Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/22/15
CHUCK TODD, GUEST HOST: Pope Francis arrives in America. He`s coming
Is the pope going to play political HARDBALL?
Good evening. I`m Chuck Todd here in New York, in for Chris Matthews.
He`s attending the funeral of his Aunt Eleanor.
We begin tonight with the historic scene just outside of Washington.
Just hours ago at Joint Base Andrews, formerly known as Andrews Air Force
Base, the pope landed in the United States for the first time. And this
was the scene.
The holy father was greeted by the president, the first lady, their
children, the vice president, his grandchildren, and a host of dignitaries
from around the country and from the Catholic church here in the United
But buckle up because the next few days will be nothing short of a
remarkable visit. This papal visit includes a meeting with the president
at the White House, an address to a joint session of Congress, and yet
another address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York later in
the week. He`ll also hold a mass in Philadelphia and visit the largest
prison in the City of Brotherly Love.
Folks, if you look at that schedule, one thing is clear. This holy
father is not afraid to dive into politics, not afraid to take sides on
In fact, let`s meet this pope. Let`s meet his politics. This is a
different image of a pope than we`re used to seeing here in America. Pope
Francis talks differently, acts differently, and frankly, even dresses
differently than his predecessors. He`s traded in the Vatican Mercedes for
a Ford Fusion, or as we saw today, a Fiat.
He says climate change is real. He also believes the Big Bang theory,
and evolution is, too. He`s given priestly authority to forgive women who
had an abortion. He`s washed the feet of convicts and Muslims. He`s made
it cheaper and easier to get an annulment. And here`s what he said about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS I: (SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And the pope even reportedly met with a transgendered man at
his home after receiving a letter from him.
In addition to that, he has weighed in on nearly every major policy
debate that`s taken place in our politics in America, from condemning the
ills of trickle-down economics to hailing U.S. diplomatic relations with
Cuba. He actually was a back-channel mediator in that deal. He also
supports the Iran nuclear deal.
Pope Francis has notably sided more with the political left of late
here in the U.S., and he`s also spoken emotionally and compassionately
about the migrant crisis that`s taking places all across Europe.
But this is a country and political system that also symbolizes many
of the ills and excesses that he has denounced. For the 68 million
Catholics here in America and for all of us that are tuning in, what
message will he deliver during this historic visit? And how will it change
our politics? Or will it? How will it impact the debate? I think
everybody on both sides of the aisle is going to feel uncomfortable by
something Pope Francis challenges them on this week.
We`re going to kick off tonight`s special coverage of the pope in
America with our own Luke Russert. He is outside the papal nuncio. It is
the equivalent of the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C. Hundreds have
been gathering there since this afternoon.
And Luke, I know you`ve been talking to these folks. Tell me about
this crowd, tell me about how they`re feeling and whether we`ve yet to see
any glimpses of him in the window.
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chuck, I can tell you, when
the pope arrived here, the crowd numbered in the hundreds. And they were
loud, enthusiastic, and so grateful to see the pope, albeit it was for a
few seconds when he came to the doorway dressed in his white robes, waved
to Catholic school children who were in front of him. But people were able
to make him out from the position where I am, which is about 50 yards away,
across the street. Actually, I`m on Joe Biden`s front lawn, essentially,
here at the U.S. Naval Observatory.
And as far as what the crowd is, Chuck, I was really struck by how
many children were here. A lot of parents brought their children. A lot
of children sort of rushed up to the front of the fence and were just so
happy for their moment with the pope. And you could also see that resonate
with the parents themselves.
The crowd was majority Latino. I spoke to a lot of them in Spanish.
They came from places like Honduras, Salvador, even Argentina, Mexico. And
a lot of them said that they felt this pope was theirs. And of course,
that is something we`ve heard often, that the first pope from Latin America
has really tried to connect outside of Europe, outside of the United
States, the sort of traditional power centers of the Catholic church. That
was very evident today from what I saw with this crowd.
Now, there are still a few people here. I would say probably they
number around 40 or 50, with the hope that maybe he comes to the window.
This pope we know is sporadic. Maybe he goes across the street for a cup
of warm milk and a chocolate chip cookie from Joe Biden or something.
But we can also tell you, Chuck, when I spoke to a few, they`re going
to be here at 4:00 in the morning to serenade him with traditional Spanish
morning songs. So I hope the pope likes to be sung to at 4:00 AM.
TODD: I was just going to say…
RUSSERT: He`s certainly going to hear it by how many people we
TODD: He won`t be needing to set an alarm, although he may be dealing
with jet lag, of course, and all that. Anyway, Luke Russert, well done.
It was great, the spirit that you helped translate that we saw there
earlier today. Good work, sir.
I`m joined now by former RNC chairman Michael Steele – he`s a devout
Catholic – NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell is at the White House. Need I say what
Kelly O`Donnell is, our Irish Catholic friend there?
TODD: And Andrea Mitchell is in Washington. Andrea and I, of course,
we`re going to be – we`ve got our own – our own faith that we`ll be
dealing with as soon as the sun goes down, which we`re deciding goes down
right at 8:01 tonight, right, Andrea?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You got it!
TODD: Kelly, let me start with you because I think the moment when we
expect Pope Francis to potentially insert himself into our political
debates, or impact our political debates, is when he does that speech to a
joint session of Congress, where there`s anticipation on the left and right
of what he might or might not say.
What have you heard from the rank and file elected members of Congress
of what they hope to hear on the left and what they hope to hear on the
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: And it will be notable, Chuck,
because the holy father will be speaking in English for that speech. He
will be using his native Spanish during other visits here while he`s in the
United States. So that is notable to begin.
There is a really strong sense of anticipation because in politics,
tone can really matter. And there is something for both conservatives and
liberals and those in the middle, when it comes to this holy father on
One thing we`ve been told is that senior leadership in both parties
does not want this to look like or feel like the kind of State of the Union
address where there is the jumping out of your seats and cheering and
applause at predictably partisan lines.
O`DONNELL: They don`t want any of that. They want to see the holy
father make his message known, have it received with some decorum, no
shaking of hands as he`s coming in the door, that kind of thing. So I
think it won`t have the political theater that it might otherwise have.
But in terms of issues, talking about the environment, talking about
the unborn, there are things that for the left and the right will push
buttons that they will agree with, some they will not. And so this will be
As you`ve pointed out on our coverage earlier in the day, both John
Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are Catholics. And Boehner, the speaker, has been
trying for 20 years to get a pope to come address a joint session of
So this is not a typical experience. There are lots of world leaders
who come to the Hill and meet people and meet the members of Congress in
small group settings, and occasionally these big addresses. But this will
be different, a first on many levels – Chuck.
TODD: Very much. Andrea, I want to read you this quote from Politico
today. It said here about the anticipation of the pope – “Democrats are
quietly gloating. Republicans are plainly nervous. The parties have
essentially done a role reversal when it comes to their relationship with
the Vatican. Republican Catholics seem to visibly squirm when asked about
Francis`s latest ventures into the political arena. They`ve adopted the
Democrats` previous posture – show deference to their spiritual leader and
downplay any political disagreements they have with them, or more
And one thing that you were very well versed on, of course, was the
role the pope played in Cuba in re-sparking this relationship, which, of
course, has been politically divisive on Capitol Hill.
MITCHELL: Well, indeed, he will, I think, try to gloss over that.
And according to Anne Thompson and the conversations that they had on the
flight from Cuba to the United States, when he did talk to reporters, he is
on a pastoral mission. So his emphasis is going to be on family in
Philadelphia, certainly, and on ways that people can bridge the divide.
But clearly, he has a position on the Iran negotiations, which the
Republicans, many of them, are not comfortable on – most of them, in fact.
There were no Republican votes certainly in the Senate for it. And he was
certainly not comfortable with the U.S. position on Cuba until he became
the mediator, really, for the NSC. And it was he who brought the two sides
together and finally melded that into an agreement, including the trade for
Allen Gross, for the return of the accused Cuban spies.
So I think in the speech to Congress, he is really going to try to
softpedal that. I think he will feel impelled to speak about the migrant
crisis and the human suffering…
MITCHELL: … caused by the civil war in Syria.
TODD: Yes, I have no doubt. I think that`s going to be a bigger
issue than perhaps folks are predicting.
Michael Steele, Republicans today, Senate Republicans, whether it was
timed on purpose or just coincidence, they had a major piece of anti-
abortion legislation that failed. Democrats blocked it. It was the so-
called 20-week bill about banning abortions after 20 weeks.
Do – are Republicans nervous that this pope isn`t going to push the
life issue the way previous popes have?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they
are a little bit nervous about that. And I think they only have to look to
the pope`s own rhetoric in that area, where he himself has emphasized that
that is not all that we are about as Christians, as Catholics, that there
are other issues that we also must concern ourselves with.
So this vote was specifically timed, I believe, to sort of reemphasize
the importance of this issue, at least politically, for the GOP. Whether
or not the pope takes up that particular issue in his address to the
Congress – I doubt he will directly – remains to be seen.
But again, a lot of Republicans are concerned about it. Even on the
climate change issue, you have one congressman, Republican congressman,
saying he`s going to boycott, which I think is outright silly because you
don`t know what the pope is going to say about the issue, per se.
But again, those types of issues make the GOP nervous. And I`m a
little bit surprised by it because I think if you listen to what the popes
say, it`s consistent with the teachings of the church and consistent with
the gospel, and there`s nothing to be nervous about there.
TODD: You would think – Michael, let me ask you this. You`re – you
know, you`re a devout Catholic. Is there a – shouldn`t there – isn`t
there enthusiasm among conservative Catholics that there is now both
parties sort of openly merging faith and policy? You know, some people are
uncomfortable with that, period. And sometime, that`s been a divide
between the two parties.
But should there be more openness, even if they don`t agree with the
way he`s doing it, that, Hey, here`s somebody that`s pushing the Democrats
to embrace the idea of converging faith and politics more?
STEELE: Well, you would think that would be the case, Chuck, because
you step back from what the – you know, what the pope has said publicly,
from, you know, his initial comments about, Who am I to judge, to his more
recent comments on the climate, he has not strayed way from church doctrine
and church teaching.
And so the fact that he`s able to bring both the left and right into
this new space, I think, would be something that would be welcomed by both
sides to begin the dialogue, the important dialogue, that translates into
policy, that translates into, you know, legislation for those in
legislatures around the country, to begin to consider that moral component,
yes, but the underlying Christian value that he`s bringing to the
TODD: Andrea, what is the one issue you think he could be influential
on, and maybe even change the dynamic on Capitol Hill, even if it`s – is
it the refugee crisis?
MITCHELL: Yes, it is. I think just the humanity of the suffering
that is seen, the fact that he has called on everyone to bring people into
their homes – he`s got to be able to communicate that without it being a
political issue. Now, there are four legislative days to work on all the
budget crises. He`s not going to get involved in that, but boy, if he
TODD: Yes, we don`t need the pope getting involved in the government
MITCHELL: No, but boy, if he could change the tone on Capitol Hill,
that, as you were referring to earlier, would be such a blessing, if I may
say so, because they don`t communicate. And at least on this, John Boehner
and Nancy Pelosi are agreed that they shouldn`t have the various members of
Congress trying to grab him as he walks up the aisle. And they`ve agreed
on comity, in the old-fashioned sense of that.
TODD: Well, that`s good to hear. I think I think everybody`s going
to be on their best behavior.
Andrea Mitchell, Kelly O`Donnell, Michael Steele, thanks for kicking
things off with our coverage this evening.
And yes, Andrea, we have – you and I have declared it`s not yet
Coming up – with Pope Francis here in America, Democrats and
Republicans are hoping this visit will help them push some issues that they
care about for Democrats. And it`s an aggressive plan to fight climate
change. For Republicans, it`s abortion. We`re going to talk to senators
from both sides of the aisle, Catholic senators from both sides of the
Plus, we`ll get a live report on the extensive efforts to keep his
holiness safe during his time in Washington, New York Philadelphia.
And now that he`s out of the 2016 presidential race – we`re going to
tip our toes in politics a little bit on the show, as well today – where
does Scott Walker`s support, and more importantly, his campaign apparatus
go now? And who stands to benefit the most from the Walker exit?
And finally, the comments from Donald Trump and Ben Carson about
Muslims shine a light on a very real issue here in America, Islamophobia,
both in the race and in the country.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
TODD: Hillary Clinton has announced her opposition to the Keystone
pipeline. Here was the former secretary of state late this afternoon in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
… be decided by now, and therefore I couldn`t tell you whether I agreed
or I disagreed. But it hasn`t been decided, and I feel now I`ve got a
responsibility to you and other voters who ask me about this.
And I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as
what I believe it is, a distraction from the important work we have to do
to combat climate change, and unfortunately, from my perspective, one that
interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with all the other
Therefore, I oppose it. And I oppose it because I don`t think…
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I don`t think it`s in the best interests of what we need to
do to combat climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: This issue has dogged Clinton for months, arguably years. And
just last week, she warned the White House that she soon would be
announcing her position. Her current chief rival, Bernie Sanders, has been
a vocal opponent of the pipeline for months. And I can tell you this.
When she was at State, it was widely assumed she wouldn`t stand in the way
of the pipeline. So in some ways, this does feel like a switch now that
we`re on the campaign trail. But she never went on the record either way
at the time.
We`ll be right back.
TODD: And welcome back to HARDBALL. We`re back with more of
tonight`s big story, the pope lands in America, specifically in Washington,
D.C., and both Democrats and Republicans find themselves energized by the
pope`s historic visit. They want to make it count. Republicans are making
a major push on some social issues, like abortion, and Democrats have just
unveiled an aggressive plan to combat climate change.
But the big moment in Washington comes in just two days, when the pope
will address a joint meeting of Congress. It is expected to be a highly
personal and an emotional moment.
We have two leading members of the Senate joining us tonight. Both,
by the way, are practicing Roman Catholics. Senator John Hoeven is a
Republican from North Dakota, but we begin with the Democratic senator from
Washington state, Maria Cantwell.
Senator Cantwell, welcome to HARDBALL.
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Good evening.
TODD: And let me just ask you personally – I`m planning to ask the
same question – what does the pope`s visit mean to you? What does this
pope mean to you maybe differently than previous popes, or not?
CANTWELL: Well, I just want to point out I was raised in a Catholic
What I really like about this pope, though, is his Jesuit background,
the Jesuits taking a pledge to focus on the poor and the less fortunate in
our society. And I think that that`s what we have seen from this pope
And one thing I like is, he`s also talked about our planet and what we
need to do to protect our planet and Mother Earth.
TODD: What do you hope to hear from him when he addresses Congress?
CANTWELL: Well, I think he`s been outspoken on some of these issues
about the impoverished and challenged, everything from immigration to
making sure – but I think this notion of thinking that we all need to work
together to reduce CO2, that there are countries around the globe that
basically are feeling the brunt of this, and have very little ability to
deal with it, so countries like the United States and China, taking on this
issue, like we did in this energy bill today, saying, this is the way we
can move forward on clean energy.
So, you know, I don`t expect the pope to, you know, endorse
legislation, but I do expect him to help change minds about this issue.
TODD: Today, there was a vote on an abortion bill that would have
banned abortion after 20 weeks. Explain why you voted against it.
CANTWELL: Well, this is an issue that is between a woman and her
And I think that we have now had so many votes on the issue to defund
Planned Parenthood, and, every time, we get close to a government shutdown.
So this particular proposal, I want the choices of a woman`s health to be
between her and her doctor.
TODD: And what do you say – and I say this – I bring it up, but,
obviously, this is a case where perhaps you don`t agree with the pope on
this issue. And he may talk about this as well in front of Congress. What
do you – how do you address that, as a Catholic?
CANTWELL: Well, you know, this pope – this pope has made some
statements showing great compassion on this issue of late.
And I respect that. And, so, I don`t know what he will be addressing
as far as Congress is concerned. But I think that the American people,
just as they support moving forward on a cleaner energy strategy, even
after all of this discussion, still support Planned Parenthood and think
that women should have access to health care.
And I think they`re probably a little tired of people shutting down
government or saying we can`t move forward unless we defund Planned
TODD: All right. Senator Cantwell, I`m going to leave it there.
Senator, thanks for joining us on HARDBALL.
Now I want to turn to the other side of the aisle, Senator John Hoeven
of North Dakota. He`s a practicing Roman Catholic.
Let me start with the same question I asked Senator Cantwell. What
does this visit mean to you? What does this new pope mean to you?
SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, Chuck, it`s historic. I
think it`s inspirational. And we welcome him not only to Congress, but to
And, again, I hope that people will use this as an opportunity to
really come together on – in many different ways. But I think it`s
inspirational. And I`m very much looking forward to it.
TODD: Well, he`s going to have – you heard Senator Cantwell. And I
think Democrats hope that the message of climate change is something that -
- that Republicans embrace more.
His message on climate change, what do you make of it? And has it
made you take a second look at some of his thoughts and when it comes to
maybe your faith and the environment?
HOEVEN: Well, I think we have differences of opinion in regard to
The real issue, though, is what you do about not only producing energy
in this country, but better environmental stewardship. And I work all the
time on encouraging and finding ways to advance the investments that will
help us deploy the new technologies that not only produce more energy, but
do it with better environmental stewardship.
TODD: Do you believe his – his message on income inequality, is that
something that you think, you know what, maybe we ought to address this
differently? Does that have an impact?
We know, on social issues, in the past, many Republicans have wanted
the pope to have an impact. What about on some of these economic issues?
Chuck, I think that`s a really good point. And that`s why I say I
hope it helps bring people together. I think we want to – we all want to
help our fellow man. The issue is the underlying philosophy on how best to
do it. And, again, I think that`s where we can come together with, I hope,
good ideas that we can reach some consensus on and do what will help
advance some of the things that the American people want us to address in a
way that`s productive.
TODD: All right.
We`re going to have this moment of comedy on Thursday, where everybody
is going to come together. And I think it`s going to be one of those
nonpartisan or bipartisan moments that makes us all feel good, makes you
guys in Congress feel good.
He leaves, and you guys are going to be fighting about whether to keep
the government open. It`s pretty clear the Senate is going to send a
message that they`re not going to be able to shut down, defund Planned
Parenthood, the way it`s going to work.
What is your message to House Republicans once you send over
legislation that won`t have defunding of Planned Parenthood? What is your
message to them? Should they keep fighting this? Is it worth shutting the
government down over?
HOEVEN: Chuck, in fairness, I think you have to look at what we`re
trying to do.
The legislation that we`re advancing provides the funding for women`s
health care. It`s just that it provides it to community health centers,
rather than to Planned Parenthood. And I think that`s what`s getting lost
in this debate.
And I hope that people will focus on it and see that we`re providing
the full amount of resources to health centers for women`s health. So,
we`re making sure that women`s health is addressed. And I think that needs
to be the focus, rather than jumping right by that and somehow saying, it`s
shutting down government.
TODD: Well, I understand that, but it`s not going to get through the
Senate. I mean, Mitch McConnell has basically already said that. I know
you guys are going to have the vote, do your best to get it.
But, if this fight over – is this fight over Planned Parenthood worth
shutting down the government over?
HOEVEN: I think that this is a debate that`s going to continue.
And I think if we look at the underlying effort, and that is that we
are funding women`s health, then, I think, long-term, we can win on this on
TODD: All right, you said long-term, but is it worth having this
HOEVEN: You know, again, I don`t think that we`re going to get into a
But I still think we have to focus on the matter at hand. And that is
not – making sure that we`re not having government funding of abortion,
but still funding women`s health.
TODD: All right. Senator Hoeven, I will leave it there. I think I
got you. I think you`re saying it`s not worth shutting the government down
over. Is that a fair characterization?
HOEVEN: Well, yes, we will – we are trying to make sure the
government is funded, but that the government is not funding abortion.
TODD: Fair enough.
Senator Hoeven, and, before that, Senator Cantwell, thank you both for
coming on today. Appreciate it.
HOEVEN: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: Up next: keeping the pontiff safe. Unprecedented security
measures are in place, as you might imagine, as Pope Francis makes his
three-city swing through the Northeast. We will tell you all about it.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
There, that was the pope arriving at the residence that he will be
staying at for the next couple of nights. He will be spending two nights
in Washington, D.C., on the first leg of his journey in this country. He`s
staying at the residence of the papal nuncio. It`s basically the Vatican`s
embassy to the United States, not technically an embassy, but that`s what -
- the closest thing to it.
The crowds have been gathering there since this afternoon. They got
really big. They have shrunk a little bit.
Our own Tom Costello there.
And, Tom, obviously, the security issue in Washington, D.C., here in
New York, there`s one as well, but, in Washington, they have shut down a
huge thoroughfare, unprecedented security. How they doing?
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Massachusetts Avenue, anybody who`s
ever come through Washington, driven up Embassy Row, you know that Mass.
Ave is a major thoroughfare, and it`s essentially shut down for all
Just to give you a sense, this is, right now, the Nunciature behind
me, this is, as you mentioned, essentially the Vatican embassy here in
Washington. On this side, you have the Norwegian Embassy. On that side,
you have got the Finish Embassy. And across the street, you have the vice
So, he has a very good neighborhood to spend the night in.
COSTELLO: And, as you would expect, he`s got tremendous security
We had probably, I would guess, 500, 600 people here on the other side
of the street when the pope arrived, mostly Hispanics, Spanish-speaking
people, who were very excited that the pope was here. They were singing
and they were praying and they were dancing. Entire families were here,
playing the guitar. It was really, I must say, a very moving afternoon,
with so many people, so many of the faithful here, to greet the pontiff as
For the most part, they have now spread out. They have left for the
night. Occasionally, you might hear some people go by and yell off to the
pope in Spanish or English, but, for the most part, the crowds have
And it proves it will likely be a pretty quiet night here. But he has
a very busy day ahead…
TODD: Yes, he does.
COSTELLO: … meeting with the president in the morning. Then he
goes to St. Matthew`s Cathedral for a meeting with U.S. bishops. He`s got
downtime here in the afternoon. And then in the evening – or, rather,
late afternoon, he goes to the Basilica for mass.
So, it will be a busy day tomorrow, and then we haven`t even talked
about the next day and the next day.
COSTELLO: It`s going to be a busy few days for this guy – back to
TODD: All right, Tom Costello, I appreciate it.
And, of course, we learned from Luke earlier that he will be serenaded
at 4:00 in the morning. So he`s going to have a big wakeup call.
Kasie Hunt is at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate
Conception on the campus of the Catholic University, where, as Tom just
told you, Pope Francis will say mass tomorrow.
Kasie, the scene at Catholic University, I know there`s been so much
excitement on campus there for weeks about this visit.
KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: They have been preparing for this
weeks, Chuck – for this – for – excuse me – for this for weeks.
And you`re right. There are tens of thousands, literally, of chairs
set up behind me that they put down one at a time in preparation for this
mass. And this is a place that, while I don`t think we`re going to
anticipate very many political issues cropping up here, we could easily see
the pope go off-script.
He is going to be in the Popemobile coming down the – Michigan
Avenue, not that far from here, before he enters the Basilica. They have
got it crossed off with caution tape inside. He is going to walk outside,
and then he will give a mass to the anticipated 25,000 people who are going
to be here.
They are going to do communion, but they`re only going to do bread for
those people who are here. The only people who will be partaking in wine
will be the clergy who are in attendance.
But I think, at this point, we`re probably anticipating that – you
were talking some about the potential political implications of this visit.
And while Jeb Bush and Columba Bush, his wife, are anticipated to be here
in the audience, the sense here is that the politics will probably wait for
that address to Congress on Thursday.
TODD: I think so.
Between the U.N. address and the congressional address, I think he`s
got plenty of places to send those messages. I`m guessing this is about
faith that we will see tomorrow night.
TODD: Kasie Hunt, thanks very much.
HUNT: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: Let me go specifically back into those security measures.
They`re in place to guard Pope Francis during the six-day visit to
this country. The pope is expected to draw millions of onlookers across
three cities. He will be using an open vehicle for his public appearances
that start tomorrow. In this case, of course, it`s known as the
And, by the way, it`s not a Mercedes anymore. It`s a Jeep Wrangler.
And much like the one he used in Ecuador this summer, it`s equipped only
with a glass front and a roof. When asked about his decision to use an
open vehicle last year, the pope simply told reporters: “It`s true that
anything could happen. But let`s face it. At my age, I don`t have much to
lose. It is in God`s hands.”
I`m joined now by NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams, because it
is not in God`s hands, his security here. It is in the Secret Service`s
Pete, you have been reporting all day. The Secret Service, they`re
very nervous about how open this pope is.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: They are.
They have gone to the Vatican. They have studied his movements. They
have looked at videos. They have met with his security people. And it`s a
balancing act. The pope wants to do what he wants to do. They have a
mission to protect him. And it`s the same kind of struggle that political
figures go through who are protected.
But they can`t grab on to the pope the way they would the president,
and hold him by the belt, that kind of thing. So it`s a new thing for the
Secret Service, certainly not ever protecting a pope. They have done it
before on previous visits, but all the open-air events in all these three
cities, the trips in the Popemobile.
So how do they do it? Well, for one thing, any time the pope is
around really big crowds, including the parades where he`s in the
Popemobile or the open-air masses, the crowd that`s there, even lining the
streets, will have to go through magnetometers. They will be screened
before they can even get there.
So, that`s the first thing they can do. Second thing they can do, of
course, is a massive police presence, a massive presence of local police in
those three cities, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C…
WILLIAMS: … and all-hands-on deck response from all sorts of
federal agencies, from the Coast Guard to the FBI to the ATF and all the
other three initial agencies that you can think of. All have a big role
Traffic will be greatly restricted. That little car that the pope is
riding in would be great for finding a parking place in Washington, if
there were any places to park.
WILLIAMS: But parking has been greatly restricted, traffic closed
WILLIAMS: And it will be kind of a moving thing as he goes around.
Traffic will be closed off around the White House for many blocks, around
the Capitol when he`s there, at the Basilica when he`s there, at St.
Matthew`s when he`s there.
And the same thing will be repeated in New York and Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, of the three cities, probably presents the greatest
challenge. They`re not as accustomed to these sorts of events as New York
WILLIAMS: … although New York has its own hands full, with the pope
coming and the president coming and the U.N. General Assembly, with 170
heads of states, all of whom have to be protected.
TODD: Well, that`s right. New York and D.C., they know how to do
this. It is Philly, as you mentioned, that I keep hearing is the – you
know, where everybody is a little more nervous.
Anyway, Pete Williams, I know you are going to be busy this week as
well. Thank you, sir.
WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.
TODD: Up next: And then there were 15.
Can you name all 15 still, by the way? The Republican field did
shrink by one, a surprising one. And with that development on Scott
Walker, which one of Walker`s former rivals has the most to gain? This
isn`t about percentages in the polls, folks. This is about staff and
activists on the ground.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I will suspend my campaign
immediately. I encourage other Republicans presidential candidates to
consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of
candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Scott Walker`s final request upon exiting the race yesterday was for
his fellow Republican candidates to follow his lead, so that an alternative
might emerge to face down Donald Trump. The timing of Walker`s decision
came as a surprise to many, as political reports, many staffers learned of
their impending unemployment on Twitter.
A look at the Real Clear Politics polling average for Walker`s short-
lived campaign shows everything you need to know about his boom and bust.
Once considered a promising candidate and the Iowa front-runner was mostly
downhill after he led the field briefly last April. Of course, the latest
poll from yesterday showed a drop nationally less than 1 percent.
Now, candidates like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and even Ted Cruz and
frankly Carly Fiorina are hoping to inherit some of Walker`s former staff
and key supporters.
But when asked if he`ll seek Walker`s endorsement on FOX News
yesterday, Donald Trump shrugged off the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Do you intend to ask him for his
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): I don`t
think so. I think he knows the different players. He`s probably got to –
don`t forget, I`m very much of an outsider and I think it`s probably a
little bit tough for him to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Walker, of course, is now the second Republican to drop out of
the race following another governor, a former governor in that case, Rick
Perry, earlier this month. Both seem to have had learned a hard lesson
about the 2016 cycle. If at first you don`t succeed, you don`t succeed.
You don`t get a second look, at least with a field like this.
I`m joined now by the roundtable this evening. Clarence Page, of
course, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from the “Chicago Tribune”,
Melinda Henneberger is a senior writer for “Bloomberg Politics”, and
Jonathan Allen is a political reporter with Vox.
Jonathan, let me start with you on Walker fallout. Who`s going to
stand to benefit the most? He had an extensive infrastructure in the early
states. Forget – we know he didn`t have a lot of support right now, but
he had an infrastructure, let`s say you`re Carly Fiorina and you
desperately need one, you could help her. Rubio needs help. Cruz may need
Who benefits the most from Walker exiting on that front?
JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: Yes, there`s a huge walker implosion primary
going on, in terms of his donors and that infrastructure that you were
talking about, in terms of aides. I`m not sure and it doesn`t seem clear
at this point that one person is going to benefit from it. I think that`s
the problem on the Republican side right now, is no one knows who the
establishment candidate against Trump is going to be. And if those people,
those donors and those staffers divide among those other candidates, then
Donald Trump ends up being the big winner of Scott Walker leaving the race.
TODD: That`s an interesting way to put it.
Speaking of Trump, Melinda and Clarence, I want you to take a listen
to this. “60 Minutes” today released a clip. Scott Pelley interviewed
Trump for “60 Minutes” this coming Sunday. But the clip they released is
on an answer that they had tried to get from him and why Trump didn`t
correct the anti-Muslim questioner at that event last Thursday.
Here`s what Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: It was a testing moment for a man running for
TRUMP: I don`t think so.
PELLEY: You never know when their coming.
TRUMP: I don`t think so.
PELLEY: But here you had a bigot that you could have slapped down –
TRUMP: You don`t know that. You don`t know that. I mean, he asked a
question. You don`t know that he was a bigot. But, look –
PELLEY: A problem in this country and it`s Muslims?
TRUMP: Well, let me ask you this. So, you said there`s a problem in
this country and it`s Muslims, all right? I love the Muslims. I have
many, many friends. People living in this building, Muslims. They`re
But like everything else, you have people where there are problems.
Now, we can say, there are no problems with the Muslims. There`s no
problem, there`s no terrorism, there`s no crime, there`s no anything, they
didn`t knock down the World Trade Center. To the best of my knowledge, the
people that knocked down the World Trade Center, you know where they –
they didn`t fly back to Sweden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: You know, Melinda, that to me is perhaps the debate that we
should be having or the conversation we should be having is, there is a lot
of Islamophobia in this country, and frankly the only thing many Americans
see when it comes to Islam are the extremists. They don`t see day-to-day
Muslims and this may contribute to it.
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well, I think this is very
dangerous rhetoric and this conversation, if Donald Trump keeps talking
about Mexican immigrants and Muslims, the way he has been, and, you know,
Muslims the way Ben Carson has been, I wonder, to couple what you`re asking
now with the question about what the fallout from Scott Walker is going to
be, I think that the big benefactor are the one who`s going to inherit
support and is going to win out of this is almost destined to be Marco
Rubio, at this point, because the Republican Party is going to have to show
that they`re not anti-immigrant. They`re not anti – someone who looks
different or who has a different faith or a different skin color.
I really think that he is going to be coming in for a lot of second
looks, as Walker is getting out, and as Trump keeps talking like this, and
as Ben Carson keeps talking like this.
TODD: Well, and, you know, Scott Walker was talking about looking
for an optimistic message. Marco Rubio has probably arguably been the most
optimistic of the candidates when you hear him talk.
Clarence, this larger question here, Trump defended his comments by
saying, hey, who was it that knocked down the World Trade Center? And it
gets back to this larger question. There`s a strong case in here that the
way Americans, what they see of Muslims, on the news every day, is only,
basically, people that are perverting the religion and conducting
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, that was what George W. Bush
said to his credit, after 9/11. He stood with Islamic leaders, here in
Washington, and said that those hijackers are perverting Islam. They are
hijacking Islam. And that the – that Islam is a religion of peace.
That was a very strong statement, very important for him to make. And
you remember a lot of the Islamophobic attacks we feared might happen
didn`t happen for the most part after 9/11. Trump is just the opposite.
He`s running a campaign against political correctness. He has told us so.
We need to take that seriously.
As a result, he is undermining the Republican message, which is to say
that that racism is not a big problem, that Islamophobia is not a big
problem. You notice how little they`ve mentioned it at all unless
questioned during these debates about racial issues and all, even though
polls show it ranking very high as a concern of the American people.
And Trump is blowing that whole game now. He`s making the whole party
look like it is harboring racism and Islamophobia, whatever else he may
say. And a lot of people in the party are delighted that he`s flouting
political correctness, which they see as a liberal conceit trying to sensor
conservatives. So, we`ve got this shadow campaign going on here, Chuck.
TODD: Very quickly, Melinda.
HENNEBERGER: And it`s the way he`s defining political correctness.
It`s not really political correctness. It`s really racism in some cases
and just plain old good manners in others. And he`s just putting that
label on it.
TODD: Well, I`m going to do a pause here. All of you are coming back
after the break. You`re sticking around.
Up next, we`re going to try to tackle the top story of the day, the
politics of the pope`s visit here. The first visit he`s made to the United
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
TODD: Ben Carson has been dealing with more questions over his
statement to me on “Meet the Press” that he would not advocate a Muslim for
president. Here he was at a press availability earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It seems to be hard for
people to actually hear English and understand it. I said I would support
anyone regardless of their background if, in fact, they embrace American
values and our Constitution, and are willing to place that above their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Mitt Romney is now weighing in. Mitt Romney the first Mormon
presidential nominee of a major party tweeted this last night: “Of course,
no religious test for the presidency. Every faith adds to our national
We`ll be back after this.
TODD: And we are back with the HARDBALL roundtable. Clarence,
Melinda and Jonathan are all here.
The politics of the pope`s visit, the impact it could have on
Congress. Jonathan Allen, you spent time covering Congress. Talk about
the anticipation where the pope could have some impact on this current
ALLEN: Well, there`s anticipation and anxiety. I think there are
times where Republicans are going to feel uncomfortable particularly when
he`s talking about immigration and climate change, Republicans – Democrats
will feel uncomfortable when he talks about a culture of life, some of
But the one place where I think he might be able to be some sway is
talking about the refugee crisis, the international refugee crisis. And he
doesn`t have to talk about it in specific terms, but this is something that
crosses party lines. You`ve got humanitarians on the right. You`ve got
humanitarians on left. And I think what you`ve got in this country, I`m
not sure the public is ready to necessarily take in all those refugees. I
think there`s been some hesitancy on the political level. And I think
that`s a place where he can really make a difference.
TODD: Hey, Melinda, David Maraniss said to me on Sunday he thought
the pope was going to present quite the contrast to what we`ve seen on the
political trail and in fact, that contrast could actually have a positive
hangover on the campaign once it sort of resumes in the public
consciousness. Do you buy that?
HENNEBERGER: I don`t know if that`s true. If he means if it will
have an effect on the campaign itself on the candidates themselves –
TODD: I think maybe the tone of the campaign a little bit perhaps is
where he was going –
HENNEBERGER: I`m not sure I`m as optimistic as all that. But I just
want to say how much I agree that the pope is most likely to move the
needle on the refugee stuff. You know, when he has talked about this in
the past, when he spoke in Europe saying every parish has as the Vatican
has taken in two refugee families, every parish and every institution
should take in a family, he said, I`m going to give you some advice.
HENNEBERGER: We know what we`re going to be judged on in the final
judgment. Matthew 25 tells us. We`re going to be asked, did you help a
refugee? And if you can say, yes, congratulations. You passed the test.
I think that kind of rhetoric is really difficult to blow off from the
TODD: And, Clarence, very quickly, Bill Richardson made a point. He
thought this pope could play a mediating role in a lot of world conflicts
like he did with Cuba.
PAGE: Exactly. We know this pope has been very public about
supporting the Iran nuclear deal, for example. He sees us better off with
it than without it. I think that`s an issue where he can bring some
grassroots and change the tone in Washington at least a little bit.
TODD: We`re always hopeful for a change in tone in Washington.
Clarence Page, Melinda Henneberger, and Jonathan Allen, thank you
HARDBALL will be back right after this.
TODD: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Chris Matthews will be back tomorrow.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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