updated 9/15/2006 12:58:55 PM ET 2006-09-15T16:58:55

Guests: Matthew Dowd, Douglas Sosnik, Keith Ellison, C.C. Goldwater, Ben Cardin, Chris Cillizza, Norah O‘Donnell

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  A Muslim runs for Congress.  Barry Goldwater‘s granddaughter tells his story.  Republicans stand up to Bush on terrorist torture, and George Clooney joins us.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  More hell and violence in Iraq today.  Two American soldiers are dead and 25 others wounded after a suicide bombing in Baghdad.  Two other U.S. soldiers were killed today, one after a small arms fire attack, and another in a roadside bombing.  A fifth soldier died yesterday. 

Americans are still getting killed in Iraq at a consistent pace.  It all comes on the heels of the president‘s two-day commemoration of 9/11 and the president‘s renewed fight for harsh interrogation tactics for terrorists.  Can the president succeed in making Americans focus less on the carnage in Iraq and more on the dangers of terrorism at home? 

Will tough talk on terrorism remind Americans why they liked George Bush just after 9/11, or will Americans blame Bush for blundering into Iraq?  Today the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by John McCain, overrode the president‘s objections, insisting that terror suspects be given Geneva Convention protections. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster joins us right now.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, this is setting up huge showdown in the Senate next week.  The president, ironically, is getting the focus that he wants on Capitol Hill and that is a discussion about terror as opposed to any discussion about Iraq.  But what he has now is that the debate is not going his way. 

The president wants things like allowing evidence to be used against defendants, evidence that was obtained under coercion.  He wants prosecutors to not have to share certain evidence with defendants but now you have Republicans saying no, we want this more in line with the Geneva Conventions. 

And even today, Republicans got some much needed—a huge boost from former Secretary of State Colin Powell who said he agreed with them, he disagreed with the White House. 

And now you have the former Secretary of State Powell, the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice going at each other in a series of dueling letters, and all of this a debate that the president—he doesn‘t want this debate, even though he wants the issue in front of the American voters at least for a little while. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s an important point, I think, that you made there that John Warner, who‘s fought in World War II and was Navy secretary for several years and, of course, John McCain who was a POW himself in Vietnam at the notorious Hanoi Hilton, and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina who was a member of the Judge Advocates Corps, all with that strong military background, all leading the charge against the president. 

And, by the way, I have got a poll out.  We just—you have seen it, David.  It says that the majority of the American people don‘t like the way the president wants to treat the prisoners.  They do want to see, apparently, Geneva Conventions honored. 

SHUSTER:  Well, and the interesting thing about this, Chris, is that there you have the White House who believes that this is a political winner.  If the American people were focused on terror, this is good politics for Republicans but you have just enough Republicans in the Senate who see this as a very serious issue that the United States standing around the world is too important to leave to politics. 

So they are using this as an opportunity to say, wait a second, we should solve the Geneva Conventions.  And that‘s not the debate the Bush administration wants. 

MATTHEWS:  I have a sense that people who don‘t really have a strong view about the war in Iraq one way or another don‘t like the idea of the United States, our country, losing the moral high ground.  They believe we are the good guys and they don‘t think good guys torture.  That‘s just my hunch. 

SHUSTER:  I think that‘s absolutely right.  And, Chris, one other thing that‘s also playing out on Capitol Hill against all of this, and that is we talked last night about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. 

again, Democrats are not being afforded the opportunity they want to score some political points using Rumsfeld.  There have been a number of reports the last couple of days that U.S. military readiness is down, that troop strength is not quite as good as it was in terms of troops being ready. 

Democrats are trying to use these hearings and these reports as a vehicle to pass a resolution demanding that Donald Rumsfeld be fired.  Republicans who don‘t want Rumsfeld to be part of the debate are keeping this resolution away from the floor, leaving Democrats to have to fight on other issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the public is paying attention.  Thank you very much, David Shuster. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re hear with Republican strategist Matt Dowd and Democratic advisor Doug Sosnik.  They‘re co-authors, believe it or not, of a new book, “Applebee‘s America: How Successful Political Business and Religious Leaders Can Act With the New American Community.” 

Let me ask you how they divide before we start talking about connecting here, Matt.  It seems to me the president wants to talk about 9/11 and terrorism right through the election.  The Democrats want to try to move the cameras back into Iraq, to the hell over there, 60 people being killed a month, 65 last month, the killing goes on of Americans, 50,000 dead over there in that country. 

And yet, the media seems to be following the president around with a camera, what does he want to talk about today.  Is that the game for the Republican side, have the president keep the cameras on him at home rather than Iraq? 

MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR BUSH-CHENEY ‘04:  Well, I think the president and Republicans are going to talk about both.  They‘re going to talk about terrorism.  They‘re going to talk about Iraq and why Iraq has to do with the war on terrorism.  I think that‘s what‘s going to both go on. 

And I think right now there is a focus because of the anniversary of 9/11 on 9/11, but ultimately it‘s going to be about both. 

MATTHEWS:  And the president is going to be out there defending the carnage in Iraq. 

DOWD:  He‘s going to be out there defending the decision, why we went to Iraq and why that helps in the war on terror. 

MATTHEWS:  Doug, that Iraq story—every time we look at a poll, especially the NBC polling, Iraq is a killer for the president.  People don‘t like this war.  They think it was a mistake.  How come the Democrats aren‘t better at grabbing that issue and keeping it on the front page? 

DOUGLAS SOSNIK, FMR. ADVISOR TO PRES. CLINTON:  Well, we are prepared to talk about terrorism, we‘re prepared to talk about Iraq, and we‘re also prepared to talk about what is happening back home here in America that‘s not getting done.

MATTHEWS:  What do you most want to talk about?

SOSNIK:  I think we are prepared to talk about all three. 

MATTHEWS:  But you don‘t have a favorite?  You don‘t know whether winning—the bad news about the war in Iraq or your economic positions are your strongest? 

SOSNIK:  I think the American public can handle all three and, in fact, they expect the leadership of this country to be working on all three. 

DOWD:  I agree with that.  I think the American public expects us to talk about all three, and what the Democrats have to offer as opposed to what the president wants to offer. 

SOSNIK:  And I think that‘s something we‘re looking forward to do then.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about how precisely people are looking at things.  We have got a new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll that shows that 51 to 41, a hard majority of the people don‘t—and I was surprised by this—don‘t like the president‘s plan of bringing these killers back from wherever they have been hiding back to Guantanamo for trial here in a military-style trial unless they are given access to evidence, Geneva Convention rules, et cetera. 

And then today we saw the three Republicans led by John Warner, John McCain decide to go with the Democrats—you are shaking your head—and say, yes, we want these rights for the prisoners. 

SOSNIK:  Well, the reality is that the polling has been very stable for a year since Katrina.  And I think the numbers you just cited are consistent with the dissatisfaction of this country, with the direction of this country under George Bush and the Republican Congress.  And every time you ask a different kind of question, you come up with the same numbers because it‘s—people are ready for a change. 

MATTHEWS:  But on this particular question, are you surprised the American people want to make sure that we treat our prisoners according to the standard rules of POWs?  Are you surprised that people are that insistent on that issue?

SOSNIK:  I think the American public has a basic sense of fairness, and also believes with fairness you can get to the bottom of who‘s done what and be able to persecute them. 

DOWD:  I think the American public thinks that you can be able to prosecute terrorists and help the country from terrorism, as well as making sure that we are humane about it.  And I think that‘s what the president has tried to do.  Obviously, the leadership and the Senate and members of the Senate have disagreed with that, but that‘s what they‘re elected to do.  They‘re elected to do that.

MATHEWS:  Are you proud of a president who says that we shouldn‘t use the Geneva Convention? 

DOWD:  I‘m proud of the president who wants to make sure the country is safe from terrorism and tries to weigh that with all the things, the Constitution, with everything that we have.  But, again, that‘s what leaders do, and if he loses political points for it, so be it.  He‘s said that before, and if the Senate disagrees with him on that, he has to make a decision which he thinks is in the best interest of the country. 

SOSNIK:  And I think why you are so surprised by this is the fact for the last six years, this Congress has basically given this president a blank check. 

MATTHEWS:  Until now. 

SOSNIK:  Until now.  They have given him a free ride, and I think they understand now the price that they are playing politically for doing that.  And that‘s why you finally have seen them, after six years, begin to wake up.   

DOWD:  Well, I think there is many people in the administration who would think that this Congress hasn‘t given him a free ride, that he has had to fight for many things and push many things. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I wonder about the Democrats.  I see organizations like we showed last night, MoveOn.org, and they‘re tough on the president.  They say he gave us bad information that got us into war in Iraq and we shouldn‘t be there. 

The Democrats—well, they seem a little bit intimidated by that.  They are not quite willing to say the president was wrong in taking us into Iraq.  They say it hasn‘t been quite handled well.  Why are the Democrats squeamish on this front? 

SOSNIK:  I don‘t think we are squeamish. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you just say it was a bad decision to go to Iraq? 

SOSNIK:  I think a lot of people in the party believe it was a bad decision.  I think they all agree, as well, no matter how they voted before that we have no strategy going forward.  We have no definition of what it means for victory.  We have no deadline.

MATTHEWS:  Do you have a Democratic definition? 

SOSNIK:  We think we ought to be transitioning right now, our strategy going forward so that going forward we have a plan for victory and a plan for us to get out. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your plan? 

SOSNIK:  Well, we lined up behind -- 38 Democratic senators lined up behind Reid and Levin and laid out the 9/11 Commission recommendations to be ratified, talked about more security for ports ... 


MATTHEWS:  What‘s this have to do with Iraq?  What is your plan for Iraq?  I‘m sorry.  I‘m asking what is your plan for ending the war in Iraq on favorable terms? 

SOSNIK:  We need to give people deadlines there.  Anything that‘s happened in Iraq up to now, whether at parliament, constitution, elections, all were built on a deadline.  They need to take control over their destiny. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Democrats should say we are not going to be there more than two more years, the minute Bush is out?  If we are in, the war is over?  Are there Democrats willing to commit that this war won‘t last two more years? 

SOSNIK:  I don‘t think—most Democrats will not put a hard deadline on it. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not?

SOSNIK:  Because I think we need to be able to have a strategy going forward about pinning down right now precisely. 

MATTHEWS:  You know the war is almost longer than World War II now. 

We are catching up.  That you know, don‘t you? 

DOWD:  Well, I think the war on terrorism is going to last a lot longer than World War II. 

MATTHEWS:  No, we‘re talking about Iraq.  We are talking about Iraq.

DOWD:  Well, Iraq is part of that.

MATTHEWS:  I know you like to shift away, but let me ask you about Dick Cheney.  I you salute you.  You‘ve got the toughest, smartest politician in the country on your side, because this weekend—well, we already know there was no WMD. 

This weekend, he said there was no link to 9/11, and by the way, I was surprised there was a war over there.  I have never heard a leader in any country saying I‘m surprised I got us into a war.  I didn‘t think there would be a war and still says, but believe everything I say and don‘t get in my way or I‘ll question your patriotism.

This guy is so tough and then he comes off “Meet the Press,” he‘s a very impressive guy.  He‘s tough.

DOWD:  Dick Cheney, the vice president, he‘s a very impressive guy with a lot of knowledge, a lot of sense.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s pretty tough.  And yet he admits all the mistakes and still says I‘m right.

DOWD:  Obviously, look, the administration has admitted that in this process there has been mistakes that have been made.  Iraq hasn‘t gone according to what anybody thought it was going to go at the very beginning from this. 

I don‘t think that‘s the question today.  I think the question is everybody wants the troops to come home.  Everybody wants Iraq stabilized.  How do you get to that point?  The Democrats, by and large, want to end it now.  The Republicans and the president basically say we have to have a process to get there. 

SOSNIK:  I think he is the last guy in America who has admitted anything. 

MATTHEWS:  Dick Cheney? 

SOSNIK:  When I heard Dick Cheney this weekend finally say that mistakes were made, I knew that there was a recognition finally. 

MATTHEWS:  How about when he fouled up with the president, said there was no connection to 9/11, between 9/11, when he was up there for the reunion for two days, had nothing to do with Iraq, and he kept putting it in his speech?  Is there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11?  

DOWD:  There is a connection between Iraq and the war on terrorism. 

And there is a connection...

MATTHEWS:  What is that connection? 

DOWD:  That Iraq can be a central point in that war on terrorism.  And if we have...

MATTHEWS:  How did it come to be that?

DOWD:  ... a democracy in Iraq, if we have a democracy in Iraq, the Middle East will be a safer place. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk politics for a second.  The president is picking up in the polls, picked up a couple of points, but there‘s a real change in direction in the polling.  Wrong direction, right direction?  People are a little more happy with the way things are going right now.  If he keeps doing this, what he has been doing the last two weeks for the next eight weeks, he is going to be back to 50 percent.  Do you know that?  Fifty percent in the polls, which means he doesn‘t have to worry about losing the House anymore. 

SOSNIK:  Well, “The wall Street Journal” said slight bounce.  If you look at the poling for the last year and throw out a few upticks and a few downticks, his polling has basically been steady.  The American public has tuned him out, and I don‘t think you are going to see much change. 

MATTHEWS:  (inaudible) tune him out.  By the way, how do you win the undecided voter?  

DOWD:  How do you win the undecided voters?  Talking to them about what is in their hearts, about what‘s in the book, about what‘s in the hearts.

MATTHEWS:  This book is great on that, by the way, this book is great on figuring out how to move those undecideds.  Do you think there will be a third-party candidate this year? 

DOWD:  I think it is going to totally depend on who the parties nominate and whether or not (inaudible). 

MATTHEWS:  So there could be a third—there is an opening. 

DOWD:  There is a definite opening.

MATTHEWS:  Ross Perot or better. Doug, you believe this? 

SOSNIK:  I definitely agree with that.


MATTHEWS:  Your book says—did you read this book?  I‘m just kidding.  You both believe that there is an opening in these numbers, when you analyze them, for somebody to come down the middle.  If there is somebody on one side, Newt Gingrich on the other, there is a big opening you think that will be exploited?

SOSNIK:  There is a lot of dissatisfaction in this country with the current political class. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what the latest number is in our poll on satisfaction with Congress?  Do you know what it is? 

DOWD:  In the 20s?

MATTHEWS:  20.  Two-oh.  One in five.  Lowest it‘s ever been. 

DOWD:  Both parties‘ rating among the public, lowest level in 60 years. 


MATTHEWS:  Who‘s going to win the House this year?

DOWD:  I think it‘s still undecided.  I think Democrats are going to pick up, but I still think it‘s undecided. 

SOSNIK:  The Democrats I think will.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I think we are both in agreement.  Maybe the Democrats, maybe not. 

Anyway, thank you, Matt Dowd.  Thank you, Doug.  Good to see Democrat and Republican writing a book together. 

Coming up, there has never been a Muslim member of Congress.  Now, Minnesota voters might make history this November.  We‘ll talk to Democratic House candidate Keith Ellison.

And later, actor George Clooney, who is at the U.N. with his father Nick, they are speaking out about the crisis in Darfur.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Minnesota state legislator Keith Ellison won his district‘s Democratic primary for the U.S. Congress this Tuesday, and if he wins the general election this November, he will make history as the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. 

Mr. Ellison, welcome, and joins us.  Is there any significance in your religion or should we just ignore it? 

KEITH ELLISON (D-MN), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I think that the main purpose of the campaign has been to unite people around things that we all share.  I think what we have been trying to do is draw people from diverse sections of the community to support the campaign.  So ultimately, I didn‘t run as a Muslim.  I ran as a person to represent the Fifth Congressional District.  That‘s what I am going to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any more understanding as an American Muslim of what the anger is about, the resentment toward the Western part of the world is from Islam? 

ELLISON:  I don‘t think that there is anger from Islam toward the West.  I think there are certain individuals who have some angry positions, and they are expressing themselves, but I wouldn‘t say that Islam in general is hostile towards the West.  In fact, most of the Muslims I know are proud Americans and feel good about our people—the people of this country and just want to see—they may not agree with the Bush administration, but certainly are loyal to America. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, when we were hit on 9/11, and we just marked that horror this past weekend, one of the stories that grabbed everybody was there was some people in the Islamic world, certainly in Tehran, who were supportive of us, big demonstration on our behalf, maybe a million people.  But there were also people in the Palestinian territories who were out there hooting and hollering with delight at the thought of 3,000 Americans dying—you know, falling from hundred-story buildings and being burned alive.  And they were enjoying it publicly.  So there is hatred out there towards us, isn‘t there? 

ELLISON:  Well, there is hatred out there towards us, but it‘s not a matter of religion.  You know, it‘s simply not because the people are Muslims.  That‘s not why they have their hostilities. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about our current politics.  You are running for Congress.  You are in a Democratic district.  Marty Sabo was there a long time.  You have a good chance to win this seat.  Would you like to use your membership in the House to begin an impeachment proceeding against the president? 

ELLISON:  I would be supportive of that. 

MATTHEWS:  What impeachable crimes has he committed as you see it right now? 

ELLISON:  Well, I‘m very concerned about violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  I‘m concerned about the prewar intelligence that was used to go into Iraq.  I have reason to believe that the administration knew that there were—that some of the reasons they offered were not accurate.  I‘m also very concerned about the—what I believe is the condoning of torture.  Those are just a few. 

MATTHEWS:  What makes you think that they lied about the evidence that got us into war? 

ELLISON:  Well, I think the Downing Street memo seems to indicate that there was a plan.  I think the things Richard Clarke said indicate that there may have been a plan even before 9/1.  The treatment of Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife raised real concerns.  And so those are just a few things. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Nation of Islam.  Do you think that Mr. Farrakhan is an anti-Semite? 

ELLISON:  You know, I think that he is, but he really—he doesn‘t live in this district.  I don‘t know him personally.  And I think that it‘s sort of a red herring in this election to raise—to mention (inaudible).

MATTHEWS:  No, I wouldn‘t raise it with anybody else, but apparently you wrote an article as a student defending him against that charge. 

ELLISON:  Well, you know, the article was written—I‘m 43.  The article was written when I was 23.  Chris, I hope you and I get to grow and evolve.

MATTHEWS:  Hey look, I‘m all for it.  It‘s just how you clarify it, sir.  That‘s all I‘m here for.  If you clarify it and say you don‘t believe that anymore, that‘s clear as a bell for me.  Is that your position? 

ELLISON:  My position is that there were some anti-semitic things, certainly, that were said.  And if you say those things I assume you believe them. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, your position in the Democratic Party, do you think the Democrats should call for an immediate pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq? 

ELLISON:  Yes, I do. 

MATTHEWS:  And what about those people that have been dependent on us over there?  How do they deal with the situation once we leave? 

ELLISON:  Well, I think we should pull out militarily.  I think we should re-engage diplomatically.  I think we need to look at Iraq as much more of a diplomatic problem than as a military problem.  I think it‘s very clear that the forces that are fighting there need to be brought together.  We need to reach a political solution.  I don‘t believe we are going to find ourselves reaching a military solution in that area. 

In fact, in July about 110 people, on average, per day died there.  I think we do need to understand that the military solution is probably not going to be the thing to bring peace to Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  Well good luck in your general election.  Keith Ellison, state legislator, running for the United States Congress as a Democrat in Minnesota. 

Up next the late Barry Goldwater was known as Mr. Conservative.  Now his granddaughter has made a documentary on how he helped shape the conservative movement in this country.  I just saw it last night, fabulous movie.  C.C. Goldwater, the grand daughter, will be here in just a moment.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 



BARRY GOLDWATER, FORMER SENATOR AND CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST:  History is written that you will probably find the conservatives of my ilk being called liberals. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The late Arizona Senator and Statesman Barry Goldwater died eight years ago.  In a tribute to his political career his granddaughter, C.C. Goldwater, has produce a new documentary, Mr. Conservative, Goldwater on Goldwater, which will air on HBO next Monday night at 9:00 p.m. 

                C.C.         Goldwater is with us this evening.  C.C. I have to tell you that

                was a heck of a movie I saw last night.  And I want to show you a scene

                from it.  Here is Walter Cronkite talking about, and I think Cronkite would

                admit today, he has to me, that he‘s quite a liberal.  Here he is talking

                about Mr. Conservative. 


WALTER CRONKITE, NEWS ANCHOR:  I think no doubt it was his ability to speak his mind.  Clearly he was a man who said this is what I believe and take it or leave it.  Your grandfather made no allowance for the political necessities.  He was going to make his statement and by gosh they were going to elect him on his basis or not at all. 


MATTHEWS:  Is there anybody like your grandpa today?  I mean, I have to think that even the Libs are all saying that this guy believed what he said and said what he believed, which is kind of rare in politics. 

                C.C.         GOLDWATER, PRODUCER, “Mr. CONSERVATIVE”:  You know Chris, I don‘t

                think so.  I mean, it was his way or the highway and he was so dynamic and

                so unique and special in so many ways.  I don‘t know if there is anybody

                out there that could hold a candle to Barry Goldwater. 

MATTHEWS:  He said in the movie last night, you know this well because you have been over the tapes a hundred times, he said, somebody asked him what do you want your epitaph to be and he said I tried.  What did he try to do?

GOLDWATER:  I think he just tried to be honest and have integrity and be a man that spoke the truth and didn‘t try to give you answers that were predictable.  I think he was just always very honest and up front with the general public. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, the Republican party today is so much involved with the Evangelical world, with concerns about abortion rights, concerns about gay marriage. 


MATTHEWS:  Stem cell, those issues, which are all related to reproduction, I suppose it‘s fair to say.  Where was your grandfather on those issues? 

GOLDWATER:  Well, you know, when he was in office, those weren‘t part of the political agenda.  I mean he was a constitutionalist.  His whole views towards things was about the constitution and getting us, allowing us our freedoms by the constitution.  I think that he was very much of an advocate for a woman‘s right to choose and for gays in the military.  Later on in life he changed his thoughts on that.  I think he just would be probably a little opposed to the violation of our government being intrusive in our own personal lives right now. 

MATTHEWS:  So you could see him endorsing somebody like Giuliani this time around.  He wouldn‘t be held back by Giuliani‘s views on those issues? 

GOLDWATER:  You know, I can never speak for Barry Goldwater because you never know what he would do.  He was one of these guys that just said what he felt and it was always truth.  Who knows.  I mean you never know what he would be thinking right now.  I‘m sure he would have a definite comment, no matter what. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the fact that James Carville is in your movie and James is certainly a liberal and he was saying that you can‘t ignore a guy who actually started a movement.  What did Barry Goldwater do in the ‘50s and ‘60s that changed the Republican Party in American politics? 

GOLDWATER:  He gave people an alternative to what the conservative movement was all about at that point.  He gave a different perspective.  He gave an enlightenment that was outside of the East Coast, white buck mentality of what the conservative movement was about.  He was western and forthright and said what he felt and I think that that was very unique and different for our time. 

MATTHEWS:  Those glasses are certainly the iconic feature of this guy, aren‘t they.  Did he ever take those things off, those big black glasses? 

GOLDWATER:  No, no he wore them all the time.  Wore them all the time.  I mean, he had some of the ones without the lenses in it so he could do TV, but he wore those.  I mean, he wore those up until he died. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I liked about the movie, the way that his on and namesake, Barry Goldwater Jr., former member of Congress for all those years, was very honest about the fact he wasn‘t the greatest dad in the world, in terms of showing feelings, spending time with the kids, that kind of thing. 

GOLDWATER:  Yes, you know, that was the human side of Barry Goldwater that I think that a lot of people don‘t get an opportunity to see.  And in this film I have allowed them to have a view inside our private lives, our intimate family and that was something very bold for Barry to talk about. 

MATTHEWS:  Well I have got to tell you a lot of politicians have those problems with their kids because the life, what anybody thinks of it, is so demanding in terms of hours per day.  You are supposed to be a politician almost all the time, and even if you have a safe district, you are constantly meeting people‘s demands.  And every hour you spend with your constituents you are not with the kids. 

GOLDWATER:  Right, there are also, I learned from doing this film that before the politicians would get on a plane on Friday, fly back to their state, spend the weekend with their family, but now what they are doing is they are going out and raising money on the weekends.  They are going and campaigning or just going out there and hitting the trail and raising more money for whatever, Republican Party or their own particular candidacy.  

MATTHEWS:  You know what I thought when I watched the movie last night with you, I though, there is a reason to be a U.S. senator.  He is what I think of when I think of the idea of a U.S. Senator.  A guy or woman who says what they believe, spend their life fighting for what they believe and the end saying I tried.  I wish the idea were true, maybe it will be again.  Thank you very much, C.C. Goldwater, for making a great movie ... 

GOLDWATER:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ...and inspiring everybody.  In fact, Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater girl, and I was one when I was a kid.

Up next Democrats pick Ben Cardin this week as their nominee in Maryland‘s senate race.  How does he plan to hold off popular Republican Michael Steele come November?  Ben Cardin will be here. 

And later, George and Nick Clooney himself.  George Clooney and his dad coming here—well, coming here on television.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.  Coming to talk to me. 



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Today President Bush went to Capitol Hill to met with Republican lawmakers one more time before they head back to their districts and campaign to keep control of Congress. 

NBC‘s Mike Viqueira joins us now.  So it was Newt Rockney at half time today?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER:  Oh, it was, you know, a half rah-rah speech and half, like, this information session where he explained to them why we are in the war on terror, went through case and point what he wants to do, bolstered his case to stay in Iraq, bolstered his case not to cut and run—as they‘ve refer to the Democrats.

But also against this atmosphere of an election, they are doing battle up there every day.  It‘s an exciting place to be.  I‘ve noticed in the last couple of days that Democrats with our polls, with other polls, with this presidential speech which was really—and most members of these members were enthralled, these Republican members that I talked to, to see the president. 

One of them said to me, you know, his father would not have recognized any of us, would have just made a speech and walked out of the room.  He connects with us.  He knows each of us.  He knows our issues.  He brought up gas prices as in relation to Steve Shaba (ph), an embattled Republican from Ohio.  He called out Shaba‘s name, Zack Wamp (ph). others. 

The only sour note came when he said he wanted comprehensive immigration reform.  And you know how that goes over in that caucus. 

MATTHEWS:  A lead balloon. 

VIQUEIRA:  A smattering of applause and he says I guess that wasn‘t a tumultuous response and then they all cheer. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you read what happened in the Senate today, where the impressive old John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and the impressive John McCain ...

VIQUEIRA:  And Lindsey Graham.

MATTHEWS:  ...and Lindsey, also impressive, all military men, stood up against the president on Geneva Convention treatment of prisoners? 

VIQUEIRA:  Well I mean, this is a familiar role for John McCain.  He‘s the black sheep in the family feud.  They have stood up and they said that look ... 

MATTHEWS:  But he wins. 

VIQUEIRA:  He does win, and he won the vote today in the committee.  So it‘s John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham against the White House, against the House Republicans, and against virtually every other Republican in the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m Betting on the Jets not the Sharks this time.  Anyway, thank you very much Mike Viqueira. 

HARDBALL is tracking the hot races this fall.  And the Senate match-up in Maryland, a big one now, is one of the hottest in Tuesday‘s primary.  Congressman Ben Cardin of Baltimore beat former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume.  Now, Cardin will face Michael Steele, Maryland‘s Republican lieutenant governor, in a race to be Maryland‘s senator. 

We invited both men to be here tonight.  We will put on Steele when he wants to come on, I hope, if we can get him on here.  He didn‘t want to come tonight, but Mr. Cardin is here.  He is the officially declared winner, and—oh anyway, we‘re going to have him on. 

Thank you, Mr. Cardin.  Mr. Steele said you are not officially the designated candidate of the Democratic Party.  Is he right?  Does he have a point not to meet with you in debate because you are not official yet? 

REP. BEN CARDIN (D), MD SENATE CANDIDATE:  Well, Chris, he sent me a letter congratulating me on my victory and urging me to debate him, so I‘m not sure what he is talking about. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we will get you together at some point. 

Let me ask you this:  You ran against an African-American, a real leader of the country, Kweisi Mfume, for the nomination.  Now here you are again running against one of the few African-American real possibilities to be a U.S. senator.  Does that bother you? 

CARDIN:  Kweisi Mfume ...

MATTHEWS:  Because there is so few black members in any—of the U.S.

Senate in history. 

CARDIN:  Well, Kweisi Mfume is my friend and we share the same vision of America‘s future.  Kweisi is going to be helping me in this campaign.  It‘s important that we have a United States senator from Maryland that‘s going to represent the values of the people of our state, and I‘m optimistic I‘m going to get support in all regions of Maryland. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at one of your ads in the primary. 

Maybe it will give us taste of what is to come. 


CARDIN:  I always try to do what is right, what is in the best interest of Maryland families, taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, the insurance companies.  And I stood up to the president and voted against the Iraq war. 


MATTHEWS:  Can you possibly lose to Michael Steele in this election? 

Maryland is almost endemically a Democratic state. 

CARDIN:  Well, I plan to take my record in Congress and the state legislature, former speaker of the Maryland legislature, my ability to get things done in this campaign.  And I believe we‘re going to stick to issues.  When we stick to issues, the voters of Maryland are going to send me as their next United States senator to Maryland. 

MATTHEWS:  Is—well, let‘s take a look at an ad by your opponent now, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. 


MICHAEL STEELE, MD SENATE CANDIDATE:  I‘m Michael Steele.  Instead of the spin, I will talk straight about what is wrong in both parties.  You know to get a different kind of government, you are going to need a different kind of senator.  I‘m Michael Steele and that‘s why I you a move this message. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ready for change?  Get ready for Steele. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, Congressman, he is kind of a big personality, a popular fellow.  People like him.  I see him at football games a lot.  How do you get past that charisma? 

CARDIN:  Well, he was selected by the president, by Bush, to run as the United States senator.  He was recruited by Karl Rove.  He‘s the former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. 

He supports the president on stem cell research.  He supports the president‘s economic policies.  He supports the president‘s Iraq policy.  I think the people of Maryland are going to understand that they have a choice and their choice is to vote for someone who will be independent and stand up to President Bush. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your party‘s chance of carrying the United States Senate come the day after November—the election? 

CARDIN:  I think it‘s good.  I think we have great candidates throughout the country and we‘re optimistic that we‘re going to take back both the House and the Senate.  I think it‘s going to happen.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think your colleague, Harold Ford, Jr., is going to win down in—Harold Ford is going to win down in Tennessee? 

CARDIN:  Absolutely.  Harold Ford is one of the greatest campaigners I think we have in this year.  He stands for the right principles.  He is in touch with the people of Tennessee, and he will be the next senator from Tennessee. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the biggest issue that‘s going to turn the elections?  Is it Iraq and the president‘s decision to go into Iraq?  Is it the gas price issue?  What is going to—after the election is over, Congressman, and everybody is writing down the big stories for history, what will be the historic note of 2006? 

CARDIN:  Chris, I think it‘s the frustration of typical families in our community.  They‘re falling further behind.  They‘re having a hard time paying their healthcare bills, their energy bills, their education bills, and this administration‘s policies are not working for them.  This administration is sending jobs overseas.  I think it‘s going to the economic issues and the frustration of the voters about where they are on these policies. 

MATTHEWS:  We just had another Democratic candidate for Congress, another winner of a primary this week, who came on from Minnesota, Keith Ellison.  He said that he would support a move to impeach this president the minute he got into Congress.  Would you do that? 

CARDIN:  I think we need to investigate this president.  I‘m very disappointed that this Congress has not instituted any investigations of this president, a misuse of his power.  I think there should be one.  Let‘s find out what the facts are, and let the facts lead to whatever conclusions we need. 

MATTHEWS:  Should the House Judiciary Committee, once you get control of Congress, if you do, commence an investigation of the president? 

CARDIN:  Yes, I think we should investigate the president, what he knew before he went into Iraq, how he has used the subpoena power without any legal authority to do that.  You know, it is interesting.  When Bill Clinton was president of the United States, the Republican leadership didn‘t hesitate to do an investigation.  On this president, we have not exercised our oversight responsibilities. 

MATTHEWS:  So you would vote for a resolution to urge or to direct the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the president on the possibility of impeachment? 

CARDIN:  I didn‘t say that.  What I did say is I believe that this president should be—we should have independent investigations on his use of power.  We need to know.  We need to know.

MATTHEWS:  By the Judiciary—by the Judiciary Committee? 

CARDIN:  I‘d rather it be—I personally think we need some independent investigations.  I‘ve called for an independent investigation.

MATTHEWS:  By the House Judiciary Committee? 

CARDIN:  Well the House Judiciary Committee could be the implementing group, but I think it would be more—have greater integrity with the American people if we had an independent investigation. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much.  U.S. Congressman Ben Cardin ...

CARDIN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  ...who is the Democratic nominee for Senate in Maryland. 

Up next, President Bush was in Capitol Hill today for, as I said, a closed door meeting with Republicans, kind of a Newt Rockney, Notre Dame pep talk.  Will campaigning on security and terrorism keep him in the majority?  MSNBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell and the WASHINGTONPOST.com‘s Chris Cillizza will be here.

And later, George and Nick Clooney coming on HARDBALL. 



MATTHEWS:  Up next, President Bush was on Capital Hill today for, as I

said, a closed door meeting with Republicans.  And kind of made the Notre

Dame pep talk.  Will campaigning on security and terrorism keep him in the

majority?  MSNBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell and the Washingtonpost.com‘s Chris

Cillizza will be here.  And later George and Nick Clooney coming on



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  As the fight for power in Congress rages on, President Bush made a rare visit to Capital Hill today to rally his party in a closed-door meeting.  I love that phrase. 

Meanwhile, House Democrats led by Pennsylvania‘s Jack Murtha are calling for Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld to resign?  Fat chance.  Can Democrats rally their base by beating up on Rumsfeld?  Can Republicans hold on till the November running on a security message. 

Chris Cillizza is a reporter, a hot young fellow here, really smart here, really smart.  Author of “The Fix” for the washingtonpost.com.  And Norah O‘Donnell is chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC. 

Let me ask you this.  Why do they keep beating on this Rumsfeld drum? 

He is not as unpopular as the president or the vice president. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  I think what it is though, is that the war is extremely unpopular and the key to Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld in the eyes of many people equals the war.  And so when Republicans—when Democrats...  

MATTHEWS:  Do they think we‘re going to pull out of Iraq if Rumsfeld quits? 

CILLIZZA:  No, but he is a symbol.  And remember, politics is all about symbols.  Rumsfeld equals the war.  And so when Democrats knock Rumsfeld, the 60 percent or 55 or 52 or whatever number you want to take of people who say they don‘t think the war was worth fighting, nod their heads and think, hey maybe Democrats have got it.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a real in-depth question.  You covered the Pentagon for so many years.  You know that place over there.  Was this more a Rumsfeld idea or Bush‘s idea?  Who do you blame for the war?  Just objectively, did he do what he was told to do, or did the president follow orders from Rumsfeld?  That‘s the question.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I think you ask the question because some assume that if Rumsfeld were to leave all of sudden, we would leave Iraq.  That‘s not true.



MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I think, too.

O‘DONNELL:  Dick Cheney said that on “MEET THE PRESS”, even if there had not been weapons of mass destruction they would have gone to Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  And there is no connection to 9/11 and all the other stuff. 

He wanted to go.  The president wanted to go, according to this new book. 

Do you agree with that? 

CILLIZZA:  I think that‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  The president wanted to go, the V.P. wanted to go.  And

Rumsfeld came along, Rumsfeld told us on this show, on camera—I love the

tape, I‘m going to show it a hundred times in the rest of my life hopefully

where he says, I asked him, did the president ask you whether we should go to Iraq or not.  And he said, interesting, he never did and I was surprised by that.  Because you know he went to Powell and said, you are with me, right? 

O‘DONNELL:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  He really did that to Powell to his face.

O‘DONNELL:  But again, here is the major issue that is going on.  Democrats want the political debate to be focused on Iraq.  Bush wants it to be focused on terror. 

MATTHEWS:  And Rummy‘s the root to Iraq. 


O‘DONNELL:  Rumsfeld‘s the proxy to sort of do that.  What is really interesting, in our NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, one of the questions that was asked was, would you rather vote for a Republican who would keep the same number of troops in Iraq or would you vote for a Democrat who wanted to immediately pull troops out.  They overwhelmingly favored the Republicans.  That‘s a sign to Democrats that the cut and run message, immediate withdrawal, even though that‘s not what a lot of them are proposing, is a dangerous one for them. 

MATTHEWS:  In other words, people would rather change the leadership than the policy right away. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right.  American people will not... 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I‘m afraid of, I will tell you what is going to happen.  We‘re not going to have a real election debate between somebody on one side and somebody on the other.  What will probably happen is the next Republican candidate will be smart enough to be the change agent.  They‘ll be smart enough to say, look, this is like Bush running to replace Reagan.  Don‘t you think the next Republican candidate is not going to be a Bushy?  It‘s going to be somebody that‘s going to be somebody different? 

CILLIZZA:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, look, why do you think George Allen, for any number of reasons, the senator from Virginia, has gone down in the estimation of a lot of people?

MATTHEWS:  Because he is a Bushy.

CILLIZZA:  Because he reminds people—OK, his first name is George, that‘s an obvious connection.  But he reminds people stylistically of the president.  So I don‘t think he...

MATTHEWS:  You mean, frat boy affability? Which I like, actually. 

CILLIZZA:  Southern, sort of that Southern charm element to it.  And I think... 

MATTHEWS:  Famous father.

CILLIZZA:  What you are going to see here is that I think you will see it as a change agent.  I have argued, thought, and I think if you look at polling...

MATTHEWS:  You mean, you agree with me, the Republican candidate the next time will probably be a change agent.  Do you want to bet on this? 

CILLIZZA:  Yes, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Or will be a Bushy?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, it will probably a change agent.

CILLIZZA:  What‘s John McCain in that equation, though?  Is John McCain a Bushy now or is he a change agent? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he changes. 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, it‘s a great point.  What is interesting about the Virginia Senate race today, in particular, is that of course Allen went on the negative, accusing his opponent, this Democrat Webb, who was a former Republican, noting that he originally opposed women in combat back in the 70s.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a woman.  Twenty-eight years ago he took that position.  Situations have changed dramatically.  In fact, even today, women, you know, the idea of women as our main force and a frontline force is not really the way we look at things.  Women do have jobs in combat now, but the idea of women in combat 28 years ago was not today. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right, don‘t you think, I mean, I am the woman here. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your point?  Do you think it‘s a fair shot?

O‘DONNELL:  Can I paraphrase Meredith Viera?  I‘m going to put the broad back in broadcasting.  The point is, it will play with women voters though.  It will play.  It will probably work  and what is interesting about that strategy, the national strategy that they are doing, is Republicans now are hammering back hard. 

MATTHEWS:  You are so right.  You know what they learned this week on Tuesday, Liddy Dole, apparently on the floor of the United States Senate, you know this story, walked over to Link Chafee and said get off the gentile mode.  Win this race, run those negative ads.  And he ran negative ads and I just talked to a friend of mine this morning up there in Providence, who was working with Chafee, who told me that that‘s what worked.  He said it got a huge turnout because those ads were so negative on Laffey, the people went out and voted to defend Chafee. 

CILIZZA:  You know, the other thing that I think Elizabeth Dole did smartly and the White House did smartly and might have Democrats thinking about how big gains they are going to have in the Fall is they went out and basically did a mini 2004 in Rhode Island.  They went out, they identified voter.  They targeted independents who were leaning towards Chafee.  So they turned out those Chafee voters, so it wasn‘t just the negative ads. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you something, I have got a chapter in my new book called “Negative Ads Work.”  They do.  Norah O‘Donnell, Chris Cilizza are staying with us.  You are watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell and the “WashingtonPost.com‘s” Chris Cilizza.  Let me just continue our conversation we were having during the break here.  Sometimes they‘re better than on air because are more free flowing.  We all agreed on something that is politically incorrect to admit, which is these negative ads, that blast people a week before election, work. 

CILIZZA:  Look, they absolutely do.  You know, you see polls, constantly people say we don‘t like them, they turn us off from politics, but the point is is the message gets driven home.  I have a perfect example of it.  I was in Connecticut with the Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont primary.  I stayed at the house I grew up in.  My dad said to me, you know that Ned Lamont voted with Republicans 90 percent of the time when he was on the Greenwich Council.  Look, you know where my dad got that information from, a negative ad from Joe Lieberman. 

MATTHEWS:  And they say it in the very words of the ad. 

CILIZZA:  Verbatim, and so the reality is that these things do work.  Even if you don‘t like the message, you learn the message.  It‘s like a bad jingle that you can‘t get out of your head.  You think, oh, why is that on again, but you always remember it.

O‘DONNELL:  And also it will work for the Republican Party because again, they don‘t want this election to be a referendum on President Bush.  They want it to be a choice election.  So rather than looking at your member of Congress, a Republican and say hey, I want change, you see the new ad and guess what this new person that is running against him hasn‘t been defined yet, but you see this ad, I don‘t know much about that guy, oh my gosh, I just learned in this ad that he just an evil-doer. 


MATTHEWS:  It‘s like the new kid in town, oh, he‘s no good, blah, blah, blah and you believe it because it‘s all you know. 

O‘DONNELL:  Define your opponent before they can define you. 


MATTHEWS:  ... who used to get Nixon elected in California.  You got to define him first.  He said there‘s only, most voters can only think of three things when they go in to vote.  Make sure all three are about the opponent and they‘re all negative and then you have maxed out their thinking.  That‘s the old, by the way, you say that works? 

CILIZZA:  It absolutely works.  It‘s been proven time after time.  And just one other quick example, we talked before the break about Rhode Island.  Steve Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, ran no negative advertising in the final two months of the campaign, as Norah pointed out rightly, the Club for Growth, which is an outside group, was running ads attacking Chafee, but Steve Laffey, the candidate,  ran no negative ads and while Lincoln Chafee was blasting away at Steve Laffey.  Who won, Lincoln Chafee, and that‘s not by accident. 

MATTHEWS:  You know the old Goldwater joke about the elderly woman‘s asked by a reporter, why are you voting against Goldwater, and she says because he‘s going to take away my TV.  And the guys says no, he wants to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority, the T.V.A. and she says I‘m not taking any chances. 

O‘DONNELL:  And this is, what many people forget is that the Republicans and the Bush strategists are brilliant.  That‘s how they got Bush into office.  That‘s what the book “Applebee‘s America” that you talked earlier about is.  And I remember so vividly early in the campaign, they showed me a chart and they said this is how many people know something about John Kerry, and guess what, before anybody gets to decide, to figure out what they know about John Kerry, we‘re going to fill in the rest of that pie chart for them. 

MATTHEWS: Swift Boats.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, they did not say that, Swift Boat them, but the flip flop message, etcetera, which was creating the impression of him that they wanted in voters‘ minds. 

MATTHEWS:  So, put on your seat belts for the next two months, right.  When people turn on the TV, like now, they are going to see on broadcast and cable probably negative ads. 

O‘DONNELL:  If you have small children at home, it‘s a good idea to put a D.V.D. in. 

MATTHEWS:  I tell you, I personally do not know how they take it.  Suppose you‘re an underfunded candidate and you‘re up against a guy with lots of bucks, not only does he have lots of bucks, he could put any ad on he wants about you.   So you‘ve got to sit there when you‘re out going door to door, ringing door bells, you know, wearing out your shoes, this guys running ads saying the worst possible things about you and there‘s nothing you can do accept boil. 

CILIZZA:  I remember a few election cycles ago, I will not name the candidate, but I was on a trip, travelling with a candidate who was in that exact situation, just absolutely being pounded by their opponent.  And the candidate looked physically and mentally sick.  I mean, it wears on you.  These are the people, take a congressional district, these are your friends and neighbors, who all of a sudden didn‘t know that you did this bad thing, or this bad thing.  I mean, it has an absolute physical and mental impact on any candidate that takes that. 

MATTHEWS:  If you go into a market like L.A., which is three quarters of voters in California, you run a negative ad for 30 seconds.  A zillion people hear it and they say it‘s probably true, unless you correct it and that costs as much money to correct it.  And even then they say, like the woman, I‘m not taking any chances.

O‘DONNELL:  Well it was interesting that Republicans today were tooting their horn that they think they could actually hold onto the House, even though our NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows it‘s still tough for them. 

MATTHEWS:  You know why, it‘s the math.  They picked up two points in two weeks.  If they keep doing that, they‘re up to 50 percent by election day.  I think that‘s what they‘re going to do, keep the president on television, keep him arguing, giving long speeches.  By the way, every time the president gives a speech longer than a half hour, it‘s on the front page the next day. 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  They must have figured that one out.  Quite a conversation here.  Quite revealing among you people.  Thank you Norah O‘Donnell, thank you Chris Cilizza.  George Clooney and Nick Clooney are running late so we‘ll hope to have them on another time.  Play HARDBALL with us again on Friday.  Our guests will include Congressman Jack Murtha, former Republican Party chair Ed Gillespie.  Right now it‘s time for Tucker.



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