don`t disagree with Howard`s characterization in general,
I do think...

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN: I do think it`s fair to say -- I think it`s fair to say
that part of Romney`s problem was that he was really always an incredibly
bad fit with the Republican Party on almost every level. He was not most
of the things the Republican Party is today, nor really is he much of what
the traditional Republican Party has been.

He was not a comfortable populist. He was also not a comfortable
establishmentarian. He was never really part Washington, D.C., Republican
establishment. He was an unloved character, and the only that people
glommed onto him ever was that he was the most electable of a very, very
weak field. And so if the only reason...

FINEMAN: Those are the clowns -- those are the clowns I was referring
to.

HEILEMANN: If the only -- of course. Of course. But if the only
reason that the Republican Party ever had any enthusiasm for him -- and
remember, in mid-September, after the 47 percent video, a lot of the
Republican Party was ready to abandon him. It was only after the Denver
debate, when it looked like he had new life, that they all rallied around
him. Again, they rallied around him because they thought he might be able
to win.

But if the only reason that people are rallying to you is that they
think you`re electable, and not because you believe what they believe or
you represent a good future for the party, if you lose, what`s left?

FINEMAN: He was...

MATTHEWS: Well, Howard, I want to be very cynical here. Aren`t a lot
of the people in politics engaged because they want something out of it? I
mean, it sounds so obvious. We always used to call them meal tickets.
They showed up because this guy`s going to take care of them the rest of
their life.

And you see them on election night at headquarters. They weren`t
there working until the election day, but election night, headquarters are
packed with people looking for something from the candidate. I know you`re
shaking your head there, John.

And it seemed like you saw this with Dukakis. This guy was the
perfect candidate for the Democrats back in `88, until he lost. And it
just isn`t -- it isn`t one party.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: But the Republicans were always much better at covering
their wounded. They`d run -- Nixon ran again and again and again. They
brought back Bob Dole 20 years later. They always run the familiar names.
This time, it looks like they`re really mad about the club. The club
itself produced this guy, and they don`t like him.

FINEMAN: That`s right. But this was the last and least of the club,
Chris, as John Heilemann was explaining. There was no philosophy
whatsoever behind all of this. It was pure opportunism.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: It was pure, I`m in the right place because we have a
president at a time of high unemployment, so I`m going to win, so be with
me for no other reason than I`m going to win. There was absolutely nothing
else to it. It was that naked. And so when he loses, that`s going to make
it all the more -- that`s going to make it all the more vehement.

And I would also say that the old sort of royalist Republican Party,
where people kind of wait their turn and they train within the party,
whether out of ideology or moving up the chain, really doesn`t exist very
much anymore.

And Mitt Romney, in his own way, was in defiance of that because he
used his own fund-raising and his own clout with what was left of the
establishment to take the nomination when there was nobody else available.

MATTHEWS: Well said. John, does that mean to you, John, that if you
agree with that -- and I sort of do because I think the Tea Party has
really shaken up the Republican Party -- that the days of another Bush
getting the nomination next time are probably over, that it`s not going to
be a party dying to find the latest guy whose turn it is.

HEILEMANN: I don`t know. I mean, look, I mean, I think Jeb Bush, if
he runs in 2016, will be right at the front of the pack among potential
runners.

But I do think that there`s another element, and I think Howard will
agree with this, that`s going on here, which is that -- and I think it was
Ben Smith on Buzzfeed who wrote a piece a couple days ago that made this
point -- where it`s almost like Romney`s become a bad bank.

You know, remember when the banks were all failing, they were going to
create a bad bank, where they put all the toxic assets? You`ve got a party
that now wants to turn away and knows it needs to reinvent itself.

And so the easiest thing in the world, the easiest way to make that
pivot is to the throw all of the toxicity that`s around the brand and heap
it all on Mitt Romney, on unloved Mitt Romney, who they never liked anyway,
throw all the bad assets and all the criticism on top of him, and use him
to kind of push off against towards some other kind of future. I think
that`s another dynamic that`s driving this.

FINEMAN: Well, I agree with that. He`s sort of like the Lehman
Brothers of politics.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: But that`s disingenuous because -- a process because the
Republicans have a lot more deep thinking to do than just shoving it all
onto Mitt Romney, obviously.

MATTHEWS: Yes, how about the numbers?

FINEMAN: Obviously.

MATTHEWS: How about the numbers? You can`t make a party a success if
it salutes the top 1 percent and trashes the bottom half, the 47 percent.
I mean, these numbers are on the table.

Let`s take a look at Podhoretz. I disagree with Podhoretz
politically. He`s a bit far right for me. But I have to tell you, he`s
always great on movies, and for some reason, he`s really good at
recognizing that among Mitt Romney`s failings was his inability to connect
with voters who aren`t solely focused on being tycoons, big-time
capitalists.

Here he was on "MORNING JOE," I believe, making the same point he made
in "The New York Post" last week, and I thought it was a good one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN PODHORETZ, ``NEW YORK POST``: The problem for Mitt Romney is
they had a theory of the race, which is they needed to run against Obama --
they were -- he was just going to be the non-Obama and that the unifying
principle was going to be that Obama was bad for business and he was a
businessman and he would be good for business.

The problem with such a thing is that if you center a campaign on
business, what happens to people about -- for whom business is not the
central fact of their lives? Sort of like middle class people, ordinary
people who want to work 9:00 to 5:00, whose lives are centered not on what
they do on but their families, on their churches, on their communities, and
you know, saying to them, What I`m going to do is unleash the dynamic
powers of American capitalism, doesn`t -- doesn`t speak to the specific...

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, ``MORNING JOE``: Hey, that`s great!

PODHORETZ: ... anxieties...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It turns out, John, that we are not a nation of
shopkeepers. Most of us are lucky to get jobs we love, like I do, and you
guys. We do -- we never started a business in our lives.

There`s a lot of people we look up to in this world, by the way -- you
know, FDR, Ike, Jack Kennedy never started a business. General Petraeus
never started a business. There are a lot of people that just are lucky to
find positions they fit into and they serve somebody and get paid for it.

John, this idea that, I`m a rugged capitalist, I`m reading Ayn Rand, I
read "The Fountainhead," I read "Atlas Shrugged," and now I`m going to get
51 percent of the vote -- it turns out that aren`t that many people who are
Ayn Rand fans, it turns out.

HEILEMANN: Well, look, in a country of more than 300 million people,
if you`re going to have a vibrant economy in America, you need both
entrepreneurial energy and innovation and all that stuff, but you also need
not just entrepreneurs, but you need workers.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And voters.

HEILEMANN: The vast majority of those people are not going to be
people who start businesses in their garage. They`re not going to start
Apple. They`re not going to start Bain. They`re going to go out and
they`re going to work for people who start things.

And if you can`t talk to those people and have a vision that
encompasses both, the entrepreneurial animal spirits that make our capital
-- our economy work, and also the people who are actually out there just
putting in their time and doing -- working hard for a...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HEILEMANN: ... you know, working hard and playing by the rules, as
Bill Clinton liked to say -- if you can`t speak to both of those, you`re
not going to be able to be a -- you`re not going to be able to be a winner
or have a governing majority that`s stable in this country. It`s just not
possible.

MATTHEWS: And Howard, the great swing voters in the country we used
to call Reagan Democrats -- more conservative, many Catholics, but just
middle-of-the-road people who swing right when times are bad and they don`t
like the Democrats` current performance -- I`m not sure they`re all
capitalists and tycoons. They run, you know, what -- laundries and dry
cleaners and they`re not shopkeepers. They`re generally people that go to
work and come off the shift.

FINEMAN: No, that`s right. And so -- so Podhoretz`s critique was two
levels. One was what John was saying, which is that not everybody cares
about entrepreneurialism and the abstract theories of...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: ... you know, Joseph Schumpeter, et cetera.

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: And the other part- and the other part of it is cultural.
People want to be left alone to live their lives in relative security with
values that they appreciate.

And Mitt Romney, who thought the whole campaign was just about the
unemployment rate, even failed at that because he didn`t connect up the
entrepreneurial spirit with how it might help the lives of those workaday
people. That`s something that Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp kind of figured
out at least how to sell a generation ago and that this generation of
Republicans has yet to figure out.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I guess I was one of the takers because I went to
school on student loans that were backed by the government. So I guess I`m
one of the 47 percent. Thank you, Governor, for naming me as part of the
problem.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Howard Fineman, sir, thank you.

FINEMAN: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I think we all went to school on loans. Anyway, Howard,
John Heilemann, have a nice Thanksgiving if I don`t see you again this
week.

Coming up also, so much has been made of the fact that President Obama
got only 39 percent of the white vote in this country. A national problem
for the president? Not really, when you realize that in the deep South,
Mississippi, he got about 10 percent. A lot of his problem -- and there`s
nothing wrong with talking about it -- is in the South. It`s just the
historic problem the Democratic Party -- white or black candidates have
this problem -- are just having a very tough time.

Also, the battle for Hillary`s job -- it`s getting hot. It`s the
first big decision President Obama has to make since his reelection. It
looks like it`s between John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice. Will the president go
with the 2004 presidential candidate or his apparent favorite?

And we`re also going to get a report from Gaza, on the latest in the
fighting there that I think could lead to a war with Iran. This might be
the first stage of that war.

And talk about the GOP`s woman problem. In Story County, Nevada, a
Republican businessman who employs lots of women just got elected county
commissioner. The things is, the woman he employs are prostitutes. He
runs a brothel. Remember the Mustang Ranch? That`s it. And that`s in the
"Sideshow."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Another victory for a Democrat in a close House race. Ron
Barber, the successor to Gabrielle Giffords, has won his race in southern
Arizona. Barber defeated Republican Martha McSally in a contest that took
until this weekend to settle. Both Barber and McSally held leads in the
vote count since election night, but it`s Barber, the Democrat, who`s
emerged victorious. Barber was a district director for Congresswoman
Giffords and he was actually injured during the shooting that nearly killed
her.

And an update from Florida in that race between Patrick Murphy and
Republican congressman Allen West. Murphy`s lead over West has grown by
nearly 300 votes after a recount in St. Lucie County, but West is still,
unbelievably, refusing to concede.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There`s been a lot of focus on
the share of the white vote President Obama won in the election. There`s
an impression out there that whites abandoned Mr. Obama, when in fact, he
got 39 percent of the white vote. But it`s where that vote came from that
tells us so much more.

First a look at Obama`s share of the white vote in Southern states.
Here`s where the polls, the exit polls we took, show a dramatic skewing of
the numbers in states like Mississippi and Alabama. And look at these
numbers. President Obama won only 10 percent in Mississippi, 15 percent in
Alabama.

In North Carolina, a state that`s growing more national, he got 31
percent of the white vote. In Florida and Virginia, which are very
national states, all much closer to the national average, he got 37
percent.

So you see as you go into the deep South, the old cotton South, it
gets more difficult for him to get the white vote. But as you get to the
states that are becoming more diverse and more like the United States as a
whole, you see the problem is not as bad as it was.

Now, take a look at the Midwestern states. Here he overperformed the
national average, the president did. In Ohio, the president got 41
percent. In Michigan, 44 percent. Minnesota and Wisconsin, he got 48
percent. In Iowa, he got 51 percent, a majority ,in those states. And
those numbers show that white support for the president is heavily
influenced by region, particularly in the deep South.

Joy Reid is managing editor of TheGrio and John Feehery is a
Republican strategist.

I want to get into this, not without -- I think there were some racial
games played by people like Donald Trump throughout the campaign, and
Sununu.

But let me tell you guys, I`m not saying any voters are prejudiced,
but I do think there`s a redolent attitude about federal government policy,
resistance to the federal government in the deep South that goes across
lines, like being more supportive of tough defense, very much against
bureaucracy, somewhat still populist, but also a residue, in all fairness,
to the Civil Rights area.

The deep South didn`t like Democrats long before Obama came along.
They particularly don`t like him, Joy.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, no, I think that`s
absolutely true, Chris. And you have seen the Republican Party become
increasingly a Southern party. They absorbed all of the old Dixiecrats.
That "Southern strategy" was about separating those former Democrats from
their party and bringing them into the Republican fold.

Look, you hear when you look at people in the South, the rhetoric is
about statism. It`s 10th Amendment stuff. It`s all this idea of the
federal government overreaching, and I -- and you know, there was a lot of
sort of pro-Confederate revisionism that you heard coming out of even the
Tea Party movement. And I think the Tea Party was also mainly a Southern
movement.

So you definitely had a resistance not just to this president but
Democrats in general, and then you layer on and I think you add the issue
of race, and you know, like it or not, I think that had to be a part of it,
too. But for certain, Barack Obama`s white working class firewall was in
these more unionized states in the Midwest.

MATTHEWS: Yes, unions.

REID: That`s where he had a base.

MATTHEWS: I think unions are a good force against ethnic prejudice
because they encourage you to vote by your economic interests, not your
tribe, if you will.

John Feehery, I`m trying to be fair here and I`m looking at this
history. It`s amazing, if you look back, Jimmy Carter, for example -- look
at this. The `64 election, let`s start with that. Let`s go really -- it`s
a great historic lesson tonight.

In the `64 election with Lyndon Johnson, the last time, actually, the
Democrats got half the white vote -- since then, Jimmy Carter -- he`s also
a man of the South -- got close to -- he got 48 percent of the whites.
Since then, Democrats have ranged from a low of 34 percent with Mondale in
`84 to a high of 44 percent with Clinton in `96. Barack Obama in his first
election got 43 percent, the second highest number for a Democrat since
Carter.

Well, this year, the president got 39 percent of the white vote, which
is only slightly below the 40.6 percent share for Democrats over the years.
So, the Democrats are running about two out of five white votes, if you
will, historically. Obama is very close to that, with a particular skewing
against him in the Deep South. What do you make of it?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I would just disagree with
this idea that the GOP is a regional party.

If you look at all of those states, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan,
and Pennsylvania, they were -- all have Republican governors. Mitt Romney
is from Massachusetts. He did well in the South, which is no surprise. As
you pointed out, Chris, he`s done -- Republicans have done well in the
South since `64.

His problem in the Midwest and Upper Midwest is he was kind of a lousy
candidate. He didn`t do what he had to do. He didn`t connect with
working-class voters. And that`s a real problem, but Republicans have
connected with working-class voters, and they did two years ago, and I
think they will continue to do that in the elections to come.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But why did that take back America -- let me just go to
something in the rhetoric. And you can read it both of your own ways.

Romney kept saying -- we have got a little montage -- I`m going to
take back America, we`re going to take back America, going to take back
America. I have to live with the fact that the Dallas Cowboys are
America`s team. I guess they gave themselves the name. I don`t know how
they got it, but they do. But how did he get to be the American candidate?
That`s what I want to know. Who named him that?

FEEHERY: Well, that`s a frequent thing in politics. People always...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I never heard Obama say take back America.

FEEHERY: When the other -- you know, this is not that unfamiliar.
The idea we`re going to take back the White House, we`re going to restore
America, we`re going to renew America, hope and change, whatever you want
to call it, the other -- the team that`s out of politics, out of power
wants to take back power.

And that`s not -- I don`t think that`s racially motivated. I think
it`s ridiculous to think it is.

REID: No, but you know what, John? Look at the Tea Party`s rhetoric,
because that`s where this whole take back America stuff started.

These were people that were looking at the colonial period as the
idyllic period in American history, the period before you had unions,
before you had racial integration, this sort of America in which African-
Americans were three-fifths of a person.

That was the era that the Tea Party saw as the idyllic period in
American history. And I think to your point about 2010, let`s not compare
apples to oranges. What president in midterms is that minority voters and
younger voters stay home. So, sure, you can win a Pennsylvania or an Ohio
or a Michigan in an off-year election, when basically white voters are the
ones coming to the polls.

When you add the ethnic dimension and you had younger voters, all of a
sudden, it becomes a lot harder for Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: I think that`s ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let`s narrow this conversation to get away from the ethnic
for a second. And I know it`s all part of our lives, but talk about this
right now, John Feehery.

I just watched "Lincoln" last night. So it`s all over my head now
with Thaddeus Stevens. By the way, Tommy Lee Jones steals the movie as
Thaddeus Stevens. It`s an amazing part. And Daniel Day-Lewis is fabulous.
But there`s nobody as good as Tommy Lee Jones in this movie.

Anyway, you talk about the 10th Amendment in the South. Why is the
10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states from the federal
government, so much an issue with Republicans? Why do they love that 10th
amendment so much? Is sounds like the Civil War to me. Your thoughts.

FEEHERY: Well, my thought is that I would prefer to talk about
things, not constitutional arguments, but practical arguments.

But the 10th Amendment movement, it is all about the federal
government is screwing up and we want to have it spend less of our money
and we want to spend more of our money back home. There is a 10th
Amendment saying that what is not reserved -- not defined in the
Constitution is reserved to the states and that the states should take care
of it, and the idea that the government locally can do the best job for the
American people.

That`s a constitutional argument. I think it can be a good argument,
but I don`t think it necessarily -- those type of constitutional arguments
work with voters, especially in the vast middle, where they want you to
solve practical problems.

MATTHEWS: Well, I just think the 10th Amendment could be used. I
look at the way these states are running their election laws. Every time
they rewrite them, it`s to screw the Democrats or the minorities. And I
go, yes, that`s why they want to everything from the state level.

And, by the way, they`re not particularly competent in the way they do
these things.

Your thought about -- Joy, every time I hear the 10th Amendment, I
hear the Civil War, because it basically says we don`t trust Washington,
and we`re going to do it at the state level.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: That seems to be a Southern thing more than Northern. Just
a thought.

REID: It does. And you also have that sort of bastion of Southern
states and Southern governors that want to -- they want to run Medicaid
however they want to do it, but in a lot of cases that means spending less
money on their poor. These tend to be poorer states, ironically enough,
which as you said there`s a competency issue in how they`re running public
education, which tends to be poorer in Mississippi let`s say than it is in
Massachusetts or New York, and issues when it comes to Medicaid and the way
that those states are running it.

And they have disproportionately more poor. It`s very interesting
that the states that want more power devolving to them are the states that
tend to need more help from the federal government, and, in fact, that get
more help from the federal government than taxes they put in.

MATTHEWS: OK.

REID: But I do think the union dimension is important here. If you
look at the states that have something like 14, 15 percent and above union
membership, Barack Obama did very well in them and Democrats do very well
in them.

Look at the sort of attempts to push back the union movement. It has
definite consequences for Democrats` ability to win election on the ground.
They have the money, they have the ground troops, and they still have the
loyalty of working-class white voters who are voting their economic
interests.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Let`s talk about the future now, future elections for president.

John Feehery, you and I will -- well, definitely, you will be doing
this for years ahead. Let`s talk about the fights here. The share of the
electorate made up by white voters right now have been more Republican, has
been in steady decline. In 1992, it was 87 percent of the electorate.
Hard to believe. It dropped about three points each year every four years
since then. Now it`s down to 72 percent.

How do the Republican Party -- how does it rebuild itself so they can
get 51 percent? Imagine trying to get 51 percent of the whole out of that
72 percent. You would have to get five-sevenths of the vote to win a
general election if you only relied on white voters. It`s not that bad,
but it`s close.

FEEHERY: Well, Chris, obviously, long term the Republicans can`t just
rely on the white vote. They can`t afford to lose 80/20 with African-
Americans and Hispanic voters and Asian Americans. That`s just not doable.

And I do think that the conservative philosophy is not the problem
here, that we have a cultural issue. The Republican Party has to be more
inviting to all ethnic groups. They haven`t been particularly inviting.
You have people on the right, the shock jocks, the talk radio guys who have
these racial code words which I think are outrageous.

The fact of the matter is that we have to as a party culturally be
much more inviting and make sure that we communicate and then have policies
that work for all Americans that every Republican has been saying since the
election. I mean, this is a long-term project. And passing immigration
reform is not necessarily going to solve the problem, but it`s a -- one
step in the right way.

MATTHEWS: Well, your party has had success in that area before. The
guy was named Abraham Lincoln, and, by the way, as recently as Nelson
Rockefeller did very well with African-Americans. And a guy named George
W. Bush did extremely well among Hispanics.

FEEHERY: That`s right. I agree with that.

MATTHEWS: So, it`s not undoable. It has to do with personality, too.
Do you really like a lot of different kinds of people or are you kind of
narrow in your thinking?

Anyway, thank you, Joy Reid.

FEEHERY: Well, I think that`s right. I think that`s right. I think
Mitt Romney just did not connect with a lot of folks. He didn`t connect
with a lot of white working-class voters either, and that was a real
problem in this election.

REID: But, John, if tone...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We got to go. We got to go. I`m sorry, Joy. Joy, you`re
fabulous. We have got to go. Next time.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And you will be back soon.

Up next: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is getting a lot of
mileage out of that fleece sweatshirt he`s always wearing. I am not into
this, but I am going to find a way into it. By the way, people are making
fun of it.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

First up: Chris Christie goes on "SNL." That`s right. The New Jersey
governor made an appearance on "Weekend Update" to comment on storm
recovery, as well as that Governor Christie fleece jacket he seems to like
wearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

SETH MEYERS, ACTOR: How is cleanup going?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, so far so good, Seth, but
this isn`t a job that`s going to be done in a couple of days. Fortunately,
New Jerseyans are known for their patience.

MEYERS: They are?

CHRISTIE: Yes, they are.

MEYERS: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: How many times do I have to say it to you?

MEYERS: You only said it once. I feel like we`re getting off on the
wrong foot.

CHRISTIE: Not at all, Seth. I mean, trust me, this is a totally
normal foot for me to get off on with people. I was worried I was going to
come out here and get angry with you, but this is nice.

MEYERS: Well, good. I also think this is nice.

CHRISTIE: Oh, my God, what is this? A first date.

MEYERS: All right. I`m sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: You have been wearing that fleece a lot.

CHRISTIE: Oh, yes. It`s basically fused to my skin at this point.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: But I have seen you wearing suits.

CHRISTIE: Oh, yes, I wear them over the fleece. I`m going to die in
this fleece.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: But that`s OK. It`s a good fleece.

MEYERS: It is a good fleece.

CHRISTIE: Stop saying things I have already said.

MEYERS: All right, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: More from the late-night scene. I was on "The Tonight
Show" on Friday to do some post-election analysis. I talked to Jay Leno
about my personal highlight of every election night. It might surprise
you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

MATTHEWS: My favorite part of election night is the concession
speeches.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Yes?

MATTHEWS: I just love it when they come out, because the newscaster
can make a statement . Everybody has their opinion, but when the loser
comes out and just walks out, I love the way -- I think it was the best
thing he ever did in his life, Romney.

LENO: Yes. I thought he was very gracious.

MATTHEWS: He walked out to the very edge, what you call -- out to the
lip of the stage, all by himself, not with his wife or kids, all by himself
and he said, I was just on the phone with the president. I congratulated
him. I`m going to pray for him. I had the best running mate I could have,
I had the best team around me.

No complaints, no dodging the ball. It`s like Sinatra would say,
class, you know, just class.

LENO: Yes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, if only Romney had stopped there, instead of spoiling
that classy moment by talking about gifts that Obama gave to voters as a
way to get reelected.

Next: On the surface, it sounds like a non-story. A successful
Nevada businessman, a real job creator, a guy who employs dozens of people,
gets elected county commissioner. Well, here`s the kicker. Republican
Lance Gilman, the newly elected county commissioner of Nevada`s Storey
County, happens to be the owner of Mustang Ranch. That`s right, the famous
or infamous brothel out there.

By the way, Nevada, just to cover things up, or clear things, is the
only state with legalized prostitution. And Gilman just became the first
such owner to make his way to winning an election to public office.
According to the county commissioner-elect himself -- quote -- "People want
to focus on the brothel issue. I have had a wonderful 43-year -- 43-year
record of business success that I bring to the commission."

Well, it is kind of a hard issue to ignore. Gilman by the way calls
himself a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who loves American values.

Finally, last week, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said on "Meet
the Press" that a lot of swing voters think about the Republican Party as
one of loons and wackos. This is a Republican talking. Well, Mike Murphy,
another Republican strategist, just weighed in on "Meet the Press." Here
he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY")

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN MEDIA STRATEGIST: This is an existential
crisis for the Republican Party, and we have to have a brutal discussion
about it.

We alienate young voters because of gay marriage. We have a policy
problem. We alienate Hispanics, the fastest growing voter group in the
country, because of our fetish on so-called amnesty, when we would be for a
path to immigration. And we have lost our connection to middle-class
economics. We also have an operative class, unfortunately, a lot of which
isn`t competent.

And we have got to kind of get a party view of America that`s not
right out of Rush Limbaugh`s dream journal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Whoa. Well said. Up until election night, by the way,
these experts were predicting a Romney victory. They should go down with
the ship, the Titanic, in fact, instead of putting on dresses so they can
get in the lifeboats. How did that sound?

Up next: replacing Hillary Clinton. President Obama`s choice may come
down to John Kerry or Susan Rice. Will the president go with the 2004
Democratic presidential candidate or his apparent favorite?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANDA DRURY, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Amanda Drury with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Well, the Dow gained 207 points today, the S&P up by 27 and the Nasdaq
rising 63. One of the stocks getting a real big boost today is Apple. It
jumped 38 bucks today, but it`s still off 20 percent from its late
September high. Cisco, meantime, up nearly 2 percent after saying its
buying a privately-held clout computing -- cloud networking firm for $1.2
billion. As for the economy, existing home sales rose 2.1 percent last
month. Prices were up about 11 percent.

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

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

According to some reports, the president could name a successor to
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as early as next week. I think it could
come this week. It`s a decision that is fraught with risk. "The New York
Times" reported yesterday that the White House aides say the president`s
favored candidate is Susan Rice, the current ambassador to the U.N.

But Republicans like Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham have
threatened to filibuster her nomination, and -- thanks to her appearances
on TV following the Benghazi attacks. That seems to have bugged them.
Would the president risk starting off his second term with a decision that
will likely lead to a bitter confrontation fight? Or will he choose
someone with a better chance of getting confirmed, someone like Senator
John Kerry?

Richard Wolffe is a vice president and executive editor of MSNBC.com.
He`s also an MSNBC political analyst. And Jay Newton-Small is a diplomatic
correspondent for "TIME."

Thank you both.

Richard, I want to get your sense of the president`s thinking here.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Now, his -- I think the most successful thing he ever did
in terms of policy or personnel was naming Hillary Clinton, the senator
from New York and former first lady, to be his secretary of state, because
he established a second principal out there besides himself in foreign
policy.

So, he could let her lead the way as his partner, a fellow Cabinet
member in a sense, a minister, a foreign minister. She was not a staffer,
she had her own lineage and her own stature apart from him and always will.
That`s my preference in Cabinet appointments. Don`t put staff people into
Cabinet positions. You need that creative tension, and second terms die
when the president gets too comfortable with the people around him because
he`s promoted them from within.

That`s -- I looked at all the recent presidents and they have screwed
up that way. So, you know my prejudice. And I hope it doesn`t get in the
way with my feelings towards these candidates. But what do you think is
going on in the president`s head right now, based upon the influences of
Mrs. Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, and other people in the White House?

WOLFFE: Well, Susan Rice has been a preferred candidate for a long
time.

And Susan Rice has -- I take where your question is going, but she`s
had a foot in both worlds as a trusted member of that inner circle who was
there very early on in terms of the Obama campaign.

But she`s also proved herself on this world stage which is what the
U.N. job really is. When you think about the sanctions against Iran, she`s
been pushing ahead with that. When you think about the air war in terms of
the support for the rebels in Libya, which apparently people like John
McCain do say they care about, she was instrumental in that.

And then even the harder piece of diplomacy, bridging the gap between
the Obama world and the Clinton world because she has worked very well with
Hillary Clinton. Susan Rice has the whole package there. So, to kind of
suggest she`s a staff person really doesn`t get to her credentials for this
job.

MATTHEWS: OK. I think she did one other thing besides that, adding
to her credentials, which is that very finesseful way in which she handled
the push by the Palestinians for statehood. That abrupt move they were
going to do.

WOLFFE: Good point.

MATTHEWS: Somehow she pushed back very successfully on that. So
what`s your sense though? You`re a political reader like I am, Richard.
Who is he going to pick if you had to bet right now?

WOLFFE: I think it`s Susan Rice.

MATTHEWS: OK.

WOLFFE: I mean, there is the question about John Kerry, but I think
now that John McCain has sunk his teeth in, he`s made it about presidential
authority, and, frankly, it`s outrageous that there is this witch hunt
going on on the right about these people of color, let`s face it, around
this president. Eric Holder, Valerie Jarrett, now Susan Rice. Before, it
was Van Jones.

This is not about who is hawkish in the same way John McCain is about
foreign policy because if you look at Iran and Libya, Susan Rice checks
those boxes. This is a personal vendetta --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So you think McCain is being -- McCain and people like
Lindsey Graham, McCain, who had his own daughter attacked, was accused of
having an illegitimate child when he adopted a young girl from South Asia,
you`re saying that McCain`s being driven by racial prejudice here?

WOLFFE: There is no other way to look at this because look at her
foreign policy -- and, by the way, look at what John McCain said about
Condi Rice`s nomination. We`re running this story on the front page of the
MSNBC Web site right now. Back then four years -- eight years ago, John
McCain said the people -- the Democrats who were questioning Condi Rice`s
credentials, they were just engaged with bitterness, they needed to move
on.

Why has he changed his tune? What is it about Susan Rice? And the
answer is, there aren`t any good foreign policy explanations for it.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jay on this question. Jay, what do you read
as the issues here for the president and his personal decision? It`s a
huge decision he`s going to have to make in the space of a week now it
looks like.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: It`s a huge decision. Look,
whomever he nominates is going to be number four in line for the Oval
Office in case anything happens to the president or the vice president or
the speaker.

And that said, you want somebody with gravitas, somebody who is
tested and you want someone who, you know, can -- you feel comfortable with
in trusting not only the nation but your foreign policy but potentially the
nation as well.

And so, in that sense, you know, Hillary Clinton certainly fit the
bill for the job and they`re hoping that Susan Rice would fit the bill for
the job. But keep in mind that these five interviews she did on the
morning shows were essentially a tryout for her. And, you know, she was
trying to prove herself to the president.

And in that sense as you were saying earlier, as you were saying
earlier, she sort of stuck to the talking points. And she -- I know it`s
unfair to get pilloried for sticking to the talking points, but do you want
someone who will think for themselves and question talking points, or do
you want someone -- she was trying to show that she would be a good
soldier, she would do what you wanted her to do, and she did that and that
got her into a lot of trouble.

And if she thought perhaps a little more independently, questioned
the talking points, read the intelligence herself, then she maybe she might
have answered these questions differently or spoken differently on the
shows.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

So, Richard, you disagree with that assessment. You say she would be
an autonomous member of the cabinet, that she would, in fact, be a separate
principal with her own stature, would not be basically someone who would do
something that Tom Donnelly would send over the notes and she would do it.
You don`t see her as that kind of appendage.

WOLFFE: Let`s just look at Benghazi itself, OK? If she was someone
who just followed everyone else`s orders, she would not have been one of
the leading voices, along with Hillary Clinton, to support the rebels in
Benghazi and protect the civilians there. John McCain knows that full
well. Senator McCain knows full well there was CIA engagement not just
with these talking points but with the actual operation around the
ambassador in Benghazi.

Everyone knows what the real story is behind here in terms of the
operation, in terms of Susan Rice`s independence. And if you want to take
a Sunday show talking points performance as the measure of a secretary of
state, you`re on very thin ground in terms of how anyone for any position
could get nominated in the future.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me follow this thinking here. Who is going to
take the bullet for what looked to be the failure to protect Chris Stevens?
Who is going to take the bullet for what looks to be a misrepresentation in
real time as to what happened? Who is going to pay the price? Richard?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, certainly --

MATTHEWS: First of all, Jay, go first.

NEWTON-SMALL: I think, I mean, certainly, Republicans want it to be
Susan Rice. They`re essentially calling for her scalp. And you had White
House press secretary Jay Carney out there at the same time going even
farther than Rice was and talking about how this was all just due to a
protest and not really -- not having much to do with terrorism. And
they`re not calling for his scalp because -- I mean, he is essentially a
spin doctor and it`s not the scalp they want. They want somebody who`s in
policy and they want somebody who will draw blood from the Obama
administration and that is Susan Rice.

MATTHEWS: Well, that sounds like Richard. OK. Thank you, Richard
Wolffe.

Thank you, Jay Newton-Small.

You agree on that point. They want a scalp.

Up next, how close is the Middle East to an all-out regional war? Is
Israel headed for a war with Iran? I see a possible precursor to a war
with Iran because of the big support it`s playing in arming the Hamas
movement in Gaza.

The latest on the fight between Israel and Hamas coming up next.
This is interesting and scary.

The place for politics. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: I`m up in Philadelphia today, signing copies of "Jack
Kennedy: Elusive Hero" for people at the Barnes & Noble and elegant
Rittenhouse Square. What a great neighborhood to sell books.

Anyway, the book is just out in paperback in time for Black Friday,
the day after Thanksgiving, a great time get stocking stuffers for
Christmas and the holidays. It`s a great story, by the way, I have written
about a hero who became a heroic beloved president. We can always use good
examples and he showed it.

So, go out and get a copy for our fellow HARDBALLer, if you will.
Christmas shopping starts with a great biography filled with stuff about
Kennedy you`ve never read before. I can tell that you.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

For the sixth straight day, Israel pounded targets in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians say the death toll has reached 100, including 53 civilians.
Well, Palestinians responded with a barrage of more than 1,000 missiles
into Israel, which have killed three civilians.

Egypt is trying to negotiate a peace deal between the two sides, and
avoid some fear could be a ground invasion of Gaza.

Where do things stand? And why is this happening now? Does it have
anything to do with the potential strike on Iran and its nuclear sites, as
some have suggested?

Richard Engel is NBC News chief foreign correspondent and he joins us
now from Gaza.

Richard, I want you to listen to this conversation which happened
yesterday. It was "Washington Post" columnist David Ignatius, who`s very
good in the intel community, and also talking to blogger Tom Ricks about
whether or not a potential strike on Iran has anything to do with the
fighting going on right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: Some people think that what this is
about is in preparation for a likely war with Iran, Israel testing the
rockets that would be fired against it from Gaza, next from Lebanon, so
that we may see something with Lebanon soon because it`s a preliminary.
This is kind of a warm-up round for the real conflagration that`s ahead
that involves Iran.

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Do you really think there`s a chance that
Israel would strike Iran and try to take out those nuclear --

TOM RICKS, BLOGGER: Yes, especially given the timing of the Gaza
thing. If they waited until after the American elections are over and now
they`re getting down to business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I guess that`s the question that call for some
speculation, but is it possible that Netanyahu and his cabinet and the
Knesset have decided the best way to deal with Iran is to get involved in a
heated -- a hot war and then -- obviously, Iran`s arming the enemy, arming
Hamas, and going for the source of the problem and bombing them as part of
a hot war situation?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It does
obviously require some speculation, but it also requires some analysis, and
I think it makes a lot of sense. If you look at this, Israel really picked
the timing. Israel could have gone into a war with Hamas almost at any
time and found its rocket launches as a pretext.

But it chose to do -- it chose to do it now. Israel has been testing
its Iron Dome defense systems, which would certainly come into play if
there was a war with Iran. It`s been testing the new Middle East --
testing Egypt`s stance, forging new relations with Mohamed Morsi, seeing
how the Arab world is post the Arab spring. It`s been testing Hezbollah.

It`s also been testing President Obama, who interestingly immediately
threw his lot in with Israel.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ENGEL: The president didn`t say, we want to call for cessation of
hostilities, we want to call for calm. He immediately said we agree with
Israel`s right to defend itself.

Israel`s real enemy is Iran. If you remember Netanyahu was at the
U.N. holding up his bomb chart. He wasn`t talking about Hamas. He was
talking about Iran. That is Israel`s overriding threat.

They have been able to deal with Hamas pretty handedly. I`ve seen
just yesterday Israeli warships able to take out a single Hamas militant
who was sitting in a chair by the waterfront. So one warship fired a
rocket, you could barely see the ship on the horizon and take out an
individual militant. Israel has been telephoning the houses of neighbors
of Hamas militants and telling them to get out of their houses. It has
their phone numbers.

So there is something suspicious about this. Israel has been able --
has too much intelligence on Hamas, has been able to deal with Hamas too
confidently, and you have to wonder -- is there really a different
objective?

MATTHEWS: Could it be better for Israel -- and I speak positively
about why they would do this, to get rid of those missile sites in Hamas,
in the Gaza before they attack Iran, therefore they can`t be used for
retaliation.

ENGEL: That`s certainly -- that`s an extra bonus. You get to defend
your own cities. You figure out how well the Iron Dome system works, which
has been an untested system, which has actually proven to be remarkably
effective, the most effective of its kind in the world. You set back
Hamas` capabilities. You test your own intelligence.

And you also test the Arab world. I think that was the great unknown
here.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ENGEL: How would Egypt react, how would the Sinai react? And so far
there has been degree of calm. And Morsi, although he`s been sympathetic
to Hamas, which is something the Israelis knew that he would be, has not
proven to be an irrational actor.

MATTHEWS: It would be good for Israel to catch Iran in the act of
arming its enemies. Therefore, they would be reacting to an aggressive
action by the Iranians, not initiating an act of war. It makes sense to
me. Good for Israel, but it has to do this.

Thank you, NBC`s Richard Engel over in Gaza. And we`ll be right
back.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

I spent Sunday watching the Philadelphia marathon. Let me tell you,
if you haven`t witnessed one of these spectacles, you`re missing something
great about this country. First of all, talk act getting engaged -- 28,000
people ran the race to the Old City passed Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive.
They range from winner who runs 13 miles an hour to the gutsy amateurs who
simply manage to run for 26.2 miles.

But just as impressive were the people along the sidelines cheering
them on, cheering on complete strangers, yelling out their names. You
could read the names by the way on their bibs, cheering because they want
to help them keep on running. There were bands along the route, all kinds
of people. The runners would yell out, thanking people for just showing up
to encourage them.

It`s another view of my city. We`re known, of course, for being
tough fans when it comes to professional sports -- I can tell you stories -
- who in one notorious day, even threw snowballs at Santa Claus. But the
people of Philly and those who came from around the country Sunday were
doing something magnificent yesterday, showing we`re in this thing
together, we`re not afraid to yell our selves silly for people who simply
have the guts to get out there and run.

OK, I`ll admit it -- I was thrilled by the whole thing but especially
by our daughter Caroline going the distance and finishing well up there in
the pack. It was a great day for Philly and the country. It was wow.

Anyway, 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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