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updated 4/16/2014 11:52:33 AM ET 2014-04-16T15:52:33

HARDBALL
April 14, 2014

Guests: Michael Tomasky, William Rashbaum, Loretta Weinberg, Howard Dean

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Batting right.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" with the upcoming battle between Hillary Clinton and an as
yet unnamed Republican for president of the United States. The list of GOP
Contestants is not promising. If I were Hillary Clinton, I`d be singing to
myself, "Is that all there is?"

To begin with, the whole Republican show at this weekend`s candidate cattle
call up in New Hampshire looked like a reminder of the party`s wild lurch
to the right 50 years ago this year, when it cheered Barry Goldwater and
booed New York governor Nelson Rockefeller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NELSON ROCKEFELLER (R), NEW YORK: And warning of the extremist threat
is danger to the party --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was a bad day at Black Rock. And the hero this time
around is Rand Paul. The one getting the bum`s rush is today`s version of
the East Coast establishment favorite, of course, Jeb Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I heard Jeb Bush the other day, and he
was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it
for love. And I said, Say it again. I didn`t get -- that`s one I`ve never
heard of before. I`ve heard a lot -- I`ve heard money, I`ve heard this,
I`ve heard sex, I`ve heard everything! The one thing I never heard of was
love. I understand what he`s saying. But you know, it`s out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it was just like that 50 years ago, the right wing taking
flight with Goldwater just as it`s taking flight today with Rand Paul and
Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, blasting off against the moderate center, as
well as the Democrats.

Where`s the thinking in all this? Have Republicans on the right given up
on beating Hillary Clinton in the center? Have they given up on beating
her altogether? Or could they truly believe that the voters of this
country are angry enough to follow them across the political spectrum from
Barack Obama all the way to the ticked off-outskirts home to libertarian
Rand Paul and hard-right Ted Cruz? Do they really think America is ready
for a dance in the moonlight with one of those guys?

Howard Fineman is editorial director for the Huffington Post Media Group
and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones." Both are
MSNBC prized political analysts.

Anyway, up in New Hampshire this weekend at the Republican Freedom Summit,
sponsored by the group Citizens United, as well as the Koch-funded
Americans for Prosperity -- I love these names -- the anger of the far
right was on full display. As "The Washington Post" reported after
covering it, quote, "Based on how things unfolded at the Freedom Summit,
many Republicans are perfectly content to continue appealing to the same
base that turned out in the 2012 primaries, the most passionate and
conservative fringe of the party, without worrying about the potential
voters they`ve left out."

Anyway, Ted Cruz was one of the speakers. He got cheers by attacking
President Obama as lawless, and calling for, of course, this cheap shot,
abolishing the IRS. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Liberty has never been more under assault than
it is right now! This administration, it seems, this president, is trying
to go down the Bill of Rights and violate each and every one of them! And
I`ll tell you, the most important tax reform -- we should abolish the IRS!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Boy, that`s gutsy.

Anyway, Newt Gingrich also bashed the president. Let`s watch Newtster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Part
of what makes the Obama administration potentially the worst administration
since Buchanan -- which is really quite a record. I mean, Buchanan led to
a civil war --

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: -- is that it`s not that they`re ideologically left, but that
they`re incompetent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Mike Huckabee had this pearl of wisdom about freedom.
Let`s watch this. You will not quickly forget this thought.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR. GOV., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: My gosh, I`m
beginning to think that there`s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than
there is in the United States! When I go to the airport, I have to get in
the surrender position, people put hands all over me, and I have to provide
photo ID in a couple of different forms and prove that I`m really not going
to terrorize the airplane. But if I want to go vote, I don`t need a thing!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know (INAUDIBLE) Dennis Rodman`s got a competitor here!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: -- it`s North Korea. I`m sure Kim Jung Un is probably
thrilled to hear this. This is wacky.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes,
I --

MATTHEWS: This kind of performance. Are they trying to drive away the
center and middle of the road from their party with this -- this --

FINEMAN: Well, I don`t --

MATTHEWS: -- clangoring (ph) mess?

FINEMAN: I don`t think, at this point, if ever, they really care about the
middle of the road. I mean, these are people up in New Hampshire -- and
they`re doing the same in other early primary states for 2016, of appealing
to the very heart of the very most active ultra-conservatives they can
find. These are the people they need to line up for the campaign.

And they don`t mind if this is broadcast to the rest of the Republican
Party and the rest of the world. This is who they are. They`re proud of
it. And the Republican wisemen whom I talk to around here are scared out
of their wits.

MATTHEWS: By this talk?

FINEMAN: By this talk. I was talking to one of the leading fundraisers in
the Republican Party today. And he`s no liberal. He`s a conservative.
These people scare him not only because of their ideology but because of
their demographics. These are people who don`t seem to know how to appeal
beyond the traditional white male base of the Republican Party, and you
can`t win an election that way.

MATTHEWS: Yes, you know, I think that Jeb Bush will have to explain
further, you know, "act of love," crossing the border. That`s a hard reach
for some people. But making fun of it the way he did it also told another
story. This is putting down Hispanics. This is, like -- this was a
putdown. And anybody -- a minority watching Donald Trump gets it because
he`s the guy pushing the birther line from day one. The message ethnically
is pretty damn clear to black and brown people. This guy is not looking
out for your interests politically.

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The gravitational
center of the Republican Party shifted far to the right, you know, 10, 8, 6
years ago, and it is stuck in that position. This is why all the talk
about Chris Christie being a front-runner, Jeb Bush having a good chance,
really is irrelevant because these are the voters they`re going to have to
get.

Now, it`s interesting that Paul Ryan is not in this run-up here because I
think he`s one of the few out there who can appeal to the Tea Party base
and have a foot in the establishment camp --

MATTHEWS: Yes. He`s (INAUDIBLE)

CORN: Well, probably not, but by and large, it`s a very, very sharp divide
between reality --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: -- and this bizarre --

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you --

CORN: -- world.

MATTHEWS: -- my profound question at the end of the show because I bring
it up in my last comment. Is it -- what`s the cause and effect here?
Everybody who watches this kind of program, especially this program,
HARDBALL, knows that Hillary Clinton is an extremely heavy favorite, should
she choose to run, to be the next Democratic nominee.

So she`ll be very hard to beat because of her track record, her resume, who
she is, what she means to women, especially, and because she`s a good
Democrat. Are they thinking, Hey, we`re not going to beat her, so let`s
have some fun? Let`s go crazy? Or are they thinking the country is
willing to go all the way to the right to beat Hillary Clinton?

FINEMAN: No, I --

MATTHEWS: What are they thinking? Which of the two?

FINEMAN: I think -- I think the people who spoke up in New Hampshire last
weekend really believe what they believe. They really believe that the
country is ready for a clarion call to reject government, essentially.

MATTHEWS: Get rid of the TSA.

FINEMAN: Get rid of the --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: No TSA, no IRS --

MATTHEWS: No, IRS, no health care --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: They really believe that. I give them credit for believing it.
But I --

MATTHEWS: Do they want to get on a plane with nobody checking them?

FINEMAN: Well, of course not. And they don`t want to abolish the IRS,
either, because they`re going to --

MATTHEWS: You said they really believe it. Which is it?

FINEMAN: No, I -- well, no, I think they -- I think they really do believe
it, but the problem they`ve got is that philosophy, which they`re also
pursuing in the U.S. Senate under Mitch McConnell, where they`re rejecting
all action on everything, is not the kind of method that you need to win a
presidential election, I don`t think.

CORN: Let me disagree a tiny bit. I think there is a degree of
hucksterism here. You know, I think that they -- some of them are playing
to the base, and they don`t believe that this is --

MATTHEWS: Give me an example of hucksterism because I can think of one
right now. Ted Cruz getting rid of the IRS means to some people no more
taxes.

CORN: Right, right, right. Well, and -- you know, but also, the whole
point of, like, this -- that liberty is under siege in this country, that
Barack Obama is totally incompetent, the guy who got Osama bin Laden, the
guy who saved Detroit, I mean, all this stuff -- you know, Newt Gingrich,
who claims to be an historian, has to understand if he says he`s a -- if
he`s as smart as he says he is, that Barack Obama has, indeed, achieved a
few big thing. But yet he gets up there with a straight face and says that
the guy`s a doofus.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: He has to know better. But it doesn`t matter because that doesn`t -
-

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: I`ll grant you that maybe Newt knows better, but I`m not sure.
And who knows about Donald Trump. If you want to talk about hucksterism,
there it is. That is hucksterism personified. But I do think the others -
- I do actually think that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee very
much have --

MATTHEWS: By the way, who crossed the border for sex, by the way? Only
Donald Trump can say something like that. I know it was a great line, but
I guess it was -- but he always --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- the dirty part of the mind. Anyway, Kasie Hunt of NBC was
at the summit and she -- and said that Rand Paul had the most enthusiastic
response with the crowd up there. Part of his message was about the need
to expand the appeal of the party. Smart enough. He called for ending
corporate welfare. Now, this took some stones to talk like that in this
crowd. Well, let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Rich companies don`t need your money. And
it`s an insult to those among us that we say we don`t have enough money for
these other programs, but we`ve got enough money for our rich friends. If
you want to be consistent, if you want to grow the movement, we cannot be
the party of fat cats, rich people and Wall Street!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And there was Americans for Prosperity, paid for by the Koch
brothers, right behind him -- "as brought to you by" -- anyway -- and
here`s what Senator Paul said about reaching out to the African-American
community. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Parts of our message has to reach out to people who we haven`t been
hitting, who haven`t been listening. The door`s not going to open up to
the African-American community or the Hispanic community until we have
something to offer. If you look at the war on drugs, three out of four
people in prison are black or brown. But your kids and grandkids aren`t
perfect, either. The police don`t come to your neighborhoods. You get a
better lawyer. These are some injustices. We have been -- people have
been concerned about injustice. We`ve got to be concerned about people who
may not be part of our group here, may not be here today, if we want to
grow our message, if we want to grow our movement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Who let him in the door? That was reasonable! Better lawyer?
We all know that. Rich people get better lawyers. They got a better
chance of skipping town on any charge --

FINEMAN: I`ve covered him, Rand Paul, from the beginning. And I think on
civil liberties issues, it`s the real deal.

MATTHEWS: There was no crowd reaction there --

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: No, no because most of those people up there are not
libertarians.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: That`s not going to win him the nomination.

MATTHEWS: They`re the "lock `em up" crowd.

FINEMAN: Yes, they`re the "lock `em up" crowd, not the libertarian crowd.
On corporate America, I think he knows better, Rand Paul. It sounds good.
I`m waiting to see a Republican really take on corporate America. If it
happens, for the interests of working people, as Teddy Roosevelt did 100
years ago, more power --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Will they close the checkbooks on him?

FINEMAN: -- more power to him.

MATTHEWS: Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, going to support
closing tax loopholes?

CORN: If he starts going -- if he starts continuing on that path. Listen,
he`s also in favor of bringing taxes down to 10 percent and slashing every
program that affects the low-income American. So he finds what he can to
talk about, but it really is not --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: -- in terms of thinking. He shows he`s thinking.

Anyway, Jeb Bush wasn`t at the summit, but in a way, his presence was felt.
Several speakers, including Ted Cruz, got some of the biggest applause
lines by opposing what`s called the Common Core educational (INAUDIBLE)
that Bush has championed. Too much federal involvement, they believe.

And here`s Cruz taking on Jeb (INAUDIBLE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You look at the 10th Amendment, with the federal government trying
to intrude into the prerogatives of the states all across the board, things
like trying to set educational standards -- let me tell you right now we
need to repeal Common Core!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) a nyah-nyah-nyah aspect to that guy that I don`t
think it`s going to sell. Your thoughts. What about Common Core?

CORN: Well, you know, that is a touchstone now on the right. It`s -- you
know, you have to be against it because it symbolizes big government. It
symbolizes the culture war that they`re still fighting that`s 20, 30 years
old. Some people link it to black helicopters and all sorts of --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: -- crazy conspiracy theories. And so, I mean, it just shows you,
between immigration, Common Core -- Jeb Bush goes out there and he`s
walking into a shredder. And is he the type of candidate who can get
through this? I mean, he`s going to look as bad as Mitt Romney.

FINEMAN: I was told that he was at a sort of a tryout performance for some
big donors the other -- the other week, Jeb Bush, recently.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And I asked one of the guys who was there, I said, Did he really
make -- is he really in it? Is he really in it? And this guy said, No, he
didn`t do a good job of faking it. I think Jeb Bush knows exactly what
David says, which is he`ll walk into that shredder, and it`s not his party
anymore. It just is not.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We`re learning a lot of this early in this program. Most other
people won`t know for a year or two. We`re watching the Republican Party
congeal on the hard right, where guys like Bush are considered lefties.

Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman and David Corn. Coming up -- both guys
are my favorites. Coming up -- I should say only favorites.

Coming up: Race and the Republicans. I mean, race. Conservative
commentators are outraged, outraged, that Steve Israel, the head of the
Democratic Campaign Committee, said that parts of the Republican base are
animated by racism. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a
conservative take on racism head on? When`s Boehner going to do it?

Plus, the latest shoe to drop in the Christie investigation. The division
of the Manhattan DA`s office that handles rackets and political corruption
has subpoenaed documents from the Port Authority. There are now four
investigations, two of them criminal, sparked by this scandal.

Also, Howard Dean -- he was the hottest Democrat of them all 10 years ago,
with a talent for engaging people in a cause. I want to know where he
thinks the Democratic Party should be going right now. He`s coming on the
show.

And leave it to our friend, Bill Maher, to take down the Republicans on
equal pay, the minimum wage and even the kissing congressman.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Scott Brown is in that Senate race up in New Hampshire,
but he`s still trailing incumbent senator Jeanne Shaheen. Let`s check the
HARDBALL "Scoreboard."

According to a new poll from the University of New Hampshire and WMUR,
Shaheen, the Democrat, leads Brown by just 6 points, however. It`s Shaheen
45, Brown 39. Earlier polling had Shaheen up by double digits. So that`s
getting close up there. Maybe he`s right to have run.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Attorney General Eric Holder sparked
a debate about racism and the GOP at Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action
Network convention just last week when he suggested that he and President
Obama have faced tougher opposition from the Republican right on account of
their race. Holder`s comment may have given voice to what many Democrats
until now have only dared to think.

But this past weekend, Democratic congressman Steve Israel of New York
weighed in on the GOP`s burgeoning race debate with Candy Crowley on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN "STATE OF THE UNION": Do you think your Republican
colleagues are racist?

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Not all of them. No, of course not. But
to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are
animated by racism, and that`s unfortunate.

CROWLEY: But you know, even --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Israel`s candor in saying that elements of the
GOP`s base are animated by racism drew denials, of course, and following
Holder`s comments, the Republican National Committee in turn accused
Democrats of playing the old race card, they said, anyway, to distract from
"Obama care," of course, and of course, Benghazi. Same story there.

But are Republican leaders ignoring the potency of the racist elements in
the fringes of their party? That`s exactly what Michael Tomasky of the
DailyBeast says in his latest column. Not only does Tomasky agree with
Steve Israel, but he accuses the GOP of willingly turning a blind eye to
unsavory elements within their own party.

And here`s from Tomasky`s piece: "You have to be living a life of willed
ignorance and denial to take issue with what Israel said." And -- quote --
"We should not then even be debating whether what Israel said is true.
Sadly, we shouldn`t even be debating why Republican politicians won`t
discuss it. None of them has the stones to do so. Some, Rand Paul and
others, talk a little in general terms about how the party needs to change
and modernize, but to spell out what that change and modernization would
involve in racial terms, no one will confront that."

With us now the author himself, Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast, and
MSNBC political analyst James Peterson, who is director of Africana studies
at Lehigh.

Gentlemen, you know, we got a white guy and a black guy, and I`m a white
guy. And this is always tricky business, because we grew up in a country
that had slavery for 350 years. We had Jim Crow for 100. We have racial
segregation in housing, which is unbelievable. There`s an untold amount of
it still in business, which you can`t isolate. And then we sit around like
purists and say, oh, I have detected some racism here.

It`s all around us. And we don`t even -- right, we`re swimming in it to
some extent.

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And yet we don`t know how to define it or limit it or push away
from it. We all agree we have got to push away from it.

Now, what you said was, to me, unexceptional, because -- about the
leadership.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: John Boehner refuses, has refused to challenge the nut balls in
his party who believe in birtherism. And that`s even just racism. That`s
racism plus stupidity --

TOMASKY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- to think that this guy`s mother, white mother from Kansas,
headed over to Africa, so she could have the kid over there, so that she
could have a kid named Barack Hussein Obama elected president in 40 years,
was the insane kind of thinking.

But Donald Trump played that card.

TOMASKY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: And he did it again this weekend with Latinos, saying, love,
made a big joke out of it, for coming across the border.

Your thoughts.

TOMASKY: I`m glad you think it was unexceptional. You should have seen my
Twitter feed today.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Don`t read it.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: I just glance at it.

But, look, there`s no question. Yes. What percentage it is, Chris, we
don`t know. We can`t say that. But in the Republican -- in the Republican
base, elements of the Republican base, as Israel said, there`s no question
that there`s a lot of racism, there`s a lot of that kind of attitude
towards Obama.

You see it pop up. How often do we see some local Republican official
somewhere sent out some e-mail to people with, you know, a watermelon patch
on the White House lawn or something like that. And then they apologize.

Look, it happens all the time.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the -- here`s the --

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: All the time.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you on that, because that`s evidence.

James, let me ask you a hard question. If Barack Obama was a standard
left-center Democrat, which I think he`s pretty close to, I mean, a regular
Hubert Humphrey, Hillary, Bill Clinton Democrat, and he did nothing on the
hard left, and he was just sort of a regular Democrat, would he be getting
this hatred from the other side?

PETERSON: Yes, he would, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Because I think he is pretty close to that.

PETERSON: Well, Chris, Chris, I -- I don`t know, Chris.

I think of Obama as a centrist. I think he`s fairly moderate. I think --
I think the Democratic Party has moved a little bit to the center in
general terms over the last 20, 30 years. But Obama is certainly a
moderate centrist and certainly has made so many concessions to the right
that those of us who are thinking about some of these things or
interpreting sort of the racial discourses of our nation have got to
conclude that race and racism and the racialization of certain discourses
is central to how certain -- some of Obama`s opponents see him.

The way we define race, though, Chris, is we should really define it less
about interpersonal racism, like, I don`t care if you don`t like me because
I`m black, and more along institutional terms. So, if it affects large
groups of people, if it denies opportunities to large groups of people, if
it stigmatizes or profiles large groups of people, that`s where it`s
important.

Obviously, at the level of Congress and obstructionism and the president,
these things are important.

MATTHEWS: Give me an example.

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSON: Well, listen --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Like voter suppression, is that what you`re talking about, voter
suppression?

PETERSON: Yes, voter -- yes, things that disproportionately affect black
folk and poor folk, that`s racism.

If you`re -- if you`re closing souls to polls, and if you`re shortening
voting times, if you`re asking people to get I.D.s, those things can be
racially sort of codified to understand how they disproportionately affect
other groups over -- certain groups over other groups.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s interesting about it. I grew up in a big city,
Philadelphia. And I keep in touch. And a guy down there, up there, one
said to me, there`s only two issues in this mayor`s race, race and taxes,
which is really race.

TOMASKY: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Because taxes means supporting public --

TOMASKY: Sure.

MATTHEWS: James is close enough to Philly to feel this. And he lives near
Philly.

TOMASKY: Right.

PETERSON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: But it`s that -- it`s that, if you`re against public schools,
you`re probably -- it`s an attitude.

TOMASKY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It`s an ethnic attitude, because most of the kids in public
school in Philly are black. You basically want to screw them --

TOMASKY: Of course.

MATTHEWS: -- cut them off their spending, you know, the whole thing.

TOMASKY: And everything gets coded in that way.

And George Wallace said it and Lee Atwater said it. And then a lot of them
have said it. You can`t say black anymore. You can`t say that word that
George Wallace used to say back in the 1950s.

MATTHEWS: Say welfare.

TOMASKY: But you say welfare, you say bussing, you say these kinds of
things, you get the point across.

PETERSON: Urban.

TOMASKY: That still happens in the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Urban.

TOMASKY: Urban.

And, you know, black people aren`t stupid. They understand this. They
know, as James was saying.

(CROSSTALK)

TOMASKY: -- voter suppression.

MATTHEWS: What`s the reasonable way that --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me -- James, you take it over here.

What`s a reasonable way that commentators like us, black and white and
brown, Hispanic, how do you talk about it without sounding like you`re
prissier than thou, and you`re above all sort of loyalties, ethnic
loyalties, you`re better -- you have no racial identity at all, when
everybody has some, the question -- maybe they should have some.

How do you establish a standard of political conduct on race?

PETERSON: Right.

See, well, I`m much less interested in some kind of colorblind tone or
tonalities and much more interested in talking about the substance of the
challenges that we face, Chris. The reality is, we`re very, very good at
focusing on individual sort of incidences around race and racism.

There`s a project called Race Forward that did great work on this in the
media. So, when Trayvon Martin happens in the media, we can talk about it.
And maybe people will get upset about that, but we have the conversation.

But it`s tougher for us in the media to have the sustained kind of dialogue
around institutional racism that`s actually required to root it out. Now,
Chris, you do a great job on your show. I`m not pandering here. You do a
great job on your show of documenting how, in politics, race comes up, how
the race card is either used or how people racialize certain situations.

You remember, when we were covering the presidential election, all the food
stamp comments, 47 percent. The whole conversation around entitlements is
racialized. And so, in the media, we have got to focus more on systems and
broad-base things that matter and a little bit less on the sensationalized,
easy-to-cover individual incidences of racism.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes, well, it`s going to go on. This is America.

TOMASKY: Well --

MATTHEWS: The best thing about it is, we have gotten better. And our past
ain`t so pretty.

Anyway, Michael Tomasky, great writing.

TOMASKY: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

And, James Peterson, please come on again often.

Up next: Just say no. Bill Maher skewers House Republicans as only he
can. And that`s coming up in a minute or so.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: President Obama this week signed a series of new
executive orders intended to strengthen equal pay laws for women. Those
who support the measure say that it`s a step forward, while those who
oppose it can be seen Sunday nights on AMC.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Time for the "Sideshow."

That was "SNL"`S "Weekend Update" on the president`s push for equal pay for
women in the workplace.

But, as HBO`s Bill Maher pointed out this week, the president is having a
little more trouble getting equal pay legislation through Congress.

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

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": The Republicans in Congress
had quite a week.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Just on Wednesday alone, they blocked the Equal Pay Act. They
blocked protections for gays in the place. They blocked an increase in the
minimum wage. They even blocked an increase in mine safety.

So, if you`re a lesbian who`s digging up coal for $6 an hour --

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: -- you had a very bad day on Wednesday.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Only Bill can talk like that.

But when it comes to congressional Republicans, one House member from
Louisiana distinguished himself, you might say, last week, in a way that I
would rather leave to Bill Maher again.

To explain, here`s his take on freshman Congressman Vince -- or, rather,
Vance McAllister, who has managed to embroil himself of a drama worthy of a
daytime soap opera after less than five months on the job.

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

MAHER: Did you see Vance McAllister? Do you know who he is?

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: He`s the Republican congressman from Louisiana, married, was making
out with a married staffer.

And this is the first time we have such a scandal on videotape. I usually
wouldn`t show some -- oh, there it is --

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: The show is not long enough to show the entire kiss.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: So -- but, boy, what is it with Republican congressmen these days?
Even they`re voting against women or they`re rubbing against them.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Finally, Speaker of the House John Boehner may not be at risk of
losing his seat in the House, but that doesn`t stop Tea Party opponent J.D.
Winteregg from creating a Web ad against him that you have got to see to
believe.

It`s a parody of a Cialis commercial. And that`s all the introduction it
needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

NARRATOR: You make a great team. It`s been that way since the day you
met. But your electile dysfunction, it could be a question issue of blood
flow. Sometimes, when a politician has been in D.C. too long, it goes to
his head, and he just can`t seem to get the job done.

Used on a daily basis, Winteregg in Congress will help you every time the
moment is right. If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek
immediate medical attention.

Winteregg, because Boehner shouldn`t count his chickens before they hatch.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s Boehner.

J.D. WINTEREGG, OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I`m J.D. Winteregg, and I
approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Up next: drip, drip, drip.

There`s now another investigation into the George Washington Bridge
scandal. This time, it`s the Manhattan`s DA`s division that handles
rackets, as well as political corruption, with a criminal inquiry into the
Christie administration. And that`s ahead.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

President Obama spoke by phone with President Putin on the escalating
violence in the Ukraine, saying Russia`s actions there are not conducive to
diplomatic options. President Putin said authorities in Kiev are to blame
for the tensions there.

The robotic submarine sent to scan the ocean floor in search of the missing
Malaysia airliner has returned after a six-hour mission. Teams will now
extract data from the sub and analyze it for clues -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Another Port Authority official has resigned, and the Christie
administration`s lawyers have given state investigators hundreds of pages
of new documents.

But we start tonight with the big news. Governor Christie`s office is now
the focus of a second criminal inquiry. In addition to the U.S. attorney
in New Jersey, NBC News has confirmed that prosecutors at the Manhattan
district attorney`s office have opened up their own criminal probe, which
so far has issued subpoenas for documents and records involving Port
Authority construction projects.

"The Wall Street Journal" has the -- was the first to break the news.
They`re reporting now that the governor`s office is under scrutiny as well.
Quote: "The subpoena seeks correspondence among current and former Port
Authority officials and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s
administration."

And "The New York Times" has learned that the inquiry is being conducted by
the division of the DA`s office that handles racket and political
corruption. And this is the group that, according to the district
attorney`s office, conducts long-term investigations into the corrupt
activities of criminal enterprises.

Christie`s defense and that of his lawyers is that this was a case of two
rogue staffers, two emotional and other -- the other with crazy ideas who
shut down the George Washington Bridge in an isolated incident without
anyone else knowing their true motives.

But if these new subpoenas are any indication, prosecutors are exploring at
least the possibility of a pattern of criminal activity around the
governor`s office.

Loretta Weinberg is a state senator from New Jersey and of course the co-
chair of the committee investigating the governor`s office. And William
Rashbaum is the reporter who broke the story for "The New York Times."

Representative Weinberg, tell me how this hit you, this news. What does it
say to you about the grounds on which you`re -- you`re investigating
yourself as a legislative committee?

LORETTA WEINBERG (D), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATOR: Well, the documents that
we have been requesting from Randy Mastro`s office did arrive today in
time.

They have all been downloaded, and all they do is add to the fact that this
report is not worth the paper it`s written on. They didn`t even interview
one person in the Port Authority. Apparently, they didn`t really want to
find out what went on here. They didn`t even call the executive director,
Pat Foye, the man who reversed the infamous lane closings on the George
Washington Bridge.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WEINBERG: So this report is 430-some-odd pages of more whitewash, is the
kindest way --

MATTHEWS: Well, who are all those people? I looked at that list. I
didn`t recognize any of the 75 names, or hardly any. Who are the people
that they did interview for the Randy Mastro report?

WEINBERG: They are some staffers in the governor`s office, second- and
third-rate -- I don`t mean second- and third-rate -- second- and third-
level staffers --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WEINBERG: -- people who talked to people.

MATTHEWS: Well, loyalists.

WEINBERG: It really -- it isn`t even good -- it isn`t even a good -- it
even a good cover-up, in my humble opinion.

I have been saying that about this from the very beginning. How about
asking somebody in the Port Authority about the so-called traffic study,
the thing that the governor insisted right up through the beginning of
December was actually in existence? They never asked one person there?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WEINBERG: I mean, the whole thing is very disconcerting.

And Randy Mastro -- I have said it before and I will repeat it again on
your show, Chris -- should be ashamed to have his name on this report.

MATTHEWS: Sir, what did you make of -- how do you put this in context?
Can you? This story that the DA`s office, Cyrus Vance Jr`s office, is
looking into this thing, it`s the division that handles rackets, as well as
political corruption.

What can you get -- tell us the main story. What are they doing at this
point? What is the DA`s office doing? What can you report?

WILLIAM RASHBAUM, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think that, right now,
they`re just starting to get documents back from the subpoena which was
issued I think in the middle of March.

So they`re going to be reviewing the materials, organizing it, analyzing
it, and looking for evidence of any criminal activity.

MATTHEWS: And so what -- what can you derive from the fact that it`s the -
- it`s this division that handles rackets and political corruption? Is
that just this -- where you would expect them to be going, the -- the group
to be active in this probe?

RASHBAUM: Yes. I mean, I think that they have -- it seems as though
they`ve seen enough that they feel there`s -- that it`s worthwhile for them
to look into this. And so those are the people who would generally be
tasked with doing that.

MATTHEWS: Would this be Cy Vance, Jr., the D.A., who would make this call?
Or is it lower down?

RASHBAUM: I would think that that would be his call.

MATTHEWS: Here`s some of the -- in your reporting, here are a few of the
Port Authority deals, according to the reports by "The Times", your paper,
"The Bergen Record", and "The Wall Street Journal" combined, the New York
prosecutors are probing. There`s a $1 billion development deal in Lower
Manhattan to rebuild a transit hub.

There`s a Port Authority deal that take over the Atlantic City airport for
whatever reason which benefited the Port Authority commissioner`s private
law firm. We`re talking, of course, about Christie appointee David Samson.
There`s the massive multibillion dollar rebuilding of the World Trade
Center itself, the site there, that properties owner has a long standing
client of Samson`s law firm.

And then there`s $1.8 billion in Port Authority funds that were diverted to
other projects, which benefited Christie politically. The D.A. is
investigating if that deal legally bypassed lawmakers or violated
securities or income tax laws.

I want to go to Representative Weinberg.

Food for thought here. It does seem to be that Samson, having worked for
the governor, does benefit from some of these decisions made out of
Trenton.

STATE SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, David Samson was the
former attorney general of the state of New Jersey, so I`m assuming that as
a very well-educated attorney and the former attorney general, he knows
what the laws are of the state of New Jersey, and those laws include not
voting on something as the commissioner on the Port Authority that you or
your clients might benefit from.

And apparently according to public reports, Mr. Samson did that
inadvertently. He really meant not to vote for it. And they were trying
to correct these based upon somebody`s notes. So, they`re -- it sounds
like they`re attempting to do a do-over here, but I would guess that the
Manhattan D.A. is apparently looking into that and various other business
deals.

The Port Authority handles billions of dollars of public money. A good
portion of which are paid by the people who drive over the George
Washington Bridge, the people I represent where as of now it costs $13 to
drive over that bridge.

MATTHEWS: Let me tie this up. Let me tie this up.

Samson is the guy at the heart of the cases like the waterfront development
project in Hoboken, that was being jammed at Dawn Zimmer. And notice every
time we talk about one of these projects, there`s Samson as the lawyer. It
just seems like if I were looking at this thing, I`d say, well, you worked
for Christie, stayed part of his political army and afterwards there`s some
feeding time going on here.

WEINBERG: He was also the head of the governor`s transition team when
Governor Christie won and has been a close adviser.

MATTHEWS: It looks very sweet to me. Looks very sweet.

Thank you very much, William Rashbaum, for joining us from "The New York
Times". Great reporting on there, deadline reporting. And thank you for
coming on.

Up next, Howard Dean captivated the Democratic Party people back in 2004,
especially young people as the first anti-war presidential candidate during
the Iraq war. He`s coming here next.

I want to know where he thinks the party needs to be going right now.
What`s the future for the Democrats? Not just `14 or `16 but looking
forward.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: As Democrats awaiting a decision in 2016 from Hillary Clinton,
former President Bill Clinton isn`t sitting on the sidelines. He`s
stepping up his travel plans to help Democratic candidates in what promises
to be a very tough election campaign this year. On June 13th, Big Bill
will be the headline speaker at the state dinner for the Ohio Democratic
Party.

Ohio, of course, is a big presidential swing state. It`s worth nothing
that one of Hillary Clinton`s top supporters over the years is former Ohio
Governor Ted Strickland.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: You have the power to take back
the Democratic Party. You have the power to take our country back. And
you have the power to the White House back in 2004.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was former Vermont Governor Howard Dean announcing his campaign for
president back in June of 2003. "You have the power" was repeated by Dean
all over the trail and used to connect with young people and create a
grassroots movement during 2004 presidential campaign.

But the generation of young people and first time voters who participated
in the electoral process in record numbers, inspired by Dean and then by
Barack Obama`s campaigns have resisted launching their own careers in
public office. "The New York Times" writes today, "Unlike John F. Kennedy
and Ronald Reagan who inspired virtual legislators of politicians and
became generational touchstones, Mr. Obama has so far had little such
influence. That is all the more remarkable considering he came to office
tapping into a spirit of volunteerism and community service that pollsters
say is widespread and intense among young people."

Can President Obama tap the energy of young people again off the campaign
trail to achieve big things in the last three years of his presidency still
to go.

Howard Dean was governor of Vermont and chairman of the Democratic National
Committee.

Governor, it is so fascinating and dreadful to me in a way. Every time I
meet a young person in their early 20s, just out of college, and I`m lucky
to meet some really good ones. They talk about joining teach for America,
or a city year or in a rare case, too rare, I would argue, because I was
there and learned so much from it, the Peace Corps.

And yet you ask who wants to run for office, it`s the odd duck. Very few
people. You as a young guy were so successful in politics. What`s
happening and what can the president, what can you and other people,
especially in the progressive side do to get people to get off their butts
and run for office? Because without that, it`s not going to work out very
well for that point of view.

DEAN: Well, there`s two problems, Chris. One is the horrendous state that
Congress is in is populated by people mostly on the Republican side who put
their party in front of their country. There should be some ability to
work together, and there just isn`t because the minority party just refuses
to do it, the majority in the House. And so, that`s part of it. But the
real issue has nothing to do with Obama or anybody else. It`s the
Internet.

Why would you put 30 years of your life into politics building a career and
hope to participate in three or four major issues maybe when you can go
online and find 100,000 people and get stuff done right away? Remember,
you know, we all protested, we all marched around the Pentagon and all
these things over the Vietnam War, took us seven years to shut the war
down. They went online for three days and got rid of the only -- one of
the very few bipartisan bills, the intellectual property bills three years
ago because they thought it was biased towards the content provider.

The internet is such a strong tool. They -- I think they really believe
they don`t need politics. It`s become irrelevant.

MATTHEWS: Does that mean you don`t have to get off your chair? You just
work with a laptop. I mean, is that it? Is that going to be our future?

DEAN: No --

MATTHEWS: Laptop existence because people don`t go door-to-door, they
don`t give good speeches, they don`t arouse people, they don`t lead.

You`re saying you can be a leader from your laptop. I question that. I
don`t think -- I don`t have a list of great leaders who`ve done it that
way.

I know I`m putting words in your mouth. Your way of saying it.

DEAN: You are putting words in my mouth. But it`s legitimate. There is a
crew that we called slacktivists in the generation that does everything on
a laptop. But as you point out, there`s a lot, lot more. They`re working
in Rwanda, or Burundi, and creating empowerment communities there and
changing everything.

I know of a woman who`s 18 years old. She`s now 25. She`s invented a
foreign aid model that`s much more effective than USAID and she figured it
out herself when she was 18 years old in South Sudan. They`re -- Teach for
America, as populated -- inner city education, Chris, you know, you`re a
veteran of the civil rights movement. You got into politics shortly after
all that was going on, served in Congress under Tip O`Neill in terms of
working for him. You remember those days.

With these guys just going on, they don`t make speeches. They don`t do
those things. They just go out and get it done. Teach for America and
this younger generation is revolutionizing education in the inner city, and
neither Democrats or Republicans were able to do that over 40-year period.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s get personal now. What I really like about your
campaign, besides the fact that you`re the first guy with a gall to get out
there and fight a stupid war, the Iraq war, way ahead of John Kerry, as you
know, way ahead of everybody with the possible exception of the president,
but you were ahead of him. You laid that speech back -- you were out there
hustling.

My son Michael worked for you. By the way, he served in Rwanda working
with the Clinton Global Initiative over there fighting AIDS. And so, we`re
very proud of what you did.

But that thing about you, we showed that opening clip -- you, I don`t feel
the president has been able -- except in the campaign itself, both
campaigns, which he`s very effective at, getting the interactive going,
getting people engaged like Jack Kennedy did back in the `60s when I was
still in high school back there. And he would say things like "ask not
what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."
That spirit of engagement, of participation, I don`t think it`s there.

You say it`s there on the laptop. I`m not sure it`s there.

DEAN: No, I think it is there. But I agree. The laptop is the organizing
model. But the fact is there are tons and tons of kids in the field.

What isn`t there is the reverence and expectation that politics is the way
to fix all this. That`s the problem.

Look at law school, for example. A lot of way into politics was law. A
lot of law school`s applications were down 30 percent to 40 percent last
year. That`s partly because of student debt and partly because people
don`t think you need that education to change things.

Chris, I really don`t blame -- except for the refusal to get anything done,
which is not necessary. I really don`t blame the politicians for this one.
I think they`ve just been bypassed by the net. And they don`t offer much
of a model. You have a bunch of people running around Congress who are
really interested in themselves, not interested in the country.

I think this younger generation is interested in the country. And they`re
not as some of their elders portray them, a bunch of people sitting and
playing video games. Are there some people like that? Yes.

But as you know, the top 15 percent or 20 percent of any generation defines
the generation. I think this generation is already going to have a great
legacy. But, unfortunately, politics is probably not something they`re
interested in.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think there are many Bill Clintons or Howard Deans
floating around out there right now. And, by the way, when I look at the
list for Senate -- United States Senate candidates, I`m appalled right now.
These are weak, weak, AAA candidates and one of them is going to win.

In the old days, the United States Senate was made up of a lot of great
people. Now, there`s a lot of not great people in the United States Senate
and the bar gets lower and lower. I`m sorry. I`m getting old. It`s what
I see.

Governor Howard Dean, the man who invented the word "you" --

DEAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: -- you can do this.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this thing we started with: this wild
lurch of the Republicans, the one they`re taking to the right in
preparation for 2016.

I do wonder about the cause and effect here. Are the Republicans heading
hard to starboard because they know they can`t beat Hillary Clinton so they
might as well have a good time losing? Do what they feel like doing?
Saying what they deeply believe? Not what will sell with the middle?

Or is it a cyclical thing, that both political parties have a tendency
every once go with their guts, to abandon the main channel and go off with
some tributaries somewhere, like the Republicans did back in `64 with Barry
Goldwater. Like the Democrats did in 1972 with anti-war candidate George
McGovern.

In either case, it`s probably not definitely but probably, it spells
defeat. It means one party. In this case, the Republicans coming up
staking out the right while the other party stakes out the left and the
center. What a strange thing to be doing for the Republicans. Eight years
of being locked out of the White House, they give the other party, the
Democrats, such an advantage right up front.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

And to our friends celebrating tonight, have a Happy Passover.

"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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