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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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How does that affect the interest voters are having in this year`s election?

REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I think we have seen voters in Wisconsin engage more than ever before.

We have, as you said, had a lot going on in our state, a lot on the ballot. And people are organized. People are thinking hard about the future and jobs and the economy. And so, I think it`s, if anything, going to actually increase voter turnout and participation. We`re always a high participation state, but I think we`re going to see it grow.

MATTHEWS: You know, I was at the Democratic Convention down in Charlotte covering for the network, and I was taken by, sure, there were a lot of good speeches, but the one that seemed to move people didn`t have any rhetoric, it was common sense, it was Bill Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What effect do you think Clinton had on just talking to people about their challenges and what the president`s faced in office?

BALDWIN: He gave an amazing speech.

And what was really important about it is just matter of factually walking through the allegations that have been raised and coming back with responses. I mean, there`s been so much misleading information, especially from the right-wing super PACs and the special interests. And he just methodically went through it all.

And I have to say my favorite line from his speech was about balancing budgets, that it`s based on arithmetic. And you may not know this, Chris, but I was a math major in college, a double major in math and government.

I get it. We have to make things add up if we`re going to get our economy back on track, start creating jobs and attack our deficit.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this.

In the midst of Mitt Romney`s 47 percent fallout, when everybody found out what he really thought in rooms where it cost 50,000 bucks to get in the door, your challenger, former Governor Tommy Thompson, tossed some blame on Romney for his own sliding poll numbers. In other words, the guy running against you is blaming the guy running against Obama. Let`s watch him in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON (R), WISCONSIN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The presidential
thing is bound to have an impact on every election, you know, whether you`re a Democrat or Republican. If you`re a standard bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it`s going to reflect on the down ballot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, right now, Obama, the president, leads Romney, the challenger, by seven points in Wisconsin according to that latest poll.

What effect do you think -- when you`re traveling every day, working 20 hours a day, practically, campaigning, and all your head is around meeting people and remembering names and being nice to people, and trying to think, what do you think the effect of the other thing that is going on the whole time? They`re trying to decide who to make their president.

How does that get into people`s minds, do you think, when they`re talking
to you?

BALDWIN: Yes, I have to tell you that when people are focusing on the U.S. Senate race, they`re really asking themselves a couple of basic questions, whose side are you on? Who`s fighting for the hard working middle class families of Wisconsin? They know I`m on their side and that`s what I`ve done.

But they`re also learning a lot about what Tommy Thompson has been doing for the last decade of his life. You know, he left Wisconsin and joined the Bush administration. In his service there, he gave the drug companies a sweetheart deal with the Medicare Part D program. He said he made it illegal for Medicare to bargain with the drug companies in order to get better prices for seniors.

MATTHEWS: Yes, yes.

BALDWIN: And then he did the revolving door. He`s been working at a big lobbying firm, making millions of dollars representing those powerful interests that already have too much say in Washington.

So, in Wisconsin, people are saying, whose side are you on? And they are figuring out that I`m squarely on their side. That`s the fight I`ve always taken.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, thank you. Good luck out there. You`re doing very well. I see you`re moving up in the polls, you`re making it happen.

So, Tammy Baldwin, running for senator in Wisconsin. Polls are moving. Thanks for coming on HARDBALL.

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