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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 02/12/15

Guests: Sen. Angus King, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Rep. Debbie WassermanSchultz, Mayor Michael Nutter, Sen. Bob Casey, Boris Johnson, Nia-MalikaHenderson, Wesley Lowery

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."   MATTHEWS: Right. KING: They`re trying to try to find that middle ground, but it`s a fascinating debate. 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. KING: Well... MATTHEWS: Isn`t it a safer position to vote against, no matter what the war is, a safer -- let me ask you about this... (CROSSTALK) 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... MATTHEWS: OK... KING: ... presidents to unilaterally have the power to take us into war. 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 brand-new phrase... MATTHEWS: Yes. 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... KING: No. 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 decisions. 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 it`s... (CROSSTALK) 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. MATTHEWS: Yes. 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 so. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you so much, Senator Angus Kaine -- King, of course... KING: King! 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 a deal? 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 American interests. 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 it? 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. MATTHEWS: Yes. 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 the region. 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 voting rights. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 the guy. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (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. (VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Oh, it`s Philadelphia! Anyway, joining me right now -- it`s very dramatic, Deborah! Very dramatic! The Democrats... (CROSSTALK) 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 this review. 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 was! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: We love that! But not only are you completely clear, but you`re productive. You brought the pope. NUTTER: Well... MATTHEWS: And you`re not even Catholic anymore. You brought the... (LAUGHTER) 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? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Because my wife can help. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, I`m just kidding. (CROSSTALK) 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 from Scranton. 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. (LAUGHTER)   RENDELL: Not all of them. MATTHEWS: Governor. Senator, go ahead. (CROSSTALK) 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 Philadelphia`s bid. 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.   (LAUGHTER) 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. CASEY: Absolutely. (CROSSTALK) 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 here. 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 you, Congresswoman.   (CROSSTALK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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. (CROSSTALK) 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 in Wisconsin. (LAUGHTER) WALKER: It is going well, and I would like to see an even bigger evolution as well. (END VIDEOTAPE) 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 thing. (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 country. 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 people. (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.   (LAUGHTER) 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. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That silly moose. It was all we ever talked -- Boris, darling, let`s kill that silly moose. JOHNSON: No, no. (CROSSTALK) 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... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes? By the way, you`re eligible for run for president. JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. That`s right. I pay taxes. (CROSSTALK) 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. MATTHEWS: Right. 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 conservative. 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 OK guy... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why is he afraid of saying, I believe in science? JOHNSON: I felt he`s a great guy. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, in your party. (CROSSTALK) JOHNSON: Totally, totally, totally bizarre. MATTHEWS: What is he afraid of?   JOHNSON: The theory of evolution, as you know, was propounded and posited... (CROSSTALK) 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. MATTHEWS: OK. 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. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: OK. I`m Roman Catholic. And we were taught evolution from day one in school. (CROSSTALK) 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. Chris. 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 in 1940. 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 us. JOHNSON: Yes. 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.   (CROSSTALK) 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 we need? 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 certainly have... MATTHEWS: Buckled? 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 civilization. (CROSSTALK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 HARDBALL. 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 African-Americans. 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 he Turzai. (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, done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Done.   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. YELTON: Gee.   (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) 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 thoughts? 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 or hypocrisy. 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 percent -- 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 -- (CROSSTALK) 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 percent. 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 terrible? 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 Baltimore City. MATTHEWS: Like "The Good Wife." (LAUGHTER)   (CROSSTALK) 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 not suicidal. 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 four? 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 -- (CROSSTALK) 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 --   (CROSSTALK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seconds left in the game, down by one, he gets it! Mr. President? 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. We`re back.   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 health care. 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 to figure out how to sign up.   February 15th. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) 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? (CROSSTALK) 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. MATTHEWS: OK. 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 - - (CROSSTALK) 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." February. February. (CROSSTALK)   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? (CROSSTALK) 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 president. HENDERSON: Totally. 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 -- (CROSSTALK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 party. 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. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. 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