updated 10/25/2006 12:27:28 PM ET 2006-10-25T16:27:28

Guests: Mary Matalin, Mudcat Saunders, Dick Armey, Charlie Black, Carlos Botifoll, Al Sharpton, Kinky Friedman, Larry Sabato

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Thanks Chris.  Welcome to a special edition of Decision 2006.  I am Tucker Carlson live at the rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The countdown has begun towards what arguably is the most important midterm election ever, just two weeks from today.  It‘s certainly the most expensive ever waged in American history. 

In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics calculates that when you add up spending by the candidates, the parties, and outside groups, the total $2.6 billion.  That‘s more than the gross domestic products of many small countries, Tajikistan, Rwanda, Malawi, many others. 

So why the spending spree this year?  Simple, for the first time since 1994 the Democrats have a real shot at taking control of the Congress of the United States.  In the Senate they need just six seats, and one of those seats could be right here in Virginia.  Virginia‘s Republican George Allen‘s re-election was supposed to be a sure thing, but after months of nasty charges and counter-charges, it is clearly in play. 

The latest MSNBC/McClatchy Senate poll shows Allen with 47 percent and Democrat Jim Webb at 43 percent.  It was 43 to 43, a tie, in late September. 

Well, so after stumbling badly just a few weeks ago, can George Allen pull it out in the final two weeks?  Well, joining us now to talk about that Mary Matalin.  She‘s advisor to Senator Allen‘s campaign and she comes to us from Washington, DC.  Mary, thanks for joining us today and welcome.  


CARLSON:  It‘s nice to see you Mary.  It looks like your candidate, Senator Allen, is pulling it out, but he is still within the margin of error.  He was sixteen points up this summer in July.  What happened? 

MATALIN:  Well, it‘s not a 16 point red state.  It‘s a three to five point red state, if you will.  It‘s been, as the Democrats have been saying, and, you know, they are actually telling the truth about this, it‘s a state that is turning into a swing state, particularly with the influx of workers, and expansion in northern Virginia, where you used to live.  So you know what I speak. 

I am completely surrounded by liberals where you used to live.  So, that is about right for this race and it‘s about where he should be and he‘s going to fight to the end and he‘s going to bring it home and I‘m very proud of Susan Allen for this.  He‘s going to bring it home with women and I‘ve heard you say, Tucker, about why you think women are staying with him, but I‘ll tell you why women are staying with him, because all those moms that are friends of your wife and the mothers of your kids, we all went to the same school, go to these events and, you know, they want to talk about what he did for education reform. 

They know George Allen, what he‘s done for our infrastructure, what he‘s done for taxes, for welfare reform, for bringing jobs.  That‘s why they‘re sticking with him. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second Mary.  I have no doubt that some of that is true, but it‘s also true that the Allen campaign has beat Jim Webb over the head with this piece he wrote in 1979 for the “Washingtonian,” arguing that women should not serve in combat positions in the armed forces, and it seems to me that‘s a pretty conservative position.  Is it the Allen campaign‘s position that conservatives can no longer believe that? 

MATALIN:  No, that is not his position, but what was offensive about that was the language that was used.  You know me, Tucker, I am no raving feminist here, but any man that ever says, in any context, or professes to know something about any woman‘s horny dreams is not somebody that I want representing me or even in the same room with me. 

I think women who knew nothing about the issue, know nothing about the issue, are offended by that kind of lose talk about women.  It‘s just ick, OK.  So that is not a dispositive issue for people, for whom it was an issue.  It was very offensive to the women at a time, but I am telling you why women are supporting George Allen, and you know because you lived there and you know those women. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second, Mary.  Wait, hold on.  You just said a second ago, that kind of loose talk, both candidates in this race, as you know, have been guilty of loose talk, and it‘s been my position from day one that loose talk is no measure of anybody, any candidate in this race certainly.  You ought to judge people on what they believe, and Jim Webb, I thought, made a pretty cogent case for why women ought not to serve in combat.  And I just hate to see George Allen attacking him from the left, which is what he‘s been doing.   

MATALIN:  You know, this is obviously no longer a current issue.  The people who are voting in this race want to vote on current issues.  This is a state that when not too long ago, when we all moved here, the largest export was tobacco.  Today it‘s computer chips?  Why, George Allen.  Why do we have the economy here that we do?  Why do we have the education reform, welfare reform?  We‘re the models for the national welfare and education reform.  So you know what, forget this loose talk. 

When I was going on vacation, when the whole goofy Macaca thing broke, and I said this isn‘t—oh, it will be over in two days.  You know, they will do anything not to talk about George Allen‘s record because it‘s a proud record to stand on.  And Webb does not have any agenda.  You know, Allen has got a record, and he has got a vision and he is a very 21st century thinker and he‘s your kind of conservative.  OK, he‘s a freedom conservative. 

CARLSON:  Well, I like the guy.  I must say, I am with you on the Macaca thing.  I didn‘t care one way or the other, from day one.  You are an articulate voice for George Allen.  Thanks a lot Mary, I appreciate it. 

MATALIN:  Thanks Tucker.  Say hi to Susie. 

CARLSON:  I will.  Well Democratic challenger Jim Webb is within spitting distance of winning Virginia‘s senate seat, a move that could shift the balance of power in Washington, in fact would shift the balance of power.  That would make my next guest pretty happy.  Mudcat Saunders is a personal advisor to Jim Webb, also a renowned Democratic campaign consultant.  Mudcat, welcome. 


CARLSON:  Here is what I don‘t understand, I thought this race was going to be all about Iraq.  And here you have Jim Webb, a guy who is a decorated Vietnam veteran, a Marine veteran, whose son is serving in Iraq right now, and you would expect Jim Webb to be up at every opportunity, saying I‘ve been against this war since day one.  I was prescient about this war.  My own boy is serving in this war.  You know, here‘s my position, and you don‘t hear him saying that.  And I don‘t get it? 

SAUNDERS:  Well, Tucker, George Allen, on a scale of one-to-ten, as a politician, is probably a ten.  I mean I feel like Americans right now are looking for something except, you know, a politician.  Jim Webb, you know, is an engaging individual.  He is funny as he can be, and possibly one of the smartest people I‘ve ever met in my life.  You know, we could end this thing right now—let Jim Webb and George Allen have an IQ contest and Jim Webb beat him 50 points and we‘ll go home.  But that said, you know, Jim won‘t let us. 

CARLSON:  Won‘t let you what?

SAUNDERS:  As far as bringing Jimmy into this, you know, he‘s not going to do it—

CARLSON:  Jimmy being his son? 

SAUNDERS:  Jimmy being his son in Iraq.  I will give you an example. 

This is the type of guy Jim Webb is, and how non-political he is.  He was coming down to south-west Virginia to do an event—any way I was talking with a banjo picker with the Locus Mountain Boys, who were helping us out there, and I told him, I said look, let‘s do the Marine Corps hymn when Jim walks out. 

You know, Jim obviously being one of the most celebrated of 400,000 marines to serve in Vietnam, and when Jim Webb speaks, you listen.  He has his quality.  It‘s regal almost, not in a sense of a King Richard or a King Arthur, but more in a sense of a Braveheart.  He called me to the side and he said, Mudcat, he said I want to make this clear.  He said under no circumstances do you every use the Marine Corps hymn in any of my campaigns.

CARLSON:  Well good for him. 

SAUNDERS:  He says, because I will never forgive Olly North for doing it in 2000 and he said my Corps will never be brought into public controversy.   

CARLSON:  I admire that as I admire him.  I disagree with him on some issues, but I think he is a solid guy.  And I have always thought of him as a conservative, an ideological conservative actually.  I have read a lot of things, most things that he‘s written and I‘m—I was a little surprised to see him up with Bill Clinton the other day, and I wonder, is he—the charge is that he is a carbon copy of Hillary Clinton, that he some sort of liberal Democrat.  What are the difference between Jim Webb and Hillary Clinton. 

SAUNDERS:  Well, the difference between Jim Webb and Hillary Clinton are obvious.  There‘s lots of cultural differences.  I think they both have a—

CARLSON:  Like what?

SAUNDERS:  I think Jim is possibly, you know, more pro-gun.  I think that Jim is more representative of our culture here in the south, and especially in the real part of Virginia that‘s, you know, 50 miles this way.  I think he is more in line with the culture.  His culture message to us is exactly what the Democrats need to do.  It‘s a message that will bring the Reagan Democrats home.  And it‘s a cultural thing.  The Democrats, as you and I have talked many times, we don‘t understand the power of the culture in the electorate.  Jim Webb understands that. 

CARLSON:  But does he buy—I mean, did he vote for John Kerry and Al Gore?  Does he buy into the Democratic Party‘s positions on things?  

SAUNDERS:  I don‘t think that he buys into anything.  I will say this about Jim Webb, you know, he is an independent thinker, as I said before.  He is not a political guy.  He is not.  And if Americans want a guy, and if Virginians want a guy, he is going to go to Washington, and, you know, it will be the first bees nest he sees.  He will throw a rock right dead in the center of it.  He‘s that kind of guy.  He is running out of a call to duty.  There is no hidden agenda. 

The guy is the most grounded individual I‘ve ever met.  He‘s got—you know, he can go back to writing books.  He can do his movies (INAUDIBLE) forever.  There are so many things he can do, but this call to duty is what drives him, and this is what we need right now in this tough time in American history. 

CARLSON:  His slogan, quickly, born fighting, what does that mean? 

SAUNDERS:  Born fighting was—it comes from the Scotts Irish culture. 

CARLSON:  Right, and he wrote a book of the same title, which was an excellent book, I thought. 

SAUNDERS:  Right, “How the Scotts Irish Shaped America.”

CARLSON:  Right, but who‘s he born fighting?

SAUNDERS:  It‘s just our nature.

CARLSON:  It‘s not a very reassuring slogan, is it?

SAUNDERS:  Well, it‘s a reassuring slogan if you come from the Scotts Irish culture like I do.  It‘s the reason—Jim Webb and people like him were the reason that Hadrian built the wall, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Oh my god, Mudcat Saunders, I wish every consultant were as powerful as you.  Thank you very much.

SAUNDERS:  Thank you Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Hadrian built the wall.  Well, for profiles of the candidates in all the hot Senate races across the country, as well as on demand video, discussion boards, and much more, go to politics.MSNBC.com. 

It‘s a key part of our coverage today, and our countdown to election day. 

Still to come, the battle for control of Congress is coming down to the wire, but will evangelical voters desert President Bush in his time of need?  We‘ll ask Dick Armey that question. 

And a Republican attack ad sparks outrage in Tennessee, and charges or race baiting.  We will break it down for you.  That story when we come back. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back to our all-day coverage of Decision 2006.  We‘re coming to you live from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Well, in the midst of what looks to be a Republican meltdown, has the Republican party spent so much time pandering to evangelical leaders that the party itself has lost its way.  That‘s the claim. 

My next guest says, quote, the Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about things people care about, like how do I pay my bills.  Dick Armey is the man who said that.  He is, of course, the former House Republican majority leader and chairman of Freedomworks.org.  He joins us from Washington.  Mr. Armey, thanks a lot for coming on. 


CARLSON:  I am frankly surprised to hear you say this.  I know that you are—I have always thought of you as sympathetic to evangelicals, maybe even an evangelical yourself, certainly a conservative.  Can you just kind of sum up and explain to our viewers, who haven‘t read your remarks on the subject, what you mean?

ARMEY:  Yes, it was very difficult.  Basically I am an evangelical and I‘m quite sympathetic to their agenda, but the fact of the matter is the American electorate, a broad base of American voters are feeling frustrated with the Republicans.  They have not attended to Social Security and retirement reform.  They haven‘t attended to tax reductions and the extenders and all of these things that have to do with my real life and how things are going.  They have not attended seriously and effectively with immigration reform and yet, they have use the floor of the House and Senate for what are obviously politically—political exercises, in two days of debate on gay marriage, to have a vote that everybody knows is never going to result in any change of the law anyway, so—

CARLSON:  Right. 

ARMEY:  So the electorate is saying you guys have lost track of the big ideas.  You are not attending to the work that should get done and must get done, and on top of that, you are wasting my time, and the House of Representatives and the Senate, on things that are purely about yourself and your political destiny in the short run, not about my country in the long run, and you are not who I thought Ronald Reagan said we ought to be. 

CARLSON:  And yet the irony, of course, is that evangelicals think, and I think with good reason, that the Republicans have not done much for the either.  So, no constituency is satisfied.  I mean, what exactly has this White House done for evangelicals? 

ARMEY:  Well, this again, is the frustration you have.  With the Ronald Reagan legacy, we always new good policy meant good policy.  Get something done that was important and meaningful in people‘s lives and you will give them a reason to appreciate you.  Do a lot of political posturing, as it were, on the floor of very important legislative bodies that results in no policy outcome, no change in the law, and what you have done in waste our time.  The important thing is the Republicans need to get back in touch with the big ideas that are important across the country. 

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, the big idea that they have lost touch with, it seems to me, is small government.  What ever happened to the idea of limiting the growth of government.  Do you remember that?  I know that you, I mean, you were the embodiment of that idea?  Does it pain you to look over at your former colleagues in the Congress and see how they have lost sight of that? 

ARMEY:  No, it does pain me.  You know, again we look at the legacy that Ronald Reagan gave us, small government conservatism was about personal freedom and liberty.  You are a more free person if you limit the size and scope and power of government. 

What is happening and what is particularly discouraging about what has been going on in the evangelical movement, they are saying it‘s all right to embrace growth in the power and scope of government if it is for the purpose of imposing standards of conduct or righteousness on the people.  That is inconsistent with the foundation principle of our party, which is freedom.  We are a party that is about freedom and freedom first. 

CARLSON:  Well, what about—maybe you have heard this analysis.  If the Democrats take the House, and it looks pretty clear that they have a very good shot at doing so, they probably will, you will have a Republican president and a Democratic Congress.  Maybe Bush will wake up and become conservative once again, and try and limit spending and actually veto things.  And maybe the growth of government will be slowed, ironically, by the election of Democrats.  What do you think of that?

ARMEY:  Well, it‘s possible.  It can be done, but again, the president

I believe this president lost his chance to be the Reagan-esque type leader that he promised us all he would be when he did not take Social Security and retirement reform and say to the Republican Congress, this is important.  It‘s the most important work of our generation.  I am in charge here. 

We are going to go get this done for America and for America‘s future.  He lost that opportunity when he did not do that.  And now, in fact, he can sort of tick away, and if ends up having to basically hand wrestle with the Democrats over some demonstration of who‘s the fiscal conservative here, it‘s going to go be small idea combat.  It‘s not going to be big idea initiative.  He will have lost his chance for that. 

CARLSON:  Well, it sounds to me like you feel like the Republicans deserve to lose, do you? 

ARMEY:  No, I don‘t.  I mean, I feel bad for them.  I think they have lost track of where they are, who they ought to be, who they have been, when they were shining and so forth.  I have always argued, I‘ve been saying it for some months now, when we are like us, we win, when we are like them, we lose.  They have been driven a lot by their political insecurities, into making bad decisions, based on political criteria, rather than good decisions, based on policy initiative, and they put themselves in the soup. 

Now, the good news is they are still the better option for most American voters.  So, I laugh when I hear people in America complaining about the Republican spending, and here is the complaint I hear, they are spending like they are Democrats. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait, wait - yes, right.  Wait until you see how the real ones spend.  That‘s an excellent point.  Dick Armey, I appreciate you coming on.  Thank you very much. 

ARMEY:  You bet. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, a conservative hero, Rick Santorum.  It looks like he is about to go down to defeat in the state of Pennsylvania.  A sign of things to come for the Republican Party?  That story when we come back. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Our special coverage of Decision 2006 continues.  We‘re live from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. 

One contest is drawing a lot of attention, and not in a good way, is the battle for the Senate seat in Tennessee.  Critics are charging the Republican party is playing the race card there, mostly because of this television ad, which was funded by the Republican National Committee, watch. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I met Harold at the Playboy party. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would love to pay higher marriage taxes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Canada can take care of North Korea.  They‘re not busy. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So he took money from porn movies producers, I mean, who hasn‘t?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold, call me. 


CARLSON:  So, is the GOP reverting to the so-called southern strategy?  Joining me now to answer that question, among others, Republican strategist Charlie Black, joining us from Washington.  Charlie welcome, what do you think of this ad? 

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I think the ad is funny and the ad does a good job of making the point that Harold Ford is a social liberal who goes to parties sponsored by Playboy Magazine.  That‘s the whole point of the ad.  There is nothing racial about it. 

CARLSON:  But, I am the—I would say honestly, I am the most socially conservative person I know, adamantly opposed to abortion for instance, I went to a party at the Playboy Mansion, with my wife.  I don‘t think it makes me a liberal and I actually don‘t think Harold Ford is very liberal? 

BLACK:  Well, it just means that you can never run for the Senate now Tucker, having gone to that party.  But Harold Ford has an 88 percent liberal Democratic support rating in the House.  That‘s much more liberal than a lot of the people that you like. 

But, let me say one other thing, this whole point about this ad is that Ford‘s personal habits, flying around on jets, going to parties, spending a lot his campaign money on expensive hotels, don‘t fit the lifestyle of the Tennessean.  Bob Corker is much closer to that.  And that‘s why he has pulled ahead in the polls.  

CARLSON:  But wait, I mean, the implication—I actually am willing to believe there is nothing racial about this ad, but the implication clearly is that Harold Ford is a womanizer, and I guess, who‘s business is that?    

BLACK:  Harold Ford is single.  The point is not that he‘s a womanizer.  The point is, if you want a senator who hangs out—

CARLSON:  But it‘s the implication.  You‘ve got some chick saying call me.  You know, that is the point. 

BLACK:  Well listen, I will leave it up to the people of Tennessee, whether they want a senator who hangs out at Playboy parties.  The majority of them don‘t.  That‘s the whole point of the ad.   

CARLSON:  OK, what about Rick Santorum, somebody who does absolutely not hang around Playboy parties.  I am not sure I understand it, and I like Rick Santorum, I am sure that I will get booed behind me, but I think Rick Santorum is a man of principle and very smart, superior to the average senator by a lot.  And he is getting killed, and I am not exactly sure I understand why.  Why do you think that he is losing? 

BLACK:  Well, listen, first of all, Rick is not getting killed.  Rick is behind, but Rick has advanced in the polls over the last few days.  The latest public poll out is, you know, fresher than your MSNBC poll, has Santorum seven down.  I know of a private poll or two that have it, not only less than that, but that Rick is closing. 

The N.R.A. endorsed Rick Santorum today.  Pennsylvania has more hunters than any state in the nation, so that is very significant.  And even the Democrats in Pennsylvania will tell you, Rick‘s sophisticated, enthused turnout operation is going to be worth three or four points to him on election day. 

This race is a dead heat.  Rick Santorum is far from gone.  He has never been ahead in any of his races until the last few days of the race, and he has never lost. 

CARLSON:  Very quickly Charlie, sum up for me New Jersey.  Republicans trying to tarnish the incumbent with the, you know, with the stain of corruption.  I think it‘s probably a fair charge.  Is Kean going to pull it out, the Republican in the end going to pull it out in New Jersey?

BLACK:  I think Kean has a great shot to pull it out.  Bob Menendez has not been able to open a lead on Tom Kean, even though he has out spent him for the last several weeks. 

Now, over the last two weeks, Kean has money.  He saved his money, will be equal in spending, and I believe the voters in New Jersey are going to go for Tom Kean Jr. over the smell of corruption that surrounds Bob Menendez.   

CARLSON:  All right.  Charlie Black from Washington.  Thanks a lot Charlie.  I appreciate it. 

BLACK:  Thank you Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Reverend Al Sharpton on the state of the Democratic party, and whether Barack Obama will run for president.  All that when we come back. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back to our special daylong coverage of “Decision 2006.”  We are live from the University of Virginia here in Charlottesville.

If all goes well, according to plan, Democrats will be throwing one hell of a congressional victory party two weeks from tonight.  But then what?  Do they even remember what it‘s like to be the party in power?  And will their biggest star, Barack Obama, run for president two years from now?


CARLSON:  Joining me now from New York City to talk about all of that, and more, the Reverend Al Sharpton, a former presidential candidate himself. 

Rev, welcome.

You know, it‘s—it‘s pointless even to ask you whether you have views on this—this spot, the Republican Party commercial being used against Harold Ford in the Tennessee race, because—because I know that you do.  There it is.  We have got it up on the screen. 

But I—I want—I want—I want to read you the text of a Republican ad also running against Harold Ford, which I think puts this—this ad that we‘re looking at into context. 

It says—quote—“What kind of man parties with Playboy playmates in lingerie, and then films political ads from church pews?”

The point they are making is, the guy is a hypocrite.  I‘m not saying it‘s a fair point, but it‘s not a racist point. 

AL SHARPTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  First of all, I think that there is a blatant and obvious racial connotation to the ad.

They could have used Playboy bunnies that were not white.  I mean, clearly, Tucker, there are not only white Playboy bunnies.  They‘re playing the race card.

CARLSON:  Wait.  So, wait, wait, wait.  Are you saying it‘s wrong for

it‘s wrong for Harold Ford to be seen dating white women? 

SHARPTON:  No.  What I‘m saying...

CARLSON:  I don‘t—I guess I don‘t understand.

SHARPTON:  I‘m—on, you asked me about the ad.  I am saying that I disagree...

CARLSON:  Right. 

SHARPTON:  ... with you that it‘s not racial, because I think they are playing on the fact that they purposely selected a white Playboy bunny.

They‘re playing on fears of people, hoping that those fears are still there in the Deep South.  And I think that they are really, in many ways, eradicating a lot of the reaching out that they have tried to do to the African-American community. 

For the last couple of years, the Republican national chairman and the president has been saying to blacks:  Come to our party.  Come and hear our...

CARLSON:  Right. 

SHARPTON:  ... ideas.

I think this ad damages that appeal.  I think it damages the sincerity, since it is sponsored by the party itself.  And I think that it will turn back their attempts to show that they have a sincere outreach.  Harold Ford has been very conservative, to many of us.

CARLSON:  So, you‘re saying—wait.  Hold on.  Just so I understand -

Rev, wait.  Just so I understand this correctly, you are saying that, if this ad, in its current form, had contained, rather than a white woman saying this, a black woman saying this, it would have been OK? 

SHARPTON:  No.  I‘m...

CARLSON:  It would not have been racist?

SHARPTON:  No, I‘m not—I am not saying it would have been OK, because I think that it is certainly raising issues that‘s immaterial. 

I think that they should be debating the issues, debating the platforms, and debating who would be the best representative in the Senate, not going into people‘s...

CARLSON:  Oh, I tend to agree with you there.

SHARPTON:  Not into exaggerating people‘s personal lives. 

But I don‘t think the intention of this ad...

CARLSON:  Yes.  And I...

SHARPTON:  ... has anything to do with his personal life. 

I think it is to try and play a very old, and I feel outdated, Southern fear among some that has...


SHARPTON:  ... very serious racial overtones. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s totally ludicrous.  But what do you think about—but I agree with you.  Who cares who he dates, and who cares if he dates?  I agree with you, the ad—that point in the ad is stupid.

SHARPTON:  Obviously, the Republican Party does. 

CARLSON:  But what do you think about—but what do you think—no, well, clearly, you do. 

But what do you think about him shooting a political ad in a church pew?  I think it‘s a little over the top, don‘t you think?  It implies that the church is behind him.  And that‘s wrong, isn‘t it? 


I think that, if Harold Ford, who grew up in the church—Tennessee is the national headquarters of the Churches of God in Christ.  Members of his family was part of that.  I think that he had every right to do an ad showing that he is a person of faith.

Can you imagine, you, a conservative, a card-carrying conservative, objecting to a person in faith in politics?  I mean, is this Tucker Carlson? 


CARLSON:  Actually, I don‘t like it when people campaign in churches, left, right, or center.  Actually, I think it pollutes churches.  And it bothers me.  Always has.


SHARPTON:  I think that—I think that that was perfectly all right.

And it doesn‘t say anything about his personal life.  This is really not even about his personal life.  This is about using the lowest of desperate attempts...

CARLSON:  No, that‘s so—that‘s so...

SHARPTON:  ... in my judgment, to use symbolism in a racial way. 

CARLSON:  No.  Actually, it‘s a gift to Democrats, so they can bloviate on and pretend it‘s still 1963, and, you know, this is Bull Connor going after them again.  But it‘s—it‘s all overblown.

What do you think—Barack Obama.  Barack Obama is, I think, going to run for president.


CARLSON:  I think it‘s a wise—just for whatever it‘s worth, I think it‘s—it‘s probably smart of him to run. 

Bob Herbert, someone we read in “The New York Times,” big liberal, wrote this piece the other day saying that Barack Obama should not run, he will be creamed if he runs, and that only Republicans really want him to run. 

What is your take? 

SHARPTON:  Well, again, I think that ‘06 comes before ‘08. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SHARPTON:  I mean, every time I do your show, you ask me, is Hillary running?  Am I running?  Now, is Barack Obama running? 

CARLSON:  That‘s because I know that you are at the very center...

SHARPTON:  I think that we will talk about that...

CARLSON:  You‘re at the very nexus of Democratic politics.  And you know the answer.

SHARPTON:  We will talk about that on...


SHARPTON:  ... after November 7. 

I think that what...


SHARPTON:  ... the debate will be is not who the pilot will be, but what the destination of the airplane we are going to get on will be. 

And I think, once we decide where we are going, and are we going to stop the war, are we going to deal with health care, are we going to deal with an urban policy that will create jobs, are we going to deal with the fact that the public education system has been ruined by the Republicans, for their—their control the last several years, when we get our direction straight, then, we will choose who is best suited to bring us in that direction. 

CARLSON:  I—I wonder if Democrats have not sort of oversold their impending victory.  I mean, right now, it looks like things could not be worse for Republicans, right?  Basically, I could run my elderly, blind cocker spaniel as a Democrat, and she would win.


CARLSON:  So, if Democrats don‘t win the Senate—and I‘m not going to do that, but I could—but, if Democrats don‘t win the Senate two weeks from today, how lame will they be? 

SHARPTON:  Well, again, I think a lot of the spending and the selling has not come from Democrats, but have come from the media.  I think that the Democrats must work hard.

Certainly, the Democrats that I have supported, from Connecticut to New Mexico, to New Jersey, to Florida, wherever I have been, I take nothing for granted.  And I think that it is foolish for anyone in politics to take anything for granted, and to let...

CARLSON:  Well, you...

SHARPTON:  ... you guys seduce us into not doing hard work and hard organizing.


CARLSON:  Speaking of Connecticut, you are supporting Ned Lamont against Joe Lieberman.  It looks like Lamont is going to lose pretty badly. 

Joe Lieberman is an independent.  You all on the left of the Democratic Party tried to kill him.  But he—he is rising from the dead, and he is not going away.  He is still going to be in the Senate. 

SHARPTON:  Well, we will see.  I...

CARLSON:  How embarrassed will you be when he is still there? 

SHARPTON:  Well, I think, first of all, he—we have two weeks. 

I think that Joe Lieberman is not an independent.  I think he is a Republican, which is why the Republicans are helping him. 


SHARPTON:  And I think that Joe Lieberman is wrong on the war.  I think Joe Lieberman has been wrong on other issues. 

He is a nice guy.  And, if I was him—you know, it‘s funny.  You just asked me, the last question, whether the Democrats are too cocky.  Now you are too cocky on Joe Lieberman.


SHARPTON:  I mean, you are very talented at playing both sides of your own logic. 

CARLSON:  Actually, honestly, I am not a Joe Lieberman supporter.  I don‘t agree with Joe Lieberman on the war at all.  I think it‘s fair of him to go down in defeat.  He supported the war far beyond when he should have supported the war.  I am not supporting Joe Lieberman at all, and never have. 

I just think it‘s funny...

SHARPTON:  I hope the people in Connecticut are listening.

CARLSON:  ... that the Democratic left got behind Ned...


CARLSON:  Luckily, I don‘t live in Connecticut anymore. 

Al Sharpton, I hope we will see you again multiple times before Election Day.  Thanks a lot.

SHARPTON:  Thank you. 


CARLSON:  They are behind you, here. 

Well, there are tight races right now in several states with large concentrations of Latino voters.  That means millions of immigrants in this country could hold a lot of way in the upcoming elections.

Carlos Botifoll of our Spanish-language sister network Telemundo is in Los Angeles for us today—Carlos. 


One analyst is predicting that up to six million Hispanics may cast votes on November 7.  The number of Hispanics registered to vote has increased 27 percent in Pennsylvania, six percent in Florida, six percent in New Jersey.  Their vote could impact the results in certain districts of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada. 

You know, candidates from both major political parties have been courting Latino voters like never before.  Some say the Latino electorate is a giant, a sleeping giant, that has finally awoken. 

Well, I guess we will see about that in two weeks.  And, for them, the big issues seem to the case of the two I‘s: immigration, and Iraq—


CARLSON:  Carlos, you get the feeling, listening to politicians, particularly on the left, but also on the right, also Republicans, that all Latino voters are for illegal immigration, that there is kind of a consensus among Latino voters. 

Is that true? 

BOTIFOLL:  No, it isn‘t. 

But, then again, I do think that Latinos, the majority of Latinos do react when they perceive there is a growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, as they perceive it now.  But, definitely, no, there is—there are differences, without a doubt. 

CARLSON:  Carlos Botifoll in Los Angeles for us.

BOTIFOLL:  And, you know, immigration is not the only issue. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  No, it‘s—it‘s not. 

Carlos, I appreciate you...


BOTIFOLL:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I‘m—I‘m sorry.  I think we are having an audio issue. 

But, Carlos, I want to thank you for joining us from L.A.  Thanks.

Well, the man who will be forced to deal with the immigration issue, perhaps more than anyone else, is cruising to a second term, easily.  Just three years ago, his candidacy looked like a political stunt, but is the governator now changing the politics of California? 

And he‘s the most colorful gubernatorial candidate in the country, but does he have a real shot at becoming the next governor of Texas?  Some of us are praying for it.  Kinky Friedman is here to tell us about his chances. 


CARLSON:  Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is steamrolling his way to a second term.  What does that tell us about the state of California and politics there? 

Plus, the great Kinky Friedman is here to talk about his improbable run to become governor of Texas.

We‘re back in 60 seconds.


CARLSON:  Welcome back to our special coverage of “Decision 2006.”  We are live today from the University of Virginia here in Charlottesville.


CARLSON:  That...


CARLSON:  That always gets a response.

Well, with all the attention focused on the House and Senate elections, some very important governor‘s races have been overlooked, as they always are.  Which states matter?  And will be there any major changes taking place in two weeks? 

With us now with his prediction is Larry Sabato.  He is the director of the Center For Politics here at UVA, and possibly the most famous man in this part of Virginia.

Larry—and a very handsome man, too—great-looking tie. 


CARLSON:  Great to see you.


Thank you so much. 


SABATO:  I appreciate that.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  So—so, first up, California, an—an increasingly liberal state—I am from there, and I‘m just amazed, every time I go home, how much more liberal it is every cycle—the Republican governor is about to be reelected, pretty overwhelmingly.  How did that happen?

SABATO:  It happened because people rejected Gray Davis. 


SABATO:  And he will be in for seven years total, three of Gray Davis‘ term, first term—or second term—and four years in the second term that Schwarzenegger will get.  And he will be succeeded, probably, by a Democrat. 

That‘s an automatic Democratic state.  It‘s an automatic 50-plus electoral votes for Democrats in any presidential election.  So, that‘s about as Democratic as a state gets. 

CARLSON:  So, how is—I mean, just—can you sum it up for people who don‘t follow it?  How did he do it?  How did a Republican win in a Democratic state?

SABATO:  Well, I mean, it‘s Arnold, first of all.

CARLSON:  Right. 

SABATO:  But—and you don‘t come across an Arnold every day.

But, basically, it was a rejection of Gray Davis.

CARLSON:  Right. 

SABATO:  And now the Democrats nominated, frankly, a real ringer.


SABATO:  And there is no way that Angelides can beat Schwarzenegger. 

So, it‘s over.

CARLSON:  Phil Angelides, yes.

SABATO:  I mean, it‘s—it‘s the old A vs. B.  And you may not like A, but you dislike B more.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

SABATO:  So you elect A. 

CARLSON:  You got only—you got only two choices.

I heard you saying the other day that Ohio was going to be kind of a pivotal state, not just for this cycle, but for more to come.  What do you mean?

SABATO:  Well, the biggest race in Ohio receives almost no attention, which is the race for governor, because the governor of Ohio can deliver a percent or two to the next Democratic presidential candidate.


SABATO:  And a Democrat is taking over there, after 16 years of Republican control. 

Congressman Ted Strickland is going to win in a landslide against Ken Blackwell, the Republican, partly because the incumbent Republican governor is—has had some ethical problems...

CARLSON:  I would say.

SABATO:  ... and partly because it‘s just that time in the cycle. 

You always get to the point where you switch from one party to another.  And, after 16 years, I think it‘s time. 

CARLSON:  So, you think Ohio, which is always a pivotal state in every presidential election, will be closer to the Democratic side in 2008 because of this.

What about Colorado?

SABATO:  Colorado is switching to the Democrats. 

Look, Democrats have got 22 governorships. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SABATO:  They are going to win an additional four to six net.  They are going to get a majority of the governorships.  They are going to between 26 and 28.  They are picking up New York, at long last.  They are picking up Massachusetts, at long last, Ohio.

CARLSON:  They are picking up Massachusetts?

SABATO:  Massachusetts is a done deal.

CARLSON:  Deval Patrick, a former Clinton administration Justice Department guy.

SABATO:  Deval Patrick will be the next governor of Massachusetts. 

Bill Ritter will be the next governor of Colorado.  Governor—Mike Beebe will be the next governor of Arkansas.  They are really doing well in gubernatorial contests.  And that is going to matter for 2008 more than the congressional elections, which receive all the attention. 

CARLSON:  Why is that?  Why does it matter who the governor is in a presidential election?

SABATO:  Because the governor has a large group of people that he or she can command, thousands of state employees, who are not supposed to work politically, but, in fact, do.  And they take a cue from the governor.  If the governor is a Democrat, they are going to out—be out there working for the Democratic candidate. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

SABATO:  They‘re going to work for the Democrat.

CARLSON:  Now, George Pataki, you said, governor of New York, really been governor of New York, I think, since the dinosaurs roamed the land—feels like it anyway—is about to lose to Eliot Spitzer, kind of a...

SABATO:  Well, he is not running again, but—but...

CARLSON:  Right.  Wait.  No, that‘s—I‘m sorry.  That‘s right. 

SABATO:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  He is not running again.  But he will be replaced, rather, by...

SABATO:  Replaced by Spitzer.

CARLSON:  ... a Democrat, Spitzer, who is the attorney general now.

What effect is that going to have?  Is—is Spitzer that much more liberal than Pataki was?  Pataki was a pretty liberal Democrat—

Republican, rather.

SABATO:  Yes.  He is somewhat liberal, but I think Spitzer is really liberal.  He is going to be one of the most liberal governors in the country.  And he‘s going to get 70-plus percent of the vote.

In fact, he‘s going to do so well—and Hillary Clinton is going to get 60 percent or so—that, down ballot, you are going to lose two or three Republican congressmen, incumbents, just from New York.  That helps Democrats to take over the House. 

CARLSON:  What happened?  I mean, this is obviously a pretty complicated question for another time.

But there used to be a Republican Party in New York that was still breathing.  What happened? 

SABATO:  They have gone too far to the right in New York. 

New York is a liberal Democratic state.  In order for Republicans to compete, they have to nominate people like Rudy Giuliani or even Governor Pataki, who is...

CARLSON:  Right. 

SABATO:  ... a moderate liberal Republican.,  But they have gone too far to the right. 

And, you know, just before people think we‘re only talking about Democrats winning, the important point is, 2006 is a Democratic year.                   Republicans had 2000, 2002...

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

SABATO:  ... 2004.  There‘s a cycle to everything in life, including politics.  And it‘s the Democrats‘ turn.  The Republicans may be back in 2008. 

CARLSON:  Kind of Ecclesiastes.

SABATO:  It‘s—it‘s very religious.

CARLSON:  Yes.  Yes.  Exactly. 

SABATO:  It is.  It‘s a religious experience. 

CARLSON:  Larry Sabato, thank you very much.

SABATO:  Thank you, Tucker.  Appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

Well, get up to speed on all the races on our Web site.  Tune in any time to that.  The address is politics.MSNBC.com.  You will find everything you need to get yourself ready, as we count down to Election Day, two weeks from right now. 

Kinky Friedman is a funny guy, but a lot of people are taking him seriously in Texas.  Will the cigar-chomping Jewish cowboy make a last-minute run to the governor‘s mansion?  He is here with us.  And what a great guy he is.  I will admit it.  I‘m a Kinky Friedman fan. 

We will talk to him in mere moments. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back to our coverage of “Decision 2006.”  We are live, as we have told you, on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. 


CARLSON:  Well, there aren‘t many things my next guest is not.  Kinky Friedman is a tremendous writer.  Those of you who read him know that.  He is a singer.  He is one of the biggest overall characters in all of American politics. 

The self-described Jewish cowboy is running an independent campaign to

become the next governor of Texas.  One of his primary goals, he says, is -

quote—“the de-wussification of Texas,” a worthy goal, needless to say.

Kinky Friedman joins me now from Houston.

Kinky, I just endorsed you on the air.  I‘m—I‘m not ashamed to do that. 


CARLSON:  But, now that I have...


CARLSON:  ... well, what‘s—what‘s the state of your campaign right now?

FRIEDMAN:  What‘s the status of it? 



FRIEDMAN:  Tucker, the early voting has started, and it‘s 60 percent higher than it was last time, which means that Texans are sharpening their pitchforks, and they‘re really voting. 

And let me tell you, the young people are voting, too.  And—and we tell them, you know, if you are old enough to fight in Iraq, you‘re old enough to help us fix Texas.  And you might as well be able to have a beer before you go over there and get shot at, you know?

CARLSON:  So, you will lower the drinking age, if you‘re elected? 

FRIEDMAN:  Absolutely.  I—I think young people...


FRIEDMAN:  Young people should run this state.  They should run the state.  We‘re decriminalizing marijuana.  That‘s what we want to do.  That‘s important, too. 

Let the young—get the old farts off these boards of regents.  You know, put young people on.  Fill them with young people.  Then the tuition will drop.

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second.  I mean, that‘s a good—I mean, that may be a good idea, lower tuition, you know...


CARLSON:  ... free pot for everybody.  But the truth is...

FRIEDMAN:  No, that‘s...

CARLSON:  ... as you know—well, not free, but, I mean...

FRIEDMAN:  We don‘t want free pot for anybody.  Don‘t say—that‘s legalizing marijuana. 


FRIEDMAN:  We‘re decriminalizing it. 


CARLSON:  Decriminalize, OK.

FRIEDMAN:  There‘s a difference. 

CARLSON:  But, look, young people talk about voting.  They can get passionate about campaigns.  Many of them volunteer for campaigns.  But you look at the numbers—and we have the numbers—they actually don‘t vote all that much.  Do you think...

FRIEDMAN:  Well...

CARLSON:  ... in this race, that will change? 

FRIEDMAN:  It will change. 

Jesse Ventura was down here.  I know he is one of your heroes, Tucker. 


FRIEDMAN:  But Jesse looks like a pirate these days. 

But Jesse was telling the kids, if you don‘t vote, don‘t bitch.  And -

and something happened while we were touring these colleges.  The kids now—you know, on MySpace—today, in “The New York Times,” we have 33,000 MySpace friends, and Barack Obama is in second place, with 12,000.  And Hillary, I think, is at 11th

These kids are going to vote.  And it‘s going to turn things over in Texas once and for all.  I guarantee you that.  It‘s...

CARLSON:  But didn‘t you think, if—if they actually did vote...


CARLSON:  ... and you actually did win...


CARLSON:  ... I mean, you have would have a heart attack.  Wouldn‘t you be terrified, if you actually woke up and were governor of the state of Texas? 


FRIEDMAN:  Listen, come on.  It‘s like the judge of a big chili cook-off.  It‘s fun.  Let‘s put a little fun back into politics. 


FRIEDMAN:  And it‘s either going to be me or Robin Williams that is going to win here.  And you can call it a protest vote, if you want, but just remember, that—that middle-finger vote, you know, that protest vote, is what sparked the American Revolution and what built this country.  It created this country.  So...

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  But after—I mean, but the critique of George W. Bush is, he wasn‘t prepared for the office.  We were precipitous in electing him.  And, gee, maybe we were reckless in making him president, and, in fact, in invading Iraq.

Don‘t you think Americans are more small-C conservative than they have ever been, and more—more hesitant to go with something they—they haven‘t seen tested, i.e., you?

FRIEDMAN:  Well, George is a good man trapped in a Republican‘s body, basically.  That‘s what I have always said about George. 

And—and my lack of experience is great.  I have told you, I‘m 61 years old.  I‘m too young for Medicare and too old for women to care.  And I will tell you right now, I care about Texas. 


FRIEDMAN:  I don‘t like the Crips.  I don‘t like the Bloods.  I love Texas. 

And that‘s exactly what we need, because the train of Texas is in the ditch right now, because of all these wonderful experienced politicians.  They‘re the ones who put it there, not the musicians, you know?  Musicians can run this state better than politicians. 

CARLSON:  Well, I—I...

FRIEDMAN:  We just won‘t—you know, we won‘t get that much done in the mornings, but we will work late, and we will be honest.  


CARLSON:  It will be a nocturnal administration. 

I have endorsed you because you are—you‘re one of the best writer -

you‘re probably the best writer ever to seek political office, and you love animals.  You love dogs...

FRIEDMAN:  That‘s right. 


CARLSON:  ... and probably, I think, all animals.  And that‘s—that‘s good enough for me. 

But I want to know, who else has endorsed you?  Who are your supporters? 

FRIEDMAN:  Well, there‘s the people of Texas.  I mean, the politicians, I hope, don‘t support me. 

You know my definition of politics.  Poly is more than one, and ticks are blood-sucking parasites.  I don‘t want any politicians endorsing me. 


FRIEDMAN:  I want them out of politics. 

CARLSON:  Well, what...

FRIEDMAN:  Get the people back in. 

CARLSON:  Have—have any of your fellow musicians, guys you toured with years ago...

FRIEDMAN:  Yes, sure.

CARLSON:  ... come out to endorse you?  Who?

FRIEDMAN:  Of course they have. 

Jimmy Buffett was down here.  We did a big—a big concert for us.  That was terrific.  Willie Nelson, of course, is going to be my energy chief. 

CARLSON:  Did—did Willie sell you on the decriminalization thing?



FRIEDMAN:  Willie sold me on biodiesel and renewal fuels.  He is going be to the...


FRIEDMAN:  ... the energy czar for the new Texas energy commission.


FRIEDMAN:  And we‘re going to lead this country in something.  It‘s going to be renewable fuels. 

And Lyle Lovett is doing a—a fund-raiser for us tomorrow night here in Houston.  So, yes, the musicians are really—they‘re all helping out. 

Billy Joe Shaver is my...

CARLSON:  Willie Nelson.

FRIEDMAN:  Yes.  Billy Joe Shaver is my personal—what is he? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Spiritual adviser.

FRIEDMAN:  Spiritual adviser.  That‘s right. 

Thank you, Jihad (ph).

He is my...



FRIEDMAN:  He‘s my personal adviser.  He says, if you don‘t love Jesus, go to hell. 

CARLSON:  If—if you win, it will just be—it will be a reality show in the guise of an administration.  I really hope it happens. 

Kinky Friedman, good luck.  Godspeed.  Talk to you after you win. 


FRIEDMAN:  Peace.  God bless you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  And thank you. 

Thanks, Kinky.

Thanks for watching. 

We will see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. 

Thanks for joining us.  We have had a good time.  Hope you did. 

Stay tuned now for more.  “Decision 2006: Battleground America” continues with Chris Matthews.  Here he is.



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