updated 11/2/2006 12:33:45 PM ET 2006-11-02T17:33:45

Guests: John Murtha, James Moran, David Shuster, Sam Greenfield, Michael Graham

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

MSNBC‘s nonstop coverage of “Decision 2006: Battleground America” takes us to Episcopal High School, John McCain‘s alma mater here in Alexandria, Virginia.  It‘s a state with a Senate race that is one of the most hard fought in the country right now, literally.  An actual fight broke out on the campaign trial yesterday, and we‘ll show you more on that in a just moment. 

But first, our top political story of the day, for the second day in a row, John Kerry‘s Iraq gaffe.  He calls it a botched joke.  For the Republican Party, though, it is a gift from God, and it‘s a gift that keeps on giving. 

It all started with a comment on the campaign trail and went downhill from there. 

Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LAMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You‘ve spoken about Senator Kerry. 

He‘s now trying to laugh this off by saying he was talking about you. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Anybody who is—who‘s in a position to serve this country ought to understand the consequences of words.  And our troops deserve the full support of people in government. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Please stop it.  Stop talking.  Go home. 

Get on the bike, go windsurfing, anything.

Stop it.  You‘re going to ruin this.

KERRY:  I‘m not going to let these guys distort something completely out of its context solely for the purpose of avoiding responsibility, which is what they‘re doing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Today Kerry canceled some of his campaign appearances in response, but it doesn‘t look like that will be enough to get him off the hook just yet.  Take a look at this picture the Republican National Committee put out of troops in Iraq holding up a misspelled banner saying, “Help us, Jon Carry.  We‘re stuck her in Iraq.”

Here with reaction to Kerry‘s comments from the White House is NBC‘s Jeannie Ohm.

Jeannie, what is the White House—what‘s the official position now on what Kerry said? 

JEANNIE OHM, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there, Tucker.

Well, the White House is denying that Republicans are trying to exploit the Kerry flap to divert attention from what‘s happening on the ground in Iraq.  But Tony Snow says it is the senator who is actually fanning the flames, he‘s the one who made the comments in the first place on Monday.

Follow that up with a statement on Tuesday, a news conference Tuesday evening, and then appeared on “Imus” this morning.  But the White House certainly isn‘t backing away from this issue.  You had Tony Snow making the rounds on different television networks this morning saying that the senator has to—owes the U.S. troops an apology. 

He also followed that up in his White House briefing with this comment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  How hard is this?  You say something, it‘s not what you meant to say, you apologize.  You say I‘m sorry. 

And instead, you know, he‘s coming out and accusing Republicans of dirty tricks.  I mean, this is helpful advice.

We‘re trying to help you out.  We‘re throwing you a lifeline, buddy.  Just say you‘re sorry.  It‘s not hard. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OHM:  And the president this afternoon weighed in on Senator Kerry‘s explanation that this was a botched joke.  He sat down with news wire reporters and said, “It didn‘t sound like a joke to me.  More important, it didn‘t sound like a joke to the troops.”

And we are expecting to hear more from the White House this evening.  Vice President Cheney, at a rally in Montana, is expected to use some harsh words about Senator Kerry.  And in an unusual move, the White House released an excerpt of his prepared remarks, and here‘s a little bit of it. 

The vice president is expected to say that it‘s Senator Kerry who needs to be educated and “Of course now Senator Kerry says he was just making a joke and he botched it up.  I guess we didn‘t get the nuance.  He was before the joke before he was against it.”

Now, again, this is a remark that the vice president is expected to make this evening at a rally in Montana.  And of course that comment there a play on the words, the infamous words in 2004 when Senator Kerry said he was first for the $87 billion to fund the war before he voted against it—

Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Jeannie, is there any sense what White House political strategists think this will—how this will affect the election?  Do they think this will give Republicans any edge at all, or is it just a passing storm? 

OHM:  Well, most people are saying that this may not have a lasting impact, but certainly in the short term it‘s definitely getting the focus away from the Democrats‘ ongoing attack on the president, as well as the Republican candidates.  Instead, they have been having to spend the last two days either coming out to defend Senator Kerry or coming out against it. 

For example, Senator Clinton said that she thought his comments were inappropriate.  We also heard from John Edwards, the former running mate, saying that he stands by the senator and understands that it was a mistake.  You also had Howard Dean saying bloopers happen—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Jeannie Ohm, thanks very much. 

Well, the Kerry contretemps has been a last-minute gift from God for a battered Republican Party, and they are, of course, making the most of it.  But will it actually damage the Democrats? 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Joining us now, Congressman Jack Murtha. 

Congressman, thanks for joining us. 

Did you expect six days before the midterm election to see it blow up like this from John Kerry?  Is this a surprise? 

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, it‘s unfortunate and it distracts form the real issues.  That‘s the problem.

He‘s got to explain—there‘s no question in my mind he doesn‘t try to denigrate the troops, but how he said it certainly looks that way.  So he needs to explain what he was trying to do.  But it‘s unfortunate and it‘s distracting from the real situation on the ground. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MURTHA:  You know, I‘ve been saying over and over again, we have to redeploy our troops and we just can‘t be distracted by the mistakes that these guys are making. 

CARLSON:  But you often hear—or you sometimes hear, anyway, Democrats make the case, Charlie Rangel has said this many times on the floor of the House of Representatives, that wars in America are fought by the poor.  Whether that‘s true or not, that‘s another question.  But that‘s the argument some Democrats have made over the years, and that people who don‘t have options wind up joining the military and fighting on behalf of the rest of us, which would pretty much be what John Kerry is accused of saying. 

You don‘t think that‘s what he meant to say? 

MURTHA:  Well, the way he said it is a problem.  And of course I‘ve always been for the draft, because I think this ought to be shared.  I don‘t think just a few people ought to serve. 

We have a very small proportion of people in this country making the sacrifice—them and their families.  They are going back over and over again.  It‘s a tremendous strain. 

We‘re going to have a lot of problems after this war winds down with post-traumatic stress, with a lot of physical and emotional problems.  And one of the reasons is they go back so often and the mission is not discernible to them. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MURTHA:  They don‘t understand what they‘re doing.  We don‘t have an achievable mission by—for the military, for their families, and for the troops. 

CARLSON:  John Kerry made the point yesterday in his back and forth with the White House on this question that Republicans like to attack veterans.  And you really got the sense from his statements on the subject of outrage, this idea that it‘s illegitimate somehow to attack a man who has served in combat if the person who is doing the attacking hasn‘t served.  That really only veterans can comment on war. 

What do you think of that as a veteran? 

MURTHA:  Well, Tucker, I don‘t agree with that.  I think when somebody makes a mistake they should be attacked.  But we have to get away from this vicious attacks. 

One of the—one of the problems we have in the Congress itself right now is the instability, the fact that people are criticizing and not looking for solutions.  Instead of—instead of talking positively, working together—we only work two days a week, as you know.  I don‘t have to tell you. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I did know that. 

MURTHA:  And you don‘t—you‘re not able to solve problems that way.  What I‘m getting at is the point you have to be civil about these things.

You have to understand, he‘s not attacking the troops.  What he‘s trying to do is get a point across, I guess. 

But, you know, we‘ve got people who are sitting in their offices who are saying stay the course.  But the point is, there‘s a policy difference between us and the president.  Most Democrats voted against the war.  And yet, most Democrats, almost all Democrats, vote to support the troops. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

Do you fear—I mean, the president‘s position is, you k now, things may be bad in Iraq but they could be worse.  And if we pull out American troops, there‘ll  be a victory for terrorists and the country will become even more chaotic than it is. 

Do you fear that?  I mean, do you fear if when we leave that the place will become even more dangerous than it is?

MURTHA:  I see the opposite.  And the Iraqis believe the opposite. 

They have more confidence in their own people.  And you see what Maliki is trying to do.  The prime minister is trying to make himself more independent, have more—the people right now in Iraq have more confidence, and they say when we leave—the polls indicate there will be less chaos. 

There‘s only 1,000 foreign fighters over there.  It‘s a civil war, and that‘s what our troops are caught in between. 

We can‘t solve a civil war.  We can‘t win this militarily, Tucker.  This has to be won by the Iraqis. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MURTHA:  They have to take the responsibility themselves. 

CARLSON:  What about Iran and Turkey and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the countries that border Iraq that obviously have interest in Iraq?  Were we to leave, wouldn‘t that increase the influence of, say, the Iranians in Iraq? 

MURTHA:  Let me tell you, we‘re going to leave there one way or the other.  And it‘s just a matter of when we‘re going to leave and how we‘re going to leave. 

What we have to do—this administration has backed itself into a corner because they attack anybody who has a difference of opinion with them.  And so they demonize a policy difference with what they have. 

Now, we have to solve this diplomatically.  We have to go to these other countries.  We have to explain we‘ve done everything we can do militarily, now we need your help in trying to work for stability in the Middle East in particular. 

We‘re not deserting Iraq.  We have diverted ourselves from terrorism, as you know, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Yes.

MURTHA:  We‘ve diverted ourselves from terrorism in Afghanistan, where you had the Taliban, a war of choice, an independent country we attacked, and now they‘re in a mess and they‘re trying to figure out how to blame the Democrats for it. 

This is—this is a serious problem where you need bipartisan solutions to it.  And we can‘t be disagreeing with each other viscerally.  We have to look for ways to solve the problem.  That‘s what it amounts to. 

CARLSON:  I tend to agree with you.  And given that you feel that way and that you‘re for a return to civility in politics—and good for you—I wonder what you make of this.  This is part of Senator Kerry‘s statement yesterday.  He‘s responding to comments made by Tony Snow, the White House spokesman.

He said, “I‘m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium or doughy Rush Limbaugh.”

I wonder what Rush Limbaugh‘s weight has to do with the issue of Iraq. 

MURTHA:  Well, this is the problem we have gotten into.  On the floor every day they get up (INAUDIBLE) and they attack each other, and many time attack people personally. 

I remember when I came up with an issue, a substantive recommendation to this administration, a woman got up who had been in Congress two months and she attacked me and attacked my patriotism.  I mean, for heaven sakes.

You know, when you got a legitimate policy recommendation, look at it.  I sent a letter to the president.  Seven months later, I get a response from an underling in the Defense Department. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

MURTHA:  Those are the kinds of things that are frustrating to us.  We need to start to focus on how we solve this problem, how we reduce our dependence by not deserting Iraq, but by stabilizing it and let them settle it themselves. 

CARLSON:  And also pointless.  I mean, seven months to reply.  I mean, I agree with you.  There‘s no reason—I mean, that‘s rude and that just alienates people. 

Anyway, Congressman Murtha, I appreciate your coming on. 

Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.

Thanks.

MURTHA:  Nice talking to you, Tucker. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Still to come, John Kerry may have thought he could keep his head down and wait until the controversy over his Iraq comments blew over, but you knew Republicans wouldn‘t let that happen, and they haven‘t.  The latest reaction just ahead. 

And the campaign that has got it all, charges of racism, sexism, and now a fistfight.  The very latest on Virginia‘s Webb-Allen Senate race when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  You think Senate campaigns are boring?  You haven‘t been watching the Webb-Allen race here in Virginia. 

George Allen has been branded a racist for calling a worker from Webb‘s campaign “Macaca”—whatever that means—and for allegedly using the “N” word decades ago. 

Jim Webb, meanwhile, is under attack for racy sex scenes in several novels he‘s written. 

And if that‘s not enough excitement for you, a fight broke out yesterday at an Allen campaign event.  The brawl was caught on tape..

Now the race is almost too close to call, with a recent poll giving Allen 46 percent to Webb‘s 50 percent. 

Joining me now to explain what‘s going on here in Virginia, the dean,

really, of the congressional delegation—on the Democratic side, anyway -

Jim Moran of Alexandria.

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. JAMES MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  It‘s good to be with you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  First, before we get to the race here in your state we are hearing word just moments ago that John Kerry has apparently apologized to servicemen who might have been offended by his remarks.  We‘ve also—we‘ve been hearing all day about Hillary Clinton essentially scolding John Kerry. 

And I guess my question to you is, have you ever seen anything more disloyal and craven than Hillary Clinton jumping on the anti-John Kerry bandwagon? 

MORAN:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  You have? 

MORAN:  And so I don‘t want to get into that.  I think it would have been better for everyone just to sit back and wait for John to—to apologize.  Which he did. 

He didn‘t mean it the way that it was taken.  And it was blown up.  And, you know, a lot of this feigned outrage on the part of the White House was just that, they saw a political opportunity. 

You know, it was just an offhand remark.  And obviously I‘m going to be the last one to criticize somebody for verbalizing their stream of consciousness. 

CARLSON:  You are a forgiving man. 

But why—I mean, you are alluding to you, like a lot of members of Congress, people who hold office, have said things that you instantly realize come out sounding a way you don‘t expect them to sound.  And I‘m thinking of one case in which you apologized immediately.

And I wonder why, rather than apologize—and John Kerry spent 48 hours—or 24 hours attacking the other side.  Why not just apologize and make it go away? 

MORAN:  I do think there is a very deep-seated resentment on John‘s part toward George Bush, and his explanation this was directed at George Bush.  Because there is some truth to the fact that knowing what we know of George Bush‘s youth, if it hadn‘t been for the accident of birth, the military would have represented one of the best opportunities to have straightened him out. 

Now, because of (INAUDIBLE) birth, instead of going into the military he goes to Yale, and so on.  But, you know, I think it was because of resentment of George Bush and not any kind of attitude that he feels towards America‘s military, who are well-educated and courageous people who deserve a lot of respect.  And John gives them that. 

CARLSON:  So you‘re basically saying that John Kerry‘s psychological hang-ups on George W. Bush are so profound that he loses self-control when he talks about Bush.  Is that the profile of a president? 

MORAN:  I don‘t think those are the exact words I used, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Pretty close, though. 

MORAN:  Well, I mean, I like to see guys, you know, get—get angry.  And he‘s angry at George Bush, and I think he has got good reason to be. 

So—and sometimes that anger takes the form of comments that, you know, he wished he hadn‘t made in public.  But, you know, if I were John Kerry I would be furious at the guy that beat me in the way that he beat me. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, of course.  You know, he has reason to be mad.  He lost.  I understand that.

To the race, the Senate race going on here, the statewide race here, Democrats are calling for George Allen to release the records from his divorce.  That‘s kind of low.  Or very low. 

MORAN:  Too low. 

CARLSON:  Too low.  I agree.  Good.  Good for you.

What about Jim Webb, who strikes me as the most conservative man ever to run as a Democrat, in this state, anyway, at least in my generation.  He‘s no liberal.

MORAN:  Well, in your generation.  But, you know, the Democrats used to be the conservative party. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Of course.  Yes.

MORAN:  They were the party of Harry Byrd.  This...

CARLSON:  And not in a good way. 

MORAN:  Not in a good way.  No, they were racists and segregationists.  And for a while the Republicans were the abolitionists. 

But then, of course, as you know, after World War II they—there was a transformation that took place that was largely over the issue of race.  And now the Democrats, of course, are the progressive party.

Jim is more conservative in many ways than many Democrats, but, you know, I see that as a good thing.  And I think that‘s a good fit for Virginia.

CARLSON:  Well, he‘s more conservative than George Allen in many ways, as far as I‘m concerned.  Women in combat is a great example.  I mean, it‘s George Allen who‘s waging the feminist campaign against Jim Webb.

Why can‘t Jim Webb—why can‘t Jim Webb campaign?  I mean, this is a guy who has got a pretty great story to tell.  I don‘t hear him telling it. 

MORAN:  He‘s campaigning now.  I have seen him in a number of parades. 

The Annandale parade last weekend was so far different from the Falls Church parade, Tucker.  These are local communities, but Jim shook every hand, he kissed every baby.  He is now into this.  It doesn‘t come naturally. 

But just as with women, you know, his initial—intuitively, he didn‘t think that women should be in the military, but he finally got it.  And then I‘m told by many ranking military female officers that Jim Webb wound up being an advocate for women in the military.

You know, people go through these epiphanies, these conversions.  And Jim did that.

And in many areas, certainly individual liberties, we have got a ballot amendment, as you know, a referendum on whether anybody not traditionally married has any rights.  And Jim Webb has come out against that, whereas George Allen is in favor of it.  Well, you know, the original conservative Republicans would have been on opposite sides of that.  So Jim has taken...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  If he—if he wins, my prediction is Democrats will be shocked to find out what a secret winger he is.  I hope I‘m right.

Anyway, Congressman Moran, thank you very much.

I appreciate it.  Great to see you.  Thank you. 

MORAN:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Tennessee‘s Harold Ford fights back against a barrage of campaign ads by bringing in the campaigner in chief.  Will it work? 

That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  We‘re back with more on Virginia‘s Senate race.  After all the mudslinging, charges, countercharges about everything, it‘s getting down to the wire. 

Here now with the latest on that race, on the campaign that may be an object lesson on how not to run for office, NBC News‘ David Shuster.

David, welcome. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, good to be with you.

CARLSON:  Before we get to the Virginia Senate race, I want to read the statement hot off the wires from John Kerry about his now-famous remarks about Iraq.

“I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended.”

Is it enough?  And why did it take so long?

SHUSTER:  Well, I guess we‘ll have to see if it‘s enough.  I mean, it sounds like it‘s going to be enough given that the people who were giving the Republicans cover today were not Republicans.  They were Democrats...

CARLSON:  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... Hillary Clinton, Harold Ford, the congressman in Iowa who said he didn‘t want Kerry to campaign with him.  So this sounds like it will be enough for the Democrats, and then hopefully the Democrats will—

I mean, for their sake, they‘re hoping that the story will go away. 

CARLSON:  It‘s interesting.  I mean, you understand Harold Ford is running in a very tight race, in a conservative state against a Republican.  So, you know, you sort of get why Harold Ford has to come out and pile on. 

Hillary Clinton is basically unopposed in one of the most liberal states in the country.  She‘s supposed to be a friend of John Kerry‘s.  They‘re the leaders of the Democratic Party.  And she comes out and kind of gratuitously, you know, slaps him around for this. 

I don‘t get it. 

SHUSTER:  Well, the back side of the story, Tucker, is that John Kerry has given far more money to Democratic candidates this year than Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON:  Yes.

SHUSTER:  He‘s given like $12 million.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

SHUSTER:  He‘s campaigned in 35 states.  A lot of people suggested that Hillary should be giving some more of her money.

CARLSON:  Right.

SHUSTER:  So a lot of people are sort of taking notice of, well, you know, what was the point of Hillary doing this?  But again, it might be just 2008 politics.  I mean, that may also explain why John McCain and Mitt Romney were so quick yesterday to condemn John Kerry...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes, but they are also Republicans.  And you can sort of make—you know, in the end, John McCain—I know he‘s a friend to everyone in the media, you know, and he‘s friends with many liberals and all that—but in the end, you know, he is a Republican senator. 

Hillary Clinton, she could have just gone away for the day and not commented on it, been unavailable.  It does seem almost designed to alienate John Kerry. 

SHUSTER:  Designed to alienate John Kerry, but I think the other problem that Hillary Clinton could have out of this is that if Democrats say this was a gratuitous shot at a time when the Democratic Party didn‘t want this to keep festering...

CARLSON:  Right.  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... and Hillary Clinton allowed it essentially to keep festering for at least another day with her comments and Harold Ford, that it may not look like the smartest thing for her to have been involved in. 

But we‘ll see.

CARLSON:  Right.  No, I think that‘s exactly right. 

The race here in Virginia, where does it stand? 

SHUSTER:  It‘s tied.  I mean, the latest polls all show that it‘s a dead heat, within the margin of error, except for one poll that showed Webb ahead, but slightly. 

The one thing that is so striking is that in a race that has been so nasty, with even yesterday, where you had some Allen supporters grabbing a head—sort of headlock around this guy who wanted to ask some questions of George Allen about his divorce records, in a race that has been so nasty, here you have on the television ads at the end, but candidates are suddenly going positive, saying, vote for me, I‘m the best guy, I‘ve got the vision.  And it‘s as if these charges and counterattacks never even happened. 

I suppose it just gets back to the idea that at the end, no matter how much mud has been slung...

CARLSON:  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... a candidate still has to reach out back to his own supporters and say remember me, I‘m a good guy, when they feel like they‘ve done as much as they can and... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Is there any evidence that any of those attacks has backfired for either candidate? 

SHUSTER:  No, I don‘t think so.  Although, the one possibility might be, George Allen being behind the sort of push to get reporters to focus on Jim Webb‘s novels and the dirty passages. 

CARLSON:  It‘s ridiculous, yes. 

SHUSTER:  I mean, if you look at when the poll numbers started to change, a lot of people thought, you know, here‘s a senator, George Allen, has been in the Senate, has been in public service for 20-some years, and he‘s wanting people to focus on what Jim Allen—Jim Webb wrote years ago. 

CARLSON:  It‘s ridiculous.  You know, I‘m the most conservative person I know, and that alienates—you lost me when you did that.  That‘s how I felt about it.

David Shuster, thank you. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Tucker.  Good to be with you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, Republicans take aim at John Kerry over his gaffe on Iraq, but in the final days of the campaign, are they losing focus on the race that really maters?  Will the controversy hurt the Democrats in the end or the Republicans?

And Menendez versus Kean in New Jersey.  The campaign that produced a “Soprano”-style attack ad gets even uglier. 

All that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, Tennessee‘s Harold Ford fights back in the wake of an ad some called racist.  And the man who may decide a Connecticut House race, libertarian candidate and folk hero Phil Maymin, he joins us.  We‘ll get to all that in just a minute but right now here‘s a look at your headlines. 

REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC market wrap.  Concerns about the economy weighing on stocks today.  The Dow off about 50, the S&P 500 down 10 and the NASDAQ down 32.  Two out of the three big U.S. automakers reporting an increase in sales last month.  Ford sales up eight percent, GM sales up 22 percent over the last year.  Meantime.  DaimlerChrysler still struggling to clear an inventory backlog saw U.S.  sales decline three percent.  Nissan also posting sales gains and Toyota reporting its best October sales ever.  A mega merger in the pharmaceutical business.  Drugstore chain CVS and pharmacy benefits manager Caremark RX hooking up in a stock swap worth $20 billion.  And in its continuing battle with Netflix, Blockbuster now says any one who rents a DVD online and returns it to a store will get their next movie rental for free.  Now back to MSNBC‘s nonstop coverage of Decision 2006 with Tucker Carlson. 

CARLSON:  Time now for three on three, where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories.  Joining us from New York City, Sam Greenfield, he‘s the host of “The Morning Show” on WWRL radio.  Also Michael Graham, host of “The Natural Truth with Michael Graham”, that‘s on 96.9 FM talk in Boston.  Welcome to you both.  It may have been a botched joke but the Republican --  

Tucker stop.  Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Yes? 

:  Did I just hear you before the break call yourself the most conservative person that you know, did you say that?

CARLSON:  That or a right wing crazy, yes, I describe myself in generous terms. 

:  Come on, you know me.  

CARLSON:  That‘s true I do.  

:  I make you look like Nancy Pelosi, I mean come on, what‘s that.  

CARLSON:  I don‘t think so.  Well let‘s see how you respond to this.  He‘s calling it a botched joke, but the RNC does not agree.  And that group wasted no time putting together an ad calling for John Kerry to apologize to U.S. troops.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY:  Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, 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 OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Looks like John Kerry has been watching TV recently.  He took a cue from that ad, he did apologize just moments ago.  Here‘s what he said.  “I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform.  And I personally apologize to any servicemen, family members or Americans who were offended.”  Sam, here‘s the question, if he had done this yesterday, the RNC wouldn‘t have had time to cut that ad, pretty effective ad.  The Republican Party would have had a lot less to talk about. Why didn‘t he?

SAM GREENFIELD, WWRL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I don‘t know why he does what he does.  I don‘t know why we don‘t understand one thing.  He made a mistake.  He apologized.  Now we can get back to Abramoff and Iraq and Katrina and the budget and the fact the GAO says we‘re headed for economic disaster.  This story is now over.  He mis-said one word.  No one in their right mind thinks he was actually disparaging the troops.  Everybody now knows—

CARLSON:  Well I don‘t know, wait, wait.  I‘m in my right mind.  

GREENFIELD:  Well, that‘s up for grabs.

[laughter]

GREENFIELD:  Everybody knows that he misspoke, everybody.  And by the way, George Bush -- 

CARLSON:  Wait a minute, I‘m not sure everyone.  

GREENFIELD:  George Bush swore on a stack of bibles he wouldn‘t politicize the war, who made this ad?  

CARLSON:  Well look, the White House has politicized the war from day one.  I don‘t know who bought that, I mean that‘s obvious.  But hold on.  I think there is a line of argument and I‘ve heard this come from the mouths of democrats many many times that goes like this.  Poor people fight our wars.  When you have no options you join the military.  That is why the military itself is an instrument of inequality in American society and why we need the draft.  

GREENFIELD:  George bush is a walking draft deferment. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know why John Kerry wasn‘t saying that yesterday.

GREENFIELD:  Wait a minute, George Bush is a walking draft deferment.

CARLSON:  But maybe that‘s the point. 

MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  But what does that have to do with John Kerry.  What in the world, exactly, what does that have to do with John Kerry?  Look, I love the whining from Greenfield, who‘s a good friend of mine by the way.  But I love his—Charlie Rangel says that the army‘s made up of the lowest echelon of society.  John Kerry called his fellow soldiers in Vietnam murderers, rapists and compared them to Gingas Kahn(ph).  Dick (INAUDIBLE) compares our soldiers to Nazis and poll pod and Bill Clinton loathes the military.  Now John Kerry says but you better study kids in college who I‘m talking to, otherwise you‘ll get stuck in the army and then Democrats complain that the Republicans are making them look bad.  You‘ve got to be kidding me.

GREENFIELD:  Who waged a war based on a pathetic man‘s needy ego that has killed 2,800 Americans?

GRAHAM:  I have no idea.  I know who is waging a war on terrorism. I know about that. 

CARLSON:  Wait, one at a time guys. 

GREENFIELD:  Michael, you‘re so Islamiphob, you think it‘s a war on terror like your great grandfather thought there was a war on communism, like there‘s one poly-god.  There are 19 different kinds of terrorists and George Bush is attacking it like if you step on something here everything else goes away.  He‘s waging a lousy war, he‘s killing our youngest and best and brightest.

CARLSON:  Wait, slow down Sam.  First of all, I want to ask you a simple question.  Sam, I want to ask you specifically.  Michael just said something I think that needs to be rebutted by you.  You can‘t gloss right over it. 

GREENFIELD:  And what was that?

CARLSON:  He‘s right, there have been a lot of Democrats, he‘s right, that Charlie Rangel I think made a pretty coherent case, a wrong case but a sober case that poor people fight our wars. Why wasn‘t John Kerry saying that?  It sounds like that‘s exactly what he was saying.

GREENFIELD:  Here‘s a great idea.  Why don‘t we get the whole quote out there?  The entire quote is he believes in the draft.  That‘s what he was saying.  He was saying that rich people don‘t enter the service.  For example, nobody named Bush is fighting.  He wants a draft so not just the lowest economic echelon.  Now we have people in from the National Guard.  He wasn‘t talking about that, he was talking about full-time military.

GRAHAM:  Sam, you‘re wrong.

GREENFIELD:  Full time military are the lowest earners among people who enter the service.  It‘s not a bad thing.  It happens to be a fact.  He wants a draft so that rich kids might be at risk.  That‘s what he wants.  

CARLSON:  But you‘re making the case Sam that Kerry was saying --  

GREENFIELD:  But Kerry doesn‘t speak for --  

CARLSON:  Kerry was saying exactly what the White House is saying he was saying.  I mean, come on. 

GREENFIELD:  But Kerry doesn‘t speak for every single Democrat. This is a Limbaugh thing where you say, where one liberal says something goofy and you go, see, that‘s what liberals think.  He said it, that‘s all, I didn‘t.  

GRAHAM:  Well then fine, we‘ll pick it up right there.  The decimation of the military by the Clinton administration, the repeated attempts to cut the budget for intelligence throughout the late 1990‘s while our buildings were blowing up led by Democrats, like Democrats here in Massachusetts.  Every statement that I just ran through, all of them designed to show—not designed but all them showing that the Democratic Party disparages the military.  The people in the military know it because the military is overwhelmingly Republican.  More than 60 percent of military members self identify as Republican.  Fewer than 20 percent self identify as Democrats.  That‘s just a fact.  The reason Democrats have a bad reputation on the issue of supporting the military, they earned it.  That‘s why.  

GREENFIELD:  All right, here‘s why, here‘s the great thing about what you‘re saying.

CARLSON:  Wait, Sam.  Why is Hillary Clinton weighing, wait hold on, why is Hillary Clinton weighing in on the president‘s side and attacking John Kerry?  She doesn‘t need to do that, why is she doing that?

GREENFIELD:  Thirty seven percent approval, by the way Mikey.  The reason that she did this is because if there‘s a 2008 election coming, John Kerry said he wants to run, she slaps him. That‘s it.

CARLSON:  That‘s not a very (INAUDIBLE) thing to do, is it?  That‘s a pretty ugly thing to do. 

GREENFIELD:  If you want something deeper, we can look deeper but that‘s what this is about. 

CARLSON:  No, no, you‘re totally right, I‘m just saying how unattractive, how disloyal.

GREENFIELD:  Why is it unattractive?

CARLSON:  It‘s unattractive because hold on, she doesn‘t need to pile on.  She (INAUDIBLE) for political gain. 

GREENFIELD:  Why is it unattractive?  She‘s playing politics.  You know what‘s unattractive, what the Bush campaign did to John McCain, that‘s unattractive.  All she did was deliver a little shame on you.  

GRAHAM:  So we‘re just not going to talk about John Kerry.  Now by the way, I live near Massachusetts, I do radio here in Massachusetts.  I like to show you Tucker something I now have.  This is my official John Kerry presidential fork.  Stick it in him, he‘s done.  He‘s never going to be the nominee.  His campaign (INAUDIBLE) has ended today, right now.

GREENFIELD:  Another joke that killed vaudeville.  

CARLSON:  Wait.  I want to move on.  Before we run out of time, I want to go to Tennessee, which is of course the site of one of the fiercest Senate battles now being fought.  One pitting Democrat Harold Ford against Republican Bob Corker.  And earlier today Ford got a major  campaign boost, they hope it‘s a major campaign boost any way, from Bill Clinton who came to a Memphis rally.  Corker meantime is hoping to counter Ford‘s aggressive campaign by portraying him as a playboy with a taste for luxury hotels and high priced meals, all at the expense of taxpayers.  But now Ford has struck back, he accuses his opponent of putting taxpayer money where his mouth is.  Check out this campaign ad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAROLD FORD:  I‘m Harold Ford Jr. and I approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bob Corker lives in a 30 room mansion, his worth over $200 million and owns six SUV‘s.  As mayor he took three pay increases while freezing the pay of Chattanooga‘s police and firefighters.  He has a 30-room mansion, he‘s worth over $200 million, took three pay raises for himself and yet nothing for police and firefighters.  As Senator, who do you think he‘ll look out for?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD:  That‘s hysterical.

CARLSON:  I mean, I don‘t know.  Sam, is there any—I mean look, attacking the guy because he‘s rich?  When the Republicans attacked Harold Ford for staying at the Essex House, which is known as a particularly nice hotel in New York, a five star hotel, I defended him on the grounds that, good for him, you know what I mean.  Why are they attacking Bob Corker because he has got six SUV‘s?  Couldn‘t it be a dumber ad?

GREENFIELD:  I thought I was watching “Saturday Night Live.”  Well no, because that was hysterical.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

GREENFIELD:  I can‘t believe how funny that was.  I mean that‘s like saying, Sam Greenfield lives in New York.  Wow, it was like a commercial so negative it only has low notes. That was hysterical.  

GRAHAM:  The reason that ad is not going to have much impact unlike the playboy bunny ad is that you know Bob Corker is running as a Republican, in other words he‘s running as a rich guy.  A guy on the side of rich guys, as Republicans do.  Harold Ford is running as a different kind of Democrat, the kind of Democrat who attends church regularly, talks openly about his faith, etcetera, and hanging out with playboy bunnies puts that in a different light.  And that‘s why it‘s had some impact on the race in Tennessee.  I actually used to live in Nashville, Tennessee and it‘s not nearly the kind of gun-toting down there kind of state that people want to project that it is.  But they do get, if you are authentic or if you are not, and that‘s one of the strengths that Harold Ford Jr. had.  I think he has really lost during the course of this campaign, is it appears that he‘s trying to wiggle the politics some as opposed to his authentic self.  

GREENFIELD:  You know the saddest thing about—

CARLSON:  We‘ve only got 30 seconds left, we‘ve got six days to go until this race finishes.  Can I get each of you, starting with you Sam, your prediction for what‘s going to happen in Tennessee?

GREENFIELD:  Oh, in Tennessee, I don‘t think Ford can win which I think is a sad commentary because a lot of it‘s about race.  They still talk about that there. 

GRAHAM:  You don‘t have to be an ignorant redneck to vote against Harold Ford.  It‘s such an insult to the people in Tennessee.

GREENFIELD:  I didn‘t say ignorant redneck, I said race.

GRAHAM:  For you to say that it‘s about race. 

GREENFIELD:  I didn‘t say redneck, did I?

GRAHAM:  Harold Ford‘s not going to win because he‘s a Democrat in a Republican state that wants to back up the Republican agenda.  

GREENFIELD:  And the black part has nothing to do with it in Tennessee?

GRAHAM:  I‘m not going to accuse the voters of Tennessee of being racist. 

GREENFIELD:  I didn‘t say racist, I said racist.

CARLSON:  And Harold Ford hasn‘t either.

GRAHAM:  Oh people who don‘t vote for people based on race.

GREENFIELD:  No one said racist.  

CARLSON:  Exit polling will show that white evangelicals go pretty heavily for Harold Ford I think in the end.  But we can talk about that a week from today.  All right guys, thanks.  Sam, Michael, I appreciate it.  What would a New Jersey political race be without a little mafia influence?  We‘ll have a report from the Senate race in the Sopranos state when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Allegations of rampant corruption and mafia ties.  It‘s all in a day‘s work in New Jersey politics.  We‘ll have a report from the Senate race in that state when we come back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Our coverage of “Decision 2006” continues today from Piscopo High School in Alexandria, Virginia, alma mater of John McCain.  Virginia is not the only state with a vicious Senate fight underway.  It‘s getting uglier by the day in New Jersey‘s Senate race, surprise, surprise, where race, ethnicity and the mafia could determine the outcome of the hotly contested seat.  The latest poll shows Democrat Bob Menendez increasing his lead over Tom Kean Jr., he is now ahead 51 to 44 percent.  Joining us now with the latest on this race, NBC‘s Ron Allen, he‘s in lovely Ridgewood, New Jersey, home of Willie Geist.  Ron?

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS:  Hey, home of one of your producers, yeah, lovely Ridgewood, New Jersey.  

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

ALLEN:  I‘m not sure that people here would think of it as the Soprano state necessarily, but, anyway.  Menendez has 51 percent by that one poll, that‘s the first poll that‘s actually given him a majority of the vote, so it‘s significant if in fact it‘s true.  The polls have been very tight and it‘s been basically a tossup for the past few weeks and the only reason this is really a race is because of Tom Kean Jr.‘s name.  As you know, his father was a very popular two term governor here, a moderate Republican.  This state elects moderate Republican governors, it doesn‘t elect Republican Senators, it hasn‘t since the early 1970‘s.  And the race ethnicity part of this of course is that Mr. Menendez is a Hispanic American, the first New Jersey Senator of such descent.  And there‘s a question about turnout, whether the Hispanic community, whether the African-American community will turn out in as big as numbers as the Democrats would like because of Mr. Menendez‘s ethnicity.  

CARLSON:  So, Ron, I mean, what is the dynamic that‘s changed in the last couple of days?  If Menendez is all of a sudden leading whereas he wasn‘t before, has he introduced a new compelling argument or is there just a lot more Democrats there than Republicans? 

ALLEN:  I think there‘s just a lot more Democrats here than Republicans.  New Jersey is a very deep blue state.  The dynamics in the race have been pretty much the same and as you probably have seen from living in New York, New Jersey, it‘s basically a bloody and relentless nasty ad campaign on television in the Philadelphia and New York markets which frame New Jersey.  Basically Menendez has been saying that Tom Kean Jr. is a Bush clone, that he supports the war in Iraq and if you want more of that then vote for the Republican.  Tom Kean Jr. has essentially been saying that Menendez is a crook and all his ads have basically featured Soprano like characters, grainy recordings of messages and eavesdropping and wiretapped conversations that associate Menendez with New Jersey‘s reportedly corrupt political culture, which of course is pretty well documented and well known.  Menendez has been in politics here a long time, he‘s a seven-term congressman.  And Kean has basically been trying to paint him with that brush as being like one of the others, especially the Democrats who have had their problems here.  So that‘s been the race, I think the numbers have perhaps gone in Menendez‘s favor of late, probably because, again, you‘re talking about a very deep blue state and he‘s counting on a big turnout and Kean is hoping that something will happen that gives him an edge. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Ron.  New Jersey‘s reportedly corrupt political culture.  That‘s now my favorite phrase, I plan to use it every day.  Thanks Ron. 

We‘re less than a week away from Election Day and you can vote up on all the races at our website, the address is politics.msnbc.com.   And you will find everything you need to get yourself ready.  We put out one of our favorite ads of the campaign season and now he‘s throwing a wrench into an important House race.  We‘ll meet the libertarian candidate who approved this massage, when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m running for Congress. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, are you a Democrat or a Republican? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you mean, everyone is a Democrat or a Republican. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not me. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m a libertarian.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re a librarian? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I‘m a libertarian.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘re Joe Lieberman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not Lieberman, I‘m a libertarian. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What is a libertarian? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A libertarian believes in smaller government, fewer taxes, more freedom.  Get out of Iraq. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I like all those. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Maybe you‘re a libertarian too.  I am Phil Maymin and I approve this massage.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Pretty funny ad, but Phil Maymin is serious when he says it‘s time for third-party representation in Congress because he believes there is really not a lot of difference between his Democrat and Republican opponents.  But can he convince voters in Connecticut‘s fourth congressional district and perhaps across the nation that the time is right for a party rebellion?  Joining us now from Stanford, Connecticut, libertarian candidate and the man who approved that massage, Phil Maymin.  Mr. Maymin, thanks a lot for coming on.  

PHIL MAYMIN, LIBERTARIAN RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IN CT:  Oh my pleasure Tucker, thank you for having me.  

CARLSON:  Well there‘s a pornographic quality to your ad.  I mean, I enjoy—but what does it mean, exactly?

MAYMIN:  Well, I mean, it‘s an indication of the fact that the Republicans, Democrats are the same.  They pass laws, any problem you could come up with, real or imaginary, the only solution that Democrats and Republicans can come up with is we need more government, we need more loves.  We need people to approve these things and then it all will be well.  It‘s silly.  It‘s the same thing with Iraq, they don‘t disagree about how to get—both of my opponents support Iraq, they‘ve supported the war from the beginning basically, neither of them have an exit strategy.  I‘m the only candidate who has an exit strategy, who opposed it unconditionally from day one and who opposes it now. 

CARLSON:  And of course neither party disagrees about the need for nation building.  

MAYMIN:  Of course, not just nation building --  

CARLSON:  The big lie under-girding our involvement in Iraq.  But let‘s get back to the essential theme of libertarianism, and that is limited government.  The people aren‘t for limited government.  

MAYMIN:  Oh that‘s not true, a CNN poll came out yesterday or two days ago, 60 percent of people believe government is too big and it should be much smaller. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, well it should be smaller for other people, but when it comes right down to it, everybody is a welfare queen.  

MAYMIN:  Are you? 

CARLSON:  I mean everybody complains when they‘re going to cut—I‘m not, actually, I‘m one of about eight people in America who really is for smaller government.  But you mention any cut at al, any actual concrete way the government could reduce its size and people begin screaming that you‘re cutting the rug out from under them.  I mean people want government stuff.

MAYMIN:  Don‘t cut it today, think about your children.  Do you want your children to be welfare queens?  Do you want them to be receiving handouts and being dependent on government? Or do you thank your children are the kinds of people who can follow that American dream, can do what they want to do without having to file paperwork and ask for permission from Bush or Clinton or whoever, the Bush Jr. or Clinton Jr. at the time.  

CARLSON:  Well, I couldn‘t agree with you more.  How are you received?  And your ad is—are you a librarian? No, I‘m a libertarian.  Do people know what a libertarian is and do they think it‘s good or bad? 

MAYMIN:  They do.  We were campaigning today and people came up to me and said wow, you‘re Phil Maymin, a libertarian, I‘m going to definitely vote for you on Tuesday.  We had seven debates between me and my opponent Shayzin Farrell and the reception was fantastic.  You can see the videos on the website at 2006phil.com, they‘re on Youtube.  It‘s been a very good reception, especially with younger people or people who pay attention, they see that there‘s no difference between Republicans and Democrats and specifically between my two opponents, so the reception has been wonderful.  

CARLSON:  Has any libertarian ever been elected to congress? 

MAYMIN:  No, it‘s time, isn‘t it? We‘re about due. 

CARLSON:  You know what, I think it is time and you could be the man. 

Based on your ad, I like it.  Good luck, for what it‘s worth.  

MAYMIN:  Thanks a lot Tucker.  Thank you very much.  

CARLSON:  Phil Maymin, thanks. 

MAYMIN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  That‘s our show for today.  Thanks for watching.  MSNBC‘s ongoing coverage of “Decision 2006” will continue all week and into next week on this show at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.  I hope you‘ll tune in every day.  Right now though it‘s “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great night, we‘ll 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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