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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, my thoughts, just to follow up on your introduction to the show or that--you"re absolutely right, Chris. We have to tone down the rhetoric. We have to really look inside ourselves. I think members of Congress need to lead by example. And then, hopefully, by removing and checking ourselves on the violent rhetoric that far too many people sometimes use in the political arena, that we"ll be able to lead by example and push the outside world, the shock jocks and the--and other political leaders, to take a page from our book.

It"s absolutely critical because there"s fragile people who are mentally unstable that, you know, we just don"t know when they"re going to take those--that language literally.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Grijalva, your thoughts about this, coming so close to where you live and your friend?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Yes, it"s been devastating for all of us. We"re happy with some of the prognostics that"s happening about Gabby, but generally, it"s a level of shock. That"s all I can say. And you know, this whole political discourse that we"ve had for the last four or five years in this country, we"re not--I"m not saying that this has led to this, but there is a contributing factor that all of us in political life that use rhetoric that is incendiary, that creates demons out of other people--we need to be very careful and we need to tone that whole thing down.

MATTHEWS: And Congresswoman Pingree from Maine. Thank you for joining us, as well.

REP. CHELLIE PINGREE (D), MAINE: Absolutely. Well, our thoughts and prayers are with Gabby and the families of all the victims of this senseless crime. And it was a deranged person, but the fact is, it gives us an opportunity to talk about political speech, to remember that words do matter, that as Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, people are influenced by these words.

And you know, honestly, it happens on the left and the right. There was a left-wing blogger, when Debbie didn"t vote for Nancy Pelosi, said, Gabby Giffords, you"re dead. In my state, there"s a right-wing group that has a slogan on its Web site that said, If you"re willing to fight for your country, are you willing to kill for your country? We can"t use language like this and expect that it won"t have some effect on civil discourse, which is critical to our political system.

MATTHEWS: Well, as you all remember, this is something the Nevada Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, said on the radio in an interview last year. Let"s listen to this because Congressman Clyburn, one of the leaders of the House, has had a comment on it himself. Let"s listen to the original comment that is so disturbing here.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SHARRON ANGLE (R-NV), SENATE CANDIDATE: So our Founding Fathers, they put that 2nd Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact, you know, Thomas Jefferson said it"s good for a county to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that"s not where we"re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those 2nd Amendment remedies and saying, My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? And I"ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of that, when somebody says that people are looking towards 2nd Amendment remedies when they don"t like the direction Congress is going in? Well today, late today, assistant Democratic leader of the House, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said that he believes that heated political rhetoric led to the shooting over the weekend.

In a reference to Sharron Angle"s comments particularly, he told the "Post and Courier" newspaper what he thought happened with the shooter. Quote, "He saw a 2nd Amendment remedy, and that"s what occurred here. And there is no way not to make that connection."

Your thoughts on that, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think it"s important to point out Gabby Giffords is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a supporter of the right to bear arms. But there"s no way that she would advocate, and I think she"d clearly agree with all of us because she"s been a leader in selecting language carefully, in setting a moderate tone, in trying to make sure that we can promote more civil discourse. You know, Chris, you know, there are countless examples of Sharron Angle-like remarks.

You may remember, last year, you had me come on HARDBALL after an opponent of mine actually fired at a target at a Republican club event, at a gun range, with my initials on the target, on the head.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: I mean, so there"s--those kinds of actions, words and statements can lead people who are unbalanced to potentially engage and carry out that violence. It"s out of line, and we"ve got to dial it back.

MATTHEWS: Well, it"s using gunplay in politics. Let"s look at--

Friday night, Congresswoman Giffords wrote an e-mail to her friend, Kentucky secretary of state Trey Grayson when he was named Harvard"s director of the Institute of Politics up there. In that e-mail, she wrote, quote--and this is from Friday night--"After you get settled, I would love to come talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I"m one of the only 12 Dems left in a GOP district, the only woman, and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."

I want to go back to Chellie Pingree on this. Congresswoman, this question--I"d like to narrow the discussion as much as possible because we"ve watched over the past couple years something new in American politics, people carrying guns to political rallies. Now, I"m--you know, nobody"s going to challenge the 2nd Amendment on this show. It"s part of our Constitution. It"s there. But bringing guns into politics, talking about "2nd Amendment remedies," putting targets over people and crosshairs over their districts and using guns not as a metaphor, but in some strange new way, using the threat of gunplay in politics.

It"s new, it"s scary and it"s real. It is not a metaphor when people talk about lock and loading, they"re talking about, God, reloading, like Palin does. They constantly talk about the use of guns as some kind of political solution. And then, of course, this haywire solution develops. Your thoughts.

PINGREE: Well, you"re absolutely right. We have to tone down the rhetoric. I come from Maine...

MATTHEWS: Gun rhetoric about politics...

PINGREE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: ... not, I don"t like that guy, not, He"s a bad man, or that kind of nonsense...

PINGREE: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: ... but saying guns are a solution to what you don"t like in politics.

PINGREE: And I agree. I come from a hunting state. It"s the state of Maine. People enjoy owning firearms. They like to go hunting. That"s one thing. But to combine it with politics, to allow people to bring guns into events--you know, I got asked a question today by a newspaper, whether members of Congress should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. Well, it"s bizarre, A, if we were going to carry a concealed weapon, we ought to get a permit like everybody else. But even the notion that we should now carry weapons, heighten the level of violence...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PINGREE: ... and somehow protect ourselves in that way, it just plays into this whole idea that disputes have been to be settled with a gun.

MATTHEWS: I want Congressman Grijalva to listen to this debate. It"s me against a guy named Kostric on this show. You"ll hear both sides of it. Here"s a guy that brings guns to Tea Party rallies. His name is William Kostric. Last year, he brought a gun to a rally, and I kept asking him, Why would you bring a gun to a political event? We just saw what happened with one of that over the weekend. Why do you bring guns into political debates? Let"s listen to that debate because I think it"s really hot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Why did you bring a gun to a meeting with the president of the United States, given the violent history of this country with regard to presidents and assassinations? Why did you bring a gun to a public event with the president?

WILLIAM KOSTRIC, CARRIED GUN TO OBAMA TOWN HALL: I do know history, and the history is that our forefathers fought for the right to keep and bear arms and they believed...

MATTHEWS: I know all that.

KOSTRIC: ... that every person should be armed.

MATTHEWS: Everybody knows that.

KOSTRIC: OK, well, then...

MATTHEWS: But why did you bring a gun to a presidential event today?

KOSTRIC: That"s not even a relevant question. The question is why don"t people bear arms these days anymore?

MATTHEWS: OK, let"s ask...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Grijalva, this is the idiot conversation we"re having right now in this country. I don"t know where in Europe or Africa or Asia they go to political events carrying guns. I don"t know--and Mexico. I don"t see their leaders getting knocked off every couple of years. I don"t see it in Canada. This country has a particular historic problem with assassination of public officials, and I just wonder how we can countenance this in public life.

GRIJALVA: Well, you know, in the state of Arizona right now, there"s legislation that"s going to be pending to allow students at universities and faculty to carry concealed weapons. It"s that crazy. And so when you feed the environment of a tolerance and an impunity for guns, and particularly in a public event, dealing with people coming to deal with issues that are important to them, it"s unbelievable and creates an atmosphere not only of fear.

Right after (ph) the aftermath of this tragedy, somebody posted--someone who is famous for their anti-immigrant and gun issues posted a comment, said it"s too bad that it wasn"t Grijalva. And so you...

MATTHEWS: Well, you"re right to (INAUDIBLE)

GRIJALVA: ... feed that ugliness.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for coming on. take care of yourself, people. And thank you so much for coming on. I know you"ve--you"ve got a real friend in trouble here, a friend of the country, as well. Thank you for coming on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... Mr. Grijalva and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as always. And thank you, Chellie Pingree, for joining us, as well.

Coming up, we"re going to get the very latest on her condition, Gabrielle Giffords"s condition, from the two doctors who are treating her. We couldn"t get more important news than we"re going to get in about a minute.

You"re watching here on HARDBALL on MSNBC.

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