updated 9/25/2006 11:12:24 AM ET 2006-09-25T15:12:24

Guests: Ron Fournier, Matt Dowd, Lennox Yearwood, Hilary Rosen, Tony Perkins

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Was it a coalition of the willing that went after the Taliban, or was it accepting an offer they could not refuse?  Who put together the gang to go after the terrorists, George W. Bush or Luca Brasi?  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I am Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.

Well, today President Bush met with Pakistani president Musharraf and said he was caught off guard by Musharraf saying that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage threatened to take them back to the Stone Age in his country, if his country didn‘t cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorism.  Let‘s go right—let‘s take a look at that tape right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I guess I was taken aback by the harshness of the words.  All I can tell you is that shortly after 9/11, Secretary Colin Powell came in and said President Musharraf understands the stakes and he wants to join and help route out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to NBC‘s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. 

Andrea, is this about the wording of the threat or is it about whether there ever was something like an ultimatum by Richard Armitage to the president and to the country of Pakistan to join us in the fight against the Taliban? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  I

don‘t think there is any question that there is a ultimatum.  You are either with us or against us.  And you know Richard Armitage.  You know that he spoke very bluntly indeed. 

But our producer, Sarah Erwin (ph), caught up with Armitage today in his Washington office, his Virginia office right across the river, and he strongly denied that he ever threatened to, quote, “bomb them back into the Stone Age.”  This is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ARMITAGE, FMR. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE:  You can check the cable from the State Department, and in no way was that word spoken or implied. I was not authorized to do so.  I wouldn‘t threaten the use of military force unless I could come through with it myself and, of course, I didn‘t and couldn‘t.  And those words were not uttered by me. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What was the message?  What were you instructed to tell ...

ARMITAGE:  I wasn‘t given particular instructions.  Secretary Powell and I discussed this meeting prior to General Mahmoud seeing me.  And I told General Mahmoud that this was a time that Pakistan would either be with us or against us, that this, for Americans, was seen and black or white, therefore he would be with us or against us, that history began today. 

He started to explain to me the history of Pakistani-U.S.  relationships and Pakistan and Afghanistan‘s relationships, and I stopped him and said history begins today. 

Further, I went on to say that he should communicate with The President Musharraf and decide if they were willing to cooperate with us, and if they were, to come back the next day and Secretary Powell and I would present to him a list of requirements that were not negotiable, that would be requirements.

He returned the next day.  I presented those requirements and that meeting was followed by a phone call from Secretary Powell to President Musharraf, which was a good phone call, free of any sort of irralogy (ph) of threat of military force because there were none against Pakistan. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So how would you characterize this exchange? 

Stern?

ARMITAGE:  Well, I wouldn‘t call it stern.  I think it was very strong, factual, and I was trying to make sure that General Mahmoud and Ambassador Maleeha Lodi understood how deeply felt was the anger of the American people at this grievous wounding of 9/11. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why do you think then that President Musharraf gave the impression that the message was Pakistan would be bombed if they didn‘t cooperate, who hasn‘t yet fired? 

ARMITAGE:  Well, he said—as I understand it, President Musharraf has said that his ISI chief said it.  I can‘t be responsible for what the ISI chief said, but I know that reviewing the cable and in the memories of those who were in the room with me, no threats of military force against Pakistan were implied or indicated. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You say that with full confidence?

ARMITAGE:  Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL:  Now, the ISI, Chris, of course, is the Pakistani intelligence.  If you want my take on it and that of many experts we‘ve talked to today, this has a lot to do with domestic Pakistani politics. 

Don‘t forget, Musharraf three times survived al Qaeda assassination attempts.  He has a lot of trouble just keeping the resurgent Taliban down, and the Islamic anger at his alliance with the United states.  And this way he was able to say look, I went against the Taliban at the bidding and under the pressure and at the threat of the United States—the big, bad USA—and I wouldn‘t have done this otherwise. 

MATTHEWS:  So it is better for him to look weak in the eyes of his opposition than it is to look like a strong opponent? 

MITCHELL:  Yes, and this way he can say he was pressure by the U.S.  First of all, this is twice removed.  This was not directly alleged comments from Armitage directly to Musharraf himself.  It was filtered through the Pakistani intelligence general, and also the Pakistani ambassador to Washington at the time.  And so there are several suspect layers there, so I would take all of this with several grains of salt. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, years of dealing with politicians teaches me—and I‘m sure you agree—that when they offer very particular denials, when they use words beyond what they need to do to simply say that no, that didn‘t happen, when they say things like I never threatened military force, in other words, use those words, they are denying something smaller than the actual event. 

They are not denying that they actually threatened the person, that they gave an ultimatum.  I like the way that the undersecretary—the deputy secretary made this clear.  He said we presented them with a list of requirements that were non-negotiable.  They would be requirements.  Well, that‘s an ultimatum, as you said.

MITCHELL:  There was an ultimatum.  There‘s no question that Pakistan was told you are either with us or against us, that we are going after the Taliban, help us or don‘t.  And clearly there is an implied threat there, but I think it‘s the wording, the language, “we‘ll bomb you back to the Stone Age,” that clearly is being denied today by Richard Armitage. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much.  Great to have you, Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News. 

MITCHELL:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  While President Bush is talking up the terror threat, the anti-Iraq war movement pushed to the gates of the White House today, were 34 people—or yesterday—were arrested.  We‘ll talk to one of the leaders of today‘s anti-war demonstration later in the show. 

More surprises in store for the president today.  President Bush is the captive star, it turns out, of many Democratic campaign ads airing all across the country.  HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has the report. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The best measure

of a president‘s popularity is how he is treated by his own party.  And 46

days until the congressional election, it is difficult to find a single

reference to President Bush in Republican campaign commercials.  But the

president is everywhere in Democratic ads. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sweeney supports President Bush‘s Iraq policy.  He voted with Bush 100 percent of the time on Iraq.  Enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Heather Wilson is on the Intelligence Committee, but she never questioned George Bush on the war, and she never said a word about how we‘ve spent $300 billion there. 

SHUSTER:  White House officials have been trying to improve the president‘s standing and that of his party by moving attention away from the popular war in Iraq, and putting attention instead on 9/11 and the efforts to fight the terror organization responsible. 

Today, for example, there was the high-profile news conference with Pakistani‘s President Musharraf, a U.S. ally since 9/11 and al Qaeda target. 

BUSH:  We are on the hunt, together.  It is in the president‘s interests that al Qaeda be brought to justice, and it is in our interests. 

SHUSTER:  But even on fighting terror, and protecting the homeland, in a Senate race in New Jersey, President Bush is under attack.  And Republican Tom Kean, Jr. is not even mentioned by Democrat Bob Menendez in this ad. 

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  So when George Bush tried to sell our ports to a foreign country and threatened our security, I led the fight to stop him and we won.  Five years after 9/11, President Bush still doesn‘t get it.  Homeland security starts here.  And if he won‘t stand up for New Jersey, I will.

SHUSTER:  The decision by Democratic congressional candidates to target a once overwhelmingly popular president marks a dramatic change of course compared to the elections in 2004 and 2002.  Then, they avoided him as Republicans embraced him.  Now ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What this administration and what this Congress has done is really sold out to the special interests. 

SHUSTER:  The Democratic strategy carries some risk.  It could create sympathy for the president and energize Republicans.  The latest polling shows President Bush is no longer as big a factor for voters, and pollsters say that if voters don‘t see clear Democratic plans, the attacks will not register. 

Still, even veteran Republicans are under fire for their links to the Bush Administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When it comes to what is best for south Florida, Clay Shaw turns to George Bush.  Shaw said, “I start out with the basic assumption that the president knows more than I do, and I trust his judgment.”  No wonder that in Washington, Shaw votes for the Bush-Cheney agenda 90 percent of the time. 

SHUSTER:  For their part, Republicans are on the attack using issues they have bludgeoned Democrats with before: taxes and national security. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A terrorist plot may be unfolding.  Should the government intercept that call or wait until the paperwork is filed?  Nancy Johnson says act immediately, lives may be at stake.  Liberal Chris Murphy says no, apply for a court warrant, even if valuable time is lost.  Chris Murphy, wrong on security, wrong for America. 

SHUSTER:  But for sheer starpower, nothing matches the image of a president, and with Republicans appearing vulnerable and control of Congress at stake, spending on television ads is way up.  Nearly a billion dollars has been spent so far, and by election day, analysts expect the figure to reach $1.6 billion.  That would be higher than the $1.4 spent in 2004, a presidential election year.

(on camera):  It‘s all another reminder of just how important both parties consider control of Congress.  And although President Bush is not on the ballot, he is front and center in this campaign, as Democrats lampoon him and the White House tries to improve his image.

I am David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David.  I love that word ‘lampoon.‘

We go now to Ron Fournier and Matt Dowd, co-authors of the new book, “Applebee‘s America:  How Successful Political, Business and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community.  They are also both co-founders of HotSoup.com. 

Welcome to you both.  Let me ask you, Matt—how are you doing out there?  Is it smart for the Democrats to keep showing pictures, mug shots, of the president to get people to vote Democrat? 

MATT DOWD, FMR BUSH/CHENEY CHIEF STRATEGIST:  I actually think it‘s a mistake.  They are doing the same thing out in California in a race I‘m involved with, Governor Schwarzenegger running for reelection.  For the past six weeks they have been running an ad—and it has had no affect on the voters.  And I think the reason is, is people want a discussion about what is important, and however they feel about George Bush, it‘s like, that‘s okay, that‘s fine, I don‘t like him or I think he is doing a bad job; what‘s going on here in our state or in our community or in our district that matters to me. 

And I think all the time they use to spend talking about that is not time they‘re using talking about things that matter to people. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to you—let me go to you, Ron.

I‘m stunned—not stunned—I am not surprised, I should say, by the fact that we put the strong arm to Musharraf to get him to go along with our campaign—a legitimate campaign, most Americans believe—against the Taliban and al Qaeda.  But it does seem to carry a kind of a Luka Brazzi aspect to it, where threats are so strong, like these are requirements.  You‘ve got no choice.  These guys are supposed to be independent countries joining us.  We keep talking about the coalition of the willing.  Doesn‘t it look right now like the countries that joined us in all the war against terrorism have all been secretly threatened in the back room with a rubber hose—either you go with us, or you‘re our enemy. 

RON FOURNIER, FMR. AP NAT‘L POLITICAL WRITER:  Actually, no, it wasn‘t that secretly.  I remember on 9/11, the president got up there in his first speech and said You are either with us or you‘re against us.  I didn‘t take that any other way, but a threat:  you‘re either with us or you‘re against us.

MATTHEWS:  The Stone Age stuff would fit with that, then?

FOURNIER:  Certainly.  I agree with you that—

MATTHEWS:  Why do we keep saying ‘coalition of the willing?‘

FOURNIER:  If you are willing to be with us—

MATTHEWS:  It sounds like you‘re making an offer they can‘t refuse.

FOURNIER:  If you are willing to be with us, that‘s great.  If not—heads up, boys!

MATTHEWS:  So it is really kind of fun just to say they are all joining us because they love our cause.  They are really joining us because we have the clout to keep them into line.

FOURNIER:  They also think that what we‘re doing is right, and—

MATTHEWS:  Some do, like the Poles do, and the Brits, and a few others.

FOURNIER:  And maybe the Pakis do as well.

DOWD:  One thing I think it‘s important that any sort of geopolitical struggle, whether it was World War II or whatever it happens to be, people have many interests about why they get involved.  Some of which is, is they want to fight terror, but some of which is, is they want to stay friends with a superpower.  That is always part of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Maybe I am a romantic, but, Matt, I do like to think that the British and the Americans and the others—the others that fought the Nazis were in it together for all the best reasons.  They didn‘t have to be to get the old treatment of a buck in the pocket and a kick in the ass.  I like to think they believed in it.

DOWD:  I think, if you look at the British in the war on terror, they are in it, they believe in it—the Italians, the Japanese.  There‘s a lot of people that are in it.  Obviously Musharraf with Pakistan, there‘s many sensitivities in his own country about doing it being the next door border.

I think Ron is right.  The president—this is not—the president announced this.  You are either with us in the war on terror or you are not with us in the war on terror.  He said that pretty point blank. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might be a victim of New York publishing, Matt?  The way to sell books, whether you‘re McGreevey and you‘re out of the closet, or whatever, you got to be a victim?  Do you think—when he said during that press conference that he couldn‘t say anything more because his book publisher got him to keep quiet, it sounded like, I have to sell this book, and the way I‘m selling it is coming across as the guy that got forced into a war against the Taliban—I am the victim here—that sells.  Incredible stuff!

DOWD:  I actually thought—it was kind of weird.  It was sort of very weird, the fact that you have this sort of, this huge issue with this huge thing in the world, and then all of a sudden a book deal sort of intervenes on a discussion of it.  It was very bizarre.  You know, good thing for us, we don‘t have that problem with our book.  So, it was bizarre.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t have to blame a war on somebody else to sell a book or not.  But let me go back to you.  Do you agree with Matt that you can‘t connect a president with a Congressman running for reelection?  You can‘t put the monkey on his back and say, He‘s with bush 95 percent of the time or she‘s with Bush?  Don‘t vote him, he‘s a nobody, he‘s just a—or she‘s just a little, you know, a little peanut gallery to the president.

FOURNIER:  I think you can try it, but the only way it is going to work is if you can use that to convince people that this person doesn‘t have what we call in the book a gut value, doesn‘t have strong principled stands on which he or she agrees with, if all they‘re doing is rubber-stamping the president.  You have to do more than that—you can‘t just link into the president and let it go.

MATTHEWS:  In all fairness, Matt—I know you‘ll join me in all things that are fair—it‘s a lot tougher to tag Arnold Schwarzenegger and try to turn him into somebody‘s little supporter and backer than it is to do it with some relatively nameless congressman? 

DOWD:  Yeah, the governor of California has obviously demonstrated that he is an independent on many issues: stem cell research, global warming, the border—all of that he‘s demonstrated his independence from the president.  Obviously running for Congress, you have a different thing.  If I were somebody running against Congress, I would be running against Congress as a whole and the fact that we need change and if you‘re tired of the way things are getting done, unrelated to the president, that‘s where I would go.

MATTHEWS:  And I would say they haven‘t gotten anything done, because I can‘t think of what it is.  They didn‘t do Social Security, they didn‘t do the immigration bill.  And a lot of people are glad they didn‘t do the stuff they didn‘t do.  So they are hit twice with scaring us with stuff they‘re afraid of and then not doing anything.  That‘s what I‘d say.

FOURNIER:  The problem with both parties today is they‘re are at such low ratings in both parties so people are just sick of both of them, which is one of the reasons why people are still looking for something else. 

MATTHEWS:  I think they‘re the way that the Greek parliament was right before the coup.

We will be right back with Ron Fournier and Matt Dowd.  Later, while President Bush talks about fighting terrorists, protests against the Iraq war are planned from coast to coast.  Will antiwar feelings knock Republicans out of power in the elections?

You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, how bad are things for Rick Santorum?  Are they bad enough that bringing in the unpopular Dick Cheney to campaign could actually help?  When HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with Ron Fournier and Matt Dowd, co-authors of the new book, “Applebee‘s America.”  They‘re also co-founders of something called HotSoup, which is sort of a political My Place (SIC), that everybody can get involved with.  More on that later.

Matt, I want you and Ron both to watch this thing.  You know, the political adage is, Never let them see you sweat, but for politicians, that is becoming harder and harder in the world of YouTube.  Here is Rick Santorum, a political professional, getting a little bit ticked off at some people bothering him on the campaign trail. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m from Pennsylvania and I am so sorry that some of our money paid for the education of your children in Virginia. 

SANTORUM:  My tax dollars go to, my tax dollars at work, ma‘am.  I pay taxes to the state, to the local, to the school district, more money, far in excess of the money that the state paid for that. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You paid in Virginia. 

SANTORUM:  No, I don‘t pay taxes in Virginia.  I pay taxes in Pennsylvania, ma‘am.  Getting the woman to complain about me, gee, I wonder why that is. 

It is just a curious eye opener.  One person says something negative and the media rushes and covers it, the wonderful balanced media that I love in this community.   

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Matt Dowd, is it the unbiased media or is it the new prickly nature of American politics, where somebody can come along after you like a hornet out in the backyard, just follow you around until they get some pictures taken of you bugging the Senate candidate on something you think is important? 

DOWD:  Well, I think this, and Senator Allen learned this in a comment a few weeks ago, about when you get caught and what effect it can have.  I think the nature of politics today, where everybody is a journalist.  They could post it immediately and politicians are just going to have to be extremely cognizant of that, which I don‘t necessarily think is a good thing for political discourse in this country.   

MATTHEWS:  Me with you and I don‘t think there is anything wrong with Rick Santorum getting ticked at somebody, you know, a stalker basically coming around and bugging him.  I shouldn‘t say stalker in a negative way.  But that woman just kept following him and kept working on him and all of a sudden the cameras all go to that woman and say what were you talking to him about and he is saying we are biased for covering it.  I‘m sure he‘s saying we‘re biased doing this, right as we‘re doing it right now.   

FOURNIER:  I would say welcome to 21st century communications, community and politics.  This is a person with a camera and access to Internet, can now have their voice out there.  And it is actually something we‘re trying to do with HotSoup.com is get people ... 

MATTHEWS:  But the danger, is it not true that Matt just mentioned, you are going to create robots.  You‘re going to create politicians with no personality, no spontaneity, because the one thing they‘re afraid is showing any human emotion when somebody is meeting them on the campaign trail.  Your thought Matt.

DOWD:  Yes, I mean, I agree with Ron.  This is the nature of where we are today.  I don‘t think it is necessarily good political discourse, the fact that we expect politicians to be some sort of robot, that they basically have to be perfect from day one.  I want somebody that learns and shows some emotion and doesn‘t get faulted for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, you know, I remember George McGovern was accused of being a bit uptight when he ran for president, but formal, being, you know a professor.  And one woman was on a plane with him one time, and the plane didn‘t take off as fast as she had liked and she complained to him about it, and he said you are the biggest horse‘s ass I have met in this whole campaign.  Now that would be an issue today.  That would be like a two day story. 

FOURNIER:  Well McGovern also said he thought he could win the election he could have been in everybody‘s living room.  Well no he literally can be in everybody‘s living room. 

MATTHEWS:  Saying you‘re the biggest horse‘s ass I‘ve met on my campaign?

FOURNIER:  You know, I‘m not even sure if the clip we just saw there of Santorum makes him look that bad.  It actually makes him look authentic and showing some real emotion and if candidates show more of themselves it‘s not necessarily a bad thing for them or for us.   

MATTHEWS:  But obviously it is getting to Allen?  . 

FOURNIER:  Yes, obviously it‘s getting to Allen.  I don‘t know if it is going to hurt him in Virginia, but it is certainly hurting his prospects for 2008, I think.  It is a bad thing though? 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think people will change their political allegiances because one of the candidates, a candidate they would normally vote for, George Allen, who could have been expected to win easily in this campaign, shows he‘s uncomfortable about certain things about his heritage.  Not, there‘s certain things he obviously shares with his mother.  He promised his mother he wouldn‘t talk about their Jewish heritage. 

He can‘t talk about the routes of the term Macaca, I don‘t think.  That‘s my supposition.  He comes from North Africa.  She came for North Africa.  He doesn‘t want to give up his mother in this campaign and say she taught me the word because that would make them both look bad.  It is a very uncomfortable situation in a country that is ethnically diverse and sometime contentious on ethnic issues. 

DOWD:  Well, I think the problem is not necessarily one instance or another instance.  If it becomes to tell a pattern that tells a narrative or a story, that‘s when voters start questioning things and start changing their allegiances.  And if this falls into some sort of preconception that they may have about a politician, George Allen or somebody else, then that is a problem.  So, it is not a problem on its own, one or two things.  The problem becomes if the voter sees it‘s a pattern of things. 

MATTHEWS:  Boy that‘s complicated.  Do you agree with that? 

FOURNIER:  Yes.  What this new media has allowed to happen is for Allen to show his true stripes.  And people can now decide on, you know, they have a better idea of what kind of man he is, good or bad. 

DOWD:  I don‘t necessarily agree that what Allen said was his true stripes.  I think the problem happens if somebody has a preconception about somebody, and then one instance happens or two instances happens, then it can reinforce that.  And then it can change voter behavior.  It doesn‘t necessarily mean it is true just because somebody has a preconception about it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but it‘s not like “History of Violence,” the movie where the guy turns out to have had a totally bad past as a killer in Philly.  He‘s living out in the middle of the country.  Do you know that movie, Matt?  I hope you saw it.  It‘s the best movie of the year.  Anyway, thank you Ron Fournier, thank you Matt Dowd. 

DOWD:  Glad to be here.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, Reverend Lennox Yearwood talks about a nation-wide protest he is helping to lead against the Iraq war.  He went it at the White House the other day.  And later we will look at a battle for a congressional seat in North Carolina.  It‘s one of those close races out there that will decide whether Democrats win the Congress or not.  You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Reverend Lennox Yearwood spent a few hours in jail the other day.  He was among 34 people arrested at an anti-war protest outside the White House itself.  The protest part of a week long effort to protest the war in Iraq and includes more than 400 groups, many of them with religious affiliations.  So, is the religious community mobilizing against the Iraq war? 

REVERAND LENNOX YEARWOOD, JR., FOUNDER, HIP HOP CAUCUS:  Yes we are because our conscience has left us no choice but to stand up to this illegal war. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, you used two terms, moral and illegal, which is it? 

YEARWOOD:  Well, it is our moral obligation to stand up and this war is illegal. 

MATTHEWS:  How can it be illegal if the Congress of the United States approved it? 

YEARWOOD:  The Congress of the United States approved it, but what‘s the problem is that when they went war, it was justified based upon lies and inaccuracies. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, a lie in moral terms is a purposeful mis-truth. 

YEARWOOD:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  Then you have to know motive.  Do you know that Dick Cheney, the vice president and the secretary of defense and the president, all their deputies, do you believe they got together and said let‘s lie our country in to a war? 

YEARWOOD:  It looks so.  But, as a preacher, not a politician, the one

time that our times is a time to break the silence.  Because we just can‘t

stand around any more and allow what we now know.  I can‘t go back and say

what Vice President Cheney did or President Bush did, but what we can do

MATTHEWS:  But you said lied.  I‘m just hanging on that word.

YEARWOOD:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  I mean if I had evidence of that, that would make this show very exciting tonight, but you don‘t have that evidence.

YEARWOOD:  What I do have is that we know that they did not have the evidence to go to war.  And so what we do know now ...

MATTHEWS:  They had some evidence.

YEARWOOD:  ...is they are thousands of soldiers, they are thousands of babies.

MATTHEWS:  When did you, Reverend, turn against this war?  When did you decide it was immoral? 

YEARWOOD:  I turned against this war when I knew in the beginning that this war was illegal and that we were rushing off to a war not for the right reasons, and we were just speeding down this course. 

MATTHEWS:  Under what law?  International law?  Because the American law says a president needs the support of Congress to go to war, and they gave him the blank check to go to war. 

YEARWOOD:  Well I‘m not talking about international law or American law.  What I‘m talking about is human law, when we put humanity first again.  We‘re not dealing with our law, our country and their country.  We‘re putting human people first.

MATTHEWS:  So you believe in something called natural law.  There are certain things that are wrong? 

YEARWOOD:  That‘s right, natural law and putting human people first.   

MATTHEWS:  I find that a lot of liberals don‘t.  By the way, I do, and Clarence Thomas does to.  We were taught that.  That‘s the law.  There‘s something—murder is wrong. 

YEARWOOD:  Murder is wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s ...

YEARWOOD:  It‘s life‘s commandment, that, you know, thou shalt not kill. 

MATTHEWS:  Now I want some street color here.  What was it like to go to the White House, which you grew up respecting and looking at this building where the president lives, and marching in and breaking the law?  What action did you take to get arrested? 

YEARWOOD:  Well, we sat down in front of the White House. 

MATTHEWS:  Which side of the White House did you go on? 

YEARWOOD:  We sat down in front of the gates and that‘s ... 

MATTHEWS:  The north gate, the one on Pennsylvania Avenue?  Or the one in the back? 

YEARWOOD:  The one by Lafayette—in front of Lafayette Square. 

MATTHEWS:  There you are.  There you are.  OK, Lafayette Square.

YEARWOOD:  So we‘re right in front of Lafayette Square. 

MATTHEWS:  Right in front of the White House, yes.

YEARWOOD:  And the thing about—let my say that I don‘t like to get arrested.  It isn‘t my—I don‘t get up in morning to want to get ... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what act did you commit to get arrested? 

YEARWOOD:  We sat down, like Rosa Parks did.

MATTHEWS:  On those sidewalks outside.

YEARWOOD:  We sat down on the sidewalk, like Rosa Parks had to sit

down so others could stand up.  We sat down so others could live, others

could have a life, others could live in Iraq peaceably, others could live -

we could bring the troops home now. 

MATTHEWS:  There you are.  Is that you, sir?  Is that you?

YEARWOOD:  That is me right there.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re up right next to the gate. 

YEARWOOD:  I am right next to that gate, trying to ...

MATTHEWS:  And what did the police officer—do you remember any words spoken to you by the Capitol—not the Capitol—the White House Executive Police? 

YEARWOOD:  Well, we came with a declaration of peace, because what we are trying, as the faith community—what you said earlier.  It is important for the church community.  We need to wage peace and not wage war. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, what is the biggest demonstration we are going to see in the next week?  Anywhere?  Is it going to be a big one or just 34 people?  That is not going to stop a war. 

YEARWOOD:  Well, you never know.  You never know.  It takes one person to start a war, to stroke that pen, so it takes one person to stop the war. 

MATTHEWS:  But there are 300 million people out there who are not protesting? 

YEARWOOD:  And there are over 2,600 soldiers who have died. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Without the draft, without the threat of conscription, which really was the spur of the anti-war movement, in a large extent back in the 60s, in my day, do you think you can get massive demonstrations against this war without the draft going after people? 

YEARWOOD:  I believe we can.  I am not trying to support this war by drafting more poor people ...

MATTHEWS:  No, I saying that‘s what gets people in the streets. 

YEARWOOD:  Well, I mean, if that‘s what—we are hoping that rich people don‘t want to have their kids go.  We‘re hoping that people will stop the war—rich, poor, middle class, it doesn‘t matter.  We are hoping that people, Americans can rise to their obligation. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that is the great goal of every demonstration, of every movement is to unite the needs of the poor with the fears of the rich.  You have got to get them both. 

YEARWOOD:  We have to get them both.  We have to get all of America.  You see, because in the 21st century, we can‘t keep bringing rich or poor, black or white, yellow or yellow, but it‘s time for all of us to get together. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Maybe I‘m trying to dispirit you, but you have only just begun.  Thank you, Reverend Yearwood.

YEARWOOD:  Thank you so much. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

Up next, much more on the battle for power with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, and the opposite number, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Can President Bush‘s T&T strategy—that taxes and terrorism—keep his party in control of Congress?  Can Democrats come up with a way to counter Bush‘s claim that they plan to raise taxes?  Will Bush‘s meetings with leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan get the country‘s mind off of Iraq? 

The HARDBALLers are here to dig into it all.  Hilary Rosen is a Democratic strategist, and Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council. 

Hilary, the president has been able to shift attention, I think with the help of the media—I haven‘t seen many pictures of the war lately—from Iraq and all the killing that keeps going on over there, 3,000-plus people a month getting killed over there, to this issue of terrorism per se, homeland security if you will, 9/11 reverberations.  And he keeps doing it every day with press conferences, speeches, meetings with Musharraf.  He seems to be controlling the ball, isn‘t he? 

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  You know, he is talking about terrorism, but the American people are thinking Iraq, because he made the connection originally.  He justified staying in Iraq even when they found no weapons of mass destruction by saying we are getting the terrorists.  So I don‘t think this is going to succeed. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but we are not seeing the cost of that ...

ROSEN:  The American people are not going to forget about Iraq. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I think we‘re not seeing the costs of the war the way they‘re really being incurred, and he‘s winning because he is focusing on the reason why we would go to war with Iraq, the original reason, which is self-defense—Tony. 

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  I actually think Iraq is kind of the face of a faceless enemy.  And that is where this battle is playing out, and I think the more the Democrats try and make this an issue, the better the president does.  Because, in fact, our constituents—social conservatives—they actually support the president in greater numbers on this issue than ... 

MATTHEWS:  On Iraq? 

PERKINS:  On Iraq and on the war on terror. 

MATTHEWS:  They say yes to the question of we should have gone to Iraq? 

PERKINS:  They see—as they president described it, this is a battle between good and evil.  They understand that terminology.  They understand that there‘s good and there‘s bad and there‘s right and wrong.  And they support the president on this, and I even think ...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Even though they see that people over there are fighting each other?

PERKINS:  They understand it‘s a quagmire.  Now I think when you get to the discussion of can we successfully build democracies in the Middle East, then I think you run into more thornier—

MATTHEWS:  Skepticism?

PERKINS:  You do, because they don‘t have the framework that we had over here, that supports democracy.  They don‘t have the focus on individuals rights.  Earlier in the year the Afghan Christian that was arrested for his Christianity and then in Indonesia three Christians that were executed earlier. 

MATTHEWS:  You are so smart.  Because, you know, if you look at American history, and this is not left wing- right wing, most of the really good ideas in American history are about freedom, women‘s rights, African American rights, came from outside of government.  They didn‘t come from the imposition of government.  You know, we had Thomas, what was his last name?  The guy who wrote “Common Sense.” 

PERKINS:  Thomas Payne.

MATTHEWS:  Thomas Payne in January of 1776 said America should declare it‘s independence.  It will get world wide support.  Six months later the Continental Congress did just that, the second Continental Congress.  And you know, if you look at abolition, it came from John Brown.  If you look at environmentalism, it came from “Silent Spring.”  And so many of the, consumerisms, all the good ideas seem to come from outside of government, but in Iraq, we‘re bring them in officially.  And you‘re saying that doesn‘t work that way. 

ROSEN:  We are not bringing them in officially, I think.  What we are doing, actually, is the opposite.  Tony may be right that good ideas come from outside, but—

MATTHEWS:  No, I said that.  But he says they have to come from somewhere inside the country. 

ROSEN:  Look, I hope the people take Tony‘s advice because 30 percent of the people agree with Tony and 70 percent disagree with the president here. 

MATTHEWS:  That seemed malicious.  You want the president to blow it. 

ROSEN:  Of course. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean it‘s more important to have people killed in Iraq so you guys can win a couple congressional seats?  Are you serious about this.

ROSEN:  No, of course not. 

MATTHEWS:  I hope not. 

ROSEN:  No, I‘m saying if talks about, taking his advice to talk about Iraq, not to do anything in Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  The president is saying let‘s impose a government on the people of Iraq.  We have been fighting a cultural militia there now for, you know, several years.  This is not going to succeed exactly because the cultural religious sects of Iraq want to self-govern and we have decided no.  We are going to tell you how you need to be governed.  We‘re not going to do power sharing.  We‘re not going to respect your individual sects and cultures and we‘re not going to succeed.

MATTHEWS:  And we don‘t have the iron fist that the bad guys had.  We don‘t have the iron fist that Saddam Hussein had. 

ROSEN:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Which was a willingness to crush and kill and gas opposition. 

PERKINS:  We have brought Democratic ideals to a country that has no ideas of democracy.  That‘s the challenge, but—

ROSEN:  That is the most insulting thing you could possibly say. 

PERKINS:  Well it‘s true.  It is absolutely true. 

MATTHEWS:  We are trying to export democracy by gunpowder? 

ROSEN:  That‘s right. 

PERKINS:  No.  What we are doing is we are defending this nation and there is good and evil and the president has been right in identifying that that is a hot bed for those who want to destroy us.

MATTHEWS:  What is the connection between Iraq and 9/11?  I‘m just asking.  The president said there is none.  Do you agree with him? 

PERKINS:  I agree.  Why would I disagree with him on that.  But there obviously is a connection between Iraq, radical Islam --. 

MATTHEWS:  But that‘s not radical Islam.  It‘s a Baathists state.  They‘re nationalists.  They are secular.  They have got nothing to do with this Islamic fascism the president is talking about.  No listen.  Let him talk.  What is the connection? 

PERKINS:  They had a goal, under Saddam Hussein, they had a plan. 

They were developing the weapons of mass destruction. 

MATTHEWS:  They were? 

PERKINS:  They were. 

MATTHEWS:  Where is the evidence? 

PERKINS:  Well, the evidence is from Israeli reports that they are in Syria now, that they were transported by -- 

MATTHEWS:  You buy this stuff? 

PERKINS:  Yes, I buy this stuff.   

MATTHEWS:  Why?  Why do you want to believe something like that without evidence? 

PERKINS:  What do you mean evidence?  The Israeli military apparently has the photos of it, that, in fact, they did transfer this material over to Syria. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you taking their say so on this, just the Israeli military?  Where did you hear this from?  I never heard this from anybody.

PERKINS:  From folks in Israel. 

MATTHEWS:  Who are these people that told you this?  The governors never said, Olmert‘s never said this.

PERKINS:  The folks in the military in Israel have pin-pointed this. 

ROSEN:  And the White House has never said this.  You know, we‘ve spent—

MATTHEWS:  So you believe what you hear over there, just on the say so of a couple of military guys? 

PERKINS:  I believe it, yes. 

ROSEN:  Don‘t you think if they had the evidence the White House would be transporting it all across Iraq?

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t believe anybody ought to say so anymore.  I believe nobody. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Look, the people you talked to had a strong incentive to get us to mobilize against the Iraqis than ever. 

PERKINS:  No, this was after the fact.  This was after the fact.

ROSEN:  Well, you know, if there was such evidence, the White House would be sure we would find it.  We have spent $320 billion—

MATTHEWS:  If they had their nuclear weapons, they had their weapons of mass destruction in Syria.  Well no nuclear, that‘s what got us into the war. 

PERKINS:  Chemical.

MATTHEWS:  How many countries over there don‘t have chemical and biological?

PERKINS:  But how many of them are using them and how many want to use them? 

MATTHEWS:  OK, what got us into the war was nuclear.  As long as you‘re not claiming they‘re nuclear, I can live.  No mushroom clouds over the horizon. 

PERKINS:  I didn‘t say that.

MATTHEWS:  Hillary Rosen, Tony Perkins are staying with us.  And a reminder tonight on “COUNTDOWN,” former President Bill Clinton, what a get, joins Keith Olbermann.  That‘s tonight at 8:00 Eastern.  And this week on NBC‘s “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert interviews Bill Clinton again at a special time, 1:00 p.m. Eastern, following the Rider Cup.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We are back with Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. 

So, when it comes down to it, you know, I have been trying to short hand this election just so I can understand it.  And I go by what politicians say because it tells me what they think sells.  And the Democrats keep talking about Iraq, you, and Bush, you.  You want it in all the commercials, right? 

ROSEN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  An ideal Democratic commercial would be Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Bush, Bush, Bush, vote Democrat, right?

ROSEN:  Well no, I would add one more.

MATTHEWS:  What?

ROSEN:  Which is where you are going, I would say and the Clinton economy can come back. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, great.  And you Reverend, I mean.  You‘re not a Reverend are you?  Tony Perkins, your philosophy would be terrorism is a danger to America and we have to fight it on all fronts.  Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism and if the Republicans get in, and this is for the business Republicans, taxes, taxes, taxes.  We will keep them down, the Democrats are going to raise them?  T and T, I and B.

PERKINS:  No I would say there are two threats, one internal, one external.  Externally terrorism does pose a threat to the nation.  Internally it‘s the social issues, in particular the redefinition of marriage continues to be a major issue across the country.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe on that front, and I know you care about it Hillary, that front, seems to me fading as an issue because the courts are finally getting humble, which they ought to be, and saying it‘s not up to us, Massachusetts and New York.  It‘s up to the legislatures, up to the politicians.  In other words, it‘s not going to be a scare tactic that judges are taking away your old traditional values; it‘s really going to be up to the states now? 

PERKINS:  It‘s not the issue it was in 2004. 

MATTHEWS:  Because it‘s been left up to the states.

PERKINS:  Well, you‘ve had 16 states pass amendments, 18 will have them on the ballot this fall.  The perceived threat is not as great as it was two years ago.  The threat is still there.

MATTHEWS:  Why is it a threat if the public chooses to—for gay marriage or chooses for civil unions?  Why is that a threat to the republic if states choose to do this?

PERKINS:  Well, if the states choose to do it.  But the states are not choosing to do it.  When people have a chance to vote, it‘s over 71 percent of the people vote...

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Then why would anyone be afraid of this gay marriage issue?

PERKINS:  The courts.  There are still the courts.  The court—they are still in the pipeline.  The federal courts...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I sense the courts have turned it over to the people.  What do you think? 

PERKINS:  Not the federal courts.

ROSEN:  I think—well, first of all, I think the courts should interpret the Constitution and (inaudible). 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  ... a political matter, those places where this issue was alive this election are really not where there are hotly contested races.  I don‘t think it is going to be a factor. 

MATTHEWS:  It certainly (inaudible) Ohio.  It decided the election in Ohio.

PERKINS:  I disagree.  I mean, you‘ve got Virginia, you‘ve got Tennessee, two (inaudible). 

MATTHEWS:  Nobody says the gay issue, the gay marriage issue has helped the Democrats, I can tell you that.  And I thank you, Tony Perkins and Hilary Rosen.  They disagree on that one.

Up next, NBC‘s John Harwood will tell us about a knockdown, dragout fight for a House seat in North Carolina.  We‘re looking for that iconic race for Congress to tell us how the whole picture looks.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood, also of “The Wall Street Journal,” has a closer look today at the hotly contested House race in North Carolina.  John, give us this iconic race to tell us all about the national race. 

JOHN HARWOOD, WALL STREET JOURNAL:  Chris, we‘ve talked for months about the role of Iraq and the economy in the elections, but this is the point in the campaign when candidates get personal.  In other words, it‘s slime time. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARWOOD (voice-over):  Western North Carolina has beautiful views of the great Smoky Mountains, and an ugly campaign for Congress.  Incumbent Republican Charles Taylor chairs a powerful House subcommittee that brings money back home. 

REP. CHARLES TAYLOR ®, NORTH CAROLINA:  I want to tell you why we‘re going to win. 

HARWOOD:  Ex-football star Heath Shuler is his Democratic challenger, running on conservative values. 

HEATH SHULER (D-NC), CANDIDATE FOR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:  When the church door opened, I was there with my grandmother. 

HARWOOD:  But to watch their TV ads, you‘d think both men are bums. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Taylor skipped a critical vote to save thousands of American jobs, but got an award for creating jobs in Russia. 

Mr. Taylor, American families should come first. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Records show that before he filed to run, he didn‘t even bother to vote in at least six congressional elections.  Shuler just moved back here in 2003.

Heath Shuler for Congress—who is he kidding?

HARWOOD:  Local voters are already fed up, with the elections still six weeks away. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of mud.  Not much substance to what they‘re saying.  Both throwing the same ideas back at each other. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  At this point, I just tune it all out.  You know, the first thing, as soon as it starts coming on TV, it‘s like, oh, here they go again, or, no, I don‘t want to listen to it, or I leave the room.

HARWOOD (on camera):  Voters here in Asheville and across the country better get used to it.  A top strategist recently advised Republican candidates: Keep the tough ads running right up to election day. 

(voice-over):  Democrats use attacks to fuel demand for change.

SHULER:  The subsidies of the big oil companies and the pharmaceutical and the insurance industries, subsidizing their windfall profits is not the way to go. 

HARWOOD:  Republicans try to survive discontent with Washington by driving up opponent‘s negatives. 

TAYLOR:  If he believes what‘s being said, then he‘s truly lying, and that lacks integrity.

HARWOOD:  Shuler says getting hit by NFL linemen hurt more, but...

SHULER:  I‘m so thankful that my kids are so young that they don‘t understand the TV ads.  You know, and kind of the mudslinging that goes back and forth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARWOOD:  Now, Chris, as you know, the goal of a lot of these attacks is to drive down enthusiasm within the other campaign.  So the question on election day may be who still has the appetite to vote.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it doesn‘t make a real good case for a civics lesson, what you just showed here.  Anybody watches that and says, I‘m not going to run for Congress.  I‘m not going to go back where I came from and try to get hooked up with people.  They knock him for being in the district three years—well, that‘s a long time to live somewhere.  If you went back there to live there—to run for Congress, and they‘re making him sound like a fugitive. 

HARWOOD:  Right, and a lot of people remember—Heath Shuler did play football in western North Carolina.  So I think that attack by Taylor isn‘t likely to go too far. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the voice you hear?  Who are these—have you been able to figure out these studio voices of this sort of dangerous, menacing voice, like almost—where do these guys live?  The people that give these voiceovers? 

HARWOOD:  There are several of them out in Howard County.  They—there‘s a fairly small cadre of voice—of campaign voice people.  And I did a story on them a couple of years ago.  And they say, well, you know, you want me to do the voice of god, or you want me to do evil creepy?  And you know, they go the whole range. 

MATTHEWS:  Whatever happened to, you know, morning in America, the guy that was that had a very nice voice, you know, and then now they do this spooky, you know—there‘s a trouble in River City, they‘re coming to get you. 

HARWOOD:  Right, and this one was interesting because it was two men doing the negative.  Sometimes campaigns try to soften the onus of the negative in their ads by using a female voice to do the attacks.  But you know, this is red state, so they‘re going with the red meat. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the president, because we were talking about it earlier in the show.  It seems to me a lot of people believe this is going to be a vote on Bush.  If—because we keep looking at the Bush approval number.  It‘s bopping up to a little bit in the low 40s now.  In “The Wall Street Journal” poll, it‘s up a bit.  Do you think that bopping up of Bush in the polls is going to save 10 or so seats? 

HARWOOD:  I think it will save some.  There‘s no question that Republicans benefit the higher Bush‘s approval rating is.  The question is, how high does it have to go really to have an impact?  Probably has the most impact in open-seat races, where you don‘t have an incumbent on either side, who has an independent identity.  And so they‘re more likely to fluctuate. 

But so far, what Democrats are saying is, yes, Bush has improved his standing.  We haven‘t seen that on the bottom line. 

And one of the things that‘s interesting, when you really talk to strategists on both sides, there isn‘t that much difference in their assessment.  Everybody agrees Democrats are going to gain seats in both the House and the Senate.  Republicans, Democrats agree on that.  The question is, are they going to gain enough to win a majority?

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see that develop over the next couple of weeks. 

Thank you, John Harwood.

Play HARDBALL with us on Monday.  Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.”

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