Hardball | January 28, 2013
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this, barack and hillary , good-bye or hello? was last night's dual appearance on 60 minutes a fond good-bye or a statement? was it the president's way of saying i know which way the wind is blowing? was it barack obama saying i want a democrat to replace me? hillary clinton is the best bet to do it, i'm ready for this to happen? it's powerful stuff any way you listen to it. i think secretary clinton will run for president. i don't see how she can walk away from it. she's the one woman right now in the picture who could win the president next time. not only that, i think she's the favorite of either gender and either party to win the presidency why 2016 . how does she tell the women of this country, all her backers across the country, that she doesn't want to run? this is the big story in politics right now. it will be until she announces she's running. it's the story of suspension only because it's about when she signals her move, not whether. eugene mccarthy once told me it's easier to run for president than to stop. once someone gets out there, puts their very being on the platform for the presidency, it doesn't go away. it stays with you. and secretary hillary clinton 's case, she carry was her not just her first name, but her husband's. he clearly wants her to run, and that means he will lobby her like mad. i don't know of a more persuasive person in the kun and i can only assume he holds special influence with his wife. anyway, i think the real decision will be made by hillary rodham clinton herself. i believe she made that decision back at wellesley when she was a super student leader before she met william jefferson clinton and that decision i believe holds. get ready for a real doozy next time around. it's all right starting. exciting politics in in krung century has only begun. i'm joined by "the huffington post 's" howard fineman and on her way to greatness, joy reid.
>> she's there.
>> aren't you the smart gentleman.
>> appreciate it.
>> let's watch this right now. looks like the president boosted this interview. they wanted it. 60 minutes prefaced their key question by saying it was his understanding that the joint interview wassed president's idea. he asked the question on everyone's mind, why. let's listen to steve and then the president.
>> well, the main thing is i just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you because i think hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had. i want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she's played during the course of my administration and a lot of the successes we've had internationally have been because of her hard work.
>> there's no political tea leaves to be read here?
>> we don't have any tea. we've got some water here, the best i can tell.
>> joy, that was a fairly lame response. we don't have any tea here by the sgecretary of state. this is the biggest set of jobs, first lady, united states of new york, secretary of state, the great he is appointed position on the planet. she's given it up, as he said last night, very importantly i thought, i would like you to stay. it was her decision to walk after four years. he could have stayed for eight or at least a lot more than she stayed. what does it mean to you -- i don't think that was a gold watch ceremony last night. i think it was a portent, a statement.
>> i agree. i think it was an attempt by the president to bestow a little favor on hillary clinton . look, joe biden , the vice president, who a lot of people also believe really wants to run, i believe he wants to run, and i think he's been sending a lot of signals out there that he's very much interested in getting excited. he's gotten a lot ever big assignments and gotten a lot of favor from the president of the united states . i think this was an attempt to even the flaying field. the job she ended up taking was a lot higher profile in the end than vice president which a lot of hillary land really wanted him to make her his running mate and he didn't. he gave her a higher profile position and now he's given her a huge boost toward 2016 .
>> well, my question to you, since you raised it, i always like to request the question you raise, joy, will joe biden quit if she runs? will he pull out of the race if he's in the race for a year or two, will he pull out if she says i'm going?
>> i think the game between biden and hillary has been this. i don't think they would primary each other but i think each of them has been try og to put faths on the ground --
>> but will he pull out if she comes in?
>> i think if she makes a strong manufacture to run, i think biden would back down because i think the president is going to have to have a conversation with one of these two and say i got to back one of you, i can't back you both and i'm not going to be neutral. the president really wants his legacy to be another democratic president.
>> you answered my question well. howard , can you answer it? if you don't know, you don't know. we lived through mccarthy/kennedy, bobby kennedy , gene mccarthy . that was terrible for the democratic party . two great candidates forced to run against each other because bobby got in late.
>> first of all, i think part of this was about the next four years of president obama . it's not just about --
>> how does he need hillary ? because he didn't put women in top positions?
>> hillary is a major figure in the democratic party , was a major figure before he ever came on the scene. her husband, bill clinton , is still a major figure in the party even though that galls barack obama , and it wouldn't do to have this other royal family in the democratic tent out there undermining obama 's candidacy or -- excuse me, obama 's presidency in any way. this was a goodwill gesture on the way out of the door.
>> to keep her on base.
>> could tep her close, absolutely. keep your enemies close and your friends closer.
>> let me ask you back the question i put to joy and she asked and answered. will joe biden bow out if it's clear hillary is running?
>> i think so. and i think so because hillary has a much deeper, broader base in the party. i know joe biden well, i have covered him for a long time. he's nothing if not a political realist. if he assesses the situation a couple years down the road and sees that the clinton machine is still out there, and by the way, hillary took the twol clinton man to the state department . that was hillary land over there, not obama land.
>> i understand that completely.
>> if that's still going on, i think joe biden will look at it and say i'm not sure i have the organization to do it, and also he might not want to call the president out on it and take the gamble with the president because i'm not sure he would necessarily get the answer that he'd want to hear.
>> steve kroft tried to get at the political meaning of the interview. this is rare. usually in our business if you know joy and howard , if you get an interview of this incredible quality, the president and secretary of state, the two most important people with bill clinton in the democratic party , you don't ask why you got it. but here he is apparently again trying to figure out why the two showed up together. here he is, steve kroft .
>> i have to ask you, what's the date of expiration on this endorsement?
>> oh, steve , i know --
>> i have to ask that question. come on. you're sitting here together. everybody in town is talking about it already. and this is taking place.
>> you know, steve , i got to tell you, you guys in the press are incorrigible and it was literally inaugurated four days ago.
>> and you're talking about elections four years from now.
>> yeah, and i am, as you know, steve , i am still secretary of state so i am out of politics an i'm forbidden from even hearing these questions.
>> as steve martin would tay mussily say, excuse me. they asked to come on " 60 minutes ." they like the press coverage they got today and last night. they love the fact we're talking about it. it seems to me for him to mock the very message when they are the message is a little weird on the part of the president.
>> please, steve . did you see the body language on hillary . that's a woman who knows the presidency is basically hers for the taking if she wants it. who could stop her? she knows it. she's as relaxed as i have ever seen her. the best thing to do is step back, get out of this job, and spend the next three years preparing herself to run for president if she wants it.
>> was this a move -- so many things in politics follow other things that wouldn't have happened if they didn't have that thing before them. do you think this was to give her a really nice sendoff after the rather unpleasant experience with ron johnson and rand paul and those hearings this week?
>> there are a couple things. first of all, it is true that hillary 's last sort of public performance in an official capacity was defending herself on the hill well, but under attack.
>> on benghazi .
>> on benghazi . that's number one. i think the president and hillary have a mutual interest in having benghazi go away. and go away with a nice ribbon tied around it. that's number one. another thing was something you mentioned to me earlier, which is that the president has gotten a lot of criticism lately for not having picked a lot of new nominees who aren't white males.
>> and to the remind people that one of the most important picks in his first term was a woman and not just any woman, but hillary rodham clinton , i think was a big deal . he was kind of reminding everybody, especially reminding women, especially hillary supporters, reminding activists, reminding feminists, look who is sitting next to me. i made this person secretary of state. has the additional benefit of editing bill clinton completely out of the picture.
>> let me --
>> that's the real tension here. the real tension is bill clinton and barack obama . it's like the big chill turned into the deep freeze .
>> okay. hold that thought because your idea of putting clinton aside which is unimaginable.
>> at least for a few minutes.
>> he was on tv when george w. bill was speaking at andrews on a separate screen. let me ask you because i thought of this and howard did give me credit for it in the green room .
>> where all the important work is done.
>> he put the secretary of state on television with him as an equal, a peer. they talked about each other being partners almost. was it ameliorated, softened, the lack of any woman of the top positions the president has named for the second term and it did shut everybody up in a very nice way. it's smart, cosmetic politics i thought. your thoughts, joy.
>> definitely. it puts her in the buddy act. you have seen a lot of him and joe biden together. him and his new chief of act. there's a buddy act he's got going on with all these guys. one of the things --
>> boy/girl buddy act. that's new.
>> if you think about it, one of the pairings you haven't seen a lot of over the past four years is barack obama and hillary clinton next to each other, together. i think it's important not just for the cosmetics because of the cabinet picks but because you have to at some point mesh hillary land and obama world. they're two very different camps.
>> what happens -- does 40 or 50 or whatever number of people working in the state department whose jobs will cease to exist the day she leaves because they're owl appointments by her, what will they all do for a living while she decides whether she's running or not?
>> well, i think a lot of them will become the sort of staff on the ground that's in the hillary clinton campaign in waiting. a lot of them will become policy advisers. i'm sure some will remain and you will see some people that will stay on because it's also a goodwill gesture from kerry land which also doesn't have a huge deep base.
>> i agree with joy. i think john kerry is going to do hillary clinton a favor of keeping those people around.
>> at least for a while.
>> who knows. i don't know.
>> at least for a decent serval.
>> it's a fascinating discussion. we love it because as long as hillary is in the news, the news is exciting. i think hillary clinton is going to run for president and i think joy agrees with me. i think howard probably agrees to me but keeping his powder dry. he's just smiling now. i don't see why anybody walks away from the presidency. then again i don't think we can predict the future.
>> i think it's about obama managing the next few years on his own. he wants to keep her in view and on a friendly basis.
>> keep your enemies in front of you even if it's not an enemy. either it was a great actor performance or something really important. probably a combination. thank you, howard , my friend who shares in the skepticism which makes this a beautiful business. joy reid, you're great. i'm known for saying that, you're great.
>>> op wednesday hillary clinton is andrea mitchell 's guest. 1:00 p.m . eastern on wednesday on this network msnbc. coming up, deal or no deal ? a bipartisan group of senators has reached agreement on an immigration reform bill. wow. it could create a pathway for illegal immigrants to become citizens. it sounds great will republicans vote for it? will it have teeth? will it work when so many past efforts at immigration policy have filed?
>>> also, president obama has said he hoped his re-election would break the republican fever of endless obstructions, but even he admits that it hasn't happened yet. and now we have paul ryan saying the president is ignoring the country's problems in order to focus on the strategy. paul ryan you're the biggest disappointment right, left, or center this country.
>>> sarah palin lost her biggest megaphone when fox news dropped her the other day. her contract is gone. no thanks to keep her on the payroll. a lot of republicans say the gop has to stop being the stupid party. maybe getting rid of that is part of it. who knows. maybe cnn will pick her up.
>>> lef it to our friends on the right to find new conspiracies. first they question whether hillary clinton had a concussion. new they want to know whether he was pushed. sickos. you're watching "hardball," the