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updated 11/13/2013 10:13:37 AM ET 2013-11-13T15:13:37

HARDBALL
November 11, 2013
Guest: Clarence Page, Ryan Grim, Josh Green

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Time to attack.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. I think it`s time for the president to
stick it to his enemies. Forget this losing inch by inch and playing
defense and win this thing on offense.

Let me start by saying out loud who his enemies are. They`re not those who
push the racist argument that he`s a Kenyan, an East African who conned his
way into the American presidency, their argument that says Barack Obama
should have been deported as a criminal, not elected and reelected
president of the United States.

No, his true enemies are the backers and kissing cousins of the birthers,
the people like John Boehner, who refuse to stand up to them, who makes
common cause with the haters even as he positions himself as not quite one
of them, who keep their hands clean even as they benefit from the garbage
their birther buddies are throwing out at the latest right-wing feeding
time at the zoo.

Obama`s true enemies are those who back the three dozen states now pushing
voter suppression laws to make damn sure the country doesn`t go and elect
another back president or a progressive white president -- you know, this
generation`s equivalent of poll taxes and those discredited literacy tests,
anything to keep minorities from their voting rights.

And to this crowd, the Obama haters add to them those who gnaw on the
president`s health care bill with the hunger of starving rats but offer
nothing in its place except their crazed notions about bringing down the
government and destroying the country`s economy stature even as they deny
even a penny of credit to the president for zooming American stock market
right now.

These are the enemies, those who stand to benefit from all the anger,
hatred and indecency of the nasty right while claiming to be above them
when, in fact, they are below them for again and again humming along when
the worst of them, the true haters of the right, sing their racist and un-
American songs.

Ed Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania. David Corn is Washington bureau
chief for "Mother Jones" magazine. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

I want to talk with the governor. Governor, I think this president has
made a big mistake, first of all, in naming his health care bill "Obama
care," which has been used as a term of personal derision, especially by
those who hate him personally and use anything about his person to
discredit anything attached to him.

And then I go on. But I think what`s going on here is the right wing of
this country has been a big part of the Republican coalition, and not once
has Boehner or McConnell ever stood up and said, Those people are
unacceptable, in the way that Bill Buckley in the 1950s said anti-semitism
is not allowed in the American conservative coalition. Nobody says it.
Nobody stands up from the middle right and says, We ain`t part of your
crowd, you`re not part of ours.

Your thoughts.

ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I agree,
Chris. And I think it`s time for the president to go on the offensive. I
wouldn`t bother with the birther issue because every time some Republican
running for office says that the president wasn`t born in the United
States, all that does is get another independent voter or another moderate
Republican to shake their head and say, I can`t be with these wackos. So I
think that`s an issue --

MATTHEWS: Well, why --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why does Boehner or McConnell never say a word against them?
Why do the people who run for office on the Republican side never separate
themselves from them? Because they get their votes. That`s why.

RENDELL: Absolutely. They get their votes. But the birthers are out
there, and every time a birther`s out there, it helps our cause. It helps
us for 2014.

What I do think is the president should go on the offensive on voting
rights. He should go on the offensive, make them vote on an immigration
bill because that`s a bill that really will resonate.

MATTHEWS: Right. I agree.

RENDELL: If they vote that down, they`re losing Hispanic voters, and I
don`t care who their candidates are.

MATTHEWS: But don`t they worry about --

RENDELL: Make them vote on a jobs bill.

MATTHEWS: Well, I hope you agree with my point. The reason they don`t
want to do that, it forces them to choose between the haters out there, who
don`t want immigrants, and what the president is pushing.

RENDELL: Absolutely. But make them vote on that. You know, they`re
attacking the affordable health care act -- and you`re right, by the way.
The Affordable Care Act polls a lot better when it`s called the affordable
health care act than when it`s called "Obama care."

But make them vote on a jobs bill. And draw the distinction -- 41 times,
the Republicans in the House have wasted the nation`s time voting to repeal
the affordable health care act. But they haven`t passed a jobs bill. Send
them another jobs bill. Keep sending them jobs bills, and make them vote
on a jobs bill. And I think that`s --

MATTHEWS: I agree with that. I`ve been pushing that, too --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, anyway, what I want to do is just change the
conversation because we`re not going to get a report card --

RENDELL: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- on "Obama care," on health care through November 30th or
March. This is going to be an endless, endless woodpecker thing and the
president (INAUDIBLE) Anyway, the governor then mentioned voting rights. I
think President Obama has sort of a gopher pitch coming at him here.

Take the fight to the Republicans on the issue of voter suppression. Make
the party choose between honor or Reince Priebus.

Take a look at this map. Under the leadership of NRC chair Reince Priebus,
Republicans in more 35 states have advanced legislation in an effort to
suppress the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities.
Every single one of those bills were introduced by Republicans. That`s
according to the Advancement Project, an organization that tracks voting
rights.

There`s so much ripe fruit out there to stick it to them on -- their
attitudes about the birthers -- I think disagree with the governor on that.
I think they get away with it. They get all those crazy right-wing voters,
especially in the South, and they don`t then cost them a nickel. You know
why? They won`t challenge them.

Who the hell is Boehner to say -- I really -- (INAUDIBLE) Boehner say --
let`s take a look at what Boehner said about the birthers because I think
he`s vulnerable as hell on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": As the Speaker of the House,
as a leader, do you not think it`s your responsibility to stand up to that
kind of ignorance?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: David, it`s not my job to
tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen
to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s a leader!

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it`s not.

MATTHEWS: He`s speaker of the House. "It`s not our job to tell the
American people what to think." On war -- we got to go to war, they`re
willing -- quite willing to tell us when to go to war, on anything they
talk about. They tell us to vote for them. And now they say, I can`t tell
you whether the guy`s a Kenyan or not?

CORN: There are a couple things the president needs to do. I think you`re
right in terms of -- and the governor is right, too -- that he needs to
find new lines of attack. I don`t think much will be heard until at least
the Web site`s working. I think the first three things to do for the next
month -- I`m sorry, you don`t want to hear this, Chris --

MATTHEWS: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- worthy of conversation until we get the thing done. Go
ahead.

CORN: But nevertheless, I do think that, ultimately, going into 2014, he
will be judged on how effective "Obama care" is, and they have to get
moving on that real fast because if he talks about all these other
wonderful ideas, it`s too easy to say, But look at the Web site. So that
has to happen.

The other thing is that you didn`t mention is that I -- you know, we`ve
talked -- we`ve been talking about the birther thing for four years now. I
think, in addition to that, he has to come out and say, Listen, America
thinks that Washington is dysfunctional. Ted Cruz can go on Jay Leno last
Friday night and get laughs and applause for talking about how Washington
is dysfunctional.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but --

CORN: Wait a minute!

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: No, no. But let me finish.

MATTHEWS: That`s crazy!

CORN: I think the president has to get out there and say, Washington`s not
dysfunctional. It`s the Republican Party. There is a difference. You
have to pay attention to what`s going on here because the Republicans
benefit if everybody thinks Washington is just a mess. And he has to find
a way to transcend that, and whether it`s making the Web site work --

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s my --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: -- presenting a good agenda.

MATTHEWS: I think -- I think you -- I think -- let me just make my case.
You guys don`t have to agree with me. I look at the free ride the media
has been giving the Republican Party. They get -- these birthers are
treated as just Southern, usually out-of-it people, Gohmert -- he`s just a
joke. He doesn`t matter. And yet the right wing of the party, a quarter
of them, a third of them -- haters of Obama because of his background,
haters! They`re eating it up and voting for it! It works for them.

This decision to use three dozen states to go out there, including
Pennsylvania, to make sure blacks can`t vote and they have more whites
voting and more conservative older white vote, that`s systematic. On
health care, instead of playing frickin` defense, how about you go after
the Republicans, who have 40 million people they want to commit to the
emergency room? They don`t want to lift a finger for them!

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And the so-called independent media out there never brings it
up! They have discussion after discussion of "Obama care." They`re
scoring one half of the game. The other half of the game, when the
Republicans come to bat, they don`t even swing!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, they don`t even have an at bat!

CORN: No, they are --

MATTHEWS: Isn`t that worthy of a comment?

CORN: Yes. They are --

MATTHEWS: You never heard it on the news!

CORN: They`re overly focused on the Web site and what`s happening with the
cancellations --

MATTHEWS: You`re doing it again!

CORN: No, no, no!

MATTHEWS: There isn`t any Republican Web site!

CORN: No, no, no! Listen --

MATTHEWS: There`s nothing!

CORN: They`re not -- the media`s not focusing --

MATTHEWS: Oh!

CORN: -- on the hundreds of millions of Americans --

MATTHEWS: It`s hard to --

CORN: -- who are benefiting. But the White House, too, has not been
able --

MATTHEWS: You`re missing my --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I want to try the governor. Governor, maybe it`s hard for the
news to cover something that doesn`t exist. How do you cover day after day
the fact that the Republicans don`t have a health care plan? They`ve never
had one!

RENDELL: Well --

MATTHEWS: You have to go back to Nixon, who wanted to have an employer
mandate, and that never happened. You know, I don`t know how you cover
something, but if you`re going to cover a competition over who`s doing the
best job on health care, how do you ignore the fact that one team doesn`t
even do anything or even hope to do or promise to do?

RENDELL: Well --

MATTHEWS: Anything. Your thoughts.

RENDELL: You know, I think that`s a great point, Chris. And I think it`s
up to elected official Democrats -- mayors, governors -- who do have some
credibility in their homes, to say, Come on, guys. You`re attacking the
president, what`s your health care plan? You don`t have a health care
plan. So let`s try to make this baby work because it`s all we got.

And I think the president can`t do that himself. I think it`s time for
Democrats, and particularly local Democrats -- you know, people listen to
mayors. You know that, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I agree with you.

RENDELL: They listen to mayors. Where are the Democratic mayors saying,
Look, the Republicans haven`t offered you anything to solve a health care
system that`s terribly broken. We need a plan, and the Republicans have
offered nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- I was down in Atlanta -- Governor, I want you to start on
this because you know this better than anybody here. You`re an elected
official, a very successful politician.

Why doesn`t the president have a phalanx, a tong, if you will, a gang? A
gang, street corner name (ph) gang. Just call it a gang because that`s
what it is in political terms -- 20 or 30 men and women around the country,
governors, senators, members of Congress, prominent members of Congress,
who on a regular basis go out and attack the opponents, the Republicans,
for doing nothing and playing racial politics and every other game they
play, whether it`s vote suppression or it`s to play ball with the birthers,
or it`s having no health care plan or using government tactics like
shutting down the government or risking default on the national debt.

Why isn`t there a Greek chorus out there constantly pounding them? I don`t
hear a single -- is his fault, he doesn`t recruit? He doesn`t hang out?
He doesn`t have friends? Why aren`t there people out there saying what he
ought to be saying? I don`t get it.

RENDELL: I think there are people who would be willing to do it, but they
aren`t being recruited. I`ll give you a perfect example, Chris. The day
that Bill Clinton was impeached, that Saturday --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: -- the Democratic National Committee organized every single
city. The mayors, if we had a if we had a governor, all of the state
senators, we had -- in Philadelphia, we had about 80 public officials
standing behind me, and we decried the impeachment as purely political, a
waste of time --

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

RENDELL: -- not what the American people wanted in government. And that
happened in every major market across the country.

Why aren`t we doing stuff like that today? I don`t know if David has the
answer because it`s strange.

MATTHEWS: He has no friends! I mean active friends, I mean people like --
look, we know (INAUDIBLE) goes on television, does well. Schumer`s
dynamite on television. Boxer`s dynamite on television. Durbin`s a little
moderate, but he`s good on television. They`ve got a lot of people know
how to take -- make a point!

CORN: I mean --

MATTHEWS: They`re not doing it!

CORN: They`re -- I think they`re getting out there, but I don`t think --

MATTHEWS: They are?

CORN: You`ve seen them on this show!

MATTHEWS: Oh!

CORN: You`ve seen then --

MATTHEWS: I hear silence!

CORN: I mean, but at the same time --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- we`re working on health care. We`re trying. Oh!

CORN: By and large, I don`t think the White House has fully, you know,
joined the battle for -- the political cultural battle with the
Republicans. I think the president has been reluctant to do that because
he sees himself as president of all America. He doesn`t like coming across
as the angry guy. He wants to try to make deals. He wants to appeal (ph)
to people.

He did it a few times during the shutdown. You remember that. It seemed
effective. But when the shutdown`s over --

RENDELL: But David --

CORN: -- he goes back to a more --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- football question. A football --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- the Eagles won last night, beat Green Bay (INAUDIBLE) beat
them years ago -- 100 years ago.

Let me ask you this. Do you notice that the president`s party, your party,
tends to -- what do they do in football when they`re ahead in points, they
just want to kill the clock, so they -- they just fall down with the ball
to make sure nobody fumbles -- why does Obama`s team do that now? Does
somebody not tell them they`re not ahead, they`re not winning this game,
it`s not time to bury the ball? Why do they do it?

RENDELL: Yes. I think the political acumen in the White House right now
is lacking. There are people, David, who are willing to speak out. And it
shouldn`t be the president himself. He shouldn`t be the angry man.

MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree.

RENDELL: It should be Democrats, mayors, and governors, to stand up and
say, Come on, guys. He`s trying to change the health care system for the
better.

MATTHEWS: OK --

RENDELL: And nobody has put a decent plan on the table. So let`s get
behind the president --

MATTHEWS: OK --

RENDELL: -- and fix an American problem. We`ve got to do that all
across the country, city after city. It can`t be the president himself.
This is a time --

MATTHEWS: OK, great. I hope --

RENDELL: Chris used the word "phalanx." He needs a phalanx of supporters.

MATTHEWS: I hope they`re watching. Thanks so much, Governor Rendell, and
thank you, David Corn.

Coming up: When "60 Minutes" aired its report on Benghazi, if you can call
it that, Republicans didn`t see a camera they didn`t like so they could
attack President Obama again and again. Now that the story`s been
discredited 100 percent, look who`s got nothing to say.

Also, many Republicans -- they say they see Chris Christie as their party`s
savior, but not the Tea Partiers. They`re out to make sure that no one
who`s insufficiently right-wing gets the party`s nomination. Let`s face
it, they`re scared of this big guy.

And speaking of 2016, could Senator Elizabeth Warren actually go at it with
Hillary Clinton? This is a fascinating thing that`s buzzing now on the
Democratic Party left. How about a left-wing candidate -- that`s negative
(ph) -- but on the left going against a center-left candidate like Hillary?
That`d be interesting. The left would love to see that, I think, just to
make their points. We`ll see. And we`ll get that to that -- get to that
tonight, actually.

Finally, Republicans love to compare things they don`t like to slavery.
Well, the latest is the debt, if you can believe that. Republican Sarah
Palin`s onto that brilliant comment.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Scenes of utter devastation in the Philippine city of Tacloban.
The city took a direct hit from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful
storms on record. Witnesses in Tacloban say virtually every building was
destroyed of severely damaged. Look at that. And the death toll in
Tacloban alone is feared to be as high as 10,000 people. But remote areas
may have been hit just as hard.

Relief`s beginning to trickle into those areas, and you can help by
donating to one of the charities you see on your screen right now. And so
far, the U.S. military has sent in the Marines, along with food, water and
generators, but much more is needed. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Republicans are convinced they`ve
found Hillary Clinton`s Achilles heel, if you will, Benghazi. And if
you`re not convinced Republicans intend to pin that failure on her, here`s
a quick reminder, starting with the Senate hearing in February.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it`s inexcusable that you did not
know about this and that you did not read these cables. I would think, by
anybody`s estimation, Libya has to have been one of the hottest of hot
spots around the world. Not to know of the requests for securities (sic),
really, I think cost these people their lives. Their lives could have been
saved had someone been more available, had someone been aware of these
things, more on top of the job!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And the beat goes on. Dick Cheney, out promoting his book,
said, quote, "She clearly wasn`t hands on," referring to the secretary of
state, "and now she doesn`t want to be hands on, and she`s doing everything
she can to avoid responsibility for what clearly fell into her bailiwick.
And what I always recall is her testimony saying, `What difference does it
make?` and the fact of the matter is, it makes a huge difference." That`s
Cheney talking."

Senator Kelly Ayotte, appearing on Fox in August, said, "Where was Hillary
Clinton in all of this? I mean, the fact that she was unaware that her own
ambassador was saying that the consulate couldn`t withstand a coordinated
attack -- that was never answered to a satisfactory answer."

Anyway, and back in May, per Politico, Senator Lindsey Graham posted on his
Facebook page the following. "I think the dam is about to break on
Benghazi. We`re going to find political manipulation seven weeks before an
election. We`re going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to
the State Department, including Hillary Clinton."

Well, so you can imagine Republican glee when two weeks ago, CBS`s "60
Minutes" broadcast a segment critical of how the Benghazi situation was
handled. Here`s that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBS did this story on Benghazi, and I see criticism
from the left, where they all -- You guys are covering a phony scandal.
"60 Minutes" doesn`t cover phony scandals.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: And the "60 Minutes" report recently
that came out --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I watched this report last night, I thought,
Well, about time!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine if we knew all these things before the
election?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Can you only imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re jumping -- they`re jumping with glee when "60
Minutes" reported initially. But big development. Last night, "60
Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan delivered an apology for that report,
including in (ph) it (ph) a source who misled them about his whereabouts
the night of the Benghazi attack. Here`s Lara.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA LOGAN, "60 MINUTES": After our report aired, questions arose about
whether his account was true. When an incident report surfaced, it told a
different story about what he did the night of the attack.

Davies denied having anything to do with that incident report and insisted
the story he told us was not only accurate, it was the same story he told
the FBI when they interviewed him.

On Thursday night, when we discovered the account he gave the FBI was
different than what he told us, we realized we had been misled, and it was
a mistake to include him in our report.

For that, we are very sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, not the Republicans! The report may be discredited, but
don`t count on Republicans to stop hitting Hillary Clinton with the very
evidence that`s now been discredited.

Anyway, joining me now right now is The Huffington Post`s Ryan Grim and
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Chicago Tribune" Clarence Page.

Ryan, tell us about this thing that -- what happened, the politics of it.
I`m not a media critic, but the politics of this, what do you know about
how the Republicans jumped so -- with such alacrity on the "60 Minutes"
report and now have faded into silence ever since it`s been discredited?
Your thoughts?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, the Benghazi issue had faded, much
to the chagrin of a lot of congressional Republicans.

And the second that "60 Minutes" aired this report -- and they knew in
advance that this report was coming -- they jumped all over it. Lindsey
Graham, for instance, said that he was going to put a hold on every nominee
that the president wanted anywhere in his administration until he got more
witnesses to come to the Senate to talk about what happened at Benghazi.

So, they -- they -- they immediately jumped on this, hoping that they could
-- they could re-exploit this tragedy.

MATTHEWS: So what do they got left after the eyewitness that wasn`t an
eyewitness disappears now off to the Klondike or wherever he went off to --
he went off to hide somewhere, literally, maybe in the Klondike. He`s
hiding somewhere. What do they got left on the right-wing side of this
case? Do they a case against Secretary Clinton or not or the president?

GRIM: You know, four people died. You know, and that`s an absolute
tragedy. And the -- she`s secretary of state and so ultimately takes
responsibility for everything that happens to people under her command.

So, they certainly have that. But it -- it -- how much they have depends
on who they`re talking to. If they`re on Breitbart.com or they`re on the
right wing e-mail -- e-mail chain echo chamber, then they can say whatever
they want, because there`s no kind of institutional fact-checking going on.

But this certainly dramatically damages them when it comes to the
mainstream media at least.

MATTHEWS: Well, last point on the facts here because you know them. This
constant demand by Lindsey Graham for more witnesses from the State
Department, people who were there at the time of the attack and survived
it, is that a credible case he`s making, he wants to talk to more people,
or is it just stretching this thing out?

GRIM: The White House has provided people for him to talk to. I think
what is driving this is that if you can get people to talk publicly, then
it leads the nightly news. Then it`s back in the papers.

So I think it`s a P.R. strategy. I don`t think that there are really
questions that he really has that haven`t -- that haven`t been answered by
the administration that would be by bringing these kind of people to --
over to the Senate.

MATTHEWS: OK.

What do you make of this, Clarence? What I see is the brilliant conflating
they do all the time. Iraq, well, we -- oh, we had 9/11, so we have to go
to 9/11, even though they had nothing to do with it. Or John Kerry was a
vivid anti-war advocate against the war afterwards, so go after his service
record.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Right.

MATTHEWS: And people get confused. Oh, what did he do wrong? Oh, I don`t
know, something to do with Vietnam. They get confused because they don`t
watch the news every three hours.

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: In this case, they think, well, if they say that Hillary`s
people or the White House somehow put out the word that it looked more like
a protest turned into a demonstration, turned an attack rather than
something that began as an attack, they can somehow say Hillary Clinton
killed Chris Stevens, because he died.

PAGE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: And that seems to me what they`re up to.

PAGE: Well, what they`re up to is keeping the flames of anger alive.

There are no new revelations now, Chris. The only new completely thing
that "60 Minutes" had was the testimony of this one guy who`s now been
discredited. The rest of the report -- remember, this is not something
that is laid out there with no investigation. We have had official
investigations.

We have had congressional hearings. And there -- and nothing new really
has come out. Yes, four people died. But Republicans are conflating the
whole tragedy in ways that show who they think is going to be the
Democratic nominee in 2016.

MATTHEWS: And what`s their worst-case goal? And what`s their worst-case
goal? In other words, what are they -- what is their ultimate dream that
they can get against Hillary and the president?

PAGE: Well, of course, you -- you touched on it before, some kind of
scandal before she even runs for president -- for president.

But the tragedy, Chris, is that there is more to be known about the
Benghazi episode. But the story, whatever the real story is as it comes
out, they have already discredited it now because they have cried wolf so
much.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: So that it becomes even less of a story now, but it`s a great fund-
raiser for the right.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

And let me just suggest something. And I`m not taking sides because it
remains murky for me, but, Ryan, it seems that Chris Stevens, who was a
really well -- everybody liked him. They thought he was a great diplomat
and obviously courageous, went into a dangerous situation, knew he did it,
made a decision. That`s what ambassadors do.

They make decisions about where to go and what to do. And they take risks
depending on the calculation they make about how risky it is. He made the
decision to go visit that facility. How can you blame somebody back in
Washington for what erupted at the moment, apparently? Your thoughts.

GRIM: Well, operating in a war zone, you know, carries with it certain
risks. And you try to minimize those risks, but, you know, you can`t
completely eliminate them.

And what you do is you put in -- you put in place people that you trust to
make the right decisions. They trusted his judgment. It was his judgment
that he would be safe there. He wasn`t wrong -- I mean, he was wrong, and
he paid the ultimate penalty. But the problem -- the problem that people
like Lindsey Graham have is that they want to try to have it both ways.

Either Hillary Clinton is manipulating this situation or she was hands-off.
I mean, they have tried -- Lindsey Graham in your clip, he presented it as
both. But it can`t be both. You`re either incompetent or you`re
competent. And they want to try to have it both ways.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think they`re gnawing on this baby.

Anyway, thank you, Ryan Grim, for that latest report. Looks like CBS has
got a problem. But it doesn`t stop the right from using the fact they have
a problem. They can`t like it never happened.

PAGE: Or -- yes. Don`t let the lack of facts stop a good story, right?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think that`s, sadly, true.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you Clarence Page.

PAGE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, Ryan Grim.

Up next: Sarah Palin compares the debt. Why not? If you can`t do Hitler,
do slavery. I don`t know what that connection is.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Sarah Palin spoke at a fund-raiser out in Iowa on Saturday, where she
described government spending as a Democratic marketing tool, actually
marketing ploy designed to give away, as she said, free stuff. Of course,
she could have stopped after that analogy, but she went on to compare the
federal debt to slavery. Listen up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Free stuff is so seductive.

Why do you think marketers use free stuff to bring people in? Free stuff
is such a strong marketing ploy. Our free stuff today is being paid for by
taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that note
comes due -- and this isn`t racist, so try -- try it anyway. This isn`t
racist, but it`s going to be like slavery when that note is due. Right?
We are going to be beholden to a foreign master.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well.

Anyway, up next, right on the -- actually, fight on the right. The Tea
Party wants to make sure Chris Christie or anyone else who might appeal to
the middle politically doesn`t get the Republican nomination.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.

The U.S. is pledging $20 million for relief efforts in the Philippines
after that devastating typhoon ripped across the islands on Friday.
Additionally, the Pentagon says it`s sending Aircraft Carrier USS George
Washington and other Navy ships specifically equipped for disaster relief
to that region.

Secretary of State Kerry will brief a Senate panel later on this week on
failed talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Lawmakers are
weighing whether tougher sanctions are needed -- Back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Republicans have a problem. There`s no one in their party right now who
appeals to the political middle of this country. And the one guy who
might, and may well, Chris Christie, is getting pummelled by the Tea Party
right, of course.

My colleague Joe Scarborough is out with a brand-new book called "The Right
Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics - and Can
Again." Joe writes a tough critique of today`s Republican Party and says
the party can get back on the track by following the pragmatic and moderate
approach of Ike and Reagan.

I think he meant politically moderate. Indeed, Republicans are at risk of
becoming a permanent minority party if they don`t broaden their appeal the
way those two presidents did so successfully. But they did it by
compromising when it was necessary. And it was those compromises, Joe
Scarborough writes, that "led Ike to Reagan to historical greatness."

Joe Scarborough is host of MSNBC`s great show "MORNING JOE," a show that
could not possibly exist at this present time, in the past or in the
future, without himself, which is a great argument for being on this
planet.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You cannot be replaced.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Although that`s a dangerous thing.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the book.

And I see this wonderful coincidence of the title of the book, "The Right
Path," and then I see Ronald Reagan walking down the path.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So he`s on the right path.

SCARBOROUGH: There you go.

MATTHEWS: And tell me, how do you find another Reagan? How do you find
someone who can win, and not only win, but win really big the second term
and leave the country with a positive legacy for having been president?
Your thoughts.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, you know, Reagan wasn`t Reagan, as you
remember very well, even in the summer of 1980.

A lot of people inside the Carter White House and most people in the media
didn`t think Reagan had a shot of being elected anything. But, once he got
into office -- it`s great talking to you about this, Chris, because you
were there and you saw it up close.

Ronald Reagan was extraordinarily conservative. Tip O`Neill and he
couldn`t have been any further apart. And yet Reagan figured day in and
day out how to either fight Tip O`Neill and fight the Democratic Congress
or strike deals when he knew that he could get his 80 percent, but had to
give the 20 percent to the other side.

He was pragmatic, and he always found the middle of the American political
system. There is this great line from David Stockman`s book "The Triumph
of Politics" from way back in I guess the early `80s where Reagan turned to
his advisers and he said, guys, I don`t wear the black hat.

Reagan always believed that, if he was going to be successful, if he was
going to change the country, if he was going to make the country more
conservative, he always had to be popular and he had to win elections. He
knew how to do it. And Ike knew how to do it.

We have forgotten as a party how to do it, because, quite frankly, we`re
more interested in political bloodbaths within our own party and conducting
ideological witch-trials than we are reaching out to the middle of America.

MATTHEWS: Well, the only happy picture I think from last year`s election,
which didn`t make anybody really happy, 2012, was the picture of the --
Governor Christie and the president walking down the beach, because it
showed that Christie could play politics.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Obviously, the president wanted to be there. That was an easy
one for him. It helped him -- it helped him look good up Northeast.

But for Christie to do it showed shrewdness, self-interest, and, most
importantly, smart politics.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it.

And you are exactly right. That`s what not only the people of New Jersey
wanted to see at that time, but the people in America wanted to see. A lot
of Republicans were angry with Chris Christie for doing that. I certainly
understand why people in the Romney campaign would have been miffed.

Maybe it seemed to them that he did it with a little too much glee. But
here`s the difference between Mitt Romney in 2012 and Ronald Reagan in
1980. If this had happened under Jimmy Carter`s watch in 1980, Ronald
Reagan would have been the first to be smart enough to praise the
president, even if that president were Jimmy Carter.

Romney never knew exactly how to do that. Reagan knew how to do it. When
you give your opponent their 20 percent, sometimes, that actually ends up
helping you more than helping them. Bill Clinton was a master of giving us
Republicans our due when we came up with a good idea --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: -- whether it was welfare reform, whether it was the
balanced budget plan. He embraced it, he praised us, and then made that
idea his own, and his numbers shot up. And that`s why.

MATTHEWS: Well, the right wing has taken shots, of course, at Governor
Christie in the days since his big reelection win Tuesday.

And some of his potential 2016 rivals are skeptical, they say, about
whether Christie is conservative enough to be the Republican Party`s
standard-bearer. Let`s listen to some of the chatter here.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The road to the nomination for a moderate is
actually pretty difficult, because a lot of the Republican primaries are
very conservative.

And so I think someone who`s most well known for, you know, grabbing up
federal money as much as they can get, probably, I think, that kind of
attitude may or may not go off so well in a Republican primary.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Every race is particular to the state that
it`s run in. So, there are factors in New Jersey that I think are
individual to that race. And clearly he was able to speak to that and to
the -- and to the hopes and aspirations of people within New Jersey.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: He was a successful governor in New Jersey.
Now, does that transcend to the -- the country? We will -- we will see in
later years and months to come.

We`re all different states. Is a -- is a conservative in New Jersey a
conservative in the rest of the country?

PALIN: I would never put my faith and hope in any one individual
politician. Oh, please, not -- not any of them. There is no Ronald Reagan
on the scene today.

New Jersey, a blue state, has a Republican governor. Right on. Beats the
alternative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You know what hit me, Joe, when I watched that sort of panoply
of attack on him, I said, instead of thinking any one of those guys are
going to win, especially Rand Paul, who has a good shot of winning the
nomination and thinking I`ll need Christie when I go to the general, they
merely see him as a rival before they get there, so not looking at him as a
potential ally. They can`t afford that. They`re thinking, oh my God, he
might knock me out of this race. That`s what I hear from Rand Paul. I was
surprised at that comment by him.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MORNING JOE: You know, Rand Paul, I`m surprised by some
of the things he said. I want to say something I don`t say on my morning
show, as you know.

I agree with Sarah Palin. We got a blue state. We`ve got a Republican
governor. Right on. Everybody should be embracing it, just like Sarah
Palin said.

I got to say also Marco Rubio touched on a much larger truth. Chris
Christie, yes, Chris Christie figured how to win in New Jersey. He figured
out how to reach out to a population that had elected a pro-life
conservative, since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. Just like Ronald Reagan in
California in 1966, figured out a way to beat one of the most
transformative, one of the most popular California governors ever, Pat
Brown.

So, the question is, does Christie have those political skills moving
forward?

I`ve got to say one thing about Rand Paul, and one thing, suggesting that
Chris Christie was somehow too moderate to win the nomination. I`ve got to
say, 2008 and 2012, we had two guys with much more moderate records than
Chris Christ who got elected.

And this whole idea that the hard right somehow wins nomination for the
Republican Party is just wrong. They win Iowa and --

MATTHEWS: Don`t you love the way people get tagged, Joe? Like Bob Casey
of Pennsylvania, a Democrat. He was called a conservative because he was
pro-life. On every other single issue, he`s a complete social Democrat, on
the left of the Democratic Party all the way.

And this guy, because Christie thought it made sense to help New Jersey
rather than not help New Jersey after Sandy --

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- he`s called a moderate.

The guy is not big on construction. We know he wasn`t for the tunnel going
to New York.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

MATTHEWS: We know that the guy is a tough tax guy. He`s tough as hell on
the teachers unions.

I don`t see where this moderate term tagged on the guy, unless they want to
beat him.

SCARBOROUGH: I really -- I don`t understand either, and I don`t think
that`s going to work. Again, you see it in the Republican nomination all
the time where, yes, it starts out a lot of conservative talk, occupies the
mainstream media, also occupies a lot of voters in the early voting states.
Then it turns South, and then, it goes up to the Midwest. It goes up to
the Northeast, and you get the more m mainstream Republicans who are going
to like Chris Christie.

This race is wide open. I will tell you this, though, Chris. Here`s the
most important thing. Republicans aren`t going to win again if we only
elect the Chris Christie wing or if we only elect the Rand Paul wing.
We`ve got to unite these two wings together. We`ve been engaged in a
circular firing squad over the last three or four years.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: We had ideological witch trials. Commercials being run
saying if you don`t agree with our specific tactic on how to end Obamacare,
you`re not sufficiently conservative. I suggest --

MATTHEWS: I got an idea. This will drive you crazy. How about Chris
Christie and Louie Gohmert? What do you think? That`s a ticket.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. You`d like to ticket, wouldn`t you, Chris Matthews?

MATTHEWS: I would love that one. That would be colorful, a colorful
ticket. We`d be able to cover it well.

SCARBOROUGH: We really - you know what? We really don`t know who`s going
to be elected. I know in 2007 we were all talking about at least on the
morning show about the matchup between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton.
We`re not going to know for a very long time.

Here`s the one thing I do know -- if Republicans are going to win in 2016,
it`s going to require them to unite the party the way Reagan did. And what
does that mean? That means we`re going to need a nominee that both Ted
Cruz and Colin Powell can both support.

That nominee is out there somewhere. We`ve got to find him or her. And
when we do, we`ll have a great shot of taking back the White House for the
first time in eight years.

MATTHEWS: It`s great having you on Joe Scarborough. You are my
doppelganger. Thanks so much for being on.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: The morning version of sanity. Anyway, thank you.

The book`s called "The Right Path." I`m holding it up. That`s what you
do. You hold it up and show.

This is a really good book about how Republicans can win, if that is your
cup of tea, having Republicans win.

Anyway, up next, would progressives stick with Hillary Clinton if Elizabeth
Warren challenged her for the nomination in 2016? A little battle here
between left and middle left or left and center left?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Obama commemorated Veterans Day today by laying a
wreath in Arlington National Cemetery and making a promise to our country`s
veterans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s our promise to you
and all who`ve served -- to be there to support you when you come home
every step of the way. And as a nation, we will strive to be worthy of the
sacrifices that you`ve made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Our commander in chief.

The president also paid tribute to 107-year-old Army veteran, 107-year-old
Army veteran -- catch this -- who served in World War II. He was at Pearl
Harbor. He was in Okinawa, and Iwo Jima, all of those places.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

For months now, the Hillary Clinton 2016 momentum has been building, of
course. Major Democratic figures like Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and Nancy
Pelosi have publicly urged her to run. Grassroots groups have set up super
PACs.

And many political observers note that unlike in 2008, when Barack Obama
was seen as the Democratic rock star, there isn`t a real alternative
waiting in the wings to go against Hillary, or is there?

"The New Republic" has a provocative article now out there arguing that
liberal icon Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts, could be gearing
up to challenge Clinton.

Quote, "If Hillary Clinton runs and retains her ties to Wall Street, Warren
will be more likely to join the race, not less. Warren is shrewd enough to
understand the future of the Democratic Party is at stake in 2016. At age
64, she knows if Hillary wins and populates yet another administration with
heirs to Robert Rubin, it will be at least eight years before there`s
another chance to reclaim the party. She has an immense, I can`t put it in
words, a sense of destiny, says a former aid. If Hillary or the man on the
moon is not representing her stuff and her people don`t have a seat at the
table, she`ll do what she can to make sure it`s represented."

Well, Joy Reid is with TheGrio.com and an MSNBC contributor. And Josh
Green is senior political editor at "Bloomberg Businessweek."

Both of you, I want you both to espouse possible course -- a possible
course in the next two years whereby Elizabeth warren runs for president
with or without an opponent named Hillary Clinton.

JOSH GREEN, BLOOMBERG BUSINESWEEK: Well, it`s easy. I mean, Elizabeth
warren`s political career, her career in the Senate has been all about
trying to tilt the powers in Washington and Wall Street away from big banks
and financiers and toward the middle class.

MATTHEWS: And she`s a hero to people on the left.

GREEN: She`s a hero to people, but she`s used her spot as a senator to
harangue these regulators and get these issues on the front page. Nothing
would give her more power in the media celebrity sphere than making herself
a Democratic presidential candidate.

MATTHEWS: Where she is. I said she was a hero to the left and others,
videos of her taking on TV anchors or speaking on the Senate floor become
viral hits. Here she was on the eve of the government shutdown, taking on
Republicans over health care in a video that`s been watched millions of
times online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I see things like this and I
wonder what alternate reality some of my colleagues are living in. So, let
me be very clear about what is happening in the real world.

The ACA is the law of the land. Millions of people are counting on it,
people who need health care coverage, people who need insurance policies
that don`t disappear just when they are at their sickest. Women will get
insurance coverage for birth control.

The law is here to stay, and it will stay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joy, what`s that do for you?

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, you know what? I think that Elizabeth
Warren is undoubtedly a rock star. She`s a political star. That was
extremely compelling. She represents that issue with a singularity of
purpose that has the potential to make her a truly consequential senator on
a Teddy Kennedy level, and I think she has that potential in the United
States Senate.

I question whether in terms of running for president, she would need a
couple things that I don`t yet see, one of which would be a huge grassroots
money machine. Let`s face it, Barack Obama`s stardom was backed by huge
amounts of money, and I don`t see yet, at least for Elizabeth Warren, that
kind of grassroots core.

And the second thing is a breath of a base. Elizabeth Warren is a hero to
the liberal Democratic Party, but mostly the white liberal part of the
party.

And as I look at that primary calendar and they take the primaries down
South -- let`s say she won Iowa, then she has to face a huge swath of
Southern states where she`s going to need black and brown votes. You`ve
got Nevada and Arizona angling to maybe go earlier. There`s not another
big primary like a California until potentially June.

So, I see a calendar not necessarily in her favor and an infrastructure
that`s going to be owned by the Clintons, plus the Obama machine.

MATTHEWS: While you have the stand, joy, her gender, you skipped the one
most people point to initially, of the three you mentioned, or the two you
mentioned. The first one`s gender. What do you make of that? I mean,
there`s no guy, if you will, out there challenging Hillary that I can see,
except Vice President Biden, whose purposes are unclear right now, but
nobody in the field, in senate or governorships who`s talking about running
really.

REID: Yes, or maybe Cuomo, O`Malley, but nobody that`s a huge star.

Look, on the gender thing, here`s the problem -- she and Hillary both bring
that. And I believe politics is about the hungriest base. In 2008, when
Barack Obama talked about that dream that was written in the founding
documents, he was speaking directly to the heart of African-Americans who
were hungry to have that office, and to young people who are hungry to have
that office. He wasn`t the liberal. It was John Edwards who was the
liberal guy.

But when Elizabeth Warren is running as the woman, Hillary has that, too,
and women are the hungry base, I believe, going into 2016, and Hillary`s
got electability. That`s a powerful argument for women.

MATTHEWS: And President Barack Obama was also the hero to the `60s people.
I`m talking for `em right now, OK?

REID: Yes, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I`m talking to `em.

REID: That post-1964 generation, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Your thought?

GREEN: I think it`s a mistake to think about this only in terms of can
Elizabeth Warren win? I think the real reason she might want to run is
because if she did, her platform I think would instantly become a litmus
test --

MATTHEWS: Well, that would be the Ralph Nader argument, without dividing
the party --

GREEN: Well, I would liken it to Ross Perot, right? There`s a man who ran
for president, whose big issue, deficit reduction, was a shaping force of
the campaign, was later taken up by Bill Clinton --

MATTHEWS: OK. What`s the (INAUDIBLE) occupy in all that action on the
left? We saw so much -- it certainly helped bring Mitt Romney down. His
47 percent killed him.

GREEN: I think it`s a radical reflection of what Elizabeth Warren stands
for in the Senate, an anger at Wall Street powers, an idea that some
fundamental wrong is being allowed to perpetuate itself, that they have too
much power and the scales need to be tilted back towards middle class.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re making a point and Hillary Clinton is going to
have to touch that base. You have to that base.

Thank you so much, Joy Reid. As always, I think you`re getting ahead of me
on 2016, thinking it through, by the way. He`s trying to go into Nevada.
She`s ahead of me again.

I`m not patronizing. You have thought it through more than me.

Joy Reid, thank you, and, Josh Green, thank you for the intellectualism
here.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: "Let Me Finish" tonight with this:

I just got back from Atlanta, Georgia, and the big book festival down at
the JCC down there. The people could not have been nicer or more
enthusiastic.

Well, tomorrow, I`m in New York for the Hudson Union Society.

"Tip and The Gipper: When Politics Worked", this is a story of my growing
up in politics. It`s just gotten great reviews in "The Wall Street
Journal" and in "The Washington Post."

With the holiday season, of course, it`s a perfect gift for HARDBALL fans.
It will remind the reader how great American politics still can be. David
Letterman is having me on Wednesday to talk about it.

Anyway, 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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