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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  September 9, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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>> we will find out if anthony weiner sticks around. >> like that's going to happen. thank you. good night lawrence. >> chris hayes is up next. trouble. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. this is a strange time for america. we have a significant number of citizens who hate the elected president of this country. hate, it's not too serious a word for those who say he purposely let americans die in libya, who purposely gave guns to the drug runners, who many of them believe is an illegal president who failed to meet the minimal test of natural born citizenship.
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add to this faction those who generally but not always come from the other side politically. those who have had it with mid--east wars. who wants the endless conflict in that region between sunni and shiite and say the only idea we will get involved again in how much more of the people over there will hate us once the smoke clears. it is as i say, a strange horrible situation where there is nothing positive that the american people wish to do. only an overwhelming desire not to do worse. no wonder 2/3 of the u.s. congress right now are hiding under their desks waiting for something to happen, something to be said or done or not done so they don't have to make the decision that now stands before them. to vote for a president they don't trust or an act of war they have long since realized does not lead even arguably to any kind of peace. we are in a fork in the road. the american people quite simply wish we are not on in the first place.
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david corn and howard fineman. first david, do you agree with me? let's start with the bottom 2/3. they hate siding with the yahoos that hate the president. they don't want to be with them. they don't want to be with the hawks. they're not happy. >> a lot of those people with people who want to support the president, they don't want to seem diminished at home and abroad by losing a vote, and yet they look at folks back home, they check their own gut and they don't want to do this again. the president has this really complicated job here. he says this is an important thing we must do immediately. but it has to be limited and narrow and tailored. there's a big reason to do it as john kerry said, it's a small action. >> he says it's about the holocaust. then shoot my pop gun. it doesn't seem -- >> it's nuanced -- >> by the way, if you had a vote, how would you vote? yea or nay? >> i wouldn't vote until i saw the intelligence they know what they're doing.
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how many -- >> so you're like everybody else. i agree with you. >> i want more information before i vote yes. >> okay. howard, i got two of the three here. the 2/3 have spoken on this panel. nobody wants to vote now. i think it's a terrible situation. you got to go with the haters or the hawks? >> well, i try to see it through the eyes of the senators that i've spoken to. >> okay, good. >> who have had private briefings. vice president joe biden has taken people down to the situation room, literately in the situation room, done everything but turned down the lights to dr. strangelove level. >> no fighting in the war room. >> and given them the hard sell. >> yeah. >> and the senators, the democratic senators that i've spoken to are very, very skeptical and wary. they're not buying it. they are just -- >> they vote to vote on wednesday. >> they're just not buying it because of the unknowable,
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unintended consequences of an act of war. which general dempsey says this is. and the problem that these democrats have whether they're up for re-election or not is that overwhelmingly their own constituents both democrats and republicans and independents are highly skeptical of this. >> okay. let's follow that out. i think it's well said. you've got reporting to go by. it seems everyone is talking about day four. my answer to this is we know what day one is. when we attack, thunder and lightning. it'll be on television. we'll watch the bombs go off. then day two is the hospital scene we know for sure. one thing assad will do is make sure every one of the victims will be in the hospital scenes. every worldwide camera in the world will be in there and we'll watch that for two or three days. then the interesting part. what's hezbollah in term of the israeli presence, do they turn with the rockets? does something happen in iran? does something happen in the shiite community that we're not ready for? >> what happens with the al
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qaeda linked opposition? are they able to exploit this to their own advantage? there are so many possible unintended consequences. now, maybe the president has some decent intelligence, but if he's not convincing democratic senators, it's really a hard sell to make. >> the other thing, chris, is this is -- i can't say anything but this looks like military diplomatic amateur hour -- >> let's go to that. >> on this administration. >> the latest with this whole russian thing where the secretary of state john kerry said well, maybe if the russians or somebody decides to pull the weapons out and maybe we'll change our policy. then he put out today at 4:20, that was all rhetoric. we have to have the vote on the senate. nothing's changed. >> i'm tempted to say he's saying this is a rhetorical statement. my question is what isn't a rhetorical statement? the way it comes off to too many people is the administration is speaking at its potential
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supporters and not really honestly to its potential supporters. in this case you have a situation where the secretary of state is basically until he recanted this thing -- >> late today. why is he messing around with this thing? >> you know why? >> let me just finish this one point. he's undercutting -- he undercut for a day. the urgency of the vote that the president wants. >> and any of those about this -- >> the reason why is because it's not a clear cut issue. any time you go to war -- this is what bush did. he made it black or white. we invade or it's -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> hillary clinton said something very strong today. and it very much is to what her position was for the iraq war. basically was whatever we do, it's got to be underwritten by the willingness to use strength and force. in other words, we need this vote in the senate. here it is. >> it is very important to note
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that this discussion that has taken hold today about potential international control over syria's stockpiles only could take place in the context of a credible military threat by the united states to keep pressure on the syrian government as well as those supporting syria like russia. >> powerful statement. >> that was a brilliant way for hillary clinton to in theory support the idea of military strength and military strike without in the whole rest of her statement actually supporting a military strike. >> which was what she did in the iraq war. she gave authority to do it. then it was used. >> in that statement she called for strong international action. she did not in so many words call for action.
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>> you said maybe the russians will make sure that bashar al assad gives up chemical weapons. all that was wiped off the table because kerry says it's rhetorically. and she says we're not going to get that deal unless we get the fire power. >> from the beginning when the president said there was a red line, without i think really realizing what he would do and congress would do if they crossed the red line. this morning samantha power says the president doesn't want to get involved in this. he just wants this little strike. as you know from looking at the resolution in the senate, it also calls for supporting the opposition which they're doing already. so we are involved in a limited way. >> nobody talked about section five in the resolution. >> we are -- i've been spending all day working on that. and the fact is there's a loophole in there big enough to
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drive a whole fleet of humvees through. >> all kinds of weapons. >> all kinds of weapons. it also says we will not introduce american troops on the ground for combat operations. >> but for training, for advice, other things. >> how about grabbing the control of the chemical weapons. have characterized the actions of assad's government as monstrous. but listen to how john kerry has tried to play down the size and scope of any military strike. here he is talking about going after hitler with a fly swatter. here's kerry today. >> very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for syria's civil war. that is exactly what we're talking about doing. unbelievably small, limited kind
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of effort. >> there are four kinds of americans. these are always a bad way to do it, but there's four kinds. there's the hard right that hates this guy, president obama. there's the hard left that hates war. you're talking about getting the supermajority in the middle. center left, center right. now, the problem is the kerry and the president can't decide whether they need the center right more than the center left. they're leaning to the mccain side saying we need this stuff helping rebels. but lean back and say we're only doing one strike. can you get the center left and center right to agree. you're laughing. there's a quadrant -- >> we're hammering kerry here, but the fact is he's been handed a -- >> yes. he's a servant. >> -- an impossible mission. >> how do you get mccain to agree with leahy? then saying it's not there? >> then going on tv saying -- >> henry kissinger could do this. >> this is all in public. >> this is still about winning
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the american public. getting it from 1/3 for maybe -- >> but they're losing. >> they're in the process of doing it because they have to sell it big, but then say we're doing it small. and that just doesn't compute. >> would you like me to repeat what i say? you lose the 20% on the left, you lose the 20% on the right. then you get the possible 60%. and you know in the senate tough get 60. you got to get them all. >> right. >> and they're not getting them. >> it may not be 20/20. it may be 30/30 on the two ends. then what happens to the math? >> this is what kathy does to me at home. i don't need an editor. thank you very much. this is revolt and development. coming up, are there other alternatives to president obama's plan? joe manchin would like to support his president but he wants more time for diplomacy and making assad give up chemical weapons. he joins us next.
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plus the reality of the obama hatred out there. listen for the happy republican buzz words. benghazi, irs, fast and furious. these guys see president obama as a bigger enemy than assad maybe. and this president and this white house have ignored the allies in congress for nearly five years now. now those democrats may be the only ones left who can save him. finally let me finish with this road the american people wish we were not on. the road to syria. this is "hardball," the place for politics. first kid you ready? [ female announcer ] second kid by their second kid, every mom is an expert and more likely to choose luvs than first time moms. after thousands of diaper changes, they know what works. luvs lock away wetness better than huggies for a fraction of the cost live, learn, & get luvs.
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this is the creamy chicken corn chowder. i mean, look at it. so indulgent. did i tell you i am on the... [ both ] chicken pot pie diet! me too! [ male announcer ] so indulgent, you'll never believe they're light. 100-calorie progresso light soups. as part of his push to gain support for a potential military strike on syria, the president sat down with savannah guthrie late today. let's watch part of that exchange. >> your chief of staff called these strikes limited and consequential. which seemed contradictory. today kerry said the strikes would be unbelievably small. what does that mean? are we talking a pinprick?
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a punch in the gut? >> the u.s. does not do pinpricks. our military's the greatest the world has ever known. and when we take even limited strikes, it makes an impact on a country like syria that does not have a tremendous military capability. they have a tremendous military ability relative to civilians and children being gassed. but they don't have a military that matches up with ours in any kind of way.
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for a store near you go to there's no denying what happened on august 21st. around 2:30 in the morning while most of damascus was still asleep, assad's forces loaded warheads filled with deadly chemicals onto rockets and
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launched them into suburbs controlled or contested by opposition forces. they unleashed hellish chaos and terror on a massive scale. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was of course susan rice who's the national security adviser to the president making the case for military action toward syria. after introducing and fighting hard for a compromise bill to expand background checks on gun sales last april, we know here joe manchin is forging an alternative on military action in syria. joined right now by freshman democrat from north dakota heidi heitkamp on that. giving diplomacy one last chance. gives assad 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the threat of all elements of u.s. military power. requires president obama to provide congress a diplomatic plan to end the violence in syria. compels him to build more international support before striking syria.
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both have announced thafr intentions to vote no on the current resolution to authorize the president to use military force. senator joe manchin joins us right now. thank you. let me just go through where you stand. do you deny there's any question or do you believe there's any question about whether saddam hussein used chemical weapons and he ordered the action? >> you mean president assad, chris. >> yeah. >> and first of all, his regime, i don't deny that the evidence they put forth shows that his regime used weapons, chemical weapons on civilians. to take it any further than that, assad is saying today with an interview we saw this morning that he didn't know about it or didn't order it. all we're saying is let diplomacy strike before we have an imminent strike. it's not going to send boots on the ground to make sure we've secured them. we could accidentally hit one of these weapons and cause more collateral damage which would
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enrage communities against us even more. i don't see an imminent threat to the united states of america. i think more diplomacy should be used. >> you know, on wednesday when you have to vote for cloture to decide this measure, how will you vote? >> if it's a procedure vote which we will have first to get on the bill and i've been assured that our resolution, our amendment will be voted upon, i want to move on the bill and have a vital debate on this, have a meaningful debate. i think we should be on the bill to be able to talk about it and have an open process. then after that we'll come cloture on that to close the debate. and i will vote opposing that if we have not got a better alternative than what we have in front of us now. >> so you'll pass on having a final vote if you can't have yours approved. >> that or something more moderate.
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russia put out something similar to what we've been working on and talking to other senators which says listen, this person should, this country syria should be part of the chemical weapons convention nap way we will be able to not only secure the weapons, destroy the. s and prevent more being me. >> secretary kerry said his comment along those lines were rhetorical. and he says he doesn't take seriously the russian proposal in this regard. he doesn't take this serious at all. and you do. >> let me just say this. i'm not involved directly with the diplomatic talks that have been going on. but if someone comes out in an international situation -- game player as this and says that we believe this should be done and we're going to make sure that we do everything we can to bring syria in, syria says they haven't used them. what would make you believe that syria would use it now with the whole world on them knowing the
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international community could turn against them? what would russia have to gain? i don't know. doesn't make sense to me what they would have to gain. but they have more to lose if their don't fulfill their commitment. >> but the president drew a red line and there are beliefs that this isn't the first time in august wasn't the first time bashar al assad using chemical weapons. first, two problems. colin powell calls him a pathological liar. he doesn't trust him. on charlie rose the other night, he basically says i don't know anything about use of chemical weapons. he denies the whole thing. he says it never happened. how can you make a deal with a guy who's a liar? >> we're not trying to make a deal with him. we're just saying sign up. >> what would that mean? >> basically it means that you have to join in the chemical weapons commission and that organization is going to have basically oversight. if they're a part of it and we're a part of it and we see
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they haven't lived by it, then we can bring the international community along with us. we have nobody now, chris. nobody. >> let's do the math in your proposal. taking it seriously now. 19 days as of now since the bashar assad regime used chemical weapons. it'll take another couple weeks to pass both houses if you prevail. that's another two weeks. then another 45 days on top of that. you're talking the united states going to war 77 weeks after the event occurred. i mean, that's an incredible delay. i've never heard of a country saying i'm going to war with you 77 weeks from now. >> first of all, i don't believe we should go to war at any time over there. if money or military might was going to change that part of the world, we'd have done it by now. $1.6 trillion, 12 years of war, we haven't changed it. but with that being said, even the administration have told us in all the secured briefings we've had is it isn't a time element. if it's not strategic or timely
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manner, what makes the difference if you can have diplomatic relationships building and try to get more of the international community joining us. right now as i said before, we're going it alone. during that 45 period of time, chris, also you're going to have a u.n. meeting. they have a meeting scheduled. >> looks like you're voting no this week and looking for an alternative. looks like if you're against the president, i don't know how he gets the votes. >> i'd say it's a hard reach right now for 60. i believe you have 40-some who said they're undecided. i know more are decided just haven't declared where they are. it's going to be hard. chris, this does not elevate itself to imminent danger of the united states of america. and we have seen from the last past 12 years that part of the world we cannot make a difference. unless the arab league and arab nations if they start moving and start doing something, then it would be our support.
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>> they're not doing it. >> chris, a super power does not mean just because you have super might and super military, you better have super diplomacy, super humanitarian aid, an awful lot goes with that. >> we know where you stand. thank you joe manchin of west virginia. up next, the story has attracted 12 times more web traffic than syria. this is not good for the country, by the way. this is "hardball," the place for politics. i'm only in my 60's... i've got a nice long life ahead. big plans. so when i found out
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secretary of state john kerry said that arab countries have offered to pay the entire cost of unseating syria's president if we take the lead militarily. they will pay for the whole thing. we invade syria to get money from saudi arabia that they got from us from putting their oil in our japanese cars so we can pay back china all the money we owe them. do you follow me? you see how that works? >> welcome back to the sideshow. he went on to reveal how decisions were really made at the g-20 summit. >> i always wandered how the leaders decide what action they're going to take. i saw something today that explained it. take a look. here's the president getting ready to go into the room.
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see the big table? you see how they spin that. okay, syria. blame israel. >> wow. next up, are more americans outraged that miley cyrus is twerking than they are about syria? maybe. miley cyrus attracted 12 times for attention than syria following her vma performance citing results from an expansive survey of web traffic to over 100,000 online publishers. while she didn't mention miley cyrus, sandra day o'connor talked about how americans are. said quote, the more i read and the more i listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance. and she pointed out that quote, less than 1/3 of eighth graders can identify the historical purpose of the declaration of
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independence. and it's right there in the name. for her part o'connor has sought to fight for which has games to teach students about american government. finally, rush limbaugh is at it again. this time he's using the racially charged phrase shuck and jive to describe obama's policy. let's take a listen. >> when it comes to syria, have you ever heard obama talk about regime change as an objective? you have not. have you? you have not. and they're reinforcing that today. no. in fact, you know this operation bush had shock and awe? we're looking at shuck and jive here. that's what i'm going to name this. the obama operation in syria, operation shuck and jive. because that's what this is. >> get the message? up next, what do benghazi, irs, and fast and furious have
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one of the problems with all of this focus on syria is it's missing the ball from what we should be focused on which is the grave threat from radical islamist terrorism. just this week is the one-year anniversary of the attack on benghazi. when it happened, the president promised to hunt down the wrongdoers then months later you didn't hear him talk about benghazi. now it's a phony scandal. we ought to be going after terrorists. >> he's got the same hand job as pat buchanan. it's always that. back to "hardball." benghazi, the word's become a rallying cry as you saw there among republicans. a buzzword that epitomizes their distress and hatred for president obama. they don't need much to bring it up. with syria, it's more than enough dry powder for the party to light the fuse. and they're even going so far as to say syria discussions are
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distracting from the more important benghazi witch hunt. it doesn't just stop with benghazi. the debate over the resolution have given some a megaphone to use their buzz words. congressman joe wilson, he was the one lie that accused the president of delaying action on syria. this was his reasoning. >> the president's red line, why was there no call for military response in april? was it delayed to divert attention today from the benghazi, irs, nsa scandals, the failure of obama care enforcement, the sequestration, or the upcoming debt limit vote. >> he's got the list there. later in that hearing jeff duncan picked up where wilson left off. >> the administration has a serious credibility issue with the american people due to unanswered questions surrounding the terrorist attack in benghazi a year ago.
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when you factor in the irs targeting of conservative groups, the ap, fast and furious, and nsa spying programs, bottom line is there's a need for accountable and trust building from the administration. >> got the list there. cynthia tucker is a commentator and professor at the university of georgia. and john brabender is a republican strategist. seems like the two members from south carolina did have the same list of items to bring up. my question is what does this do? is this just, like waving the red cape at a bullfight? you bring this out and wave it and drives the other side crazy? what's it supposed to illicit in the conversation about whether we go to war in syria or not? which is important enough not to change the subject from. when you're talking war and peace, you should stick to that topic for an hour or two. >> come on, chris. the irs must have something to do with this. fast and furious must have something to do with this. if not the republicans will make it up.
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look, they're heartbroken that they have not been able to unearth credible evidence of any real scandal with which they could impeach the president. they were persuaded that they could defeat obama and he wouldn't be re-elected. when that failed, they thought well, at the very least by his second term there will be scandals over which we can impeach him. and these so-called scandals have just withered away. there have been investigations of benghazi and they uncovered evidence of flawed security, weaknesses in security, but nothing that suggest any coverup from the white house. the irs so-called scandal has just completely evaporated. because it's now clear that the irs targeted not just conservative groups but also liberal groups. well, the hard core republicans
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are heartbroken over this, chris. they don't want those so-called scandals to go away. >> you know, it does remind me politically and you can say what you want john brabender -- >> i appreciate that. >> well, i don't know where it's going to go from you. i think for example some people were -- people like one of my brothers, you say ruby ridge, it invokes a certain reaction. you don't talk more about the reaction. you bring up waco, brings up something. all you have to do is bring up these things. there's no more discussion. we know he's wrong about benghazi and irs so you say it. what's it supposed to do? when we're debating about act of war against syria. i don't see its intellectual content. >> well, i think there is a content if they're trying to say this president shows no consistency in how he deals with different events or long-term policy relative to foreign affairs or fighting these type of problems. >> what's irs got to do with it?
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>> when these are used to draw attention or fund raising ploys and so forth. >> also given a chance to bring up their latest effort to delegitimatize the president. it's called impeachment. here's john mccain last thursday acknowledging the impeachment threat to obama. he does it in the squirreliest way. >> no one wants american boots on the ground, nor will there be american boots on the ground, because there would be an impeachment of the president if they did that. >> it's a strange use of that. representative bill flores from texas took it a step further i'd say in the other direction. he told a town hall again last week the house already has the votes to impeach me president. take a listen. >> i look at the president, i think he has violated the constitution, i think he's violated the law, i think he's abused the job.
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but at the end of the day, you have to decide the house decides to impeach and if they had an impeachment vote, they'd probably impeach the president. >> what's that mean? >> i don't know. i find it problematic for this reason. we can't do -- >> whose head count is that? how many votes for impeachment right now? >> none. the truth of the matter is those are the type of things some in our party say that in a sense will keep us from getting some of the votes we need because we look like that's all we want to talk about. and i think that's extremely problematic. >> what's obama's original sin? they hated him from the beginning. what was it? >> being liberal. >> so any liberal president should be impeached? how about believing in the constitution? >> i'm not saying impeach, but the biggest sin is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. take over the government and things -- >> would they erase liberalism if they could? >> of course. would you outlaw conservatives
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if you could? you would vote against everything. >> of course not. in fact, i think a lot of conservative things make sense. >> which make sense? >> i think enforcing the law. that's a good one. >> liberals don't believe in enforcing the law? that's conservative only. >> don't force me into corners here. i think on the issue of immigration, i've always taken a conservative position on immigration. i want enforcement of the law as well as legalization of all the people. i've been tough on that. cynthia, now they boxed me into saying i'm a conservative on some issues and i'm not going to hold candles on capital punishment. you ever see me do that? don't put me in some box. >> i'm not putting you a box. i'm glad. >> health care reform was a conservative idea. just a few years ago. and now they're completely against that. it was a heritage foundation idea. to require people to get their own health insurance. that was a republican idea. but the moment obama signs onto it, it is absolutely out of the question. if a bunch of conservatives in the house of representatives got together today and decided we're
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going to full-out endorse mother hood and apple pie and tomorrow obama said i'm for it too, they sade never mind. we're against mother hood and apple pie. it's a bad idea. >> why does hate sell more than love? i mean, i'm afford, i listen to people, i watch television and i hear more hate of obama than love of obama from the other side. why is the love of obama side so puristic they don't think he's been good enough. where the right wingers say he's plenty bad enough. he's so far left and yet the left says he's not left enough. why is this here? >> there always is. if you look at the vote to authorize the war in iraq a few years ago which many liberals
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were horrified by, still 84 democrats in the house of representatives voted to give bush the authority to authorize the invasion of iraq. do you think 84 republicans are going to vote with president obama for a much more limited campaign in syria? no, they're not. they enforce, they're dogmatic of the discipline. >> you're right. ten of those 80-some republicans are now supporting this effort. >> evidently obama taking this to congress meant only if they're going to vote with him. what we're saying is why aren't we having more republicans vote with what they disagree with just because -- >> that's common sense. he went with the idea they were going to vote with him. they're entitled to vote the way they vote. >> exactly. >> i think there are inconsistencies between the hawks and iraq and and syria.
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thank you john brabender. >> thank you. >> it was the same at the end of the vietnam war. the minute nixon got in there, they're all doves. cynthia welcome back. we missed you. down south where it's still hot. up next, don't just call when you need something. that's what president obama is doing with congress right now. don't make the first call a request when you're calling up somebody. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ thunder crashes ] [ female announcer ] some people like to pretend a flood could never happen to them. and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ] it doesn't. stop pretending. only flood insurance covers floods. ♪ visit to learn your risk.
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super tuesday is usually associated with huge primary dates. tomorrow is kind of an off year super tuesday as well. there are the new york city mayoral primaries. two recall races in colorado. jeb bush is giving hillary clinton an award in philly. and of course there's president obama's address to the country tomorrow night. msnbc will provide live coverage of the president's speech which begins at 9:00 eastern tomorrow night. we'll be right back. my mantra? always go the extra mile. to treat my low testosterone, i did my research. my doctor and i went with axiron, the only underarm low t treatment. axiron can restore t levels to normal in about 2 weeks in most men. axiron is not for use in women or anyone younger than 18 or men with prostate or breast cancer.
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i think it's going to be very difficult for him to get votes. i think this goes back not just to the issue itself but you
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can't begin to build a relationship with congress for the first time when you need their support on something like this. look a week and a half ago my office reached out to the white house and said -- i haven't heard back from the white house yet. >> welcome back to "hardball." that comment from adam kinzinger who supports the president. this sums up the biggest challenge in syria. administration and a president not known for personal outreach to lawmakers on capitol hill. can obama make a big ask on syria now? i have a whole chapter in a book i wrote about this thing. don't call just when you need something. common sense. in a nutshell, here's how it works in politics like in life. the first call should be how to get to know someone. how are the kids. it's not until the third time you deal with someone that you ask to save your bacon. that's what obama is trying to do on the first call. you know, roy blunt who's a smart guy, he's not a right winger at all.
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here's what he said about the president at the lunch with the gop. it's pretty late in the administration to start making friendships. if that isn't a great statement. well, your view about this as a guy who understands the hill and how it works. >> the amazing thing about what blunt said isn't that it just applies to republicans, but also a lot of democrats in the house. president obama's much more comfortable in the senate, comfortable with his senate democratic caucus. when he makes calls, it tends to be from those guys, dinners, he tends to brings republicans from the senate in. >> why, because they dress better? >> i think it's a confidence issue. he spent a few years in the senate. he was never a creature of the house, nor was vice president joe biden. you don't have anybody in the administration like rahm emanuel who knows the house side, leon panetta, rob portman in the bush administration or rumsfeld and cheney. >> jonathan, you're being squeamish here. isn't it a question of elitism? doesn't he think he's better than the house members?
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>> come on. >> you don't think that's true? he's president of the united states, he is better -- >> listen, he's the president of the united states. he's certainly in a more elevated role than they are, but i will say i don't think he's wanted to spend, for whatever reason, a lot of time with members of the house of representatives. he doesn't have much time for the sort of basic parochial politics that follow in the house. and you make a good point, which is now he's asking for something, if not transactional, certainly asking for a favor from these guys who he doesn't have relationships with. it's a hard thing to do that. and all these members are hearing in their district from people who don't want them to go into syria. all the political pressure on them is to not help them. so, they've got to have a reason to do that and he hasn't given them that. personal relationships probably don't matter with somebody who hates you on policy or doesn't agree, but a republican saying he wants to round up votes for you? you have to reach out to him.
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>> this illustrates the outreach to congress. this was "face the nation" yesterday. >> a couple of months ago, i was talking to the chairman of one of the senate committees, a big obama supporter, progressive democrat. and i was saying, you know, where's the contacts? and this is an important senator, and he just pounded his fist and he said, i don't know how you can say that! in the last five years, the president has called me twice. >> wow. congressman richmond, thank you for joining us. i want to bring in sedrick richmond from louisiana. thank you for coming to the show tonight. what do you think about this? you apparently just got a briefing with the black caucus. is there movement toward the president's position or not? >> well, i think there's willingness to listen, and today we met with not only susan rice, but the president who laid out his case for why he thought action was needed, why he came to congress and the risk that it
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would be to the country, not on the short term, but the long term, if we didn't have action. and i think there were some very poignant questions and of course some very different views of our options. and i think that everyone in the room prefers diplomacy first, and that was the goal just to set where we were and to get his thoughts on what we needed to do. >> well, diplomacy means say no to the president this week. i mean, he wants an act of war. he wants to attack syria and punish them for using chemical weapons. is the caucus, are you certainly -- let me ask you, are you for an attack on syria to punish them? >> well, i'm only for an attack on syria as a last resort, and i am not sure that we're there yet. but first it has to get through the senate, which i'm not sure that anyone's confident that it would. >> another question is, the other question is why the rush? this is their twelve attack using chemical weapons, so through attacks 1 through 11, we haven't used force, then i don't
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think there's a rush to do it in the next week, that we can take our time, try to build allies, wait for the u.n. inspectors to come back with proof that it was actually the assad regime which used it, which i'm pretty sure that it was, but we don't have to rush into this. and i think part of the president coming to congress shows that there wasn't a need to rush and that he's trying to think it through. so, the unfortunate part about this, chris, is that this is all going to boil down to trust, whether the people out there who oppose it trust their congressperson to make the right decision, whether we trust that the president has all the facts, has all the plans, and that he only intends to do limited strikes and get us out of there. all of it's a question of trust and part of it's a question of just how it will play out and what syria does. now, the other thing that i'm probably confident in is the fact that i don't think syria has the capacity to respond to anything that we did, but that doesn't mean we have to do it right now.
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so, i would say there were more questions in there from members than members having answers or opinions. >> that's good. glad you came on, congressman. thank you. let me go back to jonathan on the analysis. seems to me the hard left and the hard right are spoken for, so this president is trying to build a coalition of the center-left and center-right. the problem is they don't agree. as the congressman just said there, he wants very limited action taken here if he's going to support this thing. yet, you have people like john mccain who say no, this is just the beginning. we're going to go in for a dime, we're going in for a dollar, help the rebels. how can you have both sides when they disagree, centrally disagree over the middle, some more hawkish, how do you get them on agree to the resolution? >> i think the problem the white house is having with its messaging on what this strike's going to be -- you heard secretary of state john kerry today talk about it being unbelievably small, and then immediately, john mccain says that's unbelievably unhelpful. >> thank you. that's what the problem is, you just nailed it. thank you. just reported the problem.
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congressman richmond, cedric richmond of louisiana and jonathan allen of "politico." next, the road to damascus on which many american people wish we were not on. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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let me finish tonight with this. as i said at the beginning tonight, this is a road on which the american people wish very much we were not on. we don't want to side with the haters. we want obama to lose this vote
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on syria. we don't want to vote with the hawks, like mccain, who have pushed obama to this deeper involvement in that country's civil war. tomorrow night we will know more. i am not sure we will know enough more to make this decision any easier than it looks right now. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. tonight on "all in," a weigh-out. an offhand remark by secretary of state john kerry may have actually paved the way for the u.s. to avoid a military strike in syria. that in just a moment. also tonight, michael bloomberg accuses a new york mayoral candidate of running a racist campaign for campaigning with his family. that candidate will be here to respond directly. and later, george zimmerman is briefly taken into police custody after he allegedly threatened his estranged wife and her father with a handgun.