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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask Governor Romney a question to Congressman Chaffetz. You say you want to go after Iran even if they have the capability, that`s the phrase, capability of producing a nuclear weapon.

Capability. How do you justify preemptive war?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Hey, look, one of our greatest allies is Israel. We have to make sure we`re standing with them in this fight because they have said that they will use nuclear weapons to destroy the United States of America, to destroy Israel. We`re going to stand together with them. We have to prevent this and make sure that it never happens. We`re going to negotiate hard. But the projection of strength will actually lead to, I think, a better negotiating position because under President Obama it`s gotten more tumultuous and worse.

MATTHEWS: OK. That will sound what that it work with the right wing evangelicals and some Jewish people, but it`s not answering my question.

And my question is simple and you freaking answered it, all right? Here`s the question. Your candidate says he will go to war, commit an act of war against Iran if it even have the capability. Not that it has nuclear weapons. But that he judges it has the capability. Are you comfortable with that as an American? Comfortable with going to war under those limited circumstances or extended circumstances?

CHAFFETZ: If there is a clear and present danger to the United States of America, yes --

MATTHEWS: No, a capability --

CHAFFETZ: The president will take decisive answer that will --

MATTHEWS: That`s rhetoric. It`s not policy.

CHAFFETZ: It`s a clear and present danger. If it does create a clear and present danger --

MATTHEWS: That`s not policy. That`s general talk.

CHAFFETZ: -- to the United States of the America --

MATTHEWS: It`s talk.

CHAFFETZ: No, it`s not.

MATTHEWS: You`re comfortable with the word - no, no, you have to capability is enough for you? Capability is enough for you.

CHAFFETZ: Yes. I want to make sure that if there is --

MATTHEWS: Yes, you`ve answered it, finally.


MATTHEWS: I hope it gets this good tonight.

Anyway, let me ask you Congressman Chaffetz, about your health care plan, Mr. Romney. I have a hard time figuring exactly what it is because he keeps saying, if someone gets sick and they have a heart attack, we`ll rush them to the emergency room, we won`t leave them in their apartments or whatever.

My question is, what is the Romney health care plan? Does it exist? Is there such a thing. He wants to dump the Obama plan. What does he want to create for the 40 million people, 40 million people who would lose their health care?

CHAFFETZ: No, I disagree with the very premise of that. But, Chris, what Governor Romney has done and did as the governor of Massachusetts -- what he did as the governor of Massachusetts is he worked with an 87 percent Democrat legislature in a bipartisan way to come up with solutions.

The federal government doesn`t need to try to solve every one of these issues. States can solve lots of these issues. And how we deal with it in Utah is going to be very different in Massachusetts or Florida.

Absolutely, it`s going to be a little bit different.

MATTHEWS: So it`s very possible --

CHAFFETZ: Of course we`re going to do this.

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute.

CHAFFETZ: I`m sorry?

MATTHEWS: It`s the year 2012. It`s the year 2012. So when Obama did it, nobody ever did it in history. And you`re saying, of course we would do it. Is there any evidence in history that the Republican Party would have ever created a health care plan? Have you ever tried to do it? Ever? Tell me when you guys --

CHAFFETZ: We have passed --

MATTHEWS: When did you guys create a health care plan?

CHAFFETZ: We have passed more bills that are now sitting in the United States Senate than you can possibly imagine. There`s more than 30 jobs bills, there`s a number of bills that deal with health care. And yes, a president --

MATTHEWS: When is the Republican Party ever created a national health care plan --

CHAFFETZ: President Romney will create to give each state a waiver so they can craft that work at their own plan. There are certain things that the federal can and should do, and I would point to the example of what a governor Mitt Romney did with an 87 percent Democratic legislature. You`ve got to do it in a bipartisan way, not the way Democrats did it, slamming it through without Republican support.

MATTHEWS: So there`s no national health care plan, it`s up to the states.

CHAFFETZ: That`s part of it. It`s an oversimplification, but we have to deal with Medicaid. We want to block grant this to the states on Medicaid, so that they can craft plans and have maximum flexibility, on Medicare. There are things that we`ve got to be able to do. That governor Romney has laid out. Of course, we`re going to tackle this and make it happen.

MATTHEWS: So if you live in a backwater state -- no, if you live in a backwater state that doesn`t want to do anything on health care --

CHAFFETZ: What state is a backwater state? No, no, no. What state is a backwater state? I don`t buy that.

MATTHEWS: No, they`re all going to -- excuse me, until Massachusetts did it, nobody else had done it. Who else had done it?

CHAFFETZ: No doubt --

MATTHEWS: Who else --

CHAFFETZ: There is no doubt.

MATTHEWS: Describe --

CHAFFETZ: Look at what happened in Utah.

MATTHEWS: I don`t want to waste your time, but tell me the Utah health care plan right now. Describe it.

CHAFFETZ: Well, we have, actually, a high-risk insurance pool, so everybody, if they want insurance, they can get into insurance. We also have health care exchange.

MATTHEWS: So if you get a disease, if you get sick in Utah, what happens? And don`t have insurance?

CHAFFETZ: You can find your way -- what happens?

You can find your way to getting health care insurance. Absolutely, that`s available. It`s a high-risk insurance pool that`s out there. We also have a health care exchange. We also have one of the best systems out there to make sure that we`re drive doing down the cost of health care.

MATTHEWS: What are you bragging about Massachusetts, and you haven`t done it yourself. You`re saying Massachusetts couldn`t be more different than Utah.


MATTHEWS: It couldn`t be more different. It`s got 87 percent Democrats running it.

CROWLEY: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: You isn`t got health care plan.

CHAFFETZ: We do. We have some of the best health care in the nation in Utah.

MATTHEWS: I`m sorry --

CHAFFETZ: Before the state of the union, he pointed to Utah as one of the best health care systems out there. So, despite what you said, even President Obama points to Utah as one of the best health care systems.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, very much. You have won the debate.Anyway, thank you, Joe Crowley. Thank you, Congressman Jason Chaffetz.


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