updated 11/1/2006 1:20:07 PM ET 2006-11-01T18:20:07

Guests: John Mica, Charlie Cook, A.B. Stoddard, Frank Donatelli, Al Sharpton, Eric Cantor

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.

MSNBC‘s nonstop coverage of “Decision 2006 Battleground America” takes us today to Washington‘s Billy Goat Tavern.

Democrats have been worrying for weeks about an October surprise that could throw a wrench into plans for midterm victory parades.  It looks like they may have one, courtesy of John Kerry. 

Yesterday, Senator Kerry, who is not even running for anything, drew all the wrong kind of attention when he said this at a rally for gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides in California. 

Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  If you make the most of it, and you study hard, and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you—you can do well.  If you don‘t, you get stuck in Iraq. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The White House lost no time in attacking Kerry for what it called a slur against the U.S. military.  Earlier today, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said, “Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who‘ve given their lives in this.  This is an absolute insult.  And I‘m a little astonished that he didn‘t figure it out already.”

But it didn‘t end there.  Here is Senator Kerry at a news conference just a little while ago responding. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  This is dishonoring not just the troops themselves by pointing the finger at the troops, it‘s abusing the troops.  They are using the troops.  They are trying to make the troops into the target here. 

I didn‘t do that, and they know that.  And for them to suggest that somebody who served their country as I did and has a record like I have in the United States Congress of standing up and fighting for the troops would ever, ever insult the troops is an insult in and of itself, and they owe us an apology. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So will the Kerry contretemps slow the Democrats‘ momentum in the midterm elections? 

Here to talk about that, Congressman John Mica, Republican of Florida.

Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on.

REP. JOHN MICA ®, FLORIDA:  Good to be with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How do you—what do you make of this? 

MICA:  Well, I think John Kerry did himself in and did a disservice to our servicemen and women.  I was really disappointed, quite frankly. 

CARLSON:  His explanation is this was an attack on George W. Bush.  He left out two words.  He meant to say, if you don‘t get a good education, you might do something as foolish as send our troops to Iraq.  You don‘t buy that? 

MICA:  Attack on Bush?  I don‘t buy that.  That was an attack on our troops. 

And quite frankly, I‘m getting a little bit tired about people being more concerned about the condition of enemy combatants and terrorists than the welfare of our troops.  The education of our troops, I‘ll tell you, has never been better.  We have the best qualified military we have ever had, and what he said is really an insult to those in service. 

CARLSON:  You think John Kerry is more concerned about, as you put it, the welfare of terrorists than the welfare of our troops? 

MICA:  Well, again, why he would make those comments to try to degrade the educational standards for our troops—this is the best educated military we have ever had.  We have reservists who have professional degrees, masters and others, serving and re-serving in both Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.  The best educated people we have ever had. 

CARLSON:  In point of fact, President Bush—and I think this war is a mistake, but he does have degrees from Yale and Harvard, so he is hardly poorly educated. 

Now, what do you think, though, as an issue about Iraq?  I mean, is there any way that it cuts for the Republicans?  Or does it just hurt them? 

MICA:  Well, I have been in many districts.  I chair aviation, been around the country.  And actually, I think people are waking up to the dangerous world we still live in. 

It‘s just a few weeks ago we had terrorists who wanted to blow 10 aircraft with Americans on it out of the sky, and their plot was foiled.  I think people are aware that this is still a very dangerous neighborhood that we live in and a different kind of war. 

This isn‘t Vietnam.  This isn‘t Korea.  This isn‘t World War II.  This is terrorists without a country who want to do us in, and people are very much aware of that out there. 

CARLSON:  You saw the president yesterday, I believe, talking about the New Jersey court decision on gay marriage.  Is gay marriage going to work as an issue for Republicans again in this cycle? 

MICA:  Well, I think people are concerned about—about marriage.  Again, if you go beyond Washington, D.C.—and it‘s a beautiful day here in Washington, D.C.—but it‘s quite different out there.  I think people want to reserve the sanctity of a marriage between a man and a woman. 

CARLSON:  There are a lot of fiscal conservatives—and I‘m among them—who feel not just let down, but abandoned, but even mocked by the Republican Congress, which has spent a lot of money, honestly.  If the Republicans lose next week, will there be soul-searching, do you think? 

MICA:  Well, see, I think that that‘s a misstatement because, first of all, in the last year, discretionary spending is the only area where we have a lot of discretion today.  We have got Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.  It consumes about 70 percent of our budget. 

Homeland and national defense, national security, consume the only area where we have had an increase.  We have actually kept discretionary spending...

CARLSON:  But wait a second.

MICA:  ... at a reduced level the first time since Ronald Reagan, so that message hasn‘t gotten out there. 

CARLSON:  But we still spend more than we take in.  The government owes a lot of money. 

MICA:  Well, there‘s—there‘s two ways you balance the budget.  You increase revenues.

Last year we had $100 billion more than projected.  This year we have $150 billion more.  So that revenue is coming up, the deficit is going down, and spending is also being...

CARLSON:  Boy, that is—that is a tough case to make. 

MICA:  Well, it‘s the message that‘s not getting out there. 

CARLSON:  Boy, it certainly isn‘t.

MICA:  And it‘s the Bush plan, and it‘s working.  The economy is good, jobs are up, the stock market is up.  We‘re doing a much better job than we‘re given credit for. 

CARLSON:  Is it over for Hastert no matter what happens? 

MICA:  I don‘t believe so.  I think Denny would...

CARLSON:  You‘ll support him? 

MICA:  Right now he‘s my man. 

CARLSON:  Congressman John Mica of Florida, thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

MICA:  Good to be with you, Tucker.  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

Now we turn to the countdown to the midterm elections.  With just a week to go, 33 seats are up for grabs in the U.S. Senate.  The Democrats need six of those to take control.  All 435 seats are in the House are in play.  Democrats need to pick up 15 to gain control for the first time in 12 years.

Will this election change the balance of power here in Washington and across the country?  If anyone knows, it is our guest. 

“The Washington Post” calls him the “Prophet of the Potomac”.  The rest of us who cover campaigns for a living agree.  We worship at his altar. 

He is Charlie Cook.  He‘s the  publisher of the “Cook Political Report”. 

He joins us from Burbank. 

Charlie, welcome. 

CHARLIE COOK, “COOK POLITICAL REPORT”:  You flatter me, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I meant to flater you.  When you hear Karl Rove and the president and a few others, the vice president, suggest that Republicans will hold onto both houses of Congress, what do you think? 

COOK:  I think these are very smart people, and I think they can look at polls—nationally, they can look at polls in individual districts.  They know how they have problems. 

The last thing the White House wants, the Republican leadership wants, is for there to be a panic, a stampede, because that—that would just guarantee that it would be a disaster.  So, you know, it‘s like a game face. 

I mean, you‘re going into the fourth quarter, you‘ve got a timeout.  You know, does the coach tell you, “Hey, look, we‘re about to get our clock cleaned, guys, but go out have a good time”?  No. 

You go out and you say, hey, look, we can still do this.

CARLSON:  Right.

COOK:  We can still get our folks out, we can still win.  So I think it‘s more a game face.  And frankly, if I were in their position, I would do the same thing. 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t—you don‘t seem to take it very seriously as a prediction? 

COOK:  No, because, I mean, you know, when you talk to the—you know, the most experienced political operatives in the Republican Party, people have been doing House and Senate governors‘ races for 15, 20 years.  You know, they are bracing themselves. 

Is it going to be bad?  Is it going to be really bad?  Or is it going to be horrible?  And those are sort of the three. 

I mean, the fact it‘s going to be like, OK, no, that‘s not a realistic option unless something pretty dramatic happens.  You k now, North Korea or something like that. 

CARLSON:  Do these Kerry remarks—are they likely to have any effect at all? 

COOK:  You know, I don‘t know what Kerry meant.  Was it—was it an insult to the troops, was it a poorly-worded joke, was it elitist, was it a commentary on, you know, the kids?  The sons and daughters of the rich, the privileged, the powerful are not going into the military, unlike Vietnam? 

I don‘t know what he meant, but frankly I don‘t think that there is anything that John Kerry could say or do that could positively or negatively significantly affect this election, because frankly I don‘t think he‘s terribly relevant to this election.  But, you know...

CARLSON:  Right.

COOK:  ... if I were a Republican, I would jump on this because they have got to change the dynamic of this election.  And if I were a Democrat, I would be pretty ticked off at Kerry for throwing the party off message, even if just for half a day. 

CARLSON:  Former presidential candidates tend to do that. 

Let‘s go through some races pretty quick for our viewers who may be wanting to place bets in Vegas on these.

Rick Santorum, anything he can do? 

COOK:  I think—no.  You want to be quick.

CARLSON:  OK.  No.  Yes—no, OK.

That‘s a shame.  Nice guy he is. 

Harold Ford in Tennessee, Mr. Corker, what do you think of that race? 

COOK:  Well, about three weeks off, Ford was ahead.  Then two weeks ago, a week and a half ago, Corker was ahead. 

We‘re seeing private polling showing each one ahead by two, three, four, five points.  This is a really, really close race.  I don‘t—it‘s going to go down to the wire. 

CARLSON:  What about—what about Virginia, Webb-Allen? 

COOK:  I‘m not sure what to think.  I have thought for a while, look, Allen is going to win, he‘s hanging on.  It‘s not going to be big, it‘s not going to be pretty, but he‘s going to hang on. 

Now we‘re seeing some Independent polling, some Democratic polling showing Allen ahead—I mean, excuse me, showing Webb ahead.  I‘m really kind of surprised because I thought the Tailhook spot would knock him—would knock Webb out. 

I don‘t know.  It‘s obviously very close.  I‘m—I‘m not being judgmental at this point because I thought Allen was—was ahead by a few point, but maybe not.

CARLSON:  You‘ve said from the beginning that if this midterm becomes nationalized, if national issues predominate, then Democrats obviously do better.  Is this essentially a national election?  And if so, is it about Iraq, the economy?  What‘s the dominant theme? 

COOK:  It is a national election.  The question is just sort of how big. 

You know, is this a Category 4, 4.5 or 5 hurricane?  And that‘s important, because if it‘s, you know, one level, it‘s a 20-seat loss, or 25 for Republicans in the House, you know, four seats in the Senate.  But going to the other extreme, is it 30, 35, more than 35 seats in the House?  Is it six seats and turns the Senate over? 

That‘s the difference.  It‘s about 70 percent Iraq and the other 30 percent a combination of, you know, scandals, immigration, stem cell, budgets, Terri Schiavo.

CARLSON:  Yes.

COOK:  You know, all those things sort of together make up the other 30 percent. 

And do Independents show up?  If they turn out normal numbers, then Republicans don‘t get killed, they just have a bad night.  If Independents turn out in higher numbers, then it‘s Armageddon for Republicans. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Armageddon. 

Thanks a lot.  Charlie Cook, I appreciate it. 

COOK:  Take care, Tucker.  See you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, if you think that‘s the last word on the John Kerry controversy, think again.  We have the latest reaction to what‘s shaping up to be the big political story of the day, maybe the week, who knows?  We‘ll see.

And the gloves are off in George Allen‘s campaign, literally.  Smackdown at the Senator‘s campaign event.  It happened today. 

We‘ll have the full story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

We turn now to what may be the nastiest race in the country right now, and that‘s saying a lot.  That‘s the Virginia Senate campaign. 

According to a new poll released today, Democrat Jim Webb has a slight lead over Republican incumbent Senator George Allen.  There is a week to go, of course, until Election Day.  But with the race this close, of course it could go either way. 

Joining me now to talk about where it might go, this and other key races, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill” newspaper. 

A.B., welcome. 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  The latest news out of this race, there was a kind of physical contretemps today on the campaign trail for George Allen. 

And let‘s see if we can put the tape up.

Apparently, a heckler came and accused him of spitting on his ex-wife, and he was dragged away. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you spit on your first wife? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now you‘re getting personal.  Now you‘re getting personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now you‘re getting personal.  I didn‘t touch anybody. 

OK? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You need to move on out of here now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If the hotel asks me to leave, I would leave. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Kind of a metaphor for the entire campaign, isn‘t it? 

So Democrats now are asking—are asking for the divorce records for Allen‘s first marriage? 

STODDARD:  Yes, there‘s—there‘s—there‘s suspicion that there is something—there is going to be something in a sealed document about a scuffle with the law.  It could range from parking tickets, on up to assault and battery.  They are not sure what is there. 

They are on a fishing expedition.  But I think, as I said last week on this very program, all is fair.  I mean, I don‘t think anyone plans to be friends when this is over. 

CARLSON:  No.

STODDARD:  I think the object is victory. 

CARLSON:  They are not going to get a drink together when it‘s over. 

STODDARD:  It‘s not supposed to be nice.

CARLSON:  It does seem like at the very last minute—I was listening to Democrats talk last week, voicing their concerns, their real frustration about Jim Webb as a campaigner.  He‘s horrible, they said.  And they were resigned to defeat. 

Now it seems—the ones I talked to, anyway—this week it seems like—or as of today, he‘s pulling ahead.  Is this real? 

STODDARD:  Yes.  It‘s really amazing. 

When I woke up this morning, I was convinced Allen was going to pull it out, and I said so.  And now I think, you know, there‘s more than one, two, three polls coming out showing a slight Webb advantage. 

Obviously the key is turnout in northern Virginia.  We have no—I mean, we know that Allen is going to turn out his voters, I think, down state.  And I think in northern Virginia that‘s the key to Webb—a Webb victory. 

And we just—we‘re going to have to see how it moves. 

But following the dustup last week, where Allen was criticizing Webb‘s writings, I‘m not really surprised to see this sort of immediate edge for him.  I think that actually shows that...

CARLSON:  I‘m not—I‘m not surprised at all, because I am much more conservative on social issues, anyway, than Jim Webb.  But after that attack, I thought, you know what?  Anybody who would attack that man‘s fiction deserves to lose.  I was infuriated by that. 

STODDARD:  I know you were.  I still think it‘s fair. 

CARLSON:  I was.

STODDARD:  I think...

CARLSON:  Not fair. 

Well, speaking of fair and unfair, it looks like, according to a new poll today, Harold Ford...

STODDARD:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... pulling ahead of his opponent Bob Corker in Tennessee.  Some people are saying this is a reaction against the spot I think falsely denounced as racist, but in any case denounced as racist. 

Do you think that‘s...

STODDARD:  I also didn‘t really think that that ad was necessarily racist.  But I think that it was way below the belt.  And I think that it‘s interesting to see that negative campaigning, you know, the ad makers—it‘s like 5-1 the ratio of money spent on negative versus positive ads at this point. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  Negative campaign—campaigning works—negative ads do work, whether we like them or not.  But it‘s interesting that there is a threshold. 

If you go to negative, you really wake up everybody.  If you spark a huge debate, there is a possibility that there...

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... you know, for Harold Ford it might have produced a backlash. 

What‘s interesting is that the race has been so tight, he could not—if this—if this takes him over the finish line, it‘s because Harold Ford was in a position of strength coming into this.  He had done all the right things.  This couldn‘t have saved him. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

STODDARD:  I mean, it‘s just a bump he might have needed.  But he was in a position...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But he had the greatest line ever.  They accused him of going to a Playboy party at the Super Bowl and he says, “I like women, I like football,” thereby winning the vote of every man in the state of Tennessee.

Finally, Katherine Harris, running for Senate in Florida, she didn‘t get the support of the Republican establishment...

STODDARD:  Of anybody.

CARLSON:  ... because she is considered kind of wacky. 

STODDARD:  Yes.

CARLSON:  An amazing “Washington Post” piece today quotes her former adviser, Ed Rollins (ph), as saying that her campaign is like “being in insanity camp.”

STODDARD:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Another one for—her campaign manager had the theme from “The Exorcist” on his cell phone. 

STODDARD:  Yes, on his cell phone.  That was my favorite detail. 

Katherine Harris, you know, unfortunately, people are questioning her mental health.  And so that makes it kind of sad. 

CARLSON:  I find her charming, I have to say. 

STODDARD:  So do I.  If she was really stable, it would be sort of hilarious. 

But I‘m convinced that Katherine Harris absolutely would win in another district or another statewide race with another candidate in another year.  As bizarre as she seems. 

CARLSON:  And so would I, for that matter. 

A.B. Stoddard, thank you very much. 

STODDARD:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

If only. 

Coming up, John Kerry‘s last-minute October surprise.  Will it derail Democratic hopes in the midterm elections next week? 

And what could be a political resurrection in the making, Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.  Thought to be dead but dead no more.  He may hold on to his Senate seat. 

That story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   

KERRY:  If you make the most of it, and you study hard, and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well.  If you don‘t, you get stuck in Iraq. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It almost makes you nostalgic for the 2004 presidential campaign.  That was John Kerry, of course, speaking at a campaign event for Phil Angelides, who is running for governor in California.  That was yesterday. 

It sparked a controversy that could have some Democrats running for cover in the last week before the midterm election, possibly. 

Joining me now to talk about that, Republican strategist, former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli.

Frank, thanks for coming on.

Obviously this isn‘t great for Democrats.  It doesn‘t appear to be.  Is it good for Republicans, though? 

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s good for Republicans any time you can get John Kerry into the conversation.  He is still very, very unpopular.  And it‘s most important in an off-year election, Tucker. 

The party out of power always has more difficulty energizing their voters.  And so clearly Republicans are looking for any opportunity to get their voters out to the polls.  You couldn‘t do better than mentioning the name John Kerry. 

CARLSON:  No, you really couldn‘t.  So this is sort of a Jane Fonda moment.  This is like reminding Republicans that, you know, you may be dissatisfied with President Bush, but there are these creepy people on the other side that we want to keep from getting into power. 

DONATELLI:  Well, you want to remind your voters that there are stakes in this election. 

CARLSON:  Right.

DONATELLI:  Issues can take you part of the way, but there is nothing better than a personality.  Look at all the Democratic campaign commercials.  They all focus on President Bush.  They‘re very—there is virtually no content beside that. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But then why don‘t—that‘s, I mean, a great point.  But then why aren‘t the Republican spots highlighting, reminding voters what will happen if Democrats take over? 

I mean, Charlie Rangel, whom I like personally—everyone likes him personally, but he is a left-wing guy, and he‘s going to be a committee chairman.  Why haven‘t Republicans run ads pointing that out? 

DONATELLI:  Well, I think they have.  Well, some Republican National Committee ads and some of the campaign ads have done that. 

Remember, though, you‘re talking about something that might happen...

CARLSON:  Right.

DONATELLI:  ... as opposed to—what the Democrats have to say is they have gripes right now that their voters understand. 

CARLSON:  Right.

DONATELLI:  So it‘s a theoretical case versus something that‘s happening right now. 

CARLSON:  But, I mean, it seems to me that the big hurdle for Republicans is getting people who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 to actually motivate and get to the polls this time.  Isn‘t fear the way to do it?  I mean...

DONATELLI:  Well, good old-fashioned fear, there is nothing wrong with fear in politics.  I remember in 1984, Reagan won his big victory.

CARLSON:  Yes.

DONATELLI:  And then 1986, just two years later, Republicans lost the Senate.  And if you looked at all the Democrats who beat incumbent Republican senators, they got about as many votes as Walter Mondale got.  All the drop-off was on the Republican side because Reagan wasn‘t on the ballot and because Republicans weren‘t energized. 

I think Republicans understand that, and that‘s why they are going to such great lengths to turn out Republican voters all over the country. 

CARLSON:  So Karl Rove and, to some extent, the president and vice president, are telling people in public that the Republican turnout operation is so good that Republicans are going to do much, much better than expected. 

Is that true? 

DONATELLI:  I think they will do better than expected, that‘s correct.  You k now, the Republicans have a more centralized voter turnout operation.  It‘s done under the auspices of the Republican Party. 

The Democrats are sort of a hodgepodge.  They farmed out parts of it to the unions...

CARLSON:  Right.

DONATELLI:  ... 527s do part of it.  Howard Dean is feuding with the other two campaign committees.  So their turnout operation is not nearly as centralized, nor as sophisticated as the Republicans. 

CARLSON:  Well, they are disorganized.  I mean, if you ever go to, you know, your kid‘s birthday party and it‘s organized by a liberal mom, everyone‘s late.  You know what I mean?  They‘re just not an organized...

(CROSSTALK)

DONATELLI:  That‘s why...

CARLSON:  No offense or anything, but...

DONATELLI:  That‘s why Democrats are good with the Internet, because there‘s no boundaries.  Anybody can do whatever they want. 

CARLSON:  Very quickly, what‘s your bottom line?  What‘s your honest prediction for the midterms? 

DONATELLI:  I think the Republicans will hold on in the Senate.  I think the House is going to be difficult, primarily because there are so many individual races that have their own quirks, such as the Ney seat, such as the DeLay seat, such as the Foley seat. 

CARLSON:  Right.

DONATELLI:  These were seats that were not thought to be a problem just a few months ago. 

CARLSON:  I know.  It‘s almost—almost act of God seats there.  It‘s bad.

Frank Donatelli, thank you. 

DONATELLI:  OK.  Thank you.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

Still to come, the Reverend Al Sharpton on the Democrats‘ chances with just a week to go until Election Day. 

And the White House praises lifelong Democrat Joe Lieberman, leaving fellow Democrat Ned Lamont steaming mad.  The Connecticut Senate race could be the most confusing in the nation.

We‘ll break it down when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, attack ads gone wild.  If you have been watching the past few days, you know this show is your source for the most effervescent, the most remarkable political ads from across the country.  Today‘s crop is the most astounding yet.   All that in just a minute, but right now here is a look at your headlines. 

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC market wrap.  A downturn in consumer confidence weighing on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down more than 5 points, the S&P 500 up just a penny and the NASDAQ up around three points.  Oil moving upward in late trading ahead of tomorrow‘s inventory report.   Crude ending 37 cents higher at $58.73 a barrel in New York, after dropping below $57 earlier today.  Meantime, gas prices edging up a penny last week to $2.22 a gallon, that‘s the first increase in over three months.  And the U.S. Supreme Court hearing what could become a landmark case involving an $80 million punitive damages award against tobacco giant Philip Morris.  The company arguing $80 million is excessive.  The court could decide whether there should be a limit on the amount of damages a jury can award.  Now back to MSNBC‘s special coverage of decision 2006 with Tucker Carlson live from Washington, D.C. 

CARLSON:  John Kerry appears to belittle American troops.  Did he mean to do it and is that comment really enough to derail the Democrats‘ impending takeover of Congress?  Joining me now from New York City with answers to those questions and many more, the Reverend Al Sharpton.   Rev, thanks for coming on. 

REV. AL SHARPTON, (D) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Tucker. 

How are you?

CARLSON:  I am well, great.  It‘s the week before an election.  Lots of exciting stuff happening.  First and foremost, John Kerry‘s public meltdown.  So the Republicans attacked John Kerry for what appears to be a slur on the U.S. military.  Here‘s how he responds.  Quote, “I‘m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who can never be found to serve in war but love to attack those who did.  I‘m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouth piece standing behind a podium or doughy Rush Limbaugh.”  Is that any way for a sitting U.S. Senator to talk in public, A, and B, is it true that those who didn‘t serve in war have no right to weigh in on war?  That appears to be what Kerry is saying. 

SHARPTON:  I think what he‘s saying is that we keep hearing John Kerry, who is a war hero, a decorated war hero at that, being questioned about his assessment of military men and women by people that were not military men and women.  I don‘t think he‘s saying they don‘t have a right to weigh in on the war, but they don‘t have a right to act as though that he is belittling people that he himself was one of when they were not.  I mean, it‘s absurd. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second, maybe he is belittling them.  Now first of all, who cares if John Kerry is a war hero in this case? We‘re assessing what he said.  He is on tape making a statement and why is it unfair for those of us who didn‘t serve to weigh in on that? Moreover, you didn‘t serve in the military so why do you get to talk about Iraq by that standard? 

SHARPTON:  I think that the fact is that to try and act as though John Kerry disrespects men and women in the service when he in fact was a man in the service and was wounded makes it relevant.   And I am discussing it because you asked me about it.  I‘m not questioning the war hero‘s commitment to people that are in the military.  They are.  And I think he‘s right to say wait a minute, don‘t act like I‘m anti-military, I was military.  You were the one that weren‘t military.  

CARLSON:  Right.  

SHARPTON:  And I think if they want to discuss what he said, fine, but don‘t try to mischaracterize him as one that belittles servicemen when in fact he was a serviceman that was wounded during NAM.  

CARLSON:  I wonder if Democrats need this.  I mean, a week before what could be a really great election for Democrats, here is John Kerry, this kind of you know ghost of elections past popping up and making it about him.  Aren‘t you frustrated as a Democrat? 

CARLSON:  No.  I think—I think that the Republicans are going to try to do that.  I think though that this is going to backfire because I think what has happened is that they are in their zest to try and make this about Kerry, they‘re going to let Kerry remind the American people about the issue that they tried to take off the front burner, and that‘s Iraq.  And the fact of the matter is if I was a Republican strategist, I would be telling Tony Snow don‘t make anything that reminds the people of America about Iraq and about people not being able to understand our Iraqi strategies and lack of being able to keep the promises we made.  They don‘t need this as an issue at all.  I think they are hoping Kerry will be the issue.  The issue is going to be them and Iraq and young people. 

CARLSON:  What do you think of the fact that so many Democrats in this midterm election amazingly are running pretty conservative campaigns on the socialist views? You actually have a number of Democratic candidates, more than a couple, bragging about their NRA endorsements, their national right to life credentials.  You know, anti-abortion, pro gun Democrats.  They are not in any sense progressive.  Does that bother you? 

SHARPTON:  Well, of course if those that are not in line with what I think is best for the country I disagree with.  I‘m not surprised because there has always been that kind of diverse view in both parties, and I have always challenged it in the Democratic Party.  What is more amazing to me is Republicans that have tried to act like they have always been against the war or they have always questioned the president or they have always been for dealing with the faith community.  So I mean if you‘re talking about seeing people that have made stretches, I think that this election cycle has probably been the most stretched on both sides.  The question is what will be the results come next Tuesday, a week from today. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s interesting.  You‘re making the case that the Democratic Party has a bigger tent than ever, and I think you‘re right.  I mean and that‘s great.  But here you have a candidate in Connecticut, an incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman who was basically bounced out of his own party because he didn‘t toe the line on Iraq.  Is that now the issue? You can‘t deviate from the orthodox.   You have to be against the war or you‘re not allowed to be a Democrat? 

SHARPTON:  Well that‘s why I think Tony Snow is playing right into the Democrats‘ hands by making this John Kerry thing an issue, because the best thing that can happen to the Democrats this week is for Iraq to be back on the front burner.   And if John Kerry is smart, he would keep the issue out there of what he said about Iraq and let Tony Snow and Karl Rove and George Bush and others make this an issue, because that is what all the Republicans are running away from.  And thanks be to Tony Snow, he has brought it back front and center, thinking that John Kerry is disliked more than this war and that might be a fatal error. 

CARLSON:  But what about—going back to Joe Lieberman, I mean Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic nomination, partly thanks to you.  You went in there and campaigned for his opponent Ned Lamont who is now the official Democrat, Lieberman running as an independent, and the Democrat is going to lose, Lamont is going to lose.  Lieberman is going to win that seat and Democrats lost a Senate seat, thanks to you.  So, are you happy that you did that or do you feel profound, soul-gnawing regret?

SHARPTON:  First of all, Lamont hasn‘t lost this election yet.  Second of all, we already lost the seat because Joe Lieberman was voting more Republican than he was voting Democrat anyway, so you can‘t lose what you didn‘t have, which is why the Democrats voted against Lieberman. 

CARLSON:  Ok.  Finally, Rev, you said last week I think on this show that that ad that some Republican group ran against Harold Ford in Tennessee was racist, with the white woman saying call me.  We talked to Harold Ford yesterday, a very good guy I have to say, who said that ad was not racist at all.  So if he doesn‘t think its racist, why is it racist? 

SHARPTON:  Well, first of all, Harold Ford is a very gracious, statesmanlike kind of guy. If he wants to take it on the chin, that‘s fine, but that does not mean that there are those of us that are of his race that don‘t have the right to be offended.  You have some blacks that people can use the N word and they say I‘m not insulted.  That doesn‘t mean that I don‘t have the right to say that I am insulted and it was racist.  So I don‘t think that he would say that he speaks for how all of us responded to watching that.  He gave a personal view.  He took the high road.  I think that I looked at what I saw and what I saw to me had very serious racial overtones, and, in fact, members of the Republican Party said that, and the Republican National Committee tried to start doing the Michael Jackson moon walk on it.  So I‘m not the only one that felt it had racial overtones. 

CARLSON:  The Reverend Al Sharpton.  It is always an honor.  Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON:  Thank you sir.

CARLSON:  Joe Lieberman‘s support for the war in Iraq and perceived

ties to President Bush, the famous kiss, cost him the Democratic primary in Connecticut.  But the three-term senator has surged ahead of Ned Lamont as an independent candidate.  For more on Senator Lieberman‘s bid to keep his Senate seat, we turn now to NBC‘s Dawn Fratangelo, she‘s in Westport, Connecticut.  Dawn?

DAWN FRATANGELO, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey Tucker.  Well, Joe Lieberman continues to be a lightning rod for this campaign.  Yesterday President Bush said of him one man who stood by his decision is Joe Lieberman, the decision to support the war.  Today his Democratic challenger Ned Lamont came out and said that it‘s clear that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are out there campaigning for Joe Lieberman.  Another way to try to link the Senator with the White House and the decision to go to war.  Ned Lamont, as you said in your interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton, is trailing Joe Lieberman, and that Iraq war issue was the issue that got Ned Lamont favor with the voters, the Democratic voters.  But right now it doesn‘t seem to be working.  He is trailing by about 17 points behind Joe Lieberman.  But opinion polls in this state show that the Iraq war is the number one issue with voters.

And interestingly, Tucker, moderate Republicans are leaning toward Joe Lieberman, but in other races, congressional races, very tight races in this state, the moderate Republicans are those swing voters.  And three Republican incumbents, congressional candidates are in trouble.  They are basically in virtual ties with their Democratic challengers.  So there is a lot going on here in Connecticut.  As Andrea Mitchell earlier today, she called it bizarro land that you had these moderate Republicans in these blue states supporting a Democratic candidate who is getting help from Republicans, big name Republicans, and you have a Democratic challenger in the senate getting support from the party.  You have a Republican candidate who is suffering from name recognition not getting any support from the Republican Party.  Then you have three incumbent Republican congressional candidates in trouble here in Connecticut. 

CARLSON:  It is—that is just bizarro.  Dawn Fratangelo thanks a lot, Dawn.  

FRATANGELO:  Could you follow that?  You‘re welcome.  

CARLSON:  It is.   It‘s Connecticut.  Coming up, we‘ll have a lot more on the John Kerry comment, the comment that is stirring a firestorm today in Washington.  Did he really mean to take a shot at American troops in Iraq?  Plus we‘ll take a look at the nastiest campaign ads of the day.  Why is the governor of Oklahoma being compared to Hitler?  Things are ugly, we‘ll show them to you when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  A leading House Republican speaks out about John Kerry‘s apparent knock against U.S. troops.  Will the comment hurt the Democrats a week from now?  Plus, three of the most over the top political ads you will ever see.  We are back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  MSNBC‘s coverage of election 2006 continues to the Billy Goat Tavern on the ground floor of the National Association of Realtors building here in Washington, D.C.  The Republicans in grave danger of losing control of the congress a week from today, has John Kerry swooped in and offered them a faint glimmer of hope by appearing to attack U.S.  troops? Congressman Eric Cantor is a Republican from Virginia‘s seventh district in Richmond.  He joins me now.  Congressman thanks a lot for coming on.  Does this help?

REP. ERIC CANTOR, ® VIRGINIA:  Well Tucker, here‘s the thing.  You know we‘re at war with the terrorists.  It seems that the Democrats are at war with the Republicans.  It used to be that all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike would respect the patriotism of our troops, but now we see this.  We see Senator Kerry attacking not only the patriotism but the intelligence of our troops.  You know, I really think that crosses the line.  It‘s a new low.  

CARLSON:  So you don‘t give him the benefit of the doubt?  You don‘t buy his explanation that he meant to say Bush is a moron, therefore we got stuck in Iraq.  He wasn‘t attacking the educational level of American troops.  

CANTOR:  How in the world, I cannot see any interpretation of his remarks meaning anything but the fact that he was attacking the patriotism and the intelligence level of our troops.  

CARLSON:  What do you make, going back to Virginia, your state, I know you‘re involved in the Senate race there.  What do you make of Senator Allen‘s attacks on Jim Webb‘s fiction writing? I just—as an observer, as a conservative watching this race, I was amazed that Senator Allen went after Jim Webb.  A lot of things you could attack Jim Webb for.  They go after naughty scenes in his fiction and accuse him of being not enough of a feminist, a chauvinist.  A left wing attack it seemed to me.  

CANTOR:  Well, listen, you now Tucker, I think we have entered silly season in these campaigns across the country, and obviously I think voters will go to the poll on the issue. They will go to the poll for George Allen on November 7 because of his record as governor in our state and because, frankly, of his leadership in the United States Senate.  

CARLSON:  Is it strange to you, though, that in some ways Webb—I mean, he is not your classic liberal candidate.  I mean the guy was a Reagan appointee and a Republican until very recently.  Why do you think it is that he‘s the one who is giving George Allen such a difficult time? He is probably the most right-wing Democrat running for anything in America in 2006. 

CANTOR:  Well, you know, I think that also I think that Virginia as a whole is reflectively Republican, and I think we‘re a common sense conservative state, so obviously that message of conservatism—frankly, Mr. Webb has come out against the mission in Iraq so I think its counter to where the state is. 

CARLSON:  I asked this of Congressman Micah a minute ago, but if Republicans lose the House and the Senate or maybe if they don‘t, they‘ve had a rough time no matter what happens.  It‘s been a hard time to be a Republican.  Is there going to be some rethinking about what it means to be a Republican in the months and years following this election?  Is there going to be some soul searching, do you think, among Republicans?

CANTOR:  I don‘t think there is any question that there‘s a message of having gone through this election cycle and the level of debate and the discussion on the issues themselves.  I think clearly what it is to be Republican means being favorable towards limited government, lower taxes, and a sound fiscal policy for the vision of America.  I also think that we will and should look at sort of the congress itself and how it exercises oversight over the executive branch because frankly we‘re shepherding taxpayer dollars and that‘s what it is to me as a Republican. 

CARLSON:  I mean are you satisfied with the Republican record over the last, say, two years on limited government?  I mean from my vantage, it seems like they have kind of become like Democrats. 

CANTOR:  Tucker, we can always improve.  And I think there is no question there is room for improvement here that we‘re going to take a look at what it means as you say to be that fiscal conservative.  We did put in place some things this fall having to do with reining in the earmarks and the spending.  We did put in place a line-item veto and frankly, the Democrats were no where to be seen as far as helping us get control of the out of control spending here in Washington.  

CARLSON:  When you hear—you‘re the third person I have asked this question of today, but I‘m interested in what you have to say.  When you hear Karl Rove say everything‘s fine, all the predictions are ridiculous, all the political experts on television, the pundits are all wrong and Republicans are going to hold both houses of Congress, what do you think?

CANTOR:  I agree with Karl Rove that we‘re going to hold both houses of Congress.   I think clearly these are competitive races out there.  We have got some issues in some of the open seats, but there is no question that we‘re going to maintain a majority in both houses.  

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Ok.  Well, if you turn out to be right, we‘ll keep the tape, and you get a free lunch from me.  

CANTOR:  There you go. 

CARLSON:  Congressman Cantor, thanks very much.  Get up to speed on all the races at our website.  The address in case you don‘t have it is politics.msnbc.com.  You will find everything you need to get yourself ready as we count down to Election Day one week from right now.  Just ahead, our roundup of the day‘s most over the top political spots, even by this season‘s lofty or maybe low standards.  Today‘s commercials are over the top.  You‘ll see them when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back and Happy Halloween.  When it comes to nasty campaign ads, the buck stops here.  So far this election season political parties have dished out nearly $160 million for negative ads.  Compare that if you will, if you dare, to the meager $17 million spent on creating positive ads.  Case in point, check out this blunt message from Vernon Robinson, he‘s a Republican candidate for North Carolina‘s 13th Congressional District and it says it like it is.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you are a conservative Republican, watching the news these days can make you feel as though you are in the twilight zone.  Americans are under attack from Islamic extremists in every corner of the world.  Homosexuals are mocking holy matrimony and the lesbians and feminists are attacking everything sacred.  Liberal judges have completely rewritten the constitution.  You can burn the American flag and kill a million babies a year, but you can‘t post the Ten Commandments or say God in public.  Seven out of every 10 black children are born out of wedlock and Jackson and Sharpton claim the answer is racial quotas.  And the aliens are here, but they didn‘t come in a spaceship.  They came across our unguarded Mexican border by the millions.

VERNON ROBINSON:  I‘m Vernon Robinson.  If you send me to Congress, I‘ll send that back to the twilight zone.  I approve of this message and of traditional American values. 

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I‘m here to say, I‘m for Vernon Robinson.  Actually a lot of that ad is totally true.  And how about the picture of the Reverend Al Sharpton?  Boy, he was truly a man of style. But you ain‘t heard nothing yet.  Just in case that message is lost on the television generation, Robinson is hitting the airwaves with the following radio pitch.  Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This message was paid for by Air Force Academy graduate Vernon Robinson.  Every night 7,000 aliens rush into our country illegally and your ultra liberal Congressman Brad Miler refuses to guard the border.  Instead of deporting them, he votes for amnesty and throws them a party with your tax dollars.  Brad Miller gives these aliens welfare, driver‘s licenses, social security, free health care, free lawyers, free public educations, even free school lunches.  These aliens pay no income tax and send their money back to Mexico.  Then they take to the streets, waving the Mexican flag and demanding more.  Unbelievably Brad Miller voted to allow these illegals to burn the American flag while waving the Mexican flag.  Brad Miller supports gay marriage and sponsored a bill to let American homosexuals bring their foreign homosexual lovers to this country on a marriage visa.  If Miller had his way, America would be nothing but one big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals.  But if you elect Vernon Robinson, that party is over. 

ROBINSON:  I‘m Vernon Robinson and I approve this message because Brad Miller is out of touch and soon, he‘ll be out of Congress. 

(END OF AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  One big fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals.  Homosexual illegal aliens coming over the border to get married in our country and burn our flag.  What a great spot.  And again, some of it‘s true! Too great. 

An Oklahoma group known as Indian Nation is on.  You‘ll have to excuse us, we couldn‘t resist the war path, but Democratic Governor Brad Henry who is up for election this year.  They charged that Henry is insensitive to the needs of Native Americans.  The group has sponsored a TV ad that may very well take nasty politics to a new low.  And that is saying quite a bit this election season.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Germany, they should not do business with the Jews.  Within a few short years, he developed a final solution and murdered more than 6,000,000 innocent souls.  In 2006, Governor Brad Henry is passing legislation and telling Oklahomans not to do business with Native Americans.  If you believe racism is just as wrong in 2006 as it was in 1936, call Governor Henry‘s office today and tell him to stop discriminating against Oklahoma‘s Native Americans. 

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Got that? We don‘t agree with you. You are not right on our issues, you‘re not wrong, you‘re not unreasonable, you‘re not on the incorrect side of the question.  You‘re Adolph Hitler.   

Ads like that, even in this season we are proud to say are almost always counterproductive, and that one will be too.  That‘s the most over the top we‘ve found this election season, but the season is not over.  Seven days left and everyday, stay tuned at 4:00 and 6:00 eastern to this program, we will bring you the most effervescent, the most diabolical, the most outrageous political ads on the air.  We will see you tomorrow at the same time.  Thanks for watching MSNBC‘s coverage of Decision 2006 that continues now with Chris Matthews, and “HARDBALL.”  See you tomorrow.  

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 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  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 NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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