1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 6/25/2014 2:23:40 PM ET 2014-06-25T18:23:40

HARDBALL
June 24, 2014

Guest: Kendall Coffey, Nicholas Confessore, Bobby Ghosh, Adam Brandon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A bridge too far.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with Governor Christie`s problems. It`s
getting hot. Today`s "New York Times" reported that prosecutors in
Manhattan have zeroed in on a securities fraud case against Christie`s
administration. It involved New Jersey raising money under the name of the
Port Authority and then spending it on an expensive state road project. If
proven, reports suggest it could constitute a felony against whoever in the
Trenton offices put their hand to it.

Well, the possible securities fraud is being probed along with the
other pieces of the New Jersey scandal, the closing of the George
Washington Bridge last September as some form of political punishment or
whatever, the alleged strong-arm tactics employed against the mayor of
Hoboken to back a waterfront development project, accusations of a possible
case of extortion, threatening the loss of government hurricane recovery
money.

Nick Confessore`s a reporter with "The New York Times" and Kendall
Coffey`s a former U.S. attorney and founder of the law firm Coffey
Burlington (ph).

Well, the walls look to be closing in. As I mentioned, the big story
on the front page of today`s "New York Times," a second bridge inquiry is
said to be linked to Chris Christie. Last week, we told you about the big
news in "Esquire" magazine, which reported that the U.S. attorney in New
Jersey was closing in on Christie`s office and that indictments against
four of his allies, including the former chairman of the Port Authority,
David Samson, were near certain -- those words in the report.

The headline in today`s "New York Times" is that the Manhattan
district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission have zeroed in
on possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion road
repair agreement in 2011, according to people briefed on the matter. Well,
those violations, according to the newspaper, could result in criminal
charges. That means felonies.

Let me go right now to Nicholas Confessore. Explain the various
bodies now involved in investigating and perhaps getting close to indicting
the people around the governor, or the governor himself.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, what you have in New
York state here, Chris, is an extraordinarily powerful statute called the
Martin Act. It was used heavily by Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo to
prosecute Wall Street. But what it basically says is that if you can find
that somebody has lied or committed a deception in the securities industry,
you don`t have to prove deliberate intent to deceive.

You have very broad latitude to go after fraud and securities, and
that includes bonds issued by the Port Authority in this case to pay for
other projects but which describes the Pulaski Skyway bridge repair as a
way to fix the access roads to the Lincoln Tunnel, which are miles away.

(CROSSTALK)

CONFESSORE: It sounds very complicated...

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t go to the Lincoln Tunnel.

CONFESSORE: That`s right. But essentially, the issue -- what`s at
issue here, Chris, is whether they told bond holders -- they essentially
deceived bond holders about what capital projects the Port Authority was
undertaking because they were actually raiding the Port Authority for this
money to pay for these other road projects to avoid raising the gas tax and
compromising the governor`s reputation for fiscal probity.

MATTHEWS: Kendall, this is the kind of thing -- like, you know, not
to say that they`re at all the same, like -- the way prosecutors got to
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was through Paula Jones. I mean, it seems
like one of these -- this is a tributary. Would this investigation have
occurred were it not for all the noise and focus on the bridge closings of
the Port Authority bridge itself, the George Washington Bridge?

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, perhaps not because
once the feds are after you, once there`s a lot of law enforcement
interest, people start picking up the phone and calling, especially those
who, for whatever reasons, have some real issues with the alleged center of
the whole controversy.

And let`s emphasize -- you`ve talked about three matters which ought
to be enough to keep anybody awake at night. We don`t know what else is
out there, but I can assure you that other people are calling about other
allegations. So there`s a lot of things that Chris Christie has to be
concerned about right now.

MATTHEWS: Well, Nicholas, is there a possibility that the Manhattan
DA, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the -- and Paul Fishman, the
U.S. attorney in New Jersey -- they could all be moving toward some sort of
criminal action here?

CONFESSORE: It`s very possible. The Martin Act is a New York
statute. It`s the most powerful such law in the country, which is why the
Manhattan DA is involved. And remember, the project where they got this
money from was supposed to be a big tunnel under the Hudson River that was
going to help New York and New Jersey. So that`s why you have a Manhattan
DA investigating a scandal in a different state, basically.

And of course, the SEC is involved, as well. It`s a securities
matter. But what`s amazing here -- if I were a Port Authority official
involved in approving those bond prospectuses or approving the expenditure
of that money for the Pulaski Skyway project, I would be very worried right
now.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the larger picture. I mean, I
follow politics and I follow Christie and his whole career. And when he
made that decision to basically cancel that rail tunnel to New York, that
third tunnel, it got a lot of heat.

And then we find out that he was -- under this possible scenario, he
was taking the money that was for that tunnel construction and using it for
something that had nothing to do with the Port Authority. In fact, had to
do with the Pulaski highway in the state of New Jersey. And he did that so
he didn`t have to raise taxes, therefore, he could look like a low-taxer
but still do big stuff.

CONFESSORE: Right.

MATTHEWS: In other words, he was moving stuff around.

CONFESSORE: He was basically, you know, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Look, it`s not -- it`s not free money. When you raid $1.8 billion out of
the Port Authority, it comes out of stuff that the Port Authority should be
doing, and it can result in things that people feel in their pocketbook
both in New York and New Jersey. You know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why are we just finding out -- I mean, a billion -- $1.8
billion is a lot of money by anybody`s standards. Why didn`t this thing
get nailed immediately when it happened, when the -- when they realized the
bond money was going to build a better highway in New Jersey?

CONFESSORE: Well, you know, in fairness, this has been covered a
while. And I think it goes to your point earlier. We knew that they had
diverted this money. The political story, the kind of cover line, that the
cancellation of the other project was because of worries of cost overruns
was sort of -- quickly went up in smoke over the last 12 months.

What was less clear was the fact that they had been describing this
expenditure out of the Port Authority in a certain way to their investors.
That`s come to light more recently.

MATTHEWS: Oh.

CONFESSORE: As you said earlier, once you get prosecutors sniffing
around, all the prosecutors in that neighborhood, you know, want a piece of
the action.

MATTHEWS: Well, Kendall, it seems like this is a very tough act, this
Martin Act. And what it seems to me is based upon some requirement of the
prosecutors to be able to make a case without getting into motive. It
seems to me that just doing it on paper is the crime itself, taking money
from investors, claiming that the money`s going to be used for one thing
and then using it for something totally different, in a different
jurisdiction, in fact. That`s enough information, apparently, according to
what I`m hearing here, to indict.

COFFEY: Well, absolutely in the sense that you can charge a
misdemeanor if somebody had a meaningful involvement in putting a statement
into the bond documents that was inaccurate. Don`t have to show that
anybody relied on it to cause damages or that the alleged perpetrators had
a knowledge that it was inaccurate. That`s a scary thing if you`re sitting
on the other side of this investigation. That`s a misdemeanor. Of course,
a felony requires some greater knowledge.

But consider this. You`ve got the SEC involved, too. And almost
inevitably, where you`re saying that, in effect, the skyway was six miles
from the Lincoln Tunnel and that that is an access road to the Lincoln
Tunnel, there`s going to be SEC enforcement action. May not be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: It`s transparently inaccurate to say that that`s an access
tunnel -- access route to the Lincoln Tunnel when it goes to the Holland
Tunnel.

COFFEY: This is an easy case, certainly at the SEC level. They`re
going to bring this case at some point, and that`s going to be an ugly
picture for everybody concerned.

MATTHEWS: Nicholas, are they talking -- are your sources talking
felony prosecution here?

CONFESSORE: Yes, depends a lot on what`s turned up. And who gets
charged with what, obviously, depends on their involvement. What we`ve
seen in the reporting so far is a lot of evidence that the Christie
administration leaned on the Port Authority, was very intent on getting
this money reallocated. Whether or not anyone in the administration had
any involvement in this bond prospectus that would be the exact subject of
the fraud, I`m not sure we know yet.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at another point here. The one that
grabbed me from the beginning was Dawn Zimmer`s -- the mayor of Hoboken
saying that she was approached in a parking lot by the lieutenant governor,
Guadagno, and told that although it shouldn`t be this way -- those were her
words -- if she doesn`t back this waterfront development the governor`s
pushing and his friends would benefit from, that she won`t get any
government money for hurricane relief.

That always struck me as having the ring of truth to it. Is that --
and "Esquire" reported last week that`s one of the three live
investigations here that may be leading towards prosecution. What does
"The New York Times" know about that Hoboken case, that piece of this
thing?

CONFESSORE: You know, Chris, I`m not sure we have any new reporting
to share in the Hoboken case on the air tonight. But I think it makes your
point that there are these various investigations, and not all on the same
topic. They kind of all go to this question of economic development, how
money is spent. And so there`s a broader political issue for the governor
here, I think, this sense that, like, there was a lot of gamesmanship, a
lot of pressure being applied to get his economic agenda going. And in
some cases, it may not have been appropriate pressure.

MATTHEWS: Well, there are five, as you`re reporting now here -- there
are five active investigations right now into Governor Christie`s office.
State lawmakers continue their investigation. They`ve held four hearings
now on the bridge closures and will likely hold more later this year.
That`s the state legislative committee.

The Port Authority inspector general is investigating the agency. By
all accounts, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Paul Fishman, is closing in
on the governor`s office. A report, as I said, in "Esquire" last week said
indictments were, quote, "near certain," close quote.

And now we`ve got significant movement by the Manhattan DA, Cyrus
Vance, Jr., and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is a federal
agency, which are probing $1.8 billion in potentially tainted
infrastructure deals.

Last word to you, Kendall. What`s it all look like to you from both
sides, prosecution and defense?

COFFEY: Well, I think the prosecution`s got a lot of tools, and I
think there`s going to be prosecutions. You talked about the mayor of
Hoboken. That is an easy case, if they believe the mayor, and a classic
case of extortion. These other things -- they may go on a while. Don`t
expect indictments quite as soon as some are suspecting.

But somebody in that "bridge-gate" case -- and I think also in the SEC
-- in the other case involving the alleged access road to the Lincoln
Tunnel -- people are going to start rolling and people are going to start
flipping. And it`s going to go up the ladder. How high? We`ll probably
know within a matter of months.

MATTHEWS: Why does this read like "On the Waterfront"? It just seems
to. Thank you so much, Nicholas Confessore of the great "New York Times"
and Kendall Coffey.

Coming up: War talk. Are we inching our way back to war in Iraq?
Catch this -- 71 percent of Americans now say, as of today, that the war
over there wasn`t worth it under George Bush, Jr. So why go back in now?
Two Bushes, two wars, and now what?

Plus, Thad Cochran`s trying to get African-Americans to vote for him
in today`s Mississippi Republican primary run-off, but now Tea Party
supporters -- catch this -- backing his opponent are using a Jim Crow-era
law to challenge the right of some people to vote.

Also, Democrats hope to turn solid red Georgia blue by registering
hundreds of thousands of African-Americans. We`ll see. If it works in
Georgia, it could work somewhere else, as well.

Finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with my strong sense that we are
headed back to war. It`s coming.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Impeachment fever seems to be infecting parts of the
Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh, the de facto head of the party, today
said President Obama should be impeached for -- Rush`s words here -- quote,
"using the IRS to damage his political opponents."

Well, this weekend, the Republican Party of South Dakota officially
passed a resolution calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach
President Obama -- that`s South Dakota -- accusing the president of
violating his oath of office in numerous ways.

And last week, U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said the
House probably had the votes for impeachment. Do you believe this stuff?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, this morning, I woke up to
this news on the front page of "The Washington Post." Quote, "Secretary of
State John F. Kerry said the United States will protect its national
security interests even if Iraq cannot bridge their widening sectarian and
political divides."

So that sounds to me like we`re not going to wait for Maliki or
someone else to create a unity government over there before we, the United
States, takes military action. The article in "The Washington Post" went
on to say the administration has left open the door for strikes -- that`s
air strikes -- on both sides of the border. That`s the Iraqi and the
Syrian side.

Well, this morning, Secretary Kerry told CBS News that launching air
strikes at this moment would be a complete and total act of
irresponsibility when there`s no government, there`s no backup, there`s no
military -- those (ph) words -- there`s nothing there that provides the
capacity for success. Again Kerry`s words. Is Kerry teasing us, however,
with the possibility of U.S. military involvement?

Meanwhile, a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, also an
Annenberg poll, shows that by a margin of 50 percent to 43 percent,
Americans say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to assist the Iraqi
government against insurgent troops. On top to that, catch this number, a
whopping 71 percent of Americans now say the Iraq war, which George W.
brought us to, was not worth it -- not worth it, W.`s war. That`s up from
59 percent in January 13th of last year -- January of 2013.

Joining me right now is Bobby Ghosh -- he`s managing editor of Quartz
-- and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.

I want Governor Rendell to get in here in a moment. I want -- about
the politics of this thing. I want to talk to Bobby about what`s going on
right now.

If you look at that map, it`s pretty dramatic, Bobby, how much ISIS
has been able to do in just a few days. They`ve taken over a huge part of
Iraq. They`ve challenged the government of Jordan, which is friendly to
the United States, grabbing that border situation there. They`ve taken
over a good part of Syria, of course. And they`re doing it all with a
couple hundred guys with rifles, apparently, from what I can tell, semi-
automatic rifles, AK-47s. And nobody`s actually fighting them.

And what it tells me is what anybody and common sense would have
known, is you can`t create an army with esprit de corps, willing to fight
for something, if you`re simply paying them a monthly salary and giving
them nice uniforms. Of course, they`ll take the money and the uniforms for
a decent salary, but they`re not going to get killed for that money. And
if it`s only the money and the uniforms they`re fighting for, they`re not
going to fight very hard. And what`s going on is they`re racing to Baghdad
to make a stand there.

My question to you is, what`s our interest in getting in on either
side of this fight?

BOBBY GHOSH, QUARTZ: Well, the Obama administration has not yet fully
articulated their interest. There are interests in involved. This is,
after all, the world`s -- OPEC`s second largest oil producer. As you
pointed out, this terrorist group is now getting very dangerously close to
countries that are our allies, like Jordan. They are -- last I heard, they
were about 70 miles away from the border with Saudi Arabia, another ally.

And of course, this is a group that is badder, if you like, than al
Qaeda. They were kicked out of al Qaeda because they were regarded as too
radical. That group already has an interest in attacking us and our allies
in Europe and in Israel. If you look at some of their -- some of the
propaganda that they`re putting out on line, for instance, they`re already
trying to reach out to disaffected youth in this country, in Europe. They
have American fighters fighting alongside them. They have European
fighters fighting alongside.

So this is a terrorist group that threatens everybody, and this is a
part of the world where there is direct U.S. strategic, economic and
security interests. But to take that argument and make that argument to
the American public that -- as you showed in that -- in those polls, does
not want any part of this conflict -- is going to be very hard for the
administration to do.

MATTHEWS: You know, we were attacked on 9/11, of course, by some guys
who were working out of Hamburg, Germany, and used the thugs they were able
to recruit from Saudi Arabia.

It seems to me that this idea we have to hold territory to protect
ourselves is meaningless, because they can operate all over the world, with
these Alistair MacLean tactics of grabbing commercial airliners. And that
has nothing to do with whether they`re running along on monkey lines trying
to practicing calisthenics somewhere, which is this notion we have of that.

But here`s my question. If people of Sunni background, of Muslim
background go back to the region because they -- their roots are there, and
they get fighting there, what can we do about that? We can`t stop that.
They may have American citizenship, which is important, but they were able
to go back because of loyalties that preceded that.

And they are going back and fighting over there. How does our getting
involved in that war stop their urge on their part to do that? It seems to
me that would increase that urge, just like put -- Cheney putting all our
troops in the Holy Land of Mecca is what got all the upset people created
al Qaeda there. We created al Qaeda, as you mentioned here, in Iraq
because we were there.

We keep treating it like this is a big army we have to fight, when in
fact it`s a point of view, a political point of view, which we ignite every
time we go into one of those countries and start shooting Arabs. My
question to you, are we going to win this fight by slaughtering Arabs by
airpower or by drones on international television? Is that going to make
Sunni Arabs less likely to fight us or Shias less likely to fight us?

GHOSH: No, we`re not going to -- we`re not going to succeed if that`s
all we do. And we`re certainly not going to succeed if we try to -- if we
try to do this by ourselves.

It is worth remembering that the 9/11 attacks were made possible
because al Qaeda had a safe haven. They were able to plot. They were able
to train. They were able to create an organization.

MATTHEWS: Well, couldn`t they have done that in Germany?

GHOSH: No, I don`t think so.

If that were capable -- that`s part of the reason why they have not
been able to attack us in any serious way since then.

They have not had a government, a piece of territory that supports
them as openly as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GHOSH: So, it`s important to deny them that sense of security.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, just remember the guys who got the flight training
courtesy of the United States air flight -- or aviation experts down in
Florida were identified by that aviation teacher down there who was
teaching them how to fly planes in the air once they`re in the air as being
German.

He said, I think they`re from Germany. I think they`re German.

GHOSH: Yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. What a joke. They were operating out of Germany.

Let me go to the governor, Governor Rendell.

The American people -- Pennsylvania is a pretty middle-of-the-road
state on these kinds of issues. Do you think the people want another war?

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, absolutely not.

And I think the president knows that. And the president also has the
responsibility. When you`re commander in chief, and you send Americans
into war, they die, you feel that, you feel that very deeply.

I don`t think there`s any situation where we will put boots on the
ground. Will we use airpower? Well, you gave a good example, Chris. If
they started to go into Jordan, I think we would use airpower to defend our
ally. But we have no ally in Iraq. Let`s be clear about that.

Maliki always danced to the tune of the ayatollahs in Iran. He was
never a friend of ours. He blew it when he kicked us out because we
wouldn`t do the right thing. We wanted to leave some troops in and he
kicked us out. He`s never tried to bring the Sunnis or the Kurds into the
government.

We should have tried to force a new government a long time ago. But I
don`t think the president -- I think what John Kerry said today is
operative. The president is not going to go in and help the Maliki
government, unless Maliki either steps down or makes an immediate effort to
get the Sunnis and the Kurds back to the table to form a real government.

MATTHEWS: But explain to me this. You say that we would go in on
behalf of Jordan, appropriately.

Jordan has an air force. We have been supporting its air force for
years. They have got an intelligence service, yet they don`t seem to be
fighting ISIS for some reason. There is something murky going on there,
Governor, politically. You and I are not Sunni or Shia, but it seems to me
the Sunni kingdom of -- the Hashemite kingdom Jordan is Sunni to the core.

If you talk to King Abdullah, it`s always about the Sunnis vs. the
Shia. And here he has a Sunni operation coming at him. Why do we start
using airpower against the Sunnis coming at him if he doesn`t want to do
it? And he`s not doing it yet.

RENDELL: Well, again, again, that would have to be a request from an
ally who has a real government that we care about preserving.

MATTHEWS: Yes. We do care about it. But it`s weird.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why isn`t he fighting these people?

RENDELL: Well, that`s a question he`d have to answer if he made that
request.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RENDELL: But remember what the president said about Maliki. And he
was absolutely right. There is no government there that`s doing anything.
And until there is, we shouldn`t get in. I think the American people feel
that way.

And I think the president feels that way. The president is doing the
right thing. He`s getting a little abuse from both sides, but he`s
standing for what`s right. He`s not going to get us involved in a war. We
will use airpower only if we believe there is something worth fighting for
that wants us to fight on their side.

And you`re right. We shouldn`t get involved in a purely Shiite-Sunni
conflict. But I don`t think -- I think this is a little bit more than
that. I think that`s at the root of it, but it`s a little bit more than
that.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Thank you very much, Governor Rendell, former governor of
Pennsylvania, and Bobby Ghosh.

Thank you, Bobby. I always learn from you.

And up next, Jon Stewart takes delight in watching Dick Cheney --
that`s how you pronounce it -- squirm. And this is HARDBALL, the place for
politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CONAN")

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": President Obama said he wants his
daughters to work minimum wage jobs because it builds character.

(APPLAUSE)

O`BRIEN: Yes, I thought that was good. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O`BRIEN: Yes. The president then announced he will be raising the
minimum wage to $50 an hour.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Time now for the "Sideshow."

First up, Jon Stewart weighed in on the ongoing military situation in
Iraq and the absurdity of asking Dick Cheney his opinion on the matter.
But it was Megyn Kelly`s interview on FOX News that Stewart enjoyed the
most.

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

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: What do you say to those who say you were so
wrong about so much at the expense of so many?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": No. I guess --
wait.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

STEWART: That`s pretty good. I guess now Dick Cheney knows what it
feels like when someone you thought was a friend shoots you in the face.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He was talking about that hunting accident.

Next, Governor Chris Christie took the field at Yankee Stadium last
night for the Bombers Boomer Broadway Softball Classic charity game. The
event raised money for wounded soldiers and cystic fibrosis. The New
Jersey Republican governor dove for ground balls while playing third base,
the hot corner, and even managed to make a crucial catch to help his team
win the game.

"The New York Post" described his performance, saying the New Jersey
governor shut down the other team while manning the hot corner like a
traffic barrier on the George Washington Bridge.

Ooh, maybe not the most flattering comparison for Christie, who is in
trouble on that one.

And, finally, he was a doctor, a congressman, a presidential
candidate, and now Ron Paul -- that`s Ron Paul, the dad -- can add actor to
his resume. The Texas Republican will make his acting debut in the third
installment of the "Atlas Shrugged" film trilogy titled "Atlas Shrugged:
Who Is John Galt?"

Well, the movies, of course, are based on Ayn Rand`s novel. Producers
told "The Hollywood Reporter" that the movie will also feature appearances
by Glenn Beck -- there`s a reason not to see it -- Sean Hannity and Grover
Norquist.

But the Republicans aren`t the only ones getting into the
entertainment business. "Clinton: The Musical" -- got to see that one --
is coming to New York as part of the city`s Musical Theatre Festival. The
show`s description says it -- quote -- "follows two Bill Clintons and
Hillary on their quest to save their presidency and prove that politics is
show business for ugly people." Hmm.

The show will be run from July 18 through the 25th. That`s going to
be great.

Anyway, up next, that Republican primary runoff down in Mississippi
tonight is getting wild. The Cochran campaign -- he`s the incumbent for
five terms -- is reaching out to African-American voters to vote
Republican. And now the Tea Party has dug up an old Jim Crow-era law,
using it to challenge black voters from actually voting Republican in the
primary.

That`s ahead. And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Pentagon says 130 U.S. troops are now in Baghdad and that number
will increase in the next few days. President Obama said up to 300
advisers would be sent to provide support to Iraqi security forces.

A tornado in Plainfield, Indiana, damaged homes, uprooted trees and
lost thousands without power.

And sources tell NBC News the pilot of missing Malaysian Airlines
Flight 370 used his home simulator to practice flying to remote parts of
the Indian Ocean. The head of the airline says it may take decades to find
that plane -- back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, polls close at the top of the this hour, at 8:00 Eastern, in
Mississippi`s Republican Senate runoff tonight, yet another high-stakes
face-off between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, after five terms, and his
young challenger, Chris McDaniel. It`s the Tea Party`s next shot at
victory following the big victory over Eric Cantor, that 10-point loss up
in Virginia.

And now McDaniel is counting on the same kind of grassroots energy to
bring him over the finish line tonight.

Well, Senator Cochran `s supporters are hoping to counter that by Tea
Party gung-ho-ness by expanding the electorate on the other side of the
political spectrum, even encouraging Democrats, a lot of them African-
Americans, to vote.

From the -- well, here comes the case here, by the way. Cochran has
made appeals with this one -- quote -- "We are asking Democrats to cross
over and vote in the Republican primary to ensure our community`s interest
is heard."

McDaniel backers have cried foul, while Cochran supporters say it`s
fair game -- it`s a fair game effort to broaden the county`s base. Among
those they hope to bring into the fold, African-American voters.

And recently -- that was their efforts to the community -- an
independent anti-McDaniel group has been using automated robo-calls to
target that community -- that`s the African-American community -- with
messages like this:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The time has come to make a stand and say no to
the Tea Party, no to their obstruction, no to their disrespectful treatment
of the first African-American president.

If we do nothing, Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel wins and causes
even more problems for President Obama. Please commit to voting against
Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel next Tuesday.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Tea Party activists are out there countering with a
so-called voter integrity project, sending poll watchers to precinct
locations to monitor the process and potentially challenge individual
voters.

They are citing a Jim Crow-era law from 1942 that states -- quote --
"No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless
he intends to vote or to support the nominations made in the primary in
which he participates."

In other words, if you are going to vote Republican in the primary,
you better plan to vote Republican in the general. Anyway, the McDaniel
supporters are saying that any Democrat who votes for Cochran in the
primary must, by law, intend to vote for the Republican in November, any
Republican.

But the Tea Party effort has got Mississippi`s attorney general on
edge. He fears racial profiling, he says, and intimidation tactics might
be used to suppress the black vote.

Joining us now is Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, one of the Tea Party
groups with poll watchers in Mississippi, and Kasie Hunt, who is a
reporting with NBC News, who is with us from McDaniel headquarters in
Jackson, Mississippi.

Quickly, Kasie, the situation as we understand it up here, where it`s
just as hot, I think, as down there today, maybe not, is that you have got
people out there working...

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... for Cochran trying to get black voters to switch over
and vote Republican, and you have people of the Tea Party crowd backing
McDaniel saying you better not because there is an old 1942 law which is
still on the books which says you shouldn`t be voting on a primary if you
don`t intend to vote for the winner of that primary. Who is winning that
fight?

HUNT: You know, actually, they are trying to flip that argument onto
the McDaniel campaign.

The Cochran campaign is suggesting that because McDaniel said
yesterday that he`s not sure whether he is going to support Cochran, if
Cochran wins the nomination, McDaniel himself might be ineligible. So,
they are having a little bit of back and forth about that.

But, regardless, it`s pretty clear that the Cochran campaign`s mission
over the last three weeks has been to expand the electorate. And there are
early signs that it might be working. As have reports trickled in over the
course of the day about turnout, there are some signs that African-American
turnout might be up.

And that could suggest that Senator Cochran might be in a better
position than many people expected. They have poured a million-plus
dollars into the ground game here over the course of the last three weeks.
It`s a shift from the TV strategy that they were employing throughout the
rest of this primary.

So at this stage, people on the ground at Cochran headquarters are
cautiously optimistic. And that`s a much different tone from where they
were when I was here three weeks ago.

MATTHEWS: So, what do you think of Cochran`s last-ditch effort to
bring in black voters who are Democrats, 99 percent of them, 98 percent of
them, to vote in a primary? Is that fair? Is that kosher, if you will?

ADAM BRANDON, FREEDOMWORKS: Well, I think -- I mean, he hasn`t talked
to the community in 41 years. So, talking to them in the last 24 hours,
I`m not really sure it`s going to work that well for him.

MATTHEWS: But do you think it`s legitimate?

BRANDON: I mean, if you`re -- if you`re in a Republican primary and
you need Democrats to get you over the finish line, you`re in trouble.

MATTHEWS: Is it legitimate? Is it legal?

BRANDON: Sure, it`s legal. Our issue, the one that FreedomWorks,
that we looked into, if you voted in the Democratic primary, you are not
allowed to come back and vote in the Republican primary. You have already
voted...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do you enforce a law like that?

BRANDON: Well, for the most part, what our election observers are
doing, they`re just watching.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, but how do you enforce a law like that?

BRANDON: Well, first of all...

MATTHEWS: How do you know what a person`s intent is?

Look, I don`t mind the spirit of the law, which is I don`t think I
like much strategic voting, is what it`s called, voting in the other
primary to screw them up. How do you stop people from doing what they are
allowed to do?

BRANDON: Well, that`s the lawyers. That`s why we have lawyers.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re going to tell me. You guys think it`s wrong
that -- you think that law should be enforced. I shouldn`t vote in the
primary unless you plan to vote for the party nominee. But how do you
enforce that?

BRANDON: Well, that`s why you have lawyers on the ground.

MATTHEWS: Don`t say -- you`re a Tea Party guy. Tea Party guys don`t
point to experts. They know, gut sense. If some African-American person
thinks they are betting off with Cochran than they are with McDaniel, how
do you stop them from voting?

BRANDON: But also, there`s an assumption --

MATTHEWS: You are not answering the question.

BRANDON: If there is an assumption there are only Democrats that are
black. There are also white Democrats.

MATTHEWS: But you`re answering my question.

BRANDON: Sure. What we`re waiting for --

MATTHEWS: How do you stop a person from voting in the primary against
your candidate and then going ahead and voting for Childers in the general?

BRANDON: If it`s legitimate, go ahead and cast it. The reason we
have folks down there --

MATTHEWS: So, why are you having people around challenging voters
then?

BRANDON: Well, we`re not. Have you heard anything about that
yesterday?

MATTHEWS: I heard FreedomWorks is involved with people down there.

BRANDON: We`re involved. We`re waiting. We`re ready if there is a
problem.

MATTHEWS: OK. Kasie, back to objective reporting from you and you
are objective. Let me ask you this -- does it still look and smell --
that`s a legitimate reporter`s question -- does it smell like McDaniel? Or
not?

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS: At this point, I have to say the tone has
shifted very dramatically I would say towards the Cochran campaign. I
think everybody on both sides acknowledges that this race is very, very
close. But it`s definitely not -- neither side at this point is postured
in a way that they seem to be sure of a victory. And that`s a remarkable
switch from when we were here three weeks ago and the McDaniel campaign was
very clearly feeling like they were going to have a fairly straightforward
time of pulling this off.

And I think that the Cochran campaign was privately saying three weeks
ago that they thought they were going to lose, that the run-off was in some
ways the best case scenario that they could have hoped for and the posture
is decidedly different tonight.

Now, we`ll obviously see what -- you can`t make any actual predictions
until the voters have their say. But at this point, the ground has shifted
some.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of McCain coming down there? I always
wonder what endorsements mean. I mean, if you live in Mississippi and you
have an attitude about politics and you have been following it all your
life, and you`re 50 years old, say, what do you care John McCain coming to
the state?

BRANDON: At this point, especially over the last month, I`m not sure
anyone is going to make their mind. I think it`s all about just turnout,
turnout. All of our models are getting the people we have identified as
pro-McDaniel supporters to the polls.

MATTHEWS: Why is Haley Barbour is so big for Cochran?

BRANDON: I think it gets back to this whole reason we`re in this
fight. This is a fight against the K Street hold on the Republican Party.
I mean, Mississippi is not a monarchy. It`s not a family state. This is
about connecting people back to the --

MATTHEWS: Kasie, why is my friend, I do like him, Haley Barbour, why
is so tough for Cochran who is 76? He ought to hang it up at some point.
Why is Haley pushing so forward hard for him?

HUNT: I mean, I think there`s a lot of loyalty to Senator Cochran
here in the state and there`s also some basis in the argument that Senator
Cochran has delivered a lot for the state over the course of his tenure. I
mean, that`s the argument he`s making as he tries to broaden his electorate
and reach out to some of these Democrats or African-American voters and
saying, hey, I delivered for Mississippi.

State Senator Chris McDaniel has said that he might not have voted for
hurricane Katrina. He would cut funding for education. He might cut
funding for defense. That explains why Senator McCain was down here.

But I think one of the most fundamental things at this point, it`s
very simple, is that a lot of people didn`t think Senator Cochran could
lose this race the last time around. And if you talk to Republicans who
are on the establishment side, that`s what they`re saying -- people sort of
woke up, realized that Senator Cochran might be in danger. And if he does
win tonight, that`s part of the reason he`d be able to pull it out.

BRANDON: I think we have been successful and pork doesn`t work
anymore.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BRANDON: It`s about the $17 are trillion in debt. It`s about what
we`re paying for the future. So --

MATTHEWS: Do you know what else is dying? The idea that a senator,
in the old days, of one party South, Democrats, somebody would die in
office.

BRANDON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Somebody else would be appointed, they would sit there
until they died. That`s how, status, all these guys --

(CROSSTALK)

BRANDON: We`re going to have to pull these guys out.

MATTHEWS: I know. They always say how tough a job it is. They love
it.

Polls in Mississippi will be close I said tonight at 8:00, not far
from now. At the top of this hour.

Thank you, Kasie Hunt. It`s always great.

And, Adam Brandon, thank you for joining us.

HUNT: Thanks, Chris.

BRANDON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Up next, my colleague Chris Hayes is going to join us to
talk about the simple math Democrats hope can turn Georgia from a red state
to a blue state. They are talking about registering African-American
voters again, getting them in the game here.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: It`s not just voters in Mississippi going to the polls
tonight. It`s primary day in five other states. And one race that`s
drawing national interest is the primary battle in New York`s 13th
district, which includes Harlem, where 22-term, that`s 44 years, U.S.
Congressman Charlie Rangel is facing a very, very serious primary challenge
today.

In Oklahoma, there is a tight race to see who will be the Republican
nominee for Senate, and that`s where the Senate seat of the retiring
Senator Tom Coburn.

And Colorado Republicans are picking a nominee to run against
incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper out there.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Can Democrats turn deep red Georgia blue? When this year`s midterms,
Democrats are fighting for their lives to even retain control of the U.S.
Senate, there are currently two seats where Democrats have a real shot at
picking off Republican seats. One`s in Kentucky, although that`s difficult
because of coal. And a better one, definitely the one down in Georgia with
Michelle Nunn as the nominee.

And like many states Georgia is at a tipping point in demographics,
thanks to growth in minority populations like African-Americans and
Hispanics, of course. As our colleague Chris Hayes reports as part of an
in depth series on "ALL IN", organizers down in Georgia are looking at an
ambitious plan to register turn out of hundreds of thousands of minority
voters this time, which if they are successful could mean a tectonic shift
down there where Republicans typically dominate and black voters have been
historically marginalized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN JEALOUS, FORMER NAACP PRESIDENT: To run billion dollar
presidentials and not take back a state like Georgia is almost criminal. I
mean, it`s just -- think about it, it`s a rounding error in a billion
dollar presidential. We can`t do that anymore.

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "ALL IN" (voice-over): In 2008, John McCain won
the state by 204,000 votes. In 2010, Republican Governor Nathan Deal won
by 258,000. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the state by 304,000 votes.

Organizers say there are roughly 830,000 unregistered voters of color
in the state. If they can register 90 percent of them and 70 percent of
those people vote, that`s over 520,000 new voters, and if 80 percent of
those voters go for Democrats which is not an unlikely rate based on recent
election results, Democrats could wind up netting just over 310,000 new
votes, enough to beat Nathan deal in 2010, enough to give Barack Obama wins
in both 2008 and 2012. According to that math, Georgia turns blue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK. Chris Hayes, of course, is my colleague. He follows
our show every night on "ALL IN."

You know, Chris, it`s a noble effort but it`s mathematical. Is it
real? I mean, why aren`t these people registered now? Is it because
they`re not confident they`ll have a candidate they care about? Are they
not confident it will matter to them in their lives if they vote Democrat?

HAYES: You know, it`s a great question, right, because for years,
I`ve listened to lefty and progressive Democrats talking about all the
people who were unregistered and we`ve got to register them. And the only
time in my lifetime, in my career, when I`ve actually seen that bear out is
the Obama campaign.

I mean, the Obama campaign using some very cutting edge research
coming from political scientists who have been studying how you get people
registered actually developed a very sophisticated set of tools to create
new voters, to go out, ID people who aren`t registered, register them, stay
in contact with them, get them to the polls.

In the state like North Carolina particularly in 2008, in Virginia in
2008 and 2012, in Nevada this last time around in 2012 -- I mean, Nevada,
they added tens of thousands of Democratic voters to the rolls.

So, before the Obama campaign, I would have said, yes, this is kind of
abstract, it`s theoretical. After the Obama campaign, we have seen, thanks
to what they did and what a bunch of researchers have shown in their
research, it is genuinely possible with enough resources, enough sustained
targeted effort to find these people, register them and turn them out.

MATTHEWS: Why didn`t they vote for the first African-American
president? They`re African-Americans. If that was not enough to stimulate
to show up, register and show up in November, what would? Are they going
to get excited about Michelle Nunn if they weren`t excited about -- I`m
being sarcastic because I am skeptical --

HAYES: No, no.

MATTHEWS: -- because I think you`ve got to engage people on the
issues, you got to make them commit enough African-American candidates to
excite them, even if they lose.

HAYES: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: Get people engaged because they can see something that`s
better than they`ve got. And that`s how you got to people -- you know who
is the biggest voter registrar in the history of my city of Philadelphia?
Frank Rizzo.

HAYES: Right.

MATTHEWS: The blacks were over-registered, more than white people.
You know why? Because they couldn`t stand Frank Rizzo. They had a reason
to vote against this guy.

You got to give people real intelligent energy to get them to vote.
You can`t just walk around with a clipboard. I don`t think.

HAYES: That`s -- no, you`re absolutely right about that. It takes
real organizing. I mean, you can`t just show up, you can`t stand outside
Martha station with a clipboard and randomly grab people and ask them,
what`s going on? Right?

There has to be an infrastructure. The infrastructure takes
resources. The resources have to be organizers and the organizers have to
have conversations with people that are about why they would want to
register to vote.

In terms of your first question, I should just say this -- one of the
things that`s happening in the south, there`s a great demographic
transformation happening in the south I think that`s under-recognized at a
national level, which is the kind of reverse northern migration. We are
seeing historic numbers of African-Americans moving from the North back
down from the South and seeing a lot of turnover in voters.

I mean, one of the things that happens with voter registration is
people move around a lot. Particularly people at the bottom of the income
scale move around a lot, their registrations lapse. They`re not registered
at their new address.

So, in order to get those people off the sidelines, there has to be
this effort of constant vigilance, because if someone just moved for a
different job or they got foreclosed on their home or kicked out, or had to
move out, move in with a cousin, right, they`re not registered where they
were before. And so, it`s not a fixed group of people, right?

Any effort that looks like this has to be constant year in, year out,
have some constant infrastructure to make sure it works or you`re right,
it`s just -- it`s just air.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, we`re going to watch you tonight. Chris Hayes
with "ALL IN" -- the very topic we talked about as well, so often, which is
getting people to get a bigger piece of the action in this country
politically.

Chris Hayes, good luck tonight.

HAYES: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You can catch the full report as I said coming up next on
"ALL IN" right here on MSNBC.

And we`ll be right back for the final word from me tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with my concern about this tendency
to shoot first, and ask questions later. This Bush-bred foreign policy
that has us jumping into wars.

I had a suspicion, a real one, that our going into the Gulf War under
the first President Bush would lead to further incursions. Why? Because
history teaches that once we get engaged in a war situation, it keeps
pulling us back in.

Going to war is like doing business with the mob. You don`t get into
it and simply walk away. Oh, no. All the pressure then builds on
commitments you supposedly made. If you fight in one instance, you`re
called to fight again in another.

So, we fought Saddam Hussein because he invaded Kuwait, then we fought
Saddam because he didn`t do what we told him to do as part of our ending
the first war with him. And now, the rumblings of war based on the fact
that since we were in Iraq, we owe Iraq our continued firepower in
perpetuity.

So it`s been two Bushes, two wars and now this vague sense that we are
one precondition away from firing away, killing more Arabs on international
television, shooting Sunnis from the sky for the sin of trying to take back
their country from those characters in Baghdad we gave it to.

How about we make a fresh start? How about we look at Iraq as if we
never fought two wars there and try to think whether we would even think of
getting involved in a civil war there? A sectarian war between Sunni and
Shia that`s been afoot for over a millennium. Would we?

And if not, is the prime reason for our going back into the fighting
there that we did it twice before to our regret? But isn`t doing the same
thing and expecting a different result the sign of insanity?

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

More on TODAY.com

  1. Another American doctor infected with Ebola

    Another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola, an aid group said Tuesday.

    9/2/2014 5:15:35 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:15:35
  1. Report: ISIS kills second American journalist

    SITE Intel Group, a jihadist monitoring organization, announced on Tuesday that the Islamic militant group ISIS has killed American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff.

    9/2/2014 5:34:24 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:34:24
  1. Dan Hallman / Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

    Joan Rivers remains on life support, her daughter Melissa Rivers says

    9/2/2014 5:59:58 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:59:58