updated 1/2/2007 10:53:35 AM ET 2007-01-02T15:53:35

Guests: John Edwards, Bob Shrum, Pat Buchanan, Roger Simon, Lynne Sweet

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Sunrise, sunset, a nice guy president Gerald Ford is honored.  And upbeat candidate John Edwards announces for the office.  Our democracy beats on.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I am Chris Matthews.  And welcome to HARDBALL.  Tonight, the world awaits the execution of Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi judge says that Saddam will be hanged by tomorrow.  Will Saddam‘s death stir festivities among the Shia over there in Iraq?  Will it add to the anger of the Sunnis.  Will it stir up more civil war.  If so, the Pentagon says the U.S. military is on a heightened state of alert in case there is a surge of violence in Iraq.  The White House put out a comment on anticipation of the execution saying that is a matter for the Iraqi people and we are observers to that process. 

Right. 

But John Edwards starts the race for presidency.  I asked him today‘s big question: should we, Americans, send more American troops into Iraq? 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:  I think it is a mistake to escalate this war.  I think it is a mistake to have this McCain doctrine adopted as a policy by the United States.  I think what it does is it sends a signal that we are going be there forever, or for a long time.  It takes responsibility away from the Iraqis and there is no military solution to what is happening in Iraq, the only solution is a political solution. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the hawkish position of Senator McCain is going to be an issue in the general election of 2008? 

EDWARDS:  Assuming that the situation in Iraq is still going on and has not improved, yes, I think it‘ll be an issue.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your own hopes to win the Democratic nomination in 2008.  You‘ve been through the primary season before, you know about the Iowa caucuses, you‘ve been through them, you did well in them.

Can you beat Hillary and Obama in that first big test in Iowa?

EDWARDS:  I don‘t think there‘s any way to know that yet.  I mean, we‘ve just started.  The campaign‘s beginning.  I think I start in a very good place in Iowa and a very good place in New Hampshire, where I am today. 

That‘s what campaigns are about, Chris.  We‘ll find out.  I think it depends on who people want to embrace as the next leader of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you believe that you have a unique selling point up against Hillary and perhaps Obama?  I‘ll ask you that question, they use it in business:  What‘s your unique selling point as the Democratic candidate for 2008?

EDWARDS:  I think I have a different perspective on what needs to be done in this country.  I think that some people believe that we should campaign, hope that our next—our candidate we vote for will be elected president, and somehow that president is going to go out there and solve all our problems.

I just think that‘s not going to happen.  If we want to actually change this country, the only way to do it is for America to get involved.

You know, you‘ve heard about Bill Clinton and others talking about individual responsibility.  I‘m not talking about individual responsibility.  I‘m talking about responsibility for your country.

We want people to take responsibility for their country, to not just wait for the government to solve their problems, but the government and Americans to work together to solve problems.  Which is why I‘ve been talking about Americans actually going out there and taking action instead of waiting for the next election.

I think that‘s different.

MATTHEWS:  President Bush, in his last press conference, last week, said his idea was for America to go shopping.  He literally said that.  What do you make of that as a way to engage the public in our national cause?

EDWARDS:  What planet is he living on?  I have absolutely no idea.  I mean, this is the man that‘s in charge of this war in Iraq.  You know, after September 11th we had an extraordinary moment of unity and a proud feeling of patriotism.  I had it myself.  All of us had it.  And it was a great opportunity for us to tap into the will of the American people to do great things together, not just for themselves, but for America.

See, I don‘t think that will and feeling has gone away.  And we need -

the next president of the United States needs to tap into it and say, not in an ideological way, not in a partisan way, but say:  These are the great things that we can do as Americans, but you can‘t sit home and complain that somebody else is not doing their job.  If you actually want America to be great, you‘re going to have to step out and take some responsibility yourself and do something.

MATTHEWS:  Does it scare you that a president of limited rhetorical ability, like President Bush, was able to turn this country, not against the terrorists who attacked us 9/11, but against French fries, against the French, against Europe, and put us all out there alone in the world—it was idiotic at the time—against the Dixie Chicks?  Does it scare you that the power of the presidency can be used in that fashion?

EDWARDS:  Of course, it does.  And I think what America has now been reminded of is the maturity and the judgment that‘s required of anybody who sits in the Oval Office, and what an enormous and serious responsibility it is.

It‘s a very—at the end of the day, we need Americans to engage and take responsibility, Chris.  But the presidency is a very lonely job.  And the president of the United States will have lots of people giving him lots of—him or her—lots of advice.  And at the end of the day, it‘s a lonely responsibility, and we have to trust that person to make these decisions.

MATTHEWS:  During World War II, President Roosevelt—and I think Republicans would agree with this, too—was very successful in engaging the American people in the war effort.  I mean, the elite fought that war, most of the Ivy League guys went out and fought that war.  It wasn‘t just fought by the regular people. 

We had tire rationing; we had rationing of food, like butter and things like that.  We had war bonds where people were asked to buy into the government to help the government borrow the money to fight the war.

How do we engage the public in the war effort today?

EDWARDS:  Well, it‘s a good question.  And actually I would make—draw a parallel between what you‘re just describing, which many have called the greatest generation, and that was a time when the president didn‘t just take action through the government, the president said to the American people, if we really want to do the things we need to do, support the war effort, which you just asked about, we‘re going to have to do it together.  And you‘re going to have to get off your duff and go out there and show how much you love your country.

And he inspired people to do that.  And that‘s exactly the kind of thing we need again.

Now, I think there are multiple levels on which we can do it.  You just asked about the war.  I think this is an area where the decision-making about the war is primarily the president of the United States‘ responsibility, but speaking out and making our views heard is the responsibility of America.

Doing something about our energy situation, which is a total disaster

both our energy and what‘s happening with global warming.

This is something that the government alone can‘t fix.

My own view about it is we ought to ask America to be patriotic about something other than just war.

We ought to ask Americans to be willing to conserve; to be willing to sacrifice. 

We can‘t solve this energy problem with just innovation, which a lot of politicians love to talk about.

It‘s going to actually require people to be willing to take action individually, on behalf of their country, which I think is what this is about.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how do you kill the habit we all have?  If we can afford a gallon or tank of gas, we get up on Saturday morning, we go to the mall—I mean, right past my house on Connecticut Avenue, the trash (ph) rush begins Saturday morning.

I mean, people get in their cars—I‘m not knocking it.  It‘s a habit we all have.  Head to the malls, in the car, put in 20 miles, 30 miles right away on Saturday morning.

How do you get out of that habit if that‘s the way we live?  And we live pretty far away from public transportation. 

How do we stop driving our cars all day?

EDWARDS:  That‘s a good question.  We‘re all conditioned that way, Chris.  Everybody is.

And I think, first of all, the country has to be impressed with the notion of what‘s at stake.

If you‘re under the age of 60, everybody thinks that global warming is something for their grandchildren, at the worst, and it may never happen.  If you‘re under the age of 60, you could be affected by global warming.

And I think we need a president who leads us in the direction of people being willing to take the action that‘s necessary for America.

MATTHEWS:  You think Al Gore made a mistake back in 2000 when he was told by his consultants—and I know this is part of your thinking, now, because we‘ve talked about it—where he had a hunch, a serious passion, in fact, about the environment.  And yet, his sharpies around him said, oh, don‘t talk about that.  That will make you look like a tree hugger.

So don‘t talk about what you care most about.  Was that a mistake for Gore back in 2000?

EDWARDS:  Yes, and he knows it.

He should have revealed his heart and his passion for something that -

there aren‘t many people on the planet that know more about it than he does.  And it would have shown what his character was, the kind of—we‘ve seen it, actually.  I think he‘s been extraordinary in the time since that election in promoting this cause and making a huge issue out of it.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be right back with Senator John Edwards.  He announced for president just yesterday.  He‘s touring the early caucuses and the early primary sites these days.  And we‘ll get an update on some of his positions he‘s going to take.

And what about his rivals and some other people running for president, too? 

You‘re watching “Hardball” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  More with presidential candidate John Edwards.  how does he plan to be Hillary and Obama?

When HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We‘re back with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who has announced for president. 

Senator Edwards, it seems to me that the toughest challenge economically in the country is to make the right choice about globalization.  We have a Dow Jones Average which is way up there in the stratosphere, over 12,000, booming on certain ways.  In macroeconomic terms, we‘re doing great, and yet we‘ve got whole areas of the country that are dying.  You go across this country—I‘ve said it so many times.  Spencerville, Ohio, Michigan City in Indiana—these towns have nothing left but a Blockbuster movie place and no movie theaters and maybe a diner. 

What are we going do to restore the industrial base of America?  Can it be done? 

EDWARDS:  It‘s hard.  It‘s a very difficult challenge.  The economy and this global economy that we live in today makes a couple of things clear.  One is that if you have capital and you‘re highly educated or just if you just have capital, you‘re going to do very well.  And those are the people who are doing well. 

Capital is efficient.  It goes to the place where it‘s going to be most productive.  People who are highly educated and have unique skills do great competing in the global economy. 

The problem is everybody else struggles.  And that‘s what you‘re describing.  And it‘s what my own father, who had a high school education and worked in a mill—we‘ve been through the same thing in my own family.  And we only saw the edge of globalization.  We didn‘t see it in this full flavor that it has today. 

So I think the bottom line is—I don‘t want to take too long with this—but I think the bottom line is the most critical things for us to do are educate our kids.  We need to focus on science, math, technology, the places where we can remain on the cutting edge.  We need to be leading on medical research, things like—some controversial issues like stem cell research.  We can‘t let that go to another country.  We have to lead.

It‘s the thing—and one --- if I can add one last thing.  I think that what America has focused a great deal over the last few years on violent, radical Islam as a great threat to America.  And it is a very serious issues. 

But the second serious issue that‘s gotten very little attention is the emergence of China as a huge economic and military force.  And their military is largely opaque.  We know very little about what they‘re doing in China militarily.  And what—our distraction with—it‘s not a distraction, it‘s an important issue. 

But our focus—our obsession, I guess I should say, with radical Islam, which is important because we have to survive, the planet has to survive, but it‘s led us away from dealing with the other huge challenge which America faces, which the growth and emergence of China. 

MATTHEWS:  Can we get out of the global marketplace, in terms of trading and labor and technology?  Can we tighten up our trade policies and make it what we call “fair trade” and close the door a bit on globalization?  Can we do that or not?

EDWARDS:  I think what we should be doing is a combination of being smart, creative, innovative, investing in education, technology, et cetera, focus on science and the areas that we need to focus on. 

And I think we need a modified trade policy.  We have to trade.  That‘s never going change.  We should want to trade.  But we should trade in a way that has more fairness, that has standards in it for the trade agreements that we entered into with other countries.  Trade—standards for things like labor, environmental standards, but standards that can actually be met by those countries so that we help raise the standards and we don‘t use it as a way just to avoid trade. 

MATTHEWS:  Now, because I keep thinking about, you know, Toyota‘s number one in the world right now and Ford‘s had so many problems and our auto industry‘s had so many problems, our steel industry has always been in trouble as long as we‘ve been around, you and I. 

Can you close the door and protect those industries without paying a price? 

EDWARDS:  No, I don‘t think—protectionism does not work.  But that doesn‘t mean we can‘t trade better and more effectively.  And we‘ve seen some of the mistakes that have been made in trade agreements in the past.  And I think they can be done in a way that makes—not only creates strength in other countries and their ability to lift up economically, but also makes—allows Americans to compete. 

I want to say—I want to say the answer to this is not putting up barriers.  The answer is for America to be smart and creative and innovative.  That‘s the answer.

MATTHEWS:  I have a sense—and I don‘t want to sound too populist, but this country is doing very well for itself among the hedge fund operators and people in equity and I read about the salaries they‘re making in these big companies in New York.  And they‘re not really doing anything.  They‘re dividing up.  They‘re slicing and dicing American industry, moving boxes around. 

But the average person working on the line somewhere, sweating it out for fifty hours a week is losing.  Apparently—the latest numbers show that—unless you have a college degree the last couple of years, you‘ve been stagnant for years now. 

I don‘t want to sound Marxist, but how do you restore the connection between labor and income?

EDWARDS:  It‘s a very difficult challenge.  There are lots of things that need to be done.  They have to be done comprehensively.  A restructuring of our tax codes so that it‘s fair for people who work for a living, it doesn‘t give quite as much an advantage as we do to capital today.  I mean, the capital gains rate is 15 percent while ordinary income rates for a lot of families who just work and are in the middle class in this country are significantly higher than that.  It just doesn‘t—it doesn‘t make any sense.  We need to create more fairness and more opportunity, more educational opportunity. 

I wish there were an easy answer.  But I don‘t think there‘s an easy answer.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think it‘s fabulous you‘re in this race.  And I think you‘re going to be in it right to end.

Senator John Edwards, running for United States presidency. 

Right out of the chute, there he is, campaigning in the primary caucus states.  He‘s out there.  The other guys have to catch him. 

Senator John Edwards, thank you for joining us.

EDWARDS:  Thank you, Chris, for having me. 

MATTHEWS:  And be sure to check out johnedwards.msnbc.com for all the news and analysis about his bid. 

And as others get into the race, we‘re going to bring you more websites with more scoops, more analysis.

Up next, can Edwards do it?  Can he beat Hillary Clinton and Barack with an early round knock-out?  Bob Shrum and Pat Buchanan will be here to tout it. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We just heard John Edwards make his case for the presidency.  Will it sell?  Has he got something that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama don‘t?  Is it electability. 

Bob Shrum is a HARDBALL political analyst and Pat Buchanan is a MSNBC political analyst as well.  Let me ask you Shrummy, do you think that that is the selling point of John Edwards?  I can win in November these other two can‘t. 

BOB SHRUM, HARDBALL POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think that‘s one of his three selling points.  I have thought for months he was a front rank candidate and I think he has three advantages. 

The first is that he is a southerner and though he‘ll never say it explicitly, he‘s always going, as a subtext, make the argument that he can win.  Secondly, he is in first place Iowa right now, third place in the latest poll I saw in New Hampshire, but moving up. 

And you know, that national polls mean much less than the polls in what i call the launching pad states.  It is the results there that redefine the primaries. 

Finally, he‘s got some of the same kind of personal appeal that Bill Clinton did.  The real question we are going find out during the course of this campaign is whether he has the command and understanding and depth on issues that Bill Clinton had. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Pat Buchanan, I knew a fellow that won the New Hampshire Republican primary for president once.  Remember that guy—it‘s you.  And you had a hard time continuing the fight on to Arizona and the other states because of money and because of just bad luck at certain times.

Can an early round knockout by John Edwards against these two daunting foes Obama and Hillary, assuming Obama gets in this thing, can he carry it through or do you have to start over again if you won one of those early rounds?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, he can carry it through because he‘ll start off—he‘ll start off fairly strong.  He is not a frontrunner.  Obama and Hillary are, but he is right off the pace.  He‘s very well-positioned, he‘s ahead in Iowa.  And the truth is the only reason I lost in Arizona is because Forbes could stay in with an enormous amount of money and split the anti-Dole vote.  If Forbes hadn‘t been in there, he should‘ve been out because he ran fourth twice—I would have beaten Dole. 

MATTHEWS: But the people with the money can make mistakes, they can have bad days.  I‘m just saying Hillary Clinton, let‘s assume she‘s just not popular in Iowa and that‘s a reasonable assumption.  She just doesn‘t sell in the Midwest out there.  She has a bad time.  Obama comes in second, this guy comes in first.  He gets down in Nevada, he wins down there with that labor support all the working unions like United and SEIU and all those people and the teachers—he wins two in a row.  He gets up to New Hampshire and big Bill Clinton is standing next to Hillary.  That is tough. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s going to be very tough, but look, you‘ve got to remember, Walter Mondale did have the establishment behind him.  And he sustained what were perceived as two defeats in a row even more from Gary Hart and came right back.. 

MATTHEWS:  Could John Edwards do well in the beginning, but the money people, but in the end ...

BUCHANAN:  What he has to do, what he has to do is clear the field and become the non-Hillary candidate.  His problem is Obama and his big problem will be Al Gore if he gets in.  If he doesn‘t, his problem is Obama and if Obama has clay feet down the road he becomes the alternative to Hillary and the alternative to Hillary can win this nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  Bob Shrum, can he carry through against her enormous financial resources. 

SHRUM:  Well, I mean, first of all, if he wins Iowa, as you suggest

and wins Nevada, he‘d have an excellent chance of winning New Hampshire,

and then the whole process moves south to South Carolina, which is very

much to his advantage.  I think we have to be very careful about game

planning these things this far in advance.  It is absolutely clear to me

MATTHEWS:  Well, what else are we going do? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Here‘s what we can‘t do.  We can‘t assume somehow or other for example that Hillary‘s advantages in money translate automatically into the nomination.  It did not happen with Howard Dean.  And conversely, we cannot assume that because John Edwards somehow or other does not have as much money but goes ahead and wins these early primaries that he will fade away. 

I mean, we should all have learned a lesson from 2004 when Kerry was basically written off and for that matter so was Edwards and they were the two finalists for the Democratic nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  You have brought up a very important point.  There was an old phrase back in the 60‘s, Bob you and I remember it well, but not fondly, in D.C., November doesn‘t count. 

The tendency of Democrats in the early primaries and caucuses devote their heart and maybe their idealism, but not voting their brains.  Will the primary voters and caucus goers starting in Iowa, will they think as they go into that caucus on that Monday—will they thinking about picking the best bet to beat the Republicans or will they be playing their heart-strings?

SHRUM:  Absolutely, I think they‘ll be thinking that.  I think that‘s why Howard Dean fell apart in Iowa in 2004.  I think that‘s why Kerry finished first, Edwards finished second.  I think that‘s why they were the two finalists and ultimately ended up on the ticket together.  Democrats really wanted to beat Bush.  they‘re going to want to win in 2008. 

Now, the war is the one wild card in this.  Because I don‘t think the Democratic Party, if this war is the mess that it is today is going to go ahead and nominate someone who does not take a clear position in favor of withdrawing. 

BUCHANAN;  All right, that‘s a vulnerability of Edwards because he is going have to admit that on the biggest vote of his life and the greatest strategic decision in which he was involved he was wrong, he made a mistake, he didn‘t study it hard enough.  If he wins... 

SHRUM:  How about he was lied to Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Hold on for a second.

SHRUM:  But he was lied to like the rest of us.

BUCHANAN:  For heaven‘s sakes, you didn‘t ask the right questions you were brainwashed?  Look, let me just tell you that if he wins Iowa, he makes it around the horn to the south, he gets home, and if he gets home, if he wins Iowa, he can beat Hillary.  If he wins Iowa, he‘s the alternative to Hillary.  If he wins Iowa, I would bet on him the way we all bet on Kerry when he won Iowa. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me give you—get along to Bob here.  Listen to what you said Bob.  Now two of the three front runners you might say, Barack and Edwards have said they do not support a surge in troops right now in Iraq.  They have taken a strong position, Hillary is silent and has been for the war.  Are you saying that she is cut out of the action if she holds that to position? 

SHRUM:  Yes, and I think she will oppose a surge in troops.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, she will?

SHRUM:  I believe that, I believe that when all is said and done, the president puts his plan on the table, she‘ll oppose a surge in troops.   mean, a surge in troops you know, it‘s very interesting—they started talking about this about a month ago.  And now the president is taking time because what he is trying to do is cook the advice, just as he cooked the intelligence before we went into the war. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to break now with this statement by Barak Obama, the most powerful statement he‘s made against the president: “Our soldiers are not numbers to add just because someone couldn‘t think of a better idea.”

Pat and Bob will be back with us.  We‘ll be right back after this—we‘re going tot talk about what Obama said—this guy is ripping the scab off.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  As we wait to hear when Saddam Hussein is hanged, sometime perhaps fairly soon, President Bush is considering sending in more troops to Iraq.  Will Congress go ahead with him?  We‘ve got Bob Shrum and Pat Buchanan.

Matthew Continetti wrote a very good piece in the Weekly Standard this week that said the Democratic Party, Bob, is the peace party, the Republican party is the power party.  When I look at the fact that Biden and Barack and now Edwards have come out against a troops surge, he has a point, doesn‘t he? 

BOB SHRUM:  Well, I think the Democratic Party is the right party in terms of the issues on Iraq, and the Republicans are wrong.  Look, every general that we have in Iraq or have had in Iraq or have had in Iraq has told us that sending in more troops isn‘t the answer, it fuels the insurgency.  So, as I said just before the break, what the president has done is taken time, sent Gates, his new defense secretary over there to try to massage the advice. 

What they‘re trying to do is get to the same position they did before the war, which is get enough advice to do what they have already decided to do, which is escalate.  And I think it‘s a big mistake.

MATTHEWS:  Pat, are these parties dividing on the war?  Is that going to be the division?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  It clearly is.  The surge of troops—I agree with Bob Shrum to this extent, I don‘t think a surge of 20,000 or 30,000 is going do anything.  If you want to take Iraq, you can put in 300,000 troops and maybe do it.

But let me say this, Barack Obama has a position of purity and clarity, moral clarity for Democrats.  He is saying not only no surge of troops, but I was against this misbegotten war from the beginning.  Now, that is a shot right at Edwards, it is at Biden, it is at Kerry, it is at Hillary. 

Now, Edwards is saying, you know, I was mistaken.  If only I had known this.  So is Kerry.  That is a tremendously weak position to be in a battle... 

MATTHEWS:  It also offsets the lack of experience.  Because he—he can say, well I had enough experience to know this was a mistake and you didn‘t. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  I was here two years.  I said long before this war, I was against it.  You didn‘t know it as a senator?  Why do you belong in the White House? 

So he has got a tremendous position, Barack Obama does.  And Hillary has the position, which is the war was right, it was mismanaged now.  So—which is a—that‘s a position that is more credible, I think, than gee, I made a mistake. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Bob, what happens if right before the 2008 election, George W. Bush bombs Iran?  Let me tell you, my worst scenario.  The day after we do that and engage war a holocaust of attack on us forever from the Arab world, and the Islamic world and Europe and everybody else.  Hillary Clinton will be waking up that morning saluting through the dust.  She will be saluting the president.  And my fear is there will never be a debate on whether we attack Iran.  We will never have a vote in Congress on a resolution requiring the president to get a vote.  They will just go along with it like they did with the last war. 

SHRUM:  Well, first of all, he wouldn‘t get the vote so he wouldn‘t ask for the vote. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t the Democrats initiate a vote to stop him, then? 

SHRUM:  Well, you can‘t stop something you don‘t know is going happen. 

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t?

SHRUM:  No.  What are going to do?  I mean, there is a way to stop the war in Iraq.  And that is to pass a resolution saying that at a certain point, we‘re going to stop funding the war, say the end of this year. 

But we ought to be fair to Hillary Clinton here.  Senator Clinton has said that knowing what she knows today, she wouldn‘t have voted for the war.  And let‘s be honest. 

MATTHEWS:  But the next war is the one that matter.  The next time she has to make a decision, do you have confidence she won‘t support an attack on Iran?  She supported the attack on Iraq twice.

BUCHANAN:  Let me just say—look, all of them say, the Democratic candidates, the military option is on the table.  Who put it there?  How can it be on the table when we have not declared war?  And the Democrats themselves say we cannot take the military option off the table.  If it‘s on the table, who put it there? 

SHRUM:  Pat you are playing—you are playing with words.  If they said there was no military option, you would say, aha, they are way to the left. 

BUCHANAN:  Cut it out.

SHRUM:  The military option is on the table. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that has the prerogative to issues—to put through a resolution declaring to the president, that no law passed by congress authorizes an attack on Iran without an approval by the congress? 

BUCHANAN:  And he has to come back to us. 

SHRUM:  I think that you could do that.  You would have to do it with a caveat that said that if there was imminent danger, the president could move, even under the war powers act, that provision, as you know because you were there when it was passed, that provision... 

MATTHEWS:  The problem with that is as you know that that trapdoor was used last time.  The president said we were going be attacked by a nuclear weapon, a mushroom cloud delivered by some system of delivery that they were trying to explain to us at the time. 

SHRUM:  That trap door was...

BUCHANAN:  You could do this.  You could say, look, in the absence of a direct attack on American forces, or an imminent threat to the United States or its security or its personnel, this president under existing law has no authority to attack Iran‘s nuclear installations and he has to come back to this congress get authority before he does it.  Why don‘t they pass something like that? 

SHRUM:  First, let‘s get our facts right.  We did not go into Iraq without a congressional resolution.  We were lied to about the nuclear threat.

Secondly, Pat didn‘t win the New Hampshire primary.  People reported that he did.  He actually lost by about 17 points.

Thirdly, we should not say—we should not say...

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, Bob? 

BUCHANAN:  You are talking about 1992, but ‘96 we won. 

MATTHEWS:  He won the Republican presidential...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Are you slipping there? 

SHRUM:  In 1996. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me explain to you, Bob, you are the one that loses all the...

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Actually, I believe, Chris, that Al Gore won every single caucus and primary in 1980, and I believe that John Kerry won every primary and caucus but three in 2004. 

MATTHEWS:  What are you talking about? 

SHRUM:  You are you saying I am the one who loses all the time.  If Pat had won half the number of primaries John Kerry did, or half the number of primaries Al Gore did, he would have been the Republican nominee, which I would have been strongly in favor of. 

MATTHEWS:  But Bob, he did win.  This man in front of me, I was there, did the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire against Bob Dole.  Because I thought Dole was going win, because I listened to that stupid American survey poll, whatever it was called up there, that terrible poll.  And you beat it.  Can we stipulate that Pat won the New Hampshire primary in ‘96? 

SHRUM:  In ‘96, lost it in ‘92 when it was reported in the early exit polls that he was going to win it. 

And the final thing that we ought to be honest about there is no evidence on the table whatsoever that Hillary Clinton can‘t do well in the Midwest. 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think she will do well in Iowa, that‘s right. 

SHRUM:  No.  I think there‘s a very good change she will do well in Iowa. 

I think she‘ll go out there...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If she does well in the Midwest, she will win the presidency.

BUCHANAN:  If she wins the Iowa caucuses, I would agree—she would almost unstoppable.

MATTHEWS:  I think her weakness is between the two coasts.  I think she is very strong in California, very strong in Oregon and Washington State and New England and the middle Atlantic states she‘ll do very well.  Pennsylvania could be tricky.  But as you move into the center of the country, Ohio, Michigan, those kinds of states where people own guns and boats and have a certain attitude towards modern women.  I don‘t think she‘ll do so well, Bob.  You may disagree. 

BUCHANAN:  General election?

SHRUM:  If we are talking about the nomination, then I think that there is a very good chance that you will see a competitive race that involves more than Hillary Clinton.  But to write her off and to say that she can‘t win in Iowa, for example, is a tremendous mistake. 

BUCHANAN:  No.  I am not writing her off.  What I‘m saying is...

MATTHEWS:  We could place some bets right now, Bob. 

There is going to be an anti-Hillary candidate.  And I would bet—and I think the anti-Hillary candidate, if it‘s Edwards can win, if it‘s Gore can win and if it‘s Obama can win. 

I don‘t write Hillary off.  I think if you had to pick somebody who is going to be the next president of the United States, I would pick McCain first and Hillary second. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s interesting.

SHRUM:  I wouldn‘t necessarily agree with that, but I would certainly say that just being the anti-Hillary candidate doesn‘t guarantee that somebody beats Hillary Clinton.  This race will be played out in a lot of living rooms and a lot of union halls and a lot of churches in Iowa and New Hampshire.  And those launching pad states will then determine the contours of the race that will be decided further down the road.  But in those states, the basic parameters of the race will be set and whoever comes out of there is likely to be the nominee. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  Bob Shrum. 

Thank you, Pat Buchanan.  Winner of the Republican presidential...

(CROSSTALK) 

MATTHEWS:  ... a special look back at the life and legacy of the life President Gerald Ford with two reporters who covered his career closely, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw and the “Washington Post‘s” Bob Woodward. 

Up next, as John Edwards heads to New Hampshire, why is Barack Obama playing golf in Hawaii?  Is he planning his game?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Let‘s dig into some more politics right here. 

Roger Simon‘s chief political columnist for the new organization called “Politico”.

And Lynne Sweet‘s with an old-time organization.  Well, it‘s tabloid, it‘s newsprint, it‘s the “Chicago Sun-Times”. 

Right, old stuff?  You know, newspapers?  You buy newspapers in stands and stuff. 

What‘s that feel like?

LYNNE SWEET, “CHICAGO SUN-TIMES”:  Well, it feels good because we‘ve got a blog, we‘ve got a big Internet site.  So we‘re...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s not like running a blacksmith shop.

SWEET:  No, it‘s not.  And actually, Roger knows that because he started at the “Sun-Times”.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Let‘s start here with the Jerry Ford‘s bombshell this week, his postmortem where he—where Bob Woodward, who‘s unbelievable, had saved a tape—a tape, not just the quote—of Gerald Ford back in 04, just a year into the war, saying it was a big mistake, the war itself. 

What do you think, Roger?

ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”:  I think it shows how unpopular this war is with the American people, even Republicans.  And they have left their president on this issue.  They don‘t want this war.  Maybe they want it a little more than Democrats do, but they don‘t want this war.  And they want it to be over.  And I don‘t think they want a surge. 

SWEET:  I think that it shows that the ability of Republicans to be able to leave the official—you know, the official story line of President Bush shows how deep the reservations are and how probably widespread it is. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the three front runners, if you will.  I‘ll just stipulate them.  Maybe you won‘t or not.  But I guess I can‘t stipulate unless you agree to stipulate.

But let‘s say there are Mitt Romney, who seems to be having a great year.  This past year he really came up right to the top tier; John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. 

Now, it seems to me that Giuliani is up in New Hampshire campaigning this week.  He‘s going give a big speech.  He admits it all over the place, he‘s moving right, trying to be the cultural candidate.  But then we have McCain out there, sticking to his guns, literally, still the hawk, still for the surge, still where he was back when.  Will he get stuck in Iraq, politically? 

SIMON:  The best thing that happened to John McCain was the election of a Democratic Congress because there‘s a good chance they will end this war before the campaign for the presidency really begins. 

And I think he may need that.  He is really out there on the war.  He is President Bush‘s strongest supporter.  It is not a nuanced position.  It is not a delicate position.  It is we should be in there to stay...

MATTHEWS:  The Reagan motto.  The Vietnam War‘s over, Reagan can win. 

SIMON:  But it‘s decisive...

MATTHEWS:  Right?

Reagan didn‘t have to campaign for the Vietnam War.  It was over by the time he ran. 

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  The point is, McCain shows leadership.  He‘s decisive.  You know where he stands.  You don‘t have to guess.  And I think that means a lot when people...

MATTHEWS:  But if we‘re still in the war, you still hold on that? 

It‘s a strength position?

SWEET:  For him it is it because he‘s probably the only one that has the credibility to try and see it through.

MATTHEWS:  And when he goes into the general election against a Hillary, an Obama or an Edwards, he can win on that issue as the hawk? 

SWEET:  No, it all depends what the war is like, if it‘s over or if it‘s still going.  Or, if things really hit a turnaround, then he‘s in a better position. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about John Edwards.  He gave—he was on this show a week or so ago.  We like him for a while.  Now he‘ll be our flavor for about a week because we do like people to come on this show. 

But in the bigger picture of looking at this thing, Edwards, to be blunt about it, as the white guy in a country that has always elected white guys as president, is that his strength, to be blunt about it, against Obama and against Hillary? 

SIMON:  No, I think he has strengths other than that.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about that?

Do you want to avoid this question?  It‘s tricky, isn‘t it?

SIMON:  I‘m not going to avoid it.  I don‘t think that being a woman will hurt Hillary in getting to the presidency if she gets there. 

MATTHEWS:  Really?

SIMON:  I think racism is a much stronger factor in American life. 

And Barack Obama...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Obama‘s harder to take than Hillary?

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  Polls show that the bigger—the thicker glass ceiling, probably concrete, is against women more than race... 

MATTHEWS:  Do you disagree? 

SIMON:  I disagree entirely.  And I don‘t if anyone answers a pollster‘s question honestly when asked that.

Barack Obama has a mountain to climb to get to the presidency.  It‘s no accident we‘ve only had two black governors in U.S. history, three black senators in U.S. history.  It‘s not because they...

MATTHEWS:  All from basically Illinois or Massachusetts. 

SIMON:  Northern industrial states.  There‘s a lot of racism out there and Barack Obama is going to have to deal with it and conquer it if he‘s going to become president. 

MATTHEWS:  What about my premise that the hard problem for Hillary is not the South, because she‘s not going to carry the South...

SIMON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Her problem will be to win those Democratic states in the Midwest that are pretty culturally conservative, beginning with Pennsylvania once you get west of Philly.  Once you get into Reading and move out through the T, we call it, and then move into Ohio, which is very culturally conservative, and then into Michigan, where everybody, you know, wants to have a gun and a boat—how does Hillary win out there?

SWEET:  Look at how she‘s been positioning herself.  Look at even on the issue of abortion, where she talks about, you know, alternatives, make it less available... 

MATTHEWS:  Do people believe that? 

SWEET:  I don‘t know for sure if people believe a lot of the stuff that people say... 

MATTHEWS:  Do they believe she‘s not anti-gun?

SWEET:  Well, but certainly Senator Obama isn‘t going be portrayed as any friend to the NRA either.  So, you don‘t have—that would be a wash.  And that‘s why each one kind of brings a little different consistency and plus and minus and I think the... 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Hillary doesn‘t look a little but like a prohibitionist? 

SWEET:  No.  Come on, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Suffragette.

SWEET:  Oh, Chris, are you playing to a stereotype or what? 

MATTHEWS:  I am trying to get you angry.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  Are you assuming here that she‘s going get the nomination and she‘s going to have to worry about taking states? 

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m not at all.  I do think this is wide open.  And I do think that it‘s—and I think the Republican Party thing—if we go back to that for a second—is even more wide open.  I don‘t know who you can call a front runner these days. 

SWEET:  Well, here‘s...

SIMON:  You don‘t think John McCain is a front runner? 

MATTHEWS:  No, because I think that there‘s so many people in the cultural South who can‘t wait to vote against him.  And I think the Mitt Romney thing is a big question mark, a big question...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... and that‘s why I think Rudy, although everyone says he can‘t win in a three way race, who knows?  

SWEET:  When you talk about Mitt Romney question mark, are you referring to his religion?  Or what are you talking about?

MATTHEWS:  I‘m referring to the fact that his positions when he ran for senator in Massachusetts were totally liberal and now they‘re totally conservative. 

Do you believe a man who switches 180? 

SWEET:  Well, they‘re...

SIMON:  You said that Romney had a good year this year.  And he did with the media.  He hasn‘t had a good year in the polls.  He‘s still in single digits.  He has not caught on with people in the great out there who are going to have to vote for him.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  ... know.  No one would know him.  He could walk down Michigan Avenue or here and ...

MATTHEWS:  Well, for some reason he‘s in the trinity of the top three candidates.

We‘ll be right back with Roger Simon and Lynn Sweet, who‘s pining, for, she‘s got a bobby-soxer jump going here for Mitt Romney, which I can understand.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with Roger Simon, of the Politico, which is a new on-line news agency which covers Capitol Hill, especially and Chicago Sun-Times from the traditional media, Lynn Sweet.  Thank you very much.

There‘s nothing like the feel of the newspaper.  You pick it up, you take it home with you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about this thing with Saddam Hussein. 

The reports are very murky.  NBC has been trying to figure this thing out. 

We do not know what is going on over there in Baghdad right now. 

But let‘s assume he is executed in the fairly—like over the weekend.  Is this going to cause more hell?  The Shia have big parties all night, New Years Eve parties all night because this guy is dead, which enrages the Sunnis, which starts this war really cooking over there?

SIMON:  Does anyone really want this guy executed?  is anyone really angry at this guy anymore? 

MATTHEWS:  I guess the Shia and the Kurds do.  I‘m not a big capital punishment fan.  I‘m not going to go stand with a vigil and a candle over it (INAUDIBLE), but i do wonder about this case because if this guy going to the World Court in the Hauge in a single engine plane, he would be safe from this. 

SIMON:  All we remember about Saddam Hussein is that of an old man in his underwear being taken out of his hiding place.  No one thinks of him as this terrible dictator anymore.  We have managed to ...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, his crimes he‘s been accused of, and fairly so, we‘re all committed when we were his big buddy ally.

SIMON:  True.

MATTHEWS:  When we were on his side against Iran.

SIMON:  And does anybody believe he really got a fair trial?  That it was foreordained before the first ...

MATTHEWS:  I think war crimes should deal with war, not with anything the guy‘s done before the war.  But that‘s you know we got the Holocaust to deal with.  What do you think Lynn?  Is this going to end America‘s long nightmare -- 3,000 Americans killed so we can kill so we can kill this guy? 

SWEET: I can tell you more about in the domestic impact.  And that is his death will probably raise more questions than it ends, it will seem as a rush to justice, it will seem like we accelerated the pace ...

MATTHEWS:  Will we look like the ones who executed him? 

SWEET:  Absolutely, this is how it will play in the world.

MATTHEWS:  I think people in Iraq are going to say after it‘s all over, we, because we still got him in custody apparently. 

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  If we don‘t hand him over nothing would happen.  That‘s what‘s negotiated right now and his lawyers are complaining about.  Do you really think in the eyes of the world, that they are going to see that this was a fair trial without some back-handed ...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) lately, has been this public reading on Gerry Ford‘s legacy.  I think it‘s been wonderful.  I mean, not a genius president, not a historic president, but a good president who did his job under unique circumstances. 

Do you think the mark of civility he left on the American presidency, which is still there, this sense that a president at his best or her best, tries to bring people together?  Has friends of different political persuasions who can be disagreeing, but not disagreeable? 

Will that mollify the hearts and minds of Washington in the next weeks ahead as the Congress comes in? 

SIMON:  No.  And I think one reason that Evan Bayh dropped out of the race is that his testing and focus grouping showed that his message of unity was not playing with the American people after the midterm elections.  The Democrats ...

MATTHEWS:  Want blood. 

SIMON:  Yes, they want blood. 

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  This week you‘re going to have two storylines overlapping—no sooner will you have the ceremonies of the funeral for former President Ford over, then you have Nancy Pelosi sworn in on Thursday after three days of celebration of her Speakership. 

And then they‘re going to right get down to their partisan agenda.  It‘s partisan in that it‘s a Democratic agenda that they will want to do, so I think Chris that whatever feeling you have of remembering this—evoking this era of goodwill is going to be done and about 10 seconds after the Rotunda is cleaned up and you get ready for the swearing in. 

MATTHEWS:  Why does Nancy Pelosi get such a bad press?  She gets a terrible press.  Every decision she makes looks bad in the press.

SWEET:  It is unfair.  I do think it has to do with that she‘s a woman and there is a double-standard here.  And if you met her in person, she is warm, she is intelligent, she can communicate well.  She is ... 

MATTHEWS:  The press dumped on her for defending Jack Murtha against Steny Hoyer, her old campaign manager, it seems reasonable to me to back your campaign manager for majority leader.  And when she tried to get rid of Jane Harman, with whom she had real policy differences, it was treated as some sort of skull-dugery.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  Murtha was a tactical mistake.  He might have been fine for the job, but Nancy Pelosi should not have taken on as her first fight, a battle she could not win.  And tactics is what she is partially in charge of now in the Democratic Party. 

SWEET:  But Roger ...

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree she gets bad press? 

SIMON:  I agree she gets bad press.  I agree with Lynn that part of it is because she is a woman.  But also, she is really out there and she vigorous in defense of her positions.  She comes from one of the most liberal districts in the nation and a lot of people are going to dislike her for that.

SWEET: Oh, I think you start with this label of San Francisco liberal that people spit out in talking about her. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s trying to fix that.

SWEET:  Yes and instead of remembering that her roots are in Baltimore, just up the road, which she‘s going to go to to mark the beginning of her Speakership.  But the Murtha thing is a speed-bump, it‘s not a road-block Roger and Chris.

And I think she showed her members of that you stand by me, I stand by you and that is a long-term calculation.  I‘m sure she could have lived without the aggravation of losing that fight and having everyone second guess her, but it is not a big deal in the scheme of things.

MATTHEWS:  I am going to give her some advice if she‘s watching—don‘t hold daily televised press conferences.  because if you have them on television—every problem, every stinkeroo on Capital Hill, every scandal, you will be the flypaper.  Because they will go to speaker and say, what do think about Congressman Jefferson‘s latest thing.  You know what I mean? 

SIMON:  That‘s good for her, but it‘s bad for TV.

SWEET: When was the last time Speaker Hastert even stopped his pen and pad sessions for this whole year? 

MATTHEWS:  Hey pen and pad looks very good when you have a lot of creepy things going on already.

SWEET:  But he didn‘t even have that.  You know he had them in ‘05, he basically stopped that ...

MATTHEWS:  I used to think Tip was old hat by not having daily press conferences on television—he was a genius. 

Anyway, thank you Lynn Sweet, thank you Roger Simon.  Stay tuned to MSNBC all weekend for the events honoring the life and legacy of that great president Gerald Ford. 

From all of us here at HARDBALL, have a safe and happy new year. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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

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