tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 30, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
it's a food essential effectively. >> haven't seen him lately, trying to keep the fox away from the hens. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. herman squirmin'. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews up in boston. leading off tonight, staying alive. herman cain is brushing off calls from his own party to get out of the presidential race. cain still reassessing his campaign, but late today he talked about ginger white, the woman who says she had a 13-year affair with him and said people put her up to it, and he blamed the sources by the media, the establishment, and said the charges are all part of a democratic strategy to make newt
gingrich the nominee. wow. plus, mitt romney's feeling the heat as newt gingrich does rise in the polls. he got a tad testy in an interview with fox. >> climate change, abortion, immigration, gay rights, how can voters trust what they hear from you today is what you will believe if you win the white house? >> well, bret, your list is just not accurate so, one, we're going to have to be better informed on my views about issues. >> romney figured he'd get an easier ride from the folks at fox. that's just it. after five years of campaigning mitt romney can't seal the deal with conservative republicans, and it must unsettle him a tad to see newt doing so well. and president obama campaigns for white working class voters. he's in scranton, pennsylvania today, hillary country, pushing congress to extend the payroll tax cut. but will those voters from scranton, pennsylvania, the oshkosh, wisconsin, go with the president next november? and he's been one of the smartest members of congress for three decades, and he's leaving office after this term. barney frank comes to "hardball"
tonight for his official exit interview. and let me finish tonight with ow how heroism like john kennedy's is what we need today. we begin with herman cain. jonathan martin is with politico and nia-malika henderson is with the "washington post." we watched this thing late this afternoon. i've never seen so many charges coming to defend a guy who seems guilty but yet believes everybody else in the country, from let's get it straight, the media, the people who put her up to it, as he puts it, this is classic anita hill stuff. he says that the establishment is after him. he said the democrats are secretly planning to get newt gingrich as the nominee and not him. i want to go to nia-malika on this. this does remind me of the right wing attack on anita hill during the clarence thomas hearings. >> yeah, except at this point he has himself stopped playing the ration card and stopped invoking clarence thomas, and as well he's lost a lot of support of people who are also playing that race card for him and comparing this to clarence thomas. i think you're exactly right
though. in herman cain's mind, and it seems to be only his mind, there is this vast conspiracy against him, this plot to bring him down which, you know, in order to believe him, we would have to believe that all of these women are reading from the same script. they, of course, don't know each other. there's no evidence that someone else put them up to this. what would the motivation be for all of these women to come out, and, you know, in this interview he is saying that he was just a friendly relationship that he had with this woman, that he's just very generous, and what's also interesting about what herman cain has been saying all along, it's that there could be more people that come out. he said this from his first interview, that there could be more women to come out because he's just so generous, so it's like he's been preparing us that there are more shoes to drop on
this thing. >> yeah. he's preparing us for that. jonathan, respond to this. here's crain late today saying there's an effort out there to assassinate his characters. he lists a lot of villains here. let's watch. >> this is a character assassination on me. why? because i was doing so well. there's no other reason to basically explain it. secondly, this ginger white was having financial problems, and i was trying to help her and then, boom, out of nowhere, she decides that she's going to go public, you know, with this information. >> boy, you know, sometimes he sounds like trent lott. this is very ironic, but the same accent. anyway, your thoughts, j-mar. this guy has gone through so many villains. you wonder if he believes anything of what he's saying or if it's just ego talking and self-defense. >> yeah.
the challenge for the claim that people are trying to hurt him because he was doing well politically is undercut, chris, somewhat by the fact that the three women who have made public claims are not terribly political. you've got a career employee. you've got a marketing rep in chicago, and now you've got a -- a lady in atlanta who doesn't seem to have any real political ties, so i -- i don't know how he really makes that case. as for democrats wanting to face herman cain in the general election, i'm sorry, for democrats being scared of herman cain in the general election, you would think that the dnc and president obama's campaign would have been highlighting the stories against him for the past month. in fact, they have not sent out one single press release in the course of a month, so i'm not sure how he can make the case that democrats are scared of him next year. >> i don't think anybody is scared of him. >> but, chris, this is the paradox though of mr. cain's campaign, is that he recognizes
that he's got to be more disciplined, i think, to a certain degree, but yet every time he gets a new spot of trouble he can't help himself from going on tv, and he goes on tv and, you know, makes some accusations that then spawn more stories. the pattern sort of keeps repeating itself here. >> well, i think he's diluted. i know you're being very fair and straight but i think he's diluted in thinking he's still a hot contender for the republican nomination. >> well, chris -- >> here he is now blaming the democrats again for what's behind all this. let's watch right now, his latest set of accusations. >> the democrats want newt gingrich to win the nomination so they can then go after his personal life, but they need to knock me out now. my star was shining and rising too fast. >> well, again -- >> that's astounding. that's -- i've got to go to nia. this seems astounding because he's suggesting a brilliant strategic mindset on the part of the democratic party which imagines saving newt for the last, getting rid of cain so that they can get to newt and his three marriages as -- because it's so appetizing run against. maybe he's right in terms of ideal opponent, but i don't
think they are that smart to figure this one out. >> well, yeah, and sometimes it's hard to keep track of this whole conspiracy that he is -- is weaving there, but i also think that the democrats would love to face herman cain in the general given what he -- the material that they have so far, given his lack of experience in foreign policy, given some of the gaffes that he's made and given all of the baggage that he's collected over these last weeks and explaining this and not doing so well. so this idea that he is the democrats' worst nightmare, as he said, it also just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. >> chris -- >> jonathan, respond -- i want you -- we have to get through a couple points. respond to this. here he is, houdini-like responding to the 61 text messages between him, cain, and ginger white over the several-month period here, as early as 4:25 in the morning when these calls and texts were sent out. let's listen to how he handled it and then you jump in here. >> that by itself doesn't tell you the whole story.
if she were texting me at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, wanting to know if i can help her with her rent or help her with her car note, that doesn't mean that i was calling her. the other thing about those phone calls, which we have requested, that we be given access to them, my attorney and i, is what really was the pattern of those? all it says was 61 calls. i talk to a lot of people 61 times. we don't even know over what period of time. >> right. >> well, apparently, jonathan, that's four or five months. >> that's the challenge that -- that he has here. every time he goes on here, mr. cain damages his campaign more saying that you text and call a lot of people 61 times is a sound bite that you're going to hear again and again because for a lot of voters out there, when they hear a married man is texting and calling over a period of four months a woman who is not his wife 61 times, that tends to raise suspicion, but, chris, there's an important point to consider.
mr. cain said that he's going to take several days to reassess whether or not he's going to stay in this campaign. you know how politics works, chris. that is going to be the only story line that is dominated his campaign for those period of days, and so what's going to happen is voters are not going to do anything but flee from a candidate who has said that they are reassessing whether or not to stay in the campaign. he is effectively torpedoing his own campaign but saying he's going to string out a decision whether or not to stay in the race or not. his poll numbers as a response to this statement are really going to take a hit. >> well, cain was asked to respond to ginger white's assertion this morning actually that she thought he wasn't fit to be president. let's watch his response to that charge. >> on ginger white, why would she say -- she's known you 13 years, and you say that a non-amorous relationship. why would she say out of the blue he's not fit to be president?
>> neil, i have no idea unless the people who i believe are putting her up to this, maybe that was one of the lines that she was supposed to use. neil, i have no idea. >> what do you think is putting her up to it? >> we don't know. we have no idea who it is. >> so nia, do you follow that logic? we don't know who it is but we know that there's a he or a she, somebody, probably a he, who put her up to this. there's an assumption there that i don't know what you call it except somehow condescending. it can't possibly have been an autonomous decision by another individual and professional woman. it has to be a group behind her, probably white guys or whatever. i don't know what -- you know, it's the usual suspects kind of thing here, you know what i'm talking about here, the establishment. >> yeah, i mean, i don't know if they are white guys or black guys or guys at all. i have no idea. again, it's just hard to follow this logic. it's the same logic, conspiracy theory, is really that it is that he was using to explain
sharon bialek coming out, that someone was putting her up to it, that these women didn't have the same agency. >> it's anita hill stuff. i remember it and not happily. thank you, jonathan martin and nia-malika henderson. mitt romney can't be happy to see newt gingrich rising in the polls and he showed it in this interview he just gave to fox. he's really sweating. is the republican race bowling down to these two candidates. mitt versus newt, what a choice. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
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welcome back to "hardball." in a testy interview last night with fox news's bret baier, mitt romney took an opportunity to go after his number one challenger, newt gingrich. let's listen. >> speaker gingrich is a good man. he and i have very different backgrounds. he spent his last 30 or 40 years in washington. i spent my career in the private sector. i think to get president obama out of office you're going to have to bring something to the race that's different than what he brings. he's a lifelong politician. >> in response gingrich told the "washington post," quote, you're talking to a guy who was dead in june. i'm now being attacked by the
former front-runner. wow. what's less appealing here, do you think? a sweaty romney, or a triumphant newt? david corn is washington bureau chief for "mother jones" and msnbc political analyst, and cynthia tucker is a pulitzer prize winning columnist and visiting professor at university of georgia. i want you poet to take a crack at what's going on right now, just the setting right now. for the first time it looks like we have two fairly equally matched candidates, mitt romney, the sort of establishment guy that's sort of class act and the somewhat mad dog newt gingrich at each other's throats right now. let's watch in a minute, but i want your reactions right now. do you sense that mitt romney is getting rattled? do you sense that newt is getting to be arrogant as he ll again? neither picture being that attractive. you first, david. >> well, the way i look at this, chris, is that life doesn't get much beyond high school and you have the big man on campus, the student body president who looks
good, mitt romney, may not be liked by everyone as much as he thinks he's liked by them and then you have the head of the av club, newt gingrich, the snarky, nerdy guy who knows how to get under the other fellow's skin. the race stays this way, remember, newt has yet to go through the full scrutiny that everyone else has gone through in the favor of the nanosecond episodes that we've seen, but if he stays at this level, the two of them could have a real death spiral between each other. the personalities don't mesh, and they are going to be at each other's throat, as you said, and it's going to be either fun or not so pretty to watch, depending on your perspective. >> you mean there's evil beneath the evil of newt gingrich, beneath the obvious evil? you mean, there's something below we haven't seen?
let's go right to -- >> i was just going to say there's a lot of acting out yet to come. >> okay. cynthia, your view of this matchup right now. it looks to be the matchup that's going to go all the way down south in the early months of next year. >> absolutely. i mean, unbelievably, incredibly. polls are showing newt rising everywhere, overtaking mitt romney in some places, surpassing him in others. some polls show newt comfortably out in front, for example, in south carolina. david said this will either be fun or ugly to watch, depending on your perspective. i think it might be ugly to watch to watch for establishment republicans. it will be a great deal of fun for journalists. i mean, mitt romney has had the luxury of not having to respond to any of his rivals so far, chris, because none of them came up to mitt. he could stay comfortably above the fray and just attack barack obama. as the -- he was trying to portray himself as the inevitable nominee. but the simple fact of the matter inewt is not as smart as he thinks he is, but he's smart enough to engage in a rhetorical battle with mitt romney, and so we're going to see a lot of snarkiness going for the.
>> well, here's some of it now. i'm beginning to see right now, thanks to bret baier who has done a very good interview for fox. i see mitt romney starting to get tagged as he's never been tagged before, and he's starting to sweat a little. watch his leg crossing which he never does. it's an odd bit of secondary characteristic, but this guy never moves when he's being interview but here he is readjusting his presentation in the middle of an interview. mitt romney pretty much avoided one-on-one interviews this political election and perhaps now we know why. take a look at some of the more awkward moments, as i said, in this interview on fox with bret baier. it's yesterday. let's watch. >> climate change, abortion, immigration, gay rights. how can voters trust what they hear from you today is what you will believe if you win the white house? >> well, bret, your list is just not accurate. one, we'll have to be better informed about my view on issues. >> i'm sure you've seen these ads, using videotape of you in
previous years speaking on various issues. >> mm-hmm. >> and it seems like it's in direct contrast to positions you take now. >> well, i -- i'm glad that the democratic ads are breaking through, and you got -- >> do you think a mandate mandating people to buy insurance is the right tool? >> bret, i don't know how many hundreds times i've said this, too. this is an unusual interview, let's do it again. >> did you not say on camera and other places that at times you thought it would be a model for the nation? >> you're wrong, bret. >> no, no. >> the tape out there, continue to read the tape. >> well, david, looks like he flip-flopped with his legs there because finally the guy who is a human statute, finally actually crossed his legs, like give me a break here. i don't know what the body language people are saying about that particular gesture, but he didn't like that interview one bit. >> no. i think it seems like mitt romney is not running for president but he's running for bishop. these questions have come up -- >> i think he's already a bishop actually. >> maybe he is. these questions have come up in
the debate about his flip-flops, and there have been some ads taken out, but, you know, all the debate opponents who have raised this matter have done it very inartfully. when you see bret baier do it or when maybe newt gingrich will do it, these are very tight corners from which mitt romney will have a hard time escaping. we know. we've talked about this. newt gingrich has as many flip-flops and gyrations as mitt does so he's a poor person to make this case, but i think the obama people are just laying in wait. i mean, mitt romney, it all goes to the overall narrative that there's not a lot inside mitt romney, and he in that interview really in a friendly environment with bret baier and fox news completely flubbed it. it doesn't bode well will how he'll deal with this major campaign vulnerability. >> we only have a couple more seconds before we go to newt here, but i want to ask you about mitt. cynthia it seems you can't go ha, ha, ha every time somebody catches you in a double cross. everyone time some commentator like me is going to say i don't know ha, ha, ha means when i catch you double crossing another issue.
>> he was very condescending and very uncomfortable, but, you know, it reminds me that throughout the campaign season throughout these debates, commentators have talked about how polished mitt romney was, how disciplined and how well he's done in the debates. the fact of the matter was he didn't have any rivals who were anywhere near his level. once you have somebody lobbing tough questions at mitt romney, he begins to sweat. he gets snarky. he doesn't have any good answers, so i'm not sure he was quite the polished debater so many people said. he just didn't have anybody who was prepared to throw real questions at him. >> so he lobs, but he doesn't lobby, just to be clear on that? okay. let's go to the guy who just accused of being a lobber, not a lobbyist, newt gingrich.
yesterday he denied being a lobbyist inside saying he was a celebrity. this guy's ego. he's a celebrity who made enough in speeches, 60k a possible, not to have to lobe, just to lob. let's listen to newt describing how great he is. >> and lechter. >> yeah. >> i did no lobbying of any kind, period for a practical reason. i'm going to be really direct, okay? i was charging $60,000 a speech, and the number of speeches was going up, not down. normally celebrities leave and sell fewer speeches every year. we were selling more. >> let me ask you, david. is his head a balloon that he's pumping air into all the time? mean, it seems to get big and bigger the more the bs comes out of his mouth. he's unbelievable. nobody says i'm -- angelina jolie doesn't say i'm a celebrity. nobody says that. >> i know, i know, and we were selling speeches, you know, the
royal we being used. newt has always had a -- you know, a slight to gargantuan ego problem. i think this rush of moving to the front-runner status has -- has gone further to his head. you know, he said at the very beginning of this race, the key question here is whether he can be disciplined and focused enough, and the answer we see over and over again is no. he can't be, but yet mitt romney is so unpopular he's going to do well. this guy, you know, i think -- it seems as if the gas is building and building and building, and eventually it's going to have to blow. >> well, i hate to be the republican -- a republican -- i'm sorry. i've got to end this. i'd hate to be the republican archie andrews trying to decide between this betty and veronica act. imagine choosing between these two guys, mitt and newt. anyway, thank you, cynthia. thank you, david.
>> up next, cain's loss may be newt's gain but jon stewart has an interesting take on that phenomenon, and that's ahead in the sideshow. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 tdd# 1-800-345-2550 let's talk about making sense out of tdd# 1-800-345-2550 what's happening right now. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 tdd# 1-800-345-2550 at charles schwab, we're ready with objective insights about tdd# 1-800-345-2550 the current market and economic conditions. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 and we can help turn those insights into a plan tdd# 1-800-345-2550 of action that's right for you. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 so talk to chuck and turn complexity tdd# 1-800-345-2550
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, with herman cain's campaign reassessing his prospects in the 2012 race, a lot of people are asking which of the other candidates will his supporters turn to? could it really be newt gingrich? jon stewart captured the iron of that news on "the daily show" last night. let's watch. >> the scandal has taken its toll on the cain campaign. reports are now emerging that he might be considering withdrawing from the race which i strongly discourage him from doing. i've already lost trump. i can't lose you, too. if these allegations of sexual impropriety derail cain, who will benefit. >> herman cain was already losing altitude in this race. where do his votes go? >> they go to newt gingrich i
think. >> what? so voters leave cain because they don't like that he had an affair and go to the guy who had two of them. i guess newt gingrich becomes the candidate for people who like herman cain but think he was too monogamous. [ laughter ] >> well, look, the only candidate saddened by cain's downfall besides cain is mitt romney. here's jon huntsman speaking for the happy survivors. quote, we've got real issues to talk about, not the latest bimbo eruption. well, this whole shebang has been like the old agatha christie where one by one people stuck in a house are getting knocked off. the mystery now who will be the last republican standing? speaking of that, fresh from his most recent flub, not knowing the legal voting age, rick perry has issued a warning to some federal workers out there, should he end up in the white
house. at a new hampshire town hall yesterday, perry answered questions about the role of the federal government, so what's perry's plan of action if he thinks federal employees are not exactly acting in line with his vision for where things should be headed? well, listen to this. >> you have health and human service bureaucrats that try to block our being able to block grant dollars back to the states, so you all can decide how best to deliver health care in new hampshire, i don't think you can fire federal bureaucrats, but you can reassign them, so reassign them to some really god awful place. >> well, i think they just got a whole lot more job security. governor rick perry of texas is staying put in texas. up next, the president's trip to scranton today is all about wing over the white working class voters, and there are a lot of them in northeastern pennsylvania. will they be with the president next november? you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. your chain of supply ♪
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here's what's happening. a massive rally on wall street after the system was lubricated with u.s. dollars. tonight the first official lawsuit has been filed against former penn state coach jerry sandusky. he alleges that he was molested over 100 times by sandusky as a child. and the baseline killer has been sentenced to death. and hillary clinton made an precedented visit to myanmar. to help kick off the holiday season with the 74-year-old norway spruce with 36,000 lights topped with a crystal star. a happy holiday.
are you willing to fight as hard for middle class families as you do for those who are most fortunate? what's it going to be? that's the choice in front of congress. what does it say about our priorities when we'd rather protect a few really well-to-do people than fight for the jobs of teachers and fire fighters? what does it say -- >> welcome back to "hardball." today president obama visited scranton, pennsylvania, to make his case for an extension of the payroll tax holiday. it's no coincidence, however, the president chose scranton. it's a town considered by many to be ground zero for the kind of blue collar white voters obama will need to win in that
crucial state of pennsylvania and what i call the oshkosh to scranton arc, the blue collar white voters that president obama has traditionally had trouble winning over, i must say. well, senator robert casey of pens pen, i called you president for a minute, is a sponsor of the payroll tax holiday legislation. senator casey, you're extremely connected up there. this is not shining you up. everybody in pennsylvania knows you're a connected regular middle of the road democratic type. how does the president join new that well-positioned democratic wing of the democratic party vote with white guys, to be blunt about it, white women, not just minority >> well, chris, i think when you look at scranton, my hometown voters? and you spent a lot of time there, lackawanna county in northeastern pennsylvania, we're suffering through the aftermath of a horrific recession. there's still almost 10,000
people out of work just in the county, but i think what they -- what they expect of us, whether it's me or whether it's the president or any elected official, they want you to answer one question. what are you doing today, and what have you been doing about creating jobs? this payroll tax cut is a really good idea, not just because it's my bill, because it will be a -- a direct benefit to workers and to businesses. that's why it's a -- it's an expansion of what we did last year. this is for the employee and the employer. it will put a lot of people to work. it's a great jump starter of the economy. it will put about 1,500 bucks in the pockets of the average worker, so what he's doing today is in furtherance i think of that goal of not just making a connection when it comes to the struggle and the sacrifice of people living through but in a very tangible way. this will work. it's not theory. it's not untested. this will work, and i think we need to pass the bill. >> well, among all pennsylvania voters, senator, here's numbers you're familiar with. president obama's favorable number is 47. his unfavorable number 49. not bad. a gap within the margin of error. these are tough times, but among white voters it's just 41% favorable. 54% unfavorable. let me give you another cut line. let's drill down into the number among white voters.
with college for education, obama is favorable and unfavorable numbers are tied at 48%. but among white pennsylvania voters without a college education, these are the important group, there's a lot more of them, by the way, those people without college educations in pennsylvania. the slit is large. look at that. 38% favorable of the president and unfavorable, 57%. that's almost 60/40, and maybe it's worse than that. it's roughly 60/40 against the president. do you feel that when you go across the state, senator? >> i do, chris, and it's -- it's a very tough time for people, and especially folks that have lesser education. they tend tonight ones that are most adversely impacted by this economy. that's another reason why passing this payroll tax cut is really important because what it -- what we're saying is that the cut from last year from 6.2 down to 4, we're going to take that even lower, so, in other
words, you're cutting the payroll tax in half for workers and for businesses. this will directly and will directly and disproportionately in a very positive way impact lower income folks, lower and middle income workers and their families, so i think the president is on the right track. i just hope that we can get a few republican senators to join us in the senate to get more than 60 votes so we can do this a bipartisan way. we did it last year on a tax bill. i think we can do it again. >> okay. senator robert casey, thank you so much for joining us from scranton, pennsylvania, your hometown. actually you're here in washington but you're from scranton. you had to vote today. now msnbc political analyst and former pennsylvania governor ed rendell joins us. governor rendell, you're from the southeastern part of the state, and i'm just thinking about this very simple thing, connection. hillary clinton could do it, bill clinton could do it. they seemed to come from middle class backgrounds, especially the former president. he never seemed like an elitist, never seemed like an ivy league guy even though he's a rhodes scholar. how do you get that from this president, that connection?
>> i'm not sure you necessarily have to do that. fdr certainly came from a white-laced background and he connected, so i think the president can, and i think he's started the road back with these voters by what he's doing on the jobs bill. for instance, in scranton, chris, there are a lot of unemployed or guys who are working halftime construction workers. they are those white blue collar voters you're talking about. barack obama wants to put them to work with almost $100 billion of new infrastructure money. republicans don't, so i think he's got to keep pushing the message of jobs. he's got to keep pushing the message of income inequality and how he wants to make it fairer so that 38% of our corporations that aren't paying federal income tax start paying them to help ease the burden on working people, things like that, so i -- i think he's got a very strong populist message. now is he hillary clinton or bill clinton or bob casey in delivering that message? no, not yet, but i think he's getting better, and i think by the time next november rolls
around, remember, it won't be just favorable or unfavorable barack obama. it will be barack obama versus someone, and who does that person -- who is that? >> let's talk about that. >> sure. >> governor, you're very good at this, as good at this as anybody, suppose he runs against romney, a stiff, an elite or runs against an o.o.b., newt, doesn't look like a good guy. >> no, i think you're absolutely guy. >> he doesn't look like he's running -- he's not running against bill clinton next november, lucky for him. >> you're absolutely right. >> what does he do? who is the best opponent in pennsylvania for him to run against? can you call that one. >> well, michele bachmann, but you're not talking about michele. >> come on. >> she's my choice. >> okay. we don't want to take a chance on the other two. >> i'd rather run against newt than mitt romney because mitt
romney does exude an air of competence, run things well, like the olympics, et cetera, and that's the issue, and he's got a business background. if mitt romney can sell the american people his initial message, barack obama is a nice guy, he has the right ideas, he just can't make it work, that's -- that's mitt romney's best pitch, and that -- >> okay, let's go with that. let's go with that. just one second here. if you were president, is there any way you could sell the idea of putting people to work like roosevelt did? these times are stuck at 9%. >> sure. >> you and i know we're in the getting to 8 next november or next five years. we're stuck up around 10%. it may bubble up again. don't we need aggressive, what you might call radical action, to put the working guy and woman to work? >> there's no question, and, chris, i think we do it without make work. we do it by repairing the american infrastructure, going in a five or ten-year program, taking returning vets, taking unemployed people, training them
to be laborerers, et cetera, getting people back to work, a massive infrastructure repair program which the country needs anyway for its competitiveness. i agree. >> for its safety. that's the way to do it. >> i'm so with you. thank you, senator. thank you, governor rendell for coming up. up again, barney frank is end is his career in congress. we'll have an exit interview with him. we'll ask him what he wants to get off his chest. i want to hear him say something. not running for re-election. no worries about the voters now. we want to hear from barney frank from his heart. this is "hardball," coming up on msnbc. you know organization is key... and so is having a trusted assistant. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above and still pay the mid-size price. here we are... [ male announcer ] and there you go, business pro. there you go. go national. go like a pro. aflac... and major medical? major medical, boyyyy! [ beatboxing ]
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♪ ...i flew us to the rock i really had in mind. ♪ [ male announcer ] the citi thank you card. earn points you can use for travel on any airline, with no blackout dates. after serving 32 years in congress, barney frank said that he won't seek re-election next november. he's been one of the most articulate spokesmen on capitol hill for the liberal and progressive causes over the years. he's a great liberal, one of the great liberal lions, i would say, and joins us from what we might say is his "hardball" interview. i've liked you forever. a great guy. more important to history than newt gingrich or someone like that will ever be. here's my chance. i want to know if you've got something you want to get off
your chest about politics, about serving in congress, the stuff that the average good person out there needs to hear. >> well, i guess i -- i really have tried to say these things all along, but i would make this point. criticisms of the congress are often legitimate but incomplete because they act as if there was some autonomous entity here called the congress into which people somehow parachuted and -- and were inflicting these terrible pains on the rest of the country. the fact is, as your former boss, my great idol, tip o'neill used to say, nobody serves in the house of representatives who didn't win an election. there's no appointment. there's no way you get to the house of representatives unless you won an election. everybody is there because he or she got more votes than anybody else in the last election. in other words, as the public is critical of congress, they got to include some self-criticism because they are the reason we are here. you know, if you moved into a hotel and -- and the guy banged up your car when he parked it and the bellhop lost your
luggage and the clerk couldn't find your reservation, and the laundry wasn't done when you got to the room, you wouldn't say, my, what a strange collection of incompetent people. you'd say, who is running this place? who hired these people? well, in the congress the who who hired these people is the electorate. let me extend that to some people that i agree with on some of the substance, the occupy people. i am sure that there are people that didn't vote in the last congressional elections, and i am not happy when people who didn't vote blame me for the consequences of people winning elections because they didn't vote. >> when people go to vote, are they trying to get a good deal? are they trying to get some government benefits they don't really want to pay for in taxes, some national defense they don't want to pay for? are they trying to do what we all do when we strike a bargain, trying to get something out of it that may not deserve? is that what happens, that we keep getting a congress that won't balance the budget, for example? >> it's a mix.
it doesn't make any sense to balance the public wants to consume more in services than it is prepared to support in revenue. part of that is that they are misled by people who say, oh, there's so much waste and fraud, we can just cut that out. the fact is, of course, there's waste and fraud and any complex human activity. but you know, we use the wrong metaphor. people say we're going to cut out the fat as if the fat was layered on the side. yeah, that's fat, but it's marbled. there's inefficiency in any human activity and it's hard to get rid of it. but you also -- you have a mix. you have some people who don't like government. what's most frustrating to me today is here's a problem. i heard somebody saying it the other day that the democrats are correctly seen as the party of government in that unlike our republican colleagues, we do believe that the private sector is the engine of wealth creation but also that there are some things that are important for the quality of our lives that we can only do if we pool our
resources and make some rules and that's what the government is for. you can be the richest person in the world but you can't put out a fire, can't pave a highway, can't fix a bridge all by yourself. you need to come together with your fellow citizens to do it. what happens, though, when there are things going wrong, and this is the most frustrating thing, even when problems are the result of republican policies, democrats get blamed for the consequences. it was the policies of nonregulation, a little bit of the clinton administration, but mostly the bush administration, this violent opposition to any regulation, the appointment of people who believe in regulation. that's what brought us the financial crisis. the democrats inheriting it get blamed for it. we need to do a better job of explaining to people -- i'll give an example. i've had people say, why did you not fix fannie mae and freddie mac through all the years? from 1995 to 2006, the republicans controlled the congress. newt gingrich was first the
speaker then the highly paid s historian for prfreddie mac. in 2007, interestingly, when we became the chairs, chris dodd and i an the democrats took over, that's the first time freddie mac and fannie mae were controlled. people believe, you're the democrats, there were errors in government, it must have been your fault, when, in fact, they were done under republican control. >> let me ask you about good and evil. do you believe in it? do you believe that -- >> sure. >> -- we're all a mixed bag or to you believe there are people like newt gingrich that personify one side of this manichean struggle in our life? >> i really dislike gingrich and disapprove of him. he's been a terrible influence. i wouldn't call him evil. i would -- i talk about evil -- hitler was evil, saddam hussein was evil. stollen and many of his succe successors.
mugabi. i would do evil on people who do serious, physical harm to their other human beings. beyond that, yes, we all are a mix of good and bad. in gingrich's case, there's an unusually heavy preponderance, i think, of the bad qualities. it's interesting. he and romney, i mean, if this is the republican nomination battle now, it does not speak well for being a man of principle. between the two of them, they have changed positions more often than a lot of people change shirts. and they will each accuse the other of doing that. the difference is this. going which throughout his career, particularly when he was here, added to that a willingness to savage other people. he left thattered reputations behind and got tip o'neill furious because he used to stand, as you know, in the well of the house at the time when the tv cameras only showed the speaker and didn't show there was nobody there and he would say to empty seats, i say you democrats are traitors and if you don't agree with me, stand up and say so. have the courage to say so.
he was saying that to empty chairs. that made tipp change the whole way the cameras were there. other instances where he was willing to attack individuals in a way that, yeah, that makes him pretty bad. >> okay. barney frank, i hope you stick around in public life. it's good to hear from you. >> you said my exit interview, chris. does that mean i can't come back anywhere in. >> no, just your official exit interview. >> thank you. >> mr. frank, i've been with you at human rights campaign events. you're an inspiring leader. it's great to have you on the show any time. i mean it. i like you. i don't mind admitting it. you like to be grumbly and angry with people, but i admit i like some people. i'm all for you. i don't want to embarrass you, but thank you very much. you're great. when we return, let me finish with a story of courage and leadership i'll be telling tonight at the john f. kennedy library up here in boston. what an honor it's going to be to be up there. ze in there? oh, there's a prize, all right.
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let me finish tonight with this. i'm up in boston and tonight i have the honor to address the john f. kennedy library about the life of the 35th president. it is, of course, a story of courage in the south pacific. of a young man who came home with a goal of preventing another world war, one he knew would be far more horrible. it's how he taught himself the unforgiving profession of politics. how to inspire people, but also how to move other politicians
through charm and sometimes tough leadership. but the most powerful story is the harrowing set of events that were the cuban missile crisis where a young president led his country in avert a nuclear war. it's a tale of true grace under pressure. i've enjoyed traveling the country telling this story getting people to pick it up and read it. i want to remind people who lived through the days that they were real, the heroism they saw was genuine and help them tell their children what they missed and what young people need to demand of their leaders today. christmas is coming, a time to recharge his country spiritual. i believe the story of jack kennedy is just the right one for this winner of our country's discontent. it's time to know especially and good to know now we once had a hero for a president, a liberal democratic president who led us bravely and successfully. he taught us courage, saved us from horror, backed civil rights, sent people around the world like me in t