Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 02/04/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Grandmothers know best.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
That`s it. You just heard it right, grandmothers know best. That`s
the word from Hillary Clinton. The recent secretary of state has served
notice that she`s embracing her new family position with gusto and taking
it on the road politically.
When she signed off Monday night about the need for vaccines with that
hashtag, #grandmothersknowbest, it was a statement meant to be noticed to
friend and foe alike. Quote, “I am who I am,” I think she was saying, And
I think it gives me a vital status in taking this country into the future.
I care about the future because our Charlotte – that`s her grandchild –
and all the other children of her generation are going to be living in it.
Well, joining me right now to talk about this interesting development,
Republican strategist John Feehery, as well as Joan Walsh of Salon.
By the way, here`s how Hillary weighed in on the vaccination debate on
Twitter late Monday night. “The science is clear,” she wrote. “The earth
is round, the sky is blue, and vaccines work. Let`s protect all our kids.
Anyway, Hillary and Bill Clinton became grandparents this past
September, but now some say Secretary Clinton`s new family status as a
grandmother could soften her image and also disarm her critics over the age
issue. As Politico reported today, quote, “Democrats see this rhetoric as
a way to spin Clinton`s age to her advantage and as a chance to show off
Clinton`s family life to female voters and her personal warmth to young
I`ll start with you, Joan. I think it`s a statement – that`s why I`m
leading with it – the first time Hillary has come out of the box and said,
Guess what? Here`s how I`m running this time…
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: … somebody who cares about the future because I got a
stake in it.
WALSH: Right. And the age thing is something that people are going
to use against her, Chris, so I think it`s really great to get it out there
this way. I think it`s really – it`s great to own it. She`s a
grandmother. She`s proud of it…
MATTHEWS: You mean the way that the Democrats said that Bob Dole was
WALSH: No, I never said that!
MATTHEWS: … lurching from position to position that way?
WALSH: Both sides can use age, I will admit that. But I think that
it is something that people are a little bit afraid of. And I think this
is a great way of her saying, I`m at this time of my life. I`m having the
time of my live. I`ve got a granddaughter I adore. And I care.
She did start with science. I do want to point out she started with
science. It wasn`t entirely based on “grandmothers know best,” but she –
she owned it.
MATTHEWS: It was almost like a nursery rhyme, John, mothers know
MATTHEWS: … a certain rhythm to it. Your view about Hillary and
the way she`s apparently handling her self-definition, because Al Gore once
said – not that he was the most successful politician, but he`s a smart
guy – he said, If you don`t define yourself early on, the other guys will.
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it`s uncharted territory.
We`re not quite sure how the American people will react. You wrote in a
book many years ago that you put a spotlight on your problems or…
MATTHEWS: Bobby Kennedy said, Hang a lantern on your problems.
FEEHERY: Yes. And I think that – that`s one of her biggest problems
is she`s going to be 70 when she runs. That`s always an issue. When John
McCain runs that – that old, or when Ronald Reagan was that old, I mean,
it`s an issue that comes up. I think that you`re right, she`s trying to
define this in the most positive terms. And we`ll see how it works.
MATTHEWS: How does it come up?
FEEHERY: How does it come up?
FEEHERY: Well, that`s a good question because…
MATTHEWS: You just brought it up.
FEEHERY: I think – I think – I think Republicans are going to have
to tread very carefully on this because for them, you know, they`re –
they`re – you have to be able to appeal to that voting bloc, older
MATTHEWS: Who vote.
FEEHERY: … who vote…
MATTHEWS: … and many times vote for Republicans. So they have to
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s…
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about what you just said because you`re a good
guy, so I`m not going to jump on you like I normally would to somebody who
just said what you did. But I could argue that you`ve just stepped into a
trap. Just a minute. Mitt Romney is basically a grandfather…
MATTHEWS: … of many grandchildren. And it has never come up that
this was a negative. He`s about the same age as – look at his family
there. Look at that progeny.
MATTHEWS: That`s a statement.
MATTHEWS: That`s never been an issue. Jeb Bush is a grandparent.
The idea that Hillary`s a grandparent, why would that be a potential
FEEHERY: Well, I – I – I`m not…
MATTHEWS: Or her age even, just generally speaking, her age. Why is
her age an issue with her, rather than with her peers?
FEEHERY: Any time you`re around…
MATTHEWS: Male peers.
FEEHERY: Any time you`re around the 70 age barrier, it gets to be an
issue, and that`s just…
MATTHEWS: Well, why didn`t it ever come up with – with – with Mitt
MATTHEWS: And he`s not running as of a week ago.
FEEHERY: He`s not…
MATTHEWS: A week ago…
FEEHERY: He`s not – he`s not near 70. He`s not going to be 70 when
he runs. She`s going to be 70. I think that – that is a big – that`s a
big age difference there.
MATTHEWS: He`s six months older than her.
MATTHEWS: Let me – why don`t you absorb that, John Feehery.
MATTHEWS: He`s six months…
MATTHEWS: He was running a week ago, and it never came up!
WALSH: I think – I mean, look, there is a double standard for women.
We had Rush Limbaugh telling us and we had Drudge telling us no one wants
to watch a woman get old before their eyes. I mean, it`s clear that we
really have to endure more scrutiny.
I don`t think you were bringing this up yourself. Karl Rove brought
it up in terms of her health. Some of them would be very – you know, very
dignified concerns about her health. Does she have the stamina?
FEEHERY: It was an issue for Ronald Reagan when he ran at 70. It`s
just an issue. I mean, now…
MATTHEWS: No one wants to see a woman grow older before their eyes –
what is marriage, if it isn`t growing old together?
WALSH: Well, he`s on his fourth – Rush is on his fourth wife so, you
MATTHEWS: He got the new model…
WALSH: If you just keep trading them in, you`re not stuck with that
MATTHEWS: Oh, great, you know? A lot of mileage (INAUDIBLE)
FEEHERY: Listen, I`m not saying it`s an issue. I`m not saying it`s
WALSH: No, you`re not.
FEEHERY: I`m saying…
WALSH: You`re one of the good guys.
FEEHERY: … she`s trying to define it in a most positive way. She`s
MATTHEWS: I think – I think – I think – I do – two things go on
in politics. One is self-definition. You have to define who you are.
MATTHEWS: Look, we`re Americans. You start with that. Then you go
with, I`m a conservative or a liberal or whatever. Then you define that.
And then you say, What offices have you held? You help the people out
here, step by step. And one of them is, Look, if you noticed, I`m female.
Number two, if you noticed, I`m of a certain age.
Anyway, Ross Baker (ph) – I`ve known him forever. He`s a professor
at – he writes a lot of columns. He presented a different view in “USA
Today” actually this week on how Democratic women affect their party.
Joan, you`re going to jump on this baby.
“Women have assumed dominant” – I love that word, “dominant” –
positions and have scared off serious male challengers. Take Hillary
Clinton and Representative Nancy Pelosi. Both are towering and
intimidating figures who have sucked the oxygen out of the spheres they
dominate. True, they have successfully promoted the candidacies of women,
championed issues that appeal to women and generally been rewarded with
their support. But the very elevation of these extraordinary women has
placed male Democrats in a position of being unwilling to challenge them.”
MATTHEWS: Although Steny Hoyer did run against Hillary. (sic)
WALSH: Steny Hoyer ran against her!
MATTHEWS: Against Pelosi.
WALSH: And in 2008, a whole bunch of guys ran against Hillary
Clinton, and one of them beat her. I mean, this is just preposterous. But
I do want to thank both of you guys for manning up and showing up here with
me tonight and not being intimidated and not letting me suck the oxygen out
of the room.
WALSH: There`s still room for male pundits at the table.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God! I can`t breathe! I can`t breathe!
FEEHERY: The interesting thing about Nancy…
WALSH: It`s ridiculous.
FEEHERY: The interesting thing about Nancy Pelosi is no one can beat
her as leader because she is really where the heart of the Democratic
caucus is because she`s liberal and – as the caucus is liberal and she
raises the most money.
FEEHERY: It`s all about the money.
MATTHEWS: And your party`s been knocking off the moderates now for
FEEHERY: And I – and I still don`t think that Hillary Clinton – I
still think there`s a chance that someone is going to knock off Hillary,
and it might be…
MATTHEWS: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa…
FEEHERY: It might be a male.
MATTHEWS: Place your bets. You`re on television. We`ll hold the
tape for you. What is it? Who`s going to beat her?
FEEHERY: Well, to be determined. I`m not sure…
MATTHEWS: … Martin O`Malley…
FEEHERY: I`m not sure.
MATTHEWS: … Bernie Sanders?
FEEHERY: It could be Jon Tester. Who knows? I mean, somebody could
beat her. And she might not run. It`s a possibility. You`ve got to lay
it out there, and then, you know, who knows what happens.
MATTHEWS: So how`s your guy doing? How`s Bush doing? In a question
and answer session after the economic speech he gave today in Detroit, Jeb
Bush actually addressed his biggest – (INAUDIBLE) he made the change. It
was last week it was Mitt. Now it`s Jeb. Here he is. He talked about his
last name, the Bush name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I love my dad. In fact, my dad
is the greatest man alive. And if anybody disagrees, we`ll go outside
unless you`re, like, 6-5 and 250 and much younger than me. Then we`ll
BUSH: I`m still not going to change my mind, for sure. And I love my
brother, and I think he`s been a great president. It doesn`t bother me a
bit to be proud of them and love them, but I know for a fact that if I`m
going to be successful going beyond the consideration (ph), then I`m going
to have to do it on my own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Your witness, John. That was the first time he…
MATTHEWS: … self-definition. He`s now joined the question.
MATTHEWS: How do I – how do I get to be a new Bush while I`ve got
the baggage of the old Bushes?
FEEHERY: The Bush – the bumper sticker is not going to be Bush.
It`s going to be Jeb. And I think that Jeb…
MATTHEWS: Like Hillary.
FEEHERY: I think Jeb has got to identify – define himself, which I
think he can easily do, as opposed to his brother. He`s going to chart a
new course. And I think that he`s – with his authentic kind of approach
to politics, he`s going to be much more appealing than anything we have…
MATTHEWS: You (ph) are a spy on the Republican Party. You`re a
centrist Republican, I think. Let me ask you this. Is he going to be more
his dad, who most of us really like, or is he going to be more like W. as a
FEEHERY: I think he`s going to be a pirate (ph). I think he`s going
to be secretly conservative, unlike his dad, who was actually secretly
moderate, but he`s going to be campaigning more as a moderate…
MATTHEWS: Will he be a hawk? Will he be a hawk?
FEEHERY: I`m – I – I think he`ll be…
MATTHEWS: Going into new countries with armies!
FEEHERY: I think he`ll be…
MATTHEWS: Banner flying!
FEEHERY: … much more towards his father than his brother.
MATTHEWS: Good. So his people won`t be a bunch of neocons.
FEEHERY: I don`t think his people (INAUDIBLE) Although he will – he
will have neocons that support him.
MATTHEWS: No, I was hoping he`s going to bring in people like Richard
Haass and reasonable Republicans.
FEEHERY: And Brent Scowcroft and guys like that.
FEEHERY: And I think he`ll do that. I think he`s going to have a far
MATTHEWS: I think that`s the number one concern of people of my
politics, sort of center-left…
WALSH: And it`s…
MATTHEWS: … that they ever – or even in the center, who think they
might vote for him because they like him, they just like the guy – their
fear is not his education policy or his immigration policy because they
like that and they like Common Core. What they fear about him is, as
moderate as he seems domestically, all those cowboys, all those right-wing
WALSH: And that is…
MATTHEWS: … are going to come after him.
WALSH: I think he does need to get out there and talk about what is
this Bush doctrine and…
MATTHEWS: Here he is. Here he is.
MATTHEWS: Meeting your demand, Governor Bush unveiled what he calls
his “reformed conservative agenda for America” out in Detroit today. It
was a mix of economic populism and conservative doctrine. Here he is
putting it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The recovery has been everywhere but in the family paychecks.
The American dream has become a mirage for far too many. So the central
question we face here in Detroit and across America is this. Can we
restore that dream, that moral promise that each generation can do better?
If we can`t answer that question, look, no tax, no welfare program
will save our system or our way of life because America`s moral promise
isn`t broken when someone is wealthy, it`s broken when achieving success is
far beyond our imagination.
So I`m getting involved in politics again because that`s where the
work has to begin. The opportunity gap is the defining issue of our time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I can`t argue with that. I`ll tell you, that goes with
community college, with educating kids…
WALSH: Well, right.
MATTHEWS: … and all the good stuff. He didn`t fill that blank in,
WALSH: I think it`s terrific that Republicans are talking about this
now. I really do. If we can agree this is a big problem, we can solve it
together. However, that speech had nothing about community college, earned
income tax credit…
WALSH: How would he – well, it`s time to fill it in.
MATTHEWS: He can`t (INAUDIBLE) taxes for the rich and say he`s doing
it to help (INAUDIBLE)
FEEHERY: I think his biggest challenge…
WALSH: We`ll see.
FEEHERY: His biggest challenge is going to be putting meat on the
FEEHERY: What are the policies that fill this thing that are
conservative that conservatives will embrace? His brother had two
policies, No Child Left Behind and prescription drugs…
MATTHEWS: They`re not letting him behind. That`s a Dianne Feinstein
joke. The other night, she told that. Their policy is…
FEEHERY: I think Jeb would be a great president, but how you define
MATTHEWS: Well, I hope he`s got a – by the way, tell me, what`s a
conservative to for a working kid in a bad neighborhood who wants to break
out and get a real job and make a living? How do you help that guy?
FEEHERY: Well, there`s a couple things. First you have to deal with
crime control and you have to make sure that education – that schools are
– are solid. And you have to deal with families. You`ve got to make sure
the family structures…
FEEHERY: … and support of the family, all of those…
MATTHEWS: I think it`s broad (ph) education in high school, real
technical stuff, too, not just…
MATTHEWS: Thank you, John Feehery. We can figure it out right here
at this table. Turn off the camera and get it done here. Joan Walsh,
thank you. That`s the nicest thing you`ve said about Republicans in my
hearing (ph) lifetime. And I really have a soft spot. I want to hear from
Jeb. I`m not ready to put that guy down, and I hope I don`t have to. I
hope he`s a real contender because of all that crowd running, you got to
Coming up: The horrific murder of a Jordanian pilot – talking about
horrific by ISIS. Jordan executed two ISIS prisoners today, and Jordan`s
king is vowing “relentless war” against the terrorists. Is this the
turning point that may rally the Muslim war against the bad guys?
Plus, Chris Christie goes to London to try to build a foreign policy
imagine out of nowhere, but he returns home in worse political shape than
when he left Jersey.
And why was President Obama so irritated after Mitt Romney called him
to concede – concede! – 2012 the election? Obama didn`t like the sound
of his concession on the phone! Well, that`s ahead with the roundtable.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with Secretary Clinton`s role in life, which
is – she`s defining it now.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Confirmation hearings began today for Ashton Carter,
President Obama`s pick to be secretary of defense. And things got hot over
Syria. We`ll get to that in a minute, but right off the bat in his opening
statement, Chairman John McCain took this shot at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I must candidly express concern about
the task that awaits you, if confirmed, and the influence you would have on
some of the most critical national security issues facing our nation. Two
of your predecessors, Secretary Gates and Secretary Panetta, have severely
criticized White House micromanagement of the Defense Department and over-
centralization of foreign and defense policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. Carter vowed to work with the White House and the
Republican-led Congress on smatter of national security and said he`d be a
stickler for the chain of command.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, Jordan, the country of
Jordan, vowed to wage a relentless war against ISIS the day after that
horrific video was released by the group showing a captured Jordanian pilot
being burned to death while trapped in a cage. According to “The New York
Times,” quote, “The latest atrocity by the Islamic State was met with
revulsion and outrage across the Arab world.
Jordan immediately promised an “earth-shaking” response. Well,
overnight, it executed two Iraqi jihadists, including a woman, an attempted
suicide bomber. Influential religious leaders have also spoken out. The
head of Al Azar University in Cairo, which is the top Muslim authority in
Egypt and revered by Sunnis, called for punishing ISIS fighters. He said
they should be, quote, “killed, crucified or their hands and legs cut off.”
David Ignatius is a columnist for “The Washington Post” and Michael
Kay`s a former senior British officer. Irshad Manji is the director of the
Moral Courage Project at NYU.
Thank you all for joining – David, you`re here. Anger over
atrocities, whether it`s that beheading or – we all feel it. We feel it
for three or four days, and then we go back to the policy that made sense
over time. Will the Jordanians or any of the other Arab countries, the
Saudis included, take really up arms against ISIS?
DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”: We`ll have to see. They already
nominally are part of the coalition that`s fighting ISIS. An important
aspect of the anger that`s clear in the Arab world is that it gives cover
for people like King Abdullah of Jordan, for the new leadership in Saudi
Arabia, other Arab leaders to move forward with the U.S., not to be
embarrassed about it.
It`s interesting that Lieutenant Kaseasbeh, the poor pilot who was so
brutally killed, is from a very tribal area of Jordan. He`s from a town in
MATTHEWS: He`s a Bedouin. He`s a Bedouin.
IGNATIUS: He`s from the Bedouin area, and people in that part of
Jordan and that part of the Arab world, when they swear revenge, they mean
it. So people are angry and they`ll stay (ph) angry (ph).
MATTHEWS: So you think they`ll go to war.
IGNATIUS: Well, they`re at war. The question is whether they`re
going to stick with it. And you know, we always say, Why don`t the Arabs
speak up? Why don`t they say something? Why don`t they express anger?
Today they did, from one end of the Arab world to the other, and I think
MATTHEWS: Michael Kay, how does this translate into reality and the
fact that even when you listen to John McCain, who`s pretty hawkish, you
don`t hear a coherent plan to beat ISIS, even over a reasonable period of
time, or any period of time. You don`t hear it. How`s it work? How do
you defeat a country, which now is a country, that has all of that land
that it owns right now?
MICHAEL KAY, FMR. BRITISH ARMY OFFICER: Well, John McCain`s got a
very specific view about what to do with rebels and arming rebels. Let`s
come to that in a second.
The bottom line is, is that ISIS is a global threat, and with a global
threat, it requires a multi-lateral response, and that isn`t just
militarily, it`s holistically. Now, as already mentioned, Kaseasbeh was a
devout Sunni Muslim. There are Sunni Muslims being slaughtered. There are
Shias being executed in the hundreds. There are Christians, Yazidis.
There are Jews, and from every part of the world. So everyone is at threat
here from ISIS, so we can either take the fight to ISIS, or we can let them
come to us. I suggest the former. Now, there – the problem is, is that
there are geopolitical problems going on around the world involving key
players that we need to galvanize support from.
Russia absolutely essential on the U.N. Security Council in the P5.
We have got a big problem with Russia and the Ukraine at the moment. That
is clouding a coordinated effort. If you look at Iran, there are
negotiations going on about the enrichment of uranium and Iran`s nuclear
problem. That is clouding a coordinated response.
If you go to Saudi Arabia, the problem with Saudi Arabia is that the
U.S. has home basing for its Predator drones in the southwest of the
country which are being used in Yemen. That will effectively – that will
get in the way of conversations with Saudi Arabia.
KAY: Egypt needs to be harnessed because Egypt has made the decision
that it`s a sovereign nation and it`s not going to be under the command of
the Muslim Brotherhood. There are areas around the world which are
clouding a coordinated response that we kind of need to get our head around
before we move forward with what John McCain said, which is a military
response, which is short-term.
MATTHEWS: Michael, let`s watch what – because I think he`s pretty
circumscribed for a hawk. Here`s John McCain and he was asked what the
United States needed to do to combat ISIS. Let`s listen to his words.
Very careful here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m very much in favor of forward air
controllers, special forces, some embedded trainers and others that
literally make the difference between a fighting force that`s capable and
one that is not.
That does not mean, as the president always sets up the straw man,
massive American troops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: But, earshot, that is the question to Americans. As angry
as I feel, as most people do, I don`t see, even in his words do I hear a
call for another war, like to go in like we did with Afghanistan or Iraq
twice, to go in there on the ground with a famous general leading the
charge and kill everybody that gets in our way. I don`t even hear that
even from him now.
IRSHAD MANJI, MORAL COURAGE PROJECT: No. And there is no appetite in
the United States for that, Chris. Even among moderate Republicans, there
I want to go back, though, to the point about, you know, whether
various allies of the United States in the Middle East will sustain their
membership in this coalition against ISIS. Look, that coalition is fragile
and nominal at best.
Let`s take a country like Jordan, which is, in all meaningful ways, a
moderate Muslim country. A few years ago, my own entry visa to Jordan was
pulled by the royal court. Why? Because they did not want to be accused
by the Muslim Brotherhood of allowing somebody like me to come into the
MATTHEWS: I know.
MANJI: That`s how skittish the Jordanian government is about being
accused of allying itself with anybody who smacks of Westernism.
MATTHEWS: Well, that may have changed? That`s what I want to get to
tonight. Did that change?
MATTHEWS: And the sight of a guy having gasoline poured on him,
knowing it`s all going to happen to him, realizing it and watching this guy
go through this horror?
Anyway, many Jordanians rallied behind their country`s king, King
Abdullah, of course. He was greeted with cheers when he returned from the
U.S. yesterday, and today the king promised a long, hard fight against
ISIS. He said: “We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values
and human principles and our war, for their sake, will be relentless and
will hit them in their own ground.”
David, can he hold the meds and the beds together in his country? Can
he hold his country together facing down a neighboring Arab reality?
IGNATIUS: He has a better chance, tragically, after this terrible
Last week, there were a lot of people concerned in Washington and
Amman that the family of this pilot, many people from – were saying, why
are we in this fight? This isn`t our fight. It`s America`s fight.
I think there`s a lot less of that now. The point I would make for
your viewers is, 90 percent of the Arab world, I think, was outraged today
in the aftermath of this. The target audience of ISIS is the 10 percent
who may not have been outraged.
MATTHEWS: And the hate.
IGNATIUS: Well, you know, the shock value.
MATTHEWS: Why do they like this?
IGNATIUS: Because this is shocking. It`s a scream in the face of the
people who have been dropping bombs, in their view, on Arabs, they would
argue, killing Arabs. That`s the way they set up this video before the
horrible burning of the lieutenant.
So, I think also there`s a kind of romance and adventure that ISIS
projects. Join the fight. Be with us. And for the 10 percent, that`s
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Irshad.
MANJI: Yes, just quickly, that there is also blowback against ISIS
among younger Muslims.
I can tell you that there is plenty of commentary coming out of the
Middle East written by young Muslims saying that this culture of vendetta
and countervendetta has to end and that, in fact, the violence being
perpetrated by ISIS, the barbarity, the savagery is pushing more and more
young Muslims into speaking up and speaking out openly against the abuse of
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
MANJI: So, we very well may see that ISIS has its work cut out for
them in recruiting even more young people a year or two from now.
IGNATIUS: That`s the best news – that`s the best news I have – if
she`s right, that`s a big thing.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to Michael, last question.
Michael, briefly, it seems that Israel has had to live with a
situation like this. Suppose 90 percent of people in the West Bank don`t
want to kill Israelis. They just don`t want to. They want to their life,
make a buck, survive, have their kids grow up in some kind of peace and
But the 5 percent or the 2 percent who are willing to go over there
and be suicide bombers ruin any chance of that mattering. My question is,
if most of the Arab and Islamic world say this is the most horrific thing
they have ever seen a human do to another, but the 2 or 3 percent say, no,
this is a good excuse for me joining up and going and joining the crazies
over there, what matters?
In the long run, what matters, the passionate few, the small
percentage of hell-raising evil people or the grand number of people who
would like to see peace? What matters most?
KAY: Well, I think it`s the latter, Chris. It`s a no-brainer.
But it takes – it takes decisions like Egypt – Egypt made the
decision last week, an Egyptian court made the decision to actually rule
the militant wing of Hamas as terrorists. That was – that`s – that`s
unthinkable, given that Egypt in the past has been a power broker in
between Palestine and Israeli talks.
But let me just finish on the point that John McCain was saying in
terms of what his recommendations are on the battlefield. There`s a
serious issue here. John McCain is right in one respect, in that there
needs to be fusion between a ground force and an air force in order to gain
the maximum leverage militarily.
But we had 160,000 coalition troops in Iraq with the most
sophisticated and powerful air force in the world. Did we get success in
Iraq? We also had the most sophisticated air force and ground forces, over
100,000, 300,000 if you include the Afghan national army. How did we get
on in Afghanistan?
Training 5,000 rebels in Syria and 5,000 Iraqi troops in Iraq in order
to tackle effectively what is ISIS isn`t going to cut it. We have got to
find another way. We have got to find a political solution, a political
alternative, and then we have got to fuse whatever the military solution is
with what the political road map turns out to be.
MATTHEWS: OK. And that`s a hopeful assessment.
Anyway, thank you, David Ignatius. Thank you, Michael Kay and Irshad
Thank you all. It`s been great to learn a terrible story,
We will be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL.
Senator John McCain expressed his outrage last week when CODEPINK
protesters disrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where former
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was about to testify.
McCain called the protesters lowlife scum, a phrase that has found its
way into a David Letterman parody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: NBC used the
network time on the Super Bowl to tell about a show called “The Voice.” We
have a copy of it right here.
NARRATOR: The new season of America`s favorite singing competition is
coming soon. Don`t miss the premiere episode featuring mind-blowing
performances and special guest judge, Senator John McCain.
MCCAIN: Get out of here, you lowlife scum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Next: A debate over whether or not to vaccinate children
against measles has been a hot topic this week.
So it was only a matter of time before Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show”
weighed in, making his point that vaccines only work when everybody has
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”: It`s like
America is in an isolated farmhouse and the measles are zombies.
STEWART: And for some inexplicable reason, they have risen from the
dead and are looking for, oh, I don`t know, brains.
STEWART: So, everybody in the farmhouse has been given a task of
boarding up windows and doors in their area to keep out the zombies,
because it`s well-established science that zombies have a very difficult
time with wood…
STEWART: … have trouble getting it.
STEWART: And you trust everybody`s going to do their job. And then
you wake up and it`s 2:00 in the morning and there`s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
zombie gnawing on your brain. And you`re like, what the (EXPLETIVE
DELETED)? Who didn`t board up their window?
And that`s when some lady from Marin County who you let into your
farmhouse goes, oh, I read an article on a wellness forum…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: … that says we shouldn`t sleep in boarded-up rooms because
it (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you all up!
And you know what you would say back to them?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Finally, don`t look for a painted portrait of Congressman
Jason Chaffetz of Utah any time soon. The new House Oversight Committee
chairman says he won`t sit for some painting because the practice is –
quote – according to him, “so 1800s.”
Well, “The Hill” newspaper reported last month that the Republican
from Utah has removed the portraits of past chairmen from the committee
room. He told CNN, “I just think this room should be inspired not by those
who served as chairman, but by those we work for.”
Well, Chaffetz said the portraits are a waste of money. Hmm.
Up next – no comment there.
Up next: Talk about a bad trip, if you will. Chris Christie may have
wished he had stayed home. Nothing seemed to go right for the Jersey
governor in his jaunt to London.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
The SUV that was struck by a passenger train in suburban New York,
killing six people, has been removed from the scene of the crash. It`s the
deadliest accident in the Metro-North system`s history.
Taiwanese rescuers have lifted the fuselage out of a doomed TransAsia
plane out of the river where it crashed; 31 people were killed when the
plane went down last night.
And in Boston, fans lined the streets to celebrate the Patriots` Super
Bowl win. The parade took place a day later than expected due to a winter
storm – back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Chris Christie is back on U.S. soil and his London trip, as we have
seen as we have covered it, has been short of success or any success.
Christie`s measles comments left him looking clueless at best, pandering at
worst. A page one “New York Times” story on his champagne tastes headlined
“Chris Christie Shows Fondness for Luxury Benefits When Others Pay the
Bill” puts a ding in his regular guy persona
And Christie reverted to form when he snapped at reporters. Here he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No questions.
QUESTION: In your meetings, did you discuss the Islamic State at all?
CHRISTIE: Is there something you didn`t understand about no
QUESTION: Governor, would you put troops on the ground to fight ISIS?
QUESTION: Is there a reason you won`t take questions today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And for the first time in New Jersey`s Monmouth University
poll, Christie is viewed unfavorably by more people in his state than
And joining me right now to talk about Christie, the HARDBALL
roundtable tonight, NBC`s Perry Bacon, “U.S. News & World Report”`s Susan
Milligan, and Talking Points Memo`s Sahil Kapur.
Thank you all.
Susan, I want you first there, because a lot of things went wrong on
SUSAN MILLIGAN, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”: Yes.
MATTHEWS: This was like a bad trip, as we used to say in the `60s, a
bad trip, yes.
MILLIGAN: Well, first of all, the whole idea that you can go to Great
Britain and call that a foreign policy experience is sort of laughable to
me, and the fact that it went so badly makes it even worse.
MATTHEWS: They speak English over there still, don`t they?
MILLIGAN: Yes, and have flush toilets and hard currency. It`s not a
foreign assignment. He should have gone to Greece, actually. That would
have been more useful.
But what was interesting to me is that I think what we have all
wondered is, are we going to see Chris Christie, the straight-talking guy
who said get the hell off the beach during one of the storms that everybody
liked, or are we going to see Chris Christie the bully?
And I think what we saw in his interaction with the press was Chris
Christie the bully. And it – he was so – you know, it was such a minor
situation. It was – it`s early on. And to say to somebody, you can`t ask
me a question? I mean, you don`t want to answer it, don`t answer it.
But his problem is that – I have always thought is that when he – if
he goes to Iowa and he`s at a barbecue and someone asks him a question that
he doesn`t like, and he starts saying, are you stupid? Are you stupid?
Are you asking me that – that`s going to be the end of it. He`s got to
bring that under control.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think in the beginning, we all thought, I included,
thought it was kind of charming to hear a guy speak straight, instead of
the usual P.C. stuff.
MILLIGAN: Yes, exactly.
MATTHEWS: But this stuff of no comment and what`s wrong with no
questions, like he`s bridling at the press. Just shut up. You don`t have
MATTHEWS: But you don`t attack the reporters, whose job it is to ask
you questions about major national issues, international issues.
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don`t mind
him not answering questions. Hillary hasn`t answered anything from anybody
in a long time. So, that`s fine.
His attitude about it is not great. But the big problem was the
measles comment was just wrong. I mean, you`re running for president. We
want you to be the leader of the country.
MATTHEWS: OK. Spell it out. Who is he talking to?
BACON: I guess he`s talking to the conservative base, he`s talking to
BACON: It doesn`t mattered. He got criticized. He made Ben Carson
seem like the reasonable candidate.
MATTHEWS: Sahil, I want you to react. I want you to interpret what
he says here.
This is called meandering, somebody called it, “The Wall Street
Journal” editorial page. He was over – all over the place this week on
vaccinations. At a press conference in London Monday, he suggested that
parents should have more of a choice, more of a choice when it comes to
vaccinating their kids against infectious diseases like measles.
Watch this and tell me you can interpret what he`s saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you think Americans should vaccinate their kids? Is the
measles vaccine safe?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: All I can say is, we vaccinate
ours and so, you know, that`s the best expression that I can give you of my
opinion. It`s much more important as what you think as a parent than what
you think as a public official, and that`s what we do. But I also
understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in this as
well. So, that`s a balance that the government has to decide, it depends
on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest.
So, I didn`t say I`m leaving people the option. What I`m saying is
you have to have the balance in considering parental concerns because no
parent, no parent cares about anything more than they care about protecting
their own child`s health.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So, I`m not saying give the parents an option but – I`m
telling you, I listened to that carefully. It was impossible. He was
touching all the bases, hoping he wouldn`t offend anybody. He wanted the
yahoos, whoever he thought they were, these people are working class not
believing in measles. I mean, don`t believe in the stuff that we all grew
up with. Everybody grows up with measles and mumps and other stuff, and
you get vaccinated. That`s what you do.
SAHIL KAPUR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Right. A few things stuck me about
that. First, I think it was the first time, you brought up “The Wall
Street Journal” editorial, I think it was the first time that they had
praised President Obama and criticized Chris Christie on something – that
was pretty extraordinary, the editorial board.
But, you know, this idea that a lot of – a number of Republican
lawmakers, presidential hopefuls, have taken the position that I personally
support the vaccine, I would do it for my kids, but I wouldn`t force it.
We want to know if you would force it. It`s not really important what you
would do personally. You`re a lawmaker. We want to know what laws you
And another thing to keep in mind here is, the Republican presidential
candidates who are kind of sort of pandering to this anti-vax movement as
we call it, are not doing it because they don`t believe in the science or
they doubt the science, they`re doing it because in the conservative
movement, it is borderline toxic to want to mandate anyone to do anything,
even if it`s good for public safety, even if it`s good for public health
MATTHEWSD: Well, what about the Jon Stewart critique that if you
leave one of the windows open, the zombies come in. I mean, that was an
interesting metaphor because – I went to Catholic school for 100 years, 16
years I`ll tell you. You always came home because the kids were packed
together in classrooms, some kids had sniffles and some got worse. You got
the disease and you come sick. If you got three or four brothers, one of
you is going to get it. I had four brothers. You get sick all the time
because not every kid was healthy – and also the desire for perfect
attendance was ridiculous.
Do you remember? Get that kid to school. You want that perfect
KAPUR: The science is unequivocal on this.
SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: My mother was a nurse. I
could never get away with pretending to be sick. And (INAUDIBLE) you`re
fine, go to school. But, yes, everybody got sick.
The thing is, look what Thom Tillis said earlier this week, where he
said, well, maybe, you know, they shouldn`t have requirements that
employees wash their hands, you know, at the restaurant.
MATTHEWS: What is that about? Explain that.
MILLIGAN: Well, I think that the idea behind it was that government
shouldn`t be mandating that a business do anything like that. And as long
as they put up a sign saying, we don`t require our employees to wash their
hands and the market will take care of it, and people won`t go to this
restaurant if people aren`t washing their hands.
MATTHEWS: Well, hold on –
MILLIGAN: Would you say, well, we dump our waste into the river and,
you know, just don`t buy our product.
MATTHEWS: I know that sign is aimed at me, not the employees. It`s
aimed at the customers to know that the employees who give you your soup or
your coffee or whatever else, a bacon and eggs, that they have clean hands.
MATTHEWS: That`s what it is for. To make us feel better. I don`t
want that on the door – ha!
KAPUR: No one does. It`s a perfect illustration of what I was
talking about, what Thom Tillis said –
MATTHEWS: Who complains about having to wash their hands?
KAPUR: Nobody. But they were complaining about what Thom Tillis was
saying if you don`t like the mandate –
MATTHEWS: I watch everybody at the airport. I make sure I watch
everybody who has – and if somebody doesn`t wash their hands, everybody
knows it, you know?
MILLIGAN: And I`m not shaking Senator Tillis` hands again, I`ll tell
PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS: Exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Governor Christie has crossed the significant line
and it`s not good (ph) with New Jersey. His unfavorable numbers as of now
are more than his favorable. The New Monmouth University poll has 38
percent of New Jersey residents with a favorable opinion of Christie.
That`s 38. But 40 in unfavorable.
In June, Christie was still above water at 45 favorable, 38 percent
unfavorable. Even last February, with the bridge-gate scandal in full
swing, Christie`s favorables were higher than the unfavorables, 42-37.
Well, these things matter. Is this normal? Maybe it`s normal. Is it
normal for a politician on his way up to be noticed taking leave from the
state that he was elected to govern?
BACON: The polls are showing people know what`s going on. Christie
is done with Jersey, and the polls are showing that they understand that.
Ultimately, Christie cares about a poll in Iowa, but that also is not
looking for him right now.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But they`ll be asking the citizens of Iowa who read
every newspaper, what we`re saying, I hear they don`t like it back home.
Sahil, I`m always impressed by the knowledge base of the person being
polled. And we`ll be polling here, showing the polls, good polls on all
these candidates on the Republican side. You know, there`s a dozen of
them. Everybody has an opinion on every one of them.
MATTHEWS: How can everybody know – or is it just a fake? Do they
say, oh, yes, I`ve got a very strong opinion about Ben Carson? I have no
idea what you`re talking about.
KAPUR: And Chris Christie scenario, he`s coming off a year after –
you know, since he got elected, he spent I think something like 40 to 50
percent of his time outside the state. I read this in “The New York
Times”. And, you know, he`s taken steps that are clearly suggests that
he`s looking at the presidential election, that he`s not really thinking
about New Jersey.
MATTHEWS: What was he doing in London? Running for president.
Anyway, the roundtable –
KAPUR: Foreign trips.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think you announce that you`re home by going to
Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. He`s lucky about the snow,
And up next, why was President Obama irritated at Mitt Romney when
Mitt Romney called him to concede the 2012 election?
This is HARDBALL. This is a great way to end the show today. This is
so fascinating, by sensitivity and awkward statements. Anyway, the place
for politics. Back in a minute.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama`s getting back at congressional
Republicans with a PR offensive on the each of immigration, of course.
Republicans are trying to undo his executive actions on immigration by
tying him to funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security. We
know about that.
Well, today, the president hosted a half a dozen DREAMers at the White
House. They`re all young immigrants that would be subject to deportation
if the Republican bill gets passed. The president accuses the Republicans
of ignoring the human consequences of their legislation.
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
Well, today, “The New York Daily News” released an excerpt from a new
book written by President Obama`s political guru, David Axelrod. It`s
coming out next week, which reveals the president`s displeasure during the
election night, a concession call he got from his 2012 opponent, the
defeated Mitt Romney, writing that Obama was shocked and irritated by that
phone call. According to Axelrod in the book, Obama was, quote, “unsmiling
during the call and slightly irritated when it was over”.
And Axelrod wrote, “The president hung up and said Romney admitted he
was surprised at his own loss.” Quote, “You really did a great job of
getting out the vote in places like Cleveland and Milwaukee. In other
words, black people, Obama said, paraphrasing Romney. That`s what he
thinks this was all about.”
This is Obama being described, interpreted, of course, by Axelrod.
But late this afternoon, Romney`s former body man, that`s the guy who gets
you your cookies at night, Gary Jackson, disputed Axelrod`s claims,
tweeting saying that “Mitt called Barack Obama from my phone. I was right
next to him when he conceded. I know for a fact he didn`t say what Axelrod
Well, Jackson also told CBS, quote, “I just hope this lie,” that`s the
word he used, “is the work of David Axelrod and not the president. It`s
ridiculous. I was very disappointed he would make that up.”
Well, back with the roundtable, Perry, Susan and Sahil.
Perry, first of all, the president`s sensitivity to the line, not just
the line, but the two parts he said it, he said you did great in Cleveland
and Milwaukee. Now, I wouldn`t think of Milwaukee as an African-American
dominated area. It`s just a city that people are liberal in, or Democrat.
But the president apparently saw it as an ethnic jab.
BACON: Remember, Romney did make a comment about that. There was a
conference call after the election where Romney said Obama won because he
gave, quote-unquote, “gifts” –
BACON: Gifts to minorities and young people and Hispanics. So, we
know Romney –
MATTHEWS: You linked to something we had on a conference call, with
campaign donors, just one week after losing in 2012, Romney blamed his loss
to President Obama on what he called big gifts, that`s the word, to loyal
Democratic constituencies, especially African-Americans, Hispanics and
young people. Here it is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a proven
political strategy, which is give a bunch of money from the government to a
group and, guess what, they`ll vote for you.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There you go. They bought it. They bought the poor people
and minorities. That`s why they won the election.
MILLIGAN: Well, I mean, obviously, none of us was there. So, we
don`t know exactly what was said. But this is very much in sync –
MATTHEWS: We know what he just said there.
MILLIGAN: Right. But it`s very much in sync with what his campaign
was saying in late November, after the election in 2012. Everybody trooped
up to Cambridge and sat at this event in Harvard University and they spoke
very frankly about the campaigns. At one point someone said, did you
really think that everyone else`s poll was wrong and yours were right?
They said, we think our polls were right, we think we just didn`t get out
enough of the white male vote.
At which point, we all looked at them and said there isn`t that much
of the white male vote anymore in this country that you can rely on it to
win a national presidential election. So, I don`t think they really fully
understood what the demographics of a presidential electorate is. And that
comment, this idea that – well, we would have won but you whipped up the
vote in these, quote unquote, “ethnic areas”, that actually makes sense to
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk turkey. If you`re backroom pol talking to your
pollsters, talking or campaign, you`re talking about the big city vote.
You may call it the urban vote with all the nice euphemisms, but you`re
basically talking the base of the Democratic Party. The African-American
votes have been the most consistent supporters of the Democratic, with 90-
some percent. In fact, they grow with Obama, of course, for loyalty, yes,
the same community.
So, what`s wrong with saying it a little differently, saying, you guys
did a hell of a job turning out the vote in Cleveland and Milwaukee? Why
is that offensive in itself?
KAPUR: Well, it could be perceived in two different ways. One is
that the Romney campaign was genuinely baffled at the Obama team`s ability
to turn out the low propensity, low income voters, especially in the
cities. They pointed out, Paul Ryan pointed out –
MATTHEWS: See, you got all the terminology, low propensity, how else
to throw in low knowledge.
MATTHEWS: That`s how sophisticates talk in the back room.
KAPUR: The other point which is that, it can also be seen as a dog
whistle, they`re pointing out that you won because of African-American
voters and minorities. And President Obama is very sensitive to this idea
of the sentiment that he`s the president of black America. He doesn`t want
to be seen that way. He`s not that person. So, I think that`s the way he
MATTHEWS: By the way, that`s an argument that`s fair on his part
because the African-Americans are always pro-Democrat, with the Clintons,
it will be that again.
PERRY: Also, Chris, Iowa, New Hampshire. Not a lot of black people
in those states. Obama won those just fine.
MATTHEWS: My hero Jack Kennedy had the same complaint against the
great beloved Walter Cronkite, after the Wisconsin primary of 1960. That
night, Cronkite said he only won because he got the Catholic vote, and
Kennedy went steaming out of that room. He said, you have just taken away
my victory – now I have to go to West Virginia because you`ve taken away
my victory saying I won because my peeps showing up.
MILLIGAN: But also, Chris, why would you say anything other than
congratulations, Mr. President, it was a tough fight and it was an honor
running against you? Why do you have to come up with excuses as to why he
beat you? It sounds just a little petty.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the first Nixon-Kennedy debate before they
started debating, Kennedy said, Nixon said to Kennedy – no, Kennedy said
to Kennedy, Nixon said to Kennedy, you had a great turnout in Ohio, because
Nixon carried oil (ph).
Anyway, thank you, Perry Bacon, Susan Milligan, Sahil Kapur, thank
you, for “Talking Points Memo”.
When we return, let me finish with Secretary Clinton`s new role in
life, which has become sort of a political identification in her life.
You`re watching HARDBALL, a place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with Secretary Clinton`s role in
Many people pull back from the title of grandparent. They come up
with nicknames. My wife Kathleen likes to be called Magya (ph), I`m Bobey
(ph), both are Swazi names I brought back with from the Peace Corps over
there in Swaziland.
Well, Hillary Clinton is going with the more traditional. She`s a
grandmother and has no problem with the name and I presume the idea is
where she is in life who wants the world to know there are certain
strengths and a serious amount of wisdom that comes with being a parent of
a parent. I think there are good politics in the position she`s probably
claimed, of course, that a grandmother, by my lights, it puts her out there
looking over the horizon to the world, her grandchild is going to live in,
rather than make it with someone holding on when another generation is
pushing to take over, she`s leapfrogging to the future by talking about the
world that`s coming for, in her case, granddaughter Charlotte.
Look, we never know how much thought goes into a comment from a
politician. Sometimes they speak without deliberation and say something
brilliant. And sometimes they speak without thinking and say something we
call a gaffe.
But having paid attention to Secretary Clinton over these recent
months, watch her discipline, see how she keeps her own counsel and the
preparation I assume she`s making for a presidential run, I don`t think she
made this grandmother reference blindly. Someone, smart ones, said that if
a politician doesn`t define himself or herself early, his enemies well.
Secretary Clinton is letting it be known that she`s proud of her position
and her family and her generation, and in her country, and she knows its
I take what she said very seriously. I mean that in a political
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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