April 9, 2014
Guests: Jimmy Carter, Elijah Cummings, Anna Palmer
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Jimmy Carter says never bomb Iran.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York.
"Let Me Start" tonight with the major headlines from my interview this
afternoon with President Carter. He made some big news -- that the United
States should not attack Iran, even if it builds a nuclear weapon. He said
Israel has 300 nuclear bombs, and Iran wouldn`t dare use a small arsenal of
nuclear weapons out of fear of being totally destroyed as a country.
Other headlines, President Carter said that Israeli prime minister
Bibi Netanyahu deliberately created a stumbling block in the way of Middle
East peace by demanding Arab countries recognize Israel as, quote, "a
Jewish state." He said no Arab state would ever agree to such a deal.
The former president said that the only way to get a deal between
Israel and the Palestinians would be for President Obama himself, not
Secretary Kerry, to present an American plan for peace and call out Israel
or the Palestinians for refusing to accept it.
On U.S. domestic policy, he didn`t endorse Hillary Clinton for
president, but he said if she did become president, we would have someone
in the White House who would fight fervently for women`s equality.
But I began by asking President Carter about the Middle East.
MATTHEWS: As I said to you before we went on the air, before we
talked, Mr. President, that I watched you -- you were at the front of the
theater the other night in Washington, when they had a great play about
your championing the cause of peace between Israel and Egypt back in `78,
when you really brought about the first ever really enduring peace between
an Arab country and Israel.
What about today, when you watch John Kerry, the secretary of state,
over there having a very difficult time with Netanyahu and with Mahmoud
Abbas? What is going on? Do you think Israel is pushing too hard to be
recognized as a, quote, "Jewish state"? Is that just something that`s just
something the Arabs can`t agree to? What`s your thinking?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think
that any Arab country can agree to that. And this is something, as you
know, that`s been resurrected, resurrected just recently, first by
Netanyahu. This never was an issue when I was in office and trying to
And I think that John Kerry has done a heroic job in trying to bring
about an end to the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians. I hope
he`s successful. I think he needs more help, overt help and dynamic help
from the White House. I don`t think we`ll have ever a peace agreement
CARTER: ... unless the president of the United States is the leading
character in mediating between the two.
MATTHEWS: Do we have to put -- meaning "we," the United States --
does the president of the United States, as you did in Camp David -- do you
have to put the paper on the table and say, This is the American plan? Is
this the way you have to go to get something done?
CARTER: I think so. It`s better to do it in private, like I did.
But you know, if it is a breakdown in this present effort, and I hope it
won`t be a breakdown, then I would like to see John Kerry or preferably
President Obama put down on the table for the world to see, These are the
proposals that America made and has raised and the Palestinians rejected
them, and they should be the foundation for the resumption of effort in the
MATTHEWS: Well, again back to Netanyahu, do you believe his putting
on the table this requirement that all Arab countries recognize Israel not
just as an independent sovereign state that has a right to exist, but has a
right to exist, quote, "as a Jewish state" -- do you think he knew that
that would be the ultimate stumbling block this time around?
CARTER: I don`t know what he knew, but I was -- I happen to have been
in Israel when he made that statement for the first time, by the way, after
President Obama made a very wonderful statement in Cairo that no more
settlements would be permitted. And at the time, I felt that this was an
issue that Netanyahu raised to make an insurmountable stumbling block for
the Arab countries, yes.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at Dick Cheney, the former vice
president. He spoke at Sheldon Adelson Republican Jewish Coalition event
in Las Vegas, which I thought was rather an embarrassing event for these
people. And "Mother Jones" magazine`s obtained an audio of that speech.
It`s hard to hear, but at one point, the former vice president, Dick
Cheney, seems to speak approvingly of bombing Iran`s nuclear program.
Cheney describes a dinner he had with an Israeli general who few Israeli
Defense Force missions that destroyed Iraq`s nuclear reactor in `81 and
Syria`s in 2007.
Here`s how Cheney recalled that conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE)
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of him sort of fondly recounting the idea
that Israel is hawkish enough to bomb Iran? And what`s your general view
of what would cause you to ever support such a measure? Would you support
bombing Iran if there was no other way to keep them from nuclear weapons,
or would you say we can contain them even if they get a weapon?
CARTER: Well, you know, I never have felt that Israel had the
capability militarily to go 1,200 miles or more and bomb Iran effectively
and then return back to Israel. The only country on earth that has that
capability would be the United States, and I don`t believe it`s appropriate
for the United States to bomb Iran over this issue, no.
MATTHEWS: Even if they have a nuclear weapon.
CARTER: Well, you know, they got one nuclear weapon, Israel has,
what, 300 or more? Nobody knows exactly how many. And I know that every
Iranian realizes that if they should try to use a nuclear weapon, Iran
would be wiped off the face of the earth, which I think is so ridiculous, a
self-destructive decision that they would not do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief of
"Mother Jones" magazine, and of course, an MSNBC political analyst. Lots
of news there. Let`s talk about this Middle East. The softest was his
basic statement that you can`t get peace between the Arabs and the Israelis
unless the Americans are out front, they lead from the front, they put
something on the table and call out either side -- I think he mentioned the
Palestinians, but either side if they don`t go along or they just say
they`re not going to go along with it. We have to be the leaders. What do
you make of that because we`re not going that route right now?
DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I can understand
that`s his perspective because he got the peace settlement, Camp David,
between Egypt and Israel by being very assertive and taking a very -- you
know, kind of pushy American role there.
But if you look at the Oslo accords in 1993, that was actually driven
first out of Oslo, not out of the White House. Bill Clinton then, you
know, blessed it, and they had the big, you know, signing ceremony here at
the White House. And then when Bill Clinton, at the end of his
administration, tried to actually put out American plan and get Arafat and
at the time Ehud Barak to agree to it, at the very last days of his
presidency, that fell apart.
You know, I`m -- so I think, you know, it depends on who you`re
working with at the time. If he really thinks that Bibi Netanyahu is
sabotaging purposefully the peace process by putting up this new demand
that Arab nations recognize Israel as a Jewish nation, then it`s really not
going to matter what the Americans put forward. If you don`t have good
faith at one -- you know, on -- from either side or even from one side,
nothing`s going to work out.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to the one -- it`s like the top 10 on
Letterman -- we`re going to now the most severe statement, which I think is
the big headline, that the United States shouldn`t bomb, even if we know
they`ve got a weapon or so over there, they actually have a workable
Now, let`s take a look now what the President Obama position is, which
is very, to me, starkly different than President Carter`s, although they`re
both men of the democratic Party, and on foreign policy, probably both men
on the left. President Carter`s views are in stark contrast to the
administration, I said.
Here is the president of the United States in 2012.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, a
nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would
threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the
stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race
in the region and the unraveling of the nonproliferation treaty.
That`s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government
accountable, and that`s why the United States will do what we must to
prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Prevent nuclear weapon getting into the hands of the...
MATTHEWS: Here`s John Kerry, the secretary of state, echoing the
president just last month at an AIPAC conference. Let`s watch Secretary
Kerry on the same point, making the same point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN Kerry, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me sum up President Obama`s
policy in 10 simple, clear words -- unequivocal. We will not permit Iran
to obtain a nuclear weapon, period!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So David, how`s the deterrence argument going to go over
coming from former President Carter that you can let them have a few, or
one at least, and deal with that because of common sense would say, Don`t
go to war with Israel, which has at least, as President Carter said, 300.
I think they may have even more.
But what do you make of that deterrence argument? Our administration
today rejects the idea that deterrence would be safe enough.
CORN: Right. Well, you know -- you know, the Democrats and the
Republicans, I think, both run a little bit scared of the hawks who favor,
you know, a strong, assertive policy on this. They don`t want to be seen -
- accused of selling out Israel if they`re not as strong on Iran as some
You know, the interesting thing, Chris, is if you go back a couple of
years, "Ha`aretz," the great Israeli newspaper, quoted the Israeli chief of
Mossad saying that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it`s not an existential
threat to Israel. You know, he wasn`t happy about it, but he said it`s not
an existential threat.
So here we often have...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it great in Israel? You`ve been over there and I`ve
been over there. You can actually have free speech over there on these
topics. You can have different opinions.
CORN: Well, I get the sense -- I get sometimes the sense that here,
people are more Catholic than the pope...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree.
CORN: ... you know, that they -- you know, that they -- they have to
be more hawkish than even the Mossad chief of Israel, and there`s very
little political space for Barack Obama or John Kerry to say, You know,
we`re going to do everything imaginable, everything possible, to prevent
Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but if they do get a nuclear weapon,
well, we`ll have to figure out how to deal with that best at the time.
That would not be good enough for most people here, and they would be
lambasted for being...
MATTHEWS: I agree with you.
CORN: ... weak and dovish. And you know, so I understand why they
use that rhetoric. The problem is, when you use that rhetoric, sometimes
it boxes you into a corner, and you`re left with no good choices.
MATTHEWS: Well said. More now from my interview with President
Carter earlier today, when I asked him about Hillary Clinton. Let`s watch
Carter on that topic.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Hillary Clinton. Have we reached a
point -- I know you are very topical in your books -- the fact that you`ve
written a book about women`s rights and how you have to square it with
different religions, like Islam, and how it`s -- you`re championing the
cause really here of equal rights for women, true equal rights.
Is this one of those ideas, like -- Todd Purdom`s written about Civil
Rights in the `60s, an idea whose time has come. Has a woman president --
has that time arrived? Obviously talking about Secretary Clinton here.
CARTER: Well, I think it`s always been here. We should have
considered a long time ago that women were equal to men in right to hold
public office in this country. If you look at all the local, state and
federal level incumbents, women only occupy about 18 percent in America,
which places us 78th in the entire world in total number of women compared
to men in holding public office.
And of course, we`ve had other countries that have had women prime
ministers and presidents, and so forth. I know a lot of them and have
known a lot of them. Some of them were champions of women`s rights and
some of them kind of avoided the issue because they didn`t want to get
involved in it.
So I`m not taking any position on a particular election, but just to
show that America lags behind in women holding public office, and also
women getting equal pay. And we have horrendous slavery in this country.
The State Department estimates that 100,000 girls were sold into sexual
slavery last year in the United States. And we know that rampant on
college campuses is sexual assault, with only 1 out of 25 cases of sexual
assault on a college campus reported to the authorities.
So those are the kind of things that bother me most about American
life and how we can be leaders in the world in promoting women`s rights
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think would be good about having Hillary
Clinton president? Maybe you don`t want to say you want to endorse her or
anything, but it seems to me you might have an opinion, just like having
the first African-American president -- what would be the emblematic value
of having Hillary as president in terms of respect for women?
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think there`s any doubt that having President
Obama in office has elevated the awareness of inequality of treatment
between the races. And I imagine that Hillary Clinton would be fervent as
a president, if she`s elected, in promoting the equal rights of women.
I would like to see personally the Equal Rights Amendment to the
United States Constitution passed. As you know, back in the days when
Gerald Ford and I were in the White House, we had two thirds of the Senate
and two thirds of the House approved an amendment to make Equal Rights
Amendment mandatory, but we couldn`t get three fourths of the states to
ratify it. I`d like to see that resurrected and passed into law in our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: President Carter`s new book, which is near the top of "The
New York Times" bestseller list already, is called, "A Call to Action:
Women, Religion, Violence and Power."
David Corn, that wasn`t an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, it was a
generic commentary. What did you think?
CORN: Well, yes, he -- you gave him a chance to talk about Hillary
Clinton, and instead, he talked about, quite admirably, you know, sexual
enslavement, sexual assault on campuses, and bringing back the Equal Rights
Amendment, which was very prominent back in the `70s.
He really didn`t look like he was enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton
per se. He stuck to the issue, and that may be just he`s a president and
he wants to stay out of the political fray. But you know, I think the
political animals who watch this show will notice, given the chance to
embrace the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency warmly, Jimmy Carter
chose not to do so.
MATTHEWS: I expect that Hillary-land will notice the sin of omission.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn, for your great analysis. I agree
with everything you said in terms of the politics of this thing.
CORN: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll have more of my interview with Jimmy Carter later
in the show, including his thoughts on what the Bible has to say about
women and on keeping his virginity, which he talks about, right up until he
got married. Very admirable there.
But coming up, the right`s three big obsession on full display, the
IRS, of course, Fast and Furious, and of course, Benghazi. One top
Democrat says the right-wing tantrum has the whiff of Joe McCarthy.
Also, Chris Christie`s paying a steep toll because of "bridge gate."
A new poll shows people in New Jersey think the investigation clearing him
-- I mean by that, his investigation -- is a whitewash.
Plus, there was once talk of John Kerry and John McCain running on the
same ticket. Hard to believe when you see how the two veterans of Vietnam
went at it in a Senate hearing today.
Finally, can you find Ukraine on a map? If you can, you`ll have fun
seeing where most of your Americans think Ukraine is. Steve Colbert
certainly had fun with that one.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: More fireworks on Capitol Hill today. Listen to Senator
John McCain going after Secretary of State John Kerry, actually yesterday -
- in a Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: On the issue of Ukraine, my hero,
Teddy Roosevelt, used to say, "Talk softly, but carry a big stick." What
you`re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick -- in
fact, a twig.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A twig. Moments later, Kerry hit back with a Teddy
Roosevelt quote of his own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Your friend Teddy Roosevelt also said
that the credit belongs to the people who are in the arena who are trying
to get things done. And we`re trying to get something done. That`s a
Teddy Roosevelt maxim, and I abide by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tough talk.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Over the past 24 hours,
Republicans have blared the bugle horn on the IRS, Benghazi, Fast and
Furious, to the point of near absurdity.
First up, the IRS. Led by Republican congressman Darrell Issa,
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee will vote tomorrow to hold
former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt. The reason? For exercising
her 5th Amendment right not to testify in front of the committee.
Democrats on the committee are circulating a report from the Congressional
Research Service -- that`s the Democrats circulating it -- which shows that
these kinds of prosecutions haven`t been successful since the McCarthy era,
specifically when the House Committee on Un-American Activities was hunting
down alleged communists.
And if that`s not thorough (ph) enough to illustrate the party`s out-
of-control tactics these days, here`s a clip from last month`s Oversight
Committee hearing, when Issa literally shut down a hearing in a middle of a
statement being made by the Democratic ranking member, Elijah Cummings,
which Issa later apologized for.
Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: For the past year, the central
Republican accusation in this investigation...
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN: We`re adjourned. Close it down.
ISSA: Thank you.
CUMMINGS: I am a member of the Congress of the United States of
America. I am tired of this.
CUMMINGS: We have -- we have members up here each who represent
700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is
absolutely something wrong with that, and this is absolutely un-American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear, hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings joins us right now.
He`s a Democrat from Maryland.
Thank you, sir, for coming on, as always.
What is the pattern of what they are trying to do in the Republican
House? It seems to me there now -- here, the Ways and Means Committee is
going after Lois Lerner. They keep banging on the door of the IRS. Do
they have anything, except accusing them of exercising their Fifth
Amendment rights? What do they have on the people over at the IRS?
CUMMINGS: You know, I don`t know. We have now interviewed some 38
witnesses, gone through 500,000 pages of documents, and it just seems as if
they want to continue to put out the headlines and cannot find the facts to
back them up.
MATTHEWS: How do they make Lois Lerner, who is, not to use the
expression negatively, but a government bureaucrat, someone who is not a
partisan, didn`t run for office, didn`t get appointed as a politician,
somebody who works in the bowels of an agency, which is normally not that
interesting to most politicians, how do they make her into the punching
bag, the pinata here? What -- she doesn`t seem like a very interesting
villain to me.
CUMMINGS: Yes. Well, you know, as a matter of fact, the I.G., the
inspector general, said that Lois Lerner did not learn about these use of
inappropriate terms, Chris, until a year after they started it, started
using them at IRS.
I think basically what the Republicans are trying to do is drag out
this whole episode straight through the 2014 elections, and then perhaps
even beyond that.
Keep in mind that Chairman Issa had an opportunity to hear from Ms.
Lerner. As a matter of fact, her lawyer back in March asked for a one-week
delay. He was going to bring her in and she was going to talk about, you
know, whatever he wanted to talk about, but he denied them that opportunity
to come in.
So you have to wonder, you know, is this about dragging it on? And
tomorrow we will have a vote, and I expect that they will try to find her
MATTHEWS: How are you going to vote, do you know?
CUMMINGS: Oh, of course I`m going to vote no, because I think that
she has a constitutional right not to incriminate herself.
I think she did that. She asserted her right, and we have not seen
this in -- since the McCarthy era, where somebody had asserted their right
not to incriminate themselves and then was placed in contempt criminally
for asserting that right. That`s basically what it boils down to, and we
have got 30 experts, both Republican and Democratic experts, who say that
this whole issue has been botched.
And so, when it goes to the courts, it`s going to have a very
difficult time once it gets past the House of Representatives.
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the message here? I kind of -- putting
together their focus on the IRS, although nothing -- they have got no pay
dirt on that issue, Fast and Furious down along the border, Benghazi, is it
that President Obama is a tyrant, a huge almost imperial sort of presence
in Washington, running everything, kicking people around?
At the same time, it seems to be sending a message of inattentiveness.
I mean, what is -- what is the bad guy here? Who is -- what are they --
what cartoon are they constructing? I`m not sure. What do you see them
trying to do?
CUMMINGS: Chris, I think you have -- I think you have said it a lot
of times. I have heard you say it.
I think what they`re trying to do is, one thing, put an asterisk
besides name in history, to say that he was not the great president that he
is. Two, I think this is about 2014 elections and 2016 elections, can drag
out, make the Obama administration look bad. Then, hopefully, that can
translate into votes for the Republicans.
Keep in mind in the last election two years ago, Democrats, the
cumulative Democrat -- Democratic vote throughout the country in the House
of Representatives was more than that of the Republicans. So people --
people know, understand what`s going on and, unfortunately, because of
gerrymandering, we have some -- it`s difficult for us to take over the
But they get it.
MATTHEWS: OK, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings fighting the good
fight, thank you, sir.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, during a House Judiciary Committee, Louie
Gohmert, a birther Republican from Texas, basically threatened Attorney
General Eric Holder with another contempt vote, something that Holder
didn`t take lightly, as you will see here. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Now, I realize that contempt is not a
big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You don`t want to go there,
HOLDER: You don`t want to go there, OK?
GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?
GOHMERT: About the contempt?
HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me.
I think that it was inappropriate and it was unjust, but never think
that that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.
GOHMERT: So, we have been trying to get to the bottom of Fast and
Furious, where people died, where at least a couple hundred Mexicans died,
and we can`t get the information to get to the bottom of that, so I don`t
need lectures from you about contempt.
HOLDER: And I don`t need lectures from you either.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman...
HOLDER: Good luck with your asparagus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You might be curious why Holder, the attorney general, told
Gohmert, "Good luck with your asparagus."
What a strange line. Well, it`s a shot actually Gohmert`s out-of-
control tactics during a hearing last year, when he, the congressman from
Texas, flustered Gohmert, tried to pin some of the blame for the Boston
Marathon bombings on Holder. Here`s Louis Gohmert back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: The attorney general failed to answer my questions about
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will suspend.
GOHMERT: ... was asked, and then in turn casts aspersions on my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "On my asparagus."
What is this, like, precious bodily fluids? What`s he trying to talk
about? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
We`re joined right now by political analyst and word expert former
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
MATTHEWS: That is one of the craziest -- I was going to say like
something from Jack Nicholson in "Batman." Don`t mess with another man`s
What is asparagus?
MATTHEWS: Is this discernible, Governor?
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is not discernible.
And, you know, although this is painful for people like Eric Holder
and for Mrs. Lerner, it`s also a very good plus for Democrats, because one
of the things that I think we have to keep repeating is, you can`t turn the
Congress of the United States over to these guys lock, stock, and barrel.
They are crazy. "Aspersions on my asparagus." He`s absolutely loony.
They`re wacko. They pass wacko -- they try to pass wacko legislation.
And, plus, they are doing things that the American people hate. The
American people hate it when Democrats did it to President Bush. They hate
it when Republicans do it to the Obama administration.
They want Congress to get down to work. And when they see stuff like
this, all the negativism, all the angry attacks on the administration, all
the threatening to hold people in contempt, they say to themselves, it`s a
three-ring circus. We can`t entrust the government to these guys. And
that`s one of the best weapons.
I said earlier this month, Chris, that if the elections were held
right now, the only thing that could stop the Republicans from winning a
solid victory in the Congress is the Republicans themselves.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the point.
You know, back in the 50th Congress, back in -- during Harry Truman`s
time, after Roosevelt died, and the crazy Republican Party elected in 1946,
and they used to say they opened every session with a prayer and ended it
with a probe. All they did was hold probe after probe after probe, and
they never solved the country`s challenges coming out of World War II.
This crowd, with all the challenges you and I know this country faces,
getting a coherent fiscal policy, dealing with the long-term debt, dealing
with immigration in some real way that we`re proud to do it, getting these
problems like the environment dealt with, rebuilding the country in the big
cities like you love so well, doing it, none of this is getting done.
All they do is sit around about these scraps of history that they
focus on and they think they can make the biggest deal out of. I know
Benghazi was a tragedy, but there are a lot of tragedies growing every day
in this world that they are not paying attention to, like the planet, the
fiscal policy, and the failure to have a decent immigration policy.
They don`t address those big questions. They focus on Fast and
Furious and the IRS. They are chasing rabbits. I don`t know how they
think they can win on this, but they must figure in their polling these
things are winnable. I don`t know. Why are they doing it?
RENDELL: I think they do it to -- to stir up the base, and their
theory is that this will be a low-turnout election, and if their base votes
to a higher percentage than the Democratic base votes, they will win the
But they have got to worry about independent voters and even moderate
Republicans. And there are, as you know, moderate Republicans in the
Philadelphia suburbs and the Columbus suburbs and the Cleveland suburbs.
They are all over. There are still 40 or 50 moderate Republicans who hold
congressional seats, and they need the support of moderate Republicans and
And when they look at this, they might say to themselves, well, gee, I
sort of like my congressman, but we can`t keep putting these guys in
charge. "Aspersions on my asparagus"?
MATTHEWS: I think that guy`s got some explaining to do.
Anyway, thank you, Governor Ed Rendell.
MATTHEWS: I think asparagus...
RENDELL: As we say in Philadelphia -- as we say in Philadelphia, he`s
got some `splaining to do.
MATTHEWS: So well said. Thank you.
Up next: some revisionist history about slavery and the Civil War from
former Senator Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and time for the "Sideshow."
Ukraine may be in the news a lot these days, but a recent "Washington
Post" poll found that, catch this, only one in six Americans could find
Ukraine on a map. What`s more surprising, however, is just how far off
some people were. Their guesses ranged across six continents, and some
participants in the poll even thought that Ukraine was here in the United
But, according to Steve Colbert, that shouldn`t necessarily matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": The exact poll...
COLBERT: ... found the less Americans know about Ukraine`s location,
the more they want the U.S. to intervene.
COLBERT: Damn straight. This is America, and we don`t need to know
where a country is to send troops there.
The Ukraine is wherever the American people say it is.
COLBERT: And according to this poll, Americans say it is everywhere.
COLBERT: You cannot trust maps. They are always changing their
story. One day, it`s Pangaea. Three hundred million years later, it`s
COLBERT: Come on.
COLBERT: Make up your mind. Is Alaska up here...
COLBERT: ... or is it tucked under Arizona next to Hawaii?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Finally, Jim DeMint is rewriting history today. In an
interview with the Christian radio talk show "Vocal Point with Jerry
Newcombe," the president of the Heritage Foundation, actually claimed that
the federal government claimed no part in freeing the slaves.
Instead, he says it was the conscience of the American people. This
one`s a doozy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "VOCAL POINT WITH JERRY NEWCOMBE")
JIM DEMINT (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The reason that the slaves were
eventually freed was the Constitution.
I mean, it was like the conscience of the American people, but the
Constitution kept calling us back to all men are created equal, and that we
had inalienable rights in the minds of God, but a lot of the move to free
the slaves came from the people. It did not come from the federal
It came from just a growing movement among the people, particularly
people of faith, that this was wrong. So no one, no liberal is going to be
able to win a debate that big government freed the slaves.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A, it wasn`t a grassroots movement that freed the slaves,
as Mr. DeMint describes. It took something called the Civil War and
600,000 dead people to do that. Remember? And, B, DeMint attributes the
quote that all men are created equal and that refers to our inalienable
writes to the Constitution, but actually those words come from the
Declaration of Independence.
He`s so wrong on so many counts, he couldn`t be any more of an
embarrassment. And, by the way, the Heritage Foundation is supposed to be
the brain trust to the American right.
Up next: White wash, that`s what most people in New Jersey think of
this so-called investigation that cleared the government there, Chris
Christie, of wrongdoing in the Bridgegate scandal.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
President Obama and the first lady traveled to Fort Hood today to meet
with victims` family members and attend a memorial for those killed in last
week`s shooting. Three people were killed and 16 were wounded before the
gunman took his own life.
A Pennsylvania teen stabbed 22 people earlier at a Pittsburgh area
high school. At least five students were critically hurt.
And, in Florida, a car crashed into a day care center, killing one
child. Eleven other children and three adults were injured in that
And now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Late this afternoon, a big development in the Chris Christie bridge
investigation. The legislative committee investigating the lane closures
lost its bid to force Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, two key figures in
the scandal, to comply with subpoenas for documents. The judge`s ruling
appears to be a break for Governor Chris Christie and he could use it
following the results of a new Quinnipiac poll.
As we reported a lot over the past weeks, Christie attorney Randy
Mastro conducted an investigation into the bridge scandal, quote, "at
taxpayer expense", and issued a report that, quote, "surprise, exonerated
Well, New Jerseyans aren`t buying it. A Quinnipiac poll asked people
in that state whether the investigation was legitimate or a white wash, 56
percent, an unambiguous majority, say it was a wash. That`s in Jersey.
Just 36 percent thought the report was a legitimate investigation.
Well, Governor Christie may have made a big mistake when he ordered an
investigation of himself. He underestimated his own constituents, you
might say. They are too smart.
Joining me right now: "The Washington Post`s" Chris Cillizza. He`s
also an MSNBC political analyst.
And Anna Palmer is senior Washington correspondent for "Politico."
Thank you, two.
It`s always interesting to see an entire state as a focus group,
Chris, and to watch and think how`s it reacting?
Well, it`s reacting the way most people would, it seems to me. This
guy went out and paid $600,000 of state money to investigate at least his
side of the story, and they presented his side of the story. And I think
the voters are now saying when they are polled about it say, well, that`s a
I`m not sure it`s a whitewash, but anybody that thinks it`s the whole
story is missing the whole story.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don`t think it`s a whitewash,
but if Chris Christie -- well, I think what the poll numbers show, Chris,
is if Chris Christie thought this report would be the end or sort of sewing
up the last suture on that political wound, we`re not there yet. I
actually think the news today from the judge not saying that two of the
main -- Bill Stepien, Bridget Kelly -- having to relate documents related
to bridgegate, that`s a big deal in that clearly is something that this
legislative committee wanted and they are not going to get, at least
But I would remind people, there are concurrent investigations going
on. There`s a federal investigation going on, there`s also this, within
the New Jersey legislature investigation going on. That ruling pertains to
the New Jersey legislature.
You know, I continue to think that this is going to not get better for
Chris Christie for a while. It`s going to be hard for him to go beyond it,
but look, the legislative committee not getting access to everything
Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien did is a victory for the Christie forces.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go back to that, let me go to Anna, to you the
question. Steve Kornacki of our network has been all over this story, up
in New Jersey, I just talked to him before I come on the air. His
analysis, which I`m sure he`s going to offer on the air, is that basically
the reason that the judge wouldn`t come forward and support the subpoena
was because the federal agents, they are investigating this at the federal
level, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, and they don`t want to get in his
ANNA PALMER, POLITICO: Yes, I think what this actually shows is
there`s going to be a constant drip, drip, drip, which is really the
problem politically for Chris Christie, right, while this was a small
victory in terms of letting the criminal investigation actually, you know,
take place, you don`t know when those -- you know, they`re going to be
letting out more information. So he can`t really control that as much as
he can say this was a political investigation. When you`re looking at
criminal charges or, you know, you don`t know where that investigation
might go, they can start asking other questions or people can offer up
other things that maybe aren`t, you know, related directly to this, but are
related to the Chris Christie administration.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess the question. Look at this poll now that
shows basically 51 percent of the people in New Jersey believe the governor
was aware of what was going on. That`s the way people are looking at it --
51 percent say the governor`s aware, 42 percent say the aides acted alone.
And, by the way, do you think he`s a bully or a leader, 48 percent say
he`s a bully and 48 percent say he`s a leader.
That`s a close call, Chris Cillizza. Your thoughts?
CILLIZZA: Yes. You know, that second question, Chris, is sort of
fundamentally, let`s say he gets beyond this. I think that this is a big
distraction for him no matter what happens with these two investigations,
because some of his top political aides are focusing on testifying, doing
other things, not focusing on Iowa, New Hampshire, same thing with him.
But let`s say he gets beyond it. The fundamental question of Chris
Christie as a successful presidential candidate is, is he a no-nonsense,
straight-talking, different kind of leader, or is he sort of a brash bully?
And that question sort of gets at the root of it, 48/48 New Jersey, if he
moves beyond bridgegate and people in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina
and beyond get to look at him, that`s it, that`s the question -- do you
like what Chris Christie is selling, or are you off put by it, and it`s
hard to know the answer.
MATTHEWS: Anna, I think there`s a catch-22, as we used to say here,
if you vote, as a voter who asked about this in a opinion poll, did he know
what was going on with the bridgegate issue? Did he know what was going on
for Hoboken where the mayor down there, Dawn Zimmer, was basically held up
and told, you better play ball or you`re out of the game here, if he didn`t
know this stuff was going on, is he really running his state and can he run
the United States government, including the Pentagon, if he can`t keep
track of what his bullies are up to?
And the other question, if he`s -- do the Republican Party really want
to run somebody who half the people of the state think is a bully?
Your last question.
PALMER: I think this has gotten between a rock and a hard place. He
can`t -- I mean, you know, he`s gone on and said he didn`t know. So if it
comes out that he did, I think all of his credibility is really lost.
But at the same time, the real question is, he`s lost his biggest
political selling point, and if the people of his own state aren`t behind
him, it`s hard to see how if you`re a voter in Iowa, or you`re in New
Hampshire, or you`re in South Carolina, that you`re going to think this is
somebody we should elect and have be our nominee for president.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think they like bullies in Iowa, Chris. I don`t
think you guys -- we`ve ever met one out here.
CILLIZZA: I would say his style in Iowa is probably not -- his place
is New Hampshire, Chris. And that`s the question.
MATTHEWS: The further Northeast as you can get, actually.
Thank you, Chris Cillizza.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Anna Palmer, for joining us.
Up next, former President Jimmy Carter on women and the bible, and
admitting as he now does that he was a virgin until he got married to
Rosalynn. He has stuff like this in this new book of his.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling on a couple of key races this
November. Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
First to Florida, where incumbent Governor Rick Scott is in a tight
race with former Governor Charlie Crist. A new poll from Sunshine State
news finds Scott up one, 45-44. That`s a close one.
Next to the Senate race of Arkansas. Incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor
has a three-point lead over U.S. Congressman Tom Cotton in the latest Talk
Business/Hendrix College poll. It`s Pryor, 46, Cotton, 43.
If Pryor can hold on there, it makes it harder for Republicans to take
control of the U.S. Senate.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with more of my interview earlier today with the
39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.
He`s written a provocative new book, "A Call to Action: Women,
Religion, Violence, and Power." I asked the former president about his
views on what the Bible says about women. Let`s watch.
MATTHEWS: Mr. President, I read your new book, and what struck me is
your effort to reconcile your deep Christianity with your belief in equal
treatment and equal rights for women. And here`s the headline, I guess,
from the bible. You say, "For the husband, is the head of the wife, just
as Christ is the head of the church. The body of which he is the savior.
Just as the church is subject to Christ, so, also, wives ought to be in
everything to their husbands."
I mean, that`s kind of like sticking your chin out and then saying,
but that`s not really what the Bible says, and then it is what the Bible
says. How do you deal with that as an equal rights person?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, if you go back up one verse
from that, it says, "Husbands and wives respect each other." And then, of
course, we know that Jesus Christ never insinuated in any word or action
that women were inferior to men in any way. And Paul, who was a chief
theologian for Christians, as you know, wrote also to the Galatians.
All people are created equal in the eyes of God, men and women, slaves
and masters, and also Jews and gentiles. And Paul also wrote in chapter 2
of the Romans, Romans 16, it said, it listed 25 people who were early
champions of the Christian church of all levels of authority and about half
of those were women.
So, you can go through the Bible and select certain verses, that if
you want to, to prove that men are superior. But in my opinion, I always
go back to what Jesus did, he never insinuated at all that women were
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this great quote in here. You always
do this. You always say something pretty squirmly embarrassing in your
books. I don`t know why you do it.
But here`s a line from you in your -- I know you write this on your
own word processor. "I was always reluctant to let other young men know
that I was a virgin, feeling that it was somehow a reflection on my
You are an admirable fellow, obviously, besides being a great man
politically, but you mention you did not have sex with anybody until you
Why did you feel the need to put this bit of, what we call too much
information in your book? Why is that important?
CARTER: Well, just to show that even in those early days, when we
were basically relatively innocent about the sex issue, that women, if they
violated that rule about sex before marriage, they were condemned and made
almost outcasts in our society. But boys were looked upon as expected to
have sex before marriage. So there was a dual relationship then, as far as
men versus women, and pre-marital sex.
MATTHEWS: I also asked about his grandson, Georgia State Senator
Jason Carter, who`s running for governor of Georgia.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about your grandson. I met him briefly when he
came on. You had a book to talk about when he was in the Peace Corps. He
served very much where I did, but 30 or some years later.
You must be very proud of him. He is running neck and neck, in fact,
a little bit ahead in the race for governor of your state, the position you
held before you were president. How does it look for you?
CARTER: Well, to me, it looks very good. Jason is a very smart young
man. He`s a graduate of Duke University, worked for a couple of years for
the Carter Center all around the world, and then he went into the Peace
Corps and served in South Africa and then he went to law school and so
forth. He`s in the state Senate now.
He`s very aware of the problems all over Georgia and I think he`s
going to be a very good campaigner. His only potential handicap is the
ability of Republicans to raise enormous sums of money from the Koch
brothers and so forth that will be poured into Georgia to try to shape the
outcome of the election.
But if he can overcome that difficulty, I don`t think there`s any
doubt he`ll be the next governor.
MATTHEWS: Well, we don`t have much good to say about the Koch
brothers around HARDBALL place here. So, Mr. President, it`s always an
honor. It was an honor to serve you back in my very level position back in
the old days. It`s always an honor to watch you and appreciate your role
Thank you very much. Author of "A Call to Action: Women, Religion,
Violence, and Power," former President Jimmy Carter.
CARTER: Thank you very much, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Mr. President, thank you for your time.
MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a salute to former President
In all the many years since I worked for him as president, more than a
century since 1980, he has never failed to serve the planet or speak his
mind. He`s undeniably human, says what he thinks or what he feels like
saying. You decide which.
What he doesn`t offer up is something for public consumption. At his
age, he guards his integrity over his popularity, his pride in being Jimmy
Carter over his acceptance into some club, whether that be the club of the
politically correct or the Democratic Party itself.
Want to know what Jimmy Carter that has to say? Ask him. It won`t go
through a filter, because he`s thrown it away. It won`t be to garner votes
in the next election, because there won`t be a next election. It will be
to tell the truth, as Jimmy Carter knows it.
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
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>