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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, you were in with your colleague last night in that hospital room with Gabrielle Giffords. What are you--what are your feelings and memories of that moment and what you saw?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Chris, my heart, our hearts, myself, Speaker Pelosi, Kirsten Gillibrand--our hearts were just bursting with the joy of being able to be with our friend, Gabby, you know, to see her, to be with Mark and her parents, and then to be able to talk to her and have our--her hearing our voice, help her to make progress, you know, just in talking to her and encouraging her to get back on her feet as soon as possible, and you know, come share the good times that we"ve enjoyed with her. That"s when she started to open her eyes and respond to us, and it was just absolutely incredible.

I mean, you know, she--Mark started to, you know, tell her, Gabby, if you can see me, give us the--give me the thumbs-up sign. And he encouraged her and pushed her to do that. She kept opening her eyes a little bit more and a little bit more. And then, suddenly, her arm went up when he asked her to give him the thumbs-up and she touched his arm and his ring, as he asked her. It was just--Chris, I--I was--we were all just overcome with emotion. It was incredible.

MATTHEWS: Well, Democratic leader, Madam Speaker--Madam Leader, thank you for joining us. Nancy Pelosi"s with us, as well. Give us your memories of last night.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MAJORITY LEADER (via telephone): Well, I think that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has said it so well. It was a thrill just to be in the room to see our Gabby just fighting the way she was, to bring love and prayers from members of the Congress and people throughout the country. We were telling her what an inspiration she was, that people throughout the world were by her bedside, and we had the privilege of actually being there.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz described what happened. I would just say that what a joy it was for me to see, you know, the power of prayer, the excellent care she had. The girl power--you know, I was there with her parents and watching, like Mark, urge her on and the rest. And Gabby and Kirsten--well, they"re all girlfriends. You know, to see the girl power of this new generation of young women members of Congress, young leaders talking about what they were going to do when she got back to D.C. and the rest. It really, really was fabulous.

We each took turns holding her hand and expressing our love and prayers to her. But she really rallied. And I really think that the president"s visit earlier probably contributed to her strength and her enthusiasm because President Obama and Mrs. Obama were in the room shortly before we were in there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PELOSI: But I would say that I think Debbie and Kirsten, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, would agree that very few things in our life will ever compare to being in that room--

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It"s true.

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: -- when our Gabby opened her eyes.

And, you know, they"re blue, blue eyes, so there"s no mistaking that they were open.

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: They"re beautiful. And--and it was thrilling.

MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.

And I know you as individuals. I can only imagine--only imagine what you"re like when you"re all together, but--and we"re not around, guys aren"t around.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But let me ask you about the tone.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know.

I--I sense a tonal change. And I have watched it from Speaker Boehner and others, not that tragedy is in any way good, but is there a possible positive reaction to it? Based upon what I heard from the president last night, what we all heard, what we"re hearing from the Republican side--not everybody--is there a positive note here that"s coming out of this, Congresswoman?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know, I--I know that Gabby would hope with all her heart that, if there was any good that could come out of a tragedy like this, it would be that we adopt a more civil tone, and that, even though we disagree and will continue to disagree vigorously, that we lead by example, and hopefully--hopefully encourage people, by leading by example, to dial back the rhetoric, to use vigorous--we could use vigorous language without treating our opponents like the enemy.

And, if that"s the result of this, then what President Obama said in his speech last night about making our democracy live up to the expectations of the next generation and of Christina Green, that would just be amazing.

MATTHEWS: Well, Madam Speaker, you--Madam Leader--I keep calling you Madam Speaker. Maybe I will again in the near feature.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But that"s fine with me.

PELOSI: Don"t put it too far back on the shelf. There you go.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But, you know, you grew up in a political family. And I--

I worked in politics. There was a time when people like Reagan and Tip could actually be friends after work at night, even if they disagreed 100 degrees -- 180 degrees.

Are we ever going to get back to that again?

PELOSI: Well, I just don"t know how good of friends they were. But if you say so, then I accept that.

I don"t think it"s a question of being friends. Of course we"re friends. And we respect each other, because we respect the people who sent each of us here.

MATTHEWS: Right.

PELOSI: But I do think that what Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz was saying about tone is very important. I think the president"s speech was transformational.

I think he was inspired by Gabby. And he in turn had her success and Christina and the others be a source of strength in his message. He said it best. I don"t have his exact words here, but we honor them, the sacrifices of those families, those who were lost, the fight that Debbie is making by raising the level of debate to make it worthy of them.

And this is an opportunity for that to happen. It doesn"t mean that we will not--you know, we will change our views on issues, and it doesn"t mean that we won"t fight to make the distinctions between us very clear. It"s just that that other step of vitriol, of that, really, we have an obligation to reduce.

And I think Gabby as an example, those families with their suffering, the president with his leadership and inspiration, I think, again, it was a transformational evening. And let"s see where we go from here, but I think it can really be the turning of a corner. I really do believe that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Madam Leader. Thanks for coming on.

PELOSI: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, of course, as always, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, our good friend on this show.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you so much, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, again, Leader Pelosi.

PELOSI: Thank you, Chris.

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