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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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How did this guy win a nomination in a significant state like Missouri to run for the United States Senate, this guy, Todd Akin, with his views?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: It was a three-way primary. And the far right, very evangelical, religious base of the Republican Party, the Mike Huckabee-Rick Santorum wing of the Republican Party, coalesced behind Todd Akin in the primary. And in a three-way primary, that was enough.

MATTHEWS: Well, earlier this week -- Akin is back in shape here, I guess, in terms of the establishment. He had this to say about your debating style. Take a look.


AKIN: The first two minutes, it was like somebody let a wildcat loose! And so we went at it for about an hour.


MATTHEWS: Well, he said he was surprised about how you attacked from every different direction -- you know, as if it was a debate or something.

And he said you weren`t very lady-like. Let`s check that thought from him.


AKIN: She was very aggressive in the debate, which was quite different than the way she was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was very much more sort of lady-like in all (ph) in (ph) the debate that we had Friday. She came out swinging, an I think that`s because she was threatened.


MATTHEWS: Well, today, Akin denied his use of the word ladylike was sexist. He said it was the same thing as calling a man a gentleman -- quote -- "We have a couple words in the English language. One is a gentleman and one is a lady.

They`re pretty self-explanatory and I was using them just as the English language uses those items or those terms."

What do you make of that? When you heard him say ladylike, did it strike you as a bit yesterday and sexist in the old-time version where women are treated as somehow frail and they should act like they`re frail and fragile, and they shouldn`t really get rough and tough, even when it`s a fight for the United States Senate? What did you think?

MCCASKILL: Well, you know, I was speechless.

I`m a former courtroom prosecutor, Chris. And I want to be strong and informed. And I fight for Missouri`s middle-class families. And Todd Akin is very extreme. And I don`t think he was prepared for me confronting him with things like him being one of the handful of people to vote against the child nutrition program and voting against a sex offender registry and voting against a Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I mean, this is somebody who does make Michele Bachmann look like a hippy.

He is that far on the fridge.

MATTHEWS: That`s pretty far.

MCCASKILL: And pointing those things out, I`m not sure that he was prepared for that, but I was polite and calm.

And I think that saying I was unladylike is a code word for that, you know, women shouldn`t be strong and that we should be more deferential, and I think that`s probably what he was getting at.

MATTHEWS: Well, you ought to be strong.

You`re the only thing between him and this crackpot getting into the United States Senate. I wish you would get a little tougher.

Look at the things he stands for. He wants to basically get rid of Medicare. He`s bought into that. He`s very proud of that vote. And then he wants to abolish the minimum wage. There`s a lot of people out there who got by -- got their first job with a minimum wage and needed it to get protection.

He wants to get rid of student loans. I had student loans all through college. I had an assistance in college and grad school. And I got a fellowship I was offered in grad school. A lot of us couldn`t go to quality schools if we didn`t have that kind of help.

What is he talking about saying we got to get rid of student loans and calling it stage three cancer? Well, it wasn`t that for me. What`s he talking about?

MCCASKILL: Well, that`s just it. It`s not what he has said that`s the problem. It`s what he believes that is the problem.


MCCASKILL: I don`t think government is the answer, but, Chris, government is not the enemy.

And even further yesterday, this was an amazing piece of tape that we will be happy to share with you for a later date. He actually said that he was against the equal pay act because he thought employers should have the freedom...

MATTHEWS: Well, we got it. Senator, we have it.


MCCASKILL: ... freedom to discriminate.

MATTHEWS: We`re pretty good here. We got ahold of that.He here was yesterday. He was asked why he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and why he thought it was OK for a woman to be paid less for the same work as a man. And here is his answer. You can respond. Let`s watch.


AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is, is that I`m making that particular distinction.

I believe in free enterprise. I don`t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don`t pay. I think it`s about freedom. If somebody wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that`s fine, however it wants to work. And so the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.


MATTHEWS: Well, he doesn`t believe in the government requiring fairness in the workplace.

What does he -- does he believe in child labor laws? Is he against them too? Is he against the civil rights bill for public accommodations where you can`t close your bathrooms to black people? What kind of laws is this guy for? Apparently, nothing.

MCCASKILL: Well, I think that you`re probably onto something there, but the notion the...


MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like his principle is don`t mess with business on anything.

MCCASKILL: I think that the notion that it would be OK, that it is interfering with someone`s freedom to say to them you can`t discriminate against someone that is doing the same work just because they`re a woman, you know, I`m -- I -- we have had an outpouring of support in the last 48 hours., people are coming there and they`re really jazzed up about this notion that I was -- that I`m not ladylike. I am a fighter, Chris.


MCCASKILL: I`m proud to be a fighter for Missouri families and there`s a lot at stake in this election, and, believe me, it`s not over.

Missouri will be tough. This will be close.

MATTHEWS: Did you ever have a defense attorney say to you when you`re putting a bad guy in prison, you`re not being ladylike there? You just did your job.

MCCASKILL: Yes. When I was...


MATTHEWS: Anyway, good luck in this race.

MCCASKILL: Thank you very much, Chris.

MATTHEWS: This is not a hard one to decide on. You`re qualified to be a senator and proved that this guy is not qualified for any position.

Anyway, thank you, Claire McCaskill, for joining us.

MCCASKILL: Thank you. Thank you so much.


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