Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 01/13/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I want to be the president. Is Mitt Romney –
yes, that Mitt Romney – ready for his close-up?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Philadelphia.
Can you believe it, Mitt Romney, the man caught telling the 1 percent how
much he thought the 47 percent were just takers, the guy who said
corporations are just regular folks, the guy who said when he ran for
president the second time that you`ve got to get the illegals – those were
his words – off your lawn if you`re heading for the White House – can he
run for president a third time, this fellow, selling his deep commitment –
catch this – to the fight against poverty?
That`s right, Papa`s got a brand-new bag. The guy who`s got an elevator
for his cars, the guy who throws illegals off his lawn and Rover onto the
roof, has caught on to the compassion gig. He`s still for the Iraq war,
still for marriage between one man and one woman – got to keep those
numbers straight – for self-deportation, and for $10,000 minimums when it
comes to on-air betting. Remember that one?
Now he`s betting he can sell the country on his personal involvement in the
war on poverty. Will Mitt`s bit pass the laugh test? Will doing the
Elizabeth Warren number make Mitt`s third try the trick? And how does the
“Mitt versus Jeb” duet affect the rest of the field? Can they carve up the
establishment vote, leaving a clear lane for Rand Paul or even Scott Walker
to win the nomination on the right?
Well, joining me right now is former RNC chair Michael Steele and former
DNC chair Ed Rendell. Both are MSNBC political analysts. I want to start
with Governor Rendell. And I was just thinking, how can Mitt Romney do
this complete change of who he is, from the guy we all knew was a swell to
now this guy`s sort of a Bobby Kennedy guy, a guy who cares about poverty
in the country? I don`t get it. All of a sudden – it seems like a fast
switch for me. Your thoughts.
ED RENDELL (D-PA), FMR. GOV., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s a difficult
switch, but I think Jeb Bush sort of set the tone for this by – Jeb Bush
is – if you read what he`s been talking about, he`s taking a playbook – a
page out of the playbook of George W. Bush, the “compassionate
And actually, Chris, you know, Rick Santorum started this when about two
months ago, he said Republicans have to care more about people who are
disadvantaged and people who are poor. So I think they`re getting it –
and I`d be cynical enough to suggest – and I think Michael will disagree
with me – it`s not that they really care about people who are poor, it`s
that they realize that that`s the way to get moderate and independent
voters to think you`re not a reactionary. So I think this is more
Can it work? I`m not sure. It`s a tough sell. I think Jeb Bush probably
has a better chance to make that work than Governor Romney does. But
you`ve got Bush, Romney, Christie carving up the establishment vote, but
you`ve got a number of conservatives on the other side, as well.
MATTHEWS: It looks to me, Michael, like he`s put a patch on his tire. I
mean, he blew it – he blew the tire in the last election by looking too
elitist, so he says, OK, I`ll fix that, I`m for little people.
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, yes,
the governor`s right, I do disagree that this is –
MATTHEWS: Do you believe it?
STEELE: Well, I – no, I don`t – I don`t believe from a cynical
standpoint. Look, I believe that what Mitt Romney has decided to do in
taking on this third opportunity is to be himself, is to try to do this
less the way the consultants and the people who get out and promote
presidential candidates want him to do it, and really wants to come out of
the box a little bit differently.
I think the governor is right to the extent that Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, for
example – both of them have started this conversation up to now about
poverty, about criminal justice, and they`re both right. I mean, for those
of us Republicans who`ve been talking about poverty and trying to push this
issue, going back to the Jack Kemp days, it is refreshing to see potential
presidential candidates bring this to the fore early on in the
conversation, not an afterthought later on. So we`ll see how it plays out,
Chris. I think it`s a little bit to early to judge, cynically or
otherwise, exactly where Mitt –
MATTHEWS: Well –
STEELE: – wants to go with this. But –
MATTHEWS: I`m just skeptical.
STEELE: – I think it`s going to be interesting to watch.
MATTHEWS: I`m wondering what is happening in Mitt Romney`s life to change
him from a hard-nosed conservative on market issues – let the market
prevail. We have a 47 percent of the country just hanging on, living off
welfare or food stamps. And all of a sudden, because he`s going to make
another try of it, going through this philosophical shift.
That`s what I`m very skeptical about, Michael –
STEELE: Well –
MATTHEWS: – very skeptical. What has changed in his life?
STEELE: I understand that –
MATTHEWS: Has he had some sort of epiphany?
STEELE: Maybe. I don`t know if –
MATTHEWS: Has he gone through some human experience with poor folk? I
don`t think there`s any evidence of that. It`s just politics.
STEELE: I don`t know if it was a human experience with poor folks, but
look, Romney comes out of a tradition of service. As a Mormon, as a man of
faith, he spent a lot of time – remember, you know, he`s been out in the
world. He`s worked in some tough places as part of his mission growing up.
And yes, he now wants to brings that experience, I think, to the
conversation, something he hadn`t done twice before. And I think this is
him trying to be authentically him. We`ll see how it works.
But I think this is an interesting first step and an important one for a
MATTHEWS: Well, I always pay attention to what politicians say when they
don`t know we`re listening. Some of Romney`s self-destructive gaffes of
2012 came when he betrayed just how much out of touch he is about his
wealth, and of course, that 47 percent comment caught on tape.
Let`s review how Romney talked the last time he ran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRES. CANDIDATE: We went to the company,
and we said, Look, you can`t have any illegals working on our property.
That`s – I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake, I can`t have illegals.
Rick, I`ll tell you what – 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet?
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no
matter what, all right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are
dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Governor Rendell, I mean, know a lot of people employ people who
may not have documentation to work in this country for small jobs. I mean,
it happens all the time, and nobody considers it really criminal by
anybody`s standards. But here`s a guy openly saying that only if you run
for president should you stop doing it.
I mean, that`s what I`m suggesting he`s up to here, a flip, a cross-dress.
I go, all of a sudden, from a guy who would normally hire people illegally,
but since I`m running for president, I can`t do that anymore. And
normally, I`d be a conservative, but since I`m running for president this
third time, I`ve got to be for poor people.
It just sounds very convenient politically, this change of heart.
RENDELL: It is, Chris. And again, I think he`s going to bump up against
Jeb Bush and Governor Christie, and it`s going to be very difficult. And
it`s not a total epiphany because he`s still against Common Core, although
he was for it when he was governor of Massachusetts.
RENDELL: He`s against Common Core because Jeb Bush is – they`re trying to
pin Common Core on Jeb Bush, one of best things that Jeb Bush ever did.
STEELE: Hey, Chris, can I just –
MATTHEWS: Well, isn`t that – that is a fascinating distinction because it
seems like Jeb Bush has principles. I mean, he is – he is against
Affirmative Action. He is for charter schools. He takes conservative
positions, but he says believes in them. He also believes in immigration
reform. He respects people in same-sex marriages.
I mean, it does seem like he has beliefs, where Romney is so versatile
here, Governor. Governor – let me go back to Michael on this – so
versatile in his thinking that he can put on anything he has to put on.
Whatever apparel is necessary to the occasion, he`s ready to switch.
STEELE: Well, and I think, Chris, that is going to be the rub here because
you`ve got two presidential candidates – campaigns that predate this.
You`ve got this now movement, if you will, in a new direction. And so he`s
going to be buffeted by two competing interests. One is having to go back
and explain. You`ve run the catalogue, and there`s much more, I know, of
what Romney has said and the positions he`s taken. He`s going to have to
go back and reconcile those in the context of this new campaign.
And then he`s going to have to look to his right. And he said he`s going
to run to the right of Jeb Bush, and presumably Rand Paul. That`s going to
be interesting in and of itself in the context of what those gentlemen will
be talking about.
So this is – this is a campaign, while it is in its infancy, it looks
interesting, will be more problematic, I think, longer term if they don`t
come out of the gate the right way, explaining this new tone, this new
approach that the governor`s taking.
MATTHEWS: OK. Of these two gentlemen you know well, Romney or Jeb Bush,
which one`s the conviction politician and which one is the opportunist?
STEELE: I`m not stepping on that land mine, my friend.
STEELE: I think they`re both conviction politics – politicians –
MATTHEWS: Oh! Oh, come on!
STEELE: No – no, no, no, no, no –
MATTHEWS: Governor Rendell, it seems to – well, what do you think?
STEELE: I`m not going to –
MATTHEWS: Which of these two guys – you know them –
MATTHEWS: – is conviction politician and which is a, Well, it depends
what the dance call is tonight, I`ll do what I have to?
RENDELL: Well, there`s no question. And you described it accurately,
Chris. Jeb Bush, whether you agree with him or not on all his positions,
sticks to his positions. He says what he believes. And he believes things
that aren`t put into easy boxes.
Common Core is an idea that was, you know, visionary, and may be a little
progressive, but it was an idea that was important. I mean, is there
anybody who thinks that kids should graduate from high school without
having a decent education? That`s all Common Core meant to achieve, and
make sure that that didn`t happen.
So Jeb has principles. He`s strongly principled. You know, he was easy to
work with when we were both governors. So was Mitt Romney in that regard.
But Jeb Bush is clearly a principled candidate.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, we got the news right now, gentlemen, that Mitt Romney
will attend this week`s upcoming Republican National Committee meeting in
San Diego. That`s according to three sources with knowledge who talked to
NBC News today. He`ll make his first public comments since the news first
surfaced this Friday that he is considering running for president a third
time. He`s scheduled, by the way, to deliver marks Friday evening, a
source at the Republican National Committee has confirmed, which means it
will be one of the last events of the evening.
I want to go back to Governor Rendell – no, let me go to Michael on this
because it`s your party. It looks to me like these two establishment
figures, Romney, and of course, Jeb Bush sort of round out the
establishment. But is there anybody else who fits into that category who
can actually beat both of them and win the nomination, or is this just
going to be those two guys against the right wing?
STEELE: Well, you know, that`s a very good question. I know that there`s
conversation about a Chris Christie, potentially. I think that will be
more of a reality if and when he puts together those pieces to run a
presidential campaign. But right now, Chris, I think in terms of the
establishment – and when we say “establishment” at this point, we`re not
talking politically, we`re talking money interests within the party. Those
two men definitely cover those two areas for the establishment.
The rest of the field is going to be playing a little bit of catch-up.
Some of them will worry a little bit less about money than others. But the
fact of the matter is, those two, Romney and Bush, really cover all the
bases there at this point. If Christie gets in, that changes the dynamic a
little bit. The question is by how much remains to be seen.
And then, Chris, the other piece are governors. When you get a Mike Pence
or a John Kasich or someone like that, a Scott Walker, for example, that
then becomes another equation that has to get factored in for the
establishment on the money side.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think you`re right. I think it`s going to be – I think
it`s going to be Governor Jeb Bush, if he wins the nomination, pairing up
probably with one of those Midwestern governors. Anyway, thank you,
Michael Steele. Thank you, Governor Rendell.
Coming up, Chris Christie makes his state of the state address, but what`s
the state of the New Jersey governor himself? The federal prosecutor in
Newark could be lining up an octet – that`s eight – indictments that
could derail Christie`s presidential hopes.
Plus, a dramatic new video shortly after the Paris terror attack, while
here at home, the right-wing criticism of President Obama`s Paris no-show
hits a new low. I can`t believe it, but a Republican congressman has
compared him to Hitler.
And here`s a way to get back at Steve Scalise, the Republican leader who
spoke to that neo-Nazi group 12 years ago. Get him to sponsor voting
rights legislation. That`s what some Democrats, including members of the
Black Caucus, are trying to get him to do. My question – are they
taunting him or really pushing him?
Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with the clown car heading to Paris this
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, look which U.S. senator`s about to have oversight over
NASA. It`s Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican`s in line to chair the Senate
subcommittee on space, science and competitiveness, but Cruz notoriously
shut down the government for 16 days in 2013, barring nearly all of NASA`s
employees from actually coming to work. He`s also one of the Senate`s
loudest deniers of climate change, an area of science that NASA often
studies. What a great assignment for Ted Cruz.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the Chris Christie presidential
convoy and the U.S. attorney in Newark may be on a collision course.
Christie`s aggressively gearing up for his one big shot at running for
president. Today, he delivered his state of the state address from the
capitol in Trenton. As Reuters reports, this address is, quote,
“potentially the biggest speech he`ll make before announcing his
presidential intentions, a decision that could come by the end of this
month.” That means in January.
In that address, Christie made sure to take a shot at the president. He
also told his opponents that they can count on him being there to kick them
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: America`s leadership in the world is
called into question because of a pattern of indecision and inconsistency.
And during this time of uncertainty, it seems our leaders in Washington
would rather stoke (ph) the vision for their own political gain.
When we stand here in one year – and by the way, I`ll be standing here in
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
CHRISTIE: For some reason, I see less applause on this side of the room!
I don`t understand!
CHRISTIE: I`ll give it one more try. I`ll be here in one year!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, it`s being reported that federal prosecutors are
readying a batch of criminal charges for up to eight of the governor`s
staffers. Those charges could also come by the end of this month. And
that`s according to NBC New York`s Brian Thompson.
Joining me right now is Brian Wice, a criminal defense attorney who
represented former House majority leader Tom Delay, and Paul Butler, a
former federal prosecutor, now a professor at Georgetown University.
Gentlemen, what do you make of this Christie? He`s sort of like one of
those cartoon characters that walks out over the cliff, keeps walking and
doesn`t look down, and then when he looks down, he falls. He`s not looking
down yet, Brian.
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, all it`s missing is the
anvil from “Road Runner” cartoon, Chris. I think you`re absolutely right.
WICE: You know, he`s a nightclub act. I`m not quite sure he`s ready for
the big ballroom. He`s certainly a lounge act. But for somebody who faces
the potential of having some of besties rounded up by the U.S. Marshals in
the not too distant future, he seems to be putting his best foot forward.
We`ll see how long that remains when the Marshals come knocking at a bunch
of people`s door sometime in the next couple of weeks at 6:15, 6:30 AM.
MATTHEWS: Yes, last month, “The New York Times” – this is last month –
reported, quote, “Federal prosecutors investigating the lane closings at
the George Washington Bridge last year are considering charges based on a
rarely used provision of a fraud statute under which they could argue that
associates of Governor Christie of New Jersey used the bridge for a purpose
other than its intended one. The statute is commonly used in cases of
fraud or embezzlement.”
Paul Butler, let me ask you about that. I mean, people get people for all
kinds of reasons under all kinds of law. It looks to me like they`re going
to be somewhat enterprising here to go after this governor, if this is the
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, Chris. I think the
prosecutors ask themselves a more fundamental question. Is this a man who
abuses public trust? Is this a man who we can have confidence in office
in, that he`s on the up-and-up?
And I think they look at the allegations. He has a reputation as being a
bully, as being a micro-manager, as being petty. And then his subordinates
do these bullying things, these petty things, and he says, I knew nothing
about it. Is that credible? I don`t think so.
So then, yes, they`ve got obstruction of justice, they`ve got conspiracy,
they`ve got abuse of federal funds. At the end of the day, if they have a
bad attitude about this guy, I don`t think it`s going to be a problem to
find a federal crime to pin on him.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that, Brian, you first, then Paul.
You know, when Governor McDonnell went down last week, he only got two
years. But that`s a lot of time for something he probably thought was
fine, you know, taking all these gifts.
But if the current standard is, you can`t be a bully, you can`t even be
like LBJ was, you can`t bully people around and say, if you don`t do it my
way, you`re off, or you are going to be punished for it – here`s a guy, it
looks like what he did was set up an operation in his office, in the
governor`s office in Trenton that went around to all the Democratic mayors
of the state – and there are a lot of them, mostly Democrats in that state
– and said, if you`re not with me, you get certain bennies out of that.
You get meetings. You get all kinds of stuff.
If you`re not with me, the bridge closes, things like that happen to you.
You don`t back me on a waterfront development in Hoboken, and all of a
sudden you don`t get any federal money.
If you set up an enterprise like that, could that be seen as criminal in
WICE: Well, yes, it`s funny, because I`m reminded of that great scene from
“Wall Street” where Gordon Gekko turns to Bud Fox and says, if you do good,
you get perks, lots and lots of perks.
Look, I`m a huge Chris Christie fan. I know that nobody believes me when I
say that. But I think this is a case of government overreaching if anybody
thinks that Chris Christie did anything other than wear that horrendous
orange sweater last week Jerry Jones` box.
Now everything, guys, is the proverbial federal case. And this official
misconduct statute that my good buddy Paul Butler just alluded to, when I
think of that, Chris, I think of a sheriff`s deputy who uses the sheriff`s
department`s Wi-Fi to surf porn. I don`t think that that is something that
ought to enter into the big picture in this case.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s an ought. You`re using an ought. What happens if
a prosecutor brings the case, brings the indictments, and gets a jury to
convict? That`s not hard to do today. Public officials are not very
popular. And you put them in a witness – you put them in the defense
stand, it`s not the hardest thing in the world to get a conviction, is it?
BUTLER: Not at all, especially with this attorney general, Eric Holder,
who has a bad attitude about public corruption.
He wants to use the considerable resources of FBI to go after the big fish.
Look, with Christie, it`s always something. If it`s not Bridgegate, it`s
Sandygate. If it not Sandygate, it`s using his E-ZPass access to disclose
private information about state employees.
If it`s not that, it`s, how is he traveling? Is he using his own money or
is he getting money from other people? So, again, none of these by
themselves may seem like the crime of the century, but stuff adds up. And,
again, the question they ask themselves, is this a man who we have
confidence or is he abusing public trust?
When we look at what they`re doing, Chris, real quickly –
MATTHEWS: Yes, I want to talk – I want to bring up something here I
haven`t talked about, the public behavior of this governor, and how that
might square in a jury box, because juries are wary. He`s been dogged by
his overly aggressive nature on the political trail out there.
And let`s talk about it. Let`s show what it looks like to see Governor
Christie in action here. Let`s watch him over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You conduct yourself like that in a
courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot. Damn, man,
I`m governor. Could you just shut up for a second? You know?
CHRISTIE: Are you stupid? On topic, on topic. Next question.
If she wants to get on a plane and come here to New Jersey and ask me if
she wants to examine me and review my medical history, I will have a
conversation with her about that. Until that time, she should shut up.
And you know what? And you know what? And you know what? Let me tell
you. Let me tell you this. You know what? I`m – sit down and shut up.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Brian Wice, how will that sell before a jury?
WICE: It won`t.
Let me tell you, all I can tell you is that juries don`t like bullies, they
don`t like people who think they`re the toughest kid in the schoolyard.
And if, God forgive, Chris Christie ever sees the inside of a courtroom, or
even gets within an area code, if any of his subordinates wind up strung
up, he`s going to have to do something to tone down that public posturing.
I`m sitting here and I`m listening in my IFP to that audio, and I`m
chuckling. This is a guy who at some level, Chris, has become a cartoon
caricature of himself.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Brian Wice. And thank you, Paul Butler.
Up next, we have got dramatic new video of the terrorists, by the way,
shortly after the terrorist terror attack, as “Charlie Hebdo” publishes its
first magazine in the face of new threats – and, by the way, the latest
from Paris next when HARDBALL returns
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, there`s dramatic new video now from last week showing the brothers
Cherif and Said Kouachi shortly after the massacre in the offices of
“Charlie Hebdo.” Let`s watch.
As you saw there, the brothers drove away, but encounter a police car. The
video shows the men getting out and shooting, before eventually driving
Meanwhile, tonight, the new issue of “Charlie Hebdo” is appearing on
newsstands across France. Three million copies have been printed. And the
publication is not backing down from controversy. The cover of the
magazine shows a cartoon of a weeping Mohammed holding an “I am Charlie”
sign, a “Je suis Charlie.”
At an emotional news conference, well, today, staffers talked about the new
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): More than anything, we tried to
put the drawings of those who are no longer here in – in the newspaper,
like Charb, like Reese (ph). Reese (ph) is here. His drawings are here.
Everyone is in this thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, also today, France buried three police officers killed in
the attack. All were awarded the Legion of Honor.
And in Israel, the four victims of the attack on that kosher supermarket
Friday were also laid to rest.
Meanwhile, the investigation is moving ahead. In Bulgaria, prosecutors
announced that a French citizen already in custom – custody on terrorism
chance had been in contact with one of the Kouachi brothers before the
I`m joined right now by NBC`s Ron Allen.
Give us the latest from Paris, Ron.
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, that video, that stunning video
is probably one of the biggest developments of the day, certainly.
Is really shows how cool and calculated those two brothers were, how over -
- how they had the overwhelming firepower to just move right past those
police officers. And then they turn the counter, and that`s where they
encounter more police officers, and shoot one, execute one, as it`s been
said, one laying in the street there.
Just an incredible scene to witness, and it explains why – it gives a good
indication of why the authorities here now have some 10,000 military troops
deployed on the streets of Paris and around France as protection, as they
have really, really have stepped up security.
And now there is a lot of anticipation about the release of this new
magazine, “Charlie Hebdo,” tomorrow. Tonight, actually, it`s hitting
newsstands. And people have already been signing up on waiting lists
essentially to reserve a copy of it, because there`s such demand here.
Remember, this is a publication that sold some 30,000 copies, and now it`s
going to try and sell some three million. And it will probably have no
trouble doing that because there`s so much interest in it. And you`re
right, they`re not backing away from controversy.
That picture, that image of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover that`s been
seen on social media and on some media outlets, not this one, has already
sparked a lot of controversy. There are Muslims around the world here who
are saying essentially, is this really necessary now? They find this
And the magazine publishers and the cartoonists knew it would be offensive.
They say it`s freedom of speech. They say it`s their right. And that`s
just how strongly they feel about this. So, these things are on a
And in addition to all the public mourning, the funerals, today, there was
an interesting session in the National Assembly, where the prime minister
here laid out some new measures that he wants to see taken into effect here
in the coming weeks and months that`s going to really fundamentally in some
ways change the way France lives, just as America changed after 9/11.
There`s going to be more surveillance. At least the government wants that,
if he doesn`t meet more resistance. There`s going to be much more
monitoring of the Internet especially because of the concerns about how the
Internet is used to recruit and to – to recruit new jihadis, and also as a
propaganda tool. But it`s going to be much more of a surveillance state.
Will that buck up against this demand here for liberty and freedom, another
of the rights that French – French people cherish so much, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Great report, Ron Allen, who is over in Paris.
I`m right now joined by Don Borelli, former assistant special agent in
charge of the FBI-NYPD joint terrorism task force. He`s also an MSNBC
Well, Don, where are we at on this thing? Because I think it`s a culture
war, as Ron pointed out. People don`t like these depictions of the Prophet
Mohammed. That`s going to go on. It seems like the people in the
journalism world who are liberals, they tend to push the tolerance level,
and so it seems like that`s going to go on. There`s going to be strife
here between East and West.
DON BORELLI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Chris.
I mean, even AQIM, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, jumped into the fray,
issued a warning against “Charlie Hebdo” and other organizations that want
to depict the Prophet Mohammed. So you have got this threat and this
growing, you know, concern of the division between, you know, the – the –
what the government is doing and the threat to these newspapers and these -
- social media, as you mentioned, is – just keeps fueling the fire.
BORELLI: You have got threats against police officers. You have got
threats against government.
Basically, it`s ISIS and al Qaeda putting out the message to citizens to
take action into your own hands, do what you can and jump into the fight.
So, it`s – and we have seen so many foreign fighters from Western Europe
that have traveled to Iraq or Syria to join ISIS, much more than we have
seen in the United States, so they seriously have a bigger problem than we
do in the U.S.
MATTHEWS: What does a police officer on the beat do that now he`s – we
have had this ethnic or racial unrest in the United States because of
Ferguson and Garner, those cases, of course, and the other kid out in
Cleveland that was killed in a schoolyard, a young kid.
And so we have got a lot of tension in the streets right now. What does a
police officer do who goes to work for his eight-hour shift in New York
City, or anywhere else, a big city, deal with the fact that there`s been
almost this fatwa issued against him in blue just because he`s in blue?
What does he do every day when he goes to work or night when he`s on the
graveyard shift? Does he look at everybody that might be from the Middle
East or might be Arab or Islamic?
How does he react to this sort of threat against him because he`s a cop?
BORELLI: Well, Chris, you can`t look at somebody just by whether you
believe that they`re Muslim or Arabic or whatever. You have to look at
basically everybody as a potential threat.
It`s such a dangerous job being a police officer. Domestic violence, you
get called to these situations and they come in harm`s way. We have just
seen so many incidents where police officers find themselves in these
dangerous situations. It gets back to training, being prepared, being
alert, and trying to have good intelligence.
The best thing, if you have information that`s available to you before you
go out on your shift, so you have at least a little bit of foreknowledge,
that`s one of the best things that can do to arm yourself as a police
officer. But, unfortunately, these men and women take to the streets
without knowing what is going to face – what dangers are going to face
them during their shift.
MATTHEWS: I agree. One more danger. One more danger.
Thank you, Don Borelli, for reporting from New York.
Up next, the pressure continues to build on the number three Republican in
the House. His name is Steve Scalise. We know him. The Black Caucus guys
are going to make this guy walk the plank and do stuff for the interests of
voting rights and things like that that he may not like to do, but may have
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. And here`s what`s
A mentally ill man who made threats against House Speaker John Boehner has
been hit with criminal charges. Late last year, police seized a gun from
the man`s home.
President Obama met with leaders of both parties earlier. The White House
says they discussed a range of issues, including national security and the
And the Vietnam War veteran convicted of killing a sheriff`s deputy in 1998
is scheduled to be executed in Georgia. This is the first U.S. execution
And now we`re going to take you back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
African-American lawmakers in Congress have a message for House Republican
Whip Steve Scalise: less talk, more action. Although Scalise has
apologized for speaking to a white supremacist group 12 years ago as a
Louisiana state lawmaker, members of the Congressional Black Caucus now
would like to see him do more.
Some caucus members have suggested Scalise deliver a major address on race
relations or push a big restoring key provisions of the Voting Rights Act
which were struck down by the Supreme Court.
Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said: “He should consider attending
the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, Alabama, of course
commemorating Bloody Sunday, or even make a point to meet with the Black
Caucus to explain his historic views.”
Anyway, the pressure is mounting for Scalise to act. Fellow Louisiana
Congressman Cedric Richmond said: “If I was Steve, I would be concerned
about my legacy if I died tomorrow. And I`m sure he doesn`t want his
legacy to be he spoke to a David Duke crowd, a group of racists, and
therefore he`s a racist.”
And one Southern GOP Republican lawmaker told “The Hill” newspaper, “I
think Steve would be prudent to put some actions to his words.”
Well, joining us, the roundtable tonight, “Washington Post” opinion writer
Jonathan Capehart, “Roll Call”`s editor in chief, Christina Bellantoni, and
Jack Kingston, who is a former Republican member of Congress from Georgia.
I want to start and one through the job, Jonathan, Christina and Jack,
Congressman Kingston, all of you get in here.
What should the member of Congress, Steve Scalise now, a leadership, member
of the Republican caucus do to respond to what`s either taunting of him,
it`s hard to read it, or through suggestions for his own welfare.
Jonathan, you first?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Fix to the voting rights act is
definitely needed. And so, if Congressman Scalise wants to show some sort
of contrition or show that he wants to put some action behind the words,
then he will do something, he`ll bring a bill to the floor, he`ll work with
the CBC and he`ll make sure that his name is on a bill as a sponsor to fix
the Voting Rights Act. I also think that the suggestion he`d go to the
bridge in Selma and be there on that bridge with Congressman Lewis is also
a good suggestion.
What`s not a good suggestion I don`t think is to ask Congressman Scalise to
give a major speech on race. I mean, that`s – he gets in trouble for a
speech he made 12 years ago to a white supremacist group and then suddenly,
he`s going to give a cogent speech on race? I mean, that`s a little too
much to ask of him.
MATTHEWS: Christina, what do you think he`ll do? If you`re advising him
on PR, you just think, let`s get this thing over with, you`re just a good
American, you want to have this thing put to bed at some point, what`s he
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: Well, he`s going to have to elbow out a
lot of presidential hopefuls because there`s a lot of people who are
already going to be here. He might have already have plans to be there, a
lot of lawmakers go, particularly with such a large anniversary.
It`s really important to point the speech that he gave was about tax
policy. It`s important to point out that he has said that David Duke was
unelectable back when Duke was looking at congressional bids.
And he also is a pragmatist. This is somebody who has got to the position
where he is by being somebody who reaches out to a lot of his different
colleagues. So, of course, he`s going probably going to sit down with the
CBC. He might not do it because they`re saying that he should, but that`s
definitely something you`re going to see him move toward.
The other point is that this is at a time when the Republican Party is
really looking to reach out to more voters, particularly ahead of the 2016
campaign. And so, every GOP candidate is going to be looking to be more
inclusive of a message. So, that`s something he can easily jump to if he
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congressman Kingston.
You know, I think the man has pride. I don`t see how, on the issue that`s
been raised here he can call for a restoration of Section 5 of the Voting
Rights Act which would put Louisiana, his own state, back into play, we
would have to get prior approval for the federal courts to move ahead with
any voting change. It puts it back in this position of being a Confederate
state under surveillance basically on civil rights, voting rights.
JAKC KINGSTON (R-GA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think you`re right,
Chris. The voting rights legislation is tricky politics. I actually
supported it as a member of the House, but when Section 5 was thrown out,
that settled some of the controversial parts for really the Republican
But I do think there are things he could do, for example, some of the
education program, some of the scholarship opportunities. One of the
things I`ve gone to Africa twice with members of the CBC in terms of AIDS
in Africa and African trade and African development opportunities. He can
be a major player in that, and it`s in America`s interests, it`s
international stuff. People would appreciate it.
And then, in my home state of Georgia, Governor Deal has done a lot with
criminal justice reforms, because so many people who are in jail right now
are coming back, and it`s something that is hurting the African-American
community that I think there`s a great opportunity for Republicans to join
forces with the CBC on this and say, look, what can we come up with,
because it`s not working for anybody?
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Jonathan, my friend on this. And you write
about this all the time. But what do we want? What does the African-
American community want?
He can`t take back what he did. He went to this meeting, apparently. He`s
going to keep apologizing for it, but what do people want? Do they want
him to say I`ve changed or I wouldn`t do that today or times have changed?
Or I feel guilty, or – I may not feel guilty, but I know I owe you, the
African-American community some kind of comment, some kind of response.
What is it that we`re looking for in terms of genuine response?
CAPEHART: Right. I think what we`re seeing here is you don`t hear
African-Americans call – when I say African-Americans, I mean particularly
members of the CBC – not calling on him to apologize again, to fall on the
sword again, but what they are asking him to do is, you know, you
apologized, you said it wasn`t the right thing for you to do and that
you`re not racist and all these other things, well, now is the time to
actually show people, show African-Americans that there`s some substance
behind what you`re saying.
So, if he does something with the Voting Rights Act, if he does what
Congressman Kingston just said about doing things with criminal justice
reform in the way that Senator Paul and Senator Booker over in the Senate
are working on, if he does concrete things that African-Americans can look
back to and say, you know, that Steve Scalise, he did a stupid thing back
then by speaking to that white supremacist group but – and he got blasted
for it, but look what he`s done to try to make amends. It`s not like – he
wouldn`t be the first person to do it.
MATTHEWS: I agree. I think most religions believe in restitution as part
of any kind of determination to change. Restitution is not a bad thing to
put on the table.
Anyway, our roundtable is coming back with that ridiculous comment
comparing President Obama`s no-show in Paris to Adolf Hitler. Why do
people talk like this?
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the race for Barbara Boxer`s Senate seat in California is
getting hot. Today, attorney general of California, Kamala Harris,
announced she is running. Harris is a Democrat, is the first candidate to
declare since Boxer announced last week she`s not running for a fifth term.
Other contenders could including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, or billionaire
environmentalist and hedge fund manager, Tom Steyer.
This is a big one, Gavin Newsom, the state`s lieutenant governor, declined
to run for the Senate. He`ll likely focus on the governor`s race in 2018.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama has been criticized from both sides of the
aisle for not attending Sunday`s unity march against terrorism in Paris.
But in a tweet last night, Republican Congressman Randy Weber of Texas
pushed the envelope, I would say, far too far, comparing the president to
Adolf Hitler, whose name he also happened to misspell.
Quote, “Even Adolph Hitler, with the “ph”, thought it more important than
Obama to get to Paris, for all the wrong reasons. Obama couldn`t do it for
the right reasons.”
Well, for the record, Adolf in this case should be spelled with an “f” not
a “ph.” It`s not that that`s important.
But then early this afternoon, Congressman Weber apologized for his tweet
in this statement, quote, “I need to first apologize to all those offended
by my tweet. It was not my intention to trivialize the Holocaust nor to
compare the president to Adolf Hitler. The mention of Hitler was meant to
represent the face of evil that exists in the world today. I now realize
that the use of Hitler invokes pain and emotional trauma for those affected
by the atrocities of the Holocaust and victims of anti-Semitism and hate.”
Anyway, we`re back with our panel, Jonathan, Christina and Jack.
Christina, your thoughts on this guy that just discovered that the
Holocaust has emotional firepower today in comparing Hitler to the
president over something completely different, I would say the blitzkrieg
is not exactly the same as not showing up for a very important event.
BELLANTONI: Right, in political rhetoric, I`d say there are three things
off limits. That are your children, your mom, and Adolf Hitler, right?
This is something that a staffer, if they had tweeted that, would have been
fired yesterday for.
He did the right thing in a apologizing. Democrats are going to try to
keep it alive. You know, look, members of Congress – no offense,
Congressman Kingston – but sometimes put out stupid things on their
Twitter feed without thinking. There`s been a lot of this apologizing and
it will last until the next dumb thing comes out and that goes for both
MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman Kingston, it`s like what he is apologizing
for is not the stupid reference comparing Hitler to the president, but he
may have offended people, maybe when you read, especially Jewish people and
others affected by the Holocaust, obviously, especially Jewish people, it`s
like he was more concerned about the group of people being offended than he
was by a ridiculous reference. He was looking at his constituency issue is
the way I saw it.
KINGSTON: Well, I think it did sound conditional in his apology. I think
it`s best just to say, look, I`m sorry, that was a stupid comment.
And I`ll tell you, Christina`s point, I think it is likely within their
office, there will be shuffling because I suspect 70 percent to 80 percent
of the members of Congress do delegate their twitter, and a lot of their e-
mails, and blogs and web page stuff. So, we don`t really know the back-
story on this.
But I will say this as a Republican, when statements like this are made, it
steps on the message, and what the message was and is for conservatives,
and in both parties as you pointed out, is that 40 world leaders were there
and the president of the United States wasn`t, the vice president wasn`t,
the secretary of state wasn`t, not a cabinet member, we had our ambassador
there, and I think that that`s a an issue, because it was great opportunity
to thank these world leaders for being part of our coalition, our American-
led coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to say to them, we`re all
in this together and it is a global war on terrorism.
You know, Jonathan, not all criticism is partisan, or even in it`s nature
partisan. It could just be you think the president blew it. That`s what I
thought, I`m not going to call him Hitler, though.
But your thoughts about this guy. I think the congressman right now, Jack
Kingston, by saying this clown, he is a clown in this case, completely
distorted and shifted attention away from the president`s mishap to his own
horrible reference point here of Hitler.
CAPEHART: Right. Well, I mean, I will go as far to say as I do in a piece
that I just wrote for “Post-Partisan”, is that what we saw in that
apologize is how not to apologize.
CAPEHART: As the congressman pointed out, his apology was conditional. To
all those offended. That`s the rhetorical equivalent of crossing your
fingers while taking an oath. You really don`t mean it.
What you`re saying is, to all those – I apologize to those for being so
sensitive. It`s not that he is taking responsibility for the dumb thing he
said, he is blaming the person who`s offended for being overly sensitive.
So, I don`t think it is an apology at all.
MATTHEWS: This is the way you turn the blame to the other people, those
victimized. Oh, you`re too sensitive.
Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart, I put it in perspective. Christina
Bellantoni and Congressman Jack Kingston, all of you are right tonight.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Even Hitler thought it was more important to get to Paris. Well, that was
a Texas congressman`s nasty knack, of course, on President Obama for his
failure to attend the big rally in France this past weekend.
Excuse me, Congressman. I know you`re a Republican and the president is a
Democrat and, I agree our country should have been represented better on
Sunday. But Adolf Hitler? Is this something in your brand that has you
comparing our twice elected American leader with their fuehrer, whose
aggression in Europe caused the world 50 million lives?
I know, sir, that you back your shot comparing Obama`s failure to show up
in Paris and Hitler blitzkrieg to get there in a hurry. But wouldn`t this
be a good time to think about that way you, Congressman Randy Weber,
Republican of Texas, think about things? Wouldn`t it be good for the
country if politicians drop the whole Hitler thing and returned to saying,
well, we Republicans and those Democrats just have an honest disagreement
on some big stuff?
Sarah Palin also got into this blasting of the president for his absence in
Paris on Sunday. But remember her record, after running for governor of
Alaska, winning and taking the oath of office, she simply skipped out on
the second half of her term. Where Obama failed to show at this single,
though, important event, she, the duly elected governor of the state failed
to show for an entire two years? What do you call that? I think the term
is taking French leave, and Madam Palin, you stay in the cues. So, don`t
throw snowballs if you`re not ready to duck yourself.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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