updated 5/15/2007 11:42:56 AM ET 2007-05-15T15:42:56

Guests: Peter Fenn, Richard Land, Joe Solmonese

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.

The terrible rhythm of bad news from Iraq continued over the weekend. 

And, today, as a U.S. patrol was ambushed outside Baghdad, five men were found dead.  Three remain missing, after an attack claimed by al Qaeda. 

The American military has now launched an intense search, with over 4,000 people involved, for missing soldiers. 

Against that backdrop, American politicians took to the airwaves and the campaign trail, presenting themselves to the voting public nearly desperate for good news for some sign that the country can correct its course.

Mitt Romney went on “60 Minutes.”  John McCain, accompanied by his mother, went on “Meet the Press.”  Barack Obama was on ABC.  Bill Clinton on YouTube in the name of his wife. 

But making perhaps the most important noise were candidates not yet in this race for president.  Chuck Hagel faced the nation and criticized the war effort, strongly hinting that he has a third-party run in mind.  Newt Gingrich said that it is—quote—“very possible” that he will enter the race. 

And, most intriguing of all, Fred Thompson addressed a gathering of Republicans from which the national media were excluded.  Mr. Thompson is most famous—he may be the most famous candidate in the race, at least to TV viewers, but almost nothing is known about him politically.  In his speech, he is said to have outlined his vision for his run for national office.

What exactly did he say? 

Well, joining me now is a man who introduced Fred Thompson at that speech.  He is Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  He‘s also author of “The Divided States of America: What Liberals and Conservatives Are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match.”

Dr. Land, thanks for coming on. 

RICHARD LAND, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION ETHICS AND

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION:  Hey, Tucker.  How are you?

CARLSON:  I‘m great.

I‘m confused about Fred Thompson.  I think he is an appealing person. 

I‘m not sure if he‘s conservative.  What is your assessment?

LAND:  Oh, there‘s no question he‘s a conservative.  He was my senator for eight years.  He was a conservative then.  He‘s even more conservative now.

He got a zero rating from the ACLU.  He got an F from the National Abortion Rights Action League.  And I like those numbers. 

CARLSON:  In 1994, as he ran for Senate the first time, he filled out a voter position card from a group called Project Vote Smart.

And here is what he said about abortion.  He checked the box saying, abortion should—quote—“be legal in all circumstances, as long as that procedure is completed within the first trimester of gestation.” 

That‘s a pro-choice position.  Does it bother you? 

LAND:  It would bother me, if that were still his position. 

But it‘s not his position.  And it‘s not the way he voted in the Senate.  And it‘s not the way he‘s articulated the position since he has left office.  He‘s made it very clear that he believes that Roe v. Wade was a horrible decision and needs to be overturned.  And he is a pro-life person, and even more so now that he has two young children.

He‘s said on the record—he‘s, you know, I—this issue is personal for me now.  I have seen the sonograms of my two young children. 

CARLSON:  Why not Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback?  They are two lifelong conservatives, both evangelicals, or at least sympathetic to the evangelical agenda, running for president as Republicans.  And, yet, they are being pretty much ignored by a lot of conservative and evangelical activists. 

Why aren‘t you happy with them?

LAND:  Well, I am happy with them.  You know, I don‘t endorse candidates.  And I‘m not endorsing Fred Thompson.

I think what intrigues a lot of conservatives about Thompson is that, not only is he a conservative, but he has shown a degree of electability that, so far, Brownback and Mike Huckabee haven‘t shown. 

And one of the things, if you want to be a conservative president, is, you have to get elected.  And I think Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee would make fine presidents.  They have just have to convince the American people, and a majority of the American people, that—that they would make good president.

Fred Thompson is not even in the race yet, and he is already showing up at 13 percent, having leapfrogged all of the candidates, except Giuliani and McCain.

CARLSON:  Right. 

LAND:  And that gets the attention of conservatives, especially when they look down the horizon and see the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Well, there‘s clearly a hunger for someone other than the announced candidates.  There‘s no question about that.

If you are a Republican primary voter, and you‘re predisposed to like Fred Thompson, but you don‘t know a lot of about him, and you want him to be a conservative, tell me one thing he said at the speech on Saturday night that might convince that he is in fact your guy. 

LAND:  Well, I can‘t do that.  That was an off-the-record speech.  And I would be violating the rules, and they wouldn‘t let me come back.

But I have talked with Fred personally.  And that‘s within the rules that I can talk to you.  And he‘s made it very clear that he is pro-life.  He‘s made it very clear that he wants strict constructionist, original-intent jurists.  He‘s a quite accomplished lawyer. 

He knows what he‘s talking about when he‘s talking about the law.  He was the shepherd who shepherded Roberts and Alito through their hearings.  He‘s strongly committed to the type of Supreme Court justice that Alito and Roberts are.  He‘s a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, to the right to keep and bear arms.  And he‘s a strong opponent of gay marriage. 

CARLSON:  Well, he also—let‘s be honest—looks the part.  Don‘t you think that‘s part of the appeal?  I mean, if Fred Thompson were 5‘3“ and had curly red hair and think glasses and a speech impediment, do you really think he would be taken as seriously by conservatives as he is now?  No.

LAND:  Well, I think the sad truth is, he would not be taken as seriously by anybody if he fit that description. 

But Fred Thompson is 6‘6“.  He looks Lincolnesque.  He has charisma, and he has gravitas.  And he‘s—that‘s a tremendously potent combination. 

CARLSON:  Are you concerned that conservatives, conservative evangelicals, threw their support behind George W. Bush very early, in 1999, really?  I watched it happen.  And he turned out to be maybe not the most articulate spokesman for their issues and maybe not the most effective president, from their point of view.

Are you—and I think he sold them out completely—are you concerned that Christian voters will sort of throw away their votes early in this process, without demanding more? 

LAND:  Well, I think Christian conservative voters, both Catholic and evangelical, are going to be very discerning, and they‘re going to do their best to get the best combination they can get of someone who shares their belief system and shares their world view, and is also electable.

And I don‘t think George W. Bush has sold out conservatives.  He has given us two of the best Supreme Court justices in the last half-century. 

And we just saw the first payback on that in the partial-birth abortion

December .

CARLSON:  Right. 

Well, we will see.  I mean, I remember vividly when other Republican nominees to the court were considered conservative.  They turned out to be liberal. 

Very quickly, do you think Thompson is going to actually run?  Do you have any insight into that?

LAND:  I can only give you my intuition.  I think he is probably going to run.  I think he is—he‘s—now, this is not based on anything I—any conversations I have had with him.  It‘s just based on my intuition from watching him and listening to him.

I think he is going to run, if he‘s convinced he can have a serious conversation with the American people about substantive issues as part of the campaign process. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I bet he will. 

Richard Land, thanks a lot.  I appreciate it.

LAND:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney used “60 Minutes” to introduce himself to the Sunday night audience.  How did he fare with Mike Wallace, and will the result be an actual and viable run for president?  We will tell you in a minute.

Plus:  Bill Clinton weighs in on YouTube to endorse guess who?  That‘s right.  The first ex-president ever to campaign for his wife takes his first stab at viral campaigning.  We have the analysis.

This is MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Ten candidates, eight months until the first primary, and no heir apparent to the White House that George W. Bush built.  What is the GOP going to do with this bunch of candidates, as Republicans across the country appear to be ready to reject them all?

We will tell you.  We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Ten men are running for the Republican nomination for president.  We don‘t have time for the entire list.  The show is not long enough, but we will tell you this.  They include senators, governors, and mayors.  

So far, polls show, though, the GOP are disappointed with the current field.  Are they waiting for Chuck Hagel, Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, maybe even New York billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg?  And do religious conservatives still define the Republican base, or have six years of President George W. Bush sent his party in a very different direction?

Joining us now with answers, Democratic strategist, MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen, and Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘”s pundits blog Peter Fenn. 

Welcome to you both.

HILARY ROSEN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hey, Tucker.

(CROSSTALK) 

CARLSON:  The desperation is kind of sad, if you watch the Republican base, such as it is, the dispirited group known as the base...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  ... casting about.  They have got 10 guys running for president, all the way from Rudy Giuliani to Ron Paul.  OK?

ROSEN:  Right.  Right. 

CARLSON:  So, that‘s like the gamut.  And they are still not satisfied.  And they want Fred Thompson. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I think Fred Thompson, it seems, is a great guy, but what do we know about Fred Thompson? 

ROSEN:  And nine out of 10 of those candidates are avidly pro-life...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROSEN:  ... and would walk lockstep with that position.  So, I‘m not sure what the social conservatives are really looking for. 

CARLSON:  I‘m a little bit confused, especially since I think of Fred Thompson as a McCain clone.  Clone is too strong.  It‘s unfair.  But I think of him as a McCain-like politician.  If you don‘t like McCain, why are you going to like Fred Thompson, exactly?

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  It‘s a case, I think, Tucker, of the person who is not out there getting the most attention. 

Those 10 country-club-looking Republicans standing there, agreeing with each other on most things, and, yet, they have also got pasts which are a little funky. 

Now, Fred Thompson, who everybody keeps describing in articles lately as a pro-choice, always pro-choice, Republican, of course, filled out the Vote Smart questionnaire in his first race for the Senate...

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  ... admittedly a number of years ago, saying—checking the pro-choice... 

CARLSON:  Thirteen years ago, yes.

FENN:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  Well, look, -- I mean, look—look at the facts.  You have got—the two front-runners are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.  A majority of the Republican base is not happy that Giuliani is too socially conservative.  And John McCain is not one of theirs.  Even though he has got a conservative record, they don‘t trust him.  And he doesn‘t kowtow to the conservative wing of the party, the way others do.

So, they‘re—when you look at it,  they‘re—no one else is catching on.  And Fred Thompson, you know, look, he is an actor.  He can be whatever you want them to be. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a little bit ridiculous, though.  McCain is conservative.  I mean, he is conservative.

ROSEN:  He is a conservative.

CARLSON:  Well, I think it‘s a matter of personality.

So, you have 19 or 20, depends whether you count John Cox, running for the Republican nomination, or not.  Didn‘t make it into the debate.  Good guy.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  But you have got a ton of people running for president.  Do we really need a third party? 

Well, Chuck Hagel on CBS this weekend suggested, maybe we do.  Maybe he and Michael Bloomberg are the team.  He almost came out and said it.

Here he is, Chuck Hagel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS:  Let me just ask you this.  Could you see a ticket that had Mayor Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel, in no particular order there, but those two names on the same ticket?  Would that be—can you see something like that? 

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA:  It‘s a great country to think about a New York boy and Nebraska boy to be teamed up leading this nation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  It‘s amazing.  It‘s amazing. 

FENN:  Whoa.

CARLSON:  He‘s not—I mean, the correct—or the stock answer, anyway, is, well, I don‘t know.  That‘s a long way off.

He says, yes, actually, that is not a bad idea. 

ROSEN:  Well, the poll in the Republican primary is not for a Hagel-Bloomberg candidacy. 

CARLSON:  No.

ROSEN:  They‘re not...

CARLSON:  But he‘s talking a third-party run.

ROSEN:  They‘re looking—right.

So, you have got to say, where are people going to come from to go to a Bloomberg-Hagel...

CARLSON:  Yes, exactly.

ROSEN:  And it‘s discouraging, but I think they are coming from independents and conservatives Democrats. 

CARLSON:  There‘s no doubt.

ROSEN:  Because these guys are not who the Republican—unhappy Republican base are looking for. 

CARLSON:  No, this is a big bad problem, if it happened.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  This guy—Bloomberg can self-finance.

FENN:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  They don‘t need to raise a dime. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... spend a billion dollars on it.

FENN:  That is the key.  That is the key point, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

And I think Hillary is absolutely right.  In the same way that Ross Perot took from Republicans—I know Democrats pretend that is not true, but it is true—these guys would take from Democrats. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Yes, I think that‘s absolutely right.  Ross Perot, luckily for the Democrats, took more from the Republicans. 

But he got 19 percent of the vote...

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  ... after he flaked out. 

Now, this kind of ticket could be very attractive to a lot of independents.  If folks get disenchanted with the nominees of both parties, if things get ugly, especially early in the year, these two could actually mount a serious campaign.

CARLSON:  Sure.

If it‘s Hillary—think of it.  It‘s Hillary and McCain, right?  And I think that‘s the most likely scenario, still.

FENN:  Right.  Right. 

CARLSON:  If it‘s Hillary and McCain, you have Hillary, who has these temperamental issues that people are uncomfortable with.  McCain is just wrong on war, according to most independents, right?

So, you have an anti-war, appealing candidate in Chuck Hagel, and you have the guy to pay for it in Michael Bloomberg.  I think—I think that sinks Hillary.

ROSEN:  Well, I have to say I think that Hillary, in some respects—all Democrats would be in trouble, I think, with an independent party, because, really, what you‘re looking for when you are challenging the status quo is, you are looking for the momentum.  Democrats have the momentum.

CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  Third-party candidate steals momentum.

FENN:  And change, right.

ROSEN:  But Hillary at least has women.  And what we have seen is that they‘re—they‘re—you can get a surge of—of women and a majority of women there.

So, maybe, of all of the Democratic candidates, Hillary would be the least damaged by a third-party candidate... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes, I—maybe.  I don‘t know.  I think Democrats are running as the insurgent party now.  They are giving the finger to the man.  They are the anti-establishment candidates.

And, if you have a third party, by definition anti-establishment, I think it hurts...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Well, and they are—the independents rights now are very, very much leaning Democratic.

CARLSON:  Well, of course they are.

FENN:  They are very anti-Bush.  And those numbers, I think, are going to hold into next year.  So...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney, who I have—I have pretty blithely written off from—since day one on “60 Minutes” this weekend, and I just want to show you a quick exchange between him and Mike Wallace.  And I think it actually says something good about Mitt Romney.

Watch this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “60 MINUTES”)

MIKE WALLACE, CBS:  Some critics say about you that you‘re a poster child for what they call chameleon politics, that you lack core beliefs, that you will do whatever it takes to get elected.  What about it?

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, if you look at anybody who‘s a political statesman, they had better learn how to change their mind when they realize they‘re wrong.

I don‘t—I don‘t criticize Senator McCain for saying he voted against the Bush tax cuts, now saying he‘s for the Bush tax cuts.  He made the change that I respect.  Mayor Giuliani has made some pretty significant changes as well with regards to abortion and funding of abortion and gun laws and so forth.

But you know what?  That‘s learning from experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Boy, I have to say, I think this is—I mean, I made fun of Mitt Romney more harshly than anybody since day one.  But I think that‘s a pretty good answer.  It‘s like, you know what?  I changed my mind.

I don‘t know.  Maybe he‘s not someone you can dismiss out of hand.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  The key, the key, the key, the key to politicians changing their mind is authenticity. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  If people believe that you have really had a change in heart...

CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  ... they will buy it.  If they believe that you‘re doing it for electoral convenience, they won‘t buy it. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I came a lot closer to buying that than anything else I have heard him say.

FENN:  Oh, but come on.

I mean, Tucker, here‘s a guy who, instead of saying to the American people, you know, I was governor of Massachusetts, and, you know, as governor, that‘s a very liberal state, and I may have grown up with a concern about abortion, and—but, you know, actually...

CARLSON:  Well, he is not going to say that.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  No, of course he‘s not, because he is not going to be honest. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  My whole point is, look, he said he was more liberal on gay rights than Ted Kennedy.

CARLSON:  Oh, I‘m fully aware.  And trust me...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  He said that he‘s for the Brady bill.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I get the whole thing.

FENN:  I know.  You get all of it.

CARLSON:  The litany has been explained on this show more than any other show.

FENN:  I know.

ROSEN:  You‘re saying you believe this?

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying this—like Giuliani, both of them are finally getting real, I think.

Giuliani is like, actually, you know what?  I give up on pro-choice. 

OK, you caught me.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  And Romney is saying, OK, I changed my mind.  You‘re absolutely right.  I have changed my mind.  And it‘s heartfelt.

I think that‘s the best he can do.  He didn‘t even blink when he said it.  And I thought he did a pretty good job.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  But Hillary is right.  That—look, he‘s a great actor.  Look, he is Eddie Haskell. 

(LAUGHTER)

FENN:  This guy is frigging Eddie Haskell from “Leave It to Beaver.”

CARLSON:  Yes, maybe.

FENN:  You look so nice, Mrs. Cleaver. 

I mean, he makes you believe that he knows something.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I mean, I have never believed him before.

FENN:  I don‘t believe it for a second.  He was always...

CARLSON:  I believed him now.  OK.  Of course he changed his mind. 

But it‘s like, what are you going to say?

FENN:  He didn‘t change his mind. 

He...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I got it.  I got it. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  This is the key.  The key here is...

CARLSON:  OK.  Hold on.  I‘m being told we have got to go.

ROSEN:  ... do people believe him?  And, obviously, since the conservatives are looking for somebody else, the right wing of the party...

FENN:  Maybe they don‘t believe him.

ROSEN:  ... doesn‘t necessarily believe him. 

CARLSON:  They clearly don‘t believe him.  I‘m a right winger, and I don‘t believe him.  I just think—I don‘t know—signs of improvement are worth pointing out.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  That‘s my only point.  I try to be fair.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It‘s a fine line between guts and stupidity.  What did Barack Obama say about foreign carmakers in the buckle of the Rust Belt?  Will it hurt him?

And, like everyone ever, Hillary Clinton‘s greatest strength is probably her greatest weakness.  In her case, he‘s on YouTube, promoting her run for president.  We will break down his performance and its effect.

You‘re watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for the Obameter.  The junior senator from Illinois has been talking tough lately.  Last week Barack Obama went to Detroit and told the auto industry to get its act together.  The mayor of the Motor City was not impressed.  He said Obama needs to, quote, work on that message.

Over the weekend, Obama also took a swipe at President Bush‘s taste for verbal bravado.  A student of the Chicago school of politics, Obama says he wants voters to know he is not afraid to mix things up, but is he picking the right fights?  Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen joins us, as does Democratic strategist and a contributor to the “Hill‘s” pundits blog, Peter Fenn.  Welcome to you both. 

Listen to what Barack Obama says.  This is Obama criticizing American car makers in a speech in Detroit.  Watch. 

I‘m going to read it: “for years while foreign auto makers were investing in more fuel technology for their vehicles,” he said, “American auto makers are spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars.”  Ooh, macho, bad.  “Whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that would have saved their industries.” 

I ask you, Peter, his assumption appears to be that unless the federal government mandates a certain fuel economy for cars, the auto makers are too dumb to do it themselves.  He believes, in other words, that government mandate into the free market is the most efficient way to get industry to succeed?  That‘s ridiculous.

FENN:  He‘s talking about CAFE Standards and what that has shown over the years is not to have worked well.  Basically what we have to do is do a better job of making more fuel efficient vehicles, and controlling emission.  But the best way to do that is, as General Motors, who I happen to work for—they make more cars that get over 30 miles per gallon than any other car maker.  And he went after the car makers using some funny statistics about what—some aren‘t even cars, really, but what Japanese folks did in Japan. 

He didn‘t talk about the Tundra that gets 14 miles per gallon that‘s built here.  The problem is that the perception is that the foreign car companies are better than American car companies because of the Prius.  And there is catching up that‘s being done.  But, you know, the way this is going to work, Tucker, is to into more alternative fuels, like electric plug-in cars --  

CARLSON:  And there are many, but the macro question is why—Bush came out today and said he thinks it‘s the federal government‘s role to set fuel standards for auto makers.  OK, so I disagree with him too.  Why is it the federal government‘s job to tell a private business what fuel standards its cars should live up to. 

ROSEN:  I would even take this discussion one step higher, which is everybody‘s been waiting for Barack‘s big moment, and he chooses it this way.  And I think that‘s the interesting thing this week, is that he decided—he didn‘t really talk about alternative energy plans.  He didn‘t really get into what he would do as president to make things different.  What he did—he sort of went in and picked a fight. 

He kind of did the very thing that he sort of talked about not doing in the early parts of this campaign, which he‘s not going to do politics as usual.   

CARLSON:  Was he trying to show that he is tough and vigorous?  Because he also came out in an interview this week and said, you know, I‘m from Chicago.  We know how to throw a punch.  We‘re tougher than you are, basically.  This is a response to the debate in South Carolina, where he was kind of caught unable to answer vigorously the question, what would you do after a terror attack?  He‘s trying to act tough.  That‘s the point, isn‘t it?

ROSEN:  Well, I think he is trying to act tough, but I think he is actually to find—get news and put himself out there as being for some things and being willing to mix it up.  But the problem is, what people want to hear from him is how would he do things differently?  What is wrong with the things that Hillary Clinton is saying, or that John Edwards are saying, or that other Democrats are saying?  And how would he lead? 

CARLSON:  Also, of all the people you could attack, the North Koreans, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, you pick on U.S. employers and car companies?  What the hell are you doing? 

FENN:  That‘s right.  The key is how do you solve a problem.  And he tried to put some things in there to deal with health care costs and stuff.  But basically what we need to do in this country is push ahead on the kinds of technologies that the car companies are working on, like hydrogen fuel cells.  If this vote works, and I think it‘s going to, you‘re going to get 40 miles with a plug-in.  That‘s 75 percent of American‘s commutes will be taken care of without a gallon of gas being used.

CARLSON:  On that brave new world note, we are on to the new thing.  Our scariest guy takes on the scariest guy in the Middle East in a war of wards.  Is that any way for Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to behave as the U.S. and Iran prepare to talk for the first time in a generation? 

Plus, Bill Clinton makes Youtube the good news and the bad news.  He did it on purpose.  We have the Clinton‘s digital debut for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  It was only a matter of time before the Clinton‘s campaign went digital, and so it has.  Potential first gentlemen Bill Clinton has arrived on the video posting websites.  Besides offering every late night comedian an all time great set up, Mr. Clinton spent about four minutes before a video camera extolling his candidate wife‘s virtues.  His strengths and weaknesses are well known, so will Bill Clinton online, will his testimony pay electrical dividends for his wife? 

Joining us once again, MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  OK, I know you two are both Democrats.  You‘re probably on the fence a little bit about Hillary Clinton.  You don‘t know what to think.  Bill Clinton tells us what to think.  He opens his video by saying there are a few things you may not know about Hillary.  And I want to show you one of them.  This is something I didn‘t know about Hillary, and I thought I knew a lot.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  She joined the board of the Arkansas Children‘s Hospital as its honorary chair.  By the time we left Arkansas, it was the seventh biggest children‘s hospital in the entire country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Peter, this is the moment where things change.  We are going to look back and we‘re going to say, when did the campaign turn in her favor, when we learned that she was the honorary chair of the seventh biggest --  

ROSEN:  Of all the things in that video, that‘s what you picked.

CARLSON:  How pathetic is that?  That‘s pathetic.

FENN:  You picked out the smallest thing. 

CARLSON:  It‘s only four minutes long. 

FENN:  Let me tell you what this is all about—

CARLSON:  But what do you think of that?  Does that change your mind? 

She was the honorary chair.

FENN:  Talked about the Children‘s Defense Fund.  He talked about how she worked on the House Judiciary Committee.  Look, let me make this one point.  In 1992, the Clinton campaign discovered in polling and focus groups in the spring that folks thought that Bill Clinton was a rich kid, was a spoiled rich kid.  They had no clue who Bill Clinton was.  They made him the Man from Hope, which was, by the way, originally 20 minutes, which they aired at the convention.  Never again since have we seen a video at the convention.

But this one, I looked at it and I said, first of all, Bill Clinton, who narrated the Man from Hope—same kind of video.  What is this woman really all about?  Where did she come from. 

ROSEN:  It was more important than that.  Several people on the Clinton team really believe is that in some respects, Hillary Clinton has become caricaturized as a person and that people really don‘t know enough about her.  They have seen her as a successful, aggressive senator, or as an aggressive first lady.  And what this video did, in their minds, is try to backtrack and say, you know what she did after college, when a lot of her friends out of Yale were going and getting big fancy rich jobs, she went and took a low paying job at the Children‘s Defense Fund. 

CARLSON:  If you‘re Bill Richardson.  Let‘s say you‘re Bill Richardson.

ROSEN:  So that‘s what it is, and I think you‘ll see this from the Clinton campaign between now and the general election.  Which is who is she and what brought her to where she is.

CARLSON:  That‘s a fair question, and I think she‘s been a better senator than some.  But I‘m saying, prior to that, when she was a president‘s wife and then before then, if you‘re Bill Richardson and you‘ve been the secretary of energy, and a genuinely successful governor and a member of Congress and your own sort of personal secretary of state.  You have this kind of amazing career behind you, and you hear in a four minute video all they can scrape together is she was the honorary chair of some hospital, the seventh largest children‘s hospital in the country, I mean, it does kind of point up the relative, relative to Biden, relative to Chris Dodd. 

ROSEN:  I think it was a different—

CARLSON:  Lack of experience.

ROSEN:  You can say there‘s lack of experience.  But I think the goal here—and by the way, Bill Richardson can have his own video and will likely have one very soon, I‘m sure.  But I think what they are trying to do here is not do the resume of talent and smarts.  When you ask people, nobody doubts that Hillary Clinton is smart and very few people question her experience on the national stage. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I do.

ROSEN:  What people do question though is where does she come from, what does she believe.  And that‘s where I think they feel more misunderstood. 

CARLSON:  Then let‘s listen to Bill Clinton explain again his wife.  Here is another clip.  This is Hillary, the face of America.  This is fascinating, actually.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  She went to 82 other countries representing the United States.  Hillary is heavily respected all around the world and that is so important at a time when we need to stop making enemies and start making allies again.  In my first term, Hillary, in effect, was the face of America in Africa, in India.   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  She was the face of America?  So she‘s huge in Zaire and Bangalore?  I mean, honestly, there‘s something insulting about this.  The secretary of state and the president are the faces of America.  This is the president‘s wife.  I mean, I think she is smart enough to be president.  I think she is certainly hard working enough, more hard working than our current president, I would argue. 

However, this is resume inflation at its most insulting.  She‘s the face of America?  I mean, come on. 

FENN:  Look, this is called a political video for a reason. 

CARLSON:  But it has to be real.  That‘s a huge claim.  You‘re the face of America? 

FENN:  She‘s one of the faces of America.  She represented the country.  She got a tremendous amount of publicity when she went to countries, because she was the first lady.  Look, I see nothing wrong with this video at all. 

CARLSON:  Is Laura Bush the face of America?

(CROSS TALK)

ROSEN:  People do see the first couple as symbolic of America and what I think they are saying here is, you know, when she went out there, she made a pretty darn good impression around the world. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Here‘s my bottom line complaining, I thought they could do better.  You have got four minuets of one of the most talented speakers in a generation, Bill Clinton.  You‘ve got the most talented ad makers in the world.  You‘ve got all the money you need.  And the best you can do is she was honorary chair of a children‘s hospital in the southeast and that she went to other countries? 

FENN:  I think everybody should watch the whole four minutes.

CARLSON:  I watched the whole four minutes.

FENN:  I know you did.  But I‘m just saying—

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  They spent two and a half minutes on her Senate career and what she‘s done in the Senate. 

CARLSON:  Which is fair, good for them.

ROSEN:  So there were plenty of accomplishments, and there was substantive talks of what she‘s done since in the Senate.  Look, everything she does is going to be highlighted and Bill Clinton is the greatest salesman in the world.  And if you have him, use him.  And that‘s what they‘re going to do. 

CARLSON:  I just thought the product would be better.  I guess I‘m easily disappointed.  Speaker of bad weeks, Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, good guy, smart guy, conservative guy, at the debates at the Reagan Library a week and a half ago is asked, should an employer have the right to fire an employee for being gay.  And he says or appears to say yes.  He‘s asked about this later and he says no, I don‘t think that at all.  I misspoke and here‘s why, and I‘m quoting now, “I was very sick the day of the debate.  I had all the problems with the flu and bronchitis that you have, including running to the bathroom.  I was just hanging on.  I could not wait until the debate got off so I could go to the bathroom.”

He also pointed out that his hearing aid was low on batteries.  So here you have a candidate saying that his intestinal distress caused him to answer the question wrong and (INAUDIBLE) batteries.  I can‘t imagine a more embarrassing answer than that. 

FENN:  It is pretty embarrassing.  And unfortunately for Tommy Thompson, I‘m not sure—or fortunately, whichever, I don‘t think it is going to make any difference in his candidacy because I don‘t think it is going anywhere. 

CARLSON:  Of course, not.  He is not likely to be the nominee.  But he is this guy who was a dignified person who has had this genuinely impressive record.  Why the hell are you.

ROSEN:  I also.

CARLSON:  Why don‘t one of you run for president?

ROSEN:  I saw something else, because I actually saw a guy who has had a fairly moderate record on social issues, who was standing up there and whether—it is not that I don‘t believe his response, his backtracking now, it is that I am skeptical.  Because his answer was quite specific.

The question was, should businesses be able to fire people if they are gay.  And what he says, well, I think these things should be left up to individual businesses to decide.  That is not, I can‘t hear you.

CARLSON:  So that is, I have to go to the bathroom wicked bad. 

ROSEN:  I have to go to the bathroom.

(LAUGHTER)

ROSEN:  Right.  So I think that that was emblematic of, all right, we have a slew of social conservatives on the stage.  We are in the Ronald Reagan Library.  How I do wand pander?  And then, oh my God, the next day he discovered he actually pandered. 

FENN:  It is really, I wish I were in the bathroom when you asked the question.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  The bathroom is not a very effective excuse. 

CARLSON:  Then it is not very—it is not an effective pander then. 

If you say it, and in the next day you say, I forgot my (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  And then retract it.  I think he was embarrassed.

FENN:  OK.  OK. 

CARLSON:  I‘m wondering—I‘m waiting.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  . Peter, for the chorus of hallelujahs from the left on the news that the United States and Iran are actually meeting.  We have been hearing all of this time from liberals that, you know, we need to talk to our enemies and we shouldn‘t be so macho and running around juiced up on testosterone, and when are we going to talk to the bad guys?  And now we are.  So aren‘t you happy?

FENN:  Yes.  Absolutely.  We talked about this last week, Tucker.  And I was hoping.

CARLSON:  But not it is actually happening.

FENN:  . that this would happen.  And now I am very happy that at least we have started to talk.  Now we will see what the talks end up with and we will see where it goes, but you know, it sure as heck is better to be talking than not talking. 

ROSEN:  It is, and.

CARLSON:  It is?

ROSEN:  . we should—well, of course it is.  And you know, if you can find narrow agenda with Iran on the subject of Iraq, that is a start.  But I think it is also worth noticing that not only has Secretary Rice decided that she is going to talk to Iran, but she has also decided she is going to talk to Syria. 

And maybe Nancy Pelosi started something productive a few weeks ago on her trip to Syria. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Doesn‘t anybody care that we are actually fighting Iran in this proxy war in Iraq? 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  Well, no.  You know, we have had on and off relations with Iran.  After 9/11 -- actually, I‘m not defending Iran‘s behavior on nuclear weaponry, but after 9/11, they were relatively cooperative with the Taliban.  And then President Bush put them back in the axis of evil with his speech and we went away and now we‘re going back into discussions. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  I don‘t think they are evil because Bush said so.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I think they are kind of evil, actually. 

ROSEN:  Well, they are, but you know what?  If evil can be help keep evil at bay, that is a good thing for us. 

CARLSON:  I think that is a fair point. 

ROSEN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Thank you both.  Hilary Rosen, Peter Fenn, thanks. 

FENN:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Should the severity of a crime depend upon the race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation of its victim?  The House of Representatives says yes.  A debate on the need for hate crimes legislations is coming up. 

And Willie Geist follows that with a report on the event the world has awaited, Trump: the next generation.  Is it upon us?  Are we ready?  Full analysis only on MSNBC, the place for Willie Geist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Is it morally worse to hurt a gay person than a straight person, a black man than a white man?  That is what the Democratic Congress now says.  We will debate it next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  A sweeping hate crimes bill has sailed through the Democratically-controlled House.  And even though the president has threatened to veto it. the bill will likely make it through the U.S.  Senate.  That bill would increase the severity of punishment for crimes committed against people because of their race, their religion, religion (sic), color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. 

We may have left a few things out, but that is the basic list.  One of that bill‘s supporters joins me now.  He is Joe Solmonese.  He is president of the Human Rights Campaign. 

Joe, thanks for coming on. 

JOE SOLMONESE, PRESIDENT, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  So here is—my problem with this bill is philosophical.  I‘m against crime—hate crime, any kind of crime as much as anybody is, but why should certain people be protected over and above certain other people? 

SOLMONESE:  You know, it is not about people, it is not  that you are any more or less important than me in the eyes of the law.  It is the act.  If you wake up in the middle of the night and there is a cross is burning on your front lawn, the question I would have for you is, are you going to call the police department or the fire department?

If you call the police department, which is what I would do, and they said to you, Mr. Carlson, there is a fire on front lawn, you ought to call the fire department, what would you say?

CARLSON:  I would say someone has defaced my property, that is a crime.  I mean, that is actually a specious example because as you know, that is a crime prima facie.  Here is my point, you are gay, I‘m not.  If you are hurt, it is under this law, a greater offense than if I‘m hurt.  That suggests that you are somehow above me in the eyes of the law.  And you are not. 

SOLMONESE:  What this law says is.

CARLSON:  Well, is that true, though?  It is true. 

SOLMONESE:  No.  What this law says is if I‘m hurt and there is evidence that I am hurt or I am a victim of a hate-motivated crime because I‘m gay, that there are federal resources available to local law enforcement to investigate that crime that have not traditionally been... 

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second, my family cares every bit as much about me being hurt as yours does about you being hurt.  But you—your crime gets more resources than mine just because you are gay?  How does that work?

SOLMONESE:  Because, you know, laws are made in this country to address problems.  And there is a huge amount of evidence that there are crimes committed against gay people because of who they are.  And if you were the local chief of police in a lot of towns in this country, this would not be a problem. 

But you are not.  And a lot of times the local chief of police looks at a crime committed against me versus a crime committed against you and says, I‘m going to react to those crimes differently.

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, that is an entirely separate question.  I mean, whether—if you think police departments are not taking enough time or using enough resources to follow up on crimes then I think we should address it, that is an outrage.  And if you think gay people are being discriminated against in crimes, then I think that that is an absolutely fair subject of study and response. 

But you are saying.

SOLMONESE:  Well, what about the hate crimes law.

CARLSON:  . that a crime against you is worse than a crime against me.  And I‘m telling you that in the eyes of God and the federal government, we are the same.  We ought to be equal and you are trying to change that.  And that is morally wrong. 

SOLMONESE:  So are you saying the hate crime statute in 1968 ought to be wiped out?  Or the arson against churches or any observation that there is a something more at work there.

CARLSON:  I‘m saying that all people.

SOLMONESE:  . ought to be eliminated.

CARLSON:  . ought to be—all people ought to be equal in the eyes of the law.  We are equal.  We are both citizens.  You are not better than I am.  I am not better than you are.  When you are shot, it is every bit as big a deal as when I am shot and no bigger.  We are the same.  And you are trying to say no, it is more important when I am shot, more important than when you are shot.  And I think that that is immoral. 

SOLMONESE:  No, I agree with you.  I‘m saying that were it the case that the rest of the country felt that way or that local law enforcement were able to respond to those crimes in the same way, or chose to respond to those crimes in the same way.  And they don‘t. 

CARLSON:  No, but you are talking simply about response to crimes. 

You are saying that the punishment should be harsher. 

SOLMONESE:  No, no, no, no.  We are talking about.

CARLSON:  Yes. 

SOLMONESE:  . the response to crime.

CARLSON:  No.  This bill, as far as I understand it, a hate crimes bill.

SOLMONESE:  Have you read the bill?

CARLSON:  No.  Hate crimes—let me put it this way, the bill doesn‘t exist—the law doesn‘t exist yet, because it hasn‘t gone to conference.  What I‘m saying... 

SOLMONESE:  But the bill says.

CARLSON:  . is that hate crimes legislation around the country increases the penalty for people who commit crimes based on.

SOLMONESE:  Look, this bill does not talk about penalties.  This bill is talking about federal law enforcement being able to respond to and investigate and help local law enforcement.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Getting more resources. 

SOLMONESE:  Right.

CARLSON:  Suggesting that you are more important than I simply because of who you sleep with or your sexuality or your color or your religion.  And isn‘t that exactly what we want to get away from?

SOLMONESE:  It is in no way says that you—that I am more important than you.

CARLSON:  Yes it does.  You are getting more money.  Your family gets.

SOLMONESE:  No.  It addresses that there is a history of crimes being committed against me that may not be being committed against you. 

CARLSON:  Not against you, against people who are like you.

SOLMONESE:  Or members of my community, right.  You know, there are 10,000 hate crimes a year. 

CARLSON:  Well, I just think that that.

SOLMONESE:  One in six are against people based on their sexual orientation and what this bill does is it says that those crimes ought to be investigated in the same way. 

CARLSON:  No.  With more, more money, more resources.  You get more than I do simply... 

SOLMONESE:  Not necessarily.

CARLSON:  ... because of your sexual orientation.  And I just—you don‘t think that is unfair?

SOLMONESE:  I think what it does is it says that when a law is created to address a problem, and if there were incidents—you know, why are we not trying to protect people with red hair or left-handed people from hate crimes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I think we should protect all people, all people regardless.  I don‘t care who you sleep with, what your color is, we ought to protect you.  That is my feeling.  Joe Solmonese, doing a good job defending something I passionately disagree with, but I appreciate your coming on.  Thank you.

SOLMONESE:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Conducting a war may not exactly be this president‘s strength, but he showed yesterday he sure can conduct an orchestra.  Willie Geist will tell us what prompted him to do so.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Frequent viewers of this show will notice that Willie Geist was not with us on Friday.  And some of you may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms right now.  Here he is, the man you have been waiting for, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  You get the shakes and the chills, don‘t you, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  You are bad. 

GEIST:  You have got to have it.  You have got to have your fix. 

CARLSON:  I was speaking for some of our viewers, actually. 

GEIST:  You know what, the other day, Tucker, I was walking down the street in New York and I passed by Donald J. Trump Jr.  Little did I know that one day later, he and his wife would make The Donald a grandfather.  Donald J. Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa had a little baby girl on Saturday.  She actually went into labor during a fundraiser somewhere. 

So The Donald has passed on to the next generation.  I‘m just glad that junior resisted the temptation to name it Donalda or something like that.  But I‘m sure once a boy comes along, it will have to be Donald III, I‘m guessing. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I think it will have to be.  By the way, I think that is Larry King in that salmon V-neck sweater, by the way in that video we just saw. 

GEIST:  (INAUDIBLE) came over from Nate‘n Al‘s for the ceremony. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.

GEIST:  Well, Tucker, unless there is a dramatic breakthrough soon in my ongoing negotiations with the governor‘s office to keep Paris Hilton out of jail, Paris will be slipping on the prison stripes and checking into the gray bar motel three weeks from tomorrow.  Luckily she will have the strength and counsel of Tori Spelling‘s mom to guide her. 

For reasons that remain a mystery, Candy Spelling has written an open letter to Paris.  It reads in part: “As the real possibility of jail approaches, whether it is 21 days or 45 or whatever the latest report is, it is time to get real.  It is time to find a Paris somewhere between heiress and a character on “The Simple Life.”

Spelling also mysteriously wrote an open letter to Larry Birkhead a few months ago telling him how to handle celebrity despite the fact that she is not one.  Meanwhile another celebrity heiress had some tough words for Hilton.  Patty Hearst, seen in these pictures robbing a bank with an automatic weapon in 1974, says she feels bad for the inmates who will have to serve with Paris. 

Hearst, who also did time for the bank robbery says, quote: “45 days with Paris Hilton seems like cruel and unusual punishment to me.” Tucker, I think Patty Hearst may not want to saddle up on that high horse considering she kidnapped herself and robbed banks.  So she might want to relax a little bit.

CARLSON:  She is so awful.  I think she has been pardoned twice by Carter and Clinton.  And she is obnoxious.  But you know, I must say, I agree—I think I sort of agree with her. 

GEIST:  No, I kind of agree there, too. 

CARLSON:  For once.

GEIST:  And also, why Candy Spelling now the self-appointed fairy godmother of Hollywood?  She is telling everyone how to live their lives. 

CARLSON:  So great, though.  I‘m so glad she is. 

GEIST:  Very great.  Go Paris. “Brokeback Mountain,” Tucker, the Oscar-winning movie about a pair of gay cowboys, is still making people uncomfortable.  An eighth grade student from Chicago is now suing the board of education there for half a million bucks after she was shown “Brokeback” in class.  The girl and her family say she suffered $500,000 worth of psychological damage when her class was forced to watch the movie. 

She says she was traumatized by the film and now has had to undergo counseling since she saw it.  This is a very dangerous precedent I think this sets, Tucker.  Because if you can sue because you don‘t like a movie or it makes you feel bad, that is—Keanu Reeves‘ entire catalog is really in trouble.  You know what I mean?  The studios are going to go out of business. 

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree with you more, although I am in therapy, too, for even watching the trailers for “Brokeback Mountain,” I will be honest.

GEIST:  Did you see the movie, “Brokeback”? 

CARLSON:  No.  No, I‘m not a big movie guy. 

GEIST:  OK.  You would have sued, I have a feeling. 

CARLSON:  Definitely. 

GEIST:  Finally, Tucker, President Bush was at a ceremony yesterday to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown.  When the band broke into “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the president just couldn‘t help himself.  He stole the baton from the conductor, pushed her aside, and led the orchestra spiritedly.  Look at him move there. 

The conductor said afterward, quote: “The president conducted with a great deal of panache.” Tucker, every time we see a moment like this, we just wish this was all President Bush did.  Keep him throwing out first pitches at ballgames, running the old Easter egg roll out on the lawn, stuff like this.  He would be a great president if that is all he had to do.  Because he is good at that kind of stuff. 

CARLSON:  Honestly, I think it is almost worth going through a year-and-a-half of hell, the primaries, the nominating convention, the general, just to be able to do that, that is a secret fantasy of mine. 

GEIST:  To conduct the orchestra? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I think I would be good at it. 

GEIST:  We will make a few calls, see what we can‘t do for you. 

CARLSON:  Maybe I wouldn‘t.  Willie Geist!

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it, Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching as always.  Up next is “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.”  We are back tomorrow.  We will see you then.  Have a great night. 

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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