November 1, 2013
Guest: Michael Scherer, Steve Israel, Daniela Gibbs Leger, Norman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The Hate Obama Party.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. This hatred of the president has
sunk deeper and deeper into the Republican bloodstream. To be a member of
the GOP in November 2013 is to be member of the HOP, the Hate Obama Party.
You must not only oppose him, the political leader, but everything
with his name on it. You must not only hate the president`s health care
plan, you must support any act of sabotage you can get your hands on. The
goal is to blow up the program anywhere you lay the landmine, whether by
denying people information, refusing to have your state participate,
talking the young people into how to avoid accountability.
This is exactly what the president`s enemies have been doing since
they first learned of his election. Just as the Southern states began
moving towards secession in the victory of Abraham Lincoln, those with the
same mentality today began meeting on ways to sabotage this new president`s
program even before he uttered it.
Well, tonight the Hate Obama Party in all its anger and misery. David
Corn is the Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" and Ron Reagan is a
former radio talk show host. Both are MSNBC contributors.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. This sabotage campaign that was
laid out today, Todd Purdum in today`s Politico, points together --
actually, puts together all the pieces of the Republican Party`s four-year
war to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
He writes, "From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican
leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it.
The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president`s reelection
in a pattern of massive resistance not seen since the Southern states`
defiance of the Supreme Court`s Brown versus Board of Education decision in
Well, let`s look at just a few instances of the GOP`s coordinated
attack to derail the president`s health care law at all costs. Republicans
withhold all support when the law first makes its way through both chambers
of the Congress in 2009. In 2010, Scott Brown of Massachusetts wins a
special election up there after running a campaign to kill the legislation.
His victory gives the GOP 41 votes in the Senate, which gives them the
power to block any fixes or improvement in the new law.
Once implementation begins, Republican governors across the country
refuse to build their own state exchanges, putting unexpected pressure on
the federal exchanges. Then congressional Republicans repeatedly refuse to
give HHS the money it needs to do all that extra work to build the federal
Then there`s the obstruction campaigns. They include GOP darlings
like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Morris urging people to do things like avoid
tax refunds as a way to skirt the individual mandate or sign petitions
rejecting their states` exchanges.
And of course, there`s the GOP icing on the cake, a two-week
government shutdown and a threat to blow up the economy if the health care
law isn`t dismantled. Pretty strong stuff.
Ron Reagan, I want to start with you. This has been a concerted
effort. It is very much like when you read about Lincoln coming to
Washington through Baltimore, sneaking into town because the secession
movement has already begun. They didn`t give this guy a honeymoon. They
didn`t give this guy even -- they didn`t give him nothing. They started
going after him from the beginning.
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No. And they haven`t learned their
lesson. I mean, you know, they just got their hat handed to them with this
government shutdown and the debt ceiling thing, and you`d think maybe
they`d be chastened a bit, but they`re not. They`re just going to keep
It`s an ideological war they`re fighting, where these Tea Party
members -- they think that government is bad. Not only do they think that
Obama`s government is bad, any government is bad. So they want government
to fail, which is a pretty outrageous thing. Imagine when the Iraq war was
getting under way, if Democrats who is opposed the war and weren`t crazy
about George W. Bush to begin with, began denying troops body armor or
denying them armored vehicles or things like that.
That`s the equivalent of what Republicans are doing to the health care
bill with not expanding Medicaid, leaving millions of people to suffer
without health insurance just because of their ideology.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I was wondering, although I don`t want to defend all
of it, but I tell you, when they start talking about how the president
oversold the ease with which we`ll get "Obama care," the president`s health
care plan, the ease with which it will come in, weren`t they the guys who
called the Iraq war a cakewalk?
REAGAN: Cakewalk, yes.
MATTHEWS: Excuse me. Just to remind people how -- what real over-
sales is all about.
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, one of
the most important points I think Todd makes in his excellent piece in
Politico is that the way this town used to work is that when a bill was
passed, a big bill, a big program, you knew it would need tweaking along
the way. You know, there are unintended consequences. Sometimes you see
what happens with regulations and tax code stuff. And you have to go back
in and make what are called technical fixes.
And you know, back in the bygone days, maybe of the days of Tipper and
-- Tip and Gipper, you know, even if you lost the fight, you`d bring up a
bill and say, This is all kind of neutral, it`s just to make this work
better, you could get it past with both sides say, OK, you got the program.
We want the program to work.
That can`t happen now. So therefore Obama, and the executive
MATTHEWS: Explain why. Because you can`t get 60 votes in the Senate
to do anything.
CORN: Because the Republicans would use that as an occasion to block
and destroy, to disrupt and obstruct. And so therefore, the executive
branch now and the White House has to do a lot of this through regulations,
which they otherwise wouldn`t do. And it really sort of -- it`s like
throwing gum into the works...
MATTHEWS: So all these fixes they demand now, they had an opportunity
to deliver on right after they got the first part of the health care plan
through with 60 votes. And when it came around through reconciliation,
they didn`t -- they said, We`re not giving you a single vote. So you`ve
got to do it that way. Therefore, you can`t change the policy.
Anyway, Republicans continue their efforts to undercut the president`s
authority by blocking two his nominees for the Supreme Court -- or
actually, for the appellate court yesterday. The first was Representative
Mel Watt, the congressman, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Watt became the first sitting member of Congress blocked for an executive
appointment since 1843.
The second was Patricia Millett to the D.C. Court of Appeals. I
mentioned that. Republicans are holding up her appointment on the
ludicrous charge that the president is packing the court, when in reality,
he`s simply filling vacancies. In other words, doing his job.
Here`s Senator John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, using this tortured
logic on a conservative radio show earlier this week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Oh, I think we`re going to be successful
in stopping this court-packing experiment and the country will be better
I think they ought to let -- let their senators know that courts
should not be partisan playthings for any administration and ask President
Obama and the Democratic majority leader to stop their court-packing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ron, John Cornyn is an example of the tail wagging the dog.
In normal circumstances, he would be a normal conservative, not a bad guy,
normal person trying to do his job in Washington, leading his party to as
many victories as they can get. All well and good.
And yet he begins to act more like that character that`s sitting with
him down there from Texas. He begins to imitate, like they all do. They
all start talking like Mike Lee and Rand Paul because they`re scared to
death one of these Uday and Qusays will look over and actually see them and
put -- you know, they -- and not -- and not -- won`t have averted their
glance. They`re afraid of getting any attention, these people, reasonable
right-wing or moderate Republican conservatives, any kind of conservative,
unless they`re out-and-out Tea Party types.
It`s really gotten to be the craziest leading everybody else because
fear of being tagged, You`re not one of us.
REAGAN: You`re right. I mean, guys like Cornyn get led around by the
nose by the worst elements in their party.
You know, David had mentioned "Tip and the Gipper" before. I got home
from a trip overseas to find that book by a young up and coming political
historian named Matthews on my doorstep, and it reminded me -- it`s very
topical, of course, and it reminded me that in the old days, you know, as
David was mentioning, you know, you got things done even if you disagreed.
Tip O`Neill and my father were about as different as any two people
could be, both ideologically, personally, all of that. And yet they
understood that America can`t stand still, that elections have consequences
and the winners get to kind of enact their program. And so you know, you
fight and you dicker and all that sort of stuff, but things have to get
This Republican Party has decided that the best way to go is to just
not let anything happen, make America stand still for four to eight years.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and by the way...
REAGAN: And that`s a recipe for disaster.
MATTHEWS: And the craziest -- thank you for that, by the way. But
the thing about it is, David, is the use of the word "impeachment." You
know, I`ve been through all the impeachment exercises, like, you know, back
with Nixon, of course. And it was a tragedy for everybody. It didn`t make
anybody feel great. It just happened because it had to happen. And then
the talk about impeachment for other guys all the time.
This time, they`re talking about it a priori. They don`t have a case
of particulars. They don`t have, you know, articles that they`re thinking
about. There`s no Watergate. There`s no Iran-contra. There`s nothing!
They just say, Let`s impeach the SOB. I mean, what is this about?
CORN: It`s about going as far as you can. Outside of calling from
him to be drawn quartered, there`s nothing much else you can do. And so,
you know, Congressman Steve Stockman, a Tea Party extremist...
CORN: ... has sent a book to every member of the House saying...
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s not call these books, OK?
MATTHEWS: They`re pamphlets. They`re put out by some...
CORN: But it`s written by a birther!
CORN: That`s the other thing. It`s written by a birther who works
for WorldNetDaily, which is a birther publication Web site. And you don`t
see John Boehner and the Republican Party saying, Hey, cut this crap out.
MATTHEWS: Hey, Ron, I haven`t had you on in a while. Do you think
there`s any sense of self-doubt, dare I raise the issue with the right
wing, when they`re talking about this guy who got here from Canada? Fair
enough, he`s natural born by my definition. He`s born to an American
mother, like their worst-case scenario indictment of Obama, born over in
Kenya to an American mother.
And the guy -- and they don`t even -- and where`s Donald Trump been?
Where`s these birthers in Texas, the half dozen or dozen of them -- how do
they just embrace this guy who everybody knows was born in Canada? Fair
enough, but the same thing -- what do they, just live in this crazy split-
screen world where you just trash a Democrat...
MATTHEWS: ... or a black guy for the same exact thing you worship
REAGAN: Yes. Strange as it seems, yes. The answer is yes, they live
in that kind of split-screen universe. They live in that kind of weird
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re in one right now with Ted Cruz, by the way.
You`re on the right, he`s on the left. What do you know?
Thank you, Ron Reagan. You`re looking good -- Ron Reagan joining us
tonight, as always. Thank you, David Corn, sir.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Hillary or Joe? The new book, "Double Down" by
the authors of "Game Change" says the Obama campaign seriously considered
dumping Joe Biden from the ticket and putting on Hillary.
Well, plus, the Republican war on the poor, no surprise here. Food
stamps cut. Medicaid, don`t expand it. The governing Republican
philosophy now seems to be if you`re poor it`s because you`re lazy, so
don`t look to us for help. Well, who did?
Also, don`t blame both parties for the political paralysis in
Washington. If someone demands your house, your car and your dog, there is
no room for compromise. It`s the GOP that`s gone off the rails. It`s time
that so-called objective journalists began -- stop taking dictation and
Finally, you`ve got the questions, I`ve got the answers tonight. You
get to play HARDBALL with me. I`ll answer your Twitter questions.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Just four days before election day, and we`ve got new
numbers on the Virginia governor`s race. Let`s check the HARDBALL
According to a new poll from Christopher Newport University, Democrat
Terry McAuliffe has a 7-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. It`s
McAuliffe 45, Cuccinelli 38, with the libertarian the race at 10 points.
Don`t forget, by the way, the election comes this Tuesday, and polls
in Virginia close at 7:00 o`clock Eastern. That`s an early close. Pay
attention to that out there in Virginia. HARDBALL will be quick with the
results and all the exit polling and analysis here. So please join us
Tuesday night at 7:00 Eastern. HARDBALL will have the results.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Here`s the biggest bombshell yet out of
the sequel to "Game Change." As President Obama`s popularity in the fall
of 2011 took a serious hit, his top aides considered a radical move,
replacing Vice President Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket.
The new book is called "Double Down." According to reports -- it`s
not out until Tuesday -- authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reveal
the group considering swapping out Biden for Clinton included President
Obama`s then chief of staff Bill Daley.
They used focus groups and polls to see what difference it would make.
In the end, they concluded the addition of Hillary Clinton wouldn`t change
things dramatically for the ticket and dropped the idea.
Well, on "CBS This Morning," Bill Daley himself conceded he did
consider it, but there was never a serious discussion, as he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DALEY, FORMER OBAMA CHIEF OF STAFF: It was looked at, but it was
never seriously looked at in the sense that there was a belief that it
ought to be done or needed to be done. And the truth is, any research that
was done confirmed the fact that that was not an issue that the voters
cared about or thought that should be done.
In 2011, as you remember, Norah, it was a very difficult political
year. And so my sense was we ought to look at everything here because this
is a -- it was a very difficult period politically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s Jay Carney, the president`s spokesman,
responding to the report in the book coming out Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s important to know that
campaigns and pollsters, as part of campaigns, test a lot of things. What
I can tell you without a doubt is that the president never considered that,
and had anyone brought that idea to him, he would have laughed it out of
Joe Biden has been an asset to this president in two campaigns and
throughout five years of this administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Chris Cillizza`s the managing editor of
Postpolitics.com and an MSNBC contributor, of course. And Michael Scherer
is the Washington bureau chief for "Time" magazine.
Chris, I want you first to get in on this. You know, there`s one way
to play it down. I guess that`s what Bill Daley was doing, trying to play
it down, but not denying it. The key is he accepted the fact of this book
that there was a set of focus groups taken, there was money spent to try to
decide whether to dump the vice president, who was very close to Bill Daley
personally and obviously very close to the president. They were that
worried that they conducted all this research to dump him.
And then they decided, after getting the research -- not deciding
ahead of time, We love this guy -- but only after getting the research,
they said, You know what? It`s not worth it. The pluses and the minuses
don`t add up to much change, and we`ll take a lot of heat for not being a
good guy. I think that -- that`s what we know now as a fact.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, POSTPOLITICS.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Here`s what I`ll
say first, Chris, is that Mark Halperin and John Heilemann have written one
book in "Game Change" and this one coming out Tuesday where they have
written a lot of explosive stuff, and not any of it has ever been denied.
So let`s give them credit as reporters...
MATTHEWS: Yes, but Daley didn`t deny it. He didn`t deny it.
CILLIZZA: No. Absolutely. No. He said it was true. So why did
they do it? Why did they decide not to? You know, I do actually buy some
element of the Daley argument, which is, Look, you know, President Obama
wasn`t in a great place. We were trying to figure out what best way to
give him a chance to get reelected. We wanted to think about this.
I think, on its face, I don`t know that you even needed to conduct
polling, but they did. On its face, I think we always talk about this
idea, Oh, maybe they should trade out this -- you know, George W. Bush, he
thought about getting rid of Cheney. It doesn`t -- I think it reeks too
much of panic and desperation, so that minus almost certainly cancels out
any pluses you might get.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Michael. Knowing all that -- we know how it
makes you look weak and desperate and very selfish to dump a very loyal
running mate. It really hurt, I think, Gerald Ford when he dumped
Rockefeller back in `76. It makes you look like a guy flying a plane
that`s losing altitude, and he`s throwing chairs out the door, you know?
So you don`t look too good like that.
So why would they think of doing it, knowing the price up front of
MICHAEL SCHERER, "TIME": I think they`re running a campaign that was
going to test everything and be run by numbers, so it`s not surprising...
MATTHEWS: So it`s the Plouffe thing.
SCHERER: And -- and...
MATTHEWS: You`re saying it`s the Plouffe (INAUDIBLE)
SCHERER: Sure. And almost all presidents running for a second term,
this comes out. I mean, it came out with Quayle, it came out with
MATTHEWS: How about Bush writing in his diary, I should have dumped
Quayle, but I can`t admit it?
SCHERER: The scandal here I think is not that they did a few focus
groups, the scandal is that it`s leaking now. For someone like Biden, who
already has a tense relationship between his staff and the West Wing
MATTHEWS: What`s that about? Report that to me now. What`s that
SCHERER: There`s just been a long-standing...
MATTHEWS: What is the -- what is the friction?
SCHERER: I think it has to do with them thinking they`re serving
different masters, and then that creates tension. All the reporting I`ve
seen and the reporting I`ve done has always said the relationship between
Obama and Biden personally, between those two men, is actually very good,
and surprisingly good for both men.
MATTHEWS: Let me...
SCHERER: But with the staff, it hasn`t -- it hasn`t...
MATTHEWS: Chris, the idea of picking Biden, like picking Cheney, was
you pick a guy who isn`t going to run. I didn`t think he...
MATTHEWS: So I didn`t think they thought he was -- had the ambition
at his age to go bopping out for another eight years of service as
president, the most difficult job in the world. I guess that changed
somewhere, where you -- I get the sense that Biden would like to be
president, and he`s actively doing things like tagging up in Pennsylvania a
lot, being seen with the president on every single occasion of
significance. They`re all legitimate, in fact, positive ways to be V.P.
But they do show continued ambition politically.
CILLIZZA: No question.
I think, if Hillary Clinton doesn`t run, Joe Biden does run right now.
One quick thing on your point, Chris, about -- and to Michael`s point about
the tension among the staff, remember that Joe Biden -- this is not new for
Joe Biden. Joe Biden has had a political team around him since 1987, when
he first started thinking about running for president.
So he brought all that with him. One point I would say about the
substituting or the thought of substituting, as you know, Chris, Biden was
picked in 2008 because he was the kind of steady hand on the tiller. He
knew Washington. If there were concerns that Barack Obama might not be
ready, Biden was aimed at quieting them.
Fast-forward four years. Well, Barack Obama has been the president
for four years. So, what Barack Obama needed in 2008 isn`t always what
Barack Obama needed in 2012. I think that`s inevitably true with
presidents. And I think it`s why you always see the phenomenon of, they
think about the possibility of changing the V.P. and then ultimately decide
I think it looks bad to dump a guy. Anyway, "The New York Times"
reports that the "Game Change" authors obtained a memo from Governor Chris
Christie`s vetting process to be vice president. Quote: "According to a
memo on Mr. Christie from the vetting team, it had unanswered questions on
a defamation lawsuit against the governor from early in his political
career, on a Securities and Exchange Commission settlement involving Mr.
Christie`s brother, on names and documentation of his household help, on
information from his time as a securities industry lobbyist, and on his
medical history. The dossier on the Garden State governor`s background was
littered with potential land mines," the authors write.
So, we haven`t seen the book yet, but this raises a question.
Meanwhile Mitt Romney had another issue with the governor, his weight.
That would be Chris Christie`s weight -- quote -- "Romney marveled at
Christie`s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle
of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket
on, Romney cackled" -- I can`t see him cackling -- "to his aides, `Guys,
look at that!"
Well, that sounds pretty Harry high school. But here`s your -- here`s
-- Michael, Chris Christie, if I were him -- and I like the guy -- I would
be a little ticked of somebody putting out from that campaign questions
about the vetting and not getting answers.
SCHERER: Well, it was pretty clear during the campaign towards the
end, especially after the convention, that the relationship between
Christie`s staff and Christie in particular in the campaign were pretty
rough. And I think there were some raw feelings coming out of that and...
MATTHEWS: Why? Because he stood with the president on Katrina -- or
SCHERER: Even before that.
SCHERER: I mean, that happened afterwards, but even before that
coming out of the convention we had all those stories about Christie being
problematic behind -- behind the stage, being upset after the convention --
after the convention speech, which was panned by a number of people.
MATTHEWS: Well, he would be a terrible vice presidential nominee.
There`s nothing about that man that says vice president.
He`s either president -- it`s like Barbra Streisand once said. I`m
either going to be really successful or nothing. But I`m not going to be
SCHERER: You could make the argument though that with Romney, who
couldn`t connect, he was a guy who could connect with the Republican base.
The other thing I should mention is...
MATTHEWS: Yes. But do you think he`s good at taking orders, this
SCHERER: Yes, not so good.
MATTHEWS: I thought so.
SCHERER: Tomorrow morning, TIME.com is going to actually publish an
excerpt of the book.
MATTHEWS: Oh, good.
SCHERER: So, everything should look for it there, about Chris
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s good.
MATTHEWS: You don`t have to buy the book. Just go to TIME.com.
SCHERER: You still have to buy the book. You get that chapter.
MATTHEWS: Oh, good. Nice tease, though. Thank you. That`s what
you`re here for.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris Cillizza, and thank you, Michael Scherer.
SCHERER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: By the way, Cillizza, you have a nice cackle too.
CILLIZZA: I do my best.
MATTHEWS: Up next -- Norah O`Donnell has the best, there`s no doubt,
in our business. We used to have her on the show all the time.
Up next, your turn to play HARDBALL with me. I`m going to answer your
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tonight, it`s my chance to play HARDBALL with you and answer some of
your questions from Twitter and Facebook.
Well, the first question tonight comes from Donna Marie Jarma (ph).
She asks, "How do we get reasonable, sensible R`s" -- I guess she means
Republicans -- "to step forward and flex their muscles to shut down the
very loud R-fringe?"
Well, I think it`s Democrats who are going to have to do that. Find
reasonable deals that are good for the country, moderate deals, even
progressive deals that some Republicans will go along with to show that you
can produce legislation and create really positive government. That`s one
thing you can bet that the hard right will never get involved with.
Anyway, on to our next question, which comes from Carl Zaremba (ph).
He asks: "How do you see the political divide playing out over the next 10
years? And what can be -- an interested citizen do to make a difference?"
Well, if you`re for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, go out
and work for her, because she has got a very good chance to become our next
On the right side, I think there`s going to be a real test in this
country. Somewhere now and 2016, you are going to see a civil war on the
Republican side reach its climax. It`s going to be a battle between
somebody like, oh, Rand Paul or Ted Cruz on the right and maybe Chris
Christie on the center-right. And that`s going to battle out for who`s the
next future of the Republican Party.
However, if the right wins the nomination, and gets blown away by
Hillary Clinton in the fall, goodbye.
Anyway, our next question comes from Christopher Calkins (ph). He
asks: "Has your job gotten any easier to do over the years? Do you find it
as challenging as ever?"
Actually, it`s gotten easier because this country`s politics has
gotten easy to follow. The Democratic Party is the party it`s always been,
the old party. It hasn`t changed much from the days of Jack Kennedy and
Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson. It`s sort of a center-left party,
leaning more to the center in a lot of parts of the country, somewhere on
the left, some people on the hard left, but not many.
And then you get the Republican Party, which has moved almost entirely
in terms of its leadership to the hard right. People like Boehner, they`re
following the hard right. People like John Cornyn of Texas is following
the leadership of Ted Cruz. So, you have got a hard-right party against a
center-left, even centrist-left party. It`s a lot easier to fight and
understand these issues.
Anyway, thanks for your questions. They`re really good ones.
On Monday, by the way, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, that`s the afternoon, I
will be hosting our first live Q&A on the new MSNBC.com. I will be
answering your questions about my book that`s out there now, "Tip and the
Gipper: When Politics Worked," and also everything to do with HARDBALL.
Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com and you will see the live Q&A post.
Click join the discussion and start leaving your answers in the Let`s Play
HARDBALL group thread. We will see you there Monday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Up next: Why are the Republicans waging a war on the poor? They
surely are. Why?
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins with breaking
news out of the Los Angeles Airport.
A chaotic scene there, as a gunman identified as 23-year-old Paul
Ciancia opened fire at a security checkpoint, killing one TSA agent and
injuring two others. This video inside the terminal obtained by TMZ.
Investigators found a handwritten note on the suspect expressing anti-
government sentiments, some specifically against the TSA. And there are
reports he may have been targeting those agents. The suspect, wounded in a
gunfight with law enforcement, is now in custody.
And now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Republicans have been relentless and ruthless, even, in their effort
to block this president at every turn. We have pointed out that fact
frequently on this program. And it`s just as important to point out that
those paying the steepest price for this Republican vendetta are often
those who can least afford it, the poor.
Today, Paul Krugman in "The New York Times" writes about the GOP
obsession to block the president`s health care law. Quote: "Republicans
are clearly passionate about making sure that the poor and unlucky get as
little help as possible. All of this hostility to the poor has culminated
in the truly astonishing refusal of many states to participate even in the
Medicaid expansion. Bear in mind that the federal government would pay for
this expansion and that the money thus spent would benefit hospitals and
the local economy, as well as the direct recipients themselves. But a
majority of Republican-controlled state governments are, it turns out,
willing to pay a large economic and fiscal price in order to ensure that
aid doesn`t reach the poor."
And food stamp recipients face a double gut punch. Today, their
benefits will be cut 5 percent when an increase that went into effect as
part of the Recovery Act of 2009 expires.
To put this in perspective, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
estimates that equivalent -- it`s equivalent to cutting 16 meals a month
for a family of three.
And if that`s not bad enough, the poor could take another hit. The
House and Senate are now trying to meld two very different approaches to
the farm bill, which houses the food stamp program. To show you how far
apart they are, House Republicans want to cut the food stamp program by $39
billion over 10 years. The bipartisan Senate plan calls for just $4
billion in cuts to the food stamp program. And that`s a lot of ground to
cover between them.
Anyway, U.S. Steve Israel of New York is chairman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee.
Congressman, I am amazed. I am still amazed. It used to be you
fought over a bill, you would have a signing ceremony, and that would be
the end of the fight, because, henceforth, it was the law of the land.
That`s how we play it here. That`s how America works. You debate. A
majority, or 60 senators in the Senate case, and you have a bill and you
sign it, and you move on.
This time, there`s this sort of war of attrition, sort of a war, a
rear-guard action, if you will, like in a war, where there`s people firing
machine guns every day to keep the heads down of anybody trying to
implement this. You find out that the Congress won`t even call -- pay for
the implementation costs by HHS. You see states refusing to participate.
You see right-wing commentators like Limbaugh out there telling
people, well, you can hide your money if you don`t have a big refund so
they don`t sanction you, another way to try to teach people how to avoid
accountability, personal accountability. I have never seen anything like
it. It`s unbelievable.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: No. No.
And this is who they are, Chris. They are reckless. They are
irresponsible, and they are hypocritical. Let me give you a perfect
example on the farm bill that you cited. Starting today, 47 million
Americans will receive cuts in their food stamps, 22 million children,
There are, however, 11 House Republicans who voted to strip or
significantly reduce food stamps from the farm bill, but protected their
personal subsidies. So, one congressman, Steve Fincher from Tennessee,
voted to cut food stamps for his constituents because he said we couldn`t
afford them, but he has received $3.5 million in direct payments from the
federal government because he owns a farm.
Eleven Republicans have decided to protect their pocketbooks, while
hurting and removing food from the mouths of their constituents. That`s
just hypocrisy at its worst.
MATTHEWS: So, the money...
ISRAEL: And it`s destructive.
MATTHEWS: So, in this case, they`re backing money going to create
more potential for agriculture in this country, so we don`t use it. In
other words, we don`t use money...
ISRAEL: Well, that`s right. I mean, they...
MATTHEWS: We don`t use agricultural land to feed people. We just
have it there to provide funds for U.S. congresspeople and other people
ISRAEL: That`s exactly right.
So, these 11 Republican members of Congress who give sanctimonious
speeches about how we just can`t afford to help the poor are actually being
enriched by their own votes. They`re feathering their own nests. Let`s
call it what it is.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of...
ISRAEL: They`re voting to take...
MATTHEWS: I know.
What do you make of John Kasich who is the senator -- the governor, of
course, from Ohio, a Republican? "I`m concerned about the fact there seems
to be a war on the poor, that if you`re poor, somehow, you`re shiftless and
There`s a guy who`s heard all the country club lines, because he`s not
a country club Republican. I can tell you that. He`s a cloth-cut
Republican. And he`s heard that kind of sneering comment from the rich. I
heard it the other day at a pretty-well-off school, somebody complaining, a
kid complaining about how the poor people get too much welfare money.
And, of course, I asked the kid, how much do they get? He had no
idea, of course. But he heard it at home or heard it on FOX. This idea
that the federal budget deficits is caused by welfare payments is nonsense.
And yet the country club argument is, that`s those lazy, shiftless people.
And now you have that as the Republican doctrine here.
ISRAEL: Well, that`s exactly right.
And the Republican doctrine is -- is based on the precept that they
just don`t care about people like you or me. They care about their own
friends and their own special interests. Here`s another example. They say
that we can`t afford public assistance for poor people and working
families, and yet they vote every year to continue a $40 billion windfall
subsidy for the richest oil companies on Earth.
If there`s $40 billion to help the richest oil companies on Earth, why
don`t we reduce that subsidy and instead use that to make investments in
the middle class, rebuild the middle class, help working families, and get
this economy stronger as it is -- than it is right now? It`s just a matter
MATTHEWS: Do you think you can jack up the Democratic Party in a
midyear? Can you get them excited, as right-wingers were in 2010 to
destroy Obama? Can you get the positive impulse after going through the
shutdown, a near miss of a -- almost a financial collapse of this country,
a default, all this engineered, not by crazy movements in the market, but
by deliberate decision-making by the Republican Party to basically screw
They were sitting there planning to do that, until they finally lost
heart in what they were doing. Do you think that will drive enough
Democrats to the polls next year to offset what happened in 2010?
ISRAEL: Yes. Yes.
Right now, we have a wind at our back. And the wind is being
propelled by independent voters who have rejected this irresponsible and
reckless Republican behavior that was willing to put our economy at risk
and hurt the middle class financially in order to achieve a partisan
So, independent voters, senior voters who know that the Republican
negotiating position going into our budget conference will be, cut
Medicare, but don`t cut oil company subsidies, so seniors are with us.
People have seen these Republicans, these reckless Republicans, at
their worst. It is searing. They feel it. And I believe that we`re going
to see a significant momentum going into the midterm elections.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Steve Israel of New
York, who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Joining me right now is Daniela Gibbs Leger, senior vice president of
the Center for American Progress, and a former special assistant to
You know, Daniela, I was struck as I often am I numbers. And when I
noticed the other day -- obviously, it doesn`t predict class or anything,
or income generally. But I was amazed by the fact that African-Americans
as a large part of the population are very strong for the president`s
health care plan. This isn`t just ethnic loyalty to the president.
Tell me why you think that strong -- there`s that strong measure of
support for people`s own interests or I think that`s what`s driving it for
the health care plan as a group.
DANIELA GIBBS LEGER, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Right. Well, I
think they understand they cut through the noise they hear and realize the
Affordable Care Act will be a great benefit to them and their families. So
I think that`s what`s driving the majority of support among African-
Americans and also other communities of color.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s because working poor people that have
jobs work 40, 45, 50 hours a week even, but don`t have the leverage to
demand health care, can`t get it for the more employees because they`re
more marginal, or whatever. Do you think that`s why it is? Because it
seems it`s not about poor people per se because they`ve got Medicaid. And
even under the new plan, more people.
This is about the group a little bit higher, somewhere closer to the
middle that are benefiting here.
LEGER: Right. That`s exactly right.
And a part of the thing that`s been angering me about the Republican
outcry over Obamacare over the past couple of days is that these are all
people who have very nice health care. These are people who get it through
their employer. You know, they don`t understand what millions and millions
of Americans are going through who have to fight out on the individual
market and try to navigate the system.
So, for a lot of African-Americans, a lot of working families, a lot
of other people of color, you know, the Affordable Care Act is a Godsend to
them because they will finally be able to search for health care, they`ll
be able to look at competing plans and be able to cover their families.
So, you know, I think -- it`s Republicans out there saying all this stuff.
Again, they`re not thinking about the average everyday American who really
is struggling to make ends meet and who needs the Affordable Care Act.
MATTHEWS: By the way, speaking of a search, go out there to anybody
and try to find the Republican health care plan. There ain`t no such
LEGER: Right, exactly. Where is it? It doesn`t exist.
MATTHEWS: Please come back again. Daniela Gibbs Leger, thanks for
joining us on HARDBALL.
Up next, how the extreme politics of people like Ted Cruz, first time
I mention tonight, is crippling government.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: It`s official. Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist has
filed to run for office again, this time as a Democrat. Crist was chased
from the Republican Party in 2010 when he lost the race for Senate to Marco
Rubio. He switched parties last year and now will challenge struggling
Governor Rick Scott in next year`s election.
I think I know who I`m supporting in this election.
He`ll make the official announcement Monday in St. Petersburg. He`ll
be my guest Monday night on HARDBALL.
HARDBALL itself back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Partisanship and dysfunction have paralyzed Washington. The problem
is worse than you think. According to a new -- well, it`s my new guest.
And he says one party in particulars to blame. Quote, "One of the two
major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier,
ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the of the inherited social and
economic policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional
understanding of facts, evidence, and science. And dismiss of the
legitimacy of its political opposition."
Norm Ornstein writing with Thomas Mann, another great writer in their
book, "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks." "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks".
Extreme politics is harmful to our democracy and today, politics is
simply not working as you used to. I know a little bit about it when I did
work I wrote for this new book "Tip and The Gipper" myself.
Anyway, your book is a parallel to what I`m writing. So, let me just
let you report here. You`re obviously co-author of it`s even worse than it
looks, and a presidential scholar -- a resident scholar at, of course, the
American Enterprise Institute.
Let me ask you about when you walk in a party where you meet your
family members and they say, why has it gotten so bad? And why does it
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: And you know what I
have to tell them is we`ve really seen a cultural change. But what`s
happened is tribalism has taken over. Of course, we have partisan and
ideological polarization. We know it`s very different from the era of
Tipper and -- "Tip and the Gipper". But it`s become tribal in nature.
And what I tell them is when you live in a world where one party`s
attitude is if this president`s for it, I`m against it --
ORNSTEIN: -- even if I was for it yesterday.
And we saw it play out with a health care plan that is fundamentally a
Republican plan. We saw it play with a gun measure where Pat Toomey
himself said that the background check failed because too many of my
members were not going to vote for, that tells you that we`ve gone beyond
the usual kinds of differences that you report about so well to something
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think it`s going to be something as simple as this.
You used to fight because you disagreed on things. That`s why you had
fights, because on issues of taxation or fiscal policy or foreign policy,
what you did with how we dealt with Central America and Nicaragua, you
disagree with (INAUDIBLE).
Today, they disagree because they fight. Because they`re fighting
with each other, they have to disagree on every single thing. It`s
anything that`s got Obama`s jersey on it has to be slain.
ORNSTEIN: And, you know, when we did the paperback version of the
book just out, which we could`ve titled it`s even worse than it was from
when the book originally came out. I had a little bit of hope after the
2012 election, when the permanent campaign might die down a little bit,
that it would get better. But it hasn`t.
And, in fact, it`s gotten worse than it was. And it really is an
attempt to delegitimize a president and delegitimize a party.
But it`s also that the core of the Republican Party, the leadership,
there are no moderates anymore. The conservatives, the ones that you wrote
ORNSTEIN: -- now have been eclipsed by the radicals. That`s the
difference. The Republican Party is --
MATTHEWS: Like John Cornyn, we`re talking about him. He`s a standard
brand conservative, scared to death of Ted Cruz and he`s trying to act like
But, you know, let me ask you a question that sounds ludicrous. Do
you think the people on the hard right are more driven by the need in their
hearts to get rid of Obama`s president than they are to elect the
Republican president? They`d rather get rid of him than pick somebody they
like for president. It`s a negative impulse now.
ORNSTEIN: Yes, and I think one of the things that makes me more than
a little depressed is normally you lose a few elections and begin to
rethink things. I think you`ve got a group of house members who are only
worried about primaries if that. Many of them worry about nothing.
And the South now, which is the region that drives the Republican
Party and it`s a party in the South that is almost -- that cares less about
winning a presidential contest than they do about promoting a radical
ideology or harming --
MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the tough one -- if President Obama were a
perfect all around president politician. In other words, we all know he
can give inspiring speeches.
MATTHEWS: We all know he can have great values and great purpose. We
know all that. And I like his foreign policy.
But if he was also good at lobbying on Capitol Hill, good at hanging
out with members of Congress, working personal relationships like the old
guys did we talk about. If he had all that skill and put all that time,
didn`t hang out with his daughters or wife at night, didn`t go home, just
politics -- would he be able to breakthrough the crack? Would he be able
to crack through the ice of opposition by the Republicans?
ORNSTEIN: That is such nonsense, Chris, that people have promoted
that the idea if only he could schmooze.
ORNSTEIN: There is no Tip O`Neill to make deals with anymore.
ORNSTEIN: Remember, there is no better schmoozer, the person who can
do this than Bill Clinton.
ORNSTEIN: It got him one year with Newt Gingrich after they`d shut
the government down.
MATTHEWS: Just like Israel. You`re asking Israel to make peace. And
Israel, they`d say, with whom? Find me the guy that`s going to come in and
deliver for the next 20 years, at least.
ORNSTEIN: I think it would have been good if Barack Obama had reached
out more frankly more with his own party and develop a base because when
you`re on trouble --
MATTEHWS: Well, could he have ever gotten Boehner to the table with
him on any kind of deal to make a more moderate health care plan? A
Remember in the beginning of health care, we talked about 70 senators.
There was going to be some kind of -- we`d bring in Mike Enzi from Wyoming,
people like that?
ORNSTEIN: The whole thing was built around, when Max Baucus sat down
with Chuck Grassley to negotiate, seven months of fruitless negotiations,
the beginning ploy was we`re going to use your framework from 1993-`94.
You know, one of the things that I find so bizarre here is you`ve got
a health care plan built around private competition to drive down prices
and provide products.
ORNSTEIN: Which is what Republicans ought to embrace that because it
would advance their ideology. But he had no opportunity from the
beginning. When Robert Draper reported in his book that inaugural eve, we
had a strategy that they were going to vote against everything in unison, a
parliamentary minority party strategy basically killed all of that from the
MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the media. I`m not a media critic,
but I want to get your voice in here. Local media when it covers politics,
I`ve learned first hand, basically doesn`t have (INAUDIBLE) they don`t have
a lot of reporters. Some don`t have a political reporter anymore.
So, when one politician says something, they go to the other
politician running against him and they quote him, they quote the other guy
and then they say a lot of finger-pointing today and drop it.
MATTHEWS: They never explain who`s right. They never show any
discernment about what is said.
Is that a problem today with media, national, all objective,
mainstream media, simply says well, the Democrats, Republicans are fighting
ORNSTEIN: It`s a huge problem and it`s a problem because if you`ve
got some bad behavior, if you can`t report the truth of it and hold people
accountable, they`ll just keep doing it.
ORNSTEIN: But it is an enormously strong tendency in the national
media. It`s changed a little bit in the last few months. You know, when -
MATTHEWS: What drives it? Fear of being called liberal?
ORNSTEIN: You don`t want to be called liberal. I think it`s also
that you`re struggling for audiences now and you`re struggling advertising.
And if you`re labeled as bias, you may lose some portion of what you`ve
MATTHEWS: You know what else it is, separate views of reality. It`s
very hard to say it`s objective truth because a lot of people don`t accept
the sky color that we see.
Thank you so much, Norm Ornstein, one of the best ever.
We`ll be right back. A very funny guy too, usually. We`ll be right
back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
I`ll be on the "Today" show tomorrow morning, and then to Annapolis,
I`ll be at Sam`s Club to present my book "Tip and The Gipper: When Politics
Yesterday`s "Wall Street Journal" wrote a solid review of the book
that called it an "entertaining and insightful account of the relationship
between the speaker and the president. In 23 breezy and well-documented
chapters, it narrates the rise of those two politicians of Irish descent
and their lengthy battles."
Well, the key, of course, of those battles was the ability of Tip
O`Neill, the liberal, and President Reagan, the conservative, to finally
find common ground and compromise at the end of the day.
So, go out this weekend and get a copy. It`ll restore your faith in
American government and raise your love that`s already there for American-
style politics. It`s packed with the stories I witnessed personally in the
back rooms of Washington when I was a bit younger. It also re-inspire you
to how self-government in this country can really work.
Anyway, that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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