Hardball | April 10, 2012
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: begin with Rick Santorum tonight exiting the race. Hogan Gidley served as his campaign communications director. And also with me is the great Howard Fineman of the HuffingtonPost . He's an MSNBC political analyst, who joins us especially on nights of great historic moment like this.
MATTHEWS: Rick Santorum is out. I want to take a look at something - here's the -- here's what he said, your candidate, in leaving the campaign , announcing it late this afternoon. Let's watch.
RICK SANTORUM , FMR . SEN., FMR . PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : Ladies and gentlemen , we -- we made the decision to into this race at our kitchen table against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting. We are going to continue to fight for those voices. We're going to continue to fight for the Americans who stood up and gave us that air under our wings that allowed us to accomplish things that no political expert would have ever expected.
MATTHEWS: Well, that's fair enough. Hogan , thanks for joining us. No one would have expected. There you have to agree with this guy, Rick Santorum . Whatever you think of his politics, his philosophy, his ideology, many believe it's pretty far right, because I think it is -- he did pull a very surprisingly strong campaign . He was the second to last candidate that really mattered. Why'd he quit?
HOGAN GIDLEY, SANTORUM COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I mean, I think there were a number of reasons why he quit. But you know, you had to look at the nuts and bolts of it. And I think that in order to secure the amount of delegates we needed to actually, you know, surpass Romney would be very, very close, I think, at the convention, a few things had to happen. And we had to do well in Pennsylvania , first and foremost.
GIDLEY: We knew that. We had to have Newt jump out and push all those delegates and say, You guys need to go support Rick Santorum . he's the conservative . That wasn't happening any time soon. At least it didn't seem that way.
GIDLEY: And then third was Texas . It had to be winner-to-take-all by a simple majority, and it looked like that was going to happen over the weekend. A big movement was afoot to -- to...
GIDLEY: ... try and make that happen. But then when it...
MATTHEWS: He doesn't like -- he doesn't like Mitt Romney , does he.
GIDLEY: Oh, he's fine. That's not...
MATTHEWS: He doesn't like him. He never mentioned his name today.
GIDLEY: Well, yes, he didn't mention his name. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Why not?
GIDLEY: Well, I don't know.
MATTHEWS: He didn't concede to the guy. He didn't say he won the nomination, he just ignored him.
GIDLEY: Well, he hasn't...
MATTHEWS: By the way, I think he's right to not to like him, personally, from a subjective point of view. I want to -- let's take a look at the ad that Romney had already begun to run. This is fairly personal, maybe effective, but it doesn't win you friends of the guy you're attacking. Here's what it -- here's what -- take a look at it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Pennsylvania , CBS News estimates Republican incumbent Rick Santorum has been defeated by Democrat Bob Casey .
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick Santorum 's 17-point loss, historically embarrassing. Rick Santorum lost his home county by 30 points.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He lost across the board with voters, among Democrats and independents, women and men, blacks and whites, young and old, rich and poor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We fired him as senator. Why promote him to president?
MITT ROMNEY , FMR . GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE : I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message .
MATTHEWS: Well, is that below the belt, to say that Pennsylvania voters fired the guy?
GIDLEY: I mean, I guess that's what happens when you lose an election . But I mean, Romney was no different. I mean, not only did he lose for president a few years ago, but he didn't even run for reelection because the poll numbers were so bad. He quit. So I mean, it's not really a -- that's just politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me try to get to an objective reality here for your universe because you have to be still defending your guy and defending the reality you live in. Howard , I heard Chuck Todd , who we all respect, say today that the reason his Congress , Rick Santorum , never mentioned the name of the guy who beat him and was flogging him with this kind of TV ad out here -- didn't mention his name today is because of that kind of TV ad . It was personal. It hit him below the belt. It said he was a loser.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think, obviously, there's no love lost between the two. Is it worse than what normally happens in a tough primary season? Maybe marginally so.
MATTHEWS: Why'd he go for the knockout? Why was Romney not willing to simply take the guy out slowly and gradually?
FINEMAN: No, no.
MATTHEWS: He was almost out of the race. Why'd he punch him on the way out the door?
FINEMAN: Well, it's because Mitt Romney needs anything that looks like convincing finality whenever he could get it. And if that meant dumping 10-to-1 negative ads on Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania , he was perfectly...
FINEMAN: ... willing, if not eager to do it, grind him to dust in Pennsylvania , and he would have done it.
MATTHEWS: You know that old game of roller derby, where you really win by knocking everybody else off the track?
GIDLEY: Sure. Sure.
MATTHEWS: is that what Romney did?
GIDLEY: I don't know. I mean-...
MATTHEWS: Did he win positively or negatively?
GIDLEY: That's a good question.
MATTHEWS: Well, answer it.
GIDLEY: I don't know that he was necessarily...
GIDLEY: He didn't run one positive ad the entire cycle. I mean, everybody knows that. But that...
MATTHEWS: So was Rick , who's your guy -- was he both the steward of those who believed in him and those who didn't believe in Romney ? Was he both?
GIDLEY: I think he was a little bit of both. Sure. I mean, you know, they were looking for a conservative voice . They were looking for someone who wasn't Mitt Romney and...
MATTHEWS: Is Romney a conservative ?
GIDLEY: I don't know.
MATTHEWS: I love it when you don't answer the question because you're telling me -- you got a great face.
GIDLEY: I don't know. I mean...
MATTHEWS: So in the end, you're a spokesman for Santorum and you're saying here on this show, in the very hours after your guy leaves the race, that the other guy's not the true blue conservative .
GIDLEY: Well, I mean, he's more conservative than Barack Obama , and I think that's what we're all going to have to...
MATTHEWS: Is that the point?
GIDLEY: Sure, that's the point.
MATTHEWS: Is that going to be the campaign slogan of the Republicans ...
MATTHEWS: That's great stuff. You're great. Go ahead, Howard .
FINEMAN: No, I'm just listening -- I'm listening -- I'm listening to the -- to the trailing off of the Santorum campaign here in the words of Hogan Gidley . And if I'm Mitt Romney , my enthusiasm level is going down by the second.
MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at -- one of Rick Santorum 's advantages was his clear ability to connect with certain voters, mostly regular blue- collar people, conservative and evangelicals especially. Even though he's a Roman Catholic , he really did connect with the very conservative Protestants out there, as well as Catholics . Here he is describing his rise as a candidate in his concession speech just now.
SANTORUM: That's what -- people say, How did this happen? How were we able to come from nowhere? It's because I was smart enough to figure out that if I understood and felt at a very deep level what you were experiencing across America and tried to be a witness to that, to try to be in a sense an interpreter of that, that your voice could be heard and miracles could happen.
MATTHEWS: I want to ask you because you're still his spokesman, right?
GIDLEY: For Santorum ? Sure.
MATTHEWS: And you know, a lot of us -- I always liked him personally, obviously, when though I disagree with him -- a lot of things, but -- I like him personally because of a lot of reasons. One is his spunk. By the way, my wife argues with me about this. A lot of people that cannot separate their politics from their personal attitude towards people. Howard and I can do it. We have to do it. In fact, I like doing it. I like being complicated. Is he going to run in 2016 ? Is that what this is all about, get out before he loses Pennsylvania so he still has the credibility of a guy -- at least didn't lose at home twice?
GIDLEY: Sure. Well, I mean, you know, we -- I'm not going to say we haven't talked about it. Of course. I mean, you look and you say, What are you going to do in the future, and there are a lot of things thrown out there. A lot of people want him to do certain things. A lot of people have said, you know, prepare for 2016 . And...
MATTHEWS: Oh, by the way, there's an implication here.
GIDLEY: What do you mean?
MATTHEWS: If you're preparing for 2016 , you're preparing for Romney to lose.
GIDLEY: No, no.
MATTHEWS: Yes, it is.
MATTHEWS: Because there's no job open if a Republican wins it this time. See what I've got you caught -- it's called HARDBALL . Howard , he just admitted it. This young guy has just admitted the fact that this guy you still speak for is planning to run in 2016 . By the way, I've already written my final commentary tonight about Rick Santorum , how he's going to run in 2016 , and I'm hoping he runs against Hillary because then we won't have to even read the newspapers to know who to vote for. Go ahead, Howard .
FINEMAN: No, I'm just -- I'm just -- I'm just marveling at Hogan having wandered into this den.
GIDLEY: That's right .
FINEMAN: And he's confirmed that he might -- that they've already talked about the possibility of Santorum running in 2016 .
MATTHEWS: Because Romney is going to lose in 2012 .
FINEMAN: Well, for whatever reason.
MATTHEWS: Well, there's no other reason to run. If you get a Republican elected in 2012 , which you now have said is unlikely, your guy has an opening in 2016 .
FINEMAN: And he said that Romney is not -- or you haven't said that he's a conservative .
GIDLEY: He's more conservative than -- than...
MATTHEWS: That doesn't mean anything. That doesn't mean anything.
GIDLEY: ... Barack Obama.
FINEMAN: Well, look, I think in the end, that Rick Santorum will campaign for Mitt Romney . And I think he's going to campaign for him among evangelicals, among others, and say, Look , I didn't get it and I disagree with Mitt Romney on health care -- I think he's going to -- I know Hogan may agree or disagree with -- I think Santorum 's going to have to say that to take some of the wind out of the sails of...
GIDLEY: He's already reached out. You know that, right? I talked with Tamron earlier. I mean, Governor Romney did call Rick and say, Look , I'd like to meet about...
MATTHEWS: Yes, he put out a nice statement.
FINEMAN: But what Santorum is going to do, I think, and Hogan , correct me if I'm wrong, is that he's going to talk about Barack Obama. Rick Santorum 's not going to talk a lot about Mitt Romney .
MATTHEWS: There's not a chance in hell that Santorum 's on the ticket, is there. You guys know that. Just say that now.
GIDLEY: I -- I...
MATTHEWS: Let's get that...
GIDLEY: I don't know that that would be. I mean, I -- you know, I haven't seen their short list. I don't know if...
MATTHEWS: You don't expect that Rick 's on the short list, do you
GIDLEY: I don't know. We'll see.
MATTHEWS: You think he might be?
GIDLEY: He might be. I mean, look...
MATTHEWS: Spokesman for Santorum says still hope for...
GIDLEY: Look -- look...
MATTHEWS: ... second spot?
GIDLEY: Listen, he -- Howard wrote a great piece during that campaign in New Hampshire , when Rick was out there taking it on the chin...
GIDLEY: He said, No one campaigns like this anymore. No -- everybody should have to do this. Somebody needs to be on the ticket that says, Hey, I can go into...
GIDLEY: ... the lion's den and
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you a question. There's parts of the campaign when people -- the middle, even from the center left, were very affected by what looked to be the lunchpail case for -- and I 've been telling people, my liberal friends, you know, there's a lot of populism in the Republican Party , and your guy spoke it.
MATTHEWS: It isn't all 1 percent party. It wouldn't be getting 50 percent in general elections if it was a 1 percent party. So 49 percent -- or 49 of that 50 percent Republicans often get in general elections , like in 2010 , are not 1 percenters. So he didn't -- he was -- why didn't he stay on that line and run on that line and knock Romney's block off? Why didn't he stick on, My grandfather's big hands out of the coffin and I grew up as an ethnic kind of guy from Pennsylvania , a Joe bag of donuts kind of guy, right? Why didn't he stay there? Why'd he get into contraception and all this stupid stuff that we have fought about -- somebody did -- 50 years ago?
GIDLEY: Yes, I think he did. I mean, he focused on -- I mean, you guys took -- oh, come on, Chris . You took...
MATTHEWS: ... read the old tape of him saying, I hope we bring up contraception in this campaign ?
GIDLEY: Yes, that's fine, but I mean, that's one sentence out of a whole 45-minute speech. And most of his speech was blue collar . Look, my dad -- my grandfather was a coal miner. I'm a son of...
MATTHEWS: ... everybody in the world thinks that Rick Santorum is a cultural warrior like Pat Buchanan , in many ways?
GIDLEY: Because he is.
FINEMAN: Looking back on it, I think Hogan would probably agree with me Michigan was the key. And I think he got off track a little bit, Santorum did, in Michigan . If he had stuck with the theme that you're talking about and driven it relentlessly...
FINEMAN: ... a populist...
MATTHEWS: Regular people .
FINEMAN: ... relentlessly and focused on the economy -- if he could have won Michigan , we wouldn't be sitting here right now. Be an entirely different race. We'd be counting delegates
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, congratulations. You did a good job, Hogan . And I think you did a pretty good job tonight of telling us the truth, which is Romney's no conservative . Your guys running in 2016 because he expects Romney to lose in November and...
MATTHEWS: We'll be back on it at 7:00 o'clock tonight with another edition of the show that might have your words in it. So I'd watch television tonight...
GIDLEY: I will. I will.
MATTHEWS: ... because your candidate's going to be watching. Anyway, thank you, Hogan . Hey, it's so much fun, Howard , because we're both predicting the same thing. This guy's coming back in 2016 . Of course, Newt Gingrich is probably coming back, too. Anyway, coming up, President Obama 's pushing the issue of fairness again. Fairness is a great Democratic argument always. He's arguing that the wealthy should pay their fair share and are not doing it. But is raising taxes even on the very wealthy a political winner? We'll find out when we come back, a big fight coming back on fairness versus, whoa, way- out capitalism. And this is HARDBALL .
MATTHEWS: Well, if you think Mitt