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updated 2/26/2014 10:41:09 AM ET 2014-02-26T15:41:09

HARDBALL
February 25, 2014

Guests: Dannel Malloy, Brahm Resnik, Kathleen Parker, James Hohmann


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Biden enters the ring.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this. Earlier today, Barbara Walters popped
the question to Vice President Biden. If Hillary Clinton runs for
president, does that mean you won`t run? Isn`t that what you`ve said?
Biden couldn`t have been more emphatic. He said he`d never said he
wouldn`t run if Hillary did. Quote, "Whether she runs or not will not
affect my decision." He went on to say that his wife, Jill, was supportive
of his decision, and that being a good vice president the next several
years was a perfect way to make himself a solid presidential candidate.

So are we ready? Is the Democratic Party ready for this? Is the country
ready for a showdown between the vice president of the United States and
the former first lady, former U.S. senator, former secretary of state?

And why is Biden saying all this now? And who is he saying it to? Is he
serving notice to Secretary Clinton that the presidential nomination is not
hers for the asking? Is it to tell Bill Clinton that this march through a
second Clinton presidency is going to be a bit messy? Is it to tell the
Democrats overall out in the country that they`ll have a choice in the
winter and spring of 2016?

Well, the question for me -- why is Joe Biden, an experienced leader,
willing to pay the price for what he`s now putting out there, the need to
back up his words with an all-out battle for the nomination with someone so
many believe has it all locked up.

After all, these entry tickets aren`t free. Why put himself out, as Vice
President Biden has now done, if he knows at some point between now and the
Iowa caucuses, he`ll have to pull himself out? Or back.

Howard Fineman`s the editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group
and an MSNBC News political analyst. Mark Halperin is the co-author of
"Double Down," a great book, and MSNBC senior analyst, as well.

Howard, Biden doesn`t have to say these things. He could say, I`m not
going to talk about that. He could say, That`s always on people`s minds.
I don`t want to talk about it, Barbara. But Barbara Walters is one tough
interviewer, and she stuck at it today, and he was forced to say what he
may have wanted to say, but I`ve never heard him put it so emphatically --
I don`t care if Hillary Clinton runs for president. I could run against
her.

Your thoughts.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, Chris, without committing himself one way or another, I do agree with
you, it`s the strongest statement that Joe Biden has yet made as vice
president that he may well do this.

You asked why he said so. I think he`s a little irritated. I know from
talking to friends of his that he`s a little irritated about the notion
that he would not be considered and that everybody would sort of coronate
Hillary Clinton in advance. I think he thinks there should be a contest.
I think he thinks there should be a conversation.

And also, don`t forget, I`m here in Louisville, Kentucky, where Bill
Clinton, the former president, just campaigned on behalf of the Democratic
Senate candidate without ever mentioning Barack Obama, without ever
mentioning the Obama administration, behaving as though the Obama
administration did not exist and has not existed for the past six years.

That`s an affront not only to Barack Obama, but to Joe Biden. And Joe
Biden is saying, Hey, wait a minute, Clintons. You know, Where are we in
this narrative? Where`s the Obama-Biden administration in this narrative?
And I think it`s gotten under his skin.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Mark Halperin on this. Mark, I -- well, let`s go
over -- you heard what I said. Why`s Biden talking about running against
Hillary?

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME," MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all
because Barbara Walters can get anybody to say anything. That`s the gift
that she`s had.

Look, the reality is he wants to be relevant for the next three years. He
knows it`s possible she won`t run. He also -- I think this is less about
politics than psychology. The guy looks at his resume as vice president,
as chairman of Foreign Relations, as chairman of Judiciary. He looks at
his ability to campaign, which he thinks, in his own mind, is comparable to
Bill Clinton`s, and I think he believes superior to Hillary Clinton`s. And
he looks at a Democratic Party that is pretty loyal to this administration,
as Howard suggested.

So I think, psychologically, he wants to say that he`ll do this. He wants
to be prepared to do it. He wants to be the leading choice if she doesn`t
run. But in the end, I still believe, as we`ve discussed before, Chris, if
she runs, this is -- it`s going to be easy for him to find an exit route --

MATTHEWS: I don`t agree with you.

HALPERIN: -- because he will not take her on.

MATTHEWS: I will -- I`m -- let me tell you something. Barbara Walters
asked a question that was based upon knowledge, I believe, that smart
people think that Biden is running. Smart people. I know that because
I`ve talked to them. In fact, a very well placed U.S. senator the other
day told me he`s running.

HALPERIN: He`s looking --

MATTHEWS: Barbara Walters, I believe, heard that. I don`t buy this idea
that these are free shots out there, like at the side of a basketball
court, throwing the ball back when it goes out of bounds. I think he wants
to get in this game.

HALPERIN: He --

MATTHEWS: He wants to play a role in either intimidating Hillary into not
running, perhaps, or letting the word go past that there`s going to be a
fight there, and maybe he`ll have some people come to his side and join
him.

FINEMAN: Well, Chris --

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry. Back to Howard.

FINEMAN: -- I also think that -- yes, I also think -- I think also that
there are some Biden people around Washington and around the country who
are incredibly talented, well-connected people, who might otherwise, if
they haven`t already been asked to be part of the Hillary orbit, could be.

And I think the other thing he wants to do is say, Hey, wait a minute, you
know, I could get in this thing. I may want to get in this thing. Stay
with me. And I think part of the public statement is for private
consumption to what`s left. And there`s a considerable amount left of the
Joe Biden network around the country.

MATTHEWS: And there are a lot of people out there who think Biden would be
a hell of a president. He has been goofy sometimes as a politician, but he
generally has a very deep thought about foreign policy.

Anyway, here was Barbara Walters earlier today on "The View" asking the
vice president whether he`d run even if Hillary Clinton gets into the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": Well, you have said that if she runs for
president, you will not run.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I haven`t.

WALTERS: Oh. Then tell me what you`ve said.

BIDEN: Look, the only reason to run for president of the United States, if
you truly believe you`re better positioned to do what you think is most
needed in the country. I think my knowledge of foreign policy, my
engagement with world leaders, my experience is -- uniquely positions me to
be -- to follow through on the agenda Barack and I have of bringing up
world peace in a way that is real and substantive.

I also think the middle class is the single -- the single focus, what we
should be looking at, and how to grow it.

WALTERS: So -- so --

BIDEN: So whether she runs or not will not affect my decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, being Barbara Walters, she pressed the vice president
further, and this is what she got.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: It ultimately becomes a family decision, and my wife is supportive.
And if I --

WALTERS: But you haven`t said no?

BIDEN: No, I absolutely not have said no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s where I`m looking at it. Mark, you want to have any
second -- you think he`s not -- let`s get our cards on the table.

HALPERIN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You believe, in the last minute, no matter how far he gets
asymptotically to making this decision, at the last minute, he will pull
back because he`ll never want to face her in a caucus or a primary.

HALPERIN: I just think, Chris, although I agree with you that he`s giving
people the impression that he`s making active moves, there`s no Joe Biden
super-PAC, there`s no senators urging him to run. And she`s so formidable
and they`re such close friends, the only way it is rational to take her on,
the only way is if you`re willing to rip her face off politically, if
you`re willing to undermine her personally, historically, policy-wise. I
just don`t see how Joe Biden could do that.

But he wants to be ready. And I`ll say again this is psychological. All
he knows is public office. All he knows is running. And he looks at what
he`s accomplished and the relevance he wants to have in the last three
years as vice president, giving any other answer to Barbara Walters --

MATTHEWS: OK --

HALPERIN: -- who pressed him, any other answer would show a kind of
weakness that Joe Biden is just not the kind of guy who wants to show that.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Let`s go back to Howard. You mentioned that Bill
Clinton is back in town, certainly, on the campaign trail today out in your
area out there in Louisville, Kentucky. He`s out there campaigning for
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Louisville, who`s out there to unseat
Mitch McConnell.

Well, according to the Pollster.com average of all the polling out there in
Kentucky, Grimes is holding onto a 1-point lead over McConnell. Senator
McConnell told reporters, by the way, today that he`s not scared of the
former president stumping for his opponent. And he -- well, it doesn`t
mean anything. He says he welcomes him to Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I welcome him back. The
last time he ran in 1996, he eked out a narrow victory in Kentucky while I
beat the current governor by 160,000 votes, 10 points. In 2008, both Bill
and Hillary Clinton came to town, including the day before the election,
and I won by 100,000 votes.

So I welcome President Clinton back to Kentucky. Every time he`s come,
it`s been really good for me. Thanks a lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He`s still smiling, Howard. Your thoughts. And it`s time for
you to start touting this race here. You`re from out there. You know it.
You`re the Jack Germond of Louisville, Kentucky. So I want a pick here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Is this too close to call, too early to call, or is this guy,
the old pro, going to just wind it up when he needs it?

FINEMAN: Yes. I haven`t eaten in nearly enough restaurants to be the Jack
Germond of anywhere.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: But I was in the room today for the fundraiser that Bill Clinton
headlined on behalf of Alison Grimes, and it was an overflow crowd. It was
a big crowd. It was a crowd so enthusiastic, it was almost giddy. I
haven`t seen anything like that in Kentucky in a long time.

The Kentucky Democratic Party is unified. They`re excited. They think
they`ve got a real shot to take Mitch McConnell out, and I think they
probably do.

What Mitch didn`t say is that even though the Tea Party challenger he`s
facing in the Republican Party is not going to win, Mitch has spent an
enormous amount of money knocking that guy down. And that guy in May could
end up still getting perhaps 30 percent of the vote, if not more.

Then the question will be whether those Republicans who`ve listened to
McConnell beat up on their Tea Party favorite are going to actually come
out and vote for Mitch.

MATTHEWS: Oh!

FINEMAN: And that`s going to require Mitch to try to really take down
Alison Grimes, who`s a young woman without much of a track record to shoot
at, but who is turning into quite a good local political figure.

What`s interesting about this, as I say, Bill Clinton never mentioned
Barack Obama, and that`s all Mitch McConnell is going to mention. They`re
going to be talking past each other.

And to connect it up to Joe Biden -- I mean, the president of the United
States, the current president, yes, he`s a grown man and he knows there are
Southern states that you stay away from his name in, but I think if he and
Biden -- he and Biden are going to come to a point where they`re not going
to like the fact that the Clintons are going around the country building
Hillary for 2016 by completely ignoring the Obama administration.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think well said. I`m not sure --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: That`s what is going on here. That`s what`s going on here.

MATTHEWS: I`m not sure, Howard, that he even mentioned the president when
he was at the podium in the White House press room that day. He just took
over there.

Let me go to Mark for the big question. What`s the Bill Clinton scoreboard
in 2014 headed towards 2016? If they lose Mark Pryor down in Arkansas, his
home patch down there, how does he brag about what happened in Kentucky?
And how does he win if they lose Louisiana, they lose Arkansas, lose North
Carolina, lose -- maybe even lose a squeaker in Kentucky? How does Bill
Clinton do the victory lap?

HALPERIN: Well, look, if they lose those races, I think the current
president`s probably going to be facing more of the responsibility and the
burden from the press and from Democrats than President Clinton.

Look, we`re going to see Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail. We`re
going to see Joe Biden out on the campaign trail. The question for me is,
when do we see and how much do we see Hillary Clinton?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HALPERIN: Is she willing to go out as presidential candidates do in
midterms and campaign? The advantage for her is she`s got her husband out
there reminding people, Democrats, but also independents in a lot of these
swing states, where there are competitive races in the midterms that the
Clintons are a team.

There`s some downside to that, but I think we saw today he`s still the best
in the business when he`s into it. And I think coming off 2012, when he
was into it, he`s going to be into it in 2014 and he`ll be very strong.
And that, I think, works to her benefit, and it doesn`t help Joe Biden much
at all.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I`d like to see them campaign together. I think that would
be real star quality, both Clintons together, say, in Kentucky, or in
Arkansas, if they can pull that -- Howard, can they pull it out in
Arkansas, or does that go (ph) over?

FINEMAN: I don`t know. That sounds like -- that`s -- even though,
ironically, that`s where Bill Clinton is from, that may be the toughest one
to rescue.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: You know, I think the conventional wisdom right now is that
Landrieu`s actually in a little better shape than some people think.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: Kay Hagan`s got a fighting chance. Pryor is in deep, deep
trouble in Arkansas.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: That`s what the word is today.

MATTHEWS: Maybe Bill Clinton has once again moved the tent. Anyway, it
may be -- the tent may be set up in your town up there in Louisville.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you -- (INAUDIBLE) move to New York. It`s all possible.
Thank you, Mark Halperin. They win wherever they go. Anyway -- and they
lose after they`ve left. Anyway, Howard Fineman, Mark Halperin, thanks.

Coming up: The war between the states. When Louisiana governor Bobby
Jindal, who`s going a little crazy these days, broke the peace and went
outside the White House and dumped all over his host, that being the
president, it was Connecticut`s Dan Malloy who came to the host`s rescue.
Governor Malloy -- he joins us next. Bobby Jindal -- well, he won`t answer
our calls.

Anyway -- by the way, Governor Jan Brewer out there in Arizona and that
anti-gay bill out there -- well, Apple, the computer company, says veto it.
Arizona`s two Republican senators say veto it. And that includes John
McCain. The state`s Chamber of Commerce says veto it. The Arizona Super
Bowl host committee says veto it. Does Arizona, by the way, really want
another MLK holiday mess on its hands, like the old days?

Plus, guess who`s benefiting from implementing the health care law? A
bunch of Republican governors. Do you believe it? Not one of them --
well, actually, not one of them who has expanded Medicaid is in political
trouble this November. And what`s that tell you?

And it looks like Ted Nugent just can`t get enough of comparing President
Obama to guess what? The Nazis. He`s at it again, just days after making
that arm-twisted apology of his.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Ted Nugent`s derogatory comments about President Obama
haven`t hurt Greg Abbott`s chances at being the next governor of Texas. A
new poll shows about Abbott`s got a big lead right down there. Let`s check
the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new on-line poll from "The Texas Tribune" and the University
of Texas, Abbott, the Republican state attorney general, has an 11-point
lead over State Senator Wendy Davis. It`s Abbott 47, Ms. Davis 36. And
that raises the question why Abbott felt the need to campaign with a Ted
Nugent at his side.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. What happened at the White House
after the country`s governors met there with the president yesterday?
Well, it`s been getting a lot of attention, and not all that good, for
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. In case you missed it, here`s what
happened.

As usual, the governors sounded themes of bipartisanship and camaraderie,
until Jindal, a Republican, took the microphone. Jindal broke the kumbaya
spirit, taking aim at the president`s economic record, particularly his
push for a federal minimum wage of $10.10, provoking Governor Dannel Malloy
-- actually, a very good guy -- he`s Democrat of Connecticut -- to jump in
to challenge Mr. Jindal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I heard a question over here about
whether he mentioned the minimum wage. Yes, he did mention the minimum
wage repeatedly to us. And what I worry about is that this president, the
White House seems to be waving the white flag of surrender after five --
more than five years now under this administration, the Obama economy --
Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better
than that. I think America can do better than that.

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Just one second. Until a few moments
ago, we were going down a pretty cooperative road. You just heard what I
think ended up being probably the most partisan statement that we`ve had
all weekend.

So let`s be very clear. There are many people like myself who support a
minimum wage and an increase in the minimum wage. I don`t know what the
heck was a reference to a white flag when it comes to people making $404 a
week. I mean, that`s the most insane statement I`ve ever heard, quite
frankly.

So let`s be -- let`s be very clear that we`ve had a great meeting, and we
didn`t go down that road, and it just started again, and we didn`t start
it.

JINDAL: If that was the most partisan statement he`s heard all weekend, I
want to make sure that he hears a more partisan statement, which I think we
could also grow the economy more if we would delay more of these "Obama
care" mandates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Bobby Jindal is dying down there in the polls, dying in
his last year in office, terrible ratings, doing whatever he can to show
he`s still alive. That was a proof of life from Bobby Jindal. Thank God a
grownup jumped in! Dannel Malloy -- by the way, do you outweigh the guy by
about 75 pounds because I noticed that you moved over without waiting for
him to get out of the way!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You just moved into that microphone space! Your thoughts,
Governor, about minimum wages and why they`re not the white flag.

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, first of all, I`m the youngest
of eight. I had to fight for food. So, I know how to do that kind of
stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

But, listen, we had a nice --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, Michael Steele is with us too.

Go ahead. Go ahead.

MALLOY: All right.

We had a good meeting. We actually -- governors in agreement on how to
handle National Guard issues, unanimous. We`re in agreement on what we can
do to improve Medicaid and Medicare, unanimous agreement. The press
conference itself was going very well.

Jindal, I think, is trying to gin up his own numbers and gin up his own
popularity. And I think he -- I think he -- he thinks he can run for
president, which is, quite frankly, a little bizarre.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is this the new -- is this the new way in, Governor, where you
have to talk like Rand Paul and go after Bill Clinton, hit him below the
belt, do this kind of stuff, really be little bit out of it, risk being a
little over the top in order to get the attention of the press?

Because the right wing, I thought about this, you can`t go too far right
for the Republicans these days. There is no far right. It`s anywhere you
go, there is happy hunting ground. So go crazy against the president right
after he has fed you, gave you coffee, gave you a place to sit, let you in
the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And on your way out the door, you trash the guy. That seems to
be the cool way to behave. Your thoughts.

MALLOY: I think what the next Republican product is going to be is foam
that you can spray around your mouth yourself, rather than have to work it
up.

(LAUGHTER)

MALLOY: It really is quite remarkable. We had a good meeting. We are
having serious conversations.

Governors actually work on a bipartisan basis, not only when we talk to one
another, but very frequently we have to go back to our own states. I`m
supporting a minimum wage increase. We have done it already once in
Connecticut by 45 cents. We want to get to $10.10. Let me point this out.

The people who will benefit the most are women. Women who are raising
families need this raise in our country. And let me point another thing
out, just out of Louisiana today, a poll that shows that, overwhelmingly,
folks in Louisiana support an increase in the minimum wage, Democrats,
Republicans, and independents.

And women support it by 79 percent. He should actually understand and get
in contact with the voters who live in his state who understand that $7.25
is not -- not only not a working wage; it`s a poverty wage. We need to
move people out of poverty. We particularly need to move women out of
poverty.

And I think he is just out of touch, quite frankly.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Michael Steele on this. I will bring you in.

I will be back to you, Governor, in a second.

This fighting over minimum wage seems like a big loser. First of all, it
brings us right back to the 47 percent of Mitt Romney. Why do you want to
not help people who are showing up for work? These aren`t welfare people.
These are workers.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Understood. And you have just made a leap that is not a
legitimate leap.

You said, well, because we have concerns and reservations about just an
open-ended let`s raise the minimum wage, oh, will pick a number and raise
it, that we don`t care about the poor, as the CBO report showed that the
biggest loser in any raise in the minimum wage the way the Democrats are
talking about it is the poor.

So can we step back a moment and get away from the cliff of emotion and
look at this thing logically? Yes, we get the reality. I grew up in a
minimum wage household. I know what that reality is every single day. I
knew what it was growing up. A lot of families know it even harder today.

So let`s look at how we do this in a way in which we bring the poor into
prosperity.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: I think what Jindal did -- and we can talk about the
appropriateness in that moment standing with a bipartisan group of
governors.

But I think what he is laying down is a marker saying, let`s not run into
this headlong. Let`s be smart about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Governor, are there any downsides, any downsides to having
minimum wage go to 10 bucks?

(CROSSTALK)

MALLOY: First of all, that`s not what -- that`s not what he was saying.
He was saying he is dead set against it, period. That was the end of the
question. That`s what he was saying. He is accusing of the president --
the president, who has created 46 months of job growth, of raising the
white flag.

So, with all due respect to what was just said, that`s not what he was
saying. And, quite frankly, what he doesn`t get is that women in our
country deserve to work 40 hours a week and not live in poverty. Women in
our country deserve a minimum wage that will allow -- lift them out of
poverty to raise their children, to raise their families, and to
contribute.

And if you have a better way to do it, make a suggestion. Do you want to
increase the Earned Income Tax Credit? Republicans say no. Do you want to
find another way to do it? Republicans say no. Do you want to increase
the magic? Republicans say no. You can`t have it both ways. Either
you`re for women, either you`re for building a middle class, or you`re
against it.

And this game that the Republicans play with the CBO, listen, the CBO says
that Obamacare is going to save $1.25 trillion in the next 20 years. But
the Republicans don`t accept that. They don`t quote the CBO on that. The
CBO says what the president has done with respect to supporting the economy
has preserved and created over five million jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Well, Governor, I appreciate --

(CROSSTALK)

MALLOY: They never quote that.

There is a reality about what is going on statistically. Nobel laureates
are saying raise the minimum wage; 432 economists have said raise the
minimum wage. Only Republicans in this country say don`t raise the minimum
wage.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: That`s not -- that`s not true. It`s not only Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Can you give some of that juice to the president, Governor?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Because President Obama is too much the professor from Yale
these days. I just heard a really good machine gun approach to arguing a
point.

You wouldn`t let Michael in, which is good. I like that. But, most
importantly, you had a lot of ammunition there.

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: Yes, but your ammunition --

MATTHEWS: Now, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Your ammunition is largely -- is largely wasted rhetoric, because
you --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Rhetoric? It was solid as hell.

STEELE: Yes, it is rhetoric, because the Governor should know -- and you
can take this back to your state and talk to the business community in your
state and those people who have a concern -- that there are real effects
that you seem to want to gloss over that a small business owner has to take
into consideration.

Sure, we can raise the minimum wage to $10, $15 an hour, but if I`m cutting
back on the number of hours you`re working, if I`m firing people in order
to do that, that`s not a balanced effect to the end result that you want.

MALLOY: So, now let`s talk -- let`s talk statistics.

STEELE: Governor, I have given you your moment. Now I`m going to take
mine.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: So, the point of the -- the point of the fact is, you want to have
a one-sided conversation, where you want to throw out big statistics and
you want to say put women in the -- focus on women.

Let`s focus on families. Let`s focus on a whole lot of other people that
are not a part of the discussion the way you want to have it.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, the reason -- the reason right --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: There are three pieces here, not just raise the minimum wage.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Michael, Governor, we tried to get Jindal to come here, OK? It
wasn`t a one-sided conversation set up here, just so you know that.

Your thoughts.

MALLOY: Let me give you a big number; 532 counties have been studied where
the minimum wage was raised, and right across the county line, it was not.

You know what county did better? The county -- time after time after time,
the county that did better was the one that raised the minimum wage, in the
South, in the West, in the East, and in the North. Now, let me point
something else out to you. The vast majority of people earning minimum
wage work in the food-related businesses. You don`t go across the border
to buy your food. You don`t go across the border to buy -- to go a
restaurant you. You buy it in the state in which you work.

So either you`re for lifting out of people out of poverty or you`re not.
I`m going give you a statistic. We have seen surveyed all the folks who
work in banks as tellers in the United States. Do you know that 30 percent
of the tellers in the United States have to rely on a federal program to
not be in poverty, even though they`re working 40 hours a week?

Let me -- how do you defend the idea -- how do you defend the idea that
somebody would work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you agree with the $10.10 minimum wage?

STEELE: I have no problem with raising the minimum wage.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: But my point is, can we do it in a way in which we`re not relying
so much on the emotional side of it, but look at the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We all know -- gentlemen, we know there will be a deal that will
have to do with tax cuts for small business.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: There will be a deal. That`s how it gets done.

Governor, you are a great guest. I loved what you did during the horror up
there. You were a great stand-up guy for Connecticut --

MALLOY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: -- during that horror. I hope we don`t see that again in our
lifetimes. You`re a great guy.

Thanks for coming on.

STEELE: Good to see you, Governor.

MALLOY: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Bobby Jindal, the doormat is out. But just act a little better
than you did at the White House. That`s all.

MALLOY: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Bye.

Michael Steele, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: All right, guys.

MATTHEWS: Up next: fresh off calling the president a subhuman mongrel,
rocker -- well, ex-rocker Ted Nugent has another Nazi analogy up his
sleeve. Sleeve, that`s interesting.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS")

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": My favorite performance
of yours all year, State of the Union, just killing it at the State of the
Union.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: This is just -- look at you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MEYERS: If there was -- so many finger guns -- if there was an NRA for
finger guns, you would be the president.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: This is my favorite, this one right here. Look at -- I don`t know
if you can pick up on social cues, but he is not that into you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Time now from the "Sideshow."

As you can see, Joe Biden joined Seth Meyers for his late-night debut,
along with comedian Amy Poehler. She was right there on the couch.

We saw what the vice president had to say about 2016 on "The View" earlier
today. But last night, he was careful not to overshadow Meyers with what
he called a big announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS")

MEYERS: You have been very open about talking about 2016 and considering
what you`re going to do. Where are you in your thought process? What are
you taking into account?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I was
planning on making a major announcement tonight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: But I decided tonight is your night.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: Thank you. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: And so -- so I hope you will invite me back.

MEYERS: Yes, absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

MEYERS: And, Amy, your 2016 plans?

AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS: Oh, I`m going run for president.

MEYERS: OK, great.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Next up: It was just three days ago when he made a half-hearted
apology for calling the president a subhuman mongrel. But now Ted Nugent
has done it again. In an interview on Dennis Miller`s radio show
yesterday, the aging rocker likened President Obama`s policies to that of
Nazi Germany. I guess old habits die hard.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: There was an incrementalism to what happened in
Germany and other places historically, where they came in slowly, and they
started -- you know, the power struggle between different races and the
power struggle between different elements of society. And they
incrementally worked their way in.

And I think that`s what Obamacare is. That`s what I think most of what he
represents -- the IRS, I really believe that what we see with the IRS can
be compared -- compared accurately and historically to the early maneuvers
of -- of people like jackbooted thugs like the Brownshirts. I really
believe that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Oh. Do you think we have had enough of these Nazi comparisons?
Maybe we have had enough of Nugent.

Anyway, coming up: What is Governor Jan Brewer going to do about that
anti-gay bill out there in Arizona? She is trapped between the Republican
lawmakers who passed the darn thing and big business who wants it killed.

Will money talk? What do you think?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

President Obama announced the creation of two new manufacturing hubs
earlier. The public/private partnerships will be based in Chicago and
Detroit.

Debbie Dingell plans to run for the congressional seat being vacated by her
husband, who is retiring after nearly 60 years in Congress.

And Stanford University researchers are trying to find the cause of a
polio-like syndrome that has affected a cluster of children in California.
There have been about 20 cases over the past 18 months -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Governor Jan Brewer, who gets her name in the paper a lot, of Arizona has
until Saturday of this week, a few days from now, to decide whether to veto
a bill that would bolster the rights of business owners based on their
religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians.

NBC News is reporting she is likely to veto the measure. However, that`s
according to three people close to her in our reporting. The bill was
passed last week by the state legislature, even though three Republicans
who backed it now say they have changed their minds. It is strongly
opposed by many of the state`s business community, of course, who are
worried about an economic backlash.

According to Talking Points Memo, every major state business group,
including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have urged Governor
Brewer to veto the bill. So a number -- so have a number of major
corporations, including Apple, the computer company, American Airlines, and
Marriott, the hotel chain. The Arizona Super Bowl host committee also is
opposed to the bill.

In addition, the state`s two U.S. Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff
Flake, have publicly said the government should -- the governor should
veto. Here was McCain earlier today on that point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Most importantly, it`s the impression that
it`s creating because it is viewed as discriminatory. I think there is
some back-and-forth argument about whether it actually is or not. But this
can affect tourism. It can affect our state`s economy and job creation.

And the entire business community of Arizona is urging a veto of the bill
because of the impact they think it would have on them. So I hope that the
governor will veto this bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, will she or won`t she? That`s the question in Arizona the
next several days.

Any day now, she could veto it. But it has national implications, a lot of
money at stake here.

Brahm Resnik is a political reporter for KPNX-TV in Phoenix and Eugene
Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington Post."

Brahm, thank you so much for joining us.

I guess when we try to figure this out from a distance, my question is,
what is the intention of -- I mean, really, what`s the intention of this
law?

BRAHM RESNIK, KPNX-TV REPORTER: The specific intention of this law is to
basically eliminate a gay -- a lay -- an anti-discrimination law here in
Phoenix that protects the LGBT community.

The sponsor of this bill in the legislature last year lost a bitter fight
to prevent Phoenix from passing that civil rights ordinance. She came back
almost the very next day at the legislature with a law -- a bill similar to
the one we`re talking about right now. It did pass last year. Governor
Brewer vetoed it, mainly because she was in a fight with the legislature
over something else, the Medicaid expansion.

Kathy Hera, the woman behind the bill brought it back again this year. It
passed quickly. But you have to see it locally. It really is all about
getting around ordinances in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, our largest
cities.

MATTHEWS: What is this about? Is this -- you can`t put a sign up or you
can put a sign up in a bar, this is a Christian bar, no gays allowed? I
mean, how far -- how do you -- what kind of law is this? I mean, how much
presidential behavior would this account -- would it countenance? If they
think you`re gay you can`t get in a hotel?

RESNIK: The truth is we really don`t --

MATTHEWS: I mean, what are we talking about here?

RESNIK: Well, let me give you a hypothetical. I bounced off a lawyer, he
said this was correct. So here in Arizona, we have the sheriff of Pinal
County, next to Phoenix, is a Republican. He is gay.

If he went to a hotel with another male and tried to check into a room,
that male may or may not be his partner, tried to check into a room, the
owner or manager of that hotel with a religious objection could deny Babeu
and his partner or his staffer service.

MATTHEWS: And is that the law of Arizona today that they can do that or do
they have to pass the law to have that, to be the ability of the owner to
say that?

RESNIK: That`s a very good point. Right now in Arizona, you can
discriminate against the LGBT community. They have no civil rights
protections except, as I said before, in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.
This bill would end that.

MATTHEWS: OK, Gene.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You know, I have to think -- I mean, I have to think, first of
all, people have -- can we get along with fewer laws and fewer regulations
in life. If you`re caterer, you don`t want to do this kind of wedding
ceremony, go to another caterer or say, you know, I`m not really happy you.
You don`t want the band playing at your wedding that doesn`t like you. You
don`t want the cater serving you who doesn`t like you.

But anyway, the rights are rights. And my question is, is this something
just to throw it at the gay community? Is this just some nasty shot, we
don`t like you? And that`s why people like McCain are against it?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It sounds like exactly that. I
mean, you know, look, these cities have ordinances they have chosen, their
citizens have chosen to protect LGBT rights, and this is the state saying,
no you can`t do that. You can`t have laws discriminating against these
people because we want you to be able to discriminate against them.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ROBINSON: You know, it`s making a point. But it seems to me that, you
know, this is about public accommodations. And one wonders if this would
pass constitutional muster if it were challenged. It certainly would be.

MATTHEWS: Is sexual orientation covered by the Civil Rights Act of `64?

ROBINSON: You know, not specifically, but who knows by extension? I`m
obviously not a lawyer.

But, you know, people did claim to have religious objections to, for
example, interracial dating or interracial marriage or, indeed, what they
used to call race mixing down where I grew up. And they said the Good Lord
didn`t intend that.

Well, you know, that was wrong.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk the money issue on this. I`m more comfortable
and more knowledgeable about. Arizona went through hell, didn`t they, with
the MLK holiday issue, right? And they don`t want to have another thing
like that. Is that the sentiment out there?

RESNIK: Absolutely. MLK, more recently SB-1070, did some really severe
damage to our economy.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.

I think money is going to talk out there. My bet is that the governor will
sign by tomorrow.

Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson, and Brahm Resnik for that reporting from
Phoenix.

Up next, here is a political lesson for some conservatives. It turns out
the Republican governors who have expanded Medicaid under Obamacare are the
ones in best shape now heading into the November elections.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Tomorrow, actor Seth Rogen testifies on Capitol Hill about the
effects of Alzheimer`s. His mother-in-law suffers from it, as my mom died
from it. Seth will be coming right here to HARDBALL to talk about it
tomorrow night. Seth Rogen, the great actor and great funny guy.

We`ll be -- we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It`s been nearly impossible to understate the far right`s hatred of
President Obama`s healthcare law, of course. And over the years, it`s been
their battle cry, their bugle horn. They have tried to weaken it, slander
it, defund it, destroy it, repeal it. When all that failed, they
threatened to blow up the global economy through a government default just
to delay the whole thing.

But what has been drowned out by the hate Obama noise machine is something
pretty astonishing when you think about it. Look at this. According to
"Politico", Republican governors who have embraced a key part of the law,
the expansion of Medicaid for low income citizens, are better positioned
politically than those who did not. They`re all front-runners right now
for reelection, and some are cruising to reelection.

You heard that right. The group includes Rick Snyder in Michigan, John
Kasich in Ohio, who was threatened with promises of a Tea Party challenger
thanks to his support of the law. Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Bill
Haslem in deep red Tennessee, and Brian Sandoval in Nevada, who is the only
Republican governor to support both the Medicaid expansion and a new state-
run insurance exchange.

Well, it doesn`t take a genius to see what`s going on here. For all their
blind hatred of the law, the health care law, it`s not hurting Republicans
to actually support it.

Kathleen Parker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The Washington
Post." And James Hohmann is the national reporter for "Politico".

James, I want you to start here.

I came across this, this morning, and I was stunned by this sort of
Manichaean world in which you either hate it or love it and people are all
divided in both sides.

And yet, some were quietly in the middle, right on the DMZ, are practical-
minded Republican governors who make decisions based on the interests of
their states and the finances here who have decided it`s smart to take the
federal matching money, to bring in the money actual they wouldn`t
otherwise have to take people who make a bit above the poverty level to get
them health insurance. It`s a single payer system, ironically, that
Republicans seem to like.

Explain.

JAMES HOHMANN, POLITICO: Yes, Chris, absolutely. There`s no question.
They see these tens of millions of dollars on the table from the federal
government and they think it`s crazy not to take the money and it`s a case,
you know, usually you hate the sin, love the sinner.

It`s hate the president in this case, but take the money available under
the law. And what they found is a lot of the conservatives and Tea Party
groups who were criticizing them, threatening primary challenges, they`re
not going to support the Democrat. So they end up standing alongside them,
no one is getting a primary challenge.

Meanwhile, it softens their image with independents and moderates. And so,
all these governors have started to do this and there`s been this effect
where other governors see conservatives taking the Obamacare money and then
now, they`re following suit.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s a good example, Kathleen, a people on the right
not punishing of governor for helping people who are working poor. The
people, the food stamp people, if you will, people in poverty. In this
case, people just the above -- the ones you have to look out for, it seems
to me, the ones who are trying to break into the middle class but they need
health care.

KATHLEEN PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. Well, the opposition to the
Medicare expansion all along has been problematic for Republicans for that
very reason. It`s hard to say, no, you shouldn`t help these very poor
people and yet you have to ask yourself, are you willing to take the money
now and pay later? Which is going to be the case.

I`m curious --

MATTHEWS: Some of the Republican guys a bit on the far right, if you`re
not here, I`d call them clowns. But everybody knows I think they are, like
Rick Scott of Florida. And guys who are in real trouble up in
Pennsylvania, Corbett. They`re not taking it.

They`re saying, screw you, Mr. President. We don`t care if it hurts our
working poor. We`ve got to show our right wing angry, even though we don`t
have it, we have to pretend it by trashing your program.

PARKER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: They do act -- Rick Scott, look at these people.

PARKER: Yes, no, I hear you. I hear you. But the thing is, though, I`m
not sure, I have to question the premise of this story with all due respect
as we say.

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

PARKER: But the two dots. I`m not sure they connect. I think these dots
are just doing their thing --

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me tell you, the way I put the program together is I
try to think about logic and the logic of people that normally you would
think would be vulnerable to right wing attack for playing ball, if you
will, with Obama.

In these very important big states of Michigan, Ohio and -- Michigan, Ohio,
New Mexico, Tennessee, Nevada, they add up to pretty average big states.
They`re playing ball with the president on something really important, this
healthcare bill, and nobody is firing at them. I find that fascinating.

PARKER: Well, let me just ask you this. Take Governor Snyder, for
example, in Michigan. Is he being -- is he going to be re-elected because
he embraced Medicaid expansion or because he lifted the economy?

MATTHEWS: No, it`s my argument -- go ahead. You go here, because my
argument, having read your article since you`re the expert, my argument
coming out of it was, you know what, it doesn`t hurt to play ball with
Obama in the interest of your state.

Your thoughts.

HOHMANN: Yes, absolutely. It helps. And in fact, the chairman of the
Democratic Governors Association told me over the weekend it`s harder to go
after the guys who have taken the money. It takes away one of the key
attack lines against them. It`s something they can cite.

What`s interesting, Chris, is that these Republicans still are afraid of
being seen as too close to Obama because they need to keep their base
enthusiastic. So, they`re coming up with cute euphemisms to kind of
explain why they`re taking the money. So, they don`t call it Obamacare,
Medicaid. They call it Healthy Michigan or Health Indiana or Healthy --
you know, insert the name of the state. They`re somewhat concerned about
getting whacked from their base for playing ball with the administration.

But you have people like Mike Pence, former congressman from Indiana, one
of the most vocal critics of Obamacare when it was being debated in the
House, he met with Kathleen Sebelius last Friday about finding a way for
Indiana to take the money available under the law.

PARKER: Well, it`s interesting, of course, governors have to actually
serve their people as opposed to Congress people.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it`s a real job.

PARKER: Yes, it`s a real job for them. And they have to face their
constituents every day. They do want to make their states function. And
maybe some of the people have accepted it is the law.

MATTHEWS: Don`t you remember the great Ronald Reagan role, and maybe,
James, you`re a young guy, you may remember it. Ronald Reagan said it`s
amazing how much good you can do if you don`t care who gets credit for it.

PARKER: There you go.

MATTHEWS: So, you change the name of the program, slap on Healthy Indiana,
Healthy Ohio and everybody is happy.

PARKER: But how ironic the Republican governors are putting in place what
amounts to a single payer program.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go back to James on that because I think that`s a key
point. Single payer is beginning to look to me, the simple solution to all
our problems. I`m not that far left normally but I feel like I`m getting
there. We don`t need more paperwork, more confusion, more this, or that.

It seems it`s beginning to look for certain people in certain economic need
a single-payer makes a lot of sense, like people over 65, or people just
above the poverty line.

HOHMANN: Well, there`s no question, Chris, that the Republican governors
who are taking this money to expand Medicaid are making it harder for their
brethren on Capitol Hill to undo the law or to roll back parts of it. Once
you offer these expanded entitlements, you know, a state like Michigan is
never going to take them away. That`s not going to be politically
feasible.

So, I think in a lot of ways, these Republican governors are --
undercutting might not be the best word -- but making it harder for the
Republicans on Capitol Hill who continue to take these repeal votes, you
know, week after week.

MATTHEWS: Well, that will be the name of a future book of mine,
"Liberalism always wins, dot, dot, dot, eventually."

Thank you, James Hohmann. And thank you, Kathleen Parker.

It`s true, on civil rights and everything.

Anyway, we`re right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:

Upfront we hit the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is thinking strongly
of running for president, even if Secretary Hillary Clinton runs herself.

Well, this is good old-fashioned Democratic politics and may not be smart,
who knows? But it`s certainly as I said good old-fashioned Democratic
politics. Unlike Republicans, Democrats don`t sit around deciding whose
turn it is. They don`t stand aside and let the lucky one get the
nomination without the contest.

I`m also of the opinion that there`s nothing like a primary fight to get
somebody ready for the general election.

It killed Jimmy Carter to stand in the Rose Garden when he should have been
duking it out with Ted Kennedy. It helped the first George Bush before
taking on Mike Dukakis. The first (INAUDIBLE) televised spring tussle with
Dan Rather, remember that one? We`ll see.

As I said at the start of the show, I can`t think of a reason why Joe Biden
would do this match with Hillary Clinton if he wasn`t going to come roaring
out at the bell.

And 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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