updated 9/29/2006 11:42:56 AM ET 2006-09-29T15:42:56

Guests: Matthew Continenti, Howard Fineman, Craig Crawford, Mike Allen, Barry McCaffrey, Ben Ginsberg, Hillary Rosen, Michael Smerconish

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Charges of racism in the Virginia Senate race.  What words were used and what did they tell us?  Tonight an exclusive interview with a woman who says she witnessed George Allen repeatedly using a racial slur.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Tonight we zero in what has become the fiercest, the nastiest Senate race in the country, Virginia.  Tonight in a HARDBALL exclusive we bring you our interview with Patricia Waring, the former wife of Allen‘s rugby coach the year after he graduated from law school.  She says that she heard Allen using the N-word at a rugby game in the late 1970‘s.  HARDBALL David Shuster has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just six weeks before the congressional elections and Virginia‘s incumbent Senator George Allen is now facing more charges that he used racial slurs.  Pat Waring of Chestertown, Maryland first brought her story to MSNBC when she contacted us in a direct phone call.  We then conducted a series of interviews.  Waring says that a sports match in the late 1970‘s, Allen repeatedly used the N-word to describe blacks. 

PATRICIA WARING, ALLEN ACCUSER:  I just didn‘t think in the late 1970‘s people would be so ugly and so overt about it, so public. 

SHUSTER:  Waring says that in 1978 she and her then husband Robert Michael Schwartz had just moved to Charlottesville, Virginia.  Friends from the time confirm Schwartz was a P.H.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, an avid rugby player, and the volunteer coach of the school‘s rugby club team.  MSNBC has confirmed also Pat Waring worked in a doctor‘s office and came to some of the rugby games.  Waring says there is one game from either the Fall of 1978 or the Spring of 1979 that she will never forget.   

WARING:  I heard too my left the N-word and I heard it again and I looked around and I heard it again and there was this fellow sitting on the ground.  He was putting on red rugby shoes.  It is seared in my brain, believe me.  And he was kind of showing off, I guess.  But he was telling a story about something or other and in the story there were a lot of N-words.  So I got out of the bleacher and I went over and I said, young man, I‘m the coach‘s wife and if you don‘t mind, would you please not use that word.  And he in essence told me to buzz off. 

And I thought, OK, so I went back to the bleacher and I said to the boy beside me, a man, who is that kid?  And he said, oh, that‘s George Allen.  And I said—and he said, as he started to say, the coach‘s kid, I said the coach‘s kid?  And I was just crestfallen.  I thought, my god, this can‘t be, he can‘t just sit there in front of all these people.  There were people all over the place and he was talking loudly or I never would have heard him. 

SHUSTER:  Waring says the incident has stayed with her because of the N-word, because Allen‘s father had been coach of the Washington Redskins in the 1970s and because she is a lifelong Redskins fan. 

WARING:  I wear it around.  I‘m not ashamed to wear it. 

SHUSTER:  But there is more to the story.  A few weeks after the alleged incident at the rugby game, she says she and an elderly relative ran into Allen at a local fair. 

WARING:  Loping across the field came this young man and as I recall, he was politicking then.  And he shook my aunt‘s hand and I hadn‘t told her anything about this because she was so upsettable and such a sweet old lady that I wouldn‘t have wanted her to even here this ugly story.  But when he got to me and she shook his hand—when he got to me, he didn‘t recognize me.  And I did not shake his hand. 

I just looked him in the eye and said you don‘t remember me, do you.  And then he remembered me.  And then I can see the light go on in his eyes and at that point he turned and scurried off like a scared rabbit, I guess. 

SHUSTER:  The aunt who allegedly witnessed the run in at the fair passed away.  But another Waring relative Beverly Bruster, who graduated from the U.V.A. law school one year behind Allen, told us Waring talked about the alleged Allen incident at the time.  Another relative whom we spoke to says Waring told the story through the years and several people say she talked about it this summer. 

WARING:  I have thought about it since I heard that George Allen was being considered as a Republican—a person to run possible candidate for the presidency.  And I thought, well, gee in that case I guess I will have to speak up but then Macaca presented itself. 

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  Let‘s give a welcome to Macaca here. 

Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia. 

SHUSTER:  Macaca is a racial slur among French speaking people from North African countries like Tunisia.  Allen‘s mother grew up in Tunisia.  But on “Meet The Press” recently—

TIM RUSSERT, NBC ANCHOR:  Where did the word come from?  It must have been in your consciousness.

ALLEN:  It is just made up, it‘s just made.  Made up word.

RUSSERT:  You had never heard it before? 

ALLEN:  Never heard of it before. 

SHUSTER:  This week, as he has in the past, Allen also repeatedly denied ever using the N-word. 

ALLEN:  My response to this article is that it is completely false in its allegations.  I do not remember ever using that word. 

SHUSTER:  Neal Brendel, who played rugby with George Allen and remembers sitting at some games with Pat Waring says he does not remember the alleged incident.  Furthermore Brendel says, quote, I don‘t recall ever hearing Allen use the N-word on or off the field, nor do I recall him ever talking about anybody unfairly.

(on camera):  In 1979, while practicing law, George Allen began his political career by running for the Virginia House of Delegates. 

Why not try to tell the story at the time? 

WARING:  Soon after that, I left Charlottesville and I moved to Connecticut and so I was really kind of divorced from all that.  I didn‘t know what was going on in Virginia.  Unless you got the “New York Times” and I wasn‘t really interested. 

SHUSTER:  You volunteer, you acknowledge you are a registered Democrat. 

WARING:  I am indeed. 

SHUSTER:  You volunteer at the local Democratic office? 

WARING:  I do. 

SHUSTER:  Once a week? 

WARING:  Once a week,

SHUSTER:  Couple hours?

WARING:  Yes.

SHUSTER:  What do you do for them? 

WARING I sit there and answer the phone and give people signs. 

SHUSTER (voice-over):  The Democratic challenger to Allen in Virginia is Jim Webb. 

Have you ever had any contact with anybody in the Webb campaign or any of his supporters in Virginia. 

WARING:  No. 

SHUSTER:  Have you ever had any contact with the Virginia Democratic party?

WARING:  No.

SHUSTER:  If George Allen was the Democratic candidate in this race? 

WARING:  I‘d nail him even harder.  That‘s what I‘d do. 

SHUSTER:  Waring says she would challenge the person no matter what party they belong to.  She says the issue with Allen is not that he allegedly used the N-word all those years ago but that she believes he is lying today. 

WARING:  When George Allen stood right up and said he never used that word and that just blue me away.  I thought, boy, you could if you had any integrity, you would say yes, I may have made some mistakes in my youth, in my younger year, and I‘m sorry, but to hear him lie about it when I know he is lying—

SHUSTER (on camera):  Senator Allen‘s campaign manager says this is all just another false accusation and that it is not true. 

When asked how he knows that it is not true, the campaign manager said simply it is not true.  There have been a number of published records quoting some former George Allen teammates who say they never heard Allen use the N-word and so, in the end, this is a story about who do you believe, George Allen or his latest accuser. 

I‘m David Schuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  We should also note that we called and left messages for Senator Allen himself, inviting him or any representative of his campaign he chose to appear on our program tonight.  I spoke also tonight to his campaign manager Dick Wadhams, who said, as it was quoted there, this is just the latest false allegation.  It‘s not true. 

When I said how do you know Dick, whether it is true or not, he just kept saying almost robotically it‘s not true, it‘s not true.  We‘re joined now by MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman of “Newsweek Magazine” and of course Matthew Continenti, who wrote a big story on the cover of the “Weekly Standard” about this very topic.  Is he in disfavor now with the conservatives, with the neo-conservatives. 

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, THE “WEEKLY STANDARD”:  I would say so. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the cause of this?

CONTINETTI:  He wasn‘t the foremost presidential candidate to begin with.

MATTHEWS:  What was the alienation about?  What is the problem?  Is it this or is it something else? 

CONTINETTI:  There‘s also the fact that, you know. Allen was associated as being the candidate most like Bush, always compared with Bush, likened to Reagan.  And in this type of political environment, that‘s not necessarily the guy you want.  Also, he is a Washington creature and there are so many different Washington Republicans running for president.  you ought to be leery of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Howard, this is a tough one in the sense that nobody wants to be, or I certainly don‘t want to be, hypocritical about this and ethnicity in this country is real.  We are a polyglot.  There is controversy, there‘s conflict, there‘s rivalry, there‘s turf battles.  People say all kinds of things throughout their lives.  But it seems like the charge here is, just to be narrow about it, that this guy has a particular pattern here, that showed itself back after he got out of law school.  There‘s accusations more recently than that.  What do you make of that? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, a few things.  First of all, denials by Senator Allen or his campaign don‘t have a lot of credibility right now.  There are still a lot of people who don‘t believe that the word Macaca was just an accident, --

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t believe it.

FINEMAN:  -- that it just materialized out of thin air and I don‘t believe it either, knowing the family history.  There are questions about how he responded to revelations about his Jewish background, family background, seemingly in denial, if not actually not telling the truth about what he knew after he knew it.

MATTHEWS:  Right up to the day before he came clean.

FINEMAN:  Right up to the day before.

So the real issue here, in terms of his character, are two things.  There is the race question and there is the honesty question.  And right now, his denials don‘t carry much impact.  That‘s the cumulative effect of this right now.  I must add, as you were saying before, only in America would we have a film clip about the sensitivity of the word race with a lady wearing a Redskins hat. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Some words become very familiar to the point they don‘t mean anything. 

FINEMAN:  Some do.  And some don‘t.

MATTHEWS:  Well, a lot of words end up not meaning nothing. 

FINEMAN:  By the way, also I went to a meeting of the evangelical conservatives, the Bible-believing Christians, political activists, last Friday, Dr. James Dobson‘s group.  A lot of the presidential candidates came seeking their favor.  Allen got a polite reception.  But everybody I talked to there, there wasn‘t a single one of them, and I talked to 30, 40 people, who supported Allen. 

MATTHEWS:  You reported this story? 

CONTINETTI:  Steve Jarding, his opponent, Webb‘s main adviser, says that Allen‘s big thing has always been his likability, but the more these allegations come out, they undercut, they subvert that likability. 

We should also point out there are plenty of new voters in Virginia who don‘t know George Allen.  He‘s been a figure in Virginia politics now for three decades.  But the growth in northern Virginia, in particular, is so incredible that many people don‘t know this guy.  And so they‘re being introduced to him now, and that is a problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Here is the reporting that ought to be done between now and election for the benefit of the voter out there who has to make a decision.  What of the people on his staff who may be African-American think of him?  what are do the towns—the mayors in Virginia, I‘m sure there are some African-American mayors in that state, who would have a comment about how helpful he has been to their projects?  Is there any evidence in his public life of serious prejudicial attitudes?  Any evidence in his public life?  And if there isn‘t evidence of it, what‘s the relevance of this stuff? 

FINEMAN:  And he‘s made an effort, certainly in more recent years, to demonstrate sensitivity to race questions in terms of Martin Luther King Holiday, in terms of talking about apologizing for the history of lynching in the state and so forth. 

There is another equation here that is interesting.  Northern Virginia has changed so much.  There are immigrants from all over the world in Virginia.  It‘s one of the most polyglot in all of America.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, there‘s like 10,000 South Asians there in the high tech industry. 

FINEMAN:   The whole macaca thing, he went after this kid who not only was from that community, but was a graduate of the premiere high school in the whole state, Thomas Jefferson High School.  A smart kid, a kid who was of symbol of striving and integration into the new America.  So there was a double, triple hit on there of insensitivity when he went after that kid. 

CONTINETTI:  I think you hit on something, Chris, when you said, you know, people are going to ask, well, this happened, these allegations all happened years ago in the ‘70s when he was in college.  We have a danger talking here, I think, just talking to conservative activists, conservatives on the street, they think this is a witch hunt.  They‘re not believing these allegations, they don‘t want to hear them.  They think this is liberal media bias.

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t believe these things happened, or they don‘t think they‘re relevant. 

CONTINETTI:  They don‘t think they‘re relevant, they don‘t think they happened.  These are normal, conservative voters. 

MATTHEWS:  They think that these people all made this up? 

CONTINETTI:  Made it up.  Well, that‘s was the Allen campaign is saying, right? 

FINEMAN:  They might think that, but at least in terms of the people that I talked to at this Dobson event, there was nobody interested because they see what is happened here.  They see what‘s happened here. 

And the interesting thing is, I don‘t think Allen appreciates it.  I think he can turn this thing around.  I think he can jujitsu it in a way.  There‘s got to be a way for him to try. 

But there are ads right now, that the Allen campaign has up now, is a strong attack ad on Jim Webb, the Democratic candidate, accusing him of sexist attitudes at the Naval Academy in the ‘70s.  In a way he is validating the focus on old behavior. 

MATTHEWS:  So, so is your old man is the response? 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  But also, he is validating the focus on behavior from long ago, which is not what he should be doing. 

CONTINETTI:  There are two approaches that the Allen campaign thinks he can take at this moment.  Turn the spotlight on Webb and also introduce policies into this campaign.  They think Webb is a nonstarter, a  candidate with only one issue.  They want to talk about energy, they want to talk about education.  The more these allegations come out, Chris, they can‘t talk about those issues. 

MATTHEWS:  The problem they have, it seems to me, the base will stick with Allen, 47 percent.  But to win reelection, he has to convince the more moderate Republicans who find some of this racial stuff very tacky, to put it lightly, even if it‘s in the pass, and that‘s his problem. 

He is going to have to deal with this because these things keep coming now.  This woman came to us.  We didn‘t enterprise this woman, she called me up with the story and she stuck to it since we got to her. 

CONTINETTI:  She did because she heard he was running for president. 

That‘s the key, that‘s the whole new level. 

MATTHEWS:  Once you go, once it‘s out you‘re running for the big job, people put you to a higher standard, as well they should.  Thank you very much, Howard Fineman and Matt Continetti.  We‘ll talk more about this story with Craig Crawford and Mike Allen when we come back.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let‘s talk some more about the newest accusation against Senator Allen with MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford and “Time Magazine‘s”  Mike Allen. 

Mike, you‘ve covered this gentleman, Senator Allen, and I know him and like him.  All these year, I didn‘t know any of this stuff.  Well, where it is coming from?  And how does it fit into your knowledge and coverage of this man? 

MIKE ALLEN, TIME MAGAZINE:  Well, it doesn‘t fit into what most people know about Senator Allen.  And that‘s one problem for him.  As you guys know, Virginia has a lot of new residents, new voters, very transient, and so for a lot of potential voters, this is the first information they‘re going to have about Senator Allen. 

Secondly, another way that the state is changing is it is becoming more urban.  So these—some of these allegations that are being made about Senator Allen, the sort of Bubba-ness factor that at one time in Virginia might have been fine for him, or even helpful, could be very, very harmful. 

What the Allen people say is, you know, this is the latest person that DNC‘s dragged in, no corroboration.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  The problem with that Mike, and Craig, is the DNC did not say “macaca”.   He opened this envelope.  And the envelope has a lot more stuff than...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  It is humorous to me to hear that coming from them.  This was the side of the Swift boaters, I mean, and this is Swift boat, and it‘s a concern because when you have this environment where acquaintances from the distant past can get into a swearing contest of something that you said or something that happened and we can‘t verify any of it, we get caught in this, in what is basically a swearing contest.  And that‘s essentially what Swift boat was with John Kerry in 2004.

MATTHEWS:  Remember I had Larry Sabato on last week, the professor of political science at UVA, and I asked him, can you swear to the fact he used the n word in a way that was significant to him.  And he said, he didn‘t want to say swear to, he wasn‘t going to take an oath on this show, but he said I know. 

ALLEN:  Right, and he said that he had not heard it. 

MATTHEWS:  He eventually said that.

He either heard it directly or heard it from someone else, he said he wouldn‘t tell us which.  Later on, he said he hadn‘t heard it directly. 

CRAWFORD:  But the scorecard here of who‘s on the record, who‘s let their names be used, we‘re at roughly something like two, I think this woman in Schuster‘s report makes it two, who say...

MATTHEWS:  More coming, by the way.

CRAWFORD:  ... say that he did it, and about seven who say that he didn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  I think the transoms are busy right now, getting stuff under the floor—under the door from a lot of people now.  People—he knew a lot of people in his life.

Now here‘s the political question.  If there‘s been no evidence, I asked in the last segment, if there‘s been no evidence in his public life, starting as a state rep, in the ‘80s, ‘90s and now, this century, if there‘s no evidence throughout this public life of this man that he has shown prejudice against African-Americans in any way that could be detected, why are we talking about it? 

ALLEN:  Chris, obviously...

MATTHEWS:  Except this macaca one.  I agree that was a direct ethnic shot and there is no way to deny it.  It comes from a place and his mother came from that place.  It was an appropriate use of an ethnic slur, meaning it was an awful use of an ethnic slur.

CRAWFORD:  It just wasn‘t believable that he made up that word. 

MATTHEWS:  No, it is not believable. 

CRAWFORD:  He might as well say he made up the N-word—“Never heard it before.”

ALLEN:  Chris, voters are right to care about the character of the person that they elected, and of course in a presidential race, this would be more even more important.  And the Allen theory is, if he wins in November, that he‘ll get sort of a clean slate:  people like a winner and that he will have a chance.

MATTHEWS:  Exactly what I was thinking:  he can use this election as his jury.  If he passes muster with the voters, he can say, The voters had a chance to look at the record and they decided there was nothing there. 

ALLEN:  It‘s old news.

CRAWFORD:  But the reason we‘re talking about it, to answer your question, is because he is denying it and I think he could make it go away if it were true. 

MATTHEWS:  He has obviously settled on a plan, which is to deny everything.  That is a reasonable political—let‘s talk politics here.  Let‘s drop the moral piece of this, or the social piece of this.  Isn‘t it smart politics to deny everything? 

CRAWFORD:  I don‘t think so in a situation like this one where you have the swearing contest, we have some fairly believable people—even though they are Democrats—coming forward.  In a case like this, if there is truth to it—it depends on whether it‘s true—and if it is true—

MATTHEWS:  We know the macaca case is on the record—he had tape of it.

CRAWFORD:  -- he is better off, you know doing what this woman said in Shuster‘s piece. 

MATTHEWS:  If he has to give up his mother and say my mommy taught me that word, he is not only giving up his mother, which is a little bit unchivalrous, but he is also admitting he knew the meaning of the word when he used it.  That‘s his problem.  That is not past history; that‘s current history.  I think he has got a problem.

We‘ll be back with Craig Crawford and Mike Allen; they‘re staying with

us.  To see David Shuster‘s report we just showed, go to politics.msnbc.com

And later, HARDBALLers Ben Ginsberg and Hillary Rosen and Michael Smerconish will be here to break down the latest news in the battle for control of Congress.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford and Time magazine‘s Mike Allen.

Mike, John McCain is going to stand up for this guy‘s character.  Have you heard?  He is going to do an ad for him, George Allen. 

ALLEN:  That will be important.  We were just talking about the difference that character witnesses for Senator Allen could make, who say that this does not comport with what they know.  And Craig—

MATTHEWS:  Did he boomerang this thing?

ALLEN:  I‘ll tell you, one thing I‘ve noticed about Senator Allen, he is not—this has not sort of pushed him into a corner.  You saw Senator Allen stopping in the halls of the Senate to talk to reporters, something you‘ll never see Senator Clinton do.  The other day I saw him at the Family Research Counsel, the big Christian conservative group.  He spoke, and then, unlike every other speaker, hung around with his wife, Susan, to greet voters there. 

Chris, today I talked to Allen strategists—they have a two-part strategy.  One, they‘re going to continue the ad you were mentioning in your first segment, continue drawing attention to statements his opponent, Webb, has made in the past that they think will make it hard for Democrats to hold moderate women.  And second, Senator Allen, you‘ll hear him talking more and more about his record like he did on “MEET THE PRESS” with Tim Russert—he almost sounded like a mayor in talking about specific roads and other things he did.  His message is, I‘ve been here and I can deliver for you. 

CRAWFORD:  I think he has just two choices:  either he sticks with this denial—and if he‘s going to do that, he‘s got to get very intense.  He‘s got to go ballistic on these accusers and show some passion.  That will give people some faith that he is telling the truth.  Or he has got to fess up, if it turns out—if it is true that he used this word, I think he can turn around, do the mea culpa thing. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re so naive.  You know what he ought to do?  You‘re so naive.  What he does is—

CRAWFORD:  It‘s been done—Richard Nixon‘s Checkers speech.

MATTHEWS:  -- he comes out and says it didn‘t happen.  He says it never happened.  He gives all the denials to his confederates out there that agree with him.  Give them all the denials they want; it‘ll help him.  And then what he does, last couple of weeks of the campaign, he appeals on a broader case:  I‘m a good guy, I have good people around me.  I‘m a good man.  He doesn‘t do the specific denial, the point defense.  He just defends himself in general and he has people around him who say he is a good guy. 

So for the people who want to believe it, the base, he gives them complete denials.  For people in the middle, he gives them a broader appeal, Hey look, you know me, I‘m a pretty good guy, this isn‘t really fair. 

CRAWFORD:  The trouble with continuing to deny is, you‘re encouraging more people to come forward.  That‘s what brought this woman out for Shuster‘s piece.  She said saw him—she thought he was lying.

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  Maybe you‘re right.  But I think he is going to continue to deny.

CRAWFORD:  He‘s going to face more and more of these. 

MATTHEWS:  He can‘t give up his mother.  He can‘t blame it on her.  My mommy taught me a bad word; I keep using it.  He can‘t do that. 

ALLEN:  Chris, the reason you‘re right is that politics is like dating: if you‘re explain, you are losing. 

MATTHEWS:  And also, people have common sense.  They all grew up in America and they know that ethnic prejudice and stuff like that is part of what we‘re trying to get rid of for two hundred years.  It is not something we never heard of.

Mike Allen and Craig Crawford, thanks for joining us.

Up next we‘re going to talk with General Barry McCaffrey about some newly-released video.  Wait until you see this stuff, showing the horror of the violence in Iraq. 

And this Sunday on NBC‘s MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert moderates a debate between the Senate candidates in Ohio—Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Supply convoys in Iraq getting attacked by insurgents, happens almost daily.  But when such an attack is captured on amateur videotape, it offers a graphic view of the horrors of war.  In September 2005, a year ago, a convoy was attacked near Balad, Iraq and it was captured by truck driver Preston Wheeler of KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.  When the attack was over three drivers were dead and two, including Wheeler, were wounded.  Wheeler claims the convoy‘s army escort sped away once the gunfire began.  Here is his video taken from the cab of his truck. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  IED on the left side, two IEDs.  Gun five, truck five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Keep moving guys, get out of the kill zone. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jesus Christ, help us all lord. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck down, truck went down.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go around, go around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Calm down!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go around, go around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck three is down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are fixing to—truck five is stalled out. 

Jesus Christ.  I am—truck five cannot move.  Please help me!  I‘m taking fire.  10-4, come back. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He is taking fire. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m fixing to get killed (EXPLETIVE DELETED). 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck five, move out of the way if you can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I cannot move. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck five, move to the right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Move up to truck eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck five cannot move.  Copy? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You guys we got to go.  We got to go.  Come on now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck five is down.  It cannot move.  I‘m getting shot. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gun truck, gun truck, gun truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m bleeding out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, truck five is down.  I am trapped in my truck.  I need some help. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truck three is down.  Are you OK? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Keep your head on your shoulders, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, I have no gun back here and truck five and I am by myself. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I can‘t see what is going on up there.  Somebody‘s going to have to help me.  We‘ve got to get to him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They just killed him.  Oh, Jesus.  They just killed him.  Oh, my god.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s as close as you want to get.  For the military perspective of this videotaped attack on the civilian truck drivers in Iraq, we turn to MSNBC military analyst and retired general Barry McCaffrey. 

This one, here is the statement by the way, from KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary that employed Preston Wheeler and the other civilian truck drivers, “KBR‘s priority has always been the safety and security of its employees, regardless of where they work around the world.  The U.S.  military has command and control of all KBR convoys in Iraq, such as a supplying pre-trip threat assessments and determining routes, and is required to provide security for KBR‘s employees through the company‘s contract with the Army.” 

So is this true?  What is the relationship between the Army protecting these contractors and their whole contract for being there?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY (RET), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Chris, we‘ve got, as far as I can tell, there are 600 contractors killed and over 4,000 wounded, a bunch abducted.  We are using 35,000 contractors in lieu of U.S.  army communications and logistics troops.  They are flying helicopters, they carry guns.  If it were not for their courage and dedication and considerable salaries, we could not sustain the current war in Iraq or Afghanistan.  What you are watching, this is 800 or 900 attacks a week like this.  Mortar fire, rocket fire, direct attack, RPGs.  It is a dangerous world out there, 500, 600 U.S. troops killed or wounded a month. 

MATTHEWS:  So the numbers you gave me on the deaths of civilian contractors is in addition to almost 3,000 G.I.s, military forces, that have been killed in action. 

MCCAFFREY:  Those are sort of soft numbers.  That‘s the best I can come up with, around 600 dead, and 4,100 injured or wounded in the line of duty.  That‘s only contractors that work for Pentagon, not for other branches of government in the war zone. 

MATTHEWS:  But they are always guarded by a convoy, a military convoy, when they go out to do a job and they are building a building or something or putting in a sewer line or doing the electrical work, do they have soldiers around them?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I think some of them, the Blackwater contracts, they‘re flying armed helicopters and carrying, you know, automatic weapons themselves, crew-served weapons.  But I think the general notion is that our logistics effort is almost all civilian contractors. 

Not all U.S., Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and the guard for it, we‘re so short of troops, our Navy sailors, airman, National Guard—by the way in this tape you see, the brave soldiers of the Virginia Guard counterattack back in the area and rescued that brave contractor, put him on a aircraft, flew him back, got him into medical care. 

So that was a very thin security force, but they did not leave, they stayed and fought and went back in and rescued some of the truck drivers. 

MATTHEWS:  Prognosticate if you, General, the future.  I just got the most difficult poll I‘ve ever read about this war.  Sixty-one percent of the Iraqis are rooting for people killing Americans.  In other words, there out of five people over there want us dead.  How do you build or rebuild a country, how do you nation-build when three out of five people in the country want you dead? 

MCCAFFREY:  that was the most devastating poll I have read since the war started.  University of Maryland, some of the numbers are up around 80 percent, to include among the Shi‘a population that we freed.  Three hundred thousand of them were murdered by Saddam since first Gulf War.  It is appalling.  It‘s going to disintegrate.

MATTHEWS:  They want us dead, they don‘t just want us out of there, they want us dead. 

MCCAFFREY:  Yes.  That and corruption are the two problems that are going to decrease U.S. domestic political support for this war.  It is not the loss of our brave soldiers and Marines, it‘s going to be ingratitude and the corruption and the incompetence of the Iraqis. 

However, we‘ve got to work through those problems.  We don‘t want to leave this country in open civil war.  We‘ve got to sort this thing out, starting after the election, when we can have a decent debate about the solution.

MATTHEWS:  You know we got a little—the word is out about a CBS interview, a Mike Wallace interview with Bob Woodward that‘s coming up.  It‘s going to be released later, this book, this weekend, I guess, the bar goes on it.  “State of Denial” it‘s called.  It‘s going to be very tough on the military, apparently tough on Rumsfeld.  Do you believe Rumsfeld is the problem or is it above him, in terms of policy making, Cheney and the president?

MCCAFFREY:  Well, an awful lot of it, you know, Rumsfeld is a powerful, charismatic, patriotic guy, he is experienced.  I think he has dominated defense thinking.  He is really overcome his generals, starting from the first intervention.  I think a lot of it is the senior Pentagon civilian leadership.  You got some bright people in the White House, Josh Bolton, Steve Hadley, there‘s Dr. Rice there.  You know, experienced...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re naming the reasonable people... 

MCCAFFREY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ...Carefully.

MCCAFFREY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not raising the zealots‘ names. 

MCCAFFREY:  No, and I hope, December, January, you see a new kind of conversation and the president, who—you know, by the way, from the start I supported taking down the Saddam regime and I can still think it was a good idea, but screwing it up and ending up with 23,000 killed and wounded and, you know, the better part $400 billion, that‘s the problem we‘re dealing with. 

MATTHEWS:  You know the chain of command as well as anybody I could to.  You know it goes from the president to the secretary of defense in time of a nuclear situation, of course.  How did the vice president get to interrupt that?  He interrupted apparently on 9/11, he‘s interrupted throughout this campaign.  Cheney is viewed by Rumsfeld as his boss.  How in hell did a vice president get to be boss of a secretary of defense? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I‘m not sure I agree with your assumptions.  But I think Cheney is a very powerful figure, you know, he has been around a long time.  He has had a—people have a lot confidence in him, including me. 

MATTHEWS:  Rumsfeld, says this came from above me, I‘m getting orders, and he is talking about the vice president.  You‘re laughing, but I‘ve never heard of such a cuckoo situation.  The president of the United States is elected to be commander in chief, he delegates the number one responsibility for the military campaigns we‘re involved in to his vice president, who has no executive authority?  And not the secretary of defense? 

MCCAFFREY:  When you‘re in trouble, there are a lot of people trying to avoid accountability and one of them ought to be the United States Congress, I might add.  Where has the Senate and House been, raising and supporting...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I raised that with Boehner last night, I had the majority leader, I said, what is your role besides saying, I‘m saluting, Mr.  President, and he didn‘t come up with much.  He said my job is to support the commander and chief.  Period.  That‘s what checks and balances are about.  So there is a problem there. 

Any way, thank you, General, for that insight on the role of the contracted people over there.  What a dangerous job. 

Up next, Hardballers Hillary Rosen and Ben Ginsberg and Michael Smerconish break down who is winning in the fight for power with just 40 days to go until the big elections in November.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Just 40 days left now before the midterm elections.  It‘s getting faster and nastier.  Let‘s dig into the latest battles with tonight‘s Hardballers.  Ben Ginsberg, he‘s a Republican strategist who served as counsel for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign.  Hillary Rosen is a Democratic strategist and a Hardblogger an all star on MSNBC.com.  And Michael Smerconish is a radio talk show host in Philadelphia. 

Let me go to you, Ben.  If you were counsel for the defense in this nonlegal but very important battle over George Allen‘s history and words and attitudes, what would you advise. 

BEN GINSBERG, FMR. BUSH/CHENEY ‘06 COUNSEL:  Tell the truth.  If you didn‘t say the words, you deny them.  He is denying them, he says he didn‘t say them and you got to be truthful in this situation. 

MATTHEWS:  If he never used any of these words, would he be in trouble right now? 

GINSBERG:  Well, I think there is a concerted attack against you by your political enemies, then these charges can come up in the course of political campaigns, not for the better of the country, but it can happen whether it is true or not. 

MATTHEWS:  Hillary Rosen, is this a campaign or did macaca unleash all these demons on him?  Is he not in fact, the man who started this? 

HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, he still hasn‘t properly responded to the macaca thing, I think.  But you know, that little old—that sweet woman from Charlottesville, Virginia, she wasn‘t so old, was not a political enemy of George Allen.  She was completely credible.  And so, he‘s not, I think, dealing with this properly at all. 

But the fact is, you know, he is going to continue to bring this on himself if he keeps attacking Jim Webb for past sins.  I thought what Howard Fineman said earlier was smart.  If George Allen really wanted this campaign to be about the issues, that‘s what he would talk about. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael, what do you think of this?  It‘s a bit far away from Philadelphia, but it is a big issue in this region of the country and it may well affect the balance of the Senate.  Do you think that there‘s anything Allen can do to kill this? Is he a victim of an attack campaign, as Ben has said, or is a victim of his own bad mistakes in the past?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  All three.  And what I find significant about it is that the devil is always in the details.  These are not instances where someone says, George Allen said the n word.  These are instances where that woman that you just showed at the outset of the program says I remember, he was sitting there on the ground and he was putting on his red rugby shoes. 

Chris when I practiced law, if somebody said I remember it was sunny and another person said well I remember it was raining because it was my wedding day, you would always side with the person who had more detail and every one of these instances is loaded with detail.  One final thought.  It is more survivable for him if he uttered the N word 30 years ago in Virginia rather than lying about it today.  And I think that‘s his problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is fair in our American culture, which has been so riven and divided by race.  Let‘s face it, it took us until the 1960s to open the lunch counters in much of the country and to open up employment and all other kinds of things and to open up people‘s attitudes has taken a lot longer, to go after a guy in the past for using that word, as nefarious as it has become? 

SMERCONISH:  Are you asking me?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, you Michael.

SMERCONISH:  Yes, I think that the N-Word, look I wrote a book called “Muzzled.”  I am a big believer in just letting it happen and roll off your back.  But the N-word is a word that stands alone.  In fact, I think Macaca is different from the N-word.  I think Macaca is more defensible than the N-word.  The N-word has achieved its own position in American lore. 

MATTHEWS:  Well maybe Macaca has the same status of evil in north Africa where it came from. 

SMERCONISH:  But not in Virginia, not in Virginia. 

MATTHEWS:  No, not in Virginia.  Let me ask you about this.  Is this over?  Is this issue going to die out?  Let‘s take a look, by the way.  We got some hot news, here is a new ad, a TV ad from Senator George Allen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was demoralizing from a perspective that only a woman could understand.  James Webb accused the woman of the Naval Academy of being promiscuous. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Webbs‘ view points absolutely showed disrespect towards women. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  To imply that we were there for sexual purposes was beyond belief. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We do not have a voice.  He had the voice. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I really have to make very clear to the women of Virginia who may be considering voting for this man that he is no advocate for women. 

ALLEN:  I‘m George Allen and I approve this message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And I‘m Jim Webb and I‘m not a perfect vessel.  Is that what they should have added to that? 

GINSBURG:  I don‘t think they had to add it. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this point, counter-point?  You‘ve gone after blacks in the past, but I can accuse you of having gone after women?  Is that what it is going to come to? 

GINSBURG:  Well I think that the debate at some point will get more elevated than that, but the truth is, as a tactical matter, if you‘ve got Allen and Webb throwing mud at each other then they are not talking about the issues.  Now George Allen is very good on the issues.  Jim Webb is going to have some problems being good on the issues in Virginia, but this currents sort of stalemate over personality probably helps George Allen.   

MATTHEWS:  Hillary, you are a liberal, right?  And I know you wish all good things on all people because of the way god made them, racially, sexual orientation or whatever.  Is this something that we should be focusing our attention on?  Because of the Macaca thing and he opened up this envelope? 

ROSEN:  Well no.  And I don‘t think over the long term it actually helps Jim Webb because, I think you laid out the strategy before, that if George Allen does, he wins.  He looks more contrite.  He looks sweeter, more sensitive over the next couple of weeks.  Jim Webb wins—

MATTHEWS:  If he falls back to a general character defense and doesn‘t try to defend every charge. 

ROSEN:  Jim Webb was moving in the polls in Virginia when the focus was on Iraq.  He was moving and Allen did not have anything to say.  He has contributed nothing on this debate in the Senate, that he is, you know, lock, stock and barrel been, you know, in the denial of the White House, with the White House‘s denial.  I think that is where Webb does better, particularly in northern Virginia.  So, I don‘t think this is going to be good over the long-term for Jim Webb. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re saying that George Allen threw momma from the train to change topics.  We‘ll be right back with Hillary Rosen, Ben Ginsburg and Michael Smerconish.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with the HARDBALLERs Hillary Rosen, Ben Ginsburg and Michael Smerconish.  Michael, up in Philly, you start this, somebody came up to me the other day and said that was a good, tough interview you did with President Bush the other day.  They got me mixed up with Chris Wallace for some unusual reason.  There is a lot of argument, who was right in that debate?  Was Chris Wallace too tough or the president too prickly? 

GINSBURG:  I am going to sound week.  I am going to tell you they were both right, and they were both right in the sense that Chris Wallace asked an entirely fair and appropriate question.  And Bill Clinton‘s madder than hell response, that Howard Beal moment, I thought was great.  I mean take out the merit of what he was saying for a moment and just focus on his communicative skills.  I thought he was exceptionable.  He is exactly what the Democrats are lacking in this cycle.  No leadership like that, look out if they get it. 

MATTHEWS:  Hillary, that was the best go-for pitch you will ever get in your life, pick up on that. 

ROSEN:  It was a great line, too. 

MATTHEWS:  Look at him.  He is jumping him.  You can interrupt the president.  Don‘t be so deferential here.  Hillary, what do you think of it?

ROSEN:  When Bill Clinton speaks, everybody listens.  He got angry in a way that a lot of people are getting angry because we have lived through six months of reinventing the past with, you know, whether it‘s television or whether it‘s the right wing blogging community, or that all of a sudden now George Bush is not responsible for what happens on his watch.  Bill Clinton was.  It was enough.  I think that it fired up the base some, it‘s made people focus and, frankly, I think I go back to my earlier point, when ever we are focusing on the real issues that are going on right now, terrorism in Iraq, Democrats are going to do well.  He laid it out.  He set the marker.

MATTHEWS:  Ben, so the Democrats have found a leader, Bill Clinton.

What do you make of this?

GINSBURG:  Absolutely.  It fired up our base tremendously.  It was a great moment.  It was a vast right wing conspiracy moment and that‘s the sort of thing that makes Republicans remember why it‘s important to turn out to the polls in November.  So, all in all, I think he should keep doing what he was doing.   

MATTHEWS:  He might want to.  I think he‘s a leader now.  He‘s knocking heads.  He just bumped Nancy Pelosi from her cat bird seat.  Any way Hillary Rosen, Ben Ginsburg, Michael Smerconish.  Play HARDBALL with us again Friday.  Our guests will include former Democratic party chairman Terry McAuliffe.  Right now it‘s time for Tucker.

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

END   

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