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updated 4/11/2014 1:29:49 PM ET 2014-04-11T17:29:49

HARDBALL
April 10, 2014

Guest: Nia-Malika Henderson, Dale Ho, Jonathan Capehart, Page Hopkins,
David Corn

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Fire on the right.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with the right-wing assault not just on the
president, but government, government itself. Are they out to destroy not
just the party in power, the right wing, but the power of government? Is
this what people like Ted Cruz and birther types are up to, knocking over
not just Barack Obama or Washington, but the very institutions necessary to
support national authority itself?

Listen to Ted Cruz go at it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We need to abolish the IRS.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: We need to repeal Dodd-Frank. We need to audit the Federal
Reserve.

We need to repeal every single word of "Obama care"!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Abolish -- Cruz`s brand of blow-it-up politics, on display
right there at the CPAC convention, has become hot stuff on the hard right,
which has dedicated years trying to smear, undo or dismantle President
Obama or Clinton`s agendas. But not only that, they`re out for the
government itself, everything from the IRS to the Federal Reserve to the
Department of Justice itself, every part of the federal government. Listen
to them.

Just look now at the contempt Texas congressman Louie Gohmert showed
Attorney General Eric Holder this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I realize that contempt is not a big
deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper
oversight.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Don`t go there,
buddy. You don`t want to go there, OK?

GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?

HOLDER: No.

GOHMERT: About the contempt?

HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I
think that it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think
that was not a big deal to me. Don`t ever think that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, later in that same hearing, Republican congressman
Blake Farenthold -- by the way, a member of the Congress who won`t even
acknowledge President Obama is a legitimately elected president -- refused
to talk to the attorney general, saying the attorney general ought to be in
prison. This is how they talk now. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: I just don`t think it`s appropriate
that Mr. Holder be here. If an American citizen had not complied with one
of the Justice Department subpoenas, they would be in jail, not sitting
here in front and testifying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ought to be in jail. Here`s the attorney general reacting
to this right-wing contempt of him yesterday at Al Sharpton`s National
Action Network. I was up there right before him. Here`s what he said in
reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: I am pleased to note that the last five years have been
defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face --
even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive
adversity. If you don`t believe that -- you look at the way -- forget
about me. Forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of
the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. It had
nothing to do with me. Forget the -- what attorney general has ever had to
deal with that kind of treatment?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOLDER: What president has had to ever deal with that kind of
treatment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Joan Walsh is the editor-at-large with Salon and Nia-Malika
Henderson`s with "The Washington Post."

Joan, I have to tell you, what I`m thinking about here is when you
listen to these guys, people like Louie Gohmert and these people like
Farenthold -- they`re sort of the bunch of birthers who don`t even believe
Obama was born in this country or should be president legally...

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... they`re now going at it with Cruz, a little more
intellectual version of the same message. We don`t need a government, we
don`t need an IRS, we don`t need a Federal Reserve.

What are they really doing? Is this "Seven Days in May"? Is this
some sort of attack on the very structure of the constitutionality
government? And it works with their crowds. These are applause lines.

What do they mean when they say we`re not going to collect any more
taxes, we`re not going to have a Justice Department to enforce the law,
we`re not going to have any -- of course, they don`t like Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Is this just Ruby Ridge talk, or is this some new level of
play, which is, We`re going to bring down not just Barack Obama, we don`t
like for a lot of personal reasons, and Eric Holder for those same personal
reasons, or we`re bringing down this whole government -- "gummint," as
Louie Gohmert would call it? Go ahead.

WALSH: Well, I think it goes way back. I think it goes farther than
that, Chris. I mean, think about what Jim DeMint has said about that big
government did not end slavery, that it was people of faith and the, quote,
"love" of Abraham Lincoln and not government.

I mean, this is a deliberate effort to discredit government, to
discredit big government, to say it can`t do anything right, to so say
we`re going to withdraw its protections from our citizens. And Eric Holder
has been their punching bag from the beginning. You know, it goes back to
he wouldn`t prosecute the New Black Panther Party because three thugs with
guns showed up one day on election day, and there wasn`t evidence to
prosecute them, that there was an investigation.

It goes back to Fast and Furious. They`ve held him in contempt.
They`ve treated him like they`ve treated no attorney general in the history
of this country. So it`s an effort to repeal the federal government, to
repeal the 20th century, and to repeal the protections that have brought so
many rights to so many of us. And they`re not subtle about it anymore at
all.

MATTHEWS: You know, some of this reminds me of an old Snuffy Smith
comic, you know, a bunch of people out in the mountains somewhere in
Tennessee, worried about the revenuers coming. Anybody who works for the
government`s a bad guy, especially if he`s black. I`m sorry, Louie Gohmert
talks a certain way about this president. I`m not accusing Cruz of this,
but Gohmert and Farenthold, this idea the president`s not really
legitimate. That`s their first smear. Then they go on to further (ph),
like the government itself is illegitimate.

Your thoughts.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, no, I do think if
you`re black, you see that interaction there very differently than if
you`re white. I think you see it very differently if you`re progressive
versus...

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m white, and I see it the same way you do...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I see it because I look at the way they talk.

HENDERSON: I do think we are always in the middle of this ongoing
racial conversation. America is a racial experiment, right? And I do
think there are racial and class underpinnings to lot of the conversations
that we`re all having about the role of the federal government. Should it
be an activist role, or should it...

MATTHEWS: What do you make of Eric Holder, the -- the attorney
general, when he said, Don`t go there? Now, he used an idiomatic...

HENDERSON: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: ... sort of street corner thing, "Don`t go there."

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: It was -- I wouldn`t have said it that way...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... but he said it that way...

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... at which point, Gohmert, in his inimitable fashion...

HENDERSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... repeated the words, like he could put him down for the
words themselves.

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: This was -- this was a competition of...

HENDERSON: Oh, yes, I...

MATTHEWS: ... almost tribal proportions.

HENDERSON: That`s right. That`s right. I mean, this is street
talking.

MATTHEWS: Right.

HENDERSON: At some point, Gohmert...

MATTHEWS: It`s trash talk.

HENDERSON: Right, it`s trash talking. And Gohmert at some point had
a malapropism where he said something about...

MATTHEWS: Asparagus.

HENDERSON: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re going to try to disentangle that...

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Exactly. And then, you know, at some point, Holder said -
- you know, made a joke about that, you know, Don`t forget about your
asparagus...

MATTHEWS: Well, That`s going to follow him around like asparagus
follows everybody around!

HENDERSON: Right. I mean, Holder has been...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

HENDERSON: ... really up front about America and America`s
relationship with...

MATTHEWS: OK, how much of this is constitutional? How much of this
is states` rights talk? You know, Ted Cruz, he`s smart about this stuff.
He`s playing that states` rights card. We don`t believe in big government,
wee don`t believe in Washington, we don`t believe in the IRS.

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Probably don`t like the ATF. Probably don`t like
anything...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... Fish and Game, anything that says authority. What are
they up to with this?

HENDERSON: Well, again, I mean, this is the conversation. Reagan
would have this conversation when he would go down to the South, and you
know, campaign in South Carolina. He would, you know, praise some of those
-- you know, he would go to Bob Jones University, right? So I...

MATTHEWS: But Reagan would admit the existence of the Civil War,
unlike Jim DeMint, who thought that Stonewall Jackson and...

HENDERSON: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: ... Robert E. Lee were flower children!

HENDERSON: But he also...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... fought a war!

HENDERSON: Yes, but he also thought we shouldn`t have a Department of
Education. And that used to be where it was right? Let`s abolish just the
Department of Education...

MATTHEWS: Yes, well, the new stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the old stuff. Anyway, every since the president was
elected in 2008, the hard right hasn`t been shy in their contempt of the
office of president. Here`s just a sampling from the past couple years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I`m
proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

OBAMA: Not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that he is a Muslim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you belief that here? How many
believe -- wow!

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel your paint. I know. I stood 12 feet from
the guy (INAUDIBLE) and I couldn`t stand being there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me how I can impeach the president of the
United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, a lot of that -- you know, I`m sorry, I don`t think
you have to be a person of color to hear, when you don`t want to be near
the person, when you say he lies -- I`ve never heard this kind of treatment
of a president. And it seems to me that it`s very personal and ethnic, and
I don`t know any other way to look at it.

But it`s also a putdown by elected public officials of the very
government they`re working to serve. They`re putting down the institution
of the Congress when they put down the president speaking to Congress. And
they`re putting down the president when they`re putting -- when they`re --
they`re putting down the institution of the presidency.

I don`t know how they can separate it. I think they`re doing both at
the same time. They`re using Obama to beat the hell out of the government
itself and using the government and people`s problems with the government
to beat the hell out of Obama. Your thoughts.

WALSH: Well, you know, I think that they`ve been doing this from the
beginning. And I think that, you know, there`s been a real conversation
out on the Web about how -- you know...

MATTHEWS: Ugly.

WALSH: ... how ugly is this -- how ugly is this racism? How deep is
the racism? And how much are liberals just crying racism, using racism? I
think when you see those examples, Chris, there is race involved in the
reaction to this president.

Now, some people will say, Well, Bill Clinton was treated very badly
by Republicans. And I say two things to that. Yes, he was. A lot of it
was unfair. Some of it had to do with race because Bill Clinton was a
racial liberal, and his enemies went back to segregationist Arkansas.

MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a big difference.

WALSH: That was -- that was...

MATTHEWS: There`s a big difference!

WALSH: And then also...

MATTHEWS: Joan...

WALSH: And then he got himself in trouble. There are lots of...

MATTHEWS: Yes! That`s the point!

WALSH: ... differences. Well, but it`s not...

MATTHEWS: Here`s the point...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: With Bill Clinton, Joan...

WALSH: It predated -- you know, go back to Judge Johnson, go back to
Arkansas, Chris. It predated some of his troubles. I`m not saying he
didn`t do some of it to himself, but...

MATTHEWS: No, but I`m -- I`m -- OK, OK. You finish.

WALSH: There`s an element of -- he was a Civil Rights liberal. He
worked for George McGovern, and he was the enemy.

MATTHEWS: OK.

WALSH: And then Barack Obama is the enemy personified.

MATTHEWS: Let me try this with NIA.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Nia, there`s a difference in the way the hard right goes at
these two gentleman, both smart guys...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... both Ivy Leaguers and all that. We know brilliant they
are in many ways. And their weaknesses, we know those, too. With Bill
Clinton, they had to make specific charges. Oh, he murdered some people,
in the "Clinton Chronicles," or he had the relationship...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... with Monica, or they have to find certain things --
with Obama, it`s personal. They don`t need any particular charges. He
didn`t do anything wrong except exist in the White House, get elected
twice. That`s what they seem to be bothered by.

HENDERSON: No...

MATTHEWS: Him.

HENDERSON: They`re bothered by him. They`re bothered -- and there
are legitimate ideological differences here between these two sides,
between conservatives -- you`re smirking...

MATTHEWS: Well, because (INAUDIBLE) was a middle-of-the-road
president, just right down the middle with no philosophy, no health care
program, no fighting for poor people. If he`d just been a boring middle-
of-the-road president, sort of Jerry Ford-ish...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... that he wouldn`t have these enemies.

HENDERSON: You know, I...

MATTHEWS: I think Farenthold and Gohmert and Ted Cruz would be at his
throat anyway.

HENDERSON: Because you`re assuming that because they`re Southern
and...

MATTHEWS: No, because...

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: ... ideological...

MATTHEWS: "You lie," and what they did...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... the personal nature of the attack.

HENDERSON: You know, I can`t speak on that. I don`t know...

MATTHEWS: You`re not an American?

HENDERSON: I can`t...

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, how often does that happen, when...

HENDERSON: You know, I...

MATTHEWS: I don`t want to browbeat you, but how many times has a
person said about -- you know, George -- George, what`s his name -- George
Romney, his family moved to Mexico, and nobody made a big issue (INAUDIBLE)
John -- John McCain`s family, he was born in the Canal Zone. Nobody --
Barry Goldwater was born outside the States in the Arizona Territory.

HENDERSON: Right, and nobody`s making...

MATTHEWS: Nobody made that an issue. But with Obama...

HENDERSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... who was born in Hawaii, he`s somehow born somewhere
else. That`s what I`m saying.

HENDERSON: You know, I think the country is still getting used to the
idea of having a black president and an African-American first lady. I
mean, this is a country -- we have no African-American female senators.
You know, Lupita (ph) just won an Oscar for the -- you know, for the fifth
or sixth time in the history of the country. So I think we are naive to
think that at some point, race sort of ends.

It`s this ongoing conversation, this sort of ongoing experiment that
we`re having. And you know, I wouldn`t want to cast aspersions on any of
these congresspeople. I think they have legitimate concerns about this
president, as they see him, legitimate, ideological differences...

MATTHEWS: Does Farenthold have a legitimate...

WALSH: I will jump in...

MATTHEWS: ... question about whether this is a legitimate president
or not?

WALSH: I will jump in and say what...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Last word.

WALSH: Well, I will say what she won`t. Some of these guys do have a
racial problem with the president. Some of them don`t, but when you listen
to the list of the things that have been said about him they are different
from any other president, and they`re worse, and they`re racial. It`s not
all racial, but a lot of it is.

MATTHEWS: OK. All I know is that waste of time, Farenthold, from
Texas, who I`ve asked on this show...

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... and gave him plenty of time to answer it. I said, Was
he legitimately elected president? He won`t say it because the people back
home are worse than him.

Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh. He`ll love to hear that, by the way.
Joan Walsh, Nia-Malika Henderson, a great reporter for "The Washington
Post."

Coming up, a one-two punch from two presidents on the conservatives`
attack on voting rights, President Obama and Bill Clinton both warning
right now the Republicans know they can`t win national elections anymore
without making it harder for Democrats to vote. That means minorities and
young people.

Plus, the latest on the growing whiff -- rift between -- it wasn`t a
whiff, it was a rift -- between the GOP`s Cheney war wing and the Rand Paul
isolationist crowd -- I should say libertarian crowd. We`ve got new video
of Rand Paul taking down Cheney on the torture issue.

Plus, Chris Christie. My question tonight: Is this guy still a
serious presidential candidate, with the drip, drip, drip of scandal that
could break the dam at any moment?

And it looks as if we`ll be seeing a lot more of Stephen ``Colbare,``
or it might be Colbert. On the "Sideshow" tonight, CBS has announced he`s
taking over for David Letterman. What big shoes to fill!

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Late, today, a woman in Las Vegas was taken into custody
for throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state was
speaking at a meeting of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries at the
Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Clinton dodged and didn`t appear to be hit
by the shoe and later joked about it. There`s no word why the woman threw
the shoe.

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are here today
because we know we cannot be complacent, for history not only travels
forwards, history can travel backwards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, President
Obama, but it was today in Texas, speaking at the event marking the 50th
anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The president paid tribute to one of
his predecessors, Lyndon Johnson, who signed that bill, along with the
Voting Rights Act a year later.

While the president didn`t allude to it directly in his speech, the
issue of voting rights is front and center this week. On Friday, the
president will speak at the Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action Network
up in New York and address this subject.

Last night at a fundraiser in Houston, he warned about active efforts
to deter people from voting. Apparently, it`s fairly active down there in
Texas, the idea that you purposely try to prevent people from voting -- un-
American. That`s what he said. How is it that we`re putting up with that?
We don`t have to. That`s the president.

Well, it`s part of a larger Democratic push right now to highlight
voter suppression efforts by Republicans all across the country.
Yesterday, former president Bill Clinton also spoke about voting rights at
the LBJ library.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all know what
this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years
of expanding it. Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for? Is
this what Lyndon Johnson employed his legendary skills for? Is this what
America has become a great, diverse, thriving democracy for, to restrict
the franchise?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Jonathan Martin -- actually, Jonathan Capehart is the
opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, and Dale
Ho is the director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project.

Dale, I want to start with you. You can talk, and I will talk a lot
about this year, about the fact of this voter suppression efforts. It`s in
three dozen states. It`s -- as you know all the facts and figures. My
question is, how is it going to affect voting? Will it discourage African-
Americans and young people and other people from voting, or will it gig
them? Will it get to them in their pride and say, We`re trying to stop you
from voting -- we Republicans -- because you tend to vote Democrat and we
don`t like you doing it? Will it get people to vote, or will it win? Will
they win their effort to suppress, or will it turn around and have a
backlash? Your thoughts.

DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: Well, I certainly hope
that there`s a backlash, because we can`t really let these kinds of efforts
to suppress voting rights stand.

What`s really amazing to me, Chris, is that 10 years ago, we weren`t
having this conversation. In 2004, no one was talking about voting
restrictions. In 2006, the Voting Rights Act got reauthorized 98-0 in the
Senate. President George W. Bush signed it into law. And then, all of a
sudden, 2008 rolls around and the electorate gets younger and more diverse
than it`s ever been.

MATTHEWS: And votes for Obama.

HO: And, suddenly, everyone is trying to cut back on voting.

(CROSSTALK)

HO: Right. That`s certainly part of it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Obama wins, so what`s the Republicans` solution? Change
the rules.

HO: Right.

If you can`t convince -- there are unfortunately people, you know, in
elected office who have decided they`re not going to try to convince more
people to vote for them, which is what we really should be trying to do in
a democracy. They`re just going to try to change the shape of the
electorate and prevent people from voting.

And, unfortunately, a lot of these restrictions that we`re seeing are
targeted precisely at the kinds of demographics that we at the ACLU are
very concerned about, people of color, young voters. So, you had early
voting cutbacks in Ohio and Wisconsin, Wisconsin getting rid of early
voting on the weekends.

Ohio got rid of one week of early voting and then got rid of Sunday
early voting. Now, the days of early voting that Ohio has gotten rid of,
over 100,000 people cast their ballots in 2012. So, even though this is
going to disproportionately affect people of color and young voters, it`s
not really good for anyone. It`s going to hurt everyone at the ballot box,
and it`s not the way that our democracy is supposed to run.

MATTHEWS: Jonathan, this is what happened starting in the Southern
strategy in `68. The Republicans picked up all the Dixiecrats and said you
have got a new home. It`s the Republican Party. The Republican Party of
the early `60s and going back was the party of Lincoln. They supported --
all but six U.S. senators from the Republican Party backed civil rights,
overwhelmingly in the House.

Now it`s become the party that has used the old tools, you know, what
do we call it, literacy tests, poll taxes.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Poll taxes.

MATTHEWS: All the gimmicks.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: Now they`re coming up with, you can`t vote the days you
like to vote. We`re going to shorten the -- lengthen the lines and shorten
the days.

CAPEHART: Well, that Southern strategy has now turned the Republican
Party into a monochromatic party that`s filled with active, energized
voters, but voters who are shrinking as a percentage of the population and
who are -- and who are dying off, to be perfectly blunt.

MATTHEWS: So, they have turned themselves into South African whites?

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: If that`s the way you want to say, but, look, I think
it`s...

MATTHEWS: In terms of numbers.

CAPEHART: Well, in terms of numbers, but, look, it`s easier for
Republicans to restrict the vote, to block the vote than it is for them to
come up with the policies that would make it possible, that would be
attractive to African-Americans, Latinos, women, young people, to bring
them into the party.

The Republican Party is not going to survive if it keeps going the way
it`s going. They`re not going to survive only on white votes.

MATTHEWS: OK. But in the short run, we have talked about this. IN
the short run, will it work? Will it depress voting, or will the voters
out there who are of color...

CAPEHART: Oh, well...

MATTHEWS: ... say, you know, I think, you know, people see certain --
we were talking about before the show. Some laws make people want people
to go the other way. Like, if the speed limit in `65, you tend to go 68 to
70.

CAPEHART: Right.

MATTHEWS: There`s a certain way who work. And kids who below age,
it`s part of the thrill of breaking the law, as I recall, was the fact
you`re breaking the law.

(LAUGHTER)

CAPEHART: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But, I mean, in this case, you find out people say to you,
you can`t vote because you`re black, well, if you`re black, what? That`s
interesting.

CAPEHART: Right.

Well, you know what, Chris? But we saw that in 2012, when all of this
started ginning up. We saw lines of African-Americans out there, standing
in line for hours waiting to vote, because no one was going to tell them
that they could not vote. That was their right.

African-Americans around the country basically said, oh, hell no,
you`re not going to do this to me, not now.

MATTHEWS: That`s a healthy American attitude.

CAPEHART: Right. And I think -- and I think -- and this is why we
see Presidents Clinton, President Obama, and others in the Democratic Party
sounding the alarm that it is important, it is imperative for you to get
out there and vote, because Republicans are trying to take it away, and if
they succeed in doing that, then a whole host of other bad things could
follow.

MATTHEWS: Well, in Wisconsin and other states that cut out early
voting, the rationale was it`s about fairness between urban and rural
voters.

Believe it or not, here`s the argument. Here`s what the Wisconsin
Senate majority, he`s a Republican, said after their law was passed --
quote -- "It`s difficult for people to turn on Channel 6 in Milwaukee and
there`s a shot of someone voting during a time when it`s not available to
people in rural areas."

Dale, what do you make of that argument? They have made a couple of
arguments for these changes. What do you make of that one?

HO: Well, first of all, Chris, let me say two things about that.

The first thing is, it doesn`t really make a whole lot of sense to me.
I have never heard of anyone saying that we should take away someone`s
rights to vote -- right to vote because it makes someone else feel bad that
a person is exercising that right.

I mean, I might feel bad when someone doesn`t vote for my preferred
candidates, but that`s not really a basis for depriving or disenfranchising
that person. But the second thing that I think that that argument really
gets wrong is that we want to do is treat voters equally, not cities or
municipalities equally.

And that -- what that means is that every voter needs to have equal
access. And equal access doesn`t mean that every municipality gets the
same number of machines or has the same number of voting hours. Milwaukee
is 10 times larger than a lot of municipalities in Wisconsin. There`s
absolutely no reason why...

MATTHEWS: How many states -- last word. I need a number for you.
We`re about to go. How many -- how many states are engaging in voter
suppression right now of the 50?

HO: I mean, I can`t give you an exact number, Chris, off the top of
my head. There are at least a dozen states where we`re engaged in active
litigation right now.

North Carolina is a big one. Ohio is one that we`re looking at very
carefully. Wisconsin, we have challenged their voter I.D. law. It`s a
real, real serious problem. More than half the states that were covered by
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which no longer exist, have engaged in
voter suppression efforts since the Supreme Court struck down the Voting
Rights -- Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

And those are not the only states. It`s spread to other parts of the
country as well.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think there`s anything lower, guys, than an
attempt to keep somebody from voting in this country. If you`re an
American, how do you live with yourself?

Anyway, thank you, Dale Ho. Thanks. Please keep coming back.

And, always, Jonathan Capehart, thanks for your analysis.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Louie Gohmert says he wasn`t flustered. He
really meant to say that wacky line about casting aspersions on my
asparagus -- asparagus. Figure this one out. His explanation, if you
could call it that, coming up next. He keeps talking about asparagus.
It`s like precious bodily fluids in "Dr. Strangelove."

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Our co-pander in chief
spent yesterday ...

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: ... kissing up to women on something called Equal Pay Jay.

Jim?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, the average
full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Equal Pay Day means that a woman has to work about this far into 2014
to earn what a man earned in 2013.

COLBERT: Yes, to get the same amount of pay, women`s work year is
three months longer. So, good news, ladies. If you`re 38 years old,
financially, you`re just 29.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

Time for the "Sideshow."

That was Steve Colbert taking on the equal pay debate.

But the big news today -- and it`s real -- is that Colbert is
officially set now to replace David Letterman as host of "The Late Show" on
CBS after Letterman retires next year. Boy, this guy has come a long way.

Next, as we showed you yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder took a
parting shot at Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert in a contentious hearing
this Tuesday, saying to the congressman, "Good luck with your asparagus."

And as we also showed you, Holder`s dig at the congressman was in
reference to an odd remark that Gohmert had made in May of last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: The attorney general failed to answer
my questions about what...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will suspend.

(CROSSTALK)

GOHMERT: ... was asked, and then in turn casts aspersions on my
asparagus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "Casting aspersions on my asparagus."

Well, as you might imagine, many were left confused by that one. So
in an attempt to clear things up, Gohmert went on The Blaze with Glenn Beck
yesterday to explain the origin of the line. He says he was quoting the
late Percy Foreman, the famous Texas criminal defense attorney.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOHMERT: Percy Foreman was a very, very liberal criminal defense
attorney, but he was incredible in the courtroom.

And when somebody started attacking his integrity, he stood up and
said: I object. He`s casting aspersions on my asparagus.

And people would scratch their heads.

(LAUGHTER)

GOHMERT: But it brought down the level of the rancor.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, "THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM": Oh, it
was intentional.

GOHMERT: So I was using a Percy Foreman line from criminal trials
back probably 50 years ago.

BECK: Wow. OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ah. Glenn Beck is so understanding.

Anyway, it`s an unwritten rule of comedy that, if you need to explain
the joke, it probably wasn`t that have funny to begin with. But as it
turns out, a similar line was once used by the Three Stooges as a
malapropism, an intentional use of an incorrect word that sounds like the
correct one.

This is from the 1944 film "Busy Buddies."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BUSY BUDDIES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: These hotcakes must be made out of the reclaimed
rubber. Where`s your chef?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are you casting asparagus on my cooking?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes. I can`t eat these.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: "Are you casting asparagus on my cooking?`

Whatever the origin, it makes a lot much more sense as a punchline in
the Three Stooges than the way that Gohmert tried using it.

Coming up: That war on the right between the hawks and the doves is
getting hotter. It just got hotter, in fact, with the release of another
video of Rand Paul calling on Republicans to reject Dick Cheney. That`s
ahead coming here on HARDBALL.

You`re watching it, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. Here`s what`s
happening.

A woman was arrested a short time ago in Las Vegas for throwing an
object at Hillary Clinton during a speech. Clinton ducked and then joked
about the incident. NBC News has confirmed that Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning. The move follows a rocky rollout
period for health care through government exchanges.

And former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has announced he`s
running again for Senate, this time in New Hampshire. The Republican
kicked off his campaign at an event in Portsmouth -- now back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

David Corn and "Mother Jones" have done it again. In today`s article
on the GOP feud between Rand Paul and Dick Cheney, they have unearthed
audio of Rand Paul on a radio show in 2009 saying Cheney and his penchant
for torture are hurting the Republican Party.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it`s kind of hard to believe
that we would go around the world to defend freedom and torture people.
They`re so totally opposite, that I just can`t imagine that`s what America
would stand for.

And while John McCain and I would disagree on a lot of issues, the one
thing he has had the guts to do is stand up and say, look, I was tortured,
and this is not what America should stand for.

And if Republicans can`t understand that, and if Republicans want Dick
Cheney to be sort of the representative of our party still defending
torture, which is not something America stands for, it`s just another way
to shrink the Republican Party.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: There`s a revolution coming, certainly a civil war in the
Republican Party.

And this comes -- you just heard from Rand Paul -- it comes on top of
Monday`s "Mother Jones" exclusive headline: "Rand Paul says Dick Cheney
pushed for the Iraq war so that Halliburton would profit."

So we have the early front-runner of the GOP 2016 field calling the
last Republican vice president a war profiteer and a liability to the
party, to boot.

There`s a reckoning, I have said, coming for the Republican Party on
national security, on war and peace. And it looks like Rand Paul and Dick
Cheney are the main card on this fight.

Joining me right now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for
"Mother Jones" magazine and an MSNBC political analyst, and the great
Clarence Page, who is columnist for "The Chicago Tribune."

Gentlemen, let`s talk about this.

I see a war.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Right. I talk about this at the end of the program
tonight. I will give away, it reminds me of `68 and the Democrats in
Chicago, where they went Hubert Humphrey defending a war policy and a
legacy of a war, and along comes the left in the party among students
rioting, disaster.

Four years later, McGovern gets to be the dovish candidate. The
regular party members say, we`re voting for Nixon, a complete disaster.

Is the Republican Party reaching an Armageddon point where they have
got people like Rand Paul saying Iraq was a fricking disaster, we can`t
have people in there who want to do it again, and Dick Cheney coming up out
of -- coming out of wherever he hides, and coming out like Freddy Krueger
back again pushing war again, not only pushing war. He wants to go to
Iran. He wants to go to Syria. He wants to go to Ukraine.

How can they avoid this fight now?

CORN: I don`t think they can. And it`s not just a dispute over
policy. I think it`s getting -- it`s gotten pretty personnel.

You had Dick Cheney at Sheldon Adelson...

MATTHEWS: Cheney.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: Dick Cheney at Sheldon Adelson`s kiss-the-ring fest.

And he was attacking Rand Paul, not by -- not by name, but everyone
knew who he meant...

MATTHEWS: He will get to it.

CORN: ... as isolationist and dangerous and know-nothings about
Middle East.

And here you have Rand Paul saying, he`s a liability to the party, and
he`s acted in an essentially treasonous manner by taking the country to war
to profit a company that he used to chair.

This is not a good-faith policy dispute. This is really personal...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: ... while it`s going along with a policy dispute over what the
role of American military force should be throughout the world.

(CROSSTALK)

CORN: So this is going to be bloody. There is no resolution to your
question.

MATTHEWS: No, I think this is not only, it is to me fundamental. Was
the Iraq war a good move or a smart move that cost almost 200,000 lives?
Rachel Maddow, my colleague at 9:00 every night, pointed out there`s a lot
of economic motivation to war. But I don`t think even she has ever said, I
don`t know anybody else, what Rand Paul is saying, that Dick Cheney fought
that war for personal profit, that his company, Halliburton, benefited from
it. That`s -- I never made that charge. Rand Paul is making it.

CLARENCE THOMAS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: He did make that charge, but is
more (INAUDIBLE) Dwight Eisenhower when he made his famous speech about the
military industrial complex. That`s the wing of the Republican Party that
we`re hearing in Rand Paul and Ron Paul. I have a question about how
strong it is right now. I think it is stronger that the public and
Republicans are more isolationist than they were four years ago or eight
years ago. But --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What happens somewhere in Iowa, probably year after next,
or next year, next year, somewhere late in `15. Somebody will be there and
it won`t be the old days.

Let`s watch what used to happen. Ron Paul, the senior Paul, would
come out against war. He would take a shot at Iraq and immediately Rudy
Giuliani would jump on like a jack in the box and put him down, by just
saying 9/11. Here it is, Senator Rand Paul`s father Ron Paul was a pariah
to the debate stage in 2008, in the Republican primary battle, because of
his isolationist views. He didn`t like the Iraq war.

Well, Rudy Giuliani used to take particular umbrage on that and always
used the opportunity to remind voters of his, Rudy`s role, on 9/11. Let`s
watch the old game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON PAUL (R-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: We need to look at what we
do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us.

MODERATOR: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks, sir?

PAUL: I`m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and
the reason they did it. And they are delighted that we`re over there
because Osama bin Laden has said, I am glad you`re over on our sand because
we can target you so much easier. They`ve already now since that time
killed 3,400 of our men, and I don`t think it was necessary.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: Wendell, may I make a comment on
that?

That`s really an extraordinary statement. That`s an extraordinary
statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11 that we
invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don`t think I`ve ever
heard that before. And I`ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for
September 11.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, I think Rand Paul, the younger man, he`s a
senator right now, leading in many polls, is going to take on a Rudy, and I
wonder if there will even be a Rudy on the stage, a real hawk like that.

CORN: You know, there are two things happening here, the intervention
skeptics, I don`t call them isolationists. I call them intervention
skeptics in the Republican Party --

MATTHEWS: Left, right and center.

CORN: I mean, the Republican Party, have gotten more of a soap box
than ever before. They`ve always been there.

But now, you have Rand Paul in the Senate, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash in
the House -- they have more voice, and it scares --

MATTHEWS: OK. Why did Liz Cheney accuse Rand Paul --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I`m talking like Rachel Maddow, because they don`t like to
know what`s going on in their own party.

CORN: And it scares the hell out of John McCain and others who call
them whacko birds. So, that`s a policy fight that`s going to go on and the
skeptics on the rise. At the same time, though, when Rand Paul gets out
there and says Cheney started the war to profit his own company, they`re
going to use that as basically the bully club to hit them with because they
don`t like the policy. And on that, they`re going to make him try to sound
like a conspiracy --

MATTHEWS: What do you think? Anyway, let`s go back to a larger point
-- do you think there`s going to be a battle royal could go on in `15 and
`16 between people who think the Iraq war was a disaster and those who just
love these kind of wars, who want more?

PAGE: In the primaries, this can benefit Rand Paul because he`s about
the only Republican candidate right now who holds that kind of a position.
So, that sets him apart from the rest of the pack.

MATTHEWS: Four hawks and one dove.

PAGE: Exactly. And how far the fight will go? Probably not far in
my view -- I mean, Republicans have a remarkable ability to pull back
together again eventually. But how far they will go at this point in this
era of the Tea Party remains to be seen.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think it`s a fight worth having. The Democrats
usually benefited in the long run over having these fights over civil
rights within the party. I mean, fights -- if you don`t have the big
fights in the country, over the big issues, you become irrelevant
eventually.

Anyway, thank you, David Corn -- I want them to have the fight
obviously.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Clarence Page.

Up next, can Chris Christie revive his dwindling presidential
prospects or has the George Washington Bridge scandal closed his road to
the White House? And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, this is fascinating. We`ve got new polling on the
presidential race out of Iowa.

According to a new Suffolk University poll, it`s a tight race on the
Republican side among many contenders. Mike Huckabee on top, 11 percent.
Jeb Bush, Rand Paul each with 10. This is spread out. Followed by Ted
Cruz at nine, Chris Christie down at a distant seven.

Among the Democrats, no surprise here. Catch this number. Hillary
Clinton, 63 percent. And here`s a bigger surprise, Elizabeth warren, 12
percent. Joe Biden down at 10. Women -- Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth
Warren maybe duking it out, who knows?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Chris Christie looks and sounds like a candidate these days, actually
running for president in 2016, in spite of the heat he`s taken back home in
New Jersey. Last month, Christie flew out to Las Vegas to court
billionaire Sheldon Adelson in his Venetian Hotel, selling himself there as
a decisive leader.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We cannot have a world whether
our friends are unsure of whether we will be with him and our enemies are
unsure of whether we will be against them. In New Jersey, no one has to
wonder whether I`m for them or against them. There`s never really a cloud
of indecision around what I say and what I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But can Chris Christie run for president with mud on his
fingers, a reputation as a bully, under a legal cloud of suspicion from a
U.S. attorney, and under investigation from his own state legislature?

Big questions. This is what Christie said to ABC`s Diane Sawyer last
month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: At core, I am a passionate, loving, caring, direct truth
teller. That`s who I am. And for some people, they love it. I will tell
you, when I travel around New Jersey, I hear from most people that that`s
the thing they love the most.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: And what about Iowa?

CHRISTIE: Iowa? I think they love me there, too, Diane. I`ve been
there a lot. I think they love me there, too.

SAWYER: As you are? Just the way you are?

CHRISTIE: Especially because of the way I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, they love him in Iowa, he says. That`s what he says.
Whatever Christie may think privately, he`s putting on a strong face
publicly.

MSNBC`s senior political analyst Mark Halperin of "Time" magazine is
the co-author of the book, "Double Down", and a great book it is. And
Heather Haddon is a reporter with "The Wall Street Journal."

Let`s get to the facts right now as you can report them.

First of all, Mark, tell us what indications you`re getting as he
faces the legal problems, as he`s dealt with his own investigation put up
by Gibson Dunn, by his own account he has to deal with the legislature
there to some extent. The bigger question with the U.S. attorneys people
in terms of a federal investigation with the grand jury sitting and all
that stuff. Is he running a two-front campaign right now? Is he doing all
that legal defense and strategizing at the same time he`s putting together
a presidential campaign?

MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALSYT: Yes. It`s a brilliant
three-front campaign, though, Chris, let me annotate just a little. It`s
the legal fight and the legislative fight. It`s thinking about the
presidential. It`s also doing the -- and that includes the RGA work he
does, Republican governors. It`s also being governor of New Jersey, not
just because he takes his job seriously, because no incumbent governor can
run a serious presidential campaign without having their house in order.
He needs his approval ratings up in the state. He needs a record of
accomplishment.

On the presidential front, I`ve been told of many conversations both
he and his top associates have had in the last couple of weeks with leading
political figures in the Republican Party very much clearly intending to
try to run for president still.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Heather. Can you report that? Do you
have soundings or evidence in watching his behavior of his political people
who are still working for him and his governmental operation to see a
presidential campaign there?

HEATHER HADDON, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I mean, I think they
haven`t ruled it out. They`ve been cautious in saying exactly when he`ll
decide on such a thing and when they`ll make an announcement. I mean,
they`re currently saying end of the year, beginning of 2015. I think they
really see his RGA role as the key to trying to continue to get him out
across the country, repair his image. You know, they`ve been very excited
about the RGA fund-raising numbers that have been announced, announced
recently that showed he brought in quite a bit of money.

And once, you know, the primary parts are over and he`s actually
stumping for candidates, I think they really see that he can, you know, be
on camera, be all around the country in vital states for him, and they see
that as a potential way for him to come back.

MATTHEWS: Mark, it seems to me that two cutting edges against him
from, say, "The New York Times" editorial board, the more liberal side of
things, one will be that he`s a bully and that he was somehow involved in
signaling to people like Guadagno, this lieutenant governor, to go put the
pressure on Dawn Zimmer down in Hoboken over that waterfront development,
and that he somehow sent a signal to his staff people like Stepien and
Bridget Kelly ands Wildstein that tough guy behavior, a little muscle,
nasty muscle is OK by me. That would be one charge against him.

The other possible charge and it could simultaneous is, he`s out of
control. He`s not running. He picks the wrong people. They can`t be
trusted. Don`t put him in the White House if they got all the wrong
people, thugs.

What -- can he whether both of those charges, or does he take
advantage of the tough guy which he seems to do in these interviews with
Sheldon Adelson, OK, I`m a tough guy, a Jersey guy. Take me. Take me as I
am.

HALPERIN: Yes, just to break it down I think the first one tough,
arrogant, bully.

I think within the context of the Republican nominating fight, that`s
not going to be a negative. I think people -- again, barring some legal
problems, investigative problems, I don`t think that`s going to be a
problem. They want someone tough. They want someone who will take it to
Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee.

MATTHEWS: Right.

HALPERIN: The other question that you raise I think is a bigger issue
with his strongest constituency within the party which is wealthy donors
and elite Republican officers and operatives. They want him to upgrade his
staff. They want him to have an operation that is more like a major league
operation that could stand up to the Clintons, that could organize a
billion dollar campaign. And there seems to be at this point some
resistance within his world to say, no, we don`t need to clean house.
These are the people who got us this far.

That tug of war I think that is a potential problem. They want to see
maturity on his part and a more mature operation, a more seasoned group of
people around him with a different style. And so far, we haven`t seen that
in any way that`s impressed the people I`m talking to.

MATTHEWS: I think he faces a lot of grenades down along the road
there. Anyway, thank you, Mark Halperin. Thank you, Heather Haddon, for
joining us on "The Wall Street Journal".

And we`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this fight on the right.

Could it be that the Republican Party`s about to have what the
Democrats had back in` 68 and `72, a battle to the death over a war? I
well remember, and many of you do, too, what happened when the Democrats
ran into a historic conflict over the long, bloody Vietnam War.

In 1968, they stuck with the war policy of Lyndon Johnson, running his
vice president for commander in chief. Hubert Humphrey could never unite
the Democratic Party on that basis.

In 1972, the Democrats ran the country`s leading anti-war figure,
Senator George McGovern for president. He, too, failed to unite the party.

Richard Nixon was re-elected overwhelmingly.

Will this happen to the Republicans in 2016? Will they run Rand Paul
and have the hawks fly the coop? Will they run a hawk and have the anti-
war faction growing all the time saying he we made a mistake with Iraq.
We`re not doing it again?

As of now, it looks like this fight is unavoidable and you and I will
be watching with excitement.

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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