Guests: David Kuo, Jim Towey, Chuck Todd, James Barnes
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Big night on HARDBALL with our partners at the “National Journal”. We‘ll give the latest picks for the elections from both Republican and Democratic insiders. Let‘s roll the numbers. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to HARDBALL.
A special report from New York. The elections, just three weeks off, and tonight we team up with our partners, the “National Journal”, to give you the results of the latest insiders poll. Will Republicans lose control of Congress because of the war in Iraq? Will Democratic voters bring their anger to the ballot box? Will Christian conservatives, turned off by the Foley scandal and corruption on the Hill, stay home? Will everyone decide to throw the bums out?
We‘ll show you pre-election surveying from political insiders and bring you news from the campaigns later in our special report with the “National Journal”. And in just a moment, Republicans are raising Cain over a new book depicting party leaders as cynically using Christian conservatives for political purposes. You first heard about the book from MSNBC‘s Keith Olbermann on his “COUNTDOWN” show. Tonight we‘ll meet the author, David Kuo, of “Tempting Faith”. Plus, we‘ll get a response from the White House.
And don‘t miss HARDBALL tomorrow night. It‘s the second stop on the 2006 college tour, and when Iowa State University tomorrow, from Ames, Iowa, with the most recognized Republican frontrunner there is for 2008, Senator John McCain.
But first, polls show the war in Iraq is the number one issue among Americans. Starting tonight, HARDBALL‘s going to give you a nightly update on the war in Iraq, where our men and women are getting killed. Tonight, get the latest reports on the battleground in Iraq from NBC correspondent Jane Arraf in Baghdad.
JANE ARRAF, NBC NEWS, BAGHDAD: U.S. and Iraqi forces are grappling with the aftermath of what people are calling a massacre. In the city of Balad north of Baghdad, residents say more than 90 people were killed in four days of violence, much of it by Shia militias.
Among the questions, whether Iraqi police were involved, why it took so long for the Iraqi army to show up, and whether U.S. forces should have played a bigger role. Balad is very close to one of the major U.S. Army bases, but about a month ago, the United States handed over control of that part of the country to Iraqi forces.
In places like Balad, and in Kirkuk, and Baqubah, the same thing has been happening, with Iraqis taking increasing control of territory that U.S. forces used to hold. And a lot of people say they‘re just not capable of keeping the peace there. In Baqubah, where we spent a few days, our troops there are out with Iraqi troops, trying to make sure that they don‘t get involved in sectarian violence.
But one of the big fears there, as in other places, is in between that sectarian mix, Sunni on Shiite violence, there are Iranian influences and Iranian weapons coming across the border. The backdrop of all this? The Iraqi government is trying to hold a national reconciliation conference to ease that sectarian fighting.
But with the assassination of the brother of a Sunni vice president last week, that conference was put on hold, raising questions as to whether the government can indeed rein in this violence.
For HARDBALL, I‘m Jane Arraf in Baghdad.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Jane Arraf in Baghdad.
The Bush administration is up in arms over a book called “Tempting Faith” by former White House insider David Kuo, who says that the president‘s staff used evangelicals just to get their votes, but bad-mouthed them behind their backs.
He writes, quote, “For most of the rest of the Whit House staff, evangelical leaders were people to be tolerated, not people who were truly welcomed. No group was more eye-rolling about Christians than the political affairs shop. They knew “the nuts” were politically invaluable, but that was the extent of their usefulness. Sadly, the political affairs folks complained most often and most loudly about how boorish many politically involved Christians were.”
David Kuo is an evangelical Christian, and he served as deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiative.
David, thank you for joining us. This book of yours, are you ready to swear to its truth?
DAVID KUO, AUTHOR, “TEMPTING FAITH”: Absolutely.
Chris, I spent two years after I left the White House, spending a lot of time thinking and praying and consulting with pastors and friends about whether to do this. But this is something that I feel passionately about. And what is it? It is that Jesus has become a political figure. If I say Jesus right now, to so many people out in the audience, what they‘re going to think is, oh, we know his political agenda. We know what he thinks about abortion. We know—we think what he thinks about homosexuality and what I think about the estate tax. Of course that‘s the problem.
MATTHEWS: You know, you make White House manipulation, that you accuse them of, of Christian conservatives, look like that book “Bonfire of the Vanities”, the way the New York mayor used African-Americans, giving them, he called them “Plaques for Blacks”, just giving them awards, making them feel good, so he could get their support in elections. Is it that bad?
KUO: Chris, it‘s simply...
MATTHEWS: In other words, using these people just as icons, totems, simply to use to them to gin up votes back home?
KUO: Yes, I mean, that‘s one of the things that I want to say. It should be obvious to everybody. You know, Republican politicians are starved for Christian conservatives to show up for their votes, but they don‘t care about them for their faith. They don‘t care about them for their issues. They want their votes.
The problem is that Christian conservatives, unfortunately, have bought into this, because of—well-meaning Christians have bought into this, thinking that they can make the difference, that, You know, that these are people who truly care about them.
MATTHEWS: Was this an everyday thing, where you would watch people‘s eyes roll, when you got a call from Jerry Falwell or Robertson or one of these people, or Tony Perkins?
KUO: You know, it has been such a constant in Republican politics that social conservatives are dismissed, that eyes are rolled at them, that they‘re called these sorts of things. I mean, this is not shocking. It‘s not new. It‘s one of the things that I say in the beginning of the book. I say, this shouldn‘t be shocking to people.
And in a lot of ways, you know, did the White House use people of faith for political reasons, right? This shouldn‘t be all that shocking. It‘s kind of like...
MATTHEWS: OK, bottom line.
KUO: But it‘s what a White House does. A White House does politics.
MATTHEWS: Then I have to ask you, let me quote you something from your book. “George W. Bush loves Jesus. He is a good man. But he is a politician; a very smart and shrewd politician. And if the faith-based initiative was teaching me anything, it was about the president‘s capacity to care about perception more than reality. He wanted it to look good. He cared less about it being good.”
You make him look like the Pharisees in the New Testament, like the bad guy, the fraud sitting in the first pew. That‘s what you make him look like.
KUO: George W. Bush is a good man. He‘s a man of faith. President Bush...
MATTHEWS: ... perception, which is the way Jesus treated the Pharisees in the New Testament.
KUO: George W. Bush is a man of faith. President Bush is a politician. He‘s the head of the GOP. He‘s the leader of government. What I‘m talking about is the political aspect. And the political aspect is everyone in the White House existed to do one thing, and that is to advance the president‘s political power. That‘s what White Houses do. That‘s how they operate. That‘s how they function. That‘s why they function. And you know, my message here...
MATTHEWS: You were part of this. You were an enthusiastic part of the team, right?
KUO: Absolutely, I was part of the team. And that‘s what I explore in the book, is this tension between God and politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you for a true expose, look, I know, and you know a number of senators who are true, Brownback, Santorum, they are true Christians, right?
MATTHEWS: They‘re as true as anybody in the church, right?
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re not part of the game, are they?
KUO: What do you mean?
MATTHEWS: I mean, is Rick Santorum‘s not home-schooling his kids for political votes? Is he out there defending the Schiavo woman because of political votes? Or what‘s he up to?
KUO: Absolutely not. No. I mean, what you see with Rick Santorum is what you get, whether you like it or not.
MATTHEWS: How about the president?
KUO: The president is a man of great faith, right? Does he believe...
MATTHEWS: But is he a political swindler?
MATTHEWS: You present him as a guy, as a politician, who uses religion to get votes. Is that a fair statement? He uses religion to get votes. Is that the case?
KUO: The idea of portraying President Bush as sort of the political swindler is wrong. He‘s not.
MATTHEWS: Does he use faith to get votes?
KUO: If your definition of being a political swindler is using faith to get votes, then I think you‘re probably talking about every person in the United States Senate who has run, and probably every politician. You can look back to President Clinton then, and say he‘s a swindler.
I mean, this is not a question—a politician, a president in office, what does he want to do? He wants to get votes. How is he going to get votes? He‘s going to get votes by appealing to all sorts of different people, all sorts of different parties. And that‘s what the president does. That‘s what a politician does.
MATTHEWS: How about issues like stem cell. Do you think he‘s using them politically?
KUO: I mean, this idea—I think you‘re conflating a couple of different things ere. You know, one is—there‘s no suggestion that people are pursuing policies that don‘t exist, you know, that they are doing these things for purely political reasons in and of themselves on every single issue. I mean, that‘s to create something that‘s cut and dry. That‘s just not true.
MATTHEWS: Right. So what is the difference? You do this by saying that the president, as a person, is a good man. As a politician, he‘s a politician. If that‘s the case, what‘s the news in your book?
KUO: Well, in some ways that‘s the question. My book is this question about the struggle between faith and politics, right. It‘s a personal struggle. It‘s a struggle that played out in the White House. George W. Bush has been portrayed to Christians as a pastor-in-chief. That‘s been the idea. It‘s been the most carefully managed thing there has been about his public image, his public perception as this pastor-in-chief. And it‘s been done politically, so the Christians, frankly, would give him pass on most things.
MATTHEWS: I think I get your point. Now look, let‘s try to—don‘t accuse me of conflation, because no White House, nobody‘s ever been better at conflation than this White House. They put 9/11 together with Saddam and biological weapons together with nuclear bombs heading our way. There‘s a lot of conflation going on.
But I noticed in your book, you talk about the fact that when we were altogether on 9/11 -- and the country was together after 9/11, especially when the president went to the churches—you said there was a special effort to recruit the political—the heavy lifters.
KUO: Absolutely. I mean, from the start, you know, from the start of this presidency what‘s been fascinating has been how they have handled the religious conservatives. When you go back to early 1999, what they did was they created sort of an underground network of pastors to go out and recruit other pastors.
And the way they were drawn into supporting President Bush wasn‘t based on policy. It was based on sharing his testimony, obviously, a very real testimony. But this underground network of pastors then perpetuated this image of the pastor in chief.
Now, my main point in pointing this out for Christians is to understand that this is—that, you know, they have been misled into thinking of him as a pastor in chief. He‘s a president. Look at him that way, but also understand that Christians are being used by this White House to advance their own political ends.
And the Christians who are supporting him are well-meaning, wonderful people. My concern is that all of the partisanship, all of the passion, all this was stuff reflected very poorly in the name of Jesus which I think is something Christians really don‘t want.
MATTHEWS: And you said—I think you‘re saying if you fool me once it‘s my fault, if you fool me twice—I‘m sorry. If you fool me once it‘s your fault, if you fool me twice it‘s my fault, and you‘re warning us. We‘ll be right back with David Kuo to get his prescription coming out.
Later, we‘ll have reaction to what he‘s saying from James Towey, the former director of the Bush administration‘s faith-based efforts, who the White House suggested we invite tonight.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with David Kuo, author of the new book “Tempting Faith,” and the former deputy director of President Bush‘s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
David, you wrote in your new book, “Tempting Faith,” quote, “National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person, and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,‘ ‘out of control,‘ and just plain ‘goofy.‘ The leaders spent much time lauding the president, but they were never shrewd enough to do what Billy Graham had done three decades before, to wonder whether they were just being used. They were.”
And you stick to that, that they were used by this president and his political machine to get votes.
KUO: Absolutely. And I‘ve got to say, you know—who was it, Shakespeare who said “Me thinks thou not protesteth too much?” It‘s been interesting to see the White House‘s reaction to say it never, ever happened. I mean, never, ever? I mean, I think everybody criticizes somebody at some point in time. I mean, people criticize their kids. I think it‘s kind of funny to hear the White House say no, it never, ever, ever, ever happened.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was looking—I‘m trying to figure—you can probably help me with this. This coalition between the president and his party and the Christian evangelicals has not been totally without success.
You have two new members of the United States Supreme Court who are
certainly not liberals and certainly not secular people—that‘s Judge
Alito and Judge Roberts—very much popular, aren‘t they? And you have a
partial abortion bill which has been passed by both houses and signed by
the president. That‘s a lot of success, isn‘t it
KUO: I‘m not saying that the president hasn‘t done anything. My point is that Christians need to be aware that they are being used, how they‘re being used, how they are being viewed. If Christians are happy with what he‘s done that‘s fantastic.
My disappointment also, as I talked about, is his compassion agenda. What‘s become of that? It‘s been interesting, actually, to see people who respond to me. I kept wondering why the White House wasn‘t sending anybody from within the White House to respond. They kept sending two very good people out, like Jim Towey, who‘s a great guy.
MATTHEWS: He‘s coming out tonight.
KUO: He‘s a great guy, a compassionate guy, and he‘s gone from the White House for a long time now. And I kept wondering why that is. And I realized people in the White House probably don‘t have any—the White House probably doesn‘t have anybody capable of talking about the compassion agenda because it was such a low priority.
MATTHEWS: Let me exploit you for a minute because you‘re on the show, and we‘ll help you with your book, but you‘ve got to help me with this one. You worked with the president close enough to sense his motivation about the war in Iraq. Sometimes it seems messianic, like he runs out of arguments, he gets desperate and he almost talks as if he has a calling to do this. What‘s your sense of that?
KUO: You know, in no way do I portray myself as somebody who is some great intimate of the president. You know, I didn‘t—I wasn‘t part of his most senior staff. I didn‘t see him on a daily basis. I didn‘t do that. So in a way I‘m limited.
And in the book, what I talk about isn‘t based on how I am or my access. It‘s about what I saw as a Christian in politics. You know, can I base on my speculation does he think that he‘s called to office? Yes, I think he does. Do I think he believes in what he‘s saying? Yes, absolutely I do.
MATTHEWS: OK, David Kuo. Thanks for joining us on HARDBALL. The book is called “Tempting Faith,” making a lot of noise at the White House.
Up next, former White House Faith-Based Initiatives director James Towey.
And later, we‘ll preview John McCain‘s visit to Iowa for the HARDBALL college tour tomorrow—and that‘s going to be a big one—with the “Des Moines Register‘s” David Yepsen. He‘s the best political reporter in Iowa, which is, of course, the seat of the first big test for 2008, the Iowa Caucus of 2008. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. From 2002 until this past spring, James Towey reported directly to President Bush as the director of office of faith-based and community initiatives. He‘s now the president of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Is this book a problem for you, Jim?
JIM TOWEY, FORMER W.H. DIRECTOR OF FAITH-BASED INITIATIVES: Well...
MATTHEWS: ... “Tempting Faith?”
TOWEY: The problem is that he‘s allowing the impression that the faith-based initiative was political, that the president‘s a hypocrite, that the people on the staff were manipulating evangelicals.
And all of that‘s just not true. So yes, it‘s a problem for me because it goes to the heart of the integrity of the work we do at the White House. I was very proud as a Democrat on senior staff to do a very even-handed job with the initiative.
We helped with the poor. We expanded some compassion programs, did it in a constitutional way. And the president had given me marching orders to keep it focused there and we did. So a book comes out like this, it‘s a shock to us.
MATTHEWS: You never, in the whole time you worked in the White House, heard or heard of a staffer for the president referring to perhaps the more fringe members of your coalition in these negative terms of goofy and things like that, and nuts?
TOWEY: No. And I just think when you hear the answers that David gives, this kind of schizophrenia that the president is a great man, but he‘s a manipulator and very cynical in his work, it‘s just—you can‘t hold both positions.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe—I mean, he swore to the truth of what he said. Now you may argue about the limits of what he said or how emblematic it is, but you deny the actual words in the book. In other words, you‘re saying this book is dishonest because it says words that are wrong, or because it represents things differently than they should be?
TOWEY: I think it creates false impressions. I think there are some things in the book that are true. I haven‘t read it, but what I‘ve heard, some of it rings true. But a lot of it allows false impressions. You‘ll see on “60 Minutes” or you‘ll see photos where it shows that David on Air Force One—David got on Air Force One at the very end of his time at the White House, because he asked if he could write on it once. I gave up my seat so he could.
So the idea that he was somehow elbow to elbow with senior staff and would be privy to this kind of information is a falsehood because I was there and saw what he was privy too. He was not my confidant. I knew what the basis of my decisions were. And so to me, I just feel like a lot of this is very misleading and it‘s very unfair.
Like initially they come out and they say Karl Rove‘s office was ridiculing evangelicals and then when you start scratching away at that answer, you find out, well it wasn‘t Karl, well, who was it? He doesn‘t name anybody.
MATTHEWS: But you‘re not here to say that he lies, are you?
TOWEY: I think there‘s factual inaccuracies in the book.
MATTHEWS: But no, wait a minute, are you saying he‘s lying about what he says in the book?
TOWEY: What he says is between him and God. I‘m not going to get in the middle of it.
MATTHEWS: OK, well let‘s get to something I‘m fascinated with. Let‘s talk about Ohio in the last election. It was the pivotal state, it decided the election in the end. Ohio—I‘ve always heard this story anecdotally, that there was a lot of activity within the churches, the African-American church, especially, up in Cleveland. They were very much organized to try to defeat or pass that measure on opposing gay marriage and also to vote against John Kerry on the issue of gay marriage.
Was there a use of the church in that campaign of 2004 to win the state by utilizing and mobilizing the Christian faith?
TOWEY: Not out of our office. In fact, David makes the allegation that we had conferences to try to trigger higher voting by African-American groups and other. Chris, we weren‘t even in Ohio in 2004. We didn‘t have a conference there.
MATTHEWS: Well Rove was, wasn‘t he?
TOWEY: Well, I‘m sure there are people in the White House that are working on it, but his allegations, Chris, accused the White House faith-based office of trying to politically manipulate the landscape and it‘s just not true. That‘s why I take umbrage at it, because—he also left the White House saying how much he praised our honesty and integrity and that the president really persevered with all his heart. And now you read a book like this, it really makes you wonder why he‘s doing this a couple of weeks before the election.
MATTHEWS: Well that‘s obvious—probably the publisher decided to do that. Let me ask you, you know Don King the fight promoter?
MATTHEWS: Do you ever hear that he‘s had any involvement with Karl Rove and getting out the Christian vote especially African-Americans in Ohio back in 2004?
TOWEY: I don‘t know what Karl Rove did with Don King.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve never heard of Don King‘s involvement of behalf of your campaigns.
TOWEY: I remember seeing him at the Republican convention, Chris.
But again, go to the book. Forget about this being a test on the Bush presidency. Go to what he alleges in the book about the faith-based office where he worked, which was his only vantage point and he had a pretty distant seat at that. I just find it very hard to accept that he would be able to make allegations like this that some of them have been proven factually inaccurate.
MATTHEWS: Was he good when he worked with you?
TOWEY: Was he good when he worked with me? David is a decent guy, but he was very frustrated that this wasn‘t a big spending initiative. He was frustrated because he wasn‘t hired by me and in 2001 had a lot more buzz, and I think he sincerely cares about the poor.
But the idea that of what he‘s projecting now is simply unfair to the president and it‘s also untrue. When you look at what the record shows that I was in more Democrat districts than Republican ones, when you look at the $740 million in new programs that the president started, the billions of dollars in tax incentives, David has got a lot of factual inaccuracies, Chris, in the book, such as the president promised $8 million a year annually.
Ask Don Willett if he‘s quoted correctly in the book. You can just go down the list of things that are in his book where he attributes things and others are now saying where is this fromrMD+DN_rMDNM_? But of course, the media attention will move on and there‘s no way to defend against it. What does Karl Rove‘s office do to come back and get their good name back when David said people in that office were mocking evangelicals? Who did? So I‘m sorry...
MATTHEWS: ... James Towey, thank you very much for coming on the show.
TOWEY: OK, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Great to have you on. We need counter point in this program.
Up next, what do the political insiders think will happen for the battle of power in 2006? Our partners at the “National Journal” know the answer. We‘ll talk about the results of their insiders poll on who‘s going to win the Congress and the Senate next month, three weeks from now with “Hotline” editor Chuck Todd and the “National Journal‘s” James Barnes. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to our HARDBALL Special Report with the “National Journal.” The election is exactly three weeks away. We go now to the “National Journal‘s” James Barnes, creator of the “National Journal” Insider‘s Poll, and Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of “The Hotline.” Welcome, gentlemen.
Well, the “National Journal‘s” Insider‘s Poll asked on a scale of one to 10 how likely is it that the Democrats will win the House of Representatives this November. Democrats‘ insiders say about 7.7 out of 10. That‘s how it averages out. Republican insiders say 6.7. So both the Democrats and the Republicans are saying that the House is going to go Democrat.
James, your assessment of that.
JAMES BARNES, “NATIONAL JOURNAL”: Well, I think it‘s part of a trend that we‘ve been seeing all year that Republicans have grown increasingly anxious about this election. And, you know, while one in three may not be bad odds to go to the racetrack with, if somebody told you that you only had a one in three chance of keeping your job, my guess is you would be pretty nervous too.
MATTHEWS: Were you impressed, Church, that even the Republicans joined in with that assessment of saying they are going to lose the House, the experts?
CHUCK TODD, “HOTLINE” EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well, I tell you, it‘s actually an indicator of—I think that the beltway Republicans in particular and this is—in this crowd, these insiders in some ways are creatures of the beltway, even the ones that don‘t reside in the beltway. They are almost more pessimistic than the activist, the gung-ho activists and some of these consultants that are in the races themselves.
What I‘m curious is what is that pessimism that‘s taking place inside the beltway, is that contagious on the ground? Does that end up hurting a candidate who‘s desperately needing people to show up to the polls or show up to do volunteer work, you know, with that borderline activist, smart crowd.
MATTHEWS: All right. Let‘s take a look at a poll regarding the Senate. Here, again, on a scale of one to 10, how likely is it the Democrats will win the U.S. Senate. Democratic insiders say 5.6, a bare majority. Republican insiders, a bare minority, say—about 4.5 say the Senate will not go Democratic.
Again, back to you James. That looks like that‘s right on the edge there. Is there a progression toward a Democratic victory in the assessments?
BARNES: There‘s been a little bit of a progression towards Democratic success in November in the Senate. But one thing that‘s very interesting is that in both parties, both groups of insiders, Democrats and Republicans, have lagged in the likelihood that they think that the Democrats can take over the Senate as opposed to the House.
It‘s been pretty consistent all year, and I think that the reality is just that the Democrats have to win everywhere almost to take the Senate, whereas in the House, you have an increasing number of House races perhaps becoming a little more competitive at this stage in the race, easier cast for the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Well, Chuck is that because—is the progression toward the Democrats chances now about 50-50, based on the poll, if you average the Democratic and Republican insiders, is that being advanced because of the improved position of McCaskill in Missouri and Whitehouse up in Rhode Island? Are there particular areas where the thing is turning towards the Dems?
TODD: Well, actually, I think it‘s because of the additions. You know, six months ago, Tennessee and Virginia were pipe dreams and now they are not. And I think the addition of the two extra sort of Republican targets that the Democrats came up with.
But, you know, in some ways, history tells us this should be reversed. You know, the Senate has never—the House has never flipped without the Senate, but the Senate has flipped three times without the House. So history says the Senate is usually the leading indicator on this stuff, not the house. But, you know, we‘re all political handicappers and sometimes I think we only look at the trees and not the forest.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about the forest, because there‘s something in the forest, James, that I feel, smell, know—whatever—hope. I don‘t know what it is, but I sense this country‘s turbulent right now and it‘s not happy.
And here‘s a poll that backs that up. A new Gallup poll asked are you satisfied with the state of the nation? Less than a third are satisfied. More than 66 percent, 67 percent are dissatisfied.
That‘s a lot of unhappy people out there, James, and I wonder whether that‘s going create the basis of a tsunami that nobody can count because it doesn‘t show up, and when you ask a person do you like this guy or that guy, what you ought to ask them is are your in a mood to really stick to it these Republicans?
BARNES: Well, certainly, that‘s what the Democrats are hoping. They are hoping that the public is going to be in a mood for a change, and they are not going to look too closely at the specific qualifications of these candidates.
And I think that, as you know, Chris, it is pretty volatile out there and this kind of reading—right track, wrong track reading—looks ominously similar to what the right track, wrong track reading was back in October of 1994 and we all know how that election turned out.
MATTHEWS: And we also know—I just saw a rerun here at NBC headquarters in New York of that election coverage by Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, and I noticed that there were eight seats that changed hands to the Republican side.
Chuck, you said a moment ago that the seats in the Senate tend to be more volatile, more fragile in a windstorm. Do you think we may be mis-guessing here by focusing on the House rather than the Senate for a big change?
TODD: Well, I think that if the Senate goes—and we know we had a change election. If the Senate doesn‘t go, we didn‘t have one. And I mean, I think that it‘s simple. I mean, you know, the Democrats need six seats, and yet I‘ve always been out there saying you know what? They‘re either going to get four or seven.
You know, they‘re either going to get them all or they‘re not going to get any of those last three seats that are teetering on the edge. And so I think it‘s because of the way—Senate races are just more volatile. They‘re statewide races. They‘re more likely—the incumbents are never as entrenched because they only get to run every six years, and some of them haven‘t run real races in 12 years, like a Mike DeWine in Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me run something by you. I have a sense that the following races are leaning strong to the Democrat right now: the Montana race with Conrad Burns, who‘s in big trouble out there; Mike DeWine in big trouble in Ohio; Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, in big trouble.
Let‘s go over to Missouri state there. That‘s also an election that looks like it‘s tilting now to the Democrat, McCaskill. And I think Linc Chafee is going to get blown away by the anti-Iraq feeling of the Northeast. Am I right, Chuck?
TODD: The only one I‘m going to take issue with you is on Rhode Island. I don‘t think any of us have a grip on what is the Chafee name mean there. This is a race where both candidates have 60 percent favorable ratings. It‘s basically an electorate that‘s got to decide boy, how much do we like the Chafee family. They‘ve always been such nice people and we enjoy seeing them at the country club versus...
MATTHEWS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. How many people go to the country club, Chuck Todd?
TODD: All right. In Rhode Island, they want to go to the country club Sheldon Whitehouse and Lincoln Chafee are going to. I guess that‘s the difference, how many of them want to go to that same country club? But do they want to see, be represented by that nice classy family, the Chafees or do they want to remember, of, that‘s right, we‘re a bunch of Democrats, and we got to vote Democrat first, not Chafee first. And I have to admit, Rhode Island is one that I can‘t get my arms around. I think that‘s a...
MATTHEWS: Just remember who won in 1952 between John Kennedy and Henry Cabot Lodge. The Lodge family went down.
TODD: But it was still two-family—I mean, that‘s what makes this Whitehouse—we have sort of two cultural elitists going after each other.
MATTHEWS: The drama is very similar.
What about the other race in Missouri. Do you agree with me, that that‘s tilting towards McCaskill, and all of a sudden away from Talent.
TODD: You know what? I‘m not there yet. I‘ll say this, in ‘02, we all wrote Jean Carnahan at this point in time in October. It was always—it looked like Jim Talent had gotten a grip on this state. Missouri is a state that is trending slightly Republican. And yet she made a huge run in the end, it turned out—made it a 50-50 race. You know, that was like one of the—I think the second closest Senate race in the country in ‘02 after that South Dakota race. So, I‘ll tell you if that‘s the way the turn-out machine for Democrats works in Missouri, then, yes, OK, McCaskill will win. But Talent, unlike Santorum, unlike Conrad Burns, has not had a fireable offense. There‘s no character flaw in Talent that all these other vulnerable Senate Republicans seem to have. I wonder if that helps Talent survive.
MATTHEWS: So it‘s no shy vote, no home-schooling with county aid, none of that stuff?
MATTHEWS: Let me go to you, James.
Do you share the challenge to my assessment to those first four Senate seats are already going Democrat. We got to worry about Tennessee and the Virginia races now?
BARNES: I think that probably Democrats are going to definitely have to take one of those and quite possibly two of those to end up claiming a majority in the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Tennessee and Virginia?
MATTHEWS: One last thought before we get a break.
My weird upset prediction, it‘s not a prediction yet, I‘m working toward it. Arizona. Pederson race, self-financer, Democratic. Can he beat Kyl?
BARNES: He‘s going have to put an awful lot of extra money into it, I think. To me it‘s a surf board race. If this is ‘94, then you know what, then Kyl might go down, too. But he is the last Republican incumbent senator that would actually go down in the worst case scenario.
MATTHEWS: Yes, you know, the real nor‘easter.
We‘ll be right back with Chuck Todd and James Barnes. They‘re staying with us.
And later, the “Des Moines Register‘s” David Yepsen, what a professional he is. He talks about the battle for 2008 for president that‘s already going on in Iowa. We‘ll be there tomorrow with John McCain at Iowa State University for the HARDBALL college tour.
This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We got a news development here. We‘re waiting for a press conference to start right away with Mark Foley‘s civil attorney. Gerald Richmond, the Associated Press is reporting right now that a friend of Foley‘s said today that Foley told the Archdiocese of Miami the name of the Catholic clergyman that he says abused him when he was a teenager. Foley has been out of sight since he resigned from Congress on September 29th. A few of days after that, his attorney David Roth told us that Foley was in rehab for alcoholism and that he had been abused by a clergyman as a teenager.
HARDBALLER -- we are. Let‘s—Here‘s Mr. Richmond, attorney for Mark Foley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the attorney for—the civil attorney for Mark Foley is about to talk to us about his allegations of molestation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a statement, sir, or we just going to grill you, here?
GERALD RICHMAN, ATTORNEY FOR MARK FOLEY: I‘ll make a brief statement and then you can go ahead and ask whatever questions you want to ask.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
RICHMAN: Yes. I‘m Gerald Richman. I‘m here representing Mark Foley and the purpose of calling this press conference is to announce that Mark Foley is intending to work with the Archdiocese of Miami and Greater West Palm Beach for the purpose of revealing the name of the particular priest who was involved, so that the archdiocese can then deal appropriately with the issue.
We‘ve also looked at the issue with regard to the State Attorney‘s Office, and I‘ve spoken with Barry Krischer, and we basically concluded that there‘s no basis to file criminal charges because of a number of legal obstacles, one of which is the stature of limitations. We‘re talking about issues that happened 36 to 38 years age.
And this is all part of the healing process for Mark Foley. He thinks it‘s important to go ahead and bring this information out and hope and encourage other people who have been similarly abused to go ahead and come forward.
And with that I‘m happy to answer any questions you may have.
QUESTION: If, in fact as you say, as we learn through your office, this priest is indeed alive, is it not potentially a threat to our community to not name this priest, if he might be out and about among our community or other diseases in the United States?
RICHMAN: That‘s exactly why we‘re going directly to the Archdiocese.
I‘ve already put in a call to them for them to go ahead and deal with this.
They‘ve dealt with other issues like this in the past.
QUESTION: Do they know who it is?
QUESTION: Do they know who it is?
RICHMAN: They do not know who it is yet. That has not been revealed to them. That will be done as soon as I‘m able to meet with their general counsel, Mr. Fitzgerald.
QUESTION: Will that be tomorrow?
RICHMAN: As fast as he can. I put in the call to him today. He was out of town today. I‘ve left word with his office. I‘m prepared to meet with him as soon as possible.
QUESTION: What happened to the original plan of waiting until Mark Foley came back from rehab (INAUDIBLE)?
RICHMAN: I did not make that original suggestion, but the answer is we‘ve been looking at the issues related to it since then, and the decision was made to reveal it now and not to wait any longer. As you know, the archdiocese has sent a letter through its attorney requesting the name. And so we‘ve been reviewing that letter to determine how best to do it, and after carefully looking at the legal issues, we decided that this is the appropriate way to handle it.
QUESTION: Sir, is the priest here? Is he a live, and is he still a member of the archdiocese?
RICHMAN: I can‘t comment on whether the person is a member of the archdiocese or his present status. I can only tell you that the person is still alive. That‘s all I can reveal to you today. And I‘ll be perfectly candid with you, I don‘t have the name myself yet. I will have that tomorrow.
QUESTION: Was this a teacher? Was this a member of the clergy he saw in church?
RICHMAN: I can‘t comment other than to say it was a member of the clergy.
QUESTION: At some point (OFF-MIKE)
RICHMAN: After meeting with the archdiocese, I hope jointly to be able to make it public. But it will depend on my dealings with the archdiocese. And we want to do that as soon as possible.
RICHMAN: I have no idea how they will deal with it, but they‘ve dealt with these matters before and we have confidence that the Catholic Church will appropriately deal with this issue.
QUESTION: Is your sense Mr. Foley would not want to prosecute this man? Is that what you‘re getting from him?
RICHMAN: What I‘m getting from Mr. Foley is that legally we looked at the issue and there‘s no way that he probably could prosecute him if he wanted to do so because of the status.
QUESTION: Does he want to?
RICHMAN: I haven‘t asked him whether he wanted to. We just discussed the issue that it‘s not possible to do so. And the state attorney‘s office said they had similar case in the past because of the way the statutes have been worded and the passage of time, where there‘s nothing that they can probably do about it directly. But that‘s going to be up to the state attorney here.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how Mr. Foley is doing in general? How the rehab is going? What his demeanor is when you speak to him?
RICHMAN: I spoke to him today and he‘s going through a very difficult healing process. He‘s got therapy. He‘s trying to overcome his problems with drinking in the past and the other problems that he‘s had in keeping this deep dark secret inside of him for many years.
So he‘s dealing with those issues, but it‘s going to take a lot of time. And one of the things we welcome from the letter, from the archdiocese is that they specifically offered to assist Mr. Foley with regard to the healing process and we certainly intend to accept that offer.
QUESTION: Many of these priests are recidivous, they do it over and over again. Can you assure us that whoever he is, wherever he is, that he‘s in a position now we can‘t harm anyone.
RICHMAN: I can‘t, but we‘re doing the best thing that we possibly can, which is to make sure that it comes out through the archdiocese and hopefully ultimately publicly.
But it‘s going to be up to the archdiocese as to how to deal with it since the state attorney‘s office apparently does not have the necessary mechanism to do it today. But we think the most appropriate thing is to allow the church to handle it.
QUESTION: Does Mark Foley have any proof that this priest molested him?
RICHMAN: I can‘t comment on whether he has proof, but I can tell you that I think it‘s going to be very clear in the coming days that it is a fact as opposed to any possible allegations that it‘s a fantasy or something made up for political purposes.
RICHMAN: It‘s entirely possible that once it comes out that other people who were involved that were victims of abuse may come forward as well. We have no way of predicting that.
QUESTION: But you have no prior knowledge that this priest has been involved in any other (OFF-MIKE)?
RICHMAN: I don‘t know his name. I‘m being perfectly honest with you. I made a point of not learning his name yet. I will learn it when I‘m about to meet with the archdiocese and get that information.
QUESTION: When will Mr. Foley be leaving rehab and is he in a Scientology center?
RICHMAN: I can‘t tell you where he is. I‘ve spoken with him by phone. I‘ve not met with him in person. So I don‘t even know his exact location.
QUESTION: And how long will he remain?
RICHMAN: But he‘s supposed to be there, supposedly for a period of 30 days. But beyond that, I don‘t know. I just know when I spoke with him, he had a therapist with him at the time.
QUESTION: Mr. Richman (OFF-MIKE)
RICHMAN: I am a life-long Democrat. I‘ve never represented Mr. Foley before. I, in fact, first undertook this representation on the morning of October 3rd, the day that Mr. Roth had the press conference that evening. s I was asked then to provide legal advice with regard to that.
QUESTION: You did not (OFF-MIKE)
RICHMAN: No. I was not involved in that suggestion. We merely looked at the issues as to whether or not it was appropriate to publicly name the priest at that time and how to go about it and we recommended against naming the priest at that time for a number of legal reasons.
RICHMAN: I don‘t know what they know. I know we have not discussed it with them yet because I haven‘t had an opportunity to do so. That‘s what I intend to do as soon as possible.
RICHMAN: Once I talk with them and talk with Mr. Foley, we‘ll be in a position to go forward. But first I need have the contact with the general counsel for the archdiocese, Mr. Fitzgerald.
QUESTION: Do you have a sense that Mr. Foley is aware of that maelstrom that has gone on around him? Does he watch TV? Does he read newspapers? Does he have any idea the image that has been portrayed of him?
RICHMAN: I have little doubt that he‘s aware of what‘s happening but I have not discussed that specifically with him.
RICHMAN: I don‘t. I will certainly find out but I don‘t know yet.
RICHMAN: Can‘t comment.
QUESTION: So you don‘t know the name of the priest but somebody does?
I guess I don‘t quite understand the process.
RICHMAN: Mark Foley and his attorney David Roth know the name of the priest. That has not yet been conveyed to me and once I set up the meeting with the archdiocese, which hopefully will be in person with their lawyer, then we‘ll discuss the manner and method of disclosing the name.
QUESTION: I realize we‘re beating this up a bit, but I think foremost in everybody‘s mind is, is he here?
RICHMAN: I can‘t answer here.
QUESTION: Is this guy here?
RICHMAN: If I could answer it and it was appropriate to do so, I would. I can‘t answer that, but I intend to find out as quickly as possible. As soon as they will meet with me, I‘ll be in a position to follow up on that. And hopefully it can become public and then whatever is necessary to be done for the protection of the public can be done.
RICHMAN: The archdiocese is the one that has specifically requested this information. They requested that it be reported to the state attorney‘s office. They copied state attorney Barry Krischer on the letter, made the letter public. They want this to come out.
And we are going cooperate with them. We think that‘s the most appropriate way to do it, is to allow the church itself to handle this in the first instance to clear the names, the names of the people who need to be cleared and to take appropriate action against the guilty party.
RICHMAN: I have great confidence that that will be done, that they will act appropriately. Anything else?
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
RICHMAN: If not, thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: That‘s Gerald Richman, of course attorney now for Mark Foley, the former Congressman from Miami.
Let‘s go to David Shuster. Well we learned that we know there is going to be a name that is going to pop in the next couple of days, that will keep this story going, won‘t it?
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will. But Chris, what seems so striking about this is there you have the lawyer having a news conference simply to say that yes we are cooperating. I didn‘t even get a sense that this particular lawyer has even met with Mr. Foley. He said that he joined the case October 3rd. At that point, Foley was already in rehab and all he would say is that he‘s had a phone conversation with him and that Foley hasn‘t even given him the name. So I suppose having a news conference is one way to get archdiocese of Miami to return your phone calls. But I‘m not sure what else we really learned out of this.
MATTHEWS: Well it sounds like he‘s got a P.R. person working for him, because this is one of the classic ways to drum up interest in a story, announce that you‘re going to announce something. I mean, you‘re get a big overnight story out of this, we‘re doing it live. Then tomorrow, or some day after that, they do announce the name. They are building up the excitement. So clearly Mark Foley is not intending to walk into that good night. He‘s not going to disappear as a public figure from all this hoopla.
SHUSTER: Yes, that‘s absolutely right and what‘s so striking again Chris is you look back at what his other attorney said on October 3rd. He said we‘re not making any excuses for Mr. Foley‘s behavior. And yet there again there seems to be another excuse the Foley camp is focusing on this priest. They won‘t name him. They simply want to have a conversation now with the archdiocese and again it focus attention on Mark Foley‘s excuse for his own inappropriate behavior.
In the meantime of course here on Capitol Hill, day after day, there‘s the drum beat of witnesses looking into what did Mark Foley actually do with these pages and who else in the Republican leadership knew about that? And it‘s almost as if Mark Foley perhaps sees some of that going on and wants to put up a sort of excuse and say, wait a second, it‘s not just a question of the Republican leadership and what they may have known or my actions. This is an issue that gets back to the way I was treated as a teenager. You‘re absolutely right, it just seems like he‘s trying to put this on a parallel track.
MATTHEWS: More legs than a centipede. In fact, this guarantees that unfortunately tomorrow night Senator John McCain, if you‘re watching, I‘m going to have to ask you about the Mark Foley matter and how it‘s been handled by the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, Because once again tomorrow, it‘s going to be a story because we now heard from Gerald Richman, the lawyer for Mark Foley, the former congressman, that the lawyer is going to go the general counsel, a guy named Fitzgerald, not a surprising name in the Catholic Church and the archdiocese of Miami to tell him the name of this priest who molested his client.
The story rolls on to its seedy conclusion. Thank you David. Play HARDBALL with us on Wednesday when we make our next stop on the “HARDBALL College Tour.” That‘s tomorrow night live at Iowa State University, with Senator John McCain, the front-runner. Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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