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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the real politics of equity, fairness, real Democratic values, Congressman. You`re in the leadership. You`re going to make the call. Does the president have to win -- I think he has to -- does he have to win on making sure that the wealthy of this country get back to paying what they paid under Clinton?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Absolutely. He`s just absolutely got to win that, and I think he will win that. But let me say, Chris -- thank you so much for having me. And may I say something about Susan Rice?

MATTHEWS: Sure.

CLYBURN: I have a real, real problem with my senior senator trying to make her a scapegoat in this. Susan Rice`s roots are in Florence, South Carolina, that I got the opportunity to serve for almost 20 years in the Congress. Her father, who -- Emmett (ph), who was born there in Florence, didn`t leave there until he was 16 years old -- I have been a close friend of his over the years. I`m a close friend with Susan Rice.

I think it`s absolutely a shame for this young lady, whose roots are deep in South Carolina soil, to get sullied like this by my senior senator, who I consider to be a good friend. Susan...

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about motive here because, you know, it does seem when a person makes -- even if you think a person made a mistake, they were given the wrong brief and they offered up the brief -- they don`t think she -- they haven`t said she made it up.

I mean, why is there this hostility to this young public servant, who isn't really much of a -- isn`t a politician even? She serves in the foreign affairs capacity. She`s not in the arena with you guys. Why are they treating her like she`s somebody to punch?

CLYBURN: That`s exactly right. This is a young African-American woman, I`m going to say.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CLYBURN: And this is the kind of stuff that happened to Colin Powell. Colin Powell was given information. He went to the United Nations with information that we found out later was flawed. It was not his fault then...

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he`s still mad...

CLYBURN: ... and it`s not Susan Rice`s fault...

MATTHEWS: ... about that. I think Colin Powell is still angry about the crap they gave him to speak. That`s my feeling.

CLYBURN: And so am I.

MATTHEWS: Because I like him.

CLYBURN: I do, too. And I think that Susan Rice is getting a raw deal here. Now, back to the politics...

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk taxes and the middle class and how the president won. It seems to me that this president was crystal clear on looking out for the middle class. If you`re rich, you`re going to have to pay a little more. And those are the stakes on election night, and he`s claiming them now. You know...

CLYBURN: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: OK.

CLYBURN: He campaigned on the issues that he`s laid before the American people. He`s talked about $1.6 trillion in revenues. I think Mr. Boehner`s now talking about $800 billion, somewhere in between that, we ought to get to.

And I do believe that the president is in a very good place on this issue. I think the American people have demonstrated with their votes and they continue to demonstrate with all the comments that I`ve heard that the president is where the American people like for him to be on this issue. Middle-income Americans have given a lot, and they have been giving and giving and giving. Just look at this war -- or these wars that we have fought. Basically, the people fighting in these wars, they`ve come from middle-income America. We are talking about people who seem not to have a vested interest in all of the sacrifices that are being made to get our economy back on track.

So the president is right where the American people like for him to be, and I hope and I feel that he will hold the line on these issues.

MATTHEWS: It`s great to have you on, sir. Such a great man. And I mean that. And every time I hear you talk, I say, Yes, yes, yes. Congressman James Clyburn, one of the leaders in the House of Representatives. Thank you so much for coming on.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

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