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updated 11/29/2012 11:09:56 AM ET 2012-11-29T16:09:56

HARDBALL
November 28, 2012

Guests: Susan Collins, Tom Davis, Tom Cole, Barbara Boxer, Doris Kearns Goodwin

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The frying of Susan Rice.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this war in Washington. Say what you will
about the election we just had, this one`s hotter, nastier, more personal.

One side says it`s about character, about whether a close confederate of
the president told the truth, the whole truth as she knew it when she went
on national television and said the death of a U.S. ambassador was a
spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video some trouble-making clown made
out in California, ignoring, John McCain and his allies arguing -- argue,
evidence it was an organized act of terrorism.

Not so, says the president. His U.N. ambassador and close friend simply
told the truth as she was permitted to tell it, what the CIA gave her to
say and no more.

For that, he charges, Susan Rice is being -- in the words of "The New York
Post," being fried. While political fight fans and the tabloids relish
this extreme combat, what should be a good person`s judgment? And that`s
my question tonight.

Is Susan Rice now a surrogate for the president, someone to take the
punishment when others above her pay grade should be answering the
questions? Or is she accountable for going on national television knowing
she can`t tell the whole truth because it`s classified?

Let`s begin with Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. I guess it`s
the toughest question in the world, Senator, and that is, do you believe
that Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, knowingly covered up a breach of
national security?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Well, let me say this, Chris. Our purpose
is to understand the security failure in Benghazi, what the administration
told the American public about it and how we can learn lessons to keep our
personnel safer in the future. So that`s my interest and goal in this
situation.

I think (INAUDIBLE) and indeed, Ambassador Rice herself has admitted that
the information that she gave out on those Sunday shows was not accurate in
several crucial aspects. She says she relied on information that was given
to her, but it`s obvious that she chose to emphasize some aspects and
downplay others.

And frankly, I think the U.N. ambassador, along with the secretary of
state, should be above politics and that she should have just said, No, I`m
not going to go on those shows. It`s the wrong issue and the wrong time of
year. I`ve got to maintain my credibility.

MATTHEWS: Do you know or believe that she was given classified materials
which conflicted with what she said on "MEET THE PRESS" and those other
shows?

COLLINS: The classified materials are different from the unclassified, but
they`re not different when it comes to a discussion of many of the major
elements.

What bothers me a great deal is the president of Libya himself was saying
this was a terrorist attack, that they had arrested 50 people and that
there had been al Qaeda influenced individuals from other countries that
had come in and that it was premeditated and planned.

And I just don`t understand why the administration would have Susan Rice go
on television and say that the views, essentially, of the president of
Libya just didn`t matter. She completely discounted them. That doesn`t
make sense to me.

MATTHEWS: Well, what would be the -- you said -- you suggested she was
behaving politically. Fair enough, if that`s the case. What would be the
political purpose in denying the role of terrorism in this act, the central
role of terrorism, organized terrorism, in the death of Ambassador Stevens?
What would be her purpose politically in that?

COLLINS: I believe that the administration wanted to portray Libya as an
unqualified success story. And Ambassador Rice was one of the chief
advocates of our involvement in Libya, so arguably had a personal stake in
that, as well.

I think that it was contrary to the narrative of the administration to say
that Libya was awash with weapons, that there was a growing al Qaeda
presence, that there were training camps for Islamic extremists,
particularly near Benghazi, and that there had been 274 security incidents
in just the past 13 months, five of which were -- I mean, one out of five
were in Benghazi, including an attempt on the life of the British
ambassador that caused the British to withdraw their consulate from
Benghazi.

So I think it was contrary to the success story the administration wanted
to portray when it comes to Libya.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the facts, as you know them now. Was there a
role played by that video, that anti-Islamic video made in California, in
this horror story? Did it play a role?

COLLINS: It may have inspired some of the people who later entered the
compound, but I have not seen evidence that it was the cause of the violent
attack on our personnel in Benghazi that cost four Americans their lives.
And certainly, Ambassador Rice`s statement on ABC News when she said it was
the direct result of the video was not accurate. And today she told me
that she did not intend to say what she said on ABC.

MATTHEWS: I want you to listen to something. This was in "The New York
Times" -- it was in today -- about what we know now of the attacks in
Benghazi. This is "The New York Times," and straight reporting.

"On-the-ground accounts indicate that Ms. Rice`s description of the attack,
though wrong in some respects, was accurate in others. Witnesses to the
assault said it was carried out by members of Ansar al Sharia, the militant
group, without any warning or protest in retaliation for an American-made
video mocking the Prophet Mohammed."

Is that the truth, as you know it?

COLLINS: It`s partially the truth. When you look at what happened -- and
I`ve reviewed tapes, I`ve reviewed classified materials, I`ve sat through
hours of briefings -- there were some people who no doubt came onto the
compound not only to loot it but because they were angry about the video.
But that is not the primary cause of the assault on the compound.

MATTHEWS: OK.

COLLINS: If you look at what happened, there was clearly no protest, and
the administration concedes that now. There was no protests that preceded
the assault on the compound. And the fact is that that was known prior to
September 16th, when Ambassador Rice went on those shows.

There was conflicting information. I will totally, readily concede that.
But there was reporting and information that said that there wasn`t any
protest, including interviews with people who had been there on the ground.

So for Ambassador Rice or any other administration official to maintain
with such certitude that there was no -- that there was a protest and that
the assault was primarily linked to the video just does not hold up.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much for coming on HARDBALL, Senator Susan
Collins. Thank you so much. Of Maine.

Now joining us is...

COLLINS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: ... David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and
author of the e-book "47 Percent."

David to capsulize, the senator has just said, and I think rather clearly,
that her complaint or concern about the ambassador`s position on the Sunday
shows in the days after the attack on our facility in Benghazi is not that
she was constrained by not being able to use classified material, but that
she took the material she was given, shaped it politically, and used it to
protect the president`s narrative that winning in Libya was a clean win,
that there was no complication of an emerging al Qaeda-related organization
there.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I`ll...

MATTHEWS: Is that straight? Make sense to you?

CORN: I think you sum it up right. I will give her credit for admitting
what a lot of people on the right haven`t, that it was a confusing
situation. "The New York Times," AP have reported from the ground that
while the people who launched the attack seemed to come in not as a
protest, but as they came in, they rounded up people and they told people,
while they were mounting the attack, that they were mad about the film.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: So it might have been premeditated, but they were using the film,
which was in the news that day...

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) you`re great at this but let`s get to the heart of
the argument. What they don`t like on the Republican side is any
suggestion we`ve put al Qaeda to death, period. They look -- they think
that`s a PR statement, not a...

CORN: The other thing...

MATTHEWS: No, let`s stick to that.

CORN: No, no, I`ll stick to that.

MATTHEWS: They are very angry because they think it`s presidential
politics, it`s not truth-telling.

CORN: And they`re doing, though, is they`re attributing more al Qaeda-ness
to this attack and this group. This was a militia that was well
established in Benghazi, that had been working with the government there to
do security.

MATTHEWS: I know.

CORN: It wasn`t an al Qaeda -- al Qaeda offshoot.

MATTHEWS: Well, they were armed with RPGs and all, and they came and
attacked our facility there. They were terrorists.

CORN: And I think...

MATTHEWS: Well, they were terrorists that day.

CORN: They were terrorists that day, but there are a lot of terrorists
that aren`t al Qaeda. But when she said at the beginning that the key
thing here is to the security failure in Benghazi, she`s correct. And
that`s not Susan Rice`s responsibility. That`s the State Department...

MATTHEWS: I know. They`re going...

CORN: And they`re going...

MATTHEWS: Susan Rice is being asked to defend all kinds of stuff that is
really the responsibility of the State Department and the CIA to explain
right now.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: It was mainly a CIA operation.

Anyway, this afternoon, in a cabinet meeting, President Obama answered a
question from a reporter about the heat that -- I was calling it the "fried
Rice" because that`s exactly what the headline was in "The New York Post"
today, that frying of Rice is getting from Republicans on the Hill.

But take a look at the president`s way of handling this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you think the Hill is being fair to Susan Rice
in these meetings?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much, guys.

QUESTION: Any thoughts on that at all?

OBAMA: Susan Rice is extraordinary. Couldn`t be prouder of the job that
she`s done at (INAUDIBLE)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you saw Hillary Clinton leading the applause. But
really, you know, to be fair about it, the officer in charge was the State
Department and the CIA. And you`re going to take the U.N. Ambassador, haul
her before all these people these last couple of days as if she`s the
expert on Benghazi.

CORN: The big thing is not what she said on a talk show. It`s what
actually happened and what should be done after it. And if you look at the
talking points, the unclassified talking points, she didn`t really sit
there and weigh and decide what to say. She kind of did what many people
in Washington, including senators, often do, stuck to the unclassified
talking points...

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: ... and didn`t go into the other stuff.

MATTHEWS: They believe that she shifted -- she -- well, just to get her
testimony we just got here from Susan Rice -- I mean, from Susan Collins,
she believes the ambassador to the U.N. went on television on Sunday, not
on a talk show, but on "MEET THE PRESS," which is about establishing hard
news...

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... on Sunday, it`s a very -- you know the cycle...

CORN: We all know.

MATTHEWS: No, the -- the government puts its officials on to make official
statements.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And her official statement, she said, was shaded in a political
direction, and her argument was she shouldn`t have been doing that.

CORN: But she`s attributing that to Susan Rice, when the information was
coming from the CIA...

MATTHEWS: Right.

CORN: ... and others in the administration.

MATTHEWS: She`s treating her like a principal.

CORN: Yes. Well...

MATTHEWS: OK, fair enough.

CORN: ... she wasn`t.

MATTHEWS: Well, she wants to be a principal, apparently. Anyway, thank
you, David Corn.

CORN: Sure thing.

MATTHEWS: Coming up: What`s wrong with this picture? This is what the new
Republican chairmen in the House look like. Well, they have a certain
pattern in common -- gender, race, all white, all male. What`s going on
here in a party that`s supposed to be learning how to appeal to women and
minorities? Not much action there on that front, and they`re the ones
making the decisions in Congress. Didn`t the Republicans learn anything
from the election?

Plus, are we seeing the first signs of Republicans giving ground on the
fiscal cliff? Well, Oklahoma`s Tom Cole, a member of Congress, says the
Grand Old Party should take President Obama`s deal, extend the Bush tax
cuts for all but the top 2 percent. And that`s a sign that some
Republicans may be open to higher rates for the rich.

And is it possible negotiators could learn something from the most
important movie that`s out there right now, "Lincoln"? The great Doris
Kearns Goodwin joins us tonight. She wrote the book.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with how Lincoln outlawed slavery for good
and how he did it using politics.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: How`s this for irony? I have (ph) to call it irony. Mitt
Romney has finally captured 47 percent of America. Remember this video
that sunk the Romney campaign?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent
of the people who will vote for the president, no matter what, all right?
There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government,
who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a
responsibility to care for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as ballots were counted across the country, "The Cook
Report" points out that Romney`s share of the popular vote of this country
has fallen to, you guessed it, 47.4 percent, and is expected to fall
further and settle -- settle at about the 47 mark exactly.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Following an election in which
Republicans overwhelmingly lost African-Americans, Latinos and women
generally, you`d think a picture like this -- look at it! -- would be
something Republicans would want to try to avoid. Yet these are the faces
of the House committee chairmen -- men -- selected by the Republican Party.
I guess there`s a little diversity there -- white men with brown hair,
white men with blond hair, one white -- old white guy, young white guy.
But there`s really not a whole lot of diversity as we know it.

Do the Republican Party people in charge of the House, for example -- did
they learn anything from the 2012 election results, not the big promotion
that came before it?

Look who`s laughing. Joan Walsh is editor-at-large at Salon and is an
MSNBC great contributor. Her new book is "What`s the Matter With White
People?" That`s pretty appropriate for tonight`s discussion. And Tom
Davis is a really good guy. He`s what we used to call a moderate
Republican, probably a principled Republican, former congressman from
Virginia. But he`s like the kind of people I grew up with in Pennsylvania
who were Republicans, like Bill Scrand (ph) and people like that, and the
first Schweiker (ph) and -- anyway -- Tom Ridge.

My question to you, Joan, looking at that survey picture we put together
(INAUDIBLE) graphic there. We should look at it again -- all those dozens
of committee chairs -- you can actually call them chairmen in that case.
You don`t have to get confused whether they`re "chairs" or not. They`re
all chairmen.

What`s wrong with the Republican Party? There they are. In fact, their
top three leaders, speaker, majority leader, majority whip, all men, white
guys. I guess that`s to be assumed in some cases. But in this Republican
case, I must say, what is going on here?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s almost like they`re
defiant, Chris, like they`re saying, you know, We`re not going to listen to
the election results. We`re not going to change a darn thing we`re doing.
We think we`re doing just fine. And we got here. This is the club. This
is the way we want it, and this is the way we`re going to keep it.

I mean, where were the women -- where are the women that they were pushing
out during the "war on women" debate, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, women who
worked for them, and defended them and defended their terrible -- in my
opinion, terrible policies? Where -- where are these people now?

And I also want to flip something around and point out that the House
Democratic caucus leadership is incredibly diverse. And it`s that diverse
leadership that`s going to be defending the benefits of white seniors, most
of whom voted for Mitt Romney.

So there are so many ironies here. But it`s the Democratic Party, the face
of America right now.

MATTHEWS: So you`re saying the last vestige of support for keeping all the
entitlements which help the older people are the young, healthy...

WALSH: Healthy, diverse...

MATTHEWS: ... black, people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... members of Congress...

WALSH: ... women -- yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s ironic. Yes. Well, that`s, ironically, what our
future`s going to look like in terms of worker bees...

TOM DAVIS (R), FMR. VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... and retiree bees...

WALSH: God bless them.

MATTHEWS: ... like in California, we`re already seeing that.

WALSH: God bless them.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DAVIS: And sending the bill on to...

MATTHEWS: By the way, you`re playing defense...

DAVIS: ... browner and younger people...

MATTHEWS: ... here. No, Mr. Davis, don`t be joining us...

DAVIS: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... as a commentator!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You`re playing defense here tonight. What is the story about
your party? You were in that caucus. Do they see it -- like, I -- I get
increasingly aware -- as you watch this show develop over the last, what,
18 years in different forms, I get increasingly aware that there`s all
white people at the table, if it ever happens. And on the Sunday show, the
same way. You get this sense that there`s something wrong with this
picture.

Do Republicans have that sensitivity? Television`s wonderful that way.

DAVIS: They do. She mentioned Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She`s now the
number four person in the leadership.

MATTHEWS: What do they do?

DAVIS: Chairman of the conference. She`s chairman...

MATTHEWS: What do they do?

DAVIS: ... of the conference.

They hold conferences every week.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DAVIS: They run the retreats.

MATTHEWS: They run the retreats?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: John Boehner was...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re getting in deeper and deeper.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: No. No. They run the caucus meetings every week. She runs the
caucus, decides what speakers come in, sets the agenda.

Vice chairman of the caucus, Lynn Jenkins, a Republican woman from Kansas,
secretary of the caucus, Virginia Foxx.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What`s a more important position, chairman and vice chairman of
the caucus or speaker of the House?

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Or committee chair.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Any of the committees.

DAVIS: Caucus chairman trumps the committee chairmanship.

I have been both. I have been in the leadership and I have been a
committee chair. Look, you only really had one woman in contention for a
committee chairmanship. And that was Homeland Security with Candice
Miller. And I have been through these things.

They`re knife fights inside. But McMorris Rodgers beat a very able man,
Tom Price, for the leadership. So, when the caucus was allowed to speak,
they elected -- they selected the woman. Unfortunately, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A lot of the reason is more women are voting Democrat now.

But, look, a Bloomberg article points out uncomfortable optics the very
white Republican House is going to present. Quote: "The visuals will be
striking when the House debates whether to overhaul the country`s tax code
and considers ways to keep the costs in Social Security and Medicare under
control. The white males of the Republican Party will be arguing to reduce
benefits, while the women and minorities of the Democratic Party will make
a case for keeping the nation`s safety net where it is."

Of course, you know the great irony is that women, who may not have the
same political power as men, historically, all live longer than men. You
go to any old folks home, there`s usually one guy there.

DAVIS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he`s very popular.

DAVIS: Lucky guy, right.

MATTHEWS: His ears are enormous, by the way, but he`s all by himself
there. And all these women are there because they tend to live longer and
therefore they do have an interest in Social Security and Medicare more
than men do. It`s a fact.

WALSH: Well, and they`re also -- and we`re also poorer. At the end of our
lives, at the middle of our lives, we`re poorer as well. So we do rely on
those safety net programs and we need them.

And women have been much more -- going back to the Reagan election in 1980,
Chris, I think that`s when you saw the gender gap because the social safety
net was being threatened and women do vote. It`s not only or mainly
abortion, choice or contraception. It`s also economic issues.

So, those come in to play, too. So I think this is -- we have today
another data point, where Stuart Stevens in "The Washington Post," the top
Romney strategist, brags that Romney won the votes of people who make over
$50,000, as though people who make less than $50,000, A., don`t matter as
much and, B., didn`t make up, you know, a majority or don`t make up a
majority of the country.

There`s just a tin ear when it comes to issues of race and gender, but also
class, that I don`t think -- you know, we heard some good things in the
days after the election.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s the we/they thing. It`s the we/they thing.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Yes, it`s a we/they thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, Reagan used to do -- it`s we people are employed,
compared to those people aren`t employed.

Let me read you something from Matt Dowd.

DAVIS: OK.

MATTHEWS: He wrote this on November 7: "What`s happened with the
Republicans is that they are" -- what`s happened -- oh, here it is. Let`s
watch. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: What`s happened with the
Republicans is they are -- the Republican Party is a "Mad Men" party in a
"Modern Family" America and it just doesn`t fit anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: A "Mad Men" party, early `60s, in a "Modern Family" environment.

DAVIS: Well, basically, they`re bringing analog tools to digital
campaigns. Voter turnout has changed dramatically, as the underclass,
minorities are starting to vote at this point. And it`s changed the whole
electorate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Look at your state, Tom. I know your state not as well as you,
Northern Virginia.

DAVIS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Northern Virginia has a lot of single women. They come to work
in Washington. Some of them get married, some don`t. They stay there.
They work all their lives in Washington, but they live right across the
river. They vote Democrat generally, right?

DAVIS: Yes, particularly those who orient toward the city.

MATTHEWS: And what`s that about? And how are you ever going to get them
back?

DAVIS: Well, single women across the country have been voting more and
more Democratic.

Married women tend to vote Republicans. Look, I think you get them back
with policies. You get it back -- optics are important, not just on
committee chairmen, but leadership. Republicans understand that. But it`s
a long slog. There`s no silver bullet for us.

MATTHEWS: Should have ran Condoleezza Rice years ago, Ed Rollins said, in
California. The senator from California could have been Condi Rice.

WALSH: Can I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes, Joan, of course.

WALSH: I just want to say -- Mr. Davis, I just want to give you free
advice. I don`t think you should refer to the underclass. That`s a really
dated word. And that`s not who we`re talking about here. You know, we`re
talking about a lot of working people, working...

DAVIS: Economically -- economically, they have less. I will use a more
politically correct term. Nothing -- no offense meant, obviously.

WALSH: Well, it`s just a more accurate term. You know, when we talk about
people who make less than $50,000, a lot of those -- those are middle class
people, too. And some of them are working poor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know.

DAVIS: That`s not where the voter turnout came, if you know your voter
stats, though. It`s really the people who are making even less than that,
pulled out of the apartments, a lot of other groups that traditionally
haven`t voted. It`s not the middle class, really. It`s the lower middle
class folks who had not traditionally even participated who were being
registered and got to vote.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: You know what? That`s right. They didn`t used to participate.
And they participate more now. That`s a wonderful thing for our country.
They deserve to participate.

DAVIS: Yes, but that`s not the $50,000 class. That`s my point.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks, Tom.

WALSH: OK.

MATTHEWS: He`s a good guy. He`s a good guy.

WALSH: OK.

MATTHEWS: Susan, Susan -- I mean -- he`s a good guy, Joan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh. I`m just trying to help him out
a little bit here. He came on the show. He was nice enough to do that.

DAVIS: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: You are always going to be here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: It`s a home game for you.

We will be right back. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

It`s not the best of times for Grover Norquist, with Republicans starting
to kiss of his anti-tax pledge. Here`s Stephen Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Obama`s answer to this budget
crisis is to raise taxes on the wealthy, just because he ran on that
promise and won the election.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: It`s like he`s totally disregarding my dismissive finger quotes.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: What part of this don`t you understand, President Obama?

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Republicans might let him do it, even though every Republican in
Congress has signed the no taxes pledge, created by the president of
Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, the two most terrifying words a
Republican can hear, other than buenas dias.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it seems like Republicans are having an easier time
writing off Grover Norquist than dealing with their problem appealing to
Latinos.

Finally, which former GOP presidential candidate got a nod on the CBS show
"NCIS: Los Angeles" last night? One of the detectives on last night`s
episode gave us a throwback to a certain candidate`s tax plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Huh? Look at all those center mass hits. Nine, nine,
nine. I should change my name to Herman Cain.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes? I think it`s more like Pee-wee Herman. Read
them and weep.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know what? These targets are culturally biased.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Against what, surfers?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, 999, that is how many of us remember Herman Cain and
his brief stint as the Republican front-runner. I suppose it`s better than
666. Hmm.

Up next: Are we watching the start of a Republican retreat on the fiscal
cliff?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
"Market Wrap."

Optimism about resolving the fiscal cliff sends the Dow up 107 points. The
S&P rises 11 and the Nasdaq adds 24 points.

One big winner today, Green Mountain Coffee. Shares surged 27 percent
following its better-than-expected earnings report and upbeat future
guidance.

And investors also reacted to the Fed`s latest Beige Book summary of
regional conditions. It showed gains in consumer spending and home sales,
which helped boost the economy recently.

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

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma has signaled that Republicans should
accept President Obama`s tax offer, creating the first cracks in the GOP
opposition to a tax deal. Earlier today, the president made note of it.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m glad to see if you have
been reading the papers lately that more and more Republicans in Congress
seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach.

So, if both parties agree we shouldn`t raise taxes on middle-class
families, let`s begin our work with where we agree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Congressman, thank you for joining us tonight.

And give us your thinking about why it`s important -- I know, politically,
it makes sense to many people that the middle class, people making up to
$250,000 a year, get the tax cut continued, but that the people above are
basically decoupled from that much larger group of people.

REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, Chris, I don`t think taxes ought to go
up for anybody.

I think it`s bad economic policy. It will eventually cost us jobs and it
will eventually slow the economy. And that`s going to cost us revenue as
well. So, I don`t agree with the president on that point.

And, frankly, I think he needs to be a lot more specific about putting
spending cuts and entitlement reform on the table. Having said that,
though, if the president`s willing to accept 80 percent of the Bush tax
cuts for 98 percent of the American people and make them permanent, I think
that is a point we should agree on, do that, and then continue to fight for
the things that we believe in.

Simply because we accept that part of his offer doesn`t mean we have to
agree with the rest. But what I think a lot of people forget is, look,
these tax rates are going up automatically unless Congress acts. I favor
acting to save as many of them as possible.

MATTHEWS: Makes sense.

Here`s today. The speaker of the House, John Boehner, signaled you out for
your remarks on the compromise. Let`s listen to what he said about you,
sir.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I told Tom earlier in our
conference meeting that I disagreed with him. You`re not going to grow the
economy if you raise tax rates on the top -- on the top two rates. It will
hurt small businesses. It will hurt our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re still arguing past each other there. With all
respect to the speaker, you just said to us you really want to get the tax
cuts ensured and maintained for people, most Americans, 98 percent of
Americans. It`s not so much you disagree about the top two, whereas the
speaker seems to be saying, don`t separate the two issues because
politically we will never be able to save the rich unless we couple them
with the regular people.

COLE: Hey, look, I think the speaker is in a tough negotiation. I fully
support him, what he`s trying to achieve, which is no rate increase, but
try and meet the president partway on revenue. I support that.

I suspect he will negotiate a good deal and at the end of the day, he will
come back and ask us to support him. I have helped him on every other
tough vote. And this one will be a tough one, and I will probably help him
again.

Having said that, again, Neil, this was a private discussion in a couple of
whip meetings. I was asked what I thought. I said what I thought. I
still believe that. But I respect the speaker.

Look, he`s a friend of mine. And we have a great relationship. He
certainly can speak honestly and openly to me. I value that. He`s always
given me the same privilege in return.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s this morning -- Grover Norquist, of course, the tax
guy, said Republicans should drag out tax negotiations as long as needed,
he put it, whatever that means. But let`s listen to Grover here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: They can give him
debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short
leash on a small, you know, here`s your allowance, come back next month if
you have behaved.

QUESTION: OK. OK. Wait. You`re proposing that the debt ceiling be
increased month by month?

NORQUIST: Monthly. Monthly. Monthly, if he`s good, weekly if he is not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The last time that Congress fought with the president over the
debt ceiling, it caused our bond rating to drop. Why would this guy Grover
Norquist want to have this happen on a monthly basis where we`re
jeopardizing our credit standing in the world every month? What sense is
that?

COLE: You know, I think what caused our bond rating to drop is simply the
fact we`re running unsustainable deficits and we`re not dealing with our
problem. And that`s exactly what the -- what the speaker is trying to get
at.

In terms of this issue, again, look, these are all people I like. These
are people I agree with philosophically. But I also want to do a good deal
for the American taxpayer, including 98 percent of them. If we can take
care of their issue, I think we will win the debate.

I think they agree with us fundamentally that increases in taxes on anybody
cost jobs. That`s not good. But as long as the sword of Damocles is over
their head that their taxes might go up, I don`t think they are -- really
have time to focus on that debate.

So, again, I just think we ought to take that off. We agree with the
president on that. But I respect the speaker. I support the speaker.

MATTHEWS: OK.

COLE: And we will get to a tough deal at the end of this process.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re watching how this develops.

Thanks so much for coming on HARDBALL, U.S. Congressman Tom Cole of
Oklahoma.

COLE: Chris, thank you.

MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is Democratic United States Senator from
California Barbara Boxer, who wrote in today`s Politico that Speaker
Boehner should look at Tip O`Neill`s speakership for guidance on navigating
the coming tax deadlines.

What -- we`re looking there at a picture, Senator, of Tip O`Neill and
Reagan on -- signing the bill...

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... on Social Security reform.

You spoke about an earlier issue in your piece today about how they got
together in `82, the year before.

BOXER: That`s right.

And that was the year I was elected, so I came into the House of
Representatives in 1983. But there was such a feeling of camaraderie,
because about half of the Democrats and half the Republicans came together.
And guess what the problem was? Raging deficits, not enough revenues and
we needed to cut some spending, too.

And we needed to make sure that people got their unemployment benefits.
Tip O`Neill realized that he was speaker of the House, not speaker of the
Democrats. And he had that magic. And the magic to him was 218 votes.

And that`s what I wish John Boehner would do, because if he took a page out
of Tip O`Neill`s book, we will be off this fiscal cliff. And I compliment
Congressman Cole for his courage in saying, you know, the president`s given
us 98 percent, essentially, of what we want. Let`s take it and we`ll argue
over the millionaires and the billionaires later.

MATTHEWS: You know, you`re probably one of the really key leading
progressives in the United States Senate. I`ve watched your heroic
campaigns every six years. I`m always in wander of your ability to stick
to your principles and yet keep winning big in the biggest state.

How is this going over, this view that you`re taking now, which we`re all
in this together to some extent? It`s got to be a 60/40, or something like
that, deal. How is that going over with your colleagues in the Senate?

BOXER: Honestly, I really think everybody on my side of the aisle -- I
haven`t talked to much to my colleagues, my Republican friends, because
they`re under a lot of pressure and I`m not going to put more pressure on
them.

But I think among the Democrats, Chris, what we understand is there`s two
things causing this fiscal cliff. Just two things: they`re very important
things.

One is the Bush tax cuts are expiring. We want to make sure they stay the
same for 98 percent of the people and just those over $250,000 will go back
to the Clinton rates. And we had the greatest prosperity under Bill
Clinton. And everybody knows that -- 23 million jobs, balanced budgets,
all the rest. It`s not going to hurt anything.

The second thing, the automatic spending cuts. So my view is we can climb
down that cliff by doing what the president says on taxes, bringing home
the money from the wars, and stopping those automatic cuts. We`re off the
cliff.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BOXER: And then we get together with goodwill, right in January with the
new Senate and the new House, and we hammer out the long-range solutions to
all this.

MATTHEWS: I want to you listen to something that your colleague, Patty
Murray, from Washington state said on Alex Wagner`s show "NOW", about this
fiscal cliff and her attitude towards it. I want to you react to it.

BOXER: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: It`s not a good idea to go over the
fiscal cliff. No one wants to see that happen. It is a bad idea.

But a worse idea is to accept a compromise that allows the wealthy
Americans to continue to not pay their fair share because the result of
that will be middle class families will bear the entire burden of the
challenges that this country faces. And that`s not fair or responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: How do we do it? How does this country manage to get a decently
fair deal in time to beat this cliff, avoid it?

BOXER: Tom Cole said it all. Take what the president has offered right
now. Make sure that 98 percent of the people aren`t affected by any tax
increases. That`s how we get it started.

And Patty is absolutely right. We`ve got all these problems facing us and
this is the way to do it. A bad deal would be saying to the millionaires
and billionaires, you know, you`re going to get a big tax break. That`s
what the elections was about.

We held an election. It isn`t as if this was a sidebar issue, Chris. This
was a main issue.

MATTHEWS: I know.

BOXER: So, we can fix this. We can stop the sequester right now. We can
make sure that 98 percent of the people don`t pay one penny more in their
taxes.

And we get off that fiscal cliff and we`re on to the New Year. And the
markets will be happy. And the people will smile.

And I think Tom Cole, again -- I mean, maybe I`m hurting him by saying
this, he had a lot of courage. And I hope that others will follow his
lead.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Senator Barbara Boxer of California. I do
believe the whole world is watching us. Not just our money markets.

BOXER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I think they`re watching us all over the world to see if we can
be grown-ups about this thing.

BOXER: No doubt.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much for coming on always.

BOXER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Up next, what did today`s negotiators learn from Abraham Lincoln
and his team of rivals? Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin comes here with a
little and a very apt history lesson which very much is in that wonderful
new movie by Stephen Spielberg, "Lincoln". She`s going to bring with us --
personally tell us about it.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Guess what we`re having for dinner -- actually, lunch?
President Obama has invited Mitt Romney for lunch at the White House
tomorrow. The one-time rivals will meet tomorrow for a private lunch. It
would be their first encounter -- I love that word -- since the final
debate of the presidential campaign.

In his re-election victory speech, the president said he wanted to sit down
with Romney to talk about ideas on how to move the country forward. I
guess they`re all going to lean forward tomorrow. Romney will also meet
with his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan when he`s in Washington
tomorrow.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll win the war, sir. It`s inevitable, isn`t it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, ain`t won yet.

You`ll begin your second term with divine stature. Imagine the
possibilities, peaceful and great. Why tarnish your invaluable luster with
a battle in the House? It`s a rat`s nest in there. The same gang of
talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the amendment 10 months ago. We`ll
lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like our chances now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. We`re back. That was a clip from the new Stephen
Spielberg movie "Lincoln". That`s based on Doris Kearns Goodwin`s epic
book, "Team of Rivals".

The president hosted the screening at the White House a few weeks ago, and
"Politico" reports today that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy rented out
a movie theater tonight to show the film to members of the House.

What`s the takeaway from President Lincoln`s story that is relevant today
in Washington?

Joining us is Doris Kearns Goodwin, who authored this great book.

Doris, once again, congratulations for greatness.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR, "TEAM OF RIVALS": Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I guess this show is always the place for politics. We to want
talk about that, not the battlefield of the Civil War, but the politics.

The movie really focuses on which the President Lincoln, you know, the last
weeks` of his life, just into his second term, or before his second term
commenced, after he had re-elected, in which he put all the marbles on the
table and said, I`m going to outlaw slavery forever.

Why, in short, did he do it and how did he get it done?

GOODWIN: Well, he did it because he had the strength of his conviction,
which is an important lesson in leadership, number one. He knew that if he
didn`t get the Thirteenth Amendment passed before the war ended, that it
might not ever get passed by that Congress because once peace came, the
Democrats would never be willing to vote for it.

And then he used compromise and every means possible to get it going. So I
think that`s the lesson. You need the leadership, with the strength of the
conviction to stay by your understandings of what`s important but then you
use politics, messy politics, to get it done and he did both.

MATTHEWS: Well, he used pork and he used patronage and persuasion. A lot
of people will probably hold back and say, well, that`s not politically
correct. We can`t do that, you can`t buy a member of Congress over the job
promise because this is about history you`re making here -- and you would
say?

GOODWIN: I would say that you do what you can to achieve a worthy end. I
mean, he appealed both to the better angels of some of the characters that
he had to get to vote for the amendment by appealing to their sense of
history and the war has to mean something and you want this to happen.
Just like LBJ appealed to Dirksen saying, you know, if you come with me on
the Civil Rights bill, ending the filibuster, you`ll be remembered for 200
years, only you and Lincoln will be remembered.

But on the other hand, he gave Dirksen every public works project, dam,
that was going to sink Illinois. And Lincoln did the same thing. He did
whatever he was needed, assignment, jobs. Remember, it`s the years before
Civil Service. So, it was easier to do some of this then.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the guy who stole the movie, as far as I`m
concerned, was a guy -- the same guy who stole the Oliver Stone movie,
"JFK", is Tommy Lee Jones. Tommy Lee Jones playing Thaddeus Stevens, my
hero of -- my only hero of all things, certainly one of my big heroes is
Thaddeus Stevens, the guy who really did believe in Emancipation, really
did believe in reconstruction, really did believe in 40 acres of the mule,
really did want to take the freed African-American and make him a full
citizen economically, not just under the law. What a great performance.

Tell me about that guy in movie, because we`ll talk about Lincoln forever
but Thaddeus Stevens, what a great -- his housekeeper was also his
mistress. I love that scene, by the way, when we discover that. It`s a
great performance, as well as everything else.

GOODWIN: Well, what`s so powerful about both Tommy Lee Jones and the
actual Thaddeus Stevens is that what Lincoln had to do was to persuade
someone, far more radical than he, more radical than the country at that
time, to temper his debate on the House floor, because if he said all of
the things that he really believed, that this amendment will open the way
for blacks voting, for blacks inter-marriage, then other people on the
conservative Republican side would have peeled away.

And you watched that face of his when he`s making that speech, when he`s
pulling back from his deepest convictions --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GOODWIN: -- because he knows he has to do this to get the compromise done.

So, you need the compromise on both the conservative and radical side to
reach that middle level.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the way it worked together. We all knew
that the Emancipation Proclamation was a military tool. It was basically
to deplete the power of the South because it basically said to the slaves,
make your move. You can get out now and you`re free because of war rules -
- the power of the military, the power of the president.

Why was it all important -- was it at all related to the war itself that he
would get permanent Emancipation to the Thirteenth Amendment? Was it
related at all to the war?

GOODWIN: Well, no. What he worried about was once the war came to an end,
then the military necessity that legitimated the Emancipation Proclamation
would no longer be there and he worried that courts might decide that he
didn`t have the power to do it.

But the critical thing he had to face was that meant that the war had to
keep going in order to get the Emancipation Proclamation passed and
extended the war in a certain sense by letting the peace talks go along
slower than they might have accomplished something.

MATTHEWS: Were there real peace talks? Was that a real offer from that
group that came up, including the vice presidents of the Confederacy -- was
that a really good offer he could have accepted otherwise?

GOODWIN: No, not as long as the Confederacy was still insisting that
somehow it had to be a compromise between two different countries and
Lincoln insisted we are one country. But the important is that as long as
the war kept going on, before the Emancipation Proclamation was passed,
every kid that was killed who died, every soldier who died, Lincoln felt it
personal. He felt it through the whole war, but he felt even more
intensely then. But he thought that saving slavery from being existed,
going onward, was worth that terrible price.

MATTHEWS: Well, Doris Kearns Goodwin, congratulations. I love seeing the
book in all the bookstores now. The new cover on it, you`ve got a whole
new life to a great book. There it is. But that`s the cover. But there`s
a new cover which just says "Lincoln", same book, bigger promotion and you
deserve it.

Thank you so much, Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of our great historians.

GOODWIN: You`re welcome, Chris.

MATTHEWS: One of our great historians.

When we return, let me finish with how Lincoln outlawed slavery again for
good.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: I have to say I`m thrilled when
I see a good politician do a good piece of political work, something good
for the people who need something good for them done, something good for
the country anytime.

The film "Lincoln" shows what a true power our most beloved president was.
He knew what the country needed, the dead end to slavery. He saw his
opportunity, Lincoln did, and he saw the door of that opportunity closing.
If he didn`t get the Constitution changed before the South got readmitted
to the Union, he wouldn`t get it done when the Confederates were back
voting in the Congress.

Yes, he used pork, yes he used patronage, but all of these measures are
legal. And so, let`s never forget, was slavery at the time. The movie
shows how Lincoln managed to use a number of legal means, pork, patronage,
persuasion to get rid of one historic evil. It`s a great bit of history, a
great lesson and how it takes politicians to do the job -- sometimes the
really big ones.

What`s the old phrase, "can`t live with them, can`t live without them"?
I`d rather live with them. Who else is going to run these things and get
things done that history often demands we get done.

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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