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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, is this a gaffe over language? He had simply said there has been a middle class squeeze because all the tax breaks for the rich or whatever. The cost of living, would that even be a story or is it about a word that he misused? Is this serious or what?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE:

This isn`t serious. What this is, is another example of the Romney campaign ripping remarks out of context, desperately trying to distract from the fact that their candidate actually dismissed 47 percent of the American people, called them victims said they don`t matter, said they depended on government.

MATTHEWS: What did him mean that was misunderstood?

SCHULTZ: What he meant was that as a result of the failed policies in the past, that President Obama inherited, the middle class has been buried under polices that crashed our economy, got us into the worst crisis since the great depression, and that President Obama has been working hard to dig us out of it and brought us out, 30 straight months of job growth in the private sector.

MATTHEWS: You are sure say he said it. Because I think he was talking about the way the tax structure -- we`re still under the Bush tax cuts. We prevent that. There`s been no Obama tax program. It`s all what we`ve inherited. So either he`s making the point it wasn`t a fair taxes, your thought.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know what, Chris, I think it is a gaffer, if there was one in what Joe Biden said. and obviously he misspoke, was the word for. You know, as you listen to the totality of what Biden he was talking about, I think he was talking about policies that go back over the last maybe 12 years, where we are talking about cutting taxes for wealthy people and really squeezing the middle class. I think he said four and that was a mistake. He`s obviously provided an opening for the Romney campaign that really desperately needed a lifeline. So, you know, God love him, Joe Biden, you know.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Let me get to this point. Because I think we are keeping the journalists and we are for short hand. Everybody wants a headline. The word gaffe is when you say the wrong word. OK, everybody makes a mistake in terms of language.

But when you say something, you deep down believe like this what I`m about to talk about and it tells you what your philosophy, and it is in fact that warning about what it is. Here`s Congressman Paul Ryan, the VP nominee of the Republican Party. "The Huffington Post" dug up a tape of Paul Ryan last year talking about how 30 percent of the country wants to live on welfare. In fact, they want a welfare state. It sounds a lot like Romney`s charge that 47 percent of the country wants to live like that. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Today, 70 percent of Americans get more benefits from the federal government in dollar value than they pay back in taxes. So you could argue we`re already past that tipping point. The good news is, survey after survey, poll after poll, still shows that we are a center right 70/30 country. Seventy percent of Americans wants the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state. What that tells us is, at least half of those people who are currently in that category are there not of their wish or their will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So there he is. You represent a city, part of Florida. That if you`re on Social Security and you are basically aren`t paying income taxes like you were used to, you`re getting the benefits thaw earned over 40 years of working or 45 years, you`re one of the problems, according to him?

SCHULTZ: Yes. I mean, I sit on the budget committee with Paul Ryan. So, I`ve had an opportunity to debate him on many occasions. This is a case of birds of a feather. The only difference between Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is 17 percent that they dismiss.

MATTHEWS: Why are they talking 40 percent and 30 percent and 47 percent? Why are they running around the country cutting us in half saying these are the bums. I don`t want their votes?

SCHULTZ: Because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan really believe that half the country doesn`t matter. They don`t get that the percentage of Americans that they are dismissing and calling victims and government dependence are our veterans who benefits --

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: Or 20 million seniors who paid into Medicare and Social Security their whole lives and now deserve to have that safety net in place for them. Or college students like those that go here to the University of Denver who need to make sure that they can go to college and afford it and have a student loan interest rate that`s low enough for them to be able to pay back their loans.

MATTHEWS: Let`s just talk sheer politics, not this an run philosophy, the objective is whatever they call it, the elite ruling of the world.

Why, Joy, does a politician trying to get 51 percent, as Romney has been saying for months, all I need is 51, why would you write off 47? That gives you three to play with? Because you only have 53 left?

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: You got only at least two percent of the 53 you`re working on. That`s kind of strange for a politician.

REID: And Chris, therein lies, and I`m glad you played both of those tapes. Because therein lies the difference between the tapes that we are seeing from Romney, the 47 percent, Paul Ryan, the 37 percent, by the way his respond to the Joe Biden tape was to say yes, the American people are buried under regulation.

The American people aren`t buried under regulation. That is referring to corporations. The difference between the Ryan/Romney tape, in what they
said and what Joe Biden said, is that you can feel Joe Biden speaking for a
palpable love for regular folks. No one can argue that this guy doesn`t have real deep down in his guts, a love and admiration for the average working person.

Whereas what the Romney and Ryan tapes showed what just a disdain, a disdain for whatever percentage you want, make it 30, make 47 percent. People who want to be president of the United States don`t typically dislike a large swath of the American people. And they express what sorted found like this day and that is a big difference.

MATTHEWS: OK. Congresswoman, you`re out there talking to people all the time. What has been the impact? I think 47 percent of the line for Romney is going to go right through November, my sense.

SCHULTZ: I think so, too. Because, look, the poet Mayo Angelou said it best, if people show you who they are, you should believe them. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have consistently showed us that they have this disdain as Joy-Ann said for half the country. They don`t understand that we need to have a president who fights for the middle class and working families and I think that`s the clear contrast that we will see on the debate stage tonight.

MATTHEWS: What about next week? If we have a good debate tonight, this could be the battle of the century. But next week, we have the middle weight championship, you might call, or light heavy weight. You have Biden against Ryan. Give me a prediction. What is that going to be like?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think that`s going to be a really clear contrast as well. Joe Biden has been fighting for the middle class and for working families for the regular guys for his entire career for more than 30 years and Paul Ryan dismisses 30 percent of the country as being depending on the welfare state. I think it is going to be clear who is in there swinging for the middle class.

MATTHEWS: Joy, that`s going to be a battle of generations. I mean, Joe has been winning elections since he was 29 back in `72. He won his senate race for McGovern lost. And now he`s out there against this guy that`s the new kid on the block. How`s it going to look?

REID: Yes, absolutely. And I think people are going to underestimate Biden because they are going to assume. There he is. He`s going to do a gaffe. He is going to mess up. Don`t under estimate this guy. Because what you are going to see up there is a guy who can speak for his generation, who are critical to both of these campaigns, older people, working class people. And he can zero in on those folks and say, you know, I know she next door can`t afford to have a voucher and shop for her Medicare and when he turns to Paul Ryan, explain to me how you voucherize Mrs. McGill (ph) cut his Medicare, I don`t care how much the media has built up Ryan as this sort of genius. He`s not going to be able to answer that and that is going to be difficult for them. and I think they are more boxed in. So, don`t underestimate Biden.

MATTHEWS: I want to know about the neighbor on the other side. This is a (inaudible). I want to know about both of those ladies.

Anyway, --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I love Migilicutty, Lucille Migilicutty. I love Lucy. And her dad, as well.

Thank you very much. I love that name. U.S. Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic Party and Joy-Ann Reid, our own and Grio`s.

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