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updated 10/14/2013 11:05:40 AM ET 2013-10-14T15:05:40

HARDBALL
October 11, 2013
Guest: Chip Saltsman, Maggie Haberman, Tom Davis, Margie Omero

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The last gasp of Ted Cruz.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out on Los Angeles.

Let me open tonight with the strangeness of Ted Cruz. Getting slammed
in the polls, pounded with the news in the Gallup that his negatives have
doubled, he now declares the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll invalid.
Failing back at the news that strong majorities of Americans blame his
Republicans for the political chaos, he said the news is not the news, the
poll results are just what, quote, "an awful lot of Obama supporters have
to say."

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If you seek out liberal Obama supporters
and ask them their views, they`re going to tell you they`re liberal Obama
supporters. That doesn`t -- that`s not reflective of where the country is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: For this, I tonight award the first-ever Karl Rove Award to
Rafael Edward Cruz of Texas. It singles out those who, when faced with bad
political facts, like the loss of Ohio, or in Cruz`s case, the loss of
political innocence, simply deny the facts as presented. Rove did it to
his own election analysis team at Fox. Cruz is now doing it to "The Wall
Street Journal" and NBC. It`s called blaming the messenger.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the president must decide how to
deal with the changing Republican positions. If they offer a clean six-
week debt extension bill but refuse to reopen the government, does he sign
it? If they do both, does he sign it, even though it brings the ransom
problem back before Thanksgiving?

And what if the House Republicans decide to extend the debt limit,
reopen the government, but add a provision requiring some debt reduction or
limiting the Affordable Care Act? Does the whole idea of a six-week
extension simply create more time for the Republicans to pressure Obama to
break? I`d, of course, if I were the president, play HARDBALL.

David Corn is the Washington bureau chief with "Mother Jones" and
Jonathan Capehart is a columnist with "The Washington Post." Both are MSNBC
contributors.

Well, I guess the question -- I want to start with the president`s
situation. And David, I`m really curious what you think. Of all the
options, a clean CR, a clean debt extension, would he go with that if it`s
only six weeks, or does that simply say, We`re kicking the can down to the
next block some time before Thanksgiving?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he
certainly would sign the bill, if they do that. Jay Carney just came out
at the White House not too long ago and basically gave the Republicans no
quarter, said again and again that, We will not negotiate under the threat
of default or government shutdown. A six-week bill about either one of
them that brings us to the brink of Christmas shopping season, the middle
of Thanksgiving, is -- won`t work as well. He was very firm.

The president did talk to John Boehner this afternoon. We don`t know
exactly what occurred in that conversation. Finally, Boehner got the
conversation he wanted. But in public, at least, the president`s holding
firm that he will not be extorted.

Now, at the end of the day, to prevent a default, he might give in on
something, and certainly he`ll sign a bill that would prevent default. But
in terms of giving the Republicans...

MATTHEWS: But doesn`t signing that -- let`s go back...

CORN: ... a concession for that...

MATTHEWS: But here`s the...

CORN: ... I`m not sure he`s there yet.

MATTHEWS: Here`s the tough one. If he signs a six-week, isn`t he
agreeing to this regular drumroll and another deadline, then another
drumroll, then another deadline and the threat of more pressure on him to
give in to something?

CORN: He may be. But if he`s not giving up anything in response to
that and just saying, Hey, these guys need another six weeks to get their
act together and for me to be firm and see their numbers plummet even
more...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... in a "Wall Street Journal" poll, well, that`s the best we
can do now. I`ll take that.

MATTHEWS: Jonathan, how will it be read in the -- in the objective
press out there? How will people read an Obama agreement to a six-week
agreement, which means we`re right back at this in six weeks?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
Well, I mean, it depends. As David just laid out, it depends on whether
there are conditions attached to that bill that the president would sign.
He`s been very clear that he wants a clean continuing resolution, a clean
debt ceiling bill. And the president had said, at least, you know, up
until -- up until today that, you know, if it was a short-term deal,
meaning it was undefined, that he would sign it.

You know, I think the American people are tired, certainly the
president is tired of lurching from crisis to crisis. But when you`re
smacked up against both a government shutdown and potentially defaulting
for the first time in the history of the United States, if you`re the
president and you`re presented a clean -- a clean debt ceiling bill and a
clean continuing resolution to reopen the government, he`d be hard pressed
not to sign it.

MATTHEWS: OK. You mean you want both.

CAPEHART: Sure.

MATTHEWS: Open -- reopen the government, you think, is a minimal
condition for the president, reopen the government and continue the -- or
extend debt ceiling another six weeks.

CAPEHART: Well...

MATTHEWS: That would be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. By the way, going back to David on this, same
question. Are you assuming he has to get both, or could he agree to just
the debt extension but leave the government shut down? I`m very serious.
This is a tough question for him, I agree.

CORN: Well, I think that if they -- if he gets anything clean, if it
buys time, he will sign it. He can still say, this is Mickey Mouse. I`m
doing this only to prevent a default. The Republicans in Congress still
have to get their act together...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... and deal with this long term and get the government back
open. But to prevent a default, he will sign...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... a clean bill without conditions.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me give you an alternative opinion. This is based
on the fact I think the Republicans are really on the run here now, and I
really think -- this is the time. It won`t ever be as good as it is now
for him to pound these guys and put them up against the wall and not him.

This is the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll that Cruz is trying to
deny. It shows that the public has delivered an unequivocal rebuke of the
Republican Party`s hostage-taking strategy on the debt limit and the
government shutdown.

We brought you those results last night, and today, they are spread
all around Capitol Hill like wildfire. Here they are again. This is why I
think he needs to press now and don`t deal with the short term.

The blame for this shutdown falls squarely on the Republican Party, as
the public sees it, and not the president, by a huge margin, 22 percent.
When`s he going to get that kind of margin again?

The Republican Party`s favorability rating drops to 24 percent, an
all-time low. Will they ever get any lower? President Obama`s approval is
actually up slightly to 47 percent right now. He`s in a relatively good
position.

And this is remarkable. Look at this. The popularity of the
president`s health care law has increased by 7 points with all this attack.

The pollsters behind this survey, a Democrat and a Republican, both
called the results "jaw-dropping."

Back to you, David. Given the fact that he has the best numbers he`s
ever had, more importantly, his opponents have the weakest numbers they`ve
ever had, isn`t this the time to say, Buddies, you got five days.

CORN: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: Reopen the government, stop pussyfooting around, stop the
Mickey Mouse and do it. And by the way, extend the debt ceiling so we
don`t go into a default.

CORN: What -- what he has...

MATTHEWS: Do it now.

CORN: The leverage he has today is indeed high and great. As you get
towards midnight on the 17th, it will go down. I believe that he`ll keep
pounding them. You know, as I said, Carney came out today and didn`t
really change the president`s firm position.

There are conversations going on. Maybe there`s some give there, but
we don`t know. But I think he`ll keep pounding the Republicans, but I
think at the end of the day, if the best they give him is a temporary
extension, he will not let the nation default because, ultimately, he`s the
adult in the room.

But I think until that point, he will keep pressing for more and use
his political leverage that he seems to have amassed.

MATTHEWS: Jonathan, can you -- Jonathan, can you cure an addict by
giving him another fix?

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: No. But here`s the thing. And I want to expand on
something that David just said. He`s right. The president has it as good
as he`s going to get right now with these poll numbers. But let`s say, you
know, a week from today, we are staring at the destruction of the full
faith and credit of the United States.

Those numbers, the president`s advantage, will disappear exponentially
as the days go on because in times of crisis, the American people are not
going to be looking at Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell in the Senate. They`re going to be
looking to the president of the United States to solve the problem, to fix
the emergency.

And so that`s why, you know, I think the next six days are going to be
critical for the White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, some Republicans on Capitol Hill saw the writing on
the wall, including Senator John McCain, who reacted to the new NBC
News/"Wall Street Journal" poll on Fox yesterday -- actually, earlier
today. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Look at the "Wall Street Journal"
poll. "The Wall Street Journal" is not a liberal organization. Look at
the "Wall Street Journal" poll this morning -- 24 percent of the American
people approve of Republicans. That`s an all-time low.

We`d better wake up. We`re in a serious situation right here, and we
better wake up and we better try to come to an agreement salvaging
something out of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: David, it seems to me we`re reaching -- again, I know I`m
pounding away at this, but we`re reading a situation where John McCain,
very recently the Republican nominee for president, has come out and said,
basically, Cruz you`re out to lunch. These polls are real. You got to
stop blaming the ref. And you`re beginning to look ridiculous. We have to
accept reality.

The "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll is probably the most respected poll
in the country. It`s always been where it is. And it gives information to
both parties. And there`s McCain saying yes. Yes.

CORN: You know, nobody, not even John McCain, is going to convince
Ted Cruz or the 30 or 40 members of the kamikaze club in the Tea Party
House of Representatives, those Republicans, that they`re wrong and they
should change course. That`s not going to happen.

What can happen is that because of poll results like this, other
members of the party, whether it`s John McCain, whether it`s Peter King in
the House, other Republicans outside of Congress, put enough pressure on
Boehner and even on McConnell to fix this thing before the Republican brand
gets even more tarnished.

So that`s where the action is. You`re never going to get...

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: ... the people who came to town to destroy government to feel
bad about destroying government. But what you can do...

MATTHEWS: To make your point...

CORN: ... is convince John McCain it hurts him, as well.

MATTHEWS: With the help of television, I`ll help you make your point.
In addition to Cruz, other Tea Party Republicans continue to operate in
their own echo chamber. They know the party is suffering, and they don`t
seem to care.

Here`s Representative John Fleming, a Republican from Louisiana. He
told reporters the Republicans shouldn`t back down. Quote, "We knew going
into this that we would get most of the blame. We get most of the blame
anyway, so that shouldn`t keep us from doing the right thing."

He`s not alone. In an interview with the conservative Breitbart
report, or Breitbart news, Rand Paul wouldn`t back off his talking points.
He said, quote, "I think it`s untenable position for the president to say
he won`t negotiate and to say that he won`t compromise. For the president
to basically throw a temper tantrum and say, Give me everything I want, and
I won`t negotiate"...

Jonathan, I`ve never seen the president have temper tantrum.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I mean, I`ve had some. I`ve never seen him have one. He`s
pretty -- he`s Cool Hand Luke, pretty much.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: So what`s he trying to present here, the notion of the
president`s being a spoiled child that he doesn`t want to negotiate? The
only thing they want to negotiate is how to dismember the child that this
president created, "Obama care," health care.

CORN: Right.

CAPEHART: They don`t want to negotiate. We`ll give you a tax
increase, and we want entitlement reform. They give nothing. And they
call...

CAPEHART: Right, and...

MATTHEWS: You know what? The Soviet Union used to do that. What`s
ours is ours, what`s yours is negotiable. And that was an old game we all
laughed at. And here are these guys coming along who are obviously anti-
communists. But look, they`re saying, What`s ours is ours, the tax levels,
and what`s yours is negotiable. They`re using the technique.

CAPEHART: So here`s the thing. Rand Paul and the other Republicans
in Republicans in Congress don`t want to recognize the fact that one of the
reasons why we`re in this situation is because the president, from the
first term, always tried to meet Republicans halfway, sometimes more than
halfway, sometimes giving them the concessions that they wanted before they
actually started negotiating.

Now, though, having learned his lessons, particularly from the 2011
debt ceiling crisis, the president decided, No, no, no, no, no, not doing
this anymore, not going to do it. And especially after presenting a budget
that, you know, puts entitlement cuts on the table, they`ve done lots of
things, and the president`s saying, Look, I`ve already conceded enough.
You`re going to -- you`re going to have to meet me halfway now. And the
Republicans can`t take it.

They thought President Obama would cave or concede in the way he had
before, and he hasn`t.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t we go halfway with the birthers and say, Well,
actually, I wasn`t born in Kenya, I was born in Nigeria. That`s halfway
over there. I mean, at some point, you have to just say, This is not
negotiating.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: This is an attack, pure and simple, personally on me. By
the way, it`s Obama -- that part of it they hate the most -- the "Obama,"
not the "care."

Anyway, thank you, David Corn. Thank you, Jonathan Capehart. See you
next week, probably.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And Coming up: Republicans were happy to embrace the Tea
Party when it made them the House majority, but now a lot of them fear
those anti-government extremists out there, or zealots, are tearing the
party apart and down, and they may be right.

Also, the guy who lit the fuse of this political disaster, Mr. Ted
Cruz, told the Values Voters summit today he`s not giving up. And all over
Washington, Democrats are enjoying the fact.

And that crushing NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, with Republican
approval at its lowest level in history -- well, how Republicans will try
to get back on their feet and how Democrats plan to keep their foot on the
Republican throat.

"Let Me Finish" tonight with the fond memory of better times, and they
were.

This is HARDBALL, place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: The government shutdown and standoff over the debt ceiling
has raised demand for a third party to record levels. According to the new
Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans say a third party is needed. That`s
the highest level since Gallup began asking the question 10 years ago.
Only a quarter of Americans say the current two parties adequately
represent their views, and that`s a record low.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. If there`s one thing Senator Ted
Cruz may have achieved with his doomed plot to gut the president`s health
care law by shutting down the government, it`s this. He apparently has
succeeded in dividing the Republican Party.

The critics from his own party keep piling on now. Republican
congressman Peter King says Cruz`s tactics have actually had the opposite
of their intended effect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: No one has done more to strengthen
"Obama care" than Ted Cruz because since he started this maniacal crusade
of his, the fact is, over the last 10 days, support for "Obama care" has
gone up 7 percent in the country -- not because "Obama care" is working,
not because it`s played out well at all, but because he has given such a
bad image to the anti-"Obama care" forces.

So President Obama and the supporters of "Obama care" should thank Ted
Cruz because he is their biggest ally right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said Cruz never
had a roadmap for the wild ride he took Republican House members on.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: How
exactly was he going to achieve abolition of "Obama care"? Explain that to
me. Has he ever explained it? And where is he now? Where are they?
Where are the generals? What`s their strategy to get abolition of "Obama
care"?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a friend of
this show, was also once the chairman of the Republican National Committee,
said of Cruz`s attempt to stop the health care law, quote, "It never had a
chance." And he`s a smart fellow.

Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC analyst. Chip Saltsman`s a Republican
strategist who was campaign manager for Mike Huckabee back in 2008.

Free-fire zone for you, Chip. What`s happening to your party in light
of the Cruz mission, which was to go after "Obama care," if you will, a
phrase he doesn`t mind using -- I prefer Affordable Care Act because that
says it`s an act of law -- and tying it to the debt ceiling, tying it to
the government shutdown? Was that a smart strategy politically? And what
has it done? Has it detonated your party?

CHIP SALTSMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, well, you know, I like
Senator Cruz and I respect him for standing (ph) up what he believes, but I
agree with some of the previous ones that you quoted. He never had a game
plan to win.

He picked a fight. And you know, Chris, I like to pick fights, too.
But I also have a strategy to win them once I pick them. And he`s kind of
started this hornets` nest and he left a lot of my friends in the House
kind of holding the bag because there was no path to victory on this.

And instead of letting "Obama care" kind of, you know, fall under its
own weight, which is what a lot of Republicans thought would happen, he`s
picked the fight. He`s become the bad guy for the left and the Democrats.
And now he`s the issue and it`s become very personal, and I think that`s
hurt our party a little bit.

MATTHEWS: Yes, let me ask Eugene about this. You know, analytically,
can you decipher whether Cruz -- who`s a smart guy, at least academically
he`s smart, maybe not politically, but he did pull an upset down in Texas
in wining that primary.

but did he think Obama was weak in the knees and that if he pushed
hard on this, Obama would give him a piece of "Obama care" back? Or did he
simply want Gotterdaemmerung, something where it would all explode and
everybody would be jumping around, like it has happened? What was he
planning?

EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have
no idea. And look, I think people are starting to wonder, you know, number
one, did they overestimate? Did we all overestimate Ted Cruz when he first
arrived because he`s really smart. He can be eloquent. He`s -- you know,
he seems like a really clever guy.

But this never made sense. This never made one iota of sense, that
President Obama would voluntarily renounce his biggest legislative
accomplishment, something Democrats have been trying to do since Harry
Truman. I mean, it...

MATTHEWS: Well, was he -- what was...

ROBINSON: ... it was never going to happen.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s figure why he made the mistake because it`s
always smart to learn.

ROBINSON: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want to go back to Chip on this question because I think
you (ph) might have misled him. You know, back in the `60 campaign, Nixon
thought he could carry the South because he was in Atlanta one Wednesday,
and all the business guys, the white guys out there, business guys with
some money in their pockets, were all downtown in Atlanta that day, like
they are at lunchtime in any big city.

And he got the idea because I think they`re applauding him, hey, I`m
going to carry Georgia. I`m going to break the solid South. Right? He
didn`t, because he was misled by leading indicators. Was Cruz overwhelmed
by all the applause he got at -- all the applause meters at all those
right-wing events and town hall meetings he got through, thinking that echo
chamber was the Congress? It was the Republican Caucus? It was the world?

Is that what happened to him? He got misled?

SALTSMAN: Maybe visions of `16 kind of blinded him into a -- how does
he win before `14 and especially this Congress with Obamacare?

I think, at the end the day, when you`re trying to figure out again
what was going to be a win, I think at that point they felt like getting it
delayed for a year, defunding it, using that as a way to delay it for a
year so they could kind of negotiate things out might be a win.

But I think he overplayed that hand a little bit. And again I have
great respect for Senator Cruz. But I don`t think they actually thought it
through long enough to say, OK, this is not just one senator that can stop
this. It`s two chambers. The Democrats control the Senate. The Democrats
control the White House. What is in reality what we can really do?

MATTHEWS: I think, Gene, they`re afraid of him, afraid to tell him
he`s wrong. I have never seen a guy so brilliantly good at pointing the
finger and scaring the heck out of people. You`re going to get a primary
challenge, buddy, if you keep talking like that.

So nobody stood up to him in this whole move -- buildup to this fight.

ROBINSON: Well, you know, the Senate didn`t used to be that way,
right?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: A kid coming in first term, he couldn`t make this much
noise. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Mitch McConnell,
the minority leader in the Senate who keeps discipline normally, is looking
over his shoulder at a Tea Party challenge, and perhaps felt that he
couldn`t tell Senator Cruz, look, this is not going to work, and this is
not the way we`re going to do it.

But, you know, I wonder how long people are going to be saying what
Chip just said, you know, "I respect Senator Cruz."

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

ROBINSON: I think he has lost a lot of respect. He certainly lost a
lot of friendship and some potential allies on the Hill. I don`t know how
much that means to him, but this has not been a good week for him.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this.

Republican Mike Murphy, who everybody respects, he told "The New York
Times" that Ted Cruz is making life difficult for potential Republican
presidential candidates in 2016. Quote: "Cruz is trying to start a wave of
Salem witch trials in the GOP on the shutdown and Obamacare. And that fear
is impacting some people`s calculations on 2016."

I mean, you`re very respectful of him, Chip. Obviously, I can`t
figure out your motives, but is one of your motives fear? Is this guy the
kind of guy like Uday or Qusay over in the old Iraq?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You don`t want to get eye contact with this guy in a
restaurant, you know? Is that it?

SALTSMAN: No, I -- no, the reason I like him and the reason why I
respect him is he`s not afraid to stand up for what he believes even if
he`s one of a hundred. I respect that and like that.

But, again, when you pick a fight, even if you`re one out of a
hundred, you better have an ability to say, this is a win. If it was delay
Obamacare, that is a win. If it was to kind of get our budget numbers back
to about $980 billion, which we`re at, that`s a win.

But he never was able to say, this is what we get to when we win.
when he was in the Senate conference, a couple day -- later said --
Republican senators stood up and said, Senator Cruz, how do we get out of
this mess? How do we get there from here? And he didn`t have an answer.
And he`s got to have that answer.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: Not only did he not have a way to win. He didn`t have a
window to climb out of to get away from it. Right? There was no exit...

(CROSSTALK)

SALTSMAN: Well, and that`s important in politics.

And I think, as you were talking about `16, we`re going to have to
elect and nominate somebody that can beat, if it`s Hillary Clinton,
somebody very formidable, but we have got to have a person that has got a
record of getting things done. And all of a sudden, getting things done is
a bad thing. That`s not good for our party long-term.

MATTHEWS: Have you noticed how good Rand Paul was? And I look at
this objectively, from left and right, far left, as well as right. Look
how successful his -- his filibuster -- real filibuster was against drones
and use of drones.

They cheered that across the political spectrum, or at least at both
ends of the spectrum, where this guy Cruz comes along with an obviously
faux or imitation filibuster, which nobody gave credit to. Is this a
difference in ability? I get the feeling that Rand Paul has political
ability for the big show, the presidency, that this guy doesn`t have.

Chip, your thoughts.

SALTSMAN: Well, I know Rand a lot better than I do Senator Cruz. I
have worked with him a little bit before. He`s very smart.

He gets the entire spectrum of conservative-liberal moderates, knows
that we have independents. And he also understands the value of a success
and a win. And he was able to define in that filibuster what a win would
be. And he was able to accomplish that, especially at the media level, but
also at the grassroots level. So it was really a double win for Rand Paul.

MATTHEWS: I think this helps Rand Paul.

Gene, last word. Does this help Rand Paul? I think it does. It
makes him look more moderate, puts him more in the middle.

ROBINSON: Yes. Yes, I think it helps him a lot.

Today, at the Value Voters Summit, he was talking about foreign
policies, trying to establish his bona fides and credibility in that
sphere. I think he`s looking better to that segment of the party.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Thanks so much, Eugene Robinson.

And, thank you, Chip Saltsman, for your candor, actually.

Up next, I was Jay Leno`s guest last night on "The Tonight Show." And
if you missed it, we have got some highlights. Jay is amazing. Anyway,
there I am, actually.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."

The numbers are out. Congress in general and the Republican Party in
particular are in the approval ratings dumpster. As you expect, late-night
comedians are having a field day with that one. Here was Jimmy Fallon last
night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON")

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Congress has
never been less popular. In fact, this new poll found that Americans have
a better opinion of zombies than members of Congress...

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: ... which is weird because they`re not that different from
each other.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: I mean, not take a look. First, we have zombies. They have
creepy, discolored skin, while Congress has John Boehner, very orange-like
skin.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: Here, zombies do a lot of moaning, whereas Congress does a
lot of postponing.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: And last, zombies would destroy civilization as we know it.
Congress, give it a few more days.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: There you go.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I was on "The Tonight Show" of course last night to
talk about my new book, "Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked."

And Jay and I discussed the sorry state of affairs in Washington these
days.

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

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Do you think Obama
and Boehner, do they hate each other? Do they like each other?

MATTHEWS: I don`t think they have a relationship. What the president
does is very strange.

If you were president of the United States, wouldn`t you invite people
over and work them? That`s what Reagan always did.

LENO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He had parties for Tip O`Neill. He had birthday parties
for him at the White House. He had Tip to his birthday party. They had
St. Patrick`s Day parties every year.

What was the favorite picture last -- last year in the whole campaign?

LENO: Favorite picture?

MATTHEWS: What people really liked?

It was Chris Christie when he was on the beach with Obama.

LENO: Oh, yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: And everybody in the country said that`s what government
is.

LENO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: When you work together across party lines for something
really important, when Sandy hit -- and they just want their parents to get
along.

LENO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s really what it comes down to, you know?

(APPLAUSE)

LENO: Yes. I agree. I agree.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, tonight, I will be on HBO`s "Real Time With Bill
Maher." That`s a different kettle of fish.

Next, Senator Rand Paul had some product placement in his remarks this
morning at the conservative Value Voters Summit in D.C. In a joke in his
opening remarks, the senator said that he drives a Toyota Prius, a car that
is often derided by the right wing as being an environmental-friendly
liberal mobile.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: And I am in a Toyota Prius. So, I`m
not sure if I can take all of his supporters with me, but if you need a
ride back to the White House, we do have a Prius. We will take you along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Of course, as it turns out, Paul does drive a Prius and he
should be plugging Toyota. It`s one of the biggest employers in his state
of Kentucky. They have recently added 750 jobs building Lexus luxury cars
at the Toyota plant there.

And last month, the president -- the senator even visited Toyota`s
North American headquarters, which is based in Erlanger, Kentucky. Also,
there`s a little more here than meets the eye. Could Rand Paul be trying
to make the Toyota Prius cool among his fellow conservatives? That would
be good and that would be a big step for his party.

Well, considering the cross-branding that seems to be going on here,
here`s our idea of what Rand Paul`s campaign 2016 presidential campaign ads
might look like. You could call this a cross-promotional parody.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): This is the car that loves to have
fun, the car, a hybrid, the future to some. Once upon the time, it was the
only one. Let`s hum, hum, hum. Let`s hum, a Prius for everyone.

PAUL: I`m Rand Paul, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Driving a hybrid car should not be a conservative taboo.

Up next: Ted Cruz says he`s not giving up, and that`s just fine with
Democrats.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.

The 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
has died from injuries from an alleged beating. The boyfriend of the
child`s mother, Joseph Patterson, could now face murder charges.

One person is dead, 66 are injured after a truck collided with a
passenger train in West Virginia.

In New York, a massive search is on for a 14-year-old autistic boy who
has been missing for a week. Surveillance video shows Avonte Oquendo
walking out of school unattended -- back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Ma`am, thank you for being here. I wish
you would participate in the democratic process through speaking
respectfully. It seems that President Obama`s paid political operatives
are out in force today. And you know why? And you know why? Because the
men and women in this room scare the living daylights out of him.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Senator Ted Cruz this morning at the Values Voters Summit in
D.C., where he was heckled repeatedly by protesters. Cruz fired up a
raucous crowd of social conservatives by urging the audience to stand firm
against the president`s health care law.

He told the adoring audience, who praised him with shouts of prayers,
to keep fighting Obamacare. And his best friend in the Senate, his Tea
Party brother, Mike Lee of Utah, was Cruz`s warmup act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: And the very best argument against Obamacare
is the president`s conduct during the first 10 days of this shutdown.

I mean, look what`s happened. The president is using the vast,
immense power of the federal government to hurt the American people. Why?
In order to win a political argument. What happens then when we turn over
some of the most private, intimate decisions in our lives, our health care
system, to the government? When will that be used as a tool against us?
We must stop it. We must defund it. We cannot accept it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins,
who hosted the summit, called Cruz and his band of brothers in the Senate,
Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio, the de facto leaders of conservatives
and of the Republican Party.

Joining me right now is TheGrio`s Joy Reid and Politico`s Maggie
Haberman.

Maggie, let me ask you about this Cruz phenomenon. How do you
disaggregate it? How do say he`s the firebrand for the right -- and I have
heard this from people like James Carville -- you want to rile up an
audience somewhere in the South especially, but not just there, he`s your
man.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: Right.

MATTHEWS: He is the guy, the firebrand you bring into the room. He
will rile them up, rile them up. And, of course, but, nationally, looking
at the statistics, he`s doubled his negatives in a very brief time. People
are doubling down on disliking the guy as soon as they get to know him.

So, how do you break it apart? Is he a winner or loser inside the
Republican Party?

HABERMAN: I think for -- he -- I think you have to look at Ted Cruz
as a rise of a tide that we`re seeing of lawmakers in Washington who are
running on their own brand.

And he is not worried so much about the national party brand. His own
personal brand in his home state is pretty strong. His own personal brand
among grassroots activists in the party is strong. What it has done
nationally to the Republican brand, which we have seen in polling over the
last week, has not been positive. I don`t think it`s particularly of his
concern.

So I think for what he is worried about, which I think is largely
about his own image, I think that is going positively. He campaigned in
terms of running on defunding Obamacare, getting rid of Obamacare. He
would say that`s what he`s doing. However, to your point, his negatives
are incredibly high. And so he is already emerging as a very polarizing
figure nationally.

If he is to run for president, which he has indicated to people
privately he is interested, this will come back in a big way.

MATTHEWS: Joy, who`s the Democrats` Ted Cruz?

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That is a really good question, Chris,
because I don`t think that the Democrats have that same kind of, I want to
say authoritarian kind of impulse to want to follow somebody that
ideologically and with that kind of fervor.

And you would have to really find his equivalent almost in media, not
even in politics. He`s sort of a Father Coughlin figure.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: He`s a lot of Sarah Palin. He actually reminds me a lot of
her, because I remember watching...

MATTHEWS: Who`s a Democrat like that? Who that has that kind of heat
right now? Anybody on the left, the center-left?

REID: I can`t -- I can`t think of any Democrat, to be honest with
you, that has that kind of fervor behind them, because what`s driving the
fervor behind Ted Cruz is a sense of alienation.

And I don`t think Democrats right now feel alienated, not just from
the political leaders, but from the society itself. And he`s driving a
group of people who feel alienated from the larger society, and he`s
telling them, I`m your guy. You`re right. I don`t care who tells you
you`re wrong. I`m your guy and you are right. And there`s nothing more
seductive than someone telling you you`re right.

MATTHEWS: You know, Maggie, covering this as an objective reporter
and looking at it, I do think there`s an asymmetry in the parties, a real
difference. I think, for years I thought the Democrats had gotten cleaned
up in their tactics. They don`t cheat as much. They don`t deal with the
old ways of dirty campaign tactics. They`ve gotten much nicer.

I think that`s hurt them, maybe, but they`ve gotten nicer in their
tactics. They`ve lost some of the zealotry that the right has. It seems
like they`re also more for loving Obama than hating anyone else in
particular.

I have to say the Republican Party, it seems like it`s driven by
hatred right now, hatred of Obama, and anything with his name on it. And
this guy Cruz drums it up really well. He speaks like a spear against the
president.

I am the hatred of Obama in my very flesh. Look at me. This is
hatred of Obama. That`s why I think they cheer him like mad.

Is that a fair assessment or too hard?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: I think that the irony of what you`re
saying in the Ted Cruz phenomenon is that, you know, Obamacare is what got
us here. And Obamacare was not uniformly popular among Democrats as you
know very well. Democrats have been, I think to your point, very united
right now against what is happening, against Republicans on the Hill. And
they are very much behind the president. I know a lot of Democrats are
feeling very angry on the president`s behalf feel happy.

MATTHEWS: Do they hate like Republicans these days? I don`t think
they do.

HABERMAN: I think you are hearing different sets of language. I
mean, I think that`s really -- to your point. I think that Joy`s point
about how Ted Cruz has his roots in Sarah Palin activism and you saw this
in the pre-2012 campaign with Donald Trump. I think it is that same level
of sort of we are going to take the fight to Obama. It is different.

MATTHEWS: I predict next year`s election when it begins, the
presidential campaign will begin right after the congressional. Joy, it`s
going to be about the Republicans building their case against Hillary
Clinton, Benghazi, anything they got, to pick up, and the rock they had to
pick up, they`re going to throw, and that`s what the campaign is -- a
negative campaign against her. Her heroically trying to present a positive
message from the center. That`s what I think.

What do you think?

REID: No, I totally agree because I think what they`re going to frame
it as is Hillary Clinton taking the baton of social degradation from Barack
Obama. They have made Barack Obama the person of him, the living symbol of
the changes in this country they think are wrong for the country, and are
destroying what they believe is America. And they`re just going to say
he`s passed the baton to her.

And she, too -- because, listen, I think the women`s liberations
movements since 1970`s Roe versus Wade are just as toxic and just as much a
part of, kind of the visceral rage of this group of people as were those
civil rights laws, as were bussing, as were a lot of these social changes,
like affirmative action. As were initially Medicare. But now, they are on
Medicare so they`re not against that anymore.

But the idea of this universal health care is another slide in their
mind towards the socialistic, horrible society that is going to say she`s
part of it too.

So, I think --

MATTHEWS: It wouldn`t have happened if they won the civil war, right?

REID: Well, you`re getting a little of that, too.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Joy. A lot of changes we haven`t liked
these years. Anyway, thank you, Joy, for coming on.

And thank you, Maggie.

Have a nice weekend, both of you.

HABERMAN: You, too.

MATTHEWS: Up next, shutdown strategy. How Republicans will try to
get back in the game, if you will, after that devastating new polls by NBC
News and "The Wall Street Journal", and how Democrats will keep the
pressure on if they`re smart and tough enough.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`ve heard plenty of curious things from Texas Congressman
Louie Gohmert over the years. Well, here he is at the Conservative Values
Voters Summit late today, going over fellow Republican John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I heard just before I came some
senator from Arizona, a guy that liked Gadhafi before he wanted to bomb
him, a guy that liked Mubarak before, he wanted him out, a guy that`s been
to Syria and supported al Qaeda and rebels, but he was saying today the
shutdown has been a fool`s errand. And I agree with him. The president
and Harry Reid should not have shut this government down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Louie Gohmert just said Senator John McCain is an al
Qaeda supporter. McCain`s office says they wouldn`t dignify Gohmert`s
comment with a response. Fair enough.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

If anything should act as a wakeup call for the Republican Party, it`s
yesterday`s NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. The poll shows a party
sinking like a rock, losing the trust of the American people, thanks to the
government shutdown.

As we mentioned earlier tonight, here are some of the findings in the
poll. Only 24 percent of Americans said they have a positive view of the
Republican Party. I think that`s the lowest ever.

Meanwhile in the question of leadership, 70 percent say Republicans in
Congress are putting their own political agenda ahead of what`s good for
the country. And Republicans take a majority of the blame for the
government shutdown, 53 percent versus just 31 percent who blame the
president.

Just how bad are those numbers? Well, Peter Hart, the Democratic
pollster who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff,
said, quote, "If it were not so bad for the country, the results could
almost make a Democrat smile. These numbers lead to one inescapable
conclusion. The Republicans are not tone deaf. They are stone deaf."

Republicans now have to dig themselves out of this hole while
Democrats will try to bury them deeper.

Well, joining me now is HARDBAL strategist Tom Davis. He`s a former
Republican congressman from Virginia. And Margie Omero is a Democratic
pollster.

Tom, thank you for joining us.

What did you make of Ted Cruz coming out today and saying the poll
wasn`t any good?

TOM DAVIS (R-VA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, it was just
nonsense. But you have the look at who he`s talking to. These people
needed something and you could see from some of the other rhetoric there,
trying to lift them up.

But, Chris, the major problem is 80 percent of the members of the
Republican conference are from districts where Romney was 55 percent or
better. So they see themselves as immune regardless of what the polls show
for their colleagues that are in marginal seats.

MATTHEWS: Are they more worried about C.D.s, congressional districts,
or more worried about presidential electoral votes? Because that would
define which direction they should go here, perhaps.

DAVIS: They`re always just looking after number one. They`re looking
at their own C.D.s.

MATTHEWS: Yes, Margie, that is a concern, because more parties want
to be a presidential party. And I`ve always had the instinct that the
Republicans want the White House much more than the Democrats. They love
executive authority. They liked John Wayne hierarchical power. Democrats
are happy with sort of the collegial, let`s get together and figure things
out.

Republicans want to be John Wayne. They want that White House so bad.
Commander-in-chief, they want it. And now, they`re acting like a party
that doesn`t know how to get it back because they`re focusing on their home
states and not the states themselves, the home districts.

DAVIS: Your thoughts?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Whether you`re looking at the
national numbers or numbers among Republicans, the story is the same. Even
Ted Cruz`s poll that he was showing showed more people blame Republicans
than the president and it`s not just the NBC poll, Gallup. There`s a
Greenberg poll out today. They all show the same thing.

Last week, there was a poll that showed 60 percent of Republicans want
to see Republicans compromise. Just as many Democrats said they want to
see Democrats compromise.

So, this isn`t something that is outside the Republican districts.
Across the country, people are dissatisfied and disgusted with what`s going
on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Tom. I`m sorry. Go ahead.

DAVIS: One member put it this way. They said, in the old days,
Gingrich ran a caucus around the members that were in marginal seats and
you`d manage yourself around that because you knew that made your majority.
Now, the caucus is being managed around those 80 percent who have
absolutely safe seats, and it`s putting the marginal members at risk.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think so. The ones around Philadelphia and places
like that.

Anyway, according to some Democrats, they have a strong weapon for
upcoming elections, the person of Ted Cruz. The spokesman for the DNC put
it this way, quote, "Die hard Republicans will consider him their best
surrogate and we consider him our best surrogate, too. Wherever he goes
now, I think he`s a political liability for all Republicans."

Is that true? Is he kind of like a bad guy? I`m not saying he`s
exactly like McCarthy. But is he one of those pariahs that hurts you as a
senator? Hurts other senators?

DAVIS: Chris, let me just comment. He was in Virginia last week in a
governor`s race and Ken Cuccinelli, who earlier in the campaign, said we
need more senators like Ted Cruz, wouldn`t even get on the stage with him.
He left before Cruz was introduced. I think that says it all.

MATTHEWS: What do you think Cruz said to that? I mean, he shows up
for the guy, he travels there, gives him his weekend, but he doesn`t want
to stand next to him. Does he just say, I know I`m hated?

How do you -- how does -- let me go to Margie on this. How does he
absorb that information, people want me to come to their state because of
their previous commitment, but when they thought about it, they decided,
don`t be seen with this guy?

OMERO: Right. You can`t say, well, the poll is wrong if you see a
guy running away from you. You observe it with your own eyes. But I think
it`s a mistake.

And, look, obviously, Ted Cruz is becoming more unpopular. Gallup
shows that he -- and NBC poll, he`s become better known at all of that new
notoriety is coming from his unfavorable. To know him is to not like him
and that is obviously a problem.

But I don`t think this really should just be about Ted Cruz. This is
about the Republican Party that has been led by this extreme faction. It`s
not just one person. If it`s just one person, then we wouldn`t be seeing
this, we wouldn`t be in a shutdown, and we wouldn`t be seeing those
horrible poll numbers.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Tom on this question. Think about this.
I get the sense the Democrats may be a little bit disarmed these days
because they have such an obvious villain out there that makes life perhaps
too easy for them. They begin to relax.

Oh, we got Ted Cruz out there singing the bad song, everybody`s going
to come to us. Is there a danger in that complacency and thinking you`re
already got a villain and you don`t need a hero?

DAVIS: Absolutely. First of all, the election is a year from now and
you`ve got to remember that the president`s party loses term seats in a
midterm election. Very rarely are there exceptions to that.

This will change 100 times over in the next 12 months. Republicans
need to recover from this. There`s no question this has been a setback and
I think we`ll see it probably in the elections this November, in the
(INAUDIBLE) elections and some other things coming up. But over time, I
don`t think the Democrats have any reason to feel complacent. Republicans
still favored to pick up Senate seats and to take the House.

MATTHEWS: Margie, what`s your advice to a Democrat running for office
now? Should you use Ted Cruz as a battering ram, not a battering ram, but
as or poster boy for the Republican Party? Is he useful to the Democrats?

OMERO: He`s certainly useful. I would talk about Republicans in
Washington more broadly. I would go in a field with a poll because it will
be a good time to have good poll numbers to use down the road for
fundraising or for recruiting or getting folks on board. And I would also
point out another piece from the NBC poll that shows in just a month, just
since the last poll, there`s been a huge uptick in the number of people who
feel the economy`s going to get worse.

So this isn`t just about Republicans playing politics. People feel
that this is going to really going to hurt the economy.

MATTHEWS: OK. Big news on that front, I talked to a top Republican
today, who told me the recruitment is way up among Democrats. They like
this season. There are people joining these races for next year right now
because they like the climate. They like the looks of things for the first
time.

Anyway, thank you, Tom Davis.

DAVIS: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Margie Omero.

OMERO: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the fond memory of better times,
when a liberal House speaker and a conservative president could pray
together, when they could be friends after a day`s work, where they could
fortunately start to comprise, where the speaker could despite their
differences, represent the president a t the foreign adversaries, where
common humanity and simple patriotism could bring this country to the kind
of effective, forward leaning government we so want.

The rich stories of Tip O`Neill and Ronald Reagan are all in my new
book. I`ll be with Bill Maher tonight to talk about it.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" 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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