Guests: Jim McDermott, Ellen Tauscher, Dick Armey, Ed Rogers, Steve McMahon, Tyler Drumheller
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Iraq, it decided the election. It shifted power from Bush to his opponents. Let‘s see what happens now. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to HARDBALL.
While President Bush gets help from his dads national security advisers on Iraq, Congress is back in town for a lame duck session. Will the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State Jim Baker, offer the president and the Congress a way out of Iraq? If so, when and how?
Before we deal with that, Democrats have an internal fight to settle
for the position of House Majority Leader. The top Republican on the Hill
or Democrats have that fight. In a moment, we‘ll talk with key supporters for both Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland and U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Hardball‘s David Shuster reports.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before the Democrats take control of Congress, their divisions over Iraq are erupting. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who appeared at the White House last week with the number two ranking Democrat, Maryland‘s Steny Hoyer, is now urging Democratic lawmakers to bypass Hoyer for the position of Majority Leader and vote instead for John Murtha, a long time Pelosi supporter.
Murtha was the first lawmaker to call for withdrawal from Iraq. And in a letter to Murtha released publicly today, Pelosi said, quote, “I salute your courageous leadership that changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election... Your strong voice for national security... provides genuine leadership for our party.”
Murtha, a Vietnam vet with close ties to the Pentagon, maintains the U.S. should start leaving Iraq immediately. Hoyer is more in line with most Democrats on issues like abortion and gun control, but Hoyer has tangled with Pelosi in leadership battles and is far more cautious about a troop withdrawal.
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: They need to transfer authority, to defend themselves and maintain security to the Iraqis. But we need to do so in a way, hopefully, that will not create greater conflict and greater carnage.
SHUSTER: As the Democrats in the House squabble over their position on Iraq and over negotiating strategies with the White House, in the Senate, Democrats are united.
SEN, CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: Those Democrats share the view that we should pressure the White House to commence the phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq in four to six months.
SHUSTER: That timetable has now been endorsed by influential Senate Democrat Joe Biden, who will soon be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But today, presidential spokesman Tony Snow seemed to reject any such timetable or benchmarks.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: We are eager for any kind of constructive input. But the ultimate goal still has to be an Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself. And when conditions permit, that‘s when you start talking about troop withdrawals.
SHUSTER: Today President Bush and his top advisers met with the Iraq Study Group, a commission led by former Republican Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was impressed by the questions they asked. They want us to succeed in Iraq, just like I want to succeed. And so we had a really good discussion.
SHUSTER: And as for the commission recommendations, which will be issued later this month:
BUSH: I‘m not sure what the report is going to say. I‘m looking forward to seeing it.
SHUSTER: But Democrats fear the White House may use the upcoming report to dismiss more aggressive proposals for troop withdrawal. And so today the Democrats lashed out against any echoing of preelection rhetoric.
LEVIN: Whatever the ideas are, they should be welcomed by the White House instead of discarded and thrown away as being somehow or other less than patriotic, which is what we‘ve heard for too long around here. If you don‘t tell the administration what they want to hear, somehow or other you‘re less than patriotic and you‘re playing into the hands of the terrorists. Enough of that.
SHUSTER (on camera): The White House language today was far more conciliatory than it was a week ago before the election. Still, the Bush administration and Democrats in Congress are a long ways away from discussing and negotiating what to do about Iraq.
Some Democrats are still trying to figure out what their position will be. Other Democrats are just trying to get their feet on solid ground as the new power brokers in Congress.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Shuster.
Let‘s talk about Iraq politics right now.
Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington state is supporting Jack Murtha for the Leader job in the House.
California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher is supporting Steny Hoyer.
Let me ask you both to answer your questions in the context of Iraq.
Congresswoman Tauscher, what is your politics about Iraq, and what do you think Steny Hoyer‘s is?
REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER, (D) CALIFORNIA: I think Steny Hoyer, like our leader Nancy Pelosi and virtually all Democrats are—have been very supportive in the last two years for a phased redeployment. Steny, Nancy, Jack Murtha, leaders in the Senate have sent two or three letters to the president since July, one in August, one in September, pushing this idea of a change in direction, a change of course, a phased redeployment.
I think that we have very much a united Democratic caucus both in the House and in the Senate. We heard very clearly what the American people said last Tuesday. We understand we have to be agents of change. We look forward to having the White House being to work with us, to get that change and to bring our troops home sooner and safer.
And I tell you that this is generally what every Democrat supports. And I certainly think that our leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, with a big assist from Rahm Emanuel, who got us back into the majority, have led us to that position and will continue to do so.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Jim McDermott, do you see a difference between Steny Hoyer and Jack Murtha on Iraq?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT, (D) WASHINGTON: Absolutely. Jack was the first one in the center of the caucus who came out and said we, have to move. Guys like me who were against the war from the very start were waiting until somebody emerged.
And Jack came out. He‘s a decorated war hero. He had the courage to take it. He‘s now taken Swift Boating and everything else. And he is a uniter. He brought the country together in this election and got them to vote out the Republican Congress because they were rubber stamping this war in Iraq. And Jack‘s efforts—without Jack, we would not be in power today. The fact...
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congresswoman Tauscher.
You talk about Steny Hoyer as if he were the same as Jack Murtha.
What do you see as the difference?
TAUSCHER: I don‘t see any difference certainly on Iraq. On other issues, I see big differences. When I ran in 1996 out in California against a Republican incumbent, there were very few people that thought I could win. Steny Hoyer not only campaigned for me and helped me raise me raise money, but he was here when I came back to help me get the positions that I wanted on the Armed Services Committee and on the Transportation Committee.
So Nancy Pelosi is going be our Speaker, and she‘s a fabulous leader. But there‘s a team that got us into the majority. And it was the Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Rahm Emanuel, who I expect is going to be our caucus chair. That‘s the team that brought us in here. We have the most united caucus we have had in 50 years.
In this Congress Democrats have not only united to stop the privatization of Social Security by George Bush, but to articulate a change in direction for this country. And that‘s what the American people voted for. I‘m for staying with the team that got in the majority, and that‘s Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi.
MATTHEWS: But how do we get out of Iraq when we have the president, who doesn‘t want to give and we have moderate Democrats, who are eager to compromise with him?
Don‘t you have to stand up against him and say, you were wrong in taking us into Iraq? Get that through your head, then we can talk.
As long as the president was right to take us into Iraq, he should be the person we trust. Shouldn‘t we trust the president...
TAUSCHER: Chris, I am a moderate Democrat.
MATTHEWS: ... should we trust the president to get us out of Iraq?
Yes or no?
TAUSCHER: Why would anybody say that we‘re not certainly trusting this president to get us out of Iraq. I mean, I don‘t know of anybody that‘s even suggesting that we do that.
The truth of the matter is Democrats are united on a phased redeployment, on working to come to the details of what that will be. We‘re very anxious to hear what the Baker and Hamilton report is at the end of the month.
But we are united. And we are united not only on that issue, but on so many others, on increasing the minimum wage...
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I just want to talk about Iraq right now.
I want to go back to Congressman McDermott.
Is she right? Is Congresswoman Tauscher right, that the Democrats are united on Iraq?
MCDERMOTT: No. I think a lot of people are still afraid. Constructive redeployment or whatever you want to call it is really just a term. Jack Murtha will unite us in some specific directions that have to be taken. There are some things that have to be done.
We can‘t just keep talking about we‘re going to redeploy. When, where, how much, how will we do it, what‘s—and Jack is the kind of person that has the standing nationally and in the caucus to lead us in that direction and say, this is the best way to go.
There‘s nothing wrong with Steny. And nobody‘s saying he isn‘t a good leader. But Jack has demonstrated that on the toughest issue facing this country for the last six years, he had the courage to go spout say to the president, Mr. President, you are wrong. We must make a change. Nobody else said that in the leadership.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying that Congressman Steny Hoyer as Leader of the House, as leader of the Democratic majority, won‘t stand up hard enough against the president on Iraq?
MCDERMOTT: Jack Murtha will stand up stronger than anybody I know.
There‘s no question that some of us don‘t agree with all of his politics. But the fact is that on war, on the war in Iraq, he is the one who will be able to unite us. I don‘t think anybody else could come close his ability to do that.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congresswoman, back in 2002 a lot of Democrats joined the president. They were co-opted, talked into the war, whatever, given a bunch of arguments. It turns out the war wasn‘t fought for WMD, it was fought for geopolitical reasons in the Middle East. It‘s clear as hell, because the minute the president heard there was no WMD, it didn‘t change his policy because it wasn‘t based on WMD. We all know that now. Do you think it was a mistake for the Democrats to trust President Bush on the Middle East?
TAUSCHER: I was one of those Democrats, Chris, and I have consistently said that we were misled and that there was not only cooking the books on the WMD, but there was really cherry picking of intelligence and a hysteria created to force us to vote before the 2002 midterms, to make all of this a very political issue.
You know, back in 1990 when his father had the same situation except that Saddam Hussein has attacked a country, Kuwait and was occupying it, his father was wise enough to not force the Congress during the political time to take a vote and they didn‘t take the vote until they came back in 1991.
Look, let me just clear the record here. There is no difference between what Jack Murtha and Steny Hoyer are staying because they signed the very same letters to the president articulating what the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate say we should be doing and that is a phased redeployment.
Now details are coming. We are going to I think move very quickly to have a deployment of some troops, put a lot more responsibility on the Iraqi government that has been feckless and unable to get security in the country and people to work together.
But really, I think that we are more united then people want us to sound like we are. And we certainly are on the House side, as they are on the Senate side, the American people have spoken. They want us to make a big change of course in Iraq. We are going do that. But let‘s stick with the leaders that have brought us to the majority, and that‘s Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think that the president was playing a game politically by inviting Congresswoman Pelosi and Congressman Hoyer down to the White House together, so he could utilize Hoyer as the more moderate?
TAUSCHER: I am not sure that he understands the intricacies of who is who inside the caucus. You know, they do go down to have breakfasts all the time. I think that he has seen both Nancy and Steny together since 2003 when they became minority leader and minority whips. So I‘m not sure that he sat there and said, who am I going to invite? But the truth of the matter is, these are the people who got us into the majority and I think we should stick with them.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that was the game played by the president there, Congressman McDermott, to bring Steny down to show that they could good cop, bad cop him? They could work on Steny as the more moderate and isolate Nancy as the liberal?
MCDERMOTT: The president‘s worst nightmare is to have to sit at breakfast with Jack Murtha.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I would think he would think, too.
MCDERMOTT: Yes, and I think that it‘s clear that Steny has done a nice job. I mean, certainly he‘s been a good second person. But Jack will be a real leader. And the floor leader in the majority is different than the floor leader in the minority. This is the person who has to set the direction and the tone and really use the muscle to make things happen. It is not going be easy, what we have to do in Iraq.
But Jack is a uniter and he has the ability to say look, I have been there. I have been shot at. I‘ve had bullets go by me. I know what we need to do in this situation and I don‘t think there is any question that Jack is the guy that is going lead us on the No. 1 issue that the American people voted on on last Tuesday.
They want a change in the course and the president is going do everything in his power to seem to be making a change and still try and keep going down the neocon course. He does not yet think he cannot win. And the fact is that Jack said he can‘t win and he‘s got to be withdrawing the troops and start saving lives; 3,000 people have died, 1,000 of them since Jack came out and said we should do strategic redeployment. How many more do you need?
MATTHEWS: I think a lot of people share your suspicions. Thank you very much, congressman. You‘re both coming back, Congressman Jim McDermott, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California are staying with us.
Later in the show we‘re going to talk to former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey and the former head of the CIA‘s operations in Europe. He‘s going to be here to talk about that debate in Iraq. You are watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We are back with Congressman Jim McDermott, who‘s supporting Jack Murtha for House Majority Leader and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who‘s supporting Steny Hoyer for the same job.
Congresswoman, let me ask you about this. You try to get into all the agenda differences, so I‘ll give you a chance now because I know that‘s important besides Iraq. Do you think that there‘s going to be a lot of things done by the Democrats that the president will actually sign on to?
TAUSCHER: Yes, I wouldn‘t be surprised if the president‘s team is looking at the minimum wage and on immigration. Certainly his own party didn‘t help him on either part of it. And I think to a great part, other than Iraq and corruption, the American people wanted a raise for the middle class and they want to find a way to regularize without rewarding people that are in the country illegally.
And in my state of California, we need a guest worker program that doesn‘t allow people to come in a country illegally and finds ways for employers to have a consistent work force. So I think that there is a few things perhaps that they may be wanting to work with us on.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that actually after all the signing and all the ceremony is done, and all the handshakes and high five‘s, do you think we‘ll actually have an enforceable, liberal immigration policy that is not only liberal and meets our humane concerns and our economic concerns, but also is actually enforced. No more illegals coming in. Do you believe that is possible?
TAUSCHER: I think that is what we have to have. I think everybody understands that the solution has to be a blended solution of enforcement to deal with the problems of the past and the fact that we have about 12 to 14 million people that are here illegally in an underground economy. Plus, we need to have the reviving of our economy and of our population by immigrants. That‘s been the success of the American government and the American people for well over 200 years.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask the same question to Congressman McDermott. In the non-Iraq party of the agenda, do you think that President Bush will deal with the Democrats on these kinds of issues or will he just say no?
MCDERMOTT: I think there will be some that will be very hard for him to turn down, like the minimum wage increase. We haven‘t done anything on that in so long that there has to be something done.
In this election, a lot of states did it. So it‘s very clear the American people are ready for an increase in the minimum wage. But I think on some of the other things like a health care policy or doing something about reducing the rate on loans for college students and some of the other things on Ms. Pelosi‘s six in ‘06 agenda, I think they are not going to want the Democrats to success and I think the president will do all kinds of things that he can do to stop us from having it.
You‘ve got to remember, the next thing that happens is the ‘08 election. And in the ‘08 election, you‘re going to see somebody come in and try and use what‘s happened in 2006 and ‘07 and ‘08 as a way to put another Republican in like George Bush. We have to think about that. And we want to put the president in a position where he has to say to the American people, “I don‘t want that kind of thing for the American people.” That will then become a campaign issue in 2008.
MATTHEWS: OK. Congressman McDermott, thank you.
MCDERMOTT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. I‘m sorry. I didn‘t hear. Thank you very much, Congressman, for coming on the program. It was nice seeing you at the airport yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher from California. Thank you very much for coming on.
Up next, former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey is coming here. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Dick Armey, who was the House majority leader from 1995-2003, says Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for their defeat last week. So what happens now that the Democrats have control of the House?
Dick Armey now with FreedomWorks.com. Now works with FreedomWorks.com. He joins us.
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, thanks for coming back. Well, you were right.
It was a rout.
ARMEY: Yes. It was very painful to watch. I sat up election eve.
I‘m sure we all did. And you know, you‘re watching your friends. You see
you see guys that got themselves in trouble and hurt themselves. You see others that you have to see as, you know, they were just sort of there and just got picked up by the wind and taken on.
MATTHEWS: It‘s amazing...
ARMEY: But it‘s not nice to watch.
MATTHEWS: It‘s amazing to see somebody like the great athlete and statesman, I guess you‘d have to say, Jim Ryan, getting blown away. And Jim Leach, sort of the college professor of the House. And Nancy Johnson going. And Curt Weldon going and Fitzpatrick going. You know, when you‘re in—Ann Northup going.
ARMEY: Yes, I watched that. I watched that in ‘94. And of course, on the election eve ‘94, my emotional mindset was totally different than what I went through the other night.
And some years later, I got to thinking about what it was like for Dick Gephardt and some of the leaders in the Democrat Party when that happened in ‘94. And I always felt that I was sympathetic with them, but I had not—really had no desire to be empathetic with them.
But I went through it that night, and realizing what it‘s like. It‘s not a pleasant night to watch your friends go down. But you have to then have an honest appraisal of what went wrong. What did we do wrong? What did we do wrong? If you sit around and say, “What happened to us,” you‘re missing the point.
When you‘re the majority, you‘re the incumbent and you lose, it‘s something you did or failed to do. And you‘d better understand that.
MATTHEWS: What is it in human nature that once you get to the Hill and you go in there like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, and you‘re constantly told the first couple months in there—even as a staffer, I got this thrown at me—“Well, stop being so squeamish. Stop being so particular, or whatever the word is, clean, because this is the way things are done. The patronage, the perquisites of office are distributed unevenly. That‘s the way it works.”
ARMEY: I don‘t know what that is. I‘ve talked about that. I‘ve written about it in my book. If it‘s about you, you lose. If it‘s about power, you lose. This town is a very seductive town. And it‘s very much personality, status, and station centered.
So people think, “Well, I‘m the chairman. I am described in the ‘Post‘ as the powerful chairman. I get to have what I want done in my committee.” And pretty soon you get so involved with yourself in the job.
I remember one time sitting back towards the end of my years as majority leader, and just out of the blue I heard myself saying, “I got over myself and this job a long time ago.” That‘s a good thing to get to. And I think what happens is some people don‘t get to that. In fact, they get more into themselves in the job and eventually, it‘s going to tear them down.
MATTHEWS: You know, I remember that if you get to be chairman of a committee, if your party‘s in power, you get to decide where you want to go on your cadel (ph), the congressional delegations, where you want to go, who you want to go with you. You get to decide people on the other side of the aisle, which of them are lucky enough to be your friend and travel with you and which ones are not cool and they don‘t travel with you.
MATTHEWS: And people would be amazed how this thing works.
Let me ask you about your party, the Republican Party. Rudy Giuliani has apparently taken out papers to begin to formalize his ambition to become the Republican nominee next time.
Do you think a guy with his reputation and his position on issues, the “who he is” question, can he do it? Is it possible he could win the nomination of your party?
ARMEY: I don‘t think it‘s possible. I have been watching this process in our party. We have got—we have really gotten entrenched in what I call base politics. It‘s happened a lot on the other side of the aisle, too. Again, I will say the Lieberman case is the best example of where like the base kicks a guy out of office in his primary, then he comes back and wins the general.
What happened right now is the base is so hyperactive and so demanding that there‘s very little room for a candidate in the center to succeed. And I think that‘s going be a very big problem for people like Giuliani, and I think it will also show up on the other side of the aisle, as well.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying that your party is only open to cultural conservatives?
ARMEY: I think our party has to learn how to achieve a balanced representation of the cultural evangelical conservative with what I call the pocketbook conservative.
We need to get back to the Reagan vision, the big tent vision that says we‘ve got a fair opportunity serve everybody who believes in freedom. If freedom is your common denominator, and you understand this, the duty of the government to protect individual liberty, we‘ve got room to work on a legislative agenda that will accommodate the things you understand and believe. There‘s plenty of room to do that.
MATTHEWS: But I don‘t understand. You say that and I think you know your party as well as anybody. But yet, I keep hearing these words from southerners, who say that Rudy Giuliani is the most popular luncheon speaker you can get in the big cities of the South.
ARMEY: Well, he is a very entertaining speaker, so—but what it does is it boils down in the final analysis to the demands that get placed on people.
I mean, it‘s like can you imagine anybody, Republican or Democrat, going into Iowa and saying, “I am against ethanol subsidies”?
ARMEY: The fact of the matter is once you get down to, “All right. I really want your vote, and the primary is coming up and the vote is next month on Tuesday,” they‘re going to start putting their feet if the fire and come up with where are you on these issues?
MATTHEWS: So you have to be against abortion and against gay marriage, et cetera, to be an eligible candidate for the Republican nomination for president?
ARMEY: I think you probably do, but you also have to have a base that compels these positions as a fundamental to getting that core vote on which you stand in the process. That has enough understanding, sophistication to say we don‘t need you to make this a conversation piece every time you go on the campaign trail. Talk about things that have a greater interest to the American people, broader appeal and have a sense of latitude.
They did that in the ‘80s with the Reagan coalition.
MATTHEWS: Well, if it was in my...
ARMEY: They haven‘t done that recently.
MATTHEWS: I would hate to see the press play that role. Every time a guy runs, he doesn‘t quite fit the mold, and the press asks the same stupid question over and over and over again to the point that nobody‘s qualified unless they‘re the blue plate special of the right or the left. We‘re not helping democracy.
Thank you very much.
ARMEY: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Dick Armey.
Up next, we‘ll dig into Rudy Giuliani‘s chances. Plus the fights for leadership and over the war with Republican strategist Ed Rogers, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and MSNBC‘s own Boston bred Mike Barnacle.
You‘re watching HARDBALL from Boston on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Less than a week after a big election, members of Congress are now jockeying for positions of power. Big surprise there.
Plus, the race for the White House has already begun as Rudy Giuliani today followed John McCain in filing papers to set up an exploratory committee for a possible 2008 run for president.
Here to talk about it are the HARDBALLERS, Republican strategist Ed Rogers, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnacle.
Let me start with Ed Rogers.
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Is there any other way to reed this other than that Rudy Giuliani is running for president?
ROGERS: Well, he‘s obviously—he‘s not ruling it out. He‘s going through the process. In the end of the day, I don‘t think he will run, and I don‘t think it will serve our party well to reject him, but he‘s wrong on so many issues that our base cares about, it‘s going to be—it‘s hard to see how he gets there.
MATTHEWS: Why does he win every poll of Republican voters, not the leaders, not the church folk...
ROGERS: Yes, it‘s a good question.
MATTHEWS: ... from actual Republicans, from the suburbs, from the cities? If you look at all the Republicans who actually vote, they say Rudy is their guy.
ROGERS: Yes. Because he has a great reservoir of respect and good will left over from 9/11. He‘s worked it hard. He‘s been in Alabama. He‘s been in Washington state. He‘s been in Maine. He‘s campaigned hard for Republicans everywhere, and he‘s built up a huge reservoir of good will and respect. And he‘s got a sterling name in the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: But the church mice have the power to reject him, right?
ROGERS: Well, the conservatives do. That‘s for sure.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let me go to Mike Barnacle, who‘s sitting with me.
I guess we know who the church mice are. But they have this power, like the mullahs. It does not matter what the elected officials think. You can‘t be a Republican candidate for president unless the mullahs say you can.
MIKE BARNACLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, no. Chris, Doogie Howser is going to be the Republican nominee before Rudy Giuliani?
MATTHEWS: Why? The people love him.
BARNACLE: The people love him, but look at the delegates who go to Republican conventions. They‘re not going to nominate this guy. The guy lived with a couple of gay guys.
MATTHEWS: Well, he didn‘t participate in that, not that we know of.
BARNACLE: I know, but he‘s pro-choice.
MATTHEWS: That is—by the way, aren‘t most Republicans pro-choice?
BARNACLE: Most Republicans who I know are.
MATTHEWS: I think when you count it, it may be at least even-steven.
Let me go to Steve McMahon. You‘re the campaign manager for a lot of Democrats. Let‘s talk about Republican for a second here, Rudy Giuliani.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
MATTHEWS: Wouldn‘t he be tough to beat if he ever got the nomination?
MCMAHON: He‘d be tough to beat if he could ever get the nomination.
But you know, the Republican Party primary nominating contest, it‘s—nominations are passed down like wealth in the Republican family from front runner to front runner.
And so this time the front runner...
ROGERS: Good line. Not full of authority (ph).
MCMAHON: This time the front runner is John McCain, and then he‘s got the second problem, which is the ideological problem. In addition to being pro-gay rights and pro-choice, he humiliated his last wife by having a very open, flagrant public affair.
MATTHEWS: You are such a pol. Here we are, a week after an election, and you are smearing this guy.
MCMAHON: This doesn‘t comport with the family values of the Republican Party. I‘m not smearing him.
MATTHEWS: You‘re a week out. Week into the campaign cycle and you‘re doing it.
MCMAHON: I‘m not smearing him.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. I think you had a better point before you started with the Donna Hanover stuff here, which you‘re...
MCMAHON: It‘s been on the front page of every newspaper.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know.
ROGERS: I haven‘t seen it.
MATTHEWS: This ain‘t the front page. Let me go to Mike Barnacle.
Mike, it seems to me that somebody just said something brilliant before they said something that wasn‘t. That was Steve. It is like the—it‘s almost like the British royal family. You don‘t get to be king until your mother is dead. And she‘s 90, and you‘re 75.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what seems to be going on now in the Republican Party. Bob Dole finally got the nomination, what, 20 years late.
BARNACLE: Yes. You know, it‘s like they‘re like baseball managers and the British royal family.
MATTHEWS: After they‘ve been fired five times.
BARNACLE: The Republican delegates would seem to me from their behavior have similarities to the British royal family in that their thinning bloodlines result in lack of logic. Giuliani could win. He could win, but they won‘t nominate him.
ROGER: One front runner we‘re for right now is Hillary Clinton. It would suit me fine if she got the nomination.
MATTHEWS: You‘re—everybody has got their guns loaded.
OK, let me start with you, Ed. Would you like to win next time or have the right candidate for your parties? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ROGERS: I‘m for winning. I don‘t think that losing in ‘06 was good for us in ‘08.
ROGERS: I don‘t ever think winning is—I don‘t ever think losing is winning. Losing is bad. I want us to win in ‘08.
MATTHEWS: So you wouldn‘t run Brownback just to make a point?
ROGERS: Hey, I would run anybody. You laugh. We laugh. Look for somebody to come up out of the pack. The phenomenon candidate. The most exciting thing in American politics is somebody that goes from nowhere to somewhere real quick. Bill Clinton in 1992.
MCMAHON: Yes, Rick Santorum and George Allen are...
ROGERS: Looking for a job.
MCMAHON: Got a lot of time on their hands. They might be interesting candidates.
ROGERS: I don‘t know if they have a foothold or not. I don‘t—I don‘t see that happening.
MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re the Republican here. Run through the points. First, second, third. Who do you got right now? Pretend you‘re Bill Schneider right now from CNN. OK? You know how he does that? First place, the most important, second place the second important, third‘s the third most important. I‘m doing the Al Franken imitation of him.
What do you think is the most likely candidate of your candidate right now?
ROGERS: The person with the best odds, but they‘re probably no better than 5-1, is John McCain. We are hierarchical. We nominate front runners. It‘s easiest to see how he becomes the front runner.
The candidate that‘s done the best in the last year and sort of come up out of nowhere is Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts.
The candidate with the biggest foothold, the emotional foothold in the party, and who can do the best at the multi-candidate debates and in the Lincoln Day circuit is Newt Gingrich.
But that leaves a huge maneuvering room on the right for somebody to emerge. I don‘t think the field is full yet. I think you‘re going to see a lot more people get in the race.
MATTHEWS: But Newt is sort of your Al Sharpton though, isn‘t he? He just clouds up the room but he doesn‘t get anywhere.
ROGERS: Hey, Newt Gingrich is no Al Sharpton. Newt Gingrich is a legitimately...
MATTHEWS: He‘s not that smart.
ROGERS: Hey, come on. Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House in the United States of America. He led the Republican Revolution that took the Congress.
MATTHEWS: Then what happened? Why isn‘t he speaker anymore? What happened? I‘m sorry, I forgot what happened.
ROGERS: He hit some bumps and it didn‘t work out too good. And he stepped aside. And he‘s cooled off for a while. And in the Republican Party and in America generally. we believe in redemption. So now he can come back.
MATTHEWS: But Rudy can have a gay roommate and he‘s finished, but Newt can have a girlfriend on the Housing Committee and that‘s all right.
ROGERS: That‘s the way you characterize it. I don‘t agree with that.
MATTHEWS: What did I get wrong? I don‘t want to get the facts wrong.
What was my fact that was wrong?
ROGERS: Well, I don‘t know anything about Rudy‘s Giuliani‘s roommate.
But it‘s going to be about issues, it‘s not going to be about roommates.
MATTHEWS: It‘s interesting how the rules are kept around here. If you have even a gay as a friend, you‘re out of limits. But if you have babes all over the House gallery, it‘s OK.
We‘ll be right back with Ed Rogers, Steve McMahon and Mike Barnicle.
Stay with us.
And later we‘re going to talk with the former head of the CIA‘s operations in Europe about Iraq.
This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with the Hardballers, Republican strategist Ed Rogers, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle.
Let‘s run through the leadership races, because they‘re all going to be over in a couple of days right now.
Steve McMahon, let me ask you about this race between Steny Hoyer—not between—between Steny Hoyer and Jack Murtha. I think it‘s going be Steny based upon the numbers so far. Is that your reading?
MCMAHON: Yes, that‘s my reading. I think it kind of depends on whether the endorsement from Speaker Pelosi—or Speaker-to-be Pelosi was a “I‘m going to vote for my friend Jack Murtha” or whether it was a “I‘m going to vote for my friend Jack Murtha, and the first real test of the Democratic caucus is hanging together on this vote. He‘s the person I want.”
MATTHEWS: Will she go that far? I haven‘t heard that yet.
MCMAHON: I haven‘t heard it either. And she certainly has gone as far as the first indication. I don‘t know if she‘ll go that far. If she doesn‘t, I think you may be right. If she does, I think it‘s going to be a real Donnybrook.
MATTHEWS: Yes, what do you think Mike?
I think that‘s a tough call for her. I remember when Tip O‘Neill was forced to deal with the fact that he had Phil Burton from California on the left running against the moderate Jim Wright. Never until the day he died told anybody how he voted. And yet, in this case, Nancy‘s out there for Murtha. That‘s unusual.
BARNICLE: I‘ll tell you one. She is tough. I mean, all of the stuff that‘s been written about and talked about, you know, the first woman as Speaker. She is tough. I mean, she‘s more from Baltimore than she is San Francisco.
The Murtha thing, I don‘t know. Reading it, reading her statement, it would seem to me, just reading it, is that she‘s saying, you know, I‘m for Jack Murtha, he‘s my guy, I‘m loyal to him.
MATTHEWS: Is she going to castrate Steny Hoyer if he gets in there?
Is she going say, you may be there in form, but you‘re not there in fact?
BARNICLE: Well, what has she done to him already? I mean, the two of them...
MATTHEWS: Well, she‘s made it clear she‘s with Jack. And we‘re trying to find if—look at it from the other side, would Ed. What do you see that‘s going on here?
ROGERS: Well, unfortunately for me, neither Steny Hoyer or Murtha are good bad guys. They don‘t look irrational. And so I don‘t want either one of them to win, particularly Murtha. He has a lot of goodwill and respect on our side. So I hope he‘s not in the Democrat leadership.
But I am surprised. Like what Mike was saying, I‘m surprised that Pelosi is wading into this...
MATTHEWS: I am, too.
ROGERS: ... and making her choice known. And that means she is going to be a pretty strong Speaker, and she‘s not going to be shy about putting her team together.
MATTHEWS: The other thing is, though, Steve, will she run somebody against Steny next time? Just keep running people against him until she finds the winner? And if he‘s not her guy, why is he going to become her guy?
MCMAHON: Just for sport.
No, I think actually, whoever is elected this time is going have it until they either retire or the Democrats are retired. But I do think she‘s going be a tough Speaker. And I think she‘s going to exercise pretty firm control over her committee chairmen, over the agenda of the Democratic Party, and over, you know, what appears on television, who appears on television and all those thing, because, you know, she‘s got a majority to protect now. And that‘s a significant responsibility.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Ed, about your party the Republican Party. Is it going be the same party that came out of last election? Is it going to be Boehner and Blunt still the leaders on the House side?
ROGERS: Well, from a general public point of view, it‘s going to be some pretty anonymous people. I think Boehner, who calls it the DeLay episode, he‘s been in office less than a year.
Having said that, it‘s a crowded race. The candidates are a lot alike ideologically. It‘s not like we‘re going to have a big ideological shift. You may see some members that want different energy or a different emphasis. But our leadership‘s not going to be radically different.
MATTHEWS: How does that guy Boehner keep that tan? What‘s he do?
I‘m serious. Does‘ he have a golf course in his backyard?
ROGERS: You‘ve got to ask Boehner about that. But he looks good, doesn‘t he?
MATTHEWS: He looks amazing.
ROGERS: He‘s a nice looking guy.
MATTHEWS: He looks like he just came out of a Florida tannery or something. You‘re laughing, Steve, because you envy him, right?
ROGERS: I sense jealousy.
MCMAHON: You know, Irish guys like me just don‘t ever get those tans.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MCMAHON: We can spend the entire summer in the sun.
MATTHEWS: Remember Grace Kelly stayed out of the sun her whole life and kept her beauty that way. You got to...
MATTHEWS: We are the ice people, you know, we‘re not the sun people.
We‘ve got to stay up there in the clouds, right, Mike?
BARNICLE: SP 67, or whatever it is.
MATTHEWS: How about 30, 35 at least.
Let me ask you about the leadership fight, because if it ends up Pelosi—if we end up with Pelosi. Pelosi‘s the toughest girl on the block—the toughest woman on the block. Does everybody agree that she‘s going to be the boss on the Hill.
BARNICLE: No question.
ROGERS: And Mike, in drawing a line in the sand, with endorsing Murtha.
MATTHEWS: And also fighting Harman for Intelligence Committee, taking that away from her and giving it to anybody else, rather than somebody she doesn‘t like.
MCMAHON: Alcee Hastings. I mean, yes. Isn‘t it an interesting question, though, if Murtha does lose to Steny Hoyer, what then does Speaker Pelosi do with Jack Murtha. What slot does she have for him?
ROGERS: Torment him, tame him.
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘ve already got Jim Clyburn coming up from the black caucus in South Carolina. He‘s going be the number three guy. He‘s going to be Whip. And number four guy‘s going to be Rahm Emanuel, the guy who just won all the elections for them. So I‘m not sure there‘s an open slot. Except there‘s another job, it‘s the unofficial one, it‘s sitting on her lap every day, coming in like Murtha used to do with Tip. And that‘s not a bad job, by the way, although, George Miller already has that job, right? Isn‘t that what you hear, Steve? George Miller comes in and is the real eminence grise of this new leadership?
MCMAHON: Well, I mean, he is certainly a—he is certainly close to Nancy Pelosi and he is very, very smart and he‘s very capable. But I think the eminence grise of this operation is the speaker-elect herself. She is going to run that ship. She has shown already how tough she is. You know, she pulled back John Dingell in a conversation about impeachment hearings. I think she is going rule with a pretty iron fist. And good for her.
MATTHEWS: I have a lot of thoughts about—I am curious whether she is going to invite Steny Hoyer into those pre-press conference meetings every morning and discuss the leadership plans together, or she is going to decide the leadership plans by herself, and he gets to hear the story the same second the press does. That is the interesting question I would like to ask.
Anyway, thank you, Ed Rogers, Steve McMahon and Mike Barnicle. When we return, we will talk to former CIA Officer Tyler Drumheller about what the Iraq Study Group‘s recommendations could be for the war. Is Jim Baker the new Chinese Gordon? You are watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. How will that Iraq Study Group under the direction of Jim Baker, the former secretary of state, affect the war in Iraq and how much does the president have to fear if the Democrat-controlled Congress pushes her report on the administration‘s use of intelligence in the run-up to the war?
Tyler Drumheller headed the CIA‘s clandestine operations division for Europe until he retired just last year. He‘s the highest ranking CIA officer to write an account of the run-up to the war called “On the Brink.” It‘s out just now. It‘s an insider‘s account of how the White House compromised American intelligence.
Mr. Drumheller, what happens if the Democrats use their new subpoena power on Capitol Hill they got from the majority victory they just won and start calling people in from the vice president‘s office, from the civilians in the Defense Department, and they asked them how they cooked the books on the Iranian—the Iraqi intelligence before the war?
TYLER DRUMHELLER, AUTHOR, “ON THE BRINK”: Well, I think what they are going to find is that, as I said in the book and said other times, is that the policy was already decided on, and that the intelligence was cherry-picked to fit—was cherry-picked to fit the policy. And it‘s going to go on, and it could turn into a real mess, because they think it just—as the situation has deteriorated in Iraq, the fact that they were not able to go back and come to grips with the way it began is one of the factors that led them to where they are today, that they can‘t—that they couldn‘t get out of it because they couldn‘t—they could not see where they had been.
MATTHEWS: I know you write it very well in the book. You talk about all the trips the vice president took to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and how he kept, even after the war, kept searching, searching, searching, searching, like the Flying Dutchman trying to desperately find evidence that he was right about going to the war for WMD.
DRUMHELLER: Well, even after the—I mean, the infamous Curveball case that everybody always talks about, which we were—the Europe division was involved in, in trying to verify whether it was a good case or not—in fact we already pretty well decided it was a bad case before the war started. After the war started, the pressure actually picked up to get to—get access to it and to see what—and to get direct access to Curveball and to see where he was going with it, and if he was a good—if he was a good source or not, whereas you would think it would have happened before the war started. But anyway, the pressure was actually greater after March 2003 than before.
MATTHEWS: Will we ever get intelligence if we have the Democrats in the House do the dirty work of getting subpoenas so that people will actually be forced to tell the American people why we really went to war in Iraq? Will we ever get those deep-seeded discussions about the road to Jerusalem is through Baghdad, that going into Baghdad and taking over that country and democratizing it would reform the whole Middle East and bring peace to the region, that ultimately big—what do you want to call it, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for these people, these ideologues. Will we ever get that out of them?
DRUMHELLER: I think in the end, if they use the subpoena power, and it‘s always, having come into the agency right at the end of the Church hearings, having gone through the Iran-Contra, the subpoena is always—it always—it sends sort of chills up your spine. But the fact is, these people—I think they don‘t give themselves enough credit, in the sense that they really did believe this. Many of them really believed that if they proceeded this way, no matter what the intelligence showed, that they would find what they were looking for at the end. This wasn‘t—in most cases, it really wasn‘t cynicism. It was really sort of true—a true—a group of true believers.
MATTHEWS: If that‘s true, why did they continue to push the idea that there was a nuclear capability? And even after they were warned by the CIA to stop talking like that, the vice president and whoever else said, Scooter Libby, allowed the president of the United States to claim, as we went to war, that they did possess some sort of nuclear program that could hurt us in America, in America, in this territory we are in right now?
DRUMHELLER: I think once we got into this, they were—they found it impossible to go back and admit they were wrong. One thing about this White House, they never admit they are wrong. And so they—and so what had happened is they went into it believing—because I talked to a very senior person about this, that dealt with Middle Eastern policy, and they said before—right before the war started, they said—I said, you must have something else besides Curveball. And they said, we don‘t really, but when we get to Baghdad, we are going to find all this stuff in warehouses.
And in fact they were, you know, as the Germans said, they were holding thumbs. They were whistling past the graveyard.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you quickly, I only have a minute left, Tyler.
Your book is great. “On the Brink,” it‘s about how we got into this mess. How do we get out of it? Your expertise, does it tell you that there will be something in this Easter basket that‘s coming—or Christmas basket that‘s coming from Jim Baker, something that is new in terms of policy?
DRUMHELLER: I think there are only two ways out of it. I saw Senator McCain yesterday, and there are only two ways. One is to go back with a huge army, reconquer the country. That‘s not going to happen, obviously, realistically.
So the other way is to fall back on what I think Secretary Baker will probably do, which is what he specializes in, which is cobbling together a very arcane, complicated scenario involving all the neighboring countries and their clients inside Iraq and pulling them together.
That is probably the only way out now.
DRUMHELLER: It‘s tricky, though.
MATTHEWS: I think we are asking too much of this guy. I am thinking of Charles “Chinese” Gordon, who was sent to Khartoum with nothing except his prestige. I think it‘s very challenging. And he lost his head.
Thank you very much, Tyler Drumheller, author of “On the Brink.”
Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.”
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