updated 9/7/2006 11:40:02 AM ET 2006-09-07T15:40:02

Guests: Jennifer Duffy, KT McFarland, Frank Donatelli, Kiki McLean, Carl Romanelli, Rachel Maddow

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to our continuing coverage of “Decision 2006,” “Battleground America.”  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  The mid-term election is just two months away, and the question on both sides of the aisle is, Will dissatisfaction with President Bush give the Democrats control of Congress?

For those of you keeping score at home, here‘s how both chambers stack up.  Right now, Republicans control the House with 231 seats to the Democrats‘ 201.  Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to take back control.  In the Senate, it‘s Republicans 55 seats, Democrats 44, leaving the Democrats needing just six seats to take control there.

But the numbers don‘t tell the whole story.  The issues in this campaign range from the war on terror to Iraq, immigration to the economy, and endless local issues across the states.  But undergirding all of this is subpoena power, the power to investigate the White House.  Democrats need only one house of Congress to do it.  Will they get what they want on election day, and what will that mean?

Joining me from Washington now with the big picture, Jennifer Duffy.  She‘s the editor of and a political analyst for “The Cook Political Report.”

Jennifer, welcome.

JENNIFER DUFFY, “COOK POLITICAL REPORT”:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Give us the overview.  What‘s going to happen in November?

DUFFY:  Well, I think, at this point, when you look at the Senate, Democrats are poised today to pick up four or five seats.  Six is certainly within their reach.  It‘s something they can accomplish in the next 62 days, but you know, right now, they‘re sort of on the cusp.

In the House, you know, unless something major changes out there, Democrats are on a trajectory to take over the House.  They‘re not going to have an overwhelming majority, certainly, but that‘s what it looks like today, barring some significant change in the environment.

CARLSON:  So as of right now, two months out, you see the Democrats controlling at least one House of Congress and getting that subpoena power?

DUFFY:  That‘s what it looks like, you know, and what they do with that subpoena power I think is a great, you know, question within the Democratic caucus.

CARLSON:  It certainly is.  And it‘s something Democrats I think want to play down right now.  They don‘t want to be seen...

DUFFY:  Certainly.

CARLSON:  ... as a party hoping to wreak revenge on the Republican Party.  When did this all change?  I know that two months ago, three months ago, this was less definitive.  People like you were saying, You know, it‘s a toss-ups.  When did you decide or conclude that the Democrats were likely going to win?

DUFFY:  I mean, I think over the summer, you know, we just kept adding more and Republican seats to the vulnerable list, to the point where, you know, according to our house editor, we hit some sort of critical mass.  And understanding that waves, you know, tend to not to discriminate and members who have been safe for previous elections may not be so safe now, you begin to see the path to Democrats taking the House.  You know, it‘s not a done deal, but it is close.

CARLSON:  You know, I spoke at great length a couple of months ago with one of the architects of the Republicans‘ political strategy, who said he believed his party may pick up seats.  Is—I mean, do—my question is, Do Republicans—do you think that the leadership understands that this is about to happen?  Do they believe it?  Where are they on this?

DUFFY:  You know, they have their head buried in the sand if they don‘t believe that they have a problem.  No, I think that the leadership is very tuned into the fact that there are problems out there and that they have lots of seats to defend and very few opportunities out there to offset their own losses.  I mean, here we are, nine weeks before the election, we do not have one single Democratic House seat in our toss-up column today.

CARLSON:  All right.  What are the key races?  You know, give me the three or four races to look at.  If you‘re keeping score, say, election day, and you want to know what direction this is going to break in, what are the races you‘re looking at?

DUFFY:  Let‘s look at the Senate.  In some ways, it‘s easier to look at that bigger picture.  I mean, first, I think you look at Ohio.  You know, does Senator Mike DeWine lose?  He hasn‘t really, you know—hasn‘t done anything wrong yet.  He‘s in Ohio, where the environment is just toxic for Republicans, you know, and so that‘s a big one.

I‘d also look at a state like Missouri, which I really think is the bellwether here.  Senator Jim Talent, again, has not committed a fireable offense at all, but if the Democratic wave is big enough, you know, he could go under.  So if he loses, I think you look at that and say the wave is pretty big and Democrats really do have a Senate majority within their reach.

CARLSON:  Boy, it is just—this has the makings potentially of a 1994-like disaster in reverse.  Thanks a lot.  I really appreciate, Jennifer...

DUFFY:  No problem.

CARLSON:  ... for your insight on that.  And Republicans ought to be upset.

Well, one candidate getting a huge amount of publicity this mid-term season, of course, is Hillary Clinton.  The speculation, needless to say, is that she‘ll be seeking to move back to the White House beginning next year.  In the meantime, though, she has reelection campaign to mount.

My next guest is her opponent in that campaign.  KT McFarland is the Republican candidate for Senate from the state of New York.  Mrs.  McFarland, thanks a lot for joining us.

KATHLEEN TROIA “KT” MCFARLAND, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK

SENATE:  Thank you, Tucker.  I‘m delighted to be here.

CARLSON:  So if I‘m a voter in New York...

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... I look at you and Mrs. Clinton, and I look at you and I say, Well, gee, you‘re pro-choice and you‘re for the war in Iraq.  So is Mrs. Clinton on both counts.  So why would I vote for you over her?

MCFARLAND:  I am a—this is—a primary election is all about who‘s the best Republican candidate to challenge Mrs. Clinton and to hold her to account on the issues.

CARLSON:  Right.

MCFARLAND:  I am—she‘s a big spender.  She‘s a big taxer.  So is the Republican I‘m running against for the primary.  So I can hold her to account on those issues.  And finally, on the war in Iraq and on all the national security issues, she won‘t take a position.

I‘ve worked for three Republican presidents at the highest levels of the White House, the National Security Council, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Department of Defense.  I know these issues.  I know them cold, and I can make her take a stand on them, and that‘s what this election is all about...

CARLSON:  Yes, but I don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I mean, Mrs. Clinton.

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Wait.  She actually has taken a position on Iraq.  She‘s back-pedaled a little bit...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  She‘s been a pretty steadfast supporter of the war.  She voted for it in the first place.

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  She‘s been to Baghdad a number of times.  She has all but endorsed the White House‘s handling of the war from Baghdad, from the ground.  So she‘s for the war, and so are you.

MCFARLAND:  Well, she‘s for the war, but she‘s against a timetable, and she has no solution to what do you do next.  I think that you—and she spends most of her time looking at what was wrong before.  Now, I would certainly think that the way you look at the Iraq war is you look forward.  What do you do next?  We‘re there.  What do you do next?

CARLSON:  Right.

MCFARLAND:  I think the first thing you do is have international diplomacy, which we have not used, the administration has not pursued.  The first thing to do is—immediately is to have negotiations with all interested parties.  Very few countries want a civil war in Iraq, which is exactly what we would have...

CARLSON:  What do you mean, with all interested parties?  So you begin negotiations with the insurgency, with the terrorists?

MCFARLAND:  No, I think you begin negotiations—you bring to the table—you bring the Chinese, the Russians, the Indians, the French, the Germans, and you bring other Arab countries in the area.  Nobody has an interest in a civil war, and a civil war is exactly what would break out if we cut and run.  So I think you first have diplomacy.  And then in the middle term, in 30, 60, 90 days, let‘s reassess where we are.

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I don‘t—I mean, I don‘t mean to be insulting at all, and I think you‘re obviously a real candidate, a credible candidate...

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... or we wouldn‘t have you on.  I‘m wondering, though—a lot of people despise Mrs. Clinton.  I mean, she really has pretty high and pretty enduring negatives, and has for, you know, 12 years or more.

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Why aren‘t your numbers higher, considering so many people dislike her?

MCFARLAND:  Well, look, the reason Hillary—or one of the reasons Hillary Clinton won in 2000 was she went around the state of New York and she got two groups that normally would not have voted for her.  She got Republican and independent woman in large percentages who voted for her, probably because she was a woman.  She also went to the parts of New York state, upstate New York, western New York, central New York, and those are traditionally Republican areas.  And she went to those people.  And it‘s an area which has lost jobs and lost population in the last decade.  And she looked at them and said, Vote for me, and I‘ll create 200,000 jobs.  Well, she‘s failed to do that.  So those voters are...

CARLSON:  Right.

MCFARLAND:  ... potentially would come back to the Republican Party.

CARLSON:  You‘re running in the primary against...

MCFARLAND:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... someone named John Spencer from Yonkers.  Your—one of your campaign consultants went after him for his domestic situation.  He had a couple of children with a woman not his wife, then married here.  But one of your consultants called him, quote, “ a bigamist,” which struck me as a pretty awful thing to say about a man and a pretty harsh attack on the guy‘s private life.  Why would you sanction something like that?

MCFARLAND:  Well...

CARLSON:  Why not just attack his beliefs?  Why attack his family? 

That‘s pretty—pretty low, isn‘t it?

MCFARLAND:  I have talked about his record as mayor of Yonkers, and in that regard, that‘s a fiscal responsibility, his fiduciary duties.  He had a relationship with an employee, a relationship which he denied.  He promoted that employee to his chief of staff.  He tripled her salary.  He lived with her.  He also denied that.  He, in effect, doubled his own personal household income.

CARLSON:  Yes, but he married her!  Wait, wait, wait!  Slow down.  He married her!

MCFARLAND:  Well, look...

CARLSON:  I mean—wait, wait, wait!  Let me ask you this, then.  This is your first time running for office, so far as I know.  How would you like it if somebody crawled into your private life, and I—and to some extent, people have crawled into your private life because I‘ve read it.  I‘m not going to repeat it on the air because I think it‘s wrong.  But when people go after your family, your relationship with different members of your family, you must hate that.  Why would you do that to somebody else?

MCFARLAND:  I‘m doing that in—with regard to his job as mayor.  This is somebody who worked for him.  Look, I come out of the culture of Washington, D.C.  If you‘re in the military and you have a relationship with an employee, promote that employee, deny the relationship, and in effect, put money in your own pocket, that‘s an offense you can be court-martialed for.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  He married the woman, and he‘s not in the military.  So I think I just...

MCFARLAND:  Well...

CARLSON:  I disagree—with all respect...

MCFARLAND:  Well...

CARLSON:  ... I disagree with going after this guy.  I mean, he married her!  I don‘t know, in an age when people don‘t get married and have kids out of wedlock, this guy did the right thing.  I mean...

MCFARLAND:  That‘s not the issue, Tucker.

CARLSON:  OK.

MCFARLAND:  The issue is his fiduciary responsibility as mayor of Yonkers.

CARLSON:  All right.

MCFARLAND:  He has a duty to the taxpayers...

CARLSON:  Well...

MCFARLAND:  ... to tell them when he‘s putting money into his own pocket.  He also hired all of his relatives...

CARLSON:  That‘s...

MCFARLAND:  ... and put, again, money into his family pocket.

CARLSON:  Right.  Right.  All right, all right, all right!

MCFARLAND:  To me, those are legitimate issues.

CARLSON:  OK.  I think it‘s an—I think it‘s an ugly way to campaign.  Just my view.  Thanks for joining us, though, Ms. McFarland.  Appreciate it.

MCFARLAND:  Thank you very much.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Still to come, the race some experts are calling a dog fight.  And some experts are right, by the way.  Rick Santorum and Bob Casey battle if out in Pennsylvania.  Could it be curtains for one of this country‘s most conservative senators?  We‘ll tell you.  And whatever happened to immigration reform?  Congress is backing away, but don‘t tell that to voters in the heartland.  They still care.  Why it‘s still a life-and-death issue for some candidates.  That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  I believe that it was a war of necessity.

BOB CASEY, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR PENNSYLVANIA SENATE:  If a lot of Americans knew now—if they knew then what they know now, they would have thought that this war was the war that shouldn‘t have been fought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Rick Santorum versus Democratic challenger Bob Casey.  It looks it will be a fight to the finish line in the Pennsylvania Senate race.  Here to discus that race, plus some of the other key battles in the Northeastern U.S., the great A.B. Stoddard from “The Hill” newspaper.  She joins us from Washington.  And from Boston, Massachusetts, MSNBC political contributor Mike Barnicle.  Thank you both.

Let‘s start with Pennsylvania.  Mike, why exactly, if you were a liberal, would you be excited for voting for Casey?  He‘s pro-life.  That‘s going to turn off, it seems to me, a lot of Democrats.  What‘s the appeal?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, you know, Tucker, the clip that you showed from Tim‘s show on Sunday, “Meet the Press,” was fairly interesting.  If you were a completely disinterested observer who liked politics, did not live in Pennsylvania, leaned toward the left-hand side of the bus and watched that debate, I think you would come away thinking, What‘s up with Bob Casey?  Does he have any beliefs at all that he can articulate?

CARLSON:  Right.

BARNICLE:  I think that‘s the problem that Bob Casey is having.  He‘s a wonderful fellow from a wonderful family, but it might epitomize the problem that the Democrats seem to be having on an increasingly larger scale on that national landscape, and that is things are very difficult.  A lot of people are very unhappy with politics and the process and the war in Iraq and issues like immigration.  Why aren‘t the Democrats ahead by two to one?

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s an excellent point.  I mean, I guess you could flip it over, A.B. Stoddard, and tell me why Santorum, who‘s very articulate, very smart, very popular in some quarters—probably not the ones we live in—I like him, but anyway—why is he having such trouble holding onto his seat in the Senate?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Rick Santorum is the poster boy for the Bush administration, and that‘s going to be a big problem for him.  I think that liberals are excited not about Bob Casey but about throwing Rick Santorum out of office.  And I think that are going to be some Republicans and independents who voted for Santorum in Pennsylvania for the past who are excited to send him packing, as well, and I think that‘s going to be his problem.

I think that Bob Casey, as we saw the other night, doesn‘t make a great candidate, but all he had to do was not lose on “Meet the Press,” and he didn‘t.  So that‘s a problem for Rick Santorum.  I think Rick Santorum was counting on Bob Casey falling on his face, and since it was sort of flat, it‘s really a wash for Rick.

CARLSON:  You know, Mike, all this past year, I‘ve been thinking to myself there are no people of principle, men of principle left in the Republican Party, but it turns out there are some in Rhode Island, and they‘re kicking out, or they‘re in the process of kicking out Chafee, this great senator‘s son, not such a great senator himself, pretty liberal, and he may be beaten by this Laffey character, who‘s an actual conservative.  A, do you think that‘s likely to happen, and B, does Laffey have any chance at all of beating Whitehouse (ph) in the—Sheldon (ph) Whitehouse...

(CROSSTALK)

BARNICLE:  You know, I think—I think it‘s not likely to happen.  I think, in the end, the Rhode Island—the Republican primary vote in Rhode Island is so small, I mean, there‘s literally 17, perhaps 18 Republicans in the entire state.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Well, I think it‘s less than 10 percent, literally.

(LAUGHTER)

BARNICLE:  Yes.  You know, so I would—well, OK, it might be likely to happen if the real red-meat right-wing way over on there on the right-hand side decide to come out en mass against Chafee, maybe.  But I don‘t think that‘s likely to happen.  I don‘t think the mayor has any shot at beating the Democrat.  And I think it‘s going to be a tough shot for Senator Chafee to beat the Democrat in the fall.

CARLSON:  Now, on what grounds, A.B. Stoddard—I know that the national Republican Party is on Chafee‘s side.  He‘s not on their side.  Why are they supporting him?

STODDARD:  It‘s really fun to watch Senator Chafee become the establishment candidate.  It‘s really sort of an interesting twist.  I think that the Republicans, who Mike is referring to, who want to get really mad and vote for Laffey and bounce Chafee out, are really those, you know, who want to eat their own because I think then we‘re going to see this seat handed to the Democrats.  I think that for Chafee—I thin for, you know, Republicans in the establishment, they have—they‘re going with Chafee because Chafee keeps—likely to keep the seat.  But if it flips to Laffey after the primary, it‘s going to go to the Democrat.

CARLSON:  Boy, that—they—and Chris Shays, speaking of liberal Republicans, Mike, who really—whose time may be up—I‘m sorry.  I—

I‘m, again, probably the only person, on this show anyway, who‘d be happy to see Chris Shays meet his just rewards...

BARNICLE:  Why?

CARLSON:  ... in the private sector.

BARNICLE:  Why?

CARLSON:  Why?  Because I—you know what?  It‘s—it‘s the “more in sorrow than in anger” thing.  It‘s just like Joe Lieberman.  Every time you listen to Chris Shays, you really feel the angst, do you know what I mean?

BARNICLE:  But he dresses like you.  I would think you‘d really like him.

(LAUGHTER)

STODDARD:  Oh, good one, Mike!

CARLSON:  I know.  I know you, Mike, and—but is this guy—is he going to lose to Farrell, do you think, Mike?  And then A.B., tell me.

BARNICLE:  I think Chris Shays could well loose.  The feeling about—toward the war in Iraq, as we have found out over the past month, is so deep in New England.  I think from Philadelphia on up through Portland, Maine, the river of resentment against this war in Iraq is hugely wide, and I think Chris Shays could well drown in that resentment.

CARLSON:  A.B., this man...

STODDARD:  I‘m going to disagree.

CARLSON:  ... is from your part of the world.

STODDARD:  I‘m going to disagree.  Tucker, you and I disagree on Chris Shays...

CARLSON:  Yes.

STODDARD:  ... and we‘re not going to change our minds.  I happen to think that he beat Farrell, you know, last time, two years ago, in a good time, but that he has put the Kool-Aid box down in the last week, saying that he‘s going to support a timetable for a withdrawal.  He‘s held hearings on Iraq, and he‘s questioning the administration‘s policy on Iraq just enough, I think, to assuage the Democrats and independents who are mad at him about Iraq but have supported him in the past.  He‘s a very likable fellow.  And Stu Rothenberg, one of this town‘s experts, thinks he‘s going to hold on.  So I‘m going to bet that he‘s going to hold on.

CARLSON:  He is the most sanctimonious person!  He is a cyclone of sanctimony!

STODDARD:  Tucker!

CARLSON:  I just—I‘ll be glad to stop hearing him.  Anyway, thank you both.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think his voters think so.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Apparently not!  Mike Barnicle, A.B. Stoddard, thank you both.

BARNICLE:  Tucker, thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up: Joe Lieberman‘s in the battle of his political life, and it all comes down to the war in Iraq.  That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  What is it about the race for attorney general in New York state?  It‘s a contest that in any other state would hardly rate martial headlines, but in New York, it pits some pretty famous Democrats, Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green, against each other.  The winner of that contest will face Republican Jeanine Pirro, who last year bowed out of the Senate race against Hillary Clinton.

Joining me now from New York, Jeanine Pirro.  She‘s a Republican candidate for state attorney general.  Jeanine Pirro, thanks a lot for joining me.

JEANINE PIRRO, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: 

It‘s nice to be here, Tucker.  How are you?

CARLSON:  I‘m doing great.  We just—how are you, is the question. 

We just walked to Katrina McFarland, who‘s taking on Mrs. Clinton in the fall.  What do you think her odds are of winning?  Are you going to vote for her?  And do you miss being in that position?

PIRRO:  Well, you know what?  This race for attorney general is a perfect fit for me, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Right.

PIRRO:  I‘ve been a prosecutor, a judge and a DA for 30 years.  This is the kind of work that I‘ve done day in and day out as DA that is front and center in the attorney general‘s race.  And New Yorkers are very concerned about the issues that I‘ve addressed for so many decades, and that is, they‘re worried about the Medicaid fraud, Tucker, that causes their properly taxes to go through the roof.

CARLSON:  Right.

PIRRO:  They‘re worried about sexual predators and...

CARLSON:  Well, they‘re probably worried about Hillary Clinton, too, at least the ones I know, the sensible ones.  Are you worried about Hillary Clinton?

PIRRO:  You know what?  I‘m worried about my own race, Tucker.  I‘m in a race to run...

CARLSON:  Yes, but wait!  No, no!

PIRRO:  ... to be the first...

CARLSON:  It‘s more than that.  You‘re more than...

PIRRO:  ... woman attorney...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But you‘re more—I think you‘re selling yourself short, Jeanine.  You‘re more than just a candidate for attorney general, you‘re a citizen not just of the world but of New York.  You have to live under the Hillary Clinton regime, and you were upset about it enough to want to run against her.  So are you still upset?  And are you going to vote for Hillary in the fall?  It sounds like maybe you are.

PIRRO:  What I intend to do, Tucker, to focus on my race and talk to as many New Yorkers as I can to discuss the issues that are important to them.  The politics of politics is not what this race is about.

CARLSON:  Right.

PIRRO:  And you know, law enforcement is not about Republican or Democrat.  You know, it‘s not about...

CARLSON:  Oh, I don‘t know about that!

PIRRO:  Law enforcement is about following the law and enforcing the law, Tucker.  Come on!

CARLSON:  Well, in your state...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... it‘s very much about politics.  I mean, take a look at your current attorney general, who‘s spent his time in that office preparing for his next office, that of governor, which he‘s going to unfortunately achieve.  What—how do you rate that, Eliot Spitzer, the man you hope to replace?

PIRRO:  Well...

CARLSON:  Do you think he‘s done a good job as attorney general?

PIRRO:  I think that Eliot Spitzer has done things that needed to be done, but I also think, Tucker, that every attorney general puts his, or in my case her, own imprimatur on that office.

You know, I started one of the first domestic violence units in the nation, Tucker, in the ‘70s, when no one was talking about battered woman.  I will go into that office using the same skill set that Eliot had, and that is an experienced prosecutor.

CARLSON:  Wait~!  So wait.  I just want to make sure I got this right.  Eliot Spitzer, who I think any fair-minded person would say abused the power of his office for the sake of his own political career—you are saying that his track record is one you hope to emulate?  Is that what you‘re saying?

PIRRO:  I...

CARLSON:  You don‘t repudiate...

PIRRO:  Tucker, that‘s not...

CARLSON:  ... the excesses of the Spitzer era?

PIRRO:  That‘s not what I said, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Oh, OK.

PIRRO:  What I said was that using the skill set of a prosecutor—and I‘ve been a judge and a DA for 30 years—we know how to look for fraud and corruption.  My priorities are clear, protecting New Yorkers‘ pocketbooks and their families.  It‘s not about politics.

CARLSON:  Well, but it‘s also about...

PIRRO:  It‘s about enforcing...

CARLSON:  ... protecting New Yorkers from Mark Green, who‘s been beaten by virtually everyone I know.  Do you think you can beat Mark Green?  Let‘s say he gets it, if he beats Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.  I mean, you wouldn‘t want to lose to Mark Green, would you?

PIRRO:  Well, look, I think that New Yorkers are smart.  I‘ve been elected and reelected four times in this state, or in Westchester County, where I‘m from.  And I think New Yorkers are going to look at the experience and the qualifications and decide who can hit the ground running, who can make a difference in their lives, and who has a record of results of fighting for New Yorkers.

CARLSON:  It is true that you turned down a pretty—or very high-paid TV gig as one of these TV judges to run for office?

PIRRO:  You know what?  I have been in criminal justice, Tucker, for 30 years.  This is my life.  I love the law.  I want to be the top law enforcement officer in New York state, the top lawyer.  It is a perfect fit for someone with my experience, and I‘m hoping that New Yorkers—and I traverse this state every day—agree with me.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  You‘re a good question non-answerer, I have to say!  You do it without—without making me mad, which is pretty hard.  You do a nice job.

PIRRO:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Jeanine, thanks a lot for coming on.

Still to come: The GOP is hoping that black Republican candidates will save  their party.  Some observers say those candidates are being set up to fail.  that story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back to MSNBC‘s Decision 2006 “Battleground America.”  The turnout in Pennsylvania where one of three hot congressional races is in that state‘s 8th district.  Last hour NBC‘s Lisa Daniels spoke to republican incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.  We go now to Philadelphia where Lisa is joined by the democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.  Lisa?  

LISA DANIELS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi Tucker, that‘s right, Patrick Murphy‘s standing right next to me, so let‘s launch right into it.  It has been said of your strategy that your tactic is to lump your opponent in with the republicans and make this more of a battle between republicans and democrats rather than you and Congressman Fitzpatrick.  Is that fair?  

PATRICK MURPHY, (D) CANDIDATE 8TH DISTRICT PA:  Well the record speaks for itself Lisa.  I mean the fact is Mike Fitzpatrick, my opponent, is with the president when it comes to Iraq, embryonic stem cell research and not allowing the promise of it.  When it comes to fiscal irresponsibility, all the major issues along with President Bush.  The ones that are tight where the president needs him, he‘s there. 

DANIELS:  So do you feel that your opponent should be held accountable for the perceived  failures of President Bush? Is it fair to hold him accountable?

MURPHY:  Absolutely, we have a checks and balances in our country for a reason.  I used to teach it when I was at West Point.  That‘s why we have three branches of government.  When you have a republican congress, a republican president, republican appointed Supreme Court, there are no checks and balances, it becomes an echo chamber and that‘s why we need change right now in America and that‘s what I plan to do November 7th.  

DANIELS:  You served in the Iraq war, you were there, you saw firsthand what happened.  Do you think that makes you more qualified to speak about strategy in Iraq and the war in general than Congressman Fitzpatrick?

MURPHY:  Without a doubt.  I am a witness to our foreign policy.  Not only was I there as a captain with the 82nd airborne division, but as a former professor at West Point. When you look at it from an academic setting and I‘ve seen what needs to be done.  You know I talk about how we need a 12-month timeline to bring our troops home.  In the military Lisa you know, we have timelines for everything.  We have a timeline for elections over there, to pass their constitution, we needed a timeline to bring our troops home and let the Iraqis stand up and fight for democracy which is long overdue. 

DANIELS:  Take a step back and let me bring you forward, let‘s go in this time machine for a moment.  If the 6th, 7th and 8th congressional districts in Pennsylvania lose to the republicans, stays republican, do you think that this reflects on the Democratic Party.  And the reason I ask you that is because a lot of people say hey, if you‘re not winning this time around, the democrats are doomed? 

MURPHY:  Well, I‘m an optimist and there is a lot of reason to hope.  I can tell you right now, I can only speak about my foxhole here in the 8th district of Pennsylvania.  And the folks and the families in Bucks County northeast Philadelphia, they know that change is in the air.  And they know that we‘re going to be victorious November 7th.  We have just 62 days away to bring that change and make it become a reality.  I can‘t talk about a national strategy, I‘m proud to be a democrat and I‘m proud to be the next congressman in the 8th congressional district. 

DANIELS:  But are you the anti-Bush candidate or are you the candidate for a new type of Pennsylvania and country?

MURPHY:  I‘d say a new type of democrat in this country.  President Bush is my president too.  You know I took an oath to support and defend the constitution.  I served under him when he was commander in chief.  But the fact is this, that our congress needs a change.  Our congress and our country needs a change in direction and I‘m willing to stand up against the president if need be to bring about that change, especially when we talk about the tough issues that we‘re dealing with, the war in Iraq, the overall homeland security.  You know my wife right down the road here takes a train in here every morning, mass transit. There is nothing from stopping a terrorist from going and hurting her or other innocent civilians.  Al Qaeda did it in London, England, they did it in India, they‘ve done it in Madrid, Spain, and our own 9/11 commission said that we‘re less safe today than we were before 9/11.  That‘s why we need a change of direction, we need to implement those recommendations, we need a timeline in Iraq and we need to win the war on terror and secure our homeland.  

DANIELS:  All right Patrick Murphy.  Thanks so much for being here. 

We really appreciate it.

MURPHY:  Thank you.

DANIELS:  And I think Tucker the one thing that both candidates from both sides of the aisle will agree on is that a lot of people are going to be watching this race and the 6th and the 7th districts very carefully because the country really depends on—in terms of  democrats and republicans which way it‘s going to flip.  

CARLSON:  I‘ve covered a number of races, House races in Pennsylvania, I mean some of them are literally settled by dozens of votes.  It‘s an amazing state.  But thanks a lot Lisa, I appreciate it.  NBC‘s Lisa Daniels.  Let‘s take now a look at some of the other political raises that will be making headlines just a few weeks from now.  Here to talk about some of the issues that will make or break candidates throughout this country are, republican strategist Frank Donatelli, democratic strategist Kiki McLean, joining us both from Washington.  Thank you both.

Let‘s start with the war in Iraq and how it will affect some of the races, particularly the one in Connecticut.  Frank, why would republicans support Joe Lieberman and are they?  Is it true that republicans are funneling money to Lieberman‘s independent bid for senate there?

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Tucker a lot of republicans that I talk to are supporters of Senator Lieberman.  I like Senator Lieberman very much.  It‘s really not that tough a choice when you have a democrat and admittedly they‘re rarer and rarer in the United States Senate that really understand the stakes and the war on terror against somebody who‘s far to the left and the real heir to George McGovern in the democratic party.  I think to most republicans that‘s an easy choice and I would choose Senator Lieberman.  

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty interesting Kiki, you have to admit.  I mean I am not a backer or a great fan of Senator Lieberman, I don‘t like his position on the war.  But you have to admit, that is a pretty principled thing for republicans to do.  I mean a lot of them support the war in Iraq so they‘re supporting Lieberman, even though he‘s honestly a liberal democrat on most issues.  

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well you have to remember and I used to work for Senator Lieberman.

CARLSON:  Yes I know.

MCLEAN:  I was his spokesperson at one point.  And what you find when you look at somebody like Joe Lieberman is real leadership.  And it is rare historically when you look at the books, those people who really rise to a level of renowned leadership are people who take support from both sides.  Rarely do you have a solely partisan leader.  Even Bill Clinton got support from both sides.  The great leaders in our country‘s history have found support on both sides and I think that‘s the demonstration of -- 

CARLSON:  You would know this Kiki, is Lieberman now getting support from  democrats?  I hear democrats furious at him for daring to run as an independent.

MCLEAN:  I think there are some democrats who are mad at him.

CARLSON:  Who‘s supporting him on the democratic side?

MCLEAN:  Well I think there are clearly 48 percent of democrats who voted for him in the primary so a lot of democrats voted for him less than a month ago and I suspect a lot of them will vote for him again.  It‘s been a controversial and painful time for democrats to figure out where they are and what they want in that race.  And I think what you‘re finding now is that Senator Lieberman has decided his leadership and put it to a test statewide.  And it‘s not a big conspiracy, it‘s not anything fancier than that.  He said it very plainly in that race.  

DONATELLI:  Isn‘t that the problem with democrats Kiki, is that they‘re so exclusivist that there is only a certain narrow band of Yale alumni that could possibly be for the official democrat ---  he was your standard bearer in 2000 and you‘ve kicked him out of the party? 

MCLEAN:  Frank I think this is a unique political situation.  I think republicans like Frank would like to say that around the rest of the country because their odds are not looking so great.  I think this is a unique set of circumstances to a unique position.  

CARLSON:  Well Frank, one thing that Kiki said—I think we would all agree is correct is that the odds aren‘t looking great for republicans and given that, I wonder why the White House has chosen to de-emphasize the issue of illegal immigration which really, in my view above all others, will motivate base voters to get out and vote.  Which is what the republicans so desperately need.  Why in the world is the White House running away from that issue?

DONATELLI:  Well, remember, that the White House doesn‘t set the entire agenda. 

CARLSON:  I know that‘s right, no that‘s true.  

DONATELLI:  And you see individual members of congress and especially in the House Tucker that feel like that‘s a good issue for them, are emphasizing it.  Candidates in close races that feel like they need to energize the republican base will talk about it.  Republicans who are in Border States will be talking about it.

CARLSON:  Like Brian Bilbrey in San Diego.

DONATELLI:  Absolutely.  So I think it‘s more of a selective issue. 

I don‘t think it‘s an issue that cuts across the board.  

MCLEAN:  Well here‘s one of the things I think that probably went on in a conversation somewhere in the White House.  And that was, well, we can‘t take our team running away from us on one more issue.  And if we stand up on immigration the way our base wants us to, they‘re not going to be with us, it‘s not a position we believe in, they‘re not going to be with us and George Bush doesn‘t have anymore blood to give, he‘s bled out.  He has no political capital to help his folks.  They don‘t want him in their districts on any issue, let alone immigration which they just don‘t agree. 

CARLSON:  Well one of the reasons they don‘t want him is because his position is contrary to their position.  It‘s such a gimmick.  Bush could get out there tomorrow and say look, I care about protecting this country, that‘s the central charge of my administration, in order to do that we have to secure our borders.  I mean it‘s so obvious, I mean I could write this in my sleep.  Why isn‘t he doing this? 

MCLEAN:  Tucker, it is the one issue in which George Bush has been an appropriately moderate leader on.  And the reality is the far right wing and the -- 

CARLSON:  He‘s screaming liberal, not moderate, nothing moderate about it.

MCLEAN:  And the republican base don‘t agree with him on it.  And you know what, he doesn‘t have the political capital to bring anyone over to his side the way Bill Clinton did when he talked about welfare reform. The way Bill Clinton did when he talked about balanced budgets and brought democrats to a place of real leadership on that.  George Bush doesn‘t have that capital.  

CARLSON:  Kiki, there are so many things in what you said that are, I don‘t think maybe a little misleading.  I mean the fact is that Bill Clinton was dealing a lot of the time with a divided government.  

MCLEAN:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  I mean he did not control congress, so I mean, you know, you have to kind of reach compromise when you‘re not in control.  

MCLEAN:  Ok, so wait a minute, so George Bush has congress under his control and he can‘t make anything happen, that‘s even worse.  

CARLSON:  Hey look, I agree with it.  Now tell me this Frank -- 

MCLEAN:  I mean it‘s just a wipe out.  

CARLSON:  We‘ve heard talk again this cycle, you‘ve been around politics many, many, many years so you‘ve heard this many, many, many times.  But about—

MCLEAN:  Many, many more than me. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, and me too.  But you‘re talking about black voters leaving the Democratic Party, breaking that generation‘s old allegiance of the Democratic Party and coming to the republican side, these people like Michael Steele, Lynn Swann, black candidates out there.  Is this real do you think this time around?

DONATELLI:  Well we hope so and I can tell you that the party establishment is giving all out support to these black candidates you‘ve talked about.  I know President Bush has gone to Pennsylvania for Lynn Swann.  I was personally part of a fundraiser for Michael Steele that majority leader Bill Frist came to.  But it‘s unhealthy and it‘s unnatural for black voters to be associated with only one political party.  And I think especially the young up and coming black leaders realize that they‘ve painted themselves into the corner.  Republicans don‘t seriously contend for their votes and let‘s face it, democrats take them for granted.  When a white democrat gets the nomination they very seldom seek black support after that.  So it‘s a good thing for the country if black voters begin to move more toward the center and at least be open to republican ideas. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, I mean, its diversity, but wait, do democrats in every single case Kiki, and you know that this is true, I‘m not accusing you but there are some who you and I both know, consultants, who always, always basically throw up the charge of race traitor.  You know you‘re an Uncle Tom, its Gary Franks, J.C. Watts, Michael Steele, you name the black republican and he‘s faced that charge, that‘s awful. 

MCLEAN:  But here‘s the thing. The one thing that Frank said that‘s absolutely dead wrong is that democrats always when they get the nomination don‘t do anything with the black vote.  Frank is right when he says no one should take any vote for granted.  And the reality is the African-American community like every other community is going to vote what they believe is in their best interest and the candidate who makes the best case.  Republicans for once have a couple of candidates that are pretty darned attractive and are really working to make their case.  We‘ve also got attractive candidates in the Democratic Party at top tier offices, Harold Ford, Jr., Kweisi Mfume is in a primary right now in Maryland.  We‘ve got terrific candidates and you know what, it is healthier for all of democracy when we see more people of color engaged at bigger and higher levels across the board.  

CARLSON:  That‘s actual diversity. Give me, very quickly to wind up, I‘m interested in the Harold Ford race, I think he‘s a very nice guy, you know he‘s a great guy.  Anybody who‘s ever dealt with him, I‘m not sure he‘s bold enough though, I don‘t know.  What do you think, Kiki give me your honest assessment, can he win?

MCLEAN:  I‘m married to a Tennessean, a guy who grew up on a farm in West Tennessee.  And I will tell you that a lot of our family in Tennessee believes that there is a chance that Harold Ford, Jr. will win this. And you know why, because when you say he‘s not bold enough, that‘s just not true.  Harold Ford, Jr. is a new democrat who is willing to break policy and ideas ground in places other democrats weren‘t.  And that really speaks to his favor in the long haul.  

CARLSON:  Frank, give me in two sentences, do you think he can win?

DONATELLI:  Harold Ford is a very fine individual who will fall short in Tennessee.  Bob Corker will win that race.

CARLSON:  All right.  Thank you both very much.  Frank Donatelli, Kiki McLean, thank you.

MCLEAN:  Thank you Tucker.

CARLSON:  Well there are a number of tight races across the country where a pesky third party candidate could make the difference between winning and losing for a democrat or a republican.  And in every case it drives the main parties crazy.  My next guest is causing a lot of trouble in Pennsylvania in the senate race there where Rick Santorum is defending his seat against democratic challenger Bob Casey.  In fact, democrats there are trying to get him off the ballot so annoying is he.  He is green party candidate Carl Romanelli and he joins me from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  Carl thanks a lot for coming on.  So the democrats don‘t even want you to have the right to be on the ballot, they want voters to have the choice of whether to vote for you or not, is that—am I hearing that correctly? 

CARL ROMANELLI, PA GREEN PARTY SENATE CANDIDATE:  You are hearing that correctly and they‘re spending a lot of money, they have a team of lawyers coming after me and I continue to beat them back.  I believe that I have the best vision for this country of the three men running for the United States Senate and if voters are happy with the direction the country‘s been moving in with this administration and with congress, then Rick Santorum is your candidate.  If you‘re unhappy with that situation, I believe I have the comprehensive vision for America, not a candidate like Bob Casey who wears the democratic shirt and has the Santorum like votes.  There is just something inherently more honest -- 

CARLSON:  He‘s never served in the United States Senate, so it‘s impossible to compare the two.  Hold on here.  Here you have a democrat possibly, if the vote were held today, all polls indicate he would beat an incumbent, a strong incumbent republican.  This is a big, big deal.  This is something the democrats don‘t do every day.  You can see why your fellow liberals would be pretty mad at you about getting in the way.  What‘s so bad about Bob Casey?

ROMANELLI:  Well, I just think that I‘m the better candidate and look at this exercise Mr.   Casey is putting us through in Harrisburg.  If he was really confident in his vision for America, he would be willing to debate.  We‘re talking about the United States Senate Tucker, the world‘s greatest deliberative body and a man who refuses to debate.  At least I am committed to the principals and the vision that I have for this country and I want to talk about those issues.  And I believe on the key important issues in this race that I am an alternative to Mr. Santorum and that Mr.  Casey is very much like him, issues-wise and as previous guests were talking about, the democrats continue to take their base for granted. 

CARLSON:  I remember Ralph Nader the times that he ran was yelled at in grocery stores, assaulted in Starbucks, he come to the green room to do a TV show and the cameramen would be mad at him.  I mean many, many democrats were furious at him because they thought he siphoned votes away from the democrat a couple times.  Are you taking abuse from democrats because of this?

ROMANELLI:  Oh yeah, I get about 50 nasty emails a day and some people are really upset about my candidacy.  But on the other hand, when I get out and reach voters, many are very excited about this candidacy.  They like my vision for America and they like the fact that I am standing up to the bullying of a very difficult system for an independent voice to crack. 

CARLSON:  Certainly is.  So who—tell me just—we‘re almost out of time but our viewers I think want shorthand for where you stand on the issues.  Who did you vote for in the last two presidential elections? 

ROMANELLI:  Ralph Nader.  

CARLSON:  In both? 

ROMANELLI:  In both, I wrote him in, in Pennsylvania last time.  My son and I were the only people in my ward that did that.  But again, we were outraged at the obstruction in keeping the man from bringing his issues to the debate.  Isn‘t that what America is supposed to be about Tucker?  

CARLSON:  You know what, I don‘t agree with probably anything you believe in but I certainly respect your point of view on that.  Carl Romanelli, a true believer, thanks a lot for coming on.  

ROMANELLI:  Thank you for having me Tucker.  

CARLSON:  My pleasure.  Well your worst nightmare is about to become a reality at least if you‘re a conservative.  The faces of the Democratic Party about to become the faces of the nation. Does that make you feel better about the direction of the country?  We‘ll discuss what may happen to America come the midterm election.  There she is, Nancy Pelosi, we‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back to our special coverage of Decision 2006, Battleground America.  Ok, let‘s assume the democrats will control congress in November and it certainly looks that way now.  Now let‘s imagine a world where people like Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers hold the future of our nation in their hands.  Here to help us ponder that terrifying probability, our old pal from Air America radio, Rachel Maddow joining us from New York.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST:  Hi Tucker, nice to see you.  

CARLSON:  Great to see you.  What‘s the first thing apart from nationalizing the railroads and passing the transgender amendment, democrats are going to do when they take power?

MADDOW:  I mean there is a lot to get to right away.  We have to make everybody get gay married, and we have to ban the bible and we have to send you to Guantanamo.  After we get rid of the first tier of order of business, I mean, you know, the—

CARLSON:  There are going to be some subpoenas headed to the White House, aren‘t there?  I mean let‘s be honest.

MADDOW:   Maybe there will be.  I mean it‘s possible that democrats will take both houses.  It‘s likely I think that they‘ll take one house.  That‘s not such a crazy situation.  I mean since Bush has been president there was a period of time when the democrats controlled the senate and the world didn‘t end.  It‘s not like the entire country or even our entire political system will change.  I don‘t think you should expect a dramatic change in governing. 

CARLSON:  No I don‘t.  And it‘ll still be, I mean look, one thing republicans have sort of learned and should have learned a long time ago, is it‘s very hard to govern with a small majority and democrats will have to face the same problem.  And everybody knows the drill.  But the subpoena power I believe is a big deal and there is quite a bit of pent up frustration on the left, certainly on the activist left.  People are really mad at Bush, which is one of the reasons republicans are about to eat it in the midterm.  So, I‘m serious, there are going to be investigations instigated by House democrats.  Will there not be?

MADDOW:  Well I mean, it‘s possible that there will be, I can‘t say that there will or won‘t with any certainty.  But, I do think that you have to consider what it is that democrats are running on.  Democrats are running right now trying to make this a referendum on the incumbent congress.  They know that if they do get one or two houses of the congress, that it‘s basically an audition for winning the White House back in 2008.  So they‘re going to do everything they can to draw a line to make a distinction between what the incumbent Republican Congress has done and what they have done.  And so they‘ll try to make a real clear break with the previous congress whatever way they can.  That might be subpoenas, I think it‘s more likely to be stuff like raising the minimum wage and trying to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations and some more (INAUDIBLE) and stuff like that.

CARLSON:  So I mean in 1994 the last time there was a dramatic turnover—and look, we don‘t know what‘s going to happen in two months.  But again, I think everybody on both sides expects democrats to do well.  But the last time this happened the republicans had this battle plan and this list of promises, the contract with America and you know the first, whatever, 100 days we‘re going to do this, this and the other thing.  Are democrats going to roll one out? You just mentioned the minimum wage, 9/11 commission recommendations, whatever those were. Is that it, or anything else? 

MADDOW:  Well the awkward thing about the legacy and the analogy of the contract for America history is that the republicans didn‘t actually do any of those things they said they were going to do.  They didn‘t keep any of those promises.   

CARLSON:  No actually they did, I mean some of them, maybe you could say that some of them weren‘t worth doing, I mean there were a lot of procedural changes.  But they actually did do them and whether they made a difference is another question.  Are democrats going to promise to do something in the first 100 days specific, do you think?

MADDOW:  Well, I mean, it depends on how big their majority is, it depends on whether they get both houses of Congress.  But I do think you should watch for a rise in minimum wage, at least trying to get that.  I think you should watch for a rise in gas mileage standards.  I think they will try to get that and try to make that into a national security dependence on foreign oil issue.  I think you should watch for trying to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations, and that means some very specific national security stuff.  Some pet issues of the democrats on national security are trying to get shoulder fired missiles off the markets around the country, trying to deal with chemical security, which is chemical plant security which is still not regulated at all.  I mean they‘ve made some promises about those 9/11 commission recommendations that are very sensitive.

CARLSON:  And give me just in 20 seconds, Howard Dean all of a sudden will be in control of an actual governing party.  Even you‘re upset by that possibility, are you not, let‘s be honest? 

MADDOW:  I mean who‘s scarier, Ken Mehlman or Howard Dean?  They‘re both boogie men.  Anybody standing in the middle of the country looking at both those guys has to be equally scared by both of them.  I mean Dean has been made into this boogie man, everybody tries to make his—I always scream, his whole legacy politically. But Ken Mehlman is kind of frightening too.  I mean these guys end up running a political party they don‘t end up running the country.

CARLSON:  Rachel Maddow, who will end up running the country should the democrats win.  So keep that in mind America.  Thank you Rachel, I appreciate it.

MADDOW:  Thank you Tucker, I‘ll be sending you to Guantanamo when I am in charge.  

CARLSON:  Our coverage of “Battleground America” continues in just a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  We‘re back at 6 p.m. Eastern, where we‘ll talk to California Senator Barbara Boxer.  Thanks for watching up next.  Up next, continued “Battleground America” coverage on HARDBALL with Chris.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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