tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 16, 2013 2:00am-3:00am EST
>> i would like the asteroid meeting, i'm excited about the floating sun lasers, thank you for joining us, you get the last word. >> thank you. "the ed show" is up next. cruising for a bruising. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. as butch cassidy once asked, who are these guys? what a ratty bunch. they spend their days holed up in the senate taking pot shots at the president trying to bring down his defense chief. nasty as hell, they have nothing good to say for the country, only nasty words to spew about the people running it or hoping to.
john mccain, who served the country so admirably, has become an angry fellow from dawn until dusk taking an occasional break to remember who he is and saying enough of this when his new allies get out of hand. when ted cruz starts attacking the loyalty to america of one of mccain's fellow vietnam vets, a combat vet at that. the viciousness is something we haven't seen before because of the combination of mccarthyism and this weird unconnectedness, attacking chuck hagel, for example, because no one will give us info or anyone info about the benghazi situation even though hagel wasn't even in the government when benghazi happened. sick stuff. and it seems to be growing in inverse proportion to obama's popularity. the better he looks, the worse these characters, inhofe, cruz, mccain, and lindsey graham, are determined to look. did you notice the smile on john boehner's face sitting up there behind the president during the state of the union? if you did, you're imagining things. so afraid of the hard hating
right of republicans these days of every stripe, even boehner's scared to death of looking like he might like something barack obama had to say. to do that is to risk political death in these days. let's go at it. our guests are joy reid of the grio and michael steele, former chairman of the republican national committee. both are msnbc analysts and good ones. let's take a look at this. is this delay on the hagel vote about playing for time hoping new information comes out about them? "the new york times" reports today that anti-hagel groups are right now hoping for exactly that. quote, leaders of these groups said in interviews that they expected their efforts to include more phone calls urging conservative voters to tell their senators to vote no, new efforts to unearth embarrassing details from mr. hagel's past, and potentially a new round of television advertisements pressuring democrats to drop their support for him. michael steele, it used to be a president got his cabinet. >> yep. >> now when you want your own defense chief, you get the entire opposition party to the last man and woman voting against it in what i don't even get is one reason.
i mean, if you ask all those republicans what do they do to filibuster this, they won't give you one answer. each one will come up with his own or her own little number. >> right. because there is no real reason to filibuster this nomination. i mean, the president has made his choice. he's coming off a very, very strong election, and, you know, as much as, you know, i may have an issue here or there with something that hagel said or did in the past, this is the president's choice. he's ultimately going to be accountable to the president, not to the republicans in the congress. and i think, quite honestly, mccain put it out there in the real. this is personal. it's not even political at this point. this is the fact that this man bucked the party establishment in 2007 in his views on the war. i think legitimately so. and the fact of the matter is so what? >> so they -- in other words they're saying he can't be president obama's defense chief because he agrees with barack obama on the war. >> yeah. >> well, i'm sorry, joy, that is the irony here. they're attacking him for being
the guy who gets along with obama. president obama and chuck hagel agree on so many things they're actually friends. >> right. >> they have a positive view about the same things in the world. that's why he's going out and i think the president is sticking his neck out for this guy because he really wants him to be his defense chief. they agree on things. >> somebody pointed out to me that mccain said the statement "back when he was a republican," as if hagel is no longer a republican because he dares to agree with the guy hiring him to be the defense chief. look, mccain i think did put it out there. >> okay. dwight eisenhower wasn't a republican either because he wasn't a hawk, and he kept us out of indochina and the middle east, and he took the heat for that because he was a guy who knew what was going on in the world. >> right. >> and didn't believe in frivolous wars. >> you're not sufficiently republican if you don't want to bomb iran. it was ironic when john mccain put it out there and said basically, you know what? chuck hagel was mean to president bush, he relentlessly criticized the iraq war. his fellow members of the senate
thought he was not a sufficiently loyal republican. that's pretty rich coming from john mccain who basically made it his life's work to oppose george w. bush. >> oh, i'm sorry, was it chuck hagel who said he had an illegitimate child with an african-american and that somehow produced a south asian young woman. that stuff about his wife being a drug addict. that was w's people. that was karl rove and that crowd. i don't know which of them did it, but one of them did it, yet he forgives those people and he says -- this must be some kind of weird transportation of emotion. yesterday john mccain said something truly remarkable as my friend here said, michael, about a moment of pure honesty. he exposed what's really behind his opposition to hagel. let's listen. >> there's a lot of ill will towards senator hagel because when he was a republican, he attacked president bush mercilessly. at one point said he was the worst president since herbert hoover, said that the surge was the worst blunder since the vietnam war, which is nonsense, and was very anti his own party and people.
people don't forget that. >> you should have forgot the fact because he never did say he was the worst president since herbert hoover. wait until they start with you. >> exactly. >> who put mike mccain in charge of determining chuck hagel's fate. minority leader mitch mcconnell has deputized senator john mccain as the weather vane by which to judge when republicans should yield on the filibuster. that might be a confounding decision since john mccain seems to drift from one position to another. sometimes in a matter of hours. on sunday mccain had this to say about the prospect of a filibuster against hagel. let's watch. >> we've never filibustered a presidential cabinet appointee, and i don't think we should start here. >> well, on monday, which is a day later of course, mccain was urging his colleagues on the armed services committee to vote on hagel's nomination saying, i believe he has fulfilled the rigorous requirements that the committee demands, and by the next day, tuesday, he rebuked ted cruz for his harsh critique
of hagel, which i agree with. >> mr. hagel is an honorable man. he has served his country, and no one on this committee at any time should impugn his character or his integrity. >> we're going to show some of cruz's mccarthyite statements in the next segment. tuesday night, hours matter, mccain introduced a new wrinkle with senators graham and ayotte. he wrote a letter to the white house requesting more information about what the white house did during the benghazi attack. he told "foreign policy" magazine, quote, we need to know what the president's conversations were. i would vote no on cloture on thursday unless the information is provided. by tuesday -- actually by yesterday, which almost every day of the week he's changed his mind, the white house had responded to his satisfaction, but he still didn't vote for cloture. he still wouldn't vote to bring this matter of hagel's confirmation up to a vote, and here is his latest. let's watch.
>> there are still questions outstanding. i believe that senators have the right to have those questions answered. the senator from south carolina and the senator from new hampshire and i had a response from the president today on the question that we had, but there are other questions. >> like can you give us a copy of every speech you ever gave? can you give us a dollar-for-dollar assessment of every dollar you ever made? by the way, if you don't tell us, we're going to accuse you of getting money from the north koreans. that's the way we will pay you. joy, you're younger than me i think by a lot of years. we're going to get to this. i'm going to sell this second segment because we're going back. we went back and looked how joe mccarthy did it. the same techniques of innuendo. the same character assassination based on nothing that this guy is doing, this guy cruz, who i don't know what he's running for. people say attorney general. i don't know what job he's applying for.
i don't know why he's ruining his career with this crap. your thoughts? >> he's not running for president because i think he was born in canada. you said earlier in your introduction that john mccain occasionally remembers who he is. i'm starting to agree with joe klein. this is who john mccain is. this is a man who is showing no principle other than pique. he's turned on, as you showed, his supposed friend chuck hagel, his supposed comrade in arms in a matter of hours to decide to brook this rear guard effort to drum up dirt on this poor man who has been through i think enough at this point in terms of trying to get barack obama the defense secretary that he wants. and they've dragooned kelly ayotte into their little club because lieberman is gone. the three of them, the merry band of miscreants standing in the way of this guy getting a vote. they're going to torture that guy because he turned against the iraq war. >> i'm not as tough as you are, today at least. we'll know the true color of mr. mccain's feelings about life and values when that right wing crowd inevitably turns on his friend lindsey graham. and you know they will. >> they will.
>> they will. >> it will go to graham in the next primary fight in south carolina, and he will have to stand up for his friend. that's when we'll know. >> and we will see that. that's why the bed you make right now, you're going to have to lie in it, and there's going to be a lot of lonely republicans -- >> a lot of fleas. >> and a lot of lonely republicans. the point i take issue with with what the senator said, hagel offended the party. he's not running for the nomination of the party. he's not running for anything within the republican party. this is an appointment to be secretary of defense. and so all of the arguments that are being put up there against him make no sense because -- >> do you think there was a moment of odd candor? why would he admit that? >> remember, that was a party call at that time where the white house and the senate leadership needed everyone to rally around the direction they were taking, and he stood alone. he said, no, there is something wrong with this policy. there's something wrong -- >> and the country had more or less rejected that war by the 2006 election.
>> didn't john mccain do exactly the same thing? wasn't that his brand? isn't that why people called him a maverick? he stood against george w. bush on the torture policy which was also a party call. this was something they all were unified on -- >> you're so smart. i learn more -- by the way, stood against the party on funding. went against the right wing church groups and everybody, all the ideologues on the right hated that law. >> and climate change, too. he did that, too. >> it's personal. it's nothing more than that. this is vendetta. this is what goes around comes around. >> the more i watch this congress, the more i'm reminded of why the greek people said enough of this parliamentary system. they are blowing the republican form of government. the reasonable representation of people out there, not their own piques and weirdnesses. they're not doing their job. this isn't about the public interest. joy -- right or left. thank you, joy reid, and michael steele. coming up, are you now or have you ever been? well, those were the words that defined the red baiting of the mccarthy era back in the '50s. ted cruz demonstrated he'd be comfortable having those words
spill out of his mouth. can president obama beat the nra? wayne lapierre's apocalyptic rantings about a world without guns are easy to lampoon, but he may have the support and the votes to block any kind of real gun legislation and them's the facts. also, illinois has moved a step closer to becoming the next state to approve gay marriage. conservatives are chronically worried right now that they're losing the culture war, at least on that front. for once i think they're right. and watergate. water hyphen gate. marco rubio's water bottle moment may be the image that haunts him for a long time. a look back at some of the other moments that, fairly or not, have come to define some politicians forever. and this is "hardball," the place for politics. rea lly getting salon qu ality... or settling for wannabes? stop compromising! new vidal sassoon pro series. care and styling from the original salon genius, created to let you have it all
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jackson allegedly conspired to spend $750,000 in campaign funds. sources tell politico those expenses are said to include a $43,000 rolex, home renovations, and fur coats, among other things. jackson issued a statement this afternoon saying he fully accepts responsibility for his mistakes. politico says prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of between 46 and 57 months, and he had a career ready to go. jackson's wife also pled guilty to one count of tax fraud. i guess this is all a plea bargain. we'll be right back.
we saw with his nomination something truly extraordinary, which is the government of iran formally and publicly praising we saw with his nomination something truly extraordinary, which is the government of iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a defense secretary. i would suggest to you that to my knowledge that is unprecedented to see a foreign nation like iran publicly
celebrating a nomination. >> just watching that reminded me of mccarthy. welcome back to "hardball." that's just a sample of freshman texas senator ted cruz's language this week about defense secretary nominee chuck hagel. here is what really happened at his weekly news conference. the iran foreign minister spokesman was asked about hagel's views on israel and u.s. sanctions on iran. as reuters reported, the spokesman responded, we hope there will be practical changes in american foreign policy and washington becomes respectful of the rights of nations. well, not exactly an extraordinary unprecedented celebration of hagel's nomination. cruz, however, used this kind of innuendo and guilt by association that reminds us of another senator, senator joe mccarthy. see if you agree, however. a month after edward r. murrow's march 1954 see it now broadcast in which he exposed mccarthy's tactics, the senator accepted
murrow's invitation to respond. here he uses a favorable tv review in a communist newspaper as evidence of murrow's connection to communism supposedly. let's listen. >> let's take 30 seconds or so and see who was giving comfort to our enemies. march 9 containing seven articles and an editorial all attacking mccarthy, and the same issue mr. murrow's program has put one of tonight's best bets on tv. >> also that week senator cruz -- this week cruz took another opportunity to tar hagel with innuendo that he may have received, catch this, may have received $200,000 from, of all places, north korea. i don't think north korea has $200,000. let's listen. >> it may be that he spoke at radical or extreme groups or anti-israel groups and accepted financial compensation. we don't know. he could not even say that the $200,000 he received did not come directly from a foreign government, and the question this committee asked, have you
been paid directly by a foreign government, i would suggest it is every bit as relevant to know if that $200,000 that he's disclosed came from a foreign government. it may be perfectly appropriate. we might conclude that it was benign, it was reasonable, but it is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from saudi arabia, came directly from north korea. >> in his 1953 hearing to investigate the voice of america for communist infiltration, senator mccarthy tried to discredit state department employee reed harris by insinuating his choice of legal representative 20 years earlier made him suspect. let's listen. >> did the civil liberties union provide you with an attorney at that time? >> i had many offers of
attorneys, and one of those was from the american civil liberties union, yes. >> the question is did the civil liberty's union supply you with an attorney? >> they did supply an attorney. >> the answer is yes? >> the answer is yes. >> you know the civil liberties union has been listed as a front for and doing the work of the communist party? >> mr. chairman, this was 1932. >> i know it was 1932. do you know that they since have been listed as a front for and doing the work of the communist party? >> i do not know they have been listed so, sir. >> you don't know they have been listed? >> i have heard that mentioned or read that mentioned. >> we see some similarities in these two senators. joining me is "the washington post's" nia-malika henderson and senior political writer for "the dallas morning news" wayne slater, who is the author of "bush's brain." i watch there in which he sits there in that prosecutorial manner throwing out incredible innuendo like unless you tell us where you got that speech money from, we can assume it came from north korea. i'm sorry, how do you make comments like that when everybody knows they don't have
a nickel to rub together up there? they got nothing. who would you speak to in north korea? just throwing that out so then he has to deny it and then he gets into the game of he denies being an agent of the north koreans. this is mccarthyism. there's no other word for it. even looks like mccarthy the way he does this stuff. wayne. >> well, he does. there's a certain condescension. this is six degrees of separation way of asking questions, an old ploy, and if it's done recklessly, it can really cause damage. the whole purpose of this kind of six degrees of separation questioning is not to find out something, a piece of information. it's to plant a false idea. maybe you got the money from a foreign source, maybe from north korea, maybe from a muslim caliphate. all i'm doing is asking a question.
why won't you answer it? it is an amazing approach, and when used recklessly as i think in this early weeks of ted cruz's tenure, i think it invites the idea that he might look a little like joe mccarthy. >> you know, the comparison there, nia, with the way mccarthy connected somebody because they had an aclu lawyer 21 years before or the fact that they even had -- the aclu was never listed as a communist front. they may have defended communists because the aclu will defend anyone's rights. that's what they do. but to make that weird connection that somehow this guy is a commie, this is what this guy is doing. look at this. because the iranians would like to see somebody who wasn't a super hawk coming in as defense secretary, that somehow makes him the best friend they ever had over there. look at the look on his face, that sarcastic look he's got. he looks like mccarthy looked, the way he does this thing. go ahead. your thoughts. i'm just trying to document this. >> right. he's a harvard trained lawyer. he went to princeton. he's a debate champion, and you can see him employing those sorts of tactics here. i don't think any of this sort of innuendo and sort of guilt by association would fly in a courtroom, but i think in ted
cruz you have someone who is essentially auditioning to be a jim demint with an attitude. conservatives want an attack dog. he is very much auditioning for that role. he's a tea party favorite. if you look at the national review, they very much like his style. but, again, i think in some ways it certainly reflects what republicans i think are hoping to do over this next week, and that is further chip away at hagel and hope that something will stick and that another shoe will drop. >> let's take a look at another thing. first of all, just in terms of british-style debate, british-style debate you use innuendo, you use rhetoric. american-style debate, guys, is about documentation. it's about bringing in evidence. that's how we debate in this country. the british do it with flair and all kinds of rhetoric and oratorical devices. that's what he's more like. anyway, both senator cruz and senator mccarthy at times have used media props to make their points. at hagel's hearing, cruz employed a video clip from al jazeera. here he sets up the
presentation. >> i'd like to draw your attention to an interview you did in 2009 with al jazeera, and with the chairman's indulgence, if we can play an excerpt of that interview. >> well, cruz played a clip of an al jazeera call-in show in which a caller suggested israel had committed war crimes. well, cruz contends that in his response hagel did not refute the caller. during the 1954 army/mccarthy hearings, senator mccarthy held up "the communist daily worker" as a prop. let's watch. >> yesterday a senator made an attack upon this committee, senator flanders. i find that attack headlined in "the communist daily worker," flanders likens mccarthy to hitler. i believe you described "the daily worker" as the telegraph agency of the communist party. >> senator flanders, who was heading the committee
investigating mccarthy's tactics, is somehow guilty of being a commie again because the communist newspaper reported on what he had said. who believes this, nia? and i'm just wondering, you're a reporter. you don't have to make any ultimate condemnation of these tactics, but tactics are tactics. guilt by association is guilt by association. the tactics are on the table. i'll go back to the manner of his presentation. he looks like a prosecutor, not a senator. he's prosecuting hagel here for some political purpose. i don't know what it is. i guess it's tea party stuff. >> that's right. i mean, i think he very much understands that this is theater. he is trying to ultimately land on fox news. to sort of have a highlight reel there, highlight reel on rush limbaugh's show. i think that is what he's after,
and, again, he is finding some footing among tea party folks, among ultra conservatives. that is his goal. normally senators come in, they put their head down, and they sort of follow the rules and follow the rules of seniority, and he is not doing that. but i will say in that clip ultimately john mccain brushes him back and says, listen, we're not here to improve hagel's -- impugn hagel's character, and he comes to hagel's defense. >> i got to end this tonight by saying and advice, good advice i think to senator cruz, you're starting off with a great education and great potential. demagoguery is not a great career choice. if you look at all the demagogues from huey long to father coughlin, joe mccarthy and onwards, they don't get along very well very long. make another move, senator. you still got time. nia-malika henderson, thank you. and wayne slater. up next, marco rubio's big gulp might be the moment that defines the guy. other iconic moments that crippled reputations of politicians in the past. it's all in the "sideshow." it's going to be fun. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ female announcer ] going to sleep may be easy, but when you wake up
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this is going to be fun. back to "hardball." now to the "sideshow." when marco rubio made that awkward grab for his water bottle during the state of the union response, i immediately thought, okay, he's now going to forever be known as the thirsty one. it's too early to know if the episode will stick with him years down the line, but it wouldn't be the first time. plenty of other politicians became that guy after incidents that might be called insignificant. you'll know what i'm talking about as soon as you hear these names. michael dukakis. chances are you're thinking of a photo op that tanked, literally. dukakis in that tank started off as an attempt to show dukakis was strong on defense when he visited a michigan factory
during his '88 presidential campaign. it obviously backfired big time when the footage showed up in attack ads from his opponent, george herbert walker bush, portraying him, there he is, as not serious on defense. next dan quayle. you might think of a classroom full of kids and a spelling test. >> spell that again. add one little bit on the end. think of potato. how's that spelled? >> i think he was confusing the singular with the plural. it even showed up in an attack ad against his son, ben, who lost his bid for re-election to congress in november. i don't know if those issues are connected. next, howard dean. >> not only are we going to new hampshire, tom harkin, we're going to south carolina and oklahoma and arizona and north dakota and new mexico! we're going to california and texas and new york! and we're going to south dakota and oregon and washington and michigan and then we're going to washington, d.c. to take back
the white house! yeah! >> it's not fair, not at all, but that became the moment in howard dean's 2004 presidential run. a rather heroic run actually. this time -- here are the clues. hurricane katrina, the fema director, the 43rd president. >> i want to thank you all for -- and, brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. fema director is working 24 -- [ applause ] they're working 24 hours a day. >> michael brown forever dubbed heck of a job, brownie. more recently before rubio we had oops. >> the third agency of government i would do away with, the education, the -- >> commerce. >> commerce. and let's see -- i can't. the third one i can't. i'm sorry. oops.
>> well, let's not forget the classic sarah palin quote either. you can actually see russia from land here in alaska. that soon became i can see russia from my house thanks to tina fey. the list goes on. one moment and you become that guy or gal for the long haul. rubio's water break is now very much in the race. up next, there hasn't been too much or this much momentum behind strengthening gun laws in two decades, but can president obama actually get something meaningful done? you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
too many of our children are being taken away from us. two months ago america mourned 26 innocent first graders and their educators in newtown. last year there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. so that's the equivalent of a newtown every four months. and that's precisely why the
overwhelming majority of americans are asking for some common sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. >> now, i think that's smart. welcome back. of course, that was president obama speaking earlier this afternoon in chicago, his hometown. stemming gun violence has become a major second term agenda item for the president, of course. some of the most memorable moments from his state of the union address actually dealt with giving victims of gun >> now, i think that's smart. welcome back.
of course, that was president obama speaking earlier this afternoon in chicago, his hometown. stemming gun violence has become a major second term agenda item for the president, of course. some of the most memorable moments from his state of the union address actually dealt with giving victims of gun o, j. it seems to me since the city congress people, most of them democrats, tend to vote for gun control because they've got it in their streets, the women who -- the mothers have to put up with the gang bang shootings and the kids getting caught in the crossfire on the way to school or even sitting at home, they've got to be for gun safety. the suburbs it seems to me are always in play. suburban people have some rural-type thinking with regard
to gun ownership, but they also live close enough to commute to the city and are very scared of the fact that nearby where they live there's crime in the streets involving heavily armed criminals. it seems to me the president is saying, okay, it's not just a question of schools being hit by a crazy person in this case but the day-to-day threat every friday and saturday night especially around midnight. the next day you read about it, hear about it, crime involving big-time weaponry. it seems like he's really turned the corner on who -- he's trying to get the suburbs it seems to me. >> well, but he also has to look in his backyard, and literally he was in his backyard today. his home is not too far away from hyde park academy where i was hearing part of that speech. i'm glad you mentioned bloomberg. bloomberg is throwing a ton of money, probably $1.5 million so far into the race to ironically replace jesse jackson, jr., who took his plea deal today. you have a couple strong candidates, chris, a white female and an african-american female, who are both pro-nra, and don't mistake the possibility that they can effectively appeal to a fair number of african-americans in the city -- >> who are the pro-nra candidates? >> -- such as concealed carry. the pro-nra candidates who is the leading candidate, the one
white in a race of 16 candidates, deb halvorson, former democratic congresswoman from mostly the chicago suburbs, and then a woman named toi hutchinson who was her chief of staff. she's an african-american. bloomberg has thrown a ton of money mostly against halvorson, about $1.3 million up to this point is going to be over that. last night for the first time he ran an ad supporting a candidate, not just attacking halvorson. that was an anti-guns candidate, perhaps the leading anti-guns candidate in the race, a woman named robin kelly. your basic point about the burbs, but there's the interesting possibility by throwing all this attention on halvorson that maybe you rouse some of those folks in the burbs that are vaguely pro-nra and have them come out and vote in a sprawling 16-person race. there's going to be low turnout, and maybe you win with 16%, 17%, 18%. nevertheless is the fact you saw again this is clearly a fight obama is willing to wage in a big-time battle, and behind him now is the "x" factor perhaps in this issue in american politics, and that's michael bloomberg, and he's willing to wage it even if he knows in his heart of hearts politically he can only
win a quarter loaf or a half a loaf. >> let's go across the country to ron reagan. it seems to me this is a battle of geography. we know there are various parts of the country, idaho, montana, places where you're not going to get a gun safety vote. you're just not going to get one, and that includes almost out to california itself. you on the coast, maybe western washington state, parts of oregon, but anywhere east of you guys, it's trouble for anybody trying to stop gun ownership. so my question is where does the president win the battle at least on background checks? something he can put on the wall and say we got this done? >> well, i think that he's winning the battle for the heart and soul of the public here. i mean, if you look at the polls, even nra members by a wide, wide margin support universal background checks. nobody is going to sit still for federal agents coming and taking people's guns away, but nobody is planning to do that. but everybody supports sensible regulations like universal background checks. now, is that going to happen in
today's congress? i don't know. because the nra is really a shill for the gun industry, and that's a $12 billion industry. so you got guys like lindsey graham who is always going to be willing or other senators and congressmen who are always going to be willing to, you know, dance and like pathetic marionettes to the tune that the nra calls. so this is going to be a tough fight, and it's not going to happen quickly. >> but there's nothing wrong with being a dancer, is there? >> no, no, but you don't want to be a marionette. >> let me go back to jim warren on that. it seems to me once we get out of your chicago mindset here, that there is a fight that can be won. we had pat meehan on from delaware county, pennsylvania. i know his politics roughly, but some day he may want to run for governor. when you go statewide, you have to worry about the most right wing people in the state. that's the challenge for senators who come from states that may have some urban areas like michigan that has detroit but also has upper michigan. they fear -- you study the polls and ron studies the polls, but is this really something you can
poll because it's about passion. the guy out there, mostly the guy, that s.o.b., five, seven years ago they voted for background checks. i'm never voting for them. that kind of memory is what i'm thinking about. >> yeah, the passion is an interesting element. on gallup polls when they ask people for spontaneous responses as to what are the big issues in america right now, they don't hear about guns very often. it's only when they start asking specific questions what do you think about this, what do you think about that? and in that case then you see the sort of big numbers which obama is looking at, mayor bloomberg is looking at. and when you talk about some of those governor and state races, all these guys are quaking in their boots about an opponent on the right and, you know, that sort of thing in the primary fights in which the nra has some impact, but it's going to thus be real interesting and again the think the real "x" factor is bloomberg. >> you know, guys, it's getting like israel. the politics in israel, you
could have a moderate government or a centrist government, but they have to appeal to the far right on so many issues, and the far right, maybe the far left to some extent, tend to run those parties. thank you, ron reagan and james warren. thanks for that reporting from chicago and new york. up next, the culture wars from guns to gay marriage. different sides winning on different fronts i think, and this is "hardball," the place for politics.
let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. the poll by wbur up there has congressman ed markey out front of fellow congressman steven lynch in the massachusetts senate democratic primary. ed is up by seven points. 38% to 31%. both are hoping to replace john kerry who is now secretary of state. the winner will have a big advantage in heavily democratic massachusetts. most of those polled have never even heard of the two republicans running for the seat. we'll be right back. @ñ
francisco. this is pandering. >> it's not surprising then that they get bitter king to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade center. >> well, president obama is actually candidate obama's comments back then became the big party discussion. we're back. it's no secret that politicians pander to bases all the time. when speaking up to reporters up in a well funded crowd in san >> the comments became a big part of the discussion on the left-right culture war. republicans were happy to publicize his comments, but these days they're terrified they might be losing the culture wars on some front, and they may well will. let's look at the grounds on gay marriage.
once unthinkable, nine states and the district of columbia have legalized same-sex marriage either by court degree, legislative action or actual popular vote. and now illinois, delaware, and hawaii are also considering legalizing gay marriage, same-sex marriage. and the rights retreat on cultural issues extends to other areas as well. i'm joined by lauren ashburn, found over the daily download and a contributor to the daily beast. oftenly confused with hillary rodham clinton. but not politically. let me talk about this, because you're on the front all the time fighting for same-sex rights and gay rights generally. isn't it odd that in a country where we have begun to shift dramatically in that action towards more than acceptance, almost warm acceptance, it's much more positive, okay, we'll go along with that. at the same time we still have a country that still seems to defend gun rights almost to the last man in so many communities. are they different communities? >> i think so. there is a whole range of issues, you know, that we could talk about from reproductive rights to climate change. but i think when it comes to same-sex marriage, we talked earlier about illinois which is
poised to be the next state to vote in favor, i think the trajectory both in terms of public sentiment. when i started at hrc, it was 33% of the american people, now it's 43, 53. it will be 60% before long. you have the chairman of the republican party of illinois coming out in favor of this vote, which is significant. >> even ted cruz says leave it up to the states. >> leave it up to the states. although leave it up to the states, marco rubio says leave it up to the states. leave it up to the states i think is interesting because it sort of says to me that is where the republican party is on this question. right. >> is that dodge ball? >> yeah. it's like at the end of "lincoln" when they were voting, and you looked into those guys' eyes. you knew they were struggling with the substance, be they were struggling in the context of history, which column am i going to be in. >> part of it is you don't take away anything from anybody by supporting gay rights. you just leave people alone. unlike with guns. people perceive it as you are going to take something away from me. and that i think is the big difference. >> that's what i was saying.
but i think there is a crude symbiosis there between people who say leave them alone. a gunowner can hurt you. somebody in a gay marriage situation, same-sex marriage, they're not pose anything threat to you. in other words, rights end when somebody else is endangered by your rights. >> if you look at the central strength of what has carried us through this fight and helped us win on this fight for same-sex marriage, it is people coming out and be out and open in terms who have they are and putting a name and a face and a personal circumstance to this abstract fight. i think this is what you're starting to see in the gun debate right now. >> well, explain that. explain that connection. i agree with you, by the way. even in the most rural parts of the country where gay people grow up and are born, they may end up moving to a mecca like san francisco or chicago. they are born in a place, nieces of people, nephews of people.
they recognize them and begin to embrace them. how about guns? >> every time you turn on the television, you see a real-life circumstance. the president's state of the union address, what did you see? the real-life circumstances. >> the victims. >> absolutely. >> what do you think? >> i was going to say that i think the media plays a big part in this, because year seeing when it comes to gay rights, you're seeing happy couples. you're seeing good, positive coverage of all of this. and then it comes to gun owners, you're seeing newtown, you're seeing death. >> yeah. that's actual. it's reality. >> it is reality. but i think we're not seeing the negative as much when it comes to gay rights in the press. >> you are seeing it, i think, though, the american people are in the workplace, at church, in any kind of institutional setting, they're seeing gay people being out and open about who they are. and in some instance, happy and positive, but oftentimes really understanding the circumstances
of the inequity that they face. >> you want to get to reality, listen to the actual sermons at church i've always said. sermons reflect reality. you don't hear sermons against gay marriage. you dent hear them. you should hear more sermons against too many guns. thank you for joining us. and a reminder, i'll be one of david gregory's guests this sunday on "meet the press." you'll be able to watch me on "the chris matthews show" and "meet the press." you'll be able to spend the whole sunday morning with me. i'm kidding -- i'm not kidding. by the way, one of his guests is going to be john mccain. i can't wait. let me finish tonight with [ female announcer ] going to sleep may be easy, but when you wake up in the middle of the night it can be frustrating. it's hard to turn off and go back to sleep. intermezzo is the first and only prescription sleep aid approved for use as needed in the middle of the night when you can't get back to sleep. it's an effective sleep medicine you don't take before bedtime. take it in bed only when you need it and have at least four hours left for sleep. do not take intermezzo if you have had an allergic reaction to drugs containing zolpidem, such as ambien. allergic reactions such as shortness of breath or swelling of your tongue or throat may occur and may be fatal. intermezzo should not be taken if you have taken another sleep medicine at bedtime
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let me finish tonight with this. i keep trying to figure out which way this country is heading. i know we're going in the liberal direction with the growing acceptance, i think true acceptance of gay people. the steady movement to supporting same-sex marriage i think is the most dramatic shift in public attitudes on something so basic i can ever remember. on guns, i think it's hard to say. yes, there is the a national upsurge of desire for gun safety. yes, people have seen the worst now and want to do something about it. but when i look at gun sales, and nra memberships and all that, i get the sense that a good number of people out there are circling the wagons. they see the government coming to collect their guns, and they're preparing for fight. the only thingy figure is that movement, crude as it may be to throw these two issues together toward personal freedom, toward individual autonomy is growing, profoundly on the right as well as the left. people want to make their own decisions.