updated 10/24/2006 10:58:51 AM ET 2006-10-24T14:58:51

Guests: Howard Fineman, David Yepsen, Jim Warren, Mike Allen, John Dickerson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Now for something completely different.  Barack Obama says he‘s thinking about it.  Is that to get us excited?  And why are the Democrats so excited if they‘re happy with Hillary?  Is the hype about Obama a symptom of the country‘s 21st century malaise or—is this too good to believe? -- a symptom to it? 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to HARDBALL. 

Fifteen days before the election and the latest “Newsweek” poll shows Democrats leading Republicans.  Catch these numbers:  55 percent to 37 percent on the party people intend to vote for.  And the president‘s approval number remains stagnant at 35 percent, showing that the public‘s sour mood towards President Bush and his Republican party seem to be hardening.  With only two weeks left, can Republicans change the course of this election?  Can anything?  More on the election later. 

But the big buzz is Barack Obama.  Yesterday on “Meet the Press”, the freshman senator from Illinois said he‘s considering running for president in the year 2008.  What does this mean for Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Republican John McCain? 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has the report. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Illinois Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic party‘s great young hope, and Sunday on “Meet the Press” he said he is considering a run for president. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) ILLINOIS:  My main focus right now is in the ‘06 and making sure that we retake the Congress.  After November 7th, I‘ll sit down and consider it.  And if at some point I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it‘s fair to say you are thinking about running for president in 2008?

OBAMA:  It‘s fair.  Yes.

SHUSTER:  Obama‘s response marked a dramatic turn around from ten months ago. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008? 

OBAMA:  I will not. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You will not?

OBAMA:  Well, that is how I was thinking at that time.  And I don‘t want to be coy about this.  Given the responses that I‘ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility. 

SHUSTER:  In recent weeks, it‘s been hard to miss Obama.  The junior senator from Illinois at age 45 has landed on the covers of “Men‘s Vogue” and  “Time Magazine”.  He‘s made numerous appearances promoting a new book and he recently charmed Oprah Winfrey. 

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”:  So if you ever, ever decided that you would. 

OBAMA:  Oprah, you‘re my girl. 

WINFREY:  OK.

SHUSTER:  Political experts says this could be just the beginning. 

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Barack Obama has a different profile: somebody who is positive in his own right, projects optimism and enthusiasm.  Democrats are going to be hungry for that in 2008.  Two years ago, Obama took the political world by storm with a speech that was one of the highlights of the Democratic National Convention.  The son of an African immigrant spoke of America as the beacon for freedom and opportunity. 

OBAMA:  I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on earth is my story even possible. 

SHUSTER:  Recently, Obama has been criss-crossing the country, giving speeches and raising money for Democratic Congressional candidates.  He has helped actor George Clooney bring attention to the crisis in Darfur.  Along the way, Obama has captured the imagination of Democratic party activists. 

The leading advocate for an Obama presidential run is fellow Illinois senator Dick Durbin.  And party strategists, including some advising John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson, agree that Obama could leapfrog much of the potential Democratic field and become the challenger to New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

However, Obama has no executive experience, and he has never been tested on the national stage.  He has been in the Senate for only two years, he has not sponsored any bold legislative initiatives or ideas and his views on some top issues remain unclear. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you ready to be president? 

OBAMA:  Well, I‘m not sure anybody is ready to be president before they‘re president.  Ultimately, I trust the judgment of the American people, that in any election they sort it through.  We have a long and rigorous process.  And, you know, should I decide to run, if I ever did decide to run, I‘m confident that I‘d be run through the paces pretty good, including on “Meet The Press.” 

SHUSTER:  In the meantime Obama and his advisers are carefully choreographing his appearances. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera):  It‘s all part of an effort to position Obama in case he decides to run.  Campaign organizers, fundraisers and possible 2008 rivals have noticed, and they are all preparing for what could be one of the most dramatic and intriguing presidential contests in years. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David, pretty solid report.

Well, we go right now to “NBC NEWS‘” Roger Downey out no Arizona. 

He‘s been following Barack Obama today. 

Well, how have the crowds been hyped up because of that appearance on “Meet the Press”, Roger?

ROGER DOWNEY, “NBC NEWS” CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it really helped, obviously, because when they made this appointment three weeks ago, Arizona Democrats were hoping that the popularity of Barack Obama and his book would help draw the crowd today. 

But then, imagine their luck, it was like winning the lottery, maybe not the top prize, but one that would put money in party pockets.  Here he was in Arizona the day after making that announcement on “Meet the Press”.  And here he was in front of 4,000 people with the national media now beginning to take notice, and elbowing away, perhaps, some of the local media and making room for them. 

Local candidates were here, obviously hoping to share some of that luster that he brings with him.  The party faithful showed up and the near by campus of Arizona State University helped pump up the crowd to about 4,000. 

Senator Obama did not disappoint.  He spoke without notes and finished in a crescendo of popular Democratic themes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  If we do our work, if we don‘t let up, if we knock on doors and make phone calls and talk to our friends and neighbors and make sure we go to the polls, then come November 8, we will have a new House and we will have a new Senate and we will have a new senator in Jim Peterson. And together we‘re going to change the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  He energized the crowd for sure.  And one woman told me she would have no trouble deciding between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama because of his inspiration. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE PIRRO:  We need a candidate who‘s going to win, take back our presidency and the White House.  We need another John F. Kennedy in the White House, and I think he‘s got the same values as John F. Kennedy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Now the Obama staff is still that of a freshman senator in Congress.  And that became obvious after the senator spoke because instead of moving as previously planned to an area where he could meet and greet the audience, he stayed on stage too long.  The staff didn‘t move him, so the media came to him and it became sort of a large group of people trying to get questions to him and answers from him to the point where he was trying to move and they weren‘t moving.  Finally he had to make the decision and he moved toward his car. 

It was at the point I asked him, why now, why were you seriously talking about a candidacy now? And he looked at me and he said, it‘s because of you guys—meaning the media—you keep asking me this question and I didn‘t want to lie to you—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much. 

Roger Downey from Arizona.

We go now the Des Moines Register‘s” David Yepsen, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, and the “Chicago Tribune‘s” Jim Warren. 

Let‘s start with David Yepsen.  We had to cut you off the other night, but you were on earlier. 

Let me ask you about this.  Here‘s your chance, Obama, is it for real in your state of Iowa? 

DAVID YEPSEN, “DES MOINES REGISTER”:  Oh yes.  He was out here for Senator Tom Harkin‘s big steak fry last month.  He was hot.  It was one of the largest crowds Senator Harkin has ever had for this thing in some 30 years of doing it.  So the answer to your question, Chris, is yes, Obama is for real. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go right now to Jim Warren. 

Jim, it looks like, if there‘s such an appetite for this guy, there must be a lack of an appetite for the people already on the list for president next time? 

JIM WARREN, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Well, obviously, I think some of it, engaging in a little bit of navel gazing, involves the media and its present search for somebody other than Hillary as he raises all of this dough.  And I think he clearly is an enviable character, and even though you are going to see some revisionist thinking soon—and he is not perfect.  He doesn‘t walk on water.  If you look at a lot of local instances, in the last four or five months in the distinctly local Chicago area of political matters, he is not necessarily been a profile in courage. 

But nevertheless, the piece captured it.  What you‘re seeing out in Phoenix captures it.  He is this mix of idealism and pretty solid pragmatism and people just like him. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the vetting process has already begun, Howard, I don‘t expect it to start here tonight too tough, because this is the first blush.  But I noticed that Bob Novak on “Meet the Press”, when he got his first shot at this bright-shining young fellow, first shot, he said was lacks irony. 

Now it would seem to me, if I were a member of the African-American community, and I was sitting around talking about this hot prospect—look, he‘s Ivy-educated, he‘s really smart.  He was head of the law review, and he‘s great looking, he‘s got a great looking family.  And everything him‘s perfect, he‘s never done a thing wrong in his life.  And then some guy come along and says, but he‘s not ironic, it‘s like, where the hell did this score card come from?

Well, if that‘s all that the Prince of Darkness, as he‘s known around here, can think to say about him, I‘d say Obama‘s home free.

MATTHEWS:  How many presidents have we had who have the power of irony to see themselves in relief? 

I think Kennedy did.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Yes.  I actually...

MATTHEWS:  Because I don‘t think Clinton did...

FINEMAN:  I think he does, as a matter.  I think actually Bob is wrong about that.  Having spent some time with Obama, I think...

MATTHEWS:  ... He knows who he is. 

FINEMAN:  He knows who he is and he‘s able to stand outside himself to some extent and watch this amazing spectacle happen.  I was with him at Georgetown University, whole auditorium full of young people.  They were hanging on his word because he represents, at least on paper, at least in theory, at least in his being, he represents something completely different.  And the American people, especially young people are looking for something outside the box, something different.  Ideology matters less than background and story right now, at least at the start.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the shape of the field.  If he is running, and it looks like he wants us to say please run, it seems like that‘s what he‘s doing, is offering up a chance to root for him.  And he‘ll do it.

David Yepsen, it seems to me he clears the left field.  He not only becomes the No. 1 challenger to Hillary, but he knocks off Edwards, Russ Feingold‘s prospects, Chris Dodd‘s perhaps.  Why run on the left if you already have a guy who says I‘ve been against this war since the day it was discussed, Iraq?

YEPSEN:  I think Chris, that is one of reasons why he has a lot to rank and file Democrats here.  Howard is right.  People are looking for something different.  If Hillary Clinton runs, this whole campaign is going to be about law firm records and it‘s going to be about the past.  The Democrats, at least the ones I talk to, want to move on.  They like Senator Clinton, but they always say there‘s some hang up that they have about her.  One of those things is her vote for the war in Iraq.  And Senator Obama represents something different.

MATTHEWS:  Jim, do you agree that he clears the left and comes up as No. 1 to Hillary?

WARREN:  Yes, I mean in theory, if he does, and particularly if folks are as focused on the war as he is—there are other issues which nobody really knows about if you look at his state legislative record, low income tax credits for the poor.  Very, very, very anti-death penalty.  And in fact, if one does look at that record in the state legislature, one sees a guy who was both very, very serious and also quite the conciliator, a guy liked by a lot of Republicans.  But on a whole bunch of issues of that sort, yes, definitely. 

And as far as not having any sense of irony.  Howard‘s right.  That‘s such balderdash.  I mean, in fact, part of the stump speech now as Howard knows, is making fun of himself at how little he has accomplished in the U.S. Senate.  He knows full well that there has been a lot of serendipity.  He is in the Senate in some ways because of no small amount of good fortune.  One of the key Democratic primary candidates here in Illinois, self-immolated, then the Republican likely candidate self-immolated.  And he found himself against who?  Can we remember?  The transplant from Maryland, Alan Keyes.  So pretty lucky in one tough race.  The one tough race he‘s had for Congress against Bobby Rush, he got his butt kicked.

MATTHEWS:  Can he take a punch from the press without holding a grudge?

WARREN:  Well, you know, it‘s a little bit early to say that.  He‘s never been in a really tough race.  One somewhat tough race, as I said.  He ran for Congress, Democratic primary, U.S. House, south side Chicago against Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther and got smushed. 

The Senate race here doesn‘t show us much because it wasn‘t much of a battle.  But how will be take Howard and the rest of us dissecting that past record, asking him a million questions?  It remains to be seen.  And I think that‘s one of the reasons you cannot now say for sure he‘s doing it because he and Michelle Obama are sitting back and wondering if they‘ve got the nerve to do this, if they‘ve got the hunger to do this, along with whether they could take the ignominy of losing.  And I think they‘re also very, very nervous about the security aspect.  They are worried about his personal security.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I hope they don‘t go by the initial blush coverage of what it will be like later.  Teddy Kennedy fell for that mistake back in ‘79.  The press was fabulous for him until he ran and then they croaked him.  Anyway, David Yepsen, stay with us.  Howard Fineman, Jim Warren, all stay with us.  And later, CNBC‘s Maria Bartiromo interviewed President Bush this weekend.  She‘ll be here to tell us what he had to say. 

And tomorrow, “Decision 2006: Battleground America.”  Join David Gregory, Campbell Brown, Joe Scarborough, Lester Holt, Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, Tucker Carlson, Keith Olbermann and myself with the all-day political coverage just two weeks before the election.  We are going start early on election coverage.  We‘re going two Tuesdays before to have everybody tell us what they‘ve got already on what the results are going to be.  Interviews with the candidates and the hot races nationwide.  And Rick Santorum is coming here, Harold Ford Jr. from Tennessee, Jim Talent of Missouri and his opponent Claire McCaskill.  That is tomorrow beginning at nine Eastern on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with the “Des Moines Register‘s” David Yepsen, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and the “Chicago Tribune‘s” Jim Warren.

I‘m going to try to ask you top journalists to talk like regular people for just a second, because some of this does require stepping back from your most recent note-taking and information. 

Could it be that the Democratic voter out there, this mythical person out there, a woman or a man who has been around too long, says if we‘re going take a chance on Hillary, the first woman president and not be all that thrilled about the prospects because it‘s going to be an uphill battle anyway, why don‘t we throw the long ball?  Why don‘t we throw for the endzone and get the first African-American elected president?  The odds are a little longer perhaps but the win is so much bigger.  What do you make of that, David Yepsen?

YEPSEN:  Chris, I don‘t think the average Democratic voter thinks like that.  I think they‘re going to look at these candidates individually and make an assessment. 

And I think right now Barack Obama is new and fresh and that‘s what they like him about him.  Everybody‘s right, once the media scrutiny starts, we start looking at his record in Illinois and so forth, he may get scuffed up some.  But right now, the candidate who I think who‘s got a bigger problem is Senator Clinton.  I mean, she has a lot of people that do not want her to run because they don‘t want to go back to the past.

MATTHEWS:  And back to the past meaning back to her husband and his White House or back to people like the—I forget his name now, the former governor of Massachusetts that ran in 1988.

YEPSEN:  All of it.  It‘s all of it.

WARREN:  Dukakis.

MATTHEWS:  Dukakis.  They don‘t want to go back to losing, in other words? 

YEPSEN:  Plus all the negativity and all.  People want to move on.  People are—Democrats and Republicans, Chris, are very sick of the negativity in the American politics right now.  It turns them off and Senator Obama is something different, he‘s something fresh.

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s a good point.  Do you have the same view, Jim, or do you have a different view about why they‘re willing to—those people who are calling in to the headquarters of Barack Obama‘s, trying to get aboard the ship already, assumingly there are some of them who know their stuff—are they willing to take a bigger risk for a bigger return with him rather than her?

WARREN:  Yes, they may well.  I mean, it is clearly a question better put to David, on what is going happen in those early primaries.  As Howard knows, tell me what folks in New Hampshire and Iowa are going to think. 

I mean, I think if you are John Edwards, you have got be real nervous, because you‘ve been working real hard in Iowa.  I think you could have made a strong case for him being someone to upset Hillary there. 

But, you know, what David just said, it rings true.  I have a poster my office.  It is from the 1965 New York mayoral race.  Remember liberal Republican, remember that species we once had?  John Lindsay ran and won.  And his campaign took a quote from Murrey Kempton (ph), the late, great “New York Post” columnist, he is fresh and everyone is tired. 

And for now, for a period of time, and not encumbered by the baggage that Hillary Clinton has, he is going be fresh while everyone else looks tired.  And then we‘ll see how he bears up to the scrutiny, if, if he runs.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re an historian sir.  David Garth wrote that line, one of the great lines ever.  1965 mayors race in New York, the liberal senator from New York from the Silk Stocking District became mayor.  Thank you very much David Yepsen, thank you Howard Fineman and Jim Warren, a mighty man in the history department. 

Tonight, up next CNBC‘s Maria Bartiromo on her interview today with President Bush.  What is on his mind two weeks before the election.  Let‘s guess.  You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Maria Bartiromo host of CNBC‘s “The Closing Bell,” interviewed President Bush today and asked him about our economy, the escalating violence in Iraq and how those two issues will influence the midterm elections.  Maria, you got the hot get today. 

MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC‘S “THE CLOSING BELL”:  Thanks very much Chris.  You know, the president was very, very confident when I spoke with him about two hours ago about his chances coming up to the midterm election.  He said that he is not worried by one iota that the Republicans are going lose either House of Congress.  He was very confident on that, in particular because of the economy. 

You know, he talked about the fact that inflation is low, in addition to the fact that oil prices have come all the way down from close to $80 a barrel, now below $60 a barrel, and he also said that even though we are seeing a gap between the rich and poor, wages for the average middle class American today are actually higher than they were just a couple of years ago. 

So, with all that good news, the obvious question, of course Chris, is well, if everything is going so well, how come the poll numbers are so weak.  And that is what I asked him, about that disconnect. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I guess it‘s—we

are in a time of war.  I mean this is—people turn on their TV screens

and see these acts of violence in Iraq or Afghanistan or in other countries

and it can be unsettling.  I think the other thing is, Maria, that we got -

we—you know, the gasoline prices have just started to drop.  And that will help people feel better about the economy. 

I think there are some that are concerned about the fact that people are changing jobs quite often in our economy.  An so, I guess there is a variety of factors.  But, the good news is the economy is strong. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO:  In addition to those issues, we also talked about C.E.O.  compensation.  He said he was floored by some of the numbers out there that C.E.O.‘s are taking home.  I also asked him what is on his agenda for his final two years in office and, among the topics, is Social Security.  He is putting that back on the table. 

He suggested that the privatization plan, that did not work for him last time, is not dead by any means.  And he gave some detail as far as how that might work.  In addition, when I asked him about the midterm elections specifically, he said it is not a referendum on Iraq.  It is about the economy as well.   

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I think it‘s a referendum on a lot of things.  I definitely think the economy is an issue.  We will just see what happens.  I believe we will hold the House and the Senate.  No question, a strong economy is going to help our candidates.  Primarily because they have something to run on.  They can say our economy is good because I voted for tax relief. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARTIROMO:  And finally, I asked him about the revolution going on in media.  And I actually, Chris, asked him if he ever has Googled anybody.  He says he does use Google.  He doesn‘t e-mail, but he uses Google to look at the ranch.  He likes Google Maps. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know what to make of those points from him.  He seems like he was overwhelmed by your presence or something.  I‘m serious Maria, he doesn‘t seem to be totally focused in those interviews.  Those weren‘t very sharp answers. 

BARTIROMO:  Well, he was very focused on the economy.  And I think that he is not necessarily trying to change the conversation from Iraq to the economy, but I think that his advisors are telling him that he is not getting any credit for an economy that has been strengthening.  And, of course, another thing is that he said—I said look, if you actually --  if your party does retain control of both houses, are you going push to make those tax cuts permanent and he said absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think you made news, just as a news junkie here, because you got to him to bring back the personal accounts of Social Security back on to the front table.  I assume that some of those Democratic candidates from working class or middle class neighborhoods, which is most of the country, will be saying, here he goes again.  He wants to tamper with Social Security.  You put a story back in play, and I don‘t know why he would want to put that back in play right before an election, with older people especially. 

BARTIROMO:  It was definitely one of his priorities.  He said the other priority is finding alternatives to oil.  I said look, has the momentum been lost, or slowed in any way, given the fact that now gasoline is back below $2.00 a gallon in some areas.  He says no, at all, that they are still very hot on Ethanol and hybrids.   

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I am not sure Dick Cheney wants to find an alternative to oil.  Any way, thank you very much Maria Bartiromo.  I‘m serious, what a great get for you today. 

BARTIROMO:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, much more in the battle for control of Congress and what it will mean from President Bush.  We just heard about him.  Time Magazine‘s Mike Allen and “Slate.com‘s” John Dickerson are coming here.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now to Iraq and our daily update on America at war.  U.S. military officials say an American soldier has been reported missing in Baghdad today.  It comes at a time of increased violence throughout Iraq.  Here is NBC‘s Jane Arraf in Baghdad. 

JANE ARRAF, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, there is a grim landmark.  At least 85 U.S. service people have been killed so far this month, according to U.S. military figures.  That makes it the deadliest month so far and there is still a week left. 

Now, a lot of that violence has happened in Baghdad where there has been a major security plan, to try to ease the violence.  But officials say, part of the reason for the increase in attacks is an expected increase during this holy month of Ramadan.  That ended for a lot of Iraqis yesterday, but the violence continues. 

In Baghdad scattered bombs across the country have killed Iraqi policemen and civilians.  And in one of the worst incidents, Iraqi police, who were returning from training in the north, near the town of Bakuba, ambushed and kidnapped.  At least 15 of them were killed and apparently dozens more kidnapped.  These were Shias from Sadr City, passing through the Sunni, largely Sunni town of Bakuba. 

In London, an Iraqi official, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salah, says that he understands, as does the rest of the Iraqi government, that this should not be an open ended commitment by coalition forces.  But, he says, they need more time to train their own army and their own police, Chris. 

MATTHEW:S  Thank you Jane Arraf in Baghdad. 

President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove are putting on a brave face these days, saying Republicans will hold on November 7th, but are they serious?  Is it just to rally the troops, this pose of success that‘s coming?  Mike Allen is White House correspondent for “Time Magazine” and John Dickerson is chief political correspondent for “Slate.com.” 

Mike, I guess it is hard to see but it is there, this game face we‘re getting from the White House, this sense that this too shall pass.  What is it, for us?  Is it for the press?  Is it for the public? 

MIKE ALLEN, “TIME MAGAZINE”:  Well Chris, of course, it is for all of those and, of course, those guys are not going to go out say that they are going to lose.  That is as likely as a McGreevey/Foley ticket in 2008.  But what they can say—

MATTHEWS:  A McGreevey/Foley ticket.  I never thought of that one.

ALLEN:  Yes, that‘s a first.  But, what you are starting to see is hints of what they are going to say on November 8th.  Chris, John, as you all know, Republicans know that it is going be a very, very bleak night.  And you are starting to hear them talking about how this is going to be a chance for the president to work if a more bi-partisan way. 

John is laughing. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  They‘ve always opposed that kind of dealing.

ALLEN:  They are talking about issues that they can work on.  The three that they mention are energy independence, a fix to Social Security and something with health care. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s true.

ALLEN:  And they say those are issues that some Democrat, who wants to run for president in 2008, should want to work with them on.  And they—the argument that they make to them specifically about the hardest one, Social Security, is Democrats, if you want to have money to spend on things that you want to spend them on, you need to fix this.  Because otherwise, all that money is going be going to entitlements and if you‘re elected president, you‘re going to be stuck with the problem, so why not make Bush fix it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we are looking ahead to the next game here and they have already served their purpose, by making that—let‘s think about how delightful it would be when they get together.  But, the Republican administration, the president in particular, has said you can support my war in Iraq if you would like.  That is bi-partisanship. 

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN DICKERSON, “SLATE.COM”:  Yes, and it is unlikely the Democrats, if they win, control of one house or both, are going to be in a great mood for bi-partisanship, having seen what that meant when it was President Bush offering bi-partisanship. 

ALLEN:  Well, if it is in their interest.  If there is seen as some—if there is a market for that, someone will do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the next two weeks John Dickerson, the next two weeks for “Slate Magazine.”  What are you reporting.  We have got numbers we started the show with, almost a 20 point lead now in people‘s intentions, in terms of voting Democrat rather than Republican.  The president is stuck down in the mid 30‘s.  He is not coming back.  There is no more marking of 9/11 coming up on the schedule.  He is stuck where he is.  Is this where it is going to be two weeks from now?   

DICKERSON:  Well, we are looking at turn out and that‘s the big question, is whether—If the president, as bad as his numbers are, are these Republicans just going stay home?  The president‘s—this happy talk is to get those Republicans up, because they are dispirited.  We are looking in Virginia, in the Senate, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri to see if they get that magic. 

Folks are talking about four and five pick up for Democrats.  Can they get six, which is that key number about taking control of the senate.  So, those are the two things that I am looking at right now, but turn out -

MATTHEWS:  Well, a little wind behind the backs of the Democrats, Mike.  It only takes about a three-point wind behind them and they pick up all of these Senate seats, all of them. 

ALLEN:  You are exactly right.  Momentum is very real.  It is real in a football game.  It is real politics.  You watch the lengthening list of House races that are in play.  On Thursday, the DCCC gave me a list of 69 races.  Remember when we were talking about 18?  Surely that list is bigger today. 

But, John‘s point about turn out is very astute.  That is sort of the last thing that Republicans have to hang their hat on.  Does this expensive turn out machine that they have built—will this help them in the end?  It only works in close races and these races are not close—many of these races are not close. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this as bad as it was in 1974, when apparently the Democratic vote did not go up from 1972 to 1974, but because of Watergate and that big scandal, the Republican vote fell off enough for the Democrats to sweep. 

DICKERSON:  This is why turn out is key.  They have said, the Republicans have said this is not 1974, this isn‘t 1994 because we have this great turn out machine, which is sort of our fire break.  It means all of these national trends don‘t matter, because we can get our Republicans out on the ground.  But the problem is, these national trends are dis-spiriting Republicans.  And the president is not lifting them in a lot of places.  There are a lot of places Republicans are saying keep the president away, keep Karl Rove away, we don‘t want to hear from them. 

MATTHEWS:  I always thought that if you went to the movie theater and you got there on time, and you saw who came in late, Democrats—I would bet Democrats are always late for the movies.  Because they are not as organized as the Republicans.  They are not the kind of people that organize their paycheck, organize this, figure out this, put all the spoons together in the drawer exactly right, like Republicans do.  Aren‘t they, by their nature, a little sloppier than Republicans and it‘s showing up? 

DICKERSON:  Right, but they have anger and anger motivates.  And they are angry at this president.  And every time he shows up, they get angrier.  And that is why this president‘s numbers have not gone up.  They are very angry and anger, if you go to the college professors who have looked at what motivates people, the angry people turn out. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that Mike?

ALLEN:  I don‘t know but—

MATTHEWS:  I would think that would win the election, because I‘ve looked at these numbers, and it‘s not that people have changed their mind from liking Bush to disliking.  They have gone from disliking to hating.  That‘s been the big shift in the numbers. 

ALLEN:  Right, but separately, to talk about Republicans...

MATTHEWS:  Or really disliking.  Hating is a tough word, but really disliking. 

ALLEN:  Right.  But separately, the problem Republicans have is they now cannot be sure that the people who turn out are going vote for them.  So you are going to hear Republicans saying, you‘d be idiotic to try to punish Republicans by voting for a Democrat, by having Republicans fall for the... 

MATTHEWS:  So they call number ones at home and say, come on out and vote, they‘ll come out and vote for the other guy?

ALLEN:  Right.  Because that gives you as Speaker Nancy Pelosi almost certainly. 

DICKERSON:  Right.  But what I‘m saying is Republicans stay home, Democrats are angry.  So that‘s where...

MATTHEWS:  Did you think Pelosi she looked scary on “60 Minutes” the other night?

ALLEN:  Well, I‘ll tell you, a lot of Republicans think that she‘s crazy to cooperating with these profiles.  They think it gives her a bigger target, reminds, and maybe gets, some of those Republicans out who would not otherwise...

MATTHEWS:  Did you think she looked scary last night, like a lefty?

ALLEN:  I can tell you that her people think that these profiles show her as in command and personable.

MATTHEWS:  Does she look, when she gets a full spread on T.V., like “60 Minutes”, a program like that—she‘ll probably get more, “20/20”, shows like that.  Do you think she‘s looking too San Francisco?

DICKERSON:  Democrats do not want her on television all the time, because they are some Democratic districts in which she is a problem.

MATTHEWS:  Because?

DICKERSON:  Because she looks too far to the left.  This is a Democratic party that‘s trying to win in a lot of different places, and picking up seats where Republicans are in power now, where it‘s not a huge liberal coalition.  If they‘re going win in these second-tier and third-tier seats in the House that are no potentially in play, those are not areas in which Nancy Pelosi is a hero.

ALLEN:  And on Republican talk radio—conservative talk radio, you hear a lot now about “San Francisco Values”. 

MATTHEWS:  I remember that.

Mike Allen and John Dickerson are staying with us. 

Tomorrow, watch for our full day of political coverage.  We‘re going to start at 9:00 in the morning.  As we cover all the races and the hot stories with just two weeks to go in the campaign. 

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

As the elections enter the home stretch—that‘s two weeks from now -

campaigns around the country are stepping up their attacks everyday.  And many of those attacks are using campaign parody sites to do it. 

HARDBALL‘s Jeremy Bronson has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEREMY BRONSON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It is one of the most potent forces in politics, the power of parody. 

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR:  Strategery.

BRONSON:  Just two years ago, the power of political wit hit the web when this animated spoof from the satire site jibjab.com became an instant hit online. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  You are a liberal sissy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  You‘re a right-wing nut job. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re a pink Commie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re dumb as a doorknob.

BRONSON:  But now the candidates are taking charge of the comedy.  Campaigns across the country are creating their own parody websites to bludgeon their opponents.  It‘s cheap, it‘s easy, and most of all, it‘s working. 

Take thefudgereport.net, a Democratic spoof of the popular news site drudgereport.com.  Go to the site, and you‘ll find links, like “Two Faced Talent” and “gorgeous George”, mocking the Republican senators from Missouri and Virginia. 

Republicans in Ohio have launched faroutbrown.com, which caricatures Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown as a liberal hippy right of the sixties. 

Fancyford.com is a Republican site that mocks Senate candidate Harold Ford as a lavish spender who likes to party with Playboy playmates. 

In response, Democrats have hit back with this, veryfancyfrist.com, which rips Bill Frist for his ties to big business. 

And then there‘s toojrfromjersey.com, which lampoons New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean, Jr. as a frat boy straight out of “Animal House”. 

Campaign operatives say that spoof sites like these tend to energize party activists, those dedicated voters who spend time digging up political material on the Internet.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  These sites are aimed at the margins but not exclusively so.  Sometimes when there‘s a message that really permeates, that really gets people fired up, that really gets people interested, you might see it jump over to more of a mainstream audience, a television audience, a direct mail audience. 

BRONSON:  But perhaps most lethal is their ability to deliver online video instantly, which can crush a campaign. 

JOE TRIPPI, FMR. DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  What you‘re seeing now is a lot of these spoof sites are actually using YouTube to connect video to the spoof site.  So you see, like, the macaca moment, the George Allen thing suddenly get spread all over the Internet and become a major story. 

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

Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.

BRONSON (on camera): With the election right around the corner, these sites are getting tougher and nastier every day, more proof that the real question for aspiring politicians may not be, are you ready for primetime, but instead, are you ready for the Internet?

Jeremy Bronson, MSNBC, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Jeremy Bronson, one of our great people here. 

We‘re back with “Time Magazine‘s” Mike Allen and Slate.com‘s John Dickerson.

A little review of that package, is that what‘s going on right now? 

It‘s all going to be on the Internet?

ALLEN:  I love Fancy Frist, I hadn‘t seen that. 

But, yes, and the other thing about YouTube is you don‘t have to say where it came from.  So it‘s easy—it used to be that they had convince a reporter to put out negative stuff on their other guy.  But now they can do it on their own, no fingerprints. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you convinced that the pajama-hideen, who live at their computers at home, their desktops, and are brilliant, some of them, very state of the art, know how to find the community center where they have to go vote?  Can they go from the virtual world to the real world, John Dickerson?

DICKERSON:  Sure. Yes, they can make it.  The question‘s whether they‘re very big.  I mean, the ones who are blogging and interested in these races are going to show up.  It‘s just what we‘re learning in Connecticut with Lamont is, you know, some point the candidate has to do something.  And Lamont won in his primary, in the Democratic primary, but it looks like he‘s getting tanked. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s his problem?

DICKERSON:  Well, I think the problem for him is he can‘t get cross-over—get those unaffiliated voters and the number of Republicans he needs to beat Lieberman. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he getting the Democrats?

DICKERSON:  He‘s getting the Democrats, but not all of them. 

Lieberman, I think, is still in the 30s within his own party. 

MATTHEWS:  I think his mistake was to go on vacation after he won the primary.  You got to do it like Schumer did in New York, go right at him at his jugular.  When you win the nomination of your party, that says, “Go for it!”  It doesn‘t say, “Take a vacation.”

ALLEN:  Well, the other thing is that in a general election, you‘re appealing to normal people.  In a primary you‘ve got these very narrow bands of people that it‘s much easier to target, much easier to get riled up, and up easier to connect with a message that does not connect with people out Little Leagues field and churches.

MATTHEWS:  But the war in Iraq is hurting working people more than the elite.  So why can he talk to them up there?  Why do you hear that the working people, the regular ethnic Democrats are going to Joe, who‘s the biggest hawk on the planet?  Explain that to me.  People are voting for a war they hate? 

DICKERSON:  Well, they are voting for a guy they like and who they trust after a long period of...

MATTHEWS:  (inaudible) a hawk.

DICKERSON:  Well, but they trust him on those other issues.  They have known him for a long time. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me say this to Connecticut:  If we have a war that keeps going after this election, don‘t sit back and say, I did my best, because the best thing you can do is to vote against the war.  Right?  If you are against the war, vote against it.  You only get one vote.  Shouldn‘t you vote against it if you care about?  If you care about other issues more, fine.

(CROSSTALK)

DICKERSON:  Well, no, that is where they are coming down, is they‘re saying they like—you know, the war is complicated.  A lot of positions.  They like Joe.

MATTHEWS:  There is nothing complicated.  Use your intelligence and vote your brains, not just vote sentiment. 

Anyway, thank you, Mike Allen.

John Dickerson is going to stay with us to talk about what it‘s like to have experienced two generations covering the White House.  You are watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.  Before Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, there was Nancy Dickerson.  She was the first TV female role model, a member of the Washington news press corps, and the first female TV correspondent at CBS.  Later, she became the first woman anchor of her own network news broadcast, “The News With Nancy Dickerson,” on NBC.

John Dickerson is her son.  He‘s a familiar face in this business.  He‘s chief political correspondent for Slate.com.  He‘s author of a new book called “On Her Trail: My Mother Nancy Dickerson, TV News‘ First Woman Star.”

Beautiful woman.  My wife knew her when she was alive.  A real star.  Nancy Dickerson, big name in this business, like Maria McLaughlin (ph), one of those great names.  Did you like her? 

DICKERSON:  I didn‘t.  For a long time in my adolescence, we were enemies.  I mean, I moved out when my parents split and lived with my dad. 

We became friends again when I got in the business.  And then she got sick.  After she died, I got about 20 boxes of her stuff, including journals when she was a little girl, papers from her career, and that‘s what this book is about, going through those 20 boxes and figuring out who this woman is. 

MATTHEWS:  The most common question about someone who‘s on television, if you‘re interested at all, is to say what were they really like.  Was your mom like when she was on television when she was with you? 

DICKERSON:  No, no, but I didn‘t see her career.  She was very good on television, which I feel like I can say, because I didn‘t see it.  I...

MATTHEWS:  What did that do to you? 

DICKERSON:  Well, it didn‘t—when I was alive, I saw somebody who was struggling to come back into that stardom that she‘d experienced, and somebody who was frustrated by that business that she had been a part of. 

Going back now and writing about it and seeing it, though, I now understand what it was like for her, I understand where a lot of her impulses came from, and understand what an extraordinary woman she was in the end. 

MATTHEWS:  Is television news too much for a mother to be a good mother? 

DICKERSON:  Well, to be a mother, the first one to do both things, to try to be a mother and to be competing with the boys in 1960, when there were no other women, that‘s too much.  With no playbook, when you‘re making up the playbook on your own, that‘s too hard to do. 

But having said that, and now knowing exactly what it was like for her and the knocks she took, it was pretty extraordinary. 

MATTHEWS:  Should the woman on television today have children? 

DICKERSON:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  But you are saying you had a miserable life because your mom was (inaudible)? 

DICKERSON:  Women on television are different now. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Tell me how it‘s changed.

DICKERSON:  They‘re no different than men.  Because men and women now understand the roles of their parenting differently.  The expectations for a woman in an anchor chair are different now than they were in 1960, where if you were pregnant, you kept it off the air.  Now, a pregnant news correspondent talks about her pregnancy, she talks about the balance between family and having kids.  It‘s a part of the culture now.  And you have men taking off time to deal with their kids. 

Mom got two weeks off for maternity leave, and then was down covering the convention in Miami with the Republicans in 1968.  Now, women aren‘t forced to go do that to keep up with the men.  There is a little bit more give there.  It certainly has not been worked out, but it‘s a lot better for women who want to have a career and have a family. 

MATTHEWS:  Anne Meara, who‘s the old comic who grew up in the ‘50s once told me she said, you know, you know, when she and Jerry Stiller—now Ben Stiller is their kid—we don‘t have time for you right now, we‘re doing the Sullivan show tonight.  Did you feel that growing up, that your mother had to go do something when things got tough?

DICKERSON:  Well, that‘s right...

MATTHEWS:  She had a pressure on her that you didn‘t understand?  She had to be great? 

DICKERSON:  I did not understand that pressure at all.  She just wasn‘t around.  We kind of wondered why, and then when she wasn‘t around, we thought, OK, we‘re going to go do our own thing, and then... 

MATTHEWS:  Is that Kennedy looking at your mom like he had her mixed up there?  Let‘s go back to that last picture.  I‘d never seen—well, Jack Kennedy was known for his high regard for women, but look at that picture, if we could flank back to that last one there.  What is he doing?  He is giving her the eye, I‘m sorry, here.

DICKERSON:  When she was very sick, she was very, very sick and she could barely talk, I used to go through some of these pictures with her, and I said, “she‘s giving you the big eye.”  She hadn‘t talked for a long time, and she said, “he gave every girl the big eye.”  It was the first clear sentence she‘s said in months.

MATTHEWS:  But she looks so much like Jackie Kennedy.  The three-quarter length sleeve, the whole Chanel look, I think it is.

DICKERSON:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that about? 

DICKERSON:  Well, that‘s about using her tools to her advantage in that business. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s her with Jackie, I can‘t tell them apart.  Which one is Jackie and which one is Nancy Dickerson?

DICKERSON:  Jackie is the one on the left; mom‘s the one on the right.

MATTHEWS:  So you got through this OK?

DICKERSON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And now you‘re rooting for your mom in heaven.  

DICKERSON:  Yes, I am.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  She‘s OK.

DICKERSON:  Yes, and hopefully she is rooting for me. 

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you nice.  John, it‘s a beautiful cover, a beautiful book.  You‘re a great writer.  This has got to be (inaudible) book.  This is classic 1950s look, by the way.  They had that great of all those, you know, those great actresses, Jeanne Crain, the rest of them?

DICKERSON:  I‘ve never seen that picture until after she died.

MATTHEWS:  Seh‘s got that look, movie star looks.  Anyway, thank you.

I want to say a word about another woman who just passed away yesterday.  That‘s Jane Wyatt.  I mean, I can‘t explain why I really was in love with this woman, except that she was the mother on “Father Knows Best,” and she had—there she is—I just fell in love with this woman all through the ‘50s, growing up.  She was absolutely wonderful.  And all the clips in the obits today say that she was just as wonderful in real life.  Her grandkids say that she was as good as that mother was on “The Andersons,” on “Father Knows Best.” 

And I also remember way back in the 1930s, as the nude woman swimming in the pool, the leg that Ronald Coleman came across in that great movie, the Frank Capra great—what‘s it‘s called—“Lost Horizon,” I remember there her singing.

I once met her in a green room as we were going into one of these TV shows 15 years ago.  She looked like a million bucks, and I said to her, I remember you in “Lost Horizon.”  And she was so nice about it.  She says, “You remember that?” 

Jane Wyatt.  She‘s gone but will be remembered a long time.  She was great.

Tomorrow is a big day of politics here on MSNBC, starting at 9:00 Eastern.  It‘s all-day coverage of the hot races and biggest stories from around the country with just two weeks left before the election.  It‘s Tuesday tomorrow.  Two Tuesdays away, it‘s all going to be over.  Decision 2006, we start the countdown tomorrow.  I‘m sorry, Keith.  Tomorrow here on MSNBC.  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   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com) ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

transcript

Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,