tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC May 10, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm EDT
good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington leading off the pursuit of happiness. the declaration of independence says we're endowed by our creator of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. republican strategist mark mckinnon points out that the pursuit of happiness was exactly what president obama was protecting yesterday when he came out for gay marriage. surely those are fighting words. not everyone agrees. tonight, tony perkins is a researcher that says why he thinks president obama got it all wrong. also, is gay marriage ultimately going to the supreme court? plus a story that's fwegett a lot of attention. it's about bullying, and a program that mitt romney took part in when he was in boarding school. romney said he apologized but said he didn't remember. a man who is likely to
become maine's new senator may become the most important person in the senate. why? because he's an independent and the right he chooses could give chances to someone. we have barney frank and tony perkins. tony, thanks for coming on and you've been on many times before. let me read something you said recently. you were asked about this. what would you say if one of your kids said that he was gay? and you said, i doubt that would happen with my children as we are teaching them the right way that they are to interact as human beings. well, what do you mean by that? if your kid is gay, he's gay, right? what would you have to do with whether he's gay or not? >> when you look at the social science research, there is not
conclusive evidence that this is genetic or biological. it is a complex mix of environmental factors. and when you can control many of those environmental factors, you can teach your kids certain ways, you can protect them from certain experiences and certain things that could happen to them that could lead them down a certain path. >> so parents decide, by the way they raise kids -- >> it is a major fact. what else they suggest is environment that drives a lot of this. not a choice, i said environment. >> that clashes with a lot of thinking. congressman frank, what do you make of that statement? >> let me come to dick cheney's defense here, chris. according to mr. perkins, it's dick cheney's fault that his daughter was a lesbian. first of all, i don't think there's anything wrong with it, and secondly, the notion that cheney parnented in nan inferio way to mr. perkins is an absurdity. i don't think mr. cheney taught
his daughter to act improperly and she became a lesbian. i know of no such evidence that the parents have an effect one way or another. i don't know anybody for whom their sexual orientation wasn't involuntary, whether people are straight or gay, but there are a lot of conservative people who have had gay and lesbian children, and for mr. perkins to be blaming the parents, the cheney cheneys, for example, for having a lesbian daughter is another absurdity. >> i never blamed anyone or accused anyone -- >> but you said the way you parent determines your child. >> i said the parents can control a lot of those environmental factors. barney is the one who said it was a problem. >> he's just backing up what he said. he said he taught his children how to interact properly. he's the one that said it's improper.
he backs away from what he says. he's on tv now, and he wants to look for civil. he clearly said "improperly direct." >> we're going to go back and show what you said. the question was, what would you do if one of your children came to you and said they were gay? here's what you said, it's on tape. let's watch and listen. >> i doubt that would happen with my children as we are teaching them the right ways that they are to interact as human beings. >> so even though there is a number of people who have become gay or believe they're gay from a very early age, you believe it wouldn't happen with you because of what you what? what do you do to make sure anyone would doubt your kid was gay? that is an enormous power you have. >> people have tremendous power in the direction their children go, in what's appropriate,
what's not appropriate. i teach my children from the scripture, i teach them biblical stories of morality. >> are you saying if you were barney's father, he wouldn't be gay? >> no, i'm not saying that. barney is a lot older than i am. >> congrei apologize. he said it wasn't right. he said his children would be gay because he would teach them the right way to interact. that would be the wrong way. he also said he would teach them right from wrong. so he clearly was saying that being gay was the wrong way, and once again, apparently the cheneys aren't as smart or biblical or morally righteous as he is, and i think that's nonsense. >> let's go to someone else because this is going -- i'm convinced this is going to get into the religious areas as this campaign goes along. here's franklin graham and
here's what he had to say, the son of billy graham. the only reason we pay attention to this guy is he is the son of a great man. he had a strong reaction to the president's comment about same-sex marriage. >> in changing his position from that of senator/candidate obama, president obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same god who created and defined marriage. it grieves me that our president should now affirm same-sex marriage, though i believe it grieves god even more. the institution of marriage should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. the definition was set long ago and changing lejts lags or policy will never change god's definition. this is a sad day for america. may god help us. do you agree with what he said? >> i believe the definition of marriage is a sad commentary on this society.
i do know this. when we tinker with public policy as it per pains tains to marriage, there are outcomes for that. we've ended up with more children without fathers. that's had consequences from an economic standpoint for our society. so when we talk about the policy aspects of this, it affects children. the reason -- >> so changing the definition of marriage is a bad thing in itself? >> it is. >> what do you think of the mormon religion changing its definition? >> what did it change to? >> it changed from polygamy to monogamy. you just said changing the rules of marriage is bad in itself. >> yeah, they had to change the rules to become a state because -- >> go ahead, your thoughts, mr. frank. >> well, first of all, he says god decided. as i have read in the bible, the
old testament, marriage was a contract between one man and one woman. abraham, the founder of the religions, took a second wife because his wife couldn't give him children. now, he kicked out the second wife and her child. there was polygamy in the bible, the notion of one man and one woman was not only what god said. secondly, mr. perkins said it was too social. there would be a problem for the republican naert taking any. >> but the point is this. marriage 2004. . mr. perkins said.
>> again, it is illogical. t the. it makes no sense. in fact, there has been no negati negative. >> let's switch to the new testament for a minute. more familiar territory for you and a lot of our audience. let me ask you this. i am struck, as a straight guy, with these wonderful relationships that have come out. people have been together for 20, 30, 40 years. women, when they come out, they're the most familial people in the world. men come out, share everything together for 20 or 30 years -- you can call that a cynic, if you want but what do we do when they asked the society for.
. . why is that wrong for them to ask for that? is it wrong for them to ask for it? >> why has society recognized marriage? what has been the purpose of marriage? >> there's many purposes. >> they are? >> it's social organization, it's the way humans intended over the years to organize it. >> and it's been the place where children are created in the next generation. what we are talking. one relationship, this relationship. that's not how we make policy. we make policy for the best for society as a whole. >> america is not just about
having kids, it's staying together, it's forming a foundlee. >> mr. perkins makes perfectly good sense. this could interfere with anybody else's ability and right to have children, first of all, because many marriages don't work for children. many have an in fertile. it's one thing to say that, mr. perkins, another to say that it's the rule. you said it's the rule. you said before that, you never liked what you said. you say these things, then you back away. you said that was the purpose of marriage. there was a number of purposes, including foreboding the love of
two people who want to be together, but the wedding of two men getting married, how does that affect the right of having children? if you're concerned about people getting married having children, what you want to do is ban adoption by anybody except a married couple, which, of course, would be terrible for children. everybo everybody. if you say a doctor only happens with married couples, a lot of. >> we know that when you change the definition of marriage and change the law, the law. religious organizations are impacted. >> by your definition, the only
reason to get married is to have children. today, this afternoon, and just a few minutes ago, baromney say he doesn't have a problem with states being able to adopt children. do you agree with that? >> studies show kids do better with a mom and a dad, and i think we should go with what works best. >> what do you think about that, barney? he says kids should be with a mom and a dad. this is news. >> you know, we as a society take action which we believe strengthens the nation. i happen to believe the best setting for raising a child is where there is the opportunity for a mom and a dad to be in the home. i know that many circumstances where that's not possible to death or divorce, how children
are raised with a mom and a dad, and i say we continue the definition between a man and a woman and we encourage marriage between a man and a woman. >> so same-sex couples can have kids but they can't get married. >> you can encourage marriage. i don't know how you do that, but even if you believe it's best for a child to be adopted by a married couple, everybody who deals with adoption understands, there aren't enough marriage. so the choice in most cases is not whether a child is adopted by a man and a woman living as husband and wife but whether the child sa dopis adopted at all. the number of people adopting children who were born with
aids, mr. perkins would have condemned those children to never having loving parents because they weren't the parents he approved of. >> that's absolutely not true. >> are you with the governor on the right of gay people? he said he's fine with them adopting. >> children need a mom and a dad. the fact that there is not an excess of children being adopted. that's why people are going out of the country to adopt children. >> there were not children. >> yes, there was, children. most parents are having to go out of the country to. >> well, you just said that there was no such children, only special needs children and children with aids, and loving, gay couples what adopted these kids who couldn't be adopted by
other people. >> congressman frank, please come back again and again. i think it's interesting that congressman frank and governor romney agree with gay couples being able to adopt. but to use i am. >> it's glg. coming up, it's gay marriage headed to the supreme court. this is "hardball." if you made a list of countries from around the world... ...with the best math scores. ...the united states would be on that list. in 25th place.
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we start with ohio where it provides president obama with a tight race, couldn't be tighter. obama 45, romney 44. in ohio, it's a tie. obama 45, romney 45, portman 45. now to florida where a new suffolk poll has a similar number, romney 47, obama 44. romney/rubio 47, and obama/biden, 44. we'll be right back. then there was a moment. when i decided to find a way to keep going. go for olympic gold and go to college too. [ male announcer ] every day we help students earn their bachelor's or master's degree for tomorrow's careers. this is your moment. let nothing stand in your way. devry university, proud to support the education
david boyce in the bush versus gore fight. edward lawson is also an attorney who founded the president's group freedom to marry. let me show you both what the president said in that abc interview about gay marriage today being a state issue. that's what the president says. let's watch him. >> i continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level because historically this has not been a federal issue. >> as president, it's not being worked out on the state level. we saw that tuesday in north carolina, the 30th straight, to ban gay marriage. >> what i'm saying is different states are coming to different conclusions. i think it's important to recognize that folks who feel very strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a woman, many of them are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective. a bunch of them are friends of
mine. >> thank you. we also have evan walsh. it seems there are three ways we could a equality of marriage. the supreme court could rule equality as a right, we could have them decide individually, or it could be done by the voters, which they don't seem to want to do. your thoughts, ted? what is the most likely and most expeditious way to get marriage equality? >> when you put constitutional rights to a vote, the minorities lose those battles. that's what's been happening state after state -- >> 30-some states. >> yes, in a row. i heard the previous segment, we were talking about 40 years ago. 40 years ago in 14 states, it was against the law for interracial people, the president struck that down 9-0. many other states, there was a change in the definition of marriage to allow, by the supreme court, to allow persons
to marry someone of another race. the president's mother and father couldn't have been married in virginia without going to jail because they would have been convicted of a felon in 1977. the president has said 14 times that marriage is a if you understand rental right. it's a right of privacy, it's a matter of liberty, it's a matter of spirituality. it isn't for the purpose of appropriation. it's never been a condition by any state that you had to be able to appropriate to engage in marriage. we have a constitutional right. people in prison have a constitutional right to get married. >> when you're litigating this, you're hoping the supreme court will rule on this. >> a state-by-state basis, how does that help people in
alabama? >> you could go by legislation. let me go to avenevan. there are three ways to do this, the states could rule it's a right, the supreme court could make the decision, or voters could make the decision. what do you think should be done, evan? >> well, ted is exactly right, that the constitution affords every american the freedom to marry, and that's the same freedom gay people are invoking, the same as marriage in the past in voevoked it. but the president is right, that the way we get through is through a patchwork of struggles. some states get there faster, other states fight it, they debate, and it takes the court to encourage it. >> what do you think it will take for this country to vote on
equality? >> if we do our work in the next 10 to 20 to 50 years ago. ted, who spoke passionately as a president and an american, and thanks to president obama. >> let me ask you about the politics of this. if this becomes a partisan, romney voted against it. if this goes into the ballot box in november, will that advance the cause of state-by-state action or delay it? evan. >> there is going to be state-by-state action also on the ballot. >> this debate we're having between the two presidential candidates? it's expedite when you hope to
be the ten years of quality. >> that includes the president so powerfully yesterday. that's how we're moving hearts and minds and it's on the ballot in four states in november, and they're all moving forward and it's the interplay that's going to get them there. >> what's your sense in this case? i'm all for you guys, i think it it's. what do you think the president's been fishl statement will do. >> i think what the president did was very, very helpful. and he was good to do it. that was something that was very important. the way he said it was very impressive, talking about his family, talking about his daughters, talking about loving couples he bookses. i think the more people talk
about how these polz have shifted. equality marriage for six-sex what i have found and what david boyce has found, the more we talk about this, the more we realize it's our friends. we want to li together to make a building block out of society with experts talking about the raising of children, children do just as well in same-sex relationships, in same-sex households as they -- the quality of the parenting depends on the quality of the of the the more we talk about this issue, the more people will understand that it is terribly unfair and
discriminatory to deny happiness and stability to same-sex couples. >> we all have to be reminded in our siscivics, and i think you w it well. if we're not going to get a large quantity by people voting, because people don't vote for rights, as you pointed out. your hope -- you believe the politicians of this country will act gradually and inevitably. >> it's an interaction between the cords and the people who are getting there. they got it wrong before they got it right. i said we need to continue moving more states and moving more hearts and.
. ted austin, david boyce who fought each other they were hoping this would be right. evan walsh, thank you for coming out. on sunday, i'll be on "meet the press." this is "hardball," the place for politics. ♪ [ lauer ] this is our team. and unlike other countries, it's built by your donations, not government funding. and now, to support our athletes, you can donate a stitch in america's flag for the 2012 olympic games in london. help raise our flag, add your stitch at teamusa.org. for ttoday is gonna be ans important day for us. you ready? we wanna be our brother's keeper. what's number two we wanna do?
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the report in today's "washington post" recounts a cruel episode mitt romney took part in during his boarding school days. yesterday he had someone in his campaign deny the story, but today romney apologized and said he couldn't remember doing it. that's ahead and it's going to be hot here. you're watching "hardball," a place for politics. with less chronic low back pain. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain.
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i'm hampton pierson with your cnbc market wrap. the dow snaps a six-day losing streak with a 20-point gain, s&p up 3, the nasdaq down 1.07. a record high on home sales. a raise in a 30-year mortgage up to 3% this week. now back to "hardball." today the "washington post" reported a rather troubling account of mitt romney's teenager years when he was 16 or
17 at a boarding school. according to the "washington post," romney picked on a kid that they described as soft-spoken and teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality and his hair that draped over one eye. they took offense to the student's looks and allowed a p posse to tackle him, pin him to the ground and forcibly cut his harrah's the boy cried and screamed for help. romney said he can't remember doing it. the victim clearly did. political analyst and writer of the huffington post media group, and political reporter of the "washington post" which broke this story today. nia, what can you give us in the context? it seems hideously absurd that somebody would engage in this. there were five witnesses to it. and then deny remembering doing
it. how many he escapades like thisd he engage in? it doesn't seem right that he can't remember. >> he gave an interview on fox news about an hour ago where he says he can't remember it, but essentially this is the report that's out there and he didn't push back against it, sort of admitting that it happened. but you're right, this is a campaign of trying to finesse this all day, and i asked if they had any surrogates pushing back on this, and they tried to find some of his friends to come out and say, this didn't happen, or mitt romney was really a great guy in high school. >> is that the defense? he didn't cut my hair, he's okay. >> they said to imply that he was a bully is absurd. he was clownish but never mean, but this incident certainly does speak to something of a mean streak that he had, and you had his wife come out and talk about
this and say, you know, he likes to prank and joke around and he's full of hijinx, and you imagine that's the talking point that she probably won't say going forward because this sort of reveals kind of an uglyer side. >> for anybody who has got kids, anybody who has been a kid, you know there are boys on campus and he's one that will answer for you. here's how romney responded to the story on fox an hour ago. let's watch. >> first of all, i had no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be. going back to the 1960s, that wasn't something we all discussed or considered, so that's simply just not accurate. i don't recall the incident myself, but i've seen the reports, and i'm not going to argue with that. there is no question but that i did some stupid things when i was in high school, and obviously, if i hurt anyone by virtue of that, i would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.
>> doesn't pass the smell test that he can't remember it, howard. he said a lot of things about it, i felt different at that time, i had a bully streak, i got over it, it was cruel, i was tougher on kids than i should have been, but to say i can't remember putting a kid on the ground with a bunch of other guys, leading the group to do it, cutting his hair while he was crying and screaming for help, and not remembering doing that? >> i'm highly skeptical because i know people who went to that school. it's a very small, intimate, very nurturing private school in the country. academically, culturally, very tony. something like this happens, it's something that everybody who participated is going to remember and everybody at the school is going to know about it. >> this is what you write novels about it. >> it doesn't pass the smell test, but my take on this is that mitt romney in a way has to be careful because his whole campaign in the primaries was about attack. it wasn't about him, it was
about attacking the other people. he's been somewhat reticent to really open up about who he is, his own life story, he doesn't want to talk about the mormon years, he doesn't really want to talk about the details, et cetera. to some extent he's an empty canvas, and while it may seem absurd about this story what he was like at 16 years old to dominate the news, the fact is more stories like this are going to come out once he says more about himself. >> within the last week, richard grinnell, a gay fellow on his staff he picked out himself, was drummed out of the campaign. he didn't fight to keep him. he could have called the guy and said, i need you and want to keep you. all he had to do was stand up to the creeps leading the campaign. just like in high school, he had the chance to lead. in this case he could have stood up to the bad guys, and he won't do it. here's some news, by the way, on
the top story. the vice president's office confirms that joe biden apologized to the president's office by coming out about gay marriage before the president did. so there you have a guy acting on his heart causatively getting into a little trouble at the oval office. that's not a big story to me. here's one that will. nia, the grinnell story. how do you report anything but the candidate for president is afraid of some little white wing preacher from texas somewhere, and rather than back his guy backs the creep out of texas and says you're off the campaign because i can't take the heat for you, brother. >> well, you know, their story is that they very much wanted him to stay, that on the one hand they felt like he should sort of lay low while a lot of this conversation about his sexuality and about these tweets was going down, but they essentially wanted him to say -- i think one of the challenges
mitt romney had is he has to fill in the blank of who he is. to do that now, to make people think of him in a certain way, as a prep school kid, as someone who is out of touch with normal folks, and he's got to rush to figure out how he's going to present himself. for low information voters, this is the story i think that could really stick around and damage him early on. he's got to try to figure out how to frame himself as a compassionate conservative. >> chris, there's been no soul sister moment on this with mitt romney. >> he could have said he didn't agree with them so easily. >> in this case, yes, absolutely. >> he's a conservative, he believes in my foreign policy, i need him, get out of my face. >> i think mitt romney is still very tentative and very unsure of his support on the right. >> nia, thanks so much for the
report. following up on what the "washington post" did break this morning with a lot of backup there. mitt romney could be the most important member of the u.s. senate, and angus king is not telling anybody which party he's going to caucus with. i think there was a tv show called "mr. sterling" about this guy. you're watching "hardball." but with advair, i'm breathing better so now i can take the lead on a science adventure. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator, working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis
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back to "hardball." an independent candidate leading the field to get in the seat vacated by snow, power could shift in november. 30 democratic held seats are considered toss-ups. they hope to pick up enough seats to gain a majority of even. if king ends up in maine, he's got a big lead now. his decision on which party to caucus party has power. welcome, mr. king. you never know which side he was on and that worked for india. how do you become -- suppose you want to remain an independent, and i mean a complete independent. would you have a seat in the middle aisle and have a seat right there in the middle of the democrat and republican side? >> this is unchartered
territory, chris, and what i want to do is remain as independent as i can as long as i can and there's all this business about caucus and senate rules and parliamentary procedure. it really is something that we're going to have to figure out. but to the engs extent that i can call them as i see them, that's the direction that i want to go in. >> do you think it should be the case that you have to join one of the two major political parties in order to get a committee assignment? >> i don't think so. you know, i carry the constitution around on my iphone. i have a great app called the usa manual. the world caucus doesn't appear anywhere. neither does the word party. and i don't see how you can necessarily exclude a duly elected nate from anywhere else. i've got to tell you, chris, this is what i think is a big part of the problem with the country is there's more fighting and bickering and blaming and
everything else and the problems of the country and they are significant ones, just aren't being dealt with. congress is absolutely not working and until you make the institution work that the framers gave us to solve our problems, you're never going to get to the solution of the problems. it didn't always have to be that way. >> why didn't -- why don't you do something remarkable. you simply could be the one with the vice president that decides things and you go on and say, look, i'm going to stay here in the center and when i don't i'll be opposed to them. i'm going to be the divisive vote here. i'm going to give up all of my committee assignments to earn my independence. i refuse to join any caucus and
will not be bought out with a committee assignment. i'm not going to take ranking. i'll just sit here in the middle and decide all of the key votes. why don't do you that? >> that's absolutely an option. on the other hand, chris, i don't want to go down just to stand on principle and then be a potted plant. i'm representing the people of maine and part -- >> you could be the judge on everything. >> well, yeah. and if i can be effective on behalf of maine, if i'm fortunate enough to be sent down there, that's absolutely an option. i'm going to look at all of those options and look at the parliamentary rules and whether they can constitutionally -- >> let me do some pandering now. i love maine. i worked for senator muskee and i think he did clean air, budget reform, did so many good things and there's something about maine that liked him. what is about maine that likes people in the middle, like olympia snow, susan collins,
like you and you're somewhere out there in the flinty down east attitude of independence and libertarian and you guys just voted for ron paul for president. what is it about maine? >> well, i think it's cultural and practical. i think it goes back -- who founded maine? fishermen, farmers, foresters. those are all solitary pursuits. people that work together but didn't have to rely too much on somebody else doing something for them. flinty is a good word. you mentioned senator muskee. but margaret chase smith who was a wonderful republican senator from maine, she was always very independent. nobody knew how she was going to vote until they got to the s's in the alphabet and she was never a favorite of the good old boys. >> who are you voting for for president? >> i'm going to vote for obama.
i disagree with him on a lot of matters. i've thought a lot about it but i think given the hand that he was dealt, he's done a good job and you've got to make a choice and i've never yet been presented with the perfect candidate. so that's the decision i've made. >> if you have a sudden evolution overnight, please come on "hardball" and tell us which one. we're all watching for that. angus king, front-runner for maine. you're watching "hardball," a place for politics. i went to a small high school. the teacher that comes to mind for me is my high school math teacher, dr. gilmore. i mean he could teach. he was there for us, even if we needed him in college. you could call him, you had his phone number. he was just focused on making sure we were gonna be successful.
let me finish tonight with this. barack obama's a man of history. his very life has been an event. this meeting of an american woman from kansas with a student from kenya is success. extraordinary really. as he put it in that great speech in boston eight years ago, only in this country is my story possible. he's been our president for 3 1/2 years and we're already used to something that is extraordinary, an african-american president in the white house. and yesterday he did it again, becoming the president declaring himself for same-sex marriage. years, decades from now they will not be talking about the circumstances. merely the extraordinary fact. no one else had ever done t he did it. he, barack obama. so we move on to perhaps more history. one thing that i've come to
believe that's political in nature, this is what barack obama needs to be doing, making history. the moment he becomes just another president maintaining the way he is, he loses himself. he is, i guess i'm saying, a captive of history as a captor. he needs to be making history. over and over again. because if he stops, he stops being what he can be and the american people will surely know it. before you think of the politics, if you're black in this country, a black man can be president because one is. if you're gay, you know that america stands for your right to love because an american president is declared as much. we live in a powerful time. as long as barack obama is at the helm and will continue to be and that's "hardball" for now. "politics dls nation" with al sharpton starts right now. >> welcome to politicsnation, i'm al sharpton. when you're running for president, every part of your life is