updated 1/24/2007 11:51:34 AM ET 2007-01-24T16:51:34

Guests: Howard Dean, Andy Card, Chris Dodd, Hilary Rosen, Ellen Tauscher

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m getting the pregame butterflies. 

It‘s that feeling I get at this time on election day, that feeling of, “Wow, this is going to be interesting.”

Will it be obvious as we watch this State of the Union that the president sees one reality and that Congress and the country sees another?

Tonight we‘ll get the verdict.

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

Welcome to HARDBALL. 

In just a few hours, President George Bush will deliver his sixth State of the Union Address.  But for the first time, he‘ll do it before a Democratic controlled Congress.  Sitting behind him in the House next to his embattled vice president, Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be elected speaker of the House. 

Can the president use this speech to muster support from the American people for his unpopular war in Iraq? 

Does Bush have the political capital to introduce new domestic initiatives, or with three years left in his presidency is he already a lame duck? 

This speech comes at the lowest point of his presidency.  Polls show Americans do not support the escalation of the war in Iraq and his fellow Republicans are defecting. 

Can this president hold off a full-scale Republican rebellion against his policies in Iraq? 

More on this later from President Bush‘s former chief of staff Andy Card. 

But first we‘re joined by the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. 

Governor Dean, is your party holding all the cards tonight? 

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN:  Well, we hold a lot of them because the American people have given those cards to the Democrats.  The president had his opportunity.  He misled the American people in Iraq.  It‘s really been a president that‘s helped folks at the top but not much in the middle or at the bottom.  And I think you‘re going to see more of that tonight. 

I‘m particularly offended by the healthcare plan, which essentially imposes a tax on middle-class Americans and a big tax break, again, for the folks at the top.  And that‘s been a recurring pattern in this presidency. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about what‘s going on on the Republican side.  You must be enjoying this today.  The word in the press is that—there‘s a story that John McCain, who is the frontrunner, according to the polls, along with Giuliani for the nomination.  In fact, the betting money, which I‘ve been watching since I‘m heading to Vegas soon, the betting money is on McCain.  He just took a big shot at the vice president, saying that Dick Cheney gave the president lousy advice in getting us in the war the way he did, fighting the war the way he did.  And then you see Scooter Libby saying that—his lawyers saying that Karl Rove‘s people and all those were trying to set him up. 

It seems like there is a division of fire on the Republican side with everybody, the usual suspects all not being supportive of each other these days. 

DEAN:  Chris, this is the same thing we saw in Watergate when things started to implode.  The question is not did the president—vice president give the president lousy advice.  The question is did he withhold information from him and cause a war that had no reason to be executed? 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the answer?  Did he? 

DEAN:  Well, nobody‘s going to know that right now until we find out what‘s in those papers and what‘s gone on and at the Congress—one of the reasons the Democrats are in the majority right now is Congress didn‘t perform their oversight function for six years and now we‘re going to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  Is George Bush an honest man? 

DEAN:  Most of the American think the answer to that is now.

MATTHEWS:  How about the veep, is he an honest man? 

DEAN:  I think most of the American public believes the answer to that is also no.

MATTHEWS:  How about you, governor?  Do you think the vice president‘s an honest man?  Or is that being considered in this trial right now? 

DEAN:  You know, I don‘t want to get involved in the trial because that‘s up to the jury.  But I do not think that the president was truthful with the American people when we got into Iraq.  Nor do I think the vice president has been truthful with the American people. 

MATTHEWS:  Why did we go to war in Iraq if it wasn‘t for the reasons given? 

DEAN:  I have absolutely no idea.  And I‘d like to know an honest accounting of that for the 3,000 American families who have lost their loved ones. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Democratic position.  There seems to be an emerging bipartisan feeling, a general consensus that putting more troops into the streets of Baghdad is a dangerous move.  John Warner, the much-respected ranking Republican on Armed Services from Virginia, is putting out his own resolution along those lines.  Do you think that‘s the American consensus, at least don‘t make this war worse, as a doctor would say, don‘t do any more harm? 

DEAN:  Well, I think that there is a broad consensus among the American people and also in the military that additional troops is not going to work.  We know—or we believe now that President—Prime Minister Maliki also told the president he didn‘t want any more troops. 

So, you know, this is—the president got us into a disaster and it‘s unfortunately getting worse, not better.  Democrats have said that we ought to have a strategic redeployment of our troops, that we ought to be out by 2008.  And I think that hasn‘t changed any. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about healthcare because you‘re a doctor, an M.D.  Let me ask you about this.  It seems to me that healthcare is no longer the topic of choice for people like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.  The Republicans—you‘ve got Mitt Romney, the—who just left as governor of Massachusetts, who had a plan.  You‘ve got Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gets a lot more publicity.  He‘s got a plan.  Is there a bipartisan opportunity to give all Americans a healthcare plan?  Is there an opportunity out there for both parties to get together? 

DEAN:  There is, Chris.  There is an opportunity.  Unfortunately, the president is once again going in the wrong direction and going in the direction that the American people don‘t want.  What the president has proposed is tax deductions, which of course help people at the upper end of the income scale.  And the people without insurance are at the lower end of the scale. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought he would tax people‘s better premium—higher premium benefit programs. 

DEAN:  Yes, you know, that hits union members and middle-class people.  The one thing that a lot of middle-class people still have is a decent healthcare plan.  Now the president wants to tax that... 

MATTHEWS:  As income. 

DEAN:  That doesn‘t make any sense whatsoever.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  Is he going to say that it‘s income?  If you get your teeth fixed, that‘s income? 

DEAN:  That is what has been leaked about the speech, is that he‘s going to say a good healthcare plan above the average is income and it ought that will be taxed.  You know, the problem is, if this is going to be fixed—and I hope it will be—it‘ll be because... 

MATTHEWS:  The trouble with that, won‘t it be the healthy young people, a you guy who‘s 25 and believes he can take on the world, you know, our kids, for example, will say, “I don‘t want a healthcare package if I have to pay taxes on it.”  And you will defeat the purpose of collective risk? 

DEAN:  Well, that‘s one of the problems.  That certainly is a problem.  The other problem is that people who don‘t have health insurance are making $30,000 and $40,000 and $20,000 a year.  They can‘t benefit from a tax deduction of $7,500.  So once again, the president‘s programs seem to be aimed at those who are making a lot of money and they seem to be taxing the people who aren‘t making much money in order to pay for that.  I think that‘s a huge mistake. 

We could have a bipartisan agreement on healthcare, but it‘s going to be done inside the Congress.  The president looks now like he‘s not interested in playing a serious role in that. 

MATTHEWS:  If you were sitting in the Congress tonight, would you get up and applaud the president when he came in? 

DEAN:  Certainly, of course, I would.  You employ—you applaud the office, no matter what you think of the occupant of the office.  When people get up and stand, and I hope they all will, it‘s not because of President Bush, it‘s because we respect the presidency of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your party and your schedule for next year.  I‘ve been studying it like everybody else who‘s a political junkie.  Most of the people watching the show know that the first four big primary tests are going to be, of course, the Iowa caucuses, Nevada caucuses—

Nevada caucuses, I have to say it right—New Hampshire primary and South Carolina. 

I read today that California is moving up and may go to February 5 right here on the first big Tuesday, and that Florida is trying to move up and try to sneak in there maybe a week in after New Hampshire.  That would seem to benefit Hillary Clinton, who has the unlimited bucks.  She‘s not taking federal financing.  She can blow out these other guys by going to big states early and prevent them from getting started early.  It seems like bad news for John Edwards. 

DEAN:  I think a lot of the candidates will be well financed.  So I‘m not concerned about that. 

However, if Florida moves up early, any candidate who campaigns in Florida won‘t get any delegates.  And their delegates will be redistributed to the rest of the field.  So the Democratic rules are very clear about that.  I can‘t do anything about that.  Those were rules that have been adopted.

On the Republican side, if Florida moves up early, no delegates will be awarded in Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  So you don‘t think that‘s a factor. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What about California?  The largest state—we only have a few minutes.  If California, which—I‘ve always advocated this when I used to write for the San Francisco paper—had the Rose Bowl primary, move it up so the biggest state, the most diverse state gets to pick presidents, not just small states like New Hampshire.  If they move up that early, it seems to me Hillary, who‘s a celebrity like we‘ve never seen in politics.  She owns the Left Coast.  It seems like you‘re giving it to her if she has an early California primary. 

DEAN:  Well, again, I think that there are a number of candidates who

will raise the money and have substantial status.  Don‘t forget, we‘re well

almost exactly a year from the first primaries.  That‘s going to give people a year to get out and do all kinds of things.  When I started running four years ago, nobody ever heard of me.  And, you know, I wish California had been moved up when I was running. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re you challenging my assumption or presumption that if you have big state primaries early, that doesn‘t help Hillary?  You don‘t think that helps Hillary?

DEAN:  I...

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s the best-known person in the country politically, almost, next to Bill.

DEAN:  The reason I would prefer not to have big state primaries early is I would like a level playing field for folks that—so that individual Americans could look people in the eye, shake their hands and take their measure...

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  Retail.

DEAN:  ... That‘s why I like the retail of politics.  Once you get past the first four, I would prefer California to be a little later.  But if it gets to February 5, it‘s not going to skew the primary system.  When people start moving before February 5, not only will it skew the primary system, but that will harm things a great deal.  And frankly, we have some really tough rules... 

MATTHEWS:  You know, We got through—last question, governor.  We got through Watergate.  I was here during that.  And you know all about it.  And it was a bad time in politics. 

And one of the good things to come out of it was some sort of public financing of campaign so that the tycoons don‘t call the shots.  Hillary Clinton has apparently decided not to go to public financing but to go to unlimited campaign fundraising to win the campaign for the Democratic nomination.  Is that a healthy thing, to give up on the Watergate reforms so soon? 

DEAN:  I can‘t complain about any candidate doing that because I was the first candidate to ever do it in the primary before the general.  We had a ton of—an enormous amount of support.  It was all grassroots support, small donations.  We concluded we would not be able to compete with the Republicans... 

MATTHEWS:  So where are we?  We‘ve forgotten Watergate already?  Hillary was on the Watergate committee.  And we‘re going to drop all the reforms because you guys can raise a ton of money now.

DEAN:  That‘s totally untrue.  In fact, the Senate just passed and the House just passed terrific a ethics legislation which is long overdue.  Look, I‘d like to see public financing with campaigns.

MATTHEWS:  OK, you can‘t have a cheeseburger from a lobbyist.  OK, I‘m really happy now governor.  You can‘t take a cheeseburger from a lobbyist, but you can take zillions of dollars in campaign financing if you want to be president.  What‘s the bigger ethical danger here?

DEAN:  In $4,000 increments.  Look Chris, I already said I‘d like to have public financing of campaigns.  I hope we will, but we don‘t right now.  And we have a system that it doesn‘t work because somebody decided to go outside the system.  Otherwise, I‘m more guilty than anybody else.  Don‘t forget we had a vote among our supporters on the Internet before I did that.  So look, the system is broken.  I don‘t think it‘s any candidate‘s fault. 

MATTHEWS:  Well governor, I‘m a big fan, despite what I say.  Thanks for coming on.  You were the first guy to come out against this war.  I think you may end up looking very prescient in the history books, even if you don‘t get to be president.  Thank you for coming on. 

DEAN:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, what will President Bush say tonight?  Will his State of the Union to a majority now made up of Democrats be different than the others he‘s given? 

Former Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card is coming right here to sit at this desk in a minute.  And at 9 p.m. tonight, Keith Olbermann and I will have live coverage of the State of Union.  And afterwards, we‘ll talk to Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois.  We‘ve got all the big ones tonight, Lindsey Graham and John Edwards.  We‘re going the big three Dems, plus a lot of others tonight.  We‘re going to have immediate reaction from our MSNBC team who will be blogging out there during the speech and all night tonight.  So you can talk to people like Joe Scarborough, Mike Barnicle.  They‘ll be typing away.  Hilary Rosen, Chuck Todd and Tucker Carlson.  They‘ll be blogging on our Web site here, HARDBLOGGER.  I love it, hardblogger.msnbc.com.  You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  In just a few hours, the president will enter the Capitol of the United States to deliver his sixth, it‘s hard to believe, State of the Union address.  It comes just weeks after the president has called for more than 20,000 new troops in Iraq. 

Here to talk about it is someone who is intimately familiar with the

White House, President Bush‘s former chief-of-staff Andy Card.  Why is it -

and I‘m not buttering you up, sir, that most if not all with the exception of H.R. Haldeman, every chief of staff of the president, Democrat or Republican, is a grown-up, is a responsible person.  Even under the worst problems with Clinton, the worst problems with all these presidents, they stand true.  Whether it‘s Howard Baker or Ken Duberstein.  What is it about that job that makes you be somewhat bipartisan?

ANDY CARD, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION CHIEF OF STAFF:  You have to have good peripheral vision and understand the reality of getting things done.  I felt very blessed to have the chance to work as a chief of staff, but I was even more blessed to have been able to see Jim Baker do the job as a chief of staff or Howard Baker do the job of the chief of staff, Don Regan, John Sununu.

MATTHEWS:  Who was the guy that was from North Carolina that did a good job, too?  Bowles, something Bowles.  I‘ll think of his name in a minute.  Erskine Bowles.  He was a grown-up in a crowd of people that weren‘t too grown up.

CARD:  Leon Panetta.

MATTHEWS:  Panetta couldn‘t keep Bill Clinton under wraps, that was his problem.  Monica was too damn close at hand. 

Let me ask you about tonight‘s speech.  When you have a State of the Union address, I just want to talk procedure right now.  My memory of working in the White House with Carter was that it took months to get this thing rolling. 

CARD:  Well, the president tells the staff kind of where he‘s headed very early on.

MATTHEWS:  Like in November? 

CARD:  Oh, yes.  No, they would have started this easily in November. 

They would have started working on policy.  I know that they started working on energy policy and health care policy very early on.  And the president also would have sat with the speechwriters several times to...

MATTHEWS:  ... Really?

CARD:  To sit and think about things that he wanted to say.  And many of the speeches that are delivered in November and December are really opportunities for the speechwriters to find the cadence that the president wants to have on the night that he delivers the State of the Union address.

MATTHEWS:  So the out of town tryouts?

CARD:  Well, I don‘t know about that.  The president works hard at the speeches that he gives.  And he works even harder at the policy that goes into the speeches.

MATTHEWS:  How much time does he spend in the family theater rehearsing?

CARD:  I don‘t know how many times he was there this time.  It was normal for him to have two or three sessions in the family theater.

MATTHEWS:  Are you in there to critique?  Do you tell him that he ought to slow it down on that point or this is the big home run, slow downs here?

CARD:  Early on, you offer your suggestions.  You don‘t criticize him or critique him.  You offer suggestions.  I would say the last chance is for the president just to deliver it and he understands if the cadence is right.

MATTHEWS:  Now, he‘s looking at a prompter when he practices the speech.  I remember Clinton once they gave him the wrong prompter, remember the health care speech?

CARD:  I sure do.

MATTHEWS:  And whatever else he is, he‘s a genius.  Clinton just did it cold without any script. 

CARD:  I actually think most presidents can do a very job of delivering the speech, even if it doesn‘t show up in the teleprompter because they have practiced it.  It‘s really their words.  They may have been suggested by a speechwriter, but they become the president‘s words.  President Bush clearly goes through the speech.  He is a terrific editor.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, he is.

CARD:  He is very, very good at working the speech.

MATTHEWS:  Can he hear himself?  Peggy Noonan is a pal of mine.  She wrote for Reagan, of course.  I think she could actually hear Reagan when she sat at the typewriter or word processor or at the paper.  She could hear the voice of the boss as she wrote.

CARD:  That is a goal that every chief of staff has in terms of finding good speechwriters.  You want them to hear the voice of the president before they give him the words to say.  Mike Gerson was the best at it. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the great.

CARD:  He was phenomenal.

MATTHEWS:  I think that speech you guys—the president gave the Friday after 9/11 at the National Cathedral here was the best organized, structurally speech I have ever seen in my life.

CARD:  That was my most memorable day at the White House, September 14, 2001.

MATTHEWS:  That speech should be given out to speech writing school if there is such a place.  It‘s a do it like this.  And you knew that when you saw it.

CARD:  That was a great speech.  That whole day was a phenomenal day.  The other speech I thought was particularly good was September 20 to the United States Congress when Tony Blair was in the first lady‘s box, the prime minister of England.

MATTHEWS:  Is President Bush good at—does he ever say sorry, you don‘t have it yet?

CARD:  Oh, yes.  He‘s very tough on the speechwriters.  If they don‘t have his voice, he discovers it first.

MATTHEWS:  Who is the new Mike Gerson?  Do you have a new one?

CARD:  Bill McGurn is over there.  He does a great job.  But there is a very young speechwriter, Chris—I can‘t think of his last name now, but he‘s a Yale graduate.  He has really found the president‘s voice and he helps the president out quite a bit.              MATTHEWS:  When he—when the president commissions a State of the Union, does he say, “Give me some real high-falutin‘, symphonic language that gets the people aroused,” or does he say, “Give me the particular substance I want?” 

CARD:  He goes through the substance and he says, “Help me find the right words to describe it.” 

But he‘s not looking for the flowery language.  He does look for language that reflects his core values and his core beliefs.  And I think that‘s why Mike Gerson was so good because Mike could really read the president as well as write in his voice. 

MATTHEWS:  How‘s he doing, the president? 

CARD:  The president....

MATTHEWS:  I feel for him.  I mean, I think—I don‘t agree with him on some of these things, nobody does, on a lot of these things.  But even Republicans on both sides of the aisle seem to be having problems with this guy on this war issue.  It‘s a terrible war.  What‘s it like to be over there at the White House these days?  Do you know? 

CARD:  You know, the president is a remarkable person.  He‘s very strong.  He‘s upbeat.  He feels good about the decisions he makes.  He makes tough decisions.  He never has the luxury of making an easy decision.  And the toughest decision...

MATTHEWS:  Does he still go to Cheney for advice? 

CARD:  He listens to everyone. 

MATTHEWS:  You heard today what happened, didn‘t you? 

CARD:  I did. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you hear that McCain and Rapp (ph) took a real shot at Cheney, saying he‘s been giving bad advice?

Do you agree with that? 

CARD:  No, I don‘t.  I actually think the vice president gives very, very good, sound advice.  But he also understand his role.  He is not the president.  He helps the president be the president.  And the president makes the tough decisions.  And the toughest obligation the president has is to protect us and keep that oath.  And he knows that it can‘t be done without a lot of help.  And it comes from the troops.

MATTHEWS:  Someday, Andy, I want you to come on this show and tell us what George Bush is really like, my favorite question of all politicians. 

CARD:  He is funny, smart, well-read, disciplined, decisive in his decisions.  And he is a man of conscience. 

MATTHEWS:  Great stuff.  What a great, loyal guy you are.  And you may well be telling the truth. 

CARD:  I am. 

MATTHEWS:  I know you are, from your point of view. 

Andy Card, former chief of staff to President Bush, giving us an insight as to what the president‘s up to as he plans the State of the Union Address. 

Up next, will President Bush say anything tonight that Democrats will like?

Well, that‘s a tough standard.

2008 contender Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut is going to be here. 

We have all New England tonight.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.

This is fun tonight.  We‘re on HARDBALL, of course, getting ready for the president‘s State of the Union. 

Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut will be one of a half dozen Democratic contenders for the presidency sitting in the House chamber tonight when the president delivers his State of the Union Address. 

Well, what‘s it like to be in a crowded room of contenders, Senator Dodd?  You‘re not the only guy in that room.

SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) CONNECTICUT:  I‘ve been here for 25 years.  I‘ve been in a room of contenders all my life here. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, do you have to react to the camera?  When the camera looks at you, do you have to show a certain amount of sophisticated discernment when the president makes a complicated point about Medicare or what? 

DODD:  I think—you better know in this day and age, Chris, that camera‘s on you all the time.  Don‘t ever assume it‘s not.  So, but also you went to pay attention out of respect for the office.  I remember years ago there the people making—I forget which president—they made catcalls.  That‘s highly unacceptable here. 

This is an important moment.  A big moment for him, obviously.  And a big moment for the country.  Obviously, it‘s a great tradition in the nation to gather together for this.  So I take it very seriously. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think it will be like tonight at a time of war with regard to the usual difference between the aisles, across the aisles whereby the Republicans, being in—having the presidency now will probably rig up a couple times where they will jump up and give a kind of a “Look at us” kind of standup applause when there‘s something about cutting taxes or whatever, and the Democrats have to sit there and sort of steam.  Do you think there‘s going to be some of that showbiz tonight, even in time of war? 

DODD:  I heard something that may happen.  I don‘t know if it‘s true or not.  But I‘m the last guy to find this out.  I‘m told this State of the Union speech is a lot shorter than most of them.  And if that is, let me applaud the president for that to begin with.  Whatever criticisms I have, if he makes this a shorter State of the Union Speech, he‘s probably going to keep people watching it longer, cut down on that jumping up and down that goes on too often, and maybe we‘ll pay some attention.

MATTHEWS:  Forty minutes I‘m told in my ear right now.  Is that about the right time for you?  It‘s about the length of a college class up at Providence College. 

DODD:  I‘ll tell you, that was—that‘s just about right.  SO my advice is to keep it briefer.  I think you do better when you keep it briefer.  Don‘t try to lay out everything in excruciating detail.  Lay out your broad plan.  What are the big issues that you want to bring up. 

I understand he‘s going to bring up healthcare and energy... 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s talk about healthcare. 

DODD:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  It seems to me Ted Kennedy, your friend for years, dominated that issue.  Then Hillary took hold of it and it didn‘t quite work out because people like Bill Kristol basically ambushed her and destroyed any chance of anybody agreeing on anything.  Is there a possibility, given the fact that Mitt Romney has tried something in Massachusetts, that Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying something in California, that the two parties can finally find a way to give healthcare to the working people who work hard but don‘t get healthcare?

DODD:  Well, I hope so.  And I would hope the president tonight would talk about what he wants to do, give a framework.  It doesn‘t sound like he was heading quite the right direction with talking about whether it‘s going to raise costs.  It may even increase the numbers of uninsured. 

But put that aside for a second.  If he reaches out to Charlie Rangel in the House, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, to Ted Kennedy, to Max Baucus and others on the Republican side and says, “Listen, come on down here tomorrow or the day after.  Here‘s what I‘d like to do.  But I want to hear what you want to do.”  Get some real cooperation out of the leaders, then I think there‘s a chance here. 

My hope would be he try it.  And if he did, I think he would get a lot of cooperation, if he would really listen to the other side. 

MATTHEWS:  How about energy?  It seems to me the Democrats don‘t want to go to the Arctic Circle, they don‘t want to go up to the Arctic Refuge.  They don‘t want to go offshore of any state they happen to live in.  They don‘t want to rely on Middle East oil, who does?  Where‘s the gas—where‘s the fossil fuel going to come from over the next 20 years or so before we get to something else?  I‘m talking about the near range future, not way down where we‘re in wind power and propellers on our head, but now.  What are we going to do now to get gas?  You guys don‘t seem to want to drill anywhere. 

DODD:  No, no, no.  Well, listen for a sec.  There‘s a guy named Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana.  He makes a tremendous case.  We‘ve 400 years‘ supply of coal in the United States.  Liquification of coal, which there are some environmental issues, are a lot less hazardous and dangerous than fossil fuels and petroleum that we burn at outrageous levels.  There—if you just used that, you could save two million barrels a day, conservation gets you million, and you get an additional million out of using the solar, wind... 

MATTHEWS:  How much a gallon is liquefied coal? 

DODD:  It‘s a lot less than this and it‘s a lot less dangerous to be depending upon than the Straits of Hormuz 34 miles where your economic security has to pass every day in a line of tankers. 

So it‘s domestic supplies.  It makes you more secure.  And I‘m told it can be a lot less expensive.  Also your biofuels, your ethanol issues.  There‘s a lot of opportunity for us to be domestically independent. 

MATTHEWS:  Last question: do you believe in global warming? 

DODD:  Yes, of course I do.  Why are we even debating that anymore?

MATTHEWS:  Does the president believe in global warming? 

DODD:  I hope so because we consume about 25 percent of the fossil fuels.  He‘s going to call tonight, I‘m told, for higher fuel efficiency standards out of Detroit.  That‘s long overdue.  My hope is they can really do something about that.

MATTHEWS:  Are you happy to have John Dingell speak for you on that issue? 

DODD:  I agree with John on an awful lot of things.  I understand a constituent interest here.  But the automobile industry has made a great mistake in my view in not pursuing fuel efficiency standards.  They are losing market share as it is right now.  They ought to get on that program. 

MATTHEWS:  Great.  Thank you very much. 

Senator Chris Dodd, candidate for president, Democrat from Connecticut. 

Up next, did the White House sacrifice Scooter Libby to protect Karl Rove? We will have the latest from Libby‘s trial with HARDBALL David Shuster.

By the way, that is the claim made in court.  I have no idea what is going on there.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome to HARDBALL. 

While President Bush gets ready for the State of the Union tonight at 9:00 Eastern, the trial of Vice President Cheney‘s former chief of staff—and, by the way, his former chief of staff was also an assistant to the president—has begun. 

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us now from the courthouse. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, David—Chris, the—the testimony that came out today at the very end was simply the beginning of the prosecution effort to show that Scooter Libby learned about the Wilsons from government officials, not from reporters.

And, so, the first witness was an undersecretary of state, who said that he told Scooter Libby early on. 

But, Chris, the headline out of today—there are two of them—first of all, that Vice President Cheney, according to prosecutors, they are—they‘re saying the evidence is going to show that Vice President Cheney was much more intimately involved in the actions that eventually led to this entire effort other than had previously been known, and, secondly, that Scooter Libby‘s team is blaming Karl Rove, suggesting that this was all an effort by the White House to protect Rove, to essentially throw Scooter Libby under the bus, make him the sacrificial lamb, in order to protect Rove. 

First of all, Vice President Cheney, we learned today, according to prosecutors—they said the evidence will show that Vice President Cheney was the first person to tell Scooter Libby that Valerie Wilson, the wife of critic Joe Wilson, that she was undercover at the CIA.

Then, prosecutor said, the evidence will show that Vice President Cheney actually wrote out a script for Scooter Libby, telling him what he should say to a reporter in a conversation that followed, where the reporter took it as confirmation that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA.

Then, there was testimony, prosecutors suggested, the evidence will show that Vice President Cheney actually wrote out another script, a set of talking points for Scott McClellan.  You will recall, Chris, that, when this all broke, and there was the whole uproar, Scott McClellan came out and said, Karl Rove had nothing to do with this. 

Well, Vice President Cheney was involved in trying to help Scooter Libby to try to convince Scott McClellan that McClellan should say the same thing about Scooter Libby to essentially clear Scooter Libby publicly, even though we now know that—that Scott McClellan was wrong at the time. 

Now, as far as this whole issue, Chris, about Karl Rove, again, the defense had several statements where they said, in fact, unlike Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby was not out pushing stories about Valerie Wilson.  The idea is that the defense is try—is going to try to draw a distinction.  They are trying to argue that Scooter Libby was merely trying to pass around information about Joe Wilson and protect his boss, the vice president, whereas, Karl Rove, according to the defense, was going farther, and was actually—was actually telling stories about Valerie Wilson. 

So, this idea of trying to turn the defense by aiming at Karl Rove is intriguing.  And, then, of course, Chris, just the news today that the vice president was much more actively involved, that was pretty big.  And it gets to the idea of motive—again, prosecutors alleging that Scooter Libby lied to the grand jury, lied to the FBI because he was trying to block the investigation. 

Well, why would he want to try to block the investigation?  Prosecutors are suggesting it was because he was embarrassed at the level of the involvement of the vice president and himself.  Politically, that would be a problem.  And, so, according to prosecutors, Scooter Libby obstructed the case, lied to investigators, in order to thwart the overall look at the CIA leak—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how was the vice president—when he was grilled by the prosecutor, how was he able to avoid the kinds of questions and answers that might have been perjurious?  I mean, why—if he were asked the same kinds of questions—for example, you pointed out a moment ago that, in the testimony today, it was alleged by the prosecutor that the vice president had a role in ordering Scooter what to put out to the press.  Fine, if that‘s the case. 

But, if that was the case, why wasn‘t the prosecutor effective in grilling the vice president, when he had him on the—he had him under oath, and ask—why didn‘t he ask him the same question:  Did you ever tell Scooter Libby to put this story out to the press? 

Why didn‘t that happen? 

SHUSTER:  Well—well, first of all, we don‘t know, because the vice president‘s grand jury testimony has not been released.  Secondly, Chris—and this is where Fitzgerald gets a lot of criticism, because he did not put the vice president under oath.  It wasn‘t the same sort of sworn depositions...

MATTHEWS:  I see.

SHUSTER:  ... that others were faced—to go to. 

One of the ideas is that the vice president provided information to prosecutors, and said:  Yes, I talked about this, but this wasn‘t my top priority, and I don‘t remember details of conversations. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

SHUSTER:  In order for prosecutors to cross the bridge and find out whether the vice president really doesn‘t have such a good memory about this, they would need the other person who was involved in this conversation, Scooter Libby. 

But Scooter Libby, of course, his memory was not about the vice president.  His memory was, he learned this from reporters.  And that‘s why the prosecutors cannot even get to the point of asking those really tough questions about the vice president, because they don‘t have the other witness who was in the room, who can provide them with that leap—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  When—when the prosecutor brought this case—last question—Fitzgerald was very strong in saying, someone threw sand in the eyes of the referee, or the umpire at a baseball game, he being the umpire. 

Is he talking about the vice president threw the sand or Scooter Libby, his chief of staff, threw the sand? 

SHUSTER:  He is suggesting that it was Scooter Libby who threw the sand, that prosecutors were unable to get an accurate look at the actions of the vice president, at the actions of others in the White House, because Scooter Libby derailed the investigation by saying:  Oh, I heard about this from reporters.  I didn‘t hear about this from the vice president. 

The prosecutor, Chris, at one point said, just before Scooter Libby gave his first interview to the FBI, where he blamed all of this on reporters, the prosecutor said that Scooter Libby wiped out some information about Vice President Cheney. 

He wasn‘t suggesting wiping out, as far as destroying evidence.  He was saying that Scooter Libby erased the vice president and the vice president‘s involvement from Scooter Libby‘s memory.  Therefore, Scooter Libby would not have to volunteer to investigators:  Oh, by the way, the vice president gave me these directions.  The vice president gave me the script in talking to reporters.  The vice president was the one who first told me about the Wilsons. 

MATTHEWS:  So, it doesn‘t sound like the vice president is coming in as a character witness.  It sounds like he is coming in almost as an unindicted co-conspirator here. 

SHUSTER:  I think that‘s right. 

And, Chris, the one thing that we‘re looking for now, there is every indication—and prosecutors have told the prospective jurors—they are going to be very tough on the cross-examination of Vice President Cheney. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  And I think you can expect it—you can—you can expect it to be very tough, Chris, if the vice president gets in and says:  You know, I had other things on my mind.  I don‘t really remember. 

MATTHEWS:  Boy, this is getting hot.

Thank you very much, David Shuster, from the courthouse. 

We‘re right now joined by CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen—we have got to find out what your strategies are these days—and “Newsweek” and NBC‘s Jonathan Alter.

First, John—John Harwood.             

This story, two things happened today I found political.  Let‘s get off the—the news.  You don‘t know what‘s going on in the trial exactly.  I‘m not a legal scholar here. 

Two points.  The same day that McCain attacks the vice president for giving the president a witch‘s brew of advice on the war in Iraq, you have got Scooter Libby‘s attorney blaming Karl Rove.  We thought these two guys were both trying to beat the judge.  Now one is going at the other.  Is the Republican Party coming apart here? 

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s coming apart, but it‘s in deep trouble. 

This president is very low.  The White House has got a problem.  John McCain is looking at 2008, when he is believed to be the front-runner in this race.  And, all of a sudden, he has got around his neck this Iraq troop surge, which is so unpopular. 

And, in the Libby trial, interesting strategy by Libby‘s lawyers—

Libby isn‘t all that well known himself, but Karl Rove is the chief boogeyman for liberals and Democrats in Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HARWOOD:  And to try to misdirect and say, “It wasn‘t really me; they were protecting him,” it‘s a novel strategy. 

I still think Scooter Libby‘s biggest problem is, he has got a direct contradiction with Tim Russert.  And I wouldn‘t want to be...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HARWOOD:  ... on the other side of a credibility contest with Tim Russert. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s so interesting.  Well, that‘s—I agree with that. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Tim has got the record here.

But let me ask you this, Hilary Rosen, being a strategist.  It seems to me what‘s driving the Republican strategy right now is that Scooter Libby is looking at the big house and John McCain is looking at the White House. 

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, and, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Those—those are driving forces here, it seems.

ROSEN:  It‘s hard to feel sympathy for John McCain, because, for months, he has been saying:  I know better than anybody, I know better than anybody.  And this is what we need in this war. 

Now that this is—and we need more troops.  We need more troops. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSEN:  Now that the president is actually moving more troops in there, John McCain is seeing how unpopular this is.  He is starting to feel it directly.  And he‘s doing everything he can to deflect the blame. 

MATTHEWS:  Ah, so he‘s post-positioning himself a la Hillary as a change agent. 

ROSEN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s not going to say:  I‘m shadow-dancing with the president.  I‘m continuing the Bush strategy, the Bush doctrine.  I‘m going to offer something totally new, because I‘m out there blasting the vice president. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... finish the point.

ROSEN:  No, no.  Hillary, of course, never changed her mind on—on troop surges.  She simply said, we a strategy—an exit strategy here. 

John McCain actually went in and offered...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  She was for the war.  Now she is a war critic.  What do you mean she hasn‘t changed her position?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  She was a major war supporter. 

ROSEN:  No, no, no.  Yes, but...

MATTHEWS:  She was saluting when we went to war.

ROSEN:  But as long—as long as a year ago...

MATTHEWS:  Now she‘s attacking.

OK.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  ... Hillary Clinton was saying we needed to move out. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You got me.

ROSEN:  So, we were...

MATTHEWS:  Hah!

ROSEN:  We...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is that your best defense? 

ROSEN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  She hasn‘t changed quicker than a year?

ROSEN:  No.

From—from day one, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were saying: 

You have the authority.  You have prosecuted it badly. 

John McCain has not said that.  John McCain has said:  You have had the authority.  All we need to prosecute it better is keep getting deeper in. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hilary, strategist, your strategy is the same as John McCain, even though you may not be rooting for John McCain, because you‘re now calling it the McCain doctrine. 

Whenever you don‘t like something, Bush is doing it, you call it the McCain doctrine. 

ROSEN:  No.  McCain is going to hang with this.  I don‘t think Hillary Clinton will. 

HARWOOD:  Unfortunately, McCain‘s change—if he proposes a change from the president‘s policy, he would say, not 21,500 troops, but 35,000 troops.  That‘s not going to go over too well...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  It‘s not going to go over too well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Jon Alter.

Jon, you‘re around here somewhere.  I‘m not sure where you are physically, but you‘re not in this room.

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  Yes, I‘m here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Put together these two interesting things.

ALTER:  I just talked to John McCain 15 minutes ago. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, what did he say? 

ALTER:  I‘m saying, I just talked to John McCain 15 minutes ago.

MATTHEWS:  What did he say?

ALTER:  I mean, he says that, from the moment that Rumsfeld first talked to him, when he came back in Iraq in the first year of the war, he said to him, we need more troops, and that they were at loggerheads on this from the start. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ALTER:  And it‘s true that this is not the first time he has criticized Don Rumsfeld.  Maybe the—the terms were a little stronger in this interview with Roger Simon, but it‘s—it‘s really not a new position. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s a hell of a story Roger Simon scored.

ALTER:  Yes.  Yes, it was.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a hell of a story he scored.

And I want to ask you this.  Why is McCain attacking Cheney? 

ALTER:  Well, because—because McCain believes that the prosecution of the war has been dumb.  That‘s where Hilary and I disagree. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but you can say that in a phone call.  You don‘t have to do it in an interview with Roger Simon.  He is going the record, permanent record...

ALTER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  ... of saying:  I, the candidate, the leading Republican candidate—in fact, the leading candidate for president—don‘t believe the vice president is any good.  He has given lousy advice to the president on the war, the number-one issue in the country that everybody is going to be running on.

ALTER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And he‘s separating himself with an axe from the vice president.  I think it‘s amazing. 

ALTER:  Well, I think—I think he went a little overboard, because he was a little...

HARWOOD:  Have you seen Dick Cheney‘s numbers lately? 

MATTHEWS:  Hah!

(LAUGHTER)

ALTER:  He was a little regretful of the interview when I—when I spoke to him, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, well.

(CROSSTALK)

ALTER:  He didn‘t quite say that Roger sandbagged him, but he did indicate that there wasn‘t, you know, an intention there to create this huge story today. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh.

(CROSSTALK)

ALTER:  So, you know, he sometimes gets ahead of himself a little bit. 

And we know that, sometimes, his candor can get the better of him.  I don‘t think he wanted to squeeze out the president‘s State of the Union address with a big spat with...

MATTHEWS:  Well...

ALTER:  ... Dick Cheney, although Cheney has got a lot bigger problems than that today, Chris.  

I mean, this was a really bad day for Cheney.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s come back and talk about a bad day for Cheney.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have got to come back...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... because that‘s the other intramural fight that‘s going on, with them saying that Karl Rove was making Scooter Libby fair game. 

Anyway, John Harwood, Hilary Rosen, and Jonathan Alter are staying with us. 

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up:  Senator Webb gives the Democrats‘ response tonight, but what will Hillary say?

When HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with John Harwood, Hilary Rosen, and Jonathan Alter. 

Let‘s start with Jonathan this time.

Jon, it seems the president has got a big challenge tonight:  Change the subject.  He doesn‘t want an Iraq headline.  What headline does he want in tomorrow‘s papers? 

ALTER:  I think he wants a domestic agenda headline, that, on immigration, health care, the environment, and energy, that he offered some proposals that are at least grounds for opening a conversation with the Democrats moving forward, signing some legislation. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he‘s just like Hillary Clinton.  He wants a conversation, right? 

(LAUGHTER)

HARWOOD:  A chat. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We all want—we all want a conversation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t we getting softhearted? 

ALTER:  I think he wants to get past this. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I agree with you completely.

ALTER:  I mean, the really strange thing is that...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ALTER:  The strange thing about this is, usually, presidents use foreign policy to unite the country, find common ground...

(CROSSTALK)

ALTER:  ... with the Congress, and they use domestic policy to score points, you know, drive their—their base. 

And, this time, he‘s doing the reverse.  He‘s going to try to sort of get through this rough patch with domestic policy.  I don‘t think he wants to make any headlines on Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why you‘re a great columnist, Jon, because it‘s those kinds of distillations and ironies...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... that make a great columnist. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s right. 

No, really.  Usually, you say—they always say they bite into the rich melon of foreign policy...

ROSEN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... because you can always win on foreign policy. 

But now you can‘t. 

HARWOOD:  But how—when have we had a war...

(CROSSTALK)

HARWOOD:  .... so polarizing and divisive as this one? 

(CROSSTALK)

HARWOOD:  I don‘t know.  Polarizing in a partisan sense? 

ROSEN:  No.

HARWOOD:  I mean, it was unpopular in the country.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HARWOOD:  Vietnam was unpopular in the country.  But this is one that‘s straight down party lines. 

You look at our “Journal/NBC poll, overwhelming Democratic opposition, independent opposition. 

(CROSSTALK)

HARWOOD:  You still have a majority of Republicans who are supporting it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, I need to know this.  Who are those 20-some percent who agree with the president on the war?  Who are those people that have stuck with him?  Their guns are out.  They‘re still defending his position.  Who are they?

HARWOOD:  Strong conservative Republicans. 

ROSEN:  Strong conservatives.

MATTHEWS:  Just party people or hard-line foreign policy people?  What are they? 

(CROSSTALK)

ALTER:  Military families. 

MATTHEWS:  Military families.

HARWOOD:  We don‘t slice them—we don‘t slice them that finely.  So, we—we don‘t know a whole lot more, behind some rough categories, Republicans and conservatives. 

But, of course, in our politics today, Republicans and conservatives are a heavy overlap. 

MATTHEWS:  Would people be for this war if this president weren‘t behind it?  Is it a loyalty to the man or to the cause?  What do they believe in?  In other words, if Bill Clinton tried to sell this same exact war policy, would it sell with those conservatives and Republicans? 

ROSEN:  No, there is 20 percent of the country that is always going to just support America in any conflict overseas. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What does that mean? 

ROSEN:  That—that there‘s—that there—it‘s what Jonathan said, that they just feel like patriots.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t think it‘s the same 20, though.  I don‘t think these are the 20...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  My argument would be that this crowd is partisan.  They would not support this—this war if it...

(CROSSTALK)

HARWOOD:  It‘s because the leader of the Republican Party started this war. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you accept that, Jon, that this is a Republican war, basically; they support their leader; but, if it was Bill Clinton in the same disastrous situation, unpopular situation, I should say, they wouldn‘t be with him?

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  No, it‘s not the same 20 percent.

ALTER:  Remember the war in Serbia. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ALTER:  You remember the bombing of Serbia?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ALTER:  And Sean Hannity is—while the planes are in the air, he is trashing the Clinton policy. 

Then, when...

ROSEN:  That‘s right. 

ALTER:  ... you know, Tom Daschle tried to criticize Iraq a few years later...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ALTER:  ... suddenly, he was being a traitor. 

But, when the shoe was on the other foot, there were conservative Republicans who were against Clinton‘s war policy in Bosnia. 

MATTHEWS:  As much as I want to go for the bait and defend FOX, I refuse to take that bait. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know you are offering me an opportunity...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... to defend my friend Sean.  I ain‘t going to do it. 

Anyway, thank you, Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist, Jonathan Alter, “Newsweek,” John Harwood, “Wall Street Journal” and CNBC.

Coming up:  What kind of reception will the Democrats and Republicans give the president tonight?  Will it be one of those up—one aisle goes up, the other side doesn‘t? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The president‘s State of the Union just about two hours away right now.  We‘re going to go to our Web site—go to our Web—three hours away—Hardblogger.  Go to Hardblogger.MSNBC.com for blogging on the State of the Union.  We will be blogging all night.  All the people here will be doing it, except I‘m going to be on the air, hopefully.  So, check us out.

We‘re joined now by the chairwoman—or chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Democratic Congressman Ellen Tauscher.

I first have to ask you about—we are going to Vegas.  I am going to be judging the Miss America contest this week, which has nothing to do with anything serious, except I‘m glad to be doing it.  And the betting odds out of Vegas right now are fascinating.  The national betting odds say that Hillary Clinton is now a flip of the coin, 50/50, to win the Democratic nomination.  She is that in good of shape.

Do you—do you believe that...

REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER (D), CALIFORNIA:  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  ... that she can—she‘s against the field.  Everybody else together has about the same chance as she does? 

TAUSCHER:  Yes.  No, I‘m not surprised.

She‘s formidable in so many different ways, not only on the policy.  But she has obviously this big juggernaut machine.  Plus, she is, I think, when people get to know her, just a really fabulous person, a great mom, a great friend, a great legislator.  And I think she has done a great job in New York, especially upstate, where they felt bereft and really not paid attention to for a long time.  And she really has done a great job.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think she can continue to modulate her personality as effectively as she did when she did the opening on—on the Web site Friday—Saturday?  She was very good this Saturday.

TAUSCHER:  You know, I don‘t think it‘s modulate her personality. 

It‘s just that, like a lot of people in public life, she has got a persona that is serious and sober.  And—but, once you get to know her—

I mean, I have laughed probably pretty hard at her jokes.  She‘s really funny.  She‘s warm.

MATTHEWS:  I like her when I‘m with her.  I like her.

TAUSCHER:  She‘s...

MATTHEWS:  But when—sometimes, I see her on television, and I—I know why people don‘t. 

TAUSCHER:  Well, you know, yes, but, you know, that‘s maybe about girls being in power, too. 

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re right.

Let me ask you about tonight, because this is a big night.  We haven‘t talked about this yet.  And I am enough of a feminist to enjoy this. 

TAUSCHER:  Yes, you are.

MATTHEWS:  For the first time in history, when you look behind the president tonight, you will see a woman. 

TAUSCHER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, he might have—I don‘t think the vice president had a particularly good day today.  And he has been attacked from both McCain‘s side and from the Scooter Libby—well, not the Scooter Libby.  He has had a tough time defending his old guy.

But he is going to be sitting there in that snarl, probably.  And she is going to be looking like a million bucks, probably delighted that she‘s got all these bills passed.  She got six for six.

TAUSCHER:  Mm-hmm. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about it, historic moment.

TAUSCHER:  It‘s awesome.

And, you know, we have had such a great two, two-and-a-half weeks.  We did pass six great bills.  We have great unity in the Democratic Party.  You know, I lead the 63 moderates in the New Dems.  We are solidly behind, shoulder to shoulder with, our—our speaker and leader.  And I think...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it say to young girls who are watching tonight, the 15-year-old girl watching tonight...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... and she sees a woman sitting up there?  What does she -

what does the mom say to the girl?

(CROSSTALK)

TAUSCHER:  Well, my 15-year-old daughter is—well, she has known Nancy for a very long time.  And she now calls her Madam Speaker. 

But, you know, I think it just says that hope and optimism that the American people have when they try to watch the State of the Union will be sitting right in front of us.  It‘s no more imagination.  We are going to look at America tonight, when you sit there and you see a vice president, male, and a speaker of the House, a woman, in front of the president of the United States...

(CROSSTALK)

TAUSCHER:  And you‘re going to see a bunch of women in the House and the Senate.  You‘re going to see...

MATTHEWS:  They will see you.

TAUSCHER:  Well, they will see me, perhaps.  I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Where are you going to sit, in the middle?

TAUSCHER:  No.  I—I sit in the middle, but I—I sit toward the back.  I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we will look for you tonight. 

TAUSCHER:  Well, thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California.

Play HARDBALL with us again one—in one hour.  We are going to have a live show.  And our guests will include Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

And, at 9:00 Eastern, Keith Olbermann and I will have live coverage of the State of the Union, followed by reaction from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And, tomorrow, on “The Today Show,” an NBC exclusive...

(COUGHING)

MATTHEWS:  These are too long—with Rudy Giuliani.

Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.”

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

END   

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