updated 1/23/2007 12:54:01 PM ET 2007-01-23T17:54:01

Guests: Pat Buchanan, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Alter, Tom Curry

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the Monday edition of the show. 

The country‘s conversation about the 2008 presidential election hit full stride this weekend, two years to the day before the next presidential inauguration.  On Saturday, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York made it official on her Web site, she is in.  And so the longest full-scale, full-blown, talk-about-it-every-day run-up to a national election in American history has begun. 

And the first question on the minds of almost everybody is also the most obvious one: Can Hillary win?  Her long-term pollster‘s response was simple -- “Of course she can.”  Well, for once that‘s not just spin.  Consider the polls.

According to the latest “Washington Post”-ABC News survey of Democratic voters, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama, her nearest rival, by 24 points.  She leads last presidential cycle‘s vice presidential candidate John Edwards by 30 points. 

These numbers will change, of course, in the coming months, probably dramatically, but that‘s not the point.  The point is that when ordinary Democrats were confronted with the real possibility of Hillary Rodham Clinton as president of the United States, most of them did not faint or throw up or flee to Canada or do anything else reasonable.  They approved. 

Republicans don‘t seem to have internalized any of this yet.  When asked over the weekend to comment on her announcement, many party leaders struck patronizingly friendly tones, as if a Hillary Clinton candidacy would be a godsend for the GOP.

Think again.  If she can win the primaries—and she can—she can win the general election.

Prepare accordingly. 

Well, here to make sense of all this that has happened in the last 48 hours, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson. 

Welcome to you both.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hey, Tucker.

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Eugene Robinson, do these numbers make sense to you?  Let me reframe it.  I live in the most Democratic city in America, I  know a lot of Democrats here in Washington.  I don‘t know a single Democrat who doesn‘t know Hillary personally or work for her who is anxious to see her run for president. 

ROBINSON:  The numbers really surprised me from “The Washington Post” poll. 

I expected them to be much closer.

I, like you, know a lot of Democrats who are worried that Hillary Clinton would be denonized by the Republicans in the general election, and to the extent that she wouldn‘t win.  But I agree with what you said in the opener.  I think these numbers indicate, you know, yes, she can win.

I mean, she‘s a viable, viable candidate.  The numbers will change.  Both Obama and Edwards, I think, will come up.  Edwards is really running kind of an interesting campaign beneath the radar.

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  And I expect him to do a lot more as we go on. 

CARLSON:  Well, if you look at some of these other polls, Pat, they‘re interesting.  When asked why—when Democrats are asked, “If you don‘t support Hillary Clinton, why not?”  They gave two reasons. 

Twenty-six percent said, I just disagree with her.  Which makes sense.

BUCHANAN:  All right.

CARLSON:  Twenty-nine percent, the single largest group, said, I‘m not supporting Hillary because she can‘t win. 

So this becomes a kind of self-fulfilling situation.  The more Mrs. Clinton can convince people she can win, the more likely she is to win. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  That‘s exactly the Nixon problem from 1968. 

Republicans loved Nixon but they said he can‘t win, he‘s a two-time loser.

What you do then is you go into the primaries, you start winning.  And once you win—if you win a nomination, that argument goes out the window.  She‘s in good shape having that, the main argument, against her.

The problem, Tucker, is this: is these polls are important and significant, but the really meaningful polls are the ones in Iowa and New Hampshire.  This thing is going to be over, I would guess, pretty close to February 10th.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

BUCHANAN:  And the first two—if Hillary, Frankly, wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it‘s all over.  This is going to be a race where Hillary is going to be—is going to have the depth and strength and legs, if you will, to go the distance, and somebody else is going to be the non-Hillary candidate. 

Right now, if I had to bet, I would bet not on Barack Obama, but John Edwards, because I don‘t know if Barack, for all this charisma and everything, whether he can really go the distance here.  So—and there‘s one other X factor.

On February 25th, Tucker, the Academy Awards are going to be held.  “An Inconvenient Truth” is going to get document of the year.  Al Gore‘s going to be up there for two minutes. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

BUCHANAN:  I‘ll bet he talks about global warming and the war.  Then he goes on “Oprah,” Leno, Letterman.  If he‘s going to go, that‘s the time to launch.

But one of those four, I think, is going to be the nominee.

CARLSON:  Well, I just—I think—I think Democrats are—maybe I‘m giving them too much credit, I‘ve done it before.  But I think Democrats are smarter than that.  I mean, Al Gore is fun to talk about.  He was right all along, but to nominate him... 

I wonder, Eugene, what do you think of Hillary Clinton as an actual candidate?  Mickey Kaus in Slate makes a great point today. 

He says Mrs. Clinton comes out in her first campaign appearance—in this campaign—and instead of talking about rhetoric, focuses on the children.  You know, and children‘s healthcare.

This is what Kaus says: “It‘s not clear that mommyism is the best antidote to Hillary‘s image as a scold who knows what‘s good for us and is willing to use government to make us do it.  Is state maternalism any less annoying or demeaning than paternalism?”

ROBINSON:  Interesting point.

You know, I think she‘ running as a mature adult.

CARLSON:  OK.

ROBINSON:  She‘s running as someone who is, you know, a slightly wonkish mommy, if you will, who‘s looking for real solutions to real problems, like health and, you know, problems with children and all that.  You know, she‘s running as a serious person. 

CARLSON:  But do you like her?  When you watch her, what do you—I mean, do you think, this is someone I‘d want to eat with, who is cool, who is warm?

ROBINSON:  You know, in person she is warm.

CARLSON:  Yes, she is.  I agree.

ROBINSON:  You know, but she doesn‘t come across through television, through the Web with the warmth that she exudes in person.  Although, I thought her Web announcement on Saturday was really quite good.  It was kind of like—you know, it had the sheen of Merchant Ivory Productions. 

CARLSON:  They probably produced it.  You never  know.

ROBINSON:  Well, produced it.  It was really, really quite something.

And, you know, look at the—look at the three Web sites.  Look at her Web site, look at Obama‘s and look at Edwards‘. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  Hers is, you know, very—everything is there, it‘s very complete, it‘s very professional. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  She is getting extra credit. 

ROBINSON:  Obama‘s isn‘t ready yet.  Obama‘s basically gives you a couple of videos and sends you to his Senate reelection Web site, which is a bit more complete.

Edwards‘ is amazing.  I mean, it‘s really playing with the whole kind of new social networking Web stuff...

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  ... blogs and diaries.  His diary, Elizabeth‘s diary.  It‘s a fascinating, very kind of sticky Web site. 

CARLSON:  It‘s good.

Do you like her, Hillary? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, Hillary—I understand—I don‘t know her personally...

CARLSON:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  ... but in person I understand she‘s very charming. 

This was an outstanding, though, thing she did on Saturday, because it went right at her negatives.  Her negatives is she‘s a feminist, she is shrill, she has no charm.  What did Mrs. Bush say—“It rhymes with witch.”  OK?

This thing went right at that.  That was a warm person with a sense of humor who‘s talking about, right, the Chris Matthews‘ (ph) mommy issues, as opposed to the daddy‘s issues.  You know, missiles and defense. 

So what she is doing, this is the Democratic Party.  This isn‘t our party, Tucker, the old Republican Party.  This is a party that cares about health and education and caring for people.  It‘s a party predominantly women in the presidential election.

It was an outstanding kickoff that she‘s got.  She‘s been out there three days.  We‘ve been showing that—I was over at MSNBC Saturday.  I must have seen that film four times. 

CARLSON:  No, you‘re right.  You‘re right.

BUCHANAN:  And it was a great kickoff for her.

CARLSON:  But I have to say, I just wonder...

BUCHANAN:  But as horse flesh (ph) as a candidate up there...

CARLSON:  Yes?

BUCHANAN:  ... in the same sense we think of, say, Clinton on the stump, Bill, Reagan, Kennedy.  I mean, if they are 9s or 10s, she‘s about a two or a one.  She just can‘t do it.

CARLSON:  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  She should avoid side-by-side speaking appearances with her husband, Bill Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Oh, no doubt.

ROBINSON:  I mean, there‘s no...

CARLSON:  But I wonder—in the minute we have left, tell me this: can she -- you can‘t get elected president in 2008 when Iraq is this overriding historic issue talking about children‘s healthcare.  She—Terry McAuliffe, chairman of her campaign, out this morning on the “Today” show explaining away four years later her vote for the war in Iraq.

“She voted to give the president authority to (INAUDIBLE) and go over there and negotiate with Hussein.”

BUCHANAN:  Terry‘s a good man.  He‘ll do it every time for you.

CARLSON:  I know.  He‘s a sweet guy.

But what is she going to do about Iraq? 

ROBINSON:  Well, that‘s, I think, her biggest vulnerability inside the Democratic Party.  She‘s going to get hammered Obama, who...

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  ... you know, he was an Illinois state legislator, but he was against the war on the record before it started.  And Edwards has recanted his vote in favor of the war in a way that she really hasn‘t.  So she‘s going to get hit on that. 

BUCHANAN:  She will move.  She will move gradually and slowly.  She will not recant and say, “I made a mistake” in the most important vote she ever cast in the Senate, but she will move, because the Democratic Party is going to be virtually a 100 percent anti-war party by the Iowa caucuses begin. 

CARLSON:  Well, she—what she should just say, obviously, is “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Coming up.  It will work.  That‘s my advice.

BUCHANAN:  That did it last time.

CARLSON:  You want to be president?  You‘re married to a legendarily charming politician with legions of devoted followers, as well as legions of ardent enemies.  If you‘re Hillary Clinton, what do you do about the old man?

Good question.

Plus, President Bush faces a tough crowd tomorrow night for the State of the Union.  Will he take a dramatic turn left in his domestic agenda?  And would that appease his opponents on the war in Iraq?

We‘ll take a look.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s hard to mention the name of that junior senator from New York now officially running for president without her husband coming to mind.  So how exactly will Bill‘s presence be felt during Hillary‘s campaign?  Will it help her?  Will it hurt her? 

Here with some informed theorizing, “Newsweek” senior editor Jonathan Alter.

Jonathan, thanks for coming on.

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  Hey, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Here‘s what I noticed.  In Hillary‘s rollout on Saturday—we‘re now calling her “Hillary,” by the way.  That kind of tells you all.  Her pollster, Mark Penn (ph), sent out this long memo calling—referring to her as “Hillary,” just by her first name.

Typically, a consultant refers to his boss by the boss‘ last name. 

Moreover, the husband was nowhere to be seen. 

These are just indications, I believe, of that campaign‘s attempt to put Bill Clinton in the background.  You think that‘s right? 

ALTER:  No.  I think they‘re going to use him the way general election candidates use the vice presidential candidate, so they can be at two places at the same time. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  So they‘ll have him campaigning halfway across the country for her. 

They‘ll almost never have them side by side.

I don‘t think they will ever have them speaking one after the after, because you remember what happened at the Correta Scott King funeral?  That was just a disaster for Hillary Clinton, because she gave a, you know, perfectly fine but completely ordinary eulogy.

Clinton came in, he sized up that the event had gotten too political.  And it was, after all, a funeral.  He pointed at the box where Corretta King was.  He said, there‘s a woman in there—a real woman, and he gave this brilliant, extemporaneous eulogy that made Hillary look bad. 

And so after that, they got very careful not to have them in the same place at the same time.

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s going to awkward at points, certainly.  But when Barack Obama—on February 10th, when Barack Obama comes out and announces, as we believe he will, his intent to actually run for president, he‘ll have his wife Michelle with him.  And she‘ll—you know, she‘ll be standing and look gazing upon him adoringly, as political spouses do. 

Mrs. Clinton, you will never see her—you didn‘t see her this weekend with her husband physically in her presence endorsing her candidacy, will you?

ALTER:  You will see them together at that kind of an event.  And the same way on election night, when she was reelected to the Senate.  They were together.  He was in the background.  So you‘ll see him in the background.

What you won‘t see is, often the spouse will introduce the candidate.

CARLSON:  Right?

ALTER:  You will not see that because it‘s too hard of an act to follow. 

So you won‘t see Bill Clinton introducing Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  You‘ll see him in the background, though, once in a while.  Most of the time you‘ll see him on the other side of the country wrestling up votes. 

He very much wants her to be president.  On balance, he‘s an asset.  But there are also some risks associated... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s one of them.  I mean, obviously, everyone, you know, snickers about his womanizing.  Well known.  Right.  Great.  Fine.

I think people understand that.  They‘re giving him a pass or not. 

Whatever.  Their minds are made up.

But his financial situation is more complicated.  And I‘m not saying he‘s done anything wrong. I don‘t believe that he has.  But he‘s involved in a series of pretty complicated financial dealings, he speaks to a lot of foreign governments. 

Is that going to be any kind of a conflict for a woman who aspires to be president? 

ALTER:  I don‘t think so.  I think they‘re pretty careful about that kind of thing.  And I don‘t see that becoming a big issue. 

You know, he is actually giving fewer paid speeches now than he did a couple of years ago because they made a lot of money.  And he doesn‘t, you know, have to rack up the dough the way he did to pay legal expenses. 

So I don‘t envision that being a problem.  But I think there‘s going to be a kind of awkwardness that‘s just at the center of the whole thing.

I mean, just in terms of—let‘s say they disagree on an issue.  Will Democratic primary voters say, well, hey, we like, you know, former President Clinton‘s judgment more than candidate Hillary Clinton‘s judgment?

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  But he‘s going to defer to her because she‘s the candidate, or the president. 

What will they be called?  Will they be called President Clinton and the former President Clinton when they‘re introduced by protocol, were she to be elected president?

There‘s so many things that go beyond her being possibly the first woman president.  The first spouse of a president is a whole other category that we don‘t fully understand yet.

CARLSON:  I wonder what—what was, in retrospect, the point of throwing off the yoke of England and the monarchy if we‘re gong to go ahead and establish these dynasties to rule our country?

I mean, Jeb Bush can‘t run for president because people are sick of having the Bushes in charge.  I get it.

Aren‘t people going to say, “Wait a second, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, stop”?

ALTER:  I think so.  I think Clinton fatigue will end up being a big issue.  And if she doesn‘t make it—and it‘s very possible she won‘t—that we‘ll look back at that precise point as being a critical reason why. 

I do think there‘s an anti-dynastic impulse in the American public.  And if you look...

CARLSON:  Boy, I don‘t see it—Ted Kennedy.

ALTER:  ... like, 1980 was when President Bush Sr. first was on the ticket for vice president. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  So, if Hillary is elected to two terms, we could be from 1980 to 2016, 36 years, with either a Bush or a Clinton on every single ticket.  You add Jeb in there at the other end and it‘s another eight years.

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s just grotesque.  And on that note, Jon, before you say anything else that‘s going to upset me, we‘re out of time. 

No, that‘s just too much.

Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek”—thank you.

ALTER:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, remember illegal immigration?  All those people flooding over the border to make money and send it home?  Well, it‘s still going on, some people are still upset about it.  The president, though, still approves of it.

What will he say tomorrow night in his State of the Union Address about immigration?  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, Barack Obama had the presidential stage to himself for approximately a day before Hillary Clinton crashed his party.  What should Obama do about her?  What should she do about him?

Stay tuned for answers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  In a little more than 24 hours from now, President Bush will be delivering his sixth State of the Union Address.  What his plan for Iraq, the new way forward already revealed, what is left to say?

Among the topics he‘s expected to cover, global warming, healthcare and immigration policy.  Exciting, and it‘s supposed to be a very liberal address, according to those who have seen indications of what he‘s going to say.

Here with predictions, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.  And from “The Washington Post,” Eugene Robinson.

Welcome to you both.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Tucker.

ROBINSON:  Thanks.

BUCHANAN:  Pat, his approval ratings are just so low, Bush‘s.  I wonder if people will even hear what he says about Iraq. 

BUCHANAN:  Oh, sure.  I think they‘re going to listen to it.  My guess is, the same formulation.  But I will say this: whenever I hear the phrase “global warming,” I reach for my revolver.

CARLSON:  I do, too.

BUCHANAN:  You know, this is...

CARLSON:  It‘s actually an automatic, but whatever.  It‘s—I agree with you.

BUCHANAN:  Health insurance, global warming, and immigration.  Uh-oh.  Here he comes.  He‘s going to run as a—as a big government Republican, a Bush Republican, not a Reagan Republican. 

And to get these through, he‘s going to need Democratic help.  And frankly, he‘ll probably get some Democratic support on these.

CARLSON:  What they are saying, Eugene, is, you know, it‘s a Democratic country now.  They‘ve got a Democratic Congress.  And we‘ve got to make them like us, so raise cafe standards and get upset about global warming and have lunch with Bono.

Is this going to make liberals like him? 

ROBINSON:  Well, no. 

CARLSON:  Yes, exactly.  Thank you.

ROBINSON:  I mean, with the—but, you know, maybe he has come to the realization that the country ought to do something about global warming, ought to acknowledge, you know, our contribution to it and start working on some way to eliminate carbon emissions. 

I mean, I know more about this than I should.  My wife used to work for EPA.  And this is—you know, you have to talk about mitigation and adaptation and all sorts of things.  And I really don‘t think he‘ll get to it in the speech.

CARLSON:  I think not.

ROBINSON:  It will be kind of a Band-Aid that doesn‘t really get to, you know, the heart of any meaningful action.  And the real meaningful action, of course, would be international, to get China and Brazil and India and these other big countries, you know, to agree to some sort of green initiative.  He‘s not going to do that.

CARLSON:  No.

BUCHANAN:  It sounds like corporate conservatism

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s what it‘s been from day one. 

BUCHANAN:  The big corporations, they‘re the ones that want the open borders.  They‘re the ones that are now moving for these set-asides in the global warming—carbon emissions and all that stuff.  And health insurance, they‘re concerned about those things.

So that‘s what it‘s like.  It‘s probably...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, but it‘s been a suck up to corporate power from day one.  And sucking up to corporate power is a bipartisan effort, by the way.

BUCHANAN:  They pay the tuition.  They pay the tuition, Tucker, for all those candidates over there. 

ROBINSON:  I disagree on the immigration issue.  I think—I think he sincerely believes in a liberal immigration policy. 

He believes it‘s good for the country.  If he didn‘t, you know, why would he take all the political damage he‘s taken over his stance?  And so I think that—I don‘t think that‘s necessarily just in response to corporate demands. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

ROBINSON:  He‘s sincere.  He‘s sincere, but it is something the corporations really want and the base of the party is 100 percent against. 

CARLSON:  Well, Bush‘s position on this—and I‘ve talked to him about this at some length—is an emotional position.  You know, I‘m the governor—I was the governor of a state contiguous to the United Sates, I know Mexico, I speak the language, I like the people.

Well, I grew up on the border, too, and I like the people, too.  And that‘s why—I mean, you can make the counter argument that they‘re suffering, that our—our allowing them to sneak over the border and die in the desert is not a compassionate thing, and coming here to work for nothing in chicken processing plants is not compassionate, or whatever.

But it is—I agree with you.  It‘s emotional.

ROBINSON:  Yes.  You know, the Texas experience is different from the Arizona experience. 

CARLSON:  It is? 

ROBINSON:  I mean, it really is.  And there‘s more of a melding of cultures around the border in Texas, more of a sense of flow back and forth.

BUCHANAN:  You know...

ROBINSON:  More acceptance of that than Arizona.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The Democrats know the politics of this, too, and it‘s their—their base, too.  The working class folks and African-Americans, quite frankly, who are as hostile as anyone to masses of illegal immigration.  I saw that one...

CARLSON:  Well, because they screwed by it.  That‘s why.

BUCHANAN:  I saw that one company down there in Georgia where they ran off 75 percent of the illegal immigrants.  Two hundred black folks showed up and got the jobs.  This is...

CARLSON:  If you‘re an American citizen, you can essentially no longer make a living with your hands, period, because you are undercut by people much more desperate than you from... 

BUCHANAN:  Or they are pulling your wages down. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  And I‘m not blaming them.

BUCHANAN:  They‘re hard working.

CARLSON:  I mean, I understand why they‘re doing that.  They‘re very hard - - they‘re harder working than I am, and I respect them for that.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

CARLSON:  But to say—to argue that they‘re not depressing the wages of working-class Americans is not true.

But I wonder, can he, Eugene, overcome the hostility from the Democratic Party sufficient to get his immigration proposal through Congress? 

ROBINSON:  You know, I don‘t think he can, actually, especially as we move into the campaign cycle.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  Because I believe the Democratic Party is going to move more toward a, you know—not necessarily overtly hostile, but it‘s going to be tougher on immigration than it was a year or two ago. 

CARLSON:  Really?  You think so?  Why? 

ROBINSON:  Well, because a good part of the base, African-Americans, working class Americans, who Democrats are trying to get back into the party and active in the party, really do feel that illegal immigration or legal immigration is depressing their wages and hurting their lifestyle.  Economists may disagree on the impact, but a lot of people...

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  ... feel that.  And I think Democrats are going to respond to that. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, white folks who voted 58 percent for Bush in 2004 fell to 51 percent.  Now, these are Reagan Democrats, working-class white folks who are coming back, Jim Webb Democrats.  They don‘t like an amnesty on this illegal immigration. 

I think the Democratic Party—I mean, politically, I think they‘re leery of going for amnesty and going for the guest worker program, which the corporations want because it‘s going to hurt them and why should they help Bush? 

CARLSON:  Right.  That‘s—I hope you‘re right.  I don‘t want to see that become law.

Coming up, you can‘t tell the players without a map, a scorecard.  We‘re less than two years from the inauguration of the president of the United States.  So don‘t miss our ‘08 presidential roundup.  You don‘t want to be caught off guard by the beginning of the Dennis Kucinich administration, do you?  No, you don‘t.

Plus, the only contest with more competitors than the presidential race is “American Idol.”  Did the apparent victims of network television cruelty get exactly what they wanted in the first place?  Don‘t miss the informed analysis of Willie Geist coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Maybe it‘s the effect of global warming or the secret work of a trilateral commission or maybe it‘s just bad luck, but the race for president of the United States has begun about a year earlier than ever before.  From Hillary Clinton to the great Dennis Kucinich, the only Vegan in the race, everybody seems to be in. 

Here to evaluate the field, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate himself Pat Buchanan, and the “Washington Post‘s”  Eugene Robinson.  Welcome to you both. 

Pat, here‘s a number that must be distressing for John McCain.  OK, here‘s the latest “Washington Post/”ABC New Poll, conducted last week, late last week, Rudy Giuliani among likely Republican voters, 34 percent, John McCain 27 percent.  Giuliani leading McCain by seven points and it‘s not even clear he is going to get into the race.  McCain has been running for six years now.  What does that mean? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, what it means is Giuliani—we don‘t know anything about Giuliani ever since basically 9/11, where he was a hero, “Time Magazine‘s” Man of the Year.  Nobody has any reason to attack Giuliani.  Everything has been positive on him Tucker.  The moment he gets in, the 34 goes down. 

John McCain is in the cat bird seat.  I‘ve never, or rarely seen, a Republican candidate this far ahead, better organized in the primary states, further ahead in the national polls against the people he‘s going to compete with, and with fewer people who I think can beat him.  This race, I would say right now—I don‘t think Giuliani is going to run.  I think it‘s almost down to Romney-McCain. 

These other fellows, Brownback has tried to move into the conservative vacuum, but a lot of people are doing that.  There must be five or six.  Democratic race is Hillary, I think it‘s Edwards, it is Obama and I‘ll say Al Gore, and I think those four.  One of those four is going to win it. 

CARLSON:  On the Republican side do you agree with that?  Do you think McCain is essentially the nominee?  Republicans like to get this over early and anoint the guy.

ROBINSON:  Yes the do, and it looks to me like McCain is way ahead.  And, you know, maybe Romney, maybe Brownback will catch on with conservatives.  I don‘t know.  I don‘t think it goes much beyond that. 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t take Giuliani seriously? 

ROBINSON:  I grew up in South Carolina.  I‘m trying to picture Rudy Giuliani trying campaigning in South Carolina and really relating to people, and I‘m not seeing.  So, I don‘t think he‘s going to run.  

CARLSON:  I would think that too.  What do I know.  It does seem like he‘s resonating with Republican voters much better than I ever thought he would. 

BUCHANAN:  He gives a great speech.  His speech at the convention, it was not this declamation that you usually see.  He was up there and he told that story of 9/11.  That speech is terrific and he does a great job on it; it fits right in.  But when he goes down there the second or third trip, they‘re not going to ask him.  They‘re going to say, Mr. Mayor, is there any truth to the fact that you marched in that gay pride parade behind the NAMBLA float and are you pro-abortion 100 percent?  You‘re in favor of Roe v. Wade. 

You‘re for gun control?  If you try that up in New Hampshire, you‘ve cut yourself out of half of the Republican party.  And so I think McCain has moved about as far out of the social conservative base of the party as you can, and he‘s not that far left.  Giuliani‘s almost beyond Hillary out there.  

CARLSON:  That‘s always been my assumption, but his numbers sort of belie that.  Maybe it‘s the wrong poll. 

ROBINSON:  People know 9/11 about him.  They don‘t know anything else about him.

CARLSON:  What about Bill Richards?  He just announced.  He announced by saying, you know, I‘m not running as a Hispanic candidate.  I am a Hispanic candidate.  I proud to be Hispanic, but I‘m not running as Hispanic.  I‘m not sure most people realized he was Hispanic?  Whatever that means.

ROBINSON:  You know, some people might not have realized that he‘s Hispanic. 

CARLSON:  He went to Exeter and he has, you know, no accent. 

ROBINSON:  But, of course, he is Hispanic.  He speaks fluent Spanish.  He is engaging and witty and brilliant, and he has foreign policy experience.  He‘s got a lot of things.  I think we‘d be talking a lot more about him had the Obama phenomena not happened.  And, you know, it‘s not his year, I think.   

BUCHANAN:  Here‘s what he‘s doing.  I‘ll tell you what he is doing.  He is running for president.  He will be very gracious to all the candidates, because he‘s running for vice president, as a practical matter.  There are four arguments for him for vice president, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, where he can bring—If he can bring the Hispanic vote out enthusiastically, he might be able to tilt those four states to a Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

So I think he is running for vice president, which means he will run a  high level, positive campaign, not cutting up anybody, just stating his positions, friendly, full of humor, elevates his profile.  The worst thing that could happen, you know, Graham—you know Graham, the senator from Florida, if he had not gotten in the race and gotten as sharp as he had gotten, he would have been the vice presidential candidate and Kerry would be president. 

CARLSON:  He‘s such a decent guy and Bill Richardson is such a decent guy, as you point out. 

BUCHANAN:  He‘s a likable guy. 

CARLSON:  It‘s just hard to believe that he would actually run with Hillary Clinton. 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  I will run with Hillary, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  You would run with Hillary? 

BUCHANAN:  But here‘s what I mean, you look, the vice presidency of the United States, a heartbeat away, and you‘re in the history books.  Come on. 

CARLSON:  Plus you get the best house in Washington.

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  But why these other guys?  Maybe you can both give me some insight into this.  I mean, you have people running explicitly for vice president.  I think it‘s a very fair point that Governor Richardson is one of them. 

You have people running purely ideological campaigns, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, congressman.  He‘s not going to win.  He‘s going to bring up important issues, as you did, I thought—I mean, you were running an intellectual‘s campaign, and you almost actually did pretty well.  But what about people like Chris Dodd, really good guy, bust most likely not going to win.  Tom Vilsack also I think in category, Jim Gilmore on the Republican side.  Why are they running? 

BUCHANAN:  Well Vilsack wanted to break out of Iowa and win it.  Of course, he‘s got to win it at governor.  That‘s the only chance he‘s got and then he is running for VP, I think, basically.  He‘s got to realize that he can‘t run around the horn.  But the other guys—who‘s the other ones you mentioned right there?

CARLSON:  Jim Gilmore.  

BUCHANAN:  Well Gilmore—they all see this vacuum Gene and I have been talking about.  Tucker, there‘s the biggest vacuum I‘ve ever seen among conservatives.  They don‘t like McCain.  They don‘t want McCain.  They want a Ronald Reagan.  They want a conservative leader, a Barry Goldwater, and there‘s a lot of people in there that are going for that.  Duncan hunter wants to be that.  Brownback wants to be that.

Gilmore has said he wants to be that; I‘m the conservative candidate.  There‘s a huge vacuum in there and it‘s not being filled.  That‘s the biggest vacuum in American politics, is the conservative wing of the Republican party. 

ROBINSON:  What about Newt?  Do you think Newt‘s going to run?

BUCHANAN:  He said he would get in—I don‘t see him getting in, being a serious candidate, going the distance, if you get in that late.  I really don‘t, but I think what he is counting on is that the guy standing in the Fall is going to be McCain, and McCain doesn‘t have the—

CARLSON:  Yes, I think we need to acknowledge that, as off-putting as his style can be, and it can be terribly off-putting—I mean, he is the smartest guy in any room he walks into, by his own announcement. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t think people actually care about that at all.  Do you see McCain‘s appeal as the maverick candidate?  Can he carry that on?  So now it‘s been like seven years since he started his first campaign.  Is he still a maverick—

ROBINSON:  Right, can you be a maverick forever? 

CARLSON:  Yes, exactly.

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know.  I think McCain‘s basic problem is, as Pat said, conservatives don‘t really like him. 

CARLSON:  Why is that. 

ROBINSON:  I think it‘s a much bigger hurdle getting through the primaries. 

CARLSON:  Why don‘t—I mean, there are a lot of candidate I could go through.  I mean, conservatives seem to be giving a pass to Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who clearly has not governed as a conservative.  Whether you agree with him or not, and I‘m not attacking him.  I‘m merely saying his conversion to conservatism happened about 20 minutes ago. 

John McCain, by contrast, is an actual pro-lifer.  He votes against legal abortion and has for his career in the Congress, and yet they act like he‘s some kind of secret lefty. 

BUCHANAN:  Here‘s the thing.  What did he say in “Vanity Fair,” if they want, I‘ll build them their G.D. fence on the border.  That‘s him talking about—it‘s a history here, Tucker, of real problems.  You know, he is not a terribly beloved fellow in his caucus. 

CARLSON:  He‘s hated.  People hate him.

BUCHANAN:  Well frankly, he is abrasive.  He‘s in your face.  He‘s a tough guy and all these things.  And, you know, this doesn‘t go over well over a long period of time. 

CARLSON:  But wait a second, conservatives are supposed to hate Washington. 

BUCHANAN:  They think he is the candidate of the media and they are right.  He was—the media was his base, and the conservatives know the media don‘t like him, and they promote people who are not conservative.  So I think there is a real opening that Newt has got—that there is an opening on the right, but I don‘t know if Newt can -- 

ROBINSON:  Here‘s another problem for McCain, Iraq, and his position that we should send, I guess, a bunch more troops and stay in until the bitter end, until to victory.  He has lost the country on that. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s the general election disadvantage.  I don‘t know if it will be too much of a disadvantage in the primaries.  Only Brownback and Hagel have gone anti-war, if you will, or let‘s get out. 

CARLSON:  You‘ll notice, two of the most conservative candidates running for president on the Republican side have come out the most aggressively against on Iraq.  That‘s odd. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, well Brownback has, but I think in a Republican primary, it‘s hard to run against the Iraq war and really hard, and then win the nomination, repudiating Bush‘s war and Bush‘s surge, win the nomination, unite the party.  The G.O.P. is like the Democrats in 1968, the Bobby Kennedy/Gene McCarthy wing, versus the Humphrey wing and the LBJ wing, which was loyal to the war in Vietnam.  And I think this is why McCain could lose to Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  If I could just make one obvious point, I would say the president‘s Iraq policy has 35 percent, 31 -- let‘s say it‘s 29 percent.  Twenty nine percent of the country agrees with what Bush is doing in Iraq, abysmally low.  That 29 percent is more than the number of Republican primary voters who will chose the Republican candidate. 

(CROSS TALK)

ROBINSON:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, Nancy Pelosi says the president knows that Congress will keep funding his war.  Ted Kennedy says he has got no such intention.  Where exactly are Democrats on the war in Iraq?  An up to the moment update is next. 

Plus, with the Rosie/Donald feud set to simmer, the drawl that started it all is now out of rehab.  Her name is Tara Conner.  She is still Miss USA Today—Miss USA—wow.  Speaking of, she is clean and sober, unlike some of us.  Find out where she goes from here, next.  

(CARLSON)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA:  The primary objective of our overall U.S. strategy should be the following, to encourage the Iraqi leaders to make political compromises that will foster reconciliation and strengthen the unity government, ultimately leading to improvements in the security situation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So far, congressional Democrats and quite a few Republicans have declared their profound opposition to President Bush‘s new way forward in Iraq, the surge.  One of them is the man you just heard from, Senator John Warner of Virginia.  Senator Ted Kennedy went on “Meet the Press” Sunday to say that he would use the power of the purse to effect the war‘s policy if he‘s not satisfied with the war‘s direction. 

So far though, the president‘s opposition has been all talk and very little concrete action.  To examine option and strategy, Tom Curry, MSNBC.com national affairs writer, who was actually at the press conference with Senators Warner, Collins and Nelson, joins us.  Tom, welcome. 

TOM CURRY, MSNBC.COM NATIONAL AFFAIR WRITER:  Good to be here.

CARLSON:  If you are Bush and you lose John Warner, it strikes me as very significant.  This is a kind of—you know, this is the Republican establishment‘s foreign policy guy, with decades of experience.  What does it mean to Bush that Warner doesn‘t appear to support his plan? 

CURRY:  But remember, we are talking about a non-binding resolution.  So, it doesn‘t effect the funding of the war.  It doesn‘t set a cutoff date for bringing the troops home.  What the Senate is trying to do at the moment is get the president‘s attention.  They really don‘t want to get into a confrontation over funding.  And this resolution that Senator Warner offered today was bipartisan, in the sense that Ben Nelson was standing up there with him, the senator from Nebraska, but also significantly up there with him were Norm Coleman, Republicans from Minnesota, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who both are up for re-election, as is John Warner in 2008.

CARLSON:  Who may or may not run.

CURRY:  Who may or may not run, but Coleman and Collins have real problems in reelection  and the voters in their states, as in a lot of states, are uneasy and unhappy about the Iraq war.  What is Congress doing so far?  They are rhetorically trying to get the president‘s attention and saying, we are not happy about it.  It‘s not working.  We don‘t support it.  But the question is, would they ever get to the point of cutting off funding?  They could, but we are still pretty far from that point. 

And all the signals—John Warner said today, specifically, it‘s ill-advised at this point in time for us to even discuss withholding of funding.  Well then the question is, if you have already told the president, you know, we‘re not threatening the funding for the war, at least not at this time, then how seriously will he take this non-binding resolution? 

CARLSON:  But that‘s like saying, in the end I will pay you 1,000 dollars for the television set, but I would rather pay you 500.  I mean, you‘re giving away your bottom line and you can‘t have negotiation, effectively anyway, if you do that.  Can you?

CURRY:  The president, probably next month, will come to Congress and say, I need 100 billion dollars more for the Iraq war, the supplemental spending bill.  I asked some Democrats in the last several days, would you consider, if he says 100 billion, would you consider 75 billion.  Maybe you look at this war and you figure he doesn‘t really need 100 billion.  He needs something less than that, and Democrats are very reluctant even to consider that, because, as Jane Harman of California, Congresswoman Jane Harman said to me, we know what the White House would do.  If he said, I need 100 billion, and we introduce an alternative resolution, or spending bill, saying we think you only need 75, the Whit House will accuse us of under-funding the troops, hurting the troops.   

CARLSON:  I get it.  So Bush will be mean and call them names if they do something he doesn‘t like.  Therefore they‘re not going to it.  Even though they were elected to do that, they‘re not going to, because they‘re afraid of being called names? 

CURRY: Well, what I take from this is that even after last November‘s election, when Karl Rove, you would have thought, was repudiated, was beaten, that the Democrats are still very wary of what Karl Rove might do to them on this issue of under funding the war or cutting off funding for the war. 

Now, there are Democrats, certainly in the House, and maybe in the Senate as well, who are ready to cut off funding, and say that that‘s the only way to end the war.  If you look at history—I mean, the interesting thing, if you go back to 1973 and the Vietnam War, in May of 1973 the Senate voted to cut off all funding for the Indo-China war.  Among those voting to cut off the funding on that day, May 13th, 1973, were Joe Biden, who was a freshmen senator back then, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, and two Republicans who are still in the Senate, Ted Stevens of Alaska and Pete Domenici of New Mexico. 

CARLSON:  Amazing, they could do it.  They are just too cowardly.  Tom Curry, thank you very much. 

Well, if you didn‘t already think “American Idol” has become too mean, too nasty, too cruel, the testimony of last week‘s most famous rejects will change your mind.  We‘ve got new information about the kind of people the show uses to get you to laugh.  Willie Geist joins us just mere moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Back by popular demand, the man you‘ve waited 55 and a half minutes to see.  He is joining us now, Willie Geist from headquarters.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It will be partially worth the wait.  I promise Tucker.  I‘ve got some news from your very own family, the “Dancing With the Stars” family, Tucker.  We don‘t want to divulge too much.  We‘ll let them announce it all, but TMZ.com reporting a few of the new candidates for the new season, which begins March 19, Ian Ziering from “90210,” Steve Sanders, Layla Ali, who is Mohammed Ali‘s daughter, Joey Fatone of NSync, and the godfather of the mullet, William Ray Cyrus.  There he is, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tucker, joining your exclusive “Dancing With the Stars” family.  How does that make you feel? 

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing.  I can‘t wait to the see him at the reunion. 

GEIST:  Nobody rocks a vinyl shirt better than Billy Ray Cyrus.  See that picture?  He look good.  He looks really good.  Well, in other reality TV news, Tucker, two of the guys who were humiliated by Simon and company on “American Idol” the other night appeared on “The Today Show” this morning.  Twenty one-year-old Jonathan Jayne and his friend Kenneth Swale (ph) had their physical appearances, among other things, mocked by the Idol judges last week. 

And, as most of us suspected, Jayne, it turns out, has a form of autism.  He has also competed in the Special Olympics. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you feel that Randy was making fun of the challenges that you and your friend Kenneth face on a day-to-day basis?  Do you think it went even beyond just being critical of your looks, to something more than that? 

JONATHAN JAYNE, AUDITIONED FOR “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I think that he was just, you know, trying to make television.  You know, all the of them are going to be—all of them are going to act like that.  They‘re actors, you know.  They go home and they know what they‘ve done, but they‘re just actors and they are trying to make bucks and increase ratings. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Oh, really?  But we‘re the bad guys, right Tucker, for pointing that our last week.  Any way --  

CARLSON:  Now wait a second Willie, here you have TV producers, as you well know, the single most diabolical group in the world -- 

GEIST:  No, I don‘t know. 

CARLSON:  -- go and actually drag a Special Olympian in to make fun of him.  You‘ve got to admit, that‘s pretty evil. 

GEIST:  It‘s totally evil and actually the kids said they had no problem with what was said about them.  The Special Olympics issued a statement today, saying they had no problem with “American Idol” or the show, because it showed that Jonathan could get out and do things like this. 

But, you know, what else can you say?  We don‘t have to say anything.  You just saw it right there.  I‘m not going to talk about “American Idol” anymore, because I can actually feel the atrophy in my brain with each word I say.  So I‘m just going to stop.  Although I‘ll say Jonathan rocks a Hawaiian shirt like nobody I‘ve seen in a long time. 

GEIST:  I‘ve lost ten IQ points just talking about it, just during this segment.  

GEIST:  Let‘s agree to stop, all right?  Well, I‘m not going to sign that.  Well, maybe.  Well, after a month in rehab, Tucker, Miss U.S.A., Tara Conner, released back into the wild yesterday.  Conner was last seen in December at a press conference, tearfully thanking Donald Trump for allowing her to keep her crown as long as she cleaned up her party habits. 

The 21-year-old did that, theoretically, at a clinic in Pennsylvania and she has now returned to her apartment in New York City.  Conner will resume her Miss U.S.A. duties, whatever those may be, after she is settled in back at home.  And let me just suggest, Tucker, that living in Trump Tower in New York City with a bunch of other Miss U.S.A. types, probably not the best way to get off the sauce, just my experience.  Dial back the partying lifestyle. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s probably not a good idea.  Does sound like a good party though.  

GEIST:  It is a good party.  And, let‘s not forget, she‘s the one who ignited the Trump/Rosie thing, so we have her to thank for that.  

CARLSON:  Yes. 

GEIST:  Finally Tucker, if you‘re in the market for a little wine, some beauty cream, or even a BMW motorcycle, the beaches of Devin, England the place to be right now.  A French cargo ship, carrying 2,400 large cargo containers, has been listing off the coast of southwest England since it ran into trouble last week.  The crew was rescued from the trip safely, but some 200 containers fell overboard and have washed ashore.  Looters have been flocking to the beach to scoop up the floating goods.  Police say at least 15 BMW motorcycles have been snatched. 

Those pictures are amazing.  It‘s amazing only 200 fell off.  They actually beached it on purpose.  It‘s not going to fall in anymore.  But how do you loot a BMW motorcycle?  Where are the cops?  They obviously don‘t care.  I get a bottle of perfume, or a bottle of wine, you put in your shirt, but how do you loot a motorcycle?   

CARLSON:  I think all police in England are occupied, keeping order at soccer matches. 

GEIST:  They‘re not doing a very good job of that either. 

CARLSON:  I know.  Willie Geist. 

GEIST:  All right Tucker.   

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘re back here tomorrow.  Tune in then.  Have a great night.

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

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