updated 5/2/2007 12:01:50 PM ET 2007-05-02T16:01:50

Guests: Rep. Tom Tancredo, Rep. John Murtha, Bill Maher, Steve McMahon, Ken Blackwell, Paul Rieckhoff, Roger Simon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  President Bush vetoes the anti-Iraq war bill, but can he veto the opposition?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Well, in just two days, the 10 Republican candidates for president, the active candidates, are going to meet out here in California, not far from where I‘m at in Los Angeles, at the Reagan Library, the Reagan Presidential Library.  You‘re looking at those candidates right now.  They‘re going to be debating for an hour-and-a-half on Thursday night.  In a couple of minutes, we‘re going to have one of those candidate join us.

Also tonight, President Bush is making good on his long-standing threat to veto the Democrats‘ war funding bill, which sets a timeline to start bringing home the troops.  The veto, only the second of his presidency, it comes on the fourth anniversary of the president‘s “Mission Accomplished” speech, when he declared on board an aircraft carrier that America had prevailed in Iraq.  We‘ll talk to one of the staunchest critics of the war right now, U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.  Plus, Bill Maher‘s also going to be joining us tonight.

But we began with the Reagan Presidential Library debate just two days away right now.  MSNBC‘s Mike Barnicle has some background on this beautiful library overlooking the Pacific.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over):  Surrounded by majestic mountains, with a view of the Pacific, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is perched on a 100-acre site halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California.  For the president who wanted America to be a “shining city on a hill, it‘s a hilltop monument of living history that he helped design.

DUKE BLACKWOOD, REAGAN LIBRARY EXECUTIVE DIR.:  He was involved from the very beginning, starting with the Santa Barbara mission-style architecture.  He didn‘t want a monolith.  He didn‘t want this—you know, this Washingtonian feeling.

BARNICLE (on camera):  Ronald Reagan certainly understood the importance of visual cues, both in the movies and in politics, and he played an important role in designing his library on the hill and the role that this library plays in presenting his legacy to future generations.

(voice-over):  Here in the museum, a popular area is Ronald and Nancy Reagan‘s early years together.

BLACKWOOD:  It‘s fascinating.  This is the booth from Chassen‘s (ph) restaurant.  Ronald Reagan proposes to starlet Nancy Davis.  So when Chassen‘s closed, they gave us the booth.

BARNICLE:  Duke Blackwood is the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

BLACKWOOD:  You come here, this is the actual wedding outfit that Mrs.

Reagan wore at the wedding at the little brown church in Studio City.

BARNICLE:  These museum pieces are just one small portion of what visitors from around the world come to see.

BLACKWOOD:  Ever since the president passed away almost three years ago, one of the most important sites is the gravesite.  People come and pay their respects.  There‘s tears shed.  There‘s American flags.  It‘s an emotional experience.

The second is the Oval Office.  We have an exact replica of the Oval Office as it was when President Reagan -- 99 percent of the visitors come here.  Never will get a chance to go in, much less to see the Oval Office, so when they come here, there‘s a sense of awe about it.

But the most dramatic is what you see over my shoulder, and that‘s SAM-27,000 (ph), Air Force One 707 that flew seven residents around the world.  Again, as you look at it, it sits up here.  You‘ve got this magnificent glass window, a third of an acre of glass.  And she‘s just at about a 2 percent tilt, so it looks like she‘s taking off, she‘s going on one last mission of freedom and democracy.

BARNICLE:  The library is also the repository of Reagan‘s eight years of presidential papers, photos and video.   Here the National Archives controls some 55 million of documents, much of which the public will never see.

BLACKWOOD:  There‘s a process through the National Archives that we must go through, and that is they‘ve got to be reviewed before they can be released.  So we‘ve only got about 10 percent of our holdings, so there‘s some 40 million documents downstairs, 45 million documents downstairs that still haven‘t—the public is not allowed to see.

BARNICLE:  One popular document many visitors request to see is the president‘s emotional letter revealing to the world that he has Alzheimer‘s disease.  Only a copy is on display.  The original rarely sees the light of day.

(on camera): How do you preserve a letter like this?

MIKE DUGGAN, REAGAN LIBRARY ARCHIVIST:  Well, first of all, we have it in this mylar sleeve, so that, you know, it doesn‘t get any fingerprints or anything on it.  And then we preserve it in—all of our storage areas are temperature and humidity-controlled.  It‘s kept in an area that‘s dark.  It‘s kept in an acid-free folder, an acid-free box.  And all those together will help to preserve this, hopefully, for at least a couple of hundred years.

BLACKWOOD (voice-over):  And then there are the presidential gifts.

BLACKWOOD:  Everybody wants to give you something, OK?  And there‘s some 100,000 pieces downstairs that come from the White House gift unit, so those the general public doesn‘t get to see, but we try and rotate that stuff up.

BARNICLE:  Whether studying important presidential papers or viewing personal artifacts, presidential libraries connect both scholars and tourists alike through the lives of our nation‘s leaders.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  That‘s what libraries can do.  They really can bring these past leaders back to life in a way that the written word alone cannot, through the combination of pictures, sound, music, and the whole ambiance of the place.

BARNICLE:  I‘m Mike Barnicle reporting for HARDBALL at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s where all the Republican candidates, all 10 of them right now, the active candidates, are going to be Thursday night, when we have that big Republican debate, the first one of the campaign, out at the Reagan library.  Right—by the way, we‘re going to have it right next to Air Force One right there.  It‘s going to be like having a debate at the Smithsonian Institute.  Of course, anybody who‘s ever been on Air Force One knows it‘s an exciting place just to be near again.

Let me bring in now one of the candidates who‘s going to be debating on Thursday night, Tom Tancredo of Colorado.  Congressman, thank you for joining us.  You know, looking at the new NBC poll, and it looks to me like is winning your argument for you, here‘s the question NBC and “The Wall Street Journal” put to the American people in a brand-new poll.  “As you may know, President Bush has proposed to allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States to apply for legal temporary worker status.  Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose?”  Fifty-one percent opposed.

Does that surprise you?

REP. TOM TANCREDO ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No, it doesn‘t.  And if it were worded even a little more correctly, it would be—the numbers would go sky high.  If it said, The president of the United States, along with, of course, Ted Kennedy, are proposing an amnesty for the people who are living here illegally, you‘d see what happened to the numbers because that‘s what‘s really happening.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that mean?  Give us the definition of the word amnesty.  How‘s that different than letting them stay here as temporary workers?

TANCREDO:  Very simple.  If you‘re in this country illegally, and if we tell you you can stay, even though the law says you can‘t, that‘s amnesty.  Pretty simple.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the fact that people who were supportive of this program, like McCain, who‘s going to be one of your debaters Thursday night—they say that it makes the people learn English.  It makes them pay a fine.  It makes them go through some of these obstacles.  And it makes them get in line behind people who are waiting in line, say, from Europe to get here.

TANCREDO:  Hello?  Everybody has to get in line.  If you want to come here into this country and you want to come legally, you go to the back of the line.  That is not a penalty.  If you want to become a citizen, you‘re supposed to learn English.  That is not a penalty.  Nothing—I mean, frankly, we know, everybody knows that what they‘re trying desperately to do is to figure out a way to say, You can stay here, but they don‘t want to use the word amnesty.  It‘s getting harder and harder for them, Chris, because they‘re trying their best to finesse this and wordsmith it.  But you know what it comes down to?  Amnesty.  And they‘re going to have to address it, at least, if I have anything to do with it.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the future, tomorrow night, when they put NBC cameras or someone else‘s cameras on the southern border, the Mexican border, and you see people racing through those fields, those field with the bush and everything, and they catch them in the dark, and they‘re racing to get away from whoever—is there any way to stop that?

TANCREDO:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  How do you stop that, tomorrow night‘s illegal immigration, not the last 20 years but tomorrow night?  How do you stop that?

TANCREDO:  Here‘s what you do.  Of course, you first build a barrier on that border to make—that makes it more difficult to cross.  Then and simultaneously, really, not then meaning the next thing you do, but simultaneously, you have to go after employers.  You have to break the magnet.  Employers...

MATTHEWS:  But Republicans don‘t like to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Democrats look out for ethnic groups, Republicans look out for businessmen...

TANCREDO:  Democrats look out for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And you have an interesting combination there, that nothing gets done, right?

TANCREDO:  Democrats look out for votes.  Ethnic groups?  Don‘t give me that!  Democrats are looking for votes!

MATTHEWS:  OK.  All right.

TANCREDO:  They want the votes...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s your way of putting it.  Let me put it my way...

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO:  Am I being—in any way, am I being untruthful about saying that one of the reasons why Democrats want to keep those borders open is because they see the folks coming as potential voters for the Democratic Party?

MATTHEWS:  And the unions—and the unions see them as members probably.

TANCREDO:  That‘s exactly right.  And the Republicans see them as cheap laborers.  That‘s why we have not been able to do anything about this.  But Americans—Americans are getting sick and tired of it, and I‘m telling you, somebody‘s going to have to do something, and it‘s probably going to have to be the president of the United States because I don‘t know if this group up here has got the guts to actually address this forthrightly.

MATTHEWS:  I saw an ad in “The Washington Post” yesterday, I think it was, that had an African-American guy, a middle-aged guy, saying that illegal immigration hurts African-American opportunities to get jobs.  Is that—who‘s pushing that campaign?  And is that a true case?  Is that historically the case?

TANCREDO:  I don‘t know who‘s pushing it.  All I can tell you is it‘s absolutely accurate that African-Americans—I saw a great story in—I believe (INAUDIBLE) it was “The Wall Street Journal” a while back.  You may have seen it.  A chicken processing plant in Georgia is hiring all illegal aliens.  ICE comes in, raids the place.  About 90 percent of their employees are gone.  They‘re thinking, Oh, my goodness.  What am I going to do?  They figured they were going to be out of business.  But they weren‘t.  They went into the community next to the plant.  They went to the—and they—they—they were able to hire enough people to keep that plant open and going.  You know who they hired?

MATTHEWS:  Americans.

TANCREDO:  African-Americans, black Americans who had been unemployed for years.  Here‘s what they had to do, Chris.  They had to go from $7 to $9 an hour.  Oh, my gosh.  They had to actually provide transportation from the community to the—to the factory because a lot these folks didn‘t have cars.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You make a good case.  I‘ll be watching to see you make as good a case Thursday night...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There‘ll be people disagreeing with you, and I‘m letting you talk here...

TANCREDO:  No doubt.

MATTHEWS:  ... but you‘re going to have some fight on Thursday night, sir, and I look forward to seeing you at the Reagan library.

TANCREDO:  Sounds great, buddy.

MATTHEWS:  Tom Tancredo of Colorado, U.S. congressman.

We‘ll be right back with Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, who has some interesting thoughts about the future of George W. Bush.  Be right back with HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NE), MAJORITY LEADER:  We renew our call to President Bush.  There‘s still time to listen to the American people.  There‘s still time to sign this bill and change course in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Jack Murtha from Pennsylvania joins us right now.  He‘s been talking about what we should do, what the country should do, with George W. Bush.  Congressman Murtha, do you think impeachment is really one of the options that Congress is looking at?

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  No, Chris.  What I said was that‘s one of the options.  But the power of the purse is the option that‘s going to be the most significant this year.  What we‘re talking about is by the end of the year, we‘ll have the appropriations bill, the big bill.  Then we‘ll have the authorization bill, one right after the other.  By that time, we‘ll know what‘s going to happen in Iraq.

You know, they keep painting this rosy picture.  Things haven‘t changed a bit.  As a matter of fact, oil production is below pre-war level, electricity below pre-war level, incidents are up.  We lost more people in four months this year than we lost all the rest of the war, 50 percent more than we lost four months- the first four months of last year.

So you know, 40 percent unemployment, 50 percent inflation—I mean, they just go on and on with trying to spin this thing.  You got to quit spinning it.  We gave him $4 billion, Chris, more than he asked for in this bill.  We put everything you could possibly want in this bill.  We put the vehicles that resist IEDs.  We put the money for health care, everything he wanted.  He ought to sign the bill.

Now, I‘m recommending we go to two months.  I recommend that we do it every two months and fight it out with him.  But the big bills will be the answer...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he‘d sign a continuing—Congressman, would he sign a two-month continuing?  Would he say two months is OK?  Do you think he‘d actually sign that bill, or he would consider that hobbling him?

MURTHA:  Well, I am not sure.  He made up his mind so early, I‘m not sure he even read the bill.  I mean, this is the problem with this spinning that goes on.  They bring Petraeus back, purely a political move.  Petraeus comes back here, doesn‘t talk to any of us.  He only talks to the news media, and so forth, trying to sell this program.  Bush was 64 percent when his mission—mission possible, and today he‘s 34 percent, so he‘s just turned the opposite.  And this bill‘s not going to make any difference, just like what we say here makes little difference.  What‘s going to count is what happens on the ground. The Iraqis are going to have to decide it themselves.

MATTHEWS:  You know, when you read Petraeus statements to the press corps—and I know you said he didn‘t talk to Congress, but they put out this statement.  I read it in “The Weekly Standard” this week, which does have Petraeus‘s remarks in there.  He does say that we‘re fighting the central front against al Qaeda in Iraq.  Is that true?

MURTHA:  That‘s absolutely not true.  That‘s an exaggeration...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s Petraeus saying that.

MURTHA:  That‘s Petraeus saying it.  I just gave those comments to General Pace.  I said, General—just 5, 10 minutes ago I gave them to General Pace.  I said, General, these comments that General Petraeus made are absolutely inaccurate, according to the intelligence we have.  Now, that‘s the kind of stuff he‘s saying, and that‘s why I say it was purely political.

Now, when I say he didn‘t talk to Congress, he talked to a group of members.  He didn‘t talk to the committees that have jurisdiction over this legislation.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why wouldn‘t he tell the truth?  If his troops are over there getting killed—as you point out, we lost 100 guys this month, one of the worst months—worst month of the year—getting killed by Sunni insurgents and by militia people on the Shia side—why is he blaming it on al Qaeda?

MURTHA:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  The people who blew up the World Trade Center.  Why‘s he doing that?

MURTHA:  This whole—whole war, ever since it diverted the attention away from where al Qaeda started, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war in Afghanistan, where we should have stayed, ever since that time, they‘ve been trying to tie this into terrorism.  All of us know there‘s terrorism all over the world...

MATTHEWS:  But he‘s not—but Congressman, he‘s not a PR man.  He‘s not a flack for the White House.  He‘s a general in the field.  Why would he be...

MURTHA:  Hey, wait a minute.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying he‘s singing the song of the ideologues.

MURTHA:  I‘m saying—I‘m saying he came back here at the White House‘s request to purely make political statements.  That‘s what I‘m saying.  There‘s no question in my mind about it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about the problem of the politics.  It seems to me, if you look at the latest NBC poll, that Congress is winning.  People have—are more concerned that the president will keep the war going than they are about the Congress setting a deadline.  They‘re worried 2-to-1 more about the president.

But what happens when the president comes on television in a couple of months and says, Time‘s run out.  The uniforms won‘t be there.  The training won‘t be there.  The food won‘t be there.  The K-rations won‘t be there.  Our troops are going to be starving, without uniforms if you guys don‘t give them the money.  What happens when he says that?

MURTHA:  When a minute, Chris.  He‘s the one that vetoed the bill.  We passed the legislation.  We sent it to the president.  If that were to happen—now, you know, we‘re going to work something out.

But here‘s what worries me as much as anything.  These troops are burned out.  I went down to Fort Bragg, and they told me the children are not achieving as much in the school.  The children are more truant.  They‘re so worried about their parents.  They need counseling in the schools.  One of the soldiers told me, I hate to tell my kids I have to go back for the fourth time.  I mean, a very small proportion of people bearing the burden, and the families and—I‘m inspired by these troops.  These trips are dedicated.  They‘re going to do their duty.  But I‘m going to tell you something, Chris.  It is hard on them.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll be.  Jack, you‘re a soldier yourself.  Thank you, sir, for coming on tonight, Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.

MURTHA:  Good to be with you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with Bill Maher with a little lighter touch on the whole thing that‘s going on with the Republicans.  I want Bill Maher to give us a pre-game look at the Republican debate Thursday night.  Bill Maher coming on—real time for us is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, joining us right now is one of our favorite guests on

HARDBALL, Bill Maher of “Bill Maher”—actually, “Real Time With Bill

Maher” on HBO every Friday night at 11:00, who is going to be appearing at

The Joint at the Hard Rock in Vegas—that‘s Las Vegas—on May 4 and 5 -

that‘s this weekend—Friday and Saturday night, and then again in mid-June, the 15th and 16th.  That‘s at The Joint at the Hard Rock.  Make your reservations now. 

Bill Maher, thanks for joining us. 

I am out here in Los Angeles.  You are somewhere around here, aren‘t you? 

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”:  Yes, I am in Los Angeles. 

(CROSSTALK)

MAHER:  And you thought you had to...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER:  ... make sure people knew it was Las Vegas? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I always try to inform.

You know, we have got a Republican debate coming up on Thursday night. 

And I just wondered if you wanted to give...

MAHER:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... us a heads-up.

You know, we have got Rudy, Rudy Giuliani.  Everybody says he can‘t possibly win, because he is pro-choice and he‘s open to gay rights, generally, at least, and he is too liberal.  And, yet, every time people—and he put up Bernie Kerik for Homeland Security, and that turned out to be a bust, in more ways than one.

And these things keep going wrong.  He has been married three times.  And that‘s supposedly turns off Republicans.  And, yet, every time there is a poll, he goes up.  How do you explain it? 

MAHER:  It‘s early.  People have not really looked at him.

I don‘t think all that is what is going to sink him.  I mean, obviously, that is not going to help with the Republican primary voter.  But they haven‘t gotten at his record yet.  I mean, his big ace card is that he is the great terrorism fighter. 

He said last week, if you vote for a Democrat, you can expect another 9/11. 

This is amazing arrogance from someone who is a Republican; 9/11 happened in a Republican-led city with a Republican governor and a Republican president.  So, I guess his slogan is, fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, vote for Giuliani in 2008.  He put the terrorism...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHER:  What?

MATTHEWS:  Is he supposed to have anti-aircraft guns?  How‘s a mayor of New York stop the incoming airplanes that hit the World Trade Center? 

MAHER:  Well, he put the—the Trade Center was attacked in 1993.  All of the experts told him to move the command-and-control center out of the World Trade Center.  He put it in the World Trade Center. 

That is where his—the reason why he was on the streets that day...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MAHER:  ... is because his office was blown up, Chris.  He‘s not a terrorism fighter.  He has no credentials in this.  In fact, he failed at the one time he had an opportunity, just like Bush.

MATTHEWS:  So, why do people think he did serve well and perform well, as the leader of New York, during that crisis?  Why do people think that?

MAHER:  Well, he—he was a good rallier of what happened after the buildings fell down, yes.  I am not saying he is an incompetent.  But he made a terrible decision.  And, just like Bush, he ignored terrorism, when he should have been paying attention to it. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of his style as a New Yorker?  I mean, this is classic big-city style, maybe New York uniquely, when he told Yasser Arafat of the PLO he couldn‘t go to Lincoln Center one night?  He told that Saudi prince that he did not want his $10 million.

Is that ethnic politics?  Is that street-corner tough guy?  Or is that smart diplomacy?  What would you call it? 

MAHER:  I was a fan of both those moves.  So, you know, that is the kind of Rudy Giuliani stuff I like. 

He also busted up the mob pretty good before he got to be mayor, when he was the prosecutor.  So, he can be a good, tough guy in certain situations.  But, you know, he also is in a number of pictures wearing a dress.  I don‘t how that...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MAHER:  ... is going to play in the heartland. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it plays OK—it plays OK with you and me.  Why do you assume it won‘t play all right—it‘s a joke.  He was wearing a dress at one of these stupid, what do you call, gridiron-type events, where everybody does something stupid.

MAHER:  Well, wait a minute.  But, Chris, there is a number of pictures of him in a dress.  It is OK to dress up as a woman once for a charity event or something. 

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER:  When you do it—when you have as many pictures as we have, as I am sure your news organization has, of Rudy Giuliani in a dress, then, you have other issues...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER:  ... I think, that the voters are not aware of. 

MATTHEWS:  You think it‘s...

MAHER:  I mean, when you know your own bra size, why don‘t you just spring for the operation?

MATTHEWS:  I know.  You are—that—that is what makes you different, that little touch at the end, when you know your own bra size.

Do you really think that the opponents in the race are going to show 30-second bites of Rudy in the Bloomingdale‘s perfume department doing the -- doing the dress show? 

MAHER:  You have got to be kidding if you don‘t think they would use everything at their disposal. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

MAHER:  I‘m not sure the Democrats would, but I‘m...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER:  I‘m sure his Republican opponents would.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the—the fact that everybody wants the one that got away, as they said in the movie “Hud.”  Everybody wants the candidate who doesn‘t run.  The press always wanted Mario Cuomo to run.  He didn‘t.  They wanted—and maybe I did, too—want Colin Powell to run once.  They want—everybody wants Fred Thompson to run. 

Is it, the second he gets in the race, he gets jumped on?  What‘s the

what‘s the theater of this thing?

MAHER:  Well, that‘s part of it.  I mean, that‘s—amuses me so much that the Republicans now are talking about the great charisma of Fred Thompson.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER:  Basset hound-faced Fred Thompson is their great charismatic hope.

And I guess it‘s because, you know, the Republican Party has this campy fixation with all things Ronald Reagan.  I mean, it is almost gay, the way they love this man, and the way they can‘t stop talking about him and obsessing about him.  And they are always looking for the next Ronald Reagan.

Bush, they thought, might turn out to be that one.  But, of course, that did not go too well.  So, now they‘re looking for the next Ronald Reagan. 

But the problem for them is that Ronald Reagan ran, of course, always on optimism and hope.  And he was sunny and cheerful.  But the only thing the Republicans can run on now is the opposite, fear.  That is the only card they have in their deck.  It is a false card, but that is the only card they can play. 

They can‘t run on their record.  They can‘t run on people on—on them being fiscally responsible people.  They can‘t even really run...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MAHER:  ... on fighting terrorism, because the public doesn‘t think they are good at that now either. 

But they can run on the idea that there is a wolf at the door, and we‘re the only people who know how to kill it...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MAHER:  ... even though that is wrong and crazy.

MATTHEWS:  You know, the sad thing is, Bill—sad—you get a lot of truth to that, Bill, but the sad thing is, that is what Gore ran on against Bush, fear, fear of what he would do to the economy, fear of everything that would go wrong, the lockbox and all that.  And it didn‘t work, didn‘t sell, did it? 

MAHER:  Well, fear—fear of economy is one thing.  Fear of your life is...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MAHER:  ... a little something different. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Bill Maher, it‘s great to have on—good luck.  Your show is on—“Real Time” at HBO every Friday night at 11:00, “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

You have got these gigs coming up in Las Vegas, The Joint at the Hard Rock...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHER:  Come out and see me in Vegas, Chris.  We will do that town up. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I have been out there twice lately.

Anyway, May 4 and 5, and then June 15 and 16. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Get your tickets now for Bill Maher.

We are coming right back with more HARDBALL.  Coming back, we‘re going to talk about the debate that is coming up among the 10 Republicans, including the guys we just talked about, Rudy Giuliani and—well, maybe not Fred Thompson yet, but we will get him in there one of these days.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MIKE HUCKMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Mike Huckman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

And another record-breaker, the Dow Jones industrial average closing at another new high of 13136, after gaining 73 points.  The S&P 500 was up almost four points.  And the Nasdaq gained almost 6.5 points.

A blockbuster takeover bid today first reported by CNBC‘s David Faber:

Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp. making an unsolicited offer to buy Dow Jones Incorporated, the publisher of “The Wall Street Journal,” for $5 billion, or $60 a share.  But the family that controls Dow Jones says it will oppose the deal.  News of the offer, though, sent Dow Jones shares surging more than 50 percent today. 

Meantime, auto sales tumbled in April.  General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Honda all reported drops in sales.  However, Chrysler reported a gain.

And oil fell $1.31 in New York today, closing at $64.40 a barrel.

That is it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t know about you, but I am looking forward to Thursday night.  It‘s a great opportunity for me, just as an American, to play such a big role in what is going to be part of the selection of our president next time.

The Republican candidates, all 10 of them, are going to be coming out here to California and to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a beautiful spot, as Mike Barnicle showed us early in the program, for them to have their first big debate.  They are going to have it right up against the—the Air Force One that Ronald Reagan flew as president.  It‘s going to be quite a scenic spot, evocative as hell, about the American presidency.

And two people to talk about it right now are Steve McMahon, a Democratic consultant, and Ken Blackwell, who was secretary of state of Ohio for a long time.  He‘s now with the Family Research Council.

Ken, you are the big Republican of the two of you guys.  Steve is a Democrat.  So, let‘s let you start here.

Is this debate Thursday night going to be about nuances over the war in Iraq, or are we going to see a common front? 

KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE:  I think, without question, the war is going to be the 500-pound canary in the room.

And I think that McCain‘s position on the war is going to be what they calibrate it against or—or for.  And, so, it‘s going to be fascinating to me to see how they separate themselves from the president and McCain or how they embrace the president and McCain‘s position on the war.

Without question, all of them will probably speak to errors in prosecution of the war, but will show their—their love and support and patriotism for—for—for the troops, and will show a united front on this issue, one, that the president needs to get the resources to the troops, and the Democrats need to stop the obstruction. 

MATTHEWS:  Steve, your cut at it? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think—I think the secretary has laid it out pretty well.

I think John McCain has gotten himself pretty far out there on a limb.  And he‘s going to be looking for some company tomorrow—or on Thursday night, so that, perhaps, they can—they can come out with him, because his vulnerability now is—ironically, after being criticized by the Republican right for not supporting the president consistently enough, his vulnerability now is that he‘s supporting the president a little too much on Iraq, when most of the country wants to go in a different direction. 

I think he would like to get some of his Republican colleagues on the record in support of Bush‘s policy.  I think they‘re going to be reluctant to go there, because they‘re reading the same polling data, Chris, that you were sharing with everyone earlier. 

BLACKWELL:  Chris, I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about how—how did this, Ken—how did it work out this way?  How did Rudy Giuliani get to be Mr. Homeland Defense, and John McCain has to be Mr. Baghdad?  It looks like Rudy got the best part of the pie here, politically.

BLACKWELL:  Well, it all has to deal with legacy and imagery around September the 11th.

But I think that what you are going to see is a language shift, where we‘re not going to be talking about the war in Iraq only as backdrop.  You‘re going to hear candidate after candidate talk about the war against the Islamic jihadists or radical Islam or a transnational network that is fueled by hate for America and our values and principles.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how do you think, Ken, that we can reduce that hatred? 

BLACKWELL:  Well, the fact is, is that we, in fact, have to realize that we have been in a sustained struggle against a network of terrorists that have been fueled by radical Islam.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but I am asking you a direct question.  I am asking you simple question.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How do you reduce the hatred?

BLACKWELL:  The direct question—we have to win—we have to win that confrontation, Chris.  I mean, that‘s a fact.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How does winning—wait a minute.  I‘m—I‘m asking a question. 

We have—we have just gotten polls, a number of polls, from the Arab world, in the moderate countries like Morocco and Jordan, and—and another Islamic country, Turkey, where, like, 10, 15 percent of people, at the most, have a positive attitude towards us.  A good part of the countries hate us.

Now, that hatred becomes a sea of opportunity for recruitment of terrorists, suicide terrorists, of course.  How do we change that reality?  If we have that sea of hatred out there, how do we ever win this war? 

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL:  Well—well, the—the fact is, is that we don‘t accommodate that hatred.  We don‘t—we don‘t succumb to it, Chris.

Again, I think, as we—as we fight terrorists around the world, in terms of that network, we have to win.  The fact is, is that one of the upsides of having concentrated and—and—and made, as General Petraeus said, the entire front being Iraq, is that we are now going to see various camps of terrorists turn on themselves.  We have to fight the war against radical Islam and win it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go.  Petraeus, I‘m just going by a guy I respect, obviously, General Petraeus, saying that a lot of these people are coming in from around the Islamic world.  As long as there is a continual flow of people willing to commit suicide to kill our troops and to kill Shia or Sunni, to get involved in that civil war over there, how did we ever end the war, if there is an unlimited flow of people, from a billion people who are Islamic in this world, if they have an endless sea of people that want kill themselves to get to us?  How can you, quote, win a war, Ken?  I don‘t get the theory here.

BLACKWELL:  Well, Chris, we do have to win the war against the terrorists, but it is not a linear approach.  It is an approach that is political.  It is diplomatic.  And it is cultural.  And I think, fighting on all of those fronts, we can do it. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you, I think, well said.  Let me ask you—

Steve, let me ask you about the battle.  Are the Democrats confident that if they do cut off the money, that they American people won‘t turn on them and say, you know, we did want these datelines to get out of that country, we do think we ought to end this war, but you can‘t cut off the equipment and the food and everything else going to troops. 

MCMAHON:  Well, I do not think there are any Democrats talking about cutting off equipment and food. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, if the president vetoes the bill, there isn‘t anything going to the troops. 

MCMAHON:  Well, there is going to be another bill.  And the other bill will have a different set of benchmarks.  Even the Republicans now, Congressman Boehner, Congressman Blunt, Congressman Iglesias from South Carolina, are talking about different forms of benchmarks to hold the Iraqi government accountable.  However it happens, whether it is funding or whether it is some other benchmark, the American people are ready for this Congress to take a stand and say, enough is enough; no more blank checks.  There has to be some accountability. 

The Republicans, by the way, are reading the same polls, Chris, that you are.  And the guys who have to actually run for reelection, not the president, put the people who actually put their names on the ballot, are deeply concerned about the course of this war, deeply concerned about the president‘s commitment to it, and want a way out.  

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  I just wonder when the worm turns and it becomes not the issue of where you stand on the war, but funded the troops adequately or not, and whether the president doesn‘t have that ace in the hole to say, wait a minute; the money runs out May 15th, where‘s the bill?  

MCMAHON:  But Chris, there will be a series of benchmarks.  The Bush administration was the administration that put forth these benchmarks for the Iraqi government.  now the Congress is just saying, look, we‘re calling your bluff.  You said the Iraqi government was going to meet certain benchmarks.  Let‘s have them meet them meet those benchmarks.  You know, the Republicans are actually talking about having conditions upon where the troops can be placed within the war zone.  So they are all getting to the same place. 

This president is not going to be able to ignore the Congress and the American people very much longer.  And if he does not get the message, the Republicans on the Hill will. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much Steve McMahon.  Thank you very much Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now with the Family Research Council.  It‘s great to have you back. 

We are going to talk about the fourth anniversary now, if you want to call it that, of President Bush saying on that aircraft carrier, “Mission Accomplished.”  Of course a war came after that, a war many thought wasn‘t going to happen.  But the war has happened in the last four years.  We‘re going to talk to an expert on that, Paul Rieckhoff, who is head of the Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America.  We‘ll be right back with an expert on this four year war many didn‘t expect to happen. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Paul Rieckhoff is head of the Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America.  Thank you Paul for joining us tonight.  Let‘s talk about troops.  The people care about the troops in our country a great deal, as they should.  Those troops are serving us.  They‘re getting killed for us.  This month is the worst month in terms of KIA‘s, killed in action, this whole year.  And here we are on the anniversary, if you want to call it that—it‘s probably a bad word for it—the fourth year, to the day, after the president on that aircraft carrier declared the war basically over, mission accomplished. 

What do troops you meet with think about the fact that this is a war we did not think would happen, that four years ago we thought there wouldn‘t be a real battle of Baghdad like this? 

PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHAN VETERANS OF AMERICA:  I think they‘re surprised, Chris, because of those of us in the military could have predicted a lot of these issues.  We could have predicted the rise of the insurgency.  We could have predicted that the military could have gotten bogged down.  We read our military history and we learn from people like Colin Powell and others who warned against this type of quagmire. 

So I don‘t think as many people are surprised in the military, quite frankly, that were surprised in the government.  I think it is frustrating, at times, because it still seems like the people in the military understand a great deal more about what is happening on the ground than our representatives in Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, do the military, the young men and women who go into services, know that in third world countries they resist occupation?  They knew that?

RIECKHOFF:  Sure, absolutely.  I remember being in officer basic school studying prior insurgencies.  And I understand that an effective counter-insurgency takes decades.  And I think if you listen carefully to what General Petraeus is saying, he says that, quite frankly.  But I think one of the major disconnects, and it started with the Mission Accomplished Speech, is that the president gave the American people the idea that this was going to be easy; it was going to be over quickly; and there wouldn‘t be a huge cost. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that adds up then, because we did know, at least students of the region knew—I did not know personally—that there was a long-standing dispute between the Shia and the Sunni portions of Islam, and that that‘s been going on for 1,300 years.  And in the country of Iraq there is a division, with about a 60-20 advantage in population to the Shia, who have always been the under people, if you will.  And the people calling the shots under Saddam were always the Sunni minority. 

So there is that tremendous desire to get even.  Revanchism (ph) it‘s called in the third world, Getting even.  We did know that people, as you say, resist occupations.  We know that if you are going to fight an occupation, you have to have an insurgency, that insurgencies are fought by the occupiers with counter-insurgency, using torture, because that‘s the only way to get information on what the insurgency‘s up to.  So if you put it all together, Paul, everything was predictable, except the American people were not prepared for this. 

I was not prepared.  The president declared victory.  Here we were, ready to walk out of Iraq victors. 

RIECKHOFF:  I don‘t know if torture is the only way.  I‘ve got to challenge you a bit on that one. 

MATTHEWS:  Well let me ask you this, what has been the historic colonialist effort to break an insurgency?  What have they done?  They‘ve gotten people, informants, OK?  How else have they got it? 

RIECKHOFF:  That‘s the key, to cultivate that organic intelligence, that human intelligence from within the community.  What you do with it is the next step and another discussion.  But I think the key issue here is that those of us, especially early on, I think, in late 2003, early 2004, who were on the ground, who came home during those first few years of the war, were trying to alert the American people, and were trying to alert people in government that things were not going well, that we didn‘t have enough diplomatic and political options on the ground.

We didn‘t have enough troops.  We didn‘t control the borders.  These ethnic groups were starting to fight each other.  And I think that is where we had a critical turning point.  And that is why I think this Mission Accomplished anniversary is so important, because it was the first point where the American people realized there was a disconnect between the president and the reality on the ground.  I know it‘s not something we should celebrate, but I think, if anything, it gives us a point to take stock and to think about where we are. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about the future.  There‘s two things coming about.  First of all, the president is talking about, and you hear about this, our tactics.  We are going to put men, mainly men, out in small units to hold these areas once we take them.  Small, little fortifications, you know, like the outposts British used to have in Northern Ireland, you know, like police posts, very vulnerable to attack.  Also, we‘re going to start embedding our troops in Iraqi units, which makes them susceptible to being grabbed and taken prisoner and, you know, tortured and everything else.

Doesn‘t the future look even scarier for our troops than it does in big units.  

RIECKHOFF:  Absolutely, and that‘s exactly the type of work that we did when I was there in 2003 and 2004.  And then we had this period where we pulled back, went into these giant forward operating bases, and didn‘t mingle within the community like we had been.  Now we are going back to kind of where we were in late 2003 and 2004, and for our guys and girls on the ground, it is incredibly dangerous. 

You do not know who your enemies are, who your friends are.  You are greatly outnumbered.  You‘re already probably there for a second and third tour.  It is extremely dangerous.  You‘ve been bringing it up all week.  And I think you have to put yourself in the shoes of those soldiers, just for a few days.  Imagine how dangerous it is to be in a remote downtown outpost, where you are surrounded by Iraqis, and you do not know who is trying to kill you or not.  It‘s incredibly dangerous.  And that‘s one of the things that I try to do, is just try to communicate that personal experience.  Think about how tough this is for our American soldiers and Marines on the ground.  It‘s incredibly difficult. 

MATTHEWS:  This is “Beau Geste” all over again, fortresses out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Arabs who don‘t want you there.  Anyway, thank you Paul Rieckhoff for joining us, and giving us this insight.  We‘re going to come right back with the “Politico‘s” Roger Simon, one of the best columnists around.  We‘ll talk about the debate coming up, also the Democrats and their big fight now with the president over the war funding issue, which is coming to a head tonight, as the president has vetoed the bill.  It‘s all happening tonight, the big fight between the Democrats and the president over Iraq.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We have 10 Republican candidates already running for president.  There may be more joining the group, but 10 of them are going to meet Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan Library, right above Los Angeles.  Roger Simon is with “Politico.”  “Politico” is going to be our partners in this debate.

Roger, is this going to be an attempt by the back benchers, if you will, of this campaign, people like Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, the libertarian, Duncan Hunter, to try to engage with the front runners? 

ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”:  I think so.  I think you have got a large second tier in the Republican party.  All of them have the capability of being bomb throwers in this debate, just to distinguish themselves, just to gain some attention.  I mean, these guys are starved of oxygen.  Basically, nobody cares about their races, and they‘ve got to show Republicans why they should care about their races. 

MATTHEWS:  You have got some cultural nuances there, to say the least.  You‘ve got Brownback, very culturally conservative from Kansas, and then you‘ve got Rudy Giuliani.  Do you think that would be a point of demarcation in the Republican party over the Reagan legacy. 

SIMON:  I think the Reagan legacy is very important to these people, not just because it‘s at the Reagan Library, although that‘s symbolic enough.  But because Ronald Reagan had an uncanny ability to connect with people, to connect with voters.  There are three presidents of the modern era who could do this, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and to some extent, actually to a pretty significant extent, Bill Clinton. 

All these candidates want to be Reaganesque in that way.  They are all going to say they have the bonafides to be a Reagan Republican, that they are mainstream Republicans.  But that‘s not what Ronald Reagan was.  Ronald Reagan was more than that.  And he got people to vote for him who never voted for a Republican before in their lives.  We‘ll see if any of them can even get close to assuming that mantle. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Reagan had a great strength, and even his critics would admit, he understood what he was doing in politics.  He did not join politics because he wanted to be a politician.  He went into political life so he could achieve some ambitions for the country, for example, he wanted to defeat Soviet communism.  And he found a way to do it, out running them in terms of technology, innovation, that we could do things like, at least potentially, SDI, and we could beat them, in terms of our ability to pay for something like that. 

And that, you might say, bluffed Gorbachev into saying uncle.  And also said I‘m going to reduce the size of government by cutting taxes.  He had a purpose and he had I means to do it.  Do you think any of these candidates for president can find that kind of unity of purpose here? 

SIMON:  I think it will be tough.  I‘m not sure how any of them really measure up, are going to measure up in the minds of the public when they see Ronald Reagan on one hand, and any of these on the other.  I was just going over my old clips today.  When Ronald Reagan won the nomination and won the presidency in 1980, when he won the nomination, it was not the cake walk that, by comparison, it is now. 

We think this is the toughest election ever.  When Ronald Reagan ran, he ran in 25 contested primaries.  No one wanted it to be over on February 5th back then.  This went all the way to the convention, where he fell short—I‘m sorry, when he ran in 1976 -- when he felt short by 100 votes to the sitting president, unelected sitting President Gerald Ford.  Those were real campaigns and they brought out the best in a guy who was a natural campaigner. 

Of the Republicans now, I think the best campaigner I have seen, in terms of enjoying himself, which Ronald Reagan always did, is Rudy Giuliani.  He actually seems to get a charge out of the process.  And I think Americans like that.  They like to see happy, enthusiastic candidates. 

MATTHEWS:  Enthusiastic; they don‘t like people who have to be talked into running either.  So I‘m wondering about Fred Thompson, where he has to sort of, you know, hang off the stage there and say, well if you really ask me nice, I might run.  Anyway, we‘re going to come back, Roger and I, with live coverage of President Bush‘s remarks about vetoing that war spending bill.  We‘ll be right back on MSNBC.

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

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