Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 02/12/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: A war without soldiers?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
President Obama`s got recruitment problems. Doves on the left don`t
want foot soldiers in the war against ISIS. Hawks on the right don`t want
to rule them out. Can we go to war with an enemy America hates with
American politicians refusing even to sign on?
And the Democrats pick Philadelphia, the city of this country`s
founding, to meet in 2016. Can they regain (ph) not just the flag but what
it stands for, equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
We start tonight at the political war front, Capitol Hill, where the
president charges like the light brigade, with cannons on the left of him
and cannons on the right of him.
Senator Angus King is an independent from Maine. Senator, can you
support the president`s call for an authorization of military force to
fight ISIS? Can you support it?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Yes. I want to see the final language,
Chris. There are a lot of issues. It hasn`t gone before the Foreign
Relations Committee, but I think it`s entirely appropriate that the
president has come to us for this authorizations.
And you know, you put your finger on it in the introduction. It`s a
fascinating flipping of the parties, where the Republicans are pushing for
more open-ended authority for the president to act unilaterally, and the
Democrats are calling for more controls. And I think the White House has
tried to define it down the middle with this phrase, “enduring offensive
ground combat operations.”
KING: They`re trying to try to find that middle ground, but it`s a
MATTHEWS: Well, could it also be that politicians on both sides don`t
like to be tied to what could turn out to be a bloody war? They just don`t
want to have their hands on it.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t it a safer position to vote against, no matter what
the war is, a safer – let me ask you about this…
KING: You`re right. You`re right about that.
MATTHEWS: But do you really think the left, the Democratic, dovish
left – there`s some right-wing left, too – dovish side, too, like Rand
Paul. But they really think that Obama is a secret hawk, that he`s going
to take this authority and run with it and start a major land war against
ISIS? Do they really believe that Barack Obama is a secret hawk?
KING: I don`t know…
MATTHEWS: I don`t buy that. I don`t believe they think that.
KING: Listen, within an hour yesterday, I heard both sides of that
debate. I heard Democrats saying the authority he was asking for was too
broad, and a half hour later, Republicans saying it was too narrow. It was
like going down the rabbit hole.
But I think maybe you`re right, Chris, on one point, and that is I
think Congress is much more adept at criticizing and second-guessing than
it is for taking responsibility. And that`s why guys like Tim Kaine and I
have been pushing since last August that this is a constitutional
responsibility. We`re supposed to take this responsibility. The framers
of the Constitution did not want…
KING: … presidents to unilaterally have the power to take us into
MATTHEWS: What word do you want changed, “enduring,” “combat,” what?
Which words? Because that seems to be where it`s hitting (ph), that
phrase. What don`t you like about the word “enduring”? And it seems to be
the problem of the Democrats.
KING: Well, “enduring” – you know, is it enduring for a week, two
weeks or six months? I`m not necessarily uncomfortable with the phrase,
but it needs to be defined. Usually, when terms are used in statutory
language, there`s a history of court cases or prior statutes. This is a
KING: … and I think it`s got to be defined through legislative
history and the committee process.
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the conundrum. The last time the president
was in a situation, he wanted or troops out of Afghanistan by a date
certain, out of Iraq, and he was beat to hell for saying a date. You`re
telling the enemy what day we`re leaving! Now the Congress is saying…
MATTHEWS: … tell us when we`re going in, when we`re coming out. We
don`t like the word “enduring.” We want a date.
KING: Yes, no, and I agree with you. I…
MATTHEWS: Isn`t that an irony?
KING: It is an irony, and I don`t think he should have put the date
on the end of the Afghanistan. I think that is a mistake. But in this
case, they`ve got a day. It says three years. But it says “unless
extended by Congress.” So it`s not really a final date in that sense. If
it were, you know, we`re going to do this in three years and it`s over, I
wouldn`t – I wouldn`t buy that for a minute.
But the fact is, it`s a renewable authorization, if you will, so
Congress has to play its constitutional, responsible role of making these
MATTHEWS: Well, a brand-new NBC poll just out, a Marist poll, of
course, Senator, finds that 54 percent of the American people want Congress
to back President Obama`s authorization against ISIS.
What do you make – what do you think of polls in this case on wars?
Do they endure? I wonder, do they endure?
KING: Well, they change from – you know, there was a, I don`t know,
60, 70 percent against any involvement, and then we had the beheadings last
summer, and it jumped up to 70, 75 percent. So I think they vary from –
according to what`s going on in the field.
But I think, fundamentally, the issue here is, A, do we want to take
these guys on? I think most people agree that we should, that we have to,
that they`re a danger to us and to the entire world. Number two is, should
the president get some kind of congressional authorization to do so? The
answer is yes, in part because it makes the whole enterprise stronger if
KING: … the whole of the United States government, if it`s not just
the president acting unilaterally.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Democratic critics out there are saying they are
concerned, as you are, about the restrictions. They aren`t strong enough.
Here was Senator Joe Manchin yesterday here on HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: The bottom line is I`m not going
to vote for anything that has the interpretation, we can have combat ground
forces on the front line fighting someone else`s war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And just to showcase this, there on the right, critics
worry the language will limit the military too much in the fight against
ISIS. Here`s Orrin Hatch of Utah yesterday. Let`s listen to the senator.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Here we have the president coming up with
this – I think it`s kind of a stupid proposal! And he`s binding the next
president also with really stupid language. Most importantly, get – the
president should be asking for the authorization that would not impose any
artificial and unnecessary limitations, such as those based on time,
geography and type of force.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know about the language – I don`t understand
how senators call presidents stupid now. I mean, I`m sorry, Senator Hatch.
I got no problem with you personally, but you got to stop talking about a
president like that. He`s stupid, OK?
KING: But – but…
MATTHEWS: What – what is this about the new way we talk about Obama
that we don`t talk about previous presidents? Your thoughts, Senator.
(INAUDIBLE) go on here. How do you get the language together, to reconcile
it? The duty of the Senate is to deliberate. How does the effort –
deliberations of the world`s greatest deliberative body achieve a
coalescing between the right concern there`s too much language restricting
in there, and the liberal concern that it better damn well be tougher?
KING: Well, I think…
MATTHEWS: More restrictive.
KING: I think what you`re going to see is a fascinating hearing and a
fascinating debate at the Foreign Affairs Committee. You`ve got people
like Bob Menendez and Bob Corker, Tim Kaine, very thoughtful people. And I
know that they`re working on that language.
And you know, I disagree a little bit – I mean, Manchin is right, but
maybe for different reasons. I don`t think the public will support ground
troops. But the reality is, ground troops from America aren`t going to win
this war. It`s got to be Arabs and Muslims taking on Arabs and Muslims.
If we go in there, that`s exactly what ISIS wants.
KING: In other words, it won`t be effective. But you know, I got to
say, don`t you find it ironic, Chris – you`ve been watching this for a
long time – to see Republicans arguing that this president should take
broader, unlimited authority? I mean, that isn`t what I`ve been hearing
around here for the last two years.
I think – I think Congress has to take this responsibility. It`s
exactly what the framers intended for us to do. And I think we can work
out some language that`ll meet everybody`s requirements. I certainly hope
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Senator Angus Kaine – King, of
MATTHEWS: … of Maine for coming on.
Let`s bring on Senator Johnny Isakson. He`s a Republican from
Georgia. Senator, thank you for joining us.
What do you – how do you – this is like – it`s like a mathematical
explosive model, where one side says, We want more restrictions in the
weeks ahead, and the other side says, We want less in the weeks ahead.
They`re going away from each other, rather than coalescing. How do we get
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: I think Angus…
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) bill to pass.
ISAKSON: I think Angus is right. The Foreign Relations Committee
will do this. Bob Corker and Bob Menendez are deliberative. We`ve already
had conversations about it. We definitely need to fill in some of the
blanks, and I think the Foreign Relations Committee will do that.
But rest assured, a lot of us want to make sure we do this right
because getting it wrong will not be good for America and not be good for
MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s fair to say that this is for the next
president? I mean, won`t you have the opportunity if – well, we`ll have a
new president, this president`s term-limited – sometime in the late part
of next year, you could write a whole new resolution for the next
president. So this wouldn`t really be governing the next president, would
ISAKSON: Well, it would end at the beginning of the next president`s
term. But look, here`s the way I see it. The president has demonstrated
less than the necessary appetite, in my opinion, to go after ISIL.
ISAKSON: And I think this resolution is going to protract (ph) what`s
gone on in that part of the world. American people are tired of seeing
young folks like Ms. Mueller, burned like pilot from Jordan…
MATTHEWS: I agree.
ISAKSON: … Jordan burned and beheadings. You can`t negotiate with
people or use diplomacy with people that`ll kill you that way. You`ve got
to kill them in return. And we need a commitment to do exactly what the
president has said he wants to do, and that is destroy ISIL. And the only
way you do that is with military action.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the language of this authorization can make
the president more aggressive?
ISAKSON: I think it needs to make the presidents more specific. We
need to know what we`re getting into. If the goal is to degrade and then
destroy, we need to give him the ability to destroy. If he does not want
to use that ability or if he limits it by rules of engagement or time or
whatever, then we`ve got a problem on our hands.
MATTHEWS: Do you see – you`ve obviously thought about this, Senator.
Have you thought about how we, using the ability of the tools we have –
air power, we`ve got special forces, we`ve got the Kurds, who are great
fighters – what else we got? We got certainly now the Jordanian air
force, which is gung-ho since they had their guy burned alive. We don`t
really have a hell of a decent, even a reasonably decent uncorrupt Iraqi
government or army.
What – who`s going to do this fighting when it comes down to taking
territory and holding it? Who`s going to do that?
ISAKSON: Well, if it were my choice alone, first of all I`d put a no-
fly zone over Syria to protect the people we trained in Syria to go after
the Assad regime. That`s number one. Number two, I`d give our military
ground forces the opportunity to do what they have to do. We already have
5,200 on the ground in Iraq right now supporting the air war. It may take
a few more, primarily in terms of special forces. We ought to do that.
We need to degrade and destroy ISIL, and eventually, it ultimately is
going to take a coordinated effort between the air, between the ground and
between all military units and the Arab countries that surround us.
MATTHEWS: But who takes the land? Who takes back that part of Iraq
and that part of Syria from the bad guys, the ISIS forces, and turns it
over to whom? Who gets the new land we`re taking back from the bad guys?
That`s what I – that part of that, that critical part, doesn`t seem clear
to me in the strategy.
ISAKSON: well, that`s a very perceptive question because if you
replace Assad, who do you replace him with? We`re, first of all, trying to
train a Syrian army that can go in and to fight the old Syrian army and run
Assad out. And then that – that, of course, is going to pique the
interest of the Iranians, which is a whole `nother issue in that part of
MATTHEWS: I know.
ISAKSON: But doing nothing, not going after them, not deciding we are
going to destroy ISIL is not a good policy for America or…
MATTHEWS: I agree. I agree. One thing I agree on, Senator – it may
not be important what I think, but it does matter to me. I don`t see a
strategy for victory against ISIS yet anywhere.
Thank you so much for joining us, Senator…
ISAKSON: Good to be with you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
Coming up – the Democrats have picked their convention city, and yes,
it`s Philly. And what better place for the Democrats to lay claim not just
to the flag but for everything it stands for, liberty, equality, of course,
all men are created equal, the pursuit of happiness, about gay couples, all
this – it`s so much that they can say from the Declaration of Independence
from Independence Hall, from the Liberty Bell. It all stands there as a
statement of what they believe.
Plus, what happens to Republicans when they go to London? What`s
wrong with the air over there? Chris Christie botched the question of
vaccines. Scott Walker ducked the question on evolution, which makes no
sense. We`re going to ask London`s mayor, Boris Johnson, what`s in the air
over there that`s making Republicans so confused. Their brains get foggy
in foggy London!
And Reince Priebus vows the Republican Party will make gains with
African-American voters in 2016. But let`s compare Reince`s words with his
party`s big-time efforts to suppress the black vote across America.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with this switch by the party of Abraham
Lincoln, and under Reince Priebus, to massive resistance against equal
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, another Republican is testing the 2016 waters. Ohio
governor John Kasich is heading to South Carolina next week. It`s Kasich`s
first trip to one of the early primary states, and it`s raising eyebrows.
Kasich won reelection last year by a big margin. If he doesn`t run for
president, he`s likely to be on the short list for VP next year. I like
We`ll be right back.
(VIDEO CLIP FROM “ROCKY”)
MATTHEWS: Means a lot in my home city.
Today, the Democratic National Committee announced that the city of
Rocky, my hometown of Philadelphia, has been selected to host the
Democratic national convention in July of 2016. Philly beat out rivals
Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio. The Democrats last convened in Philly in
1948. In their convention, Democrats will highlight the values of the
Declaration of Independence, I assume, and the role Philadelphia has played
in our nation`s founding.
The DNC released this video on Facebook earlier today, soon after the
decision was made. Here it is.
MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s Philadelphia! Anyway, joining me right now –
it`s very dramatic, Deborah! Very dramatic! The Democrats…
MATTHEWS: … bringing their convention to Philadelphia. The chair
of the Democratic National Committee, Florida congresswoman Debbie
Wasserman Schultz, the former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, the
current mayor of Philadelphia, a great one, Michael Nutter, and
Pennsylvania`s senior U.S. senator, Bob Casey.
I want to start – everybody – don`t take all the time because
(INAUDIBLE) to talk here. Let me ask you, Congresswoman, the choice of
Philadelphia – how much was it about the symbolic history of the city?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: Well, the main three
reasons that we focused on for any of the cities, when we decided on
Philadelphia, was resources, logistics and security. But Philadelphia is
the cradle of democracy, Chris, as you`ve said, you know, many times during
And the opportunity to nominate the next president of the United
States in Philadelphia with the backdrop of the birth of our nation, and to
showcase the Democratic Party`s values of inclusion and empowerment and
creating more opportunities for people to succeed – that`s what it`s all
about. And we`re thrilled to be coming to Philadelphia, and I was so
excited to able to call Mayor Nutter, Governor Rendell and Senator Casey
this morning. We`re all very excited.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m so happy for you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for
coming on tonight.
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER (D), PHILADELPHIA: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And congratulations. What a great way to end your tour,
your terms as mayor of Philadelphia. You`ve been clean as a whistle, which
is a big deal in Philadelphia, to be completely clean, like Eddie Rendell
MATTHEWS: We love that! But not only are you completely clear, but
you`re productive. You brought the pope.
MATTHEWS: And you`re not even Catholic anymore. You brought the…
MATTHEWS: Even though you went to St. Joe`s, you`re not even
Catholic. You brought the pope, and now you bring the Dems in, and you`re
going to make it even – now even more important. What are you going to do
here? Tell us why it happened. What did you do right?
NUTTER: Well, Chris, thank you very much. What we did right is we
made sure that everyone had a role to play, played their role properly.
And as Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz laid out, we stayed focused on the
fundamentals of resources, security and logistics.
Having Governor Rendell with his previous experience as mayor and a
party chair, Philly having hosted the 2000 Republican convention, a
convention, of course, nonetheless, and all the things that go with that,
having Senator Casey and the work that he has contributed, his
relationship, of course, not only with the party but with the White House,
Congressman Bob Brady, the leader of our party here, and the person who has
really been pushing this idea for some time.
We weren`t ready – we didn`t think we were ready, I didn`t think we
were ready for `12, but I knew we could be ready go 2016. We can raise the
money. We have the logistics under hand. And security is our big thing
here in Philadelphia.
The enthusiasm about this – Chris, you know Philly.
MATTHEWS: I know it.
NUTTER: Is off the charts.
People are really excited in the streets of Philadelphia. And, again,
I want to say thank you to the chair for picking Philly.
MATTHEWS: I want to ask the governor.
Governor Rendell, you gave us a great boost of morale in Philly when
you came on. You are a great booster fort city. I think you`re the spirit
of the city in many ways over the years. What`s this going to mean in
terms of recognition? Finally, Philly is going to be the center of our
country for at least a couple weeks.
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we got a tremendous boost
from the Republican Convention.
People saw Philadelphia and couldn`t believe the changes that had
occurred. As Mayor Nutter pointed out today, all the good things that were
in place in 2000, those things have just progressed under Mayor Street and
Mayor Nutter. The city has gotten better.
It`s a hotbed for millennials. It`s – according to “Bon Appetit,”
it`s one of the best restaurant cities in America. It`s a great cultural
city. Conde Nast named us the best cultural city. So, it`s a great city
for donor experience, the delegate experience.
Logistically, we proved in 2000 – I think that is considered, Chris,
to be the best-run convention on either party in the last 20, 25 years.
And the good news is the team that ran it at the Wells Fargo Center, the
police team, the transportation team, that team is all intact, ready to go,
and to do as flawless a job in 2016 as we did in 2000.
But I think, in the end – and Debbie is right about the three
criteria that they applied – but, in the end, the ability to do this and
to nominate maybe the first woman who`s nominated for the presidency in the
history of the country, to do that with a backdrop of Independence Hall,
the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, I think that was compelling.
MATTHEWS: Has Secretary Clinton got a room at the Ritz-Carlton yet?
Are you all set on that?
MATTHEWS: Because my wife can help.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I`m just kidding.
MATTHEWS: She has a great suite coming.
Let me go to Bob Casey, senator, senior.
This is a big deal for Pennsylvania. You have got a woman we just
mentioned there, Secretary Clinton, whose family comes out Scranton. We
also have a vice president who still hasn`t said whether he is running or
not, and he comes from Scranton, and you`re from Scranton, as your dad was
This is a big week for Scranton, I guess, too, although they do root
for the Yankees, and we`re not very happy about that, but just a thought.
RENDELL: Not all of them.
Senator, go ahead.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes.
I would say it`s a great day for Philadelphia, for sure, and for the
region, Southeastern Pennsylvania. It`s also a great day for the
commonwealth. We have got great support, as Governor Rendell and Mayor
Nutter know, from all across the state. The state united behind
So it was a great effort to accentuate the city that`s the birthplace
of America, and I think we will chart a course for the future.
Chris, I want to make one footnote here, though.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
CASEY: We`re grateful for the chairwoman`s work. She did great work
But you do not want to be on a witness stand when she`s cross-
examining you, like she cross-examined the three of us.
CASEY: She was tough.
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to thank – we have got to thank Bobby Brady,
the chairman of the city committee, too, of course.
MATTHEWS: By the way, dare I say it, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie
Wasserman Schultz, I will now say it in more simple American language.
Thank you, Debbie, for Philadelphia. Such a great thing you have done
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You`re welcome. You`re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Thanks so much.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We`re thrilled.
MATTHEWS: Governor Rendell – Governor Rendell, Mayor Michael Nutter,
and Senator Bob Casey, senior senator, thank you all, gentlemen. Thank
MATTHEWS: Up next: Why do Republican presidential candidates keep
getting tripped in their obligatory trips to London? First, it was Chris
Christie. Now it`s Scott Walker. London`s Mayor Boris Johnson is coming
to sit right here all the way across the pond.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, we have seen an odd trend lately of Republican candidates
embarrassing themselves while in London. On a trade mission last week,
Chris Christie of New Jersey ignited a firestorm when he suggested that
parents should have more choice about whether to vaccinate their children.
And now while on his own trade mission to London, Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker has refused to even answer any questions that might jeopardize
his own White House ambitions. Take a look at how he dodged a question
yesterday about evolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do believe
in it? Do you accept it?
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: For me, I`m going to – I`m going
to punt that as well.
QUESTION: No? Really?
WALKER: That`s a question a politician shouldn`t be involved in one
way or the other on. So, I`m going to leave that up to you.
QUESTION: Any British politician, right or left wing, would say –
would laugh and say, yes, of course, evolution is true. But you…
WALKER: To me, I said it`s just one of those I`m here to talk about
trade, not to pontificate on other issues. I love the evolution of trade
WALKER: It is going well, and I would like to see an even bigger
evolution as well.
MATTHEWS: We will talk about that craziness.
Then, in a similar trip last month, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
suggested to CNN that there are so-called no-go zones in London that are
unsafe for non-Muslims.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: There are people here in London
that will tell you there are neighborhoods where the women don`t feel safe
walking – walking through those neighborhoods without veils. There are
neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go. That`s a dangerous
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And, of course, back in 2012, then candidate for president
Mitt Romney offended many in Great Britain when he said that London might
not be ready to host the Summer Olympics. That`s a nice way to visit the
Shortly thereafter, London`s mayor, who is sitting with me, Boris
Johnson, shot back and ridiculed Romney for his comments in front of 60,000
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON: There are some people who are coming
from around the world who don`t yet know about all the preparations we have
done to get London ready in the last seven years.
I hear there`s a guy – there`s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to
know whether – whether we are ready. He wants to know whether we`re
ready. Are we ready?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOHNSON: Are we ready?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What a cheerleader, London Mayor Boris Yeltsin – not
Yeltsin. Boris Johnson joins me.
MATTHEWS: There aren`t too many Borises.
He happens to be on his own trade mission.
JOHNSON: We Borises need to stick together.
MATTHEWS: Did you know there was a cartoon character in this country,
Boris and Natasha?
JOHNSON: I know.
MATTHEWS: That silly moose. It was all we ever talked – Boris,
darling, let`s kill that silly moose.
JOHNSON: No, no.
MATTHEWS: None of that? How did you get a Russian name, by the way?
JOHNSON: I have got a Russian – well, I have got a Russian name
because there was a guy who was actually an American called Boris Litvin
(ph) when my parents were students in New York in 196…
By the way, you`re eligible for run for president.
JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. That`s right. I pay taxes.
MATTHEWS: You were born here.
JOHNSON: I was born in New York.
Anyway, this guy called Boris told my mother – she was going to take
a Greyhound bus, a bus from Mexico back to New York City. He said that was
no good, and he would pay for her plane fare. And she said, in gratitude,
I will call my child Boris.
JOHNSON: So, there you go. It`s because of generosity of this
country towards my indigent student parent.
MATTHEWS: What a politician.
Let me ask you about something. You`re a Tory. You`re a
Why do you – what do you make of an American who won`t just – like
in that show we just saw. What is Scott Walker, who I thought was a pretty
MATTHEWS: Why is he afraid of saying, I believe in science?
JOHNSON: I felt he`s a great guy.
MATTHEWS: Well, in your party.
JOHNSON: Totally, totally, totally bizarre.
MATTHEWS: What is he afraid of?
JOHNSON: The theory of evolution, as you know, was propounded and
MATTHEWS: It`s not a theory.
JOHNSON: … in London.
MATTHEWS: It`s not a theory.
JOHNSON: It was when Charles Darwin came up with it.
JOHNSON: And where was he? He was in Bromley. Come to London. Come
to Bromley. I advise everybody to come to London and see the people of
Bromley and understand why Charles Darwin came up with the idea of natural
selection and the survival of the fittest. It`s all there.
MATTHEWS: Why do they think – why do the people who hope believe in
– understand why we experiment on animals and experiments on all these
different kind of creatures because they`re somewhat related to us.
Otherwise, it would make no sense to experiment on them.
JOHNSON: Look, it`s not for – I`m an evolutionist.
MATTHEWS: OK. I`m Roman Catholic. And we were taught evolution from
day one in school.
JOHNSON: … obvious.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about leadership today and the paucity, I
think that`s a good English word, of leaders, of people like – Thatcher
was looked up to. Reagan was looked up to. Kennedy certainly was.
It`s getting pretty shallow out there for leaders.
JOHNSON: But maybe that`s a good thing, Mr. Matthews.
MATTHEWS: I`m listening.
JOHNSON: Chris. forgive me.
Maybe what it shows is actually that, in many of our countries, the
world does not require the kind of critical leadership that Margaret
Thatcher, Ronald Reagan provided during the period when we had to face down
the Russians in the Cold War, doesn`t require the kind of courage that
Winston Churchill had to display during the absolutely existential moment
And maybe we live in a blander, softer kind of age.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But we live in a television age that Churchill didn`t
have to face, where we can watch a flyer, a pilot, a courageous pilot for
the Jordanians who is on our side get burned alive by gasoline in front of
MATTHEWS: We can watch – or we can hear that a young woman who is a
goodwill person over there helping people who are desperate get killed. We
have to watch that and live it.
I just wonder, as much as I don`t have a plan to win this war against
ISIS, how can we be a manly, conscious, moral country and watch one person
after another be publicly and humiliatingly executed?
JOHNSON: We can`t. We can`t. We can`t.
And, actually, a couple of weeks ago, I was in Kurdistan. And I saw
the one set of guys who are really sticking it to those ISIL people, those
ISIS guys, are the Kurdish Peshmerga.
MATTHEWS: Yes, they are.
JOHNSON: And we should be backing them.
MATTHEWS: Maybe we should give them a country. Let them have a
country. That`s what they want.
JOHNSON: Well, they claim that they would be happy with Kurdistan in
Northern Iraq, but obviously there are difficulties with Turkish Kurdistan
and Iranian Kurdistan and all the rest of it.
What they certainly deserve is the kit and the support and the
training to blam those ISIS guys.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor, you and I have something in common, which is we
both have a hero. And I happen to have got a copy of this book.
And I`ll tell you, this guy is America`s greatest hero. This guy.
Churchill, you meet more men and women and this country who say – what was
it about him that made us across the pond, besides his American mother,
what made him the guy we looked to and say, you know, damn it, that`s what
JOHNSON: Because, in May 1940, if he hadn`t stuck out against Hitler,
if he hadn`t refused to do that deal, then I think Britain would almost
JOHNSON: Have bent the knee in one way or the other. And it would
have been an epoch of unparalleled gloom and misery for Europe and for
MATTHEWS: And your country had…
JOHNSON: And that was the first thing he did.
And the second thing he did, he spent the next two years or however
long it was, virtually two years, working on America. With FDR, he worked
on America to get her, to get America to come in and pull our chestnuts out
of the fire. And that made all the difference.
MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on. Thank you so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Good look with your book. And that – you didn`t come here
for that reason.
JOHNSON: I didn`t. But I`m honored that you brought up my – I`m
honored that you brought up my book.
MATTHEWS: You asked not to – you asked not to talk about it, and I
pitched you into it. And I don`t mind saying that.
Boris Johnson, a great man here.
And I think I`m going to root for you. You`re my kind of Tory.
Up next: Republican Party chair Reince Priebus – he`s not my kind of
chair – says the party will make gains with African-Americans. Good luck,
Reince. And this after the party worked to keep minorities from actually
being able to vote. How about letting people vote before you asked them to
vote Republican? Might be a consistency there, Reince.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening.
A new cease-fire deal with Ukraine and Russia goes into effect on
Saturday. European Union members warn if this deal doesn`t stick, Russia
could face more sanctions.
Thousands said goodbye to three Muslim students gunned down near the
University of North Carolina in a crime the family says was hate-based.
Police charged a neighbor and say he was motivated by a fight over parking.
And four workers at the site of a new highway tunnel in Seattle were
rescued after an elevator shaft collapsed, dropping them 25 feet – back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
RNC chair Reince Priebus wants black votes. That`s a mighty tall
order, when your party also suppresses black votes. Yet, yesterday at the
third annual RNC Black Trailblazers luncheon, the party reached out to
Priebus himself said – quote – “I want to see us increase the
numbers of Republican votes in the black community, so that increase
actually has a clear impact on the outcome of the election.”
Well, given that Republicans in nearly three dozen states passed laws
in the past two years to suppress the voting rights of minorities and young
people, that might be hard. Some Republicans at the local level aren`t shy
about the political motivations, by the way, behind those efforts.
Before the 2012 election, Pennsylvania`s Republican leader, Mike
Turzai, said their voter I.D. law would give the election to Romney. Here
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D.,
which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And then the state`s Republican Party chair gloated about how those
laws took away votes from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you think all the attention drawn to voter I.D. affected
last year`s elections?
ROBERT GLEASON, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think
a little bit. I think we probably had a better election. Think about
this. We cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big, you know. A lot of people
lost sight of that.
He won, he beat McCain by 10 percent. He only beat Romney by 5
percent. I think that probably photo I.D. had a – helped a bit in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And then there`s this whopper, North Carolina Republican
precinct chair Don Yelton, who said this to “The Daily Show” – “Daily
Show” back in October about his state`s new voters suppression laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
DON YELTON, NORTH CAROLINA GOP PRECINCT CHAIRMAN: The law is going to
kick the Democrats in the butt. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that
wants to have the government give them everything, so be it.
AASIF MANDVI, “THE DAILY SHOW”: And it just so happens that a lot of
those people vote Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, a sarcastic son of a whatever, but I`ll tell you, he
says what he thinks. Yelton later resigned.
Joining me right now is former RNC chair, Michael Steele, a very much
different cut than the other fella. “The Washington Post`s” Nia-Malika
Henderson, and Wesley Lowery, also of “The Washington Post”. He wrote
about yesterday`s luncheon.
Wesley, thanks for what do you make of this two-faced thing going on,
the effort to sort of make the deal with the demographic changes in the
country, by one way, which is making it harder to vote for older people and
urban people who live in row houses that don`t have cars, don`t have driver
licenses, instead of bringing it slowly, like the 25-year-olds need the
cards, 83 years old, give me your card.
You know, I just think it`s an effort to screw the voters. Your
WESLEY LOWERY, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that when you look –
especially when you talk to Democratic operatives about this GOP push to
bring in some black voters, with you things they obvious race is they make
the argument that more people voting, good for Democrats, fewer people
voting, good for Republicans. They point that to a level of inconsistency
The Republican, RNC right now, Priebus, is not talking about winning
25 percent of the black vote, or 50 percent of the black vote. Not
competing for the black vote as large, but talking about getting the 11
percent that George W. Bush got in 2004 versus the 6 percent of the black
vote that Mitt Romney –
MATTHEWS: Where do you get this 23 percent figure we heard?
LOWERY: John Kasich, in the midterm elections this round won 23
MATTHEWS: He`s a pretty good candidate. The guy`s a pretty good
candidate, let`s be honest.
LOWERY: Well, that`s what a lot of Democrats in Cleveland, my
hometown point to often. They`ll make the argument you can get Democrats
to make the argument that black Democrats vote against Fitzgerald because
he was such a bad candidate. Kasich was also a relatively –
MATTHEWS: Look, let me try Nia on this one.
I know you`re a reporter straight, but it seems to me the logic of
this thing, they`re obviously going for better off people who are minority,
I mean, middle class people, more entrepreneurial perhaps, they can see
themselves with Republican values, they say those are my values, not the
down-and-out person. But doesn`t everybody in the black community know
that this voter suppression thing is going on?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, they know. It`s
targeted at them. There is a pretty I think widespread perception among
African-Americans, they feel like this is voter suppression. It`s not a
voter ID law, it`s about voter suppression, and if you look at a recent
study out of the GAO over the summer, some of the stats suggest that it
does actually suppress some of the vote anywhere from 2 percent to 4
If you look at the states of Kansas and Tennessee, there was a drop-
off from 2008 to 2012, particularly among young voters and particularly
among African-Americans. So, there is some suggestion and some proof that
this is actually working to keep African-Americans and young folks away
from the polls.
MATTHEWS: Is there a sense – and I grew up in the city, but far end
of the city, it wasn`t exactly urban, but it was northeast Philly, greater
northeast Philly. I think there is a perception in the suburbs that in the
inner city, there`s cheating on voting. They say all we`re doing is trying
to cut out the cheating. We`re not at it to screw the black vote.
What do you think? You worked for the Republican Party. You led it.
Is there a real perception there`s cheating, substantial enough that
justifies the bad PR? Enough cheating to justify the pr, which is
STEELE: There is a perception, there is some evidence of it. I mean,
look, we don`t have to go around the country, we can just stick right here
in our own backyard of Maryland in the `94 election with Ellen Sauerbrey,
and the fact that, you know, she was winning at 11:00, and lost it by 1:00
a.m., on finding 11,000 ballots, you know, in a locked classroom in
MATTHEWS: Like “The Good Wife.”
STEELE: So, there is that aspect of it that drives a lot of this, but
I think the more important point in any effort to have a conversation with
the black community really goes to where Nia left off. That`s the
perception and the reality have merged. And whether or not there`s actual
or perceived efforts to block my access to the ballot box, that`s what I`m
thinking and feeling. For all the lunches that you want to have, for all
of the efforts of outreach, which I hate that term. I banned it when I was
RNC chairman, because it means nothing.
At the end of the day, you have to stand in the well of the community
and address those concerns. When you have the voting rights act sitting on
the floor of a Republican Congress and the party which was the arbiter, the
part of making this law reality is doing nothing to address that, that
continues the perception that you really don`t care about what`s
fundamentally important to us.
MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a perception that the Republican
Party, although it may offend the black community and liberals are offended
about it, they`re getting the backlash vote anyway? There`s also going to
be people that said, oh, that`s the party of black interest, that`s the
party of welfare, that`s the party, they don`t care about us working class
whites in southwestern Pennsylvania. They figure they can always offset
it, always offset the black vote with an angry white vote.
They must be thinking that, because it makes no sense otherwise. It`s
LOWERY: You certainly some of that perception no matter what, and you
certainly are going to have – there are going to be demographics within
both parties that are going to show up, no matter what, no matter what you
say, for whatever questionable or potentially bigoted reasons on any side.
And the Republicans know they can take advantage of that, they know
they can take advantage. They know that one of their largest pathways to
victory is through white voters, no matter what the motivations of those
white voters are. But there is a real question here of on the margins with
Hispanic voters, and the margins with black voters. Again, that seems
unlikely Republicans in our lifetimes are ever going to win eight out of 10
black voters, but can they win two? Can they win three? Can they win
MATTHEWS: In my lifetime, my friend. I got to you, until `60, with
Kennedy writing the letter to Mrs. King, they didn`t act, even Jackie
Robinson who was Republican, said, act, here`s your chance, side with
Martin Luther King. He didn`t on do it because he thought he could carry
the whites in the South, if he –
MATTHEWS: He took his chances on that theory, because he went to a
lunchtime rally in Georgia and all the white guys working downtown are all
waving at him.
HENDERSON: I mean, Nixon did relatively well. Nixon got 18 percent
of the black vote –
MATTHEWS: But guys like Eisenhower were getting like a third.
STEELE: But those are definitional moments, like you describe.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. They say in movies, plot points.
STEELE: Plot points.
MATTHEWS: When you move.
Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
Up next, why is President Obama breaking out to the selfie stick in a
new “BuzzFeed” video? You know, I don`t even know what I`m talking about.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Pressure is growing on the four-term governor of Oregon.
Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is facing calls to resign amid
allegations his fiancee used his office to land contracts for her
consulting business. People close to the governor saying he actually
decided to resign, but later reversed course, now is vowing to stay on the
job. Oregon`s attorney general has launched a criminal investigation.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seconds left in the game, down by one, he gets it!
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can I live?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do you.
Yolo, man. All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A two handed set for the president.
That`s part of a video released by BuzzFeed, the theme of which is
that President Obama, just like all of us, does things he doesn`t talk
about – like pretend to make a basketball shot at the buzzer.
And there is a real message in this entertaining video. Sign up for
Here is the president practicing that pitch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The deadline for signing up for health insurance is February -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not like any other Wednesday.
OBAMA: That`s not right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wed-nes-day.
OBAMA: February – man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wednesday.
OBAMA: February 15th. February 15th. In many cases, you can get
health insurance for less than $100 a month. Just go to healthcare.gov to
figure out how to sign up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MTTEHWS: I`ll say this is original stuff.
In just the past few weeks, President Obama has done interviews with
YouTube stars including Glozell who wore green lipstick. Of course, you
remember that. With outlets named Vox and BuzzFeed. And he did a PSA that
aired during the Grammys.
President Obama`s social media outreach to young voters has been
relentless. Is he changing the game for future presidents?
We`re back with the roundtable, Michael, Nia and Welsey.
I don`t know what the argument is here, I don`t think there is one.
You two are the youngest, so what does this mean?
MATTHEWS: Who are the people that watch this show, I`ll forgive them,
they`re young and they`re busy. They have social lives.
These people, this is a way to get to them. That is apparently why he
is doing it. To get your crowd, kids, young people, to sign up for
Obamacare. He will go anywhere to find you.
LOWERY: Yes, as the ambassador of the youth –
MATTHEWS: It`s generational. Chris Cuomo once said – I said, Chris,
what are you doing? He said, I`m a generational spokesman. That was
before he started journalism.
Are you a generational spokesman?
LOWERY: Maybe after this (INAUDIBLE), we`ll see.
LOWERY: I think that, you know, we`re seeing this with other
politicians, not quite to this level. We have never seen the president
handle quite this way. But what we are seeing now with Rand Paul and some
other politicians trying to use Snapchat, trying to use these other – both
mobile apps, and meeting people with this kind of nontraditional media
outlets. “BuzzFeed” is a place that will do hard investigative journalism,
but will also produce a comical video.
MATTHEWS: Who will watch him looking at the mirror practicing words -
LOWERY: A bunch of people.
MATTHEWS: Who comes up with that? Did that guy come up with the idea
of people having a hard time, because local accents, you don`t say the “R.”
HENDERSON: I mean, it`s just funny. It`s memorable. And so, I think
it`s – who knows who wrote the script? I think it was – you know, it`s
been very well-viewed so far. I think the last time I checked, something
like three or four million people –
MATTHEWS: Are you one of the kids?
HENDERSON: I`m in between these guys here.
STEELE: It will drive Republicans nuts.
MATTHEWS: How`s Orrin Hatch in some of the stiffer parts of your
party doing this? I can`t see Orrin Hatch doing this.
STEELE: At a certain level, all of this is beneath the office of the
STEELE: But it is opening a new landscape for communication. You
have a segment – a growing segment of our voting age population that is
increasingly disconnected, and as you want to find a way – and both
parties need a find a way to connect them. So, I think you`re right. The
Rand Pauls of the world, the Marco Rubios, the next generation of
Republican leaders are going to –
MATTHEWS: Here is part of the “BuzzFeed” video that mocks the
president`s seeming ability to be blamed for everything that goes wrong in
this world. It`s a good point here, let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh – thanks, Obama.
OBAMA: Thanks, Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Blaming himself.
Thank you, Michael Steele, Nia-Malika Henderson, and Wesley Lowery.
When we return, let me finish with this switch by the party of Abraham
Lincoln to massive resistance. And I mean it.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Republican Party`s official
plan to remain competitive with the Democrats even as the demographics of
this country shift.
The plan is to quite nakedly reduce the votes of those groups who tend
to vote Democratic, minorities, poor, older people, to do it by requiring
voters to present a government-issued photo ID card when they arrive at the
voting station. If they don`t show such a card, they don`t get to vote.
You would think the Republican effort is too blatant, that no
political party would want to be seen putting up obstacles to voting, that
no party would want to be seen as the declared enemy of a large voting
group. The astounding fact is that in dozen of states, the GOP has proven
itself quite willing to be seen this way. It`s made no bones about
standing up for voter ID requirements that it a special burden precisely on
a groups, minorities, older, poor people that largely votes for the other
Well, the person leading this partisan move to kill the vote,
especially the minorities, is someone named Reince Priebus. He is the
reason the Republican talk of recruiting minority voters is so deep in
deceit. As we heard tonight, the party of Abraham Lincoln is now the party
of massive resistance.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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