updated 1/23/2007 12:57:44 PM ET 2007-01-23T17:57:44

Guests: Howard Wolfson, Susan Molinari, Hilary Rosen, Howard Fineman, Anne Kornblut, Bill Richardson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The odds are even money that Hillary Clinton will be the next Democratic nominee for president, three to one she‘ll be the next president.  Those are the best odds of anyone running.

And that‘s not me talking.  It‘s the people putting their money on the race.  Let‘s talk to the trainers and the touts.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.

She‘s in it and she‘s in it to win, Senator Hillary Clinton made it official and the money boys are giving her almost a 50-50 chance of winning the nomination.  And a new ABC News/”Washington Post” poll has her way ahead of the pack in a crowded field of Democrats including Barack Obama, John Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson who announced he‘s off and running yesterday.  He will be on tonight.

Democratic voters could make history in 2008.  They could pick the first woman president, the first black president or the first Hispanic president.  In a moment we‘ll talk to one of Senator Clinton‘s senior advisers Howard Wolfson about her campaign for president and NBC News anchor Brian Williams interview Senator Clinton tonight on the NIGHTLY NEWS tonight so don‘t miss it.

Plus, on the eve of the president‘s State of the Union address the polls look grim.  A new ABC poll shows two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track and only a minority, 44 percent, think the president is honest.  Most people think he is dishonest in this poll.

Polls also show Iraq is the major issue to most Americans, big surprise there and we saw another bloody day in Iraq.  This weekend the U.S. military reported two marines were killed, raising the two-day death toll for American forces to 27.

And bombs and mortar attacks killed at least 100 people more.

On the politics, by the way, later, we‘re going to have Howard Wolfson, he‘s a top adviser to Senator Clinton.  He is coming here in just a minute.

Howard, thank you for joining us.  Howard, what did you think about—you may have had a part of this decision.  Why didn‘t Senator Clinton announce her campaign for president?  I remember John Kennedy announcing in the Senate caucus room, lots of people around him, lots of family, a very vibrant situation.  Why would you pretape a very set piece in a sort of Hollywood set and have her do it that way?

HOWARD WOLFSON, TOP ADVISER TO SEN. HILLARY CLINTON:  Well, it was actually taped in her home, so it wasn‘t Hollywood, it was in Washington, DC.

MATTHEWS:  Looked like Hollywood.

WOLFSON:  I don‘t know what your house looks like but that‘s what her house looks like.

MATTHEWS:  Why did you do it in a way that made her hermetically sealed from any questioning, any kind of human interaction?  Why did she have to be all by herself there so that nobody could get to her?

WOLFSON:  Well, first of all, as you know, given that you just promoed that she was going to being talking to you tomorrow and talking with Brian Williams today she‘s hardly avoiding taking questions from the press.  We‘ve been all over the press in the last couple of days.  She‘s doing interviews with each of the three anchors tonight.  None of them are softballs or known for asking softball questions.  Neither are you.

So it‘s not a question of avoiding questions.  It‘s an issue that the way to communicate with large numbers of people today, a way, is over the Internet.  It‘s increasingly the way politicians in both parties are communicating with supporters, or potential supporters.  That‘s the 21st century way of campaigning.  She‘s also going to go about it the old-fashioned way, the way she did it in New York, person-to-person in diners and in living rooms.

She knows she‘s got to earn it, she knows she‘s got to work for it, and she‘s going to work very hard in the primary states and all across this country, campaigning one-on-one and doing old-style retail politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY:  ... provide the monitoring that gave us the data that we now are relying on to make the case that we have to provide treatment for all of the victims of 9/11.  Thousands and thousands of first responders, of residents and others were made sick because of this act of war, this attack upon our country.

You see some of them before you today.  I spent, I guess about an hour and a half.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know where this came from.  I‘m listening to Hillary Clinton.  I never asked for that bite.  But let me ask you, Howard, it seemed like she came across - not in that bite where she‘s talking to mikes.  But when she‘s in that room setting just talking to the camera, very modulated, very human, very much like the person you meet when you meet her.  Are you going to be able to do that through the campaign?  Present her on that one-on-one fashion so effectively?

WOLFSON:  I think so.  We faced a similar challenge in 1999.  We started out announcing her Senate campaign at Moynihan‘s farm.  We had 300 members of the press, we had an enormous press entourage following her around.  The question was how is she going to go out and actually campaign with people and we managed to do it because it‘s what she wanted to do.  She likes the interaction.  We‘re going to do this the old fashioned way.  You can do it the 21st century way on the Web but you have got to go also about it one-on-one in the small retail settings.

And that‘s what we‘re going to do.  She‘s determined to do it.

MATTHEWS:  But she‘s not as effective—I‘m just a critic here right now, I‘m playing critic.  She‘s not as effective in behind a mike.  She seems to talk up to the mike, she seems to raise her voice.  It‘s very hard for a woman to yell to a microphone.  It‘s not great when men do it either but when a woman yells to a mike it creates a kind of stridency.  And I think she avoided that dramatically on the announcement this weekend.  I am applauding the way you handled it.

WOLFSON:  I appreciate that.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the timing.  The timing.

WOLFSON:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  This is right after Obama, right before the State of the Union.  Brilliant.  You dominated the Sunday newspapers, you took over Sunday television and you sort of set the agenda for the president this week by being the major Democratic voice.

WOLFSON:  Well, that was part of the plan, frankly, not the part regarding Senator Obama.  We obviously didn‘t know when he would be announcing.  And we had planned to announce on this day long before.  We thought it was very important to announce right before the State of the Union.  We think it‘s a particular time in the country where Americans are focusing on the president, the office of the presidency, the enormous challenges facing our country and we think when people think about who can be the best president, the answer they‘re going to come to is Hillary Clinton.  So we wanted to do it now.  We like the contrast.  We like getting the media that we‘re getting around this time and it was a date that worked well for us.

MATTHEWS:  So it was serendipitous that bigfooted Obama this week?  Serendipitous.  It was coincidental.  You just knocked this guy right out of the box.  He was going to own the weekend.  You guys showed up, took it away from him on Saturday.  By Sunday morning you owned the game.  And that was serendipity?  It just turned out that way.  You had planned to do this all along.

WOLFSON:  Well, you‘ve seen our Web site, I know.  That‘s not the kind of Web site that you can build out in 24 hours.  This is something that we had been working on for a while.  Senator Clinton tasked us with coming up with the best date for her announcement and the best possible way to announce at the same time that she was coming to her conclusion about whether she should announce and once she decided to do it this was the date.

MATTHEWS:  She‘s in it to run now.  There‘s none of this pretend exploratory.  She‘s decided to run for president?

WOLFSON:  As she has said, she‘s in it and she‘s in it to win.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about opposition research.  Is that part of your campaign, checking out other candidates, possible flaws in their resumes?  Are you guys going to engage in that kind of politics to win the nomination.  Opposition research.  Do you have a team tasked with that responsibility in your campaign?

WOLFSON:  Well, Senator Clinton has made it clear to me and to everyone at the campaign that she believes that she can win talking about her record, her vision, her accomplishments, her experiences.

I get asked all the time questions about our primary opponents.  These are people who are good people, it‘s a very good field.  Senator Clinton knows many of them well.  She‘s served with many of them.  And when I get asked, my answer, you know, I want to talk about Senator Clinton.  I want to talk about her vision, her record, her experience, because I think she makes a great case for herself and we want to help her make that case for herself.

MATTHEWS:  Is anyone in the campaign tasked with opposition research?

WOLFSON:  You know, if we are attacked ...

MATTHEWS:  Right now.  Right now as we speak.

Has anyone been given the job of digging up information about the other Democratic candidates?  Do you have people on your team who are looking to the other candidates for their records, for their past practices, possible weaknesses in their resume?  Are you doing that kind of work in your campaign or not?  It‘s a simple question.

WOLFSON:  Yeah and here‘s my question.  If we‘re attacked by one of the other campaigns, whether it be Democrat or Republican, we‘re going to respond and we‘re going to respond effectively and aggressively.  This is Hillary Clinton, after all.  She‘s been through this.  She knows how to do this.  We are not going to get swift boated and we‘re going to have the means to do that.  But we have not ...

MATTHEWS:  So you have begun the effort of digging up ...

WOLFSON:  I didn‘t say that, Chris.  All I‘ve said ...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking you.  Have you or not?

WOLFSON:  I‘m not going to get into the campaign tactics.  I‘m telling you about the kind of campaign ...

MATTHEWS:  You won‘t answer the question whether you have an opposition research capability right now?  You won‘t answer that question?

WOLFSON:  I‘m telling you the kind of campaign we‘re going to run.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  But you haven‘t answered that question.  The presidential candidate, Senator Clinton believes that she has to explain to the people who she is.  Yet we have a CBS poll that has just come out two weeks ago that says that only three percent of those responding want to know more about Senator Clinton.  Does that cause a resistance problem for you?  In other words, if everybody seems to think they know positively or negatively about her, and most people positively about her, that it‘s hard to get a new message out about her for you guys.

WOLFSON:  Actually, that belies every experience that I‘ve had with her.  And I suggest it belies the experience that you have.  I mean, you know, when she goes on the cover—when newspapers put her on the cover she sells more newspapers.  When he‘s she‘s on TV the ratings go up.  People are interested in Senator Clinton.  And they‘re not interested in her because they think they know everything about her.  They‘re interested in finding out more.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, you‘ve just made your point very well with me because I‘m thinking how much I‘d like to have her on the college tour.  How much I‘d like to have her—Although I love you, Howard, you‘re the best but I‘d like to have her here.  I think we‘re getting her tomorrow night which is thanks to her.

And I just think you‘re right.  I think the people do want to hear her and I do think you did a great presentation on Saturday.  It was charming, it was personal, and it was very close to the Hillary Clinton I‘ve been able to meet on occasion, sometimes social occasions, sometimes professional.  And I think it‘s a harder thing for a woman candidate—and this is life is unfair, under the heading of life is unfair—it‘s harder for women to yell in public than men.  Men can get away with yelling once in a while.  When a woman does it, it gets strident, it brings out all the old bad feelings, the old bad traditional attitudes of the genders.

WOLFSON:  It‘s why is there‘s no female Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS:  Nor should there be.

Thanks very much.  Howard Wolfson, who is moving to Washington.

Up next, how will Bill Clinton help his wife‘s campaign?  Well there‘s

interesting.  Will he hurt her campaign, maybe?

And later, another 2008 contender, Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of Mexico, he is coming here tonight and tomorrow night join Keith Olbermann and me, Keith Olbermann and I, it should be.  We‘re both doing the State of the Union tomorrow night coverage.  We‘re the new Huntley-Brinkley around here.

Tom Brokaw is going to be joining us and after the speech Senator Clinton is going to be with us.  She‘ll be with us with her reaction to President Bush‘s State of the Union.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  So let‘s talk.  Let‘s chat.  Let‘s start a dialogue about your ideas and mine.  Because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don‘t you think?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now that Hillary‘s in it what will it take for her to win it?  How can a candidate with virtual total name I.D. reintroduce herself to Americans as a potential president.

I‘m with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and former New York State Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

Well, we heard Harold Wolfson, who is quite a smart guy come on and say despite the polling, and I agree with this conundrum, three percent of the country say they want to hear more about Hillary.  In other words, everybody‘s heard enough about her.  And yet when she‘s on the tube it is somewhat magnetic for enemy and friend alike.

Hilary Rosen?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think that‘s right.  Ratings go up when people are talking about Hillary because they‘re interested in her and that‘s to her benefit.  Because now is her chance to tell this country what she‘s going to do as president.  I that earlier poll I think is about name recognition.  Everybody knows who she is.  Now I think they‘re really going to listen to her ideas for the future.

SUSAN MOLINARI, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN, ® NY:  I watched this happen in New York where everybody thought when she moved in there running for Senate that they knew enough about her and her negatives were going to come through.  And actually, the low expectations for her in New York State totally accrued to her benefit as people stopped and the more they listened to her ideas and talked to her and mainly saw that she was willing to work hard, as painful as—it‘s causes me to say this.  The low expectations really helped her because if people got to know her and saw how hard she was willing to work it elected her.

MATTHEWS:  And also, you see a person and she‘s harried, she‘s obnoxious and she‘s pushy, and when she comes off as human, she beats the spread.

MOLINARI:  That‘s the point.  It‘s expectations.

MATTHEWS:  When it‘s that bad and she shows up as anything but a troll, you fall for her.

MOLINARI:  That‘s right.

ROSEN:  Well, something said earlier is—does she come across as too brash, is she too cold?  And the reality, these are not true.

MATTHEWS:  These are not terms they use for men, by the way.  Life is unfair, right?

ROSEN:  Life is unfair.  She‘s been willing to play by these rules and she‘ll do it.

MATTHEWS:  I get the feeling when I talk to women, my wife and everybody I know, who I respect, of course, we‘re not all in this together.  The men do not have the stake in this election that the women do.  Hilary Rosen, please speak along those lines.  There is a stake here.

ROSEN:  There is a stake here but frankly I think she‘s crossed that threshold.  She‘s already credible.  I think for women, the most important thing was that the first presidential candidate be really credible and deserve to be in office.  I think she‘s crossed that threshold.  But women are 54 percent of the general election voter and that‘s something that‘s exciting for us and it‘s darn advantageous for Hillary.

MOLINARI:  Now let‘s not presume that women are going to vote for a woman just because she is a woman.  At the time when stakes are high ...

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to vote for her?

MOLINARI:  No, I‘m not going to vote for her.

MATTHEWS:  What about the old argument of Jack Germond, who was quite the expert around here about politics a few years back, and he was a great political columnist.  He still writers.  He said that older women over a certain age, I think his benchmark was 65.  And as you know, older people vote like bandits, they all vote.  They talk about it and they vote.  Won‘t vote for a woman.  Do you buy that old argument?

MOLINARI:  No, I don‘t buy that argument.

MATTHEWS:  Sixty-five is now 85.

MOLINARI:  It‘s the new ...

MATTHEWS:  No, I just ...

MOLINARI:  Sixty-five is sounding kind of young to me these days.

MATTHEWS:  Eighty-five.

ROSEN:  Those old white guys on Staten Island voted for Susan Molinari.

MATTHEWS:  I can think of a lot of reasons for that.

ROSEN:  They can vote for Hillary.

I don‘t think it‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think they have a problem with hotshot women professional?

MOLINARI:  I think it depends on how you present yourself.

ROSEN:  And at that point, it‘s going to depend on who that candidate is.  If it‘s a candidate parroting George Bush‘s destruction of Social Security that‘s a big issue for Hillary Clinton.  I think when we talk about health care, health insurance and other things, she‘s going to win this on the issues, and I think, actually across the board.

MOLINARI:  And where she‘s going to have the biggest to surmount as we always do as women, in particularly if she‘s running against somebody like Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, how tough can she be on terrorism and keeping us safe?  That is always a conundrum for women.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you about that.  Pat Healy of the—

Patrick Healy of the “New York Times” raised that point on this network early today.  Very early today.  I got up early and watched all of this.  (inaudible)‘s new show.  And I‘ve got to tell you, that‘s the problem.  I think, looking at this as an observer.  She‘s got to be likable because likability is the number one reason people vote for people..  You don‘t have to like it but they like to like the person they make president, do we agree on that?

MOLINARI:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  And also, she has to be strong.

ROSEN:  Mm-hmm.

MATTHEWS:  Is it hard particularly for a woman to be both likable—

Eisenhower was “I like Ike” and he was the General of the Army, right.  But it‘s harder for women?

MOLINARI:  Harder for a Democratic woman, in particular.

MATTHEWS:  Why?

MOLINARI:  Because I still think poll after poll shows that Republicans are still credited to a large extent, even where we are—Bush notwithstanding.

MATTHEWS:  So a Margaret Thatcher, a woman on the right would grab people‘s credibility quicker than a woman of the center-left or whatever, wherever Hillary is?

MOLINARI:  If her background was more on defense, more on intelligence issues, yes.

ROSEN:  I just don‘t see that.  If it‘s Mitt Romney versus Hillary Clinton, who has more foreign policy experience, who has more armed services experience, who knows more about what happens with the troops and the details.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that may be true but how about a liberal woman from New York, that‘s all you know about her.  A liberal Democrat from New York wants to be president of the United States, OK.  And this other guy from somewhere out in the country, he worked in Utah, he‘s from outside, he worked in Massachusetts but he‘s from the Michigan part of the country, the profile is better for him, isn‘t it?

ROSEN:  She‘s not going to come across, when she moves across this country in the next year and a half, as a liberal woman from New York.  That‘s just not who she is.

MOLINARI:  She may have to because she‘s got a primary to go through. 

Forget about the fact that she‘s a woman.

MATTHEWS:  A lot of liberal Democratic women in New York thought she was one of them when they elected her senator so you can‘t walk away from your roots.

ROSEN:  She doesn‘t have to walk away—Her primary voters know her and what they also know is maybe she hasn‘t been as liberal as they would have liked but she is who she is.  And that is strong in defense and those issues are going to serve her well in the general.

MOLINARI:  We‘ll see how far Barack Obama pushes her to the left.

MATTHEWS:  On that note, we‘re having Bill Richardson on tonight. 

This thing ain‘t over yet.

By the way, the latest bets out of Vegas on this are she‘s got a slightly less than 50-50 chance of winning the nomination, which puts her way above everybody else.  And a one chance in four of winning the whole thing, the whole enchilada, which puts her extremely ahead of everybody else.

She is the best bet for the next president, if you look at the numbers and the people who are putting the money on it.  We‘ll be right back with Hilary Rosen and Susan Molinari.  We‘re talking about Hillary Clinton, the best bet for the next president.

Get used to it.  Coming up later, a clip from Brian Williams‘ interview with Senator Clinton.  Plus - you liked that, didn‘t you - one of Clinton‘s primary rivals, or primary rivals, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a very popular guy.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari.  This is a hot button issue and I have saved it for the last.

During her presentation on Saturday Senator Clinton referred to the fact that she‘d been a fighter for basic women‘s rights.  And in a long list she included, I also fought for the soldiers in the field.  Do you think it‘s appropriate to compare fighting for abortion rights with fighting for the G.I.s over there?  In the same sentence?  Are those on the same level of moral commitment and if so, maybe we ought to know more about this.

ROSEN:  Well, obviously it‘s not on the same level of current importance and national importance right now.

MATTHEWS:  Moral commitment?

ROSEN:  But in terms of a moral commitment, I think that she does believe that her life‘s work on behalf of women has been a significant part of her moral commitment to public policy.  So I don‘t think it should be discounted.  But I don‘t think she would suggest that it bears the immediacy or the importance of the war right now.

MATTHEWS:  It struck me that she was pushing those buttons of different interests and concerns.

MOLINARI:  Check the box.

MATTHEWS:  What did think?

MOLINARI:  I think it did.  I thought it was the one stumbling block where she looked like she was kind of checking the box ...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s called a laundry list.

MOLINARI:  The laundry list.

ROSEN:  It was a nice summation.

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve got to be careful where you put the cars.  You put the train together you got to be careful about soldiers getting shot at and women‘s‘ rights to abortion.  Because you can believe in both.  But I think it‘s tricky to get them in the same carriage.

MOLINARI:  I think that‘s exactly right.  I think she‘s going to walk into the buzz saw we  just talked about which is going to be her greatest problem, can she really be the person that‘s out there, that‘s protecting and committed to our soldiers, the war on terrorism, et cetera?  I‘m sure she does not mean that in one way, shape or form but putting those two arguments together, issues together really hurt that.

MATTHEWS:  You heard that, too?

ROSEN:  Mm-hmm.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  We heard it together.  Hillary, you‘ll hear these things because we‘re going to watching them.

Anyways, I‘m wishing you luck, Hillary.  I‘m keeping my mind open.  I thought her opening on reflection, after hearing it a couple time was like vanilla ice cream.  My favorite flavor.  I thought it was great.

Up next Hillary Clinton says she‘s in it to win.  Can she win it in Iowa and Nevada, that‘s how you pronounce it, not Nevada, Nevada, and New Hampshire and South Carolina?  We‘ll ask the Hardballers.  “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is coming here.  MSNBC‘s Mike Barnicle from up in Boston and the “Washington Post” brand new reporter covering Hillary, Anne Kornblut.

And tomorrow join Keith Olbermann and I, Huntley and Brinkley, in other words, for live coverage of the state of the union.  Tom Brokaw is going to be with us.  By the way, go to hardblogger.com for live blogging all night.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Hillary Clinton‘s announcement that she is in fact running for president comes days after Barack Obama‘s announcement and days before the State of the Union, which is tomorrow night.  NBC‘s Brian Williams asked Senator Clinton about the timing of her announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Senator, first of all, thank you for doing this.  This is not exactly how or when you planned to announce this.  How else are you going to have to adjust to counter the presence of this Obama campaign, which is a surprise?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  You know, Brian, this is exactly how I intended to do this.  Once I made up my mind that I was going to contest for the presidential nomination of my party, I wanted to do it on the Web. 

I wanted to do it before the president‘s State of the Union because I wanted to draw the contrast between what we‘ve seen over the last six years and the kind of leadership and experience that I would bring to the office.

WILLIAMS:  So you had always planned to announce before the president‘s State of the Union address?

CLINTON:  That was our plan, yes. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well you can see more of Brian‘s interview with Senator Clinton on “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” of course.

We‘re joined now by the HARDBALLers, “Washington Post‘s” Anne Kornblut, new of the “Washington Post.”  And she‘s covering Hillary.  And “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, of course, and MSNBC‘s Mike Barnicle.

Well let‘s go around the table literally and figuratively with Anne Kornblut.  Is it entirely credible or checkable that Hillary Clinton did in fact plan all along to announce this Saturday?  It had nothing to do with the fact that it looked like Barack Obama got the jump on her Tuesday?

ANNE KORNBLUT, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I mean it‘s certainly possible that in her own mind she was always planning on announcing on Saturday, but I can tell you other advisers of hers and people who consulted with her before hand had considered it a moving target.

About a year ago, they were talking about doing it as late as she wanted.  They reminded you that her husband didn‘t get into the race until late in the game in ‘92.  And for awhile there, they‘d been talking about February, March.  So I mean, it‘s conceivable she‘d always intended this but I‘ll leave it up to you.

MATTHEWS:  But not provable or checkable, ultimately.

KORNBLUT:  Not provable.

MATTHEWS:  Howard, is it a fair question to ask whether she‘s telling the truth there since she always intended to do this, or is it in fact an earlier indicator of a lack of candor?  Let‘s be blunt.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK:  Well, I think it‘s a fair question.  I think it was somewhat of a moving target.  They might have wanted to do it now, but let‘s put it this way.  Any doubts they had about when they were going to do it were taken away by Obama.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re subsuming two options there.  One is it she planned and one she didn‘t.  Which is it?

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s possible actually that it was planned for this time.  But it had the right effect because I know from personal experience, I just got a phone call from Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago because I had said some things over the weekend about how the Daleys really don‘t like the Clintons all that much.  He wanted me to know that the Daleys were supporting Barack Obama, but not because they had any issues with the Clintons, which I take to mean they know how formidable she is.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I would accept that. 

FINEMAN:  And that was underscored by her performance over the weekend.

MATTHEWS:  That assumes that people behave politically.

FINEMAN:  That does assume that, the Daleys and the Clintons, that they behave politically.

MATTHEWS:  Mike Barnicle, Hillary Clinton—did she have a plan for Saturday or not?  We‘ll move on after that.  Your verdict now.  It‘s now in the boxing thing.  I think the referee has it slightly for the argument that she didn‘t have it planned.  I‘ve got another judge that isn‘t ready to judge. 

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  All right, well Eddy (ph) is dropping the ringside microphone now and I would say, no, she was pushed into it by the Obama camp.

MATTHEWS:  OK, split decision for those who believed that it was not planned, that this was a response.  Let me ask you how well it was done, Anne.  Do you think that she got her message across as planned?  In other words, did this go through like a smooth political operation that suggests she‘s on her way to a successful campaign?

KORNBLUT:  Well there don‘t seem to have been major glitches so far.  It didn‘t—even though we had rumors that she was going to announce on Saturday as far back as Wednesday or Thursday, it didn‘t leak out in some manner that she didn‘t intend.

Both she and Obama managed to have these completely leak-free announcements.  So I would say so far, again, she hasn‘t really put herself out there that much yet.  She‘s done these interviews now.  She had her one appearance in public yesterday.  Everything else has been controlled by her.  She‘s going to chats tonight on her Web site on the Internet.  A lot of is within her control, but so far it seems to be going the way they wanted it to.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it reminds me of back in New Hampshire back in ‘92 where Bill Clinton was walking door to door the Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, handing out video cassettes, which were of course the Web sites of that era, completely controlling the issue saying I can‘t trust the media anymore to filter out my truth because it was about the time of the draft letter, of course.  Do you think Hillary Clinton is trying to control the ball the way Bill did in those days to his success? 

FINEMAN:  Well, of course, even more so.  She‘s going to have this chat tonight, live Web chat.

MATTHEWS:  She‘s answering questions, too?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  She announced let‘s talk, let‘s chat, let‘s have a conversation.  And only if you want to ask me a question and have a chat, it‘s got to go through however many layers of my campaign there that will be vetting my questions that I get in my live chat.

MATTHEWS:  Did you watch “Saturday Night Live?”  We‘re going to show a bit of it tomorrow, but—Darrell Hammond is wonderful and he makes me look better than I am.  But I must say that they had a wonderful scene where he said to Hillary Clinton, as the woman playing Amy Poehler—he said I‘ve got some questions about Iraq and she says let me see them.  And then he has to pass them across the table.  And she goes through them and says no, no, then she pauses, no, you can ask this one.  It is a pufferino of course.

FINEMAN:  Chris, if you‘re really impatient to ask her questions, just send one tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNBLUT:  They‘re taking questions now, they started a 5:00.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t want to be critical because I‘ve sworn my oath to God that this—well at least to the gods of politics, that I‘m going to be completely open minded.  Did she have a good opening?

FINEMAN:  Yes.

BARNICLE:  We already have proof that she had a good opening.  She had a phone call from...

MATTHEWS:  Because Mayor Daley says whoa, I‘ve got to keep up with the option because maybe I‘ve got Hillary Clinton as president on my hands here.

FINEMAN:  In fairness to Mayor Daley, he was upset with something I said several days ago on that topic.  But he knows the Clintons.

MATTHEWS:  I like the fact that the second city, the Windy City responds to your every whim and concern.

FINEMAN:  Well you‘ve got Chicago here with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, that‘s a big contest here.

MATTHEWS:  Howard Fineman is election central already.  Anne Kornblut, you‘ve got to catch up to Howard at “Newsweek.”  Mike Barnicle, Howard Fineman, they‘re all staying with us.  Thank you.

By the way, congratulations Anne Kornblut.  I hope they‘re paying you what you‘re worth at the “Post.”  I assume they are.

Up next, the latest on Scooter Libby‘s trial with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster.  And later, a newly declared presidential candidate, Democratic Governor Bill Richardson and he is a charmer of the Bill Clinton class.  We all agree.  He‘s coming in here from New Mexico tonight.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let‘s check in now with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster.  He‘s been covering the Scooter Libby trial all day.  How‘s it going?  You got a jury? 

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, we do have a jury, and it is mostly female and mostly white.  Here‘s the breakdown: 12 jurors will sit in judgment of Scooter Libby.  Nine women, three men, and then here is the racial breakdown: 10 white, two African-American.  Both African-Americans are women.  There are no African-American men on the jury. 

A lot of the more educated members of the jury pool, Chris, were struck by the defense.  It including several Ph.D‘s.  There is one Ph.D.  who made it as an alternate.  But here are those who will be serving on the jury: An opera singer who at one point flirted with Patrick Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald suggested she had young sons.  She pointed out, no, they were teenagers.  There is a hotel sales manager, who says she reads a lot of celebrity magazines, doesn‘t know anything about the news.  There is an elderly volunteer who is also an art curator, a travel agent, a woman who works at Health and Human Services, who said she did not like Vice President Cheney‘s manner of being. 

On the men‘s side, there‘s also so—this you‘re going to find really interesting, Chris.  A former “Washington Post” reporter made it on to the jury pool.  He worked for Bob Woodward in the mid-1980s.  He shared an alley with Tim Russert.  He is friends with Walter Pincus.  An article from “The Washington Post‘s” Walter Pincus will be introduced as evidence.  But he was not struck by either side. 

In addition, there is a retired math teacher from North Carolina who‘s on the jury pool.  He suggested when he was asked about Vice President Cheney, he simply would not go hunting with him. 

But again, mostly white, mostly female, not as educated as the pool could have been, Chris, but again, the jury is now set.  They will get an hour‘s worth of instructions tomorrow morning, and then opening arguments begin.  Prosecutors intend to use an hour for their opening arguments.  Scooter Libby‘s team then will use an hour and a half—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I better not comment.  I have all kinds of comments in my head, but I‘m going to (inaudible) jury.  I have lots of theories about who won that match.  Anyway, than you, David. 

We‘re back with “The Washington Post‘s” Anne Kornblut and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman and MSNBC‘s Mike Barnicle.

Let me go to Anne Kornblut.  Thank you for joining us.  Again, Anne, the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to the oddsmakers, the people putting money on it—I‘m really going to study it this year—are saying Hillary Clinton has got a 50-50 chance roughly of winning against the entire Democratic field.  We‘re talking about the nomination here.  Does it sit that way with you?  She‘s in that good a shape?

KORNBLUT:  I mean, you can judge it by the poling numbers, you can judge it by the betting numbers, the London bookmakers.  I mean, look, you‘re going to kill me for saying I think it‘s too early to tell.  I think we‘ll know a lot more in a week or two. 

She‘s going to set foot in Iowa next weekend, and I think then we‘ll really see what—how she plays with the voters, what the gut level is on the street. 

Sure, she‘s got a great chance.  At this point, though, I think they all do. 

MATTHEWS:  Howard, the old argument, from the old pros like Germond in the old days, was don‘t believe any of these early numbers.  They‘re all inflated.  They‘re all about name I.D.  But I always fall for them.  And when you see a number like hers, high—she‘s mid-40s, and the closest competition is Barack at 20, is it that strong a lead as it looks like?

FINEMAN:  Well, the Jack Germonds of the world would also tell you that frontrunners often—not always—but frontrunners often win.  Now, they go through hell to get there, whether it was Walter Mondale or some people like Kerry... 

MATTHEWS:  Bob Dole.

FINEMAN:  ... and so on.  They sometimes struggle to the finish line. 

I think Anne‘s right, because Hillary‘s behind in both Iowa and New Hampshire in some of the polls.  Her people have said, you know, well, we‘re behind because Hillary hasn‘t been there yet.  If she goes there in Iowa and New Hampshire and she gets a big bump in both places, that will demonstrate something.  And we will know that within a few weeks. 

KORNBLUT:  And let‘s not forget, we spent a good part of the 2004 primary watching, saying that John Kerry was losing Iowa when he then went on to win.  It was December—the December before.

MATTHEWS:  Mike, is it the more—the more the better for Hillary Clinton, the more people think about her, get to know her, it helps her? 

BARNICLE:  I think the more people in the field, sure, helps her.  But I keep thinking of Ed Muskie in the 1972 New Hampshire primary. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re the only one who does. 

BARNICLE:  Well, the point is, he was the huge frontrunner.  And he‘d never been in a primary before, and couldn‘t handle it.  Someone at some point, either via email tonight or in her conversations, someone is going to stand up and say, Mrs. Clinton, what makes you think you‘re qualified to be president?  And we‘re going to have an interesting answer.  Not just her, from the entire field.  How is she going to—I want to hear her answers. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a Roger Mudd question.  That‘s a different Roger Mudd question...

FINEMAN:  I do think that‘s the question.

MATTHEWS:  What have you done to deserve the presidency?

FINEMAN:  Yeah.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a bit of “Saturday Night Live.”  This was a skit that was on this week and it was (inaudible), Darrell Hammond playing me, and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARRELL HAMMOND, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:  So what‘s your new plan for Iraq? 

AMY POEHLER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:  Chris, this week I‘ll introduce a resolution calling for a greatly speeded up withdrawal of U.S. forces with a specific trigger mechanism.  For every one-point increase in Senator Obama‘s poll numbers, 7,500 U.S. troops will have to be withdrawn.  Of course, if his poll numbers should collapse or if he drops out of the race, the troops can stay in Iraq. 

HAMMOND:  I get it, but what about those Democratic primary voters who are still upset about your initial vote for the war? 

POEHLER:  Chris, I think most Democrats know me.  They understand that my support for the war was always insincere.  Of course, knowing what we know now, that you could vote against the war and still be elected president, I would never have pretended to support it. 

HAMMOND:  Uh-huh. 

POEHLER:  I mean, for heaven‘s sake, look at my record.  I don‘t even support necessary wars. 

HAMMOND:  But a lot of Democrats like the fact that Obama was always against the war. 

POEHLER:  Chris, let me say something about Senator Obama, for whom I have the greatest respect.  He seems to take positions based on studying an issue and then following his convictions.  Which is perfectly all right.  But suppose he were to go to Iraq and conclude that the war was necessary, after all.  He might decide to support it.  Can we really trust someone like that? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Yikes.  What do you think, Ann?  They‘re smart writers up there, aren‘t they? 

KORNBLUT:  And they nailed you perfectly, don‘t you think? 

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m talking about her.  I‘m talking about her.  Howard, that idea that a lot of liberals say, oh, yes, she voted for the war because she had to, but she didn‘t really believe in the war. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Well, they put their finger on the big problem with Hillary in the eyes of a lot of voters.  But I think it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Too much positioning. 

FINEMAN:  Too much positioning.  But it is going to come down to the question—in a very strong field, by the way, with a lot of very qualified people—just because she‘s a survivor, just because she‘s tough as nails, what has she done that qualifies her to lead the world in the post-9/11...

MATTHEWS:  And you‘re going to tell me right now the answer to that question.

FINEMAN:  I don‘t know the answer, exactly.  I don‘t know.  I want to hear what her answer—it‘s going to depend a lot on what she proposes to do, because people think she‘s an effective person.  Since she doesn‘t have that much of a record, she‘s going to have to say...

MATTHEWS:  You think that question‘s a tough one for her?  What have you done to deserve this job?

BARNICLE:  I think it‘s a tough question for not just her, for perhaps the entire field.  But the...

MATTHEWS:  Not so much for McCain. 

BARNICLE:  Not for John McCain.  OK, I‘ll give you that. 

MATTHEWS:  He deserves the presidency.  Whether he should be president or not, it‘s up to the voters.  But he‘s certainly done a lot. 

BARNICLE:  But back to the “Saturday Night Live” piece.  What that piece also did is it captured the sense that some people have of her that she‘s just too contrived, too cautious, too packaged. 

MATTHEWS:  Did that surprise you?   

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Anne Kornblut.  Thank you, Mike Barnicle.  Thank you, Howard Fineman.  Thank you, Darrell Hammond, once again.  Thank you, Amy Poehler. 

Up next, Governor Bill Richardson plays HARDBALL.  You‘re watching HARDBALL right now, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the field of democratic candidates that have decided to run for president, you can now add Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico who announced Sunday.  Governor, thank you. 

How do you join a crowded field with Hillary, you know, they call her the 800-pound gorilla—I don‘t think it‘s a very felicitous way of describing her, but how do you go into a race that has already got Hillary and Obama in it?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Well, Chris, I am a governor.  This country traditionally has elected governors.  I am from the west, where there is a burgeoning Democratic vote.  And then thirdly, I‘ve got the experience.  I‘ve got the background.  You know, we talk about getting out of Iraq, restoring America‘s international standing, becoming energy independent, creating jobs. 

I have done that as secretary of energy, and U.N. ambassador.  I negotiate with good guys, with bad guys.  I think we need somebody that will bring the country together, that will heal some of the decisions between Democrats and Republicans, that will break the Washington gridlock. 

And so what I am saying is that I‘ve got the executive experience, the drive, the vision, the optimism about this country, the patriotism to get it going again.  And that‘s why I‘m throwing my hat.  I know I‘m an underdog, I know that.  I don‘t have the money of these other candidates or the name recognition, but the race, Chris, is a year away and I feel good about connecting with voters and talking positively about what I would do.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Democratic voters, the people paying attention and the people voting in these polls and caught up with the idea of novelty?  They have to have a woman, they have to have the first African-American.  They‘re not thinking about the usual standards for winning a general election, executive experience, foreign policy experience, the usual things you would think we‘d be looking for as voters?

RICHARDSON:  Well right now I believe primary voters are looking at name recognition, and what I sense around the country, Chris, from Democratic voters—and I have traveled a lot as chair of the Democratic Governors and I‘ve been to the primary states—is one, Democratic voters want somebody that can win, No. 1.

And No. 2, they want somebody that has experience, and knows how to get the job done, and I like to say that this is what encourages me besides the fact that I was able to win in a red state like New Mexico and get 40 percent of the Republican vote, that I can win a general election, that I can be acceptable in the Midwest and the West and the south and of course the traditional bastions of the Democratic Party. 

The fact that I am Hispanic is a new element in the political equation that is good.  But right now, I think the polls are based on name recognition.  It‘s a year away.  It‘s based on who gets the most press attention out of Washington D.C.

And I just believe that being a governor, where we are dealing directly with jobs and health care and renewable energy, fixing people‘s problems in contrast to the disconnect from the Congress and the administration and the Senate, that the American people will look at somebody with a track record, with experience, with foreign policy experience, with executive experience, with energy experience, if we‘re going to become energy independent.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it seems to me, looking back over the elections of our lifetime, that every presidential election is a solution to a current problem.  We look for in the new candidates running what is missing in the current president.  How do you meet that test?  What do you have that George W. Bush doesn‘t have?  I will be blunt.

RICHARDSON:  Foreign policy experience.  When he came in as president, he traveled literally only to Mexico and Europe.  I have been U.N.  ambassador dealing with 185 countries.  I‘ve been secretary of energy, running with the Russians and OPEC countries.  I have negotiated just in Darfur with the Sudanese on a cease fire, with the North Koreans.

President Clinton used to say the bad guys like Richardson, so we will send him to deal with them.  The point is that if we‘re going to have diplomacy as our main weapon, which we should, we should be talking to North Korea, to Syria, to Iran.  We should be engaging diplomatically, and I have done it. 

I don‘t have to study.  I have actually negotiated, I have been face-to-face with very tough dictators, like Saddam Hussein and the North Koreans in Bashir of Sudan.  That‘s what I bring.

And I bring a lifetime of not just a graduate degree, service in the House Intelligence Committee, U.N. ambassador, also secretary of energy.  And as governor, I kind of—they say I am the only governor with a foreign policy, so I‘ve got that portfolio.  And our main objective should be to restore America‘s standing in the world and get out of Iraq this year.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about electoral votes.  Tim Russert and others have pointed out that this could be an election decided in the southwest, not Florida like in ‘00, or not in Ohio, as in ‘04.  But in ‘08, it‘s going to be your state, about Nevada, about Arizona, about Colorado.  That fulcrum that could turn, it seems to me even if Hillary were the nominee for president, perhaps she was V.P., I don‘t know how it‘s going to work out, it‘s going to be moving out there, because I think the Midwest could be a tougher challenge for her than the southwest.  Do you agree?

RICHARDSON:  Well I do agree that the west is a huge opportunity for Democrats.  Had John Kerry won Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, he did not have to win Ohio and he would be president today.  And we‘ve neglected the west, and now you are seeing a sea of change from Canada to Mexico of western states dominated by democratic governors, new House and Senate seats, Tester in Montana.  So this is virgin, dynamic territory for a democrat and I am from this region.

MATTHEWS:  Were you inspired that Jimmy Smits beat Alan Alda on “West Wing” for president?

RICHARDSON:  Well, I watched that with interest and I liked the ending. 

MATTHEWS:  I bet you did.

RICHARDSON:  But at the same time, Chris, I think the American people really want somebody who can get things done and bring the country together and talk about spirit and talk about values, and just resolve the differences that we have, a healer, a unifier, and I‘ve done that.  I‘ve done that as a diplomat and negotiator.  I‘ve done it as governor, but the voters will decide.

MATTHEWS:  Well, governor, you‘ve got one thing going for you. 

Everybody likes you, so that might help.  It sometimes does.

RICHARDSON:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Tomorrow on MSNBC, all day coverage leading up to President Bush‘s State of the Union.  I‘ll be live at 5 and at 7 for HARDBALL and a full preview with the president‘s speech with guests Howard Dean, Trent Lott, Andy Card and more.  And then, Keith Olbermann and I will anchor MSNBC‘s coverage of the president‘s address to the country.  We‘re the new Huntley/Brinkley, by the way.  And after the speech, Hillary Clinton is going to join us.  See you then.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 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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