Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 02/09/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Joining the war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Tonight, news from the war front. Jordan has carried out 56 air strikes
against ISIS since one of its pilots was shown being burned alive by the
group itself. In the north, Kurdish forces are taking it to them on the
ground, and there`s talk of the Iraqi army actually launching a major
counteroffensive against ISIS in the coming weeks.
Are these signs the first good ones that the long-sought Arab alliance
against the horrors of ISIS is starting to take shape? NBC`s Keir Simmons
joins me now from Amman, Jordan. Keir, that`s my question, starting with
the Jordanians. How strong an attack are they mounting? How long will
they sustain it?
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re definitely mounting a
strong attack, Chris. I mean, this has been a sustained air offensive over
many, many days. They describe themselves, frankly, as pounding ISIS
positions, hitting their fuel depots, hitting their ammunition depots, and
they say they are depleting ISIS forces.
They`re also very proud that they believe that (SOUND DROP-OUT) the UAE
could get substantially involved. We saw UAE F-16s and UAE f-16 pilots
alongside Jordanian F-16 pilots just today on a (SOUND DROP-OUT) so they do
think that they are making a real difference depleting ISIS by 20 percent,
they claim. But as you rightly suggest, the question then (SOUND DROP-OUT)
will lead that ground offensive and how effective it can really be, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, Keir, one Jordanian general told you, I hear, that the
leader of ISIS is frightened. Let`s listen to that conversation right
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have assets all in the air for (INAUDIBLE) of
target, like al Baghdadi and his gang.
SIMMONS: In your view, he`s frightened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt about it.
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s always going to be doubt about the ability of
anybody over there to defeat ISIS, but now there seem to be signs that –
the Kurds, of course, are fighting on the ground against them. The Iraqi
army, we`re told, may go into action in some kind of counteroffensive.
Is it possible – I notice that they`re no longer parading around in the
black suits, on the armored personnel carriers, riding around with their
banners, you know, just showing off their ability not to get hit. Are they
afraid of air strikes now and potential ground attacks, ISIS?
SIMMONS: Oh, yes, they`re afraid of air strikes. They would be crazy if
they weren`t afraid of air strikes. I mean, you can say many of them are
crazy, but you know, they are in hiding. That`s certainly going to be the
case, and moving around. And the Jordanians believe that al Baghdadi has
moved from Iraq back over to Syria to try and stay out of the way.
But when it comes to a ground offensive, I mean, that is likely to be led
by the Iraqi army. Already, we know that the Kurds are complaining that
they don`t have enough resources, and when it comes to the Iraqi army
(SOUND DROP-OUT) that withdrew–
MATTHEWS: OK. We lost – we lost that. It was a great reporting there.
Thank you, Keir Simmons, who`s in Jordan, in Amman, Jordan, right now.
I`m joined right now by Michael Kay, international affairs correspondent
and a former senior British officer, and Andrew Liepman, who`s the former
deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He`s with the
Rand Corporation now.
Gentlemen, let`s start with this. Do we have any word, Andrew, on the life
or death of Kayla Warner – Mueller?
ANDREW LIEPMAN, FMR. DEPUTY DIR. CIA COUNTERTERRORISM CTR.: No, I think,
sadly, only ISIS really knows what her fate is. I think it`s pretty clear
but highly doubtful that she was killed in a Jordanian air strike. It
seems even hard to figure out why ISIS would announce that she was dead if
she`s not. But I mean, it`s way too early. There`s no proof of it either
way. So I think we just have to wait.
MATTHEWS: Is it possible she was killed by them as an execution, but they
wanted to make it look like the result of a Jordanian air strike to get a
double whammy situation there?
LIEPMAN: Sure. It`s pretty clear to me that ISIS wouldn`t know if it was
a Jordanian air strike or some other air strike. I think it was pure
propaganda. I wouldn`t trust that at all. But the fact that they
announced that she was killed, you know, is meaningful, and we just have to
wait for more word.
MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary of State John Kerry said on “MEET THE PRESS”
yesterday that while there is a lot more to do in the fight against ISIS,
the coalition is making progress. Well, this is good news, I guess. Let`s
listen to the secretary of state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have already seen – I mean, here`s
what`s happened. Twenty-two percent of the populated areas that they held
have been taken back already, and that`s without launching what we would
call a major offensive. It`s with the efforts of the Iraqi army as it`s
being retrained and standing up again.
We have taken out a significant proportion of the top leadership of ISIS.
Their command and control facilities have been attacked, interrupting their
command and control. They no longer can communicate the way they were as
openly. They no longer travel in convoys the way they were as openly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michael Kay, assess those comments. They`re relatively positive
about the building of the anti-war – anti-ISIS campaign by the surrounding
of states, including Iraq and the Kurds and now the Jordanians coming on
strong. Is there reason for optimism that they actually could challenge
ISIS and maybe begin to peel it back?
MICHAEL KAY, FMR. SENIOR BRITISH OFFICER: Yes, Chris, the parlance that`s
being used there is quite conventional in terms of the way that they`re
measuring effect. They`re talking about it in terms of territory and–
MATTHEWS: Right. I heard it, 22 percent. Yes.
KAY: Yes. So I think we`ve got to be very guarded about that. I`ve been
involved in quite a few campaigns now where one of the biggest problems is
the measurement effect across all aspects of what, say, for example,
military air strikes will do.
When we say military air strikes, I think we need to be a bit more
specific. The term that the Brits and the Americans are using is called
dynamic targeting, and that`s a synergy between using precision-guided
weapons such as 500-pound GPS on laser-guided bombs, and they synergize
that with what`s called time-sensitive targeting intelligence, so Predators
and aircraft that are listening. And when they see something or hear
something that requires very expeditious action, they`ll call in one of
these jets from the CASBAC (ph), a close air support stack (ph), and
they`ll go in and they`ll strike it.
But the measurement of effect is really hard to gauge. Short term, it`s a
little bit simpler. They do something called BDA, bomb damage assessment.
They`ll go back, they`ll look at the tapes, and if they`re using a
precision-guided weapon to take out a convoy, they`ll look at how much of
the convoy has been depleted.
But longer term, it`s much harder because longer term, things like
collateral come into play and it`s much harder to gauge and measure
collateral. And what I mean by that is, if, for example, a school was hit
or civilians were hit, because the ramifications of hitting civilians and
collateral means that they will be able to recruit more.
So it`s kind of counterproductive if you`re taking out a convoy of 10 ISIS
militants and you then go and recruit 50 as a consequence of your actions.
So I think we need to be a little bit cleverer about the measurement of
effect that we`re using.
MATTHEWS: The net effect. Anyway, U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul, the
chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said this weekend that Arab
countries may have finally been galvanized to fight ISIS. Here he is with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I believe the air strikes have been
limited, had limited success. It`s a policy of containment, not a policy
to degrade and destroy the enemy. I think, if anything, the lighting on
fire of this Jordanian pilot will now galvanize, I hope, the Arab nations
to fight ISIS. I think that under U.S. leadership, if we could galvanize
these Arab nations, Sunni Arabs against Sunni extremists, ISIS in Syria,
that would be the ideal.
MATTHEWS: Andrew, I think that most Americans, including me, that the way
we look at ISIS is U.S. interests and whether any Americans are getting
executed over there in the horrific ways or whatever ways they choose to
execute our people after humiliating them. And my question is, how – even
if they reduce the territory by a fifth, as the secretary of state just
said yesterday, that doesn`t stop their ability to just – to stage these
horrific executions, does it.
LIEPMAN: No. That`s a really important point. And I think, clearly, we
are better off now than we were the day we started launching the strikes.
ISIS is weaker. They`ve lost people. They`ve lost equipment. They`ve
lost some territory. But it`s way too soon to either declare a victory or
to start beating our chests.
ISIS is still dangerous. They`re still a threat not just to the region and
to the residents of the territory that they control, but let`s not forget
they`re encouraging people in our own country, in France, and across the
Muslim world to attack civilians where they are. Just today, they put out
another very effective, very snazzy piece of social media doing just that.
So they`re still a force to be reckoned with. They`re dangerous. And
let`s not get ahead ourselves.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at that video today. It features,
apparently, a British hostage, a journalist, John Cantlie. He`s been
featured in multiple videos from ISIS. He`s last known Western hostage of
ISIS. Let`s watch a bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CANTLIE, ISIS HOSTAGE: Hello, I`m John Cantlie in the last film in
this series. We`re in a city that has been at the heart of the fighting
since summer 2012.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do we make of this thing? Is this – what would you call
this, Michael Kay? Would you call this, you know, Tokyo Rose kind of
thing, where the enemy is using someone or with the – how do we measure it
from here, what role that person speaking there had and the words he`s
speaking, the freedom he had?
KAY: Chris, I think it`s significant, and the reason for that is one of
ISIS`s critical capabilities is the ability to reach out across the world
through social media and through galvanizing the Western media and infect
and therefore recruit. Now, John Cantlie is the last in a long series of
Western hostages, whether it be journalists or whether it be aid workers.
And so they will have to leverage this last man that they have in order to-
MATTHEWS: OK, just to get–
KAY: – keep galvanizing that–
MATTHEWS: – it clear. Just to get it clear. He is saying words that
he`s being ordered to use. He is a prisoner in every way. He is probably
fearful of what they`re going to do with him, so we shouldn`t assume any
cooperation by him beyond the formal cooperation we`re seeing on the tape.
KAY: No, absolutely, Chris. I mean, you`ve got to – I mean – I mean, I
can`t even begin to put myself in John Cantlie`s shoes. His number one
priority is waking up every morning and maintaining the – and making sure
that he keeps alive for another day. And he will be doing everything to
Now, I mean, we can speculate on whether he`s suffering from Stockholm
syndrome or just how much duress he`s under, but the bottom line for John
Cantlie is that the longer is he can stay alive, then the greater the
chances are of potentially some sort of rescue taking place.
Now, it works both ways. As long as he`s useful in spreading that message
to (ph) ISIS, then, hopefully, he`ll stay alive. But as long as we keep
watching the videos and they keep building up, you know, hundreds if not
thousands of views on YouTube, that`s useful to ISIS. But the time that
that stops happenin is the time I fear for my life if I was John Cantlie.
KAY: But every day he wakes up, he is looking to live another 24 hours,
and we should not underestimate the duress that that poor man is under.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s the great irony here, that to the extent he
convinces people that he`s really part of the ISIS push, he stays alive.
To the extent they realize, as they should, that it`s all phony, that he
doesn`t want to do any more than save his life, it probably doesn`t suit
their purposes, then they knock him off. It`s a horrible situation.
KAY: Absolutely is.
MATTHEWS: And they`re manipulatively (ph) evil.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Michael Kay, and thank you, Andrew Liepman for
joining – both of you gentlemen.
Coming up, the big split in the Republic Party over war and what to do with
ISIS. On one side, you`ve got hawks like McCain, especially Lindsey Graham
these days, who want all options on the table in the fight against ISIS.
On the other end, you`ve got doves like Rand Paul. Even Ted Cruz finds
himself somewhere in the middle this time.
But are any of them willing to honestly say that based on everything we
know now, the war in Iraq was a smart move for this country in the first
place? I think that`s still a critical question in (ph) their thinking.
Plus, a constitutional showdown over marriage equality. Chief Justice Roy
Moore of Alabama, the Alabama supreme court – remember the guy with the 10
Commandments on display – is telling judges not to issue marriage licenses
to same-sex couples down there in Alabama, this after a federal district
judge ruled that the state`s ban on gay marriage violates the U.S.
Constitution, a battle of constitutions and judges right now.
We`ll look at the fallout, by the way, still from President Obama`s speech
at last week`s Prayer Breakfast. Mike Huckabee says the only group
President Obama will unflinchingly support are Muslims, not Christians or
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with my response to Judge Silverman`s (ph) –
Lawrence Silverman`s (ph) piece in today`s “Wall Street journal.” I don`t
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Jeb Bush has a small edge in the latest poll from New
Hampshire. The former Florida governor is at 16 percent among likely
Republican primary voters, according to a new Bloomberg poll. Rand Paul is
second with 13, which is pretty close. Scott Walker is in third with 12
percent, right up there. And Chris Christie`s fourth at 10 percent. They
are very well bunched.
The trouble for Jeb, of course, is that he`s viewed favorably by 35 percent
of general election voters in New Hampshire while 50 percent of New
Hampshire general election voters in November have an unfavorable view of
him. So it doesn`t look like a great prospect to beat Hillary Clinton up
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, roughly two dozen Republicans
are considering White House bids in 2016. That`s 24. But four of them
currently serve in the U.S. Senate and will be involved in shaping an
authorization for use of military force in the war against ISIS. They`ll
have to vote on it. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of
Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky are all staking out
diverging positions in what Politico calls the Republican Party`s 2016 war
primary. Interesting point there, war primary.
Lindsey Graham says he wants more boots on the ground not only in Iraq, but
in Syria, too. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You`re going to need boots on the
ground not only in Iraq but Syria. And there`s got to be some regional
force formed with an American component somewhere around 10,000, I think,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, on that authorization question, Rubio – Senator Rubio
told Politico that, “We shouldn`t be dictating in legislation, you can do
this, but you can`t do that. You can go here, but you can`t go there. I
think it should be broad enough to allow him, the president, latitude in
choosing the tactics, the method, the timing, et cetera. That`s not just
President Obama, it`s future commanders-in-chief.” So he`s pretty far
Ted Cruz, surprisingly here, comes down somewhere in the middle. He
doesn`t go as far as Graham in terms of hawkishness, doesn`t say we need
boots on the ground yet. But instead, we should arm the neighboring Kurds,
which is a middle-of-the road position. Here he is, Ted Cruz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I don`t believe right now we need American boots
on the ground, and the reason is we have boots on the ground already with
the Kurds. We need to arm the Kurds, and we need to use the Peshmerga as
boots on the ground–
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, and Rand Paul, who is skeptical generally of American
involvement in foreign wars, says the 2000 invasion of Iraq was a mistake
and has been called an – he`s been called an isolationist by the most
hawkish Lindsey Graham types.
Anyway, in the defense, or absence of a formal debate over our mission to
topple ISIS, Paul introduced an official declaration of war back in
December which sets an expiration date of one year, a sell-buy date for
U.S. involvement. He also warned about getting more involved in that
region of the world at all. Here he is with his statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We need to stay the heck out of their civil
war! As ISIS grows stronger or they`re not quelled by sending arms to
feckless allies in Syria, then what happens? Then they come back again and
again. There`s already the drumbeat. There`s already those in both
parties who insist that we must have American GIs on the ground.
I`m not sending any American soldiers. I`m not sending your son, your
daughter or mine, over to the middle of that chaos!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, same-sex marriage is not the only area of policy where
Americans gradually change their minds, as you see here.
And the mind of the Republican Party seems to be somewhere different than
it was back, say, eight years ago.
We have got joining us now Ron Christie, a favored guest here, former aide
to Vice President Dick Cheney – or Cheney, I prefer.
MATTHEWS: And Mercedes Schlapp, who is a former press spokesman for the
Bush White House.
Which Bush White House was that? The W.?
MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Forty-three.
RON CHRISTIE, FORMER ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Forty-three.
MATTHEWS: Too young to be the other one.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you.
Let me ask you about this, since you`re both Republicans. Let me tell you,
the way I see it is, Rand Paul is over here on the more isolationist
MATTHEWS: Leave them alone, let them fight their own fights is what he
On the usual, on the more traditional hawkish position of the Republican
Party, which is establishment, old-time thinking, get in there, take them
on, get the bad guys, whether they`re communists, whoever they are, get
them, terrorists, fight them, and don`t hold your arms back and say, oh, we
can`t do boots on the ground, keep everything on the table, and then the
other guys are in the middle. They`re just in the middle.
And even Ted Cruz surprisingly sheepish about saying let`s go to war again.
Your thoughts? Analyze it.
SCHLAPP: Well, here you go.
I think let`s take Lindsey Graham out of the picture. I know he was
mentioned in this political story. But he has a very small likelihood of
even winning the Republican primaries. So, he can run all he wants in this
aggressive foreign policy area.
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing it, though, before you dump him?
SCHLAPP: I think it`s a way of him getting the media coverage that he
wants. He`s the one that being the anti-Obama of the Republicans, saying
go, go strong and win.
SCHLAPP: Then you have got Senator Marco Rubio. He`s trying to approach
it from a Reaganesque point of view, the peace through strength.
He does fall into the hawkish area, but he`s also trying to be a little
more from the sense of just keeping it open, giving the president the
authority he needs to–
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to constrain the president.
Senator Cruz, the most surprising out of the bunch. Right?
MATTHEWS: Mr. Hawk.
SCHLAPP: You would think he would jump in there. So, that`s the one that
he`s basically saying, I don`t trust President Obama, I want to make sure
that we don`t give him the authority to do what he needs to do.
And so he`s – and this is more of a fight I think personally with
MATTHEWS: I`m going to let them all speak for themselves. But you now
take your turn.
Analyze the field, from hawk, super hawk, Curtis LeMay hawk, all the way
back over to Ron Paul, dove.
CHRISTIE: Well, I think Mercedes was largely correct in her analysis here.
I think you have a situation where, I hate to say it, Lindsey Graham is
looking for attention. Lindsey Graham wants the limelight. Lindsey Graham
wants everyone looking at him. He wakes up every day and he thinks he
should be president. I don`t see the path any more than Mercedes does.
MATTHEWS: But isn`t he kind of a war buddy, if you will, of John McCain?
CHRISTIE: Well, of course. Those two are attached at the hip.
MATTHEWS: He was your party`s nominee recently.
CHRISTIE: It`s been a long time ago, Chris.
But let`s look at the more serious contenders.
MATTHEWS: Well, what has changed since `08?
CHRISTIE: I think what`s changed since `08 is that the folks in the United
States Senate are very concerned about sending Americans overseas and
putting them in harm`s way and putting them on the ground.
SCHLAPP: It`s a war-wary nation.
SCHLAPP: They don`t want another war. You look at all the poll numbers.
You`re talking that over 54 percent oppose sending troops into the Middle
East, in that area. And, you know, over 60 percent believe that, yes, we
need to do something against ISIS, but definitely no troops on the ground.
MATTHEWS: What is it that we can do? We have got the Jordanians fired up,
which I`m so impressed with. There`s nothing like a little revenge.
We came back from Pearl Harbor saying, let`s go get those guys. Remember
the Alamo? It`s a good thing to get you fighting as you have been hit
hard. So they`re ready to fight. The Kurds always want to fight, because
they want to be Kurds and defend their territory.
But do you have confidence in the Iraqis? This is a great Republican
question, because somebody`s got to do the ground troops
Saint Louis That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Somebody`s got to produce ground troops.
CHRISTIE: That`s right. And I will tell you who it has to be. It has to
be the Iraqis. It has to be the Saudis.
You see the United Arab Emirates are sending over a squadron of F-16s.
They have to deal with their region, Chris. And I think one of the things,
when you look to 2016, of what is this election going to be about, yes,
it`s going to be about the economy. But I think there are going to be
three main drives in foreign policy. What are we going to do with ISIS?
What are we going to do with Iran? What are we going to do with Russia?
CHRISTIE: The United States has to be able to act and to react to those
MATTHEWS: Well, hopefully, hopefully Iran has been dealt with. But I`m
not that hopeful. But I`m hopeful.
SCHLAPP: See, Ron, I don`t think that the grassroots, the Republicans in
particular are thinking about what`s happening in Ukraine. I don`t think
that that is their main thing.
They are concerned I believe about the ISIS situation, what`s happening. I
think that`s really driving–
MATTHEWS: I think Ukraine is a long way off. By the way, Ukraine has got
to learn that it`s next to Russia.
SCHLAPP: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: It`s a weird situation to be in. I`m not saying Finlandize
yourself, but, damn it, you`re not going to take on Russia and beat them.
SCHLAPP: And I will tell you, things will change if there`s an attack on
U.S. soil. That will change the dynamics of a presidential election.
MATTHEWS: Let`s not – let`s not pray for that to happen.
SCHLAPP: And let`s pray that does not happen.
MATTHEWS: Although I think there`s going to be trouble. And every
execution drives me crazy.
CHRISTIE: That`s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: And I think it drives–
CHRISTIE: We need a strategy.
MATTHEWS: And still I hate – I will not look at the tape of what happened
to that flier. I will not even look at the beginning of the tape. It`s
MATTHEWS: Ron Christie, my friend, thank you.
Mercedes, like the car.
SCHLAPP: Like the car.
MATTHEWS: Stop charging so much for repairs.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thanks so much.
Up next: President Obama`s body man, Reggie Love, has spent more time with
the president than just about anyone besides his family. He`s with us
tonight to talk about the president`s sort of basic behavior. When he gets
to the hotel room at night, what`s he like? I ask him everything. This is
going to be fun.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, for five years, Reggie Love distinguished himself as Barack Obama`s
body man, spending more time alongside the senator and then president than
any other aide.
While the role has no formal title or description, it`s commonly described
as a full-time personal assistant who stays one step behind the candidate,
but has to think and act three steps ahead of a typical 18-hour workday.
It was that job that made Love a unique eyewitness to history and now he`s
written a memoir about his experience, “Power Forward,” what a great name,
“My Presidential Education.”
Well, taking readers from his time at Duke at a basketball – on the team
there in basketball, to the earliest days on the Obama campaign, to the
corridors inside the White House during the president`s first term, “Power
Forward” is part coming of age story and part how-to manual detailing the
personal and professional lessons he picked up along the way.
I`m joined right now by the author Reggie Love, former special assistant
and personal aide to President Obama.
So, you have asked for it. And it`s in the book. So, I`m not going into
weird areas here.
The president, when he was traveling as a candidate, and later on as
president, what did he want to find in his room at night when he got there?
Probably 11:00 at night, he`s exhausted. What made him happy? What did he
miss if it wasn`t there? Cookies and milk? A book he was reading? What
did he like to have in the room when he got there?
REGGIE LOVE, AUTHOR, “POWER FORWARD: MY PRESIDENTIAL EDUCATION”: Well, let
me tell you, though–
MATTHEWS: Oh, you not answering my question? This is HARDBALL. That was
the first question, Reggie. Answer that question, number one.
LOVE: During the campaign
MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re changing the subject already.
LOVE: During the campaign – I`m going to break into it two.
During the campaign, I would say, you work 18 hours in a day. The thing
that you really just want is, you want a bed and you want, like, a bed
that`s made and clean, like, very, very, very basic.
But when you`re president, I think it really depends. I mean, there were
some nights where he`d want to play some cards or he would want to sit
around and watch the game and have some chips or something. But during the
campaign, if you`re working all day, you don`t really – you`re not
thinking about comfort food. You`re just thinking about trying to get to
MATTHEWS: So, he didn`t need cookies and milk?
LOVE: No cookies and milk.
MATTHEWS: What about ESPN? Did you have to find out what channel it was
on for him and turn the channel on?
LOVE: That was a part of it, yes.
MATTHEWS: He wanted to see the ball game when he came in the room.
LOVE: You had to know what channel ESPN was. That was always – that was
kind of a must.
MATTHEWS: How about breakfast in bed? Did he like that? Like in “Downton
Abbey”? Did you bring the tray in?
LOVE: Well, I`ll tell you, though, he was an avid – he loved to work out,
man. I was really impressed with–
MATTHEWS: OK. First thing, because I have written books about this. Jack
Kennedy, his guy Dave Powers would come in, in the morning and say open up
the blinds, open up the curtains, get the sun in. Make him get up and say,
Nixon has been out there way ahead. He`s done three stops already.
MATTHEWS: Did you have to do any pumping up of the candidate, like say,
it`s a big day, get out there?
LOVE: There were some times where you would have to say, man, Romney or
Clinton, they have called 20 people already today. They`re on their second
or third stop.
MATTHEWS: There you are walking with him in a great picture.
LOVE: If there were ever a moment in which he felt like maybe the thing
that he was about to do wasn`t really worth the time, you could definitely
nudge him along a bit with a little bit of – with the–
MATTHEWS: What was his – what was his first quiz? Like, what`s our first
stop today, Reggie? Where are we going first? Why do we have to get up
LOVE: Yes. That`s not the first question. That`s the question the night
LOVE: And then he would ask the question again during the day, what do we
got again? Just in case anything may have changed. But, you know, what
cities are we in?
MATTHEWS: Where am I?
MATTHEWS: Did he say, where am I?
LOVE: And, you know, I would always try to mix it up a bit and say, you
know, here`s what`s going to be really fun today.
MATTHEWS: Good for you. I like people that – I like producers that do
that for me.
LOVE: Yes. Right.
MATTHEWS: So, did he – would you say his equilibrium is like – I`m not
like this. But I want to describe some people I know. They`re pretty much
the same person every day. Then there are people that have highs and lows.
And they`re – wrong side of the bed is the phrase, out of the wrong side
of the bed.
How would you describe him in that way, President Obama?
LOVE: I think that – I think he`s pretty even-keel.
But I think there are definitely days – and you probably have some
yourself, Chris – when you wake up and you`re just like – you`re tired.
MATTHEWS: I would say things are working, like, some days things seem to
work – seems to me to be working, and some days they don`t seem to be
working. It`s just the luck.
But I argue about whether to go through this door to my workroom or that
room to my bed – I always argue about things like, should I walk around
that side of the car to get the paper?
LOVE: Oh, really? Sort of superstition, like–
MATTHEWS: No, I want to know whether to go to right side of the car to get
my paper or not to go to that side. But I have all these – they`re like
moral issues with me. So, that`s a point.
By the way, this book, why should you buy this book? What`s it going to
tell people, like, at your age and your – it`s a trainer book in a way
about life in it. Tell me about why they should buy this book, because i
love this stuff.
LOVE: A lot of – if you read the book, a lot of people will take
different things out of it depending on their age group.
When I initially wrote the book, I was kind of thinking of what it was like
for me when I was mid-teens, late 20s – mid-teens, early 20s, and trying
to figure out, what am I going to do, why am I going to do it? I came to -
- when I got to Duke University, there was no sort of manual about, how are
you going to be a college athlete?
MATTHEWS: You couldn`t get into UNC, right?
LOVE: You know, they wouldn`t–
MATTHEWS: Was that your problem?
LOVE: I think they said that I could only play one sport. And neither –
and it wasn`t football or basketball.
MATTHEWS: At UNC?
LOVE: At UNC.
MATTHEWS: Congratulations on the book. By the way, it`s going to be –
this is fun. This is the kind of stuff I call food for junkies. This is
It`s “Power Forward,” a great name, a great title, “My Presidential
Education.” So, now we know what it`s like to be there, to be there in the
LOVE: Well, it`s a blessing to have had the opportunity. And I appreciate
MATTHEWS: Has he read it?
LOVE: He has read it, actually. He said it was an easy read and he
thought he was – he said he thought it was kind.
MATTHEWS: Did you test him, make sure he read it?
LOVE: I didn`t test him.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Reggie Love. Thanks for coming on the show too.
LOVE: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate that.
MATTHEWS: Up next, a constitutional showdown over marriage equality.
Alabama`s chief justice, Roy Moore, remember him, is taking on the feds
over the right to same-sex marriage. And it looks like he`s losing.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I`m Milissa Rehberger.
The city of Boston has just suspended all rail service until Wednesday,
after today`s storm has already dumped 20 inches of snow. Earlier today, a
disabled train left some 50 passengers stranded for more than two hours.
And more trouble lies ahead. Forecasters say two major storms could hit
the Northeast later on this week.
Meanwhile, in Chicago area, a 14th person has died from shoveling snow
after one of the city`s worst storms ever.
And, in Texas, a jury has been seated in the trial of a man accused of
killing so-called American sniper Chris Kyle and his friend – back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, this morning, in a 7-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court
refused to stop same-sex couples from getting married in Alabama, this
after Alabama`s chief justice, Roy Moore, ordered probate judges in that
state to not issue licenses to same-sex couples. Presently, there`s a lot
of confusion in Alabama right now.
What is going on?
NBC News correspondent Pete Williams is here to explain it.
Pete, it looked confusing in the morning. Help us out.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s right.
There are about – only about a third of these judges are actually issuing
the marriage licenses after the state Supreme Court justice said they have
to obey the Alabama Constitution. Now, he`s certainly right. They do.
But they also have to obey the federal Constitution.
And a couple of weeks ago, a federal judge says, under the U.S.
Constitution, the state cannot ban same-sex marriages. Now, already,
lawyers for same-sex couples have tried to hold – get the federal court to
hold those judges in contempt of court. The court said no, but did
indicate that it`s – these judges who refuse to issue these licenses can
now be sued.
So if you`re Ted Olson right now or Ted Boutrous or you`re David Boies, are
you pretty happy at the direction this seems to be pointing, where the
court`s headed this summer?
WILLIAMS: Well, yes, and for two reasons.
First, the Supreme Court today declined the state of Alabama`s request to
put a hold on that ruling until the Supreme Court decides the same-sex
marriage question for the entire country, which it will hear in April and
decide by June. So you have got to assume that, if the Supreme Court said,
no, we`re not going to put a stay on Alabama, why, you would ask yourself -
- if the Supreme Court is going to go ahead and approve same-sex marriage,
why would it stop it in Alabama now? That`s thing one.
And thing two, just listen to what Thomas and Scalia said today in their
dissent. They said the court seems to be tipping its hand. It seemed to
be foreshadowing this decision. Yes, for those two reasons.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, as always great. Pete Williams, you made it clear.
I`m joined by the roundtable tonight. Jamelle Bouie of “Slate”, Emily
Schultheis of “National Journal”, and “The Huffington Post” global expert
on everything, Howard Fineman, great guy on this show. Thank you for
everything, MSNBC expertise.
Let`s go to you, Howard, because you –
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: This is fascinating. It could be history could be made this
summer. This seems to be a leading indicator that the courts are going to
go with the right to same sex marriage.
FINEMAN: Yes. I think that politically, culturally, and pretty soon
legally, constitutionally, this is going to be settled. I think it`s
clear. There are 37 states now including Alabama that allow same-sex
marriage. As Clarence Thomas said, not happily, it looks like this is
where the court`s headed. I think the Republican Party, I think most
conservatives, I think most people in the country have accepted that this
MATTHEWS: I agree.
FINEMAN: It`s all too easy to make the comparison to Alabama now to
Alabama of the time of Selma. You`ve got some counties in Alabama. There
are 67 counties. Maybe 2/3 of them are going to resist. It`s going to be
MATTHEWS: Like in Virginia.
FINEMAN: To the end.
FINEMAN: But then when the Supreme Court speaks for the whole country,
which they`re going to do by June, I think it will all be over. It will
all be over, settled politically.
MATTHEWS: What a reality. You know, Howard and I have gone through this.
Nobody ever thought this was going to happen in the country, that the
courts would rule this way. But the laws of political physics are,
Jamelle, there`s always a reaction.
JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE: Right.
MATTHEWS: And I expect the Republican Party that always does this grabs
the reaction. They don`t like civil rights, they don`t like women`s
rights, they don`t like something, they go for the people who were
disaffected by that. Do you think –
MATTHEWS: Is Huckabee going to jump on this baby and say we have to get
BOUIE: I think so. I think this is going to be a really divisive item in
the Republican primary, because you`ll have your Jeb Bushes and your Marco
Rubios and your Chris Christies saying this is a settled issue, we`re done
here, let`s move on. But your Mike Huckabees, your Bobby Jindals, maybe
even your Scott Walkers will say, no, we represent millions of Americans
who don`t want this –
MATTHEWS: Is that a good general election strategy or only a good primary
BOUIE: I don`t know if it`s a good general election strategy but it
certainly is a very good primary strategy.
MATTHEWS: Your view of this thing? Emily?
EMILY SCHULTHEIS, NATIONAL JOURNAL: We saw kind of an early indicator of
this when it was announced that the Supreme Court was going to take this
issue on in the first place. You saw some Republican candidates either
saying something noncommittal, choosing not to talk about it, choosing not
to bring it up, and then you saw others who really immediately came out
against it. And so, that seems to be where the battle lines are going to
be going forward.
MATTHEWS: What`s interesting is, for all the years growing up, people on
the right, center right would have a problem with the Supreme Court making
5-4 decisions. You can`t just decide the future of the universe with 5-4
decisions. It`s too arbitrary.
And yet the public, I don`t hear it yet, but I`m sure Huckabee will try to
stir it up. The people didn`t vote for same-sex marriage. But the polls
show they`re for it, right? They don`t go into voting booth and say,
change the whole notion of marriage to include same-sex. But they seem to
be open to it in all the polling.
FINEMAN: What passes for the accomplishment of the Republican Party has
said enough, we`re going to accept this. As a matter of fact, the federal
judge who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage is a George W. Bush
appointee. Her family is from Virginia. She`s from the sort of ruling
class of the Republican Party in the South.
MATTHEWS: Bourbons (ph).
FINEMAN: Excuse me?
FINEMAN: Yes, exactly. And Judge Moore represents the rural counties. He
was a military police officer in Vietnam. They called him Captain America.
The Vietnamese, the American soldiers did.
And so, it`s a culture clash. But I think to the extent that the
Republican Party is dragged against the mainstream here in the Iowa
caucuses, which is what`s going to happen by the Huckabees of the world,
it`s going to not only divide the Republican Party, it`s going to have the
Republican Party fighting a culture war that they`ve lost.
FINEMAN: They have to understand that they`ve lost this. You talk to any
shrewd Republican strategist and they`ll tell you, we got to get past this.
MATTHEWS: Emily, it seems to me you get down to it`s not a political issue
whether you`re gay or not. You don`t decide based on party line what you
are. I mean, we have cases of transgender stuff going on now, it was
always closeted before. And now, you have to people who are conservatives
who have – Senator Portman, people like that have gay people in the
family. You have people like Dick Cheney. It`s a reality in our being.
You know, I`m sort of a nature, not nurture – may be a part of both. It`s
just amazing how it`s just gone into the families of the country
politically left and right and challenged them to think again.
SCHULTHEIS: Right. That`s something, like you say is, when people have
personal experience with this, sometimes that changes their minds even if
they had a strongly held opinion before and Senator Portman is a prime
example of that. As gay marriage becomes more accepted in all these
states, this is something that`s a reality for a majority of Americans.
MATTHEWS: How does Republican – last question to you, Jamelle. How does
the Republican Party stick to its platform? And ride a plats form plank –
I know it`s old time to talk about platforms. You say you`re going to
fight them. To say we`re for traditional marriage, blah, blah, blah, and
against – for the sanctity, and the wordage they put in that says we`re
against same sex.
MATTHEWS: How do they run on that?
BOUIE: I`m not sure they do. I think they may have to just kind of
pretend like it`s not fair, right?
MATTHEWS: Will they get rid of it? Will they strike it?
BOUIE: I think they might put something like we really think this should
be decided by the states, not the federal government. These are decisions
MATTHEWS: I see.
BOUIE: And then they kind of (INAUDIBLE) about it.
MATTHEWS: So, they go to a safe position.
MATTHEWS: Doesn`t seem to threaten anybody. In other words, we`re not
going to do anything.
Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
Up next, Mike Huckabee takes his turn driving the right wing clown car. He
says President Obama`s against Christians and Jews, did you notice? And
only supports Muslims.
Would he say that about a white guy? That`s my question.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, President Obama`s speaking out today against domestic
violence. He did it in last night, actually, in a public service
announcement. A PSA during the live broadcast of the Grammy Awards. Here
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s on us, all of us, to
create a culture where violence isn`t tolerated, where survivors are
supported, and where all our young people, men and women, can go as far as
their talents and their dreams will take them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The president said artists have a unique power to change
attitudes in this country that set a positive example.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back and Mike Huckabee has been on a roll lately.
He complained of trashy women in New York who swore, he picked on Beyonce,
and Obama is in his book.
Well, today, he took a step further on “Fox and Friends” when he criticized
President Obama`s speech at last week`s prayer breakfast, where the
president condemned ISIS. But also reminded us that Christians had the
Crusades – well, here is Huckabee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Everything he does is against
what Christian`s stand for, and he is against the Jews in Israel. The one
group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support
would be the Muslim community. And it doesn`t matter if it is the radical
Muslim community or the more moderate Muslim community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m back with the roundtable, Jamelle, Emily and Howard.
I contend, I repeat my contention, he wouldn`t say that about a white guy.
They`re still playing this Obama is a Muslim number, that`s what they`re
playing. And they`re shameless, your thoughts?
BOUIE: I don`t know –
MATTHEWS: What else does he mean?
BOUIE: I`m not sure that Huckabee is saying Obama is a Muslim. I think
what he`s saying is Obama is a Muslim lover. And you think –
MATTHEWS: A Muslim lover, there is a familiar ring to it. You Muslim
FINEMAN: Well, this is you know, we used to talk about dog-whistle
politics. This is like fog horn politics. It couldn`t be more blunt.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump must love it when he hears it.
FINEMAN: It couldn`t be more blunt, or it couldn`t be more irresponsible.
But again, he is running for 18 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.
That is all that`s on his mind right now. He`ll worry about the rest of it
later. That is what he is going – for whatever vote there is in Iowa, in
the Republican Congress, that`s what he is going for as well.
MATTHEWS: George W., I didn`t like his war policy, I`ll say so in the end
of the show again. But he was great on saying this is not a religious war,
it`s not an east-west war, it`s a terrorism war.
And, of course, it sits there in the Islamic world, but it is not the
Islamic people. And I think he was really good on that just the same way
Obama is. You have to take the position when you have a portion of your
country which is Muslim. Then, you have to look out for who they are and
respect them. That`s your job as president of the United States.
If you start going up to Muslims, you`re going after American-Muslims.
What does Huckabee – you make a point – he is not after a Muslim vote.
He doesn`t want Muslim support and he doesn`t want to give them respect.
SCHULTHEIS: Well, that`s the interesting about this, is when you talk to
activists in Iowa about why they like Huckabee, a lot of is that, you know,
he is – he talks about their issues but he seems like a nice guy. That`s
the thing that I had heard when I was out there a few months.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that term for that smarmy?
SCHULTHEIS: What he is doing now is not being the nice guy.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s one, I want to get another tribute to Republican I
do respect, in 2008, in his race against Obama, John McCain showed some
class when an audience member wrongly criticized the president.
Let`s watch this great moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t trust Obama. I have read about him and he is
not – he is an Arab. He is not –
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, ma`am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
MCCAIN: No, ma`am. He is a decent, family-man, a citizen, that I just
happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that`s what
this campaign is all about. He is not. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That is a godly moment, an American moment.
FINEMAN: No, I think it was great. I think it was great. And the
MATTHEWS: And he was fighting from behind at that point.
FINEMAN: He was behind and he was conducting an act of statesmanship
there, knowing where the race was headed as well – that is true.
MATTHEWS: Jamelle Bouie, thank you for coming on. Emily, thank you for
coming. And Howard Fineman, as always.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: When we return, let me finish with my response to Judge
Silberman`s piece in today`s “Wall Street Journal”. It`s about how we went
to war in Iraq and it`s the truth.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
Tonight`s “Wall Street Journal” has an article by Judge Laurence Silberman
that needs to be rebutted and done so directly. The column is written as a
challenge to those in the press who say President George W. Bush lied us
into the war with Iraq. The judge offers his views as someone who served
on the commission that looked into the U.S. intelligence prior to the 2003
I should open by quoting a line from “Lawrence of Arabia.” It`s directed
at Lawrence himself in that film, who had convinced Arabs not fully
believing it, that they would have independence once the war against the
Turks have been won.
Quote, “A man who tells lies like me,” the British diplomat in the film
says, “merely hides the truth, but a man who tells half lies as forgotten
where he put it, the truth, that is.”
Many Americans were rightly taken at that time with the Bush-Cheney
argument that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons, and the capability to deliver
them. Go listen to Cheney back then, go listen to Condoleezza Rice, if we
waited to see the smoking gun she warned us, we`d face a mushroom cloud.
But they didn`t have the evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons and they
knew it, so what did they do? They kept saying again and again that Iraq
had, quote, “weapons of mass destruction.” In this way, W. and Cheney got
the American people to buy their war. They never dared say, we should
fight a war because a country had chemical or biological weapons, because
even they knew, the American people wouldn`t have bought. So, they use the
term WMD to sell the nuclear threat without having to prove it existed.
Judge Silberman, what got us into the war wasn`t a lie. It was a much
slicker job than that. It was a half lie used to sell us into a war that
America regrets more than anything in modern history.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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