MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


By:  John Larson
Date: Sept. 4, 2012
Location: Unknown


Is it credible what he`s saying now, Congressman, that he never said what it seemed like he said?

REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, Paul is a good Catholic. And you have to remember what the sisters of Notre Dame would teach us. Oh, the evil web we weave when first we practice to deceive.


LARSON: And --


so. But, OK, that`s all right.

LARSON: I don`t know if it`s in the Bible, but the sisters recited it pretty well, John.

And I think that that`s it. And you -- and then when you make a statement from your political party that fact-checking doesn`t matter --


LARSON: -- well, that`s created a whole lot of new jobs for people who are -- want to hear the facts and want to be the proof.

And the other thing, I think, Chris, this becomes personal. People are now taking a look at the guy who proposed to privatize Social Security and they`re taking a look at the guy who wanted to privatize Medicare.

They`re looking at, you know, getting rid of the guarantee and what it means to them and the Medicaid cuts and what that means to the very least amongst us, mostly the frail, elderly and disabled, speaking the truth.


So does it spill over into more serious topics? Does it really spill over to the big issues that affect people here when a guy gives something that doesn`t seem to be the truth?

HEILEMANN: Well, look, I think one of the paramount strategic imperatives for any politician is to control their public image. Paul Ryan came into this race with a reputation for policy wonkiness, candor, honesty.


HEILEMANN: Earnesty.

And those were things he wore proudly as his image. In the space of just 24 hours last week, he went -- now he`s like the poster boy for hypocrisy and hyperbole and lying. And whether all the charges are fair or not, when you lose control of your public image in that way, you suddenly become carrion.

The vultures start to circle and they start to look, as the congressman said, in a really careful way at everything you have said or done in the past and whether -- and you find there`s small things that get blown up to be too big, there`s big things that get blown up to be even bigger.

You suddenly are saying -- it`s a snowball rolling downhill and you suddenly start to realize why being vice president isn`t necessarily the best job in the world or running mate.


MATTHEWS: And for the rest of the campaign, there`s the old Warner Wolf threat, let`s go to the tapes.


MATTHEWS: Because you go to the tapes, you hear what he said before. Here`s a brand-new CNN poll just out today, right now in fact, and it shows virtually no bounce for Mitt Romney after the Republican Convention.


MATTHEWS: Look at that after. Not much happening there, Congressman.
Not much happening at all.

LARSON: No. There`s not.

And I think it`s in part not only because of their convention last week that was flat, I think, by everyone`s estimation.

MATTHEWS: That`s what Chris Christie said.

LARSON: Well, you`re right. And that`s a good source in this case. But also because of what they didn`t say -- and what they didn`t say, was, what`s their -- what is the -- they have become the party of change and hope. They change their positions every day and they hope you don`t notice it. And so we`re --



LARSON: And so we have to make sure that we remind them of the truth,
and we have got people who are fired up and ready to go.


MATTHEWS: Here`s Joe Biden. Here`s Joe Biden. He`s taken Ryan to task over a number of those facts and discrepancies in that speech last week.

Here was the vice president yesterday speaking at an AFL-CIO rally in Detroit. Let`s watch.


told you at their convention is simply, as they say in my old neighborhood,
not on the level.


BIDEN: You heard Congressman Ryan on Wednesday night blame the GM plant closing in Janesville, his hometown, on President Obama.

Well, folks, let`s take a look at the facts. What he didn`t tell you was the plant in Janesville actually closed on President Bush`s watch, while he was president.
Before the sacrifices you made, UAW members made, before those sacrifices and the courage of the president, but, for that, all the GM plants would have been closed.


MATTHEWS: So how do you think this debate is going to be? Coming up
next month, we got a debate between that guy and Ryan, the guy he`s taking
shots at.

John Heilemann, how do you see that?

HEILEMANN: Well, you know, I have a cover story in the "New York" magazine this week about Biden.

MATTHEWS: That`s right.

HEILEMANN: I spent a lot of time with him in the last month. He is fired up and ready to go for this debate. And I think, you know, people forget that Joe Biden, you know, no one is going to nominate Joe Biden to be the chairman of Mensa. He`s not Albert Einstein. But what he`s always been a master of is applied intelligence.

He goes to school, back in 1988 when he had to take on Robert Bork, when Bork was nominated to be chairman of the Supreme Court, supposedly one
of the smartest guys in all of history of conservatism, conservative legal
theory, Bork went off, he went off with all the legal liberal scholars, he
learned his brief and he came in and took Bob Bork down.

And so you can`t -- he knows how to do these things that combine factual accuracy with human empathy, with performance skills. There`s not very many debates Joe Biden has lost in his career. In the Senate or against Sarah Palin last time which was a high stakes endeavor.

MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, you know what, politics are risky. This
guy got elected to city council in his 20s, mid-20s, United States Senate 29 before it`s legal to take the office, he`s been re-elected from 29 to his late 60s, 40 some years of undefeated politics. He`s never lost an election and people like you keep talking about how slight he is intellectually.

And I would just wonder whether the guy who says he`s not so smart, is the smart as the guy who never loses an election. Just a thought. But maybe you`re right. Maybe you`re right.

HEILEMANN: I`m just -- I didn`t say slight. I didn`t say slight. I just said he`s not Albert Einstein. That`s all I said. Albert Einstein is a high bar.

MATTHEWS: None of us are.

LARSON: The greatest things in politics I think is to be underestimated.

MATTHEWS: Ronald Reagan was always underestimated.

LARSON: That`s true. And Ronald Reagan also said facts are a stubborn thing and Joe Biden is going to take Mr. Ryan to task on the facts. And he can connect with people as good as anybody that there is. And I thank him from his line the other day, you know.

MATTHEWS: OK. Over the weekend, the press called Ryan out on another factually inaccurate mistake he made, this having to do with his skills as a runner. Now, we`ll see how important this is. I`m not sure.

Mr. Ryan claimed to have finished a marathon under three hours, extraordinary feat, which turns out to be far from the truth. Here`s what the candidate told Hugh Hewitt, an ally, by the way, last month. Let`s listen.


HUGH HEWITT: You did run marathons at some point?

it anymore because of my back is just not that great.

HEWITT: All right. Just got to ask, what`s your personal best?

RYAN: Under three, I think high twos, two hours and 50 something.

HEWITT: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University

RYAN: When I was younger, yes.


MATTHEWS: Well, people tell me that is one hell of a time and apparently one hell of a time and apparently not accurate. John?

HEILEMANN: I will say that I am about as -- I`m about as likely to run a marathon as I am to go to the moon. Drop dead if I got halfway

But there`s no one I know who`s run a marathon from my wife to -- all my friends, I have a lot of friends, the ones who have, they will remember their marathon time until the day they die down to the second. And they look at this and they -- lot of people think this is not a big deal. Lot of people think it`s not a big deal.

No one who has run a marathon who doesn`t think this is a big deal. It`s like your SAT scores. You remember them until the day you die. No one misstates it, and misstates it in a way that like goes from being like 1,200 to 1,600. Nobody gets that wrong.

So, it raises -- it`s one of those little tiny things that might illuminate something about character.

MATTHEWS: Can you beat down the assessment there?

LARSON: No. That`s -- someone who would take a calendar to time my
marathon, you got to be very --

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the politics.

LARSON: Be very careful --

MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the politics.

LARSON: Credibility like you said that John mentioned off the bat.

MATTHEWS: How many times can you be dishonest, obviously dishonest
and people say you might be right this time?

LARSON: Well, you know, I think it is credibility and as John says, Paul, who I came into Congress with, who his reputation, his stock in trade was taking that bold position and always being very clear on it and always being willing to take the tough stance. Now he`s got to run from those positions and to say, to say at the convention and look straight into the camera and talk about how they are going to preserve Social Security and Medicare and care about the least amongst us -- please?

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, U.S. Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, and John -- the great John Heilemann, the "Game Changer" John Heilemann.

Up next is one of the hottest races in the country this year. Former Virginia governor, former DNC chairman Tim Kaine is going to be here, right here -- talking about the hottest Senate race around and how important that state is. President Obama, I think he needs Virginia and that`s next.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


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