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updated 1/28/2014 3:23:33 PM ET 2014-01-28T20:23:33

HARDBALL
Date: January 27, 2014

Guests: Timothy Schwartz, Dana Milbank, Tim Schwartz, Frank Pallone,
Bill Pascrell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Don`t mess with Bill.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

We`ll get to the latest on the Chris Christie George Washington Bridge
scandal in just a minute.

But "Let Me Start" tonight with the Rand Paul punch at Bill Clinton. He
said the former president stands guilty even today of predatory behavior
in his relations back in the 1990s with former White House intern Monica
Lewinsky. He described Clinton as, quote, "someone who takes advantage
of a young girl in his office," and asks how it squares with the
Democratic charge that it`s the Republicans who are waging a war on
women.

Well, this direct personal shot at the Clintons shows that Senator Rand
Paul is ready to take on the front-leading Democratic candidate as if
they were just another set of obstacles in his way. It shows he`s not
afraid to duke it out, hitting the potential Democratic candidate on a
point of recognized vulnerability.

Question. At what stage of the 2016 campaign will this help or hurt
Rand Paul? Will it be in the next several days and weeks, when he has a
chance to fill the gap being created by the demise of Chris Christie?
Will it grab him the network spotlight at tomorrow night`s State of the
Union? Will it help him win the Republican nomination when the party
meets in the summer of 2016? Will it be something he wants to come up
if he`s standing on the debate stage with Democratic nominee Hillary
Clinton in the autumn of 2016?

Let`s tout this fight. Was Rand Paul right to go with the sucker punch?
Will the trash talk at the weigh-in be good or bad for him once he`s
actually in the ring?

Howard Fineman`s editorial director for the Huffing Post Media Group and
an MSNBC political analyst. And Joy Reid -- boy, is Joy Reid joy --

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: She`s managing editor of TheGrio and is now the new host of
the 2:00 PM superstar Eastern hour of MSNBC. Congratulations, my
colleague, Joy Reid -- super-colleague

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Thank you, my friend. I appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: And here is -- well, here is what Senator Rand Paul said
yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS" when he was asked about comments his wife
made about Bill Clinton. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The Democrats, one of their big issues is
they`ve concocted and says Republicans are committing a war on women.
One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses
shouldn`t prey on young interns in their office.

And I think, really, the media seems to have given President Clinton a
pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an
intern in his office! There is no excuse for that. And that is
predatory behavior, and it should be -- it should be something we
shouldn`t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a
young girl in his office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: The press gave Bill Clinton the pass on Monica Lewinsky?
What planet were you living on?

Anyway, Paul went on the defend hitting the Monica Lewinsky issue.
Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Yes, I think it`s a factor. Now, it`s not Hillary`s fault and --

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": But it should be an issue -
-

PAUL: -- but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton in history.

GREGORY: Right. But is it something that Hillary Clinton should be
judged on, if she were a candidate in 2016?

PAUL: Yes. No, I`m not saying that. This was with regard to the
Clintons. And sometimes, it`s hard to separate one from the other. But
I would say with that regard to his place in history, that it certainly
is a discussion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about this, surely not in moral terms, Joy,
or in politically deep philosophical terms, as a sucker punch, which is
what it was, although he was simply backing up his wife, his spouse, in
this case.

Howard, he puts this punch out there. I go to it in very simple tactic
(ph). Down the road, I have a different view. Tomorrow night, when we
do State of the Union, and we`re on -- the cameras of every network are
going to go right to one person in that audience, Rand Paul, when Obama
-- because he`s the guy that sucker punched the probable Democratic
nominee for next time.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Yes. He sucker punched him, trash talking, as you said. Rand Paul is
great at getting short-term publicity, and he thinks in terms of short-
term publicity. And this was a brilliant move, if your goal is to
excite the Tea Party base --

MATTHEWS: Who hate everybody on the Democratic side.

FINEMAN: -- who hates everybody, whether -- and if you`re not talking
about Barack Obama, if you`re not talking about Michelle Obama, then
talk about the Clintons. That`ll do well in the Tea Party base.

MATTHEWS: Because? Why do they like this?

FINEMAN: They like it because they view the Clintons as part --

MATTHEWS: They`re going win!

FINEMAN: Yes. They view them as the very definition of everything they
despise about the role of government in American life and about --

MATTHEWS: OK --

FINEMAN: -- the values that the Clintons and the Obamas hold dear.

MATTHEWS: I hold -- I -- well, before I ask you, Joy -- and again,
congratulations -- I have this view of why they do it. I think they`re
looking at a big loss in 2016, the Republicans. They don`t think they
can beat Hillary Clinton. Their own men (ph), their own wives are
saying, Well, you know, give her a break, and let`s not be so nasty.
And there`s all kinds of crosscurrents in this election coming up that
we`re not even familiar with because no woman`s ever been at this
precipice, right at the edge of grabbing the presidency and taking it
against probable weak opponents.

So this guy comes out and says, At least I`m going to fight them. I may
lose, but I`m going down fighting. What about the tactic, first step,
right in the next couple of days? Do you agree with me he`s going to be
the focus of attention tomorrow night?

REID: No, absolutely. Not only does Rand Paul want to be the focus of
attention at the State of the Union tomorrow night, he wants every time
the media reports on another "war on women" story for them to -- the
next thought to be Bill Clinton. He`s trying to use -- you know, to use
a football metaphor, sort of a prevent defense --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REID: -- so that this becomes a ready made answer to any question
about the war on women. But here`s the problem with that. Number one,
Clinton hatred, as it regards Bill Clinton, is a lot less potent now
than it was before. You know, Rand Paul pretty much appeals to a
younger cohort of the Republican audience. They probably barely
remember the Monica Lewinsky affair. Trying to reeducate the public to
Bill Clinton circa 1997-1998 just to me doesn`t really fit his brand.
He`s supposed to be the guy that attracts the young libertarians. Being
the chief scold of Bill Clinton doesn`t strike me as a way to do that.

And the second part is, and it gets to what David Gregory was trying to
ask him, how does any of this impact Hillary Clinton? It`s easy to tell
them apart. She has had a completely separate and distinct career.
She`s been secretary of state. She has been a United States senator.
Are you telling me that she is simply just an offshoot of Bill Clinton
and that she should be judged by him? That`s insulting.

MATTHEWS: That`s a smart argument. But is the argument he`s making
more delicate and even more narrow? He is saying this guy shouldn`t be
allowed to come back to the White House. Isn`t that what he`s saying?
He`s directly attacking Bill`s right to come in as a spouse. I mean,
maybe I`m rereading what she said --

REID: No not only that --

MATTHEWS: -- his wife said, but I think they`re pretty clear about
that, the both of them, the two Pauls, right, Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, yes. He`s -- what Rand Paul is saying to his base is
that, We don`t want people with those kinds of values. We don`t want
those people with those kinds of values back in the White House.

And yes, he`s definitely trying to make Hillary answer for Bill. But
the other risk in doing that is that Hillary Clinton -- when you put
Hillary Clinton into that role of the bearer of the burden of Bill
Clinton, she`s done superbly well.

MATTHEWS: I know.

FINEMAN: They`ve also been together for 40 years. And if you make a
victim out of Hillary Clinton, that is exactly the worst thing for any
opponent to do.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to you on this story because I think
there`s a question here which we`re going to be talking about for months
and years now, it looks like. The Clintons are on the road back to the
White House. I think we all assume that. If they choose not to or
Secretary Clinton chooses, for all kinds of reasons, this isn`t what she
wants to do, fine. But it`s a good bet that she`s coming back, right?

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They`re both coming back. And so the Republicans have to
shoot at the weakest link. So (INAUDIBLE) do what any army does. You
go for the -- what do the animals do in the jungle? I was just over in
Africa. You go for the smallest -- the one you can kill.

But I think it`s a mistake for this reason. And I also want to ask you
this. If you were Hillary Clinton, wouldn`t you do the opposite of what
Al Gore did in 2000, run as a team, just say, Look, we`re together. I
love this guy. He`s a good man, and you`re not for making a shot like
this. Just total defense has always struck me as the smartest defense -
- total defense.

REID: And it`s also the family values argument because if he`s trying
to encroach upon the religious right part of the base by going after
Bill Clinton`s morality, well, the other thing that a lot of that
believes in is heterosexual marriage. And these guys --

MATTHEWS: And fidelity --

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Well, and fidelity, obviously. But she stuck with him. Look,
the -- I think that this strategy is problematic, but I do see your
point that part of what I think Rand Paul was trying to do is to try to
keep the "war on women" rhetoric out of the mouth of Hillary Clinton.
This is also a shot across her bow to say, If you try to run on the
basis of your gender and try to rally other women around you using "war
on women" rhetoric, well, here`s an available way to blunt those
attacks, to actually make it harder for Hillary to make the arguments
that are really obviously available to her on the ideas of the war on
women --

(CROSSTALK)

REID: -- we`ll get you on your husband.

MATTHEWS: And what you`re saying, I guess, is that you don`t just throw
the women into (ph) the entire gender, which is the majority vote in
this country. Oh, yes, Hillary can have them. I mean, that would be a
pretty stupid political move.

FINEMAN: I -- I -- I think that`s what Rand Paul may be trying, but I
think in the long run, it won`t work because the issue --

MATTHEWS: Then he loses.

FINEMAN: The issue of gender equality, the issue of opportunities for
women, the question of Hillary as the first woman with a serious shot
here -- I think they all transcend that.

And also, the other thing that the base believes in, the Republican base
believes in, is redemption. And they believe in the road back. And the
Republicans ought to be careful what they wish for here because if Bill
and Hillary handle this the way I think they`re capable of handling it,
it`ll be one of the great soap opera redemption stories of all time.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me take the soporific out of it for a second and
just put in the hard -- what does this country need more than anything,
Joy and Howard, more than anything in the world? We don`t need
perfection. We don`t need sure winners. We need resilience.

REID: You need results, too.

MATTHEWS: We need resilience. We need people that can come back from
problems, people that have come back from problems before, have come
back from failure and humiliation, like they`ve done again and again and
again.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: This is a family, both of them now, who know how to come back
from defeat and how to come back from humiliation. Mistakes -- they
come back from mistakes. And that`s what this country knows it has to
do in 2016. No matter what goes on between now and then, we know that`s
going to be a winning story.

Anyway, this isn`t the first time Senator Paul has gone after Hillary
Clinton. Here he was back in November during a speech at the Citadel,
attacking her on the go-to issue for right-wingers. It begins with a B,
Benghazi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Hillary Clinton was asked for more security. She turned the
ambassador down. I find it a dereliction of duty, a clear dereliction
of duty. She wants to blame it on somebody else. It`s absolutely a
responsibility. And her failure to provide our ambassador and his
mission with adequate security should preclude Hillary Clinton from ever
holding high office again!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: This is so dishonest. For the record, there is no evidence
that Secretary Clinton turned down -- personally turned down any
security requests. The evidence cited by concerns (ph) out there in
crazy-land is that her name was on memos from the State Department. And
all State Department cables coming from Washington bear the secretary`s
name automatically.

I used to get cables from Rogers, William Rogers. I don`t think the
secretary of state at that time was dashing off letters to me in
Swaziland. But that`s how they send letters out of the White House.

Joy, this thing won`t hunt.

REID: No, and --

MATTHEWS: And he sat and watched it and stamped some papers "denied" to
this guy, her friend, Chris Stevens, out there in Libya. I don`t think
it`s going to sell because it is dishonest.

REID: It`s dishonest. I mean, now Hillary Clinton is both the helpless
acolyte of her cheating husband and she`s also the grand vizier of some
strategy where a lot of these folks on the right think she was watching
from some secret drone as the attack went on and just watching and
refusing to help.

I mean, it`s ridiculous. And there`s actual data. There`s actually
been a report that has -- gives Hillary Clinton no culpability. I think
that she is smart, though, to have tried to get out in front of it and
say, Listen, as a matter of human compassion -- obviously, this is her
friend who was killed among those four -- and to express her sorrow at
the tragedy of the attack is good, to get that sound out there, because
--

(CROSSTALK)

REID: -- in her testimony saying, "What difference does it make," out
of context as it is, is going to be in every campaign commercial by
whoever becomes the Republican nominee for president.

MATTHEWS: And "regret`s" a much more appropriate word here than
"apologize." Anyway, thank you so much, Howard Fineman. And again,
Joy. Congratulations.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: It`s 2:00 PM -- an it`s 2:00 PM and it`s East Coast or
anywhere near it, or different time, depending on where you live. Watch
this person.

REID: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: She`s there. There she is!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, coming up: Trenton, we have a problem. Chris
Christie`s troubles are moving from political to legal, and that`s what
the ballgame`s going to be. It isn`t just about losing charisma, it`s
about going to prison, maybe. Who knows who`s going to go to prison
here. Today, two state committees up in Trenton combined into one
super-committee to investigate together the bridge scandal and other
possible abuses of power. His critics are uniting.

Also, want to know how far to the right the GOP has become? John
McCain, the senator from Arizona, has been formally censured by the
Arizona Republican Party for betraying party positions. That`s right,
John McCain, liberal. He stands accused of consorting with the
Democratic enemy.

And we`ve heard a lot of conservatives say they`re sorry lately -- Glenn
Beck, Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell. But if you listen closely, you
won`t hear them admit that they did anything wrong.

Finally, Mike Huckabee, women`s libido, yes, and late night comedians, a
perfect combo made for the "Sideshow" tonight.

And a reminder. Rachel Maddow and I will be working together tomorrow
night for full coverage of President Obama`s State of the Union address.
We`ll be co-anchoring beginning at 9:00 Eastern and then on to midnight.
Then I`ll have a special late night edition of HARDBALL where we go
through all the politics, what happens tomorrow, who won, who lost, how
well the president did, how hard he got bashed by the other side. We`ll
do all that at midnight.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton today named the attack on Benghazi as her
biggest regret she had in her time at the State Department. Speaking at
the National Automobile Dealers Association conference in New Orleans,
she was asked if there were any do-overs she would take of her time as
secretary of state. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: My biggest, you know, regret is
what happened in Benghazi. It was a terrible tragedy, losing four
Americans, two diplomats, and now it`s public, so I can say two CIA
operatives, losing an ambassador like Chris Stevens, who was one of our
very best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there you have it. We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. For New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie and his allies, the fate of their political reputations may
already be sealed. It`s one thing, however, to lose your charisma.
It`s quite another to go to prison, of course. And that`s the next
stage or the next phase of the battle of Trenton, the legal assault.

Today, two state committees in the legislature formally combined forces
into one super-committee to investigate the bridge scandal and other
alleged abuses of power. The group reissued 20 subpoenas. Responses
are due to those subpoenas in one week.

On top of that, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey has subpoenaed
Christie`s inner circle, seeking a trove of communications via e-mails,
text messages, voicemails, and other correspondence. Christie`s team
may not want to talk, but generally speaking, their e-mails, sadly,
can`t take the 5th Amendment.

Bridget Kelly, David Samson and others who Christie contends all went
rogue are bringing in expensive, fire-breathing defense attorneys
meanwhile. It`s pretty clear they`re not going to roll over. Their
boss is going on the offensive, publicly calling them liars generally,
and her, Kelly particularly, Bridget Kelly, a liar. It`s now their turn
to fire back.

Now, Governor Christie may be completely innocent, of course, but for
that to make it in court, no one on his staff can testify he said
anything that resembled an order on this matter of the bridge closing,
that he talked to any of them about the bridge matter, that he talked to
the lieutenant governor about squeezing Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer to
support a real estate deal, that he knew what they did, the planning and
the execution of that bogus traffic study.

In other words, the guy that spent his entire career looking for
opportunities was in this case, in this set of case, suddenly and
repeatedly out to lunch. That`s what it has to look like in court.

Congressmen Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell are both Democrats from New
Jersey. Let me start with Congressman Pallone. And this whole idea --
I know we can`t judge before a law -- before courtroom is set and before
the jury makes its finding, but it does seem to be an interesting
cultural question.

Is it credible, would it surprise you, to put it up this way, to find
out that Chris Christie was totally uninterested in everything his staff
did, that he wasn`t interested in whether they sought vengeance or they
wanted to hurt somebody who had failed to play ball with them, that they
didn`t -- he wasn`t interested in whether they were putting on a squeeze
play, perhaps, with regard to Hoboken, that he just wasn`t interested in
power.

Is that the guy you know, Congressman Pallone?

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: No.

MATTHEWS: Not interested in power?

PALLONE: No, it`s -- I don`t think it`s credible, because,first of all,
we know this culture of bullying and threats existed within the
administration for years.

And, you know, that leads to abuse of power. And so to suggest that
somehow he is not responsible, I mean, he is the one at the top that
created this culture of, as I say, threats and bullying that we know
about. And these are just some extreme examples of it, you know, very
serious charges that are being brought.

But I think he has long been in charge of that, you know, cultural
mentality, as you might put it.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Pascrell, same question to you. Does this seem
credible that out of all these questions and all these e-mails and all
these text messages, we will find no evidence that the boss was the
boss?

REP. BILL PASCRELL JR. (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, already, what we do know
-- and that`s very little -- and I`m sure the committee is going to look
into this, as they subpoena more records.

What they will provide to the committee, who knows. But, you know,
Chris, in our business, it`s what goes around comes around. And we
can`t be glib about this, because this is serious business. Frank and I
have been looking into not only what happened in the G.W. Bridge. We
sent letters -- I sent a letter back on September the 13th of last year.
Never got an answer about the bridge closing, the lane closings.

But we have been -- we have got letters, document, that we have looked
into how Sandy money was being spent. This is just another brick in
this wall between the administration and the people of New Jersey. They
haven`t been forthcoming. The company of Hammerman and Gainer, all of a
sudden, we find out two weeks after the event happened that they let
them go. They were the overseers of the money of how this money is
being spent.

I think they had over a $55 million contract with the state of New
Jersey. And yet people are still out of their homes in the state of New
Jersey. This is incredible. We don`t need e-mails. We can just look
at what the record is of how much money we haven`t spent from the last
allocation. And we`re to be get our new allocation in New Jersey for
the coming months.

So there is a lot here. Let`s get the facts out on the table. I don`t
wish anybody harm. I have never in my record, in my total career in
politics never wished anybody harm. And the governor has a lot to
account for before he was the governor and after he is the governor.
And I think the people of New Jersey are going to get the truth sooner
or later.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Congressman Pallone on that.

I guess I`m one of those who is guilty of liking, to me, the charming
sort of independence of behavior he did with the media and people like
us, saying, I don`t really care what you think. But if it goes further
than that, to the bullying, goes to this really manipulation of power,
that`s the question.

Is it your sense that this guy didn`t care? It was his way or no
highway? If you don`t go along with him, there is no highway, to use
that reference, that he was willing to play that tough. Was he like
that with you? I`m not going to answer any of your questions. I`m
doing it my way. I`m firing and hiring contracts when I want to. I`m
opening and closing what I want and that`s the way I`m going to be. And
I got people around me who are going to protect me.

Is that your notion of the governor`s performance so far?

PALLONE: I think it is.

I mean, as you know, Bill Pascrell is talking about this effort that we
have been critical of with HGI. Now, this is the company that
administered the Sandy contract, which now last week we learned was
fired. We don`t know who is administrating that money now. And there
is a serious question of what happened there.

You have Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, saying that she was
threatened, that she had to approve a development project if she wanted
Sandy money. I brought out to the inspector general at HUD that he took
a high bidder for the "Stronger Than the Storm" TV ad series because he
insisted that he had to be in the commercials, and that`s why the high
bidder was chosen.

So we have a pattern here of just saying, look, I`m going to do whatever
I want. Put the ads on, or else. Approve this development contract.,
or else you`re not going to get Sandy money. And I have to tell you, my
constituents are hurting. You know, I represent the Jersey Shore.

We have people that are on waiting lists, that don`t know why they`re on
waiting lists, that haven`t gotten their money to rebuild their homes.
I mean, you been down there, Chris. You know what it`s like. A lot of
the people are still hurting.

MATTHEWS: I know.

Well, you make it sound like a dictatorship, you guys. Is this what
it`s been up in Trenton, a dictatorship, Congressman Pascrell?

(CROSSTALK)

PALLONE: -- bullying. Bullying and threats, that`s been the culture.

PASCRELL: Chris, let me say this.

The governor has really had a motto, do as I say, not what I do. And
what he does is now coming out. Now, of course, it`s after the
election. He has been duly elected. He has been sworn in as governor
for the next four years. But that`s not going to stop people from
asking about the very issues that you have referred to in your past
shows and Frank has just been talking about some of them. And this is
important that we get to the bottom of this.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman
Bill Pascrell.

PALLONE: Thank you.

PASCRELL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Mike Huckabee`s comments on women`s libidos -- I
don`t know why these guys talk about this -- didn`t go unnoticed in the
late-night comedians. Of course it`s not funny when you talk like an
idiot.

Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Utah Senator Mike Lee will deliver the Tea Party
response to President Obama`s State of the Union address next week.
It`s expected to be the exact same text of Obama`s speech, but delivered
in this voice.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While addressing the Republican National Committee`s
winter meeting, Mike Huckabee said that Democrats are trying to convince
that they can`t control their libido without the help of the government,
though it`s usually the government that has trouble controlling its
libido.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Time for the "Sideshow."

That was of course "SNL"`s "Weekend Update" on, among other things, Mike
Huckabee`s foray into the birth control debate. It`s an issue that
tends to boomerang on Republicans almost every time they talk about it.

And Bill Maher not so subtly pointed that out on "Real Time" on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I love this. He blamed
Democrats. He said Democrats make American women believe that they are
helpless without the government providing birth control.

Really? You know what? This is what Democrats campaigned on? I don`t
seem to recall any Obama speech starting with, where all are all my
pregnant nymphos at?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Next up: It`s been more than a year since his lost his bid
for the White House, but Mitt Romney has been enjoying a comeback since
the release of that new Netflix documentary entitled "Mitt."

On Jimmy, Mitt joined Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night" to poke a little fun
at one of the big mistakes he made in 2012. Here they are together
slow-jamming the news.

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

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the end of the day,
we`re all Americans and we all want our country to be healthy, strong,
and prosperous. And that means putting an end to all the partisan
bickering in Washington.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Now, you just wait
a minute, Book of Mormon.

(LAUGHTER)

FALLON: You keep talking like that, and people are going to start
thinking you`re running for president again. I have heard of sloppy
seconds, but I ain`t never heard of sloppy thirds.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Jimmy, I`m not running again. There are a lot of great
candidates for 2016, and I will be supporting the Republican nominee 100
percent.

FALLON: Don`t you mean 47 percent?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: That`s a low blow, but it`s pretty funny.

FALLON: I had to do it.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Up next: John McCain has been formally censured by the
Arizona Republican Party. Can you believe it? His crime out there,
suspicion of harboring liberal thoughts.

Anyway, you`re watching HARDBALL. He is a traitor. Didn`t you notice?

The place for politics -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Lawmakers have reached a deal on a massive five-year farm bill, ending a
long legislative battle. The measure would lessen food stamps by about
1 percent, rather than steeper cuts sought by House Republicans.

The CDC says more than 600 people are sick on a Royal Caribbean cruise
ship. The company is offering to compensate passengers after the ship`s
journey was cut short.

And the trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin began earlier. He
is accused of accepting payoffs and bribes -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Here is the latest example of how far to the right the Republican Party
has gone. The Arizona Republican Party has adopted a resolution to
censure their five-term U.S. senator and former presidential candidate
John McCain for being too bipartisan.

The nonbinding reprimand said that McCain has -- quote -- "amassed a
long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring, and voting for
legislation best associated with liberal Democrats. And this record has
been disastrous and harmful to Arizona and the United States."

McCain received a 92 percent rating from the American Conservative
Union, however, in 2012, the last time he was rated by them. But
challenging the credentials of any Republican who works with Democrats
or President Obama has become the rule now, not the exception for the
Tea Party element of the GOP.

Tim Schwartz is a member of the Arizona Republican Party, and he is the
author of the resolution censuring Senator McCain. David Corn is, of
course, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC
political analyst.

Mr. Schwartz, go ahead. Make your case. David will respond. But take
your time.

TIMOTHY SCHWARTZ, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well --

MATTHEWS: What is your evidence that John McCain is not a loyal member
of the Republican Party?

SCHWARTZ: Well, first of all, I want to correct one thing you said --

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

SCHWARTZ: -- on the bipartisan issue.

Our gripe, our complaint is that John McCain is always working on the
other side of the aisle, and he never lands on our side of the aisle.
We don`t mind bipartisanship and someone reaching across the aisle. But
John McCain has proven -- and the constituents here in Arizona -- this
is not a small fringe group of the Republican Party, as I have read some
of the articles telling the story.

This is the overwhelming, and I want to emphasize that word, the
overwhelming majority of the Republican Party, not only in our state
meeting, but in the county meetings throughout our state. We have 15
counties. Six of those counties have formally made their own case for
censure.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHWARTZ: At our Republican county meeting, by the way, Maricopa County
here in Phoenix has 63 percent of the electorate in Arizona.

MATTHEWS: OK. But here is the question. Can I ask you an objective
question?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Well, let me finish. Let me finish.

MATTHEWS: Well, you have got a lot to say here.

SCHWARTZ: And Maricopa has 77 percent approval of the censure.

We cannot continue to cry out for change and be ignored by a senator who
claims to go to Washington on our behalf, but yet he ignores the will of
the American people --

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHWARTZ: -- and won`t listen to his own constituents. He is there
as a representative for us, not himself, not his own agenda.

Thank you.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about that question. When I look at John
McCain, I recognize that he has had compromises with the other side.
And I see your point to that extent.

But when I look at John McCain, I look at a guy who has been hawkish,
supported war in every instance, supported the Iraq war, supported the
Afghanistan war, wants intervention in Libya, wants intervention in
Syria. He is a 100 percent hawk in league with your party. Your party
is a hawkish party.

Now, maybe you aren`t, but your party is on its record with W. and the
whole crowd that was in office for eight years and since. You have
always taken the hawkish position. How can you call him a renegade when
he`s with you completely on foreign policy?

SCHWARTZ: OK. First of all, this is not about me. Seventy-seven
percent of Maricopa County --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, with your party 100 percent.

SCHWARTZ: Our state party this past weekend overwhelmingly passed this
resolution.

MATTHEWS: I know, but how do you -- but where is the logic? But where
is the logic?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: These leaders represent their districts, their legislative
districts throughout the state.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you have said that well. I accept your process.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me go ahead. What is -- how do you justify -- how do you
say John McCain is not a Republican, when on foreign policy issues he is
100 percent Republican? How do you --

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Let me ask a basic question.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Let me answer that, because John -- if you remember the days
of Ronald Reagan -- some of us do -- he was for smaller government.

And yet we need a leader that goes to Washington today that fights for
smaller government.

MATTHEWS: So foreign policy doesn`t matter?

SCHWARTZ: And he wants government intervention into the lives of all
Americans. Americans don`t --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So why do you keep ignoring my question? Just answer the one
question. Why is McCain 100 percent Republican on foreign policy, and
you act like he is some kind of apostate?

SCHWARTZ: Look, McCain`s record speaks for itself.

MATTHEWS: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: You`re defending liberal --

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: -- question.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Can I get to the heart of your point?

What was his position on Obamacare in terms of voting for it? What is
his position on abortion, in terms of that? Those are some of the most
heated issues we`re talking about these days. Is he not conservative
enough on those issues? He voted against Obamacare. He votes all the
time against --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He voted to impeach Clinton.

CORN: Voted to impeach -- yes, Clinton. So, I mean, how conservative
does John McCain have to be to be conservative enough for you? If you
compare him with the rest of the country, ACLU votes or anything else,
he is far to the right. Not in everything.

TIMOTHY SCHWARTZ, AZ REPUBLICAN PARTY: Let me answer your question with
a question. Let`s go back into John McCain`s record. The record is
what we`re talking about.

CORN: No, no, I just asked you about his record. I just asked you
about his record. Address those points of his record.

SCHWARTZ: OK, John McCain`s record, he never, and I repeat, never
drafts, co-sponsors or votes with legislation put up by Republicans.
All the bills that he`s signed on to draft or to co-sponsor is always
with Democrats, whether it`s McCain-Lieberman, McCain-Feingold, there is
a long list. It`s always with the other side.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: We need to go to Washington. We don`t need somebody to play
for the other team. We need somebody to fight for our team. We need to
win touchdowns.

CORN: You`re just giving me rhetoric. I`ve asked you a very simple
question.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CORN: Is opposing Obamacare not good enough for you?

SCHWARTZ: OK, everybody is telling me Obamacare is the law.

Let`s look at what happened. They fought that. They bought off deals
in backrooms to make it law.

CORN: I`m talking about John McCain`s vote.

SCHWARTZ: Not support of the American people. They pushed it through.
Nancy Pelosi said, I`m going to push this through regardless of what the
American people say.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: Stop talking about the American people because you haven`t been
elected to anything. You can`t talk for the American people. The
American people wanted gun control bills because --

SCHWARTZ: Excuse me, I`m the chairman of legislative district 30
Republicans here in Arizona. I`m a precinct committeeman, a state
committeeman. I have been elected, and I do get elected regularly.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: You represent Republicans. Most Americans want gun safety bills
that John McCain has opposed. He opposed these gun safety bills in
Congress. That`s not good enough for you?

SCHWARTZ: Tell me who tried to diminish the gun rights of Americans
just this last year? Tell me who fought for the Gang of Eight amnesty
when it`s a failed policy over and over and over again, yet he refuses
to give up.

The people in Arizona are a border state, and we have that issue on our
front page.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: We need a senator that will fight for the rights of us people
here back in Arizona.

CORN: You know, you can`t have it both ways. You can`t say he is not
doing the American will, but he is also not doing what we want when
you`re a minority. Most Americans want a path to citizenship.

MATTHEWS: Can I ask some fact questions? Thank you for coming on, Mr.
Schwartz. We disagree with you. But thank you for coming. Can I just
thank you for coming on?

SCHWARTZ: We fight to have our freedom and our liberty.

MATTHEWS: I want to get a sense who have you are politically. Do you
believe President Obama was legitimately elected president of the United
States?

SCHWARTZ: Oh, I knew that was coming.

Listen, I`m going to stay on track. This is about the resolution. It`s
not about me or my policy.

MATTHEWS: No, I`m just asking a simple question.

SCHWARTZ: This is about what the party has done.

MATTHEWS: Why is that a trick question?

SCHWARTZ: I`m not going to get side tracked with little rabbit trails.
This is about Senator McCain and the horrible job he is doing as our
representative in Washington.

MATTHEWS: OK. You want the take a pass at that.

OK. Let me ask you this. Was Obama care, the affordable care act
passed legitimately by the United States House and Senate and signed by
the president legitimately under law?

SCHWARTZ: No, because it was back room deals. We all know that.

MATTHEWS: So it`s not the law?

SCHWARTZ: They did it in the middle of the night, against the will of
the American people.

CORN: What do you mean against the will of the American people?

SCHWARTZ: It`s not legitimate law when you have to buy the votes, when
you to bribe people.

MATTHEWS: OK.

SCHWARTZ: It`s bribery. It`s extortion. And another word, it`s
treason against the people.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I have a suspicion --

SCHWARTZ: The Constitution states we have freedom.

MATTHEWS: OK. I have a suspicion that there is a war going on between
you people who are legitimately Tea Party people. You have a perfect
right to all your views, of course. It`s a democracy.

SCHWARTZ: I don`t belong to a Tea Party, sir. I belong to the
Republican Party of state of the Arizona.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. OK, hard right.

OK, why did you avoid three times when I asked you did you ignore the
foreign policy of John McCain who`s a super hawk?

SCHWARTZ: Because we`re here to talk about the censure of John McCain.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But his voting record is consistent with the right wing
foreign policy of this government. Why do you say that`s irrelevant
that he sought for all these wars? Why do you think that`s irrelevant
to your positions? Is there a war between the right and the Republican
Party or the party you call the Republican Party of Arizona? Is it at
war with the hawkish policies of --

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. And John McCain --

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you answer my question? OK.

SCHWARTZ: -- is with the Democrats and never plays on our team. That`s
all we want. We would welcome John McCain if he played on our team and
scored touchdowns for us.

MATTHEWS: Sir, I think you`re embarrassed by the hawkish policies of
the Republican Party nationally. I think you`re embarrassed by the fact
they took us into two wars, that they would like to go in more wars. I
think you`re really against that, but you don`t have the guts to say so.

SCHWARTZ: You`re bringing one issue. I`m bringing up the whole John
McCain.

MATTHEWS: Tell me right now -- one issue? Thousands are dead because
of that one issue. This is the weirdness --

SCHWARTZ: I want to address the whole person of John McCain and how
Washington is broken. The American people --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We have got into it. The right wing doesn`t like the
policies of Republican Party nationally.

SCHWARTZ: We want to censure because we want the American people to
know that we stand for them.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m glad -- sir, I`m glad you agree with me on foreign
policy.

Thank you very much, David Corn, Timothy Schwartz, who supports the
removal basically of John McCain as a legitimate Republican.

Up next, to quote Elton John, "sorry seems to be the hardest word,"
especially if you`re a conservative.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Join us tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern HARDBALL as we preview
the State of the Union. Then I`ll join Rachel Maddow for coverage of
the president`s address beginning at 9:00 Eastern.

And be sure to stay up late with us tomorrow for a special midnight
Eastern edition of HARDBALL. We`re going to go through all the politics
to find out who won tomorrow night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, in just a few past weeks, we heard a lot of words out
there that sound like an apology from stage right. New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie over the bridge scandal, Glenn Beck for some of the
divisive antics on his FOX News show, and former governor, Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell, for accepting lavish but legal he says gifts
from a certain businessman.

But listen closely, and what you really hear is not exactly apology.
More than anything, Governor Christie sounds sorry for what he was led -
- that he was lied to by a staffer, or so he says.

Glenn Beck is sorry the American people were so fragile -- that was his
words -- that they were vulnerable to his divisive language. Boy, there
was going around the corner with that one.

And Governor McDonnell is really sorry he`s being pursued by an
overreaching prosecutor for doing things that were perfectly legal in
his state. How about a simple "my bad"? You`re not getting that from
these guys.

Dana Milbank pointed out the nuance of these non-apology, whatever they
are, at his column headlined, "Apologize and then blame someone else."

He joins me now, along with Sam Stein of "The Huffington Post" for this
new round of whatever it`s called.

Let`s start with Chris Christie and the epic press conference on January
9th. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I come out here today to apologize
to the people of New Jersey. I apologize to the people of Fort Lee, and
I apologize to the members of the state legislature. I am embarrassed
and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.

This morning, I terminated the employment of Bridget Kelly, effective
immediately. I terminated her employment because she lied to me. I am
heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust
for the last five years betrayed my trust.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Governor Christie did acknowledge mistakes, he
constructed the sentences to lead the clear impressions that they
weren`t made by me, those mistakes. Let`s take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The fact is that mistakes were made, and I`m responsible for
those mistakes in a government of 65,000 people, there are going to be
times when mistakes are made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Dana Milbank, I thought that phrase "mistakes were
made" in a passive voice would have been retired like some of this
number on a baseball team, not because it worked, but because it doesn`t
work. It sounds like you`re lying.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, the Nixonian passive voice.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MILBANK: I think what`s happening here is people know that they`re
supposed to say they`re sorry. They`re supposed to apologize. But they
see it as a box to check. They don`t really feel as if they`ve done
anything wrong.

So, they`re only apologizing in a technical sense of accepting
responsibility because ultimately they`re in charge and the buck stops
with them.

MATTHEWS: Have you ever seen it so quickly, the transition, the Sam
Stein, so quickly, the transition from -- I`m deeply sorry for that no
good lying SOB, whatever her name was, I`m getting rid of her, I just
terminated her. I don`t trust her. She lies. She`s stupid.

And she did it to me, but I just apologize for what? Her? No, because
I just fired her.

It`s kind of -- a strange kind of catch-22. I apologize, but don`t
blame me, I`m the victim.

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: In the construct that he presents, that
he`s a victim of her transgressions, right? You know, I guess for him
he has to do it this way because he`s holding on or insisting I should
say that he`s innocent in this matter. So, if you were to apologize or
claim culpability, then he would be admitting that he had something to
do with it. So, if he wants to continue to say and continue to argue
that he is anything, then he wouldn`t behoove to go by and apologize for
something he didn`t do.

But Dana`s column hits it on the head, which is that it`s an evasive
technique. It doesn`t actually give you a full apology. It sort of
skirts around the issue, and it leaves the voter yearning for a little
bit more.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s a spin. Anyway, in her FOX News show, "The Kelly
File", Megyn Kelly asked former FOX host Glenn Beck the question, when
he looks back at his time on FOX News, how does he remember it? Let`s
listen to Mr. Beck`s reply.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, BLAZE TV: I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I
made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be, and be
more uniting in my language because I -- I -- I think I played a role,
unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart, and it`s not who we
are. I didn`t realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we
were kind of a little more in it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Is thought what he when he called Obama racist? When he said
he was deeply anti-white, he didn`t know the fabric was that fragile
when he did it? He was testing the fabric at that point?

MILBANK: Not only basically blaming his listeners for being a bunch of
idiots, and then he goes onto say after that -- that, well, I really
couldn`t have done anything differently anyway, he`s just absolving
himself because he wants to move on. People don`t want to hear the
Hitler things anymore. He`s trying to reinvent yourself.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dana Milbank. You`re a funny guy. I love the way
you liven up the set with satire, these absurdities. And one of them is
definitely Beck.

Anyway, Sam Stein, a voice of sobriety.

We`ll be right back after this.

STEIN: Thanks, Chris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some thoughts about the Clintons
and what Rand Paul said about them yesterday.

Here goes. Bill and Hillary Clinton did not get to where they got by
being sure things. Nor did they get to where they got and where they
are headed right now by being perfect politicians or human beings.
Their appeal and it`s the strongest appeal on the country right now is
their wondrous resilience.

Bill lost his race for student council president at Georgetown. He lost
his race for U.S. Congress. He lost his race for re-election as
governor. He lost the 1992 New Hampshire primary. He lost a half
century of Democratic control to Congress in 1994. He was impeached in
1998.

Is that the Clinton story? Doesn`t look like the Clinton story. No
way.

And the reason is he came back from every setback, winning the attorney
general`s race in 1976, the governor`s seat in `78 and again in `82 and
`84, and `86 and `88 and `90. He won the Democratic nomination for
president in `92, and election that fall. And after losing the House
and Senate in `94, won reelection in `96, and after being impeached in
`98, he left office with a huge job approval rating.

Hillary Clinton has shown the same strong character under pressure.
After the difficult situation in 1998, she won a Senate seat for New
York in 2000. After losing the Iowa caucuses in 2008, she went in to
the arenas of New Hampshire, and fought back a string of big state
victories against Barack Obama. Faced with defeat, she accepted and
triumphed in the position of the United States secretary of state.

Resilience and unity, yes, are the Clinton tickets. Through it all,
they have stuck together. They are better than winners. They possess a
deep strength of character to face defeat, failure and even humiliation
and come back fighting strong. That may be the very ticket this country
needs right now to regain its own fighting spirit.

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

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


END

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