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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  January 14, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PST

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afloat in this economy. and they can just decide to do that. it's not us about amendments. they can just decide to do it as they did under bush and under obama and those folks will continue to get help. >> ezra klein gets tonight's "last word." thank you for getting me out of my new jersey state of mind tonight. >> thank you. new weeds in the garden state. let's play "hardball." >> good evening. i'm chris matthews back up in new york. let me start tonight with. this governor chris christie now faces the ticking clock. each second takes him closer to the moment when those he has blamed for this bridge scandal testify under oath. if he has signalled to any of them or any other staffer or appointee that this is the way he wanted things done, this story will develop like an old polaroid snapshot. we'll see the reality that has appeared until now only in murk and shadow. we will know precisely who told
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what to whom. today governor christie said he would not let the bridge scandal define new jersey. well, it doesn't, governor. it defines you. >> now the last week has certainly tested this administration. mistakes were clearly made. and as a result, we let down the people we're entrusted to serve. i know our citizens deserve better, much better. now i'm the governor. and i'm ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch, both good and bad. and without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. but i also want to assure the people of new jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state.
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this administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people's lives in new jersey to be delayed for any reason. >> he said that mistakes were made. he really said that, this phrase that has been so corrupted by every defendant in every scandal we can remember. he said that he is ultimately responsible for what happened, though guilty of none of it specifically. ah, how grand it is to be responsible while you're out there casting the blame on others. i go back to one point. we know who has been looking out to punish christie's enemies. his entire team seemed to be doing that. we know who has been looking out for christie. that's the governor himself. but who in this whole pile of corrupt values was looking out for the people of new jersey, those whose good name the governor said today he has his full heart into protecting. the truth will not come in speeches by politicians out there to save themselves. it will come under the harsh
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light of sworn testimony when someone somewhere in trenton or new york or washington tells what words were passed, what signals were sent, what missions were assigned between the chief executive of new jersey and those who were subject to his control and to his loyalty. democrat louis greenwald is the majority leader of the new jersey assembly. ted mann is covering this story for "the wall street journal." alex is on msnbc. mr. greenwald, thank you, sir for joining us. we haven't had you on before. i want to know what you thought of that performance by the governor in the context of what has happened and what we know so far. >> well, i think the governor's performance today was a little stale, to be honest with you, compared to what we're used to seeing, some of the bombastic comments and bravado that he has brought to the state of the states in previous years. but i think in the introit was very well said. bridgegate defines him.
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it doesn't define us as a state. it defines him and his actions. and while he did not focus much on it today, and i actually think that was appropriate, because we have to get to the business of the state, the truth of the matter is the governor keeps apologizing to the people for his staff betraying him. it's time for the governor to apologize to the people of the state of new jersey and the inconvenience that his leadership and the culture that he created caused the people of ft. lee and bergen county in the state of new jersey now as we move forward with these investigations. >> today "the wall street journal" published a picture accompanying ted mann's article that shows governor christie and david wildstein, the port authority official who arranged that george washington bridge lane closing together at the same place in the midst of the week-long epic traffic jam. the caption reads governor chris christie is seen with david wildstein on september 11th, 2013 before a ceremony on the 12th anniversary of the 2001 world trade center attacks in manhattan. in a photo obtained by "the wall street journal." september 11th was the third day of the lane closures in ft. lee,
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new jersey. so there you have despite the governor's attempt to distance himself from his appointee over there at the port authority, there he is with the guy right in the third day of this whole mess. and we're to believe he never looked the guy in the eye and said what the hell is going on here with the five-hour bridge closings. your thoughts. what can you report today? >> the governor has said not only that he didn't ask at that point what was going on with the traffic, but that he didn't even know. we had a story earlier this week that he initially said he didn't learn of any of this until the angry e-mail from a new york official at the port authority leaked out in october. then last week he said it was actually some of the initial press reports. but this shows that they were together days before that. it creates a slight problem for governor christie in that he said it has been a long, long time since he had seen wildstein. that it was long before election day. that leads up to the minds of the voters of new jersey to decide if september 11th is a long, long time before november
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5th, first of all. and i think it will provide democrats, mr. greenwald can speak to this, plenty of questions to ask both the governor staff and potentially him eventually about whether they really didn't speak of any of this. because it wasn't just wildstein. it's also bill baroni who was helping manage this situation, who was also there with him that morning. >> let me go back to the assembly, the majority leader. mr. greenwald, it seems every person's name that has come up in this, starting with wildstein and baroni and kelly and stepien, everybody who has really been nabbed here is part of this little cabal that closed the bridges down, knew about it and enjoyed what was going on, was totally with it. no appointee of the governor ever raised their hands, his or her hands and said this isn't what our governor wants done here. there is no evidence at all, mr. greenwald, of anybody in the governor's circle, those closest to him, handpicked by him that ever said anything but this is great. let's close that bridge down for four or five days.
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>> yeah, you know, you're absolutely right. the reality is that the governor is the chief executive. but he is also intimately involved in his campaign. and he rose to national prominence because he is a very savvy politician there is not a politician worth their weight in gold who less than two months before the election in the most populated county in the state would not pick up the phone and call the port authority or the department of transportation commissioner and say what the hell is going on out there? there is traffic jams five days in a row that are being reported on the news. so i can't imagine. i also know being an elected official myself and in that campaign mode between september and november, you're talking to your campaign manager every day. so whether it was in his executive office with bridget kelly or on his campaign staff with his campaign manager, with everything that was at stake and the pressure to get the numbers to all-time highs for his national platform, i can't imagine that they weren't focused of that or he said aw, shucks, i can't believe this is going on. he is too active. he is too in charge to not reach
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out and ask that question. now, the governor says he didn't. and we're going to take him 59 his word. our investigation is going to go to people like bridget kelly, like mr. stepien in a very methodical and strategic approach and see -- we all know there was an abuse of power. but what was the root of the abuse of power and how deep did it go. >> are you going to subpoena them all this week? >> we are interviewing outside counsel right now. yes not -- the state of new jersey is 120 legislators on a very small budget for our legislative staffs. so we are interviewing outside counsel right now. we hope to make an announcement tomorrow. we believe, and as a lawyer i would say there needs to be a very methodical and systematic approach there will be further subpoenas there is going to be further hearings. but we're going to work directly with outside counsel to see what that procedure should be, what order it should take to be done in a fair way, a fair process.
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>> let's go to alex wagner, my colleague. it seems to me all great dramas involve personalities. faces we begin to recognize and know well. certainly bridget kelly is now one. fingered by the governor directly, called a liar four different ways in one big press conference, she is the bad one. she is the betrayer. she is the liar. phrases that are amazing you call into question about a person that has been working with him. we have lots of pictures showing them working hand in glove. she has the clipboard. she has the phone. she is taking him around. all of the sudden he doesn't talk to her, doesn't call her up. just announced she is a louse on television, not to be trusted, not to be believed. somebody said the other day what he is doing is to set her up as a liar on the witness stand. he assumes she is going to come out against him. better to lace her first before she gets in the chair. these are strong words. he would have said she could have come forward. he could have called her in the office and said why didn't you tell me you were involved in all this? besides from all that, there is
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time from traffic problems in ft. lee, that wasn't the beginning of a conversation. that's in the midst of a conversation. she had been talking to people in the governor's office, all kinds of people. well you, know the story. i think we have a great drama dropping here. i think based on today with the view, there are a lot of women in the audience, they're rooting for her, not the big guy. >> you hit it, chris. first of all, i thought that was a strategically incredibly risky move. if you're right, he is betting the farm on the fact that the american public is going to be with chris christie in this. and we have just had mounting pieces of evidence that he is, you know, the truth is a fungible thing if you're chris christie. i also thought, chris, when he called her a liar and he called her effectively an idiot, someone who was deceitful, that just reinforces a narrative of chris christie being a bully. here is someone who is a loyal servant, a loyal staff member, and he turned on her so quickly, so abruptly. the last thing that i thought he did which i think will really hurt him in the long-term is it
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seemed i thought undisciplined. it seemed emotional, like somewhat of an overreaction. and it questions, you know, how much chris christie, if he is elected to higher office, can be trusted to make a calm and considered decision in a period of duress. >> he knows things we don't know. >> that's true. >> he maybe knows things -- >> we don't know what we don't know. >> on the view, they certainly sound like they were on bridget kelly's side. listen to this reaction from a lot of women who came to that program today. >> my question is going to be answered when bridget kelly shows up in the witness booth and she is under oath and she has been called a liar a number of times by the governor who is trying to destroy the jury pool by saying she is a liar to start with. if i were her, i would come back with everything i had against this guy. >> let me go back to ted mann and his story. where are the likes of the story heading right now? to the witness box? to people under oath in trenton?
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where is it going? >> as far as testifying, we should learn from the example of david wildstein the other day which is show up and take the fifth. >> you think ail all do that? >> he was held in contempt by the committee, but then his lawyer said basically he would have said more if he had been granted immunity. so he seemed to be putting up a hand to say i would cooperate if someone wants me to cooperate. it's unclear to me whether others would do the same thing if the legislature subpoenas them or not. i know one of the other legislators has said they're going to subpoena more documents. and that presumably means they want to know if there were earlier messages that allude to this particular -- >> because it seems to me your number one goal if you're one of the people that the government has fingered, especially bridget kelly, you want to make sure you don't get charged and convicted of anything in this regard, no matter, because if you're charged and convicted, even of a misdemeanor or what you call denial of public services, those kinds of charges they come up with, if you're hit with any one
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of them, then all the people who were hurt during the bridge holdup for five days can sue you because you have just been hit with a criminal charge and conviction. you have to exonerate yourself legally under the criminal statutes completely if you want to have a decent life henceforth. your thoughts, ted. isn't that a problem for them? >> certainly i think that would be something that they would all be considering. and the other question is how many people within the administration, if there were any, knew that this was happening or some variation of it. if you look at those e-mails, bridget kelly is not the only member of the governor's staff who got a heads-up during this week that the mayor thought political retribution was happening. people took messages to that effect. and the governor has said he interviewed everybody, that they knew nothing untoward was going on. but i have a feeling mr. greenwald and some of the other democrats are going to be picking away at that for a while. so is there more people within the administration that have to answer those questions? >> i would bet the minute he got in the elevator went to the cooler someone said what do you think of this bridge situation. al thank you, alex wagner, closer to me. it's great to have you on the starting team early in the
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afternoon, the front line, if you will. >> thanks. coming up, the other problem chris christie is facing. did his administration use hurricane sandy money for tourism ads designed primarily to benefit his reelection campaign? this is a story that goes to christie's character, how he does business. also, who better to vent about chris christie than bill maher, host of hbo's realtime with bill maher. it wasn't even moderate. it was just wrong. new york mayor bill de blasio's pizza parlor faux pas. finally let me end with a third effort to avoid a dangerous war in the islamic world. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ julie ] i've got to credit my mom. to help me become an olympian, she was pretty much okay with me turning her home into an ice rink. ♪ she'd just reach for the bounty select-a-size.
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it's the smaller, powerful sheet that acts like a big sheet. look, one select-a-size sheet of bounty is 50% more absorbent than a full size sheet of the leading ordinary brand. use less, with the small but powerful picker-upper, bounty select-a-size. chris christie's job approval ratings starting to slip, but just a bit. his overall approval ratings at 59% in a new statewide monmouth university poll.
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still high. but take a look at the breakdown by party. republicans are sticking with him, big-time, nearly nine in ten say they approve the job he is doing. but among democrats and independents, there are cracks beginning to appear. approval among democrats down nine points since a month ago. among independents, down 11 points. we'll be right back.
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♪ ♪ because we're stronger than storm ♪ >> the jersey shore is open. >> the word is spreading. >> because we're stronger than the storm. >> you bet we are. >> welcome back to "hardball." governor christie's office is now battling a two-pronged assault from investigators. in addition to the george washington bridge scandal, the feds are now diving headfirst into the money trail behind those famous sandy recovery ads featuring governor christie.
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when they ran last year, congressman frank pallone, a democrat from new jersey said he smelled something fishy about the whole thing. there was christie getting a bit of free press in an election year, no less, by appearing in a massive multi-state ad campaign funded by federal hurricane sean sandy relief money. late last week federal investigators told pallone they had found enough evidence of potentially improper activity here to turn a preliminary review into a full-scale investigation. the national journal is running this flashy headline. "federal probe of chris christie's tourism ads could make bridgegate look like an after thought." they report, quote, it may seem obviously crazy to try to use loose political ties to help sway a contract worth millions of dollars, but just a few weeks ago it would have seemed obviously crazy for new jersey officials to shut down traffic lanes to punish a mayor for not giving the governor a political endorsement. in this atmosphere, christie may not get the benefit of the doubt. well, it all feeds a growing narrative, if you will, that
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christie, the governor, who remains the republican party's best shot at taking on hillary clinton in 2016, he wanted to show his muscle by running up the score in last year's governor's race, even if that meant strong arming his way to a big win. well, democratic congressman frank pallone in new jersey is with us right now. also bob ingle who is with the asbury park press, author of "chris christie: the inside story of his rise to power." congressman pallone, tell us about this story, how you smelled it out, you thought it was fishy. i do think it is odd we have a $25 million ad makes the guy look gorgeous, has his wife narrating it. when it looks like a political ad that should be paid for by private funds, not by hurricane relief money. >> chris, i think the main thing here as the asbury park press brought out in their own investigation is that this money that could have been used, you know, for sandy relief. i still have a lot of homeowners and businesses who haven't gotten their money to rebuild or raze their homes.
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the fact of the matter is it was the difference between the low bid which was not chosen, which was not going to include chris christie and his family, and the bid that was chosen, which was about $2.2 million more expensive. and so this is one of the things that i'm asking the inspector general to look into. whether there was impropriety in choosing a higher bidder for more cost just because chris christie was going to be in the ad during the campaign season. >> well, speaking of hurricane relief, the name michelle brown comes to mind here right now, bob ingle. he is the person the head of the development fund. she was knocked out of his office when he was u.s. attorney for taking a $46,000 loan from her boss which is an awful lot of money to get from somebody who is also a public servant. and then came back in as the head of the development corporation. a fancy way to make the governor look good. $25 million in this case. so the money keeps going up from a $46,000 loan to a $250,000
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job. how do you put it together, the fact that she got a loan from the governor, was pushed aside back then, comes back for a quarter million year job and approves a $25 million ad buy that makes the governor look awful cheerful and good for a reelection campaign. >> well, yes. we have several pages of that in the chris christie books as a matter of fact. the christies and the browns are family friends. there was a loan -- >> i'll bet. >> for ten years for an amount of money that was to be paid back. and that's how he explains that one. she was in the u.s. attorney's office for 11 years before christie got there. and when he came to the governor's office, he brought her and a lot of other people. and then when this job, which is a pretty good job to have, actually, came up. and he sent her over to that. now, we ask for the tally sheet on who voted and how -- what
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kind of points they gave to these two different plans. they sent us over the tallies and the numbers, but they redacted who voted which way. so that's something that we're still trying to get. we can't really say who gave how many points to this plan that won. >> but the governor, the people working for the governor, here the woman he had lent them money to, he had given the quarter million a year job to, she picked out the job that was more expensive but highlighted his success in the cleanup rather than the cheaper ad that did not, right? >> right. well, what happened is in the written proposal, there was no mention of christie. it was celebrities, well-known new jersey people. and -- but they had a verbal session when they discussed this. now, we asked for the minutes from that verbal session to see
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what was discussed, and they haven't turned that over to us. but apparently it was in that meeting that they decided they really wanted the big guy, christie in the ads. it wasn't in the written proposal. >> congressman pallone, you're a jersey political figure, and everybody is now saying oh, this is just jersey politics, letting contracts that make you look good. maybe they're more expensive but they make you look good. it's an old pal of yours you put in there. you lent money to in the past, you've been loyal to, very good friends with, just like the president of the united states, george w. bush, you're doing a heck of a job, brownie. somebody from the arabian horse commission somehow became head of the disaster relief. here you have another friendly appointment and you have friendly behavior on her part in helping the governor. this the way jersey runs? is this something we just have to get used to and the governor is somehow free of any blame here? >> no, chris. we should never get used to this. the fact of the matter this is money that came from the federal government that could have been used for sandy relief. and as far as i'm concerned, you know, representing people at the
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jersey shore who are still looking for their checks and haven't received them, i'm not going to go along with any idea that says that's okay because that's the way we do it in new jersey. in new jersey, we're honest. we do things properly. and if the governor, you know, made a decision here through his aides that he was going to take the more expensive ad because of the fact that he was included in it and it was going to run during the campaign season, that's the wrong thing to do. i'm certainly not going to condone it. i'm glad that the inspector general is doing this investigation. let's get to the bottom of it. >> a lot of people are still hurting in new jersey and up in new york in breezy point and staten island and rockaway. so many places. you're dead right. they deserve to get the right kind of publicity, that they're hurting and not how great new jersey. thank you for bringing this story, frank pallone and bob ingle for reporting it. still ahead, bill maher joins us. who better to talk about new jersey than someone from there? this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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they said well, governor christie, do you think this will hurt your chances for becoming president of the united states? and he said hey, because he is kind of a bully, he said hey, we'll close that bridge when we come to it. >> people investigating the chris christie bridge scandal say the governor could be removed from office. that's true, yeah. critics say that removing christie from office would require a federal indictment, full support of both houses and a three-ton construction crane. >> welcome to the sideshow. the late night talk shows are any indication, the george washington bridge saga will remain a punch line indefinitely. it's too good to resist. there is also a new controversy developing just across the hudson in new york city. it may only be his second week on the job, but mayor bill de blasio still isn't getting a pass from fellow new yorkers for committing a faux pas so
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indefensible that many in the big apple are questioning his street cred. here is how they told the story last night on "the daily show." >> so the mayor stopped by for a slice in staten island this afternoon. he cut his pizza with a knife and a fork. >> mother [ bleep ]! you're supposed to be champion of the middle class. two weeks into the turn and we catch you eating pizza a la trump? >> and you call yourself a radical socialist. >> i often start with a knife and fork. but then i cross over to the american approach and pick it up when i go farther into the pizza. >> it's not over there, you start over there, you bring it over there. what is this? mixed martial arts? what do you mean? you're eating a slice of pizza for crying out loud. you start out with the italian approach and i switch to american and then i go to the mongolian cheese slurp. no. you pick it up and eat it! >> while the story is obviously
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a bit overblown, jimmy fallon was able to put it in perspective. >> that's right. bill de blasio's first scandal in office is eating pizza with a knife and fork. when he heard that, chris christie was hey, want to trade scandals? >> well, goodfella's pizza, the restaurant where the mayor perpetrated this etiquette, he plans to auction the fork to ebay to raise money for the hurricane sandy relief effort. good ending to that story. up next, the one and only bill maher is going to come here with plenty to say about the big guy, chris christie. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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politics ain't beanbag. okay. and everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. on the other hand, that's very, very different than saying that, you know, someone is a bully. i am who i am. but i am not a bully. >> welcome back to "hardball." chris christie was seen by some as the savior of the republican party, a somewhat moderate force who could possibly capture his party's nomination in 2016. and some polls, in fact, he was even slightly beating hillary clinton. but for the past week he has
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been the punch line for late night comedians and a target for democrats and even some republicans. can christie survive politically? and if he can't, if he is hobbled by this scandal, where does that leave the republican party after he is out of the running? who better to discuss all of this than bill maher, the host of "realtime with bill maher" which thank god returns this weekend with new episodes this friday at 10:00 on hbo. bill is by the way a son of the great state of jersey. bill, i have to say, i'm going to warm you up now, because i always have to be careful about you because i don't know which way you're going on me. your show is without doubt the number one show i could ever appear on, besides this one, of course. every time i do your show, about two times, three times a year, every single person i meet says i saw you on maher. so you must have incredible ratings. >> we do have incredible ratings. it's a well kept secret in the media. but so much, chris. >> let's talk about you and the media. you're from jersey. does this smell like jersey? does it smell like chris christie?
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do you smell the fact that there is somebody going to testify like a john dean in a couple of weeks? i'm betting and hoping for bridget kelly to talk about what it really was like working for big guy and what the orders were and the signals were and the atmosphere was. >> right. >> and that's why she had this conversation. "time for traffic problems in ft. lee", as if she had been having this conversation for months. your thoughts. >> well, i don't think they'll ever find a smoking ham, you know, to attribute to chris christie directly. i think he is too clever for that. that's not how thugs work. the whole reason that you hire someone like bridget kelly is to carry out orders like this that you don't actually give. remember when benedict was the god's rottweiler or the pope's rottweiler they called him before he got the pope job? well, she is blob's rottweiler, okay? she knows to do this without actually having to be told. it's the atmosphere.
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what i think is interesting that i find new about a scandal like this is i never knew before of a scandal where an administration, maybe it wasn't christie himself, but the administration actually purposely inflicted pain on its own citizens to make a point to other politicians. i mean nixon had an enemies list, but he carried out his vengeance directly against the people who were his enemies. he didn't, you know, use the people of america as hostage shields. >> yeah, i remember hitchhiking as a kid and this couple, kind of a rough couple, because that's who you hitchhiked with. one was torturing the kid, punishing him, slapping him, to get even with the other spouse. it was horrible to sit in the back seat, but it's like this. why would you go and go punish somebody to sort of send a weird kind of message to your other guy? first of all, what was the purpose of doing it? he wasn't going to like you afterwards. what would be the message, don't mess with me because i'm going to screw your commuters?
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and by the way, somebody might get killed or might have a terrible situation like we've been recounting on this show. but the hell with that. i'll get my message across. by the way, let me ask you about this. you deal in comedy, but not sarcasm. here is the governor's first reaction. i believe sarcasm never works with a politician for some reason. here he is reacting when it first was nailed on him and they came back at him in the press. here was his mock response to a question. let's watch. >> i worked the cones, actually, matt. unbeknownst to everybody, i was actually the guy out there. i was in overall and a hat. but i actually was the guy working the cones out there. you really are not serious with that question? >> there you go. it didn't work, did it? >> no, it didn't work, and it never does. politicians can't do that. politicians should in general not try to be funny. that almost never works. it's not what people are looking for in a politician. that's our job to make the jokes. but, you know, i also don't
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think that this is going to be a scandal that is going to affect him negatively with the people in his own party. he keeps saying i'm not a bully. sure he is a bully, and that's what they like about him is that he is a bully. if he is not a bully, who is he? he is just lamar alexander. they're always looking for a bully in that party. they loved sarah palin, remember? sarah palin was a bully. i'm sorry? >> let's not generalize. he has to go to iowa where you and i know they really have distaste for any rough talk or hardball behavior. maybe in new hampshire, you tell me which states are going to like this personality, this thuggish personality. which state? south carolina? are they going to go for it? >> everywhere there where there are republican primary voters, where there are the kind of voters who booed the gay soldier, who cheered when somebody said what should we just let people die? those republican primary voters are in every state. and in every state they're going to like chris christie. this is not the disaster for him
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that people think it is. i don't think so. i think it's miley cyrus. it look like a scandal when she was twerking at the vma award, but it turns out that it just made her a bigger star. >> you're the only person that would make that comparison. >> all i saw was every network covering chris christie's state of the state speech. when did you ever see networks cover a governor's state of the state speech? he is just a bigger star than ever right now. >> let's turn over the pillow to the pope. i know you're not a practicing religious person. you're an atheist, i think, pretty much, which is fair, because you're honest about it. and now the pope. it seems to me everybody i know, especially people who are not catholic, jewish, protestant, whatever, all my friends and workers, they come up to me and i really like this new pope. it is because he is not exactly talking about religious belief, he is talking about human ideal behavior toward each other and it's something that we could all look to? i don't know how you're going to react to this. but it seems that he struck a note here that even the president it looks like in his state of the union is going to talk about, inequality of economic life in this world.
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>> right, well, he keeps shaking things up in a way we have never really seen a pope do. he just appointed a bunch of new cardinals which is kind of the way a pope does redistricting. and none of them were from america, you know. they were all from third world places. you know, i'm sure the people in the vatican, that entrenched bureaucracy that he is trying to unseat, i'm sure they're going nuts, because he keeps saying things that must just blow their minds. the first thing he said when he got into office was that atheists get into heaven. you know when he said that they were like we got to prepare the poison now. >> that's not good for business. let me tell you though, i have to tell you, i went to church this sunday, and i got to tell you something. it was packed. as i was going out of church, a guy said is this the pope that is doing this? is this francis? that's fascinating stuff from our point of view, that he could actually be bringing people back to listen by what has been said
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by this guy, this leader. >> yeah. i think he is kind of the gorbachev of the catholic church. and i think ultimately maybe his goal is to kind of bring it down. >> maybe the de klerk, maybe the f.w. de klerk maybe. the guys that sees the time has to change. >> something like that. >> by the way, bill, i love your show. i'm not just blowing smoke. your show is amazing. it's always challenging to be on because i never know what i'm supposed to do except listen to you. "realtime with bill maher" returns at 10:00 on hbo. in mobile and corpus christi. these one-night shows are spectacular. thank you, bill maher. up next, how would you restore chris christie's reputation if you were in the business? we have a couple of political heavyweights coming here to play crisis manager. and you'll recognize them. they know what is going on. they're going to help this guy, i think. this is "hardball," the place for politics. growing up my mom let me use her home as an ice rink.
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and his new boss told him two things -- cook what you love, and save your money. joe doesn't know it yet, but he'll work his way up from busser to waiter to chef before opening a restaurant specializing in fish and game from the great northwest. he'll start investing early, he'll find some good people to help guide him, and he'll set money aside from his first day of work to his last, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade. marriage equality is on the move in another deep red state. late today a federal judge ruled the gay marriage ban in oklahoma is unconstitutional. the ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning same-sex marriages won't immediately happen in the sooner state. last month a federal judge ruled the same-sex marriage ban in utah was unconstitutional, opening the door to gay marriage in a very conservative state. we'll be right back. 
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we're back. chris christie has a big crisis on his hands, and how he handles it will not only affect his political future, but also the republicans' hopes of winning the white house come 2016. for the republican party, christie was their best shot. before the scandal broke, poll after poll showed christie is the candidate who runs strongest against a democratic front-runner right now, hillary rodham clinton. so let's talk about christie's fight for survival politically and nationally with two political pros who know how to manage state governments, actually know a lot about politics.
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ed rendell was the governor of pennsylvania and the chairman of the democratic national committee. michael steele was the lieutenant governor of maryland and chairman of the republican national committee. i want to start with you, governor rendell. i think it has to do with facts. i think this case will be decided by facts, sworn testimony down the road under the lights of all the press and all the focus of the country. people speaking under oath. but before that happens, what should be the posture of this governor if he wants to save his national reputation? >> well, he's got to do, chris, something analogous what bill clinton did. shrug it off. do not direct vengeance towards legislators who are trying to get to the bottom of this. move in a bipartisan way, develop programs. go into areas with democratic mayors who didn't endorse you, do good things, economic development things. he's got to perform like bill clinton performed. bill clinton has a litany of achievements during that year when the house that he was dealing with was trying to impeach him and in fact did impeach him. that's what christie's got to do. i think he's got a huge credibility problem that is going to make it very difficult
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for him to escape this. >> let me go to michael on this. michael, what do you say he should do? we're assuming he doesn't know how things are going to turn out down the road. >> you're taking that into consideration or not, either way i think christie has done the, you know, oh, gee, i didn't know, my bad, we made a mistake. now get back to work. again, chris, this is barring no further revolutions, no other shoe's dropping showing his fingerprints are directly on that. barring that, i think christie going back to work is the best thing for him now.
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>> the whole question, governor rendell, seems back when water gate was happening, everybody was saying it's going to be decided by the politicians and ended up being decided by the evidence. people did a good job under peter rodino. they had him in the cover-up of watergate. nailed him for an impeachable offense as they all saw it. for example, if he knows he did say something to bridget kelly, he did say something to kevin o'dowd, chief of staff, listened to something from charlie mckenna, his counsel, he's counting on what, executive privilege down the line? what's his bet here? he basically circled the wagons and said i only have two report, those two guys and she's not to be believed. that's where he's circling the wagons now. >> i think he has to simply hope the people around him, the people involved in this stay with the party line.
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and say that he didn't know anything about it. we did it on our own. but chris, the problem with that is let's assume governor christie didn't know anything about it. then why for god's name would an activist governor, and he was an activist governor just like i was, why would he let the lanes be closed for five days, jeopardizing public safety, when they told him it was a traffic study? if they said that to me, i would have said, take that traffic study and stick it where the sun don't shine. let's open those lanes right now. i want those lanes opened in 30 minutes. >> well, that's exactly the kind of governor, mayor you were. let me go back to michael. that's the kind of governor and mayor he was. when there's a big fire, you want to see the mayor and governor on the curb across the street. when a fireman is hurt, you want to see him in the hospital with him like mayor rendell was all those nights. you want him there on the beat. don't want the guy hiding saying gee wiz, don't tell me what's going on, i can't afford to know
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it like peter the hermit. he can't be that guy. >> the first you're talking about now, the hands-on guy. when chris christie made the joke about the guy moving the cones, the expectation is, you know, if as an activist governor that you would be at a turnstile wondering what's going on with the cars not getting through. other side of this, though, is the fact that, you know, the information he's getting is coming from second, third sources. and how that's processed internally is something i think will be further exposed here. at the end of the day, you know, chris christie was a former u.s. attorney. i can't imagine him putting himself in a box and taking that box and putting it in a corner then painting around that box so you can't get out of that corner. so the point for me, when he gave that press conference and said what he said, he knew exactly what he did and did not do with respect to this bridge -- these lane closures. >> would you back him for president?
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>> i think he feels comfortable with that. >> would you back him for president? >> yes. >> i know you won't, governor rendell.
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let me finish tonight with this. i am deeply concerned that the opposition led by republicans in the congress to the current effort to avoid a third and far more dangerous war in the islam ic world. president obama and secretary terry are working hard to find
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way to constrain the iranian nuclear program to keep that country from building nuclear weapons. they worked a short-term deal and are working now on a long-term deal. it's obviously a tricky bit of business. the united states and other countries are determined that iran not build weapons, nuclear weapons. iran is still a revolutionary country does not want its sovereignty questioned. whatever deal is struck needs to be struck, of course, from both sides. now right in the middle of this sensitive deal making come a huge number of senators, mostly republicans who want to impose new sanctions on iran. whatever the motives of these senators, and what good does it do to ask about those motives, they are undermining the talks between the world powers and tehran. they're giving the hardliners in iran a great opportunity to say that it would do no good to hold back on weaponizing its nuclear program because iran is going to get hit economically either way. this is not the way the united states avoids wars. we ended the cold war because
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ronald reagan took the lead and the democrats backed him up. i was there. before reagan even met with gorbachev in 1985, the speaker of the house, my boss at the time led a bipartisan delegation to moscow vouching for reagan saying he spoke for our country. the speaker made a point each time reagan met with new soviet leaders, they were supported back home. if we're going to avert a war with iran, don't kid yourself, an attack by the united states would begin one, there's one route the next three years. that is through this president and state department. anything else is simply undermining the one chance we have to avoid what threatens to be a horrific unending war with iran, backed by the secular moderate people of the country united with the hardliners if we fail at peace and resort to an act of war.
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it's time for the opposition to do what it did in ending the cold war, stand together with the president. at least give him and peace a chance. 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. mistakes were made. the siren song of scandal-stricken politicians for generations uttered today from the floor of the state assembly chamber in new jersey's capitol building. faced with the awkward task of delivering his annual state of the state speech today, amid the spiraling bridge scandal, chris christie opted for one of the oldest cliches in the book. >> mistakes were clearly made, and as a result, we let down the people we're entrusted to serve. >> the governor addressed the scandal only very briefly at the top of his speech, but there was one little tidbit of actual