Hardball | March 06, 2013
>>> beating around the bush. let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. bush. how long have we heard that name in republican politics? bush. grand pop was senator from connecticut. father ran for the senate seat in texas. lost and got elected to the congress in houston. then went on to be ambassador of the u.n. got stuck durnd watergate. became ambassador to china and director of the cia . george herbert walker bush waited longer than his long name. then got to run as vice president with ronald reagan . ran again with reagan and won for president at '88 and ran in '92 and lost. then came his sons young george and jeb bush . they ran in 1994 . george won in texas. jeb lost in florida . two years after that george won the presidency. jeb after helping him win down in florida , won a second term in florida in 2002 . then took a breather. and now he's back. can he -- the so-called smart one in the family -- get the top job? can republicans go to the trough one more time and drink another bush? six of the last nine presidential elections we've heard that name on the ticket. bush. does it grab you? does it scare hillary ? would it reunite the republican party ? does it scare hillary or should it? i'm joined by david korn and john feehery. bush is running around. called laura back. now he's out there pushing a right of center -- far right of center immigration proposal which he's notched back from. but he's running for it. what's happening?
>> he's putting himself out there. for the past few months after the republicans lost, people kept saying bush is the answer. bush can help us. bush can lead us out of the wilderness with latino voters. that's who they kept looking to.
>> what was the timeline on this? when was bush high?
>> well, i think starting with the election.
>> then got blown away .
>> blown away . the thing is, here he comes out. i think he's completely botched what he was supposed to be good at.
>> made a bad move. people have all made bad moves in the beginning. but i want to know about positioning. is he positioned somewhere between now if he sticks with this tougher position on immigration, is he positioned to the right of rubio and christie and to the left of the crazies out there like santorum? is he in the right place?
>> i think he's in the right place, but it's really a narrow niche. i think the republicans are going to have a civil war about immigration between the rubios who want a path to citizenship and the tez cruzs and others who don't want to.
>> by the way, let's talk about the combination of republicans and democrats. i think in the combination they're going to get something. your thoughts about your party and used to work to the top of the republican world. we were at the thing for bob michael last night. nice event, the former republican leader. we'd love to do this here. position people. is bush staking it out like his dad did when he moved to being pro-life and they all make these adjustments? is he in a position where he can jump ahead of rubio, christie . at the same time grab enough of the right to grab the party ?
>> listen. david said something important. jeb bush is an adult. and what the party needs is an adult. i don't think he was hot at the election. he was hot before that. there were a lot of people that wanted jeb bush to run in the last election because we didn't have an adult. and a lot of conservatives did not feel mitt romney could handle it.
>> it's my favorite word. i say growed up. i do it about diane feinstein and others. what you mean by grown up?
>> someone that has the gravitas to say to the wings we're going to govern. the republican party needs to prove it can govern. when it can prove that, i think jeb bush is someone who can govern. he did a nice job as governor of florida . he's put conservative ideas into action. i think that's why a lot of republicans -- now, let's be clear. the revolutionary wing of the party does not like bush. the royalist wing of the party does like bush. for bush, he's got to beat the revolutionary wing.
>> one indication of a possible run -- i think it's more than possible. i think it's probable. might be a right wing shift on immigration by the former governor. in june last year he told charlie rose he supported a path to citizenship which is the key issue of this. will you or will you not let people who came here illegally become legal citizens? let's watch his response then.
>> you have to deal with this issue. you can't ignore it. so either a path to citizenship which i would support, and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives. or a path to legalization. a path to residency of some kind.
>> well, listen to that. does he mean full citizenship or something that allows you to stay in the country but not being a voting member of the country? in his book he had a different take. quote, it is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences. in this case that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. to do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefit of american citizenship . let's see what he told chuck todd . let's listen to it.
>> remember this is a proposal we attempted to put out prior to the election to create a consensus for conservatives to get in the game. because in november, prior to the election, we weren't even in the game.
>> so you think it's possible that the path to citizenship may be included in the eventual bill and are you going to be okay with that?
>> look. i think we need comprehensive reform. if there is a path to citizenship that has enough of a realization that we have to respect the rule of law --
>> so you pay real fines --
>> and a longer period of time.
>> you know, my problem with the bushes that i think in many ways as family people and citizens they're fine. but they charm you. they've always charmed us. george sr. is very likable. w. when he was running everybody thought he was okay. i thought he was okay. i didn't know he was going to be this arch duke of cheney. i didn't know he was going to play that part. now this guy comes along. it's one thing to play ball and footsie with the right wing. is bush going to end up a neocon or a realist on foreign policy ? a guy like jim baker . which would be your bet?
>> my bet is he would go with the -- not the cheney crowd, the other crowd. i think he would be a realist.
>> so we won't have another war every time a bush gets elected?
>> i don't think we'd invade iran right away. we're two for two so far. i think he looked very romneyesque in his explanation.
>> both bushes had had two a piece.
>> i think he looked romneyesque in his explanation of policy. but look at this. if the primary in florida was next year, could he beat marco rubio ? i think given this --
>> that's not how we run for president?
>> you got to get the primary. but i don't think he could beat rubio in his own state.
>> what does that prove?
>> it proves i don't think he has the claim. i know people like you who want an adult leader for your party love him. i don't see how he plays with the base of the republican party .
>> go with that point. he seems too moderate for your far out wing.
>> i don't think he would run against marco rubio . they're friends. i don't think that's going to be a problem. i do think he has a problem with the wing of the party that is still against the war in iraq . and he's got to figure out a way -- because there is a wing. there is a libertarian wing that did not like iraq. he's got to answer those questions about the iraq war .
>> but also to foreign policy , i think the yahoo wing of the party , the people who cheer rd when they talked about self-deportation.
>> can we do something nonideological. you're left, he's right. when a party gets beaten in an election they thought it was going to win because they had a good shot last november. we all agree on that. nobody knew except nate silver and a few others. does it go off to his natural poll like left or right? or does it naturally go wait we lost a close one. what do people do in their parties? go to the wings or to the center?
>> after reagan lost in '76 to ford and ford lost to carter, then the party went back to reagan and he won. so i think it can go both ways. i think it really depends again on the people who select the nominees which are the grassroots of the party . and i think right now you've seen them move to the right.
>> i don't know who's running to his right to convene him.
>> to whose right?
>> jeb bush . name one serious candidate to run to his right.
>> that's the point. who's the serious canned?
>> santorum is not getting elected to anything ever again as long as he lives. certainly not in pennsylvania. newt gingrich is not going to get elected ever again. they don't count. bush may count. if hillary doesn't run, i think he's a player.
>> there are three top candidates i think. bob mcdonnell of virginia, chris christie of new jersey, and bidjeb bush. i think they're all governors and fine choices.
>> put your hillary head on for a minute. we do focus on this show more than anything else.
>> we know this.
>> this is your wheel house . in hillary clinton 's head and she's been through one loss and a couple wins with her husband. she did well in new york politics. we'll talk about it later in the show. had a great run as secretary of state. what's she thinking about? is she afraid of the unknown or the known established candidate like bush or is she less afraid of him than a guy like christie who might grab the reagan democrats ?
>> my bet is right now she is not worrying about who is going to be the republican nominee. she still has to get into her own head whether or not she's going to run. a good friend of hers told me just a couple weeks ago she'd like to be president but she doesn't want to run to be president because it's really going through hell.
>> one of the things you want to think about whether you run against this guy or that guy.
>> i think there is so much for the republican party to work out. they have so many issues.
>> the one candidate she'd be most afraid of i think would be a chris christie . he would go after the middle class , the blue collar guys, and also do well in the northeast.
>> i'll tell you one thing. in that election, i'm just guessing here. there'll be a lot of men and husbands and wives going into the voting booth thinking they're voting for the same person and i have the sense the guy may vote for christie and gals will vote for hillary . but you don't know. if he comes off as a serious moderate republican for the big eastern guy, i don't know.
>> christie 's the personality where if he stays disciplined he'll do good. there's a possibility he can't. we were talking about boxers before we come on. the last time bush ran was 2002 . that's an age in politics.
>> hillary clinton has not been in the game for awhile too. it'll be interesting to see if she's go i think to run.
>> i like one thing about jeb bush . he's really serious about education. i think that's the key issue. the long-term assimilation of people coming to this country developing american civics, american culture . assimilation is going to be our biggest challenge in the next 20 years. i think everybody who loves america wants it to happen. anyway, thank you. and bush believes in that. he's got a family that's assimilating. i hope i didn't offend anybody. but i believe in the united culture ultimately. we got to have this land is our key to what we love. thank you both. david corn . and thank you john feehery.
>>> coming up, geds who's coming to dinner? i've been saying for months for president obama to stop being aloof. tonight they're going to have a bunch of -- not mcconnell ar boehner. the president's trying to get behind enemy lines having dinner with 12 republican senators who may be open to making deals and getting past this gridlock. it's like the first supper. not the last supper.
>>> anyway, also remember when the word patriot meant something good? now so-called patriots tend to be racist who want to overthrow the government. and a new study says the hate groups have reached an all-time high. by the way, we're going to look at what obama's presidency has done to create this right wing hatred towards the government.
>>> and cutting indiscriminately was fine for republicans. but no money for white house tours ? cut the whole bunch but not white house tours . the faux outrage is coming up in the sideshow.
>>> let me finish tonight with the hatred of obama. if it's not ethnic and racial, what is it? this is