updated 5/7/2007 11:49:54 AM ET 2007-05-07T15:49:54

Guests: Susan Page, Bill Richardson, Peter King, John Kyl, Howard McKeon, Ron Christie, Mark Green

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Who‘s got the action?  The Republicans are in the fight now.  Which one‘s moving ahead?  And how ready are these guys to really take on Hillary or Obama, or whoever?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  The first round is over, but the real battle is just beginning.  The 10 Republicans who met last night for their first presidential debate had plenty to say about Ronald Reagan but very little to say about the man they‘re looking to succeed, George W.  Bush.  Tonight we‘ll hear from the top three Republican campaigns, Giuliani, McCain and Romney, who‘s up and who‘s down in the GOP field and how they stack up against their Democratic rivals.

Plus, the Republicans held their debate as the national debate over Iraq rages on.  On Thursday—yesterday—Senator Hillary Clinton proposed Congress repeal that authorization of October 2002 that gave President Bush the right to invade Iraq.  We‘re going to talk about the Clinton plan, if you will, with one of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

We begin with the first-in-the-country Republican debate.  HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has this report.


DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In front of Nancy Reagan and in their first debate of this presidential campaign, the 10 Republicans largely ignored President Bush while stampeding to embrace the legacy of President Reagan, mentioning him 19 times.

TOMMY THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The great thing about Ronald Reagan was he was a uniter.

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER MASS. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It‘s that optimism we thank Ronald Reagan for.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe in the Ronald Reagan principle.

SHUSTER:  The world, however, is far different than it was 25 years ago.  The current Republican president has low approval numbers, and most Americans say the war in Iraq was a mistake.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The war was terribly mismanaged.  The war was terribly mismanaged.

SHUSTER:  But John McCain also harshly attacked Democrats.

MCCAIN:  When the majority leader of the United States Senate says we‘ve lost the war, the men and women that are serving in Iraq reject that notion.  And if we lost, then who won?  Did al Qaeda win?

SHUSTER:  The other front-runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, tackled their vulnerabilities on social issues.  Many conservatives are squeamish about Romney‘s evolving views on abortion.

ROMNEY:  Well, I‘ve always been personally pro-life, but for me, it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision.

SHUSTER:  But in fact, in the 1990s, Romney stated unequivocally that government should protect abortion rights.

ROMNEY:  I said I was wrong and changed my mind and said I‘m pro-life.  And I‘m proud of that and I won‘t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life.

SHUSTER:  Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was asked whether it would be good for America if the Supreme Court repealed the case legalizing abortion.


It‘d be OK.


GIULIANI:  It would be OK to repeal.  It‘d be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent.

SHUSTER:  A few minutes later, Giuliani hedged again.

GIULIANI:  States should make their decision.  Some states decide to do it.  Most states decide not to do it.  And I think that‘s the appropriate way to—to have this decided.

SHUSTER:  Then in his third response, he finally offered clarity.

GIULIANI:  Ultimately, since it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a woman‘s right to make a different choice.

SHUSTER:  Among the second-tier candidates, the debate was a good one for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee has been making inroads among Christian conservatives.


tell people up front, my faith does affect my decision process.  It explains me.  No apology for that.

SHUSTER:  And on top of a personable and articulate style, Huckabee provided the debate with the funniest one-liner.  The question was whether the Constitution should be changed so that a foreign-born citizen like Arnold Schwarzenegger could run for president.

HUCKABEE:  This would be not a good start, to do it that way.

MATTHEWS:  So that‘s a no.  Three no‘s in a row.

HUCKABEE:  That‘s a no.  After I‘ve served eight years as president, I‘d be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.



SHUSTER:  In this first GOP debate and as the candidates shook off the rust, there were a few misfires, including John McCain‘s rushed pledge about Osama bin Laden.

MCCAIN:  We will track him down.  We will capture—we will bring him to justice, and I‘ll follow him to the gates of hell.


SHUSTER:  Kansas senator Sam Brownback spoke about the coarsening of our society.

BROWNBACK:  What I would hope to do is to lead by example, lead ethically, lead in rebuilding a family and in renewing the culture.

SHUSTER:  Then 15 minutes later...

BROWNBACK:  The current tax code system, which doesn‘t work, which ought to be taken behind a barn and killed with a dull axe...

SHUSTER:  In the end, though, there were no fatal mistakes, and there was agreement on the issues that will dominate the presidential campaign.

JIM GILMORE ®, FORMER VIRGINIA GOV. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We‘re going to have to engage in the Middle East, and we‘re going to have to do it for an extended and a long period of time.

SHUSTER (on camera):  The candidates are now back on the campaign trail, hitting the early primary states and raising money.  The GOP‘s next debate is next month.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome (ph) back to Washington, David.  David has a great package, a great cut of what happened last night.  I want to thank Nancy Reagan, of course, for having me moderate this incredible evening among the Republicans.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is a McCain supporter.  He‘s joining us right now.  Congressman Peter King of New York has thrown his weight behind Giuliani.  And Congressman Howard Buck McKeon of California supports Governor Romney.  Gentlemen, I want to ask each of you how your candidate did last night.  Senator Kyl, McCain?

SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), MCCAIN SUPPORTER:  I thought he did very well.  He had an energy and a passion and was able to exhibit his leadership and his experience both on issues of national security, such as the war, but also on the wasteful Washington spending issue that he‘s led on.  So I thought he acquitted himself very well.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman King, Giuliani—how‘d he do?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), GIULIANI SUPPORTER:  I thought Rudy did very well, especially on the issue of leadership and taking on international Islamic terrorism.  As far as I know, in the two debates with all of the candidates, Rudy is the only one who‘s come out front and center in saying it‘s radical Islamic terrorism, not some amorphous terrorism, but Islamic terrorism that‘s the defining issue of our time.  He‘s the guy to handle it.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman McKeon, how do you think Governor Romney did last night?

REP. HOWARD “BUCK” MCKEON (R-CA), ROMNEY SUPPORTER:  I think he did fantastic.  I was talking to some people that were at the debate last night, and they said some of the people that were there had some gatherings right after and were asked how they thought the debate had gone and who had won, and overwhelmingly, they thought that Romney had won.  So I think he was able to show that he‘s the one that has the enthusiasm, the integrity, the character, the experience as one that should step up and be ready to be president.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Congressman King.  I‘m still confused, and I‘m not sure it‘s my fault, about where these candidates stand on a national ID card, a tamper-proof ID card, as Mayor Giuliani describes it.  Is he for that or is he for some new kind of ID card that only illegal immigrants would carry?  I don‘t get it.

KING:  My understanding is that it would be a Social Security card would be tamper-proof, but also, Rudy is talking about, I believe, coming into the country as immigrants would have to have a tamper-free card so—to show they‘re here legally, rather than illegally.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how would you discriminate, if this person had an accent, if they looked a little non-white?  I mean, how would you say, Show me your ID card, if it wasn‘t a rule for everyone?  I don‘t get this.  Constitutionally, it makes no sense to me that you can discriminate and say Arnold Schwarzenegger has to carry a laminated ID card that‘s tamper-proof and you and I don‘t.  I don‘t get it as a legal issue.  It makes no sense.

KING:  No, if you have a tamper-free Social Security card, it means you‘re in the country legally.  But also, if you are not an American citizen and you want to say that you are here legally, you would have to show that you have a tamper-free card.  Obviously, you can‘t tell every illegal walking down the street, but the fact is, if the question does come up, a person would have to show ID.

MATTHEWS:  What does it mean to you, a national tamper-proof ID card? 

That‘s the phrase used by Mayor Giuliani, national tamper-free ID card.

KING:  Well, it would be a card that would be universal.  It would the same card around the country, and it would have—it would be done by computer, and you would know whether it was real or not.  I mean, it would be a nationally calibrated card.  I don‘t think it‘s that difficult.  Maybe...


MATTHEWS:  ... the way I understood it last night...

KING:  ... the concept isn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  I understood it—in fact, I think it‘s a great idea in the world we live in now.

Congressman McKeon, when we thought we had reached clarity on what these two candidates were talking about, all of a sudden, your candidate last night, standing nearby me, said, No, I don‘t mean a tamper-proof national ID card.  I want just some card that foreigners have to carry when they‘re here.  What are we talking about here?  They carry a passport.

MCKEON:  Oh, much like a passport, I guess.  People that come into...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is a tamper-proof national ID card?  I just don‘t know what they‘re talking about here.

MCKEON:  We have the technology, much like a Visa card now.  You can go into a store and you can buy an item, and they very quickly can tell that you are—if you have money in your account.  We have the technology to follow this.  And we can have a hardened card that shows that people are here legally.  Now people can come in the country illegally.  They can go buy a driver‘s license.  They can buy a Social Security card.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  I know.  I think it‘s disgusting.  I‘m with you, Congressman.  I think it‘s a rotten deal that states give away driver‘s licenses to people illegally in this country.  But when I said a national tamper-proof ID card, to clarify it last night, out of nowhere, Governor Romney took a follow-up to another question and said, Oh, I don‘t mean a national ID card, I mean a card just for foreigners.  What kind of a card would that be?

MCKEON:  A card for foreigners, people that are in the country either on a temporary basis—you know, it‘s kind of hard to say you would give one to everybody...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s called a passport!

MCKEON:  ... that‘s here illegally because—well, yes, it‘s kind of like a passport or...

MATTHEWS:  We already have one of them!  OK.  I‘m sorry.  I get excited because I think the lack of clarity is not an accident here.  I think people are trying to get it both ways.  They‘re trying to say they‘re for really securing the border, but they don‘t want to offend any libertarian groups or any ethnic groups out there, anybody who might be against clear identification of people in this country legally.  I wish everybody had to show they were in this country legally, but apparently, there‘s a problem with that with Governor Romney last night, who pulled back and said, Oh, not, not everybody has to have one of these, just foreigners.

MCKEON:  Well, everybody that‘s here that‘s born here has a birth certificate that shows that they‘re born here.  They have, you know, documents to show that they‘re here legally and that they‘re citizens.  But people that enter the country on a basis to come here to work on a short-term basis or with a visa, we would just make that that they would have a card that shows that they‘re here.  And then once that happens, you know, we can track them, but we can follow people, and that‘s I think very, very important.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know the problem with that...

MCKEON:  And if they‘re not here illegally...

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, you know the problem with that.  You can‘t ask a person, because they seem like a foreigner or their English isn‘t very good, to show you something that everybody else doesn‘t have to show.  Under our Constitution, we all get treated the same.  We can‘t be profiled.  So you can‘t just say the law will state you must carry a card if you come from another country because to ask a person for one is to presume they did come from another country.  And if a person like you or I have a regular American accent and don‘t get asked, that‘s discriminatory.  That‘s the whole problem with this thing.

I want to move on.  And maybe it‘s just my particular interest, but since I was moderating last night, I wasn‘t getting clarity.  And I hope I get that from the campaigns.

Here‘s what several of the candidates...

MCKEON:  It‘s a little hard when, you know, you get a 15-second sound bite to clarify something that‘s pretty complicated and...

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s not.  You‘re a good spokesman for Governor—you know it‘s easy.  Everybody gets the same ID card.  Everybody‘s got to show it.  You can‘t cheat with it.  I think that‘s a great idea.  Let‘s see if the candidates have the same clarity on what they stand for.  It‘s up to them what they want to do.

Here‘s my question about Roe v Wade.  Let‘s listen.


MATTHEWS:  Would the day that Roe v Wade is repealed be a good day for America?

ROMNEY:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Senator?

BROWNBACK:  It‘d be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom.

MATTHEWS:  Governor?

GILMORE:  Yes.  It was wrongly decided.

MATTHEWS:  Governor?

HUCKABEE:  Most certainly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What was the question?

MATTHEWS:  Congressman?



MATTHEWS:  Governor—Senator?




GIULIANI:  It‘d be OK.

MATTHEWS:  OK to repeal?

GIULIANI:  It would be OK to repeal.  It would be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent.  And I think a judge has to make that...

MATTHEWS:  Would it be OK if they didn‘t repeal it?

GIULIANI:  I think that—I think the Court has to make that decision, and then the country can deal with it.  We‘re a federalist system of government and states could make their own decisions.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After 40 million dead because we have aborted them in this country, I say that that would be the greatest day in this country‘s history, when that is, in fact, overturned.


MATTHEWS:  Congressman King, good day or bad day, the day we repeal Roe v Wade, for your candidate, Giuliani?

KING:  Well, it would be good for me.  And I‘m probably the most—as pro-life of a record as anyone during the 15 years I‘ve been in Congress.  No, there‘s no doubt that Rudy and I would have a slightly different position on this.  Having said that, the reality is today, Chris, the only issues involving abortion are going to be decided by the courts, or in the Congress involving the Hyde amendment.  Rudy is 100 percent behind the Hyde amendment, and the judges he would appoint to the court are strict constructionists like Scalia, Roberts, Alito.  And as a pro-life legislator, I‘m, first of all, voting for Rudy on the totality.  But even on the issue of pro-life, having people like—judges like Alito, Roberts and Scalia to me should assure all pro-life supporters...

MATTHEWS:  But Congressman, he ended up last night saying that he was pro-choice.  He ended up saying last night at the end, when he had his final round...

KING:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... he said it‘s the woman‘s choice, in the end.

KING:  Right.  Right.  But he‘s not making the decision.  This now is being fought out in the courts, and he is going to appoint strict constructionists who historically have cast pro-life votes on the Supreme Court because of their interpretation of the Constitution.  So if you‘re really pro-life, whether it‘s Rudy Giuliani or the other candidates, the judges he would appoint are going to end up at the same place.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Senator McCain‘s position is pro-life all the way, Senator Kyl, right?

KYL:  That‘s right.  He was clear.  He said it had been wrongly decided.  Senator McCain is the one candidate here among all of these major candidates that has a record in the United States Senate, and it is a totally pro-life record.

MATTHEWS:  Except before, he wasn‘t for repealing, and now he is for repealing Roe v Wade, isn‘t he?  Isn‘t he changing on that constitutional question?

KYL:  Chris, I‘m not sure.  I will say this, he was crystal clear last night.

MATTHEWS:  He sure was.

KYL:  And if he had—if he had a statement earlier that wasn‘t quite that clear, he certainly was clear last night.  And—but the key thing is, he has cast numerous votes in the United States Senate.  You can‘t—it‘s either yes or no, and those votes are very clearly pro-life votes.

MATTHEWS:  And he was also clearly a believer in evolution last night.  He was quite clear on that statement.  Thee other candidates are not believers in evolution.

Anyway, thank you very much, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, U.S.  Congressman Peter King of New York state and Congressman Buck McKeon of California.

Coming up: So who looked the most presidential last night?  And with the Republican candidates talking about Ronald Reagan so often last night, which one sounded the most like him?  That‘s a tough standard.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


GIULIANI:  We should never retreat in the face of terrorism, terrible mistake.  When you had this debate last weekend, all the Democrats were up here, I never remember the words Islamic fundamentalist terrorism being spoken by any of them.

ROMNEY:  This is a worldwide jihadist effort.  They ultimately want to bring down the United States of America.  This is a global effort we‘re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort.  It‘s more than Osama bin Laden, but he is going to pay, and he will die.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m a consistent conservative that keeps his word.

THOMPSON:  I‘m the reliable conservative.  I vetoed 1,900 things.

BROWNBACK:  I believe in the Ronald Reagan principle that somebody that‘s with you 80 percent of the time is not your enemy.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now that they‘ve had 24 hours to digest and analyze the performance of the GOP 10 yesterday, Susan Paige of “USA Today” and Craig Crawford, author of the new book “The Politics of Life: 25 Rules for Survival in a Brutal and Manipulative World” are here to tell us—well, I‘m manipulative (ph), too—how the candidates did.

Let‘s take a look now.we have analysts today who are here to tell us how the candidates did.  Here‘s Giuliani, McCain and Hunter—that‘s Duncan Hunter—on the issue of Iran.


GIULIANI:  The reality is, the use of military force against Iran would be very dangerous.  It‘d be very provocative.  The only thing worse would be Iran being a nuclear power.  It‘s the worst nightmare of the cold war, isn‘t it?  Nuclear weapons in the hands of an irrational person, an irrational force.  Ahmadinejad is clearly irrational.  He has to understand it‘s not an option.  He cannot have nuclear weapons.  And he has to look at an American president and he has to see Ronald Reagan.  Remember the—they looked in Ronald Reagan‘s eyes, and in two minutes, they released the hostages.

MCCAIN: Iran poses one of the greatest threats to the world, the security of the world, and in the Middle East. I believe the Iranians have got—we have got to bring greater pressures, diplomatic, economic, political, join with our European allies, who still fear greatly the effort of the cutoff of oil from—into Europe.

We have to work together.  If the Russians and the Chinese are not helpful to us, then we had better figure out a way to put additional pressures, encouraging democracy and freedom within Iraq, which is a very cultured society—within Iran, which is a very cultured society.

At the end of the day we cannot allow Iran...


MCCAIN:  ... to acquire nuclear weapons.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Right now, Iran is moving equipment into Iraq that is being used to kill Americans.  Iran has crossed the line.  And the United States has absolute license at this point to take whatever actions are necessary to stop those deadly instruments from being moved across the line, being used in explosives, roadside bombs, inside Iraq. 

And, lastly, you know, we don‘t—we should not get to the edge of the cliff on this enrichment of uranium and plutonium to be used for a nuclear weapon in Iran.


MATTHEWS:  Who‘s next, Curtis LeMay? 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s a tough group of hawks right there, Craig. 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, first of all, I think we have got to settle on how we‘re going to pronounce the name of the country, before we bomb it.


CRAWFORD:  I got yelled at this a lot myself.

MATTHEWS:  You quibbler.  You dove.

CRAWFORD:  But it‘s supposed to be Iran. 


MATTHEWS:  So, let‘s agree it‘s Iran. 

CRAWFORD:  All right. 



MATTHEWS:  So, what do you think?  They‘re all—they‘re hair-trigger guys.

CRAWFORD:  I was—I was struck at how trigger-happy these Republicans are, compared to the Democrats last week, who couldn‘t even muster much of a response on the question about retaliating on an attack on U.S. soil.  Hillary instinctively said she would militarily retaliate. 

So, if the voters are looking for a more gentle and nuanced and diplomatic face toward potential enemies around the world, Democrats clearly are that.  But I have a feeling that, when it gets down to it in this election, particularly if there is another attack, voters might be looking...


CRAWFORD:  ... for this tough talk again that they heard from Republicans. 

MATTHEWS:  Do they want, Susan—the language last night was language of prevention, not preemption.  Just the fact that this country—we‘re talking about Iran—has a nuclear weapon, or may have one, sounds like the grounds for attack, not they‘re about to launch and we‘re going to catch them, like Israel did the Arabs in ‘67.  That‘s preemption.  And that‘s usually justified.  If you know they‘re coming, you get them before they come.

These guys are saying, if they‘re even thinking about it, or even have the potential to come at us, we‘re going to nail them. 

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “USA TODAY”:  I thought it was interesting how much more eager they were to talk about Iran than about Iraq. 



PAGE:  I mean, there was a lot more “Let me wax on about what I would do” about the crisis we are not in the middle of. 

MATTHEWS:  Because one is more speculative.

PAGE:  One more speculative.  One is a lot of less messy.  The—on Iraq, you have to...


MATTHEWS:  But what about—what about Craig‘s point, that they are just as hawkish in their tone as—as they have been throughout—at least in the early going of the Iraq war? 


PAGE:  Very much so. 

And I thought the best answer was probably from Rudy Giuliani, who does skillfully play that “I‘m going to be tough on terrorism” card, even as he gets wrapped up in ropes when he tries to talk about abortion. 


MATTHEWS:  Because he‘s smart.  Because he says terrorism all the time in a way that suggests, “I‘m going for protect you in the homeland,” rather than “I‘m going to”—rather than “I‘m going to go into another adventure overseas.”

PAGE: “And I did it for you before.”



CRAWFORD:  That business about Iran only released the hostages because...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

CRAWFORD:  ... they looked into Reagan‘s eyes, I don‘t think he knows what he‘s talking about there.

MATTHEWS:  I think—I think they figured they had tortured Carter enough. 


MATTHEWS:  They cost him the presidency.


MATTHEWS:  They achieved their goal by that point. 

I had never heard that interpretation in my whole life, by the way.  The most strongest Reaganite people in the world would probably say that they tortured Carter to death with it.  It helped Reagan win, and then it was over.  The game was over.  Were they going to kill these guys?

CRAWFORD:  And there was deal-making behind the signs—behind the scenes. 


MATTHEWS:  Oh.  Do you mean...


MATTHEWS:  Are you talking about the October surprise? 



MATTHEWS:  We will be—well, we will come back with more of Craig‘s speculations, and Susan Page, Page‘s journalism.


MATTHEWS:  And you can watch the Republican presidential candidates debate against this weekend.  They‘re going to do it again—on tape—

3:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, noon Eastern on Sunday, two more times to see these candidates in action. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with more on the GOP debate last night with Susan Page of the “USA Today” and MSNBC‘s Craig Crawford, author of the new book “The Politics of Life: 25 Rules for Survival in a Brutal and Manipulative World.”  


MATTHEWS:  Susan, what does GOP stand for? 

PAGE:  Grand Old Party. 

MATTHEWS:  Does everybody know that watching right now?  I always wonder.  Every time I see GOP—I mean, we know it in this business.  But do you think everybody knows that?  Do you think everybody knows...

CRAWFORD:  I think maybe that has pretty much caught on by now.

MATTHEWS:  Grand Old Party.

CRAWFORD:  I mean, I like having a second reference when you‘re writing for the Republicans.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you can‘t do it with the Dems, though.

CRAWFORD:  We don‘t have a second reference for Democrats.

PAGE:  No.  There‘s isn‘t one.  That‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s like Israel is the Jewish state. 

PAGE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, you‘re typing it.  You have to do it the other—gays, homosexual, you can mix it up.



MATTHEWS:  But it is hard to come up with another one for Democrats. 


PAGE:  Are the questions going to get harder as—as we go on?


MATTHEWS:  Well, here is Giuliani—and here comes a tough one—

Giuliani and Romney talking about abortion. 


GIULIANI:  In my case, I hate abortion.  I would encourage someone to not take that option.  When I was mayor of New York City, I encouraged adoptions.  Adoptions went up 65, 70 percent.  Abortions went down 16 percent.

But, ultimately, since it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a woman‘s right to make a different choice. 

I support the ban on partial-birth abortion.  I support the Hyde amendment.  But, ultimately, I think when you come down to that choice, you have to respect a woman‘s right to make that choice.

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I have always been personally pro-life, but, for me, it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision.  And, when I ran for office, I said I would protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position.

About two years ago, when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too far.  It‘s a “Brave New World” mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind. 

I took the same course that Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and Henry Hyde took, and I said I was wrong and changed my mind, and said, I‘m pro-life.  And I‘m proud of that, and I won‘t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life.


MATTHEWS:  You know, I have to ask you—I have to tell you, Rudy Giuliani‘s position is a very general position in this country, what he just said. 

He said:  We would like to have more adoption.  We would like to have more information, more birth control, if you will.  He didn‘t say that.  We would like to have less situations where people do choose abortion.  But, if the choice is, in the end, theirs, I‘m going to honor that.

Romney said:  I don‘t believe it is their choice.  I believe that the state and the government have a right to outlaw it and to ban it.  And, if you want to get an abortion, you have to leave the country to get one.  And we don‘t want you doing that.

That‘s a position—that‘s a hard position, that second position. 

PAGE:  And that position...


MATTHEWS:  I‘m not sure that‘s a popular position in this country. 

PAGE:  ... consistent with the Republican primary electorate‘s.

MATTHEWS:  You think?

PAGE:  And, you know, Romney came out there with...

MATTHEWS:  Are we sure of that? 

PAGE:  Yes.  Well, yes.  I think—I think we know that there‘s a—there‘s a significant portion of the Republican primary electorate that votes on this issue, and not on other issues. 

And, you know, Romney came out there with an explanation for why he changed position.  Now, you can believe it or not, but he does—he had a consistent...


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Suppose you‘re...


PAGE:  Giuliani—Giuliani, the clip you used was the second time around on abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.  He had a hard time with it.

PAGE:  The first time...


PAGE:  ... it was unclear what—what in the world his position was.

MATTHEWS:  Craig, if you‘re—if you‘re—and it‘s very hard to put your—if you‘re not one of these people, if you‘re a very a strong pro-lifer—and I know a lot of them—very strong pro-lifer, in my family, lots of them—and do you trust a person who has switched, or do you go with a person you agree with on other issues, and say, at least he is being honest?


CRAWFORD:  Well, I have found—you know, I covered politics, grew up in an area that was mostly pro-life in their politics in Central Florida.  And I found people accepted George Bush Sr.‘s switch on that, even though...

MATTHEWS:  Toward the pro-life position.

CRAWFORD:  ... it was very—very late in his career, as a condition to become Ronald Reagan‘s running mate. 



CRAWFORD:  They accepted...

MATTHEWS:  Was that—was it that mechanical?

CRAWFORD:  They accepted that, although Bush Sr. always had trouble with evangelical voters.  I mean, I think they also can make a margin of difference for Republicans in general elections...

MATTHEWS:  So, you think a convert...

CRAWFORD:  ... in a tight race.

MATTHEWS:  ... even a political convert, is acceptable...


CRAWFORD:  Because they vote—because they vote on the issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK.

CRAWFORD:  I mean, people who disagree might not vote on the issue. 


CRAWFORD:  But these are voters who do, as Susan pointed out.

MATTHEWS:  Well, clearly, this president, George W. Bush, was able to locate pro-life judges, it seems, in the case of Alito, and maybe in the case of Roberts.  So...


CRAWFORD:  And there‘s a couple more coming.


MATTHEWS:  But President Reagan thought he picked a pro-lifer in Sandra Day O‘Connor, and he picked a pro-choicer. 

CRAWFORD:  And it‘s important to note...

PAGE:  But...


CRAWFORD:  ... that the two oldest justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Smith (sic) are both...


CRAWFORD:  The—the—the Ford appointee, the Ford appointee. 

MATTHEWS:  Stevens.

CRAWFORD:  Stevenson (sic). 

MATTHEWS:  Stevens. 

CRAWFORD:  Are both pro-Roe v. Wade...


CRAWFORD:  ... and the oldest justices, and probably going to retire soon.

MATTHEWS:  And they‘re the most likely to leave the court at some point. 

Anyway, thank you, Craig. 

CRAWFORD:  Mm-hmm. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

This is something we‘re going to be talking about.  It‘s not a pleasant subject, but I think abortion rights is going to be an issue throughout this Republican fight. 

Up next:  Hillary Clinton wants to repeal that authorization from 2002 that Congress gave to the president to invade Iraq.  Is she trying to avoid having to say, “I‘m sorry”?  Well, it may have the better advantage in trying to pull back the authority.  It means something, perhaps.  We will see if the president would honor that withdrawal of authority. 

We‘re going to talk about that with Bill Richardson, who is coming up next, the governor of New Mexico.

And, on Monday, former CIA Director George Tenet is going to be here on HARDBALL with his new book about the lead-up to war in Iraq. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at its fourth straight record high, finishing the day at 13264, after gaining more than 23 points.  The S&P 500 gained more than three.  And the Nasdaq was up more than 6.5 points.

There were reports Microsoft has been talking to Yahoo!, possibly seeking a partnership to compete with search engine leader Google.  But “The Wall Street Journal” reports the talks are no longer active. 

The economy creating a fewer-than-expected 88,000 jobs in April.  That‘s the lowest number in two-and-a-half years.  And, meantime, the nation‘s unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent. 

The AAA reports, the average nationwide price for regular unleaded gasoline shot above $3 a gallon today.  Problems at refineries and high demand are blamed.  But oil prices fell, dropping $1.26 in New York trading, closing at $61.93 cents a barrel. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Well, that was good news. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

While the focus was on the Republican contenders last night in the GOP debate, there was a rumble on the Democratic side.  Senator Hillary Clinton announced her intention to introduce a bill in Congress that would reverse that war authorization bill that the Congress approved, and she voted for, back in October of 2002 that permitted the president to take us to war in Iraq. 

How will this affect her standing among the Democratic contenders? 

Governor Bill Richardson is with us now.  He joins us now from Santa Fe. 

Governor Richardson, you‘re with Hillary on this, right?  Who was first to come out of the gate and say, let‘s just de-authorize what was authorized when we went to war?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I was first.  I did this three months ago. 

I have been saying it continuously, that, instead of having troop withdrawal resolutions, appropriations cuts, we should de-authorize the war.  The war was authorized several years ago on the basis of weapons of mass destruction.  It should be de-authorized on the weapons of mass destruction.  This is clear. 

It should also be based on the constitutional right of the Congress to declare war.


RICHARDSON:  And, most importantly, it would be able to unify the country behind a movement.  That is the right position. 

The difference that I have with Senator Clinton is, she wants to leave 70,000 troops as residual troops.  That‘s nearly half of the force.  I want to see the withdrawal happen by the end of this calendar year, with no residual troops. 

But I‘m glad she came to support my position, which I have been pushing for a while, because I believe that is clear.  It is concise.  This would be a national vote to de-authorize the war.  Instead of these divisions we have about benchmarks and appropriations cuts and timelines, I think this vote would be clear.  And I think it‘s the right move. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think Hillary Clinton, the front-runner, is up to here, cutting the baby in half, saying, we‘re going to be hawkish and be dovish at the same time? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I don‘t know her motivation.  I applaud her move for adopting my position, which I have pointed out is out there.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, Senator Biden doesn‘t applaud you.  Senator Biden put out a press release quoting a column by E.J. Dionne in “The Washington Post” from this past January.  “More intriguing”—quote—

“Biden is studying whether Congress might reconsider the original Iraq war resolution.”

So, he—he has the providence here.  He has the precedent over both of you, according to him. 

RICHARDSON:  Well, maybe so.  I—I don‘t want to get into a discussion of who should get credit.

But I have had this position consistently, because I believe, Chris, we have reached the point where the president‘s not listening.  We have reached the point where this war cannot be resolved militarily. 

There is a political solution.  This war can only be resolved if there‘s national reconciliation, and not a military solution.  So, I believe this course of action, where you not only challenge the president‘s foreign policy moves and his direction in this policy that is not working, but you also challenge his authority to conduct war without the approval of the Congress. 

You de-authorize...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

RICHARDSON:  ... what the Congress approved before on the basis of a false premise. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of the extremely hawkish positions, I think it‘s fair to say, of the Republican candidates last night vis-a-vis Iran? It‘s as if the experience we had in rushing to war, if you will, going to Iraq, and getting involved with the American Army stuck in the middle of Arabia, now the lesson they‘ve learned is, let‘s do it again.  Only this time to a country that‘s more sophisticated, more of a challenge, and certainly more of an enemy. 

I think Senator McCain was very careful in explaining what the situation is, but they all seemed to be quick to say, if this country gets a weapon, we go.

RICHARDSON:  Well, it was very disappointing, obviously.  I believe you have got to talk to Iran.  And I‘m glad the administration is talking to Syria, and delivering a tough message, which should be delivered to Syria to stop allowing foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq. 

That is good.  Now, what I believe, Chris, is that what you saw yesterday in contrast—now I admit I‘m a little biased, but in contrast to the Democrats, who had various points of view, various approaches, there was a little bit of a debate on Iraq, you saw a Republican Party matching in lockstep. 

They all had the same position on Iraq.  They all had virtually the same position on abortion, although I think Giuliani was trying to have it both ways.  So now you are talking about the main lesson, another preemptive effort with Iran to prove how tough they are. 

I mean, this is a party of the past.  It‘s a party of the status quo.  They‘re looking for gasps of freshness, and there isn‘t any.  What struck me was the reference to President Reagan, who was their mantle-bearer.  Well, President Reagan is gone.  His conservatism is gone.  What we have now is a Republican Party full of budget deficits, preemption foreign policy that isn‘t working, a middle class that is straining, and they are still not ready to change.  It was quite a sight. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you beat Rudy Giuliani? 

RICHARDSON:  I believe so, yes.  I believe that.

MATTHEWS:  Because Hillary is losing by 6 points to him in the latest Gallup poll as of yesterday.  I just wonder if you thought you would do better if you got into a match-up with him? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I believe I would.  I have more foreign policy experience.  I have been a governor.  I have created jobs.  I have got—especially in the national security front, not just dealing with other countries, negotiating, getting hostages out, being in North Korea.  Yes, I believe I would beat him. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re bigger than him, aren‘t you? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, yes, I‘m bigger than pretty much everybody. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just kidding.  It‘s Friday night.  Governor Bill Richardson, sir, thank you for coming on HARDBALL the night after the big Republican get-together at the Reagan Library. 

Up next, two weeks, 18 candidates, two debates.  We‘ve gotten our look at both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat now.  So what is the early line?  The Derby is coming up this weekend.  Let‘s talk horse race already for 2008.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, round one is over.  Which Republican and which Democrat looked strongest coming off of their first debates?  HARDBALL returns after this.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe in evolution, but I also believe when I hike the Grand Canyon and see a sunset that the hand of God is there, also. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We continue to dissect last night‘s Republican debate.  Mark Green is president of Air America Radio. 

Thanks for joining us, Mark. 

And Ron Christie is a former Bush-Cheney adviser.  And you also gave some advice to Governor Romney in the run-up to this week.  How did he do? 

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER CHENEY ADVISER:  I think he did a great job last night.  Of all of the candidates on the stage, he looked very presidential.  He looked very comfortable.  And he knew how to handle your questions.

MATTHEWS:  So what was your key advice to him that gave him that sense of self-confidence last night? 

CHRISTIE:  My key sets of advice that I gave the governor was go out, have a good time, be yourself. 

MATTHEWS:  He did smile a lot. 

CHRISTIE:  He did smile a lot.  But he projected his image of what he wanted to do if he was elected president of the United States: lower taxes, line-item veto, very comfortable, very good stage presence. 

MATTHEWS:  Mark Green, give us an assessment of what you—I hope you saw it last night and what did you think of it? 

MARK GREEN, PRESIDENT, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  I saw it.  Other than the fact that Nancy, Arnold, you, and Fred Thompson won the debate, of those who were at the debate, I agree with Ron.  Romney—now I‘m trying to imitate a Republican who is pro-life and values the Bible more than the Constitution.  So here goes.

Romney, as befits being at the Reagan Library and grave, was Reagan-esque.  I thought I was watching GE Theater.  He was fluent.  Comfortable in his own skin.  McCain, I thought was like frantic, antic.  And even when he gave the line that obviously had been rehearsed, which is legal, we are going to follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, he had this weird smile as if it was—he was on autopilot and rehearsed. 

Finally, Rudy Giuliani, whose theme, it‘s effective so far, is we have got to stay on the offense, was on the defense on choice, for example, because he‘s in the wrong party on social issues and it‘s hard for him to walk that tightrope. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you think—but he did in the end—Mark, in the defense of Rudy Giuliani, he did say after a lot of back and forth, I believe it is up to the woman.  It is her choice, not the government‘s.  He did say that in the end.  I agree with you. 

Why did it take so long to get there when he must have known—well, maybe he thought that one round of questions when we asked him—or I asked would the day that Roe V. Wade is repealed be a good day for America?  He may have thought that would be the last time. 

Of course we are going to go back at him on that one, and certainly John Harris from Politico did. 

GREEN:  When he said it‘s up to the woman‘s choice, my wife cheered, because she didn‘t have to imitate being a conservative Republican, as I had to.  But, Chris, you cornered Giuliani twice, and eventually he said on Roe V. Wade, well, it‘s OK either way. 

This is a guy whose credentials are supposed to be strong and decisive.  And then you said, well, what about public funding for the indigent for abortions?  And he wouldn‘t answer.  He said, well, it‘s up to the states and judges.  This is Mr. Tough? 

And then finally, you said, OK, when you were in New York, what did you do?  And he had to admit he favored taxpayer money for abortions, a position I share along with 1 percent of the Republican base.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know it.  It is a challenge, Ron.  He‘s going to have to defend that from here to the gates of Hell, as... 


MATTHEWS:  By the way, that is Rodin bronze.  I remember seeing it somewhere.  I think it‘s a pretty Miltonian way to start talking, the gates of Hell, Jesus. 

CHRISTIE:  It‘s pretty hardcore.  Look, I‘m going to follow the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment, which is not to, of course, speak ill of another Republican.  But I think of the top three candidates that we saw last night, perhaps Giuliani has had the sound bite that is going to dog him for the rest of the campaign. 

If you have been consistently been hit for being pro-choice or pro-waffle, Chris, how can you, if you‘re Mayor Giuliani, come out with that response of saying, it‘s OK to go back to the states?

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s—we were tough on McCain.  I want to throw him a little bit of cheerfulness.  When we asked him, do you—John Harris of Politico said, do you believe in evolution?  A nice question of cultural values and history and what you really believe in, he quickly said, yes, I believe in evolution. 

He threw in that sunshine about—we all share about the wonder of the universe and God, the divine nature of the most wonderful thing this planet is, but he was clear.  And three other guys raised their hand and said they don‘t believe in evolution. 

I think, Mark, you would agree, and once again, somebody singled themselves out by being with you on an issue. 

GREEN:  Well, it is kind of amazing.  Chris, you wouldn‘t—I don‘t know the equivalent question you would ask Democrats to do you believe in evolution.  Like, do you believe in inhaling oxygen? 

In other words, we have a party—the Republican Party that doesn‘t only want to go back to Reagan in 1980, there‘s an argument for that, I guess.  They want to go back to McKinley.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I know what my favorite question would be, name one government agency you‘re willing to get rid of?  One government program you‘re willing to get rid of?  One tax you‘re willing to cut?  Those are tough ones for Democrats. 

CHRISTIE:  Or, Chris, why they don‘t support the partial-birth abortion ban.

MATTHEWS:   OK.  Well, anyway, thanks for coming on.  Mark Green, thank you—you‘re coming back, and also Ron Christie is coming back. 

And on Monday, former CIA Director George Tenet is going to be on this show.  That is Monday.  You are watching HARDBALL, only MSNBC.   


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The setting for last night‘s Republican debate at the Reagan Library was just below Air Force One.  The actually plane that was used by President Reagan and other presidents, including his predecessor, Jimmy Carter. 

Duke Blackwood, the executive director of the Reagan Library, took me for a tour onboard the Air Force One up there and it brought back some memories of my youth as a speechwriter. 



LIBRARY:  Well, you may know that seven presidents actually flew on this plane and obviously Ronald Reagan flew on it the most, all eight years.  But didn‘t you fly on it? 

MATTHEWS:  I flew on it.  We were with the earlier team, the Carter team.  And I have to tell you, Duke, let me just demonstrate a little bit of my personal connection with history and Reagan history.  The night before Ronald Reagan was elected president, of course, Jimmy Carter was president.  I was one of his speechwriters, a young fellow at the time.

And I was sitting in this chair.  And beginning early in the evening, when we were heading into Seattle for the last stop, we were getting phone calls from Pat Cadell on this phone.  And Pat Cadell kept calling up saying, I want to talk to Jody Powell.

Now Jody Powell was going to be sitting in that seat, but Rick Hertzberg, the chief speechwriter, and I was a speechwriter, were sitting there.  And we were having a great time.  There was always fruit here, candy.  We had steaks.  The food—living on Air Force One is pretty cool.

BLACKWOOD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Every hour or so we would get a call from Cadell insistently wanting to talk to Jody.  Finally he got to Jody about 2:00 in the morning, East Coast time.  And we are heading back to Washington for President Carter to vote, and the news was bad. 

Cadell had been polling.  His polls had the president even with Ronald Reagan right through Sunday, because we could not get the hostages back, and the parliament—the Iranian parliament—the mullahs had voted and said, we are not going to let the hostages out without new conditions.  We knew it was very frustrating for the voters, but the numbers just dropped.

And it looked like Carter was going to lose by 10 points, which he did.  So finally, the word got to the president.  The president was told that Pat Cadell was on the phone with Jody Powell.  And he asked to get—take the call himself, which he did. 

I was not in the room.  I was up front here. 

BLACKWOOD:  But it was on the plane? 

MATTHEWS:  On the plane he got the word that he was going to lose the presidency by 10 points, pretty bad news to get.  And we were told sitting back here at 2:00 in the morning to begin writing a speech for Carter to use when he arrived in Plains, Georgia to conciliate the country, realizing that he is going to lose, but to try to calm people down and take some of the anger and edge over the hostage crisis away. 

But you know, it is amazing to be here.  I was—I have a great picture somewhere of the president standing here.  In fact, that night before he got the bad news, the president was sitting over there, we are having drinks, and the first time he ever came back for a drink and kidded around with us. 

And we have brought all of the press forward.  And I was always worried because the press was taking notes and Jody had said—Jody Powell had said, this is off the record.  But everybody there, Judy Woodruff, Sam Donaldson, all of the big—Helen Thomas, were all taking notes.

I said, Jody, they are all taking notes.  I think Jody knew by then the bad news.  And he wasn‘t going to argue about who was taking notes. 

You know, I am glad you guys—I‘m glad that you kept this electric too—typewriter.  Because kids today wouldn‘t know what that looked like.  What is that thing?  Well, that is a typewriter.  And it had a correction mode on it.  You could correct yourself with the little thing that whited it out. 

But basically you were knocking out cards, typing them on the card, you know, not with some printer somewhere.  You were typing the cards and knocking out what we called, you know, talking points for the president at the next stop.  And then handing him the cards, no electronics at all.  You typed it and gave it to him. 

There was nothing as thrilling.  And this has nothing to do with partisan politics.  I was a young guy at the time.  Nothing is as exciting as knocking out a speech on an old typewriter like that, as the plane takes off at 45 degrees.  Well, I would be sitting there typing at like a 45-degree angle for Carter‘s next speech, I will tell you, there is no more exciting job than being a White House speechwriter.  I loved it, even though we lost the election and Reagan took over, I will tell you, it was fascinating. 

This used to be the place where we would campaign late at night, like

we did five stops in Texas the Saturday before the election.  I remember

Jody Powell bunking down here somewhere.  He had his pillow on his head at

one point.  Everybody just sort of found a place to sleep because we would

you did like five stops, as I said.

Then we did Milwaukee that night.  And then we did a Carter event—I mean, a Chicago event.  And then Marty Russo, the congressman—local congressman, got Carter to go to an Italian-Americans dinner on top of everything.  He did seven speeches in one day.  It was quite a day. 

This might have been—yes, I think this was pretty much like it was. 

BLACKWOOD:  Well, see, if you look here, that is the only seat with the presidential seal on it   So that was the president‘s seat, so.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  That is where he was.  Yes. 



MATTHEWS:  Ah, the old days.  Thank you very much, Ron Christie and Mark Green.  You can watch a re-broadcast of the Republican presidential debate this weekend at 3:00 Eastern on Saturday and at noon Eastern on Sunday. 

And on Monday, former CIA Director George Tenet is coming to HARDBALL. 

Right now, it‘s time for “TUCKER.” 



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