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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MATTHEWS: Senator, this is the new politics. It`s quick reaction, war room kind of politics. Is it worthy of our attention? Does it mean something when Joe Biden says buried because he means the middle class has been squeezed between the rich who are making a fortune and the cost of living out there?

SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Chris, we know what Joe Biden meant. He meant that the previous administration`s policies of eight years had put the middle class behind the eight ball. The great recession of `08 put the final stamp on those policies. Joe Biden was saying, we need to continue supporting the middle class, building outwardly from the middle class and producing an America that`s invested in the 21st century.

It is tough, though. Every day you get back and forth. Some days, I think we need more substance in our politics.

MATTHEWS: Nia, is this because we need a headline every day, these headlines that don`t -- I agree it`s a good spitball opportunity for the Republicans to say that the economy`s buried, the middle class has been buried by President Obama.

That`s not what he meant. He meant that they`re in a squeeze. But should we quibble over words or that`s just the nature of the beast?


Well, I think it`s certainly the nature of the Romney campaign beef.

They have been chasing rabbits throughout this campaign and I think this is just the latest example. They had honest Joe T-shirts out that they rolled out this morning with this comment and with a picture of Joe Biden. And you have seen them do this, sort of take comments out of context and then run with them. They did that with the "You didn`t build that" comment from President Obama.

But, ultimately, I don`t know how far it goes. It`s a news cycle that we find something to talk about every single day. And it`s hard to believe that this will actually last.

But I do think it will be something that will come up in the debate tonight. I imagine that Romney will quote Joe Biden in saying that the last four years haven`t been so great. And then I think with Ryan`s 30 percent comment, that will likely come up as well, either in the debate tonight or certainly in the debate next week.

MATTHEWS: Well, my general take on Biden gaffes, as they are, is they`re harmless. There`s no harm, so therefore no foul. The Republicans have been caught saying very serious stuff on tape they didn`t want anybody to hear. These weren`t mistakes in public where you say the wrong word and you meant to say something else. It`s when you`re caught saying something you don`t want anybody to know about except the chosen few who gave 50,000 bucks to hear you.

Here`s a tape of Paul Ryan the "Huffington Post" has dug up this tape of Ryan last year, talking about 30 percent of Americans wanting a welfare base. They want to live off the hog, basically. Sounds a lot like Mitt Romney`s comments 47 percent. Let`s watch the V.P. in action when nobody was paying attention.


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 that 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 want 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.


MATTHEWS: You know, I don`t know what he`s talking about. People on Social Security want to be alive. You get it when you`re 65. That`s the deal.

What`s the problem? He says, like -- like they didn`t want to be there. They want to be alive. They want to collect their benefits.

He makes it sound like there`s something really wrong getting a check from the government, and it makes you dependent when you may have worked from the time you were 14 to 65, and you got a couple of years, maybe 15 years, or 20 years you have good health, of benefits. That`s the deal.

That`s not bad.

Why is he doing this?

UDALL: It seems like they`re doubling down again. And there`s a dispute between Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney about whether it`s 30 percent or 47 percent.


UDALL: We`re focused on 100 percent.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Why, if you can you have been to politics, can you remember a time where a political party has carved out a huge percentage of the country saying we don`t like you, we don`t respect you, we want to get rid of you in terms of the way you live.

UDALL: That`s the impression they`re leaving, Chris. And certainly, President Eisenhower didn`t do that, President Nixon didn`t do that, President Reagan`s success was that he made all of us feel like we were all in it together. I didn`t always agree with his policy.

MATTHEWS: Well, Nixon said silent majority. These people are trying to put away the --

UDALL: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: What do you think, Nia, I`ve never seen a politician say, I`ll take the other part of the vote. I`m not interested in your half, or in this case, 70 percent he`s giving away.

HENDERSON: That`s right. I have never heard such language. I think it will allow Obama to do is extend the 47 percent argument to not only Ryan but also the entire Republican Party. He can say, this is a party that slices and dices the American public.

And in some ways I think this argument about 30 percent of the people being lazy, 47 percent of the people being lazy, very much goes against the idea of American exceptionalism. How can America be that exceptional if, in fact, 50 percent of the country is lazy?

Of course, we know that`s not true. America is an exceptional country. So, I think you`re going to see both Romney and Ryan struggle with this and have something to answer to tonight on stage and then when Ryan takes the stage ultimately next week. But I do think Ryan and Biden do have something that neither of the principles have.

And that is, they speak from their gut. They speak from their hearts. And I think that`s certainly -- it rouses up the base. You see in Biden, somebody who can speak to biker chicks, who can speak to NAACP --

MATTHEWS: You know why? Nia, are you one of those people that doesn`t have an underlined copy of "Atlas Shrugged"?


MATTHEWS: Because that`s what these guys have, they have underlined copies. It`s all about the elite that are holding up this world. They do all the work. They`re the atlases. That`s what this guy Ryan believes.

That`s -- Rand Paul, he`s named after Ayn Rand. It`s a whole clack of these people that believe that only the elite are worth talking about.

Anyway --

UDALL: It`s a great novel --


MATTHEWS: They don`t get many votes.

UDALL: It`s a great novel, Chris, but it`s certainly not something -


MATTHEWS: I agree. I love the fact -- anyway, thank you, Senator

Mark Udall. It`s good to see you.

UDALL: Thanks. Chris. Thanks.


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