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updated 4/14/2014 11:59:58 AM ET 2014-04-14T15:59:58

HARDBALL
April 11, 2014

Guests: Michelle Bernard, Dana Milbank, James Poniewozik, Stephanie
Schriock, Kellyanne Conway

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Boehner`s heroes.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with this heated-up battle over politics and race.
John Boehner, the speaker of the House, denied yesterday that it`s got
anything to do with the way Republican members of Congress, two of them
from Texas especially, treat the administration of Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There`s no issue of race
here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He said the nasty treatment of Attorney General Eric Holder this
week was spurred by the usual Republican complaints -- you know, the IRS,
Fast and Furious, and of course, Benghazi. As usual, Boehner was doing his
Sergeant Schultz routine from "Hogan`s Heroes" -- I know nothing, I was not
here, I did not even get up this morning.

Well, remember this response when Boehner was asked about the Republicans
in his caucus who deny the president was a natural-born American and
therefore even eligible to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: David, it`s not my job to tell the American people what to think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What a bone-headed comment!

Also, the assault continues today with one side hearing and describing what
is going on, the other side, I believe, denying the treatment of this
president and his attorney general has anything to do with race.

Well, Michelle Bernard is the president of the Bernard Center for Women,
Politics and Public Policy -- I wish I had one of those things!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: -- and the author of "Moving America Toward Justice." And
Alex Wagner, of course, is my colleague. She`s the host of MSNBC`s "NOW
WITH ALEX WAGNER." Well, here we are now.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: And the question is about this thing -- this is sticky to talk
about. I think the president doesn`t like talking about it for political,
strategic reasons, Michelle. But here we have the treatment of Louie
Gohmert, a classic birther, and Farenthold, another birther, Texas guys,
who get their Wheaties in the morning, they get up and they thinking this
guy shouldn`t be president because of his background, and then they go on
and do all the other stuff on top of that.

MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER PRES.: And then go to bed thinking the
exact same thing. You know, it really is, I think, a test of the nation`s
conscience. And when John Boehner goes out there and says that this is not
a matter of race, he has to realize he`s representing the entire United
States. People all around the world are looking at this. And it doesn`t
pass the sniff test.

A year ago, President Obama spoke at Morehouse College. He gave the
commencement address. It`s a historically black college, all-male college,
in Atlanta. I just want to just quote him really quickly because one of
the things he said speaking at Morehouse College was, speaking to all of
these young black men, he said, "You know what it`s like to be an outsider.
You know what it`s like to be marginalized. You know what it`s like to
feel the sting of discrimination."

And he went on to talk about the state of civil rights in the nation and
how we treat African-Americans, Hispanics, the Muslim community, the gay
and lesbian community.

We`ve got a real serious problem, and anyone who watched how Eric Holder
was treated, anyone who would dare to think that Jan Brewer, the governor
of Arizona, would ever stand in Bill Clinton`s face and shake her finger,
as she did to President Obama, or have Joe Wilson yell at Bill Clinton
during a speech before a joint session of Congress "You lie," has to be
crazy if they don`t think it`s not because he`s black.

MATTHEWS: Well, as we mentioned, House Speaker John Boehner is now out
there defending the birther crowd. His birther cohorts, guys like Louie
Gohmert and Blake Farenthold of Texas, treated Attorney General Eric Holder
with such contempt this week that Holder himself later told Al Sharpton`s
National Action Network, quote, "What attorney general or president has
ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?"

In fact, here`s Boehner talking with reporters, as I said, yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: There`s no issue of race here. The frustration is, is that the
American people have not been told the truth about what happened at the
IRS. The American people have not been told the truth about what happened
in Fast and Furious. The administration has not told the American people
the truth about Benghazi.

And we`ve been going through all of these hearings, having to hold people
in contempt because they`ve made it impossible to get to the documents.
They`ve not been forthcoming. They owe the American people the truth.
Now, when it comes to Benghazi, we`ve got four Americans who are dead, and
their families deserve the truth about what happened, and the
administration refuses to tell them the truth!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s an acting award right there, an absolute acting award.
Birtherism isn`t, of course, the only wacko insult that Speaker Boehner has
defended.

Here he is back in 2011, standing up for all forms of Republican ignorance.
Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that he is a Muslim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many of you believe that here? 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?

BOEHNER: David, it`s not my job to tell the American people what to think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, that was the groggiest look and answer. How can he
say it`s not his job to tell the American people what to think? He`s the
leader of the Congress. He`s the speaker of the House, second in line to
the presidency. He`s supposed to be a leader and he says, That`s not my
job. It`s almost like Sergeant Schultz -- I don`t know nothin`.

ALEX WAGNER, HOST, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": It`s groggy because the mickeys
that he`s been being slipped by the Heritage Foundation are maybe wearing
off.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Making your metaphorical point.

WAGNER: Yes! Yes, a very metaphorical point. And there was a point,
Chris, earlier this year when John Boehner actually called out the
fractious, hard-line, you know, racial conservatives who had --

MATTHEWS: But that was tactical because he was saying, You`re hurting our
game here.

WAGNER: Yes. For a moment, though, it captured --

MATTHEWS: But not on the --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Not on the truth talking. The truthiness -- let`s talk about
Colbert, I mean, truthiness -- doesn`t he owe the Republican voter a clear
statement about what being a Republican is?

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Which is you`re not supposed to be racist. If somebody is, they
should be outside the crowd. You should treat presidents with respect for
the fact that they`re president. You don`t yell out "You lie." He didn`t
do anything to Joe Wilson when he did that, did he?

BERNARD: He didn`t do anything. It`s a moral issue and it is
embarrassing. John McCain ran for president, and he corrected someone who
was --

MATTHEWS: That will go down on his obit when it comes.

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: I hope it doesn`t come any time soon.

BERNARD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: As one of his great profiles in courage.

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Because he was running for president, and it didn`t help him a
bit to stand up to those bad guys.

BERNARD: No, he --

MATTHEWS: But he did it.

BERNARD: He stood up for that. He also apologized for voting against
making Martin Luther King`s birthday a national holiday, and he explained
it to an all-black crowd. You need to see more of that from the Republican
Party. We`re going to continue --

MATTHEWS: What are you, the national memory bank?

(LAUGHTER)

BERNARD: No, that`s your job! That`s your job. But I do --

MATTHEWS: That`s great. I didn`t remember that one.

BERNARD: And we`re going to continue to see -- any women that are left in
the Republican Party, any African-Americans that are left in the Republican
Party --

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: -- any Hispanics that are left are going to continue --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- forty-some percent of the women --

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD: They`re going to keep walking out.

MATTHEWS: Well, late today, speaking to Al Sharpton`s National Action
Network, where I was privileged to speak this week, President Obama
delivered a fiery and impassioned call to arms, a cris de guerre on the
issue of voting rights. Boy, is this an issue.

He started off with an attack on the Republican Party`s tactics to suppress
the voting rights, especially of minorities, by making them show their
papers, as he put it, something the president is all too familiar with
since he had to show his.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks may learn that without
a document like a passport or a birth certificate, they can`t register.
About 60 percent of Americans don`t have a passport. Just because you
don`t have the money to travel abroad doesn`t mean you shouldn`t be able to
vote here at home.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And just to be clear, I know where my birth certificate is, but a
lot of people don`t.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: A lot of people don`t. did I have at that time is, but a lot of
people don`t. A lot of people don`t. I think it`s still up on a Web site
somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: You remember that? That was crazy!

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: That was some crazy stuff.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That was a good crowd for him. Anyway, he then delivered a call
to action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to
gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied
to their kids and their grandchildren! We`ve got to pay attention to this!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I thought he was going to do Al Green there, he was getting so
comfortable with Sharpton`s crowd.

WAGNER: Yes!

MATTHEWS: Your thought there, because he always pulls back. You first,
then Michelle. He always pulls back. He never wants to be a grievance
guy.

WAGNER: Right.

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to be at the complaint window about race because
race is an historic problem in this country. It`s not exactly news to
complain about it. but he doesn`t seem to want to be -- because I think he
thinks it takes down from his dignity, and he may be darn right here.

WAGNER: Well, I think --

MATTHEWS: As president, he can`t be a complainer.

WAGNER: Well, I think this is all part of the strategy that led him into
the Oval Office in 2009, which was, We are not going to make race the
issue. We`re not going to be the grievance candidate.

MATTHEWS: Right.

WAGNER: We are not going to put this front and center. The truth is,
because of what has happened during this administration, the president is
forced to address race, and I think has more recently after the Trayvon
Martin verdict, with the My Brother`s Keeper initiative that he also talked
about tonight.

I mean, he, I think because he is a second-term president, is feeling more
the weight of history on his shoulders and --

MATTHEWS: It`s so hard to do those things. I watched him with Henry Louis
Gates. It is so hard to get it right without it looking like you`re coming
in like the judge to solve the problem, and also as an advocate.

WAGNER: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s very hard to play both roles.

WAGNER: But Chris, what is happening across the country in these
Republican-held legislatures and with Republican governors trying to curb -
- trying to suppress the vote, that is disproportionately affecting black
voters, and it is going to hurt the Democratic Party in 2014 and possibly
in 2016. So he has every reason both --

MATTHEWS: OK --

WAGNER: -- pragmatically --

MATTHEWS: Where`s this going to go?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Is John Boehner ever going to own up to the fact that he`s got
some bad people in his party who are using race for their own -- I don`t
deny it`s rational, Michelle. I think they know exactly who they`re
talking about, the president --

BERNARD: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- and Eric Holder, and they`re talking for the people from
some of these very rural Texas districts, where people have bad attitudes
about blacks. And he`s playing that card. But in this case, it`s nasty
business.

BERNARD: They accuse the president continually of playing the race card,
but that --

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t!

BERNARD: But that`s exactly what the Republican Party is doing. They`re
playing the race card.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- Farenthold -- I`ll never forget it. Farenthold a few
months ago on here -- this guy -- I don`t even know him. He`s a freshman,
I think. I said to him, Just repeat after me, the president was
legitimately elected. He wouldn`t --

BERNARD: They can`t --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: "Can`t" is probably the right word. Can`t -- is it physical?

WAGNER: It is a physical, emotional block to acknowledge the results --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, listen to how the hard right talks about the president.
Let`s take a look. Here`s just a sampling of their contempt in recent
years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: 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 MALE: Now, I don`t want to even have to be associated with
him. It`s like touching a tarbaby and you get -- you get it -- you know,
you`re stuck and you`re part of the problem now and can`t get away.

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R) MICHIGAN: I feel your pain. I know. I stood 12
feet from the guy and listened to him. And I couldn`t stand being there.

Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, those guys weren`t Southerners, by the way. Just to keep
it straight around here. One guy`s from Colorado and the second guy is
from Michigan. So this attitude about the president is not all Dixiecrats
talking. There`s some real bad attitude out there around the country.

BERNARD: It is a national embarrassment. There`s no other way to describe
it. It is a significant moral issue. It paints the way the entire world
looks at our country. When President Obama was elected as president twice,
when Eric Holder was inaugurated as attorney general, they didn`t take
anything away from anybody.

MATTHEWS: OK --

BERNARD: It was one step towards equality.

MATTHEWS: I`m waiting for Boehner to stop playing rabbi to the birthers,
all right?

BERNARD: He`s not going to do it.

MATTHEWS: Stop covering up for these guys.

WAGNER: You`re going to be waiting a long time.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Great show every day, "NOW," 4:00 o`clock
Eastern.

WAGNER: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Bernard -- you`ll get a show one of these days.

BERNARD: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: If you want one.

Coming up: HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigns. But if you read the
lines on the paper today, on the front page of "The Washington Post,"
there`s a lot of negative trash talk that came right out of the White House
last night. It sure looks like the Obama administration`s happy for her to
move on. We`ll see how that happened, how this thing went to press.

Plus, no one else has parodied the far right in this country so
brilliantly, I think, as this guy, Stephen Colbert. But now he`s taking
over for David Letterman. What a promotion. He`s ditching that
conservative buffoon persona of his, and that`s a huge loss to the world of
political satire. We`re going to miss that stuff!

And Paul Ryan`s gift to the Democrats. Nearly all Republican congressmen
right now -- and they`re all men -- running for the Senate against
Democrats voted for the Ryan budget, which cuts -- everybody listening? --
cuts Medicare. And you can bet Democrats will make something of that.

Finally, it`s not easy to top a campaign ad about castrating hogs, but
another Senate candidate in Iowa may well have done it. That`s in the
"Sideshow." And I don`t believe anybody can pass (ph) that one, castrating
hogs. She`s tough.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: A leading conservative voice says it`s time for the Republicans
to give up their obsession with Benghazi. Here`s the great Charles
Krauthammer on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Politically speaking, the
administration has won. They ran out the clock. If we had had a select
committee from the beginning, really had coherent hearings, unlike what
we`ve had, which were disjointed hearings that let all things sort of slip
away, we really would have been somewhere. We would have gotten to the
bottom of this. But as a political fact, this thing is done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t agree with him much, but he is one smart fellow. That`s
Charles Krauthammer, and he says while he agrees with those on the right
who did make Benghazi a political issue, the country is tired of it and the
Republicans blew it with disorganized hearings, especially, I think, with
Secretary Clinton.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Yes, we lost the first quarter of open enrollment period with the
problems with Healthcare.gov, and they were problems. But under Kathleen`s
leadership, her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job
done, and the final score speaks for itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The president`s send-off there for
HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius earlier today was warm, but he didn`t shy
away, as you saw there, from acknowledging the disastrous, even
catastrophic rollout of the health care Web site.

But in "The Washington Post" this morning when I picked it up, the attitude
of anonymous White House allies was more along the lines of, Don`t let the
door hit you on the way out. Here`s some of the choice excerpts -- I would
call it trash talk -- from "The Washington Post" article today, right on
the front cover, that left that impression.

Quote -- here`s a quote -- "Some White House allies said Thursday night
that the troubled launch of Healthcare.gov had heightened tensions between
Sebelius and the president`s staff members, who had become increasingly
mistrustful -- mistrustful -- of the department she led."

Or this one. "A health policy specialist close to the White House said,
quote, `Obama`s staff had long preferred to be running the show on the
health care law, but that Sebelius and her aides were increasingly cut out
of the process after the launch of Healthcare.gov escalated into a
political disaster for the president.`"

Or this observation, also in the same lead article. "Sebelius was not part
of the group of White House aides who recently told Obama in the Oval
Office that health care enrollment had surpassed 7 million. He did not
mention her, in fact, in his speech." And here`s the picture to prove it -
- no Sebelius.

Well, joining me right now is "New York" magazine`s John Heilemann, who`s
co-author of the great new book, "Double Down," about the 2012 election,
and Beth Fouhy, senior editor or MSNBC.com. She`s had a great career in
journalism. We`re going to have her on now.

John, I want to start with you. Nudging, agreeing on the time -- my
question -- maybe this is the tough question -- could Sebelius have stayed
on through the rest of the term, second term, if she had wanted to?

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-AUTHOR "DOUBLE DOWN," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think
she would have had to fight pretty hard for that, Chris, and I don`t think
she had that much fight left in her.

I think her fate, in the sense that she was not going to be someone -- very
few cabinet secretaries, for one thing, stay an entire two terms. She`d
been in this job for five years. But her fate, that she was going to leave
at some point this year, was sealed back last fall during the catastrophic
rollout of the health care plan.

The question was, would she get fired at that moment or would she be given
a chance to see it through to meeting those original projections and those
original goals? And they gave her the chance, the president did, even
though some people on his staff probably would like to have seen her go
earlier. The president gave her a chance to go out with a relatively
dignified exit and with something that could be called a victory to her
name.

MATTHEWS: Yes, it seems -- it seems right, Beth, that he timed it so she
would make this announcement -- they`d make the -- leak it, whatever they
did last night, so that it came after this 7 million victory mark, that
they got something to brag about.

But nonetheless -- I go back to this -- you`re the expert on this kind of
deadline reporting -- so many negative comments in the piece today in "The
Washington Post."

HEILEMANN: Sure. And there`s -- and there`s -- you know, there`s --

MATTHEWS: I mean, I -- I want to hear from Beth.

HEILEMANN: Sorry.

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, John.

BETH FOUHY, SENIOR EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Yes, but you know what, Chris, I
have to tell you, I think those comments are incredibly self-serving.

I mean, this White House has always been all about itself and saying they
could do everybody better than their cabinet and sort of shunting the
cabinet aside and sort of taking credit when they can, and then blaming the
cabinet when things don`t go so far.

Look, this is the president`s signature achievement. If he wanted to make
sure that the rollout was perfect, he and his team should have been on top
of that. They weren`t. They were very passive about it. They left it to
a very large bureaucracy that they knew little about, and then they laid
the blame on Kathleen Sebelius for not doing it right.

I agree with John. They gave her a dignified exit. But to do that kind of
sniping about her performance, actually, what she`s done, after what she`s
done for this president, and for five years of service in that job, which,
by the way, is probably one of the longest-lasting HHS secretaries in
history, was -- was pretty lame.

MATTHEWS: Well, while you`re on, Beth, why didn`t the president set up a
very direct line between him and the top person, the top --

(CROSSTALK)

FOUHY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- the czar, if you will? Why did he wait until it went
kaboom and then say, well, I think the person in charge was the chief
operating officer of the CMM, which is a subagency that does Medicare and
Medicaid under HHS? It was so removed from him.

FOUHY: Exactly.

And you know what? It seems silly to say that he should have been on the
phone every day, but you know what? In this case, he probably should have.
This is the -- is his legacy. The ACA is this president`s legacy. If he
wanted it to be rolled out exactly right, he and his team should have been
more on top of it than it was -- than they were. So now to say, well,
Sebelius presided over this botched rollout, you know, that`s very
convenient for them.

I think she did a terrific job under very, very difficult circumstances.
She was given a good time to leave, which was after the victorious signing
up of 7.5 million people. So, it works -- the optics of it work pretty
well.

MATTHEWS: OK.

What Beth said just rings so true with what I have heard about the White
House operation, John, that they don`t -- when you look at "Meet the Press"
and Sunday shows and say why don`t they have the secretary of this or that
on the show? They will have Dan Pfeiffer or somebody or Valerie or
somebody -- Valerie Jarrett from the White House.

It`s the -- and you know what the answer I get is? They don`t trust those
people to get the message out. They don`t have a clear line of talk even
with them. What is the problem of Cabinet government today under this
administration? They seem to have one. They don`t trust their people,
they don`t connect with them. They do it themselves.

I don`t think staff people should be on national television every Sunday.
I think people are looking for principles, people approved by the United
States Senate, and they`re not getting them for some reason.

HEILEMANN: It`s always been the case with this administration, Chris.

There was a period of time around -- after the first two years, right after
the midterm losses in 2010. I did a long story in "New York Magazine"
where I went around and asked at various Cabinet departments how many times
Cabinet secretaries had spoken to President Obama in the first two years,
and many of them had had no more than one or two conversations with the
president in the first two years.

It`s not changed. His attitude, the president`s attitude and the attitude
of the people around him are that Cabinet secretaries -- many of them could
not pick those Cabinet secretaries out of a lineup in many cases. I`m only
exaggerating slightly.

You think about going back to another thing in that same time frame, when
the White House brought Bill Daley in as chief of staff, everyone assumed
part of the reason was that they were going to put him on the Sunday shows,
because he was a big Washington veteran and he had a lot of television
skills. They didn`t trust him on the television -- on the Sunday shows
either.

So this notion of a very tight circle around Obama and not trusting, not
only not trusting Cabinet secretaries, but not even trusting people who are
not in the tightest inner circle around the president and the president
himself --

MATTHEWS: Wow.

HEILEMANN: -- has been an ingrained part of this White House since day
one.

MATTHEWS: That was the secret of success of the Mo Udall presidential
campaign. I`m just being sarcastic, small and it stayed very small.

FOUHY: That`s going way back.

MATTHEWS: I know. But it stayed very small, Beth.

Last October, Secretary Sebelius ventured in to what should have been
friendly territory, Jon Stewart`s "Daily Show," of course, to encourage
people to sign up for health insurance, but she stumbled on the question
about why businesses and not individuals could delay signing up. Let`s
listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Oh, so you`re doing
it because you haven`t been able to get the subsidies ready for the
businesses?

(CROSSTALK)

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, then if
businesses don`t get subsidies. There`s just going to exchange --

STEWART: So they get to delay because they`re not going to get any extra
money, but individuals don`t because they will.

SEBELIUS: Again, they`re in the market already.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Let me ask you this. Am I a stupid man?

(LAUGHTER)

SEBELIUS: For a lot of young folks, they`re, you know, one fall on the
basketball court, one auto accident away from a lifetime of hospital bills
they can`t pay.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Still not sure why individuals can`t delay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was a putdown.

I have been a beneficiary of that guy`s wit myself, being sarcastic. He
can be very tough and intimidating, Stewart. He`s quick as a wit.

That -- is that the kind of performance the White House didn`t trust? Is
that why they cut her out so early, Beth?

FOUHY: You know, going on "The Daily Show," that`s just one piece of a
gillion things she was probably doing.

Look, she managed this enormous bureaucracy. She got through this -- she -
- she oversaw the rollout of this enormous health mandate. There were
problems with it. There`s no questions about it. But you know what? On
balance, she did a whole heck of a lot and seemed to have done it a lot --
fairly well.

And for them to sort of hang on her "Daily Show" appearance and say it
wasn`t quite up to snuff seems a little bit self-serving.

MATTHEWS: And the other thing I must say on her behalf, she`s a great
person. And I`ll tell you one thing. She was a great governor of Kansas
and she was very smart and astute.

You`re shaking your head right, John.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: She`s a very astute person. Somehow, in this mix, Billy Daley
is another good guy that wasn`t able to mix with this crowd. It`s very
hard to integrate with the Obama crowd. As we have all agreed, it`s a very
tight circle.

Anyway, thank you, John Heilemann. And thank you, Beth Fouhy.

Up next, it`s hard to top a Senate candidate who touts her personal
experience castrating pigs. But one of her opponents may have done that
already. He has beaten her out in the castration department.

That`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE")

QUESTION: Sir, did you get an endorsement from Jimmy Kimmel yesterday?
What happened? What can we expect for --

(CROSSTALK)

ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO, CANADA: Jimmy Kimmel had already come out and
supported me.

It was quite clear he likes me a lot. We have had a number of
conversations. He compares me to JFK, to other candidates.

(LAUGHTER)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": That`s right. JFK, KFC, you name
it, I`m --

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Sideshow."

That was Jimmy Kimmel last night downplaying the impact of his endorsement
in the Toronto mayoral race.

Next up, Bob Quast is running as an independent write-in candidate for the
open U.S. Senate seat out in Iowa. And he`s making quite an impression in
a race that`s already caught the attention of the national media. The
field includes, of course, Republican candidate Joni Ernst and Democratic
Congressman Bruce Braley.

Ernst, of course, is best known for her campaign advertisement in which she
cites her experience castrating pigs as her main credential for cutting
pork in Washington.

And Braley recently came under fire after a video showed him denigrating
Chuck Grassley because he`s just a lowly Iowa farmer. But the icing on the
proverbial cake in that race is a new online video released by Bob Quast,
the independent. And you have got to see it to believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB QUAST, IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. I`m Bob. I am running, running
for Iowa`s open seat in the U.S. Senate.

Term limits for Congress need to become the 28th amendment to our U.S.
Constitution. I believe that every aspect of our Constitution, which even
a baby knows includes the Second Amendment.

If you`re the sexual predator and sociopath who murdered my sister Lynette,
and you come to my front door to do harm to my girls, I`m going to use my
Glock to blow your balls off.

Now, please do not confuse me with Iowa`s Republican candidate for U.S.
Senate. I`m Bob Quast, just a simple problem-solver from Iowa who never
went to law school, but I did create and approve this video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that?

Up next: What are we going to do now that Stephen Colbert is ditching the
character that made him famous, that right-wing buffoon, that walking,
talking parody of the American far right?

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Authorities are trying to identify the cause of Thursday`s deadly bus crash
in California. Five students who were on the bus were killed, along with
three chaperones and the driver. The driver of the FedEx truck that hit
the bus was also killed.

And Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the signal believed to be
from Malaysia Airlines` missing jet is fading. And searchers hope to glean
as much information as possible before it expires. Abbott made the
comments before meeting with China`s president -- back to HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": There was some big news last
week that slipped through my news crack.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And it concerns someone I have admired for years, and yet
surprisingly is not me.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: I`m talking about David Letterman, who last Thursday night
announced his retirement.

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: This man has influenced every host who came after him, and even a
few who came before him. He`s that good.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And I have got to tell you, I do not envy whoever they try to put
in that chair.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: Those are some huge shoes to fill, and some really big pants.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was of course Stephen Colbert last night with the big news that he`s
giving up the Comedy Central show which made his name and his namesake,
Stephen Colbert the character, to take over for David Letterman at CBS next
year.

Well, in a statement, he said -- quote -- "I won`t be doing the new show in
character, so we will all get to find out how much of him was me. I`m
looking forward to it."

Well said. For nearly a decade, the Colbert character has been one of the
sharpest satires of the right-wing noise machine on TV ever.

Here`s a recent example of how Colbert parodied the conservative clown car.
It`s from April 1 of this year, when the White House announced more than
seven million Americans had signed up for health care under the Affordable
Care Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")

COLBERT: Tonight, we`re all happy. And I wish I could come to you with
some good news.

But the worst imaginable thing has happened. Millions of Americans are
going to get health care.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: This last minute sign-up surge has completely rained on our
parade.

Seriously, we had to cancel the parade.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: And I -- last night, I had to scrap my plans for Stephen
Colbert`s Rocking Enrollment Failure Eve --

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: -- where me, Ryan Seacrest and T.I. were going to count down on
a giant clock until they dropped an uninsured person in Times Square.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: Then, of course -- then, of course, we don`t take him to the
hospital because he doesn`t have insurance.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Dana Milbank is a columnist for "The Washington Post" and a
satirist in his own right, and James Poniewozik is a writer for "TIME"
magazine.

Jim, thank you for joining us.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, "TIME": Sure. Thanks.

MATTHEWS: This is to me -- I really like Colbert. I have met him. I have
been on the show a number of times. I even put him in a full nelson one
night. He did a whole thing on me about me on the Irish and the potato-
eating. And I have always had a great time.

How is he going to give up that persona and be a real guy, like he is a
real guy? I remember Chevy Chase couldn`t do it, because when he played
that zany Chevy Chase character, we all thought that was Chevy Chase. And
then he goes on Fox with a show trying to beat Carson in the old days.
Nothing happens.

Your thoughts?

PONIEWOZIK: You know, it`s funny, because, actually, when way back when
his show was starting, I interviewed him out of character, which he doesn`t
do that often anymore.

And he is a real guy. He`s very intelligent. He`s funny on his own. He`s
versatile. He`s a good performer. He can do a lot of different things. I
still think leaving the character behind is going to be a big loss, simply
because it`s probably the most original creation in late night since David
Letterman started, you know, "Late Night With David Letterman" some 30
years ago.

I think it`s going to be a big transition, because Stephen Colbert, the
actual guy, is, you know -- it`s sort of like an unknown character who we
have just been watching for 10 years on TV --

MATTHEWS: I know.

PONIEWOZIK: -- you know, because -- because that person, the actual him,
has not been an entity on TV so much.

MATTHEWS: You know, Rush Limbaugh --

(LAUGHTER)

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes,
always in character.

MATTHEWS: -- he has no -- he has no sense of humor.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I guess he`s playing Rush Limbaugh.

He`s going nuts about this. And he says this is some sort of liberal
takeover --

MILBANK: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- of the Letterman show.

Here he is. Rush Limbaugh had some strong words for CBS` choice of late-
night host. Here he is, warbling again, the underwater walrus. Let`s
listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You care what I think of Colbert
getting Letterman`s gig?

CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. There is a --
here`s a -- no longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional
American values, conservatism. Now it`s just wide out in the open. They
have hired a partisan so-called comedian to run a comedy show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What about those years of guys like Bob Hope who were on the
right? Did anybody notice that they were conservatives?

Anyway, your thoughts?

MILBANK: Or did Rush suppose that David Letterman was Pat Robertson, and
the whole thing was "The 700 Club"?

(LAUGHTER)

MILBANK: No, it --

MATTHEWS: This -- this right-wing, what is it, umbrage.

MILBANK: Yes. Right.

I think he`s actually fooled by the character --

MATTHEWS: He called him Colbert, Colbert.

MILBANK: Colbert.

(CROSSTALK)

MILBANK: He`s heard about him. And he`s heard about him from Bill
O`Reilly, probably.

MATTHEWS: Right.

MILBANK: But I think it`s fortuitous, this timing, for Colbert, because he
-- you know, it`s a shtick, and it was going to get old at some point.

It`s been brilliant he`s been able to keep it up this long and I think it`s
only because the importance of the real Bill O`Reilly now because of the
Obama years. As that fades away, this shtick was going to fade away. He
had to get out of character anyway.

And I think the interesting thing we`re going to find out now is it`s not
that he`s some screaming liberal, or even as a conservative. He`s going to
need to move away from politics because late night comedy is moving away
from politics.

MATTHEWS HOST: You got to get down to the middle.

Anyway, Carson -- we never really knew Carson`s politics all those years.

Anyway, Stephen Colbert pretended to embody the achievement field on the
right, the agreement (ph), rather, which, of course, flared in the Obama
era. Let`s watch him in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Last night due to the technicality called the
Constitution, Barack Obama was re-elected president.

Ms. Taitz, thanks so much for joining us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

COLBERT: Now, there are a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives out
there who will not back you in this cause. I`m here to say I do.

I agree, Barack Obama is a terrible president. We have to get him out of
office by any weird loophole we can make up.

Did you know that in India the Khond tribe sacrifices thousands of birds in
a single day so their god can drink the blood? Or the ancient Patagonian
tribe of South America would open coffins of their dead relatives and
redress the bodies every year. And get this -- did you know that in some
U.S. states, it`s legal for two dudes to get married?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, I appeared on that show multiple times, most recently to
talk about the "Tip and Gipper", my latest book. And he didn`t seem to
take my point about the necessity of compromise in politics.

Let`s watch Stephen Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: You`re implying there has to be some compromise in politics.

MATTHEWS: Yes, like in life.

COLBERT: No, no, sir.

MATTHEWS: That`s why we have a Congress because we have a vote and it has
to be 218 in the House or 60 in the Senate. And then we go with that vote.
That`s how it works. Is this too complicated?

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: Yes. I believe in standing on your principles.

MATTHEWS: Which means don`t compromise.

COLBERT: Reagan never did.

MATTHEWS: He did so. That`s what the book is about.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT: He did not. He did not. I don`t care what the book is about. I
don`t care -- I don`t care what kind of Harry Potter fantasy you`ve written
here.

Ronald Reagan stood on his principles and punched Gorbachev and knocked
down the Berlin wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Ha, ha!

You know, the great thing about Carson in the old days and Letterman and
Leno is the ability to be impromptu. That just -- sure they got a script,
sure they got the greatest writers in the business, but all that craziness
right there was his reaction to what I said, I think.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes. You know, one thing that makes me
very excited about Colbert as a late night show host is that he really does
have a quick agile mind. And, you know, he can improv -- you know, he`s an
improv guy. And he can rule with things and he can come up with stuff off
the top of his head, I think that can make him really brilliant in
interviews.

You know, I really just hope they don`t make him boring. You know, that
goes beyond politics, although I don`t really want them to gut the politics
of him, but, you know, if I sit down some night on CBS and see Stephen
Colbert saying to somebody, I hear you brought a clip with you, you know,
I`m just going to die inside a little bit.

MATTHEWS: You know, the old Carson line was where you living out here? Do
you like watching yourself in the movies? Larry King or somebody, do you
like watching yourself in the nude?

Anyway, a major turning point for both Colbert and the media was the 2006
White House Correspondents Dinner with President Bush sitting just a few
feet away. That`s George W. Bush. Colbert mercilessly mocked him to his
face.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: The greatest thing about this man is he`s steady, you know where
he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on
Monday. No matter happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man`s beliefs
never will.

Nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes, so the White
House has personnel changes. And then, you write oh, they`re just
rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

First of all, that`s a terrible metaphor. This administration is not
sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are
rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Dana Milbank. And thank you, Jim Poniewozik. Thanks
for joining us. It`s a great piece.

Up next, Paul Ryan`s Democratic gift to the Democratic Party -- nearly all
the Republican members of Congress who are right now running for the U.S.
Senate, those in endangered seats, voted for the Ryan budget this week,
which means now Democrats are going to hold them accountable for those
votes, including the big cut in Medicare.

And this HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, two new polls suggest Democrats may still have some fight
in them as they try to keep control of the U.S. Senate.

Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. First to Arkansas where a new Opinion
Research poll shows incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor leading Republican
Congressman Tom Cotton by 10 points. Well, that`s good for Dems. Pryor
48, Cotton 38.

Next Iowa, where the new Suffolk University poll shows U.S. Congressman
Bruce Braley, the Democrat running to replace Tom Harkin, leading all four
Republican contenders. He beats the top Republican, Joni Ernst, that`s the
woman who castrates pigs, by eight points, 38-30.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

All but 12 Republicans voted yesterday to support the Paul Ryan budget,
which makes drastic cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants,
and repeals outright Obamacare.

Five of those House Republicans who voted for Ryan`s budget yesterday are
running for the U.S. Senate this year. Bill Cassidy running against Mary
Landrieu down in Louisiana. Shelley Moore Capito running in West Virginia.
Tom Cotton challenging Mark Pryor in Arkansas. And Steve Daines run
against newly appointed Senator John Walsh, the former lieutenant governor,
in Montana. And Cory Gardner challenging Mark Udall in Colorado.

All four voted yay, and Democrats plan to make them pay for it. The
Democrats pushed for pocketbook issues like pay equity and the minimum wage
are part of their strategy to draw sharp contrast with the GOP who
Democrats say support policies that favor the wealthy, like the Koch
brothers at the expense of the middle class.

Now, we got the Ryan budget that can be added to the Democrats` argument as
they battle to keep the Senate in November`s elections.

Stephanie Schriock is president of Emily`s List. And Kellyanne Conway is a
pollster and Republican strategist.

Well, first of all, I start with the realistic view that Democrats only
lose five Senate seats this year, they will consider it a pretty good
night, because there`s also a chance of a sweep this year.

Kelly, you`re giggling, and I understand why because there`s also a chance
of a sweep election in a sixth year presidency.

How good, Stephanie, is voter information that you can get to them in a
short ad about how a congressperson votes on something like Medicare, which
affects the middle class?

STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, EMILY`S LIST: Well, here we go again. We saw this
story in 2012. And the country saw the biggest gender gap in our history
over things like the Ryan budget. So, we`re going to go in and talk to
women voters. It`s already happening today. We`re going to talk about
these cuts in Medicare, cuts in education. On top of it, the number one --

MATTHEWS: You know why Medicare is more important to women than men, and
give me the graphic answer? Because women live a lot longer than men after
retirement, that`s why. It`s there.

SCHRIOCK: It is true, it is true, and it`s incredibly important for women.
Women are just looking for a fair shot in our economy today. And we`re
still dealing with a pay gap of 77 cents to a dollar. And now, we`ve got
Paul Ryan and the Republicans again pushing out a budget that dismantles
critical programs from health care, education, economic opportunity.

Telling you, women voters are going to react. We`re already seeing it, and
our candidates are going to talk about it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Kellyanne, how do you turn this around? How do you take a
vote for a budget which is always a danger because there`s so many pieces
that can be pointed to and you try to win the bigger argument for savings
and spending, but your opponent, the Democrat, most cases, comes back and
said, well you cut this, and that matters to people. Your thoughts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Look, Chris, it ends up being a
classic battle between the shock the conscious sound bite and the study of
substance. And often the sound bite will win, at least in the short term,
especially if you`re scaring people. If you feel like, if you`re on
Medicare, you`re going to cut Medicare, you`re going to cut your grandson`
Pell Grant, but I think the funny thing about information as it is
impacting, is people can go online and look this up for themselves.

So, they can decide whether or not it`s true that over the next ten years
spending $600 million on food stamps, now called the SNAP program, or
increasing Medicaid spending by $3.5 trillion, whether they think that`s a
cut.

I will point out that the Republicans who voted no didn`t think this cut
spending fast enough, so there are three sitting Republican congressmen
just in Georgia, all of whom were 12 no votes, and they said it`s because
they prefer a budget that goes faster than the Ryan budget.

I can`t let Stephanie get away with the 70 cent figure after it`s been
discredited so much, after the White House revealed they don`t pay women as
much as men in the White House.

And I really -- I feel like just to have an honest conversation, can we
stop with the 77 cents on the dollar --

MATTHEWS: OK. Let Stephanie respond to that. Kellyanne says there isn`t
a 23 cent gap.

SCHRIOCK: She`s just wrong. I mean, the facts prove --

CONWAY: No, "The Washington Post" discredited it.

SCHRIOCK: But what we`re saying is there`s a wage gap in this country.
And it`s real.

CONWAY: Correct.

MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, do women believe they get paid as much as men?

CONWAY: No, they don`t.

SCHRIOCK: Because they don`t.

CONWAY: And the Republicans came out very clearly this week and said, all
of them, the Republican congresswoman and four Republican senators came out
and said they agree with equal pay for equal work. There`s no question we
all agree with that, but we have to have an honest conversation.

MATTHEWS: But do we have equal pay right now, Kellyanne?

CONWAY: Most women do not. Some do if you`re unmarried and childless
between the age of 35 and 43, the statistics show you make $1.08 on average
to every male dollar. African-American women in some industries tend to do
better than African-American men dollar-to-dollar.

So, I just think it`s -- you know, we just shouldn`t fool people into
believing that it`s one size fits all. I think women should be respected
that way. And look, women -- she`s absolutely right that women pay more
attention to education and the kitchen table economic issues but they have
lived through many years now of implementing Obamacare, and you look at
that for fiscal ends.

MATTHEWS: Kellyanne, I have to get a reaction to that. Why do women vote
Democrat more than Republican?

SCHRIOCK: Because the Democrats provide a vision for the future that`s
given them a fair shot. It`s about economic security. It is about equal
pay, because the American women on average are making 77 cents to the
dollar.

CONWAY: Where is that in the polls?

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Well, Kellyanne?

SCHRIOCK: Americanwomenl.org.

CONWAY: Way down. Jobs and the economy are number one.

MATTHEWS: You`re welcome to fight this out. I have no idea how to
arbitrate this, but you answered my question when I said, do women think
they`re getting paid less than men? That means it`s a political issue
whether it`s 77 cents or it`s 82 cents.

CONWAY: But it was flubbed by the White House this week. And they pay
women less in the White House.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Stephanie Schriock and Kellyanne Conway.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.

I`m a huge fan of Stephen Colbert. He`s not only hilarious and brilliant
and sharp witted and all that stuff you see on the "Colbert Report". I`m
talking about him offstage when he`s Stephen Colbert the person.

There are, I learned the hard way, all kinds of people in show business and
the news business and political commentary. There are who are as stuffed
shirt off air as they are on. Who have the biggest possible impression of
themselves as they are on air.

There are also people who are big on stage, but shy -- very shy in person.
David Letterman strikes me that way. You don`t really see him if you do
the show, before or after the show. He lives as he puts it for the hour
itself. If you`re part of that, you`re part of him.

There are people like Jay Leno who are pretty much what you would think, as
regular and kind actually off camera as they are on.

Well, as Zero Mostel said in that movie "The Front", it`s nice when nice
happens to a nice person. And in the case of Stephen Colbert, that could
not be more true. He`s a good guy who just got the promotion of his life,
and I`m glad for him. I really am.

And as he put it in the newspaper today, we`ll soon find out how much of
him is that Stephen Colbert character he`s been playing with so much fun.

And that`s HARDBALL tonight. Thanks for being with us this week.

"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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