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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I hope we--

MATTHEWS: Yea or nay?

SHERMAN: I would vote yes because if we don"t pass a bill this year, there"s going to be a worse bill that"s passed next year.

MATTHEWS: OK, answer my question. I know it"s a media question. I"m in the media. I"m with MSNBC. I know the point of view of my colleagues. I hear--I share most of it. Here"s my question. Why is there so much anger and noise in the media, among the netroots, among people, self-described progressives, and yet when we look at this poll data tonight, overwhelming support among Democrats--by the way, even more support than in other polls we"ve seen in the last couple days for this measure this compromise?

SHERMAN: Well, I think there are a lot of Democrats who respect the president. And when he put his imprimatur on this deal, I think 20, 30, 40 percent of the Democrats who might have opposed it if you just told them the terms of deal, are going to vote for it when they hear this is Obama"s position.

MATTHEWS: Very interesting.

SHERMAN: And I think that once the president announced that this was his position, it both created more support for the deal among Democrats and made it impossible for us to negotiate a better deal with the Republicans.

MATTHEWS: You"ve been out campaigning. You got reelected overwhelmingly. Let me ask you this--I think you had 63, 65 percent of the vote this time. Why does the public hate Congress and yet reelect most members of Congress?

SHERMAN: Well, because--

MATTHEWS: I mean, they say they--look at this poll, 83 percent don"t like Congress.

SHERMAN: First of all, thank God I run against an opponent instead of just the concept of "Couldn"t we do better?" When people say they don"t like Congress, it"s a mythical image that they have of what Congress ought to be that they compare us to. Second, a lot of people like their individual member of Congress because they know us.

And finally, we reflect the views. If you asked people in the adjoining district whether they like me, they would say no. So it could be that when you"ve asked people in my district--

MATTHEWS: OK--

(CROSSTALK)

SHERMAN: -- do you like Congress, they"re thinking of the other guy.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, I"m speaking to a smart politician, I"m getting a smart political answer. Here"s better, tougher question. I know Nancy Pelosi. You know her. You know her as an inside political player. I know her as an outside person who"s been in the media. I like her when I"m with her. I think she"s a really nice person. I can"t understand these--maybe I can, but I want you to voice it. Why is there a disconnect between the Nancy Pelosi you and I know as a strong political player who grew up in a political family, who"s a real pro, and this nasty imagery that goes on about her that you see, and I think reflected in this poll number of 83 percent against the Congress?

SHERMAN: Well, I think even if Nancy Pelosi wasn"t in Congress, when you"ve got a 9.8 percent unemployment rate and you"ve got Congress, which is a place where you watch sausage being made, I think you"d get same results. I don"t hold her responsible for that. I think that the right has spent hundreds of millions of dollars vilifying Pelosi--

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SHERMAN: -- in commercials around the country, and I think that"s taken its toll.

MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, let"s take a look for a second while we have you, just one more minute. Here"s President Obama today speaking before the Senate votes. I want your reaction to what he says, Congressman. Here we go, Congressman Sherman. Let"s listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector. I know there are different aspects of this plan to which members of Congress on both sides aisle object. That"s the nature of compromise. But we worked hard to negotiate an agreement that"s win for middle class families and a win for our economy. Now, we can"t let it fall victim to either delay or defeat. So I urge members of Congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: What"s the story in your state? Jerry Brown won. Barbara Boxer won, a woman of the progressive side. She"s no middle-of-the-roader. You all won. I think every Democratic member of Congress got reelected. Why is it--we call it the left coast, maybe I"m answering my question--why is California so solidly Democrat, even in a brutal political year?

SHERMAN: I"d like to think it"s because we"re just a little bit smarter than the average person in the country. But realistically, California is a Democratic state. And we looked at the situation and I think reached the right conclusion. Also, California is socially more liberal than the average state in the country.

MATTHEWS: Yes, that"s true. OK, thank you very much, U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

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